Drumbeat: February 7, 2011

Thomas Homer-Dixon: Economies Can't Just Keep On Growing

Humanity has made great strides over the past 2,000 years, and we often assume that our path, notwithstanding a few bumps along the way, goes ever upward. But we are wrong: Within this century, environmental and resource constraints will likely bring global economic growth to a halt.
Many other interesting articles in Foreign Policy's special 40th anniversary issue.

World Social Forum starts as turmoil strikes Arab world

Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales told the crowd that capitalism was "dying in the face of a people's rebellion."

"There is a rebellion of the Arab peoples against US imperialism. The peoples' struggle is unstoppable. Even if the US government spends millions and millions to end these social movements, it is certain that they will not end.

"Capitalism is suffering a financial crisis, an energy crisis and is bringing us a food crisis. And it is the poor - be they farmers, workers or townspeople - who must pay for this crisis of capitalism."

Kurt Cobb: Is the modern anti-tax movement a product of increasing complexity?

It is Tainter's notion of diminishing returns that sheds light on the modern anti-tax movement. It seems no accident that the movement grows up in an era, the 1970s, of constrained energy supplies. These supplies are essential to maintaining the complex functioning of industrial societies. In the earlier part of the century the colossal achievements of the Federal Government led people to respect its efficacy. It softened the blow of the Great Depression, led the country to victory in World War II, and built a superhighway system that connected the entire country as well as other infrastructure to power the economy and to protect the environment. But these were the low-hanging fruit.

Today, adding lanes to highways relieves congestion only until enough development takes place next to it to clog it all over again. We've reached the point of diminishing returns.

Why Does Energy Efficiency’s Promise Remain Unfulfilled?

Among the many measures the world can take to wean itself off fossil fuels, few match the benefits of making homes, business, and cars more energy-efficient. But financial and psychological barriers have kept individuals, businesses, and governments from realizing efficiency’s great potential.

Texas to Probe Rolling Blackouts

Texas officials have ordered an investigation into rolling blackouts that struck the state's electric grid last week, including whether market manipulation played a role along with harsh weather in disrupting natural-gas and electricity supplies to millions of people.

New Mexico Legislature to talk gas outages

The New Mexico House Energy and Natural Resources Committee is calling on utility executives and regulators to address the causes of natural gas shutdowns that occurred across large swaths of the state last week.

Brown, BP Cleared of Lobbying for Release of Lockerbie Bomber Al-Megrahi

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government and oil company BP Plc were both cleared of lobbying for the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi from a Scottish jail in a report by the U.K.’s top civil servant.

East Africa Gas Potential Grows With New Anadarko Discovery

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The potential for East Africa to become a significant new natural gas producer grew Monday as Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) said it had made the fourth major deepwater discovery off Mozambique's coast.

Energy crisis is Achilles' heel for Bangladesh

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday likened the energy situation to Achilles' heel and said he is tired of speaking about the crisis, a deadly weakness of the country.

“I do not want to talk about the energy crunch as I have become tired mentioning it. It is an Achilles' heel not of this government, but of the country. There must be an improvement in the near future,” he said while addressing a team of business leaders in his office at the secretariat in the city.

Iraqi Electricity Ministry demands $6bn to resolve energy crisis

Baghdad - A spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of ElectricityIraqi Ministry of ElectricityLoading... said on Saturday that resolving the energy crisis that has plagued the country in recent years will cost an estimated $6bn.

Fuel shortage hits crisis level

Malawi’s fuel shortage hit crisis levels over the weekend, forcing some motorists to buy petrol on the black market at almost double the official price.

The Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL), a consortium of private oil companies that buys Malawi’s fuel, on Sunday attributed the critical shortage, more pronounced with the petrol, to lack of foreign currency to pay suppliers.

Iran subsidy cut hits demand

Iranian gas demand is falling in response to subsidy cuts.

The first utility bills with higher rates for gas are only now being distributed within the country, but consumption has already fallen sharply in anticipation of the price rises, said Hatef Haeri, a consultant with ICG Group of France, which has regional offices in Dubai and Tehran.

"Just the announcement of the new prices caused gas consumption to drop 14 per cent," Mr Haeri told the Gas Arabia conference in Abu Dhabi last week. "Power consumption has fallen by 6.2 per cent since the subsidy removals were announced."

Oil Rises for First Day in Three in London on Egypt, Equities

Oil rose in London for the first time in three days on concern that political upheaval in Egypt remains unresolved and may threaten supplies of crude from the Middle East.

North Sea Brent traded around $100 a barrel, extending its premium over futures in New York to the widest in three days. Hedge funds had raised bullish bets on oil by the most in eight weeks on concern the unrest would spread. Oil recouped earlier losses today as equities climbed for a fourth day in Europe on growing signs of economic recovery.

Average cost of gas nationwide rises to $3.13

NEW YORK — The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose slightly in the last two weeks and will likely hold steady for some time, according to an industry analyst.

U.S. faces $70 billion inflation hit

If the recent run-up in energy and agricultural commodities persists, U.S. consumers will have to shell out $20 billion more for energy and $50 billion more for food this year, Capital Economics estimates.

U.K. Natural Gas Falls as Norway Plants Return to Full Capacity

U.K. natural gas fell as Norway’s two biggest processing plants resumed normal operations after halts and Britain’s nuclear electricity supplies increased, damping demand for gas in power generation.

Hedge Fund Oil Wagers Surge Most in Eight Weeks on Egypt

Hedge funds raised bullish bets on oil by the most in eight weeks on concern that political unrest in Egypt will spread and disrupt supplies from oil-producing countries in the Middle East.

Egypt unrest may push oil above $110 - Kuwait official

(Reuters) - Global oil prices could exceed $110 a barrel if political unrest in Egypt continues, a member of Kuwait's Supreme Petroleum Council said on Sunday.

Learsy: Risks to the Suez Canal Set the Stage for Falsely Hyping the Price of Oil

Over the past days, the airwaves and talking heads have been frightening us with somber predictions of what would happen to the price of oil should current events in Egypt shutter the canal. The oil boys and their allies can barely contain themselves in their appearances of concern and like minded predictions of calamity, such as today's Reuters report quoting Imad al-Atiqi, member of Kuwait's Supreme Petroleum Council -- "I expect oil to reach $110 during the first half of 2011... A huge amount of oil passes through the Suez Canal..." thereby ever nudging oil prices skyward with Brent Crude already surpassing $100 a barrel. Yet has anyone stopped to determine what the closure of the Suez Canal would actually mean to the oil market in dollars and cents?

Mubarak Divides Egypt Opposition Parties to Carry Out Mandate

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who may have won concessions yesterday allowing him to serve the rest of his mandate, did so with the same tactics that kept him in office since 1981: Divide and conquer the opposition.

For Apache in Egypt, the oil keeps flowing

FORTUNE -- As the political unrest in Egypt continues, corporate America is watching and holding its breath. Already, many companies with operations in Egypt have had to adjust. Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500), for example, had to close its Cairo facilities and evacuate foreign national employees. The protest is affecting the worldwide commodities markets too -- oil prices spiked to $100 this week and have stayed high on the assumption that the conflict in Egypt could disrupt crucial oil transit routs.

Egyptian government makes new promises of reform

CAIRO – The Egyptian government pledged Monday to investigate official corruption and election fraud but thousands of protesters swore not to move from the heart of downtown Cairo until President Hosni Mubarak steps down.

After two weeks of instability that pushed the most populous Arab nation to the edge of anarchy, the crisis appears to be settling into at least temporary stasis.

Efforts to pivot from Hosni Mubarak led by past lessons

WASHINGTON — The autocratic leader has protected U.S. strategic interests during decades in power, prompting American officials to give little more than lip service to the need for democratic reforms — until they watch in surprise and alarm as he faces a popular uprising.

We've seen this movie before.

Egypt has a population crisis as well as a democracy crisis

Egypt's problems run much deeper than its autocratic regime, and one of its biggest problems is unsustainable population growth.

Freedom in Mideast Carries Cost We All Might Pay

Clearly, a fire has begun. Whether it spreads or not depends on the quality of the tinder in neighboring states, and the Middle East is home to some of the most oppressive regimes on the planet.

Natural gas comes into power

The standing of gas as an alternative fuel supply has been greatly boosted in recent years, with industry analysts trumpeting the arrival of the energy of the future. But major costs, financial and environmental, may be attached to its mass production.

US not ready for Arctic oil drilling, say officials

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States is ill-equipped to deal with a major oil catastrophe in Alaska, the Coast Guard admiral who led the US response to the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill and others have warned.

Only one of the US Coast Guard's three ice breakers is operational and would be available to respond to a disaster off Alaska's northern coast, which is icebound for much of the year, retired admiral Thad Allen told reporters this week.

Former Alaska lieutenant governor Fran Ulmer said that before drilling in the Arctic, the United States must "invest in the Coast Guard."

A Snow Dragon in the Arctic

China is stepping up its activities in a warming and changing Arctic Ocean Basin. While Beijing's interests and policy objectives there remain unclear, it is increasingly active and vocal on the international stage on issues concerning the region.

Israel to step up LNG import plans after Egypt cut

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel is to step up plans for an offshore platform for importing liquefied natural gas in the wake of the weekend attack on an Egyptian gas pipeline, a cabinet minister said on Sunday.

Alaska lawmakers propose ditching pipeline plan

JUNEAU, Alaska – Alaska lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to abandon a centerpiece of former Gov. Sarah Palin's administration: a state-sanctioned effort to advance a major natural gas pipeline.

The measure sponsored by at least five Republican representatives underscored the impatience and skepticism that many lawmakers have expressed about the current process and a belief the state is no closer than it was several years ago to realizing the long-hoped-for line.

BP ex-CEO in talks on Abu Dhabi oil firm: report

LONDON (Reuters) – Former BP boss Tony Hayward has been approached to launch a new Abu Dhabi-backed oil firm less than six months after he quit in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Sunday Times reported.

The new oil firm would have several billion dollars in funding from Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, the paper said, adding that the plan was still in its early stages and was one of several Hayward is considering.

Chesapeake Energy to Raise $5 Billion by Selling Shale Oil Fields, Stakes

Chesapeake Energy Corp., the most- active U.S. natural-gas driller, intends to raise $5 billion by selling its Fayetteville shale holdings and its stakes in two companies. It will use the money to cut debt.

Iran boasts Mideast's biggest oil refinery

Iran claimed to have the largest oil refinery in the Middle East after the inauguration on Saturday of an expansion to an existing facility by Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi, media reports said.

Iran oil spill hits Gulf coast

TEHERAN - AN AGEING oil pipeline has ruptured in southern Iran contaminating vast patches of the coast and farmland near the town of Deylam on the Gulf, the official IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

'Over 20 kilometres (12 miles) of Deylam coast and 500 hectares of farmland have been contaminated by the oil spill,' said Behrouz Atabakzadeh, the environmental protection chief in Bushehr province.

Why oil (not cars) is driving Canada’s economy

Kriska Transportation president Mark Seymour knows exactly what happens when the price of oil pushes $100 (U.S.) a barrel. Trucking companies like his hike their fuel surcharges – and Canadians pay more for all the things they buy.

“The bottom line is that it dramatically affects the price of goods to the consumer,” said Mr. Seymour, whose company runs 400 trucks from its headquarters in Prescott, Ont.

AGL Cuts 2011 Profit Outlook After ‘Extreme Weather’

AGL Energy Ltd., the Australian power and gas retailer, cut its full-year profit forecast after surging temperatures boosted demand at a time when the utility had to buy supplies at increased wholesale prices.

Nepal faces 14 hours of daily power cuts from Monday

KATHMANDU — Nepal’s state-run power distribution monopoly will enforce 14 hours of daily power cuts in the country from Monday, an official said Sunday. The Nepal Electricity Authority decided to raise power cuts from 12 hours daily after further drop in the water levels of rivers feeding the country’s hydropower projects.

Iran unveils missiles and satellites as warning to foes

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran showed off new missile and satellite technology on Monday, and told its enemies it had "complete domination" of the entrance to the oil-rich Gulf.

Iraq govt wants Kurd oil deals amended

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was misquoted as saying the central government would honour Kurdish production-sharing oil contracts, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said on Monday.

Shares in Norwegian oil firm DNO had moved sharply higher on Monday on a media report quoting Maliki as saying Iraq would honour Kurdish production-sharing contracts like that of DNO.

Solar farms sucking up green subsidies as well as sun

Government funding aimed at encouraging self-generated green power is being diverted to large-scale solar panel installations.

Ontario expects rates to drop for green power

OTTAWA -- The Canadian province of Ontario is expected to reduce the rich rates it pays for green energy next year, but the government will introduce changes in a way that continues to support investment in clean power sources, the minister of energy told Reuters on Wednesday.

"I think most in the industry would expect that the rates will likely go down, but we're confident we'll do that in a way that maintains confidence in the investment climate in Ontario," Brad Duguid said in an interview.

Scullery Made

Whilst I, and many of my dark wardrobed colleagues, may spend hours lying awake at night antagonising over the nuances of the relationship between the stairs and the rising chimney breast (to my mind one of the key spatial manoeuvres in a home), it’s often ultimately the service spaces that are the central narrative of day to day life, regardless of the type or size of property.

Charles Moore’s 1974 seminal work ’The Place of Houses’ calls this the order of machines. Alongside his more seductive explorations into the order of rooms and the order of dreams I suspect the machines are too often neglected by his readers. In our 21st century adventure to peak oil and beyond I say this order needs to be shown a bit more respect.

The scullery needs to make a comeback.

Car-Dependent Suburbs May Be Slums of The Future, Says Urban Planning Report

The Australian Planner is the national journal published by the PIA, and the current edition, December 2010, is a special issue on Peak Oil, entitled "Cities and Oil Vulnerability". Not an unknown subject to many readers of these pixels, but not the usual sort of material normally found in such an august publication as a national urban planning journal.

Back to basics cool again

It was the death of the television that started it - the evolution of Daryl Neal and Natalie Hormann.

Not long ago, the couple were suburban professionals Neal's background is in industrial design and Hormann's is in law and corporate strategy - living in Lower Hutt with their two young sons.

Community: In transition

We may live in a remote outcrop in the middle of the North Sea, but in a sense our fortunes are further out of our hands than ever before. Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition movement, a loose global alliance aimed at helping communities meet the twin challenges posed by climate change and Peak Oil. He wrote in 2008 that our society is “in reality three days away from hunger at any moment, evoking the old saying that ‘civilisation is only three meals deep’”.

Totnes: Britain's town of the future

Totnes in Devon might be the most forward-thinking eco settlement in the world. As fossil-fuel reserves dwindle and the economy contracts, will resident-led Transition Towns become the way that we all live?

Stolen Carbon Permits Won’t Enter Market, Austrian Registry Says

Emissions permits missing from Austria won’t be allowed to re-enter the market, the country’s registry said as Europe tries to rebound from hacking attacks.

US won't halt climate action: Combet

Global efforts to tackle climate change can progress even if the United States lacks the political will, the Gillard government believes.

A US emissions trading scheme is looking less likely, following congressional elections last year.

But Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says moves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions won't necessarily hinge on what the world's biggest economy does.

Climate Change to Force Mass Migration, Study Warns

That weather-related catastrophes cause a lot of destruction is well known. But the prospect that increasing floods, droughts and storms will prompt many millions of people to migrate to safer areas is still poorly understood and anticipated, according to a forthcoming report from the Asian Development Bank.

“In the past year alone, extreme weather in Malaysia, Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines and Sri Lanka has caused temporary or longer-term dislocation of millions,” the organization, which is based in Manila, Philippines, said on Monday, citing the study, which is to be released in early March. “This process is set to accelerate in coming decades as climate change leads to more extreme weather.”

Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, is writing a book about peak oilers. He has a lot of anecdotal information, but would like some statistically significant data. To that end, he's posted a survey here.

The usual suspects will, of course, go wild over suggestions that global warming has something to do with the food crisis; those who insist that Ben Bernanke has blood on his hands tend to be more or less the same people who insist that the scientific consensus on climate reflects a vast leftist conspiracy.

But the evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we’re getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we’ll face in a warming world. And given our failure to act on greenhouse gases, there will be much more, and much worse, to come.


Thanks for posting this. I was going to post the same thing, albeit a different snip. Krugman gets a twofer. He recognizes that rising food price are not a function of speculation and the global warming is a factor in their rise.

This is one economist that deserves some credit for understanding many of the underlying factors behind the what has become the long emergency. Those who don't want to spend the money now to combat global warming will reap higher costs later. The fried chickens are already coming home to roost.

Food prices are not too high, they are too low. That is the problem.


Agriculture has been drained of human and material resources. People have moved to the city for a better life. And farmers have not been able to receive an adequate return in many countries for many years.

The population of the county where live is lower now than 50 years ago. Building sites have been demolished and farms combined in attempts at economies of scale and as a result of government subsidies based on land and production.

When I graduated from high school in 1960, fifty years ago, corn was about $1/bu. having risen from about 30 cents per bushel in the Great Depression.

According to this Federal Reserve inflation calculator it should be about $7.37 per bushel to be equivalent to the $1/bu. of 1960.


The local elevator price today is about $6.50. So we have about another 80 cents to go to equal the inflation adjusted price of $1 in 1960. And $1 per bushel was considered dirt cheap then.

That is why I didn't go into farming at the time.

Food prices are not too high, they are too low. That is the problem.

X, you do realize that there quite a few billion humans living on the very edge of survival outside of your US centric world, right? People who have to subsist on less than $2.00 a day and for whom the price of food is already for all practical purposes out of reach.

Granted, if you are trying to say that a fossil fuel subsidized 'Green Revolution' is still supporting population overshoot then in that sense I have to agree with you. Which unfortunately makes the consequences all the more dire.

That is why I didn't go into farming at the time.

Yeah, good thing, that! Though I somehow got the impression that the corn for ethanol gig wasn't all that bad given the mandated market and subsidies... though I guess that isn't 'real' farming.

Maybe it's because they can't make a living at farming anymore?
You know, because food's too cheap?

Just saying.

I agree with R4andom. I, for one, fail to see why we need to expend our resources of topsoil, water, fertilizer, etc to produce a product which we are "morally obliged" to sell at giveaway prices, or actually give away, to support the out-of-control population growth of those who fail to be responsible. And all the while, paying top dollar to import the oil to produce that food.

We deserve a fair price for our exports, and if there are countries who can't afford to give us that fair price, they should figure out for themselves how they're going to eat. Maybe they could grow it for themselves if our depressed prices weren't putting their farmers out of business.

Having the price of food artificially depressed worldwide is not good, long term, for anybody.

I don't see anybody advocating unfair prices for farm produce. But there is something morally perverse about mandating the use of good land to convert oil and gas into alcohol for automobiles, especially when the means involve a soil exhausting crop like corn.

What I've noted over the decades is that farmers are pushed out of business not by low prices per se, but by their financial exposure (mortgage, loans) when prices drop. Farmers without mortgages, usually older or those whose parents sold to them below market value, survive. And it has little or nothing to do with smarts or willingness to work. It's almost always a matter of timing.

More and more, the price for land is being set by deep pocketed corporate interests, who do just fine mono-cropping corn and who have a well founded appreciation of government intervention of the ethanol mandate/subsidy type. This bodes well for those farmers looking to retire, but is less than promising for those who want to start a small operation.

"What I've noted over the decades is that farmers are pushed out of business not by low prices per se, but by their financial exposure (mortgage, loans) when prices drop."

At best, a partial explanation.

Low prices start the ball rolling, I know many guys who've elected to get out of farming while they are still solvent. After years of making 0-3% ROI, or less, they've just said "for what?" I can make alot more in town without the worry.

And the small farmers already are doing just that, getting by with off farm income.

Or the nature of the beast forces decisions they'd not really want to make. Baling wire solutions only last so long, there comes a time when you have to buy new equipment. And the new has always been sized for the next larger size generation. A double whammy, you must get bigger to pay for it, or get out.

And then there's the problem of transition. Very few kids want to take over the operation. Most want to only get out once they are old enough. Maybe that will change, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Hi doug

Breathe a little sigh of relief:


At best, a partial explanation.

I think you're absolutely right. There are a lot of contributory factors, which conspire in different measure depending on place (referring to farm sector as well as location) and time (referring to ongoing processes such as mechanization and trade policy, etc) to marginalize farmers. I didn't mean to say that farmers are pushed out by bankruptcy alone. A farm operation can be profitable, but not viable since in family farming 'profit' is really another word for wages, and those wages can start looking pretty meager in the face of other opportunities.

One of my brothers operated the family farm for a number of years, in addition to his own place. But he's done, since there is only so much battering a body can handle. His sons make too much money elsewhere. I'm not interested. Another brother makes good money without a lot of effort on his vineyard, and isn't motivated to add stress to his life. And so it goes.

We're thankful for Canada's open immigration policy, which has provided us with tenants and potential buyers. If they buy, it will be without a trip to the bank, as they are from a culture in which financing is arranged within the extended family, which when you think about it, is a kind of social insurance putting them beyond to fangs of institutional financiers. A good position to be in when profits dip.

Maybe that's the future

their financial exposure

Thus supporting the idea that Banks are 'vampire squids' - there to suck the life outta ya.

those who want to start a small operation

The CSA model, Wendell Barry and the WAY out there "Peacock" "berry plan" http://thepeacock.com/node/2045 (Warning - the peacock is a whole lotta chaff to find nuggets like, say, rock based mulch)

Even the Mittleider Method may work for a "small" market garden.

Another part of the model "storing electricity" - Wind machines with solar heat driven ammonia absorption chillers which run a food grade freeze drying machine so you add value to your crops by removing the water/make 'em cheaper to get to market/being able to store 'em for years.

Thus supporting the idea that Banks are 'vampire squids' - there to suck the life outta ya.

I most vehemently protest and feel I must stand up for one of my most favorite cephalopods of all, the much maligned and undeservedly so, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the vampire squid, a most noble creature if ever there was one.

To cope with life in the suffocating depths, vampire squid have developed several radical adaptations. Of all deep-sea cephalopods, their mass-specific metabolic rate is the lowest. Their blue blood's hemocyanin binds and transports oxygen more efficiently than in other cephalopods (Seibel et al. 1999), aided by gills with especially large surface area.
Source Wikipedia

It is a great disservice to this highly evolved and superbly efficient creature to compare it to parasitic bankers.

Mea Culpa Sir.

I'd retract the original post, cept well, you responded so I can't edit to compare 'em to Slime Molds.

Yep, those parasitic awful bankers giving people loans so they can buy stuff that they wouldn't be able to afford otherwise... how evil of them. If only we had no bankers and no ability to borrow money... the world would be so much better, wouldn't it?

If you don't like bankers, don't take out a loan. Pretty simple... no one is forcing you.

awful bankers giving people loans

Lets break that down.

awful - definition of awful by the Free Online Dictionary ...
Extremely bad or unpleasant; terrible:

Give | Define Give at Dictionary.com
/gɪv/ Show Spelled [giv] Show IPA verb, gave, giv·en, giv·ing, noun. –verb (used with object). 1. to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation;

Loan definition and meaning - define Loan
Loan - definition and meaning of Loan - A sum of money borrowed from a lender for a specified period of time, that must be repaid, usually with interest.

No wonder you called the bankers "BAD" - they claim (as per the real estate web master citation below) to be "giving" something that is not actually a gift.

Worse yet is the idea that A sum of money is actually taken from a lender and returned. The "sum" is nothing more than an accounting entry, the "money" did not physically exist. And at the point where reserve banking is done away with (Per Chairman Ben) - the 'sums of money' can become infinite!

Thank you for sharing the truth about Bankers with TOD.

And from the "real estate web masters"
Definition of Loan - define:Loan
Loan - A loan is a sum of money that is given by one party to another for a limited amount of time. It is to be repaid according to terms of the loan
(not much of a gift then eh?)

If you don't like bankers, don't take out a loan. Pretty simple... no one is forcing you.

Does the word usury, mean anything to you?

Credit Card Rate Averages
  Avg. APR Last Week 6 Months ago
National Average 14.68% 14.68% 14.43%
Bad Credit 24.95% 24.95% 20.32%
Source: CreditCards.com

Updated: 12-29-10

BTW, Bad Credit is for that segment of the population that is unemployed doesn't have health care and is on food stamps because they are just too lazy to get a job that pays living wages. /sarcasm

Read more: http://www.creditcards.com/press-releases/CreditCards-Weekly-Credit-Card...

Does the word usury, mean anything to you?

I'm guessing it means more money and more misery for our ghostly, ethereal shade*.

Wonder what happens when you combine misery and the ghostly? This - http://www.miseryghost.co.uk/

* http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Shades

Banks are also caught in the trap.
Either more loans or higher rates and charges. They have shareholders like you and me to answer to. So I guess it's the moms and dads that are bad. We support the charade.
There is no other explanation than the need to grow to stay viable. The sharks circle every business.

The pond though is getting smaller, like the airlines they have been reacting to the smaller pond syndrome for a decade. As growth is curtailed the best way to stay afloat is to have the next business expire. So it's a matter of outlasting the other guy, usually the fattest, most viable and best managed from the outset survive, (barring other imponderables).

People with borrowed money purchase goods inflating the price. Those who forego credit, pay the opportunity cost of deferring their consumption. Likely the interest collected mostly equals the opportunity cost of deferred consumption in the long run. If the opportunity cost were less than the interest incurred, then folks would save rather than take out loans. When the opportunity cost of deferred purchases exceeds the interest rate for a loan, then people take out a loan because it is in their self interest to do so.

Of course the true opportunity cost of an action is not known until future events play out. The prevailing interest rate is an indicator of opportunity cost that takes into account knowledge of the present. However it is by no means an oracle of the future.

If people did not borrow money, then there would be no demand for borrowed money. The interest rate would fall. That is the best indicator of the opportunity cost of not borrowing money would fall. This sounds to me like the opportunity cost of deferring purchases in order to save would fall. Of course this is not airtight since prevailing interest rates are only an indicator of opportunity cost, not an oracle of true opportunity cost which can only be calculated for sure after the fact.

Coming at it from another direction, people spending borrowed money to consume goods inflate the price of those goods making them less affordable to those who do not wish to borrow. Increasing demand for borrowed money tends to increase the interest rate which at first blush would have no effect on the opportunity cost of saving since in theory savers could demand a higher interest rate for their money although in practice, interest paid to savers tends to be quite low.

Demand for borrowed money in order to purchase goods at inflated prices continues to grow until the interest becomes unsustainable. This may lead to a steady state or a catastrophic collapse.

Keeping the interest rate artificially low keeps interest paid to savers low while doing nothing to address the opportunity cost of saving ( such as letting the interest rate rise would ).

Really, it's the borrowers 'fault' when things don't work out. They are the ones who made the irrational decision to pay interest for franchise in the economy, for an opportunity that did not end up meeting the interest expectations. The lucky ones who were able to pay off their debts have consumed the best opportunities, and their gain represents the opportunity cost paid by those who saved.

Even an unlikely chance to succeed is a nonzero chance to succeed. People are willing to take such chances in order to participate. Nonparticipation = 100% chance of failure.

One could save rather than borrow, but what's the point until you've gone bankrupt and are forced to?

Come on, double or nothing!

In the same way slavery is the fault of slaves. If slaves simply killed themselves rather than work for their masters, then nobody would own slaves. This strategy works well for Cats. No matter how much you beat your cat, your cat will never do your laundry.

Through their uncritical obedience (or else) to their evil masters, it is slaves who have perpetuated the institution, and hence slaves have deserved to be slaves. Perhaps slaves should obey their masters because those commiting the sin of obedience to a master other than God, have no right to escape punishment for disobedience.

You say you would never be a slave? Well see if you still feel that way tied to a post and bleeding from a flogging, but aside from that, it's well known that sometimes slaves are freed. Sometimes, a debt that could evolve into outright slavery is paid back. As a live free person, why not take the chance that the condition will be temporary. There are many ( maybe most of us? ) whose ancestors were once slaves or at least something like it. Who are you to judge success harshly?

Sure you could decide to pack it in early once you see you're gonna lose your freedom. But then you haven't got all your skin in the game. With that additude, you're gonna lose.


If the opportunity cost were less than the interest incurred, then folks would save rather than take out loans. When the opportunity cost of deferred purchases exceeds the interest rate for a loan, then people take out a loan because it is in their self interest to do so.

I don't think that is how it works. People borrow money to increase consumption because they are motivated by advertisements. There is also an element of wanting to keep up with the Joneses (or Wongs or Patels as the case may be :-)). I think the key principle here is whether the individual has the ability to defer gratification. People who can't defer gratification generally make poor choices in life (whether it is spending money, not putting enough effort into educating themselves, eating a lot of junk food, having early and unprotected sex, etc).

People don't live forever, and there is always the possibility of an early and unexpected death. It certainly makes sense to value the present more than the future to some extent. How much precisely is a value judgement with no clearly correct setting.

Hello Koyaanisquatsi,

re: "..."morally obliged" to sell at giveaway prices, or actually give away, to support the out-of-control population growth of those who fail to be responsible."

Here is where I can address an issue that intersects significantly with our "global problematique" - and yet, is beneath the radar of most people.

1) "morally obliged": if you read the post below referring to the "King Corn" film, you'll see that the US food policy - (not that the US is alone in this) - actually promotes *less* local food self-sufficiency in most any region of the so-called developing nations.

So, it's part of a questionable narrative that the US is - (willing or not) - "saving" the world, agriculturally speaking. It's more like a complicated feedback loop set up to benefit US producers in the first place. Or, let me put it this way: someone - perhaps corporate seed producers? - in the first place.

Follow the lobbyist money trail to get an idea of what's really going on.

2) The issue I'm trying to get to, though, is this one:
"...out-of-control population growth of those who fail to be responsible..."

The reality is that for the vast majority of the female population of the developing world, men dominate in both the private and public spheres.

If a human being has the right and power to hit another human being at any time of his choosing, for any excuse (his rationalization) - how is it meaningful to talk about consensus WRT matters of reproductive behavior between these two human beings?

I claim it is not meaningful.

The upside of my claim is the following: I claim that male culture, beginning anywhere, can exert a positive influence. And that male culture in the industrialized nations can greatly influence and change this power dynamic for the better everywhere - "first world" and "third world."

How? Via the usual channels: educate, reflect upon and change (if necessary) one's own behavior, promote and challenge this behavior amongst one's peers, and become vocal for change. Examples (just a few):

Trauma is costly.

the price of food is already for all practical purposes out of reach.

Historically food was 30% of your budget. Food prices are being kept low as part of a 'keep 'em fed so they have less reason to be upset' plan. (loose shoes, warm places, ghost of Nixon still haunts us ... all that song/dance)

the corn for ethanol gig wasn't all that bad given the mandated market and subsidies

It seems to matter little what market you are in, the mandated ones do better than the unmandated ones.

Look at how well 'finance stocks' have done in the post mandate/TARP bailout world.

i've been to some of those places in Africa. I've noticed that cheap and free corn from UN, EU, USAID programs destroyed the motivation of the nationals
to be involved in farming. How can they compete with cheap/free? The good news is those with strategic vision are buying up the land like the
Saudis and the Chinese. So now the nationals can be employees of large landowners from other nations. Lots of unattended consequences out there.

Which of these consequences do you see as unintended?

Both of you are right. Right now prices are too high for the consumer (especially those in developing countries), but too low for producers (ditto).

For decades this imbalance was kept in check by various government policies such as subsidies (both producer and consumer), as well as trade and tax policies, but this system has become somewhat strained of late.

In the United States, our farm policies are centered on supporting commodity prices, which has resulted in overproduction of a handful of crops (corn and soybeans, most notably) to the detriment of others. This in turn results in depressed commodity prices globally, which drives smaller producers out of business (Mexican farmers, for example). This then leads to situations where disruptions in large producer areas have an even greater impact on prices worldwide.

A good description of these policies can be found in the documentary "King Corn," which I highly recommend. Also, check out "Life and Debt" for a look at the effects of these policies on developing world producers during the all-time low commodity prices of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Thanks for this perspective and for great suggestions. Here's another source of a lot of great info and activism on this front:


Food prices are not too high, they are too low. That is the problem.

I actually agree with that (without denying the reality mentioned elsewhere, that a couple of billion people do not get enough food, primarily because they can't afford it).

But it is the reality in the middle-class (and even blue-collar) Western world that food prices are - historically - absurdly low. Many of us now spend a tiny proportion of our income on food - especially fresh food and other farmers' produce - that hasn't been through the high value-adding pizza-making machine, or turned into Pop Tarts.

Having spent a lot of time working with small family farmers and small-business food producers - it is staggering how little they actually make - relative to the hours of slog and the miles they drive each month. Food (especially good food) has been driven down to unsustainable levels - and of course so many of their input costs are not really being met by either the farmer, or the consumer. In many countries, farming under the current paradigm is simply unsustainable, without the massive subsidies that political machinations deliver to them.

If we paid more for good food, then we would have more of it - and we might have more good people entering the industry. Seems reasonable to me.

Roasting roosters?

There have been a lot of comments on TheOilDrum over the years disparaging economics as a discipline and economists in general. I've yet to see any of this 'criticism' match the quality of the criticism of the discipline and great numbers of its practioners, including some of the most famous, provided by some of the practioners themselves, Krugman among them.

What strikes me is that among 'mainstream' economists it is the 'new Keynesians' who appear to demonstrate most awareness of resource constraint issues (resources include environmental sinks). I note with interest that recently 'new Marxists' have joined in the upswell of concern about resource availability. This will undoubtedly prove to God's chosen messengers that peak oil is a leftist plot, on a par with climate change.

Following a link provided by Brad deLong, I recently discovered a fellow named Tom Walker who in addition to working as a cashier in a co-op food store in Vancouver, BC, has a very useful blog on economics: http://ecologicalheadstand.blogspot.com

Walker is working on a book the draft of which is available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/41965697/Jobs-Liberty-and-the-Bottom-Line

From the book:

In a 1958 address to the group Resources for the Future, John Kenneth Galbraith asked whether it was reasonable to ignore the question of restraining the economy's appetite for materials. "Yet in the literature of the resource problem," Galbraith observed, "this is the forbidden question. Over it hangs a nearly total silence." He compared this silence to agreeing not to mention speed in a discussion of how to avoid automobile accidents. Galbraith went on to inquire whether our happiness would be greatly impaired by more modest consumption. In the half-century since Galbraith made those remarks, many scientists and economists have asked that forbidden question about restraining the appetite for materials.

John's son, James Galbraith, another notable new Keynesian, regularly raises the energy problem in his public presentations, many of which are available here: http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/

I would especially recommend the brief talk James Galbraith gave regarding the implications of rising resource costs for economic systems. (sorry, I don't know how to transfer the link).

Here is a link to a paper from Chen and Galbraith, A Biophysical Approach to Production Theory that will interest some: http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/papers/utip_55.pdf

There have been a lot of comments on TheOilDrum over the years disparaging economics as a discipline and economists in general. I've yet to see any of this 'criticism' match the quality of the criticism of the discipline and great numbers of its practioners, including some of the most famous, provided by some of the practioners themselves, Krugman among them.

You won't see me knocking Krugman. I have a chapter on econophysics in The Oil ConunDrum and I elaborate on some of Krugman's earlier work.

Here is a link to a paper from Chen and Galbraith, A Biophysical Approach to Production Theory that will interest some: http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/papers/utip_55.pdf

That looks interesting. I took a stab at deconstructing B.S. (Black-Scholes) here: http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2010/10/black-scholes.html, and it has some of the same feel. I didn't include this in the book because I thought it might be too far out there or too contrary. What Chen and Galbraith are trying to do is understand how production grows and shrinks:

Any market that turns a positive return will survive and prosper. Any market that turns a negative return will shrink and disappear

At the root, these partial differential equations like B.S. describe systems with negative or positive feedback and they will result in either shrinkage or growth. When there are no constraints and it is just funny money, the quants try to get these systems to grow w/o bound. When you put in the finite constraints, i.e. reality, things will start decaying.

Global warming, of course, is happening. But what extent of the storms of this year is due to the warming and not pure weather is another question. If this is repeated year after year, Krugman is right. If not, blowing his whistle too early(but not wrongly).

I didn't think he'd speculate this easily.
(and no, I a not a denier).

Even if it is repeated year after year, the deniers will not be swayed. Anyway, the precautionary principle should apply here.

Even if it is repeated year after year, the deniers will not be swayed.

Agreed. Sadly so, though, but agreed.

Probably in some way the BAU crowd are saving us initially. I just wonder if there is a fast economic collapse how quickly the particulates will be washed from the atmosphere............Maybe a few weeks.
Then there will be no mask left for the suns rays.

If then we fully understand what we have done to the biosphere, would we stop the source of the problem like we did with CFC's? I mean with CFC's we didn't try to engineer a way out like we are trying to do with renewable energy, as in bio-fuels, windmills, solar and the like. They are akin to nicotine patches, we need to go cold turkey or as close to as possible.

Ask the question if the russian drought of last year would have happened at CO2 concentrations of 280 instead of 390 PPM. The answear to that is most likely "no". And in that case, we have a clear candidate for AGW-caused food production disturbances.

All weather events are due to climate change. We don't have a control in this experiment.

LOL. Perhaps Venus is a planet to ponder.

But indeed we have no control -- only a historical record.

Hence the denier attacks exploit this problem.

I agree that global warming is happening, but we may have already past the point of no return.
Don't think that there is much we can do to stop it at this point.
After fossil fuels run out and a couple thousand years, the earth will heal itself.
Sometimes we must face the fact that people cannot fix every problem.

What in tarnation are you talkin about??

"Don't think that there is much we can do...people cannot fix every problem"

"people" and what people do ARE the problem.

And do you have some special time telescope that tells you for sure that 'the earth will heal itself' in a 'couple thousand years'??

You do know that we were already deep into a mass extinction event before the effects of GW started kicking in. Now add GW, we are basically hitting life on earth with two dinosaur-extinguishing asteroids.

There is no way to know for certain how life will recover from such a double blow.

Will it double the usual millions to tens of millions of years that it usually takes for life to recover from a major extinction event?

Or will it increase the recovery time by an order of magnitude or two? At those time frames you are pushing up against the time when the sun will become too hot for life on earth.

And can you be sure that an actual asteroid or other 'natural' cataclysm won't smack the living world back just as it is starting to recover.

I am constantly amazed that people who are absolutely sure that humans, the most changeable of species, will never be able to stop themselves from geocide in the coming years or decades, but on the other hand claim to know as a certainty exactly how all of complex life will unfold over the next thousands, millions, or hundreds of millions of years.

I can't tell what will happen, but I can tell which was we can choose among.

1: Total extinction of all life (the Venus syndrome or other)
Yes: Game Over
No: Proceed to 2

2: Humans survive
Yes: Proceed to 3
No: Evolution gets a chance again.

3: Humans will continue to extinct species. Destruction of all natural life?
Yes: Game over
No: (Humans destroy them self) Evolution gets a chance again.
No: (Humans get permanently stuck in stone age technology): Stallment. Life survives, but evolution will never create a new species again.

No: (Humans get permanently stuck in stone age technology)

The trick to get outta here is the living within the solar budget. We can do plenty of life enhancing things with metals and knowledge - what kind of event kills off the knowledge but leaves enough of man about to get 'stuck'?

No: (Humans get permanently stuck in stone age technology):

"Stuck" in the stone age? You say that like it's a bad thing.

Consider this - the life expectancy of a human born 10-12000 years ago was in the 45+ range. Once we began digging in the diet in a more organized fashion our life expectancy dropped rather precipitously to 30+ and then slowly came back up. We wouldn't pass that 45+ threshold until sometime in the 19th century.

There are other advantages to the way of being that you denigrate as "stone age" as well, including but not limited to stronger social bonds and enhanced spirituality that contribute to an overall "fuller" life experience.

And while I don't want to romanticize this into some "garden of eden" (in fact, the best life I would want would include challenges, unlike the mythical eden) - the reality is that large scale or endemic human on human violence only shows up in a couple of places among the many archeological sites that could be described as "stone age." And even at that, it's not entirely clear that violence wasn't the result of the recent appearance of farming societies in the cultural world of the neolithic.

(For an interesting read on the changes that have occurred in archeological assessments of the neolithic and late paleolithic, see After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC by Steven Mithen)

My point in using the word "stuck" was not to say if it was a bad thing or not, but simply that we can not get out of it. English is a secondary language to me and I don'tknow all the nuances. If there was a negative value in the word, I was not aware. The swedish translation would be "get stuck" == "fastna". "Fastna" derived from "fast" == firm or hard. Nu value added.

My favourite dream would be a high tech, low population, in balance with nature kind of world. With space flight and air ships.

The earth will die out when the sun dies out. So in millions of years we will all be gone somewhere else anyway. The earth has went through many changes, and GW is one of them that we are experiencing now. There will be many other new changes in the future.

Again, people cannot fix the problems caused by these changes, we must adapt.
If people are the only problem then it will be resolved when people are extinct.
Are you worried about human extinction on earth? Why? There are millions of other planets.

Nihilism: the last refuge of the denialist.


Signatures of Speculation

(From Krugman's blog today.)

But remember, every purchase of a futures contract is also a sale — there’s someone on the other side. And neither the purchase nor the sale changes the physical quantity of the commodity available to the market.

So if and when I see signs that speculation is really driving up prices, I’ll say so. But the signature just isn’t there right now.

Prices are driven by supply and demand. Krugman fully understands that. Global warming disrupts weather patterns causing floods and draughts and this affects the supply. One man betting that the price will go up while another takes the opposite side of the contract, betting that prices will go down, does not affect the supply or demand one iota.

Why is such a very simple thing so hard for so many to understand?

Ron P.

Why is such a very simple thing so hard for so many to understand?

First, where you stand depends on where you sit.

Second, media and people want to identify specific conspirators because this simple analysis seems more amenable to a solution. Just hang the greedy and pass some laws and all will be better. A more fundamental analysis will reveal that the problem is extremely difficult and perhaps impossible to solve. Food and oil prices are not solvable simply by passing laws, hanging the guilty. At best, this would require a radical restructuring of the entire world's economy or mass dieoff or both. Neither of these things can be fixed during the news cycle.

Dealing with the real issues would require an admission that our whole way of life is at fault and would require a fundamental attack and overthrow of the corporate/consumer way of life.

The failure to understand so called speculation and its ramifications is equally shared on the both the right and the left. Krugman deserves credit for cutting through the b.s.

Good work. I thought I was the only one driven to post like this.

Why is such a very simple thing so hard for so many to understand?

First, where you stand depends on where you sit.

Second, media and people want to identify specific conspirators because this simple analysis seems more amenable to a solution. Just hang the greedy and pass some laws and all will be better. A more fundamental analysis will reveal that the problem is extremely difficult and perhaps impossible to solve. Food and oil prices are not solvable simply by passing laws, hanging the guilty. At best, this would require a radical restructuring of the entire world's economy or mass dieoff or both. Neither of these things can be fixed during the news cycle.

Dealing with the real issues would require an admission that our whole way of life is at fault and would require a fundamental attack and overthrow of the corporate/consumer way of life.

The failure to understand so called speculation and its ramifications is equally shared on the both the right and the left. Krugman deserves credit for cutting through the b.s.

Yeah, Ron, it looks like PK has been reading your many posts trying to get this point through the walls of 'don't tell me what I don't wanna know' resistance encumbering the thought processes of a few folks.

Okay, maybe he learned that somewhere else, but I'll bet dollars to donuts that Jeff from Toronto lurks waiting to lift what ideas and information he can from Jeff from Texas, and others.

Hello Jeff R, I know you're there and all anyone is asking is some attribution. Do so, and the next time you're in town, I might even pay to hear your presentation instead of sneaking in like I did last time. Takes one to know one, buddy.

Food prices are going to drop. I'm quite confident about this. They may even drop hard. What happens after that is anybody's guess, difficult to say how many cycles we can go through.

I'm starting to see why somebody like Stoneleigh largely abandoned this site.

Climate change is real, and is happening, but it is not the sole driver of increased food prices, and it may not even be the major one. It's the same with peak oil - if you think it's behind everything, you become a little nutty just like Ruppert.

Now, it's important to understand that this is not the same as the cornucopian argument, that high prices will spur innovation and investment which will feed 8,9,10 billion people. No, it's not that at all.

Rather, it's the historical argument. High food prices, like high oil prices, contain the seed of their own demise because they result in political and financial dislocations, which bring down the very systems which are causing high food prices in the first place!

It's not hard to understand. If high food prices cause riots, that means high food prices are unsustainable.

Or you could take it further - if high food prices cause starvation, they destroy the very demand for high prices.

We've lived in inflationary times for so long now that people simply cannot accept or understand the opposite.

But starvation takes a longer time than massive job layoffs and everyone deciding to carpool, take the bus, or bike.

When it comes to food, demand destruction does mean destruction of humans in much of the world.

I do think this will be happening, but it won't happen fast, so I don't see prices going down fast.

What could happen is shifts, like more people being priced out of eating grain-fed beef (and other grain dependent meat) so more grain becomes available for direct consumption.

But, besides being relatively non-elastic, there are so many subsidies and perverse incentives in ag that I'm not sure things will always work out according to standard models. Food is different from widgets.

Food prices may come down,in the medium to long term, temporarily, thru several price cycles- and such cycles are probably a permanent feature of markets.

But the long term trend is up, and it will stay that way,barring a techno miracle.

The Green Revolution as we know it is already in its rocking chair on the porch, and sufficient land and water are simply not available to expand cultivated acreage to such a degree as to keep up with population growth-not to mention the prices of fuel , fertilizer, and pesticides.Land and water supply are actually declining.

It is true that genetic engineering is still in its infancy, and such a miracle is not totally out of the question, but even if we hit the miracle lottery,there will still be a decade plus time lag between laboratory and grocery store shelf.

In general I must agree with Darwinian and others that speculation does not have much effect on the price of oil in the short term, and none in the long term-whatever minor amount oil is held back physically today, as in storage on tankers, is not enough to move the market up noticeably, and when it is finally sold and burnt, it will depress prices by about the same tiny not noticeable bit.

Food is different however, in that it is altogether possible for speculators to buy up sufficient quantities, and store said quantities, that market prices can rise and fall dramatically, especially when we consider that foodproduction normally varies significantly both up and down due to normal wide scale weather variation, and due to natural disasters such as floods and extreme droughts.

Oil production is as steady as a clock , compared to food production, thereby damping the likelihood of large speculative price movements.

The really big bully boys in the speculative grain market at the moment are probably mostly governments building national reserves as a precautionary measure.This can cause a sharp upward rise in short to medium term prices, but will also depress prices sharply when such reserves are released as needed.

My belief is that even though production might be up for the next year or two, the build up or such reserves will keep the pressure on prices for at least this long and probably considerably longer.

We are idiots for not maintaining such a reserve ourselves-it would be worth several times its cost, in terms of international power politics, when the next supply crisis hits.

You can make friends a lot easier with bread than with soldiers, and bread is cheaper by a long shot.

There is a black cloud on the horizon. China's current wheat crop is getting clobbered.
Not a little... a lot.


From your article:

"Shandong Province, a cornerstone of Chinese grain production, was bracing for its worst drought in 200 years"

These 100-, 200-, 500, and even 1000-year catastrophic weather events seem to be happening about once a week these days.

Also, as the article points out, when China starts buying a large portion of its food on the world market, it will be able to outbid everyone else and soak up everything there is to buy. Not to mention that they have also been quietly and busily buying up much of the best farmland in the world.

New motto: The Chinese foodbowl is not negotiable.

These 100-, 200-, 500, and even 1000-year catastrophic weather events seem to be happening about once a week these days.

Statistically speaking, that's true. Somewhere in the world, someone will always be experiencing extreme weather.

My wife's brother has been launching into tirades against the Weather Channel as he shovels 30-year snowfalls off his driveway: "This kind of snowfall is NORMAL, you blithering idiots! You don't understand the difference between NORMAL and AVERAGE! mumble, mumble, mumble". He takes his statistics seriously since he got a new job teaching them to students at a local college.

He also bought a snowblower since, while it may be normal, it's still a lot more snow than average.

Ah, I knew someone would catch me on this. But I'm talking about events covering huge areas (much of northern China, in the case just mentioned) and some individual locations getting the hundred year extreme events multiple years in a row (as is happening in the MN/NoDak Red River Valley--preparing for their third 100year flood in the last three consecutive years).

Those who keep track of this stuff say that last year had the highest level of extreme weather events worldwide.





I could go on, but you can google 'extreme weather' as well as I can.

I choose to disagree with those who claim that speculation is a nearly benign non-issue in the real production of the subject product. As we've seen recently with oil, where clearly specualtion caused an initial rise to a ridiculous price of $157/bbl, then an immediate collapse to $40/bbl when the smoothly trended historical graph stated that oil should be fairly priced at "somewhere near" $80/bbl, speculation caused the minimum price to fall to 50% of it's fair price. Even if that was for only a brief period. it was long enough to cause investors / lenders, who base their analysis on "worst-case scenaria", to reduce their capitalization available for development by nearly half.

That "nearly half" loss of the logical investment allocation in upstream was entirely due to speculators. The real producers require long-term stability in prices, at or VERY near real value, in order to logically do their jobs. This recent idea that hedge funds and speculators (note that in recent history in Western N. America, being confirmed a "speculator" was sufficient to get one lynched, and for good reason) should be free to play their games because it affects no-one else, is so baldly false it is clearly ridiculous. Speculators (gamblers) bread and butter is VOLATILITY, and, since investors typically only value assets at the LOWEST POSSIBLE value in recent history, increased volatility takes asset value / money directly away from producers and feeds it to the investors (NB: NOT the speculators).

Demand destruction can occur in other ways. People who are living on less than $2 a day are quite willing to live on $4 a day by replacing other people who live on $50 or $100 a day in other countries. That's what's happening with US jobs, which are being shifted to low wage nations, such as China and India. But, the people now living on minimum wage in the US can't survive in the existing high wage economy that requires much more income than $2 a day. So, the "demand destruction" is going to be experienced by people in rich nations as well as the poorer ones. When the poor people in the US realize that they've been dumped off the gravy train to die, will they decide to act violently? You betcha.

Not to mention the fact that population growth has been much faster in some nations, such as Egypt and India, than others, such as the US and China. Since India gained it's independence in 1948, it's population has tripled. I've seen a reference to Egypt's population growth since 1950, which noted it's 4 times as large. The Earth's population is growing by Egypt's population every year. Think of it this way: To stop the Earth's population from growing would require the equivalent of nuking a nation the size of Egypt every year...

E. Swanson

Why is such a very simple thing (AGW) so hard for so many to understand?

Overheard part of a talk on NPR Radio the other day.

Part of the confusion lies in the naming of the thing itself: Global Warming.

Someone was saying that perhaps they should have included the notion of "Chaotic Climate systems" in the name.

So here's my stab at re-naming the thing:

Anthropogenic Global-Warming And Chaotic Climate Systems

Chaotic Climate can "whack" our Ag businesses in a Mafioso way. Too much water and thus flooding in some places. Too little water and drought in other places. Bigger and bolder storms like Katrina and the one that whacked Australia last week.

So "AG-WACCS" sort of sends a double message to those who might not "get it" in the first instance.

Yes Virginia, AGW (Anthropogenic Global-Warming) is real And the Chaotic Climate systems (ACCS) that ensue do whack our Ag systems to the point where we have unpredictable production, food shortages, starvation and mass uprisings. AG-WACCS

I agree, "Global Warming" is somehow confusing. As I noticed, people are very eager to think that this means temperatures have to go up everywhere at the same time and there will be no winters, no snow or freezing... For them Global Warming means endless summer throughout the whole world. Of course they fail to understand that we are talking average global temperatures here...

Anyway, I like your new acronym, but at the same time I find it quite hard to remember for ordinary folks. They have sometimes hard time even with AGW or GCC. AG-WACCS, although nicely describing what's really happening is, I think, veeeery hard to memorize. :( The acronym itself is easy, just the expanded version is heavy... Could you possibly come up with something easier...? :o))

And I think the name is important, yes. Sometimes the right name can help get people mobilized, if it's scary enough, so we definitely need a good name that would convert skeptics to activists or at least get them out of the way. Because if we do nothing, we will end up in different acronym - Obviously Harmful, Severe Human-Induced Turmoil. :P

Could you possibly come up with something easier...? :o)

Sure thing:


Our Farts F***ed Up the Climate


That's more like it! :))

Yair ...for f**ck sake fellers! I'm struggling with all this global warming/climate change nomenclature and now you are suggesting more gobbeldy gook!

Just keep it simple and cut to the chase. Call the problem "pollution".

I find folks begin to understand what comes out their tailpipe and from the stack at the sugar mill and power station might be a problem...especialy when I point out that a tank half a mile square and sixty feet high would be needed to hold enough oil to run the world for a day.

I tell them to imagine the amount of "pollution" that would go into the atmosphere if a match was thrown into that sucker...and it happens every day...(Yes, yes, I know it's not a true analogy, we do burn it a little cleaner).

We are starting from a low knowledge base though and I believe this sort of example is the only way folks can be bought to understand.

What I'm saying is that folks have shut off to the terms "Global Warming" and "Climate Change" and any other high falut'in alternatives but they do understand "Pollution".

I like it. Sounds like AFLAC. I'm picturing a similar mascot. Per your OFF-UC below, perhaps also a duck, this one the famous Fupped Duck, wielding a big bat with which to whack the climate into chaos. AG-WACCS is here - look out! (err... I mean, duck!)

The Ag-WACC mascot is a mole.

He pops up here and we denialists try to whack him.
He pops up there.
He starts popping up everywhere.

Even next to the Climate Gate!
Oh the audacity.

In one ad campaign, the Ag-WACC mole looks remarkably like Al Gore.
The mole whacking farmer hick looks like James Inhofe

[ i.mage.+]

edit: We still don't have a catchy musical tune for the ad.

Prices are driven by supply and demand.
Why is such a very simple thing so hard for so many to understand?

Because it is not actually true.

Krugman's latest post is Slow Food which unfortunately has a broken link at the moment, but does offer this:

The vulnerability of Heathrow airport to snow has prompted Lonrho to turn from airplanes to ships to ensure its Africa-grown produce is delivered to European retail giants such as Marks & Spencer and Tesco.

By the way, can someone explain to me how to do the linky thing without posting the URL?

This site uses plain ol' HTML.

You probably never noticed, but there's a link with "More information about formatting options" on the page that comes up when you're posting a comment. It has some basic HTML tips.

Ah, that would be the anchor thing, then. Actually, I did notice it in the past, but it looked too complicated and time consuming and got filed under 'later, alligator'.

Thanks for jogging my declining memory.

If you use Firefox, there are several add-ons that make simple HTML coding easy. I use BBCodeXtra.

I like it when folks post the actual link (most of the time). It lets me copy and paste it to new tabs (without refreshing TOD or enabling pop-ups) and sometimes I keep a notepad of links to visit later. Also, sometimes the links don't work for me (html version differences or formatting).

Does anyone else see at least a little irony that starvation-wracked Africa is sending produce to stately, plump Brits?

Yes. Someone even made a movie about it: Darwin's Nightmare

Thanks for the link. I'll have to check it out.

That's a great docu. Definitely worth a watch.

I like it better /SARC that most of the produce consumed in Saudi Arabia is exported there from large foreign-owned farming conglomerates in Ethiopia, where the original small landholders have been pushed from their farms by tax-hungry governments (and I'm NOT against taxing sufficiently to keep governments books balanced tea-party-style, just against this particular case).

dohboi - For more irony I've restated your point: Does anyone else see at least a little irony that the soon to be energy-wracked Middle East is sending oil/NG to not so stately, very plump Yanks? Essentially the same dynamic: those with a product to sell for an immediate cash flow give up that resource. Same ole same ole: follow the money.

And to spin the humor into a cruel reality: Does anyone else see at least a little irony that the U.S. is sending it's youth to be sacrificed in the ME to secure the rights of those same countries to distribute their resources at prices that damage the economy of the U.S. Too bad all those millions of Africans who were slaughtered didn't have as strong a need for "democracy" as the ME. They apparently didn't understand that only countries with oil reserves deserve "freedom". But then again, a few bushels of corn might get them some more notice in the future.

Irony? I can think of some more descriptive terms but we're not suppose to use such language on TOD. LOL.

Rockman: I am doing some research on the economics of shale gas. I think you had some interesting comments that this is more difficult than generally perceived. Can you contact me at nathan (at) newworldeconomics.com? Thanks.

Nicely put. One of the few, if grim, moments of dark-comic relief in the movies "Blood Diamonds" is when the reporter is going through a town just devastated by a raid--arms hacked off, babies smashed to the ground, huts destroyed and burning everywhere. He finds one old man still alive, and the last words he comes out with are:

"At least they didn't discover oil here."

dohboi - Thanks for reminding me...luved that line also. I do have a rather coarse dark sense of humor especially when it comes to such horrible events. Just my way of coping.

Yep, sums up some of the insanity we see in the world today. Rockman, can't help your posts are getting pretty well straight to the point, and maybe a tad darker, lately? Is it that dark sense of humor of yours coming out a litle more..

ASPO-USA has my post in its newsletter today. The original can be found on Our Finite World:

How is an Oil Shortage Like a Missing Cup of Flour?

If I bake a batch of cookies and the recipe calls for two cups of flour, but I have only one, it is pretty clear that I can’t bake a full batch of cookies. All I can make is half a batch. I will end up with half of the sugar, and half of the eggs, and half of the shortening that I originally planned to use left over.

Liebig’s Law of the Minimum applies in situations like this.

The indications of this post are a little disturbing.

That's true if you religiously stick with your original recipe, though if you are willing to be flexible and experiment a little you could try some alternatives that you might be able to substitute such as...

Corn flour
Potato flour
Rice flour
assorted nuts
Ground up insects

Brazilian saying, roughly translated: If you don't have a dog, you have to hunt with your cat.

All we need is cheap substitutes for oil, that will do the same things as oil.

I'm afraid that is probably not in the cards. However that doesn't mean we can't adjust to something completely different.
It will probably be more expensive up front, will not be available 24/7 and will require a whole new way of doing things but barring some unforeseen miracle, that seems to be where we are headed. I think life will go on and we will find ways to cope and even enjoy it.

I wish I could share your optimism. The reason I don't is because the latest decades the primary economical force have been efficiency. Basicly the one who can make the most lollipos out of one bag of sugar wins the game. This leads to extremely efficient use of oil. That in it self is a good thing, but when resource constrains sets in, it apears the system is unflexible. We are already using it at the max, so every bit of oil that are withdrawn from the market emediately translates into losing Stuff. Weather Stuff is gadgets, transport, chemicals or what ever. You lose 5% of the oil, you lose 5% of the game.

I don't think driving multi-ton SUVs 40 miles back and forth to work is terribly efficient. Much of our oil consumption is wasted.

True, but not my point. If you 'merkans lose some oil, you will no longer be able to drive Big Cars. There is no substitutes. So you will shift to Small Cars, or stop driving. This is my point; today, if we lose oil, we can't just invent Something and get around it, we will have to stop doing Something. What will you give up if you lose 5% of your oil? Take your pick.

It helps having the perspective of already having lived for a time in some other way than the current BAU paradigm.

It *can* be done, people just aren't going to *want* to do it.

This contain some 50+% of the reason we will not solve the PO/CC problems in time. Lack of will and understanding.

Q: What are two of the biggest problems facing the world today?

A: Don't know. Don't care.

Bingo! Apathy and ignorance!

I made a visit to the liquor store this morning. I made a comment about the price of a couple of brands. The owner told me that everything in the store will be going up next month. "Why" I asked? "Because of the price of oil" he said, "most of the bottles are plastic, made from oil and there is a $10 fuel surcharge on every load they deliver."

I was a little shocked. Not at the fact that prices were going up but that he knew exactly why they were going up.

Ron P.

Time to start brewing your own :)

And let's see, not much plastic in a plastic bottle so it went up what, a penny? And the $10 surcharge will be distributed over how many hundreds of bottles? So less than a nickel of cost increase will be used to "justify" how many dollars of price hike per bottle?

One may argue that is it plastic that lowers the shipping costs relative to glass.

I think the shipping costs are mostly related to the fact that a gallon of liquid is ~10 lbs.

the fuel costs are about the 10 lbs of liquid and not the plastic bottle.

Alcohol is liquid sugar. Made out of sugar,and you liver turns it back into sugar after consumption. Alcohol makes you FAT. Sugar is an agricultural product, and they are entierly dependant on oil. Like you I don't by the explanation of that fee, but when oil prices goes up, it makes it more expensive to produce alcohol.

But in the EU, that extra cost is transferred to tax payers through subsidies.

Sorry, no. Alcohol cannot be turned into sugar by the human metabolism. It is converted into acetaldehyde, and then into acetic acid or acetyl CoA, which goes on the fat side of the biochemical pathways. You can turn sugar into fat, but not fat into sugar. Brain needs sugar, therefore that constant craving for sugar.

There is a sneaky way to use acetate in the Brain. Ketone bodies.


The liver makes them and exports to the brain. The Brain does have an out if it is glucose starved. Of course, you would be really mad and delirious if you were glucose starved.

"you would be really mad and delirious if you were glucose starved"

Sounds like about half the US pop must be glucose starved.

No doubt! Of course hypoglycemic conditions arise when you are an alcoholic, if you wonder where some of an alcoholic's rage can come from.

Neuroglycopenic manifestations

Abnormal mentation, impaired judgment
Nonspecific dysphoria, moodiness, depression, crying, exaggerated concerns
Negativism, irritability, belligerence, combativeness, rage
Personality change, emotional lability
Fatigue, weakness, apathy, lethargy, daydreaming, sleep
Confusion, amnesia, dizziness, delirium
Staring, "glassy" look, blurred vision, double vision
Flashes of light in the field of vision
Automatic behavior, also known as automatism
Difficulty speaking, slurred speech
Ataxia, incoordination, sometimes mistaken for "drunkenness"
Focal or general motor deficit, paralysis, hemiparesis
Paresthesia, headache
Stupor, coma, abnormal breathing
Generalized or focal seizures

You forgot the main one: "Death".

Not sure I understand all the possible pathways here:

But it's fascinating that the bacteria/yeast? in our guts make 3 grams of ethanol a day....

Hmmm, 3g of Ethanol a day and 7bn people - that's over 125,000 barrels of Ethanol a day. I knew we had a huge population for a reason!

Now if we just had a way to harvest it, it could solve the fuel problem for a small city. Hmmmm, not enough - we need more people!

yeast? in our guts

If you visit certain 'social circles' they claim all human health problems are due to excessive yeast in the 'inverted skin' that is your digestive tract.

Yes, you are correct. But the liver turns alcohol to energy, just like it does with sugar. Alcohol still makes you fat.

I took Schneider-Mayerson's survey last week (linked from Kunstler). Folks can review the results so far at the link above.

Most peak oiler/doomer types seem to be middle aged and older white guys. Perhaps they are projecting their own increasing sense of mortality onto the world at large ;-) We're all doomed, but some of us are feeling it more as time passes :-(

It's been posted here before as well, but apparently not many people took the survey. Prof. Goose asked me to run it again, and also gave Matthew permission to post it in the comments a couple of times.

It seems one must complete the survey to view the results. It is short and to the point (took about 5 minutes). Just do it!

I think many peak oilers tend to be paranoid. Don't want to reveal any info so their doomsteads aren't raided. ;-)

Me, I never fill out surveys, and if I have to, I lie. Just don't care to be studied.

I don't understand this question:

Do you consider most responses to peak oil a form of "survivalism"? If not, how are they different?

Responses from who? Responses to what aspect of peak oil in particular?

As usual, I took issue with that slant, and made my response about the sorts of names that are used to invalidate and derail a discussion.

That said, I was glad that the survey left room for comments. Most of those Multichoice questions were incomplete without some qualification.. tho' I don't know if they will be read or considered much.

Once someone has the numbers.. it becomes very easy to go 'Good Enough' and pass over the "Yeah,buts", which is where the truth so often lies in hiding.

The numbers don't lie, they told me so themselves.

I responded to that one by saying that I thought it was a poorly worded Q? and that most responses to PO are ignorance, denial, apathy, wishful thinking and the like. Perhaps this guy has an agenda, or perhaps he's just not great at survey design. In any case, I agree w/Jokuhl in that I appreciated the oppty to add comments throughout.

As for those who've said they never take surveys, well, I'm with ya on the marketing, political or otherwise corporate sponsored ones. But a dude seeking a grad degree and at least aware of PO? Heck, let's give 'im some data.

What can you do when confronted by that kind of question?
I answered 'Only in the sense that all economic activity is about survival.'

Was the Super Bowl about survival? Lot of GDP generated and wannabe generated (advertised) there. How 'bout Las Vegas? Big screen TV's (I hear there's 3-D now), the infotainment industry that provides programming for them, fast food, car culture, plastic doohickies, pornography, military hardware... need I go on? 'T'ain't about survival. It's about exploitation, domination, subjugation, consumerism... in a word, it's about insanity. Only madmen and economists... right? What percent of economic activity anymore is about survival? 10%, 1%...? Long far way from 'all'.

Sorry for the rant. Not sleeping tonight. Not trying to jump on your @#$%, Ron.
Just taking the oppty to offer an alternative viewpoint, and suggest some authors:

Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Derrick Jensen, Daniel Quinn, Richard Manning, William Catton, Alexis Ziegler, Herman Daly, John Michael Greer, Joe Bagaent, Guy McPherson.

Of course you're cheating and reading the other side of the coin.. but those things are also often 'about survival', if you're willing to put on some of those people's shoes.

I just talked to a best friend from college who I've worked with from time to time to shoot some of the big Poker Tournaments in Vegas, as one of his stints in recent years.. for him, it's a job and a really disliked one.. but it's what came across the plate and we took it when we had the chance, since the Ultra-low budget features that are actually rewarding to be part of usually leave us seriously in the hole financially.

It's a bit of time in the belly of the beast, and it's pretty easy to be a couple of raindrops who feel no great responsibility for the Typhoon.. but as starving artists, taking that kind of job is surely about survival, in the most immediate sense. (And in that case, is there any other kind?)

Yes, personally, I'm looking farther out, and think about how to survive conditions that aren't even on my friend's radar. I actually used the surplus from those jobs to get my PV started, and make other longer term investments.

"If you have crossed ways badly with another, and there seems to be no resolution to the impasse, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, you're a mile away from him.. and you have his shoes!"

It's about exploitation, domination, subjugation, consumerism

Which of those activities does not deal with 'survival'? It seems your list is directly related to the acquisition of resources associated with survival. Here's an observational hint.

As to sports ...

Sport is an extension of play. At its rudimentary level, play is an activity which hones survival skills. And even at the abstract level of football (US or ROW), excelling at sports gets you both cash and sex.

Sport Entertainmnet is an extension of group bonding, social adhesion. Humans are social beasts and the well-socialized person is going to do better on average than the social outcast.

Me, I never fill out surveys, and if I have to, I lie.

Properly designed surveys can identify most of the 'liars'. With this in mind, I try to up my lying game. When I can, I play the part of an over eighty year old woman with an income well below the poverty line, just in case the surveyors are planning to move into sales mode.

The challenge is to determine which questions are designed to catch me at my game. Of course, there's no way to keep score, but I like to think that I win once in a while.

"Me, I never fill out surveys, and if I have to, I lie. Just don't care to be studied."

I feel the same way, though if it's someone doing graduate work I'll usually help out. Commercial surveys are a no-go.

Me, I never fill out surveys, and if I have to, I lie.

You were saying whaaat? :P

I think many peak oilers tend to be paranoid

I filled out the survey.
But it seemed to me that the survey was biased towards an investigation of the possible connections between concern over Peak Oil and a preexisting fascination with "doomsday" scenarios.

So, my (biased, perhaps paranoid(?)) conclusion is that the authors of the survey are predisposed themselves to the idea that probably people who are concerned about Peak Oil are just a bunch of fringe kooks.

I was somewhat encouraged (and not very surprised) to see that, in fact, the various doomsday books and movies that have been produced over the years did not seem to figure all that highly in the viewing and reading material of Peak Oilers:-)

I think you are correct. The survey was skewed to doomsday scenarios. That was evident in the book list and movie list questions.

I was surprised the book list did not include:

Wm. Catton
Jared Diamond
Donella/Dennis Meadows
(or Malthus for that matter)

I think the only book on their list I had read was Cormac McCarthy's (and that had nothing to do with resource depletion). So I agree with your conclusion. Perhaps they are looking for Matt Savinar.

I took the survey but had some serious problems with the survey design. Here were some of my suggestions for ways to improve it so that the results might actually have some statistical relevance:

  • uniqueness -- There is no control over how often a person might take the survey.
    undecided -- Every question that has yes/no or a range of agree/disagree needs to have an option for 'undecided' or 'no opinion'.
  • other -- Every question that has a list to choose from needs an 'other' category. Oddly, one can choose 'other' for "What is your gender?" but not for "How do you identify yourself politically?".
  • rank order -- When asking people to rank things you need to tell them whether 1 is low or high. I honestly don't know which order was assumed.
  • full range -- The question on "races, religions, etc." has a range that goes from "no difference" to "hinder discourse". What do people put if they think it will improve discourse? The same applies to the question on "mood change". I put '-5' because my mood has improved as increasing prices for fossil fuels may finally get people to pay more attention to environmental and community issues.

There is a large body of literature on how to design surveys so that the results have meaning. SurveyMonkey has a good paper on Best Practices for Survey Design which, though tailored for their system, covers all the basics.

Best Hopes for meaningful surveys!


Seemed a bit random and leading in places. I really would of thought fictional work would not be a bit factor for PO believers, but we got two questions on it. Showed a lot of US bias too - maybe justified because a majority of responses are from the US - but why should your race only matter if you are from the US?

I have a Batchelors degree (BSc), but not a Masters or Phd, didn't seem an entry for that (is a batchelor's equal to 'College' in the US? ... forgive my ignorance)

Yes, a Bachelor's would be "finished college" in the US.

Yeah, poorly done survey, with lots of evidence that they had already decided we were all a bunch of nuts to be neatly categorized as such.

It's a poor survey IMHO. I sent this email.

I have to say that I felt your survey was pretty poor. It seems designed to support the proposition that Peak Oil has a strong association with Apocalyptic vision. It also conflates the response with the problem. I often see this in climate discussions. Many object to the science because they object to the policies based on the scientific conclusions. This is a fallacy known as arguing the consequent. Similarly "Peak Oil" itself is not the set of beliefs about the consequences of declining production. "Peak Oil" is a theory regarding the rates of oil production. The amount of oil in the planet is limited. Eventually, production will become increasingly more expensive and the amount of oil extracted in some time period (say 'per year') will decline. We can quibble about which decade this will occur, but it will happen. The economic response to this decline is up to debate: but it boils down to either successful substitution (biofuels, tar sands, electric transportation) or a reduction in energy available for transportation (partially mitigated by improving fuel efficiencies). And the impact of the later is also in question - from a slow reduction with little economic impact to a catastrophic collapse of economic infrastructures. Despite an option here and there, your survey seemed to fail to cover this broad spectrum evenly and focused mostly on the apocalyptic portions.

Hopefully you recognize this spectrum: the inevitable decline in production -v- the economic responses to decline; substitution -v- reduction; incrementalism -v- catastrophe

Perhaps the survey was a focused one on the Apocalyptic vision, which is undeniably present in the blogosphere.

Err, all points of view can be found 'in the blogosphere'. Self reinforcing echo chambers abound, you just have to find ones you like and then hang out there.

Perhaps Ghung. But maybe we old white guys have become immune to the feel-good WTF BS put out by many politicians and MSM. I make the distinction between reasonable possible doom and silly doom. From my experience much of the sillier doom seems to come from the youngsters.

I still think some of the "sillier doom" is the next step along from childishly wishing for the snow to turn into a real blizzard providing a day or two off from school. (Of course Texans needn't worry about snow, right?) Maybe youngsters allergic to learning anything figure naïvely that there'd be no need to learn to cope with the world and its complexities, if only they could simply get rid of it. Of course, the iPhones and whatnot would switch off sometime during such a process, and from that moment on most of 'em would be absolutely, utterly lost...

As one gets older, the future should be less important. Frankly, I don't understand why middle aged and older women wouldn't be as concerned.

Personally, I have been concerned about issues like population, oil shortages, and resource shortages for 40 years. I have been concerned about global warming since the 1980s. I may be a doomer "type", but my basic outlook has not changed since I was in my 20s.

Yes, I took the survey and was struck by that very result as well. Which leads to some interesting questions. Minor quibble with your observation is that it also seems to correlate with having higher education and while there is no way to breakdown the results into fields of study I'm going to guess that there is a higher number of science and engineering degrees in the demographic of the respondents. I have a hunch that the sites where that survey was posted are a priori heavily selecting for a highly educated, skeptically inclined, slightly depressed bunch of old geezers, not that anyone here fits that description >;^)

Might be time to put on my shorts, sandals and loud Hawaiian shirt and go drinking and dancing down at the Tiki bar by the Intracoastal. I just read that the my local water taxi now stops there, so I don't even have to drive!

Yeah, if you post the survey link to TOD and Kunstler's site, you'll get a lot of technically-minded, middle-age, white men. My Yoga and garden friends are peak oil-aware too, and they're definitely younger and more female. They could try posting the survey on more permaculture sites. All they'll find is that permies are much less doomer-minded.

I'm around a lot of permies (I belong to a collective garden), and young Transition types, and even take them foraging for mushrooms, and have great potlucks, etc.

They are somewhat peak aware (at least they know the concept), but most lack rudimentary understanding of evolutionary biology and thermodynamics.

But their actions are good (in comparison to the rest of consumer society), and the knowledge and courage to face reality will hopefully come down the road.

And Emma Goldman had it right: "I don't want your revolution if I can't dance"

Revolution? Evolution? Substitution?


It's gonna be alright.

The Martian.

It looked like we might pull this off-- in 1968 (a very tumultuous year).
However, it has been downhill, and the bobsled is increasing its speed.

As a zen teacher pointed out:
"Survival is not necessary".

And probably not possible, as 99% of all species that have arisen are now extinct.

"It looked like we might pull this off-- in 1968 (a very tumultuous year)."

With what's been going on in Egypt, I've been thinking about 68 recently. Chicago, tear gassed, beaten by Daleys police goons, held in custody for 3 days with no phone calls, lawyer or charges. You kind of had to be there. My heart goes out to those young folks in Tahrir Square, those are people I can respect, this country not so much lately.

Don in Maine

So that's where I've heard it before. I've always paraphrased it as, "To build a movement, you have to throw the best parties." The hippies did in the 60's. The activists these days... not so much.

You're right. We did get pretty close in '68. Permies seem like a vestige of that time (I'm too young to know first-hand). They're definitely a different culture from TOD/ASPO people, but once you get past the culture shock of all the holistic, New Age-y talk, you'll see they really do have their thinking and intentions in the right place.

One item in the survey made me somewhat uncomfortable. That was the question about whether one has depression and if peak oil made the depression worse. First, depression is a disease of the neurotransmitter system. It has nothing to do with world events, who won the Super Bowl, or how one views peak oil.

I hope this survey doesn't come up with some conclusion such as "depressed people tend to read books like On the Beach or websites about peak oil and just get more depressed."

The education level doesn't surprise me, but that is somewhat correlated with the choice to go to a site like CFN or the Oil Drum instead of American Idol.

Most peak oiler/doomer types seem to be middle aged and older white guys. Perhaps they are projecting their own increasing sense of mortality onto the world at large ;-) We're all doomed, but some of us are feeling it more as time passes :-(

Isn't that the age old position that all we need is positive thinking to get through whatever is the problem/s? I think the point of peak oil is oil is it's a finite resource and there is no abundant cheap replacement. Some people just happen to be smart enough to recognize that. In fact, recognizing a problem before it becomes a crisis in order to make adjustments or changes is inho much more preferable to blindly thinking positive all the way into the crisis.

"Look, its a crisis! What do we do now?!"

"Hey, I've been thinking positive, haven't you?!"

You seem to conflate 'Thinking positive' and 'Blindly Positive Thinking' .. a distinction that makes all the difference in the world, as far as I'm concerned.

Blindly thinking positive is "Don't be so serious, this ship can never sink!" ..

While actual Positive Thinking is "We're sinking, but I see a dozen things around us that float, and several more items that can help keep us warm.. we MIGHT be able to get away with this, if we keep our wits about us."

Adventure is just bad planning - Amundsen

While actual Positive Thinking is "We're sinking, but I see a dozen things around us that float, and several more items that can help keep us warm.. we MIGHT be able to get away with this, if we keep our wits about us."

Ah, so the dommerish outlook by the white, middle aged, etc. is a legitimate concern, but the lack of a dozen things suggested by said doomer to correct the direction of the ship represents a failure to think positively? In other words a problem ahead can be pointed out without being considered doomerish, but then positive thinking under the guise of ways to avoid the iceburg should be first and foremost, right?

Ok, I'm game, then how is peak oil and its economic implications averted?

"Ok, I'm game, then how is peak oil and its economic implications averted?"

Averted? Still bargaining, those who think this way. All one can do is to build resiliancy into their lives and communities.

I like the analogy of a river more than oceans and icebergs. Rapids ahead, shear cliffs on both sides, and the roar slowly gets louder. No going back. Not sure what's ahead, but we're going to find out or die trying.

Well for one thing, there's the issue of 'Blind Positivity', and 'Blind Faith'.. and there is no less an issue of 'Blind Negativity' in the mix as well.. either one is someone who is stuck out at an impossible extreme, unable or unwilling to take on the difficult middle ground.

There are things that 'can float' around us to be tried.. maybe not enough to carry everyone on the ship.. but does that mean we don't notice that 'there are things that can save lives, reduce the devastation..' and do what we can? Is it easier to just settle back and assert that 'Solutions are the Problem'?

Do you think Jimmy Carter was being "positive minded" when he said Turn the Ship? I do. He saw the wreck that we're headed for.. but he didn't get up there and say 'forget it, game over..' .. and even tho' that speech was unsuccessful, he STILL hasn't given up, has he? Not on the US, not on Middle-East Peace, not on Homelessness, or on Civility. Keeping a productive mindset doesn't guarantee that 'all will be well and problems are magically dissolved..' it means you take it on as well as you can, and to drop the hubris required to pretend you can predict the certain success or failure of what's coming.

That's being Positive. Not Magical, not Dreamy.. just willing to use your thinking and look for what you can to Help People, to Help the Land, to Take Responsibility. Are you really game? I hope so.

Do you think Jimmy Carter was being "positive minded" when he said Turn the Ship? I do.

I do too and was dismayed at the time his efforts were so roundly rejected by the right. But my point in my earlier post was what do we do about peak oil, and your response was some things can be done. Sure, I agree, but will they be enough? Not to save everyone, but maybe some make it through if we are positive? Doesn't everyone left to survive on less fight over what's left? From local to regional to intercontinental the jockeying and positioning will take place and not all of it will be positive. It's not like the one's not coming along for the ride are just going to go quietly into that good night. It will be messy.

But back to the beginning of this thread for a moment. I think what this is a case of is shooting the messenger, or more aptly put, doing a character assasination on the basic profile of the person adhering to peak oil. It happens all the time. People don't like the message so they go after the person or group offering up the message in an effort to minimize the perception of the problem. We always need to consider the motivation behind the action.

If someone tells you something, before you even respond or react to what they've said, wonder what their motive was for saying it. Most times if you do that you'll end up never responding, because you will have figured out their motive and it will cancel out their statement.

I agree about the dismissiveness which had the survey putting too much of its emphasis on 'Are you an apocalyptic?'(Doomer, etc) ..as a way we've often seen the issue get sidetracked or invalidated, but I felt you overcorrected with the positive thinking bit as well, by painting it all as Blind Positivity.. since what I've been describing above as actual "Positive Attitudes" keeps becoming the baby that's thrown out with the 'Blind' Bathwater, when those attitudes are (IMO, of course) something that has to be encouraged.

You don't get people building lifeboats by screaming 'we're all going to die!' .. and especially if you're also saying 'lifeboats have problems, and being in those crampy little things will be NOTHING like dancing on the Lido Deck.. besides, I'm sure the Vanderbilts will never go for that sort of thing..'

Will people scrap or even kill each other to get into lifeboats? Probably. It'll vary all over the place.. but is that a good reason to make sure there are less of them?

A lot of young people in the environmental movement know about peak oil. They're just not on the forums, etc.

That is true. And a lot of the most aggressively stupid cornucopians parade around the climate skeptic sites. Get a load of this one:

golf charley
Ryan, Jeff et al

I congratulate you all, not only on your maths and science, but also on your patience and endurance.

Thank you

No doubt the seals, whales, penguins and plankton living off Antartica, will be relieved to know that polar bear numbers in the area are to remain constant, in the absence of significant change!

My emphasis just in case.

But, but,but, Coke commercials show penguins at the north pole. (:

God gave Georgians the right to travel by automobile, so surely God would not have limited the amount of available oil. (logic courtesy of Glenn Beck)

The story Leanan posted above regarding Egypt's population crisis led me to discover another gem: http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/01/5967950-georgia-rep-wou...

The same Georgia state lawmaker who wants payments to the state made in gold and silver and abortion classed as "prenatal murder" is back, with a proposal to get rid of driver's licenses.

Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin is sponsoring the Right to Travel Act, which includes this clause:
Free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right.

He can't be serious, right?

"One of your inalienable rights is the right to travel, the right to move about without needing your papers," Franklin told WSB in Atlanta. "You shouldn't have to have permission from the state to exercise a right that has been inalienably given to you from your creator."

I regret to admit it, but this is one more piece of evidence supporting the doomer outlook.

On the other hand, in days gone by (I hope) Franklin would be running around at night under a pointy hood and white sheets.

"On the other hand, in days gone by (I hope) Franklin would be running around at night under a pointy hood and white sheets."

One must ask: "Who elects these people?!", and may assume that Franklin represents some backwood district in rural Georgia. I used to live in this district, a mostly upscale suburban area, just north of Atlanta, decidedly "Gingrichian" Republican. I joined a "Boot The Newt" campaign there years ago, had a bunch of garbage dumped on my lawn, and came home to find a letter from the POA nailed to my front door (about the mess on my lawn). When I called the POA attorney and offered to sue for trespassing and property damage, the whole thing went away. I moved from the district soon after; didn't quite fit in.

The suburban, SUV lifestyle is absolutely non-negotiable in Mr. Franklin's district. BTW, most folks in this area "ain't from 'round there"; transplants from other states.

Local report: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/news/26675368/detail.html

toil - Off topic but you might enjoy the TV show "Outsourced" if you haven't seen it yet. Takes shots at most of the scared cows (even Hindu cows). Last one had them selling Halloween ghost costumes looking rather KKKerish. Many enraged customers but one fellow from Georgia (?) order 50 of them.

Thanks. Found it on the net and will check it out. Gotta keep laughing.

"You shouldn't have to have permission from the state to exercise a right that has been inalienably given to you from your creator."

He is saying this in reference to driving CARS on highways. Hm... As a fellow christian, I would like this guy to show me the Bible qoute on this one.

A graduate of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, Representative Franklin earned a degree in both Biblical Studies and Business Administration. ....

...Representative Franklin has been called "the conscience of the Republican Caucus" because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.


You'll find his email at the link. Perhaps he'll share his Christian perspective on Peak Oil and Climate Change.

Here's a creative rant about some of his other attempts at legislation, this time to "redefine" rape:


If a road is built by the State, then they can regulate it. This is not a free trail in the woods here. Maybe if all roads were toll roads, then people would drive cars less, and walk/bike more.

Another interesting law was taken on in Montana. Citizens must purchase guns. This is to counter the healcare law that you must purchase insurance. Can the government require you to purchase something? States have that power, but Feds do not. Feds should just make new Obamacare insurance part of the medicare tax, then it is not considered a "purchase".

Mandated gun ownership is the law in Kennesaw, Ga (interestingly, the district adjacent to Rep. Franklin's, discussed above):

In 1982 the city passed an ordinance [Sec 34-21][13]

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

From the city's website:

The Gun Law
Kennesaw once again was in the news on May 1, 1982, when the city unanimously passed a law requiring "every head of household to maintain a firearm together with ammunition." After passage of the law, the burglary rate in Kennesaw declined and even today, the City has the lowest crime rate in Cobb County."

There are exclusions to the law, and IIRC, the City helped those who couldn't afford to buy a gun get one.

Go ahead and post the rest -- what is the crime rate there versus Wash DC?

Sorry; left out the link:


This isn't about guns or crime. It's about governments requiring citizens to buy something, be it guns or healthcare. Perhaps California (or some other state) can require folks to buy hybrids or EVs.

Certainly state gov'ts have powers that the nat'l gov't does not. Powers are enumerated and limited for the Fed Gov't, while the states retain all others. States can make you do things that the Fed cannot (or at least that was the way it was designed).

Not that I agree with that -- but what is any regulation that requires expense on the part of the regulated? Is saying that a homeowner must be armed any different than saying they must have an approved installation of the home electrical wire or fireproof shingles?

Not sure about where local gov't fit in, in terms of power. That is a good question. At least, as with states, you can choose to move more readily than you can choose to emigrate.

It works in Switzerland. They have conscription and after finishing basic training every man must keep his military weapon at home until certain age.

The European gun laws can be a little disconcerting. I stayed at a relative's house in Northern Norway, up near the Russian border, and there was a fully automatic 7.62 mm assault rifle hanging from the bedroom ceiling. I think possession was mandatory.

Other than that, the rules seemed to be the same as in Canada. If you can hide it in your pocket, it's illegal, but if it can knock a moose off its feet at 600 metres, it's okay.

Think about it. Which country would you prefer to invade - one in which everybody had a .32 calibre handgun, or one in which everybody had a .338 Winchester Magnum with a scope?

Why not have both?

Ghung - just saw a story last weekend where the N. Dakota legistlature has bill floating requiring all state residents to own a weapon. The gov (or senator) said the bill actually has nothing to do with gun ownership but wanted to emphasize the slippery slope of having any govt body mandating vsrious personal requirements...specifically taking a shot at Obmamacare. An interesting approach but I think too inflamatory: the intended message will get lost in the emotional aspects of gun ownership IMHO.

I think that's the idea. Pure Pathos.

Hm... I get some very creative ideas here.

Step one: Pass a law that everybody must subscribe to a comic magazine.

Step to: Pick up drawing comics again.

Step three: Pay off the politicians who helped me pass the law.

Step four: Buy a new house with all the money I make after bribes have been payed.

If the weapons industry can do, why not me?

DC has like one of the highest crime rates anywhere.

And where do most of the guns come from?


Crime rates are based on the morality and poverty level of the population.
DC created its problems by breaking up the families and causing dependency on the gov't.
The lowest crime rates are in the areas of least gov't support (meddling).

I don't know about your facts there.

How do you quantify morality?

Hey, when BP blew that well in the GOM, were they acting with the highest morality when they willingly cut corners?

Morality is tricky, eh?

Cause a $20 billion crime is a lot bigger than a bunch of small petty crimes.

What about when Goldman Sachs needed that bailout or AIG to then transfer US funds to European banks and into the private accounts of the fools that scammed the system with BONUSES. Hmm. Is that morality? Just wondering what ya mean.

Well I am sure you see that your statements are rather soft on any actual meaning.

The Federal government has long exercised the authority to compel men of military service age to arm themselves at their own expense; read the Militia Act of 1792.
In part,

The Militia Act of 1792, Passed May 8, 1792, providing federal standards for the organization of the Militia.

An ACT more effectually to provide for the National Defence, by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States.

I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.

Have you provided yourself with a; good rifle, musket, firelock, or shot pouch, powder horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of your rifle, a quarter pound of powder, or a knapsack?

Of course. Hasn't everybody?

At least you get to pick the type of rifle and gear. And it's a one time expense. And the holder receives the value instead of the gov't itself.

Also, the militia has a basis in the Constitution, and the derivation of this mandate is different than a commerce mandate. Not the same situation as health care, for sure.

This item raises some interesting questions. For example, does this law require that a military draft be in force to provide the necessary man power for the military? Or, is the all volunteer army illegal under this law, since it includes people who are not "free able-bodied white male citizen(s)"? Not to mention, what is the size of a barrel for a lead ball weighing "the eighteenth part of a pound"? 1/18 pound is about 389 grains, which yields a lead ball of about 0.64 inch diameter, so a bore would be around 0.69 with a patch would be about right...

E. Swanson

jabby - Answering for my fellow Texicans: yes...and then some.

I honestly thought "forcing everyone to buy insurance" was just a polite way for the tea-party types to denigrate a tax. I had no idea this was the technical form of the legislation. Unnecessary bureaucracy, anyone?

I've lived in a few countries, and in every single one of them, I paid tax in order to have health care on demand. Effectively, if not in so many words. Some places the tax is an explicit ticket item on the tax return, other places just part of the general revenue from income and consumption taxes, same as paying for a defence force. I never thought of it like I was forced to buy a financial service.

This is the peculiarity of the "American" way of "freedom." We can't all come to the conclusion that it might actually work to have a single payer system because their is just too much money to be made from the way things are set up know.

The reaction against "forcing everyone to buy insurance" isn't so much a freedom thing as it is a recognition that the the insurance companies gave successfully used the state to get themselves 45 million additional paying customers. Most industries in the US do this, and the insurance industry is only slightly less obvious about it than the financial industry, who simply asks for cash.

What makes it rather difficult to stomach is that the rhetoric never goes far enough - we stop at blaming the "government" without ever making the rather obvious connection between competing capital interests that essentially use the state in whatever way they can through "owning" or "influencing" (and occassionally "being") congress, judges and bureaucrats.

LOL. You are saying that the most odious socialists are the capitalist companies themselves that manipulate the state to force the citizens to give them money.

Nah. We are Americans and we are Free. We are/were never manipulated by big business. LOL

"Most industries in the US do this, and the insurance industry is only slightly less obvious about it than the financial industry, who simply asks for cash."

The MIC is great at this stuff. We give Egypt $1.5 billion/year in military aid which must be spent with US Military contractors who then build their equipment in Egypt with Egyptian labor (i.e. Abrams Tanks). The contractor wins, the Egyptian Military wins, the US taxpayer.....

"These pipple make my azz twitch........my azz is twitching!"

The agriculture / food industry is another one. They have managed;
- price supports
- subsidies for withholding acreage (e.g., doing nothing)
- subsidies for particular crops
- minimalist safety regulations
- patents on seeds/plants (hybrids and gm)

and more.

And would anyone care to talk about the pharmaceutical industry?

I've lived in a few countries, and in every single one of them, I paid tax in order to have health care on demand.

In most countries, health care is considered an entitlement. If you live there, you are entitled to health care, although how it is paid for varies considerably.

It is like paying for the roads in the US. The US built a very impressive Interstate highway system. If you lived there, not paying for it was not an option. It came out of your taxes, or out of user fees such as gasoline taxes. Nobody had to sign up for the right to drive on an Interstate highway, nor did they have the right to opt out of the system on the grounds the didn't want to use it. Everyone in the US can use the Interstate highways "for free" because not paying for them was not an option.

In other developed countries, the medical insurance programs are funded much like the US Interstate highway system. Not paying for them is not an option.

The difficulty the US has is that many people do not want to or cannot afford to pay for medical services - the 45 million people who do not have medical insurance. The real difficulty is that these people might well die due to lack of services, so there are systems such as "Medicaid" which pays for families with low incomes, and "Medicare" for people who are aged 65 and over, all funded by the taxpayer.

In the US, the insurance companies get to "cherry pick" the low-risk population and pay for about half of the total costs, and the government gets stuck with the other half of the costs incurred by the high-risk welfare and elderly population. In other countries, "cherry picking" is not allowed.

Cherry picking - the activity of pursuing the most lucrative, advantageous, or profitable among various options and leaving the less attractive ones for others.

According to zFacts.com, Medicare has not required one $1 of taxpayers money in the last 45 years. No doubt the future does not look as good. FICA payroll deductions and premiums paid by seniors have funded trillions for Medicare to date.

Wow, who knew that FICA "payroll deductions" weren't a tax? How long will this farce be perpetuated? The money was collected, and spent (either on care, or more often, by the gov't who "borrowed" it), so it was a tax. The money will eventually be paid out, as an entitlement, and paid for with other revenues like taxes, or borrowing (which will then be paid for by taxes).

If you don't have a choice to pay it to the gov't, it may as well be a tax, regardless of what you call it.

Unless a person pays into Medicare or SS they don't collect. The FICA payments, without limits to income, go into a trust. The Federal Government borrows from the trust and pays interest to the trust for the privilege. Medicare is all most people have when they are retired. It's not well fare, people paid into the trust, and they are entitled to have Medicare if they pay for their monthly premiums, which are higher for the more wealthy, that are automatically deducted from their SS checks to keep the Medicare trust fund solvent.
With 59 million uninsured, it is likely that life expectancy will not improve for many Americans.If you are fortunately able to be eligible and live to 65 years of age, it is the best and most cost effective health insurance a person can get. As over 50% of medical costs are incurred in the the last six months of life, care to ask a private insurer what the premium would be for a 70 year old for that risk?
Even upper middle class retirees could be bankrupt without Medicare.

The upper middle class are on Medicare. You bet ya. They are using it even when they complain about it.

Not sure what the solution is. Medicare is socialist already. What system does America want? Tough call. And there are few credible options at this point.

Well there's the rub really. Somebody who pays into the system but yet dies at 64 quite literally gets nothing, nada, zilch. Unless they happen to inherit money from their parents which otherwise would have been spent on healthcare.

If you are not having a eureka moment yet, you should be. Medicare is...drumroll...another means to enable wealth propagation from the rich elderly to their children. Which is exactly why politicians don't dare touch it.

Free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right.

HUH?! Well that sure solves the nagging little problem of illegal immigrants getting driver licenses, doesn't it?.
I have to think that it is impossible to make stuff like this up.

It is common misconception that any person in the United States has a right to drive. There is no such right in the US Constitution. Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, and that privilege can be taken away or modified based on certain conduct, including several issues surrounding drunk driving cases. We all have a Constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but not to drive. Once a person accused of impaired driving understands this, it is much easier to understand why many of the procedural and constitutional safeguards do not apply in regards to driving a motor vehicle following a DWI or DUI arrest.

Methinks those same standards should also apply to the certifiably insane, such as Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin.
At the very minimum there should be some sort of civics test applied to anyone who aspires to holding public office and that test should include more than a passing familiarity with the US Constitution.

I find it interesting how everybody here instantly fixated on the cars aspect of it.

I instantly fixated on the "papers" aspect of it. Ask anybody who lived in the former Soviet Union, or Nazi Germany.

I think cars will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs (except for the ultra rich).

Shall we go the way of Britain? Of Big Brother? Papers to so much as stick your nose out your door, DNA on file, and cameras everywhere?

Of course this bozo wasn't thinking about that, but his proposed law pushes back at the Nanny State. That's not entirely a bad thing, is it?

Strangely in Britain I feel we have more freedom than many other countries. It may be a difference bewteen the 'written law' and the 'practicalities' of civilain life.

Papers - while we need ID (a passport) to travel outside the UK, there is no national identity paper that we need for travelling inside the UK - and nobody is obliged to carry ID (Unless you 'look' under 18 and want to buy cigs and alcohol). Yes, we need a driving licence to drive, but you do not need to carry it with you - I never do. The only ID I sometimes carry is a credit card.

As for arming the public maybe more of us should carry bags like this old lady...


Strangely in Britain I feel we have more freedom than many other countries.

Ditto. I used to find it so bizarre when visiting so many other countries that they required you to have identification on your person at all times.

I think that's why there was such resentment over the proposed 'Identity Cards' and why I feel such relief over the scheme being scrapped.

I'm just waiting for her to be charged with assault.


Is this funny or tragic:
A while ago I walked into a small supermarket at a gas station in Atlanta and bought 3 cans of beer. At the checkout a very cheerful black girl asked me for my driver license. She must check if I am over 18 years of age she said. Look at me I said, do I look like under 21? (I am 60). She said the license or no beer. So, I gave her my Ontario driver license. She could not find what she was looking for and wanted my passport (I did not give). The lineup behind me started to lough and someone said "Welcome to Georgia". I said "keep the beer but at that instance the store manager came and resolved the situation.

At 3 following days I bought again beer and the girl remembered me. Nevertheless: Driver license please or no beer. Back in Canada, I was told that it would be age discrimination of some people were asked to show an ID and other not. So, all are asked.

Not to mention she probably has a company policy to check age or be fired; and possibly a state law to check age or be fined or arrested. When I travel I just plan on showing ID to buy beer at a store. In a bar, not so much it seems.

No, for cigarettes they will card you until you don't not look young anymore. There are even stickers to the tune that they will card you if you look 25. Similar with alcohol.

But beer in a gas station - that sounds like Europe!

Beer is dangerous dude.

Try getting a firearm at Walmart and enough ammo to shoot up a high school. Much easier.

I am not anti-gun but it is strange to compare the two situations, eh?

"Try getting a firearm at Walmart and enough ammo to shoot up a high school. Much easier."

C'mon now. I've bought two firearms from Walmart and they put you through the whole process. I bought a rifle there a couple of years ago and the system put me on a 24 hour hold due to a similar black-listed name. I had to return the next day with a second form of ID. Also, in many states, they won't sell you ammo with the gun. At my local Walmart they have a manager walk you to the car when you leave with the gun. They don't do that when I buy beer ;-)

This is quite common in Tennessee as well. The convenience markets are the ones most likely to lose a beer license over an underage sale; thus, management stipulates that everyone is checked every time. Doesn't matter your age, amount of white hair, or whether you just purchased from the same store ten minutes ago. Every transaction is recorded by video, and each transaction has a birthday entered into the cash register in order to complete the transaction.

The best place in this state to avoid being checked, provided you look over 30, is a liquor store. Of course, in Tennessee you cannot purchase beer or a corkscrew in a liquor store, nor can you purchase wine in a grocery store or drug store.

Just read an article in the Swedish press about higher food prices in Indonesia. Chili is one of their main basic foods, and price has gone up over twofold in less than a year.

40 % of the population live in abject poverty who spend around 50 % on their budget on food. The nation also has a youth bulge. Sounds like Egypt? Didn't they stop being members of OPEC not too long ago?

At some point you just get numb by all the crises happening simultaneously.
The question is what the prices will be in May? That riots will occur is a given, but what about revolutions?

I can't stop thinking about what will happen in Yemen. Later this decade, they will run out of water. Then, they wont be able to grow Kath, wich is a higly water consuming mild narcotic most of them chew all day long. Kath makes you slow and passive. So, what will happen when they wake up of their Kath-based zoombiehood, and finds out they have no water, oil, food or money any more?

I had similar thoughts, Jedi. When I visited Aden, the produce market was 75% Kif. Piles of green leaves and they were doing a brisk business. Indeed it was difficult to find anything else. I saw one stand with tomatoes, one with honey.

I especially enjoyed the bullet strikes still visible from fighting in 1989. Those mortar craters in the street made the streets walkable and pleasantly smog free.

Storekeepers insisted we use a taxi to get back to the port. " many bad people " Nite time turned the place into no mans land.

I think Ind. became a net importer of oil (fuel) in early 2010 or late 2009. but I do think they are still officially memebers of OPEC.

They are also the fourth largest population country, and the largest Moslem community on the planet.

The nation is a string of islands, and has many different cultures held together by a less than democratic militaristic government. It has many local secessionist movements and suffers regular natural disasters.

I think it will fragment, decay into internecine warfare, but will have little impact on the world at large, except it will no longer be a holiday destination and piracy will increase.

Unlike Egypt, it will become someone else's problem .

You are a little off Rock, but not by much. Indonesia left OPEC at the end of 2008.

Indonesia to withdraw from OPEC May 28, 2008

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia will withdraw from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries at the end of the year, the country's energy minister told foreign journalists Wednesday.

Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the move follows declining oil production levels in Indonesia that have left the country a net importer of oil.

"In the future, if our production (comes) back again to the level that gives us a status as a net oil exporter, then I think we can go back to OPEC again," he said. "But today we decided that we are pulling out of OPEC."

And no, they are not official members of OPEC. OPEC has 12 members with the recent additions of Angola and Ecuador.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron. I knew there was some gain of truth to my words. I've never really seen OPEC as a truly functional cartel. I doubt that will change in the future except that it may become a one-memember (the KSA) cartel. We'll just have to see how that works out for them. Might actuallly not be the best of worlds for them. Time will tell.

Relevant production, consumption and net export numbers for the ELM, Indonesia* & UK (rates of change relative to production peak year):

*We used 1994 as the final production peak for Indonesia; they went to zero net exports in 2003.

More Land To Grow Corn, Less For Other Crops

Farmers have reached the point that metals, coal miners, and oil and gas company producers have. They must balance the cost of their crops with short term demand. They must also decide if they want to make higher profits while potentially upsetting the US economic recovery which will be hurt by a sharp rise in inflation. Like most business people, they will be tempted to take the money and run.

gog - "Like most business people, they will be tempted to take the money and run." Like most? Try all businesses for the most part. Who exactly charged the farm industry with being responsible for our economic recovery? As I've stated more than once the oil industry, as well as the farming industry and all other industries, isn't responsible for the financial well being of the economy. The citizens, through their elected officials, are responsible for designing and regulating the playing field. Companies are required by SEC regulations to max out their profits (in a legal manner) to the best of their abilities. Again, I forced to show some tough love: the energy industry (and the farmer industry, et al) ain't your mommy. If you electic official who cave to lobbyists then you deserve what you get. Unfortunately, despite their protests, most folks don't mind the efforts of lobbyist as long as they feel those folks are aiding them.

Stop whinning. Collectively come together and change the system. People deserve no better than what they are willing to fight for IMHO. The folks in Egypt are making a serious effort right now. The American public isn't...and they don't even have to do it in front of a bunch of tanks.

I liked how he included crops in the list of finite resources. Peak Corn.

I agree that his disgruntlement with businesses favoring near-term profits over longevity is misguided with our current economic and political systems. I think the whining noises are increasing. I'll probably have to unplug myself to shut them off when I can't hack it anymore.

gog - I was actually trying to be a bit over the top to stir the conversation up some. So far nothing. And there are a lot of smart folks on TOD who could challenge my assertions but haven't seen it yet. Heck...maybe they agree with me. Who would have thunk?

Try all businesses for the most part.

If you wanna fight we can quibble over "all" and "most".

But what did you say that was "over the top"?

I agree with Eric. I thought you nailed it.

Just heard on CNBC, AOL buys The Huffington Post for 315 million dollars. What a deal for Arianna Huffington, she starts a blog then a few years later sells it for 315 million. Wow!

Anyway I don't know what this will do for the content of that blog. They have been pretty good at reporting on peak oil issues, both pro and con.

Ron P.

Arianna is remaining in charge of her Post, according to CNN. What a deal; keep the money and the job.

Given deals anymore, I thought the price was cheap.

"The price that AOL is paying is "really just the hiring fee to get Arianna," said technology analyst Rob Enderle."

You get what you pay for:

"The work of its 70-person paid staff is augmented by content from news outlets and 6,000 bloggers who write for free. "


Making millions off free labor. Now that is a great business model. Better than slavery because with slavery you still have to feed the slaves.

Street-I thought the same. Wouldn't mind a little freebie labor here, nah, it always has strings attached for most of us.

But I couldn't help wondering how long those bloggers will stay. They have their own valuations, and I don't see them comfortable in a huge corporate mold. Who knows. Maybe Huff Post was falling apart, and Ariana was just jumping ship, before holes in the hull are visible.

Bloggers are the ultimate disposable part.

I came across an article awhile back, about a large blogging site. I forget which one, but it featured a lot of fashion/lifestyle kind of things. They had a stable of "star" bloggers, who drew loads of hits and generated a lot of money for the parent company...and worked for free. Love of their subject matter and attention from readers were their only motivation.

So, did the parent company expend any effort to keep their stars happy? No. Their business plan was built on free labor, and the plan was when the current stars got disgruntled or fell out of favor, they'd be replaced by the next new thing. Also working for free, of course.

Ghung - from the story I heard a lot more than just keeping her job: she'll have sole authority over all AOL news content.

Can she fire Raymond J. Learsy? It's hard to fire someone who doesn't work there (re: Cosmo Kramer).

On occasions here on TOD people mention oil -> tires and I'll bring up the old WWII booze based tires.

Now I have a new post on the topic (and will have to see if the profiles are back to being editable)

Why care about soy based plant polyurethane? The 100,000 tire life dot of:


less than 10% of a traditional tire plant with a similar capacity. .... in the key metric of rolling resistance he claims his tire is 45% better than the competitive test tire, leading him to estimate that a car equipped with polyurethane tires could get up to 10% better fuel economy.

Quick! A technofix AND economic fix to one of the BB's - best destroy it eh?

(and a green box? How nice)

According to upstreamonline.com, Brent closed today at $99.23.

If you thought that working and living conditions for the Hispanics working in the agricultural fields of the USA were bad, look at the behaviour of Spain towards the immigrants from Africa.
Slavery. In Europe. In the 21st Century.


We must learn to live with higher oil prices

Even the oil bulls are surprised. Oil demand jumped by 2.7m barrels a day last year, the second-biggest annual increase in 30 years. And it is set to rise by a further 1.4m b/d this year. But that was according to the forecast of a month ago.

On Thursday the International Energy Agency will revise its forecast, and everything points to faster growth, giving ammunition to oil bulls to keep prices above $100 a barrel.


The pace is extraordinary: oil consumption in the 2010-2011 period will increase by almost 5m b/d, equal to more than half the current production of Saudi Arabia. The increases are much higher than the 1995-2007 average of 1.36m b/d per year.


The torrid growth explains why oil prices had moved close to $100 a barrel even before the unrest in Egypt prompted traders to add a risk premium to the price. If oil demand continues to move as fast as at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, higher prices will be necessary to contain oil demand growth. Oil at $100 may be here to stay.

Nice to see they are not blaming it all on Egyptian unrest (though some have).
Does beg some interesting questions.

What makes anyone think that $100 is ceiling and not a floor?
Who is capable of supplying 5m b/d extra anyway?


5mb/d extra + depletion= trouble

There's an op-ed in today's WaPo by Robert Samulson in which he tries to address the situation. He links to an EIA page which gives extra production capacity by OPEC country. Of the presumed extra 4.67 million bbl/day, 3.75 million bbl/day is listed as available from Saudi Arabia. But, as those of us who have followed TOD for a while know, those numbers are basically guesses, since the Saudis don't release their data. What we do know is that the Saudis haven't increased their production as prices have continued to climb...

E. Swanson

Amazing Cadillac fiesta in China. Not exactly your fathers Rickshaw


Hydrocarbon reserves depletion on steroids! Forget MTV - I want my Caddie

A very long way from Mao frogmarching people into the countryside to be worked to death...

Geological statistician cracks a lottery game:

In fact, it reminded him a lot of his day job, which involves consulting for mining and oil companies.
"I remember thinking, I’m gonna be rich! I’m gonna plunder the lottery!"
"I estimated that I could expect to make about $600 a day. That’s not bad. But to be honest, I make more as a consultant, and I find consulting to be a lot more interesting than scratch lottery tickets."

It really is all about making money. So acting like a do-gooder, he took the info to the lottery commission.

I wonder if the guy ever ponders the probability and statistics of finite resources and perhaps alerting the media on the rigged nature of unlimited plundering?

WEB - I doubt he did much pondering: folks can understand winning the lottery. Not so much when it comes to hyperbolic production declines. At least he got his 15 minutes of fame. Most geologists (excluding the Rockman, of course) don't.

folks can understand winning the lottery. Not so much when it comes to hyperbolic production declines. At least he got his 15 minutes of fame.

Funny you should mention that. In my book The Oil ConunDrum, I spend a chapter describing the well-known Odds function. Everyone seems to understand how gambling works, particularly in the form of sports betting, where a man-off-the-street comprehends how the odds function works. The odds-against for some competitor to win is essentially cast in terms of the probability P, leading to the odds function: Odds = (1-P)/P

See Chapter 21 to see how this compares against finding an oil reservoir of a certain size, which is just a hyperbolic function. It's a mind blower to see how close the two formulations match. So I disagree that it is not that folks can't understand hyperbolic declines or basic resource statistics, it's just that they don't want to, and in the case of this geostatistician, it would be against his best interests to reveal some of this information. And he probably isn't as curious as he lets on.

That 15 minutes of fame will lead to more consulting gigs, I am sure.

So true WEB: unfortunate many failures don't occur out of ignorance but simply making bad choices. Along those lines I'll toss you a little insight you might already understand but put in a manner that others can benefit. A geologist reviews exploratory Prospect A that has a target of 1 million bo. The geologist's company uses risked adjusted net present value to analyze such deals: the geologist say the probability of the well , costing $8 million, working is X%. So X times 1 million bbls yields the reserve target size. The geologist likes the prospect so he assigns a 40% chance of success. Risked NPV says the project will give a 25% return. But some years ago the geologist drilled a well that looked similar to this prospect and it was a dry hole. So he gives it only a 5% Ps. Yes: in both cases he gave a value based on his experience but, in many ways, somewhat arbitrary. In 36 years I've never seen one instance of Ps being assigned based on any sort of statistical analysis as you would do. This is why I always tease exploration geologist when they present risked reserve analysis to me: all exploratory wells yield positive economic analysis. You simply put in enough reserves and a low enough Ps that "reasonable" and ...Bang!... an economically viable prospect. Yes...I've seen more than one geologist back calcuate how much reserves he needs to start with in order to end up with a good risked reserve value.

All BS IMHO. I don't even look at their numbers...they are meaningless to me. I look at the logic behind the prospect and what physical evidence there might be to support it. If it "makes sense" then I drill. And that doesn't necessarially mean it has a high Ps. If it doesn't meet the grade then I don't drill regardless of what the cooked numbers say. Yes...I'm being just as arbitrary based upon my experience. But I'm spending MY MONEY so I have that right. LOL.

I can guarantee worldwide that the odds against finding a reservoir of a certain Size go as 1/Size (a hyperbolic function). The bigger the reservoir is, the longer the odds. And it goes pretty much exactly as that given all the historical data that has been generated. A bookie could easily set up a game that would give a balanced spread if he just applied that simple rule. Gamblers would lay their bets according to the size they were interested in and they would reap the rewards according to the size of a random reservoir discovered. Its not by luck that most randomized physical phenomena follow this same behavior that bookies have long known -- you get a predictably unpredictable spread of behaviors and you can make money off of it. Yet people have a hard time seeing through all the garbage and they turn into suckers.

Interestingly, these hyperbolics turn out to be fat-tail odds that give a small but significant likelihood for breaking the bank. Since the odds only fall-off as 1/Size, you could potentially see some humongous super-giant come along. That is essentially what describes a "Gray Swan", something that is rare but not mathematically impossible.

People that work for oil companies are plying this same gambling philosophy with a technological twist to steer them into more promising areas. But show me a geology document that actually admits to the larger picture and I would be pleasantly surprised.

And of course we will likely talk at cross-purposes, because I am interested in understanding nature while most people are interested in defeating nature, and making a buck. Unfortunately, no one has been able to figure out how to beat entropy.

Why is it that people can readily bet on lotto or sports teams, but don't accept odds for oil or climate change? Often you hear "you can't have a control group for the climate, so all models are fiction". Most process engineers never get the luxury of a control group either, yet they can sample production lots and successfully monitor and optimize all sorts of real-world processes. A lot of the production world is adequately characterized using one just set of samples. So is much of the insurance world -- and we all accept that Porches driven by teen males have high insurance costs, even is we can't do the math.

With oil, it seemingly should be equally possible to take a process management viewpoint, and do prediction intervals and tolerance intervals with an arbitrarily high confidence to see if your dispersive models hold. There is of course a chance that some outliers will hit, and prejudice the view for a time, but if we take a yearly view it shouldn't take too long to verify pretty well. Is a dispersive distribution amenable to such modeling along the lines of a normal distribution?

Rather than stating simplistic probabilities, can you phrase a prediction in terms like "there is 95% confidence that 99% of the new finds next year will not exceed 500Mbbl of oil in place" or such? Is this even reasonable?

Have only made it halfway through part 1 of your book, so apologies if this has already been covered.

I think you can make those kinds of claims.

This is what the odds function looks like:

And this is what a reservoir size payout looks like in UK North Sea:

Note the similarity, with the really large reservoirs bending away a bit but the counting statistics are poor as well. The dispersive aggregation model is essentially a recasting of the classical odds function.

With oil, or horse races, we can at least come up with some sort of sample set - maybe not perfect, but certainly useful. So we can look at an oil field and say something like, in a sample of oil fields from the past that looked a lot like this one, 35% produced more than 10 million barrels. Or we can look at other races the horses have run and draw some reasonably likely conclusions. Not that it's ever quite as literally simplistic as that in the real world, but that's how it leans.

With climate we get to do nothing of the kind. We can say that for a certain computer model starting with various plausible sets of initial conditions or other tweaks, 35% of the runs melt the Greenland icecap in less than a thousand years, or something of that kind. Or we might cast the net wider and study many runs from different models to come up with some such statement. (But the fact that seem to need to consult different models is a clue that something is amiss. After all, we don't ordinarily hire a hundred different architects come up with a hundred plans for our house, as our preferred way to come up with a set of plans for a house that won't burn down on its own a week after it goes up. That's not necessary because societally, we know something about building houses.)

We can supplement the kettle of fish we catch that way, or even attempt to calibrate it, with paleoclimate data - but of course such data aren't really observations, they're conclusions drawn at the far ends of long chains of inferences about isotopes, shells, pollen grains, and suchlike. Worse still, much such data pertain to a different configuration of continents, and therefore of routes available for ocean currents to follow, from what exists now.

So the difference with climate is that the "sample" set and its calibrations are merely maps in a much deeper sense than usual, and sometimes they're even maps of some other Earth. And contrary to an ever-popular mistake, a map is not a territory. It follows that we get to argue forever whether the map fashionable at the moment is indeed a useful map of that territory which we call the real world, or is instead a map of some territory of hobgoblins and scary bogeymen, or perhaps some unknowable blend of the two. We don't ever get to look at, as it were, the drilling logs of a historical ensemble of apparently similar climate fields.

So I simply wouldn't look for an argument of that character to be settled any time soon - especially not when the political implications seem to lean towards limitless bullying government micromanagement of the smallest details of everyday life, going beyond most recent experience at all but the most tyrannical locales. Nor would I look for a timely end to arguments about the proper way to convert sets of odds about events occurring in the abstract on various maps into sets of odds about future events that might occur in the one and only real world.

After all, the next summer picnic will be one event, a sample of one. It will rain on it some number of millimeters which might be zero. But that picnic will not be Schrödinger's cat: it will most assuredly not simultaneously rain on it 40% and not-rain on it 60%, which is what makes so many summertime weather forecasts so frustratingly useless and futile for all the vast expense of producing them. The 40% and complementary 60% are solely about somebody's map; on a bad day you can consult a few maps and, among them, come up with any "odds" whatever that you might desire.

Note that one small problem among many will be that every map-maker will naturally insist that the odds seen on his or her proprietary map are the only proper ones to use - whether said map is about the weather, the climate, or the horse races. Another problem will be posed by the hordes of advocates who come riding in roughshod on their hobby-horses, waving whatever map they find convenient as they seek to legislatively shoehorn everyone else's life into whatever narrow or parochial channel they and they alone see fit.

Interesting points, but just look at CO2 levels alone, independent of its effect on climate. The mapping of the rise is so predictable that just about very squiggle is accounted for. It is almost perfectly causal and very little probability is needed to explain it. Nature's fluctuations cancel out while man's contributions make it rise. This one is a closed book in no need of a controlled experiment. Good discussion of this right now at the http://azimuth.org blog.

Oh, sure, if we change the subject to measured gross CO2 levels in the here and now, then there's hardly any doubt. After all, those can be measured and sampled and cross-checked, and have been for many decades. Even reasonable extrapolations of gas concentration based on fairly simple compartment models have some credibility as long as they aren't carried too far (e.g. sooner or later one might anticipate saturation effects.)

Speculations about future global temperature, rainfall, etc. on any but the shortest time-scale, though, are another and quite untestable matter. It's not at all that they're wrong, just that unless we find ourselves another Earth to use as a control, they're mere abstract maps that can't be cross-checked effectively except against other abstract maps. Nor do there exist any statistical ensembles from which to derive "odds" of this or that happening in the future, except for ensembles of computerized maps that differ from each other more than they ought to if we knew very much about the actual territory.

So I'm mainly suggesting that the abstract climate 'maps' are not like gross CO2 series, nor even like bets on lotto or sports, but are at a far greater remove from reality. Thus they can and will be argued over in the economic and political spheres for possibly longer than those in the scientific sphere can keep sane - and it's no use to be surprised, or even pretend to be surprised, about that.

Nor do there exist any statistical ensembles from which to derive "odds" of this or that happening in the future

You err here. The Antartic icecaps (and in a shorter timeframe, Greenland icecap) carry an excellent record of the effects on this continental configuration of varying atmospheric CO2 / methane levels v.s. climate in both hemispheres. Geological evidence confirms their data, regarding historic ice ages. Different triggers, same gun. e.g. historically, the rises and falls of atmospheric CO2 / methane were initiated by VERY minor variations in earth's orbit, Milankovitch cycles, but once the feedback cycle got started, the effect was to raise or lower CO2 / methane levels fairly dramatically over fairly short time frames. (re. feedback: orbital change increases N. Hemisphere insolation, some additional peat bog is exposed in Siberia / Canada, methane / CO2 levels increase e.g. 10%, retained heat increases exposing additional peat bog, methane / CO2 levels increase e.g. 10%, retained heat increases exposing additional peat bog, etc.

There is an extremely high liklihood that our activities WILL AT SOME POINT IN FUTURE produce an effect on earth MUCH LARGER THAN the moving of the climate out from an ice age into an inter-glacial.

"We can say that for a certain computer model starting with various plausible sets of initial conditions or other tweaks, 35% of the runs melt the Greenland icecap in less than a thousand years, or something of that kind. Or we might cast the net wider and study many runs from different models to come up with some such statement. (But the fact that seem to need to consult different models is a clue that something is amiss."

Interesting that you would pick such an example. The closely related models that were used to predict the melt rate of the ARCTIC did in fact turn out to be wildly in error--not one came close to being right, and the median run turned out to be about 60 years off.

But they were off not off in a direction that should give us much comfort.

Most of the models are flawed mostly because they are enormously too conservative and so give a false impression that large changes won't happen for many decades or centuries.

Denialists always assume or imply that uncertainty is always our friend, when in fact it rarely is.

And uncertainty itself can be calculated--in the case of GW it is not symmetrical.

The likelihood that we are in for no further temperature increase is essentially zero. The likelihood that we are in for extreme, catastrophic climate change--that will render much of the most populated areas in the world uninhabitable--is considerable.

WEB - You might enjoy this tale of a Gray Swan I went hunting for a year ago. S. La. prospect that didn't have a sufficient data base to come up with anything but a very loose Ps. Didn't meet our minimum standard of seismic control. But it was a legitimate $1.5 billion target (a field with similar geology just 6 miles way that made $1.5 billion in NG/NGL. But since we were sidetracking out of an existing deep well it was going to only costs $3.5 million to find out if it was there.

Yep: a real 400:1 return if it worked. Risky for sure (as our dry hole proved). But to make a 400:1 return on a logical but very risky well - I'll do it again if the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately such situations don't even develop once in the life time of the average geologist. Truly the stuff that dreams are made of.

Yes, that is a good story.

Everyday I see a huge hypocrisy in certain people that put down egg-head-style mathematical reasoning about some behavior, yet those same people suddenly become bona fide experts when it comes time to gambling and pickin'-em. They do have the street smarts but have no idea where this comes from other than developing a feel for the numbers.

I bet if we created a national lottery around discovery size betting, that everyone would suddenly become expert on this subject.

I bet if we created a national lottery around discovery size betting, that everyone would suddenly become expert on this subject.

They might think they were experts. But the average person playing the lottery is horrible at math, or they wouldn't be playing it. For example, they think that the longer their numbers don't win, the better their chances are...because they're "due."

Web - I always like to play with the heads of addicted lotetery players: I ask if they would buy a ticket with 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 as the potential winning ticket. W/o exception they say no because the odds of hitting those 7 numbers in a row were unreal. And then I explain how the odds of that 7 number sequence coming up is the same as any other sequence they would pick. I would guess no more that 20% can grasp the point. Which explains why 100's of billions are collected from these folks every year.

"The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math."

And ironically some of that tax in states like GA is used to educate people in math.

Could also be said as..

"Lottery is a Tax on people who are too tired to think.."
(ie, the working poor up through the middle class)

Oz never did give nuthin' to the Tin Man that he didn't already have..

And yet...the unemployed are more likely to buy lottery tickets than the employed.

The lottery preys on the poor and uneducated. It's a regressive "tax" that people line up to pay.

Pirates hijack Italian oil tanker in Indian Ocean

ROME (Reuters) – Pirates using guns and rocket propelled grenades hijacked an Italian oil tanker in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday, Italian Navy and European Union officials said.

The attack on the Savina Caylyn took place some 500 miles off the coast of India and some 800 miles off the coast of Somalia, an Italian Navy spokesman said, adding that no-one was reported hurt.

Pirates using guns and rocket propelled grenades hijacked an Italian oil tanker in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday

Interesting isn't it how as the price of oil goes skyward, militants sabotage pipelines and thieves hyjack oil ladden ships. Seems like that dynamic will probably heighten as the price continues to rise and the realization sinks into the masses that oil is the lifeblood of the world economy.

Jeff Vail noted that the higher the price of oil goes, the more valuable the act of stopping the flow. Thus peak oil forms a positive feedback loop for piracy. At the same time governments are forced to cut protection budgets. It should be an exciting 50 years.

LONDON | Tue Feb 8, 2011 7:44am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Tuesday after China moved to tame inflation with an interest rate increase, the second lift in just over six weeks.

U.S. crude (WTI) for March fell by $1.36 to $86.12 a barrel by 1229 GMT. ICE Brent lost $1.25 to $98.00 a barrel.....

...Prices were also under pressure ahead of the latest United States weekly stockpiles data from industry body the American Petroleum Institute, which was expected to show another build.

In addition, crude's geopolitical risk price premium from the unrest in the Middle East, including the protests in Egypt, was seen fading.


The WTI/Brent spread at almost $12; seems ..... unnatural.

The WTI/Brent spread at almost $12; seems ..... unnatural.

Get used to it. It's caused by new supplies of Canadian (and North Dakota) oil flooding into the trading hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, and depressing the price of West Texas Intermediate. Meanwhile, increasing Chinese demand is forcing up the price of Brent.

It should persist for a couple more years - until they figure out how to get the Canadian oil to China. Much of the Canadian oil is now owned by Chinese-controlled companies, so they are working on the problem enthusiastically.

working on the problem enthusiastically

Why does that phrase make me think of 1bn people with buckets?

Why does that phrase make me think of 1bn people with buckets?

It's because you have an obsolete perception of how the Chinese work. In their modern way of doing things, they are applying some of their US$2.5 trillion in foreign exchange reserves to the problem.

Or maybe the thought of a human bucket chain to the coast is funnier than the reality of huge investment in infrastructure.

Some days I just need to make myself smile.

Yeah, the Chinese are a determined people for sure. The '70's images you have of them excavating canals with buckets and shovels were true - then. They did things that way, with a few excursions, until they had accumulated the capital to purchase excavators and haul trucks, e.g. now. I note they've just unveiled a new fighter aircraft, claimed to perform like the F-35 and be "invisible to radar". I have the feeling you "ain't seen nothing yet".

It should persist for a couple more years - until they figure out how to get the Canadian oil to China.

I wonder just how big the gap in price can get? If it got as high as 30-40 dollars in two years time, and then suddenly the pipeline to Louisiana is complete and they start off-loading to send to China, then what impact does that have on the US economy? Fuel at the pumps suddenly jacks up 1.50 a gallon! Yikes!!

Hey, I wonder if people will sabotage the pipeline to LA in order to keep oil cheaper here in the US?

No no. The pipeline will go from north Alberta to Prince Rupert on the Cdn. pacific coast....

Brent finished at $99.06 today according to upstreamonline.com today. Canada supplies around 2 m/b/d to the US. The US uses 20 m/b/d. Nobody except the Canadians have any requirement to sell crude oil to the US. Brent is already 2/3's of the world oil export market. KSA and all middle east countries price in Brent. IOC's are shareholder driven public companies with management paid to maximize profits. If IOC's don't maximize profits, management run risks of being fired.
In addition, Why would the US push Canada to sell its oil to China by lowering Canadian exports $10 below world prices in a resourse where demand is running ahead of supply in the world ? To me, it's penny wise pound foolish.

Here's another bizarre little bit:


JPMorgan says that traders should sell their crude positions because the risk premium from events in the Middle East is fading and prices are headed lower.


Last week I'm sure I read a bullet point on the BloombergTV ticker that said that JPMorgan said that rising prices for crude were NOT due to political tensions in the Middle East, but due to fundamentals.

I'm just paranoid enough to think that JPM wants traders to sell their positions so JPM can buy more at lower prices;-/

I'm just paranoid enough to think that JPM wants traders to sell their positions so JPM can buy more at lower prices;-/

What came first, the understanding that oil will be going up in price, or the meeting at JPM deciding to urge traders to sell their positions? Big business has become synonimous with anything goes no matter how underhanded, and since the real estate fiesta is on hold, then they just do whatever else pops into their heads. The person at the meeting suggesting it will probably get a 50 million dollar bonus.

I'm not sure if this was already posted or not----but
JPM has declared that gold can be collateral for CDS:
(i.e a "new" currency?):


Monbiot: A Corporate Coup d’Etat

(he focuses on the UK, but the same applies to the US)

I used to think of such processes as regulatory capture: government agencies being taken over by the companies they were supposed to restrain.

But I’ve just read Nicholas Shaxson’s Treasure Islands – perhaps the most important book published in the UK so far this year – and now I’m not so sure(10). Shaxson shows how the world’s tax havens have not, as the OECD claims, been eliminated, but legitimised; how the City of London is itself a giant tax haven, which passes much of its business through its subsidiary havens in British dependencies, overseas territories and former colonies; ...

Reading Treasure Islands, I’ve realised that injustice of the kind described in this column is not a perversion of the system; it is the system.

Good luck trying to "influence policy." The revolution is already over. We lost, the corporate/government criminal class won.

Yeah, looks like Game Over:

Koch brothers now at heart of GOP power

The billionaire brothers' influence is most visible in the makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where members have vowed to undo restrictions on greenhouse gases.

E. Swanson

B_D, we have nothing to fear. Either greenhouse gases will eventually be shown harmless or we will all suffocate. Either way, justice is done.

Scientists have been saying that CO2 is going to warm the Earth for more than 100 years. The data supports that claim as well. Will it be harmless? Well, humans can not survive when the dew point exceeds 96 F or so, because the human body can not cool off then, causing heat stroke. Long before that happens, there are many other impacts that have been pointed to, both positive and negative. But, I know of no scientist who has claimed that CO2 would "suffocate" everyone, so you don't need to worry about that one. Perhaps you are thinking of CO, as in, carbon monoxide...

E. Swanson

We lost, the corporate/government criminal class won.

The only possible way to win here is to not play. Do things that improve your life/values and don't generate an income (cut the tax side) and the results mean you don't have to buy something from a corporation (cut the money to the corps)

Buy used, borrow tools, help your neighbor - all examples.

What he said. It's what I do...

I'm still not sure where the economy's going. Some of the long-term unemployed are finding work. The state budget situation is so bad that Democrats and Republicans are starting to sound the same - Democrats looking at painful cuts to former sacred cows, Republicans admitting that it can't be all cutting, taxes must rise, too.

And this story, about homeowners facing the "new normal." Most communities haven't been hit nearly as hard as Merced, but the sacrifices they're facing there could be a preview of coming attractions.

Detroit offers police officers deals on foreclosed homes

(CNN) -- Detroit's mayor is proposing a new approach to increasing public safety: offering police officers and firefighters foreclosed homes for as little as $1,000.

The idea came from police officers who wanted to live closer to their jobs, according to Karen Dumas, a spokeswoman for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

I wonder if this kind of thing might become more widespread. It's probably worth having someone live there even if you give the house away. They'll maintain it, and pay taxes on it. Which wouldn't happen if the city just sat on it.

From the Merced County article:

Nationwide, home prices are down 30% from their 2006 peak. Moody's Analytics economist Celia Chen says national home prices will regain that ground by 2021.

Some areas will take far longer. In 22 U.S. metropolitan regions, most in California and Florida, home prices won't return to their 2006 peaks before 2030, Chen estimates. That includes such cities as Miami, Detroit, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Riverside, Calif.

The bigger the boom, the harder the bust.

Tough choices for municipalities all over:

New Plan Calls For Closing 8 DeKalb Schools

District Scales Back Previous Plan After Parents Raise Concerns

POSTED: 11:29 pm EST February 7, 2011
UPDATED: 7:58 am EST February 8, 2011
STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- DeKalb County Schools Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson recommended closing eight schools instead of 14.

Tyson scaled back their plans after public outcry about the controversial plan to shut down more than a dozen schools.

These school closures have the immediate effect of driving home prices down even more in the neighborhoods they served. Some parents are bailing out of their mortgages and leaving the county. While the plan is intended to save the county $12 million, it may be a case of "penny wise, pound foolish". Even consequences such as increased fuel and maintenance costs from longer school bus routes erode away monies saved by closing schools. Other reductions in services cause folks to leave the area, seeking greener pastures. A majority of the closures are in the south (mostly minority) side of the county, where most folks have more limited choices, inevitably resulting in cries of racism.

Death by a thousand cuts seems to apply here....

That story from the McPaper says more about the problem than they probably realize. The last example was a fellow that bought a house for cheap after the bust who is now driving 90 minutes to work to be able to pay for it. As the price of fuel may be expected to continue going up, he may find that he can't afford to live so far from work...

E. Swanson

Learsey (up top) and others say the situation in Egypt has been "hyped". Well, I guess this little Suez Canal problem is just "hype" too.

Suez Canal workers go on strike
Ahram Online, Tuesday 8 Feb 2011
Suez Canal Company workers from the cities of Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia began an open-ended sit in today. Disruptions to shipping movements, as well as disasterous econmic losses, are expected if the strike continues. Over 6000 protesters have agreed that they will not go home today once their shift is over and will continue their in front of the company's headquarters until their demands are met.


So far, the Suez is open but there may be further labor disruptions Wednesday:

Suez Canal operations unaffected by strikes-official
Tue Feb 8, 2011 4:52pm GMT

Workers in Canal-owned companies in Port Said will go on strike on Wednesday.


I'm not too sure that striking workers can physically impede Suez Canal traffic. It's a sea level canal; no locks.

Why are they employed then?

More Krugman: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/gradual-trends-and-extreme-e...

Were I the one and only god, instead of having to share the role with so many others, I would not allow anyone to open his or her mouth on the climate chaos issue without first repeating this particular blogpost word for word and then answering a series of questions demonstrating that it has been understood.

Unfortunately, many of the other gods love to roll the dice and enjoy the risk that stupidity adds to the game.

Climate change for dummies. Yep, Krugman has the ability to explain things so clearly. Even those with no familiarity with statistics should be able to understand that blog entry. Or, maybe not most of the people watching Fox. But then, they wouldn't be reading Krugman anyway. So all is still probably lost.

Krugman knows how to explain stuff. What the skeptics have been concerned about recently is measurement bias, which Krugman could easily devote some space to.

Most "skeptics" aren't really skeptics in any normal sense of the term, and they aren't really concerned about anything other than continually misinforming and obfuscating the issue.

I do get the feeling that Krugman may have done some lurking on these and other forums I frequent recently (his link is to ClimateProgress).

But I fear he may have left 90% of his US audience in the dust with the term 'probability distribution' and the accompanying graphs. While these pose no problem for most here, I get the impression that it is just gibberish to most 'mericans.

The point he failed to make is that as you go further out on the tail, the probabilities get infinitesimally small that some extreme event was NOT influenced by GW--such is the case for last year's Russian heat wave and for the European heat wave of '03 (which I survived, just barely--it did help push me to a much lighter footprint lifestyle--no more flying or other fueled long-distance travel for me, and very little meat or driving).

The other big point that is almost always missed is that for most of human existence we could fairly safely write off as superstition beliefs that some human sin or other action caused bad weather.

Now we can never write off such a claim. All weather events, especially severe ones, COULD have been influenced by human activity (or 'sin' if you will), and the more extreme the event, the more likely that it has our fingerprint on it.

Vertiwind: Floating wind turbine project launched (w/Video)

While the Vertiwind design stands 100 meters tall the real weight, a 50 ton generator, is only 20 meters above the sea. When compared to a standard 100 meter wind turbine, which houses the generator 60 meters above the sea, the Vertiwind's design has a much lower center of gravity. This allows for a flotation system that extends only nine meters below the surface of the ocean. The two-megawatt turbine is expected to be in service in the Mediterranean waters by the end of 2013.

I see your VertiWind and raise you a Selsam.

http://www.selsam.com/ All ya have to do is make big carbon fiber shafts!

That mill is similar to other vertical axis machines. The height can't be as great as the horizontal axis machines because there are both centrifugal and wind forces acting on the blades. Another problem is the cables which support the upper portions of the blades, which are likely to exhibit large drag if they are circular in cross section. Furthermore, one reason that the larger machines work better is that there is more wind as one moves up out of the boundary layer near the surface. As a result, this system may not produce as much energy for the money invested as the large horizontal machines are capable of doing...

E. Swanson

But how do you know what money will need to be invested in these?

The materials costs look like they could gain a strong advantage over Tall HAWTs .. then there's the installation costs, the durability, portability, wind-speed range, and repairability.. there's a lot of parts of the formula at play here where this could be the little furry mammals that do an end-run against the apparent odds favoring the big, tough guys..

There are two major problem with vertical axis wind turbines. The first is that they are nearly ideal fatigue material testing machines. Every revolution, each blade is cycled from a +stress to a -stress. At design wind speeds or greater, your are talking +/- design loads. This rules out a great may materials. In particular the obvious things like aluminium or even composites. Alas composites fail one fibre at a time until... I have some lovely photographs of sagging composite VAWT blades sadly in need of augmentative surgery.

The second is that while slightly more efficient in very light winds, they are about 13-14% less efficient than HAWT's for the rest of the wind scale.

Possibly one area where they are rarely equalled is their ability to extract money from gullible investors. (Well maybe oil promotors ;)

I have a serious question for folks on this forum, many of whom I know are rational scientists and engineers: how can you take claims of "limits to growth" by people like Homer-Dixon seriously when our sun produces more than *twenty trillion* times our current global power usage, and a single small asteroid contains precious metals worth more than the combined GDP's of the USA and China? Aren’t we in fact using an absurdly small fraction of the energy and matter available to us in this solar system, which is of course less than a grain of sand in an unimaginably vast cosmic ocean? How can people think so small about our future in an effectively unlimited universe? I find this lack of imagination and ambition rather mind-boggling, to say the least!

Rush Limbaugh? Is it you?

Rather than silly personal attacks (I despise Rush Limbaugh for the record), would anyone like to address the substance of my post? Do you deny the existence of the astrophysical resources I described, or do you just think they are beyond our reach? I don't have a political agenda, I'm just trying to understand how rational people can be Malthusians in light of the facts of our cosmic condition.

OK then.

There is just a little tincy wincy problem - how to catch and store light and how to catch and store an asteroid. There is plenty of discussion about the former in any thread dealing with "renewables" - go back and read a few. This community does not give a darn about the latter.

Do you deny the existence of the astrophysical resources I described

Its now your turn again - show how you are going to capture these resources.

If you had an account to actually do that. At this point you are a shade here on TOD.

Good one, Cosmist. Reminds me of Tom Sawyer and the picket fence. When's your paper due?


You should buy up all the SUV's and suburban real estate that you can, before the secret leaks out that we have effectively unlimited energy supplies.

You want to dig on Mars, or the Moon, or the Asteroid belt; go right ahead.


The trick is getting from here to there. To date, we have spent an absurdly small amount of our resources in the pursuit of developing an off-planet industrial base. Under what scenario do you see that changing?

How about the scenario where someone is enticed by the potential riches of an asteroid worth trillions of dollars to go out and bring one back to Earth! Do you really think China, for example, is going to limit itself to the resources on this planet in its drive for industrial domination of human civilization? I don't think their engineer-leaders are thinking quite that small!

I go to bed every evening praying that we are visited by an asteroid. It would solve a lot of problems.

Interesting. So the obliteration of the human species by an asteroid would "solve a lot of problems"? This is a bit of a philosophical dead end, don't you think?

Edward Abbey once observed that should man in his wisdom blow the planet to smithereens, a new world would eventually arise "perhaps to take a better course."

You have your faith. I have mine.

Why have they not done so already?

If you type how to catch an asteroid into Google, it replies with:

Introduction to Catch The Asteroid
Objective: The first player to catch the asteroid 10 times wins the game. However, if you close the gates without catching the object, the number of catches ...

Seriously in two sentences: It is not possible to build enough infrastructure to catch enough sun to satisfy our needs, and there is no way of storing it overnight. As far as asteroids go, it's too far, too fast and too heavy.

I used Preparation H, and voila, no more asteroids.

Seriously, engineers do have their feet anchored in reality or nothing they built would ever work.


Asteroid capture and the industrialization of space are ideas that have been around for a long time, and not just in the guise of science fiction. The Chinese (your xenophobia is showing) have no special or unique drive for industrial domination. Indeed, it takes a rather unique hubris to imagine a plan that would use magnetic rails running up some of the planets largest mountains to launch space bound pay loads.

The question you should probably be asking yourself, if there are such untold riches in the asteroid belt, why haven't we already launched massive programs to retrieve them. When you can answer that question you will have also answered the question you posed.

I can answer that question with another short question:
Which asteroids hold all that wealth?

Unless you can identify particular resources within an energy-favorable orbit space there is no profit to be had in hauling them in.

I can recommend you to mail order a quantum fuzzy logic nanotech computer and upload your mind into it to realy exploit all possibilities. Physics give manny likely possibilities, there is only a small practical problem of getting from here to the ultimate limits...

Well, stick around and take part in some reasonable conversations about it, and maybe it'll become clear why some of us sound off like the old phrase.. "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink."

I mean, I certainly am encouraged to think of all the solar potential falling out of the sky every day, but it'll take time, willpower and energy to set ourselves up to make use of it.. and last time I checked, even the truly impressive growth in that industry in the last decade is still barely making the needle flutter.

As far as Limits to Growth, you need to look at other, fully related arenas in our world to see that this issue is very real and pressing on us from many sides. Heightened weather events (Australia, Russia and Pakistan stand out this year..), Water and Food supplies, Fish Stocks, Ecological Stresses can all produce severe effects on human activity and economics. How are mineral rich asteroids and sunny deserts going to help us if the cupboards are bare?

There are things to be hopeful about.. but conditions are also increasingly tenuous.. and the people in TV land are being told to keep watching.

Hi Cosmist,

The puzzle piece you are missing is Energy Returned on Energy Invested or Resource Returned on Resources Invested.

You should read the Limits to Growth and understand why industrial capacity peaks and falls. It is very simple. Industry is based on resources. Extracting those resources takes equipment, fuel, labor, etc. As the resources get more expensive to extract (PV is much more expensive than coal electricity, asteroids are currently so expensive as to be unpurchasable) then more and more industrial output must be redirected into resource extraction.

Equipment also wears out. So as the capital base grows (more houses, more cars, more factories) the required investment in maintenance grows.

These two simple factors, growing cost of resource extraction and growing maintenance cost, eventually combine to consume all industrial capacity and growth stops. Then as resources continue to get more expensive, even maintenance cannot be paid for and total capital begins to decline.

Notice that "running out" is not necessary to end growth. Only that resources become more expensive over time. This situation should be familiar to any corporate officer who has tried to deal with a saturated market place. Anyone with a background in accounting can understand the model and I find only those who have never read the book seem to doubt its conclusions (with the exception of those who believe the cost of raw materials will only ever go down. A false premise fostered by rising fossil fuel consumption replacing expensive hand labor.) Limits to Growth was created by business school professors after all.

So, yes, there are tremendous sources of energy and pure ores out there. But they come at a high cost. And that high cost is enough to bring about a decline and collapse of the economy.

If you want to make a contribution to humanity, I strongly recommend you read the Limits to Growth. Download the computer models. Read and understand them. Understand the pollution build up side of the problem also. The newest edition has the models available on CD and you can run them on your computer yourself.

False hope is not the path forward.

The problem is that we are in a local gravity well that happens to have a significant store of energy inside it, and all sorts of prickly obstacles surrounding. IF we can manage to escape the well, then many options abound. But each of those takes energy as well, so you have to take enough energy with you to accomplish your goals, or take a way to collect or generate energy with you.

Other surrounding obstacles include short lives, musculature and skeletal degeneration, radiation hazards, lack of food and water and oxygen, technical malfunctions, spares and repairs etc. All of that stuff has to be mitigated, and lot of it adds to your energy budget. That's why it has cost many billions and decades to barely get a functioning space station lofted to a low orbit.

Arguably one could fetch an asteroid with a robot as easily as we've built the space station. But to what end? Precious metals are only precious because there is precious little of them here. If you could cheaply bring an asteroid full of such, the market would collapse. Sure, you'd gain utility, but that's not the same as monetary value.

The problem isn't energy per se, it's accessible and usable energy. Hence the preoccupation with conquering fusion. The real value for fetching asteroids is for on-orbit construction without having to loft the raw material from our gravity well. Maybe park a smelter at L5 and get busy?

Asimov or Dyson probably had it right -- we have only one shot to escape our solar system, and that lies is leveraging fossil fuels efficiently enough to develop fusion technology or something else. If we fail on this first ramp up, there will be too little left for anybody to ever try again. The sad aspect is that we're just mindlessly using it up, and breeding it away.

how can you take claims of "limits to growth" by people like Homer-Dixon seriously when our sun produces more than *twenty trillion* times our current global power usage, and a single small asteroid contains precious metals worth more than the combined GDP's of the USA and China?

Ok! You know of any asteroids out there composed of NPK?

May I suggest a little sojourn into the world of biochemistry you could start by googling, Krebs cycle. While you are at it, delve into a little bit more detail on mitochondria. Then get yourself an understanding of energy flows and the chemistry relating to photosynthesis and maybe something on chloroplasts. That should keep you busy for a at least a few weeks come back when you're ready for the next suggestion that relates to an in depth study of population and ecosystem dynamics between herbivores and predators. Hint, GDP has very little to do with any of this even though it is true that our human economic systems are a subset of, and do depend on a functioning stable ecosystem.

Rather than silly personal attacks (I despise Rush Limbaugh for the record), would anyone like to address the substance of my post?

Yes, I would like to. I would say, judging by your nick, that you could possibly be an astronomer... Like myself. :P Or just a fan of astronomy/cosmos..? In either case, you definitely should be aware of those few laws, that plague our universe. The first one is: "THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH!" also known as the second law of thermodynamics, and the next big killer of our fantasy dreams - gravity. The last nail in the coffin is - "Inverse-square law". You know... In physics, an inverse-square law is any physical law stating that a specified physical quantity or strength is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of that physical quantity.

So... We know, that we have to use energy to do work. To go to outer space we need helluva lot energy just to lift those funny things we call rockets. This is the problem of gravity. To get to some power source, where we could possibly collect some fuel we need some additional energy, and to bring it back we need some more energy. It would be awesome to bring home more than we have to spend on this journey (here comes the "no free lunch" law in the picture), but sadly we aren't very efficient in this particular field and I don't see any breakthroughs on the horizon that could change this. In other words: No methane from the Saturn's moon Titan coming in the town near you any time soon.

The Inverse-square law is quite a problem here, on Earth. Yes, we definitely get some sunshine, but it is just so dense. We can and surely WILL help ourselves with it, but in its usual form - farming and whatnot, Sun can support only around one billion people. One seventh of currently available. :-S We could theoretically cover all deserts by solar panels, but we are limited by transmission lines. Hot air in desert shows us the Ohm's law in its full beauty. So, no electricity from African deserts in the USA, I think...

I find this lack of imagination and ambition rather mind-boggling, to say the least!

I wouldn't say it's a lack of imagination that is mind-boggling. I also used to have wild dreams about Helium-3 harvested on the Moon and whatnot, but if you sit down at the table and make some quite easy calculations, you will very soon find out that you need free energy (= in almost infinite supply) to get that "free" energy! Truly. We are unable to get to the Moon on yearly basis, so how could we possibly establish some harvesting bases there and get some stuff that would make some economic sense/difference..? Well, maybe after 40 000 years we will be capable of that (hardly, but let's be optimistic for a while :D), but I live here and now. Can we solve our energy troubles by bringing home some stuff from outer space, while it still matters? NO. Will we be able to do it in this century? I don't think so. We had all this oil, and we weren't able to harvest things from outer space. Now we'll be left with Sun and other lower-density power sources and we should be able to do more with less..? Nope, I don't think so.

You see, it's easy to dream and wish, but if it comes to actually do something, there are limits everywhere. I think, you feel as I felt some 20 years ago, when I thought "oh, someone is surely working on this for sure!". "THEY will think of something!" and I was full of enthusiasm. But no. There are no THEY. These days I'm one of THEM and I'm pretty sure that nobody will be able to come up with some miracle and allow us to harvest the riches of the outer space. I would be the hapiestestest person in the world to be able to tell you "yes, you are right! It will work!", but sadly, no. It's a no-go... :(

"I have a serious question for folks on this forum..."

....how do we land this sucker....


...without releasing as much energy as several million nuclear weapons detonating simultaneously?

Sure, the Sun puts out lots of energy. But, unless that energy reaches the Earth, it's not available to humans at the moment. Sure, there have been plans to capture some of it via satellites, but those ideas suffer from numerous problems, not least of which is how to put the necessary equipment in the proper orbit to capture that energy, then move it back to the surface. I think that puzzle needs to be solved before thinking about moving off the surface to mine asteroids, etc.

Then too, as mentioned previously, there's the problem of the gravity well to consider. All that supposed material wealth in elements which are rare on Earth must be captured, moved and, perhaps, brought back to the Earth's surface. Moving mass around requires orbits and changing orbits requires energy. Just going from Earth to Mars takes about 6 months and the return trip is similar. The trips must start at particular times when the planets are is the best positions, else the trip takes longer and requires more fuel. Going to Mars means taking enough fuel to come back as well, if chemical rockets are used, and the same is true for a trip to an asteroid and back. At each end of the trips, more energy must be used to slow the vehicles to produce orbits around the respective planets or to slow the vehicle below orbital speed for re-entry.

Perhaps you understand all this. If not, I suggest that you might study the physics of orbits...

E. Swanson

The answer, as far as asteroid mining, lies in the basis of your implied proposition - "easy access to cheap nickel and iron would solve the world's problems". That proposition is not true. We already have easy access to cheap nickel and iron. If you don't believe that, just send a purchase order to Canada, then compare the price with the cost of your scheme. Canada's been mining a "captive asteroid" for nickel for over 60 years, at Sudbury. It's buried itself quite deep, but is very large.

Calculating lifetime solar energy cost with new, balanced approach

Usually when people consider the cost of solar energy, they use the dollars per Watt metric, which is only a measure of the initial capital cost and the solar panel vendor's performance specification. This doesn't take into account the actual energy you will get from the system or other cost factors such as maintenance. A far more informative metric is the levelized cost of energy (LCOE).

"In typical LCOE projections for solar energy, many assumptions are swept under the rug, and we wanted to make a small step toward lifting up that rug and showing how you can truly get a handle on those assumptions to develop a more accurate picture of the potential costs," said Argonne solar researcher Seth Darling, who leads the development of the new approach. LCOE is the cost of an energy supply over its lifetime per energy unit produced.

Seems like access to the paper itself is restricted. Did anyone get a look at it?

I'm more convinced by EROEI than LCOE (or LEC) .. since with the latter you have the moving targets of both currency AND the Utility Markets to have to weigh into the evaluation.

The reason to have a PV presence in your energy system is mostly for times when other generation has gone 'funny', at which point Finance and Utility price considerations might not be anywhere near the main concern.

I still want to know the EROEI on a Homebuilt Solar Hot Air or Water Heater made from salvaged wood, plumbing and storm windows.. I bet it cleans everyone else's clocks! (The Hot Water one could also clean your socks!) And like voting, each one is small, but they can add up quick.

From the report:

"Enterprise owns a state of the art gasoline additive production facility that has been modified to produce isooctane, a motor gasoline octane enhancement additive used in reformulated motor gasoline blends to increase octane, and isobutylene."

First question, what does this do to the production of gasoline? If the supply of additives are cut off by some percentage, wouldn't that result in a similar short fall in the availability of gasoline with the proper octane rating?

EDIT: Here is a link to some video footage from CBS.

E. Swanson

Re: Car-Dependent Suburbs May Be Slums of The Future, Says Urban Planning Report

Many car-dependent suburbs might well become slums in the new era of post-peak declining oil production. The affluent may move to the inner city where they are close to work and shopping, leaving the suburbs to the poor who cannot afford inner city prices.

In fact, it's worse than that. Many modern suburbs are completely unwalkable and unserviceable by public transit. The only option may be to abandon them since nobody will be able to afford to live there.

People who don't think that the poor of the future will live in the suburbs need to read about the suburban slums of France.

The word banlieue, which is French for "suburb," does not necessarily refer to an environment of social disenfranchisement. Indeed, there exist many wealthy suburbs... Nevertheless, the term banlieues has often been used to describe troubled suburban communities—those with high unemployment, high crime rates, and frequently, a high proportion of residents of foreign origin.

A popular urban planning concept at this time... was to separate areas of towns or cities according to several functions: living center (blocks), commercial center and working center, with the centers being connected by buses. This led to the isolation of the living centers, with two consequences: There was little activity at night and on Sunday, aggravated by the fact that bus transit to the central cities was limited; When unemployment started to rise in the late 1970s, the children did not see anybody working, as the working center was far away...

I thought I should point out that Paris is a useful counterexample to many of the stereotypes about what causes slums. The economic forces that created the suburban slums around Paris in the last half of the 1900s could create similar slums around American cities in the first half of the 2000s. The process has already started.

Rocky - I guess Houston is rather different than many other large urban areas. The majority of folk who live in the burgs here also work in those burgs. Of course there is a big commuter component that works d/t but they typically have their own shuttle buses and have d/t express lanes. The Woodlands is THE major burg to Houston but in reality it's a fairly self contained city. They actually own their commuters buses to d/t Houston. It's not uncommon for folks in town to travel to the burgs for shopping/entertainment. Not as common now but 30 years ago when I moved to Houston the d/t area was a deserted wasteland after dark and on weekends: nothing at all to attract folks except for the concert halls. But now the Woodslands has the largest venue in a 200 mile radius and attracts all the big names. My last visit (that required a 120 mile r/t) was to see Sting.

If one had to pick any urban to live in Texas when TSHTF for many it would be the Woodlands suburb 40 miles N of Houston. But in almost any direction you drive out of Houston (except to the east where I live) you find burgs that would be very survivable when TSHTF. Public services typically exceed that of the city. Some of the best medical facilities in the region. All I can gather from comments I see on TOD is that we're very different than other regions in the country. Perhaps it came about due to the very liberal annexation laws in Texas. The diameter of Houston city limits probably exceeds 100 miles at its max. There are dozens of entire cities that are now fully surrounded by the city of Houston. In theory one day Houston could share a boundary line with Dallas...240 miles to the north.

Stalin's Cannibals

While Lenin was content, for a time anyway, to allow the new Soviet Union to develop a "mixed economy" with state-run industry and peasant-owned private farms, Stalin decided to "collectivize" the grain-producing breadbasket that was the Ukraine. His agents seized all land from the peasants, expelling landowners and placing loyal ideologues with little agricultural experience in charge of the newly collectivized farms, which began to fail miserably. And to fulfill Five-Year Plan goals, he seized all the grain and food that was grown in 1932 and 1933 to feed the rest of Russia and raise foreign capital, and in doing so left the entire Ukrainian people with nothing to eat—except, sometimes, themselves.

Uh, boy. I'm not even going to quote any more. Extreme doomer porn warning.

A coworker here at work recommended that title to me; "Bloodlands".

I have read, "Harvest of Despair; Life in Reichscommisariat Ukraine".

I'm an avid reader of history, especially relating to WWII. There is a lot there to teach one regarding what happens when things get really, REALLY bad. It would be a real education for a lot of folks simply to find out exactly how bad it's possible for things to get.

Russia was not a good place to be during WWII.

There was a section in the book about the US Army's Minnesota Starvation Experiment called The Great Starvation Experiment: The Heroic Men Who Starved so That Millions Could Live about the Siege of Stalingrad.

The take-away was:

  • Don't buy any ground "beef".
  • Keep an eye on the kids.

Seems a fellow polished off about a half-dozen of the little buggers before his neighbors finally noticed he always seemed to have a pot of stew cooking and he was especially well fed. (The fact that there were a lot fewer kids might have been a tip-off too)

Keep an eye on the kids in more ways than one, according to Bloodlands.

Just another example of the kind of crap that happens when oil supply is increasing.

Lighten up; it's Tuesday. Have some ground beef. ;-)

I'm sticking to veggies until I'm sure that we're on the Hubbert downslope.

How did it get to be Tuesday already?

Extreme doomer porn warning.

No, just history... which is why I really don't understand people are so down on doomers. Doomers are just realists.

Doomers are just realists.

And that's the problem. :oP

People I know (well, most of them) have pipe-dreams, illusions, their "head in the clouds" and then some stinking realist comes along and drags them down to the ground by their feet?? No wonder they are p*ssed, eh? They -want- to have their illusions, their fantasies and nobody has the right to tell them that wishing upon a star doesn't work. Doomers are evil illusion-destroyers, bright future-killers and.. and.. if it weren't for them, those meddling basterdz, we could have bases on Mars by now...!!
You surely get the picture.

So I do understand very well why people are so down on doomers, but not happy about it, 'cuz I'm realist myself... :o/

"Doomers are just realists."

I'll take issue with it again, Fred, and every time I hear it. It's a continuum.. There are as many people driven by apocalyptic fantasy as by utopic fantasy. All those at both ends, I would argue, are driven by old fears that have clouded their ability to balance the light and the dark, the good news from the bad.

Reality is in between.. in the much-maligned land of compromise and 'yeah, but..'

The folks that I consider doomers are the ones who think events like this will become globally ubiquitous.

History shows that they are local events (sometimes over a large locale), while at exactly the same time people elsewhere are living the good life.

Of course, acknowledging this only heightens the impact of the tragedy even across decades and centuries of separation, but to be able to look calmly at such situations and say "what if it happened here?" and use that as a factor in ones planning without automatically making the leap to "what if it happened everywhere?" is what separates a realist from a doomer.

What does it take to get people to 'let go' of oil?

Throwing Good Money After Bad

Molden and Hui devised an experiment to find out if they could change how people dealt with the "sunk costs" from their previous investments. Volunteers were first asked to write generally about either their personal duties and obligations or their personal hopes and aspirations. Then they were asked to imagine that they were the president of an aviation company who had committed $10 million to building a special kind of airplane. But with $9 million already spent and the project nearly done, another company had announced they had made a better, cheaper plane. They were asked whether they would spend the last $1 million or cancel the project.

People who had thought about their hopes and aspirations were more likely to say they would abandon the project. On the other hand, people who had written about their duties and obligations felt it was their responsibility to finish the project—thus throwing good money after bad.

..."At the very least, when things start to go wrong, people should stop and evaluate the costs and benefits of going forward," Molden says. Instead, it seems that people think, "I've already committed so much to this, I can't quit now."

Which brought to mind one of Greer's articles on a similar subject Faustus and the monkey trap

This may have some connection to the thread the other day on giving oil companies subsidies. In for a penny, in for a pound.

I needed to think some positive thoughts today and tried to figure out what would be the rose-tinted-glasses best thing Mubarak could do for himself, Egypt and as manny influential people as possible.

Its a thought experiment for learning and thus it needs criticism. I post it here since I think something along these lnes could help stabilize a critical and oil rich region. What do you very knowledged people think about it?

A large part of his power is based on a very large fortune, a fortune that a free Egypt is likely to want to get back and thus unroll a lot of things that ought to be awkward for other interests. I also assume that he want to have a popularity strong enough for some safety for himself and especially his family and friends. And that he wants to rig the situation while wanting the best for Egypt from his point of view.

The basis of the thought experiment is that he pledges most of his personal fortune into a trust fund and keep the cash millions that he needs.
Rig it to pay out 5% of the net worth per year, thus there is no need to liquidate it all and that calms down a lot of issues.
Pay those 5 % to somethings that is good for Egypt like 10 % culture, 40 % infrastructure, 10 % university research, 40 % education for the poorest children.
Make this trust fund a model for new egyptian democracy with complete transparence for all applications and criteria for changing who gets
the money that makes it possible to challange bad or corrupt projects for next years payout. (It does not matter for the big picture if the worlds most wahibbist school gets a million dollars as long as it only happens for one year and then never again. )
Make it possible for more people to pledge to the fund and get the political benefits form it and thus helping people to stay in Egypt and mending the society.
The realy hard thing is to figure out the rules for those controlling it, its a full scale minitaure verison of figuring out a complete Egyptian democracy. That is the realy tricky part and it is an interesting thought experiment.

Could such a thing be done in a few months while the clock tiks down to his resignation? A failure would be likely to make a large part of the assets hard to get at for whomever replaces Mubarak. Could it even limit capital flight?

I dont even know if the local law and customs are strong enough to make such a thing hold togeather, he who unravels it could reap billions but it could mean a lot if it stays togeather for a few years. It would quickly become a society shaping force, especially if the 95 % that remains each year are well invested.

It could even put a slight damper on the race to becomming the next pluderer of the land, in a rose-tinted-glasses world...

Would you mind if I put a hedge on that fund and then ohh.. maybe sell derivatives x 10?

Seriously though nice sentiment but $60 billion while small in bank bailout or wall st. bonus terms, is still an astonishing personal sum of money. Do you really expect anyone anywhere near it to be a kind, compassionate soul? Since a bunch of it came from the US. gov., do you really expect the US. gov. to be kind and compassionate?

The really hard thing is morality in the face of $.

It is constructive to get a last chance of doing something fairly good of
his predicament even if he is a devil. I dont care much who he is, I care about
what he can do within a reasonable self interest and self preservation
when his time is limited wich is all he can get when everything is crumbling
around him.

Morally he deserves something else but I dont support death penalties
and he still has power and influence that can do something good or realy bad.

WikiLeaks cables: "Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices"

"US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%"

"The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%."





I bow to your superior punnery.

A significant part of the population, including the former CEO of Shell, doesn't even believe that the U.S. has peaked. People like Sarah Palin still believe that a reasonable energy policy is to abandon investments in alternatives and drill harder and faster. So, do we really think that people are going to believe some unnamed, unknown, Saudia oil executive that Saudi reserves may (not are) over stated?

Short of a big dip stick in all the world's oil fields, nothing will get people to believe what they don't want to believe. They want to believe that they will never have to give up their SUV, their 30 mile commute, and their long road trip every summer.

If this was such a big deal, the diplomat should have leaked this himself.

Rut Roh. Now what with the Oil cornucopians say?


Al-Husseini added that new oil discoveries are insufficient relative to the decline of the super-fields, such as Ghawar, that have long been the lynchpin of the global market.

The Saudi expert, Sadad-al-Husseini, gave a slide show at the Energy Intelligence conference "Oil & Money" in October 2007 in London. His slide on overstated reserves is here:


I had included it in my slide show to the Municipal Association of Victoria in August 2009

Slide #28 here, 1st item in my download menu http://www.crudeoilpeak.com/?page_id=280

Emergency planning after peak oil 2005-2008 3rd and final oil crisis

Saudi Arabia says there are not takers for its additional oil

As oil has climbed to $100, well above Saudi Arabia's preferred range of $70-$80 a barrel, the kingdom has said it is ready to pump extra oil but only if justified by demand. It is not willing to deliver crude into a vacuum.

"We cannot put oil in markets that don't need it," Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said.


Didn't we hear this same story in 2006?, when they were saying there are no takers for their sweet crude?.


Biden Announces $53 Billion Rail-Funding Plan

WASHINGTON—Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a $53 billion plan Tuesday to upgrade and build intercity passenger-rail networks.

Mr. Biden, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, announced the plan at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. The six-year program is designed to give 80% of Americans access to passenger-rail service within 25 years—a goal President Barack Obama set in his State of the Union Address—and to create jobs

Can't wait to hear from the other side how they see this as a job-killer.. or if that msg doesn't sell, as 'just more Big Govt Makework..'

Republicans have criticized rail projects as wasteful spending and have called for canceling rail construction as part of a broader plan to reduce the deficit.

Rep. John L. Mica (R., Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Rep. Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the Railroads Subcommittee, criticized the rail plan.

"Government won't develop American high-speed rail. Private investment and a competitive market will," Mr. Shuster said in a statement.

Private investment.......and, of course, the Repugs will make it about highspeed rail so they can say it isn't cost effective.

The article doesn't mention electric rail. This feels a bit like Algore's 'million solar roofs' thing.

"Peak Oil"

Pessimistic predictions of future oil production operate on the thesis that either the peak has already occurred, or that peak oil production is immanent. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has theorized production of conventional crude oil may have peaked in 2006.


"Pessimistic" .......In my case, I guess you could say that.

"The theoretical notion was originally conceived from the production rates of individual oil wells, and the combined production rate of a field of related oil wells.

A bit like evolution; brand it a theory and folks can go back to watching Real Housewives of Terre Haute.

peak oil production is immanent

Well, PO may be imminent (although looks behind us to me), but it is definitely not immanent:

immanent: (of a mental act) taking place within the mind of the subject and having no effect outside of it.

's'gonna have some serious effects...

"The Rising Channel of Crude"

It appears we're at another technical inflexion point. A break below the channel should give us some relief at the gas pumps. But if the channel holds, a bounce upward will no doubt drive transportation costs higher.


I think I understand. If it goes lower, it goes lower. If it goes higher, it goes higher :)

Today's video interview with Fatih Birol Chief Economist at IEA on BNN earlier today:


He touches on some key points, worth watching for sure.

On another unrelated matter, I gotta say I really miss the daily beat, I have been trying to adjust to the new format, but the old format worked best in my opinion; by all means I fully appreciate the efforts and hard work put by the administrators of the site, thank you for your time and work.


The GOP plan to lower gas prices: Bogus '80s nostalgia

House Republicans rewrite history to attack Obama's energy policy. Let's count the errors

Here's something to watch as U.S. gas prices continue to rise to points not seen since the height of the financial crisis: Republicans busily rewriting history in a tired effort to prove that an unregulated free market is the answer to all our energy woes. The last time oil prices spiked, Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, so the long-standing GOP penchant for revisionism had no practical impact. But now Republicans are back in power in the House, and the wayback machine is revving up.

No-one noticed another supertanker hijack today??


interesting, but then I walk to work.

Most people aren't awake yet. You're 5-8 hours ahead of us in the UK.