Moving Forward - Towards A Kinder Gentler (Smaller) Oil Drum

For the past 5 years, The Oil Drum has been a home base for many high level discussions about the details and implications surrounding an early peak in global crude oil production as well as topics on society and energy in general. The entire site was started, and continued, by volunteers, in what might be described as a loose anarchy glued by social capital and a desire to puzzle solve the complexities surrounding energy depletion. Over time, on these pages, our contributing staff and especially the many readers who joined the discussions, have pushed the envelope in publicly analyzing what was/is one of the central issues of our time - the opportunities and constraints facing society during the upcoming energy transition.

In many ways our initial mission is over. The fact that oil depletion is real and urgent is no longer a 3+ standard deviation viewpoint (see recent IEA World Energy Outlook). However, thorough understanding of the nuances and importance of energy in our lives is still not widespread. Our plans on how best TOD can play a role in the ongoing energy debate, are below the fold.

The Oil Drum was started in 2005 by Kyle Saunders and Dave Summers. Over time the "staff" of volunteers grew to around 25. Since 2005 we've highlighted almost 7,000 posts, have had over 30 million visits and almost 70 million page views. TOD has been the premier destination for analysis and perspective on a near term peak in oil production.

Because of our (unexpected) popularity in the first couple years, it was decided that TOD required a corporate parent for liability reasons. Also, it was necessary to undergo the 501(c)(3) process, which enabled us to receive that tax-deductible donations that cover the operating costs. The Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future (ISEOF) was thus incorporated in October 2007. At that time, the three people spending the most time on steering the content and the public interface of the site were Kyle Saunders, David Goldberg (Super G) and myself. These three became the initial Board Members of the 501(c)(3). There will be changes/additions to this Board before year end.

For the past two years we have struggled with what The Oil Drum might become as global resource events accelerated, and the non-peak oil aware caught on to the arguments presented here in the early years. Over a year ago I wrote about the difficulties of very thoughtful people suddenly feel pressure to shift from being analysts to activists. Additionally, and more subtlely, though energy underpins nearly everything in society, the financial crisis caused (and will likely cause again), concerns about energy to be taken off the front burner for long periods. In considering the best path going forward, we realized we can no longer attempt to have content on all aspects of societal change, at risk of diluting the value of the things we are good at writing about. Furthermore, this is a part-time gig for all of us, so we had to consider how we might still enjoy and find meaning in our analysis, but do so in non-stressful, more sustainable ways.

Given the fire hydrant of information and front burner issues currently facing societies, it is easy to try to do everything, because a great deal needs to be accomplished. I see three main needs that the energy limits community can fill going forward - 1)continued documentation and analysis of energys role in society - how much we have left, what are decline rate, what are new technologies, what are environmental, social costs etc. 2) efforting on physical plans to support/mitigate changes in our just-in-time global production/delivery systems that have been dependent on cheap fossil fuels, themselves dependent on cheap credit, and 3) synthesizing all the disparate aspects supply and demand side science into a new more sustainable future human system - a blueprint that all or parts of might eventually be implemented.

All these areas are important, but as it pertains to this website, the issue kind of boiled down to 'what can we do' as opposed to 'what should we do' or 'want to do'. In envisioning a successful way forward, we started with a tabula rasa and considered what TOD might accomplish at this juncture of energy depletion/awareness. We have a choice between presenting interesting, newsy information for consumption by the energy/big picture savvy, or trying to present aspects of energy analysis and perspective that can be used as building blocks by future decision-makers, irrespective of how the financial/currency situation resolves. Historically, The Oil Drum was at its best when we presented raw energy analysis that was then honed, defended or discarded via the "TOD meat grinder." We would like to continue this tradition and remain a credible web portal for energy discussion going forward. Towards that goal, here is an overview of the main changes that are underway. (A more formal document with details will be forthcoming):

1. A return to an energy focus - Though we will still include content on how energy interrelates with the economy, ecology and social systems, the main focus will be on energy (as opposed to just financial, or environmental, or political) content. (E.g. posts on Chilean miner rescues or chicken farming will likely no longer be posted but articles on how high of energy costs an economic system can afford, with what sort of environmental externalities, will be.)

2. Quality over quantity - We will aim for fewer but in general higher quality posts, and hope that a raising of the bar will attract new writers/analysts with a wide range of energy expertise. We will also (largely due to request of Leanan, but also consistent with "smaller print", will go down to 3-4 Drumbeats per week, instead of 7. There will also be a space for current event topics that are deemed appropriate

3. A large editorial board, steering and approving content - A continual workload for 1 or 2 editors becomes a) too focused and b) too much work. We are going to an 8 person editorial board, growing over time. Also, 2 new paid positions will assist writers with image, content formatting and editorial needs.

4. Moderated community comments - The signal to noise ratio in the comments is in decline, partially due to the passage of time and no clear standards in this forum. This will also require a paid staff (that we are hiring outside of TOD).

There will be a new Mission Statement for The Oil Drum up shortly. (It is largely similar to the original one from 2005.) The proposed changes will start with new editorial procedures, outlined below.

The Oil Drum content guidelines and editorial process

The Oil Drum is a web community that seeks to facilitate civil, evidence-based discussions about energy and its impacts on the future of human societies, and to serve as a leading online knowledge-base about energy-related topics.

Conventional political, economic and media institutions still do not recognize energy’s role as a key contributor to human societies, and its importance as a driver for all of our physical processes and economic transactions. The Oil Drum aims to ensure that sufficient knowledge is available to society and that information about energy-related issues finds a platform with high scientific and ethical standards.

The following guidelines have been established in order to maintain a high quality of content and discussion and foster a civil dialogue consisting of evidence-based reasoning and logical arguments.

1. Standards for article subject matter

The Oil Drum features a wide range of content and opinion related to energy and the connection between energy and society. This includes:

  • Energy extraction, generation, conversion and storage technologies (e.g., advantages, disadvantages, progress, externalities, EROI, cost, long-term availability).
  • Energy application technologies (e.g., transportation, processes, space heating, etc.).
  • Energy systems integration (e.g., electricity grids, supply chains for transportation fuels, etc.) and transitions.
  • Implications of transformation of energy systems to societies, including discussions about limits, societal EROI, demand drivers, and other relevant aspects.
  • Thought-provoking opinions about the future of societies, provided that there is a clear connection to energy issues.

2. Standards for article quality

The Oil Drum explicitly seeks to provide a platform for a variety of perspectives that may differ and contradict each other, leaving readers to judge the value of an article by comparing and integrating it with other information. Thought-provoking and non-mainstream ideas are encouraged, so long as they are well-argued. Content should conform to the following guidelines:

  • As described in Section 1, articles should mainly revolve around energy, though may include a focus on energy’s connection to society as a whole.
  • Article content should consist of data from clearly identified sources and logical reasoning. Results should be reproducible by interested readers.
  • Articles should not be marketing material or written with the direct purpose of marketing technologies, products or services.
  • Opinion pieces should be clearly identified as such, and are intended to provoke thought and provide readers with interesting philosophical questions as opposed to prescriptive answers or speculative predictions.
  • Ideally articles should strive to meet as many of following adjectives as possible: Energy related, original, credible, relevant, concise, logical, neutral tone, non 'in group' language, and 'better' (if exploring similar subject as prior TOD posts).

It is understood that people write here because they are passionate about a certain topic of relevance to the energy debate. As such the editors will use the above list as initial filters, but no post will likely fit all criteria -we're just trying to upgrade quality and in return keep the content on the frontpage for a longer period than previously.

3. Contributors

The Oil Drum has a volunteer rotating staff of editors and contributors who write articles for the site on a regular basis. Guest contributions that meet the criteria for content and clarity are also welcome and will be encouraged in the future. A meta-list of topics that our current staff doesn't have the skillset or resources to address will be posted shortly.

4. Editorial process

  • The Oil Drum aims to publish two to three articles each week. The number of articles published will to some extent be determined by the availability of content that meets the editorial standards.
  • Ideally articles should be between 1,000 and 3,000 words long. Longer articles are acceptable, but the editors may decide to split these articles into two or more parts.
  • Each article must be approved by three editors before it is published.
  • [Ed. note, corrected 11/27 1p EST] If three editors disapprove of an article, it will not be published.
  • If an article receives three approvals and three disapprovals, a discussion among the editors will be facilitated. If no consensus can be reached, the article in question will not be published.
  • Guest submissions will be routed into a separate queue where staff members can choose to "take ownership" of them and guide them through the publication process.

The new editorial Board will initially be comprised of:

Arthur Berman, Hannes Kunz, Rembrandt Koppelaar, Brian Maschoff (Joules Burn), Euan Mearns, David Summers (Heading Out), Gail Tverberg, and Chris Vernon. It is expected this board will grow over time.

5. Comment monitoring and management

We are moving towards moderated comments. This does not mean comments will stack up in a queue, but that inappropriate content will be removed shortly after its posting. We will not moderate comments on content being right or wrong, but will remove comments that are: 1) off topic, 2) spam/product marketing, 3) personal attacks, 4) religious or political screeds, 5) excessive "thread hogging". I.e. it is possible that very few comments will be removed. But this is deemed necessary to retain a high "signal to noise" ratio. More details will be posted soon.

An intelligent national/global energy debate is still sorely needed. Even though there is increasing recognition about a near term peak in oil production, there is still little awareness that 1) energy is needed for every good produced in our economies, 2) that energy is treated the same as every other input to the production function in our institutions: (i.e. energy is perfectly substitutable) and 3) that it takes other natural resources, including energy itself, to procure energy. These are important things to explore and understand. TOD, both its contributing writers, and the energy community that hangs out here, can still play a role in better understanding and communicating these and related issues.

The plans articulated above are the result of months of discussions among the key people involved with TOD and are considered the most likely to be sustainable and impactful. I expect not everyone will be happy about these changes– some will be concerned our content will become overly boring. I would rebut that being exciting and novel for readers is not necessarily correlated with being productive/helpful for broader society. Others will argue that complexity and therefore accuracy is lost when focusing on energy and de-emphasizing interconnected topics such as finance, debt, ecology, the environment, social equity, and politics, etc. I happen to agree with these people. But if every discussion ends up bringing in all aspects of our societal system, it often quickly becomes either an "inside conversation" of interest only to an elite few, or attracts so many polarized viewpoints that the same circular unproductive arguments are the end result of each thread. Neither of these outcomes ends up being productive.

In conclusion of this overview, I'd like to thank all of the people that have volunteered their time here during the past 5 years, especially David Goldberg, Kyle Saunders, Gail Tverberg and Leanan. I'd also like to thank all the bright, civically motivated minds who have made the discussion threads here second to none - I hope many of you continue to visit, learn and contribute on these pages. The open community model that made The Oil Drum such a special place is not going away - just being streamlined and hopefully more manageable and sustainable. Despite the increasing recognition of global energy constraints, there still is an analysis and perspective gap between the Wall St and for-profit energy agencies, and the quick on their feet social vantage point analysis found here. I think, with help from the civically motivated in this community, we still can fill a niche writing about all things energy, in credible, interesting and relevant ways that are faster than a peer review journal but also deeper and more impactful than conventional media.

Best wishes for these changes.I hope you give nuclear energy the proper place in the discussion.By that I mean that the staff be free as far as possible from the sort of anti-nuclear religious ideology that permeates a lot of energy related sites.

.By that I mean that the staff be free as far as possible from the sort of anti-nuclear religious ideology that permeates a lot of energy related sites.

So you wish to have an unrealistic vision of the safety of fission power be the message?

Yes, nuclear energy should be considered without flinching from its negative aspects. There are many people and corporations that would benefit enormously from a giant expansion in nuke power ... expect them to be registered here already as frequent contributors. En garde!

The biggest problem I see is in discussing oil and energy without considering not only the imminent effects of depletion, but also the enormous problems oil has created. Oil is fossilised sunlight, and we have released millions of years of this accumulated sunlight into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, in the last century or two. The effects of this are sure to dwarf our struggles with living on a lower energy budget. So how can you separate oil from climate change, in all good faith? They are inextricably interwoven.

Do what you have to do, guys. This is hands down the absolute BEST Peak Oil web site going as far as the extreme professionalism, scientific purity, and overall journalistic integrity that you have all unflinchingly delivered to the public for the past 5 (?) years. I hesitate to recommend too many other Peak Oil webs sites to my Doubting Thomas friends and family due to the issue-confusing peripherals of Climate Change and the occasional conspiracy theory or two that often lurks around the edges of so many other Peak Oil sites. But this web site has always been top flight and has never given me cause for concern.

And for the record -- my vote is that the Drum Beat is the one thing that keeps me coming back again and again with consistency. If Leanan needs to scale it back a bit, so be it. Leanan has done a bang-up job with that news digest and my Peak Oil news gathering efforts would be seriously hampered if the Drum Beat were to disappear completely.

+1. I used to like the world news and the ongoing coverage of oil related impacts around the world. But the spill and the aftermath got too technical for my taste. I still happened to come back for Drum Beat (and the excellent posts by Dr.Heading Out) - these are the most awesomest elements of TOD that will keep me coming back.

I'm very much the lurker here as it's not really my wheelhouse. Communications are, so I'll offer this from my basic toolkit:

Consider the value of your best commenters when developing plans for moderation. The group moderation approach looks to have your top few commenters 1) lead by example, 2) specify and support an easily understood standard, 3) encourage good commenters to comment more and 4) help the weaker commenters improve or move to the sidelines.

Everything you say about removing spam and, in your particular case, keeping the religio-political silliness to a minimum still stands. It's just that this approach puts in place a "comments-positive" middle ground between "if we had a giant screw..." and "comment deleted by moderator".

FWIW. Best regards.

The editors and regular contributers here deserve a huge thank-you for their selfless effort and opinion-shaping presentations. The changes proposed should increase readability from my perspective, and I'll certainly continue to visit.

As a very infrequent commenter, regular reader and an RSS subscriber, this is somewhat a relief to me. This site can be a firehose, especially with the Drumbeat updates which are so frequent and huge.

I agree, I've found it increasingly too difficult to keep up. Skipping in whole or part some articles, and especially comments. Most of us have other aspects to our lives, and higher signal to noise ration ,despite the risk that some signal may be thrown out with the noise seems a neccesary change. I look forward to seeing the result.

Being an extremly frequent reader with a keen interest in Peak Oil over several years, this "smaller version" thinking comes as a relief to me.
When I started on the Peak Oil path and stumbled upon The Oil Drum, it was a vital source of information and analysis about the future problem of Peak Oil. Bur I have in the last year dropped in on the site ever more infrequently because I have noticed just the things you take up in the post. The information is being "diluted" in that way that there is so much information and on so many different topics that it has become harder to find the really interesting information about the Peak Oil problem.

I am wishing the best and hope to see a new "slimmer" more to the point version of the Oil Drum, since I miss the version I stumbled upon so long ago.

I applaud the new focus. There are many financial, political, and environmental websites. TOD is the paragon of energy analysis, and that is where the focus should be. Best hopes for the next 5 years.

I agree with you, Microhydro. As I see it, these "new" changes are largely turning the clock back to the way TOD was four or five years ago. In accordance with thse new guidlines, I am taking off my economist hat for comments and instead will focus more on macrosociology, which is directly connected to the amount of energy a society or community uses.

I'm very excited about these plans for The Oil Drum. Many thanks to all!

I'M NOT...!!!

Who's the target audience...? People who already know all about peak oil and implications and just want to discuss the hyper technical details of fracking...?

This could be a big mistake....

Agree totally...

If we only discuss our energy thing whithout its impacts, this site would stop changing anything. It would just be some theoretical scientific discussion.

Chicken farming (i understand nothing about :) would possibly be a boring thing to write about, but it might real help someone.

If the practical component would be lost, i would decide to read more relevant thing anywhere.

True - but peak oil .com is coving that area very well

I have to say, the emphasis on 'energy', at least in the way its described, worries me.

We are at or past peak, I don't think anyone here disputes this. Therefore the future is concerned with the decline, the shape of it, how it impacts on society, mitigation and transition. As such, although you can easily concentrate on 'energy' on the way up (expecting the system to continue as it always has), the other side of the peak is concerned with how the systems of society interact, twist and possibly collapse.

We are in the middle of complex, adaptive, system that is about to undergo the most sizeable change for hundreds of years. There's no part you can study in isolation from the whole.

As such, concentrating on just 'energy' is like minutely concentrating on oven temperature when baking a cake - and ignoring the ingredients, cooking time, mixing, and even the recipe.

I generally kept out of the extensive too and fro on the Horizon oil spill, not because it wasn't interesting, but because it directly said little about the oil decline. The only part that really counts towards that larger question is the policy impacts - which didn't get the attention.

One of the key questions about the oil decline, how existing reservoirs are exploited and how steep the curve is, will be rationing of fuel for domestic vehicles. Yet will that be covered under your new mission?

It's all interconnected; we need to be looking at the big picture; this is no time to be focusing down.

All IMHO, of course.

emphasis on [only] 'energy' [in the new TOD] worries me.

Ditto here.

I've always felt that PO is kind of a tip of the iceberg rather than the crux of the ship sinker.

But hey, this web site is your web site and you got the right to do as you please.

I'm wondering if anyone here can offer suggestions for TOD-like alternative blogs where things like finance, politics, religion, etc. can be discussed at a low flame temperature? Much appreciated.

I'm wondering if anyone here can offer suggestions for TOD-like alternative blogs where things like finance, politics, religion, etc. can be discussed at a low flame temperature? Much appreciated.

I very much agree with this and offered my own suggestions a few drumbeats ago.

What I would like to see is a one-time thread entitled What sites do you look at on a daily basis...and why, or at least, by topic.

I recognize that this would turn into one of those 300 comment/100 page things but I frankly believe that those of us who have supported TOD sort of have a right to have, not closure, but rather a mechanism to remain in contact/discussion on topics TOD will no longer provide.


I've followed The Automatic Earth when they split from TOD. Funniliy enough it was only when they split that I was even alerted to stonleigh and ilargis efforts.

They have done a fantastic job covering finance and the link with energy and I think in some ways it is a pity that could not be accommodated within the TOD family of websites.

Campfire is another TOD site that I actually enjoy for its freedom of exploring the peripheral issues and the more relaxed standard of discussion. Whats to become of that?

I probably will be doing like many other Oil Drum staff members and writing on a personal blog in addition to The Oil Drum. I started Our Finite World back in 2007, but then set it aside when I got so involved with The Oil Drum.

You've carried a heavy load here for quite a while, so it will be good to visit your restarted blog again. Thanks for your hard work and long hours.

I like what you had to say on your own site Gail........ I didn't know your blog existed until today, I have added it to my list of peak oil sites to visit.

What sites do you look at on a daily basis...and why

Until just now, there has been little reason to scout out alternate PO sites.

TOD was the "it" place to go.

Energy Bulletin is usually my other, but less frequent stopping point.

I may end up returning to random samplings of recent (last 24 hour) blog posts on PO by using the Google blog tool here

We started a new magazine, also with the top focus in energy, but encompassing broader topics such as society, economy, etc. It's called Transition Voice and is available at Of course, we're huge TOD fans, and owe a debt of gratitude to being able to start such a magazine on the basis that others trod the pioneering road well on this topic before us. Still, we're giving it our best go. Hope you'll check us out, and that there's enough room on the block for many ways to explore/look at an issue.

Our comments are also currently moderated, mostly to avoid spam. After an initial non spam post, users post outside of moderation unless things get sticky (that would mainly be abusiveness, not point of view). Like others though, we do like things on-topic.

Good luck TOD on your new direction. I'm sure it will be great. (And we love Arthur Berman!)

Thank you for offering this link and your site.

I just spent ~30 minutes perusing it and another 15 minutes on another site linked to yours (freedomguerrilla)

Your site looks worth revisiting!

My reaction is similar -- I regret that the peak-oil-related type stuff might get ignored, and there's so much of it. On the other hand, I will be excited to see what the new TOD will be putting out, and what positive things can be accomplished with this increased focus!

Two alternative web sites:
1. ASPO-USA -- they have a "peak oil daily" and a "peak oil review" (weekly) and they archive all their stuff on PDF files for you to read. You can subscribe to "PODaily" here and get it in your In Box as a PDF file. It's similar to "Drumbeat."

2. Steady-State Economics (ecological economics, Herman Daly type stuff, etc.). They have a Google discussion group here, which is what I consult most frequently. It's not as "heavy" as TOD but there are items of interest.

I also look at some of the other web sites mentioned elsewhere -- Automatic Earth and Peak Oil Bulletin.

Best wishes all.


I do tend to check ASPO once a week or once every other week..., but I'd check TOD even on holidays........

I hope that doesn't change.

Yup. Energy is only one aspect of our predicament. What is the big picture? Will concentrating on energy actually be a service as the world slowly come to realise the unsustainable nature of its living arrangements? Energy will always be important but it what role does it have in a sustainable world? Probably far, far less than it does today. How we get to sustainability is not by concentrating on energy issues but by figuring out the features of a sustainable society and on the paths to get there. Energy will form a part of that, no doubt, but, in my opinion, is of far less importance than, say, how we produce food or how we obtain and use water or how we reduce the extinction rate, and so on. Ultimately, we need to live on the earth's annual budget of resources and energy, without damaging our habitat, to reach sustainability. I don't think the new The Oil Drum will be a big player in that debate, from what this article describes.

This seems more or less like a Do One Thing and Do it Well kind of policy, and that seems like a very good way to be valuable. These policies all seem reasonable as a starting point. I hope that part of the editorial (or management) process will be a regular evaluation of the product and process. I wish you the best for these changes and for the continued relevance and impact of this truly excellent site.


This seems more or less like a Do One Thing and Do it Well kind of policy,

The problem is energy and its use is not in a void. It is tied to economics, politics and other topics.

And 'energy sources' mean different things to different people. Some only see 'energy dense' things like fossil fuels or fission power as the only options. Others see things like wind machines as whirling blades of death. Still others hold out for technofixes.

Same with economics - Meses VS kensian VS .... what model is right? Is a new model like eMergy better?

eMergy is not the answer. It has been around in academia for about a quarter of a century, if memory serves, and it is a concept that seemed to have great potential but never went anywhere much. Sort of like game theory back in the 1950s: There was great hope that game theory would provide THE answers, but things like the Nash equilibrium are trivial, when you get down to real-world cases.

Fortunately, I'm able to hold contradictory ideas in my mind without going nuts. I am a huge admirer of John Maynard Keynes, but also of Joseph Schumpeter and Friedrich von Hayek, and I think Milton Friedman contributed an enormous amount to our understanding of economics. It was Friedman who said, in CAPITALISM AND FREEDOM, that it was a disgrace to have poor people in the U.S., and that we should implement a Negative Income Tax (NIT) to end poverty in our country. Economists like this idea. Politicians hate it. Politicians rule.

Sort of like game theory back in the 1950s: There was great hope that game theory would provide THE answers, but things like the Nash equilibrium are trivial, when you get down to real-world cases.

Not to sidetrack the intent of this post, but game theory is far from trivial. It is in fact a show-stopper in making any real progress in modeling much of human economic interactions. Any time you try to pin down an economic model, the human will respond in a way to counteract the theory and any efficiency hypothesized. That is real-life game theory in a nutshell. Maybe you were referring to "toy" game theory problems, and not "real life" ones?

Congrats on the new TOD evolution. Interested to see some of the new articles coming out in the future. Any chance Stuart will do some or he sticking to his personal site?

Interesting. Skimmed or read most post over the past 4 plus years. Think I understand where you are headed. The massive increase in traffic during the oil rupture in the Gulf and overly speculative comments, based on absolutely no data, was frustrating to this old man. Occasionally, I do enjoy lighter articles, but can always go to the Energy Bulletin for this broader picture. George Mobus at the Question Everything site provides excellent systems info. A more intensive focus on energy matters seems appropriate. This is my favorite site on the internet. Now that the harvest season is coming to an end I will miss the normal two or three articles a day, but am sure I will adjust. Sure do wish ya'll would give us old folks a Campfire occasionally. Some of the old timers provide comments on these and they will be missed.

30 million visits/ 70 million page views all on volunteer model? Is there any other instance of that?
Keep up the good work - I've learned more here than on my day job -I work at a Utility..;-)

Yes, lots and lots. Just about the entire first-generation blogosphere worked on this level and the most popular volunteer sites, many times a single person, easily exceeded those numbers.

I think the niche is there. The climate science sites have been pointing in this direction -- more customized blogs dealing with topics in depth. The most intriguing recent one is Azimuth which has an associated wiki.

"...TOD required a corporate parent for liability reasons. Also, it was necessary to undergo the 501(c)(3) process, which enabled us to receive that tax-deductible donations that cover the operating costs. The Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future (ISEOF) was thus incorporated in October 2007."

Where do we contribute?

I wanted to make a statement in complete support of Nate, SuperG, and all of their efforts to implement these changes that are about to be enacted. They have been working diligently to forge consensus and to put these plans into motion--spending time that could have been spent with family and friends and other work to do this. And they should be thanked for many days to come.

The truth is that many of us have been thinking about these changes for over two years--and how to best serve our community and the future. This new plan is the model that just about everyone on our staff supports; further, everyone on our staff was given a voice in the process--to the exclusion of no one. A couple of staff have voiced their concerns, and those have been duly noted--but frankly it is time to move forward.

While I have backed away from the day-to-day operations (for myriad reasons, but mainly that it was time for new blood and a new set of norms to be mapped onto the system), I remain involved behind the scenes and serve as a part of ISEOF--and I plan to be involved for many years to come.

This is too important of an endeavor to not take seriously, to not allow to evolve, and to not place at the forefront of our attentions. It may fail miserably, but what is being done is indeed being done for the right reasons.

In turn, these changes are going to ask more of many of our staff in putting together quality content; but further, it is also going to ask even more of the members of this community. We need your help to refine the TOD meat grinder in order to make it even sharper and even more relevant to decision-makers at every level.

You can see the improved mission statement and you see the map of the inner workings. We are attempting to increase quality and transparency; and we believe it is an effort you will find worthy of this community and your time.

To that, there are so many things we can do--but we need human capital, fiscal capital, social capital, and political capital to do it. All of these steps we are taking, in our opinion, allow us to better position ourselves to gain in all of those important areas.

However, we cannot do it without your help.

We hope you will support us with your readership, spreading the word, and, if you are inclined in other ways if you find ours a worthwhile mission and goal set.

The community will always matter here--and we believe this is the best way we can serve it, as well as the greater good.

My best to you all. Good luck, and let's make the future a little bit better.

I think this will make an improvement in the quality of the web site. The signal-to-noise ratio has become very poor in recent months, and the off-topic comments and personal attacks contribute nothing to that discussion. If you get rid of all the extraneous noise, it would be much easier to keep up with the relevant portions of the discussion.

The site should be focused primarily on a discussion of energy, particularly that provided by oil, and persons who have nothing useful to contribute to that discussion, or have their own particular hobby-horse to ride, or just want to tell everybody how much they hate something or somebody, should see their comments deleted.

Not that I don't have my own particular hobby horses to ride, but I think I can avoid talking about them if everybody else does.

RMG, I agree with everything you say, except for energy, particularly...oil.

Oil is boring now; we all know that the world is at Peak Oil, give or take a few years. But what of Peak Coal and Peak Gas?

Declining oil supplies will not be disastrous for most of the world, so long as other fossil fuels can fill the gap. What we need to worry about is when all fossil fuels are in steep decline.

I don't quite agree that "oil is boring now". Yes we have passed Peak Oil if you ask me, but the downslope turned out to have a very small tilt to it. So there is this very interesting matter to discuss when the fall begins to pick up speed. This is one of the most important PO related things I keep my eyes open for.

I'm not sure where you all are or how you all got there - but thank God you did. A big thank you for your never ending efforts. I'm not completely clear of the technical aspects but the main message is as plain as day to me. You are all over my Facebook page, most of my family and friends think I have lost it. Oh well I'm sure they will come around - at some stage - for better or worse! Thanks again - keep up the good work.


All this seems very sensible to me. While energy is only one piece of the puzzle, it's arguably the most crucial piece -- given enough energy there would be very few challenges industrial civilization couldn't solve, while energy shortfalls make even fairly modest challenges insuperable -- and it's complex enough that it deserves its own space for exploration and discussion. The new approach will, I think, allow TOD to build on its very considerable strengths as the go-to place for peak oil news and information.

I'd also like to join with the others who have already mentioned this, in thanking Leanan, Gail, Professor Goose, SuperG, and, yes, you too, Nate, for all the hard work you've all put into this project over the years. TOD is one of the two peak oil sites I visit every day, and a good half if not more of the stuff I've posted at The Archdruid Report has been riffing off information I got here. I couldn't do it without you guys; keep up the excellent work!

Thanks for your thanks. It will be interesting to see how the new system evolves.

It will be interesting to see how the new system evolves.

I was just thinking the same thing. More specifically, I was wondering what is the criteria for success? Or is there such a thing? So far all I've heard is "fewer posts" and "better comments".

By that standard I would say the site ain't broken now.


I have been a member since 2005 and have appreciated the work of many who edit and write posts. I do believe there is more work to be done which could be done at this site. In particular, i am interested in continued updates on energy alternatives, policies related to peak oil, and the social implications declining energy supplies. The influence of this site on policy may be minimal, but it has contributed substantially to debate. I hope that posters can continue to supply not only scientific and technical expertise about energy, but also identify optimal social responses to peak oil. I do look at the Energy Bulletin and other sites, but TOD is the first and last place I go.

Earth Air, Fire, Water. Which? All of them of course, but fire we can get along without much of if we have the others, but if we don't have ALL of the others, we're done.

Sure, energy is a good one, but it has gotta be linked to environment, no? Nuclear, for example. As a simple-minded engineer, I like nuclear. Everything about it looks great to me, except-- there's the rub. Humans can be pretty nasty animals, and if some of the nasty ones got ahold of nuclear in the wrong way, so long to earth, air, water and us. Will it be ok to talk about that here? I hope so.

Anyhow, many thanks to all you non-nasty people here. A great site. And to you too, JMG.

"the go-to place for peak oil news and information."

But "peak oil" is history and of little value to those looking forward. What the "go-to place" will be is the one covering the implications of declining energy for society and the economy. Energy depletion is going to reshape our world completely and affect every single person on the planet. Its the effects not the fact which is important going forward.

I don't think anyone on staff disagrees.

But it's not our forte. We can't be an "everything bagel," and we've decided it would be a mistake to try. Instead, we'll concentrate on what we're good at, and let others do what they're good at. Hopefully our work will supply information that others will find useful to do their work.

Well I'm not sure we can be absolutely certain that peak is behind us, though that may not be all that relevant if we are in peak / bumpy plateau terrain. And whilst a number of readers may feel sure they know all there is to know, the VAST majority of folks out there including policy makers and journalists remain to be convinced. So there is still a place for sober repetition and refining of objective presentation of data.

And the focus will not be over restrictive - impacts of less per capita net energy upon society going forward and competition for that energy will I hope remain core TOD content.

"But "peak oil" is history and of little value to those looking forward."

The first step is to 'admit' there is a problem. While that may be true for most of us who read this blog I'm not so sure about 'the others'. Because I live surrounded by 'the others' I sincerely wish success in that I understand 'phase 2' of TOD is to become. Obviously there are many very serious concerns going forward.

My many thanks to all the work you guys have done, both TOD organizers, and other industry insiders. Explaining over and over to us non-oil types what are the problem's.

I'm most grateful.

"Everything bagel," ha, I like that. And fewer DBs will mean a bigger bagel? Why don't we see those - bigger bagels, that is - some OSHA or FDA reg? Of course it can be done, I know that without checking.

Maybe it's a tiny person, of course.

Also know without checking that much of the bean counting done here could be automated - the Oilwatches, for instance. No different than the price tickers in the sidebar. Being an efficiency buff I'd like to see that done but barely know what PERL is, let alone how to utilize it.


"given enough energy" seems a very simplistic and meaningless comment, and quite a surprise. We aren't the Krell but, even then, other resources would still be needed to be consumed, at increasing rates, for industrial civilization to keep going the way it is. That is unsustainable.

Our future is almost certainly one with less energy (whether planned or forced by nature) so it would seem better to concentrate on ways of living that require much less energy - ideally, not much more than the food we eat. A site that concentrates on the small picture of energy will not help us much to see the big picture.

However, I agree that the people involved here have done a great job. I'm just sad that it's likely to be a site, in future, that is far less relevant to our future.

I found out about Peak Oil about 2 years ago as a byproduct of my studies of climate change. Once I "got it" I was totaly hooked by it and spent hoursevery day studying this topic at the peak of my interest. Over time I learnt that there was one place on the web where you found better information and more competent forum discussions than anywhere else; here at TOD.

I understand that as time goes by, occationally you need to sit down and have that conversation; what are we doing, where are we heading? Normally that leads to changes. It is necesary in order to stay healthy and to stay alive. This is such a time, and I can only wish you the best for the future. This is a great place and I will keep hanging out here, have learnt alot.

I would like to commend everyone at The Oil Drum for these changes - they make a great deal of sense. Quality over quantity is essential for TOD to have credibility, and it is also much better for the sanity of readers. With a smaller number of more tightly focused postings, I feel I may have a chance of keeping abreast of TOD content.

My hearfelt thanks to the editors and board!

Tom Whipple at ASPO has been cranking out a good, terse weekly summary of PO related news for years now. Meanwhile TOD has Drumbeat. So there appears to be some duplicated effort between them. Has TOD considered possibilities to collaborate with Whipple/ASPO?

I used some of Tom Whipple's articles when I substituted for Leanan on Drumbeat. (I worked out an arrangement with him ahead of time.) His focus is somewhat different, so I dropped a few articles and added others.

Many thanks for everyone's hard work in developing the premier PO site. I think sometimes we forget just how important this site is in leading discussion on perhaps the most important issue of our era. If there were only one website I could access, this would be it hands down. I also tend to agree that recently the quality of comments has declined and probably needs moderating. I've failed to keep up with the greater number of diffuse articles as well, so you'd have my vote on the new article format - if we were voting :)
In addition to trolling, which this site never used to have, it is also unfortunate that more people seem to be posting more frequently outside their area of expertise. Good luck with handling that though. My only suggestion is that you consider bringing back the comment rating function. I, and perhaps many other readers with limited time, found it useful sometimes to skim the comments and mainly read those with a strong positive (or negative) rating.

It seems to me that there used to be a kind of unspoken (as far as I knew) code that nearly every post was backed up by a link of some sort. While I don't want to ban mere opinion (since that's mostly what I have to offer), I think trying to attain to something like that standard again may provide an even higher quality site, especially as TOD refocuses on energy issues.

I like that rule. Opinion in comments, well, ok but show us the definitive source of the base at least.

Others will argue that complexity and therefore accuracy is lost when focusing on energy and de-emphasizing interconnected topics such as finance, debt, ecology, the environment, social equity, and politics, etc. I happen to agree with these people.

Couldn't agree more or say it better. Without discussion and analysis of the interconnections, discussions about energy are artificial and not connected to the real world where those impacts are and will be felt. Signal to noise ratio? Perhaps some of your noise is my signal.

Discussing energy, especially fossil fuels, without discussing climate change is like discussing climate change without discussing energy. Yes, I can go to real climate for a discussion of climate change, but all that tells me is pretty much an affirmation of what I already know and doesn't provide the proper context for a solution to the very problem it discusses.

Any national policy changes going forward will be based, hopefully, on a consideration of all the related impacts of energy use and production. Our society's proclivity to try to put things in separate boxes is part of the problem. Drill, baby, drill is a good example of ignorance of and ignoring of the boundaries. Putting in alternatives like wind power or solar is very much about the economics and financial impacts of same.

we will continue to have climate, finance, economic, environmental pieces, but only as they explicitly relate to energy. We have crafted a climate change policy guideline on what aspects of climate change are acceptable fare here - e.g. questioning if climate change is anthropogenic is not fair game, but questioning the energy cost of CCS is.

Some of our noise might indeed be your signal - but we've assembled mostly oil/energy people here - to write outside our core expertise means we have lower quality content and make less of an impact. No one is disputing that the big picture includes things other than energy. But we can't do everything, so we will bite off what we can chew and if something more materializes, then great.

It strikes me that we're going to be individually affected more by societies response to energy decline than the actual decline. So energy discussion of itself may not be what people require to understand the implications of peak oil and energy decline. For example it is more important to discuss the implications of a 2% decline rate than it is to discuss the 2% decline rate. Oil and energy people don't seem to have the necessary skills in this context to throw light on the real problems we have with energy or lack of it. Hope this makes sense.

Well it is hard to be an expert in everything, and while we have some here who have bridged the gap between both the fields of energy and finance, I would like to say bluntly that being an energy expert doesn't necessarily qualify a person to be a finance expert. I come previously from a major Wall Street but would never even hope to obtain the nearly the level of understanding that some here at TOD have about energy.

The implications of the decline of oil on our way of life will be astoudning, and quite likley occurring even faster than most everyone can adjust to. I hope there is some room to discuss those implications - without having to visit sites run by other energy experts that may lack a fuller understanding of the effects of PO on finance and society.

Since there are several paid positions, the donations to the Oil Drum must be substantial and reflect more than donations from readers. Will you reveal any corporate funding that you receive so that we can know if there is any bias in the articles and moderation?


What is it that makes the word volunteers so difficult to understand? There is and has been no such thing as a paid position at The Oil Drum.

I would say Gail's paid trip to Ecuador, and the resulting infomercial was as close as we got.
We all are conditioned by our environment and the resulting feedback loops.
But in general, I commend TOD on its equanimity, even within its often lack of political literacy.

However, as I understand the strategy (which I agree with), there is a danger of putting things in too small size of boxes, and losing connection with the world we live in.

TOD has been a invaluable resource for me.
Thanks to everyone.

There is a saying in Latin that translates: "Money does not stink." (It was from one of the emperors who had added a small fee to prevent the public toilets in Rome from going broke.) IMHO, I think it would be best if TOD kept sources of contributions confidential. For one thing, I think they will get more income this way.

there has been zero corporate funding. all donations have been from individuals (all TOD readers). And they are not substantial - most in the $20-$50 range.

and there will be 2 paid positions, not several but none 'on staff'- 1 part time editor and 1 (mostly full time) comment moderator. I should repeat - no writer or editor has ever made a penny from their efforts here. (though I would argue they have been paid well in social and human capital)

There is no inherent bias, other than 'writing bias' - those people that write articles that were/are accepted by editors get airtime. It is my intent to eventually have 20 or 30 editors with a wide range of energy expertise and perspective.

Admittedly the statement was ambiguous "there will be two new paid positions" can mean additional paid positions or positions that are new in the sense of being paid for the first time. For clarity you might change it to "two new positions that are paid positions for the first time". I apologize for not seeking clarity first, but frankly there does seem to be bias on The Oil Drum. I remember being moderated away for addressing climate change on a post which mentioned climate change in the body of the post. If climate change comments can be deleted just because they don't address the main subject and the author can be dismissive of climate change issues but comments on that disregard for climate change can be deleted, there is bias.

Our plans on how best to present energy related content in an effort to arm and influence decision-makers at this stage of the game, are below the fold.

Good luck. I think that statement indicates that The Oil Drum has no clue about where we are in the process of collapse. We MUST collapse soon and dramatically or the planet will become unlivable for humans. The decision makers in a post collapse industrial civilization are going to be those who can survive the collapse not those responsible for it by trying to keep a semblance of BAU going.

At this moment in time I support a more top down paternal culture. If the/an agenda is to be addressed a coherent world view needs to be constructed and sold. This requires those constructing it have a high degree of confidence in there own thinking [you lot at TOD].

someone is going to need to ask for mandated power of some sort.. I nominate you lot (Nate Gail et al)

That time has come. You are our leaders. What do you want us to do?

Right on, Gem.

American consumers will spend about a half trillon dollars this holiday season on largley useless little chunks of embedded energy. Most of these folks, if questioned, likely think "Peak Oil" is a mountain in the KSA. It is as clear as ever that the consumption meme is as deeply embedded in our culture as is the energy in their toys. Add to this the obscene amount of energy they will use to aquire this stuff, and the truth becomes glaringly self-evident.

I do applaud the staff at TOD, for their past contributions to the cause, and their current focus on refining the message. This critical work continues, as it must. Yet to focus on policy change and educating the elite as to the implications of our permanent energy conundrum may be wasted energy in itself.

The top-down approach clearly isn't working. The political and financial sectors, though surely aware to some degree of our multiple predicaments, have neither the motivation nor the tools to address peak oil in any meaningful way (or any of our other looming predicaments). From the top down, the culture, the system, is incompatible with achieving the changes required, at the level required. No "urgency of now", no "yes, we can".... no "ask not what your country can do for you".

Many, like myself, have spent years powering down, preparing for life after the peak. While setting an example of what can be done, what must be done, I feel like the a proverbial drop-in-the-bucket, a bucket that is becoming increasingly foul, little hope for clarity in the mix.

If TOD narrows its focus too much, they may be turning their back on the most effective affect that they have had on society; that of changing minds/lives one at a time. Educating TPTB is hopeless IMO. Their priorities are at odds to the stated mission. Educating a significant portion of the masses about Peak Oil and its complex brothers and sisters in the time required will be fruitless.

Collapse will be the great teacher. Best to focus on educating those that aren't so easily misled as to how to deal with it, the timing of the peak oil aftermath, and what their alternatives are.

TOD finding "new focus" may be like the Twilight Zone classic, "Time Enough At Last" when Burgess Meredith breaks his glasses. I sincerely hope not. Regardless, looking forward, for more clarity.

The top-down approach clearly isn't working. The political and financial sectors, though surely aware to some degree of our multiple predicaments, have neither the motivation nor the tools to address peak oil in any meaningful way (or any of our other looming predicaments). From the top down, the culture, the system, is incompatible with achieving the changes required, at the level required . . .

If TOD narrows its focus too much, they may be turning their back on the most effective affect that they have had on society; that of changing minds/lives one at a time. Educating TPTB is hopeless IMO. Their priorities are at odds to the stated mission.

Well-said. The noble, but hopelessly idealistic goal of reforming TOD to "arm and influence decision-makers" is completely misguided. Policy-makers are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the corporate/plutocratic class. This segment of our society is mostly in the know about energy issues already, but their focus will be on their own self-interest. I seriously doubt TOD will be influencing the powers that be to adopt policies to benefit the general population.

Collapse will be the great teacher. Best to focus on educating those that aren't so easily misled as to how to deal with it, the timing of the peak oil aftermath, and what their alternatives are.

Hear, hear.


Ghung I find your argument persuasive. It is a mistake to aim the TOD message at the top--political, financial, or media elites. Hierarchical power structures in the USA have an inherent bias for debt-based systems, and find discussions of global/resource limits distasteful. The political and financial classes here (where "socialism" or "labor" is unpatriotic) need an ever-expanding opportunity-pie, sliced their way, to counter calls for redistribution of any kind. The media (consciously or not, advertising and editorial departments included) is in bed with it's revenue source--the consumer society.

I love TOD the way it is. The only serious source of clear-headed, concise, well-written debate on the most crucial issues of this or any day.

I've only dropped comments here occasionally but wish to agree with Ghung on this issue as well as his sentiments scattered elsewhere that teaching at a grassroots level, using ethics and technologies still existent amongst the dwindling aboriginal types of the world (and/or those that live like them), would be a sound path. As Daniel Quinn and no doubt others have pointed out, most reading this blog live and breath Webster's definition of "Civilization" ["1a: A relatively high level of cultural and technological development; specifically, a stage of cultural development at which writing and the keeping of written records is attained."] This "religion of civilization" would be as difficult to shed as any world view which had psychologically supported us from day one. I can't help but recall Dan Everett's book "Don't Sleep, There are Snakes" as he describes his missionary work amongst the Piraha natives of Brazil. In this case, he was trying to teach them the "higher" path of Christianity, until it became clear at the end of the book that they in no way felt "lost" and therefore had no need to be "saved". (Indeed, by the end, Everett loses his Christian faith, having been converted by the Piraha.) So there is much to be understood from the ways of such people. I also wish to state my (perhaps false) impression that although clearly not ALL aboriginal cultures have practices and ethics worth emulating, ONLY aboriginal culture, as compared to civilized cultures, have managed to navigate the centuries without fouling their nest and depleting their resources.

With regards to what TOD can do, IMHO, as a great service to its readership: Present scenarios, starting now but that will evolve annually, showing the costs of operating typical homes in the colder climates as well as warmer ones. Compare these costs of using typical sources of power (utility-supplied electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, etc.) with those using alternatives (wind, solar cells, passive solar space/water heating,geothermal heating/cooling, etc.). Include data on use reduction: Allow the reader to click tabs showing the elimination in the home of a TV, clothes dryer, electric range, particle accelerator (just kidding on the last one), etc. .......much like you do when you are clicking options when ordering a computer online. So for example, I would love to see a cost comparison, in northern Minnesota, for operating a "typical" versus "efficient" home of X square feet during month Y with an average temperature for the month of Z. Given the latitude of the region, how much solar power could be produced with A X B square footage of roof. A web module in which one could choose options and estimate what works best for their lifestyle could be pretty handy and possibly quite popular. As stated above the information would evolve as traditional energy sources change in cost and new sources possibly come down (or not). An example of an interactive statistical example of ANOVA where all variables can be changed in real time is given at Perhaps a module such as this that would do home energy comparisons as described above could be produced by TOD followers. If this already exists, my apologies for the waste of digi-space.

Finally, I still find the most satisfying education is that which breaks down stereotypes. We have researchers in our facility from China to Chicago to Chiapas that for all practical purposes are living the American suburban dream. Yet it almost seems to be a relief, or at least a great interest, to them when they hear that we, as researchers in the same facility, raise our own chickens, have had to axe through the ice on the river to get water, and supply much of our home heating with wood. This is such a contrast to the America that the propaganda machine produces that it comes as a not un-refreshing surprise to them. So there is interest and fascination out there in all (sometimes surprising) sectors. You just need to bump them up against it when the opportunity arises.

With regards to what TOD can do, IMHO, as a great service to its readership: Present scenarios, starting now but that will evolve annually, showing the costs of operating typical homes in the colder climates as well as warmer ones.....

Personally I think this is a great idea, something I wanted to do but never had time. This forum is a great place to gather information, but you need to be patient. Anyone submitting a guest post, asking 5,000 citizens around the world to keep detailed records of their energy expenditure, detailing how this should be done, and tracking this over time, will get published and supported. And any advice that can be offered from diverse sources to these citizens on how to reduce energy expenditure may be provided.


I liked that idea, too; but do you really think it would require poling thousands of people?

Hi Euan,

One down, four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine to go. (PDF format)


OK - 5000 folks is maybe ambitious. But my point is that our views of energy expenditure vary enormously between socio economic groups and between different regions of the world. Where I stay its normally cold, very little energy spent on air conditioning. The world is very heterogeneous. In terms of community involvement, sampling information on folks energy use and costs from around the world could become a major focus area of TOD - but it needs someone to take a lead. We can provide a platform.


Yup, we can't do everything, especially not all at once. I think starting with a few climates typical of the US, Europe, and maybe Japan and Australia (where it seems most posters here dwell) would be a place to start.

As a Minnesotan, I would argue that addressing the needs of those in some of the coldest places would be the very best place to start, since we are most likely to die quickly without heat (or a well-enough insulated residence to make external heat sources un-necessary).

Smaller dwellings, good solar orientation and passive solar, tons of insulation and thermal mass, controlled air infiltration; these design characteristics work anywhere.

Great prescriptions for rich people housing. Make more sense to move someplace with a milder climate?

If we keep up our current dawdle about carbon, the climate will come to you, so you can starve in comfort.

What I'm saying is that prescriptions like green building were canceled in 2000, 2004 and 2010.

Time to move on, I guess.

Hmmmmmmm......not sure exactly what this means, so will take a stab at its intentions. I suspect that this might mean that green building is such a small part of the equation, an equation that includes non-home energy use ("the climate will come to you", increasing population ("you can starve in comfort"), and class (warm home in cold climate = rich people's housing), that it is inconsequential. Certainly there are valid points to all of these, but more efficient housing is part and parcel of a changed mindset.

Please elborate, Ormondotvos, unless you have already exhausted your arguments in past posts that can be pointed to to save space and time.

"Great prescriptions for rich people housing."

And I'll add my--Hmmmmmmm.

Financing can certainly be a problem, but many of these improvements have a relatively quick payback. So carefully crafted financing packages, tax breaks, grants...can facilitate access to the poor. I am currently working with my city to insure that renters have the right to well insulated houses that also have low lead-dust levels. Similar initiatives could be more widely instituted.

The poor already tend to live in smaller houses (or apartments), so I'm not sure why that part is so hard for them to reach.

Every region and area has its risks, and those will be harder to predict in the future. Many more southerly areas could become uninhabitable before long, especially in summer months (google wet bulb temperature global warming).

Of course, perhaps your "dawdle about carbon" comment means that you are a denialist, in which case you will not find much support for your position here.

If your point is that nothing really significant is likely to be done, I'm afraid I'd have to agree with you there, especially after the last national US election.

Heated buildings are unnecessary. With adequate clothing and bedding, humans survive in temperate and arctic climates so long as buildings provide shelter from the wind.

Humans are tropical animals, devoid of insulating fur and very poorly adapted to cold. Temperatures several degrees above freezing are lethal to unclothed humans in still air, and a moderate breeze makes even higher temperatures lethal.

However, after the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa during the last interglacial, humans adopted clothing and bedding as technologies for survival during the last ice age. Eyed needles come into use across a wide swath of Eurasia around 35,000 years ago, and it is likely that this indicates the use of multi-layered, tailored clothing similar to that worn by arctic people up to the present. The technology was good enough that humans for the first time were able to cross from Asia to North America during an ice age when the land bridge was exposed.

See The Prehistoric Development of Clothing: Archaeological Implications of a Thermal Model for an abstract and downloadable paper.

Given humans excellent adaptation to heat, air conditioning is completely unnecessary except for extreme deserts or conditions of very high humidity that defeat cooling by perspiration.

Both my deep-snow boots and my coldest weather (-40 degrees F & C) parka are made in Canada--industrial strength and for serious use. My long underwear was made in Norway. I also have some excellent Army surplus cold-weather gear from Sweden. Army Surplus long woolen coats from Russia are very good but are quite heavy.

In my small apartment I have a three month supply of food that does not require cooking and also a one month supply of beverages--mainly Guinness Stout and chlorinated water in old liquor bottles.

Sure, I can do that for Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. This would be higly infomative to us since they represent an oil processor, oil producer and vast oil importer.

But of what possible service is that ? The impacts on the various countries and social repercussions is what people ask me here. They look to me for answers, and all I can say is ' prepare for big problems '. I don't think surveys to help Powers That Be will do any good at all.

A wildly imaginative discussion platform can at least provide us with a springboard for possible social solutions via serendidity.

Telling us we're going to keep this on a policy level is not going to help much. Where the boots hit the mud is where we need to be thinking. Give us a chance to explore the unknown, help us by letting at least the Drumbeat wander into the future where people will be living and how they can survive.

Give us the meat [ or soy protein ] , not the salad.

Dave in Thailand

When I first came upon The Oil Drum, knowing the difference between a well moderated site and an unmoderated site were negligible. Thanks to your excellent moderation, I can truly say this site is among the best moderated anywhere. I look forward to the next chapter in The Oil Drum's existence.

Thank you for your efforts.

Good move. Here's to greater relevance, more signal and less noise. Perhaps I'll be a more frequent visitor once again.
Thanks to all for your selfless, important work.

You guys and gals at TOD are just awsome with all of the work and fine content you have brought to us over the years. I am sure your new format will continue this tradition!

I have been a member of TOD for almost 4 years and wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to the TOD team. The quality of information here is outstanding; and contrasts sharply with the mediocre efforts of titles that should know better. These people know who they are, but the NY Times, UK Telegraph, The Economist and Australia's very motley journalism all spring readily to mind. I think the move outlined by Nate in this post is an excellent idea. We mostly accept PO is now behind us and the very urgent task of devising new living arrangements for 7bn people is still to be done. I am sure many folk may think differently, but I think the most important task now is to establish far more widely the nexus between energy and economics. Somehow marginal utility theory needs to incorporate energy. I have no idea how, but until mainstream economists accept this and modify their role accordingly we are going to remain wedded to the growth at all costs paradigm.

We are not going to be able to educate mainstream economists. I'm speaking as a non-mainstream economist, and I know what blinders graduate school puts on the great majority of economists. To them, limited resources are not a problem. Period. Exclamation mark.

The reason is I'm not a mainstream economist is that I was close to a Ph.D. in sociology before I switched to finance, then philosophy, then economics, then classics and Latin. However, few students are as lucky as I was: I spent more than eleven years as a fulltime grad student in various departments at U.C. Berkeley.

Nicely put. It is my sad conclusion that the most destructive act going on today is the continued training of students in anything resembling neo-classical economics.

I would love any suggestions of how one might move institutions of higher ed away from teaching this tragically destructive ideology.

In reply to your last sentence:


I have no idea how to implement radical reform in American education. Jupiter knows, we need that.

Thanks, DS. Perhaps a proper sacrifice to Jove with a prayer for release from the consequences of our own benighted-ness is our last hope after all?

The irony is that an economics of powerdown is, imho, what we need most, but the economist we have (mostly) cannot even begin to imagine the possibility (or need) of such a thing, much less construct one.

Even those who see that growth is no longer possible are proposing mostly "steady state" models. I have recently been looking into the "de-growth" (calque from the French "de'croissance") movement.

Any thoughts?

I know nothing of the degrowth movement--sounds interesting. Do you have a link? Or a name to Google?

Thank you so much to the people who make this website; it has changed my life.

Changed your life to the better or worse? :)

Amazing. You take a perfectly exceptional community and make it better! Applying focus and adding a measured degree of chaff removal will make it possible to "keep up." There is an overwhelming amount of news, opinion and data to digest on an almost daily basis, and I for one have had a tough time staying current. I look forward to the future of TOD and thank Every Soul involved with this endeavor. (I also appreciate the sheer amount of work that has shaped this invaluable resource.)

For more than four years and 30 weeks, according to my account, TOD has been changing how I view the world.


Adding my thanks to everyone who's produced and contributed to making The Oil Drum a must-read every day, and as a sterling resource in helping me to catalyze these issues in Metro Seattle: both in alternative transport (our little sailboat-based CSA) and the area of food security. Next weekend, I'm attending the "Cultivating Regional Food Security: Recent Research in Urban-Rural Food Systems" conference, with the goal of "increasing collaboration among community leaders and residents to create a more sustainable regional food system in terms of production, land use and equitable access to food."

Gail, we look forward to your next visit here!

I've been following peak oil since the Jay Hanson days, energy-resources, and the '98 Scientific American article. Add my kudos to you for adding-to and refining the conversation with your myriad contributions here.

Among the comments above, I'd second Frymaster's:

Consider the value of your best commenters when developing plans for moderation. The group moderation approach looks to have your top few commenters 1) lead by example, 2) specify and support an easily understood standard, 3) encourage good commenters to comment more and 4) help the weaker commenters improve or move to the sidelines.

In addition, I'd add the idea that having re-affirmed vision and values as already you are doing, consider experimenting to use your technology to create a system where your active community can self-regulate -- or mostly self-regulate -- on that vision and those values.

Rabble filtering.

''''''''''We have a choice between presenting interesting, newsy information for consumption by the energy/big picture savvy, or try to present building blocks of analysis and perspective that can be used by energy policymakers and decision-makers going forward, irrespective of how the financial/currency situation resolves.''''''''''''''''''

And you really think the Oil Drum is going to affect the big picture?
I doubt it. Its a blog.
It is not an actual peer reviewed information site... it is mostly opinions and many of those opinions are based on the most common way of looking at things.. monetarily.

''''Irrespective of how the financial currency situation resolves'''....
Thats funny.
In other words you are not going to get into the more interesting aspects of the whole question of energy any more, that the main problem connected is that it is monetized, and run by corporate fascism...
But, just go with technical information about money as it relates to energy... in the traditional way.
So why bother? Just shut the site down.
Let people move on to other things. Declare it a partial success for having alerted people to peak oil... but now that is known by most all.

Editors here can just edit on Wikipedia if they are actually interested in updating information on the nuts and bolts aspects.

Or start other information sites.
Give yourselves a small pat on the back and shut the site down.
I see no value in continuing when you can go to places like this for information
It seems unlikely that the staff here from what I have seen will make the new Oil Drum site that much different.
The focus is money here... not peak oil.
Peak oil was never even an issue.
Its cultural.
Oil can be manufactured in an industrial process as you all know... thermo depolymerization... but who cares... the stuff should not be burned anyway.
So maybe it is better for some of the people here to let go... state the obvious.
We can power the world with renewables... electric solar... and oil in 2010 is only a miserable joke.
The real issue is political.
If you don't focus a little on that... or the societal template/operation issue, the site wil be uninteresting... sorry.
Special interest groups control society and the template.. and unless that is a main focus here... also, you are wasting your time.
It all relates and goes through that lens.
Ecological economics also is only an excuse to use money to measure 'value'.
That does not work anymore... because value and survival if value is measured in money kills us all... for bad choices.
But so be it.

Your comment seems out of place.

I've been reading TOD since near its beginnings and the volume of information that has shown up here both in keyposts and in comments is quite high, when integrated over time. Even when I don't agree with some of the posts/positions taken by some of TPTB, this website has been a source or clearinghouse of information for many.

And given that TOD has been referenced in conferences on Peak Oil, where as the website you linked has not been (at least from my online reading about energy and climate change the last 6 years or so) very visible in the field, I'd say you're pretty much somewhere out in left field.

Editors here can just edit on Wikipedia if they are actually interested in updating information on the nuts and bolts aspects.

Of course they can, and of course I do. The issue is that the Wikipedia editors need to get their information from somewhere. Of course, The Oil Drum does not count as a "credible source" on Wikipedia, but once I find something out here, I can chase down the original data to some "credible" source such as the US Geological Survey. I find citing the USGS as a credible source somewhat humorous given their track record in the past, but there's a lack of alternatives.

The focus is money here... not peak oil.

In the ultimate analysis, peak oil comes down to not having enough money to put gas in your car. That's the point at which it becomes a crisis for most people - when they run out of money. Unfortunately, explaining exactly why that happened to them requires them having advanced university-level economics to understand it. I think that The Oil Drum should be oriented toward explaining these things to the people that didn't major in economics.

ditto +1

While I do not necessarily agree with everything you say, your voice and those like it is valuable in order to get people to question their assumptions about how the world works. Hopefully, voices like yours will be allowed in future discussions.

I sense some despair on your part which is understandable given the current matrix of the corporations, especially financial, and politicians that rule the roost. With the recent election, there is even less hope for the kind of fundamental change needed.

I also agree that energy cannot be divorced from the political context, much less the ecological context. I think you also touch on the fact that the dominance of the market in our thinking prevents us from seeing solutions not dictated by the market or the exchange system.

At the end of the day, the powers that be and those they rule are pretty much impervious to a fact based look at where the world is going. While this is true, I hardly think TOD or anyone else can do much about this problem.

The powers that be don't respond to facts, even at the level of the very good analysis found on TOD. They respond to power, real or perceived. They also, of course, respond to money, lots and lots of it. TOD can focus on special interest groups all day and it won't make a wit of difference. Specifically, our government is ruled by the corporations who have tons and tons of money and don't have to employ their minions on a voluntary basis.

Having said all that, TOD is the go to place for those interested in energy. It is not a political force and not intended as such.

Again- the content changes may end up being unnoticeable to most. Its just a shift towards less quantity and higher quality.

And today's civic leaders are tomorrow's decision makers. Energy and its importance to our lives needs to be better understood and communicated. Still ambitious given time and personnel constraints but we might be able to help

I think many here share an enlightenment concept (or delusion) that people are mostly swayed by rational discussion and accurate information. My hope is that TOD will continue to improve in these areas not because this will persuade the masses, but so that it can continue to convince the minority that IS persuadable by these means, some of whom may go on to find more effective ways of moving TPTB and the masses with other, more effective means for those audiences than rational discourse and accurate info.

Perhaps some of us have to go about setting up separate websites for these more particular but important functions?

While I'm thinking of it, I hope part of the new focus will be on immediate environmental impacts of oil and other energy sources, especially in light of the events this summer. A series of review articles on the various chapters of Peter Maass's excellent recent book "Crude World" could be a step in this direction. If no one else is willing, I would be willing to take a stab at the first of such a series.

Its not just about persuading people in power but also the marginal effect of arming those in a position of influence on side with powerful analysis.

Arguments that attempts at political influence are doomed because those in power will not change their minds is a narrow view of the potential we have politically

A heart felt thanks you to all of you for making such a fantastic place for engaged and informed discussion and ideas.It has been part of my daily bread for four years.

I think the direct focus on energy is understandable and necessary. Though there remains a need for an informed wider systems discussion.

Thanks and best wishes for the changes!


I... wonder, what happens now? What happens once 'gets' the concept behind Peak Oil. What happens once the seemingly 'outlandish' idea is confirmed by the IEA? This should, I suppose, be a moment of Truth, something close to a revelation, or an intellectual epiphany. An important historical watershed.

Yet the sound of silence is extraordinary, but extremely telling. Where are the frontpage headlines? Where are the leading stories, the breaking news? The careful and reflective analysis in the world's leading newspapers? The statements from leading statesmen? I mean, the dirty secret, is out now. Yet all we get is close to silence in the mainstream media, almost like a conspiracy of silence, or maybe there is a real conspiracy, a politically motivated conspiracy, after all the media are little more than the Ministry of Propaganda for the corporate state, a state controlled, owned, and directed for the benefit of a powerful, degenerate, corrupt, selfish, elite that rules over the rest of us, with disasterous consequences to follow.

I've been Peak Oil away for most of my life. At least for forty years. And a lot of good it did me. That's meant to be ironic! Whilst studying economics my interst in the question of energy resources was regarded as being close to insane, as according to the department, there was no 'question.' There was only an 'answer.' And the answer was that market forces would provide a substitute, at a price, when the time was right. I believed this was close to quasi-relgious dogma, and said so. This was the beginning of the end.

I've always thought of the Oil Drum as an excellent resource. I often regarded it as a kind of 'monastary' of Enlightenment principles in an increasingly barbaric world, a world where superstition was making a tremendous comeback. A world retreating from science and moving back towards faith in the supernatural. A world retreating towards neo-fuedalism. A post-democratic world. A return to the middle-ages. Which may be closer to the truth than I realised.

But I don't comment much anymore because I do feel one has begun to go round in circles somewhat. Peak Oil as a hobby. But what happens next? What does one actually do with all this knowledge and insight? Does one retreat into the warm and comforting surroundings of the monastary or does one leave it and go out into the world?

For me the consequences of Peak Oil are highly political, if they are to mean anything. But this isn't a particularly political site is it? One understands why. Economics, the economics of Peak Oil, it's hard to think of anything more political, yet how does one transform this knowledge into something more meaningful than a hobby?

I'm sorry if the use of the word 'hobby' sounds ungrateful and harsh. It isn't meant to.

If something as historically significant as the admission by the IEA that Peak Oil is not only a valid concept in theory, but that it exists in practice, and that it's actually real and has happened; if this can be ignored, then what happens in the future?

I can relate very much to what you say writerman. I have been PO aware for 5 years now and in the begining it was an obsession to learn as much as I could about oil. Now I'm not really sure that having that knowledge is all that useful to me.Perhaps I could have spent my time more usefully than hanging out here at TOD, just to catch the latest snippet of PO news.

This last year I've stopped commenting so much. TOD gave me the conviction to study for a degree in energy management and I've decided to put my energy into that rather than hangout here so much. Perhaps if TOD is less prolific I'll drift away form it even further, but I don't think I'll ever forget the profound way that this site has changed me as a person and altered my world view. Thanks for the memories.

Thanks for all the effort over the years, as an ordainry " billy beer keg " guy ( the kind a joe 6 pick turns into when he gets older :) ) I find the technical aspect of this site most appealing - so don't loose it ( well I think thats what you mean by " quality " ) .

Remember PO is not , still not , accepted by main stream media.

When its on East Corri Dale you can then accept mission accomplished!

Just because covertly EIA has stated peak oil was in 2005 but we're OK coz we've got all that "undiscovered/not yet found stuff" - means the concept STILL needs airing in a technical , none emotitional way , as I have found here.

Please keep up that good work.

And thanks again

Paul , AKA Forbin

Editorial Process

If three editors disapprove of an article, a discussion among the editors will be facilitated.

Since I can count on two negative votes for any article with my name attached to it, even without bothering to read it through, I doubt that I will submit anything more to The Oil Drum.

Fortunately, I have an excellent relationship with Tom Whipple and a good relationship with Bart.

It has been a good five years. I have accomplished most of what I explicitly stated were my goals 4 years and 11 months ago.



This is what I'm afraid we'll see happen. People who made important contributions will leave because they may not “fit in” with the “mission”.

I found out about The Oil Drum back in June 2010 when I was searching for reliable info on the Gulf Oil mess, and stayed because of all the good information I found. As I said, I've been aware of Peak Oil for probably 6-7 years but it's incredibly difficult to find sites that discuss both the subject and the effects/results of peak oil in a rational manner.

I have known about Anthropogenic Climate Change for many more years; back in the late 1970's my Father, an Observational Astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, was telling me of conversations he had with a Climate Scientist at the UNAM (National University of Mexico, Mexico City) where these results and predictions were being discussed even then.

I feel that the side discussions about what individuals are doing adds a lot to what I get out of this site. I don't like the name-calling and snide comments that sometimes occur on both the left and right sides but I also don't like it when people leave because of it. I was very disappointed when oldfarmermac stopped posting like he had done in the past. Now AlanfromBigEasy feels the need to leave, although for different reasons, the effect will be the same. A loss...

I've valued comments from ROCKMAN, Ghung, Step Back, Jedi Welder, oldfarmermac, jokuhl, joule, RockyMtnGuy, AlanfromBigEasy, aangel, HereinHalifax, FMagyar, Undertow, HAcland, Leanan, Charles Mackay, Darwinian, westexas, tolforoil, WebHubbleTelescope, Heisenberg, ET, CEOJr1963, enemy of state, Oilman Sachs, Black_Dog, Gail the Actuary, notanoilman and many others, I hope that any of you that decide to leave here will announce where you will be “hanging out” so that conversations can be continued.

I tend to be more of a lurker, in real life I'm the same way. I will become engaged in a conversation if I feel that I have something substantial to contribute. My wife and I are both making changes to our house and lifestyle to prepare for the future, it's valuable to hear what others are doing too. I also like to understand what others feel we should be doing as a society to prepare/mitigate.

Thanks to everyone for your many contributions!

August Johnson

I don't think there will be too much impact on the "side discussions." The changes will be mostly in how the key posts are chosen and edited - affecting TOD's contributors, not the commenters.

There will be some changes for commenters. With the site going "smaller" and the Drumbeat probably coming out every other day instead of every day, people are going to have to exercise some self-restraint, and not hog the bandwidth with overly long, off-topic, repetitive, or too many posts. (However, that's really nothing new - we may be enforcing it more, though.)

I have noticed a big increase in posts without content - or at least, without relevant content. Jokes, one-liners, personal stories that have little to do with energy and our future. Of course humor has a place, and threads do drift...but it really has gotten worse. On Thanksgiving, I had to remove a thread because people were rambling on about how much they loved their families, and posting prayers and (probably copyrighted) poetry. That's never happened before. (I looked back on previous Thanksgiving day Drumbeats to check.)

In Nate's Clown Fest post, someone accused Nate of being bored. I think the real problem is the commenters here are bored. Most believe peak oil is in the past, and there's not much going on with oil at the moment. So they end up rambling on about unrelated matters.

Going "smaller," at least for now, makes sense because there really does seem to be less to say these days.

Most believe peak oil is in the past, and there's not much going on with oil [going forward]

Quite the opposite.

I've been praying (in a spiritual way) that oil will stay "boring" for just a little longer and that for some miraculous reason, the undulating plateau will just keep going and gong like a BAU Energizer battery rabbit.

Alas, soon we will be living in "interesting" times.

MSM will proclaim that no one could have foreseen this shocking just shocking news about oil production declining despite best efforts by "The Market".

The sheeple will gather round their TVs, clasp hands and pray for the exceptionalist "them" to show up and save us through the magic powers of _____ (fill in the blank, i.e. science, financial gimmickry, etc.)

All talk will not help us one iota. TPTB have their "2012 (the movie)" Noah Arks already in place and ready for launch. Too bad the peons have to be sacrificed for the "greater good". And so it goes.

I didn't mean "going forward." I meant NOW.

That may change in the future, and if it does, we might go "bigger" again.

Really? I am shocked. There a lot of commenters that I skip or scan through quickly. When it comes to your posts, I always read carefully and with interest. Your "best hopes" meme should be patented. You have influenced the way we look at things and even our language. You and the spider web/fertilizer dude, who no longer posts, are my favorites.

Keep up the good work and may rail, electric or otherwise, be king someday.

Best hopes for no longer having to check through airports or take long trips by car.

The "Best Hopes" phrase developed in the dark and terribly difficult weeks after Katrina in New Orleans. Epic suffering, despair and the many "delayed deaths" as mortality skyrocketed.

My personal response was to fight and struggle, with more bitterness and more strength than I knew that I had in me. At the same moment, it was the finest hour of my life. I tried to support and give a smile and laugh (if bitter) to my fellow New Orleanians while we struggled together. I was writing an eMail to a friend about a terrible situation and instead of "Best Wishes", I wrote "Best Hopes". It just seemed the right thing to say in the midst of despair.

I did need an escape, an outlet, and contemplating the post-Peak Oil world via TOD was that for me. My recreation, something to take my mind off the overwhelming challenges and suffering outside my door. What better hobby than contemplating a future TEOTWAIKI as I live through TEOTWAIKI ?

Unlike the many who go through a period of angst and depression at first, I was never phased by the prospects of a post-Peak Oil future.

My tone and posts on TOD reflected the post-Katrina reality around me. I changed and my writing became much sharper, with an edge of bitterness.

But that is now largely past.

In my first weeks on TOD, I clearly stated my goals. I wanted the concept of electrified rails (intercity and urban) to become a meme, an accepted dogma within the Peak Oil community that it was a "necessary but not sufficient" response in the coming post-Peak Oil world.

I also wanted to develop contacts and use them to work on a realistic action plan post-Peak Oil.

I am most appreciative that TOD has helped me almost reach those goals. I am much further down the road than I ever realistically thought that I would be.

In addition, I think that I contributed quite a bit to the development of the intellectual meatgrinder at TOD (including the first use of the term). Enough so that I offended a number of people (note that I was never on the list of contributors, and I doubt that anything I write will get through the new editing process).

A few times I did stray towards the personal, and I DEEPLY regret that. I did try to keep my critiques focused on the intellectual merit, or lack thereof, of the ideas. And for that, I do not apologize !

Nate wants a kinder TOD, I do not. I think the intellectual meatgrinder approach better serves in discerning the truth and finding weaknesses in arguments. Sharp blades cut through better than comity.

Nate is on the board, I am not. So it is his (and the others) ship to steer.

It appears that the new direction is not one where I would fit into.

I just chose to go my own way. I have basically reached my original (and publicly stated) goals here, and for that I am thankful.

Best Hopes for all the wonderful people that I have meet here,


Alan -

I am most distressed that you have chosen to leave. I for one will miss you greatly. First OldFarmerMac, then you ..... alas, who's next, and why?

However, though I have never had the slightest bit of interest in the internal politics of TOD, I do sense that there are forces at work attempting to steer things toward the presentation of material that is consistent with a certain ideology and to downplay or outright reject that which does not. And of course we have TOD as a vehicle for certain academics to preen and show how witty and smart they are. This is organizational politics, pure and simple, and it shows that TOD is not immune to the same sort of thing that forms the consensus outlook of any organization. That is why I avoid such.

To be a bit more specific, and without naming names, there is a clear antipathy amongst some on the TOD staff towards renewables such as wind power and solar, partly by individuals who have participated in various junkets sponsored by Big Oil. I suspect that this 'reorganization' will further entrench this viewpoint. But eventually, people see through this sort of smoke.

So, what is one to make of all this? Well I for one, have decided that the instant I conclude that TOD has become either Doomer Central or an apologist for Big Oil and BAU, then I'm gone, man.

It is all a self-selecttion process, and I say let these people have their circle jerk, whilst others reconstitute and regroup elsewhere. That is the organic beauty of the internet.

Hope to see you around ... somewhere.

(By the way, I have an old friend in the UK who has had a career in public transportation, and I'd like to put you two in touch, as I think there might be some chemistry there.)

May the force be with you.

Oddly enough, I see it as sort of the opposite. We already have a reputation as Doomer Central, and we'd like to change that. Or at least tone it down. Not because everyone on staff is an optimist, but because there's really no point if we are truly, irrevocably doomed. Seriously...why spend so much time and effort on this web site if we're all going to be living in caves and scrounging for mushrooms soon - if we're even alive?

It sounds like you are saying that there must be a point. Since there must be a point, it is necessary that we not take a doomerist position. Well, we are either doomed or not. My guess is that we are either doomed or in for a very bad patch, perhaps one that lasts until we are extinct. But I am not sure. So I read on with hope. And try to live in the now. I think there are actions that could be taken which would much improve our chances for survival at a tolerable quality of life. My doomerism comes in when I assess the probability of those things happening.

In the U.S., we are going backwards. Not only will we not conserve, but we elect politicians who are adamantly opposed to conserving. Freedom and money trumps everything else.

TOD is kind of like a seedbank. Maybe the ideas are seeds that could be used with the powers that be and the people wake up and are ready to actually do something.

Leanan -

Perhaps I've jumped the gun in thinking that things will be going off in a direction I'd rather they not.

As such, I will just continue to patronize TOD and patiently look for the anticipated changes as they gradually take place, making comments on the Drum Beat from time to time.

Regarding doomerism and the like, I tend to agree with your outlook and view the more reasonable people on TOD as being pessimistic but not without hope of coping with what the future brings.

I should also take this opportunity to thank you for all the work you have done here.

I have an old friend in the UK who has had a career in public transportation, and I'd like to put you two in touch

alan_drake at ju no period conn (adapted to prevent bots).

I had a dozen superb reviewers for Chapter 1 of an American Citizen's Guide to an Oil Free Economy and I need more for Chapter 2 - Urban Rail.

Send him the link to Chapter 1.

Best Hopes for Joint Efforts,



I, and others, I'm sure, would look forward to your articles on TOD in the future.

Hope to be able to read more of your ideas here down the tracks...



Please do not leave TOD. Your comments are the best ones on this site, IMHO.

I doubt this will change Alan's mind, but I want to point out that the original posting was not entirely accurate and has been corrected. The policy will be to accept posts with three approvals, reject posts will three disapprovals, and to facilitate a discussion for posts with both three approvals and three disapprovals.

I'm not familiar with the internal politics among the editors. But I do find your posts to be very informative with regards to possible mitigation. As opposed to many other posts, I find yours to be more forward thinking and offering feasible alternatives rather than the usual doom and gloom that predominates.
- Jeff

If Alan, of all people, is not welcome here, then TOD just committed suicide.

Since I can count on two negative votes for any article with my name attached to it, even without bothering to read it through, I doubt that I will submit anything more to The Oil Drum.

Alan et al,

I think it only fair that we assume the best before we assume the worst. I don't think any of the assembled editors would dismiss a thoughtfully and professionally presented submission because of personal likes/dislikes of the author. I can more likely see a submission returned for additional editing/re-working rather than out-right rejection. I hated my legal writing classes in law school for that very reason but they made my writing all the better.

As to the clashes of personalities and personal attacks we see too frequently on the internet, they do nothing but divide and alienate people. I think TOD's tent is large enough for everyone but only if we can take to heart the words of one of my mentors, Eric Allenbaugh, who says, "be tough on issues, and tender on people."

assembled editors would dismiss a thoughtfully and professionally presented submission because of personal likes/dislikes of the author

My experience is otherwise. The timestamps between submission and a terse, two line rejection from TOD did not allow for a careful reading. I was quite frankly shocked. A follow-up eMail from me got a complex set of conditions designed to prevent publication.

I spent four months writing the article, it had been reviewed by a half dozen experts in the field plus a number of others, it had the best writing I have done (from an English lit POV), it was the second most significant work that I have done and so forth.

Published elsewhere, I was informed that it had at least a minor role (influenced a couple of staffers) in the death of the "Pickens Plan" for natural gas trucks (S. 3815) in the lame duck session. So it would have fit into the new role for TOD of "informing decision makers on energy issues". Yet rejected with, at most (given the time elapsed) a cursory read.

So my actions are not an act of pique, but the product of a rational analysis of the reality I have experienced. And delayed long enough for any emotions to have cooled.


That's a pretty damning indictment of TOD. Any editors care to respond as to its veracity and/or their side of the story?

Inquiring TODers want to know....

And a deafening silence was heard by all.

You chaps need to either pay attention or get a life. Debie's comment referred to the 'assembled editors' which according to this post have just now been assembled. As far as I'm aware there has only been one editor at OilDrum for a long time. Given the work involved I would think some judgement calls would be made by a lone editor-some good some bad. And if I were calling the shots I certainly wouldn't post something by anyone who bad mouthed me in public, no matter how good it was.

IOW I don't need to know the story, if there even is one. Anyways its a freakin blog that you visit on your own accord - its not a soap opera or CIA classified. Jeesh.

"And if I were calling the shots I certainly wouldn't post something by anyone who bad mouthed me in public, no matter how good it was."

I don't think that is the standard we should be aspiring to here, but this is what Alan is saying happened and I would like to know if it's true. If you think it is not a big deal, feel free to ignore the subthread.

Folks - I said I was done with this thread but will add this: There was a rather long history accompanying this situation. It is a little hard to adequately judge things when only hearing one part of the story. And I would not want to make past stories public. I'm reasonably sure those making the decisions had good reason.

Onwards (which was the point of this exercise).

There is almost too much freedom at TOD. It suffers the same problems as the macropolity, and it will likely suffer the same consequences as a result.

Thanks to everyone at TOD for their efforts :)

I welcome the focus on energy
Also happy to see 3-4 drumbeats per week (7 is difficult to keep up with)

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers for the work you've done to make TOD the best it can be. It sounds like you've been guided by Jim Collins' "Good to Great" and are trying to stick to what you can do best in the world and I support that.

But I truly hope you will keep the content accessible and readable to laypeople like me. I love the daily Drumbeat.

Hi, I'm a long time lurker on this site. Been checking it out since 2005 and it's my No.1 destination. Wanted to voice my agreement with the general thrust of comments on this thread. The Oil Drum is a superb site, a happy marriage of selfless voluntarism and top-notch professionalism. This site is what the Internet SHOULD be about, and long may it continue. Thanks to one and all for making it happen.

Kinder? Yes, please! Gentler? Always appreciated. Smaller? If need be.

A number of respondents have expressed a desire for a higher signal to noise ratio and it's pretty hard to argue against that, although I confess I'm not exactly sure all of what that entails. It would be a shame, though, to discard the square pegs simply because they don't fit perfectly. There are one or two (past?) members who spoke largely of their rural life. Sometimes they'd express a point of view that would make me uncomfortable and at times they could get under my skin, but I appreciated their contributions (more so with the passage of time) and would welcome their return. For me, the varied interests of the membership, divergent opinions and odd collection of personalities are a big part of what makes this community tick. After all, it takes more than one colour to make a rainbow.

I'd also like to extend my sincere thanks to the folks who make the TOD possible; your efforts are genuinely appreciated. Best wishes for every success as you chart your new course.



Your posts document your important work helping folks lessen their energy use by conducting audits of their lighting needs and hardware, and helping them meet their needs more efficiently.

These actions not only help the individual people and institutions, but help lessen energy demand overall, and thus pollution.

I would enjoy an article or series of articles on lighting and how our lighting needs could be met more efficiently. I imagine most of the TOD audience would enjoy such articles as well.

Thanks, Richard, for your kind words. Given the high standard set by past contributors, the thought of publishing on The Oil Drum is a bit daunting to say the least! I'm grateful, however, for Leanan's indulgence with respect to my Drumbeat posts, most of which fall outside the core focus of this group (and many more completely OT), and with her continued blessing I'm happy to share additional anecdotes from time to time.

Like you, I see great opportunities to use energy more efficiently and, in the process, help lessen our environmental demands. And, indeed, much good work is now under way and much more will be accomplished in the years ahead. Get inspired, get involved and lead by example; your own vision and insight in this area has certainly helped to inspire me.


This is an excellent idea. TOD has been a source of much information I use in my talks and classes. This content has gradually been disappearing beneath less technical content.

"Our plans on how best to present energy related content in an effort to arm and influence decision-makers at this stage of the game, are below the fold."

My experience with decision-makers is such that they do not want, necessarily, to be armed with all the facts. It is far easier for them to have constituents tell them what to do. Generally speaking, it is the loudest "tellers of what to do" that determine the outcome, often irrespective of the facts.

If you really hope to influence decisionmakers, it will be with specific proposals. Those proposals need to be carefully crafted. Unfortunately, this process often opens them up to being overly-weighted toward special interests.

Your aim should rather be to inform citizenry, in the broadest possible terms. Informed citizens, in turn, can place demands on decisionmakers. We have a sad lack of broadly-informed citizenry these days, and often, when they consider themselves informed, it is on one single issue, to the exclusion of others.

I have begun to wonder if most US politicians generally feel that government can't afford to acknowledge Peak Oil. Given the resource constraint problem posed by Peak and especially Peak Exports, the logical thing to do is to change tax policy to penalize overall consumption, especially energy consumption, and encourage conservation.

However, with governments already looking at huge deficits, they can ill afford the decline in tax revenue that would result from a deliberate effort to curtail consumption. On the other hand, an obvious tax solution would be to abolish the highly regressive Payroll Tax and replace it with an energy consumption tax--but that would still have the effect of shrinking the discretionary side of the economy (or more accurately accelerating the contraction in the discretionary side of the economy).

I have, on several occasions, written to my congressperson supporting the implementation of an energy tax. The fact that no-one has ever responded, even with a form letter, tells me they either don't find this palatable, or prefer not to put agreement in writing.

I do, however, get responses on other topics, such as forest preserves, or jobs, or environmental issues. There must be better "cover" for those issues.

I also favor an energy tax, at least on energy sources that are considered undesirable in some way due to overdependence on depleting (and/or foreign) sources. Those energy sources not on the blacklist would be wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, and most likely nuclear. Algal biodiesel might be desirable, if it ever proves itself via EROI, etc.

However, I would schedule a gradual transition to such a change, postponing it for at least a year, and shifting the tax burden from income to (undesirable) energy use at a modest rate, say 10% per year. That way, people are given heads-up time to plan their transportation and home choices, as vehicles stay in the inventory 18 years, and homes much longer than that (though adding insulation and caulking helps to mitigate building inefficiencies). Any sudden shift to energy taxes would cause a revolt by all the people driving SUVs/pickups/minivans/other-gas-hogs, and they would help vote in politicians that would emasculate the much needed energy tax.

westexas, I've been saying for years now that the problem with acceptance of peak oil isn't the facts of it - it's the 'then what?'

Not only is the idea of a dramatic, global scale problem in the short term not what politicians want to hear. Even if they do hear, their very next question is 'what do we do about it'. To that question the answer from the community is couched in 'reduce', 'transition', 'no growth', etc. This is equivalent to saying 'I have no answer' - these options are quite simply not possible to a politician.

As such it's much easier to ignore it, let it slip back into the pool of potential problems that are continually assailing their ears. Until you come with both problem AND solution, that's truly workable, you are invisible.

If climate change taught anything, it's that you have to have a tractable solution, an approach that a politician can win off. You'll notice that as the fixes for CO2 have got more extreme, the support has dropped off.

As it is, the 'pastoral idyll' types have overplayed the necessary size and shape of the downslope changes. Nope, we don't need to end up as herbivores, living off the land in wooden shacks within five years. The scale and speed of the transition IS possible to manage, if you plan right. The problem is nobody is doing that planning, not properly. Things get hijacked by the greenies too quickly.

Rather than retrenching back into energy navel-gazing 'because that's what we know', the oil drum should have moved forward into seriously looking at that bigger picture - because I'm seeing nobody doing it. Then it would have had a chance to influence and lead.

If only real 'greenies' had been ever able to 'highjack' anything of consequence, we'd all be in a much better place now.

Until you come with both problem AND solution, that's truly workable, you are invisible.

The first, rough draft (Peak Oil + Climate Change) is the pdf download in the upper right.

Note the motto "A sustainable future for Earth is possible" and my co-authors. Hans Herren is worth a Google. He now wants to help resolved the world's energy and environmental problems.

There is a very good probability that a "major NGO" will help with the next version (the last was done pro bono publico after funding from ASPO ran out).

I personally expect only baby steps in the right direction until panic sets in. But I want to have a plan ready, and prominent supporters, when panic does hit.

Best Hopes for Hope,


The difficulty of an energy tax is that poltiiciasn will soon fiddle with it to favour one or another of their preferred technologies i.e. wahtever will get them votes. I think a general consumption tax on everything works better at reducing deamnd for all goods which should feed back into reducing energy demand.

I think this approach is appropriate and needed. Gail was carrying a very heavy load for a long time, and the burden-sharing will undoubtedly be appreciated.

As demand is 1/2 of the equation of energy (i.e., production vs. consumption), are demand reduction approaches/mitigations going to be a part of the TOD mission? In this sentence, it seems to be implied, though it's hard to tell;

"Implications of transformation of energy systems to societies, including discussions about limits, societal EROI, demand drivers, and other relevant aspects."

Changes in vehicle efficiency, transportation mode (car, bus, rail, bike, telecommute, etc), human discount rates, energy-draining sprawl, building efficiency, globalization vs. localization, centralized agriculture (i.e. 1500 miles to the plate) vs smaller local farms/permaculture/gardening, and other related topics all have a role in determining demand. Will these topics be a part of the above quote?

Yes. Not "gardening" per se but energy/ag/transport definitely - and yes to the others you mentioned. And we will need new contributors who have expertise on integrating those topics in relevant ways.

I haven't commented for a long, long while now, I made an arse of myself early on. But this 'new' Oil drum is worth a Good Luck!, and a thank you! for 'so far'. Many things have changed in the four plus years I've been coming here. Initially I visited obsessively, until I reached my limits of technical ability, then through all the real 'excitement' £140+ oil, and I still continue looking in to this day. I know so much thanks due to Oil drum, and all the links, and articles, and books, DVDs I have followed from here. It has been a long enlightening ride.

I love TOD…., I rarely post anything but I do check TOD every single day. I’ve learned a lot from this site. I’m NOT a scientist and I’m a little worried that this site may become too dry and hyper technical for some of us. I suspect TOD will gain some readers and lose others. The link between Peak Oil and current events is very important to those of us trying to understand this turbulent roller coaster ride we are on right now. Aside from learning from TOD, it’s also been a great site to deal or cope with coming changes. I hope this doesn’t change.

I’m worried about how all of this will pan out.

Its a very good idea to better the signal to noise ratio, I left for a while myself since it no longer were worth the effort to follow the threads.

Ok, I am a bit confused:

" ...the main focus will be on energy (as opposed to financial, or environmental, or political) content."

but also:

"Implications of transformation of energy systems to societies, including discussions about limits, societal EROI, demand drivers, and other relevant aspects."

Huh? Which is it?

I hope it is the latter. Some of the best articles here, IMO, have been those that have discussed the implications of energy, including the personal, financial, political, ecological, etc., implications.

Peak oil is past, end of story. That debate is pretty much done.

What is most relevant now is (a) can we replace the depleting oil energy, and if so, how? and (b) what implications does oil depletion have for us personally and for societies?

Please keep the "implications" an integral part of TOD.

I was expecting something like this, as recently some of the lead articles were really quite weak, and the comments took a nosedive in quality. So a re-focussing and tightening was, imho, inevitable.

A big thanks to all the folks at TOD for their work and dedication, with a special mention for Leanan, I can’t imagine the effort involved in producing those excellent daily drumbeats.

I’m somewhat gingerly on the side of those who appear to anticipate the loss or muting of a grander, broader, scope, pointing out for ex. that economic, political and societal considerations are vital (not to mention other earth science such as climate), or fundamental, essential, or whatever, and that a narrow focus on matters very directly related to energy may circumscribe the site too much.

So be it, it is a stab at acquiring a more professional status, and understandable. However, the loss of scope is not a necessity... You might consider publishing, from time to time, lead articles that inch away from tech talk. Good candidates might be history of ‘energy’; Gvmt. policy re. ‘energy’ comparative studies; and so forth, I’m sure you get the drift. (‘Energy’ because it is undefined here and clearly goes beyond oil.)

I’ll limit my further comments to just two. (Be thankful, I usually have 7.)

1) To influence politics, in its broadest sense, it is not enough to inform (as pointed out above by several ppl.) An understanding of political stakes, and some adoption of political strategy is needed.

2) TOD, in the past, and most likely in the future, has always had a characteristic I consider curious. It concentrates on the inputs - oil (and/or other sources of energy), it’s discovery, extraction, production, sale, price, suitability, longevity, etc. etc. - all the processes that are involved in providing ‘energy’. As if the output, that is goods, services, life style afforded, availability of opportunities (to start a business, to travel, to heat, to eat strawberries, to have children, to use a computer, to provide massive capital gains, to dominate another country, to fight war) are somehow not exactly ‘givens’, as there is some discussion of them, yet remain the unexamined, shadowy end of a system. It is as if the very basics of systemic thinking, and that is in itself a too-fancy name, because it is very simple, you have inputs and these turn to outputs of some kind, are ignored or more accurately left to slide into the dark, accepted as positive, good, needed, unquestioned. That may sound harsh, as there is plenty of talk on TOD of driver miles etc. and other similar topics.

So, what of energy *use*?

I have a very negative view toward the changes.

1. With only two to three technical articles a week this means that instead of checking TOD daily many readers (perhaps most) will switch to only checking once a week or so. Thus they won't comment or the discussions will drag on a very long time.

2. While I don't see a problem of the quality of comments compared to the other sites I visit, note that there are 8,760 hours in a year--and I don't see how one full-time moderator can deal with this. So I expect lots of us would be seeing as many or more poor quality comments since we read TOD at odd times.

3. You want high quality? The standard solution to this is the peer-reviewed technical journal. A solution for TOD is to have featured articles which are high quality and a broad range of moderate to lower quality articles for the rest of us (I would much rather read a moderate quality article on a subject of interest than a high quality article on something not of interest).

4. You want to reach decision makers. Well they don't read blogs. If you want to reach them the solution is to post in the New York Times, Washington Post etc.

5. What I would like to know is why you have totally rejected the views posted by the readership in "What Would Readers Like to Hear About"
For example, there was a strong desire for a vastly expanded Campfire on how individuals can personally deal with the forthcoming problems. I certainly haven't found particularly useful sites--they basically fall in the "guns and ammo" approach or have an unrealistic "self-sufficiency" approach where they emphasize gardening and reverting to an 18th-19th century lifestyle.

6. There was no attempt to deal with the problem of Drumbeat. I seldom read it as the vast majority of articles are of no interest. The solution is to split it by subject matter, have each subject edited by a different volunteer, and run each subject once a week or so.

7. The approach I believe TOD should take that instead of it having a few articles and the contributors each having their own individual blog (as Gail is saying she will do) that TOD should instead be the amalgam of these blogs plus contributed articles by guests.

You want high quality? The standard solution to this is the peer-reviewed technical journal.

Not anymore. Take a look at the site. This has loads of unrefereed articles with some of the most interesting ideas that you will come across. The key is not the peer-review but it will eventually be citation count and linkability.

The other one is the open access journals, such as Energy and Entropy
Very good quality with I assume very limited peer review and quick turnaround.

The only thing they ask for is uniform typesetting and doc formatting.

The average link level for peer-reviewed scientific articles is like 1 or 2. Peer review does not matter much anymore IMO.

I still like peer-reviewed journals, because peer review weeds out so many mistakes. True, one runs into problems with peer review--such as the dominance of the mainstream views in economics. IMO, you cannot do genuine science nowadays without articles eventually appearing in peer-reviewed journals. Of course it is desirable to present work first on the Internet for fast responses, but there is just too much "noise" in the non-peer-reviewed forums.

I check TOD everyday, and have always been amazed at the high quality of the articles, and the (usually!) high level of the comments. But it's always good to make a mid-course correction. Many groups never do that and things end up badly.

The changes sound reasonable and could reduce tension and stress. None of us can do everything, and in the interests of sanity we need to focus our efforts.

Personally I've found that my interests have moved away from the technical aspects. Some people need to keep beavering away at the details (and bless them for it), but I find myself drawn to the big picture, the cultural and political changes.

Anyway, thanks to the TOD team. Your work does make a big difference.

Bart / Energy Bulletin

My interests have also gone toward the cultural and political.

I'm still in the street on a regular basis.

Always I wait to see the effects of S/N efforts.

I add my tug toward the integrated and macrosociological viewpoint.

I disagree that narrow expertise somehow makes you stupid and illogical outside of it. Smart is smart, and polymaths rule. We each have to decide how much we need to know of what fields. Fields and field techniques overlap.

Petrogeology has much higher standards and foundation than cognitive science and crowd psychology, and competent people with a scientific and evidentiary viewpoint can make a significant contribution.

Don't be shy or think TOD suffers from a lack of quality. A very small effort toward trimming the noise will work.

I love the dry boring technical articles. Very high quality. What is the relation, however, between techniques of coal mining and peak oil?

Thank you for your efforts. Will contribute as possible.

My recent thoughts have revolved around Hopfenberg's simple statement that population increases due to increases in food production. To allow for demographic transition theory, he modifies this a bit to something like "population increases due to the perception of increased food supply". It is reasonable to generalize from "food production" to "abundance", and there you will find the concept at the core of what we would call Western Culture: Abundance.

Thinking about how one culture replaces another, or how one world-view replaces another, its not always obvious what has changed; perhaps some behaviors and outward forms, perhaps language, but the one common need for success over long periods of time is an incrementally higher birthrate. A quick overview of history suggests that cultures centered on abundance, even if it is little but popular propaganda, replace low-energy sustainable cultures.

If this is so centrally located at the core of our culture, in spite of whatever intellectualisms we develop about "waste-not want-not" and living within our means (etc.), then we have some explanation for the massive contradictions between what we think and what we do, and some explanation as to why the simple notion that there is a peak and then a decline in non-renewable energy sources should cause such an earthquake of fear and loathing. It is basically a frontal assault upon the age-old paradigm of abundance.

I recall first reading about the role oil plays in economic activity here, and then the implications of decline, and it was quite a shock. At first I was highly annoyed that it had not occurred to me previously, then undertook to learn all that I could, an effort akin to a "revaluation of all values" is easy to see how others confronted with the same information should rather attempt to "bargain" some way out - solar or nuclear or complete denial of some sort.

Its not in either case necessarily a matter of doing or seeing done anything different, but a matter of keeping intact or reinventing the personal model of culture and identity we carry around internally. For example, Thanksgiving was a bit hollowed out this year - all the forms were there, but I can't bring myself to believe in them any more. And, yes, in keeping with Hopfenberg, when I see little children there is not so much enjoyment and hope as worry over what will become of them. A high birth-rate seems very out of place in the real world.

So that's all a little indirect - but I had thought to sit and write how useful TOD has been as a medium of change, and why I imagine it continues to be so difficult for many...

I hope that the oildrum will also publish articles on other shortages such as phosphorus and other minerals. These can be regarded as energy issues, with enough energy one can extract gold from seawater. As energy from fossil fuels become more expensive in terms of both EROI and money, shortages in other areas, for example food production can affect energy production.

In the past TOD articles have commented on the assumptions that underlay current standard economics, and also on new assumptions that need to underpin future economics such as the laws of thermodynamics. I hope this continues.

We live in a complex society, although the system dynamic models such as in 'Limits to Growth' have been useful. The nature and interconnectedness of the interactions in a complex probalistic system and potential consequences (intended or unintended) means that a overly focused approach may be of less utility.

One of the benefits of the current TOD is a consequence of the broad approach, the diverse range of articles and comments.

So as TOD narrows it's focus I hope that the editors bear in mind the wider picture.

Been reading this post off and on since yesterday afternoon. Commented earlier, but without much thought. Upon reflection, I have lived through this sort of thing before. Back before TOD, I read for hours each week. This was a site where a very smart guy, Jay Hansen, tore his guts out trying to solve this ridldle. Finally he gave it, the site, up with some of the most profound findings and opinions any of us are likely see again in our life times. If you want peer reviewed documents go to the site scroll down after clicking the site and read the articles. Face it, TOD has been of such interest during the past few years because all of us were looking for the magic bullet. I have been faithfully looking since the 1970's when I first learned of it. I knew Howard Odum. Hell, Howard Odum was a friend of mine. (Thank you Sen. Benson). Just this past week I came across a random link on the TOD which provided a link to an article Jay Hansen thought was worth while. Sorry commenter, I don't remember your name. Here is the article he was referring too. Give it a careful read. This is where we are and likely to be for a long time. I post it now because i fear such will not be allowed in the future.


I think having less than 7 drumbeats per week is a mistake.

IIRC, over a year ago, Leanan expressed a desire to slow down or even stop Drumbeat or the site in toto. For 5 years she has put up Drumbeats almost everyday, for free. Sure, she gets enjoyment and meaning out of her efforts, but both for her, and many of us, this website is not our lifes calling.

There are lots of things I'd like to see as well- I'd love for another website to exist where I could go and learn about wide boundary societal aspects of finance, ecology, environment, sociology and complex systems, and then come and go as I please. But that doesn't exist (yet). I can't 'will it' to exist here either. We have assembled a team of energy/depletion experts and were lucky to have Leanan contribute her dedication to providing relevant energy/environmental news along the way. But as should be obvious, it is not that easy to maintain content at a top notch level when the endeavor is a side project for most involved. As such I respect Leanans wish to drop to 3-4 Drumbeat per week. It will work or it won't.

Speaking for myself, I'll be happy with lower traffic here -ultimately if we spend time here for free, we are getting compensated somehow - knowledge, camaraderie, unexpected reward from discovery, etc. But just responding to requests satisfies only a very few. Higher signal to noise is the goal - what we've put forward is our best thought on how to accomplish it.

In full transparency, Leanan could be Karl Rove for all I know. In 5 years of interacting with her, I am yet to know her name, where she lives, or even talk to her on the phone, let alone meet her. Some of us on TOD staff are friends, but many of us have never met at all. Weird and cool at same time. But maybe that gives some flavor on the difficulty of keeping 20+ volunteers with disparate views of the future on the same page. Can't be done...;-)

"In 5 years of interacting with her, I am yet to know her name, where she lives, or even talk to her on the phone, let alone meet her. Some of us on TOD staff are friends, but many of us have never met at all. Weird and cool at same time."

After five years it's not cool anymore. You kids should get together over a taco or something.

I'm fine with 3-4 drumbeats a week. Most of us have plenty of other things to do (I generally read/comment on only 3-4 drumbeats a week as it is). My concern is that fewer drumbeats will result in more comments per, like during the GOM spill. 400+ comments really buries relevant discussions. We'll see. Do you anticipate a schedule? Mon/Wed/Fri + Weekend Campfire would be nice.

It occurs to me that the GOM spill may have been a catalyst for this change (fatigue factor + increased donations). Strange circumstance if true.

"...this website is not our lifes calling."

Damn fine results, regardless. Thanks, Nate!

After five years it's not cool anymore. You kids should get together over a taco or something.

Not many people would get on a plane and cross the ocean to have a taco. Just saying.

Another thought. If part of Leanan's workload is vetting the comments, then eliminating comments 3-4 days per week might be done. I for one usually skip comments, but read all headlines.

That's an interesting idea.

The issue really isn't my workload, and I'm not sure where Nate got that idea. There must have been some miscommunication, and it's probably my fault because I avoid staff discussions whenever possible. (I did suggest cutting back the number of Drumbeats when told the site was going "lite" though - just for the sake of balance. Seven Drumbeats a week with only 2-3 key posts would completely change the nature of the site, IMO.)

There was also some concern about the Drumbeat comments...not being the face we wanted to present to the world. Your idea of no-comment Drumbeats a few times a week would be a solution to that.

For now, I'm going to stick with the plan. (It took so much for us to get this far, I don't want to make any changes now.) But if it doesn't work out, maybe we'll consider your idea.

And for those interested...the plan is to continue daily Drumbeats for another week, then switch to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule.

Well, I read 113 comments carefully.

1) If the purpose of TOD is, by consensus of the editors, to present the facts about peak oil to the powers that be, then the information has to be "interesting to the staff" (a phrase I picked up from both Kucinich and Wellstone RIP). The powers that be don't read blogs.

2) The comments about wider distribution of the TOD through comments in the New York Times are good. I noted the absence of DailyKos, where Jerome posts on occasion. I suggest this approach: although TOD has (unwisely IMHO) dropped its approval ratings by posters, the NYTimes does rank their posts in several ways. I have noticed that some posters consistently rank highly, no matter what the subject (Marie Burns, for instance).

I would strongly suggest that the editors here look carefully both to emulating her style, and perhaps even corresponding with top-ranked commenters at the NYTimes, which although (reflexively) reviled, is also VERY influential.

3) DailyKos has a hide-rate (HR) system, which although abused by the commenters, could be used by the editors, since there are so many. The editorial rating could be shown about comments also, but I haven't worked that out. TOD really needs a comment rating system, just simple numbers, from -1 to +3, giving the ability of the commenters to disapprove as well as approve, a vital aspect. Then the editors would have some idea of what the active readers think, on a real time basis. This information could be useful to the article writers also. Perhaps communication with the programmers at DailyKos could be productive. TOD is appreciated when it comes up at DailyKos (a hugely influential site: I haven't noticed any legislators writing on TOD).

4) I'd really appreciate heavy moderation of negative personal comments about other people's work, as well as adoring but vague comments. Especially "me too" posts, which could subsumed under a rating system.

5) TOD needs to include in every article why it's important to the world, nation, city, and family to know, or act in the way the article addresses. Otherwise, legislators who happen upon TOD will regard it as just another narrow technical site. Yes, I'm actually objecting to the new narrowness. I think it poorly considered, and I suspect it might be from a rejection of challenges to STOOPID economic theses.

6) I think that analyses from economic viewpoints should be held to the highest scientific standards of all, since they are so often based on "math in the wrong places" and hardly applicable to humans at all. If human behavior is not included in economics, it's a waste of time. Hasn't that been proven sufficiently? Do we need total economic collapse to prove what's wrong?

Thanks to all the worker bees. Remember that reading a site this dense is also work. I constantly recommend this site to people, over and over again. Every reader should make it a point to do so.

7)I would like to see more edits in the original articles when comments dispute the original posting. Edits with dates and explanations and recognition of the commenter who made them happen. Recognition is important to serious commenters.

Thanks for reading all this.

Ormond in Richmond, CA

I think there is mounting evidence that 'the powers that be' are accutely aware of the concept of Peak Oil, and have been for years. The 'evidence' is arguably overwhelming. The presence of a huge US army in heart of the Middle East would seem to support this view, unless one believes in fairytales about democracy.

How can TOD have hope to have 'influence' when the premise that the 'powers that be' are unaware of Peak Oil is so transparently false, close to absurd?

Anyway the very idea that politicians care what people think about almost anything worth caring about is highly problematic as this would mean they cared about views of ordinary people. They do not. If we lived in a functioning and healthy democracy, perhaps, only we don't.

The 'powers that be' otherwise known as the 'ruling class' have a 'solution' to the challenge of Peak Oil, it's called blatant imperialism. A military onslaught to grab control of as much oil as possible. One starts with the Middle East, moves forward into Central Asia, then Africa, followed by South America.

Nicely put (as usual).

I was tasked to give a talk to a class of freshmen on PO and GW, and one of the points I ended up emphasizing was the connection and even identity between the chemical energy of ff and the political power of ruling nations and corporations.

Perhaps the central reason that what many here might see as rational approaches to PO and GW have had so little traction is that they ultimately require power to give up power.

This is of course the definition of a political problem. Historically power (chemical or otherwise) was only rested from the powerful by revolutions of one sort or another.

I hope a focus on energy will not make discussions of these crucial connections here impossible. But I think the simultaneous understanding and denial of this equation and its implications make the moderators uncomfortable, understandably.

But one cannot intelligently discuss energy without discussing power (in its various forms).

'the powers that be' are acutely aware

Well what else could Dick (Haliburton) Cheney have been talking about at that secret White House meet up with the other energy biggies; Climate Change? Of course they know.

Although I just created an account, I have been following Theoildrum since 2005. I became aware of the peak oil debate a few years prior to the founding of this site but quickly found this site one of the best if not the best. While being a silent observer in the past, your proposed changes and direction compel me to add to this debate. I have read the comments and think points have been well made and all sides have valid concerns. This said, I want to add to this debate from the point of view of a strategy professor that has attempted to educate on the serious issue of peak oil and also one that is aware of the power of a good vision and mission statement. You state above:

"The Oil Drum is a web community that seeks to facilitate civil, evidence-based discussions about energy and its impacts on the future of human societies, and to serve as a leading online knowledge-base about energy-related topics.

Conventional political, economic and media institutions still do not recognize energy’s role as a key contributor to human societies, and its importance as a driver for all of our physical processes and economic transactions. The Oil Drum aims to ensure that sufficient knowledge is available to society and that information about energy-related issues finds a platform with high scientific and ethical standards."

While you say that you are returning to an energy focus, what is said above (much like a mission statement) seems little different from the original intent of this site. When I teach and tell the class of key macro-changes occurring - peak oil, climate change and the emergence of a new multi-polar world order and how they are interconnected in shaping the future society in fundamental ways, the class generally appreciates more the importance of peak oil in the greater context of the future of our society. This also seems consistent with the 'new mission' as I am reading it. I also see the hard work still remains on educating, and the proposed focus on the top as opposed to the bottom seems ill advised. Both are needed and I use this site to help equip me to educate our future managers. I want to see this site ontinue to provide the excellent analysis for me to use to educate and yes, make a difference.

Returning to the 'mission' above, it is made explicit, at least to me, the importance of the impact on society, political institutions and the financial connection as well. This strongly suggests that the discussion of energy issues is expected to be ongoing with respect to sociology, politics and economics. If not, the editors should seriously entertain revisiting their draft mission I pasted above as it seems misleading. I also note that a new (formal) vision and mission are to be forthcoming - I am very interested in what they will say. In conclusion, I think the original intent of the oil drum should remain with some changes albeit - I like a previous post that outlines many good suggestions such as moderating personal attacks which spiral out of control and really lower the quality of the discussion and is harmful to a proper debate.

I hope then you carefully consider your new vision, mission and how you execute on them as I see this site as one of the most important sources in equipping people to intelligently debate energy issues. I want to see this continue well into the future as I think the hard work is only just begun.

Of course it would be wonderful if, IF, one had influence. Influence is a 'nice' concept, like democracy. Democracy is charming idea, rather noble, in theory. It's just a shame about how messy and disappointing it is in practice. Today, arguably, democracy has been gutted beyond repair, at least within the confines of our current socio-economic model, which feels threatened by democracy and has, therefore, castrated it.

What matters isn't influence, because only those with access to enormous wealth and power really have it, and this is Big Problem. The grotesque disparity and inequality of the distribution of Power in society. One used to say that the Devil's greatest success was to convince people that he no longer existed. I believe this applies to an even greater extent to the concept of Power. There's something unsettling about the concept of power, almost as if it's impolite to discuss it in a society that is nominally a democracy, because according to democractic dogma, in a democracy, it's the people who have ultimate power; if only that were true.

So what am I really saying? Sorry if this is deemed way too political, but I'm just getting this off my chest before the new, moderated regime, kicks in, more irony. I just think the idea that TOD is going to have 'influence' on the 'powers that be' is a mirage. A comforting illusion about the kind of society we live in and how it works. The people who need to know about Peak Oil, already know about it. It's not exactly a secret. Though it is an explosive concept with profound implications. And it's these profound implications that are so dangerous, and the reason why the ruling elite, all societies are ruled by elites after all, have not allowed Peak Oil to become part of everyday discourse. If, for example, the concept of Peak Oil had been part of what passes for common knowledge, even if only as a theory, then, I would contend, the invasion of Iraq would have been far more difficult to 'sell' to the public, because the connection to Iraq's vast oil reserves as the 'real' reason for the occupation would have been difficult to sweep aside, and the cover-story about evil men and WMD's would have been recognised as transparent propaganda by anyone who wasn't lobotomized.

Peak Oil, by it's very nature, being the blood that keeps our empire alive, is a profoundly political isssue. Of course that doesn't mean one should discuss it here on TOD. One can choose to ignore it, and its political implications, and vote to discuss the technical side of Peak Oil and energy until the cows come home. This is perfectly acceptable and reasonable, within the chosen, self-imposed boundaries that have been outlined.

I feel your pain because it is also my pain. Maybe it is not really that complicated. The knowledge and discussion of peak oil is bad for business. Much better to be talking about black Friday with a few stories thrown in about people trampling each other to get a deal on the latest electronic gadget. Transformation through consumerism. 3,000 people killed? No problem. Go shopping. Go to Disneyland. Take another antidepressant. Mission accomplished.

Returning to the 'mission' above, it is made explicit, at least to me, the importance of the impact on society, political institutions and the financial connection as well. This strongly suggests that the discussion of energy issues is expected to be ongoing with respect to sociology, politics and economics.

Strategyguy - this is correct. I apologize for lack of clarity - I told everyone here I would post this Wednesday and then had computer problems and was with family in North Carolina -my explanation clearly was on the muddled side. We'll have formal guidelines up soon that should address your question.

Energy relates to (almost) all aspects of society. If there is quality writing (by existing or new contributors) that can integrate these aspects, that will be great. The main change is that if we have 'nothing in the cupboard', we will just not run anything that day, rather than put up something non-energy related like chicken farming, chilean copper mining rescue, or a post on monetary reform. I.e. instead of posting something, we will attempt to have higher quality content (as adminstered by 8 person and growing editorial board), with an energy focus, but not to the exclusion of the other areas that intersect with energy.

Thanks Nate, that clarifies it nicely.
I have always learned from you posts, being someone coming from a perspective of environmental psychology.
I'm a;so a fellow mycology fiend!

Thank you Nate

No real need for thanks. I'm just a facilitator here, trying to keep what could be an important information resource in the fairway. I plan to step down permanently once things here are stable (or not) and go work on related pursuits.

I think we are headed for some chaotic times and as a rule there is going to be less in the future as opposed to the 'more' we've become accustomed to- the larger the % of population that understands that this trajectory is not the fault of any demographic, but due to less quality/quantity energy per capita, the better (and less reactionary) decisions might be. If aggregate message here accomplishes this, even by a small amount, it will have been worth some effort and hassle.

Hi Nate,

Hope you guys survived the Carolinas and the trip back home. Just a follow-up to "...I think we are headed for some chaotic times and as a rule there is going to be less in the future as opposed to the 'more' we've become accustomed". Swear to god, I'm not gettin' all touchy-feely when I say that I'm looking forward to the "more" that the future scenario might bring. I realize that you are talking about "hard" energy, its products and its decline versus "human" energy, but like I said above, the energy that is generated from a population looking locally for answers is altogether different from those vegging out to "Dances with the Star-Wolves", the latter of which only serves to steer the collective vision to fantasy and hero worship. So the "more" that I'm talking about is the increased local sharing of physical labor, information/stories, ....what you previously have referred to as social capital, but which I prefer to call 'one manifestation of our evolutionary heritage' (OMOOEH, to make it shorter than 'social capital' as well). I haven't thought it through carefully, so it may be a bit of a stretch, but there really was something about seeing thousands of volunteers in the Fargodome during the spring floods on the Red River of the past years, all filling sandbags for who knows what destination around town. There's a bit of dissapointment in the air when it's all over and I suspect some of this dissapointment is that, for a few brief days, there was this common cause, common mission, and collective action to solve the problem.....and now it's back to each person in their little job/cubicle/domecile which is where the "divide-and-conquer" industrialists want the public. During the flood assistance at "sandbag central", although there is a need for throughput on the sandbag filling, there is no clock to punch, no scheduled lunch break, no "hall monitors".....some people work straight through for 12 hr and others for 2 with no fanfare, but a good feeling nonetheless. (I cringed when 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", festooned with full media bells and whistles, recently built a home in nearby Moorhead....something that Habitat for Humanity does each year with far less pagentry.)

Anyway, the point is that there is a "more" to be gained from what may come, although I'm not ignorant to the "French Revolution" possibilities of the early phases of the decline.

key macro-changes occurring - peak oil, climate change and the emergence of a new multi-polar world order and how they are interconnected in shaping the future society in fundamental ways

What constantly annoys me is that CARBON USAGE has to stop, or the whole futurist enterprise is hollow. Peak oil doesn't matter, since by the time carbon prices rise through raw unaware market operation, the atmosphere will have destroyed civilization through unpredictable weather, farming failure and resultant civil unrest.

Carbon Usage is the problem, so dealing with it is primary. Often this is omitted, perhaps through revulsion at its logical effects, which lead to depression.

Personally, I'm not cheery. But

Best hopes.

I as well, applaud the staff and contributors of TOD for helping us to understand the nature of the problems facing us on the Energy Front plus many other subject areas which which do or will effect us all. The most explosive and unpredictable is the vast gap separating the minority of those who make the effort to understand the ramifications of the subjects covered here, vs. the "Majority" who not only do not have a clue; but have raised "not wanting to know" and "Denial" to a high art.

Predicting the outcome of that encounter will be as dicey as predicting possible outcomes of a rumble between North and South Korea...


What he said. I've been reading/lurking here for 3 years learning, and by far this was always my favorite section. While I can see why you guys are going the direction you are, I think it'd be a shame if campfire disappeared, or someone else didn't migrate it to a new site or take it over, etc.

Does anyone else have any campfire type sites that you visit? I'd love to see more like sites like it.

And thanks to all the great work you guys have done over the years, It's been incredibly educational.

Thanks to the team for all your efforts up to this point -- and here's wishing you success with the changes.

I have been following the Peak Oil story for many years since I was introduced to it by the late Buz Ivanhoe, who did so much to rescue Hubbert's work from neglect & obscurity. TOD has been a great resource. Some of the work has been awe-inspiring -- such as the analyses of Ghawar. Unfortunately, over the years, an element of "Doomer Porn" has crept in to TOD, particularly into the comments but even into some of the articles.

Let me offer a constructive suggestion. TOD has done a magnificent job of increasing awareness of the finite nature of fossil fuels. Now help extend awareness of alternative fuels for the future.

Some societies are planning to survive the end of cheap fossil fuels; they have no intention of regressing to the 19th Century or earlier. They will do it by embracing available technologies, as China and India are doing today with nuclear power. But there are so many other technologies under development which have a realistic potential to avoid becoming unsustainable subsidized dead-ends.

TOD could become a great forum for discussing solutions as well as problems. And discussing solutions will help win credibility with a lot of people who currently have doubts about the Peak Oil message because of the "Doomer Porn" tendencies of some of the messengers.

"unsustainable subsidized dead-ends"

Sounds like a good definition for nukes.

Please point to main posts here (or even substantial quantities of commentary) which you would describe as "Doomer Porn." I see relatively little of what I would consider that here, but we may well have very different standards.

He didn't say the Doomer Porn was here at TOD.

Thanks, Nate & the oildrum gang, for what has been an addictive site, and best of luck going forward.

I'm vastly impressed how long you all managed to keep it going with the original structure and large group of decision-makers. I think I may have some inkling of how hard you worked at it, having put together such things before.

Along the way a certain magic happened, I think; some emergent threshold was reached among the commenters and contributors which took it to another level, the closest thing to real-time systems-thinking peer review I've seen. Indeed, to me it has been the simultaneous integration and consideration of energy, environment, the bizarre workings of the human mind, complexity, thermodynamics, chaos and connectivity, science and theory, by commenters with a preposterously broad and eclectic mix of expertise which has made it a bit magical, made it much more than an energy site. Made it something there isn't, perhaps, a name for.

Best of luck going forward; I haven't commented much lately, but I have enjoyed being an occasional part of one of the least-delusional hive-minds looking at the world and its prospects.

My guess is that this will reshuffle the cast of players on all levels. I wish more of you had added email contacts to your profiles, for there are some here I've developed quite an affection for.

best hopes, indeed.

Well said Greenish. My comment when this topic came up earlier in a Drumbeat was that TOD had been like the education I should have gotten. I don't know how the changes to TOD will end up, but change happens. Nothing can remain static, especially in the environment we're in now. TOD was a happy accident (not to diminish the work involved) of the right group of people in the right place at the right time, and such situations have to evolve. My own interests have evolved now that I see the peak in production has past, and I'm more interested in the consequences and effects of that reality. Based on that I've taken a couple of long breaks from TOD in the past in order to try and understand what might be coming and when through study elsewhere, but of late I've taken to commenting again - probably just because it's nice to communicate with sane people now and again!

I don't have much interest in attempts to influence the existing social power structure to try to get them to take useful mitigation measures, as I do not think the system is capable of that, so I'm not sure how relevant I'll find that direction. Nevertheless, I'll keep reading with an open mind, and maybe sometimes comment. Thanks for all the effort that has gone into TOD and for putting up with me, good luck with the new direction, and good luck to those I've jousted with over the years. It will be a hell of an adventure regardless.

The Best of The Oil Drum 2005-2010

This was a really useful recent post and I'd like to see a follow up in terms of categorising/summarising
the posts over the last five years by subject rather than by author.

A series of pages which give a short summary of the many thousands of posts would go a long way to making
TOD a more useful reference resource (IMO).

I appreciate that this is a 'job of work' for someone but once done it would go a long way to keeping some of
the more obscure articles relevant when a reader is following a specific line of inquiry and would give space
to some of the more 'off topic' submissions that might still find a publishing platform here, even if not as
a part of the daily blog-roll.

That apart, long may TOD continue.
N.B. I'm typing this on a laptop powered by Gel batteries charged from a wind turbine as a result of TOD - (small steps = long journey)

The Globe and Mail online edition has a comments rating system that I find to be useful.

Comments can be rated up or down and they are then presented sorted according to their rating.

I find that the system pretty consistently places the best comments first. As the comment rating degrades you can chose to stop reading with a reasonable assurance that the subsequent comments are not worth your time.

For TOD with volunteers running the ship the algorithmic sorting of comments would be a great time saver.

The system also makes poor comments unlikely to be read and therefore not worth the effort to produce.

Unless the G&M wrote their own code, the system should be available, hopefully, as open source.



TOD has taught me something about myself that I did not know. That is this: once my mental ElitistAlert! goes off, I can't keep a civil tongue in my head. So I will let my fellow TODers speak for me-

Who's the target audience...? People who already know all about peak oil and implications and just want to discuss the hyper technical details of fracking...?

This could be a big mistake....

Campfire is another TOD site that I actually enjoy for its freedom of exploring the peripheral issues and the more relaxed standard of discussion. Whats to become of that?

Signal to noise ratio? Perhaps some of your noise is my signal.

If TOD narrows its focus too much, they may be turning their back on the most effective affect that they have had on society; that of changing minds/lives one at a time.

The noble, but hopelessly idealistic goal of reforming TOD to "arm and influence decision-makers" is completely misguided. Policy-makers are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the corporate/plutocratic class.

The Oil Drum should be oriented toward explaining these things to the people that didn't major in economics.

Or math, or physics, or...

Since I can count on two negative votes for any article with my name attached to it, even without bothering to read it through, I doubt that I will submit anything more to The Oil Drum.

Aaaaaaahhh! If it wasn't for Alan, I would never have learnt about electrified rail! TOD got me to rethink my attitude toward nuclear as well.

TOD as a vehicle for certain academics to preen and show how witty and smart they are.

That's that ElitistAlert! I mentioned...

It would be a shame, though, to discard the square pegs simply because they don't fit a point of view that would make me uncomfortable and at times they could get under my skin...For me, the varied interests of the membership, divergent opinions and odd collection of personalities are a big part of what makes this community tick. After all, it takes more than one colour to make a rainbow.

What I would like to know is why you have totally rejected the views posted by the readership in "What Would Readers Like to Hear About" For example, there was a strong desire for a vastly expanded Campfire on how individuals can personally deal with the forthcoming problems.

Personally I've found that my interests have moved away from the technical aspects. Some people need to keep beavering away at the details (and bless them for it), but I find myself drawn to the big picture, the cultural and political changes.

I have been unable to find another site that does what TOD does. If it becomes purely a math-and-preening site, what a loss!

another site that does what TOD does

"TOD" is not a sentient being that behaves as would a fellow human being.

Instead "it" is a complex mixture of many things.

One of the many things "it" does is act as a watering hole which draws to it folk who are more apt to engage in civil, rational, science-based discourse as opposed to ego-driven emotional flame throwing.

While the lamb and the lion might meet in peace at such a watering hole and drink side by side in peace, every so often our innate animal instincts take over and we too behave as do the occupants of less rational watering holes.

No matter which way TOD goes in its kinder (gentler) future, we owe profuse thanks to all the dedicated insiders who have made TOD what it was/is.

Sounds good. As others have commented, this is a great site. Navigating the comments can sometimes be tiring, but that is difficult in any forum. Having them all visible at least keeps minority perspectives on the page which I think is valuable.

Strange position, and quite symptomatic of our times ...

So, now that peak oil is passé, let's go back to good nice technical discussions, as of course all the seriousness to which we refered to before wasn't really serious, or what ?
Besides, we are scientists, politics is disgusting and politicians are bad people, so proposing any concrete mitigation strategies or even talking about it, we leave that to professional liars.
Talking about new agrarians "communities" and "gentle and kind" neighborhoods is good, talking about the bigger communities that are current nations and what they could do is bad, or what ?
For instance if James Hansen was willing to publish here an article about "why the US should urgently increase its gas tax from a pure selfish and self serving point of view", the answer would be sorry this isn't within our editorial line.

Of course, understand that the above may sound way too arrogant.

However, the fact remains that today's US oil consumption is equivalent to the ones of China, Japan, Germany, Russia and India --combined--.

Another fact is that the US still has a totally ridiculous gas taxation level compared to any other OECD country.
It is yet another fact that if you compare the European cars fleet to the US one, the European fleet is much more efficient in terms of mpg.

It was mentioned in a recent thread that the very first issue of the Hubbert Center Newsletter in 1998 reproduced an LA Times article arguing against lowering the gas tax :

So at least at that time, this kind of subjects where within the editorial line of the "peak oil aware community".

The new oil drum may be "Kinder and Gentler", regarding reality and events, the evolution might well be quite different.

In any case I also enjoy good technical information and analysis(and TOD for sure provides a lot of this) and of course anybody is free to choose the editorial line they are willing to have.

However from a European point of view (and I know TOD isn't American strictly speaking), or let's say from my point of view, the US could for sure do a lot regarding its current consumption, strange that discussions regarding associated policies are taken out of the editorial line ...

"Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder."
Arnold J. Toynbee

Note : regarding the site's format and especially with respect to discussions, seems to me using much smaller font for the comments, as well as having all the comments on a single flat level or at least limit the sub level to one, would be beneficial in terms of signal to noise ratio and keeping the threads on subject. It is always quite impressive to see that a forum format does indeed influence its content.

Try Ctrl-+ Ctrl-- and Cntrl-0 to change the text size. Different peoples' screen size and resolution will be different not to mention their perception. I, for example, are comfortable with it.


Yes could do that, but somehow prefer to keep font size choices as part of the site design and not touch it (also then messes some pages from sites to sites)

Trouble is that a web page cannot satisfy everyone. Different equipment renders pages differently and people have their own needs. It is a case of trying to find something that is comfortable to the most. As for breaking pages, report it to the web master, there is really no excuse as they should be testing for a range of situations.


But the Ctrl+ Ctrl- is not something that scale a web page in a linear fashion for all its components (unlike the zoom feature on an iphone for instance) it acts on font size, some fonts scale differently and this inteacts with potential fixed size stuff on a page, so perfectly normal that it can "break" some pages. Also the reason I prefer not using it (and again prefer to consider fonts sizes as part of the site's design, and the site design as part of the site itself), a linear zoom feature on PC could be useful though.
But thanks for the hint

I am having fewer Ah Ha moments on the Oil Drum.

When Nate posted his expose on human discount rates I learned something new.

What did this have to do with Peak Oil?
But it is not obvious at first. These cross fertilisations are the font of progress.

So I ask the editors to include new angles and please not keep re-hashing the blindingly obvious.


This is my last comment in this thread, and starts out in response to you but also replies to what I hear in general.

What is blindingly obvious to some may be blindingly obscure to others. Though I expect it's due largely to cognitive dissonance and other belief system foibles, the fact remains that most of the issues about resource depletion are still not understood outside small circles of people. Yes the fact that oil has possibly peaked is starting to gain traction, but not the myriad implications and nuances of that story-line. Writing coherently about the various pieces and incorporating new information might well start to reach more decisionmakers, (even if they don't make the related decisions until sometime in the future)!

This process will by definition meet with less 'unexpected reward' from those who've been hanging out here for years. Unexpected reward is how we learn. When it declines we learn less and are motivated to learn less. That is part of the issue at hand - to remain interesting/novel or try to consistently present threads that alter the warp and the weft of the tapestry which has become the limits to growth debate.

Any sensible systems thinker who has not been on mental hiatus the last decade knows there is some non-zero chance of (fast) collapse in the next decade or so. But to devote this website to writing about that one trajectory is unproductive. First of all, its too threatening to be actionable by large numbers. Second, it might actually accelerate things (though I doubt any website or group of websites has that influence), leaving less time to prepare at aggregate level. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it is completely counter to the expertise and interests of the people involved in writing here. Lastly, a focus on that trajectory rules out lots of higher likelihood possibilities. Better, (and more realistic) to present credible pieces of the resource picture and let the 'what to do' be carried out by groups elsewhere with different skill sets.

As you know from my writing here (most recently here), I believe all of our various source/sink problems will first manifest in a currency crisis - if we're not prepared for that speedbump, some pretty nasty things will happen that leapfrog any baby steps current energy decisionmakers are considering. The good news however, is if currencies go away, the day after that happens there will be the same amount of natural capital and built capital as the day before (including energy and energy systems), sufficient for a large population and vibrant society. Just not this system of claims or aspirations.

But, in same vein as my comment above, for us to write about the currency/debt default trajectory as if it were the only/most likely path would then render void all the meaningful details about how we procure energy, how we use it, how much we have, and its interrelationship with our other limiting variables. All these things will still need to be known/understood, and by the more people the better, after this speedbump has been passed. And, despite my confidence in the existence of this gnarly speedbump, I am but one writer with one perspective here (a minority one at that), and it might well be wrong, possibly very wrong. The focus now is to present relevant energy related content in a more balanced way. As I've said, that might not be as fun for some, but it could be meaningful to many others.

This is as transparent and honest as I can be. We have had internal debates on this issue for a very long time and the path we are choosing is well considered. So lets move forward and hopefully discussions of value will continue to emerge on these pages via the interaction of existing contributors, new writers and the unique community here.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it is completely counter to the expertise and interests of the people involved in writing.

To me, this thread has been of more interest than any thread in the TOD's history. What happens to a microcosm of peak oil aware folks as the tension to change rises and the stakes rise as the threat becomes real as evidenced by a collapsing economy? There's the urge to bolt, the urge to double-down by focus and control, the urge to add incrementally to what worked in the past? Relationships reshuffle, with womens' voices getting drowned out. Fight or flee rather than tend and befriend is the male reaction.

As anxiety increases in mild to moderate anxiety, mental focus narrows. But as it moves into higher anxiety, especially when helplessness is involved, intellectual errors begin to occur as the focus becomes more diffuse and hormonal responses kick in.

People start to do hasty sudden and sometimes irrational things when they're anxious (witness LATOC shutting down without warning). And as people have less time for extra activities, many parts of the old system will begin to disappear as people focus more and more on their personal situations. People start making sudden decisions without much warning or justification. I've had a number of friends up here just bolt in the past 6 months, without much ability to rationalize their decisions. Sometimes they are moving to places Outside with no friends or family? It's going to be a chaotic time with a lot of change.

Systems thinking tells us that we will need to generalize, diversify, relocalize, and hope to start experiments in living anew at a smaller scale that survive the bottleneck. These experiments will start at the local level and some will thrive as the top collapses due to complexity and lack of resources. I only started reading TOD in the past few years as the conversations moved past oil and into solutions, and the diversity of commentary from the "audience," a talented group of thinkers, was the best part. Having lead posts that force centralization, specialization, and narrow thought becomes less and less adaptive in a world that is adapting to become more general and more local? Focusing on technical aspects of energy production does not help us to do what we need to do, which is pare down the US civilization in particular with massive reductions in energy use. This blind spot that TOD carries is simply another manifestation of our global blind spot about our consumption of fossil fuels.

Nicely stated Iaato, though I'll question this if I may:

"This blind spot that TOD carries is simply another manifestation of our global blind spot about our consumption of fossil fuels."

Blind spot, or a case of choosing battles? Then, from Leanan, above:

"We already have a reputation as Doomer Central, and we'd like to change that. Or at least tone it down."

Perhaps there's an underlying motive for the staff to protect their reputations from doomers fearless realists who believe that there are few groups more qualified to discuss the overall implications of peak oil than "one of the least-delusional hive-minds looking at the world and its prospects" , as Greenish describes TOD so well above.

The Frankensteins are attempting to regain control of their Monster ;-)


The good news however, is if currencies go away, the day after that happens there will be the same amount of natural capital and built capital as the day before (including energy and energy systems),

This appears to be a direct contradiction to the "False Firemen" recommendation to stop building renewables by Hannes Kunz# of the Institute for Integrated Economic Research (IIER), of which you are a board member.

Solar PV will be on one's roof, producing an economic good of value (electricity), after the currency collapse. The promise of feed-in tariffs will vanish, but some accounting of the production will be made after the chaos subsides. And both the individual (if they have or can acquire batteries, or they get some compensation for their power generation) and society (if the grid stays up even a little bit) will benefit from the installed solar PV.

The financial savings from not building "uneconomic" solar PV will have evaporated with the currency.

The likely alternative use of the funds (consumption or "savings") would dissipate and have little if any lasting value after a currency collapse.

The best course of action for society, if one anticipates a currency collapse, is to significantly increase the investments in durable and productive capital projects. My preference would be either energy efficient or energy producing capital investments.


# It is valid on this thread to observe that Hannes Kunz is also on the new TOD editorial board.

Alan you continue to miss the point of that series.
But the final installment is coming shortly so you can duke it out there, that is if you "return" to Tod.

But I'll point out:
A) I didn't write that post so there is no contradiction
b) the fact that some people serve on Boards together does not mean they agree
C) TOD is very lucky to have someone as altruistic, smart and forward thinking as Hannes involved here. If you disagree I suggest you withhold your opinions until you have enough datapoints to make such a judgement. I do not say this lightly.

On "C", my data points are the TOD posts and a number of private eMails. Based on that sample, I respectfully disagree. The methodology strongly reminded me of papers issued by the Heritage Foundation.

But you are on the board, and I am not, so steer the ship and make your judgments as you see fit.


What was the point of that series? - I (and as I recall a lot of others) read it as 'if it cannot support BAU it is not worth doing', if what was meant is 'you can't have BAU then here is what you can have' then it used some truly terrible language to express it. Glad to hear the last part is coming, nothing like reading something you disagree with to make one think about one's own point of view.

"But the final installment is coming shortly so you can duke it out there, that is if you "return" to Tod."

Why are you so certain it will be published? Considering how controversial the series was, it wouldn't surprise me if 3 members of the editorial board will vote no (even after further editorial discussion) and thus prevent it from being published.

I would be extremely surprised if that happened.

Seconded, I note in passing that we never did get the last part of the fake fire brigade series which was supposed to cover proposed solutions or at least assess what each technology might offer. One cannot escape that the conclusion may well have been burn coal as fast as we can dig it up (i.e. what BAU would do anyway) but one could hope for better.

I should also like to add to those stating that Alan's are some of the best contributions on this forum and it will be much the poorer if he goes.

Jeez, Alan, I've been fighting this battle for a while now, challenging (some of) the Staff's bias toward PV. Some here continue to hold PV to a standard that they don't apply to other energy sources, and generally refuse to respond to my challenges.

What energy producing system is better suited to providing useful power in the event of economic/currency collapse?

Hydro? If centralized grid systems go down, large scale hydro is useless. PV can be centralized, localized, or distributed for tiny loads.

Natural gas? Without a system of currency, good luck with sustained production. Ditto: coal, nuclear, fuel oil.

Wind offers more hope due to its modularity but is more site specific.

Micro-hydro is more sustainable, but like wind is very site limited.

It's clear that the "False Firemen" recommendation is an indication that some are chosing to discount the future possibility (need) for more localization. Then again, the central planners, the "future decision makers", as Nate describes them, aren't concerned with relocalizing decision making, energy production, or anything else. Centralized planning and centralized energy production are centralized control.


I think it is exciting that TOD is adding additional collaborators of the caliber of Hannes Kunz. His presentation at the ASPO Denver 2009 conference was a stand out--along with Art Berman's. I had hoped we would see more from both and fortunately, we have. As a former politician I certainly acknowledge that we all have our detractors but I also know that whether we agree on an issue or not, there is always the next one upon which we may find agreement. But burning relationships will certainly not further the goals of TOD nor increase the stature of the detractor. Having worked in the environmental arena for many years, I frequently observed that the difference between success and failure is more often than not the direct result of the interpersonal skills of the advocate.

The probability that fossil fuel civilization is doomed is 100%. If you are enmeshed in it’s infrastructure and it does not change its eating habits, you and/or your ancestors are doomed. Even if you can detach yourself, the battle between the starving societies will be intense and will perhaps doom you. Perhaps most of our infrastructure cannot be saved or made useful with less net energy than we had yesterday. It will slowly deteriorate and the metabolism that ran through it will also grind to a halt. We seem to be evolving with no more foresight than a population of organisms and may be headed for the greatest human punctuated equilibrium event of all time.

Are these questions unbearable to the readership of the Oil Drum? Are these thoughts beyond consideration of the leaders you are trying to reach? Is the mass conversion of our economy to natural gas and the associated use of scarce capital a wise move when our base or growing metabolism will put us back in the same place in twenty years? Must reality be spoon-fed and sugar coated? Will we die like the cancer patient waiting for the next technotopian miracle? The doomburgers need to be served fresh and hot until the arrogant frat boys that run things get an education beyond law and finance.

Yes, I think it probably does help to sugar-coat bad news. Unless you're preaching to the choir, doom and gloom makes people less likely to believe your message. The more dire your warnings, the more likely they are to ignore you.

" probably does help to sugar-coat bad news."

It's like trying to make children's medicine tast good. Kid stuff.

What does this say about humans (or is it cultural)? "Life as I know it is about to take a nose dive, but you better break it to me "kindly, gently".

Maybe we need to bring the Brothers Grimm back to write some cute fairy tales about peak oil and climate change. Wait! That's why we have Stephen King and disaster movies; so when the real horror starts folks will think it's just another story.

May as well sugar coat dog poo; "Try this. It's not so bad, really!"

We're going to need better stories.

Yes. Lying to people is what ultimately backfires. The claim that people can only hear happy messages is the worst kind of pop psychology and of course a vast over-generalization. More and more people sense that things are going seriously awry and are eager for realistic views about what is going on.

One of the things that attracted me most to PO issues was in interview with JHK I happened across. What caught my attention and appealed to me most was his bald statement that we have to get past what seems to be the requirement of every warning speech--that it end with a happy message that if we just do this or that, everything will be fine.

I can't describe what a relief it was to hear someone state what I had only vaguely felt.

I think most of the population that regularly visits this site are adult enough to look at the worst possibilities and probability without needing to be coddled. That doesn't mean that these are the only possibilities we should consider, of course, and I applaud a full discussion of any realistically plausible future. I myself have been called both hopelessly naive in my optimism for possible positive futures, and hopelessly negative in my doomerism. I plead guilty to both charges. Must I totally suppress the latter side of my perspective to continue to post here?

I am particularly interested in how much or little GW discussions will be curtailed, since this is one one of the few sites that has mostly civil discussions with people from a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives on this vital issue that I have found (RC tends to be a bit over-technical for my tastes).

I'm with you. My doomer/darwinist side sometimes uses cold hard doomer truth as a test, to see how people react. If they don't get it, I hope they fail; don't have much use for them and don't want them around after the big reset.

My good angel usually wins: "this is the problem as I see it, and this is what I'm doing about it." If they react in a positive way, I'm glad to share some of what I've learned.

The 'need' to sugar coat the obvious is frustrating. It's not my fault if folks aren't paying attention. Kind of arrogant, huh?

The claim that people can only hear happy messages is ... pop psychology

It's not a matter of "can" but rather what they "choose" to hear.

When people go to the movies, they can choose to see a movie with a happy ending; or one with an adult ending.

Overwhelming they choose the fairy godmother ending.

When people go to the voting booth, they can choose the candidate who promises the shiny city on the hill; or the one who tells them an adult version of the truth.

Overwhelming (read my lips) they choose the one who promises free candy for all if only they cast their vote for the fairy godmother political talking points.

It is not pop psychology. It is statistical reality.

"Overwhelming they choose the fairy godmother ending."

Jeez, Step Back, I usually chose a happy ending. Even "The Road" ended with a glimmer of hope, though I know the difference between the movies and real life.

Let the Sheeple have their hope. It's critical to our survival. Meantime, folks like us will plan for the worst, while there's still time.

"When people go to the voting booth, they can choose the candidate who promises the shiny city on the hill; or the one who tells them an adult version of the truth."

I wish we in Britain had the choice at election times that you appear to have in the US. Here, whoever you vote for they end up doing the same thing in bed with big business. e.g. Blair stated, "I am a socialist ..."

and the current lot are putting Coke a Cola and McDonalds among other worthies in charge of advising on food policy.

The citation uses "may" heavily.

My everyday experience over the last few years is that the number of people who believe that serious problems are afoot has risen substantially.

People may discount the dire messages but it appears that in the face of ongoing bad news without concomitant and reasonably probable solutions available, people's ability to set aside "gloom and doom" declines.



Sugar-coating is not necessary, Leanan, but dire warnings alone don't get the job done. Cartoonists for decades have been mocking the guy on the street corner carrying an "End is Nigh" sign; it is not surprising that the "Doomer Porn" crowd find themselves unable to win credibility with the general public. Being right about the finite nature of fossil fuels is not enough!

The path TOD's Powers That Be have chosen is "to present aspects of energy analysis and perspective that can be used as building blocks by future decision-makers". If TOD really wants to influence decision-makers, then a diet of "Doomer Porn" becomes an unaffordable luxury. Most of us early in our working lives had a boss who told us -- Don't just bring me problems; bring me problems and some proposed solutions.

There are many alternatives to the finite nature of fossil fuels beyond a nasty regression to the unpleasant world of the early 18th Century (at best), which is the staple of "Doomer Porn". Human beings around the world are striving to innovate constructive solutions. It is far too early to follow the "Doomer Porn" crowd and just give up.

Bottom line -- TOD should match serious analysis of the problem with broad-ranging investigation of potential solutions, if TOD wants to earn real influence on broader society.

"Doomer Porn"

That's about the tenth time you've used that term in the last day. Define it, identify where you've seen it here or elsewhere, or stop using loaded, ill defined terms.

Yes, I think it probably does help to sugar-coat bad news.

Leanan, et al,

That is exactly why I liked the Campfire discussions, in all their goofy topics and with the wide ranging, and sometimes way off topic, comments. It was a chance to hear real people speak from the heart about coping with a changing world. Gardening, for sure. Gardening is one of the few things that people can start, low tech and small scale, and work into the busy lives that they already have. It gives them skills for the future and better eats in the present. Best of all, it gives people a way to grapple with change, within a context that they can to some extent control. Hearing from the commenters with farms was just invaluable, any politics expressed irrelevant.

Clearly, burn out among the remarkable staff of dedicated and highly accomplished volunteers that edit TOD requires a change of focus. We are just lucky that the editors kept it together as long as they did, and attracted such a talented group of commenters. Best of luck with new directions, or more focus on old directions.

We also serve who write about cooking and gardening and getting really local. My blog appears frequently, if not regularly, on transtionwhatcom dot ning dot com. Just search on "Celt's Garden" and it will come right up.

Best to all in all your endeavors,
Hamster, aka Celt M. Schira, P.E.

I liked your comment but think you forgot one important reward that comes with gardening. I've been gardening now for 20 years (both vegetables and perennials) and it's been a reconnection to the earth, a connection I strongly held as a child but had missed during early adulthood. This connection is so important in forming a value system that puts Mother Earth first, above profit, consumption, waste of resources. If everyone gardened or farmed I think the will to change and the will to address environmental problems would be a natural response.

I agree, Leanan. A little Doom goes a long way.

It's also boring - if one is convinced that the End is Nigh, one is closed to new ideas, new trends. It's like watching a movie, whose end you already know.

BBC's - One Planet is doing some specials on this behavioral theory. That is also what Republican pollster Frank Luntz said years back.

Doom and gloom, "we're all going to die regardless of what we do" is not a positive approach to problems.

You don't want to be like the last tribe of Homo neanderthalensis in Europe, shivering in a cave on the coast of the Mediterranean during the last ice age and saying, "I don't know where our next meal is going to come from!"

You want to be like the first tribe of Homo sapiens in Siberia, standing on the edge of the ice sheets in their warm (and stylish) fur winter outfits, eyeballing the mammoths and saying, "There's a lot of meat in those things. I bet if we made spears big enough, we could kill them!"

I only mention this because I have been reading some recent books on prehistory. Modern man is much more flexible and creative than his predecessors.

I question the assertion that "Modern man is much more flexible and creative than his predecessors." Take a look at hunting and gathering communities during 100,000 years of prehistory. They survived and gradually increased in numbers. They innovated, e.g. by inventing bows and arrows and spear throwers. These innovations gave hunters more meat, more energy, and the population gradually increased to the point where most of the game was hunted down to extinction or small numbers. Then these "primitive" peoples (over time) invented horticulture--a huge gain in available food energy. The earliest civilizations were horticultural rather than agricultural; true plow agriculture is only (roughly) 4,500 to 5,000 years old.

Modern society is complex. We have somewhere around 20 or 30 thousand job categories in the U.S. The market helps to solve some economic problems--but it fails when it comes to declining production of fossil fuels and also in the case of negative externalities.

There is a classic article in sociology or cultural anthropology: "Steel Axes for Stone-Age Australians" by Lauritson Sharpe. He shows how a tribe fell apart and disappeared when missionaries introduced steel axes to the hunters and gatherers. Modern society may (or may not) fall apart and disappear due to a relatively rapid decline in the production of oil and then other fossil fuels. I think the decline of our modern economy and modern society will take about 200 years, as John Michael Greer suggests in THE LONG DESCENT.

I question the assertion that "Modern man is much more flexible and creative than his predecessors."

It's clear from the archeological record that Homo sapiens is much more creative and innovative than preceding species of human beings, e.g. Homo neanderthalensis or Homo erectus. Older species of human beings used to make spear heads, for instance, but they would make them exactly the same way for 500,000 years. Homo sapiens started to make much more elaborate spear heads and changed the spear head designs from time to time, often for no apparent reason other than they could.

Anthopoligists are now starting to make a distinction between anatomically modern human beings, and behaviorally modern human beings. Anatomically modern human beings appeared around 200,000 years ago. However, the behavior patterns associated with modern human beings appeared much more recently. People only started acting like modern human beings around 50,000 years ago.

Thee is also the recent discovery that human evolution has been accelerating. The old assumption was that evolution had ended when Homo sapiens first appeared. However, DNA analysis has indicated that is not true. Rather than coming to a halt, human evolution has speeded up in recent millenia. It's not clear what human beings are evolving into, but it is clear that they are evolving very fast at this point in time.

Like several others here I seem to be confused about where the new lines will be drawn. It seems that the intent is to make this site a more rigorous academic site, providing a substitute peer-review, because the mainstream journals don't want to look at Peak Oil articles.

I don't know how this will play out, but at the risk of offending some, I have the following observation:

To me, the most valuable content on this site comes from the discussion by and between Alan, Jeffrey, Ron and Leanan. I think that to the extent that they continue to contribute, the site will succeed, and to the extent that they don't, it will fail. This is also true to a slightly lesser extent with the next tier of posters.

Still, do not get how it is that people here want to continue. Your not doing it for money apparently..?. as a 'public service' it is mostly just repeating info. from elsewhere.

I guess there is some ego involved then for all you players?
Promoting your side projects... books... papers.. etc.
Sorry... but those days are over also. Digitized information is worthless now as it is not scarce.
Maybe it is just time to pack up the marbles and go home?
Nothing lasts for ever and you are all just a part of nothing.
As to these issues being complex... they are not. An economics education is not required.

Anyone with an 8th grade education that is not brainwashed knows, or can understand.. what is going on.

As stated... this is not really a peak oil site at all... Hubbert would probably laugh at it.
It deals in money issues as to that and resources.
Really the issue here is the Price System and how that relates to contract society and corporate fascism.
Technocrats have a saying among themselves.... 'Hello sucker'
That was said often when two technocrats met.
The group had a dry sense of humor.
It was a way of laughing about the current debt token system... gallows humor.
The technocrats understood long ago that the Price System.. unless stopped... destroys itself, in a not very nice way.
This site can twist and turn and paw the ground all it wants, tail chase aspects of money and peak oil, but as said, peak oil is not even an issue unless we live in a very bad social system, world wide, and we do.

World culture in 2010 is oblivious to any real change.
Maybe you could rename this blog 'Post Collapse' or 'How our social system destroyed the world for debt tokens'... or something, but to just be a hand maiden/slave, group of scribes, for the powers that be, which is all this is unless it is involved in questioning the political social system as it relates to energy, but well... do as you will, any way I will look in on it, now and then,
but... sounds boorish.
No soul.
But maybe that is reflective of 2010.
Just give some numbers and fiddle as Rome goes dark.

Good luck with the changes TOD and thanks to the staff and posters who make the site so interesting.

Good stuff Nate the Editor. Getting a hold on the facts around energy are the core of any debate or discussion around energy depletion, hopefully the new focus will make the site even better than it is already, good luck with the changes.

As for :

.. some will be concerned our content will become overly boring

I doubt it. The more the site gives us interested energy amateurs - and professionals for that matter - factual infomation, the more interesting and well-informed the debate actually becomes.

A big "thank you" to The Oil Drum's tireless staff and contributors. And it's great that the site will be more focused. One criticism of the site I've had for a long time, is that Drumbeat always seems to degenerate into a climate-change argument. I tuned out, which is a pity, but it was taking too much time to scroll through to the real nuggets. Enough already ! Please keep it limited to oil / energy.


Maybe we should do another spinoff?

I was thinking about this last night. If the Board wants to go narrowly energy, and many people are dismayed to lose discussions of great interest and value, why not have all the dismayed people start a new site that keeps the focus where they would prefer?

Any ideas?

Thanks to all for an amazing service. You should all be proud.

I support your decisions. You've earned the right for our support regardless of the direction.

I do think we need an alternate site to discuss the implications of declining energy, peak credit, and CO2 levels that will increase regardless of anything we do short of complete collapse. I will be watching to see where everyone ends up.

It seems to me that The Oil Drum's success may be attributed to the fact that it concentrated on the analysis of data regarding the production of oil refinery feedstock.

Several bits of good fortune combined. The data was plentiful so there was plenty of analysis to do. Not everyone could do the analysis so there was a natural separation of ability in the comments. There was a singular target for the analysis so the threads didn't wander.

Those days are now past and the core group at The Oil Drum has so recognized.

Perhaps attempting to retain a focus on quantitative analysis would be wise. It seems to have been one of The Oil Drum's main strengths.

Shifting focus to refineries themselves and their output feedstocks is a possibility.

For example, in an environment of declining supply:

- will the big all purpose refineries remain economically viable? No new refineries are being built, would smaller refineries be preferable?

- would smaller special purpose refineries be more viable in a declining input feedstock environment? would such smaller refineries have a national security role? can refineries with narrow feedstock outputs be built? if so what would their designs be?

- would a specialized refinery producing pharmaceutical feedstock be: economically viable? a national security priority?

- would a refinery producing agricultural feedstock; be viable? be a national security priority?

- would a refinery producing plastics feedstock: be viable? be a national security priority?

- how should the output feedstock distribution change as input feedstocks decline? Should the output feedstock distribution be a national priority?

There is plenty of data to analyze. If a limited number of output feedstocks are under consideration the analysis retains focus. Quantitative analysis would, again, separate the wheat from the chaff. The overall focus on oil is retained.



Should refineries in the Midwest be expanded to refine Canadian oil, or should Canadian oil be piped to refineries in the South with the product piped back to the Midwest?

Thanks to all the Oil Drum board and volunteers for so many years of hard work and great analysis. I've learned something new nearly every time I checked in over the past 4 1/2 years.