Drumbeat: January 10, 2011

Afghans Strained by Shortages as Iran Tightens Flow of Fuel

KABUL, Afghanistan — The price of fuel has risen sharply in parts of Afghanistan as an Iranian-imposed slowdown on tanker traffic at key border crossings has stretched into its second month, Afghan officials say.

The slowdown has increased the price of refined fuel by more than 50 percent in some provinces, forced gas stations on major highways to close and driven up the costs of other basic commodities, including food and heating oil, just as winter is setting in. The bottleneck is also hurting farmers in the south who depend on diesel pumps for irrigation.

The issue threatens to strain relations between Afghanistan and Iran, and adds yet another obstacle to President Hamid Karzai and NATO forces as they try to rebuild the economy and provide government services in the face of a resurgent Taliban.

Watchdog warns of 'North Sea disaster'

An investigation by industry watchdog Platform has warned an oil spill similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year was possible in British waters, unless current policies were changed.

Norway's 2011 oil output seen falling again

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's oil output is seen falling in 2011 and throughout the coming decade if no new big finds are made soon -- an unlikely prospect given recent discoveries and political reluctance to open up environmentally-sensitive areas.

Canadian Natural May Run Upgrader at Lower Rate With Return of Some Units

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said it may be able to return two of four coke drums to service at its oil-sands upgrader in northern Alberta after the equipment was struck by a fire and explosion Jan. 6.

Petrobras Debt Losing to Pemex on `Uncomfortable' Galp Bid: Brazil Credit

Investor perceptions of Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s credit are worsening relative to Petroleos Mexicanos as the Brazilian oil producer’s pursuit of a stake in Galp Energia SGPS SA may add to the biggest debt level in the energy industry.

Rulers to send the nation back to Stone Age, says Salim Saifullah

ISLAMABAD, (SANA): President Pakistan Muslim League-Q (Like Minded Group) Senator Salim Saifullah Khan has said that the incumbent rulers will send the nation back to Stone Age, gas and electricity load-shedding have neither disturbed the life of common man but also brought industries on the edge of disaster.

Fuel crisis hits railways’ freight service

LAHORE: Of the several freight trains that were supposed to leave Karachi for upcountry destinations on Sunday, only one did so amid a fuel crisis.

The problem began on Saturday when a cheque for Rs700 million issued by Pakistan Railways to Pakistan State Oil was not honoured. The PSO subsequently stopped the supply of fuel to Railways.

Freight Rates Tumbling as 35 Miles of Ships Passes Ore Demand

At a time when analysts anticipate record profits for the biggest mining companies and a third year of gains in commodity prices, shipping lines carrying raw materials are set for the lowest freight rates since 2002.

Leasing costs for capesizes, 1,000-foot-long ships hauling iron ore and coal, will drop 34 percent to average $22,000 a day this year, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of eight fund managers and analysts. The last time that happened, China’s economy, the biggest consumer of the minerals used in steel and power, was 75 percent smaller and the benchmark Standard & Poor’s GSCI commodity index 67 percent lower.

Duke Energy buying Progress energy for $13 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Duke Energy is buying Progress Energy for more than $13 billion in stock, in a deal that would create one of the nation's largest utilities.

The transaction, announced Monday by the two North Carolina companies, would create a business with about 7.1 million electric customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

It would also have a sizable nuclear energy business.

Kurt Cobb: The extremely leisurely pace of American democracy and the urgency of our predicament

Winston Churchill once remarked that "[t]he United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative." The assumption behind that remark is that there will be time to do the right thing after all alternatives have been exhausted. This assumption is especially troubling when it comes to addressing such issues as peak oil and climate change.

Review: Prelude by Kurt Cobb

Cobb felt that Prelude would be more effective if set in a familiar present or recent past, rather than some bizarre dystopian future with burned-out office parks for battlegrounds. Thus, the novel’s setting of summer 2008 is the very summer ‘08 that we all lived through, with only minor changes. (The made-up country of Ammar and its national oil company Royal Sovoco are stand-ins for Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco, respectively; but oil still hits that historic $147 per barrel that has stuck in the public memory.) In short, Prelude is the most down-to-earth novel written about peak oil to date, and that is its chief virtue.

Commentary: The Tierney-Simmons bet

Five years ago, John Tierney, a columnist with The New York Times, and Matt Simmons, peak oil guru and founder of energy investment bank Simmons & Co., made a bet. Simmons argued that oil prices would be much higher in 2010. Tierney, a believer in human ingenuity and a follower of economist Julian Simon, took the other position. Simon, a so-called Cornucopian, argued that there would always be abundant supplies of energy and other natural resources and that the real price of commodities like oil would remain stable or decline over time.

The 80% solution

At the beginning of the 1980s, there was a sharp worldwide downturn, and Western Europe was hard hit. The Netherlands took an especially pro-active stance, opting for stable real wages and declining hours of work in order to get people back to work. New government employees were hired at 80% of a full-time schedule. Many got a four-day workweek, which was well-suited to a small country where quite a few young people commuted by train to their places of employment. The 80% schedule caught on, and by the time I arrived in the Netherlands in 1995 as a Professor at Tilburg University, the nation was heavily invested in 80% schedules. Public sector workers were joined by academics. It was possible to be not only an 80% time faculty member, but also a 60%, 40%, or even a 20%, i.e., a one day a week professor. And in what is likely to be most surprising to American readers, the whole banking industry had gone to 80% schedules and a four-day workweek. People weren’t filling up their garages with consumer goods, but they did have loads of time. By 2000, the country passed the Working Hours Adjustment Act that gave every employee the right to reduce their hours, without losing their job, hourly pay rate, health insurance or benefits. (Benefits are pro-rated).

Alaska oil pipeline disruption enters third day, boosts prices

The shutdown is the latest setback for the 33-year old duct, which is becoming more expensive to maintain as it ages. It currently handles less than a third of the oil it did at its peak in the 1980s.

Closures of the pipeline, although short, has provoked criticism of its operators, particularly major owner BP, whose reputation was diminished after the Gulf of Mexico blow-out last year caused the largest-ever U.S. oil spill and attracted renewed government scrutiny of the oil production industry.

"Particularly for BP, it is really important to fix this quite soon," said Hannes Loacker, oil analyst at Raiffaisen Bank International.

Alaskan Pipeline Shutdown Cuts Oil Output, Pushes Crude Higher

BP Plc and its partners in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System that carries 15 percent of U.S. crude output can’t say when production will return to normal after a leak two days ago.

The shutdown forced BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. to suspend 95 percent of production from the North Slope area. The pipeline was still closed as of 2:21 p.m. local time yesterday with no estimate of when it will return to service, said Michelle Egan, a spokeswoman for operating partnership Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

Oil Rises in New York After Alaskan Crude Pipeline Leak Cuts U.S. Supplies

Oil climbed for the first time in three days after an Alaskan pipeline carrying about 15 percent of U.S. crude output was shut following a leak.

Futures gained as much as 2.2 percent after the Trans- Alaska Pipeline System was closed Jan. 8, forcing companies including BP Plc to suspend 95 percent of production from the North Slope area. China’s oil imports rose 18 percent in 2010, customs data showed today. Crude will breach $100 a barrel this year as spare production capacity shrinks, Morgan Stanley said.

Cost of gas up about 9 cents in the last 3 weeks

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The twice-monthly Lundberg Survey has found the price of regular gasoline has risen about nine cents a gallon over three weeks to $3.08.

The price of mid-grade gasoline is now $3.22 a gallon and premium is $3.33 a gallon, analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday. The U.S. average for diesel was $3.36, up 7.18 cents.

Saudi Aramco to Supply Asia With Full Oil-Contractual Volumes for February

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest state-owned oil company, will supply full contractual volumes of crude to China and South Korea for loading in February, according to refinery officials in the region.

Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, will provide 100 percent of cargoes sold under long-term contracts for a 15th month, according to the officials from China and South Korea, who requested anonymity, citing confidentiality agreements with the Middle East producer.

OPEC to cut supplies in January by most since August 2010

According to tanker tracker Oil Movements, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will reduce supplies this month by the most since August 2010 as demand for winter fuels in the northern hemisphere passes its peak.

Oil Movements said that shipments will drop 1.3% to 23.6 million barrels a day in the four weeks to January 22nd 2011 from 23.91 million barrels in the period to December 25th 2010. It is the biggest decline since a 1.8% fall during the four weeks to August 28th 2010. The data exclude Ecuador and Angola.

BP, Repsol to Supply China's Terminal With LNG Spot Cargoes This Month

BP Plc and Repsol YPF SA may supply two spot cargoes of liquefied natural gas to China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, in January as cold weather and a growing economy spur demand, according to ship-tracking data.

Hedge Funds Almost Double Bullish Gas Bets on Cold Snap

Hedge funds almost doubled bets on gains in natural gas as futures climbed to the highest level since August on forecasts for colder-than-normal weather.

The funds and other large speculators raised their net-long positions, or wagers on rising prices, in four gas contracts by 94 percent in the seven days ended Jan. 4, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly Commitments of Traders report. It was the biggest increase in records dating to January 2010.

China's Net Oil Imports Rise After Refiners Boost Fuel Output on Shortage

China, the world’s biggest energy user, increased net imports of crude oil by 1.4 percent in December from a month earlier as refineries maintained high operating rates to ease a diesel shortage.

Govt hopes to resolve Iran oil payment row this week

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India hopes to resolve an oil payment row with Iran when officials travel to Tehran this week, Oil Secretary S. Sundareshan said on Monday, as New Delhi looks to balance its energy needs with its diplomatic interests.

Reliance Asked by India Regulator to Increase Oil, Gas Output, Times Says

Reliance Industries Ltd. was asked to increase natural gas and oil output at fields off India’s east coast, the Times of India reported, citing a letter from the oil regulator.

The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons said Reliance must raise production by March to levels approved in the field development plan, the newspaper said.

Shale Oil Drillers Chesapeake, EOG Strike Rising Costs in Flight From Gas

U.S. natural-gas companies are getting hit with the highest costs in four years as they shift more production to oil to escape low gas prices.

PG&E raised pipeline pressure to legal limit

The utility company responsible for the gas pipeline that exploded in a San Francisco suburb last year has acknowledged that it briefly raised the pressure on the pipeline to the legal limit two years before the fatal blast.

FACTBOX-PetroChina's global trading portfolio

(Reuters) - PetroChina, Asia's largest oil and gas producer, has been flexing its muscles across the world, expanding international trading network and buying refineries, with the latest deal to invest in two European refineries owned by British private firm INEOS.

South Sudan Votes in Referendum to Declare Oil-Rich Region's Independence

Southern Sudanese voters turned out for the second day of balloting in a referendum on independence that appeared set to establish the oil-rich region as the world’s newest nation.

Future of Sudan’s oil resources hangs on secession vote

Officials in south Sudan hope separation from the north, if voters opt for it, will attract oil-sector investment that has been prevented by sanctions against Khartoum.

Residents of south Sudan today start voting in a referendum that may result in a new African nation that will join the ranks of the world's largest oil exporters.

Accession to OPEC possible for south Sudan

If south Sudan emerges as Africa's newest country after the secession vote beginning today, it could allow for Sudanese oil to be counted in OPEC reserves.

The energy minister of south Sudan, where about 80 per cent of Sudan's oil resources are located, said a possible future independent government in Juba would consider membership in OPEC "in the near future".

Saudi social fragility exposed in quest to "modernize"

"The growing disconnect between the American-aspirational elite and a population that grows more conservative in response to the moral shocks like Israel’s massacre in Gaza and US military action in Afghanistan, is fraying the glue binding together Saudi Arabia for the past century. Having been forbidden by the US to publicly propagate Wahhabism, the monarchy is bereft of the stage on which it assumed a pious persona for the benefit of the populace. Saudi-funded jihad operated as a pressure valve in the desert kingdom, channeling local tensions towards the global oppressions in Kashmir, Chechnya, Palestine, and other locales."

Now is not the time to keep on trucking

Truckers are planning protests over the rise in excise duties and the price of oil. But rather than protecting this industry, we should be looking for ways of replacing carbon-based transport.

The Coming Year of Heavy Oil and Hard Truth

I have seen the future.

It skulks nervously and just tracked tar across your carpet.

It’s been touched by a bitumen that snakes down from northern Alberta, a gummy substance that presents the American polity with a stark near-term dilemma. Yes, Green may be the angel of our better nature, but the “golden arm” still screams out for another hit of ol’ petrol.

Hidden Pitfalls of Increasing U.S. Dependence on Canadian Oil Sands

Canada is the biggest supplier of oil imports to the United States. Increasingly, those imports come from its vast reserves of oil sands. Is the growing U.S. dependence on Canadian oil sands a win-win deal for both countries, crucial for U.S. energy security, and a source of jobs and economic growth, as American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard claims? Is the development of Canadian oil sands "the most destructive project on earth", as a Canadian environmental report calls it? What pitfalls for policy makers and investors lie hidden in the heated rhetoric coming from both sides in the oil sands debate?

Thomas Malthus: Wrong Yesterday, Right Today?

Over the past five years, the world’s population has risen by roughly 80 million people annually, reaching an estimated 6.8 billion in 2009. Barring a sudden reversal in demographic trends, more than 9 billion people will inhabit Earth by 2050. Needless to say, the constellation of challenges created by population growth have placed potentially irreversible strains on the interconnected systems and cycles that comprise the Earth’s climate. Water scarcity, diminishing agricultural yields and biodiversity loss are only a few of the consequences of these forces.

These challenges have contributed to a rebirth of the profoundly misguided philosophy espoused by Thomas Malthus, an English priest and economist who lived during the late 18th Century. In 1798, Malthus argued that human population always grows more rapidly than the human food supply until war, disease or famine reduces the number of people. He was wrong – and spectacularly so.

Population problem is the third rail

Some time this year our planet Earth will become home to 7 billion human souls. Realization of that fact has set this old cow man (that’s “cow” in the singular, and “old” means 30 years ago) to remembering such things as “total digestible units” and “carrying capacity” of the land — even if it was only two acres.

These two concepts need to be recognized by everyone because, when you stop to think about it, we are not too unlike cows on the range.

Hubbert's Hacks: The Peak and Decline of a "Doomer"

It had been an eventful week for me. I published an OpEdNews article the Monday before called "The End of the End: How the Peak Oil Movement Failed," in which I explained how I have come to alter my view of peak oil, from doomer to agnostic, and how I believe the public relations campaign has been an utter disaster. I satirized some of the most prominent "voices" in the movement, citing their involvements in such questionable activities as astrology, climate denial, and 9-11 conspiracy-mongering. I expected it to end there.

But the piece was picked up by The Oil Drum, a peak oil website rife with everyone from petroleum scientists to human billboards of doom, and the comments section became a lively and educational place for me for about a week, especially as the announcement of possibly yet another new record high in oil production had just been posted. At first, I was just pleased that my article was being discussed; most of the comments acknowledged that I at least had a point; but eventually I got to witness firsthand the ingrained dogmatism of "The Doom." It's a view I have entertained for some time.

It's time to let go of it.

Community-minded Tony Robalik works toward stability

Burning cheap oil has roundhouse-kicked the climate, Tony Robalik says.

Now, cheap oil supplies are shrinking, dramatically upping the chance for global turmoil and a Great Depression, Part II.

"What shall we do?" Robalik asks rhetorically.

The 28-year-old city resident is betting on Transition Lancaster, the community organizing group he and his wife started in 2009.

Ecuador offers not to exploit pristine reserve

How much would you pay for the most biologically rich patch of land on Earth -- some 1 000km2 of pristine Amazon, home to several barely contacted indigenous tribes, thousands of species of trees and nearly a billion barrels of crude oil?

Ecuador, home of the Galapagos Islands, the Andes mountain range and vast tracts of oil-rich rainforest, last year asked the world for $3,6-billion not to exploit the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil block in the Yasuni National Park.

Hillary Clinton to visit Abu Dhabi's Masdar City

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is expected to visit Masdar City as part of a GCC tour to encourage democratic and social reforms in the region.

'Fistful of Rice' argues for making a profit while helping poor

Is making a profit from the poor a form of exploitation? It's a frequently raised question in the world of microfinance, where financial services such as loans are provided to those who have not traditionally had access to banks.

Vikram Akula, the founder of India's SKS Microfinance, argues that not only is it ethical for microfinance institutions (MFIs) such as his to earn high profits, it's more ethical than practicing non-profit microfinance.

Volt wins annual car award at Detroit auto show

DETROIT (AP) -- The Chevrolet Volt has won the 2011 North American Car of the Year at the Detroit auto show.

Tesla Exceeds 1,500 Roadster Deliveries Worldwide

PALO ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Tesla Motors has delivered more than 1,500 Roadsters worldwide, a significant milestone as the automaker’s momentum builds in North America, Europe and Asia.

The fleet of Roadsters spans more than 30 countries. They have accumulated more than 8.5 million miles (14 million kms) in real-world driving, saving 415,000 gallons (1.6 million liters) of gasoline and more than 22,000 barrels of oil.

Pentagon Must ‘Buy American,’ Barring Chinese Solar Panels

HONG KONG — The military appropriations law signed by President Obama on Friday contains a little-noticed “Buy American” provision for the Defense Department purchases of solar panels — a provision that is likely to dismay Chinese officials as President Hu Jintao prepares to visit the United States next week.

High Food Prices Threaten Growth of Energy Crops in Britain

LONDON — Record high world food prices threaten to limit the use of land for low-carbon energy crops just as British efforts to pioneer growth of the giant grass miscanthus in Europe are poised to gather pace.

At Least Some Politicians Get It

As Congress dawdles and denies, some states are moving forward. Massachusetts recently announced a plan to curb emissions from homes, cars and factories by one-fourth below 1990 levels over 10 years — considerably more aggressive than President Obama’s commitment in Copenhagen to reduce emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels. The plan relies on existing technologies to produce more power from renewable sources like wind, tougher energy-efficiency standards for buildings and more investments in mass transit.

Climate change reveals disease as national security threat

WASHINGTON — One of the most worrisome national security threats of climate change is the spread of disease, among both people and animals, U.S. intelligence and health officials say.

But more than a decade after such concerns were first raised by U.S. intelligence agencies, significant gaps remain in the health surveillance and response network — not just in developing nations, but in the United States as well, according to those officials and a review of federal documents and reports.

Climate-induced mayhem likely to start in Bangladesh

RAJENDRAPUR, Bangladesh — Nowhere is the potential threat from climate change more worrisome than in Bangladesh, a country strategically sandwiched between rising superpowers China and India, and which also acts as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Canadian Climate Study Forecasts 'Global Warming for Centuries'

Carbon dioxide already emitted into the atmosphere will keep contributing to global warming for centuries, eventually causing a huge Antarctic ice sheet to collapse and lift sea levels, Canadian scientists said Sunday.

Even the complete abandonment of fossil fuels and halt to emissions cannot prevent devastating ocean warming in Antarctica as well as increasing desertification in North Africa, the research finds.

Even so, many of the negative consequences in the Northern Hemisphere, such as loss of Arctic sea ice, are reversible. That means global efforts to cut greenhouse gases are not a waste of effort and money, said Shawn Marshall, a University of Calgary geography professor and one of the study's authors.

Warming to devastate glaciers, icesheet: report

Global warming may wipe out three-quarters of Europe's alpine glaciers by 2100 and hike sea levels by four metres by 3000 through melting the West Antarctic icesheet, two studies published at the weekend said.

The research places the spotlight on two of the least understood aspects of climate change: how, when and where warming will affect glaciers on which many millions depend for their water and the problems faced by generations in the far distant future.

Link up top: Hubbert's Hacks: The Peak and Decline of the "Doomer"

We doomers are all hacks now, we have had our day in the sun, we have peaked and now we are in decline, a disappearing species. Pity. And what is the source of Mike’s rage? Well it is the video which Leanan headlined on DrumBeat January 5th. Peak Oil and Climate Change This video so upset him that he refers to some of the audience as idiots:

Mr. Kunstler is explaining to his idiot audience…

Now someone help me out here. Just who is Mike calling an “idiot audience,” all those who watched the video, which obviously included himself, or are the idiots the ones who only watched Kunstler’s part of that video? But this raging rant does not stop there the worst rage is reserved for Orlov.

The video also features Russian emigre and peak "expert" (they're all referred to as "experts" by The Nation, putting two comedians on a par with Noam Chomsky) Dmitry Orlov. I will simply type out a passage in all its jaw-dropping absurdity, and if you can't spot the logical pratfall, then Goddess help you.

The comedians of course are Kunstler and Orlov. But just what part of Orlov’s commentary upset Mike so much?:

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

Well hell, those are my sentiments exactly. Many posters here have expressed the same sentiment that the decline will be in steps, not smooth. And if this does happen just plain common sense would tell you that eventually some of the hardest hit places will, sooner or later, be cut off from transportation fuels permanently.

I must express an opposing opinion to Mike’s blog. I do not believe doomers are hacks and I do not believe we are in decline. And in my opinion the ad hominem rhetoric, calling us idiots, hacks and comedians does not raise this debate to a higher level but has the opposite effect.

Ron P.

I don't like Kunstler's style or some of his opinions, and I think Orlov is a comedian and all the better for it, but I agree that Mike is getting unnecessarily petulant. We are not a movement here at TOD, more of a choir where a thousand slightly off-key voices merge to what I hope is a powerful and moving theme.

Mike also refers to Greer as a doomer. I see him as more of an optimist. I fear the reality of the decline of industrial society will be deeply unpleasant to live through.

Even here in the UK there is a fundamental disconnect on the roads as fuel reaches record prices. Access to affordable fuel is NON NEGOTIABLE. sigh.

Yep, I've had it with mikey. If he posts here again, I plan to flag all of his comments and invite others to do the same.

You may strongly agree or disagree with Professor Noam Chomsky (I have done both), but you can't just dismiss him as a joker. For a good while he was the most quoted and cited scholar in the world. But somehow Mikey is on such an elevated plateau above him that he can just scoff at his pronouncements without addressing the salient points of his argument? He has proved himself the worst kind of troll. He is not interested in coming here to discuss serious ideas seriously, but just to get material so he can impudently sneer and smear on his blog.

Just despicable.

C'mon guys. Mike has as much right to his opinions as anyone here, and there have been plenty of those. I have to ask Mike, is he going to give up his CSA/organic lifestyle for a cubicle in Boston or NYC?

As for Chomsky; one only needs to go back 20 some years and review what he said then and look at where we are now. My view is that he's been spot-on. The more I 'hang' with the average American, the more obvious it is that they've been captured by those who would manufacture their consent.

Kunstler? Having lived in Atlanta much of my life (since the 50s) and observed first hand the explosive development of suburbia there, when one cuts through his embellished rhetoric, he's been spot-on about many things as well. The somewhat impressionist picture of things he paints doesn't invalidate his messages of social decline, IMO.

Ultimately, we all have to follow our gut. It's worked fairly well for me so far. Paying some things forward, reducing my exposure to consumptivness, and modifying my expectations regarding our dependence on the hyper-complex systems that are 'doomed' to simplification is paying off, have been.

I hold my doomer id in special regard and I feed it carefully. It doesn't scare me anymore. Maybe that's where Mike is.

From Mike's post elsewhere.
Every person on The Oil Drum who responded to my excoriation of this comment DEFENDED Greer.
Now go home and tell your Granny she's dead.

Yes, Greer is defendable because the statement is true. Everyone DOES get to die. The quote from MikeB about Greer was

"Most of the people who are currently dependent upon drugs for survival are going to die."

And its true because everyone is going to die someday.

That is a good example of MikeB's statements that confuses me.

Right now I know people who are going without medication because they cannot afford it. I know one of my students last semester missed multiple classes traveling to a dentist across the state because none in our area are accepting new medicare(medicade?) patients.

I think MikeB was maybe expecting EVERYONE in the ENTIRE country to lose access to medication Immediately All At Once. He might not be noticing that it is happening one family at a time.

Some people expect Transition to be "black and white, now or never." They may not tolerate gradual change well, leading to confusion and extreme frustration.?.?.?

My wife's drug bill is in excess of $15,000 a year to keep her in good health. Most of that comes from the state or charity. Ironically the only drug which she needs to control a life threatening condition is also the cheapest, but she would be a miserable, sick cripple without the rest. Sooner or later the money to supply these drugs will dry up, and she knows it. We are careful with our money but finding that level of cash would drive us into deep poverty.

My wife's health or my kid's education? Tough choices.

My wife's health or my kid's education? Tough choices.

Classic stoicism of 'we all get to die' leads the path to a choice that won't be E-tickets for the Guilt Trip.

I can't remember where I read it but, the statement goes something like this."No chronic, degenerative, non-communicable medical condition has ever been cured by prescription drugs." On the other hand some people have achieved remarkable results through the application of dietary measures, including the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. You might want to search for a doctor knowledgeable in the use of such methods, which might not be an easy task. People who have read my comments on such matters in the past will know that I am not a big fan of the M(edical)IC

It is my considered opinion that cheaper, more accessible means of treatment have been overlooked in favour of prescription drugs to the benefit of the MIC. In the area of prevention we have been captured by the A(gricultural)IC hence the ballooning problems of obesity and the attendant issues of cardiovascular disease and diabetes among others, largely due to a diet high in energy (sugar, starch, oils/fats) and very little else. People would be a lot healthier if they just gave the junk food a break and ate more health promoting foods but then, what would they do with all their twinkies, cheese curls and soda pop./rant

If we're lucky all that excess sugar that's going into junk food will be more valuable as a feedstock for ethanol production as oil supplies decline. Then maybe we'll need less health care. On the treatment side, in the long run, I think the people who know the nutritional value and/or medicinal properties of various pants will be better of than those who don't.

Alan from the islands

I have my doubts about a lot of drugs, but my wife has three different autoimmune conditions, of varying severity and none of which is currently curable, because genetic treatments are still in their infancy (and will be for a long time yet). However, her rhumatoid arthritis has been largely suppressed by regular injections of an anti TNF drug, and her life has improved dramatically. She could barely walk or use her hands two years ago, now she can run, jump and play rough with the kids. Anti TNF drugs are monoclonal antibodies, which bind and suppress an individual enzyme in the blood stream. All drugs have side effects but the more specific the drug, the more limited the side effects.

She had been in pain for two years, she felt better one day after the first injection.

I worked on the human genome project, ultimately all medicine is genetic.

Has she ever had her 25 hydroxy vitamin d levels tested? Your mention of rheumatoid arthritis got me thinking what vitamin deficiency might be associated with that? So I go over to youtube and check out the video featuring Michael Hollick, one of the worlds leading experts on vitamin D. At 1 min. 40 sec. into this 1 hr. video he mentions RA.

Not saying that's the cause of your wifes condition but, it might be worth checking out. Does she like being in the sun? Does she always use sunscreen before going out in the sun?

Alan from the islands

Thanks for your comment. My wife has similar problems. I sent your post to her so she can discuss those anti TNF drugs with her rheumatologist.

I would hate to have to pick up the entire tab for her meds without the otherwise crappy insurance plan she has. Or medicare alone.

As was said above, most of those who use drugs will die. I think the person who made that statement must have meant to add, "sooner."


Try Type I Diabetes without insulin.


Right now I know people who are going without medication because they cannot afford it. I know one of my students last semester missed multiple classes traveling to a dentist across the state because none in our area are accepting new medicare(medicade?) patients.

I think MikeB was maybe expecting EVERYONE in the ENTIRE country to lose access to medication Immediately All At Once. He might not be noticing that it is happening one family at a time.

Come now, S. A. You know doggone well Greer was saying that people were going to DIE from lack of medications--"most" of them--as a direct result of oil shortages. Go back to the original interview and listen to it.

It has nothing to do with the issue of affordability and access, which is just appalling in the U. S.

It has nothing to do with the issue of affordability and access, which is just appalling in the U. S.

*NOTHING*, really?!

If you could for a moment get past this anti Greer crusade you're on, and just deal with facts and reality, I'd think you'd find that you might be very hard pressed to convince anyone who has been reading TOD for a while, that the economic circumstance we currently find ourselves in, has nothing to do with resource depletion. Resource depletion has quite a bit to do with the affordability of the complexity that our society takes for granted. I truly do not see how access to medical care and life sustaining drugs would in some way be magically exempt.

Reality check below... And a disclaimer: I'm 57 years old and the fact that I myself have not had access to health care for over two years, because I simply cannot afford it, might be influencing my views on this particular issue.


Energy Limits Global Economic Growth, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Jan. 11, 2011) — A study that relates global energy use to economic growth, published in the January issue of BioScience, finds strong correlations between these two measures both among countries and within countries over time.

The research leads the study's authors to infer that energy use limits economic activity directly. They conclude that an "enormous" increase in energy supply will be required to meet the demands of projected world population growth and lift the developing world out of poverty without jeopardizing standards of living in most developed countries.

Secrecy By Complexity: Obfuscation in Energy Data, and The Primacy of Crude Oil

Posted by nate hagens on January 12, 2011 - 4:30am
Topic: Supply/Production

More egregious is that even in the main body of the IEO 2010 report, more false aggregation occurs with a yet another term of complexity: Conventional Liquids. Indeed, it’s not surprising that OECD governments use opacity and secrecy by complexity to handle this extremely important issue. OECD economies are now structurally short energy supply, having lost access to the cheap BTU in oil that built out their societies over the past 100 years. The loss of cheap energy, the loss of the cheap BTU that oil has provided to OECD nations for the past century, is a crucial factor in the dilemma the West now faces: a newly chronic economic restraint that refuses to go away.

Emphasis mine

We get a lot of Americans coming here for a health care vacation. There have been a number of facilities built to cater to the trade.


Now go home and tell your Granny she's dead.

Sadly, that's all too close to true. My aunt recently went through chemotherapy and radiation, on the public nickel plus co-pay from her own resources. I have no way to know or even guess whether it extended her life ten years, three years, a week, or whether it was all an ordeal for no effect. What I do know from living in other people's countries and knocking around the world is that we are an extraordinarily rich nation. Few places can afford to invest so much in a person who is already retired. Most of the world does not have access to the technology.

Meanwhile, the State of Washington may have to eliminate its health insurance program for our most vulnerable citizens. We are rapidly joining the list of places who cannot afford to spend the money on health care.

The only reason we cannot afford to spend money on the health of our 'retired' is because we are sending it all to the wealthiest 1%. Of course, they are entitled.


Sorry that I don't have the links, but I've seen on-line some courses/exercises that help improve reading comprehension. If you've been keeping up with the research on neuro-plasticity, you'll see that these will help people of all ages.

Do some of these and the kind of mistake you've just made -- suggesting that MikeB has anything but the highest opinion of Chomsky -- will become much less frequent.

If he posts here again, I plan to flag all of his comments and invite others to do the same.

Have to disagree strongly with this on principle. What if his next lot of comments would have been a revelation in understanding for both parties but he was unable to do so as he was banned from voicing his opinion?

That's a slippery slope if ever there was one.

Agree 100%. Let him speak. If people don't like what he has to say then don't read it. Same thing applies to Kunstler, Greer and all the rest. I'd guess that we all have a mental list of TOD members whose posts we don't bother reading any longer.

No, I disagree and will not flag his comments nor do I wish him banned.

All of us, myself included, are prone to momentary lapses of insanity and irrationality. I would not for example disregard something practical that Mike might have to say about organic farming. Though I will in future be more careful about accepting his rhetoric and opinions at face value, at least not without a very generous dollop of NaCl...


All of us, myself included, are prone to momentary lapses of insanity and irrationality.

Amen brother! Often I have spoken to a person in one of my moments of insanity and wished I could take it back. But we cannot change the past and must live with our past utterances no matter how insane or irrational they were.

However I agree with Aardvark and Jokuhl below that Mike is stirring a pot that needs and loves to be stirred. Where would we direct our rants if we had no one to disagree with? And when we disagree with someone, and argue that point, it sharpens our wits and makes us think over our position very carefully. It may even persuade us to change our position. Truthfully however, that seldom happens.

But if our position is defensible then we need to either defend it. By saying nothing we acknowledge that those who oppose our position have a point. That being said however, the doomer position is far too deep and complicated to be defended in a sound bite or even in a few paragraphs. It is a rational position arrived at by a long process of reading, observing and thinking.

So we are really fighting a losing battle. But I enjoy the rhetoric anyway. I hope Mike keeps posting. He is a person who has looked over the cliff of doom and is now backing away, saying to himself; naw, I don't think I am ready to believe that abyss really exists right now. It's just too damn scary.

Ron P.

At some point the tide may turn.

Until then, the value of what Mike says is that he is in our conversation. That's how it starts with all societal tipping points.

I think maybe it is more that he started with a, 'the end is at hand' position, and when it did not happen he had to back up. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance is just too great.

I have a frankly fatalist pov. When TSHTF, it will do so in its own way, on its own schedule. We can hope it will be a gentle process; we can plan for the worst. To take a public position, however, and have that position turn out in error, is too much for most to accept. Like a pendulum, MikeB's mind moves in a very human fashion, from extreme doom to, "I should never have said that." And, when he sees others making the same 'mistake' he himself had made, he feels that he should point it out. Even when the error was not 'predicting' doom, but trying to foresee when it would happen, and what would be the trigger.

I have grandchildren who will be living through the bad times that I see ahead. I doubt that I will see the worst of it; I hope I miss it all. It is very hard, indeed, to get ones head around the idea of 'the end of the industrial age.' What we are doing here may make a difference... but only if we approach it in a serious and sane manner. If Mike's blog makes us all more aware of how we might sound to others, I have no objection. Sometimes I wonder about myself!


Actually Chomsky isn't a joker according to the quote in the first post. MikeB is expressing exasperation that two others, jokers in MikeB's opinion, are being put on a par with Noam Chomsky by The Nation.

This is the week of the Agricultural Trades Show in Maine, so I'm not going to be able to follow this discussion, unfortunately.

I will only say that the "idiot audience" comment was directed not at anyone in particular but to Kunstler's assumed audience: that is, he is assuming that the people listening are so stupid as to not understand that "history is a concept, not a person," etc. He is lecturing, talking down to his audience, which I friggin' despise.

I'm sorry if you took it personally, Ron, as that was not the intent.

You must remember one of my central points is that I am a hack, too, in this debate. My magic eight-ball is just as ineffective as Kunstler's, et al.

Now I'm going up to August to attempt to eviscerate the arguments of the petulant organic farmers...

Wish me luck.

I hope MikeB continues to post.

I'm mostly confused about his POV, but I think he is stirring a pot that needs to be stirred. I don't really care how this argument might appear to the "outsiders," but think it is a good thing for us to dissect among ourselves.

One thing I think I see in Mikeb's 'rants' is his frustration with the uncertainty of our situation, which translates into frustration with the "prophets " - something they were labeled with, none call themsleves "prophets" (especially Orlov - he has repeatedly laughed at the fact he is considered a "Peak Oil Expert").

I think he's stirring a pot that LIKES to be stirred. It's argument for argument's sake.

He gets to be the doomer who can outdoom the other doomers and remain smugly and sadly aloof.. and now, excoriating the hacks, he claims just the same to be yet another hack and again gets to rise above without the responsibility of having to do any climbing to get there.

Yes, there are various squeaky wheels in this gang that have made outsiders think that 'peak oil' is just a pretty squeaky crowd, and they just need some oil. Meantime, with conversations like this, I think we are just spinning our wheels with such banter, waiting to see what this conversation (TOD) is going to do next as the changes figure into this site. Spinning Vicious Circles in frustration until then..

I'm waiting to see more about alt transportation, better buildings, alt currency and alt energy, which surely havw limitations next to BAU, and generate a lot of heat in the threads, but I think it's far more fruitful to explore 'Where do we go from here?' 'What tools can we be working on?' over Mainstream PR Failures and Qualifying or Quantifying the spectrum of Doomers and Cornicopians among us.

There's work to do, and there CAN be some useful discussion to share and build ideas.. Lately, a lot of the discussions have been about tearing things down. I like building things. (I'm building rechargable battery packs for wireless mics today, which allow me to bypass more of the ubiquitous 9v batteries that film and video productions buy and toss at an obscene rate.. and batteries for which we PAY an obscene rate as well.)

"I think he is stirring a pot that needs to be stirred."

I agree, and another way to stir that same pot is to ask: why has the United States seriously debated a "Climate Change Bill" but not a "Get off of Oil Bill"? There are many logical reasons why the latter is more difficult, but the Peak Oil crowd's insistence that doom is inevitable has been one of them. Its made people avoid the peak oil label because they don't want to be associated with a whole doomer worldview.

Hell I often feel that doom is inevitable as well but I'm trying to find a balance. When a BAU'er brings out the "don't worry, high oil prices will stimulate alternatives" my tendency has been to list all the obstacles. Now I try to balance that by saying--"yes, I hope so! Lets get started and fast, because it will take a long time and we may not have much of that!"

natequist - you asked "why has the United States seriously debated a "Climate Change Bill" but not a "Get off of Oil Bill"?

Maybe it has something to do with our perceived time frames of the two issues.

Climate change has been painted as something way off in the future. Something that will arrive after most of us are dead and gone so we can safely talk about it because "hey, it won't affect me"!

OTOH the consequences of peak oil are painted as very near term (in our lifetime) and severe so our denial kicks in to protect us from having to deal with the implications.

There is plenty of doom predicted from both the climate change camp and the peak oil camp. The main difference seems to be "when". That's why this whole line of thinking that the doomers have destroyed the credibility of the peak oil message strikes me as scapegoating. Huge numbers of people are questioning the credibility of both issues. Very little is being done about either. Reason doesn't always work.

posit this:

the cake gets bigger - every one wins ( albeit some more than others) - everyone's happy ( apart from some enviromentalists and they don't count do they?)

the cake stays the same or gets smaller - somebody is going to loose , triage applies , thats not nice and people will ask " why are there so few with so much?" and "where's mine " ( whilst reaching for the gun).


I believe, and perhaps this is forbin's point as well, that the reason we have climate change debates, but not peak oil ones, is that PO is the unmentionable. If the scientists get their climate change bill, or whatever help they want, it will help with peak fuels as well. And so, the time and energy goes into climate change efforts.

Now, I have no problem with AGW efforts... my problem is that the remedies are NOT the same, and the eventual consequences from peak fossil fuels (and peak soil, water, and other minerals) will be dramatic and are more likely than just AGW to result in the end of our species.

All and all, I doubt that AGW will kill the earth... though if the consequences of PO don't, it could also end homo sap's time.

We have this blind spot that does not recognize that we could do this. I suppose that the dinosaurs did not believe their time could end, either, though. And, in the long term, nature doesn't care.

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.



I'm not sure why PO is more unmentionable than CC. Both of them ask great changes of us. I think it is those great changes that are unmentionable. CC has certainly been in the public eye for much longer and perhaps that has something to do with it being more mentionable. Although I certainly don't mention either in certain company!

I have no argument with you or Forbin. Perhaps my post wasn't very clear, it wouldn't be the first time :)

not sure why PO is more unmentionable

Some of the reasons are straightforward.

Consider the "Climate" word as it appears in the CC alliteration.

Everyone is directly affected by Climate/Weather.

When your brain hears a noise, the first thing it asks itself is:

"What's that got to do with 'me'? Why should I bother paying attention?"

When your brain hears the noise bite: "Oil" (well, not really your brain, think instead of their brain) it asks itself:
"What's oil and its peak got to do with 'me'? Why should I bother paying attention?"

The answer is nothing and no, there is no need to pay attention.

aardi - I agree: other than being obscene or burning up way too much bandwidth I don't see the point in flagging anyone other than to show disapproval. I've periodically debated some folks on TOD: sometimes enlightening...sometimes a waste of time. When it becomes pointless I just stop chatting with them. Someone doesn't like what Mike says: just stop listening. Feel insulted by Mike? So what...Mike is no body to me. That's not a shot at Mike. No one on TOD is anybody to me. A bunch of smart/nice folks for sure. But none have any relevance in my life other than a source of useful info or interesting chats.

One of the aspects of TOD I like the most is that we are not a "movement" or "organization" per se: we just a collection of generally interesting and informative folks with wildly varying opinions and agendas. If I didn't find benefit in this I would just stick with NPR and Fox News.

Feel insulted by Mike? So what...Mike is no body to me.


Now extend that to the other-non-experts who have soiled peak oil discourse.

I'm left with a very short list of those I completely admire:

Jeffrey Brown, Professor Deffeyes, Colin Campbell, Robert Rapier, and others.

I wish you luck. As long as you stick to attempting the evisceration of the arguments of the petulant organic farmers. The non-petulant organic farmers, on the other hand, can be a very pleasant source of all kinds of information that is useful to non-organic growers. I hope you meet a few of these and are able to enjoy some valuable exchanges.

Thanks for explaining that you were misinterpreted. It could be that you were misinterpreted because you did not make yourself clear. If you had been more clear, then Darwinian could have saved a few brain cells criticizing your statement.

Kunstler had demonstrated an exceptional inability to make accurate or even semi accurate predictions in the financial area. I don't know why he keeps making predictions in this area. He has, in essence, become his own straw man. So, criticism of him is about him and not necessarily others prominent in the peak oil arena.

Mike, I find many of your comments to be similar to my thoughts. I've known about Peak Oil for more than 20 years, yet, the problem is so massive as to defy simple predictions. That Peak (conventional) Oil will occur is rather obvious, given that oil is a finite resource which requires continual effort to acquire. That the easiest to find sources may already have been found is debatable, but I think it's clear that the technology to find oil has already found the largest reservoirs. There may be more such pools in deep water locations, but the cost of recovering these is likely to continue to be much greater than those on land.

I think the trouble is, the market doesn't discriminate between oil produced for $3 a barrel or oil produced for $80, it's all oil to the consumer. As the ever more marginal pools of oil are tapped, the aggregate price to the market will increase, even if the flow rate can be maintained or, perhaps, increased. The result is that the cheap oil will disappear and the aggregate market price to the consumer will continue to increase. One might expect that marginal consumers (in the US) who can keep going when gasoline is $1 a barrel will find it impossible to make it when oil is $5 a gallon. The same might be expected as respect some marginal locations on the Earth, that is, they may not be able to pay for their imports of oil products from the value of their exports, thus, for all practical purposes, they will be cut off. Sounds like Jeffery Brown's Export Land Model to me.

As an engineer, I am aware that there are likely to be many alternative paths just as there are other alternatives to providing the services now enjoyed thru the consumption of fossil fuels. I really don't care about whether there's a "shark fin" decline or a "stair step" decline. I think we won't really know how things will play out, that is to say, we can't accurately predict the future production of oil or the response by humans to that production curve. But, the simple fact of discussing things as they progress may offer others outside of TOD some insight and guidance, thus I continue to hang out on TOD...

E. Swanson

YA Mike, i wish you luck in eviscerating the arguments of the petulant organic farmers, as they definitely have it coming to them.
Hope you're feeling better next time you bless TOD with your musings.

Maybe this is why they're so petulant.. ?


The Maine Farm Bureau will host a workshop, "Convergence = Sustainability," each day of the Maine Agricultural Trades Show, scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center.

While organizers say each workshop will address "food safety, biotechnology and the challenges of organic and modern farmers," Maine's largest organic farming organization won't be represented at the three sessions.

"This is the second year in a row where the Farm Bureau has put on this program, and in neither case have we been invited to be part of the conversation about moving toward common ground," said Russell Libby, executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

.. Guess who's not coming to dinner?

a little more detail.. the MOFGA represents 6300+ members and the Maine Farm Bureau boasts 2200..

...Bob St. Peter heads Food for Maine's Future, which promotes small family farming and nonpolluting agricultural practices, and he is a frequent opponent of the biotechnology industry and genetically engineered crops.

He worries that the "Convergence" sessions are actually designed to promote conventional agriculture at the expense of organic farming methods.

"Not having the leading organic farming organization in the country or even our organization, that has been a leading critic of biotech, at the workshop tells me this session is about a particular agenda," St. Peter said. "It's difficult for me to believe they're really after convergence."

..and there will be an open forum for Farmers to bear witness to the amount of difficulty that regulations have created for their businesses .. replacing a talk that had been planned featuring the 'head of the pro-pesticide Crop Protection Research Institute ' ...

I sure hope nobody gets petulant, that would be uncalled for!

I especially liked the wicked clever phrasing of ..

"and the challenges of organic and modern farmers.."

Sounds familiar to those 'earnest doubts' we hear foisted so often upon Renewable Energy that sort of amount to, 'Wow, it'll be hard to change over and do it some NEW way.. let's stick with the OLD way.. it worked for Grampa!'


Slice and hydrogen peroxide are not the only pesticides that appear to be becoming ineffective in killing the parasites, however. According to reports issued in recent years by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and by Irish Marine Institute, cypermethrin also has been losing its effectiveness in killing off sea lice from salmon aquaculture facilities in Europe.

Sebastian Belle, executive director of Maine Aquaculture Association, said recently that higher-than-average water temperatures in Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays seem to be contributing to the local sea lice infestation. Cold winters tend to substantially kill off sea lice, he said, but last winter that didn’t happen.

“We had a very mild winter last year, so we didn’t get the winter kill that we normally get,” Belle said.

According to Halse, this led to significant salmon losses at aquaculture sites in Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays this past summer.

“It’s been a difficult year for us,” Halse said. “We were fighting this battle with sea lice all summer long.”

Monocultures.. it's interesting to note the idea from Aristotle elsewhere in this Drumbeat about a political system comprising several government types co-inhabiting within a society, because it reminds me of the Marine/Riverine Biologist I just interviewed telling me of the poor variety of fish left in the Penobscot bay, which this the area this article is about. He said 'There is no one species.. they exist in a complex system'

It seems that some things collapse from complexity, and others from the lack of it.

Of course, the Salmon farmers just want to assemble a bigger arsenal of Pesticides to toss in there.. as William McDonough describes the motto of the Industrial Revolution,

"If BRUTE FORCE doesn't work, you need to use more of it."

I will only say that the "idiot audience" comment was directed not at anyone in particular but to Kunstler's assumed audience:

My favorite part of Doomsday Prophets was Kunstler's explanation of peak oil, which I IMHO is very accurate. So, if you don't agree with an explantion, then your position is those that did are idiots?! Don't you think that's an immature attitude? Sure, I mean we all have opinions, but to declare a group of people that find resonance in a viewpoint as idiots seems like the height of arrogance, especially considering the situation with oil is ongoing.

I need help from some Godess -Gail?


I probably don't make the Peak Oil and Climate Change list because I don't write much about climate change (and in fact, none of the Oil Drum posters talk about climate change to a significant extent--by design.) I do talk about my views about the interaction of peak oil and climate change in this post. To understand it, you probably have to read this post (The Oil-Employment Link Part 1) first.

Gail, you are one of those people that should have made my short list in one of my posts above. Sorry for the omission.

When is the History Channel going to interview you and Jeffrey Brown? That would make for intelligent viewing.

If they ask to put you in a darkened chamber that looks like a crypt with exposed pipes, sitting in a circle with self-anointed savior of mankind, Mike Ruppert ("My job is to save as many lives as I can"), ominous thriller movie music pulsing in the background--then please run in the other direction!

I've personally given up on talking about the subject to others. People have stopped talking to me, called me ignorant, mocked me and have treated me as some dangerous, mentally disturbed person who needs to be heavily medicated. All this, while staying calm and conservative while talking about PO, overpopulation and climate change. I still contemplate the issue, but try and keep to myself. I'm buying seeds, trying to change habits and make other feeble attempts be able to survive another 15 years, at least. Although honestly, who am I kidding.

Anyway, I could be wrong, but I feel that most PO people will almost always be persecuted. Now, they are the social outcasts who seek to destroy dreams and progress. When TSHTF, they will be those who knew about the situation and did nothing to stop it. I hope I'm wrong.

" (peak oil people) are the social outcasts who seek to destroy dreams and progress.

That sums it up pretty well.

"Pessimist" ... "Luddite" ... "Amish"... "Doomer Idiot"...

I don't talk about it in public either. I also stop working on my "Luddite Projects" when company comes, to avoid what they call "playful" ridicule. They do not realize how demoralizing they can be.

The (so far) slow decline in global net oil exports--In the first 15 minutes of the sinking of the Titanic, just because one's feet weren't wet yet didn't mean that the ship was not sinking.

The key thing to keep in mind about the (so far) slow decline in the volume of global net oil exports is that the slow decline, IMO, is masking a very high rate of depletion in post-2005 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports). Consider the ELM (Export Land Model), versus two actual case histories, the UK and Indonesia (which had radically different rates of change in consumption):

A rough rule of thumb appears to be that the "Half Life" of post-peak CNE is about one-third of the way into the net export decline, which is what the model and two case histories show. However, generally the percentage decline in the annual volume of net oil exports is far less than the percentage decline in post-peak CNE. For example, three years into the decline, Indonesia's annual net oil exports were only down by 27%, but after only three years they had shipped 53% of post-peak CNE.

Sam's most optimistic forecast is that by the end of 2014, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE will have shipped about half of their combined post-2005 CNE.

To use the Titanic analogy again, consider how the situation looked in the first 15 minutes of the sinking versus the last 15 minutes of the sinking. In terms of post-peak CNE, we are in the first 15 minutes, but we are maintaining something close to BAU only because of a sky high post-2005 CNE depletion rate.

In the first 15 minutes of the sinking of the Titanic, just because one's feet weren't wet yet didn't mean that the ship was not sinking.

Excellent fleshing out of the Titanic analogy WT.

I have noticed three individuals in my locale who seem to be just waking up to find that their "feet are getting wet"... maybe we are beyond that first 15 minutes, but still some time before the stampede for the lifeboats by those who can't feel their feet.

I've come to accept that the majority of people will never understand how, if it doesn't collapse on its own, a declining energy base will collapse the world financial system. I even make pictures to help people understand and no doubt Mike has seen me post them before.

Nonetheless, here they are again, not for Mike's benefit but instead for those who are open to the possibility that our world is about to radically change. Click to enlarge.

First, start with the link between oil consumption and the economy. People who say we no longer need oil might be correct for some mythical point in the future but right now we need it and lots of it, too.


Oil makes up a full third of the world's primary energy supply. When it declines there will be a very large impact, especially since it is what I call an "enabling resource" — it enables us to get all the other resources.

World Primary Energy Supply

The world has created a financial system divorced from the physical resources that support it. In short, we are in "money overshoot." As resources decline, this serious imbalance will naturally — and very likely chaotically — correct itself.


Here is the monster that we have created:


At some point the current financial system disintegrates (the big step down in the image below):

Staircase Model

In the diagram below, the red line is for people who are so unknowledgeable of our situation that it isn't even worth discussing it with them. Best just to move to someone else.

The blue line is worth some time but not much. People who assert that we can maintain our current population size don't make a compelling case to me. Even if it were true that we could continue our overconsumptive ways, for how long? They also have to make the case that the technologies can be quickly disseminated while oil is declining — a case I don't think they can make.

This leaves us, in my view, only two options below: the green line and the orange line.

Possible Future Scenarios

Of course the orange line cannot be ruled out.

Either way, contraction and a lot of suffering is in our future because we, as a species, can't seem to "get" (grok, internalize, etc.) these fundamental physical trends and are, collectively, blinded by several centuries of the magic of technology.

To aangel and others who may be influenced by the graphs:

Just a cautionary note that you do need to be careful when assessing the quality of information presented in this manner.

For example, in your top graph there's no evidence in the data there to suggest to me that a growth in GDP is dependant on a growth in oil production, it could be the other way around, or even coincidence. Correlation doesn't imply causation.

More in-depth analysis is required to get the full, balanced picture.


causality isn't important in this case. All we need to know is that it takes energy to run an economy and that's what the graph clearly demonstrates.

When looking at your graph of energy vs GDP, one should note that similar graphs have been produced over the years after the Arab/OPEC oil embargo in 1973. At that time, there were similar conclusions that the economy grew in lock step with the use of oil or energy use. However, as the price of oil increased after the 2 oil shocks, the users of energy responded with various conservation measures and the US Government set standards for fuel economy. As a result, the relationship between GDP and energy use was no longer a 1:1 relationship.

Since you begin your first graph with the year 1986, after the Saudis flooded the market with oil and the price fell sharply to around $10 a bbl, the early response to the shocks of the 1970's has been left out. It's reasonable to think that, with the lower price of oil, the consumers responded by using more. Thus, your graph likely overstates the link between oil consumption and economic growth. As the price of oil and other energy sources can be expected to increase, I suggest that we should expect to see more energy conservation efforts applied. Don't forget that the cost of those energy conservation efforts adds to GDP. That process is what might make the downward stair step version of the future the reality...

E. Swanson

Yes, that's all futzing with the factor 'k' in the formula below (the energy intensity of an economy):

size of economy    =    k  x  energy used

Again, it does not change this fundamental, physical relationship and the direction of causality has no role to play in it. iagreewithnick's initial point was that the graph did not tell the whole story because it doesn't show the direction of causality. My response is that he is raising an irrelevant point and that it tells the part of the story I need it to tell, namely:

size of economy        energy used

See my other comment in which I demonstrate the case for both directions of causality and show that the result is the same.

Also note how much conversation we've had on something that is, to me, self-evident. This topic is just really hard for some people to get. It's no wonder we're barely making any headway with it.

Edit: added "the direction of" in front of "causality" and modified the second last sentence, too

Black Dog- While I agree with what you say there are other issues which tend to underestimate the importance of oil supply vs. GDP The massive growth of financial instruments and financial institutions mean that there has been a significant growth in the percentage of GDP which directly relates to the transfer of money. This requires very little oil consumption and yet oil stayed in lockstep to GDP.

"causality isn't important" ... "it takes energy"

This is getting really tied up in rhetorical knots. Let's take a deep breath. If indeed "it takes energy", then the contrapositive is that a lack of energy would remove a factor that is required ("it takes"), which would automatically "cause" a decline in the economy. Surely most people would find that particular causality to be "important"?

And then let's take a longer, deeper breath. There will be hysteretic aspects as well. For example, a sudden drop of 20% in oil supply would surely cause an immediate crisis. But a sudden increase of 20% would simply be shut in, causing no immediate crisis except in the oil sector. And a slow (compared to a modeled rate of adaptation) drop of 20% might not cause a crisis. So the model needs to get more complicated (than just a graph or set of graphs illustrating a degree of correlation) if it is to be a useful guide for, say, government policy...

Sorry, my imprecise wording.

The direction of causality is unimportant. Some sort of direct, physical, proportional relationship is definitely the point I'm trying to make.

And in this case only someone with very little grasp of things would disagree with this formula:

size of economy    =    k  x  energy used

That is all I'm trying to demonstrate and all I need to demonstrate to be able to move to the next step in the argument.

If someone has another, better way to show the above relationship in one slide and with very few words, I'm very interested in seeing it. Until then, most people will get that graph and not get bogged down in the weeds like people here are doing.

Note that k is not a constant.

Energy consumption per capita globally peaked around 1980, but since then there has been a substantial increase in real disposable income per capita along with a very substantial increase in world population.

Doomers seem to assert that k is close to being a constant. Nondoomers question that premise. As I read the evidence, the doomers do not have a strong case. Over the next twenty years k could change by a factor of two; whether it will or not I have no idea.

Yes, I would say that k will likely stay where it is. I don't think new technologies will get rolled out quickly enough to alter it much. If anything, it might get worse i.e. we become less efficient. I wonder if destitute people using rocket stoves are more or less efficient than a family cooking with natural gas in their home?

In any case, it's true that in many cases efficiency costs less in the long run but it always requires significant up-front capital to invest in the new equipment and business processes that are able to take advantage of that opportunity.

I think capex is going to decline dramatically as the deflation spiral intensifies. This happened in the Great Depression.

Thus, we're going to be stuck with the level of efficiency we have now because people won't invest in efficiency: they won't have the money. And if they require credit, well, that's going to be even more impossible.

No spare capital == no efficiency programs

BTW, that also means not many alternative powertrain cars get purchased, despite what Nick says.

Ooooo, some big unsupported leaps there aangel.

First off, while efficiency might cost less in the long run, it can also cost less in the short run as well. Imagine a company that decides fuel is getting to expensive, so implements a business rule that "no more salesmen driving to see customers, no more flying overseas, things are done via teleconference, etc."

Not only do they improve their efficiency, the up-front cost is minimal because they are switching the proportions of already utilised mechanisms. AND they save the money they were once spending on fuel. In other words, they come out ahead on both aspects of the deal.

Imagine such a thing is implemented as a general policy (say via law).

The money freed up can then be invested in other efficiency mechanisms, the up-front cost, delivering more savings, etc.

Result, as Mr Micawber says : Happiness

The two key determining factors are:

  1. Intelligence. How smart are the companies, people, and the government. If they can make good strategic changes, matched to the oncoming realities and nuanced foresight - it can all work.
  2. Decline rate. One of the things I keep banging on about. If the decline rate is too swift, the flexibility is used up as fast as its made - and the system crashes. That's why decline rate post-peak is much more important than the precise month of peak oil.

Put the two together and you get a 'smarts vs decline rate' curve, one side of which is 'crash', the other 'adapt'.

In some senses I count as 'doomer' because I think we are collectively too dumb and self-centred to match the decline rate we can expect. In others, I count as 'optimist' because I think it IS possible to be smart enough to meet the challenge, if we accept the game's changed and we need to therefore change how we play it.

A lot of what you say is true. However, when there is no cash there is no cash.

It is difficult enough to get companies to spend on efficiency upgrades during a healthy economy because someone has to sign off on the upfront expense.

During a rapid and vicious deflationary spiral (what I'm expecting), it is very unlikely efficiency upgrades will occur even if in the long run money is saved. Heck, even if money is saved in the short run they will have difficulty being realized. Some of your easy changes will occur but I'm skeptical that we can save much more than 10% to 20%. Then what?

Mostly governments, businesses and individual families will be struggling to survive. The brutal future I see is that most will not survive.

There won't be credit and there won't be a lot of spare cash lying around.

Recall what Nate said about how many families had no income during the Great Depression. IIRC, it was 35 million out of 150 million.

This is not some gentle, gradual downturn we are facing.

It will not be the same everywhere. Already a new round of food riots has started and will likely increase as oil and food prices increase. Whatever happened in the past, food and fuel now do seem to be quiet tightly bound together, partly because of biofuels.


Partly, this is in our hands. If we manage to get our families, our schools, our businesses, our neighborhood, our municipalities to start powering down ahead of the curve, there may be some slight wiggle room for further efficiencies.

But many are being dragged along the rough bumps of the plateau with fairly brutal results.

The difference is you're talking about after TSHHTF, and I'm talking about before.

Now, if TSHHTF already, you're already going down rapidly. It's possible to fix the problem and find a route out, but you'd have to be an order of magnitude smarter (as a government and people) to do is as to avoid it in the first place. Therefore unless there is a step change in smarts (say with the wholescale removal/replacement of the top levels of government) you've already proved you can't handle it and crash/break up beckons unavoidably.

If it's before TSHHTF, then you're not in a vicious deflationary spiral, so you can still take the path I outlined, if you're smart enough.

Given ol' Shock Doctrine Klein - that no large scale changes can happen unless the shock has already happened - that mitigates for the hope that collapse is not global and simultaneous. The lesson of one country going down can then be used as the shock for another to make the necessary scale of changes itself.

So that says, disconnect from the global markets and global finance (so you don't get pulled down in a general collapse), and start now with what can be done, testing the limits of what society will accept in change terms.

Nope, I've not seen anyone do that yet either....

If almost everyone stoppped flying and driving and couldn't buy any prepackaged processed food or build any buildings anymore---only those 4 activities stop, OK...then that would free up a lot of oil for the system, hopefully still organized, to continue agriculture and delivering basic food supplies. Isn't this what is at the back of people's minds (I mean people who might be PO aware in the govt). Free up oil by collapsing the system when it simply can't go on anymore. Then use that oil for basic things. For example, some school systems are putting their curriculums on-line (or planning to). Couldn't this be a sign they are planning for the day when school buses aren't viable anymore? It doesn't have to be a big deal in a way, just the next step. When people don't have jobs left to go to then they'll start gardening seriously. Until then, they aren't interested.


This is not some gentle, gradual downturn we are facing.

Right on! I wish people could get this through their heads. In my view, if people, and businesses, aren't doing what will be necessary right now, then it's too late for them.

To accomplish anything positive requires a drastic psychological change. It won't be based upon some intellectual and rational internal dialog leading to a decision to make changes. Rather it is going to be an admission that the reality that one believed in no longer exists.

This admission then leads to having to, well, find or develop a new reality. This has typically proven almost impossible for most people. Look at what happened to the commune and intentional community people of the late 60's; with few exceptions they failed even though they shared a common vision of their new reality. The same will be true as society collapses - whether quickly or slowly.


Speaking of the evolution of the commune and intentional communities of the 60s ... (note, several former 'hippies' chime in in the comments)

Lifeboats: A Memoir

The Farm grew to a standing population of well over 1000, with 20 satellite centers, then, in the early 1980s, declined and decollectivized, bringing its population to under 200.

Since then it has experienced something of a renaissance, finding new popularity amongst permaculturists, ecovillagers, and roving students. But let’s begin at the beginning, when our group landed in Tennessee...

Garyp, how can you believe that if a corporation freed up capital by demanding less fuel use, that the capital thus lib erated would not just go into the CEO's next bonus? That's what happens now.


I refer the honourable gentleman to the remark about necessary 'smarts', and my assessment that we probably don't have them.

Yes, that was the point I was attempting to make.

Back in the 1970's there was considerable concern that k was in fact a constant, but later experience indicated that this was not correct. However, in the short term, it is likely that k will appear to be a constant, because (with few exceptions) all the machinery out there in the real world doing the work can not be changed to become more efficient over night. One exception was the imposition of the 55 mph speed limit, which would have had an immediate impact on the energy required to move a 1975 automobile over X miles of freeway.

But, I'm still a doomer because of the time required to implement a transition away from oil. Given the additional delay of social inertia, I seriously doubt that the developed world will be willing to make the sacrifice. We were warned in the 1970's, but later events allowed the US to go back to sleep, aka, BAU. Weren't we promised "Morning in America" by our Fearless Leader? Aren't we being promised the same delusional future all over again???

E. Swanson

Note that k is not a constant.

That shows that you don't grok orders of magnitude scale. If this relationship works over several orders of magnitude in energy availability, I wouldn't care about factors of two.

Then again, Web, that's a great big gigantic "if" since very few things in economics work quantitatively over several orders of magnitude. To me, a lot of the math looks more like perturbation theory than anything else - or, on occasion, perturbation theory ginned up somewhat dodgily by naïve conversion to power-law expressions (e.g. the expressions that usually turn up in discussions of "elasticity" fit this to a T.) Adequate enough for getting a feeling about how things work over a (possibly very) modest parameter range, not so adequate for scheduling discontinuities such as the end of the world or the premature deaths of all diabetics. So we could start another whole long thread on that, but enough weeds for now, maybe another time.

"a lot of the math looks more like perturbation theory than anything else - or, on occasion, perturbation theory ginned up somewhat dodgily by naïve conversion to power-law expressions"

This sounds very interesting. Could you expand or cite a source?

I wasn't meaning to write a dissertation. But continuing on with the elasticity, it is said that the quantity of something that is demanded decreases x% when price increases by y% (or increases x% when price decreases y%.) The elasticity is then x%/y%, and the demand is said to be elastic if x/y is bigger than one, i.e. demand changes rapidly with price, or inelastic if x/y is smaller than one, i.e. demand changes slowly as price decreases. (In occasional special cases, as with Giffen goods, demand may increase as price increases, giving a negative elasticity by the stated definition.)

Now, it should be reasonably clear that the elasticity (x/y) is not actually constant, anymore than the "k" constant in the discussion elsewhere on the page is actually constant. So the 'model' only works for small shifts in demand or price, small enough that the change in x/y is too small to change the calculation significantly (whatever that means.) This is identical in basic form to simple perturbation theory in quantum mechanics, which also works only for small shifts in parameter values (e.g. it can teach us about a thermal expansion coefficient at some temperature, but not so much about when and how the sample might melt.)

Sometimes the economics version of the model can be made to work for a somewhat larger range by converting to a power law, since a power law is often more scalable in some sense than a linear law. Instead of saying (where elasticity = x/y, and using ~ for a proportional sign since I doubt that the real symbol will display correctly everywhere)

delta(demand) ~ -delta(price) * elasticity

one might say,

demand ~ price ** -elasticity

or one might use the logarithmic relation found in the first reference to much the same effect. (And one would also say that the linear expression is the power-law expression "to first order", as WHT implies below.) The catch is that the scalable character of the power/logarithm law may tempt us to overreach with respect to the range of applicability, as though the map were the territory.

Either way, it should be clear that the elasticity is not truly a constant. For large changes in price, one must represent the demand as whatever function of price one might measure, which may well not be a simple linear or power function. We're dealing with what physicists or engineers would call an empirical model; a usable deep theory that covers a wide range of parameters may not exist. This was at the root of my quibble in the "k"-constant discussion that it's not OK to assume automatically that the size of the economy is linearly proportional to the oil supply over a range of orders of magnitude, even though, under certain conditions, including an assumption of no relevant discontinuities, a nearly linear proportionality virtually must exist for small supply changes around a current status quo. As a further complication, that proportionality will almost certainly vary for different time scales. Substitutions and adaptations often take time to implement, so demand will usually be less elastic in the short run. (N.B. the demand-curve model is also an equilibrium model, and in the real world it takes time to reach an equilibrium, so even more complications can arise, but enough.)

By the way, even if some of this is still murky, it should be clear by now why economists insist that "demand" is best conceived of as a curve; that way the mental image is of a range or set of responses, which is indeed what we normally observe for small to moderate parameter changes. It should also be crystal clear that if we want to be predicting (modeling) discontinuities (TEOTWAWKI, on one hand, or Kurzweil singularities, on another), we'll be needing a much fancier model.

[Note also that none of this requires individual people to function as simplistic robots, it arises from reasonably likely behavior 'averaged' (in some sense) over very large numbers. In that respect, there is also a strong resemblance to statistical mechanics. However, one mustn't get too cocky with the overgeneralizing, or to put it another way, one mustn't allow oneself to be driven off the deep end by "physics envy". An archetypal instance is covered in Taleb's The Black Swan. A large number of financiers forgot, in essence, that the Central Limit Theorem applies in simple form only to uncorrelated instances of an experiment; a set of dodgy mortgages, no matter how many it might contain, is a set of partially correlated instances, so contrary to their assumptions, the systemic risk cannot be abnegated by piling in ever more.]

A very interesting comment on this important subject. When I was working with and studying control systems, I recall some mention of perturbation theory regarding system stability. It's been so long that I'm afraid I've forgotten the intimate details...

E. Swanson

Yes, system stability can be analyzed in a similar fashion, but one must of course take care not to overgeneralize about the parameter range.

An even more general electronic example is Spice and related or derived programs, as used to simulate analog electronic circuitry. (N.B. all practical circuitry is still analog at root.) The core is built on expressing the circuit characteristics as a matrix, which yet again means, in essence, perturbation theory (which is everywhere.) EEs don't call it that, they call it a "small signal" (or "linear") model, but it's much the same idea. And as we now see is usual, the entries in the "small signal" matrix are not truly constants, but vary with the "operating point" similarly to the way a price elasticity varies as one traverses a demand curve such as the one in the link.

The real fun with Spice is that the core algorithms often tell us very little about the correct "operating point". Such algorithms can find their way to a local "valley", but if the correct point is over a ridge and in the next "valley", good luck. So Spice frequently "converges" on an incorrect, or even physically ridiculous, "operating point". I may have told the story a long time ago about being asked about a "circuit", which showed voltages of thus-and-such here and there on the diagram. I immediately inquired about the color of the smoke since one of the components clearly would have lost that internal puff of smoke that normally keeps an electronic component operating ;) if not vaporized outright. No, no: no smoke, the so-called "circuit" was a Spice model, the map was the territory. The (virtual) smoke was returned to its proper place (until the next time) by manually entering a hint or two (see next paragraph) into the appropriate box. So it goes.

The economics of all this is rather odd. The basic core is fairly low cost by license from the University of California Regents. However, thousands of dollars are often spent per "seat" for a commercial version. The money goes into graphical interfaces which can never be fancy enough, but also into various concoctions of 'secret sauce' for selecting the correct operating point, normally by some combination of (often unpredictable) automation and various hints ("initial values", etc.) entered manually into the program.

The basic core is fairly low cost by license from the University of California Regents.

Isn't Spice under the BSD license?


Thanks, PaulS. I guess I have to finally sit down and actually read Taleb's book. For now, could you just clarify what exactly is meant by 'partly-correlated' instance? Does it mean that what happens to one partly affects what happens to the others--so they are not truly 'independent random variables'?

It would seem difficult to ever model a system with lots of discontinuities.

By partly correlated, I mean that they don't move in lockstep, but there is some coupling. So yes, they are not truly independent, but nor are they mirror images. This would be true of mortgages - if I default, that certainly doesn't automatically mean you will default, but OTOH there might just be something underlying that is making us all more likely to default, such as, just hypothetically mind you, a financial panic.

Systems with discontinuities or even just nonlinearities do indeed pose added problems, see reply to Black_Dog just above. One big system with nonlinearities and complex 'initial conditions' is, of course, the climate system (atmosphere and clouds, oceans, land, sunshine, earth-orbit parameters, etc.)

Thank you, Don. That whacks some of the confusing weeds. It's blog comments, not a PhD dissertation after all, and I'm so used to using "k" for a constant that it sort of partially slid by.

It's a proportionality constant to first order.

Sure. I'd say because debt increased a lot faster than growth in e.g. the USA and I suspect many other places. Growth with more energy or growth with more debt. If you can neither increase debt (faster than growth) nor energy (about as fast as growth), game over.

For example, in your top graph there's no evidence in the data there to suggest to me that a growth in GDP is dependant on a growth in oil production,

As of late the growth in GDP has been very dependent, in the long run, in the growth in oil production. But basically you must say that the growth in GDP is dependent in the growth in energy production. A high correlation, going back over 200 years, may not prove cause but only a fool would deny it. That is to believe that our GDP, as well as our population, would be anywhere near where it is today if we still depended on draft animals for production of food and to power industry would be a foolish belief indeed.

Ron P.

Just to clarify, I'm not disagreeing with whether growth in GDP is actually dependant on growth in oil production but what I'm trying to say is that you can't (or, at least shouldn't) form a judgement based on a graph like the one above alone - it's meaningless.

Some of the green peaks occur before the yellow peaks and vice versa - you can't deduce a causation from that graph alone.

For as far as a newcomer is concerned why would it seem so outlandish that a change in GDP due to other reasons than energy (war, religion etc) would not reduce demand in other areas and hence a reduction in oil production? I'm just saying you need to be very careful about assimilating the information that's presented to you and not to take everything as gospel just because it's attractively packaged.

No, you are still missing the point of the graph. All it needs to demonstrate is that the size of the economy is dependent on how much energy it uses.

Are you suggesting that we can run the economy as it is configured today with just 10 million barrels per day of oil?

If you are, then there really isn't more to discuss. You have a fundamental disconnect with the physical and in particular with the energetic basis of the economy and until that is corrected it's not really possible to have a productive conversation. I don't think you are saying that, though.

If you are not saying that, then my point is made, and you are bringing up an irrelevant point.

A point might be that the graph is logically incapable of demonstrating "that the size of the economy is dependent on how much energy it uses." All it can show is correlation. Any analysis of causation, will depend on a model of some sort, which, no matter how plausible or true it might be, is obviously not in the graph.

is logically incapable of demonstrating "that the size of the economy is dependent on how much energy it uses." All it can show is correlation.

Sure, that would be an interesting philosophical argument but then there is no graph that I can produce that would fulfill your criteria.

And, at the end of the day, it doesn't change that point that in practical terms:

size of economy        energy used

You can put some factor in front of it or you can discuss causality until you are blue in the face but this fundamental relationship will always hold.

If the economy grows because there is increased demand and that in turn uses more energy, there is still a direct correlation between the size of the economy and total energy use.

If the economy grows because energy becomes more available first then demand follows, there is still a direct correlation between the size of the economy and total energy use. The result is the same in both cases.

Futz with a factor in front of the right hand term if you'd like (the so-called energy intensity of an economy, 'k' below):

size of economy    =    k  x  energy used

but discussing causality truly is irrelevant.

Sure, that would be an interesting philosophical argument but then there is no graph that I can produce that would fulfill your criteria.

Bingo! Precisely. That's very often the trouble with graphs. To riff on a hoary old graphical-user-interface meme, What You See Is All You Get. Oh, and it's not my criterion, I take no credit for inventing it. It's perfectly well-known, beyond the point of banality, that correlation cannot prove causation.

In this particular instance, your textual explanation comprises the model, or more precisely a simplified sketch of the model. Indeed, since there's no graph that can prove the point, then it's wisest not to over-rely on graphs, even if they look pretty, and simply recognize and deal with the need for the model.

And, of course, the act of adding the 'k' constant teaches us that while energy is probative, it might not quite be determinative; there might be other factors involved. That lesson, too, might prove instructive if ever it were pursued.

That's very often the trouble with graphs.

Sure, but I have no problem using graphs to make my points when I am as sure of what they are pointing to as I am.

My goal is to reach as many people as I can in the time available. Some people learn through text some learn visually. Moreover, I would say that most people understand things faster visually. (Please, let's not debate this. I'm making a general assertion that I think holds true in most cases. Everyone is free to disagree with my assertion.)

I have a video on my site that takes 50 minutes to tell a lot of the peak oil story. In total there are likely over 150 slides. I'm currently producing version 3 of the video, which is likely to have even more slides and will include material from the first session of my UnCrash Course to discuss the financial mess we are in.

Trust me: I don't depend on only one graph to make the case. I can, however, only dwell on one point only so long before I must keep the viewer moving along. It would be counter-productive for me to launch into a conversation saying "though graphs can only demonstrate correlation and not causation, here is why I think it is valid...yadda...yadda...yadda..."

I've got to keep people's attention and it's already hard enough with a 50 minute long video on this complex a topic in which there are so many fundamental myths and misunderstandings to dispel.

I watched the first section of your video and notice what I think to be a problem. You give a chart claiming the median age of an automobile (17 yr), light truck (16 yr) or heavy commercial vehicle (28 yr). It's my understanding that the number of cars and light trucks of any model year decline with an exponential function as the years pass as vehicles are wrecked or junked at end of life. Some years ago (from memory) the half life was about 8 years, but in more recent times, I understand that has been stretched to about 10 years as cars became more reliable.

As cars pass thru the transport system, the first buyer would be expected to use the most reliable portion of the life and pay a premium for that use with a high cost per mile for depreciation. Later buyers tend to be more interested in low cost transport and the greatest fraction of the per mile cost becomes fuel cost. As a result, low mpg vehicles tend to be removed from the fleet as the cost of fuel and maintenance rises. It is difficult to maintain newer vehicles with their more complicated fuel delivery systems and transmissions and they often reach the scrap yard while they might still be repaired if one had the funds to do so. The car companies charge a premium price for repair parts and make a large profit on these sales, which has the effect of removing cars sooner rather than later while promoting sales of new replacements.

In the car world, governments could take the initiative to provide incentives to replace the older cars with more programs like the "Cash for Clunkers" program. If this were to happen, the turnover could happen even faster than the usual half life shown above. I think this just shows how it may be possible to make a transition away from our near total reliance on oil for transport, but only if there is the political will to accomplish this appears in time. Of course, it may already be too late and lately we seem to be back sliding...

Edit: first paragraph, added years from chart.

E. Swanson

First, I think you are correct that the turnover could be handled better. I used a simple system and I'm thinking of using the system Belzowski and McManus use in this paper:

Alternative Powertrain Strategies And Fleet Turnover In The 21St Century

But their system, though I think it's more accurate, is actually worse: ~80% of the fleet is on alternative power trains by 2050 in both Europe and the U.S.

I haven't done the work of understanding how what you point out meshes with their system. I may never do it because...

Second, I think the age of the car is coming to an end. I think most (>80%) car companies are going to go bankrupt within the next 20 years.

I think that analyses like yours are just not relevant. Those methodologies have been constructed by people who think some form of BAU is going to continue. Kunstler mentions this often. People just can't envision a world without cars so everything is centered around them. GHG emissions are based on them. It's not "as oil declines, what public transit systems will we have ready?" it's "as oil declines, what alternative powertrain can we use instead of plain ICE engines?"

In my view, most people on the planet have bought their last car. If you don't believe that, just ponder what it will be like when the pyramid of debt I show elsewhere comes crashing down. Remember that 90% of cars are purchased on credit.

It won't be pretty. That's why Stoneleigh says housing prices could come down 90%. When credit goes, that's entirely possible.

Of course, I have no better crystal ball (or Magic 8 ball) than you do. However, claims that a rapid decline in oil availability will kill the car may be as off base as claiming that there will always be a future based on the cars of today. As Amory Lovins pointed out more than 40 years ago, the problem is that society wants various services and what we have developed the past century to provide those services has relied on fossil fuels, particularly oil, but, in the end, it's the service that's demanded, not the cars. There are other approaches to move people around besides the recent sorts of vehicles we see on the road in the US. We've seen cars built to run on electricity. We've already seen much more energy efficient vehicles that are car like, such as the Aptera and the VW 1 Liter. I personally built a vehicle based on a small motorcycle which produced 235 mpg at 55 MPH, which makes me think that 100 mpg vehicles would not be hard to produce. The problem is selling them when the alternative is what is available in today's auto showrooms fueled by today's still cheap fuels.

I think people will find ways to solve their transport needs, but the entire equation will change as a result. The other side of the problem is what will governments decide to do. If the government were to ration fuel, I would think people would rapidly move away from larger cars to smaller vehicles, including motorcycles. If the government decided to declare a state of emergency or if some sort of totalitarian control were imposed, again, much would be different. The government provides the money and if credit is not available, governments can provide other sources of incentive to get people to work at what ever looks to be a solution.

Like it or not, centrally planned economies can make things happen much faster than the present US system seems to do. You (and Stoneleigh) expect deflation and economic collapse, which would likely hit all the world's present economic system and leave governments scrambling to survive. Maybe governments will decide to take the wealth from those who claim it now, which has often happened before. Maybe the governments will become the only "employer" after all the private companies go bust. Maybe governments will ban cars and build fleets of buses or electric powered light rail and subways in cities, where some 80% of the people now live.

In short, I think it's premature to assume that the result of Peak Oil will be collapse. Think of it this way. If all vehicles were required to average 100 mpg (perhaps 5 times the present fleet mpg) and the number of people in each were to double, we could fuel this fleet with the roughly the same amount of ethanol now produced...

E. Swanson

There is much to what you say. After all, we've rebuilt before so we could re-organize, create a new currency and so on.

The question is: is it different this time that rebuilding will be more difficult? If so, how is it different?

I think it is and the reason is because this time we will be attempting to rebuild in a vastly denuded world. Once the infrastructure that is currently enabling out to obtain resources has rusted way (inside of 20 years?), reconstructing the system we have now will be one or two orders of magnitude more difficult.

We will struggle as we devote much of the remaining energy to rebuilding after serious climate change disasters. We will spend money that could be better spent elsewhere on regional wars. Protein from the ocean will become dear, so will calories from land as we continue to deplete our phosphorus and our soils.

We'll probably have something similar to the current-day car but traveling down miles and miles of paved roadway at highway speeds will be a thing of the past. Life will become very local and it probably will never be like it is today ever again.

7 billion people scrambling for a shrinking pie is just not going to go well.

7 billion people scrambling for a shrinking pie is just not going to go well.

Well, first off, a large fraction of those 7 billion are already living on the bottom of the pile, close to the land and local foods. If the economy stops growing and begins to decline, they will live and die as they always have. But, let's get back to the US, where less than 5% of that 7 billion has become accustomed to using 25% of the energy. Our problem in the US is that we went too far and developed an economy based on vehicles which usually produced around 20 to 25 mpg, including both cars and light trucks. Because of our cultural history during the 20th century, we appear to think it's right and proper for one person to drive around in those vehicles. That is to say, we currently have a transportation system which produces 20 to 25 seat miles per gallon (SMPG). But, in future, there won't be enough fuel for that to continue to be the cultural norm. There are obvious alternatives, such as increasing the fleet mileage, which is now written into law with a 35 mpg average for cars to be required within a few years. However, as long as we expect that one person should enjoy the freedom to drive alone in such a vehicle, the result would be only a small reduction in oil consumption.

But, with 2 people in 35 mpg car, the seat miles jumps to 70 SMPG. If there were a rapid push to build cars with 50 mpg and 2 people often rode in each, we would find 100 SMPG. I know for a fact that vehicles which achieve 100 mpg can provide 200 SMPG when two people are riding. But, is 200 SMPG so difficult? Think of a high efficiency mini van which might achieve 30 mpg when loaded with 7 passengers. There we have 210 SMPG. Or, consider a typical school bus which can carry 40 people while consuming fuel at 7 mpg, thus producing 280 SMPG. Can you see why I think that your k is not a constant, but a variable which is likely to change, once TSHTF?

E. Swanson

A rapid descent in gas availability would hopefully lead to the collapse of the auto culture. Many of us who live or have lived in cities where the auto is not really necessary understand the liberation this would entail. Don't try to reform the auto culture. Dismantle it and embrace more pleasant cities and healthful lifestyles. In the long run, it will be cheaper to have less mobility than to try to make personal mobility more efficient. We could also transition to EVs but this would be an incredibly expensive and dubious proposition. We need to cut our use of electricity, not think of new ways to expand its uses. It is hard enoughto make a dent in the fuel mix with renewable energy as it is.

You're still trying to save the car culture.

When 80%+ of the car companies have gone out of business because the populace can't get the credit needed to buy their product, the car culture will largely die.

I assert that we are heading for a new paradigm and you are still trying to continue the existing one, which I think won't exist any longer before the end of this decade.

You are making exactly the point that Kunstler keeps making: people are incapable of seeing the new world we will be entering, even here on TOD where people are arguably exposed to it more than anyone else.

If you think 280 SMPG is going to make a difference, more power to you. I think we'll be lucky to get fuel under tight rationing systems. Think Cuba at the beginning of their oil crisis.


I think you are also over looking a basic point, as did Belzowski and McManus, who looked at alternative power plants for vehicles similar to those now used. The largest impact of the oil shortage after Peak Oil will be on transportation. As your photo (and many others of similar sort, i.e. buses with people sitting on top, etc) show is that people will take advantage of what ever transport is available. If there isn't enough oil to fuel cars, then vans will be used. If there isn't enough oil to fuel vans, then buses will be used. As the amount of fuel used declines, the alternatives come to represent a larger and larger fraction until very little oil is required.

We now have a considerable production of ethanol as a fuel. The EROEI of ethanol isn't great, but the fact is, it's already out there being used. Bio diesel is also available in the market. There have been a fleet of buses fueled by CNG running in Atlanta since the 1996 Olympics. I doubt that these fuel types can replace the present quantities of petroleum based transport fuels, they could well meed the needs of metro transport using buses or vans instead of cars. Of course, that would require some sacrifice in convenience and independence but given the alternative, which is not traveling at all, I think these high SMPG options would be accepted by most people. I see things as more of a cultural problem than an engineering problem as most Americans have grown up with the car culture and would like to stick with it to THE END...

E. Swanson

"You're still trying to save the car culture."

Actually the minivan example seems to lean more towards the tap-tap culture. I suppose the Cuban camello would another step in some such direction.

It's not "as oil declines, what public transit systems will we have ready?" it's "as oil declines, what alternative powertrain can we use instead of plain ICE engines?"

In a scenario so bad as to require the second question to be discarded in favor of the first, and with housing prices crashed through the floor as per Stoneleigh, we could wonder about many more things. For starters, how could people afford more subway cars costing millions apiece, and that price escalating rapidly - or more tunnels to put them in? It's taken New York City seventy-some years, many of them in boom times, to fiddle-faddle with the Second Avenue Subway and they're still at it. How could people afford to cram themselves into the few cities (in the USA) dense enough to support useful public transit, when housing in such places is already beyond the reach of all but well-established lawyers, bankers, and the like?

Second, I think the age of the car is coming to an end. I think most (>80%) car companies are going to go bankrupt within the next 20 years.

aangel, last week or so you wrote that you expect that many new car companies will replace the bankrupt ones. This means the new ones will stay forever a small market.

This means the new ones will stay forever a small market.

It depends on what you are measuring. In $ (or equivalent) amounts, yes, the market will be "smaller." Though the new companies will make radically different products than the current batch, it's conceivable that we could get more "car" companies than we have now after a few decades. But I doubt the cumulative sales in $ or units will ever reach the level they are now.

The current companies will fail when sales shrink and most will not be able to react in time. They won't be able to reorganize because not many people will risk giving them the money to do that. A few governments might.

Some time after the 80% of the existing companies no longer exist, local or regional companies will spring up. They will not, at first, attempt to make highway capable cars. They might not even make vehicles beyond the neighborhood class we have now because then they have to meet a stricter level of safety standards. They will largely make products designed for a vastly poorer society.

However much this may be true, the graph you presented does not make this case. In fact, for the most of the 1980s and 1990s (the majority of the graph) oil production trends seems to FOLLOW economic trends rather than precede them.

In short, this graphic suggests that the level of oil production depends on the state of the economy, not the other way around.

I've made my case that the direction of causality is irrelevant. I understand that you think it is. That's ok. I just need most people to understand that the size of the economy is directly correlated with energy use. I don't bring up the topic of causality because it doesn't serve my purposes.

You are free to make your own presentation in which you discuss causality, of course :-).

You keep saying that causality is irrelevant, and then saying that it is clear that changes in the economy are dependent on changes in energy, which is causality.

Yes, I've been leaving out "the direction of" in front of causality and have attempted to add it in where I can still edit my comments.

But iagreewithnick was definitely referring to causal directionality and the context of most of my comments made it clear that directionality was the issue at hand.

My apologies for the confusion.

In short, this graphic suggests that the level of oil production depends on the state of the economy, not the other way around.

Then you have to ask the question: what would have happenend if the oilproduction could not rise ?
Strong economic growth went hand in hand with rise of oilproduction. In the '70's a lot of countries started to use gas instead of oil for electricity generation.

not the other way around

There are systems in nature called closed feedback loops.
Two things in the system are inter-dependent on each other (like the proverbial chicken and egg).

To ask, 'Which came first?' is senseless.

Your second point is a good one:
What would happen if the oil production could not rise ?

Well then, that is a boundary constraint on the system model.

Your second point is a good one:

sb, the first point is from Shiraz, not me.

A point might be that the graph is logically incapable of demonstrating "that the size of the economy is dependent on how much energy it uses." All it can show is correlation. Any analysis of causation, will depend on a model of some sort, which, no matter how plausible or true it might be, is obviously not in the graph.

A graph is perfectly able to show demonstrate causation. If you had some detailed signal that followed some other signal with high fidelity, you can show with a model that a high probability exists that it was causal. The model is in the graph because that is the transfer function.

Ahhh, I see, if you require "a model of some sort", then I guess that I would have to agree that this would increase the confidence in causality. So your inclusion of a model not being in the graph is a sly maneuever.

Here is a recent model of mine that predicts the distribution of terrain slopes for the USA. The causal agent is entropy and a single parameter curve that can only translate along the slope x-axis fits the data to within a few percent. This is interesting in that I am making the assertion that entropy alone is the causal agent. No other model will likely give this good an agreement, so I assert stochastic causality in this case. I wouldn't be so brazen without a model.


Well, perhaps it depends on the intended end result of the graph. If it's intended to raise awareness about energy issues for those that aren't so bothered about the fineprint and who have little prior interest / knowledge in the area, then it's probably a good thing.

I guess, personally, I'm just wary of 'infographics' as I've been duped once or twice (or more than I care to admit times) before.

But just for argument's sake, I would say that technically the graph doesn't explicitly demonstrate that the size of the economy is dependent on how much energy it uses (or, more specifically, how much oil it uses). Even if I hadn't done my background reading I would like to think that I would have enough sense to know the economy couldn't run on 10 million barrels per day. BUT, if I hadn't done my reading then there would be no real reason for me to suppose that our dependency on oil couldn't very easily be substituted for another energy source, say 'bio-fuels'. In this case it's very important whether an increase in GDP prompts an increase in oil production or vice versa. The two aren't equivalent. But, anyway, perhaps this an irrelevant distinction to make.

I still maintain that you shouldn't place blind faith on one set of graphs :-)

Of course there are other avenues to explore (i.e. substitutes) but the first point people need to get is that, as our economy is currently configured, growth requires oil. Thus, subtract oil and the economy will shrink.

The graph demonstrates that.

Surprisingly, many, many otherwise intelligent people are unable to see this fundamental relationship. It's really quite amazing the kinds of arguments people come up with to deny the following:

size of economy        energy used

However, if they don't get that, there is no point in having a conversation with them because everything that follows depends on this understanding.

That's fair enough. Might be worth producing a GDP / total energy graph, rather than oil. And then show them that a fair whack of the energy is produced from oil and is possibly not easily substitutable.

I thought about that but I think this graph is better because it focusses on oil and it does the job in one slide.

That's why Hirsch used it for one of his papers, too. (That's where I got it from.)

I use other graphs (see my video) to make the points you mention.

Yes, thinking about it I think it probably does make more sense to keep things simple for a slideshow presentation to the general public.

I guess my only remaining fear is that on the odd occasion there may be pedants (like me) in the audience who would immediately become sceptical if shown a graph like that, and may unwittingly become biased against the rest of the evidence presented. But that's probably only a few people here and there, and they will probably do their own research once made aware of the subject, so a small price to pay.

Exactly. It's all a balancing act.

If you were to raise your hand in one of my live presentations raising this point I would validate your concern then interact with you for only one or two transactions trying to get you to see my point. If after that you still didn't accept my point, I would say, "Can you provisionally accept this and then go back and confirm it later? I need to move on."

If you said that you couldn't provisionally accept it then I would say, "Still, I need to move on. If you still have a question about it at the end of the presentation, come up to see me afterward." I just can't let a live presentation get bogged down for one or two people (These are usually the engineers in the audience; no offense to the engineers here, I'm trained as an engineer and in my view we do have a deserved reputation for getting lost in the weeds and missing the big picture. It's how our brains are wired, I think.)

I would never spend as much time in a live presentation on the topic as I have here!

Besides, sometimes it takes a while for these things to click. Sometimes it even takes going home, sleeping on it and taking a hot shower. I just need most of the people to get the points before I move on.

I'm trained as an engineer and in my view we do have a deserved reputation for getting lost in the weeds and missing the big picture.


GDP proportional to energy use is so obvious only an engineer could NOT get it.

Sorry but reading that long argument about nothing did my head in. Maybe some of you folks could take up watercolor painting and get that right hemisphere working a bit harder.

I feel better now, keep up the great work.

EDIT. Why are ya'all talking about collapse in future tense. From my comfy chair down under it looks like catabolic processes in the USA are well under way - infrastructurally, financially, economically, politically, sociologically, psychologically and spiritually.


that GDP is proportional to energy use is so obvious only a [fool,] engineer [or other] would NOT "get it".

Sorry. Not ROF or LMFAO (lauging my fool a$$ off).

"GDP" is a fool word made for consumption by fools.
"Economics" is a fool's-gold "science" invented for consumption by fools.

Some engineers just dumb out refuse to be fooled by the fool words.

At present, the USA has one of the highest GDP's in world. [ i.mage.+]
Yet we produce almost nothing.
How can that be?

The answer is that we "produce" illusions.
So-called credit default swaps is a 'prime' (rate) example.

It may take very little in the way of energy to "produce" illusions.

While I would grant to you that the production of real stuff often takes a considerable amount of energy, nothing in the definition of "GDP" limits it to the production of real stuff. We can have a very high GDP simply from "producing" nano-energy illusions. Can I interest you in the purchase of a debt relief scam? (Honestly, I'm merely trying to increase our nation's "GDP". It's a purely patriotic act on my part. /sarcasm)

Oh, look! Another batch of weeds just grew!


That is not legitimate block quoting. For the record I was trying to point out that CLEVER people may miss the obvious through over analysing and it was with some degree of jocularity. You have intentionally altered my words to create a brutal insult, perhaps you have a bright future in politics (jocular again).

Sometimes a simple metaphor can get the messager across eg "If I wish to make 1 piece of furniture using electric tools I will need X amount of electricity to do the job - if I wish to make 3 pieces of furniture then I will need to use MORE electricity, probably not 3 times as much due to mass production, so Energy = k * X (hence variability of "k").

Production of real goods with practical utility value requires and approximately proportional amount of energy to create them.

The only fool here is me for getting sucked into replying.


Sorry, I wasn't trying to paraphrase you.
The comment was no reflection on you.

It's target was the word "GDP".

GDP is a nonsense word as are so many others used in the so-called dismal "science" of economics.


"Why are ya'all talking about collapse in future tense."

Good question...

Agreed...the process has begun, in my view.

Depending on your point of view, it began 10, 20, 30+ years ago. Watching those TOD links recently on lectures given by Professor Bartlett and Dr Tainter leaves me thinking that looking for single point in time to say when 'it' began/when 'it' will begin, is not something worth spending a lot of energy on.

To me, it is a continuing process of change and demarcations are essentially arbitrary. The first question asked by most is 'when' and the dialogue is then within the context of 'how long have I got?'.

I think 'how long have I got?' is the wrong question because regardless of how events unfold, the proper question is 'how soon can I start living in a sustainable way compatible with what we know of the resources that will be available to us?' (or something like that). And the answer is 'immediately'.

"Why are ya'all talking about collapse in future tense."

"Collapse" is not a global thing, but rather a localized change in Complexity (Tainter type complexity) thing.

Think about when the USSR "collapsed". Clearly the whole world did not collapse in synchronization with that event. Your relevant world situation did not change at that moment.

Each of us occupies a different part of the staircase-wise collapsible system that collapses mostly in localized parts of it rather than all at once.

So the real question is: When is my occupied part of the complex system scheduled to collapse and what other part of the system can I try to escape to?

[ i.mage.+]

Absolutely, Tainter type simplification would mean different things to different localities.

But I think the notion 'escaping' is still fraught. Certainly, 'escaping' from a locality where simplification might have low survivability due to violence/etc is valid. Perhaps 'escape' may mean moving to a place that has already simplified so that you avoid('escape') the transition in your own locality.

But there is no escaping 'the brokenness of the system' I think. You will just consume precious resources trying (as we are doing on a macro scale currently).

Well I have said it was energy all along, not just oil. So what percentage of economic growth is oil responsible for. Well, the answer is simple, it is the same percentage as oil represents of the total energy input. But there have been studies done to show the correlation of energy and economic growth. No use arguing about it, just look at this study.

Energy and Economic Growth

While a fully worked out alternative model of the growth process does not seem to exist,
extensive empirical work has examined the role of energy in the growth process. The
principal finding is that energy used per unit of economic output has declined, but that this is
to a large extent due to a shift in energy use from direct use of fossil fuels such as coal to the
use of higher quality fuels, and especially electricity. When this shift in the composition of
final energy use is taken into account energy use and the level of economic activity are found
to be tightly coupled.

Ron P.

Of course I totally agree with your point that energy use and economic activity are tightly coupled.

I wonder about this statement, however: "So what percentage of economic growth is oil responsible for. Well, the answer is simple, it is the same percentage as oil represents of the total energy input."

I suspect that oil plays a proportionally larger role than the ratio of primary energy use it represents but that is just a suspicion.

Criminy, that would be an interesting (i.e. damn tough) question to sort out.

"This leaves us, in my view, only two options below: the green line and the orange line."

Its hard for me to disagree with this on an intellectual level. But....f we dismiss the possibility of the blue line, are we making the orange line more likely? Society is not wired to plan ahead with the green line in mind--i.e. a creative descent. Peak oil-er types are wired this way, the average optimistic, rugged-individualist American is not. The pre-requisite for getting heard in this country is to at least shoot for the blue-line, and then honestly list the challenges in getting there. Even if turns out to be impossible and we only get a quarter of it done, by shooting for the blue line we are more likely to get the best green line we can get. A view limited to green/orange options either makes people run for the hills or dismiss you for a crank--thus society takes no action, thus the orange line is more likely.


there is definitely value in what you say about shooting for the blue line. However, a competing point of view is that the blue line is not at all possible and that we need to start preparing for the inevitability of contraction, the orange line. That will have us use our remaining resources more effectively.

That's the view that I advocate: prepare for contraction and start making choices that are appropriate for that.

For instance, I happen to believe that when the deflationary spiral hits full force, most clean tech startups will go broke as the market falls out from under them. I witnessed this first hand when I got caught in the dot com bust in 2000. I couldn't raise the next round of funding and had to lay off all the employees.

Now it's true that some startups may make it and if you have a large and diversified portfolio it may be worth it for you to invest in one. But if you don't, wouldn't it to be more prudent to insulate your house, bank money (or whatever) to be able to keep paying property taxes, learn a new skill that will earn you currency post-crash and so on?

The set of actions that are appropriate for the blue line really are quite different from those that prepare someone for the orange line and most people will have to choose. Or, by inaction, will unknowingly have made their choice.

Great post aangel. I particularly agree with the staircase model, although it was probably drawn not long after the 08 debacle. The arrow is now much closer to the next step down point.

As far as future possible scenarios goes, probably somewhere between the green and red line is where we are headed. Too much love for raging through oil to go the green route completely, and some sanity not to go the pure mad max route either. Right in the middle where the super wealthy will still be tearing up the pot holed pavement in Hummers while the masses recycle copper from abandoned suburbia to get a few McMuffins, but also some local communities have set up Kunstler type farming communes.

Yeah, I've said it here before, but the rich can afford oil at any price. And labor has no power, given the number of people on the planet.

All of the metropolitan areas of the U.S. have areas where the wealthy live. They will sure need all the help they can get in the future maintaining their estates, country clubs, and neighborhoods, and they will find the needed help in a willing and starving populace.

Butlers and porters are the jobs of the future.

The suburbs are dead! - but that doesn't mean you will be happy in the city, riding a bike around, living the good life. You will be riding your bike to the mansion two blocks down where you will work, long hours with little pay. You will consider yourself lucky if you don't have to be a rickshaw driver or live in a drafty, forgotten corner generously supplied by your employer.

I know some quite happy rickshaw drivers.

Thanks, PE. Yes, I agree that the arrow is closer to the next step down.

Your charts are ridiculous. They have no intervals on the X or Y axes. They are worse than useless.

"Time"? What time? Seconds? Weeks? Years? Centuries?

"Economy"? And the last one has this vague label, "industrial ascent." What kind of units are those?

I take the time to answer this post before I turn in because it is so utterly specious.

specious is as specious does

You're not being serious, are you?

And what is the source of Mike’s rage?

Excellent question, I don't think Mike knows himself. Admittedly I only skimmed the article, but I thought this paragraph near the end summed it up:

This does not mean I am in any way sanguine about the future. We've hit the global trifecta--peak oil, climate change, and overpopulation--and I fear that the "rewards" are coming in our lifetimes. Glibness, showboating, and pseudo-analysis are the last things we need from commentators. I thought I would continually oppose this din of voices in writing, but I've changed my mind yet again: Who the frig am I but yet another of those voices?

Hmmm..., let's see now, to paraphrase:

  • I fear we are doomed, but damn all those fear mongering "doomers"!
  • And damn all that glib-showboating-pseudo-analysis, just like what I'm writing now!

If it wasn't so sad it would be funny.



Yep, that about sums it up.

Yep, that about nails it. That's why I've lost any interest in interacting further with him. Life is too short to involve oneself in others' schizophrenia, if one doesn't have to.

Many posters here have expressed the same sentiment that the decline will be in steps, not smooth. And if this does happen just plain common sense would tell you that eventually some of the hardest hit places will, sooner or later, be cut off from transportation fuels permanently.

Seen the news out of Pakistan and Afghanistan today? I guess you could say, eventually some of the hardest hit places will, sooner or later, be cut off from transportation fuel:

3)most of the time

Where is Pakistan today? My guess from all the reports we've been reading on the DBs is that, some places are between 1) and 2), while some parts may even be somewhere between 2) and 3). I think it's definitely worth keeping an eye on the situation in Pakistan.

Alan from the islands

I'm still reeling my way slowly through Tainter's Collapse of Complexity You-Tubes.

But perhaps, may I suggest(?) that the collapse steps of a nation are tied to how the complexity network of the given nation's job functions is structured? (i.e. number of specialized roles and reliance/ dependence of each specialized job function on specializations that collapse just before it)

See interdependence of jobs in a modern civilization: [ i.mage.+]
[i]= image, [+]= more info

what a prankster
after his clear in depth analysis of the nature of civilization and complexity
and illustrating its inherent problems
he offers for a solution
"don't solve problems"
how honest, slackers of the world rejoice you now have a academic justification to go along with the philosophic one for doing nothing
you cant solve a paradox and any system of logic eventually runs into one
at that point what will you rely on
let the bottom fall out of your bucket and give a hearty (zen) laugh

what a prankster after his clear in depth analysis of the nature of civilization and complexity and illustrating its inherent problems he offers for a solution "don't solve problems"

Well, it's just a BIT more nuanced than that. Admittedly I haven't watched the videos (thanks for the link Step Back!) but I have the book and if I understand correctly his argument is:

  • Complex societies generally don't understand the problem of diminishing marginal returns.

  • Not understanding the nature of their predicament they attempt to solve increasingly complex problems with an inappropriate world view.

  • All such misguided attempts only serve to make the problems worse, until finally the problems overwhelm their ability to cope.

The alternative, which is to voluntarily "de-complexify", aside from the obvious problem of getting everyone to volunteer to lower their standard of living, also carries the risk of making the society vulnerable to neighbors who have no such compunction.

All of which brings us back to where you started, or "How I learned to stop worrying and love being a slacker".


A number of Tainter's fundamental assumptions are wrong, including notably the assertion that greater complexity implies greater energy. In fact, one major reasons that things become more complex is to reduce energy usage and increase efficiency. For example, electronic engine controls and complex valve train designs are more complex than magnetos and flathead pushrod designs, but they increase gas mileage. And innovations are often in the direction of simplicity, such as going to a jet engine (two fans on a shaft in a pipe) from a piston engine (with its crankshaft, cylinders, pistons, valves, etc.).

Tainter's rather long discussion of the collapse of the Roman Empire is not persuasive either. The Early Middle Ages appears to be more complex than the Roman Empire. The heirarchical regularity of the Roman government and society was replaced by many governments, cultures, languages, and modes of living. Agriculture and other aspects of technology continued to innovate with the introduction of the three-field system and the horse collar. Mining, metalworking, and the production of armaments continued to evolve. One of the things he mentions, the shift from foot soldiers to cavalary, was in response to defeats of Roman legions by Gothic cavalry.

This illustrates that it is societal rigidity and lack of adaptability that is more indicative of societal collapse than complexity per se.

greater complexity implies greater energy

One big problem we have is lack of words in our vocabulary.

Our civilization does not have words to express what Tainter appears to be trying to message to us.
"Complexity" is a misleading word. Unfortunately there are probably no better ones.

For those who are late to the Tainter "complexity" party, he is not using the word in the engineering sense.
Instead he is looking at specialized job functions and how they depend one on the next to keep the society going.

A "simple" society would be a hunter/gatherer clan that has 1 Chief, 3 Hunters and 4 Gatherers. No other assignments for all other jobs. Everyone has to be a jack of all trades in every other department. In other words if a hunter gets cut during a hunt, he can't say, heck I'm no doctor but it looks to me as if you got to get that cauterized or you'll die. No. he is the doctor. There is no passing off of responsibilities and know hows.

Tainter "complexity" has nothing to do with energy consumption in a direct way.
What Tainter said in the videos is that oil and such allows each of us to have many hidden slaves in the forms of appliance, etc. The "complexity" is hidden from us in that sense. Oil allows us to be one-eyed men with a blindfold (black patch) over the good eye while we dwell in the land of the blind.

That level of organization doesn't last long. One member will be better at treating wounds with the local leaves and berries and will become the "doctor" (as in "witch"?). The old guy who can't keep up with the rest on the hunt will stay behind and make arrowheads and spear points, becoming the flint knapper. One of the gatherers will stop gathering, because she is better at preparing hides and sewing garments. And it all goes down hill from there. But by increasing social complexity and taking best advantage of varied abilities and talents, the total welfare of the group is increased. Ultimately you get to a vehicle assembly line where a few hundred people are doing a few thousand specific tasks.

The only thing that allows our economy to create enough jobs to get down below 10% unemployment is complexity. Only by creating new and different roles for employees can we justify hiring new employees. Small businesses start up to produce new products and services in order to shoulder their way into profitability.

I don't recall him saying anything about energy substituting for slaves in the five videos that I watched. Certainly Rome depended heavily on slaves, and what was apparently a highly regimented and regular form of agriculture. Gothic, German and Frankish agricultural systems appear to have become more complex and better adapted to the varying terrains.

"That level of organization doesn't last long."

Interesting claim. As far as we can tell, that level of organization lasted for tens of thousands of years.

"The only thing that allows our economy to create enough jobs to get down below 10% unemployment is complexity."

In traditional societies, generally there is full 'employment,' but I do think that your claim holds for a money economy (generally the only kind that economists are interested in, or can even recognize).

In traditional societies there may or may not be full "employment" depending on the availability of game to be hunted and fruits and vegetables to be gathered. Certainly it helps to occasionally assemble war parties and kill off the neighboring clans to enlarge the hunting grounds. In severe climates, the elderly will commit suicide during hard winters in order to reduce the available "work force" to match the available "employment". Infanticide of any baby that is even slightly handicapped or deformed also helps.

Whoha guys!

I was just trying to make a very simple (not complex) hypothetical to get across the idea of what Tainter means by his use of the word "complexity".

Obviously, in the real world, there are men and women. That's complexification right there.

Then, yes, there are many clans and they would be clashing with each other for limited resources.

Example: a Neanderthal clan bumps into a Modern-sapien clan and they are both chasing after the last of the woolly mammoths. Complexity naturally ensues for one group and simplification for the others.

[ i.mage.+]

Good points, all. Of course, many elderly in complex societies also commit suicide, and abortion makes infanticide less necessary.

(Some have proposed that evidence of wide spread female infanticide, in particular, in many early societies was an especially effective way of controlling population--a village of 100 women and one (very busy) man can become about N times larger in about N years; but a village of 100 men and one woman will only grow by about one person per year, no matter how busy the guys are.)

So what are we make of this talk by Hanna Rosin? I'd like to see more data on her assertion about couples now preferring having daughters over sons. However if we suddenly have a surge in girls being born then we might see an even greater increase in global population a generation or two down the line. However I very much doubt that she is peak oil aware and that she has connected the dots between the fact the entire service economy upon which her thesis rests is doomed. Anyways her her talk for what it is worth...

Hanna Rosin: New data on the rise of women


Thanks for the video and insights. I guess we're all girly men now?

Some of Kunstler's creative writings seem to be wishful thinking that the long emergency will restore men and women to their 'rightful' 'natural' roles. Who knows.

The point I made earlier was crudely biological. If all the new women being born feel so in control of their futures that they only have as many kids as they want, or don't have any kids if they don't want to, even population weighted toward women could coincide with lower birth rates.

I definitely agree that there is a crisis with male identity going on. This has been a source of angry energy on the right for a while.

But of course she was quietly leaving out the fact that the highest levels of decision making--CEOs, senators, and presidents--are still very largely dominated by males. And at the lowest level of income, there is still a high level of female impoverishment:


"According to the United States Census Bureau, impoverished homes are still most likely to be led by single females."

(Though this data is from '07, and when people crunch the numbers from the most recent census, they may well find a different picture.)

So at the highest level, especially in the US, men still mostly rule. At the lowest level, it's a bit murky. But at the (rapidly shrinking) mid level, women do seem to be making headway while men are, relatively speaking, losing out.

I don't pretend to have any crystal ball to tell me where all this may lead.

A number of Tainter's fundamental assumptions are wrong, including notably the assertion that greater complexity implies greater energy.

Although I didn't get the time yet to view Tainter's presentations, I think he meant something different with complexity than your examples.
What about mining all the elements in all the seven continents of the world, necessary to make all the things you need or use in daily life ? And transport them to the factories, transport all the parts, components and ready products with 'just in time deliveries' to every corner of the earth ?

Actually, wasn't he talking about the interactions between various support structures? It is true that with a single column in support, it only takes that one column failing to bring down the load, but that one column tends to be extremely thick since it is obvious that without it, things fail. With a very complex support structure, you can have many slim sticks holding up a great deal; and, if any one of them fails, that can bring down the whole edifice.

Making it worse, since our systems come not from design, but by evolution, we don't know which sticks are vital, how strong they are, and how long they might last. Our society is extremely complex. Whether that saves energy or not is not the issue. What is holding it together? Now THAT is important!

We are talking about a financial system already imperiled by hubristic manipulation in the exercise of pure greed. How much more can it handle?


I think that does have some merit. When things get so complex that no one really understands them, it becomes very difficult to know how to make changes that won't bring the whole thing down.

In the case of the intentionally complex financial instruments, the only people who understood them, the "smartest men in the room," had not interest in the long term sustainability of the whole system--only their own short term, enormous gains.

Part of our hubris is thinking that we will always be able to handle whatever levels of complexity we create.

Elsewhere in this DrumBeat I point out that the English language has no word for what Tainter is trying to say.

Imagine that you lived in a culture (i.e. Polynesian, Easter Isle) that had no word for "snow" and you were trying to talk to your clan-mates about the many kinds of different snow.

Time to start inventing some words, then??

ComplexTainteripity ?

defintion: Complexity of the Tainter type


edit: better: Tainterplexity

"Not understanding the nature of their predicament they attempt to solve increasingly complex problems with an inappropriate world view."

Tainter : "everything the Romans did was a logical response to circumstances. without these steps the empire would have collapsed sooner"

their actions were not misconceived due to a inappropriate world view. they built something that couldn't be maintained. they didn't apply the wrong solution, there was no solution. same as are empire. can we "voluntarily de-complexify" our society and transform it into something that wont eventually fall under the weight of its self? what would that look like? what are we trying to accomplish with civilization?

slacker is just a new word for cynic


Britain is one example of a power walking away from empire. Of course, you could say they just replaced military empire with financial empire. But usually empires are either swallowed up by other empires (Persian by Alexandrian), break into smaller empires or kingdoms (Alexandrian), or collapse under a number of internal and external pressures (Roman, though vestiges and 'ghosts' of that empire continued for many centuries--Eastern, 'Holy Roman'...)

their actions were not misconceived due to a inappropriate world view. they built something that couldn't be maintained.

Leading directly, of course, to the painfully obvious conclusion that their desire to maintain the un-maintainable was inappropriate to the reality of their situation.

I suppose there are more pointless activities than raising flimsy straw-man arguments, but at the moment I'm at a loss to think what they are.


Tainter can't even stomach a steady-state economy.

"There are people who advocate what is called a steady-state economy. I am not one of them...a steady-state economy would have repercussions in employment levels, in well being, in popular discontent that would not be desirable."

Boy, is he going to be surprised.

See, perhaps its simply a matter of the reader's perception of the demise of the (ridiculously profligate) energy use habits of the US. For a US citizen, a disaster. For the rest of the world, not so much....

I have a question stemming from my ignorance. The Alaska pipeline will most likely be fixed in a relatively short time frame, but maybe not before shortages show up in the west coast refineries. I can understand that Californians should be worried about short term shortages and higher prices, but why should WTI go up so much? I mean, I don't think very much oil will be diverted from the Gulf of Mexico or elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

According to the Int. Oil and Gas Newspaper today, Brent oil in now at $96.47. WTI is still around $7 under that price. Would a company or country rather sell oil at $96.47 or $89.xx?

So, what you are suggesting is that even if the west coast gets a shortage from the pipeline shut-down, nobody will divert a tanker there because the Brent price is better?

Might have to do with what I've been searching for since yesterday: cold restart plans for the pipeline. I can't find anything indicating it is even possible to restart it once the oil has gotten cold. Hope I'm wrong, but this thing could be down until summer.

Oooo... I never even thought about that. No fun trying to start anything at -40 or even -20... get yourself a cup of coffee and wait till the Spring thaw comes around.

A total leak of 10 gallons I heard (all contained in a pump house).

10 BARRELS, Ignorant. So roughly 400 gallons.

Might have to do with what I've been searching for since yesterday: cold restart plans for the pipeline. I can't find anything indicating it is even possible to restart it once the oil has gotten cold. Hope I'm wrong, but this thing could be down until summer.

So far, cold restart probably won't be a problem. Temperatures have been rather mild, at least by Alaska standards. The last few days have barely been below zero F at Prudhoe and South along the pipeline route. Also, keep in mind that the entire pipeline is well insulated, so it takes awhile to cool down, even if the air temperature were well below zero. TAPS has been in operation for more than 30 years. This is hardly the first time there has been an umplanned shutdown.

How will the shutdown of production affect Alaska's state budget? 90% of tax revenue is said to come from oil taxes. Can production be increased in subsequent weeks to make up for the period of reduced production?

Ha, oil left in the ground means a softer tax depletion curve.

More details including some info on Cold Restart


TYPE/AMOUNT OF PRODUCT SPILLED: Crude oil appears to have been released from a concrete-encapsulated section of the booster pumps’ underground discharge piping outside the booster pump building. Oil flowed into the basement where a pipe pass through the wall. There are several pipes in the concrete casing, and the leaking pipe has not yet been definitively identified. As of 10:00 AM Moday, APSC estimated that approximately 750 gallons (18 barrels) of oil had been recovered from the building. It has not yet been determined whether oil has been released into the ground outside the concrete pipe casing and booster pump building.

...SOURCE CONTROL: The lines supplying crude oil to the booster pumps were shut in, and workers are preparing to isolate and drain the discharge piping. Oil remaining in the piping and/or spill pathway is still seeping slowly into the booster pump building basement.

...TAPS restart: APSC staff are continuing to plan and implement procedures necessary to safely return the TAPS line to operation. These include procedures for both a normal restart and a cold restart, which may be necessary if certain conditions result from an extended winter shutdown. A cold restart is a more complex restart process involving additional preliminary steps such as monitoring pipe temperatures, periodically circulating oil through equipment, implementing various freeze-up prevention measures, and installing additional piping and equipment at pump stations and other locations on the TAPS line.

WEATHER: Unseasonably warm temperatures along the length of the TAPS line are beginning to give way to more seasonable cold. The forecast for Prudhoe Bay:

Today (Monday) – areas of freezing drizzle and fog, scattered snow showers, high 25 to 30º F, west wind 10 to 15 mph.
Tonight – patchy fog, low 5 to 10º F, light wind becoming east to 10 mph.
Tuesday – Partly cloudy, high 5 to 10º F, east wind 10 to 15 mph.

Real time weather from Pump Station 1

Weather Underground PWS KAKDEADH2

Plan now to attempt a temporary restart of the pipeline before completing repair work


Safely returning the pipeline to service, while protecting people and the environment, is the primary goal of Unified Command.

Cold conditions and lowering crude oil temperatures within the pipeline are a serious concern. There are technical risks associated with a prolonged cold-weather shutdown.
Waiting to restart the pipeline until the bypass line is in place increases the chance of ice formation and wax build- up within the pipeline. A cleaning pig located between mileposts 419 and 420 could potentially disable critical pump station equipment due to increased ice and wax accumulation if left in place too long. If wax or ice buildup led to damages to TAPS this could shut down the pipeline for a more extended period of time and potentially affect other North Slope facilities.

Unified Command is awaiting regulatory approval on a plan to restart the pipeline long enough period to increase temperatures in tanks and the pipeline, and reduce the potential for freezing or cold crude conditions. This would move the cleaning pig to a location where it won’t risk damaging pump station equipment. This temporary startup would be a prudent and necessary measure to manage the potential risks associated with an extended cold-weather shutdown. The line would shut down again while the bypass piping is installed at Pump Station 1.

Concerns of ice in Alaska oil pipeline increase

Alyeska's Katie Pesznecker said there is a device known as a cleaning pig in the pipeline that could cause a problem when the pipeline is permanently restarted. When the oil begins moving again, the cleaning pig could push ice and naturally occurring wax into machinery and damage equipment, causing another shutdown, she said.

Alyeska hopes to temporarily restart the pipeline to move the cleaning pig to an area along the pipeline where it could be sidelined and captured. Pesznecker said a temporary restart would also warm the oil in the pipe.

Meanwhile, work continued on installing a bypass pipe so that the pipeline that serves the nation's largest oil field could be restarted. The shutdown that began at 8:50 a.m. Saturday is turning out to be one of the longest since the trans-Alaska pipeline began operating in 1977.

Unified Command is awaiting regulatory approval on a plan to restart the pipeline long enough period to increase temperatures in tanks and the pipeline, and reduce the potential for freezing or cold crude conditions.

Surprised no comments on this. Starting the pipeline with a hole in it leaking crude inside the main pump building suggests someone is really worried about icing.

If the leak is relatively small and manageable, might they keep the pipeline running until they have the fix ready to quickly install? Or maybe even until warmer weather?

They have said the pipeline will be shutdown again once the pig has reached Pump Station 8 where it can be removed.

No crude leak into a building housing pumps is "small and manageable" in my opinion unless and until someone can prove that to me without doubt. I presume whoever gave the go-ahead has been convinced beyond doubt that they don't risk an even larger catastrophe.

And what about the possibility that there's a common flaw sitting in the same position inside concrete in every pump station just waiting to fail?

Oh well we don't have the information those on-site do but this start-up of a busted pipeline smacks of desperation to me - at least without further information.

The Alaska pipeline will most likely be fixed in a relatively short time frame,...

That depends on whether they decide to bypass the leak or dig up the old pipe and fix it.

Alaska Pipeline Closes

Alyeska said it didn't know how long it would take to reopen the pipeline system, which carries oil from northern Alaska to the southern coastal city of Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in North America...

Alyeska said it is considering bypassing the damaged underground line using nearby pipes...

Alyeska said the source of the leak appeared to be underground piping that is encased in concrete.

So if they just bypass it then the pipeline could be up in a few days. But if they decide to break up the concrete and replace the whole thing it could take weeks.

Ron P.

The pipeline system holds several days worth of oil at the south end...if it shuts, they can still load tankers at the same rate for a little while. I don't know how much they can store at the north....it does seem like there would be problems when storage hits capacity and the wells and pipeline have to stop.

This would be an interesting topic for an expert....at 700,000 bpd and a transit time of 11 days, we're talking almost 10 million barrels effectively idling in the pipe. A flow rate reduced to 5% of normal means this stuff will cool considerably between heating stations (I think they do that...read it somewhere).

On a related note: It looks like the depletion rate for production is really taking a bite out of daily oil flows in this pipe anyway. When will the cost of fixing this old pipeline become too expensive for the declining flow rate? It looks, to me, like $50 million flows down the pipe per day. What about in five years?

If you want to know how the mass media is going to approach the subject of peak oil, and issues causing peak oil, like the disintegration of the energy infrastructure in North America, one need to look no further than the coverage of the Alaskan pipeline problems. For example:

The shutdown of the line, which runs from the Prudhoe Bay oilfield to the tanker port of Valdez in southern Alaska, has not yet affected shipments, and tankers are being loaded on schedule at Valdez, meaning there is no immediate danger of restricted oil supply.

The main point being is that anything that is not “immediate” should not concern us, even though at best West Coast refiners will mostly grind to a halt in about two weeks if the Alaskan pipeline remains closed (which it may). Apparently two weeks is too far in the future to worry about.

The news from Alaska, or should I say the lack of significant news from Alaska, leads me to believe that West Coast refiners may have to start bidding immediately for the type and quality of oil suitable for their refineries where they can find it. The main type of substitute crude for most West Coast refineries likely will have to come from the West Coast of South America or the Middle East, although there may be a very limited ability to ship oil cross-country. There may be other sources of which I am not familiar with. So refiners must buy the oil now so that it could possibly arrive before Alaskan supplies run out. Depending on where they find that oil, and in sufficient quantities, they may or may not have enough oil on hand for refining in about two weeks from now.

Even if they succeed with the by-pass of the leak described here elsewhere, there remains some doubt as to how fast the oil in the pipeline can get moving again.

So to answer the above question by eastex, West Coast refiners must outbid other users to get supplies away from the normal oil buyer, which would usually raise prices – unless there was an oversupply already.

Charles - All good points. As far as the MSM view I'll point out what is probably obvious to many: the oil tankers are not load from the pipeline. They get their loads from a huge tank farm system in Valdez. If the pipeline exploded today they would still be loading tankers as if nothing happend for many days if not weeks. The offloading crunch will develop as the tank farms dry up...not until then. A rather simple concept but doesn't fit a MSM sound bite very well.

Charles - All good points. As far as the MSM view I'll point out what is probably obvious to many: the oil tankers are not load

I suspect it wouldn't be that hard to get tankers to come into west coast ports. Maybe several days delay there, but if the Valdez buffers last long enough it might be enough. Of course the refineries are probably tuned for the chemistry of the Alaskan crude, I can imagine they might lose some efficiency, and maybe a little bit of output.

Bloomberg reported today that other possible substitute oil sources are Russia and Oman.

A VLCC (large tanker) was hired yesterday for a journey from Russia to the US, as well one from South America. On an average week, the amount of oil from one very large tanker (about 2 million barrels) is shipped from both Russia and Columbia. However I don't claim to be a shipping expert, and it's not entirely clear if these were regularly planned imports or additional substitute imports for the West Coast. I think the latter.

Does anyone know how long the transport time is from Russia to the US?

""boost phase: 3 to 5 minutes (shorter for a solid rocket than for a liquid-propellant rocket); altitude at the end of this phase is typically 150 to 400 km depending on the trajectory chosen, typical burnout speed is 7 km/s.
midcourse phase: approx. 25 minutes—sub-orbital spaceflight in an elliptic orbit; the orbit is part of an ellipse with a vertical major axis; the apogee (halfway through the midcourse phase) is at an altitude of approximately 1,200 km; the semi-major axis is between 3,186 km and 6,372 km; the projection of the orbit on the Earth's surface is close to a great circle, slightly displaced due to earth rotation during the time of flight; the missile may release several independent warheads, and penetration aids such as metallic-coated balloons, aluminum chaff, and full-scale warhead decoys.
reentry phase (starting at an altitude of 100 km): 2 minutes—impact is at a speed of up to 4 km/s (for early ICBMs less than 1 km/s); see also maneuverable reentry vehicle.""

Choose Wisely,

The Martian

In the wake of Tucson, that sort of illogical deviation is a bit wierd.

Yeah. Precisely.

Post Wisely Please, Martian.

In the wake of Tuscon? Are you serious? I suggest you BAU kids lighten up a little. Been watching a little too much propaganda on MSNBC? Turn off the TV children. Why not worry about something much more serious than a wack job with a gun? Why not storm the local Bars and call for "Language control" about Beer/Whiskey advertisement?

11,000 people died in 2008....11,000!

""According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 37,261 people died in traffic crashes in 2008 in the United States (latest figures available), including an estimated 11,773 people who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Drunk driving fatalities accounted for 32% of all traffic deaths last year, that is, on average someone is killed in an alcohol-impaired driving crash every 45 minutes in the U.S. (Source: NHTSA/FARS, 2009)""

Choose your priorities Wisely,

The Martian

Nice sidetrack.

The point I'm making about Tucson, and I would suspect LenGould might have been as well, is that you tossed in a joke about ICBM rocketry minutiae when they were talking about Crude Tanker Travel Times.

Maybe that felt really witty, but to me it's a boring reversion to Gun Jokes and 'Total War' jokes that is at the heart of the discussion that has followed the Arizona shooting. I'm saddened by the violence, which actually does deserve our attention and thought, no less than the continuing tragedy of Highway/Alcohol deaths you point to.. but I'm much more deeply troubled by people who are stuck in violent imagery, and insisting on planting it into every nook that they can..

You sign off with this promotion towards Wisdom. It rings very hollow..

Alyeska Said to Plan Alaska Pipe Restart This Week

The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. is planning to try to return the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline System to service this week, according to a person familiar with the plans...

“Inspectors will continue to assess the situation and work with PHMSA leadership to determine next steps,” according to a statement from the U.S. regulator.

I guess we can look for a restart of the pipeline later this week, likely Thursday or Friday.

Ron P.

Other sources say that repairs will be complete by January 14, although it remains unclear if they plan to restart the full pipeline then too, if that were possible. Generally federal regulatory agencies will not approve a full and quick restart, but I have seen nothing as to how approvals might go.

Meanwhile wholesale gasoline prices along the West Coast US today went up 7.5 cents/gallon relative to the futures price. Adding in the futures price, if prices hold, West Coast consumers can expect a price rise of about 10 cents a gallon soon.

Re: Thomas Malthus: Wrong Yesterday, Right Today?, up top:

I should have known before I clicked on it. It's from Forbes.

Nonetheless there were a couple of interesting assertions. First that the EROEI for electricity is .02. From previous posts on TOD I was led to believe that that meaningless figure was .6.

In any case the article claims that population is not the problem, but inefficiency in production is. The answer is not population control, but technological advancement in efficiency.

The problem with that is the author doesn't spell out the details of how this will be achieved. Where in the production of electricity from coal is this efficiency going to arise?

The only place that I can see is in the use of electricity itself.
Computers have demonstrated vast ability to increase efficincy through many applications, but this is really not related much to the energy costs to produce electricity.

Those costs have been parred to the bone already.

And it is not electricity that is the main energy problem facing rising population, but liquid fuel for transport which the article conveniently ignores. Electricity is looked upon by many as a partial answer the the liquid fuel situation and that is why electric cars are the latest thing. If electricity is really only .02 efficient as the article says then we are truly doomed.

The article stops where it should have begun: That is, how are resources going to be distributed efficiently among an ever increasing population?

I suspect that it ended there because the only realistic answer is some form of socialism which Forbes of course abhors. The market can not handle distribution such that there will not be some left who have to do completely without. That is the the realitiy of the market.

If those who can not participate in the market to not recieve the resourse because of cost, Malthus is validited. Malthus' thesis is one of die off to reduce resouce consumption to a sustainable level. Forbes should applaud this position because that is what its free market, anti socialism ideology implies

First that the EROEI for electricity is .02

Huh? How, exactly is such a number arrived at?

What is the 'energy invested' in a photon arriving from the Sun? Because for most of the "energy sources" we humans are used to, they come to us via something that used photons as the inital energy source.

I suspect that it ended there because the only realistic answer is some form of socialism which Forbes of course abhors.

Naw there is things like the thinking from the 1930's - using energy as money. But then if you have land and therefore the ability to collect photons you can become "wealthy" - and that will slip back towards a model when wealth was your ag products you made on your land.

Boy, X sure knows how to twist the knife in the back of the envelopes he scrawls his bizarre EROEI notions onto.

Giving 'Electricity' some kind of overall* EROEI value is about as useful as counting the number of calories available from the plate you serve your peanut butter sandwiches on.

*(I have to note, of course, that 'overalls' are not real, but merely an abstraction.)

But, I still read them, every time. It's like my crossword puzzle.

X, you had me at 'X'

One problem is you have to actually look at the chart in the article before sounding off. The chart shows that the process of converting chemical energy, as coal, into light, using an incandescent light bulb, is around 2% efficient. That is roughly correct; deal with it.

Also observe that 2% is a 28-fold improvement over what came before, the 0.07% (or so) efficiency of a good wax candle, or the 0.015% (or so) efficiency of a tallow candle.

Edit - note that the "reporter" who wrote the article didn't read the chart either.

simplistic crap article.
1) Yes, incandescents suck! They are VERY inefficient at creating light. But they are not representative of the situation in general. It is easy to lie with statistics. An electric heater is pretty much 100% efficient . . . although that sounds good, such electric heaters are actually really stupid. You are much better off with natural gas heat.

2) Efficiency is great and will be needed to deal with things. But it does not 'solve' the issues . . . it helps and buys time. But Jevon's paradox means efficiency can make the problem worse to some degree.

Efficiency is great and will be needed to deal with things. But it does not 'solve' the issues . . . it helps and buys time. But Jevon's paradox means efficiency can make the problem worse to some degree.

I can't speak to any unintended consequences long-term, but wasting energy of any kind, and electricity in particular, strikes me as wrong on so many levels that I'm willing to take my chances.

BTW, I haven't been an enthusiastic supporter of LED technology and so it's a rare pleasure for me to say something nice for a change. We've used LED freezer case lighting in some of our past work but now we're going full throttle and the results have been extremely favourable.

In the application shown below, we've replaced 135-watt F60T12VHO fluorescent strips (148-watts with ballast) with 15 and 20-watt Philips LEDs. Not only has this reduced the client's lighting load by a whopping 90 per cent, it has also removed 3,000-watts of waste heat from inside their freezers cases -- heat that had to be expelled by the cooling system 24 hours a day.

This one measure will save some 30,000 kWh of electricity each year, or about the same amount of energy as would be supplied by eighty 200-watt solar panels operating at peak output an average of five hours per day (and do so at a mere fraction of the cost).


That's a beautiful thing, Paul!


Thanks, Bob. What's interesting to me is that this client wasn't as excited about the energy and cost savings as he was the dramatic improvement in the overall appearance of his displays. The new lighting is brighter, the whites are "cleaner", colours pop and there's a jewel-like sparkle to the packaging. By comparison, the old fluorescent system cast a rather dull, lifeless light with a slightly greenish hue. When you see the two operate side by side, the difference is unmistakable.



That's really neat! LED lighting has real potential in reigning in the legacy electrical demand as EVs become commonplace.

Thanks, Matt. I was in the offices of Efficiency Nova Scotia earlier today and there's a progress indicator prominently displayed in the front reception. As of the first eleven months of this past calendar year, I believe the needle was sitting just above the 84 GWh mark, so I'm hoping we'll top 90 GWh once December's results are tallied. So, year after year, that's a daily allotment of 246,575 kWh now available for other purposes, in addition to the 235,015 kWh per day that were saved in 2009. Combined, that's enough electricity to power perhaps 50,000 EVs.

For 2011, our target is 158.5 GWh -- a further 434,245 kWh/day -- and the bar will be ratcheted-up with each passing year. There's so much energy saving potential it boggles the mind.


Re: Hubbert's Hacks: The Peak and Decline of the "Doomer"

The moral of this long, seemingly irrelevant anecdote: Two medical doctors--a general practitioner and an Ophth guy--with literally decades of training and experience between them, were not able to answer our questions about this one little eye, but by God, the Archdruid knows that my partner is going to die from lack of insulin because of oil disruptions.

For Jebus' sake, Mike, is this what's behind your entire rant?! I truly, truly, wish you and your partner a long and happy coexistence, but you've really have got to be kidding! That statement borders on being irrational in the extreme. It is an elaborately constructed strawman, to say the least.

I'll speak only for myself here, while I may also have my own dogs in the fight, I have never taken anything written or said by the likes of Greer, Kunstler or Orlov or anyone else, as direct predictions of what will happen either in my personal life or even as predictions of anything specific that will happen to society at large. Having said that I can certainly see where they are coming from with regards the scenarios they construct and find them plausible, furthermore that if those scenarios are followed through to their logical conclusions we can reasonably expect severe hardship for many who today are not accustomed to such. Anyone who takes it any other way is delusional!

Fred OUT!

Well put. As others posted above, all sorts of people are going without needed meds because we have such a bass ackward medical insurance system. But mikey chooses to vent his wrath at those pointing out that life will be harder for all (not just those who are drug dependent) as cheap oil declines. His reaction is so divorced from anything remotely resembling rationality--I have to add him to my very short list of people here whose posts I don't read (though even x has been making sense occasionally recently).

Peak oil has zilch, nada, shat to do with your back asswards medical insurance system.

In fact, a coherent case could be made that your punishment-oriented social service system is a consequence of the illusions created by an economy that was very well lubricated by the abundance of fossil resources extracted and burned in the US prior to reaching the various peaks of oil production, net energy, etc.

America's energy cornucopia (which notably included thousands of years of buffalo dung-enriched soil) facilitated misleading people into thinking that individual effort was at the centre of success and that markets were godgiven and thus should not suffer government interference.

Peak oil is likely to create conditions that will erode this mythology and thus be more favourable to a wiser and more just means of allocation of resources, including pharmaceuticals.

Nice points. I too would like to think that lowered resource inputs might lead to more equitable distribution of various goods and services. Unfortunately, I have seen precious little movement in this direction so far, and I fear real reductions will just drive us deeper and deeper into delusional thinking of all sorts, with very negative consequences for nearly everyone.

Or, a case could be made that the allegedly "punishment-oriented" system is simply a vestige of former times of great scarcity, when the punishments were often far harsher (after all, hardly anyone is executed any more for, say, petty theft), with the illusions merely decreasing the incentive to reform it. In such a case, modern leniency might well prove to be the fossil-fueled aberration, with renewed scarcity inducing greater strictness, if only on the grounds that extensive resources simply cannot be spared to support leniency. I wouldn't count on historical determinism - of any sort but especially the sort inspired by wishful thinking - to resolve these matters.

I agree.

There is no possible way that happy socialism is in our future. None.

If anything, cheap and abundant energy supports the vast government bureaucracy that gives healthcare to everyone as well as all manner of income guarantees.

toilforoil, sorry but America is Canada's future, not the other way around.

The evidence suggests that cheap and abundant energy and materials permitted the development of the colossally inefficient and underproductive private bureaucracy that administers health care in the US.

If greater efficiency is what is required to compete, it is the Canadian system which will ultimately forcibly be the model for the US. Though one has to admit that the evidence also suggests that ideological obduracy will probably see the US choose decline over superior economics.

Punishing lawbreakers is hardly the issue, though the incarceration rate in the US, the highest in the developed world (maybe the world), indicates a deeply flawed society with pervasive market failure.

The issue with respect to the organization of a modern economy in times of great change is whether or not a country can afford to maintain a 'blame the poor for their condition and mete out punishment until they pull up their socks' attitude.

I say not. The countries that succeed will be those optimizing their human capital.

The other day, someone, it might have been Euan Mearns, was attributing German economic success to their sale of Mercedes and such like. I say, nope. Germany succeeds because its social organization allows it to export quality information embedded in a widerange of products; i.e. its products are more in-formed than those of competitors and thus are preferred by consumers.

Germany is of course a highly taxed, highly unionized, welfare state. Its pencil pushers, conveyors of information, are among the most skilled in the world. As are its tradespeople. An achievement due to government led social organization. I believe the case is that its socialized health care system is even more efficient than the Canadian model, though perhaps not transferable.

I expect to see China tending to the German model in the years ahead. Especially, as the luxery of inefficiency is exhausted.

Healthcare is cheap, watch the costs plummet as we no longer are forced to pay for those who cannot pay. We'll see it on the periphery of Europe in a few years, the PIIGS cannot stay afloat forever.

What good is human capital? We do not have a need for engineers, I know many who are unemployed. An Art degree is rather useless.

I am curious...do you have a line on inexpensive health insurance?

I heard about this new 'Health plan' offering from Sam's Club on the radio today:


But, I doubt something such as is is what you meant when you said 'health care'.

My health care for me, my wife, and our two children is cheap...it's called TriCare, and I pay $460 per year for this coverage, as opposed to North of a grand a month for family coverage that I hear some folks are paying.

Of course, my health care is inexpensive because the tax payers (and the debt borrowing machine) are paying for it.

I realize that my good fortune in this respect is not guaranteed...even though I served for 20+ years with an honorable retirement, I do not feel that I have a bigger moral claim for affordable health care than the next human.

Another question: Who pays for indigent folks' 'health care' now, at the Emergency Room, where and when it by far the most expensive time and place to deal with many issues?

You and I and everyone else who pays taxes does.

Unless one advocates that the indigent sick and injured be turned away at the hospital door?

Do we really want a bunch of sick and injured people with unnecessary treatable disabilities abandoned in our country?

Is that moral?

I think what toilforoil was pointing out is that private 'health care insurance' has costs for excessive CEO salaries, stockholder profits, marketing campaigns, etc. which run far in excess to overhead costs for Medicare. Therefore, Universal health care would free up monies formerly paid for these costs and enable more people to have a certain level of health care coverage. Certainly not gold-plated...some type and level of triage will have to apply.

My father suffered terribly for ~ 2 years bedridden in hospital with Type 2 diabetes. In the end I signed a DNR at his last whispered request. Two years later than it should have been. His suffering would have been minimized, the family's anguish would have been minimized, and a lot of money would have been saved. Death with dignity should be greatly preferred.

There is no possible way that happy socialism is in our future. None.

why? that's where we started, both in terms of aboriginal societies and in terms of our earliest developed societies.

"the cities were not sited strategically, nor did they have defensive walls; there was no evidence of warfare. It seems that co-operation existed, because the population realised that co-operation would benefit the individual and the community as a whole... That the workforce involved were not slaves or oppressed is supported by the archaeological evidence. Haas and Creamer believe that the city rulers encouraged the workforce during construction by staging celebratory roasts of fish and achira root. Afterward, the remains of these feasts were worked into the fabric of the mound. Alcohol is suspected of having been consumed, and music seems to have been played: at Caral, Shady's discovery of 32 flutes made of pelican wingbones tucked into a recess in the main temple provides the evidence for that conclusion.

...Still, the fame of Caral as the oldest pyramid complex might be shortlived. Archaeologists have found a 5,500-year-old ceremonial plaza at Sechin Bajo, in Casma, 229 miles north of Lima, the capital. The discovery occurred by a team of the Latin American Institute at the Freie University in Berlin, under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Peter Fuchs. It contained a platform pyramid that was originally possibly up to 100 metres tall. Carbon dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas. Nearly 2,000 years later, another structure measuring 180 by 120 metres was added onto it. The discovery at Sechin Bajo means this pyramid complex is now even older than Caral."

Here's a BBC documentary that is a nice overview of the modern phase of the archeology and that addresses the born in war vs. born in peace issue. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4092265217728346257#

It might surprise some people, but I don't believe there is any hope for happy socialism either.

A combination of unhappy socialism and unhappy capitalism, such as currently exists pretty well everywhere in different measure, is more likely to be our fate for a while yet.

It might well be that unhappy socialism becomes the predominant organizational mode, but I hope that the advocates of socialism have learned to recognize that markets are social constructs, just as much as are command and control mechanisms. I also hope that advocates of capitalism have learned to recognize that private corporations operate internally on a command and control basis and have a tendency to demand control over market rules, as well.

I hold out hope that awareness at this level will lead to the emergence of democracy, somewhere.

I don't know what is going to happen but I think that an economy and a social fabric where resources are more equitably shared will be necessary in an energy and resource constrained society that is in a state of zero or negative growth. The model that is playing out in the U.S. is one that has ever increasing gaps between the very rich and the rest of us. This has been based upon an economy that is increasingly dominated by a financial sector that is predatory and of little value to the rest of the economy engaged in the provision of nonfinancial goods and services.

We will need all the intelligence we can muster in this future economy. Draining off the brightest persons from our best universities into the financial sector rather than the engineering and other sectors is a recipe for continued inequality and the provision of services that have little value to the health of the overall society.

Going forward, it would be helpful if people would question resource predators like our military industrial complex. How much of the billions of dollars we spend on defense is really necessary for a true defense of the nation?

My personal take: Between one-quarter and one-half of current expenditures. Call that ~ $225-450B per year.

A turn toward less 'leniency' toward hedge fund managers and GS banksters that reap enormous profits while destroying the world economy would be a great improvement. Indeed 'far harsher' punishments for such scum would be quite an improvement.

Peak oil is likely to create conditions that will erode this mythology and thus be more favourable to a wiser and more just means of allocation of resources, including pharmaceuticals.

That will not happen without a lot of hard work by many, many people.

It is certainly far from a foregone conclusion, in my view.

So let's get to work.

For Jebus' sake, Mike, is this what's behind your entire rant?!

Some may not have seen the deleted post I made on that very idea sometime last year about Mikeb's partner. It got deleted because of the reaction and the raw nerve nature of the post. And really, does it matter if that is the whole reason MikeB is taking the path he's taking WRT the posting on the topic?

Each person will come to know "peak oil" via there own interactions and their own perceptions of things. Nate sees the world as finance, Kutsler has his on filters and the potable water dude has his. If MikeB's words lull others to sleep VS action - well, someone's gotta be a corpse at the bottom of the pile.

On reflection, it strikes me that mb may be going through some combination of anger/bargaining/denial personally and globally. It is a very human response as part of this to blame the messenger. We have all caught some of that if we have ever sincerely tried to inform anyone of our multiple predicaments. I do wish him and his partner the best, but would also ask that he spare us his increasingly bizarre lashings out. Come back when you are ready to be somewhat rational.

mb may be going through some combination of anger/bargaining/denial personally and globally.

Very very likely, in my view. The closer reality gets to people to more we will resist/deny/fight it.

How would you know?

MikeB has committed a cardinal sin. He has questioned people's blind faith in their own limited understanding of the world. Now he is paying for his sin with the stones cast from behind the walls of certainty.

How would you know?

Exactly. As I have said on many occasions, it's impossible for someone outside of his mind to know whether denial and bargaining are operating. Even a trained psychologist can only give a (very) educated opinion but they still could be wrong.

Denial happens all the time in every sphere of life for many people. Friends can often see that denial is operating but we ourselves very, very often cannot.

Only Mike will be able to come back in a decade and tell us, "You know, looking back, I could see that all those arguments were just me not being willing to accept what I knew to be true."

I watched myself go through this process over the past few years. I can look back and say that some of the things I asserted were from lack of accurate knowledge AND from bargaining.

Until Mike tells us something like what I wrote above, all I can say is that it is "very, very likely." But I cannot say (nor did I say) that it was a certainty.

"He has questioned people's blind faith in their own limited understanding of the world."

Because he alone knows the truth!

"Now he is paying for his sin with the stones cast from behind the walls of certainty."

Get off it. No one his casting stones from behind walls of certainty. They're just calling him on his weird agressive putting down of anyone who disagrees with him. Let's don't go making a martyr of him.

"his weird agressive putting down of anyone who disagrees with him."

Yep, that's it.

Or as Jerry McManus put it above:

"let's see now, to paraphrase:

* I fear we are doomed, but damn all those fear mongering "doomers"!
* And damn all that glib-showboating-pseudo-analysis, just like what I'm writing now!

If it wasn't so sad it would be funny."


And Jack, if they had read the article properly, they would see that the "truth" that I "alone" possess is, "I don't know. I'm a lay observer and have no right to make predictions, same with the predictions of other lay persons."

The preponderance of the evidence has lead many of us to believe that it would be prudent to prepare for and/or mitigate the effects of peak oil, peak energy, peak resources, and global warming. One could simply choose to monitor the situation and just let people draw their own conclusions.

That might be the scientifically rational thing to do. But is it the right thing to do? Facts have very little to do with the choices that are made in the modern society. The sad reality is that people make decisions based upon the ability of advertising moguls to manipulate one's perceptions of reality. Those who tout that we need to make no adjustments to our product choices are drowning out those who proffer the idea that we should take precautions against an energy, water, and resource scarce future. Perhaps some are purposely engaging in alarmist predictions about the future to get people's attention and to garner some of the mind space. Perhaps not. Perhaps they believe these predictions. Perhaps not. But I understand that peak oil, or any "product" needs to garner the mind space through some form of persuasion/advertising or we just increase the chances that most people will be very screwed.

While I think people need to be careful about making specific predictions as to effects and time frames, this does not mean that one should give up the effort to influence public opinion. So far, those who are making wildly implausible or clearly wrong predictions are not helping the effort. However, they are probably not hurting the effort much either since virtually no one is paying attention. I don't think these issues are discussed on The Kardashians.

Predictions as to effects and time frames are important, particularly with respect to the interactions of peak oil with anthropomorphic global warming and nuclear power.

Even the less doomerish scenarios for peak oil envision oil production plateauing for a short while and then decreasing with some considerable slope. There are also many of the opinion that coal is sufficiently expensive to mine and difficult to transport that it may replace oil only in some cases and for some uses, mostly in China and the US, which have the largest reserves.

Taken together, the peak oil and the coal as a "false fireman" theories substantially undercut the position of those who want to impose limits on the use of carbon fossil fuels. The "natural" decline in carbon fossil fuels is envisioned by peak oil analysts to be more rapid than the decline which would result from the imposition of practical economic and regulatory policies. For example, the rationale for setting up a system of trading carbon emissions credits is pretty well undercut by peak oil.

The other interaction that depends on effects and time frame is with the anti-nuclear group. In peak oil scenarios that do not involve rapid collapse, there appears to be enough time to agressively build out fission energy, especially in countries that have significant existing capabilities like France, Japan, Russia, and China. This is at odds with the preferences of the anti-nuclear group, who either assert that the collapse will be too rapid for nuclear power to make a contribution or that nuclear fuel will run out rapidly if called upon to replace fossil fuel.

The other interaction that depends on effects and time frame is with the anti-nuclear group.

Huh, here I was a thinking that Nuke power operators have demonstrated an inability to operate plants in a safe manner without fines for operation violations.

Nuke Power has had plenty of time to show that Man can operate plants withing the laws/rules layed down and they can't do it.

Time to move on.

The French are producing about 80% of their electrical power using nuclear reactors, and have done so safely.

It's a good thing this 'Drought/Flood' thing in Australia can't happen to France, or it might upset their perfect record. and How perfect is it?

Some of their finer foods have also borne a little besmirching from questionable waterways.. but that's just their 'Food Quality Reputation' .. not a big problem. First Normandie, next Champaigne..

"The Champagne region is embroiled in a legal battle to prevent the French national atomic agency ANDRA from dumping nuclear waste near its vineyards."

... "Schneider noted that the CIVC represents some of the biggest brand names in the world, who would likely be uncomfortable being associated with anti-nuclear activists.

In support of its current appeal, the CIVC contends that the site poses a risk of pollution – while ANDRA maintains that there is no risk due to the facility's location downstream from the appellation. The court is expected to return a decision within a few days. "

Some may not have seen the deleted post I made on that very idea sometime last year about Mikeb's partner. It got deleted because of the reaction and the raw nerve nature of the post. And really, does it matter if that is the whole reason MikeB is taking the path he's taking WRT the posting on the topic?

The point I'm making is that it seems Mike is allowing something from his personal circumstance to color and influence his public statements. I accept that Mike is human. My comment isn't about him or his partner. It's about the fact that he seems to be irrationally lashing out at people who post on TOD, who may or may not self identify as doomers. Based solely on what he perceives to be a defense, of what is according to him, is an indefensible POV of people such as Greer et al. What he is saying and how he is saying it, just doesn't add up in my book.

Reading Greer, Kunstler and Orlov's scribblings carries too much opportunity cost, or, in popular terms, is a waste of time.

There is just so much better thinking available from other writers.

To better understand the present and thus to better prepare for the future, I read Aristotle and the ancient scriptures, the latter through a non-literalist lens of course.

I also try to stay on the cutting edge of the sciences exploring the nature of homo sapiens sapiens. In this vein, I can't help but recommend Norman Doidge's "The Brain That Changes Itself". http://www.normandoidge.com/normandoidge/MAIN.html

I particularly appreciate Doidge's explanation of how neuro-science has overturned the 400 year old conception of the brain as machine, one that doesn't change or grow post childhood and prior to the deterioration of old age. It was a conception that in modern times has been expressed through the term "hard-wired".

As Doidge writes "Since the brain [in the dominant mechanical paradigm] could not change, human nature, which emerges from it, seemed necessarily fixed and unalterable as well".

Instead, neuro-science reveals a brain that is plastic. Doidge again:

The neuro-plastic revolution has implications for, among other things, our understanding of how love, sex, grief, relationships, learning, addictions, culture, technology, and psychotherapies change our brains. All of the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences, insofar as they deal with human nature, are affected, as are all forms of training. All of these disciplines will have to come to terms with the fact of the self-changing brain and with the realization that the architecture of the brain differs from one person to the next and that it changes in the course of our individual lives.

Doidge continues:

While the human brain has apparently underestimated itself, neuroplasticity isn't all good news; it renders our brains not only more resourceful but also more vulnerable to outside influences. Neuroplasticity has the power to produce more flexible but also more rigid behaviours--a phenomenon I call "the plastic paradox." Ironically, some of our most stubborn habits and disorders are products of our plasticity. Once a particular plastic change occurs in the brain and becomes well established, it can prevent other changes from occurring. It is by understanding both the positive and negative effects of plasticity that we can truly understand the extent of human possibilities.

Is civilization doomed in the 'foreseeable future'? There certainly are reasons to give this prognosis better than a zero probability. But there are, I believe the record shows, even more reasons to conclude that the likelihood is that homo sapiens sapiens will think its way out of the multifold traps it ignorantly and inadvertently constructed for itself.

To better understand the present and thus to better prepare for the future, I read Aristotle and the ancient scriptures, the latter through a non-literalist lens of course.

I also try to stay on the cutting edge of the sciences exploring the nature of homo sapiens sapiens. In this vein, I can't help but recommend Norman Doidge's "The Brain That Changes Itself". http://www.normandoidge.com/normandoidge/MAIN.html

Well, while I certainly enjoy plumbing the depths and exploring the deeper pools of human endeavor and scientific knowledge, I see nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying watching a baseball game, reading a novel, watching a movie or enjoying a glass of wine during superficial chit chat with my girlfriend either...

All work and no play can make Jack into a very dull boy. As for Kunstler, Greer and Orlov I can fit them in too, upon occasion.

I would never suggest that you should forgo a baseball game for philosophical writings. I just don't see why anyone wanting to learn anything about the world would read more than a few paragraphs of Kunstler, Greer or Orlov, or for that matter waste time on Denniger when Krugman, among many others, can teach so much more.

It might just be a superficial observation, but I've wondered if there is any meaning to the apparent correlation between the primacy of baseball in the US and it's rise, and the primacy of 'football' as the US declines.

I have long admired much in Krugman's writings, but like many bright people, he has (and has had) some fairly gaping holes in his understanding of the world. In particular, his training in economics, for example, tends to blind him from seeing any resource depletion as a serious concern.

It might just be a superficial observation, but I've wondered if there is any meaning to the apparent correlation between the primacy of baseball in the US and it's rise, and the primacy of 'football' as the US declines.

My guess is that baseball is by far the more intellectually demanding of the two games and loses out to the more barbarian and violent curb appeal of football, in a dog eat dog kind of world.

One might wonder which of those two games might draw the larger crowd to the Colosseum in Rome during its period of decline?

Aristotle did not have much to say on the subject of social collapse. He did note, however, that pure governmental types (say pure democracy or pure monarchy) did degenerate into perversions of themselves--democracy, for example, tends to pervert itself into mob rule. He also noted that when a city state depleted its topsoil, it was kaput.

I do think a neo-Aristotelian ethics (so-called virtue ethics) is highly relevant and appropriate to present-day circumstances. Note that Aristotle considered ethics and politics to be one big wall of wax: IMO we have regressed in many ways from the deep thought and keen empirical observations of Aristotle.

By the way, Aristotle was the grandfather of the scientific method: He systematically recorded and published scientific findings, had an organized system of research assitants, and is rightfully regarded as the father of ictheology.

Polybius took what Aristotle said and expanded on it with his anacyclosis.

1. Monarchy
2. Kingship
3. Tyranny
4. Aristocracy
5. Oligarchy
6. Democracy
7. Ochlocracy ("mob rule")

We're headed for mob rule, of course, which is why I can't really find too much fault with the folks who load up on ammo and food. They are in good intellectual company.

Hopefully, in twenty years you'll look back and wonder how it is that you came to reason in the same manner that Glenn Beck reasons.

Well, as I pointed out, I'm in good company with both Polybius and Aristotle. Perhaps Glenn Beck has been reading them?

You could of course believe that as our energy base declines democracy will withstand the tremendous forces it will experience.

Is your view that from now until the sun extinguishes all life on our little planet we will use democracy? The whole planet or just some countries?

My view is that there is adequate time between now and planetary heatdeath for democracy to emerge.

That's not what we're discussing.

The point of this conversation is that civilizations move through cycles and the next stage of the cycle for us, according to the theory of anacyclosis, is mob rule.

If you agree that we're in a democracy right now, the question I'm asking you is: how long will we stay in democracy? Forever?

Mob rule never lasts long. Aristotle observed that it was quickly replaced by tyranny. He based his conclusion on a comparative empirical study of some dozens of Greek city states. Of course this quick transition from mob rule to tyranny had happened dramatically in Athens after its defeat in the Peloponesian Wars. In the history of Athens the dominance of the Thirty Tyrants was brief.

Other kinds of tyranny can become self-perpetuating: See ORIENTAL DESPOTISM by Wittfogel for the classic exposition on this topic.

Exactly. It doesn't take long before a strong ruler comes to the fore. The people will actually want that after they experience mob rule because they will crave security.

Then, hopefully, the cycle starts all over again and at some point democracy re-appears. It may never reappear in that area of the world, as apparently Wittfogel points out (I haven't read it).

Aristotle did not advocate democracy. He advocated "polity" which is a mixed political system with elements of democracy, aristocracy, plutocracy, and monarchy. He claimed that pure systems always self-destructed, and that is why he advocated a mixed political system.

Aristotle got just about everything wrong, and modern science can be marked when we abandoned his delusions.

Ha...Krugman, the pied piper of debt, can teach us more? About what exactly, how to go bankrupt?

Stick to hockey and maple syrup, the stuff that you people to the north purportedly know about.

"Pied piper of debt." That's a good one! What do you call Dick "deficits don't matter" Cheney?

Mr. Krugman, as a Keynesian, holds that during downturns running up debt is OK if it is incurred in activities that restart the economy. Mr. Cheney, on the other hand, apparently feels it's OK to run up debt anytime.

Reading Greer, Kunstler and Orlov's scribblings carries too much opportunity cost, or, in popular terms, is a waste of time...

To better understand the present and thus to better prepare for the future, I read Aristotle and the ancient scriptures, the latter through a non-literalist lens of course.

What would I do if I could not find a post that I strongly disagree with. The very idea that we can understand the future by reading Aristotle and ancient scriptures is.... words fail me. Aristotle was definitely a genius when it came to philosophy and logic, but he didn't know squat about science. His ideas held science back for 2000 years. From the fourth century BC until the Enlightenment his ideas held sway. All anyone had to do during that period was quote Aristotle and they automatically won the argument.

And the ancient scriptures? Really, what kind of a guide to the future are they? I have read more ancient scriptures than I care to admit and looking back I have to say that this was a grandiose waste of time. The only thing I gained from reading the ancient scriptures was how to make better arguments against religion... back when I was doing that. I could quote you ancient scriptures that would blow your mind. But that is another story, a story that I now consider a total waste of time. I don't do that anymore.

And as for Norman Doidge's "The Brain That Changes Itself", the New York Times says: "The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility. Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff... Err, well okay but I tried that power of positive thinking crap when I was a young man. I thought it was great way back then but now I realize it was a total waste of time.

But I have read Greer, Kunstler and Orlov and though I don't agree with everything they wrote I found the most of it very rewarding.

Ron P.

I read Darwinian, Leanan, Kunstler, Orlov, Westexas, Callahan, ROCKMAN, and in fact all of you, people, and I find it most educational and rewarding.
Now I can tell my sister, 'I told you so. I told you this was the last car you would buy in your life. Now you are unemployed and you can't afford the gasoline. Here, have ten euros for the buss pass'.

A couple of months ago I went to Madrid to see some friends, one was passing through from South America on his way to Italy, later to take a cruise ship back to Punta del Este.
On seeing me my friend exclaimed,
Prophet !

You continue to do an excellent job of representing your grasp of science and philosophy.

I would consider myself poorly educated if I limited my philosphical readings to a single school of ancient thought. Although, when it comes to the human mind, there is nothing new under the sun, there have been so many views of how we think from across history and the planet, in India, China and the Moslem world, among many others. People like Greer have done a lot of reading and whilst they don't provide many stunningly original insights, they can provide alternative posibilities for human culture and societies in easy digestible form, which many people who are not blinded by their own arogance find educationally broadening.

You continue to do an excellent job of representing your grasp of science and philosophy.

There is irony in your sarcasm toil. I really do consider myself to have a pretty good grasp of science and philosophy after over half a century or reading on the subjects. Occasionally I come across someone who considers the ancient scriptures as good philosophy. Most ancient scriptures were written by superstitious Bedouins or the superstitious priest of such people. And there is no science to be found in any ancient scriptures. Some pretty good math in some ancient writings, not scriptures however, but no science to speak of. And anyone who thinks there is, is displaying their own ignorance of science and philosophy.

Ron P.

I'll be generous: toilforoil is reading our posts too quickly. He is saying things that aren't congruent with what is being discussed.

You are way too generous Aangel. I didn't get that from his posts at all. He said that reading Greer, Kunstler and Orlov was a waste of time and we should be reading instead old religious texts and and a book on positive thinking. Of course to sound impressive he did drop the name of Aristotle. I wasn't impressed. I don't think any of his recommendations are congruent with what is being discussed.

Ron P.

Yeah, I know....

I like science, but it is not the only source of insight. It is not about fundamental questions of human life. If you can't find anything valuable about that in any ancient texts, perhaps you're looking at the wrong ancient texts.

He said "the ancient scriptures" "Scriptures"! That is by definition religious texts. And no, I have never found anything valuable in ancient religious texts. Well nothing other than simple moral commands about what "Thou shalt not do". And those commands were around hundreds of years earlier in the The Code of Hammurabi which was a list of laws, not a religious texts.

But that is not the frigging point Dohboi! Nothing in any ancient scriptures, or books on positive thinking or Aristotle is congruent with what is being discussed. But the works of Greer, Kunstler and Orlov are very congruent to the subject.

Ron P.

I'm sorry if this rattles you, and if you consider it off topic. But I do thank you for your clarification and anything further on the subject you care to share.

My interest in earlier literature of various sort is (at least) two fold:

1) To understand how they--living as they (mostly) did closer to within their ecologic means than we do--viewed themselves and the world; what their interests, capabilities, ideas about nature and humans...were, since we are heading back to a very resource constrained future.

2) To look for thought patterns that had their roots in these earlier periods that are still affecting our way of thinking, perhaps without us realizing it.

I realize both pursuits may seem rather quixotic. But by nature, perhaps, I am at least as interested in understanding where we are and how we got here as trying to survive whatever sh*tstorm is in the process of falling down upon our heads.

On modern science, it is, of course, a modern development. But such things as Pythagorus's ideas of using mathematics to understand the world are surely elements that went in to what later became science. I would say that Euclid, the longest used text book in Western education, also had an influence (and not just in science proper).

Dohboi, if these things help you cope with the coming calamity then I wish you all the best. As I said earlier I have studied more ancient scriptures than I care to admit but I don't really believe this will help me at all. As for looking for thought patterns from earlier periods well they were a superstitious lot as well as extremely xenophobic. They considered anyone outside their tribe as being less than human and a threat to their survival.

Well hell... come to think about it, knowing that may help you a lot.

Ron P.

I guess to get anything spiritually worthy out of the Old Testament, you have to go through the likes of Steinbeck..

Lee laughed. “I guess it’s funny,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t dare tell it to many people. Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew? They engaged a learned rabbi. They took to the study as though they were children. Exercise books, grammar, vocabulary, simple sentences. You should see Hebrew written in Chinese ink with a brush! The right to left didn’t bother them as much as it would you, since we write up to down. Oh, they were perfectionists! They went to the root of the matter.”

“And you?” said Samuel.

“I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese. Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them, and in my room here I covered pages with writing. I bought every known Hebrew dictionary. But the old gentlemen were always ahead of me. It wasn’t long before they were ahead of our rabbi; he brought a colleague in. Mr. Hamilton, you should have sat through some of those nights of argument and discussion. The questions, the inspection, oh, the lovely thinking—the beautiful thinking.

“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”

Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”


.. problem with that approach is it requires reading between the lines.. so technically, one might say that 'it's not really in there'.. alas, you can only find it if you really want to! I highly recommend going to the link and reading the whole passage- it's so fine!

I really do consider myself to have a pretty good grasp of science and philosophy after over half a century or reading on the subjects.

You constantly display a narrow and closed mind, as in your reduction of Doidge's book to a newspaper review and then in your rejection of the neuro-science behind the comment in that particular review because of a personal experience. You metaphorically stepped outside, looked at the horizon, and said Columbus is full of beans 'cuz the world looks flat to you. Very scientific.

If you did grasp what science has revealed over the past several centuries, you would abandon your preposterous certainty about human nature and your equally preposterous certainty about what the future holds, though I note that some part of you must be aware of how silly describing the future is, because from time to time you deny owning a crystal ball. However, your denials are betrayed by your obvious sensitivity to MikeB's recent comments and to any comment that casts aspersions, however mild, on the practice of predicting doom for one and all.

I would submit that you have enough sense to recognize that the neuro-plasticity revealed by scientists equipped with new instrumentation and an ever expanding range of techniques threatens your hardened world view. And thus you reject the book, just as the religiously certain have always rejected revolutionary information.

As close-minded, and thus as unscientific, is your refusal to see the value of the ancient texts, which encapsulate even older insights developed in pre-literate cultures over very long periods of time. Mythology bears truth more accurately and effectively than does history, but you just block that road because you are in the thrall of the primitive literalism of the bible thumpers, even as you reject what they stand for.

I read Aristotle because he reminds me that the best among us have at once open minds and commitment to discipline.

For several days now, the Drumbeat has been filled with the naked terror of the closed minded after MikeB called out the prophets of doom. Some of the most vile, Beck-like, commentary has tried to reduce his critique to a narrow concern about his wife's health, taking a single comment of his out of context. What I see is a group of the fervently convinced screaming 'apostate' and demanding a public shunning.

It hasn't been a very impressive spectacle.

For several days now, the Drumbeat has been filled with the naked terror of the closed minded after MikeB called out the prophets of doom. Some of the most vile, Beck-like, commentary has tried to reduce his critique to a narrow concern about his wife's health, taking a single comment of his out of context. What I see is a group of the fervently convinced screaming 'apostate' and demanding a public shunning.

"naked terror"? "screaming 'apostate'"? I think you are going way over the top. I believe one person suggested "public shunning", with most of the rest of the group responding right away that that was a bad idea.

Look, MikeB had been acting a bit weird and aggressive in his assertions and belittling name-calling, and people naturally wonder what's going on. You seem to be trying to make a martyr or a cause celebre out of this sorry little event.

If you did grasp what science has revealed over the past several centuries, you would abandon your preposterous certainty about human nature...

And just what is my preposterous certainty about human nature? That it cannot be changed over the entire population? Everyone's nature is different from everyone else's. I don't think that position is preposterous at all. If it is tell me where I am wrong. Do you really believe that human nature, that is our nature that is in our DNA, can be changed? If so then I need to hear that one.

your equally preposterous certainty about what the future holds,...

I have no idea what the future holds except for the fact that our complex society MUST collapse sometime in the future. Exactly when I have no idea but I would guess in about 10 to 20 years, perhaps sooner. But exactly how that collapse will play out... I have no idea.

I just finished watching Collapse of Complex Societies by Dr. Joseph Tainter 2010. (Thanks to Step Back for that link.) I would suggest that both you and MikeB watch that film. It just might change your perception of what the future holds. In fact everyone else who believes that collapse is not in our future should watch this video.

I read Aristotle because he reminds me that the best among us have at once open minds and commitment to discipline.

Yet he closed scientific minds for 2000 years. Strange that he is opening minds now when he was instrumental in closing them for so many years.

Ron P.

I just finished watching Collapse of Complex Societies by Dr. Joseph Tainter 2010. (Thanks to Step Back for that link.)

I'm going to have to kick your thank you forward to another TODder here who first provided the link to the Tainter You Tubes, although I neglected to say thank you to him or note his name.

But yes I agree with you that Tainter's position seems well founded and does not bode well for our civilization and its future.

I was disappointed that Tainter had no answers at the close of Part 5 of those You Tube lectures.

Perhaps the only answer (solution) is for us to go through collapse.
Yet I keep hoping that some clever somebody out there will come up with a realistic other answer.

I was disappointed that Tainter had no answers at the close of Part 5 of those You Tube lectures.

By answers I suppose you mean something like: "Here is what we must do to prevent collapse." or "The solution to all these problems is..." Well no, I think he gave his answer quite clearly. He not too subtly quoted Sevareid's Law; "The chief cause of problems is solutions."

The only solution would involve more complexity and we have already reached the point of swiftly diminishing returns on that. Tainter, in my opinion anyway, was clearly implying that there are no solutions to this problem. But that was what I got from the video. His book, in the last paragraph, does give a glimmer of hope:

What has been accomplished here is to place contemporary societies in a historical perspective, and to apply global principle that links the past to the present and the future. However much we like to think of ourselves as something special in world history, in fact industrial societies are subject to the same principles that caused earlier societies to collapse. If civilization collapses again, it will be from failure to take advantage of the current reprieve, a reprieve paradoxically both detrimental and essential to our anticipated future.

Well, he says we are currently experiencing a reprieve. I cannot imagine that this is the case but you interpret his words as you see it. Still, I see him offering no advice, no solutions at all, even in the book. The whole idea seems to me to be explaining, not just what caused societies to collapse in the past but what will ultimately cause this society to collapse also.

Ron P.

Instead of lamenting over the inevitable collapse, perhaps we should focus on ways to achieve a soft landing?

By that, I ask whether we can re-tool the way "jobs" are created in this country (world?) so that there is less interdependence between one job and the next and such that the complexity does not hide (enclose in a shell) the complex nature of the real universe.

I submit that just as complex software hides from its users the underlying complexity of modern computers, complexity in the economic system hides from its users the true nature of what they are mucking with and that in itself sows the seeds for inevitable calamity and collapse.

Instead of lamenting over the inevitable collapse, perhaps we should focus on ways to achieve a soft landing?

Step Back, I have expressed my opinion this subject many times before but I will once again. Not about a soft landing, I am all for that, but rather what we should or can do. What we can do is prepare for our own survival and hope for the best. But there is absolutely nothing we can do to help the whole world make some kind of soft landing.

If we had the true answer as to how create a soft landing it would do us no good whatsoever. No one has ever solicited our opinion, no one even wants to hear our opinion. You are one in seven billion people and that is the effect you can have upon the world, one seven billionth. That ain't much.

So focus on a soft landing all you wish but your focusing will have no effect upon anyone outside your own private circle of influence. My circle of influence includes me and no one else.

We are but observers to this calamity. To believe otherwise is nothing but delusional thinking.

Ron P.

Well, "peak oil" now gets 1.6 million results in .09 seconds on google, and I don't think TOD has had zero influence on bringing this situation to the attention of the larger public. But mostly I share your impulse not to suppose that we can have much of an effect on the big picture.

Some of us, though, can't help but think about what could be or what could have been, even if we know there is essentially no chance of it transpiring that way at this point.

There are lots of things going on mostly under the radar. The Tea Party gets all the headlines, but many people are giving up on BAU or wishing to or working toward doing so. The sale of vegetable seeds surpassed the sale of ornamental flower seeds in stores a couple years ago for the first time since the '50s. There are movements like Transition Town springing up all over the place. There are movements to divest from the biggest banks with the most involvement in the financial meltdown...

Certainly all of this is too little too late. But I can't help but see some of these as dim glimmers of sanity in a world long ago gone utterly 'mentally ill and dangerous.'

Well, "peak oil" now gets 1.6 million results in .09 seconds on google, and I don't think TOD has had zero influence on bringing this situation to the attention of the larger public.

Well, dohboi, 1 in 7 Billion is less than 0.000228571 (1.6 mil in 7 bil). But, we are still rather insignificant.

As always.

Best wishes in letting everybody know.


You are one in seven billion people and that is the effect you can have upon the world, one seven billionth. That ain't much.

Well then think of yourself as a single cell in a 7 billion cellular automata, depending on your initial state and the rule (paradigm) applied, you could conceivably have a cascading effect on billions of other cells. Now that doesn't guarantee any specific outcome but at least it shouldn't a priori make us discount the influence a single cell out of 7 billion might have on the final state of the others.

Check out this Cellular automata animation called George's Brain:


Another temporal technique used by Collidoscope is transient induction: repeating a rule for a large number of steps, and then using a different rule for only a single step. Inducing a transient is useful for teasing out the dynamic behavior often inherent in a cellular automata. John Elliott's Hextenders is a good example. One of the few interesting six neighbor hexagonal cellular automata rules, it is even more interesting when perturbed by a transient once every hundred steps:

decay(99 * (six + 23/1345) + six + 234/13456, 10)

Transients are also notably used in Collidoscope's George's Brain variants in which formations periodically stop and restart:

decay(99 * (star + 34/5678) + six + 235/235, 3)

Yair...a notion I have been playing with...there is a lot of doomsterish talk from time to time of the difficulty of maintaining any sort of industrial/manufacturing capacity without a continueous supply of electricity.

Maybe we should apply a version of that old addage "make hay while the sun shines"

As an example at a personal level. My array has been producing about 1.8Kw since about ten o'clock this morning and will do so untill about three this afternoon. With that power I can run the saw bench and the welder and do some quite energy intensive work. When it's not available I go back to hand tools or assemble stuff I have made when the power was available.

Simplistic I know and it would be a huge culture shock for people to accept a life style fashioned around the availability of power rather than the time of day or the day of the week.

That is to say at a small manufacturing level I see no reason that production couldn't be planned around projected wind for turbines or cloudcover for solar in any of its forms.

Back to backs and fourteen hour shifts with consiquent disruptions to family and social life would become the new norm...but hey life can still go on.

Don't sell your message short, it is Simple, and it's sensible.

It's not simplistic at all.

Count Sheep while the Moonshines!


sp, I have made the same point often. People tend to think that it is the end of the world or a return to absolute barbarism to plan more of our activities around the rhythms of nature.

Odd that.

Simplistic I know and it would be a huge culture shock for people to accept a life style fashioned around the availability of power rather than the time of day or the day of the week.

I have been asking that very question for quite some time now and based on the response it seems like most recoil in horror from the very thought of it.

OMG!! 7 billion humans can't possibly survive if every single one of them is not supplied with at least 11Kw 24/7... Therefore alternatives such as wind and solar are completely useless so let's not waste our time or resources on them.

Fools! Perhaps their great grand children would like some intermittent power and might be able to reconfigure their energy use around what is available if we don't squander all our resources now...

"If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time."

- Shimon Peres


I truly, truly, wish you and your partner a long and happy coexistence, but you've really have got to be kidding! That statement borders on being irrational in the extreme. It is an elaborately constructed strawman, to say the least.

Fred, the personal example was to make an objective point about predictions. Look at it this way:

"Well-trained physicians do not dare to make predictions about the fate of a single eye, yet lay observers of peak oil stampede to the door of ridicule, predicting whatever ghastly scenario about our social futures that they please, as long as it fits their doomer dogma."

The older of the two national newspapers in my neck of the woods continues what seems to be their agenda for now with another editorial.

EDITORIAL - Transparency in our choice of energy

That is why this newspaper insists that while it moves quickly on an energy policy, the administration must do so with due care to ensure that whatever is introduced provides power to consumers at the cheapest price. We are not convinced that this has been the case, so far.

There is no gainsaying that the average price of generating electricity in Jamaica, at US$0.29 per kilowatt-hour - which is substantially higher than most of our regional neighbours - undermines the competitiveness of the country's economy.

The doomer in me hopes that this newspapers agenda will bring more people to look deeper into our predicament and maybe, just maybe, a few people will stumble into "Peak Oil" and sites like TOD. Then maybe I'd have some company around here. It's real lonely being a doomer.

Alan from the islands

Ahh, Wisdom at any price..
Alan, as they insist on making the sources of energy be cheap if nothing else, I'm drawn to the English Ladies (ms Jones and ms Idle, I think) .. on their shopping adventures.


Mrs Non-Smoker: What, you been shopping then?

Mrs Smoker: Nope ... I've been shopping!

Mrs Non-Smoker: What d'you buy?

Mrs Smoker: A piston engine!

Mrs Non-Smoker: What d'you buy that for?

Mrs Smoker: It was a bargain!

Mrs Non-Smoker: How much d'you want for it?

Mrs Smoker: Three quid!

Mrs Non-Smoker: Done. (she hands over the money)

Mrs Smoker: Right. Thank you.

Mrs Non-Smoker: How d'you cook it?

Mrs Smoker: You don't cook it.

Mrs Non-Smoker: You can't eat that raw!

Mrs Smoker: Ooooh ... never thought of that. Oh, day and night, but this is wondrous strange ...

Mrs Non-Smoker: ... and therefore is a stranger welcome it. There are more things in Heaven and Earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come, the time is out of joint. Oh cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right. Let's go together.

(They get up and go. Fade to black.)

You might get real quick payback on some wind or solar if they're going to be charging .29/kwh off the grid.. Heck, you may do even better than that just charging people's batteries a-la-carte! Invest!
(What is your gridpower costing, if you don't mind me asking..?)


Residential rates are about US 27c/kWh for the first 100 kWh and about 37c/kWh for eveything over 100 kWh. In addition a 10% consumption tax is levied on consumption over 200kWh.

The government in it's Draft Energy Policies speaks to encouraging investment in renewable energy through the use of tax breaks and incentives. The privately owned electricity utility on the other hand has a web page dedicated to Net Billing that implies that they are not fully on board with this incentive thing.

Net Billing is not the same as Net Metering. Under ‘Net Metering’ the renewable energy (wind or solar) which a customer generates for himself is metered (or measured), so that any excess electricity which is generated can be credited (or banked) to the customer’s account for future consumption. In practice, the meter will spin backward to compensate for any excess electricity generated; or forward, if the customer’s private supply is insufficient, and he/she needs additional electricity from JPS. In effect, the customer is selling electricity to JPS at the retail rate.

So what? Do they want customers to sell ALL the electricity they generate to them at some yet undetermined wholesale rate and then buy back from them at retail. I cannot understand why they would otherwise seek to make the distinction between net-metering and net-billing. Right now it is all as clear as mud to me which is why I am trying to arrange to meet with my batchmate at the ministry, Incentives? Hmmpfff!

Alan from the islands

OT- What are TODers' thoughts on Heirloom Seeds ?

Stock them up and learn to save your own seed.

Don in Maine

Be careful, I purchased tomato starts from open pollinated source and plants were terrible. Ruined an entire year garden production. I will be staying with reliable sources. Also some of the new varieties are very good. For a small garden new variety 'Tivoli' is a bush type Spaghetti Squash with best fruit ever. Normally spaghetti squash is a trailing vine.

One problem with open pollinated plants like tomatoes is that the ones that produce well in one area -- say, the Pacific Northwest -- might not do well in another, like down in the Southeastern US, because the disease pressures, soil types and general weather patterns are vastly different.

It helps to have spoken with experienced gardeners in your area before choosing your seeds/plants, so you don't waste so much time and space on plants that are going to keel over within eight weeks of planting, or that are going to limp along all summer producing only a few tomatoes.

For people who are really interested in growing their own food, developing a local network of like-minded gardeners is very useful. You can share mistakes and successes, to everyone's benefit.

In my yard in NW Georgia, two open pollinated tomato varieties that have produced like champs, summer after summer, are Rutgers and Wuhib.

Learn how to save 'em (The firm Seed Savers has books on the topic)
Some of 'em can be better tasting than the more 'commercial' seeds.
The super sweet sweet corn is harder to get off the cob than the 100 year old versions, as an example.

The protein VS Starch content can be different in corn/wheat. This is also dependent on the amount of Urea added also - so its harder to check 'organic heirloom' vs 'heirloom, with urea'

Not to mention they should lack toxins like BT in the, oh say, Starlink corn.

I've been growing vegetables for about 25 years. I always start from seed. It is very important to find GOOD seed. Good seed results from controlled propagation programs. You can certainly save seed, I do, but when you save seed, you still need to have found a good original source.

"Heirloom" seed typically means open pollinated varieties. It is easy to contaminate germ-lines, so you need to be careful. More to the point, the source you buy from needs to have been careful. The biggest indication of care and quality is data on the seed package that addresses germination ratios. If the germ-plasm has been contaminated (with other varietals) the germination numbers are are usually lower (or absent from the seed package). Stick to seed that has high (>95%) ratios.

I do not have any relationship with Johnny's Seed, but I recommend them without reservation. There are other good companies: Baker's Seed, Harris Seed to name two more.

But do your research. Do not cut corners. Do not trust marketing messages about "grandma's best". Look for germ rates. There are major differences in outcome based on good vs. poor seed choice.

Two more thoughts on the seed issue...

If you are considering a garden, consider fruit. Vegetables are obviously nice, but fruit is where you can save big $$$ and avoid major pesticide issues. Look into strawberries, raspberries, currants... Great ROI's are found in small fruit.

2nd... if you have space on the north side of your area, several dwarf fruit trees can be a major benefit. This topic gets us back to the Heirloom beginning:

I've planted about 80 trees over the last 4 years. When I started I was deeply into the "antique/heirloom" tree mind-set. But for balance, decided to include modern cultivars from the U. Minn. pomology program. Guess which trees are doing better? Point being, do not let romance preclude modern horticultural opportunities. There are dedicated aggie scientists doing great work today.

and another thought... If planting trees, pay attention to early/late/mid-season. You can plant peaches in southern climes that will ripen over a 3 month span, throw in apricots and loquats, and you have fresh,juicy, tasty fruit for a good chunk of spring and summer. Preserving is great, but it less effort to pick and eat off the tree.

Thanks all, please keep it coming.

Will -Re. "do not let romance preclude modern horticultural opportunities" - that is what I want to avoid and why I greatly appreciate your indepth response here.

A couple of other points:

1. Do variety trials whether you plan on growing OP or hybrids. Ads make everything sound great but this isn't the case. Over the years I've probably tried 50 varieties of tomatoes plus corn, melons, beans, etc. Some don't grow well in our climate and others don't have great taste.

2. Ask people in your area what they are growing. For example, I grow a storage watermelon that is still ok into December. But, it isn't a commercially available variety - we got seeds from a friend years ago who no longer grows it. They called it Christmas Watermelon.

I also developed my own cantaloupe. It's better than any I've tried whether OP or hybrid; and I've tried lots. Were you here, I'd give you some to try...I call it the Compost Melon since the compost pile was its origin.

I've also developed my own strain of winter wheat.

3. Keep trying new stuff. I always try a few new varieties/species each year just for fun and, often, find new ones to grow.


There's a lot of interest in heirloom varieties that taste good but don't keep or travel well. Not so much in the ones that don't taste good, but do keep or travel well. But the latter might be more valuable if the days of the 1,500 mile Casear salad come to an end.

I sometimes talk to the old apple farmers around here. They remember when apples were chosen for their "keeping" qualities as much as for their flavor. There were some apples that no northeasterner would grow. They were considered little better than weeds, because they didn't taste very good. But they were valued by more southern farmers, because they would keep in their warmer apple cellars.

Apparently, it wasn't a coincidence. Sweeter apples have more sugar, and therefore don't keep as well. It's a tradeoff.

Aardvark, generally positive thoughts on heirloom seeds. Check out the Seed Saver's Exchange and Suzanne Ashworth's book, Seed to Seed. In general, the qualities of heirloom seed are better suited to the home gardener than hybrids. Heirloom vegetables often have less uniformity, varying days to maturity and less dependance on babying, all useful qualities in the backyard. You might care to check out my blog on gardening and whatnot. I have several posts on heirloom vegetables and seed saving. http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=0a99ghcin8jvu

Just sitting by Bellingham Bay, breeding those beets..

Thanks again to all. I bookmarked the online seed sites and Hamster's blog. germination numbers

I've started several kinds of strawberrys and raspberrys (Kiwi is a new favorite for taste, but I'm having problems keeping them alive and productive beyond two years here) and mid-season apples. I'll be adding early and late bloom/harvest varieties next and I will now definitely keep in mind the "storage" quality.

I look forward to trying to make my own crosses/strains, and my wife is looking forward to trying the Tivoli bush-spaghetti squash (her favorite squash).

Really, thanks again, I appreciate all of your comments.

If you mean the seed company, Heirloom Seeds, since you used capital letters, I have been buying from them for 5 years. Always get the exact order I placed, no backorders, delivered as promised, and often with a few freebies thrown in.
The seeds always germinate, and I get the variety stated on the package.
Anything that doesn't make it is attributable directly to my learning curve ;)

Thanks Springtides - that was the first site I started digging through.

I'm glad you shared your experience with them. I plan on buying from several sources and I expect my learning curve to be a long one ;)

What are we turning into?

Kunstler's column today (Jared Got A gun) brings up something that has been in the back of my mind.

What has several generations of the industrial experience done to our gene pool (natural selection/epigenetics)?

I wonder if Nate Hagens and others like him have an informed opinion about this subject, or if it is an area of interest still in the WAGs stage ?

industrial experience done to our gene pool (natural selection/epigenetics)?
it is an area of interest still in the WAGs stage ?

A whole lotta WAG is where epigenetics is at. What and how the Grandmother ate can effect the grandchild per data going back to the 1920's - you need to track everything everybody eats for generations, not to mention the body burden of the chemicals in our lives to get things beyond WAG-land.

Its been in the last 20 years the medical profession has moved from "Vitamins just make your urine expensive" to where we are now. Epigenetics is something "new" - same with the tracking of all the various background chemicals.

And research into the hormones/chemicals needed to take a egg+sperm to full term and their effects is just starting.

I'm more interested in the effects of Industrialization on Darwinism(?), not so much just the pollution - more the "Idiocracy Effect".

Last week I saw the show "Wipeout" for the first time, I was completely amazed that such a show existed. It very much reminded me of "Ouch My Balls"...was Idiocracy really that much of a Harbinger of things to come?

It would seem to me that physical traits are no longer being selected for survival, since our society provides so many support systems to give those who wouldn't normally procreate the chance to do it. It's probably rather more complicated than that though.

Snarlin may have intended to refer to a variation of eugenics, not epigenetics. What little I understand of it, the DNA of an organism is not changed by the environment after birth, but the organism's growth and life is impacted by the environment. It's well known that the environmental within which one is born and later grows can effect the later health of an individual, the most obvious being fetal alcohol syndrome. Other effects, such as a greater frequency of certain cancers, can be attributed to chemicals found in food or water. More subtle effects may result from trace amounts of hormone like substances found in drinking water that runs off of agricultural land or from water that is taken downstream of a large city...

E. Swanson

No, I meant epigenetics, but eugenics might be added to the list of what industrial living has done to us.

For an example: obesity epigenetics and gene regulation

( I posted this very late last night in response to a thread in yesterday's DB on Americans and Obesity)

I love the responses so far and don't have time to discuss further now - I just wanted to clarify your question.

No, he meant epigenetics. It's quite the hot new thing these days. Seems contrary to what we thought we knew about genetics, but it does appear that the environment can cause changes that last generations.

Without a doubt. There really is no difference between nature and nurture, as they are intertwined conditions.

I don't think epigenetics claims the DNA is changed, but the expression of the different genes may be affected for a generation or more. I doubt the changes are stable in an evolutionary sense, but epigenetics itself could be an adaptive trait. Those that can do so probably have a slight advantage over those that don't.

epigenetics is simply gene expression by conditions. Very stable, and the timing is critical for survival.
This is a basic evolutionary process.

DNA can be modified by methylation. The addition of methyl groups is sort of similar to commenting out lines of code in a progam. Demethylation also occurs to reactivate genes or promoters. Methylation can also occur in proteins in the transcriptional mechanisms to modify gene expression. Methylation can be inheirited.

After a brief search I found this reasonably good MSM article on epigenetics:
Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny .

... And yet even if epigenetic inheritance doesn't last forever, it can be hugely powerful. In February 2009, the Journal of Neuroscience published a paper showing that even memory — a wildly complex biological and psychological process — can be improved from one generation to the next via epigenetics...

...All this explains why the scientific community is so nervously excited about epigenetics.

In his forthcoming book The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ Is Wrong, science writer David Shenk says epigenetics is helping usher in a "new paradigm" that "reveals how bankrupt the phrase 'nature versus nurture' really is." He calls epigenetics "perhaps the most important discovery in the science of heredity since the gene."

I wonder how much our industrial ecosystem has altered our genes - for better or worse (memory, as noted in the quote above, but also mental health problems like ADHD, OCD, depression, etc).

The fact that genes can be switched off or on is a fascinating discovery. It seems to me (purely in the speculative realm) that if a particular gene is switched off, it would become more likely to be selected out of the genome through regular natural selection processes. The implication, if this is true, would be that a change in phenotype (caused by the 'lack' of this switched-off gene) could possibly precede the change in genotype. This would call into serious question the so-called 'Central Dogma' that dictates that the information flow goes in one direction, that is from genotype to phenotype and not in reverse. Just talking off the top of my head right now, but, if true, this would have a profound effect on current Neo-Darwinism in the possibility that the genome is responsive to the environment in ways that had not been considered before.

In the development of an organism from a single cell, genes are switched on and off as the cells differentiate into different types of tissue. They may also be up and down-regulated to produce more or less of the biochemical that they code for. Some genes encode chemicals that affect the output of other genes. Multiple copies of genes may be present, so methylation may be used to reduce the number of active copies.

"Idiocracy Effect" ... traits are no longer being selected for survival...

Yes, natural selection (darwinism) in the industrial ecosystem, or epigenetic changes induced by the industrial ecosystem...

As for Idiocracy, there seems to be a huge market for it, and the audience is not just college sophomores... kinda scary ;)

It reminds me of "The Capitol" and its inhabitants in the fictional Hunger Games - vanity, stupidity and luxury combine over long periods of time to create a freak-show population of parasites that feed off of the rest of the population.

It takes a very long time for good genes to be lost from a gene pool simply because they temporarily offer no breeding advantage. Given a human generation of say 20 years, modern humans have been around maybe 10,000 generations and civilisation is maybe 1000 generations old. However social welfare cut in with industrial civilisation and is maybe 15 generations old. Hard times are likely to bring sharpen up the tool box and bring out that breeding advantage in a very few generations if we start encountering the four horsemen.

I think we need to get a much better understanding of what makes Jared tick before we can engage in any sweeping generalizations. But you gotta sell papers and air time.

Anyway, while this is a terrible tragedy and I am saddened by the gun culture that we have in the U.S., this kind of tragedy is a daily reality in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Is institutionalized violence any better? Has all the killing,suffering, and blowback been worth it for the last ten years? Oh, and 34 people are murdered by guns in the U.S. every day. But we hear little about that?

Further, do gun metaphors have consequences? Maybe. Maybe not. But it sounds like the rhetoric ought to be toned down as a precautionary measure. But then "2nd amendment remedies" was not a metaphor.

Further, do gun metaphors have consequences?

I think they do. In pre-Spanish Civil War in the Thirties, the leader of the Nazi (Falangista) Party José Antonio Primo de Rivera praised the
Dialectic of Guns and Fists -La dialéctica de los puños y de las pistolas. Later came the war, 1936-1939 and he was shot by the Republicanos.
Dialectic comes from dialogue, not much dialogue there.

My comment on the Forbes article was "called out." Apparently that means it will run across their network (whatever that means).

Thomas Malthus: Wrong Yesterday, Right Today?

Excellent - I'm glad you took the time to respond and glad to see they are interested in intelligent and informed dissent.

Nicely done, apparently there is an option on the page to view "all comments" or only "called out" comments.

Not to detract, but your comment didn't really answer the authors view that Malthus, Ehrlich and Jared Diamond are wrong:

Wrong. Population is not the ultimate problem. Nor is consumption. Profligate waste is the problem and efficiency is the solution.

The obvious counter argument is that increases in efficiency are easily overwhelmed by continual growth in both population and consumption. A wise man once said that trying to solve the other problems without stopping population growth is like trying to mop the floor with the faucet overflowing.

You could probably also throw in something about efficiency leading to greater consumption, I believe someone already mentioned "Jeavon's paradox", or about efficiency creating very brittle systems that have comparatively little resilience (our "just in time" supply system for example), but those ideas are generally harder to sell.

I thought it was interesting that he pointed out the steps required to get from coal to electric light, and the efficiency of that process. That is the basis for H. T. Odum's insight, what he called "transformity", that all energy is not equal. Add in the steps to get from sunlight to coal and you start to understand why "renewable" energy will never replace fossil fuels.


The graph of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana corn yields and temperatures is very interesting in this article. Only two years (1983 and 1988) have Iowa temperatures reached or exceeded 76 F and both years had significant reduction in yield (30% on average).

Midwest Corn Yields vs. Summer Temperatures

Based on 2010 and past seasons, it appears that corn yields are much more influenced by summer temperatures than by summer precipitation. Today's hybrids show tremendous drought tolerance but high temperatures, even with adequate moisture, seem to be the main limiting factor for yields.

As you can directly infer from this Arctic ice trend graph, there is the probability that the rapid ice melt is accelerating. This will definitely have an increasing effect on temperatures in Iowa but I have not been able to vaguely quantify the effect. I do think we have been fortunate so far (although 2010 was a little too hot for the crops). If USA luck runs out, we could have a liquid fuel and food shortage at the same time in this country.

Arctic ice trend based on volume data

"Hacks" over at Neven's blog to thank for the graph.
Neven's blog

ADDITION: Okay, Rind at NASA ran a simulation sometime prior to 2002 that showed Kansas would warm a couple of degrees Fahrenheit in the summer due to Arctic ice melt. I cannot find specifics but that probably is enough information, anyway.

So with an extra 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit, 8 out of the last 13 years would have exceeded the 30% yield loss threshold.

Recently Der Spiegel produced a series of articles on the Decline of America.

Sometimes were too close to the problem - it's interesting to get a fresh perspective from an outside observer

A Superpower in Decline: Is the American Dream Over?

- Go to the bottom of the page for links to the other articles in this series

Article above: The Hidden Pitfalls of Increasing U.S. Dependence On Canadian Oil Sands.

On the last 2 paragraphs staring with "The pitfall for investors is that putting money into the development of Canadian oil sands amounts to a bet that both the United States and Canada will ... remain committed to pro-producer policies.

In the article it is wrong to compare the public shift that occurred after Chernobyl with a potential disaster in the oil sand patch and the shifting away from it. Energy production from the U.S. nuclear plants were shifted to oil and coal. To what can the U.S. shift the absence of oil from Canada in the wake of a declining Mexican export? To hell withe the environment! U.S. citizen want to drive their SUVs.

The Canadian oil sand production, in my opinion, is a stable investment for a long time to come even if the U.S. stops import. China and India are already waiting to get the U.S. share. The proposed pipeline to the pacific coast is just meant for this but presently blocked by indigenous people and government concerns. Also, note that China already bought into the oil sand production.

Gabrielle Giffords's 'green' question riled right

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords drew the wrath of conservatives last June after questioning a top U.S. official over how green the country’s military operations are in Afghanistan, with clips of the exchange prompting some of the heated rhetoric that local police officials say is to blame for the lone gunman who shot her and 19 others in Tucson on Saturday.

Petraeus ...acknowledged Giffords’ point that the military is trying to conserve energy, mentioning billions of dollars in savings during the Iraq war that came from pumping extra insulation into rudimentary buildings and sometimes even tents.

“I pause because there are a couple different components to what we’re trying to do with respect to energy reduction, if you will, and that’s really what it is about,” Petraeus said. “There’s a fairly comprehensive effort in that regard.”

...On Beck’s radio program, co-host Pat Gray offered his own interpretation of Petraeus’ comments. “I pause because that’s the dumbest thing anybody’s ever asked me, you moron,” Gray said. “Are you really asking me, a four-star, a five-star general, what is Petraeus, if I’m getting solar-powered panels on our Afghanistan bases? Is that really the biggest concern I should have right now? Renewable energy on our military bases when we’re fighting a war? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s unbelievable.”

This is an example of Glenn Beck, Pat Gray et.al demonstrating their ignorance and contempt for the deaths of American soldiers defending fuel convoys. One soldier comes home in a box every 24 convoys. There were over 6000 fuel convoys in AFPAK last year. The PVs cut fuel convoys and saved lives.

There is simply no reaching these people.

Besides, Giffords is a Fulbright Scholar.

Giffords holds a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. from Scripps College where she was awarded a William Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Chihuahua, Mexico. She is married to Captain Mark Kelly, a Navy Pilot and NASA astronaut, and is the only U.S. Representative with an active duty military spouse.

You're right, and it's maddening.. but I hope we can keep our sights on the smart people and the worthy ideas, and not keep getting distracted at how wrong and pathetic the other bunch continues to be. They'll keep being idiots, and more will come to replace them when they go.

We need to stop pounding at these obstacles, and just start going around them. Time's a wasting. Enough sidetracks.

Yikes. They were expecting flooding, but nothing like this.

Nine die as 'instant tsunami' hits Australia town

They had to tie up Steve Irwin's crocodiles to keep them from escaping.

It's also shut down more coal mines and flooded another rail line.

This video is an amazing look at the power of the flood http://media.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/selections/watch-how-flash-fl....

That video is amazing. I didn't know that Australians had a penchant for fuel efficient cars? I have always imagined them more like Americans.

Jeff Masters has expanded his discussion of the floods:

As I discussed last week, Australia had its wettest spring (September - November) since records began 111 years ago, with some sections of coastal Queensland receiving over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain. Rainfall in Queensland and all of eastern Australia in December was the greatest on record, and the year 2010 was the rainiest year on record for Queensland. The ocean waters surrounding Australia were the warmest on record during 2010, and these exceptionally warm waters allowed much higher amounts of water vapor to evaporate into the atmosphere, helping fuel the heavy rains.

Survey: OPEC Pumps 29.27 Million Barrels of Oil Per Day in December

LONDON, Jan. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Platts -- The 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) crude oil production averaged 29.27 million barrels per day (b/d) in December, up 170,000 b/d from an estimated 29.1 million b/d in November, according to a just-released Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts. . .

Several countries increased output but Saudi Arabia, which boosted output to 8.35 million b/d from 8.22 million b/d in November, accounted for the bulk of the increase. It wasn't clear how much of the increase in Saudi volumes was being exported. Although world oil prices have been rising, last week reaching their highest levels since October 2008, Saudi Arabia's internal consumption has been steadily climbing.

A slow, grudging, acknowledgement of "Net Export Math," but notice that there is no discussion of the fact that Saudi Arabia's C+C production in 2005 averaged 9.6 mbpd.

Up a whole 177 kb/d, barely a blip. It seems they're happy with $90+/b, or maybe........

We'll find out when this 'recovery' demands more oil.

Ghung - Too early to tell IMHO but I beginning to wonder if our exconomy might be able to cope with $90 oil over the long term. Mind you I said cope...not prosper. Granted the unemployment may be around 10% (the govt #...not mine) that means 90% of society is still making a living. Might not be nearly as good a living as 4 years ago but still surviving. Perhaps we can go forward with perhaps just a shadow of the former BAU but still go forward (2% GDP or so) with the current higher oil prices. Perhaps this could be the best forward expectation: the economy continues to slowly expand but in a somewhat weaked state that maybe...just maybe...might get folks more focused of PO and it's worse implications without having to reach a Mad Max world they can't ignore. And maybe...a BIG maybe....politicians use this anemic state as a talking point to begin making serious efforts to deal with PO while we still have some time left.

But let's see what's actually being exported now - at least according to Oil Movements.

OPEC to cut supplies in January by most since August 2010

Oil Movements said that shipments will drop 1.3% to 23.6 million barrels a day in the four weeks to January 22nd 2011 from 23.91 million barrels in the period to December 25th 2010. It is the biggest decline since a 1.8% fall during the four weeks to August 28th 2010. The data exclude Ecuador and Angola.

Data from Oil Movements show that exports from Middle Eastern producers, including those from non OPEC members Oman and Yemen, will decrease by 1.6% to 17.55 million barrels a day.

I like to put the 2006 to 2009/2010 production/net export data in terms of cumulative shortfalls between what would have been produced/exported at the 2005 rate and what was actually produced/exported, because it puts the ongoing parlor game discussions of monthly production peaks in perspective. In any case, here's an interesting metric--the cumulative shortfall between what would have been net exported to non-Chindia countries at the 2005 rate (40.8 mbpd) and what was actually net exported to non-Chindia countries. Following are the relevant data for 2005 to 2009. For 2010, I am assuming global net exports of 44 mbpd and Chinidia net imports of 8 mbpd, which puts non-Chindia net imports at about 36 mbpd.

Based on the following data and on the above 2010 estimates, I estimate that the cumulative shortfall between what would have been net exported to non-Chindia countries at the 2005 rate and what was actually net exported to non-Chindia countries for 2006 to 2010 inclusive is on the order of five billion barrels of oil.

In addition to OM, available shipping reports indicate that OPEC exports are going to tail off in the second half of January. My guess is that OPEC slightly increased exports in late December to accomadate a sudden surge in demand in China - after their diesel shortage in November. Perhaps China was just willing to pay more than anyone else, although I have no specific information about prices paid.

BTW - I want to note again that most energy analysts are wrong here expecting US imports from OPEC to hold up in January. China appears to have ended up grabbing an incresing portion of those diminishing supplies in January.

I was just noticing that when the oil price spike happened, in July 2008, the Euro was worth $1.55.
Now, the Euro is trading at ruffly $1.29.

1.55 / 1.29 = ~1.20

So, the Dollar is arguably worth more now (at least with respect to the Euro) than in 2008.

Therefor, $90 oil today is similar to $108 oil back in 2008.

Where am I wrong here?

Probably makes more sense to substitute the gold spot price for the Euro...

It's even worse with the UK Pound. Although some of it is tax increase, we are now paying more at the pump in the UK for petrol than at the highest point in 2008.

And don't forget that most of the world's oil is not priced at WTI. Benchmark North Sea Brent is now at $97.27.


At this rate, we will all die before the WTI reaches the magic number of $110. Remember that at this point, OPEC will give us that extra few drops they have somewhere. :)

easty - I think I get your point. But my simplistic view is that $90 oil today is the same as $90 oil in 2008. Except today if you're paying in euros it will take more to buy that bbl. And if you're paying in $'s than $90 oil (2008) cost you the same as you're paying today. Of course, the biggest difference is that you might not have the $90 today like you did back in 2008.

I guess the actual effect on the personal budget is different for everybody. But, I was thinking that as an aggregate of the whole international trade system, it could not possibly be the same. I like the idea of using gold, or basket of currencies, etc.

In any case, WTI, priced in Dollars, is a distortion. How about an average oil price (basket of spot prices) priced in average money (basket of currencies) shown over time?

eastie - I think I get what you're saying but most oil is bought with $'s. Stating oil purchase prices in some other form is OK but you'll also have to post the conversion method at the same time. Saying oil is selling for X ounces of gold per bbl is meaningless unless you give the price of gold in $'s. Oil costs a lot fewer ounces of gold today than it did in 2008 when it was selling for the same $'s it's selling for today. Or maybe I'm missing your point.

And it is back up above $91/barrel. :-/

Oil keeps getting knocked down but it gets right up again and keeps going. The economy is just never going to recover to the way it was with oil at such high levels. Instead, the economy needs to change. We need to adjust to using less oil or move to alternatives. But that takes time, money, and suffering. So the long slog continues.

I keep thinking of the solution from that old movie, "Logan's Run". The only problem is that my hand would have been blinking red for years now.

Eek, 2% in few hours - what's riled the markets?

Here's another 157,000 bpd just gone offline - in the North Sea this time.

UPDATE 2-Statoil says gas leak shuts two North Sea oilfields

OSLO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Norway's oil and gas producer Statoil (STL.OL: Quote) said its Snorre and Vigdis fields in the North Sea were shut on Tuesday after a gas leak, further denting global oil output after an outage of a key Alaskan pipeline.

The North Sea fields -- which jointly produce about 157,000 barrels per day (bpd) -- were shut after gas leaked into the air on the Snorre A platform during a well shutdown.

"We still don't know when we will restart the fields," a Statoil spokesman said. "We hope to get production back soon."

"We assume its a rather big leak but can't confirm it so far," PSA spokeswoman Inger Anda said. "As always, a hydrocarbon leak in a production area is very serious. Statoil has started an internal investigation and we have also asked for a meeting."

...Norwegian broadcaster NRK said platform workers spent several hours in lifeboats after the gas leak alarm sounded.

Ah, cheers for the update.

Brent is $97.89, and Tapis is $101.41. http://www.upstreamonline.com/marketdata/markets_crude.htm

spec - Interesting times for sure. Perhaps your description is the "new normal economy" of our future. Low growth but growth to some degree except for the occasional recession. Maybe, and granted it's probably a longshot maybe, we'll embrace this new normal and begin to develop a new economic model you've alluded to. Maybe but my money is still on killing the folks who get between us and "our" oil.

"Maybe but my money is still on killing the folks who get between us and "our" oil."

Seriously, Rock, this is exactly what one of my clients said to me last week. He was complaining about the gas prices across the street from our shop increasing 14 cents in one day. He asked me if I knew that the [insert racist names for Chinese and Indians] have been stealing our oil. I responded that they've been outbidding us for it, buying up reserves and all that, not exactly 'stealing'; the free market at work. He loaded his dog in his Denali and left.

He's a good customer, so I avoided the details.

Ghung - A little chilling even if you don't see him acting out directly. But he and other likeminded folks have the power of the vote. And we know that many politicians will do whatever it takes to get that vote. I know my expectations offer a view much darker than many. But we are all children of our own experiences. I know first hand the carnage and destruction our society will tollerate if it appears to move them towards our goals. So maybe my vision isn't the most likely...hope so. But as we say in Texas: What's the point of having a gun if it isn't loaded. And wants the point of having a loaded gun if you're not prepared to use it if the need arises. Or IOW: Guns don't kill people....having a gun and not using it when you have to is what kills you. Hey...I live in Texas remember. LOL.

"....having a gun and not using it when you have to is what kills you"

Part of the problem is how to make the almost instantaneous assessment required in order to know when to use it.

I had a concealed-carry permit in South Africa, since I worked in an emergency pharmacy nights, in a not-that-secure strip mall in a not-that-stable neighborhood.

While it gives one a nice, comfortable feeling to feel the weight under one's arm, I finally stopped carrying it, since I didn't have 100% confidence in my ability to know when to kill someone - my training class taught us that if you draw the gun, you fire it - no warning shots, no waving it in the air. In those days it was double taps - head and body. I understand they don't teach that any more.

If someone was going for the safe, or the drugs, I would have handed him the money or the pills, rather than try and stop him. If he was coming for me with a weapon, it's hard to know what I really would have done.

I watched a news interview with one of the men who had held the Arizona gunman down until police arrived. Apparently he heard calls to "hold the guy down", saw a man with a gun, and tackled him - it was the wrong guy - he'd apparently just taken the gun from the shooter.

The man said he was carrying, and would have shot to kill. Since he mis-identified the assailant, he would have shot an innocent person just trying to help, based on the fact that he saw a man with a gun.

Edit : I think it is safe to say that most people are not introspective enough to properly assess their ability to make a rational decision in difficult, confusing circumstances. They stop at the "comfortable feeling" of a gun under their arm.

spring - I understand exactly what you mean. I use to teach folks on the proper handling and use of handguns. Before I would accept any student I would dig deeply into their mental state and reasons for wanting to carry. I probably rejected around 50% for one reason or the other. As you point out one should ever stop being introspective about the big "what if". I've carried a weapon from time to time for self protection for almost 40 years and I still mull those serious questions over all the time. Yep...would have been tragic had he dropped the hammer on the wrong man. But no less tragic than the police officers who accidently shoot and kill innocent bystanders every year. Despite their training it's an unfortunate reality of bearing arms and pledging to protect the public safety. I don't consider that particular civilian's actions as right or wrong. But he made a decision, for whatever particular reason, to be armed and to respond in this situation. Unfortunate that he drew down on the wrong man. Even more unfortunate that he didn't draw down on the right man before he killed six people. As was said in a movie once: anyone who runs towards gunfire is either a fool or a hero. Unfortunately impossible to seperate the two before the fact.

After Afghanistan & Iraq, I think the USA has lost all appetite for war. I do think we can still get some growth if we figure out ways making and spending money that are relatively low-energy. For example, I think the Internet has been a huge blessing for low-energy commerce. Yes, you need electricity for the net & the devices but that is not oil. And with the net we can buy & sell e-books, download & stream movies, download videogames, download music, take online classes, subscribe to premium news sites, etc. Granted, I am not the typical person but I've spend thousands on various 'virtual' goods & services.

If the government really wants to do something to help the US economy, I would think a world-wide crack-down on piracy would be good. If there were less piracy then these things could cost less and generate real revenue. I think US needs to crack down on piracy in various parts of the world . . . it may have been tolerable when these countries were poor. But now we are running massive deficits with countries that rip-off our intellectual property like crazy. That ain't right.

Edit: And then the post after mine is a article about "Energy Limits Global Economic Growth, Study Finds". LOL! Ah well, I'm trying to look on the bright side.

I would be a lot more sympathetic about enforcing anti-piracy laws if they were less ridiculous.

I don't really want to spend my tax dollars acting as armed enforcement for the Disney family decades after the intellectual product has been produced and the creator dead.

Ownership of intellectual property is a crucial foundation for spurring innovation. But if the US thinks it is a tax that they can force on other economies by might, they are going to meet a lot of resistance.

The process has to look like:
1) reform
2) enforce

Some IP laws are simply unconsionable. $150 to access any document regarding any scientific advancement is significantly off. I do software, and there is no way that it can cost $150 to host a website which can provide PDF copies of standard scientitific publications. That's just unconsionable extraction of money from less-developed countries. Wiley, Elsevier are two examples of sites which I constantly encounter when researching a topic, and to which I cannot afford access. They're designed to charge University libraries large fees for unlimited access for all "library members", but if one is outside the system, (as myself and 99.99% of the population of Africa, Asia, etc.) its simply an unnecessary barier to knowledge.

Governments which truely wanted improvements in 3rd world countries would take the almost negligable cost of providing free access to the latest research via the web as a simple adder to the publication budget of leading universities.

The copyright extensions have been a bit too much. They really should allow the old stuff to enter public domain. I think what they are more afraid of is people starting to make movies with Mickey Mouse raping someone and them not being able to do anything about it. Other than some full-length animated movies, it is not like they make much money off the really old back catalog.

Energy Limits Global Economic Growth, Study Finds

A study that relates global energy use to economic growth, published in the January issue of BioScience, finds strong correlations between these two measures both among countries and within countries over time.

The research leads the study's authors to infer that energy use limits economic activity directly. They conclude that an "enormous" increase in energy supply will be required to meet the demands of projected world population growth and lift the developing world out of poverty without jeopardizing standards of living in most developed countries.

Wow, we've studied this real hard and the amazing result has been an over-arching epiphany:

The research leads the study's authors to infer that energy use limits economic activity directly.

Why did it take a study to come to that conclusion? Would anyone expect otherwise?

Like I've mentioned a couple times above, PE, people don't get even the most basic principles....

people don't get even the most basic principles

No kidding. I think the Titanic analogy says a lot about the different groups of people and their response to an emergency. Many won't even accept the information as the worst of it occurs.

Saw your three part series Post Peak Living. Very well put together and delivered.

Thanks, PE. Version 3.0 is in production; stay tuned.

FOR ALL: Not really much of a thread but thought I would offer the view from someone who has worked many thousands of hours on deep water rigs. From way up top: "An investigation by industry watchdog Platform has warned an oil spill similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year was possible in British waters, unless current policies were changed."

Standards can always be improved. More importantly, enforcement can certainly be improved. But you can change policies/enforcement until the cows come home but it will not prevent another BP accident from happening. Such efforts might greatly reduce the possibility but it will never be eliminated. Society has to make a choice: Drill in extreme conditions and accept the possibility or don't drill at all. Pretending the danger can ever be eliminated is dishonest. IOW we'll do our best to prevent an accident: remember "we" (like the eleven) die when we screw up. But "we", being human, will screw up eventually. If "we" screw up again don't forget who gives us (actually will demand in the future IMHO) the opportunity to go out there and screw up again: the public.

Author Recruited by Homeland Security for war gaming (Red Cell Program)

...I'm not allowed to tell you what the targets were. Or where they were. But I can say that we'd destroy major cities like my hometown, New York. In minutes. And when I went home at night, I felt horrified, because I saw how easy it was to kill us...

But as I saw in the Red Cell program, that's how history always works. History is a selection process. But it doesn't just choose people and moments. History chooses all of us. Every single day.

aardi - Many of us geologists have played that same "game" since 9/11. I don't put it out on the web because these are very serious and very doable deeds. Not technically complex but the potential for huge negative impacts on our economy. Magnitudes beyond 9/11. But there are probably many other tech folks in other fields who have seen the same potential...but using different "tools". I'm still amazed that those who want to do us harm haven't ID's these opportunities. Perhaps blind hatred stiffles the imagination. I've seen enough of that dynamic on our side of the fence.

Yes, breaking things is easy, putting them togeather is hard.

I don't put it out on the web because these are very serious and very doable deeds.

Unfortunately Rock, your loose, cold lips have allowed me to identify the single most important piece of infrastructure!

Just for you I will tell you this facility is located at http://goo.gl/VluqX so you have a head start on other geologists to obtain critical, well let's just call it "product", before it's too late.

I have contacted the Russians with this information and they thanked me and said they'd kill me later. I must have misheard that bit.


Judging from the shadows thrown by the circular objects, there appear to be a number of tanks, probably of the type used to contain biological materials. This is probably a plant making a biological Weapon of Mass Destruction, and should be targeted by cruise missiles or stealth bombers.

tow/merril - I can certainly attest to the destruction of my waistline due to the "biological materials" produced by this complex. But here's the secret: this is only a dummy Blue Bell creamery. Not easy for non-Texans to realize but one close up on those cow faces clearly show they are not contented. And since Blue Bell is only made with the aid of happy stock the truth is readily available.

For all: Please note that I wasn't the one who brought BBIC back into the thread.

Top CEOs agree: US is down the crapper

Immelt gave the crowd a bit of insight as to why CEOs are concerned for America's future. "What makes us paranoid is that we see a lot, we travel a lot. I spend 60 per cent of my time out of the office, most of the time outside the country. I've been going to China and India since 1984. So I have the burden of knowing what's happening. I get back, you know, and I sleep like a baby: wake up once an hour crying. That's what it's like to be a CEO."

One major issue they talk about is the poor results in testing in math and science. But even our smartest in those areas have gravitated to finance over the years. So, that represents a double whammy portending the decline of America. Bother political parties are clueless in this regard and both are under the thumb of the financial sector.

But let's face it. There is nothing on the horizon that should lead anyone to believe that America is desendant and will continue to be so.

They point out the fact that it is not just China and India that are an issue. Germany has done relatively well in spite of the recession. That is where social and economic policy comes in. That is also why we will not emulate Germany in any way because many of the things they have done would be considered socialistic.

Part of the solution is old fashioned pragmatism, searching out for what works not just what fits one's ideology.

I am losing my patience with US CEO's complaining about the US education system and simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B and other visas. If they and their ilk hadn't abused the H-1B system by using it to undercut the mid-level engineering market in the US, we *might* have more US-born engineering graduates. As it is, high school and college students look at the pain their parents and friend's parents are going through with the decimation of the domestic IT and engineering market, especially for those over 50, and they are choosing other majors, or even choosing not to go to college at all.

When the pot of gold at the end of the $80K+ BS degree rainbow is $50K in student loan debt and a $10 an hour call center job, people tend to be a little disappointed. The younger people see this happening, and lose hope. Maybe that liberal arts degree isn't so bad after all when the ultimate destination is the same as the engineering degree recipient.

There will always be that job at GE or Intel for those from MIT or CalTech, but for those from StateU, the job prospects in engineering, math, physics IT, etc. are more than bleak. Not to mention the millions who had careers for 1-35 years and now are collecting unemployment.

Sorry to sound so negative, but I know literally dozens of former engineers and IT workers who WERE educated when US schools were 'good'. They are working at Home Depot, Best Buy, and Starbucks.

I too know several engineers who left the field. And, you can add me to your list of US educated engineers who could not find a job. On several occasions, I found advertised jobs which I thought my education and experience would allow me to qualify with a little on the job re-training. They were adds thru the unemployment office and the job requirements were so specific that the only person who might qualify was the person already doing the work, perhaps someone with a student visa. The adds were apparently placed to satisfy the requirements that a foreign worker could have a job if no other US person could be found to take the position. Another problem if the fact that many companies have moved their operations outside the US, which resulted in fewer jobs for engineers as well as workers. Of course, these CEOs don't see it as their problem that they moved their operations to Mexico, India or China...

E. Swanson

I think this is a lot of why American engineers tend to disproportionately fill the ranks of the doom contingent.


That and the fact that they have plenty of time on their hands to read theoildrum.com.

An interesting article about China's coal conundrum:

"Fuxin is a manifestation of problems that occur all over the old mining areas in China and are particularly prevalent in the northeast," said David Creedy, a veteran mining specialist who now works in Beijing with the British carbon project developers, Sindicatum. "Fuxin is maybe the worst example but there are lots of other historic, environmental problems that need to be handled," said Creedy, a former World Bank consultant.

Coal has left many of China's cities sinking and choking, its water supplies contaminated and a large section of its workforce suffering from chronic health problems. Fuxin's mine fires are nothing compared to those a century old that continue to burn in the northwest, polluting the air. Floods and explosions also make China's mines the deadliest in the world.


View the gaping crater threatening the city:


Satellite photographs of the Haizhou site show a massive crater resembling an asteroid hit. Five decades of intensive excavation left an abyss 4 km wide (2.4 miles) and 300 metres deep, along with a legacy of pollution and land subsidence the local government is only beginning to address.

The foundations of the city were literally undermined. Around 100 square km of the city, with 27,000 buildings and around 78,000 residents, was on the verge of caving in at one point, earning Fuxin the title of "sinking city". While a catastrophic landslide has been averted, much work needs to be done to shore up the mine's embankments, said Li Zhao, an official with the local land and resources bureau.

Perhaps this is why they've built 'ghost cities'; to give residents somewhere to go when coal mines swallow their homes :-/

Chinese government analysts expect annual coal demand to reach at least 4 billion tonnes by 2020, 25 percent higher than 2009, even after taking into account unprecedented levels of investment in nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro that the country is likely to see over the period.

AP (via Yahoo)'s version

Oil surges on offshore drilling report

Oil prices surged Tuesday after a presidential panel investigating the Gulf oil spill said the oil industry and the government need to do more to reduce the chances of another large-scale disaster.

Benchmark oil for February delivery rose $1.80, or more than 3 percent, to $91.05 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The panel's recommendations included increasing the liability cap for damages when companies drill offshore; increasing budgets and training for the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling and lending more weight to federal scientific opinions in decisions about drilling.

The report raised speculation that the government might slow down production in the Gulf of Mexico, which would lead to higher prices. "As it stands right now, this is a little bit of a concern in the oil patch," PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said.

My version

Oil surges on fears Australian floods and Alaska pipeline leak will cause a near term supply problem

Oil prices surged Tuesday after a reports continue to trickle in concerning the severity of flooding in Australia and the news of another coal mine being flooded making the recent episode of flooding a large-scale disaster for the Australian coal mining industry.

Benchmark oil for February delivery rose $1.80, or more than 3 percent, to $91.05 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Analysts expect that the effect of the flooding on the exports of Australian coal to it's main customer, China will result in a surge in demand for oil as fuel for backup diesel generators in the event that a coal shortage results in the temporary shutdown of some of China's multitude of coal fired generators.
In addition there is some speculation that the slow down in production in Alaska due to the leak in the pipeline would lead to higher prices. "As it stands right now, this is a little bit of a concern in the oil patch," Acme analyst Phil Abituneasy said.

Alan from the islands

Tom Whipple, of ASPO, is also expressing exactly the same concerns about China having to seek alternatives to coal – mainly by using diesel. It is my understanding that China’s refineries are running at about maximum capacity already, so incremental demand for diesel will have to come from imports.

As I mentioned a month ago, some of those diesel imports may even come from the US.

In Alaska, the pipeline operators apparently want to restart the pipeline even before repairs are complete – due to the potential negative effects of cold weather on oil sitting in the pipeline.

Undeterred by the reality of a major pipeline closure, most widely known energy analysts were quoted late Monday as variously saying that total US oil inventories, and even inventories in the EIA’s Western Region of the US affected by the closure of the Alaska pipeline, were ‘comfortable’, ‘more than adequate’ and even ‘excessive’. The implication being, well, that steep year end fall-off in total US oil inventories is nothing to worry about because oil supplies generally rebuild early in the New Year. Exactly why these inventories should just ‘rebuild’ is not explained, but generally US imports more oil in January than December. Accordingly to the EIA’s just released STEO (short term energy outlook), the US will need to import a net additional amount of 500,000 bpd of oil/products in the first quarter 2011 as compared to the fourth quarter 2010 – because, well, US demand will also be about 500,000 bpd or so higher in the first quarter as compared to the year ago first quarter.

Hopefully these popular energy analysts will step forward and reveal these secret places where this extra oil will come from, because there is no sign what so ever that OPEC has increased its exports in 2011 – as the EIA has predicted would happen in its STEO.

Security establishment not well-equipped to deal with environmental issues: team

The Medill School of Journalism graduate student team yesterday (Jan. 10) begins publication of its findings on the national security implications of climate change with a series of print, video and interactive stories at http://global-warning.org . The first stories in the “Global Warning” series are running today in The Washington Post and on the McClatchy Newspapers’ Washington website at http://www.mcclatchydc.com, and were distributed to more than 600 other newspapers through the McClatchy-Tribune news service. Additional stories will run in coming weeks in The Washington Post. Both media partners are linking to the entire project online.

Tidal power plant proposed for New York's East River

A New York energy company that has been testing tidal power in the East River has filed a formal application to install 30 underwater power turbines in the East Channel of the river.

Won't the bodies get caught up in the turbines? ;-)

It's been a long time since I used this expression, but


[edited to add: Not to mention their concrete overshoes!]

Arctic blast raises winterkill risk for Plains wheat

Subzero temperatures across the southern U.S. Plains on Tuesday stressed the wintering wheat crop and caused some winterkill, a forecaster said.

"Given the weakened state the crop due to drought, these types of temperatures are going to create further damage -- and likely produced some winterkill," said Mike Palmerino, ag meteorologist with Telvent DTN.

"Nothing this crop is experiencing is good -- drought, volatility of temperatures, subzero temperatures and little protective snow cover," Palmerino said.

Somedays, it's hard to tell real news from something on "The Onion." An item on Drudge:

Boston revamps an ambulance to transport supersized patients

In a super-sized world, it was perhaps inevitable: Boston’s Emergency Medical Services this month will begin deploying an ambulance equipped with a hydraulic lift to ease transport of the heaviest patients. The ambulance retrofitting, which cost about $12,000, bears testament to the increase in morbidly obese patients and the wrenched backs and necks sustained by emergency medical technicians and paramedics straining to lift them. Most weeks, Boston rescue crews ferry two to four patients weighing at least 450 pounds.

“With a 300-pound patient, it’s not too bad, or even 400 pounds,’’ said Jose A. Archila, a Boston EMS captain. “But to be honest with you, with a 500-, 600-, 700-pound patient — it’s just too much for you.’’ The vehicle, which at first glance doesn’t appear different from the trucks routinely plying the city’s roads, also carries a stretcher capable of shouldering 850 pounds.

My spouse, who has been an RN for 30 years says the obesity problem is huge (no pun intended). The recently built new hospital incorporates tracks in the ceiling, like a meat-packing plant, to make transporting bariatric patients easier. They also have hydraulic lifts with 1200 lb. capacity and very strong beds. For a woman who tips the scales at 98 lbs. soaking wet, every day is a challenge. Knowledge of how to use proper body mechanics is a must. When asked by another nurse what to do if, in the process of ushering a 500 lb. patient, the patient starts to fall, she answered, "Shout TIMBERRRR and run."

Sorry if I can't respond to these comments. I just got back from Augusta. It was a life-changing experience for me. There are many, many skeptics of the organics movement that are afraid to open their mouths. I was even interviewed on public radio. I can't tell you how surprised I am.


The partners on our farm and I have a lot of work to do so I won't be commenting for awhile. I'm sure some of you will be thrilled!

As for the comments: I can't read them all tonight. I am, strangely, honored that I'm the focus of attention when I never--never!--thought my original OpEdNews article would be picked up.

I'm sorry some of you have decided to focus on my mental state/ intentions. I am not offended at all, by the way. Such comments don't address the issues and roll right off me.

I'll merely re-quote what I think are the important points of my article. Think about them:

Professor Winston is no intellectual slouch. His admission of his shortcomings in anticipating the future should be a lesson in humility to us all.

Would that the peak oil hacks had such humility.


The moral of this long, seemingly irrelevant anecdote: Two medical doctors--a general practitioner and an Ophth guy--with literally decades of training and experience between them, were not able to answer our questions about this one little eye, but by God, the Archdruid knows that my partner is going to die from lack of insulin because of oil disruptions.

Yep. Humility is needed. If someone tells you that they have all the answers, then run away as fast as you can. There are difficult problems ahead and no one thing will solve them. And no one knows how things will turn out . . . I certainly don't. The issues are difficult and need to be discussed publicly. And I agree that those who make hyperbolic predictions do a disservice since they can marginalize the issue. But drama sells books and gets clicks.

Mike, for the record I've transcribed the (tiny part of the) JMG interview that I assume got this thing going:

Question: ....so many people depend on drugs today, um,,,,,

Archdruid: ....and most of those people are going to die ,,, I hate to say it so bluntly, but most of the people who are currently dependant on drugs for their survival are going to die.

Considering the context of the discussion; physical fitness and health in a post-peak world, I have to agree. I know many people that are reliant upon 'drugs' for their survival or functionality. Some are already making hard choices.

Welcome to reality, Mike.

Archdruid: ....and most of those people are going to die ,,, I hate to say it so bluntly, but most of the people who are currently dependant on drugs for their survival are going to die.

Wow. In the prior Drumbeat, mikeB said over and over that JMG said "EVERYONE" dependent on meds will die.

Amazing that such a stickler for facts as mikeB would exaggerate and misrepresent.


Perhaps he's due for some humility himself??

I apologize. If you look above the comment of mine, I was quoting another posted who used the word "all." In the article on OpEdNews I corrected the error.

Now--what damn difference does it make?

Now--what damn difference does it make?

To combine the two: all dependent on insuline are going to die in some countries

Is anyone else having trouble getting that podcast? It crashed both IE and Firefox on my computer when I clicked on the podcast link.

I heard your bit on NPR tonight, Mike. Good work, you spoke your point well. I still don't agree with you, but I was glad to hear you getting out there and being heard.

Yet I'm sorry that phrases starting like this one above "Would that the peak oil hacks.." are still ones that you are championing as well. It's kind of like the bash-fest that has now reburgeoned between the Reds and Blues over the AZ shooting. Even the comments on the Christian Science Monitor and Mother Jones were simply awful last night, with everyone in full-addict mode, working to get indignant zingers off at one-another.. Self-righteous Rage, and Fury and signifying nothing!

"Peak Oil Hacks" has exactly the same Nyah-nyah tone that has made Kunstler entirely worth skipping over .. 'PO Hacks' is framed to presume the entire crowd, even if you can then point to 'hacks', claiming that didn't mean 'everyone'..

There are constructive voices in this conversation, but as you ALMOST manage to point out, we need more of them, and we need to encourage them. Could you try to be one?

Nicely put. I'm afraid, though, that such subtle and intelligently gentle nudging will be completely lost on him.

I still suggest that if he continues to come here and then just smear ignorant and inaccurate insults about the entire populations of posters here, he should be equally gently flagged out of here.

"Do thy worst."

MikeBs behavior lately reminded me of something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then the 8 year old grandson came to visit. "Attention getting" and "acting out" came right to mind. He gets very upset when he isn't the center of attention. Knock down anyone or anything that is getting more attention,
Nate, JHK, Greer, Orlov, but just blow right up and preen when given the attention, NPR. I expect the grandson to grow out of it

Don in Maine

dohboi - Once again the obvious: If his words irritate why read them. I don't have any problem with Mike posts other than they've become boring. Nothing personal...just the same ole same ole. So I just skip past. I only stopped to read yours because your words often have value to me. Mike made his point. Some agree....some don't. Moving on would seem to be the best path right now IMHO.

I partly agree.. there are surely a number of obnoxious posters who it is easy enough to blow past and do as you say, let it just roll off.. but words do matter, it's really all we've got in this forum (charts being decoration, of course.. ;) ) , and given the kind of attention Mike's submissions have gotten, I have to say that what he's been doing has had a definite caustic effect that undermines the broader conversation.

I don't think this is his intention, but I feel the tone and the recriminating statements have been essentially antisocial, and this is why they are getting the pushback (nee, 'attention') that they are.

There is room for a lot of disagreements and differing opinion at TOD, but the voices that usually cry out 'free speech!' and 'groupthink!' when they are objected to are by and large, it seems to me, the ones who bring their message wrapped in a blanket of sneering putdowns and regal overcertainty.

This is a social place, and I think Antisocial Behavior has to be called out for what it is.

jokuhl - I definately agree about antisocial/rude behavior not being tolerated. But the only words that matter to me are those expresed clearly and respectfully. Words of a fool (and I'm not calling Mike a fool) mean absolutely nothing to me. Granted, I'm as subject to losing my temper with some folks as most. But the good side of being a two finger typer is that I usually get ahold of myself before I hit "Save".