Drumbeat: January 5, 2011

Peak Oil and a Changing Climate

The scientific community has long agreed that our dependence on fossil fuels inflicts massive damage on the environment and our health, while warming the globe in the process. But beyond the damage these fuels cause to us now, what will happen when the world's supply of oil runs out?

Peak Oil is the point at which petroleum production reaches its greatest rate just before going into perpetual decline. In “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate,” a new video series from The Nation and On The Earth productions, radio host Thom Hartmann explains that the world will reach peak oil within the next year if it hasn’t already. As a nation, the United States reached peak oil in 1974, after which it became a net oil importer.

Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg and the other scientists, researchers and writers interviewed throughout “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” describe the diminishing returns our world can expect as it deals with the consequences of peak oil even as it continues to pretend it doesn’t exist. These experts predict substantially increased transportation costs, decreased industrial production, unemployment, hunger and social chaos as the supplies of the fuels on which we rely dwindle and eventually disappear.

FACTBOX-Five facts about Mexico's Maya heavy crude oil blend

(Reuters) - Exports of Mexico's Maya heavy crude oil blend are expected to fall by more than 10 percent in 2011 due to increased domestic demand and a lack of new production.

Tom Whipple: The Queensland Flood is Coming to Your Neighborhood

The news this week that about one-third of Australia's coal production has been halted by massive flooding in the state of Queensland is an opportunity to look at the coal supply situation in Asia and the impact it could have on global energy prices in the next few months.

Canada Will Receive Record LNG Shipments in January, FirstEnergy Says

Canada will receive a record 22 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas in January, 69 percent more than the previous high of 13 billion cubic feet, FirstEnergy Capital Corp. said.

Oil rig workers gain dubious distinction

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- After last year's explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, oil rig workers are again thought to have the worst job in America.

Dubai Refiner Enoc Will Expand Fujairah Fuel Storage, CEO Says

Emirates National Oil Co. plans to expand refined oil products storage capacity in the United Arab Emirates sheikhdom of Fujairah for trading and local supply, the head of Dubai’s government-owned refiner said today.

Venezuela: A divided country?

As Venezuela's new parliament meets for the first time, the BBC's James Robbins asks if the oil-rich country is now as polarised as its parliament, where the opposition has gained seats but only limited influence.

Iran invites RF, China official to visit its nuke facilities

TEHRAN (Itar-Tass) - Iran has invited representatives of several countries, including Russia and China, to make a trip to Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran’s Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Asghar Soltanieh said in Vienna on Tuesday that this visit is expected on January 15-16.

EU says up to UN to inspect Iran's nuclear sites

(Reuters) - The European Union's executive said on Wednesday it was up to the U.N. nuclear watchdog to inspect Iranian atomic facilities, after Tehran invited EU envoys to tour the sites this month.

The incumbent's advantage

In theory, I'm the perfect customer for the Nissan Leaf. I don't drive frequently. I don't need a car with much space. I never need to go farther than 100 miles at a time.

But the Nissan Leaf wouldn't work for me at all, as I don't own a garage, and D.C's streets aren't outfitted with charging stations. Which gets to the difficulty these new technologies will have: We've sunk an enormous amount of money into the infrastructure that makes cars that run on refined oil products convenient to use as our primary modes of transportation. Garages, for instance. And gas stations. And roads. Some of these investments were public and some were private, but together, they amount to a huge and often invisible advantage to the incumbent technology. Even as other technologies come closer and closer to competing on cost, it's going to take a long time before they can compete on convenience.

Prius Killer

Prius fans are fond of pointing out that the newest model has one of the lowest coefficients of drag ever achieved on a production vehicle, but they neglect to mention that the car gets this cred because it drives like a drag. The Prius never lets you forget that it is a special kind of vehicle, one dedicated to saving the earth rather than giving you a great ride.

World Food Prices Rise to Record on Sugar, Meat Costs

World food prices rose to a record in December on higher sugar, grain and oilseed costs, the United Nations said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots from Haiti to Egypt.

An index of 55 food commodities tracked by the Food and Agriculture Organization gained for a sixth month to 214.7 points, above the previous all-time high of 213.5 in June 2008, the Rome-based UN agency said in a monthly report. The gauges for sugar and meat prices advanced to records.

Sugar climbed for a third year in a row in 2010, and corn jumped the most in four years in Chicago. Food prices may rise more unless the world grain crop increases “significantly” in 2011, the FAO said Nov. 17. At least 13 people died last year in Mozambique in protests against plans to lift bread prices.

To Beat Back Poverty, Pay the Poor

The city of Rio de Janeiro is infamous for the fact that one can look out from a precarious shack on a hill in a miserable favela and see practically into the window of a luxury high-rise condominium. Parts of Brazil look like southern California. Parts of it look like Haiti. Many countries display great wealth side by side with great poverty. But until recently, Brazil was the most unequal country in the world.

Today, however, Brazil’s level of economic inequality is dropping at a faster rate than that of almost any other country. Between 2003 and 2009, the income of poor Brazilians has grown seven times as much as the income of rich Brazilians. Poverty has fallen during that time from 22 percent of the population to 7 percent.

Pemex 2010 Output Falls to Lowest Level in 20 Years

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, saw production fall to its lowest level in 20 years after autumn storms in the Gulf of Mexico curbed output.

Pemex Reopens Dos Bocas Oil Export Terminal in Gulf

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, reopened its smallest oil export terminal in the Gulf of Mexico after closing it Jan. 2 because of bad weather.

The terminal at the port of Dos Bocas reopened, Mexico’s Merchant Marine said today in a weather bulletin posted on its website. Pemex, as the Mexico City-based company is known, yesterday opened its two largest terminals, Cayo Arcas and Coatzacoalcos.

Australia floods cause "catastrophic" damage

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia (Reuters) – Australia's record floods are causing catastrophic damage to infrastructure in the state of Queensland and have forced 75 percent of its coal mines, which fuel Asia's steel mills, to grind to a halt, Queensland's premier said on Wednesday.

The worst flooding in decades has affected an area the size of Germany and France, leaving towns virtual islands in a muddy inland sea, devastated crops, cut major rail and road links to coal ports, slashed exports and forced up world coal prices.

"Seventy-five percent of our mines are currently not operation because of this flood," Premier Anna Bligh told local television. "So, that's a massive impact on the international markets and the international manufacturer of steel."

Australian Rains Swamp Profit at Germany's Coal-Fed Power Plants

Profit from producing power with coal in Germany, Europe’s biggest consumer of the fuel, is headed toward the lowest level on record as rainfall in Australia closes mines and raises prices worldwide.

Returns at coal stations in Germany tumbled 32 percent this week to 2.80 euros ($3.70) a megawatt hour. That’s near the 1.79 euros reached on Dec. 20, the lowest since Bloomberg began compiling the data in May 2008. European coal rose yesterday to the most in more than two years.

Saudi Aramco Cuts Most February Oil Prices, Increases Super Light to Asia

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, lowered official selling prices for all of its crude grades for customers in the U.S., Europe and the Mediterranean for February.

Steve LeVine: Frenemies Forever

Over the past decade, the American public has been presented with the case against Saudi Arabia, and it's a damning indictment: oil (dirty), terrorism (evil), fundamentalist Islam (dangerous), human rights (shockingly bad). President Barack Obama has spoken of the need to "get off Middle East oil" so that America is no longer beholden to the "whims of oil-rich dictators." Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and others argue that petroleum profits fuel terrorism and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. Human rights groups point to the reality that women can't drive in Saudi Arabia, that beheading is a common form of punishment there, and that the country still has no constitution -- only an austere, seventh-century interpretation of the Quran.

The verdict: Guilty. But so what? You can't throw a country in jail. In fact, a decade after the 9/11 attacks were mounted by a team of mostly Saudi terrorists, America needs Saudi Arabia more than ever.

Related: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Saudis

FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania has enjoyed relative stability in an often unsettled region, but growing criticism on the government's fight against corruption and an energy crisis clouds the east African country's 2011 outlook.

EKET (AKWA IBOM) - Increased energy supply is crucial to the economic advancement of Nigeria in the 2011 fiscal year, an economist, Mr. Friday Udoh, has said.

Thailand: Govt to subsidise diesel

The Energy Policy Committee on Wednesday morning agreed to use money from the state Oil Fund to subsidise prices of diesel B3 and bio-diesel B5 by 0.50 baht per litre, to keep the pump price below 30 baht a litre.

Malawi govt. sets up oil company

Reacting to the perennial fuel shortage in the country, the Malawi government on Tuesday set up a National Oil Company.

Argentina govt. allows fuel prices to rise

A shortage of petrol has led to extremely long queues outside service stations, not to mention a rise in prices.

While in some Latin American countries, a liter can be bought for little as a cent - such is the case of Venezuela - in Argentina, the cost is often well over $1.

Consumers, particularly those that require a vehicle for work purposes, are fed up and say that having to deal with a double whammy of expensive petrol and a wait to fill-up is just not good enough.

Sinopec Trading Unit Halts Diesel Imports as China's Fuel Shortage Eases

China International United Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the nation’s largest oil trader, will halt imports of diesel this month, according to a company official with knowledge of the plans, as a domestic shortage eases.

The trader imported at least 200,000 metric tons of diesel, or more than five cargoes, in November and December, after a shortfall prompted refiners to maximize production and boost purchases from abroad. The diesel, or gasoil, shortage is “gradually easing,” and inventories of the fuel are rising, the nation’s top economic planner said Dec. 21.

Oil production stalls in 2010 as fuel prices stay up

Uganda missed an opportunity to join the world’s new oil producing countries in 2010 as Ghana accomplished the feat. Oil production was scheduled to start last year, but a tax dispute between the government and two oil exploration firms held the plan in reserve.

INTERVIEW - U.S. sanctions hamper Iraq power imports from Iran

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has been unable, due to U.S. sanctions, to pay Iran millions of dollars owed for electricity, an Iraqi official said, potentially damaging its efforts to supply enough power to a population suffering chronic shortages.

India refiner rushes for oil on Iran supply fears

NEW DELHI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - India's top buyer of Iranian crude is seeking as much as 2.6 million barrels from the spot market, in the face of any possible supply disruption due to a payments row between the two countries.

Don't bet on it: BP is a huge bite, even for Shell

Investors who rushed into BP shares based on speculation in Britain that Shell could be mulling a takeover bid may have been a little hasty.

Sinopec Group, Repsol Discuss Ventures After $7.1 Billion Brazil Oil Deal

China Petrochemical Corp. and Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s largest oil company, are in talks on joint ventures around the world after the Chinese refiner invested $7.1 billion in a Repsol unit in Latin America last year.

FACTBOX-Oil companies active in Iraqi Kurdistan

Reuters) - Oil output from the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan helps boost exports that provide Iraq with about 95 percent of its federal revenue.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says it holds reserves of 45 billion barrels. That has not been verified and contrasts with other estimates, such as the 2 billion barrels in proven reserves given by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Possible Winners and Losers of Cuba's Deep Water Drilling

Well, well. In early March, Cuba will commence with deep water drilling under contract with Repsol and Statoil ASA, using an older rig that was recently rehabbed by the Chinese. Reports indicate that it has fewer safety features than the BP's infamous Deepwater Horizon. The site is located a scant sixty miles southeast of Key West, Florida.

How can this be? Thank President Jimmy Carter, who etched a 1977 agreement essentially splitting the Straits of Florida 50/50 between the US and Cuba. Expect scores of deep water wells around Cuba's multi-billion barrel oil pool over the next few years.

Today's Trends: Canary in A Coal Mine

In past cycles a drop in the transports has signaled the end of a rally for crude. After rallying approximately 25% in 2010, the Dow Jones Transportation Average has entered territory not seen since 2008. Should this Monday's 52-week high of 5219.8 turn out to be an inflection point for the index, then any meaningful reversal of course could again signal lower prices in crude.

Study Finds Record Value for 2010 O&G Transactions

Worldwide transactions involving upstream oil and gas (O&G) assets reached a record $107 billion in 2010, a 160 percent increase above 2009 transaction values in total asset deal value, according to preliminary results in the IHS Herold 2011 Global Upstream M&A Review. The increase was driven by spending by national oil companies (NOCs), major divestiture programs by BP (to pay for the Macondo oil spill), ConocoPhillips, Suncor Energy and Devon Energy, as well as major joint ventures focused on North American unconventional resource plays.

China Gas shares remain suspended

The trading of shares in China Gas Holdings, a natural gas distributor part-owned by the Oman Oil Company, will remain suspended after the company said two of its executives were detained by police.

China Gas officials said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday that Liu Ming Hui, the managing and executive director, and Huang Yong, the executive president, had been detained by police in China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen since December 18 for suspected "embezzlement of the assets of an organisation in which they have duties".

Canada crude-Prices fall as more pipeline outages planned

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian crude oil discounts deepened on Tuesday to levels not seen in four months as Enbridge Inc told shippers it plans outages on a troublesome U.S. pipeline, pointing to further transport squeezes, market sources said.

Shell Suffers New Setback on Alaska Offshore Drilling

Shell suffered a new setback to its plans to drill offshore in the arctic after environmentalists successfully challenged a decision to grant the company air-quality permits.

Reports show work still to be done on Alaska natural gas supply line

FAIRBANKS — A plan to rearrange and expand Fairbanks’ natural gas supply still requires many steps beyond financing, detailed project descriptions show.

The privately held Fairbanks Natural Gas is leading the project with the publicly controlled Alaska Gasline Port Authority. The authority would buy FNG, purchase natural gas on the North Slope and liquify the gas for delivery by truck to North Pole.

A peek into our energy crystal ball

This year we do not see any black swans on the horizon. That does not mean none is lurking just out of view. Not being extraordinarily gifted forecasters, we therefore mainly predict a continuation of current energy trends with, perhaps, a few novel twists.

Acknowledging that we may be proved wildly wrong, here are our top five energy predictions for this year.

School releases list of top environmental issues

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Congress' failure to adopt climate change legislation, the Gulf oil spill and the United States' first greenhouse gas rules top an environmental law school's list of the nation's 10 most critical environmental and policy issues of 2010.

Cuomo Picks ‘Open Space’ Advocate for Environment Chief

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is receiving plaudits from environmental groups for nominating Joseph Martens as the new commissioner of New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Since 1998, Mr. Martens has served as president of the Open Space Institute, a nonprofit that works largely in the northeastern United States to acquire lands for conservation and sustainable development and farming. Mr. Martens also served as deputy state secretary of energy and the environment from 1992-94, during the gubernatorial administration of Mr. Cuomo’s father, Mario.

Environmental Economist Joins White House Staff

Nathaniel Keohane, most recently the chief economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, has moved to the National Economic Council at the White House to help direct environmental and energy policy. He replaces Joseph E. Aldy, who is returning to the faculty at Harvard University.

Mr. Keohane, an early and vigorous proponent of the market-based system of cap and trade to control greenhouse gas emissions, will be joining a White House bracing for an onslaught from Republicans in Congress determined to undo much of the administration’s environmental agenda.

We're meeting goals on renewable energy -- but they should be higher

In 2006, the California Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ambitiously committed California to obtain 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by the end of 2010.

The utilities blanched and the skeptics snickered. But despite much naysaying, we'll get pretty darned close. The California Public Utilities Commission said we'd reach 18 percent by the end of this month, and move past 20 percent some time in the new year.

That's good, but we can do better.

US, Chinese companies partner in solar plant

BEIJING (AP) -- A U.S. company said Wednesday it wants to start construction this year in China of one of the world's biggest solar power plants after forming a partnership with a major state-owned utility company.

Tax on carbon: The only way to save our planet?

He first warned about climate change 30 years ago. Now James Hansen wants us to get serious about a tax on carbon.

Transition cities: Mission impossible?

In a breakout session that day, called “Urban Permaculture,” one of the participants commented, “This is all great for the rural areas, but what do you do about a big city like Los Angeles?”

The instructor threw up his hands and shrugged. It’s impossible. Someone laughed uncomfortably. Amid a crowd of what should have been Southern California’s most forward thinking, out-of-the-box designers, there were no answers.

People have said it to me directly over the years, in person and in email. It’s impossible. How can you even think about Transition in Los Angeles? It’s too big.

10 must-read environmental books from 2010 to read in 2011

From photo essays of untouched wilderness to hard-hitting exposés of corporate negligence, this year's eco-lit addresses the rapidly changing environment and our place in it.

Crisis Triggers Reality Check in Spain Power Sector

The good thing about bubble-bursting is that it triggers change, however painful it can be. Myths that were nurtured for years fall apart unceremoniously, replaced by needed reality.

This is the reckoning Spaniards face, especially starting in January when their power bills increase nearly 10 percent, the highest rise in over a quarter of a century, now that the government approved the painful measure the last week in December.

The story is even more poignant considering Spain was a global poster child of power “sustainability.” After all, in 2010 the country generated more than a third of its electricity with renewable sources, all while shunning nuclear power, reducing its dependence on foreign energy sources, and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. Even President Barack Obama based part of his administration's green policies on the Spanish example.

Overlooked by most though was the fact that the model was based on a decade-old political scam that was simply unsustainable. And the crisis exposed this reality. Now the real pain starts.

Get the Energy Sector off the Dole

Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future—and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.

Oil industry to Obama: Expand offshore drilling

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration should reconsider its decision not to pursue offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or along the nation's East Coast, the oil industry's chief trade group said Tuesday.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said the group will press lawmakers and administration officials to expand drilling along the Atlantic coast and in Alaska. If agreement cannot be reached, Gerard said he would support language favored by some congressional Republicans to mandate expanded drilling.

Crude May Fall to $80 After `Bearish Reversal Warnings,' Petromatrix Says

Crude oil prices are showing signs they may a decline to as low as $80 a barrel, according to consultants Petromatrix GmbH.

Oil’s failure to close above a resistance level at $92 a barrel in New York yesterday, and a “shooting star” pattern formed the previous day are “bearish reversal warnings,” the Zug, Switzerland-based firm said in a report today.

Ghana Fuel-Price Hike May Boost Inflation Rate to 10%, Standard Bank Says

Ghana’s inflation rate in January may reach double digits for the first time in eight months after fuel prices were increased 30 percent, leading to higher costs for transport and gasoline, said Standard Bank Group Ltd.

The rate may rise to 10.2 percent in January, said Stephen Bailey-Smith, London-based emerging markets strategist. Inflation was 9.1 percent in November, the most recent data available. December prices will be released by the Ghana Statistical Service Jan. 12.

What's the Hubbert Peak Theory?

The Hubbert peak theory posits that for any given geographical area, from an individual oil-producing region to the planet as a whole, the rate of petroleum production tends to follow a bell-shaped curve.

ADNOC's US$6bn offshore gas network moves closer

Abu Dhabi has moved closer to completing an offshore gas processing and transportation network that will allow it to bring more energy resources onshore for domestic use.

ReThink Review: Gasland -- Is Your Tap Water Flammable?

As I mentioned in my review, the natural gas industry has responded to Gasland by launching a website called Energy In Depth to debunk its claims. But what's interesting is what is admitted through this website if one actually reads it, like the fact that fracking has never been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act -- something which might have happened in 2004 if a study by Bush's EPA hadn't concluded that there was no evidence that fracking polluted water supplies, yet conducted no water tests that would have found such evidence. Or if Dick Cheney's 2005 energy policy had re-classified fracked wells as injection wells.

The New Gold Rush

Finally, we have the serious issue of peak oil, which threatens to destroy the global economy, heavily dependent on cheap fossil fuel. Peak discovery has already occurred and we are fast approaching peak production of reasonably priced oil. Switching over to more expensive oil or to alternative fuels will have a negative impact on global GDP. This irreversible trend will fuel inflation for years to come.

11 Green Business Predictions for 2011

The reality is that green businesses and the low carbon economy are on track to achieve their biggest breakthrough sometime around 2015 – when a perfect storm generated by the inauguration of giant renewable energy projects, the falling cost of solar power, the rising price of oil, and the emergence of second generation biofuels and electric vehicles will finally force the mainstream to sit up and take notice to the low carbon revolution that green firms have been quietly pioneering.

Instead, 2011 looks set to be a year when the world's airwaves are dominated once again by the precarious state of the global economy, the volatile state of geo-politics, and utterly inconsequential speculation about Wills n Kate's engagement, honeymoon and marriage.

Eleven Issues That Will Determine The Next 11 Years

A number of analysts predict that the industrialized nations of the world will hit peak global oil as soon as 2020, and with the unforeseen expansion of a number of industrial societies, that event may occur even sooner. This means that the amount of known petroleum deposits on the planet will be less than the demand for petroleum products, which entails exorbitant prices for gasoline, a lengthy worldwide recession, and according to some, the potential dissolution of modern civilization. A 2005 U.S. Department of Energy report (colloquially known as "The Hirsch Report") states that solutions (such as alternative fuel development and conservation systems) do exist, but are only viable if implemented a decade in advance. If absolutely nothing else, expect this to create a global panic that makes "Y2K" and "2012" seem trifling by comparison. And if the worst comes to fruition?

The Dollar vs. a Freight Train

Michael Ruppert tacitly believes that five billion people will be wiped off the face of the earth sometime in the next few decades.

Israel focuses its energy on clean technologies

JERUSALEM – After a successful run of high-tech and computer-related innovation, Israel is focusing its ambitions on the next big thing — preparing the world for life without coal and oil.

Israel is driving to become a world leader in alternative energy, with the government throwing its support to encourage cutting-edge technologies. The number of private entrepreneurs entering the so-called "clean-tech" sector has swelled dramatically.

Need a streetcar? There’s an app for that

It’s no secret that the city’s streetcars can be slow.

But Toronto’s tech community has been quick off the mark developing smart-phone apps that some people believe are streets ahead of the TTC’s own next-streetcar-arrival tools.

Rocket radar, launched Dec. 29 by Adam Schwabe is the latest app for iPhones that quickly tells users when the next few streetcars will arrive at their stop.

Jeff Rubin: Is there enough oil to repay debt?

Given austerity’s slim chance at success, you might ask why government borrowing rates in the bond market, though rising, aren’t much higher. History would suggest that the yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury bond should be close to double what it is, given the size of Washington’s borrowing program.

The reason it’s not is that creditors and debtors both share a common belief that a powerful economic recovery lies just around the corner—one so powerful, in fact, that tax revenues will suddenly fill government coffers and let bondholders be paid the huge sums they are owed while sparing taxpayers an otherwise draconian fate.

The only problem is that the economic growth everyone is counting on is powered by oil. And as you’ve probably noticed, that’s getting more and more expensive to burn.

Oil Drops a Second Day on Signs Gasoline Demand Is Lagging Behind Recovery

Oil declined to its lowest in two weeks on signs that snowstorms in the U.S. curbed gasoline consumption in the world’s biggest crude consumer.

U.S. gasoline demand at the pump plunged 13 percent to the lowest level in five years last week, according to data from MasterCard Inc. The country’s stockpiles of the motor fuel climbed 5.6 million barrels last week, the most in a year, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said yesterday. An Energy Department report today will also show a supply gain, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

“Today and yesterday the market has become more concerned about the fundamental situation in oil,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “The MasterCard report shows gasoline demand falling, while we still have ample inventories.”

Oil price is risk to economic recovery, says IEA

The current high price of oil will threaten economic recovery in 2011, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It said oil import costs for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development had risen 30% in the past year to $790bn (£508bn).

U.K. Natural Gas, Power Decline as Milder Weather Eases Supply Concerns

U.K. natural-gas contracts fell as forecasts for milder weather eased supply concerns and another liquefied gas tanker headed to Britain. Power declined.

Temperatures will “become nearer normal for most and perhaps mild in southern parts of the U.K. by the end of the period” from Jan. 9 through Jan. 18, the U.K.’s Met Office said on its website.

Why gas costs more--and is more profitable--out West

FORTUNE -- In the cutthroat fuel industry, some refiners are pulling ahead by taking advantage of a quirk in the United States gasoline market. Gas prices in the U.S. fluctuate with the global, volatile oil market, but gasoline prices within the country are far from uniform. Part of that is because the Western market requires a different, more expensive mixture than the gasoline sold in states near the Gulf of Mexico.

Commodities outlook for 2011: $100 oil and $1,500 gold

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Commodity prices had a stellar 2010 and experts expect that momentum to carry over into this year, but at a more measured pace.

On average, investment strategists and money managers are predicting oil prices will rise 4% and gold will edge up just 1% by the end of 2011, according to an exclusive CNNMoney survey.

Oil prices rise. We adapt. (So don't panic.)

In Climatopolis, I argue that the anticipated rise in fossil fuel demand in China and India will help us to adapt to climate change. If forward looking entrepreneurs anticipate that real fossil fuel prices will rise over time, then they have an incentive to find substitutes. If these substitutes are cleaner than fossil fuels (i.e renewables) then we can achieve the win-win of economic growth without exacerbating GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. In this sense; the belief in "Peak Oil" helps us to simultaneously mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Texas taxes drive oil price rally

LONDON - Oil bulls risk mistaking tax-driven changes in crude inventories and a temporary rise in heating demand for a lasting transformation in the outlook.

Oil falls below $89 despite US crude supplies drop

SINGAPORE – Oil prices dropped below $89 a barrel Wednesday in Asia, extending losses from the previous session despite signs U.S. crude demand may be improving.

A Crude Theory

As the oil price rises, so does Russian belligerence.

Lebanon urges UN to curb Israel offshore drilling

BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon's foreign minister on Tuesday asked the United Nations to curb Israel's offshore drilling plans, days after a US firm announced the discovery of a large field off the Jewish state's coastline.

"We request you do everything possible to ensure Israel does not exploit Lebanon's hydrocarbon resources, which fall within Lebanon's economic zone as delineated in the maps the foreign ministry submitted to the United Nations in 2010," Foreign Minister Ali Shami said in a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

No need for more OPEC oil - Kuwait

(Reuters) - Kuwait's oil minister said on Wednesday he considered oil at $80 to $100 a barrel to be a "fair price" and did not expect OPEC to increase output in the first half of this year.

Child scavenges for family's survival in Afghanistan

Kabul (CNN) -- Five-year-old Marjan sniffles from the cold as she struggles under her load. Hoisted on her back is a bag almost as big as she is.

Instead of going to school, Marjan scavenges for hours with her 10-year-old aunt collecting trash. It is a heavy burden for such a small child but a necessary one. The trash she collects is what her family uses as fuel for cooking and, more importantly, to fend off Kabul's bitter winter.

It is a matter of life and death for someone so young. Last winter, Marjan's baby brother died from the cold.

Murder in Islamabad: Pakistan's Deepening Religious Divide

The citizens of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province, were in shock: their governor, Salman Taseer, had been shot to death, allegedly by one of his bodyguards, while walking through a marketplace in the country's capital, Islamabad. Minutes after the news got out, members of Taseer's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) took to the streets of the Punjabi capital of Lahore in anger. Protesters burned tires and shouted slogans against Taseer's assassin. One man wearing the PPP's red, black and green colors forced a shopkeeper to lower his shutters, screaming that no one would be allowed to do business on the day a party leader was killed. Besides grief, the furor stemmed from political frustration. Taseer was Punjab's most visible member of the PPP, which, under Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, slipped into crisis with a tenuous hold on the central government just before the outspoken governor was murdered.

Drinking Austerity Kool-Aid in 2011

Another worry related to the potential diminution of spending power is the troublesome rise in crude prices. Net demand is not up appreciably, and Saudi production remains relatively low. Peak oil dynamics could well be at work here. In a broader sense, what Paul Krugman describes — “we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices” — could well prove accurate. Which, in the absence of countervailing support to incomes via fiscal policy or increased private sector activity that increases jobs, means cuts in other areas of discretionary spending. Hardly a healthy trend in a world still constrained by inadequate demand. Crude prices are already up enough to be a substantial tax on US consumers that has probably more than offset whatever aggregate demand might have been added by the latest tax package.

Coal's burnout: Have investors moved on to cleaner energy sources?

The headline news for the coal industry in 2010 was what didn't happen: Construction did not begin on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year.

This in a nation where a fleet of coal-fired plants generates nearly half the electricity used.

But a combination of low natural gas prices, shale gas discoveries, the economic slowdown and litigation by environmental groups has stopped - at least for now - groundbreaking on new ones.

Can Warren Buffett Stop the Spread of Nuclear Weapons?

Four years after making that initial donation, Buffett recently saw the first dividends come in. On Dec. 5, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously approved the creation of a nuclear fuel bank overseen by the U.N. that would offer countries that agree to pursue nonmilitary nuclear programs a guaranteed source of fuel for their atomic reactors. The vote took months of diplomatic wrangling even after funds were raised to match Buffett's original 2006 donation of $50 million, which he offered on the condition that the additional $100 million required to buy the first stockpile of nuclear fuel come from other sources. With the help of an Obama Administration that has put nuclear nonproliferation at the top of its foreign-policy agenda, several countries chipped in — including $32 million from the European Union, $5 million from Norway, $10 million from Kuwait and another $10 million from the United Arab Emirates (which feels threatened by Iran and wants U.S. support for its own nascent nuclear-energy program).

Merkel's Nuclear Embrace Earns Derision as German Clean Power Costs Climb

The solar panels on Tommy Clever’s house in Berlin generate enough electricity on sunny days to run his washing machine, vacuum cleaner and other appliances, with a bit left over to help power the region’s factories and offices.

Clever likes the arrangement. He gets 51 euro cents ($0.68) per kilowatt-hour for any electricity his solar rooftop feeds back into the grid, which is about 10 times the wholesale price paid to coal or nuclear plant owners. The payment rate, mandated by the government, stays in effect for 20 years and gives him an annual return of about 9 percent on his investment in the photovoltaic setup, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its February issue.

“It’s been better than putting money in the bank,” the 39-year-old environmental consultant says.

Detroit's Big Three automakers post solid 2010 sales

DETROIT — Auto sales rose in the United States last year for the first time since the recession. They're still far from what they were just a few years ago — but that's just fine with the downsized auto industry, which can post profits even if it sells millions fewer cars and trucks.

For the year, new car and truck sales came in at 11.6 million, up 11 percent from last year, automakers reported Tuesday. For December alone, sales were 1.14 million, also up 11 percent from a year earlier.

10 new car companies aiming for the big leagues

Like a big-budget sports team on a free-agent acquisition binge, the car industry has been rapidly acquiring new players. And as there’s no overpriced ball park program for car buyers to work from, we thought we had better put together a guide to the rookies.

As usual, not all of these newcomers are going to make it in the league, but the season is young, optimism is in the air and we will soon see which of them has what it takes to compete in the major leagues.

Navy Receives First Chevy Fuel Cell Vehicles

Even the U.S. military is worried about peak oil and weaning its weapons off of crude oil. A few days ago, the Navy took delivery of Chevy Equinox full-cell vehicles in the Aloha State, Hawaii.

Electric Cars Financially Viable by 2020, Study Reports

According to a recent analysis by Deutsche Bank, electric car battery prices could have dropped so much by 2020 that electric cars will truly be affordable for everyone.

Diary of an electric commuter

FORTUNE -- When an argon-blue Nissan Leaf, the first production all-electric, zero-emission family car to hit the U.S., whispered into my garage last month, I knew instantaneously that it was a game changer. New relationships come with hopes, fears, and surprises, and ours -- the Leaf's and my union -- went quickly from blind date to a marriage of convenience.

Skateboarders aim to flip commuter bans

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — To most, skateboarding is a sport featuring half-pipes and high-flying riders performing daredevil tricks.

To Ryan Seymour, it represents something much more basic: transportation. He would like to commute to his job managing the city-run Food Lion Skatepark in downtown Asheville, from his apartment in the nearby Montford neighborhood.

We should have listened

This past year marked 31 years since Carter's “moral declaration of war” against imported oil energy. Coincidentally, it also marked the year both the EIA and IEA publicly confirmed Shell geophysicist M.K. Hubbert's and Carter's oil peak timelines. Global production of conventional oil has plateaued since 2005-06. Peak Oil has arrived. Take off the tin foil hats, boys and girls, it's really here, right on time, just as calculated back in 1974.

'Peak Oil' Doesn't Matter

The debate about moving away from fossil fuels is not just a battle between resource optimism and gloomy pessimism. Or even between economic triumphalism and the harsh reality of pressure on all resources as a billion people enter the middle class (see the recent concerns about the availability of rare earth metals, for example).

No, this is about much larger issues. Even if you skip over the risks of fossil-fuel extraction (BP spill, anyone?), or the cost to business of relying on volatilely-priced inputs, how can you discuss oil and not even mention two rather inconvenient, but enormous, problems: climate change and global security.

Peak Fertilizer?

The theory known as “Peak Oil” became popular a few years ago when mainstream media outlets caught on to the concept that there was a finite supply of crude oil in the earth and at some point production would reach past the pinnacle.

Today, a similar theory is being applied to the fertilizer industry: “Peak Fertilizer.” This concept is gaining strength in the agriculture industry and could have significant ramifications for the industry.

Family planning helps women … and slows climate change

We now know that meeting women's needs for family planning not only strengthens the health and rights of families around the world, but will also help slow dangerous climate change.

Recent research suggests that simply meeting existing "unmet need" would deliver up to one-seventh of the carbon reductions essential to slow global warming, and at a very low cost. With women empowered to plan their pregnancies, the world's population grows more slowly, as do carbon emissions.

Finding the Fingerprints of Climate Change in Storm Damage -- a Very Long Detective Story

Hurricanes could become more prevalent with climate change, but the economic pain they deliver might not be recognized as man-made for 260 years.

That means smashed homes and ruined roads may not be attributable to greenhouse gases for centuries, according to new research that suggests climate policies like adaptation should be designed without financial evidence of climate-enhanced windstorms.

Scientist proves conservatism and belief in climate change aren't incompatible

MIT professor Kerry Emanuel is among a rare breed of conservative scientists who are sounding the alarm for climate change and criticizing Republicans' 'agenda of denial' and 'anti-science stance.'

Why dire climate warnings boost scepticism

Upsetting people's innate belief that the world is a fair place could make them less likely to take action on climate change.

China may need 300 years to beat desertification

BEIJING (AFP) – Huge population pressures, scarce rainfall and climate change have made China the world's biggest victim of desertification, a problem that could take 300 years to reverse, state media said Wednesday.

Overgrazing, excessive land reclamation and inappropriate water use also make it especially difficult to halt deserts from encroaching on large areas of land in the nation's arid north and west, the China Daily reported.

    Premiere: Prophets of Doom (airing tonight on The History Channel)

Three futurists look to the past and propose different theories on how America will decline, and ultimately meet its end.
   Nate Hagens and Jim Kunstler are among those interviewed.

An great post from Michael E. Lynch: Will 2011 see another crude oil price spike to $150/bbl?
Note: This is not cornucopian Michael C. Lynch.

Almost 3 years have gone by since the $147/bbl crude spike in the summer of 2008. Somewhere around 10 million bbl/day of 2008 capacity has disappeared since then. Only the steady efforts of about 4,000 drilling rigs operating worldwide around the clock have been able to make up most of that decline. Whether or not OPEC has shut-in capacity of 5.4 million bbl/day is arguable. OPEC rig count has remained at high levels since 2008. The evidence is that they are drilling for production. This view is supported by the reality that without massive, expensive fieldwide redevelopment projects, OPEC production would be falling rather than remaining relatively constant.

It appears that mainstream oil analyst are now questioning OPEC's spare capacity and their ability to produce massive amounts of new oil in the future.

Some observers think the worldwide annual decline rate has remained at 4.5%/year for 30 years. Others think that huge redevelopment projects now underway all over the world speed up the rate. One analysis made in 2009 suggested the true rate was 6.7%/year. It is quite possible that the 2011 decline rate has already passed 7.0%/year.

Superstraws are actually increasing the rate of decline over the long run but decrease the decline rate over the short run since they simply pull the oil out a lot faster. So it is not surprising at all that the decline rate could pass 7% per year. 7% percent of all liquids is 6 million barrels per day, 7% of C+C is 5.1 million barrels per day. According to Wikipedia Megaprojects we will be replacing about half that amount.

Mr. Lynch was responding to this Reuters article by Christopher Swann which appeared in The New York Times. Oil Bulls Should Take Closer Look at Supply He replies: "He may be right. I think he is wrong." It is good to know that at least one oil cornucopians blather is now being reputed by a major oil analyst and energy consultant.

Ron P.

But doesn't this conflict with Stuart's graph, that shows rig count falling off, suggesting Aramco, at least, isn't have any trouble maintaining production?

Stuart's rig count chart was only for Saudi Arabia, not all OPEC. Saudi increased rig count beginning in 2005. Rig count increased from about 20 to about 50. When oil prices dropped Saudi rig count pulled back to about 30. (Now 32 according to the chart.) They are still well above their 2004 levels. However there is no doubt that many of those rigs were preparing to bring Khurais on line.

However I have no doubt that since Khurais coming on line that they have little trouble maintaining current production levels. Saudi is now producing 1.25 mb/d less than they produced at their 2008 peak and about .75 mb/d barrels per day less than their average for 2008. So really? We know that their old fields are declining, they have admitted such. (I will not post those links here because I have done so so many times in the past.) It is likely that their production capacity has fallen since 2008 but with Khurais they are holding their own.

Now what about the rest of OPEC? That is the question. Saudi is the only one with a Khurais. Also I have no doubt that Iran, barring more conflict, can increase production almost as fast as production declines in Iran.

Ron P.

It's also possible that their exploratory drilling results were disappointing. But in any case, from the point of view of oil importing countries, it doesn't really matter whether the huge decline* in post-2005 Saudi net oil exports was voluntary or mostly involuntary.

*The cumulative shortfall between what Saudi Arabia would have net exported at their 2005 annual rate and what they actually net exported is in excess of two billion barrels of oil (through 2010).

According to Wikipedia Megaprojects we will be replacing about half that amount.

Listed there are only fields that produce at least 10 kbp.
The question is how much the new fields with < 10.000 bopd contribute ? For example: 200 fields that produce 5000 bpd is an extra 1 mbd. Another factor, what about the economics of the very small fields ? Sure there will be differences from country to country and if a IOC or NOC is operating. Does anyone have an educated guess how much 'extra oil' this could bring on stream ?

Does anyone have an educated guess how much 'extra oil' this could bring on stream ?

Don't have a clue but I must point out that the Wikipedia Megaprojects is also only an educated guess. Often these projects come on line years late and under estimate. And though we usually do know when OPEC's megaprojects come on line, we never know how much they produce. Manifa will come on line in 2013, a full four years late and who knows how much they will actually produce. No one knows how much Khurais is producing but I heard a rumor that it is producing less than 600 kb/d.

Ron P.

i have never figured out how anyone expects megaprojects to make a decent forecast without back testing(also known as history matching). the foamy at the mouth doomers are blind, well at least half blind. some by choice, imo.

but really, megaprojects is probably way too much work for way too little results. the same could probably be achieved with an analysis of key company budgets.

Megaprojects must be a good base for prediction of future production. This huge projects that is known to come online but it is of course not sure they will perform as expected.

The company budgets could also be useful because the spending on projects are expected to profitable.

Megaprojects must be a good base for prediction of future production.

i agree 100%, the missing link is the not-so-mega projects(as han points out). a nsm (not-so-mega) factor would need to be derived by history matching actual production with mega project realizations.

the mega projects approach relies upon assumed decline rates. no problem there, realization is a band of forecasts. the 'nsm' approach would also rely on assumed decline rates(past = future) and produce a range of (hopefully more accurate) realizations.

Megaprojects must be a good base for prediction of future production.

Must be, but reality seems (or seemed) to be different. I found a publication from febr. 2007 from Skrebowski: New capacity fails to boost 2006 production. Megaprojects have delays many times (as Darwinian mentioned) and not seldom is production (far) below expectations.
The publication ends with:

It is only possible to draw two conclusion from this latest megaprojects analysis. First, data on production, project performance and depletion rates is wholly unsatisfactory, particularly for the OPEC producers. Second, the large volumes of new capacity being added between 2007 and 2012 may not translate into the sort of increased production flows the world economy needs to underpin economic growth.

I heard Hofmeister on the radio saying that we (US) can produce 10/MBD.
So far, I've only seen Geology Prof. Kenneth Deffeyes (other than TOD people here) actually show numbers to back up his position. Where people come up with 10/MBD is beyond my ability to grasp (?)fantasy(?).

Talking points to Sow Doubt about the US Peak.. turn it into a 'two-sided debate' again.. as ludicrous as this might seem to us here.

Delay, delay, delay, to try to create investment climate.

Well if we don't care about how much it costs, we could probably produce 10Mbpd. But why would we want to? The whole point is to lower prices, right?

Even if we opened up ANWR, I don't see how we could ever hit such high number. That is just propaganda fed to people that will believe it because they want to believe it.

Subsidy reform saves Iran $1b in energy costs

TEHRAN – Iran saved over $1 billion in energy costs in the first 15 days of the subsidy reform plan.

Statistics compiled by the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company indicate that gasoline consumption declined about three million liters per day, which is a 4.5 percent drop compared to the same period the year before.

About 59.1 million liters of gasoline has been consumed per day during this period.

Diesel oil consumption in the period declined 28 percent on average compared to the previous year, dropping to 80.3 million liters a day.

...“The country’s wealth and energy belongs to the people, and the optimal situation will be created when people participate in the management of the national wealth and the country’s affairs,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said prior to the implementation of the plan.

That is an interestingly short article at the Tehran Times.

I wonder how much is being left unsaid?

Police in Iran streets as subsidies are cut

Published December 18, 2010

TEHRAN, Iran – The Iranian government sent squads of riot police to man the major intersections of the capital as sensitive cuts in energy and food subsidies came into effect Sunday.

Eye witnesses reported a heavy police presence in the squares and junctions of Tehran such as Enghelab square and Sadeghieh and Valiasr squares as well as some western neighborhoods of the city, though so far the city has been quiet.

In 2007, angry protesters set dozens of gas stations on fire after the government imposed a new system of gasoline rationing to cut down on access to heavily subsidized fuel.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said late Saturday that the cuts in essential subsidies were the "biggest surgery" to the nation's economy in half a century.

After the president announced the cuts late Saturday, long lines of cars were seen at several gas stations in Tehran as Iranians rushed to fill their tanks at subsidized prices before the new ones took effect at midnight.

I like to keep an eye on how other countries are handling their "austerity" measures to get an idea of 1) how much 'pain' can the public tolerate, and 2) what forms of civil disobedience.

Europe and developing countries (see Leanan's links on Spain and Pakistan above) are starting their austerity measures earlier than the US so we get a preview of what is likely to come to our shores soon enough.

Yes, I watched Press TV interviewing Iranians when the measures were brought in. Most they showed were actually against - especially the taxi drivers. They then ran a debate where the seemingly official view was put that "if we don't do something now we'll not be exporting anything in ten years or so". Interesting.

It sounds like this is one case where the Iranian government is being completely honest and transparent. How ironic considering the propaganda we get fed here in the land of the free, home of the brave.

You can also look on it as illustrating why they need police on the street and strict enforcement. Of course they want the world to see what those terrible sanctions are doing. They will be totally honest about it, what they won't say is what else they will use that for.


WARNING: The above contains snark.

They do need police on the streets. And I suppose we will too soon enough.

I wonder how stict of "enforcement" we might need here in the US, and if we will need the military to control the situation in some parts of the country.

If I remember correctly, there was marshall law in some states during the Great Depression. And of course there was the civil unrest of the 60s and the national guard was called out in some cases.

But it sounds like the US Attorney General and the Pentagon both expect it to get so bad that we will have home-grown terrorists and might need more than just the National Guard to control the situation here at home.

I suspect the transition, at least at first, will be seamless.

Quietly but surely, the U.S. has become the largest, most effective police state on planet Earth. We already incarcerate the most people - both per capita, and total number. We spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined.



Most Americans have become so used to this that they barely give it a second thought. We would welcome the military into our streets and homes, to keep us safe from "the terrorists," blacks, Mexicans, and of course the rest of our fellow citizens no matter what race or background they may be.

No, that's not the problem. Keep your eyes on the big picture. The problem is cost overrun. No degree of militarization can fix this. The whole enchilada - America itself - has to come crashing down at some point.

My honest belief is that nobody living in the U.S. is safe or immune to this. I truly wish I could say differently.

UK December was coldest for at least 100 years

Last month was the coldest December documented for the UK since nationwide records began 100 years ago, the Met Office has confirmed.

For central England, it was the second coldest December since 1659.

However, the first analysis released of global temperatures shows 2010 was one of the warmest years on record.

The UK's harsh weather was caused by anomalously high air pressure that blocked mild westerly winds and brought cold air south from the Arctic.

The provisional monthly Met Office figures show the UK temperature averaged -1C - a long way below the previous coldest December, in 1981, which registered -0.1C.

The December average for the century-long series is 4.2C.

I've been following some discussion on weather sites about what typically happens after a very cold December in the UK from historical records. Most usually, slightly colder than normal January, much colder February - possible record breaking end of the world type snow-falls late Feb/March. Sounds lovely but anything can happen really :)

Basing predictions of UK winter temperatures on historical patterns seems a little silly after yesterday's news that the Atlantic currents are changing.

Atlantic Circulation On the Fasttrack for Change

As my colleague, Mr. Cox, pointed out in the above blog post, the term global warming is a misnomer in many senses. Humanity faces global climate destabilization. The weather patterns our agriculture and industry have adapted to over the centuries are changing rapidly.

In his book Collapse, Jared Diamond, points out many examples of civilizations failing to adapt to climatic changes. Weather changes in the north contributed heavily to the demise of the Vikings in Greenland, for example.

Historical UK records include periods where atypical patterns such as seen this year have been seen before. The meteorologists trawling the records have been looking for such winters. Accurate UK CET (Central England Temperature) records go back to 1659. And this December's pattern is not unique in that series.

But as I said anything can happen but probabilities from past winters may still offer a guide,

It has to be unique to some extent since ice loss was at a record low in June last year and is currently at its lowest extent at the beginning of January. It has to be unique because the Labrador current is slowing down. Perhaps the tools that Meteorologists use do not show the present patterns as exceptional but that is only because the tools are not finely tuned -- their seasonal predictions have gone so wildly awry that the UK Mets refuse to make predictions anymore.

I am just mad that La Nina didn't bring me a slightly warmer winter like it has in most past years.

There continues to be significant excess heat storage in the Arctic Ocean at the end of summer due to continued near-record sea ice loss. There is evidence that the effect of higher air temperatures in the lower Arctic atmosphere in fall is contributing to changes in the atmospheric circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes. Winter 2009-2010 showed a new connectivity between mid-latitude extreme cold and snowy weather events and changes in the wind patterns of the Arctic; the so-called Warm Arctic-Cold Continents pattern...With future loss of sea ice, such conditions as winter 2009-2010 could happen more often.

It has to be unique to some extent since ice loss was at a record low in June last year and is currently at its lowest extent at the beginning of January. It has to be unique because the Labrador current is slowing down. Perhaps the tools that Meteorologists use do not show the present patterns as exceptional but that is only because the tools are not finely tuned

You have arctic sea ice records going back to 1659? We're also at an exceptional solar minimum sunspot cycle which has happened before - just about the time the CET records started being recorded. There's discussion about the effects on the jet which I won't try to summarize (well not without more reading). Note none of this conflicts with medium term global warming.

The Met Office were idiots putting out forecasts with words such as "barbecue summer" based on a projected only slightly higher probability of warmth than cold. The probability forecasts are still on the Met Office website but it is stressed these are experimental and not suitable for dumbed down soundbytes the Met Office itself used to use because they let complete idiots in PR make the decision.

You have arctic sea ice records going back to 1659?

I haven't checked the validity of this paper. I didn't really consider to be controversial until you posted that question and I checked past research papers.

History of sea ice in the Arctic

The current reduction in Arctic ice cover started in the late 19th century, consistent with the rapidly warming climate, and became very pronounced over the last three decades. This ice loss appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years and unexplainable by any of the known natural variabilities.

Hat-tip to Open Mind blog

I'm not debating that we are likely seeing recent enhanced ice loss due to global warming. However the paper points out the best we can do is attempt reconstruction by proxy of records prior to relatively recently.

From the paper then

Note that huge drop down again just about the time the CET started being recorded reliably. Also note the period approx 1450-1600.

We really can't say (as far as I know) with any certainty that there were not periods of a few years with actual arctic ice extent lower than today in recorded history. Again I am not challenging the general recent warming - just saying that conditions may not be too far away from conditions in recorded history at extreme times - for now anyway.

That commentary is a bit off. The first video showing the THC sinking puts the location of the main sinking in the wrong location. That is, most of the sinking happens farther to the north in the Nordic Seas and the Arctic Ocean, aka, the Arctic Mediterranean. There's no mention of the importance of the sea-ice cycle around the Antarctic as the source of the dense waters which sink in that area.

As for Diamond, his claim that the Vikings were wiped out by a major shift in climate has not been proven. Archeological studies suggest that the Vikings packed up and moved away, since there is no evidence that they died in place. However, the Vikings likely would not have survived a short term event such as that called The Year Without a Summer, which happened in 1816 and which was caused by the eruption of the Tambora volcano, which added to the effects of another large event a few years before. There was a very strong eruption at Kuwae in 1459, which produced similar short term cooling as recorded in various historical records. The impact of the 1459 event appears in many records, including the now famous "Hockey Stick" graph of tree ring data. If there were Vikings still residing in Greenland at the time, their fate would have been sealed, IMHO...

E. Swanson

It has always seemed to me that the failure of the Norse settlements in Greenland was largely due to the loss of trade from Europe. The Greenland settlements were last heard from in 1410. The Black Death arrived in Bergen, Norway, in 1349, and from that date on trade with Greenland became very irregular, and after the Greenland knoerr (the one ship trading regularly with Greenland) was lost somewhere between 1367 and 1380 there were no further deliberate visits to Greenland.

The Greenland settlements were unable to build their own vessels -- they had no wood -- and they depended on trade for quite a few items they could not produce locally, perhaps most importantly anything metal. Iron tools and weapons were essential, and they had no iron ore and no charcoal. There is coal in West Greenland, but it is a long way from the Norse settlements, and I've seen no suggestion the settlers used it.

Bergen had a royal monopoly on trade with Greenland, and by 1400 that city was so depopulated by the Black death that it could barely sustain the much more important trade with Iceland.

Climate change did not help the Norse, but the loss of trade with Norway was probably the death blow. The eastern settlement struggled on for a few decades after the last ship, but could not survive without trade for very long.

The importance of contact between small settlements and larger centers of civilization tends to be forgotten today.

Today we consider it business and commerce, but the word "trade" probably better captures the needs -- to trade something you happen to have a lot of for valuable stuff that others have has lots of that you don't.

The interesting question to me is what the Greenlanders had there that they didn't have originally at home. Freedom? Land? Food?

The norwegian fjords have extremely finite soil at their bases. So little that many farms are abandoned now because they can not be run profitably.

Norway has 2% arable land, a number that somewhat astounded me when I researched it. Iceland would have even less I would guess.

Farms = food, food equals kids, kids equals overpopulation.

Being a viking was a decent career choice, Norway had excellent boat building skills, better than almost anyone else's in the world at the time, except maybe some North West Coast Native Americans and South Sea Islanders I'd guess.

Norway does have a lot of good wood, which means boats. And pine tar, to seal those boats up.

They were also excellent seafarers, keep in mind the average viking ship was comparable to a large lifeboat in size. They are still excellent seafarers.

Now imagine all these factors, and subtract things like iPxx devices, cellphones, brain numbing television and video games, and imagine you are a young man who was raised on the sea, but you can't really take over your dad's farm because your oldest brother already has that right.

Then imagine a sport like say, football, only where you play for real and for life, not as a game. The team you form is made up of other young tough men who also were raised this way, and the game is sailing to what may be greener pastures. Or looting/raping/pillaging the Southern suckers, lol...

This would roughly sum up why. A few other reasons, sometimes if you had messed up and killed the wrong person, and couldn't settle it any other way, you had to leave, ie, banishment. I think if I remember right, at least some of the settlers went out from Iceland to Greenland and beyond (remember, vikings island hopped, shetlands, faeroia, iceland, greenland, vineland(aka newfoundland I think) because of legal problems like that.

The interesting question to me is what the Greenlanders had there that they didn't have originally at home. Freedom? Land? Food?

Land, but in the sense of "authority over" rather than as a means of production. The settlements were established as part of the Viking Expansion. Scandinavia experienced a "youth bulge" in its population at that time. If you were the second or third son of the local chief, you (a) weren't going to inherit anything and (b) were considered dangerous because you might try using violence to change (a). It was not uncommon for Dad to outfit you and a group of others in similar straits with a ship and weapons and send you off to bother someone else. Once established, you could send back for women and such, and to set up trading arrangements. There's no evidence that Scandinavia was overpopulated at that time in terms of land for production; just short on land where you could be the boss.

Off topic, this was the period when the English language began to shed gender for nouns. As The Story of English has it, a number of such second sons settled in the northeast of England after sailing up a river, killing one or another of the local lordlings, and proclaiming themselves the new authority. Rather than learn the somewhat arbitrary English noun genders, the new lord just used "the" for everything. The peasantry, in light of the new lord's demonstrated willingness to dispose of inconvenient people, were not about to point out the error, and adopted the same practice. IIRC, this was eventually regarded as a useful simplification in other parts of England as well, and became common practice over the course of 100 years or so.

mccain, not to argue, but until very recently, there was no such thing as Scandinavia in those Northern countries, so be careful of abstractions like that. What there were were your local fjord or valley. And those were very finite in terms of land.

This was especially the case in Norway, where the landscape is very extreme, and the norm was for one valley (dal) to never even communicate with the next one over due to the difficulty of crossing over the mountains that separated you. This resulted in very strong dialect differences which only very recently began to smooth over as roads, radio, tv, etc, began to form what you are thinking of, modern unified scandinavia. That entity certainly did not exist in the times we are talking about. Back then, you were from your small chunk of valley/fjord, period.

Imagine rock walls with waterfalls cascading down, 1000s of feet high, with a narrow strip of land at the bottom you might farm, and you have a picture of many west coast fjords.

Take a trip there sometime and you'll see, check out the Western Fjords, it's an eye opener.

Again, avoid abstractions. If you lived on a farm on a fjord, there was and is no land to expand to, and you can't divide the farm, it's already too small as it is, leading to some of the issues you note, which I'm sure were also part of the scenario.

There are also a few areas where the landholdings can be much larger, and I suspect that some of the causes you outlined certainly would have been valid, you can see some of those much larger farms there today, still with their extra worker houses etc. But given the diversity of ecosystems and resources and the extreme variations in geography overall, I would really hesitate to generalize too much about the actual motivations, which I suspect varied widely, though I definitely understand the mindset of taking off into the North Sea, the salt spray hitting your face, the thrill of challenges that will push you to your very limits, etc.

Not much has changed today, those same people settled Minnesota, manned the North Sea drilling rigs, filled the oceans of the world with expert mariners, etc. So you don't really have to get too complicated or political when explaining this stuff, Norwegians just like the sea, they relate to it, and they tend to not be scared of it.

I just got back from a trip where among other things I visited the Lofoten Islands, where it was normal to ROW out in rowboats in WINTER in the North Sea to fish for cod, not all that long ago. Sometimes they'd use little sails too. Not a great job, that's for sure. Those boats were more or less small versions of viking ships, same basic construction style, give or take nails and such modern touches.

Now they use industrial metal fishing boats mostly, and the Cod are nearly fished out. Funny that....

If you lived on a farm on a fjord, there was and is no land to expand to, and you can't divide the farm, it's already too small as it is, leading to some of the issues you note, which I'm sure were also part of the scenario.

The norwegians made the wrong bet. The swedes used the much better wide streched land in Finland, wich were only populated by the finns and they caused no problem, you need cheap labor force on your settlements. And my own forfathers the danes conquered Britannia. It is ironic that the norwegians living on the hardest most ruff land on the scandinavian peninsula got the hardest of all settlements - Greenland. Bad luck two stokes in a row. OTOH they may have been the only vikings hard enough to take it on?

So-If the Vikings packed up and moved-where would they have tried to move to? Is there any good evidence they got there?

IIrc, there is good evidence they were in a dire spot for food near the end,as evidenced by butchered remains of their livestock.

You may recall in Diamond's book, the Vikings suffered from what the Norse still suffer from, incredible arrogance, and stubborness.

In Greenland, they had formed some type of taboo against eating fish, which if you live on a Fjord where the grass takes forever to regrow after you mow it for your sheep and to thatch your roofs, is not one of the wisest choices you can make. Diamond speculated it might be because at one time they got poisoned by rotten fish, but whatever the reason was, banning fish from your diet in the far north when you live directly on the sea is just not a good idea.

Also, the climate got colder if I remember right, and the Greenland Norse also stubbornly refused to learn from the natives, who they called skrællinger if I remember right, a highly non-flattering term. I believe relations were unfriendly as well, the Norse being at fault. Not a great idea when dealing with people who probably used cooperation and mutual aid as a survival tool. So the Inuit I assume grew to hate the Norse as well, and the Norse returned the favor by vanishing as the climate cooled, the fields became unable to sustain sheep/cow agriculture (talk about a stupid choice by the way, something Greenland has persisted in trying despite being far too far North do that).

Diamond did a really good job with the Norse in Greenland, I was impressed.

The same arrogance, by the way, created big problems for the Vineland Norse, who decided I believe to piss off the Natives up there too and to try to maintain a colony with almost no supply lines.

Sometimes this arrogance works out ok, like when they decided they could actually drill for oil in the North Sea.

Also keep in mind some simple facts: Iceland and Greenland as far as I know don't have pine trees big enough to make boats out of. Vineland did, which I think was one reason they tried to get there. Trade lines were stretched too far, and the Vikings didn't adapt to their local ecosystems at all. That's the stubborness and arrogance again, always bites you in the @$$ eventually. No trees meant no new boats.

and the Greenland Norse also stubbornly refused to learn from the natives, who they called skrællinger if I remember right, a highly non-flattering term.

"skrællinger" means "the noisy one". "Skräll" still exists as a word in swedish and means "big noise", like when something hard and heavy hits the ground.

In norse litterature the "skrællinger" is mentioned only twise, one of those instanses the observation that they bleed strangely when you cut them with a knife. Hows that for diplomacy?

Regarding you ranting about "norse arrogance", it is not like americans don't run around the rest of the world thinking they are still in the US, qouting the constitution when explaining why they have the right to do certain things etc. I have a theory that all ethnic groups think they are the best in the world, they just do it in different ways.

Iceland was hit by the Black Death much later than Europe, due to the distance. The first wave to reach Iceland apparently hit between 1402 and 1404 and may have killed half the population. As a result, the Greenland colonist may have simply given up on Greenland, as their main export, walrus ivory, was no longer in demand in Europe (WIKI says: Over 60% of Norway's population died from 1348 to 1350.). They may have moved back to Iceland to take advantage of all those empty farms, etc. Just my WAG, since there's no historical reference that I'm aware of. The Icelanders still have a beverage called "Black Death"...

Edit: Consider what might have happened in a scenario much like the Year Without A Summer. The Norse in Greenland were pastoral, that is, they relied on their animals for food. As a result, they put great effort into growing, harvesting and storing fodder for those cows, sheep and goats. If there were a series of summer cold spells which killed their crops and the grasses used for winter feed, they would see this clearly by the end of summer. They would know they couldn't feed their animals and themselves over the winter. At the same time, the yearly sea-ice cycle would have been at a minimum and access to the sea might still be possible. Is it logical to think that they would have sat on their hands and awaited starvation?

I found a report yesterday which presented the results of a DNA analysis of the dirt taken at one farm site. The authors evidence showed what sort of changes occurred in the animals which lived on top of that land, beginning with reindeer before the arrival of the Norse and continuing past their residence. One conclusion I found interesting was a shift from cattle to sheep and then goats as the main source of DNA. I recall reading that goats can have particularly devastating impacts on pastures, since they will eat almost everything. There was another report which I saw about the excavation of a Norse house site in which a goat skeleton was found inside, apparently having died there. One might conclude that the Norse change from cattle to goats might have produced overgrazing of the fragile landscape, thus forcing the Norse to move elsewhere...

Edit #2: Digging further, I found many references to soil erosion due to grazing as a contributing factor in the disappearance of the Norse colonies in Greenland. As an aside, here's what the area looks like now, including a link to Google Earth for a satellite view...

E. Swanson

Have a question

Does renewable/alternative energy at the same price as oil have the same economic impact? It seems to me high oil prices result in significant wealth transfer from consumers at large to a relatively small number of oil producers. Sure in time those oil producers use some of that money to purchase goods and services but add back corruption and the fact that the goods and services may not be purchased from the consumers who paid the higher oil prices and you have a serious mismatch.

Contrast that with renewable/alternative energy sources. A large part of its cost is services purchased from other consumers of energy. So the money flows are more easily re-circulated in a closed loop. The lost purchasing power from higher energy cost is made up by higher incomes for those involved in its production.

One point to consider, all things being equal, is that they don't STAY equal.. that is to say, that you buy your alt energy system at a given price, and those energy costs are essentially fixed from that purchase.

Burned fuels are vulnerable now to strong price changes.. so the issue is in large part the hedge you make in your RE purchase that the traditional sources are likely at this point to start costing more, OR that through supply inconsistencies, they will cost YOU more from inconveniences and having to buy emergency power and make extraneous efforts to get by.

I realize the point you wanted to focus on is how these funds spent actually work in the economy.. It seems to me that they will travel through the financial sector initially in the form of loans and refinanced mortgages, as opposed to a steady flow right into the energy sector.. but I don't know how to follow that path and predict the differences, except to say that you do have a much more clear set of choices about the RE suppliers (and their nationalities, etc), and the Financial Institutions you prefer to work with.. since the Equipment and the Funds aren't as geographically constrained as our key energy supplies currently are.

Finally, don't forget the unaccounted and nebulous externalities, like the reduced pollution and ultimate changes in healthcare issues, or perhaps social stability that could derive from the decrease in external dependences that would be out there, and might be too challenging to add up or even to prove, but that in aggregate could be significant factors in the world around you..

Re the Huffington Post article and the Jeff Rubin piece to me the westtexas comment:

If we assume Chindia's net imports were about 8 mbpd, then "Available" net oil exports, i.e., the volume of global net oil exports not consumed by China + India, would have fallen from about 41 mbpd in 2005 to about 35 mbpd in 2010.

summarizes the future of the western world (for Europe in particular see the news about the Russia-China oil pipeline). The eventual or past date of peak oil production is irrelevant to the U.S. - Americans are already living in a post peak world. We're on an oil diet that began in 2008 and will become increasingly restrictive until our digestive system permanently adjusts to starvation mode.

Through trade and currency surpluses and the capturing of greater percentages of the flow of commodities and industrial capacity, China and India have attained economic momentum that could take them to consumption of 30-40% of the world's available oil exports within a few short decades if not a few years.

What this will look like on the ground is the final success of the "Reagan Revolution" in completely eradicating the middle class in the U.S. A lean, energy efficient and oil-independent future will support a class of jet-setting super rich heavily invested in stateless multinational export-focused businesses on the one hand, and the working poor riding bicycles to their minimum wage, non union jobs on the other.

Very good point.
The US used to be the marginal supplier, then became the marginal consumer but now is neither.


What this will look like on the ground is the final success of the "Reagan Revolution" in completely eradicating the middle class in the U.S. A lean, energy efficient and oil-independent future will support a class of jet-setting super rich heavily invested in stateless multinational export-focused businesses on the one hand, and the working poor riding bicycles to their minimum wage, non union jobs on the other.

Perhaps, but such conditions will most certainly also weed out the weak and possibly give rise to a more hardy breed of freedom fighters who might survive in a hidden underworld to occasionally rise up and strike out at their super rich overlords and just as quickly vanish back into their nether world. My suggestion to the rich in such a world would be to not venture forth from their strongholds after dark unaccompanied by very well armed body guards. I don't see the rich living happy carefree lives in such a world. They will be prisoners of their own devices with high prices on their heads.


To the native Fremen, the fight for survival had long dominated their cultural identity. The brutal environment of Arrakis, necessitated the frugal use of energy and resources, especially water. Additionally, their history with cultural persecution mandated the need for combat knowledge. These two aspects saw them emerge as efficient and hardy warriors, who used their skills and the environment of Arrakis to fend off off-world opponents who often possessed far superior technology and formal training.

Naw, I think we'll see more of a post-consumerist neo feudalism, with major shareholders of multinational corporations playing the part of the nobility, doling out small amounts of modern energy to the American peasant class the way feudal lords provided castle walls, with high definition television entertainment, to steal a line from Calvin and Hobbes, serving in the role of the church to enforce conformity and otherwise acting as the opiate of the masses. The ascetic Fremen lifestyle will never be able to compete. People can live with abject poverty and fruitless toil so long as they have access to Glee and American Idol.

There's a whole world of people in this country who have no interest in all that media glitz, tho, too... they just don't show up because the TV defines its own boundaries. What's outside of it's worldview just doesn't exist.

The Church of the 'Box' doesn't hold everybody.

Regarding the History Channel documentary I'd like to air a grievance/profess my naivety.

When I agreed to be interviewed I was told I was one of numerous experts on various aspects of the opportunities and challenges facing America - the only other person they named was water expert Steve Salomon. I was filmed for one day by myself without knowing who the other people would be and was told the show would be tentatively titled 'The Futurists'. It turns out they only had 6 'experts': a water guy (not Steve), a nuclear terrorist expert, an artificial intelligence expert from China, Mike Ruppert, Jim Kunstler and myself. At this point I no longer wanted to be involved but had already signed the waivers and had 5 hours of video in the vault. The directors were pushing for sensationlist statements/points of view, which I was careful to avoid but when asked a question I can't help to answer it as honestly as possible - will be interesting to see what made the final cut though I have no plans to watch it at present. There were many times I said 'I'm not going to answer that question on camera'. There were also things that were somewhat scripted, though 99% of what I said were my own words.

Ultimately in 14 hours of filming I covered just about every aspect of the things I've studied over the past decade: human behavior (reward pathways/addiction, steep discount rates, belief systems, etc.), net energy, biophysical economics, ecology and environmental source/sink constraints, financial leverage/debt/trade, and many of their interconnections.

I'm pretty upset by the name change to "Prophets of Doom". I don't like the word 'doom' and the word 'prophet' is even worse. I also see there are only '3 futurists' in Leanans blurb instead of the 6 that were filmed. (I will be beyond miffed if they dropped the three scientists...) The lesson I learned is that being interviewed for a television program is very different than a radio interview or town hall speech. There is little control on the end product if the objective is to get viewers/sell advertising not change peoples minds or behaviors. Who knows I might be surprised at how they packaged it, but I won't be doing it again in any case.

Finally, as an aside, the whole experience was a prominent example of real politik in action. Though I was angry/felt tricked during most of the filming, the production crew and other cast, for a very short period became 'my tribe', and I wanted to do/say things to conform and not upset the mutual goal of making a documentary according to executive producers wishes, despite the fact that my gut was screaming otherwise.

I haven't seen any clips and have no idea what the end result will be but am told by the production crew that they are very pleased with the end product. They too were upset by the last minute name change, which happened at the network but think the content overcomes the title.

(No need for big discussion on this I just wanted to explain my involvement in a project titled "Prophets of Doom". I am not predicting doom nor am I a prophet, just a concerned student of these societal threads (though if we don't prepare for potential trade dislocations due to currency reform in near/intermediate future, things could change quickly for the worse)

Bit ironic that you're trying to clean up TOD and give it a more focussed content. Then we find out that you're actually a tv certified Prophet of Doom sandwiched between Ancient Aliens and the Third Antichrist on the History Channel.

Probably the CIA phoned them up and got the name change.

:-) :-)

I wrote a couple of posts on Our Finite World that give my take on what is going on, with respect to collapse, as described in Prophets of Doom.

My series is called The Oil Employment Link. Part 1 shows how oil consumption and employment are linked. US oil consumption in the future is likely to drop in the future, because of declining import availability, so we can expect fewer and fewer non-farm jobs, according to my analysis.

Part 2 relates more to what happens as consumption declines (sounding very much like Prophets of Doom), and offers strategies for mitigation.

a re-run of 'deliverance'(1972) has been on cmt tv the past few days. the character played by burt reynolds, lewis, was a macho-man 'survivalist'. in one scene, he went on about what would happen when the 'system' failed - gives a new take on 'doomer porn'(if you know what i mean).

Finally, as an aside, the whole experience was a prominent example of real politik in action. Though I was angry/felt tricked during most of the filming, the production crew and other cast, for a very short period became 'my tribe', and I wanted to do/say things to conform and not upset the mutual goal of making a documentary according to executive producers wishes, despite the fact that my gut was screaming otherwise.

What fascinates me is the fact that we are capable of so very quickly joining a tribe whose interests are actually contrary to our own and yet we will co-operate with them despite our gut feelings that we should actually be opposing them. I'm sure we have all found ourselves in similar predicaments.


The Origins of Altruism

(Emphasis mine)

"The fact that humans cooperate with non-kin in large groups, or with people they will never meet again, is a long-standing evolutionary puzzle with profound implications. Cooperation is linked to altruism, the capacity to perform costly acts that confer benefits on others. Theoretical approaches had so far disregarded costly acts that do not yield future benefits for the altruist, either directly or indirectly. Recently, strong reciprocity, i.e., the predisposition to cooperate with others and to punish non-cooperators at personal cost, has been proposed as a schema for understanding altruism in humans. While behavioral experiments support the existence of strong reciprocity, its evolutionary origins remain unclear: group and cultural selection are generally invoked to compensate for the negative effects that reciprocity is assumed to have on individuals.

In any case I don't have a TV so I won't be able to watch 'Dr. Nate The Prophet of Doom' in action >;^)

We humans are a eusocial species - depending on environmental cues we slide between cooperation and competition and are usually somewhere in the middle behaviorally. I think what you are driving at is both a risk and an opportunity for the situation facing humanity. Ie. if environmental cues are just right, very quickly people will move towards the cooperative side of spectrum, despite a lowering of all living standards, etc. The risk is if standards aren't lowered equally - then all sorts of 'out-groups' are created/imagined.

Group selection/altruism a rich area of research and inquiry and relevant to our future for sure.

Nate, I believe cooperation evolved the same way everything else did: by chance. The question is not why one gene evolved over another since all genes are equally improbable. They are all here due to random events. The question is, once a particular gene evolved, what can it exploit? Fitness is a measure of exploitation, after all. I suspect that any altruistic gene/gene combination is exploiting the resulting social group itself. This preserves the requirement that a gene only exists to preserve the individual possessing that gene.

I did my master's thesis on a simulation of the Prisoners' Dilemma which supported the evolution of altruistic communities. A synopsis exists at the following URL. You may find it interesting.



I intend to visit a friend tonight who has satellite tv just so I can see this show-seeing that I see Nate as "one of my tribe".

If any other regulars here happen to have occasion to be on tv, I hopw we will hear about it so we can tune in.

How lucky can you get "OFM" there isn't a house around here for 5 miles that I can go to, and i would love to see that presentation.

The "Prophets Of Doom" phrase has been vaguely reminding me of something ever since I read it yesterday, and I finally remembered what it was--I was reminded of the "Merchants Of Death" club in "Thank you for smoking."

I think that you guys should embrace the phrase and start selling t-shirts featuring the six of you and the phrase Prophets of Doom.

Here's what Kunstler says. He's a bit surprised at the title as well. Still I'll buy the t-shirts :-)


JHK appears in History Channel program called "The Prophets of Doom." Broadcast 9pm (EST) Wednesday Jan 5. Big WTF on the title. When they asked me to sit for blabbery, the program was originally titled "The Futurists." Obviously, they went for the sensationalist approach. I hope they didn't put UFOs in it.

Anyway, I have theater tickets for Wednesday night.

The lack of self-awareness in his comments is startling.

"Big WTF on the title."


"Obviously, they went for the sensationalist approach."

The implication is JHK has never cared for sensationalism.

..the electric grid is going to be in deep trouble, and there is no question that the North American natural gas supply is already in depletion {sic}. ...the natural gas pipelines have never been seriously interrupted. ...What will happen to the water pipes in a sixty-story residential building in Chicago if the regional natural gas pipeline does down in February for thirty-six hours? What will happen is that the pipes will burst and every apartment will become uninhabitable. What will happen when the gas pipelines are repressurized and pilots light don't automatically restart in some buildings? It's a recipe for gas explosions. What will happen in a city full of skyscrapers when the electric grid goes out unpredictably for hours at a time? What will happen to people stuck in elevators?...What will happen to the elderly?


Imagine life without insect repellent, air conditioning, and flush toilets.

"The Long {-Delayed} Emergency," 2005.

And "The Iraq War Is Entirely My Doing" wasn't going for the sensationalist approach?

For OpEdNews: Mike Bendzela - Writer

In 1974 I learned how to drive. From that day forward I have squandered the futures of all peoples on the planet. I pissed away their inheritance. Screw 'em.

...George Bush is one forward-looking dude. The deep reserves of petroleum that Jehovah planted for God-fearing American freewheelers are no longer over here but over there. It was a brilliant advertising campaign that promised "yellowcake," "aluminum tubes," and Saddam bin Laden, but that managed to deliver in excess of a hundred thousand barrels of sweet light crude per flag-draped coffin we put up as investment. A real killing, that.

I'm proud to know my own son will have plenty of fuel with which to power his even-larger super-UV in the future, so that he can drive his own kids to Sunday school over in the next state (where it's "Red"). There my grandkids will learn that "fossil" fuels are a silly myth promulgated by secular humanist professors. We all know Jehovah seeded the earth with petroleum reserves on October 24, 2004 B. C. and He will continue to provide.

Or the others for that matter


Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Yes -- Blood For Oil!
(3 comments) The poor dupes were swimming in the oil they hated and didn't even know it.

Monday, January 22, 2007
The Iraq War Is Entirely My Doing
I'm still paying a mere 15 cents per cup of gasoline. Somebody must be doing something right.

Sunday, January 14, 2007
The US is not leaving Iraq
The real reason we went to war in Iraq, and why you know it.

Dude, if your irony-detection kit is that defective, then you really have problems!


BTW, I freely admit that those essays suck. I was tired of the usual "boilerplate" pieces about peak oil and wanted to try something different. But different is not always better. Irony is thin ice to have readers skate on.

How do you know I was being totally serious? Although I did have a point I was trying to make. I'll leave it though.

PS You could try writing for Colbert :)

He said it was the long emergency not the immediate future. He used the word emergency to get people's attention. Just because an event is not imminent does not mean that one should not prepare for it, mitigate it, or somehow eliminate it. What would have been a better title? "The long possible problem that we really should start thinking about"?

Despite Kunstler's rather pathetic predictions of things like the stock market, his basic thesis, that we are in an emergency, is still valid. An emergency is something that you focus on really, really hard -- right now. Unfortunately, our "right now" moment has probably already passed for things like global warming. Peak oil and declining resources were problems we should have focused upon even earlier than when Kunstler wrote his book. Kunstler woke a lot of people up. And yes, maybe he is a predictor if not a prophet of doom. But he was correct and he is correct in warning people that we are in an emergency even if that does not mean the immediate end of the world or immediate mass starvation or a situation where this winter most of us freeze to death or are blown up.

I agree MikeB. The internal contradiction I have is that it was Kunstler who introduced me to Peak Oil. His writing is compelling. Alas it is easier for a radical to be compelling. We need a compelling moderate. Where is our "An Inconvenient Truth"--that is, a popular moderate presentation with a lot of graphs/evidence that breaks through to the public? Who can pull this off?

I read recently--maybe PZ Myers--that scientists spend most of their time trying to tear apart each others' ideas.

If you have a point of view, continually oppose it. That's a new mode of operation for me. There's really no other way to detect an idea's validity, because we have innate biases for confirmation.

We see to confirm, not disconfirm. Therefore, try to do the opposite.

If you have a point of view, continually oppose it. That's a new mode of operation for me. There's really no other way to detect an idea's validity, because we have innate biases for confirmation.

No, the only way to detect an idea's validity is to construct a scientific hypothesis, make verifiable predictions and then proceed to gather data to support it and keep testing it, until it either it is proved false or the evidence becomes so overwhelming that it becomes universally accepted as a fact or a Scientific Theory.

Galileo's Kinematics and his support for Copernicus' Heliocentrism, Newton's Laws of Motion, Darwin's TOE, Einstein' Theory of Relativity, Feynman's Quantum Electro Dynamics, Frank Wilczek's Quantum Field Theory, all of them tested their ideas empirically with observation, data and experiments. They didn't just continually oppose some view.

Unless perhaps I misunderstand and your statement is just a form of shorthand for the same thing I'm saying?


I think you're effectively saying the same thing.

A good scientist would actively try to disprove his hypothesis in every way he could think of before being satisfied that it holds water.

It still is worth distinguishing whether one is intent on refining and tempering the argument with targeted pounding and testing, or is conversely intent upon merely hamstringing the work through some core nihilism.

I know too many 'Antidisestablismentarians' who are so quickly riled by anything that seems like a 'system', even if it's one that they establish themselves, that their revolutionary instincts force them to tear it back down because it just looks like more 'establishment'..

"It was adults that caused this problem, I'm not going to make their same mistake!"

Most of us are not good scientists. In fact, we're not scientists at all! That's the part I forgot to note and what FMagyar has picked up on.

However, we can try to think like scientists, which is what many of the writers on skepticism advise us on. It means being aware that we have innate biases for seeking out confirmatory evidence. Rarely do we think of looking for evidence that disconfirms our point of view (see "The Wason Test").

It is easy to do science on flies or bacteria or small amounts of matter. You can easily repeat the studies, plenty of stuff to play with.

But Earth-scale science is hard. We only have one planet Earth to play with. Hard to manage science on earth. We are left with history basically -- what historically is happening and why -- trying to use that to bootstrap the future.

Yes that is hard stuff and does depart from traditional science. The climate-change-denier groups have of course keyed in on this essential problem.

This is why we all keep saying, "Time will tell."

We need history to record the results from these single-trial experiments Peak oil and climate change. Then we can either confirm or disprove our initial guesses.

We need a compelling moderate.

<scratches head> Under present-day conditions that seems like a contradiction in terms...

"We need a compelling moderate."

People like Jeremy Gilbert, Kjell Aleklett, David Goodstein, Chris Skrebowski, Ken Verosub, etc.

Compelling moderate is kind of an oxymoron isn't it?. This site is full of moderate peak oil voices. If the room is full of techy nerds they might even be found to be compelling. Meanwhile, all the average Joes & Janes (the people you really need to reach) have slid off into a deep coma.

People can complain all they want about Kunstler, Greer, Orlav and other doomers but I'd say they've done more to put peak oil on the map than most all the moderates combined. The peak oil "movement" needs people like this who can actually write and tell a story that can actually engage regular people. Charts, graphs and technical talk might work for some people but for most people that ain't gonna cut it. Don't believe me? Look at religion. It's a story. A compelling story, with billions of followers.

I agree right or wrong -- alerting the immune system with a little hyperbole maybe be a good thing. Certainly they freaked me out. I have decided to personally weight the moderate doomer perspective a little more however, since I live in America, but I am not mad at all at the Greers out there -- they are right to get the message out globally -- not all parts of the world will see the effects the same way -- no one knows just when the other shoe will drop. What is wrong with that?

I watched the show and was very relieved to see that except for a bit of melodramatic commentary leading in and at a few spots, it was actually pretty decent as television goes.

Nate acquitted himself rather well, as did the other guests.

The only thing that really disappointed me was the time devoted to a machine takeover, which I suppose is theoretically possible but way over the top in terms of relative risk;the problems associated with oil, water, and money are not theoretical, and they are not far removed into the future.

The inclusion of this artificial intelligence fear mongering was a serious mistake, in terms of credibility.

(Yes, I do realize that the show was put on not as a public service but as a means of making money by attracting a large audience and selling ads, and that the producers know all about their business whereas I know very little.)

One other thing that might have helped was to have simplified the vocabulary of the guests a bit.Given that the medium, probably not more than ten to twenty percent of the audience possessed the vocabulary to really grasp what was being said at points.

Well educated people who are not in constant contact with the general public are simply unable to comprehend this miserable fact.I speak as a former teacher;other teachers who comment here will back me up.

Thanks for posting your review OFM (and others below too). A friend of mine taped it for me and I appreciate the previews/reviews.

Also, I agree 100% with your last paragraph.

I would agree that it was moving along fairly well, under the circumstances, until the robots started taking over the world.

I did find it interesting that each of the experts thought that the biggest crisis would arise out of their own area of expertise. At one point, someone (I believe the nuclear terrorism guy) said something like "the thing I'm most afraid of is...".

Of course, everyone has a thing they are most afraid of, whether or not it has any probability of happening any time soon.

Bringing the group together must have been somewhat of an eye-opener into other issues for some of the folks, especially those who had never considered imminent resource constraints. It's pretty hard to have an over-arching viewpoint when one is so deep in one's own research.

The AI guy saying something like "turning on the faucet and no water coming out" was clearly a revelation to him. Presumably, he left the filming with a lot to chew over.

It was also interesting to have the group try to come up with a consensus on what the most pressing real issue is, and what to do about it. This is where the discussion becomes most difficult, as it becomes a battle over differing priorities. Which is pretty much where we find ourselves in the real world.

In the sense of having to appeal to the largest possible audience for a given topic, I think it may have achieved its mission. "Prophets" is a word likely to appeal to enough people to get them to tune in, if not very scientific.

Unfortunately, the way all these shows are edited, they present fact and opinion right next to each other, so they are often indistinguishable to the audience, and therefore most folks are unable to really gauge what weight to give to the issues.

Edit : I might point out how much mobilisation resulted from the event that brought down the two towers of the World Trade Center. When you put that next to what might result as an outcome of failing oil supply, what would a real mobilisation for Peak Oil look like ?

The overall message was that we are screwed on way or another. Or, maybe robots taking over the world would actually be a good thing. I have no idea what the takeaway would be for the average viewer, even if they might have picked up a bit on the discussions about relocalization. I wonder if people gave equal weight to this show and the following which was about Nostradamus' predictions.

A "solutions" followup show might have been good although I am sure that is not going to happen because it would not have the sex appeal of the doom and gloom scenario. On the other hand, many of us here don't think there are any real solutions anyway. One "solution" offered by Kunster, as usual, was railroads. That is rather weak tea given the scope of the problems. But at least they showed him being interviewed on a train. The water guy was a bit annoying since he was being interviewed in a monster SUV. Guess he is a lot more fearful about the water issue than the energy issue, which are, of course, both interrelated.

Nate did a good job and I assume they fairly accurately represented his views. Solutions, however, to the current economic/financial system would not have a snow ball's chance in hell of being enacted,especially in this congress. The corporate/financial complex is fully in charge and will run us into the ground.

I have been asking myself, based on the amount of money and resources spent on the 9/11 event, whether we could even afford the colossal amount of money and resources required to deal with any of the other issues, even if there was the political will.

The corporate/financial complex is fully in charge and will run us into the ground.

Exactly my thought at the end. Although I think there was some useful discussion among the guests and the presentation was pretty good (considering what the History Channel has become) I left feeling the "thinkers" had failed to address a overarching problem - that of corporate power.

The water situation, how we are going to feed people, etc - cannot be adequately addressed without confronting and neutering corporate power.

My spouse never reads about these issues, but came to a similar conclusion: "They didn't address the greed at the root of the problem," he said.


The corporate/financial complex is fully in charge and will run us into the ground.

Well, yes, people love to bitch about this, but it begs the same question as with the choices China has made. Basically two systems have been tried at scale and over time under reasonably modern conditions. One is Communism, which famously imploded, with the few remaining practitioners either living on outside subsidies, or else trying to survive on leaves and grass. The other is more or less what is practiced in an assortment of minor variants in, for example, the US, Europe, and Japan.

The remaining alternatives seem to be various species of wholly untested airy academic speculation. Many are too rooted in fairy-dust-infused notions of human nature ever to be scalable. Such things have a very long history of flopping quickly; sometimes quietly, sometimes spectacularly. And when we're talking hundreds of millions or billions of people there's not a lot of room for error - after all it's more than horrific enough every now and then when just a few hundred go off the deep end and 'drink the kool-aid'. So what sane politician or legislature would leap into the untested unknown, and why?

Once again, I think you are comparing two extremes and then concluding there is nothing that could be done. Total control of our polticial system, including unlimited expenditures on political campaigns surely is not the only doable alternative. I don't think we need to get into fairy dust land to come up with an alternative. Right now the right is making their list of regulations, including environmental, that they intend to gut. Don't have to come up with some exotic alternative to realize that the corporations have way too much power.

One is Communism, which famously imploded


1) The written response of Marx (Communist manifesto) was to the excesses of the monied classes.
2) How many of the 'famously imploded' were actual Communists VS just a label they or others used?
3) The 10 planks of the Communist platform - how many are in effect in, say, the US of A?

Well, that's always one version of the argument: whoever-it-was didn't try enough fairy dust, or it was the wrong grade of fairy dust. If only they had tried more of the same better, it all would have been good. And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If it repeatedly doesn't work when it's implemented in the real world - which, alas, is not perfect, is not utopia, then it doesn't count.

As somebody has said several times elsewhere on this page, it's nearly impossible to run other people's lives in a useful manner. One of the problems with totalitarian forms of organization (never mind any offense to presumably outmoded concepts like "liberty") is simply the sheer arrogance that assumes otherwise.

In re. there being two alternatives one of which has failed spectacularly:

As I recall there were actually *two* failures in the collapse of the Soviet system:
First the collapse of the Soviet system itself.
But on the way down, there failure of the 'free world' to provide useful expert advice during what was called Perestroika.

Many experts went to Russia to give advice. The result was a terrible mess. Or an utter failure to mitigate the mess of collapse.

Similar experts are now working on their PowerPoint presentations on how to fix the coming < insert-narrow-crisis-name-here >. Is there a PowerPoint template for this yet?

Is there a PowerPoint template for this yet?

Yes, here...


Do watch it to the very end, that's the best part...

That was very funny ;)
(reminds me of so many days on the road presenting software and consulting services)

Russia stopped being communist the moment Stalin took over, and that's a fact.

Or, if you don't accept that, I could just as well say that modern China is just as valid a communist country as USSR ever was, and China is on the way to becoming the world's greatest economic superpower.

Then there's Cuba, which has stubbornly refused to "fail spectacularly" despite the US's every attempt to make it do so.

I think that's an artifact of the way the producers sliced-and-diced all of the footage. They wanted to shoehorn each person into a specific area, and I gather that a lot of material was filmed before each person even knew who the others would be.

Now many of the folks on the program might have argued that a lot of these things (oil, water, population, finance) are interrelated, but the producers were more interested in reducing it all to a simpler narrative.

It's probably already been trademarked by the Alpha Male Prophet of Doom. :-)

What's next? Prophet of Doom action figures with your happy meal... Ok, I'm in! How do I place my order?

I'm hoping the program is available on the Net soon.

On History Channel's schedule page, "Prophets of Doom" is wedged between "Ancient Aliens: Unexplained Structures" and "Nostradamus Effect: The Third Antichrist?"

This doesn't bode well.

Parental Guidance Suggested (TV-PG)
This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program may contain one or more of the following:

V: Moderate violence
S: Some sexual situations
L: Infrequent coarse language
D: Some suggestive dialogue

Presumably, it must be the suggestive dialogue...

There were some scenes where a guy was scavenging supplies in an apocalyptic scenario including taking a cigarette lighter off of a corpse laying in the street. I'd say they put that under the "V: Moderate violence" tag as it involved someones dead body. Nothing really violent about it but TV ratings are subjective anyway.

I was surprised the robots of the future were all blond females clearly designed to be attractive but they never discussed sex. Maybe some ratings board member saw the 3 blonds swaying in a shop window and thought it was sexually suggestive enough to fall under "S: Some sexual situations" even though not once in the entire show did they ever talk about or obviously suggest sex.

How about talking about how many people would die in a 1 square mile area? Wouldn't that count as "V: Moderate violence". They didn't show an actual terrorist nuclear explosion but they did have 3 actors pretend to set off a nuke. Maybe that earned the show a PG rating?

Or maybe none of the 3 would do it on their own but the overall tone after seeing all 3 was enough to earn the PG rating.

This just brings to mind my own experience with members of my own family. For the past three years I've been trying to educate them by sending them books by Orlov, Catton and Kunstler along with packages of home made canned goods. As far as I know they haven't made any changes in their lives for the better and this year I received the usual useless/unwanted Christmas gifts. When I objected I got an angry email from my father that I had offended everyone and they were concerned about my mental health.

I have vowed not to send any more books or emails to anyone this year. We humans don't have a snowballs chance in hell of solving our problems peacefully.

Most of the viewers of this program will think what a bunch of nut jobs. A smaller minority will go out and stock up on canned food and hand guns. Neither will help the situation.

"offended everyone and they were concerned about my mental health..."

LOL - watch out for that "mental health" concern.

Did any of your relatives consider how often they "offend" you ? Do they make "jokes" about your "excessive" gardening, your turning soil with shovel instead the tiller, the solar oven...

It is amazing to watch your own friends and relatives try to sabotage your efforts psychologically. I forgive them for they know not what they do ;)

"Mental health" lol....Most of my family is on board with a declining material future, though unsure what to commit to. My spouse, however, considers me crazy and has even asked other family members to straighten me out.... They've been puzzled about who to straighten out. Ahhh...the memories of compaints of too much time in the garden, or of the hardship of moving to a place more than 15 minutes from Target. Our courts of public opinion are all comprised of people who need BAU to continue, which steels our differences further.

The only *change* I have made in the last year or two is accepting that I/we am doomed.

I find the easiest way to interact with the BAU boosters in my family is to carefully chose the way I phrase things. For example,

It is a "personal choice" to take the bus and walk. Yes I do know it takes longer and no I am not suffering from a crippling lack of confidence behind the wheel, but I like the health benefits of walking and enjoy reading or watching the scenery while a professional drives. If they want to come along with me that's great, we can take a taxi to get by the hard part if they find it too tough.

I would love to go shopping for kitchen gadgets with everybody, but unfortunately I don't have any more room for clutter in my kitchen. For sanity and taste's sake I can only allow quality long lasting goods in my work space. Yes the 3 in one electric cheese grater and potato slicer you are thinking of buying is on sale, but are you sure it would stand up to a few months (or even days) of use? Maybe later we can build a solar oven instead of visiting another mall, it would be super cool if we can make it work.

If re-phrasing doesn't work I agree to disagree with the sincere ones and brilliantly blonde bubble head the strident. I have long ago decided that if someone in my life will never stop braying long enough to discuss something I loose no important respect by smiling and saying something apparently vacuous. Today it was: Wow! I hadn't realized people in North America and Europe should have more children because "we're" being overrun with Muslims! Maybe you should adopt some orphans from those drone attacks in Pakistan, they would surely convert to Christianity in no time. Those poor Muslim women, being pressured by their fundamentalist families into reproducing!... Said with a big enough smile and innocent enough inflection it can avoid yucky moments where you must state your opinion or shut up and tacitly agree.

It's easier and more entertaining to send them over to the Automatic Earth and let Ilargi abuse them. He's good at trashing BAU b.s.

Next year you should send them all this Bumper Sticker, and damn the torpedoes ..

"It's no measure health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society"
- 'Krishnamarti' (?)


I've been trying to educate them by sending them books by Orlov, Catton and Kunstler along with packages of home made canned goods. As far as I know they haven't made any changes in their lives for the better and this year I received the usual useless/unwanted Christmas gifts. When I objected I got an angry email from my father that I had offended everyone and they were concerned about my mental health.


Papa is right.

Did your relatives "object" when you sent them care packages to the Apocalypse? Those are hardly gifts. They're statements.

Even I've never committed such a faux pas. A belief in imminent collapse because of peak oil is no excuse for being rude to your family at Christmas.

I give someone the information, then I shut up about it. Given recent developments, I don't even do that anymore.

You must get over this idea that you can control people's lives.

You must get over this idea that you can control people's lives.

Right. I had the crazy idea that by reading this information family members might be better able to survive/adapt. I have now gotten over it. It's my New Years resolution.

Good for you. Peace. Welcome to the tragic world.

'..is no excuse for being rude to your family at Christmas.'

No, it's more than enough to be rude to people here.

"Even I've never committed such a faux pas."

Get over yourself a little, Mike. I agree with Solar, while I don't know the Tone of voice he may have delivered it in, I still don't agree that it's cruel telling your kin that you think we're all standing on thin ice, or that you are somehow controlling their lives by trying to share your concerns and your perspective with them.

Yes, they're statements, they have a strong point of view, and they're delivered with a little bit of a risk of just this kind of resentment, which means they are being given with a knowledge of sacrifice and with real concern for these people.

As always, it's a very tough message to share effectively, and some people are holding on VERY tight to the 'American Way of Life'.. and our duty to protect the economy, or some such thing.. I'm glad people are trying various ways to get it out to others. There will be lumps taken, but it's no time to give up and write off the people in our lives. They need us and we need them, even if we can't always quite stand each other..

I think the rude part is complaining about being given gifts. I would guess that's what upset people. I ask my family and friends not to give me gifts, but some insist. If they do, I thank them, because I know they mean well.

As for the rest...as Barbara Sher put it, true help is offered as neutrally as fruit on a tree. If someone doesn't want it, you shouldn't pressure them. And it doesn't mean you can't offer again later. As long as you're willing to take no for an answer, people generally won't be offended.

If someone doesn't want it, you shouldn't pressure them.

And in fact, pressuring will only have the OPPOSITE effect. We really have so little control. That's a hard pill to swallow.

You must get over this idea that you can control people's lives.

Says the person who demanded that the lives of people in other countries be controlled (or preferably ended) to keep your car filled. I can't tell if you were being satirical at the time but you were certainly being sensationalist.

Can we ratchet it down a few notches here?

I think you misunderstood Mike's articles. He was being sarcastic, not serious.

Ok, but however I interpret MikeB's article's they strike me as "smack you in the face" type articles which certainly provoke "debate" :) Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that but it strikes me as a bit odd that Mike then accuses Kunstler and others of both being over-the-top and having a lack of self awareness of how he comes across.

My opinions are moderate in all things of course ;-)

Point taken: Criticism is Playing With Scorpions.

"Most of the viewers of this program will think what a bunch of nut jobs. A smaller minority will go out and stock up on canned food and hand guns. Neither will help the situation."

Yes this is the problem--how do we create a motivated middle ground? Why does it exist for climate change and not for peak oil? Who beyond the Oil Drum do we turn to to lead this movement? I work for local government and thus am interested in this beyond just personal curiosity.

I'm glad you posted this before the show.

Kunstler ...(edit - undertowabove beat me to his response)

I'm surprised Kunstler went on the program after his experience with John Stossel and ABC Newz. The editors can slice and dice your reputation anyway they want ;)

Last night I got around to watching National Geographic's "2210: The Collapse?", featuring Jared Diamond, Joseph Tainter, Kunstler and some others. The date refers to the time future archeologists get around to digging through our bones...not the time of the collapse.

Tainter has become less upbeat it seemed :-) He did actually say that the time period required for global civilization to collapse could be a matter of a few years or even months and that our civilization was more fragile than the ones that preceded it. I believe he also mentioned the possibility of 100 million deaths in Europe. (maybe he's grumpy about the editing) No catabolic collapse for him.

Under screen names like Asebius and Datamunger, I argued the moderate case here in the TOD comments against you, Nate, (and others) for a couple of years. There is no doubt you were a fairly bearish fellow back then, quite willing to serve up Jay Hanson of Dieoff.org with a flourish and defend folks trying to grow their own food.

But this isn't meant to hassle you. It's expected that our views adjust with the passage of time. Personally I'm glad that people made (and make) the case for doom with such energy. At the time, in rebuttal, I was far too harsh and abrasive. Doom may be unlikely, but it has to be part of the discussion. Hats off to those who insist on it.

Media people have been doing this for years. As long as you get your main points across without being made to look like a fool, you are probably ahead of the game. I suppose it also depends who the other people are they are interviewing, and whether you reinforce each others messages, or whether the others seem to be off on completely different topics. And if some of the other people on the program talk about Nostradamus or the Mayan calendar, I suppose you could always change your name, shave the beard and move to Argentina :-).

If you ever watch the Colbert report, you can see how selective editing can be done for comedic effect and to make people appear to look foolish, but there everyone knows that the interviews are heavily edited and the audience for the most part know that this is going on so it doesn't reflect badly on the interviewee.

My husband has been actively working for Marriage Equality in New York State. One thing he's learned is to have a sound bite. If you just blather on, they can pick any part of what you say, probably the most trivial.

Know who you're being interviewed by, the sort of thing they usually put out, then decide on the message you want to give them. When interviewed, give your sound bite; give it again and again, whatever you're asked. Then, if they do quote you, they have to use what you wanted to say.

If you have to take part in a more wide-ranging discussion, realize that every statement you make should be a sound-bite. Don't let them go through your mental trash.

I just went over to the History Channel site to find the producers so I could lay into them for their regrettable sleazing.. (Not Listed and no hotlinks in the Schedule) .. and the overall lineup was so gross that I just walked away.. like I walked away from NY and LA, like how none of the other film and video guys I work with even bother to sign up with Cable any more.

There's a huge change afoot.. our MSM communications might seem custom fit for this regrettable dredge, but I think it's all rotting out from within, and there is simply nothing holding it together now except old habits..

Boy, the CNN article on the LEAF had those fake CNN.JOBS posts in the comments.. "This is a little off topic, and I'm a cutie-pie, but..." They can't even advertise for themselves openly on their own site.. it's like some Tim Burton beast mutilating and morphing in sludge all over itself.

Fasten your seatbelts, friends.. find the real stuff and try to hold onto it.

Boy, the CNN article on the LEAF had those fake CNN.JOBS posts in the comments.. "This is a little off topic, and I'm a cutie-pie, but..." They can't even advertise for themselves openly on their own site.. it's like some Tim Burton beast mutilating and morphing in sludge all over itself.

Whenever I come across those CNN.job posts in their comments I just hit the 'report abuse' button. I wonder how they deal with it internally.

You'll probably get a job offer!

I wonder how the morale really is in there? It does take intelligent people to do a lot of this work, and I'm sure MANY of them, like the shooters and crew I know, are all-too aware that they're working on pure Shoite, but can't afford to turn down the paycheck. Even as I tried to think of the letter I'd send to whomever these colleagues are that actually shot and cut this thing, I realized that they just 'took the job', and were probably holding their noses as they cut it, too.

Eeks.. late for a meeting for a video job that actually has me shooting something respectable and real.. and will probably be cut by our new Gov in the next few weeks!!

Yeah, I sympathize with you. They do this stuff all the time. At least you were not interviewed by Ali G or Borat. ;-)

But their goal is sensationalism & ratings, not education. So if you manage to get some good information out, that is a small victory. But they've probably combed through the hours of tape strung together the most sensationalist things you said.

Think I heard a similar lament in an interview with Robert Hirsch regarding the title of his new book.

OMG, Nate. I get distracted for a couple of days and find you sandwiched between Aliens and Nostradamus. I suppose if you want to affect change these days you have to become part of pop culture, but dayum.

This could go either way, so relax and enjoy the show!

edit: Under the circumstances I think that went pretty well. IMO, there should have been more emphasis on population.

I kept thinking, where is Hansen? But there was nothing at all on AGW. I did think that Aliens ruined the tenor for me. On the West Coast the show was at 9. I was thinking is would be earlier so ended up watching Ancient Astronauts speculations. Blee! And then there was Nostreldamus which I couldn't bring myself to watch. The lineup implied the context of "Prophets" (not to be taken seriously - unfortunately). It could just as well have been called: "Grumpy Old Men."

I guess it all depends upon the types of people who tend to watch the history channel. Uh, would that be the group of people interested in history? Just changing the voiceover and the music would have done a world of good. Also, there was the implication that we are only talking about the American empire here. But they did get out some good, valid information.

At least in the beginning they stated clearly that these prophets make their predictions based upon science, not religion or entrails. But some might have missed that.

I would be interested in seeing a show where someone actually fleshed out what an alternative society would look like that reduced energy use, by, say at least 50%. They kind of touched upon that in the end although the uninitiated would not have realized this. I agree that, in some way, it would be a better world if done right. The extreme doomer,however, would probably argue that even that world is unsustainable.

Most people probably think that a world substantially without the auto would be a grim one, indeed. Having been in that situation, I found it to be a more pleasant experience that depending upon the auto. It depends, of course, where one lives. Right now, unfortunately, I live in an area where an auto is mandatory.

Re: grumpy old men. Well, Nate is not old even if perhaps grumpy.:<) Further, are there no young people, including women, worth including on these shows? What happens when the grumpy old men die off?

"What happens when the grumpy old men die off?"

Some resources really are renewable. By the time they die off, other not-so-old men (and women) will have aged enough to replace them.  >:=D

So far not bad, but there were frequent cuts in editing that they somehow put together without chopping up the sound.

It will be interesting to see what the general public thinks about all of this. Many people have an uneasy feeling that things aren't right, but they can't easily say why.

The robot guy lost me though. Not losing any sleep over that one. Nuke guy still coming up, and that one so far seems just like a neo-con wet dream.

The show was quite interesting,actually, even if it did not really cover much we have not already read about here or elsewhere. But maybe it will reach an audience that has not been that exposed to these issues. Very melodramatic but maybe that is necessary. I thought Nate came off quite well even if it might not be satisfactory to him.

One possible problem is that they covered so many issues that it must seem overwhelming to most people. Show gave short shrift to solutions other than vague reference to relocalization and railroads.

Just watched the show, and I thought you did well, Nate.

There were interesting production decisions, such as shooting all the talking heads on some sort of transportation with the background going by - and in static shots having the faces pop in and out in abrupt jump-cuts, with fairly heavy music overlay... but that's all fair in trying to keep peoples' eyes on the screen. I guess attention spans have shortened since I last did vid production.

The strangelovian effect of a circle of older white guys meeting in a bunker, each of whom seemingly had a different doom in mind, might not have been as engaging for the average viewer as it was for me... (hey, that's my demographic!) and it makes me wonder if "the futurists" was really the intended title.

Still, it's always good to see this stuff getting out there, and I for one am now more sensitized to the looming peril of being strangled in my sleep by my hyperintelligent blond sex robot.

The show went a lot of different directions. Still, there were a lot of good things said. Thanks Nate for sneaking in a mention of the other species on the planet.

Nate - I thought the program went off rather well considering their SOP. The music made it much
more "doomy"; as in their other programming of similar nature. Your presentation and the "water guy"
made the most sense overall. If it were possible to continue BAU for the next 50 years, then the AI
guy would have been pretty spot-on I guess.

You were the tallest guy in the room. You appear to be a handsome young fellow, but need a haircut
:)!! Kunstler's socks hurt my eyes...his ear ring was to small to make much of a statement; unless it
was intended to be an understatement.

Which way are you leaning? Hyperinflation - deflation - or hyperstagflation? I could easily be wrong;
but it appears to me that globally, people "in the know" are exchanging their currency type assets for
hard assets of land & metals for example.

Edit: I wish I could see all of the filming on you and the "water guy".

holy balls, nate, sweet

cheers and here it is on youtube


Short interview with Fatih Birol this morning on Marketplace.

The intro:

STEVE CHIOTAKIS:: You may've noticed at the gas station, the price keeps going up. But here we are with a global recovery trying to take hold, and the increasing price of oil could send that recovery into a tailspin. That's the warning this week from the chief economist over at the International Energy Agency.

Wonder if they plan on loading these roads up with fuel burning autos?

Minister of Transport Li Shenglin predicted at a conference Tuesday that the country's total length of highway will surpass that of the US during the 12th Five-Year Plan.

China's total highway length increased from 41,000 kilometers to 74,000 kilome-ters during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).

According to a highway network development plan issued by the State Council, authorities will construct seven highways starting from Beijing, nine highways ranging from the north to the south of the country, and 18 highways spanning east and west.

Construction on other infrastructure projects, including ports and airports, will also see a rapid increase in the next five years. Civil airports will cover 80 percent of county-level cities and the population by 2015.

Each mile of highway will require 1,000 tons of iron and steel, 9,000 tons of cement, and 1,900 tons of pitch to construct, said the report.


China: Hubris or stupidity? That is the question. China was in the enviable position of starting a new economy from scratch and they decided that resource and oil constraints would not be on the radar. An auto based economy. How ridiculous. Just goes to show that a nation of engineers is not necessarily the solution. Maybe if this were the 1950s I could understand the need to go back to the future. They have the benefit of hindsight as in what has happened to the U.S. but pay no heed to history.

Hubris or stupidity? Neither, exactly. Decisions like that have long lead times, so they were made formally some time ago, and were surely made psychologically even longer ago. Their economic model had let them (and the Russians) down rather badly. The only other model known at the time to work was more or less like what they seem to have chosen.

With well over a billion people, they had little room for error, so it's simply not reasonable to expect them to have chosen instead some airy, untested, wholly speculative model conjured out of thin air by some professor of philosophy somewhere in some ivory tower. Moreover, it seems reasonable to think that a lot of those billion people were very tired of riding bicycles (as per one of the quotes in the rotation at the upper right corner of the TOD page), tired of being imprisoned (for the most part) within one tiny locality, tired of living in those awful gray Communist-era high-rise concrete chicken coops (or awful peasant shacks), and probably even tired of eating monotonous peasant food day in and day out, year in and year out. Heck, if this is any guide, they were probably tired to death of communal toilets and showers too.

So what at the time would have been not to like about the US/Western model?

For that matter, what choice do they make now? I rather doubt that the notion of returning to the peasant conditions of the past appeals at all to most people with recent experience of such, however much it may appeal to romantic Western fools whose fevered imaginations conjure up a blissful idyll that never happened. The US in a depression probably looks a whole lot better than what many Chinese have experienced within living memory.

No one's talking about China returning to peasant conditions. There is a huge difference between the specifically American paradigm and peasant conditions. Living under a green sky doesn't seem like a great choice.

I agree with your first point, but not your suggestion that building more and better roads is choosing to live under green skies. If anything, I think it likely that Chinese policymakers see the expanded road network as a step on the road to cleaner air. Efficient transportation enables wealth creation, most notably via the division of labour. China is enhancing the opportunity for more productive internal trade and for the movement of goods to and from external markets.

These are the fundamental steps that permit higher gdp per unit of energy consumed and that allow a nation to affordably regulate pollution. I also note that the Chinese have implemented high fuel efficiency standards for motor vehicles, though I don't know if their diesel standards match those in NA and Europe.

If, in decades to come, the Chinese are unable to obtain sufficient liquied fuels and if electric vehicles don't pan out, then the roads will be fine for oxen and wagon, and given that it is most probable that all other nations will be in the same position with regard to motorized transport, then China will enjoy competitive parity with other nations whose clippers are plying the high seas loaded with product.

I know a Chinese woman around 24 years old. When she was a child in a village in China the river near her house was beautiful and clean, and she fished there with her grandfather. But now it is dead, "pink and green", polluted by factories making plastic. She left her town and is sudying for a graduate degree.

I don't think that people were bored or dissatisfied with the old way....there were clean rivers...

But the Americans wanted/needed to sell cars there in order to "grow" their demand. And the US couldn't produce goods anymore cheaply enough while China could, and there were lots of people who wanted work. The whole system is a thermodynamic dissipative structure, so as long as there are extra resources, especially energy, people can't say "no"---it isn't that they want a car, but someone else is going to buy one and drive it, so they might as well do so too and be happy about it. The Chinese were enlisted in the project to grow oil demand so that Americans and Europeans and Japanese could still use oil too. Without everyone working hard to generate demand, probably the US economy would have stalled out 20 years ago. The flow regime had to be expanded.

People are quite happy with their local lives---until people they know start boasting about getting a car, moving to an exciting city....even if those things don't work out or bring happiness. Noone wants to feel like they have been left behind.

I like to feel left behind.

No cell phone, no car, no hope for redemption...

At least, I'll have all the Jews who ain't for Jesus as company.

We finally got a cell phone so we could report when our Internet land-line service goes down. It has the added use that, when we get separated in a crowd, I can go to a public phone and find out where he is. (I wander off a lot.) No car, since we moved to NYC 25 years ago.

"People are quite happy with their local lives---until people they know start boasting about getting a car, moving to an exciting city..."

Well yes, or until they hear by whatever means about something, anything more exciting. After all, almost from time immemorial, people have been doing their best to escape the countryside, to whatever extent (heretofore very limited) they could. Most (not all) apparently find the countryside bloody stultifying and boring (except, nowadays, as the occasional pseudo-nostalgic destination of a carefully planned and reserved quick tourist foray.) The impulse is so strong that centuries before fossil fuels, when the Byzantines wanted the Anatolian plain settled (for military/defense reasons), they needed to give away land and indenture willing suckers (and in theory their progeny for all time) to it.

Nowadays, of course, many people, even in the poorest places, have access to far more information than any Byzantine commoner ever had. So I doubt that it will be feasible (within any interesting timeframe) to unring the bell and return to a past when people were satisfied only because most were jailed for life within a few miles of their birthplace and could not know or learn anything better.

"The only other model known at the time to work was more or less like what they seem to have chosen."

That applies to industry as well. Which is why industry always seems to be a decade or two behind the state of the art. Unless you are in R&D, you can only get funding for things proven to work. Where I work, a new process invented in 1997 went on-line in 2009. The improved new process developed in the last two years (which is only an incremental change to the 1997 version) could go online in 2014, IF Management can make the business case to build it.

Still, China is screwed. So much roadway and no new oil to power their cars. Are they going to steal it all from the West?

If the Chinese are serious, the only way these kinds of plans make sense to me is if the Chinese believe they can outlast most of the rest of the world on the downslope of Peak Oil. That they and a few other nations will remain fully industrialized as most other countries fall off the industrial hamster wheel.

China is merely the last great industrial power.
It is not remotely survivable.
The last time my brother was on business there, the sky was green during the whole trip.

They probably still believe they can outlast the other major players and be the last country standing.

If one backs off a bit further from the trees, so as to see the forest more clearly,the point made above about the current western model being the only one KNOWN to work is in the ten ring.

But perhaps the clincher is that politically and materially the Chinese were channeled or trapped by historical circumstances, just as an evolving species is channeled by its existing morphology. (Cows aren't going to evolve wings, nor robins horns.)

Materially, the technology and knowledge necessary to forge a new course did not really exist, except in the minds of visionaries.

Politically, they ruling powers almost certainly realized that the only real hope they had of both staying in power and surviving over the long term was to emulate the west-Big Brother had to not only create a vision of prosperity in the dreams of the masses, they had to create it in reality.

Otherwise they would have probably eventually wound up in the same situation as the East Germans and the old Soviets-out of power.

We should never underestimate the ability of the Chinese leadership to plan for the long run;but this is not to say that they can necessarily avoid running some deadly serious risks in the short to medium term.

Maybe they WILL succeed in becoming a motorized nation for instance-if the typical Chinese drives a very small car only a few thousand kilometers per year, and walks or bikes or takes public transit otherwise.Maybe they believe they can manufacture that much fuel from ng or coal, or that battery tech will save the day for them.If their society develops around cars with a fifty mile range, they could easily cope-whereas we would need to make a lot of VERY expensive adjustments due to existing built and sunk infrastructure.

Or maybe they are just being realists, and planning on growing strong enough to win the coming resource wars-leaving future generations in a strong position visavis the rest of the world.

The current generation only captains the ship of state thru the storms of the present and can only hope to turn the ship over, safe and sound but perhaps (unavoidably) in dangerous waters to their successors.

Two things that we must always remember, but that are very usually forgotten by well meaning idealists, is that tptb must play the cards in their hands, and that reality does not do redeals.

O Bama is stuck with the oil wars for instance.

Brent is $94.2 this morning according to the Int. Oil and Gas Newspaper today, and probably there is a correlation between lower imports and being $4 off the world price.

What is the world price?

Brent Blend        94.18
Tapis             101.12
Alaska North Slope 89.71
Dubai 1M           89.97
Louisiana Sweet    94.65
Urals              91.63
WTI                88.41
Oman 1M            88.66
Minas              96.15
Forties            93.63
Bonny Light        95.23

WTI just shot up almost $2 in the last half hour I see. Now at $90 with Brent at $95. The WTI price in particular is starting to look more like a square wave than your typical ups and downs.

$95.8 for Brent at 1600 GMT according to the Int. Oil and Gas Newspaper now. The spread is over $5 at this time. Is it smart for the Country to let imports drop and understate the price of oil?

Inv at Cushing keep piling up.
When they start to go down,Brent and WTI prices will swap!

As long as I keep sending a UK tenner a week to the janitor at Cushing he keeps the tank gauge indicators bent to the right. No idea why he only wants a tenner Sterling when that nice Roy Mason at Oil Movements insists on gold bars to fiddle the numbers.

I'm joking of course but I wonder sometimes.

WTI should trade at $1-2 prem to Brent.
All I know is that ref margins have been improving since Brent went to a prem.
Guess who controls the oil in storage at Cushing!!!

WTI should trade at $1-2 prem to Brent.

It's those darn speculators driving the price of WTI down. ;-)

Ron P.

I don't think that's true, Energy Maven.
That WTI "should" trade above Brent.
According to Morgan Downey in his book, "Oil: 101", the arbitrage spread (the difference between WTI, Brent and other benchmark crudes; there are many arbitrage spreads one can track) is more a function of relative demand based upon geography. As a very general proposition, when WTI is trading above Brent it usually indicates that demand is relatively stronger in the U.S. vs the Far East. When Brent trades above WTI it is a general indicator that demand is stronger in the Far East. The arbitrage spread indicates relative expenses of oil after the shipping costs are added in.

So, Brent is more expensive than WTI because slack demand in the U.S. doesn't justify shipping Brent to the States + the shipping costs. If WTI and other western hemisphere crudes cannot meet demand here, then the prices rise for these crudes to the point where shipping Brent to western hemisphere markets makes sense even after the additional costs of shipping are factored in.

This is all working in reverse at the present time because demand for crude is stronger in Chindia right now.

Demand for crude might remain weaker in the U.S relative to Chindia indefinitely. We have shipped so much of our manufacturing base overseas (something like 30+% of our manufacturing jobs over the past ten years) and have generated a newer, poorer consumer in the process.

What the Hell do we need crude oil for anyway anymore? We no longer fully employ our population and what little employment we do still have is no longer involved in any very energy intensive manufacturing enterprises. We'll just sell insurance to each other and borrow money to cowboy around in our pick-up trucks until the debt economy collapses around our heads; that's all.

Yes it is true. WTI normally trades at a premium to brent. The chart below shows WTI vs. Brent. The contract expired with WTI trading close to its normal premium level.

Trading Crude Oil Spreads: WTI and Brent

... knowing WTI normally trades at a premium, you might have considered basing a trade on that return to normal conditions above $1.

A year prior to expiry of the December 2009 contract, this spread was also inverted, at about -$2.It didn’t take long before it moved into a premium of about $1, then moved back to discount for a short period of time, and ultimately expired near it’s normal premium levels.

Ron P.

No argument here, Darwin.

The historical premium of WTI over Brent is to my understanding an artifact of the reality that for over 50 years the U.S economy was the greatest economic engine the world had ever seen, by all measures; in terms of creating the closest conditions to full employment, in terms of energy intensive heavy and medium industry and in terms of per capita consumption.

That is all gone now.
We won't be having much use for crude oil anymore.
How much energy do you need to sit on the sofa at home and watch TV (until the power company turns the lights out for non-payment of the bills)?

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 31, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.0 million barrels per day during the week ending December 31, 59 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 88.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.4 million barrels per day last week, down by 367 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.4 million barrels per day, 458 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 513 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 156 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 4.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 335.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.3 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels and are just above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 6.3 million barrels last week.

Don't forget the final paragraph:

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 20.0 million barrels per day, up by 4.4 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline demand has averaged 9.2 million barrels per day, up by 2.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand has averaged 3.9 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 3.8 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel demand is 3.1 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Jet fuel was likely down due to the cancellation of flights after the East Coast blizzard and the consumer's reaction to Fun With TSA during the holidays.

E. Swanson

If we look at the weekly data rather than 4 week average we see this


Product supplied down 1.610 mb/day since last week. The biggest fall is in gasoline. Possibly we will see a larger fall in jet fuel supplied reflected next week. Note the adjustment of 241k bpd applied as well to crude stocks without which things would be even worse. Net imports were also down 1.292 million barrels per day over the previous week.

Undertow has beat meet me to the most important part of this week’s reports – net oil and product imports fell over 1 million bpd vs. the previous week, and also against the comparable week last year. In addition, net imports for the last four weeks were on average also more than 1 million bpd below the average import rate for all of 2010.

A few weeks ago I speculated: Is the US going to become a net exporter of oil products? Well as 2011 kicks off, 2010 ends with product exports starting to exceed product imports. Perhaps needless to say here, but if this trend continues the results will be painful to the US consumer – as diminished supplies of gasoline and diesel lead to higher prices, and a little further down the road, to shortages.

We have been hearing from many energy analysts over the last month that oil product stocks will be rebuilt early in the New Year, which is what happened at the start of 2010 due to a significant pickup in oil imports. However recent shipping reports from tanker trackers and others do not indicate a similar pickup in store anytime soon. They may be little more than a minor pickup in OPEC exports to the North America region in January as compared to December. After a significant surge in OPEC oil exports heading to China from mid-November until now, there is some hope that the Chinese import surge will moderate soon some as supplies – especially diesel supplies – are no longer at critically low levels in China.

Let’s hope so, because as world oil and product demand is growing significantly faster than the growth in available supplies, the US will have to grab imports wherever and whenever it can get them – just to stay even with last year. Well actually, even staying level with last year’s imports won’t be good enough: US oil demand was 800,000 bpd higher in the last four weeks as compared to last year, and net imports will eventually have to improve along with demand.

I estimate that "Available Net Oil Exports," i.e., the supply of global net oil exports not consumed by Chindia, fell from 41 mbpd in 2005 to about 35 mbpd in 2010.

If we assume a 5% decline in production from 2005 to 2015 among the oil exporting countries, and if their consumption continues to increase at their current rate, and if Chindia's current rate of increase in net oil imports continues to increase at their current rate, we estimate that Available Net Oil Exports will be down to about 27 mbpd in 2015.

It's interesting that the spread between Brent and WTI has increased to close to $6 this morning.

WTI is $88.62 and Brent is at $96.01. The spread is presently $7.39.

OPEC oil tanker tracker, Oil Movements, said today that OPEC export shipments will fall in the later part of January (as I stated yesterday above). However it is possible that the US will actually see a very small improvement in imports from OPEC, as a few less tankers travel to China. That decline in exports to China may be only temporary – China is increasing refining output rather steadily, and it won’t be long before they step up their oil imports, well that is if they can.

Excluding small variations week to week, OPEC exports have basically been stuck in a narrow range since November 2009 (note I am talking only about exports and not total output).

1/6/11 Reuters News 16:30:43
OPEC exports to fall in 4 weeks to Jan 22 -analyst
Jonathan Saul; Editing by Alison Birrane

LONDON, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Seaborne oil exports by OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 310,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to Jan. 22, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.
Exports from the group will fall to 23.60 million bpd on average from 23.91 million bpd in the four weeks to Dec. 25, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.

The decline in sailings is the biggest drop since the four weeks ending Oct. 2 last year, it added.

"Principally, there is a decline in Eastbound sailings," Roy Mason of Oil Movements said.

OPEC to Cut Supplies By Most Since August, Oil Movements Says
By Grant Smith - Jan 6, 2011 11:30 AM ET l

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reduce supplies this month by the most since August as demand for winter fuels in the northern hemisphere passes its peak, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

Shipments will drop 1.3 percent to 23.6 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Jan. 22 from 23.91 million barrels in the period to Dec. 25, Oil Movements said today in a report. It’s the biggest decline since a 1.8 percent fall during the four weeks to Aug. 28. The data exclude Ecuador and Angola.

Exports from Middle Eastern producers, including those from non-OPEC members Oman and Yemen, will decrease by 1.6 percent to 17.55 million barrels a day, data from Oil Movements show.


BEIJING, Jan 6 (Reuters) - China's top refineries will start the new year with about 4 percent more crude oil throughput than in December as several plants rev up operations after maintenance and adding new facilities, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.


Seaborne oil exports by OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 310,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to Jan. 22...

310,000 barrels per day, that's a bunch! It doesn't matter which way they are going, or rather not going, that is still an enormous drop. And this at a time when oil prices are the highest in two years. It will be interesting to see who shipped so much less during this period.

Ron P.

Well yes, that drop is significant, but it is also roughly equal to a temporary one week surge about two weeks ago. Actually the drop is larger than that gain, so the trend appears to have turned down.

I just don't want to project that trend forward until we get more information. However with a few OPEC members saying they would be comfortable with the prospect of $100 oil, or other similar terms that the world economy can tolerate higher prices, perhaps there is some kind of tacit OPEC agreement to trim back exports that started in the new year.

What I am saying elsewhere here is that we won't have to wait long to find out if OPEC has really cut - and if China is going to come back into the market in force.

DUBAI, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Oil prices at $100 per barrel, if reached this year, would amount to less than $90 a barrel in real terms, which would not be enough to spur OPEC to increase production, Iran's OPEC governor told Reuters on Wednesday.

"Our concern is not the nominal price; it's the real price," said Mohammad Ali Khatibi in a telephone interview to Reuters. "In real terms, $100 nominal is maybe less than $90 because of the dollar's devaluation."

"The market is balanced for supply and demand, and there is no shortage right now, so no need to supply more."


The biggest fall is in gasoline.

But don't anyone fret about that, no, really, it's all good... I promise you!

Don’t Sweat $3.50 Per Gallon Gas


Nobody wants to see a repeat of 2007 and 2008, when gas prices spiked to above $4 per gallon, as this chart from Gasbuddy shows, and people began to ride horses to run errands. But for several reasons, rising gas prices in 2011 won't have anywhere near the psychological and actual economic effect they did just a few years ago.

First, the U.S. is consuming less gasoline on a per capita basis than it did a few years ago. It may be too soon to argue that we've reached a level of peak gasoline consumption, but it's also clear that we're not nearly as addicted to oil as a transportation fuel as we were a few years ago. According to the Energy Department, growth of motor gasoline consumption stalled out in the middle of the last decade. From a peak of 3.389 billion barrels in 2007, consumption fell in both 2008 and 2009; 2009's total of 3.283 billion barrels was 3.1 percent below the 2007 total. (Data showing the four-week average of consumption reveal that gasoline sales picked up a bit in 2010.)

Hey, don't need TOD anymore I'll just read Yahoo News for Peak Oil related info from now on...


Well, maybe it's not all good but hey why sweat the small stuff, eh?

Census: Number of poor may be millions higher


WASHINGTON – The number of poor people in the U.S. is millions higher than previously known, with 1 in 6 Americans — many of them 65 and older — struggling in poverty due to rising medical care and other costs, according to preliminary census figures released Wednesday.

Then again poor people drive less, see, not so bad after all! Great country, America!

Yair...Guday FMagyar. Off topic here but I think you asked about small electric draglines I mentioned in a previous exchange?

As far as I know they don't exist...in fact small draglines of any persuasion pretty much went out of fashion forty years ago.

My proposal was that in a liquid fuel constrained world they could be an effective means of moving earth.

I believe there is a place for small draglines even now. I see so many jobs being done inefficiently with excavators and dozers. Such work would have been a piece of cake back in the fifty's with a BE22 or whatever...cleaning and desilting small stock and irrigation ponds/dams for instance. We have even got to the stage where contractors are fabricating rediculous "extended reach" dipper sticks with tiny teaspoon buckets...and then want to charge you a hundred and eighty bucks an hour for the priveledge of messing up your dam!

I envisage a conventional machine based on (say) an easily transportable 25 ton excavator with a hydraulic luffing open lattice folding boom with a couple of state of the art hydraulic winches on the haul and hoist.

An electric version of such a unit would probably have a series of around 50hp motors on each of the functions...that is to say they would not all be running at the one time.

Such a unit (and conventional excavators) could be run from "extension leads" on major projects...not as convenient as diesel fueled equipment but as I try to tell folks (to little effect) the first casualties of fuel depletion will be convenience and speed...one of the problems with draglines of course is that it takes some skill to operate them.

I have even had an excavator operator tell me recently that they only had limited applications because they couldn't load trucks!

50hp motors

What's gonna be the source of this electrical power and how ya gonna get it to the dragline?

I think this is kinda what Scrub Puller said he had in mind.

Such a unit (and conventional excavators) could be run from "extension leads" on major projects...not as convenient as diesel fueled equipment but as I try to tell folks (to little effect) the first casualties of fuel depletion will be convenience and speed...one of the problems with draglines of course is that it takes some skill to operate them.

Either that, or one of those shiny new compact fusion reactors, they're renting in the tool department at Home Depot.

For each motor:

watts per hp 746
motor 50
Watts of da motor 37300
220 volt - Amps 170
440 volt - Amps 85

200 and 100 amps - that's "household" ..... thus you can look out the window/look in your circuit panel and get a sense of that cable size. Now its gonna need to be flexable - price seems to be as low as $2 a foot for 2/0 welding cable. 2/0 is the 200 amp size.

As the line increases, more copper so the last motor is at 2/0

Ya still need to generate that amount of electrical power then get it there. This is the big problem with the electric-motor future.
(All of that copper is moot if, of course, room temp superconductors spring into existence eh?)

Thanks Scrub Puller, I like the way you think! Especially about doing things much more efficiently than the current overkill of the using the big excavators and dozers where small, would do the job just fine.

Maybe farms will return to the age of the traction engine. Electric powered traction engines.


Pemex Prod

KMZ fields have topped out at 875k bl/da
I expect a rapid decline(30%+) like the Cantarell complex.
KMZ fields are similar geologically to Cantarell.
They transferred the N2 injection from cantarell To KMZ and were
able to boost prod from 275k to 875k over 4 yrs.

I saw that the Baltic Dirty Tanker Index lost almost 20%,

as well as the Baltic Clean Tanker Index lost almost 17%

I read (many times recently) that there is a surplus in supertankers which is undermining hire rates: is this sufficient to justify such a fall?

I don't claim to be a shipping expert, but in general it appears that as few as 7 supertankers are now being used by Iran to store unsold oil. In the rest of the world, this type of floating storage as mostly disappeared - starting in late spring and accelerating through the summer. So an important marginal source of tanker demand is gone.

In addition, there was a small bubble of shipments to China a few weeks ago, although the over last month on average OPEC exports have hardly budged. Even compared to levels a year ago, OPEC exports are remarkably stable.

It is interesting that much of the US oil imports during the summer of 2010 was from oil stored during 2009.

The uptick in December for the Dirty Index was due to weather backing up ships in the Suez canal (if I recall correctly). Once the backlog cleared then the rates dropped. I think it will be a blood bath in the tanker business over the next couple of years -- much worse than what the airlines have been through and continue to face.

Hey Charles just looked at my favorite BIDY today.


It collapsed !

Assuming I'm right and producers where now loading what they could from storage looks like the game is over.

We shall see but it sure looks like its time to hold onto your seats and enjoy the ride.

No mas oil :)

Opps now I finally look at the post your replying too LOL :)

At least we have another BIDY junkie on board :)

If Tom Whipple, article up top, is right, and I believe he is, we should prepare for another wave of Chinese oil/diesel demand brought about by Australian coal shortages.

As your index indicates though, we have yet to see an uptick in tanker loadings, and if anything, in the later part of January it looks like OPEC exports will fall. So we will see when the rubber hits the road what happens, that is when extra Chinese demand returns will the tankers start loading. We should know within a few months if this much discussed OPEC spare capacity is going to emerge out of the darkness - or maybe never show up at all.

Found this little tidbit. Some more interesting news. In my mind related.



In his verbal testimony, Mr. Diamond first explained that the purpose of OIL SHOCKWAVE was �to reveal and dramatize the very real risks of oil dependence�. He then continued: �The oil markets are so vast and complex and the threats are so varied that sometimes it is difficult to comprehend the issue. The simulation was designed to make this issue tangible for the public as well as lawmakers and policymakers. From the first day that we started planning the simulation, we believed that being profoundly realistic and having unimpeachable credibility was imperative. Therefore, we recruited a highly respected bipartisan cabinet and worked with a group of experts to develop and verify the authenticity of the scenario. These included former members of the oil industry, oil analysts and traders, former military officials, intelligence and national security experts, and other specialists.�
In his prepared written statement, Mr. Diamond gave more details on how OIL SHOCKWAVE was conducted.
DATE: June 23 2005.
CONDUCTED BY: SAFE and the National Commission on Energy Policy.
GOAL: To explore the extent and acuteness of the economic and national security threat and the possible consequences of American oil dependence.


Gene B. Sperling, former National Economic Advisor and head of the National Economic Council.

Looks like he is going replace Larry Summers.


And Volcker quit today...

I told a friend of mine in and email today that my spidey senses are starting to tingle.

I notice that the Baltic tanker index seems to exhibit quite dramatic behavior at the year-ends for some reason... possibly contract related? For example the fall at the end of 2008 was very similar to that seen recently, and it rose sharply over 2009/2010 new year.

That said, I also have a sense of - I'm not sure you could call it foreboding - but that things are about to go a bit crazy. What exactly do you read into the new appointment and changes in the administration though, or is it hard to define?

Well, it is nice to know that I am not the only one who has the sixth sense starting to tingle.

There was also a post on Zerohedge today about that.

I Think Mother Earth flooded the coal export terminals in Australia.

Maybe she is up to something. LOL.

Spidey Senses? I woke up early (3am).. and my Hamlet-Senses were ringing off the hook..

"I have of late and wherefore I know not lost all my mirth...
This goodly frame the Earth seems to me a sterile promontory
This most excellent canopy the air, look you;
This o'er hanging firmament this majestical roof fretted with Golden Fire
Why it appears to me no more than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors!
What a piece of work is man.."
Shakespeare, Hamlet, II.2.

I miss Mom.

I need some pie.


The share prices of Premier Oil, Encore and Nautical all rose amid optimism that further drilling in the North Sea will yield similar finds. Their Catcher field was last year hailed as the best North Sea find in a decade.

The companies said the new Varadero field may contain 30m-50m barrels – about half as much as the Catcher field next door, which is estimated to hold 80m barrels of recoverable reserves and 300m in total.

See, all you Peak Oil Doomers saying the North Sea has peaked have been found out! The biggest find in a whole decade is a whopping 80 MILLION BARRELS and they just found another colossal field which may contain as much as 30 MILLION BARRELS

That's right baby! Two MASSIVE finds in only a decade.

How d'ya like them apples, eh?

"How d'ya like them apples, eh?"

I don't know, ask me again at this time tomorrow when we've burnt through those 80 million barrels.

I forget who it was, but my favorite ever cornucopian statement "disproving" peak oil was that we had discovered 10 billion barrels of oil in just one year!

And the worst thing we could possibly do with all that oil is burn it.

See IPCC AR 4 at http://www.ipcc.ch/

Some of you may have read or even agree with Joe Bageant

A note from Joe
Dear friends, associates and fellow travelers,
As you may or may not know, I have been struck down by an extremely serious form of cancer. Presently I am back in the United States receiving treatment through the U.S. Veterans Administration hospital system. Due to the nature of the massive internal tumor, I am currently unable to even carry on email correspondence or Skype conversations.

Snarking about Joe's rejection of large parts of American politics/economics and then use of the Vet system not included in my post.

He paid for his access to the Vet system, and is entitled to it. That's part of the deal. He is in no way hypocritical for taking advantage of it in his extremity.

Oh, crap. First Hitch, now Joe.

He's a pretty devoted socialist afaik. I doubt he has any objection to government-funded healthcare.

i figured it wasn't my place to be the snarky one this time given the biggest socialized medical plan is the Vet system. Where it'll get "fun" (err nasty political bloodsport) in a few years is when the people in the Vet system will be no one but the non-draftees.

Then the "free market" and "it was there choice" soundbites will fly.

I have mixed feelings on the VA, where I have worked.

On the one hand it delivers pretty good care to veterans. On the other hand, it's a horrific example of the fusion of the military and healthcare industrial complexes, which somehow manage to employ people yet suck all of the vitality out of communities. In the U.S., if you are elderly or a service connected veteran, you can get all the procedures and gizmos and equipment you want. If you are not, good luck hanging on to a job and paying increasing health insurance premiums, and good luck not going bankrupt by healthcare bills.

There is no organic, bottom up demand for VA services!! If many of the veterans who use the VA had their way, they would smoke and drink themselves to oblivion. It requires constant, nonstop propaganda by doctors, nurses, social workers, physical therapists etc. to convince someone that they need to lose weight, quit smoking, and not abuse drugs. The creation of an entirely separate health care system for veterans who engage in these destructive behaviors has all the signs of malinvestment.

The U.S. is an adolescent, eat my cake and have it too society. Endless government care for veterans and the elderly, food stamps for the poor, free money for the banks, and nothing but hardship, pain, and struggle for middle class workers and savers. Somehow, we are managing to not to grow up even as we become zombified.

VA now, bankruptcy later.

Your grandchildren may not thank you for this.

Eurocontrol have published their Long-Term Forecast for European Flight Movements, 2010 - 2030


They include a scenario for "peak oil" in 2020.

At first glance, their models look overly optimistic.

This report from Eurocontrol looks very significant...its marked 'Restricted, not for public release' on the cover. I'm just beginning to look at it. Have they made a mistake by allowing it to come up on the website search?



The Peak Oil Study is intended to provide an impact assessment of potential decline in oil production on worldwide air transport and on ATM. The ultimate objective is to assess the impact on EUROCONTROL, to prepare a Peak Oil management plan and to develop appropriate mitigation actions.

...The report is written for the Peak Oil Steering Board members and project team members and assumes an understanding of the scope and objective the Peak Oil study. This report is also designed as a reference document for the elaboration of scenarios – WP4 – and of recommendations for Agency Risk Integration – WP6.

(Eurocontrol) ---to prepare a Peak Oil management plan and to develop appropriate mitigation actions

...... ehh ... to keep the planes in the air forever?

Sure. Turboprops. One version of an old story goes something like this. Sven and Ole were flying a plane one day, when one of the engines quit. "Hey, Sven, that thing that goes round and round, she stopped." "Oh ... Ole, that's bad." Some time passed, and the other engine quit too. "Hey, Sven, look, that other thing that goes round and round, over there on the other side, she stopped too." "Oooooh ... Ole, that's real bad. We be stuck up here all day!"

[Or more realistically, it'll be just like the IEA oil-shortage plan. They'll keep the really (self-)"important" people flying even if everybody else is in effect under house arrest.]

Good find!

Li Kequiang vice primeminister of China signs in Spain contracts for 5,650 million euros.
97% of this is in contracts with Repsol, a Spanish oil company.
The rest is "chocolate for the parrot", as the Spanish saying goes.
China has its priorities right.

Durable Living: Preparing for Climate Change and Energy Decline

Time Sunday, January 9 · 4:00pm - 7:00pm

Location Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe Street, downtown Austin, Texas



EDITORIAL - Think carefully about energy

When P.J. Patterson sought to commit Jamaica to an energy future based on natural gas, it was on the assumption that the country would have a secure supply of LNG from Trinidad and Tobago at a preferential price.

This was on a promise by then prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Patrick Manning, who gave the same assurance to Mr Patterson's successor, Mrs Portia Simpson Miller. Unfortunately, Mr Manning, whose government has since been chucked out of office, couldn't fulfill this self-imposed obligation.

So now we have it. The current administration's preoccupation with NG is just a continuation of a plan from the previous administration based on a promise by an administration that has been turfed out of office. To complicate matters, the administration (in Trinidad) that made the promise apparently ran into problems trying to fulfill it and the new Trinidadian administration is not interested in taking it on.

So you have a choice being made based on a promise that is unlikely to materialize. Sounds like trouble to me. It seems this newspaper is right to be raising a red flag on this one.

Alan from the islands

'Noone could have foreseen a breach of the Levees' GW Bush

.. and they were right over our very noses!

How's the sun and wind out there on your island?


The sun's fine (avg. 6.2 sun hrs/day) and some work is being done to improve the wind resource data (IOW I'm not sure about the wind). There's possibly thousands of acres that used to be in sugar cane, bananas and coconuts that could be used for oil palm (if it will grow well here).

I recently discovered that a batchmate of mine from college is a "Senior Director" in the Ministry of Energy and Mining and called him up this Wednesday morning to try and arrange a meeting. Sounds like it may materialize, in which case I shall try and introduce him to TOD and the idea that some of the data coming from the usual suspects might no be too reliable. I have no idea what the outcome will be.

Alan from the islands

Please consider letting us know if you get the meeting with him, and how you approach it. (You could make the post into a Hello and Welcome to Him if he makes a visit to the site!)

Best of luck,

China to invest more than $100 billion in rail

BEIJING (Caixin Online) — China has set aside 700 billion yuan ($107 billion) for infrastructure construction in its railway system in 2011, in an aim to extend the operational high-speed lines to 13,000 kilometers (8,075 miles).

full article:

The US really needs to get going in this direction.


Watched the History Channel's 'Prophets of Doom', tonight at 9pm pst. Kunstler did inho a great job of explaining peak oil. Ruppert spoke pretty much about the same topic. Nate Hagens position was that we are headed for an economic transition to something completely different, and he worried about what might happen during the 6 months needed to make that transition. Other concerns by guests were Water, Nukes and AI. Hugo De Garis is currently working on AI and he said south Korea has a goal of having a robot in every SO. Korean household by 2030, and Gates of Microsoft has expressed his assertion that the near term tech future will be to develop humanlike robots. Garis also said the major military powers, like the US & China would develop robots to fight wars. But his biggest concern was that robots would reach a point of being more intelligent than people, then conspire to kill us and take over the world. A sci-fi idea we've all seen in movies. However the idea of moving towards a world with humanlike robots is a strange and fascinating idea. Since TV's, stereos, cars and just about everything else has been developed to a very high level of sophistication, it would seem plausible that the next frontier for tech would be robots. But, if high priced oil is negatively affecting economies now, then it might be something that never comes to pass.

I'm hoping the robots ACTUALLY get more intelligent then us, and can convince us that it's smart to become better people, to do the right thing (even if it's a little challenging) ...

Really smart robots share.. and they are considerate of their resource base.

What would worry me is if the AirForce academy got their hands on the drones and figured out how to give them what passes for religion. Then, we might be in some serious trouble. 'Born Again Predators..'

jokuhl ...

What would worry me is if the AirForce academy got their hands on the drones and figured out how to give them what passes for religion. Then, we might be in some serious trouble. 'Born Again Predators..'

Already doing it. See Slide 4 and 9 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Present & Future Capabilities

The drones will be IA, autonomous, collabrative, attack in swarms, and command & control will be out of the loop.

Return of the 'Drone Wars'

The drones will be IA, autonomous, collaborative, attack in swarms, and command & control will be out of the loop.

Hmm... sounds like Skynet!


I'm hoping the robots ACTUALLY get more intelligent then us, and can convince us that it's smart to become better people, to do the right thing (even if it's a little challenging) ...

You mean there may be hope for us afterall. Mankind invents robots - robots retrain mankind to be better people.

In day to day life people on ocassion will give someone feedback, but most often they just let it ride when another person does something inappropriate. Well, a robot could be trained to give feedback all the time. I could see corporations having them walk the floor. "Johnson, what the heck are doing? Stop yapping to Wilson and finish the E3496 before 4pm, and do a decent job of it for a change." People would then hate the robots and love people more.

In fact, you could have someone at a monitor talking through the robot via a terminal. Wow, has anyone thought of that? Remote, in face management.

I came up with a short story once of a Digital Camera that tells you useful info as you shoot, but this one went too far, and thought it was qualified as a photo critic and judge of beauty.. it didn't end well!

I was thinking of an Asimov story in 'I, Robot' called EVIDENCE, where an illegal Positronic Human 'Bot (Not allowed on Earth) ran for president, and they concluded that a Robot who followed the Three Laws could conceivably be 'indistinguishable from a very good person' in their choices and their positions.

Anyway, I WAS kidding. I think the 'Human-Sim' AI anybody or any team could write today would implode faster than the Biosphere II. I think the assumptions that go around on what really comprises a person's mind will be hard-pressed to make one from scratch. Hell, we can't even duplicate milk yet.

I'd like kind, jolly and joke-cracking robots that at least leave some of the housework for me.

I don't think people want human-like robots. It's one thing those old SF stories of the last century got wrong. Human-like (but not human) is creepy; even the robots sold as companions in Japan generally look very nonhuman (AIBO, etc.).

Household robots are going to be more Roomba than Rayna Kapec.

Besides, the idea of Robots 'going evil' is just very sloppy projection in the first place.

Why send a machine in to upset human civilization, when we're already so good at it ourselves, and can even justify it in countless ways?

Machines are boring.. no real ambition! They're not even selfish..

Bah, all they want to do is stand around leering at pretty women and smoke cigarettes (good god, they ARE just like us!)

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soO9CR1NiZk&NR=1


I dunno. I was always kinda partial to a Nexus 6 or 7.

More significantly, I do not see Asimov's robotic laws or anything like them being created anytime before the "big wars" -- perhaps afterward, when few people remain. I fully expect some of the best intelligent robots to initially be used lethally in conflict. Automated sentries, border guards, and face-recognition sniper-bots are likely. Already S. Korea has an automated DMZ machine gun that "looks" for people as an optional mode.

Around the house, I agree with you. Smarter and more self-sufficient appliances would make sense as a natural evolution.

“Replicants are like any other machine. They're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, it's not my problem.” - Blade Runner.

It is an interesting version of the idea that all we do is take on the squeaky wheels.. put out fires. We approach our world with a pathological focus, "Eliminating the Negatives", and leaving minimal time and attention for "Accentuating the Positives"

I don't think people want human-like robots. It's one thing those old SF stories of the last century got wrong.

Oh, I disagree, human-like robots are definitely the holy grail, especially when coupled with AI. They're a long way from being there but there's little doubt about the final goal.

Kokoro's Actroid DER2 Female Robot


HRP-4C Humanoid Robot now sings even more naturally : DigInfo


Those aren't products people are buying. Sure, some scientists and engineers are interested in the challenge, but the customers aren't.

I think there's still a very deep fascination with the idea of Humaniform Robots, whether or not it has any validation in the marketplace, because it's an expression of our everpresent fantasy about 'Intelligence' itself, and how we're looking towards that mysterious place where we get to 'Make the Perfect Human' with an un-ironic wish that if it's made from vinyl, gold, silicon, copper or stainless steel, and we're really on our game putting it together.. that it will become the 'Immortal' that we have heard about.

As with oil, I don't think people bother to get very far into the actual ramifications of it, and it falls apart pretty quick if you do, it's really sort of akin to the Dream of Flying.. you know just flying by flapping your arms or 'thinking yourself up into the air'.. but it is still an illuminating fantasy for me, and makes Pinnochio a much more interesting fable as well! (or AI, take your pick)

It's really just an elaborate mirror, in the end.

The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. They evolved. They look - and feel - human. Some are programmed to believe they are human. There are many copies. And they have a plan.

Me thinks the robots will be more in line with governmental control like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus:_The_Forbin_Project Come to think of it, it might not be a bad idea considering the incompetence of our current government, a virtual dictator might be the way to go.

History Channel takes time out from reality TV programming to hit another one out of the park with, "Prophets of Doom".

There was enough doomer porn to brighten the day of even the most gloomy doomer.

And I gotta hand it to the folks at History, I was starting to worry about what we would do if December 21, 2012 rolls around and doomsday doesn't happen!.........NOT to worry! If Plan A should fail then the History Channel has a back-up, Plan B; Killer Robots!

These guys are GOOD!

In all seriousness, I did enjoy the program and I thought it did a good job with a subject that contains a complexity level that can present difficulties in explanation to a novice audience.
My only criticism is that I would have liked to have heard someone explain a little better Gail's arguments about the relationship between oil/energy, economic growth and debt. Nate gave it a good shot, but I'm not sure the points were crystal clear.

Actually, I pleaded with them to remove the longer/clearer descriptions on that particular topic, as it wouldn't have helped the situation. So on that issue I'm happy it was left a bit muddy.

You looked maahvelous!
I didn't realize you were such a young man.
Not a line in your face.

Excellent presentation nate. The subject matter in general should have been more focused on resources, but otherwise, the way in which it was presented - with the circle of discussion in a crumbling building - was still an interesting twist to me.

In "Prophets of Doom", the inclusion of the topics of AI robots taking over and nuclear terrorism were somewhat unfortunate. A much more coherent program could have covered over population resulting from the availability of FF energy, the exhaustion of critical resources such as oil and water, and the impact of their exhaustion on an economic system based on debt-fueled over consumption.

This could have questioned the basic assumption of American society and American foreign policy since World War II, which is that the democratic government and free-enterprise system based on high rates of consumption that originated in the thinly populated, resource-rich United States is suitable for adoption globally.

The US circa 1950 essentially defined what it is to be "developed", and since then the policy has been to encouraged "development" in every country around the world without regard to the long-term consequences of resource exhaustion.

The AI takeover segment was completely inappropriate, but was the least of the show's problems.

"Prophets of Doom" was a deliberate effort to recreate the "let's gawk at the obsessive loonies" tone and style of Ruppert's performance in "Collapse." The show preceding it about some guy who built a stone monument in his backyard with alien anti gravity tech treated its subject matter with more respect and deference.

Good post Merrill. A bad example was set and now every country has to try it, even if its not for very long.

Wars with AI robots? I take it they put one some 'Singularity' disciple? Yeah, I don't see that as being an issue in my lifetime or my child's lifetime. That's some whacked out stuff.

A humanoid form of robot would be very inefficient, and it would be a transitional form during a short period of coexistance with humans.

The evolutionary end state of an intelligent planet may be something like a surface layer of photovoltaic cells with a meter or so of electronic components underneath. There would be occasional deeper pockets housing material processing and repair depot mechanisms to maintain the systems.

Such a planet would be very hard to find in a search for extraterrestrial intelligence, since it would be dark in the visible spectrum and have a uniform surface temperature of perhaps 350 Kelvin from pole to pole in order to radiate waste heat. Surface and atmospheric water would be eliminated, as would other gases that reduce transmission of solar radiation. The hydrogen would be kept for use in fusion reactors to augment solar power.

Occasional interstellar flights would occur, although these would take a very long time to navigate between stars. However, since intelligent planets are immortal on 100 million year time scales, the duration of these journeys doesn't really matter.

I don't know if this has been posted. I just saw it in Thursday's WSJ.

Global Food-Price Index Hits Record

A prominent indicator of international food prices hit a record high in December, sounding a warning about looming threats to the world's poor and to global growth. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's monthly food price index rose for the sixth consecutive month to 214.7, topping the previous peak, 213.5, reached in June 2008.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill: The real cause is peak oil

The world runs on oil, a point made most succinctly by George W Bush of all people, when he described the US's "addiction to oil." That addiction takes us to the ends of the Earth and the bottom of the ocean in search of the next fix.

Drilling in deep oceans for oil and gas is one symptom, from Brazil's massive pre-salt reserves to the west of Shetland. The filthy squeezing of the black gold from the tar sands of Canada is another, as is the global surge is fracking of oil shales, another dirty business.

The marginal barrel of oil costs in the neighborhood of $80 a barrel to produce. It will never get cheaper than that unless the economy collapses. We are getting desperate for oil and yet the world seems completely ignore that fact.

Ron P.

The link way up top at The Nation contains a pretty fair video, Peak Oil and a Changing Climate.

Chomsky alone is worth the time. Notice how he talks about what IS happening as opposed to speculating needlessly about an uncertain future. The man's mind is a Universe.

Is Richard Heinberg posed against a LOOM? Totally impressive.

It's also worth watching Greg Palast sticking his big fat sneaker into his mouth:

Q: Is there resource depletion?


He doesn't even know what the word "depletion" means!

The video also shows that there are some people you shouldn't even put in front of a microphone:

I've identified many factors that combine in many unpredictable ways. It's really too complicated to predict, but the chance of this very smooth decline [of oil production] I would say is zero. It's going to be a stepwise decline. And various parts of the planet are going to be cut off from transportation fuels permanently.

Thanks for predicting the unpredictable for us, Moran.

It sounds like Moran gave a reasonable disclaimer to making his prediction into a 'Take it as you will, but...'

I don't find much to contradict the idea that MANY places in the world are accessible today ONLY because of enough surplus energy to Get there and to Get Supplies there, enough so that people can maintain ongoing outposts in what are otherwise thoroughly inhospitable but overpopulated areas (Las Vegas comes to mind, but I'm really thinking of High Mountain Homes, Deep Desert Communities, Islands that depend on countless outside supplies, deep Arctic Circle townships.

He really just said 'I don't see how this can be a smooth transition.'

I don't 'ascribe to it as the true future', but it seems pretty reasonable expectation. It's ALREADY not smooth, as all that goes.. no? (I'm counting Iraq as part of it..)

'Take it as you will, but...'

Bob, I don't see this disclaimer anywhere, unless there's something I failed to duplicate in the quotation.

The quote is verbatim. It is a direct, unambiguously self-contradictory statement. "It's too complicated to predict, so I won't attempt to predict it" would be a more appropriate statement.

People like Orlov have ruined the credibility of peak oil arguments. At least that is my opinion. We need to hold people strictly accountable for what they say. Orlov simply has no right--and no credentials--to make such pronouncements.

BTW: Did you know Michael Greer recently said, "Everyone who relies on medications to live is going to die?"

I'm really getting sick of this stuff. I hope I have enough time--and brickbats--to oppose these Morans vigorously, but I have three jobs, a music hobby, and house to maintain.

One last try..

I single-quoted 'take it as you will..', since I was paraphrasing what it seems he's saying when he tells us it's unpredictable.

"I can't tell you what will happen, but I think this ship is going to sink."

Even if the future is thoroughly unpredictable, even so, we are all certainly heading into this future, and so people will and must try to suss out what's coming. We latch onto what seem to be applicable patterns and experiences.. and all that ESPECIALLY when we're heading into UNpredictable times.

Yes, I know you're sick of people saying that we're heading down into a hole... I don't think they're the ones who are really doing the worst damage to the Peak Oil story. Some Moonbats are expected. The battle is with the outright Liars.. and with our vulnerable lifestyle.

.. and yes, I think Greer's line is over the top, and deserves to be eye-rolled and downgraded. I don't like Bombast either.. but I can't help but agree with the assessment that we're on very thin ice, and it's not too much to say 'We are probably in very serious trouble here.'

Not to belabor the point, but one last try...

"And various parts of the planet are going to be cut off from transportation fuels permanently."

Where? When? Zimbabwe in 2050? Or Los Angeles, tomorrow? It's more than useless as a prediction.

Greer's line isn't just "over the top." It's hysterical.

Mike, Bob, let's not get carried away here. What Greer is saying is the truth, just a little further down the road. No, no, no, one does not have to give a date as you seem to suggest. We know what will happen we just don't know when. It will happen because it must happen. Dr. David Price explained very well what will happen and why it must happen in 1995, but he did not say when.

Energy and Human Evolution

Even if world population could be held constant, in balance with "renewable" resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end. And the spiraling collapse that is far more likely will leave, at best, a handfull of survivors. These people might get by, for a while, by picking through the wreckage of civilization, but soon they would have to lead simpler lives, like the hunters and subsistence farmers of the past. They would not have the resources to build great public works or carry forward scientific inquiry. They could not let individuals remain unproductive as they wrote novels or composed symphonies. After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods.

Now if you think Dr. Price was wrong, I would like to hear your opinion of exactly where he screwed up. And by wrong I mean the entire essay, not just the paragraph above. That is only an outtake.

Ron P.

Ron, I happen to LOVE that essay. But where does Dr. Price say "Everyone who relies on medications to live is going to die?" For all its sheer catastrophic magnificent doomer glory, Price's essay is not hysterical.

I'm going to pull this out of my you-know-what, because I don't believe we lay people have a right to make such predictions: The die-off will be local. Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan African, and India will be depopulated. That will put a lot of extra oil on the market, and the First World will continue to evolve more sophisticated medical. technologies, and their people will actually adapt and live longer. New advances in electronic technologies will permit most people to stay at home most of the time.

Now what I just said is a lot of hooey. But it's no less hooey than what the jokesters who imagine they know what the future is going to bring announce on podcasts. It's just another piece of untestable science fiction.

But where does Dr. Price say "Everyone who relies on medications to live is going to die?"

Surely you jest. From the essay:

Operative mechanisms in the collapse of the human population will be starvation, social strife, and disease. These major disasters were recognized long before Malthus and have been represented in western culture as horsemen of the apocalypse. They are all consequences of scarce resources and dense population.

Yet we will have insulin, injection needles, penicillin and all the other medications that keep a great percentage of the human population alive today? I really don't think so.

I agree with you that no one, lay people or expert, cannot make the prediction that the die-off will be local. I believe it will be worldwide. Nevertheless it has to start somewhere. It may be local at first but after a year, or a few years at most, it will be worldwide. And I make that prediction not necessarily as a lay person for I have thrashed this straw for almost half a century. I just don't feel "lay" anymore, on that subject anyway.

But having said that, I would guess that it all depends on how fast things unravel. People are dying today, from disease and lack of food, in many parts of Africa and a few other very impoverished places in the world. If this problem gets a lot worse in those places, would you not say that that is a local phenomenon? And it will get worse and it will get worse there first, most likely anyway.

I think Mike, that you guys are getting just a little too upset over what Greer said. We all go over the top on occasion. Give the guy a break.

But I must disagree with Greer on one point that you posted above. I don't believe new advances in electronic technologies will permit people to escape the problem. That idea really seems quite silly if you ask me. I suppose he means that we can work from home and won't have to commute to work. But those kind of jobs are likely to be the first to go. Most of them have already gone... to India.

Ron P.

Right now insulin with pen-injectors, needles, test strips, and so forth is maybe $100 per month with decent insurance. Probably 3x or 4x that without, but with a lot of markup.

Today, that $100 or $500 or whatever is pretty cheap to keep a kid or adult alive. Make it 10x, and many would still live, but by no means all. Still, with as many diabetics as there are, it's a viable market and highly emotional one, so any kind of functioning society would serve it. I can see war zones or major power outages putting a dent in production and some local distribution, but things would have to get awfully bad for something that is about as valuable as precious metals to not be produced and distributed.

Unfortunately, the current industry makes it hard to plan ahead for, with limited shelf-life and of course limited prescriptions. The whole approach of regulating to prevent drug misuse also prevents any meaningful personal stockpiling, which is unfortunate.

Right now insulin with pen-injectors, needles, test strips, and so forth is maybe $100 per month with decent insurance. Probably 3x or 4x that without, but with a lot of markup.

Today, that $100 or $500 or whatever is pretty cheap to keep a kid or adult alive. Make it 10x, and many would still live, but by no means all. Still, with as many diabetics as there are, it's a viable market and highly emotional one, so any kind of functioning society would serve it.

Back in 2002 when I was interviewing women without health insurance (for my dissertation), I met one who had to make the decision whether to buy birth control or her diabetes supplies. The birth control won out.

I also met plenty of people who could not afford their meds, so took less than they were prescribed to make them last.

In AZ today they are eliminating some transplants from coverage by Medicaid. I can easily foresee a future where many more people cannot afford lifesaving surgeries and medication and insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid reduce coverage. Just listen to the recent political rhetoric.

I don't understand why mikeB has his shorts in wad.


I don't either, lilith. But he has his own narrative going on, as I suppose we all do.

Surely you don't think lilith's comment is confirmatory evidence of the statement under question:

"Everyone who depends on medications to live is going to die?"

Is the "doomer" strain here really that dogmatic?

No, it's not confirmatory evidence, nor is this the place to settle that issue.

The point is you're fixated on this statement. The fact is that already the medical delivery system is clearly contracting for people who don't have pots of money. If you don't know that or feel that, you are ignorant or lucky. Anecdotal evidence is surely just that, but it's a real data point.

You seem to have a crusade going on here. JMG is not the enemy, whether or not he goes over the top once in a while so that you can yank statements out of context and make a big fuss over it.

Why not move on to something useful?

"You seem to have a crusade going on here."

You're now making arguments "to the man" versus to the statement under discussion, so I guess that ends the conversation.

As for the "crusade," the issue arose spontaneously. Someone posted a link to a podcast and mentioned the quote. I refused to believe it at first because surely peakers aren't that hysterical.

Boy, was I wrong.

I have learned a valuable lesson here these past few days: There is virtually no statement about the future so outrageous that it won't be embraced uncritically by posters here--as long as it is sufficiently redolent of death and hopelessness. It doesn't matter who makes the statement. You don't see Robert Rapier, or Jeffrey Brown, or Stuart Staniford saying such things, and they are immensely more intelligent.

Nice way to just bail outl. Yes, and you haven't been making ad hominems all along. Do you think that if we searched the ol' DrumBeat that we couldn't find some absolutist weirdness from you? Or me? Or anyone else?

Honestly, you seem to be on a personal vendetta. You are very tightly wrapped. Have a drink or something. You are spending a lot of energy and emotion on the wrong target.

I think cannibalism is a near certainty in the USA within a few decades so I really don't see the fuss about Greer's statement.

Is the "doomer" strain here really that dogmatic?

Well, while I'm pretty sure that not everyone who currently depends on medication to live is going to die in the next year or so, I'd like to point out that there are some mildly troubling trends. And while I won't venture to make any predictions per se, the writing on the walls seems to be indicating that there are already quite a few citizens that may have to do without medication, whether they can survive or not without them. Heck, it's entirely plausible they might be miraculously cured of their ills and no longer need any medication at all.

However, if one looks at the data and applies Occam's razor, one might be forgiven for concluding that there is already a rather significant portion of the general population who probably are, shall we say... vulnerable 8-#


Increase in the Uninsured and Its Implications

The number and percentage of Americans without health insurance rose sharply in 2009. The number of uninsured jumped by 4.3 million, to a total of 50.7 million. The percentage of Americans without coverage rose from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent, which means one of every six Americans was uninsured last year. These are the sharpest year-to-year increases since the Census Bureau began collecting these data in 1987.

The new data show a striking divergence between declines in private insurance and expanded coverage through federally supported programs. The number of people with private insurance plunged by 6.5 million last year, driven by a drop in employer-based coverage; 66.7 percent of Americans had private coverage in 2008 but only 63.9 percent did in 2009. In contrast, the percentage of people with Medicaid coverage rose from 14.1 to 15.7 percent. Without that expansion, the increase in the number and percentage of people who are uninsured would have been much larger.

But you are right not all of these people are going to die without their medication. Let's also hope that Medicaid itself remains healthy.

Globally, lots of people die without their medications or medical treatments.

So the issue is not whether that will happen, but only a matter of degree and a shift of mortality rates among nations.

Exactly Merrill. And such situations aren't entirely dependent upon a country's wealth. Once again I'll drag out the African country of Equatorial Guinea as a current example of how future commodity battles might shake out. EG is one of the richest nations per capita on the planet. Yet virtually all but a small number of its 500,000 population suffer from malaria. But not always. The first dictator for life instituted a spraying program that essentially eliminated the disease from this island nation. But he was assassinated by his nephew the current dictator for life. Their new homicidal leader decided it would be easier to control the population if they were ill so he stopped spraying. As bad as malaria can be it’s even worse in EG given much of the population is on a near starvation diet.

And the situation in EG has a direct link to PO: their wealth is a result of the discovery of oil off their coast in the 90's. Today their production is split between the US and EU. For all the harsh words from the EU about US “imperialism” they are very silent upon the EG situation. Granted human rights abuses are rampant in EG (the dictator amended the constitution so he’s now allowed to execute anyone he chooses without a trial) but, hey, it’s about the oil. I suspect who has medical services in the future will be less dependent upon what’s available and more a question of who has access and who doesn’t. Not a theoretical offering...a view of life today for some folks. The world is content to let the people of EG wither away despite their country’s wealth. I suspect there will many incidents of such “tolerance” depending on who’s controlling the oil valves.

...so took less than they were prescribed to make them last.

how 'bout a patient who takes less than prescribed and finds out it works better ?

Give the guy a break.


You, Ron, say "give someone a break," when they say something stupid? Why, I've seen you flay people alive with abalone shells here.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I'll give you credit for two honest statements:

"I believe"

"I don't believe"

Because that's what sheer speculation about the future really is. And I'm beginning to think there's a lot of wish fulfillment involved.

For starters let me reply to this unbelievably outrageous remark!

And I'm beginning to think there's a lot of wish fulfillment involved.

I have six grandchildren, four grown and one 12 and another 9. I sometimes sit down and cry when I contemplate the future that they must face. That remark was a low blow Mike. I am a tenderhearted man. I cry at old movie titles. Well, that's a slight exaggeration but not too far off. But I am haunted when I think about a Richard Dawkins passage I once read:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
Richard Dawkins: River Out of Eden, page 132.

Wish fulfillment? How f***ing dare you! I wish there were no suffering in this world. But nature does not give a damn how much suffering the poor animals endure when they are being chased and eaten by a predator. And nature does not give a damn about how much suffering poor children endure when they have nothing to eat or enough clothing to keep them warm. Nature will have her way and all the denying people do will not change that one whit.

Read again the Dr. David Price article I linked to above. That is exactly how it will be. I deeply wish it were not so but nature just does not give a damn Mike. And saying that I wish it were so is a low blow. I would never accuse a person of having such a psychopathic wish and I am deeply disappointed that you made such an accusation.

I'm going to bed now. I just don't feel like talking about this anymore tonight.

Ron P.

Yair...with respect...there were a few pretty decent public works built and a good bit of scientific enquiry and a good many novels written and some pretty decent music composed before the age of FF...yes?

Did you know Michael Greer recently said, "Everyone who relies on medications to live is going to die?"

Its true.

But then again, everyone gets to die one day.


A thought experiment if you will. Let's say that we silence all the doomer talk and predictions that seem to go along with peak oil. Now lets say we convince the world with our charts and graphs that peak oil is real and is near at hand. Now what? Remember you can't make any predictions about how the decline in oil production might play out in the near or distant future. And we can't make any assumptions about oil affecting the economy, technical progress or anything else. Everything must be proven by scientific analysis.

"Now what?"

I'm afraid that's all you can do, to do it properly. People will decide for themselves what to do. I DO NOT HAVE ANSWERS.

Even though I'm technically a "doomer," that doesn't mean I think anything goes. I have this strange obsession with wanting to know the truth, as best as we can determine. For example, no matter how bad things get, I will not subscribe to homeopathic "medicine."

In my part-time job, I've seen EMTs on the scenes of really, really bad incidents maintain a calm and decorum and tact that is beautiful to watch. They don't run around saying, "The patients are all going to DIE!"

The statement serves no purpose, even though it might come true, and no useful work gets done.

What if the doomers are getting useful work done by making bold statements? What if they are serving a purpose? I would say they are. What if you're wrong about homeopathic medicine? (Not that I think you are) But ... The truth can be very hard to discern.

Personally, I think there is room for all of the PO voices from the technoweenies to the most out spoken doomers. Even you! ;>) It's even good to hear from the cornucopians. I've taken away a bit from most all of them. Let 'em speak! Not like we can shut 'em up anyway. In the end each individual will decide which version of reality sounds the most plausible to them. As you say "people will decide for themselves".

"What if the doomers are getting useful work done by making bold statements?"

What if they're not?

Bold statements do not make claims true.

"What if they are serving a purpose?"

What if they're not?

Which illustrates why these speculative conversations about the future are counterproductive.

The fact is, you do not need to make a single claim about the future to make a case for the severity of peak oil. There is enough you can cite in the present that is unambiguous to make the case for you. See "Deepwater Horizon."

What if they are?

What if they're not?

What if they are?

What if they're not?

Jeebus, this place is going down the toilet if we've come to this.

When the stuff hits the fan, clearly, a lot of people will be able to say "I told you so".

Almost every time there's a paroxysm in the culture, some reckoning or another, people go running around saying "why weren't we told, why weren't we warned?!", well, actually, in every case there were voices well in advance telling and warning. But folks didn't want to hear it, and the voices were shouted down and derided, if not prosecuted.

These voices are all over the spectrum. Sure, everybody says "over the top" stuff once in a while. But you picked an odd target - Greer is a remarkably reason-based voice, if you don't cherry pick provocative sound bites. Do I agree with everything he says? Of course not. Would he want me too? Of course not! See what he writes about "dissensus".

Why waste your time whining about the likes of JHK and JMG? I personally know many people that have had their eyes opened by their writings. Really.

And what makes you think that the pharmaceutical pipeline can and will keep pumping out the stuff that is keeping so many people alive at a price they can afford? Because you can't imagine otherwise? Whistling past the graveyard?

"And what makes you think that the pharmaceutical pipeline can and will keep pumping out the stuff that is keeping so many people alive at a price they can afford?"

You're dichtomizing: I never said it would keep "pumping out the stuff." I don't know.


I am not dichotomizing. So, you think it is a possibility that people dependent on medicine for their lives might die? Not "all", but mabye some? Maybe a lot?

Maybe JMG wasn't so far off?

You are coming across as rather totalistic, pedantic and weird.

When the stuff hits the fan, clearly, a lot of people will be able to say "I told you so".

Well, sure, that was the essence of the original issue, which has been utterly forgotten amidst all the shouting. With seven billions on this planet, and considerable numbers making every conceivable prediction, it's guaranteed to be true in any conceivable scenario that "a lot of people will be able to say 'I told you so'", simply by sheer accident.

Almost every time there's a paroxysm in the culture, some reckoning or another, people go running around saying "why weren't we told, why weren't we warned?!", well, actually, in every case there were voices well in advance telling and warning.

Well, sure again. Unfortunately, they were warned according to, let's call it the Caffeine Plan. You know the drill. Caffeine causes cancer. Caffeine reduces the risk of cancer. Caffeine is harmless. Caffeine is almost a 'gateway drug'. And on and on in the same vein until everyone's dizzy in a tizzy. The impossibility is to pick the predictions that are right out of an infinite supply of hyped-up cocksure noise. (BTW medicine deteriorated to the Caffeine Plan level a few decades ago when statistical significance was all but tossed out the window; as a pharmacist friend of mine observed, if we ever brought it back, we'd have to toss a major portion of today's pharmacopoeia out the window - there's an awful lot of stuff we'd be better off without.)

Anyway it might be better to crank the thermostat down a notch and admit, We Really Don't Know For Sure. Oh, and admit that there's an awful lot of room between being unable to afford millions for a transplant that might or might not give someone an extra three months - which we really can't afford even now (look up QALYs, Quality Adjusted Life Years, and follow where it takes you) - and not being able to afford other treatments that extend life far longer at orders of magnitude less cost.

Personally, I think there is room for all of the PO voices from the technoweenies to the most out spoken doomers. Even you! ;>) It's even good to hear from the cornucopians. I've taken away a bit from most all of them. Let 'em speak! Not like we can shut 'em up anyway.

Love this!!

Nobody "owns" PO. I get something useful from many of the various discourses. I adore Orlov. Kunstler has many valuable insights and analyses - when he's not talking about gender or race. TOD provides yet another perspective - from the professional community. I don't want anyone silenced.


"Now what?" well MikeB looks like people are already dying.

"TUCSON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A transplant candidate, pulled from a waiting list because Arizona enacted sweeping budget cuts, has died, probably due to the cutbacks, a hospital said."


just the very first glimmer from the tip of the iceberg.

Don in Maine

Don, What you've done is a classic case of "observational selection." You go out and seek the hits. It's also called "confirmation bias."

I suppose "naming" or "categorizing" it makes it easier to push aside, (What is that called?) Seriously the doom and horror that we speak of happens on a very personal level. Each individual and family will experience it and relate that experience in it's own way.

One death because of budget cuts is just a drop in the bucket, of no great meaning. I suspect you would feel differently if it were one of your parents or one of your children. How large a number will it take?

Tomorrow brings two things, your best hopes and your worst fears.

Don in Maine

"How large a number will it take?"

That question is easy to answer. The quotation that provoked this conversation was this:

"Everyone who depends on medications to live is going to die."

Therefore, it would take everyone depending on medications dying. (And the context wasn't budget cuts, but oil disruptions.)

I am STUNNED at how people here are bending themselves into pretzels to defend the indefensible.

"Everyone who depends on medications to live is going to die."

Therefore, it would take everyone depending on medications dying. (And the context wasn't budget cuts, but oil disruptions.)

I am STUNNED at how people here are bending themselves into pretzels to defend the indefensible.

Would it make you feel better if I said I AGREE with you that not EVERYONE is going to die? That an all-inclusive statement is usually untrue?

Would you agree that it is very likely that only the wealthy elite, a tiny percentage of the population, will continue to have access to these types of medications in the future? That even before the 2008 financial crisis, before peak oil (2005?), many of the poor did not have access? And that with oil depletion and economic collapse - unemployment, the pension crises, etc, etc, more and more people will lose access?

And can you then understand why I wasn't outraged by the use of the word "everyone" when maybe he should have said "nearly everyone"?


"nearly everyone" is still sheer, untestable speculation.

"Making me feel better" is entirely beside the point.

"nearly everyone" is still sheer, untestable speculation.

"Making me feel better" is entirely beside the point.

Oh fer Crimminy's sake! I'm perfectly happy to try and make you feel as miserable as you might want to feel, despite the fact that that most certainly isn't my explicit goal. Kay?

Let me just ask you a two simple questions.

Using Joseph Tainter's Definition of “Collapse”

With the concept of a complex society in hand, we must move on to a working definition of what we mean by the “collapse” of such a society. For Tainter, put in its simplest terms, collapse represents a relatively rapid transition from a higher to a lower level of complexity. If the transition is long and drawn out, then it is not so much a collapse as a decline. Collapse proper occurs in the space of a few decades or less.

Do you at least accept the possibility that our current society could conceivablly collapse in the next few decades due to resource depletion and the increasing cost of maintaining our current level of complexity?

If so, do you not therefore consider it a logical consequence of collapse that a significant portion of those individuals whose lives depend directly on that very complexity in order to survive, would no longer be able to have access to the infrastructure, the medical specialists, the actual pharmaceuticals, etc...etc...

I mean it's pretty simple really, if A depends on B to exist and without B, A can not exist, then if for some reason you no longer have B, then what do you think happens to A?

This really isn't an over the top doomer prediction or an expression of desire to witness massive suffering.
If you accept the possibility that we might witness the collapse of our society in our lifetimes, and to be honest I find it hard to see how we escape that scenario, than you have to admit the JMG actually has a point.

Please look up the thread. The comment about "making me feel better is beside the point" was answering a comment by lilith, not you.

You could conceivably depict "collapse" as an improvement. You could conceivably depict collapse as apocalyptic. You could conceivable depict collapse all over the map.

Some people get doe-eyed over Cuba. Others cite Easter Island. Speculation is not Truth.

"Lower level of complexity" says nothing about everyone on medications dying. It's a Rorschach Blot upon which people here seemingly project their own anxieties.

I think the most interesting aspect of this discussion, as I said before, is why so many people here choose to accept statements uncritically and defend the indefensible.

People here have their minds made up, apparently. The comments here remind me of what Jung said about Freud: he was a man obsessed with fixed ideas.

"Lower level of complexity" says nothing about everyone on medications dying. It's a Rorschach Blot upon which people here seemingly project their own anxieties.

Mike, you seem to not be able to grasp that we have an incredibly complex global civilization that has achieved its current level of complexity by exploiting easily accessible, (until now) fossil fuel. Once that complexity begins to unravel, due to reduced inputs of energy, and it will, it's only a matter of time before anything that depends on that complexity for it's survival will no longer survive.

Today in the US 50 million Americans do not have health care, that trend is increasing. If they get seriously ill they go to a hospital emergency room for treatment and most of them are unable to afford their prescribed medication now. How many people do you think will get medication or treatment if our society continues to collapse? Or are you simply incapable of connecting the dots?

This isn't a Rorschach Blot or a projection of anxieties. Given what we know it is a very likely scenario. You may of course choose to give it a very low probability of occurring or even deny it outright. Personally I think you are displaying an extreme head in the sand kind of behavior here. There is a big difference between unrealistic pessimism, aka, doomerism and realism. You seem to be having a very difficult time distinguishing between them.

I think the most interesting aspect of this discussion, as I said before, is why so many people here choose to accept statements uncritically and defend the indefensible.

That seems to be exactly what you are doing!

Once that complexity begins to unravel, due to reduced inputs of energy, and it will, it's only a matter of time before anything that depends on that complexity for it's survival will no longer survive.

One could think that complexity could go on with a lot less fossil fuel energy. Also, that it is not necessary to ship apples to China to make apple-juice there and ship it back to the U.S.
I think what you mean is: the consequences of the many jobs lost and bankrupt companies will unravel complexity.

One could think that complexity could go on with a lot less fossil fuel energy.

Yes it certainly could and I personally expect it to do so. But it is highly unlikely, due to the diminishing returns of maintaining our current level of complexity, that the support systems we now take for granted can be maintained far into the future. Collapse by Tainter's definition means a relatively rapid reduction in levels of complexity.

While this doesn't necessarily mean we are all going to be living in caves it does mean that as a society we will be less able to afford maintaining the infrastructure and the R&D necessary that goes into providing the very energy intensive supply chains that are the basis of our highly specialized modern medicine and pharmaceutical industry.

Tainter begins by categorizing and examining the often inconsistent explanations that have been offered for collapse in the literature.[4] In Tainter's view, while invasions, crop failures, disease or environmental degradation may be the apparent causes of societal collapse, the ultimate cause is an economic one, inherent in the structure of society rather than in external shocks which may batter them: diminishing returns on investments in social complexity. For contrast, Jared Diamond's 2005 book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, focuses on environmental mismanagement as a cause of collapse. Finally, Tainter musters modern statistics to show that marginal returns on investments in energy, education and technological innovation are diminishing today. The globalised modern world is subject to many of the same stresses that brought older societies to ruin.[5]

However, Tainter is not entirely apocalyptic: "When some new input to an economic system is brought on line, whether a technical innovation or an energy subsidy, it will often have the potential at least temporarily to raise marginal productivity" (p. 124). Thus, barring continual conquest of your neighbors (which is always subject to diminishing returns), innovation that increases productivity is – in the long run – the only way out of the dismal science dilemma of declining marginal returns on added investments in complexity.

Source Wikipedia

it does mean that as a society we will be less able to afford maintaining the infrastructure and the R&D necessary that goes into providing the very energy intensive supply chains that are the basis of our highly specialized modern medicine and pharmaceutical industry.

Fred, I don't see R&D absolutely necessary for supply chains. But yes for new medicines, like antibiotics (what Swanson mentioned).
The essential supply chains use only a fraction (10-20% ?) of total transportation energy consumption.

Fred, I don't see R&D absolutely necessary for supply chains.

Han, I think I'm probably trying to fit, a lot of connecting of the dots here, into not enough explanation.

If you have some time watch these YouTube clips of Tainter's talk: 'Collapse of Complex Societies' he goes into the details. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.



Meds and chips are the spices of the post-industrial age. The value is so great that even when the markets collapse 90% they will still be solidly viable....for the applications that still survive.

When antibiotics fail there will be phage pharmacologists springing up to tackle the needs. No, they won't fix everything, but I suspect we'll be surprised at "work-around" solutions that turn out to better than what we've built as the "industrial" solution.

"People here have their minds made up, apparently."

Sure, Mike, and some of us call it as we see it. It starts something like this:

Arizona Funding Cuts Cause Patients to Be Dropped From Transplant Lists

In further news that the U.S. residents among us can be unspeakably proud of, the state of Arizona has, thanks to budget cuts, stopped funding some life-saving organ transplants for patients who cannot pay for them themselves.


You may think this is a temporary condition, but it's certain to be permanent for some of these folks. The 'little' stages of collapse are already here. Stay tuned.

Another side if the problem not yet mentioned is antibiotics. When Penicillin was first discovered, it was a wonderfully effective drug. My father (who was a doctor), told me that he once gave it to a patient for meningitis, as an experiment. At the time, the appropriate dose level was still unknown. The patient had been expected to die, yet, recovered rapidly. Since then, many other antibiotics have been discovered, yet as time passed, the bacteria have developed their own immunity to each. Now, MRSA is becoming more common and I'm told that a young lady I know almost died from it last year.

The development of new drugs to replace those which no longer are effective requires considerable research effort, which must continue if the battle against infections is to be won. A similar ongoing effort is required in an effort to thwart pandemic viral epidemics. Cutting back on health care with the large populations now living on Earth would seem to be a recipe for large die off events as the delivery of medical care declines in effectiveness. If civilized societies can no longer find the money to pay for these efforts, which include education as well as support for the people doing the work after graduation, the potential for major pandemics would become greater with each year. That effort must include the delivery of appropriate health care to the populations and monitoring of those populations to detect any outbreak of new infectious diseases before they can reach pandemic proportions...

E. Swanson

Chomsky alone is worth the time. Notice how he talks about what IS happening as opposed to speculating needlessly about an uncertain future. The man's mind is a Universe.

Agreed. Chomsky is the greatest living intellect in the US in my opinion.

But note his absence in the advertising dependent media. I suppose that is what is to be expected in a country where Christian and Jewish state zionists rule the roost, and informed debate on US foreign policy is seen as ungodly as well as anti-American and pro-terrorist.

Noam Chomsky, "Breaking the Israel-Palestine Deadlock": http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27188.htm

Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

Working gas in storage was 3,097 Bcf as of Friday, December 31, 2010, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 135 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 48 Bcf less than last year at this time and 190 Bcf above the 5-year average of 2,907 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 23 Bcf below the 5-year average following net withdrawals of 81 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 180 Bcf above the 5-year average of 899 Bcf after a net withdrawal of 38 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 33 Bcf above the 5-year average after a net drawdown of 16 Bcf. At 3,097 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

FYI, here are the updated global C+C numbers versus US annual oil prices:

Global Annual Crude Oil Production Versus US Oil Annual Spot Crude Prices
(EIA, crude + condensate)

2002: 67.16 mbpd & $26
2003: 69.43 mbpd & $31
2004: 72.48 mbpd & $42
2005: 73.72 mbpd & $57
2006: 73.46 mbpd & $66
2007: 73.00 mbpd & $72
2008: 73.71 mbpd & $100
2009: 72.31 mbpd & $62
2010: 73.44* mbpd & $79

*Through 9/10 and subject to revision

There was a clear price signal from 2002 to 2005, as oil prices rose from $26 to $57. In response, global crude oil production increased by 6.56 mbpd.

Annual oil prices from 2006 to 2010 inclusive have all exceeded the $57 level, and four of the five years have shown year over year increases in annual oil prices. In response, global annual crude oil production has so far not exceeded the 2005 level, and in fact we have seen a cumulative shortfall--on the order of a billion barrels of oil--between what we would have produced at the 2005 rate and what was actually produced.

But of course the real battle is in the global net export market, and a plausible scenario is that the global supply of Available Net Exports, i.e., the volume of global net exports not consumed by Chindia, is in the process of falling from 41 mbpd 2005 to about 27 mbpd in 2015.

I'm trying to picture (crudely) in my head what the graph of price times quantity looks like:

  • Year...sold ......price .... .......wealth transferred
  • ___________________________

  • 2002:.. 67.16 ..mbpd * $26 == 1742 MegaDollars per day
  • ___________________________

  • 2003:.. 69.43 ..mbpd * $31 == 2139 MegaDollars
  • ___________________________

  • 2004:.. 72.48 ..mbpd * $42 == 3024 MegaDollars
  • ___________________________

  • 2005:.. 73.72 ..mbpd * $57 == 4161 MegaDollars
  • ___________________________

  • 2006:.. 73.46 ..mbpd * $66 == 4818 MegaDollars
  • ___________________________

  • 2007:.. 73.00 ..mbpd * $72 == 5256 MegaDollars
  • ___________________________

  • 2008:.. 73.71 ..mbpd * $100 == 7300 MegaDollars
  • ___________________________

  • 2009:.. 72.31 ..mbpd * $62 == 4464 MegaDollars
  • ___________________________

  • 2010:.. 73.44* .mbpd * $79 == 5767 MegaDollars
  • ______________________________________________________________

    Wealth transferred = exports*price and NOT total production*price.

    That is wealth transferred to external nations and would be an interesting graph to see for Westexas's ELM model.

    However, wealth transferred into the oil patch from other sectors of the economy is still validly measured by taking the product as a rough estimate (average price times quantity) although more correctly one would have to do the calculus I think and find the actual area under the daily Price times daily Quantity versus time graph.

    BRENT vs WTI

    I just calculated the spread between Brent and WTI at $6.52. I have NEVER seen the spread that wide. 1) What does this mean? 2) What are the ramifications?

    I am guessing and summarizing other posts when I say it most likely means we are well supplied in the USA but other OECD countries are not as well supplied.

    I am also guessing that a spread that wide could detour tankers from the USA to other ports where a higher price is available.

    Comments appreciated.


    You could also check from the current drumbeat http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7336/756726 and this one http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7336/756740

    Or just search for "Brent" in this Drumbeat

    Maybe this explains why imports have been down? If nothing else, I suspect our high inventories are going to quickly go away if this persists.

    This Week In Petroleum Crude Oil Estimated Contract Prices

     	      12/24/10 	12/31/10  01/01/10 (year ago)
    Total OPEC  	90.22 	  NA 	    75.77
    Total Non-OPEC  88.61 	  NA 	    75.26
    Total World  	89.54 	  NA 	    75.55
    United States  	86.67 	  NA 	    74.01

    The US has the cheapest oil in the world and the gap is widening. One year ago the average difference was about $1.50 now it is about $3.00. They did not have the data for the last week in 2010 but I would suspect the gap widened even further and even further today as we see the Brent Vs, WTI gap widen.

    The reason is very simple. They are bidding more for the oil than we are and therefore they are getting the oil at a higher price. This is clearly a supply and demand phenomenon.

    You would think that due to the fact that oil is fungible that the price would be the same everywhere except for the difference in shipping cost. But I suspect that because the US is such a huge market that we can bid less for the oil and get what the suppliers cannot sell at a higher price elsewhere. But that can last only as long as we can get all we need at a lower price of course.

    Ron P.

    But that can last only as long as we can get all we need at a lower price of course.

    Storage have been shrinking for weeks now.

    I agree with the bidding aspect - as it has been quite clear since mid-November that China is the high bidder in the Mideast, and gets to take home the oil.

    In addition, it may be less practical to ship oil from Venezuela, Nigeria, and of course Canada, to more distant locations - which would be more costly as more bunker fuel is used on the longer voyage. As the price of oil goes higher, shipping costs generally (but not necessarily) go up proportionally.

    I guess the "captive source" problem is a reason that Canada is building a pipeline to the west coast to ship oil to the Far East. Also Venezuela is building a refining plant for its heavy crude this year with Chinese financing and plans to sell its Citgo operation here. Maybe Venezuela will prefer to ship oil at a higher price to China. Mexico is also building a refinery for its heavy oil. Oil traders here should pay heed of the adage "it is a short worm that doesn't turn."

    Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis - January 5, 2011 - Repeat of a negative Arctic Oscillation leads to warm Arctic, low sea ice extent

    Arctic sea ice extent for December 2010 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month. These low ice conditions are linked to a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, similar to the situation that dominated the winter of 2009-2010.
    The low ice conditions in December occurred in conjunction with above-average air temperatures in regions where ice would normally expand at this time of year. Air temperatures over eastern Siberia were 6 to 10 degrees Celsius (11 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in December. Over the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Bay/Davis Strait and Hudson Bay, temperatures were at least 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average. Southern Baffin Island had the largest anomalies, with temperatures over 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal. By sharp contrast, temperatures were lower than average (4 to 7 degrees Celsius, 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) over the Alaska-Yukon border, north-central Eurasia, and Scandinavia.

    The warm temperatures in December came from two sources: unfrozen areas of the ocean continued to release heat to the atmosphere, and an unusual circulation pattern brought warm air into the Arctic from the south. Although the air temperatures were still below freezing on average, the additional ocean and atmospheric heat slowed ice growth.

    China eyes state rail plan

    The writing seems to be on the wall. Cars are not the future. How else will China, and 8 other nations, see this as a profitable venture unless they see less and less driving in the future for the US? China will happily sacrifice the US motorist to stake their claim at dwindling global exports to continue their expansion. Expect major backlash over this as Americans view this as a threat to their freedom.

    I look forward to high-speed rail in this country, but apparently, based on some of the user comments below the article, I am one of a few.

    I would look forward to it too, but don't see it happening with the "can't-do" attitude of our present crop of politicians. They seem fully intent on keeping the States left behind as the rest of the developed world and now China move forward and make laps around us in building out the key technologies to salvage a post-peak-oil future. When your political and media classes are bought and paid for by the business interests who stand to profit from expensive fossil fuels, denial reigns supreme. Just look at the "cheap natural gas forever" meme that seems to be circulating these days - nobody in the MSM bothers to check the underlying facts, high costs, depletion rates, etc. because they'd stand to lose revenue from some of their biggest advertisers. The politicians do nothing to change the picture because their campaigns are bankrolled by the same. Heck, I'd even settle for pre-1950's-style streetcars, but even that seems unattainable in the current political environment. I think it will take a real crisis to get the public to wake up to the reality of PO and demand answers, but even that is no guarantee given the effectiveness of the spin doctors (and of course by then it will most likely be too late anyway, if it's not already).

    A reversal on carbs

    A growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America's ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

    One of the scientists interviewed in the article says we didn't evolve to eat so many carbs, and for some people, it becomes too much and diabetes develops.

    Gary Taubes has a new book out about this. It doesn't contain any new info, but is shorter and meant to appeal to a wider audience than Good Calories, Bad Calories, which was a bit on the coneheaded side.

    Over the holidays, my mom mentioned that we should all be tested for "insulin resistance". You see...it is not our fault that we eat too many refined carbs and sugar. It is our faulty genes/metabolism/physiology and our body's inability to cope that is to blame. It never dawned on her that the family's diet may be to blame for the "faulty" insulin response.

    My guess is that the body can only produce so much insulin in response to high amounts of carbs/sugars. The inability to produce more is then viewed as "resistance" and blamed on physiology. But I am not a doctor so I could be wrong.

    To be fair...as the article points out, the reason we eat so many carbohydrates is because the government and the medical establishment told us to. (With little scientific evidence, as Taubes details.) They told us to cut back on fat and meat. We did. Something had to fill the gap, and that turned out to be carbs.

    Hmmm...I am not so sure. Government/Medical Establishment did tell us cut back on meats and fats, but I don't think they were suggesting "carbs" as a substitute, but rather more fruits/vegetables. Yes fruits and vegetables do have carbs, but not to the extent of processed foods. IMO, the processed food companies took this low-fat gov/med recommendation and ran with it. The marketing of 0 fat twinkies was born.

    Yes. I like to call it the "great fat scare of the late 20th/early 21st century". :) I remember it fondly because I bought into it. It was a very effective campaign and what amazed me is how quickly corporations were able to modify production to accommodate the trend. Virtually overnight there were 0 fat options offered by all processed food manufacturers. Who says corporations can't adapt. It was bliss. I could eat 12 0 fat Devil's Food Cake cookies and not feel guilty!

    Supposedly, companies ramped up processed food calories by offsetting lower fat with even more sugar for taste. I couldn't verify this though with the products I was eating. Seemed to have the same level of sugar even in low-fat options.

    It was a testament to the effectiveness of big media and advertising. It lasted for a solid decade or so.

    I no longer eat any processed foods. It is all "raw" veggies, fruits, meats, and nuts. I have never felt better.

    One other thought. I would not recommend high fat/protein, low carb if you run and/or do extensive cardio work. Your mind, sleep, and mood will suffer. If you go for anaerobics instead, fat/protein diet should work well.

    This guy sums it up pretty nicely:


    Government/Medical Establishment did tell us cut back on meats and fats, but I don't think they were suggesting "carbs" as a substitute, but rather more fruits/vegetables.

    They did suggest more fruits and vegetables, and that is definitely something that can be improved on. But they also suggested eating more rice and pasta, to replace the meats and fats we weren't supposed to be eating.

    And "they" have used tax law + payments to farmers to get more low-cost carbs into the hands of the citizens.

    Low cost carbs are a big part of the Navajo and the Navajo have some of the highest rates of diabetes.

    Well one reason we eat so many carbohydrates is that is what gives us life. Carbohydrates are what we digest/burn to give us energy just like hydrocarbons are what an internal combustion engine burns to give it energy.

    An engine burns hydrocarbons and turns the carbon into carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and the hydrogen into water. The human engine only gets to burn the carbon because the hydrogen is already in the hydrate form, or already water. But we burn the carbon in our lungs and exhale carbon dioxide and water vapor.

    Carbohydrates come in many forms like sugars, starches, glycogen and even cellulose.

    Edit: We can get energy "carbon" from other sources such as fats and protein. From Wikipedia:

    Foods high in carbohydrate include fruits, sweets, soft drinks, breads, pastas, beans, potatoes, bran, rice, and cereals. Carbohydrates are a common source of energy in living organisms, however, no carbohydrate is an essential nutrient in humans. Carbohydrates are not necessary building blocks of other molecules, and the body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats.

    Ron P.

    Well one reason we eat so many carbohydrates is that is what gives us life.

    And yet...we're eating far more carbs now than we did before the low-fat guidelines came out (ca. 1980). Somehow, we managed to stay alive back then. Not to mention even further back.

    As nutrition scientists try to find the ideal for the future, others look to history and evolution for answers. One way to put our diet in perspective is to imagine the face of a clock with 24 hours on it. Each hour represents 100,000 years that humans have been on the Earth.

    On this clock, the advent of agriculture and refined grains would have appeared at about 11:54 p.m. (23 hours and 54 minutes into the day). Before that, humans were hunters and gatherers, eating animals and plants off the land. Agriculture allowed for the mass production of crops such as wheat and corn, and refineries transformed whole grains into refined flour and created processed sugar.

    Well.. you're right that carbs give us energy. It seems clearly applicable to this site that we have simply gone into a state of being so glutted on surplus energy that we don't really know what to do with ourselves.

    'Give us this day our daily Bread' of course isn't quite eternal, but grows from the early parts of our agrarian experiment, where the Fallen and Risen gods.. Isis, Jesus and perhaps John Barleycorn were sometimes considered representations of the grains that kept us alive.. but they couldn't have predicted this!

    Another piece to the Carb question is that the variety of grains has also evaporated, and we're really eating from less than maybe 10 basic grains, and of those, a few are way out ahead and are so processed down that we're not even getting the nutrient variety from that species, either.

    We've gone all euclidean with our world, trying to boil it all down to extremely simplistic answers.. and cutting off our 'Knows' despite our face..

    ...a state of being so glutted on surplus energy that we don't really know what to do with ourselves.

    Exactly. So we eat and get obese. Eating out of boredom.

    Heck no, not here! Excess energy creates things to go to: plays, sports, out of town games, competitive travel leagues to surrounding states, not to mention hauling kids to birthday parties and friends all over the city. We overeat because fast-food is, well, fast. Eating at home is a little cheaper, but not much unless you go from scratch, but it IS healthier.

    I wanted to make one other note. I believe most Americans are eating high carb/sugar foods because these are the cheapest option; getting the biggest bang for their buck if you will. Fats and proteins (meat, soy, nuts) are expensive. For people to be able to eat the large amounts of food that they seem to do in the US (obesity rate 70+%?) and still be able to afford housing/gas/etc, they need cheaper options. Cheapest usually means the most corn/sugar/grain and the least nutrients.

    Nutrient dense foods are expensive, so most of us are fed by on petroleum dependent grains, and the biocide and ecological destruction that follows this industrial process.
    Get your carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits, not from grains, and you will be much healthier. Go with grass fed meats also, from a local source.

    Grass raised beef actually sequesters carbon, when done properly.

    Yes, grass fed beef can be good for the environment, as well as good
    for your health. See www.eatwild.com If anyone is interested, we have
    160 acres of ideal cattle raising land for sale :) At the current (and
    most certainly future) price of fuel, it is too far away from our home
    to continue to be feasible for us to use it.

    We have a small herd of American Milking Devons. We had a young bull butchered last spring, which is the best meat I've ever tasted.

    I don't, however, buy the idea that grass-fed beef is good for the environment, maybe a little less immediately devastating, is all.

    You still have to take over acreage, and you need fuel-powered equipment to cut, dry, rake, bale and store hay. You have to fence off land, and you have to keep it maintained. You need a little grain to supplement their hay and grass (especially if you're taking the milk), and you have to have a waste disposal system (in our case, composting and spreading, which require spreaders and tractors).

    Small-scale, local farms just practice "biocide" with a small "b."

    I don't, however, buy the idea that grass-fed beef is good for the environment, maybe a little less immediately devastating, is all.

    Watch the video in the vimeo link below it is a bit of a paradigm change in thinking about large herbivores such as cattle. However we may have to rethink small scale boxed in or fenced in cattle. The other scientist is also thinking out side the box with regards grassland ecosystems. He can't be accused of thinking small.

    Holistic Management - Reversing Desertification with Livestock in Zimbabwe
    DateMonday, November 8, 2010 at 11:43AM

    An article from this month's New Agriculturist features the work of Allan Savory and Holsitic Management.

    "Continued land degradation is a threat to food security, leading to starvation among the most acutely affected communities and robbing the world of productive land,"

    New Agriculturist Article:


    Global Voices of Science
    Interactive feature: Pleistocene Park Also of 125th Anniversary interest

    Sergey A. Zimov, author of this month's essay, is the director of the
    Northeast Science Station in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia. In
    "Pleistocene Park" he hopes to reconstitute the long-gone ecosystem of the Pleistocene epoch
    that supported vast populations of large animals including mammoths, horses, wolves, and even tigers.
    His bold visions of controlling and restoring ecosystems have earned him coverage in books, documentaries and other media.

    "Pleistocene Park directly tests the role of large herbivores in creating and maintaining grassland ecosystems..."

    The problem is that no mode of production scales to 7 billion humans. That's it in an nutshell. 7 billion humans are simply not sustainable on this planet. That's all. I have come to think that until and unless "we" can get this burned into our consciousness, everything else is pissing up a rope.

    You know, if I were to put my tin-foil hat on, I could claim that the original Government/Medical Establishment "findings" were due to the realization that we were not going to be able to support the rising populations of the world on meats, proteins, fruits, and veggies. Sugars and grains were our only chance in hell of being able to keep everyone alive.

    Big tractors and grain harvesting work so well together. I would imagine for fruits and veggies...not so much.

    Fruits and veggies = localization
    Grain = globalization

    But I need a little more schooling on the subject.

    Much simpler, tons/calories per acre.


    The problem is that no mode of production scales to 7 billion humans.

    Bingo! I'm thinking of 500 million- but I'm an optimist.

    If that's the video where the guy questions conventional wisdom about cattle--overgrazing--"causing" desertification, I've seen it. It is truly astonishing.

    He goes to deserted, abandoned areas--and introduces cattle. And the places come back alive. It's magnificent.

    This also illustrates the folly of "hunting to survive" in an apocalyptic world, if a relative handful of humans essentially decimated mega-fauna the world over. The only species in sufficient abundance to hunt after the first few months would be humans.

    "You still have to take over acreage, and you need fuel-powered equipment to cut, dry, rake, bale and store hay. You have to fence off land, and you have to keep it maintained...."

    Absolutely - a new tract of land can cost some real money for improvements/maintenance. We put in new
    perimeter fences, sprigged bermuda, built a barn and working pens, cleaned out the water well, and did
    interior fencing. It has a 8 acre flood control pond and two other ponds, a 20 acre bottom land
    bermuda field and excellent native grass; bordered on two sides with blacktop roads. If we were just
    starting out, we would build our homestead there. However we are settled closer to my town job and
    cannot move at this point; very disappointing. We will advertise in the Dallas and OKC papers.

    Pasture land can be improved with rotational grazing - but that takes cross-fencing. You can't really
    depend on interior or perimeter electric fencing if you don't live on the property to keep an eye on it.



    notanoilman: - yes bermuda. It is about
    the toughest forage in this climate----just
    extremely durable. Around here it greens
    up in early april. It will go dormant in
    our typical summer drought (August), then
    green up again with the (typical) fall
    rains until a hard freeze. Once established
    you almost can't kill it out; especially
    in your veggie garden! It makes excellent

    Ah, that was what I needed to find it, a forage grass. Will file that in the back of my mind in case I need something in the future, may do well down here.


    Your data is a bit faulty:

    We need a buffalo commons, reestablish the perennial grasses on the Plains, and let the ecosystem recover.
    This will sequester massive amounts of carbon.

    This is definitely part of it. Refined carbs are convenient. Rice and pasta keep forever, don't require refrigeration, and are very cheap per calorie (compare to meat or fresh produce). They are also the most profitable for the food companies.

    I think it's quite possible that the obesity problem will get worse before it gets better, as people downshift to cheaper foods.

    If we reach the point where people can't afford enough of even the cheap foods, then we may see an increase in lifespan. (Taubes argues that it wasn't eating lots of rice that made Asian people healthy, it was caloric restriction.)

    I can't speak for the general population, but my problem is not the government; my problem is that I love carbs, especially bread, cookies, and corn chips. I very rarely buy either cookies or corn chips, but when I do, a package of either has little chance of lasting much longer than a day. I should cut back or cut out bread as well but can't seem to go there yet.

    We all do-- grains have opioids in them, that give us a feeling of well being- a great evolutionary strategy!

    Speaking of bread tstreet, I saw some guy grabbing a loaf of bread out of the freezer section - the freezer section, I thought! Anyway, it's made with no flour, just natural grains, all organic. No more in price than a regular loaf of good bread. It's by far the best bread I've ever tried. Called Ezekial with an orange tinted label. It's kind of got a religious thing going on with the labeling, but the bread is great. Highly recommend it toasted.

    it's made with no flour, just natural grains

    That seems a bit of a contradiction or it would be rather coarse to say the least :) Actually, I keep bread in my freezer. Bake a batch and freeze it as soon as its cool enough. Defrosted or warmed in my Cookit is almost as good as fresh.


    We use predominantly Ezekiel and Sourdough breads and pasta in our house.

    The religious reference is to a description in the Bible of Sprouting the wheat berries before grinding them and making your dough. The chemistry of the seed changes (we're told), with growth enzymes that eliminate a couple toxins in the seed-shell (incl. phytic acid, again as I get it) and start converting the balance of the biomass into a more complete protein.

    Regular wheat flour, even whole wheat, can rob your digestive system of calcium and other minerals as this phytic acid gets digested. Sourdough and other Lacto-fermenting soaking techniques.. (our Pancake flour is soaking in Yoghurt for tomorrow's breakfast) help to pre-process that acid and make the grain easier to digest, with increased nutrients, to boot.


    Phytic acid is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially the bran portion of grains and other seeds. It contains the mineral phosphorus tightly bound in a snowflake-like molecule. In humans and animals with one stomach, the phosphorus is not readily bioavailable. In addition to blocking phosphorus availability, the “arms” of the phytic acid molecule readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well. In this form, the compound is referred to as phytate.

    Phytic acid not only grabs on to or chelates important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin,1 needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase,2 needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.3

    Interesting extra thought about Phosphates..

    Phytic acid will be much higher in foods grown using modern high-phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost.

    - could be part of the claim that Organic foods are 'more nutritious', even if part of it is just that they are removing fewer nutrients FROM your system as you digest. This would possibly explain why labs testing such foods side by side may not see the extra Phytic Acid as essentially a 'debit' on the food's nutritional value.

    (and with a nod to MikeB, the above still comes down to one's definition of Organic, since I'm sure Phosphorus is added to various organic crops and gardens. There's a lot to learn.. this one, Phytic Acid, is still off almost everyone's radars.. I'm still waiting to hear where this issue goes, and whether something else won't contradict it in 5 yrs!!)

    My guess is that the body can only produce so much insulin in response to high amounts of carbs/sugars.

    Good article: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/grains/gigl.html

    In the past, complex carbohydrates were considered much better than sugars, but it showed to be not that simple.

    Emphasis mine.

    High blood glucose levels and excessive insulin secretion are thought to contribute to the loss of the insulin-secreting function of the pancreatic beta-cells that leads to irreversible diabetes (6).

    So, over time it would appear that the more refined sugars/carbs that you eat, the less effective your body becomes at secreting the necessary amounts of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. And this is what I think leads to the convenient "insulin resistance" diagnosis - this loss of the insulin-secreting function. So it starts with a bad diet and not the other way around.

    If you make too much insulin, the cells that make it can loose their ability to produce it -- they simply fatigue and no longer secret it properly.

    he thought is that too much insulin leads to a protein misfolding that causes aggregation of the insulin proteins in the secretion cells (which are specialized) once those cells die or lose function you can lose the ability to make insulin.

    Insulin resistance is when the fat and muscle tissues do not respond to insulin by absorbing more glucose from the blood stream and when the liver tissues do not respond by releasing less glucose into the blood stream and instead store it as glycogen.


    I see. The article mentions both diet and genetics (amongst other factors) as possible cause. According to Wiki, it also looks like more research is needed to determine if high levels of sugar in the diet could be to blame.

    Too much sugar is the problem today of higher incidence. Too much sugar -- liquid sugar after being well fed is taxing the system.

    These are different malfunction mechanisms and both occur.

    ref on misfolded proinsulin and β-cell failure:

    Insulin is a powerful hormone, telling the liver to store sugar as starch and fat cells to take up glucose to convert it straight into fat. Yes Coke is basically fat -- pure liquid fat if you are well fed and guzzle 32 oz.

    Dysfunction of insulin pathway could indeed allow the opposite to occur and glucose to be released into the blood when it should not.

    High glucose in the blood could cause sugar modification of proteins leading to complications observed with diabetes.

    Interesting interview with Mr. Taubes:


    Taubes: So if someone tells you there’s no evidence for some controversial belief, you can be fairly confident that they’re a bad scientist. There’s always evidence, or there wouldn’t be a controversy. If somebody says that “we proved that this was true” or “we set out to prove that this was true” that’s another bad sign. The point here, as Popper noted, among others, is that you can never prove anything is true; you can only refute it. So researchers who talk about proving a hypothesis is true rather than testing it make me worried. . .

    and the really good scientists are the ones, almost by definition, who are most skeptical of evidence that seems to support their beliefs. They’re most aware of how they could have been fooled, how they could have screwed up, or how they might have missed artifacts in their experiment that could have explained what they observed.

    Yes. Taubes' specialty is not nutrition or obesity, but on how science goes wrong. His first book was about cold fusion.

    Economy links:

    Holiday store sales chilled: Retail sales were disappointing in December, but still the best in years.

    The young and the riskless shun the market: Young people are far more scared of the stock market than older people. I can't help thinking of Nate's example of the failing dam last night. The ones farthest away from the dam were the most scared. The ones living right by the dam were not scared at all, because it was simply too threatening.

    Jobless claims rise above 400,000 again: A rise, and a little higher than expected, but the holidays add a lot of uncertainty, even though they try to adjust for them.

    Bernanke strikes!

    Nordstrom's, Bloomingdales, Macy's.

    But not Target, prolly not Walmart, prolly not K-Mart, etc.

    "Feeling better now" middle class shoppers whose (liquidity driven), 401(K) aren't looking quite as anemic are shopping a little more easily. The lower income shoppers aren't so convinced.

    Bernanke's (Rasputin's) magic is working like a charm on the gullible.

    Greets Leanan,

    Two other websites, I think, are good for macroeconomic news.
    One is calculatedriskblog, and is a link here at TOD on the leftside navigation.
    The other is dshort.com

    A bit of a mixed bag, depending on the issue: market or employment:

    Commodities have been on a tear for the past several months while the Dollar weakened. The Dollar, however, rebounded following the Fed's official announcement of QE2 on November 3rd (a disappointment for Bernanke?) and then remained relatively range bound throughout December.

    On Friday of next week the CPI for December will be reported. Will we see evidence that core inflation is heating up? And how will the Dollar and commodities behave at the current technical junctures? These will critical topics over the next few weeks.


    In general the four-week moving average has been declining and that is good


    Note a commentator on the The young and the riskless shun the market

    "why do you think the market will go back up to 14,000 in a few years or 25,000 in 15 years? After the crash in 1929, it took until 1955 - 26 years! - to return to its pre-crash level. Not adjusting for inflation! And it had bear and bull periods just like we'll see for the next several decades.

    In 1999, when cabbies started telling me what stocks to buy I knew the market was no longer sustainable. I pulled everything out and put it into tax-free Muni's. I'm up 70%. I'll take that kind of return over the casino that is the stock market any day."

    Hamilton: Beware the boomers when setting energy policy

    In other words, most boomers will no longer be heated and cooled at their employer’s expense during the workday. They’ll be at home paying peak-time electricity rates as the furnace runs full-time during the winter and air conditioner blows 24/7 in the summer.

    This has huge implications for utilities as they move to time-of-use pricing for electricity. Boomers, as they head into their senior years, will have a more difficult time shifting their power use to cheaper off-peak periods from expensive peak periods. Many pre-boomers are already struggling to do so.


    Concerned about the senior backlash, the McGuinty government recently created the Ontario Energy and Property Tax credit, which offers up to $1,025 in relief for eligible seniors.

    The government, as of May, will also increase the number of off-peak hours under the time-of-using pricing plan. Relatively cheap off-peak pricing will start at 7 p.m. in the evening instead of 9 p.m., perhaps recognizing that boomers, as they age, hit the pillow earlier.

    See: http://www.thestar.com/business/cleanbreak/article/917350--hamilton-bewa...


    Time to get some off-peak batteries to store up that energy for day-time use. LOL. I am just kidding.

    But actually, I try to talk to my baby boom parents and they will not listen -- even though they are replacing appliances and central heat -- they refused to get a heat pump. The energy crunch won't hit them they tell me. It isnt there problem. LOL. Good grief.

    I have given up.

    From BBC: Pakistan government reverses unpopular fuel price rise

    Pakistan's government has rolled back a recent fuel price rise, in an apparent concession to the opposition after losing its majority in parliament.

    The 9% rise in the price of petrol and kerosene was described as "unbearable" by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) when it quit the government on Sunday.

    In a speech to the National Assembly on Thursday, Mr Gilani said fuel prices would be restored to the levels they were on 31 December.

    "All the political leadership has agreed that fuel prices should be reversed," he added. "It was a difficult task, an impossible one. But your consultation and consensus made it possible."

    Illnesses linked to BP oil disaster

    Gulf Coast residents and BP cleanup workers have linked the source of certain illnesses to chemicals present in BP's oil and the toxic dispersants used to sink it - illnesses that appear to be both spreading and worsening.

    Dr. Rodney Soto, a medical doctor in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has been testing and treating patients with high levels of oil-related chemicals in their blood stream. These are commonly referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's). Anthropogenic VOC's from BP's oil disaster are toxic and have negative chronic health effects.

    Dr. Soto is finding disconcertingly consistent and high levels of toxic chemicals in every one of the patients he is testing.

    Drilling In An Arctic Frontier

    Alaska's outer continental shelf is a starkly beautiful ecosystem populated by polar bears, bowhead whales, and arctic seabirds. It's also a bonanza for oil companies. Up to 23% of the oil and 21% of the natural gas remaining in the U.S. might be found there, according to government estimates. So despite the region's fragile ecology and threats posed by extreme weather and icebergs, oil companies are vying for access.

    DARPA awards $1.7M for ultracap energy storage

    Under the DARPA contract, Maxwell will work with researchers from the University of Massachusetts and the U.S. Navy to create a hybrid ultracap, a device that can act as a "capacity module, advanced battery pack and power management electronics" tool yet be light and small enough to be easily transported by soldiers in the field.