Drumbeat: November 30, 2010

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Seek Gas to Supplant Use of Oil for Power

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, and neighbor Kuwait seek to add natural gas supply to avoid burning crude and refined products to generate power, officials from the two nations’ state oil companies said.

“We are picking up gas exploration,” Ahmad Al-Sa’adi, vice president of gas operations at Saudi Aramco, said today at a conference in Doha, Qatar. “Any liquid fuel we are burning comes at the expense of our exports.”

Saudi gas demand rising at 5-6 pct a year-Aramco

Saudi Arabia’s gas demand is growing 5 to 6 percent annually but the world’s top oil exporter is trying to curb domestic consumption, an executive from state oil giant Saudi Aramco said on Tuesday.

“Annual growth is around 5-6 percent and is going to continue at this level as things stand now,” Ahmed Al-Sa’adi, vice president of gas operations at Aramco, told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Doha.

“There is a lot of effort in adopting energy efficient programmes to curtail demand,” he said when asked about what could contribute to a drop in demand.

OPEC November Oil Output Fell 0.3%, Led by African Producers, Survey Shows

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ crude-oil output fell in November, led by Nigeria, where attacks by armed groups are reducing production, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Production slipped 80,000 barrels, or 0.3 percent, to an average 29.05 million barrels a day, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. October output was revised higher by 120,000 barrels. Production by members with quotas, all except Iraq, dropped 80,000 barrels to 26.7 million, 1.855 million above their target.

NY State Assembly Passes Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium

The New York State Assembly passed a bill late Monday banning new hydraulic fracturing in the state until May 2011 to allow time for further study of the oil and natural-gas drilling technique.

The state senate approved the ban in August, and Gov. David Paterson is widely expected to approve the measure. The bill bans state regulators from issuing new drilling permits for wells that would use hydraulic fracturing until May 15 "to afford the state and its residents the opportunity to continue the review and analysis of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on water and air quality, environmental safety and public health."

Europe's scramble for gas sees controversial hydraulic fracturing cross the Atlantic

In the US, gas-extraction in the Marcellus Shale has been linked to pollution and social conflict. Now Halliburton, Chevron and Exxon, among others, want to bring the so-called 'fracking' process to Europe.

Shell, Gazprom to Deepen Russian Ties, Develop Internationally

Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, and Peter Voser, Chief Executive Officer of Shell, signed a protocol on strategic global cooperation. This agreement establishes basic guidelines for the companies' broader collaboration.

Today's Trends: Australia Natural Gas Production Rises

Australia's natural gas production has grown over the past decade as operators continue to uncover conventional natural gas, particularly in the offshore Carnarvon and Browse basins offshore Western Australia, and unconventional gas resources such as coal seam gas reserves in eastern Australia.

Bulgaria urges fiscal leeway for Nabucco financing

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria urged the European Union on Tuesday to allow countries in the Nabucco pipeline to write off bank guarantees they are to extend from their fiscal deficits, to show the gas link is a priority for Brussels.

Enbridge in pipeline talks with aboriginals

CALGARY — Enbridge Inc. is in discussions with aboriginal communities along the route of its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, offering them a potential equity stake in the controversial project.

MPs, natives press for oil-tanker ban

Liberal and New Democratic MPs have joined with West Coast native groups in an attempt to block an export pipeline carrying oil-sands crude, urging the Conservative government to pass a ban on super-tanker traffic along northern British Columbia’s coast.

China and Russia 'circling like vultures' over BG's and Shell's Kazakhstan energy projects

China and Russia are "circling like vultures" over BG Group and Royal Dutch Shell's energy projects in Kazakhstan, according to US diplomatic papers revealed by WikiLeaks.

Nigeria hit by fuel shortage as depot owners, truckers strike

Lagos (Platts)-- Nigeria was Tuesday hit by a fresh round of fuel shortages after petroleum product depot owners and fuel truck drivers began a one-week warning strike by to press their demands for a government bailout.

India's coal shortage to deepen next year

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's coal deficit will deepen sharply next year, its coal minister said on Tuesday, forcing Asia's third largest economy to import more of the fuel on which it relies.

The coal shortage will be 104 million tonnes in the next fiscal to March 2012, Sriprakash Jaiswal said, a jump of 23.8 percent from the current year's estimate.

Rural poor to get INR 1400 subsidy for LPG connection

On the prevailing LPG shortage, Mr Bhargava further said that by December 15th, distribution will be normalized. He attributed the shortages to festive demands, unseasonal rains in many parts, higher demand from the North due to the winter demand besides panic booking by consumers and said oil marketers are working on a war footing to normalize the supply.

Mr Deora said the country will have to import 3.9 million tonne or 32% more cooking gas this fiscal to meet the growing demand and pointed out that the number of LPG connection has grown nearly three times since 1999 when there were only 3.81 crore consumers, to 12.2 crore now.

Mexico Supreme Court to hear Pemex law challenge

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a challenge to regulations that would allow the state oil monopoly Pemex to sign contracts with private companies, as some lawmakers try to block a bid to open up the sector.

"They are discussing it, it's in today's order," a court spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday.

Iraqi Kurds: Oil Laws by June 2011 Or Won't Join Government

The semi-autonomous government of Iraq's Kurdistan region wants new hydrocarbon and revenue-sharing laws by June 2011 as a condition of its participation in a new Iraqi administration, the Kurdistan Regional Government's minister for natural resources said Tuesday.

A Look Back at The 2010 Hurricane Season

This Atlantic hurricane season was marked by intense storm activity which however resulted in little disruption across the United States. While the season spawned 12 hurricanes, none hit land on U.S. shores. Latin America was not so lucky, especially Mexico which was rocked by Hurricane Karl. We in the U.S. have the position of the jet stream this year to thank for our good fortune, as it diverted many of the storms back to sea.

Special Report: Nuclear's lost generation

There's a hole in the nuclear workforce, not just in Finland but across the Western world. For the moment, the operator of the Olkiluoto 3 plant, power utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), is getting by with its most experienced staff. As those workers retire, though, the skills shortage could become a crisis.

"The nuclear industry has been in the desert for years and years and the question is how to revamp it and how to revamp human resources," says Colette Lewiner from Cap Gemini, a consultancy firm which raised concerns about the aging nuclear workforce in a report in 2008 and has warned "there will be no nuclear power renaissance" without efforts to tackle the problem. "The industry needs to ramp up and it needs to do it quickly."

Progress Energy Aims To Restart Nuclear Plant In Early 2011

Progress Energy Inc. said Tuesday it hopes to restart its Crystal River nuclear power plant in Florida early next year after a year-long unscheduled outage to make repairs.

Bulgaria, Russia sign MOU for nuclear plant firm

(Reuters) - Bulgarian power utility NEK and Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding to set up a project company for the Balkan country's second nuclear plant in Belene.

In nuclear energy, smaller is better

A growing cadre of scientists and executives is promoting the idea of small, modular reactors (SMRs) as the way out of the current impasse. And the nuclear industry's biggest players are signing up.

Japan to revise nuclear energy policy framework

TOKYO — The Japan Atomic Energy Commission decided Tuesday to revise the 2005 framework for nuclear energy policy in view of recent changes including growing demand for nuclear power generation to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, government officials said.

Integrating Wind and Water Power, an Increasingly Tough Balancing Act

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration, the largest of 16 U.S. Department of Energy pilot projects, is under way in five Northwest states. It seeks ways to balance the region's huge base of hydroelectric power with its fast-expanding collection of wind farms.

Dr David Fleming: 1940-2010

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Dr David Fleming, who passed away peacefully in his sleep last night while visiting a friend in Amsterdam. David was a huge inspiration to me personally, as to many others, and is one of the few people I have met who I considered close to being a genius. He was also one of the funniest, kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever had the honour to know. His passing will leave a large void in our lives. And he never did get his bloody book finished!
(Dr. Fleming contributed articles on tradable energy quotas and nuclear power to The Oil Drum.)

Ecology North calls for gas-shortage plan

A Yellowknife-based environmental lobby group is calling on the territorial government to work out a gas-shortage action plan after many local pumps ran dry last week.

Motorists stockpiled gasoline after the Merv Hardie ferry was pulled from service for more than a week because of low river levels.

Sustainable energy a way out of power crisis in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The crisis of energy shortfall, being faced by Pakistan, can be properly addressed by relying on sustainable energy and long-term and short-term measures should be taken in this regard, it was stressed during a conference on “Power Generation Systems and Renewable Energy Technologies,” at International Islamic University (IIUI) on Monday.

25 killed by flooding, landslides in Venezuela

Flooding and landslides unleashed by torrential rains have killed 25 people in Venezuela, forced thousands from their homes and idled an oil refinery.

The death toll rose on Tuesday as authorities reported 12 additional deaths in Caracas and nearby states. Officials say more than 5,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

GM hiring to push electric effort beyond

General Motors Co. said on Tuesday it would hire 1,000 engineers and researchers in Michigan over the next two years to develop more electric cars and hybrids as it launched its battery-powered Chevrolet Volt.

"Volt clearly demonstrates that we are well on our way and it is especially true when it comes to the electrification of the automobile," GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson said at a ceremony marking the start of production of the plug-in hybrid.

What Energy Secretary Chu Says on Solyndra, the Decline in Green Investing

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu hosted a conference call yesterday for reporters. He emphasized the need for the U.S. to maintain its lead on innovation in the energy sector given the rise of China’s growing energy needs and its commitment to cleantech.

Fossil fuels future: feast or fantasy?

I don’t pretend to have the expertise to say who is right, but I do remember the global oil “glut” of the 1980s that resulted from a runup in energy prices in the 1970s. It took the air out of the renewable energy industry here in the U.S., and European countries like Denmark and Germany forged ahead in the development of wind turbine technology. Yet within another 15-20 years, surging global demand had burned off the glut and energy prices were rising again. If we are indeed heading into another short-term oversupply situation, it may be well to remember that a short-sighted policy response to the last one cost America its leadership in what is today one of the world’s fastest-growing new manufacturing industries.

Is Mark Ruffalo really on a terror watch list?

"His name is not in any of our bulletins," Maria A. Smith, the spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "There is no list, we never even had a list."

Truth Needn't be Scary

The attempt at arguing $225/barrel oil means people can no longer afford insulin is both a strawman and a red herring, as well as a thinly disguised argument in favor of maintaining the status quo. Decent public transportation in walkable cities instead of Lexus payments--as well as not taking on mountains of unnecessary consumer debt in the first place--would allow people to afford their insulin. More importantly, if they were to stop eating processed death foods and washing them down with high-fructose corn syrup that has a few cancer agents plus a neurotoxin and an endocrine disrupter thrown in for color, flavor and preservation they might not need the insulin in the first place. And, of course, getting off their duff once in a while would be a big help too.

Could Britain's gas stocks run out this winter?

(Reuters) - The British gas market could be caught short this winter as an early cold snap sees suppliers tapping into storage a month earlier than last year, eating into stocks needed for when demand usually peaks early in the year.

Wholesale gas traders started withdrawing from Rough -- Britain's only long-range storage facility -- two weeks ago and supplies have been sinking since to about 17 percent below levels seen this time last year, data from network operator National Grid showed.

The premature and pronounced drain on the site under the North Sea, which holds the vast majority most of Britain's back-up gas, could spell supply jiters early next year.

"If you do the numbers, storage will be empty some time in early February if it stays this cold," said Jason Durden, energy trader at Energy Quote JHA.

U.K. Natural Gas Declines From 21-Month High as Supply Rises; Power Falls

U.K. next-month natural gas declined from its highest level since February 2009 as National Grid Plc forecast increased supply. Power tracked the fuel lower.

National Grid forecast the U.K.’s pipelines will hold 367 million cubic meters at 6 a.m. tomorrow, almost 20 million more than at the start of today. The grid manager forecast demand will rise to 433 million cubic meters by that time, 89 million more than normal for the time of year.

Natural Gas Futures Decline on Abundant Supplies

Gas futures dropped as inventory levels in the week ended Nov. 19 were 9.5 percent above the five-year average, wider than a 9.3 percent surplus the previous week, the Energy Department said on Nov. 24. Colder-than-normal weather may blanket most of the eastern and central U.S. from Dec. 4 through Dec. 8, according to Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The market knows we can handle just about anything Mother Nature can throw at us this winter,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest in Chicago. “We haven’t seen a price level that has caused natural gas production to fall off dramatically.”

Hedge Funds Raise Natural Gas Wagers to Four-Month High

Hedge funds increased bullish bets on natural gas to the highest level in four months on speculation that lower-than-normal temperatures will bolster heating demand and trigger withdrawals from record stockpiles.

Oil Falls on Speculation European Union May Have to Bail Out More Members

Oil dropped from the highest price in two weeks amid concern that the European Union may have to bail out more member states after Ireland agreed to a rescue package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Futures fell as much as 1 percent as the euro weakened against the dollar. The cost of insuring against default on Portuguese and Spanish debt climbed to records yesterday after Ireland secured financial aid this weekend. Oil also retreated on speculation that measures to slow China’s economy will damp crude demand in the world’s largest energy user.

Cold begins to have chilling effect on gas prices

Retail gasoline prices should decline across much of the country as demand ebbs with the arrival of the winter months.

The national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was $2.857 on Monday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That's about 1.5 cents lower than it was a week ago but about 23 cents higher than a year ago.

Societe Generale Raises 2011 Brent Oil Forecast 9.4% to $93.10 a Barrel

Societe Generale SA, France’s second-biggest bank, raised its forecast for Brent crude oil prices in 2011 by 9.4 percent because of rising demand for fuel from emerging markets such as China.

Brent crude will average $93.10 a barrel next year, up from the previous forecast of $85, according to a report e-mailed report by the commodities research team led by Paris-based Frederic Lasserre. The bank also increased its estimate for oil demand growth in 2011 to 1.6 million barrels a day from 1.4 million. Prices will also climb as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s second round of purchases of U.S. treasuries, known as quantitative easing, pushes the dollar lower.

European Gasoline Barges Fall; Gasoil Futures Crack Widens: Oil Products

European gasoline barges dropped on declining Brent crude costs. Prices gained 4.4 percent this month. Gasoil’s crack, or premium to Brent, widened. Futures prices were little changed.

Taweelah-Fujairah taps turned on

Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy said today it has completed the 244 kilometre Taweelah-Fujairah gas pipeline, which will provide gas to two power stations in the north of the United Arab Emirates.

Russia puts South Stream price tag at 15.5 bln euros

(Reuters) - Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom said its South Stream gas pipeline project from the Caspian to Europe will cost 15.5 billion euros, well above previous estimates of around 10 billion euros.

"In current prices, the seabed portion will cost 10 billion euros, and the on-land portion in Europe around 5.5 billion," Gazprom said in an article posted on its web site on Tuesday.

Russia's 2010 budget spending may fall 400-500 bln rbls below plan - ministry

Russia's budget spending may fall by 400-500 billion rubles in 2010 compared with the budget plan while unspent funds will be channeled back into the Reserve Fund set up to cushion the federal budget against a fall in oil prices, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach said on Tuesday.

Russia eyes Qatar

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom is in talks about expanding in Russia and into rival gas exporter Qatar, deputy chief executive of Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, said today.

Dubai Receives First Liquefied Natural Gas Cargo From Qatar, Shell Says

Dubai received its first cargo of liquefied natural gas from Qatar yesterday, said John Barry, vice president for technical and production in the Middle East and North Africa for Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Iraq delays first census since 1987 over land row

BAGHDAD - Iraq postponed once again its first full census in more than two decades on Tuesday as it struggles to end a longstanding dispute between majority Arabs and minority Kurds over land and oil.

Nigeria summons Shell, Halliburton execs over graft

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's anti-corruption police said on Tuesday they wanted to interview the country heads of Shell and U.S. oil services firm Halliburton as part of investigations into two separate bribery cases.

Russia LUKOIL to invest $900 mln in W.Africa '11-'12

(Reuters) - LUKOIL, Russia's No.2 oil producer, plans to invest about $900 million in West Africa in 2011-2012, investor relations head Andrei Gaidamaka said on Tuesday.

Opening oil exploration to the East Coast

The African Continent’s west coast has long been an oil rich haven for oil companies from the west to exploit, yet now with the continual discoveries of oil rich deposits in the east, companies are turning their attention to countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique to source large quantities of Africa’s oil reserve.

Dr Drill on the case in the search for oil at new frontiers

Exploration during the brief summer season this year was tantalising: indications of oil and gas in two wells. As yet, there is no commercial find. But now that a "petroleum system" has been proved in this vast area, big enough to hold three North Seas, other companies know that a major strike is just a matter of time - and Greenland is only one of the new frontiers emerging in the search for oil.

We keep hearing that "there is nowhere left to look for oil" and "all the big fields have been found". Yes, many parts of the world have been thoroughly explored, but a decade of high oil prices has encouraged a return to frontier wildcatting, the buccaneering end of a staid industry. Where else should bold chief executives and smart investors be looking?

BP hails milestone in Canadian oil sands plan

LONDON (AFP) – British energy giant BP has welcomed key progress in its controversial plan to extract oil from Canadian sands, with a company spokesman on Tuesday describing the step as a "significant milestone".

Canadian group Husky Energy, BP's joint-venture partner, said on Monday that it was giving the go-ahead for the project's first phase.

Woodside Delays Pluto LNG Start, Raises Cost Estimate 7% to $13.5 Billion

Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil producer, said its Pluto liquefied natural gas venture will cost A$900 million ($867 million) more and start about six months later than previously projected.

China bars US official from American's appeal

BEIJING – A Beijing appeals court barred U.S. diplomats from attending a hearing Tuesday for an American geologist sentenced to eight years in prison for obtaining information on China's oil industry that the government says are state secrets.

Russia's oil export duty to rise 4.5 pct to $303.8 per T from Dec. 1

Russia's crude oil export duty will increase 4.5 percent to $303.8 per ton from December 1, a governmental decree published on Tuesday said.

The export duty on oil produced in East Siberia will amount to $108 per ton from the current $98.8 per ton. The same export duty will be levied on North Caspian oil.

Petronas to Pay $9.7 Billion Shell-Sized Dividend as Oil Production Falls

Malaysian state oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd. will pay the government a dividend of about 30 billion ringgit ($9.5 billion) this fiscal year and focus investment on extending the life of the nation’s reserves, Chief Executive Officer Shamsul Azhar Abbas said.

Nigeria: Strike creates long lines at gas stations

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- A strike by Nigerian gas tanker drivers is creating long lines at gas stations in Africa's top oil producer and crippling activity in its cities.

Igwe Achese, chairman of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the tanker drivers started a seven-day strike Monday to protest the Nov. 9 killing of a driver at a joint police-army checkpoint in northern Nigeria and the seizure of two tankers by the army.

Billionaire Fredriksen Bets $2 Billion on Rigs After BP Spill

Billionaire John Fredriksen’s Seadrill Ltd. invested $2 billion in the past two months on oil rigs, leading a jump in orders as safety concerns after BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico disaster spur demand for newer platforms.

New Outrage in the Gulf

Specifically, in 1990, shortly after Exxon’s 750,000-barrel Alaska catastrophe, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act to funnel up to $28 million in research money annually to pre-empt and respond to possible disasters, as the oil industry “pushed the frontier of deepwater drilling.” This money wouldn’t come from the general coffers, but rather a trust fund, covered by a 5-cent per-barrel tax collected from the oil industry.

But over the ensuing 20 years, the report states, the piggy bank got raided: Congress never appropriated even half the $28 million, shifting the money elsewhere, leaving the the Coast Guard, Minerals Management Services, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency—the four agencies charged by the law to combat the spill threat—with technology that hadn’t been updated much in nearly two decades.

US: China rise a 'Sputnik moment' for clean energy

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A senior US official called China's growing innovation a "Sputnik moment" that should spur the United States to ramp up investment in clean energy, despite a shift in Washington on climate change.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu likened a series of Chinese milestones -- including the development of the world's fastest supercomputer -- to the Soviet Union's landmark 1957 satellite that led the United States into the Space Race.

In the Energy Race, Echoes of Sputnik

With some House Republicans gunning for the stimulus bill, especially the portion that went to the Energy Department, the energy secretary went on a pre-emptive offensive of sorts on Monday in advance of the Republican takeover over the chamber, telling an audience at the National Press Club that that money was merely a down payment.

Can business leaders create clean jobs?

The problem is, the free market hasn't taken care of our energy sector. We don't have a consistent, comprehensive energy plan. The bad news is that a lot of countries are spending more on energy R&D than the U.S. does. The good news is that nobody is there yet. No one is so far down the pike that it wouldn't make any sense for us to start. I can't imagine anything that would do more for U.S. competitiveness than if we could make a breakthrough in clean, cheap energy.

Peak Coal Is The Next Energy Crisis You Need To Start Paying Attention To

While everyone knows about the threat of peak oil, peak coal is looming, but for somewhat different reasons.

Peak coal would be the product of an adjustment in demand brought on by green energy programs worldwide, according to a presentation by Kjell Aleklett is the president of The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.

HP leads the way in sustainable energy efforts

Engelina Jaspers, VP of Environmental Sustainability, HP, explains that the company is committed to its plan to reduce energy usage and has already accomplished several goals in its overall plan to become the leading IT firm in energy sustainability.

The company’s approach towards sustainable energy is unique. Not only does HP focus on reducing the amount of energy used in the production and manufacturing of their products, they have also reduced the GHG emissions in the supply chain as well as the product usage side.

Cracker Barrel Drives Electric Vehicle Pilot Project

LEBANON, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has always tried to offer the genuine hospitality and honest value associated with times past, and now the popular family restaurant is looking to the future with its new pilot project – installing Blink electric vehicle (EV) chargers, provided by ECOtality, Inc., at select restaurant locations across Tennessee.

Electric Cars to Reach 20% of U.K. Vehicle Sales by 2016, Grid CEO Says

Electric cars will make up 20 percent of U.K. auto sales by 2016 as drivers take advantage of government subsidies and lower fuel costs, according to National Grid Plc Chief Executive Officer Steve Holliday.

“Our base scenario has a million electric cars on the road in 2020,” Holliday, who runs the U.K.’s power grid, said in an interview in London. This would mean about one in five of all cars sold in the U.K. from 2016 will be electric, he said.

London's latest transit strike hobbles commuters

Commuters forced to take to their cars created traffic jams that nearly paralyzed parts of downtown London as thousands of union workers stayed home. Bewildered tourists wandered subway and railroad stations. And some people trying to get to work gave up in disgust.

"I could take a bus, but it would take me hours," said London resident Shadie Allyn, a telephone operator who spent five hours trying to get to work before deciding she'd had enough. "Everyone depends on the Tube. They shouldn't be allowed to strike. It's ridiculous."

U.S. ethanol production to rise as EPA sets share

(Reuters) - Ethanol sales in the United States are expected to rise to 13.95 billion gallons (54.27 billion liters) in 2011 from 12.95 billion gallons this year, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday.

The agency, in its annual setting of the renewable fuel standard, said ethanol and other renewable fuels must account for at least 8.01 percent of the motor fuels sold in 2011 at U.S. service stations to comply with a federal mandate.

Farmers Find Organic Arsenal to Wage War on Pests

DAVIS, Calif. — Mark Van Horn, director of the student farm at the University of California, is nearly lost as he walks through a yellow cloud of wild sunflowers around the edge of a field of tomatoes and sweet corn.

They aren’t here for their beauty or as a cash crop — they are a key pest control strategy down on the organic farm.

Greenpeace Sues Chemical Makers, Alleging Spy Effort

Contractors working for Dow Chemical and Sasol North America, a chemical manufacturer, hired private investigators to conduct a two-year corporate espionage campaign against the environmental group Greenpeace, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday in federal district court in Washington.

The investigators stole documents from locked trash bins, tapped phones and hacked into computer networks, and operatives posing as activists infiltrated Greenpeace offices and meetings, the suit claims.

Islands See ‘End of History’ as Goals Slip at UN Climate Talks

The Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu risk extinction from rising seas because nations aren’t stepping up commitments to cut greenhouse gases, a bloc of 43 island countries said as United Nations climate talks began in Mexico.

I'm listening to Sec'y Chu who spoke to the Press Club Monday. On C-Span


Some good ideas, some stuff I'd say is unsurprisingly too Pro-coal, etc.. but I'd be curious to hear what others hear that they Agree with in what he says.** He's very eager to find ways to make PV, CCS, EV Batteries and other technologies massively cheaper and encourage the research to get there. He provided a favorite analogy which said that 'Removing Research for a foundering economy is like Removing an Engine to help an overloaded aircraft'.. Of course, what else might be removed from the aircraft instead didn't really get much time.. it was mostly about building better engines.

** (This is just my interest in finding perspectives on 'What's RIGHT with this picture?' .. since we have a lot of self-terminating discussions that get mired in what's WRONG with the picture. ie, 'Paddle Towards the Water flows, not Away from the Rocks'..)

Jo, I understand the desire to find "what is right" with the picture, but not to the point that I will lie to myself just to keep up false hopes that our government will make a serious attempt of transitioning to some sort of Renewable energy/fossil-fueled industrial hybrid economy (I'm not even sure I would say trying to do that is "right" to begin with).

Chu's speech is a couple decades late and many dollars short. And based on our experience the past couple decades we know the distance between the speeches and the actual action can be infinite - too much talk, no walk (except for the soldiers stationed over other-people's oil - they do a lot of walking).

You can bargain with everyone here on TOD, but you cannot bargain with Nature.

"distance between the speeches and the actual action can be infinite - too much talk, no walk"

Yeah, but Doctor, heal thyself, that Gulf is both from the leadership AND the people. We're ALL drunk on oil.. who's ready to sober up first and help continue weaning the others?

Turning it all into Devil's Advocacy (ie, 'Anything we do could be wrong, so lets not..') is just another form of defeatism. Bicker until you die. "Do Nothing" has an air of safety to it, but it's also just what the Saudis want from us, so I'm guessing I'll find some other tack to try.

I don't consider picking some concrete actions as 'Bargaining with Nature'.. some of them probably will have some unintended consequences.. but we don't have to do things blind to the feedback.

Jo, no one said "do nothing...," and "what the saudis want" etc. - those are weak distracting strawmen.

The question is what to do. Chu is talking about what we should have done 10-20 years ago. All of our experience the past few decades - especially the last ten years - tells us this is just more lip service from the current PTB. Propaganda they cannot and will not back up with anything other than token efforts.

You can pick any "concrete action" you want, but you better check to see if it is reasonable, or even possible, with Nature first or you will be wasting your time an resources.

I don't think Dick Cheney checked with Mother Nature first before saying, "The American Way of Life is Non-negotiable."

I believe efforts spent on Local resilience - where we individuals actually might have some control - will be worth more than the effort spent listening to more pie-in-the-sky propaganda speeches by Chu et. al. At least that is likely true for most of us 'little people.'

I think Chu has close to the right attitude and I, too, would like to see something, occasionally, that is good news. It is good news that he has the right priorities; it is bad news that we will have a congress that is all about cutting spending for everything, including innovation and progress in the energy sector.

The U.S. has become the "can't do" nation and is being surpassed mightily by the likes of China. He is correct that we are having a sputnik moment but he has the right message at the wrong time. The U.S. is in decline, which is exacerbated by our bad priorities, especially our defense budget which allows gross overspending, waste, fraud, and abuse. I thought it was just a Bush thing, but Obama has done little, if anything to correct the gross contractor overruns of the Bush years.

In sum, Chu paints the right picture but he will not have the kind of support he needs to make that picture a reality. I am sad to say that I have even less hope for the future than I did a year ago.

The U.S. is in decline and it is not just because of peak oil. It has become completely corrupted by the financial, military industrial complex. Our best and our brightest are not working on solutions for the future, but are still focusing on the latest innovation in financial derivatives.

street, I can agree with everything that you said except ...

Our best and our brightest are not working on solutions for the future, but are still focusing on the latest innovation in financial derivatives.

In my mind, there are a million miles between the sort of work my father's generation did -- putting a man on the moon, for instance -- and the sort of obfuscatory crapola that the current financial industry engages in. The Apollo program had a concrete goal with quantifiable results. Had any part of those moon launches been handled sloppily, the crew would have been lost. No room for error. None.

Contrast that with the financial industry who promise big things, then they walk off with the profits, leaving the "investor" or the taxpayer holding the bag. If these are bright people, they are remarkably underachieving.

You misunderstand their goals. They are very successfully enriching themselves. Investors and taxpayers are their prey.

No, no -- I understand. How often I've remarked to my wife that the whole IRA+401-k thing was just a banquet set for/by the financial industry. You take your fees up front, you make vague promises of future returns then when those funds sink, you shrug your shoulders and mumble something about "no guarantees in life" and slink home to your house in the Hamptons.

What a gig.

it is bad news that we will have a congress that is all about cutting spending for everything, including innovation and progress in the energy sector.

Also bad news that the opposition to Obama was handsomely rewarded in this past election for be obstructionists to anything and everything Obama wanted to do. They aren't even on board for the Start Treaty, which Reagen started. The next two years will be extremely frustrating as gridlock continues unabated. Maybe if a Repub becomes prez and the dems roll over like usual, then something will get done. But they don't stand by global warming or the need for renewables, so at this point it seems like a dead end.

Good comment.

My belief previously was that peak oil didn't have solutions. I now know that I was wrong.

Peak oil has many solutions. Some are better than others.

If your solution is to let the Federal Reserve buy up everything with infinite dollars, and use the world's best military to protect a huge area of remaining reserves in a volatile region of the world, well, yes that works for awhile.

But it's such an inelegant solution. And in the long run, nothing good can come out of it.

I'm ashamed of what America has become, especially given our potential.

And in the long run, nothing good can come out of it.

"In the long run, we are all dead"
--John Maynard Keynes

Most American executives do not see past the next round of bonuses, while most American politicians do not see past the next election. Sadly, there no longer *is* a "long run" in American business or in American government.

Speaking of pictures... check out this fascinating Youtube video posted by PZ Myers of Pharyngula.

Though it may seem OT, this is an animated data plot of the last 200 year history of the world's countries as seen through the prism of life expectancy and overall health in the various countries. It is fascinating to see it even though the conclusions about the future drawn by the author, Hans Rosling, who created the animation are in my opinion unrealistic. Having said that I'd bet that there is a very close correlation between per capita fossil fuel consumption and the life expectancy in all the countries. Because of that alone I think it is worth a look.



There are exceptions like Cuba which has low fossil fuel usage and good life expectancy.

Yes, I agree. However I think that plot extended into the future in a post peak oil world is what is going to be interesting. My guess is that certain countries that are capable of a paradigm shift away from consumer and growth based economies may indeed still be able to maintain reasonably good life expectancies while experiencing contracting income levels. I also think that those countries which maintain non negotiable lifestyles by clinging to BAU may find themselves in a downward spiral resulting in much lower life expectancies. Time will tell.

Hi Jokuhl/Bob,

re: Secretary Chu. You say,

"He's very eager to find ways to make PV, CCS, EV Batteries and other technologies massively cheaper and encourage the research to get there."

I'm glad you're looking for "the flow." At the same time, we need to ask some tough and appropriate questions of our Energy Secretary:

1) Here's the first question: Is there a "there" there?

Dave Cohen critiques Chu's approach here:

2) A deeper question:

Is it the case, as at least two notable people have indicated in public interviews, that Secretary Chu actually understands "peak oil" *and* is deliberately either A) Not dealing with the implications for the American public; and/or B) Withholding information that would make it possible for people to make more informed choices?

That was in 2006, under Bush administration. Has anything changed with the Obama administration ?
It has not changed. I have friends who simply won’t talk about it now. So I have to assume that they are receiving the same kind of instructions.

“(Steven Chu, US Secretary of Energy) was my boss. He knows all about peak oil, but he can't talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can't say anything about it.
-- David Fridley, scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, quoted in an article by Lionel Badal (see Peak Oil News, 10/28, item #23)

3) My question to the Energy Secretary is this:

Do you support an immediate scientific investigation by the National Academy of Sciences into global oil supply, the impacts (of decline) and policy options? If not, why not?


4) I disagree with the assessment of David Fridley, in the sense that it's not necessarily the case that the consequences of an "announcement" would be what he says. Nor is it the case that an announcement has to be made in exactly the terms he states. PO threatens the global economy - not just the US.

Many strategies to deal with PO and our "global problematique" still exist, and can not only be articulated, but put into action.

One immediate - and, IMVHO "no risk" - thing that the Administration can do is to convene the NAS and place the judgment of the gravity of the situation in the hands of an objective third party. (Hopefully objective.)

The general public - (as evidenced by an informal Aniya poll conducted on the bus) - has no idea about the IEA, oil supplies or anything even remotely resembling what I call "the basics." Our fellow TODers talk about local actions. Yet, from what I see, even municipalities have no authoritative statement on which to base actions to help prepare for PO.

Right now, people lack a place to turn for reliable information. (TOD and present company excepted, of course.)

The NAS is the one body set up to provide reliable scientific information to the American public.

Why keep them out of the loop? On purpose?

This is more than Secretary Chu keeping quiet. This is enforcing an edict of silence upon the very bodies who can actually help.


The good news is that there is an Extinction Level Event meteor heading to Earth and it will strike before "the people" learn about Peak Oil. So why upset them with bad news about something that will never happen. Ha ha. [ i.mage.+]

The above is gallows humor of course and not true.
One has to say so in these unfunny times.

The idea that nobody, simply nobody, in government has any inkling about PO, not the President, not the Congress, not the intelligence community, not any of the other agencies including Chu's is simply untenable.

Of course they know --all of them know.

The deeper question is why are they failing to deal with it?

p.s. Putin criticizes and threatens nuke escalation

Thanks Aniya;
Good food for thought. I don't expect the DOE or the POTUS to rock the boat and do anything to sound the alarm unless forced, I guess my request above was to see if there was some constructive conversation that could grow from it, and not just the expected 'Adolescent Cynicism Tournament' that is the height of fashion here presently. I'm not kidding myself that they're doing much that we here would consider 'really helpful', but I'd rather have voices coming back at them opposing the worst of the 'Speed the Decline' choices as possible. Maine just elected a Governor who wants to Drill for Oil right down through our Lobster Traps, and Dam up all the Rivers again.. so I'm straining against a much-lowered bar at this point..

I certainly don't believe in anyone's 'Happy Talk' about renewables or Energy Star somehow saving us from the laws of physics, and yet these tools do still need to be applied, no less than a real warning of the Falls we're heading towards and challenging these levels of present consumption that will clearly make this fall that much deeper.

I think I'd rather try to figure out how to get the 'Comedian Philosophers' on our side now, than hope to get the vested interests willing to face this story.. but I'm still encouraged by the NAS proposal.. I just can't think of how to lob that shot over such high walls..

But I haven't forgotten it.. just mulling over that one like the Ten-Thousand other faces of this beast.


Hi Bob,

Thanks, and of course, I realize you want constructive conversation.

re: "I certainly don't believe in anyone's 'Happy Talk' about renewables or Energy Star somehow saving us from the laws of physics, and yet these tools do still need to be applied..."

The application is what the policy can be directed toward: First, to see what application is possible (the "top-level" analysis I keep bringing up - i.e., the exact thing that is *not* being done).

Second, to take a look at the ways organization of "systems" (water, food, goods) can be changed, to take into account the "machine-food" shortage we (and our machines) are facing.

This does require an acknowledgment of no more growth on the large scale, per se. It seems.

We can stop doing "this" and do "this, instead." We can make the list: the point is: who else can make the list? The NAS? Congress? Who?

There is a fungus among us.

The problem is that we have reached a point where the amount of dollar$ seeking return has reached critical mass.

Only a schlub works for money. A wise person lets their money work for THEM.

It's all down hill from here. We will commoditize everything and everyone, chew them up and spit them out.

There is not enough excess in the system to have such vast sums constantly extracted from it and still survive.

As we speak capital is killing millions. This is not an exaggeration. And this trend will increase exponentially.

Everyone talks about forsaking wealth for happiness while what is happening in the real world is continuation and acceleration of DIEOFF from the bottom rungs of the economic food chain on up.

So either speak out about this issue, end our predatory capitalism system, repudiate, redistribute, re-humanize, or else....

Get rich or get dead.

Localization, transition, self-sufficient, sustainable, organic, bike riding, These are all great moves... down the economic food chain, and are worthless without fundamental restructuring of our entire economic system.

We will not prosper our way to a better world with great returns for all.

Of course most here are well enough off that none of this will register so.....never mind. By the dips!

Given that the side effects of the last fundamental restructuring of entire economic system operations killed the patients after a great deal of pain, I'll stick to incremental messin' about.

"Incremental messin' about" just buys time until the fundamental restructuring of the entire economic system occurs anyway.

I don't know what patients will be killed, nor do I know what might be born of a restructuring.

But the restructuring part is a given and I doubt anyone has much control over how the demolition and restructuring will progress.

I think incremental change is the best path for now - but I am employed

I think everyone *wants* incremental change, because it is what they perceive as least painful for them (least painful for now).

But that does not mean we will get what we want.

At this point incremental change may not be possible anymore. And it might not be the best way forward. Watching our presidents, congresses and our financial system at work I doubt there has been, or will be, any serious attempt at incremental reforms - and I doubt their competence at implementing any real reforms anyway.

At this point incremental change may not be possible anymore. And it might not be the best way forward. Watching our presidents, congresses and our financial system at work I doubt there has been, or will be, any serious attempt at incremental reforms - and I doubt their competence at implementing any real reforms anyway.

As long as governments do not make illegal the private citizen's ability to:
- install solar or wind, or
- use alternatives to cars,
- try to be as self-sufficient as they can

...then I have hope for incremental change.

I will continue to try to do incremental changes that I can, until my time is all used up.

What I do not know, and worry about, is whether things are 'too late'.

It is never "too late."

Some forty-two years ago I asked my flying instructor when it was too late to apply power to abort a bad landing and fly around to try again. In the words of Louis Robinson:

"It is never too late to apply power."

When you screw up a landing your choices are to
1. crash and burn or
2. apply full power and try for another go-around and a better approach.

#2 sounds like the better choice, as long as you have enough fuel :-/

* It is never "too late." *

Come on Don.

Is that what the Captain of the Titanic told his crew right after he told them apply full power and try for another go-around and a better approach.

* It is never "too late." *

That's just an answer.

The real question is what question correctly invokes that answer?

Example: Mr. Titanic Captain sir, is it too late for me to bend over and kiss my assets good bye?

To quote, a Woman I have a great deal of respect for.........Sharon Astyk.

"It's already too late."

Unfortunate that so many here, cannot understand the economics of reality.

Choose wisely.

The Martian

It is not to late to plan to benefit yourself, your family, and your friends.

The problem with the Titanic is that it was going much too fast. At night, in fog, the maximum speed should have been 10 knots. Instead they were going, if memory serves, at full power--maybe 28 knots.

In flying, as in many activities, it is important not to go too slow, because if you do that, you will stall and maybe go into a spin. It is crucial not to go too fast in a dive, because if you do, then your wings fall off.

The U.S. has been going much too fast. The wings are going to fall off. Now it is time to hit the silk (actually, nylon).

The problem with the Titanic is that it was going much too fast. At night, in fog, the maximum speed should have been 10 knots. Instead they were going, if memory serves, at full power--maybe 28 knots.

It was a totally clear night, with almost no wind and a calm sea (very unusual in those parts). One problem was that under normal conditions waves crashing on the iceberg would have made it more visable. Incredibly they only had one key for the cabinet with the binoculars, and it was off the ship, so the lookouts had nothing other than naked eyes. I do agree about the speed. One thing I'd heard a few years back -but I don't know if it has been confirmed or dismissed: They may have had a coal bunker fire, the two ways to solve that are (1) shovel the coal into the boiler fast enough and you can shovel the burning coal into it (outrun the fire), or get to port as fast as possible where it can be dealt with. There may have been a reason to throw caution to the winds (bergs) and go as fast as possible.

The Captain was trying to set a speed record across the Atlantic. That was the problem. He was wrecking the new engines by having them go nonstop at full speed.

You are sure that it was clear? As you say, that is quite unusual for the North Atlantic where the Titanic went down. Also, you do not need binoculars to see a huge ice berg in clear weather, even at night. I question the binocular story.

I question the binocular story.

I question the whole bit. Old history, no relevance. Snooze.

A new book by the grandaughter of the Second Officer on the Titanic says that the real mistake was that the helmsman panicked and turned the wrong direction when the iceberg was sighted. This information was suppressed because the company and crew didn't want to admit liability - they could have easily avoided the iceberg if they had turned the right direction. She felt, however, that since her grandfather was long dead it was time to admit the truth.

She also said the Titanic would have taken much longer to sink if they had simply stopped the engines and come to a halt to await rescue - which would probably have arrived in time to take the passengers off. As it was, they continued at full speed, which filled the "watertight" bow compartments with water, and caused the Titanic to go down very rapidly.

I flat-out reject the story that the helmsman turned the wheel the wrong way; it makes no sense at all. Anyone at the wheel of the pride of the Cunard line would be a man with many years of experience on steam ships. Also, I've sailed on c. 1890 windjammers. It is very easy to make the transition from sailing ships to steam ships--no more difficult than making a transition from stick shift to automatic transmission in driving a car.

People write books to earn royalties; truth is a secondary or tertiary consideration in writing for a mass market.

There apparently was considerable controversy at the time over whether the helmsman, Robert Hichens, had turned the wrong direction or not. He vociferously denied it, but some of the crew thought he had.

He was also severely criticized for rowing a lifeboat away from the ship when it was less than half full of survivors.

He later became an unemployed alcoholic and served five years in prison for attempted murder when he tried to kill someone in a dispute over a boat.

People write books to earn royalties; truth is a secondary or tertiary consideration in writing for a mass market

His great-grandaughter's book will come out next year - a rebuttal to the second officer's granddaughter's book. Feel free to read both.

Some of the most useless things to an aviator:

- Runway behind me
- Altitude above me
- Airspeed I don't have
- Fuel I left back at the takeoff base

TOGA! (Take-Off/Go-Around [thrust])(airliner-speak)

"Go-Around" (AF-speak...pilots are schooled through Cockpit Resource Management training to honor these words when spoken by any member of the crew...)

You might not believe that we are still landing very expensive jets on the runway without putting down the fricking landing gear! Even with two pilots, two navigators, all with checklists to follow using challenge and response, RAPCON asking the crew for confirmation of 'wheels down', and an aircrew member Supervisor of Flying in the tower with the huge 'Battleship' style binoculars who is supposed to visually confirm the darn gear is down!

Honestly, the biggest problems I have with flying in an airliner are:

1) I no longer have headphones and cannot hear what is going on with the pilots and ARTCC etc.

2) I don't have my ejection seat...so I get to ride it in with everyone else.

At some point our voluntarily actions will become mandatory - this will keep us ahead mentally

Hi Mr. Flash:

"As long as governments do not..."

What if the markets interfere with solar and other alternatives. I'm more concerned about the collapse of our dysfunctional global markets than the government making anything illegal.

"What I do not know, and worry about, is whether things are 'too late'."

It might be a good idea to consider whether it is "too late" for some projects - individual, local, national or international.

For some projects it may indeed be too late and it would be better to cut losses than continue the malinvestment.

You are describing the mass illusion that money is wealth perpetuated by the scions of wall street and the media, primarily embodied in channels like CNBC.

Pretty powerful illusion thats able to kill so many.

I believe you are the one under the illusion that money is benign and just a means of transaction.

Right now the top 10% are getting much more money than ever when the bottom 80% get less and less and this has nothing what so ever to do with work ethics, capability, or intelligence.

I'm not saying it's not fair, which it isn't but that it's immoral and inhumane and I for one am not ok with it.

A great animated review of capitalism such as it is;

"The Crisis of Capitalism"


Not sure how you got the idea I thought money was benign. People have been proclaiming the crisis of capitalism for decades but finally I think that capitalism is truly eating itself. And there is no one on the horizon who will do what is necessary to save it from itself. What it will be replaced with, I don't know. I don't think it will be communism but it may be some kind of state run capitalism like exists in China. China seems to be able to "get 'er done". I question their priorities but they do seem able to put the pedal to the metal.

eeyores enigma:
Part of the problem is population and globalization.

In a world of 7 billion people, all moving about, and where corporations are given free rein to go anywhere, it's not surprising that labor has zero bargaining power.

The only solution is to close off the borders, encourage population stabilization, and regulate corporations including requirements for domestic labor employment. That's the only way.

It has nothing to do with capitalism. It has to do with national sovereignty. Either a nation cares about the employment of its people, or it doesn't.

The socialist solution, "redistribute the wealth," doesn't work, because that doesn't create any new wealth. Example: food stamps and unemployment insurance.

If you look closely, you can see the new battle lines forming, already happening in Europe. Either the nations stay together, or the big banks and corporations do what they want. Can't have both.

Isolationism doesn't exactly have a good track record. The world has a way of barging in. c.f. Commodore Perry.

Yes Globalism stinks but it's better than the alternatives.

So if you don't accept tens of millions of new people into your country, and you don't want your nation to have 1 billion people in it, you are isolationist?

If this is the case, the banks and corporations have won. Nationhood is...isolationism!

Globalization and comparative advantage sounds all well and good at first...but, at the end of the day, the U.S. suffers by out-sourcing too many of its jobs...sure, we get 'always low, low prices', but after a certain point we stare down the barrel of not having enough jobs for our people...if people don't have jobs, how do they have money to buy all this imported stuff?

We were sold a bill of goods:

Oh, don't worry about losing all those dreary jobs making things...that is soooo developing country drudgery...

Our people will more than make up for those dreary manufacturing jobs by taking jobs as designers, innovators, marketers, export/import managers, service inductry workers, finance, investment, real estate value-chain workers,lawyers, and even workers in the burgeoning health care industry!

And huge wealth generated for the creme de la creme will 'trickle down' to the rest.

"A rising tide lifts all yachts"...heard this gem on the radio today...

"A rising tide lifts all yachts"

LOL --good one

"A rising tide lifts all yachts"

I like that. I can relate to it. You always want to stay on the leading edge of the market where the most money is to be made. And where my yacht is docked there is a 20-foot tidal range so you need to be prepared for that, too.

The guy across the dock from my yacht had a satellite dish up on the pier, and was developing a video-on-demand system for the Chinese market. The satellite dish gave him a direct high-speed link to his clients in Beijing. He lives on his yacht. It's cramped, but he likes the lifestyle.

One of my partners in the yacht was developing an educational software system for a company in India. However, during his annual "give me more money or I'll retire" negotiations, they decided that he wanted too much more money, so he retired and now has time (and money) to go sailing.

And, of course I've made enough enough money from consulting for Chinese-controlled companies that I have retired, too. I could talk about my nephews and their own "make enough money from the Chinese to afford your own yacht" ventures, but I've probably made enough people upset, so I'll stop here.

Yeah, keep gloating. It's really awesome!

Watch out for icebergs, though.

If you want to see a great example of the great American propaganda scam in action, look no further:


I hear these 'Rich Dad' program commercials on the radio every day now in ABQ:

A mealy-mouthed wimpy man voice: "I am hoping to go back to school and get a better job and save enough money for a rainy day"

Big Booming Manly voice: "I have the skills and confidence to make my money work for me, regardless of my employment situation!"

And so on, and so forth...

After all that has happened, and all that is happening, hucksters are still pitching the 'get rich quick by playing the stock and real estate markets' pied piper song to all the Ralph Kramdens and Fred Flintstones out there gullible enough to pay the fees to these charlatans to get their seat at the rick folks' table...or so they think...

The only more amazing radio commercial I have heard lately is for the National Guard: "just one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer" and you too can get up to four years of college benefits...no mention of the almost guaranteed tour in Iraq and/or the Stan within a year or two after hitching up...

There is a special level of Hades reserved for the many scoundrel marketers...

There is a special level of Hades reserved for the many scoundrel marketers.

IOW. Given the perfidity of so much of the species, I think the saying "I'll hope there is a heaven and pray there is no hell" got it backwards. I'd sure like there to be a hell to send all the deserving badguys to.

In the Older Testament (Hebrew Bible), there is no Hell.

Instead people who felt they were wronged would "curse" one another (in Yiddish of course) and hope that the curse would take root.

Example of Yiddish curses: May all your teeth fall out except one and that one should be with a toothache.

That's one of my favorites. Another is "May you marry the daughter of the Angel of Death."

The Rich Dad isn't as bad as some. I read his first book. He does seem to have some understanding of limits (unlike many of these financial types).

And he is peak oil aware.

In other words, it will not be 1973-1974, or stagflation, all over again. I believe it will be the end of civilization as we know it -- and possibly the birth of a brave new world.

As my greatest teacher, Dr. Buckminister Fuller, said to my class in 1982, "Humanity will soon have to choose between utopia or oblivion.... Do we work only for ourselves or for our planet?"

Hi ee,

re: "Localization, transition, self-sufficient, sustainable, organic, bike riding, These are all great moves... down the economic food chain, and are worthless without fundamental restructuring of our entire economic system."

Could you possibly expand upon and fill in some specifics on steps you'd take toward the fundamental restructuring you speak about here?

(BTW, Serious and sincere question.)

"Could you possibly expand upon and fill in some specifics on steps you'd take toward the fundamental restructuring you speak about here?"

Thats a big job. It would have to be a system that constantly acknowledges and addressed our inherent greediness, some say rapaciousness, keeping it in check.

I think that a combination of socialism and capitalism is possible SOCIALCAPITALISM where it is not possible to raise ones position on the economic ladder without raising everyone too. The Economic Escalator. Extreme wealth would be considered grotesque and spurned.

Above all else we can never allow any private entity to control the monetary system.

I put up a guest post by Dr. Gary Peters called Population, Food Supplies, and the Big Unasked Question on my blog Our Finite World. I will probably be running some posts that previously would have been posted at The Oil Drum.

There are various choices of comment settings on my blog. I believe I have pretty much open commenting set up right now.

Thanks Gail. Greer's quote is spot on IMHO:

I certainly agree that a voluntary reduction in population, now, would help a great deal. I’m sorry to say I don’t think that’s likely to happen, but then those four guys on horses are saddling up as we speak; it’s probably too late, even if people were willing, to overcome the demographic momentum in time to make a difference.

As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest the global village - with its rainbow of cultures - would try to work together to control population, let alone be able to actually do it (e.g. look at the countries that reward births...).

So our population will be reduced the same way all populations are reduced - the natural way, as Greer notes above.

Yep, all those massive famines during the 20th century in China (see Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth" for a literary account of one) sure worked wonders reducing the Chinese population growth curve. War and disease were equally effective. Which is to say, not at all. The equasion is simple: older sister dies young, younger sister has two to three times as many children as she would have had otherwise.

For decades birth rates have been declining. By rational choice. Social complexity, and the higher costs of childrearing it entails, including opportunity costs, reveals itself as the most effective means to reduce populations. Though, in the short run, increased social complexity (water, sewer, public health, etc) results in higher populations as lifespans increase. That short run is over and finished for increasing numbers of countries, and not just the wealthiest.

Current solar based energy systems strike me as very positive on the population decline front, as their production, deployment and maintenance require a good deal of skilled labour.

Toil, you might be able to fool yourself into believing war, disease and starvation will not be effective at cutting the human population, but biology and history might disagree - especially when it comes to culling a population bubble/overshoot (also, find someone else to argue your strawman red herring about the effect of 20th century famines on population growth during the fossil fueled-global growth spasm).

As for reducing births as "the most effective means to reduce populations," - what happend in the industrial nations for the past century of material excess might not be a good model for the post-industrial world, where conditions might be more like the pre-fossil fuel bonanza. Family size and the potential contribution of child labor might be valued differently in our near future (note that higher mortality rates among newborns and young children, if Disease and Famine are riding high in the saddle, might also spur more bab ymaking).

Current Solar-based energy systems strike me as an expensive manifestation of our desperation to maintain this industrial lifestyle for a very small minority of people who might be able to afford it in the future.

"The Depression changed the family in dramatic ways. Many couples delayed marriage - the divorce rate dropped sharply (it was too expensive to pay the legal fees and support two households); and birth rates dropped below the replacement level for the first time in American history."

Yes, poverty can work both ways on birth rates - especially after the shock in the years of a Depression.

My point was that in many parts of the non-industrial world (past and present)larger families can be considered beneficial and that we should not necessarily project the behavior of the industrial peoples during their period of wealth onto their descendants who will not have that level of wealth and privilage.

History doesn't agree with you and Greer and the rest of the faithful. That's the point. Work from evidence, without prejudice.

Toil, look beyond the last 200 years of history. Include all the evidence, not just what you want to hear.

As noted, an increase in death rates will often result in an increase in birth rates. This is obvious if you accept the idea that we exist to propagate our genetics and our actions are means to this end. However, increased birth rates will not necessarily result in increased population if the average lifespan drops.


Roger that.

That gets back to the original bone of contention - that history and biology say the human population will likely decline due to higher mortality rates (i.e. death rate) because the 4 Horsemen (Greer's comment) Will Ride during the decline towards a post-fossil-fueled, non-industrial global world.

Another bone of contention:

People seem not to make the distinction between the fate of humanity, vs. the fate of civilization, vs. the fate of "our civilization".

Lots and lots of confusion around this.

I think that humans will be hanging out with the last rats and cockroaches.

Biology, evolution, doesn't care if it gets ugly. Survival of humanity is not at all the same thing as survival of 2010 western capitalist industrial culture.

But people conflate "humanity" with their particular social arrangement all the time.

That's a very good point - the demise of the current system is not the end of humanity. I think the perceptions people have of collapse determine their ability to accept it.

Imagine a graph with a Y-axis showing percent of the population and the X-axis time. Plot the distribution of hunter-gatherer, agriculture, pastoral, and industrial populations starting about 50,000 years ago.

The Percentage of Industrial Peoples rose the past 200 years but that category might start declining now, and the percentages of the other three categories might start climbing.

There are many ways to live.

Sgage, thank you for getting this! From the perspective of ten thousand years from now, our civilization will likely be nothing more than one more roadbump along humanity's journey, though it'll be a noticeable one -- convenient for future archeologists, since we like making our ruins really, really big.

I have no worries for the survival of humanity; we're one of nature's supreme generalists, right up there with rats and cockroaches, and will probably be able to cope with just about any mess we can create. I have few worries for the survival of civilization; the human ecologies that can support urban centers are still in the working-the-bugs out stage, being only about 6000 years old, but they've gotten pretty resilient and are probably around for the very long term. Our civilization is headed down the familiar road to history's dumpster, granted, but that's a normal process, even if most people nowadays don't recognize that.

What time trajectory in terms of human population figures (say % decline in population) do you expect for:
(a) a well developed country like USA
(b) a developing country like China
(c) a poorly developed country like an average African nation

Are the current declines in population growth from 1.4% to 1.2% (comparing the last two decades) indicating that this decline is setting in already?

Keep in mind that pop growth rates are based on birth and death rates. The former have been going steadily down while the latter seems to have just started to go up this year, perhaps reversing a 500 or so year trend--and this expected reversal seems to have come 25-30 years earlier than expected.

IF we could greatly accelerate the universal education of women (the best non-coercive way to lower birth rates and increase delay of age of first birth--just as important), and

IF death rates continue to increase, and do so at an accelerating rate (likely, imho, given the multiple predicaments we face),

THEN birth rates could conceivably fall below death rates within a decade or so.

But if we are going to re-ruralize, as Astyk suggests, we may be going back to larger families if history is any guide.

For example my ancestors in the first-half of the 19thC, mostly landless but literate farm laborers in rural S England, responded to the new-organic agriculture and the parallel developments in coal / industry, by raising 7 to 9 children. By the end of the century though the number of children per woman was dropping rapidly and we were populating the new service industries round London.

Here is a different scene (from an unpublished 2004 essay that refers to Bangladesh), which suggests that simple elementary schooling, which was my female ancestors' experience, is not enough:

... ‘Planning’ is not the hunter-gatherer way, (their decision taking is more complex according to Brody), but mathematical simulation can help with our complexity. In 1984 a prescient paper [ref.] suggested non-economic societal reforms in Bangladesh. A systems dynamics simulation study of the interaction of various social subsystems addressed integrated planning concerns. Study results indicated that policies, importantly societal reforms, could decrease the population growth rate to year 2002: (1) reducing the school dropout rate for females and (2) expanding the educational infrastructure. (3) Increasing adult educational opportunities for females, (4) raising the legal marriage age, (5) increasing family planning and health services. (6) Expanding job opportunities for women, (7) promoting the development of labour intensive production, and (8) increasing food production. Twenty years later in 2004, Bangladesh is important for all our perceptions. Bangladesh has one of the higher population densities in the world and higher agricultural to urban employment ratios than the regional average, but crude birth rate and births per woman have reduced markedly and are lower than the regional average. Female participation in education has increased markedly and is close to the regional average. Maternal and infant mortality remain high. Further focus on women’s empowerment and reproductive health, aims to stabilise population by 2060 at 216 million (currently around 130 million).( i) More gender parity and women’s education really is a new world.
Refers to (accessed 2004) Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) E-17 Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh. Further focus on women’s empowerment and reproductive health and population projections are at www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-19 12:58:37

Thanks for the info and the link. The one that was new to me was increasing the legal marriage age. I suppose this works best in a very traditional society where there are still strong tabus against out-of-wedlock childbearing.

What most people overlook is that a policy that successfully convinces women to postpone childbirth can have immediate effects on reducing birth rates and if continued for generations can dramatically bring down population levels and raise the quality of life for the kids that are raised.

If women regularly have their first child at 30 there would be half as many people than if they have them at 15. And of course the number of further kids they can have in the first scenario is greatly reduced compared to the second.

Giving women something else to do, whether it is education or employment or both, than have babies is key, plus of course giving them the power to make these choices, have adequate health care and control their own reproductive lives.

Unfortunately, in the US, raising the legal marriage age wouldn't do much, since our out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy rates are so high (though, last I checked, they had fallen a bit).

we're one of nature's supreme generalists, right up there with rats and cockroaches, and will probably be able to cope with just about any mess we can create

Shirley you can't be serious?

Have you heard about this new fangled thing the humans created, the bomb?

In the UK the Archaeologists on almost any dig are guaranteed to find artefacts from two periods - Roman and Victorian. The period immediately after the Romans (500 - 1000 AD) you are extremely lucky to find anything more than a single shard of crude pottery or a stain in the earth were a wooden post once stood.

People did not disappear, but they were forced to live within the sustainable constraints of the land. Almost all learning and technology was lost that did not involve plant and animal remains, wood, leather, or clay. Iron became a very rare commodity.

Buildings were no bigger or more advanced than could be built from scratch by a handful of adults in a few weeks.

Two hundred years before, Roman housewives were writing each other letters about what trinkets to buy for their daughters' birthday parties. We have found the letters in the mud.

Indeed, but people generally weren't necessarily much less well fed after the fall of the Roman Empire than before. There was definitely more anarchy, but also no organized systems of taxation.

The problem is that humans weren't sophisticated enough to gather all the "evidence" before the fossil fuel age. If they were, they would have found that war, disease, and famine were quite effective at controlling population growth. Malthus and Darwin understood this, even though they didn't have the numbers.

Now, we have the numbers, and, guess what? We've been expanding exponentially, producing and burning a large amount of fossil fuels, and rapidly changing the Earth's ecosystems. In other words, an absolute, guaranteed set up for a crash.

Ironic. We got smart, and realized we're stupid.

The problem is that humans weren't sophisticated enough to gather all the "evidence" before the fossil fuel age.

Even if they had, it took almost 200 years of exponential growth to smash into the limits. I think their planning horizon would have been less than a hundred yera, and their motto "our great great grandchildren will be smart enough to fix it".

We got smart, and realized we're stupid.

That's a keeper for my wisdoms pile.

Some people think that the search for truth and wisdom will lead them to a happy place.
But as the other saying goes: Be careful what you wish for, you may not like it once you get it.

[ i.mage.+]

Toil, one anecdotal example backed up by quoting a work of fiction, for heaven's sake, makes great rhetoric but poor logic. Especially when you've cherry-picked the example from the early 20th century -- that is, right when petroleum was entering the energy mix and sending energy per capita measurements globally through the roof. We probably could have had a full-scale plague pandemic then (actually, we very nearly did) and it would have had minimal impact on population, because of the sheer impact of soaring energy availability on carrying capacity.

Take a wider look at history, and you'll find that human populations -- when not distorted by huge drawdowns of cheap but nonrenewable energy -- cycle up and down like most other animal populations. Some variation comes from changes in the rate of live birth, but much more comes from the raw death rate, which -- again, outside of recent and wildly atypical times -- is powerfully influenced by the prevalence of war, famine, and pestilence. (That other guy on horseback might as well represent the background rate of death from other causes.)

As William Catton showed quite a while ago in Overshoot, humanity has unwisely used the short-term bonanza of fossil fuels to breed to numbers that can't be supported by renewable sources. That means that one way or another, the world's population is going to contract. Half a century of advocacy for voluntary population control has had no noticeable effect. That leaves the field to natural processes -- that is, those four guys on the horses again. It's a standard phenomenon in the declining years of every other civilization that's overshot its resource base, and it's sheer wishful thinking to insist that things have to be different for us.

Especially when you've cherry-picked the example from the early 20th century -- that is, right when petroleum was entering the energy mix and sending energy per capita measurements globally through the roof. We probably could have had a full-scale plague pandemic then (actually, we very nearly did) and it would have had minimal impact on population, because of the sheer impact of soaring energy availability on carrying capacity.

You can actually watch the plague unfold in real time on Hans Rosling's animated data plot at the link I provide here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7169#comment-747894

Readers in the know I think will recognize it as the story of humanity winning the lottery of accessing cheap fossil fuel.

Unfortunately I find myself in total disagreement with the author's conclusions, at least in the short term (200 year horizon).

To me BTW, this raises an interesting question, how is it possible the so many highly intelligent people with access to real data and knowledge can be so completely oblivious to the simple realization that resource limits must by definition collide head on with continued population growth, therefore resulting in a major crash.

The best explanation of why this particular kind of fallacy in thinking occurs, that I have been able to find, is here: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kahneman07/kahneman07_index.html

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

Thanks, Gail, for letting us know about this.

In the news today: In an interview with Forbes, WikiLeaks founder plans
info releases on the corporate "ecosystem of corruption" -- to include
oil companies evidently. Here's a quote from the article:

"Does Assange have unpublished, damaging documents on pharmaceutical companies? Yes, he says. Finance? Yes, many more than the single bank scandal we’ve been discussing. Energy? Plenty, on everything from BP to an Albanian oil firm that he says attempted to sabotage its competitors’ wells."

link: http://tinyurl.com/3xj5ca2

This should be fascinating. I fully expect the man to be murdered sooner
or later. I read somewhere that Equador has offered sanctuary to him.

Murder? Unlikely.

Assassination made to look like a random crime, or natural causes? Likely.

yea just by announcing this he will be dead before the end of the year. till now he has just been crushing people's egos. now he is threatening people's bank accounts, powerful people, people with connections. sure it will be murder but they will make it look like a suicide or accident, especially if it's the cia. 50 years of practice of doing this sort of thing makes me think he won't last long.

and as a side note, not to long after this article came up interpol now has him on their wanted list for sex crimes of course.

from a laymans perspective i think his best chance would be to try to stay literally in the public spot light.

Interesting. Turkish president top in polls so far, for his Israel rebuke.

Of course, there's no chance the magazine's Jewish establishment lets him win.

Or maybe they will, just to throw a bone out to the hungry dogs?

the fact that it seems he is being beaten by lady gaga makes me think very poorly of time magazine for any sort of actual news..


The top story concerning UK winter gas storage [repeated every year] points out that the bidirectional 'interconnector' gas pipe UK to Belgium [foreign owned, naturally for the UK..] usually exports UK gas even when we are low because Europe outbids the UK in this Freidmanite world. This therefore means that if the Pound was lowered versus the Euro, they could just buy all our gas!

"Could Britain's gas stocks run out this winter?"

Probably not. We will just about squeak past the post into spring without running out but there will be several contract-imposed 'service interruptions' for industrial customers.

The question which needs answering is "How many years until there is a gap in supply to domestic customers and/or electrical generation"

I believe I am right in saying that the UK government's 'plan' (if one dares grace it with that term) is that by 2020 60%+ of all electricity will be gas-generated. And of that, almost half of the gas will be imported - a lot by LNG shipped in from Qatar (that stable democracy!) and Trinidad.

In the decade until 2020 there will be at least another three million souls inhabiting these Islands, based on 2009's net immigration figures. Despite what the government says, they have no hope of stemming the flow of EU-legal immigration. All these people will want to be nice and toasty in the winter too, and cook their food and use electricity. Even if there started tomorrow a massive, radical insulation and efficiency drive the effects would probably barely cover the expected increase in demand.

Sometime in the next decade Britain will be in trouble. Never mind the fact that all our growing purchases of external fuels is doing very nasty things to our balance of payments. Britain is a basket case, and anyone who believes otherwise has his head in the sand.

We are thinking on the same lines. As the UK balance of trade worsens as NSea gas/oil dwindles and the pound exchange value decreases, Europe can simply bid more for our gas - even if we have shipped it from Qatar.

That would be crazy. Surely the idiots in charge have realised that? We buy a ship load of LNG, unfreeze it in Wales, pump it into the pipes and storage. Then a trader in Europe looks at his screen and spots we have a 'surplus' and buys it from us. Before the LNG ship has left port the (fungible) gas has fled the country out of the interconnector at Bacton.

Great system! That should not only keep us warm in winter but also keep the gas bills down! Not.


How long would it take to build a new interconnector?

How hard would it be for a pissed-off, yet enterprising and virgin-loving, young chap from Bradford to pack a small aircraft full of explosives and fly it into the interconnector?

Hey! I had that idea three years ago! It's mine! Except I'm not from Bradford, haven't got an aircraft, not young and happily married. At least I'm pissed off ;/

HACland, I'm afraid you're wrong. It's not true that by 2020 almost half our gas will be imported. Actually, we'll reach the 50% import level well before 2020.

If you look at recent statistics, available from http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/source/gas/gas.aspx, net imports work out like this:
2004 1%
2005 7%
2006 10%
2007 20%
2008 26%
2009 31%

This rising trend will continue until such time as the UK runs out of money &/or Norway, Qatar & Russia run out of gas to export. Except around 2014/2015 when you may see a brief rebound in domestic gas production.

China 2011 net coal imports to surge 63 pct -Citi

China's net coal imports are expected to jump a staggering 63 percent to more than 200 million tonnes in 2011, Citigroup said on Tuesday, as domestic output struggles to keep pace with blazing demand.

Booming demand from power, steel and cement producers will boost China's domestic coal demand by 7.3 percent next year from a year ago, while supplies will increase by only 4.8 percent to 3.38 billion tonnes, Citigroup said.

Does anyone know how China buys coal? Is there a spot market they are using or are they negotiating individual contracts with coal mines.

Hi bio,

I just re-read the article I linked to


and it didn't specify, though it sounds like the US market is fairly open to all bidders.

If you research this, perhaps you can report back to us. My guess is that China does both - (initiates contracts where there are contracts to be initiated).

I'll be very interested to see where China finds that new coal to import. The current exporters are pretty much at full production, and an increase of 77 million tonnes is 9% of total seaborne coal trade and 13% of all coal trade in the Pacific (trade figures from World Coal Institute). To put this increase into perspective, it would require 77 new mines with the production planned for the Pike River mine in New Zealand, which is now shut down indefinitely.

So if this increase in Chinese coal imports actually occurs, most of it has to come at the expense of other importers. Japan?

Of course, we are seeing similar dynamics in the oil markets:


Under Scenario #2, global net oil exports in 2015 would be down by 14% from the 2005 level, while the volume of “available” net oil exports, i.e., the volume of net exports not consumed by Chindia, declined by 33% from 2005 to 2015, from 40.8 mbpd to 27.4 mbpd.

To summarize Scenario #2, if we extrapolate the 2005 to 2009 rate of increase in consumption by the exporting countries out to 2015 and if we extrapolate Chindia’s 2005 to 2009 rate of increase in net oil imports out to 2015, and if we assume a slight production decline among the exporting countries (0.5%/year from 2005 to 2015), then for every three barrels of oil that non-Chindia countries (net) imported in 2005, they would have to make do with two barrels of oil in 2015.

Any opinion on where oil prices are going, say, under Scenario # 2? I'm thinking we may see a oil price spike - but the subsequent recession might mean wild price fluctuations.

I think that the progression in annual year over year price declines--from $14 in 1998, to $26 in 2001, to $62 in 2009--is interesting. If the pattern holds, the next year over year annual oil price decline would bring prices down to the $120 range. We shall see what happens.

Do you have a prediction for the "high" in oil prices in 2011?

My prediction is for a high of $120 per barrel, based on declining economic growth rates in China, India, and the U.S.

GDP growth (or lack of growth) drives demand for oil. China is about to go bust due to vastly overinflated real-estate prices. India is overdue for a slowdown. I cannot imagine that in 2011 U.S. real GDP growth will be over 2%, and it may be considerably lower than that. In other words, I think we are looking at global depression--and probably sooner rather than later.

Why don't you think that will depress, rather than raise, oil prices?

I think a rise in price of oil to $120 per barrel will cause a global depression. Even at $100 for oil there will be little growth in the global economy.

Provided you think China is not in a bubble that is close to being popped:




High inflation coincident with apparent malinvestment is a sure sign of a blowing bubble. When it pops energy consumption (and investment) is likely to drop.


Hi Pollux,

re: Imports from US:
Check out these numbers (Year 2009 to current):

Last year, the United States exported only 2,714 tons of coal to China, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Yet that figure soared to 2.9 million tons in the first six months of this year alone — huge growth, though still a minuscule fraction of China’s coal imports.

"Societe Generale Raises 2011 Brent Oil Forecast 9.4% to $93.10 a Barrel"

Ok guys, what would you do to heat this house in the light of current oil price trends (not to mention climate change)? If you guys are right then it wont be long before heating oil becomes prohibitively expensive and $93.10 crude will be a fond memory.

I'm in the UK and heated by oil CH (newish reliable boiler 85% efficient) with 13 radiators connected by microbore pipes, but produce maybe 40% of heat from a standalone woodburner (also 85% efficient). 2 storey house has concrete ground floor but has cavity wall insulation, topped up loft insulation 270mm, double glazing throughout and thermal lined curtains that can be sealed to prevent a convection loop. Oil usage is now 1500 litres pa, and I'll also get through 6-7 cu metres of seasoned wood. I've no room for a biomass boiler, underfloor heating or GSHP and have discounted solar thermal as ineffective when needed in winter. Rural location so no mains gas and LPG would not qualify for RHI.

Shortly the UK govt will announce details of the Renewable Heat Incentive and applicable options appear to be:
1) ASHP high temp air to water system (likely to qualify for RHI)
2) Convert oil boiler to burn oil with 30% FAME content (may qualify for RHI)
3) Use several air to air ASHPs with better COP (unlikely to qualify for RHI)
4) Stay with existing set up which has a large sunk capital investment and avoid unreliable new technology (will not qualify)
5) Move house

At present I'm angling towards 4 or 2 for a variety of reasons but am I ignoring any technology out there, eg I havent seen a domestic anaerobic digester?


And not just house.

Get out while you still can. Go somewhere else, like Australia. At least then you can remain warm all year around and laugh at their cricket team ;)

I've a strange feeling that Australia is going to get even warmer in the not to distant future and suffer water shortage and crop failures.

But you illustrate a key point well, will the grass be any greener elsewhere, or should we try to make what we've got work better?

And the 'agenda 21 sucks' type people are complaining:

As a means of mitigating climate change, encouraging sustainability and reducing CO2 emissions, the document calls for, “the implementation of relocation programs for human settlements and infrastructure in high risk areas.”

(Meanwhile the DEA types raided the tomato plants at a school thinking they were pot plants - in case you woke up today and thought "there will be sanity")

There's a way to cut waste. Cut free all those ridiculous DEA jobs. What a bunch of worthlessness they are.

I found the DEA raid article.

Good freakin' Lord we are screwed up.



Your Federal Tax dollars at work. Keeping the kiddie school gardens safe ;-)

Best quote though:

"We're sitting here as a teaching staff, always short on money, and we're thinking, 'Gosh, all the money it takes to fly that helicopter and hire all those people, it would be great to have this for education.' "

I've a strange feeling that Australia is going to get even warmer in the not to distant future and suffer water shortage and crop failures.

Maybe, but what sort of state do you think the UK will be in by then? At least we (Aussies) will have LNG exports coming out of our derrieres pretty soon.

And what's that thing HACland is on about, something called cricket? Must be some game that Australia used to play once :)


Britain will probably end up running out of NG this winter, but all that really matters is who is designing Kate's dress!? Its funny how the media just sucks that crap right up while the peasants freeze to death watching the royal wedding on TV.

4) Stay where you are, but change the concept. Forget about heating the whole house. Create a nice small warm corner, as in the good old days (called kitchen).

interesting concept, but what if the kid-the-younger wants to play his X-box in his room after school, kid-the-elder wants to ahem 'entertain' his girlfriend in his room after college and the missus wants to hold an Avon party in the sitting room.

Modern lifestyles/expectations wouldn't easily adapt to a 'one warm room' model.

I think that in this particular version of the future, the kid gets to choose between X-box and warm feet, the elder will have warm feet anyway, and Avon will be long out of business. Exit modern lifestyle.

If kid-the-elder needs a heated room, he needs counselling.

If kid-the-younger wants to play X-box after school, the parents need counselling.

If the missus wants to hold an Avon party -- wait a minute, I thought we were talking about modern lifestyles. Whose missus gets home from work and wants to hold an Avon party?

Modern lifestyles/expectations wouldn't easily adapt to a 'one warm room' model.

And yet hours of Japanese sitcoms are jokes about having a full bladder yet not wanting to leave the warm table/room.

(I've pitched radiant floor heating using hot water evacuated glass tubes as a solution.)

Good point, though already part way down that route with one room heated to comfort level, the rest a few degrees C lower (but see edit). May well be that central heating is a casualty of higher energy costs and we go back to seeing ice on the inside of bedroom windows in the winter

Edit: Hacland, with a son with an Xbox in his bedroom, thats the other room well heated. Somehow I dont see the return of Victorian style family entertainment around the piano.

If you are seeing ice on the inside of bedroom windows, then you need to upgrade your windows. If you can't afford expensive replacement windows with Low-Ecoatings, inert gas fill, etc., then you can go with indoor storm windows.

Any good handyman should be able to make some for you. A simple wooden frame, heat shrink plastic on both sides, and foam weather stripping all around the edges. This will cut your heat loss through windows by half, or more, depending on what the old windows are like.

When the bedroom temperatures approach freezing, frost will form on the inside of the windows no matter how good they are. My bedroom had a window on the east wall, and the rising sun made very pretty displays shining through the frost.

Sorry to disagree with you, but I speak from experience. Night time temperatures here in Maine routinely drop to near zero degrees F in mid winter, which is well below freezing, and I didn't have frost on any windows last winter.

Poor windows and heavy curtains in a cold house makes for frost, in my experience growing-up. Decent windows and light curtains in a warm house makes for no frost - current house.

Never tried good windows and good curtains at once with a warm house -- that's my next goal. Hopefully won't have to try it with a cold house anytime soon.

The warmer the house is inside, the warmer it is outdoors, the better the insulation from the outdoors, and lower the insulation from the indoors, the less likely you'll be to have frost. Just draw a diagram with the source temp of indoor ambient, a sink temp of outdoor ambient, and thermal impedances and moisture boundaries. If a location inside the moisture boundary gets cold enough, you'll get frost.

My mother liked to tell the story about growing up in Iowa in the 1920's. The pot belly stove in the kitchen wouldn't hold a fire over night...the water bucket next to the stove would be frozen the next morning. She also woke up with snow on her blanket, blown under the cracks in the siding. She lived to 94. Maybe we are too used to comfort!

And my mom keeps telling me that in the year I was born (1963) she had a frozen rose next to the bed for 3 months in a row (this was in the Netherlands). Just shows that enough blankets will do just fine.

Previously, people mainly were concerned to keep the kitchen and bathroom warm enough to prevent the pipes from freezing. Heating the whole house with a central furnace was not the norm for the majority until after WW II.

We do the one wood heated room right now. Granted, it seldom falls below -5 on the west coast BC, however, 2 years ago we had snow on the ground for 5 months with a low of -17 for a week or so.

The one room is hot, and the bathroom, kitchen, and dining area is very comfortable.

It is fine. Last night we arrived home from work in a sleeting sou'easter...power out. The banked woodstove was flashed up and stocked with the house warming up quite nicely in 1/2 hour. I cooked supper on a salvaged gas range we keep outside for days like this...after making the hot toddies for my wife and I. We mentioned that we really like and take for granted our easy access to hydro, however, except for entertainment, we still had everything we needed....heat, food, drinks...wine, companionship, a job, and then we thought about getting out the cards. Our water is pre-heated by wood, so showers were hot this morning. Until we get a tower for a cistern we do have to start a generator to pressure up the well supply.

When we renovated we insulated like crazy and I pulled out the furnace, duct work, and left just one baseboard in for when we are away.

People sleep better in a cold room. It keeps couples in bed together.

Oh, and the house is as open as we could make it at 1,000 sq ft. bedroom is down a hall and a spare room is next to the heated family room. Our shop, studio, pub, is separate and also heated with wood. It is a very good way to go/live and I cannot recommend it enough.


Paulo -

Of course climate is an important factor, but my experience has been that when unheated rooms are not closed off from the heated rooms and air is allowed to circulate, the temperature differential between the rooms doesn't get much more that about 10 to 15 degrees F. Maybe more if the room is more isolated.

The other thing I've observed is that if one lives in a fairly damp climate and if unheated rooms are kept closed off, one can soon develop serious problems with condensation and thence mold and mildew. The colder one keeps a house, the more one has to be concerned about condensation. Of course a dehumidifier can alleviate this problem, but that too requires energy, expensive electrical energy.

But perhaps very old house do not have this problem, as they tend to be more drafty and hence keep condensation under control through natural air exchange. This of course wastes energy.

Dehumidifiers require an indoor temperature of at least 65 degrees F. to function properly. 70 degrees F works quite a bit better than does 65 degrees.

To keep out mold and mildew, you have to heat the whole house to a temperature at lest 20 degrees F more than the outside temperature; that has been my experience.

I have a photo of the tstat showing our living room at 45F back when we lived at our old place. At that point I was setting the heat (gas furnace) at that temp and had an electric oil filled heater in the bedroom. Lets just say it was a shock coming out of the bedroom.

I closed off two rooms last winter. I keep the heat at 65-67F in here now. The closed off rooms were getting HORRIBLE condensation on the windows and at one point during the coldest periods, frost on the walls! (and mold). I had to bleach those areas and open it back up/turn the heat on. This winter i'm keeping both rooms heated and put those plastic kits on the window (they work great...no condensation whatsoever). Next winter i'm building wood frames/covering with plastic/and using them like a storm window...

Our house is very dry, but the air still holds a lot of moisture vs -20F outside (at times). Even the in the living room during very cold nights (-20F or colder)we will get frost on the inside walls. Obviously i need more insulation in the walls and probably need to add foam board. Its on my list.

I also have a sliding glass door that leaks air so bad i can feel it from 5 feet away.

My plan is to go with 100% wood and use the NG when i'm gone/as a backup when i'm lazy.

We live in a six-story apartment block with brick walls. We have to leave space between boxes we have stored on one side of the bedroom and the outside walls -- the walls get wet when it's cold out. Condensation from steam-heat leaks.

I remember visiting my grandmother's house in the 1930s in Randlett, Oklahoma. A three-room frame structure with clap-board siding that barely stopped the wind. A potbellied stove heated the living room and kitchen (the pump and outhouse were out back), but the bedroom was outside temperature. Us kids would be put to bed in Grannie's featherbed with lots of quilts, where we'd shiver until body heat had done its work. I can't remember where we woke up in the morning after the adults had moved us.

That's nothing, when I was a kid my diapers were frozen in the morning. At least that's what my mother told me -- I was too young to actually remember that experience. Nowadays I sleep best if it's around 5 C (41 F) in the room, although I can handle it colder.

The good old days, told from the perspective of an oldster today when they were young.

We don't hear the stories of those who have passed on, that were old at the time. Much different, I would suppose.

Unfortunately, as age advances, circulation and metabolism decline. Save perhaps women in menopause. It's alot rougher, often deadly.

Look around. Notice that people in cold climates wear clothes.

I remember standing at a bus stop in Moscow at 40 below, thinking I was gonna die right next to Lenin, when I noticed the sturdy Slav standing next to me was totally placid and comfy in her fur coat, high boots, muffler, and big fur hat. At which point I began to think of the French and German armies before Moscow with something approaching sympathy.

No law against wearing nice fuzzy garments inside, esp. geezers with bad circulation like me.

And no law against putting the equivalent nice fuzzy garment on your whole house. Made a huge difference for me and didn't cost much.

Like put a giant wool coat over my ranch house? My neighbors already think i'm insane :)

You can never have too much insulation up here during the winter. We should drop below 0F on Monday morning for the first time this season.

Sell house now and move to multifamily housing - much more efficient. IF the oil production decline happens as expected (2 years) the value of your house will likely decline - and your energy bills will likely double or more.

Last I heard, the housing market in the UK was in serious trouble. They had the same real estate bubble as the US due to the financial system. Blame the speculators (or, should that be "the investors")? then too, one problem with mult-family living is that there's less opportunity to undertake basic changes, such as adding massive thicknesses of insulation. I built with a total of 17 inches of fiberglass insulation under my roof and 12 inches in the walls, along with triple layer windows on 3 sides and a solar hot air system...

E. Swanson

Sounds like you're prepared. I feel like a deer caught in the headlights - seeing a bleak future but not knowing how to deal with it. Heating is a small expense for me. My bigger concern is how to deal with the coming upheaval after oil production starts to decline. Where is cold fusion when we need it?

Ba careful what you wish for!

Cold fusion would be a blank check to the speculators to continue financing the rape of the Earth or this or that activity that feeds their insatiable desire for more fiat money.

Energy isn't our problem.

Buy gold and silver, get a Prius or bike if you have to (for survival, not as a misguided lifestyle choice), and be thankful that energy is on the decline, Wall Street is toast, and American Empire is relegated to the dustbin of history.


As Americans downsize in the aftermath of a colossal real estate bust, at least one tiny corner of the housing market appears to be thriving.

To save money or simplify their lives, a small but growing number of Americans are buying or building homes that could fit inside many people's living rooms, according to entrepreneurs in the small house industry.


Switch almost entirely to wood heat (use existing heating oil setup only when gone on vacation...)

Curious, with all the engineers on here I was half expecting a more technical response, yet most responses are about behaviour. I guess that I'm more concerned than most Brits about Peak Oil and Climate change but for the majority you'll only get the behavioural change if enforced.

RE: no engineers..
Yeah, Seems like a pretty select crowd today.

My initial thoughts were for add'l insulation as an outer shell on the building, to break the thermal bridging in the structural beams, and Insulated Shutters outside the windows, so you can really lock it up at night. (These would want to be easily operable from inside.. I don't know if they're on the market, I'm resigned to designing my own, but I like that kind of thing)

Is your slab and foundation perimeter insulated? If not, finding a way to get something underneath (I know, another huge challenge) and around the base could be a considerable improvement.


One more thought, as I hear the news of how cold the UK will be this week.. I always remember it when Europe is in midwinter and wondering if the Gas pipelines from Russia will stay open on any given week..

Don't forget that the earth a mere 5 feet below your house is sitting at a nice 40-50 degrees or so.. It's a pretty decent base temperature to work your heating plan off of, if you can leverage it, instead of building up from the ambient temps outside the walls. We used a very low-tech geothermal system called a Cool-tube in a house in the Maine White Mountains.. be glad to describe it to you if you're curious.

(I just spent the last two hours in front of the Woodstove, warming the house with a huge stack of credit-card offers. Later in the week, a neighbor who runs an office supply biz will be dropping off shipping pallettes for me to chop up.


Hi Mazarine,

Personally, I'm rather fond of ductless heat pumps, but it's hard to recommend one option over another without knowing all the details. As a starting point, a litre of fuel oil provides approximately 9.0 kWh of heat at 85 per cent efficiency, and a high efficiency ductless heat pump such as the Fujitsu 12RLS supplies, on average, 3.5 kWh(e) of heat per kWh consumed, so whatever you pay per kWh, divide that amount by 3.5 to calculate your operating costs; in other words, if you currently pay 13.3p per kWh for electricity, your effective cost is 3.8p per kWh of heat, or the equivalent of fuel oil priced at 34.2p per litre.


Cheers guys, having already spent a small fortune on retrofitting improved glazing and insulation on a 1970's house I know I'll never get near passivhaus standards. This is one of the problems in the UK in that so much housing stock that we'll be living in in 40 years time is already built.

Seems there is a choice between trying to preserve BAU and accepting a changed (colder) lifestyle. Its going to cost a lot to preserve BAU, either by massively reinsulating or by increasing fuel spend. A good set of thermals might be a lot cheaper.

For now I'll be watching heat pump performance as a preferred replacement/supplement to the existing system, but any major spend will have to fight with the possibility of a move to smaller, better-designed accommodation

It is not the technology in your house, but the famous "location location location."

Try to do research, planning, then a long term move to a region in the world that produces food, and has a temperate climate....

Hmmm, cold eh, I won't mention the weather here then. Some ideas:

1) Hire a thermal camera and look for things you may have overlooked or need to prioritise. Use in places like inside the loft to track any heat leaks.
2) Shutters
3) Evacuated tube solar hot water may not help you when you really need it but how much can it help when you just need it? IE don't aim for the really dark cold days when you want full bore heat but eliminate using FF on those days you need a little heat and save it for the bad days.
4) Dry line with foam back gyprock board or use external insulation. Do 1) above first to hit the weak points and miss the parts that won't help much.
5) Use 1) above to upgrade worst windows to low-e or triple glaze.
6) Hunt the drafts and kill them.
7) Make polo-necks fashionable again.

Oh, and for HACland, I have already packed up and left. Some food for thought from TOD is giving me ideas for moving from my current location to a little higher and a little further inland. Had an interesting chat today about a place only about 30mins away with a cooler, fresher atmosphere and cold running water plus fruits, trees and a lot else.


Some interesting updates to the 'discussion' between Dmitry Orlov and others concerning Reality and Peak Oil Public Relations...

""A direct assault on the optimism of people who accept peak oil!"

Update: Looks like we ruffled some feathers in the Transition Towns neck of the woods.

Here I am doing my best to bring to you stories of real survival by real Russians (so you don't have to limp along with your hackneyed Mad Max/Waterworld clichés), and for that I am painted as being part of an "apocalyptic cult" that rejects the sacred idea of "komyooniti!" ...

[Update: Thank you Dave Ewoldt for straightening out the "apocalyptic cult" nonsense I quoted above.

Let's be straight with each other: Transition would have required some Solutions, like Powerdown and Relocalization, to have already been implemented by now on a large scale, so we won't be making our scheduled stop there. Our next, emergency stop will be at Collapse. Let's make the best of it.]...

(my emphasis in bold)

Looks like Dmitry is worried about his marginal status as a cultist and is trying to rebrand himself. However, the shoe still fits. As is seen in his insistence that it's too late to do anything but find a way to enjoy the slide to hell. What contemptible balderdash.

I noticed the other day that a local building supplier is renting some adjacent land just to store a mountain of insulation, such is the demand.

toilforoil - I am sorry, can you expand on your criticism of Orlov? You might disagree with his assessment of the future, but I don't think he is a defeatist. He just does not have the American meme that has to present something in a positive light before action can be taken. I am from a similar background with him, and even though my understanding of the future is in line with Darwinian's (ie very bleak), I am doing as much as I can, as fast as I can.
Here is an old joke from back home: The optimist learns English, the pessimist learns Russian and the realist learns how to shoot a gun.

a local building supplier is renting some adjacent land just to store a mountain of insulation, such is the demand.

Is he storing the insulation because noone will buy it? Or is he storing it because he expects a lot of demand? I could imagine buying a whole bunch if I thought that soon demand might outstrip supply. For several months
Home Depot was selling 25squarefoot R19 batts for roughly $9, but that ended a few months back. Note: I selected it on a per volume cost, it is easy to tear into thinner layers, or stack multiple layers, so you need not get the
"correct" thickness.

The hound walks me by there on a regular basis. The insulation is turning over fairly quickly.

I note in other areas where the hound leads me, that a lot of older mid and hirise buildings are being retrofitted/renovated and the process often involves putting insululation over the newly applied membrane (Blueskin for example) covering the walls. The insulation used is rigid or semi-rigid, which is what is being stored in the yard near the building supplier. This guy is an independent supplying mostly contractors.

I also have noticed more work around the old stone foundations common in the downtown area where I live involving placing Roxul's rigid mineral insulation on the exterior of the stones. This insulation is good for centuries and has the added benefit of repelling moisture. Moreover to manufacture this insulation, Roxul is steadily chewing its way through piles of old mining slag, benefitting the communities and rural areas that lived under those piles.

I visit one or another of the Home Depots in the region fairly frequently for supplies of this or that and have noticed a lot of insulation going out the door. The tool rental lady told me that the equipment used to blow in cellulose is almost always rented.

It's great to see increasing numbers of people responding to the information contained in rising energy prices.

"As is seen in his insistence that it's too late to do anything but find a way to enjoy the slide to hell."

That's not a bad way of putting it - except for the "hell" part. That depends on how you define hell. And facing what he sees as reality and adjusting appropriately is not contemptable in my opinion.

I don't think Orlov is too worried about this little squabble - I get the impression he is genuinely getting a kick out of it. I think it sounds like a very good discussion to have in the broader peak oil community.

Declining energy quality could be root cause of current recession

An overlooked cause of the economic recession in the U.S. is a decade long decline in the quality of the nation's energy supply, often measured as the amount of energy we get out for a given energy input, says energy expert Carey King of The University of Texas at Austin.

...In a paper published this November in the journal Environmental Research Letters, King introduced a new way to measure energy quality, the Energy Intensity Ratio (EIR), that is easier to calculate, highly correlated to EROI and in some ways more powerful than EROI. EIR measures how much profit is obtained by energy consumers relative to energy producers. The higher the EIR, the more economic value consumers (including businesses, governments and people) get from their energy.

When King plots EIR for various fuels every year since World War II, the graphs indicate two large declines, one before the recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s and the other during the 2000s, leading up to the current economic recession.

Interesting! I don't remember hearing this guy's name before.

How is this different from claiming that record high oil and energy prices helped bring on the great recession?

No different. It's just a way of calibrating the effect.

I didn't know him before but met him at ASPO 2010

What do you suppose x's take on this concept would be?

I wonder.... ;-)

I shudder. Just copy and paste from one of his earlier posts.

I don't like it at all. No matter how you cut it, energy is an abstract noun. It is an abstract noun like grain and metal.

Just apply the EIR or EROEI concept to grain or metal to see how stupid using an abstraction as a defining criteria for a decision about the concrete is.

If anyone proposed that decisions about which grain to plant or which metal to mine should be based on GROGI or MROMI they would be laughed at, ridiculed or at the very least ignored.

But not so with energy which may consist of gravity, solar, oil, coal, gas, electricity, nuclear, wood, peat, animal fat, steam, wind or ethanol. I can go on and on. Energy is a poorly defined abstraction.

All BTUs of energy are not the same and they can not be compared across different energy forms because each form has different utility and other differences that are important like renewability or depleting. Energy does not exist except in it's concrete forms just like grain and metal.

We do not know what the E in EIR or EROEI is and it matters.

Energy is not fungible like dollars or oil. It is not easy to change one form of energy into another and that is why Peak Oil is a major problem. We must have liquid fuel for transport because that is what the vehicle infrastructure and fuel distribution systems mandate.

This is not rocket science. It is basic logic. Treating an abstraction as though it were concrete is wrong.

It is called reification. Yet energy analysts insist on this nonsense. Even Al Gore, the darling of environmentalists, can't figure this stuff out.

Changing the topic, it now turns out that those who want to end ethanol subsidies also want to end oil subsidies.


Donald Carr, senior policy and communications advisor for the Environmental Working Group, a signee of the letter to Congress, said in an email to DTN that his group wants oil subsidies to be eliminated as well.

"Oil subsidies should go away," he said, "Fast. How many farmers in say Iowa, growing corn for ethanol, use biodiesel in their machinery and trucks? This is an attempt at distraction from the corn ethanol lobby who have been unable to convince the environmental community of the benefits of corn ethanol. And yes, we do want VEETC to go away as well."

Mr. Carr is pretty good at distractions himself. He attacks ethanol subsidies as a distraction from the much bigger oil subsides. But does he or other groups like his lift a finger, write letters to Congressional leaders or launch a publicity campaign against oil subsides. No way.

And why not? Look at the signing organizations listed in the link. A large percentage of them have a financial interest in cheap corn as it would increase their profits. That is what this is all about.

Other signers are tax exempt organizations who have no business petitioning congress about taxes since they do not pay any and are in fact beneficiaries of de facto subsidies themselfs either from government tax exemption or from the deductibility of contributions to non profits that private citizens make.

The hypocrisy of the signatories is appalling.

Let's not get ridiculously silly about this. Grain farmers have needed to worry about GROGI ever since farming was invented, even if they didn't call it that, and even if it's making us groggy. If you consistently don't even get your seed grain back at the end of the growing season, then it's blindingly obvious that you're not long for this world.

Edit - yes, yes, I know, you can't convert maize to wheat. But you can convert coal to oil, or coal to electricity, so energy is fungible. Just not perfectly fungible. And if you ever get to where all your major energy sources are going net-negative, then you're in the same place as a grain farmer who doesn't get all the seed back...

Electricity is NOT an energy source....

It is a carrier.

And it matters not, whether I get my seed back from my plantings. What matters, and has since the monkey brains stuck a seed in the ground so many thousands of years ago, is whether I'm big enough to steal yours.

Choose wisely.
The Martian

Electricity is described in terms of current (C/s) and voltage (J/C). And the product of the two is power J/s. Electricity delivered over the course of some amount of time is an amount of energy which is an extensive property.

A smart monkey-brained farmer would hide his seed somewhere to prevent a brutish Martian like you from stealing it ;-)

Sheesh. I DIDN'T SAY it was a source.

And if there was ever a type of grain that didn't produce enough seed to replace itself, it's gone now. Stealing seed can only go so far...

You're one of the reasons I'm tired of reading comments.

"Grain" and "metal" are NOT abstract nouns.

"Freedom," "Democracy," "Hope," etc., those are abstract nouns.

"Grain" and "metal" are categories, not abstractions.

What the hell am I flogging this horse for? Goodbye.

I used to try to reason with x, but have given up. He is delusional. I don't even read his posts any more. It's just the same ol' same ol'.

Now we know. It was incomparable.

Sheesh! Don't you guys know to let sleeping dogs lie?!

Nah, on second thought...

Reification (also known as hypostatisation, concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity.[1][2] In other words, it is the error of treating as a "real thing" something which is not a real thing, but merely an idea.

Now everyone who reads TOD should get this into their heads once and for all that ENERGY is NOT real, its just an IDEA!

Feynman 'Fun to Imagine' 4: Magnets (and 'Why?' questions...)

This notion of ratios provides an interesting perspective, as it readily illustrates the impact of gov't subsidies, which artificially increases the consumer profit while maintaining the producer profit...but likely with taxation as a burden on both in some manner. Debt financing of such subsidies would improve the ratio in the short term, obscuring reality, or so it would seem.

EIR would appear be a first-order metric, with additional factors such as taxation and EROEI affecting the perceived values as well.

Perhaps this fits into WT's ELM as well, given that it shows how local consumers could be subsidized by external consumers to relative advantage...until the producer cost gets too high for the external consumers to continue to buy.

Sounds similar to:

Peak Oil, EROI, Investments and the Economy in an Uncertain Future
Hall, Powers Schoenberg, 2008

They found that when investments were categorized, discretionary investment declined by half when oil expenditures increased from 5% to 14% of the economy during/shortly after the embargo i.e. an increase in the price of oil can be traced through the economy to see its impacts.

Further, they point out that any attempt at continued growth means we have to go after lower EROEI sources — which in turn means higher prices as the net energy decreases. Keeping all other variables equal, declining EROEI alone means that there is no discretionary investment available by about 2050 — almost all our energy (and money) will be used by basic infrastructure maintenance and obtaining more energy.

Of course none of the other variables will stay the same but it's still useful to isolate this trend and understand how it will effect the economy.

aangle - You bring up a point I've highlighted before: increased oil/NG capex, resulting from oil/NG price peaks, does not bring about a proportional increase in either reserves or flow rates. An increase...yes. Profit...no. The late 70's boom proved that beyond a doubt. The problem is that most folks don't have the data to see the reality. Yes...higher oil/NG prices led to drilling which increased reserves. But not even close to the profitability seen during lower price periods. At the height there were over 4,600 drilling rigs running and I can testify that probably half were drilling wells that had little chance of being commercial even assuming prices hung in there. Plotting completions at the time is also misleading: many non-commercial wells were completed for a variety of reasons which did not include making a profit.

And to compound the poor investment decisions, when prices did collapsed it brought down 100's of companies who were marginally successful during this period. The boom did bring about improved technology. It did open new trends. And it did more to damage the long term prospect of the oil patch than any other event I know of. It destroyed hundreds of small operators and was the catalyst for the mergers seen with the major oil companies. Folks who make projections that an increase price platform will bring about a proportional increase in reserves and flow rates are wrong IMHO. In fact, such assumptions have the potential to be very dangerous if our politicians buy into it. Consider how many politicians/citizens have latched on to NG as the answer to maintaining BAU. The conveniently ignore what happened to the oil patch as a result of the shale gas boom: billions in capex diverted from other projects of which a significant portion will never return a profit. Many tens of thousands of jobs lost. Further consolidation of the industry (ExxonMobil's acquisition of XTO as well as many other such corporate acquisitions which didn't make headlines). The loss or crippling of some of the largest independent US companies (Chesapeake, Devon).

In a few years NG will rise. Perhaps dramatically at some point. And there will be a drilling surge for sure. But I suspect many folks will be disappointed when their expectations of a major ramp up of US NG reserves doesn't materialize as they assumed. At a minimum there will be fewer players. And the companies still in the game will easily remember the slaughter brought on by the last NG boom. And so will Wall Street. WS was THE cheerleaders behind all those public companies that bet big time on shale gas. Many of those companies eventually drilled themselves out of existence. The boom/bust cycle used to have periods of 10-15 years so there was time to forget about past errors. Now it seems the cycles will run closer to 5-10 years. The memory of demand destruction resulting from peaking prices will be fresh in the oil patch...and Wall Street. I doubt we'll see capex thrown at the developing problems as we did several years ago.

In other news, a groundbreaking new study shows that victims of drowning actually die from lack of oxygen!


WOW!!! Who would have thunk it?!

I thought it was from hydrogen monoxide poisoning >;^)

That's DI-hydrogen monoxide poisoning, bub!


King suggests the real estate bubble burst because individuals were forced to pay a higher and higher percentage of their income for energy—including electricity, gasoline and heating oil—leaving less money for their home mortgages.

Excellent linked article. However, it could have been a combination of bad business practices leading to people flipping houses out of greed and lier loans (people couldn't pay) leading to foreclosures, coupled with lower EIR that pushed the situation past the brink.

We will know soon enough when oil hits 147 again. Does real estate dump off along with the stock market, or have we been hardened to continue BAU with lower EIR?

Two from the GAO (Highlights)

Energy-Water Nexus Re:Oil Shale Development

Oil shale development could have significant impacts on the quality and quantity of water resources, but the magnitude of these impacts is unknown because technologies are years from being commercially proven, the size of a future oil shale industry is uncertain, and knowledge of current water conditions and groundwater flow is limited.

Estimates vary widely for the amount of water needed to commercially produce oil shale primarily because of the unproven nature of some technologies and because the various ways of generating power for operations use differing quantities of water. GAO’s review of available studies indicated that the expected total water needs for the entire life cycle of oil shale production ranges from about 1 barrel (or 42 gallons) to 12 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced (average of about 5 barrels)

Also Opportunities Exist to Capture Vented and Flared Natural Gas, Reduce CO2

For full reports go to http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/repandtest.html

Toshiba to source rare-earths from Mongolia

LONDON – Toshiba Corp. has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mongolia's MNFCC LLC agreeing to discussions on cooperation in the development of Mongolia's mineral resources, including uranium, rare earth and rare metals products. Many of the obscure minerals, metals and their oxides are used in electronics manufacture and have been rising in price in recent years as China has developed a monopoly position in their supply.
Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan, met the Mongolian President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, on Nov. 19, 2010, and the two agreed to build a strategic partnership and to secure mutually beneficial cooperation in developing mineral resources in Mongolia. Further moves to promote an economic relationship between Japan and Mongolia are expected.

Should we be expecting something similar from Mexico?

Korea Conflict Shows That Borderlands Are Zones of Danger

The current conflict between the Koreas illustrates a broader global trend toward chaos along borders separating rich and poor countries.

...Conflicts between poorer peoples and richer neighbors have been part of human history since antiquity. In ancient Mesopotamia the rough Semites attacked and eventually overcame the wealthier, more sophisticated Sumerians. This pattern was repeated throughout the ancient world, for example, pitting Chinese against the peoples of the Steppes, hurling German and Hunnish barbarian races against the Romans, and in countless upheavals throughout Meso-America.

Although the wealthier neighbor can beat back the threat through better organization and technology, often it’s the poor neighbor who ultimately triumphs.The Great Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, a student of Mid-east and Mediterranean politics in the 14th century, even developed a theory positing that the poorer, hungrier neighbor often held the long term advantage Of the more affluent countries, he writes, “Time feasts on them, as their energy is exhausted by well-being and their vigor drained by the nature of luxury.”

Good. The historian Arnold Toynbee discussed this at great length, with stacks of historical examples, in Volume VIII of A Study of History. One of the standard flashpoints in the decline and fall of civilizations is the border zones between the wealthy core states and what Toynbee calls the "external proletariat" -- the neighboring nations whose labor and resources help support the wealthy core, but who get none of the benefits. North Korea's not really anybody's external proletariat, but Mexico's ours; the rising spiral of hostility along the Arizona border, from Toynbee's perspective, is a very bad sign.

Just wondering.

Has anyone at TOD perhaps put a call in to see if there was any Peak Oil or revelatory oil production type information contained in the leaked cables? It's not all gossip afterall.

Just wondering.

I haven't been able to find a place yet (including the wikileaks site) that allows for search of the body text of the cables. Hopefully that will come soon.

Are diplomats aware of Peak Oil? I seriously doubt it. Thus I expect zero Wikileaks related to Peak Oil or our energy futures.

Wikileaks needs to get some info from Saudi Arabia. Although, I am sure that anyone leaking from SA would get their hands removed and then executed, at a minimum.

LOL. What would the maximum be then? I am sure the CIA has documents from SA, but why speculate when the truth on its oil reserves is self-evident.

The truth on KSA oil reserves is not self-evident. Indeed, that number is unknown to anybody beyond a very few in Saudi Arabia.

On TOD we have guestimates of these oil reserves; we have no actual knowledge as Plato defined it: True justified opinion.

Self-evident means we all know that they are lying about the reserves, else they would be producing to make the economies hum again.

Do you think they are holding back in a grand conspiracy?

No one can prove it, of course, of course. SA is just doing their thing to rig the price of oil. right!

It is self-evident to me alone I presume. For me behavior is more important than documents -- official documents -- which can be fudged.

The only Truth to be had is an independent audit of all the producing sites by several companies including surveys and so forth.

That Truth will never be know -- just the steady decline in production is all that we will see from SA.

I seriously doubt it.


A simple Google search would lay your doubts to rest:
US Diplomat's Memo Urged 'Greening' of 'Shocking' Oil Sands

more general results here

p.s. Check out a user's comment re wikiLeaks at November 29, 2010 4:32 AM here


Our souls were sold years ago [on behalf of Peak Oil]. We want to believe otherwise, cause it's painful to think about. But srsly, Think. About. it.

re: US Diplomat's Memo Urged 'Greening' of 'Shocking' Oil Sands

That's actually quite accurate by US diplomatic standards.

A few key points:

"Should we opt instead to support policies that damage the market for the oil sands and raise the cost of capital here, we should at least do so knowingly, well aware that, while this may seem to advance our environmental interests, it will harm our energy security."

Translation: Do you want to be totally environmentally "green", and go broke; or do you want to continue to drive to work and have food to eat?

"Bluntly put, we do not know, but we are convinced, as are our contacts, that it will ultimately be far above 174 billion barrels, most likely over 250 billion barrels and on a par with Saudi Arabia, but perhaps far higher."

Translation: There is far more oil in the Canadian oil sands than there is in Saudi Arabia.

Various estimates have put oil sands output at or above 5 million bpd by 2030 ... With the strain of rapid growth already showing in Alberta, such grand over-the-horizon talk is not very popular here today.

Translation: Public pressure is going to limit Canadian oil sands production to 5 million bpd regardless of demand.

Paradoxically, when the soil is returned and replanted, as has been done on a limited scale, the land lacks the roughness of the native taiga forest and is unnaturally fertile.

Translation: Those sneaky Canadians are going to use the oil sands reclaimation process to turn the northern boreal forest into productive farmland.

the federal government and the industries were on the verge of trying to control CO2 emissions by building huge carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure...

Translation: If CSS techniques are used, the Western Canadian Sedimentary basin has the capacity to sequester all Canadian CO2 emissions for the next several centuries.

Huffaker concluded by saying that as with coal at home, U.S. interests are best served by creating a context that facilitates the "greening" rather than the suppression of oil sands output.

Translation: Shut up and buy the oil. If you raise the question of CO2 emissions, Canadians will bring up the subject of US coal CO2 emissions, which are 40-50 times as high as Canadian oil sands CO2 emissions.

...we should never forget that we have profound energy security (and investment) interests in the game in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Translation: We have the choice between buying oil sands oil, or giving up driving and making money.

Hi chrisale,

re: wikileaks.

I was thinking that perhaps they could "leak" some of the already-public info, say, that published here on TOD.

Or, perhaps the two interview sources I reference above WRT Secretary Chu's silence, shared by the administration (apparently).

Or, better yet, the publicly available studies published by the US military and DOE, some of which are here: www.oildepletion.wordpress.com.

After all, if a topic critical to the Nation's welfare is:
1) under-reported (and often mis-reported) by MSM;
2) made "dark" as a topic of discussion under an apparently secret "code of silence" within the government;
3) stamped with "FEAR" on the cover...

Isn't it worthy of a leak?

Great idea!

It just has to avoid the sound of 'What the government doesn't want you to know!' .. it has to play like the real secret that it is for anyone's curiosity to pique..

Thanks for the earlier comments. It's good to re-read the Hirsch interview. I do really appreciate that there's a gag on this up at the top, and don't expect Chu or Obama to take the initiative on this issue until a new Black Swan kicks them (and us) in the head.. I think I'm just suffering from a wee bout of "General Malaise", as Dr. Evil put it.


I agree. Seriously Aniya. Just like a retailer doubling the sticker price on a product before he has that big "50% Off Sale!". Most would agree that just tossing out tech info to public does little good. But make it a naughty little scandle and they'll read about in the tabloids it at the check out line in the grocery. And watch Katy on the evening news point her cute little accusatory finger at all those bad people.

Yes..Todpediker leaks might do some good.

What !!!

There is a secret conspiracy?

The President and Congress are keeping it hidden from the people?

A dark secret about our national security and the sustainability of Flag, Motherhood and Apple pie?

Whatever else you do, don't look here (Danger. Stay away!)

HI Bob,

Actually...I think Congress can do it.

It wouldn't take that much action on the part of constituents. They tell their elected reps they *want* this study/investigation NOW.

It's the way "the system" is supposed to work, and oddly enough - it can work.

Say, I'm guessing only 50 signatures and a meeting in...how many districts?

The Congresspersons have to - (well, not if they were really ethical, IMVHO< but oh well) anyway...they have to say it's what their constituents demand.

The constituents DEMAND a scientific and immediate investigation of this threat. Is it a credible threat? How are we going to deal with it?

That's all it would take. Really.

Because there's a gag order at the top doesn't really mean anything, in the sense that there's still the vast public.

Only a fraction of the public needs to get on board with this - or even a version of it.

That's all. It's happened before in history (well, I'm not the historian, but there must be examples in the US).