Drumbeat: February 26, 2011

Salazar: Won't Bow to Political Pressure to Restart Gulf Deepwater Drilling

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that U.S. regulators would not bow to political pressure to restart deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico before they are certain the oil-and-gas industry is capable of containing an oil spill like the one that followed last BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Salazar and Michael Bromwich--the head of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which oversees offshore drilling--were in Houston Friday to meet with oil industry executives to assess the spill-containment systems they have developed in the wake of nation's worst-ever marine oil spill.

Tribal groups joining protests against Yemeni president

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Leaders of two tribal groups in Yemen say they will join protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's resignation following violent crackdowns on demonstrators in Aden.

"The Yemeni people will not stay quiet on the blood that was spilled in Aden and we will avenge for them," said Hussein Ahmar, president of the Yemen Solidarity Council, on Saturday. "We call on all those loyal to Yemen to stand with the revolution until this regime falls."

Libya’s chaos reawakens fears of 1970s oil shock

One word — oil — will loom large in headlines this coming week, as instability and revolution in the Middle East continue to vex the world’s crude market.

After the near complete loss last week of Libya’s 1.7 million barrels of oil a day, plus growing investor uncertainty about output from other Middle Eastern oil producers, economists will be searching for ways to avoid another 1970s-style oil shock.

Higher gas prices could be new normal

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - Some experts believe the higher prices we are seeing due to the unrest in the Middle East may be a permanent fixture.

Many fear that the unrest in Bahrain and Libya could spill into Saudi Arabia, and some believe that no matter what, the shifts in the Middle East will mark permanent change.

Arab unrest latest threat to European markets

Political unrest has raged across the Middle East and North Africa for much of 2011. Aside from the tragic human cost in the region, the knock-on effects pose a threat well beyond the Arab world, which could derail the global economic recovery.

Alaska Gov. Parnell: Review domestic energy policy

WASHINGTON — Gov. Sean Parnell told the National Press Club today federal "no new wells" policies oppose national security interests by leaving the United States heavily dependent on oil imports.

He asked the federal government to partner with his administration's effort to make the state more attractive to oil explorers and developers. Such a partnership, he said, requires a "change in mindset" from overactive federal regulators.

"It's going to take regulatory agencies that are given that sort of mandate. No more delays," he said.

Canadian Currency Rallies to Strongest Level in Almost Three Years on Oil

Canada’s currency climbed to its highest level in almost three years against its U.S. counterpart as crude oil had its biggest weekly gain since 2009 on concern Libya’s uprising reduced supplies.

The Philippines: Trouble in Mideast prompts oil crisis warning

WO lawmakers proposed giving President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to deal with an oil crisis. Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said that Congress may consider granting President Aquino economic emergency powers in the event that the situation in the Middle East and North Africa further escalates and creates a severe oil shortage.

The two solons warned that the government might be forced to implement fuel rationing in the light of the escalating political unrest in the Middle East and in some North African countries.

Government calls for emergency fuel importation to avert shortage

The Ministry of Energy has been forced to float an emergency tender for the importation of 45,449 metric tonnes of diesel after National Oil Corporation of Kenya (Nock) failed to deliver the product.

Energy crisis: Pakistan to seek free oil from Kuwait

ISLAMABAD: A day after authorities refused to increase domestic oil prices in line with the international market, President Asif Ali Zardari is scheduled to visit Kuwait to find a solution to the matter – which may include seeking free oil from the Gulf state.

The president, who on Friday flew to Kuwait on a two-day visit, will request the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to supply half of the diesel fuel it exports to Pakistan for free while extending the credit period on the remaining 50 per cent, according to sources at the petroleum ministry.

It's global, not local

O&G are much more versatile than coal, apart from being cleaner. It is difficult to design coal-based jet engines or internal combustion motors. The Germans did synthesise petrol from coal during World War II but it's not cheap or easy. Global energy demand will grow steadily as India, China and Brazil bootstrap out of poverty. There has been only one year (2009) since 1982 when energy consumption fell due to the global recession. There are question marks as to the post -“peak oil” future. Peak oil is the point, probably coming sometime in the next decade, when global production of crude peaks, (while energy demand grows). There are also environmental issues centred on carbon emissions and climate change.

State mining company opens coal mine, declares oil-from-coal intent

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South African President Jacob Zuma launched the new ‘competitive’ State mining company, which will produce 800 000 t/y of energy coal at its first mine and synthetic crude oil from another from 2013.

Consumers Hold On to Products Longer

Throw away the cellphone after two years? Not so fast. Ditch the flat-panel TV for an even thinner model? Maybe next year. Replace the blouse with the hole? Darn it!

Consumer spending has picked up, but for some Americans the recession has left something behind: a greater interest in making stuff last.

A Tipping Point for Oil Prices

With speculation calming, at least for the moment, oil prices are no longer soaring higher and higher every day. But prices are at a tipping point.

The days of $100 a barrel oil are back. Most economists think that this price level, while high by historical standards and an impediment to growth, is not high enough to completely derail the economic recovery. We are still below a national average price of $3.50 for regular gasoline, the price at which consumers are thought to get worried and rein in their discretionary spending. (The average national price is now $3.29 according to A.A.A., roughly 18 cents higher than a month ago.)

Oil spikes 9% in a week

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Oil prices have had a wild ride this week, surging more than 9% since last Friday as investors reacted to the changing political dynamic across North Africa and the Middle East.

How gas spikes 6 cents in one day

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Gas prices spiked 6 cents Friday, the biggest one-day jump in two years, and drivers are probably wondering how prices can rise so much in such a short period of time.

Sure, oil prices surged past $100 a barrel Thursday in the wake of violence and protests in the Middle East. But the gas you're pumping at the station was probably made two or three weeks ago, when U.S. crude was trading in the high $80s.

JPMorgan Boosts 2011 Brent Oil Forecast by $9 to $104

JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted its 2011 oil-price forecast for Brent oil by $9 to $104 a barrel, citing supply shut-ins in Libya.

The $104 forecast “assumes that supply problems will be limited to Libya, that OPEC will supply additional oil and that demand for precautionary inventories will moderate over time from their crisis-levels of today,” analysts led by Lawrence Eagles in New York said in a note to clients today.

U.S. Gulf Oil Premiums Widen as Cushing Discount Steady at $14

U.S. Gulf crude premiums strengthened as the benchmark West Texas Intermediate, priced in Cushing, Oklahoma, held steady at about $14 compared with its European counterpart.

Oil May Rise as Mideast Unrest Curbs Supplies, Survey Shows

Oil prices may rise from the highest levels in 29 months next week as violent clashes in Libya and tensions in other parts of the Middle East disrupt crude shipments from the region, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Twenty-three of 40 analysts, or 58 percent, forecast crude oil will climb through March 4. Nine respondents, or 23 percent, predicted prices will decline and eight estimated little change. Last week, 44 percent said futures would increase.

Can the Saudis Deliver the Oil the World Needs?

As decades-long autocratic rule unravels in the Middle East, volatility in the global oil markets continues to point toward one overriding concern: Oil.

Almost two-thirds of the world's known conventional oil supplies are located in the region. How can we maintain an oil flow balance in the face of the rising uncertainty? Most analysts reduce it to a supply equation. If a certain amount of normal deliveries is suddenly withdrawn from the market – say, for example, the 1.6 million barrels a day produced by Libya – what is the remedy?

U.S. closes Libya embassy, freezes Gadhafi assets

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration froze assets of the Libyan government, leader Moammar Gadhafi and four of his children Friday, just hours after it closed the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli and evacuated its remaining staff. U.S. officials said announcements of the steps were withheld until Americans wishing to leave the country had departed as they feared Gadhafi might retaliate amid worsening violence in the North African country.

UN Debates Libya Sanctions as Qaddafi Vows to Fight On

The United Nations will debate imposing sanctions on Libya today after Muammar Qaddafi told loyalists he’s prepared to arm them to fight opposition forces holding the eastern part of the country.

“When needed, all the weapons stores will be opened,” Qaddafi told a crowd in Tripoli’s Green Square late yesterday. In New York, Libya’s ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Shalgham, pleaded for the Security Council to act and “save Libya.”

Suncor shuts down operations in Libya

Suncor Energy Inc. said Friday it has removed all its expatriate staff in Libya and that field operations there were shut down this week.

The business of doing business in Gadhafi’s oil kingdom

Business deals with the Gadhafis were always very personal, and usually involved fixers and middlemen of colourful background and the exchange of huge sums of money.

Uganda Police to Crush Opposition Protests Against Poll Outcome

Ugandan police will block planned protests by four opposition leaders who lost the Feb. 18 presidential elections to President Yoweri Museveni because they are likely to degenerate into riots, Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police, said.

Police will take “firm and resolute actions” against any person organizing, intending to hold or participating in the planned “unlawful demonstrations,” Kayihura said today in an e-mailed statement.

Iraq's biggest oil refinery shut by gun and bomb attack

"Armed men entered the refinery and shot dead two of the engineers," said Abdul Qader al-Saab, the facility's deputy chief.

"Then they detonated bombs at one unit, the al-Shamal unit, of the refinery, which represents 25 percent of the refinery's production. In the morning, we came to put out the fire, which erupted as a result of the bombs."

We need continental energy strategy

The King also said future supply disruptions would be compensated for, which means that if all of Libya's production is shut down the Saudis will increase their production to the 1.2 million a day that's missing. If Algeria falls, it will compensate for that too and so on. They have four million barrels a day to spare.

This will support US$100a-barrel oil, which is their new target. That's because US$100 represents a US$10-a-barrel increase over recent levels, which means the king's US$36-billion giveaway to his people will be paid for within nine months. It's a no-lose situation and allows him to continue to bribe his people with our money.

Wiarton Jeff’s peakonomics

Mr. Rubin’s claim that the Saudis are not opening the taps because they are tapped out is moot for other reasons. Saudi Arabia has good reason to be wary. Opening the taps in the past has led to price collapses, notably in 1986 and 1998. Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, one prominent Saudi expert noted that the Saudis were more concerned about bulging global oil inventories than prospects of a shortage. The expert was Mr. al-Husseini.

Meanwhile, the basic flaw with peak oil theory is that it is not so much about oil as moral disapproval of oil, and a rejection of markets more generally. Mr. Simmons described the market as a “500-pound wrecking ball” and compared Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” to an instrument of strangulation. He also wanted draconian legislation to force behaviour that complied with his anti-oil, anti-freedom agenda.

Energy: The really big crunch gets closer

The question is worldwide, but it’s also intimately local: how close are we to the big crimp in all our driving and flying and inefficient, electronic gizmo-infested houses?

How close to having to pay sharply more for everything, including food? How close to having to traumatically change the wastrel ways and infrastructures (notably urban sprawl) we’ve built up over the past 50 years of cheap oil? When are we going to get serious about preparing for the inevitable?

The return of peak oil

A reviving global economy and mounting unrest in the Arab world are stirring renewed fears about a long-term spike in oil prices. Earlier this month, as protests in Egypt peaked, oil hit a two-year high, prompting anxiety about a return to the $100-a-barrel days of 2008. And with Egypt not quite out of the woods, and uglier protests igniting in Bahrain, Libya and Iran, the oil market remains understandably jittery. (Last week, oil prices hit $90 a barrel.)

But renowned energy analyst Charles Maxwell, looking beyond the political turmoil to the more long-term pressures on oil prices, predicts oil could fetch $300 a barrel within the next decade. “We will begin to settle very slowly and gradually into a world in which we need more oil each year, but we can’t get more,” he said in a recent interview with Barron’s. The 79-year-old “oil oracle” has been an enduring advocate of peak oil, the theory that says demand will rise faster than the production capacity.

Oil price boom not expected to bail out Louisiana

Oil prices are hovering near $100 per barrel as unrest in Libya threatens supply levels, but Louisiana officials don't expect the price spikes to solve the state's budget woes, which include a $1.6 billion gap next year.

"These oil prices are not going to fix us," Greg Albrecht, the chief economist for the state Legislative Fiscal Office, said Friday.

Oil Age going way of Stone Age

WHY is our world so slow to act to confront the impending crisis caused by shortages and increasing prices of liquid fossil fuel?

Be prepared for the difficult times ahead

We are at the $100 per barrel mark as I write this. At this price, we can expect gasoline to rise to $4 per gallon in the near future. This could cause our fragile economic recovery to sputter and stagnate. In my opinion, at $5 a gallon the light at the end of the tunnel will be extinguished.

If the unrest continues, we can expect the price of oil to move into the $150-$200 range within a few months and possibly higher by the end of the summer. When gas prices rise above five dollars a gallon our economy will break down and Americans will greater hardship.

Deciphering M.P.G.: The Meaning of 35.5

In the broad sweep — the sound bite that most drivers have heard — the government’s requirement for the combined fuel economy of new car- and light-truck fleets has been raised to the equivalent of 35.5 m.p.g. for 2016, from the 27.5 m.p.g. level where it had been stalled since 1990.

But as anyone who’s dealt with government agencies knows, simple numbers cannot tell the whole story. The new standards are a byzantine assemblage of rules, all subject to credits, allowances and exemptions. Even the quick-take 35.5 figure gets an asterisk: that is the Environmental Protection Agency’s number, which adjusts for the benefits of improved air-conditioning systems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s standard for combined industrywide fleet mileage in model year 2016 comes out to 34.1 m.p.g.

Marine Power `Turns Corner' on Increased Investments, U.K. Trust Says

Wave and tidal energy are set to take off as utilities including Germany’s E.ON AG, Iberdrola SA’s Scottish Power unit and Sweden’s Vattenfall AB step up investment in the new industry, the U.K.’s Carbon Trust said.

The first commercial-scale plants should be producing power from the U.K.’s waves and tides within four years, with a total generating capacity of 100 to 200 megawatts possible by 2020, according to Benj Sykes, director of innovations at the government-funded advocate for low-carbon energy generation.

India's Power-Grid Bottleneck May Get Funding in Federal Budget Next Week

Indian clean-energy companies said the government’s budget next week may provide funding for extending electricity lines to plug an infrastructure gap that threatens to isolate new wind farms and solar plants.

Why being green isn't all black and white...

If you're buying a new car anyway, then of course it makes sense to buy a small, highly efficient one that produces low emissions.

However, making a new car from scratch (including mining the metal and making all those plastic and rubber bits) uses lots of energy. In fact, a new car uses the same amount of carbon as driving 23,000 miles, according to the Stockholm Environment Institute. So unless you drive a lot in a gas-guzzler, you may be better to keep your old banger.

A Small Compromise in California’s Water Wars

Like an early spring bud poking out of a thicket, a compromise emerged on Thursday in one of the intertwined legal battles that pit California’s major agricultural and urban water users against federal scientists and environmentalists. For the moment, both sides agree on how to protect the endangered delta smelt while managing water deliveries through the West Coast’s largest and most degraded estuary, the delta where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet.

Green concerns not at cost of growth

NEW DELHI: Caught between the challenges posed by climate change and need for economic growth, the government's report card on the economy added a chapter on environment first time and called for "careful planning and customised policies" to ensure that green strategies do not result in slow growth.

EU Weighing ‘Confiscation’ of Carbon Permits, Steel Lobby Says

A European Union plan known as the roadmap to set aside carbon permits starting in 2013 and slash emissions through 2050 amounts to “confiscation,” said a steel-industry lobby group.

A climate-change activist prepares for the worst

Ten years ago, I put solar panels on my roof and began eating locally grown food. I bought an energy-efficient refrigerator that uses the power equivalent of a single light bulb. I started heating my home with a stove that burns organically fertilized corn kernels. I even restored a gas-free lawn mower for manual yardwork.

As a longtime environmental activist, I was deeply alarmed by new studies on global warming, so I went all out. I did my part.

Now I'm changing my life again. Today, underneath the solar panels, there's a new set of deadbolt locks on all my doors. There's a new Honda GX390 portable power generator in my garage, ready to provide backup electricity. And last week I bought a starter kit to raise tomatoes and lettuce behind barred basement windows.

With speculation calming, at least for the moment, oil prices are no longer soaring higher and higher every day. But prices are at a tipping point.

The days of $100 a barrel oil are back.

What speculation? Is paying the daily open market price now called "speculation" everytime it threatens prices at the pump? I guess it's an easy rallying call for all kinds of interest groups as well as the media living off the inane froth, what ever buys the eyeballs.

Remember that funny old thing when oil went to 147 in 2008 and everyone was yelling speculation. Except soon after with the housing and banking things coming online everyone just forgot about it. To this day has anyone presented any proof? A few parked tankers of sour off the coasts the gulf?

So what pixie cave was a sizable proportion of world daily production hoarded for days on end in order to artificially starve the market? Was it deliver there by invisible tankers - and is it still stored there, indefinitely at the expense of the cabal of mysterious speculators - to keep the crude up?

Cause it definitely can't be anything simple like supply being physically cut in Libya while world demand soars.

Speculation can effect the world market price for oil to a very limited extent. Crude is bought as a "contract for X month delivery". So at the set date the oil must be sold to someone that can take physical delivery. If demand is dropping, like in Sept. of 2008 then the last guy holding the contract can get burned, and thus the price can drop. But if demand continues to grow with limited supplies (due to Saudi's not increasing supply as they promised) then the price will rise and speculators can make a profit. But this profit is still limited to how fast the price rises and demand can be sustained.

The price increase caused by speculation is not more than $10/barrel or maybe 10%, IMO. Much oil is bought on long term contract and never gets on the international exchanges. Some industrieslike airlines, whose oil use fluctuates buys large amounts of traded oil. Southwest Airlines never had more than 75% of its fuel hedged at fixed price, IIRC. Other airlines like United had made hedges late in the price climb of 2008 and lost several hundred million $$ when the price of oil dropped.

Speculation has no significant effect on crude oil price. Significant effect as defined as anything out of the ordinary for a commodity market. What you describe as 'speculation' is the nature of normal commodity markets of course. Buyers of real physicals want to 'buy-off' some of the risk (like your airline example) but for this they need a counter party. Sellers of physicals also see safety and opportunity in giving such contracts - at a price of course. The evil speculator in this case is then the guy who comes in with the capital and settles the contracts efficiently with the help of a stable open exchange. And of course he prices in the risk for the day as well any expectation. The market is there to only observe, safeguard liquidity and liabilities - everyone's happy.

Of course you are free to burn your money in initials clearings and calls if you try to direct let alone corner this market - and here's the point: in an open market everyone could see you do that! Anyone at any time can see the contracts been made and the volumes traded. Looking at 2008 and now we see nothing but the usual workings of a commodity market - even at 147 - perfectly balanced and justified - we can call that what we like but in the free market that's the price people want for the risk you sell them at that time. You are of course free to deny the utility of the futures market and buy at spot every day - if your airline can handle the instability and risk by itself.

Traders and hedge funds were pushing prices higher by bidding up the price of oil hoping to make a killing.
Bubbles are real and have happened repeatedly throughout history.
In the old days, con-men would weight items with their thumbs on the balance; that is the fairness and balance of the free market.
If you think that makes 'everbody happy' you're an idiot.

Why are the speculators and hedgers less successful bidding up the WTI market vs. the Brent market? More aggressive speculators? Are Europe's speculators superior to our speculators. Wish I knew some of these people because next time they decide to really make a run I want to be long oil.

Further, if speculators have so much power, why does the futures market go down? Why not just keep it propped up if you have the power to do so.

And I do wish the speculators would get back in the housing market so I can sell my house.

It is a complicated issue over which very smart people disagree. But as of today, I will go with those who argue that supply and demand is the primary determinant with speculation maybe making a slight difference on a short term basis. Further, the market could be wrongly priced for a short time based on false rumors. Reality intrudes,however, and things settled down.

But yeh, I am not at all certain as to the ultimate truth here. Just don't find your arguments convincing.

Further, if there is anyone who can keep oil at a high price, more power to them. I would prefer a tax, but keeping it up through other means would be my second choice. In the mean time, most people have the ability to do some kind of hedging. Suggest they start by buying a more fuel efficient vehicle. And then park farther and farther each day from the office.

It's not like price points have that much meaning anyway. They are not rooted in anything physical or have any logic behind them. It has massive scope limitations. So, it's basically a collective ignorant human opinion regarding immediate supply/demand dynamics with little regard to any information beyond that. So speculation would be skewing a that valueless opinion in one direction or another. Who cares?

Why are the speculators and hedgers less successful bidding up the WTI market vs. the Brent market? More aggressive speculators? Are Europe's speculators superior to our speculators. Wish I knew some of these people because next time they decide to really make a run I want to be long oil.

It has nothing to do with Europe, but with Asia. Demand from China and India is up quite a lot over last year, and these countries are going into the world market looking for more oil. At the same time, OPEC exports are down, notably Saudi Arabian exports. Of course, that does bring up the question, "Why are Saudi exports down?"

As a result, the Chinese and Indians are going into the world market and finding oil wherever they can, and this is diverting oil from everywhere in the world that you can load oil on a tanker and send it to Asia. Some of this is Brent oil.

In North America, on the other hand, consumption is flat to down, while there are large amounts of new production from the oil sands of Canada, and the Bakken Shale of North Dakota flooding into the market. In particular, there is a lot of new pipeline capacity from Canada into the trading hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, where WTI is priced, and the storage tanks there are full of new oil. There is very little pipeline capacity from Cushing to the Gulf Coast so there is no way to get this oil onto a tanker and send it to Asia. Almost all the pipelines run the other direction.

As a result, the price for WTI (which is landlocked oil) has become disconnected for the price for Brent (which is waterborne oil). WTI no longer represents the "world oil price", while Louisiana oil - which could be loaded on a tanker and shipped to Asia - is trading as high or higher than Brent.

I must have repeated this 20 times in the last few weeks, but as some people have pointed out, I have to say it every day to inform people who haven't heard it.

My comments were tongue in cheek, of course, because I don't believe speculation has much to do with all this. But thanks for the very good explanation, anyway. My point was that supply and demand explains the difference between WTI and Brent. And, if speculators were such a big deal, we could just ignore the difference between WTI and Brent.

Baloney, for your information, is one of the things made possible by the futures market. Hedging bad years and good with the market mechanism is the reason why there is constant supply of cheap food on your table. In my book that is pretty much the minimum requirement for 'happy' people.

Bubbles on the other hand have rarely to do with physical commodities for obvious reasons but rather with paper instruments.

In these new days con-men point to the sky - and people stare at his finger. Its too easy since everyone wants to believe the happy days aren't over yet.

But to get back to the point of this thread:

  • Price hikes in crude have been and continue to be the result of fundamentals: characteristic inelasticity of supply and demand, over-ground political and production constraints, underground geological and the continuing domestic/export-land development.
  • This so called speculation is assumed to have no great significance - until someone provides some evidence to the contrary.
  • However as long as Peak Oil remains a tabu subject we will continue to see speculation, international conspiracy or UFOs being cited as the reason and cause for every past and future price hike.

So thank you for illustrating my point with your textbook example of the typical reaction from media/blogosphere/manonthestreet.

Over most of the last two years, speculation in crude oil has been on the down side. Even today, with Brent at a $14 spread and 2/3's of the world's oil for export, a speculation to the downside is heavily in existence in the WTI market notwithstanding the Canadian "trapped oil" argument for 2 m/b/d of US imports. Speculation is a two way street.

There might have been a bit of panic buying among the traders that drove up the price of WTI a few days ago when the riots in Libya began, but now they're starting to think, "Wait a minute, this affects Italy, not us, and there's no way we can put WTI or Canadian oil on a tanker and ship it to Italy!"

OTOH, you could put Louisiana Sweet on a tanker and ship it to Italy, and the Italian refineries that can't get Libyan oil probably could process Louisiana Sweet. They could probably get a pretty good diesel fuel cut out of it as well. So expect the price of Louisiana Sweet to remain high.

Physically, how much oil is available for spot purchases at major hubs at any given moment? How long does it take before you can actually load it?

Well, I think there is about 46 million barrels of oil storage at Cushing. I don't know exactly how much oil is trading in the US spot market, but it must run into millions of barrels per day.

The spot market involves a certain amount of forwardness in the market, and deliveries have to be scheduled with advance notice. I think spot sales are usually for delivery within a month, but it could be up to two months.

The market has zero mechanism or logic to convert peak oil into a price anyway. It's big blinking sign that reads "Does not compute"

Exactly -- recognizing limits to growth or inability to substitute is anathema.

Price points have no physical referent and are no more than a mass ignorant subjectivity based on fallacies. Talk about monumental scope limitations. All the talk of "speculation" is a bit short sighted - so what if it is not in perfect *immediate* supply/demand equilibrium? It's kind of meaningless to the big picture and just means a misinformed opinion of a meaningless number is being skewed.

After running your comment by an English teacher, a lawyer, a couple of old hippies, a new ager, and a psychiatriac nurse, who happen to be here for drinks and dinner, we have decided that whatever you are smoking must be pretty good stuff, and the old hippies want to know if you can spare a toke or two.

LOL Well, What's the net energy of $90 worth of oil? If oil costs $90 a barrel, how much is left in the ground? Who knows? Prices simply measure states of *immediate* supply demand equilibrium - or at least supposed to be. Even that is questionable when "speculation" comes into play. It's meaningless, really. For most of the history of oil it is something that could be controlled with production increases, so really a price point being a regulator comes into question when production can be regulated and producers - produce a price.

Indeed. The market is completely blind to the state of the resource in the ground. The price swings with frivolous BS like storage levels and little changes in production. Even the current Libya disruption price spike is detached from reality. The current demand is not so high that there is no slack in the system to send 500,000 barrels to Italy from somewhere else. They are not that far from the Middle East anyway.

Right and pointing this blatant blind spot out, pretty much kills all the other folklore that goes along with market protocols. The fact of the matter is, price points don't have an ability to "value" natural resources. And if they can't value natural resources, which are our life ground, what good is it as a guidance tool in general. In fact, this could be called a value system disorder. Not to mention, it's complete refusal and inability to "value" externalities because they are outside of the market mechanism. So basically, we are being guided by mass ignorant subjectivity over a cliff acting if this price point tool means something valuable. lol I suppose it was ok when we did not have the accumulated knowledge of hundreds of years of natural sciences but in our current high-tech complex society it is pure lunacy and destined for failure.

There is value and there is also timing. The market has very little "foresight." Thus when a resource gets scarce it can enter a period of high volatility and substitution has difficult working its normal magic because financial effects hinder the process. X mentions above that farmers love high oil prices...perhaps so but I recall that many of them struggled mightily with the volatility they were experiencing with their input purchases in 2008.

In other words, in some cases (not all by any means) waiting for the market to send a signal is a really, really bad idea. The case with oil and how its decline will crack the financial system, if it doesn't crack for any of a dozen other reasons, is just such a case.

Magic Price Incentive Band

Of course OPEC's entire raison d'etre was to keep oil prices in the band in the above graph. By doing that they unwittingly maximized the severity of the problem.

Yeah, and it's a late signal on a price point that tells us very very little in the first place. Price points are completely disconnected from the natural world. Period. And having something that exercises so much control over it, well, is pure stupidity from a resource management perspective. It's faulty or rather NO logic in our prime decision making system, at the very core.

Of course OPEC's entire raison d'etre was to keep oil prices in the band in the above graph. By doing that they unwittingly maximized the severity of the problem.

But in the price band there is incentive to move to alternatives (what OPEC doesn't want). So why the most severe problems ?

arraya, it's so refreshing when someone who actually has a clue about matters outside of extraction engineering drifts in here to comment. That's a rare thing here, sadly.

I agree with your main point that futures mostly over-react, but sometime they under-react. But where exactly do you think that Italy is going to get the type of oil to replace the oil from Libya? For example, if Nigerian oil is diverted to Italy, where exactly are the east cost US refiners going to get oil to replace that lost from Nigeria?

We seem to be living in an era of unprecedented volatility:

Crude Price Daily Cushing FOB Diff and MA

This obtained even when the price crashed, suggesting there is more to the picture than essentially unlimited amounts of money sloshing about. Or that the price overshot the bottom and reality was closer to maintaining the trend we were on, which would suggest that the current price is more than justified. As Andre points out though we are that much closer to a ceiling beyond which the economy can't function smoothly, or so it seems.

The frequency of price spikes at the moment is unprecedented, too - 1973/1979/1990/2008/2011. Headline fodder, or so I believe, anyway.

The market has zero mechanism or logic to convert peak oil into a price anyway. It's big blinking sign that reads "Does not compute"

Sure it does. We just get a switch from 'what does the most expensive barrel of oil produced cost plus a premium' to 'So . . . what is this oil worth to you?"

Oil goes from a commodity extracted by all sorts of players around the world in increasing quantities to a scarce commodity that is priced by what people are willing to pay for it. At some point, people won't pay. If you try to charge $1000/barrel for gasoline then people will realize that small electric cars with limited range are not so bad any more and they really don't need to take that trip to Bora Bora.

Now granted, some things do require oil . . . those things will have to pay more for the oil but they will get the needed oil as other things for which there are substitutes (even though they are not great substitutes) will stop using oil.

Basic economics is real. But the problem is that many economists think they know more than they do. Since it is not a hard science where you can easily do controlled experiments, they have a lot of theories that they believe in which are dead wrong but it can't easily be proven either way . . . so there is a lot of 'faith-based' economics with different schools of faith.

And worse . . . economists are woefully ignorant of science outside of their fields. Their economic doctrines lead them to postulate that price signals will cause needed innovation . . . "necessity is the mother of invention" after all. But necessity and price signals cannot trump laws of physics and thermodynamics. We need a good replacement for oil. But despite 100+ years of looking, we have found not equivalent replacement. And I don't think we will find one. We just have less-than-ideal substitutes that work in some areas. (Expensive biodiesel, electric vehicles that are expensive & range-limited, plant-sourced materials that substitute for some plastics, etc.) I don't see the cavalry coming to save us with a miraculous substitute. But (unlike many here), I think we'll get by . . . we'll just have to sacrifice a bit in some areas and continue working hard on finding more good substitutes . . . even if they are not perfect.

what is this oil worth to you?"

Right, subjective value based on emotion. Meaningless. It's an opinion based on perceived scarcity(what ever that means) - driven mostly by an immediate supply/demand dynamic. Price points, besides there monumental scope limitations, in regards to natural resources have no ability to price externalities because it it outside of the market mechanism - so it is ignored. Why did oil go from $147 to $35, did it become less scarce? Was there monumental discoveries found? No, demand fell off a cliff and we had a glut?

Basic economics is real

No, it's 100% man-made silliness - a series of assumption and assertions based on fallacies and superstition wrapped in complex math to make it look science-y.

I don't believe you will find the price of oil meaningless when you come back from your trip.

I was incidentally, once a hippie my very own personal self, with a chain with a peace symbol around my neck, shoulder length hair, and a more or less permanent silly grin.So I know about trips and tripping. ;)

Some things are valuable beyond price-oil is one of them. Without it, we are.....dead..a LOT sooner than otherwise.

Some things are valuable beyond price-oil is one of them

It's not that it's "valuable beyond price" - it's that you studied the situation and realize - from *rational* analysis -that the price point does not mean anything. And if it does not mean anything for our master commodity, then maybe the whole program is bunk;)

The price is a pretty good measure(metric) to use in evaluating the usefulness of oil-or anything else in short supply.

I can come up with an approximate price for diesel fuel, in current day money, that would result in my parking my tractors permanently, and going back to the horses and mules used by my great grandparents.

Beyond that- oil is for the forseeably future beyond pricing, as to its value, because our very existence depends on it;without it, a billion westerners would starve within a year-unless they were to die sooner at the hands of the OTHER horsemen.Of course being the son, grandson, and great grandson of hands on small time farmers, with a good home place farm well established, I wouldn't starve, personally. But a looter would probably get me sooner or later.

But I do get your argument-I think. You are saying, apparently,that we need a whole new paradigm, a phase shift in our ethical/ economic/ ecological values systems, because our current way of evaluating results and consequences is fatally flawed.I agree. I just think you are expressing your point in language that is a little out of the mainstream, outside of certain academic faculty lounges.

It reminds me of the case of a dairy farmer interested in researching cow chow conversion to milk, who called in a university specialist, who called in an econimist, who called in a couple more guys, including some physicists just to make sure of the ground rules in respect to good scientific protocol in following the energy, waste products, etc.

When he got the final report, the first line read:

"Consider a spherical cow in a vacuum......."

If you try to charge $1000/barrel for gasoline then people will realize that small electric cars with limited range are not so bad

Realizing that small electric cars with limited range aren't so bad won't make them the owner of something that nobody is selling and they can no longer afford anyway.

All the price signaling comes as too little, too late. While the resource is disappearing (such as was the case with the Cod fishery) there is zero price signal to reflect this. The only time the price moves is when there is an actual shortage. In the case of Cod there were other fish to sell, but with oil it will be the brick wall that destroys the economy which is completely oblivious to the looming disaster.

Economics is all about perceptions and delusions. Of course whatever form it takes involves physical resources (human labour, raw materials and energy) but the organization of this activity and non-response to physical constraints is all psychological.

The only time the price moves is when there is an actual shortage

Are you sure about that? Doesn't price move also when there is a perception of a shortage?

Indeed, price points are very susceptible to preceptive manipulation. Money in general is schizophrenic, it's necessitation of perpetual growth expects infinite resources while needing perceived scarcity for value. If resources were infinite like it expects, they would have no price point value. And price point value is different from human value. For example, humans value oxygen immensely but it is too abundant to garner price point value.

The whole premise of an oil futures market is dumb. If you think you'll need oil you need to buy it and hold it. If you can't find it sink money into exploring it and developing new fields or substitutes.

Then there are the idiots who buy 'insurance' and the greater idiots who risk to sell 'insurance'.

'What about the actual oil?'
'Things will take care of themselves, Mac. Relax!'

Now what kind of people buy/sell 'insurance'?
Rich people (who will never lack food to eat or gas for their expensive rides).
Who thinks that an insurance company that produces nothing but paper can produce oil, food or anything else?

They don't even care about oil per se.
Oil could be a pig-in-a-poke, a cockfight, or gold or tulip bulbs.

I really think you don't understand this world which is fine if you have a baby's-blanket in the form of market theory you can cuddle.

Most economic theorists were complete financial idiots. The only
ones who were really successful in the real world were David Ricardo who speculated in government bonds and the heretic, JM Keynes.

The whole premise of an oil futures market is dumb. If you think you'll need oil you need to buy it and hold it. If you can't find it sink money into exploring it and developing new fields or substitutes.

I don't think you understand the oil market as it exists today. It possibly was somewhat like that 50 years ago, but not today.

Today, the companies refining and marketing oil are generally not the companies producing the oil. The vast majority of the world's oil reserves are controlled by the National Oil Companies (NOCs), and they produce most of the oil trading on world markets.

Refining and marketing companies are generally located in developed countries which do not have nearly the production capacity to supply their refineries. These companies have to buy their oil somewhere, and they have to buy most of it from the NOCs.

Historically, most oil traded at posted prices, but nowadays most of it trades on various oil markets. NOCs and integrated oil companies used to negotiate fixed prices, but nowadays they tend to write contracts setting prices at some kind of offset to a benchmark crude oil such as Brent or Dubai.

The futures market arose to manage the risks that result from writing contracts that have no fixed prices. Companies don't want to be bankrupted by rapidly changing prices they can't control, so they hedge the risks in the futures markets.

On the other side of these futures markets are companies whose business is managing the risks for the other companies. They are not likely to go bankrupt because they have very deep pockets. They make their money by building a "risk premium" into the prices they quote.

To an outsider it might look like speculation, but in reality it's all about controlling the risks of trading oil in a free market where prices are not fixed.

That's a great post RockyMtnGuy.

Over the last few year visiting TOD regularly I reckon I gotten more out of the comments of informed posters such a Rockman and your good self than the articles themselves (especially now the articles are getting more technical, a mere oil amateur such as me needs things explained nice and simple).

BTW, much of your post I first understood from reading Downey’s Oil 101 - just thought I’d mention it cause it’s a such a great overview on the oil industry for anyone wanting a good start-up book.

Yes, I can recommend Downey's Oil 101 as a really good basic introduction to the oil business. It is a very mysterious, arcane business if you don't know what is going on, and you sure aren't going to learn much by watching the talking heads in the MSM. They get paid for looking good and sounding confident, not for knowing all the answers. They don't even know the right questions to ask.

The current market, I think, is driven by fundamentals and not by speculators. The fundamentals are that China and other developing countries are buying up a lot more oil than in the past, and some of us are not sure that OPEC is capable of meeting the demand, notwithstanding their claims that they have a lot of reserve capacity.

The situation in North Africa is potentially bad. It's like watching a brush fire spread and grow. Libya is not such a big producer, but the concern is that the turmoil will spread to the really big Middle Eastern oil producers.

The situation in North Africa is potentially bad. It's like watching a brush fire spread and grow.

Exactly. This weekend's Australian Financial Review (Australia's leading financial newspaper) had a major article on the dangers of the situation. Rather annoyingly IMHO, they also highlighted a quote from an advisor to KSA Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, stating that KSA has 'plenty of spare oil capacity if needed' - without a single word regarding the doubt around the level of spare capacity Saudi actually has.

Personally, I think on a humanitarian level one can only applaud what's going on in the Middle East, but yes, it could so easily go very bad for everyone.

If we see oil supply disrupted to a significant extent for any length of time because of these events, I wonder if we may get a foretaste of how things may play out in a post peak-oil world..

I'm not so sure about the humanitarian issues. Most of these countries have virtually no traditions or experience with self government. So there will be fitful efforts over many months to create some kind of governments. Making matters worse, the populations far exceed the carrying capacity of most countries in the area. Libya has enough oil revenue to mitigate some of the poverty but Egypt is in trouble no matter how their government issues turn out. Iraq seems to be going down a drain defined by religious and cultural tensions. They too have a good revenue source but the social disequilibrium seems to far outweigh any benefit they may derive from their oil wealth.

My guess is that there is likely to be no growth in oil production from the middle east for a long time, years. In the meantime spotty production with much unpleasantness until new dictatorships are in place.

So at the set date the oil must be sold to someone that can take physical delivery.

Nonsense, less than one percent of all contracts traded on the NYMEX or any other commodities exchange results in physical delivery. Speculators never take delivery and even hedgers usually settle in cash. Oil is not traded on the NYMEX. Only oil futures are traded. The vast majority of contracts are closed before expiration. That is the a holder of a long contract sells and a corresponding holder of a short contract buys and the contract vanishes into thin air, the same way it was created.

But some contracts are always left open at expiration. When an open contract expires it goes to the clearing house for settlement. All shorts are matched with a corresponding long contract. The holders of those contracts can then either select to take/make delivery or settle in cash. Most settle in cash.

There will usually always be more on one side than the other. That is more people wishing to take delivery than those wishing to make delivery, or vise versa. In this case some wishing to either take or make deliver are then forced to settle in cash. This makes little difference however because the hedger, (only hedgers choose to take or make delivery), can then take the cash and make his physical oil transaction.

It is a myth that anyone is ever forced to take or make physical delivery of any commodity because they failed to close their contract before expiration.

Ron Patterson, former commodities broker.

I know nothing beyond the basics about trading-but it would be a lttle more understandable to complete novives if you said that NO PARTICULAR seller or trader is forced to take or make delivery-any one trader can always buy and then sell another contract as needed , so long as his money holds out, to avoid having to physically deliver or take delivery.

He can in effect pass the buck with that addditional piece of paper-er excuse me, swarm of electrons,

Obviously deliveries are necessarily made and accepted every business day,the one percent you mention.

If something plugs up the oil transportation system plumbing, and the movement stops, genuine spoeculators, meaning those who are not hedging to lock in price- either get rich or go broke, depending on how the chips fall.

I know nothing beyond the basics about trading-but it would be a lttle more understandable to complete novives if you said that NO PARTICULAR seller or trader is forced to take or make delivery-any one trader can always buy and then sell another contract as needed , so long as his money holds out, to avoid having to physically deliver or take delivery.

Mac, what you wrote is simply incorrect. What I stated in my post got it right the first time. NO trader is ever forced to make or take delivery. And you do not have to do anything to avoid taking delivery of the physical product, just say you don't want it and you will get cash instead, or be charged cash as the case might be. The people who do take or make delivery do so because that is what they desire to do, not because they are forced to.

Mac, futures are bsically financial instruments and not a method of buying or selling physical oil.

Futures Contract- Wikipedia
Cash settlement - a cash payment is made based on the underlying reference rate, such as a short term interest rate index such as Euribor, or the closing value of a stock market index. The parties settle by paying/receiving the loss/gain related to the contract in cash when the contract expires.[8] Cash settled futures are those that, as a practical matter, could not be settled by delivery of the referenced item - i.e. how would one deliver an index? A futures contract might also opt to settle against an index based on trade in a related spot market. Ice Brent futures use this method.

Got that! "Could not be settled by delivery of the referenced item." Could not be settled by delivery means "I don't want the damn stuff"! Or "I ain't got no oil so how can I deliver any oil." Or here is the best one of all. I don't have $90,000 to buy 1,000 barrels of oil so I cannot possibly take delivery." Right now the margin requirement to buy one contract is $5,063 (That changes almost weekly as the price changes or volatility changes.) But the margin requirement on Crude Oil is usually from 4 to 6% of what it would cost to buy the actual oil. So all you need to buy one contract is $5,063.

Just curious but why do you think I had it wrong.

Ron P.

What speculation? Is paying the daily open market price now called "speculation" everytime it threatens prices at the pump? I guess it's an easy rallying call for all kinds of interest groups as well as the media living off the inane froth, what ever buys the eyeballs.

Any time somebody buys a commodity (or commodity derivative) in anticipation of selling it later at a higher price, it's speculation. Sometimes it does reach the pumps. But, when it reaches the gas station, it reaches it for damned good reason.

When there is a credible chance of a spot shortage of gas, it is everyone's moral duty to cut down usage to a bare minimum. And, those who continue to use gas at that moment deserve to have to pay a premium for it. Thank God for speculation.

I think most everyone agrees that there is speculation. The controversy is whether or not speculation drives up the price ultimately paid for the barrel or the gallon of gas at the pump.

When a serious shortage is perceived,there will be hoarding by keeping one's gas tank filled or/and bidding up futures notwithstanding your view that there is a moral duty to cut down usage.

Will this new uptick in energy price spurn a new green movement or more FF hunting? Adressing AGW seems all but forgotten by most governments.

I wondering if this has happened because of other more pressing global problems ie recession / civil war or becasue policy makers and govenments have realised the sheer brutal scale of the problem in using less FF's and now they've all run scared. Lets face it if policy doesn't work within 4 years you kiss your govenmnet bye bye and get a new one.

Seems to me that our present political system is incompatable with long term sustainable solutions.

Also the new meme seems to be that "there is plenty still left in the ground so lets start drilling." NOT// "FF's are getting a bit too expensive and causing global recession/ global warming so lets invest in Nuke,Tide,wind,Solar/hydro/Geo."

Every time we get over the hill of another energy crisis it seems like we've learned nothing from it.

I'm more and more convinced that we're seriously up the creek without a paddle, not because we aren't able so sort it out but because humanity won't come together to solve this mulitfaceted problem. And we are accused of being overly doomerish?!

Non doomers out there: cheer us up! Where are these solutions? Why are our policy makers doing nothing?



Doing nothing???

In the US our best politicians that money can buy are now planning to increase defence spending while cutting wasteful programs like alternative energy tax credits and eliminating the pork barrel transit "new starts" programs. I am being sarcastic.

The long slow decline of the US empire will continue as TPTB try to pump up the same flawed programs and continue the same policies of 50 years ago that got us into todays energy mess.

Democracy is a lousy system of govt.
But it’s the best lousy form of govt. out there….

The problem with democracy is that politicians are most concerned with keeping things stable during their term in office. Politicians care only about the next election cycle, not how the country does long term.

Plus, it’s easy to manipulate the masses through lies, distortions and misinformation. Of course, this problem is not exclusive to democracy, but telling people what they want to hear is the best way to get elected.

Democracy in Egypt would not solve their basic problem of population overshoot (almost 83 million people) plus the inability to feed themselves, they import 40% of their food and 60% of their wheat (a staple in Egypt).
The country is arid, pot semi-arid.

Maybe our main problem in the modern world is a general lack of respect for science (especially in the Bible belt) and the natural world.


Maybe it's just that the plutocrats are messing things up in this country...........

We are learning two things --

One is that two-party or multi-party democracy based on a biennial or quadrennial beauty contest between two media machines does not lead to a government that can plan for the future. We are likely to evolve back towards a single-party republic like the constitution originally specified.

Another is that business matters, and a government that does not manage the economy to produce a reasonably well distributed material sustenance for the populace will eventually be tossed out. Saying "let the free-market work" is just another paraphrase of "let them eat cake".

You say two media machines.. it seems that it's more like one big machine that is feeding on both sides of the aisle.. as are a great many businesses.

I don't deny that business interests have their place, but maybe like the Structural Separation of Church/State, we would have to institute a similar divide to keep politics insulated from such excessive money interests.

Who bells that cat, and how? Well.. we demur at our own peril, I guess. Like our energy predicament, it's a mammoth problem.. but it won't get any better by shrugging it off in disgust.. how have other countries taken on this issue. Have there been some successful moves? (Maybe redeveloping the Anti-Trust rules is a good direction to put our energies..)

So separate business and government. Government is responsible for managing the economy long term through the policies implemented by taxation, regulation, procurement, infrastructure development, scientific research, etc. Business is responsible for short term economic results by development of products and services and execution of business operations.

However, for stability, you need a third party, so that the two weaker parties can always redress the balance by forming a coalition against the strongest party.

Merrill – Very well put. And when the Republicans take over I’ll put in a good word and see if I can get you a seat at my table. LOL

Actually the idea of that happening (which, when TSHTF is a real possibility IMHO) scares me as much as the Democrats ruling the roost.

Are Republicans really a step up from Democrats…..???

Democrats may believe all forms of energy are equal and there is no such thing as energy density…,
(no diffuse energy)…., and solar and wind energy will provide my house with energy, completely ignoring the needs of heavy industry………


Many Republicans seem to be members of the ANTI-Science party……..
No evolution, no AGW…., and all we need to do is drill here drill now……

Looking in places most likely to have oil, anticline, reverse faults, salt domes, searching for source rock, reserve rock and an oil trap do not register with them..., neither do flow rates……

I am not a fan of either party but I do consider the Democrats the lesser of the two evils……

Les - So you would less upset to be eatened by a small wolf than a big lion? LOL. Hey...about all we might be able to do is laugh...not a lot of other options. But at least if the Dems were in charge I know we would readily use our military to take the oil we needed. Even with the recent foolishness by the bush the Dems still hold the record for leading more of our military to their deaths (and probably along with a higher "collateral" count) with than the Repubs.

All silliness aside I don't see a very honorable future for this country regardless of who's in control.

I consider Republicans to be the big lion.

But that's just me.

Yes, Dems do start a lot of do gooder wars. But I doubt they'd start a war for oil. They believe solar cells and wind will save the day without a decline in the standard of living.

This country will do one of two things..., take the high road or take the low road......

If this country decides to take the low road, I don't see much reason to stay, unless all other countries close their boarders...

How bad could it get?

They believe solar cells and wind will save the day without a decline in the standard of living.

There is absolutely no evidence for this. Dr. Chu is no idiot . . . he realizes solar is expensive . . . that is why his whole focus is on figuring out ways to get the cost down. If they thought the prices were the same, then there would be no reason for the government to be involved!!

Virtually no-one but the hyper-supporters say that solar & wind are just as cheap. The point is that we don't have much choice in the long-term future since FF will run out so it is best to get started now. Yes, renewables do cost more . . . but they also do provide some advantages. Cleaner air, less dependence on imported energy, long-term future, actually manufacturing & deploying them helps bring the costs down, etc. These are advantages you need to consider while you also take into account the higher cost.

Yes, renewables do cost more . . . but they also do provide some advantages. Cleaner air, less dependence on imported energy, long-term future, actually manufacturing & deploying them helps bring the costs down, etc.

Do you understand, it is GLOBAL warming, GLOBAL climate change. Fossil fuels are burnt worldwide. They are mined, drilled for, explored, exported, imported, traded and used and abused worldwide. As one form of fossil fuel becomes harder to obtain, other dirtier forms are taken up and renewables are assisting that process not preventing it.

Renewables are not, I repeat NOT clearing the air. For a reality check look at the co2 readings from Mauna Loa. We continue to burn fossil fuel as fast as we can, in spite of renewables.

Until you and everyone else in denial realizes that fact we have no hope of addressing increasing atsmospheric Co2. Maybe you should agree with Nick and "just buy a Prius".

Renewables remain the only hope for those determined to attempt the continuance of BAU for as long as possible. The process of renewable use, must be accompanied with the direct prevention of FF use and that means leaving the damn stuff in the ground and off limits. If we can't do that forget about "clean air".

So unless those advocating the build out of electric cars, windmills, solar and nuclear qualify their advocacy with the need to use renewables to actively PREVENT fossil fuel use they are no more or less than people with agendas.

Uh . . . OK. I wasn't talking about global warming at all. I was just debunking the stereotype of naive democrats that believe alternatives won't cost more.

Perhaps that's because your claim is the result of your ignorance of the true costs. Number one is the cost of the military which the US maintains to protect "our interests" overseas. Those "interests" appear to be maintaining the imports of low cost oil from other nations. Since the cost of our massive MIC aren't included in the market price of fossil fuels, it can not be said that any comparison based on such prices is accurate. And, the long term impacts on the Earth's life support systems, of which global warming is only one, is also left out of the numbers which appear on the gas pump.

Then too, the cost of electricity to most in the US is the result of a century of building of our electrical supply and distribution system, which has already been paid for in much lower nominal dollars. Are you going to actually calculate the costs of low temperature solar thermal in comparison with the cost of new fossil fuel generation, including some likely increase in the future cost of those fuels? Or, are you going to use the most expensive source of renewable electricity, PV, and use that to make hot water, which is a completely wrong headed approach.

No, I think you are just making an unsupported assertion without any real numbers to back it up...

E. Swanson

In order to make progress on reducing greenhouse gas production, that goal has to become the prime objective where all other objectives are subsidiary to that objective. Peak oil is of interest to those with that primary objective because it holds out the promise that there will be less of that fossil fuel in the future, thus making less co2 available for the atmosphere. The problem, however, is that there are other fossil fuels available to take up the slack. Yes, they are not as useful as oil in powering automobiles, for example, but they will be used some how, some way regardless.

The alternative of really cutting back on all these end uses like the automobile is generally outside the frame of main stream discussion. Thus, we have the "promise" of electric vehicles so we don't have to adjust our lifestyle in any way whatsoever. Cutting back is not only usually outside the discussion but is considered un-American and socialistic.

In order to get the biggest energy reduction return for the fewest dollars invested, it makes sense to primarily focus on cutting back on the use of energy. However, we should invest now in renewables anyway in order to get the costs down so they are more on a par with fossil fuels, not because they will make any significant contribution in the short run.

It is understandable,however, that there is a focus on renewables because politically no other approach is currently viable. That is why Obama doesn't talk about global warming anymore; he just talks about investments. Even that, however, has become unacceptable to the deniers on the right who believe or purport to believe that we can drill ourselves out of shortages and imports.

Maybe you should agree with Nick and "just buy a Prius".

This is confusing two different issues.

Priuses, EVs, and renewables are very good solutions for both PO and AGW. But, they need to be implemented at different speeds for the different problems.

PO can be addressed by phasing in EVs and renewables as needed. AGW has to be addressed by building them ASAP.

PO can be addressed by phasing in EVs and renewables as needed.

Yes, but not at any rate that makes any difference whatsoever.

We started too late, the job is too big and the financial system will fail as oil contracts the economy.

We have good visibility on how much oil is coming online and it's not enough to maintain production much less increase it.


The financial system doesn't work in reverse because of fundamental design errors in the system, notably the banking reserve system.

Moreover, we already know what happens when contraction hits hard: companies fail and specifically the car companies will fail again. It's a nice idea that EVs will save the day but who will build them? And who will be able to afford them?

Oh my goodness, we're back to this argument. Sigh.

Again, there is this puzzling assumption that oil can't be replaced, that it is somehow magically necessary for industrial/modern civilization. Oil has been cheap and convenient for the last 100 years, but the industrial revolution started without it, and modern civilization certainly will continue without it.

• 130 years ago, kerosene was needed for illumination, and then electric lighting made it obsolete. The whole oil industry was in trouble for a little while, until someone (Benz) came up the infernal combustion engine-powered horseless carriage. EVs were still better than these noisy, dirty contraptions, which were difficult and dangerous to start. Sadly, someone came up with the first step towards electrifying the ICE vehicle, the electric starter, and that managed to temporarily kill the EV.

Now, of course, oil has become more expensive than it's worth, what with it's various kinds of pollution, and it's enormous security and supply problems.

• 40 years ago oil was 20% of US electrical generation, and now it's less than .8%.

• 40 years ago many homes in the US were heated with heating oil - the number has fallen by 75% since then.

• 50% of oil consumption is for personal transportation - this could be reduced by 60% by moving from the average US vehicle to something Prius-like. It could be reduced by 90% by going to something Volt-like. It could be reduced 100% by going to something Leaf-like. These are all cost effective, scalable, and here right now.

I personally prefer bikes and electric trains. But, hybrids, EREVs and EVs are cost effective, quickly scalable, and usable by almost everyone.

Sensible people won't move to a new home to solve this problem. That would be far, far more expensive than replacing the car. It makes far more sense to buy an EV and amortize it over 20 years at a cost of less than $2k per year (about the amount they'd save on fuel), versus moving to a much higher cost environment (either higher rent or higher mortgage).

• As Alan Drake has shown, freight transportation can kick the oil-addiction habit relatively easily.
We don't need oil (or FF), and we should kick our addiction to it ASAP.

The only reason we haven't yet is the desperate resistance from the minority of workers and investors who would lose careers and investments if we made oil and other FFs obsolete.

Some might ask, what about our current debt problems?

Debt is a symbol, a marker - what matters is the underlying productive capability of our economy, which will be just fine. Could we screw up the management of our economy, and go into a depression? Sure. But it's not likely.

Don't these transitions take 50 years?

The transition from kerosen to electricity for illumination took roughly 30 years. The US transition away from oil-fired generation took very roughly 20 years. The transition away from home-heating oil was also faster than 50 years (though uneven).

The fast transition from steam to diesel locomotive engines is illustrative. There were a few diesel locomotives in use in the U.S. during World War II but steam dominated in 1945. However, the steam locomotives had been very heavily used during World War II, and they all wore out at approximately the same time the first few years after 1945. When steam locomotives wore out, they were invariably replaced by diesel in the mid 1940s. By 1949, almost all steam locomotives were gone. There were still some steam locos made in the late 40's, and they were still in service in the 50's but dwindling. The RR's also relegated the steamers to branch line and switcher use - replacing the most used lines with diesel first as you would expect. Cn rail retired its last steam engine in 1959.

Other, very slow transitions are not a good guide to the future. For instance, the transition from coal could be very slow, because there was no pressure - it was a trade up, not a replacement of a scarce resource.

And, unfortunately, we have more than 50 years worth of things we can burn for electricity. Fortunately, it doesn't look like we will. For instance, coal consumption in the US dropped 9% last year, about half of that due to loss of market share.

The transition from heating with wood to heating with coal took a lot more than fifty years. Electrification of the U.S. from small beginnings in the late nineteenth century to finishing rural electrification during the Great Depression took at least forty years.

Sure. These involved an enormous amount of infrastructure. On the other hand, EV/EREV/HEVs are manufactured on the same assembly lines as ICE vehicles, and roughly 75% drivers in the US have access to an electrical plug where they park.

If we mobilized all our resources as we did in World War II with the single objective of getting off fossil fuels as fast as possible, wouldn't the transition still take at least twenty years, and probably longer than that?

It would be much easier than that. A transition to EVs requires only a change within the automotive industry (for most drivers).

until someone (Benz) came up the infernal combustion engine-powered horseless carriage.

I think you meant internal combustion engine but I like your term better.

And regarding the speed of transition (which Vaclav Smil likes to bring up), I think those historical examples are helpful but not completely applicable. Most of those transitions occurred because something new & better came along . . . but the older system was still available and worked just fine. Well with oil, it may become very expensive very fast and I think that will provide us an incentive to switch over much faster. It is easy to break old habits if they start costing a lot of money.

The move to EVs will probably be relatively slow though since they still are pretty expensive

Nick often makes it all sound like it'll be far easier to accomplish than I believe is possible, but despite that, I think the tools he supports are ones we need to be adding, nonetheless.

The question, it seems to me, is not what we find feasible with the economy as it is and where it's currently headed, but what will be the 'new feasible' when this becomes a true emergency push.. as with the WPA days or the War Effort. When (possibly if) the gravity of this situation becomes clear to TV-land's Munchkins and they decide it's necessary to plant Victory Gardens and built Solar Heaters En-Masse, etc.. the rate of transition, and the degree of transition possible will become more clear.

It might sound really 'Gilligan's Island', but I don't discount the possibility of a lot more little Homebuilt E-Bikes and E-Wagons(?) showing up in such a transition, as the few key components are already available now, and improvements are not that hard to implement.

Well, there's the technical feasibility, and the social barriers.

We could reduce our fuel consumption by 25% in weeks, if we simply chose to penalize light trucks (SUVs and pickups) heavily, and enforce mandatory carpooling. Everyone would get to work, the economy would continue.

There's a lot that's possible, if we choose it.

Sorry Nick, but the more often you say these things, the more you seem blithely disconnected from how big an 'IF' you're talking about.

It's social resistance TIMES physical obstructions TIMES economic shortages TIMES a foreshortened timeframe ..

I'm always willing to say we have options and opportunities.. but for you to keep saying 'it shouldn't be such a big deal, IF we all just chose to pull together and do so..' It's just simplistic.

People would be screaming for your head if you were just to say 'You've got to stop drinking Diet Coke.' I don't think you realize just how dramatic these changes would be to vast numbers of people.

Yeah, maybe I need to say it more clearly.

I agree that the problem of social change is enormous. You can see that from the fact that I am not hopeful that humanity will do much to deal with the really big problem, which IMO is Climate Change.

Timeframes are the key. The later we wait to deal with PO, the more painful it will be, but if we have to we can deal with PO as it happens. The timeframes for implementing solutions to PO are much shorter (e.g., carpooling (weeks) in parallel with emergency ramping up of EV production (less than 10 years)), and the hidden positive feedbacks much smaller and primarily social in nature (i.e., under our control).

On the other hand, we need to deal with CC before it happens, and that appears very unlikely. CC is a physical phenomenon, and will probably accelerate even if we stop CO2 emissions right now. The timeframe is decades, and the hidden positive feedbacks are outside of our control, and may be enormous and unstoppable even now.

Still, it's useful to be clear where the problems are. We have all of the technical tools we need to deal with PO and Climate Change (though cost reductions would certainly help, via better science, engineering and manufacturing techniques). What remains is the social problem.

I do post often about the social problem. Here's one:

"A dark ideology is driving those who deny climate change. Funded by corporations and conservative foundations, these outfits exist to fight any form of state intervention or regulation of US citizens. Thus they fought, and delayed, smoking curbs in the '70s even though medical science had made it clear the habit was a major cancer risk. And they have been battling ever since, blocking or holding back laws aimed at curbing acid rain, ozone-layer depletion, and – mostly recently – global warming.

In each case the tactics are identical: discredit the science, disseminate false information, spread confusion, and promote doubt. As the authors state: "Small numbers of people can have large, negative impacts, especially if they are organised, determined and have access to power."


and here's another:

We can eliminate our dependence on oil, but how quickly will we do so? The tools are here: Hybrids like the Prius, EREVs like the Volt, and EVs like the Leaf have been engineered and are for sale. Wind power has grown to the point where it can provide whatever we need (and yes, nuclear and solar are important too). So, what's left is the pace of cultural change, and the small matter of politics - how we deal with the minority that wants to block change:

"The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are waging a war against Obama. He and his brother are lifelong libertarians and have quietly given more than a hundred million dollars to right-wing causes."


Yet one of your big deals is that The USA reduced coal use by 9%.
You fail to qualify that with the increasing US exports and the world wide increase in coal use of 4%.
You have no credibility when you misrepresent facts like that. It means to me you talk like you are concerned with climate change but it's just that, talk with absolutely no conviction.

You want to make climate change a part of your agenda, then qualify your cornucopian spiel on the use of renewables and electric vehicles with the immediate consequences to increasing co2 levels, population growth and the accelerating degradation of the overall environment. Like the increased coal exports, what jack is not using Joe down the road is. We have to stop Joe using that which we have have not.

WE are not going to get out of it with your BAU ideals. The burning of carbon must stop now (not wait until later as you suggest)and renewables and electric cars are not helping one iota, they are assisting the process. What is the use of having all the electric trains, windmills and electric cars if the planet if it is being rendered uninhabitable?

Every single device which right now is a substitute for FF use, that includes when you ride an electric train instead of driving your car, when you walk instead of taking the bus, when you put solar panels on your roof, when windmills are used for electrical generation, these devices and actions must be offset by ensuring the amount of carbon which you saved from getting sent into the atmosphere is left in the ground and placed off limits for good.

We are at the bottom of the eighth inning and behind 10 nothing. We can't afford to wait, the bases have to get loaded so we can hit a few over the wall. Otherwise the game will be over if it isn't already.

It's either suffer the pain, "enormous" pain beginning now or the alternative is to do exactly what you are proposing. What I suggest has no hope of happening so I've been wasting my breath but I just find it hard to abide dangerous people like you being paid heed.

How is it dangerous to suggest we replace coal with wind power, and oil with EVs??

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Actually, eliminating coal wouldn't be that hard.

The US generates about 50% of our electricity from coal, which amounts to an average of 220 gigawatts. Wind, on average, produces power at 30% of it's nameplate rating, so we'd need about 733GW of wind. Wind costs about $2/W, so that would cost about $1,466 billion. Transmission might raise that about 10%, to about $1,613 billion.

Now, roughly 50% of coal plants need to be replaced in the next 20 years, so about 50% of the $1.6T coal replacement investment is needed anyway; new coal plants are just as expensive per KWH as wind, so that half, or $800B of the investment can be eliminated from our considerations.

Coal plants cost about $.035/KWH to fuel and operate, which is about 50% of the cost of wind. That's an expense that we'll have either way, so we can eliminate 50% of the remainder, which is about $400B: all told, we can discount the wind investment by 75%!

Wind's intermittency is often raised as another source of cost: I address that here.


So, that gives us a cost of roughly $400B, or $40B per year for 10 years. That's a small % of US manufacturing, and a very small % of GDP.

A bargain.

I agree, except:

EVs are much cheaper to operate than ICEs if you take all of the costs into account: security, pollution, etc.

As a society we may not price those in properly at the moment, but those costs are real. The sooner we all recognize and price them in, the better.

You act like a paid corporate shill Nick and a BAU specialist whistling to the herd.
Baffle em' with BS should be your motto.

US coal exports, up 46.8% 2009 to 2010.

We are going nowhere but down and it's dangerous people like you who are greasing the chute.

Actually, those who say that renewables will never work are the ones that are acting like paid corporate shills.

I can just hear an oil company PR person: "oil is necessary to our economy, our economy will crash without it".

"Drill, baby, drill". That's what "renewables won't work" adds up to.

and usable by almost everyone.

In your fertile imagination, perhaps: http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts

Yes, there is a minority who will have to wait a while for used hybrids, EVs etc to appear.

On the other hand, the poorest quintile of our population doesn't drive that much - they tend to live in big cities, and use mass transit. Most fuel is used by the middle class and wealthy.

Yes, there will be a small minority that will be hurt in the transition. The sensible thing would be to help them, just as we subsidize home heating bills for a small portion of our population that can't afford them.

there is a minority

In good times a small minority bought a car each year. At double or more that unemployment level, you think a majority can afford $40k vehicles?

That, as the lawyers say, assumes things not in evidence.

Aleklett, President of ASPO, forecasts a decline of only 11% for all liquids by 2030. The US GDP has grown to 2.5x larger since 1979, while using the same amount of oil.


The Prius costs less than the average US car, and uses 50% of the fuel. The plug-in Prius will cost the same as the average US car, and use 30% of the fuel. A plug-in Prius with greater electric range will cost perhaps $3k more than the average US car, and use 15% of the fuel. These costs will fall.

I didn't assume any information. The US has never bought 55 million vehicles a year and unemployment is now double what it was pre-crisis. You offer several assumptions, tho.

Shall I assume your answer is yes?

The US has never bought 55 million vehicles a year

?? I'm not sure what you mean.

unemployment is now double what it was pre-crisis.

Ah, you're talking about the present.

I didn't assume any information.

Didn't you assume $40k? That price won't last for long.

Less peregrination, more answering.

Here's my answer: yes, EVs will work. They will be affordable, though of course there will be a transition, and that will take longer for people dependent on used cars.

There are multiple resource constraints: energy, rare earth ores, water, and more. There are discontinuities with climate and energy which are, and will continue to disrupt economic activity. There is overall overshoot ecologically. Electric vehicles, yes. Cars, not so much. The only long-term response to overshoot of ecological systems and complexity is reduced consumption and simplification.

Everyone having an electric car doesn't fit that reality.

There are multiple resource constraints: energy, rare earth ores, water, and more.

Not really. We have plenty of energy. We don't have plenty of oil, but we have a lot of NG, too much coal, and way more wind and solar than we'll ever use.

Rare earths...aren't.

Water is a real problem, but it's a management and distribution problem.

Climate change is by far the biggest challenge I see - that will probably be very painful.

There is overall overshoot ecologically.

Overshoot really is the wrong concept. We've badly damaged our nest, but pollution and species extinction isn't about limits, it's about vandalism, intentional and otherwise.

It's far, far easier and more direct to reduce our environmental damage than to think in terms of reducing consumption. In fact, we need economic resources in order to reduce the damage, and then remediate it -we've done far too much damage to think that we can just shrink away from the world and have things be ok.


Have you really looked at some of your arguments?? The change from steam to diesel locomotives (diesel-electric) was a clear step up on a number of fronts, yet a change from gas/diesel to electric is a step down.

A diesel locomotive could go from cold to moving in a matter of minutes, firing up the boiler took time on the steam locomotive. Someone had to shovel the coal on a steam locomotive, yet the fuel on a diesel would flow. I could go on but you really should check the advantages yourself.

When we get to EVs, if your battery is flat it will take time to recharge, yet the gas/diesel takes but a few minutes to go from near empty to full.
Battery weight is a huge constraining factor for EVs. An extra 20 litres in the tank of an ICE will weigh an extra 18 kg yet probably get you 200 km before refueling, yet in the EV to get an extra 200 km will take a massive extra weight of batteries to get there.

EVs are clearly a step down, yet you think the transition will take less time than the step up did (because we have less time to do it). This does not compute in the world of reality.

You make 'step down' sound like a bad thing.

At this point, we might have a little bit of a choice whether to be stepping down or falling down. Got a preference? Would you prefer to hang onto a car that has a bunch of abandoned Ghost-Gas Stations to look longingly towards, or a wallet that can't put enough gas in to get where you're going?

I'm not as optimistic as Nick.. and I don't think EV's will be 'Dad's New Oldsmobile' .. but they are vehicles that we will have the ability to charge from multiple sources, they can be built with a fraction of the moving parts and systems that an ICE requires, and can thus also be built to be largely home-servicable in many ways. So while not being a step up, they do seem to be a step forward.. AND down. Perhaps down the side of this cliff-edge we are playing on today.

When we get to EVs, if your battery is flat it will take time to recharge, yet the gas/diesel takes but a few minutes to go from near empty to full.
Battery weight is a huge constraining factor for EVs. An extra 20 litres in the tank of an ICE will weigh an extra 18 kg yet probably get you 200 km before refueling, yet in the EV to get an extra 200 km will take a massive extra weight of batteries to get there.

EVs are clearly a step down,...

I'm not going to try to defend Nick here because I think his his views are Cornucopian and are not based on an through examination of facts and reality. I do agree with Jokhul that in general terms Electric trains and even EVs, are the direction we should be heading in.

However, I really get frustrated when I read the kind of argument that you give as a reason for EVs being a step down or batteries being a constraint. Your thinking is based on the false premise that we will continue with the kind of lifestyle and civilization that fossil fuels have allowed us to have over the last 100 years. What was will no longer be. We are on the cusp of some major resets and changes. I won't get into whether or not the changes will be easy or hard, peaceful or violent will there be war, famine, die off of if most of us will somehow muddle along through crisis after crisis. In my view that is pretty much moot and I don't think it matters as most of the die has been cast and we don't have much control as to how things will develop.

Let me just address "EVs are clearly a step down" Why?!, EVs are no more a step down than the furry little mammals were a step down from massive dinosaurs when they went through their mass extinction. It is a completely new paradigm. To be clear we are not going to have SUV size EVs driving 200 miles on a single charge because that is a physical impossibility. Please stop thinking like that and using that kind of thinking as a reason to say EVs won't work. Evs do and will work, just not that kind of EV in that kind of world...

As for Nick, there will never be a world of 100 million Nissan Leafs driving on our highways in the US. Let alone a Nissan Leaf for 300 million Chinese or 300 million Indians. There are not sufficient resources on this planet to accomplish that.

I obviously did not get my point across clearly. I fully understand about the EVs being the only option, it is just in the timing. We went from steam to diesel relatively quickly because it was a step up. Because going to EVs is a step down, it has not occured as yet, but there are great promises and hopes about it. Only when the real constraints of FFs arrive will the EVs be sought, yet the time to make it happen was years ago.

People will hold on to what they perceive as the better alternative for as long as possible, the ICE vehicle until it is too late, plus the minor detail of the amount of FF energy it would take to scale up relatively cheap EVs. I agree we don't have the resources to do it. It is the Cornucopian approach that we will move effortlessly from FF use to electric, I don't buy it.

Looking through history societies tend to move forward or collapse, I cannot see how this time will be different, I hope I'm wrong.

there will never be a world of 100 million Nissan Leafs driving on our highways in the US. Let alone a Nissan Leaf for 300 million Chinese or 300 million Indians. There are not sufficient resources on this planet to accomplish that

There are 230M ICE vehicles on the road in the US. A leaf takes no more resources to build than an ICE vehicle. There's plenty of battery materials, such as lithium.

There are 230M ICE vehicles on the road in the US. A leaf takes no more resources to build than an ICE vehicle. There's plenty of battery materials, such as lithium.

That was then, this is now. We no longer have the resources to put 230 Nissan Leafs on the road and the economy will not support it either. Perhaps there will be 200 million electric bicycles or velomobiles perhaps not...

We no longer have the resources to put 230 Nissan Leafs on the road

It takes little oil to manufacture vehicles, including EVs. What other resource do you have in mind?

Have you really looked at some of your arguments??

I assure you, I really have.

The change from steam to diesel locomotives (diesel-electric) was a clear step up on a number of fronts, yet a change from gas/diesel to electric is a step down.

A Prius (the first step in electrification) is just as nice and convenient as an ICE vehicle. Have you looked at the next step, the EREV? Look at the best example, the Chevy Volt: you can reduce your fuel consumption by 90% very, very conveniently. I assure you - Volt owners are feeling no sacrifice.

The remaining 10% of the liquid fuel requirement can be supplied by ethanol quite easily.

Oh my goodness, we're back to this argument. Sigh.

I don't write my comments for you because you appear to be a lost cause. I write so that others have a counter to your poor logic, lack of knowledge of history and your extremely poor grasp of our current situation, which is perfectly exemplified by this statement:

Could we screw up the management of our economy, and go into a depression? Sure. But it's not likely.

That just about says it all. You clearly have no idea what is happening right now out there with our global financial system.

I won't bother recommending that you educate yourself because, as you have noted, we've have been at this for a while now and you seem to refuse to incorporate new thinking into your world view, particularly how the financial system will interact with the energy system.

For others, I recommend reading This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Reinhart and Rogoff to gain the appreciation of what happens when civilizations get themselves into financial difficulties like we have.


Nick's technical analysis is not terrible (though I believe also faulty in significant areas) but because he doesn't consider the financial system his predictions are, I believe, dangerously wrong. This is quite common out there among engineers, especially where I live near Silicon Valley. If you just look at the technology and forget about the rate of technological dissemination (not to mention all the other problems we face, like resource depletion), one can convince oneself that we can avoid a massive downward spiral in this century.

But it is an illusion born of incomplete and faulty analysis.

I have yet to see any reason whatsoever to question Scenario #1 from the Limits to Growth:

Scenario 1

Note that industrial production plummets somewhere in this or the next decade.

I don't write my comments for you because you appear to be a lost cause.

Yes, I'm not expecting to get through to you right away, either. Yes, I expect my comments will be more useful for others.

By the way, your comments are still ad hominem. I think I know as much about about energy, economics and history as you do. But...it doesn't matter. What matters is the arguments and evidence presented here. I've repeatedly shown the flaws in the logic and evidence you've presented. Keep in mind, showing speculative charts and saying "the economy is going to crash - I know it, I just know it for sure, and everyone here agrees with me!" isn't evidence.

Now, this comment post is a little unclear: are you arguing from physical fuandamentals (that resource limits will cause us to crash, a la Limits to Growth), or are you arguing that resource problems don't create impossible problems, but that humanity just isn't smart enough to manage them??

Your last argument was the latter: that humans weren't smart enough to maintain an economy in the face of resource challenges. Now you seem to be shifting to the fundamentals, by showing the LTG graph.

So, which is it?

So, which is it?

Nick, both will play a role. Understanding of the Peak oil matter is simply to difficult for most people and this means that the majority will keep on listening to idiots. And when there is the understanding there needs to be cooperation. In times when the world has a few more oilprice shocks left behind and the unemployment is higher than today. Very difficult. Such a situation is more a breeding ground for (civil) war(s) than for cooperation. And this has started already.
Regarding 'wastage' and 'economic growth': for instance in a situation with carpooling, the trust in the economy will be so low, that people stop spending money for more than basic things. People start to save more money, if they can. This initiates a downward spiral that is very hard to stop.

Yes, war and excessive savings are positive feedbacks which may present serious challenges.

Fortunately, the US' recent setbacks with oil wars will probably reduce the temptation in that direction.

And, as we have seen, the Federal Reserve seems to be able to prevent deflation caused by excessive savings.

Could we screw things up? There certainly is a chance, but it doesn't appear to be the most likely future.

It is PERFECTLY obvious that the Democrats are for all intents and purposes just as willing as the republicans to go to war-or REMAIN at war for the sake of ready access to oil.

It is true that since the "cans are a little more forthright in this respect; a bunch of democrats can vote "peace" knowing perfectly well that enough more 'crats will join the 'cans that the fight will be on as scheduled.

This is of course a standard political tactic often used by both sides, to the advantage of particular senators and congressmen-if the vote is assured to go the way it needs to go, a few can always take shelter by voting against it, knowing it will pass anyway.

REALITY is such that the oil will continue to flow our way so long as our troops are "over there", and the geology cooperates.

Only somebody incredibly, hopelessly niave in respect to big power politics could possibly believe otherwise.

I don't especially care for Hillary, or Barack, or any of the current top level democrats, but they understand this perfectly well;watch thier actions, not thier lips.

Incidentally, my opinion of the current top level republicans is no higher.

Many forget Carter put an entire Navy Fleet in the Middle East to guard the oil. You'd have thought Carter was a Republican. Instead he turned out to be called a wimp by the Right. LOL. He still is demonized.

Nice comment, OFM.

And I tend to think very poorly of our politics as well.

How could a bunch of grown men and women not come up with a credible energy policy over the last 40 years when the first 1973 oil thingy rocked our world?

That shows you that all sides are foolish.

They must not have to take history classes to run for Congress.

Yeah, if you ask most people what the 'Carter Doctrine' is they will have no clue.

And considering his reputation as a 'wimp' there is no way people would even guess that it is ~'If you get between us and our oil, we will blow you away.' My crude phrasing . . . Wiki has it more elegant:

Simple answer Oct

"How could a bunch of grown men and women not come up with a credible energy policy ...?"

Because those people know they will lose their next election to the opponent that tells the public no sacrifice at all would be needed under their stewardship.

I think having had so much oil at their disposal for so long the US of the 1970s could decide if they would keep it flowing their way or let it go somewhere else. They had the infrastructure and the technology to use it---and increase the flow even. They must have realized if they didn't someone else would have. Of course they also knew it was a temporary thing, but when you are talking 40 years that is half a lifetime so the people in power knew they wouldn't live to see it crash.

Letting someone else have it would have been smarter in the end, of course. "Go ahead, ruin your land! Pave it over! The more highways the better! Please! Get a filthy depressing car industry to go along with it and ruin your rivers!"

But that is like looking at a huge bowl of ice cream on the table and saying, "no, I don't need that!" Most people can't resist a treat, even if it isn't good for them.

I guess it is just human psychology. People who opt out are considered losers. Passive, weak, silly, not competitive. Let us hope that the coming crisis at least will underscore the value and merit of play, folk festivls, music, having fun, and not tedious poring over numbers at a desk---being out of touch with nature certainly leads to making the wrong decisions too.

Good-bye, puritan work ethic!!

Well the party is over.

People will lose their "jobs" and their cars and their mchomes.

I guess the politicians lied to the Average American.

Now those that swallowed the lies and vote for lies deserve what they get.

I think it is a fast-food mentality. You know it is terrible food, and yet most eat it because it tastes good. There is no healthy long term outlook with fastfood. Same with excessive oil consumption.

It is bad for our health and there is no way to stop it other than to let Nature run her course on our overpopulated planet.

Just this morning, Haley Barbour stated on NBC that the problem is that the Obama administration won't allow drilling in the gulf or Alaska. He aptly expresses the views of the Republican party, many democrats, and the majority of the American people. It is like we never had a disaster in the gulf. But putting that aside, peak oil, even in the U.S. is being totally rejected.

It amazes me. I wished they open up Alaska so that they would see it cannot make much of a difference. We are all in this thing now. There are no more games to delay reality.

Stop eating the Big Macs, Barbour lol. And I am not specifically saying Barbour but all of them Ds and Rs, whoever they are that think we drill to freedom from oil depletion.

I almost died from all the prior anti-obama rhetoric about Obama practically spilling the oil in the GOM himself. Or blaming Obama for not instantly stemming the oil leak with his finger in the pipe under a mile of ocean.

We are so pathetic it seems. We cannot remember what happened last week -- let alone in 1973.

Well I hope we go back to a republican president. That way we can laugh at them as they fail to make oil floweth forth from nowhere. They will blame the EPA for oil production problems due to regs and so on. LMAO.

Politics is so dull. Are we all dopes?

We had a Republican for eight years, an oil man as President and VP. And they couldn't get 'er done. So isn't it obvious there is a deeper problem that Dems holding up drilling?

Yes, I was thinking the same thing. They had enough Senate clout too I thought during Bush and Cheney. I guess Big Oil does not want to foot the bill for the pipes unless the find is big enough.

Maybe ANWR is nothing more than a political football with very small volumes of oil at stake.

"They believe solar cells and wind will save the day without a decline in the standard of living."

Well, this works for me, I guess the rest of you need to get your act together.

Don in Maine

Thats an interesting comment on the Dems leading us into more death and what not. I think your right. Maybe its about panic? Anyway, interesting comment. We are all screwed whoever is in charge.

Wouldn't a single party republic be closer to totalitarianism...
At least it would still be a republic....

I'd prefer a multi-party system that is more stable than what Italy or Israel have...

I don't know how it would work

Maybe our main problem in the modern world is a general lack of respect for science (especially in the Bible belt) and the natural world.

That is rooted in most of our religions up until capitalism. Early Christians would kill or convert nature worshippers and how do capitalist ideologues regard environmentalists? Until the scorched-earth, endless-growth, "invisible hand" Jihadists get exposed for what they are nothing will change.

"Why are our policy makers doing nothing?"

There is nothing they can do. Technically, they can't replace fossil fuels in less than 40 years without blowing out the economy. Which is already blown out, if you haven't noticed.

Politically, they are caught between the Left, which is opposed to any new construction of anything anywhere, and the Right, which is convinced that God will provide or has provided all the oil we could ever need if only we would drill for it.

Economically, they are trapped by demographics as well as a couple of decades of malinvestment. And entire industries were wiped out intentionally with the expectation that the information economy was going to make everyone rich doodling up web pages, so who needs those dirty old mining, logging, heavy industrial, old economy jobs? So we import solar cells, windmills, iPods, canned rotor pumps, and nearly everything else. (But we still do build fin-fan heat exchangers in the US!)

And if the policy makers decide to strong-arm the population to do what either Right or Left thinks is "correct" (depending on which side they take) the other side will pick up enough moderates/independents to win the next election and overturn whatever got started. To wit, the last US election, and the rate at which Merkel is losing ground in Germany.

And being a dictator or king is no help. To wit, Egypt, and Libya, and Bahrain, and Tunisia.

Ask a historian when was the last time things were this stirred up, and what happened then.



"I don't know how WWIII will be fought, but WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones"

Albert Einstein

I think I got the quote right, maybe I should have googled it.........

"Adressing AGW seems all but forgotten by most governments"

I'd have said "Addressing AGW is a key aim of most governments, with the notable exception of the US"

Fianna Fáil punished by voters as support collapses

Latest information would suggest Fine Gael will win 76 seats, Labour will take 36 and Fianna Fáil will get 25, including outgoing Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk. Sinn Féin looks set to take 12, Independents will win 13, the United Left Alliance will take four and the Green Party will lose all six of their seats.
The Green Party has been obliterated. Paul Gogarty and Ciarán Cuffe have conceded their seats in Dublin Mid West and Dún Laoghaire, Eamon Ryan said he and party leader John Gormley have “little chance” of holding their seats in Dublin, while Mary White’s seat in Carlow-Kilkenny appears gone. Trevor Sargent has only a slim hope of holding his seat in Dublin North.

It appears that the Irish have bigger problems to worry about than AGW.

Whatever the complexion of the new govt they are signed up to EU policy


Policies are always open to interpretation. An being "signed up" doesn't mean that "addressing AGW is a key aim" of the Irish government.

The English have attempted to control the Irish for many years. Good luck with that.

The big issue is whether the holders of Irish bonds will be paid in full or whether the new government will impose a haircut.

Addressing climate change is in the Fine Gael manifesto, probably written without the help of the English!

Seems to me there is a fundamental disconnect between European and US policy. In Europe climate change is a policy given.

Bondholders, thats another matter.

The Telegraph newspaper in the UK has the story on the Irish election:

A European diplomat, from a large eurozone country, told The Sunday Telegraph that "the more the Irish make a big deal about renegotiation in public, the more attitudes will harden". "It is not even take it or leave it. It's done. Ireland's only role in this now is to implement the programme agreed with the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. Irish voters are not a party in this process, whatever they have been told," said the diplomat. . . .

Dessie Shiels, an independent candidate in Donegal, said: "People have not been given the basic right of deciding whether or not they should have their taxes increased in order to repay bondholders who have lent to the banks."

David McWilliams, an economist and former official at the Ireland's Central Bank, has led calls for a popular vote under Article 27 of the Irish constitution, which requires on a matter of "such national importance that the will of the people ought to be ascertained". "We have to re-negotiate everything," he said. "Obviously, the first way to do this is to make them aware that if they force us to pay everything, we will default and they will get nothing. So they had better get a little bit of something, than all of nothing. To make this financial pill easier to swallow, we must take the initiative politically. We can do this via a referendum.

"If the Irish people hold a referendum on the bank debts now, we can go to the EU with a mandate from the people which says No. This will allow our politicians to play hard-ball, because to do otherwise would be an anti-democratic endgame."

Declan Ganley, the Irish businessman who led the 2008 No vote to the Lisbon Treaty, said . . . "We have a hostage, it is called the euro," he said. "The euro is insolvent. The only question is whether Ireland should be sacrificed to keep the Ponzi scheme going. We have to have a Plan B to the misnamed bailout, which is to go back to the Irish Punt."

"The English have attempted to control the Irish for many years."

It comes down to how many the English are willing to kill this time to get their way.

Between Cromwell and the Famine, history is pretty clear.

I don't believe the English have enough stiff upper lip left to take on the Irish again.

PV Guy, OFM, what on earth are you on about?

How to morph a topic from tackling AGW to random anti-English comments?

Even though I am a Scots/ Irish man by ancestry and in my heart, I am also an Anglophile, despite the record of the English nation abusing Ireland, which is QUITE well documented.

The English after all are responsible for most of my culture, particularly the literature I love so well.

My remark, which may be a bit obscure on reflection, refers to whether the English at this time have the political will and clout to control the Irish nation.

I think there is a very good possibility the Irish are going to repudiate the debts of the bankers assumed by the Irish govt , the means being throwing out the current politicians and voting in a new set.

I don't think the English have enough political influence in Ireland these days to stop this from happening;they certainly aren't going to try to use troops to enforce the terms of the bailout of course, they gave up that sort of thing a couple of generations back.

OFM, the thing that puzzled me was that the bailout was EU led, not England/Brit led, though the UK did make available a bilateral loan. Undoubtedly Irish debt default would impact heavily on the UK but I think it would be much more pertinent to ask whether Germany and France would send in their troops to enforce the debt terms on behalf of the EU..

I'll go along with you that the English history re Ireland leaves a hell of a lot to be desired.

Anyhow this story will run and run now that Fine Gael intend to renegotiate the EU debt terms

I think the green defeat has more to do with being tarnished by having been a coalition partner of the current gov. Theres always a risk involved with aligning with someone you don't have control over, if they go down hard so will you.

"Addressing AGW is a key aim of most governments, "

As long as "addressing" means babbling on about the subject while doing nothing, I'll agree with that. Addressing the crowd is what politicians do best, after all.

As I am sure you know,the latest and greatest solution to our oil problems is oil shale, the kerogen kind. Heating rocks up to 700 degrees while using tons of water in the arid west is the savior of our energy future. Why didn't we think about this before, say in the 1970s? Oh, we did that.

Since AGW is now off the table, all you will hear is the sound of drilling.

Sorry, I have nothing here to cheer you up or me up.


I was thinking. Maybe we should use the heat required to get oil shale to 700 F to make steam, which turns a turbine and makes electric power. Then we use that power to drive small electric cars with 50 mile range to work each day.

I wonder what is cheaper?

Or maybe we should all waste the remaining FF on oil shale production and head over the cliff faster.

Which is worse?

700F won't make much power ;p

"700F won't make much power"

How much 700 F material do you have? That comes out to just shy of supercritical steam. Or 600 PSI steam with a modest superheat. And 600 PSI steam can move a pretty large ship. As in aircraft carriers.

Temperature is not energy. You are probably thinking of efficiency. 700 F with a 100 F sink is not very efficient, but if the source is big enough you can get lots of power out.

Having taught thermodynamics, 700 F is a meaningless parameter (if you want to make it hard on me). I thought my response implied that the 700 F was more than a thimbleful of water or something insignificant.

You'd need to know how many joules or BTUs would be produced at that temp. -- then the efficiency and conversion factors for taking heat Joules to electrical joules. Now have I crossed my tees? ;-)

I imagine after factoring in the mining, NG requirements, pipeline structure, and so on, that electrical power from NG is more efficient than oil from shale.

Someone can prove me wrong I guess, but seems like oil shale production wont happen except in the form of cock-and-bull stories on CNBC or WSJ shows.

Yesterday I Googled "oil shale" and looked at some technical papers. I was disappointed to see that there actually are people digging up oil shale and getting real, usuable power out of it. The Estonians are generating something like 70% of their electrical power from junk similar to what we have in the American west. They obviously don't have the water limitations we have here but apparently they are getting real net energy from it. I also read that the hydrogen to carbon ratio is much better in American kerogen than it is in coal, so it seems that converting it to liquid fuels may be a better bet than just burning it.

So environment be damned, I suspect it will be used when it looks the lights will start to dim and the SUVs roll to a stop.

It was sarcastic... as the steam generator where i'm at is running around 3900psi/1010F at the pressure regulator valves
700F can do work, though, you're right..

You got yourself a real turbine there. I get worried when I pressurize something to >100 psi. LOL.

I have been saying for some years now... we will eat the Planet.

Any kind of environmental sensitivity goes down the tubes as soon as economic pain (even relatively mild pain) is felt.

We will eat the Planet.


Then we will be eating each other.......


"Yikes" pretty well sums it up. :-/

sgage, not so fast! Last Thursday morning on CNBC Squawk Box a chart was shown that the USA now has by far the largest crude oil reserves on the planet with 800Bb that will last for 100 years. KSA follows with 285Bb and Canada with 225Bb. The US increase is due shale oil it was said.

So, don't worry, be happy!

Hurrah! The day is saved! Guess I'll go ahead and buy that SUV of my dreams! ;-)

We better learn how to breathe and eat CO2 then. It matters not how much oil you have, it is how much agriculture you will have when AGW destroys most of the productivity of the agricultural zones. It seems we have been blessed for over 8000 years with a very stable climactic regime in these regions and we cannot take this stability for granted.

Cant wait to see the destruction that crude from shale produces. :)

Heating rocks up to 700 degrees while using tons of water in the arid west is the savior of our energy future. Why didn't we think about this before, say in the 1970s? Oh, we did that.

This latest bit about 800 billion barrels of oil, which is actually in shale rock was the latest idiocy coming from the no brains fringe. In 1972 a friend of mine was talking about shale oil under Colorado and how oil companies were trying different ways to extract it, but had failed. Not even that it was uneconomical, which might translate into today's economy, but that it simply didn't work. And now suddenly they trot this news out like it was just discovered and all the people that 'believe' whatever they are told are probably thinking the liberals are holding the country back from competing with Russia and the Saudi's.

I really am at this point completely perplexed by the mentality afoot here that just keeps piling up on other illogical positions. Maybe its the last vestige of inane hope to maintain phantom capacity.

And now suddenly they trot this news out like it was just discovered and all the people that 'believe' whatever they are told are probably thinking the liberals are holding the country back from competing with Russia and the Saudi's.

Didn't I read a post and see a link with Erin Burnett on CNBC yesterday on saying if only oil shale weren't on govt. land...?

Evil envirnomentalists.......

That's just another anti-Obama lie. Thirty percent of the shale is on private land, 70% on govt land.

ts - don't worry about the sound of drilling rigs bothering you. IMHO that noise will be easily drowned out by the sound of mountains being blown off and the digging equipment pulling all that coal out the ground. IOW the coal that will replace oil as the driving force in all economies around the globe...including IMHO our AGW hating cousins in the EU.

Time to pull out the Woody Allen quote.

ts - Never been a big Woody fan...enlighten me please.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Some of us will choose total extinction........

(not me)

"Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable." -- The Woodman

Some of us will choose total extinction........

(not me)

Most excellent ts...thanks. I may have to change my view of the Woodster.

You beat me to it tstreet :-)

I am wondering if the time where we have that choice is past.


I believe peak oil is a far more immediate problem and I worry about it far more than AGW.....

Dinosaurs had to put up with more heat than we will in the coming decades...,

But that assumes we don't try to burn every single hydrocarbon on planet we can economically get our hands on.

If we burned as much oil shale directly to produce steam to generate electricity..., and burn all the coal we can get our hands on....

So much for this planet....

Big mis-judgement, imo. Liebig's Law of the Minimum, a.k.a. the last straw, tells us to watch out for hat critical element which will begin a cascade of failures. Guessing which it will be is inherently dangerous. When we do so absent analysis, we have a very likely outcome of failure.

Risk is not determined by the immediate effects, but the long-term effects; not by the middle, but by the tails. We ask, what is the worst ultimate outcome of each?

Peak Oil: A return to pre-fossil fuel lifestyles. That could be as good an ultimate outcome as a 1700 - 1850 lifestyle. Assuming the absolute worst outcome one could expect an Iron Age lifestyle for the population of that future era.

This is not an existential threat.

AGW/Climate Change: A 6C+ degree warmer planet on which humans would likely not survive, but if it did, it would either be in very limited areas that would be subject to such extremes of weather that even this might be unlikely. Caveat: living underground/undersea, neither of which is likely to be available for but a tiny fraction of the current population.

This is an existential threat.

Ultimate Risk Factor: AGW/Climate Change

You may question the assumptions, but both are safely within the error bars for their respective areas of study.


Electric Cars (non-FF energy sources)
[Resource Constraints: NO]

Electric Mass Transit (non-FF energy sources)
[Resource Constraints: MAYBE]


Natural farming





[Environement: NO]


Steady-State Economy

Maintaining Current Infrastructure

Current Ag, but Organic

Some solutions work for PO that do not work for AGW/CC than the reverse. Focusing on PO alone or primarily can lead to poor choices. The less risky approach is to use solutions that work on both, and the most effective do.

In my Iron Age lifestyle, I will take the job of undertaker as their will be dead bodies laying around everywhere. The existential threat of PO is not complete but will probably involve large population corrections.

That would not be because of PO, but because people chose not to adapt. It is very possible to feed the planet without use of any FF and with much less water than currently used.

FF won't simply go "poof!" either.

"It is very possible to feed the planet without use of any FF and with much less water than currently used."

How do you figure that we can feed "the planet" (I suppose you mean humans) without FF input? 7 f-ing 7 billions? That is utterly delusional thinking. Sorry.

Thank you for engaging rather than simply dismissing my comments. /s

Because we already do grow as much food or more with non-FF practices.


There are three other titles/sections. If you want more, let me know.

You provide a link to a video about permaculture to support your assertion that humans already grow enough food to feed 7 billion people without using fossil fuels.

Do any of your "non-fossil fueled" urban permaculture gardens provide subsistence food for the gardeners?

Are they able to pay their rent, mortgage, utility bills or property tax with the proceeds from the gardens?

Yup. I know of several. There's one here in Detroit making 4k/mo according to the gardener. There's a family in California making 30k a year. Lots of other anecdotal evidence, etc. Also, check out Will Allen's stuff in Chicago.

I didn't post what I posted because it's permaculture, but because there is an awful lot to learn for someone like yourself, and all the rest that don't understand the power of building soil.

There are three other videos. I'm thinking you didn't watch them. Why is it so hard for people to understand intensive agriculture has gone on for 10k years with no FFs? What in the world keeps you from understanding that, if anything, we can do it better now than before because we have solid scientific knowledge that either confirms or improves old ways of doing things?

It's freaky weird that people are hostile to the fact we - gasp! - can put seeds in the ground and get them to grow.

I could have sold a hundred dollars a week of produce a week out or our little garden last year if I wasn't making it a community garden. Without trying hard, and only about a third of the garden in production.

You really need to understand, we are doing it differently. It's all about the soil, about using all available space, planting densely, as nature does, using symbiotic relationships and on and on. It's almost easy. Once you get your soils built up and your water dealt with, it is easy, and takes hardly any time. E.g., any idea how much time I spent pulling weeds in our garden last summer, @1500 sq. ft? About 2 hours for the entire season. Want to know how much time we spent on bugs? Zero hours. Unless you count a portion of spraying home-brewed fertilizer/compost/insecticide, in which case fertilizing, composting and preventative insecticide collectively took about three hours. Total maintenance for the season: 5 hours. Go ahead and double it and we're still only at ten.

I didn't say we grow enough to feed 7 billion, I said we already do produce equivalent to FF AG, but my wording might have been unclear. We can grow equal or better than FF agriculture/acre, but most acreage is not grown this way. But it can be, and more so, must be. This kind of agriculture can draw down up to 40% of current CO2 emissions.

Stop assuming it can't be done.

Why is it so hard for people to understand intensive agriculture has gone on for 10k years with no FFs?

I think the problem is that we do understand it. And those methods could not support anywhere near the current population. (And you did say "feed the world," not feed the United States.)

People starved to death in the past, and they still starve to death now. I find it hard to believe that they did so because they "chose not to adapt."

The graph for China is especially interesting, since they have intensively farmed for so long (and suffered the dieoffs that go with living at the Malthusian limit).

There's a few more charts that you might want to post using the same time scale, or for that matter just the last several thousand years:

1. The number of agonomists in the world, which you may want to break down into the various fields (no pun intended) of agronomy;

2. The energy cost to move one food calorie one mile.

3. The speed at which information relevant to food production and distribution is disseminated.

1. Irrelevant

2. Localization, i.e. don't move it.

3. The primary limit, but has nothing to do with "can," only "will."

Politics and knowledge are the only limits. Even water isn't a limit in many places it is assumed to be.

You've not offered any evidence, just your assertion. Why not? If natural, organic agriculture has equal or better yields, by what logic do you arrive at your conclusion?

Empirical evidence. Natural, organic agriculture is what humans did for the past few centuries. We did not succeed in raising our population anywhere near current levels until the fossil fuel fiesta got underway.

Rapid population increase was the result of declining death rates without the accompaniment of declining birth rates. Both of those declines occur with general industrial development, but the first occurs first (leading to population increase), and the second lags behind. It took a while (and is STILL taking a while) for the second to get up enough of a head of steam to get ahead of the population curve. "The fossil fuel fiesta" took place during the death-rate-decline "explosion", followed and over decades (or half-centuries) by a fertility-decline "explosion", of which (thankfully) we're now in the midst.

Not all natural and organic agriculture are born equally. It's hard to make this clear to people without making it a top post and I am trying to be minimalist out of respect for the reframed focus of TOD, so am a bit hobbled.

Essentially, there are a number of differences:

- perennial polycultures
- extensive use of tree crops within polycultures that mimic forest structures
- planned community use of the commons and resources as opposed to each farmer doing their own thing
- an intentionally localized economic model and Nation of Farmers model
- a set of principles widely applied creating integrated systems at all scales

We are talking apples and oranges.


That's not evidence, that's a very loose comparison.

Consider wind power: the state of the art is very, very different compared to 200 years ago.

It cannot be done in my humble and calloused hands opinion. It is nuts to take a little plot of land and extrapolate dedicated production to a country or region. I had many farmers in my family in Minnesota and they always had a town job to pay the bills in order to get by. I am at present creating a sustainable property for my family and could not do it without my little tractor or school teacher paycheck. The ground is rough, choked with pasture and brambles and full of rocks. We produce like crazy, but I look out my window as i write this and see snow falling.....and this is on the mild west coast....and the snow will fall off and on all week. I have a woodlot and hand saws to buck in case tshtf and i will not get out and be able to cut firewood with my chainsaw and truck, but I sure cannot imagine hauling enough wood to stay warm for the winter with a goddamn wheelbarrow. And who will build the barrow when this one wears out? Wooden ones, suck.

Sure, we are building our soil up with compost and sheep ****, but I couldn't do our plot without my BCS tiller.

Those that say you can feed a community without ff are dabblers and do not know what they are talking about. Maybe, just maybe, if you live in the primo climatic area I think of what the Garden of Eden is supposed to be, you could support a few folks.

Only a few lucky and prepared can/could survive the collapse of ff assisted life. It is going to be terrible if it comes to pass. It is nice to dream about a cornucopia land of permaculture gardens and country festivals while we wait for the jam to boil, but the reality will be very hard to imagine.

I'll continue to build up my land, have a new greenhouse to build for my wife this winter, and dream about family dinners on what we grow, catch, and kill; but realize our 17 acres will support no more than our immediate family and that is if we are lucky and don't get hurt or sick.



I would never use a tiller, so that would save a lot of time and energy. Why do you till? There is no reason to unless you are starting a new bit of land that is hard pan or something. Even them, no need to till unless you need that in production immediately.

How many acres are you working?

If you haven't tried it how I would do it, is it logical to assume it can't be done?

I plant two thousand christmas trees per year on part of my land. Clay hard pan. You work to break through the turf just 6 inches as the ground has been pasture for 30 years. I defy anyone to spade this ground by hand. I am switching over to a small plow and hiller which I tow behind my tractor.

Transplanting, I assume? I've never really thought about it, but pines must do well in acidic soils, eh? If you could recycle christmas trees and use them as mulch for the next batch, that thickness of mulch would keep your hard pan from hardening in the sun. Add in some deep-rooted, leguminous ground covers to till the soil for you (just plant among the trees), and I'd bet in a year or two you'd not need to till at all.

I'd also look into some beneficial, burrowing varmints you could encourage by planting munchies for them. And lots of worms into your mulch, too!

Just top 'o me head comments. Might all be bullocks. Except the mulch. That would definitely help. Wood chips! Of course!

Try it on a new planting so you have a couple years till cutting.

I totally agree with Paulo. Can't be done. We are trying, but if I weren't a venture capitalist with money in the bank, ( to go to the grocery store), we'd starve on our sustainable, organic, permaculture experiment here. One of my employees literally wept last year as drought, squash bugs, borer beetles, and every other goddam thing wreaked havoc on our various gardens. ( Yes we know all about Neem oil) I have money to spend on equipment, consultants and organic ag experts, go to conferences, visit other farms trying the permaculture route, (btw we no til drill) and we are finding its nearly impossible. Without petroleum? Feed 7 billion? You're dreaming.

I'd love to visit! It sounds like your polycultures need work to deal with the pests, and that you may not be using animals, or not enough? Compost teas do wonders in keeping bugs down. Foliar sprays? Also, how much land for how many people to work?

As for the weather, it is what it is and is the one thing that will bring down even the best designs.

But I am not dreaming. We have to understand the best outcomes are only going to be possible with a mature system. One in process is naturally going to be vulnerable, and that is where Leanne is broadly correct: drought, floods, etc., are what they are. But a 20% carbon soil will go a long way towards mitigating most droughts, and even some flooding. What is the organic content of your soil? Is it all heavily mulched?

Glad to see someone trying. I wonder if you are near enough to visit...

Hundreds of acres on a river in NC. We only have some 24 acres currently in organics right now. We are attempting to implement an integrated, whole forest-land system of sustainable management including miles of riverfront, streams, ponds, etc. Permaculture rules always. Certified organic seed and plants and trees always. We have some acreage in clover, legumes and grains for nitrogen fixes. We are working with researchers at two Universities for organic methods of controlling pests. We have applied for several grants for help fighting invasive species. Not so much for the money as what the hell to do if you cant use chemicals. Tree of Heaven is rampant here, and we are losing our gorgeous stands of hemlocks to the vicious woolly adelgid. In the fields we use manures, composts, and compost teas. (My Ag Manager knows more particulars.) I realize this is a generational project. However it is damned hard work and ofttimes deeply discouraging. And even with all this help and advice, I couldn't feed my family for a year off our fields.

A fellow I know here in Ashe County, NC does horse logging for minimal impact on the land. If you are interested, I can put you in touch with him. My e-mail is in my profile...

E. Swanson

thanks so much E. Swanson.
Actually just a few miles from my farm is a fellow who does the same with Belgians. He is going to do some clearing for me on some bottom lands we are going to begin planting. We are attempting to do small fields "feathered" into the forest. An interesting feature of my bottom lands are the "slave canals" dug for drainage in the mid 1800's. Hardly a thing of nature! The horse-logger will go ahead and take down some hemlock stands as well. Acres of tall stately hemlocks -- all infected. Profoundly sad. Our forester says 85 percent of the Eastern Hemlocks in the Shenandoah Valley are dead and dying. Do you see infestation in Ashe county?

Yes, the Hemlocks are suffering from the same infestation here as well. For what it's worth, the Hemlocks have been heavily logged over the decades, so they tend to be rather widely separated. Some time ago, I heard that there is a treatment which kills the aphids, which involves spraying each tree with some soap mixture. Very labor intensive, to say the least...

E. Swanson

I think an important principle you may want to emphasize a bit is to build in chunks. Plan from patterns to details, of course, then build in pieces. I think you've might simply have started too big on implementation. Hard to tell from text on a screen, of course.

You didn't address polycultures, and that is where your pest control comes from. No way would I expect to be able to manage pests even in smallish monocultures.

If you have your manager conact me, I'd be happy to look at some of the challenges and post them to some permie lists.

Wow, you come across as an arrogant know it all. You have no idea who I am or what my education and financial backing are or what I am doing really. "Too big an implementation??" Really Dude? I wouldn't have my manager call you for anything, he can't stand people that think they have all the answers.

Our favorite advisors are the local farmers whose only education is their hands and backs and what their Daddy's taught em. They are a thoughtful lot who come and look and suggest what worked for them. They are humbled by the power of nature and understand farming is more art then science, more experimentation than any set formuala; A PROCESS of learning with the variables always changing. We treat them with the honor and respect they deserve and they respond in kind.
THATS who we call for advice. ( and of course about a half dozen paid consultants who may or may not have a clue)

Arrogant know it all for discussing your farm with you? Sorry. I was careful to use "of course" to indicate this was information you probably know, and "may" is conditional with the corollary meaning being "but maybe not". With such a large farm and relatively little of it organic and having a tough go of it, there's got to be a reason(s), right? I was just casting about. Maybe a smaller plot would be a better start. It's a reasonable suggestion given the context, and not said in arrogance. I'm always open to suggestions and tend to forget most people are not. I hedged my bets as noted above assuming you may have considered these things.

Our favorite advisors are the local farmers whose only education is their hands and backs and what their Daddy's taught em.

Mine, too.

If you don't partake of any of the listserves, they are a great place to get ideas from some of the best-known permies around. Let me know if you'd like a link.

It is nice to hear that a few people can make permaculture work.

Written by pri-de:
... there is an awful lot to learn for someone like yourself, and all the rest that don't understand the power of building soil.

Like me? I live on a little more that 40 acres, 20 miles from the nearest town at 2,000 m elevation in a semiarid forest in Arizona. The temperate was -26 C last winter. Next summer it will exceed 38 C with relative humidity below 10%. The last frost of the season is usually in June and the first, is usually in September. My house is not connected to any public utilities. There are no wells, nor rivers here. My water comes from rainwater catchment. I have a garden (900 square feet) using mulch and compost without industrial fertilizer. I terraced the virgin area on a 1.5 degree slope using manual labor removing rocks and stumps. I dug up, manually transported and installed 50 rocks to use as stepping stones to access the garden without killing grass and tracking mud around. I purchased and installed a 1,000 gallon water tank which is insulated around its lower 18 inches using rocks and dirt all extracted, transported and installed manually. The local farmer's market is so overloaded with bureaucracy that it is dysfunctional for the little guys. I do not have millions of dollars to spend on agricultural projects that will not produce enough value from crops to compensate for the expenditures.

You live in an urban jungle reaping the benefit of an infrastructure created using fossil fuels that you claim with carefree abandon can be easily replaced by manual labor. You do not grasp the scale of the problem.

Written by pri-de:
There are three other videos. I'm thinking you didn't watch them. Why is it so hard for people to understand intensive agriculture has gone on for 10k years with no FFs?

True, I watched the first one, but the narrator lost credibility when he suggested modern human sewage be processed into fertalizer without mentioning the difficulty of removing the toxic junk that is mixed in. Urine is a great nitrogen fertalizer provided you are not using medication that poisons it. Agriculture sure has gone on for thousands of years without FF inputs while the global population was less than 1 billion. No matter how hard humans tried to multiply, we could not get it above that number until we increased productivity using fossil fuels.

Written by pri-de:
I could have sold a hundred dollars a week of produce a week out or our little garden last year....

Is that before or after you fed yourself and the other gardeners completely from the crops for a year? The energy required for food preservation multiplied by human population is also an issue (research a pressure canner). I will never achieve subsistence farming at my place because the environment is too harsh. My garden can only provide supplemental food. It is so much easier if you have an ideal location that is not wrecked by human stupidity and greed.

Written by pri-de:
Want to know how much time we spent on bugs?

You are benefiting from the efforts of all the urbanites before you who slaughtered rabbits and rodents and excluded animals from your garden. I have several types of animals to guard against out here in a real forest including livestock. Have you ever erected more than a mile of barbed wire fence? I have.

Written by pri-de:
Once you get your soils built up and your water dealt with....

How do you provide water for your community garden? The total cost of my rainwater catchment system is about $1,900 over the last 20 years and stores about 2,300 gallons. If the rain fails to fall for more than a year, I will be in a dire predicament.

During growing season, I go out to the garden every morning to inspect for problems causing me to expend quite a bit more time dealing with insects than you.

Written by pri-de:
We can grow equal or better than FF agriculture/acre....

No you can not. Little experiments in permaculture heavly subsidized by embedded fossil fuels do not scale up to large farms. Some relevant questions to this issue that I was not able to answer by research:

How much money did Sepp Holzer spend creating Krameterhof? He inherited the farm which certainly helped.

What is Sepp Holzer's crop yield at Krameterhof?

What is his annual income from selling the crops? Do not include income from a second job or teaching about his method of permaculture.

One must be ever vigilant for the snake oil salesman.

Excellent post....thoughtful and heart felt. i wish you all the best as we ramp up for a new growing season. This year I have so many spuds left over i am puting in tons and telling the neighbours to come and get em. Our wind is so cold blowing off the sea we can hardly get squash to ripen. our tomatoes are grown in a greenhouse as well as peppers, cukes, etc. We are expanding the glass in order to lengthen our growing season as well as installing an indoor type solarium for winter greens.

Any..good gardening.

"One must be ever vigilant for the snake oil salesman."

Or the indignant name-callers. It sounds like you and Pri-de have both worked hard and have a lot of useful experience to share, even though the particulars are different. I hope it's possible for both of those experiences to be ADDED into the knowledge-base without debiting one-another, and everybody huffing off out of the room in disdain.

Pri-de was definitely a bit over the top the way he phrased comments about 'those who refuse to learn' or 'need to learn' etc.. it's tough for that tone not to turn into a vicious cycle at that point.. but I know that both of you have vital tools to share, as it seems so many at TOD do.

Hope we can keep from tearing ourselves apart over the different approaches and the miscommunications..


Wow! Great response! Hold on a sec while I get more coffee first...

there is an awful lot to learn for someone like yourself, and all the rest that don't understand the power of building soil.

Like me? I live on a little more that 40 acres... You do not grasp the scale of the problem.

I'm impressed with your work and it sounds like a nice place. If I am wrong about your knowledge of soil building, my apologies, but when people tell me they can't grow and what I say is impossible when I know it's not, I can only assume there is a lack of information involved. The point you quoted was about soils, which you didn't address directly except that you mulch, so you didn't address the issue. Soils building is the key to everything, and organic material in your soil is vital in your climate, or extensive water catchment to overcome evaporation. Mulch alone won't get you there, as you seem to know, except in the long term as it is broken down to humus and becomes your soil, without really overloading it. Are you using cover crops to build soil? E.g, alfalfa or something to just let grow and die in place? Using plant roots o build your soil is very effective, of course, so I hope you are not pulling out roots and are not tilling.

You didn't mention a water issue, so I assume you've got that covered? 1,000 gallons is not much, so maybe you do have good humus in your garden.

You need a green house for season extension. Sounds like you have trees? Post and beam straw bale would work really well in your climate assuming you get a lot of sun... no?

The local farmer's market is so overloaded with bureaucracy that it is dysfunctional for the little guys.

Nothing anything but you can do about that.

I do not have millions of dollars to spend on agricultural projects

Join the club! That's part of the reason I love the principles of regenerative design: don't need millions. I am all about lo-tech, not high.

You live in an urban jungle reaping the benefit of an infrastructure created using fossil fuels that you claim with carefree abandon can be easily replaced by manual labor.

No, never said that. Don't even know where that came from. You may be confusing me with another commenter.

You do not grasp the scale of the problem.

What an odd thing to say. Upon what do you base this? I'm pretty well informed, I'd say. It's unfair of you to say because I am confident we can feed 7 billion that I don't understand anything. Not to mention wildly incorrect. You're making some massive assumptions.

There are three other videos. I'm thinking you didn't watch them. Why is it so hard for people to understand intensive agriculture has gone on for 10k years with no FFs?

True, I watched the first one, but the narrator lost credibility when he suggested modern human sewage be processed into fertalizer without mentioning the difficulty of removing the toxic junk that is mixed in.

Because he didn't mention a detail in a < 00:30 minute video, he's a crank? Logical fail. I imagine he'd say phyto- and myco-remediation could be employed to deal with those, but you'd have to ask him. Want his e-mail address?

Urine is a great nitrogen fertalizer provided you are not using medication that poisons it.

Agreed, but you've got to start closing the loops or they never get closed. Healthier eating = less disease = less meds in the urine = healthier food = and so on.

Agriculture sure has gone on for thousands of years without FF inputs while the global population was less than 1 billion. No matter how hard humans tried to multiply, we could not get it above that number until we increased productivity using fossil fuels.

Straw man. The combination of using natures patterns and knowledge with what science helps us understand leaves us with much more effective ways to grow.

I could have sold a hundred dollars a week of produce a week out or our little garden last year....

Is that before or after you fed yourself and the other gardeners completely from the crops for a year?

We're a small family. What we did grow, and it didn't cover everything, being a small garden, was enough for us and for sharing/selling. Tons of tomatoes and greens went to seed in the garden, even.

The energy required for food preservation multiplied by human population is also an issue (research a pressure canner).

Well aware. Need a good Fresnel lens, I do. (Greenpowerscience on youtube is great.)

I will never achieve subsistence farming at my place because the environment is too harsh. My garden can only provide supplemental food.

I'm not convinced. People are getting huge growth in harsher conditions. Four seasons in main, Pheonix/Tucson, Detroit and more. You definitely need some season extension, though.

It is so much easier if you have an ideal location that is not wrecked by human stupidity and greed.

Absolutely, but who does?

Written by pri-de:
We can grow equal or better than FF agriculture/acre

No you can not.

Yes, we can: http://tinyurl.com/4dteoso

Little experiments in permaculture heavly subsidized by embedded fossil fuels do not scale up to large farms.

Why would you want them to? (You do need to define "large" first.) If we're still trying to grow our food on hundreds of acres at a time in 50 years, we've committed suicide because it means we've made few of the changes we need to make. 'A Nation of Farmers', literally.

Some relevant questions to this issue that I was not able to answer by research:

How much money did Sepp Holzer spend creating Krameterhof? He inherited the farm which certainly helped.

Yeah, poop on him! $ over 40 years? Please ask a useful question; you're just being cranky, I think.

What is Sepp Holzer's crop yield at Krameterhof?

Ask him.

What is his annual income from selling the crops? Do not include income from a second job or teaching about his method of permaculture

1. Ask him. 2. You're kidding right? His knowledge is part of his yield. Whole system design, not some system design.

One must be ever vigilant for the snake oil salesman.

And for cranky people with closed minds, I guess. I find both to be of equally limited usefulness.

Thanks for the response. I'm impressed, but I am also certain it's possible to get significantly more from your garden. In fact, you live in a forest. An edible forest might be a direction for you to go. Wonder what would grow up there.

Please stop the name-calling.

Sorry. I really wouldn't have considered any of the adjectives I used name-calling.

..and Ranting.

Pri-de, you have some good ideas and experience, but as Confederate said above, bring some humility with it.. this tirade (tho' I'm sure you didn't mean it to be that) has made your offerings easy to turn my back to.. even if I know they are possibly very good approaches.

Sorry, Jo. See my response further up. We all can miss seeing things we are too close to, and even now many people assume things that are perfectly doable are not. We all have our filters and such and nothing I have said is said in arrogance. More akin to hopefully helpful and hoping to undo some blinkers. I'm really worried about even the immediate future, therefore reach out where I can, and hope for the same in return.

Want to know how much time we spent on bugs? Zero hours. Unless you count a portion of spraying home-brewed fertilizer/compost/insecticide, in which case fertilizing, composting and preventative insecticide collectively took about three hours. Total maintenance for the season: 5 hours

Home-brewed fertilizer/insecticide containing copper and micro-organisms ? If this could be done for 7 billion people, there is this to consider:

Only a limited list of pesticides is approved for use in organic farming.

Organic farmers do not use herbicides, instead they rely on crop rotation, well-timed cultivation, hand or mechanical weeding and carefully selecting crop varieties.

The shelf or farm gate price of organic food is higher for a number of very good reasons. It costs more to produce because it is more labour intensive, crops are grown less often in the same piece of ground and animals are held at lower stocking densities, for their well-being.

Very different from the large, efficient monocultures.
Also I found this:

Is natural always better? "Does organic = safer? Rotenone, a natural insecticide from the extracts of flowers, is used widely by organic farmers on fruits, and vegetables. It is 21 times more toxic than malathion, and has been linked in two separate studies to Parkinson’s Disease." (Sources: Worman & Gribble. “Herbicides and Chemophobia,” Journal of Arboriculture; and Canada Food Safety Network)

Home-brewed fertilizer/insecticide containing copper and micro-organisms ? If this could be done for 7 billion people

It can, with variations in methodology and using local plants similar to nettles, comfrey, chili peppers and others. More labor intensive for those without mechanical means, but many hands make light work and creativity can do wonders.

Only a limited list of pesticides is approved for use in organic farming.

Home brew, non-chemical, non-FF.

Organic farmers do not use herbicides, instead they rely on crop rotation, well-timed cultivation, hand or mechanical weeding and carefully selecting crop varieties.

They left out the best and simplest, heavy mulch, as well as cover cropping/green manures and poly-cultures. It helps if the variates are indigenous, and that includes trying to foster indigenous microbes and fungi.

The shelf or farm gate price of organic food is higher for a number of very good reasons. It costs more to produce because it is more labour intensive, crops are grown less often in the same piece of ground and animals are held at lower stocking densities, for their well-being.

I'm not going to quibble this as some are true, but in a good way (high unemployment > localization > labor intensity), some I find irrelevant and some there are newer methods available, but I can't find the links in a quick check of my bookmarks.

Very different from the large, efficient monocultures.

Monocultures are not more efficient. You have to include subsidies, transport (I see localization as not be a choice, but a necessity), the destruction of the soils, destruction of watersheds and oceans and on and on. They are more efficient a honed knife edge goes into your chest more easily than a dull one does.

Also I found this:

Is natural always better? "Does organic = safer? Rotenone, a natural insecticide from the extracts of flowers, is used widely by organic farmers on fruits, and vegetables. It is 21 times more toxic than malathion, and has been linked in two separate studies to Parkinson’s Disease." (Sources: Worman & Gribble. “Herbicides and Chemophobia,” Journal of Arboriculture; and Canada Food Safety Network)

Then don't use it. I don't. No regenerative farmers I know do. I like my home-brewed stuff and, even more so, co-planting.

Thank you.

but many hands make light work and creativity can do wonders.

They can use the unemployed, but they aren't going to do it for free.
They have to stop wasting so much land necessary for meat production.
There is also the problem of dropping water tables and climate change.

Home brew, non-chemical, non-FF.

And no problems with developing resistence ?

Pesticide resistance is increasing. In the 1940s, U.S. farmers lost only 7% of their crops to pests. Since the 1980s, loss has increased to 13%, even though more pesticides are being used. Between 500 and 1,000 insect and weed species have developed pesticide resistance since 1945.

Though organic farming allows some synthetic pesticides: it includes insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils for insect management; and Bordeaux mixture, copper hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate for managing fungi.

Monocultures are not more efficient.

I meant in the way that crop rotation, well-timed cultivation, carefully selecting crop varieties and your mentioned points are much less an issue. But indeed, with a lot of hands and creativity much can be done. It would be an advantage when the unemployed live not too far from their work.

Unemployed: Nope. Why would they need to? You must be thinking of the unemployed as serfs while I am thinking of them as farmers.

Meat: Agreed, though there are good ways to use large animals and crop production together to create greater efficiency and sustainable production. (Still looking for the links.)

Resistance: Not that I am aware of. Resistance comes from invasion, but natural liquid compost and manures are based in the use if indigenous beneficial microbes. There is no reason to remove elements from their environments; rather, we should be enhancing environments by strategically helping them do what they do a little better.

Story: http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/hawaiinews/20110118_Natural_selection...

Here's the guy's site, I think: http://janonglove.com/janongusa/intro01.html

Look up compost tea and indigenous beneficial microbes if unfamiliar.

Organic/Synthetic: I try to default to what virtually anyone can do, so avoid all synthetics. For example, garlic, soap and pepper is supposed to be good for flea beetles, but I try not to use anything that is not natural. We did fine just using beneficial microbes and only had a problem when we stopped maintaining the garden at all.

Yes, localizing has to happen. I do not see it as being a choice. It is also good that as many as possible are involved in the food system to help this happen, but also to increase resilience. All monocultures are more vulnerable to damage by weather, pests and illness than polycultures, and this is also enhanced by having many more people growing even if the same percentage of each crop were grown. Having space between them makes mass infestations/disease outbreaks much less likely.

Unemployed: Nope. Why would they need to?

To make a living. What happens with the unemployed in countries that cannot provide them free food anymore. IIRC in the U.S. not so long time ago about 40% was working in agriculture.

All monocultures are more vulnerable to damage by weather, pests and illness than polycultures, and this is also enhanced by having many more people growing even if the same percentage of each crop were grown. Having space between them makes mass infestations/disease outbreaks much less likely.

There are crops that are produced in very large quantities (grain and rice), so that makes it much more labour intensive to divide them into much smaller areas. Difficult, increasingly difficult as time pressure because of climate change is growing.

You miss my point. Entrepreneurs, not workers. Steady-state, not "free market" capitalism.

Crops: exactly. There are crops - corn, soy - grown as they are because of the distorted economy and food system we live and work in. Large monocrops will not be resistant to climate, smaller scale will be.

I'm a little confused, I thought Bordeaux was Copper Sulphate and Lime. To go deeper off topic, how much copper sulphate should one use in a hand spray mixture? I've got some dark, powdery mildew on my citrus and the last time I used Copper they dropped their leaves.


I'd use a microbial-tipped tea, avoiding the fungal elements such as fish emulsion.

Some recent research. A 2-year study by the Rodale Institute and Pennsylvania State University evaluated the use of aerated compost tea for disease suppression and crop stimulation in grapes, potatoes, and pumpkins. They first prepared a compost tea by combining compost and water at a ratio of 9:1, and then adding other materials such as kelp, humic acid, and fish hydrolysate. The mixture was mechanically aerated to create aerobic conditions in the solution. The tea was analyzed and shown to contain an adequate population of beneficial organisms and a safe level of human pathogens.

Compost tea was applied in both years of the project. Pumpkin plots were evaluated for powdery mildew. Potato plots were evaluated for late blight. Grape plots were evaluated for powdery mildew, downy mildew, black rot and gray mold.

During year one, approximately 50% suppression of powdery mildew was observed in the compost tea treated grape plots. A slight reduction of gray mold, along with an increase in the level of downy mildew, was observed in the compost tea treated plot during the first year at one of the vineyards. Compost tea failed to suppress powdery mildew on Howden pumpkins in year one, but reduced the number and size of pathogen colonies in year two. Compost tea did not reduce severity of late blight on Superior potatoes when disease was present in year two.


*Home brew, non-chemical, non-FF.*

How will you manage to use a vacume? You are contradicting yourself.


LOL!! You have no idea what I am talking about, apparently. There are no contradictions there.

Even if you put on compost teat that is a mixture of chemicals. Even water is a chemical, dihydrogen monoxide. How are you going to prove that the chemicals in your home brew are safe? Something I see you not mentioning with the permaculture solution is that a lot of the world's agriculture is already dead, just the plants haven't keeled over. They have used up their water resources and there is no new supply in sight. How does permaculture get around that?


I find it freaky-deaky to be attempting conversations with people who seem to seek demise, but OK.

Chemicals: Please be serious. What is used in compost tea or green fertilizer tea are, hopefully from the site in question and are things like vermicompost, compost, comfrey, nettles.


* Build soil. Every percent rise in organic matter means the soil can hold a lot more water.

* Heavy mulching very effectively retains water

* Lasagna beds/sheet mulching. See above.

* Hugulkulture stores water in wood within beds.

* Indigenous plants are adapted to conditions

* Perennials are typically hardier.

* Water capture and storage.

* Co-planting shallow, average ad deep-rooted plants.

Assumption I suppose......

Knowledge. I suspect the delusions are yours. Care to share your knowledge base?


Need more?

I do not see any data on Sepp Holzer's crop yields. Wiki states he has expanded to "45 hectares of forest gardens." 45 hectares is 112.5 acres.

And this:
"The Krameterhof is less an operational enterprise in terms of crop-yield, although it does provide numerous produce for the community, but rather a fully functional showcase or research station for permaculture (both in regards to it's size)."
He used heavy equipment to create terraces undoubtedly powered by fossil fuel.

These methods do not and never will feed 7 billion people.

Don't assert, provide evidence. It's interesting you completely ignore that he has expanded the range of farms far up mountainsides where it would never have been done before. Expanding where we can grow food doesn't add to total yield? Be serious, and stop tossing assertions and straw men about. I hate sweeping up after messy guests.

Heavy equipment, yes, but could also have been done with physical labor. One difference in what Sepp and others do is to use technology to create systems that no longer need it. This increases the efficiency of the use by amortizing it over decades. Typical agriculture does the opposite; it creates systems dependent on it.

You've not offered a single shred of useful critique. I've MUCH more evidence for you.

It's interesting you completely ignore that he has expanded the range of farms far up mountainsides where it would never have been done before.

If you go to the Andes or the Himalayas (which I have) you will see a lot of this kind of terraced mountainside farming. Unfortunately, in many places, like Nepal, they are deforesting the countryside and destroying the natural environment in the process. They've cut down half the country's forests in the last 20 years. Nepal is approaching a massive ecological disaster in a country that was described 20 years ago as a "magical place".

The problem is that this kind of terraced mountainside farming is a lot of back-breaking labor for not much production, and involves re-contouring the landscape on a massive scale. I suspect that Holzer used bulldozers, since he didn't have thousands of unpaid workers like the Incas had, and he inherited a lot of money because he can't be making any money doing this kind of thing.

The crops he is growing in the video don't look like anything you could sell for much of a profit. Potatoes are something you can grow almost anywhere - the main reason the Inca grew them was because they couldn't grow much else in the Andes.

Personally I would just leave the mountains covered with pine and spruce trees, and make money off the tourists who come to look at them. There is a lot of flat land on the planet that is more suitable for growing crops, and much of it is underutilized.


Good points. As are Paulo's above.

As many here know from the 2 articles I posted here and my other comments, I am farming organically on an 11 acre property with 4 acres of crops. I started very small using intensive techniques such as found in the work of John Jevons and others. I have a solid understanding of what it takes to grow significant amounts of food. While permaculture is an excellent subsistence methodology for growing food it simply cannot be extrapolated to feed 7 billion people for a variety of reasons. I suspect in the future there will be a requirement for large numbers of people to utilize such techniques to grow food. That time will come after we have adapted (I mean this in both the good and bad ways) to peak oil and climate change.

Just a few of the reasons that permaculture cannot feed 7 billion. Since those techniques cannot produce a large excess of nutrients beyond those consumed by the farmer and family they require that a very high percentage of the total population be farmers. Given the numbers, distribution and professions of the current population it is easy to see that this is a problem. Arable land is another issue. Most of the worlds population does not live where there is suitable land for them to farm. So we have to move them, build infrastructure for them to live in, etc. The quantity of arable land is insufficient in most regions even if we were capable of moving everyone. And there is certainly not enough land to go around. Not all land is suitable for agriculture of any kind and much of it is only suitable for livestock. For the land that is suitable for growing crops there are issues of water, soil quality, sufficient composts/manures, etc. Who owns the land is an issue. Then there is shipping. We still have to move food around to get it to the people who will be working professions other than farming. This takes resources as well. Farmers need to be able to make a living. Now it is true that in the future we may all be living at the subsistence level and income will not be as important as now. But right now almost all farmers have to make income in addition to what they grow for their own consumption. If you are gardening and have an outside job from farming that works. But if you are a farmer who is trying to make a living from the land only, you must grow enough for sale to make a living wage. Permaculture techniques just cannot produce the quantity of produce to generate funds to pay electricity bills, property taxes, and the other costs of life in the current system.

Industrial agriculture techniques, whether used for organic or "conventional" farming, will remain the primary producer of the worlds food until we are overwhelmed by AGW and Peak Oil. Towards the end when things get really tight I expect that fossil fuels will be prioritized towards food production and distribution as well as security. Hopefully towards serious mitigation of AGW as well. The number of folks growing their own food will rise dramatically and the practice of permaculture will grow as well. But until we have a drastically smaller population (however that happens) we will be forced to utilize some version of the current methodology.


Since those techniques cannot produce a large excess of nutrients beyond those consumed by the farmer and family

You weren't able to produce significantly more than you need to eat? I'm surprised. But, then, I don't think Jeavons emphasizes perennial crops, which is the lynch pin of it all. If you are not including significant tree crops and perennial plants, and are relying mostly on annuals, you would largely be correct. But that isn't what I'm talking about. It's all in the perennials. That is how one person can manage a fair amount of acreage.

they require that a very high percentage of the total population be farmers.

Now you're getting somewhere. We cannot assume just layering a few cool techniques over what exists now. We are, due to PO and CC, looking at wholesale changes. Let's stop complaining about how hared it will be and accept that the world ahead will be drastically different, and that small-scale, local agriculture will be the norm. Keep that in mind when reading my comments.

There are long-term studies proving yields, on large acreage, can be equal to and better than what is done now.

Anyone here tried a perennial polyculture approach? No? Then please keep an open mind. Not doing so is effectively saying we are all screwed. I say, only if you wish it to be so.

Food, PO and CC are all addressed by organic, natural perennial polycultures. There is no other solution less a major technofix.

Food, PO and CC are all addressed by organic, natural perennial polycultures. There is no other solution less a major technofix.

Sounds like NPP is a major techno fix. Theoretically possible, not very likely.

Let's stop complaining about how [hard] it will be and accept that the world ahead will be drastically different, and that small-scale, local agriculture will be the norm.

And this is why I say it's not very likely. You've got to convince a critical mass of people that Star Trek isn't their future and they should come be a surf on your farm instead.

I wish you the best of luck. If I could afford it, I'd be working towards the same goals. I think you're getting so much opposition because you're saying NPP is the fix, and that just ain't so. It might work if you could get everyone on board. The problem is that most people aren't going to accept your view of the future, regardless of how practical or realistic it might be.

Sounds like NPP is a major techno fix. Theoretically possible, not very likely.

Failure to compute. What?

Let's differentiate between politics and methods for clarity, OK?

Can we use perennial polycultures/organic/permaculture to feed 7 billion? Absolutely. Will we? All bets are off, but do keep in mind there is a feedback loop here: sustainable systems by definition are solutions to our ills, which makes it easier to transition, which makes it easier to grow food, which solves social issues, which...

Yair...I have posted this before. This system addresses some problems.It can run direct from PV panels and will fit in with any type of culture. http://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/showthread.php?18156-New-electricaly...

We are developing a smaller version designed to plant through lawns and pasture. It is a high precision system and can under cut the grass roots and leaving it in place in suspended growth mode, a living mulch in fact.

Should have something to show you by years end if you are interested.

I've heard that "an assumption is the lowest form of knowledge."

Our vet told us that. I agree that an incredible amount of food
can be grown w/o FF...but it does take practice and it is
greatly helpful to be able to learn from the mistakes of others
....since you will not have time to make all of them yourself. :)

Edit: I found the book "Forty Centuries of Farming" extremely

A review:

A wonderful book, despite its having been originally written more than 100 years ago. Fresh and sobering look at what it takes to make a civilized society run on a daily basis without modern technology, from food production to how to make cotton mattresses by hand, to manufacturing coal based blocks for home heating and cooking - in a backyard; and how to build a k'ang, a raised heated platform used for sitting and sleeping.
'Farmers' also gives an idea of the human cost and effort needed to keep land fertile and productive, conserve scarce resources, and the ingenuity required daily to have a reasonably comfortable, sustainable lifestyle over many hundreds of generations - a workable world one can confidently pass on to one's descendents, something we DON'T have, for all our vaunted "quality of life" in the US.

Updating those methods with perennials, tree crops, heavy mulching, no tilling are what move you from backbreaking work to a livable lifestyle. You need not spend any time tilling, not much time planting (perennials), and very little time weeding.

How does that change things? Pretty dramatically. An established natural/permaculture garden needs very little attention.

Eric Toensmeier: http://pri-de.net/board/permaculture.php

Agriculture could be much better than in its current form, yes. I understand ff's won't vanish as well. What I am getting at is that it could very well have some existential implications during that adaptation period from high energy per person to lower. Famine in food importing countries is where this problem could crop up, imho.

I understand the implications of your comments. You'd be amazed how quickly you can get food out of supposedly poor soil and how easy to shift to this form of ag. Some pretty extensive, but simple, adaptations needed. As with everything, timing is important. But nobody will starve because we can't, they will starve because we won't. A sobering distinction.

pri-de, the only nation unwilling or incapable to adapt is the USA because the American Dream is non negotiable. For example, it pisses me off reading in so many US news papers that people will suffer when the gasoline price approaches 4$/g. Have pity on them because they have to cut down on junk food in order to run their SUVs. Conveniently, those news papers neglect to say that in all European countries gasoline approaches 8$/g but nevertheless their life style is better and healthier.

You can argue that AGW is the greater peril, but in reality does that point even matter? The threat for which attempts of a remedy will occur will be the threat that presents obvious, undeniable impacts first. And that will likely be Peak Oil.

When people find the lifestyles to which they've become accustomed are threatened by peak oil, they aren't going to say that's a good thing because it will help mitigate the future AGW impacts that are yet to come. No, they are going to demand that whatever can be done to maintain as much of their old lifestyle as possible is done.

At least in America. Maybe the rest of the world is more enlightened for all I know. But I think you'll be hard pressed to claim the U.S. will willingly support a change to a lifestyle of 150-300 years ago, regardless of whether it is the correct course of action of not.

You can argue that AGW is the greater peril, but in reality does that point even matter?

You are repeating the original idea, basically, which I've already answered. You are offering a nuance that has no substance. Most of the solutions that are useful apply to both. If people can be motivated to act, it's not much of a shift to act on both.

Also, if you think AGW is in the future you must not have read a newspaper, listened to a radio, used the internet over the last 12 months. Both are occurring now. AGW is impacting lives, economies, and food supply already. Looking North, I fear a near-melt out this year or next (virtually no 2M+ Arctic Sea Ice right now http://tinyurl.com/6ajzhzc ), and some crazy stuff is going to be going down if so.

Also, if you think AGW is in the future you must not have read a newspaper, listened to a radio, used the internet over the last 12 months.

Which is why I used the term "undeniable". You and I may believe AGW is already having impacts, but it's opponents have successfully framed the discussion as merely one of political opinion. A good Democrat believes in AGW, but a good Republican does not, since it's just Al Gore's scam to them. A hoax perpetrated by scientists so they can get funding. (Please excuse the America centered argument. As I said, other nations may be more enlightened.)

Joe Six-pack may or may not think that the flooding that happened in his county had anything to do with global warming. But he'll darn well know how much it's costing him to fill his pickup truck, and that will be a greater concern than something that is a debatable problem with no surefire solution in his eyes.

I'm not saying you are wrong. I'm just saying it doesn't matter whether you are wrong or right because science isn't going to be what drives the route we take. Public opinion will be, and their main concern is almost certain to be oil prices (whether or not they admit the prices are due to peak oil), not AGW.

I wasn't arguing the politics, just the logic. The politics are obvious enough.

les - yep...difficult to come up with a future vision for anyone that's comforting. I suppose "immediate problem" is dependent upon the individual: a S Pacific island family with no capabilty to relocate has a problem eventually; a person with a long work commute in a low mpg SUV has a closer worry; a grunt sitting in the dark on ambush in the middle of Afgan desert has an "immediate problem". IMHO, of course

Hard to quantify, but the spate of weather events this year, the food shortages popping up globally consistently for a couple years now, the current food shortage-tinged events in the Middle East/N. Africa and the arable land land rush of recent years the 40% fall in plankton, and even larger falls in some fish stocks all have me thinking the Liebig's is going to be food.

I'd thought it would be energy until very recently.

Actually the Dinosaurs did not see more than 1000 ppmv of CO2 near the end of their era 65 million years ago:


There is a reason why warm blooded mammals were tiny around that time. They could not survive the heat. Being smaller allowed a greater surface to volume ratio.

We are on track to have over 700 ppmv of CO2 by 2100 from fossil fuel burning alone. This is without any permafrost or Siberian shelf CH4 release. With the latter, even as it gets converted to CO2, we are set to exceed 1000 ppmv of CO2 most likely by 2100. The IPCC CH4 scenarios simply don't include these cryosphere sources. It is highly doubtful the east Siberian sea shelf CH4 will stay locked up by 2100.

So 4 Celsius warming by 2100 is highly optimistic. With all the CH4 release we will see 6 C conditions. We are reproducing the Eocene thermal maximum when global mean temperatures increased by 6 C over 20,000 years with CO2 levels increasing to over 1100 ppmv. But we are doing it about 100 times faster.

Market protocols will do little to convert our energy infrastructure to something stable and sustainable. Take money out of the equation we might have a chance. But, you are correct, it would take a concerted and cooperative effort. Besides the fact that it is completely asinine to try and continue an economic system predicated on endless material growth. But financial logic is running the show, so that is the biggest obstacle. Our decision making systems(economic and political) run on faulty logic.

From an article on HuffPo titled Oil Prices Squeeze Small Businesses As Transportation Costs Rise

"The middle east thing was something that -- I don't think anybody saw that coming," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. "It's a big, big threat to growth."

Dunno - what have economists been doing since the 1970's ?

Edit : more to the point, what have they been doing since 2008 ?

I found this to be insightful:

Cardboard box points to a faster way than GDP to measure US economy


I live in a densely populated urban environment and I have noticed that the utilization rate of parking lots during the work week is a rough indicator of economic health. In a good economy the lots are completely full and during downturns, especially as severe as the last one, they can be half empty. Lately they've been full (except when it snows!).

The last page of the article consists of this single sentence:

The US economy remains exposed to any strong external shock, such as a sustained rise in oil prices or a significant weakening of the dollar.



The less scarier earlier sentence:

A double-dip recession does not seem to be in the offing.

There is a tendency to view even the last (current) recession as a cyclical event akin to an El Niño. Just keep looking behind to predict what the future holds. But if the possibility of a double dip is there for a "normal" recession, what happens when you add the "external shock"?

"The middle east thing was something that -- I don't think anybody saw that coming," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. "It's a big, big threat to growth."

Dictators that we backed eventually get thrown out? Who would have ever guessed that would happen?!?!

Viet Nam
South Africa

OK, never mind.

CNN just ran a piece that was pretty harsh on the US government, Democratic and Republican both. We got in bed with Libya - for the oil, of course.

Now they're talking about what might happen if the unrest spreads to Saudi Arabia.

This is bringing energy issues to the forefront. But I have a feeling it means many people will blame political rather than geological restrictions for oil supply problems.

Maybe the less said by Obama the better. The more he says about how horrible Qadafi is, the more hypocritical he will be shown to be. Just like the Bush administration would have been shown to be. Supporting murderous and tyrannical dictators was fine as long as the oil flowed and as long as very few people were paying attention. Now there is nowhere to hide. But that is what happens when you have a pact with the devil and will continue to happen as long as we refuse to do anything to get off mideast oil --- unless the whole region is overthrown.

Actually, I thought the piece was pretty lame as Wolf just said the administration is probably embarrassed.

At the end of the piece, there was the implication that this means we need to crank up the drilling in the gulf. What could go wrong?

Yes, we are between the devil and the deep blue sea almost literally.

As a side note, isn't it a bit ironic that we have spent hundreds and billions of dollars to keep the oil flowing and yet it appears that the military is of very little use at the end of the day. No one will notice that, of course.

As a military man I laugh when people dismiss our military. When TSHTF and political correctness no longer controls the generals, when the public is screaming that we go get the oil in the desert that" belongs to us" you will see what a military like the US has can do.
They will go back from being a "no collateral damage" organization, to one where they kill people and break things until the will to resist is gone, like warfare was done for thousands of years.
Mark my words, when it gets bad enough here in the good old US of A the military will be unleashed. Do not confuse political restraint with actual capability. Big mistake!


The people who are convinced wars can't be won anymore are drinking their own propaganda koolaid-I have popsted many comments to much the same effect in the past, but have stayed away from the subject recently.

It won't just be us , either;pretty soon any country able to mobilize and move out will be contemplating getting rid of the padded gloves .

Most of Western Europe, not to mention Japan, has been able to sit back and criticize the US for the last half century for being warlike while sheltering under our military umbrella-after we saved thier butts from the last real bad guys,in the case of Euirope, and from themselves, in the case of Japan.

Of course in the case of Japan, we sorta had to destroy the place first in order to save it second.;)

Yes, we saw how well that worked in Vietnam & now in Iraq, Afghanistan.

Exactly my point dunewalker. In all of those cases the military operated under significant constraint, or had you forgotten that the enemy actually had sanctuary in all three cases. Just go over the border and we are not allowed to follow. Tactical stupidity.

Sure, like all the constraints they showed in Fallujah or abu ghraib... There is very little justice in any war, with or without what you perceive as constraints. The scary thing to me is what happens when we need those troops to quite riots in LA or San Francisco, will they show any constraint then?

I wonder if an unconstrained Field Marshal Bender-The-Robot could make 'pilage-the-villiage' into a viable business plan. Would not giving a rats ass about those pesky humans let war pay for itself like 'Old Skool' Roman times?

Sounds like a great plan! Nothing like good old fashion iron age genocide. Maybe we can round up Arabs and put them in camps here in the states as well. All to keep our debt pyramid scheme going to buy plastic crap from China. Talk about a junky mentality on a mass scale.

Arraya, You will notice there is nothing in my posts that deal with the morality or appropriateness of these issues. As the posters higher up alluded to, there is a difference between optimism and realism. Joe six pack voter will ask for the oil and won't care what has to be done to get it. Whether you or I like it or not.

Agreed treeman.

The majority of people in the US have no idea what is happening and have not even started to feel real pain. When the real pain starts they will not be any more reasonable and thoughtful. Right now they can go home and fill their bellies and pick their teeth and watch themselves protest on the TV news. The are protesting just like their mommies and daddies did in the 60s!!! I wonder how they will protest when their bellies are empty and they are unemployed and the food stamps can't stretch the full month and the heating aid runs out...

Our military was on a leash for the past 60 years of peace. Now that global industrial growth is over the leash will get longer or come off all together.

We the People are too distracted fighting each other over symptoms to see the causes, we will not be able to tell the difference between false flags and unintended consequences and won't care when we start to experience true desperation.

Ethical and moral codes are more like "guide lines" to hungry and desperate people.

edit: funny news today.

Lieberman: Report on Army mind tricks `weird'

AP IMPACT: Ugly US medical experiments uncovered

re. the second article - I thought all those "old skeletons" were already out of the closet?

The military is a big waste of resources and unleashing will only make matters worse for the majority. Actually, it would probably hasten the collapse of the monetary-market system and bring much more misery to the majority. People thinking that setting the world on fire will bring anything of value to the world will be sorely mistaken.

I agree arraya.

Like Treeman said, this is not a suggestion or recommendation, just an opinion of how things are likely to go as the industrial pigstye falls apart.

How, exactly, will the U.S. pay for its full-throttle, 'off-the-leash' 21st century Global shock troops and their equipment and their World-wide logistical tail?

We now require FAR more energy per troop to keep deployed than was the case in WWII.

Break break: The State employees' protests (peaceful) will be nothing compared to the anger that would be manifest when a significant number of federal civil servant are fired and the rest have their pay and benefits slashed...and I am referring to the self-righteous DoD and DOE General Schedule (GS) civil servants.

Hope Senator Lieberman is enjoying his last term in the Senate. Good riddance to him.

As for the second article, I wonder how the quality of medical care will be without any regulatory oversight and with malpractice lawsuits banned?

"How will the US pay for this" - I don't know, maybe a tax on video games and a 50:50 split of the pillaged resources or something (ask Daddylonglegs).

Again, this is not what I want. It is what I think we are likely to get because we did nothing towards mitigating this disaster, and instead did, and continue to do everything we can to buy time and push the problems onto some other peoples (foreign or future domestic).

I think aliens are messing with Lieberman. And the quality of medical care will likely decline with collapse.

When the real pain starts they will not be any more reasonable and thoughtful. Right now they can go home and fill their bellies and pick their teeth and watch themselves protest on the TV news. The are protesting just like their mommies and daddies did in the 60s!!! I wonder how they will protest when their bellies are empty and they are unemployed and the food stamps can't stretch the full month and the heating aid runs out...

Well, that's just what happened in Egypt. And what happened in the US during the Great Depression. In both cases the army did not try to rack up megaddeaths.

I'm worried more about possible "national emergencies" that "require" the US to use force overseas at levels we previously would not have ever considered. Or that some other desperate country might do so and the US be responds with overwhelming force...

This is the end of global growth economies. Stagnation at best, contraction more likely. A better comparison would maybe be the stresses experienced duriing the American Civil War. Please remember the US attorney general said his biggest concern is homegrown terrorism - keeps him awake at night. And the pentagon is war gaming civil unrest at home as well as abroad.

But maybe it turns out more like Dmitry Orlov suggests (and like others here implied upstream and down): the financial system breaks down and we start bringing troops home post-haste and hopefully do not leave any stranded around the world.

Train the troops to run teams of draft horses instead of tanks etc. ; )

how will these wars of conquest be paid for?

how will these wars of conquest be paid for?

And from further upthread:

Joe six pack voter will ask for the oil and won't care what has to be done to get it.

While the monetary cost will no doubt be a problem, the real problem will be the balance due in blood. Ever since Vietnam we have managed with an all volunteer military. There is a somewhat limited pool of people who are willing to volunteer. I know from personal experience, since I was one back in the day.

Our military is spread rather thin right now, and the wars we are fighting aren't exactly going well. To do the kind of world conquest...take all the damn oil...scenario some are talking about is going to take vastly more troops than you are going to recruit with NASCAR and Superbowl advertisting. Joe Sixpack voter may demand gas for his SUV, powerboat, snowmobile, motorhome etc. But as soon as enough Joe Jr's get drafted, and then comes home from some Third World sh__hole in a box, Joe Sixpack might decide his lifestyle is somewhat negotiable after all.

Excellent point about the All-Volunteer Force vs a draft.

I think a draft would go over like a lead balloon.

And we should not expect the DoD to keep providing the very nice (and increasing) pay and benefits that the military folks have come to expect over the last decade or so. Once your Uncle Sam can compel you to show up there is much less need to entice you with sweet pay and benefits. There is already talk of seriously diminishing benefits such as retirement pay and retirement medical benefits...there is recurring talk (in respected military journals) of ditching the 'Do 20 years and get half you base pay for life' to going with some kind of defined contribution 401-K (Thrift Savings Plan in the DoD) and/or deferred defined benefits only starting at age 60 or so.

Another relevant point: The Drill/Training Instructors are going to have some fun with folks compelled to show up. Now plenty of folks will say that the Boot Camps will break the recalcitrant soft civilians down and build them back up...but, the difference between volunteers and draftees will be painfully apparent in the technical schools and in the operational units post-basic training.

And wait till they see how much time and money they waste screening folks out who are too fat, out-of-shape, or have various medical conditions, or do drugs and/or have various criminal records.

Of course the alternative is to lower standards...we don't want to go there...things aren't a peachy keen bowel of cherries as it is right now.

I can't see how the military can keep draftees from getting expelled if the draftees simply fail the PT exams (including weight and waist measurements)...unlike doing drugs, I don't think the UCMJ can criminalize being overweight or not being able to do the requisite number of sit-ups, push-ups, run the proper speed for the required distance and so forth.

A draft would be an ever-loving mess.

Attention all arm-chair generalissimos: Ain't going to go the way you think!

a - All true and more good reasons to prevent war if it's possible. As I'm sure treeman can point out there's a lot more than enemy casualties at the end of the day. Someone asked me once why I was certain there was no God...at least a not merciful one. Easy proof: children in a war zone. It's good that we have cherished memories of the "greatest generation" that saved us during WWII. But it's also good to remember that Allied forces killed over 30,000 French civilians during the first couple of months after the Normandy invasion. And we knew we were doing it: had to destroy the towns where the Germans were stationed...the towns were still occupied by many French. The solution was simple...painful but simple.

Treeman could probably express it better but: no sane person doesn't do everything possibile to prevent war. And no sane person doesn't fight to win if war can't be avoided. Just the rambling thoughts of a rock licker who doesn't care to see anymore shiny boxes offloaded at Dover. A wish that, so sadly, has no chance of being granted IMHO.

When TSHTF and political correctness no longer controls the generals, when the public is screaming that we go get the oil in the desert that" belongs to us" you will see what a military like the US has can do.

But would that ever really happen? We had to gin up all sorts of "Saddamn is an evil dictator, he has WMDs, he is Hitler, we are liberating Iraq, etc." propaganda to invade Iraq . . . and even with all that, it is generally viewed as a big mistake.

I don't think we can become as morally corrupt as "Go kill people just so we can steal oil." I'm sure a good section of our population wouldn't mind but not a majority.

And even if you wanted to do that, I'm not so sure you can. If Iraq was being run by Viceroy Rumsfeld right now and he was pumping out oil without paying, I think pipelines would be bombed every single day. I don't think using a military to steal oil is a viable economic strategy. The only way you could do it would probably require genocide and I think even the war-mongers here won't accept that.

I'm glad you feel that way and I hope you are correct and we would not react that way. Unfortunately previous contemporary decisions were all made with the vast majority of US citizens in absolute comfort. My definition of TSHTF is that there will be significant discomfort among most of the population. As one of my favorite sayings goes, when it is your ox that is being gored your attitude changes. So does your relative morality.
Do you really think we are ruining the planet because the vast majority of the worlds population is inherently moral? Countries which do not have the potential for the same level of fall might not react that way, but in the US with it's "entitled" millions, Hang on baby.

spec - I'd give my life if it would make your thoughts come true. As I've said a number of times I'm not into predictions...just what if's. I'll ask a simple question: do you think German civilians during the 1930's were much less moral and god-fearing than the American public today? Do you think our fellow citizens have the strength of character to endure such difficult times as our forefathers did?

So here's your big what-if: IF our fellow citizens were subjected to the same harsh economic realities as the 1930's German civilians were WHAT do you think their attitude would be towards anyone denying us access to the necessities of life? Again, I'm not asking for a prediction of what Americans will support during the next 25 years or so in an effort to maintain BAU. But just what if?

Well I do think things are bit different today due to mass media & the Internet. It was much easier for a 1930's German to go into denial about the situation and get wrapped up in patriotism. And that does still happen now but I think it would be harder now. It has taken thousands of years but we have slowly become more of a moral society that does not accept war as easily as we once did.

But to my other point . . . I just don't think war will be a profitable strategy. You just can't guard thousands of miles of pipeline. You either need the consent of the locals or genocide. As long as they are willing to sell oil, I don't think we'll invade just because it is expensive. But if someone were to cut off sales, I could see that causing the tanks to roll.

At some point, it is just cheaper to do expensive alternatives. Instead of spending money on an expensive war, just give massive tax-credits for EVs, solar panels, biofuels, etc. On an optimistic note . . . we are kinda doing that right now.

Agreed. It didn't exactly work out well for the Germans, did it?

Iraq and Afghanistan have done a pretty good job of making the average American skittish of more military involvement. I don't think there's any stomach to get further involved. The reaction on both the left and the right seems to be more toward "Let's get out of there." (Not that that's going to work, either.)

As for sales being cut off...I think the US is in a pretty good position, because we're still the world's largest grain exporter. The oil-exporting nations of the Middle East are dependent on imported food. Saudi Arabia has given up on even pretending to try for food sufficiency. We have something they need, so even if the dollar becomes toilet paper, I think we'll still get oil. They can't expect us to grow grain for them without petroleum.

IMO, this is the major difference from the '70s. Food prices and food security have become a far more critical issue.

Spec – Valid points…both good and bad. IOW some supporting your position…some not so much IMHO. The Germans had a MSM that eventually supported the Nazi movement…or else. Remember we’re speculating about a horrible time of great suffering…just as the Germans had to deal with. Actually, maybe worse. Consider that in comparison the U.S. today isn’t suffering at all relatively. And still a great many of our political leaders (both local and national, both liberal and conservative) are more than ready to prostitute themselves in order to get elected. Again, we’re talking about a hypothetical time far worse than our current citizens can imagine let alone have ever experienced. And a political leadership that may have little ability to take care of themselves and their families other than holding office. An obvious example: look at the rhetoric generated on both sides over the current battle between unions and some conservative governors. Not to minimize the realities of that debate but compare those circumstances to the same folks (on both sides) listening to their children crying due to lack of food. Nothing like a common enemy (real or perceived) to unite folks spread across the political spectrum, eh?

Granted I’m setting up a scenario that doesn’t come close to existing today. And maybe never will. But again this chat isn’t about predicting the future but a “what if?” proposition. A far as war not being profitable that’s one of those subjective debates I tend to avoid. But I think some would look at history for the last few centuries and suggest that war can be very profitable…for the winners. No…WWII didn’t end well for the Germans. But in the process the U.S. transformed from a small economy to, in the opinion of some, the great economy ever seen…at least to now. How well any society judges an outcome will depend on their calculus: how much are the lives of our military worth in bbls of oil? What’s the acceptable ratio of our children suffering to the children of those who are preventing our conducting BAU? Maybe 1:1 if you’re the most moral person in the country. And if you’re not: 1:5…1:20…1:1000? Again, no way to predict the future but rather a measure of how one sees the general morality of our population. It’s easy to sit here when very few, if any, of our fellow TODsters are truly suffering (correct me if anyone here is unemployed, homeless and with children going to bed hungry every night). Sorta falls into the category of there being no atheists in a foxholes IMHO.

This is a purely subjective debate IMHO. It says more about how each of us sees (or wants to see) our society than what the future actually delivers IMHO. We’re all biased by our life experiences. In another lifetime I observed what desperate people will accept during very hash times. Maybe those around me at that time evolved from a different gene pool than what we have today. But maybe not.

BTW pipelines are not that difficult to protect: just kill anyone who MIGHT damage them. As I've highlighted before I've seen that approach effectively used in Equatorial Guinea. And when was the last time you read any editorial blasting that methodology there. As I've pointed out before, even the most moral and kind folks on the planet (the EU) don't have a problem with the situation in EG as long as the oil and LNG keeps flowing to them. Again, maybe Americans evolved from a different gene pool than Europeans. Yeah, that's it, yeah.

Dang...this has gotten way too dark. Need to grab a cup of hot coffee with chicory and sit back with Sunday Morning. Hope Mo is on this morning...he always makes me smile. Life is good...at the moment.

I think civility is a thin veneer, and much of what we choose to champion today -- Geneva Conventions, Kyoto Protocols, PETA restrictions on horse slaughter -- will quickly peel away, as we are forced to address needs a layer or two down on Maslow's Hierarchy.

When your child is lethargic in your arms from hunger, and your wife's eyes plead and question you to help, what would you do? Would you really care if their salvation required a handful of strangers on the other side of the world to meet a bloody end?

Already, many around the world starve for lack of grains while we eat beef in nice restaurants and drive flex-fuel trucks. What difference does it make if there is a multi-national corp and a dictator or two as intermediaries, versus a few US boys with guns? The end result is much the same, only what we have now has more plausible deniability.

This article caught my attention yesterday, along with the YouTube video (episode of the Twilight Zone):-

The Monsters are due on Maple Street


As a military man I laugh when people dismiss our military. When TSHTF and political correctness no longer controls the generals, when the public is screaming that we go get the oil in the desert that" belongs to us" you will see what a military like the US has can do.

"Not now - then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!" -- Higgins, "Three Days of the Condor", 1975


There are diminishing returns on complexity as the U.S. is finding out.

It is quite simply impossible for the U.S. to occupy every single region in the world where there may be oil pickings. Thus our reliance on the soft power dollar. Even that has limitations, as the current events in the M.E. show.

Where I agree (or perhaps disagree) is this: the military complex will probably retain its power for a long time, but it will increasingly be used on the American populace itself.

Not in the sense of killing, but in the sense of keeping order.

Well, I am a 'military man' too.

I read the 'beast unleashed' (U.S. military) bravado stuff above and shake my head.

...If only we would have invaded Russia after WWII and crushed them under our heels

...If only we had listened to Big Mac and dropped a string pf atom bombs starting at the Yalu River and through the population centers of red China

...If only we had invaded burned to the ground, and pacified Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, and sunk a couple of Ruskie ships along the way

I suppose we could make up for our past ridiculous timidness and 'unleash' the US military and invade and crush every country with Islamic/Muslim folks and beat them all down into the stone ages as well. Let's add VZ and Bolivia and anywhere else where resources are being kept from flowing to their rightful owners. Let's also finally kick the Chinese and Russians in the teeth and make them our vassals as well.

As one who has flown around the Earth in my Dr. Strangelove war machine, I can assure you all that most people do not have a clue about how vast the Earth is, and how many people there are, and how much weaponry is spread amongst these folks. And there are other powerful nations out there (Russia, China, etc) who could resource the folks we would contest and cause us no end of grief.

We would find out in short order how easy is is to stretch our forces to the breaking point if we attempted only several major war actions at once. Equipment has a nasty habit of wearing out, the OPFOR has a nasty habit of improvising IEDs and ambushes and snipers and not wearing uniforms etc and generally being innovative and not acting according to our plans, if we have any plans at all to begin with.

Recall the last time we engaged in a global war...WWII...and do some research on the level-of-effort in numbers of ships, tanks, rifles, arty, beans and bullets and uniforms and planes and people. Recall the draft and factories converted from making cars to war machines etc. And if you are going to go on about how our current weapons are so much more effective than their WWII counterparts, I will refer you back to researching just how big the World is, and that quality by itself is not good enough...quantity has a quality of its own. We could not pull off a WWII-style and scale full-war-economy mobilization effort any more. For one thing, don't expect all the folks getting draft notices to report to the military in-processing centers like cattle going to the slaughter house. Don't expect folks to do rationing and Victory Gardens either. The home front would go up in flames.

Also...I am sure that if the U.S. tried to go 'Grozny' om a whole bunch of population centers around the World we would get ours in return...blow-back in the form of chemical and biological and radiological weapon attacks, not only in the field but in the U.S. proper. Make enough lifelong red-hot enemies and we would get some blinding white flashed in a number of U.S. cites after a fashion. Did I mention Cyber-warfare? EMP?

Let me also mention the probability that if we pissed off enough folks would be cut off from oil and strategic minerals.

We could always use the $h!t-ton of nukes we have to flatten lots and lots and lots of 'enemy' population centers, as long as we don't mind making Hitler and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pol and Idi Amin et al all recede to be forgotten footnotes in history compared to the monsters we would be regarded as. And we would definitely get our punishment the end...might take many years, but folks with a seething hatred and long memories would visit their hot retribution upon us in their own good time.

How about we shelve these fantasies and devote at least part of the resources required take over the World to restructure our society to live within our means at a lower, slower, more sustainable level?

Oh, right, that would take too many resources and be too disruptive to our 'economy'...much better to go on a Global All-Out War Domination Crusade for the next 30 years and exhaust our and the World's resources tearing each other apart.

I like Gail's pleas for us to chill out and enjoy our families and community and to get our house in order internally.


As a USMC Vietnam vet I totally agree with you. "Shock and Awe" always sounds good to guys like Treeman...until the other guys decide not to fight our kind of war. The North Vietnamese figured out early on that all they had to do was hang on and keep sending Americans home in boxes. They knew we would get tired of it long before they did.


Your logic is spot-on, confirming what I have learned over my mil career...Marines are by-and-large squared away.

Let me add this in an attempt to defuse any mis-understandings and hurt feelings from other folks who read my post:

No doubt the U.S. military is well-trained and equipped and by and large is staffed, by and large, with good citizens who are patriotic, smart, courageous, and able to think on their feet.

And of course the U.S. military has performed notable and noble feats in both the the military and humanitarian support areas, and military men and women have sacrificed greatly, including fulfilling their 'unlimited liability' obligation in the course of following the orders of their military leaders, who follow the orders of their duly-elected civilian leaders.

However, we must stop well short of going into the deep end and blindly worshiping our military as one would a God, and exempting it from any scrutiny and oversight, and further, we need not make unreasonable claims on the military to solve all of our (and the World's) problems.

That way leads to disappointment, defeat, moral and resource bankruptcy, and the collapse of our society.

The military had, has, and will have its place and its appropriate roles, missions, and duties. Although I advocate cutting our military budget, I in no way, shape, or form advocate doing away with it.

We do need to understand that most of our problems can best be dealt with with plowshares instead of swords, and our focus needs to be transforming our society from one drunk with power and excess from bountiful resources and previous military victories to one structured and tailored to meet its citizens' reduced needs in a sustainable way. In plainer English, we need to pull back from playing global cop and focus the majority of our resources on getting our own house in order.

H - Well said. A very sane attitude on your part (as I pointed out earlier). But, sadly, we're not speculating about sane times are we?


Thank you.

I think the vast majority of posters on TOD are sane and perhaps on average a little smarter (and certainly more situationally-aware) than the average bear.

These times (now and in our future) can be as sane as we make them, I think.

I think the vast number of armchair generals are not going to jump to the front of the line for some amped-up reprise of WWII, and some of them may not want to send their children to be cannon -fodder either.

And the armchair generals are not going to go for 'a government takeover of the economy' for another WWII full-scale mobilization either.

Somehow I think Blackwater et al has shown at least some of the armchair generals that turning more and more of our war fighting over to private corporations is not such a hot idea either.

The sane approach is to turn our energies to restructuring our society to adapt from within to the changing realities of Limits To Growth, and not to lash out in a wrong-headed, immoral, doomed-from-the-start bid to occupy all the resource-containing swaths of the World (and the peoples within) to be our resource-providing slaves. Rome will fall.

The World's seas and airspace and landforms are vast beyond most people's comprehension, and our forces (even as augmented with a mighty mobilization) would be spread as a drop of food coloring in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

And in the end we would be rewarded with trillions of dollars of broken and corroding equipment stranding metals and embedded energy all over the World, and with dead physically and mentally broken people littering the World, when we could have turned that same effort to improving our home front...But minding our internal affairs and situation isn't sexy or glorious I guess.

I think your view point is likely to be correct. Others have said the same with much greater emphasis, such as Andrew Bacevich and Chalmers Johnson. We have "armchair generals" here on TOD as well, such as seen in the comment by ROCKMAN above about protecting pipelines against attack. The trouble with protecting pipelines (and other infrastructure) is quite simple. That is, how many troops would be required and where will they come from? Do you station 1 man every 1/4 half mile along each pipeline 24/7? What about railroads and roads? the US can't even keep people from walking across our border with Mexico, so how do you think we could stop sabotage of our infrastructure if there were a serious internal rebellion? Do we really want to live in a police state? I hope not...

E. Swanson


Thank you for the links.

I do not regard Rockman as an armchair general...when I read his pipeline protection comment I got the sense that he was saddened by 'the ends justify the means' approach.

I agree with you that critical infrastructure protection is no trivial problem.

I agree that living in a police state is not where we want to go; on the other hand, I think we could dedicate more resources to tightly controlling our borders and protecting our internal critical infrastructure nodes, without turning into a police state. We could easily find these resources from dialing back our foreign mis-adventures.

I do honestly think that the more we are out there playing 'best defense if good offense' with more and more drone missile attacks, etc, the more we sow the the seeds of white-hot, long-lasting rage and thus inevitable blow-back.

We need to dial back some of the Patriot Act, and re-instate FISA courts, subpoenas, etc. and start honoring all the parts of our Constitution, not just the parts the reactionaries care about.

Dog - You missed my very dark and somewhat disingenous point: it's easy to protect the p/l: you just kill everyone in a 500 mile radius that isn't wearing your uniform. I said it would be easy...not sane or moral. I'm sure you understand the concept of a clear fire zone. The only question is the extent. Or as was said many years ago on that patch that was popular as it heartless: "Kill them all...let God sort them out". I've known a few who wore that patch and took that philosophy to heart. The real speculation whether times will ever get bad`enough for the majority, and their ELECTED leaders, to embrace it also. It's worked well in the past even in our country: when was the last time you read of native Americans attacking a supply convoy? Herding the locals onto reservations "for the own protection" was rather effective out west 100 years or so ago. I imagine it might work as well in the desert of the ME. Maybe even easier given the terrain.

Adian, we're not speculating about a sane and measured response. Just one where to the majority the end justifies the means.

H – Sometimes our chats on TOD delve so deep into the abstract that we seem to be casing our own tales. Let’s try a little reality with respect to what moral and civilized people can justify in difficult times. Just reminded of this tidbit while surfing past the military channel durig an Academy Awards commercial. In 1944 the British conducted a nighttime firebomb air raid on the port city of Hamburg, Germany. Obviously a city contributing to their war effort. But a city filled with many Germans who weren’t directly contributing. In one night an estimated 40,000 civilians were killed and 500,000 homeless. It was not a military base…it was a city. Obviously in that body count were a lot of children and elderly.

So I’ll use you as a surrogate for all of TOD and ask: was that raid justified in your opinion? And for those who would say it wasn’t would you, British citizen, take up arms against your country to prevent another such attack? If you felt it was a great immoral affront to humanity wouldn’t you? Or would you sit amongst like minded folks and condemn that action out of public view? Or would stand in the middle of your local pub and cry out against this outrage in front of neighbors who had lost children in a German air raid?

There we go…not very abstract, eh?. BTW…lots of children/elderly killed in Iraq/Afgan in the past years. Anyone think those deaths weren’t “justified”? And if you do what actions have you taken (other than lip service) against our govt? Sure…some very emotional rallies. And then most of those folks hope into their ICE’s and cruise on home to watch themselves on a big flat screen. How does that old saying go: For evil to win it takes only for good men to stand by and do nothing. It’s difficult to understand how some folks don’t see at least the potential for our society to go far over to the dark side when life gets really, really difficult. This is really not a terrible time for the majority of Americans and look what we accept if by nothing but our inaction. Could we collectively justify bombing a ME city and kill 40,000 civilians if it moves us towards our goal? The British did in 1944. Are we that different a people then they were?


I judge the ~week-long raids on Hamburg (and the numerous subsequent Hamburg raids until the end of the war) as justified.

Hamburg had a high concentration of war-supporting industries, as well as U-boat pens and shipyards.

The firestorm effect was not intended...but it its effect weighed heavily with the other subsequent destruction of various parts of Germany and helped end the war.

I will come out and say the same about Fat Man and Little Boy, as well as the firebombing of Tokyo. And yes, those effects were intended...as it was known how fanatical the Japanese Military was.

The planned invasions of the Japanese home islands would have caused far more dead and wounded on both sides than the atom bombings and Tokyo firebombings did. Of course the Russian declaration of War on Japan helped seal the deal for the Japanese surrender.

Now then, Let us discuss your juxtaposition of WWII and hypothetical 'unleashing of the U.S. military' in the ME today.

Two countries (plus Italy) ...Germany/Japan, each hell-bent on carving up large parts of the World to subjugate,and kill people to serve their empires...each (Germany/Japan) which had the potential to develop the atom bomb themselves. The Allies were engaged in total war...to stave off what was seen as a true existential threat to the Allies, including the U.S.

Now we compare that situation to what? in the ME today?

Glenn Beck and some other clowns spittling on about some imagined Caliphate?

Why would we bomb a city and kill 40K+ (or 400K+) civilians? To convince them to sell us their oil (vice to China) at a price dictated by us? We would then be the 'evil empire', the megalomaniac evil country bet on World domination...we would be the Nazis.

Terrorists can be dealt with on a selective basis.

Nuclear bomb-making facilities can be neutralized without mass civilian causalities in cities.

I am having a hard time making the jump with you from Hamburg etc in WWII to us going 'Grozny' on one or several or many ME cities.

Oh, and I thought the Iraq war was a giant mistake from the git-go.

U.S. officers take an oath to defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to obey the lawful orders of those appointed to lead them, which, in the U.S., ultimately and quite clearly are given from the Commander-in-Chief (The President).

Very very very few of them determined that our orders were unlawful.

At least some thought they were wrong-headed...wrong...stupid...but not unlawful.

You do not want your military to be as those in banana republics...enacting coups anytime they don't agree with their civilian masters' orders.

The other 99%+ of U.S. citizens who were not active-duty (or Guard/Reserve) military could have done their part to question authority more stridently.

Combat aviators were trained to refuse orders to bomb hospitals, schools, mosques, orphanages, etc.

The LOAC (law of Armed Conflict...Geneva Conventions and such) were drilled into flyers' heads several times per year during peacetime and before every mission during wartime. Judge-advocate Generals (JAGs) were present and engaged in all targeting staffs.

To add another point...the torturing of prisoners by the U.S. was and is and always will be a stain on our country. If I was a prison guard/interrogator given orders to water-board etc, I would have refused them as unlawful.

Make War_No More.

I don't disagree, but to paraphrase ROCK up above, there.. 'it's complicated'. It shouldn't be, but clearly it is, right? The right/wrong isn't hard to declare or describe, but the details quickly get muddy,..

The fact that we're back into a couple horrific encounters now, and haven't gotten disentangled in the last two years is sad and infuriating, but let's look at it and try to understand the wall we're butting our heads against, instead of just butting harder. That's what those wars are trying to do after all, aren't they, and they're not exactly succeeding either, right? You've heard me use that McDonough line a few times about the 'motto of the industrial revolution' ..> "If brute force doesn't work, you need to use more of it."

If we are going to insist on or try to create and usher in a paradigm change, then maybe repeatedly just 'Declaring War on War' is ultimately not a very durable solution. It might seem for a moment, in Tahrir square or Seattle, as if we have just 'Crushed the Enemy, and He is gone..', but as Gandhi said, 'Fight this Hitler, and you'll find yourself fighting a thousand more Hitlers in the years to come.' .. and now, who is it that every new villain gets called? It's like a haunting prophesy.. I don't know that Gandhi's solution is the one, but at least it's trying something new as opposed to ramming our heads into brick once again. (His was more like making the guys on the brick walls do the work until they just wouldn't any more.)

H - Thanks for the detailed (and fairly agreeable response IMHO). Don't know you but have always struct me as a sane, thougthful and compassionate type.

So bottom line: you don't have a problem believing our society would bomb a ME city and kill 40,000 civilians if we could justify doing so the basis of preserving ourselves.

Don't be confused by the point I was trying to make (which I probably did poorly) - it's beyond me that some folks here don't see the potential for such actions by the U.S. given our long and well documented (as you just did) history. I'm sure some don't want to ackowledge that potential because it truly is sickening. Especially since they also know they would probably look the other way as long as it helped preserve BAU. Certainly there would be huge cries of disagreemnt followed by rather complete inaction IMHO. I have no trouble looking into the mirror and seeing that dark shadow hidden deep inside. Perhaps if more did we wouldn't have the horrible yet "justified" events that may be ahead of us.

To add to the discussion, don't forget the firebombing of Dresden, which is said to have killed upwards of 100,000.

I agree that there's the potential that the US might resort to attacks on population centers to keep "the American way of life" going-and-going on-and-on. I suspect that many citizens of the US would agree to kill such large numbers of foreigners, especially given our national sense of racial or cultural superiority. But, I think that's the ultimate problem and the reason we must learn to live within the boundaries of our ecosystems. As the fossil fuels run out, we will likely find that this will be the result in any event, baring some unexpected break thru in energy supply.

If things really begin to devolve to a much lower level, there won't be much need to attack other countries and similarly, those nations over seas might not be able to attack the US either. Even China, with all it's new wealth and military power, might find it impossible to mount a military attack across the Pacific, once the oil production starts to decline...

E. Swanson

I coudn't agree with you more Dog. My devout pessimism is based on the fact that any halfway intellegent and sane public, with the assitance of our political leadership, would have seen such a path as you decribe decades ago when maybe, just maybe, we might have been able to do something to alter this path.

We didn't then. And we'll do it now when it will be much more difficult and have much less time to do so? I grew up in a family of drug addicts and theives. More times than I care to remember I've heard the rationalization of the strong (or at least desparite) taking from the weak. Thus it's easy to see such a dialog expanded to a national level when TSHTF.

It's difficult to imagine my reactions when/if that day comes. With luck I'll be dead. LOL. It's always easier to go along with the mob than stand up to them. And for many just as easy to live with the guilt for doing so. There's what we all like to think we would do in such circumstances. And then there's what we actually do.

any halfway intelligent and sane public, with the assistance of our political leadership, would have ...

Ditto here.

Before studying Peak Oil and its social/political implications, I always assumed I was a member of a rational and intelligent species; and in particular because I lived in the "exceptional" Greatest Nation on Earth, the USA; I was doubly blessed to be surrounded by publicly educated, rational citizens, all of whom could vote and force the government to do the democratic right thing.

In studying about Peak Oil, I sought the "truth".
I wanted to know why, ...
why do their eyes glaze over when you tell them (about PO)?

But as they say, be careful what you ask for, you might just be unfortunate enough to get it.

The "truth" (for lack of a better nonsense noise) is that we are irrational, and worse yet, probably insane creatures running about, high on the after glow fumes of oil's twilight last blinking and yes, also under a "Sixth Sense" illusion that we are rational and sane.

Evidence of the opposite (that in fact we are not sane) is all around us and yet we deny it.

The denial of Peak Oil is just a minimalist example of the public insanity.

For heaven's sake, they voted in George Freaking W Bush to be President of this Greatest Nation on a Dying Planet, not once but twice.

Does one need more proof than that?


Thanks for posing the thought-provoking question. At first I was hesitant to dive into it but I felt a duty to answer and it made me ponder your perspective.

I will be the first to admit that I did not choose to jettison my paycheck and my ability to provide for my family in service to my ideals.

You also strike me a a good person...and I appreciate you helping get that black gold for us...we can't get by without it, but hopefully we will get a lot more serious about working on that to transition to/for the day it is truly scarce...but I don't have a ton of hope about that....but I am not Dr. Doom yet either.

I hope we don't turn into the evil empire in our desperation to keep from changing to suit reality.

Yet, look at all the denial upthread, without evidence except for one anecdotal description, of the only solution there is.

If people here can't see it, how can we expect anyone else to?

To be fair...Treeman said he was not in favor of it, just that he thought that's what would happen.

I think we could certainly kill a lot more people, but that doesn't mean it would be more effective (though having been in the military myself, I know it's common belief that we'd have won in Vietnam "if we'd been allowed to fight").

This is a situation that's come up over and over. In the end, the locals win, because they have nowhere else to go, and you do. Unless your intention is colonization - that can work (as we saw in the Americas).

Appreciate the defense Leanan, You are absolutely right. It is not what I want to see happen. It is what I fear is inevitable. I spend an enormous amount of time and money attempting to create a long term sustainable business model, here on our little island, because I truly believe we can do things smarter and better, and we will have to, as FF's go into significant decline. This would produce enough energy, food and living necessities for about 25% the present island population, at a reduced consumption.
But I am not so naive as to believe that if we create this somewhat better situation, that other people won't want to take it away. Which is why I also plan the defense of that business. I hope it is not necessary, but it is rather stupid, in my opinion, to not plan for it. Kind of like the Jews in 1930's Germany who convinced themselves that nothing bad would ever happen to them.
Montbiot whom I tend to disagree with often, said it well, to paraphrase, when the largesse made possible by cheap energy goes away, as the cheap energy does, we'll go back to fighting like cats in a sack. And yes I believe very strongly that people who somehow believe we have "evolved" into more loving and forward thinking creatures are deluding themselves with wishful thinking. You don't get rid of thousands of years of evolution in a couple of generations. We still have tribal genes.


I like Gail's pleas for us to chill out and enjoy our families and community and to get our house in order internally.

On a lower-key note. Reminds me of a story a while back in the UK of local government having problems with vandals damaging a bus shelter in a rural area. (We have little wooden shelters for people, not the buses, to wait in. Shelters go with the weather and an uncertainty about timing, and we did not own so many cars those days.)
Local council decided to respond by taking out the seats and every other plank to make the shelter uncomfortable for the vandals.

Might as well raze the shelter if the folks can't take care of the niceties they are provided.

That's a fairly common response. Plenty of cities have plazas, pocket parks, and whatnot that are sterile for just such reasons. Rather than crack down hard on the vandals, which certainly would cost money, and probably would violate an assortment of Political Correctness tenets, just make the public space unpleasant for anyone be in. That way we're all "equal", and what could be more Politically Correct than that?

Capital post!

Robert Fisk, in the Sunday Independent, looks at the unrest sweeping the MidEast and concludes:

The Arab revolt that finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places, and corruption. Watch out.

Leanan, I was just today thinking about how the middle east unrest, which could unfold for years, is a great way to hide the geologic limitations we face. We don't seem to face reality, anyway, so having an excuse is always welcome.
For example, nice to know that we can have an economic recovery while 16-18% of our workers are unemployed. Just another example of government figuring.
I had a friend, recently, lament that the CPI did not seem to be correct cause he was seeing food prices and energy prices rise dramatically. When I told him they were not included in the index, he said, "Oh that couldn't be so, the government wouldn't do that." I just shook my head.

Treeman, I sympathize with you about the naivety of your friend. Just show him a graph or 2 from a site like Shadowstats. If that doesn't awaken something in him then nothing will.

The CPI does include food and energy.

Your thinking of the "core index", which is used as an indicator of future inflation trends.

Aloha Nick, Thank you for the correction. It is the core CPI I was thinking of, however, even the CPI only rates the value of food as 7.8 percent of the total. I don't know about you, but I spend a heck of a lot more than that each month, week, year on food. Further, if you are on social security, and the CPI does not increase more than 3% there is no increase, so 5 years in a row of 3 or less and your purchasing power just keeps dropping. I don't think it really matters exactly how it works, they, government dingbats, will figure out how to spend as little as they can unless it is for their cronies. End of rant.

When it measures the inflation rate, the government is NOT really interested in the cost of things in money--instead, what it is trying to measure is how much the value of money changes. If oil or food gets more expensive, it might be because there's less of it, and that wouldn't be "inflation". On the other hand, both oil and food and a lot of other stuff might get more expensive, and it might be because there's more money available to buy the stuff with--and that would be inflation. The reason they remove food and energy from "core" inflation measures is that food and energy prices change a lot, and so aren't very good measures of how much the value of money itself has changed. Maybe that explanation isn't very helpful, but it's the best I can do... The wrinkle is that once commodities like food and oil start rising in price, a lot of other prices follow, and money gets less valuable!

As for the social security issue, I am sympathetic: my mom is on a fixed teacher pension that doesn't even increase much with inflation. In the next few years, a lot of people's incomes are probably going to buy them a lot less that they used to--because the society as a whole will be poorer. And no adjustments to SS benefits are going to make up for that...

McCain and Leiberman on CNN this morning discussing Libya and sending in military or at least weapons to "give people the ability to defend themselves".

Sure. It's never about oil.

Ghung - Of course not. But the Libyans should be glad they aren't black Africans with no oil resources. Those folks didn't need any protection while they were being hacked to death a few years ago.

It's always something unforeseeable. Economists are like faith healers - I seriously can't believe we made it this far with these idiots.

The only true usefullness of economic forecasting is to make
astrology look respectable. ~~ author unknown

"Well that's where we are. You say we're on the brink of destruction and you're right. But it's only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve. This is our moment. Don't take it from us, we are close to an answer."

Professor Barnhardt in "The day the Earth Stood Still".

Only at the precipice do we evolve. Aside from being a quote from a movie I believe that this is a well understood and accepted axiom. Doesn't that imply that it's only when we abandon optimism that we may then do what needs to be done?

In other words when we are on the brink most people dismiss the severity of the situation with some optimistic statement about how they are sure it will all work out for one reason or another, absolving them from having to make the hard choices of doing what really needs to be done.

It's not going to be alright. The changes that humans need to make are extreme and highly difficult, nothing that anyone would do voluntarily. We must abandon optimism, shout it down when it is thrown up as a valid argument or balanced opinion and say if you want to be optimistic then be optimistic about a future that is fundamentally different than today. A future where power and greed are put down the instant they appear. A future of less, less energy, less jobs, less resources, less people, less pollution, less inequality, less of everything. It can be a reasonable and even good future.

The alternative is to remain optimistic that things will work out, technology will evolve, the market will act, enabling business as usual with the existing trajectory of total global collapse, financial, energy, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and humanitarian collapse, ending most likely in decease, famine, then WAR.


For years I used to close my posts with: Todd; A Realist

To me, it's not a matter of optimism or pessimism but rather what is the reality of the situation. Perhaps it's in the human psyche to attach emotional memes to our situation but I would argue that this is counterproductive to actually getting something done. Further, people are going to spin their wheels trying to find the "best" solution rather than one that works.

In a wilderness survival situation the well trained individual is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Instead, they will evaluate their situation and take the best action they can. Society needs to do the same thing.


Sounds like you're optimistic about how helpful pessimism will be.

Bully, that! Three cheers for despair!

..As ever, I think you're confusing Optimism and Blind Optimism.. yet I doubt you'll agree that these are actually separate concepts. I think that it's 'optimistic' when someone persists and keeps pushing forward, trying varying approaches with open eyes (and that doesn't mean 'keep digging'.. it would more likely mean trying to climb out of what appears to be an inescapable hole), not giving up.

There are reasons for despair.. but there is also the potential for Blind Pessimism, which is not what I think of as this magic attitude you point to above, where it all turns around.

I won't argue against degrees of optimism/pessimism but that still doesn't change my point.

Most are afraid to even consider anything other than optimism, blind or otherwise, an optimism which allows for inaction or insufficient action.

If we do not evolve until we are on the brink then that brink is the point at which we abandon optimism.

I think we need to find ways to find happiness and see the good every day. We have the joys of being with our families, and of nice weather. We have been able to enjoy comforts that most people throughout the ages would never have dreamed possible. While it is possible to focus on things that we have no control over, maybe we should be looking at the good side of things.

Gail - I agree 100% I have allotted about 1/3 of my focus on encouraging and accomplishing just that, (1/3 on appropriate technology/agriculture/food production, 1/3 community building, 1/3 what I loosely call environmentally friendly entertainment).

But this article illustrates what I am concerned about;

"Models guiding climate policy are 'dangerously optimistic'"


I am full of gratitude for my life every single day, which is why I have no problem accepting that humans, and many others more deserving, are completely, utterly scrwwed.

And yes, I have two children and a granddaughter -- I love them dearly, and they're all scrwwed as well.

provo - I understand your sentiment. I should have been dead when I was 18 so I've had 40 years of bonus life. My 11 yo daughter may be scewed like your kiddos. But I got her out of a Chinese orphanage when she was a baby. Given she had little chance of surviving there she's had some bonus years of life already. Time will tell what the rest of her life will bring but it will still be a bonus.

All depends how one spins it, eh?

I think we need to find ways to find happiness and see the good every day.

I think we need our resident cornucopians, Elwood, Nordic_Mist and Abundance.Concept to bring us all some good cornucopian cheer. After the unrest in the ME & No. Africa these past few weeks along with rising oil and fuel prices, us peak oilers need a different angle on things to feel better. Maybe a bit on why the run up in price in 08 and now is due mostly to speculation. Or, maybe a bit on how the Bakken oil field will be a game changer. Where are you guys? We need a boost.

Denial is not optimism. Optimism is the belief in one's capacity to handle what comes, until one day you can't handle it and you die. Denial is a position of cheeriness unacquainted with facts. It is the wish to maintain a positive outlook without regard to what is coming down the road. One can be fatalistic and optimistic at the same time. I'm more optimistic about who I am personally than I have ever been. I'm generally a happy man. I don't have a lot of hope that we as a people will face our multiple dilemmas squarely and come to some kind of consensus about what we need to do. There appear to be too many obstacles to overcome. I don't have a lot of optimism for the human race.

Perhaps there are some people who will change on the brink. But the rest will go over the cliff. Besides, there are too many people.

The average American uses 35-40X the resources of the average Bangladeshi - It would seem they are two different species. Id bet the Americanus Consumerous Pathologus" is the endangered species and will go extinct first.

Humankind didn't adapt to survive the Ice Age. The people who survived adapted to the new world that followed.

Not really. We existed, and in Europe and Asia during the height of the Glacial, and even made our way into the Americas somewhere between its peak 20k years ago and it's putative end 10 - 12k years ago.

Yes, humankind spread over the world during the height of the Glacial, but I've read that the harsh living conditions in the north honed the mental and physical capabilities of those who survived. I may be wrong, however, because I'm most familiar with North American glacial history. (In Indiana, you can see how the land was scrubbed flat as far south as Martinsville. Below that, hills and valleys from runoff.) Early European history focuses on the Mediterranean. Dunno how late or far the ice reached in that area.

Yup, but they adapted to the cold first, and still do. They aren't mutually exclusive events or time lines.

Humans can't survive unclothed at temperatures below around 40 degrees F.

Fire helps some, but it is not portable. Caves aren't portable either. Simple, draped clothing helps some too, but not a lot.

The real innovation was the invention of the needle and sewing about 35,000 years ago. This technology spread across the then very cold Eurasian continent along with the multi-layer tailored clothing that it made possible. With this clothing hunters could live as far north as the presence of game permitted.

Isn't adaptation great?

Super compact fusion reactor secures funding

Oxford-based Tokamak Solutions is designing a super compact fusion reactor which will harnesses the neutron by-products of fusion for a variety of applications.
Tokamak Solutions’ spherical fusion reactor is just two metres in diameter but can provide a megawatt level neutron output while operating at modest plasma temperature.

Plasma produced in a spherical tokamak, which can be used to provide high-energy neutrons
Applications for these fusion neutrons include the production of isotopes for medical use, the transmutation of waste from existing nuclear power stations, zero carbon large scale hydrogen production, and for fusion-fission hybrid (or sub-critical) reactors.

Not a power generating tokamak, but interesting because it may result in added practical experience and engineering know-how.

Not a power generating tokamak

If you are getting neutrons, you are doing fusion and generating energy (heat & and radiation). They are just trying to improve the economics by using the neutrons. And maybe trying to greenwash fission, by connecting it with fusion.

Re: Can the Saudis Deliver the Oil the World Needs?

The cut-off of Libyan exports poses a big problem for Europe (not so much for the US). 80% of Libyan exports go to European refineries, and they are optimized for producing diesel fuel, which is more popular in Europe than North America.

The sweet, light Libyan oil which has been cut off gives very high yields of diesel fuel - say 80 litres per barrel. The heavier, sour Saudi oil which the Saudis can supply gives low yields of diesel fuel - say 30 litres per barrel. So if a refinery has to replace Libyan oil with Saudi oil, it may only be able to produce 1/3 of the diesel fuel it used to - assuming it can process the oil at all.

This is not much of a problem for US refineries, which are generally configured to process heavy, sour crude oil, and produce more gasoline than diesel fuel. In fact it may improve their profit margins as they sell their surplus diesel fuel to Europe. But it does have the potential to cause diesel prices in Europe to rise substantially, and that could cause US diesel prices to rise as traders divert diesel shipments to Europe.

As I understand it, the Europeans were producing more gasoline than they used, thus they had been sending that excess to the US, where we had been using lots of gasoline. The US still imports a sizable quantity of products from other nations. Don't think that the US will not be impacted by the shutoff of Libyan oil...

E. Swanson

Good points.

The US has been increasing its exports of diesel significantly over the last year (even before recent uprisings). The increase in US product exports has so far not been matched by an equal increase in oil imports. Therefore the US product supply delivery system is already out of balance, and basically - whether intentional or not - the US collectively was planning on running down oil stocks in the longer term to maintain the higher level of product exports.

Events in Libya now extend this supply/demand imbalance to Europe. Unless Italian and other European refiners basically grab high quality oil that was intended for some other country, gasoline and diesel inventories there will get further and further from desired amounts. If Europe succeeds in getting that oil, some other country will suddenly have a mismatch of oil supplies and products needed.

It is not impossible that at some point disruptive events will cause a chain reaction of instability leading to a loss of end supplies greater than the original oil shortage. For example, a loss of 1 million bpd of high quality oil may in the end lead to a loss of 1.5 million bpd of various products - as refiners can not completely adjust to changing oil quality, increased crude transit costs, shipping and delivery distances to the end user.

How big an issue is transit time? Even if there is product in the US, how quickly can a ship arrive to get it to Europe? With a longer path, how much more product is "in flight" versus "in storage" or "delivered"?

Should we be expecting a disproportionate spike in US diesel costs?

Well, transit time will probably be an issue. It takes more time to ship oil across the Atlantic than from state to state. Instead of "just in time" delivery you get "not nearly in time" delivery.

I would look for a sharp spike in European diesel prices, followed by a smaller spike in US diesel prices. How big the spike will be depends on how much people panic.

A very rough guess is that there is about 450 million barrels in transit at any given time. If the sailing speeds slowed down or the routes got longer by just 10%, there would be 45 million barrels less oil stored on land.

Over the last year, wholesale low sulfur diesel in New York harbor has gone from about 9 cents/gallon higher than gasoline to about 28 cents/gallon higher than gasoline. So the relative price is already rising. I would expect the difference to increase even more over the next few months.

Charles, about the same spread here in the UK, on retail prices.

Rocky, thanks for summing this up. This is the very issue I've been educating those that choose to listen over the past couple of years. We'll coin a term to be used in the TOD public Domain.

The diesel fuel crack spread difference between Sweet Light crude and Heavy Sour Crude is The First Definition of Peak Oil.

At the retail and transportation level, this is where everyone feels it first globally.

That SA article mentions ca. 2.5 mb/d of KSA spare cap, which seems to be a new figure being thrown around courtesy of one of those anonymous sources we all know and love.

So does this mean that those people who buy diesel vehicles in anticipation of rising oil prices may be shooting themselves in the foot? Although diesel is more energy dense and gets better mileage, the relative amount of feedstock to create it will decrease as we slide from light sweet crudes (great for diesel) to more heavy sour crudes.

Thus, even though your diesel vehicle gets better mileage, you are going to be paying a lot more for diesel fuel than people will pay for ordinary gasoline?

The only way out of what's coming is to, well, get out of the current system.

I have no illusions that it's a permanent solution or even applicable for everyone (public transit is going to be needed in a big way) but an electric car or plug-in hybrid, both of which can transport without the immediate need for fuel, is one possible way to deal with the coming gasoline shortages.

Here in San Francisco I have many, many friends who don't won cars and do almost everything by bike. The wave of the future.

Update on Iraq demos:

Iraq protests followed by detentions, beatings

BAGHDAD - Iraqi security forces detained hundreds of people including prominent journalists, artists and intellectuals, witnesses said Saturday, a day after nationwide demonstrations brought tens of thousands of Iraqis into the streets and ended with soldiers shooting into crowds.

Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.

"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility.

"Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

Protesters mostly stayed home Saturday, following more than a dozen demonstrations around the country Friday that killed at least 29 people, as crowds stormed provincial buildings, forced local officials to resign, freed prisoners and otherwise demanded more from a government they only recently had a chance to elect.

full article:

It seems the Iraqi government has chosen repression to deal with rising descent in Iraq; however there is no easy fix to the lack of services, corruption and rising fuel and food prices in the country, and as long as those underlying drivers are there, the situation will continue to simmer; not to mention the added complexity of Iraq sectarian divide and the momentum for change in the region.


Wonder when those fragile pipelines in Iraq will get busted up again.

Seems Iraq will be back in the stone ages with respect to oil production soon enough if they decide to beat up people.

Seems also the US policy in Iraq failed as well but we knew that to be the case. How much capital was spent and the place is still a rioting mess of chaos.

Sadly, Nawar, there will be some among the talking heads in the West who will say, see, we gave Iraq democracy and it's clear Iraqis can't handle it.

Representative government is messy at the best of times; it's a miracle it can work at all when trying to rebuild shattered infrastructure inside a shattered country.

The frustration and discontent of the ordinary person on the street - after eight years of invasion, incompetence, sectarian divisions, warring factions, non-functional utilities, and oil wealth not benefiting the whole - has had limited avenues for expression.

If the Iraqi government continues with a policy of cracking down rather than accommodating dissent, it's only a matter of time before this regime is overthrown.

The Iraqi people deserve better.

That Wiarton Jeff 's peakonomics article is a rather funny bit of psychological projection. It tries to classify peak oil as being conspiracy theory and not supported by facts and it does this with conspiracy theory and a very loose grasp of the facts.

Here is some great conspiracy theory

Meanwhile, the basic flaw with peak oil theory is that it is not so much about oil as moral disapproval of oil, and a rejection of markets more generally. Mr. Simmons described the market as a “500-pound wrecking ball” and compared Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” to an instrument of strangulation. He also wanted draconian legislation to force behaviour that complied with his anti-oil, anti-freedom agenda.

So Matt Simmons was a freedom hating communist? Are we talking about the same Matt Simmons? The staunch conservative Republican Mormon Texan who ran an oil industry investment banking firm? That is what passes for a market-hating anti-oil person?!?

And the facts on Sadad al-Husseini . . . well Sadad al-Husseini has carefully later edited his statements in support of his former employer so as not to step on their toes. He is clearly proud of his country and of Saudi Aramco and with good reason. But he said what he said. You can read and hear the things he said and they do not support a cornucopian position. Go listen to what Sadad al-Husseini back in 2007:

Not that he gives some rough predictions in that interview and those predictions have stood up pretty well. So it is pretty clear that he was basing them on accurate information that he gave out.


Mr. Simmons described the market as a “500-pound wrecking ball” and compared Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” to an instrument of strangulation.

I 100% agree. Market systems are mostly devoid of any logic and emotionally driven as well as assumed to have some sort of magic omnipotent power backed by all sorts of interesting folklore and superstition.

Water surges over NW Alaska ice

From the Alaska Dispatch : "Storm surge waters from far out in the Bering Sea were flowing over sea ice Friday, flooding the Western Alaska coast near the village of Shaktoolik. A man who claimed to be a Russian journalist said he tried to get there by snowmachine from Unalakleet and got the fright of his life.

"The water was coming out of the sea as a horror movie and is very fast and flooded all the way, the depth of water on the knee," an Iditarod Trail traveler claiming to be "Vlad Minin" posted on the official Iron Dog Race website.

Minin said he was back in "Unauklit."

"I am happy be here at this time!" he added.

Shaktoolik city clerk Rita Auliye told Alaska Dispatch by telephone that the flooding wasn't quite as scary as Minin made it sound but there was open water just offshore -- something of a rarity for the region about 400 air miles northwest of Anchorage on Norton Sound."

Researcher: Roundup or Roundup-Ready Crops May Be Causing Animal Miscarriages and Infertility

The gist is that this guy claims a new kind of microfungus, which attacks both plants and animals, causes the problems. The criticism is that none of his assertions are backed up by any references, and that this has to go through a peer-review process. However this is just a letter and letters have no rules. Huber did present a government report on corn wilt here:

Personally I don't think peer-review works nearly as well as some claim, but without peer-review you have to do a better job of arguing the case. If one thinks about it, most of the government reports do not go through the same peer review process as journal articles. Yet they often do offer up significant information -- Robert Hirsch's energy study is a good example of a report that probably got looked over but was published independent of a real peer-review.

What this really means is that the information is out there and it usually gets straightened out over time. Better to have some info rather than none.

Other Purdue scientists dispute the claims:
But as you can see, this isn't peer-reviewed either, it just has a bunch of names attached to a vanity publication from Purdue. But then again, you can consider this as the peer-review. One still has to make up their own mind.

A biologist friend of mine had this to say about the claims;

"This is very difficult to understand. The prof emeritus seems quite well credentialed, but he is saying an organism the size of a virus is able to reproduce and is like a fungus. The problem with all this is that eukaryotic life needs to be orders of magnitude larger than a virus to carry out its various functions. This reads like a sci fi story so without well corroborated additional evidence I have little to say about this except WTF?"

That is the story I am hearing as well.

Many cases of older scientists going over the edge:
Linus Pauling
James Watson
Thomas Gold
William Shockley
Some of these guys may have been crazy all along.

Then we have the case of Matt Simmons and his last known ramblings, which certainly shouldn't discredit his earlier work.

Actually, what's reproducing is much smaller than a virus -- it's an artificial section of DNA. And right next to it is another artificial section that makes it very easy to insert new sections in the host's DNA.

May not be happening here, but that's the (valid) concern.

The problem with all this is that eukaryotic life needs to be orders of magnitude larger than a virus to carry out its various functions.

Not quite true. I haven't as yet formed an opinion as to the veracity of the story about a micro fungus smaller than a virus and new to science, however there are some eukaryotes that can indeed be smaller than some viruses.

Most viruses that have been studied have a diameter between 10 and 300 nanometres. Some filoviruses have a total length of up to 1400 nm; their diameters are only about 80 nm

Ostreococcus is a genus of unicellular coccoid or spherically shaped green alga belonging to the class Prasinophyceae. It includes prominent members of the global picoplankton community, which plays a central role in the oceanic carbon cycle.

The genus Ostreococcus contains the smallest known free-living eukaryotic species, with an average size of 0.8 µm. The ultrastructure of cells in this genus have so far been characterised by remarkable simplicity, being coccoid cells lacking a cell wall and containing a single chloroplast, a single mitochondrion, and a single Golgi body as well as its nucleus.
Source Wikipedia

In any case the truth will come out sooner or later.

BTW in case someone feels uncomfortable with the Wikipedia citation being trustworthy. Here's one that carries a little more weight. http://www.pnas.org/content/104/18/7705.abstract

The tiny eukaryote Ostreococcus provides genomic insights into the paradox of plankton speciation


The smallest known eukaryotes, at ≈1-μm diameter, are Ostreococcus tauri and related species of marine phytoplankton. The genome of Ostreococcus lucimarinus has been completed and compared with that of O. tauri. This comparison reveals surprising differences across orthologous chromosomes in the two species from highly syntenic chromosomes in most cases to chromosomes with almost no similarity. Species divergence in these phytoplankton is occurring through multiple mechanisms acting differently on different chromosomes and likely including acquisition of new genes through horizontal gene transfer.

I seriously doubt the spontaneous abortions are related to glyphosate tolerant GMO crops.

Nearly all corn and soybeans around here are such crops. They are fed to hogs including gestating sows in huge factory farms to the tune of millions of bushels and hundreds of thousands of sows.

The most recent reports I have heard are that the piglets produced per sow are at record high levels. Gestation of piglets is extensively studied because it a key to profitable hog production.


Hog internal organs are quite similar to humans. Some hog body parts might someday be used as transplants with the help of bioengineering if I am not mistaken.

It is one reason I get so peeved when hog manure is spread around the country side as fertilizer. If human manure which is almost the same thing were spread that way, most would think it outrageous.

I do not see how Roundup/glyphosate tolerant corn and soybeans could have been fed in sow operations for going on ten years now without some adverse abortion reports coming to light if there were any truth to it.

And what happens in those ten years?

What can you catch in a Hospital Air-Handling system today that hadn't developed the same strain 20 months ago?

Life finds a way.

I read this on one of the liberal political websites. I took it for a grain of salt, since it seemed to be such an EXTRA-ordinary claim - a totally new class of microorganism? Could be, but without very good evidence, I remain skeptical.

This is a great and relevant speech;

Charlie Chaplin speech from "The Great Dictator"


Warren Buffett says people should be optimistic and that America's best days are ahead of it.


Billionaire Warren Buffett wants Americans to be optimistic about the country's future but wary about borrowing money and the games public companies play with profit numbers they report.

Buffett said in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders Saturday that he still believes America's best days are ahead.

Has Buffett ever made statements one way or the other about Peak oil, future energy demand/production, or environmental stewardship issues, to include population pressures?

Well, to be fair, he doesn't explicitly say how they'll be better..

Better for Billionaires.

The rest of us can eat dirt.

There I translated Buffett to plainer English.

America is in decline and I see nothing that will reverse this. America is way down the list on any measure of success or well being. But we do have some really impressively rich hedge fund managers. But those who think this country was chosen by God still try to perpetuate the myth that we are number one.

H - I don't know...I don't follow such folks. But his company owns $billions of public stocks. So IMHO the question is really: would Warren say anything that would diminish the public expection of the economy's future and thus drive down the value of the stock market? Asked thusly I think the answer should be obvious.

Oh, I'd say there were worse fellows to follow than Buffett. After all he is the world's greatest philanthropist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_philanthropists#Greatest_philanthro...

And has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth before he dies: http://money.cnn.com/2010/06/15/news/newsmakers/Warren_Buffett_Pledge_Le...


I thought he was a peak oil groupie like me

Oh, I confused him with T boon Pickens....
(sounds like a steak)

Has Buffett ever made statements one way or the other about Peak oil, future energy demand/production, or environmental stewardship issues, to include population pressures?

Yes, he has. He knows about PO.

And more important than words, his actions show his views. He purchased railroads when they were viewed as a 19th century back-water . . . now it is more clear how railroad and their energy efficiency makes them very important. And more recently, he made big investment into China's BYD . . . a major Li-Ion battery maker that is getting into the field of electric vehicles.


Thanks for the link and the info.


But if you take something like oil, I mean, we have been sticking straws in the ground now since, what, Titusville in 1850-something with Colonel Drake. And we have--we have--we have found a lot of the oil that's to be found. And if we're going to produce--or use 85 million barrels a day now and the rest of the world probably is going to increase its demand in the--in the--in the next five or 10 years, we're going to have--we're going to have a tough time maintaining production that satisfies those at this price, even. So I think something like oil, six and a half million humans--or six and a half billion humans are going to use a lot more oil than a lot fewer used 20 years ago or 30 years ago.

He then says that he has some wind farms in Iowa, and that wind energy is growing,but that wind (and I assume he includes other RE) will not be 'the answer'

You probably want a guy like Warren to be your best friend, not your Prez. The man's funny and smart, but either he's slightly delusional or he's actively lying to the American people about the situation.

And I don't think he is delusional, his recent coal and train purchases shows he understands the energy situation better than most.

So he's essentially a liar who comes off as your best friend. Probably why he is so successful, unlike someone like the ex-boss of Lehman Brothers who just couldn't hide the fact that he was a thieving psychopath.

Social etiquette pays off.

Some wisdom from Charles Hugh Smith:

The Titanic offers us a timeless analogy for denial and a frantic, too-late acceptance of grim reality. Had the doomed ship’s leadership actively accepted the challenge to save as many lives as possible, then lifeboats would not have been sent off half-full. The sea was calm; boats could have been safely loaded beyond their designed capacity, and crude life-rafts might have been lashed together. As poor a solution as a lashed-together assemblage of buoyant materials would have been welcomed as a better alternative than certain death.

But instead, the “plan” was to maintain a veneer of normalcy: the band played on, even as the bow sank lower into the unforgiving icy water.
Fed chairman Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Geitner, President Obama and Congress are all ordering the band to play spritely tunes of rising holiday spending, endless borrowing, and the carefully crafted propaganda of Fed manipulation, statistical legerdemain and happy-talk about how the Monster will be gone when we open our eyes.

Since we are feeding the Monster with our very denial and derangements, then that is impossible . The longer we keep our eyes closed, hoping we can avoid any meaningful change, any meaningful adaptation and any meaningful sacrifice, the more fearsome and powerful the Monster becomes.
We can’t escape the confrontation, and the longer we put it off, hiding under our bed, wishing it all away, the more likely our panicky collapse when reality forces our eyes open

We don't want to disrupt consumption habits because it will hasten the collapse. So keeping the masses delusional and unprepared is part of the plan. Your job as a citizen to to maintain "consumer confidence" and take on debt.

The Charles Hugh Smith quote was taken from this posting on Zero Hedge.

Saw this at the BBC just now:

"Thousands of foreign nationals - many of them employed in the oil industry - continue to be evacuated from the country by air, sea and land.

Saturday saw two British military transport aircraft pick up about 150 foreign nationals in the desert south of the second city, Benghazi, and fly them to the Mediterranean island of Malta."

But no mention of how much oil is currently offline. I know the IEA says 500-750,000 barrels. Any way of actually seeing the data first hand?


Somewhere I saw an estimate that 80% of Libyan production was now offline. That would be around 1.3 million barrels per day.

I think it will likely reach 100% soon. They can't really continue to produce oil with this much chaos and all the foreign companies evacuating their nationals from Libya. The biggest question is how fast they can restore production after order is restored. If order is restored.

On CNN this morning, someone said they couldn't shut off all production, because the pipelines are so old that they would clog with wax if the flow stopped. Or something like that.

Leanan - true as well as other downsides to completely shuting in a well or pipline. But once the tanks are full the choice is to shut in and let the oil flow onto the ground. I have seen instances where the ground dump was chosen.

Italian refiners say shipments have been reduced by 1.2 million bpd. [Libya's crude exports have almost halted because of reduced production, a lack of staff at ports and security concerns, industry sources told Reuters earlier on Friday.] Even though some oil fields remain in production, shippers are reporting that most tankers are being turned back and can not load. It is not completely clear why, since at least one significant port is in rebel hands.

Factbox: Who controls Libya's coastal cities, oil terminals?

TUNISIA | Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:24am EST

RAS LANUF (660km East of Tripoli)

UNKNOWN. Ras Lanuf has a 220,000 bpd refiner and a major export terminal that handles a solid share of Libya's oil output. Nearby Es Sider also has an export terminal. Reports of who controls the city are mixed and impossible to verify.

MASRA EL BREGA - (780 km East of Tripoli)

OPPOSITION. There is another large export terminal here,. Residents have said the town is under control of anti-government forces, and a Reuters witness confirmed that. Residents have given varying accounts of whether flows at the Ras Lannuf and Masra El Brega terminals have been affected.


Charles - here's a not so theretical question I offered the other day. Let's assume a terminal is in complete control by a group of rebels. Why would they allow any oil to be pumped into a supertanker? Easy answer: because the folks who own the tanker paid for the oil. Next question: who do they pay? To the guys with the AK's stting on the dock? To some unknown face sitting in Tripoli? And exactly who do they make the check (or the wire transfer) to? And what bank would allow that money to be accessed by anyone? And if the guys controlling the port can't access the funds why would they allow the oil to be loaded?

As I said the other day there appears to have never been a Libyan govt per se. There was just Q...and with Q gone what happens? In some way it seems similar to Japan after they surrendered in WWII. The U.S. moved right in and ran everything. It's difficult to see a similar path for Libya IMHO

I guess someone always emerges, for good or ill. Often, unfortunately, they just end up replacing the bad guy with another bad guy, but in another way. Many of the people want democracy but how will that occur and how will it be managed? Maybe it will be Jimmy Carter or Clinton to the rescue.

The money that is currently being frozen will supposedly eventually be returned to the Libyan government, in whatever form that will eventually take. So, it might make sense to have that money continue to flow to the frozen account even though that money cannot be accessed for awhile. But then, the workers need to be paid. So who pays them and when?

Looks like a business opportunity here for someone who can put all the pieces together to keep the oil flowing into the pipelines and on to the tankers.

Egypt did not eliminate the basic institution that was pretty much running things, anyway, the military. Libya looks like they are end for a long period of continuing chaos.

shippers are reporting that most tankers are being turned back and can not load. It is not completely clear why, since at least one significant port is in rebel hands.

Exactly Rock. I read in today's paper that the rebels said if they delivered the oil then Ghaddafi would get the money. They obviously didn't want that.

Now if a tanker showed up with a bag of cash they might have better luck. I imagine that trucks will be running oil from Libya into Egypt soon, there is too much money at stake for someone not to do it. The volumes will not be high though unless there are a lot of idle ol trucks lying around.

Seems the EU Europol may be reading Dmitry Orlov's blog

From Organized Crime & Energy Supply (pdf)

From the "Open Season" Scenario

Key characteristics:
• “Carving up” of remaining fossil fuel reserves
• Unplanned responses to the problem of energy security
• Price fluctuations leading to “boom and bust”
• Unregulated investments
• Territorialism, and reduced cooperation between EU MS (Member States)
• An increase in migration to and within the EU
• Reduced law enforcement capacity
• Reactive legislative responses
• Increased proximity between private citizens and OC (Organized Crime)
Key OC (Organized Crime) opportunities:
• Waste disposal (including nuclear), and waste-to-energy (WTE) technology
• Use of geopolitical conflict as a cover for trafficking
• Public subsidy fraud for renewable technologies
• Trafficking in fuels and energy components, exploiting differing taxation levels in
• Black market and counterfeit supply of fuel and goods
• Exploitation of migrant workforces
• Profitable money laundering (ML)
• Public protection and racketeering


'Guard killed in refinery gun attack'

Gunmen have attacked Iraq's largest oil refinery, killing a guard and forcing a shutdown which threatened to exacerbate acute electricity shortages that have prompted violent protests.

The gunmen detonated bombs which sparked a fire and forced the facility to halt operations, officials said.

The latter part of that caught my attention as a greater threat than just simple unrest that leads to higher oil prices, and that is physical damage done to oil pipelines, other oil related infrastructure and refineries that could potentially stop the flow of oil for months at a time. Obviously Iraq has had its share of bombings of oil pipelines, but if the chaos in Northern Africa and the ME got bad enough, and major damage occurred routinely, particularly if it started happening in Saudia Arabia, then the price of oil would be permanently at the 08 height or higher.

then the price of oil would be permanently at the 08 height or higher.

I hope so. It's what the country needs to get its head screwed on straight again.

Farmers love high oil prices:



It's what the country needs to get its head screwed on straight again.

Not so good for half the world making less than $10 a day, though. If "get it's head screwed on straight" you mean notice how our lifestyle and economic structure reaps death and destruction on the majority of the planet, then I agree.

Is the old joke about the motorcyclist apropo?

The cyclist was freezing from wind blowing through his zipper. So he stopped, put his leather jacket on backward, and rode on. Until he hit a bump and was knocked unconscious as he was thrown off his bike.

When the EMS arrived, they asked bystanders for information.

"Well," said one,"when we found him, he was breathing -- until we turned his head around right."

FOR ALL – A quick diversion to the past. There’s been a fairly credible leak according to the Houston press regarding the BP blowout. It does appear the shear rams did function properly and did cleanly cut the drill pipe. Physical evidence indicates it was the seals in the BOP that failed and allowed the blowout access to the drill floor. The big question remaining is why did they fail? Prior damage/wear weakened them? Not designed sufficiently to handle the pressures BP encountered (which would require a new design and complete replace of all BOP's offshore...maybe a couple of years to accomplish)? Even if the seals were sufficient to hold the pressure initially just a very small leak could have eroded the seals quick enough to cause total failure. Supposedly this is what the evidence is showing: the seals were badly eroded as opposed to bursting instantly.

Thanks for sharing. VERY interesting.

And it is nice to think that we can now learn from this and design better seals such that at least this particular failure may not occur in the future.


IIRC, in the VERY early stages after the blowout, there was chatter in the patch, particularly around the gulf,
that a joystick had been inadvertently joggled, moving the drill pipe while the annular was engaged, during a pressure test. One report I read, talked of chunks or rubber being found in mud screens.

This appeared briefly so it may have been rumor or speculation, so take it for what it is worth.


prag - I recall those reports. It may have happened just that way. Or not. But such accidental damage has been done in the past. I was once on a DW GOM where there was a very strong hint that they danaged the BOP while going in the hole at one point. Would have cost several $million to shut down and retest the BOP. They didn't. No one said anything out loud in front of the company management...everyone wanted to come back to work after their days off. You can imagine my not sleeping that well when I came off tour.


Right after the BOP was recovered, there was a video posted on YouTube that claimed to be from a camera lowered into the BOP while on the boat ride back to shore. It was linked on TOD. It had some text captioning with it.

My recollection is that it claimed to show that the shear rams closed, but had a small leak that over time eroded away part of the ram and inside the BOP. The thought was that this might have been why the first flow estimates were so low.

I'll see if I still have a link to that YouTube saved. Also might be able to find it in the TOD threads from when the BOP was recovered.

Here it is.

Deepwater Horizon BOP secrets

Check out the part from about 2 minutes on.

Thanks geo. Seems to support the current leak. It does seem to make sense when you slip the parts together. I've seen 1" steel cut through in a matter of minutes by a high pressure flow. And we're talking about rubber gaskets. Difficult to imagine a design that could ever prevent it from happening again A redundant BOP system may be the best option we could ever hope for.

Don't forget that there were two pieces of pipe according to some of the footage I saw.

I think that the Blind shear rams may have been opened and closed at least twice either by the folks on the rig or during the ROV intevention work sometime after the blowout. Two pieces of drill pipe across the blind shear rams would be extremely hard to get a proper seal from my discussions with deepwater subsea engineers.

I'm still inclined to say the extremely high flow rate conjecture that some people claimed were bogus reports just to get attention. I'd go with whatever BP's best daily flow rates were on the well once they had full containment, it's not like they didn't have Gov't people verifying the reports. Well at least you would think! ????

OKJeanne, you there?

I just finished reading the article in this month's National Geographic titled: "Age of Man, Enter the Anthropocene".

It was a pretty good article which stated plainly that 1) Humans are having a massive impact on the planet that will likely be visible in the geologic record millions of years from now (mass extinctions, change of atmospheric and ocean chemistry); and 2)this effect of humans is likely to get worse in the foreseeable future.

Well, I was going to write them a letter something to the effect that the Anthropocene might be too brief to be there shoulder to shoulder with the other geologic epochs and we might want to start considering a name for the post-human epoch. Something like the "Weshouldaseen" or "Itsabadscene".

But of course, I didn't make those up, I learned them on TOD, and I don't want to take credit for someone else's genius. I saw that you (OKJ) posted these terms, although I seem to remember two separate parties coming up with Weshouldaseen and Itsabadscene.

Anyway, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write National Geographic and spread the meme, or give me someway to give you credit and I'll write and attribute the terms to you.

My email is in my profile. Cheers.

















Now entering the Pleasestopocene.

And exiting.

:-) Love em. I have to have a run:


But of course:


Crying with laughter! You guy's rock! Thanks for a good laugh.

Petrocene = rock era. :-) Petroleocene? Petroleumocene?

But that doesn't cover coal... hydrocarbocene?


Hoping for wecanworkitoutocene.


Teh winner


I thought of that but didn't want to be too dark. Obscenocene.

And surely you don't mean the mini-thread?


And in post peak oil it will be:


Now why tomato?

I saw an article in the paper where someone stole the entire tree's worth of persimmon -- they valued the left at ~$400 in fruit. LOL

Hey and we are not even quite to the nasty times yet.

Around here it is fairly common to have whole plants stolen. I had a five-foot pawpaw tree stolen off my front porch. Probably by a landscaping "service". They are everywhere, but people never notice them.

I've also heard of them actually digging up valuable plants from peoples yards.

As for my pawpaw tree, I can replace the tree and the pot pretty easily, but the four years of growing time from bare-root is lost forever.

Last year I bought fluorescent tree marking paint to mark my plants and pots, hopefully as a deterrent.

Luckily, though, I had three pawpaw trees, so the two remaining can still pollinate. I feel sad for the one that was taken. It will probably die without proper care.

I may have been the first to post the Weshouldascene et al. a few weeks back, but I don't really take credit for coming up with those names; as a geologist, I've spent more than a couple of evenings (and middays and late late nights for that matter) chatting and socializing with other geologists - invariably a few beers appeared as well - over the past 30+ years or so, and every so often the topic of "Well, what should we name the Epoch that will follow the Holocene" comes up at some of the get-togethers.

I've probably forgotten more of the funny names than I remembered, but the ones like Wehouldhavescene have stuck with me over the years. That's too bad, because I probably should have remembered other things that have in hindsight have turned out to be far more interesting and important - like porosity and permeability values of the carbonate rock from cores through the Jurassic and Cretaceous reservoirs of big fields in the UAE and KSA, for example - than a couple of laughs over post-Holocene epochal names.

Leanan: Is the subject of Internet Astroturfing taboo on The Oildrum?

I have no idea what you are talking about. Please e-mail me privately if you have questions about posts that have been removed.

I may be wrong but I think Hank was asking a specific question rather than complaining about a post being deleted. From Wikipedia:

Astroturfing is a form of advocacy often in support of a political or corporate agenda designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event...

Astroturfing is a form of propaganda whose techniques usually consist of a few people attempting to give the impression that mass numbers of enthusiasts advocate some specific cause. In the UK this technique is better known as "rent-a-crowd" after the successful "rent-a-crate" business.

In other words, if he is Astroturfing, and is good at it, you will have no idea what he is actually doing. It is a dishonest way of putting up a front, trying to give the impression that your agenda has grass roots support when it does not.

Whether it should be banned or not is your call. But if you want my opinion... dishonesty is dishonesty and should be exposed as exactly that. Peak oil and the energy crisis are real. We have no need to be dishonest.

Ron P.

I just ran on to the subject last week and was appalled. Karl Denninger has a post about the subject too. I was just inquiring whether TOD has in place defenses against such attacks. I would like to believe that TOD is one of the pristine jewels of honesty on the garbage heap we call the Internet. Apparently, even our good government is involved in such shenanigans.

Oildrum could track IP addresses and email addresses but the labor would be intense. How exactly do they know who is who on the internet. It is hard to know who anyone is.

I have this three letter name, but my email address would be pretty revealing. I am not trying to stay anonymous; however, my real name woud just be noise. So I use Oct because I like eight ;-)

I tend to think there are a fair number of bloggers that are paid a small amount per post to say certain perspectives. I think Nate called some of these folks Clowns. Well my take is they are paid clowns or mercenaries in a little info war. Since so many have left the MSM for their intake of the World's events, then the TPTB can keep their message on the bogs maybe at a lower price than on CNBC.

Tracking IP addresses and e-mail addresses wouldn't help. Only the really dumb astroturfers use their work computers and main addresses. And even if they did...a lot of legitimate posters post from work. Just because someone works for an oil company doesn't mean he or she is a paid shill.

Nate didn't mean paid shills when he talked about clowns. He was talking about the tendency in online forums for the most persistent to become the big fish in the small pond. The people who "win" in online debates are often the ones who have the most time to spend posting, and who are the pushiest. That doesn't mean they are right, but it's human nature to fall in behind people who seem sure of themselves.

"That doesn't mean they are right, but it's human nature to fall in behind people who seem sure of themselves."

Or just leave the site in question when it becomes the personal playground of a handful of blowhards.

Of course, no prizes for guessing who the real masters are...

Former CNN journalist, Rebecca MacKinnon asserts that the Chinese government employs at least 280,000 to improve its online image.


All it seems to take for truth to become an untruth these days is for the truth to get in someone's way. Then, what had become settled fact begins a process of de-truthification.

First "interested parties" stop referring to something as fact, and instead start referring to it as merely "a theory," or "opinion." Then talk show hosts -- in cahoots with those aforesaid "interested parties" -- start referring to the offending fact, as "theory" adding that "some people believe," something completely different. Then, without identifying those "some people," move on to casting doubt on the validity of even the former fact's now diminished theory-hood.

Once the former fact has been demoted the process moves on to vilifying those trying to defend the fact, accusing them of being "interested parties" with their own agenda.

Finally they roll out the replacement "fact" which then becomes basis from any further discussions, legislation or laws. These replacement facts, of course, always bear a startling resemblance to the views of the "interested parties" that started the de-truthification process to begin with.

from: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/stephen-pizzo/34613/the-de-truthifca...

The subject has come up here before. It used to be that many refused to believe such things happened. Now, it's pretty widely accepted that it does.

As for defenses...I don't think defenses are possible. Other than to discourage the "Johnny One-Notes" - the people who post obsessively about the same topic, over and over again.

George Monbiot had a recent piece about astroturfing

There have been numerous attempts at "astroturfing" on TOD over the years, but the significant level of knowledge, and intellectual quality of the posters has generally exposed them quite quickly. It is tough to beat knowledgable people.

I would like to believe that TOD is one of the pristine jewels of honesty on the garbage heap we call the Internet.

Then I'm afraid you would be dissapointed. TOD has just as much diverse opinion as any other site, and also it's fair share of mis-information and delusional thinking (such as, "who needs fossil fuels to feed 7 billion people?!?"). That said, the discussions are generally more civil and well informed than some sites, if that's what you mean.

I also recall the Deepwater Horizon threads being populated by a few high profile industry shills, paid or not, who were clearly of the view that BP was not the villain, and that a few million gallons of spilled oil mixed with toxic dispersants was not that big a deal.

Not that I think diverse world views are a bad thing, all part of the human experience, and it's up to each one of us to decide what engages us. I certainly wouldn't make the arrogant mistake of thinking myself any better than all those so-called "clowns".


Indeed, Nate conceded that he might be the clown.

Sometimes I am the clown. But what I meant to say was that some of these internet clowns are getting paid.

Maybe Nate did not exactly mean that, but that is what I thought when I read his post.

We all have our BS-RADAR so we can all decide for ourselves who is astroturfing ;-)


No need to be rude. It's a difference in design parameters, and nothing more. Ignorance is best displayed when one dismisses that which they neither understand nor bother to investigate. Also by the straw man argument that zero fuels are needed. Yes, I misspoke, but only in that I was speaking of growing the food, not transporting it. We need none to grow and harvest.

Ask yourself, how much time does it take manage an acre of gardens and orchards? What difference would it make if 9/10 of that needed virtually no management? This is a powerful efficiency multiplier.

Please be more serious in the future.

Writeen by pri-de:
... zero fuels are needed. ... I was speaking of growing the food, not transporting it. We need none to grow and harvest.

Think carefully about this. No fossil fuel input means no shovel, clothing, shoes, sunblock, pesticide, fence, garden hose, irrigation pipe nor watering can. Could you find replacements for these things fabricated from stones, clays, plants and animals using manual labor to provide for 7 billion gardeners? You can not grow and harvest food if you do not have the tools for the job. The embodied energy of fossil fuels is all around you making your life easier.

Pre fossil fuel agriculture has been around much longer.

Your either a hunter /gatherer or agrarian. Aztec/Mayan/Mandan etc.

The point seems to be that there weren't seven billion of them. Nobody's saying that some small number couldn't eke out miserable existences.

Humans did in the past "eke out miserable existences", the difference today is that we are better educated and more worldly due to the internet, television, telephone and radio. Many people today (myself included) couldn't survive living in anything remotely akin to the filth and squalor of medieval times, or even the early industrial revolution. It would take several generations to adapt and "not know any better".

Until then the younger generation will want what their forbears possessed and the forbears won't want to give anything up. That means a job, three squares a day, a home, vehicle, children, entertainment, vacations, consumer goods, health care, education, investment opportunities as well as their god given rights.

That probably leads to a lot of goats getting scaped when reality starts to bite.

Well, Ron likes to take on the 'Myth of the Noble Savage'.. I'm regularly amused by the paintings of the 'Filth and Squalor of Medieval Times' .. reminds me of the carefully applied mud on the faces of all the Disney Ruffians.

First, we have plenty of filth and squalor right now, while I'm sure there were Italian Farmers in 1200 who were very fond of bathing at the end of a hard and dusty day..

.. no less than the Frazzled Stereotypes of 'Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw', that we paint so brilliantly, as our Bombs and Bulldozers tear apart the hovels of the peasants and their children.

I'm just saying that there is a full quiver of skewed assumptions about 'how good we've got it'.. not that I disagree that people will be unwilling to give up their Manna or Mammon, but even still, they've given much of it up without even knowing they did.

"Nobody knows anything." -William Goldman

First, we have plenty of filth and squalor right now, while I'm sure there were Italian Farmers in 1200 who were very fond of bathing at the end of a hard and dusty day..

Contrary to popular belief, medieval people liked bathing. Medieval villages had public bathhouses, like in Japan. But eventually, they hit "peak wood," and could no longer heat water for washing. The bath houses closed. By the mid-1300s, hot water was only for the very wealthy. Some think this contributed to the Black Death. That, and repeated famines.

Guess I picked the right year then..

Running out of wood in Medieval Europe reminds me of the Anasazi on Mesa Verde (hope that's the right people).. also devastated their woods, then topsoil and groundwater bases.. and yet the LongHouse people would develop the Seven Nations Federation (?Name) .. there are many successes and failures along the way. Ruins and Right livelihood, both then and now..

I'm a little tired of the silly lecures on fossil fuels... as if I hadn't been reading TOD since 2006. I am talking about growing food, not about running society. If I'd wanted to address collapse, I would have.

The Saudis appear ready to increase their production rate to cover the Libyan shortfall on the order of ~1.3mb/d on short notice. We shall see what happens over the next few weeks.

I think they have the capacity to cover Lybia's oil production for a few months but not more than a year.

Does anyone also agree that the Saudis could hold back another oil crisis for a few months?

Edit: Saudi Arabia reportedly increased their production rate by 700k b/d

I see at least two things wrong with this article.

First, at the end of January, FT said that KSA was making a stealth increase in output. It is now fairly clear that if anything, KSA's exports have fallen in February from Jnauary.

Second, while KSA could well increase some output - mostly sour crude but some light - there have been no shipping arrangements made to increase KSA's exports. However if they really are going to increase output by the 700,000 bpd they are now talking about, that might happen about March 1.

So my answer to your question is - I don't think so - if they are only going to give us 700,000 bpd to replace 1.2 million bpd lost.

Thanks Charles,

In any case we should still keep a close eye on KSA's oil movements to look for any indications of increasing production. As I have stated before, I feel it is very possible KSA could cover Lybia's lost supply, but only for a few months. (with minimal additional light sweet crude)

The bottom line is that Saudi Arabia basically (either voluntarily or involuntarily) stopped being the swing producer in 2006. Through 2005, they historically increased net exports in response to rising oil prices, especially from 2002 to 2005. But as outlined earlier, counting 2011, it appears that the Saudis will have shown SIX STRAIGHT YEARS of annual net oil exports below their 2005 rate, versus annual oil prices that were all in excess of the $57 level that we saw in 2005, and it appears that five of the six years will show year over year increases in oil prices.

The MSM are of course focusing on the possibility of a short term boost in Saudi oil exports, which--if it occurs--may come largely from inventory reductions, while completely ignoring the much larger story about Saudi Arabia, for going on six years now, no longer functioning as the swing producer (at least in regard to curtailing long term oil price increases). They can certainly voluntarily reduce net exports, which they did (to some degree) from 2008 to 2009, but so far there has been no evidence that the Saudis can match or exceed their 2005 annual net export rate of 9.1 mbpd.

And with the new (and fairly generous) handouts from the Saudi King that is only going to filter through the system as increased domestic consumption and hence worsening the net exports.

My question is why virtually everyone (with some notable exceptions) in the MSM is accepting, at face value, the Saudi's assertion that they have several million barrels per day of excess capacity? What if Woodward & Bernstein had accepted Nixon's assertions that he did nothing wrong? I would argue that the question of whether or not the world's largest net oil exporter has peaked is a far more important topic than Watergate.

Political motive to tear down one political party, in favor of another, is one thing. What would be the motive to permanently destroy the public's faith in the continual growth model? Which group of people, or political party, or investor, wins when the general public truly becomes peak oil aware?

Hi Westexas.

My question is why virtually everyone (with some notable exceptions) in the MSM is accepting, at face value, the Saudi's assertion that they have several million barrels per day of excess capacity?

I wrote a letter to the paper today on this very topic (not that I expect it to be published), specifically questioning the Saudi's ability to replace Libyan output. Here's an excerpt:

"First: Oil production is an Industrial process requiring 10's of Billions of dollars worth of infrastructure. A producing oil field requires pipelines, Gas-Oil Separation Plants, water injection wells...the list goes on. In this day of just in time delivery and expected high productivity levels, how could the Saudis afford to have, say, 20% of their industrial capacity sitting idle? How can they have enough trained staff to run that extra 20%? How could they pay the interest on the loans? How could they have enough of the various consumables an industrial plant requires: spare parts, lubricants, etc.? What about the pipelines to deliver to foreign buyers? What about port facilities?"

I do realize that things don't run at 100% capacity, and that the taps might be able to be turned up for a short period of time, as some here have mentioned. I just suspect that bringing 20% more supply online for any length of time would require 20% more infrastructure and staff. Probably more if we consider depleting fields.

I haven't seen anything here specifically about this (but of course I don't read - or remember - everything.) Has anybody been able to (or tried to) gather information, or build a financial model, to challenge the Saudi assertions from this viewpoint?


I think that the best we can do, regarding financial modeling, is to compare their net export volumes to annual oil prices:


If I hear you correctly, you are saying that an oil tap is not like a water tap. Anyway, at the end of the day, I think everyone is in the dark. We probably need a crisis bigger than Libya to really see what SA is capable of.

But really. To be dependent on SA is not in our national interest regardless of how much excess capacity there is. To endlessly focus the debate on their capacity is a kind of trap where the only thing that is important is our ability to bankrupt our country by importing all this oil. At the end of the day, also, we continue to support a bunch of dictators.

Well . . . they are not at their all-time highs. And it would probably be a reasonable bet that they could at least reach their all-time highs with some effort. And they have been doing a lot of investment in the past few years to expand things a bit. 20% would seem to be something I think they could handle (with a good deal of effort).

But some articles say they've been pumping around 8mbpd lately but they could ramp that up to 12mbpd any time they want. Now that sounds like fantasy. A quick 50% jump? No way. 20%, I can accept . . . of course some of that might be heavy sour crude that no one can handle, so that part is moot.

Holy Cow the NK regime is tedious...

North Korea threatens to attack South Korea, US


I think this comment to the linked story pretty much sums it up:

The North is not pleased that the Middle East has taken center stage. Here we are! Over here! Remember us! You know the crazy lunatics that like to murder without repercussion. We're back!

It is always the little dogs who make the most noise. Yap!! Yap!! Yap!

Israel is still not getting any natural gas from Egypt despite all the things that people on ToD has written to me about this in the past Drumbeat sections about this.

Israeli pipeline peril By JOSH KOSMAN / New York Post / Feb 24, 2011 << "That pipeline may stay offline," said Delphi Global Analysis Group founder David Wurmser, who from 2002 to 2003 was senior adviser to Under Secretary of State John Bolton. "I think the days of that pipeline are numbered." >>

New York Post is in the same class as National Inquirer; though Agent K, from the movie "Men In Black", considered it one of the 'hot sheets' pointing out that the New York Times got 'lucky' once in awhile

The Iraq refinery explosion is the second refinery incident in Iraq this month. First in Dinaya they blow up the pipeline to the Dora refinery in Baghdad. This time the refinery in Baiji is blown up.

It is interesting that these attacks are on the domestic oil infrastructure. This seems to imply either:
1) The exporting oil infrastructure is much better guarded; or
2) The bombers are more concerned with harassing and destabilizing the local government than at annoying the external great satan.

FOR ALL – Libya update: Perhaps I’ve been too negative about how long Libya will be unstable after Q is gone. CBS Sunday Morning just reported that some faction of the rebel force is setting up a provisional govt outside of Libya. Initially manning this govt with exiled political leaders. Interesting that we hadn’t seen much about these opposition leaders from the MSM/world govt’s over the years. Perhaps the prospect of losing some oil flow has changed some attitudes. I had felt a prolonged delay in having the rest of the world recognize a legitimate govt would lead to something close to a Mad Max reality in Libya. Hopefully the recent news allows some hope for a better near future. Not just for all of us oil hungry folks but for another suppressed society denied the fruit of their natural resources. And hopefully while there is still enough left to move the rest of the country into the 20th century. And if they’re very lucky maybe the 21st century

Aren't the rebel forces in control of the areas with most of the oil? If you can export 1 mbd, you're a legitimate government in my eyes.

If you can export 1 mbd, you're a legitimate government in my eyes.

Not just your eyes... I expect it will be a long time before I read a statement that is both truer and more double-edged than that.

Rebels advance on Gadhafi as calls for resignation intensify

As the dictator clung to power in the capital, however, the majority of Libyan cites under rebel control were moving to form an interim government.

A member of the Benghazi city council told the Associated Press that rebels had appointed an ex-justice minister, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, to lead the provisional government.

The official said that Abdel-Jalil was chosen by the committees running the eastern Libyan cities now in the rebels' hands.

The provisional government is also being supported by the tribal elders. The next step would be recognition by other nations, and then the oil revenues could flow to the provisional government.

A big problem for Gadhafi is the loss to the rebels of the huge oil refinery at Az Zawiya. His tanks and helicopters won't work without fuel. That's probably why he has launched several counter-attacks trying to retake this city just west of Tripoli.

The key question is how much fuel and ammunition he's got stashed away. Everytime he fires at protesters or scrambles a helicopter, his ammunition and fuel reserves diminish.

For an Army, any large army, running out of ammunition and fuel shouldn't be a concern with a conflict so localized and short in duration. The Libyan military is long standing well equipped and well funded. It has experience, equipment and supplies for moving dozens of mechanized battalions over vast distances and has been noted for its ability to handle logistics involved (see Chad conflict).

As of now we haven't seen any large mechanized battles which would've drawn down any supplies or stores, nor do we expect the defense of the capital Tripoli to be limited by a shortage of fuel or ammunition. So there is no short-term strategic significance in losing control of the oil fields or refineries. Thats pretty much it.

The so-called 'mercenaries' people keep talking about are actually very well trained and equipped experienced brigade of the so-called Pan-African Legion who as recently as 2009 were being trained by the British SAS. These are the loyal and ruthless professionals now holding Tripoli and Col G has a lot trust in them.

I don't see the disorganized rebels being able to take Tripoli by force any time soon. In fact it is them who might lack the logistic ability to supply any such undertaking despite however many oilfields, refineries or stocks they might hold.

All the more reason for the rebels to get an interim government organized and recognized ASAP. They already control everything that brings foreign currency into Lybia, so the world at large should be ready to do business with them now.

I wonder where the folks in Libya would be today, if Ronnie Raygun had the guts to take out Gadhafi, instead of just killing a few innocent civilians.

"""The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close."""

The Martian

You are referring to the announcement yesterday by the former justice minister of the formation of interim government based in Benghazi, Libya. He himself may may have been in exile at the time but the interim government will be based there. In his speech he also stressed that Tripoli will remain the capital of Libya. See more info on Libyan Interim Government.

In other news: Russia stands to loose considerable arms deals with Libya worth 4 billion USD because of UNSC resolution 1970 which imposes an arms embargo on the country.

Libya has been one of the biggest customers for the Russian arms trade in the Middle-East and North Africa.

The deal struck was to have delivered the first Su-35 exports as well as options to acquire high tech S-400 air defence missile systems, tanks, submarines and artillery rocket systems. Analyst reports estimate that the total cost of the middle east revolts so far to Russian arms trade might be as much as 10 billion USD.

Comment: we are indeed primarily interested in their oil but secondly we are also concerned with our reliable customers for our vast military-industrial complex.

What is also interesting is how quickly and unanimously the UNSC resolved to place heavy sanction on the Libyan regime which only yesterday seemed to have been the best and most reliable partner in energy trade with both US and EU. Now they dare to risk a dangerous precedent by also demanding in the resolution to give the International Criminal Court access and jurisdiction to investigate the human rights abuses by this regime. The problem is we have many many such old-friend-regimes all lined up along pretty much the same latitude :P Let's just amuse ourselves as to how consistently this policy is followed in the coming events.

- Ransu

Russia export oil and gas worth roughly $1 billion per day.

$10 billion in arms exports might cost at least $5 billion to produce, leaving about $5 billion in profit.

A 10% rise in energy prices is worth $100 million/day, which is all profit. So if energy prices are up for 50 days, Russia breaks even.

In Vancouver this morning, the price of regular gasoline at the neighborhood Chevron station is 1.288 CA$/liter x 3.785412 gallon/liter x 1.02312 US$/CA$ = 4.95 US$/gallon. In my opinion, this price is at a level that will cause consequences if it sticks.

There's no way that Joe Sixpack with his F250 SuperDuty truck, snowmobile, powerboat, ATV, etc, isn't feeling it in the wallet -- it would cost him $167 just to fill up the 130 liter (35 gallon) tank in his truck! Then what happens to the whole recreational pollution industry, such as the snowmobile/ATV dealer, boat dealer, and of course the domestic North American automotive/RV industry.

In Canada, we have the addition problem of a housing bubble that hasn't popped yet. My prediction, a deep recession in the non-petroleum portion of the economy within a year if oil prices stay above $100/barrel.

Then what happens to the whole recreational pollution industry, such as the snowmobile/ATV dealer, boat dealer, and of course the domestic North American automotive/RV industry.

I smile at the karma when watching even a F150 fill up.
Serves these clueless idiots well!

The ATV guys are the worse. Have you seen some of those hunting camps lately? Morons gone wild!

Around these parts it's the snow machine guys. A huge pickup pulling a big fully enclosed trailer with 4 big powerful "mountain sleds" driving out of town for a day of family fun. A lot of them even have little bitty child size snow machines for the kids. Yes, "Morons gone wild" says it all. As a skier it makes me either gag or laugh (depending on my mood du jour).

I should add that I don't have as big an issue with with folks out in the bush, for whom snow machines are basic transportaion. Interestingly, some Alaska Natives of our aquaintance were telling us that one can now buy much more fuel efficient snow machines. These are not aimed at the recreation market, but are purchased almost exclusively by bush people who actually use them for daily life and for whom fuel costs are astronomical compared to us city dwellers. (Cheapest regular gas in Anchorage is currently about $3.56/gal.) Needless to say though, that there are vastly more of the more powerfull machines built and sold for the recreational market.

Would I be right to guess the more efficient models are also a lot quieter, and that the natives prefer them since they don't chase the game away quite so much?

They might be quieter. (My personal experience with snow machines is rather limited, and I don't follow the technology much.) The main advantage that was expressed to me was that they are cheaper to run. Depending on the village, and whether gas can be brought in by barge or whether it has to come in by air, fuel prices can be extremely high.

Factbox: Facts about Oman

Police and demonstrators demanding political reform clashed in Oman on Sunday, killing two people, and protesters set government buildings and cars ablaze, witnesses said.

...Oman produced around 860,000 barrels of oil per day last year, most of which was exported

Just spoke to a relative working out there. Said there isn't much of a problem - they're just whinging cause the rest of the middle east is as there's not really much to whinge about in Oman except for dirty public toilets. The mainly Indian immigrant population which accounts for maybe as much as 30% of the total population there are only interested in sending their hard earned cash home so they want to keep the status quo aswell.

The start of a new 'Cancer Alley' like the Gulf Coast

Regulation Is Lax for Water From Gas Wells

While the existence of the toxic wastes [from hydrofracked wells] has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.

Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania.

also inter-active map http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/27/us/natural-gas-map.html

and http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/amall/new_york_times_the_natural_gas.html

Emergency airlift from Antarctica bases as Ross Ice Shelf breaks up

An Antarctic ice shelf used as a runway is breaking away, forcing an emergency airlift to close summer operations on the continent.

The situation is being complicated by the Christchurch quake which is limiting operations at Christchurch Airport.

Staff at New Zealand's Scott Base and the US's McMurdo Sound are scrambling to get people off Antarctica to Auckland.

With winter closing in, the prospect is that people either get out now or stay all winter. ...

From the photos it looks like the outer edge of the shelf is breaking off, but most of it remains in tact vs. the headline that the Ross Ice Shelf is breaking apart, inferring the whole thing is disintegrating. Don't get me wrong, I'm on board with the data and other information regarding climate change, but that headline seems hyperbolic.

No at all. With the speed that others have broken up - days and even overnight - I think i quite prudent to get he hell out while the gettin' is good and come back after extensive analysis.

These things are melting from the bottom much more so than from the top, so who knows what instabilities lurk beneath.

What's scary is that I don't recall anyone saying anything about a break up being imminent... and they LIVE here.

...that headline seems hyperbolic.

I did give that some thought when I wrote the headline, but I decided that it was defensible because of these quotes:

CEO Lou Sanson: "We are seeing the biggest ever break out of the Ross Ice Shelf in 15 years, our supply lines to the airfield are getting affected."

Scott Base manager Troy Beaumont: "The ice is breaking up." He told Stuff this afternoon that the sea was opening up and access to the iceshelf was becoming difficult.

The break shown in the first photo occured in March of 2000 as pointed out on the photo.

Also Mt Erebus is an active volcano very near both stations just to the North.


Marc Faber: "I Think We Are All Doomed

I think we are all doomed.

I think what will happen is that we are in the midst of a kind of a crack-up boom that is not sustainable, that eventually the economy will deteriorate, that there will be more money-printing, and then you have inflation, and a poor economy, an extreme form of stagflation, and, eventually, in that situation, countries go to war, and, as a whole, derivatives, the market, and everything will collapse, and like a computer when it crashes, you will have to reboot it.


China Cracks Down on Mid-East Style Protests With Water Canons; Police Blanket Shanghai, Beijing; Internet Search for "Egypt" and "Tunisia" Blocked

Looks like Spring is upon us. While the official start is 21 March, the climate folks say 1 March. On queue, the forecast is for severe storms in the Midwest. That's because the temperatures in the northern part of the US are still setting record low temperatures (MT saw -20 to -30F Thursday), while the past few days have produced record warmth across the Southeast (80's to 90 F). Today, it looks like South Texas and Mexico along the Rio Grand saw record temperatures above 100F today! Anyone around here who can comment from South Texas? Folks in the Midwest better pay close attention to the weather just now...

E. Swanson

The winters may be more severe, but they may also be shorter. Perhaps that is the trend. Will the summers be hotter and longer? Last summer was pretty nasty in many parts of the US.

My lettuce sprouted in February here (No. CA) survived the frost the other night too ;-) No snow to speak of even though they said it would snow. I was skeptical of snow, but perhaps I will not plant again in early February ;-)

Watching plants sprout is always a fun time.

Here on the Gulf Coast, has it been a warm fall and winter? A cold fall and winter? Both! See for yourself:


Look at how we've been scraping both the cold and warm record limits, more on the cold side in December and January, but now spring has come with a vengance. Shoot, the college girls were sunbathing yesterday and today at the apartment complex pool behind my apartment.

Yeah so winter is like chaos in terms of lows and highs together. We had such hot weather in early Feb I planted lettuce and now we have cold and near frost late Feb.

Well someone should see if they can measure weather fluctuations and whether these are atypical or not.

Yesterday, the Laredo, TX airport saw a high temperature of 102.9 F (39.4 C). The Cotulla airport maxed out at 100.0 F (37.8 C). The Del Rio airport hit 99.0 F (37.2 C). The previous Laredo record high for Feb 27 was 99 F and for 28 Feb it is 100 F. I can't access the NOAA records site...

E. Swanson

Just wondering if anyone else has noticed their local roads getting worse. I'm seeing serious deterioration. There was almost no maintenance done last year and this winter has been brutal here in the northeast. I'm wondering if anything will be done come spring.

No, quite the opposite in Albuquerque!

Seems as if every other street is being widened and re-paved over the past two years.

I'm not kidding.

We get sometimes full repaves and other times a strip of the road is repaved.

I keep fat tires on my bike for the rough ride.

Not sure if that helps. I think personally the local money is now gone (which was really the money from the stimulus).

At some point a BMW or two will get racked in a pothole, and they will beg for more money to fill all the potholes. That will be stimulus part II I guess.

The other way to fund roadway repairs are gasoline taxes. LOL. I bet that will not happen ;-)

At some point a BMW or two will get racked in a pothole, and they will beg for more money to fill all the potholes. That will be stimulus part II I guess.

Just outside our development is hwy 29 in CA, was falling apart to the point that it was covered in small rocks/pebbles from the disintegrating asphalt. They finally got the money together, possibly like you say from stimulus, and they repaved 3/4 of the damaged parts. The reason they didn't do the other 1/4 was because the asphalt didn't go as far as expected. Why? Because some numbsckull used too large a rock in the mix so it didn't spread out as far. Also, because the mix was incorrect, it's already falling apart and holding big puddles of water. So when you drive at 60 and its raining, you get pulled to the left, then to the right and everytime it does that it scares the crapola out of you and you slow down to 50 then 45. The road is only one year old now and its disintegrating so fast it will probably need to be repaved within 3 years, but where is the money going to come from? Stimulus II - don't think there will be another stimulus package - too far in debt.

Here in the Boston area, the roads are absolutely terrible. This spring's freeze thaw cycle ran up like a Morse code switch, and the potholes are everywhere.

We're getting the first fresh set of trolley tracks extended right to by town now, first time since Roger Rabbit was framed if you catch my drift, and I think people are starting to appreciate that train tracks don't get potholes.

Yes, the roads are getting worse. Many states have had to cut back on maintenance due to budget issues, and it's hard to catch up when you fall behind. Rust never sleeps, and all that.

I'm sure they will do some repair work come spring, but probably not enough. Even if it turns out the recession is over, it takes state and local budgets 2-3 years to catch up. What with schools being closed, teachers and cops being fired, etc., don't expect a lot of money for road improvements.

My guess is that the roads will get worse until someone dies (bridge goes down, slope fails, something like that) then suddenly they will starting throwing money around like crazy.

I don't know why, but not just Albuquerque but a whole lot of NM has very nice, smooth roads, many recently re-paved.

I honestly would greatly prefer to see some of that money spent for many discrete, dedicated (not part of a street) bike paths thoughout the city. Won't get done...too much glass to break (too many housed/structures to buy out vis eminent domain).

Biking on the streets here is a deathwish.

Roads are much worse here in the UK than at any point that I can remember (I'm only in mid twenties though!)

Adding to the list of anecdotal evidence - I'd say you're right about UK roads, and my experience of using them goes back over 20 years. The recent cold snap seems to have had a very bad effect on a lot of the minor roads.

The preliminary value for 2010 is the same as 2009 so there has been no recovery in demand.

The interesting question is: how much of that is deferred maintenance, and how much is substitution with concrete?

2011 is a re-run of 2008

Risk of airlines' default climbs
By Shannon D. Harrington / Bloomberg / May 23, 2008

The cost of protecting airline bonds from default soared and bond prices plunged as oil reached a record $135 a barrel, stoking concern that carriers will run out of cash as jet-fuel prices surge.

Airline Credit Swaps Climb for Second Day as Oil Reaches $100
By Shannon D. Harrington / Bloomberg / Feb 23, 2011

The cost of protecting U.S. airline companies against default rose for the second day as oil reached $100 a barrel and pushed jet fuel prices to the highest in more than two years.

So guess what comes next in 2011? If you guessed stock market crash by October then you are following me.

In a number of ways, 2011 is not playing out like 2008. Note the MENA governments toppling like dominoes this year. Maybe 2011 will make 2008 look like the glory days. ;^) Or not. History tends not to repeat exactly, but does tend to rhyme.

However, our comment about a possible stock market crash in Oct brought to mind that if such were to occur just one month earlier, Sep 2011, then it might be considered a kind of 9-11 redux. Just a thought.


Last time there was Ike and Gustav. This time it's the Middle East. Both do the same thing to the price of oil.

Eventually the price of oil will go up so far that businesses will not be able to afford it even they can't operate without oil. They will simply declare bankruptcy and default on their obligations. When enough businesses default then the price of oil will be affected by the loss of demand. The stock market will be affected by the wave of bankruptcies and defaults. This is what happened in 2008 and we are witnessing a repeat of the situation.

Those two news articles above are the same warning sign in 2008 and 2011: airlines are appearing riskier in the face of higher oil prices.

If you look at US crude supply by month data for 2008 it fell every month from Jan to Sep 2008. As the defaults amassed the demand fell and it is recorded in the form of shrinking supply numbers. A total of 2.2 million barrels a day less by the end according to US government figures. That is the fingerprint of a wave of business failures.

‘Peak Demand,’ Yes, But Not the Nice Kind
Why There Will Be No Recovery

By Chris Nelder
Friday, March 5th, 2010

... In 2009 the peak demand story seemed confirmed, as prices stabilized around $70 in June, and U.S. consumption remained well off its previous high. Most people thought the nearly 2 mbpd decline in U.S. petroleum demand from 2007 through 2009 owed to efficiency and people driving less.

In reality, only about 15% owed to reduced gasoline demand. The other 85% was lost in the commercial and industrial sector: jet fuel, distillates (including diesel), kerosene, petrochemical feedstocks, lubricants, waxes, petroleum coke, asphalt and road oil, and other miscellaneous products.

Very simply, when oil got to $120 a barrel it cut into real productivity, and forced the world’s most developed economies to shrink. At $147, it wreaked serious damage. ...

Goldman Sachs started out with the superspike estimates being reasonable ones around $100 or so but then they lost it and said $200 which was never reached because you can't get businesses to buy oil at that price. Instead you get economic shrinkage.

Oh, yes, I agree that high oil prices are and will likely continue to cause economic damage. Thanks for pointing some of the details out.


The other 85% was lost in the commercial and industrial sector: jet fuel, distillates (including diesel), kerosene, petrochemical feedstocks, lubricants, waxes, petroleum coke, asphalt and road oil, and other miscellaneous products.

But, how much was reduced economic activity, and how much was efficiency and substitution?

For instance, many container ships reduced speed by 20%, and reduced fuel consumption by close to 50%. If water shipping was reduced by 15% by the credit crunch (or if there was 15% capacity in reserve, which is less likely), that reduction in speed could have been accomodated without any further effect on shipping volumes.

For instance, many container ships reduced speed by 20%, and reduced fuel consumption by close to 50%.


As oil demand comes under strain and prices soar, adding to the recessionary cycle, tighter control of ship transport – which consumes 8.5% of all world oil to fuel its almost 100,000 vessels – could reduce oil consumption by millions of barrels a day.

A mandatory speed reduction of 20% across the global shipping fleet would equate to a 40% reduction in fuel demand, or a cut of over 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. If combined with new technologies, currently available to improve ship fuel consumption, shipping could significantly contribute to reducing global oil demand and CO2 levels. while saving tens of billions of dollars in fuel costs.

On the other hand, 2.5 mbd less is not that much. On the downslope of oilproduction the elasticity rapidly disappears. With a yearly 2% decline in oilproduction, within 2 years the 2.5 mbd is gone. Recalling a comment from a few days ago that heavy oil yields much less diesel than light crude could mean serious problems are not far ahead.
Regarding jet fuel: in the mentioned period a lot of small airliners went bankrupt, so that was indeed reduced economic activity.

Could you give me your link for the quote?

2.5 mbd less is not that much.

On the one hand, it's a 40% reduction in that one category. Other categories have comparable strategies. On the other hand, the primary point here is that this is a short term reduction. Note the speed with which this reduction can be implemented: a matter of hours.

Think of that: a 40% reduction, in hours.

Now, this is just the short term. In the longer term other reductions are possible.

a lot of small airliners went bankrupt, so that was indeed reduced economic activity.

No question, air travel fell. OTOH, keep in mind that just because a minority of players are going bankrupt doesn't mean that the whole industry isn't growing. People keep making this mistake about aviation and farming: just because there's a continual process of the poorer players going out of business doesn't tell us that much about the size and growth of the overall sector of the economy.

Could you give me your link for the quote?


I don't know how to write a clickable link: the topic name is '1 ship pollutes as much as 50 million cars'. I have to confess that I didn't check the numbers on other sides.

Think of that: a 40% reduction, in hours.

Now, this is just the short term. In the longer term other reductions are possible.

Yes, but the elasticity gets less and less. And the wastage, which is an important part of economic growth, will diminish drastically.

OTOH, keep in mind that just because a minority of players are going bankrupt doesn't mean that the whole industry isn't growing.

I don't see the big airliners grow in a world of shrinking oil supply. In the beginning yes, with improved efficiency, reduced speed and maybe with the use of electric take-off. (Repeatedly) very high oilprices could eventually collapse the world economy, resulting in much less travelers.

Yes, but the elasticity gets less and less.

Reducing speed is a short term solution. As efficiencies are found, speed will go back up and make the same "slowing down strategy" available available again for future supply shocks. Eventually, oil will be replaced.

And the wastage, which is an important part of economic growth, will diminish drastically.

I'm not sure what you mean.

maybe with the use of electric take-off.

I'm not familiar with this. Could you give more info?

(Repeatedly) very high oilprices could eventually collapse the world economy, resulting in much less travelers.

Unless, of course, we make oil obsolete, as we should.

As efficiencies are found, speed will go back up and make the same "slowing down strategy" available available again for future supply shocks.

I'm not sure if this will work in a world of declining oilsupplies. Is easily done now, on plateau. Higher efficiencies are eaten up if oilproduction goes down with about 2% a year together with economies that grow in countries where growth is possible.

I'm not sure what you mean.

In the case of carpooling wear and tear of cars slow down: most cars needing less often services. People spending less money, save more.

I'm not familiar with this. Could you give more info?

It is mentioned on Drumbeat of today. Just find on that page: take-off.

Unless, of course, we make oil obsolete, as we should.

Yes, that is what all the discussion is about. How much pain will it cause to diminish this gigantic amount of oil use ?

I'm not sure if this will work in a world of declining oilsupplies.

There are a lot of things that can be done. It's not just a question of replacing the ships. google Skysails.

More later, if I get a chance...

google Skysails.

A ship equipped with the current SkySails could consume from 10 to 35% less fuel.

First most will save the fuel with 40% by reducing the speed. I expect though that because of reduced economic activity (for various reasons) fuel demand will go down by itself.

Reducing speed is a good short term tactic, but other tactics which take a little longer are much cheaper - skysails, for instance.