Drumbeat: January 8, 2011

Mexico heavy crude exports to hit 15-yr low in 2011

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Exports of Mex ican heavy oil will fall to the lowest level in 15 years in 2011 once a local refinery is upgraded, which could hit the profitability of U.S. refiners emerging from the bruising 2008-09 market downturn.

The start-up of a major refinery project will cut Maya heavy crude exports by some 110,000 barrels per day this year, according to government data.

The decline in Maya exports could pressure top Mexican crude oil customers like Valero Energy Corp, Exxon Mobil Corpand Chevron Corp who have seen their profit margins squeezed by lower supplies of heavy crude that is cheaper but more difficult to process.

Rare Earths Shortage Becoming Problem For Refiners

HOUSTON (Dow Jones)--The skyrocketing cost of rare-earth metals coming out of China is pushing up the cost of gasoline production in the U.S., the latest sign of the wide-reaching impact of Beijing's decision to restrict exports of the minerals.

Prices for some of the chemicals refiners use to process gasoline have risen exponentially after China, which controls about 95% of the world's rare-earth supply, said it would slash exports of the metals by 35% in 2011. The increase could raise gasoline production costs by about a penny a gallon and potentially lead some refiners to cut back on fuel production, and is expected to become a topic in many refiners' earnings conference calls in the first quarter of 2011.

Musings: 2011 Another Year of Robust Industry Capital Spending

The annual Barclays Capital survey of global exploration and production spending plans of oil and gas companies was recently released and its results signal a further healthy increase in expenditures, which should boost the revenues and earnings of oilfield service companies. The survey calls for a 10.8% increase in total global E&P spending to a record $490 billion, which follows on the estimated 10% increase in spending experienced in 2010. Growing optimism about a strengthening of the nascent economic recovery in the developed world, primarily the United States and Europe, combined with continuing rapid economic growth in developing economies underlies the strength in E&P spending.

Calderon Shuffles Mexico's Cabinet, Names Jose Meade as Energy Minister

Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced changes to his Cabinet, appointing a new energy minister who may be able to make more progress moving forward measures in Congress to boost oil production.

Brazil's Petrobras to speed up two pre-salt oil projects

Brazil's state-controlled oil and gas giant Petrobras announced on Friday its decision to speed up the operations of two pre-salt projects.

Analysis: Fitch Sees Stable Outlook for Latin America O&G Industry in 2011

Fitch Ratings expects the credit outlook for the Latin America oil and gas industry to remain stable in 2011, supported by solid global demand for oil and moderate improvement in operating margins, according to a new report released by Fitch Ratings.

Overall, the Latin American oil and gas sector's revenues and earnings improved in 2010 due to rising oil prices and the recovery of domestic demand. As a result, the companies have registered solid credit metrics and reported a strong liquidity.

Stop-work order issued after explosion rocks oilsands plant

EDMONTON — A stop-work order at the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. oilsands upgrader hit by an explosion and fire will not be lifted until the province determines the plant is safe, says Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.

U.S. Gas Assets Likely to Trade at Discount for 2011 M&A Deals

U.S. natural gas assets will likely continue trading at a large discount to equivalent liquids assets in merger and acquisitions (M&A) activity during 2011, with only a modest growth in gas prices predicted, said Eoin Coyne, M&A expert at London-based Evaluate Energy.

New black-oil terminal wants refinery leftovers

A founder of one of the Houston Ship Channel's largest oil storage terminals is planning a new facility to compete with his former company in the niche market of black oil.

A Good Week for BP, But It Still Faces Long Road to Recovery

BP has had a good start to 2011. Though it could hardly have been worse than the disaster that was 2010.

Venezuela eyes new power sources

The severe energy crisis Venezuela was experiencing in 2010 caused by a rare drought the previous year has prompted the country to seek new power sources, the power energy minister says.

Venezuela is the world's third largest hydroelectric energy generator for local consumption, only after Norway and Brazil, but the drought in 2009 led to a severe energy crisis in the country beginning early 2010, according to Electric Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez Araque.

PLN to shut down 4 power plants to cut down fuel consumption

The Jakarta Post quoted Mr Dahlan Iskan president director of state electricity firm PT PLN as saying that his company had planned to shut down four power plants in 2011 to cut down on oil based fuel consumption amid soaring global oil prices.

Supply of fuel: IPPs accuse Pepco of violating contractual obligations

ISLAMABAD: The independent power producers (IPPs) have accused the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) (reportedly defunct) of violating contractual obligations with regard to supply of fuel for power generation, sources told Business Recorder.

Alaska Legislature Expected to Revisit Oil Taxes

Momentum is building for a push in the coming weeks to roll back the oil tax increase that stands among the biggest legacies of Sarah Palin's time as Alaska's governor.

Book Review – Why We Hate The Oil Companies

What is Hofmeister all about? Bringing affordable, clean and sustainable energy to all Americans. He writes, “The truth is that affordable energy is essential for American economic growth. It is essential for our national security and position in world leadership. And it is necessary to maintain our quality of life.” He continues by saying affordable energy and environmental sustainability are challenges that require immediate attention.

Who is in charge of leading the way to affordable energy? The oil and utility companies? Government? American Citizens? The answer is not so black and white as Hofmeister explains. No one believes the oil companies – they are ranked 24 out of 24 in the industry “Who do you trust” poll and the government is ranked at 22. Not swell by any standards. Then we have American citizens who have been fed “information, misinformation and no information” and they are still electing politicians who have spent 40 years not making good energy policy decisions. We Americans have bad voting histories.

Arabian Gulf tanker rates decline on surplus vessels for hire

The cost of shipping Middle East crude oil to Asia, the world’s busiest route for supertankers, declined on a surplus of vessels for hire.

...Available vessels were “more than adequate” to meet demand, EA Gibson Shipbrokers Ltd in London said in a report e-mailed on Friday. The result has been a “stuttering start” to 2011 for VLCCs in the Arabian Gulf, it said.

Oil Declines as U.S. Adds Fewer Jobs Than Forecast, Pushing Stocks Lower

Crude oil fell to the lowest level in three weeks as a U.S. payroll report showed employers added fewer jobs last month than expected, pushing down stocks and other commodities.

North Sea Brent Crude Loadings to Climb 26.5% in February to 4.8M Barrels

North Sea Brent crude loadings for February will increase by 26.5 percent over January, according to a loading program obtained by Bloomberg News.

Unstoppable gold could hit US$2000 this year

Longer term, Mr. Barisheff noted three irreversible trends that will continue to boost demand for gold; an aging population, outsourcing and peak oil.

“These three mega trends will continue to lower the GDP, lower the tax revenue, create higher trade deficits, create higher unemployment, resulting in the need for further currency creation,” he said.

Nigeria: Attack in Niger Delta kills 2, wounds 6

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Gunmen in Nigeria's restive southern delta opened fire on a ceremony welcoming a former presidential adviser on the region back home, killing two people and wounding six others, police said Saturday.

Peter Kent's Oily New Portfolio

Within hours of being sworn in as Canada's new environment minister, Peter Kent didn't talk about deformed fish, acid rain, disappearing woodland caribou, or large lakes of toxic mining waste.

Oddly enough, the former newscaster mostly avoided any mention of his ministerial mandate including water conservation or enhancing "the quality of the natural environment."

Instead, the Tory politician, sounding like a grossly overpaid oil patch lobbyist, declared bitumen, an extremely dirty hydrocarbon, a gift to morality and economy.

Harper defends oil sands

Harper was asked in a televised news conference to react to comments by newly appointed Environment Minister Peter Kent, who characterised development of the oil sands as "ethical" in recent media interviews.

Harper replied that not only are the oil sands a source of economic and job growth for Canadians, but that the United States should value Canada's oil supply over other sources because of the country's democratic track record, Reuters reported.

Iran, Turkey continue gas talks

Iranian gas transit to Europe via Turkey, boosting the two countries cooperation in the energy field, and Turkey’s investment in Iranian gas fields were among the major topics of the meeting.

Currently Iran on average exports 30 million cubic meters of natural gas to Turkey per day.

Systems thinking

There was more to the oil spill than BP's bad behavior and complacency.

Scope and Pace of Gulf Cleanup Is Criticized

BAY JIMMY, La. — Eight months since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began, the cleanup of the Gulf of Mexico goes on, with over 5,000 people and more than 300 boats still at work. Tar balls are still washing up on beaches. Visible sheen is still showing up in certain places in the wake of motorboats. Oil is being washed out of some areas, where it was buried, only to show up someplace else.

And so the debates among the responders go on as well, though perhaps not as publicly and fiercely as they once did.

Green architecture: It's officially a flood

When the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., opened on Memorial Day 2007, temperatures inside the 100,000-square-foot complex began to spike. Huge crowds of warm bodies will do that to an HVAC system, and it took months of tweaking through the museum's first hot summer to get the system working properly.

Mike Zovath, senior vice president of Answers in Genesis, the organization that built the Creation Museum, says he has learned his lesson. As a consortium that includes his group prepares to break ground this spring on a biblical theme park called Ark Encounter, which will include a replication of Noah's Ark built according to the dimensions given in the Book of Genesis, it is turning to the latest trends in "green" architecture. Scheduled to open in 2014, Ark Encounter will include environmentally sustainable technology "from Day One," Zovath said, and will be built by a firm that specializes in LEED-certified construction and design, the industry standard for environmentally efficient buildings.

Hawaiian Electric to Use Locally Produced Biofuel for Power Generation

Aina will spend $320 million to develop a farm for energy crops and a processing facility to turn the plants into biofuel, Char Chang, a company spokesman, said today in an e-mail. The 13,000-acre farm will grow mainly sweet sorghum and eucalyptus, and the company will also use Christmas berry and guinea grass, Chang said.

Cape Wind is Cleared for Takeoff — Mostly

Cape Wind, the wind farm proposed for a 24-square-mile tract of Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, Mass., got its final government permit on Friday, 10 years after work on the project began, the sponsors announced. They hope to begin construction this year, although they have not yet lined up a market for all of the electricity.

First Solar Acquires RayTracker to Enable Panels to Follow Sun's Movements

First Solar Inc., the world’s biggest maker of thin-film solar modules, bought closely held RayTracker Inc. for an undisclosed amount to expand in sun-tracking technology.

First Solar will assimilate RayTracker’s nine employees and clients with the purchase, the Tempe, Arizona-based company said today in a statement. Tracking systems let solar panels follow the sun’s movements, increasing output from solar panels.

2 Environment Rules Halted in New Mexico

Acting on a campaign promise, New Mexico’s new Republican governor, Susana Martinez, has scuttled a state regulation requiring annual 3 percent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

A deafening warning

The record rise in world food prices last month is not only a prelude to a possible "food price shock" in the coming months, but also a blatant warning that the international community cannot afford to ignore. The dire consequences of long-term climate change are more imminent now and divided response to the global financial crisis could make them worse.

Measures to Save Ozone Stemmed a Lot More Global Warming

Now, for a change, some good news on the environmental front. Global efforts launched in 1989 to stem emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)—volatile chemicals, used as refrigerants and propellants in spray cans, that break down ozone—have borne fruit not only by protecting ozone in the atmosphere but also by preventing even more dramatic atmospheric heating. That's because, like carbon dioxide, CFCs in the atmosphere trap heat. New studies, presented here last month at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, show that had humanity not cut this pollution, Earth would have experienced as much as 1.5ºC of additional global warming by 2070. Moreover, the new projections show, CFC pollution would have thinned the layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere, which blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation, even more than scientists expected, as a result of an unforeseen "feedback" effect.

Greenland’s Melt Will Be Unstoppable by 2040, Berlingske Says

The melting of Greenland’s iceberg’s will be irreversible by 2040 at the latest, Berlingske Tidende said, citing a report based on data compiled by Denmark’s Meteorological Institute.

The report’s findings are “alarming” and show that the “melt can go at a much faster pace than one would normally imagine,” said Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, one of the report’s authors, in an interview with the Copenhagen-based newspaper.

Just want to say "Thanks!" again to Leanan for your tireless efforts with the Drumbeat, and to all the staff and contributors. The Oil Drum is indispensable. Thanks to all for making it so.

Sometimes I feel like the sane person in a community of the mad; sometimes I feel like the one blind man where all others see; the one groping savage in the college of the learned, and always, during service, I feel like a heretic in heaven.

- Mark Twain, At the Shrine of St. Wagner

Good to see you back, Mark. I thought you were dead. Guess that was premature.

Came back for the autobiography that was published.

Great quote. I agree on the "Thanks" to Leanan. Many articles posted in Drumbeat are not discussed in the comments section, but that does not mean they are not read and appreciated.

edit: I'd also like to thank Leanan for deleting some of my more impulsive, distracting and unnecessary snarky comments.

I was able to catch parts of TEH PROPHETS OF DOOM on My InnerTube this a. m. before I had to go out and slop the pigs.

(BTW, Nate. Thanks for the warning about the Coming Scarcity of T. P. As a result, we've decided to stop feeding last season's corncobs to the pigs.)

If the plaster isn't dry on the wall upstairs, I might watch more of The Programme. Or might not. My banjo beckons me. I'm writing a song in honor of Ruppert called "Hail Rita, Coup de Grace."

The film at least gets my nod for "Most Appropriate Title of the Year," but as it's the beginning of the year, and as the ipecac of peak oil prognostication is just reaching the stomach, that milestone could be easily surpassed, like global oil production.

From the segment viewed, we may formulate the following principle of Doomer Psychology 101:

If you cut off the heads of six chickens, they run in six different directions.

Honestly? Colbert is better.

I do not see the point of your existance other than running around and screaming the entire PO community is flawed and we should all forget about our worries.
A period of silence on your part would be most welcome.

A deafening warning

The record rise in world food prices last month is not only a prelude to a possible "food price shock" in the coming months, but also a blatant warning that the international community cannot afford to ignore. The dire consequences of long-term climate change are more imminent now and divided response to the global financial crisis could make them worse.

As for the China Daily(official propaganda) story about the rising food prices, it was just a hollow call for better farming productivity. Yes, they mention global warming but they don't mention Peak Oil. They do attack in a not-so-veiled attack countries like the U.S. or the U.K. for their "super-loose monetary policy" but is this really about monetary policy or increasingly tighter supply of oil?

But what did I expect? It is China after all(not that Western media is so much better).

Since you've in effect told me to shut up, I think I won't.

If the world is as terrible as is said here--including such things as cannibalism and people dying in droves because of lack of meds--then Why shouldn't I laugh?

Please don't shut up. Or maybe make a deal that if the ideological doomers will shut up you will. You'd be forever in my debt.

I do think that one near fatal flaw in the ability of the peak oil community to convince anyone of their core message is their tolerance of immense volumes of faith base apocalypse worship.

I am 100% sure that if peak oil was proven wrong, which I don't think it will be, 90% of the core doomers here would migrate to some other negative storyline. In fact, a large number of the doomers here don't really even talk much about energy, just doom.

Like you, I think there is a serious possibility that dwindling resources lead to extremely negative scenarios, including massive die offs. However, the continuous "we're so screwed" comments and those latching on to any news story and evidence that they are right, is making peak oil look loony.

I am disappointed that more of the rational doomers, of which there are many, aren't upset by how bad the lunatic fringe is making us all look.

What is needed is a Taxonomy of Doom to characterize doom on several dimensions.

It would separate global doom, (e.g. exhaustion of oil, exhaustion of phosphates, all-out thermonuclear war) from regional/local doom, (e.g. exhaustion of acquifers, low-yield fission bombs, chemical weapons).

It would separate man-made doom, (e.g. collapse of the financial system, anthorpomorphic global warming, release of a genetically modified superbug) from natural doom, (e.g. supervolcanos, plagues).

It would separate dooms that can be prevented, (e.g. financial collapse, building of robots that take over the earth) from those whose effects can be ameliorated, (e.g. exhaustion of oil, drug-resistant superbugs) from those that cannot be coped with, (e.g. asteroid strikes, earth's encountering a black hole, aliens landing, The Second Coming).

Merril - Good idea. Except for the breakdown by category. A society that can't grasp the concept of finite resources won't likely appreciate the subtle differences of the various dooms. We might consider using the color code system that Homeland security developed. After all, they aren't getting much use out of it.

And of course, the MDL (max doom level) would be reserved for the horrifying potential of no more Blue Bell Ice Cream.

So Code Blue would be even more serious than the old Code Red...

The doomiest I get is when I consider the possibility/probability that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is emitting catastrophically enormous and increasing amounts of methane. Google articles or presentations by Semelitov or Shakhova if you want to be similarly cheered.

But I certainly admit that the future is difficult to predict, especially the exact timing of how things that seem inevitable will unfold. I don't find this kind of uncertainty particularly comforting, because it implies that, while there may be some possibility that things will be better or slower than how they seem to be unfolding, there is an equal or better chance that things are going to be worse and come on faster.

And as I posted elsewhere, an extension of, for example, the bumpy plateau will likely mean an even sharper drop off later.

Rockman, Meanwhile, large users of Blue Bell should protect themselves financially by going long the far-dated contract on the ICE (Ice Cream Exchange).

Indeed... a 3-axis doom matrix. We should start on the questionaire: perhaps a Myers-Briggs style system...


Not many get upset by the "Lunatic Fringe" these days. Just look at who is sitting as Speaker of the House now.


Red Ryder,,,

Choose Wisely,

The Martian

The world has always had cannibalism and people dying in droves because of lack of meds.

It's just that both have declined dramatically here in the western world over the past couple hundred years.

I wonder what "Peak Cannibalism" would look like starting with 7 billion people and a grossly unequal distribution of resources.... ;-)

I do not see the point of your existance other than running around and screaming the entire PO community is flawed and we should all forget about our worries.

Don't forget the posts about how there is no difference between organic VS 'traditional industrial' grown food. Even if one can show things like changes in BRIX levels, or studies about organ damage tied to BT or glycophospates....MikeB doesn't care. All the time whiole doing far m work on an organic farm.

He's just part of the landscape like the poster who works for Wall Street in Investment Banking who gets upset when its pointed out that for every unit of payment that actually reduces Carbon a unit goes to the Investment Bankers because, well, they are effective parasites.

the poster who works for Wall Street in Investment Banking who gets upset when its pointed out that for every unit of payment that actually reduces Carbon a unit goes to the Investment Bankers because, well, they are effective parasites.

Is this a real person, or just more of your intentional spewing of falsehoods? If so, let us know that villainous wall streeter.

My guess is the person is too much of a coward to step forward in this very drumbeat and admit that yes, they do work on Wall Street.

Instead the readers would have to have good search skills to find the comments where they mentioned the tie to Wall Street in the past.

I do not see the point of your existance other than running around and screaming the entire PO community is flawed and we should all forget about our worries.

No, it is the opposite. Peak oil is a real issue and it needs to be taken seriously. But when far-out doomsters make outlandish prognistications, they end up making a mockery of the issue such that it will be ignored. MikeB (and I) just want people to be a bit more responsible. If you think something bad will happen far in the future then make sure you make it clear that you mean far out in the future. If you make a prediction w/o giving a timeline, people will assume a time in the near future.

If you say something like 'thousands of people will die next winter because they won't have heat' and then it doesn't happen, you have completely discredited the peak oil issue with many people. It is because PO is a serious issue that you should not make such outlandish statements that will discredit the issue.

No one knows the future. At best we can make educated guesses as probabilistic scenarios. X may happen. Y is highly likely to happen. Z will very likely not happen. If you are going to speak to the press, try to stick with such rational talk instead of giving hard predictions that they will goad you into making. And if you have to make a specific prediction, make it clear that the specific prediction is just your personal view and it could be wrong.

"far-out doomsters make outlandish prognistications"

Does that apply to anyone in particular in the "Prophets of Doom" episode? Does that describe Nate, James, Mike, The Water Guy or the Singularity Guy?

No, sorry. I was continuing an earlier argument. I need to keep up. Haven't watched that.

aardy - Perhaps the base problem is the distinction between what might/could possibly happen vs. what "will likely happen" in any reasonable time frame. Eventualy a huge meteorite will strike earth and cause global devastation. But will it likely happen in our life time or even 100 life times? Not very probable. OTOH it could happen tomorrow. The obvious loaded word in these debates is "probably" which implies some statistical analysis which isn't really possible. I doubt few in 1935 thought it probable that 100 million would die in world war in the next ten years. And this is only a couple of decades after comparable destruction in WWI.

I wouldn't argue against anyone's Mad Max`vision. Not because I agree but because I don't see the point of it. To me it would be like arguing whether brussel sprouts are good or not. It boils down to a matter of opinion in almost all cases. Of course, that's just MHO. BTW...brussel sprouts suck...and don't you dare argue about that FACT.

I probably agree with all you wrote here except the brussel sprouts - is that with or without grasshoppers to add crunch?

I love sprouts without the grasshoppers, but agree it is a fact they suck with grasshoppers ;)

Acually aardy I like brussel sprouts but they have to be fresh. My favorite is to braise them in coconut milk with a hint of yellow curry, Picked that up from a Thai I had worked with in Africa.

But since most folks don't like b.s. I picked them for an example.

When Rene Verdon asked me what my least favorite vegetable was, I answered Brussel Sprouts. He cooked them for me and now they are my favorite.

Brussel Sprouts by President Kennedy's Chef;

Pick only the smallest, hardest heads, remove all loose leaves, cut off base close to head and use pointed knife to stab an X from base to top to allow even cooking. Steam for 8 minutes [ parboil ] and remove from heat.

Allow to cool, then cut into quarters or eighths. Sautee in butter. Spice generously with black pepper. Add generous salt, because the salt will make it taste sweet. Add whole cream [ whipping cream ] and cook til it reduces to a sauce, about 3 minutes.

Then he asked me how I felt about braised romaine.


Thanks for the recipes Rockman and Dave. I'll try both out on my wife and kids (I'm the veggie lover of the family).

Between the butter, salt and pepper, you would not be able to taste the brussels sprouts, which is probably the idea. And then drown it in cream. So much for heart-healthy. :-)

Brussels sprouts and lima beans, two examples of wasted effort in domestication.

Now ya done PV...picked on one of my favorite beans...limas. You might just as well slammed Blue Bell ice cream and not gotten me as upset. Can't expain my affection for all ligumes given I grew up on a diet that was probably close to 90% beanoid. My latest kick: using Spanish chorizo to flavor beans. I've discovered real paprika much too late in life.

I had the most delicious brussel sprouts I have ever had over New Year's. No cream but butter and bacon bits. Definitely going to get that recipe from my friend.

Everyone will draw the line where they see fit and there's nothing that any of us can do to change that short of some type of censorship. Is that what we want?

Haven't quite finished it yet but I got the impression that there was a lot of potential consensus. Perhaps there was but it got edited out.

What would have been beneficial is to point out that water is to energy, as energy is to water. Can't have one without the other.

All in all a very good call to arms, except the robodoomer stuff but even he almost admits he didn't belong there.

I still don't see anything EVER taking the place of the dollar as world reserve currency. It would have to be pried out of our cold dead hands and if it goes that far then who cares.

[edit] Loved the quote and closing statement.


The water issue is a problem, but it is a local and long term problem that can largely be resolved with cheap energy. To say that this is our most pressing concern is to me a bit of a joke. The line of not being able to survive without water is patently true, but given the massive potential for water conservation, lack of water is not going to kill anyone in the developed world any time soon.
The financial system on the other hand is likely to implode over the next few years due to the end of growth (peak oil/energy)!

Yes I think it's important to distinguish between local and global problems.

IMHO oil, finance, and population growth are the only truly global problems.

Population growth however is no longer affecting some regions (such as Japan), especially as they control immigration. In fact they face somewhat of an opposite problem.

In addition, birth rates have fallen throughout the world, which means that as death rates rise the population problem will solve itself, albeit in painful and harsh ways.

I don't see any big solution out there for oil or finance, I really don't.

We can move ourselves and our goods around on land with electricity. We already have 100 mile range EVs (even 240 mile range EVs) and electric trains. It's simply a matter of making the change.

We might have to greatly decrease our air and ocean travel, but we will continue to have ample (albeit expensive) oil for limited use. We're already flying using biofuels.

We can farm, mine and manufacture with electricity. We are developing non-fossil fuel methods for making the goods we need.

There's no oil cliff in our future, only a gradually dropping supply of affordable oil.

We moved from an animal-powered economy to a petroleum-powered economy in only a couple of decades. Imagine how much quicker we can transition from petroleum to electricity given today's information age abilities.

Well, as Rockman pointed out above, these are all opinions so here goes.

There's no oil cliff in our future, only a gradually dropping supply of affordable oil.

Your statement is not even remotely correct, in my view, and shows that you, again in my view, don't understand how all the systems interact.

The future of oil production will not look like this:

ASPO World Oil Model

The various systems that we depend on will contract rapidly and synergistically as positive feedback (in a negative direction) takes effect.

The collapse of the financial system alone will make every other system contract quite rapidly. Just the removal of 80% of credit when we enter the inevitable debt deflation spiral will cause havoc for businesses (including oil companies that rely on debt for new projects), individuals and governments. And it doesn't matter if it's actually hyperinflation that occurs, credit will still be severely constricted because trust will have been lost.

No trust == no credit.

Even before the financial system implodes, the net export problem means that the best case scenario for the first few years after we fall off the plateau is:


You could, of course, be asserting that a nearly 20% loss of oil in five years is "gradual." That would be a very odd belief to have but I have read even more odd ones here on TOD. (I haven't even discussed the little problem of oil shortages mucking up the world manufacturing system.)

In my courses I suggest that this spiral will almost certainly occur before 2020 with a 50/50 chance it will occur before 2015.

In terms of an "oil cliff", one thing I muse upon is threshold effects in human perception, which can be quite abrupt.

I think back on the old dock strikes in Hawaii, when toilet paper became unavailable, causing a shift from just-in-time wipery to hoarding. At the point a hoarding mindset takes off, it's pretty self-reinforcing and hard to extinguish.

Of course the ability to store fuel among the general population is limited, but I wonder whether the 'meme' of stopping oil exports will ever crop up in nationalistic calculations. In some ways, it's surprising that it hasn't to a greater degree.

That shift - to seeing liquid fuels as the actual currency of industrialized societies - would be pretty irreversible and would alter many things.

It rests on perceptions.

Yes, hoarding is another of those pesky responses that will make everything worse.

I continue to assert that anyone who isn't leaning toward doomerism doesn't actually understand fully all of the forces at work and our likely (poor) responses to them.

I talk about Transition but only to point out that some towns and smaller regions may be able to create a decent life at some point. The planet as a whole will not transition well.

Still, it's best to make the attempt, in my view, than do nothing.

I continue to assert that anyone who isn't leaning toward doomerism doesn't actually understand fully all of the forces at work and our likely (poor) responses to them.

I was just sort of half listening to a program on NPR a little while ago about liars and more specifically some studies that were done by neuroscientists and psychiatrists on pathological liars. They studied the brains of people who tested high for cognitive dissonance and self delusion and found significant anatomical differences in their grey and white matter as compared to non liars. One of the final remarks they made was that these liars, lied to themselves, about both external reality and their own capabilities and that because of their cognitive dissonance they believed their own lies. Consequently as a rule they were much happier than non liars who had a much more realistic view of themselves and the world around them, unfortunately as a consequence these realists as a group, tended to suffer more depression.

I have a hunch that if they looked they would find a high correlation between cornucopianism and self delusion. Doomers can't lie to themselves about what they see.

Thanks for your input aangel, greenish and FM.

FM, I have a hunch that if they looked they would find a high correlation between people who enter politics and self-delusion...

That is about all I can come up with for the complete lack of preparation at home by the last three presidents (and maybe explains why Bush smiled so much ? ;).

"We might have to greatly decrease our air and ocean travel,"

I'm not inclined to argue about air travel, but ocean travel works very well without oil. The great steamers of the early 1900's were coal burners. The RMS Olympic burned 650 tons/day on a typical run. The Mauritania burned 1000 tons/day. (The Olympic had that LP turbine for the center screw, so was more efficient. The Mauritania was also faster.)

Cargo ships went slower, but were more fuel efficient. And the clipper ships needed no oil at all at the cost of less reliable schedules.

If air travel goes away due to lack of fuel, then we'll see proportionally more ocean transport, not less. Total miles traveled most likely would go down quite a lot, if that is what you meant.

Sorry, we're not going to go back to coal. Just the logistics of moving/carrying that much coal puts that idea to rest even before one takes into account the pressure to cut CO2 emissions.

Nor are we going to return to the age of sail.

What we will do is 1)reduce our amount of transoceanic shipping (just discontinuing imported oil will create a drastic drop), 2) work to make our transport ships more efficient, 3) slow down, as we already are, 4) increase our use of 'kites', which are already reducing fuel usage.

Rising fuel prices will make it more advantageous to manufacture bulky, minimal low-skilled labor input goods closer to the market. Car transport ships are a something that we can send to the wrecking yards along with most of our oil fleet. We can make cars and battery packs closer to the market thus moving some good jobs back in-country.

We'll have oil. We'll just need to use it more wisely.

The financial system has been inflating and deflating (imploding) since the invention of money and before there was anything known as peak oil. It is exponential, it has no choice but to either inflate greater than previous inflation or it deflates...Poof. Interest attached to the medium of money demands this and because this is not infinitely possible then it must implode. The longer the expansion of inflation greater than previous inflation to secure the yield on that compounding interest, then the greater the eventual implosion.

Just because each of the men was focusing on a different problem does not negate these problems, nor does it mean it is appropriate to compare them to six chickens going in six different directions. With the possible exception of the robot warning, these are all issues that need to be addressed now. There is no one issue and in fact, there are a other issues that should have been addressed. I don't think the water person would argue we should ignore energy issues; nor do I think people like Kunstler would say we should ignore energy and financial issues. In fact, Kunstler routinely covers both energy and financial issues.

Feel free to provide a critique of the ideas put forth by,say, Nate Hagens. Whether or not there should be a radical change in our current economic/financial system is an issue worth pursuing. I think that the system, which is so heavily weighted in favor of of the financial sector, is highly dysfunctional. Whether it will lead to doom depends upon the definition of doom.

One possible problem with the production is that it tried to cover too many issues and provided very little in the way of courses of action that should be taken. That might reflect more on the producer, however, than the individual participants.

One big problem with this programme was that they were all - (as is mostly the case in doomer circles - and I count myself as one such) --- men. And, men of a certain age at that. Though I believe all this stuff is pretty near the truth of what's happening I certainly would not recommend this programme to friends - young or old. From outside the doomer bubble it just looks like some grumpy oldies with axes to grind. The rationality gets lost in the noise of their image and the production values/style of its presentation. Imo - a good film/prog about our situation has yet to be done. When it is it will most likely be done by a woman as, based on the evidence so far, men are incapable of singing any other song in any other way.

In the UK this is an interesting site with a different perspective on doomerism: http://uncivilisation.ning.com/

Another good shot at a small scale analysis was, http://www.pinoyyoutube.net/video/b2cdadb2bdd3216/A-Farm-for-the-Future-3

Yea - clocked that sometime ago - she's great - and funny with it. Doomer porn, what a concept!

Imo - a good film/prog about our situation has yet to be done.

Have you seen What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire yet? Made by a husband & wife team, and has been called 'poetry'. Might sing the song you are seeking. Discusses peak oil, overpopulation, species extinction & global warming as predicaments.

A good film - but still uses the tried and tested formula of talking heads interspersed with archive mash-ups. What made Gore's An Inconvenient Truth so effective was the surprise of it simply being a guy with a slide show. That still looks radical against most PO films.

Words fail me when someone uses sexism to discount a groups message. I have yet to see any of these mythical women that if they were in charge would solve problem x y and z rather then just be as clueless as the men they want to replace only possibly better to look at.

I agree.

Still, here is a good book review - by a female - of a post-apocalyptic novel with a great fictional female heroine: The Hunger Games: She’s a rebel, she’s a saint.

In the distant future, North America is split into twelve districts controlled by the tyrannic Capitol, who enlists at random 24 children to participate in the Hunger Games each year. The Hunger Games are a televised attraction wherein the children must kill one another in order to become the year’s one and only Victor, a reminder that the Capitol forever holds complete power over the districts. Katniss Everdeen, a girl from district 12, steps up to replace her little sister in the 74th annual Hunger Games...

To avoid rambling, I’ll focus my review on the main character, Katniss, and her interactions within the setting of The Hunger Games, including her successes and failures as a strong female role model...

Note: The "Robot Guy" from the "Prophets of Doom" would like the Jabberjays, "Mutts," "Tracker Jackers", etc.

Sounds like a takeoff of Stephen King's "The Running Man"-a book well worth reading for a very good mix of entertainment and social and psychological commentary.

Stephen King gave "The Hunger Games" an excellent review. Like him, I could not put it down either.

I would say it could be a rough combination of "Running Man" after a mild recovery from Kunstler's "World Made By Hand" and with a touch of "Big Brother" and a sprinkle of "The Matrix."

Thanks! Both look excellent.

I've been reading this on-line Starvation Ridge, another post-collapse novel by a female with an interesting female leading character (as well as other strong female character leaders).

There seems to be an interesting trend here in female characters and/or authors and post-collapse fiction. Or maybe it's just my imagination, runnin' away with me.

I read Marge Piercy's, Woman on the Edge of Time' years ago. Fabulous book. Here's a review:


Sorry - I did not use "sexism to discount a groups (sic) message". I pointed out a simple fact that is as plain as day and has been commented upon by many others. Gender is an issue in communication and perception of issues. I should have thought that 40 years of the women's movement would have substantiated that fact. But, as with climate change and peak oil, there's plenty of men still in denial. Lol.

They missed the first 10 minutes, but the rest is here.

"Prophets of Doom" on Youtube

There is an really kool interactive time-line of man's progress through the ages in Nate's
excellent talk, Anyone know of a source or link for this? Makes one realize how lucky
we are to be reading TOD instead of foraging for calories right now.

This graph from this talk?


The interactive during the Futurist / The Prophets of Doom
Perhaps Nate expanded on the details in the earlier Timeline for this Program.
Anyway such a scrolling "timeline" interface is dynamite - very effective tool in Nate's presentation, it puts a border
at least on one side. What a neat tool, build a timeline for your own life to track your progress for life goals and lifetime key events.

Anyone have the 1st 10 minutes of the Program?
Every-time I re-watch the program, I pick up things I missed.

A refining query:

In looking at the EIA's This Week in Petroleum numbers, there seems to be a big shift in the proportions of the end products versus a year ago.

Specifically, here are the % changes compared to a year ago (using the most recent 4 week average figures to eliminate some of the week-to-week volatility):

Propane production: +4.7%
Distillate production: +22.6%
Gasoline production: +2.3%
Refinery inputs: +8.3%

This would imply very substantial flexibility in shifting away from gasoline and propane toward distillates. I recall that there is some flexibility in the proportion of the end products, but this seems to be a more dramatic shift than I thought was possible.


Heating oil is a distillate and with the cold weather that embraced much of the US in Nov. and Dec. (at least in the eastern US), more needs to be produced. Inventories are low according to some reports in earlier Drumbeat articles.

Also with the economic "recovery" taking hold, more of every type of fuel will be in demand. And even unemployed people usually use gas in traveling to their job intervies. Example, a guy that used to work for our company, which was 18 mile round trip from his home, got laid off and found a part time job. He now drives 180 miles round trip for each three day work period. So he only works 60% of the days compared to previous job, but drives twice as many miles per week.

Not entirely up to date:

US Product Supplied YOY, 2010

Distillate had been advancing over 2009 all year, owing to a comeback in its other primary application, fuel for trucks. These numbers are from the EIA's Weekly Product Supplied series, fyi.

Nobody is answering the implied question which was

This would imply very substantial flexibility in shifting away from gasoline and propane toward distillates. I recall that there is some flexibility in the proportion of the end products, but this seems to be a more dramatic shift than I thought was possible.

Robert Rapier seems the best TOD staff member to address this I would think.

At the refinery I worked at, we could shift about 5% either way by just changing the way the refinery was operated. If you choose a different crude oil slate, you have even more flexibility. But it isn't huge in any case. If you chose a different crude slate and changed refinery operations, an existing refinery might be able to shift 10% or so of the gasoline production to diesel.

Of course you can build a refinery from scratch and tailor it toward diesel or gasoline. In that case, you could shift just about as much as you wanted from gasoline to diesel if you were willing to invest the capital. European refineries are built differently than U.S. refineries; they are in fact optimized toward diesel and can produce a much higher percentage of the barrel as diesel.

Although a simple refinery will get a more or less fixed mix of gasoline and diesel fuel, refineries can be designed to shift the balance between gasoline and diesel fuel, but this involves some very expensive upgrades to the refinery - notably in the catalytic cracking units. I would guess that a very sophisticated refinery could shift its product mix between 80% gasoline / 20% diesel fuel, and 20% gasoline / 80% diesel fuel.

Americans tend to use more gasoline than diesel fuel, while Europeans are the reverse, so the usual solution, rather than building more expensive refineries, is for American refineries to send their surplus diesel fuel to Europe, and European refineries to send their surplus gasoline to the US.

New video;

"In a new video series from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg and other scientists, researchers and writers explain."


That is the top story in the Jan. 5 Drumbeat, and is discussed a bit there.

They plan to release a new video each week. The next one comes out Jan. 12.

"...and is discussed a bit there."

A bit is over stating it.

Seems MikeB is stealing the show.

This video is important in that it hones in on the institutional momentum of denial. Undeniably the core issue of all that gets in the way of positive action.

Seems MikeB is stealing the show.

He's just trying to take it back. And good luck to him. Most of the other rational commenters have been chased of by the loonies. It's about time someone returns fire.

Jack, could you expand or post links to who or what you consider "rational" doomers.

Is the "rational" part based on what the individual thinks, or what they say in public?

If the doomer's ideas are based on dozens of detailed examples from history does that qualify as "rational" or "irrational?"

If they leave out the gory details does that make them more or less rational?

I think the best single example of a rational doomer is Leanan, although there are many of them.

I personally think it is possible that a rapid decline in oil production creates a set of events that lead to a massive reduction in population and possibly the end of civilization as we know it. However, in my view, the probability of this happening is fairly low. If someone else thinks it is very high, I don't have any reason to say that one of us is right and the other wrong.

My view is that the future is probabilistic and that rational people acknowledge that our ability to predict anything is fairly weak. When new facts come up I change my view and I expect that the rational doomers do too. My views have evolved and I expect Leanan's have too.

I think irrational doomers are doomers by nature and have latched on the peak oil as a way to get an audience for their rants. But they are ideological, or religious, in their approach. No set of facts would get them to change their minds. I don't see much difference between those holding signs saying "Jesus will save you" and those holding signs saying "The end is near", whether they are doing in in comic strips or in Doombeats.

I also think Darwinian is a rational doomer, but hesitate to say it as he is mad at me again.

I also think there are a large number of ideological cornucopians, but I don't think we really get too many here.

I can only judge people by what they say, and how they respond to criticism, as I don't know what they think. Those that respond like the religious, I suspect may have religion.

Fair enough Jack. We could argue specific points here but that could get distracting (e.g. I would love to hear 'rational doomers' like Leanan's thoughts before she mentally edits them for public display ;).

I think Prophets of Doom presented this material perfectly for some audiences - this show's approach might be the only way to reach some audiences.

I think the same could be said for Peak Oil and Climate Change by CommonDreams.org.

Hopefully both approaches will get their audiences to further explore the topics presented.

AND then hopefully all audiences will refine their understanding of our predicament over time as seems to be the case for all of us here at TOD.


I would love to hear 'rational doomers' like Leanan's thoughts before she mentally edits them for public display

You'd be disappointed. I'm afraid I'm calling 'em as I see 'em, boring as that is.

I actually do not consider myself a doomer at all, and never have. I've always thought that a "long descent" was the most probable scenario - possibly so long most people wouldn't even notice. Some of us were discussing a "greater depression" peak oil scenario back in 2005.

I did think sudden collapse was possible. I'm not the type to commit to just one outcome, until it's absolutely necessary. I still think sudden collapse is possible, but the events of the past couple of years have convinced me that it's not a likely scenario. It appears our complex society is not as brittle as many feared. Call it resilience or inertia, but it seems BAU will continue for quite some time.

I like and appreciate your "boring" take.

About the "sudden collapse" vs "long slow death of BAU"... I find myself twitching between the two all of the time.

It makes it very difficult to make plans... one day something makes perfect sense (a larger, irrigated garden) and the next day the same plans might seem "childishly naive" ...

I think a garden makes sense either way. In the Mad Max version of the future, you'll be surviving off it. If the greater depression continues, a garden can save you a lot of money. If we return to BAU, you have a relaxing hobby and a source of healthy food.

IMO, it makes sense to look for things like that, that make sense either way.

I really do try to keep that frame of mind... but... (there's always a butt in the way ;)

Is it better for me to make those investments here and now... or elsewhere, now or later?

Will I be making an irrigated garden for myself, my family and my friends... or those who might kill and eat me with the veggies I was growing ?

I'm told I "think too much" - I try to anticipate too many details and end up in the "Freeze" frame of mind (fight/flight/freeze)... To feel better I remind myself that "freeze" is sometimes a good survival strategy.

(I do keep working on the garden etc, but I never really feel comfortable with my planz)

Paralaysis through analysis is a big problem when it comes to taking action in regard to energy and our future. I think it is good to take westexas's "Economize, Localize, Produce" advice to heart and to act on it immediately. For example, I moved to one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Minnesota and now sometimes drive the car only once a week. I keep a three month supply of food in my apartment and a month's supply of water and other beverages. Another thing I do is to try to enjoy each day to the maximum, both because I'm old and also because I expect times to be tougher in the future--so carpe diem!

It is hard to make big decisions when there is so much uncertainty--so start out with small steps. For example, don't plan to plant a huge garden this spring, but do plan a small one, a garden that can be expanded over time as you gain skill. Try to find a job (or gain valuable skills) that you have a good chance of keeping even if there is financial and economic collapse as bad as the Great Depression. And, of course, economize: Try to live well below your income.

I have found in my life that excessive reading and commenting on TOD is actually a hindrance to my making preparations to deal with a much grimmer future. Too much intellectualizing stifles action.

I think we are more alike than not, Don.

This is my 8th year of transition. I too am a fan of WT's ELP and have taken many small steps forward (and back).

Obsessing on TOD and other sites like it has been both a poison and a cure for me ;) Just need to adjust the dose occasionally.

My own view is that collapse is occurring right now and has been for many years. I think most people envision collapse as a point where order fails and chaos reigns. In reality that is what happens as a result of collapse, by the time chaos reigns the actual process of collapse has probably long finished.

For many collapse is an invisible process, they can see things aren't going well but there seems to be no identifiable cause and therefore no appropriate action presents its self to overcome it. So people continue on with their lives, wary of what's happening, but unable to do anything due to the absence of an identifiable threat. The affect of collapse is almost imperceptible on a day to day basis and its only by looking back over time that a trend can be seen. For example a person's lifestyle which was originally paid from earned income, but gradually morphed over many years in to one paid for my increasing debt levels (eg. home equity withdrawal, loans, credit cards, etc.). Collapse didn't start with that persons bankruptcy, but when their income became insufficient to pay for their lifestyle.

With debt levels exploding just about everywhere we look today, I'd say we're already in a full-scale collapse and will remain in it for decades. Add into the financial collapse the interwoven effects of energy and climate change and it can be seen that we're in for a rough ride without making any predictions.

What interests me is what trends come into being as a result. If a trend can be identified, then a course of action can be planned. Some trends will be systemic and rational, some will be due to human psychology and irrational. Somehow we need to make sense of it and plan a course of action even though the information available is imprecise.

I agree - I try to explain it as a process and emphasis that in past collapses most people never knew it was happening to them.

I especially agree with the one-at-a-time, personal collapse that makes the individual feel it is there own fault, and makes the process barely perceptible.

Don, did you catch Richard Heinberg when he spoke at Mpls South HS a few weeks ago? After the talk, people organized by neighborhood into transition groups. There were definitely people from St. Paul there, maybe even from Highland Park. Are you in touch with them? Would you like to be?

Tentatively, I have decided not to affiliate myself with the transition town movement. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and I would have to give up some activity of value to participate in my local transition town group--something I'm unwilling to do at this point. Also, many commentators have questioned the efficacy of transition town approaches. I do participate in zoning committee meetings and go to St. Paul planning board meetings.

I actually do not consider myself a doomer at all, and never have. I've always thought that a "long descent" was the most probable scenario - possibly so long most people wouldn't even notice.

That's a very strategic position to take, Leanan: You don't have to worry about your "prediction" being disconfirmed in your lifetime. If change fails to happen--is imperceptible--or even if there's improvement, you just have to say, "I told you it would be long."

But joshing aside...to eschew the "doomer" camp is the best thing one can do, ESPECIALLY if one is by nature a pessimist (like me: I've read too much tragic Lit. over the years). It's essential to eschew ALL camps--doomer, cornucopian, moderate, whatever. As soon as you identify with a group, a movement, whatever, you surrender your brain to Darwin, as it were.

People like Nate are better apt to explain this--I learned it through Steven Pinker--but the psychology of groups is S C A R Y. As soon as you say, "I'm a doomer," you become emotionally invested in being right. Suddenly you see other, hostile groups on the horizon--the wimpy "moderates," the dreaded "cornies"--with whom you are in competition.

You become predisposed toward "observational selection": you will scan the earth for "evidence" which confirms your point of view, and of course you will find it--after all, a sample size of 7 billion people will provide you with all the evidence you need--and you will conveniently overlook, dismiss, and deride evidence that might be interpreted as countering your point-of-view.

Every horrible thing that happens--food shortages here, riots there--becomes a feather in your doomer cap, "proving" that you are right, and it's just a wee little step toward actually HOPING that such evidence appears to vindicate you.

It's a skewed view of the world, as skewed as the cornucopian view. Sophocles--2,500 years ago!--satirized this view in Oedipus the King. There's a moment when Oedipus and his mother/wife Jocasta nearly jump up and down to celebrate the death of Oedipus' "father," King Polybus. It seems to prove their view that the oracles of Delphi were wrong in their predictions that Oedipus would kill his own father and marry his own mother. They do not yet know that that particular curse has already been enacted.

Of course, no one in their right, rational mind would actually admit to this psychology, but that's because, as I said, Darwin has taken over. This was demonstrated in the Robbers Cave Experiment.

The study team screened a group of 22 twelve-year-old boys with similar backgrounds. They were picked up by two buses carrying 11 boys each. Neither group knew of the other's existence. The boys were assigned to two living areas far enough apart that each group remained ignorant of the other's presence for the first few days. ...

Within two or three days, the two groups spontaneously developed internal social hierarchies. ...

None of the boys were previously acquainted before the experiment, but hostility between the groups was observed within days of first contact. Phase Two activities proceeded as planned, but soon proved overly successful. Hostility between the groups escalated to the point where the study team concluded the friction-producing activities could not continue safely.

This psychology leads to our present situation, where "You are either with us, or you're with the Terrorists," as one of the more psychologically-manipulative Presidents of the U. S. said. It's even in the Gospels:

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad.

That's a very strategic position to take, Leanan: You don't have to worry about your "prediction" being disconfirmed in your lifetime.

Sure I do. I went out on a limb three years ago, and said by January 2010, Americans would still be more concerned about the Super Bowl than about peak oil. A lot of people took the other side of that prediction.

We know how it turned out.

OK, but I don't see how that's evidence of a "long decline." As a cynic about the American public, I would have been on your side of that prediction, and I don't have a point of view about "decline," whether it will be long, brief, or imaginary.

Eh, I don't really care about that. I take a pragmatic view. And I think it's a mistake to assume BAU won't go on for quite some time. (It's also a mistake to assume it will go on forever.)

I realized long ago that even if peak oilers are "proved" right, it won't be accepted. They'll blame tree-huggers, or greedy oil companies, or evil Arabs, or juggernaut China.

Forget about being proven right in your lifetime. Either way, it's not gonna happen.

And I think it's a mistake to assume BAU won't go on for quite some time. (It's also a mistake to assume it will go on forever.)

The real problem is that those who are still living BAU have a very hard time understanding what it is like for those who no longer are. As time goes by there is a shift in the balance until a tipping point is reached and then complete collapse is inevitable.

Yes, it could take a couple of decades for BAU to end for the majority but even today it has already ended for some. Real unemployment at 20%, 42 million on food stamps and 50 plus million with no health care, and even they still think it is just a temporary circumstance. I hope I'm wrong, but I think collapse is already well underway right now.


While what is called BAU has ended for millions of Americans, there are other countries like China that are growing rapidly. I think we may very well have the factors in place that will lead to collapse, I don't think the situation in the U.S. is so much due to those factors but to things like structural unemployment and the increasing gross maldistribution of income. The economic/financial system caused the situation we are in, not the abscence of oil, global warming, or resource scarcity.

I believe collapse is unavoidable but it is certainly not a primary cause for the current economic doldrums.

About a third of all Americans are insecure about how they will get enough food to live on.

About half are similarly insecure about housing and health care.

We're pretty deep into crisis mode. It just doesn't get reported much, so it is easy for many to ignore, deny or forget.

About a third of all Americans are insecure about how they will get enough food to live on.

According to this source , 63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese in 2009.

So, I think that maybe most Americans should worry less about not getting enough food to live on, and worry more about getting too much of it.

Being obese and worrying about the security of their food are closely linked. I mean, how on earth will they keep up their bulk if they cannot get their Twinkies and soopersizers ;)


How much of that insecurity results from structural changes in the US economy and how much results from the Bush Recession?

I'd guess little from the former and almost all from the latter.

So, I think that maybe most Americans should worry less about not getting enough food to live on, and worry more about getting too much of it.

It's not so much about the quantity as it is about the quality. Obesity is often associated with malnutrition.

Obesity and poverty are correlated. The thing is, the really cheap foods are complete crap. Loads of calories, but not very nutritious. It's odd, but the most highly processed foods are often the cheapest to buy, causing many poor people to avoid the things that are good for them (fruits, vegetables) in favour of the cheaper prepared meals.

It's gotten so bad that a large number of people have no idea how to even cook a meal that is more involved than cramming some tray of frozen processed goo in the microwave. I've heard that despite a surplus of calories, many obese people are actually malnourished. You can't get all the required nutrients from the junk foods that people have been sold as cheap, convenient meals.

I believe collapse is unavoidable but it is certainly not a primary cause for the current economic doldrums.

I fear you are contradicting yourself. For clarity, collapse is not a cause, it's an effect, and most importantly, a chaotic process.

Essentially what has happened is that during the last few years consumption has shifted from OECD countries to some developing countries, notably, Chindia.

So while BAU may have ended for millions of Americans, millions of Chindians are buying a car, going on vacations and eating meat regularly for the first time in their lives.

So if you look at the global picture, it is still very much BAU. I think that was Leanan's point.

Thus we arrive at an argument that says that BAU is continuing but that it has shifted its locus. This suggests that BAU is some set of recognizable quantities and qualities. Can we make a list? I'll start.

Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmm.

Okay. Can we do it this way:


Business means ___________________(please fill in);
'as usual' means ___________________ (please provide/suggest timeframe and location)


BAU includes:__________________________________________________________

I'll start: a) adaptation

Forget about being proven right in your lifetime. Either way, it's not gonna happen.

2008 showed how close we can come to systemic collapse in a short period of time. Assuming "collapse" will happen at the same rates it has in the past in an globally and generally degraded environment and at a level of complexity magnitudes greater than ever seems not the best bet one could make. However, anything is possible. Celente was hinting at new energy news a few days ago that he'd reveal within weeks...

The future is non-linear.

My point was that even if that happens...it won't be peak oil that's blamed. There's still no consensus on what caused the 2008 crisis.

I think you're likely right and it's an astute judgement.

Even if a lack of oil, or a particular resource, limits production of crucial societal input humans seem to lack the ability to follow the trail back to its root cause (assuming that's even possible at all).

Unemployment will be put down to economic recessions, food shortages will be put down to agricultural malpractice or natural disasters without analysing why the recessions occurred or why the malpractice / lack of resilience exists.

Unless the media decide to belatedly jump on the 'peak oil' buzzword bandwagon (buzzwagon?) then I think other issues will be touted as the cause, and not symptoms.

I actully became peak oil aware thanks to one of those hard doomers wich seems to have changed profession completly. Aka Matt Savinar.
It was also partly because of Lester Brown. I had been reading all of the bookbytes and other articles on the Earth policy institute and some of the articles talked about peak oil but i wanted to know more.. So i simply googled Peak Oil, first i read the old very lacking article on Wikipedia, then i found LATOC. And soon after i found TOD, and many of the other peak oil and sustainability sites. That happend almost a year ago.

And good luck to him. Most of the other rational commenters have been chased of by the loonies.

Well hell, anyone who predicts collapse is a loony. Anyone who believes that we will have only a little rough sailing because of peak oil is a rational thinker. In other words anyone who disagrees with you is a loony and anyone who agrees with you is a rational thinker.

More and more people are joining the ranks of Dmitry Orlov, Richard Heinberg, James Howard Kunstler, and the late Dr. David Price. But they are all loonies. You guys should start your own blog. Call it "Loonies Debunked: Nothing really bad can possibly happen because of peak oil".

Ron P.

Or maybe "Sanitized Doom: a kinder, gentler trip down the backside of Peak Oil?"

Well hell, anyone who predicts collapse is a loony. Anyone who believes that we will have only a little rough sailing because of peak oil is a rational thinker. In other words anyone who disagrees with you is a loony and anyone who agrees with you is a rational thinker.

Not at all. I just called you rational in my comment above. I also expect that I differ a good bit from Leanan in terms of the negative skew of our future scenarios. But I have huge respect for her intellect and analysis.

When someone presents arguments that can be discussed rationally and facts to back them up, then they are rational, whether they agree with me or not. I wouldn't even be here if everyone agreed with me.

I also think that there are a huge number of faith-based cornucopians, and would be equally bothered by them if they dominated the Doombeats.

Do you really not believe that there are commenters here who are doomers by faith, not analysis? Do you think that everyone who agrees with you must be rational? Do you have no doubt at all about your convictions?

I am more positive than you, but don't write off your views as irrational. I know that it may turn out that you were right and I was wrong. I'm surprised you don't seem to feel the same way.

No one can precisely predict the future, but I think the broad outlines are certainly there, give or take twenty years. Given projections of global warming, and the continuing related disasters we have had over the last decade, such as massive repeated floods which should occur every 100 or 1000 years, that the lunatics are those who don't take at least the issues of resource scarcity and global warming seriously.

If the "loonies" are wrong, so much the better. If the "loonies" are right, what is left of humanity will regret the lack of action deeply.

Requiring absolute scientific proof of every forecast or prediction is a recipe for disaster.

I am having a hard time figuring out who is posting what video and when. Apparently this video, "Peak Oil and Climate Change" was just posted today by CommonDreams.org They post about two videos every day. The link you posted on Jan 5 was posted by The Nation. But they have many videos on many subjects going back a long time.

Just who is releasing the one video per week or so on the subjects of Peak Oil and Climate Change? Is "The Nation" going to have a separate category of videos on this subject?

Ron P.

It's The Nation that is doing this series. Several other sites are mirroring it/linking to it, including Common Dreams.

The schedule is listed:

Peak Oil and a Changing Climate: An Introduction
Featuring Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg and more

January 12:
Richard Heinberg

January 19:
Nicole Foss

January 26:
James Howard Kunstler

February 2:
Dmitry Orlov

February 9:
Noam Chomsky

February 16:
Bill McKibben

February 23:
Greg Palast

March 2:
Thom Hartmann

March 9:
Jean Laherrère

March 16:
Mike Ruppert

The Nation is posting one "peak oil and climate change" video a week. The fact that they, and Common Dreams, also have posted other videos is irrelevant.

That is what I would call "Must See TV" ;)

Hopefully this series will give each individual enough time to really flesh-out their POV, something the "Prophets of Doom" episode could not do.

I would love to see Nate in the line up. Nate barely got to mention discount rates etc. in The Prophets of Doom episode.

In this format Nate could expand on the role of our brain's evolution and function in our perception of the problems we're facing.

The promotional video has Noam Chomsky (at about minute 13) saying that the last US election basically insured the extinction of the species. I tend to agree.


I can be accused of having said the same. While the real differences at the top levels between the two main parties is negligible, there is still enough difference in terms of climate and energy to actually make a difference. If 2012 ends with both houses controlled by conservatives, and even more so, the presidency, too, then 2016 will definitely be far, far too late to solve our problems less a miraculous shift in public perception and opinion.

Hard to dampen those oscillations once they get started. A bit like controlling a vehicle spinning out on black ice.



Is wind overrated as a renewable surce of energy? Appears to need almost 100% backup.

I think all Alt Energy is grossly overrated as a renewable energy source by most people most of the time.

It is depressing to see the look on peoples' faces when the real limitations become obvious to them (cost being one major limitation for most).

I think it would be fair to say ALL renewable energy systems need 100% backup some of the time.

I think it would be fair to say ALL renewable energy systems need 100% backup some of the time.

Only if you expect 100% uptime or 100% on demand for your energy source.

I think most of us still expect 100% on-demand. But we will get over it eventually.

ALL renewable energy systems need 100% backup???

Dam-&-reservoir hydroelectric doesn't. Biomass doesn't. Tidal power doesn't, if it incorporates a storage lagoon. OTEC doesn't (if we ever get the economics to work). Geothermal doesn't.

I bet if you think about it some more you can find examples where each of those systems have/could fail to meet 100% of demand 100% of the time.

Maybe modify my statement to say All sources of energy can fail and require back-up systems if you want 100% on-demand energy 100% of the time.

Dam-&-reservoir hydroelectric doesn't. Biomass doesn't.

Also, Nuclear, coal, and NG doesn't, and they occasionally malfunction and must be shut down for repairs. There is no such thing as 100%.

Well, we all know the wind doesn't blow every day. So to rely on it exclusively one would indeed be wanting some combination of backup, storage, and long-distance transmission.

But I was more struck by the (irrelevant) picture decorating the article and titled "Winter returns: Commuters battle their way through heavy snowfall in Birmingham." Bah, it looks like there is 1cm, maybe 2cm at the very most, on the ground and on the parked cars. Must have been the wrong kind of snow, I guess.

What is it about England vis-a-vis cold and snow, anyway?

Overrated? It depends on whose ratings you're looking at.

It's a considerable source of intermittent power.. is someone out there new to this news? If you want to allow expectations like PaulS brings to it, such that one thinks they can set up wind as an "Exclusive" power supply, then of course it will disappoint.

It is a piece of the puzzle, and is always going to be chastised by those who still think they can have a whole puzzle made out of One Big Piece. That game is ending. Sorry it's hard, but that's what it's going to be.

Wind has moving parts, and good lubes and machine parts for heavy use in severe cold are surely going to be a challenge. Is this challenge better or worse than what we are trying to do to contain fusion reactions or stick oil-straws numerous miles into the seafloor for unknown amounts of hydrocarbons?

The original post here led me to think the issue was gearboxes or something else of the sort, which might possibly make sense at a fairly commonplace -30C in Minnesota or Alberta. But on second thought that seemed silly, since winters in England are apparently so soft that time and again, -3C and 10cm of snow (always the wrong kind) creates a serious national emergency.

Turns out the issue was that the whole of England (not a very big place, really) was essentially windless on a cold day (not a terribly unusual occurrence), so national wind-farm production was somewhere around 2% of capacity for an extended period. That sort of thing, of course, wouldn't bode well for vulnerable populations if one were relying exclusively on wind, which (contrary to what seems like a bit of snark) I didn't (and wouldn't) recommend.

The whole of England really isn't a very big place and for that reason it may well be impractical for England to attempt to become energy self-sufficient. The same can be said for many other European countries and for many US states.

Renewable energy will likely call for casting wide nets in order to bring adequate divergent sources to a large grid. That's why Europe is building Desertec and we're tying the three different US grids together in New Mexico.

Yes. Strict localism, however romantic it may seem to some, won't work out very well. It never did.

The British Isles have an offshore wind resource that ought to be taken advantage of, whatever degree of energy independence it can bring them. Localism isn't necessarily strict, any more than 'sustainability' is supposed to be an absolute or euclidean measure of durability.. it's about balance, and taking advantage of what you've got instead of hanging on overseas/distant umbilicals for too much of your critical life-support.

Another part of Localism and sustainability is to see what you have in enough excess that you can use as trade-goods, and develop a balance of trade.

You mused on whether my earlier comment was snarky, it may well have been , as it was responding to yet another of your hyperbolic hypotheticals, "So to rely on it exclusively one would indeed be wanting some combination of backup, storage, and long-distance transmission." ... WHO is saying England should rely entirely on wind? So yes, I snark cause I'm SO tired of hearing such daily, overblown refrains..

The headline, at least, was misleading. It sounds like it was because the high that brought in the cold air also brought in still air--no wind, no wind power. This is not news, folks.

Here in Minnesota, we have a very large wind power component. If MN cold (currently about 0 F, dropping to about 15 below tonight) doesn't necessarily stop this power, it certainly shouldn't in Britain, unless the engineering is bad.

Elements can be put in place to keep crucial parts free of ice.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think wind is any kind of panacea, but let's not let this forum become another platform for inane mis-information.

15 below tonight) doesn't necessarily stop this power, it certainly shouldn't in Britain, unless the engineering is bad.

Or they just did the cost benefit analysis, and concluded the extra cost of being able to operate in those temps, just wasn't worth the tiny payoff (i.e. a couple of days a decade of forgone production). I bet much more wind production is lost to to conservative shutdown protocols for high winds, than because of cold weather.

Its not even that it has to be exclusive. The problem is the variability and unpredictability of the wind. If you could predict with 95% confidence that the wind is going to turn up and blow at a certain minimum speed for even a window of time each day, then it allows you to make a sensible economic decision about the viability. I'm sure there are soem sites where you can do this, but not enough to ever give wind a significant share of e-generation. TRhe best you can do is to try to balance other sources that can see-saw the load.

Regarding the post 'A Deafening Warning', it looks like Tunisia and Algeria are getting a headstart.

From AP Algeria: 2 killed in riots over rising food prices

Two demonstrators died in spreading unrest over rising food prices in this North African nation, the interior minister said Saturday.

...The rising prices of sugar, cooking oil and some other staples feed general discontent in a nation which is a major gas exporter but where housing shortages and poverty are endemic.

From BusinessWeek World Risks Food Riots as Grains Climb, Economist Chalmin Says

The world may face social unrest including food riots in April as grain prices increase, said Philippe Chalmin, an economic adviser to the French government.

Crop damage caused by flooding in Australia and drought in Argentina is likely to boost grain prices in coming months, Chalmin, an economics professor at the University of Paris- Dauphine, said in an interview in the French capital today.

“I’m very concerned,” Chalmin said. “Around Easter we could start to see food riots.”

“For the cereals, I expect very strong tension around March, April,” Chalmin said. “There are no more stocks available with the large exporters. It’s not because of sugar that you’re going to have food riots.”

and Record food prices could trigger riots, protectionism

This might help explain why the US Attorney General fears Americans might become "terrorists."

And why the Pentagon would war-game for massive civil unrest in the United States of America.

Thank you for the much better link. I love the "food now" guy in the pic of the riot training ;)

This might help explain why the US Attorney General fears Americans might become "terrorists."

Arizona congresswoman among 12 shot at Tucson grocery

So does this incident qualify as:
A) Domestic Terrorism, B)Political Assassination, C) Disgruntled Citizen, D) Lone lunatic, E) All of the above.

My guess is the assassin would choose: F) Self Defense.

Most juries would probably pick one of your choices and apply capital punishment or life without parole. The SEC or FDIC would pick "settle out of court," fine the assassin $50 and then let him go.

aardy - And as a judge in Georgia would ask when presented th case: But did the fella need shootin?"

Lone lunatic if the guy arrested is the killer. Here are his videos (please do not watch, they are nonsense, you will not get back this time in life!):

Videos from suspected shooter

Police now looking for a second older suspect.


Authorities are asking for the public's help to identify a person who is possibly associated with the suspect in Saturday's mass shooting in Arizona.

aardy - As been said many time before: One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. For every govt type who truly fears "American terrorists" I probably know a couple of right wing nutjobs who have the same fear of the govt. And as usual, in the end the winner will write the history books.

Michael Moore says it well today.

"If a Detroit Muslim put a map on the web w/crosshairs on 20 pols, then 1 of them got
shot, where would he be sitting right now? Just asking."

Don in Maine

Sarah Palin's aide is claiming these were surveyor's marks not cross hairs, Sarah's comments about targets and reloading notwithstanding. How about Palin just man up for once and admit she has done a very bad thing.

I am the last person in the world to defend Sarah Palin, however, just this morning on AOL.com home page was the Headline "Starbucks in Dunkin's Crosshairs". Again, this was TODAY!

I actually think that the use of graphical images creates an entirely different experience for the reader than the use of words such as "crosshairs". Those who assert that gun- and wartime-type language is commonly used in all sorts of competitive situations (politics, sports, business) without evoking violence are correct. But the use of visual graphics such as on Palin's map gives it a whole other feel, if you ask me. Including the possibility of conveying a very different message to the unstable wackos out there. And there's also a case to be made for going overboard with the language, as she may have done with the "reload" comments.

Context is vital. Nobody would construe that to mean a physical attack is suggested. Nobody. On the other hand, many of us immediately considered Palin's stuff threatening because of the context: the person, the assocation with guns, the demonizing language, and more.

Your example fails.

It is interesting (if that's an appropriate word) watching the campaign of denial kick in this morning.
I guess the televised shooting of caribou for entertainment on prime time has nothing to do with it...

For what it's worth, I'm a liberal who fears the U.S. government much more than any gunmen or terrorists.

The federal government is completely and totally out of control. It is spending money like a drunken sailor and has no meaningful policy on any of the many areas which need immediate attention.

In fact, it's because I believe that the federal government will ultimately collapse that I plan on leaving America. It doesn't much have to do with the land or people, although to be fair my opinion on many of my fellow citizens is not too high either.

Basically, I just don't want to be around for the fireworks. If and when the dust settles, I may come back though I doubt I'll be returning to the same country, in any sense of the word.

You'd bail on us when it's falling apart, and then expect to be let back in?

First it was Morocco, then Tunisia, and now it is Algeria's turn. Hundreds of Algerians have taken to the streets of the capital Algiers, some of them shouting 'Bring us sugar!'

They are unhappy with the rising cost of food and, what they say, is a lack of opportunity in the country. They are directing their anger at the government - they do not understand why an oil rich country is unable to offer a decent life to its people.

Tea Party Billionaire David Koch Denies Climate Change, Shrugs Off His Carbon Pollution w/Video

ThinkProgress conducted an impromptu interview with David Koch — one of the richest men in America, co-owner of the conglomerate Koch Industries, and a top financier of right-wing front groups — after we found him leaving the swearing-in ceremony for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Koch said that he “admire[s]” the Tea Party movement, and that “the rank and file are just normal people like us.”

Who would have thought that we had so many multi-billionaires in this country?

and Koch Industries sues over bogus website, release

A fundamental, profound, and simple math issue seems intractable to solve.

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States, projected to 01/08/11 at 18:00 UTC (EST+5) is

One birth every.................................. 8 seconds
One death every.................................. 11 seconds
One international migrant (net) every............ 45 seconds
Net gain of one person every..................... 15 seconds


At work Friday I was talking to a guy in his office when another fellow came by offering lollipops.

I turned it over and the wrapper read 'its a boy'. Congrats were offered and he went on to say that this was his and his wife's third boy, that they were trying for a girl.

The first guy I was originally talking with said that he had four girls, that he and his wife kept trying for a boy.

Then the guy with four girls told the guy with three boys (new dad again guy)to keep trying.

I kept my mouth shut.

No wonder the dentist has warned me about clenching my teeth.

There is just about zero talk/concern about rising population in this country. No advocacy for achieving and maintaining a stable, zero-growth population. let alone a moderately declining population.

My mood was dampened further when on the way home I was following a large pick up trick with the bumper sticker:

I'll keep my Bible, guns, freedom, money, and SUV and you can keep the change.

The depressing thing is: The President is not all that different from his tormentors across the imaginary divide.

I don't have any good answers...the two-party paradigm seems to preclude electing someone outside of the corptacracy...for example, a Ron Paul or a Ralph Nader.

Gasoline is still <$3.00/gallon here...,the beat goes on.

You should have suggested they trade children and then everyone gets what they want. Or how about adoption? It's all about the ego.

Those two very thoughts crossed my mind immediately.

I also thought: How would I like to be a child who somehow overheard that he/she was produced in the quest for a child of the other gender?

In my work environment, over the past 23+ years I have met a LOT of couples with four or more children.

My wife and I brought forth two wonderful children, then I underwent vasectomy by mutual agreement, with no regrets.

If everyone had two or fewer children, then the population growth curve would flatten sooner and even decrease slowly.

The math is simple.

Human psychology is not.

Biology is a funny thing.

On one hand, having so many kids means spreading time and resources amongst them thereby decreasing the wealth that each one will inherit from you.

On the other hand, it makes sense, as even if a few kids die before reproducing or end up poor, there are still others to carry on the line.

For what it's worth I think your encounter is now an aberration. I routinely meet people, many middle aged and older, with 0,1,2 kids.

As far as bumper stickers, they are low class regardless of the politics or ideas being expressed. I can't say that I disagree with the guy, even if I cringe at the way he expresses his opinion and assumes that anybody cares.

Quite honestly I don't give such stickers a second thought, other than knowing they are part and parcel of a country in decline.


You obviously are not in the military or the well-compensated MIC Federal Civil Servant and contractor legions then.

I banned bumper stickers from my family's vehicles from day one regardless of message. they are tacky.

OK, the point about the guy's message is that it is specious: President Obama has not done a darn thing to lessen anyone's right and ability to own Bibles, guns, and SUVs. s far as freedom, the President has maintained GWB's policies (Patriot Act, etc) which were just fine with this guy before. Furthermore, almost everyone's taxes have been cut (or remained the same) since President Obama has been in office.

So...his bumper sticker is code for: I can't stand the fact that we elected a Democrat, especially a black person.

Personally i think that one hell of a lot of us here at TOD are so literal minded that we can't appreciate a bit of sarcasm or dry humor or tongue in cheek humor.

I am willing to hazard a bet that the guy who owns the truck with the bumper sticker about Bibles , guns, suvs and change has a great sense of humor.

We don't seem to be able to get our heads around the fact that Ayn Rand is just a novelist, or that she might make a few valid points in her books-points that I have seen made here by people who put her down as a sort of antichrist but have never read her books.

Mike B knows more about the nitty gritty realities of organic farming and industrial agriculture than anybody else who comments here-including yours truly, as I have never worked regularly on an organic farm.He is in the ten ring just about all the time when he talks ag, and damned close the rest of the time.

Those who disagree with him seem to me to have accepted a good bit of debatable data and accepted a number of debatable positions as things akin to holy writ, NOT to be questioned or questioned only at risk of being accused of being a paid industry mouthpiece or a heretic to be driven from the fold.

All of us who happen to believe we can predict the future in anything other than the broadest of terms need to lighten up a bit.

It ain't what we know that causes us problems; it's what we know that ain't necessarily so.

Nicely put.

I am willing to hazard a bet that the guy who owns the truck with the bumper sticker about Bibles , guns, suvs and change has a great sense of humor.

About what?

I would wager that he certainly doesn't have a sense of humor about the topic/theme of his bumper sticker or his related political views.

I have been in the active duty military for 20+ years, and have been in the circles of the AD military, DoD Federal civil servants, and MIC contractors for ~22.5 years now.

In my personal experiences with several thousand people, the folks who sport bumper stickers such as the one in this discussion are usually as serious as a heart attack.

I was on a government commission once and one day I had to endure the other 11 people on the working group spontaneously engage in a bitch-fest about how the Girl Scouts of America were traitors to our country and to the Boy Scouts, because the GSA didn't take the hard-line stand on turning away gay folks and on enforcing an allegiance to the chosen majority religion's God. Folks said "I will NEVER donate one dollar to the GSA, never buy their cookies, they are a liberal anti-family values organization". These were O-5 (Lt Col (O-5) and Col (O-6) military and civil servant folks.

As an atheist and an registered independent voter who did not cotton to their world-view, I was stuck clenching my teeth until the group decided to turn to their official business at hand once again.

The anger, hate, bile...was palatable.

These same folks are currently seething over the repeal of DADT.

But...PO, LTG...such issues are not on their radar at all. If brought up, they will dismiss these topics as false issues spawned and promulgated by tree-huggers, leftists, anti-family values types, etc. etc.

It seems to me that many (certainly not all) folks who are not on the rabid right tend to be much more contemplative and nuanced in discussions of most matters.

LOL I thought that the Girl Scouts were a fascist organization! I guess I'm going to have to start buying their cardboard cookies and giving them to my students.

Seriously, many moons ago when I was studying and taking MCATs, a big part of the exam was two essays written in 30 minutes on assigned social or political topics. Now, I am a leftie and I tried and tried to be true and write honest essays that reflected what I thought but I just couldn't in the 30 minutes. The problem was that I see the world in shades of grey most often. My arguments are complex, nuanced and depend on serious evidence (lots of it). Such arguments can't be made in 30 minutes, or at least I can't. But I could easily write right wing essays in 30 minutes which is what I had to do. The arguments were to my mind terrible: dogmatic, black and white, ignoring other evidence and points of view, unbalanced, intellectually lazy, but fast. I got a very high MCAT score. Heisenberg, it sounds like you are dealing with lazy thinkers who don't want to be uncomfortable.

I was rather taken aback by the impromptu out-poring of vitriol against GSA during a break in this meeting...I had thought of BSA and GSA as more or less the same deal, except for the gender segregation of course.

Having absolute certainty about one's positions is obviously a position of great comfort, from observing and interacting with these folks.

Through their lenses, they are pillars of their communities, fighting for what is true and just and essential for America to turn back from the perceived abyss.

Funny thing is, I agree with some ideas, statements, etc. here and there from folks on the right...but their tribe, more and more, demands absolute fealty to a harder and harder standard, and my outlook on life is way too eclectic for them to tolerate....at least the sub-set of 'conservative' folks in the MIC in my everyday experiences...perhaps most folks on TOD interact with much more toned-down members of the tribe than I do.

[Edit}: My big tie-in here is that these 'hard-core' type of folks I refer to here reject any talk of Limits to Growth, including Peak Oil, as Socialist lunatic fringe stuff. Any talk of possible negative climate change outcomes from humanity's activities is shouted down with even greater fervor as some kind of a plot to bring about the downfall of America as the top dog in the World.

My big tie-in here is that these 'hard-core' type of folks I refer to here reject any talk of Limits to Growth, including Peak Oil, as Socialist lunatic fringe stuff. Any talk of possible negative climate change outcomes from humanity's activities is shouted down with even greater fervor as some kind of a plot to bring about the downfall of America as the top dog in the World.

Thus do their ignorance of the world bring the downfall of USA... :-(

Very interesting indeed, but I just don't think it matters anymore!

It's sort of like death. Not a pleasant subject but it's the only comparison I can think of. At that point all the matters is settling your affairs, making peace with the world, with God, with whomever.

I can see that you still care. There's nothing wrong with that, but I personally feel I'm beyond that now.

IMO, America's a dying country, end of story. Doesn't mean you can't live your life or do your job or hope for the future, but to a certain degree it means letting go.

I wouldn't care if a theocrat or dictator or the military took over. It's nothing less than we deserve.

My big tie-in here is that these 'hard-core' type of folks I refer to here reject any talk of Limits to Growth, including Peak Oil, as Socialist lunatic fringe stuff. Any talk of possible negative climate change outcomes from humanity's activities is shouted down with even greater fervor as some kind of a plot to bring about the downfall of America as the top dog in the World.

That sounds just like many of the winners of 'Darwin Awards'.


I'd ask, though, whether your sample wasn't far more self-selected for strong feelings than OFM's sample might be. After all, most people simply don't have time to participate in government commissions of any sort, or even to testify before them, so there may be a disproportionate selection of True Believers.

I think you meant "palpable."


To be fair, it also goes the other way. There are people who refuse to support the Boy Scouts (but do support the Girl Scouts) over this issue. (I confess, I am one of them.)

Overall, though, I'm with OldFarmerMac. We all need to lighten up a bit. I know that feelings are running high after the Arizona shooting, but I'd really prefer not to spend so much bandwidth on partisan politics here. There are a lot of other places for that.

Re: Greenland Ice Melt from drumbeat post

Greenland close to unavoidable meltdown

“Over the next 30 years the amount of snowfall will not compensate for melting,” Hesselbjerg Christensen tells pol.dk adding: “Based on our model, I would almost say that the point of no return has already been passed. Our result shows in principle that permanent meltdown is unavoidable.”

Arctic sea ice may be affecting weather patterns: expert

...The eastern Arctic has been particularly warm this winter, especially around Canada's Baffin Island and Hudson Bay, according to the center. There, much of the water remains ice-free; it is usually completely frozen over by November, according to the center.

But Alaska has had its share of winter warmth.

Fairbanks residents are still recovering from November's "Icepocalypse," when rain fell for a record 39 consecutive hours, coating the city in thick ice and closing schools and government offices.

I was about to to proclaim the next great real estate boom, but I had to read TFA.

"He says, however, that according to the model it will take more than 1,000 years before the Greenland ice-cap has more or less disappeared."

Oh drat. I guess there is not point in figuring out how to get Danish citizenship any time soon.

To disappear, not melt. It doesn't magically happen at year 1,000. It may never completely de-glaciate, but that is not the question; the question is, as with PO, rate of melt, and that is currently projected to be a least one meter of SLR this century. I believe that to be significantly to the low side.

Re: "Book Review – Why We Hate The Oil Companies" above:

I think Hofmeister is exactly right about our "electing politicians who have spent 40 years not making good energy policy decisions. "

Which makes me wonder why he would propose the following:

Therefore, his solution: “Now is the time for Congress to legislate and the president to sign a bill to create and implement an independent regulatory agency, the Federal Energy Resources System, to manage the nation’s energy and energy-related environmental footprint.”

What is different about our congress now that he would have confidence in their ability to "make good policy decisions" now?

Does anyone have any confidence in federal regulatory agencies (consider the SEC, FDIC, State and Fed A.G.s - all, IMHO, rendered mostly ineffective by the congress and the president)?

Does he really think we have the decades of election cycles necessary to accomplish this in an effective manner (i.e. without creating more boondoggles and wasting more capital?)

We already have a Department of Energy, for Christ Sakes. This is the guy who believes that we can produce as much oil as we did in the 70s. And then he pretends to care about the environment. Shell Oil? I think not.

I can't take anything Hofmeister says seriously. He is a paid lobbyist for oil companies that want to open areas for drilling. And to gain public support he is trying to scare people with predictions about high prices. He is merely trading his previous experience for lobbyist dollars. It is sad, pathetic, and deceptive. Opening up more drilling areas will certainly make oil companies money but there is no way it will have any significant impact on oil prices. I regret having linked to a story with his quotes since he's just being paid whore not an objective analyst.

spec - I'll offer a very biased view of his comments: he really isn't that interested in those off limits areas. Maybe some reasonable potential on the N. Slope. But Shell has the whole world to drill in and their doing pretty much all they can now. I suspect his pitch for more drilling has a more cynical reason: using this great "currently unavailable" pot of gold as a way to push Shell stock. Remember his primary goal is to increase share value...not necessarially increase the profit margin. By offering the public a vision of vast reserves to be tapped by the entire industry means there is a big future for Shell Oil...and a reason to keep bidding the stock price up.

No clue yet whether this is political, personal, or a just a random nutter:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot at Grocery Store Event

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range today outside a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store where she was holding a campaign event, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Giffords was among as many as 12 people reportedly wounded in the shooting, and according to Congressional sources, several people on the Deomcrat's staff were among the wounded.

They are now assassinating Democrats.
A truly degenerate and primitive culture.

"They are now assassinating Democrats."

JFK, RFK, MLK,,,,,now Ms. Giffords. Democrat killers are better shots , it seems. This is one more indication of how divided the US has become and why I have limited expectations of us coming together to solve the multiple critical problems we face. I've stopped writing letters to the editor of the local paper for this reason. While I have received much positive feedback from my submissions about energy and economic matters, some responses were purely venomous and extreme. IMO, the lunatic fringe will continue to grow as things get more dicey. Their method of madness is to shoot the messenger rather than adapt to peak oil, debt crises, immigration, etc.

Who's next? Bankers? The President?

Bankers are generally not Democrats.

But they are usually fat - good targets for people needing lip balm... (Book of Eli ;)

From US politician killed in Arizona

Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Washington DC, said that Giffords was seen as the one to beat in the recent US midterm elections and was denounced by 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

"She was not somebody who was appreciated by the right wing of the republican party," said Spicer.

"She had been singled out as someone who should be beaten at the polls, certainly, and she was somebody who supported healthcare reform which is really the landmark policy of Barak Obama's first term."

Starting to look a lot like Mexico

edit: BBC is sayning: A spokeswoman denied earlier reports that she had died and told ABC News she was in surgery.

CNN reporting multiple deaths but cannot confirm death of Giffords. Edit Update Hospital spokesman says being operated on but I think just confirmed shot in head.

Reality is completely implausible.

Imagine if a student in a creative writing class wrote a story about a little girl who was killed during an assassination attempt on a Congresswoman. The student submits this as the background sketch of the victim:

Christina, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, was involved in many activities, from ballet to baseball. She had just received her first Holy Communion at St. Odilia's Catholic Church on in Tucson, Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

Dear student, it's pretty heavy-handed to associate your victim "Christina" with Jesus Christ, who was allegedly killed for our sins. It is completely implausible--bordering on ridiculous--to have "Christ-ina" born during the attacks of 9/11, which virtually begs your reader to see her as a symbol, not a person. Your reader is rolling his or her eyes at this point. Then you just go over the top: She's the Perfect Little Girl, having just received her Holy Communion. Please revise the story.


It really happened that way.

Then there's the alleged killer's name. From twitter

"Loughner? Loner? Jared Lee? Lee Harvey? Bueller? Beuller?"


One day it's Governors from Punjab, Pakistan, the next day a congressional rep from Arizona.

The common thread: Tolerance is not acceptable, where it be blasphemy in Pakistan, or abortion in the US.

...in the U.S.

abortion; homosexuality; any religion other than the majority religion; atheism; any serious talk of cutting the Military Industrial Complex budget; any threat to 'prosperity' from people who wish to mitigate climate change; any talk of producing more of our needed goods in the U.S., etc.

Funny you should bring that up. I was just thinking about Pakistan, about how worrisome it is that a country riven by political division, marked by fanatical adherence to evidence-free ideological postures, blinded by fundamentalist literalism when interpreting enlightening mythological narratives, committed to gun culture and prone to violence...has nuclear weapons.

Hey, careful now, Pakistan has been designated as one of our great big bedrock allies in the holy 'War on Terror' by the GW Bush administration, and as carried on by the current administration.

We can't diss our poster child, can we?

There are other places on the internet to track this event - http://www.metafilter.com/99323 is an example.

Militarization Of Energy Policy: U.S. Africa Command And Gulf Of Guinea

...Washington's energy strategy in regards to West Africa is a reflection of its international policy of not only gaining access to but control over hydrocarbon supplies and delivery to other nations, in particular to those countries importing the largest amount of oil and natural gas next to the U.S. itself: China, Japan, India, South Korea and the nations of the European Union.

Late last year the Atlantic Council, the preeminent pro-NATO think tank on either side of the Atlantic, co-released a report entitled "Advancing U.S., African, and Global Interests: Security and Stability in the West African Maritime Domain." It proceeds from the fact that "The Gulf of Guinea is at the brink of becoming a greater supplier of energy to the United States than the Persian Gulf and is therefore of far higher strategic importance than has historically been the case."

The report recommends enhanced U.S. government concentration on "a vital region to maintaining U.S. energy security, prosperity, and homeland security."

2002 IASPS report cited African Oil: A Priority for U. S. National Security and African Development

Let us all wish for people to calm down.

From MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40978517/ns/politics/

The shooting comes amid a highly charged political environment that has seen several dangerous threats against lawmakers but nothing that reached the point of actual violence.

A San Francisco man upset with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's support of health care reform pleaded guilty to threatening the Democratic congresswoman and her family, calling her directly on March 25 and threatening to destroy her Northern California home if she voted for health care reform.

In July, a California man known for his anger over left-leaning politics engaged in a shootout with highway patrol officers after planning an attack on the ACLU and another nonprofit group. The man said he wanted to "start a revolution" by killing people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.

Giffords herself has drawn the ire of the right, especially for her support of the health care bill from politicians like Sarah Palin.

Her Tucson office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote to approve the health care law in March, with someone either kicking or shooting out a glass door and window.

From Alternet:


Rep. Giffords was one of 20 members of Congress published on Sarah Palin's “hit list,” demarcated by an actual gun target. Moments ago the image was on her site, but it's since been taken down. The graphic is republished here, however. Palin was opposed to the Congress members because of their support of the health care bill. Further, during the November election, her opponent also ran with the 'target' rhetoric, advertising a rally with the phrase, “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office/Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

People want to kill people because of health care? Please. That is seriously twisted.

Are you disbelieving that could be a motive?

There exist right-wing folks who work for the U.S. government (and who work for their contractors) who seethe at everything the Congress and the President has legislated over the past two years.

There are more than a few people out there who think the current President is the Antichrist and that any Democratic politician is a 'Demoncrat'.

The interesting thing is, that I have read that the USG is thinking of monitoring Federal Civil Servant and military members' private, at-home, personal emails and web traffic visits to look for future Wilileakers, but there is never any effort to ascertain which among the MIC flock harbor ill will towards the President and lessor politicians...not as long as that ill will is towards Democrats.

This all makes my head swim...maybe we are losing any semblance of our civility in this country.

There exist right-wing folks who work for the U.S. government (and who work for their contractors) who seethe at everything the Congress and the President has legislated over the past two years.

And yet, Medicare Part D passed without a whisper from them. Ditto the Bush Administration's transformation of a modest budget surplus into a trillion-dollar annual deficit. It would seem to be less a matter of what is done and more a matter of who does it. Sigh...

Medi Part D was a nice gift to big business. LOL. Welfare is only called such when it does not go straight to big business.

As of the end of year 2008, the average annual per beneficiary cost spending for Part D, reported by the Department of Health and Human Services, was $1,517,[18] making the total expenditures of the program for 2008 $49.3 (billions). Projected net expenditures from 2009 through 2018 are estimated to be $727.3 billion.[19]

3/4 of a trillion. LMAO from the RIGHTWING in a gift bag!

"Let us all wish for people to calm down."

Too late ?

I think we are now already into Phase II of The Transition (SamSam Bakhtiari).

Most people will never have a chance to understand what is happening to us. So most people will probably swing first and ask questions later as their own personal situation deteriorates.

That is one of the main reasons I've seriously considered leaving my home town (and considered my return here to be a mistake). I have no desire to watch the formerly rational and happy people I knew and loved turn into rabid fools who will turn on each other in desperation.

We had a taste of that here on TOD a few years ago. I recall mildly heated disagreements between TOD's city posters and country posters while "discussing" rationing fuel and food if things got dicey here in the USA...

It is hard to be rational and objective in the face of desperation, cold, hunger etc.

It is "probably" just too late for most people.

Yes, the TOD 'City Mouse-Country Mouse' tit-for-tat got old real quick.

Yeah, cause people in the city and people in the country can live without each other -- or so they think.

In the Country, everything will be fine once they stock up on items purchased via the city infrastructure.

in the City, everything will be fine as long as the supermarket shelves are full of food from the country.

Must be a boring argument between the two camps.

Must be a boring argument between the two camps.

Naw - not that boring as the 'country mouse' was busy chest thumping about how he knew how to forage. Said mouse did not account for:

1) What happens when FAR more people are going over the land picking what food/fuel they can find.
2) His own health and what turned out to be his failing health less than 5 years later.

Said mouse also spent time claiming how he, as a country mouse was far brighter than anyone who'd be in a city....while also spending time boasting how he worked for a large international maker of business machinery. How one squares the need of cities for such a maker to exist and therefore his job/pension so he could later be a country mouse was never done.

Yeah unfortunately the collapse isn't about people joining communes and growing fruit and riding bikes and singing songs.

This violence is what the collapse is about, especially in a country like the U.S. with its gun culture and contradictory influence of both hyperindividualism and the police/military state.

A nice big war is what y'all need to get you back together.Obviously the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures can't make the cut.
You may not have to wait too long.

Henry A. Wallace, 33rd V.P. of the US had some prescient insights on where we are today. Quotes (bear with the fascist references - these were written between 1940-1945)

It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States.

The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism.

Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.
Henry A. Wallace

The alleged shooter's (Jared Lee Loughner) Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Classitup10

Bizarre. Almost like something out of an MK-ULTRA wet-dream.

I suppose that Palin could be charged with sedition or as something like an accessory before the fact for advocating the killing of a US congress person. Isn't the posting of those pictures like advocating violent overthrow of the government? It will be interesting to hear Palin, Beck and Limbaugh's waffling away from their previous hard lines as this situation progresses.

Another question might be who trained this kid to shoot like that? He managed to shoot 18 people in a rather short period of time, apparently using a Glock hand gun. Was he involved with some self-defense or militia movement?

E. Swanson

Seems Palin was advocating violence instead of the rule of law, but you know -- she was just using it as a symbolic target symbol. I wonder what the Court of Law says about Palin's little incite to violence imagery.

Well That was the youngest female congress women in AZ state legislature -- a distinguished career of service to her country. I hope she lives and is still able to think lucidly.

Too bad we are going to kill each other now over politics.

The US has become so polarized that it's a lot like the times leading up to the War Between the States. Come to think of it, there are still folks who see that fight as unsettled. As a child of the South, I was never really clear as to the exact reasons for that war and have done some reading of late to try to understand. The popular claims in recent years about the South wanting States Rights really misses the rabid racist feelings about the slave culture of the Old South. There has been a recent series in the NYT about disunion, one post describing the Declaration of the Immediate Causes from the South Carolina convention which voted to secede. Another post in the Washington Post lists the present myths about the reasons for the War...

Of course on the blogs, the rightwing are saying the shooter is a Leftwing nutjob and the Leftwing bogs are saying the shooter is the result of the Tea party and Palin whipping folks up into a hate-filled frenzy.

Seems the future is very similar to Iraq or any other country experiencing civil unrest and regular assassinations. I hope this is isolated. However, I know it will be politically exploited to do further damage.

I hope this is isolated. However, I know it will be politically exploited to do further damage.

Hopefully we will do better than that. If the media simply takes the easy way, declares him a lone crazy, about as much a creature of the left as of the right, then we have a problem. The real issue is that the rightwing hatred is going to be picked up by unstable individuals, got to cool the rhetoric -and the lies, or we will be seeing a lot more of this.
But, if we are willing to admit, we've let this go on way too far, I think there is hope.

Yeah, but hardcore rightwingers are trying to pass the buck and claim he wasn't one of their own. All we can really say definitively right now is that the guy wasn't right in the head, and while this may be true, it doesn't absolve the rightwing loudmouths of responsibility. The Sheriff put it this way:

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the Capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

Another question might be who trained this kid to shoot like that? He managed to shoot 18 people in a rather short period of time, apparently using a Glock hand gun. Was he involved with some self-defense or militia movement?

On his YouTube Channel he says

So he applied. What happened next?

"Another question might be who trained this kid to shoot like that? He managed to shoot 18 people in a rather short period of time, apparently using a Glock hand gun. Was he involved with some self-defense or militia movement?"

Have you ever shot a handgun? In an area where there are a lot of people around, it wouldn't be too hard. I have a 9mm and if the gun is fully loaded, I can shoot 18 rounds(1 in the chamber and 17 in the magazine) without having to reload.

Yes, I've shot a handgun and owned a few over the years. But, I haven't shot them enough to develop proficiency with a pistol. With a semi-auto, it's easy to pump out shots quickly, but that wasn't my point. To actually hit a series of targets with the desired effect, one must have enough experience to overcome the tendency to "snap shoot" without taking time to select a target and aim at a vital point before pulling the trigger. I think that this effort requires considerable practice, something which I've not done, if only because of the expense.

There are other ways to practice, such as paint ball or air soft guns, but the noise and recoil levels aren't the same and thus the actual experience is different. In the US, there are groups which practice simulated combat using both types of devices, which can introduce an individual to the stresses of combat without the use of a real gun. We don't yet know what the shooter's background is, however, it would seem reasonable to speculate that he had some type of experience with simulated combat and/or considerable practice with live fire of real weapons. Not that either would be unusual in the US these days...

E. Swanson

Practiced or not, his success rate in killing and wounding just seems pretty incredible. It seems like he would have needed an accomplice. But the claim is that the accomplice was not firing.

Spray and pray in a close crowd with a 30 round clip, hard not to hit people. Still, I think we are maybe overdoing the subject.


Sorry to butt in on the current events discussions, but regarding the Hawaiian biofuel project included above; seems it involves Thermal Depolymerization. This was (kind of) debunked in 04/11/2007 by Robert Rapier here on TOD "TDP: The Next Big Thing".


Seems the Hawaiian project involves Thermochem Recovery International (TCI) and uses a microwave deploymerization. TCI seem to have bone fides in pulp mill waste.

Is the Hawaiian project likely just hype or is the technology solid? Robert's critique seemed to focus on the the commercial reality (feedstock costs in particular) versus the original promises. However, I'm trying to understand if the technology is viable in EROEI terms assuming, for example, the feed stock plantation is close. Hawaii has the most expensive (diesel generated) electricity in the nation?

Is there a SME on TOD for this area?

While I know nothing about thermal depolymerization, I wonder why people are trying biofuel at all in Hawaii - a place that I remember from my postdoc as both windy and sunny. Wouldn't wind and solar be better choices in such a place?

They also have wind farms, solar projects, and a geothermal plant. They had an ocean thermal plant for awhile.

However, oil is still the main source of electricity, because it's still the cheapest. Hawaii is one of the few places in the US that still burns oil for electricity. (Most other places converted to coal or natural gas after the '70s energy crisis, but those aren't convenient energy sources for islands.) I would guess the biofuel is supposed to replace the fuel oil without forcing the electric company to install new infrastructure.

Creating liquid biofuels on the big isle for use in centralized electricity generation seems pretty boneheaded - there must be significant subsidies in there somewhere.

I have not gotten involved in the big isle energy scene, but I think the island grid could be expanded a lot with geothermal and be stable long-term (with enough spare parts). It's my impression from a couple decades ago that a principle reason geothermal hasn't been expanded is "Pele worshippers" and "environmentalists"... one reason I don't use the E word to describe myself anymore.

Still, I think the big isle has a lot of potential, even without electricity.

I would think Hawaii ought to have significant hydro potential. Lots of elevation, and mostly a lot of precipitation.

But not a lot of volume.

Small islands, small watersheds. The "rivers" in Hawaii are more like streams.

I concur. The rivers are non existent on the Big Island. That largest I have seen (Waiipio river) was only a small stream. Wave energy would be a better option as wind and solar. Geothermal might be nice, but is tricky. Storage will be a big issue.

Maybe RR will weigh in. I believe he's actually working with a biofuel company in Hawaii.

It sounds to me like this project is going to make use of agricultural waste. The crops they are planning to grow aren't really known as energy crops.

We have tried to get a handle on what exactly they are claiming. TRI is in fact known for black liquor gasification -- not biomass gasification -- and the Germany company they refer to does seem to be doing some sort of thermal depolymerization. But that doesn't really work well with cellulosic biomass; it is more suited to plastics and such. So we are just keeping an eye on the developments, but what they are claiming is pretty vague. We find a lot of companies out here make claims that amount to very little; too early to see if this is yet another.

My take on it from the press clippings is that the Germany company would like to see if they can do TDP on cellulosic biomass, and I suspect this will be more of a developmental effort rather than something that is commercially ready to go.

Thanks for the additional perspective Robert. We'll just watch and see I guess. On the face of it, TDP sounds amazing - dispose of waste and/or utilize low value materials, liberate energy and/or synthesize liquid fuel, sequester carbon and produce a char/soil amendment. Here's hoping I say! Prior to this I imagined the alternative liquid fuel push here in the islands would be cane ethanol but who knows?

Electrical generation is 88% resid, 12% diesel. These are totals, in gallons:

2003	2004	2005	2006	2007	2008
606676	370633	448409	537813	551194	832293

Don't know how things have shaken out the last couple of years. EIA says they're 38.6% of US petroleum fired generation; also that some OTEC type plant will be online by the end of this year. Energy Information Administration (EIA) | State/Territory Energy Profiles | Energy Data, Information, and Maps. Some firm wants to privatize and move more quickly away from the FFs: HEI a possible buyout target - Mauinews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Visitor's Information - The Maui News

Orlov Lifeboats: A Memoir:

[This is a guest post by Albert, whose amazing erudition and experience gives him the right to tell just about anyone to sit down, shut up and listen — although he is far too nice to actually say that. But I am not, so I will: sit down, shut up and listen.]

During the early days of The Farm, 1971-1973, we learned a number of lessons that will be useful again now that a rapid petrocollapse scenario is likely to come to pass...

Eric Cartman was wrong. Those "Damned hippies" were good for something after all ;)

Eric Cartman was wrong. Those "Damned hippies" were good for something after all ;)

That is a good read! Fascinating really. It left me a bit conflicted at the end, on the one hand they put a great deal of hard work and sacrifice into making a decent go of it, over decades no less, but on the other hand at some point they said "well, that was fun" and "de-collectivized".

For all of Greer's talk about "green wizardry" (using dusty old manuals from the same back-to-the-land era) I seem to recall he dismisses these collective farms and communes as impractical and unworkable, this despite having apparently lived on one himself.

I also couldn't help thinking "better not let the transition town people see this". Although they would probably be loathe to admit it, it seems to me that the ultimate goal of transition is something like what these folks did with their farm. What you won't hear from transition town is how much hard work and primitive living it requires.

All in all, it was refreshing to hear from someone who has actually lived it. Quite a change from all the dreamy-eyed techno-fantasy crap that usually passes for peak oil commentary.


"how much hard work and primitive living it requires"

We're all in for plenty of hard work and (relatively) primitive living--or mostly the alternative--not living.

In the recent decades those moving ahead toward these lifestyles were constantly made to feel like freaks, and when they could constantly see that they could walk away and re-hire their 200-300 nearly free energy slaves to have a much softer life--with such pressures it is amazing that anyone stuck it out as long as they did.

I agree Jerry, it was a very good read, especially because it came from someone who lived it.

And douboi (are you an ex-boxer from wisconsin ???), like you I get that "you are a freak" - a "luddite" - when I do not use the 'god-given power tools' available for some of my labors ;)

Regarding "Rare Earths Shortage Becoming Problem For Refiners"

-Hillary and Obama discuss the issue in the Oval Office...


-Enjoy! :o)


This was an interesting different view on the rare earths story. Most stories have fretted about how alternative energy systems and electric cars may be in trouble if rare earth materials become scarce . . . here is a story saying how it affects traditional FF energy too.

The WSJ is reporting BP to Cut Alaskan Oil Production

BP PLC said it's shutting down 95% of its Alaskan oil production after a big oil leak was discovered at one of the pump stations on the North Slope, a spokesman said.

BP said it was advised by Alyeska, the company that operates the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, to reduce its oil production to 5% of normal levels while it responded to the incident. All other operators on the North Slope, such as ConocoPhillips, were given the same order. BP spokesman Steve Rinehart called it a "significant event."

The North Slope accounts for around 630,000 barrels a day of production, or about 9% of total U.S. output. The BP-operated Prudhoe Bay – the largest producing field in the U.S. – makes up a big chunk of North Slope production – around 370,000 barrels a day.

How much storage tanks are there in Valdez? I am somewhat skeptical about this statement at the end:

Industry observers say the shut down – while affecting a big chunk of U.S. domestic crude production – should not have a significant impact on oil supplies, since there is always a lot of oil in storage tanks in Valdez.

Or perhaps they are thinking this is just a few day event.


I checked to see what the storage capacity of the tanks is. According to this report, Valdez is actively using 15 tanks which together have a storage capacity of 7.3 million barrels. This would equate to about 12 days worth of the shortfall in oil production (95% of 630,000 barrels a day), assuming the tanks are all full.

I would assume the tankers go to West Coast refineries. (Otherwise, perhaps Hawaii.) So a shortfall would be felt there, if the outage lasts a while, and other oil is not available to ship fairly quickly.

More info


The trans-Alaska oil pipeline has been shut down after pipeline workers discovered a spill at Pump Station 1 Saturday morning.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said the 800-mile line that carries about 600,000 barrels of oil a day between the North Slope and Valdez was shut down just before 9 a.m. Pump Station 1 is at Prudhoe Bay. Alyeska said in a press release the leak appeared to be from a section of piping at the station that is encased in concrete. The leak was discovered when workers saw oil in the building next to that section of pipe.

...North Slope oil producers are cutting back production by 95 percent for an indefinite period of time.

And there's another 100k bpd oilsands offline after the Canadian fire...

The WSJ points out:

Mr. Rinehart said that while BP has periodically been forced to cut output due to large-scale power outages, or when heavy winds have interrupted tanker loadings at the port of Valdez, "this is a big reduction" in the middle of winter "when we have temperature and weather challenges."

BP said it would take time to shut in the many fields on the North Slope and freeze protect pipelines

What do they do to keep the main pipeline from "freezing"? Do they fill it with something like kerosene or naptha? What if it can't be done quickly enough and the crude in the pipeline were to "freeze" (what ever that might imply)?

E. Swanson

Every little problem now becomes a big one in this flat oil production / declining US imports picture.

Americans are just running around town -- not worrying at all about where they get that gasoline or why it is becoming more and more expensive.

Maybe freezing up the AK pipeline could hurry us along to better awareness.

Dog - I'm not a cold weather geologist so maybe my yankee cousins can offer a better answer. But until then I'll offer a guess: that's why they'll maintain a 5% thru put even if it means continuing to leak. The oil is periodic heated along the route so I guess the minumal thru put to prevent freezing is that 5%. But we've been hearing stories for a while about BP's poor maintenance of the line. Easy to imagine such situations will occur more often.

Here is a article that was much discussed around here last fall.

Meyers: TAPS likely to reach minimum flow levels by 2015

Unless major oil discoveries are made soon in Alaska, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System could be at minimum operating level of 500,000 barrels per day in four years, a senior ConocoPhillips executive told a group of Alaska business leaders.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which operates TAPS, is completing a revised study of its capability to operate the pipeline as throughput declines and will soon review the results with its owners, mostly the major North Slope producers, Alyeska spokeswoman Michelle Egan said.

And in this report,


Below 0.6 million bbl/day, "mechanical revisions" may be required to operate with a throughput below that level.

This story by Platts says:

Trans Alaska pipeline shut, producers cut to 5 pct of normal, loadings continue

Michelle Egan, a spokeswoman for Alyeska, said loadings at the port of Valdez are continuing normally from existing inventories. She added that a shutdown of the entire line is necessary to isolate the leak. Pump station 1, where the leak was discovered, is just south of Prudhoe Bay. "We want to make sure that if we start up the line and additional pressure is puton the area where we believe the leak is, it won't be exacerbated," Egan said, discussing the need for a total line shutdown. According to Alyeska, the spill "appears to be contained." Egan noted that the leak is in a section of the line set in concrete.

Prudhoe Bay is up north, on the Arctic Ocean. Valdez is on the southern coast of Alaska. It seems strange they would need to close the whole pipeline, for something very close to the northern end (unless pretty much all of the production is from up there).

There may be a much bigger story here. There have been rumors that the pipeline is in bad shape due to corrosion. This may just be the tip of the iceberg. If pressure has ruptured the pipeline here due to corrosion then there is likely a lot of other places along the 800 mile pipeline in similar shape.

Ron P.

As the product already in the pipeline cools and its viscosity increases, the pressure required to restart full flow goes up. One would expect that this will be an effective test of the condition of the pipeline. I doubt that switching to a lighter product such as kerosene is an option at this point. The 5% (mentioned above) flow being maintained is well below the MOL as stated in various reports. They better get this problem fixed quickly. I expect that it will only take a few miles of cold pipeline to prevent a restart without overpresurization. While my experience with petroleum pipelines is limited to surveys and external condition reports, I have quite a bit of experience with piping systems. This could be a big problem, especially in winter.

What about using the other pumping stations to drain the pipe? Wouldn't an empty line be easier to restart? I mean, we are talking about the first station here. although, I guess the line from station one to station two would present the same problem.

"What about using the other pumping stations to drain the pipe?"

That would involve pulling a suction on the upstream side of the pumps (until the oil cleared that station). If these pumps are designed for positive suction they may not be up to the task, and pulling a vacuum on a pipeline that has been operating under positive pressure for decades would be yet another test of its condition. I imagine the seals, et al, aren't designed for much negative pressure, though this is all pure speculation. I'm sure the plan is to heat the oil as much as possible, keep it flowing and the system warm until this thing can be fixed.

Interesting vid from 2008, featuring the Engineering Integrity Manager on spot at PS1:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtrzcNxawrs
  • Here's the Official "Situation Report"


    Division of Spill Prevention and Response
    Prevention and Emergency Response Program


    INCIDENT NAME: Pump Station 1 Booster Pump Piping Incident SITREP #: 1

    SPILL NUMBER: Pending LEDGER CODE: Pending

    TIME/DATE OF SPILL: 08:46 January 8, 2011

    TIME/DATE OF SITUATION REPORT: 6:30 PM January 8, 2011

    TIME/DATE OF THE NEXT REPORT: 3:00 PM January 9, 2011

    TYPE/AMOUNT OF PRODUCT SPILLED: Safety procedures have precluded an assessment of the volume of crude oil released so far, however, the volume of the spill will be determined through a metering procedure once it is safe to do so. The oil released into a concrete “sump” within the Booster Pump Building. The oil was released from a concrete encapsulated pipe outside the Booster Pump Building, and flowed into the building sump. Oil is believed to be still trapped within the space between the pipe and the concrete of the encapsulated line.

    LOCATION: Pump Station One, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company

    CAUSE OF SPILL: The cause of the release is under investigation.

    POTENTIAL RESPONSIBLE PARTY (PRP): Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (APSC)

    RESPONSE ACTION: APSC shut down the Trans Alaska Pipeline after the incident was discovered, which caused the North Slope (NS) oil producers to reduce production by shutting in wells. APSC stood up a full incident management team at the Fairbanks Emergency Operations Center (FEOC). State and Federal representatives were notified of the release and have joined the response. Engineers and technical specialists are expected to arrive at PS1 around 6:00 PM today to design a temporary pipe plan. Hydrocarbon vapors above safety and health levels were controlled by ventilating the building and conditions are now safe to begin oil removal. Neither the booster pumps nor other facility infrastructure suffered damage from the oil release. Vacuum trucks are on scene for oil removal. An ADEC responder on the North Slope will monitor the cleanup and gauge the volume of recovered oil and additional ADEC responders have been dispatched to both the FEOC and the spill site. Additional resources are en route to support the oil recovery and pipe repair efforts. The North Slope oil producers are to limit production to 5 percent of normal.

    SOURCE CONTROL: The lines supplying crude oil to the booster pumps are shut in to stop any further release of oil.

    RESOURCES AFFECTED: Alyeska Pump One Booster Pump building and gravel pad.

    FUTURE PLANS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: The source of the release will be assessed and area of contamination delineated. Removal of oil from the building is on-going. APSC will complete an engineering review of as-built drawings, prepare a temporary pipe repair plan, and expedite the installation of parts to repair the line.

    WEATHER: East wind at approximately 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, ambient temperature -10° F.

    Further details at http://www.alyeska-pipe.com/Inthenews/LatestNews/2011/PS1incident/PressR...

    The leak source appears to be from a below-ground piping that leads to the basement of the booster pump building. The piping is encased in concrete.

    Pump Station No 1 (click images for hi-res versions)

    Pump Station 1 Stats

    TAPS pipeline reliability
    December 	100% 
    2010 Reliability Rate 	98.57% 
    There were no prorations during December that impacted reliability.
    Barrels pumped from Pump Station 1
    December 	19,910,081 BBLS
    Average         642,261 BPD
    Year to date 	226,174,050 BBLS 
    YTD average     619,655 BPD

    Thanks for the new insight. I was looking at pictures of the compound also. I looks like plenty of pipeline workers must be stationed there, year round. This pipe will most likely be fixed soon, but at -10 F, you couldn't get me out there for more than an hour at a time. When does spring come to this neighborhood?

    There's a weather station at the complex. Here's last year.

    Looks to be unseasonably warm right now. Forecast at http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=99734

    Current conditions

    Weather Underground PWS KAKDEADH2

    Also pipeline on Google Earth at http://www.glotter.com/entry-1430-earth

    As to how quickly they can fix it? I'm guessing that the fact that the leak appears to be in an underground section encased in concrete will complicate matters...

    And the response plan ends with.

    Build a repair plan
    Address cold restart
    Restore service

    Just what "Address cold restart" might involve I guess we will soon find out.

    Edit: According to Wikipedia the sun won't rise again until January 18th so there's no help from natural light for outdoor work either.

    According to Wunderground the current temperature at Deadhorse Alasaka (-1C/30F) is a new record daily max for 9th January. Previous record -3C set in 1993. Temps at the pumping station have risen since -42C /-44F minimum was recorded on December 28th. That's a range of about 40C /72F over 12 days at Pump Station 1.


    Edit: It's actually warmer at Deadhorse then it is outside my front door in Scotland.

    The forcast doesn't look too warm after Monday.


    If you go to the search window and type in pasc you get Deadhorse weather.

    The Financial Times says total oil in storage may be a lot less than capacity of the storage tanks:

    The Marine Terminal at Valdez has 18 storage tanks, with total capacity of more than 9m barrels. But only 14 of those tanks are in operation. On Sunday morning, Alyeska said they still held 35 per cent of their inventory, or about 2.5m barrels of oil. There is no significant storage on site to make up for a prolonged outage.


    Or in other words, that would only be about 4 days or so of supply.

    In addition, the EIA says there is 5 million barrels in transit. Assuming that is being used at about 600,000 bpd, that's about 8 days or so of supply.

    In total then, there is about 12 days of supply available before West Coast refineries would have to shut down. Note we have used up one of those already. Due to additional lags in delivery times from alternative oil sources further away, West Coast refiners may be forced to buy more oil rather soon so that their tanks don't fall to empty while the pipeline is being repaired.

    In addition, the EIA says there is 5 million barrels in transit. Assuming that is being used at about 600,000 bpd, that's about 8 days or so of supply.

    I didn't think they planned on trying to drain the pipe. That would seem to risk even more problems. See this post by Ghung http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7355#comment-757738

    But I'm certainly no expert so perhaps they do. Do you have any further info which suggests they plan to extract 5 million barrels? Perhaps draining the pipe would make sense if the shutdown was expected to be a lengthy one though. Maybe Ghung can comment?

    Sorry, I meant that 5 million barrels are currently in transit by tanker from Alaska to other destinations in the US.

    I had assumed that the pipeline would be essentially shut down along its length, but maybe someone can clarify.

    Ah I see. My mistake in thinking you meant the pipeline.

    So that's about 750k bpd of North American production gone offline in the last few days including the Canadian Oil Sands facility.

    Oil Rises After Alaskan Pipeline Shutdown Halts 95% of North Slope Output

    Oil climbed for the first time in three days in New York after a pipeline in Alaska that carries about 15 percent of U.S. crude output was shut after a leak.

    Futures gained as much as 2.2 percent after the Trans- Alaska Pipeline System, an 800-mile network crossing the northernmost U.S. state, was closed Jan. 8. The shutdown forced companies including BP Plc to suspend 95 percent of production from the North Slope area.

    The February contract increased $1.77, or 2 percent, to $89.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:17 a.m. Sydney time. It declined 35 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $88.03 on Jan. 7. Prices are 8.8 percent higher the past year.

    The Yahoo chart on TOD hasn't woken up yet.

    The West Coast regularly gets most of its oil from Alaska, although from time to time there are reports of oil coming from other locations - and even occasionally across the Pacific. Since China was able to get a shipment of Mexican oil about a month ago, Mexico could potentially divert exports from the Gulf Coast US to the West Coast. However I think the quality of Mexican oil is significantly different from Alaskan oil to cause some problems for Western refiners, although that's a bit of a guess on my part. Does anyone know if the West can handle Mexican oil in its refineries?

    In 2009 the US West Coast (PADD 5) had average imports of 1,243,000 barrels of oil per day. By contrast, Alaska produced only 645,000 bpd.

    The top import countries into PADD 5 were:
    Saudi Arabia (218,000 bpd)
    Canada (183,000 bpd)
    Iraq (146,000 bpd)
    Ecuador (137,000 bpd)

    Mexico only accounted for 27,000 bpd (and falling). Mexico's days as an oil exporter are coming to an end with the collapse of its supergiant Cantarell oil field.

    WTI just jumped about a dollar when trading opened a few minutes ago. Now at $89.40

    Founder Of Brook Hunt Sees Copper Peaking In Near-Term, Plunging To "Forgotten Levels" Of $1,500 By 2016

    ...And his long-term vision is about as scary as they get:

    "Peak prices for 2011 will be experienced in the first quarter of the year, if they have not already been seen. Prices will then fall until around the start of the fourth quarter, hitting a low of some $5500. Recovery will follow rising parabolically in 2012 to some $14,000 by the end of next year. This will signal the end of the gaming of copper prices.

    A return to global recession, deflation and the destruction of large end uses of copper will see prices crashing to levels long since forgotten - to under $1500 by 2016. It will be at that point that the real restructuring of the industry will take place.

    Future trend growth rates for world refined copper consumption will be below 2% a year implying that marginal producers will be closed down. It is not a shortage of supply that will shape the future of copper but a shortage of required material for furnaces."

    Full note attached...

    A little perspective:

    It is true that Dr. Copper has been on a tear the past year. In the last twelve months copper has seen lows barely under $6000/ton and is currently trading at over $8500/ton. These are historically high prices.

    To put these prices in a longer term perspective, here is the US Minerals databrowser production vs. price chart for global copper since 1950. (The data in this chart only go through 2008.)

    Compared to the previous sixty years displayed in the chart we can see that current prices are definitely in "bubble" territory. Exactly what share of this rise is due to speculation as opposed to resource constraints is not entirely clear. Certainly there is a little, perhaps a lot of both. And a large correction is probably in the cards.

    But when the article calls prices of $1500/ton "levels long since forgotton" it is pure hyperbole. Those who think 2003 is "long since forgotton" merely demonstrate their own historical illiteracy.

    Best Hopes for stopping, thinking and reviewing the historical data.


    Thanks jon. I wonder if he meant by "long since forgotten" that most people think they will never see that price again ????

    I posted it out of curiosity - I have no idea what to expect for copper prices.

    I also posted for MikeB - to give hime a prediction to rip to shreds (just a joke).

    A long, but very good analysis of the realities of the job market for recent law school graduates:

    NYT: Is Law School a Losing Game?

    IF there is ever a class in how to remain calm while trapped beneath $250,000 in loans, Michael Wallerstein ought to teach it. Here he is, sitting one afternoon at a restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a tall, sandy-haired, 27-year-old radiating a kind of surfer-dude serenity. His secret, if that’s the right word, is to pretty much ignore all the calls and letters that he receives every day from the dozen or so creditors now hounding him for cash. . . .

    Compared with the life he left four years ago, he has lost ground. That research position in Newark, he figures, would pay him $60,000 a year now, with benefits. Instead, he’s vying with a crowd for jobs that pay at rates just a little higher, but that last only a few weeks at a time, with no benefits. And he’s a quarter-million dollars in the hole.

    Three things struck me about this article. One, law school is a scam. It's an elaborate method of extracting money from poor people to line the pockets of rich ones. Two, those young students would go to law school anyway, even if they knew this. I don't know that it's a problem of the millennial generation, as the article suggests; I suspect young people in general are prone to exceptionalism. "I know the odds are bad, but it will be different for me." Three, the hard reality that law school is probably suited only to the wealthy. I wonder if one day we'll come to see college in that light as well.

    "Three, the hard reality that law school is probably suited only to the wealthy. I wonder if one day we'll come to see college in that light as well."

    Historically, that would be reversion to the mean.

    The exceptions in the US were the Land Grant Universities which were set up specifically for the "commoners" and the GI Bill, which is how I levered up (farm, Navy, college at a land grant university.)

    By the way, graduates of elite schools still sneer at the land grant universities, but graduates of those schools still seem to do fine in the job market. The reasons for both seem to be due to the land grant schools being short of degree programs on Theory of Poetry and Women's Studies, and long on engineering, agriculture, teaching, biology, chemistry, and basic business.

    PV guy's going completely and utterly idiotic again.

    My wife and my sister both graduated from a land grant university in Women's Studies and are doing quite well, thank you.

    And I am about to teach what you might categorize sneeringly as "Theory of Poetry" at the same land grant institution.

    Presumably your sneering attitude means that you think gender and language are totally trivial and irrelevant to human existence.

    Good luck with that.

    I discount everything PVguy says.

    When I was in grad school, I had an assistantship the whole way, and that was also the case among most of my classmates and most other grad students at other schools in my field (physics). The assistantship covered my tuition plus had a monthly stipend which was enough to cover rent and food. The apartment was a dump, and we weren't exactly eating steak, but we weren't piling on debt.

    This notion of taking on this much debt for an advanced degree leaves me gobsmacked. I remember conversation with classmates about how professors take on as many grad students as they can find funding for and that doesn't guarantee that there will be jobs for them when they get their degrees. In reality, the supply of students getting out of school is not guaranteed in any way to match the demand in terms of jobs - some areas like astrophysics would overproduce students like crazy. There were enough people with a passion for the subject that they had a good supply of cheap labor, but at the end they were competing for a handful of academic jobs. The supply/demand dynamic only starts to work when the schools start to have trouble finding students to fill the slots..

    Law school is different. There are very few scholarships and such given for law students, unlike other fields. Basically, law students are expected to pay it out of pocket or borrow the money.

    There are some lawyers in my family. The way they got around this was to work for several years before going to law school. That way, they could pay some of the costs out of pocket, and borrow the rest (without racking up too much debt). They also went to less expensive schools, even though they were warned that unlike in other fields, going to a good school was really important. They've done all right, but that was before the recent crash.

    Graduating without a lot of debt was key, because it enabled them to take lower-paying jobs (which are more plentiful). And that was the type of job they preferred, anyway. They wanted to help little old ladies being ripped off by their landlords, or sue big corporations polluting public lands.

    I have a lawyer friend who had a job she loved, working in the environmental protection department for a county government. She enjoyed it, and it was something she believed in. But she eventually had to quit and go to work for a big law firm in NYC...because she couldn't afford to pay off her student loans on a public worker's salary.

    That's too bad. My sister did the Public Interest program at Georgetown Law and has had the great bulk of her debt waived since she works for a non-profit. She works in a legal field that provides access to the system for those who could not otherwise gain it. She makes very little money, but has no debt, and appears very happy.

    I wonder if there is a way to retroactively create select opportunities for those with the interests and talents who might otherwise do jobs they hate or be unable to pay back what seems like insurmountable loan commitments.

    It appears that law school graduates, at least in the US, have terrific incentives to engage in cut-throat competitive behaviour, possibly turning a blind eye to ethical considerations in the process, if they are to ever get out from under crushing debt loads. I can't believe that this is a good situation.

    The law schools themselves aren't a good example of ethical behaviour when they publish misleading statistics about graduate employment rates.

    Good article.

    I survived near-law school experiences in 2003 and 2004 (accepted in 2003, deferred for a year to make sure I really wanted to go, and said no in 2004). I'm pretty happy that I said no, although sometimes I wonder. I would have gone to a 2nd tier, in-state school with a scholarship, but tuition still would have been around $9K a year.

    I think we tend to forget as we get older, that feeling of invincibility that you have in your early to mid 20's. The world is your oyster, of course it will work out. I'm smart and hard working, so I'll end up in the top 15% of the class, make law review, land an associates job at BigLaw, make partner in 8 years, and retire at age 52 with piles of money. How else could it happen.

    Very good article. I'd like the NYT to run a similar expose on grad school in the hard sciences. I did my Ph.D in a lab that had a bad reputation on pumping out many more graduates than there were jobs, which the lab head really profited from all the grant money from high throughput. I was the exception in landing the plush research job, but only because: (1) I had other degrees in an unrelated field and was willing to do the hard work of merging the two disciplines in practice and (2) I was willing to move to a despised geographical area "poor you, you got the job in the flyover zone!" My fellow grad students were pretty naive and idealistic, and the supervisor really exploited it. I keep telling my students "Trust no one over 30!" They struggle to parse that (I'm over 30) and go off all huffy and spluttering...

    It is not just law school and the hard sciences that are pumping out way too many graduates: Schools of education, departments in the social sciences, the humanities, and business administration are all pumping out way too many bachelor degrees and advanced degrees. For a long time, a college education was almost a ticket to a good job. That is no longer true. The worst jobs are generally taken by people with a high school diploma (or less), but there are nowhere nearly enough good jobs in a stagnant economy for the flood of college students that graduates each year.

    Because states are making severe budget cuts, I think public colleges and universities will increasingly be defunded and eventually will have to decrease their enrollments. Indeed, we have far more colleges and universities than we need; many are likely to close over the next ten years. Higher education is an industry that will contract drastically due to the increasing financial stringency caused by low (soon to be negative) economic growth that results from high-priced oil.

    Higher education is heading for an epic collapse. With a pool of already educated workers sitting idle plus the existing working people who are not going to leave a job until forced to, there is just no need for the number of schools that exist.

    Stoneleigh got a lot of flack when she asserted that as credit dries up it's not impossible to see housing prices collapse by 90%. That's not the only thing that will collapse by 90%: higher education enrollments will be down by that much by 2020, too.

    If I were a college/university professor, I would be re-skilling at double speed.

    I could not agree more and I have been re-skilling actively for a number of years for this reason.

    I've got a faculty meeting in an hour... I like to hear some of our grand, long-term plans for our school... in the words of Orlov, I just look at them in wonder when I realize they are serious.

    The objective of education is to learn how to make more money for someone who already has money. Secondarily, it is to obtain a "brand" and "contact" that will gain access to those potential employers. Getting into a recognized school, doing very well in a useful major, pursuing internships and other business relationships all give the student an advantage in competing for what jobs there are.

    That said, there are a growing number of ways to obtain credentials and to develop relationships outside of the traditional college or university education. The only reason that these alternatives don't develop faster is that the existing higher education system is vigorously defending its credentialing perogatives.

    The objective of education is ...

    When it comes to law school, the objective is to teach people to utter "magic words" ... as if the utterance of incantations wrought from ancient Latin or from post-modernistic Constitutional objectivism will somehow make the physical problems (Peak Oil, Peak Civilization, etc.) which we as a collective society face, go away.

    The truly sad part is that brilliant legal scholarship goes hand in hand with ever more deluded and self-serving thinking.

    Our Presidents, our congress persons, our chief supreme court judges, etc. are all products of the highest levels of legal education.

    recent presidents and their law schools

    congress and the revolving door to/from law school

    You used a version of the old line from the 1960's

    Trust no one over 30!

    I would like to point out that there is an opposite situation regarding our energy situation. Anyone who hadn't hit age 12 by 1980 would not have appreciated the oil shocks in 1974 and 1980, since they weren't drivers or otherwise users of oil. So, regarding Peak Oil, I think it's equally reasonable to state:

    "Don't trust anyone younger than 42!"

    Of course, there will be exceptions...

    E. Swanson

    This sort of idiotic reporting gets right up my nose.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ (left hand column in the Finance section)

    "Who's got all the oil? With oil nearing $100, here are the countries holding the most reserves."

    No mention whatsoever about production rates. Nothing. Nada. Just some emotive pictures of Arab gentlemen as if to promote the idea that the reason oil is so expensive is because these greedy people are hoarding it.

    Makes me want to punch something / someone. Especially after listening to Chris Martenson's recent podcast with a chap from Delaware Uni about what can be done.

    Is there no hope?

    EDIT: the top link will move on in a while, here is the fixed url http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/8248168...

    I see the gentlemen from the United Arab Emirates appear to be wearing special glasses supplied by BP (see the BP logo in the background). Perhaps they are required to see all the oil. Wonder if I can get a pair?

    United Arab Emirates
    The UAE ranks in sixth place, and holds a 7.3pc share of global oil reserves.

    Maybe we could have a caption competition :-)

    "OMG! Wearing these truth glasses, I can now see that our reserves have been horribly overstated!"

    It's been a while since I've seen a photo, but isn't that Nate Hagens showing off his teeth.

    The future's so bright we gotta wear shades.


    Energy assessments cost little, can save homeonwers a lot

    As the owners of a drafty late 1800s Victorian, Rudy and Peggy Marconi paid $5,407 for heating oil and electricity last year. If it’s a similar winter, they expect those bills to be down about 7% for the coming year.


    “They recommended that I increase the R value in my attic” with more insulation, Mr. Marconi said. “Do more insulation in the walls, which would have to be blown in. They recommended a new washer and dryer, which made Peggy happy.”

    These efficiency improvements would cut the Marconis’ annual energy bill more.

    “If I did all of that, I would reduce it further by another approximately $200,” he said.

    See: http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/theridgefieldpress/news/localnews/8...

    I'm not sure what to make of this. If one were to undertake all of this effort, at presumably some expense, and the best you can achieve is a measly eleven per cent reduction in utility costs then, frankly, why bother? It's a 120 year old Victorian! Surely we can do better than that.


    At some point, it's better just to burn it down and start over. Some things are not fixable.

    The other problem this points out is that it is very rarely cost effective to do a tear down and rebuild on the same spot when compared to the "green field" cost of putting the replacement somewhere else. And anyone who has watched "This Old House" has marveled at them spending twice as much on fixing up some centuries old rubble pile to it would have cost to doze it flat and start over.

    In some cases it might make more sense to dismantle the existing structure and re-use the original materials where possible, especially if the dwelling is ill-suited to the needs of the homeowner. Nonetheless, many homeowners could cut their energy needs by 30, 40 or even 50 per cent without resorting to such extremes. We trimmed our fuel oil and electrical consumption by 98 and 30 per cent respectively, so much more can be done if you're willing to go the extra mile.


    Buildings like this can be made much more efficient. I live in an apartment building (three story, four family) that was built in 1894. The interior was largely gutted and rebuilt using the same doors and trim, but upgraded windows. The cost to heat my apartment (about 700 square feet) is less than $350 per year with nat. gas, which also is used for stove and water heater. Electric bill is only about $250 per year and I have air conditioning. I live in St. Louis which is fairly cold in the winter (yesterday's high was 21 deg. F (-5 deg C) and quite hot in the summer (had about 15 days of 100+ deg F temps last summer).

    If they could switch to gas and properly insulate this home, heating bills for climate like St. Louis should be no more than $1400 for the year if house has about 2800 square feet, IMO.

    I believe the potential savings are grossly underestimated. For argument sake, let's assume the home is located in an area of 6,000 heating degree days (F) and that the oil-fired boiler is 80 per cent efficient.

    If the loft is currently insulated to R20, the annual heat loss represents about 75 gallons of fuel oil demand. Add a layer of R40 fibreglass insulation perpendicular to the ceiling joists and you could theoretically shave off 50 gallons.

    Fifteen hundred square feet of 2x4 uninsulated wall, say, might represent some 425 gallons worth of fuel oil demand, and if you insulate with blown-in cellulose you might eliminate a further 275 gallons.

    Taken together, these 325 gallons represent a 30 per cent reduction in fuel oil requirements, or roughly a $1,000.00 savings at current prices. These are rough, back of the envelope calculations, but they suggest the savings potential is well in excess of $200.00 a year.


    Windows. Are they standard glazing or double/triple/low-E? There's an awful lot of them.


    I can't be certain, but they appear to be single pane with aluminum storms (~ 0.55 U); a low-e/argon replacement with wood sash would get that down to perhaps 0.33 U.

    I'm guessing there's something in the range of 350 sq. ft. of glass which translates to be roughly 270 gallons of fuel oil demand, and with window replacement, that would fall to 165 gallons, say; at $3.00 a gallon, that's a $315.00 annual saving in heating costs.

    Outright replacement is not likely to be cost effective if these units are in good repair, which they appear to be. 3M window kits or interior storms would be a more economical alternative and offer similar savings and, all things being equal, that's the route I'd go.


    Just spotted this on the front page of the International Energy Agency Website

    High oil prices pose threat to global economic recovery

    “This is a wake-up call to the oil consuming countries and to the oil producers” – IEA’s Chief Economist, Fatih Birol

    The stability of the global economy is under threat due to oil prices entering a “dangerous zone,” according to the IEA’s Chief Economist, Fatih Birol.

    Dr Birol’s warning follows new analysis from the IEA which found that oil import costs for member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have shot up by $200 billion to $790 billion at the end of 2010.

    The IEA analysis finds that this increase, triggered by high oil prices, is equal to a loss of income of 0.5 per cent of the OECD countries combined gross domestic product.


    Exploring oil alternatives

    This trend for higher prices, Dr Birol argues, stresses the need for oil consuming countries to boost efforts to cut back on the amount they use, especially for transportation.

    Follow up BBC Interview

    Alex Ritson: And yet when normally when prices go high, oil producing countries deliberately switch on the taps, they make as much oil as they can while prices are high. Normally these things are self-correcting, then the price comes down.

    Fatih Birol: I hope that we will see a development as you just described, but some of the indications tell us that some oil producing countries may not be as generous as they have been in the past.

    they make as much oil as they can

    Well dang, if they can make the stuff, what're we all frettin' 'bout?

    This sort of wording is even worse than the accepted 'produce', which is still misleading. The stuff is extracted, in a one-time, finite, non-renewable, irreplaceable, zero-sum, frenzied bonanza. Never to be repeated. Nobody can produce or make this ancient sunlight that we gorge ourselves on.

    Sorry, end rant.

    I think that the chart of Saudi net exports versus annual oil prices from 2002 to 2008 is like a Rorschach ink blot test. People see what they want to see. Annual Saudi net oil exports versus six straight years of year over year increases in annual oil prices:

    The cumulative shortfall, through 2010, between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd and what they actually net exported in the 2006 to 2010 time frame is in excess of two billion barrels of oil.


    OPEC may hike oil output if price hit $110 - source

    (Reuters) - Speculation could push oil prices to rise to $110 per barrel within a few weeks, which may prompt OPEC to raise production, a member of Kuwait's Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) said on Sunday.

    OPEC's economists probably tweaked the numbers, concluding that $110 a barrel is the maximum developed economies can handle before imploding again.

    Hold on to that rope a little longer, and when it seems like you will fall at any moment, I'll help support some of your weight so you don't fall (all at once).

    It may be a response to Fatih Birol. Difficult for OPEC to trot out the line that nobody is asking for them to increase production and that the world is perfectly happy with expensive oil when the IEA splashes a dire warning about price and a request for them to increase production on its main web page.

    But can they (and by how much) and will they or was this latest statement just blowing smoke?

    And they'll mean WTI oil price. The way things are going by the time WTI reaches $110, Brent will be at $250 and Tapis at $300 ;-)

    But can they (and by how much) and will they or was this latest statement just blowing smoke?

    That will be the tale of the tape. Can they, and if so how much? As wt has pointed out 05-08 track record seems to indicate unlikely.

    They appear to have some skill at this, having been quite successful for the past 35 years. The question is whether OPEC has any spare capacity to keep prices from rising above $110.

    Tiny particles used by oil drillers in big demand

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — State geologists are hopeful North Dakota's sands and clays will work as a substitute for increasingly sparse imported materials used to boost the recovery of crude.

    A worldwide supply crunch of so-called proppants — ultra-hard sand grains and tiny manmade ceramic balls — has some drillers using lesser-grade particles that have cut the yield of oil wells in the Bakken and Three Forks formations in western North Dakota.

    "The reality is people are sold out of everything," said Mike Vincent, a Golden, Colo.-based engineer. "People are taking whatever they can — an extremely low quality material is being pumped into the Bakken.

    ...There are only a handful of proppant manufacturers in the North America; much of what is used in the U.S. is being imported from factories in Russia, China and Brazil, industry officials say.

    I would like to draw attention to the article on Ozone depleting substances quoted above by Leanan. There is no doubt that international action on this issue has had very effective results in curbing the damage to the ozone layer. But most of the international agencies charged with the task of controlling these emissions do not mention the fact that many of these same substances are also strong global warming agents. Most chloro-fluorocarbons (CFC's) Chloro-hydro-fluorocarbons (CHFC's)are now banned, but hydro-fluorocarbons (HFC's) and per-fluoro carbons are taking their place. Many of these substances have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere (HFC's from a few years to more than 100 years, with global warming potentials (GWP's) ranging from 500 to about 9000 over a tweny year time horizon). The per-fluorocarbons with lifetimes averaging several thousands of years and GWP's averaging about 5000 with (for example per-fluoroethane, lifetime 10,000 y. GWP19100 over a 500 y. time horizon) also sulfur hexafluoride having a lifetime of about 10,000 years and a GWP of around 50,000. Some of these substances are used for frivolous purposes (e.g. de-dusting surfaces), others e.g. R134a, is used in automotive air-conditioning systems, has a GWP of around 3100 over a twenty year time horizon and a lifetime in the atmosphere of about 14 years. Another product, Forane 210A, used in heat-pump systems, is a mixture of two refrigerants (one has a lifetime of about 5.6 years; the second about 36 years) which I calculate has a GWP of about 1700 over the 20 year time horizon. (The manufacturer quotes a GWP of 0.33 (relative to R11 which has a GWP of about 5000!).
    The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) quotes GWP's for three time horizons (20 years, 100 years, and 500 years) and states that the selection of the time horizon is a political choice- depending on whether one is concerned about short term effects (such as melting of permafrost) or long term effects (such as rising sea levels), but it also states that substances having short lifetimes in air will have the greatest effect in the shorter term (longer time horizons will average the effect over a longer period of time and give lower GWP values). Frequently the 100 year time horizon is quoted by institutions because (I believe) the GWP has a smaller value. An example of this is the frequently quoted value for Methane GWP = 20 over the 100 year time horizon. But the lifetime of methane in the atmosphere is about 13 years so most of the global warming associated with a release (about 80%) is completed in the first 20 years, for which the GWP is about 60. Hence we should have real concerns about the potential for melting permafrost.
    Data quoted above is taken from IPCC 92; 94; and 95.

    Global interdependencies... Food for thought.

    Saudi Arabia needs more facilities to store food as prices rise

    Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest barley importer, plans to increase imports as it phases out water-intensive food crops by 2016, in response to a Royal Decree in 2008. Food ranked as the biggest import in November at the kingdom’s eight ports, according to data on the website of the Saudi Ports Authority.

    Inflation in Saudi Arabia accelerated to 6.1 percent in August, the highest level since February 2009, due to higher global food prices, central bank Governor Muhammad Al Jasser said in October. External commodity prices will help prop up inflation at an average of 5.3 percent in 2011, Jadwa Investment Co said on December 26.

    "Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest barley importer"

    Why do the Saudi's import so much barley? It's not a particularly good food source, low in protein, and they don't make beer or whisky, so why barley?

    Mayebe they pump it into the ground to make a kind of beery-oil organo-bru-mulsion. Then their 80% 'water' cut is piped from the GOWS plant and sold off to the Austrailians who can it up and sell it as 'Castlemaine XXXX'.


    It is what they primarily use to feed animals. In contrast, the USA uses mostly corn.