Drumbeat: November 1, 2010

The impact of peak oil: An alternative view

At the ASPO Conference in early October 2007, Robert Hirsch presented his view of the impact of peak oil on the economy and society. While most of his assertions are readily supportable, the historical record is nevertheless perhaps more nuanced and deserves consideration in thinking about future events.

Green Energy Focus Hurts Fossil Fuel Competition, Saudi Oil Minister Says

Government policy focused on green energy is hurting the competitiveness of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in a speech in Singapore today.

Naimi shifts oil price range up to $70-$90

SINGAPORE - An oil price between $70 and $90 a barrel is a comfortable range for consumers, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Monday, marking a step up from his earlier statements $70-$80 was ideal.

Gulf state-backed oil giants 'need more competition'

The head of the Gulf's largest listed energy company has called for more competition in a market that is dominated by national oil companies (NOCs).

"NOCs need to be subject to competitive challenge," said Ahmed Rashid Al Arbeed who was speaking during the ADIPEC conference in Abu Dhabi.

"They will become better at resource development, better at capital allocation and more efficient in their use of technical and capital resources."

Kuwait seeks to boost non-oil income

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait plans to boost its non-oil income four-fold by the end of a four-year development plan to diversify an economy heavily dependent on oil, a senior government minister said on Monday.

Diesel shortage likely to hit Private Mobile Companies

Imphal (INDIA): With the exception of BSNL, all private mobile phone networks would not be available in the next couple of days as diesel supply to diesel generators of these mobile towers has been ceased since October 29, said the All Manipur Telecom Diesel Fillers' Committee.

The Diesel Fillers' Committee stopped diesel supply to mobile phone towers after police 'illegally' seized 4000 litres of diesel from two individuals from Porompat and Lamlong Keithel who supplied diesel to mobile phone towers.

Hong Kong firms in 9 bln dlr UK power supply deal

A consortium led by Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing said Monday that it has completed a 9.28 billion-dollar takeover of the British power distribution network of French electricity giant EDF.

Yemen's biggest threat

As the international community floods Yemen with millions of counterterrorism dollars, analysts fear the crux of the problem - Yemen's struggling economy - is not receiving the attention it deserves.

Less money for energy assistance this winter

Winter is rapidly approaching and so are higher heating bills. The Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation is getting millions of dollars less than in previous years. Due to budget cuts at the federal and state levels they could run out of money by late November.

With people still out of work, money is still tight. Add to that the ever growing elderly population, it could prove to be a very serious concern for their energy assistance and energy crisis programs.

Gov't silence on oilsands an NEP legacy

Its authors' intentions were well-intentioned, if naive. Reduce Canada's dependence on unstable and expensive sources of foreign oil; foster greater Canadian ownership of the oil and gas industry; promote stable low-priced energy to fuel our economy; and increase federal revenues to reduce the deficit. The NEP was one of those really big policy ideas.

And it was an abject failure on almost every level.

James Schlesinger: The Peak Oil Debate Is Over

Some five years ago in Italy I concluded a talk by saying that like the inhabitants of Pompeii, who ignored the neighboring volcano, Vesuvius, until it detonated, the world ignores the possibility of peak oil at its peril.

Two years ago in addressing ASPO in Cork, Ireland, I argued that the peakists had won the intellectual argument, except for some minor details about precise timing, but that by and large everyone recognized that there were limits on our capacity to increase the production of crude oil as we have steadily since World War Two.

[I also argued] that peakists were no longer a beleaguered minority, that they had won, and that consequently they should be gracious in victory.

Shortage of alternative energy minerals will trigger trade wars

The trend towards alternative energy sources will trigger international trade wars, a Colorado Geological Survey scientist will tomorrow warn the Geological Society of America.

Asia can get US$10 trillion needed for sustainable energy, says ADB

SINGAPORE: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is optimistic that Asia can get the 10 trillion US dollars it needs to finance sustainable energy projects over the next 20 years.

The projects will include more efficient use of coal and oil as well as greater reliance on renewable power sources such as wind and solar energy.

However, ADB said that such projects will need more support from private investors.

Young algae industry getting government push

With a big boost from the government, algae is making headway as a potential replacement for some of the 18 million barrels of crude oil used daily nationwide.

Not only has the federal government invested heavily in the emerging biofuel, but the military has stepped up as a potential customer. Algae biofuel, while still experimental, also is attracting the attention of big oil companies and commercial users including airlines and manufacturers.

SunPower building USAF power plant

SunPower Corp. and Colorado Springs Utilities on Monday announced an agreement to design and build a 6-megawatt solar photovoltaic power system at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Nissan shows tiny electric concept vehicle

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan showed a two-seater electric vehicle resembling a go-cart Monday that isn't ready for sale but spotlights the Japanese automaker's ambitions to be the leader in zero-emission cars.

Nissan Motor Co. is planning to produce 250,000 electric vehicles a year, starting with the Leaf electric car set for delivery in Japan and the U.S. in December, and next year in Europe.

20 reasons for electrifying Wales’ rail lines

As the UK Government considers whether to electrify the railway from Swansea and Bristol to London, transport writer Rhodri Clark argues that electrification of the main line and Valley Lines is justified not by two or three benefits – but 20

Gulf Seafood Is Safe, Officials Say

Extensive testing of Gulf of Mexico seafood by federal scientists has found only minute traces of the dispersant Corexit, which was used to break up oil from the BP spill, officials say. About 1.8 million gallons of dispersant were applied to the waters’ surface and at the wellhead, nearly a mile undersea.

Food Price Increases: The Rising Cost of Survival

It seems to this author that the increase in the price of food is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The real cause of angst is the rising cost of living being felt in developing areas of the world. Many of these people, already living in poverty, and those on poverties edges, are far less capable of absorbing the increased costs of what is really just basic survival for themselves and their families. Yet this is the first group of people who are impacted by the coming unstoppable waves of inflation and real shortages - whether localized or temporary because of supply chain breakages or poor harvests.

Kurt Cobb: Can corporations govern?

In the 1948 Frank Capra film State of the Union aircraft tycoon Grant Matthews is drafted as a candidate for president of the United States. Matthews has never sought office and his popularity stems solely from his business successes and his charismatic and plain-talking speeches. As it becomes clear to Matthews that his self-funded campaign might win him the nomination, he gives in to the corrupting influence of the politicians and party fixers who have recruited him and who now manage his campaign.

Today, the notion that tycoons are corrupted by politicians and not the other way around seems quaint.

Capitalism and the Curse of Energy Efficiency

The curse of energy efficiency, better known as the Jevons Paradox—the idea that increased energy (and material-resource) efficiency leads not to conservation but increased use—was first raised by William Stanley Jevons in the nineteenth century. Although forgotten for most of the twentieth century, the Jevons Paradox has been rediscovered in recent decades and stands squarely at the center of today’s environmental dispute.

The Great Unwashed

Resist the urge to recoil at this swath of society: They may be on to something. Of late, researchers have discovered that just as the gut contains good bacteria that help it run more efficiently, so does our skin brim with beneficial germs that we might not want to wash down the drain. “Good bacteria are educating your own skin cells to make your own antibiotics,” said Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of the dermatology division at the University of California, San Diego, and “they produce their own antibiotics that kills off bad bacteria.”

Some people have long complained that showering too much makes their skin drier or more prone to flare-ups of, say, eczema, and Dr. Gallo said that scientists are just beginning to understand why. “It’s not just removing the lipids and oils on your skin that’s drying it out,” he said. It could be “removing some of the good bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of skin.”

India predicts 40% leap in demand for fossil fuels

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Premier Manmohan Singh told India's energy firms on Monday to scour the globe for fuel supplies as he warned the country's demand for fossil fuels is set to soar 40 percent over the next decade.

The country of more than 1.1 billion people already imports nearly 80 percent of its crude oil to fuel an economy that is expected to grow 8.5 percent this year and at least nine percent next year.

Demand for hydrocarbons -- petroleum, coal, natural gas -- "over the next 10 years will increase by over 40 percent," Singh told an energy conference in New Delhi.

Global energy supplies may not tighten

SINGAPORE - Hopes of new energy supplies such as unconventional gas may help to meet growing demand globally, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday.

"Time and again experts have warned that oil and gas deposits will soon be depleted," he said at the Singapore Energy Summit.

"But such talk of "peak oil" has been proven wrong many times in the past. They may be wrong again."

Natural gas the future of energy: Qatar minister

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Natural gas will become more "desirable" than other sources of energy including renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels, Qatar's energy minister said Monday.

Speaking at an international energy forum in Singapore, Abdulla Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah said he was confident that global natural gas adoption will accelerate mainly because it is cheaper and is more environmentally friendly.

Qatar sees global gas glut ending

Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is on track to reach a capacity of 77 million tonnes per year by this December and expects the global gas glut to end in three years.

Shell says Asia LNG demand growth will absorb supply

(Reuters) - Strong growth in Asian demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be enough to absorb growth in supply, a senior executive at oil major Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday.

Shell primes China shale drilling

Supermajor Shell expects to start drilling in two shale gas blocks in southwestern China at the end of this year or early 2011, according to reports.

Oil rises to near $82 as China manufacturing grows

BANGKOK – Oil prices rose to near $82 a barrel Monday in Asia as regional stock markets jumped on news that growth in Chinese manufacturing picked up pace in October.

Hedge Funds Increase Bullish Bets on Oil to Six-Month High

Hedge funds raised bullish bets on oil to the highest level in more than six months as supplies of gasoline fell, French refinery strikes ended and plants in the U.S. and Europe returned to service.

Saudi Aramco May Raise Crude Prices to Asia on Gain in Refiners' Profits

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest crude exporter, may raise the official selling prices of all of its December-loading supplies to Asia as processing profits for refiners have climbed.

Nigeria may pass oil industry bill by end December

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Nigeria's parliament may pass a Petroleum Industry Bill before the end of December, paving the way for a new exploration licensing round, the country's presidential advisor on energy Emmanuel Egbogah said on Monday.

"It is likely to be passed by the year end," Egbogah told Reuters in New Delhi where he is attending an energy conference.

Ambani's Refinery to Drive Reliance Profit as Gas Output Stalls

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. will rely on the world’s largest oil-refining complex and overseas acquisitions to boost profit after delays in increasing natural-gas production.

China Coal Prices Reach Nine-Month High on Demand for Forecast Cold Winter

Coal prices at Qinhuangdao port, a benchmark for China, rose to the highest in nine months on expectations of a colder-than-usual winter.

Will Oil Production in Argentina Be Able to Follow Brazil?

Argentina is home of some truly impressive untapped onshore oil reserves, but the lack of investment capital has pushed production into a decline. That may turn around soon.

ExxonMobil builds artificial islands to drill in Gulf

ExxonMobil is to use technology developed in the Russian Arctic to boost output from the giant Upper Zakum oilfield, off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

In the Gulf, ExxonMobil's plan to use "extended reach" drilling from four artificial islands purpose-built for use as drilling platforms will allow the total volume of crude recovered from Upper Zakum to reach an exceptionally high 70 per cent of oil in place, while production capacity rises to 750,000 barrels per day (bpd) from about 550,000 bpd.

Exxon, Shell, Oxy Said to Be Shortlisted for Abu Dhabi Shah Gas

Abu Dhabi shortlisted Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Occidental Petroleum Corp. as potential partners to develop the $10 billion Shah natural-gas project, two people familiar with the plan said.

Abu Dhabi Gas Development Co., owned by Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., known also as Adnoc, is pressing ahead with Shah after the original foreign partner, ConocoPhillips, withdrew from the project in April. The people declined to be identified by name because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.

Big Oil wants long-lasting relationship with Abu Dhabi

Executives of international oil companies expect to continue their relationships with Abu Dhabi beyond the expiry in the next few years of the emirate's biggest oil concessions.

Unconventionals boost Baker Hughes

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported a surge in quarterly profit that beat analysts' estimates largely on strength in unconventional oil and gas drilling in key North America basins.

Turkey set for $1bn Black Sea spend

Turkey expects to spend more than $1 billion on exploration in the Black Sea next year, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

China, Russia oil pipeline starts trial operation

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- Russia's crude oil started flowing into China through a pipeline linking Russia's far east to China's northeast as the two countries began testing the pipeline Monday evening.

The crude oil will arrive at Mohe at 8 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the first of terminal of the pipeline in China, said an official with China National Petroleum Corp., the operator of the Chinese branch of the pipeline.

Anyone Want to Help Build a Reactor?

A partnership between Constellation Energy and Electricité de France to build a new reactor in Maryland has broken up, with Constellation concluding that the economics are unfavorable because of electricity market conditions and the terms demanded by the Energy Department for a loan guarantee.

But Electricité de France wants to go forward and has bought out Constellation’s share of the joint venture, Unistar Nuclear. The problem is that American law requires that the plant have an American partner as a majority owner. Whom could the company recruit?

Bacteria Can Build Better Roads for Our Peak Oil Years

Given that we are at, or nearly at, Peak Oil, it stands to reason that the costs associated with building roads are increasing, and that government can no longer afford to maintain their road systems. Now, a new method of producing asphalt is being developed to counter these effects.

The technique is critical for avoiding the fate of roads in the Roman Empire, which were left to decay into mud tracks once Rome did not have enough money to support their maintenance.

Wider Highways Just Bring More Traffic

"The simple truth is that building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, it actually increases traffic. This revelation is so counterintuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse."

It is counterintuitive. You'd think that more space would alleviate the traffic. And it would, if the same number of cars used the road after it was widened. But of course that is not what happens. The temporary relief induces more cars to use the road, hence the term "induced traffic," and invites the development of more subdivisions and strip malls near the highway. So, the road fills up again, giving rise to the adage that widening highways to solve congestion is like loosening your belt to solve obesity.

Chic or Geek: Is an Electric Car for You?

Los Angeles is a city where what you choose to drive often defines your very existence. It's a place where solar panels on the roof – which I have – or driving a hybrid – which I do – is an act that could easily send you from borderline chic to borderline geek.

Maybe it is geeky to admit publicly that I have spent hours scouring eBay and Craigslist looking for an affordable used electric RAV4, or a cast-off electric pick-up truck. But the options are pretty slim if you want to drive an electric vehicle (or EV) that does not pollute.

Population drop-off vexes Maine residents

CAMDEN, Maine — Trendy Brevetto Kitchen & Wine Bar is bustling on a recent Thursday, but not with a typical happy hour crowd. Less rowdy and mostly professional, the men and women wearing name tags are not here to hook up but link up.

They're members of Midcoast Magnet, one of several regional groups working to halt a population slide in one of the USA's most picturesque states.

Palanivel: Rainforest Not Being Converted Into Oil Plantations

KUALA LUMPUR: Allegations that rainforest land in Malaysia is being converted into oil palm plantations is not true, says Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Senator Datuk G. Palanivel.

"The truth is oil palm planted areas still remain well within the allotted area of six million hectares designated for agriculture and tree plantations under the Third National Agricultural Plan. The forest area includes areas reserved as national parks and sanctuaries for biodiversity conservation and this accounts for a forest tree cover of over 80 per cent of the land area of 32.86 million hectares in Malaysia," he said when officiating the International Conference on Climate Change, Agriculture and Related Trade Standard here today.

'Global warming likely to bring more floods, droughts in Pak'

Karachi: The recent floods in Pakistan were due to global warming and a change in extreme weather conditions, which may cause more floods and droughts in the country in future, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Pakistan Coordinator Nasir Panhwar has said.

Panhwar emphasized that deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, unplanned development in coastal areas and misuse of natural resources were some of the factors causing climate changes.

US Tea Party's Deep Ties to Oil Sands Giant

The Tea Party movement, poised to help shift the U.S. legislature to the right and stymie President Obama's green agenda, has financial and organizational ties to Koch Industries, one of America's biggest processors of Alberta oil sands crude.

Should California Voters Repeal State Efforts to Curb Greenhouse Gases?

The fight over the state's controversial Proposition 23 culminates November 2, when voters decide whether to proceed with efforts to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

Carbon Price Must Rise to $175 a Ton to Halve Emissions, IEA's Tanaka Says

The price of carbon dioxide must rise to $175 a metric ton in order to halve global emissions by 2050, the head of the International Energy Agency said.

The European emissions trading program, the world’s largest carbon market, isn’t providing a reliable guide on the cost of pollution to promote more investment in renewable energy and other emission-cutting technologies, Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the Paris-based agency, said in an interview in Singapore today.

In this remote town in Mali, climate change takes on a sinister reality

The debate around Africa and aid will shift from charity and post-imperial responsibility to seeking environmental justice.

Farms lack $blns for food supply, environment: FAO

MILAN (Reuters) - World agriculture urgently needs billions of dollars in additional annual investment to boost output and reduce its negative impact on the environment, the United Nations' food agency said on Thursday.

Farms need to increase output by 70 percent by 2050, when global population is expected to rise to 9 billion from the current 6.7 billion, and at the same time reduce their environmental footprint.

Agriculture, especially in developing countries, needs $30-100 billion a year from 2010 to 2050 to meet these challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said, citing various estimates.

Re: India predicts 40% leap in demand for fossil fuels

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Premier Manmohan Singh told India's energy firms on Monday to scour the globe for fuel supplies as he warned the country's demand for fossil fuels is set to soar 40 percent over the next decade.

The country of more than 1.1 billion people already imports nearly 80 percent of its crude oil to fuel an economy that is expected to grow 8.5 percent this year and at least nine percent next year.

This is truly beyond the pale! These people actually have all the information they need to conclude that this is a patently ridiculous assertion, yet they continue to be unable to properly frame the problem at hand and they do not comprehend the implications of the inside-outside view of the planning fallacy.


Edge Master Class 07
Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, CA, July 20-22, 2007

KAHNEMAN: There are also many difficulties in determining the reference class. In this case, the reference class is pretty straightforward; it's other people developing curricula. But what's psychologically interesting about the incident is all of that information was in the head of the Dean of the School of Education, and still he said two years. There was no contact between something he knew and something he said. What psychologically to me was the truly insightful thing, was that he had all the information necessary to conclude that the prediction he was writing down was ridiculous.

COMMENT: Perhaps he was being tactful.

KAHNEMAN: No, he wasn't being tactful; he really didn't know. This is really something that I think happens a lot—the outside view comes up in something that I call ‘narrow framing,' which is, you focus on the problem at hand and don't see the class to which it belongs. That's part of the psychology of it. There is no question as to which is more accurate—clearly the outside view, by and large, is the better way to go.

We all need to do a much better job at rational thought, if we could only just do that much we might be able understand that the exponential function works the same way in India or China or Kansas...


I'm not sure that India couldn't increase fuel consumption by 40% in a decade. It would still have a tiny per capita oil consumption, and a huge budget surplus. I doubt China can increase consumption by 40%, it is already too developed.

For oil, a 40% increase in consumption from India would be less oil than the 10% decrease we have seen in the US this last couple of years.

India will be hit hard when their turn comes, but it may not be just yet.

BP shows Chindia's net oil imports increasing at 8.5%/year from 2005 to 2009 (from 5.2 mbpd to 7.3 mbpd). For what it's worth, at this rate of increase, their combined net oil imports in 2020 would be approaching 19 mbpd. Their combined net oil imports, expressed as a percentage of total global net oil exports, went from 11% in 2005 to 17% in 2009.

Regarding Chindia vs. OECD countries and the global supply of oil exports, I'm reminded of the old joke about the two lawyers and the bear. They are out in the woods looking for accident victims and they see a bear approaching. One of them takes out his running shoes and starts putting them on. The other lawyer tells the first lawyer that he can't outrun the bear; the first lawyer says, "I don't have to outrun the bear; I just have to outrun you."

My point was more about the unsustainability of an 8.5 to 9% growth rate year after year. They may be able to increase their oil consumption by 40% for a year or two but they won't be able to sustain that growth rate. Neither will China.

So what do you think they should do? They will try to grow their economy for as long as it is possible.

It seems to me that -at least presently- a lot of the growth in Chindia is coming from exports to OECD countries.

Real resource constraints will mean higher prices that will collapse our economies and cause these mostly export-orientated Nations to also crash.

At some point in the next couple of decades we will have a PeakOil Depression similiar to the 1930s caused not by protectionism of home industries but sheer lack of ability to purchase any of this stuff. It will be a demand side crunch, 'Our' credit rating will be toast so more debt won't save us no matter how cheap the FED/Central Banks try and make it -they will be pushing on a string...

China may implode at this point, civil unrest would be great as hundreds of millions go without jobs. Efforts to induce economic growth would likely simply create Inflation as the underlying cause is a lack of energy not circulating money, currencies would be substantially devalued as Nations 'race to the bottom'. We are seeing some of this now.

This is where strong resource Nationalism and Conflict may come into the picture, when Governments realise that they have to 'transition' (i.e. build up new energy sources) quickly and that the only way they can do so is by having large amounts of resources they don't already own.

Imagine if the current situation wrt. REEs (Rare Earth Elements) where being played out against a backdrop where the Chinese where the only Nation to posses this key strategic resource...


I'm not sure that India couldn't increase fuel consumption by 40% in a decade.

My reaction was relief, thats a lot smaller number than I would have expected. Of course if FF prices skyrocket due to global scaricty, this number might be scaled back. That is certainly smaller than China's rate of increase (at least of oil), from a much higher base.

It's got that Rocky/Bullwinkle line rolling through my head,

"Watch me pull a rabbit out of my Hat!"

..From their lips to God's ears..

Just to compare, China's coal consumption rose 167% between 2000 and 2009 according to EIA:

2000: 1,239,407 Thousand Short Tons
2001: 1,303,372 + 5.2%
2002: 1,443,031 +10.7%
2003: 1,746,426 +21.0%
2004: 2,200,081 +26.0%
2005: 2,403,503 + 9.2%
2006: 2,535,823 + 5.5%
2007: 2,705,974 + 6.7%
2008: 2,829,515 + 4.6%
2009: 3,308,653 +16.9%

Chart from The Chinese Coal Monster

China needs to switch from coal to Uranium. They currently have 12 nuclear reactors with 24 under construction. A fraction of what the US has (104).

I presume that nearly all of India's new energy would be coal. See Gregor MacDonald's presentation from the ASPO-USA conference (video, presentation). Since India doesn't currently use much oil, the issue is not as much substitution, but how to build more infrastructure. India can theoretically do like China, and build using coal.

Coal is not the option.Indian coal quality is"junk".It is mostly dust.The power plants in India are fitted with special "washeries" to clean(with water,in a water scarce nation) off this dust so that it can be used.More than 50% of the power plants work on critical level of stocks through out the year usually 4-5 days backup.Also all the coal deposits are in the area now totally under the control of the Maoists and they now decide(unofficially) where the coal goes.India is currently importing coal from Australia and South Africa but these are old contracts and agreements .There current efforts to source further have been ambushed by the chinese who have bought the suppliers outright or locked on supplies at higher prices in "scorched earth" policy.As to importing more oil I have my doubts if they have the financial muscle to do that in the future.The Indian economic system hides a lot of hidden subsidies in fuel and food which are now starting to trouble the finance ministry.With climate change it is only one bad monsoon away from food shortages.It is in overshoot so in my opinion the growth rate is not sustainable.

They are going to "scour" the globe. Why didn't someone else think of that before? Message to India. The globe has been scoured. So save your pads.

India's oil consumption is around 3 million barrels per day. A 40% increase is just another 1.2 million barrels per day. That additional oil could easily come from demand destruction in OECD countries. I suppose if you were the PM of India you would give the following speech:
"My fellow citizens, since peak oil has occurred, we should not aspire to grow our economy, reduce our poverty, build good infrastructure and raise our standard of living. The 40% of you who are not yet connected to the grid should not aspire for artificial lighting. We should accept poverty, squalor and stagnation while our giant neighbor to the north continues to grow by burning fossil fuels and is building a very powerful military. If we fail to industrialize while our nuclear armed neighbor does we may end up like Tibet; in that case we should just accept it as our karma. Let us reduce or freeze our fossil fuel consumption so that wealthy westerners have more opportunities to make movies like Slumdog Millionaire that win Oscars by highlighting our poverty. Please vote for me in the next election"

"My fellow citizens, since peak oil has occurred, we should not aspire to grow our economy, reduce our poverty, build good infrastructure and raise our standard of living.

It doesn't follow that because it is impossible to maintain growth that they should not aspire to raising their standard of living, reducing poverty and building good infrastructure. They, like all of us, need to find ways of achieving all of the above without economic growth based on the continued exploitation of non renewable resources, as we have known it up until now.

Unless that becomes the goal of all currently existing societies on our pale little blue dot we may as well just start nuking each other now and get it over with.

Continued growth on a planet with finite resources is unsustainable, that which is not sustainable, will not, by definition, be sustained. Why is this simple concept so darn difficult to understand?!

So you tell me, do you prefer a rational path to a sustainable civilization or should we just fire off those nukes?

While I'd prefer the sustainable path for India (and all peoples), the reality of contemporary Indian politics is to ignore the poverty and pretend that growth of the middle class advances the nation as a whole.

The same applies to our own situation here in the US and just about everywhere in the entire world. Sustainability is not a preference it is the only option! Not that I'm very optimistic that it will actually be achieved. Not too many people seem to get it...

I don't know what you are talking about. There are no poor people in the US. We're all middle class here and continued economic growth will save us. ;-)

I see some people getting it. But they aren't the normal people you see on the street corners, they are people that don't talk about it as much as we here do. I am both positive and negative about it, a doomer one day and bright and shiny the next. I guess at times like this, poli-tic-critters can't say the truth for fear of not getting in office, or because their handlers tell them the shut up about it.

On the ground there are people doing things like the story up top about the Great unwashed, where they don't bath as much as they used too, that is saving some water, more than it might have done.

Fads like that have positive affects in time.

I save water because I know I must, or else, yet in balance every ounce I save is wasted by others it seems.

But I have knowledge and no fear, and when they can't get the water to come out of the tap they will have fear first, knowledge second, if at all.

India, can't get out of the hole it is in, unless they try, even if they fail, they see trying as better. There was a TED talk about how some places in India have better water catchment systems than most of the US in compariable climates. I don't have a link to it, but it was neat watching how they have been collecting water in that region for over 400 years the same way.

per capita they aren't nearly as wasteful as americans. Although I have a feeling americans are going to be learning from the vast sea of unemployed how to not waste things, maybe that is a good sign of this whole mess.

Charles, BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.

While I'd prefer the sustainable path for India (and all peoples), the reality of contemporary Indian politics is to ignore the poverty and pretend that growth of the middle class advances the nation as a whole.

What, are you implying that 1.1 billion Indians attaining a Western lifestyle is not possible? You should hang out at the AEI and Heritage Foundation more often.

Maybe 1.1 billion Indians cannot attain a western lifestyle. But with economic growth perhaps 300 million of them can and another 500 million can be lifted out of extreme poverty.

Yes I suppose if you are dead you are no longer living in extreme poverty.

Maybe 1.1 billion Indians cannot attain a western lifestyle. But with economic growth perhaps 300 million of them can and another 500 million can be lifted out of extreme poverty.

Economic "growth" absent a dramatic reversal of population growth will lift *some* Indians out of extreme poverty (though 300-500 million is a little suspect in the era of declining resources & ecosystem decline). Unfortunately, attaining that middle class Western lifestyle means increasing the already unsustainable draw-down of finite natural resources, and driving many species to extinction (including our own?) that much faster as well.

On the other hand, if India were to adopt a one-child (or no child?) policy + renewable energy + sustainable farming practices, they could achieve that lifestyle for *all* their citizens a whole lot faster, and with far less environmental damage.

Or on the flip side, get rid of anyone over the age of say 55? since they are physically spent? and continue to pop out more babies. Old people are overrated.

That's not likely to make much difference. The demographics of developing nations tend to skew young. There aren't that many old people to get rid of.

Old people are also past their childbearing years, so don't have much impact on birthrate.

Are you saying young kids use a lot of resources? Tend to skew young? So there are no old people to eliminate? I see them all over. Kids are way better then old people. Old people are boring and mean. Young kids smile and laugh.

My Mom I Shot - aka Forever Young.

We're talking about India, right?

The average age there is much younger than here in the US, as with many developing countries.

I remember going to a developing country in Asia when I was 14, and being bemused to find I was "middle-aged" there. There were about as many people younger than me as older.

As for resource use...if you want to reduce resource use, you should eliminate women of childbearing years or younger. That will reduce population far more quickly than eliminating older people, or males.

As for resource use...if you want to reduce resource use, you should eliminate women of childbearing years or younger. That will reduce population far more quickly than eliminating older people, or males.

This is what China has managed to do by their government one child policy of nearly 30 years, coupled with a culture of male child preference, leading to a population imbalance.

I am waiting to hear of a change of policy as the reality of the drop in fertile females drops. I do not have any numbers but I believe the western post war baby boom followed by a lowering fertility rate will pail into insignificance once the Mao baby boom followed by the Deng Xiaoping one child policy works its way through the system, 10 to 20 year behind the west.

As the Chinese say, "may you live in interesting times"

I think it is already happening:




There's a theory that this is actually the reason so many cultures value boys over girls: it makes female infanticide more acceptable. The birth control of the ancient world.


Thanks for the references, it seems as though my thoughts and observations are not too far off the track.

The main reason for the male preference in China is traditionally when the female married she went to the husbands family and would basically look after the in-laws during their declining years. Therefore no sons means no daughter-in-law, no retirement plan.

I Shot, Or whatever your name is supposed to mean, The syntax is not out of reach of my humor, but as you have not explained your name, I still can't decide which form of it I like better.

Old people usually have wisdom that young people lack. Just going out and blanket killing them or otherwise getting rid of them, will mean that the young folks are going to have to do a lot of re-learning what they just killed off( Knowledge ).

My dad when he was still working full time could out pace anyone, even other people that did the same types of jobs that he did. If the company he was working for had not failed, he'd still be working.

I know a guy at church that retired from his job at 92.

People older than me have jumped on you enough. Maybe next time you should put a smiley face on your comments, or something. That is of course if you mean them as humorous, or snarky. If not, then prepare to get jumped on by folks who will disagree with your thoughts, or clap your shoulder when they like them.

But the age comment did not garner you many followers. Fair warning.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world, with all sorts of age groups.

I am going on 47, just so you know.

Charles there is a guy at work who is 74. He was sad the other day that his younger brother had died! This idiot drives about 30 miles total to commute. Don't these nutters get it? If he wants exercise grow veg, move near shops etc. No wonder there is massive labour surplus among the young. As a 45 yr old I can say that there is nothing I can do better from this day forward than in my youth. Experience is worth a lot, but we probably overrate it since it's all we can offer. On the other hand, I do have a lifetimes worth of engineering 'stuff'. The trick is hanging on to it..

As a 45 yr old I can say that there is nothing I can do better from this day forward than in my youth.

Really? That's a bummer, feel sorry for ya son! As for me there are all kinds of things that I started to learn at around 45 and now that I'm almost 58 I can do do them much better.

Youth culture is what I think is way overrated...

It seems that countries like the USA have this thing about the old being worthless. Go to many lesser nations and the old folks are revered as the wise leaders. The attitude in places like the USA needs to be turned around.


"Old people are overrated." Like to have you try to follow my old geezer day. Most young folks I see can't get out of their own way, let alone, dig gardens, chop wood, clear fields, etc. Let me watch you haul around a stihl 028 for 8 hours a day for 3 or 4 weeks straight, cutting firewood then I might listen to your opinion about old people.

Don in Maine

And you use a maul to split all that wood too, eh? HAHAHAhAHAhahahahah ahahahahaha Say "Ayuh" to Hotrod and Jimmy for me.....

Actually I do. Axe, maul and wedges, very simple and effective.

Don in Maine

Exactly, I can't understand all this business about needing gas to split wood. A good maul will last a lifetime, you just need to change the handle now and again and the head from time to time.


What in the hell are you laughing at? (The 'Ayuh' should tell me enough.. but courtesy demands it..)

I wouldn't be caught dead without a good set of splitting tools.

I just started dragging pallettes home today.. nice bone dry hardwood.. and was wondering how I'd saw them, but a couple axe-blows here and there, and they just come right apart!


Wipe your nose son, you really need to pay your dues and prove you are worth your salt. I'm going to be 58 soon and I'll bet most 25 year olds couldn't keep up with me physically during my normal daily routine. Think you could join me on a kayak dive in moderate seas? How about a 24 mile paddle in rough seas? A 60 Km bike ride? leisurely 10 mile walk in the Florida sun?

Old people are overrated.

Perhaps, but I think until you reach 55 you haven't yet acquired much wisdom... so as far as I'm concerned it's youth that's overrated!

It takes wealth to build infrastructure and raise people out of poverty. Economic growth increases wealth of nations. In today's world, at least in countries like India, you have to burn fossil fuels to create wealth.

If it is possible to create and sustain economic growth without burning fossil fuels then let the wealthy and advanced nations do it first and set an example for others.

So you tell me, do you prefer a rational path to a sustainable civilization or should we just fire off those nukes?

The rational thing for any nation to do is to make their economy and military as strong as possible. Otherwise they are going to be at the mercy of other more powerful nations who have no qualms about burning fossil fuels to industrialize. Tibet was a "sustainable civilization" at the time of Chinese invasion. Today Tibet no longer exists as a separate nation. Tibetans are now a minority in Lhasa. Indians don't want to end up like Tibet or Iraq. QED.

Would you prefer to end up dead instead? Because that's where we are headed.

As FMagyar says might as well fire off the nukes now and get it over with. Perhaps that is "the plan".

Not sure what your point is. If I was running India or China or living there I would want the economy to grow. I would see that as a way to reduce poverty and make my nation strong and powerful. Perhaps peak oil or climate change will cause mass deaths; perhaps it will not! Either way there is no point in sacrificing economic growth today for a disaster which may or may not occur in the future and over which you have no control anyway. If India reduces its fossil fuel consumption, some other country will consume more. Either way the CO2 is released in the atmosphere. In the meantime the nation that grows faster becomes stronger, builds a more powerful military and acquires a seat at the decision making table (IMF, World Bank, UN security council) where the fate of weaker nations is decided.

Nobody wants to fire nukes; where did that come from?

"We should accept poverty, squalor and stagnation while our giant neighbor to the north continues to grow by burning fossil fuels and is building a very powerful military."

Right suyog, without growth no life. For that, something more than fossil fuels is necessary though.

From a news article in 2009:

The crop failures, which took place in the agricultural state of Chattisgarh, was hit by falling water levels. Nearby forest depletion and poorly planned government dam projects contributed to the falling water level. Combined with the vicious money-lending schemes that are prevalent in the region, many farmers felt that death was the only option in the face of insurmountable debt. Suicides by Indian farmers have been an ongoing reality for years.

Not sure what your point is. Are you implying that there would be fewer farmer suicides if the economic growth in India was 3.5% instead of 8.5%?

There is much that is wrong in India. However you are not going to fix it by slowing down the economy.

Not sure what your point is. Are you implying that there would be fewer farmer suicides if the economic growth in India was 3.5% instead of 8.5%?

The farmers blame the coalplants, because they know that coal, climate change, water levels and (water) pollution are linked.

The farmers in India don't blame coal plants. The unsustainable use of ground water in India has nothing to do with CO2 levels in the atmosphere. But either way, even if India sacrifices GDP growth, the coal will be burnt by somebody, somewhere.

Here is a challenge: if it is possible for a country to grow economically(*) by using renewable sources of energy let the wealthy and advanced nations set an example. When North America, EU and Japan get 50% of their energy from renewable sources feel free to lecture developing countries on sustainability.

* - Maybe a wealthy country can live without economic growth. A developing country where millions don't even have sanitation or electricity must pursue economic growth.

if it is possible for a country to grow economically(*) by using renewable sources of energy let the wealthy and advanced nations set an example.

I think this has it backwards. The advanced nations already built up their energy infrastructure (with the wrong stuff btw), rather than abandoning that investment, it makes more sense to put the reneables where the (future) energy growth is, which is the developing countries primarily. Just because we did it wrong, doesn't make it right for them to follow the same foolish path. I do think the wealthy nations should help the developing nations do this (it is in both our interests to do so). Primarily this would be by not gouging them when we export our fancy high-tech renewable technology to them. The proper order for renewables is to replace not yet built generation first, then to start to replace the old junk later. The world ought to be able to figure out how to do that, without getting all tied up in hollier than thou silliness.

The farmers in India don't blame coal plants.

I did see that on t.v. though. Some said that the coalplants are killing them. And literally also.

The unsustainable use of ground water in India has nothing to do with CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

I didn't meant wateruse. Climate change because of rising CO2 levels. More droughts, etc.

"Before, a bad year would lead to a good year," said Bharat Dogra, a fellow at New Delhi's Institute of Social Sciences specializing in the Bundelkhand region. "Now climate change is giving us seven or eight bad years in a row, putting local people deeper and deeper in debt. I expect the situation will only get worse."


Yesterday (Halloween) i had numerous little goblins and princesses come to the door for their free welfare handouts (Snickers), of which many came by automobile. One little witch jumped out of a back seat of an Expedition (mom was driving)... I'd hate to have to see American kids have to walk so some in third world countries could improve their lives.

I'd hate to have to see American kids have to walk so some in third world countries could improve their lives.

At a current world population growth rate of ~70 million per year (most of that occurring in the Third World, not the admittedly wasteful Western nations), those fat little American scamps would have to walk an awful long way to "improve" anyone's lives in poor countries. How about the encouraging poor overpopulated nations to measurably and dramatically improve their own lot by having fewer kids?

Oh, right, I forgot... any Westerner advocating for smaller families in the overpopulated third world = "Nazi eugenics" and is inherently racist and fascist. My bad.

It may be not be fascist, but from their side of it, it seems rather unfair.

Six Mongolian kids living in a tent and burning wood have a much lighter footprint than one American kid living in a McMansion and riding in an SUV.

What’s Your Consumption Factor? By Jared Diamond

TO mathematicians, 32 is an interesting number: it’s 2 raised to the fifth power, 2 times 2 times 2 times 2 times 2. To economists, 32 is even more special, because it measures the difference in lifestyles between the first world and the developing world. The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world. That factor of 32 has big consequences.


I appreciate the fact you provided a useful statistic c/o Jared Diamond to support your point. I also freely acknowledge that Westerners as a group (and Americans in particular) are very wasteful with natural resources. Nonethless, who here on this blog would willingly volunteer to trade places with an African Bushman? Who would prefer the lifestyle of your average Sudanese farmer to that of a middle class American?

Even when you eliminate as much waste as possible, there is a reason *why* a Western lifestyle is so energy and resource intensive and is likely to remain so: energy and resources provide tremendous comfort and lifestyle options that a traditional pre-industrial lifestyle simply cannot match. As many here have noted before, if the West embarks on ambitions programs to reduce waste, intensively ration and recycle non-renewables, and strategically implements renewable energy, we might reduce that multiplier quite a bit without a massive hit to our S.O.L. Even so, I doubt that multiplier will ever drop to single digits.

For much of the world (including the developing world), intensive use of energy and resources per-capita roughly equates to "quality of life".

It may be not be fascist, but from their side of it, it seems rather unfair.
Six Mongolian kids living in a tent and burning wood have a much lighter footprint than one American kid living in a McMansion and riding in an SUV.


I agree it's "unfair" that Western cultures developed highly advanced technological societies before Asians, Africans, Muslims, South Americans, etc. This still does not change the fact that we have 7 billion people on a planet with resources capable of sustainably supporting perhaps 1/10th that number at a Western lifestyle, or possibly a larger fraction at a reduced material standard of living. It's unfair, but... would you willingly trade places with those Mongolian herdsman? How about your kids' future standard of living?

Personally, I prefer quality of life to quantity, and I wish every country could share in the benefits of high technology and a high material standard of living. I think a true end to poverty and war might finally be possible if every nation agreed to reduce their population sizes to sustainable levels.

I just don't get people who consider any reduction in population to be the END OF THE WORLD (btw, I'm *not* saying your one of them). The world got along just fine (actually much better) when the population was under 500 million, as it was for most of our recorded history. We require people to get a license to operate a car, years of college to perform surgery on other people, but... adding to our already bloated world population? Why, that's a fundamental HUMAN RIGHT! According to most right-wingers and religious fanatics of all stripes, to infringe upon that supposedly God-given right is NAZI EUGENICS and a One-World government conspiracy.

I think it's become clear that telling people whether or not they should have kids doesn't work. This applies whether you want people to have more kids or fewer. In the end, it's always about economics.

Well said. And one of the most effective ways to reduce the number of children per family and expand generational spacing is to increase the complexity of societies, thereby raising the cost of child-rearing and education.

I think it's become clear that telling people whether or not they should have kids doesn't work.

I don't think it's clear at all, because (barring China) most nations haven't even tried it yet. Aside from a few forward thinking academics like Paul Ehrlich, few people in the West even discuss it, much less do anything. Most Western governments and media pretty much ignore population issues, or will only discuss the subject very quietly --off camera.

It seems to me that all the 'living simply' folks in Africa are not 'trading lightly' on their environment.

Desertification of the sub-Sahara...decimation of animals for the bush meat trade...

To the folks who say that lots of people are OK for the environment as long as they live in yurts or mud huts: Please don't say that Africa is better off with the current population than if it were to have 1/4 of its current population...

To the folks who say that lots of people are OK for the environment as long as they live in yurts or mud huts

I don't think anyone's saying that.

Rather, they're saying that people living glass McMansions are in no position to throw stones.

I agree that your interpretation is what some folks say here.

I have also seen sentiments expressed to the effect of my statement.

I completely agree with you that McMansions and folks trick-or-treating in Expeditions is beyond ludicrous and completely unsustainable.

I also happen to think that a much greater number of people harvesting every stick of wood for cooking and heating fires and scouring the countryside for meat is also not sustainable.

The ideal situation would be to have a much lower number of people, each with a considerably lower per person environmental footprint than the typical U.S. citizen.

The ship has sailed on #1, and the privileged ones will go down with the environmental ship attempting to fight to maintain #2.

Not many good options...

Our problem is that the typical US citizen has had almost 200 years of building up going on it their country, all that has embedded a lot of energy and time into the system, that some of us, are trying to not use that often.

The people living off the land, even if they are also killing it by their methods, don't have the history we do. Their energy levels over history has been the yearly solar imput and not much else.

What another poster above said about giving them the cool energy saving tech, and neat ways of doing things first would work.

Why cook with wood if you have a sun shining in the sky, use solar ovens, providing for by richer nations, or charity organizations and rich banks and such. If you have to heat with wood, build better ovens, and stoves, there are methods that use a lot less wood.

If you cut a tree down, plant two more to replace it, or plant 3 more to be on the safe side.

Our problems aren't all cut and dry on the bad side of things, we have the knowledge base to fix some of them, and there are people that are willing to help people get along on a better way of doing things. But we need more people willing to change themselves and willing to help others when they fall down.

Too many NIMBYs and too many ME first you next people for my taste. I am not a saint as far as this is concerned, but I am trying to do things that help others whenever I see them needing a hand up, and I am willing to hold the door for people so they can get there first instead of me.

At select places I play the doorman to Heaven, just to practice being last to get inside where I also want to go. But then I like to chat with people as they move along the long line going inside whereever I play doorman.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

I don't think it's clear at all, because (barring China) most nations haven't even tried it yet.

Could not disagree more.

We have tried it. The "population bomb" was a huge worry in the '60s and '70s, and trying to reduce fertility was a big part of our foreign development policy. We now know quite a bit about what works and what doesn't.

There is also quite a bit of experience on the opposite side: Soviet satellite states such as Romania worried about their dropping birth rates and tried everything from banning birth control to requiring women to have monthly exams (to make sure they didn't get illegal abortions).

Dunno if its true or not, but someone in India told me that government attempts to reduce population growth rates did not work, but "Dallas" did. Even in poor villages, people got to see on the community telly rich americans playing around with somebody else's assigned bedmate with NO KIDS RESULTING. So they associated rich - raunchy- no kids, and started to ask how come. Result- more use of contraceptives.

Sin saves the world.

LOL. I hadn't heard that one.

Knowledge of and access to birth control is certainly part of the picture, but only part of it. Among the factors credited with the slowing worldwide birth rate:

1) Educating and empowering women. Women who get an education tend to have fewer kids, perhaps because marriage is delayed by schooling. Also, there is often a conflict between men and women. Men want more kids, while women, who bear most of the burden of producing and caring for them, want fewer. Women need to feel like they have a right to tell their husbands, "Sorry, oven's closed."

2) Low child mortality, which means sanitation, access to healthcare, and political stability. Parents who are confident their children will live are willing to have fewer of them.

3) Urbanization. Children are necessary free labor on the farm, but a burden in a small city apartment.

Yet, scientists from the Third World, in the late Fifties and Sixties developed the contraceptive Pill, for example:
Sandoval A; Miramontes L; Rosenkranz G; Djerassi C; Sondheimer F. 1953 Journal Of The American Chemical Society 75 (16): 4117-4118 Steroids .69. 19-Nor-Desoxycorticosterone, A Potent Mineralocorticoid Hormone

Miramontes L; Aguinaco P; Romero MA. 1960 Journal Of The American Chemical Society 82(23): 6153-6155 Synthesis of 6-Methyl Steroids

A group of Mexicans, other Latinoamericans and other Scientists working with Syntex, like Carl Djerassi (Indian, the father of the Pill), the uruguayan Zaffaroni and Luis Miramontes, and many others.

They studied the ñame Dioscorea mexicana, rich in diosgenine and found in that a precursor of contraceptive hormones.

These studies had profound social consequences, the liberation of women, and personal control of reproduction.

Technology has certainly had an effect. (Marvin Harris used to say that birth control was the only technology that benefited mankind in the long term.)

But just telling people to use birth control, or even providing it for free, doesn't work. The family planning efforts in the '70s revolved around providing access to birth control, and they weren't terribly effective.

Technology has certainly had an effect. (Marvin Harris used to say that birth control was the only technology that benefited mankind in the long term.)

He is right in the medium term (~50 years), but i doubt that it's true in the long run... Contrazeptives have very bad dysgenetic tendecies in the long run, and that will break our neck at least like oil peak - off course only in the long term (100+ years). The hole moderne "industrial society" kills all natural laws on people (the smarter and better off get more children to maturity). Together with the emancipation off woman (which is a good thing off course - but with some bad consequences) the smarter woman stop producing babies - worldwide, wherelse the impoverish don't. You in the US of A have done something agains with the Clinton Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 - but it's not enough.

The smarter and better off a women, the fewer the children. Think about that. If you belive people are empty leafs at birth and you can make a mathematical proffesor out off every child - than ok, it won't trouble you. But maybe you think different - not so nice - interessting times!


Ah, the old "Marching Morons" theory.

I think the situation is far more nuanced that you imply.

I don't think people are blank slates, but neither do I believe intelligence can easily measured, or selected for in a few generations. My guess is intelligence is half nature, half nurture. There may well be a link between intelligence and fertility, but as your link notes, the correlation was evident before reliable birth control.

And correlation is not causation. Children from large families tend to be less intelligent, but that doesn't mean it's because their parents are dumb. More likely, it reflects the fact that resources (including parental attention) are scarcer. (Which may explain why the "oldest or only" child tends to be so successful. They spent at least part of their childhood in a smaller family than those who have older siblings.)

If the "Marching Morons" idea was true, you would expect IQs to have dropped over the last century. Instead, they have steadily risen.

I don't think that it's a stretch to conclude that a society using birth control will have different selection pressures than a society that is not using birth control, and the genetic makeup of the society will be different because of it.

Even if they chose the same people to mate with, just the fact that they will most likely be older could affect the offspring somewhat.

The mate that a woman chooses at 17 and 31 might be very different people, and this could have long term effects (I don't know what those would be).

The thing is...societies all use birth control, and always have.

Late marriage is a classic way a society slows population growth. It's nothing new.

There is the possibility that hormonal birth control, like the pill, changes the type of man a woman is attracted to (since it mimics pregnancy). But people choosing their own mates is a relatively recent development. Heck, in many societies today, marriage partners are chosen by the parents.

If the "Marching Morons" idea was true, you would expect IQs to have dropped over the last century. Instead, they have steadily risen.

You mean the so called Flynn effect:


That's true of course, but it doesen't represent a gain in the genotypic general factor of intelligenz (g). The reason for the flynn effect is better nutrition in the early years of the child and in the pregnancy, the better-knowing of dangers in pregnancy (before 1970 it was not uncommen do drink and smoke when pregnant), better (and fairer) schools and so on. The gains where mostly at the lower half of the asymtote of the Gaussian distribution. But the effect is vanishing, especially in developed countrys in europe or in the US of A. In developing countrys (like China) it still occurs - which is not a surprise if you know what's really going on behind.

You'r guess for intelligence half nature/half nurture is not so bad. But in fact you get some kind of "framework" from you're parents, which say you can reach max. say 120 IQ. If all is perfect (nutrition, cognitive stimulation...) you will reach that number, but in reality you will always fall behind this number. If you grow up in an american middle class familly you may reach around 110, which is guite good. But if you grow up in the Kalahari desert without a school or even a book, you might well reach only 80 or something like that.

So what? In the first example your genes are really important, however in the second case you can discredit the genes for any significand influence.

It is a clear dysgenetic fertillity trend in all developed countries and also to some (minor) degree in developing countries because of many different reasons (intelligent woman are more likely to make a "career", they fail less often with contraception, their sexual drive is lower...). The next problem is that a society depends heavily on the "super-smart" with IQ>120. Because they make all the new technology which helps use to do the BAU came till now.

Just look some educational books from you're father.

There are technological solutions, even for things like peak oil. But i doubt will will get them and i think that the dysgenic trends are really really dangerous in the long run. I think if you walk with an open eye trough the world, you can see it everywhere - just switch on the TV and zap a little :-)

HARM, If you foot the bill to get me over there, I would consider it for a year. I might learn a lot of new and neat things, as well as get to see snow more often.

But I don't live a middle income lifestyle, unless you consider running water, middle income?

I'll have to get a passport before I go though, that might take some time.

It'll be great for my star watching too, I wonder if I should bring my old telescope? I know I am taking my bookbag, as it always goes on trips with me, it is going to be 30 years old next year. It'd love to go to Mongolia.

But you need to arrange to have one of the herdsmen come take my place so my parents can have someone to take care of them and all, so pick a nice kind one.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.

LOL, Mongolian yurts for everyone!

One little witch jumped out of a back seat of an Expedition (mom was driving)... I'd hate to have to see American kids have to walk

That's sheer insanity! Using an Expedition to take kids trick or treating? We use to walk out of our houses, meet up somewhere, then earn those treats by walking the beat. I guess it's not safe anymore so they stay with the kids, but why not walk with them and leave the car (or should I say small bus) at home?

What's going to happen in years to come when parents cannot afford the fuel for those massive vehicles that supposedly keep their kids safe? "Oh no, we can't let go of our Krakatoa 9.5 litre, 12 cylinder mega-transport Truck - it keeps the kids safe!" In the words of Timothy McVeigh, "Get over it."

"One little witch jumped out of a back seat of an Expedition (mom was driving)"

The end of a civilization ... driving 200 MPH to the edge of the oil cliff in an Expedition on Halloween.

Furthermore, the kids are fat and need more health care. Add that to our problems.

Exercise and commonsense use of oil are still not meeting each other yet in America.

One day it will all make sense.

"Ding-dong, the Hummer is dead, the Hummer is dead, ding-dong the wicked Hummer....er..er is dead !"

Every so often the amazing picture of the person walking their little puppy while driving their big 'ole SUV next to it is put on display on TOD as Exhibit A as to why we're doomed (a viable piece of evidence IMHO).

This seems to be an appropriate point at which to post it - if anyone wants to do the honors... :)

Does anyone know what's up with the International Energy Agency? Their website http://www.iea.org has now been down for at least three days. Now a three day outage on the website of such a major organisation suggests to me massive incompetence at multiple levels within the provision of services - or have they been badly hacked.

Or maybe their generators in Paris have just run out of fuel or perhaps they are on strike?

I suppose they might know something we don't and are all hiding out in underground bunkers :-)

Maybe those socialists don't work on weekends. ;-)

Haven't you heard? They work a 35 hour week in Paris. Not allowed to work more.

I honestly thought they would be back Monday morning at the latest but it is now almost 3pm in Paris and still nothing.

Probably busy trying to work out why WTI jumped $2 in the space of 20 minutes.

It's a public holiday in France, I think (All Saints' Day).

I see someone sent Sarkozy a holiday present

Sarkozy among targets of Athens parcel bombs

AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy was among the intended recipients of four parcel bombs found in Athens on Monday, police said, after one ignited and lightly injured a woman.

...A police spokesman described the affair as "rather ridiculous."

"The incident seems rather ridiculous and in Sarkozy's case it's quite evident that this parcel would never have reached its destination," police spokesman Thanassis Kokalakis told AFP.

"Would never have reached its destination" - well unless French security services take the day off as well :-(

Luckily French News agencies manage to work today. I have never seen the IEA website down before ever - it is normally up even on Christmas day.

Don't worry, they just ran out of data.

Why don't they do what the NOCs do and just make it up?

Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower

The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

A second senior IEA source, who has now left but was also unwilling to give his name, said a key rule at the organisation was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" but the fact was that there was not as much oil in the world as had been admitted. "We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad," he added.

Yes the IEA clearly makes up stuff as well. But it is only following orders apparently and obviously that makes everything fine...

Still as the remaining staff who can hold their noses and continue to pick up their pay are obviously not even competent to run a website, I don't expect to hear much sense from them in the future. Perhaps they should just leave the website offline permanently.

And finally the IEA website comes back online after a 3 day outage. No message on their website about the problem.

Who knew their was cheating going on there at IEA?

hiding the lack of oil supply -- the new economic disaster headed our way.

I thought they were honest like bankers and used car salesmen.

i guess i am naive.


Using Microsoft IIS .. maybe hacked ;)

Hmm, didn't Wikileaks just call for leaks of any confidential oil supply information?

If someone was to get behind the firewalls of the IEA into private emails of senior staff and confidential internal documents that could be "interesting" given what IEA whistle-blowers have said. If evidence was found of hackers on internal servers then pulling all the plugs to the outside world would make sense. Of course I'm just wildly speculating here.

Wonder if they will even tell us what the problem was?

Iran wants higher oil prices in order to maintain supply. I think they are saying that if prices do not rise above the current level then supply will fall.

Iran's Mirkazemi defends OPEC output, but wants higher prices

"If we look at the developments in the past 40 years, we see that the current oil price is not suitable,...

"Security of supply will be the focus of Iran's plans in OPEC... With the help of precise and well-drafted planning Iran will try to defend the rights of producers while it has the the chance for this one-year," Mirkazemi said.

"Usually the consumers take a stand opposite of producers and are concerned about supply security, but for the first time Iran has brought up the issue of security of supply."

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister has talked about "security of demand", meaning they want their customers to stop trying to get off OPEC oil and to insure that OPEC will continue to have a market for their oil. They don't want to be left with a lot of oil they cannot sell when their market disappears. But this is the first time, to my knowledge, that an OPEC nation has shown concern as to whether or not they can come up with enough oil to supply the market.

What Iran is saying here is that they need higher prices, above $80 above a barrel, in order to insure that they can keep up production. Current prices, Iran claims, will not insure investment to produce more oil.

Ron P.

My take on the US inspired sanctions against Iran is that they are designed to strangle the Iranian oil industry.

Iran cannot refine all the needs for its domestic use. That has resulted in rationing of (subsidised) petrol sales. If you want more than your ration, you pay international price. By strangling the oil industry by frightening away overseas oil companies, the sanctions reduce Iranian production, reducing their export earnings, and strangling their economy. Hopefully, leading to social unrest and political overthrow by a pro-Western or at least anti-fundamentalist faction. If this leaves more oil in the ground for when we really need it, so much the better. All this talk about nuclear weapons is just the Iranian WMD. In practice, it just strengthens the regime.

Iranian production has been declining for years. It is not clear if this is a true peak or not. Of course, a higher price is in their favour. Then maybe they could afford to build a refinery to use the sludge they can't sell on the open market.

American incomes post largest drop in 14 months

WASHINGTON — Americans slowed their spending in September to the weakest pace in three months and their incomes fell for the first time in 14 months.

OTOH, the ISM manufacturing index came in better than expected.

Dow up 100 points.

It is interesting to speculate how much weakness in the U.S. economy is due to Peak Oil (presumably in 2005) and how much is due to the after-effects of the bursting of the housing bubble a few years ago. My own WAG is that the causation is about 50-50.

The damage to the U.S. financial system from excessive debt incurred by individuals, businesses, and governments is still with us: That is the reason for the the further quantitative easing that the Fed is sure to announce. On the other hand, oil at over eighty dollars a barrel is a huge drag on the economy.

Finance and oil production will continue to interact for at least another twenty years. Ultimately, I think declining oil production will be the long-term cause for a long-term shrinkage in GDP and related measures such as personal income. But in the short-term of a few years, financial markets and their fluctuations will dominate the effects of declining oil production. For example, suppose there is a global deflationary depression that begins next year and that cuts real global GDP by, say, 20%. This drop in GDP would cause a comparable drop in demand for oil and could cause Peak Oil to be masked for several more years.

So you're saying our fascination with "growth" (the economic variety)is the culprit in our current economic weakness? Why would we ever build an economic system with such inherent internal contradictions that it's very success would be it's undoing? Seems an odd thing to do, if you were to ask me. ;-)

Like everything, it's good while it lasts..

The reason that the real GDP growth numbers matters so much is that GDP growth in excess of 3.5.% per year will create enough jobs to reduce unemployment. At growth levels below this level there will be no decrease in unemployment because growth in the labor force plus growth in productivity add up to about 3.5% over the long term.

The only way we know how to get unemployment to lower levels is to increase the rate of growth in real GDP. Leanan's proposal to cut the work week to thirty hours a week probably would not work to reduce unemployment, because when hours are cut back 25% from forty to thirty hours, then wage income (and hence consumption) also goes down about 25%--and real GDP would go down by about this amount too, thereby reducing consumption and real GDP and the demand for workers. Theoretically, one could create more jobs at thirty hours a week than at forty, but the way jobs are set up in the U.S.--with huge employer contributions to medical insurance--it would be cheaper for companies just to pay overtime to fewer workers at forty hours per week (including expensive overtime) than to hire more workers at thirty hours per week.

I expect real GDP to fall to about half its present level within the next twenty years (and perhaps sooner), and along with that drop will come not only falling real wages but also a huge increase in unemployment--perhaps to the forty percent range. Most of these unemployed will depend on employed relatives for food and shelter, because government tax revenues will also fall by about half, and thus current unemployment, social security, Medicaid and Medicare and other transfer payments will prabably also fall by about half.

I accept your arguments without hesitation. They make me ask different questions.

It seems to me that the reason we are so obsessed with unemployment figures and the polity is so focused on creating "jobs" is that for our culture we have backed ourselves into a cul de sac where our lives are defined by our "job" - it determines our socio-economic status (including where we can live, what we can own, what education our children can get, what health care we receive, etc.); it defines who we are ("Nice to meet you, what do you do?" is expected to be answered with a job title or type); it even measures our own self worth.

And yet, for most of us, our job is not a profession, a trade, a craft, a vocation or an artisan-ship. Rather, it is an occupation. We have defined ourselves using a derivative - that is, our identity comes from something we do not for it's own sake, but in order to pay the bills. Is it any wonder that we seem to be so un-moored when it comes to the spiritual side of our lives?

So, for me, the question is not how do we get people employed again, but how to we redefine our lives in a less materially prosperous world in a manner that provides meaning, direction, a reason to live? What can we give people to do that will define their lives in a positive way while diminishing the impact of the pursuit of material wealth on both our self worth and the natural world?

This, to me, is the great question of our time - not how we re-inflate the bubble economy to extract a few more years of unsustainable capital growth.


I think what your quest comes down to is a desire for a great religious reformation that would give meaning and purpose to people's lives apart from occupation and income. I do expect major changes in religion over the next 100 years. What I fear is a return to fundamentalism, not only Islamic and Protestant fundamentalism but also all over the world. For example, the traditional Hindu religion was the basis for the caste system in India that justified poverty for the many and wealth for the few.

Religion is really a wild card in influencing the course of the next hundred years. Let me recommend "Revolt in 2100" by Robert Heinlein as a brilliant extrapolation of trends that he saw coming some decades ago in the U.S.

"Religious reformation," in the broadest sense, is coming whether we desire it our not. The bad news is that this will be one of the causes of increased death rates that we will see in the coming decades. The good news is that neither christian nor islamic fundamentalism are positioned for anything more than a brief flame out.

Religion (actually, I think it is larger as I see religion as merely the institutionalized condensation of how a society sees it as proper to live life) IS a wild card, and that's why I think we should make it a conscious aspect of how we approach the end of growth. It's too big to leave to whatever charismatic "prophets" get thrown up by our culture's death throws.

I'll definitely look for the Heinlein book - I've read lots of his stuff (Stranger in a Strange Land remains a favorite that I reread every few years, but had never even hear of "Revolt in 2100."

Scudder getting elected in as POTUS in 2012 seems somewhat more likely if Sarah Palin is still around then. At least, his female equivalent.

I don't think economic conditions are bad enough now to tip the U.S. into a totalitarian theocracy. However, I do expect economic conditions to get much worse, and those conditions (maybe 30% unemployment, maybe that along with hyperinflation) could bring forth another Lennin or Hitler or Huey Long--or Nehemiah Scudder.

How the hell can you associate Huey Long with Lenin or Hitler?

Because if Huey Long had not been assasinated he might very well have beaten FDR for the Democratic nomination for president and turned the U.S. into a populist corrupt dictatorship, just as he did with the state of Louisiana.

Note that the Great Depression created Huey Long, just as Russia's defeat in World War I created Lennin; hyperinflation in 1923 and the Great Depression created Hitler.

Really bad economic times tend to bring forth authoritarian or totalitarian dictators. I doubt that the U.S. will be an exception to this generalization.

I agree that we'll see a decided authoritarian bent in the U.S. The only questions will be what the focus will be and whether or not their will be enough of the state apparatus functioning to make them effective over a large geographic area.

This You Tube was linked on Downstreamer's forum by JCSamsara (who over the years has posted some stuff on TOD). I've watched it but have not vetted the organization. It also seems to be a subliminal ad to buy PMs. In spite of that it might be worth a glance...or in my case, I watched the whole thing.


It will certainly PO some/many people.


The terms of the Treaty of Versailles had nothing to do with Hitler's rise? For one example revealing the silliness of your simplism.

It is unconscionable to equate Long with Hitler.

Funny how we can go to a conservative and libertarian site like lewrockwell.com and get a reasonable portrait of a man (and the conditions which shaped his actions), despite the fact that Long was unquestionably an interventionist.


From the article, this quote:

Controversial Senator William "Wild Bill" Langer of North Dakota, himself a popular politician accused of diverting moneys to social welfare schemes, said in a speech in 1941:

I doubt whether any other man was so conscious of the plight of the underprivileged or knew better the ruthlessness of those in control. And it was because Huey Long knew how to fight, knew how to fight fire with fire, knew how to combat ruthlessness with ruthlessness, force with force, and because he had the courage to battle unceasingly for what he conceived to be right that he became an inspiration for so many in their own fight for a square deal, and the object of such relentless persecution on the part of his enemies.

The fight he waged was such a desperate one that even in death he has not been immune from attack. So we find that 5 years after his body had been lowered into the grave – that grave which will forever be a shrine for those who love decency, honor, and justice – attempts are still being made to besmirch his character.

This is not fooling the farmer, the worker, the small businessman; it is not fooling the child who can read today because of the free textbooks that Huey Long obtained; it is not fooling the citizen who can vote today because Huey Long abolished poll taxes.

These people know from Huey Long's life that, as they fight for the better things, there will always be the inspiration that fighting with them in spirit will be that tearless, dauntless, unmatchable champion of the common people, Huey P. Long.

Too bad that Obama doesn't know how to fight fire with fire, how to combat ruthlessness with ruthlessness.

Hitler did a lot of good things for Germany before he foolishly led them into World War II. I'm not saying Huey Long did not do good things, but I do say he is the closest the U.S. has seen to a dictator. Also I'm not saying Huey Long was a racist, though I seem to recall that he was.

With luck, we may get another populist utterly corrupt Huey Long to be the first dictator of the U.S. If we're not lucky we get another Lennin, Stalin, Hitler. Also, there is a difference between totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. If we're unlucky we'll get a totalitarianism something like that portrayed in Orwell's 1984. If we're lucky we'll get an authoritarian military dictatorship something like that of Julius Caesar.

By the way, the Treaty of Verseilles did create the conditions that brought forth the German inflation of 1923. It was the inflation itself (and not the Treaty) that wiped out the German middle class--which was prerequisite for the rise of Hitler.

Republicans are authoritarian, Democrats are totalitarian. Your choice.

Republicans are BAU, triumphalist and foaming at the mouth as usual.
Democrats are divided, compromising and cowering as usual.
Nothing to write home about.

Hitler did a lot of good things for Germany before he foolishly led them into World War II.

Like what? Concentration camps?
the Gestapo?
forced labor DAF(unemployment was illegal)?

The German people continued to live in 1930s poverty until 1945--or perhaps you believe that Germans got their Volkswagens?
Hitler, who promised in 1933 to deliver affordable cars to the German people got the only one in 1938.
Then there was 'Strength thru Joy' which offered cheap vacations on cruise ships(only good Nazis got reservations).


As far a Julius Caesar goes, he was appointed Dictator for Life just one month before he was assassinated in March 44 BC. Caesar had pardoned all of his captured enemies and put them back into the Senate like Brutus and Cassius--some military dictator.

Huey Long was an ex-salesman populist who ran against the oil companies in Louisiana---if he was so corrupt he would have taken their money. Instead he built up infrastructure in Louisiana.

FDR also didn't like Long.

Roosevelt considered Long a radical demagogue. The president privately said of Long that along with General Douglas MacArthur, "[H]e was one of the two most dangerous men in America."[14]


Perhaps Gen. Douglas MacArthur is more your cup of tea?

Even before re-armament Hitler and his economics minister Schacht brought economic growth and low unemployment back to Germany. The Great Depression was much worse in the U.S. than it was in Germany; in other words, Hitler was a more effective leader in restoring economic growth than was F.D.R.

Obviously Hitler was an evil man who committed the greatest atrocities in history (with the possible exception of Stalin). If we're unlucky we get another Hitler in the U.S. with a Final Solution to the problem of Black poverty and illegal immigrants. Or we could get Orwell's 1984. Theocracy at some point in the future is not impossible.

Again, I say that with luck we'll get someone like Julius Caesar followed by Augustus Caesar.

Even before re-armament Hitler and his economics minister Schacht brought economic growth and low unemployment back to Germany.

Rearmament began in 1934 with Schacht's MEFO bills.

In 1933, 6 million Germans were unemployed.
Hitler had massive public works programs (building Autobahns)with men living in labor camps like the US CCC. He also fired all the Jews and most women from jobs providing openings. In 1935, he reinstituted the draft increasing the Wehrmacht from 100,000 to 1,400,000 in 1939.
65% of the German GDP in 1939 went to rearmament.


German population in 1939 was 80.6 million and GDP was $351 million.
US population was 139 million and GDP was $800 million.
Germany was a good deal poorer.


I hope you haven't bought into old Nazi propaganda.

No, I have not bought into old Nazi propaganda. But I have studied the economic history of post-World War I Germany. You yourself refer to the many public works instituted by Hitler; these were a great help in reducing unemployment. Hitler also opposed cigarette smoking and tried to get the Germans to quit. He was nice to children and loved dogs.

He drove many of the Jewish physicists out of Europe and to the U.S.; this was the key factor in the U.S. getting the A bomb before the Germans. In other words, Hitler's antisemitism was a fatal and self-destructive flaw. If Hitler had not invaded Russia he might have won World War II; I can imagine how the history books would read then.

When it comes to mass murder, Hitler was a piker compared to Stalin, but then Stalin ruled much longer than Hitler did. Given the history of the U.S. I think it is relatively unlikely that our first dictator will be either a Hitler or a Lennin or a Stalin. (But I've been wrong before.

In terms of which dictator killed the most civilians, it is pretty clear that Mao Ze Dong wins by a wide margin, with Stalin and Hitler in the place and show positions.

If you add in the combatant and collateral civilian deaths of World War II and ascribe them also to Hitler as the instigator of the conflict, then Hitler goes to the top of the list.

Lastly, if you consider the 1914-1949 bloodbath as a whole, including the influenza epidemic, then the top of the list goes to the Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff, who's name I can't recall at the moment. I wouldn't attribute it to Gavrilo Pincip, since cooler heads should have prevailed.

The main 'public work' Hitler supported was rearmament, something FDR didn't do in the 1930s. His domestic 'stimulus' was only propaganda to glorify the Nazi Party. He built the autobahn for military purpose and Volkswagens as a cover for armaments.
Hitler's anti-semitism was not his fatal flaw. The world ignored it.
His fatal flaw was his thirst for war.
In hindsight, it is strange that Hitler attacked his friend Stalin but his opinion of the Red Army was low based on the performance of Russia in WWI and the Red Army against Poland in 1920 and against Finland in 1940, especially after he wiped out France in 6 weeks and he so easily conquered Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Poland.
But he knew there could be only one master of Europe and just as Napoleon had done he invaded Russia. War is always a gamble.
There were more people killed in Hitler's war than 6 million killed in the gas chambers.

Stalin's victims were 3 million based on official Soviet accounts,
not including 6-8 million killed by famine, and minorities transported and killed during WW2. Others say 4-10 million.


The German A-bomb program was non-existent(it was pushed by the Minister of Postage, Ohnesorge). They were looking at heavy water reactors for submarines.
Nobel Laureate Werner Heisenberg who headed the German atomic research was being debriefed in England when he heard about Hiroshima and he immediately tried to calculate the size of the charge necessary to destroy a city. He came up with several tons, whereas Little Boy contained 64 kg of uranium.
Heisenberg clearly had no clue of how to make an A-bomb.
The Germans weren't even looking for it.
It's possible that if Hitler had kept all the Jewish physicists in Germany then the US might not have made the bomb but you could also argue that Oppenheimer and Fermi(who built the Chicago Pile reactor-1939)
could have made the calculations themselves without all the help.

Of course, the A-bomb wasn't built in tested in time for use in Europe and the Germans couldn't possible match the size of the Mahattan project, so it's all moot.

Obviously Hitler was an evil man who committed the greatest atrocities in history (with the possible exception of Stalin).

No - both wrong. The greatest monster of them all was by fare Mao Zedong (Mao Tsu-tung). He only lacked the technological and millitary power to extend his daedly grip beyound china and was also sometimes caugh back by man like Liu Shaoqi...

In opposition to Hitler or Stalin Mao did not make a difference or judges his purges in any way, just there have to be big purges. He was willingly to let half of china die off for his personal power-seeking. He had not even a ideology (he even was not a real communists and he had nothing commen with the poor chinese "peasant") like Hitler ore Stalin - how bad and false these ideologies where. He killed, killed, kiled and purged, purged, purged only for himself and his power!

The German people continued to live in 1930s poverty until 1945

They had some pretty impressive charts about the increase in employment. A guy usually doesn't succeed in mezmerizing a critical fraction of the population like that unless he is on the ball. Simply being evil isn't enough, you gotta be clever in just the right (wrong) way to do that sort of damage. Just as Goebbels said that the best lies were half truths (more believable than whole-fabrications), some benefitted from the early days of the regime and were willing to overlook the frightful tendencies.

And the majority of people in Russia wept when Stalin died.
When Hitler gained power he literally turned Germany into an armed camp so people were not in the mood to protest. Hitler was already directly involved in the Spanish Civil War in summer 1936 providing Franco with the Condor Legion/Luftwaffe--a major foreign conflict. He also put on propaganda spectacles like the 1936 Olympiad.
Propaganda isn't fake, it does work.
But the material condition of the Germans remained low throughout the Nazi period.

The terms of the Treaty of Versailles had nothing to do with Hitler's rise?

Obviously it the the conjunction of multiple factors. The treaty -or in Fromkin's immortal words "the Peace to End All Peace", was clearly a factor. As was the economic distress (which was worse in Germany, because the treay was a form of economic warfare against the losers of WWI). Also the German view of their own mythology and militarism had a big part as well. Take away any one of these factors, and Hitler woulda remained a frustrated ex-painter.

Too bad that Obama doesn't know how to fight fire with fire, how to combat ruthlessness with ruthlessness.

Yes. I unfortunately thought he was smart enough to see that there is a time for all things (methods). I used to be big on playing the game of RISK, and could totally change the character of my playing when the game situation called for it. But, Obama, just wants to triangulate among irreconcilable parties......

I accept your arguments without hesitation.

And many argue Don's arguments. How many people could find work in the electrification of society and (other) green energy remains to be seen, but there is different kind of work.
Interesting is the book 'the next economy'('from mass economy to information economy') written by Paul Hawken. Not that I don't see problems ahead, probably aggravated by bad decisions the next few years, but 40% unemployment ? That happening depends on a lot of things.

You're probably correct that we won't get to forty percent unemployment. Probably unemployment around thirty percent would tip the U.S. into a dictatorship that would conscript the unemployed into working on repairing the infrastructure and other tasks.

I do not see how we can have a 50% decline in oil imports without a decrease in real GDP of at least 25%. If GDP declines 25% and keeps declining because of falling oil imports and falling domestic production, then we get into the 25% to 30% range of unemployment.

Politically, prolonged 25% to 30% unemployment cannot be sustained in the U.S. FDR could not have handled drastically declining oil production.

Declining oil production->Declining real GDP->Increasing unemployment which will eventually cause people to abandon all but the forms of democracy for some kind of "savior." The form of this dictatorship I cannot predict. Based on American history, I think the best we can hope for is a corrupt populist dictator such as Huey Long was in Louisiana. About the worst would be a theocracy or something like Orwell's totalitarian vision in 1984.

For over a decade even when I did work at a paying job, I always told people when they asked what I did, by saying. I am an author. They'd ask what I write, and we'd talk about that.

If they asked how my bills were paid, I'd tell them where my money came from. As I have never gotten paid for writing, in cash money at least. I do have several art works from other people and several nice stories in trade magazines under th heading "what I got from this lifestyle"

I'd give people the task to build their own homes, and helping others build them as well, putting in the gardens and food forests and other growing systems that fit where they live. I'd ask them to explore what they have talents doing, and see if they could do those things to trade their time and talents with others for things they might need. Though this system might need a local currency to pass around, it could still stay on whatever National currency was out there, if they had to deal with people not from their area.

Networking these groups so that each little burg/ city neighborhood, or what not, could meet up and exchange commerce once in a while would be a good way of spreading the ideas and mind sets of the concept.

Not something that is going to be easy to formulate while we are still wandering around in vast city states that we have today, but something that at least I am thinking about while I plan other projects in my BioWebScape Design business (no money need pass my hand for me to help you and yours).

I have over 225 college hours of course work and no piece of paper to say I got a career lined up out of it, I saw the whole way they were pushing a career for going to college, and regected it out of hand. School is to teach you things you did not know before hand. What you are is not defined by what you know.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.

Don Sailorman -

I recognize that there is a direct causal relationship between employment and GDP. However, in recent decades has not this link become weaker or a least less direct?

I ask because it seems that a good number of things that create GDP are now only loosely connected to (US) employment. For example, if a mail-order company relocates its call center to India, the goods it sells are still contributing to US GDP, but in generating that GDP it has actually decreased US employment. I am sure there are many other examples, such as in the case of various fees and commissions associated with what are merely wealth transfers having little or nothing to do with employed people actually doing things.

So, then is it not possible (at least in the short term) for GDP to increase without a corresponding increase in employment? Doesn't the fact that we've seen essentially flat GDP at the same time we've had markedly higher real unemployment serve as indirect proof that the link has indeed been weakened?


Gross DOMESTIC product is carefully defined to measure domestic production of goods and services. The concept of Gross National Product does have the weaknesses you attribute to the GDP concept.

To the best of my knowledge, the linkage between employment and growth rate in GDP are just as strong as they have ever been. The actual percentage number needed to maintain a given level of employment is not always 3.5%. For example, if the labor force grows rapidly, then we'd need a number greater than 3.5% to maintain percentage levels of employment and unemployment. Changes in the growth rate of productivity per labor hour also affect the GDP rate of growth needed to stabilize the unemployment rate. For example, productivity might grow at 3% and the labor force might grow at 2%. Then we would need a 5% rate of growth in real GDP just to keep unemployment from increasing.

Some prominent economists have estimated that to knock one percentage point off the unemployment rate in one year it would take a growth rate of 5% in real GDP over a year to do that. Clearly, we're not going to have GDP growth anything like that over the next year, and hence it is almost inevitable that the unemployment rate will increase significantly over the next year. Thus a 2% rate of growth in real GDP is bad news, because it means that the unemployment rate will increase.

Check out the relationship between credit destruction and unemployment, very interesting:

GDP is not a measure of employment, it only provides the aggregated value of goods and services purchased. While it's not likely that GDP would grow with half the workforce unemployed, it could happen.

So GDP can increase without a corresponding increase in employment. That is largely the history of the US after Bill Clinton foolishly allowed the federal government to slip into a surplus by the end of his term, precipitating a recession, just as has occurred every single time the 'deficits are evil' superstition has blinded the polity to the horrible effects of a federal government surplus.

In your example, I think that US GDP goes down, since imports are subtracted from GDP.

The US subsidiary of the mail-order company is buying a customer service from the Indian susidiary (in the case of a relocation, not an out-sourcing).

The company would probably make the cost of the service as high as possible, consistent with accounting and tax standards, so that the Indian susidiary is profitable and the profits can be sloshed around the international banking system to some off-shore tax haven.

The massive increase in debt produced real goods which aren't going away. All those houses still exist regardless of whether or not anyone can still afford to live in them. The debt has caused a contraction in spending which is directly related to GDP or growth, if you like. The Republicans and the Tea Partiers believe or pretend to believe that spending, the government variety, is the culprit. Yes, it is the culprit, but not in the way they think. It is the culprit because it did not go far enough to make up the shortfall in consumer spending. So, therefore, the Republicans have pledged to ensure a double dip recession by cutting spending.

Having said that, both parties are locked in the mantra and unsustainable mantra of growth. Neither party has a plan or even a concept that permit no growth and the provision of jobs and income for the millions of those at the bottom of the ladder and soon to join them at the bottom of the ladder. Therefore, we are consigned to a pie where the few make millions and billions while the vast majority suffer at the bottom. There is not much hope for what we used to call the middle class.

In a nutshell, debt causes retrenchment. Less oil and its attendant higher prices can obviously exacerbate that basic problem because it leaves less left over for spending on other things. I think the economy is too complex to ascertain the actual role that oil has played in the recent recession and, as far as I know, growth, while not unlimited, may not be over.

Further, the right believes this coming election will unleash the animal spirits of consumption and production -- that the government will no longer be able to hole people back. Hell, I guess anything is possible but I don't see that in the cards. Ergo, this is probably a good time to short the market.

Why would we ever build an economic system with such inherent internal contradictions that it's very success would be it's undoing?

We didn't, we probably couldn't have even if we wanted too. The system we have now is the result of emergent properties and their multiple interacting feedback loops with many unintended consequences.

I don't believe anyone could actually sit down and apriori set out to design exactly what we now have.

The genie is out of the bottle and has granted us our three wishes. Too bad our wishes weren't very wise ones and were mostly based on greed and instantaneous gratification without taking into consideration our long term needs. The genie is now free to do as it wishes and is no longer at our command...

As time passes, society becomes more complex, interdependent, heirarchical, unequal and fragile. Periodically, the pressure builds until an explosion homogenizes society once more. The Thirty Years War swept away the power of the Church. The French Revolution and Napleonic Wars swept away the Ancien Régime. World Wars I & II swept away the imperial crowned heads and nobility of Europe.


Your genie out of the bottle reminded me of a short story I once wrote about the genie class. Genie's got by, by selling their 3 wishes, for a profit, as living in lamps and other places was old school.

I can just see them planning the whole mess we are in, as a way to increase profits for themselves.

As too not knowing how this all came about, I'll throw this one at you.


A little short deity walks into Fred's office and offers him a world wide diving tour for free. Telling him that after the tour he can go back to living his life like he is now, or however.

But before Fred gets a chance to decide the little short deity is replaced with a taller one, with a better offer.

A world wide diving tour, and 5 million dollars and loads of Solar technology as a side extra.

Right before Fred can say anything, this new deity disappears and an angel shows up in their place.

It tells Fred that if he had taken any of their offers, he would have set in motion a chain of events that would advance Solar output declines, as it was all a trick of the nasty guys in the department of hacked deities.

So Fred thanks the angel and goes back to posting on TOD with a sigh of relief.


I posit that there are powers out there that we can't fathom, in realms that we can't fathom. Then again you know I am a Christian, so somethings just aren't as they seem at times. I try not to assume I know what is going on.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.

Hi Charles,

Thanks for the little story, I appreciate it and got a kick out of it.

I posit that there are powers out there that we can't fathom, in realms that we can't fathom. Then again you know I am a Christian, so somethings just aren't as they seem at times. I try not to assume I know what is going on.

Though I myself do not subscribe to them I have no quarrel with your beliefs, it is your humanity that always manages to shine through your words.

Thanks and be well,


It's mainly due to the Greenspan Fed not taking away the punchbowl just when the party gets going. Indeed, Greenspan refilled the punchbowl whenever the party started to quiet down.

Bernanke can fill the punchbowl all he wants, because the economy is in the bathroom barfing. And will be for a few more years.

The best monetary policy imaginable will help not a bit in dealing with declining world oil production and especially with declining U.S. oil imports.

I do agree with you, however, that excessively easy monetary policy is mainly responsible for our woes that have come from excessive debt.

I'd speculate that a much greater portion of the current weakness in the U.S. economy is the housing bubble than peak oil. Initially oil prices were what put pressure on sub-prime borrowers causing them to have to default en mass triggering the housing crisis, but now that the crisis has been triggered oil is only a secondary consideration.

But what do I know?

For the time being the production of oil is a secondary consideration, and it will probably be a secondary consideration throughout 2011 and perhaps into 2012. But over the next ten years declining global production and especially declining imports of oil into the U.S. will be the main force driving the economy down.

Cheap oil is prerequisite for vigorous economic growth. After ten years, we might still be in a deflationary depression (or an inflationary one), but the declining imports of oil into the U.S. will be the main factor driving GDP growth down.

Who, ten year ago, would have said that at $80/bbl oil is cheap. Yet somehow vigorous economic growth continues in China, India, Brazil...

Growth in India and China is mainly based on rapidly increasing consumption of coal. Brazil produces all its own oil or very nearly so.

Yeah housing issues were completely isolated from the oil spike.

maybe when you pay more for oil than food living in a super-distant-suburb then the housing cannot be paid for. Maybe not.

maybe it was all just money trading hands with no connection to the primary energy source.

I think you need to think more.

Calif. rail project is high-speed pork
By Robert J. Samuelson
Monday, November 1, 2010


Somehow, it's become fashionable to think that high-speed trains connecting major cities will help "save the planet." They won't. They're a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. They would further burden already overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs - schools, defense, research.

As someone who enjoys taking 40mph train rides run by diesel engines, I can see the arguement against the "high-speed" side; however, I do believe that the restoration of rail lines - either high or low - is something that is of potential benefit... and something that will be needed.

for the record, didn't post because i agree; rather because it was provocative and pertinent to some prior threads/discussions.

Bert in RI -

Robert Samuelson hits another home run!

For if we spend billions of dollars on frivolous pork projects like high-speed rail, then how on earth are we going to afford the essentials? Like the latest-generation stealth fighter, the Lockheed F-35, whose total program cost the DOD estimates to be $323 billion, or something like $89 million to $200 million a plane, depending upon options?

I guess this is part of the government's real energy policy: attempt to militarily muscle the rest of the world so as to exert control over oil-producing countries (at least those who don't have nuclear weapons). We can all see how cost-effective this has been so far.

joule --

you make it hard to disagree (i don't), but i guess i'd just redirect, by saying, if you disagree with samuelson, you should argue his facts or presentation. i think he's missing a critical point: the projections he uses are likely ceteris paribus, which would render them inapplicable in a situation where oil prices rise precipitously or exhibit high volatility.

rhode island transit (ripta) is currently exploring the (re)construction of a street car system in providence's downtown area (http://www.projo.com/news/content/RIPTA_metro_plan_12-08-09_KRGNGKJ_v26.... / http://www.transit2020.com/main.php), so for us vodilunders this is not just a mental exercise -- factions are forming. in fact, i dunno how affordable it would/can be, considering providence is only 175,000ish strong.

(edited grammar)

The high-speed rail corridors have been in the planning stages for a while, all through the Bush administration and some going back to the Clinton administration. The issue is really not "saving the planet;" rather, the projects began as an attempt to address a gap between routine personal vehicle and bus trips (0-150 miles) and plane flights (economically viable from 500 miles and up). About 10 corridors have been identified, with several more under study.

The Northeast Corridor technology (electrified, up to 150 mph) and the California proposal (some dedicated rights of way and up to 220 mph) are not representative of most of these corridors. "High speed" really means "higher speeds" than the 40-60 mph average speeds in many existing passenger rail corridors. The focus is on eliminating the 15 mph slow speed sections that just kill passenger rail, as well as adding more high speed turnouts and longer sidings so that trains can pass each other without coming to a full stop. The goal is to advance average speeds into the 70 mph range or better, with top speeds under the level in which grade separation or track reconstruction is required (100 mph to 125 mph).

If we hit peak oil in the next decade, find most families priced out of plane flights, and encounter five dollar a gallon gasoline, then those upgraded rail corridors are going to be seen as very wise investments. Nonetheless, the strategic corridors still have serious capacity problems due to freight, and we are nowhere near having the passenger rail system we had in, say, 1955.

Empire of lies

And if you’re living that comfortable life in the city, regardless how much you recycle, bicycle to work, and tithe at the altar, you still haven’t figured out the immorality of imperial living.

Cities are the nadir of civilization, and they have an increasingly short and burning fuse. Furthermore, nothing about our survival as a species matters if we keep adhering to an irredeemable set of living arrangements, even if your city has “walkable” neighborhoods.

Finally more ink on this point;

"Empires are not benevolent. This world has never had a larger, more effective empire than the current one. If you’re cheering for continuation of the age of industry in an overshot world, you’re cheering for more torture, more human suffering, and more human deaths. Needless to say, we’re on opposite sides of this issue."

Even the most ardent peakist and AGWer are in denial about this.

And no! China is not the next Empire. We are it and we will do everything necessary to insure that we are the last ones standing.

Understand that and you will understand what is happening wrt to the Government, the Fed, and the finance/economic BS.

Like the population "problem," most people do not want to go there - especially those Peakist who grew up in the Industrial Pigstye/Empire.

Whether it is due to denial or deliberate, I think the vast majority of Peakist in the industrial world are still fat and happy - they got their's and they're hellbent on finding ways to keep it.

They'll make pretend bargains (we'll go solar, use only clean coal, limit emission using cap and trade, etc) and continue praying for deliverance from their favorite industrial deity (oil/gas/coal/nuclear/algae/wind/ etc).

And when those fail, they will go into denial over the return of slavery...

I see that Ambac says may go bankrupt this year.

Ambac Financial Group Inc (ABK.N), which was the second-largest U.S. bond insurer before suffering huge losses on risky mortgages, said it may file for bankruptcy protection this year after missing an interest payment on some debt.

Shares of Ambac slid as much as 59.8 percent.

In a regulatory filing, Ambac said it has been unable to raise capital to avoid bankruptcy. It said it remains in talks with senior bondholders about a consensual restructuring through the bankruptcy process that preserves a $7 billion tax benefit.

Ambac has been in terrible condition for a while, so this is not huge news. I would hope that now folks recognize that bond insurance really doesn't work very well--the risk of failure is not an "independent event".

In the Gulf, ExxonMobil's plan to use "extended reach" drilling from four artificial islands purpose-built for use as drilling platforms will allow the total volume of crude recovered from Upper Zakum to reach an exceptionally high 70 per cent of oil in place, while production capacity rises to 750,000 barrels per day (bpd) from about 550,000 bpd.

exxon didn't pull this 70% recovery out of thin air or from a correlation of recovery -vs- field size or from a shot from the hip.

Technology key to ExxonMobil and Abu Dhabi relationship

The next step is to create models, using ExxonMobil’s proprietary EMpower reservoir-simulation technology, which helps predict how the reservoirs will perform.

“Then,” says Kemnetz, “we apply our decision-making tools to determine how to maximize recovery at the lowest cost and risk. Technology adds value by reducing costs and enhancing resource recovery. It opens the door to more options.”

A first for ExxonMobil

To open that door further, ExxonMobil has established a unique technology center in Abu Dhabi.
“The center’s mission is twofold,” says ExxonMobil’s Ram Rajagopalan, the center’s operations manager. “We want to apply high-impact technology that benefits Upper Zakum while still protecting our proprietary technology. And we want to promote a good working relationship between ZADCO and ExxonMobil professionals.”
The technology center is the first to be established at an ExxonMobil joint-interest facility. It’s managed and operated by ExxonMobil staff.


having a 1300 foot oil column, low viscosity/density oil and good permeability will probably help too.

It's no wonder such confusion abounds.

Take the Toplink on algae biofuel and the Navy. The impression is algae biofuels are about to solve our problem. But it hides and distorts several points. The article references a company that is nowhere near industrial production and harvest. Algal pond culture from sunlight is still orders of magnitude away from fruition. That goal will probably never be reached, according to John Benneman, perhaps the most respected name in algal fuel culture from the 1980's on.

They state algal culture flocks to the SW and Hawaii because fuel is expensive there. Light and temperature regimes have nothing to do with it, right? Bu that logic, the center of the research will be Greenland.

In the next breath, the article sweeps to another company. This isn't the algae for fuel most think of. This is enzyme mediated growth requiring a sugar source. As R2 put in his blog last month, that company made $425/gal fuel. In a rebuttal, the company corrects that that figure also includes R and D costs. The point was conceded, but it is still up to the company to produce for less, if it can. R2 wished them well, but has his doubts....

Yes, wish them well, and wish for balance in reporting.

Of course you can circumvent the high costs of oil on your bottom line by extorting overtime pay from illegal immigrant labor.


Instead of getting Green we just will be taking green from others.

This is how he are getting out of our oil-scarcity recession I guess.

Cheap labor is not a good substitute for cheap oil. Real wages will fall, eventually slavery may return (not just for Blacks), but the decline of fossil fuel production is going to mean The End of the World as We Know It.

The radio meant the end of the world as it was known.

Is there a point you're trying to make?


I've read your posts for a number of years and missed your absence. It appears from what I remember, that your opinions today have taken somewhat of a sea change in that they are much more dire; in very simple terms, BAU is dead meat. Am I correct in this interpretation?

However, like many people, my question is one of timing. I realize that a specific time frame is somewhat of a loss leader. Yet, we expect error bars when it comes to energy so why not the economy.

Amy comments?


I am not now and never have been a fast-crash doomer. My views are close to those of John Michael Greer in THE LONG DESCENT.

I do not consider an authoritarian or totalitarian government to be an economic and social collapse.

I do not know the timing of future events because I do not know two key numbers:
1. When global oil production starts decling from the plateau it has been on for almost six years.
2. How fast the rates of decline in oil production and Net Exports will be.

I also do not know when peak coal and peak natural gas will be.

In my opinion, Westexas's ELM model is valid. That is one major reason that I think the decline from Peak Oil will be relatively rapid.

I do not believe an apocalyptic collapse is likely, but it could happen. We cannot be certain that the fast-crash doomers are wrong. On the other hand, as Leanan has pointed out several times, an attenuated Business as Usual could go on for many years.

We may see a deflationary depression next year or we may just see another year of stagnation; there is no way to know. As I stated upthread, a deflationary depression could mask the fact of Peak Oil for many years.

I do not know the timing of future events because I do not know two key numbers:
1. When global oil production starts decling from the plateau it has been on for almost six years.

At the ASPO conference this year, the consensus seemed to be what Hirsch was presenting:

Hirsch's best case for mitigation to arrest the contraction was ten years, but that was the absolute best case and he didn't sound confident that it would come to pass:

Best Case Mitigation

Assuming a one to one contraction between oil decline and GDP, this would result in:

Hirsch GDP Decline

However, in none of his projections does he include the problem of debt, so none of his rosy scenarios will come to pass, unfortunately.

Another way to look at peak oil is to consider disenfranchisement if you will.
By this I mean stripping people of the chance for a better life and in some cases reducing their lifestyle significantly.

For the billions of poor living in poverty it means they will never get out. For millions of Americans and Europeans and Asians it means sliding from middle class to poverty or from poverty to desperate poverty.

I don't think GDP contraction and assumption of a return to peak GDP levels is a good metric for this. What it means is that and ever smaller group is left at the top of the pyramid. The bottom swells of course but the bottom will work to survive and the products of their labor will still filter to the top. Thus in general those that manage to not get knocked down will make the same or more than they make now.

This causes two things to happen obviously the poorer poor will use less oil at least as much as possible. Where they can't they will spend more on oil and cut back in other areas. GDP will of course contract but its more a sharpening of the pyramid of wealth. I suspect that GDP numbers will be fudged to make this look like growth. Unemployment figures will drop the unemployable as not part of the work force for example.

Its not some sort of static drop with the status quo and wealth distribution remaining constant but and ever increasing concentration of wealth both from and enlarging bottom tier and smaller middle tier.

The only question of course is how large and desperate can the bottom get before things get problematic obviously at some point as the class of impoverished people increase real democracy becomes difficult and defacto or real authoritarian governments become the norm.

Indeed in the US real true third world poverty was prevalent as late in the 1940's and prevalent at least in the South through the 1970's.
It was only in the 1980's that it was reduced to pockets in a few parts of the country. Europe I don't know but certainly for a time after WWII in western europe obviously much longer and still existing in the Soviet/Eastern bloc nations.
I'm 42 and old enough to have witnessed real poverty as a child in Mississippi and Arkansas and seen it decline as I approached high school. Anyone even 5-10 years older than me would have even better personal recollections.

Certainly other parts of the country threw off real poverty i.e shacks no running water etc earlier but only after the end of the Great Depression with the onset of WWII. The glory days of the 1950's onwards took time to reach the poorest parts of America. I suspect a similar pattern in Europe with the poorest countries eliminating extreme poverty on a similar time scale.

What we consider normal is really a phenomena that happened for 50 years or less depending on the region many areas closer to 30 or even less. The elimination of extreme poverty in the western nations is a very recent phenomena and it won't take much to make it return.
At some point the welfare systems put in place will simply be overwhelmed.

You may not actually see the benefit programs cut but perhaps spiraling food and energy prices will make it where the benefits can no longer keep you alive. And I suspect the programs will begin to deny more and more people and cut more off.

This is not a prediction its already happening.


43 million Americans are now living in poverty.

But its worse


Another 50 million or more are at close to the line. These 50 million will be pushed down below and the current poor even lower.
And another 50 will move to the at risk group right at poverty. So I foresee the US moving to where 50% of the population is living near poverty or 150 million with 50 in abject poverty.

I'm pretty sure this is sufficient to bust the safety net of welfare. Indeed it probably breaks before this which is what actually sends 50 million into abject poverty.

The demographics become similar to china or india. In the case of the US say 50-100 million middle class or above. 50 million lower middle class and the rest in poverty. Over time the upper level will shrink further.

India and China will follow a similar pattern however many of the poor will really simply never make it out of abject poverty and many that did will be thrown back.

Its a world with and ever shrinking middle and upper class and probably getting increasingly dangerous similar to Mexico or Columbia.
Once abject poverty returns to the US and Europe then 1st-2nd-3rd world will become increasingly blurred and begin to lose its meaning.

The reason I wrote this is this social/political/economic transition to a world of haves and have nots cannot be captured with simple GDP measures or other economic measures. Or more correctly it will be obfuscated until the riots and rise of authoritarian governments make it a mute point. And just as obvious these broken societies will be ripe for war the chances of war not becoming widespread are small.

My only real hope is that the growing poverty will work to cripple the military machines of most nations reducing them to less effective forms of combat. WWIII I hope simply means people are too poor to fight a large scale mechanized/nuclear war. Not that its not coming but we literally won't have enough food or oil to fight any sort of far flung war like WWII. More likely spreading border conflicts and civil war rather then our current nation states duking it out.

For example say China and the US engage in and increasingly violent proxy war. Diversion of resources to support the war leads to large scale riots at home forcing them to divert troops back home. The proxy war destabilizes the region leading to regional conflict. The stronger nations quickly get spread thin trying to beat each other and control the regional conflicts. If we are lucky few if any nukes are used.

Eventually of course even this fails and the conflicts get both deadlier and increasingly cruder as the modern equipment is not replaced.
Also of course the best equipped troops will be increasingly used to protect the remaining elite back at home.

In time even this fails and the troops are removed from most areas except the ones with very valuable resources. Much of Africa for example is left to its own devices same for many areas of Asia.

The nations begin to fragment and now starvation and disease become rampant even in the formerly wealthy nations like the US. Warlords start seizing power and fighting. Much of the world is reduced to Somalia with no functioning government but also little or no aid as there is no one left to give.

What really really interesting is the danger point is when enough oil is available to allow the nation states to wage all out war and potentially go nuclear. The ironic part is if I'm correct and oil production is or will soon show a dramatic increase in its decline rate may be the only thing that saves us from the danger period. It will of course accelerate the fall to collapse but as bad as that is its better than and extensive nuclear war. After the states start to fail we could still see some nukes used but given everyone is failing I hope no one will use them extensively as bombing someone serves no purpose once they are obviously falling apart and losing their military power.

I'm pretty sure the above scenario is basically right its basic thesis is that the growing number of poor will eventually cause everything to crumble. The only real issue is the time it takes to reach the point where the nation states of the world are obviously failing.

Best case is perhaps 30 years I don't think so the US will probably soon have 50 million in poverty the next recession will probably double this number. The real oil situation will become clear over the next few years if not months. I think we reach critical thresholds in a matter of years. Indeed I suspect that twelve months from now the scenario I've outlined will become increasingly obvious. Within two years even more so. I don't know at what point the social net starts to break down in the US 150 million in poverty is and obvious guess.
75 million is reasonable. Indeed 60 million may well be enough. 50 million in longer term poverty may actually be enough if they lose hope.
Although 75 million might not be the point at which things begin to really break down I'd argue that if we reach 75 million people in poverty then we are also obviously heading further down even 60 is dangerous enough to cause me alarm. Assuming 43 now thats 17 million.
Before the last recession it was about 39 millon so we added about 4 million. Another dip down could add even more say 4-8 million.
If its eight million or higher then its likely that the next dip would take out 10 million or more sending us into the 60 million danger zone.

This makes sense the US could handle one more deep recession similar to the last one from its current levels it would really suck hard but still just a very nasty recession or beginnings of a depression. I think you can see however that one more dip after that sends us over the edge. Even if the next one is just four million more so what ? If we dip again you can bet it will be much higher and will send us over.

Thus the US and the world can handle one more recession from its current levels. However oil demand becomes increasingly inelastic over time thus if oil is a serious problem I'd argue it will push us over the ledge which is a real depression after the next recessionary downturn.

At some point that actually not all that far off the poor become cement shoes ensuring we drown even if it may take time to happen the critical thresholds could well be breached fairly soon.


I'm in agreement with most of what you've stated. Certainly inequality of incomes will increase; the middle class will decline greatly in numbers while the numbers of poor will greatly increase.

Nevertheless I think that so long as the numbers are honest, the linkage between GDP growth (or decline) and unemployment will still be a tight one.

I am not as sure as you are that decline in global oil production will be rapid. I just don't know.

Also I think the timing of Peak Coal and Peak Natural gas (and their rates of decline) will be of importance in determining rates of decline in real GDP.

I am not as sure as you are that decline in global oil production will be rapid. I just don't know.

Top line decline doesn't need to be rapid to cause havoc because there are many other factors that come into play.

Start with just a 2% decline, which is the Uppsala Global Energy System Group's best case scenario. That means 1 - (0.98^10) = 19% decline in just ten years. That is already enough to send the world economy into a tail spin. Every bank becomes insolvent, every nation enters into debt default and stock markets fail in a cascading fashion.

However, it's worse. At the beginning ELM will play a bit of role, at least until the current system breaks down. So that gives us maybe five years of higher decline for an importing nation.

Let's say that's another 2%. We're now at 1 - (0.96^5) = 19% in just five years.

Then everything breaks. (The big step down below.)

Add in hoarding, wars, etc. and the world turns upside down inside of a decade.

Staircase Model

You present a strong case. But as Leanan has pointed out a few times, our ability to predict the future is really, really bad. For example, suppose that we enter a global depression next year that reduces global GDP by 20%, and that we stay in that depression for ten years. Such an economic decline would reduce world consumption of petroleum by about 20%; thus for the next ten years there would be enough oil to meet demand at current or even lower real prices.

Now I don't think the above scenario is very likely, but it could happen.

My views resemble those of Leanan, who has more than once stated that it is entirely possible that BAU (perhaps in an attenuated form) could persist for many years. Also, because there are so many nonessential uses of petroleum products in the U.S., we might very well survive a twenty percent decline in oil consumption without a socioeconomic collapse. For example, a hyperinflation would quickly erase the burden of current debts, which otherwise would bring down the economy through debt deflation.

In my opinion there are just too many wild cards in the deck to be anything except hypercautious in making predictions as to the timing of events.

Did ANYBODY predict in 2005 that we would still be on a plateau of oil production at the end of 2010? I think not.

Did ANYBODY predict in 2005 that we would still be on a plateau of oil production at the end of 2010? I think not.

Maybe we fell off and they forgot to tell us?

I agree with your graph that shows "We are here." The next step down will be substantial but not nearly as big as the drop that follows it some years later.

I have no confidence in the prediction that we will remain on a peak-plateau for two to five more years. Oil production could fall substantially into an irreversible decline next year (especially if we have a deflationary depression next year). On the other hand, Chris Skrebowski may be right that oil production will increase moderately over the next few years and peak around 2014; I have a lot of respect for Skrebowski. For that matter (although I consider this extremely unlikely) Yergin and CERA may be correct.

I am confident that living standards will decline in the U.S. over the next ten years. But the pace and size of this decline is, in my opinion, unknowable. For example, suppose when U.S. oil imports decline significantly that there is an all-out mobilization to build CTL factories in Montana--maybe a two trillion dollar investment over a couple of years, with the environment being ignored and water piped in from far away if necessary. If that were to happen we might be able to increase domestic production of oil enough to make up for declining oil imports. There is a lot of coal in Montana.

Or suppose our natural gas reserves turn out to be double what we now think they are. Again, with massive investment (through government deficits financed by the Fed) we could substitute natural gas for a lot of gasoline and diesel. This outcome is not likely, but it is a possibility, given the huge changes in proven and probable natural gas reserves in the U.S. over the past several years.

Or suppose the Republicans reinstitute the draft and conscript a couple of million men to occupy the Iraq oil fields, develop new wells and operate and protect pipelines and tankers. That outcome wouldn't surprise me too much.

We agree on the ultimate outcome of declining oil production, but I just see too much uncertainty to set up a timing schedule (even with five years leeway on either side) for the pace and abruptness of economic decline.

Don, well, I've done a fair amount of looking in this area and I'm more confident than you. I think it's possible to say:
* within five years or so we experience and oil shock that send the economy into a tailspin
* OR, within five years or so we resume the tailspin that began in 2008 due just to credit contraction

Either way, the economy is in a tailspin, no?

I think it is possible for real GDP to just stagnate for five more years, especially if Skrebowski is right about Peak Oil being in 2014.

With high oil prices there are pressures to get as much productivity out of a barrel of oil as possible. In other words, high prices will force conservation of oil products, so GDP probably will not--over ten years--go down as much as U.S. oil imports plus domestic production go down. In other words, we might have a fifty percent decline in oil consumption but only a thirty or thirty-five percent decline in real GDP over ten years.

Always remember that the initial decline from Peak--say for the first two years or so--will be gradual. The ELM model really bites when you are more than a few years past Peak Oil.

Hmmm....I'd actually love your scenario to come to pass. Like most people, I don't think I'm nearly ready.

All that debt, though....

Don't worry: Hyperinflation will wipe out all that debt and transfer a lot of wealth from creditors (generally rich or well off) to debtors who tend to be middle and lower class.

Hyperinflation will ...

Unless Stoneliegh is right in her AutoEarth prediction for HyperDeflation ...

It could go either way. Neither is good.

Another great 'deep thought' post memmel, I always enjoy your posts (don't always have the time to read them the whole way though, man they are long).

Disenfranchisement and social inequality occurs in all democracies of course, but it's definately most striking in the US. I agree a major Peak Oil recession/depression in the future will worsen the plight of the 'underclasses' in many countries, and will be particularly bad in the US. However the US (and other democratic countries for that matter) have shown remarkable resilience to recover from nasty events before, and I'm not seeing Peak Oil destroying western democracies. For all its compromises and weaknesses (like the political process blatantly ignoring PO), it's the best system we've got, and most people know that.

Also, I'm in agreement with Don:

I think the timing of Peak Coal and Peak Natural gas (and their rates of decline) will be of importance in determining rates of decline in real GDP

.. that means I don't think you can be so confident in predicting a permanent decline starting within a few years.

The only question of course is how large and desperate can the bottom get before things get problematic obviously at some point as the class of impoverished people increase real democracy becomes difficult and defacto or real authoritarian governments become the norm

Remember there is force that needs to be exerted to maintain the status quo and so the elite have to maintain some army, and one that is generally motivated by nationalism in order to draw the the poor, but mentally capable disenfranchised into military service. So the pyramid is composed of a non resistant base of clay and then the people that maintain order, the stone above the clay and below the silver and gold elites. This group may just as easily strike at the head of the pyramid as they "remember where they came from" or those in the upper echelons of the gold and silver may cause this to occur.

The bottom will not start the revolt - The middle will begin it.

Welcome to the List!

It is good that Dr. Schlesinger has publicly acknowledged peak oil. It is a start that someone of his stature has placed a stake in the ground. He has been in the executive branch of government and understands US politics well. We need to start speaking about what we ought to do as loudly as we can though we may be drowned out by the Tea Party at the moment. They will not last because they have no understanding of problems or solutions and will provide nothing of benefit to those who elect them. One step which we would be well-advised to take is to make motor fuel more expensive and a source of revenue. We do need to reduce deficits, and it seems like sound policy to increase the price for oil products, particularly gasoline. It may take a some time, a lot of debate and wrangling for this to happen. Sometimes we make good decisions collectively, sometimes we don't. It makes sense to advocate for what we believe will be beneficial or harm-reducing strategies. No, it won't be popular. Nothing like talking about peak oil to make you popular. So as long as popularity is not in the cards, we may as well advocate for what we believe in, regardless of whether or not we believe it is enough.