Drumbeat: January 3, 2011

UK joins 'gas rush' despite pollution fears

A controversial new technique for drilling gas wells, which campaigners say has polluted water courses in America, is to be tried for the first time in Britain later this month.

Supporters of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" say it could unleash so much gas across the globe that it will solve the energy crisis for the next century, as well as help reduce carbon emissions.

But an Oscar-shortlisted documentary film, released in Britain later this month, claims the use of the process in America has resulted in gas contaminating water supplies. Such is the concern that New York has introduced a moratorium on exploration of gas in the state while safety concerns are looked into.

2010 Oil Production Was Very Disappointing, And The EIA Is Playing Number Games

The dramatic fall of Mexican oil production, and its largest field Cantarell, is often cited as a signature example of the problems facing Non-OPEC supply. Since the production highs of 2004-2005, Mexican production has lost over 800 kbpd (thousand barrels per day) which is fairly dramatic for a country that was producing around 3.4 mbpd as recently as 5-6 years ago.

But as accelerated as these declines have been in Mexico, another oil producing region has seen even quicker declines. The North Sea, which comprises “United Kingdom Offshore, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands Offshore, and Germany Offshore” has just lost 25% of its production in less than 24 months, falling over a million barrels a day.

Bolivian president cancels gasoline price increase

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivian President Evo Morales says an abruptly canceled plan to hike fuel prices is the right thing to do, and his country should prepare for it to happen "someday."

Morales says the measure "was not an error" and must be resurrected at some point.

Gas and diesel prices have been frozen for six years, and officials say Bolivia is paying $380 million a year to subsidize gasoline imports. Much of that is smuggled to neighboring countries where prices are higher.

Ashraf blames previous govt for energy crisis

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, the minister blamed the previous government for the energy crisis in the country, saying that that energy had been the greatest challenge for the government, which it had inherited from the previous regime. “The failure of the past government is manifested from the fact that it did not add even a single megawatt to the national grid, thus widening the power supply and demand gap in the country,” Ashraf said.

Pakistan: Cutlery export declines 40pc

SIALKOT - The unending prolonged power and gas loadshedding has badly affected the 75 per cent production of cutlery industry. The cutlery manufacturers and exporters have expressed grave concern over the worst energy crisis, aggregating day by day in export-oriented Sialkot city.

Petroleum products: 'fresh increase to prove catastrophic for economy'

FAISALABAD: New hike in Petroleum products would drastically increase the cost of production of exportable goods which would become unacceptable to foreign buyers. This will create multiple problems for overall economy and badly hit particularly the industrial sectors apart from adding untold miseries to the common man, said Wasim Latif, Chairman and Adil Manzoor Ellahi, Vice Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association(PTEA) while talking to newsmen.

Civil disobedience if hike in POL prices not withdrawn: PTI

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Sunday warned the government of launching civil disobedience if it failed to withdraw hike in fuel prices that gave a blow to the common man struggling to keep intact the relation of his body and soul.

Fired up without any gas

Tempers are rising across Punjab over the lack of gas reaching homes and industries. In some cases, it seems we have reverted back to the Stone Ages. People desperate to make a meal collect wood to light outdoor fires. In factories, efforts are being made to run machinery manually.

Bangaladesh: Energy situation: No room for foot-dragging

In spite of all assurances coming from the policymakers of the incumbent government for the last couple of years, the energy crisis instead of subsiding has turned rather serious. Indications are galore that the crisis might aggravate further in the coming months.

The cooking stoves at homes in Dhaka and other cities remain gas-starved since morning until late afternoon. Gas- based mills and factories are operating well below their capacities. CNG filling stations are being kept closed between 5pm to 9pm everyday to save gas. New mills and factories set up at an estimated cost of over Tk.60 billion could not be pressed into operation because of gas supply shortage. The loss of production due to non-availability of enough gas, according to an unofficial estimate, is equivalent to 2.0 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

Energy crunch dims investment hope

Industrialists and entrepreneurs look to the New Year amid high hopes after searching for answers to power shortage and gas crisis and wobbly infrastructure in the immediate past year.

On the domestic front, rising food and fuel prices remains a major concern for the authorities

But the rising crude oil prices in the global front and the food output shortage in the major producing states and nations due to bad weather is causing the trouble. The food inflation which came out the other day rose to 14.44% in the week ended 18 December from 12.13% in the previous week while the fuel price inflation rose to 11.63% against 10.74%.

Swaziland: No fuel, govt cars grounded

MBABANE – Some vehicles used by government ministries and departments were grounded during the Christmas holidays because their drivers were not allowed to get fuel from the Central Transport Administration (CTA) depots.

Why permaculture: Energy descent, solar case study

What I am finding is that a solar electric system, despite having three solar arrays does not cover the energy needs of our farm. The chart below shows this year’s actual power use vs. what we generate. This chart would be more favorable in the southwest four corners area of the U.S. where we used to get 300 sunny days per year. But in the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the country where we have largely cloudy winters, we use up any surplus generated during the summer and the system runs in a deficit. Note how the green kwh generated line only rises above usage for about three plus months. The end of the year is shocking as generation drops off to almost zero and energy use rises just from electric space heat.

Kurt Cobb: The Electric Car Fetish

Many automobile enthusiasts believe that the electric car is the wave of the future that will help save the environment while expanding the availability of private transport to the world's growing middle class. They are likely wrong on both counts.

Cleaner tractors get cool reception from farmers

MILWAUKEE – Farm equipment manufacturers are rolling out cleaner tractors to meet stricter new federal air regulations, but many in the industry say the challenge will be getting farmers to put the high-priced models into fields during hard economic times.

Used Car Prices Higher Than Ever

Lately, the used-car market has thrived as the new-car market has struggled. The problem for consumers is that used-vehicle demand has outstripped supply, sending prices skyward. It's not unusual for price tags to be up $3,000 in some product segments in the last five years.

Moped laws on agenda as fatalities continue to climb

Too slow to keep up with highway traffic and too fast to be easily passed, mopeds increasingly are involved in fatal accidents across the USA. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) reports the number of fatalities involving mopeds doubled between 2005 and 2009, from 48 to 96.

Legislation aimed at cutting down that figure is pending or was adopted last year in a dozen states, according to Anne Teigen of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Leak shuts Exxon Mobil platform in Gulf of Mexico

(Reuters) - An Exxon Mobil oil and gas production platform in Gulf of Mexico block West Delta 73 has been shut due to a small leak, a filing with the U.S. National Response Center said Monday.

Homo Economicus versus person-in-community

The problem with Homo economicus (the abstract picture of a human being on which economic theory is based) is that she is an atomistic individual connected to other people and things only by external relations. John Cobb and I (For the Common Good) proposed instead the concept of “person-in-community” whose very identity is constituted by internal relations to others in the community. I can only define myself by reference to these relations in community.

Cornell University engineers bring clean water to thousands of Hondurans

The crucial component to the AguaClara technology is its simplicity and cost effectiveness. The team of Cornell engineers under the lead of Dr. Monroe Weber-Shirk, were able to create a technology comprised of low-cost filters and chemical treatments harnessing natural gravitational forces rather than expensive electrical currents. The five plants currently installed in small towns throughout Honduras are built with local materials, operated by local people, and cost residents less than $2 a month for clean potable drinking water.

Iraq, Jordan Agree to Build Crude Oil Pipelines, Develop Risha Gas Field

Iraq, holder of the world’s fifth- biggest crude reserves, agreed to build pipelines across its shared border with Jordan to increase supplies of oil to its western neighbor, Iraqi State Minister Ali al-Dabbagh said.

...The proposed pipeline marks another step in Iraq’s effort to rebuild and reintegrate itself into the regional economy, after suffering for years from war and sanctions. Iraq’s government plans early this year to invite bids for the construction of oil and gas pipelines into Syria, to complement its existing export link for crude terminating at the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Turkey.

Iran Assumes OPEC Presidency

Iran assumed the presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as of January 1, 2011, for the first time in 36 years.

Iranian oil minister Masoud Mir-Kazemi was elected as OPEC president at a one-day meeting of the Vienna-based Organization.

Aramco Receives Bids for Shaybah Gas Project, Al-Riyadh Says

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, received bids for the construction of a $1.07 billion plant to process non-associated gas, al-Riaydh reported, citing a Saudi firm bidding for the contract.

Marathon cancels Gulf of Mexico rig deal

(Reuters) - Noble Corp said on Monday that Marathon Oil Co has canceled a $752 million contract for a deepwater drilling rig due to work in the Gulf of Mexico.

Noble believes the Noble Jim Day rig is ready to begin operations and should have been accepted by Marathon.

Kunstler: Forecast 2011 - Gird Your Loins for Lower Living Standards

The outstanding question from the get-go of 2011 is just this: can a political economy be kept floating along like a Winnie-the-Pooh balloon on gusts of sheer fakery? To me, the simple answer is no. The people running things in the USA have tried everything from pervasive accounting fraud to complete opacity in trading procedures to looting the republic's future. The consensus trance of "recovery" makes itself manifest through every conduit of public utterance - cable TV news, The New York Times, the pronouncements of every last elected official - even though the Gross Domestic Product index omits items such as food, gasoline, and heating oil in its calibrations, while heaping on fictional "hedonic" adjustments.

Drilling Is Stalled Even After Ban Is Lifted

More than two months after the Obama administration lifted its ban on drilling in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, oil companies are still waiting for approval to drill the first new oil well there. Experts now expect the wait to continue until the second half of 2011, and perhaps into 2012.

The administration says it is simply trying to enforce new safety rules adopted in the wake of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Environmental groups say the administration is right to take its time because the Gulf disaster exposed the risks of offshore drilling.

But the delay is hurting big oil companies such as Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which have billions of dollars in investments tied up in Gulf projects that are on hold and are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a day for rigs that aren't allowed to drill. Smaller operators such as ATP Oil & Gas Corp., which have less flexibility to focus on projects in other regions, have been even harder hit.

New Scrutiny Slams Near-Shore Exploration

Heightened regulatory scrutiny brought on by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is taking a toll on companies that drill much closer to shore than the deep-sea depths where BP PLC's Macondo well blew out.

MPs rule out deep-water drilling ban

Deep water drilling could take place at hundreds of sites off the British coast after MPs ruled out a moratorium, despite concerns the practice could lead to a disaster worse than BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Crude Advances to 27-Month High on Bets Economic Recovery May Boost Demand

Oil rose to its highest price in 27 months on speculation the U.S. will sustain an economic recovery into this year, bolstering consumption in the world’s largest crude user.

Futures gained as much as 0.8 percent before today’s publication of the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index, which may show that manufacturing in the U.S. grew at the fastest pace in seven months in December. Fuel demand in the country climbed to the highest since May 2008 in the week ended Dec. 24, Energy Department figures published last week showed.

Oil's Top Forecasters See Third Year of Gains as China Leads 2011 Recovery

Oil demand increasing at almost twice the pace of supply is spurring the most-accurate forecasters to predict the second-highest price on record in 2011.

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., whose estimate last January was within 1 percent of 2010’s mean price of $79.60 a barrel, says crude will average $90 this year. Natixis Bleichroeder Inc., which tied with Bernstein, sees $100 a barrel, 26 percent higher than in 2010. Global oil use will increase 1.7 percent to a record 87.8 million barrels a day this year, and output will rise 0.9 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

GCC oil revenues up by almost 16%

A fresh report published in Kuwait has indicated that oil revenues in GCC countries rose by 15.6% or the equivalent of US$ 63 billion over the past year to reach US$ 465 billion. The report issued by the Diplomatic Center for Strategic Studies in Kuwait conveyed that the average price of a barrel of oil rose to US$ 75 for the first ten months of 2010 compared to US$ 59 a barrel for the year 2009.

Dramatic spike in gas prices forecasted

Oil and gasoline prices have risen to their highest levels in two years, and analysts say prices could shoot up dramatically this year as the thirst for fuel grows in the U.S. and around the world.

Iraq weighs new gas round

Iraq is considering holding a fourth bidding round for international players interested in the country's gas play, government officials said.

Oman to Spend $78 Billion in Five-Year Plan, Focusing on Oil, Gas Output

Oman plans to spend 30 billion rials ($78 billion) in its five-year development plan to 2015 and is forecasting economic growth of 5 percent a year, the official Oman News Agency said.

The program is based on an average oil price of $59 a barrel, the agency cited National Economy Minister Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki as saying. Oil production is projected at 897,000 barrels a day during the five-year period, the Muscat- based news agency said.

Russia says 11.5% increase in gas output 2010

The natural gas output in Russia has increased by 11.5 percent in 2010, while the coal output has grown by 6.5 percent, a statement issued by the Russian Energy Ministry on Sunday said.

Russian enterprises have recovered the total of 650,311 billion cubic meters of gas the last year; 184,944 billion cubic meters of them were exported abroad. That way, in 2010 the national gas export has grown 10.6 percent in comparison with the 2009 figures.

Maine using less oil heat than any time since '80

PORTLAND, Maine—New census figures show that fewer Maine residents are using oil to heat their homes than at any point since 1980.

The figures show that in 2009, 71.4 percent of Maine residents used oil as their primary heat source, down from 80 percent in 2000.

The decline in oil heat coincides with an increase in the number of Mainers using wood to heat their homes.

As electric rates go up, consumers consider alternatives

MEADVILLE — Walter Niwa of Vernon Township isn’t taking much comfort in the fact that Pennsylvania Electric Co. customers like him have been hit with a 16.6 percent increase in electric rates — instead of an estimated 60 percent or more that was forecast three years ago.

Malta: Fuel and gas price hikes ‘worst possible start to 2011’

The price of petrol has increased by 18 per cent over one year and is at its highest point ever despite how the international price of oil is not similarly at an all-time high, says Labour deputy leader Anglu Farrrugia.

In a statement reacting to the new fuel and gas price hikes, Farrrugia described the latest increase in fuel and gas prices as “the worst possible start to the new year” for Maltese and Gozitan families and businesses. He added that government “insists on not taking any action, save doubling its own wage.”

Iran says no gap in oil exports to India

TEHRAN: A senior Iranian Oil Ministry official said yesterday Iran's oil exports to long-time trading partner India had continued despite a dispute over the method of payment, student news agency ISNA reported. "There has been no disruption in the sale and exports of oil to India in recent days," said Ahmad Qalebani, the head of state National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). India buys about 400,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude.

Iran's nuclear power plant to go on line in February

Tehran - Iran's nuclear power plant is to be connected to the national electricity network in February, one month later that state earlier, the country's Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali-Akbar Salehi said Monday.

In November, Salehi had said that the Russian-built 1,000-megawatt reactor at Bushehr would be on line by January. The announcement of the new deadline was reported by ISNA news agency Monday.

Pakistan government scrambles to survive

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan's government scrambled Monday to survive after losing its majority, flinging the nuclear-armed state into a political crisis threatening to destabilise the US ally in the war on Al-Qaeda.

The decision by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to quit leaves Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's coalition hanging by a thread at a time of economic meltdown and heavy US pressure to do more to crack down on militants.

Afghan violence in 2010 kills thousands: government

KABUL (Reuters) – The number of Afghan police killed during 2010 fell about seven percent to 1,292, the government said on Monday, despite violence spreading across the country as the war entered its tenth year.

Foreign military and civilian casualties are at record levels despite the presence of about 150,000 NATO-led troops, with 2010 the bloodiest year on record since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

Conoco tops lobby league

A US firm that last year abandoned a project for Abu Dhabi's Shah sour gasfield spent more on lobbying US politicians than any other oil and gas firm in the same period.

The third-largest US oil producer, ConocoPhillips, spent US$16.8 million [Dh61.7m] last year, 68 per cent more than the next-biggest lobbying spender in the sector, according to US government figures.

LNG output to rise half as fast in 2011

IEA's 2010 WEO shows clearly that peak oil is behind us and that a new "Saudi Arabia" every 5 years is needed to maintain conventional crude production. Clearly an impossibility! Liquids demand this year returned to the record levels of 2008 and it is pure myth that 6 million b/d of spare capacity exists.

Why You Should Bet on Energy in 2011

Let's begin with an issue that people are finally warming up to: Peak Oil.

With nearly all of the world's giant oil fields in decline, the majority of production will be shifting to smaller fields. In other words, say goodbye to the cheap, easy-to-get oil.

Even the mighty OPEC won't be able to hide their data forever...

Crafting Energy Security in the 21st Century: A German View of the Challenge

Germany is, in terms of oil and gas, an energy dependent country as it is importing 80 percent of its energy resources. Almost 50 percent of oil and gas are coming from the Commonwealth of Independent States, primarily Russia; 30 percent from Norway and Great Britain; 15 percent from Africa and 5 percent from the Middle East.

Obviously, a 50 percent dependency on Russia – despite all special relations – is no energy security at all. While some top political leaders in Germany appear to believe in Germany’s special relationship with Russia to secure its energy supply, Russia, most recently at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, made it very clear that it plays according to the rules of geopolitics, interests and power.

The End of The End: How the Peak Oil Movement Failed

When I first began reading about peak oil in 2003, the year 2010 seemed like a distant, dire time, the Post-Peak Era, when suburbia and all its accessories would End.

It is now 2011, and the same world is still too much with us. The traffic on our road keeps increasing, and the acquisition of the last technological marvel is still the important issue of the day. As a critical thinker, I'm committed to changing my mind when predictions are invalidated. My view of "peak oil" has evolved from True Believer into Ambivalent Agnostic. The scales are dropping from my eyes.

Living Better In 'The Finite World'

A lot of things we use every day are about to get much less affordable.

That's the bottom line impact for the average family looking ahead at this next decade. This next ten years will be the time when serious world resource shortages begin to take hold, especially the expected Peak of world oil production.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words (x3)

Our friends at Peak Oil site TheOilDrum.com have an interesting year-end feature: The Chart of the Year. Lots of interesting graphs — have a look.

Three of my personal favorites are found below the fold, with minimal commentary from your humble correspondent.

Qantas may build a jet biofuel plant in Sydney

QANTAS will team with Solena Fuels to investigate the feasibility of constructing the world's second commercial jet biofuel plant in Sydney.

The joint-venture will aim to convert commercial waste to biofuel using a $300 million plant based on the Fischer-Tropsch process already approved to produce jet fuel from coal in South Africa and gas in Qatar.

Bali School Makes Sustainability a Way of Life

SIBANG KAJA, BALI — Half a world away from Cancún, Mexico, and the international climate change talks that took place there last month, a school here in Indonesia is staging its own attempt to save the planet.

It is small-scale and literally grassroots — and possibly in some respects more effective than the tortuous efforts of politicians to agree on how to stop global warming.

Chop, Fry, Boil: Eating for One, or 6 Billion

One could set off a heated argument with a question like, “What are the three best basic recipes?” but I stand behind these: a stir-fry, a chopped salad, and the basic combination of rice and lentils, all of which are easy enough to learn in one lesson....

These recipes offer other benefits: They’re nutritionally sound and environmentally friendly. They’ve sustained scores of generations of societies worldwide, using traditional farming methods and producing little negative impact on the earth. (Almost without exception, your ancestors relied on something like one or more of these dishes.) All of them can be made with meat, poultry or fish, but they can be satisfying and delicious when made vegetarian or even vegan. In fact, if you cooked only variations on these three dishes you’d be well on your way to becoming an intuitive, fluid cook (the fanciest pilaf is essentially a rice-and-bean variation), eating more healthfully and with a lighter carbon footprint.

A Diet for an Invaded Planet: Invasive Species

There’s a new shift in the politics of food, not quite a movement yet, more of an eco-culinary frisson. But it may have staying power; the signs and portents are there. Vegans, freegans, locavores — meet the invasivores.

Some divers in the Florida Keys recently held a lionfish derby, the idea being to kill and eat lionfish, an invasive species. Local chefs cooperated by promoting the lionfish as a tasty entree. The idea drew editorial support from Andrew Revkin in a post on The Times’s Dot Earth blog in which he also mentioned an attempt by some fisheries biologists to rename the invading Asian carp “Kentucky tuna” to make it more appealing to diners. And the Utne Reader recently ran an article about Chicago chefs turning their attention to the same invasive fish.

Green skeletons lurk in GOP closets

It may be heresy to conservatives, but a trip down memory lane shows nearly all of the top-tier Republican presidential contenders want to save the planet from global warming.

On the campaign stump, in books, speeches and nationally-televised commercials, aspiring GOP White House candidates such as Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have warned in recent years about the threats from climate change and pledged to limit greenhouse gases. Some have even committed the ultimate sin, endorsing the controversial cap-and-trade concept that was eventually branded “cap and tax.”

India's hidden climate change catastrophe

India's 600 million farmers and the nation's poor are often the same people: a single failed crop tends to wipe out their savings and may lead to them losing their land. After that, there are few ways back. The drought, following a failed monsoon, that I saw in Andhra Pradesh in 2009 was the tipping point that drove Mr Naik to suicide.

Such tragedies and even the selling of children for marriage or as bonded labour – a common shock-horror news story in India – are the most dramatic results. But far more common is the story of rural families migrating, in tens of millions, to India's cities, swelling the ranks of the urban poor and leaving holes in the farming infrastructure that keeps India fed.

Link up top: The End of The End: How the Peak Oil Movement Failed

Folks, this is a great article. Read the entire article before passing judgment. This article is so good it should have a special thread all its own.

We all know that the "peak demand" argument is fake, a distinction without a difference. When extraction peaks, demand peaks by definition…

The end of growth--which peakers have spoken about for so long now that it is something of a cliché --is spun not as our punishment for failing to prepare for peak oil but as our reward for increased fuel efficiency standards, ethanol mandates, and less driving due to demographic shifts, such as the aging of the Baby Boomers…

This is not the Apocalypse per se, but it is still the onset of the Kingdom of God. How silly of us for not seeing the distinction before.

We all have our opinions and Mike Bendzela is certainly entitled to his. He states that he has no idea what is going to happen. Well hell, none of us really knows what is about to happen, all we can do is try to make an educated guess. And we should learn from our missed guesses in the past.

I thought, like Simmons, that the oil price would continue onward and upward. I was wrong. High oil prices killed the economy and it will kill it again if prices get to high, knocking demand right back down again.

Now we must re-consider our position. What effect will the plateau of oil production have on the economy? How long can a “no-growth” economy survive? And when the oil supply starts to decline? How long can a “declining growth” economy survive?

We know that the oil supply will decline, we just don’t know when. Will this be the onset o the Apocalypse or, as the latter-day CERA prophets suggest, the onset of the Kingdom of God.

Ron P.

The author posts here as MikeB.

According to Mike Bendzela success is failure. The United States is the world. And a theory is valid or not based on individual interpretations of its implications rather than examining the evidence for the theory itself. He seems bitter that he was not an independent thinker, until now. He appears to still be in his old mode IMO.

The whole point of the Peak Oil Movement was to warn of the necessity of mitigation efforts. When those efforts show the first signs of success, they are used to discredit Peak Oil Theory that has nothing to do with mitigation efforts, but is all about how conventional oil wells deplete.

Bendzela thinks Peak Oil Theory is about the United States. True evidence from the American experience is part of the theory, but the main point of the Peak Oil Theory is that the American experience applies to the world and that the world, unlike the United States, cannot import oil.

He must not be aware of what is going on in the world’s two largest populated countries. Nor does he appear to be aware of what is happening in the oil producing countries of the Middle East and countries like Venezuela.

The world is not consuming less oil in perpetuity as supposedly is the case for the United States. Consumption is rising in some countries even as American consumption falls.

The American experience is not over yet.

It is possible that oil demand in other countries can still have a dire result for Americans even if they are using less oil and applying mitigation strategies. Not only that, a lot of the decline in the United States is the result of a severe recession partially brought on by high oil prices just as some extreme doomers predicted.

A college instructor may not feel the pain or the sense of doom of the long term unemployed. Many homeowners are under water mortage wise. Car sales are a fraction of what they were before the crash.

Perhaps it's not as bad as the extreme doomers expected, but that we did have a crash and it was related to oil is undeniable. So what if they were wrong on the details.

"According to Mike Bendzela success is failure."

NO! He is saying that Yergin, CERA, et al. have won the debate about peak oil by deceit and deception, and general bad faith. (And to some extent, peak oilers have lost the debate because of general goofy behavior of important advocates of peak oil paradigm.)

His emphasis is entirely on appearances. Not on substance. And I think his assessment of appearances is pretty accurate.

There is a similar situation going on over at WSJ, where they are saying that 2010 has been a GOOD YEAR for 'investors'. But I think they to not weigh in the balance the many investors who have been bankrupted and are ipso facto no longer investors at the end of the year.

The future belongs to those who get others to go first over the cliff. Yergin, et al., intend to own the future, and likely will.

The future belongs to those who get others to go first over the cliff. Yergin, et al., intend to own the future, and likely will.

Last man standing. If the USA is not the last man standing it will take the world down with it. Unless the world wants nuked it had better learn to do with less oil while allowing the US to grab more. Japan wasn't too happy the last time they were expected by the USA to do without oil and got a bit uppity. Didn't end well for them.

Japan wasn't too happy the last time they were expected by the USA to do without oil...

World War 2 of course.


The conflict and negotiation between the US and Japan in the pre-World War II period illustrates a good example of the case and explains why Japan went to war against the US. The US, the biggest oil supplier for Japan at the time, imposed the oil embargo on Japan in July, 1941, and it helped the Japanese to make up their minds to fight against the Americans. Thus, in a way, the attack on Pearl Harbor was not a surprise one at all; it was a necessary result of the conflict and negotiation.


In addition to military support, the US, Britain, and the Netherlands East Indies initiated oil and steel embargos against Japan in August 1941.

The American oil embargo caused a crisis in Japan. Reliant on the US for 80% of its oil, the Japanese were forced to decide between withdrawing from China, negotiating an end to the conflict, or going to war to obtain the needed resources elsewhere.

I really don't think we are that evil. But then again, I'm constantly surprised by the cavalier attitude we have about the things we do. We invaded Iraq and killed 100K+ Iraqis over WMDs. But the WMDs did not exist . . . "Whoops! Our bad. We thought they were there. BTW, you should thank us for 'liberating' you!! Yeah, THANK US!"

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, and all that.

Also, unlike in WWII, this time they have the same sharp stick.

I think it is probably better to focus on non-war discussions....

The Yergins of the world are really really good at understanding how the herd thinks and knowing what to say to stay on top in the herd's world. Unfortunately we peak oilers are generally non-conformists and thus tend to lack that ability. Working for local govt in the US I'm trying to figure out how to get the peak oil message right for the intelligent general public (the dim bulbs are a lost cause). I think the first thing is to remind people that oil was $25 a barrel during the boom of the 90s, and now its consistently triple or quadruple that. This sucks 2-3% of GDP out of the economy--about how much we are down in the Great Recession. The US Military says their could be oil shortages by 2015. So the only way to grow the economy is to get more economic activity out of less oil. We need a higher oil-efficiency in our economy. As oil gets more expensive and scarce, market will naturally follow this logic, so local manufacturing and agriculture will become more competitive because of their lower transportation costs. Transit and walkable communities make more sense. Electric cars make sense if we provide the supportive infrastructure early enough. Our job is to make this transition start now so we are not playing catch-up.

The advantage of this message is that it tags solutions that many are already working on. So those folks are more likely to adopt the peak oil message, where as now they avoid it like the plague. Unfortunately we have let ourselves be branded as extremists.

If oil ever reaches $200 a barrel, it will be a good sign. It means we have successfully adapted our economy to run at that level.

"NO! He is saying that Yergin, CERA, et al. have won the debate about peak oil by deceit and deception, and general bad faith."


"(And to some extent, peak oilers have lost the debate because of general goofy behavior of important advocates of peak oil paradigm.)"

Kunstler and Rupert are NOT authorities on peak oil. Orlov is only an authority on the collapse of FSU.

"Kunstler and Rupert are NOT authorities on peak oil. ..."
But they are advocates, and they have made statements that MSM find easy to lampoon. You might question whether they are important. I've not done a scientific poll. Maybe they're not important. I don't think belittling them really gets past the problem. The problem is image. Why? Because MSM don't want to deal with reality.

"(And to some extent, peak oilers have lost the debate because of general goofy behavior of important advocates of peak oil paradigm.)"

...and the PO deniers have won the debate because of general goofy behavior of important advocates of BAU? :-/

"Kunstler and Rupert are NOT authorities on peak oil."

I fully agree with that . . . but unfortunately, when Joe Six-pack decides to learn about peak oil those are two people who will show up at the top of their searches. And Savinar too. None of those people have a science, engineering, or even economics background. They are just living on fear-mongering. I don't think they are intentional con-men . . . they may believe everything they say. But that doesn't make it OK.

NO! He is saying that Yergin, CERA, et al. have won the debate about peak oil by deceit and deception, and general bad faith. (And to some extent, peak oilers have lost the debate because of general goofy behavior of important advocates of peak oil paradigm.)

I will put my response here because geek7 gets it exactly right, as does Darwinian. I couldn't respond yesterday as I was scraping Kalsomine paint off an ancient plaster ceiling.

If others failed to get the message, I take responsibility for it. After all, that's the theme of the article--the responsibility of those who publicize peak oil. It doesn't matter now anyway.

I wrote the original article over the period of about an hour, submitted it to separate sources who refused to publish it, rewrote it in the wee hours, and posted it at OPEDNEWS out of simple desperation--they'll take just about anything that's literate, liberal, and traceable to a living being. Never--never!--did I imagine it would be received here with such gusto, as I feel I'm trampling over sacred personalities. As far as I'm concerned, they all deserve a good poke in the eye.

I'm a doomer who is pissed off that the peak oil message was so badly bungled. It never gained that robust, science-y status of the anthropogenic global warming/climate change movement. And even with the science-y nature of the AGW movement, it STILL is battling uphill against general ignorance. So how much worse for peak oil, now that the scientists have fallen into the shadows and the clowns have taken over?

You have no idea how shocked I was to see Simmons lose it live, on air, with the DH disaster. ROCKMAN and other posted concerns about Simmons' mental health, but at the time I refused to believe it. They were right.

Same with Hirsch, et al., and their anti-AGW screed in their book, which I wrote about here. I no longer trust them.

Savinar and the rest have always been outre. I can cut Kunstler and Orlov a little slack for being entertaining. But failure is failure. The movement to get peak oil accepted by the public is LOST. Peak oil is here, if not past. As a geology teacher of mine said, "It's too late." (PDF, p. 7)

Whom do I most respect?

Colin Campbell.
Professor Deffeyes.
And of course, Marion King Hubbert.
There are others, some of whom post here, but these are the heavyweights.

Even as we slide down the backside of the peak (or, rather, the mesa), peak oil will not be acknowledged as the source of our problems. Yergin will be calling the shots from now on, like it or not.

One has to stand in awe of what the Prophet Daniel and his scribe Jonathan Fahey have wrought. They have done for peak oil what Saul of Tarsus did for the early Jewish followers of Jesus: first it was rejection, then a complete co-option. Re-read the AP article my essay talks about. It is a thing of terrible beauty, a rhetorical coup d'etat. Each and every utterance of the peak oilers has been refashioned to fit the FALSE! concept of "peak demand." As peakers reel out intimations of doomed supply, the same sentences will be recast in terms of falling demand (not the same as "demand destruction," btw).

The Hebrew messiah has become the Greek christos. I use that analogy with seething irony.

Those who have attempted to publicize the peak oil message--only to further alienate the public from it--deserve part of the blame. (That includes the kale-on-the-lawn crowd's Jeffersonian fantasies of an agrarian America, a view which makes the small farmer in me swoon, too, even though I recognize it is completely unrealistic.)

On the issue of "predicting" what will happen next--it's time to STFU.

In terms of working the media, we are all rank amateurs. I too cringe when people make specific predictions, but the media goads people into making them. If you make a specific prediction - especially one that will shock average people, the media is more likely to give your prediction some attention. The more shocking the prediction, the more airtime you get, and it tempts people to go out on a limb.

There is also the problem that we have no one spokesman. Yeah, there is this organization called ASPO, but to be honest there is nobody at ASPO that an average American would have heard of. Thus what CERA can do is pick through the people who talk about peak oil and pick out a few nutjobs and hold them up for ridicule. What can we do about it? There will always be nutjobs - we can't control them, and we can't make them go away, and there will always be more. And we have no one authoritative voice that can provide a dissenting view. And sometimes the people that we would like to hold up as the one authoritative voice end up disappointing us (Simmons, Hirsch).

Climate change has the same problem, really. There are people out there who go out on a limb and make dire predictions for the near future, and these people make easy target practice for the experienced PR hands.

The public by and large isn't paying attention to energy issues right now. Many people are far more worried about the economy - perhaps this summer people will start to think about it again if gas prices climb above 4$/gallon again (some people will of course argue that the economic problems are a result of the price spike of 2008, but the public by and large hasn't even heard that argument).

As you say, even with the best science, the public can't be bothered with the current reality and projected worse reality of global warming. Ultimately, it does not seem possible to project with much scientific certainty that peak oil is already here or how quickly oil production will decline. If the data that does exist were more transparent, then maybe there would be a better chance of prediction. There is always that little problem with countries like Saudi Arabia which are not interested in telling the truth.

Being of a precautionary bent, I think it is a good idea to move forward with the assumption that peak oil is here or shortly will be. I consider that prudent. There are others, apparently in the majority, that think it is prudent to assume that we just need to drill everywhere faster and with more gusto. That view is obviously more appealing because no change in lifestyle is required.

I wouldn't blame people like Kunstler because I doubt the general public even knows who he is. The only thing we can count on is reality rearing its ugly head, and even then it will take years for the powers that be and the public to realize the true nature of the problem. We are a society in denial and even a new messiah wouldn't be able to do the trick.

How can the public have been alienated by the peak oilers when they don't even know who they are? Simmons went over the bend. But then, how influential was he before he went over the bend? None of this made or makes any difference. Just roll with the tide and go with the flow.

There are others, apparently in the majority, that think it is prudent to assume that we just need to drill everywhere faster and with more gusto. That view is obviously more appealing because no change in lifestyle is required.

Of course the problem with such a view is that even if that worked, it would only work temporarily and it would create an even bigger peak oil crisis later since we would be that much more dependent on oil.

I wouldn't blame people like Kunstler because I doubt the general public even knows who he is. The only thing we can count on is reality rearing its ugly head, and even then it will take years for the powers that be and the public to realize the true nature of the problem. We are a society in denial and even a new messiah wouldn't be able to do the trick.

How can the public have been alienated by the peak oilers when they don't even know who they are? Simmons went over the bend. But then, how influential was he before he went over the bend?

The problem is that to the degree that people do know about peak oil, it is from clips on CNN of Simmons saying oil will hit $300/barrel or Kunstler calling everyone who doesn't agree with everything he says, an idiot. Though in reality many peakists are pragmatic normal people like James Schlesinger, Dr. Steven Chu, Colin Campbell, Chris Skrebowski, James Woolsey, etc. . . . the ones who get publicity are the ones with the wild predictions and massive self-promotion drives like Simmons, Ruppert, Savinar, and Kunstler.


when I first read your article, I thought that you are frustrated - very much so. In your response you show the same attitude:

But failure is failure. The movement to get peak oil accepted by the public is LOST.

But what did you expect? Did you really expect that people would listen to a message that gives them no out, no hope, nothing to look forward to? Can you really expect, that when you take a lolly-pop away from a child - because it is bad for his teeth - it would not cry and throw a temper tantrum?

I also do not agree with your statement:

peak oil will not be acknowledged as the source of our problems. Yergin will be calling the shots from now on, like it or not.

Yergin NEVER STOPPED to call the shots! Yergin is just a talking head. He delivers a message. It is the people behind him which are calling the shots. And against those people you - or anybody else here on TOD or an similar sites - have not the slightest chance. You cannot compete against their resources, their manpower, their sophistication to spin a message, etc.

I got introduced to Adam Curtis's Documentary here on TOD. I watched his docus (The Century of Self, The Trap, The Power of Nightmares) and from than on it was clear for me that the message of PO would not go through the way as a lot of people here on this site hoped for.

So don't beat yourself because the message did not go through.

People DO NOT WANT TO HEAR this message. They do not want to weak up! And if they weak up eventually - because they have to! - than you better look out! It will not be nice!


It never gained that robust, science-y status of the anthropogenic global warming/climate change movement. And even with the science-y nature of the AGW movement, it STILL is battling uphill against general ignorance.

Given the natures of the two issues it is no surprise, and probably was inevitable that peak oil could not gain the 'science-y' status of AGW. Just think how things would have been for AGW if various countries around the world had control of the climatic data and were not releasing any of it to the scientific community. How skewed, grotesque and disparate would the pictures of climate change be. Each 'analyst' would have pounded their own drum with their own WAGs as to what the data might really be.

Climatic data is pretty much available to anyone on an equal basis, as long as they have the time and funding to be able to research the data. Not so for data that would provide a much more accurate (science-y) picture of what lies in the future for peak oil. In a sense, the peak oil question was doomed from the start to be muddled and manipulated beyond belief.

I'm a doomer who is pissed off that the peak oil message was so badly bungled. It never gained that robust, science-y status of the anthropogenic global warming/climate change movement. And even with the science-y nature of the AGW movement, it STILL is battling uphill against general ignorance. So how much worse for peak oil, now that the scientists have fallen into the shadows and the clowns have taken over?

Not wanting to corrode your creative writing skills, I hesitate to recommend pharmaceuticals, but wonder if deep breathing might calm your nerves.

The peak oil message was not badly bungled. Peak oil messaging is ongoing, and nothing is, as your former teacher would have it, "over". To date, the information about oil supply contained in the price signal has been subjected to various manipulations, but so what?

Society is at any time a balance of forces with tremendous underlying inertia. It is extremely unlikely that the pace of real change in the world (adjustment to increasing fossil fuel scarcity) would have been significantly different if Kunstler and Orlov and the self-styled wizard guy and Simmons were better communicators and establishment apologists less able. Social change does not come quickly, no matter the rate of change of political structures or in the predominate messaging from elites.

Still change is happening. Price carries information and it carries it with unrelenting force. Geoffrey Brown nobly re-presents the basic price story here regularly. The inscribed narrative about technological gains enabling the continued expansion of the supply of oil finds itself contradicted daily and endlessly by the measured output of industry and the market price.

Yes, those who serve the iron triangle are adjusting and tweaking their story; they need a good story to legitimize their claims for a larger share of the social product. Yes, it is sad that these servants of satan have the ability to add so much drag to the transition from abundant to scarce hydrocarbons (and to the related transitions necessitated by AGW), but it has ever been thus, and in our adult maturity we have to take the balance of social and economic forces and the tendency to inertia as our starting point.

In the meantime, the price of oil is effecting how we look at the world and how we behave in it. Some of us are faster learners than others. Some of us are stuck in milieus dominated by analcavities whose power frustrates us. We might dream of the guillotine as a means to hasten the transition in energy regimes, but history offers little support for its effectiveness in doing so.

My advice remains: deep breathing. And look on the bright side. For example, look at all those empty seats in the automobiles on your street. And think about the ever declining cost of disseminating information. Right away we can see how the adjustment to dramatically lower oil supplies need not mean the loss of the productivity gained from physical mobility in large labour markets. And you have, as I recall, already noted that food production will effect a growing claim on the declining supply of hydrocarbons. Most encouraginely, the population ship, even as momentum continues to carry it forward, has engaged all engines in reverse such that our numbers will be in significant decline in a relatively comfortable fashion by the final quarter of this century. Yes, AGW threatens misery widely and unpredictably. On the other hand, these very qualities create conditions conducive to new approaches and allow opportunity to those whom history might otherwise pass over.

Giving up, joining the gang of surrender monkeys self-described as doomers, won't provide you peace or happiness. The war on stupidity is never-ending and just because a few fervent and/or opportunistic storytellers haven't overcome the limitations of the older storyline does not justify hanging your pillowslip on the flagpole.

Well played and well written. Worth the price of the popcorn.

And look on the bright side. For example, look at all those empty seats in the automobiles on your street. And think about the ever declining cost of disseminating information. Right away we can see how the adjustment to dramatically lower oil supplies need not mean the loss of the productivity gained from physical mobility in large labour markets.

Yes . . . this! We currently waste MASSIVE amounts of energy. There is no logical reason why we should continue with 1 person driving 60 miles to & from work each day in a 4000 pound hulking SUV. Before we start letting people die due to lack of medicines, I think we can change our transport by reducing such waste. Drive a smaller car! Move closer to work! Switch to a hybrid! Switch to an EV!

There is so much fat that can be cut out of our oil budget that all these doom scenarios are just ridiculous. We are not going to die & collapse . . . we'll just become less comfortable.

I think the world needs a stronger price signal.

People 'know' gold is all of rare,valuable, and in short supply 'intuitively' because its cost per ounce is so high.

When I bought my first new car in 1993, unleaded gasoline was about US$1/gallon.

Now 18years later it averages about $US3.30/gallon where I live.

...but relative to things like gold, still seems cheap and plentiful, even at US$3.30/gallon.

I do not know what actual price will start to really trigger peoples valuations to consider Oil like gold, but I may see it in my lifetime....


I think your problem is that you care. I.e you think that scientifically valid predictions matter.

On that front we are screwed right off the bat since we cannot access the raw data directly. Without valid data peak oil predictions are junk regardless of if the algorithm is correct. GIGO.

Next I'm not surprised that people that really understand peak oil lose it. Once you grasp it and this includes all the financial economic relationships you realize we are screwed. There is no solution. Waking the world up to peak oil won't do any good anyway.

Its like telling a guy if he agrees with you he will live a horrible life and die in six months. If he disagrees he can party for 3 months and die in 5 1/2 months. If your numbers are wrong then good chance he can party for 8 months and be dead in 10.

The only real sales point is if you stop partying now your kids will have and easier time. And to be honest its really your grandkids. Your kids life will still suck just perhaps a bit less.

Try and sell that to the public.

You want public figures well look to Nate, Westexas, Rockman I'd argue that they are calling it as they see it and their message is the grim one I outlined above.

Who wants to here that and does it really matter unless you actually give a damn about the future ?

If people don't care and I don't think they do then what are people we supposed to do ?
In the end you take care of your friends and family. Don't worry about it enjoy life have fun.
Enjoy your relative and esp enjoy your kids if you have them.

Sooner than later they will give a damn because they have no choice. Spreading the message of peak oil is a waste of time dealing with the aftermath when its blatantly obvious is not.

You want public figures well look to Nate, Westexas, Rockman I'd argue that they are calling it as they see it and their message is the grim one I outlined above.

memmel, would that they were our public figures! But they aren't. None of them is prone to the intemperate statement, the bigoted jab, the off-the-cuff insane prediction.

Those who were peak oil's public statesmen have bungled and poisoned the message. It is a true pity.

If the article indeed shows that I "care," then that is completely inadvertent. I thought I stopped caring a long time ago, but maybe not.

we are screwed right off the bat

We do not of necessity have to be screwed.

It is more the case that as a socio-political group of lightly haired apes we choose to be screwed.

Look at the Moon, for example.

An enormous amount of sunlight falls on this nearby astronomical object.
However, the Moon is shaped to act as a convex reflector and therefore most of the incident energy is reflected away in a dispersive manner.

What if we could build computer focused mirrors on the Moon that reflect the sunlight to a specific spot on Earth, say a lava island in the Pacific Ocean and there we convert the focused energy into a fuel of some sort?

I know it sounds like a crazy, loony idea. But it might lead to even bigger ideas. After all, the Sun outputs enormous amounts of energy and the Earth receives only a tiny spec of that output. Surely there must be some wild-eyed scientists out there who have some notions of how such a thing might be accomplished.

The discussion about oil being our last source of concentrated energy reminds me of Jared Diamond's discourse in Collapse about the Vikings on Greenland being surrounded by fish and yet refusing to utilize that resource due to cultural biases. Are we not the same in that regard?

(2) Aside from seeking the more-and-more solution (endless growth in energy consumption), we also have the socio-political option for reducing our population growth rates in some form of humane way.

(3) There could be other wild-eyed proposals that other TOD readers harbor in their heads but are afraid to share for fear of being called a "loony" tune. Anybody want to share? Anybody? Bueller? Anyone? [ i.mage.+]

I'm with you on the above. I think we do ourselves a great disservice when we look at this as a problem of 'What can't we convince the Mainstream to accept and prepare for?' Through this site, we see daily examples of people and institutions who get it (each other or articles about others doing smart things), or get at least enough of it in common with us to form alliances and share our efforts.

Worrying that the 'Great Unwashed' is never gonna come along is like beating our heads against the wall of a great castle, and ignoring the doors and windows where we could be calling in and making some fruitful connections.

Kind of like Lloyd Bridges refusing to turn on the Right Runway lights for the Crippled Airplane!.. because 'That's JUST what they're expecting us to do!' But we get into a website full of people who get Peak Oil, and then just bicker endlessly about whether there's enough Lithium to drive SUV's for everyone in China. What a waste!

I'm happy to entertain some more wild out-of-the-box notions, it's fun.. but fer Gawds sake, we haven't even put Solar Water Heaters on 1% of our Homes yet. There is an absolute TON of stuff that we can do today, and there are people who want it, they just don't know how to get over the initial hump.


(So now, we spend a vast percentage of this Drumbeat trying to decide how to take it when Mike declares that we're doomed because the doomers did us in by predicting too much doom! It's like handwringing in one of those 'Eternal Mirror' rooms!) @) -( cyclops smiley )

Well then, congratulations MikeB for an extremely well written article. Pretty well right on the money in my book, if I may be permitted a string of cliches equal in mental exhaustion to the cliches your piece is eliciting in this thread. I note in particular the apocalyptarians predictable reduction of the current economic woes in several poorly governed states to the dreaded 'plateau'. To be fair, decades of brainwashing, and the comfort of simplism, have left most people, not just peakoil endtimers, unable to grasp the insights of contemporary marxist and keynesian analysis, so it is not surprising that people turn to a variation of 'the gods must be angry' explanation for events beyond their wit.

Just one small note regarding this sentence in your article:

In the same way that New Testament scribes recast ancient Hebrew apocalyptic expectations in the image of their risen "christos," Jesus of Nazareth, so these latter-day CERA prophets and their scribes have supplanted the apocalyptic terms of the peak oil movement with the messianic message of "peak demand."

Nothing really wrong with what you say. I only like to see that the ancient Egyptians are properly credited for about 95% of the material in the Old as well as New Testaments.

Nothing really wrong with what you say. I only like to see that the ancient Egyptians are properly credited for about 95% of the material in the Old as well as New Testaments.

Interesting. Back when I was in College as an Honor's Student - required to teach class sometimes - for one session I explored the ties between the parables of Jesus to their what I supposed were the Greek sources for the parables (suggesting that Jesus Christ was an interpreter). Some people left that class less happy than they had been when they entered. [I cannot remember any specifics so don't ask.]

I'd like to hear more about how the New Testament's material is Egyptian sourced.

A very good starting point is "The Pagan Christ" by Tom Harpur. In addition to his own scholarship, Harpur explores the work of leading scholars in the field.


See also "Christ in Eygpt: The HorusJesus Connection" by D.M. Murdoch.

I would agree that their appears to be some over reliance on oil supplies and prices being almost the sole cause of economic woes specifically in the U.S. Over stating a case is usually a good way to lose credibility. I think the U.S. would be in decline regardless of the oil situation although it certainly has exacerbated the economic situation.

"To be fair, decades of brainwashing, and the comfort of simplism, have left most people, not just peakoil endtimers, unable to grasp the insights of contemporary marxist and keynesian analysis, so it is not surprising that people turn to a variation of 'the gods must be angry' explanation for events beyond their wit."

I realize you are not joking, but you should be; this is high comedy! Keynesian analysis? While I grant you most "Keynesians" don't understand Keynes, he was still dealing in witches brew and fantasy. Here's a little real economic analysis for you:


Why Credit Money Fails

Compreensive talk given by Keen at Local Futures -> Podcast

I see you've decided to settle into the comfort of simplism.

Would Japan give the US any insight on how it will play out since their population is older and not growing population wise.Just from our family those that have retired made up the daily working miles with other activities for at least a decade or more.The boomers were conceived in an auto and have been in love with car ever since.Although the ave daily might drop total miles imo will stay the same just be more concentrated.

Interesting article that doesnt, for me, tackle the outcomes of demand reduction by price increase (peak oil effect seen in a mirror). In many ways it is a rebranding of the same message, but so what, if oil either isnt there or you cant afford it, whats the difference?

Fact: UK petrol prices will go up to £1.30 per litre this week, diesel price even higher
Fact: UK heating oil price currently 70p per litre

Personal outcome in each case, I'll use less.

Impact if multiplied by millions of consumers all trying to do the same, while costs are loaded on everything that is transported or made out of oil?

Seems to me we cut to the transition either way.

Does peak oil demand also mean peak food demand? If so, CERA et al will state that due to health reasons people in Western countries have decided to eat less and less each year and that peak food happened in 2006. No mention what the 70 million extra people added to the world's population each year will be doing regarding either oil or food.

These peak oilists fail to see that evolution works one way: industrial agriculture is not going to disappear, it is going to adapt. Biotechnologies and genetics will continue to develop foods that are more stable, more apt to survive under adverse conditions, and more able to deliver higher yields per acre.

Corn prices have steadily been on the rise since 2000 -- by simple extrapolation 25% of the USA that is on the government food program will not be afford enough calories per day by 2025 -- these people are already nutritionally deficient.

There are going to be global food riots in 2011. Places like Nigeria could descend into total anarchy as a result.

Nigeria: Bread Prices to Go Up By 10 Percent

The bakers told journalists in Lagos that by January 15, they will increase the cost of bread by 10 percent but may progress to 20 percent by March if the prices of wheat and sugar are still high.

Mike's personal attacks are outstanding, though.

Exactly Frugal. And as people consume less then less people will be needed to produce the stuff that people don't buy anymore.

We are on a plateau people. And just being on that plateau has caused the unemployment to reach 10 percent, even more if you count the chronic unemployed. If a plateau has that effect then what effect will a decline of two percent per year have?

It seems to me that the folks saying that the peaking of oil production may have little effect are jumping the gun. Oil has not yet started to decline. Wait until it has been declining for two, three of four years then tell us that no one is hurting real bad. Then tell us that the Kingdom of God has arrived.

In every historical case, whether human or animal, overshoot has always lead to die-off. Will a miracle happen this time and this massive human overshoot all over the earth be the exception? Well, no one can know the future as we are reminded here often, but the odds are heavily weighted on the side of the doomers if you ask me.

Ron P.

Ron, I should stop reading your posts. You're making me depressed, and no, I don't have any ideas or plans how I'm going to survive a post peak oil/food world.

Don't forget those tasty invasive species. I used to net carp with my grandpa when they first started up in Minnesota. He smoked them. Here on Vancouver Island the California bullfrog is within 50 miles of where I live. My French neighbours are smacking their lips....(and I am not kidding), they are. Seriously, we'll muddle on, somehow.


Please don't stop posting your candid opinions and observations. They are a most valuable part of TOD. It's all too easy for me to fall into complacency, despite all that I have read and believe.

As for me, the Peak Oil story is over -- it's here and now it's just a matter of watching the dominos fall. But I am making preparations to the best of my ability and foresight. I am hopeful that these efforts will pay off for my son more than for myself. It's going to be a much rougher ride for him than for me.

King - "the Peak Oil story is over". I understand your statement in the context of my feelings as well as many on TOD. But IMHO the PO story is just about to unfold to the vast majority of the population. I make the analogy to a movie preview. Sometimes the trailer will stir up a lot of interest or turn you off. And neither can have much to do with the true movie itself but how the trailer was designed. I think most have been disappointed by an actual movie after getting stirred up by the little bits of humor/action in the very selective short clips.

That's where the public is right now IMHO: many have bought into the trailers put out by the PO deniers because these shorts fit the "movie" they long to see. But before too long they'll have a front row seat to the full movie. And human nature being what it is they'll sit there and deny the reality of what they see on the "screen" and wait for the movie to unfold as per their God-given expectations. And when it doesn't they'll demand their ticket price back. But when they go to the box office the original ticket seller (read: politician) will be gone and his replacement will be blaming the former employee for the lousy story. But wait! The new guy has an even better movie to see...just trust him.


What I should have said is that the Peak Oil story is over and the Post Peak Oil story is just beginning. The time for educating the public at large is past, it's batten down the hatches time now.

ps, I love your movie analogy.

King - I figured I undestood your point but the movie analogy popped to mind and just used your post as a lead. Sadly enough I think the movie analogy works well with many aspects of our society.

Keep in mind that it's a long movie, and as interesting as it is most of us will have to leave before it's over.

And as people consume less then less people will be needed to produce the stuff that people don't buy anymore.

George Ure noted this back 3-4 year ago. And you can see this in stores with 'wider isles' and shelves that are not as deeply stocked or filled one deep with toilet paper, plastic gallon jugs of water, or my personal favorite - empty boxes with the store logo on 'em.

In every historical case, whether human or animal, overshoot has always lead to die-off.

Of the people I listen to who are pimp'n cold fusion as some kind of reality - 3 of the 4 have noted that without population control/control of consumption Mankind with the "near zero cost" claimed Man would ruin the planet with overpopulation. The 4th one happens to believe in the power of positive thinking and feels if you just keep talking about cold fusion it'll manifest.

A natural ecologically-based die-off model is a highly unlikely scenario.

The Black Death unfroze European society, and it set in motion a series of economic cycles in Europe that have since increased in amplitude and geographic scope. Every second major economic cycle is terminated by a period of total war -- The Wars of the Reformation, The Thirty Years War, The French Revolution / Napoleonic Wars, and World Wars I&II.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic reorganization and rise of China mark the end of the econmic cycle following WW I&II.

Roughly mid-century around 2040-2050 you can expect the next episode of total war to begin. Since biological sciences are now developed to the point where physics was during the end of the 19th century, you can expect biological weapons to be effectively used in the 21st Century World Wars. Based on the effectiveness of Australian rabbit control experiments, a post-conflict global human population between 100 and 500 million seems about right.

Roughly mid-century around 2040-2050 you can expect the next episode of total war to begin

Why would it wait that long?

The last interval was 1814 to 1914, 100 years between total wars. So 100 years between 1950 (end of the Chinese Revolution) and 2050 would be reasonable. However, the intervals have been getting shorter, so perhaps as soon as 2025 would be quite possible.

Yeah, and the "beauty" of a biological strike is that it won't be detectable on radar. Do it right, and the other side won't know what hit them until it is too late to retaliate. When has man invented a technology that he has not used?

I'm not sure how easy it will be to target a specific country, but it may be possible within the next few years to attack geographical regions or subsets within the population (ethnic cleansing!).

Currently there are a number of genetic test kits on the market are processed, or decoded, by the kit vendor rather than locally within a specific bio/chem lab. The customer pipettes their sample onto a test plate that was purchased as part of a test kit. They then insert the test plate into a reader and the reader sends a nondescript matrix of numbers along with an ID # to the vendor. The vendor looks up the ID # in their DB and uses information that they acquired before shipping the kit to decode the matrix of values into useful test results that are returned to the customer.

Each time the kit is run, the vendor acquires additional genetic information about the population. Because the vendor knows which customer submitted the data, they can correlate genetic data to geographic regions.

The peaceful uses of knowing the geographical distribution of particular genes could be incredibly profitable for the DB owner and beneficial to society. With that said, a DB of information that relates genetic traits to geography could also be used to create a weapon that attacks the population in a particular region by exploiting specific genes.

We are on a plateau people. And just being on that plateau has caused the unemployment to reach 10 percent, even more if you count the chronic unemployed. If a plateau has that effect then what effect will a decline of two percent per year have?

Assuming that is correct (I don't know if it is), you need to give Yergin & CERA for pushing the 'undulating plateau' concept heavily. Granted it may have come 20 years before they predicted it but at least they were wise to push the concept of the plateau.

I've read that Campbell & Laherre (sp?) first came up with the plateau concept (is that correct?) but even if true I don't think they've talked about it much and instead focused on the peak.

The "concept" of a plateau is not something that needs pushing, it's something that just happens. No one predicted that oil production would stay basically flat for six years beginning in 2005. The fact that someone predicted that we would reach a plateau in 2030 instead of in 2005 just means they were off by a country mile and do not deserve any credit whatsoever. CERA made the below prediction in November of 2006, almost two years after the plateau had already begun.

Correct Model for Post-2030 Oil Supply is Undulating Plateau

In contrast to a widely discussed theory that world oil production will soon reach a peak and go into sharp decline, a new analysis of the subject by Cambridge Energy 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 -- and that the “peak oil” argument is based on faulty analysis which could, if accepted, distort critical policy and investment decisions and cloud the debate over the energy future.

Ron P.

Well the peak oil crowd has talked way too much about a peak and then a relatively sharp decline with various dramatic effects. If we are at the peak/plateau, the peakists got the timing better than Yergin but the peakists got the effects wrong. Yergin may have got the effects of peak right but the timing wrong (again, assuming we are at peak now). As I've posted above, Yergin & CERA definitely got things wrong. But since they got things wrong in a less dramatic fashion, they've managed to come out with more credibility even though they were also very wrong.

BTW, collect a set of the above graph from CERA from several different years and it is funny to see it gradually change as the height of the plateau becomes lower and lower. And you gotta love that 'CERA Reference case' there that has us using 108 mbpd right now. LOL.

Here is the more recent version of the CERA graph that has been adjusted down.

Well the peak oil crowd has talked way too much about a peak and then a relatively sharp decline with various dramatic effects.

Just who are "the peak oil crowd" and who speaks for them? Who was this guy or gal who did all that talking?

If we are at the peak/plateau, the peakists got the timing better than Yergin but the peakists got the effects wrong.

Really now? I consider myself a peakist and I got nothing wrong but the price of oil back in 2008. Everything else I got right, so far anyway. Sure a few people predicted a 2 to 3 percent decline starting a couple of years ago but that person, or persons do not speak for every peak oil believer. You lump us all together, wording your accusations as if we all made such predictions and got them all wrong.

No I, and most other peak oilers, though not all, have not got things wrong. We say we are at peak right now and may stay there for two or perhaps even three more years. That is not getting things wrong, we have gotten things exactly right... so far anyway.

Damn! Even when your prediction comes out exactly right you don't just get accused of getting it wrong but you get accused of getting it dramatically wrong! Go figure.

But for God's sake Speculawyer, stop putting all peak oilers under one umbrella. Surely just by reading this forum you can see that we disagree on almost everything.

Ron P.

"£1.30 per litre in the UK"

This sounds even more expensive than the summer of 2008. Is this a new record and is this due in part to the faltering pound sterling?

Weaker pound, higher fuel duty and VAT all kicking in at the same time.

I do wonder if the politicians realise that at some point they are going to have to gradually reduce taxes on fuel - using up the slack they have built up in the system to keep the economy functioning. That way they make sure the pain falls on those that didn't prepare (US for one).

To me that's the obvious benefit of high fuel taxes, but so far the 'economists' seem to be sawing on the same old fiddle and not realising the tune changed.

Why should they do that? Reducing fuel tax encourages more fuel use. High fuel tax encourages less fuel use, greater exploration of alternatives. Granted that politicians are likely motivated by tax take from a mostly price-inelastic product, but I wouldnt be too surprised if they could also see the advantages of making alternatives more seem attractive. After all, one of the new mantras of the UK coalition is localism.

Diesel at my local station is £1.34 per litre (Aberystwyth, UK). This is approx $7.80 per US gallon.

I don't know how long a no growth economy will survive but for most of human history, that is the kind of economy we have had. I think the idea that we will have a no growth economy is optimistic and ignores the overall decline of resources, not just oil and other energy resources. It is more likely that for awhile we will have a negative growth economy. Where the equilibrium will be reached is the question. Perhaps the equilibrium will be reached at something slightly above the level of the cave man.

For much of the world and for millions of people in the United States, they are already experiencing the no or negative growth economy and it is not pleasant. Job growth is not sufficient to make a dent in the unemployment rate and the quality of most additional jobs is suspect given the continuing drive to export decent blue collar and over jobs overseas.

Continuing on under the neoliberal free market, devil take the hindmost paradigm seems unsustainable to me. But the right wing in this country is determined to enact what they consider a free market paradise and the first victims will be those unfortunate enough to have chosen a career in public service. Even the liberals like Cuomo and Obama have already frozen public sector wages.

Oh, yes, we all need to suffer together. Except for the financial sector, of course, which will continue to garner multimillion dollar and even billion dollar salaries.

Economists like Krugman, who I have a lot of respect for, need to shift gears. He recognizes that there are some limits but stops shy of recognizing the need for planning for a no or negative growth economy. He still operates as if he believes that growth, if not forever, has a long way to go. Growth is the way everyone puts off the issue of income redistribution. It is more obvious than ever, however, that trickle down does not work as a poverty program.

Capitalism's main selling point has always been that it is better than resulting in economic growth than, say, socialism. When growth ends, what will capitalism's main selling point be?

Both our political parties are wrong. They are just arguing over the best way to achieve the same objective, which is perpetual economic growth.

I start from the premise that capitalism is ultimately going to die. When it dies the financial sector dies and so does most of government since it will not have be able to extract money from the populace.

Therefore, I see a egalitarian society (although feudalism is possible) where:

1. People live in extended family or affinity groups.
2. Only 5% of the population actually "works" at a job and they only do it for a proscribed number of years (like <10 years).
3. People produce their own food with a couple of exceptions like grains.
4. The few things produced are all repairable by an average person to extend their life to a couple of generations.
5. Health care is a personal/family responsibility.

The list goes on but the society is a mixture of a little socialism but mostly family/group responsibility for the vast majority of things necessary for life.


Oh, yes, we all need to suffer together. Except for the financial sector, of course, which will continue to garner multimillion dollar and even billion dollar salaries.

Do not worry - I'm sure the TOD posters who have jobs in that sector will tell us all how that sector is need.

Love the word "movement" in the title. Makes it sound like a political thing.
But one feels more like a spectator than a participant in a political movement. Much happening; our political class offers little in response.

I would love to join a political movement focused on sustainability. Is there one?

Movement has a different connotation for many other than political direction. Or, maybe it is one and the same. IMHO, I wouldn't waste time with politics. It is now just a diversion.

doves that movement has already started but it is more of an "un-movement." As it should be.

From the article:

One notes that, though the USSR dissolved, Russia bounced back.

Ignoring that the death rate in Russia spiked during the transition, I have to ask, Mike, what was the basis of Russia's 'recovery'? Oil? Gas? Duh.

It is an article of faith among the peak oilists that industrial agriculture is doomed. They like to remind us that they are not saying oil is going to "run out," but then they proceed to preach messages that sound as if it were indeed going to run out.

Gross generalizations invalidate the article in my mind. No POists I pay much attention to assert either. Regarding agriculture, I've always asserted that constrained petroleum supplies, combined with other factors will stress the ag systems. Populations continue to increase. Soil and arable lands continue their decline. Water availability for irrigation is in decline as well. More expensive fertilizers, fewer people employed in agriculture, ocean systems being decimated by overfishing, more expensive transport, pollution and climate change, all combine with reduced petroleum availability to create a situation that any non-dogmatic pragmatist will see as a big problem for humanity. My take has always been that agriculture will flourish where possible. Supply and demand will rule. Agriculture isn't doomed, though huge segments of humanity and the environment likely are. Duh.

The 'Peak Oil' movement may be dead, Mike, though the overall systemic situation is still getting worse. Gurus' predictions, their storys and cliches come and go. The physical laws that matter neither care nor change. While our ability to tweak mens' minds may be infinite, the planet is not. Savinar's time out date, or Simmon's expiration date have no relevance to the natural progressions to which we are bound.

I agree with most of your comment, but I think Mike's main point was about "industrial agriculture", that is to say, the use of massive machines to farm large areas with few workers. The availability of cheap fossil fuels led to the invention of the tractor and other machines which replaced the agricultural workers, who then moved to cities, where cheap fuel made it possible for them to work and live in semi-rural suburbia. As it's reasonable to expect that fossil fuels will become more expensive as Peak Oil becomes apparent, the trends of the past 200 years of industrial development are likely to reverse.

Of course, agriculture will continue and may improve as more scientific effort is applied, but the scale is likely to change. Lacking the fuel (and the fertilizers made from it), it's reasonable to expect that the world wide trade in agricultural produces will decline as it will become relatively more expensive to ship the food and there is likely to be less to ship. Thus, agriculture is likely to become a more local effort requiring more workers paid minimal wages. In the US, we now see the migration of seasonal workers that follow the planting and harvest of the crops, a process which requires the movement of people, which is again likely to become difficult. And, as jobs continue to be scarce, the back lash against the migrants who perform this work might be expected to intensify.

Lastly, the economic impact of Peak Oil is likely to reduce the ability of those living in cities to purchase foods of the type now seen in our large supermarkets. I would expect that the wide variety of products now seen will devolve back to more basic staples, which would impact the producers of these rather exotic products, further reducing the demand on the agricultural sector. Next time you go to the food store, think about all the stuff on the shelves and how little of is really needed. Also, there are multiple sizes for packages of various staples and multiple producers of the same staple, such as bread, rice, coffee and ketchup. About 20 years ago, I ran into a fellow selling fish flown i to Atlanta from Hawaii. Yesterday, I visited a web site selling coffee, a company whose shop I used to visit during grad school and is said to be the model for Starbucks, now selling high dollar imported coffee at prices above $16 a pound. Agriculture will continue as long as there are concentrations of people, but what we eat and how we eat can be expected to change radically as the price of fossil fuels increase and "demand" withers away...

E. Swanson

Cheap fossil fuels replaced horses and other work animals. Horses alone used in farm work in the early 19th century needed one quarter of the land they worked to grow their own food. Fossil fuels increased productivity by 25% simply by making horses redundant, let alone people. The last oil on earth will be used to fuel a tractor - or a jet fighter.

Or to mine coal, one of its earliest uses.

You can run a diesel tractor on straight vegetable oil if you want to (you can buy conversion kits) and it will take only about 10% of the oilseed crop to run the farm equipment to produce it. So, it's much more efficient than horses. You can also run tractors on natural gas, or even coal if you have to, so I don't expect lack of fuel for food production to become a problem.

Lack of fuel for commuting to work, though, will be a problem. You can't grow enough oilseeds on the average suburban lot to get the his and hers SUVs to their jobs, and the shopping centers, and back, nevermind the kids to their schools located far outside of walking distance.

So.....Farmer Joe will be able to fuel his combine,,,,,somehow, and fertilize his fields,,,,someway,,and he'll find water to irrigate his crops,,,,,somewhere, though fewer people will be able to afford his (more expensive) product.

I'm just trying to think this through.

Farmer Joe, through the intensive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and irrigation is able to produce much more corn than Americans can eat - so the politicians want to turn it into fuel ethanol to use up the surplus.

A simpler solution is to use fewer fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and irrigation, and produce only as much food as people can eat. If he puts the otherwise idle (in the absence of demand for corn ethanol) back 40 acres into soybeans to fuel his tractor, that's his decision.

Ethanol is ~10% of our passenger vehicle fuel supply, we are already dependent on it as a nation.

However, ethanol requires about as much energy to produce as it contains, so it's not really gaining anything, it's just inflating the fuel supply numbers. It makes it look like oil supply is going up when it's really going down.

Ethanol is increasing liquid fuel supplies. It isn't increasing energy supplies. It is energy conversion and it has become a vital part of the overall liquid fuel equation. Today, there is no substitute for the role it has.

If there was no substitute for it, it would not require subsidies and mandates.

At the current rate of ethanol consumption increase, we should expect to use around 1 MBD of the stuff in 2011. We are currently facing a liquid fuel deficit of 0.7 MBD which is causing inventories to drop and prices to rise. If ethanol production ceased in 2011, then we would be facing a 1.7 MBD liquid fuel deficit (a little less but you get my drift).

We know that the price of corn is dependent on the price of gasoline since 2007. Is gasoline also dependent on the price of corn? One hot summer and we will know for sure.

Ethanol is used as an octane booster, over the more groundwater poisoning MBTE.


If cars go back to less efficiency via lower compression (think a VW bug at maybe 8:1), then the higher octane is not required.


...but then we end up using gasoline that much faster.

Can't let that simple minded comment go un addressed.

First off it is only the prime acreage where you might "only need 10% to run farm equipment" the average would be closer to 2to 25% and that is only with irrigation...yes Irrigation....hello!!!!

A huge percentage of arable land flat out can not produce oil seed at all...period. What are they supposed to use?

Oh I suppose they can use the "extra" oil seed that is not already used for tractors and trucking.

Also you can't actually just use crushed oil seed in a diesel engine. You must refine out the gum and other detrimental acids and such...yes refine...hello!!!

Also you cant grow oilseed on the same land over and over or yields drop to zilch. OOPS!

There is only one answer .........do LESS.....much LESS.

How does one promote this....BOMB the F832ers back to the Stone Age. Hah!

Is there a way to do this without the high school taunts? Can we try to keep from promoting a mosh-pit here?

Everything you say here is incorrect. While it is better to rotate crops, it is unnecessary if you are building soils via mulching, returning all non-food parts of plants to the field, closing all waste loops via composting, inter-cropping, co-planting, using cover crops as green manures, etc. If you do all that and rotate your crops, all the better.

I do not agree with RMG, either, though. He at least needs to account for the energy invested in extracting the oil, including equipment, first. I see horses and other large animals most effectively being Commons property and the use of machinery the same. But why bother with a tractor when you have so many idle hands? Keep one for emergencies, bad weather, what have you, but every farmer doesn't need one. Also, small holdings will need to become the norm to fit in the steady-state model and to avoid serfdom from becoming the norm again. If large animals/machines are co-owned/managed, any given farmer has to set aside a much smaller portion of their production/productive area.

Lacking the fuel (and the fertilizers made from it), it's reasonable to expect that the world wide trade in agricultural produces will decline as it will become relatively more expensive to ship the food and there is likely to be less to ship.

But agriculture will not lack the fuel! The pricing mechanisms will allocate the fuel to agriculture at the expense of other things. If the cost of food goes up, you'll pay for it . . . you'll cut back elsewhere. (No vacation, no fancy car, less movies/videogames/music, etc.)

Less total oil does not mean less oil for everyone. It means less oil for those oil-consuming things we do not value as much as others. As oil becomes more scarce, pricing systems will allocate who gets the fuel. In fact it is happening right now. A very high percentage of the population is on food stamps now . . . those food stamps are allocating fuel to farmers whereas those (often unemployed) people are not driving and certainly not flying on vacation.

I think one of the biggest wastes of oil that we can cut back on right now is military adventures. Stop wasting oil, money, and blood in Afghanistan. We gave it a good shot. But I think 10 years is long enough.

Yes, exactly. Agriculture isn't a problem, which is why, IMHO, amateur, small-scale food production is a waste of time.

Unless of course it's genuinely done as some sort of hobby or perhaps to save money. It's a free world.

But if you are growing food because of peak oil, you are wasting your time.

The only thing you can do in response to peak oil is use less of it. Which for most people will mean moving closer to places of employment, most likely in smaller quarters, and preferably with options for walking/biking/public transit. Long distance travel by car and plane will only be available to the upper classes, and freight will continue, albeit with greater reliance on rail and water, and less on truck and air.

"Which for most people will mean moving closer to places of employment, most likely in smaller quarters, and preferably with options for walking/biking/public transit."

True, but the problem is that everything will be changing at the same time and there likely will be no job to move close to for most people.

Public transit is becoming prohibitively expensive and the dense areas of employment they service may be forced to de-centralise and move to areas with an adequate in situ workforce. So, as you say, walking and biking will probably become the norm with people increasingly depending upon getting-by in place with informal, part time or self employment.

When and where is public transit becoming prohibitively expensive?

Your statement reminds me of the utterance regarding single payer health care in the US to the effect that it raises government expenses and in the context of a poor economy is not affordable. Of course in reality it is the US system of private health care which burdens the US economy with unnecessary inefficiencies and huge opportunity costs. Sadly, the twisted version of free market ideology pervading the US disables the reasoning process and leaves the country spending far too much for health care, much more than would be the case if the superior Cuban or Canadian models were adopted, not to venture too far abroad.

It is the generalized use of individual transport in private motor vehicles which is on the road to prohibitive expense, including huge opportunity costs. Public transit, and various forms of coordinated multi-modal transport in which public transit modes will play a central role, offer the economy (read society) the most economical (read cost-benefit) means to maintain the advantages of concentrated population.

I know the difficulty people have facing the daily barrage of propaganda repeating the message that government is good for damn little and that I should be able to keep my money and blah, blah, blah, but in the end the economy sets the pace and there is no getting around the advantages of the division of labour and therefore its mobility. We travel in private vehicles because we can and when we can't we won't, but we won't surrender the advantage of mobility because some people have a difficult time understanding the best way to pay the costs of transit.

"When and where is public transit becoming prohibitively expensive?"

Now! Europe!

In Britain the Government are trying to pass the full cost of running the railway network on to the rail users. This year's fare increases vary from 6-12% and are far from finished. IIRC one news article said that travelling to work via the rail network can consume some 20% of take home pay.

20 years ago when I used to commute into London by rail it cost me 15% of my salary. I believe every year since, rail travel has increased above inflation and rail travel is still heavily subsidised.

I think travelling will become too expensive, too difficult and too dangerous by most means. What happens when neither the passengers nor the Government can afford to pay the cost of running the rail network, efficient or otherwise? In the UK rail has been unable to pay for itself.

What do you mean by public transport here?

Even pretty wretched parts of the world have public transport - in particular, private minibus-taxis are what make the slums of the megacities of the Third World even close to work; one of the natural things to do if you happen to have a small accumulation of capital is to buy a minibus, stick a sign on the front, park somewhere at going-to-work time, collect three roubles from everyone who gets in (or six roubles if it's raining; they'll complain, but where else are they going to go, and how long are they going to stand around in the rain), drive to a city with workplaces when you're full, and repeat the process in reverse at coming-back-from-work time.

I don't think the employment will decentralise; in America at least it's extremely sparsely zoned to begin with, and lots of it has the kind of parking lots which can readily be filled with containers piled three deep to accommodate the employees in Dubai-migrant-worker style splendour.

Public transit is becoming prohibitively expensive...

In Los Angeles County a MTA day pass is only US$6 for the whole day (less than 2 gallons of fuel at today's prices in the US).


It's always very difficult to tell what transit really costs, because there's so much politically motivated obfuscation. However, LACMTA's farebox recovery is only around 30.6%, which is fairly typical.

Thus that day pass really costs $20, with the usual prize chump, the taxpayer, forking over the other $14 in exchange for nothing. (And let's not forget the enormous wear and tear caused by the buses, with their high axle weights. Most likely they run on untaxed diesel, so the riders pay nothing for street maintenance - often of secondary and even tertiary streets not really (over)built to handle such loads well, especially in places like LA that have no winter.)

Anyway, $20 a day is more than a lot of people spend on a car that gets them where they need to go in one-third the time, and which does not object to running in the evening or on Sundays or holidays. So, all told, I'm really left to wonder what might happen as the Subsidy Fairy continues to head slowly (or maybe not so slowly) into bankruptcy and transit riders either have to pay close to full cost (except likely, for bus riders, still zero for the street) or else walk. In the end, no matter how you slice it, dice it, or rationalize it, motorized transportation just seems simply to be very expensive.

And can we expect an oil man, Sachs-loving to boot, to understand over-consumption, climate or soil? No. Agriculture is a huge problem. It sucks up huge amounts of fossil fuels while destroying soils along the way. The lack of phosphorus alone is enough reason to change the system entirely.

You need to read more, take off your blinkers, something.

Yair...I have no data to prove it but I believe most of the seasonal food crops(exept for grain)required by most Australian cities and towns could be grown within a fifty kilometer radius of the local CBD.

There is sufficient land and water...it is just that it is in small parcels and unable to be worked with a hundred horsepower tractor and a fifty acre pivot.

This land probably would never be put into production using conventional market garden/small farm techniques and we are continueing to develop low energy agricultural systems that, in the future may allow viable low labour/low input horticultural businesses to be operated on small, what are presently called "life style" blocks.

I don’t get it. How is this article great? This article seems to make fun of the movement by emphasizing wing-nuts and peak oil groupies.

He writes about Kunstler and Rupert as if they were the ones who published peer reviewed papers and studies.

Kunstler and Rupert may be fun to read at times, but they are not members of the scientific community. They are not authorities on the subject so I take their opinions with a grain of salt.

There’s no mention of Colin Campbell, Kenneth Deffeyes or Jean Laherrere.

I think Mike makes a decent point about how folks in 'The Good Fight' like PO, get steadily outgunned by people with something sexier to sell, with a PR budget, and who offer a 'Happy Catechism' as he well implies.

My daughter (7) was watching a movie with us where someone says the classic, 'Why does everything that's good for you taste so bad!?', and she piped in, "Yeah! Exactly!" ... it's REALLY tough to battle against Chewy Potato Rolls armed only with loaves of Sprouted Grain bread and Kale Salad.. (at least she likes artichokes.. odd but wonderful child!)

Still, I think even Mike's article buys its readers attention with the too-easy red-meat of a good ol' fashioned debunking. "Look how they failed, Losers!" .. as X said, it's fairly similar to his themes about agriculture and the abuses of the word 'Organic', which to him have translated into a failure of the whole Organic 'movement'.

As you well point out, there are MANY far less charismatic, but much more durable voices who have been calling out about this Wolf for a good long time. Did I miss something, or has Tom Whipple now been shown to be wrong all this time?

(Umberto Eco has a great elucidation on the 'Happy Easy Church and the Somber Difficult Church', put into convenient computerese.. for a little 90's nostalgia!! ...

http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_mac_vs_pc.html (this is a selection, not the entire piece..)

Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It's an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.
The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions: When it comes down to it, you can decide to ordain women and gays if you want to.

Naturally, the Catholicism and Protestantism of the two systems have nothing to do with the cultural and religious positions of their users. One may wonder whether, as time goes by, the use of one system rather than another leads to profound inner changes. Can you use DOS and be a Vande supporter? And more: Would Celine have written using Word, WordPerfect, or Wordstar? Would Descartes have programmed in Pascal?

.. Food for thought, Manna for the Soul!

Kunstler and Rupert may be fun to read at times... There’s no mention of Colin Campbell, Kenneth Deffeyes or Jean Laherrere.

Exactly. That's getting an important part of the point. Kunstler and Rupert, among others, may be readable enough to a wider public (not necessarily the whole public) to help form a public image. Not so with the others, they make barely a ripple. And on top of that, let's not forget that disasters and The End Of The World have been staple Hollywood and electronic-media fare for almost as long as those things have existed. War of the Worlds, anyone?

I guess one other point that was irksome is the tone that says in this conclusion.. 'Game Over', Peak Oil, 0, Opponents, 1.

Clearly, unless these signs have simply been totally misread, the game isn't over, it is only just beginning. Again, my daughter.. was predicting that it should be warmer when I pick her up after school today, because 'the sun is coming back, and the days are getting longer..' .. well, I'm glad she knows about such things, but I had to remind her that there is some lagtime before you see the effects.. but they are on their way, nonetheless.

Mike sounds very confused and very hurt.

Hopefully all hell breaks loose all over the planet in 2011 so Mike B. can feel a little better.

EDIT: Apologies MikeB. I thought you were upset that not enough trauma has happened fast enough.

One note about the "failure" of the Peak Oil movement to win the hearts and minds of the public:

It was not possible to win this "battle" no matter what tactics were used.

Trying to "educate the public" takes decades* and our leaders clearly had no intention of "educating" the public anyway. We never stood a chance - even if we had a celebrity like Al Gore making movies and campaigning, it would make no more difference than it did for AGW.

(*) as for "educating the public" - consider our 'success' after 40 years battling big tobacco... nicotine is a hell of a drug, but oil is even more addictive. Educating the addicts will not change their behavior.

It does not matter if you have as a teacher Krusty the Clown, or the Surgeon General...

This article is a good questioning of traditional peak oil dogma, but is fairly hand wavy with its broad generalizations.

Most peak oil converts share the same belief about agriculture: industrial agriculture, bad; "organic" farming and "permaculture," good. They have been saying this for so long that it is yet another peak oil cliché.

"For so long". So the author really believes that 5 years (or on that order) is anywhere near the timescales need to actually see what happens in energy decline? It's ridiculous to simply say that oh no huge TEOTWAWKI event has occured in the 5 years since peak oil become popular, so let's deem it "dead". Anybody with even rudimentary probability training realizes that this argument is completely devoid of rational thinking. An Ron is correct that the past five years is most probably not reflective of the circumstances of significant yearly declines in production.

It takes much more acreage, and much more labor, to grow foods by these methods than by conventional means. They work fine on small farms, but large farms--those that feed large populations--must operate on industrial scales.

And much *less* energy. More human labor, less energy. Less complexity. This has been covered ad nauseum by Archdruid.

When oil supply begins to contract, it is more likely that fuels will be requisitioned for uses in agriculture first rather than that a new peasant class will open up. As I said, evolution will continue. Just imagine what new GMOs can be developed that will require less land and less labor to grow. Imagine reformulations of pesticides that target certain species and leave the others alone.

I have many comments on this one, but the author's idea that somehow we'll be able to further develop GMOs and better pesticides in the middle of energy becoming more scarce is ridiculous. The amount of energy needed to power the innovation to produce such things is staggering. You need supercomputers, highly specialized, university educated, staff, and constant technology refresh. Presuming fuels we be "requisitioned" for uses in agriculture first (of the current incarnation), where is this energy going to come from? From some other pillar that is one of the many supporting the structure of industrial civilization.

These arguments simply don't hold water and in my opinion the article is fraught with sloppy thinking. Just my 2 cents.

I agree with a lot of this article but I don't feel as betrayed or bitter as Mike seems to feel since I never believed any of TEOTWAWKI stuff. I've always felt that Savinar, Kunstler, and Ruppert have largely been clowns. They've made cottage industries out of fear-mongering. They've (ironically) flown all over the world saying how we can't fly all over the world anymore. They annoy me since they are the extremists that make the peak oil easy to dismiss . . . just frame all peak oil people like those three and then dismiss peak oil as just crazy fringe nuttiness.

Peak oil is a slow-motion problem. There is no sudden collapse. It is just a slow grind of paying a larger and larger share of your money to pay for energy the consequences that brings. Trade deficit messes. Debt crisis. Economic shrinkage since excess money that used to go to other things now has to go to pay for that growing energy slice of the budget. Unemployment. Etc.

We will continue to have oil for the rest of my life. It will just keep becoming more expensive. So we'll adapt by traveling less. Stopping the import/export of various items that are not worth the cost of shipping. Less recreational oil usage. We all want to eat so the pricing systems will allocate oil to farming at the expense of other oil-consuming activities that we will not value as much as eating (which is pretty much everything).

....and that huge segment of our society who's income is reliant on superfluous uses of oil will find something else to do, and those that rely on the incomes of that first group to buy the essentials they are producing will find new customers for their products and services while folks find jobs that actually produce something non-discretionary. I have to ask; what percentage of our economy is purely consumption based?

Still just trying to think this through....this overshoot thing.

I wish I had good answers for your questions. I think unemployment will be at least part of the result. But economies generally adapt . . . economists will say they don't know where those new jobs will come from but they will come. I hope they are right. But these days unemployed people mostly seem to be struggling along with unemployment checks, food stamps, and help from relatives. Some find jobs both others are continuing to lose them at pretty much the same rate as new jobs are found.

We are at the point now where a sizeable portion of the population will never work again at a "professional" position (I am one of those people). Increasingly, the choice will be between starting your own backyard business and starving on the street (do we really believe that the government will support the unemployed indefinitely?). But these won't be "rags to riches" entrepreneurs. They will be people offering their services as washerwomen and handymen, agricultural workers and roustabouts. How many tanning salons, gift boutiques and baseball card shops can a collapsing economy support? And how many of these people will be able to afford to live in $300,000 houses and drive $30,000 automobiles? Not many.

As a generalist, I try to get a sense of the big picture. As a former systems guy I try to look at pieces of a system, see how they interact, connect and support each other. I try really hard to NOT be a doomer so I look for things that can provide traction to our economic/sociological situation, give us a handhold and eventually a foot up. The more I look the more I realize that we are on a precipice, stability is being eroded all around and the slope is getting more slippery as time goes by.

People are resiliant, creative and driven to survive. Resiliance, creativity and survival are dependent upon inputs, even in societies that are honest with themselves and are built upon a social fabric that promotes resiliance. Our inputs (resources) are increasing in scarcity and our social and economic fabric has become brittle and dishonest. Peak oil, a symptom of this condition, has now become a driver. But wait, there's more. Wanna see something really scarey?

Illargi's post yesterday regarding real estate and mortgage backed securities is an eye opener:

First off, L. Randall Wray, a Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who's co-operated quite a bit with Bill Black over the past year, throws more oil on the fire of foreclosure fraud, albeit from his own particular angle. Wray's claim is that Mortgage-Backed Securities are not backed by anything, since the MERS electronic securitization facility carried from its inception a number of plainly illegal concepts. Therefore, he says, most if not all US foreclosures are illegal, and all MBS are unsecured debt that the issuers will have to buy back - to the tune of trillions of dollars. Which entirely dooms the main US banks.


Another $7+ trillion: POOF! Check it out .... I am. All of the bailouts and QE: Poof! Credit: Poof! Global trade: Poof! CAPEX for oil exploration, renewables research, investment: POOF! Your mortgage? POOF! Your job?

Another $7+ trillion: POOF! Check it out .... I am. All of the bailouts and QE: Poof! Credit: Poof! Global trade: Poof! CAPEX for oil exploration, renewables research, investment: POOF! Your mortgage? POOF! Your job?

Well, the fairy godmother did say that the luxurious coach and beautiful horses would turn back into a pumpkin and a bunch of mice after midnight, didn't she? POOF!

Re banks, mortgages and foreclosures...

1. A valid "mortgage" requires a ("wet signature") note and a security instrument; these must be kept together, and any subsequent transfer of lien rights to the security instrument must be recorded at the appropriate public office. The mortgage note must be properly indorsed each time the mortgage is transferred. In the era of securitized mortgages this can be a dozen times or more. If ever presented for foreclosure, endorsements should demonstrate a clear chain of title, from origination through to foreclosure; and this should match the records at the public office.

Well, good luck with that!

The article sounds like a bunch of legal-sounding gobbledygook. The concept of a mortgage dates back to the middle ages.

In the word mortgage, the mort- is from the Latin word mori for death, and -gage is from the sense of that word meaning a pledge to forfeit something of value if a debt is not repaid. So a mortgage is literally a death pledge.

The basic idea of a mortgage is quite simple. When you take out a mortgage, the mortgagee lends you the money to buy a property, and in return you hand over title to the property. When you pay the mortgagee back according to the terms of the mortgage, you get the title back and you own the property free and clear. The details may vary depending on jurisdiction, but that's the original concept.

However, if you fail to make the payments, the mortgagee or some other interested party can foreclose on your interest, and if foreclosure is successful, you lose your right to get the title back.

...the lender seeks to foreclose the equitable right of redemption. Other lien holders can also foreclose the owner's right of redemption for other debts, such as for overdue taxes, unpaid contractors' bills or overdue homeowners' association dues or assessments.

In fact, if you don't pay the taxes or the contractors, the mortgagee might pay them for you, just to stop them from foreclosing on you. If anybody forecloses on you, they want it to be them and not the government or the contractors. They don't want to lose the title to your property.

So, quibbling over the legal details doesn't help. Regardless of whether they can figure out who holds the mortgage, if you don't make all the payments, any of the lien holders on the property can initiate foreclosure, and you will lose your interest regardless of who gets title to it afterwards. I think that L. Randall Wray, a Professor of Economics, missed that legal point.

The lien holder isn't the lien holder until they can prove it. That's the law. Maybe you missed that legal point.

....lenders may have the right to collect debt on certain loans, if they can prove ownership of the loan, but they can't foreclose unless and until they have a clear record (chain) of all transactions the loans went through, through their entire existence. And MERS effectively killed that chain.

It doesn't matter if you or I think it sounds like "legal-sounding gobbledygook", it matters what the law says. It's all 'gobbledygook'.

The lien holder isn't the lien holder until they can prove it. That's the law. Maybe you missed that legal point.

MERS seems to be a uniquely American fiddle to get around title registration costs that may have completely screwed up the ownership of mortgages in the US.

However, I think the basic legal point is that the mortgagor doesn't own the property free and clear until the mortgage is paid off. Somebody else does (the mortgagee). Given enough time and effort, the lawyers probably can follow the trail and figure it out, and the courts will make some kind of ruling on it.

Until that happens, it's not clear who actually owns the property, which doesn't help because it makes it impossible for the homeowner or anyone else to sell it. It essential makes the property valueless. However, you can put this off by paying the taxes and utilities on it while living there rent-free while litigation goes on.

And in many jurisdictions, if you keep this up long enough, you can end up owning the property under the doctrine of adverse possession . It's a common-law mechanism to clear up competing title claims. It puts a time limit on claims as to who owns a property, and if the time limit expires, the person who has been living on the property all that time owns it. In some states this can be 5 years or less.

So, while I have doubts about the validity of the whole article, I think it behooves the bank lawyers to get moving and sort out the details on those foreclosure proceedings, because if they drag it out too long, the people who are not paying on their mortgages may actually end up owing the houses. Depending on jurisdiction, of course.

In a country with a more competent government, they would have shot MERS in both kneecaps before it got out of the starting blocks, but I guess it's one of the features of living in the US. Competent government is optional.

All I can say is be patient. Sure Kunstler, Simmons, and Ruppert can be a little over the top. I always take things, "with a grain of sand". Always do your own research. I am proud to say I am a "peak oiler". Don't really know if I like this story, but this dude has his own opinion as well. From the last 4 years of investigating peak oil, I can give my own "opinion" and say peak oil is real. Just be patient and you will see peak oil effects in time. Just thought I would throw in my 2 cents. :)

The article does not really doubt peak oil. It just criticizes the doomsters with their over-the-top predictions that failed to materialize.

One can criticize Yergin & CERA for the same thing . . . they issued over-optimistic forecasts for years that all failed to come true.

Both sides got much of it wrong and the truth was apparently in the middle. But you look worse when you predict massive doom and it doesn't happen. I think the people that got it most correctly have been the more pragmatic peak oilers that give cautiously pessmistic views. People like Chris Skrebowski, Ken Verosub, Charles Maxwell, etc.

So far.. of course.

I think I'm pretty moderate in my predictions as well.. but part of the problem is trying to pin down success or failure right at the head of the storm.* Since it is really playing out as an economic storm, most peoples rooftops aren't being ripped off and the streets aren't on fire.. so it still looks like BAU out there. But the river can still look smooth and quick just a few feet away from the falls..

*(I say the head of the storm thinking of the IEA's (typo was 'IED') map of that phantom plateau we are moseying out onto, as crude production falls away into the murky depths..)

Well hell, none of us really knows what is about to happen, all we can do is try to make an educated guess.

Well, I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that 4% or the world's population is sooner or later, going to be burning no more than 4% of the world's oil, not the 25% that they burn now.

I disagree. Through economic (and possibly military) strength, the USA will continue to burn more oil than others. HOWEVER, it will come down. 'Peak demand' is true in that the OECD is burning less & less oil while China & India ramp up oil usage. But we will still burn much more oil than others for a long, long time. Of course we would like to burn more, but we just can't afford it. But as long as we can afford it (which will be a while), we will burn more than others.

Buried in a footnote of the CERA Guide to Opacity and Mass Delusions:

Peak Demand = "just can't afford it"

My experience with biological science says MikeB has absolutely no idea what he is talking about with magical methods to increase crop yields with technology.

You need to use P,N,C,O and they come from industry, the air, or a mine. Phosphorus is getting rather expensive and the price of food is rising. Gee why is that?

In any case, unless Science can defeat the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and draw diffuse phosphorus and other nutrients our of the oceans then the future of food in not rosy.

Peak Oil is not a movement. It is just a fact. Examine oil production in the lower 48 US. Did it peak? Did the peak occur when Hubbert said -- more or less. What more is there to prove?

Yergin can act like the World is not going to peak. LOL. But that is like calling the winner of a football match in the 2nd quarter when the score is still tied.

Sorry MikeB, your article is premature. Why didnt you mention the EIA predictions of oil production which cascade like a waterfall to basically a peak oil model? Why didnt you quote their admission the peak may have already occurred. Oh well. I guess admitting peak oil occurred is a win for Yergin et al.

I am not convinced however.

Sure the future is hard to predict. But does that mean not having exactly predicted human history means an idea was defeated. LOL. I do not buy that at all.

Some nit-picking of the interesting article:

Then there's the other Matt, the star-gazing Magus Savinar, who continually invoked TEOTWAWKI on his website Life After the Oil Crash, which is still listed number one under a Google search for "peak oil." He drew comparisons to the Titanic, told us to start hording canned goods and horoscopes, and disappeared. When disaster failed to materialize, he shut down his website and said his disciples were failures. What a cad.

His website seems to still exist:
But I guess he is referring to discussion forums:

Did he really call them failures? I wanna read that post. Anyone have the link?

IIRC "that post", or at any rate a post that sort of fits the description, didn't stay up long and didn't use the exact word "failure". But he expressed frustration that the forum folks were just talking rather than doing what he would regard as "preparation". It does remain a deep mystery how that segues into astrology...

Edit: one version is captured here.

I've closed the forum, may or may not open it up. I think far too many people are using it as a form of escapism and/or time wasting. And, on some level, an attempt at connecting/channeling the archetypal energies associated with the destructive power of Peak Oil and related psycho-religious memes...

There is also the "glamour" issue and by that I mean "glamour" as a destructive and deceptive force. In this case it would be the "glamour" of having a gazillon posts on a popular apocalypse crash web site or a bunch of "friends" who you communicate with soley by way of a digital machine interface.

So I need to think about what to do about it...

Note BTW that while the website exists for now, it is inactive, an archive.

Sounds a bit like Nate's "Clown Fest" post.

Ron, I usually find myself agreeing with you, not this time!

It is now 2011, and the same world is still too much with us. The traffic on our road keeps increasing, and the acquisition of the last technological marvel is still the important issue of the day.

If that is true then this statement just doesn't jive.

Peak Oil is dead. Long live peak demand

At the very least that should mean that the traffic on our roads is decreasing not increasing.
Then he goes on to say this:

Daniel Yergin now preaches as Good News. The Peak of Demand is coming in clouds of glory.

Ok that's all fine an dandy but in the next breath our plucky indomitable newly minted Peak Oil agnostic again stumbles a bit...

We all know that the "peak demand" argument is fake, a distinction without a difference. When extraction peaks, demand peaks by definition.

So let me get this straight... He says the "peak demand" argument is fake? So what's it gonna be? Extraction has peaked and therefore 'Peak Oil' is Dead?! MmmKay, that thar, is one juicy nugget, of impeccable logic, if you ask me.

If oil indeed has peaked, as many of us suspect, then the quote that Fahey attributes to Paul Sankey of Deutsche Bank is actually true: "...by 2030 America will use just 5.4 million barrels a day, the same as in 1969"

How does the fact that America will use just 5.4 million barrels a day by 2030, disprove peak oil? Isn't that a direct consequence of Peak Oil and therefore a corroboration of the phenomenon? In any case it seems I may have been under the mistaken impression that peak oil was that point after which the total production of oil begins its inexorable decline never again to rise to the level at which it peaked. No?!

So how did they do it? How did Yergin and CERA, Exxon Mobil, and "Government and industry officials" so completely outmaneuver the peak oil prophets of doom? How did they manage to get their AP-disseminated articles stuffed into everyone's stockings, while the peak oil message withered on the tree?

Easy. They co-opted the peakers' terms, converting lead into gold, and they stayed on message. How have our own prophets fared by comparison?

Really? Sorry, I for one am not convinced that they have won. Furthermore regardless of what Yergin and CERA, Exxon Mobil, and "Government and industry officials might say, or not say, it changes reality not a whit. And even as the last hope filled cornucopian steps off the ledge expecting that wings will miraculously sprout from their shoulders and keep them aloft, I'll still be betting that they make one great big spalt as they hit the ground!

Articles like this one tend to make me more resolute a doomer than before.


I don't think you understood his article. He very much believes in peak oil. He just feels burned by the over-the-top predictions of many of the well-known peak oil gadflys. (Savinar, Simmons, Kunstler, etc.) And he is mocking Yergin who got much of the oil forecasting wrong by now spinning a 'peak demand' is real story while still denying 'peak oil' even though they are functionally pretty much the same. Demand is weak because prices are high, prices are high because of peak oil, thus 'peak demand' is pretty much the exact same as 'peak oil'. The only difference is that world-wide, oil production may increase a little bit more because other markets can afford to buy more (since they use the oil more efficiently or have economies that are in much better shape).

But his main point is that CERA & Yergin won the PR battle by being more savvy and providing a happy story instead of a debbie downer doomster story. CERA & Yergin's predictions are pretty dire even if you have to read between the lines to understand it. At a low price, there would be massive demand. "Peak demand" is merely the happy-talk way of saying "there will be oil available . . . you just can't afford to buy it now since your economy is a mess and your finances have been savaged" . . . but hey, at least it is not peak oil!

No, I understood the article quite well, even the fact that he actually accepts peak oil as a fact of life.

But his main point is that CERA & Yergin won the PR battle by being more savvy and providing a happy story instead of a debbie downer doomster story.

I get that but what I'm saying is that his conclusion about who won the PR battle is rather premature because even though peak oil itself is probably behind us the consequences of peak oil have barely begun, 'peak demand' notwithstanding.

This isn't about downer doomer stories, its about reality in the form of recession, joblessness, poverty and severe economic hardship for more and more citizens... and yes that will certainly cause a reduction in demand. It sure as heck wasn't caused by an over abundance of good news from Yergin and Co.

Maybe you can sweep 42 million Americans being on food stamps under the rug as a PR victory and hope they don't come back to haunt you. I say wait a little longer for the fat lady to sing before concluding that the show is really over.

his conclusion about who won the PR battle is rather premature

He states the cause and effects badly, I'll grant you that.

The truth about the Peak Oil battle for the hearts and minds of the public is that they had us beat at "hello" --our hello.

They are masters at mind manipulation while we the intellectuals are worse than rank amateurs.

Our battle cry alone ("Peak Oil") knocks us out of the competition at hello --our hello.

Or maybe we do not have T.V. networks. The public will listen to authority. The message does not matter.

The message does not matter.
The public will listen to ... the T.V. networks.

Woo-ha! What's in you wallet?

If the message didn't matter, Madison Avenue wouldn't exist.

This isn't about downer doomer stories, its about reality in the form of recession, joblessness, poverty and severe economic hardship for more and more citizens..

Well yeah . . . and if the peakists had gone out there and told that story, they would have been right and gained credibility. Instead I've listened to podcasts with Kunstler saying that X thousand people will die next winter since they won't have heat (didn't happen). Simmons was saying BP would go bankrupt and the entire Gulf coast had to be evacuated. And just the other day, Mr. Arch Druid said on a podcast ~"all people who depend on medicines to live are going to die". Such alarmist messages that are proven wrong make the peak oil message into a laughing stock.

I wish there was some big credibility moderate voice out there telling the story of "recession, joblessness, poverty and food stamps" since that is what peak oil will probably really look like over the next 10 years. Perhaps that just doesn't get media because it is not dramatic enough or is too much of a downer.

I think the peak community should admit that it did not fully appreciate the workings of the market. "Peak" is a bit of misnomer . . . although from a historic perspective, there will be a peak, on a human live scale, it is more of a plateau. I think Colin Campbell has done a great job of coming forward and saying that he did not fully appreciate the market economics. (This should come as no surprise . . . he is a geologist, not an economist.) He has said that his views of rapid price increase were wrong and that instead we'll muddle along with repeated cycles of price increases until economic collapse, then retrenchment, then price increase, collapse, etc. I think we are right now on another price upswing powered by a (very mild) recovery. But the peak oil crowd should no be surprised when the price drops again due to another economic collapse.

People like Yergin understood the economics better and he is using his economics knowledge to hide the fact that he got the geology dead wrong. He is trying to down-play the fact that he probably got 'peak oil' wrong for years by now calling it 'peak demand' instead.

And just the other day, Mr. Arch Druid said on a podcast ~"all people who depend on medicines to live are going to die".

Got a link? I would love to listen to that podcast. I checked "Financial Sense Newshour" and it was not there.

However... if the government breaks down and everyone is left to their own resources, which will eventually happen, maybe in 20 years, maybe in 50 years, or even later, then what Greer said is a fact. There was a time, not too many years ago, when there was no medicine other than herbs. People who got diabetes just died. There are a lot of other diseases and ailments where medicine keeps people alive where just a few years ago they simply died. We will eventually return to that time again.

Ron P.

Type 1 childhood diabetes was lethal before insulin.

Type 2 adult onset diabetes was a lot rarer. Epidemiological studies of wartime periods where populations had calorie-restricted diets without many refined carbs and excessive fats have identified a significant reduction in Type 2.

Good point . . . less food will mean less of some diseases. A sort of benefit! :-)

Less oil means, less pollution and cancers associated with the emissions, it means more exercise and less heart disease -- less smoking I imagine too.

Pretty much all the major diseases (non-genetic) are due to overabundance issues. Mainly diet and exercise and air pollution.

On the other hand, good access to clean drinking water, sanitation, vacines, and food has made us live longer.

Seems there are two sides but certain disease reveal gross excess in the current oversupplied/overfed economy.

Here you go:

I find Greer's message way too apocalyptic and fear-mongering. Yes . . . maybe in 40 or 50 years if things get way out of control, that could happen. But that is not going to happen in the next 20 years. Momentum will carry us along just fine. As every peakist needs to repeat . . . "We are not running out of oil, it is just the rate of production that will begin to fall". So it is irresponsible fear-mongering to, today, say that people dependent on medicine will die. That is not going to happen now and not likely to happen in the future unless we really lose control of the situation. And 10 years from now when diabetics are doing just fine, people will laugh at such tripe.

Scientists & engineers will solve lots of problems we encounter. The economists/optimists are RIGHT about that. HOWEVER, they often take that view too far and into a cornucopian dreamer land. Scientists & engineers cannot break the laws of physics. They are constrained by the materials we have available to use. I feel that the economists/optimists simply do not understand the laws of physics & thermodynamics and thus have an over-optimistic view as to how many problems we can easily solve. The supply of oil is finite. The earth is a finite sphere. There are physical limitations as to how many MPG you can get for a car no matter how matter how efficient you make the engine and no matter how aerodynamic it is.

We've been using oil for some 150 years. For a century now, we have been using it to drive our cars. Since hubbert first published, we have known that we are living on borrowed time. In 1970, we were given a rude reminder. Another in 1979. Both times we tried to come up with alternatives but failed to find anything as good as oil. We lucked out with an Alaskan & North Sea oil party for 20 years. We are now once again struggling with oil becoming expensive. And despite 40 years of work, we still have found nothing to replace it. The best we've come up with is improved Li-Ion EVs. And that is what we will have to make due with. They'll improve a bit but we are just going to have to deal with more expensive travel costs. And that may keep the economy in a stranglehold for a decade.

With regards to oil, you are likely correct. The bigger picture, though, is that we have never even begun to deal with population, and the other resource peaks which also loom. Momentum is not a great thing when it turn into overshoot, and then a fall.

Higher efficiency and fewer people - the one true path. Unfortunately, capitalism rewards utility, not just efficiency, and Darwinism rewards procreation.

I don't think it's a decade, but a century, of strangulation for which we are headed. How can it be otherwise, when humans live so long, without some some sort of fast-crash? A decade won't even make a dent in the real problem via natural attrition.

It would be great if we come up with techofixes and postpone the inevitable, but inevitable a fall will remain until we can deal with the population issue other than by awaiting war, starvation, and disease. The precautionary viewpoint would be to presume less energy, less food, and less availability of other resources, and work toward an acceptable world aligned with such.

Greer is someone I judge as a prophet thinking about the longer term. He has a point and people that deny it are kind of crazy because no one has demonstrated nuclear fusion or any technologies that could sustain our energy requirements.

Energy production will fall and food production will fall.

The only denial that can be put forth is regarding the exact timeline and trajectory of the production declines.

We must only be arguing about timing -- and not the reality of the looming problem.

It that what MikeB cares about -- the timing -- the predictive ability of humans guessing about the exact onset of the decline?

Well gee if we could predict that then we would all be geniuses, no?

But that is not going to happen in the next 20 years.

You say that as if you had a crystal ball reading the future. No, it could easily happen in less than twenty years. However the great majority of people alive right now will still be alive in 20 years. Are you so myopic that nothing 20 years away is of any concern to you. I likely will not be alive in 20 years but I am still greatly concerned because of my children and grandchildren.

And 10 years from now when diabetics are doing just fine, people will laugh at such tripe.

Oh great, another vision from your crystal ball.

Ron P.

Oh great, another vision from your crystal ball.

Quite beside the point. The real underlying question all along has been how does, say, a member of the wider public who is sent here by the Google for the first time, choose between a crystal ball like Spec's, and a crystal ball like yours? (And please don't forget, predictions of imminent doom have been with us for millennia - they don't exactly have automatic, built-in credibility. Very likely insulin will still exist in ten years - it came into use at far lower levels of oil consumption than prevail now, and possibly could have done so at lower levels still if only people had had the necessary knowledge.)

say, a member of the wider public who is sent here by the Google for the first time, choose between a crystal ball like Spec's, and a crystal ball like yours?

Well my crystal ball don't know a damn thing. I can see nothing. I guess, I guess and then I guess again but I make no definite statements about what people will be doing 10 years from now. So my crystal ball is a complete dud. Yea, sure, they would choose Spec's crystal ball over mine because he gives us definite answers about what people will be doing 10 years from now and mine doesn't have a clue.

Oh, I have not predicted imminent doom. I have said time and time again that I was making an educated guess and even then I did not guess doom in 10 years but only that 7 billion people cannot possibly survive when oil production starts to drop by several percent per year. Hell, you do not need a crystal ball to see that.

But you, and Spec also, completely miss the point. Sure, many things could exist with fossil fuel consumption at one half what it is today. The point is could the economy survive? If the economy collapses, if the government cannot borrow any more money and must resort to simply printing money and social security and all government aid collapses, who will supply insulin for nothing? No one of course.

You folks who see a gradual decline are, in my opinion, living in a dream world. When unemployment climbs to 30 percent, then 40 percent, then.... COLLAPSE! End of story.

Ron P.

If you can grow pigs then you can make insulin. The difference is minor and pig insulin would work fine. It was the original insulin in fact for humans. A small modification of it makes the human stuff.


You could also make insulin from bacteria as is done today, but here is where the problem lies for the future.

The volumes of insulin production will not be large and that scale would be hard to achieve without massive fermentation equipment.

Just how is large scale insulin production possible in an energy constrained world? The price will go up and up. People without pigs will die -- no question.

People without pigs will die -- no question.

Right! Now imagine what happens in a resource depleted world when the people who still have pigs are suddenly faced with a swine flu epidemic or something worse.

FM, the swine flu will be the least of people's worries if they own pigs. Their main problem will be all those other folks who want their pigs for themselves.

Ron P.

After much searching I found the link to Greer's podcast.

The Mythology of Progress with John Michael Greer

In this discussion we delve into many topics starting with Druidry and then moving into Peak Oil and the ASPO conference. Interestingly enough JMG was a guest speaker at the ASPO conference and details that difference between the 'suits' and 'sandals' crowd. We also talk about the impact of a world affected by oil shortages and I ask John Michael if he holds out hope for any new technologies that will fill the gaps left by diminishing oil production (and I asked that question with a straight-face mind you).

I am sorry if this kind of talk scares you Speculawyer. Perhaps you think that we should tell folks that it is going to hurt but just a little.

But the peak oil crowd should no be surprised when the price drops again due to another economic collapse.

Most of us will not be surprised at all. In fact I would be greatly surprised if an economic crash did not happen, driving prices back down. It would be foolish today, after seeing what happened in 2008, to believe that prices will ever reach $200 a barrel.

Today, after thinking long and hard about it, I expect the economy to continue this roller coaster ride for perhaps 10 more years, possibly more, getting a little worse with each cycle. But at some point there will be no recovery, the crash will go right to the bottom.

Course I could be wrong. ;-)

Ron P.

I'm not scared by BS, I'm annoyed by it.

He also goes on about how the Internet is going to disappear eventually (presumeably because we don't have the energy to power it anymore?). That's garbage, IMHO. The reverse is happening. We are becoming every more dependent and happen with the Internet. Instead of driving to movies and having DVDs/Blu-Rays/Videogames/magazines/news/etc shipped, we more & more watch our movies, play our videogames, and read magazines/news as bits that come across the internet. The internet is a great oil-saver that will be valued and prioritized and will grow. It is not going away.

He's a very interesting guy . . . but if he becomes the face of peak oil then the peak oil message is just a fringe group. Bless him & his organic farming. But stop preaching doom, it is embarrassing. I guess I'm in the 'suits' crowd with the oil geologists & financial analysts. I think many of the 'sandals' crowd is just looking at peak oil as a way to validate their organic farming beliefs. But you can't follow your beliefs, you have to follow the facts no matter where they take you. I'm a scientist/engineer and that is the way I look at things. And who knows where they will go? Perhaps someone will make a fusion break-through (I hope) and then we can laugh-off this peak oil issue since we'll all be able to drive EVs and/or fuel cell vehicles.

What if it's not BS? What if Greer is the one following the facts no matter where it takes him? What if it is you that is following your beliefs? Hopes?(a fusion breakthrough? Perpetual, unending internet? Financial analysts? Fuel cell vehicles?) Is "too cheap to meter" in there somewhere?

Yes, who knows where it will go? Where are these facts that you're following? Obviously you read "the facts" quite differently than I, which is fine. People are like that. To each his own.

Facts are objective things not subject to interpretation. We have lots of facts on oil reserves & oil production. Even if you eliminate all the magical reserve growth in OPEC, there is still lots of oil out there that we will be getting.

Projections/Predictions are our various different views as to what will happen in the future based on the objective facts we have. It is very difficult to make good long term predictions. But as far as the short term goes, you can be pretty sure that next year will be pretty much the same as this year. Things change slowly. So I find these drastic predictions of people dying because we don't have medicine anymore just ridiculous. Perhaps things will come to that in decades but it is kinda silly to say such things now and act as if insulin will disappear off store shelves next year. People are certainly entitled to have such opinions . . . but I'm just as entitled to my opinion that I feel such statements are embarrassing to the peak oil community.

And don't twist my words . . . I said nothing about a 'perpetual' internet and I have no idea if a fusion breakthrough will happen. I certainly hope that will happen but I'm not planning on it at all. Just because you don't like what I say, don't twist my words into a strawman to beat up.

Facts are objective things not subject to interpretation.

This has got to be the most pervasive myth of human-kind. Ask any 100 people what the facts are about oil-reserves and you likely will get 100 different answers. It's even worse when you consider historical events. Ask any 100 people what happened in the Vietnam war and, once again, you will likely get 100 different answers.

We might agree on things such as the fact that gravity exists and so on, but stray too far from the objectively obvious and you will run into trouble.

We have lots of facts on oil reserves & oil production.

We have lots of facts on oil production but we have NO facts on oil reserves. Even fields that are in production now, we can only guess as to how much is left. And OPEC is not counting on a lot of reserve growth. Most reserve growth occurs in the first few years after a field goes into production as the producers get a better idea of how much oil is down there. But after a couple of decades they have it down to plus or minus 10 percent or so. And the closer to empty the field gets the better the guesses become as to how much oil remains.

You say:

Perhaps things will come to that in decades but it is kinda silly to say such things now and act as if insulin will disappear off store shelves next year.

Then you have the nerve to say:

And don't twist my words . . .

Now just who is saying, or even hinting that insulin will disappear from store shelves next year? Wow! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Oh, and it could take decades but in 2008 the financial system almost collapsed. Had it not been for a massive government bailout it would have collapsed. It could happen and it could happen very fast. To absolutely declare that it will take decades is the height of absurdity.

Ron P.


You said - "He also goes on about how the Internet is going to disappear eventually (presumeably because we don't have the energy to power it anymore?). That's garbage, IMHO."

Well, IMO that sounds like you're implying a "perpetual internet" that could never disappear due to resource constraints. I didn't mean to twist your words I only meant to condense them as I understood them.

Actually, I think you and I agree on a lot of things. I too think it will be a slow grind and things will progress very slowly. Afterall, the money changers in the temple have a lot of tricks up their sleeve. However, I do not dismiss the thinking that at some point along the way things could fall apart very suddenly.

I also agree that good long term predictions are very difficult to make. Probably impossible. The problem is: As soon one puts forth a theory like peak oil or climate change or even a new economic theory someone is going to ask "So what does this mean? How will it affect the future?" Suddenly we're into predictions of the future. Now we're in clown territory. We could instead make no predictions or just make very safe or very vague predictions. But then people will just dismiss our theory as worthless garbage and walk off. So what do you do? Knowledge of peak oil, oil reserves and oil production are of zero value to an average Joe like me without the discussion of what it might mean for our future. The discussion can get pretty far out there at times but until the future gets here we can't know for sure how far out there is too far out there.

To me it really doesn't matter if the peak oil community embarasses itself from time to time with predictions that fail to materialize. I don't see it as some sort of contest. Besides, economists are constantly making worthless, embarassing and completely wrong predictions but people still keep listening to them.

Ron, here's an anti-dote to that ghastly crap:

What technology wants.

Kevin Kelly might be his own kind of nutcase. Nevertheless, I remain an ambivalent doomer.

I have been reading stuff by Kevin Kelly since the 70's, and in my opinion he is a technocornucopian of the first water. I.e., a kind of nutcase. He is one of many who confuse "information" with energy and matter, the virtual with the actual. Sometimes he seems like a preacher from the Church of Star Trek Progress to the Stars. I always got the impression that he wishes he was Stewart Brand. Don't get me started on Stewart Brand. :-)

Now that piques my curiosity -- information can certainly be meaningfully expressed through mathematics in the real-world, including energy and matter. One true genius, Claude Shannon, devised equations that govern the behavior of data transmission channels and the information they convey in very useful and practical engineering terms. Anybody who uses DSL or Cable or Fiber for Internet access of compressed files is bumping up against his work in many forms between the computer server and his laptop.

Like Quantum Mechanics, the distance between arcane math that is so virtual as to seem almost fictional and the world of everyday technology is just a few feet from you all day long.

Not that this means Kelly isn't a nutcase -- I never heard of him before this -- but sometimes our intuition on wackiness is a bit mis-calibrated.

Kelly's evolutionary view of technology is fascinating. However, he completely misses the energy questions.

Because something can be expressed in math, arcane or not, doesn't mean it can substitute for the real world. Indeed, Shannon was a genius, but the fruits of his work involve real physical stuff. But energy is not the same as equations describing energy. The map is not the territory. The menu is not the meal. Thermodynamics is not just a good idea, it's the Law.

On the other hand, the Pink Unicorn Fleet (now secretly orbiting the Earth) could land on the White House lawn tomorrow morning, revealing the secret of Cold Fusion and the Cure for Cancer.

Maybe not, though.

Counting on technological breakthroughs that are nowhere near solution, nor even an idea of what the solution would look like, just because "technology has always worked before and damn, we're clever" is whistling past the graveyard. That's how KK's rap has always sounded to me.

And just the other day, Mr. Arch Druid said on a podcast ~"all people who depend on medicines to live are going to die". Such alarmist messages that are proven wrong make the peak oil message into a laughing stock.

I'm still working on that ceiling and hardly have time to chase down the quote, so...either:

1. You are joking. If that's the case, it's not that funny, unless you intend it as a parody of the kinds to stupid things peaker common taters say;

or 2. You are not joking, but he didn't really say what you thought he said.

or 3. He really said it. In that case, I'll just "shoot from the hip," as that seems to be the mode of peaker commentary:

The clown parade never stops, does it? So who vouchsafed him this vision of the future? Archangel Gabriel?

So all people, on all medications necessary for life, are going to die? How long do we get to wait until this goddamned outrageous statement is disconfirmed? You see, all you need now is ONE person not to get his or her medicine because of some oil disruption, and suddenly his prediction is true! What a wonder! Just ignore all those who are not dying from lack of medicine.

This is the cheapest sort of parlor trick.

This is what happens when you give a novelist a venue to speak in.

As we're in the habit of just sayin' what's on our minds about the future, how about this?

What if a die-off is confined to sub-saharan africa and southeast asia? What if two billion people die "elsewhere," thus releasing all those extra barrels of oil onto the market? What if, simultaneously, President Palin calls for all Americans to dutifully surrender some of their mobility and vacation time for the sick and hungry of their own blessed nation, in the Name of Jesus?

Voila. A happy, healthy, well-fed nation in the midst of the most ghastly suffering.

"To those that have, even more shall be given; and from those that have not, even what they have shall be taken away from them," or something like that.

Give me a radio show.

He did say it, though not with a time frame. Listen at about 17:58 and following in the mp3 that's been cited. (BTW his attitude about 'doom' seems to be all over the map.)

Fmagyar, please read MikdB's response.

He is a resolute doomer just like yourself. That is why I suggested that everyone read the entire article before passing judgment. But alas, I could not make you understand the article which obviously you did not. Try reading it again.

Better yet, read page 7,8 and 9 of this newsletter. The Cassandra of Toledo

Ron P.

Fmagyar, please read MikdB's response.

Thanks Ron, step back, Mike and all who pointed out that Mike was right.

I did read his response, I accept that he is sincere about his points and believes his arguments prove his case.
To be clear, I understood from the get go what he was saying and what he meant. I just disagreed with his conclusion.

At most I'm willing to concede that Yergin et al. have for the moment come out on top in the propaganda battle. I disagree that this means they have won the war, and that there is no longer any reason to raise awareness about peak oil and its consequences.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the 'Drill Baby Drill' crowd finally get their way and the drilling doesn't solve the problem.

Of course if the point is that BAU will collapse under its own weight, the economy will crash completely, demand will drop off the charts and the masses will just say "Oh, well that's life", then whether or not Yergin and Co. have won the propaganda war over peak oil will finally be moot.

FM et al - I'll jump into this debate with a little lighthearted tease. As much as I dislike sports analogies this is easy. IMHO the PO debate is no more over (let alone won by anyone) than a baseball game in the bottom of the 4th with the PO non-believers (NB's) leading 5 to 2 over the PO believers (B's). The NB got a good start thanks to some missteps (such as claiming a win before the first pitch) by the B's as well as some good assists to the NB's by the MSM, cowardly politicians and some of TPTB. But obviously the game is far from over. Neither set of fans is heading for their cars yet. The B's also know the NB's don't have much depth in the pitching staff. Not too many innings down than road the strength of the B pitchers will be hard to ignore although the NB's will hang on to what little hope they have. But when it's the bottom of the ninth and the B's are ahead 18 to 5 it will be difficult for the NB's to have much hope. Especially when some of their most fervent fans start putting on B shirts.

IMHO arguing about who has won the PO debate is the same as arguing who has won the game when it really has just started. As we say in Texas that's why we have horse races: to seperate the BS/bragging from the reality.

Rockman - I like your analogy and I agree. For the general populace the PO debate is only NOW about to begin. The crowd has just purchased their tickets and are moving toward their seats. Most of them have come to watch Team NB beat the snot out of Team B.

The problem as I see it is how do you sell the peak oil story in advance to the general public? How do you make it sound appealing? How can it possibly compete with the BAU story? Kunstler & Co. have tried to scare people into action but that doesn't work for most people. The Transition Town movement has tried to paint a rosier picture but I don't think it quite rings true for most people. It'll be an interesting game for sure.

sub - "...how do you sell the peak oil story in advance to the general public? How do you make it sound appealing?". Maybe taking the same approach the anti-smoking folks took: show pictures the equivalent of diseased lungs. OTOH I'm not sure such a horrible sight did much to stop many smokers. Unfortuantely we seem to only learn from first hand experience. And even then it doen't always work very well: the human mind has an amazing ability to misinterpret what it sees especially when the observer doesn't want to "see" what's right in front of them. And let's be brutally honest: the world is full of "magicians" who are more than ready and able to misdirect the audience's attention from the reality of the situation. Like that silly old saying: Denial is not just a river in Egypt. I have no doubt the public will spend many months, if not years, blaming everything other than their lack of understand of PO.

If we want to win the message war, step #1 would be relentlessly promoting the April 2010 US Military call for peak oil by 2012 with shortages by 2015. I feel like this was a massive opportunity to reach Middle America, and the fact that it only appeared in one newspaper that I could find--the Miami Herald--was a huge missed opportunity.

nate - And isn't that the problem? TOD et al can't promote anything to the masses. We can amongst ourselves and friends but have little real impact with J6P. Heck...a lot of J6P can't even spell "PO". And their vote counts the same as yours or mine. Only the political leadership and the MSM have that power to do so to any great degree IMHO. And even, if by some miracle, this happens it can't be taken for granted how well the message will be recieved by everyone. Sort of like a take off of that ole Texas expression: You'll only take my denial away when you pry it from my cold dead hand. There are a lot of other folks to blame and knee jerk reactions to inflict upon the rest of the world before the majority of the populace become true believers IMHO.

At most I'm willing to concede that Yergin et al. have for the moment come out on top in the propaganda battle. I disagree that this means they have won the war, and that there is no longer any reason to raise awareness about peak oil and its consequences.

FMagyar, my assumption is that, in order to "win the war," you have to get the word out BEFORE the crisis occurs. I'm assuming oil is peaking or has peak.

I admit that my assumption could be wrong.

In order to win the war, the public would need to be on board about twenty years before peak. Even then, I am not sure it matters whether the war is won or not. Peak oil is a predicament, not a problem. If one can learn to live with a much lower level of income, then I suppose one has "solved" the problem by adjusting to it. The sooner that people learn that the problem of oil production cannot be solved, the better off they will be.

The basic war that is being fought on several fronts is the war between reality and fantasy. Those who create their own reality to serve their own perceived interests are clearly winning. There will be millions, maybe billions of casualties along the way.

mikeB - For what little it's worth I agree with your assumptions that we're at the Gates of PO (or The Gates of Hell, if you prefer. LOL). I also understand the desire to get "the word out" before the crisis. Where we probably diverge is the expectation that many folks will heed those words before the crisis is here and very obvious. Even at that point we'll probably hear from the PO deniers even louder rejections of the propostion...at least for a while. I'm not so much a doomer with regards to what the PO world will look like. But I'm a definate doomer with respect to our society not taking PO seriously until the situation is all to severe.

I agree with The Cassandra of Toledo, "It's too late".

People, the vast majority of people anyway, are not convinced by arguments. They never have been and never will be. Events and only events change people's minds. There was never any hope of "Winning the War" by argument.

When oil production starts to drop and prices start to rise and rise until they knock the economy back into the ditch, then a few, but only a few people will understand. And the further production drops the more people will be convinced. Of course by then it will be way too late do do anything other than gather up your rags and try to find a safe place to live where you can grow a few veggies and perhaps have a pig or two. And hope that no one invades your little property and takes it all away.

Ron P.

Ron - "...vast majority of people anyway, are not convinced by arguments. They never have been and never will be." Sadly I couldn't agree more. I mentioned it elswhere: I'm not so much a doomer on how bad the PO world will be but just very pessimistic that society will do anything substantial about it at the right time (which has probably already passed). Even in your case, where I'm rather certain your models are correct, I have little trouble ignoring them.

Happy New Year!!! And yes...I was being my typical smart *ss self in case there was any doubt.

Yair...in another life I ran a landclearing/earthmoving outfit and I retain an interest in the big iron.

I visit and post occasionaly on some of the earthmover forums and in about five years of trying I have failed elicit any understanding of fuel availability issues by 2020...the object of the threads I started was to consider ways to move dirt in a liquid fuel constrained world...that is to say small electric excavators would save a lot of shoveling and even on on rail cuttings and such like I can see the return of the small (one yard) electric dragline.

The boys didn't want to know about it. There is always going to be diesel fuel available, sure it might get expensive but Caterpillar will build better engines that won't use as much.

I have pretty much given up but go back occasionaly to stir the pot.

I started was to consider ways to move dirt in a liquid fuel constrained world...that is to say small electric excavators would save a lot of shoveling and even on on rail cuttings and such like I can see the return of the small (one yard) electric dragline.

The boys didn't want to know about it. There is always going to be diesel fuel available, sure it might get expensive but Caterpillar will build better engines that won't use as much.

We can compare the Caterpillar earth movers to carnivorous Tyrannosaurs and the small (one yard) electric dragline to the furry little mammals that came to rule the environment after the demise of giant dinosaurs. Unfortunately we have to be hit with an asteroid or some other cataclysmic event that wipes out all the diesel powered Caterpillars before the electric draglines can come into their own. Chances are it's going to be a while...

My hunch is that because of their lack of vision, 'The Boys' will never know what hit them.

BTW do you have any more info on those electric draglines that you might be able to share?

The Cassandra of Toledo is an excellent short piece. In particular reference to:

You gave a talk titled “Limits to energy” in 1998 at the Gordon Research Conference on “Assessing Resource Limits.” What sort of persons attended this conference, and what was the response?

I wonder if it would be possible to reproduce that presentation here.

I've looked. Professor Hatfield is now in retirement.

Excellent article.

Has certainly given me pause for thought.

Written by Mike Bendzela ib "The End of The End: How the Peak Oil Movement Failed":
With the phenomenal success of the Internet and related technologies, we can now stay at home and do most everything we used to have to drive somewhere to do--shop, watch movies, work at our jobs, go to the bank, get a degree, etc. Imagine the possibilities.

That's exactly what peak oil advocates have lacked--imagination.

And we wonder why no one listened.

I am not sure if MikeB is presenting this as a tactic adopted by peak oil deniers that appeals to the masses, or if he thinks these are viable alternatives to reduce crude oil consumption.

Internet requires manufacturing, transportation and people to have jobs to pay for the expensive equipment.

Online shopping requires energy to manufacture the products and transportation fuel to deliver them. What is the fuel economy of a UPS van compared to an economy car, and does it use diesel or gasoline?

Online jobs can be outsourced to cheaper labor anywhere in the world causing job loss in developed countries.

The security of online banking is pathetic. How much energy is consumed trying to undo the damage caused by an identity thief?

When I was in school, I mostly walked or rode a bicycle to class. Live in a dorm and walk to class. I suspect online classes do not save much transportation fuel.

Peak oil advocates are not lacking in imagination. They are grounded in reality.

You're right, but I present that only as one of the great big "maybes" about the future.

We simply can't pretend to know how things will pan out.

More details on the Pakistan story:

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani gave a New Year gift of hike in prices of petroleum products to the nation on Friday with petrol becoming expensive by Rs6.71 and diesel Rs4.25 per litre.

An MQM statement said the decision to break with the coalition was taken because of government fuel price policies.

"Right at the start of the new year the government has raised the prices of petrol and kerosene oil, which is unbearable for the people who are already under pressure from the already high prices," said an MQM statement

Pakistan's government has relied on an $11 billion IMF loan agreed in 2008 to keep the economy afloat. It is under pressure to implement reforms and show greater fiscal discipline to secure the sixth tranche.

Look at the oil imports here, around 320 kb/d in 2009:

Thank you Matt and Leanan for all the links on Pakistan's crisis.

I do not look forward too it, but I think it gives us a pretty good primer on conditions all of us will experience at some point going forward.

Punjab governor Salman Taseer assassinated in Islamabad

The governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, has died after being shot in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

Mr Taseer, a senior member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was shot in a popular shopping district of the city by a member of his own security detail.

I saw that too!

I get so frustrated with the fraud here in the US (e.g. see Denninger's Rant on BAC fraud today)...

But my god, we haven't seen anything yet.

Watching the developing world unravel I can understand AG Eric Holder's concern about home-grown "terrorists" here in the USA.

It is one of the things that keeps me up at night," Holder said. "You didn't worry about this even two years ago -- about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And -- that is of -- of great concern."

"The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens -- raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born," he said.

(italics = my emphasis)

Reminds me of the story from a friend: he was riding in the back of a deuce & a half with a group of Nigerian regulars way out in the boonies. Mike said all he could wonder as they sat there and smiled at him was whether Devon was the high bidder that day for their services...or not.

Leanan, any chance you can include this is your trawl - invites some very interesting comments.




I try not to post stories that have already been posted in the comments. If you've already posted it, I don't have to.

Ok but it does not get the coverage down here in the comments...

REUTERS - Analysis - Oil nears $100, 2008-style surge not in cards

Nearly three years to the day after oil prices first pierced $100 a barrel, they are again threatening to break triple digits on a wave of fund-led optimism, but similarities between 2008 and 2011 end there.

... they are again threatening to break triple digits ...

Too late ... Tapis is already at $101.12, all grades now above $90 !


$96.83 for tanker size lots is the Brent price above. Here at $91.57, WTI creates a $5.26 spread. A spread this large will usually get tighter IMO.

And anyway NotSoCertain, it will get far more interest down here than it would up there.
The Article: Analysis - Oil nears $100, 2008-style surge not in cards

and far more idle oil wells that OPEC can reactivate when it chooses, braking the market's rally in a way it could not three years ago...

Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries currently hold 5 million to 6 million bpd of spare oil production capacity to draw on,...

"Given the spare capacity, I don't think you are going to have the same upward spiral that you had in 2008."

Well I don't expect an upward spiral in oil prices either, but that will be because of the sick economy, not because of OPEC spare capacity. And I will ask the question again, just how does anyone know how much spare capacity OPEC really has? All OPEC nations, especially Saudi Arabia, keeps all production and capacity a state secret.

So what happens if it is somehow found out that all that spare capacity is really not there? What happens? My guess would a 2008 style surge closely followed by an economic crisis that knocks the price right back down again.

Ron P.

It will be a good test of the 'recession caused by high oil prices' hypothesis as pushed by Rubin et al. Unfortunately it will be test on everyone and it would be nice to be proved wrong.

What are the magic oil fields which OPEC has moth-balled then (if any)?

I don't think anyone thinks the spare capacity is due to mothballed fields, they think they just closed some wells down. But OPEC is producing, on average, about two million barrels per day less than they did during the first nine months of 2008, just before prices collapsed. It was believed then that OPEC had only one to one and one half mb/d of spare capacity. If that were the case then they would have three to three point five mb/d of spare capacity. And Khurais came on line, that would put spare capacity at about four mb/d.

But it is doubtful, in my opinion anyway, that in 2008 that OPEC had any spare capacity at all. And though Khurais has come on line since, there has been considerable natural decline all over OPEC. I believe that OPEC, if they have any spare capacity at all, it is less than one and one half million barrels per day. But then again, that is just my opinion.

Ron P.

I expect that prices will rise in a more controlled manner in 2011 compared with 2008. Reason? 2008 was the first spike in many years, most buyers and traders had not experienced it before and had no basis for understanding when or why it would end. The past two years have yielded much better understanding of the oil markets and I think market participants will be much less likely to allow prices to be bid up as quickly. In other words, I think fundamentals will play a bigger role. Anyway, that's how I see it.

I think some of the 'spare capacity' is true but intentionally misleading . . . there is probably a fair amount of spare capacity to product some heavy sour oil. Of course, if no one can refine it, it might as well not exist.

Jet biofuel plant in Sydney

2% of aviation fuel? Looks like yet another attempt similar to the 100,000 coconuts used on a flight from Amsterdam to London


in February 2008 and promoted by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson The ratio was 20% of 1 jet out of 4, that is 5%

I am sure the 2nd Sydney airport task force established by Australia's Transport Minister will use this plan as a motivation to look even harder. The current plans are pies in the skies, assuming a doubling of air traffic.

Sydney doesn’t need a 2nd airport

The more appropriate use of such bio fuels would be in agriculture, with the objective to reduce oil-dependency of food production. That would be more important than holiday flights to Bali or Fiji.

2% of aviation fuel? Looks like yet another attempt similar to the 100,000 coconuts used on a flight from Amsterdam to London

in February 2008 and promoted by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson The ratio was 20% of 1 jet out of 4, that is 5%

Oh, I think that as difficult as it is to scale up bio fuel production, Braziilian Aircraft Manufacturer Embraer, GE together with renewable fuel company Amyris are well along to doing quite a bit better than that.



So, we come back to scale. Renewable jet fuel is likely to be used in blend ratios of no more than 50 percent in the near term, creating a potential market of 30 billion gallons. How much of that is likely to commit? At cost parity, based on approved fuels specs, and sustainably sourced? All of it.

We don’t have stable yield projections for yields per ton for renewable jet fuel made from Brazilian sugarcane, but given that ethanol yields are in the 560-800 gallons per acre range, we can make a general estimate of 350-500 gallons per acre, based on the BTUs.

To produce 30 billion gallons from sugarcane would require 60 million acres of new sugarcane production area in Brazil – it it were all produced there. NIPE/UNICAMP project that there are 200 million acres available for sugarcane in Brazil, with 25 million under cultivation today...

...Not to mention that – although there is a 54-cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol made from sugarcane – there is no tariff on renewable jetfuel made from Brazilian sugarcane.

Despite the scale-up challenges, renewable jet fuel is the most promising sector in biofuels today. And Brazil is well positioned to be a key player.

Behind a paywall, but viewable if you go in through Google News:

China's Hunt for Oil Intensifies

HONG KONG—China's quest for global energy resources is shifting into higher gear as the country's giant oil companies seal bigger, more complex deals to help fuel their country's economic boom.

Bankers see China's national oil producers increasingly buying companies, not just assets, and using their deep pockets to acquire technology to extract harder-to-reach resources. While they're likely to continue combing emerging markets for energy deals in 2011, they may be tempted to hunt for opportunity elsewhere—including in or near the U.S.

Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie says diesel, gasoline and gasoil demand in China is growing at about 8% annually. China's appetite for oil won't peak until 2025 according to UBS.

I get a sense that this is how the next decade will play out in oil: As the world becomes more aware of the effects of peak oil there will be a tremendous effort by governments everywhere to find new plays world-wide and production will spike for a short period then really crash badly. In the US this will probably be aided and abetted by the GOP winning control of the government and maybe "drill, baby, drill" will be instituted by president Palin (gag) with an urgency similar to the Manhattan Project. No areas will be exempt and much to x's dismay, oil subsidies will be increased.

Happy New Year, y'all.

I get a sense that this is how the next decade will play out in oil: As the world becomes more aware of the effects of peak oil there will be a tremendous effort by governments everywhere to find new plays world-wide and production will spike for a short period then really crash badly. In the US this will probably be aided and abetted by the GOP winning control of the government and maybe "drill, baby, drill" will be instituted by president Palin (gag) with an urgency similar to the Manhattan Project. No areas will be exempt and much to x's dismay, oil subsidies will be increased.

And this is exactly why the Dems are stupid for not just getting the best deal they can now (for the oil and the use of the money from that oil) and opening up ANWR and elsewhere. There is a time when you have to realize that you will ultimately lose an argument, so just strike the best deal you can get. The cranky whiny American public wants their cheap oil and they'll elect anyone that promises them cheap oil. It does not matter if those promises can or will be kept. People want to believe so they will believe.

spec - I agree with you but not because the Dems will lose the arguement. IMHO when PO starts to really hurt the Dems and Reps will be stepping all over each other to see who can out drill the other. Not that long ago President Obama proposed opening up more federal lands to drilling than President Bush ever hoped to. But then the BP blowout killed that preemptive move on the Dem's part. Heck...if things go south fast enough in CA I can envision Gov Brown demanding the feds open up their offshore to drilling. Well...maybe not. LOL. But he might not fight too hard against such a movement.


Note that most Republicans and most Democrats simply cannot face the reality of Peak Oil. For Republicans the mantra is that the free market will make Peak Oil into a nonevent. For Democrats, there must be economic growth to enable the financing of social programs. Indeed, the two parties are equally devoted to economic growth and BAU; there is an equal Republican and Democratic devotion to the optimistic forecasts of CERA, IEA, EIA, and USGS.

As declining global net exports of oil drive the U.S. into negative economic growth (first stagnation, then recession, finally a Greater Depression) there will be extreme efforts to maintain BAU by both parties. The Republicans will force the scrapping of environmental regulations, and the Democrats will get more fiscal stimulus for public works programs. I suspect that both Republicans and Democrats will support a rapid ramping up of Coal to Liquids as U.S. oil imports fall significantly.

So true Don. Even more frustarting is knowing that at least some of the R&D politicians probably get PO but won't take a chance on damaging their re-elections by telling folks the truth.

Rock, it sounds like a bi-polar government in more ways than one...

What a clusterhump... (time to take inventory of the root cellar... here's to hopin' to have a gooder day today ;)

Dave Barry's 2010 Year in Review"


...Also, in a concession to the Iowa congressional delegation, the federal government will continue to fund a “green energy” program under which corn is converted into ethanol, which is then converted back into corn, which is then planted to grow more corn. This will cost $5 billion a year, but it is expected to create or save literally dozens of Iowa jobs.

The month ends on a troubling note as the United Nations Security Council votes unanimously to send a peacekeeping force to quell Mel Gibson.

Speaking of troubling, in...


...concern over the direction of the U.S. economy deepens when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in what some economists see as a sign of pessimism, applies for Canadian citizenship...

The age of cheap oil is over (in Hungarian)

According to hirszerzo.hu Hungarian news portal, the Deutsche Welle writes about $200 oil price can be expected this year - referring to international experts.

Although optimist say oil won't go above $150, pessimist expert say even $200 price for oil can be expected. But all of them agree that the age of cheap oil is over.

English version: Oil hits two-year high with no peak in sight

As oil prices climbed to a two-year high at the end of 2010, experts are saying that the upward spiral has yet to peak and that crude may hit 200 dollars a barrel this year.


At the optimistic (for consumers) and conservative end of the scale, some experts are predicting that crude will surpass $100 a barrel in 2011. But they do not expect a surge in levels to the $145 seen in 2008, when oil first breached the triple digit barrier.

At the opposite end of the scale, others are predicting a surge to levels never seen before – possibly as high as $200 a barrel.

Cheap oil gone for good


Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency in Paris (...) has expressed concern that the signals coming from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in particular did not bode well for the price of oil.

"If they (OPEC) wanted to, they could increase production, but the latest comments suggest that they are not prepared to expand production – and that means higher oil prices in 2011," Birol said.


Birol said that other oil sources were urgently needed, such as oil sands or biofuels, but that is very difficult and predicted that "the age of cheap oil was gone for good."

Wheat Rises to Five-Month High as Australia Flood, U.S. Cold Threaten Crop

Wheat futures rose to the highest in almost five months as floods may hamper grain shipments in Australia and cold temperatures threatened U.S. crops. ...In the southern U.S. Great Plains, “intense cold” forecast in the next 11 to 15 days “poses a 50 percent risk of damage” for winter crops, according to Commodity Weather Group. Parts of Kansas and Oklahoma had less than half of normal rainfall in the past 30 days, according to the National Weather Service.

and Fresh food shortage tipped

Here is the historical context of the flood (from Master's blog):

" According to the National Climatic Data Center, springtime in Australia (September - November) had precipitation 125% of normal--the wettest spring in the country since records began 111 years ago. Some sections of coastal Queensland received over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain from September through November. Rainfall in Australia in December may also set a record for rainiest December. The heavy rains are due, in part, to the moderate to strong La Niña event that has been in place since July. The relatively warm waters that accumulate off the northeast coast of Australia during a La Niña typically cause heavy rains over Queensland.

Take action now to avoid food shortage - NFU

With the UK’s population set to grow to more than 70 million by 2030, consumers are likely to become more reliant than ever on imported food.

We currently import more than 40 per cent of our food - up from around 25 per cent twenty years ago - and by 2030 one in every two meals could be imported unless domestic production increases.

FT Cold and floods send fuel prices to new highs

Last updated: January 3 2011 15:53

Crude oil and thermal coal prices set fresh 27-month highs on the first session of the new year and added to inflationary concerns in developing economies.

The surge came amid a forecast of cold weather in the US, the world’s biggest oil consumer, robust growth in the manufacturing sector in Asia and Europe and heavy flooding in Australia, the world’s second largest thermal coal exporter.

The mix propelled Brent crude, the global benchmark, above $95 a barrel for the first time since October 2008.

Lawrence Eagles, head of oil research at JPMorgan in New York said in a note to clients: “$100 a barrel oil looms.

China says it can reprocess spent nuclear fuel

Chinese scientists say they have developed nuclear fuel reprocessing technology that could effectively end uranium supply concerns, state media said Monday, as Beijing strives for energy security.

"China's proven uranium sources will last only 50 to 70 years, but this now changes to 3,000 years," said the report, which provided scant details on what it described as a "breakthrough."

It aims to increase nuclear power capacity to 70-80 gigawatts by 2020, accounting for about five percent of the country's total installed power capacity, state press reports have said. The government said previously the target was 40 gigawatts.

China, which currently has 13 nuclear reactors in operation, produces around 750 tonnes of uranium a year but annual demand could rise to 20,000 tonnes a year by 2020, the China Daily newspaper has said.

3,000 years -- something tells me this is a bit much

Sounds like perpetual motion to me. I am sure the stated estimate of recoverable Uranium is inflated 5x in any case.

Also this is just standard reprocessing and nothing new.

China bought Russian BN800s which are somewhere between converters and breeders. If you can convert U238 to Pu239 then you increase the yield of uranium. Natural uranium is only 0.7% fissile (U235).

China claims new nuclear technology

The technology, developed and tested at the number 404 factory of the China National Nuclear Corporation, situated in the Gobi desert, enables recycling of irradiated fuel, according to China Central Television. How this differs from existing reprocessing methods in other countries is unclear, but the state broadcaster said that with this technique a kilo of uranium could produce close to 60 times more power than was now possible in China.

If proven this method would extend the "usage life" of the 171,400 tonnes of the country's known uranium deposits, which previously were forecast to last less than 70 years.

Reprocessing can also provide fissile material for weapons, though details have not yet been disclosed about the potential impact on China's nuclear arsenal.

It appears to be simply reprocessing spent fuel rods in order to reclaim fissile isotopes. This allows a higher burnup of uranium, compared with once-through use of fuel. It would also be needed in breeder reactor fuel production programs. It does not necessarily increase availability of bomb-grade plutonium, because the mix of isotopes of plutonium is not appropriate in fuel rods recovered from power reactors.

Interesting that they have a number 404 factory. I thought that the digit 4 was bad luck.

Is it OK for me to remind everyone how many people here dismissed this as inconsequential a couple years ago?

ND Oil Patch May Double Production

Government and industry officials believe North Dakota's oil patch contains more than twice the amount of oil previously estimated and that the state's already record crude production will double within the decade.

If the forecast is correct, North Dakota could leapfrog in a few years from the fourth-biggest oil producing state to No. 2, trailing only Texas.

"It's a pretty rosy picture," said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. "We have a huge amount of drilling still in front of us."


"We are now looking at the possibility of 700,000 barrels a day and we see that coming in the next four to seven years," Helms said.


Federal and state estimates had pegged North Dakota's portion of the Bakken shale and underlying Three Forks-Sanish oil formations in western North Dakota at about 5 billion barrels of oil, using current horizontal drilling technology.

Helms said that estimate has more than doubled based on drilling success and current production rates.

"We're starting to see indications that we could reasonably get 11 billion barrels," Helms said.

It's always nice to have visitors from Fantasy Island, where oil fields don't deplete.

In any case, back here in the real world, Hubbert in 1956 basically made two "If, Then" statements about Lower 48 production. If URR are 150, we peak in 1966, if URR are 200 Gb, we peak in 1971. In other words, 50 Gb in recoverable reserves postponed the projected peak by five years.

I'm not arguing that oil companies can't make money in post peak regions, obviously they can, and I'm not arguing that domestic production is not important, obviously it is. The key question is whether oil companies are making incremental or material contributions to global production. A case in point is the North Sea, where they added new oil fields with a peak rate of about one mbpd, after the region peaked in 1999, but these new fields just served to slow the 1999 to 2009 rate of decline to about 5%/year

Is it necessary for us to remind you why it is still dismissed as inconsequential?

How long would 11 billion barrels supply the USA?

At what rate will the 11 billion barrels be extracted?

Do you still think it is of any real consequence - other than for the state itself ?

(Edit - that last question assumes the DOD does not confiscate the oil fields for Home Land Security/military use - remember, our US Attorney General says Americans are now the terrorists of the future))

Is it necessary for us to remind you why it is still dismissed as inconsequential?

Is/was Cantarell inconsequential? Is/was Prudhoe Bay inconsequential?

How long would 11 billion barrels supply the USA?

Approximately the same amount of time that Prudhoe Bay and Cantarell could supply the USA.

At what rate will the 11 billion barrels be extracted?

It said in the article. You might want to read it.

Do you still think is is of any real consequence - other than for the state itself?

I repeat: Is/was Cantarell consequential? Is/was Prudhoe Bay consequential?

Well according to Elwood's post below, it appears that ND will peak at around 345 to 350 thousand barrels per day. Prudhoe Bay, with 13 billion barrels peaked at over 2 million barrels per day, and so did Cantarell. Yes, in the grand scheme of things I would say 350 thousand barrels per day at peak is inconsequential.

Ron P.

Except that Elwood seems to have great disagreement with the director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources.

The CEO of Continental Resources goes even further and says their own estimates put the recoverable amount of oil in the Bakken and Three Forks at 24 billion barrels. If he's right, this is bigger than Cantarell and Prudhoe Bay, and Helm's estimate of 700K bpd might be conservative.

helms is a knowledgable, experienced guy. hamm and about every public traded company is promoting the idea that the three forks is a separate reservoir and will essentially double ultimate recoveries.

hamm keeps saying that the three forks and bakken are separate reservoirs and twin wells keep getting filled up with frac sand when one or the other is frac'ed. the promoters of 'the separate reservoirs theory' seem to have a blind spot and a large percentage of analysts and speculators eat it up.

my analysis is based on what i see and what i see is across the board public traded companies' eur's are, as a rule of thumb, about 2x what performance history supports.

of the 'big four' bakken fields(bailey,murphy creek, parshall and sanish), three have probably already reached their peak. the known sweet spots are already mostly developed (except sanish). most of the area outside the 'big four' has widely spaced wells(to hold acerage) and quite possibly when the operators come back to fill in hbp acerage, they will find substantially depleted pressures - as was the case with the '90's round of hz drilling in the bakken. i was around to watch and that was a train wreck.

north dakota is about the only state that allows gas flaring on an extended basis - they seem to be more interested in promoting development than conserving resources.

here is the ndic's august '10 forecast, a plateau of 350 kbpd:


helms apparently speculated that this might double, but the current ndic forecast is 350 kbpd (p50).

Funny thing is you are mentioning here as examples massive conventional crude fields. Do you not see the irony of that? ND has a lot of oil-stained rocks. it is all about flows and these flows are but a faint trickle. Can ND replace declines in Alaska, Texas, GOM?

Furthermore, like they just discovered North Dakota oil which was explored in the 1950s. What have they been waiting for, since it is so massive and easy to obtain?

Furthermore, like they just discovered North Dakota oil which was explored in the 1950s. What have they been waiting for, since it is so massive and easy to obtain?

You seem to be about 3-4 years behind the times: Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling into dense shale rocks. There's plenty of information on it on this site.

Ah, yeah so that oil is easy as pie then once we get the technology in place. I get it now. Technology will make oil appear from thin air in N.D. so that it may not only replace all of the declines elsewhere but create an unimagined surplus bounty as advertised in the press release rubbish.

It is a mere blip in a sea of decline IMHO. Good for some ND jobs but nothing substantial -- certainly not like the giants you falsely compare it too.


september production 341,385 bopd 5204 wells
october       "      342,247 bopd 5300 wells (preliminary)
change                   862 bopd   96 wells

that might suggest that nd's oil production increase is stalling out.

there are currently 158 rigs running in nd. on the other hand, well completions falls off during the winter months so there are probably many wells waiting on completion. i wouldnt be surprised if nd oil production sees a peak in 2011.

damn i hate it when i find myself agreeing with westex !

and a related documentary on parshall, nd - boomtown.


Is it OK for me to remind everyone how many people here dismissed this as inconsequential a couple years ago?

ND Oil Patch May Double Production

I believe I said that the increase in production was great news for North Dakota, but less so for the US as a whole. You have to consider why North Dakota is on its way to being the second most productive state after Texas. It's not that ND production has increased so much, it's that production from the other states has fallen so much.

Wait . . . you expect us to be all excited about an additional 350K barrels/day that may appear over the next 4 to 7 years?

We use close to 20 million barrels of oil a day. It is not like 350K is a big deal. Just a little less for us to import (which is good). We'll be lucky if that added 350K per day does anything more than just offset declines elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong. This is very good. And it is GREAT for ND and those people involved. But for the nation-wide oil situation in general? Inconsequential is may be an overstatement but it isn't far from the truth.

At SPI2010 (Solar Trade show), One of the revelations was that over 75% of the PV in the world has been leverage with a FIT,

Good to see FIT's in an campaign, But Jerry Brown and energy deregulation doesn't exactly bring on the warm and fuzzy's.

The current maze of US Grid regulations is NOT helpful for Distributed Generation.

"January 3, 2011

By Paul Gipe

In an undated posting on Governor Jerry Brown's campaign web site, the then candidate called for building 12,000 MW of distributed generation out of 20,000 MW of new renewable generation.

Governor Brown specifically calls on the legislature to introduce feed-in tariffs to accomplish this task.

Brown's position on distributed generation and feed-in tariffs is the most ambitious--and the most specific--of any sitting US Governor."


How about a GOP candidate for this? After all, Government Of the People should be for Power for the People? no?

Can someone say CODE-A-PHONE ?

Being a doomer-lite (tm) newbie. I find kunstler to be the one doomer guy that brightens my doom-filled morning with his amazingly funny rants.


This is a Gem: " I've heard people say that North Korea is China's stalking horse in some kind of world domination scenario out of the James Bond script locker. That doesn't really add up to me. North Korea is like a nineteen-year-old autistic nephew jacked up on vodka, LSD, and crystal meth, with seventeen pounds of Semtex taped to his chest and grenade in each paw. "

Link up top: 2010 Oil Production Was Very Disappointing, And The EIA Is Playing Number Games

In order to rebut this Secrecy by Complexity it’s the obligation of responsible energy analysts to explain the falsehood of adding biofuels and natural gas liquids to measures of oil production. The reason is simple: natural gas liquids are not oil, and they contain only 65% of the BTU of oil. Worse, biofuels are barely an energy source themselves and are the product of a conversion process of other energy inputs. Accordingly, the world is not producing 84, or 85, or 86 million barrels of oil per day. Nor will the depletion of oil be solved by the production of biofuels in the future.

Yet the world seems to be sold on the idea that daily oil production is about 86 million barrels and climbing. No it is not. World daily oil production is about 73.4 mb/d and flat. Bottled gas is not oil. Biofuels are not oil. But the EIA and IEA adds these things to the oil supply and gives the appearance that the supply is about 12.6 million barrels per day greater than it actually is and climbing a little every year.

Ron P.

This part reminds me of WestTexas' Iron Triangle:

Rosen describes the use of opacity as a kind of hiding in plain sight, or secrecy by complexity.

One of the methods EIA Washington and IEA Paris have increasingly relied on in recent years to obscure the very serious and now very real problem of oil depletion is to include biofuels and natural gas liquids in the accounting of global oil production.

The technique that both agencies use to conduct this obfuscation is a familiar one, in which the key information is aggregated (buried) into a much larger barrage of data and presentations. For a scholarly look at the methods governments use to work around their obligations to inform the public, do watch the one hour lecture that Jay Rosen gave to the World Bank earlier this year...

Some people who have abandoned their homes because of foreclosure leave trash and expressions of anger behind

Foreclosure in Lane County — as everywhere — has become a mess, and that’s a literal mess and not a euphemism for sloppy or illegal paperwork.

A foreclosed Hawkins Heights property owner, for example, cut a hole in his kitchen wall so he could take his jacuzzi bathtub with him as he left.

Other homeowners have smashed in the walls with golf clubs or covered the walls with obscenities.

Many foreclosed homeowners stop paying garbage bills before they’re forced out, and so they leave dump truck loads of trash and abandoned possessions in their wake.

And pets, too, sometimes.

“I’ve learned to tie garbage bags around my feet,” said Brian Schartz, a Lane County real estate agent who reports on the condition of houses to the out-of-town banks that have repossessed them. He works for John L. Scott Real Estate in Eugene.

Gives a whole new meaning to the expression "smash and grab".

See: http://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/news/cityregion/25719055-...


These angry people will begin to act out on other insured properties as well. How much carnage can be insured against? In any case, these are no longer real assets. They are declining properties. The die is cast.

Just read on Zero hedge that Govt allows 13 companies to drill in GOM without any environmental clearances and oil prices and silver fell.Wall street analyst say that drilling for oil has direct correlation with silver.WTF?Are these guys crazy?Wall street is nothing but Ponzi.

U.S. waives new enviro reviews for certain drillers

(Reuters) - The U.S. Interior Department on Monday said it will allow 13 oil companies to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico without an additional environmental review.

ZH is being a bit sarcastic. The events are unrelated, and gold/silver trading is usually not active in mid-afternoon.

Pete, we hardly knew ye!


He was awarded an OBE for acting in 2004, but when he starred last year in the low-budget climate change film The Age of Stupid, arriving at the London premiere on a bicycle, he warned the then energy secretary, Ed Miliband, that he would hand it back if the government gave the go-ahead for a new coal-fired power station.

John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, credited Postlethwaite's rousing speech in the film Brassed Off, about the destruction of the mining industry, for inspiring his government's determination to regenerate former mining communities.

Pete Postlethwaite and The Age of Stupid

In the weeks leading up to the premiere, we'd meet in his "office" (a Covent Garden pub) at lunchtime to plot. The killer idea came after Ed Miliband (then minister for climate change) invited himself to the opening. At that time, the biggest climate battle was over the government's plans for a new coal power station at Kingsnorth. I suggested Pete ambush Miliband during the premiere and threaten to never vote Labour again if it went ahead. Pete immediately trumped me by suggesting he give back his OBE instead. Genius. Pete stayed up 'til 3am writing his speech which, when he "performed" it, with all its talk about coal and people power, gave me the weird feeling that I was in the final scene of Brassed Off. The look on Miliband's face was priceless. A month later he announced no new coal-fired power station would get government consent unless it could capture and bury 25% of the emissions it produces immediately – and 100% by 2025.

After this triumph, Stupid took over Pete's life: he told an interviewer the film was the most important he'd appeared in.

Heating oil use sees four-year decline

The percentage of Mainers burning oil to heat their homes has fallen to levels not seen since 1980, new Census Bureau figures show.

Oil saw a statistically-significant decline between 2006 and 2009, according to the census figures, with the steepest drop coming after prices briefly hit record highs in 2008.

The percent of residents who reported that oil was their primary heat source fell to 71.4 percent in 2009, down from 80 percent in 2000.

The drop is small, but noteworthy. Maine is the most oil-dependent state in the nation for home heating. In recent years, the state and federal governments have been promoting policies that encourage conservation and fuel switching.

See: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/heating-oil-use-sees-four-year-declin...

In related news:

USM converts to gas for heating needs

PORTLAND — Maine's second largest university is giving up oil and going to natural gas for its heating needs.

The University of Southern Maine said today it will save $315,000 this year on heating costs by converting the central heating plant on its Portland campus to natural gas. USM says it was burning an average of 280,000 gallons of oil per year.

The school, which has nearly 10,000 students, previously converted its Gorham campus from oil to natural gas.

Let's hope the trend continues.


Between the high cost of oil, the low cost of natural gas, and the great incentive programs offered by the government to increase energy efficiency, those people that did not switch from oil-heat to natural gas were crazy or ignorant. Good move, Maine people!

29% Of Americans Say It's Difficult To Afford Food

* Affording basic necessities remains/a struggle/.
* 51% say it is difficult to afford/health care/.
* 48% say the same about their/home heating and electric bills/.
* 29% say it is difficult to afford/food/.

Don in Maine

I pull from memory the average percentage of income paid by various countries for food:

America 9%
Canada 10%
Australia 11%
France 20%
Those irrelevant 3rd world places 50%

The stats may be in error but I'm not feeling too sorry for the McDonald's visitors yet.

but americans have very inflexible debts/payments for basics and extremely expensive health care, mandatory insurance, very expensive child care for under-5's, expensive housing, and drive a hell of a lot more than pretty much everyone, making up for much of the lower cost of fuel.

oh, and we get far less vacation, so whatever we *do* get irritable about, we get *more* irritated than the rest of you, so all things being equal... oh, and if we lose our job, the dole does not fill in and disappears eventually.

think widely.

29% Of Americans Say It's Difficult To Afford Food

* Affording basic necessities remains/a struggle/.
* 51% say it is difficult to afford/health care/.
* 48% say the same about their/home heating and electric bills/.
* 29% say it is difficult to afford/food/.

You haven't seen anything yet. Besides the ravages of peak oil, the repubs want to increase the retirement age to 69 and eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, to provide enough funds to offer the super wealthy a reduction in fed taxes down to 28%. That was part of their debt reduction plan. Just keep sacrificing at all levels and voting in those guys. If you get cancer, just off yourself to save money for greater benefits the repubs can move to their real base, the super wealthy. While regular folk think their part of a political party, they're really being used as slaves. Now just how dumb can people be - pretty darn dumb! But hey, you get to wave a flag and call yourself a patriot - that's something, right? Oh, and remember to jerk out a tear while you wave that tiny flag - that's really appreciated as it generates sardonic laughter while riding in a limosine on the way to a 10,000 dollar a plate dinner.

The Commuter Congress

As the 112th Congress opens, the family lives of the nation's lawmakers are in disarray. Newsweek recently reached 46 of the 107 freshman members of Congress, and only one—Mike Lee, the newly elected Republican senator from Utah—said he or she was planning to move to Washington with spouse and children in tow. Incoming Rep. Bobby Schilling will leave his wife, Christie, and their 10 children, including an infant, in Colona, Illinois. Chris Gibson plans to sleep on a blow-up mattress in his Washington office—and then hightail it back on weekends to Kinderhook, New York, where his young family resides. South Dakota's high-profile freshman Kristi Noem has rented a two-room basement apartment at the corner of Ninth and North Carolina, but her goal is to be there as little as possible. "My whole life and dream has been to live in South Dakota and ranch and farm," she says in a phone call from a Washington airport. "If we would have had to move here, I simply wouldn't have run."

They appear not to have gotten the Peak Oil message about the end of the profligate use of energy.

Couldn't they just stay in their districts and vote by iPhone? Legislation -- there's an app for that.

Perhaps they are not secure about retaining their jobs for very long.

THE INFLUENCE GAME: Safety, trade interests clash

An Obama administration proposal aimed at preventing air shipments of lithium batteries from causing fires in flight is drawing fierce opposition from some of the United States' top trading partners, who say it would disrupt international shipping and drive up the cost of countless products.

The fight over the regulations is an example of how lobbying often works — out of sight and taking advantage of relationships, institutional knowledge and politics to promote well-heeled financial interests. And it's become a test of the administration's resolve to place safety first.

Lithium batteries can short-circuit and catch fire. Government testing has shown lithium battery fires burn extremely hot and are exceptionally difficult to put out.

A United Parcel Service plane loaded with electronics crashed in Dubai in September. The two pilots, who were killed, reported a cargo compartment fire and smoke so thick they couldn't see their cockpit instruments. Investigators suspect lithium batteries either started the fire or worsened it.

And what do all those EV cars use for power?

Reading between the lines. These rules are designed to favor domestic production of Li+ batts for autos. No need to transport car batts by plane then.

Those ipads are doomed to get more expensive however.

Are there any reports of EVs involved in crashes and catching fire? It would be interesting to know how they react.


In September we purchased a used VW Golf diesel. The seller is a fireman. The station where he works is right by I-75, when there is a crash on the highway his unit responds. He told us something interesting when we discussed the efficiency of little diesels versus hybrids and EVs. He says that in case of an accident, the emergency responders might have problems. If the vehicle is a hybrid or EV, they are not allowed to do any cutting on the vehicle until they can establish the location of the main power conduits. So if its a common car, like I suppose the Prius, then maybe they know where to cut and they can start immediately, but if its something they never saw before they have to wait for instructions/permission.

Oh, Brother, something more to layer onto anti-EV car pile on. LOL.

(insert a shrug and a I dont care and some sarcasm)

Yes, EVs are stupid and unsafe and people will die cause they use EVs. ICEs never kill people and SUVs are the safest car on the road -- the bigger the ICE --the better. Maybe add a jet engine on the back to burn Jet-A or maybe rocket fuel and that would be safer. LOL

Where is the whole thing about the safety of a solar array that might cause a house roof to collapse or something of the sort? They already have anti-zoning laws on the books against small wind. Meanwhile in San Bruno a Natural gas line ruptured and burned 4 people alive inside their homes -- burned ~40 other houses to the ground -- looked like a nuclear blast.

I wonder how that so-called "safe" natural gas line is zoned. Sure is safer than wind power. LMAO. It is all manipulation of the legal system and this safety shenanigans -- blah blah blah -- insert your concerns here against anything that is non-fossil fueled.

I feel like chicken little -- the sky is falling...the sky is falling. Better you die from a fossil fuel disaster.

You need to be a lemming consumer and act exactly like everyone else and use that traditional ICE SUV. (end sarcasm)

And no I don't care if I am trapped in a hybrid and die because a public safety worker is to stupid to be able to cut me out of my car. LOL

Meanwhile, regular cars do also carry a decent tinderbox with them that ends up roasting a fair number of people every year. I was riding with some State Troopers and watched an SUV get consumed once.. you can feel that heat from WAYYY back down the road.


· According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one out of five reported fires is a car fire. In fact, 18 percent of all fires takes place on a highway or other road and involves a motor vehicle.

· Also according to the NFPA, 33 car fires are reported every hour across the country, with one person per day dying in a car fire accident in the years between 2002 and 2005.

· According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 258,000 vehicle fires in 2007 and 385 deaths. There were 1,675 injuries.

..and WIKI says this..

Electric and hybrid cars have large batteries, usually NiMH, lead-acid, or Li-ion. Besides the obvious hazard of electric shock, these batteries can create other hazards. Li-ion batteries can explode rapidly and in chain reaction. Lead-acid batteries can release hydrogen or melt and leak sulfuric acid. Ni-MH batteries can burn and leak chemicals as well, but their hazards are usually less severe. Most large batteries for electric cars or hybrids have built-in safety features to prevent the battery from starting a fire such as smoke detectors, temperature sensors, and overcharge protection.

Makes you want to design an EV that lets you simply drop the pack off on the road shoulder and roll away from it...

Pa. allows dumping of tainted waters from gas boom

The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, that most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.

Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.

There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.

Gasoline markets were generally quiet today, after some sizable gains last week on various pipelines problems and occasional refinery problems.

The tail end of the Colonial Pipeline in New Jersey (my home state) going into NY harbor is running at maximum capacity, as retail suppliers attempt to rebuild depleted Northeast US gasoline and diesel supplies:

1/3/11 Reuters News 19:22:34

In supply news, Colonial Pipeline said on Monday it froze nominations for multiple cycles on Line L2, which carries distillates and gasoline from Linden's main terminal to Bayonne, New Jersey, since demand neared capacity.

Today the Colonial Pipeline said (although this may sound like I'm repeating myself) the main length of its long interstate pipeline is now booked up (at maximum capacity) for the entire month of January for gasoline shipments. I personally don't remember something like this occurring in the off season when no apparent supply or weather interruptions were in progress.

Despite the many daily comments in the major media that oil and gasoline supplies are at 'comfortable' and 'higher than average' levels, gasoline retailers in the Northeast US do not appear to be quite so certain about the adequacy of future supplies.

Have we reached peak travel?

Since the 1970s, passenger travel by vehicles and airplanes has grown rapidly in industrialized countries, and the International Energy Agency has predicted steady, though slower, travel growth until 2030 and beyond. However, a new study of eight industrialized countries has shown that passenger travel seems to have peaked in the early 2000s, just before the recent rise in fuel prices. The results suggest that demand for travel has reached a saturation point, which could mean that future projections of carbon dioxide emissions and fuel demand could be lower than previously thought.

If your still waiting for the seed catalogs here's a little diversion

The Ten Best Post-Apocalyptic Survival Vehicles

I agree, the Landmaster was a classic, but I,m still partial to the camel powered truck and the methane powered truck/train from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

Inefficient 100W light bulbs banned in California
New regulations have come into force in California requiring light bulb manufacturers to produce more energy-efficient products.

The new standard actually comes as part of the federal Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law by President George W Bush in 2007.

The rest of the country will adopt the standard on January 1, 2012, but California has been given the authority to begin a year early.

Designed to reduce energy use and associated pollution, while improving US energy security, the new standard requires that 100-watt bulbs made on or after January 1, 2011, must use 28% less energy, while providing the same amount of light. Effectively, this means 100W bulbs being replaced by 72W bulbs that are just as bright.

See: http://www.brighterenergy.org/21541/news/heat-efficiency/inefficient-100...

A 70-watt Philips Halogená Energy Saver high efficiency incandescent produces the same amount of light as a conventional 100-watt incandescent and lasts up to four times longer.

See: http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/halogena_energy_saver/hou...

British Columbia has likewise advanced the timetable by one full year.

See: http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_north/northislandmidweek/new...


Old-style incandescent bulbs are disappearing rapidly from the supply chain in Europe under current regulations.

100w and 75w bulbs have already been withdrawn from mainstream sales outlets and 60w and lower will go by late 2012. This is a Europe-wide directive.


The main replacement in the UK for incandescent bulbs are compact fluorescents, usually producing roughly the same light for 20% of the power input (ie 100W replaced by 20W). After an initial period of higher prices for CFLs they now sell very cheaply

i always wondered why the CFL I had were always dimmer than the rated value when compared to incandesants

the BBC More or Less program explained it - the method used is a kludge by Government and Manufacturers

the closest rate apparently is 3 x the rated value to compare with incandesant, ie 3 x 20w CFL = 60 watts incandesant

I hope this helps



Think this is the link, seems saving is somewhere between 60% & 80% depending on who you rate most.

Still makes a mockery of the 28% reduction target (100W bulbs to be replaced by 72W bulbs)

David MacKay's approach (every big helps) obviously not being adopted.

I've used compact fluorescent lamps in my home for over twenty-five years (and self-ballasted Circlines prior to that), and whilst some are very good performers none can match the quality of light provided by a halogen. I'm pretty ruthless when it comes to saving energy, but ended up swapping out the 13-watt CFL in my desk lamp for a 40-watt Halogená ES (60-watt equivalent) for this reason; it adds an extra 3 to 5 kWh to my monthly bill, but I'm a lot happier with the results and coping well with the guilt.

Philip's 20 and 30-watt MASTERClassic lamps kick things up another notch (see: http://download.p4c.philips.com/l4bt/3/322912/322912_ffs_aen.pdf). Unfortunately, they're not available in North America at this time.


But.. don't forget that there are now SO many people who have changed some or all lights over to CFL's, that they have frequently got a closet or garage shelf somewhere that is becoming packed with their old Incandescents, including the unused spares they will no longer need. If someone really wants to get their hands on some, they are only a door or two away. Ask for them on Freecycle, Craig's List or just talk to your neighbors.. you might get buried in the responses!

I still have a box of 500watt Photofloods I used to use for Video/Film work.. haven't managed to dump them yet. They make good space heaters anyhow!

IKEA stops selling incandescent light bulbs in U.S.

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Home decor and furniture company IKEA is no longer stocking or selling incandescent light bulbs in its U.S. stores, instead offering longer-lasting and energy-efficient bulbs.

The retailer began phasing out the sale of the light bulbs in August. IKEA's action comes ahead of federal legislation that would mandate more efficient light bulbs starting in 2012.

I can vouch for the performance of Phillips' 80 lumen 2.5watt LED light bulbs.

So far I have purchased two of them.

The 1st one is on my night stand, to use while watching TV in bed :)
The 2nd one I installed yesterday as my house's back door porch light, now that the preexisting CFL that was there has burned out.

The price is still steep to me, at about US$15/each, but I am hoping they will last as long as advertised, and be 'immune' to the on/off cycles that tend to result in short CFL life.

Once the price of the LED light bulbs to replace a 15watt 950 lumen CFL can also drop to about US$15 or US$20: then I can slowly start to phase out the CFLs I use for the other rooms in my house where bright light is needed.

Glad to hear it. LEDs will eventually gain traction within the residential sector, but I expect it will be some time before they achieve significant market share.

General room illumination where 60 and 100-watt incandescents now dominate will be a challenge (the equivalent 40 and 70-watt Halogená ES lamps provide 800 and 1,600 lumens respectively). Enclosed fixtures will be especially problematic as you start to scale things up. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.


From up top: "A controversial new technique for drilling gas wells...is to be tried for the first time in Britain later this month." A little heads up to our Brit cousins similar to that I passed on to my Yankee cousins: don't get distracted from the real potential damage by the hype over fracturing shale gas reservoirs. I'll skip all the techno talk and just refer anyone to search "frac height" if they have an interest. First, it is physically impossible to pump a frac into a formation thousands of feet down and have that fracture propagate into the shallow fresh water aquifers. But look at my words closely and don't jump to conclusions. Fracing a SG reservoir can cause pollution to aquifers as well as surface waters BUT not directly from the fracturing process. The aquifer can be polluted if the shallow casing ruptures or if cement doesn't adequately isolate the producing zone in the well annulus from the aquifers. But two important points: this potential is no different for a frac'd SG reservoir than the 10's of thousands on convention wells drilled over the decades in Britain. Also, though it can happen this way, historically it's rather rare.

Now here is what y'all need to be very concerned about: the disposal of the produced frac fluids as well as any produced salt water. Inappropriate disposal of such fluids has been THE primary cause of fresh water contamination in Texas since the beginning of the oil biz here. As I've warned the folks in New England: stop watching those big noisy pump truck doing the frac jobs. But pay very close attention to those tanks trucks which look a lot like petrol haulers. Proper disposal of those nasty fluids is expensive and making "midnight hauls" (as we call them in Texas) can really boost profits: instead of paying big disposal fees they simply back up to some creek or pasture on a quiet road an 2 AM and dump their load. In Texas if you get caught making a midnight haul there's a good chance you'll end up in prison. I'm very please to say I've helped bust two such midnight haulers (I've driven many a back road at 2 AM during my career).

Unfortunately that's not the case in Pennsylvania. There it's still actually legal to dump some of this nasty stuff on the ground. I made the point some time ago that the oil/NG regulators in the NE US should spend a month in Texas to learn our regulations. In the early days of oil/NG production Texas paid a big price for not having the regs right. But we do now. But there are some aspects of our Yankee cousins' environmental stewardship that has always baffled me: millions of pounds of salt are spread on their roads to control ice during the winter. If a Texas oil operator were caught doing the same on a lease road that company would be fined out of existence and a good chance someone would go to jail. I know it's a safety trade off. But it's still a conscious decision on their part to favor such pollution for it's benefit. At the moment it appears Penn. regulators find the same trade off for frac fluid dumping to be worthwhile.

In Texas if you get caught making a midnight haul there's a good chance you'll end up in prison. ...Unfortunately that's not the case in Pennsylvania. There it's still actually legal to dump some of this nasty stuff on the ground.

See Comment and link above: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7322#comment-756299

S - yep...what I had just read. There seems to be such a disconnect between the MSM reports/the politicians and what th regulators are actually allowing.

We might send this along to Darrell Issa, who is prompting several industries to give him some clues as to which Gov't Regs need to be targeted when the new majority makes their grand entrance in Washington.


"The anti-business policies of the past have hurt job creators, small and large," said Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella. "It’s in the interest of every American that we create a regulatory environment that fosters economic growth and makes U.S. companies globally competitive.


In a copy of one of the letters Issa sent to businesses, he said that federal agencies issued 43 major new regulations in the 2010 fiscal year.

"These regulations ranged from new limits on 'effluent' discharges to new rules for Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations," he wrote. "The new limits on 'effluent' discharges from construction sites will cost $810.8 million annually resulting in the closure of 147 construction firms and the loss of 7,257 jobs."

(my emphasis)

One might note that the so-called "cost" of those limits on effluent discharges is money spent to hire other people who put in the erosion control systems, etc. One man's "cost" is another man's job. If the new jobs pay less than the ones which might be lost, it may be that more jobs will result than are lost. It's just that the profits to the construction companies won't be as large. If all companies in the construction business comply with the regs, there won't be any difference in the relative costs of the construction projects, thus there would be no reason for any of those companies to lose business unless they ignore the regs. It's just that the projects would cost more as the environmental impacts are internalized in the prices for the finished products. As it is now, those environmental costs are apparently dumped on the rest of society and the environment...

E. Swanson

The older of the two national newspapers here in Jamaica seems to be taking an increasing interest in energy lately. First they publish an editorial which I linked to in a post on the December 29 DB, mentioning that I had urged the editor to look at two articles on TOD that had just been posted and were very relevant. Coincidentally, 5 days later they publish a two part article in the business section (January 3 and 4).

Burden of power - How Jamaican Government's lack of energy has fuelled high electricity costs - Part 1

For at least the past two decades, the Government in power has prevented the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) from implementing plans developed by the company for investment in a generating plant, despite the company's careful technical and economic analyses.

In all instances, the utility's calculations had indicated that investment in a new coal-burning plant would have provided the lowest-cost electricity for supply to consumers.

Part 2 - Power-sector planning and the cost of energy

It is difficult to visualise any real-life situation in which Bunker C could be sold at a 60 per cent higher price than that of LNG, delivered at the point of consumption in both instances. The assumed price of at least one of the two fuels is illogical, and initial review of the prevailing relevant circumstances internationally suggests that the price of LNG is underestimated, especially in view of the fact that the LNG would probably have to be imported from Africa, the Middle East or the Far East.

For all I know, the author could have read the two articles I had recommended to the editor. Rembrandt's Dec 27 article Renewable and fossil electricity generation costs compared could have provided useful material for Part 1 and Part 2 could have been written on the basis of material found in Art Berman's Dec 29 Article "EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011: Don’t Worry, Be Happy." In one of my comments on that article I stated that, I had sent some Peak Oil related info to the minister and that, subsequent to that there seems to have been an increased focus on the use of NG as an energy source.

In all, the two part article is very well researched and balanced, more so than the editorial I referred to earlier. I would like to think that, my pointers to TOD had something to to with the increased quality of the analysis of our situation being done at this newspaper but, in light of the short time between my submission to the editor and the publication of the articles, I doubt it. It is a welcome improvement nonetheless.

Alan from the islands

Two studies from Cornell may explain why we are getting nowhere fast

Why CEOs might lack creative leadership

...when people voice creative ideas, they are viewed by others as having less leadership potential," said Jack Goncalo, assistant professor of organizational behavior in Cornell's ILR School.

Its implication: “Creative people are getting filtered out on their way to the top.”

The reason is that deeply held expectations of “creative people” and “effective leaders” often clash. Creative people are viewed as risky and unpredictable, while leaders are expected to reduce uncertainty and uphold the norms of the group. Although people claim they want creativity, when given the opportunity, they actually preserve the status quo by sticking with unoriginal thinkers, data suggest.

This might help explain why many of the 1,500 leaders surveyed in 2010 by IBM's Institute for Business Value doubted their abilities to lead through complex times, Goncalo said.

Perhaps promoted for their unspoken promises to preserve the status quo, leaders are often expected to change the status quo when they arrive at the top – an uncanny mismatch that was previously unidentified.


Mathematical model shows how groups split into factions

Social scientists have long argued that when under stress, social networks either end up all agreeing or splitting into two opposing factions. Either condition is referred to as "structural balance."

"Structural balance theory applies in situations where there's a lot of social stress -- gossip disparaging to one person, countries feeling pressure, companies competing -- where we need to make alliances and find our friends and enemies," said Cornell Ph.D. candidate Seth Marvel ... People may form alliances based on shared values, or may consider the social consequences of allying with a particular person, Marvel said. "The model shows that the latter is sufficient to divide a group into two factions," he said.

Although people claim they want creativity, when given the opportunity, they actually preserve the status quo by sticking with unoriginal thinkers, data suggest.

And that's the money quote that maybe ought to go into the rotation at the upper right. Nearly everyone, nearly all the time, wants "certainty" and the complete absence of even the tiniest scintilla of risk. And that doesn't apply just to big issues - programmers for, say, local arts groups, know not to go out on a limb too often since audiences want "to know what they will be getting".

There is something I had been meaning to photoshop for ages, but then American Airlines did it as an advertisement without any sense of the irony:

Anybody got a handle on why oil has just fallen $3 in the last couple of hours? Nothing on Yahoo Finance about it yet. The WSJ has it at $91.08 at 9:16 am. and Bloomberg has it at $89.10 at 10:43 am.

Alan from the islands

Crude Oil Futures Tumble in N.Y. After Yesterday's Surge to 27-Month High

Futures dropped the most in seven weeks amid speculation that a recovery by global economies will curb demand for commodities as an alternative investment to currencies and equities. Oil climbed 8.6 percent last month as the dollar dropped 3 percent.

“Part of what the commodities rally was all about was they were the currency of last resort in terms of storing value,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. “Economic prospects are helping the dollar and are going to take some of that inflation fear premium out of commodities, and that’s going to have a moderating effect.”

This makes me feel like retreating into my comfort zone, That explanation does not explain the size of the tumble to me. Does not compute.

Then again, in a comment back in September, I did ask:

Anybody else notice that the reasons for oil price trending up or down seem to be being pulled out of somebody's rear end?

Alan from the islands

Yeah, these explanations always sound like "just so" stories to me.

My guess is that it's just traders locking in their profits after the runup. Seems like whenever there's a spike, there's a "correction" afterwards.

Note that in 2007, volatility increased as the prices went up. There was always a "reason" on Yahoo, but they all seemed pretty manufactured. People intrinsically like a simple cause-and-effect explanation, and the simple fact that volatility is driven by the complex interplay of multiple systems each with human components isn't very satisfying.

Of course, sometimes something big DOES happen, and then cause and effect is pretty obvious. But even then, most of the impact is generally psychologically driven.

So, I fully expect more volatility as well as increasing prices throughout 2011, with plenty of odd backstories manufactured for each day's change - and notably, supply and demand rarely surfacing as an explanation.

yeah, give an 'expert' a price and he/she can explain it. iraq is claiming a 300,000 bpd increase (2.7 million bpd) from november's average. if factual, that will move the needle.

Actually, I find it to be somewhat disturbing; I don't know why, but it doesn't sound quite right. Bad gut feeling.

I've noticed that on several Tuesdays before the release of the weekly EIA data, the price seems to drop. Perhaps today's drop is the result of the market perception that the amount of oil used the past couple of weeks may have been less than usual, given the impact of the interesting weather seen over the eastern half of the US. The market appears to respond to the quantity in storage, not the use, and the quantity has been on a declining trend for several weeks. All that snow would have made it difficult to move product from storage to the consumer, not to mention the problems with the Carolina Pipeline Company. If the storage data again shows a drop tomorrow, then the price could easily go back up tomorrow...

E. Swanson

My wild guess is that is mostly to do with some type of hedge or commodity fund liquidating - as for unknown reasons.
My even wilder guess is that in a day or two, it will recover.

As before, I've always said day to day movements in the price of oil may even go against developing supply/demand trends. Sometimes even longer than that, but eventually trying to go back to some type of price equilibrium.

I notice we've just had a triple bounce off about $88.90 so that may be a floor for now. Could even be back up at $92 by the end of the day given recent patterns. Of course this is not a prediction :-) Edit especially as it fell through that "floor" about 30 seconds after I posted!

I sold DBO yesterday.
I'm usually a bad marker timer, so this is scary.

Gold also tumbled today. So yes, it would appear to be some kind of large commodity fund liquidation.

I dunno . . . but gold also took a huge drop so it may be a commodities wide issue.

Unless there's a major incident in the news, which there isn't, probably anything we could think of would amount to nothing more than narrative fallacy...

BP shares jump 6% on takeover reports

BP shares have surged almost 6% after reports that rival Royal Dutch Shell considered a takeover bid following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The share price rise comes despite a fall in the price of oil.

Afghanistan warns fuel tank near ‘E’ as Iran blocks shipments at border

Iran's decision to stop up to 2,500 fuel trucks at its border with Afghanistan is tantamount to an “embargo,” an Afghan commerce official said Tuesday, as others warned the move could leave millions of Afghans shivering as winter rolls in.

The unofficial ban, now in its second week, has pushed up wholesale domestic fuel prices as much as 70 per cent. The shortage of fuel also threatens to stop trucks loaded with commercial goods from reaching the capital along a key southern transport route.
Iran supplies about 30 per cent of the country's refined fuel, Afghan officials say. The remainder of the blocked shipments of vehicle and heating fuel comes from Iraq and Turkmenistan and is only transiting Iran, they say.

Atlantic currents have seen 'drastic' changes: study

GENEVA — Scientists have found evidence of a "drastic" shift since the 1970s in north Atlantic Ocean currents that usually influence weather in the northern hemisphere, Swiss researchers said on Tuesday.

The team of biochemists and oceanographers from Switzerland, Canada and the United States detected changes in deep sea Atlantic corals that indicated the declining influence of the cold northern Labrador Current.

They said in the US National Academy of Science journal PNAS that the change "since the early 1970s is largely unique in the context of the last approximately 1,800 years," and raised the prospect of a direct link with global warming.

U.S. does not have infrastructure to consume more ethanol

Wally Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics, and co-authors Frank Dooley, a Purdue professor of agricultural economics, and Daniela Viteri, a former Purdue graduate student, used U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency data to determine that the United States is at the "blending wall," the saturation point for ethanol use.

Tyner said there simply aren't enough flex-fuel vehicles, which use an 85 percent ethanol blend, or E85 stations to distribute more biofuels. According to EPA estimates, flex-fuel vehicles make up 7.3 million of the 240 million vehicles on the nation's roads. Of those, about 3 million of flex-fuel vehicle owners aren't even aware they can use E85 fuel.

There are only about 2,000 E85 fuel pumps in the United States, and it took more than 20 years to install them.

"Even if you could produce a whole bunch of E85, there is no way to distribute it," Tyner said. "We would need to install about 2,000 pumps per year through 2022 to do it. You're not going to go from 100 per year to 2,000 per year overnight. It's just not going to happen."

E85 vehicles are mostly light trucks, not cars. The relatively few cars are primarily larger sedans with larger engines from domestic manufacturers. E85 is really a gimmick to give the domestic manufacturers an mpg credit so that they could make their CAFE fleet mileage requirements without actually doing so.


Saudi captures 'Mossad spy' vulture

A tagged Israeli bird found in Saudi Arabia has raised speculations that Israeli spy agency Mossad is training birds for espionage in the region.

...The words "Tel Aviv University" etched in English on a ring clasped to the bird's leg, and especially the transmitter, raised suspicions among the finders who said it could be a Mossad agent.

According to the report, the tags indicate that the bird was part of a long-term research project into migration patterns.

Saudi residents and local reporters, however, say it seems to be a "Zionist plot."


It's just like 'The day of the Dolphin', or that Monkey in the 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'.. next up, 'SPY SQUIDS'!~ It's more like a Zoologist Plot..

(but at least it reduces their dependence on foreign oil!)

Four bumblebee species declining in North America

The populations of four species of North American bumblebee have declined, a new study has confirmed. The study also found that fungal infections are more likely to plague these bees than other, more stable bumblebee species.

Although perhaps not as dramatic as the sudden disappearance of honeybees, a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder, reports of vanishing bumble bees have appeared in recent years in North America and Europe.

Personally, I believe that it's habitat destruction. When I go on an abandoned farm in late Spring the air is abuzz with mating bees; can't walk anywhere without running into them.

On the other hand, working farms - where sprays are used - are empty of insect life.

Just a personal observation.

Could be. There were those studies that found urban bees were much healthier than rural bees. Because in the city, there's no monocropping and less pesticide use.

Tonight, myself, Jim Kunstler and 4 others are the subjects of a History Channel documentary, which I find out today (5 hours before it airs) is being titled 'Prophets of Doom'.

I was approached last summer as an economic/human behavior expert for a show titled 'The Futurists' discussing the opportunities and constraints facing America. I was filmed all told about 14 hours on a variety of topics so I have no idea what made the final cut. But Im pretty upset about the title change, among other things. I might watch the rerun someday but can't bring myself to drive to someones house to watch it tonight.

It airs at 9EST. Im guessing I'll get a phone call from my mother in the morning.

My channel guide says Top Gear at 9.

Well, I'm rooting for you Nate! But I don't have a TV either..

Hey, it's the 'History Channel' after all, I think their bait/switch could have been a lot worse.. I thought all they did nowadays was cheezball Reality Haunted House shows.. it makes their stodgy old "B-52 Memoir" years seem downright EggHeaded!

I shouldn't complain.. somebody has to pay for C-span.. the only real info I know of out there in Cable-land.


According to the History Channel website "Prophets of Doom" airs Wednesday 9pm EST

See http://www.history.com/schedule/1/5/2011?view=week

Prophets of Doom

Today's world has troubles unique to its time in history, from the global financial crisis to technological meltdowns to full scale, computerized global war. Observing the convergence of such events, contemporary prophets have begun to emerge from obscurity to suggest that these conditions might be signs of the demise of the modern world. These men are historians as well, using all manner of information and patterns from the past to provide context for where we are going. Their predictions interpret the current state of affairs in our world as evidence that the America we know may come to an end. The men proposing these ideas are not crackpots living on the streets of New York; they are intelligent, learned men who come armed with the evidence to back up their claims.

Yes, the channel guide says that it airs tomorrow night, (Wednesday) at 8:00 CST and again at midnight. I expect they will slant everything to try to make you guys look ridiculous but you never know. However I am going to watch, and also record it. The "Information" button brings up the following info:

After learning the patterns of human history, experts examine modern events, such as international financial crises, technological meltdowns, physical and online wars and more, to predict the grim future of America and the world.

The show is two hours long.

Edit: Hey, after reading Undertow's copy above they might not put you guys in such a bad light after all.

Ron P.

my bad -the email i got said tonight - but it is Wednesday.

Congratulations, Nate, et al (WT in there as well?)

re: "The men proposing these ideas are not crackpots living on the streets of New York; they are intelligent, learned men who come armed with the evidence to back up their claims."

All men?

No Cassandra? (only "Cassandrus"?)

And here I was waiting for the phone to ring! :)

re: "...to provide context for where we are going."

While it's not strictly true that half the population of the planet requires a member of the representative class in order to explicate the full context, it may well be this omission is a sign of some missing context.

And...Perhaps a clue as to why the trajectory of "demise" appears so fixed, and the possibilities of other outcomes beyond imagination - this last being a requirement when voices of real human beings are silenced and locked away.

I agree wholeheartedly


Haven't had a TV for over six years, does anyone know if The History Channel archives programs on line? Any chance of a YouTube version? Good Title though >;^)

U.S. Crude Oil Supplies Fell Last Week, API Report Shows

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil inventories tumbled 7.51 million barrels last week to 337.1 million, the American Petroleum Institute said today.

Gasoline inventories rose 5.61 million barrels to 222 million, the report showed.

The Energy Department is scheduled to release its inventory report tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Washington.

Analysts expect the government report to show stockpiles of crude oil declined over the period. Supplies probably dropped 2 million barrels, according to the median of 17 responses in a Bloomberg News survey. Gasoline inventories increased 500,000 barrels, the survey showed

I usually try to accept API numbers at face value, and they may be right - but the rise in gasoline stocks and the fall in oil stocks is probably not as large as API says. It's hard to tell because of the huge Eastern US snow storm occurring last week. However the strong year-end trend of depleting oil inventories and rising products is correct.

Based upon personal traffic observations only, gasoline demand recovered strongly later last week - perhaps after these surveys were complete.

UK Wind Update: From Maddy's Dad on the Berry Petroleum Board:


Can anyone from the UK verify this article?

Reads like cherry picking a few points to me. The question is performance from year to year in total MW-hr produced. Some days the wind will not blow -- indeed. Is that a new concept?

For all: I'm not arguing where oil prices might go now or what the economy can handle without slipping into another recession. This link offers an historic chart of oil prices adjusted to June 2010.


Granted we should take inflation adjusted numbers with a grain of salt but we need to start somewhere. Two major price spikes in the last several decades: Dec 1979 ($108) and June 2008 ($126). Clearly the 1979 spike led to a global recession that reduced demand and crashed oil prices to $30 or less for 10 years. Lived thru it and survived. Currently prices are about $78 which is where prices rebounded from the 80's recession in 2006.

Assigning the 80's crash to the earlier price spikes seems obvious. Not quite as obvious cause and affect for the last two price run ups (2006 and 2008). Other folks have debated long and hard over the connection between the housing bust, general financial bust and oil price spike. All I would note is that the major price run ups (including the current trend) over the last 50 years were followed by recession. And each recession led to an oil price crash. Not a prediction...just an observation. It doesn't seem likely oil will ever drop to $30-40 ever again. But as this petroleum geologist delivered vegetables to Houston restaurants during the mid 80's I remembered having those exact same thoughts in 1980. And I was proved very wrong.

From the Guardian 20 predictions for the next 25 years

4. Energy: 'Returning to a world that relies on muscle power is not an option'
Providing sufficient food, water and energy to allow everyone to lead decent lives is an enormous challenge. Energy is a means, not an end, but a necessary means. With 6.7 billion people on the planet, more than 50% living in large conurbations, and these numbers expected to rise to more than 9 billion and 80% later in the century, returning to a world that relies on human and animal muscle power is not an option.

The challenge is to provide sufficient energy while reducing reliance on fossil fuels, which today supply 80% of our energy (in decreasing order of importance, the rest comes from burning biomass and waste, hydro, nuclear and, finally, other renewables, which together contribute less than 1%). Reducing use of fossil fuels is necessary both to avoid serious climate change and in anticipation of a time when scarcity makes them prohibitively expensive.

It will be extremely difficult. An International Energy Agency scenario that assumes the implementation of all agreed national policies and announced commitments to save energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels projects a 35% increase in energy consumption in the next 25 years, with fossil fuels up 24%. This is almost entirely due to consumption in developing countries where living standards are, happily, rising and the population is increasing rapidly.

Disappointingly, with the present rate of investment in developing and deploying new energy sources, the world will still be powered mainly by fossil fuels in 25 years and will not be prepared to do without them.