Drumbeat: December 27, 2010

Could Acacia trees solve Africa's hunger problems?

Mr. Cunningham is frustrated by aid organizations, both faith-based and NGOs, who continue to offer a band-aid approach, handing out food aid but doing little to change the underlying conditions of poverty. Why not put that money and energy into solving the region’s agricultural problems? The agronomic answers are out there, Cunningham believes, but they will not be found by using genetically modified “miracle” seeds, petro-fertilizers, pesticides, and other so-called Green Revolution practices. Rather, they must start with agroecological and organic farming practices.

Using what he learned from Niger farmers, Cunningham sought an agroecological approach that would be both regionally adapted and culturally specific. That meant starting with the Sahel’s original ecosystem. “In zones where God created the ecosystem as a savannah – trees, grasses, and herbs – then we should follow that pattern with trees. If large areas of productive land once had trees and were cleared, then we should go back to having trees with annual crops inter-planted between them,” Cunningham told me.

More farmers' markets expand to year-round

A growing number of farmers' markets are extending their operation into and through the winter months — even in cold-weather states like Massachusetts. The expansion comes as more farmers are prolonging their growing seasons with greenhouses and other methods. It's also fueled by an increased number of people who aim to eat locally produced food year-round.

Consumers' holiday splurge may be just that

Consumers hit stores in droves this year and are feeling better about their furtures. But they still confront bleak job prospects and still are trying to pay down their hefty debt loads.

That sets the stage for a "spending diet" come January, which could weigh on U.S. economic growth, since consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy. If gasoline prices — back above $3 a gallon this week even before crude oil hit two-year year highs — continue to rise in 2011, the spending squeeze could be even steeper.

Has innovation hit a brick wall?

“Current and projected rates of innovation might not be sufficient to improve or even maintain living standards in the face of still rapidly growing population, global warming, and other challenges of the 21st century,” Prof. Brander writes.

His thesis is relatively simple. Look around at all the things you depend upon to live and to work. Prof. Brander argues that all the big ideas are already out there.

Innovation is literally hitting a wall, of physical and biological limits. Larger and larger investments are netting increasingly modest and incremental gains. We’ve all been living off the fruits of what our parents and grandparents achieved.

Ex Shell president sees $5 gas in 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.

In an interview with Platt's Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.

Brazil eyes energy and farms for future emission cuts

RIO DE JANEIRO - After winning global praise for protecting its Amazon forests, Brazil now faces another tricky obstacle to cutting its carbon emissions -- the gases produced by its booming economy.

International pressure for reductions to slash-and-burn deforestation led Brazil to cut illegal Amazon logging by 34 percent from 2004 to 2009, making it one of the few nations at climate talks in Cancun to show progress against global warming.

But with its farm belt fast becoming the bread basket to the world and its free-spending consumers spurring greater use of fossil fuels, Brazil will not be able to depend on simply Amazon protection to become a low-carbon economy.

Harsh realities on the flip side of Iranian reform

Imagine pulling into a petrol station and finding that the cost of filling your tank has quadrupled overnight. At the supermarket, wheat, rice, cooking oil, milk, sugar and other essentials have soared in price. Then you go home and your electricity bill is three times higher. You call for a new bottle of cooking gas - it is five times more expensive.

That was the reality that Iranians woke up to on December 19. The last time petrol prices were raised, in 2007, there were riots. This time, in a re-run of the repression following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, Tehran was flooded with police who watched carefully for any signs of unrest.

A reform of Iran's subsidy system was long overdue. Below-market prices for motor fuel, cooking gas, electricity, water and basic food items cost the country a third of its GDP. Subsidies fuelled rampant consumption: Iran is, remarkably, the world's third-largest user of natural gas, after the US and Russia, despite a much smaller population and economy.

Gas taxes being hiked in Oregon

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oregon drivers may get an unpleasant shock when they pull up to the pump in the new year.

Drivers there are already paying an average of $3.06 per gallon, but in the new year the state Department of Transportation is hiking the gas tax by 6 cents. That will bring the state tax to 30 cents per gallon.

Taxpayers in the rest of the nation, however, can breathe a sign of relief. Oregon's gas tax increase is one of the few hikes taking place on Jan. 1.

Pemex to Invest 550 Million Pesos in Pipelines, Economista Says

Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, may invest 550 million pesos ($44.5 million) to strengthen its oil pipeline monitoring system in order to avoid theft and accidents, El Economista said.

China: a record increase in oil demand

Demand for oil in China has increased at a record pace in 2010, as it jumped to about 8.64 million barrels per day in the period between the beginning of the year and the end of November, or by 7.1 percent relative to the same period in 2009. Increases in demand recorded their highest rates back in November, when monthly consumption levels reached around 9.3 million barrels per day, or an 8.9 percent increase relative to November 2009. This took place in spite of the four different tax increases imposed in 2010 on gasoline and other types of transport fuels, the most recent of which was the four percent tax increase passed on December 22.

Power, gas outages return

LAHORE - PEOPLE are facing the worst-ever energy crisis in the form of abrupt and prolonged electricity and gas outages despite tall claims of the authorities about improvement in the situation.

US missiles hit Pakistan borderlands killing 18

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – Suspected U.S. missiles struck two vehicles in a Taliban stronghold on Pakistan's side of the border with Afghanistan on Monday, killing 18 alleged militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The attack in the North Waziristan tribal region came in the final days of a year that has witnessed an unprecedented number of such strikes from drone aircraft flying over Pakistani soil, part of a ramped-up U.S. campaign to take out al-Qaida and Taliban fighters seeking sanctuary outside Afghanistan.

Panel challenges Gulf seafood safety all-clear

A New Orleans law firm is challenging government assurances that Gulf Coast seafood is safe to eat in the wake of the BP oil spill, saying it poses “a significant danger to public health.”

It’s a high-stakes tug-of-war that will almost certainly end up in the courts, with two armies of scientists arguing over technical findings that could have real-world impact for seafood consumers and producers.

Australia: Excise cut may leave ethanol in a pickle

SHORT of retroactive taxes, business hates nothing more than mandates.

Free-market proponents argue fiercely that they do nothing but distort the delicate supply and demand balance. It is the policy equivalent of being forced to eat your greens despite wanting fast food.

Copper pipe thefts more dangerous when natural gas is involved

Many of the copper pipe thefts that have become a problem in the area have involved cutting into copper water lines in homes, but now there is a new wrinkle.

Columbia Gas of Maryland is asking people to be vigilant because there have been cases of thieves cutting pipes carrying natural gas.

New Zealand: Summer school offers survival skills

Concerned about peak oil and climate change? So is Oamaru's Natural Heritage Society.

It has taken a pro-active approach to raise awareness of the issue by encouraging people to learn new skills to ensure they can function when readily available oil and its products become increasingly scarce.

Jamaica: Energy Future (Part I)

For reasons and developments that I shall discuss in this two-part series, developments in nuclear-energy technology have made it possible that it can play a central role in Jamaica's sustainable energy future and national energy security.

Ford to extend gas-saving feature

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In a move to boost fuel economy, Ford Motor Co. said Monday it will add an Auto Start-Stop system that shuts off the engine when a vehicle comes to a stop. The automaker said the feature will be added to its conventional cars, crossovers and SUVs in North America.

Ford's statement said that the feature is expected to boost fuel economy by between 4% and 10%, and eliminate tailpipe emissions while the vehicle is stationary.

Rare earth metals mine is key to US control over hi-tech future

It's a deep pit in the Mojave desert. But it could hold the key to America challenging China's technological domination of the 21st century.

At the bottom of the vast site, beneath 6 metres (20ft) of bright emerald-green water, runs a rich seam of ores that are hardly household names but are rapidly emerging as the building blocks of the hi-tech future.

The Dump

San Francisco diverts 77 percent of its waste, the best landfill-avoidance rate for any large city in the United States. The goal for 2020 is zero waste. The 3-Bin Recycling Program started in July 1997.

Ultimate electric car challenge: Dead batteries

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- We've all had to get rid of spent lithium-ion batteries from laptops and cell phones so it's natural to worry about the ones in electric cars.

Won't those eventually have to be disposed of, too? Are they just going to sit rotting in land fills fouling the environment?

Back to the future

Imagine reducing emissions by 80 per cent. It seems huge and daunting without a technological revolution. But imagine achieving that target just by turning the clock back to the time when emissions were still at that level. For example, how far back would you have to go to reduce by 80 per cent the amount that British people fly?

1972. Yes, 1972. It really isn’t so long ago – and if it does seem a long time, consider that to halve flights you only have to go back to 1993.

A Battle Over Uranium Bodes Ill for U.S. Debate

NATURITA, Colo. — The future of nuclear power in America is back on the table, with all its vast implications, as global warming revives the search for energy sources that produce less greenhouse gas.

But in this depressed corner of western Colorado — one of the first places in the world that uranium, nuclear energy’s primary fuel, was ever dug from the ground in industrial scale — the debate is both simpler and more complicated. A proposal for a new mill to process uranium ore, which would lead to the opening of long-shuttered mines in Colorado and Utah, has brought global and local concerns into collision — jobs, health, class-consciousness and historical memory among them — in ways that suggest, if the pattern here holds, a bitter national debate to come.

Oil Trades Near 26-Month High on China Growth Speculation, U.S. Stockpiles

Oil fell from a two-year high in New York amid concern that China’s second interest-rate increase since October may slow economic growth in the world’s biggest energy consumer.

Futures snapped a five-day rising streak after the People’s Bank of China boosted benchmark one-year lending and deposit rates by 25 basis points Dec. 25 to tackle the fastest inflation in more than two years. Oil advanced earlier as temperatures fell and storms blanketed the eastern U.S. with snow, raising demand for heating fuels.

EIA Forecasts More Shale Gas Resources And Greater Use

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (AEO2011) Early Release Overview last week that dramatically increased its estimate of technically recoverable unproved shale gas resources and raised its forecast of the amount of natural gas to be consumed in the future. Neither of these changes to their annual forecast is a great surprise given ongoing industry trends, but what may be somewhat of a surprise is the smaller increase in gas shale resources compared to the 2009 forecast from the Potential Gas Committee at the Colorado School of Mines.

Iraq's Oil Production Reaches Highest in 20 Years to 2.6 Million Barrels

Iraq’s oil production exceeded 2.6 million barrels a day for the first time in 20 years, newly appointed Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said at a press conference in Baghdad.

The rising output will boost Iraq’s oil exports by 5 percent to 2 million barrels a day next month, Falah al-Amri, head of the country’s State Oil Marketing Organization, said today in an interview in Baghdad. The nation sells about 60 percent of supplies to India, China and other Asian countries where demand is increasing, he said

The World's Real Oil Problem

Oil plays a role in the world economy that's far more important than any other commodity, so when I'm in a mood to worry I worry about oil prices. I don't know if we've hit peak oil, but we have reached the point at which the growth of supply has reached the point where it can barely keep up with growing demand in a normal economy.

ATP eyes Israeli gas play

Houston-based ATP Oil & Gas may enter Israel's offshore gas play, according to reports.

Israeli financial daily Globes reported that the company is looking to take a 33% slice of the Mira and Sarah licences and 50% of the Daniel and Shimshon licences .

Saudi Electricity's Clients to Increase to 7.9 Million by the End of 2016

Saudi Electricity Co., a state- controlled utility, expects to have a customer base of 7.9 million by the end of 2016 as it seeks to meet rising demand for power in the Persian Gulf’s largest Arab country by population.

The utility expects to add 309,000 new customers next year and 1.79 million between 2011 and 2016, the company announced in a statement to the Saudi bourse website today.

Libya wants larger slice of energy pie

TRIPOLI, Libya (UPI) -- The Libyan government aims to position the country as an important energy player while exploring renewable energy at home, a panel said.

Kazakhstan moves to extend president's rule

Kazakhstan moved on Monday to extend the reign of President Nursultan Nazarbayev for another ten years without re-election, imperilling hopes of a transition to democracy in the oil-rich former Soviet state.

Khodorkovsky Found Guilty in Trial, Lawyers Say

A Moscow judge found Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former head of Yukos Oil Co., guilty of stealing crude from the company during a six-year period, his lawyers said.

Venezuela ex-president Perez dies in Miami: daughter

CARACAS (AFP) – Former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez, who nationalized the oil industry and then survived a coup attempt by future leader Hugo Chavez, has died in Miami, his daughter told local media.

As a two-term president, Perez led Venezuela through rising fortunes as well as deeply turbulent times -- including the country's worst-ever riots that left hundreds dead in 1989 after he initiated economic reforms -- and eventually was driven out of office on corruption allegations.

Gulf casino workers' claims denied for BP funds

BILOXI, Miss. — When Brad McDonald saw the robust tips he usually earns as a dealer on blackjack and craps tables dip abruptly last summer, he did what scores of other Gulf Coast workers have done in the wake of the BP oil spill: He applied for an emergency payout from the oil company's compensation fund.

No dice, he was told. The claim was denied by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the agency doling out the $20 billion in BP's compensation fund to victims of the spill.

Arch, Peabody seek coal exporting deals to Asia

WRIGHT, Wyo. • From atop the 25-story coal silo overlooking Arch Coal Inc.'s Black Thunder mine in northeast Wyoming, a seemingly endless string of rail cars stretches into the horizon.

More than 20 trains arrive a day, each a mile and a half long. One by one, they snake around a loop where more than 120 hopper cars are topped off with dusty, black rock.

Almost every bit of coal that leaves is headed east, where the vast majority of the nation's 1,000-plus fiery coal boilers await their next feeding. But trains could soon start heading west — to dump their cargo on ships headed to the Far East. Miners here in the coal-rich Powder River Basin, the self-proclaimed energy capital of America, have plans to tap the Mother of All Energy Users: China.

Nuclear power plant application filed to UAE regulator

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), the company in charge of the UAE's plan to develop reactors, has filed a 9,000-page construction application to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation.

The application, for the first two reactor units of the project, is the result of a year of planning and preparation demonstrating the safety case for the country's first power plants, to be situated in Braka, in the Al Gharbia region.

Floods Swamp Australia After Cyclone Hits

Coal mines have been flooded and some producers have declared "force majeure" - indicating to their buyers that they may not be able to meet targets as originally agreed for reasons beyond their control.

Japan greehouse gas emissions fall 5.7 percent in 09/10

Japan's greenhouse gas emissions fell 5.7 percent to 1.209 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent in the past financial year, a second straight year of decline due to weakness in the global economy, preliminary data showed.

Small Beetles Massacre The Rockies' Whitebark Pines

The Whitebark pine trees in the high-elevation areas of America's Northern Rockies have stood for centuries. But these formerly lush evergreen forests are disappearing at an alarmingly fast rate; what remains are eerie stands of red and gray snags.

Warmer climates have sparked an outbreak of a voracious mountain pine beetle that is having devastating consequences for whitebarks and the wildlife that depend on them.

Professor Newman, who serves on the board of the federal agency Infrastructure Australia, has begun briefing the Council of Australian Governments on the need to test all future urban development against the potential for an oil shortage.

He said every state should duplicate a Queensland law that requires local councils to conduct an ''oil dependence study'' when approving new developments. ''The Queensland approach has to become the national approach and it's quite possible that COAG will adopt it as the standard,'' he said.

While they're at it, I would hope they're also handing out lots of condoms...

Natural population growth would peak between 24-25 million in 2-3 decades, up from 22 million now. The main driver is immigration which is pushed by developers.

Australian Population Scenarios in the context of oil decline and global warming

"The main driver is immigration which is pushed by developers."

This happens all over ... even in my little county.

The birth- death rate was even , it is the "in-migration" that is the increase. Pushed by developers, realtors, and the Chamber of Commerce.

I don't think overpopulation is going to be a serious problem in Australia in the foreseeable future. At 2.6 people per square kilometre it's the second least populated country after Mongolia and the second least populated continent after Antarctica.

However, Australians should ensure that their cities are walkable and are serviced by electric rail, because oil supply will probably not support unlimited automobile transportation in future.

RMG, I don't think that's the correct measure to use.

I think you should be comparing the population to the carrying capacity of the country. Once international trade breaks down sufficiently, most countries will have to use the resources within their borders — at least until international trade picks up again.

I don't think overpopulation is going to be a serious problem in Australia in the foreseeable future. At 2.6 people per square kilometre it's the second least populated country after Mongolia and the second least populated continent after Antarctica.

While that may be an accurate figure it doesn't give a true picture of the reality on the ground. What percentage of the Australian territory is actually capable of sustaining a high density of humans? Hint, there is also a reason why neither Antarctica nor outer Mongolia are likely to have exponential population growth anytime soon.

And recall further the article the other day that pointed out the Americans use on average about 11,000 watts of total energy from all sources a day--more than great blue whales--and I'm guessing Aussies aren't too far behind.

So think of it in terms of 2.6 great blue whales / k^2 and it starts feeling a bit more crowded.

But really rather than total land area, they should be only counting the land that could reasonably support a modern agriculture-based population, not all of the desolate outback.

Blue whales aside, I like to keep in mind that Australia has about 2/3 the population of California, and about 18 times as much land area. And I hasten to point out that Southern California is not over-endowed with water, either. A lot of it is desert, too.

The reality is that with a combination of dry-land farming, ranching, and irrigation, Australia could support far more people than it currently does. Far more than California could, in fact. California is pushing the limits of its available resources, Australia is far from doing so.

The reality is that with a combination of dry-land farming, ranching, and irrigation, Australia could support far more people than it currently does.

Really Rocky, where is Australia going to get water for more irrigation? From a recent report: "Inflows in the southern part of the Murray-Darling river system were among the lowest on record. Further north the Darling has simply stopped flowing. Parts of the once-mighty Darling River have been reduced to this - a series of stagnating pools."

Irrigation in Australia has reached its limits and most of the farmland of Australia is drying up. Australia is pushing the limits of its water resources. As matter of fact they have already pushed way past that limit.

But I am not an Aussie. I will leave further comment to them. But from what I read in the news Australia don't seem to be the breadbasket for massive population increase you seem to think it is.

Ron P.

Yair...RockyMtnGuy don't you reckon we are doing any dry land farming, ranching or irrigation? If you check you facts you will find Australia (in most cases)is a world leader in all these disciplines.

I am aware that Australia does a lot of dry land farming and irrigation. However it could manage its water better and irrigate considerably more efficiently, and it could plant more drought tolerant crops.

Rice is not particularly drought-tolerant and not really a good choice for a dry country. Possibly something like the dreaded Genetically Modified drought-tolerant wheat would be a better choice.

What percentage of the Australian territory is actually capable of sustaining a high density of humans?

With only 2.6 persons per square kilometre, it doesn't haven't to support a high density of people. It only has to support a low density of people. California, which has a lot of desert too, has about 50% more people and about 1/18 of the land area.

Australia currently exports 60% of its agricultural production. It could easily double its population without running short of food. And, realistically, Australians could use their water supplies more effectively.

I'm reminded that North Africa was the "breadbasket of the Roman Empire". It wasn't that it rained any more in North Africa than it does now, it's just that the Romans were much better than the modern residents at using the available water. Another example is Israel vs. its Arab neighbors. The Arabs appear to be very good at turning farmland into desert.

Come on RMG, you are just making stuff up now. The Romans trashed the North African "bread basket". Burned it out. Trying to make it Rome's breadbasket destroyed it.

If you were paying attention, you'd know that we're doing the exact same thing here in North America. Irrigating with fossil water, water tables plummeting, salinization, etc.

I guess you know some stuff about the oil bidness, but you seem not to be very clear on things agricultural and environmental.

There's no evidence the Romans trashed the North African breadbasket. The evidence is that they simply farmed it more efficiently and used its limited water resources more efficiently than people before or since.

The Romans were very good at using every drop of water and getting maximum production out of the land by planting very drought-tolerant crops. After the fall of the Roman Empire, though, their farms were replaced by livestock raising, which was not nearly as efficient at feeding people as growing grain, grapes, and olives.

The Arabs who replaced them did more damage by overgrazing than the Romans did by over-farming.

RMG, you really don't know what you're talking about.

The first thing the Romans did in North Africa was rip up the trees. Then they ripped up the soil with their plows.

They got bountiful yields for a time from the stored fertility, but as the fertility became exhausted, salinization increased, and erosion became rampant, yields fell.

There is also some evidence of some shifts in the climate.

After the Romans were done with it, all it was good for was grazing. It's a common pattern through history.

The causes of the decline in agriculture in North Africa are somewhat controversial. I'm just drawing from a couple of books I read on the decline of the Roman Empire. The authors felt that the Romans were not responsible for the decline in agricultural production in North Africa. The Romans did cause a lot of deforestation and soil damage in Italy itself. However, in North Africa, the Romans planted a lot of olive and date trees to replace the native trees.

Regardless, it's fairly evident that a lot of the deforestation and soil damage in North Africa occurred after the fall of the Roman Empire. Overgrazing by goats after the Arabs introduced them have been cited as a major cause.

Wikipedia: North Africa

Arab Conquest to modern times
The Arab Islamic conquest reached North Africa in 640 AD. By 670, most of North Africa had fallen to Muslim rule.
North Africa's populous and flourishing civilization collapsed after exhausting its resources in internal fighting and suffering devastation from the invasion of the Bedouin tribes of Banu Sulaym and Banu Hilal. Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert.

I'm currently re-reading "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations". You might want to check that one out.


The Arabs appear to be very good at turning farmland into desert.

Yeah, by exploiting non-renewable aquifers for irrigation, not a very sustainable proposition long term... They should plan for Peak Water.


Fossil groundwater
The deserts of northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula have been extensively
explored for oil in the second half of the 20th century. Oil exploration companies
are contracted to record and report on the hydrogeology, especially the
non-renewable fossil waters. These groundwater data have been systematically
collated by the national governments of the region.
Past rainfall regimes over the Sahara and the Arabian peninsula have left in
place substantial reserves of groundwater with estimates of their age of between
12,000 and 30,000 years (Wright and Edmunds, 1971; Wright, 1986). Much of
the ancient water is of usable quality (Edmunds and Wright, 1979). This water is
often at accessible depths in terms of pumping costs, but it is located hundreds
of kilometres away from potential users.

Professor Newman certainly has the right ideas about urban sprawl but I didn't see any mention of the driver behind the sprawl which is population growth.In Australia this growth is driven mainly by immigration.

Both population and immigration tend to be taboo subjects here.Not only among the boosters who are clearly greedy and self interested but also among a high propotion of leftish/greenish types.The latter are divorced from reality in this and other ways.They may parrot the sustainability meme but they wilfully fail to understand that Australia has overshot its sustainable population by about 100%.

To all those who look at narrow measures like density/sq km I have to point out the bleeding obvious - Australia is the most arid inhabited continent on Earth.It also has,in the main,ancient poor soils. By far the greater part of Australia has such low rainfall that it will not support human habitation except at the very low densities associated with pastoralism or mining.
The majority of the areas which can be farmed are subject to wild oscillations in weather conditions.In eastern Australia we have just come out of a 10 year drought into massive flooding which has destroyed many crops as well as infrastructure such as roads.
There are records of this variability going back to the earliest white settlement and there are certainly plenty of pointers in the various scientific records which indicate that this is not a recent phenomenem.

Yair...good one thirra. I did a similar post about our arid continent but some how blew the copy and paste.

Incidently we are on the Central Queensland coast and look like having well over double our average yearly rainfall.

Prof. Newman mentions an "oil dependence study"

I had written the terms of reference here:

Terms of Reference for Urban Transport under Severe Carbon Constraints

and a risk analysis:

Quick risk analysis for M2 widening (Part2)

Yet, Sydney goes ahead with widening 2 toll-ways

Tollopoly on Sydney's orbital

It may be hard for some to imagine that these McMansions could quickly become the symbol of slum life, but this is exactly what happened in most inner-city slums in the 60's and 70's--areas close to downtowns that had been the homes of the very well off became the locals for some of the most depressed ghettoes.

I am intrigued with the idea of the Queensland laws requiring studies for how a development would fair in a post-PO world. Are there any such laws on the books yet in the US?

McSuburbs could quickly become McSlums when people realize that single families can no longer afford to live in their McMansions, and they start being turned into multi-family dwellings, just like the fine old mansions of the inner cities were. The modern McMansions are nowhere near as well built, so they will rot into a pile of decomposing oriented strand board and plastic much quicker.

There's an new article from Fine Homebuilding magazine on how to turn your McMansion into a multi-unit dwelling

Poor McM’s. They were the source of such ownerly pride when HOUSING with a big H was in flower, and now you can’t give them away. Very likely, there is a disproportionate number of Big Boxes among the 18.8 million housing units now standing empty. And among green-thinking folks, let us admit, there is more than a whiff of “I told you so.”

But now that so many sit empty, what should we do—raze them? In a time of stubbornly high rents and massive homelessness, that would be even more wasteful than building them in the first place. As a retired contractor buddy of mine puts it, “There is no housing shortage in America; what we have is a housing distribution problem.”

Of course the Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) crowd will have a screaming fit and try to block it, but it may be the last best hope for Suburbia. The alternative for many will be living in a cardboard box.

Good points. It would actually make a lot of sense to house farm workers in some of those things way out in the exurbs. But what makes sense is rarely going to happen. Hell, we already have massive numbers of people homeless or sleeping on sister-in-laws' couches, while more and more houses stand vacant, waiting to be stripped of their copper by vandals and turned into useless junk.

Everything major system of the economy is now pretty well dis-functional, broken, or yielding the opposite of its intended beneficial functions. We're in an un-economy (and actually have been for some time).

Actually, as someone who has worked in real estate very recently, the McMansions have a number of properties that make them prime candidates to turn into slums... They are generally built in areas where it is cheaper to live, so are often far from work and amenities. Sub-standard materials and methods were used in many cases, such as Chinese drywall in the US (which renders many of them nearly worthless on the market). Due to their size and the lack of concern for efficiency, they are expensive to maintain and if not maintained will degenerate very quickly. The neighborhoods they are in may be not totally built (projects killed by the recession - the community pool wasn't put in, empty lots everywhere, that sort of thing), or if completed may have many vacant homes due to underwater owners losing houses and people who bought them as speculation not living in the houses. The values continue to drop.

It's kinda funny to see some of the former down-and-out neighborhoods in my area become gentrified as young, middle class people move in and fine dining establishments get built in the area, while McMansion developments look sadder and sadder every day. The process has already begun.

Re: Iraq's Oil Production Reaches Highest in 20 Years to 2.6 Million Barrels (uptop)

EIA data show that Iraq's crude oil production (C+C) has basically been flat at about 2.4 mbpd for 2008, 2009 and for 2010 through September. Because of rising consumption, their (total liquids) net exports fell in 2009 at 3.2%/year, relative to 2008, and it's a pretty good assumption that their net exports will probably be down in 2010 also.

So far at least, no sign of the explosive increase in production that many people have been expecting.

In an article posted about a year ago, Stuart Staniford showed a graph portraying the production increase necessary to meet Iraq's announced goal of 12 mbpd of production in six or seven years:


Stuart took pains to point out that it was a scenario, but he thought that it was a scenario that should be taken seriously. Note that this scenario required Iraq to add the equivalent of the peak production of three producing regions like Texas or one producing region like Saudi Arabia, in seven years.

IMO, a more plausible scenario is that Iraq might be able to approximately regain a production level on the order of its late Seventies peak, with a good deal of the increase in production being offset by rising domestic consumption, resulting in a fairly minor increase in their net oil exports, but time will tell.

EIA also has Iraq at 2756.08 kb/d C+C in Nov 2001. Between this and that latest Peak Demand story people sure are fond of the Big Lie for the holidays. Perhaps al-Luaibi is referring to homegrown production numbers that we're simply not privy to? Or he's consolidating his position with Bold Claims to match al-Shahristani's, and we know how bold those were.

Wonder if any MSM ists will notice this simple fact about those production numbers.

Amazing Aljazeera interview with Saeed Laylaz, an Iranian economics columnist and former deputy interior minister

"And if we continue this situation - which is impossible in my opinion - 5 or 10 years later we will have no oil to export and the main source of hard currency of the country is oil exports."


For more on Iran, click "Global Peak" and "Iran" on my website http://www.crudeoilpeak.com/

For more on Saeed Laylaz' prison sentence



Link up top: Oil Trades Near 26-Month High on China Growth Speculation, U.S. Stockpiles

Well not so fast, that 26-Month high is now coming down. China raised it's interest rate 25 basis points, or one quarter of one percent today and that has caused the price of oil to drop about half a dollar and the stock market to drop about one half a percent across the board. All this because, according to CNBC this morning anyway, China's growth is expected to slow because of higher interest rates. This could be a harbinger of things to come.

Outlook 2011: Is the Smart Money Right About China?

China has been ranked as the top growing country among the G20 since 2001, and is expected to retain that title for at least another five years (See Growth Chart). However, the news coming out of China for the past three months has not been good. It is looking more and more that it is not a question of if China is a bubble and going to burst, but when....

If you think having riots in Greece over the pension retirement age being raised is bad, just wait till riots break out in Beijing and other cities over a 90 cent bowl of noodle soup now costing four dollars due to food shortages, and a runaway inflation problem.

The smart money is leaving China. The Chinese stock market, which only Chinese are allowed to invest in, is down this year just about as much as the S&P index is up. The average salary of migrant factory workers is about 1,000 yuan a month or about $150. That is less than one dollar per hour. The average Chinese cannot even afford the simplest of luxuries like a trip into the city to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Labor shortage as Chinese migrants quit city

Now the big question is what will happen to the US economy when the Chinese bubble collapses?

Ron P.


China has 1,400 million people, sure the poor like in our country cannot afford much but they have many rich people who can.


They bought over 13 million cars last year. Also the stock market has fallen but still double what it was 24 months ago


Yes the Chinese have many rich people, like those in your article they are coal mine owners or factory owners or other such owners. They are thousands of them in China. There are millions upon millions who own nothing. They work in those coal mines and those factories and in restaurants and even on the farm. They are China's poor and they are the vast majority of the Chinese people.

You say "the poor like in our country". The poor are nothing like in our country. The poor in our country work at McDonald's for an average salary of $7.35 an hour. (I looked it up.) That is about 7 times the average restaurant workers salary in China. Jaz, the poor in China are not like the poor in our country. They are far poorer and they make up a far higher percentage of the general population than the poor do in the US or Europe.

But all this discussion about the poor and average salaries clouds the main subject. The Chinese bubble is about to burst. China underwent a massive building boom and things are still being built as I write this. But most of those buildings, homes, office space and stores, stand empty. The banks lent out vast sums of money to finance those buildings and now the builders are about to go bankrupt.

Furthermore, China's practice of overbuilding at the height of real estate valuations makes even haircuts on loan write-offs an untenable practice for banks, and by further throwing good money after bad, the ultimate mark- to-market effect could be catastrophic for Chinese Banks.

What effect will a Chinese economic collapse have on the US and the rest of the world. Well it would drive oil prices down. A million barrels a day less demand in China and perhaps a million more less in other countries would cause prices to drop worldwide. And how about the US bond market if China were no longer buying? I hesitate to guess.

But China will be the big story in 2011.

Ron P.

I agree, there's no comparison between the poor in China and the poor in the West.

Still, having said that, it's true that in recent years standards of living have increased in China. I often used to wonder why the Africans never really revolted against their exploitation by Western countries over the last century or so. It was only after I'd spent some time over there that I realised that their standard of living was really so bad that they had no energy / resources to spare towards a focused revolution. They could only take one day at a time. Of course with the rapid introduction of information via the internet this may yet change in the near future.

I would have said that a similar situation existed in China up to quite recently, albeit not quite to the same extent of poverty as Africa. I don't think that social unrest would have been very likely 20-odd years ago but now I just wonder if the average Chinese has glimpsed enough of another life to want to cling on to that and cling on hard?

I often used to wonder why the Africans never really revolted against their exploitation by Western countries over the last century or so.

They did revolt against the Western countries and kicked the colonial powers out. Now they are being exploited by their own people instead. It's harder to revolt against that because the national army just shoots them. And when they overthrow the government, they just get a new gang of exploiters in power.

Iagree - I’ll add to Rockie’s post with a little first hand account of a lovely little garden spot called Equatorial Guinea. Next door neighbor to Nigeria they got their freedom from Spain decades ago. A small (500,000) island nation they are in the top 5 richest nations on earth on a per capita basis. But being ruled by a homicidal maniac they have one of the lowest standards of living in Africa. The country had very little value until oil was discovered offshore in the 90’s. I’ll skip the details of life there…covered it on TOD several times. Can’t Google much about it but you can get some filler from Amnesty International.

So when they were a Spanish colony they had little but subsistence but it was a life better than the average Africa thanks to a sea food source...a food source which is today no more: El Presidente had the fishing fleet destroyed. They once were malaria free but El Presidente decided it would be easier to control a chronically ill society more easily so he stopped the spraying program. In the case of EG you can forget about any revolution: even the police aren’t allowed guns. But they do get the job done well enough with machetes. Life as a Spanish colony may have been far from ideal but much better than the freedom they enjoy today.

IMHO they could do with a bit of colonization today…couldn’t be worse than they have now. Indirectly they are still victims of colonization: their oil and LNG go the US and EU. It tickles me a bit how the EU will look down its nose at the US pursuing its commercial interests without regards to the “public good” but have no trouble burning fuel from EG while most in the EU and England are very aware of the situation there. The billions of $’s generated monthly in EG go directly to an extended family of around 300.

Just one more little tale that is often explained with an old short hand: TIA. Meaning, of course, “This is Africa”. I’ve mused before why the US (or any other power) hasn’t taken over the country on a humanitarian basis. I’ll skip the details again but believe me: it could easily be done without firing one shot. All you can do is suppose they don’t need “freedom exported to them” as much as other spots around the globe. As long as the oil/NG flows freely from EG to the US/EU the TPTB must assume the people of EG have all the freedom they’ll ever need.

I realise the poor in China are much worse off then in the west, but then they always have been. Things turn bad when people end up poorer than they are used to, this breeds resentment and violence.

On the building boom, other agree with you. This article is astounding.


A german economist said, he and many others predicted an inflationary collapse in Germany around 1936 but underestimated what a centralized government could achieve with price freezes and wage controls etc. The chinese government could mitigate the worst due to the amount of reserves they have.

It will be and interesting few years either way.

Just a friendly tip: whenever you see 'Daily Mail' it's always useful to don your BS-proof goggles.. :-)

That being said, there are other stories about ghost cities in China that are from far more reputable sources.

I agree with iagreewithnick - File anything you read in The Daily Fail under 'rumor" until it's confirmed. So, confirmation from Business Insider (not that they don't traffic heavily in rumor also.)

This same article was posted about a week ago and has numerous errors in its assertion of "empty cities".

First, the Daily Mail article claim that houses having no cars parked in front of them are unoccupied is BS. Not more than about 15% of Chinese adults own cars (about 150 million cars in a country of 1.4 billion people), so not having a car in front does not mean nobody lives there. Second, you can't tell from most of these goggle photos whether the developed areas are being used, as the detail is just lacking. Thirdly, some of the photos claim no traffic or cars in sight, when in fact cars can be seen in office or apartment building parking lots and on streets.

I admit that China has probably overbuilt, the Chinese government is limiting who can buy a house to prevent wealthier couples from owning two or three homes (one primary residence and others rentals). The powers that be in China want more people to own homes and fewer to rent them, as was told in a story highlighted in the drumbeat a couple weeks ago (can't find link).


Have you bothered to look for further evidence? guess its easier to rant.




I agree that further evidence is always good. I am not so sure that assertions on line by Bloomberg and Chinadigitaltimes is what I would call, "evidence," though. I think the point was to be skeptical about all.


The poor are nothing like in our country. The poor in our country work at McDonald's for an average salary of $7.35 an hour. (I looked it up.)

The average Chinese worker only makes half of what a US McDonald's worker makes, but they save 50% of their incomes and 90% of them own their own homes.

China property buyers go global

More than 90 percent of China’s households own the home they live in, while more than a quarter own a second property, a report from Asian brokerage CLSA said.

Home Life and Possessions in China

For every 100 households in the countryside there are 89 color televisions, 22 refrigerators and 62 cell phones. For every 100 households in the cities there are 137 color televisions, 92 refrigerators and 153 cell phones.

They may not make as much as Americans or live in McMansions, but they are not really poverty-stricken. How many McDonalds workers own their own houses and save 50% of their incomes? How many own a washing machine that also makes noodles?

Haier sells a washing machine that also kneads noodle dough. This has been a big selling point for many Chinese.

Haier sells a washing machine that also kneads noodle dough. This has been a big selling point for many Chinese.

Switching back and forth between washing and pasta making also helps add starch to the cloths, which stiffens work shirts making them look newer, reducing dry cleaning costs. Forget one hour martinizing, just toss those shirts in the washing machine.

I don't know if >90% of the Chinese own their own homes, but I'm certain that exactly zero percent of them own the land their houses sit on. The government sweeps in at a whim and orders the razing of entire neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal. The people are deliberately denied any security outside of what their paternal government provides - and now even that's breaking down as the safety nets fray and are abandoned.

Poverty is a relative thing, and now that the rich are mingling with the 'Great Unwashed,' those masses that were left behind in the boom are becoming disgruntled with the enormous and growing wealth disparity. It grates on the true believers in the Revolution, and it also tempts the legions of young men with get-rich-quick schemes that undercut the social mores.

Large numbers of young, unmarried men are a recipe for upheaval - maybe disaster - as the coming downturn accelerates. We talk about the economy as if it were independent of all other environmental factors, while history shows that external triggers usually herald large-scale change. It could be a Korean conflict, SARS, or a New Year's tsunami, but that one little nudge is bound to come eventually which will appear in retrospect to be the beginning of the end.

The savings rate in China may be 50% or so but that is not because the workers save that much. The bulk of the saving takes place at the corporate level in the form of retained earnings.
That makes it also much easier for the provincial government (which is where decisions are really made) to direct to savings into whatever investment they see fit.


I read an analysis of Chinese saving patterns which indicated the reason for the enormously high Chinese savings rate is that all sectors of the economy are saving money at a high rate - corporations, governments, and individuals.

It's not unusual for countries to have one sector which has a high savings rate, but it is very unusual for all economic sectors to be saving large amounts of money. It means China as a whole has huge amounts of capital available to whatever it wants to do.

you're right.
clearly my info was outdated


The home-owners in New London (Connecticut) might also think the '... government sweeps in at a whim and orders the razing of entire neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal'. You can read the USSC judgment at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-108.ZS.html

More than 90 percent of China’s households own the home they live in, while more than a quarter own a second property, a report from Asian brokerage CLSA said.

This is truly astounding -

Let's start with the total number of households - about 350 million (that's approximate and from 2005, but it will serve our purspose here.

If 90% own their homes - that's about 315 million homes owner occupied
If 25% own second homes, that's another 87.5 million homes available for rent or use as vacation homes.

Let's assume that the 35 million who don't own are all renting from that stock of 87.5 million second homes.

That would leave over 50 million homes to be used as vacation homes, or about 1 in 7 households wealthy enough to maintain a second home.

This means that either, China is the most fabulously wealthy place on the planet or we should take the statement by "Asian brokerage CLSA" with more than a grain of salt.

I don't think those figures on their own necessarily tell you that much. For instance even those Africans that live below the UN poverty line own their houses outright - mainly because they built them out of mud bricks themselves.

This is an interesting concept. Ownership of land determined by adding value, the person who adds the value inuring ownership.


It's a crap concept. And just who gets to determine what "adding value" means? Is it strictly $$$? This is just more of the same mindset that equates destroying land with "development".

Chinese homes are not necessarily (or often) built to the standards of Western homes.

Homes in China:

China has the world's most houses: 276,947,962 in 1990. In the north, where wood is scarce, dwellings and walls have traditionally been made of stone, tamped mud or sun-dried bricks reinforced with straw. In the south homes have traditionally been made with wood, brick or woven bamboo.

Chinese homes typically have one large space rather than separate rooms. Parents often share rooms with their children and some people spend hours in the bathroom because it is the only place where they can get some privacy. Homes generally don’t have yards. People often don't even know what they are

Older houses often times don't have a kitchen and bathroom. People wash in basin and relieve themselves in chamber pots. The cooking is done on iron stoves in the living room, in separate shack outside the main house, or a “wall kitchen,”

Some 35 million Chinese still live in caves and over a 100 million people reside in houses with one or more walls built in a hillside.

Many urban families live in apartments, where each person has an average of 12 square feet of space (the size of a small Western closet), and four generations live together.

Many apartments don’t have elevators. Even those that do the elevators are often turned off and residents have have to use the stairs.

So, they may not be much by western standards, but most Chinese do own their own homes.

Some 35 million Chinese still live in caves

Wow, now that really is astounding!

Sometimes I'm almost a little envious of the way you can build your home in any way you like (can afford) in the non-Western countries. Planning permission is all fine and dandy but often at the expense of inventiveness / resourcefulness :-(

And here's a commentary on how fast things are changing in China:

People were only allowed to own or buy homes starting in the 1980s. In the 1990s people who lived in company housing were given the opportunity to buy housing they rented. Workers in Shanghai, for example, were allowed to buy the 20-square-meter apartments—they previously rented for 60 cents a month— from their companies for about $3,600 (about one tenth of their market value) so the government could raise money.

With home ownership, the Chinese have gone through in a decade what Americans went through in half a century. In 1998, when the government launched reforms to commercialize the housing market in urban areas few people owned a house or apartment but these days many people do. By 2007, 80 percent of urban households were homeowners, up from 17 percent on the 1980s.

Actually, the primary residence figure is not all that astounding, though it does seem high. Years ago - I'm not finding it on line - there was an article in The Economist that had a table of home ownership versus income levels for a range of countries. On the whole the higher people's income, the less home ownership there was, ranging (IIRC) from the high 70s (percent) in south Asia down to the mid 30s (Switzerland or someplace like that.) This is counterintuitive because it doesn't work quite the same way within a country. Nevertheless, in rich countries, people don't have to build their own homes out of mud bricks, concrete blocks, sheet metal, or whatever else is handy - and they don't then have to chain themselves to that building (be it ever so humble) and its patch of real estate for life, because there are other options available.

...in rich countries, people don't have to build their own homes out of mud bricks, concrete blocks, sheet metal, or whatever else is handy

In rich countries, people aren't allowed to build their own homes out of mud bricks, concrete blocks, sheet metal, or whatever else is handy.

Even in Switzerland, if you could just buy a tiny piece of poor quality farmland from someone, and then nail together a shack out of old pieces of wood, used bricks, packing crates, and scrap sheet metal, you too could own your own home. But the authorities will not allow it.

In the United States, one big problem is that many areas impose a minimum lot size which is ridiculously large - e.g. 1 or 2 acres. This first of all increases the cost beyond what the average family can afford, and second assures that it will be impossible to provide low cost public transit without heavy subsidies.

However, both of those results are often deliberate. Affluent towns and suburbs don't want poor people living within their jurisdiction.

In rich countries, people aren't allowed to build their own homes

Madison County, Indiana: 72-Year-Old Man Evicted Off His Property For Living ‘Too Simply’

Indiana’s Madison County officials are forcing a man out of his home — a recreational trailer — because he’s breaking several ordinances and health care violations while living the ‘simple’ life.

72-year-old Dick Thompson isn’t sure if he wants to fight or give up.

“I want to get the hell out of here right now — too much hate,” Thompson says one minute.

“I think it’s a bunch of bull,” he says another, vowing to stay.

Thompson faces eviction from his 38 acres in Madison County. The county lawyer tells 24-Hour News 8 it’s because Thompson is breaking too many rules, laws and ordinances; Thompson has no water, no sewer and no electricity in his recreational trailer that he calls home.

“I’m a country boy,” explains Thompson. “I just want to be left alone.”

Thompson is mighty fine, thank you very much — along with his dog, Ace, his horse, Fritz, his bird, Sunshine, and many more.

What does tjhis mean, 'China's households'? It seems to me that, if there are four generations (or even three) in each household, numbers of homeowners is a bit less than we would imagine from a superficial read. Also, comments below indicate that this is not land ownership.


But China will be the big story in 2011.

Oh yeah! Heard a person interviewed on CNBC a couple weeks back (sorry don't remember the name) and he said 3 out of every 5 dollars China spends is on construction, which no country has ever been able to sustain for very long.

Interesting that both the US and China have so many living units that are empty, and unaffordable. Also food prices are rising here and in China, while wages remain stagnant. Is it an economic sign of being post peak oil? Is it a vision of a future in which millions are homeless and unable to afford enough food? I think that's where the unrest will come from. People find ways to find shelter, with relatives or friends, but make food unaffordable due to lack of work or lack of sufficient money from work, and that's the stuff of unrest.

Just look to the food riots of 08. In Mexico they rioted due to the increased cost of tortillas, as just one example.

The exodus of laborers from the cities back to China's farmlands represents the beginning of the reversal of the largest migration event in history.

Hopefully it will also mark the beginning of such a reversal world-wide, since, as Astyk points out, we need a lot more hands on the farm and a lot more people closer to sources of food if we're going to keep most people fed in a post-PO, acceleratingly GW world.

Let's hope, though, that the newly ruralized do not follow in their predecessors footsteps of producing many more children than their urban counterparts do. Perhaps continued influxes of workers from the cities will reduce the need for the child-labor that many large peasant families represent.

If you think having riots in Greece over the pension retirement age being raised is bad, just wait till riots break out in Beijing and other cities over a 90 cent bowl of noodle soup now costing four dollars due to food shortages, and a runaway inflation problem.

It seems that there are already many protests in China. More than 200 a day!


Thanks for the link ET. At the end of that presentation I found:

China's 14 Dominoes Of Destruction or "How a China Crash would unfold".

And at the end of that one:

10 Ways A China Blow-Up Will Slam America

Ron P.

I visit China several times a year as part of my job. I would say that I am considered proficient in the Chinese language.

Some facts that I am aware of:

a)Even in Shanghai, a person can buy a square meal for USD1.
b)An article mentioned that it costs RMB800 to go home. This is true only if a person tries to fly home at almost full fare. Most of the time, a migrant worker will take a long distance bus or train, which is relatively inexpensive. E.g. a first class train ticket from Shanghai to Suzhou (around 120km) on the high speed train is around USD4. A standing ticket, whereby you don't have a seat, is probably 1/3 of that.
c)A local shared with me that she could only get a 50% loan on her purchase of the first home.
d)My local colleagues wouldn't blink at the thought of spend 1 or 2 months pay on a new mobile phone.

My conclusion is, sure China has its fair share of problems, pollution, corruption, inflation, etc. but I would hardly think that a collapse is imminent.

Peak Earl wrote up thread.

Heard a person interviewed on CNBC a couple weeks back (sorry don't remember the name) and he said 3 out of every 5 dollars China spends is on construction,

You saw the pictures of the empty cities. And the cities that are occupied have uncountable empty apartments, office space and stores, most of them owned by the builders who still owe the banks for their construction.

I take it that on your trips to China you have analyzed this situation and have figured out the probable outcome. No collapse? Well how do you see them extricating themselves from this mess?

Ron P.

No imminent collapse <> No problem.

I've visited places like Shanghai for 10 years now. My friend just sold her apartment for a 100% gain after 3 years. On the other hand, there are buildings that take forever (> 5 years) to complete and appears abandoned.

China is a country of contrasts. It'll be good to visit and see for yourself, instead of relying on journalists who do not even speak the language.

Personally, I have not seen really seen empty cities. The places i tend to visit are the coastal cities and they are really crowded. Based on reports I've read, typically, "empty cities" are like 3rd or 4th tiered cities in China, e.g. Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

I just visited China in October, saw some countryside as well as large cities. Though I was expecting to, I didn't see any giant empty malls or housing developments. Maybe I missed them. But I did get the very strong feeling that the U.S. clearly peaked in the 70s and that the future is happening now in Asia.

I find the comments interesting too about what people think could possibly happen to all the developers holding mortgages on these empty developments, and how that would eventually ripple out to the banks and collapse everything. Well in the good old USofA, when TSHTF in 2008, TPTB just changed the ages-old accounting and finance rules and BAU for TPTB was maintained. Don't you think in China they would have even more leeway to make wholesale tweaks to their economic and financial system to absorb a bursting bubble? The US did it in front of the entire world with nary a protest, surely the totalitarian Chinese could do something similar as needed.

Brent finished up $.05 at $94.06 according to International Gas and Oil Newspaper today. In addition, zFacts.com data reveals that the US National debt will pass through the $14 trillion level tomorrow. This debt does not include losses and debts at FHA, Frannie, Freddie and the FED. If included, the National debt would be a trillion or two higher as real estate prices are still trending down and foreclosures trending up according to most commentators.

Paul Krugman acknowledges peak oil and the finite world in the New York Times.


And those supplies aren’t keeping pace. Conventional oil production has been flat for four years; in that sense, at least, peak oil has arrived. True, alternative sources, like oil from Canada’s tar sands, have continued to grow. But these alternative sources come at relatively high cost, both monetary and environmental.

He still thinks, however, that this is not the end of economic growth. Well, maybe so, but his acknowledgement that peak oil has arrived seems like something of a milestone, coming from a relatively mainstream economist.

The next step is for mainstream economists is to acknowledge that economic growth is ending or should be ending. For the middle class and below in the U.S., income growth has been virtually stagnant for decades. The real quality of life has probably gone downwards. For those who make their money on Wall Street, however, it still seems like we are in a period of endless wealth and riches.

Krugman still has hope. It's the reason I don't trust him.

There are lots of good commentators out there on the net on our general situation; I would include, off the top of my head, Max Keiser, Zero Hedge, Ilargi/Stoneleigh, Dave Cohen, for starters.

None of these people/sites are anywhere near the mainstream, which means they are generally more intelligent and perceptive.

As far as the NYT, occasionally you'll see some good stuff out of Frank Rich, Bob Herbert, but that's about it.

I put Krugman in the same general category I put someone like Tom Friedman: people who like to hear themselves talk (or write) but have nothing meaningful to say.

Yeah, MSM pundits can't stray far off the reservation of "everything will be just fine if we just do xyz..." The newspapers couldn't sell add revenue if their readers were completely bummed out about the end of their happy consuming and happy motoring lifestyles.

Thanks for the list of alternatives, not all of which I am familiar with.

At least Friedman and now Krugman are starting to see and talk about at least slivers of the important big realities we face.

Just in case you aren't able to find the sites:
Ilargi and Stoneleigh are behind The Automatic Earth blog: http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/
Dave Cohen, Decline of the Empire: http://peakwatch.typepad.com/decline_of_the_empire/

Mind you I am attracted to pessimist thinking, I am sure there's plenty of good stuff out there that's more upbeat but in an honest way.

In an interview with Max Keiser on a recent Automatic Earth, Stoneleigh makes the assertion that oil sands net energy is close to zero. I really don't think this is true. I've seen most analysts put the EROEI of oil sands at around 6, quite a bit higher than zero.

I also find a lot of things on The Automatic Earth questionable. You can't hardly be wrong predicting a crash will happen eventually in this situation, but I feel like they underestimate the inertia of BAU. They are good at pointing out the problems but their analysis is often off too doomy, or rather perhaps what is occuring is a slow, steady decline (the "new normal" of 20-30 year olds living with their parents, 9% unemployment, etc) and they expect a violent crash.

As for Krugman's article, it makes me wonder - what is "economic growth" and what are we actually measuring when we use numbers like GDP? If they are unconnected to the real, physical world, then what good are they? Either Krugman thinks we will suddenly have tons of alternative energy or he thinks economic growth is not connected to the physical world. Or perhaps all those poor and middle class people just don't actually matter to the economy?

I've always valued TAE as a news resource - if you want a whole spectrum of opinions on economics it's to be found there. Even the hyper optimists, if only to get raked over coals. Don't really grok econ but their stance is definitely Doomish; I'd look to historical examples as usual. While we're at they're not off base recommending that people do some Transition type preps, even if the worst of it is a widespread case of Lost Decades.

Speaking of news I've started using Google Reader to read all my blogs, and it's great. Glad to see people reffing Dave Cohen too, very industrious and sharp dude.

No, that's true, the EROEI of oil sands is close to 6. It takes about 1 Mcf of natural gas to produce 1 barrel of synthetic crude oil, which has about 6 times the energy content.

More to the point from the standpoint of the investors, that 1 Mcf of natural gas can be bought for about $4 at this point in time, while the barrel of oil can be sold for $90, and rising.

RMG... I ask, and not sarcastically: do you have any financial num's to put to the environmental mitigation which will eventually be required?

Perhaps on a per barrel basis?


While we're at it, what's the replacement cost of all that fresh water that's consumed in tar-sands processing?

We love to hate oils sands.

RMG, correct me on the numbers, but the idea is right.

At this moment the industry has right to extract 1.8% (one point eight) of the flow of Athabasca River. They are not using even this allotment. The 1,600 ducks that landed on Syncrude ponds: enormous number of migratory birds die in conventional oil and gas rig flares and obviously in hydro lines. The damage downstream is so far accounted as some distorted amphibians and fish. It is FAR from being environmental disaster it's presented as. I'd speculate that a large city (and Toronto for sure for Toronto haters :-) ) exerts larger environment impact than oil sands.

what's the replacement cost of all that fresh water that's consumed in tar-sands processing?

Zero. The Athabasca River just keeps flowing north toward the Arctic Ocean. The oil sands currently take less than 2% of the flow of the river, and there are few other uses for it. Compared to the size of the river, it is hardly noticeable.

Why assume that mitigation is possible? Any evidence of sites that have been successfully remediated? Planting a handful of spindly trees in oily soil doesn't count. Not every problem can be solved by throwing money at it. We may learn this the hard way.

Planting a handful of spindly trees in oily soil doesn't count.

A handful of spindly trees in oily soil is the natural state of the oil sands. It's oil sands, after all.

The oil sands area lacks soil fertility, the ground is boggy, and the subsurface is saturated with oil. The oil leaks out of the riverbanks into the rivers. The trees are rather spindly. They are mostly black spruce and jack pine - not exactly the majestic redwoods of California or the giant cedars of British Columbia. Most of the forest burned down in massive forest fires a few decades ago. It does that regularly under natural conditions - once or twice per century.

The reclamation plan is to turn it into buffalo pasture, which the provincial government considers to be an improvement.

So now, oh holly RMG, you have become an ecological biologist and have accurately assessed the entire region an come to the absolute and firm conclusion that it is entirely and completely devoid of any life form of any interest to anyone anywhere ever, amen.

How very, very convenient...for someone.

You are just so completely and utterly full of bullox on this, it is really beyond imagination.

I didn't say the region was devoid of life forms of interest to anyone. I saw a lot of bears and moose, and heard a lot of wolves. It's just that the trees didn't do much for me, scenery-wise. And let's keep in mind it's not pristine wilderness, it's commercial forest and the trees are scheduled to be clear-cut every few decades.

The thing is that the bears and moose and wolves didn't really seem to mind the oil sands operations at all. In fact they liked them. The bears would get into our camps and wander around the hallways, the moose would feel an urge to bang their heads against our our equipment and damage it, and the wolves would follow the pipeline routes into town and eat people's dogs.

Frankly the animals were doing really well up there, regardless of the oil sands projects. However, they were a bit more aggressive than I would like. People had to watch their step so they didn't get attacked by something bigger than them, and dogs seemed to be considered fair game by a lot of the carnivores.

"it's not pristine wilderness"

Well, since there is no such thing as a 'pristine wilderness,' I am sure you are right there. The general line of argument here, though, is similar to the old "she was already a fallen women, so it doesn't matter that she was raped."

For the rest, that you pretend to have some insight into the level of happiness of bears and wolves certainly reinforces the sense that you are just willing to put a very happy face on nearly every aspect of tar sands, no matter how absurd you end up sounding.

And I notice you are dodging the issue of what kind of financial interests you have in these developments.

Well, I own shares in oil sands companies, but I also own shares in uranium companies, coal companies, electric companies, railroads, bus companies, liquor stores, you name it. I'm into diversification.

But no automobile companies. That would be foolish.

Thanks for coming clean.

I certainly agree about the car companies (though the US ones do keep getting bailed out--we'll see how long that can last).

This picture is a good representation of what the landscape is from up close:



And this is what it looks like from above


This is how oil sands naturally leak into Athabasca River:


About 160 square miles (400 km^2) of surface have been developed, mined etc this way or another. That is less than area of Queens and Brooklyn combined. There are several 30-60km^s open pit coal mines in Germany...

In northern Alberta 400 km^2 would sustain maybe as many as a few grizzlies, a dozen or two black bears, one wolf per 1000 km^2, a few dozen moose, a few hundred beavers - and these are pests, because they flood forest and kill it. There may be hundreds of mosquitoes per square meter, though.

I am not saying there are no issues, but they should be taken in perspective.

Yes, that's exactly what it looks like close up. Spindly trees trying to eke out a living in the poor soil, swamps full of dead trees, and oil naturally leaking out of the riverbanks and into the river. I can think of a lot of nicer forests to walk through.

Unfortunately, the environmentalists have promoted an image of some kind of pristine forest right out of Disneyland, untouched by man until the nasty oil sands companies arrived. That's not what it is.

Alberta has hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of this kind of scruffy forest. It also has parks bigger than Switzerland which look a lot nicer than the oil sands areas. I tend to take my vacations in the parks.

...bush, eh'...close to a million square miles of it coast to coast.

Yes, we like to call it "bush", and there's over a million square miles of it in Canada. It really seems like a lot.

In northern Alberta 400 km^2 would sustain maybe as many as a few grizzlies, a dozen or two black bears, one wolf per 1000 km^2, a few dozen moose, a few hundred beavers - and these are pests, because they flood forest and kill it. There may be hundreds of mosquitoes per square meter, though.

I am not saying there are no issues, but they should be taken in perspective..

Huh? On what do you base those ridiculous numbers?! Did you pull them out from some part of your anatomy where the sun don't shine? That's a steaming pile of freshly laid yak dung! Here's your perspective...before and after.


Try reading some of the scientific papers on Bio diversity in that area and the impacts that the mining of tar sands really have.


People who make sh!t up to defend their POV really p!ss me off! Beavers are pests?! @#$%@#&&!!!
For the record not even the mosquitoes are PESTS they are part of the food chain and a necessary part of the ecosystem.

It's just tit-for-tat with the Beavers, cuz' they called us pests first. Then we got all pissy and nasty and had to prove WE could build bigger dams and ruin entire forests, and not just juice up little valleys, etc.. AND make them uninhabitable to boot.

We're #1!

No, those numbers look to be in the right ballpark for Northern Alberta.

Alberta's Grizzly Bear Count

Grizzly density ranged from 18 bears per 1000 km2 in the Waterton region, to just less than 5 bears per 1000 km2 in the foothills surrounding Robb, Alberta.

Waterton is in extreme southwestern Alberta, which is much better habitat for bears. The oil sands area would be at the low end of the scale. So, it is true, you would expect to find no more than a handful of grizzly bears in an area that size. The other animals (black bears, moose, wolves) are in a similar position - there's not enough food to support a large population of them.

As I keep saying, the forest in the oil sands area is rather scruffy, the land is boggy, and it's not really great habitat for animals. People have gotten this image of some kind of wonderful wildlife area, but I can think of lots better places for the the animals.

This mountain town I live in for instance, is better habitat. We typically have 6-8 bears, 3 wolves, a couple of cougars, and about 300 elk living in the neighborhood. It makes you think twice before opening the back door when you hear a noise in the middle of the night. And you don't ever leave a BBQ chicken sitting out on the back deck - you'll have a back yard full of bears by morning.

No, those numbers look to be in the right ballpark for Northern Alberta.

So a habitat that used to be able to support 6000 grizzlies and now only has about 500 due to habitat destruction caused by humans doesn't strike you as problematic? Or even more reason to apply the precautionary principle and tread even more carefully on the environment?

From your link:

It is estimated that 200 years ago 6000 grizzly bears
roamed throughout Alberta, including the prairie and
parkland portions of the province.
However, with settlement,
agriculture, other industrial use and population growth, the grizzly entered a
population decline. By 1984 the population estimates hovered between 700-
1000 bears, low enough for Alberta’s Endangered Species Conservation Committee
to recommend listing them as “Threatened” under Alberta’s Wildlife
Act, a recommendation the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development
has yet to adopt.
Today, using the best science available, a DNA census technique has estimated
that only about 490 grizzlies remain in our province, and that they
are mostly restricted to the mountains and foothills.

This rapid reduction of Alberta’s grizzly bears is due to a loss of habitat
and increasing rates of human-caused mortality associated with increasing
amounts of human activity in Grizzly bear habitat (i.e. recreation, industrial
development, roads and other access infrastructure)

The numbers may be right but that kinda misses the point doesn't it? It seems your goal is to make sure that there will be no grizzlies left in another 200 years. Let's exterminate all those pesky beavers while were at it!

So a habitat that used to be able to support 6000 grizzlies and now only has about 500 due to habitat destruction caused by humans doesn't strike you as problematic?

Before we get too far, let me point to the state flag of California. It has a grizzly bear on it. The grizzly bear is the state animal of California. They originally had at least 10,000 of them. How many grizzly bears are left in the wild in California? Zero. They shot the last one in 1922.

In fact, grizzly bears used to roam as far south as central Mexico and as far east as the Mississippi river. Today, they are found in only 5 states, 4 of which border on Canada.

But the point I was trying to make is that the oil sands area is not good grizzly bear habitat. In fact Alberta as a whole is not good grizzly habitat. On the other hand, next door British Columbia is perfect for grizzlies. BC Wildlife Branch estimates that 10,000 to 13,000 Grizzly bears still live in British Columbia. It's the lack of roads in the mountains and the presence of salmon in the rivers that make it good for them. Alberta has too many roads and no salmon.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division
has serious doubts about the estimate of 6000 grizzlies in Alberta 200 years ago.

An historical estimate of approximately 6000 grizzly bears in Alberta in the 1800s (Herrero 1992) was based on the unrealistic assumption of at least one bear/100 km2 across the entire province. Grizzly bears were likely absent from much of northeastern Alberta and pristine density likely varied substantially according to local productivity and other factors. We do not know how many grizzly bears were in Alberta at the time of European settlement: probably a few thousand, certainly many more than the current population but likely fewer than 6000.

FMagyar, you are right, it saves a step of discussion when the numbers are referenced. I will give references to numbers I post from now on. Promise.

Then I will start a rant..

The actual estimates of animal population are just that, estimates. In general the gov't and agencies collect them from whatever data they can put their hands on: hunting reports, hunting results, radio tagging, aerial surveys, baiting, whatever works.

I suspect most readers of this blog live in populated areas; sometimes it is difficult to appreciate the scale of desolation here. France, Germany, Britain and Italy have total area of 1,450,000 sq.km and Population ca 270 million (wikipedia).

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have area of almost 2 million sq km and population of less than 6 million, out of which more than half live in 5 larges cities. When you drive north out of Winnipeg you see a road sign: Flin Flon 783 km. Flin Flon has 6,000 people.

Remember the news about longest beaver dam ever found - it was found from Google maps. In a place nobody has ever been to, not that far from Athabasca. Beavers are pests, yes, they destroy forests. Mosquitoes are not really a part of food chain, because there isn't really anything above them in food chain in meaningful numbers.

The only real issue are the migratory birds: 1,600 died in Syncrude ponds a few years back. Hundreds of millions die from 'other causes' http://www.fws.gov/birds/mortality-fact-sheet.pdf.

The loss of habitat is 400 sq. km. now, and will certainly expand in the future. On average 25,000 sq.km. of forest burn in Canada every year (website actually has a typo on the first page, one has to drill down to get right number) http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/auth/english/maps/environment/naturalhazards/forest_fires. The area cleared by forestry is roughly 10,000 sq.km. per year.

In summary, the impact of oil sands development is significantly less than we are made to believe by mainstream media. I sound like a schill, even though I am not.

What bothers me most about the oil sands business is the pollution in the river and the ill effects on the indigenous people living downstream - increased cancer rates, etc.

The defenders of the project insist that the oil has always leached into the river so this is no different than before. I have yet to see anyone bring forth data showing that the river was just as polluted before oil sand development as it is afterwords. I can't see how the level of disruption in the river's watershed could help but greatly increase the level of pollution over what it was before.

Yes, there is pollution around the development and downstream in the form of heavy metals and policyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.


The pollution is mostly airborne: bitumen is blown around from the mine and then falls on the surface within 50 km radius. Then when snow melts the contents of the particulates transfers to watershed.

According to the study 11,000 tons of particulates, mostly hydrocarbons were distributed during one winter within the 50 km radius, metals (total of several tons) coming mostly from coke and fly ash. The amounts of heavy metals estimated by this study are smaller than emissions of heavy metals reported by Syncrude. Emissions of some metals are down compared to what they were in the past. The concentrations of the toxins in water did not exceed drinking quality guidelines.

There are two larger settlements downstream, one of 400, not far from the sands and the other of 1000, some 200 km downstream (north) of oils sands.

It's true that oil has always leaked into the Athabasca River from the Athabasca Oil Sands. CuriousCanuck posted a picture of it, above.

The river cuts right through the middle of the oil sands where the ground is completely saturated with oil. The riverbanks are black with oil. The earliest explorers mentioned it, and complained that in some places so much oil was oozing into the river that they couldn't land their canoes.

If it wasn't a naturally occurring phenomenon, it would be considered and environmental disaster and we would be spending billions to clean it up. Actually - we are spending billions to clean it up, but we call it oil sands mining.

The reports of elevated cancer rates downstream of the oil sands seem to be largely an illusion - at least the Alberta Health Department and Alberta Cancer Board think so. Here's the Alberta Cancer Board report .

Overall findings
• The two cholangiocarcinomas in Fort Chipewyan were within the expected range.
• The cancer rate overall (51 cancers in 47 individuals) was higher than expected (39).
• Higher than expected numbers of cancers of the blood and lymphatic system, biliary tract cancers as a group, and soft tissue cancers were found.
• These findings were based on a small number of cases and could be due to chance, increased detection or increased risk in the community.

The Royal Society of Canada recently released an Expert Panel Report on Environmental and Health Impacts of Canada's Oil Sands Industry. Here's the Executive Summary and here's the Full Report . Warning - they are PDFs and the full report is 414 pages long.

Impacts of oil sands contaminants on downstream residents: There is currently no credible evidence of environmental contaminant exposures from oil sands reaching Fort Chipweyan at levels expected to cause elevated cancer rates.

Of course in all these studies they also come to the usual conclusion that "More study is required".

The health authorities have a problem with statistical variations in disease rates in small, remote communities like Fort Chipewyan (pop. 1000). First, there are too few cases to get a statistically valid sample. Second, the reporting is often inaccurate. When they went looking for the six cases of cancer that Dr. Connor first reported, they could only find two that were actually valid cases of the cancer he reported.


Remember the news about longest beaver dam ever found - it was found from Google maps. In a place nobody has ever been to, not that far from Athabasca. Beavers are pests, yes, they destroy forests. Mosquitoes are not really a part of food chain, because there isn't really anything above them in food chain in meaningful numbers.

You really don't seem to understand complex interactions and co-evolution between multiple species. Here is a link to a Nature article proclaiming that eliminating all mosquitoes would benefit humanity and nature wouldn't miss them.

You would probably find comfort and justification for your point of view from it. However you would be wrong, it is a deeply flawed and naive conclusion. Fortunately there were many comments to the article that point out these flaws in thinking.


As for beavers destroying forests, that is beyond ridiculous! Especially when compared to the impact of humans and their technology.

Beaver Dams Create Healthy Downstream Ecosystems

Beaver's impact on environment

Obviously mosquitoes are part of the ecosystem. But at the concentrations encountered in the North, they really serve mostly themselves, same with black flies. It's highlighted in the Nature article.

As far as beavers are concerned, I am standing behind what I said. In the absence of wolves and still low numbers of coyotes (the only predators) the populations explode. The argument about downstream is short sighted, next family moves downstream and they jump down every generation. We've seen it first hand. Impassable muck. Dead plants reduce amount of oxygen in the water and suffocate all animals. The ponds are devoid of animal life, pond starts turning into peat bog. The only animals left are selected kinds of insects. In Canada it is a standard procedure to build water bypasses to prevent or reduce flooding, just like this http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex3469.

The article from Poland (actually I've been around the lake Wigry in the area as kid) shows a small forest in NE Poland, country with profound loss of forest and all sorts of ecosystems, with enormous damage during WW II. There is virtually no undisturbed forest in Poland and pretty much any species is protected this way or another.

Obviously, I agree that ecosystems are complex, interdependent, we mess up with them a lot and messed up a lot. But I'd venture that in the grand scheme of things, boreal forests in Canada and Siberia belong to the healthier ecosystems in the world. Oil sands are a small (literally, despite their scale) price to pay for oil. We agree though that what we do with the oil is another matter and as humans we are not very smart.

It makes you think twice before opening the back door when you hear a noise in the middle of the night.

Oh man, I know we are trying to cut down on excess comments but that one was a real LOL in the context. City dwellers just don't enjoy that sort of experience in life.


I don't think anybody has any hard numbers on reclamation costs at this point in time, although the Alberta government is currently sitting on $721 million in reclamation deposits.

However, how much could it cost to reclaim peat bogs and black spruce, particularly since the companies don't have to restore it to original condition? The land is not protected wilderness, it is commercial forest. If they convert it into buffalo pasture, the provincial government would consider it good enough. Say, for instance, $10 billion to convert it to grazing land and plant alfalfa. It doesn't have to be good grazing land.

The size of the resource is about 175 billion barrels, so that would work out to a little less than 6 cents per barrel.

Yes, I think they can afford it.

If RMG says it's 6, it's almost certainly closer to 1 '-)

No really, he has great things to say about a lot of issues, but on tar sands, he always seems to dissolve into pollyannish, hear-no-evil, cheerleading mode.

Methinks he has some skin in the game.

I've been in the oil sands, seen it close up, run the economics, and evaluated the environmental impacts. I've done research in it, and while the project I was on was basically a failure, we learned a lot. Other research projects eventually came up with methods that worked very well to produce oil from the oil sands. Overall, the research cost about $1 billion, but it was successful.

A lot of the reports from environmental groups seem to be talking about a completely different boreal forest than the one I have been in, and the numbers the nay-sayers are throwing around bear no relation to the numbers I have seen. In reality, at current oil prices the economics of the oil sands are overwhelmingly positive, and the environmental problems aren't nearly as bad as I have seen in energy projects elsewhere (notably in the US.)

The reason there is so much interest in the oil sands is that we are rapidly running out of alternatives. The oil sands are the best game in town at this point in time. The alternatives all have their problems, and most don't have enough scalability to make much of a difference.

Not that oil sands are going to stop global oil production from peaking, but they are going to make a significant difference on how fast things go downhill.

So are you saying there are absolutely no down sides to tar sands?

So are you saying there are absolutely no down sides to tar sands?

No, I'm saying they're economic at current prices, and there are few other alternatives which are economic. And oil sands projects are not as environmentally unfriendly as they are painted - it's just the sheer size of them that frightens people.

As I like to tell my friends when they ask me what I think of "dirty" oil from the oil sands, "There's no such thing as clean oil".

Crude oil is not a green product, it only comes in different shades of black.

Thank you for something approximating an honest response.

Tarry 'oil' sands are indeed a particularly dark shade of black on many levels, but it is certainly true that most of the largish reservoirs of anything like oil are pretty damn ugly shades of black.

Is that figure based on production by SAGD or mining of tar sands? If it is mining, then what about the input of diesel fuel for all those huge trucks carting the tar sands to the extractors? And what about all the electricity used by the mining and conversion process? And what about the energy cost of reclaimation. And what about the use of greater amounts of nat. gas used by the refiners to make usable fuel like gasoline or kerosene/jet fuel? Is all this included in your 6 EROEI?
The figures I have seen on TOD is more like 4 to 5 EROEI for tar sands.

Actually, I checked the National Energy Board web site and it appears that some major progress in energy efficiency has been made in the last few years. The NEB estimates that an in-situ project would now consume 1 Mcf of gas for each barrel of oil produced, and a mining project 0.5 Mcf per barrel. That would give in-situ projects an EROEI of 6 and mining projects an EROEI of 12.

I doubt the oil sands companies really care about EROEI because natural gas is curently trading at about $4/Mcf, and they can probably get it cheaper. At an EROEI of 6 that $4 worth of gas would produce about $90 worth of oil, and at an EROEI of 12 it would produce $180 worth of oil.

Talisman and SASOL are putting together a joint venture to build a gas-to-liquids plant in NE BC to turn NG into diesel fuel. It will have an EROEI of about 0.6, but at current natural gas prices it should still make money.

Refining is refining, regardless of what they produce. Remember, a lot of the feedstock on the international market is not a lot better than oil sands any more. People who think all the refineries are all running West Texas Intermediate are not paying attention to what is going on in world oil markets.

And what about all the electricity used by the mining and conversion process?

Oil sands plants generate their own electricity, and in fact are capable of generating a large surplus of electricity as a byproduct of producing heat for their steam generators, separators, and upgraders. They can sell the surplus electricity to the grid if they upgrade the transmission lines to the south.

The real quality of life has probably gone downwards. For those who make their money on Wall Street, however, it still seems like we are in a period of endless wealth and riches.

Pretty much:


Great link TKS! Included in your link is an excellent talk by James Hansen about Climate Change.

What got my attention at about 80 mins., in the Q&A session there is a question from the audience by someone who self identifies as a student of Peak Oil who raises the concern that about the time TSHF we will be undergoing profound economic turmoil due to PO.

The questioner states that by the time we actually see the evidence we won't have the resources to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Interestingly James Hansen responds by saying he doesn't expect economic collapse to occur in that time frame because we humans are a resourceful lot and he gives the example of the oil pipeline being built from Canada to the US to transport tar and shale oil products and concludes that there are enormous quantities of oil there.

Personally I think he is wrong about not having to worry about economic collapse due to Peak Oil. I doubt he has thought deeply about this issue or wrapped his head around the idea that peak oil is more about about production and flow and how feedback loops of demand destruction may impact the economy a decade down the road from now. In a similar vein he seems convinced about the viability of a massive nuclear power plant build out.

I wish he would listen to Tainter's lectures on the collapse of complex societies. At the end of the day I have immense respect for his solid science and his stance and courage for speaking directly to TPTB.

The irony about his sunny predictions on tar sands is that elsewhere he has said that if we don't shut down tar sands and coal production, we are absolutely and certainly doomed.

The irony about his sunny predictions on tar sands

I didn't quite get the impression that he was being at all sunny about this.

Rather that he seemed to expect fossil fuel based BAU to just keep on going with little interruption due to Peak Conventional Oil. I'm going to bet that he hasn't examined the possibly damaging consequences to an economy that must transition from a high EROEI fuel to a fuel source with diminishing returns in EROEI and how that might affect its robustness and resiliency.

At least with regards Peak Oil, Hansen seems to be a lot like the blind man who thinks the elephant is like a snake because he has grabbed onto its trunk. Not to mention being oblivious to all the black swans that might fly out of the elephant's arse... For some some reason this, lack of taking PO seriously, seems to be a trend among climate scientists.

Still, the man is among the best of the best!

In fact, I think one of the reasons he and some other climate scientist have not focused more on insisting that oil production be rapidly phased out is that they have read enough to have concluded that conventional oil has peaked, and that higher EROEI oil will remain mostly uneconomical.

But I may well be giving him too much credit.

Or I may be giving PO proponents too much credit.

In my darker hours, it certainly strikes me that subtly promoting the idea of peak oil would be a good way for oil companies to dodge the heavy hand of regulation that CC would seem to require.

I found it particularly interesting, though, that one of our premier experts recently took a position on the timing of PO that put him roughly in line with CERA.

Krugman needs to appreciate peak oil more.

He has been such a big advocate for more stimulus spending to cure the economy, but I don't really think that would work. So much of the stimulus money leaks out of the country that it just stimulates China & OPEC. These various projects require foreign oil, foreign manufactured products, etc.

If we build lots of roads then we are just importing lots of crude to make asphalt and diesel to run the construction equipment.

Mr. "A Day-Late, A Dollar Short" Krugman is nothing but a distraction now.

He is as irrelevant as our president - "a colossal distraction" as Dmitry Orlov would say.

We need to pay more attention to the US Attorney General's definition of "terrorist - (are you one ???) and the Pentagon's ‘War Games’ for our coming U.S. Economic Meltdown.

Denninger's unsurprising response:

We have spent 30+ years denying that we must develop our own energy infrastructure. We have lots of oil, both as actual oil and as things convertible to it (specifically coal.) Getting it and putting it in usable form ****es off the greenies, which includes Krugman. But the fact is this - high prices solve high prices, and when headline "inflation" is running 10%+ a year due to the push-through of high energy prices into collapsing demand due to the inelasticity of incomes, we will suddenly develop the will to convert coal to oil, to build nuclear plants, and to drill for oil everywhere we have it.

Bet on that, because it will happen. I'm certain of it. The problem is that it's likely to happen only when people are hungry enough to eat all the "Greenies."

Sure. Oil production in the USA has been in decline in the USA since 1971 solely due to 'the greenies'. Whether Democrats or Republicans are in the White house . . . oil production declines due to 'the greenies'. Even when the GOP had control of Congress, the Senate, the Whitehouse, and the Supreme Court; oil production declined and oil prices went up . . . due to 'the greenies'.

"The greenies" are apparently more powerful than any force known to mankind. Perhaps we can harness the energy of these mythical almighty 'greenies' and all our energy needs will be solved!

I don't begrudge oil companies for wanting to open up ANWR and everywhere else since that will make a lot of money for them. They are corporations and they want to make money. Fine. But what drives me crazy are the people that think all our problems will be solved if we just drill everywhere. This magical thinking is poisoning politics and preventing us from actually addressing the issue in a constructive manner.

Easy fix here: Call their bluff. Authorize and encourage drilling everywhere by making every barrel delivered from the previously forbidden zones tax-free.

Call their bluff...there is additional oil to be found and produced, but likely not enough to make a big difference, and the production and delivery price will be likely be high, so the fantasy of holding the line on prices or even knocking them back will be burst.

Then after even the most low-information voter can see that there is NOT a cornucopia of oil riches from those previously forbidden parcels, then maybe we can get on with discussing how to best deal with reality.

Side note: I was flipping around the channels and ran across a show featuring the operations of a logging camp in Alaska. It was interesting for a second until I saw that it was SP's Alska. I changed the channel when she gushed: "Every time a tree is cut down , 4 or 5 more grow in its place. Because these folks are such good stewards, this industry will be sustainable forever."

Yeah, I've been saying that for years. But the other day someone pointed out that it would not really work. These paranoid conspiracy theories are immune to defeat by facts.

Just look at the birthers. No matter what evidence is produced, the paranoid conspiracy theorists will just create a new paranoid conspiracy theory as to why it isn't working. They are hiding the oil! They won't let us drill under the white house! They are banning the techniques we need to use! They are not providing the full USGS data set!

Well, even if it doesn't convince the hardcore nuts, perhaps it will convince enough people (who will still never admit that they were wrong). As it is, the conspiracy theory doesn't hold up. From 2000 to 2006, the GOP controlled the House, the Senate, the White house, and the Supreme Court. The only place the Dems blocked with filibuster (as far as I know) was ANWR. The GOP could have opened up drilling pretty much anywhere else. Why didn't they bother? Because there really isn't much oil out there!

There definitely is more oil in the Gulf . . . which they are continuing to get despite whining about the continued ban near Florida. And there is more oil in some shale plays. But ALL of that plus ANWR will never bring us even close to the old peak. I just wish the API and the oil companies would be honest about that fact instead of tricking idiots into thinking all our problems will be solved if we just open ANWR and other places.

If he thinks it will help, Denninger is more than welcome to bite me.

He's right enough that SOME folks will develop the will to take these predictable, downhill routes (Everybody, Keep Digging!!) , while others may notice that these are just as shortsighted as what led us into this moshpit, and look for a higher road.. names will be called, and threats hurled.

All the anti-greenie stuff is a nice mix of 'Then they laugh at you, Then they fight you..'
(Then we all fall down..)

Very sobering interview on Democracy Now! Today with Harvard Med's Paul Epstein about climate, extreme weather and the growing health effects that are emerging with it. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/28/from_snowstorms_to_heat_waves_how

DR. PAUL EPSTEIN: Well, manufacturing doubt is what this is called, and there’s been a well-orchestrated, well-funded campaign to keep up this drumbeat of doubt about climate change. It’s affected the media. It’s affected the politicians. It’s affected some in the public. What’s interesting is it’s affected—it hasn’t affected much of the business community, that—particularly the insurance world, that’s well aware of the risks of climate change and the risks to their business of the extreme weather events. So, as we see this corporate agenda work its way through the media, it’s becoming a smaller group of corporations, really the fossil fuel industries, that keep manufacturing this drumbeat of doubt. And that’s all you have to do to keep the discussion off track, is to say that there is doubt.

Denninger use to argue for massive investments in other energy sources then oil, mostly nuclear power. USA do have a lot of oil even if the production is in decline and you have a lot of coal and with more nuclear power you could use lots of natural gas in cars, trucks and busses. The problem is that you burn thru your resource with little practical gain from it and invest far to little, inefficiency and short sightedness.

I think Denninger could balance a US energy budget if it were his main area of expertese, he is crazy in an interesting way. It is spot on that the greens destroyed nuclear power, probably with support from the coal lobby and sadly a nuclear industry that lacked the will to standardise. :-(

Ebb of stimulus funding could hit Texas workers hard

WASHINGTON – The federal stimulus payments that helped thousands of Texas workers ride out the recession will ebb next year, just as state legislators are likely to enact cuts that could hurt government workers and others who rely on public spending.

The Recovery Act has sent about $16.5 billion to Texas state agencies since 2009. The biggest impact has been on public education, where more than 27,000 jobs were supported by stimulus funds between July and September 2010, according to the Texas Education Agency. Some employers are warning that a new burst of layoffs is coming because states can't, or won't, make up for the stimulus. Texas highway contractors are already cutting workers as new contract bids decline. And the state would cut 550 child-protective workers if the Legislature doesn't replace $23 million in stimulus funds that has paid their wages and other expenses.

DAMMAM: Khalid Al-Baraik, Vice President of Oil Operations in the Northern Operations Area, has said that global oil reserves are estimated at 14 trillion barrels and that no more than one trillion barrels have been extracted from the reserve.
Giving the main address at the recent 2010 Saudi Forum for Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Technology held in the Eastern Province, Al-Baraik said that with current available technology 1.2 trillion proven barrels could be extracted, but he described the “true challenge” for scientists and engineers as “accessing 11.8 trillion barrels to meet urgent and ever-increasing global needs for hydro carbonates”.


I'll give the answer I did to the article. An "estimate" is a guess based on opinion of which this guy is no more qualified than I am. Nor is he any more qualified to "assume" future technologies can be developed. Therefore I "estimate" reserves at 100 trillion barrels and I "estimate" future techololgy will be able to extract 90% of that so no problem!! Press on!! Get a 2 MPG vehicle, buy the biggest fifth wheel, a boat, etc, etc.

I base my opinion on the same "thin air" he does. I "challenge" scientists to prove I am correct in my "estimate". And it's especially true since my entire livelihood depends on you using all of my product you can. There's an old saying "if wishes were fishes, we'd all have some".

My neighbors across the street just bought a Toyota Tundra (their third car), and said at the neighborhood pot luck that next year they will but a boat (to putz around in Lake Mead, driving from Albuquerque! ... And the year after that they would buy a camper to go in the bed of the pick up truck.

The hubby and wife are employed, but not what most people would call rich...above average middle class I guess.

I mentioned that my wife and I had investigated replacing out 65% AFUE furnace with a 90% model, and were also looking at replacement windows, and most of our neighbors were perplexed that we would spend the money. Many said that their houses had the same furnace as ours and that it worked fine and the bills were not that bad; one neighbor said that he liked his windows a little drafty because he liked fresh air.

Two people had had windows replaced, and one had gotten a 90% AFUE furnace, but most could care less...my neighbor who is on the recreational vehicle kick remarked that a new furnace was expensive 'but not sexy'.

Let's see here, for the cost of the Tundra, the boat, and the camper, he could get a 9% or 98% AFUE condensing gas furnace, a whole-house tankless water heater, new windows, and a white/reflective/cool roof job...and all that stuff would last longer than the toys he is set on buying, and would save them utility bills and add value to their house.

Who knows, if they got good deals on Windows (stayed away from the pricey Anderson and Pella brands) and got a good deal on the roof job and the furnace, maybe they could even have enough of the money that would have been spent on toys to make a start with a small PV system on the roof in addition to the other improvements listed above.

But that is not where people are right now, at least in my tiny neck of the woods.

I have learned from my wife to keep my mouth shut about PO or LTG....any of that talk embarasses her and I don't think she gets it or wants to...

The thing to keep in mind is how the upper classes continue to fool the middle classes (including the upper middle classes) into consumption. I don't think it's some sort of conspiracy or anything, it's just how the world, especially America, works.

The upper classes in this country can pay for a multimillion dollar home or a private jet for cash, and they still have millions left over. They then keep these hard and liquid financial assets very safe through trust funds, etc. The goal is to build up wealth that lasts through generations and can't be touched. Witness the assault on the estate tax.

The middle classes, on the other hand, have few financial assets and think they are rich (or are becoming rich) by going into debt to buy things they don't need that depreciate in time. It's a joke.

Investing in personal energy efficiency is reasonable but keep in mind that the upper classes are way beyond this as well. They can afford energy at any price.

So unless we can somehow make several millions of dollars, hang on to it, keep it growing, and pass it on to our children, well, most everything we do is pretty meaningless.

Peak oil doesn't matter! It's a minor inconvenience to the ruling classes, who might have to shell out a little bit more to labor once there are fewer people left to employ. In some ways it's a godsend for them, as it will eliminate the pesky middle class, the thorn in their side for the past 65 years.

how the upper classes continue to fool the middle classes

If I've learned anything over these past few years working with the public and peak oil, it is that everyone wants to be fooled.*

* There are a few people who hang out at this web site called "The Oil Drum" who seem to not want to be fooled but their numbers are so small that they can be considered statistically negligible. ;-)

"everyone wants to be fooled"

Perhaps this should be a new motto, or at least a quote up at the top right of the site.

This is the secret that every huckster knows (but what my wife found out while working with street level hucksters is that most of them are also the most gullible and eager to be fooled themselves).

Pretty much our whole economy is based on such hucksterism. Perhaps being fooled is an even more fundamental part of our identity than consumerism. It extends beyond commercial advertising to religion, fads of all sorts, cults (not different from religions, of course), and tons of daily, almost moment by moment self-deception and rationalization.

We are what Zarathustra would call the Drugvant, the "People of the Lie."

If I've learned anything over these past few years working with the public and peak oil, it is that everyone wants to be fooled.*

* There are a few people who hang out at this web site called "The Oil Drum" who seem to not want to be fooled but their numbers are so small that they can be considered statistically negligible. ;-)

They don't 'want to be fooled' . . . who wants that? But they want to believe in a particular story so they do believe in a particular story. Mankind is quite good at that. Just look at religion.

The Oil drum crowd is a mix of people that don't fit in with that. However, the Oil Drum crowd has its own quirks & personalities. Some oil drum people seem to want to believe in doom scenarios . . . and that is not much better than the optimist crowd. At least the optimist crowd are enjoying themselves a bit.

One could argue that a true doomer might as well just go out and enjoy him/herself. We are doomed anyway, so why buy a boring new window for the future.

"Some oil drum people seem to want to believe in doom scenarios . . . and that is not much better than the optimist crowd. At least the optimist crowd are enjoying themselves a bit."

That's a bit like saying "So what if they just found a malignancy in my lung, a lump in my breast, and my lymph nodes are a bit swollen. My heart's in great shape, I look good, and I can still get it up."

Most doomers on TOD arrived at that point gradually through thorough, ongoing 'diagnosis' of systemic indicators, not through belief in what some snake oil salesman is telling them.

When the stakes include the future of civilization, humanity and thousands of other species, IMO, it's better to be studiously paranoid than optimistically delusional.

Some of the rational doomers, like Leanan for example, probably did arrive at their opinions after reserarch, analysis and consideration. But the vast majority seem to have gotten there by dispositition. Extreme doomerism seems to me to be an exchnage of one putitanical religion for another. There are a large number of commenters here who rarely discuss energy issues at any depth or attempt to analyse facts or convince others.

There message is little more than "You will die a fiery death and deserve it", just like the other apocolyptic religions they claim to be rejecting.


That is not the message I hear. The message I hear from the doomers on this site is the view that things will get a lot worse, and may not get better in our lifetimes, so try to prepare.

You are just raising the same tired strawman who pops up whenever decreasing opportunities are discussed. Seeing a dark future and urging preparation does not equate to reveling in the destruction.


"There are a large number of commenters here who rarely discuss energy issues at any depth or attempt to analyse facts or convince others."

Examples? I submit that most doomer side folks here have been there, done that. If asked, they'll give you a long, well thought-out reasoning for their stance. Further, energy issues alone aren't why most of us think we're in for a big reset. Resource depletion in general, overpopulation, financial/credit systems, overshoot in most all of our systems, combined with the decline of the great enabler (energy), are all indicative of systemic breakdown. That the natural systems which support us are in decline has been documented for decades. Feedback loops and tipping points aren't imaginary phenomena. And history shows us that social systems have limited resiliance when faced with dramatic change.

I choose to not ignore that, for the first time in history, humankind now has the capacity to dramatically alter the life supporting capacity of the entire planet through environmental exploitation, climate change and/or nuclear exchange. This clearly is the path we are on.

Looking out of my window at a seriously beautiful snow covered mountainscape, it would be easy to have a blind faith that my bountiful life will continue and be passed on to my children. I've been compelled to decide otherwise.

Ghung: "When the stakes include the future of civilization, humanity and thousands of other species, IMO, it's better to be studiously paranoid than optimistically delusional."

Thanks for the seriously quotable quote!

When the stakes include the future of civilization, humanity and thousands of other species, IMO, it's better to be studiously paranoid than optimistically delusional.

If the majority of civilization cannot change from BAU, then perhaps they (we?) deserve to perish. Life, even if microbes on deep ocean floor smokers, will survive.

...just not Us.

Yes, we do want to be fooled.
Go to church, tune into Rush, call your broker - then tell me otherwise.

Andre, you're in good company with that observation. There's a medieval Latin proverb: mundus vult decipi, "the world wants to be deceived."

Dang, beat me by 2,000 years :-)

"Peak oil doesn't matter! It's a minor inconvenience to the ruling classes ..."

Yeah, Sachs, until their JHK "Moment of Convultion" arrives :-)


"Let's see here, for the cost of the Tundra, the boat, and the camper, he could get a 9% or 98% AFUE condensing gas furnace, a whole-house tankless water heater, new windows, and a white/reflective/cool roof job."

Jeez, H, what are we looking at? $50k, perhaps, for all of these toys.
Add in interest and operating costs, one could do all of the things you listed and install a nice PV system (on/off grid) as well, especially when incentives are considered. But this is what we, in the US, are programmed for. When it all becomes unsustainable, the frugal end up footing the bill. So it goes.


You are spot-on...in my haste I failed to enumerate all the issues I had with the 'splurging on toys' of my neighbor: Not just the initial purchase prices, but the interest, depreciation, insurance, maintenance, limited life spans, and so forth.

Your point speaks to why I get sooo irritated whenever I hear folks say they can't afford energy efficiency improvements...when they go out and buy all this depreciating foderol...my neighbor put it plainly:

"An efficient furnace sitting in my garage isn't sexy" meaning, To me, "fun".

People could still have their (simpler) pleasures: Instead of a Tundra, buy a (used good condition) Corolla; instead of a camper, buy a nice quality family tent and some necessary gear; and forget about buying a boat in Albuquerque...if you want to boat, drive your fuel-efficient car to Lake mead and rent a boat for the occasional times you would do that.

Many folks have priorities which are out-of-tune with reality.

Excellently put, but how about starting buy just buying your own damn house so you don't get swept into the growing masses of homeless and couch dwellers? This is my highest priority now, perhaps only a couple months away, barring major unexpected expenses (which always, however, do seem to pop up at the least convenient times).

If you don't own your house, I see little value in putting solar panels on it, or even an new furnace, windows, insulation...They will do you no good after you've been evicted from the premises.

I sympathize with your idea here, but no can do at the present time.

However, I would advocate that replacing a leaky roof or windows at the very least falls under necessary maintenance and would help facilitate me selling my house for the best possible price if my circumstances changed foe the worse.

Surely that is more logical than buying shiny depreciating toys which incur recurring insurance and maintenance and licensing costs?

Sorry, I meant 'your' in the generic sense, did not intend person advise directed at you.

And certainly I would never advocate skipping investments that prevent your property from losing value faster than it already is.

My more observant doomer side constantly reminds me that folks are still making poor, shortsighted choices; politically, financially, environmentally, educationally, etc. They keep doing so until they have few choices left, only predicaments, which is where we find ourselves. There's nothing 'sexy' about predicaments.

Yeah, there is some of this going on, but the range of choices that we have isn't unlimited. For example, if the car manufacturers stop making the oversized SUVs, then virtually nobody will be buying them new (I suppose those with real money can get a truck converted).

They're hardly even choices, since I don't think ANYBODY talking about shopping for a Pleasure Boat or a Camper has most people responding to them that 'You're making a bad investment, because the payback is, umm Never!'.. while with PV or Solar Heat, you'll get every 'Yeah, but..' argument under the sun in the first half hour that you've mentioned it.

Tell them you're getting a new Living Room set, and they nod in silent acceptance, because it's Socially Unacceptable to challenge these personal 'lifestyle improvement' choices.. but solar is a value judgement and a sober investment, which makes it an open target for their approval or other opinings..

Your point speaks to why I get sooo irritated whenever I hear folks say they can't afford energy efficiency improvements...when they go out and buy all this depreciating foderol...my neighbor put it plainly:

"An efficient furnace sitting in my garage isn't sexy" meaning, To me, "fun".


Um, I think that 'accessory' next to the truck would end up running you a lot more than $30k.

My neighbors across the street just bought a Toyota Tundra (their third car), and said at the neighborhood pot luck that next year they will but a boat (to putz around in Lake Mead, driving from Albuquerque!

Assuming there's any water left in the lake a few years from now... Maybe they should start thinking about conserving water. There's an idea that might float their boat >;^)

We were visiting my in-laws on Boxing Day and one aunt and uncle who are now in their 70s and in declining health are talking about selling their home and moving into a condo closer to where he receives his dialysis treatments (three 220 km round trips each week). It's a larger, 40-year old all-electric home and their electric bill for November was $800.00 (in the dead of winter, you can basically double that). For years I've encouraged them to insulate and air seal, all to no avail. Last night I mentioned that these astronomical utility bills will make it difficult to sell their property and seriously degrade its resale value, and I'm guessing by the shock on their faces that they hadn't given this any thought. Maybe now we'll see some action.


My neighbors across the street just bought a Toyota Tundra (their third car), and said at the neighborhood pot luck that next year they will but a boat (to putz around in Lake Mead, driving from Albuquerque! ... And the year after that they would buy a camper to go in the bed of the pick up truck.

I've known many people like that. They have two cars, a truck, a boat, a camper, and a big mortgage on their house. And then, one year, they both lose their jobs and the bank takes it all away from them.

They're just not at all prudent people. Prudent people would own an old Toyota Corolla and be contemplating buying a four-cylinder Mazda B-Series truck. And they would think about buying a canoe and a camper that would fit on the Mazda, but only after they paid off their mortgage and had the cash to buy the truck, the canoe, and the camper.

That way when you get laid off you can always take your truck, your camper, and your canoe and go fishing for a year or two, until things pick up again. That's assuming you have two years income in the bank, which I would also highly recommend.

What I find really funny is that a number I come up with is encoded in that insane statement.

1 trillion has been extracted and 1.2 trillion proven reserves. This leaves 200 billion barrels.
I won't even comment on the 14 trillion barrel claim I just think its interesting that my estimate that
we might be extraction against 200 billions of oil at our current production rates is fascinating.

1 trillion has been extracted and 1.2 trillion proven reserves. This leaves 200 billion barrels.

huh ? 1.2 trillion proven reserves leaves 1,200 billion barrels and an eur of 2.2 trillion barrels.

so much of the confusion here on tod could be avaoided is posters would bother to evaluate what is 'reported'. i don't speak arabic, but i am guessing that many terms don't translate very well. reserves, oil in place and resources seem to be used interchangably both in translations and on tod.

reserve means- remaining recoverable oil or gas and nothing else.
eur means- estimated ultimate recovery and noting else
oil in place means - oil or gas in place and nothing else.
resource mean many things - basically speculative oil or gas in place that may be recoverable.

I know what he said. As I said encoded. One of the hallmarks of most lies is that embedded in the lie is the truth.

What it is and how its embedded may be possible to discern but I know a few numbers I'm keenly interested in because I think they are real and they pop up with regularity. He is talking about trillions of barrels of oil 1 trillion burned etc. the 1.2 is what gives him his fractions of a trillion in the whole speech.

14 - 11.8 = 2.2.
2.2 - 1 = 1.2

14 is a imaginary number made up from some crazed mind. Obviously 11.8 is from a bit of trivial algebra.

Now why 1.2 ? Btw we have now burned more than 1 trillion barrels of oil that and old number we passed it.

It took us decades to find and prove a bit over the first trillion we burned to date think about it. When did the world know for sure it had 1 trillion barrels of oil to burn ? I'm not sure of the exact date when production plus know reserves hit 1 trillion barrels but I'd argue it would have had to have been in the late 1970's- 1980's at the earliest.

Thus we come back to the 1.2 because its obviously the key number in the statement despite everything else.
The 1 trillion is important but its clearly not and exact number. Intrinsically total consumption can't be exact anyway we simply don't know exactly how much oil we burned to date. In general most estimates are probably low.
If its about 1 trillion barrels then the error term is probably at least 50 billion barrels if not more.

Thus one comes back to the 1.2 no way can 1.2 be and estimate of URR as its used in this crazy set of statements. Its certainly not that. If it was given the nature of the statements you would round it out to either be 2 trillion with .8 trillion left or 3 trillion or at best 2.5 trillion. With these kinds of numbers using 1.2 makes no sense. If he was given a data set that was talking about 14 trillion barrels of oil and it contained a 1.2 trillion number then whoever gave it too him should be fired. Obviously its nonsense in these sorts of calculations. Simply assuming current technology and allowing the fact that oil prices would obviously go higher in time then the amount of profitably extractable reserves over the time spans that are the focus of this article would vary substantially. The difference in extractable reserves between say 100-300 dollar a barrel oil even assuming constant technology is substantial. Throw in some technical advances given whats happen as we extracted our first trillion and the exact size of the next increment to be extracted is fuzzy at best.

Thus at best there is no intrinsic reason to use any data in such and article thats not 1 or 0.5 trillion at best. Even half a trillion is pushing it esp when your talking about 14 trillion with only 1 trillion extracted.

So 1.2 is a real number it came from somewhere and its not from 1+1.2 remaining with 14 total.

I've got a really good idea where it came from because I know the number well thats why I mentioned it. Its actually a really easy number to derive if one takes into account technical advances.

Heck the 1.2 trillion number has a source its CERA.

Even in in 2006 they had cumulative production at 1.078 by 2007 that would be 1.1.

The 1.2 number is what CERA claims that Peak Oil advocates came up with.

Research Associates (CERA) finds that the remaining global oil resource base is actually 3.74 trillion barrels -- three times as large as the 1.2 trillion barrels estimated by the theory’s proponents

So who is this famous source for 1.2 trillion barrels remaining ?

Where does 1.2 pop up. Well 99% of the time its a circular reference back to CERA who claims its from peak oil theorists.

It pops up repeatedly in Saudi communications however.


Abdallah S. Jum’ah, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco, made the following statement during a Sep. 2006 speech titled “The Impact of Upstream Technological Advances on Future Oil Supply,” given at the Third OPEC International Seminar:

“I believe we will eventually tally about a trillion barrels each from yet-to-be-discovered fields and higher recovery rates. Add those two trillion barrels to the 1.2 trillion barrels of current proven reserves and the 1.5 trillion barrels of oil that can be extracted from non-conventional oil using current technology,

Notice the Saudi's using it again and again and yet even here the 1.2 number is extended with 1.5 trillion so your good friend making his 14 trillion claim should have at least used 2.7 or 3.74 as CERA claims. The use of 1.2 as and estimate for total URR makes no sense even using Saudi statements much less others in the anti-peak oil camp. The attribution of 1.2 trillion to Peak oil proponents was made by CERA.

However even a cursory review of the literature does not reveal any sort of consensus on this 1.2 trillion figure.


Looking simply at some of the big players aka Hubbert and Deffeyes himself we find this.

Today, we can do something similar for world oil production. One educated guess of ultimate world recovery, 1.8 trillion barrels, comes from a 1997 country-by-country evaluation by Colin J. Campbell, an independent oil-industry consultant.4 In 1982, Hubbert's last published paper contained a world estimate of 2.1 trillion barrels.5 Hubbert's 1956 method leads to a peak year of 2001 for the 1.8-trillion-barrel estimate and a peak year of 2003 or 2004 for 2.1 trillion barrels. The prediction based on 1.8 trillion barrels makes a better match to the most recent 10 years of world production.

Understand that these are total URR's from the peak oil camp. I'm sure you can find a 2.2 trillion total in some of the peak oil literature given its normal range around 2 trillion using symmetric assumptions but its not particularly special or some sort of consensus at least to my knowledge.

However I happen to be in complete agreement that 1.2 trillion barrels is a very important number its most common source is CERA and the Saudi's. Its attribution to peak oil proponents is suspect at best.
I'm not a mainstream peak oil guy by a long shot and its a number I can easily and trivially derive with some rather simple assumptions and its a hard number i.e with little error.

sorry, i don't follow much of what you are saying. clearly something is lost in the translation - from memmelese encoded to english. i assumed you were saying that 1.2 gb(eur) - 1 gb (produced) = 0.2 gb reserves. i am claiming that 1.2 gb = 1.2 gb remaining.

i don't endorse any of these numbers, because i haven't looked much at reserve claims and counter claims other than for saudi arabia. clearly al buraik was talking about something vaguely resembling resources although he is reported to have said '... the current global oil reserves in place are estimated at 14 trillion barrels, only about 1.2 trillion can be recovered'.

'can be recovered' clearly refers to reserves.

'reserves in place' most likely refers to something vaguely resembling resources or possibly oil generated (biotically), imo.

that was the point of my post - that you cannot take what is reported and translated as entirely accurate.

I suggest you work a lot harder at translation of memmelese you might find it important one day.

I'm simply saying 1.2 trillion barrels is a very important number. There is a reason why it crops up in peak oil debunking reports.

1 trillion has been extracted and 1.2 trillion proven reserves. This leaves 200 billion barrels.......

you seem to have forgot to finish the sentence.

i assumed you were saying that 1.2 gb(eur) - 1 gb (produced) = 0.2 gb reserves. i am claiming that 1.2 gb = 1.2 gb remaining.

I was thinking (recalling his posts in the past) that memmel mentioned 200 billion considering there is not much to go before plateau production ends. And he writes that about 1 trillion extracted was an old number...

Bingo we have a winner :)

And there is a very good reason for it if you assume the peak is asymmetric from technical progress.

A symmetric peak would happen by definition at 50% URR. If technical progress has really worked to shift the peak significantly then obviously a minimal shift would be 60% of URR. If its not that much then the technical progress has had a minimal superstraw effect. Next if its kept production high past 50% URR well we actually know the outer bound fairly well no matter what once you cross 70% URR production declines significantly in almost every field.

So you have a good number for the shift from technical progress and also a pretty hard limit on how long it can last. Assuming peak production at 1 trillion barrels and 60% of URR gives about 1.7 trillion barrels of URR.

The 70% threshold is hit at 1.190 aka 1.2 trillion barrels. You can fiddle with the numbers sure but the center point is pretty much right at 1.2 no matter how you slice and dice it.

Indeed some of the best data is from peak oil debunking sites this is a good one.


On this page you have the image

Its really really hard to find reserve data not inflated with questionable reserve additions however even by 1967 a lot of the discovery curve was in the past. Adding up the graph I come up with 469 or so GB of oil.
I could not access the original paper. In any case even then URR estimate where twice that I don't know of one from exactly this year however we have Hubbert's work.


These are what I consider important data points discovery was well advanced.


I'm pretty sure this graph included backdating of reserve expansion I'll get to that in a minute.

What important is all the data around peak discovery and before the OPEC quota wars everything after that is suspect I'm not saying that proven reserves did not continue to expand simply that a lot of the data after the 1980's is suspect not just from OPEC but from everyone.

Most of that is solved but ignoring all spurious reserve growth and finding the actual reported reserve levels without all the later backdated reserve expansion. Given the timing of peak discovery you don't have to do anything else.

I'll try and keep it short you have tremendous evidence that supports a URR of 1.3-1.8 trillion barrels.
My simple approach accounting for the technical superstraw effect puts it at about 1.7 trillion barrels as URR.

I won't repeat the above but once you know peak around 1 trillion 1.2 trillion is the magic number.

Later one of course everyone had no problem throwing out 100GB there 100GB there numbers however understand that 250GB of oil represents the proved reserves of the ME in 1967 after most of the discovery in the region was later basically done and that the largest region on earth in 1967. No other region ever came close in conventional oil since then. Indeed a large amount of our current oil supply is from fields that where fairly well characterized even by 1967.

I'm not denying real reserve growth however understand if you took the 1967 proven reserve data and assume a symmetric production obviously only half of that would be produced while production was rising. A substantial amount of the oil that was known then would eventually be produced much later if at all in a long tail of production well after the fields had passed their peak.

And yes this oil has contributed to production even to today from old watered out fields its not insignificant simply not a source of oil capable of major production increases simply trying to stem decline is a major effort in the numerous old tired fields.

And yes there is potential for oil production for decades to come if we invest enough in it indeed I agree with WHT fat tail these at least as far as basic theory goes.


What important is not this tail and with sources like the tar sands it can be surprisingly long the problem is it also in my opinion ensures that the oil supply is itself highly asymmetric with a rapidly dwindling amount of oil that can be produced cheaply at a high production rate. We never really found much more of the good stuff even after as early a date as 1967.

So 1.2 trillion barrels of oil is a really magic number its important. Of course no one knows exactly where we are but if it really is significant then we probably already crossed the rubicon so to speak or it could be a few more years tough to nail it for sure as you probably know I think world oil production itself is highly suspect and has been for about the last 10 years.

It does not matter all that much except for exact timing. As long as you make the assumption that peak production was at 60% of URR then if world production actually peaked in 2003 before prices rose then it probably peaked at 900GB not 1 trillion I use for simplicity. This gives 1.5 trillion barrels of URR and a 70% fall off at 1.05 our around 2005-2006 before prices really went insane.
Thats what I actually think but I defer to the 1.2 number because its so common outside of the peak oil community. However if we had cliff dived then our recent downturn would not have saved us till now. I.e we would not be here right now if my personal estimate was right and on the other hand probably won't much longer even with the 1.2 figure.

A lot of secondary data support 1 trillion barrels as peak at 60% URR and 1.2 being the magic number.
Look at refinery utilization rates. The BIDY etc etc. Not just prices. My own estimates using C02 indicate and initial linear decline phase after peak while we are in this 60-70% of final URR range. It was not a plateau but also not a steep cliff but fairly slow linear decline of around 1mbd and perhaps less depending on how much and when the Chinese lied about their coal production. Although I don't know the exact number I'm pretty sure if we are on a shark fin curve then one decline begins in earnest outright shortages are impossible to avert.
Even deliberately crashing the world economy won't save you for long.

Anyhow just to finish I actually believe CERA and 1.2 trillion I think they have the real numbers. And last but not least either we passed it or we have a year or two left dunno hard say the fog of propaganda is no so thick no telling the exact year. Its damned easy to see in the rear view mirror much better than symmetric peak oil because everything goes to hell 1-2 years later for sure by 3-4.

Not a problem. According to your Governor and others of his ilk, public jobs are not real jobs anyway. These massive layoffs will unleash the animal spirits of your private economy and all will be good by spring. It will be good to get the government off your backs so you can get it on with the freedom economy. Governor Hair should be pleased.

Of course you realize that any article which leads with the number of child protective workers who will be cut must be unquestionably fair and balanced.

While most of your comment is probably accurate, I think you are optimistic about a recovery by Spring. It is likely that the problem is intractable, and that neither gov't nor business can improve the situation without additional raw resources at low cost. Efficiency is the only option I could get excited about. Otherwise, let's get the crash going for gov't workers. Makes no sense to saddle the productive part of the economy to create make-work desk jobs -- at the least that money should go to insulate homes or build a border fence. More efficiency, fewer people. It's the one true path.

For all: And to point out the real significance of WT's post: Texas will have to make some very big moves on the budget front. CA gets a lot more attention than we do but the Texas situation is of the same magnitude. But we also have Gov Rick Perry ready to step up and make the big moves...whatever that might be. Rick ("Check out my hair") Perry has long been thought of as prez running material in the next 2 or 3 cycles. He's left his mark (or scars) on Texas. Now is his time to impress the nation. And he has just the crisis to get the national press flocking to Austin. I have no idea what he's going to do. But I'm pretty sure it will be dramatic.

As noted previously, this is at least going to be entertaining political theater, as "The most conservative Texas legislature in history meets the worst (projected) budget deficit in history," and it may be an indication of how a Tea Party influenced GOP might handle the federal budget mess in 2013.

My list of the three states to watch are Arizona, Illinois, and New Jersey. All three are, in percentage terms, in worse shape than either California or Texas. And all three seem to be taking different approaches: Arizona is cutting commitments to spend on programs for the poor, Illinois doesn't seem to be cutting commitments so much as it is simply defaulting on a wide variety of obligations, and Gov Christie in NJ seems convinced that he can balance the budget if the legislature will just let him fire enough state workers and teachers.

My take on what Texas is likely to do is here.

"Gov Christie in NJ seems convinced that he can balance the budget if the legislature will just let him fire enough state workers and teachers."

Gov. Christie is the adult trying to balance the state budget. All the state union workers and union teachers have to do is take a cut in pay and benefits and they can save jobs. The union would rather throw the lowest members under the buss in order to keep their pay and benefits. A simple choice really.

I love the smell of burning numbers in the morning. NJ's budget deficit is estimated at $11B. The state has 80,000 employees and there are 113,000 full-time classroom teachers. To balance the budget using just those people's salaries and benefits means reducing payments by an average of $57,000 per person. To put it in some perspective, NJ teachers have the 4th highest average salary in the country, at $58K.

Yes, unionized public employees are part of the solution. And already are, to be honest. The state skipped a $3.1B payment to the pension fund this year, and the governor has said he will continue to skip those payments until the employees agree to major cuts in pension benefits. But they're not all of the solution.

You know Christie is not taking it all out on teachers unions. I have no horse in this race, but Christie is doing the right thing. Promises - salary and pensions - were made to the public unions by people who needed their votes, and by people who knew those promises could not be kept. And now it's time to face reality.

Either way, the fact is most if not all Public Unions and their pensions are not sustainable.

They will be wiped out in bankruptcy. Municipal bond markets are starting to puke blood and the Feds will not be able to bailout every little hamlet, let alone the large cities and states. Some recent discussion on the subject by Mish:

Bloodbath in Muni Bond Funds; Reasons for the Muni Selloff

Bond Massacre Hits Treasuries, TIPs, Munis, Mortgages; PIMCO Among Biggest Losers; Is the Bond Bull Finally Over?

Avalanche of "Bids Wanted" for Munis, but "Nobody’s bidding"

The Day of Financial Reckoning cannot be put off indefinitely. FASB 157 bought the US/Feds a little time - the pretend and extend game is now in Over Time but the clock is running down fast.

Retirement Account Fantasy And Middle Class Erosion – 1 Out Of 3 Americans Has Zero Dollars In A Retirement Account

The median retirement account for US households is $2,000. This is why the vast majority of retirees depend on Social Security as their primary source of funds in old age even though Social Security was never designed to be a long term pension system.

I wonder just how much of the current financial issues are due to plain PP fiscal management and how much to oil. I see people here just blaming it on oil but I also see issues such as those pensions and governments simply spending money they do not have. My own feeling is that the current round is due to poor fiscal decisions and that it will be the next round that centres on oil.


The whole system led people to make bad decisions...plus they didn't have a strong commitment to fiscal rectitude.

Translation: human weakness plus the design of the system makes for a bad outcome.

I know what you mean about the difficulty in trying to find the root cause of the First Step Down in 2008.

I think the extremely low price of oil in the 90's helped lay the foundation for the economic bubble that started in the 90s under Clinton/Greenspan, and the high price of oil a few years ago certainly played a role in the Collapse Phase I (2008).

But beyond that, I think you are right that most of the financial problems are do to poor fiscal decisions AND massive fraud in the housing markets (that was condoned from the FED on down to the robo-signers and neighborhood home appraisors who did not bother to inspect the houses they appraised).

Be careful oil was not extremely low priced vs its historical price in the 1990's. It never went back to normal if you will but stayed high. Some of this was certainly the result of inflation but you still had a relatively high oil price.

Also as far as inflation by definition a technically advancing society is highly deflationary the costs of goods and even services falls over time as we refine our ability to produce them. The obvious example is electronic goods but the concept can be generalized. So even as the money supply was expanding the real purchasing power was increasing.

This is I think a pretty good article its not complete but I think the link between IT and "productivity" is real.

Real in the same sense of the housing boom as most of these IT jobs where still for Americans at the time.
Certainly real productivity gains happened but also we where building and servicing computers for each other.
In this case computer companies are installing new IT systems in other companies then buying their services
particularly nice shiny new commercial real estate. Also the workers where well paid and buying houses and cars.

Thats why I'm not a huge fan of inflation adjustments not that real inflation does not occur simply that its a complex situation. You also had the fact that the fleet was finally composed of cars with decent fuel milage from technical and rule changes made in the 1970's-1980's conservation was working. And of course offshoring esp to China was really picking up steam reducing industrial demand for oil in favor of Chinese coal.

Next horizontal drilling was becoming widespread with its attendant boost in production. Also we had a number of advanced in oil discovery technologies. Globally war and other above ground events effecting oil supplies was at a new minimum.

Also demographically you had the baby boomers entering their peak earning and purchasing period during the 1990's.

And finally after all that your 100% right :)

All we did was loosen credit restrictions and spend like drunken sailors. We blew it assuming this brief period was the new normal.


The new economy was a lie brought about by a confluence of various factors. Probably one of the most important and least appreciated was simple demographics. We had the best educated largest work force ever entering its peak earnings period. We became a nation of managers and financial managers. The FIRE economy with its tight relationship with the banks was at its peak. And last but not least IT was rapidly becoming a bubble near the end.

Indeed if one looks you probably only had real growth for a few short years say 1995-1998 or so before it became bubbly. We mix in and obvious bubble with a fairly brief period of endemic growth.

Thanks Michael. Excellent essay.

In this YouTube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdtBmojIOzg Rory Reid cites a statistic that it takes 7.5kWh of electricity to refine one gallon of gasoline. Googling around a bit to try and verify the number, I'm getting results ranging from 5kWh to 12.5kWh's. Does anyone know what the the accurate number is?

7.5kWh's, which is apparently the number Nissan is using in conjunction with Leaf promotion, is an interesting number. That amount of electrical power is roughly a third of the cars battery capacity, and equates to roughly 25 miles of range.

U.S. fleet average fuel economy is in the 25-26 mpg range, so if the above is true then doesn't that mean that we could power an entire U.S. fleet of Leaf equivalent EV's with the same amount of electrical power we currently use just to produce the gasoline?!


Interesting you bring this up. Article from my local newspaper about Pine Bend, "Emerald City", refinery just south of Minneapolis, MN states Pine Bend processes 325,000 barrels of crude a day and uses 120 megawatts. Only a portion is gasoline...lot of asphalt because 80% of the crude comes from oil sands.

That refinery likely processes Syncrude, which is the oil sands muck that has been upgraded. Refining that is more like refining light crude. The raw stuff would not make it to MN via pipeline.

The Pine Bend refinery process 80% Canadian bitumen and heavy oil, which is why its production of asphalt is so large. There's no problem getting it to Minnesota, in fact most of the bitumen goes right through Minnesota to the Chicago area and Southern Ontario. In future it will go south all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Pine Bend refinery has the distinction of being the largest refinery in the US to be located in a state which has no oil wells - but Minnesota borders on Canada, so it takes what it can get - bitumen (not tar, tar would be useless to a refinery).

Could someone please clarify.
My understanding is that it's virtually impossible to move bitumen by pipeline.
Surely what Pine Bend handles is upgraded synthetic crude (syncrude, which as Joules mentioned is of light grade).

I also don't see why this should translate into a high percentage of asphalt vs fuel.

A blend of pentanes/condensate + bitumen (DilBit) will have a lot of heavy oil components, and so would be classified as heavy oil.

They dilute the bitumen with condensate (DilBit) to get it to move through pipelines, or they dilute it with synthetic crude oil (SynBit) if they are short of condensate. The refinery at the other end processes both the bitumen and the condensate into products.

Bitumen contains a very high proportion of asphaltenes and aromatics, which is why the asphalt cut is so high in a simple refinery. More sophisticated refineries will crack the asphaltenes and other heavy components into lighter components to get a higher cut of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Bitumen does not flow through pipelines. To make that happen, it can be diluted with condensate or NGLs to get it to flow. That is probably the case for what flows into Pine Bend. Canada is running short on condensate, however, and so a newer trend is to process some of the bitumen into Syncrude and mix that with the bitumen. More ironically, there are plans (if not already happening) to pipeline diluent to Canada so that the mix can be piped back.

Railcars and railcars of NGL's are being shipped up to Canada just to dilute the bitumen so the stuff will flow back to us. I'm aware of a project at a single pipeline terminal that is now shipping 8 carloads a day/7 days per week up there. I understand it is a very small portion of what's being shipped north.

Do the EROEI figures for tar sands count the BTU's for shipping the NGL's up and back? I doubt it....

Actually, the availability of NGLs to use as diluent to blend with bitumen to pipeline it to market is THE biggest constraint on increased oil sands development.

People seem to get hung up on the availability of natural gas for fuel or water for processing, but these are available in more than adequate amounts in the oil sands areas. It's the looming shortage of NGLs that is the biggest problem. Alberta is short of NGLs despite its huge natural gas production. The oil sands are using up all of the NGLs in the province, and increased oil sands production means more demand for them.

I often use this as a filter to evaluate people who try to tell me why oil sands production can't expand. When they talk about natural gas or water, I say, "What about the diluent issue?" If they don't know what I am talking about, then I know that they don't know what they are talking about.

"Alberta is short of NGLs despite its huge natural gas production. The oil sands are using up all of the NGLs in the province"

And yet you claim that it has great EROEI.

Hmmmm. Something smells just a bit fishy here (or oily?).

I didn't say oil sands had a great EROEI, it's basically just acceptable under the circumstances. It's a lot better than fuel ethanol, for instance.

And, as I said elsewhere, EROEI is only one factor in the overall picture. I'm not a big fan of it as being the most critical factor.

The tight supply of NGLs has little to do with it. The NGLs just go into the refinery and get processed into fuels along with the bitumen. That doesn't affect the EROEI one way or the other.

Better EROEI than ethanol. Nice.

You better work on your sales pitch a bit more there, buddy.

I'm not selling anything, I'm just saying producing gasoline from oil sands is much more efficient than producing ethanol from corn.

Obviously the energy efficiency of producing oil sands is not as good as conventional light oil, but the supply of conventional light oil is getting slimmer and slimmer. From here, we can see the dark at the end of the tunnel.

When the conventional oil runs short, non-conventional oil will be the only alternative to walking for many people. The average person will not be able to afford gasoline if the only source is conventional oil.

"non-conventional oil will be the only alternative to walking"

With the enormous rates of over weight and obesity in America, a bit more walking would do most of us much good.

"The average person will not be able to afford gasoline if the only source is conventional oil."

Until that, of course, runs out, too. In the mean time obliterating landscape, poisoning rivers, using up all of the natural gas in the province (your words), and accelerating global warming.

We've got to face up to the fact that we have to get off of ff, and fast.

Constantly turning to ever dirtier and more ecologically ruinous forms of oil and other ff is no happy path forward.

But I know I will never convince you of this, deeply invested as your are in tar sands. So, though I'm sure you will have some reasonable-sounding-but-actually-vacuous reply, I don't find continuing the discussion particularly useful.

Do enjoy the season. We just warmed up a bit, so I think I'll take myself out for a nice constitutional.

What do they ship back in those cars or are they empty? If they go back empty include that in the EROEI. Are pipelines only one way or could dilutents be shipped up one day and the mix shipped back the next?


Hi, Joules
Further to your point about piping diluent to/within Canada to facilitate the return trip of bitumen or crude, it might interest people to know (if they don't already know) that Enbridge's proposed Gateway pipeline is actually a dual line, with the second line being an eastward-flowing line of NG condensate to be used in assisting the westerly flow of oil sands crude to Kitimat:

GH Steve's point about including the energy required to produce, pump. blend, isolate and pump back the NG condensate in the net energy equation is a valid one.

Urban myths have sprung up regarding the electricity needed to refine gasoline. It is elsewhere alleged that over 12 kwh/gal is needed:



This seems rather large, given that the energy in one gallon of gasoline is ~114,000 BTU, or 33.41 kwh. If the 12 kwh number were correct, this would imply a refining efficiency of no better than 33.41/(33.41+12)= .74, and this assumes there are no other significant energy inputs -- rather ridiculous. Even the lower number of 7.5 kwh seems excessive: 33.41/(33.41+7.5)= .82

According to this:


US refineries are about 90% efficient in making the energy content in crude oil available in the form of refined products.

In addition, purchased electricity appears to account for a small fraction of the energy used, around 4%..

I think some people are just making things up.

The US Gov does a census of industry every 5 years. The census reports are packed with all kinds of cool information. Here is the 2002 report on US Petroleum Refining


They report the refineries processed 5,521 million barrels of crude oil (* 42 gal = 232 billion gallons)
Used 35.8 billion kWh of electricity generated off site
Generated another 11.9 billion kWh of electricity

So 47.7 kWh/231 = 0.2 kWh per gallon of crude (which is the fairest way to attribute the energy use).

They report the refineries produced 2,928 million barrels of motor gasoline (* 42 gal = 123 billion gallons)

So 47.7 kWh/123 = 0.38 kWh per gallon of gasoline. So it does not work even if you exclude all other refined products.

Thanks very much Jon for the thorough debunking.

Fascinating, if true. Fit that on a bumper stickers and sell millions of Leafs. Or is it leaves?

All the refineries in the US must be losing about $0.55 for each gallon of gasoline if this is correct. NOT.

At a cost of $0.10 per kw-hr. the refineries expense on electricity must be $0.75 per gallon. Since crack spreads in the US are typically $0.15 to $0.20, then Tesoro (company I have invested in) is losing about $2 billion per year on the gasoline they produce. This is not correct since they have turned a profit the last couple quarters.

From another angle the refineries typically have a 0.9 EROEI on refined products made from oil, so with gasoline having 36.43 kw-hr/gal (from Platts conversion tables) then only at most 3.6 kw-hr could possible go into a gallon of refining gas based on typical gasoline EROEI. But because most of the energy consumed in refining gasoline is natural gas, the amount of electricity is far less than this. More likely the amount electricity is 0.5 to 0.8 kw-hr per gallon, IMO. So I think the Reid quote is in error by a factor of 10 or more.

From the Rigzone article up top, "EIA Forecasts More Shale Gas...":

The confusion in the media over resources versus reserves, and even among E&P company executives who are drilling shale gas wells, creates some serious misperceptions about exactly how much gas is readily available for consumption. Proven reserves is the only supply category that can be appropriately compared with current production in order to determine how many years worth of supply actually exists today.

As Art Berman has pointed out, and as others from the oil patch have acknowledged, the costs of developing these resources exceeds the present low prices being paid for NG. Comments here from ROCKMAN and others have further confirmed that where the present oversupply and depressed price situation have created the impression of a low-cost and abundant source of natural gas, in fact this situation is the result of production lag from drilling that took place a couple of years ago (when prices were high enough to encourage development) and that one need only look at the current active gas rig count (somewhere in the range of 1/2 to 2/3 of what it was at its peak in 2008) to see that the oversupply situation is temporary, particularly given the high depletion rates seen so far for unconventional gas wells. Why the NY Times and other MSM outlets cannot do this simple math and connect the dots is mystifying, so the conventional "wisdom" still seems to be that when it comes to low gas prices and abundant gas supply, we really can have our cake and eat it too.

It is interesting that Exxon continues to run ads on the front page of the NYTimes claiming that a "hundred year supply" of NG exists, in light of these complexities. While it is perhaps encouraging that they have such great faith in the general news-reading public to follow the breadcrumbs and figure out what is really going on behind these supply projections, unfortunately, this supply seems to exist only in the minds of reporters and in EIA projections. It is also interesting to see that if most of the shale gas resource is removed from the EIA projection, the result is a declining supply of natural gas in the future - it is the only area of NG production that is projected to grow substantially. Very similar to what happens to the IEA projections when "undeveloped/undiscovered" oil and projected massive growth in unconventional supplies are discounted as unrealistic.

As we enter the Scarcity Economy, lots more of this to come.

Burglary team stripping vacant L.A. buildings bare

Greer's Stages of Technic Societies

Look for the beginning of the Salvage Society when a major and relatively recently built building is completely recycled because the bank decides there is no market for it and has sold it for its scrap value.


I've already witnessed this happening. It wasn't a new building but it was hardly a shack and it was torn down very slowly so I assume they were salvaging materials from it. Now the industrial lot sits empty. There was a proposal from an asphalt company to buy/lease it but that got shot down by nearby residents and business.


where was this? How old was the building? Recycling buildings is happening more and more so I think we must look for a fairly recent building that most people would say, "Why the heck are they tearing that one down? They just built it!"

Then, of course, a single data point does not a trend make. We would need to see lots of this occurring.

It was in Mpls/St. Paul area of Minnesota. The best info I found said it was a 60's era building. Like I said, it wasn't new but it hardly seemed like it was ready for the scrap heap. I would guess the decision to scrap it had more to do with assessed value and property taxes than the condition of the building. As you said, hardly a trend. It just surprised me.

Speaking of tear-downs in the twin cities, there is an outfit in my neighborhood that goes around the area and salvages whatever it can before buildings are bulldozed. I would say they got a jump start on the salvage society.


Well, at least someone is recycling. Here, we can't even get people to recycle their junk mail, even with big signs at the Post Office. They keep throwing the junk mail in the trash. The burglars are providing a public service.

I'd like to extend my thanks and special holiday wishes to the staff and contributors of TOD, as well as the many regular posters. Like many, I happened to find TOD during the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to that, I had heard of the term Peak Oil, however, I was not aware how serious and imminent the crisis is.

As a retired systems engineer from the defense industry, I am reasonably literate when it comes to understanding charts, graphs, simulations and complex systems. However, when I read TOD on a daily basis, I feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose, since I have so little knowledge of the sciences and technologies related to oil production and energy. I'm becoming very concerned about how we communicate the impending crisis to those who have little or no scientific or technical literacy.

All of the books I put on my Christmas wish list, were books that I have identified either directly or indirectly from TOD. My wife, the retired academic, was kind enough to se that those books were under the tree. Also my wife has been preparing and giving presentations on the "New Normal" as it relates to state the economy. Thanks to TOD, Peak Oil, is one of topics in her presentations.

I also want to thank Nate Hagens for posting the Best of TOD on a weekly basis. It is helping me place our current state in a historical perspective.

Thanks again....keep up the good work!!

The cover story of the new National Geographic is titled Population 7 Billion-
how your world will change. This is the first of a series. Robert Kunzig tells us why we shouldn't panic - at
least not yet. He starts by noting that 7 billion people could dance in a state
the size of Rhode Island or stand shoulder to shoulder in Los Angeles. See
that's not so bad. There is a reasonable discussion of the history of
demographic thought. The pictures include one of India pulsing with people and
one depicting London as a glowing furnace at night and noting that wealthy
countries use more resources per capita. Paul Ehrlich is discussed but I found
no mention of Hugh Moore who gave Ehrlich the phrase population bomb. Joel Cohen
who wrote the authoritative book How Many People Can the Earth Support is
allowed to update his thoughts. He says that the question is unanswerable with
our current knowledge - he has found an enormous range of political numbers.
Global warming is mentioned - population control will not save Bangladesh from
sea level rise.
---I found no mention of peak oil.

Contact information:

National Geographic Society
Communications Department
1145 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-4688
Tel. (202) 857-7027
Fax. (202) 828-6679

Thanks Robert,

I will go out and buy the current issue of Nat Geo.

What dismays me is the attitude expressed by some folks in articles over the past couple of years extolling the virtues of the U.S. passing some 400M folks circa 2047.

I have posted some links before to such articles, sorry, I am too distracted right now to do so...a few minutes with the Google by someone who knows how to search efficiently will turn up some references.

The tone of some of these authors, to me, seems to indicate that they would be positively ecstatic if the U.S population doubled or trebled by 2100...they seem to think that boundless economic growth will be fed by endless population growth.

Heck, I am not (yet) in the 'hard doomer' category, but I do stand with the idea that we must achieve Zero Population Growth as a minimum, and do this as fast as possible.

The 'Limitless Growth' crowd annoys the heck out of me.

National Geographic has also had interesting articles on peak oil, and that series on the shale gas boom. They seem to have more of a clue than most MSM publications.


Heading "World oil demand is surging as supplies approach their limits"

When I get the global oil-o-plenty line, I hand them this issue of NATGEO as say look at this. Normally results in a "I have to find out more" to an "OMG - I get it now", The - what do we do sometimes comes a year later, takes a while to sink in.

Thanks Robert, I just read it.

Overall, it seems to be an effort to provide a mainstream, 'balanced' (non-threatening/non-alarming) survey of the situation.

I think the author somewhat glossed over the numerous issues mentioned such as eroding/depleting soils and depleting water tables and climate change etc.

So what's to be done? I think that an all-out campaign to achieve the optimistic/low end of the U.S. population estimate for ~2050, 8 Billion people, would be a great achievement. 8B vice 9B is nothing to sneeze at.

Certainly, if the Humanity is to lift great numbers of people up from abject poverty, these folks are not going to have U.S. or even European levels of 'prosperity', and also, U.S. (and to a lesser extent) European 'standards of living' shall decline. This is my prediction, I see the situation going forward as a zero-sum game, since we are impinging on a finite Earth.

And if we manage to avoid a even small-scale nuclear exchange by 2050, I will be most impressed.

Even a 'small-scale' nuclear exchange, such as Pakistan-India to the tune of ~ 10-50 weapons, would rock the World, both politically and with global ecological consequences, commensurate with the amount (in square km) of cities burning and especially the number of ground bursts.

Given the inability of the majority of Homo Saps to make rational decisions about things they don't perceive on a daily basis(what doesn't get up and slap them in the face in the here and now)I suspect that a nuclear war on whatever scale is about the only way to make a serious dent in population numbers.

I'm thinking more along the lines of a pandemic. Today, we can respond globally. At some point, that will be unlikely, and there will be far more hungry and weak to serve as breeding grounds for superbugs. Most likely the wealthy will still do fine, and only those without access to ICU resources will rapidly perish.

Predicting collapse is fruitless. However consider Haiti with no deep pocketed nations to at least save some people.

I think at some point natural disasters and man made combined with too large population does lead to horrors beyond imagination. And no I don't think the rich make it out either. If they do its only because they managed to escape early those that stay probably go down like everyone else.

I think the key to the extreme collapse is not the problems but when we reach the point that the world can no longer come to the aid of a nation facing disaster in any meaningful way.

When the US reaches second/third world status it simply won't be able to do much for others.

Indeed I'd not be surprised if one day impoverished hungry masses in the US riot over us sending aid to some beleaguered nation.

Indeed just to keep being cynical probably one of the big reasons aid is so forthcoming during natural disasters is to avert a pandemic from starting. Thus if this is true when we finally are unable to do so it seems sensible that pandemics will start occurring.

The paradox if you will is that its only in the final stages of collapse that I think we will see population start to decline rapidly. Indeed this is probably one of the primary reasons I think we will collapse in the first place. Even as things get a lot worse in general most will be able to survive until we hit this point that some disaster can no longer be addressed. Then and only then do the people start dying by the millions.

The overall system has already collapsed at this point so the actual pandemics are really simply a final blow.

The other thing that concerns me is a reversal of the demographic transition: If the arrow of consequence flows from greater to lesser 'prosperity', will people turn to having more babies?

Interesting article.

You can tell they are a little scared but are keeping a stiff lip.

For waiting to do it perfect, it never gets done. (hippie aphorism)

I've been re-reading _Getting Back Together_ by Robert Houriet, 1971. It's his story about communes and intentional communities he visited at that time. The aphorism above is from the book.

What strikes me about it is that it perfectly applies to what I see going on around me: We strive for the perfect model for FF reserves. We strive for the perfect alternative energy platform. We strive for the perfect agricultural model. Doomers are waiting with batted breath for the someone to tell them the perfect way to prepare. And, blah, blah, blah. But nothing gets done!

Were there to be an epitaph for our society it is that everyone was waiting for perfection but did nothing - even those small inconsequential actions like adding weatherstripping and insulation.

The book is also interesting from the point of view that a huge number of people were unable to "change the system." I believe this speaks to the PO community in that the idea of outreach is doomed to fail until such time that society is on the ropes...and even then I don't expect appropriate actions. I look at the many communes that used to be in my area and the reality is that all but a couple died even though they shared many basic beliefs. I don't believe there will be any better long term success for society.


"...the reality is that all but a couple died..."

IIRC that's also what happened to the kibbutzim founded in the burst of idealism around the founding of the present-day state of Israel. Some still exist but they've long since dwindled and leveled off at well under 2% of the population. I think the lesson is simply that enforced artificial intimacy among people who are essentially strangers is only about that scalable in the real world. Once the initial blinkered enthusiasm has worn off, what's almost inevitably left is more than enough incessant meddling in trivial maters of day-to-day life to drive most people bonkers. Really, who wants to be forced to audition tiresomely before a board of petty self-righteous neighborhood bullies, busybodies, and yentas every time he or she wears out a pair of shoes or a bicycle tire? (N.B. the relatively few kibbutzim still left have in many cases reformed extensively and given up that sort of nonsense at least at the micro level.)

Be that as it may, I wouldn't be inclined to use it to jump to conclusions about other forms of societal organization. After all, few of them are enforcing artificial intimacy to anything like the degree in a commune or early kibbutz. So they will come and go on their own schedules.

Greer has written about this. Community has costs as well as benefits. The reason so many of the civic organizations Putnam studied have faded away (as documented in Bowling Alone) is that we no longer need them, so the costs exceed the benefits. Fraternal lodges weren't just excuses to wear funny hats and get drunk at conventions. They served an economic purpose. One that the government and the free market now fill.

When that changes, I expect the costs of community will become worth paying again.

Very much concur.

Lots of our culture is going to change.

Finding myself recently single I've been participating in the dating scene. The practical needs of life are starting to intrude in this area, too. I've had one lovely woman sort of wave me off by telling me that she her life situation doesn't really work with dating. She feels unstable and vulnerable. We're still going on a date but I had to assure her that I have no long-term dating expectations. This in itself is not new; lots of people aren't looking for long term relationships but still like to date. I've just never come across this reason before: in the context of the conversation it was clear that her economic prospects were taking a lot of brain space for her.

But wouldn't someone want to pair-bond to increase security? I think so, but I don't think we're there yet.

However I suspect this phase will be fairly short-lived. It is occurring, I would guess, because people (of both genders):
a) are used to being independent economic entities and
b) think their recently poorer economic situation is temporary.

As people's economic situation continues to go nowhere or get worse, I expect the traditional practical reasons for pair bonding will once again come to the fore (financial security and raising a family — who needs love?). I give it three or four more years. By then people will have mostly figured out that we are heading into a deep depression whether or not they know the reasons.

Kunstler gets knocked for his commentary on how the different genders will react to economic contraction but what he's pointing to is worth examining in more depth.

In the meantime, pair bonding for security will take a bigger role but we may see some interesting new twists. Who knows? Maybe the traditional roles won't entirely come back. Unemployment seems to be hitting both genders approximately equally. I could see a male who knows how to garden and maintain the house pair bonding with a female who is still earning a solid income.

P.S. Before anyone mentions anything about this, I do realize that practical concerns have always played a big role in pair bonding. However, I'm suggesting that we are at the cusp of a major cultural shift in which pair bonding for love — a relatively recent widespread phenomenon — will give way primarily to practical concerns.

"a male who knows how to garden and maintain the house pair bonding with a female who is still earning a solid income"

This kind of situation is becoming more and most common, as far as I've read and have seen.

I once worked with a young woman from India. She had an arranged marriage, and I asked her if she had any regrets. I was wondering if she wished she could choose her own mate, like US girls do.

She replied that her only regret was that she had to marry before she graduated from college. Her younger sister had a great match, but it wasn't seemly for her to marry before her older sister. So my coworker was called back to India for a quickie marriage.

She said if she'd been able to wait until she graduated and had a job, she'd have been worth more on the marriage market and could have gotten a better husband. That seemed so odd to me - talking about the man you've married and had two kids with like you might about a car or a vacuum cleaner. He's okay, but if I'd waited, I could have gotten a better model.

Maybe your date has similar ideas. Once she's past this temporary difficulty, she'll be able to do better than you. ;-)

lol. Very, very possible! These are real considerations.

I am actually pretty careful now to not discuss my financial situation on dates beyond the minimum...it's stable and getting better (not from PostPeakLiving.com, in case anyone is thinking I'm getting rich — that barely breaks even; I have lots of Drupal work and am constantly turning away business. I recently raised my rates again. Attention software developers: senior Drupal people are in extremely high demand: consider learning it. Contact me if you want to know more.)

Back to the topic at hand. I avoid discussing finances because I still have this silly notion that I'd like to find someone who isn't yet making overwhelmingly practical choices. Perhaps I'm being presumptuous but that's what I'm doing.

Boy, we're such suckers for love...

One person has contacted me so far to learn more about Drupal. Though it may not provide money ten years from now I think it could be a good backup skill in the near- and possibly mid-term time frame for people with a software development background.

What's happening now is major companies who have spent lots of money on the big CMS systems are tired of paying the license fees and are seriously looking at open source solutions. Drupal is very well positioned in that regard and is where Linux was perhaps 10 years ago.

Here are some recent launches:

Drupal powers approximately 1% of the web and is growing.

The project lead's keynote from the conference in April provides an excellent overview of the community and what is happening now with the project. You can safely skip to 9 min 10s:

Get in touch and we'll put together a skype call to discuss it.

Edit: A couple of my sites:

Just for the record, I firmly believe that the future lies with family or affinity groups living together because it appears to be the only way to maintain a reasonable standard of living in an era of declining resources and employment.

This was certainly the pattern for many families during the Depression and seems to be occurring again today as more children are forced home economically. It's hardly perfect but people make it work.


Yes, there's a lot of territory between an exurb and a commune. Perhaps that territory will (mostly) fill in first.

I don't know if it is "waiting for perfection" as much as "waiting for the police state to just take care of everything for us," or "waiting for collapse to see what we have left locally to work with."

But that only applies to 0.0001% of the population that sees the current collapse-in-progress (no one in my area that I know of...).

The rest of the population is a wild card. And like you note, it is not likely the current masses of delusional Adult-Sized Children will suddenly make rational, intelligent and informed decisions later when their artificial world disappears and they are desperate, hungry, cold etc.

Does anyone have information on whether the energy efficiency tax credits will continue into 2011?

We are looking at new windows...

So far my research is not filling me with confidence:



The deniers are back in charge. So, no, not likely these got extended or will get extended.

My understanding is that the tax credits were extended along with the new tax bill, extending the Bush tax cuts. You can also claim a depreciation on your racehorse:


I just talked to a local window company rep on the phone, who will come over in ~ 4 hours and take a look-see and give us a quote.

He said that the home energy credits for windows and doors etc were not extended.

I found one reference on the Intertubes which said that the tax credits for windows and doors were extended into 2011, but capped at $200 vice $1500 presently.

Thanks Congress, you all could screw up a one-car funeral!

Racehorse depreciation indeed!

Meanwhile, I heard a story on the radio that a considerable number of horses have been abandoned by their owners who were unable/unwilling to care for them...but the fat cats get a deduction for their race horses...

I started looking at replacement windows for my single-pane windows and decided to build my own interior storm windows. I am mechanically challenged but this is easy. I would probably go with Andersen if buying new windows -- they last quite a few decades on average from what I read.

Building interior windows

Tax bill shrinks incentives for energy-saving remodels


But other provisions in the bill could be bad news for homeowners interested in remodeling projects to conserve energy next year. The legislation slashed the popular tax credits for energy-efficient remodeling from the current 30 percent of an improvement's cost ($1,500 maximum per taxpayer) to just a 10 percent credit with a $500 maximum for expenditures on insulation materials, exterior windows and storm doors, skylights and metal and asphalt roofs that resist heat gain.


When you do it, make sure the hole is up to muster. No point in putting in a super efficient window if the surround leaks air and heat like a sieve. No draughts, no cold bridging.


Does anyone have advice concerning the relative merits of the following window frame types?:

- Thermally broken aluminum

- Vinyl

- Fiberglass

I am looking at some local Albuquerque window firms, and am currently shying away from Pella or Anderson, as I have heard that these two brands can be quite spendy.

...unless someone here has some good testimony that the costs for either of these brands is worthwhile.

I work with a guy who spent twelve grand on new windows...my neighbors thin that was ridiculous and say that that guy spent his money on fancy brand-name advertising...but my Mother syays that her brother (a general contractor who builds custom homes since the early sixties) swers by Naderson windows...


After lots of research I bought fiberglass framed windows from this company:


They are manufactured in Ontario and at the time I was able to purchase and transport them via truck at about 30% less than from any American manufacturer. The dollar made a difference but even without that I found American window manufacturers extremely expensive relative to this manufacturer after accounting for the currency difference. I never did figure out why.

I was very happy with their performance and would let the company send people considering them to my home to see them in real life.

I then installed window film from the company below, which I determined to be the best performing spectrally-selective film on the market at the time:

I replaced seven windows and one patio door with French doors for about $7.5k plus $2.2k in installation costs. I couldn't get a quote from an American window manufacturer for less than $15k, IIRC.



Hi Andre'

Did you install the window film permanantly? I have been putting film up with scotch tape in the summer and taking it back down in fall. Here in Minnesota we can use all the sunlight we can get in the winter. And does that version of film allow you to look inside. Our local park building could really use some film in the summer, but for safety reasons requires non-reflective window coverings. I am still looking for a good product for that buildings huge south facing windows.

One window tip for those in the market is that casement and awning windows have much, much lower air leakage rates than double hung windows. (But read the awning window specs carefully because some do not allow egress in case of a fire as the mechanism blocks crawling out).

The design of spectrally selective films is that they let light through but not the heat radiation, or at least less of it. So they don't look reflective from either side of the window.

However, being new to spectrally selective films I chose one that allowed too much visible light because I didn't want the view to be compromised and thought that I could have it all (lots of visible radiation (i.e. light) but little heat radiation).

In retrospect I don't think I got the performance I was looking for and would definitely choose a darker tint. At least six years ago the "spectrally selective" part was not quite there yet. I chose the second lightest tint and would next time go for a tint more in the middle. Yes, the view looking out will get a little darker.

As for letting heat in during the winter, you're probably best off doing what you are doing now. My calculations showed that keeping the heat out in the summer was going to be more valuable to me in California than allowing the heat in during the winter so I was fine with installing it permanently and not have the bother you have.

I can easily see the situation where you are being reversed.

Home Depot has a line of windows made by Andersen for much less. I installed these in my home, and have installed quite a few for other folks. Great windows for the price.

Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any of these companies and have installed windows from numerous manufacturers, some good, some junk.

It also depends on the overall quality of the structure. No sense buying a Cadillac when a Buick will do the same job.


Thanks, Home Depot wasn't on my radar until now.

I imagine they will be happy to install them for their price as well...I am too busy being a debt-slave for the man...

We opted for Pella Architectural Series in our two most recent homes and Marvin prior to that because we prefer the look of real wood. Wood is a PITA in terms of the added maintenance and upkeep and the U values are often lower, but everything else looks fake (I can't stand vinyl siding for the same reason).


Agreed about the fake part...I had another criterion, though, and that was that the outside of the frame had to be brown for HOA but there was no way I was going to have brown frames indoors. With fiberglass, I was able to have them manufactured with brown on the outside and white on the inside. Add a nice window treatment and it looks great.

I did *not* want the hassle of wood...

Well, maybe wood is a hassle, but it does look good and lasts a good long time.

I just had my old windows repaired (mostly just painted shut) and they work great now. They were originally built in 1889.

This being redwood country, YMMV, but I considered replacing them with vinyl or fiberglass a crime I couldn't commit.

IIRC, fiberglass frames can be painted, while vinyl cannot. Also, since fiberglass is a reinforced thermoset, it's much stronger and dimensionally stable than vinyl, which is unreinforced thermoplastic.

I bought Marvin Integrities 3 years ago (wood inside, fiberglass outside). They're beautiful, but all-fiberglass would probably be my present-day choice.

Dear Heisenberg

Be careful. We just replaced ground floor windows in Regina, Saskatchewan. 1950's house with the original cracked single pane windows. Brrrr. We needed to do it, but it was a massive exercise in frustration and me loosing my temper. We ordered the most heat efficient from Glacier Glass, Regina. Triple glazed, low E, argon filled, vinyl frames, the works, it's cold here. Avoid Award Windows of Alberta. Glacier Glass came to install, and installed much cheaper panes. I caught them by the wrong Energy Star stickers, they lied about it, we argued, I refused to pay, Glacier Glass then eventually showed up with different replacement panes (the panes can be fairly easily popped out of the vinyl frames, who knows what this does to the U-factor). Then Glacier glass and Award Windows refused to give us Energy Star stickers, so I'm not at all sure we got what we paid for. Award was pretty hostile. By looking at internal factory stickers I was able to narrow the panes down to a couple of good alternatives, but was never quite sure. Both companies IFAIR, were quoting R-values (a single center of pane measurement, rather than U factors (a whole window measurement). I searched thru the Natural Resources Canada Energy window ratings website and found no windows made by Award with a U-factor that corresponds to the R-value of the windows we bought. Let's say I am suspicuous. Now the NRCAN website could be out of date. As well, because we were denied the Energy Star stickers, I don't know the pane's NRCAN code or NRCAN name exactly. As well, because the panes are now installed in the field, as opposed to the factory, I'm not sure of the installation job, I am watching condensation build up more than I like to see in new windows. I doubt if they will last that long. It cost about $8,000. We are much warmer and the furnace cycles on less. But the next time I spend that money on windows, I'll be specifying on the order, no Energy Star stickers, no payment and I'll go by the hassle of speaking to the family lawyer about how to spell it out properly in the contract. I also will avoid both comapanies.

Good luck Paleo

When I started building my house about 12 years ago, I looked around for high efficiency windows. I had some experience with the window film made by Southwall Technologies which started in Palo Alto, CA. They manufacture the plastic film which is used to make triple layer windows, using the trade name Heat Mirror. There is a listing on the Southwall web site of manufacturers which incorporate the Southwall product in their windows, which might give you some idea of where to look. At the time, there were few window manufacturers which incorporated the Heat Mirror technology in their panes. I selected aluminum clad wooden windows made by Hurd, with triple pane windows on three sides of the house and used double pain, low-e windows on the south side for the winter heat gain...

E. Swanson

I like the double pane on the southside idea. Has anyone found a good automatic shutter system with high insulation content? One inch of foam is R5 and the equivalent window is very expensive. Two inches is R10 and almost unmatchable by windows.

Oh, just found a report for Affordable Comfort using LBL software that does indeed show that less expensive double pane windows can become energy sources with a good shutter system. They did calculations using R15.


Now we just need someone to build such shutters!

I've had this idea on my list for some time. Haven't built any of them yet, but look forward to it.

I'll do the controls myself, but I'm sure someone out there has them.. probably in Germany.

Thanks for the article! (I'm looking to use old screwgun motors for mine.. I think)


I should also mention what I HAVE been doing for my windows so far this year, which has been very successful, and very cheap. I'm building simple wooden frames that fit into the window openings inside the house, and these frames are skinned with plastic window wrap on BOTH sides of the frames, so I'm getting Two areas of still air inside the windows, plus the leak sealing that this plastic provides against any imperfect joinery in the windows themselves.. the edges are sealed with foam sticky gaskets, or a tape edge.

So far on a pair of 42" skylights, these are doing great, since snow landing on the glass will sit there for many hours and not melt. Their seals had been awful as well, and the leaks from them were bad. The next one, for the picture window is about to be painted and installed, which should double the R-value of some of the biggest glass area in the house. (This window already has insul. drapes pulled across it at night, but this should be much more improved afterwards.)

The plastic Alone is OK, but I don't like the tape all over the woodwork, and the need to trash the plastic every year after winter. These frames can be removed when access to the window is required, and then be reinserted.

How do you find the foam works to seal the edges? Condensation from air leaking around the foam and getting under the plastic seems like it could be a problem. I had a friend try foam board slid into the window, but it left a puddle of water every morning, so the edge sealing was not working.

I agree about not liking tape on the woodwork. It would be nice to find a solution that does not cause damage.

Use the foam on the side facing the window. You can hold the frame in place with small latches. If I was going for a re-usable frame system I would use something like an acrylic pane rather than film. I have used film taped to windows before including 2 layers,one taped to the window unit and one to the frame and it does make a huge difference. Some tapes are easy to remove with a hair dryer also you can get citrus based sticky removers from places like Office Depot.


I used foam last year on the house we moved out of, and don't recall any problem with them, These Skylight frames are currently sealed in with masking tape, as I didn't invest the time to make facing frames in the window-bays which will in the future hold some sort of gasket.

Ideally, I'd like to find a nice design to install a half round which will function like a Tongue-Groove to mount these frames against. It seems like the use of a bit of sacrificial sealing tape is usually needed, but I still shoot for the goal of well-crafted, tight-fitting hardware. I also am playing with some kind of frame-mount that is held with tightening screws.. might sound obvious, but I see so few of the 'ports' in and out of the home have any real mechanical help to keep them nice and tight.

I am similarly interested in ways to make the Insul. shutters close tight and meet the window with a V-shaped Tongue/Groove or a 'locking flap' to help assure there is a good layer of still air behind them.

Hey Bob, you're a trend setter !

Ellsworth Church Helps Homeowners Make Their Own Storm Windows

An initiative at the Ellsworth Assembly of God on Beechland Road is helping homeowners stay toasty this winter and for many winters to come.

Each Saturday morning, church volunteers help area homeowners fashion wood-frame, double-glaze window inserts that keep the cold from seeping through their windows.

It’s the original better mousetrap — a pine frame that measures about half an inch smaller than the window frame it is to go in. The frame is covered on both sides with durable plastic film that is shrunk with a hair dryer. A half-inch of foam weather stripping is applied around the edge of the frame. Being double-glazed, they create two new insulating airspaces, said the Rev. Burt Lowry, pastor of the Assembly of God. The storm is then inserted in the window frame for the winter, and removed for storage over the summer.

See: http://fenceviewer.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id...


I'm more than happy to take credit!

.. as long as we all understand that it's simply one of the great signs foretold of me in my latest Horoscope by the Alpha Male Profit of the Moon!

"Ad Astra, per Alia Porci.." or something like that..

(Supposed to mean 'To the Stars on the Wings of a Pig!'.. only MY pig uses a little help. www.jetpig.com )

If your priority is efficiency, take a look at: http://index.seriouswindows.com/residential.html

Their most efficient window series has an R-11 value. Yes. R-11.

Take a look at their high efficiency window specs. The highest R-value glass (1125 series) has triple layer low solar heat gain reflecting film between the glass panes, thus the solar heat gain is rather small. The 925 series with 2 layers, the ones which use high solar gain film, have a solar heat gain of about 0.33 and a R-value of 5.9 for casement windows. That's the trade off between R-value and solar heat gain which has been well known for decades. The other problem not mentioned is that the solar heat gain is for normal incident sunlight and there's no mention of the off axis effects, which I would expect to be quite large. These high R-value windows would not be good for passive solar use, IMHO. And, their R-value isn't even as good as that of a 2x4 inch stud wall...

E. Swanson

To be fair, though, they are still very good windows -- it's just that a good window tends to be as bad as a bad wall. But then you can add blinds and other coverings to improve the performance when lighting and visibility is not required.

At my house, window blinds rarely get opened much on bedrooms and the lesser used common rooms. I think the value of windows is as much curb appeal and internal aesthetics as any practical value (besides emergency egress).

I have wondered whether going for a good window, adding an external solar screen (for summer, at least), and having fitted foam inserts behind heavy curtains might not be sensible for many rooms. Still easy enough to remove in an emergency, and the rest of the time it's just a funky wall.

With most spouses working, there aren't as many options for simply opening and closing shades at appropriate times to maximize solar gain. Automated shades or shutters would work fine, but at significant cost and yet another maintenance headache.

Another Shutter Option I'm looking at ties in with the plan to put a Thick layer of rigid Foam around the whole house, and so I could make a 2.5" Pocket in a 4" foam layer next to each window, and have "Pocket Shutters" that slide together to cover windows at night, while the hole they emerged from would still be kept as still air, and so should not lose that entire 2.5" of insulating ability..

I'll have an interesting design challenge making these window casings work out with this new Fat Wall, and so making this extra element will just be worked on as part of the deal.

If you have any air leak in that pocket you will lose the benefit of the insulation. Maybe not when new but a year or two on...


I don't think so.

You won't lose much of anything, the space is a stillwater with rigid foam on front, back and along 3 of the remaining four edges. It's an empty void with no air access to the house interior, there won't be enough heat differential in that space to create a noticable thermosyphon draft, and the back end of the shutter is plugging most of the open end. It'll be less than the solid foam, but I suspect it's probably a very minor difference. The back edge of the Shutter could have a wide 'brush' that seals a narrowed door at the business end, and I think you're in great shape.

I can see where you are coming from and it does look attractive. It is that seal that I see as the very weak point especially after wear and tear. Have you thought about hinged shutters that will give you 100%?


Sure. Shutters are still an option, and probably the preferred one.. these pocket shutters are a thought-exercise.. but I don't think these seals would be the crux.. they don't need to be very tight at all, and would only make contact with a 'lip' at the end of travel, so I don't think they'd wear badly. The tracks, as with pocket doors, would be a greater worry.. and maybe of leaves, ice or critters getting into the pocket and blocking the way.

It's just one for the design folder.. I'm not close to doing the outer layer at this point. (Sadly)

1125 north, 925 south.


They have great window specs, but also a serious price. I got a quote on a small bathroom window. I decided I could buy solar panels to run the heat pump with the original single-pane window for less. This in Austin, which has mild weather.

Has innovation hit a brick wall?

As an IP attorney, this is an area I have great interest in and can claim some expertise. But up-front, I have to say it is an extremely difficult area to discuss with hard numbers since there are few metrics that can be used . . . and even those few metrics are slippery. Sure . . . we can count the number of patents filed . . . but what does that really mean? A single 'break-through' invention is worth more than a million 'incremental' engineering advances that also merit patents.

I think we are continuing to innovate but it is much harder to have real break-throughs. The certainly do still happen . . . but not as often. The laws of physics are not changing.

I feel that people really have a far too over-optimistic view on technology that has been created by our amazing advances in digital electronics. With digital electronics, we've been able to advance by amazing degrees since we are largely not dealing with physical reality . . . we are dealing with information. Information can have near zero mass and near zero energy. As long as we can reliably read a bit of information, it doesn't matter if that bit is a 0.1Volt difference in a transistor or a smoke signal created by a bonfire. By reducing the size of transistors, decreasing the voltage swing, and increasing the clock rates, we have made AMAZING progress in digital electronics. We get more bits & CPU cycles per watt, per area, per second, per kilogram, etc.

But we just can't do that in the physical world. Our cars drive no faster than they did in the 50s. We've improved efficiency (by modest amounts) although we largely wasted that by just building bigger cars with faster acceleration (Jevon's paradox in action).

So I really doubt we are going to see miraculous innovations in energy that many people expect & want. EVs were more popular that gas engines a century ago but got wiped out by the energy density and low price of oil. We've had a century to replace the gasoline engine with something better . . . but we got nothing. And now that oil is starting to get more expensive, instead of moving to some brand new technology, we are instead reverting back to the system that was used before gasoline . . . electric vehicles.

I'm a huge advocate of EVs . . . but truth be told, we are in some sense 'taking a step backward'. Yes they are much better with Li-Ion batteries and all the digital electronics that make them work well. But they are a big step backward in energy density.

Is this the first time mankind has 'moved backwards' with regard to an energy system?

However, we are in a golden age in biological, ecological, environmental and earth science research, speaking as a publishing researcher.

The biological science area certainly has a lot of potential for innovation. We are just getting started with playing with genes. Of course, this is very much like the digital electronics revolution . . . with genes, we are mostly just manipulating information.

And the digital electronics revolution has made possible advances in all areas due to better sensors, better data gathering, better data analysis, etc.

But in terms of energy . . . well, the laws of physics are just not changing.

However, if we could turn on a set of genes for producing a naturally warm and furry pelt, that might obviate the need for heated buildings. Mink coats for everyone?

Yeah, but you know how unintended consequences go. We would probably end up with a furry pelt, longer fangs and an appetite for human blood (only when there is a full moon though)

Actually, in many areas like physics, we have been dead in the water fro quite a while, as others like the biological sciences have accelerated.
After the Standard Model of the 1970s, physics has trapped itself in the box canyon of string theory, and CERN is not being kind to it at the moment. Not that string theory has not produced some very elegant math, but most was to masturbate with.

I don't think the mass production of consumer goods can be considered real innovation, other than depleting our resources faster.

Did somebody tell Kurzweil? I believe his singularity is scheduled any decade now, right?

Would be funny if just barely miss the singularity because we used up oil a decade or two to early. Not as funny as if we created a super-intelligence which promptly decided to help us eradicate ourselves, though. I'm not sure why people think that a machine intellect would necessarily be benign.

I was pondering technology just this week. My cell phone now does everything that I think a portable device needs to: GPS, internet, texting, music, calendar, games, and surprisingly, decent-quality phone calls. Any new functionality for me will have to be an "invented need".

My laptop and TV are much the same way. This laptop is fast enough for everything I need it for, and has decent battery life. The only reason to get anything better would be if new whiz-bang software comes along (and of course it very well might). I could trade my TV for a 3D unit, but honestly that holds little appeal for me.

I've never felt this way about technology before, and perhaps it's a function of my aging rather than technical adequately. But what if 100M Americans suddenly say "my technology is good enough, thank you"? And then, "I'd like my laptop and cell-phone to last 10 years at least, please"? After another generation or two to drive out costs and power consumption, could Moore's Law grind to a halt from lack of massive demand to fuel the hefty up-front engineering costs?

Sure, there are needs to build much better supercomputers and those needs have not come close to saturation, but is there a chance that chip technology will move to "replacement" rather than "technical obsolescence" as a much lower-volume driver?


I've had these thoughts now for a few years.

I have been in a circumstance where I have all the electronic stuff I could want.

I could care less about 3D TV.

I am completely with you...I want things that are adequate, as maintenance and hassle-free as possible, and which last for decades if possible.

I keep computers for years..6, 8, until they fry.

I have a 1998 Mazda 626 which has seen better days, but I keep it driving.

A 6-year old basic cell phone.

I do think its an age thing.

My Mother just replaced her iron she bought in 1965.

Her microwave went out, the one I bought her in 1983.

Her Maytag washer lasted 35 years, with minor repairs.

But...our economy is not predicated on making long-lasting products...

What my wife got me for Christmas:


Brilliant. Thanks!

My 30 year old mixer, repaired, renovated an turning out the best bread in town. My 3 YO microwave BER, no magic smoke left.


I just shortened a broken wire on my electric mixer that says "25 to 60 Hz", which means it was probably made between 1948 and 1966. It had been repaired already so it should be another 20 years before I have to take the cover off again.

All those computer guys at MacroSloth are way ahead of you. I've been playing with a 7 year old HP laptop (an upgrade for me) and need to reload the operating system on the slightly used ATA hard drive (also outdated) which I found for it. While looking around, I found out that MacroSloth's newest 7th level operating system can not run on the older machine. So, it appears that my efforts are a dead end street. Also, last year, I found that the major tax preparation programs wouldn't run on my newest machine, which is still running Windows 2000. Now that MacroSloth has quit supporting XP, it won't be long until programs which run on that operating system will be toast as well. The moral to this myth is that we are all being dragged along with whatever MacroSloth has planned for the future. Unless one is a techie nerd and uses Linux...

E. Swanson

My wife plugged a new LCD screen into her Mom's 8-year-old XP machine...it BSODed, no recovery possible.

Before she came home from PA, I was using our 6-year-old XP machine and it froze up, no BSOD, just froze.

When I hard-rebooted (my only choice) I never could get Windows to boot the whole way.

I tried everything, including re-loading Windows, trying to format the (6-month old replacement) hard drive, loading Unbuntu Linux...no dice.

Next I tried my sons's former XP-run computer (7 years old) which he replaced to get a faster machine for video editing (and gaming of course)...I booted that machine up, and after it attempted to download and install a bunch of MS and Adobe updates it proceeded to BSOD as well...no recovery attempt worked.

Three XP machines dies within a 10-day time frame...all running AV and spyware protection software...

Either an unlucky statistical cluster or MS ensuring that we XP die-hards moveon.now and buy new iron equipped with 7?



Dirty connectors. Unjack and rejack all cards and connectors several times.

Had similar problems myself a couple monthes ago(XP). Turned out to be dirty connectors on one of the memory cards.

NAOM and Turnbull,

Thank you for the advice.

One of the IT folks at work advocated the fried circuit board component theory.

dust/dirt is always a bane also...I regularly blow the dust out with compressed air but some unseating and checking of contacts and re-seating might be profitable.

Thought about it a bit more after, a reseat is a good idea. The contact strips on the edges of memory cards can be cleaned by LIGHT rubbing with a hard eraser(pen type). Don't try that with the sockets but they should wipe with the extract/insert cycle. The heat sink compound on the CPU and north/south bridge chips may be dry. Remove heatsinks carefully, clean well and install with a THIN layer of heatsink grease. Take the opportunity to reseat the CPU. If you have dogs the heatsinks grot up well and need more than an air brush. Replace the button cells. Try a new PSU, maybe borrow one to test. Take a look here http://www.badcaps.net/pages.php?vid=5 and check your caps including the ones in the PSU. Motherboard is multilayer and I advise using someone who is experienced to replace caps. Check fans. If the machines are Dell and some other big box makes then they were designed for a maximum of 18 months use. 6, 7, 8 years good life span and about failure time but odd all 3 together, anything changed with your power? Try a Kill-a-watt but the strip one that records max and min.


Unless one is a techie nerd and uses Linux...

You don't need to be a techie nerd to run Linux. Linux will almost certainly run quite well on your hardware, and do everything you need it for. For the past three years I've done my taxes using TaxACT running on Linux. The supplier says it doesn't run on Linux, but I have had few problems getting it to run on Ubuntu Linux on my eight-year-old home computer. The first two years it installed and ran flawlessly as downloaded; last year I had to do a little fiddling by installing Internet Explorer (yes, you can install IE on Linux).

About the only significant problems most people have with newer Linux versions is with Digital Rights Management systems which restrict what you can do with copyright material such as games. But even there you might find a workaround, though it may not be legal in the U.S. Some new hardware, such as printers, might also have problems with Linux, but such hardware is also likely to have problems with Windows XP.

I think we are continuing to innovate but it is much harder to have real break-throughs. The certainly do still happen . . . but not as often. The laws of physics are not changing.

Tainter, in his 'Collapse of Complex Societies' talks about the intertwining spiral of Energy and Complexity.
Specifically he talks about the fact that changing complexity changes the cost benefit ratio of complexity. In other words as our societies increase in complexity, further innovation requires more and more energy. Since we are now probably reaching the limits of the availability of cheap energy it would be expected that we would get less and less innovation because the cost benefit ratio makes new innovation (read, more complexity) too expensive in terms of bang for the buck.


But they are a big step backward in energy density.

Hold on there IP lawyer!

I have the trademark on the "step back" phraseologies. :-)

That said, energy density is not a positive attribute in all technology areas.
In a CPU for example, reduced energy density and reduced heat concentration may be a plus instead of a minus.

Well, yes, pretty much. The "brick wall" is partly an illusion/delusion that owes to unique characteristics of the integrated-circuit industry. From a 1996 letter to the Seattle Times:

And back in the "Monday Memo" section on the business page of June 24 [1996], Rick Bailey of Intel is quoted as saying that if cars were like computers, a Ferrari today would cost $1 and get 40,000 mpg.

At some point a Google cache had the June 24 quote as "If [Moore's] law applied to the Ferrari, that popular Italian sports car would now cost $1, get 40,000 miles a gallon and be supercheap to insure because it would be so easy to replace." I think the sentiment goes back a number of years further but I could be wrong.

Anyway, one little difficulty is cited in a 2008 Gordon Moore interview:

You know the old statement that if the auto industry had improved at this rate, you'd be getting a million miles a gallon and so forth today. Somebody once pointed out to me from the audience, "But, yeah, the car would only be 2 inches long and half an inch high, not very good for your morning commute."

We so often seem to get into trouble with some form of scalability. In this particular case, most things don't miniaturize as well as integrated circuit elements have done. So we need not expect most things to follow a rapid Moore's Law curve; and except relative to that often-absurd expectation, we need not mourn their failure to do so as "hitting a brick wall".

Of course, if we keep insisting stubbornly on growing the population faster than we can improve things that don't follow Moore's Law - an insistence both Left and Right agree to strenuously though for entirely different reasons - then sooner or later it must inevitably come to feel as though we are hitting a brick wall...

well moore's law has run into a little problem with physics - much smaller and Quatum physics takes over.

as for old OS - windows 3.11 still works for me and you can ebay or bit torrent the 95 98 and 2000/ XP , not that I said that

try Ubuntu or other flavour of linux , with open office before Oracle starts charging for it :)


Yep. They are still able to reduce circuits a little bit but it is getting really REALLY hard.

Hence the switch to have 4 cores instead of cranking up the clock speed.

It's going to be interesting to see how well open source software can make up for closed source software as the various software companies go bankrupt.

These days, quite well, I think.

Hopefully Marcin will take only the two years he is anticipating to complete his Global Village Construction Set and then we'll have some open source hardware, as well.

Watch the two minute video here:

LibreOffice is taking over from OpenOffice,it is a fork, and will be in most of the big distros. It is already in the Fedora Rawhide. Currently at RC2.


I still keep copies of all of my legacy operating systems; MSDOS - XP, with hard copies of all service packs, drivers, etc. I also keep copies of my old OS2 and Warp platforms, just to have (I really liked OS2). I use old MS OSs for data-logging on old hardware that isn't supported anymore. Who knows, maybe these old systems will be worth something after the big reset.

We have potential for HUGE gains. However, they are generally NON-TECHNICAL solutions. This confuses people, because we have become used to technical solutions.

For example, the combination of walkable cities/trains can cut transportation energy use by 97%. Yes, 97%. How is that? Based on East Japan Railway numbers, the average energy use is 0.35MJ/passenger/km. It works out to the equivalent of 223 miles per gallon, or about 10x more efficient than personal automobiles with the typical 1.1 passengers. However, there are additional advantages because we are pairing trains with Traditional City type walkable cities (like much of Tokyo, which is served by JR East). So, many more trips, to the grocery store etc., are done on foot. Also, when you do ride the train, often the trip is much shorter than you would take in a Suburb/Automobile environment because things are so much closer together. You might ride 5 miles on the train instead of 15 miles in the car to get to the major shopping center, for example.

So, I estimate that the combination of 1/10th the energy per passenger/mile, plus much fewer passenger miles, means a potential 30x energy efficiency improvement.

This is all non-technological. Train technology hasn't changed much in thirty years, unless you count the automated ticket machine. Making dense, walkable cities is 5000-year-old technology. However, these deliver huge results, much greater than any stupid "electric car" nonsense.

Once you see how easy it is to deliver immense gains with simple, proven technique (TECHNIQUE, not TECHNOLOGY), then it becomes apparent that technological solutions are largely a waste of time.

I myself have cut my winter heating use by about 80% (in chilly upstate New York), with simple techniques that cost almost nothing and use 30-year-old technology, while still staying warm. This stuff is so easy. It's laughable to see all you TOD guys fretting about a 10% or 20% decline in energy availability. I can cut my energy use by 80% with no effort at all.


I love the walkable city photos you have on your blog.

I just discovered this little pedestrian only street in Minneapolis behind the WelnaII hardware store off E Franklin ave. It is wonderful. Like having a park for a front yard. There is just enough pavement to support delivery/moving vehicles. But the rest of the "street" is wooded and parklike. I think it might be possible to convince more homeowners to go for that kind of arrangement (we have back allys for garages and garbage pickup) for a cut in property taxes. Give up the street - get a free park!

So how did you cut your winter heating use 30%?

It's Milwaukee Ave and it is a block that got cut in half.


It's essentially an alley that they don't let cars go down. Everyone has to park elsewhere.

"It's laughable to see all you TOD guys fretting about a 10% or 20% decline in energy availability. I can cut my energy use by 80% with no effort at all."

As one who has powered down dramatically, I agree with the 'can', but not the 'will'. Americans and their economy are geared to the current level of energy use. You and I have powered down voluntarily. Others will be forced to. This has certain sociological and economic implications that, IMO, will be traumatic. Therefore I "fret".

The recent economic downturn in our area has resulted in reduced electrical usage, mainly due to closing businesses, vacant realestate, and folks forced to conserve. The local utility implemented its largest rate increase ever to offset reduced demand and has indicated that rates will likely rise again next year. Grid weenies are suffering through the winter as other energy costs have increased as well. This meets the definition of a feedback loop.

If everyone is forced to reduce consumption, reduced investment in infrastructure results and per-unit energy costs rise. Debts don't get paid and credit becomes constrained. I expect that a new normal will be achieved, but the ultimate victim will be (is) the growth based economy. Therefore we "fret".

Nobody will be "forced" to reduce their energy use. They also will do it voluntarily, most likely in response to higher prices. However, since everyone will be doing the same thing, they won't feel that it is any hardship. Probably, they won't even notice. Most people are afraid, mostly, of doing something that is different than other people. It has nothing to do with how much energy they use.

I posted a few months ago a personal story with numbers about ditching a 4.0L SUV for a 1.5L Honda in a $$$ neutral way: old car payment + old car gas + old car maintenance + old car insurance ~= new car payment + new car gas + new car insurance + old car payment. The change reduced my oil "footprint" by 20%, albeit from Canadian sky high values.

Former Shell Oil president: $5 for a gallon of gasoline in 2012

The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.

In an interview with Platt's Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.

"I'm predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices," he said.

Those EVs are looking better & better!

Yair...You guys still have it pretty good. Local price for unleaded on Christmas Eve was the equivalent of $5.14 US gallon...and these days our dollars are pretty close to parity.

With reference to comment upthread. I realize there is "economy of scale" in your market and there are different tax regimes but it is difficult for us here in Australia to get our heads around just how inexpensive your vehicles and consumer goods are.

If that Tundra was available here it would sell for around sixty thousand dollars. As a comparison, the basic Toyota Landcruiser one ton tray back work truck (the only way you can get a V8) costs just over sixty.

As for boats. A basic unpainted alloy fourteen footer with a tiller steered twenty five runs ten to twelve thousand...and a slide on camper would start at around twenty five.

I'm looking it buying a zero turn mower and, via the wonder of the web, I see that a forty eight inch Toro retails for about half what I will have to pay here.

As long as the car companies stay in business, the case for EVs will continue to get better.

However, all indications are that they will go bankrupt once again during the next oil price spike. They still don't have a product mix ready for decline, they have high fixed costs, they will blow through any cash they have amassed very quickly because they will think this is temporary...

And so on.

Do your best to purchase an EV from a company you think is likely to be selected by the government to survive because I doubt very much that all three domestic manufacturers will get through the next bottleneck.

The global car companies made it through the last incident surprisingly well. That is, in my view, highly unlikely to occur again. Watch for some very big names to close their doors forever in the next price spike.

Why wouldn't they get bailed out again by the government?

It's possible that they will but I think it will be very much more difficult for that to occur with the next congress. The bailouts just barely happened the last time.

If they do get bailed out, will all of them receive money or will a favorite be selected? (Presumably the strongest should get the bailout but politics will play a big role in determining the winner.)

But let's say that they are all bailed out again, how many car companies do you think the world economy can support when oil is down by 10 million barrels per day? How about when it's down by 30 million barrels per day?

The car companies were lucky this time considering that two dozen airlines shut down during the GFC. I don't think they are going to be as lucky the next time. The death of most car companies is, in my view, inevitable because they won't be able to adjust as quickly as they will need to and customers will not be given the credit to purchase cars (90% of all vehicles in the U.S. are purchased on credit).

Prediction alert: we'll have at least a dozen less car companies by 2020, my guess is closer to two dozen less.

Toyota — 7,234,439
GM — 6,459,053
Volkswagen — 6,067,208,200
Ford — 4,685,394
Hyundai Kia — 4,645,776
PSA — 3,042,311
Honda — 3,012,637
Nissan — 2,744,562
Fiat — 2,460,222
Suzuki — 2,387,537
Renault — 2,296,009
Daimler AG — 1,447,953
Chana Automobile — 1,425,777
BMW — 1,258,417
Mazda — 984,520
Chrysler — 959,070
Mitsubishi — 802,463
Beijing Automotive — 684,534
Tata — 672,045
Dongfeng Motor — 663,262
FAW — 650,275
Chery — 508,567
Fuji — 491,352
BYD — 427,732
SAIC — 347,598
Anhui Jianghuai — 336,979
Geely — 330,275
Isuzu — 316,335
Brilliance — 314,189
AvtoVAZ — 294,737
Great Wall — 226,560
Mahindra — 223,065
Shangdong Kaima — 169,023
Proton — 152,965
China National — 120,930
Volvo — 105,873
Chongqing Lifan — 104,434
Fujian Motor Industry Group — 103,171
Kuozui — 93,303
Shannxi Auto — 79,026
Porsche — 75,637
Ziyang Nanjun — 72,470
GAZ — 69,591
Navistar — 65,364
Guangzhou Auto — 62,990
Paccar — 58,918
Chenzhou Ji'ao — 51,008
Qingling Motor — 50,120
Hebei Zhongxing — 48,173
Ashok Leyland — 47,694

Can you bail out just one? Don't they have suppliers in common? If you let 2 of the big 3 fail can the third's suppliers survive on just the one?

Good question. I don't know enough about their supply chains but many of them probably won't survive with just one client. We've discussed that sort of tight coupling here before and it's all over the economy. Noah Raford discusses exactly this point:

The Bucky-Gandhi Design Institution » Noah Raford - Collapse Dynamics - 26 May 2009 - London School of Economics

Collapse Dynamics: Phase Transitions in Complex Systems

That why I think we are headed for a very, very big step down:

Staircase Model

We have created a tightly coupled and brittle system.

VW made 6 billion cars? They must be #1 ;>))

Missed that! The source has the same mistake...don't know which are the incorrect numbers for sure but taking off the last three digits is a start!

There will probably be more auto manufacturers, rather than less.

As your list shows, many of these manufacturers are new ones in China, India and elsewhere. The trend of new companies starting up in developing countries and old companies closing in developed countries will continue. Probably more will start in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America than close in North America, Europe and East Asia.

Secondly, the change from ICE to EV means that the existing manufacturers will be partly replaced by companies with expertise in electric motors and generators and batteries. The sunk costs in the design and manufacture of internal combustion engines, transmissions and associated systems will be a drag on existing companies. Building the bodies, running gear, interiors, electronics, etc. are not hard to get into, and the difficult parts can be manufactured by the existing supplier networks.

Tesla is not on your list.

Good points. We will likely see a changing of the guard.

First the larger companies will collapse and just a few will get through reorganization. Then there will be a lot of small manufacturers spring up, though I doubt very many of them will make highway capable cars unless the currently stringent regulations ( == high cost to design a car) are relaxed.

So we'll go from whatever the number is above down to 1/4 the number then back up and possibly more than the number we have today. I still think we'll be down by two dozen by 2020, however. And most of the new car companies will likely just make golf carts for neighborhood uses.

My guess is that Tesla doesn't make enough cars to be on the list (yet).


Another factor is that the number of car companies is partly determined by the politics of industrial planning. For example, there are a large number of Japanese manufacturers, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fuji, Isuzu, Suzuki, etc., and these have not been consolidated by free enterprise financial institutions in the same way as America or European manufacturers. Korea did undergo some consolidation during the '97 Asian financial crisis, but it was not something they would have done without Western financial institutions forcing it.

Japan can muster the manpower to engineer a large number of vehicles. They produce about the same number of engineering grads as the US, but they do not devote half of them to military R&D.

Interesting. Your take is that the amount of manpower available will determine (in large part) the number of designs a country can produce.

This seems to be a solid variable to consider but surely it's not the only one. The general health of the economy must play at least as large a role. No economy == very few car manufacturers...no matter how many car engineers there are.

Available engineering manpower would be a constraint on how many car designs can be produced, and more importantly, how many automated factory production systems can be designed. Further, the cost of engineering manpower affects the economics of producing new designs and of operating multiple car companies. To some extent, it reduces the high fixed costs of the industry, and the high fixed costs are a major factor in financial consolidation.

Note that the consolidation of the US auto industry from dozens of car manufacturers to only 3 is not explained by economic hard times. It occured during good times.

A large part of the list you posted are Chinese manufacturers. Whether they are narrowed to 3 per US industrial policy or to several per Japanese industrial policy is going to be determined more by Chinese policy than economics.

"There will probably be more auto manufacturers, rather than less. "

I would add a possible "thirdly:"

... deep into catabolic collapse the number* of automakers increases dramatically as auto-making becomes highly localized... ?

(* - no WAG for the volume of autos produced, or for fuel sources and availability)


e.g. Maybe millions of local costum-builders could work out some interesting combinations of Wood-fueled pickup trucks and Wooden Cars.

I don't see more... and I see many less. Look at the history of automobiles in the US. At one time there were many companies (remember Studebaker, Packard, Willys, etc.). Then, through mergers and closings (American Motors being one of the more recent), there were the 'big three.'

I see perhaps 6 to 10 survivors worldwide. Perhaps a few local companies. Those which survive will be the EV people. Until even EV's are seen as unsustainable. Then the factories that produce buses, LRVs and train cars will be left to provide vehicles for transit.

Any thoughts about airplane producers (other than military)?


Any thoughts about airplane producers (other than military)?

One of the perennial problems aircraft manufacturers have is that aircraft just last too long. As jet fuel becomes more and more expensive, and airfares rise accordingly, I would expect aircraft usage to decrease, perhaps to the point where no new aircraft at all are needed. The existing stock will last a long time if usage drops by (say) 80%. A few planes will be kept flying, but most of them will be cannibalized for parts.

So my expectation is that all aircraft manufacturers will go out of the business of manufacturing aircraft. I think this could happen with surprising speed. Remember that almost all of the large civilian aircraft currently being made are made by about four companies (Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer). The manufacturers will become maintenance organizations, doing what is necessary to keep a few of the planes they once made airworthy. Gradually more and more aircraft will be withdrawn from service, probably the larger, less efficient, and shorter range ones first. It won't take much of an oil price increase to make air travel non-competitive with train travel. But when people want or need to cross oceans, they will have a strong preference for air travel rather than sea travel, and there will be enough very rich people wanting to travel to keep a low level of transoceanic air service going for many years.

I could see an increase in small ethanol powered planes being used for short commuter flights in some parts of the world. Embraer already has an ethanol powered crop duster. Its really a very nice little plane... I could easily imagine a twin engine ethanol powered commuter based on this engine.


Neiva, a subsidiary of Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer, recently delivered its 50th ethanol-powered Ipanema, a low-wing agricultural monoplane. Since 1973, Neiva has sold over 1,000 of the crop dusters, most of them in the Latin American market. The company began selling ethanol versions of the plane in 2002, which makes sense, considering that Brazil is one of the top ethanol producers in the world.

Embraer also has been selling ethanol conversion kits for customers who purchased earlier versions of the plane. The kits, manufactured by Textron Lycoming, sell for $240,000. Embraer says that in addition to reducing fuel costs, converting an Ipanema to ethanol cuts maintenance and operating costs by 20%.

Looks like they already have bigger plans in the works as well


Sugar Cane-Fueled Airliner On the Way

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer and General Electric are working with renewable fuel company Amyris to develop sugar cane-based jet fuel for airliners. They say a test flight by Brazilian airline Azul Linhas Aereas could come in early 2012.

Passenger and cargo service between major cities and hub airports should continue.

The big impact will be on general aviation and many smaller cities will loose service and close their airports.

Smaller aircraft are less efficient in seat-miles/gallons terms. Older aircraft are less efficient than new ones. So small and old aircraft will be parked, while new, highly-efficient aircraft will continue to be produced.

There may be at one more major pulse of new aircraft manufacturing:

The replacement of the current 737-700/800/900 and the A319/A320 fleets with 'Next Generation' Single-Aisle workhorses.

Aviation Week etc. has been running stories for years on when the next generation will be announced.

Airbus and Boeing are waiting for engine technologies (and other technologies) to advance to where efficiency gains on the order of 20% over current designs can be realized.

But in the meanwhile small incremental gains are being offered for the current fleets.

The 737/A319/A320 fleets dwarf all other jet airliner types combined in numbers, and trips legs flown.

ATR is considering offering a 90-person turboprop...their offering currently top out at ~ 70-passenger turboprops.

After the run-out of production for the NextGen 737 replacements, NG A319/A320, and 787 and Airbus A350W, and the 777/A340 & 747-8/A380, ... by that time ~2030, air travel in the scale we now know it may be done with.

Then again, 'air travel done with as we know it' may start manifesting itself as early as 2020...

Fox had a more in-depth piece on this story. In one corner is the Ex-Shell guy saying "Drill, baby, drill" and in the other corner is T. Boone. I don't think either of them have a soul -- just motivated by greed.

Former Oil Exec Predicts $5-a-Gallon Gas by 2012, Energy Shortages by Decade's End

Oil and gas magnate T. Boone Pickens is likewise pushing for U.S. production of both those energy sources in his high-profile campaign to pry the country off foreign oil. But that's just one component. His Pickens Plan organization argues that while the U.S. needs every ounce of domestic energy it can muster, there's not enough oil in all the potential U.S. deposits combined to make up for the 12 million barrels the United States imports every day.

I wish more people on the right would listen to hardcore conservative oil-man T.Boone when it comes to the fact that we just don't have much oil left such that we cannot drill our way out of problem. I expect them to ignore scientists and experts (those guys with their 'theory of evilution') but I would hope they would at least listen to the Texas oil-man that funded the Swift Boat Vets for truth.

Maybe if T. Boone goes on the Glenn Beck show?

Mr. Hofmeister is trying to break the bad news, but he does not mention that this is a permanent situation. He seems to indicate that more drilling will solve the problem.

If you look carefully at what people like Hofmeister say, they usually won't say that more domestic drilling will 'solve' the problem. They'll only say that more drilling will 'help' reduce foreign oil dependence. In the sense that more domestic oil produced means less imported . . . that may be true (although I have my doubts as I'll mention later). But they are really lying by omission. More domestic drilling will NEVER get us completely off foreign oil. We peaked in 1971 . . . and no matter who holds Congress or the Whitehouse . . . the imports went up every year.

However, as someone who probably owns millions of shares of Shell Oil stock, Hofmeister is likely to personally gain a lot of money if domestic drilling is increased . . . so you should never take such opinions from people with a massive vested interest very seriously.

In the long term, more domestic drilling probably just makes us MORE dependent on foreign oil. It allows our addiction to foreign oil to grow such that when we really do run low on domestic oil, we will be that much more addicted. Instead of shooting up with domestic heroin, we should start trying to taper off the drug. You wanna taper off with domestic oil? Fine . . . but taper off! . . . Don't just feed the addiction.

It is easy to get caught up in politics and worrying about which party has done the worse job.( Interesting no one, I know, talks about the best job.) Further, fun pontificating about what will be done to deal with budget shortfalls.

But the hard reality is that we can not afford to do most of what we presently do in the public sector. And as the oil issue unfolds it will only get worse.

Pushing too hard on the private sector, ie increasing taxes, in the face of perceived declining quality of life, will eventually bring out the pitchforks. Removing social supports will eventually do the same. There really is no way out of the mess we are in but a radical change in lifestyles and lower populations. It will be interesting to see how we get there.

Predictions for 2011
Posted By admin • on December 27, 2010

Everyone in the Peak Oil Community knows the danger of making predictions. As the poet Burns framed it, “The best-laid schemes o’Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley.” What gang aft agley more often than our energy and environmental situation these days? Trying to call the future is a challenging project. But ASPO-USA and Peak Oil Review have combined to pull together predictions about what we can expect in 2011 from a wide range of thinkers, writers, scholars and experts, who graciously agreed to risk being wrong so that you can have the inside scoop!


Patzek takes it!

Will, I would be happy to see Patzek's predictions come true. But -- and this is a big "but" -- we are forgetting that things are the way they are because the current situation benefits those who matter. Hence, we have an antiquated transportation system because Detroit, bankers and the unions feed on the automobile industry. Hence, we have a corporate-industrial food production and distribution system because it benefits Monsanto and Con-Agra and the "health" insurers. Hence, we have an educational system that is told that it must "compete" with popular culture if it hopes to keep the kiddies entertained. Hence, we are told that the earth's bounty is boundless and we can have anything that we want because it allows people who are old enough to know better to keep from growing up. As someone said, we get precisely the society that we deserve.

Tarzan, of course you are right. I just liked the cheekiness of Patzek's forecast.

Clearly we cannot do the smart things but we can smile when we read them.

I was equally entertained the other day when I read about how wonderfully the military hospitals in Afghanistan are doing. They are treating the local population!!! Winning hearts and minds!!!

The concept of offering foreigners, in an occupied country, "single payer" health care is so clever. I am waiting for the military to come to Wisconsin.

A New York Times science article says the oil situation today is a Cornucopian Feast.

Economic Optimism? Yes, I’ll Take That Bet

It’s true that the real price of oil is slightly higher now than it was in 2005, and it’s always possible that oil prices will spike again in the future. But the overall energy situation today looks a lot like a Cornucopian feast, as my colleagues Matt Wald and Cliff Krauss have recently reported. Giant new oil fields have been discovered off the coasts of Africa and Brazil. The new oil sands projects in Canada now supply more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia does. Oil production in the United States increased last year, and the Department of Energy projects further increases over the next two decades...

Maybe something unexpected will change these happy trends, but for now I’d say that Julian Simon’s advice remains as good as ever. You can always make news with doomsday predictions, but you can usually make money betting against them.

Ron P.

The author of course is John Tierney, who made the $5,000 bet with Matt Simmons. While Tierney has won this bet, it's interesting that he would have lost under the terms that Julian Simon proposed in 1980. From the article:

As an alternative to arguing, Julian offered to bet that the price of any natural resource chosen by a Malthusian wouldn’t rise in the future (in constant dollars).

Here is my comment on the blog:

It's interesting that under the terms of the bet that Julian Simon proposed in 1980, Mr. Tierney would have lost the bet with Matt Simmons.

In any case, despite a strong price signal--annual oil prices have exceeded, for five straight years, the annual price of $57 that we saw in 2005--global crude oil production has been at or below the 2005 annual rate for four years and for 2010 through September (EIA). This a point that Mr. Tierney elected not to mention.

Furthermore, Saudi oil production--and more importantly, net oil exports--have been below their 2005 annual rate for five straight years. This is another point that Mr. Tierney elected not to mention.

All of the foregoing is in marked contrast to the rapid increase in production and net exports that we saw from 2002 to 2005, but it is consistent with what other post-peak regions like Texas and the North Sea have shown.

Giant new oil fields have been discovered off the coasts of Africa and Brazil. The new oil sands projects in Canada now supply more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia does. Oil production in the United States increased last year,

Well you can mislead people as much as you want by cherry-picking your data. What if you said Mexico's great Cantarell field is in terminal decline, Norway's oil production is in terminal decline, Kuwait's Burgan field is in decline, and the UK's oil production is so bad that they just became a net importer of oil.

That Brazilian oil? Great stuff but only a very small amount is being extracted right now. Most of it is just a promise for the future and it will be many years before that oil really flows in quantity. Meanwhile, how bad will declines be elsewhere?

Like my Daddy always said " Figures don't lie but liars figure."

Maybe something unexpected will change these happy trends

Yeah, something like reality biting our cornucopian back sides

What is truly disturbing about Yes I'll Take that Bet, is not that Mr. Tierney is an admitted, crude ignoramus:

"Not because I knew much about Saudi oil production or the other “peak oil” arguments"

but rather that the New York Times lists his unscientific hokum ("I was just following a rule learned from a mentor and a friend, the economist Julian L. Simon." under its "Science" section of the paper.

A wager, and especially one about the "Price" thing, is not science.

It is hot air.
It is mere noises made by the bettors over yet another meaningless noise (Price).

The furthest that Mr. Tierney dares to concede before back tracking to his Cornucopian fields of energy too cheap to meter is this:

One of [Matt's] friends and fellow peak-oil theorists, Steve Andrews, said that while Mr. Simmons had made “a bet too far,” he was still correct in foreseeing more expensive oil. “The era of cheap oil has ended,” Mr. Andrews said, and predicted problems ahead as production levels off.

It’s true that the real price of oil is slightly higher now than it was in 2005, and it’s always possible that oil prices will spike again in the future. But ... the overall energy situation today looks a lot like a Cornucopian feast

Yeah, I was going to write a rant about this the other day but i'm ranting too much as is. It bizarre how proud he is of his ignorance as if that is something to be proud about. And then there is this "See, I was right!" arrogance that leads him to believe that he'll be right again in the future. No . . . you just happened to pick a bet with one of the more outspoken & (too) brash peaksters who made many over-pessistic pronouncements.

The price of oil *is* higher than it was back then . . . but not only that, it is higher during the worst economic conditions since the great depression. 10% of the population doesn't drive to work since they don't have jobs to drive to . . . yet we are still over $90/barrel.

The economists are right in that oil prices won't just rise up quickly (other than temporary speculative bubbles). But the reason that they are right is that the economy collapses and kills demand. It would have been nice if instead of being in denial about peak oil, they would have helpfully said "You know . . . if oil supply really is an issue then we should prepare for severe economic stress and perhaps collapse." Maybe a few more economists should be saying that now.


The economists are right in that oil prices won't just rise up quickly (other than temporary speculative bubbles). But the reason that they are right is that the economy collapses and kills demand.

I have this mental image of a grinding wheel (oil price) gradually eroding away oil demand (and the economy) to nothing.


bizarre how proud he is of his ignorance

Finding bliss in one's ignorance is nothing new.

For most people it is BAU.

Example: Not only do I not care where my electricity/ gasoline /other energy comes from, but actually I am very smart in that I understand that the market will always provide as Julian Simon has promised me. Therefore, unlike you, I am not wasting my valuable time researching something that will be taken care of by the Automatic Earth. On the other hand you are being stupid in fretting over something you cannot change. Ha. Take that you arrogant, pompous, Peak Everything "Theorist"/terrorist.

In regards to the Colonial Pipeline, in addition to gasoline shipments being allocated (that is pipeline shipments from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast for gasoline were already at maximum capacity) through the second week of 2011, distillates (mostly diesel and heating oil) are now also being allocated – quite likely due to the cold weather and increased export demand.

12/28/10 Reuters News 01:33:19
December 28, 2010

Colonial Pipeline allocates main distillate line for Cycle 2

Naveed Anjum in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar
Dec 28 (Reuters) - Colonial Pipeline said it was allocating its main distillate line north of Collins, Mississippi, for Cycle 2, as nominations on its line exceed the company's ability to meet the 5-day lifting cycle.

In a note to shippers sent late Monday, Colonial said it will announce committed and threshold volumes on Tuesday morning.

Along the southern part of the Magellan Pipeline system, gasoline is reported to be in short supply.

Map of system:

12/28/10 Reuters News 16:32:30

December 28, 2010

Magellan says southern tier short of gasoline

Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by David Gregorio

NEW YORK, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Magellan Midstream Partners LP said on Tuesday it is encountering shortages of unleaded gasoline in the Southern tier of its pipeline system because of increased demand.

The company has adequate gasoline supplies in the northern tier of its system and is meeting ultra-low sulfur diesel demand at all terminals, company spokesman Bruce Heine said.

"Our pipeline system is operating normally from a mechanical standpoint. N grade (unleaded gasoline) demand has been healthy over the holiday period," he added.

This is a tad surprising, since Midwest PADD gasoline supplies per the EIA in the week ending Dec. 17 were not unusually low. However MasterCard reports very strong gasoline sales last week:

US retail gasoline demand up 4.6 pct -MasterCard


Methods altered in jobless statistics

So many Americans have been jobless for so long that the government is changing how it records long-term unemployment.

Citing what it calls "an unprecedented rise" in long-term unemployment, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), beginning Saturday, will raise from two years to five years the upper limit on how long someone can be listed as having been jobless.

Well . . . this is a change that will make the situation look worse, not better. So you gotta give them credit for honesty in statistics. Most administrations just change the statistics to make them look better.

So, this accounting change should increase the commonly reported Unemployment rate?

Maybe not.

The change will probably affect data on the average duration of unemployment and won’t influence any other figures, including the jobless rate or the median length of joblessness, the Labor Department said.

It sounds like it should have no effect on U3, but it should have a big effect on U6.

Data tempers confidence in economic recovery

U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly deteriorated in December, while prices of U.S. single-family homes fell almost double the expected pace in October, tempering growing optimism on the economy's recovery.

The latest data was at odds with other signs suggesting the economic recovery is accelerating and a separate report last week showing consumer sentiment at its highest level since June this month.

The latest data was at odds with other signs suggesting the economic recovery is accelerating and a separate report last week showing consumer sentiment at its highest level since June this month.

Data like this, from the article:

Data released Tuesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs showed retail sales rose 4.8 percent for the week ended Dec. 25 compared to the year-earlier period, helped in part by shoppers who could shop all day on Christmas Eve, which was a day off for many given that Christmas fell on a Saturday this year.

Many consumers financed their X-Mas buying by cutting spending on other things. Gift giving during the holidays is a priority it seems, and folks use the sales to aquire items that they need such as clothing, spurred by colder weather perhaps.

Earlier reports indicated that sales were up 12%.

U.S. online retail sales through the first 40 days of the 2010 holiday shopping season are up 12% from a year ago, according to a Sunday update from ComScore. For the season to date, more than $21.95 billion has been spent online. For the week through December 10, spending totaled $5.15 billion, up 11% from the corresponding period last year.

The retail sales recovery seems to have petered out a bit (along with other sectors).

Meanwhile, metals are up again:

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Gold futures jumped as much as 1.7% on Tuesday, reclaiming the $1,400-an-ounce level, as the dollar fell against a broad range of currencies.

Copper also topped Monday’s record-high closing price.



China, ECB Gov't Bond Auctions Fail; Chinese Interbank Lending Rate Hits 5.67% vs. 3.68% Gov't Bills; ECB Monetizes Bond Purchases; Gold, Silver Soar

Gold and silver are up sharply with bank auction failures in China and Europe today. Interbank lending rates in China doubled in a week and hit a three-year high of 5.67% vs. the failed auction on 91-day securities yielding 3.68%. This was the Second China Failure This Month To Complete Bill Sale...

Is this a "year-end" thing or the start of a cash crunch?

Regardless, watch what happens when China's property bubble takes a big nosedive.

ECB Monetizes Bond Purchases

Meanwhile in Europe, the ECB fails to fully offset government bond buys, thereby monetizing 13.5 billion euros in government bond purchases...

edit: Sometimes I feel like I am reading directly from Manias, Panics and Crashes, and then remember this is today's reality.

It's interesting that a large percentage of the commenters are blaming the recession and joblessness on the Democrats and Obama. It will be interesting to see if they will start blaming the Republicans as things continue unchanged.

People, Fred, accept the spin that makes them feel good. Never mind facts...

And, they tend to believe the spin added by MSM reports and by Faux News. Which, of course, is tailored to sound 'good.' Truthiness rules.


Some recent news stories of interest:

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=130373 Oil rallies to new peak as freeze grips Europe, US

And oil prices may rise further this week amid expectations that stockpiles in the US are shrinking, a Bloomberg survey of analysts and traders showed. US oil stockpiles fell by 19-million barrels this month, or 5,3%, the most since December 2006.


Qatar Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said he did not expect Opec to increase production next year. Opec next meets in June.

http://www.ccjdigital.com/report-commercial-hybrid-sales-could-soar-10-f... Report: Commercial hybrid sales could soar 11-fold by 2010

Market research firm Pike Research forecasts that the sales of hybrid commercial trucks will grow from 9,000 in 2010 to more than 100,000 in 2015 as fleet operators respond to rising fuel costs and stricter emissions.

http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=25816 Diesel Finishes 2010 at Two-Year High $3.294

Diesel’s national average pump price finished 2010 at a more than two-year high, gaining 4.6 cents Monday to $3.294 a gallon, while gasoline topped the $3 level for the first time since October 2008, the Department of Energy reported.

Brent finished up $.50 to $94.51 today according to the International Gas and Oil Newspaper.

Stansberry always gets my attention:

Porter Stansberry: I'm fascinated by the way the crisis is unfolding. The U.S. government is still willing to add enormous amounts of new debt. And it is willing to underwrite not only quantitative easing in the U.S. but also fund it in Europe as well. These are symptoms of a much bigger ongoing problem-the enormous sovereign debt crisis in the Western democracies.

I think we're going to see a lot more quantitative easing. We're going to have to see a lot more fiscal deficit growth going forward, especially with a union between the Republican House that wants to cut taxes and the Obama administration that wants to extend benefits. "You let us cut taxes and we'll agree to extend benefits." Of course, that's the worst of both worlds in terms of our fiscal position because it will result in vastly bigger spending and less tax revenue. There's no other government that will even attempt adding vast new debts at this stage in the game. Americans still have no idea of the risks our government is taking with our currency. [emphasis mine]

Yeah . . . there should have been no tax deal. The old rates should have returned and let's get real.

Nope. We just kicked the can down the road and continue praying for a magic economic recovery to us.

Not gonna happen. The slog will continue.

....though Stansberry doesn't seem to have made the connection between agriculture and energy yet:

PS: Hard money is the most important inflation hedge, something like gold and silver, for the simple reason that if you own plenty of gold and silver you can buy any other commodities you need because you own real money. Then energy comes in behind agriculture because you have to eat before you drive your car anywhere.

I guess he thinks combines run on fairy dust.

Yeah . . . there should have been no tax deal. The old rates should have returned and let's get real.

I'm right there with you on that one speculawyer. I was in shock when there was consensus on extending the Bush tax cuts. It makes no sense whatsoever. In fact we just hit 14 trillion in debt!

At a time when the country is posting the highest deficits in the history of any country, massive tax cuts are offered across the board. As the debt increases and QE's are orchestrated, the value of the dollar sinks, oil rises and that puts greater pressure on the economy. It would have been much better like you say to let those tax cuts expire.

The economy would have been much healthier as a result. Has anyone considered the fact that the tax cuts apply to those already working, not those seeking work? Like I say, I'm in shock.

But on another note, we are continually being told there will be no double dip. Oh really. Well, here's an article that suggests it is fast approaching, at least in real estate.


Double-Dip In Housing Almost Here, According To Case-Shiller Index

“On a year-over-year basis, sales are down more than 25% and the month’s supply of unsold homes is about 50% above where it was during the same months of last year.”

The real problem I have with Porter is that his goal seems to be to help the wealthy maintain during the calamity that impends. His goal is contra-productive to survival of the planet and the human race over a long term, and aims to establish a new BAU that is not sustainable. At least that is what I have seen from his sites and posts.

Having said that, he appears correct about the impending financial collapse.


If you thought the fighting over handicapped spaces was bad...from Roadshow:

What in the world is wrong with drivers who park their gas-powered cars in electric charging stations at places like Costco and Fry's? Why do the rules of civility not apply to these blatantly egocentric pinheads? Aren't they embarrassed? Can any of your readers defend this astounding mentality?

This may not be the worse of it for e-car drivers. I expect when we get another gasoline price spike we'll start seeing more stories of vadalism against all the non-ice's. Angry small minded people will want to punish someone for the high cost of their last fill-up. E-cars will be just too tempting for many.

Hi Rockman,

You may be giving angry, small minded people too much credit. Most of them probably don't know an ICE from an EV from a Hybrid. A couple of years back a co-worker of mine was complaining about how ugly hybrids were. His example was the Honda Element(?), which of course was not a hybrid.

Just wait till there's a gasoline shortage. Then the ... er ... sparks will really fly. Angry people will want to punish those who can afford E-cars, being that they are still rather expensive.

Of course, then it's the Gas-car owning Vandals who will be paying for your upgrades via their insurance.. (if they're caught)

Dad's Prius Battery just plotzed. I'm back into chewing over how we fight the 'Planned Obsolescence' beast in the coming years, as we try to find equipment that will Last. How do we make a case that lets a company WANT to build products that don't require replacement in short order?

Speaking of durable Gear, I was just at an AG store, and salivating over their Scythe collection.. as I'm ready to ditch these weed-wackers with their silly strings an sound effects.. looked like about $140 for the blade and the ..errr, handle-thingy with the wierd name. [There, now the hardcores can tell me how doomed I am, not knowing that crucial bit of nomenclature..]

"SNATH".. why in world would you call ANYTHING a snath?

I expect when we get another gasoline price spike we'll start seeing more stories of vadalism against all the non-ice's. Angry small minded people will want to punish someone for the high cost of their last fill-up. E-cars will be just too tempting for many.

Small-minded indeed for that EV owner actually helped LOWER the price of gas by reducing gas demand.

I've never seen one of those stations; I wonder if they're located near the front door and some people (especially if they can't afford expensive toys) resent that.

I wonder if people just take advantage because they can. Even if you post a sign warning of a fine, some will park there anyway, just like some people on their own drive in the comuter lane on the freeway. There's an old saying that gets across the idea of people getting away with what they can, "If a dog can get up on the couch, it will." Meaning some people, not all, will get away with anything they can and there's no more moral aptitude to their decision than a dog jumping up on the couch to see if it can get away with it.

To illustrate this point, all we need look to is the mortgage meltdown. One dog was provided an opportunity to jump up on the couch due to deregulation, then another jumped up on the couch, then another, then another, until it became a moral abyss followed by a financial catastrophe.

If someone is actually parking it in a spot, presumably in front of a store or their work, what exactly makes this a 'Toy', Paul? Really, people who are using these seem to be looking for ways to get to where they need to go, which I think makes it a tool.

You might have gotten lost, and meant to make your toy comment over in the thread where they were talking about Campers and Motorboats..

Have any recommendations on charging stations? The new ones on the market are too pricey. I know many that would install reasonable priced stations at their place of business just to get the ball rolling.

Funny you should ask that. The charging station in the picture I believe is being installed at various places in south Florida at very low cost by the someone involved with the South Florida EV association. I'm pretty sure I have his business card somewhere. I'll try and find it. Send me an email at my posted email and I'll let you know if I find it.

I'm on a roll this morning (PST). Forget about the immorality of humankind in the face of any opportunity whatsoever. Instead check out the squiggly line indicating ice extent in the Artic. It is dipping below the average. Could it be that as cold air descends out of the circumpolar air track down into the east coast and Europe, the Arctic is warmer and thus less ice builds up? Is it a temporary phenomenon or will it become the new norm?

You can left click on the photo to enlarge it.

Seems a recent report of the Alaskan pipeline flow was pretty much ignored by the mainstream media, but they also do have a nice curve of the flow on the last page of the PDF that might look like a familiar shape....

"More than 16 billion barrels have moved through the Trans
Alaska Pipeline System since start up in 1977. The volume of
oil flowing through the pipeline has decreased from a peak
of 2.1 million barrels per day in 1988 to about 671,000 bpd
in 2010.
Alaska today supplies nearly 17% of the United
States’ domestic crude oil production."


(If this did get covered in a recent drumbeat and I missed it, then sorry for the duplication.)

That 671,000 barrels per day differs from what the EIA says Alaska produced. They say that the average for the first 11 months of 2010 was 598,000 barrels per day. In no single month during 2010 did they produce that much oil.

Table 3.1 Petroleum Overview

Ron P.

Before there was WikiLeaks, there was the National Archives.

I was scanning some of the 11M records of the National Archives Online and ran across these nuggets from long, long ago. It seems the energy situation was discussed in some detail at the embassy level and they understood Peak Oil. It’s spooky how close these conversations parallel today’s oil situation. Based on this historic chatter, there should be hundreds of ‘peak oil’ related files in the WikiLeaks stash (if they’ll ever get around to releasing them).

Prospects of North Sea Oil Development: Oct 1975

…As predicted earlier, this year's exploration drilling has reached a plateau, if not a peak, instead of showing a substantial 50 percent increase. Little if any publicity has been given to the grim fact that out of more than twenty discoveries within the past year, only one find has been declared "commercial" by an oil company.

… Unless further exploration and especially new development activity resumes, Britain's period of self-sufficiency could be short-lived, possibly a period of five to eight years after which the production plateau would slowly tail off.

And an interesting chat between President Ford, Sect. Shultz and Kissenger on the Shah of Iran here

Shultz: … The Shah told me then he offered to fill our Salt Dome for $1.00 a barrel. …he [Shah] said to me: “Why are you buying from Saudi Arabia when I haven't used oil as a weapon?"

Kissinger: That’s an interesting proposition. A lower price over a long period would be a way of breaking the cartel.

Shultz: He wanted to register these general points: First, the era of cheap energy is over. I told him the price could erode. He calls oil a noble resource, because of its many uses. Second, he said he hopes to develop nuclear energy -for Iran.

Text of US Ambassador to Kuwait’s article to US Business Community - Unclassified

On the effect [the New Petroleum Revenue] will have on Kuwait’s economy. Jun 1974:

It is not difficult to foresee the government and its citizens embarking on a program to use as much of this new revenue as can be productively employed in raising the already high living standards of the people, ...

To this end, the government will spend relatively large sums on public services ... . Simultaneously in an attempt to maximize income from its fossil fuel resources and concurrently reduce its dependence on the production and sale of petroleum, the government, in tandem with the private sector, can also be expected to develop a solid economic base to prepare for the day when oil production peaks and gradually tapers off.

… Ultimately, though, it must be acknowledged that Kuwait has a small, if rapidly growing, population of less than a million people -- the majority of whom are not citizens. This means the economy cannot hope to absorb more than a fraction of these vast new funds. As a result much of this money will be channeled into development projects abroad …, other large sums of money will be recycled back to the major petroleum consuming states to ensure a sound return on equity and to preserve the country's wealth for future generations. How can the United States' businessman best tap this lucrative market?

On problems related to investment of financial surpluses by oil producers and here

On How OPEC has OECD by the stones Education of delegations on prospects for oil market during next decade – 1974

Conclusions on future world oil availability and prices – Jun 1974

Conclusions on future world oil availability and prices must be tentative because we have had no experience with price changes even approaching the magnitude of those in the recent past and because attitudes and intentions of major producing countries are still poorly defined. We have little historical basis for estimating either the consumption or production response to such major changes in prices

Gulf Oil [Company] Increases exploration in Gabon.

GOG[Govt. of Gabon] obviously very pleased by increased work in gulf concessions and it bodes well for Gabonese future. GOG has been counting on additional oil finds to replace current producing fields which will reach peak in next several years in order to pay costs of Gabon's ambitious development program.

Venezuelan Oil Production Falls

Preliminary data given to press show that Venezuelan oil production averaged just under 3 million b/d for month of may. Venezuelan oil production has been declining steadily since it reached its peak of 3.7 million b/d in 1970, and decline has recently been accelerated

Viewing Drumbeat today, with more than 300 comments already, I wondered whether there was some way that comments could be assigned to the items to which they respond? It is daunting to consider reading the total numbers when one is interested in perhaps one or two postings.


That's not possible, not least because many comments are not linked to any of the items I posted.

However, you can collapse the threads you are not interested in. Click on the little minus sign in the upper left of the "parent" comment, and it and all its "children" will collapse.

I believe SuperG has given some thought to making Drumbeats "no comments," and instead having a message board where current events can be discussed, but I have no idea how serious he is about that, or when it might happen.

Thanks. After all this time, I did not know about the minus sign! (Shows how unobservant I can be, I guess)

I think "no comments" would be a bit off. OTOH, having an independent board for current events could be interesting.



If you are logged-in when you read the beats, then new ones will have the "[new" flag attached to them and you can use the search function on your browser to jump to them alone

Alternatively you can search by date or by hunting for your moniker if those are the ones you are looking for

best wishes for fruitful hunting ;-)

Ok, alright, my posts this morning have fallen on deaf ears, much like my chicken wings bombed at our Xmas party. But, alas I have an 'OIL BASED ARTICLE' to share! So at least I'm on topic.

http://www.oil-price.net/ At that link which will show today's oil price, and scroll down to an article entitled, then click on the full article:

'Do Rising Oil Prices Predict Another Economic Recession? By STEVE AUSTIN, 2010/12/13'

Reaching New Highs: Experts predict that the end of the year 2010 might see the crude oil prices rise to $90 per barrel which would bring the already tottering economy to its knees. The economy is still running at its sluggish pace whereas the oil prices are rising unaffected by the situation of the economy. This non-elastic relationship has forced people to accept the fact that these high oil prices might just cause another recession in the year 2010 (I think he meant 2011). The reason a crash might be on the cards is not just the primary fact that the oil prices are rising but that the prices are rising at a fast rate making it impossible for the economy to keep up with it.

Someone who gets the link between oil price and the economy - hey what do you know!

Heads up. The former CEO of Shell Oil is currently on CNN. He just said that we could return back to the level of production in the 1970s if we would relax drilling restrictions. Unfortunately, the interviewers have no clue as to how absurd that is...

Yeah, I was screaming at the TV, with no clue how absurd that was ;-)

Any predictions as to what the all-liquids flow rate will be in 2030?

Gas up 25 cents in one day?!

Took a stroll down the alley to pick up some milk and donuts at my favorite(only?) neighborhood gas station. Checked out the price of gas like I always do and almost had a coronary! $3.14! Now I know thats not much by other parts of the country standards but when I got home around 5pm it was $2.89. Keep in mind I'm talking about the cheap 90/10 ethanol blend crap(Silver grade). A whole quarter in one day. Wow. The cashier and I had a short discussion about it and she said there were quite a few complaints from customers shortly after they changed the price.

Will 2011 be the next 2008?

Will 2011 be the next 2008?

From the beginning of the peak plateau in May 2005, until the price topped out at 147 in July 08, was a time period of 3 yrs 2 months. Not sure what month the price was back down at 35, but I think it was Aug. 08. If we add that same timeframe of 3 yrs 2 mo's after 08/08, it occurs in Oct. 2011.

OPEC will not be meeting again until June of this year and have no plans to increase production. If non-opec has no spare capacity to bring on line, then supply remains constant until at least June?! With the US economy supposedly bouncing back, and Chindia importing ever more for their thriving, growing economies, the price surely can only go up.

Is everybody ready for the next economic step down to occur in 2011? Something my wife and I have been working on is securing multiple ways of making money. We have our two primary businesses, and now three other businesses we can do part time to bring in more if the first two lose ground. The key is to remain adaptable to learning new skills, versatile in shifting to other sources of income in these scary, changing times. Like a free safety in football, be ready to move to whatever brings in the green. Stay frosty!

China to cut crucial rare earths export quotas

"China said it is reducing the amount of rare earths it will export for the first half of the year by more than 10 percent -- likely to be an unpopular move worldwide since the minerals are vital to the manufacture of high-tech products."

"..China has been reducing export quotas of rare earths over the past several years to cope with growing demand at home. A Commerce Ministry spokesman has also said that China is cutting its exploration, production and exports out of environmental concerns.."

(from Yahoo Finance...and many others).

Well what to say , ELM + environmental disaster at full power!

For more about Chinese environmental problems due to rare earth metals mining see here and here