Drumbeat: March 5, 2011

What about a revolution in oil dependency?

The repeated warnings that the world economy is relying on a dwindling resource lying deep down in the earth, underneath unstable states, are proving true before our very eyes. The popular uprising in Egypt and the civil war in Libya have sent prices soaring at gas stations. And this is nothing compared to the growing fear that Saudi Arabia, the most important state in the world oil economy, will also ignite in the flames of revolution. If the Saudi oil industry enters into a period of crisis and uncertainty, the soaring prices could undermine the world order.

Columnist Thomas L. Friedman has been sounding the alarm for years about "America's addiction to imported oil." Electric car entrepreneur Shai Agassi is busy developing an alternative to the black gold. But admonishing articles or an energy initiative are not enough: The priorities of the developed nations must change and they must make it their top priority to reduce their dependence on petroleum. There is no greater danger to their national security and prosperity than the current structure of the energy market.

Oil prices: Urgent steps needed to wean UK onto other energy sources, MPs say

Ministers will be ordered to adopt urgent measures to wean the country off oil, amid rising concern that the Libya crisis has left the economy exposed to a dramatic rise in fuel prices.

With fears growing that the cost of petrol could hit £2 a litre if instability in the Middle East persists and deepens, every government department will be told this week to comply with a new national "carbon plan" aimed specifically at "getting off the oil hook".

Why Would an Oil Industry Group Oppose Sanctions on Libya?

When President Obama announced earlier this week that his administration would be pursuing harsh sanctions against Muammar Qaddafi's Libyan government in response to its brutal backlash against Libyan protesters, most had to agree that it was the correct course of action.

Most, that is, except for USA*Engage, a coalition with a membership reported to include Halliburton, ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Shell.

Saudi Aramco Raises April Oil Prices for Asia, NW Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, raised official selling prices for all crude grades for customers in Asia and Northwest Europe for April shipments and cut prices for customers in the U.S.

Global stagflation is here to stay

All told, we've been beating the table on global stagflation since October. Now that consensus has figured out the inflation component as oil trades above $100 per barrel, our task is to figure out how to time consensus' uncovering of the bearish growth factor on the short side of equities. If 2008 is any guide, they will kick, scream, and buy every dip on the way down – provided we're headed there; ultimately, time and space will tell.

Economy so old that it's new

A deep and pervasive positive outlook is what makes The Economics of Happiness so great. Of course, the film surveys the grave problems that threaten globalized capitalism and make even its success seem like failure: income inequality, pollution, resource depletion and of course, depression and anomie.

But from start to finish, this film presents a vision of a better future beyond economic growth that is among the most convincing and credible that I've seen.

The food movement's role in revitalizing environmentalism

Environmentalism may not be dead yet. In recent months signs indicate that the faltering mainstream environmental movement is about to be resuscitated by, of all things, the contemporary food movement. Foodies to the rescue!

Richard Heinberg - Earth’s limits: Why growth won’t return - water

Limits to freshwater could restrict economic growth by impacting society in four primary ways: (1) by increasing mortality and general misery as increasing numbers of people find difficulty filling basic and essential human needs related to drinking, bathing, and cooking; (2) by reducing agricultural output from currently irrigated farmland; (3) by compromising mining and manufacturing processes that require water as an input; and (4) by reducing energy production that requires water. As water becomes scarce, attempts to avert any one of these four impacts will likely make matters worse with regard to at least one of the other three.

Arab unrest could double oil price: British minister

The price of a barrel of crude could double if the unrest in the Arab world deteriorates, oil trader turned British international development minister Alan Duncan warned Saturday.

Duncan, who has 30 years' business experience in the Gulf, told The Times newspaper that the price of a barrel of crude could top $200 (140 euros), well above the record high of $147 reached in July 2008.

At CERAWeek, Top Energy Leaders Meet As Oil Markets Feel Jitters

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- As many of the world's energy power providers gather in Houston next week for the IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference, a long-dormant ghost will rear its head: the specter of an oil-supply shock.

Our view: No-fly zone in Libya holds more risks than rewards

When a crisis like the one in Libya arises, replete with barbaric actions by a dictator against his own people, calls for U.S. military action follow like a spasmodic reflex. Americans see people in trouble, want to help and look to the military to deliver a quick, effective, cost-free blow. But that impulse rarely produces the desired result, which makes the chorus calling for a no-fly zone over Libya sound gratingly off-key, despite the good intentions and notable credentials of some of the advocates.

Opposing view: A moral obligation to intervene

It is in our interest to see the Libyan people free themselves from Gadhafi's brutal reign. We should thus explore all possible options to do so, including arming the opposition so they are not slaughtered by regime forces.

Blood and oil

The Philippines will not be exempted from the “blood and oil” paradigm if there should be a scramble for oil around the South China Sea that the Chinese claim is their territory.

Indeed, it may already have begun even if there is not a drop of oil in question. Only last Thursday, the Philippines protested the harassment of a department of energy research vessel by two Chinese gunboats. We may be entering into a dangerous phase in the Spratly islands dispute.

Nigeria drops charges against Halliburton, Cheney

ABUJA — Nigeria's anti-corruption agency said on Friday it had dropped bribery charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and oil services company Halliburton after the company agreed to pay a fine.

Iraq's largest oil refinery reopens after attack

Iraq's Oil Ministry spokesman says the country's largest refinery has reopened days after gunmen attacked the facility.

Asim Jihad tells The Associated Press the Beiji refinery resumed activities Friday morning.

Stopping coal at the coast

Plans to export more coal to China will only hurt efforts to combat climate change.

Waste Wells to Be Closed in Arkansas

Two oil and gas companies agreed to temporarily shut down wastewater disposal wells in Arkansas that some experts believe are connected to a recent swarm of earthquakes.

The State Oil and Gas Commission was scheduled to request the shutdowns at an emergency session on Friday morning, six days after Arkansas experienced its largest earthquake in 35 years.

The companies that own the wells, Chesapeake Energy and Clarita, agreed to the request before the meeting, said Shane Khoury, deputy director of the commission, though company officials did not support the theory, held by some state researchers, that the wells may be connected to the earthquakes.

Oil settles at highest level since Sept. 2008

NEW YORK — Oil prices rose past $104 a barrel to end the week at a 29-month high, as fighting in Libya intensified and the world's largest petroleum consumer, the U.S., reported that employers added nearly 200,000 new jobs in February.

Success on both sides sows fear of Libya civil war

TRIPOLI, Libya – Moammar Gadhafi loyalists swept into the opposition-held city closest to Tripoli on Saturday, tightening security around the regime-held capital. To the east, rebel forces captured a key oil port as the country veered toward civil war.

The contrasting fortunes of the two warring sides suggest that the conflict in Libya could last for weeks and maybe months, with neither side mustering enough military power to decisively defeat the other. The government is fighting fiercely to maintain its hold in Tripoli and surrounding areas and the rebels are pushing their front westward from their eastern stronghold.

Libya Unrest Holds Threat of Economic Toll for Italy

ROME — In response to the murderous tactics of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s militias against unarmed protesters, the United States and the European Union have announced steps to freeze the government’s assets, and the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into possible crimes against humanity.

But Italy — which gets nearly a quarter of its crude oil and 10 percent of its natural gas from Libya, has billions of dollars in lucrative contracts with the Libyan government and receives billions more in Libyan investments — has held back on freezing any assets. Officials say they are waiting for a “coordinated” response from the European Union about whether the measure applies to Libyan sovereign funds, a ruling that Italy said it hoped would come as soon as next week.

Kadhafi 'still boosted by millions of oil dollars'

LONDON (AFP) – Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's crumbling regime is still being boosted by millions of dollars of crude export revenues despite Western sanctions, the Financial Times reported Saturday.

The business newspaper, citing a senior Western oil official and traders, said that payments for oil exports were finding their way back to Libya's central bank, and possibly into Kadhafi's control.

Oil-Tanker Rates' 19-Fold Increase Shows Refiners' Rush for Libyan Crude

A 18-fold surge in oil-tanker rates in two weeks is a sign that European refineries are rushing to secure cargoes of crude from Libya as an uprising against leader Muammar Qaddafi disrupts supply.

China paper blasts Middle East protest movements

BEIJING – A Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper on Saturday attacked anti-government protest movements in the Middle East and dismissed the possibility of something similar happening in China.

Such movements have brought nothing but chaos and misery to their countries' citizens and are engineered by a small number of people using the Internet to organize illegal meetings, the Beijing Daily, published by the city's party committee, said in a front-page editorial.

Saudi Government Says Demonstrations, Marches Prohibited by Kingdom's Laws

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said that demonstrations, marches and sit-ins are “strictly” prohibited under the kingdom’s laws.

The Truth Behind Saudi Arabia’s “Spare Capacity”

There doesn’t appear to be any overt reason why the price popped today. But beneath the surface, we see a series of ominous developments from Saudi Arabia, the world’s No. 1 oil exporter. Events that could make $103 oil seem as quaint as an 8-track tape left in an abandoned car for the last 40 years.

Shell’s Nigerian Bonga Deepwater Oil Field Repairs to Take ‘Several Weeks’

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) said maintenance of its Nigerian deepwater Bonga oil and gas field, which accounts for about 10 percent of the country’s daily output, will last “several weeks.”

“We’re starting with a partial shutdown and then conclude with a total shutdown,” Precious Okolobo, the company’s spokesman in Lagos, said today in a phone interview.

Charting The Impact Of Prior Oil Crises, With A Particular Focus On The 350% Increase In Price Following The Yom Kippur War

Morgan Stanley has compiled a convenient table looking at the impact of all prior oil crises, and how that reflected in peak oil production loss as well as the price of oil on a monthly, 3 month and 6 months basis. And while the biggest crises of modern days has so far been the Yom Kippur War with a total loss of 5 million mmb/d resulting in a 350% increase in the price of oil 6 months following, should the Libyan crisis escalate and impact even half of Saudi production (keep an eye on the March 11 organized protests), the current MENA crisis will promptly win the first prize for biggest oil surge. Should the past 6 month record be passed, Brent will likely be trading around $350 around July.

Energy Security

Wind turbines may be the new face of energy in Kansas, but oil wells have been the consistent image of energy production. State-wide, more than 45,000 wells pumped nearly 40 million barrels of oil from the ground in 2010. In McPherson County alone, 615 operational wells produced just over 349,000 barrels of oil last year and a total of 209.6 million gallons since drilling started in the county in the early 1900s. According to data from the Kansas Geological Survey, Kansas has produced a cumulative 6.6 billion gallons of oil since the turn of the century.

U.S. oil supply in deep trouble

Now that chaos in the Middle East has taken hold it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. will be affected. This time it will not be a replay of the 1970s oil crisis where the whole problem went away in a few months.

There are numerous reasons for the U.S. oil supply to be impacted, the least of which may be the actual amount of oil still left in the ground.

Petrol price spike proves ‘peak oil’ predictions

Peak oil is here and although the details of the peak-oilers’ predictions may not bear out, the essence of it is happening. Increased price volatility of oil, increased prices of basic goods, social unrest. Maybe it’s time to read about peak oil in more detail to understand what’s going on around you and maybe it is time to seriously take action in every way you can.

Oil prices: Green light from the black stuff

It will come as little comfort to many motorists blenching at the pumps today at having to pay 130p or more a litre to fill up their cars with unleaded petrol, but the surge in the price of oil may not all be bad news. Potentially, at least, and if the right lessons are drawn, today's threat could be tomorrow's opportunity.

Record Gasoline Prices: $8 in Europe, $4 in California

The idea that something needs to be done in the face of a supply shock on top of overheating in China and peak oil constraints is ridiculous. Supply shocks are anything but inflationary.

Who is to blame for $4.00 a gallon gas? How about $10.00 a gallon?

Who can we blame for $4.00 a gallon? Answer: every last one of us cotton pickin' American gas guzzling 8-cylinder SUV drivers, trucks, trains, boats and planes! We burn 20 million barrels a day in the United States. The world's humans burn 84 million barrels daily. That's 29.9 billion barrels of oil annually worldwide! Whopping carbon footprint! Hey! Did you think a finite resource like "endless oil' could go on forever? That's like sucking on an "endless milkshake' straw at the local diner! It eventually runs dry and you suck on air.

'Animal Spirits' Poised to Go Positive

The big difference, as www.gregor.us and www.theautomaticearth.com never tire of reminding us, is peak oil. Unless a miraculous energy alternative is found, this “depression” is permanent.

Tidal Power Demonstration Projects May Get 50% Funding From India

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said it may provide financial incentives for as much as 50 percent of the cost for projects seeking to demonstrate how to produce electricity from ocean tides.

EnerNOC Surges After Federal Regulators Reject PJM Double-Counting Claims

EnerNOC Inc. (ENOC), an electricity demand- reduction service, jumped after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it won’t pursue penalties against such service providers that PJM Interconnection LLC said have double-counted some reductions.

News Corporation Is Carbon-Neutral, Murdoch Declares

The News Corporation, the media conglomerate and parent company of Fox News Channel, has gone carbon-neutral, fulfilling a goal set four years ago, Rupert Murdoch, the company’s chairman, announced this week in a companywide memo.

Danish Maersk Lines Cuts Shipping Emissions 50%

Shipping is going to need to use a lot less fuel if we still want to have international shipping in the carbon-constrained future that awaits. Even if polluters prevail and no climate laws get passed, world peak oil is lurking in our very near future, anyway.

So a smart company is looking now at a low carbon option in order to keep on shipping sustainably now that fossil fuel use must go down. Denmark’s Mærsk Line, which is the biggest container shipping company in the world is one company that is prepared.

China to Cap Energy Use at 4 Billion Tons of Coal by 2015, Xinhua Reports

China will cap total energy consumption at the equivalent of four billion tons of coal by 2015, Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing Zhang Guobao, former head of the National Energy Administration.

Energy use will rise by an average 4.24 percent annually over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015, Zhang said, according to Xinhua.

Behind China’s Shift on Energy and Growth

Interpreting shifts in China’s growth and resource use has long been a challenge, to say the least. A decade ago, some energy analysts and environmental groups were quick to conclude that an apparent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from coal burning proved China was capable of avoiding the western pattern of rising emissions in a growing economy.

Subsequent analysis found that much of the decline was the result of one-time changes in energy choices (like a sharp decline in household heating with coal).

Thunder Horse Update Okay, I googed in my last update. When I started gathering Thunder Hhorse data early 2009, Thunder Horse main field had one contract and Thunder Horse North had four. Since then Thunder Horse main field has added another contract and I failed to pick it up. But this time I am sure. I went over the contracts listed here: Deepwater Fields in the Gulf of Mexico (over 1000 feet) They are listed in alphabetical order. N. Thunder Horse has five contracts, (only 4 are producing), and Thunder Horse has 2. The data in the graph below is now complete.

The Thunder Horse main that I missed is a small one. It peaked at 49,792 bp/d in October and produced 39,007 bp/d in December, dropping almost 22 percent in two months. The other Main contract, the big one, peaked at 167,651 bp/d in January of 2009 and this past December it produced 21,835 bp/d, a decline of 87 percent.

Thunder Horse North recovered from the maintenance last month but are still below what they produced two months ago. Thunder Horse Main continued its devastating decline however. Thunder Horse Main peaked in January of 2009 at 167,651 barrels per day. In December of 2010 it produced 60,842 barrels per day, a dedline of 106,809 barrels per day or a decline of 64 percent.

Thunder Horse production from June 2008 thru December 2010 in thousands of barrels per day. The top line is the total for both fields, Main and North. Combined production in December was 189 thousand barrels per day.

Thunderhorse Dec 2010

Ron P.

Thanks, Ron.

Insofar as I know, BP has still not publicly acknowledged the crash in oil production from the main producing structure from their "Poster Child" for deepwater exploration, the main producing structure at Thunder Horse. So, IMO it's still a case of attempting to "Hide the decline."

Good post by Mish about the trend in "big-box" retailers.

Big-Box Retailers Reconsider Size; Saturation, Online Sales Affect Store Expansion Plans and Hiring Needs


Online shopping not only has state departments of revenue pulling their hair out over lost sales tax revenue, it also has retailers like Best Buy, Sears, KMart, and Home Depot questioning, the merits of the big-box mentality itself.

We've discussed what would happen to the "big-box" stores faced with rising fuel costs, less consumer-spending and online sales competition before. Seems like reality is starting to sink in.

Last Tuesday it was announced that Blackstone group would buy 588 shopping malls from Centro Properties Group, a distressed Australian mall owner. These are mainly strip malls, typically anchored by a supermarket or a discount store, with a few medium sized stores for drugstores, etc. 79 are in Texas. Judging by a sample of their mall maps, they may be the largest provider of space to nail salons, tanning salons, and fitness establishments in the country. There are quite a few spaces for rent in case the market isn't saturated.

For Texas: http://www.centroprop.com/PropertySearchResults.asp?State=45

With online sales going like it is, it would seem that "The Postman" will play a key role in the future :)

In a post peak world, it makes perfect sense to have goods "batched" and delivered, just like it used to be before everyone got personal transport.

Re: News Corporation Is Carbon-Neutral, Murdoch Declares

Sounds like another lie from Murdoch. OK, so PV will provide half the electricity at peak production for his Wall Street Journal campus in NJ, which sounds great. How about the other half and what about days without much sun? How do they heat their buildings in the middle of Winter? Do their employees still fly on jet planes as part of their business efforts? And, look at all the SUV's in the parking lot. Show me the data...

E. Swanson

Murdoch, aside from the Koch brothers, is one of the main, mortal enemies of the climate change movement and/or activism.

Essentially all his media takes a skeptical, at best, stance to the subject.
For him to declare this sounds more like an fallacious statement filled with holes rather than a genuine claim to fame.

Let him lie.

For me the interesting admission is that carbon levels matter.

I imagine this is causing great consternation among the corporatist minions he employs. Both sides are probably upset: the anti-AGW types are probably really freaking out; and the global-warming-is-good clan are likely contemplating an earlier move to the PR department of the coal industry's trade association than they have been planning, so that they continue to be motivated by the knowledge that they are serving Gawd's plan.

True enough. To have to say 'we are Carbon neutral' it is important enough to consider and act on the matter.

Savor the win.

I don't care for Murdoch, but perhaps in this case we should cut him a little slack.

It's not likely any company anywhere bigger than a breadbox is carbon neutral by strict standards;the standard applied must be the same ones used by other companies claiming carbon neutrality.

There is a possibility that given the current regulatory and tax environment, his green eyeshade guys have found it worth while, maybe even highly profitable , to get with the program to the extent necessary to claim neutrality.

We should also consider the possibility that his private perceptions and his public statements are as far speratated as the East and the West;maybe he is smart enough to be hedging his bets while the hedging is still good.

Strictly speaking, it probably wouldn't be that big a committment to "giterdone" for his company;so far as I know all they manufacture in house is mostly a little wind and hot air. ;)

My personal opinion is that he has probably managed to bend the truth into a pretzel without actually technically lying .

My personal opinion is that he has probably managed to bend the truth into a pretzel without actually technically lying .

Whether his statement is "technically" a lie or not isn't the point. To me, it's that his corporation has consistently produced one sided propaganda that has resulted in the rejection of the science behind the problem of global warming by many of his readers and viewers. Just a few days ago, FOX NATION presented a video from Inhofe's crew that presented as fact claims which have been thoroughly debunked. Actions speak louder than words, don't you think? Which is more important, a PR release to his workers or the continual stream of denialist disinformation (and, yes, lies) from his media empire which are spread all over the Earth?

E. Swanson

My personal opinion is that he has probably managed to bend the truth into a pretzel without actually technically lying .


Roger Ailes Allegedly Pressured Judith Regan To Lie To Federal Investigators, Lawsuit Said: NYT


Fox News gets okay to misinform public, court ruling

Hey guys, I'm with you all the way-did you miss the smiley faces which I use when attempting a joke?Or the reference to manufactured hot air and wind?

But there is a point to be made -even habitual liars tell the truth sometimes, its almost impossible not to, occasionally.

Another thing is that folks who are constantly on the attack fail to realize all too often is that Joe Sixpack doesn't pay very close attention to the news.

A hell of a lot of what people like us see as unquestioned truth is simply radical opinion to most people.So long as Fox mianly sticks to the accepted dogma , they will be seen as credible by the country at large.

We should therefore be careful when we accuse Fox, etc, of lying, and confine comments to specific instances and issues, instead of going generic.

Otherwise we are going to turn off a lot of potential converts to our position.

If I myself were still a cornucopian technofreak freemarketer, which would have been a fair descrition of me at one time, attacking my PHILOSOPHY directly would only have the effect of hardening my attitude.

But being technically ans scientifically trained in agriculture, which means I got the first two years of chemistry, biology, etc, plus many higher level course in the sciences, I became convinced when I started looking into the overall environmental/ resource situation from a reasoned point of view.

Nobody-absolutely nobody-will ever change thier minds because they hear themselves being described, indirectly, as fools for listening to Fox or Limbaugh, etc.

People , like contrary little children suspicious of a new food, cannot be force fed the truth-the trick is to catch them when they are hungry, and allow them to see other people enjoying the new food -or truth.

Sometime back I devoted a lot of electrons here to getting this same point across in respect to religion, but I finally gave it up as a lost cause;it seems the audience is more concerned with being right on principle and going quite possibly going down in defeat, rather than perthaps recruiting millions of fundamentalists to the cause of conservation of the environment.

Time is of the essence -we don't have a couple more generations to wait for a better educated citizenry-and no gaurantee that if we had the time, we would get that better educated citizen anyway.

Every regular here with a good memory should know that I'm a Darwinian all the way-and also that I fly under false colors here because I live in the heart of the Bible Belt in a religious community and that my family are all mostly Baptists of one sort or another.

So I attend services , go to lots of funerals, weddings, have serious conversations with lots of seriously pious old folks , etc.

I am acquainted with the dogma of the branches of fundamentalist Christian churches with significant nunbers of followers.

All of them EMPHASIZE certain teachings, among them frugality, brotherhood, tolerance, good husbandry of such resources as come the way of thier followers.They do generally believe the earth was put here for our benefit, but only a VERY few believe we cannot seriously harm it it, or destroy it.

They emphasize that the world will end, eventually, but tiny splinter groups pretend to know when-all others emphasize that the end is coming , but that the date is unknown.

Any preacher who preached mismanagement and abuse of the Earth due to the short term expectation of end times would be laughed straight out of his pulpit in 99.999 % of all the churches in this country.

There are scriptures in the Bible that can be used to support almost any course of action that seems prudent or desirable at the moment-according to the situation under consideration.

These pious old men and women can find justification for taking in a homeless homosexual, or stoning him, as they desire, for example.

Most of the commentary I see that reflects a contemptous opinion of such people reflects a rather shallow acquaintance with the the culture -opinions perhaps derived from reading cherry picked accounts of the shenanigans of splinter groups, which are very popular easy stories to find and write up, if you are a reporter.

Surely the regulars here ARE aware of the way the msm makes it's living?!Selling sensationalism and advertising go hand in hand.

I have often seen references to snake handlers , for instance-but the VAST majority of Christians have never seen or met anyone who follows this practice, and never will;they will never even MEET ANYBODY WHO HAS MET ANYBODY with personal knowledge of this practice.

But it DOES feel daxxxd good to vent, doesn't it? ;)

Protests demanding economic reforms by Oman's ruler have reached a key oil region, AP reports

Workers have staged a sit-in at a main oil field in Haima, about 300 miles (500km) south-west of the capital, Muscat, demanding more state investments in the area, government officials have told the news agency.

The Times reports that continuing unrest in the Arab world could push the price of crude oil to US$250 and double the price of petrol to £2 a litre.


Saudis mobilise thousands of troops to quell growing revolt

Saudi Arabia's worst nightmare – the arrival of the new Arab awakening of rebellion and insurrection in the kingdom – is now casting its long shadow over the House of Saud. Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.

The opposition is expecting at least 20,000 Saudis to gather in Riyadh and in the Shia Muslim provinces of the north-east of the country in six days, to demand an end to corruption and, if necessary, the overthrow of the House of Saud.


As an addition, and mea culpa to Leanan and the mods if this has already been added(I didn't see it) in previous Drumbeats, but Steve LeVine has an interesting post on the oil situation and especially on spare capacity, SPR and how to bring oil prices down(theoretically):

How to moderate oil prices

No, we are not facing what these two senators suggest, which is a supply shortage. Even if we were, the huge reserve would not influence gasoline prices. The single factor that would calm the markets would be more surplus production capacity, in other words not more oil, but the capacity to produce more oil.

Read the rest: http://oilandglory.foreignpolicy.com/blog/92421

Fantastic! As much of the supposed spare OPEC capacity comes from cutbacks following the economic crash then OPEC could simply reduce production by another 2 million barrels per day. That would give them an extra 2 mb/day of surplus capacity and the price would come down. As there is no supply shortage according to LeVine, then clearly there is scope for OPEC to cut production further as spare capacity is more important than actual production as I've just discovered from Steve's fantastic analysis.

I think there are three magic words you might have missed:

'surplus production capacity'

But maybe your insightful reading of his post gazes into his soul, deftly recognising that he really thinks that cutting production will somehow give us spare capacity and lower prices, despite the inconvenient little fact that he has never actually written that.

Even as irony the entire comment strikes me as ignorant since you essentially misread him.

This doesn't mean he's right, but criticism is usually best when it's based on a basic understanding on what one is criticising. Otherwise one might risk looking like a fool.

Right now OPEC is supposed to have about 6 million barrels per day of "surplus production capacity". LeVine argues that adding more spare capacity but not actually producing more oil would bring the price down. That's a load of nonsense. What have I missed?

The way to bring oil prices down would be for OPEC to put an extra 3 mb/day of light, sweet crude on the market (which according to them they can easily do leaving still plenty spare capacity) but won't because they say there is no demand.

tow - Let me chime in with a small thought. Let's say the KSA could put 4 million bopd into the marketplace overnight: why would we assume it would bring down the price of oil? A bit of a trick question. I didn't say at what price: the KSA is under no obligation to offer any of that oil for less than what the buyers are paying today. IOW: from the KSA -:Here's extra oil we'll sell to anyone....for $100/bbl". So the KSA could honestly say they've brought all their spare capacity to the market place. At that point it's up to the market place to buy it.

So let’s make the next assumption: very few of the buyers take any of this excess capacity at $100/bbl because they know they can't market the products because the buyers have reached their purchase power limit. So there are the cold hard facts: the KSA has put all their spare capacity up for sale and the consumers are buying all they can. And the energy costs to the consumers have not dropped a penny.

Of course, to get lower product prices requires the KSA to lower their crude price to take market share from other exporters. Sure...why wouldn't they do that? Maybe the same reason Ford Motor won't produce twice as many vehicles this year as they project they can sell at an acceptable profit margin. In order to sell that "excess production" Ford will have to drop prices (and profit margins) significantly to take market share away from other companies. All those who think this would be a good business decision for Ford Motor please raise your hand. OK, now everyone who thinks this would be a good biz model for the KSA to follow please raise your hands.

Hmmm...I don't see any hands raised. So, does it really matter how much spare capacity the KSA has if they're are not willing to sell it at a discount in order to take market share away from other producers? Heck, if that’s the logic then we don’t even need the KSA to expand production capacity. Let’s just ask them pretty please to start selling all their production at, let’s say, $50/bbl. Is that any different than asking them to bring more capacity onto the market and use that to take market share away from other exporters by lowering their prices? I really can’t see the difference in logic.

I suppose the short answer is that putting more oil onto the market at times of need to keep the oil price down was always what Saudi Arabia did when playing the role of swing producer. Just, as westexas frequently points out, they haven't really swung up on any large scale since about the same time their stock market mysteriously collapsed 5 years ago.

And, as the Saudis themselves still seem to say that $70-$80 per barrel is about the right price, they could just choose to sell at that price but I'm not holding my breath :)

My standard Saudi analysis:


The key question, which the MSM largely continues to studiously ignore, is why did the Saudis show increasing net oil exports from 2002 to 2005 (7.1 mbpd to 9.1 mbpd) as oil prices rose (from $26 to $57, average annual US spot)--but then show declining net oil exports from 2005 to 2008 (9.1 mbpd to 8.4 mbpd) as oil prices rose from $57 to $100?

I think the issue of KSA's excess production capacity and their willingness to use it is much more problematic than is often discussed even in this forum. It isn't just a question of the lies, if lies they are, distorting the analysis that we, governments, businesses etc make about the resource and the economy going forward. It is that the status of 'Swing Producer' conveys a huge amount of political power to he who possesses it. International political power. Once having tasted this power, it is understandable that, particularly in a closed society the temptation would be overwhelming to perpetuate it even after the source of that power had dwindled away. And in a closed society you might have every reason to believe that you could get away with it. When you could resort to a number of known heroic methods to increase production from tired old fields for some time. Any government or organization or individual who takes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's pronouncements about their resource seriously without independent third person verification, is a fool.

I find it interesting how a swing producer with vast spare reserves of cheap oil, and huge spare capacity, can be doing the following as highlighted in the Offshore mag article last year..


Aramco describes its offshore Manifa increment as an oil “mega-project”. It is designed to start production of 500,000 b/d of Arabian heavy crude by June 2013, rising to 900,000 b/d by January 2024. The aim of the program is to offset natural production declines at other fields.

Manifa is in shallow waters close to the Kingdom’s east coast, north of Jubail. Development entails addition of new central processing facilities for gas/oil separation, wet crude oil handling and stabilization, gas gathering and compression, and water disposal.

The program also calls for construction of a causeway across Manifa Bay, drilling islands for oil producer and water injector wells, and offshore platforms.

Another project, classified as a “Maintain Potential Program”, involves expanding offshore facilities at the Safaniyah field. In 2009, Aramco added 27 new platforms to the existing complex, connected 95 new wells and started installing a 42-in. (106-cm) diameter crude oil trunk line.

One of the critical additions was a tie-in platform with topsides weighing over 3,000 metric tons (3,307 tons), designed to gather oil from and supply electrical power to 12 production platforms with 120 wells.

Aramco is pressing for more local involvement in its offshore program. One yard in Dammam is fabricating five platforms for the Berri and Zuluf fields.

The two opposing theories on Saudi production, seem to be the words that say there is plenty and nothing to worry about, or Aramco actions of building more offshore production capacity (expensive), then Occams razor should be used, the simplest answer is usually the right one.

Actions speak louder than words.

Hmm, the Ryanair (cheapy airline) model of price allocation. KSA prices its oil at a steadily increasing series of price points, all the way from $50 to $200. If you don't get the cheap oil, you have to buy at the more expensive price, until you can't afford it. Bonus points for selling the worst seats (worst oil) at the lowest prices. Even more bonus points if your cheap price isn't really that cheap (the Aussie version of the Ryanair model).

I can see how that would enable them to say "we have xMbpd of surplus capacity that nobody will buy", whilst not actually having to have it practically to hand.

Might even be what they are doing, in effect. Certainly would explain their previous statements about 'no buyers'.

I think there is an economic theory around that says how you optimise such a system for maximum profit - it would be interesting to see what 12Mbppd of production would correspond to in price charged.

Jeez Leiten;
This glimmering promise of "Surplus Production Capacity" is spoken of so often, it's surprising you didn't see it between the lines in Undertow's comments.

"In the second age of OIL, (ol' be praised, in thy mercy..) the Saviour advanced in the Glowing form of a One-Horned beast, all-knowing and beneficent, of cloven hoof and sparkling mane, radiant in the hue of a Great Strawberry Frappuchino, and even the puddles at her feet shone in Rippling Rainbows of the Great Provider.."

I thought we all just knew this.. and WestTexas is still earnestly polishing his best boots for that date with Julia Roberts, which he promises he has the absolute capacity to fulfill.

Hi jokuhl, if you've read my posts, you'd noticed I have often called into the question the validity of the so-called 'Saudi spare capacity'.

I haven't endorsed LeVine's views in any way, saying they are true or correct. I called them interesting. I did, however, react to a reaction which was based on a total misreading.


No it wasn't a misreading. However I was clearly being sarcastic.

I got it. But I have to admit that sarcasm is often not recognized and when it is, it generally is as welcome as a fly in one's soup.

My favourite fridge magnet: "Tact is for people who aren't witty enough to be sarcastic".

I suppose I should be concerned about my middling wit producing middling sarcasm. Still, I refuse to use the Sarconal tag, which seems to me to degrade one's effort.

Saudis mobilise thousands of troops to quell growing revolt

Do they really have thousands of troops?
I say that because Gaddafi seemed to have a good army, certainly no lack of material and yet his soldiers are as incompetent as the demonstrators who have learn their fighting skills watching movies.

One factor usually overlooked is that the Koran forbids Muslims to fight other Muslims. That's why historically they had to resort to slave Christian soldiers from the Balkans and other parts of the East, specially the Turks with their Janissaries and Mamelucks.
A small country like Israel has held itself against armies of millions of Arabs, besting them innumerable times. They look like a lot of loud mouths.

If the quality of the armies in the al-Maghreb is like the Libyans there will be no replay of 711 AD, you know: Tarik and Muza and the invasion of Spain after Count Don Julian opened the gates of Ceuta to the armies of the Arabs.

One factor usually overlooked is that the Koran forbids Muslims to fight other Muslims.

I really didn't know that was in there. They have been doing almost nothing else for the last 1200 years. True, they have fought others, and conquered a lot of territory in the process. But I would wager that two out of every battles that Muslims have fought in the last 1200 years have been against other Muslims. It has been mostly Shia against Sunni but the Iran-Iraqi war was mostly Iranian Shia against against an Iraqi army with a mixture of both.

The Iran-Iraqi war was no minor skirmish, far more Muslims were killed by other Muslims in that war than any other Muslim war in the last century. Honestly I cannot see where that prohibition has really had much effect on Muslim behavior.

Ron P.

It's also in there, early on, and in so many words, that there must be no coercion in matters of religion. But just try and hold a service or observance of any other religion in, say, Saudi Arabia, and see where it gets you.

One factor usually overlooked is that the Koran forbids Muslims to fight other Muslims.

That problem can be easily solved. One group of Muslims simply declares that the other group of Muslims are apostates and kafir (infidels). In Pakistan's tribal areas it is not uncommon for two groups of Muslims to have gunfights - in which a lot of people are killed - over the sighting of the moon.

Well first off the Saudi's have over 200,000 total active forces. 75,000 army, 3000 marines, an air force, national guard and navy. The army has some combat experience. There are also the military intelligence folks who you do not want to mess with. The army has over 300 M1 tanks and some 450 M60 tanks and a few hundred other tanks. Not to mention about a 1000 armored fighting vehicles such as Bradley's. Hundreds of artillery pieces and rocket launchers, thousands of anti-tank weapons and attack helicopters.

It would be a mistake to think that they are not quite capable of inflicting serious harm on folks threatening the regime. They are good fighters when they need to be or are motivated for religious reasons. They may not be as disciplined as our forces. But they are not cowards or lacking in aggressiveness. And it is not like they would be fighting the US army either.

WY - Perhaps all true. OTOH the Shah of Iran had one of the most powerful armies on the planet including the 3rd largest attack helicopter fleet in the world. As it turned out that didn't save his butt. And he never hesitated to kill his opponents even out in the open. Something we haven't seen the King of the KSA willing to do. At least not yet.


There are not a lot of parallels between the situation in Iran with the Shah and the Kingdom at this time. I would be hesitant to draw any conclusions from that comparison.

If the Saudi's decide to put down Shia unrest in the country using a lot of violence there will not be any meaningful opposition to that from the Sunnis who make up the general population. The Shia will not appreciate it but will be unable to counter it either. The Saudi forces and intell services should be capable of handling the situation.

If it comes to the point that there is enough unrest that Saudi has the potential to become really destabilized, that actually does threaten the global economy in ways that Libya never can. We, and any number of other countries, would be more than willing to "help" stabilize the country. Human rights and democracy be damned so to speak.

WY - All true. Just as true as it was for the Shah. That's the thing about predicting the impossible. I also can't imagine the circumstance where the KSA would be over taken by any internal force. Same as I thought about the Shah. In fact, given his willingness to kill anyone any time I would have sooner bet on him. Who would have thought the Russians would have given up the Wall without firing a shot?

Guess that's the concept of Black Swans was developed: to explain how impossible things do happen.

No argument there. But given KSA's relative critical place in the energy infrastructure I also cannot imagine that the Powers that Be would allow it to go the way of Iran if they thought that had any possibility of happening.

The greatest danger to what seems to be the current perception of our national security interests by those people would seem to be a true loss of control or cooperative access to Saudi oil. We would not be able to risk having a regime in control in SA that would use oil as a weapon against the industrial world. So we would not let an Iran type of Black Swan event happen.

Not to say that what we would end up with might not be worse. But they would take the chance. IMHO

Wyoming, I think your opinion on this subject is very valid.


We, and any number of other countries, would be more than willing to "help" stabilize the country.

Remember Bush gave that one member of the Bin Laden family what he was looking for - the US out of the KSA.

Going back in won't be seen as a net positive.

It would be better for the nation-states to figure a way off of the cheap hydrocarbon market we have.

Surely you realize that US forces never left KSA. Right? We still have a heavy presense there, massive amounts of prepositioned equipment, running command centers, trainers in country, etc.

That is the main reason that UBL is still fighting us. He told us in the mid-90's to get out or he was coming after us and the royal family. He meant it and he did it. No matter what you say about the man, he has been a man of his word beyond the comprehension of most all of us. He fights us because we are in his holy land and he will not quit until we leave. And we wont. And he wont. It is kill or be killed.


I imagine that the number of U.S. military troops in KSA today is far smaller than prior to ~ 2003 when we withdrew most forces and put them elsewhere.

I wouldn't be surprised if the number of actual active duty/reserve/guard U.S. troops is <1000 in KSA. And they probably are kept squirreled away in compounds well out of sight from KSA citizens...I would bet that if they venture out onto the economy it is in civvies and very discreet and on KSA's sensitivites terms.

Of course we have sold KSA lots and lots of our very good war equipment, and I imagine we have lucrative maintenance and training contracts with KSA military folks...but these people will be mostly KTRs (contractors) who are in civvies, stay in special compounds, and interact discreetly when they are out and about on the KSA economy. Likely they work their arses off, bank their bank back home, and go to Bahrain to blow off some steam and have some drinks occasionally, safely out of the Kingdom so as to not offend any holy sensitivities.

We also have embassy folks, and other folks from USG (U.S. Government) who are not DoD. Probably some teachers and doctors serving both U.S. nationals and wealthy KSA folks.

In sum, it seems that we got OBL's message loud and clear and beet feet with most of our overt armed forces out of KSA to other undisclosed locations from where they can get their missions accomplished.

Well not exactly undisclosed. The current Central command structure is over in Doha,Qatar.

Facilities in SA are mothballed or being used by the Saudi's.

I am refraining from talking about the specific, accurate locations/disposition of U.S. military forces in the ME. So, I have no comment.

Surely you realize that US forces never left KSA. Right?


Last U.S. unit leaves Saudi Arabia
VFW Magazine, Nov, 2003 by Tim Dyhouse
The only remaining U.S. Air Force unit departed Saudi Arabia Aug. 26, ending more than a decade of military operations there. The 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing was deactivated at Prince Sultan Air Base, but dozens of U.S. military advisers will remain in the kingdom, according to the Pentagon. "The end of the Iraq War and Saddam Hussein's government mean the American military mission here is over," said Air Force Maj.
Gen. Robert J. Elder, Jr., at the deactivation ceremony.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

Not exactly accurate.

After that departure there were still elements of the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing and the 64th Air Expeditionary Group remaining. About 500 men. Maybe those units are not officially still posted there. But there are numbers of US military personnel there providing training to their air force and other units. There is also the presence of many other USG personnel pursuing other missions.

Not exactly accurate.

One can opt to believe that OBL is still alive also.

There were press releases back in the 2003 timeframe about the departures.

If you have press releases that support 500 man claim, do make them.

Well if you are one who believes that UBL is dead we probably wont be able to have an intelligent conversation much longer. I personally know folks who are still actively looking for him. Thye are convinced he is alive and they know more than you or I do.

Here is some data for you. As of 2010:
Riyadh Air Base
Located in the Saudi capital city, Riyadh Air Base provides both combat and training operations run jointly by both the US and Saudi military. The site is home to a United States Military Training Mission, which pairs Royal Saudi Air Force personnel with their US counterparts to provide operational and logistical training. This training program is also in place in several other air bases throughout Saudi Arabia, including King Abdul Aziz Air Base in the east. The airfield is currently used mainly for C-130 operations with the majority of F-15 combat operations taking place at King Abdul Aziz Air Base, which is situated 300 miles east on the Persian Gulf.

and here is a link for jobs for contractors at US facilities in SA. It lists 15 facilities. from 2010


here is a link describing the Eskan facility. from 2010


Your position is reflecting the technical reality that there are US Military on every continent. And such a reality means there will never be a lack of military in KSA so long as both the KSA and the US Military exists.

If your job is to hunt for someone, you have a vested interest in believing that someone is alive so you can keep your job. Gotta keep Emmanuel Goldstein round....

Do they really have thousands of troops?

My favorite source for information on the Middle East is Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment website. I learned a lot about Saudi Arabia from the following guest post:

Can You Pass The Saudi Arabia Quiz?

"Relatively small in number, in order to minimize the domestic risk of a republican coup d’état of the kind that brought down monarchies in Egypt, Iraq, and Libya, it [the Saudi military] is impressively armed with equipment bought at prohibitive prices in what has proved to be a bonanza for Western cannon merchants. Thus, for a population four times the size of that of neighboring Jordan, the Saudi kingdom has barely twice as many personnel in its armed forces, but it spends thirty-three times what the Hashemite kingdom spends on its own military budget. … Much of Riyadh’s most advanced weaponry is ‘pre-positioned’ so as to be available for eventual use by the U.S. troops… It is an open secret that the huge airport at Jeddah is not designed merely for the transit of pilgrims to Mecca.”

yet his soldiers are as incompetent as the demonstrators who have learn their fighting skills watching movies.

I seriously doubt the Libyan armed forces were really that incompetant. We may be seeing other things playing out. Like army members not wanting to kill their own citizens, and deliberately botching the mission, or doing the absolute minum necessary to avoid being shot. Also thay may have hastily replaced those whose loyalties they were uncertain about, possibly with untrained foreigners. Replace say 2/3rd of a combat unit with untrained (and motivated only by profit) mercenaries, and see what that does to group cohesion/morale.

The Eqyptian and Syrians armies which took of Israel in 67 and 73, were not incompetant by any means. They weren't as good as the Israelis, in either training or equipment quality, but they weren't bad either. I'd bet they could have crushed any world war two army.

yet his soldiers are as incompetent as the demonstrators

"His"? I understood many of the fighters are imports from other nation-states.

They are "a pile of money"'s fighters. Woe be if the pile goes away.

gotta wonder about that pile of money going away. Yes, people are condemming Kaddafi, but the reality is that a lot of people (KSA, the west, etc) have a vested interest in the status quo in terms of oil and immigration....I wonder how much secret aid is being routed to the loyalists? Tough call, given that picking the loser can sting for a while.

There were rumors of Standard Oil being part of the reason the US of A was in Vietnam and the bomb drops in the jungles of Cambodia were used to do the seismographic imaging for oil in that area. (But I've never seen a FOIA that backs these claims)

Maine on the Brink

Maine is facing the most serious challenge in her history, an impending catastrophe which threatens our economy and the very viability of our state as a place to live and work.

The challenge is the price of energy, and specifically, the price of oil, which is the basic building block our entire economy. It’s no secret that gasoline and heating oil prices are going up, and very few people think the end is in sight. What isn’t so well known is the impact on Maine.

Here are the stark figures — for every dollar that gasoline and heating oil go up, almost a billion dollars disappear from the Maine economy over the course of a year. That’s a billion dollars that Maine people don’t have to spend at the mall, the car dealer, the doctor’s office or for food.

See: http://new.bangordailynews.com/2011/03/04/opinion/maine-on-the-brink/?re...


Thanks for putting this in, Paul.

It should be noted that the Author is our ex-governor, Angus King, an independent who is also very visibly involved in 'Maine Wind' (is that the right name?) .. trying to develop a number of windpower projects in the state.

I'm certainly in favor of wind, and I don't doubt his sincerity, but I'm a little concerned that with Angus as the messenger in this case, it makes for some very easy counterarguments for readers who will only see 'conflict of interest', and not a genuine public concern.

He's not concealing the issue or his advocacy, but you know how the challengers are.. they're all pro-business until the other side has any leather in the game. Then all of the sudden, poor dirty energy companies become the victims of heartless assaults.

In 1998, the average Maine family spent about 4 percent of its income on energy (electricity, heating and transportation). Today, that percentage is almost 15 percent...

...Every year, we send almost $5 billion in fossil fuel costs out of state — roughly twice the state’s annual budget.

... Within 50 miles of shore, for example, Maine has the equivalent of 60 nuclear power plants worth of wind, after accounting for wind’s intermittency. Although it will take some time to develop this offshore potential, on-shore wind is available now.

...If you don’t like wind, that’s fine, but just tell us which other box to check: stay with oil, a coal plant, more out-of-state natural gas, Hydro Quebec (whose recent contracts are pegged to the price of natural gas and would require major new transmission corridors) or maybe a nuclear plant. These options will still ship most of our energy dollars out of state.

..anybody want to see the State of Denial in Maine, look at the comments section there. Brutal.. there's so much resentment that it's almost impossible to get a discussion happening where it's not embroiled in old bad blood.

Hi Bob,

There have been a remarkable number of highly critical comments posted in just the five or so hours that this article has been available on-line. You sometimes wonder as you skim through these comments if there's more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye.

I expect electricity will ultimately displace much of the fuel oil we consume today. Electric thermal storage heaters combined with off-peak rates are one option and air source heat pumps are another.

You net roughly 33 kWh of heat from a gallon of fuel oil at 82% AFUE; at $3.50 a gallon, that works out to be about $0.106 per kWh(e). I don't know what other charges may apply, but Bangor Hydro's off-peak ETS rate is $0.02225 per kWh (source: http://www.bhe.com/data/pdf/rate_schedules/2009/A/page3.pdf).

Assuming you pay $0.16 per kWh for electricity, a high efficiency ASHP with a HSPF of 9.0 would supply heat at the equivalent of fuel oil priced at $2.00 a gallon, and if you opt for an ultra high efficiency model such as a Fujitsu 12RLS (12.0 HSPF), your cost falls to just $1.50 per gallon.


I made a comment in the viper's pit, and think I woke up a ringer. You or Anybody got some sage words about N.Gas in N.Scotia where he's talking about Sable Island as the Savior of the Province?

Ol' Blueeyes:
Sorry, Mr. Fiske, but we do not have a resource shortage here in the US or North America. I include North America because Canada and Mexico are the top two oil and gas exporting countries to the US and part of NAFTA. What we DO HAVE is the lack of political will to responsibly develop known resources and even allow exploration of potential resources. Look at what a treasure Prudhoe Bay, which you cited, has been to the US economy, yet we do not tap the resources in ANWAR. When out country starts doing this so we can obtain energy-dense fuel for our economy, then I might entertain subsidizing the likes of Mr. King and his useless gigantic pinwheels.

Ever since Santa Barbara, we have not allowed oil and gas exploration on the continental shelf. Maine sits right next to Nova Scotia, a province whose economy is prospering since the development of Sable Island, where just 6 platforms tap into 3 trillion cubic feet of known reserves of natural gas. We could have similar resources in the Gulf of Maine but we are not even allowed to find out and exploration technology has changed immensely in the last 40 years. I would prefer 6 natural gas platforms to the 10,000 or so floating wind turbines cluttering up the Gulf of Maine that is Habib Dagher's outrageously expensive pipedream.

Harry Reid single-handedly has kept Yucca Mt. from being completed and put in operation as planned so we could responsibly handle nuclear waste. Yet countries like France not only operate safe nuclear power plants that generate huge megawattage but also reprocess the fuel. I would prefer 100 new generation nuclear power plants with huge output than relying on wind turbines because meeting our future electrical needs with wind will mean turbines across America the Beautiful "from sea to shining sea" and turning "purple mountains majesty" into turbines as far as the eye can see.

So, politically spineless we are to find real cost effective solutions for energy to drive the economy and lifestyle we have achieved as the greatest nation ever. Instead, we pour precious tax dollars into a lousy, physics-challenged technology like wind power. Its bad economics and bad public policy. Instead of being an economics statesman, Mr. King chooses to force upon us the least effective option because he and his cronies can make quick bucks at the expense of the taxpayers, with devastating results for the beauty and natural resources he promoted so much when he was Governor. Shame on King for being a charletan. Thank goodness we now has a Governor who said during the election regarding energy policy that all options are on the table and decisions will be made based on cost effectiveness and what is good for the people and the business climate of the state.

my emphases..

(Typing with cruddy hands as I just got home from that precious midnight>3am call from a Tenant who had a waterpipe blow up in his apartment.. what should I charge myself for these midnight calls?)

Hi Bob,

I'm afraid I know very little about our province's natural gas production and potential reserves but I'm sure someone like RMG can give you the real deal. Certainly this CBC news story from July, 2010 would suggest all is not rosy: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/07/21/ns-natural-ga...

The Royal Bank has a short blurb here: http://www.rbc.com/economics/market/pdf/ns.pdf, but if you look at the chart you can clearly see a steady downward trend since 2008.

You might also suggest that this person take a boo at page 16 of this report: http://dclh.electricalandcomputerengineering.dal.ca/enen/2011/ERG201102.pdf Now that's about as scary a picture as they come.

Thank you for being the sole voice of reason in a sea of subterfuge and duplicity and good luck with the midnight plumbing!

Addendum: For an in-depth look at displacing fuel oil with wind generated electricity, see: http://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/13181/Muralidhar,A...


Yes, Nova Scotia is on the steep downward side of the natural gas production curve. Production at the Sable Island offshore field is in steep decline and ExxonMobile intends to shut it in and abandon it in the not-too-distant future. They have decided not to develop the satellite fields as uneconomic.

The only other gas field offshore Nova Scotia is the Deep Panuke field which EnCana expects to bring on production this year. It should last about 13 years, and then it will be game over for Nova Scotia natural gas.

Almost all of the natural gas from Nova Scotia was exported to New England and New York. I think NS missed its window of opportunity to aggressively build a province-wide natural gas distribution system, which is something Alberta did with its natural gas. Even if NS production comes to an end, you could build an LNG terminal to bring in NG from anywhere in the world, or even from the US given their current surplus. The global NG supply picture is distinctly rosier than the oil supply one.

Depending on foreign oil is a really bad idea since the world's oil production is going to much like Nova Scotia's gas production and go into steep decline. The trouble is NS lacks viable alternatives, and NG would have been a good one. The other options people have been suggesting are distinctly less good.

Thanks, RMG, for your assessment; much appreciated.

With regards to the build out of our natural gas distribution network, could you rattle some cages over at AltaGas, the owners of our local utility? They don't seem to be terribly interested in growing their market share, not that natural gas is any great bargain. The monthly account fee is $19.22 and gas is currently priced at $11.983 per GJ (last month it was $14.713/GJ and in January it was $15.523/GJ). I can heat our home with a heat pump for much less and pocket the $230.00 a year in avoided service charges.

When you say "[t]he other options people have been suggesting are distinctly less good" can you explain what you mean?


I don't know if anybody can really talk to these utility companies. In your case, AltaGas Utility Holdings (Nova Scotia) Inc, is three levels down in the corporate pyramid, under AltaGas Utility Holdings Inc and AltaGas Utility Group Inc and AltaGas Ltd. I don't even know if they can see the bottom of the pyramid from head office.

The fundamental difference between Alberta and Nova Scotia is that if Albertans can't get gas service to their neighborhood, they start their own local gas cooperative, trench in gas lines, and go out for bids on gas supply. Some cities own their own gas wells and provide it to their citizens on the same basis as water and sewer. This keeps the utilities on their toes.

The price I paid last month was $5.405 per GJ for 9.5 GJ. I only paid $51.35 for the gas, but then there are administrative fees, delivery charges, rate riders, storage riders, and municipal fees. (A lot of costs you pay in the gas I pay separately). I paid another $38.97 in fees for a total of $90.32. Add on 5% GST and it was $94.84. (Alberta don't do no stinkin' provincial sales taxes).

In your case, assuming you used the same 9.5 GJ as me, you would have paid $113.84 for the gas and $19.22 in fixed costs for a total of $133.06. And then you would have to add the 15% NS HST, which would bump it up to $153.02. That's 62% higher than my cost.

I doubt you could touch that price with fuel oil, but I don't really know. We haven't used oil heat here for generations. We did when I was a kid, but I'm retired now.

By "less good" I mostly mean more expensive. There is also the interruptibility of things like wind power, if it's not backed up by some kind of peaking units. Most types of alternative heat are less convenient than just setting your programmable thermostat to run through a daily cycle and letting your 95% efficient gas furnace handle the details.

Anybody got some sage words about N.Gas in N.Scotia where he's talking about Sable Island as the Savior of the Province?

Yeah. ExxonMobil is going to shut down and abandon the Sable Island gas field in the near future because it is almost completely depleted. Nova Scotia needs to think up a new energy plan really quick.

This dude you were talking to needs to get on the distribution list because he has been missing all of the important memos.

Not only is NS gas in steep decline, but so is Mexican oil production. Canadian oil production is rising slowly (55% of it from the oil sands now) but not as fast as Mexican production is declining. Prudhoe Bay is producing about 1/4 of what it once did, and the main reason companies want to drill ANWR is to find enough oil to keep the Alaska pipeline from being shut down due to low flow. Frankly, I think that finding enough oil in ANWR is a long shot.

As for the Gulf of Maine, sure they might find NG there, but pigs might fly, too. If the oil companies though there was gas there, they would be lobbying aggressively to drill for it. As it is, I think they drilled a few wells off the US East Coast some decades ago, looked at the geology, and said, "Well, so much for that idea". I seem to recall the distinct lack of enthusiasm that followed drilling.

At this point in time, I would say the options for the US are producing more domestic shale gas, importing more Canadian oil sands, and raising fuel taxes to encourage oil conservation. If the US does all three, it has a chance of getting through the next few decades without sustaining major economic damage. If it does 2 of the 3, it is going to be a really bad time for Americans (as if it's not already). If it does 1 or none, it is going to be an economic disaster. Looking at the current administration's energy strategy (it doesn't have one), I'm betting on a disaster.

Thanks, RMG.

I hit a few of those points.. but maybe I'll point that crowd this way and see if they bite and are as feisty within TOD's hallowed halls.


From Hamsayeh.net Iran & International News The World Awash With Too Much Extra Oil At This Time: Experts

Iranian OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi expressed confidence over the existing oil output and saw no need to increase oil outputs by any of the members at this moment. He said the market has enough oil supplied to it and therefore no need to raise the production...

Experts believe prices will push upward to at least $150 a barrel by the end of this year.

The article does not say just who these "experts" are, only that they are experts. I find this most strange. If the experts believe the world is awash in oil, how can the price rise to $150 a barrel by the end of the year. There is a contradiction there. Soaring price would say the exact opposite of "awash". Soaring prices to $150 a barrel would mean a dearth of oil.

Am I just confused here, or perhaps it is the "experts" who are confused.

Ron P.

From the same source ( but quoting http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/ )

People Of Earth: Prepare For Economic Disaster

The entire global financial system is a gigantic Ponzi scheme. It is designed to keep everyone enslaved to perpetual debt.

It is not just the United States that is headed for an economic collapse. The truth is that the entire world is heading for a massive economic meltdown and the people of earth need to be warned about the coming economic disaster that is going to sweep the globe. The current world financial system is based on debt, and there are alarming signs that the gigantic global debt bubble is getting ready to burst. In addition, global prices for the key resources that the major economies of the planet depend on are rising very rapidly.

Despite all of our advanced technology, the truth is that human civilization simply cannot function without oil and food. But now the price of oil and the price of food are both increasing dramatically. So how is the current global economy supposed to keep functioning properly if it soon costs much more to ship products between continents? How are the billions of people that are just barely surviving today supposed to feed themselves if the price of food goes up another 30 or 40 percent? For decades, most of the major economies around the globe have been able to take for granted that massive amounts of cheap oil and massive amounts of cheap food will always be there. So what happens when that paradigm changes?

Yeah, turns out it is not such a good socioeconomic design. The Debtocalypse! Essentially, what you have is the high-tech and well armed first world with a gun to the head of the rest of the world sucking their resources out for the sake of "growth". And while enjoying resource ratios of 40-1(and wasting a good deal of it) complaining that they are having too many babies and using too many resources. Now we have resorted to squeezing them to death(literally) because we can't extract oil fast enough. It's a junky mentality on a mass-scale.

The debt based economy, The other major world problem....

We are all just slaves to debt....

Maybe it's time to remove the power of issuing (lending) currency from the banks and start spending it into existence, just like the greenback.
The current financial model appears (to me) to require perpetual & infinite growth to function, with the expectation of global contraction as the prime energy source to this growth begins to decline such a system would be expected to collapse! Was 2008 an early warning?

With Debt free money, governments can spend it into existance and tax it out again as needed, banks will have to borrow the money from the government & citizens to lend.

Such a system will work in a declining economy as well as a growing one, without being totally dependant on growth. It also shrinks the parasitic banking sector down to size.

MSM Alert along those lines:

How to get America's groove back – Q&A with Zakaria
New powers are rising, and if America wants to maintain its economic competitive edge, it needs to make major changes – fast. But does America have the political will to act? Are Americans willing to sacrifice short-term consumption for long-term investment?

On Sunday at 8PM and 11PM ET and PT, Fareed Zakaria GPS will air a one-hour special on “Restoring the American Dream,” with scholars Niall Ferguson, Jeffrey Sachs, Dambisa Moyo and Joseph Nye (who will be taking your questions online next week).

Being billed as "Restoring The American Dream: Getting back to #1"

sure .... kind of sad, really.

New blog here

Not a bad idea dolanbaker why not give it a new name lets call it the continental because it will go the same way. What you Americans should be looking at is something like Virginia who backed there currency prior to independence with tobacco, that worked for somewhere in the region of 200 years before backing the American dollar by gold and eventually with fresh air. and for the last forty years with Saudi Oil. I don't think most Americans understand how your Government has screwed you when they made an agreement with the Saudis to protect them if they always priced there oil in dollars.

First, I'm not American, I'm from the UK but living in Ireland.
The idea behind creating a Debt free currency, is the fact that perpetual growth will almost certainly not be possible in the resources limited future we all face.
If money is spent into existance rather than loaned then there are no requirement for interest payments. Yes I expect such a system will put an end to the buy now pay later consumerism, but maybe that's what we need now as opposed to spiraling debts that will likely never get repaid, or will cripple individuals & countries trying to do so. I'm not sure what the currency will be "backed" by, for the last 40 yerars or so, it's just been backed by blind faith in the US Federal reserve bank!

I read the cheesy article now…..

A collapse of the debt based economy would be both good and bad...

Yes, it would be ugly, but we need a new monetary system,

One that’s not based on ever increasing debt...

"Awash" seems to be the most favorite word for those writers whose goal is to ease public fears of a shortage. I expect to see it dozens of times over the next few months.

I agree on awash -- 'The world is "awash" in oil' is all I keep reading.

They (whoever they are) must have screened and telemarketed the term for the masses -- keep that morphine drip going ... drip ... awash ... drip ... awash ...

The article linked was written from an Iranian view point from what I can see. They offered up the reason below for the current price spike:-

'Continued interference by US and its allies in Libya may have caused a long-term cut to Libyan oil exports consequently helping push oil prices to more than $115 a barrel.'

I'm guessing the experts will be the Iranians that decide editorial content.

Sources such as this and Press TV, the other Iranian one that I sometimes look at, can be useful to get an alternative viewpoint from western mainstream media but as with Fox News the reader has to filter out the stuff that is in there for propaganda purposes.

Good stuff from Ritholz at The big Picture:

Oil Price Doubling: leading indicator for What ??

“There have been only five times in the past 70 years when this has
happened within a two-year time frame..

Of the five instances cited above, all but one involved a recession for the U.S.
economy and that was in 2005 during the height of the credit and housing
boom, which acted as a huge offset..."

I must admit: I have never seen that analysis previously. Dave’s trailing 24 month oil chart is below...

Word of the Day: Precariat

Via Wordspy, we learn today’s new phrase:

n. People whose lives are precarious because they have little or no job security. [Precarious + proletariat.]

“Two oil and gas companies agreed to temporarily shut down wastewater disposal wells in Arkansas that some experts believe are connected to a recent swarm of earthquakes.”

There is a basis for concern. Many years ago there were deep disposal wells (operated by the govt?) in Colorado that caused some deep faults to activate and produced some seismic tremors. I think no damage.

I don’t know the details of the AK wells but I doubt there’s any connection. I suspect the disposal wells were only several thousand feet deep. The earth quake epicenters were likely 10 of miles (if not hundreds) deeper. It would be comparable to a train traveling 10 miles from your house causing you coffee cup to vibrate and slide off the table. Non-tech folks tend to have a problem with scale of physical phenomenon.

Thank you rockman. I was wondering if Arkansas might not turn into a giant sink hole, and maybe the gulf of mexico would fill the hole and that would off-set any sea-level rise due to melting ice caps.

What do you think?

aardy - What can I say: so many smart *ss answers...so little time LOL

BTW: some old brain cells kicking back in: the CO injection wells were at the Rocky Mtn Arsenal Disposal site. I can't recall what the feds were injecting but very nasty stuff...maybe even radioactive

Yes, the injections and earthquakes were at the Army's Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver. The injection formations were very, very deep because they were trying to get rid of nerve gas, and the injection volumes were very large because were trying to get rid of very large amounts of very dangerous chemicals. They may have overdone it, because shortly thereafter, Denver had its first earthquake in 80 years, followed by 750 more earthquakes.

This has more or less nothing to do with what the oil industry does, but try telling that to the MSM.

Very good Rocky. I was sure you had the details. Just had to wait for you to get off your lazy butt. LOL

Re: your comment about needing a good reason to NOT drill horizontlly in some plays. After I developed a little bit of a reputation for horizontal drilling in GC sandstone reservoirs I spent the majority of my consultations explaining why an operaor SHOULDN'T drill a hz hole in a particular situation. Folks would read press releases and thought a hz hole cured all problems. As you know they don't. One operator wanted me to drill 8 hz holes in his newly acquired field. No way it would work. I convinced him to let me drill two pilot holes first (didn't really need them but he was too ignorant to know it). Drilled the 2 PH's and destroyed 100% of his reserve base for the entire field with the new info...$100 million in PUD wiped out. And then next year hired me as VP of Geology. My only employee status in over 20 years. Told you...he was really stupid. LOL.

But I would still drill the holes for those stuborn operators when they ignored my advice. A payday is a payday and it was their money anyway. But I'm sure you know who generally gets blamed at the post-mortume meetings (which the consultants are seldom invited). Dotors bury their mistakes and oil patch managers bury the consultants. Still better than working for the buttheads fulltime, eh? LOL

The technology for horizontal drilling has gotten really cheap in recent years. One of my nephews had to get an oil pipeline across a river, and rather than going through the usual environmental review and studies about affect on the fish habitat and how he was going to mitigate it, he just drilled a horizontal well through the rock formations under the river and pushed the pipeline through it.

It was much simpler and cheaper than filling out the paperwork for laying a pipeline in a trench through a riverbed.

The earth quake epicenters were likely 10 of miles (if not hundreds) deeper.

Even in the ancient time when I was a grad student in seismology, determining the depth of a quake was a pretty straightforward task. I'd be surprised if an error in location is involved here (although quite possibly politicians/activists are seizing on unrelated (i.e. not near enought to the inject site) quakes.) I'm not privy to any data here so I can't comment further.

Having done my share of material science, I think of eathquakes as the competition between stress and strain. Earthquake energy builds up according to strict entropy considerations and the release points also build up according to entropy. The release point is essentially the meeting point between these two processes. This turns into a very straightforward dispersive power law in energy released.

I like showing this curve because it illustrates in one way how simply these can be related. To me earthquakes and faults in materials at the microscopic level are really no different and they operate under the same physical laws of energy and entropy.

(ref The Oil ConunDrum)

The issue is how big the earthquake is. If we end up triggering a large earthquake that has some built-in immunity from release, like the Madrid fault, we are playing with dice.


IIRC, there were two reports within days, (weeks?) of each other regarding geothermal pilot projects being shut down due to earthquakes. I believe one was in Basel, Switzerland and the other was in the US.

The reports were short lived, so do you know if the shutdowns were due to a causal connection, or precautionary?

If true, this is troubling. I have a great deal of respect for the forces of thermal expansion and contraction. Sucking large amounts of heat out of a relatively small area in the crust seems like playing with fire. I understand that the best geothermal sites are where the crust is relatively thin, but that is also where there is already high seismic activity.

If I'm missing something, fell free to banish my ignorance.

"To me earthquakes and faults in materials at the microscopic level are really no different ..."

It may be as simple as pumping lubricant into a fault. Two heavy, stacked pieces of metal will slide apart easily when separated by a microscopic layer of oil. Pumping several million gallons of fluid into a fault area may have the same effect; breaking the surface tension. Zip! Just a thought.

Also, if we can frac shale, why is it not possible to inadverdently frac a fault. Pump a non-compressible fluid into a void, it heats up, expands ........ crack!

Yes. I think thats the main mechanism. Increase the hydrolic pressure that is opposing the geostresses holding the fault locked, and if you cross some critical threshold, blamo. There are zillions of times more small faults which only fail on very long timescales (probably thousands or tens of thousands of years), then there are big known faults. So you have a fair change of running into some.

Of course due diligence should be done. Are these alleged quakes in the vicinity of the injection wells? If they are kilometers away, its really just an unwelcome coincidence. And are the stimulated quakes likely to be big enough to cause damage? Activists, and media have a stake in sowing fear uncertainty and doubt even if it is unappropriate. But there is no substitute for decent analysis.

I would agree that you need lots of data to do a meaningful correlation analysis. Something as simple as that rank histogram I showed above is based on at least 100,000 data points. When you can get to those numbers, then the power-laws start falling out and the correlation moves into a causation realm, or at least you can attempt to defend it.

If its lots of data versus anecdotes, I will pick the data set.

Increase the hydrolic pressure that is opposing the geostresses holding the fault locked, and if you cross some critical threshold, blamo. There are zillions of times more small faults which only fail on very long timescales (probably thousands or tens of thousands of years), then there are big known faults. So you have a fair change of running into some.

Well, if a fault is going to fail, it is going to fail. It's not a question of if, but a question of when. You can expedite the process somewhat by lubricating the fault, but that just speeds up the inevitable. It's going to slip sometime.

A classic example is the San Andreas Fault. It is locked at San Francisco and near Los Angeles, but the section in between the two cities is slipping by an inch or two per year, resulting in minor quakes. The section at San Francisco has slipped and caught up a couple of times since the city was founded, resulting in massive earthquakes, but the section near Los Angeles hasn't moved for hundreds of years. When it does slip, which it inevitably will, it should be spectacular. Just hope you're not there when it happens.

Here is an article on the San Andreas Fault by the USGS.

Now, the thing about waste disposal wells is that they don't inject under enough pressure to make much difference, they inject into relatively shallow formations that are porous enough to accept the injected fluids, and they don't inject near major faults because they know where they are from the seismic.

Therefore, injecting fluids into fault zones would be a good thing, because it would cause the faults to slip sooner, with less built-up strain and stored energy, than waiting for them to slip naturally with greater magnitude earthquakes.

In theory, yes. But in practice, if you have a section that hasn't slipped in over 100 years, you could trigger a massive earthquake, and that would make a lot of people angry with you, and when people get mad, they sue. Now not doing anything could result in something even larger a little further down the road, but people don't think that way..

I have this vague recollection of something being pumped underground (something related to nerve gas, IIRC) for "disposal" and they ended up creating small earthquakes.

Yes, modern political, economic and social systems are designed to postpone short term pain at the cost of long term catastrophe.

The industrial city, for example, furnished a much more even flow of goods and incomes than the farm, where incomes varied considerably year-to-year depending on weather, disease, etc. Nonetheless, the city could experience boom and depression on decadal time scales.

Another example would be the rise of the industrial union, which protected their members income from short term variation and decline. This comes at the expense of the secular decline of industries and regions as the employers are priced out of their markets.

That link to the USGS description of the San Andreas Fault s a bit out of date (1997). It's interesting that they mentioned the possibility of a large quake near Parkfield, but, of course, couldn't say much about the Loma Prieta quake. I'm sure something like this would seriously mess up your day...

E. Swanson

This week, gasoline prices at some Metro Vancouver gas retailers cracked the psychological $1.30/liter barrier. For example, my neighborhood Chevron station is now charging CA$1.306 for a liter of regular gasoline. This works out to: CA$1.306/liter x 3.785412 liter/gallon x 1.02890 US$/CA$ = US$5.09/gallon. So drivers in a major North American metropolitan area are now paying $5 dollars per gallon to fill up their vehicles.

Unlike the summer of 2008, the current high fuel prices are hardly newsworthy except for a few articles about the unrest in Arab world being the cause. Food prices are expected to rise dramatically by springtime, and a couple of big banks are talking about a potential housing bubble. The rest of 2011 looks like it'll be a hell of ride for Canadians as well as the rest of the world.

Ah, the big banks. Our friends:


But I'm sure the Canadian ones are far more genial and effeminate towards their loyal serfs.

But I'm sure the Canadian ones are far more genial and effeminate towards their loyal serfs.

There has been a backlash against the big Canadian banks, but that was mostly back in the 1980s/1990s when they started charging fees for all manner of transactions. Right now we're being told that our Canadian banks weathered the global banking crisis because of our conservative banking regulations, and our banks are now considered the most solid banks in the world. This of course makes Canadians proud of their superior banks and the backlash against the banks has all but evaporated, at least in public.

The truth is of course much uglier. Currently, something like 90% of new morgages are insured by the CMHC (Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation), which is the Canadian equivalent to Freddie Mac and Fannie May. By law, every mortgage where the home equity is less that 20% must be insured. The problem with this government insurance is that the banks are taking no risks in case of default, and therefore tend to lend money to almost anybody, credit worthy or not. And this easy credit has led to a housing bubble that's about the same size as the pre-pop US one. Guess what happens next .....

I read somewhere, it might've been the Globe and Mail, that Canadian households have some of the highest debt-to-income ratios in the Western world and since Canada got off fairly well(in comparison with much of Europe and the U.S.) this has been going on without major disruptions, albeit at a lower pace.

Since you seem to take the view that a big bubble is not already brewing but ready to explode, just how much would it expound on an oil shock? Total economic derailment or is it focused on some areas(e.g. Toronto and other metros)? Is it widespread all over the nation?

Oh, and this is remotely related:


Madoff's view on the whole U.S. gov is that it's a giant 'Ponzi scheme'.
And the new regulatory framework is a 'joke'.

Sour grapes or the words of a man with nothing left to lose, equipped with the deep knowledge of a highly placed former insider?

In my opinion, the current Canadian housing prices indicate that we're in a classic bubble. House price/rent, house price/income, and debt/income ratios are all substantially higher than historical averages. Even the Bank of Canada governor and the finance minister are talking about a housing bubble, in coded language of course. I would call it the biggest bubble in Canadian history, and it's bound to pop anytime soon. Australia is in a similar predicament.

High oil prices are double-edged sword for Canada. Being a net exporter of oil makes high oil prices good for parts of the country that produce oil, i.e. Alberta. But it won't be good for the rest of the country where housing/consumption makes up the biggest component of the economy. We're also a net exporter of food. I would guess that high oil/food prices will have a net negative impact on the Canadian economy, but we'll definetely be better off than most of the rest of the world.

Being a net exporter of oil makes high oil prices good for parts of the country that produce oil, i.e. Alberta.

And Saskatchewan and British Columbia and Manitoba and Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories.

It may not be as good for the other provinces that don't have much oil and gas, but they do have the option of supplying the fabricated equipment and skilled workers for the provinces that do. Since these include the main industrial centers in Ontario and Quebec, it doesn't work out all that badly - compared to, e.g., the US and UK.

It'll pop when interest rates go up. A lot of people are buying $800,000+ homes with 4% money, and they have to refi every 5 years. Hell, a lot of people are sitting on prime-1% adjustables from 4 years ago, and they need to refi in the next year.

Good luck with that.

My current plan is to move to Western Canada but sit out of housing for awhile.

When the inevitable crash happens I should, with the cash/gold/silver saved, be able to afford reasonably sized property in a relatively stable part of the globe that has energy, food, water, and a decent demographic profile.

My current plan is to move to Western Canada but sit out of housing for awhile.

Are you sure they will let you in the country? There are a lot of Chinese, Indians and other nationalities in line ahead of you, and they don't give any preference to Americans. Immigration is running at record levels and the government is talking about tightening standards.

There's a point system, based on education, skills, experience, and other things. If you have enough points, you're in, if not, not. However, if you really are an oilman, you would get a lot of points for that. There's probably a job waiting for you in the oil sands.

"By law, every mortgage where the home equity is less that 20% must be insured."

That won't save them if the price goes down 40% as it did in parts of the US.

Or if the insurance company goes broke due to the sheer number of claims, which also happened here.

I know, I know; it can't happen here, this time is different....

Or if the insurance company goes broke due to the sheer number of claims, which also happened here.

Unfortunately, the insurance company is owned by the government, so when homeowners start defaulting on mass, it's we the taxpayers who take the hit, not the banks. The net effect of this is that people who borrow money recklessly will be bailed out by people who save money. Does this sound familiar?

Does this sound familiar?

Yes, it does. The very familiar determination to use whatever half-baked information and analysis the end-timer can find in order to prove that disaster awaits.

Paul Krugman posted on the Canadian housing 'bubble' yesterday and persons interested will find some interesting and informed commentary in the discussion.


King has lost it, if he thinks there is any possibility of the banks becoming warm-and-fuzzy organisations offering friendly support and assistance to their customers - those days are long-gone. I work for a large UK bank (heavily bailed out by the UK taxpayer at the end of '08) and I can comment from first-hand experience.

The era of deregulation (enthusiastically presided over by one Eddie George, and later his successor, one M. King), propelled a new a brutal, macho generation of management into the boardroom. They are inspired by the business practices of the US consultancies (particularly Accenture) and completely focused on (1) Getting as much as possible for themselves and (2) delivering "shareholder value". Come to think of it, those two things are pretty much one and the same. Nothing else matters.

And for the insiders, as well as the customers, the banks are no longer offering the deal they did. 10 years ago they were staffed by individuals who plodded along, safe in their assumption that they had a job for life and a fat pension after retirement. No-one think that any more, everyone is looking over their shoulder, everyone os over-worked, over-stressed, and wondering whether it's all worth it.

You and your political friends let the genie out of the bottle, Merv, so stop bellyaching. PS - nice timing! Yesterday the staff bonunses for this year were announced.... not because the execs want to spray largesse around their minions, but because it's the only way they know how to keep them on-board in the extremely unpleasant working environments they've created. It's the direct consequence of worshipping money.

Personally I'd rather go back to the old days where my working life was pleasant, and I wasn't on-course for a coronory at 55, but no chance of that happening anytime soon.

Better get me a shower - Saturday night, and I need to go out to spend that bonus, before I end up in a box way too early.

Regards Chris

No-one think that any more, everyone is looking over their shoulder, everyone os over-worked, over-stressed, and wondering whether it's all worth it.

Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me. Bankers aren't the only ones working in stressful conditions and certainly aren't the only ones worried about their job security right now.

Plus people make mistakes in their past. It doesn't mean King isn't right to speak out about it publicly now, especially considering the position he occupies/influence he wields. Much better and braver to speak out whilst incumbent than to wait until writing his hindsight memoirs for his autobiog from his warm, comfy retirement retreat...

...completely focused on (1) Getting as much as possible for themselves and (2) delivering "shareholder value". Come to think of it, those two things are pretty much one and the same. Nothing else matters.

I think the phrase you are looking for is 'institutionally corrupt'. They play accounting games with numbers to justify they can deliver both - and none of it is real.

If I went out and sold Tower Bridge to a credulous American, I'd get arrested for fraud.

If they go out and sell derivatives, mislabelled, on things they don't even own, they get a bonus.

Frankly, the fact that they treat you as **** is just par for the course in the poorly (MBA) managed big business - it's not even a sideshow to the real crime.

King is putting a shot across the bows of the big bank bosses: "I get control of financial regulation next year. You have a year to sort yourselves out, or I'll break heads (and banks)". Judging by the dismissive comments of the banks, I think they are still going to be a arrogant as before. It's a question of what will hit them first, the next financial crunch (which there is no money to bail them out of) or Merv actually growing a pair and lopping off some heads.

Right. The traditional excuse that 'If we don't give out large bonuses then they'll go elsewhere' doesn't cut the moral mustard. The system as a whole needs to be considered. Theoretically the same thing could (and does to some extent) happen in other occupations.

It may be that King will bring down the UK banking system, but at least it's one of the bigger players and should be setting a example for the international community.

Thanks for the update Frugal--and it is nice to hear a fellow Canadian say we are on the same roller coaster as the rest of the world. For a country that has and still does depend on it's natural resources for it's wealth--Canadians are surprising ignorant about the realities of those resources.

Our two most expensive stations in our area of No. CA are now charging 4.15 & 4.12 a gallon for regular. Guess we're going to relive a variation of the 08 debacle.

Let me guess; Credit tightens, discretionary spending dips, many small restaurants close, retailers fold, people get laid off, stock market plummets, more real estate mortgages go under water and foreclosures rise, taxpayers bail out too big to fail corps, oil price drops back to something relatively reasonable, a stimulus is suggested, Daniel Yergin and Michael Lynch upon seeing the lower oil price proclaim, "See, there's plenty of oil!"

This week, gasoline prices at some Metro Vancouver gas retailers cracked the psychological $1.30/liter barrier.

Get used to it. We're trying to keep you covered, but the TransMountain pipeline from Edmonton to Vancouver can only handle 50% of the oil and products that the oil companies are nominating to move these days.

Best buy a new bicycle, go down to Granville Island, get a caffè latte, and mellow out. You're way better off than the Americans.

A friend of my wife's lives on Vancouver Island. Last summer she was explaining to us how she was saving the environment by growing her own kale. I tried to tell her, "Forget the kale. Sell the Ford Torino Station Wagon your parents gave you and buy the smallest Toyota or VW you can. Better yet, move within bicycling distance of work." Somehow the whole concept escaped her because she thought that organic kale was the answer. The problem was that she didn't know what the question was.

"""The problem was that she didn't know what the question was."""

So true in almost every sense, when it comes to a realization of the failures of modern technology, as it applies to the Natural World.

The Oak Tree cares not, if it is Sunday, or Monday.

The Martian.

This week, gasoline prices at some Metro Vancouver gas retailers cracked the psychological $1.30/liter barrier.

$1.44 this morning in northern Brisbane (Australia).

Glad I don't drive much.

The current pump price for fuel in the UK is about eight US dollars per US gallon, so Canadian prices look really good from where I'm sitting here in Edinburgh. The Government is talking about delaying a planned increase in vehicle fuel tax to try and avoid riots but it won't bring the price down, just stop it rising faster than it is doing at the moment.

Local TV news from Atlanta did a story this morning about an area Sheriff's Dept. converting their vehicles to hybrid gasoline/propane fuels. The Deputies say they can see no difference between petrol and propane. Push button changeover of fuel type seems seamless. This is an add-on system; the original fuel system is left as is. Conversions done by Force 911 cost about $5800 US.

Here is a story from 2009 about the changeover to propane. They have since decided to put this system into all of their cruisers, saving around $1.35/gal on fuel. They also expect to save on maintenance, since "propane burns cleaner". Paid for, in part, with 'drug money'.

Ghung - An update if you have the info: last time someone offered the the motoring energy equivalence it cost more per mile to run propane than gasoline. Not true anymore? I know gasolin prices are rising but propane has been expensive for quit a while. And if the Atl. PD starts buying up the local propane market what will prices do there?

And if the numbers ar corrct and the cop cars get 18 mpg than they'll have to drive 75,000 miles to cover the conversion investmen. Assume the do that in a year. So they have to burn 75,000 mils of fuel before they start saving money? Not terrible but doesn't sound like a big game changer especially if they add that much pressure to the propane market.

After a 5 year trial, my local propane supplier traded their propane-fueled trucks for new diesels. My driver told me that overall costs didn't work out as they had planned. Since they are a fairly large distributor and buying propane (they're calling it Autogas now) at wholesale, that says alot. Converting gasoline engines in cars may yield better results. I'll do some research. I think the truck drivers missed the brute torque of the diesels, here in the mountains. There were some reliability issues as well, per my driver.

I share your concern about increased prices and availability if propane gains more acceptance as a transportation fuel. It is a small but useful part of my energy mix at home, and very important in many parts of the country/world due to it's portability and storability. A little propane goes a long way for cooking for instance.

It'll be interesting to see how these fleet conversions work out, especially while LPG stockpiles are a bit low. At least these cops have a choice in the event of price spikes or shortages.

If more highway vehicles adopt propane as a fuel, I expect that states will be adding taxes as well. Not sure how that works now.

Edit: From the link, above;

Autogas is on the rise in the United States. Today, the United States has more than 200,000 autogas vehicles on the road, accounting for just 2% of the world’s total. In 2005, a provision was enacted that placed a 50-cent-per-gallon tax credit on propane autogas as part of H.R. 4853, making it $1-per-gallon cheaper than gasoline on average. The alternative fuel credit was extended in 2010 and remains in effect until the end of 2011. Currently, more than 90% of the country’s autogas is domestically produced.

The article is quite informative.

Ghung - Thanks...good practical insights. Seems to be the potential traps of most, if not all of our "solutions". I know a lot of hands who live in the country and depend upon propane since they don't have a NG distribution system. Start using a lot of autogas and their prices shoot up. Their alternative: higher eletric bills. Run a big chunk of the country's cars on NG and homeowners see bigger bills/shortages. Same for indusrial users. Drive their costs up and the layoffs begin. Starts looking like every solution often leads to bigger problems elsewhere

At the end of the day it seems rather simple: we are running out of cheaper BTU's...matters not the source. Lots of BTU's streaming from the Sun and blowing in the wind. But not the cheap BTU's that are eeded to keep BAU. So simple..so solutionless...so inevitable IMHO.

Seems to be the potential traps of most, if not all of our "solutions". I know a lot of hands who live in the country and depend upon propane since they don't have a NG distribution system. Start using a lot of autogas and their prices shoot up. Their alternative: higher eletric bills. Run a big chunk of the country's cars on NG and homeowners see bigger bills/shortages. Same for indusrial users. Drive their costs up and the layoffs begin. Starts looking like every solution often leads to bigger problems elsewhere

Eric Sevareid, a CBS Journalist (back when there were mainstream journalists) is famously quoted as saying:

The chief cause of problems is solutions.

At the end of the day it seems rather simple: we are running out of cheaper BTU's...matters not the source. Lots of BTU's streaming from the Sun and blowing in the wind. But not the cheap BTU's that are eeded to keep BAU. So simple..so solutionless...so inevitable IMHO.

Matters not the source indeed! So succinctly put.

If I might add; Our present primary energy sources are inheritances. Soon we will be operating on a day-by-day stipend that is 'pay as you go" and there are no advances allowed.

EROEI is, for the most part just a homocentric label. With FFs, the vast majority of the energy was invested long before we showed up, we just do the harvesting.

prag - "The chief cause of problems is solutions." Most excellent. So dang good that I now declare the Rockman came up with it first. I clearly remember ole Eric...a very classy gentleman IMHO and sorely missed especially considering all his wannbe replacements we suffer with today.

This clip might further add to your sense of loss:


He was a remarkable man.


This clip might further add to your sense of loss:

Truly, and doubly. Seeing Walter Cronkite again reminds me of yet another giant who is no longer with us.

Mucho thanks Hal. And even though I was never a huge Walter fan he stands head and shoulders above most out there now.

Oil price widget-tutorial. Includes Brent. Free.


This essay is just too damned good not to post here.

Consensus and Other Realities

1. I’ve been reading R.D. Laing again, mostly when I wake up at 3 a.m. and worry about how long it will be before Social Contract Capitulation. That’s when people sliding toward the bottom of the human pyramid give up, cash out their remaining 401(k) funds, use it to buy an assault rifle and a cookbook, and start researching how to field dress their neighbor’s Bichon Frise.

Worrying about pyramids causes me to also worry that if the American Federal Reserve ever loses its ability to prop up the economy, the largest employer in America will not be the Federal Government but Amway Corporation. That might not be all bad if you’ve correctly timed your entry into the Amway family. Amway can’t really lay you off once they’ve sent you a pallet of household detergent and cosmetics, especially if you’ve taken the time to hide it all in a safe place.

"Bichon Frise" ?????

After googling;

Oh it's a little dog. I suspect It would make a fine curry.

Buy the spices now; they won't be available after the Collapse. ;-)

Bichons (under all of that hair) are small, boney dogs; not worth the effort. May I recommend a nice, fat Pug?

You're right. You would need at least a 10 lb (5 kg) dog for this recipe for Stewed Dog (wedding style)

As the author point's out.

For the faint of heart, you can always substitute lamb in place of next door’s rover, but the meat will not be as sweet or as rich in flavor.

But if your not feeding a crowd, the little ones are easier to catch. ;-)

Stewed Dog, No? Then perhaps Curried Cat?

Then perhaps Curried Cat?

Known in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as Chivito de Techo: Roof Goat.

Roof Goat - that is classic. I've always enjoyed new and unusual foods so I don't think I would have a hard time making this transition in my diet. I just don't think most people I know would be able to make the switch.

In the essay, I really liked the discussion of self/false self. I think most people I know are going to have a very, very hard time making the jump from their current false "industrial self" to their new self, whatever it may be.

The same with the mental jump into reality about the status and prospects of the nation - how will industrial peoples (especially herre in the formerly invincible USA) respond when they recognize their "false nation" is crumbling before their eyes and their true nation is not what they had been planning for... how will they take it?

Will industrial countries follow the Ernest Hemingway path when the dissonance overwhelms their fantasy?


Animal recipes aside, thats an excellent article. It captures the zietgiest of our current psyche and situation. Much to think about. Thanks for the link

Chivito de Techo: Little Roof Goat


Chivo would be more the mountain goat than nanny goat. Search for the Chivas of Guadalajara mascot.

Heh, I remember a picture in a local Sao Paulo paper I saw during some hard times in Brazil of some people up on the roof of a well known restaurant. The caption said: "waiter placing traps on the roof for rabbit"... I believe the restaurant served a pretty good rabbit stew for lunch.

Then again "Churrasco de Gato" has been a standard joke in Brazil for just about forever. On a more serious note why not raise real rabbits or real goats on some of those fancy new green roofs?

Saudi Finance Minister picks Saturday after 13 down days to buy stock:

“With my trust in this economy and this country, I also seized the opportunity” and bought shares, Finance Minister Al Assaf said. “I am a long term investor.”


President Clinton Strikes Nerve with Ethanol Comment

Former President Bill Clinton struck a raw nerve with ethanol supporters with his comments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Outlook Forum today.

“We have to become energy independent but we don’t want to do it at the expense of food riots,” Clinton said, calling for a periodic reassessment of the industry “with 3-5 year time horizons based on the best evidence we have to maximize the availability of good food at affordable prices

and here, here, and here

similar take by USDA

Food prices to skyrocket, riots could follow, suggests USDA

When the upswing in commodity prices eventually makes its way throughout the food system in mid-to-late 2011, food prices are sure to spike with levels potentially reaching those of 2008, announced U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economist Ephraim Leibtag at the agency's annual Outlook Forum. And if conditions escalate rapidly, there is also the potential for food riots and other civil unrest

I'm stocking up on canning supplies early this year, as I expect many folks to be preserving stuff as local, in-season goods become available. This may be good news for small producers who will be able to compete with factory farms who have higher energy overheads. I noticed a big box store in the area is having a big freezer sale. Perhaps they expect more folks to be 'putting food by' this year, as prices spike.

Canning (or solar drying) food has a lot of plusses

But, I think the utility of a 'root cellar' may be more handy than a freezer. Once the power goes off for a stretch, freezers suddenly become a liability.

Now if they only made a solar powered freezer (with battery backup).

"Now if they only made a solar powered freezer (with battery backup)."

They do make them.

"Now if they only made a solar powered freezer (with battery backup)."

Then there's Lehman's and their annual non-electric catalog: http://www.lehmans.com

Catalog request at: http://www.lehmans.com/store/util/free_catalog_signup?Args=

"Now if they only made a solar powered freezer (with battery backup)."

They do; been around for years.

Thanks for the link :-)

I talked with Sundazer at the SPI2010 show, The designer, Dave has one that will keep frozen for days with out battery, It has an insert that is a mix of H2O and 15% ethanol. The compressor has a Max Power PointPower tracker so direct to PV is possible, no battery is required. It cost $.15/kWH for Battery storage. I have a old sunfrost chest freezer that was off for a week by mistake, and everything
was still frozen. I had freeze packs in it.

Sun Frost are very good too. But I do not have the coin. LOL


Any plans out there for an ugly-but-functional conversion of a "standard" chest freezer to solar, without batteries? It'd be less elegant, but the cost to ship one of the sundanzer-types out here is breathtaking.

Easy way is to just add a battery though it would be nice (but impractical) to use solar direct without a lot more expense, i.e. DC sealed unit.

I use my 36VDC 200A solar charged golf cart and run all my 110VAC and (step up to) 220VAC tools. A freezer would be no problem either.

You will lose some efficiency but a 1000 watt inverter on a 12 volt battery will run a freezer. Deep cycle, heavy wire etc.

TLAR engineer.

Everyone is missing the simplest refrigeration unit that was ever developed: the Crosley Icyball.

The Icyball is an intermittent heat absorption type of refrigerator. A water/ammonia mixture is used as the refrigerant . Water and ammonia combine easily. So, they combine in the hot ball at room temperature.

When the hot ball is heated, for about 90 minutes, the ammonia evaporates first because it has a lower boiling point than water. The other cylinder is in water to help condense the ammonia in the cold ball. When the balls are fully charged, the cold ball is placed in the insulated box, as the ammonia evaporates to recombine with the water in the hot ball it removes heat, cooling the inside of the refrigerator for 24+ hours. A hole in the cold ball was for a special ice cube tray.


And, yes, there are plans out there for making one at home. I have the plans stored away in my "survival" notebooks.


Yair...some of this may be of interest...the Trailblazer line of chest freezers are very common in the North, you see them in the back of every second ute.

They are bulky, ugly, hand made from 1/8 marine grade alli. I have had one for about twenty five years. It makes ice while we travel.

Small company will make you a special with six inch insulation if you want it.

When I see something like this I think of a thought experiment such as:

How much electricity would be saved in everyone in the U.S. replaced their current refrigerator (and chest freezer if they have one) with the closest-sized model available from this list of efficient units?

One could go down the AC or DC road here and perhaps speculate about using PV and batteries with grid-tie backups.

Then you can go down the road of thinking about the huge up-front capital costs vs. the longer-term electricity savings and the cost-avoidance and environmental benefits which could accrue.

One could attempt the same analysis/thought experiment to the idea of every incandescent light being replaced by CFLs and LEDs etc.

And to 80% of the low-fuel-efficiency vehicles being replaced by high-mpg vehicles such as Ford Fiestas, Chevy Aveos, etc.

Jevons Paradox? Raise taxes to boost electricity/fuels prices commensurate with the impact on demand from adoption of the new technologies.

And now back to the real World...

This may be good news for small producers who will be able to compete with factory farms who have higher energy overheads.

Do smaller producers use less energy per unit of crop than large producers? I have been thinking a bit about this lately since I have started a small farm. Small organic producers still use small tractors and generally have to truck crops somewhere. The distance and overall oil consumption may be small but so is the amount of crop produced. The major energy input in factory farms is natural gas which is quite cheap right now.


I operate a small organic farming operation and direct sell to the consumer.

The answer to your question: who uses the least amount of energy per unit of crop, the small or large producer?, is...It Depends! The standard engineering answer! But it is almost always going to be the larger operations that are the most efficient in terms of fuel usage.

Seriously that is the case. If you are so small that you use only hand equipment and sell to your next door neighbors and you are only counting fossil fuel then the small producer wins. For an operation like mine where I have 2 small tractors, a pickup, a van, about 7 different pieces of farm equipment, an irrigation system, a large walk-in cooler, a washing station and a large greenhouse then the large producer is going to beat me most likely. The very large producer will beat me with no trouble at all. I make up for that disadvantage by being local and selling direct to consumers and not wholesale.

When talking about energy used in farming the standard is not to count the embed ed energy in the equipment. This is not valid of course, but that energy is very hard to quantify. My biggest expenses fuel wise are propane for the greenhouse and gasoline for the pickup and van. I do not use that much diesel. The van is used to haul the produce to various farmers markets. If I were big enough to need a large box truck my fuel usage on a per unit of crop basis would be much lower. All equipment works this way.

It is always a good idea to remember that farming is not really divided up between organic and conventional (a poor descriptor) farming. A better way of looking at it is there are the following general categories; industrial (divided up between organic and chemical based methodology) using the maximum amount of equipment and working large acreage's, small farming (once again divided up between organic and chemical) using equipment somewhat like mine, and gardening (still divided up between organic and chemical and now also including techniques like permaculture). People use giant equipment because it is very efficient given the cost structure that applies today. As described often here on TOD that cost basis is changing and the future is going to cause some recalculating.

I am not sure why you think that natural gas is the major fuel of use on factory farms. If you mean on industrial scale farms then it would be diesel. On mine the transportation fuel is still gas so that is my biggest. I am not large enough to need a diesel powered box truck.

Another thing that you will run into if you are getting into small scale farming are CSA's. These are very convenient for many small farmers, but they are terrible in terms of sustainability. Fuel usage by the CSA members on their way to and from picking up their shares blows any idea of sustainability out of the water. This is one reason I do not operate a CSA.

There are, of course, many other considerations besides straight energy use that come into account when deciding what methods you are going to use when farming. Probably the most common after you decide whether to go the organic route or not is based upon how much acreage you have available to farm. If you are going to go beyond 2 acres then I guarantee that you are going to need equipment to get the work done or you better have a LOT of help available that does not need to get paid other than in food.


"I am not sure why you think that natural gas is the major fuel of use on factory farms."

Nitrogen-based fertilizers start out as natural gas, and that is probably what he is thinking of.

Right, that is what I meant. From what I have read, natural gas drives fertilizer prices more than any other factor. That's why they quote natural gas prices when describing ethanol margins (Ethanol projections). Natural gas prices will rise to parity with oil at some point and maybe small-scale will have a definite advantage then.

Thanks Wyoming. I think I will end up in a very similar setup as you, if I am successful at this. I bought a bcs walk-behind tractor, however, I hope someday to get away with just the broadfork and scythe at my pinnacle.

I have a BCS 853 with an 11hp diesel engine. They are pretty nice. Big item re the BCS. Get the BIGGEST wheels available with them. the little wheels suck big time. Try Earth Tools (that is where I got mine) for all the options and implements. I also use axle extensions wide enough that it straddles the entire 30 inch beds. thus I never drive on them at all (or walk either). The BCS folks will tell you that they are not heavy enough to cause as much compaction as walking, but if you do the math using a normal size guy and figure out the PSI pressure from the wheels I, at least, came to the opposite conclusion. YMMV. I love the flail mower I have for the BCS. The tool bar set up just does not work well as you cannot conrol it with enough finese (you need 4 wheels to stabilize a tool bar). I used to use the rotary plow a lot, but the spader and harrow I have for my 4 wheel tractor are far superior.

Re the broadfork and scythe. Best get that out of your system when you are young! Once you start getting on in years you will not last long using that kind of equipment. That is why old farmers used to be all hunched over and crippled.

Re the natural gas. I see. The embeded energy thing again. Hard to quantify that. How much energy went into making all the farm equipment the industrial farmer uses? If you counted that it might be a different answer again.


I'll have to check on the axle extension. If you don't mind, send me your phone number at goghgoner@yahoo.com. Once I start working the markets, I should build some relationships with other farmers but right now I am on my own with Eliot Coleman books so I could use helpline.

wyoming, thanks for that clear explanation of your farming realities, that's a nice thing to read here. There's an attempt at a solution to the CSA issue, I read about it a while ago, bike delivery, sailboats, etc, in Seattle. Can't fault these people for at least trying to return to some form of sanity.


If this "fire" in the ME is to be another of the large stair steps down and it's looking more and more like it, I'm at least grateful we are coming into Spring, a full growing season to prepare is like money in the bank for folks around here.

Don in Maine

Not that drought, floods and fuel shortages are bad enough; China is now looking at another problem.

Asia rice output threatened by pesticide overuse

The unbridled manufacture and use of pesticides in Asia is raising the spectre of "pest storms" devastating the region's rice farms and threatening food security, scientists have warned.

Increased production of cheap pesticides in China and India, lax regulation and inadequate farmer education are destroying ecosystems around paddies, allowing pests to thrive and multiply, they said.

The problem has emerged over the last decade and -- if left unchecked -- pests could lay waste to vast tracts of Asia's rice farms, according to scientists who took part in a workshop in Singapore last week.

...Lukacs said Asia's rice supply was made more vulnerable by the reliance on a small number of varieties, meaning if a particular pest gets a foothold in a crop, it could spread rapidly.

"In some countries, the majority of rice production is based around two or three varieties of rice, so that actually increases the risk to international food security if there is a big disease out there," he said

President Clinton Strikes Nerve with Ethanol Comment

I don't think most Americans realize the impact of higher food prices on other countries. This is a major contributor to the government overthrows in North Africa.

Yesterday one analyst who came back from China pointed out that Chinese food prices have increased 40% over the last year. By contrast, the average Chinese is not much concerned about world oil prices because they don't use much oil.

Analysis of USDA report US Crop Boom Not Enough To Rebuild Thin Supplies

The U.S. government’s forecasts are likely to fuel more concern globally that high prices could persist far longer than they did in 2008

Yesterday one analyst who came back from China pointed out that Chinese food prices have increased 40% over the last year

The Chinese government admits to 34.8% inflation for fresh fruit and veg but claims the average food price increase is only 10.3%


The price of foodstuff increased 10.3 percent year-on-year. Of the total, the price of grain, poultry and their products, fresh eggs, aquatic products, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits rose by 15.1, 10.9, 20.2, 11.1, 2.0 and 34.8 percent respectively.

This figure from the same body that puts out all the other Chinese data which everyone believes so it must be true ;-)

While China Cuts Energy Waste, the U.S. Just Wastes

Far-sighted planning can be a lot easier when one party has a monopoly on political power.

...But at least they have a plan. What do we have in the U.S.? On Wednesday, Republican Representative Michele Bachmann reintroduced her Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. The bill would repeal the gradual phaseout of traditional incandescent lightbulbs that was a part of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. As Bachmann said in a statement:

The government has no business telling an individual what kind of light bulb to buy. In 2007, Congress overstepped its bounds by mandating that only ‘energy efficient' light bulbs may be sold after January 1, 2012. This mandate has sweeping effects on American families and businesses and needs serious consideration before taking effect.

While China might be trying to cut down on energy waste it is still burning through fossil fuels at if there were no tomorrow.

According to official Chinese statistics, from 2009 to 2010 Statistical Communiqué of the People's Republic of China on the 2010 National Economic and Social Development, Coal Production up 8.9%, Oil up 7.1%, Nat Gas up 13.5%. Electrical generation was reported as up 13.2%

If you believe the Chinese data of course.

The linked article said as much

China ... is still burning through fossil fuels at if there were no tomorrow.

Sorry, but I feel I must jump in here and counter that it is the west, especially the US, that is 'burning through fossil fuels as if there were no tomorrow.' It is we, we, WE who are the profligate energy users/consumers/wasters. Let us not place blame on those who are only striving (with a loooooooooooong way to go) to emulate US(A.)

From Earthtrends, 2005 data:

(kgoe) per person
USA 7,885.9
CHN 1,316.0

Perhaps there is no tomorrow.

Too much silly 'news' about oil prices.
Would it be too cynical to ask if speculation is going on?


Article above: Who is to blame for $4.00 a gallon gas? How about $10.00 a gallon?

Steven Chu before he became Secretary of Energy told the San Francisco Chronicle "Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." Currently, $8.00 a gallon in some EU countries.

Since then he is quiet because there is no way that US citizen will accept a higher gasoline tax. However, with a high enough tax, the US could drastically reduce its debt. But that would not happen either. The money would be used for other means as usual and as demonstrated by European countries.

"However, with a high enough tax, the US could drastically reduce its debt."

Would it? If the money is going to gas taxes, then the rest of the economy is reduced by that same amount of money. the declines in government revenues from that, along with the costs of a crippled economy would likely more than absorb the revenue from the higher gas tax.

Would it? If the money is going to gas taxes, then the rest of the economy is reduced...

One could give back the raised revenues in some other form, like lowering some other tax, or spending the money. But, then you are not reducing debt. I'm not sure if using revenue to pay off bond holders has a stimulative effect? But, in any case an argument can be made for changing what we tax, independent of the question of how much should we tax. In the case of a gas tax, to the extent it decreases consumption it reduces payments to oil exporters (both by buying less volume, and affecting the global price), so a gas (I'd prefer oil or even carbon) tax transfers some of the financial burden off shore. I'm sure if Americans could figure this out they'd be wildly in favor.

The counter-example to the argument that gas taxes cripple economies would be Europe, which was the beginning of the discussion. While the Eurozone does have problems, I don't know that anyone would describe them as a bunch of cripple-up economies, because of their high gas taxes.

Germany is perhaps the best example of fast-rebounding growth these days, in a very socialist and high-tax environment, compared to our own in the US. It could easily be argued (considering China as well) that low taxes and hands-off policies such as our own produce a central government weak and ineffective on the global stage. The US economy over very many years has certainly been hung out to dry and out-competed often enough, by rivals with governmental systems we scoff at as unsound and economically inferior.

A relativly simple way to introduce a fuel tax would be to "backfill" the reduction in fuel price with a new tax after the current ME crisis has passed, in other words the price of petrol would reach the dizzying heights of say $4 a (US) gallon (it's over $8 here in Ireland) and then the crisis ended allowing the price to fall back to say $3 a gallon, the US government could levy a $1 tax per gallon. As consumers had already (grudgingly) accepted the price at $4 there sould be no issue with the price staying at $4.

That has been suggested before. In fact, I think it was suggested back in the '70s.

That probably would have been the time to do it.

Now, there's just no way it's going to happen, at least not in the US. There's a belief that the economy is too fragile to withstand high oil prices, plus the general anti-tax sentiment.

Some other countries are trying it. Usually reducing subsidies rather than increasing taxes. However, many are being forced to backtrack, now that oil prices are rising again.

Never ever going to happen. Never. A politician would probably be recalled right now should they even suggest this.

The only thing I could see is even if oil production/consumption were to turn more favorable, so that oil prices could drop down, to artificially keep them high and raise taxes on oil producers. I think the masses would love to hit oil companies as hard as possible. Lots of hate for oil companies.

recalled? If he were lucky, maybe... there are way too many gun-toting nutjobs being pumped up by the non-news folks

If the US ever did institute a high gas tax, it should be priced and earmarked to pay for our military. Maybe that would help curb the US appetite for foreign adventures.

You know, that might be the only way to get the support of the "Red states." The Blue states might not go along, however.

Methinks you have this analysis backwards.

Just my opinion.

You really think so?

I thought Red America was all for supporting the troops.

This disagreement is interesting. Maybe this proposal would get bi-partisan support as compared with other earmark proposals?

Yes, I do.

You are spot-on about the 'red state' folks (wherever they may live...quite a few in 'Blue States' as well and vice versa) 'supporting the troops'.

Sidebar: Of course this manner of speaking is a considerable simplification: IMO, many folks on the right seem to 'support the troops' by blindly sending the military blank cheques and refusing to question any applications of and/or acts performed by the military. To the point of cult worship by some folks.

Of course the implied corollary is over-simplistic. cartoonish, and wrong in many cases: That 'Blue State' folks (folks who are not Republicans or whatever) do NOT 'support the troops'. I assert that the vast majority of folks all across the American political spectrum 'support the troops', in that they wish the men and women in uniform well, wish them safety and happiness and fulfillment etc. These folks DO have great reservations about the over-application of the military (when all your tools are hammers all your problems look like nails).

So, you are spot-on about Republican/conservative/etc folks wanting to have a fully-funded current-sized military; in fact, many of these folks cartoonishly pine for an even bigger and more extensively-used military equipped with scads of even more expensive weapons.

However, I think that many of these same folks are so well-trained to knee-jerk at any mention of taxes that they would not go for this idea. Also, they would (perhaps correctly) assert that specifying specific taxes tagged straight to the DoD would undermine the military's funding. They would resent, and even flat-out refute, any tie between their driving habits and choice of driving machines to military expenditures. Even if they taxes from the General Fund from personal income taxes etc. that went to fund the military previously were done away with! American way of life is non-negotiable and all that jive.

I do agree that some non-Republican (liberal, progressive, moderate, whatever) folks may not like Daddy to take their T-birds away either; again, even if personal income taxes were lowered by the same amount.

However, I do think that a higher proportion of non-Republicans (vice Republicans) would go for this idea because they would recognize the explicit link between pain at the pump and military budgets and would hope that either or both of the following would occur:

1) People hate higher gas taxes...hence military budgets are reduced, hence gas taxes are reduced

2) People would drive less and therefore the U.S. would import less foreign oil, which may result in less impetus to have ME military misadventures and expenditures. (of course the concepts and effects of #1 and #2 would likely be linked).

Edit: We can make this intellectual exercise even simpler:

What would the reactions from Fox News, Rush (and all the other AM radio right-side-of-the-spectrum talking heads), Sara, Huckabee, etc. be to this idea?

I think the only way the Red States would get behind using less gas is if it's to help the troops. Like during WWII, saving gas so the troops can use it.

Blue States would be less likely to get behind this, IMO, because they are less keen on our overseas adventures. If presented with the choice of higher gas prices or pulling the troops home, they'd be more likely to pick pulling the troops home.

Hmmm...perhaps the right would instead pass legislation to de-fund Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and a lot of other worthless expenditures in order to have their cheap gas and diesel and fund the military as well, as well as preserve the GWB tax cuts.

I honestly do not think that folks would accept the linkage between higher gas/diesel taxes and funding the military.

Many folks would call it some kind of new world order conspiracy and insist that with a revocation of any and all government restrictions and rules, and perhaps with a healthy dollop of tax incentives for oil companies, we would be able to drill, baby, drill and Kerogen-Marl mine/process our way to preserve our BAU lifestyles.

Please do not take my discussion as being difficult with you; I agree that we have somewhat different opinions on how a 'gas tax for the military' law would be received by the wisdom of the masses.

So, for the intellectual exercise, I was wondering how much moolah we are talking about.

Looking at Wikipedia I found that, circa 2003-ish, it seems that the U.S. may have consumed ~ 120B gallons of gasoline and ~50B gallons of diesel.

I pumped that WAG up to 180B gallons of gas/diesel today, and used $700B as the annual military budget. My Winders calculator made the math out to be ~ $3.88/gallon gas/diesel tax...if we use $3.40 as the current gasoline price in the U.S., then we would be looking at ~ $7.28/gallon for gasoline today.

I only spent a few minutes of research on the Interwebs (Yes, I went to EIA site but didn't find a graph or table of gasoline or diesel consumption in the U.S. by year in 30 seconds, so I moved on!)

Therefore, my math (~$3.88/gallon tax to pay for the U.S. military) is based on loosey-goosey 'big hands' guesstimates...everyone feel free to correct this estimate using more exact/current numbers.

I think that $7-8/gallon gasoline would cause even 'red-state' folks to consider dialing back the U.S. military budget...or, alternatively, zeroing out almost every other bit of the U.S. budget and preserving the DoD's budget.

Of course, they could trade in their ~18 mpg trucks and SUVs for ~50-60 mpg cars, and therefore cut their $8/gallon fuel expense back to ~$2.66/gallon equivalent total yearly fuel cost, given the same number of miles driven per year, but that would require a negotiated change in their lifestyles and therefore would be reviled by Fox and Friends et al. and would go over like a fart in church/turd in a punchbowl.

I don't think you're being difficult; I respect your opinions.

I don't think it will be easy, but I do think a change in US opinion is possible. And the most likely way is the "wartime sacrifices" model.

No one's really asked the American people to make sacrifices for a greater cause. Bush could have, after 9/11, but his call to patriotism involved more shopping.

People on the right are very good at slapping bumper stickers on their cars but when it comes to actually being taxed to support the troops, no way in hell. Remember that both wars were off budget during the Bush administration so we could pretend they were free. Let's support the troops by bringing them home for starters. And let us remember that most of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are really contractors.

We should of course tax oil and everything else to reflect its external costs so that people are paying the true costs of their consumption. But that is another fantasy for another day.

Of course, if you slap a "support our troops" bumper sticker on your car, you are implying that there are people out there, driving behind you, who are not supporting the troops, and you are announcing your superiority to them and admonishing them to get with the program.

Only in the sick travesty that is America these days could this happen.

I could sense things were not right during the Bush years, especially during the 2004 election. It was like the country had changed, and quite dramatically.

But it took the 2008 crash and subsequent events to convince me that the country was actually finished and beyond redemption.

I'm now fully on board with Dave Cohen, Morris Berman and ilk, though I'm not necessarily happy about it.



What would the reactions from Fox News, Rush (and all the other AM radio right-side-of-the-spectrum talking heads), Sara, Huckabee, etc. be to this idea?

They'd have a bet each way. Odd and even days.

Support the Troops on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, anti-tax on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. And on the Seventh Day they go to The Hamptons.

No, "red america" is about SAYING they support the troops.

Get 'em in private and they'll say things like "The troops volunteered so when they are hurt it was by their choice and why should their high medical costs get covered?"

Ask 'em for PayGo on military....they launch into 'my taxes are too high already'

No. Taxes will never be supported by the red states regardless of the purpose or the thing taxed. It's better to just blame spending. Oh, here's an idea. How about higher gas taxes so the highway trust fund can be self sustaining without an additional injection of borrowed money?

That would give real meaning to the "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers which, more often than not, tend to appear on the biggest honking SUVs around like the Ford Expedition or the Chevy Suburban. Using lots of oil is one of the reasons why we have so many troops and private contractors directly or indirectly supporting our oil dependency on the middle east. Of course the military will dream up a reason or reasons to support their maintenance and expansion regardless of what is happening on the world stage.

hi ,
Iam developing a research hub for International trade . It will take me about 2 months . I am at the moment busy with the oil and gas section. Please check the link & give your feed back. The weblink is : http://gtrg.info/Leading-Producers.php .

If possible please mail us Your valuable feed back on contact@gtrg.info

Robert Rapier is hosting my guest essay on electric transport today...


John Carpinelli,

I see that you have repeated your presentation of your mistaken idea that it's possible to build an electric aircraft lifting system as you previously described on this forum. Your idea is (still) hopelessly flawed and violates the most basic physics and engineering principles. Worse yet, your latest version adds another concept about space flight, which is so wrong is laughable. Not to mention that the space elevator is another hopeless daydream as well. You must think that aerospace engineers are completely ignorant and that your wild ass daydreams must work simply because you say they will. There's no nice way to say this, your ignorance is astounding. You should stick to writing software, although, after this latest pile of s**t, I wouldn't trust your to program an alarm clock. (BTW, I have worked as a programmer and aerospace engineer, starting more than 45 years ago.) You talents might find better use working on Disney animated cartoons or computer games, where reality isn't an issue...

E. Swanson

Is the insulting tone really so necessary?

I think it makes you and TOD look bad more than it works to undercut John's idea.

I don't know that it seems viable, but I suspect that RR put it on his blogsite because it's coming in at these problems from different directions. Even if it doesn't pencil out as shown, some of this outside the box approach could fit into other systems or spur more non-linear thinking.

I considered that before I posted the comment. I actually started to be even nastier. This crazy idea has already been picked up and replicated across the net and it's likely that there are other people reading these claims without the knowledge to reject the idea. There's already too much bad science information out there on the net as it is. In the aerospace industry, there is NO TOLERANCE for error. I suspect that there are people who have lost their jobs/careers for less...

Edit: There's always the chance that JohnC intended this to be a joke or hoax, but he didn't add the smiley face...

E. Swanson

I barely have to look at the article. If it involves trying to suspend something in the air, that takes lots of power input with no letting off. It almost looks like a hoax from National Lampoon.

Maybe you should look at the article. It doesn't involve trying to suspend something in the air.

Well, yes it does. The diagram shows a tow plane continually flying in circles, supporting 10km of cable-rope heavy enough to support its own weight plus the weight of a fully loaded jet airline. On any reasonable practical definition, that's suspending something quite big and heavy (and dangerous should anything go even a little wrong) in the air.

Here is my favorite absurdity:

I don't know, sometimes you just get a gut feel of whether something will work or not. I won't lose any sleep over any of these ideas.

I'm wondering why the attempt to save air travel?

Despite the silliness of this particular attempt, maybe simply because not everyone shares a vision (your vision?) of going back to the primitive horse-and-buggy days.

Yes, because we all know that not having cheap air travel means going back to primitive horse-and-buggy days. What a ridiculous non-sequitur. And you had to add the little parenthetical "your vision?" personal dig.

Well, OK, sure, a bit hyperbolic. Then again, the airplane was first invented near the tail end of the horse-and-buggy days, and there was even some passenger service in the 1920s, when the horse-and-buggy days (and the stinking piles of fly- and germ-infested dung that went with) had still not quite come completely to a merciful and much-to-be-desired end. So maybe it would actually be going back to horse-and-buggy days in a literal sense, not just a hyperbolic one.

But more seriously, the original query was, "I'm wondering why the attempt to save air travel?" For one thing, once we (even hypothetically) seize for ourselves the right to rule out one whole technology or another (such as, yes, air travel) in order, perhaps, to please folks holding to this or that world-view, where does it stop? Is a 140-mph train also too much? 79-mph? 39? Or, more precisely, who gets to decide where (or if) it stops, and who has the right to impose their idiosyncratic world-view on everyone else?

Anyway, perhaps some folks just want to be able to go, say, from New York to California without it taking 'forever'. I could certainly imagine them wanting to have air travel, rather than go backwards (or be forced backwards by some politician or ideologue) into a more crabbed, provincial era when such journeys were prohibitively expensive and time-consuming for most people. It just doesn't seem possible to be surprised by that.

[Now, of course, people don't always get what what they want, and possibly they won't have it in this case. However, that wasn't the question; the question explicitly concerned what they might want.]


If one doesn't have airplanes, then one is for horse and buggy!

No wonder things are screwed up in the world.

There is a generation of people (including myself) who have grown up with science fiction, computer games and graphics, and of course Hollywood in all its modern glory - fake, CGI characters and all.

It took an existential crisis for me to realize it was all BS, and I've since become much more grounded in reality.

There are many out there who never will be.

I think you are right, only I think the movies that have had the most impact are the ones which depict a very violent way of life. Going back to the old cowboy movies before WW II, there's been this persistent image of the macho man who bullies his way thru life, killing with abandon anyone who happens to be in his way. The typical kid in the country, where satellite TV shoves this message out 24/7, may grow up with a very distorted perception of acceptable social interaction. Add in the US national obsession with violent sports, such as football and boxing, and we have a culture in which violence between people in real life situations is considered normal. I think the resulting psychology of the masses is that of the sociopath...

E. Swanson

Among too many other things to list in a blog post, I'm picturing (inevitable in the long run) sudden engine failure aboard the (staggeringly enormous to support 10-plus km of rope plus the full weight of a loaded passenger jet plus its own weight) tow plane. Or maybe I should picture all that rope just doing a Galloping Gertie some fine morning, with ruinous effect on the tow plane's airframe. What a mess - and with incredibly heavy rope flying through the air substantially faster than the stall speed of a fully loaded passenger jet (and of the tow plane), which it must for such a scheme to work at all, and, if the diagram is to be believed, approaching such speed along much of a 10km-wide swath, we couldn't expect the mess to be confined mainly to the airport grounds or buffer zones as often happens with air crashes.

There is often a huge distance from a daydream, or even a stunt at an EAA show, and a reasonably safe, viable, scaled-up product for everyday use. One important job of engineering professors is to get this point across to students. Sometimes they don't succeed, or a student dabbles in engineering without seeking or heeding their advice. But thanx for the laugh.

Rockman - Take a look at this and see what you think


An official Oil Spill Commission research paper by LSU petroluem engineers Analysis of Well Containment and Control Attempts in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Blowout in MC252 that is full of good stuff!

Thanks Bruce. I'll digest it with my Sunday morong coffee

Ok - I have been thinking about this and have actual answers that will enable life to go forward on just biofuel. Link below.


Russia's EU window of opportunity

The ongoing unrest in Libya may prove a powerful catalyst for improving economic relations between Russia and the European Union.
The transit disputes with Ukraine have been fully resolved; transit rows with Belarus are possible, but they will be sporadic; the Nord Stream pipeline network continues to expand and is likely to further increase the EU's reliance on Russian natural gas. This is how the Brussels-based newspaper New Europe sums up the current state of EU-Russia economic relations. It also casts the long-overlooked South Stream pipeline in a positive light: South Stream, whose completion looks much more realistic than that of the limping Nabucco, will bring to Europe an additional 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas. And since shale gas has proved a much less accessible alternative for Europe than expected, price competition between shale gas from the EU and Russia is likely a long way off.

I am a frequent reader of this site and tonight is my first comment. I hope I am not way off base in what I say. With the current state of the oil supply in the world I wonder at the attitude of the Democratic Party in the USA (I am a Canadian) when one of them today proposes to introduce fees on the oil industry for not producing oil on their leases.

US House Democrat Seeks New Fees for Nonproducing Oil Leases (I hope I put this link up properly)

How can those people even think of something like this when every day they put up barriers that make it almost impossible for an oil company or any company for that matter to succeed? I am a retired truck driver and I have no idea if overall the US has the potential to be self sufficient IF THE OIL COMPANIES WERE ALLOWED TO DEVELOP KNOWN RESERVES but with the current rules it seems from what I can fathom the government wants the oil industry to fail. From what I have read if I understand it right the USA would need very little outside energy if oil, coal, hydro electric, and nuclear power were allowed to progress in a reasonable manner. Instead they fritter away the future trying to make solar panels and wind mills the solution. Good grief I am a retired trucker with a grade 8 education and I know that won`t work. Now here is the important part. What can be done to turn this around?

Otherwise known as, "Drill Baby, Drill"

Don in Maine

I am a retired truck driver and I have no idea if overall the US has the potential to be self sufficient IF THE OIL COMPANIES WERE ALLOWED TO DEVELOP KNOWN RESERVES

Most of us are here because we believe that the answer to that question is no. Absolutely, positively no. Fossil fuels are a dead end, the only question is when.

Given that...do you understand the interest in "messing around with solar panels"? Isn't it better to try and transition away from fossil fuels while they are still available, rather than waiting until we hit the wall?

A lot of the confusion on the part of the public is undoubtedly related to loose talk about "oil shale" (or is it "shale oil" :-)). Many media figures assume that the reasons that these things aren't being developed is because of environmental laws, and they assume that these resources are economically recoverable.

And in reality, both of these are incorrect assumptions - if it were the case that the resources were economically recoverable, the oil companies would be lobbying hard to overcome any regulatory obstacles - and yet we hear nothing from them.

Yair...there is a common assumption that P.V. is a bit of a toy.

It seems to me though (even without the attractive feed in tariff) our 2.2Kw. system is going to make a big difference to our power bill as I head into retirement.

The installer had it up and running in about four hours and the meter was running backwards untill three-thirty that afternoon.

Would any one out there care to comment on what effect it would have on the Australian electricity grid if every dwelling was mandated to have (say) a 3.Kw. P.V. installation?

I don't understand all the ramifications of such a situation.


Scrub Puller...we are on the same 'thought experiment' wavelength today...

Thanks, Scrub. Couldn't have put it better.

Frankly, as 'Toys' go. A solar panel is pretty boring. It just sits there filling batteries or running pumps. It just looks like a Wall or a Roof, no sparkle or pizazz..

I really love it when dudes with Motorboats and Shiny Beefcake trucks start calling Renewable Energy components 'Toys'.. but it's not an argument I'd take too far, these are the guys who get very angry if you mess with their toys. (Make sure you don't call their Vintage Action Figures 'Dolls', either.)

Yair...It's difficult to get the idea across that there ARE things we could do to make life easier...my "radical" comments about reducing the speed limit so we can get better range out of light Mini Moke style EV's with compliant suspensions and skinny high pressure tyres doesn't seem to cut it in social conversation...

Can anyone comment though on what effect hundreds of thousands of 3 Kw systems would have upon the grid...would there be any negative effects?

As I have mentioned before on these pages I reckon people get too hung up on the concept that interrupted power is a problem...particularly for refrigeration.

As far as all the rooftop systems, I'm not the one to say, I'm all for it.

But I'm sure there are many who would be happy to issue somber warnings about what sorts of awful disasters might well ensue.. it seems that the small-scale storage solutions proposed for wind-farm districts, like Thermal Storage and Refrigeration storage would be ideally paired with this, all at the end-user's sites.. if consumers could be convinced to abandon the pay-as-you-go 'luxuries' of Just-in-time Energy Deliveries and actually invest towards the stability of a little Home Generation and Storage.

This toy moniker suggests a marketing approach: give the solar panels some pizazz. Why not? Every summertime Saturday night around midnight there used to be (and very possibly still is) a parade on College Avenue in Appleton, WI, of souped-up cars and trucks with elaborate lighting systems mounted on them and underneath them (this can't not happen in California as well, can it?) Simply spice up the solar panels with some LEDs, to much the same effect. Of course the all-powerful Homeowners' Associations that run so many people's lives for them might not go for it... :(

That's exactly why I've been encouraging people to make their RE equipment look like Tacky but Sincere Lawn Art.. Cheezy Nylon Windturners with some kind of advocacy for your favorite Canine Breed or Pretty Weather effect (Rainbows and Sunsets, etc,) Charming Miniature replicas of Americana ** ..

The HOA's and Neighborhood Assassn's seem to tear people apart for having the gall of putting Actual Energy Tools out in public view, as if you'd chosen to start using a Glass Walled Latrine or something, but if you played your cards right, there does still seem to be a moratorium on challenging one-anothers' bad taste and hokery, which might offer a Loophole.

**(I was considering a stealth campaign of actually putting little bike generators onto all the wee replicas of old farm windmills that dot the yardscapes of Americana, and running about on a morning constitutional collecting my freshly charged batteries, like picking up buckets of Maple Sap that had already been reduced and refined!! Who'd ever notice? HA!@)

This toy moniker suggests a marketing approach: give the solar panels some pizazz.

How much more pizazz does one need beyond you have electricity and perhaps hot water/building heat if that is the way you roll.

Oh, Eric, don't always be so darned dour and serious. I know written posts don't convey tone of voice, but c'mon now, enjoy a laugh...

it seems other people/countries are working on that as we speak:
The article is not related to energy, but the picture struck me with all the PV panels on the roofs of this little town in Germany!

I asked the question before on TOD:
What would be the effect if all people who bought a flat panel TV (not a necessity but a luxury), bought a PV system instead for the same price (in the US and CAN for example).
Anyone good in math?


Would any one out there care to comment on what effect it would have on the Australian electricity grid if every dwelling was mandated to have (say) a 3.Kw. P.V. installation?

I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations some time back on another forum. The answer was "technically feasible, but staggeringly expensive".

If the 'average' Aussie household used 15kWh/day (old figure, the fashion of poor-efficiency McMansions and all-year aircon has pushed this figure up), then a 3.3kW system in Brisbane should deliver about 2/3'd of the daily requirement (more in summer, less in winter). Places further south would be less, of course, but until you hit Victoria rooftop PV is perfectly viable. Even Perth is still in a good location. As an aside, an average of 3.3kW on every roof would cut Australias CO²e emissions by some 22.2Bn Kilos (in Oz, 1kW-e is fractionally over 1ton CO$sup2;, 5 million residences), or about ¼ of our total emissions.

The cost of this would make the NBN seem like a sunday icecream in comparison. Current retail costs (before rebates) of PV in Oz run to about $8,000/kW. 3.3kW on each roof, time 5 million roofes, would cost $132Bn (the fact we have to replace aging centralised power plants anyway at a cost of about $2bn/MW - before CCS - never seems to occur to people). Of course, we could just import panels direct from the supplier (China) in bulk, like we currently do piecemeal, which would lower the cost substantially (by as much as half or more), or we could convince someone to set up a factory locally, given the guaranteed demand (crazy talk!).

Combine this with R⁴ (Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle) and local storage (like 'old' batteries), and I'd be surprised if a household couldn't be energy-positive year-round.

The MSN over here is still on about the 'insulation debacle' and 'BER rorts', despite the fact they were amazingly successful and did the job required of them. Getting a massive, government-sponsored, non-coal program off the ground is a non-starter. :(

Addendum: Let's say we wanted to put PV on all those 5,000,000 houses, how long would it take?

Over five years: 2739/day
Over ten years: 1369/day
Over twenty years: 684/day
Over twenty years, divided by four cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, everywhere else): 171/day/city

You'd want to allow a day per installation, to allow for bad rooflines, access, tree-lopping etc. There's certainly enough sparkies to get the job done over ten or twenty years, but it needs to be kept up for years.

Of course, as time goes on, you build up a supply of skilled tradesmen (a qualified Electrician can install panels and hook up to the Grid, but if you want to create Renewable Credits, you need that sparky to be an Accredited Clean Energy Council Green Energy Installer or some such), but you don't want to end up at the end of the program with a pool of now-unecessary labour, so after the first few years, you'd need to put some sort of cap on installations/year.

Yair...thanks for reply Bellistner. Even to a tight wad like me it seems that eight or ten grand is not THAT much extra on the cost of building a new house...considering the advantages.

(I hope I put this link up properly)

No you did not. You can check your links, and blockquotes and anything else by using the "preview" button. If you hit the preview button which is just to the right of the "save" button it will bring your post up exactly as it would appear on the list, but will not actually post it. Then you can check your link and see if it works. If it don't you can change it and check it again. You can do this over and over until you get it right. Then you can hit the "save" button and post it.

US House Democrat Seeks New Fees for Nonproducing Oil Leases

Your link is most interesting Bob:

Of the 41.2 million acres of onshore federal lands being leased by oil and gas companies, only 12.2 million acres are producing, Salazar said. Of the 38 million acres of offshore lands being leased, only 6.3 million acres are producing...

"It's as if the oil and gas industry first asked for dessert, then ate one-fourth of their dinner and then complained to the manager about the service," Markey said Thursday during a hearing of the Natural Resources Committee.

We hear this crap from the right every day, "If the government would only let us drill we could supply so much more oil." But they are not drilling what they have. They are just making excuses.

Ron P.

US House Democrat Seeks New Fees for Nonproducing Oil Leases

"It's as if the oil and gas industry first asked for dessert, then ate one-fourth of their dinner and then complained to the manager about the service," Markey said

I think he's overlooking (probably deliberately) the fact that the oil companies are already paying rental on their undeveloped leases. The rental only ends when they start producing oil and gas, and then the lease is Held By Production (HBP) and they pay royalties on the production. When production ends, then the lease goes back to the government.

I looked at the terms the BLM is offering on their leases, and they are rather generous by the standards I am used to in Canada. They are offering 10 year leases, whereas we would get 2 to 5 years depending on the area (how hard it is to get a drilling rig into it), they are charging a 12.5% royalty on production whereas we would get dinged on a sliding scale ranging from zero to 50% or more (the more money you make the higher the rate you pay), and the rental of $1.50 to $2.00 per acre is rather modest, too.

However, you have to look at the land they are leasing, compared to the land we have in Canada. The US has had millions of wells drilled into it, and the stuff that is left is pretty marginal, so they can't charge a lot for the rights. If they add new taxes on undrilled leases, the oil companies will just drop the leases and not drill at all.

I think the US government overall is setting itself up for a pretty serious production drop in a few years. We'll see.

The drill, baby, drill folks have just had their bluff called. But they will blather on anyway about how our problem is that they have been restricted by the government. Well, it's time to put up or shut up. And listen up, Sarah.

Hello BobDevine

Welcome to the group of commenters on TOD.

The lack of any semblance of an energy policy in the U.S. is perplexing. When many people would like to see intelligent debate about what is clearly (to me) the most critical issue facing this country - what we see is Congress trying to convict Roger Clements for steroid use.

But I would urge you to study these issues with respect to energy independence. Some of us believe after studying this that the real issue is not that oil companies are not allowed to drill known reserves. Because if all of that changed the USA would still be facing a future of dependence from foreign sources - and by a large and growing margin.

We are entering a new world - a world of scarcity - both here in the U.S. and in the world. When you add up all of the potential flow rates of oil from the known reserves in the U.S. it becomes a sobering reality. Energy interdependence is the new reality - not energy independence.

PLease keep asking questions - and don't accept what i just said without looking into it yourself. I am sure others on this site will answer you in a different way.

Again welcome.

Bob – Don’t be shy….you bring up good points.

I’ll be brief and offer a very experienced (36 years as a U.S. petroleum geologist) and biased (IOW I’m right so don’t argue). The vast majority of ONSHORE viable oil/NG leases here are privately owned and are available to all companies. Also not all ONSHORE govt leases are off the market. Companies have been drilling on fed lands for many decades. I don’t have any source to show what percentage of the fed lands are off the market. I suspect small and, more importantly, limited oil/NG potential compared to our consumption.

OFFSHORE: A whole different story. Yes…a large chunk of OCS has been off the market for decades. Except for CA no great potential has been proven in any of these areas. OTOH the Gulf of Mexico has been the Mother Load for U.S. companies for many decades. Some of those leases belong to the states but the vast majority are govt leases. Virtually no practical limits ever. Thanks to BP we’ll suffer a lag time in future development but just a minor blip on a long term scale.

Bottom line: IMHO all this chatter, on both sides, is just a pile of stinking BS. I’ve got long haul trucker friends so I knew I could express myself in language you could readily appreciate. LOL. It’s all just a wasted distraction from the important issues we need to be addressing. But hey, what do I know…I’m just a dumb rock licking geologist.

Back to school, Bob. It's clear that you haven't grasped the fundamental concept of finite resources on a finite planet. While it may be true that we could be going after these energy sources more agressively, this only means that we will further our dependence on them and that they will run out sooner, and while doing so, we will further damage the only home (biosphere) that humanity has. This isn't some liberal myth; it's fact.

Has it not occured to you that we have an obligation to our childrens' children to leave them more than a spoiled and depleted world? IMO, this question trumps all others.

"Instead they fritter away the future trying to make solar panels and wind mills the solution. Good grief I am a retired trucker with a grade 8 education and I know that won`t work."

Jeez, Bob. It's been working for me for 15 years. At least I think it has :-/

Has it not occured to you that we have an obligation to our childrens' children to leave them more than a spoiled and depleted world? IMO, this question trumps all others.

Ghung, we live in a myopic world, concerned only with the mundane events of the day. I know, I know we should be concerned with the future and all of us should be doing the things necessary to protect the environment and doing all the other things to make tomorrows world bright and sunny.

My dad used to say: "Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if everyone was honest." Yes it would and if everyone realized that we are overpopulating the world and used birth control, and used less fossil fuel, and recycled everything possible, and stopped killing off all those animals and driving them into extinction, and... Well you get the idea.

No, your question does not trump all others because it posits a world that is impossible, a make believe world where people can be told the facts and actually change their behavior. No, that is not going to happen. We are going to keep on living like drunken sailors going through his rich uncle's inheritance as if there was no tomorrow. It is foolish to believe that human nature can be changed simply someone points out what we are really doing to the world.

We will leave the world spoiled and depleted. The thing everyone should be doing is making changes in their personal lives that will enhance their chances of being among the survivors.

Ron P.

I actually think you validate my question, Ron. It's not my fault if the answer sucks.

Well, the good news is the collapsing of our ridiculous, self-annihilating economic system could give us a good jolt to try an achieve some level of rational operation. It's pretty obvious we still have major economic shock waves on the immediate horizon, If like minded rational individuals led a revolt against the fundamentalist church that is modern economics(essentially our majorly flawed guidance system which governs all of civilization through it series of protocols and an inherent scientific blindness). Something akin to the European Renaissance's revolt against divine right. Yes, doubtful, but it does appear to be a window of opportunity.

Now, there is an ugly alliance in the US. The bootstrapper-maverick, sink-or-swim, angry-white-christian coalition on the font lines and the uber-elitist, trickle-down-economics, scorched-earth-capitalist, radical-jihadist generals that call the shots at a safe distance from the field of battle. Now, this small but powerful alliance wields enormous power and as things deteriorate, undoubtedly, will become more extreme in there fundamentalism. On the plus side, there has never been a time in history when such a large portion of the population is waking up to the stark fact, that the foundational gravitation of social operation is leading to social disaster.

The elites hold that the common good is an undefinable and therefor empty notion. They maintain that it is up to society’s leaders (them) to tell the masses what is in their own interests. They snatch up every corner of add space to foster the myth that consumer choice is synonymous with democracy and freedom(including brand blue and brand red politics). They justify America’s decadent economic inequality as necessary for the “accumulation of capital” (the “rising tide floats all boats” gem). They engage in military campaigns abroad to spread the “good news” of capital, privatized national resources, and bourgeois consumerism.

The elites hold that the common good is an undefinable and therefor empty notion... They maintain... They snatch... They justify... They engage...

And they just do all sorts of mean and very nasty things.

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without belief in a devil.
-Eric Hoffer: The True Believer.

For those who live in a black and white world there must be two sets of people, culprits and victims. The culprit is the devil and the victims are the poor people who suffer from his evil plotting. The "elites", whomever they are, are your devil Arraya

Ron P.

Here you go peddling your version of doom again. A world where, curiously enough as you call yourself Darwinian, evolution of mankind has STOPPED!

Well events in the middle east and indeed around the world have proven that you and the propagandist for the powers that be have are full of ....as my father used to say...blue mud.

The vast majority of people around the world are standing up for tolerance, shouting down those who attempt to sew hatred, and fear. It is becoming very clear that it is only through manufactured ignorance that all of the negative attributes that you, Darwinian, label humanity with, can thrive, and the internet and social networking has put paid to that farce.

It is time for you and others to retire quietly as you and your beliefs are simply wrong.

Watch all of this and pay close attention. I have not seen this kind of universal solidarity since right after 9/11 and this time it will not be co-opted by neo-cons and the military industrial complex;


Both world views are valid and can operate simultaneously.

Per Ron's comments, the need for scapegoats seems to be human and universal. It is easier to find a reason why I shouldn't exert myself than to actually exert myself. It's been said that humans, like all species, are economic. What little amount of work gets me some sort of acceptable outcome?

Many people have determined for themselves that their circumstances are "acceptable" so they stay in the same relationship, job or government far longer than they should. Sure, they complain and grumble but their circumstances are not unacceptable enough to actually work on changing the situation or rising up in revolution.

And, from time to time, people can collectively decide that their circumstances are no longer acceptable to them. Then we get what we are seeing in the ME.

EE, as an aside, don't get too excited about middle-east democracy. It will likely be very short lived since we are, in my view, moving into the last stage of our civilization. The people will want a strong leader to restore order and security once we have lived in the last stage (ochlocracy) for a while. Perhaps the cycle starts again.

  • Monarchy
  • Kingship
  • Tyranny
  • Aristocracy
  • Oligarchy
  • Democracy <-- many countries are here now
  • Ochlocracy ("mob rule")


Per Ron's comments, the need for scapegoats seems to be human and universal.

Systemic operation is a problem, and of course, the ones than benefit the most from it obviously want to propagate it's silly self-destructive mythologies and have the power to do so.

Ok, you don't actually have to see the point I'm making :-).

It took the Wars of the Reformation and the Thirty Years War to break the power of the clergy in Europe, the latter resulting in a reduction of the population of Germany by at least 30%.

It took the French Revolution/Napoleonic War and WW I&II to break the power of the imperial monarchs of Europe and Asia, the latter resulting in at least 200,000,000 deaths if you include the influenza epidemic, civil wars, revolutions, pogroms, famines, and purges during 1914-1949.

Then in the most misguided foreign policy in history, the Anglo-American forces supported monarchies in the Islamic world, including Mohammed V of Morrocco, Idris of Libya, Farouk of Egypt, Hussein of Jordan, the Shah of Persia, and most perniciously King Saud of Arabia, as well as monarchs in an assortment of lesser states.

King Saud was especially a mistake because this represented not only instituting a monarchy, but also a theocracy, and established both the monarch's power to rule by hereditary right, but also the power of the clerics to rule as god's representative.

So despite the experience of hundred of millions dead to defeat these two doctrines elsewhere, we foolishly imposed them upon much of the Islamic world.

Some of the monarchs have fallen. They have been suceeded by dictators, much as Hitler followed the last Hohenzollern and Stalin followed the last Romanov. It is natural for dictators to attempt to establish a new monarchic dynasty, as Asad did, Mubarak and Gadhafi attempted.

Let's hope that monarchy, dictatorships, and theocracy can be erased from the Islamic world, and at far less cost than it took to remove the Pope, the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns, the Romanovs, and the Qings, as well as to draw the teeth of the imperial houses of Britain and Japan.

Many people have determined for themselves that their circumstances are "acceptable" so they stay in the same relationship, job or government far longer than they should. Sure, they complain and grumble but their circumstances are not unacceptable enough to actually work on changing the situation or rising up in revolution.

I disagree, I think most people buy into the "Just world myth". The Just World myth is central to the narrative of capitalism . The purveyors of Our Way of Life promulgate this odious lie, because if Debbie Middle Class truly understood that failure isn’t always earned, then then she just might figure out that success isn’t always earned either. And if success isn’t always earned, well… heavens to Mergatroid , Snagglepuss, maybe those richer-than-thous aren’t holier-than-thous after all.

Herecy! “Send ‘em off to that Gulag they call Europe”, I can hear them shouting. And unfortunately, most of that heckling won’t come from the orchestra seats, but from the peanut gallery. Because it is the working/middle classes, the ones who have toiled in the trenches of status anxiety and felt the fear of failure sting like a jockey’s whip, it is they who are most invested in this poisonous meme.

Nor could they suffer lightly the indignity of accepting that their economic inferiors might be their moral equals. No, no, no. Too many dangerous questions would follow. The hierarchy must be maintained at all costs, otherwise, they might have to reconsider WTF they’ve been doing with their precious time on this planet. Remember, this is their America, and in their America the one with the most toys at the end wins. So suck it up, walk it off, be a man, do your job, and take it to your grave.

Here you go peddling your version of doom again.

Eeyores, I often give my opinion about what the future holds but the post you replied to had nothing even remotely connected to doom or the future. You can't just respond to a post on one subject and reply to something that was not even connected to the post. Don't you understand that there are rules of posting here?

A world where, curiously enough as you call yourself Darwinian, evolution of mankind has STOPPED!

Taking out the part between the commas the sentence reads: "A world where evolution of mankind has stopped." That is not a complete sentence and it makes no sense whatsoever because it is not complete. I have no idea if you are saying that evolution of mankind has stopped or if you are saying that I make that claim.

Your next paragraph makes no sense either. The vast majority of people around the world, as you put it, are behaving exactly like they did half a century ago. Do you actually believe there were no revolutions before the internet? Obviously history is not your strong suit.

It is time for you and others to retire quietly as you and your beliefs are simply wrong.

Well I am sure I hold some wrong opinions, everyone does, but I am not sure which opinions you are talking about. But you were responding to my above post so I suppose you were talking about my opinion that some people see everything in black and white. Of course almost nothing in this world is black and white but some people still divide the world that way.

But I rest my case Eeyores, you are one of those people who see the world in black and white, you must have a devil to blame the world's problems on. Someone, by God, must take the blame! And the blame must be placed on the shoulders of the elites, or people who's belief are simply wrong. That is opposed to those who are not elites and who's opinions are simply right. Strange but I never considered myself one of the elite. But then I have never really figured out just who "the elite" are so I really wouldn't know.

- As for pointing to our mental failures with scorn or dismay, we might as well profess disappointment with the mechanics of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, the degree of disillusionment we feel in response to any particular human behavior is the precise measure of our ignorance of its evolutionary and genetic origins.
- Reg Morrison, The Spirit in the Gene

Ron P.

Nice job of not addressing the gist of my comment.

I am particularly NOT a black and white thinker and in fact I reject your simple minded (tho overly verbose in expression so as to make it sound definitive) position that mankind is simply rapacious, greedy, violent, selfish and that is that. This is total BS.

Yes mankind has the potential for those attributes but just as a pet dog has the potential to bite his loving master if that loving master corners the dog and threatens him, that does not define the dog nor mankind.

While change seems to be happening and many people in the middle east are finally demanding change, it is not clear what the nature of this change will be. Regardless of whether or not there is a new tolerance and even a certain move toward democracy this does not mean that there will be the kind of change needed to reverse the ecological and resource catastrophe to which we are headed. The price of bread was partly responsible for the movement in Egypt but the price of bread will not go down because of their success unless it is just taking from one hand and giving to the other in the form of subsidies.

Assuming that there will actually be realized a sense of solidarity, those who are in solidarity better figure out how to share a shrinking pie. I think much should be resistributed from the rich but this will not solve the whole problem by any means.

I don't see the evidence that billions of people are going to be willing to restrict their consumption of anything for the sake of humanity or the ecological fabric on which it depends.

Yeah, you right.

Create an educated middle class with access to global media - they gonna want what the OECD has - but it ain't gonna be there - trouble ahead. Sorry for being cryptic, just back from my fourth Mardi Gras parade of the day.

I suppose you think it is "human nature" for a suicide bombers to blow himself up rather than some sort of indoctrination for the "greater good". The fundamentalist religion that is capitalism is not much different. Where the majority blow themselves up for the greater good of the ruling class through accepting a bizarro anti-science, anti-human and socially destructive system. Noam Chomsky had a wonderful word for this - "manufactured consent". It's how you get a bunch of poor rural people vote against universal heath care not to interfere with capital accumulation of a small minority against their best interest.

Yes, there is no ruling class, I mean, the ones at the top of the wealth pyramid hold no sway of policy or public opinion. That would be absurd. You know, these people do have names and venues for spreading their virulent ideologies. Why do you think they spend so much money to confuse anything environmental? You don't think they do it for fun, do you? Heck, you can easily find all their fundamentalist think thanks and where the money is coming from. It's not a secret.

Sorry if I treaded on your "faith" that we are at the pinnacle of social organization and capitalism is anything less than a wealth extraction program for a small minority governed by quasi-religious, pseudo-science set of rules and money priests. I'm doubtful, but do have hope we will abandon this virulent ideology.

Noam Chomsky had a wonderful word for this - "manufactured consent". It's how you get a bunch of poor rural people vote against universal heath care not to interfere with capital accumulation of a small minority against their best interest.

Ha. Nicely put! Have you got a link to that? Wouldn't mind having a read/listen myself...

Noam Chomsky: Manufacturing Consent 1 of 9

Great video. I listened to it several months ago. However there is a much longer video, a documentary, where Chomsky expresses this idea. This YouTube video is just an interview about that documentary.

Ron P.

Manufacturing Consent is also the title of one of his most popular books, published on 1988, written with Edward Herman. I don't agree with everything Chomsky (or anyone else, for that matter) says about linguistics or politics, but he is a frighteningly bright guy, and his views are not to be dismissed lightly.

Thank'ee kindly. Will add to my queue list!

I suppose you think it is "human nature" for a suicide bombers to blow himself up rather than some sort of indoctrination for the "greater good".

Funny, I didn't see anything in my post that even remotely suggested such a thing. But it should be quite obvious that the two are not mutually exclusive. It is in the nature of some people, actually most people, that they are subject to indoctrination.

Yes, absolutely yes, Chompsky was right, it is possible to manufacture consent. Hell the whole advertising industry is based upon this fact. Were you of the opinion that this was something that existed outside human nature, that being subject to indoctrination was not part of the human predicament?

Sorry if I treaded on your "faith" that we are at the pinnacle of social organization and capitalism is anything less than a wealth extraction program for a small minority governed by quasi-religious, pseudo-science set of rules and money priests. I'm doubtful, but do have hope we will abandon this virulent ideology.

You are talking absolute nonsense now. I have never stated that anything of the sort. In fact I have posted over and over how we are destroying the planet. But it is our numbers that are doing it, not our political system. We, Homo sapiens, are in competition with every other species on the planet for territory and resources. And we are winning... big time! We are kicking butt, literally driving millions of species into extinction. We are doing it because it is simply in our nature to do so.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
- John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

Ron P.

Industrial capitalism is a big misallocation of resources and essentially a waste machine. The top 20% consume more than the bottom 80% and this is where "growth" in consumption is focused(which needs cyclical consumption for continuation). The top 20% wastes( and when I say waste I mean straight into a landfill with little more no use) more resources than the bottom 80% by a magnitude. The top 30% account for almost 90% of private consumption. And it's all those poor brown people having too many babies and using too many resources!! So it appears money is a bigger issue than sex. Coupled with our massively inefficient city systems - makes the industrial first world's social organization and operation the problem. Which is fueled by nonsensical economic dogma and a necessitation of resource growth just not to completely collapse. As well as our insane desire to export this system everywhere like a bunch of religious crusaders - often by force. Efficiency and sustainability are antithetical to profit. Period.

The biggest blindness is caused by the price point as a "valuer" of natural resources. It has no physical referent and it completely meaningless except to an interpretation of where a supply/demand equilibrium is. What is the net energy of $100 in oil? How much is left at $100. Who knows! It's a meaningless number - that drives all decisions. As well as it's inability and refusal to "value" externialities because they are outside of the market system makes the whole program a big fail. What we have massive systemic operation problem and a value disorder- not a problem with genes. Now I am not saying understanding population dynamics is not important, it is big time but before we start playing "Survivor" earth edition maybe we should investigate and understand our systemic operation a little better. Personally, it looks like the debt ponzi-scheme is going to come tumbling down and cause enough social upheaval in the first world that will actually take stress off the third world. So our collapsing economy is essentially good for the majority of the planet. lol

Also, the idea that genes "program" behavior and serve as the blueprint of physiognomy is wrong, a product of our mechanistic worldview; evidence is emerging that the environment triggers and even alters DNA. Your view of "there is just nothing to be done, it just human nature" is kind of like the invisible hand will fix all resource issues so we should not interfere. Which really is a ruling class, religious rule not to interfere with their capital accumulation or get any fancy ideas about social control of emerging problems. You can't even really talk about human behavior outside the context of environmental stresses, cultural values via propagated mythologies, etc. And we create those to a big extent. We need new ones, fast!

Arraya I agree with what Ron is saying, and disagree with your comment.

Industrial capitalism is a big misallocation of resources and essentially a waste machine.

It's just human nature to exploit as much of our natural resources as possible to enhance our standard of living. It's also human nature to care about ourselves and our tribe (family, friends,...) before worrying about other more distant populations. Industrial capitalism, misallocation of resources, money, etc. is just a byproduct of human nature, and not the other way around as you are suggesting.

And it's all those poor brown people having too many babies and using too many resources!!

This is where you miss the key point. It doesn't matter if the babies are brown, white, rich, or poor -- it's the numbers that matter. Most poor people are not poor because of choice, but because of circumstances that are ususally out of their control. Nor do poor people conserve resources because of higher moral values, they conserve resources because they have too. Poor people who for whatever reason become rich waste just as much as people who have always been rich. Just watch how most lotto winners behave. And most of those poor want to and will attempt to become rich.

The key point is that all those babies being born in developing countries are no different than babies born in rich, developed countries. Almost everyone on Earth wants a high standard of living, and that has everything to do with wanting to waste things. In other words, poor people are no better than rich people morally. What's destroying Earth is the average standard of living multiplied by the number of people, so yes having too many babies is bad for the environment. It's simple mathematics, 10 billion people will destroy Earth faster that 1 billion. And almost everyone wants a high standard of living, that's why we're hooped.

It's just human nature to exploit as much of our natural resources as possible to enhance our standard of living.

No, this is a systemic requirement and part of our social organization. Human nature is survival and to strive for happiness and yes, obviously, we need resources to survive and prosper. This can manifest in a myriad of ways. The survival of capitalism depends on constant expansion of resources for growth and a good bit in the form of pure waste for profit, cyclical consumption, etc... It certainly is not needed for human survival. This is not human nature it is a "systemic necessity" and fomented through the trillion dollar advertising industry, planned obsolescence and commodifying absolutely everything to increase GDP.. and this is going against our survival at this point. Wasting massive amounts of resources is not a human need. Maybe realizing this is part of our evolutionary fitness. Your job, now, as a citizen is to maintain consumer confidence and take on debt. Unless of course, you don't have the means then your job is to blame yourself.

American middle class doubled their consumption in 60 years. It just so happens that was needed to maintain capitalist growth. You misplace cause and effect. People are incredibly malleable. Being frugal with our earth's resources is a good value and one that goes against profit and the values propagated by our utterly schizophrenic culture.

Economize - to manage economically; use sparingly or frugally. Does capitalism economize resources? Can it even really be called an economy if it's main function is a race to use resources as fast as possible for it's needed growth not to collapse? The reason all politicians frantically clamor on about growth is because the system will collapse without it. Period. You could not design a more idiotic and wasteful system that preys on poor behavior and weaknesses. It's system based on junky mentality wrapped in fallacies and superstitions.

This is where you miss the key point.

I did not miss any point. I was pointing that pointing to that pointing to people having too many kids when all consumption and environmental degradation is concentrated in small minority is cultural bias and basically a defense mechanism. And a shallow one at that.

Human nature is survival and to strive for happiness...

Well I have never heard that one before. Human nature encompasses a lot more than striving for survival and happiness. There is the sex drive, but I guess that ties in with happiness. But there is other things like jealously, the retributive urge, and dozens of others I could name. But Frugal is exactly right it is part of our nature to grab as much of our natural resources as possible... before the neighboring tribe gets it.

Not only are human societies never alone, but regardless of how well they control their own population or act ecologically, they cannot control their neighbors’ behavior. Each society must confront the real possibility that its neighbors will not live in ecological balance but will grow its numbers and attempt to take the resources from nearby groups. Not only have societies always lived in a changing environment, but they always have neighbors. The best way to survive in such a milieu is not to live in ecological balance with slow growth, but to grow rapidly and be able to fend off competitors as well as take resources from others.
Steven LeBlanc, “Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage” page 73

Look Arraya you just do not understand capitalism. It is not about what is good or what is right and not about how things should be. It is just what evolves when no other form of government is forced upon the people. Every nation that has had unfettered trade has had capitalism and their numbers would number in the hundreds throughout history. Heck Jesus threw the capitalist out of the temple, or so the legend goes.

Yes, we live in a dog eat dog world. That is not good it is just the way things are and the way things always have been. You may rant and rave about it but we are powerless to change it. Every time a nation forces changes and throws the money changers or capitalist out of the temple, as Russia and China did, the money changers eventually work their way back inside. They are back in Russia and back in China.

The reason all politicians frantically clamor on about growth is because the system will collapse without it. Period.

Nonsense. The politicians haven't a clue that this will happen. They clamor for growth because they want votes. If they can get a new industry in their district that is a feather in their hat and loads of votes on election day. But of course the system will collapse when growth stops. And growth will stop and the system will collapse. Growth will stop... then decline because the oil supply will start to decline. And collapse will lead to more unemployment and more collapse until...

Ron P.

...all consumption and environmental degradation is concentrated in small minority...

That just isn't true. Every single person alive today contributes to environmental degradation. Just visit a poor country like Haiti or Bangladesh where you'll notice that the environmental degradation is even worse than in developed countries. What they lack in per capita environmental degradation, they make up for with sheer numbers.

.. well maybe you just used a poor example, but Haiti's situation was very directly created by a small minority in the US perpetually undermining that country's ability to maintain a foothold on stable democratic institutions and agricultural practices. It wasn't benign neglect or simply imperious indifference, either, it has been stroke after stroke of clear offenses that have imbalanced that society.


It seems like maybe it was 'all for perfectly good reasons, and by the way, perfectly legal'.. but still this tragedy has all too much to do with Rich and/or White people protecting their riches.. as with the thesis above.

It's hard to change a decades-old bad set of habits and attitudes, it seems.

I agree that the form of capitalism in the U.S. needs to be substantially modified to include severe restrictions on the activities of the corporations, especially with regard to their influence on the public sector. Start by changing their charters to deemphasize profitability and to include more emphasis on social and environmental responsiblity. Failure to comply would result in charter revocation.

I would not abolish the market based system but would include social and environmental externalities in the pricing of all goods.

I do not think it is sufficient to simply say that capitalism should be abolished and replaced by socialism although I think Democratic Socialism is more compatible with a no growth economy than our current system.

The corporations, however, have such a stong hold on the mind space of the American people that meaningful change, if any, will not occur for a long time, if ever. The planet's going down so we might as well get used to it.

Capitalism, as we know it, has outlived its usefulness given our current predicament. This does not mean, however, that we should move to an economy where the bulk of the resources and capital is owned by the state.

Capitalism, as we know it, has outlived its usefulness given our current predicament.

And just what kind of forced system would you replace it with? Because once you removed that force, whatever it may be, then there would be a natural regression/progression to dog eat dog capitalism.

Remember capitalism is basically every man for himself. Grow a few turnips and sell them in your cart on the street. Raise a pig, slaughter him and sell the meat in the open market. That is capitalism. That has been the norm ever since the open market first came into existence. So if you are going to replace it with something else then you must use the heavy hand of some iron fisted government to enforce it.

Ron P.

I think some of the buried assumptions in 'Every man for himself' will get uprooted in the coming changes.

One, that a Man is really so 'self-made' without understanding the massive assistance of this trustfund in energy supplies that he's been able to access and exploit. Whether it's a 'Singin' Happy Barnraisin', or a Shackled, Beaten Road-Gang, the requirement of team efforts is going to have some clear economic advantages over the 'One-man band' approach.

Two, that we continue to allow Corporations to 'Be a Man', to assume the rights of citizens, yet grow to truly Therapod proportions and never have to die.. is a component of modern Capitalism that might not be able to glibly proceed under the sheer weight of coming limitations, both of resources and social pressure.

Community and Collective Effort isn't just a hokey Campfire dream.. it's actually an economic necessity for survival, but some of the current outgrowths of Capitalism (or in the 'context' of today's capitalism) have mutated that system, probably simply as a way that companies, in consolidating have basically been 'biomimics' of that core human inclination to team up for advantage.

It might not take the iron fist of some latter day Stalin to topple this model.. it seems they derive a lot of power from easy fuels, like the Therapods had, but that they 'may not scale' to a lower energy world.. and would decay or deflate from within.

One, that a Man is really so 'self-made' without understanding the massive assistance of this trustfund in energy supplies

You have the trust fund of tools like knowledge and the implementation of the knowledge in the form of metal and actual tools.

And you get to the point where one can be self-made via the good will of your parents.

Many of the "I'm a self made businessman" types are where they are from taking what they were left/given/married into and not actual self-made.

I'm sure you're perfectly aware of it, but Socialism (safety net etc) is not Communism (resources/means of production owned by the state)

It's just human nature to exploit as much of our natural resources as possible to enhance our standard of living.

With respect, I wish people would stop saying that and thinking like that.

There have been many communities of our species that have lived in balance with their environment and 'exploited' only what they needed to meet their basic needs, and have done so over extended periods.

Previously, I have given the example of the Australian Aborigines who lived this way for many millennia.

It is not 'human nature'. At least in the sense that 'human nature' means we are pre-programmed in some way as a species to behave that way.

Our species IS capable living in balance with rest of nature and this is a historical fact.

Previously, I have given the example of the Australian Aborigines who lived this way for many millennia.

And arn't they blamed for destruction of the mega fauna and making the interior of the country into a desert?

and the march of Eucalypts across the continent.

Humans arrived in Oz at the same time as the last Glacial, when there was a land bridge between Papua New Guinea and Cape York (although there's evidence they crossed the sea from the smaller islands to the north (they'd have had to invent sea-going craft to cross the Wallace Line anyway), so they can't be entirely blamed for damage to the ecosystem. But the mere fact that everywhere Humans arrive, there follows a local mass extinction, doesn't help their case.

In Australias case, the megafauna kept the grasses down, which reduced the fires, which kept the Eucalypts in check, which helped non-Sclerophyll Forest, which promoted rainfall. They knocked out the megafauna and the whole house of cards tumbled down. Then they adapted to their 'new normal' which involved deliberately setting fire to grasslands to preform the function the megafauna used to, but this only promoted Sclerophyll forest and further drying out of the land. Their Solution only created another Problem.

My readings on the megafauna extinction are that the causes are debated. You seemed to be convinced by the position that it was the arrival of humans? Just wondering if you have source/s for what convinced you of that position? Thanks in advance.

No source I have immediately to hand, no, just a general overview of a lifetimes reading. Based on that reading, I conclude that the Megafauna would have survived largely intact despite the climate change that was happening at the time (although with some extinctions, habitat size change etc). Australia has been drying out for along time, but if a forest can stay intact, it can retain a lot of water (the centre of Australia would still be arid, regardless). Humans arriving seems to me to have been the proverbial straw for the Megafauna and much of the flora, however (probably due to "firestick farming" rather than direct hunting).

Basically, I see the extinctions as a complex interplay between natural and Anthropogenic causes, with Anthro being the final straw, rather than the sole or initial reason.

A very reasonable position. It is a subject I have always found interesting.

I once heard a lecturer arguing against the Anthro cause say something like (tongue in cheek), "how confident would you feel about trying to kill a 3 tonne wombat with some pointy sticks" :)

Previously, I have given the example of the Australian Aborigines who lived this way for many millennia.

The Australian Aborigines lived this way because they had historically one of the lowest "potencys" of all modern human populations because of different reasons:

1) Low population density, therfore no "higher" forms of covernment (e.g. no larger terretorial integrity), no large-scale inventory holding, no big cities
2) Low overall technological level, even compared to Asia or Europe several tausend years B. C. (mean reason low population density and therefore cultural pressure, low trade and skill exchange because of relative isolation from the rest of mankind since 20.000 years --> extrem example are the (no extinct) Tasmans, which lost many cultural achievements of manking, e.g. cloth making)
3) Very weak and sensible environment (to overpopulation) because of the dry climate, especially also vulnerable soil --> feedback loop

So, yes, they lived "in harmony" with nature, but not because of the outcome of some purposed conservation but the lack of power and lack of the environment to support huge population (-fluctuations).

Agreed. And it was not my intention to suggest that it was part of "some proposed conservation" (apols for "in harmony" - bad wording done on the fly).

Sustained small population permitted sustained small footprint.

Is your reply intended as a refutation to my original assertion that it is not "human nature" to exploit our resources etc..?

Is your reply intended as a refutation to my original assertion that it is not "human nature" to exploit our resources etc..?

To some degree - yes.

The problem is that the human mind is capaple of accumulation powers (extend his phänotyp) no other Eukaryote is capable. So it turns out that we had to be very carefull with "nature" and indeed should make "proposed conservation" and only exploit the resources slowly and with care. Unfortunatelly our mind fails badly on the subjekt ("long term planning") in any way.

So my point is that there are only limitid options to "life in harmony" witht nature in the long run:

1) Lack of power/potency: nearly all forms of Eukaryots, Australo Aborigines, Inuit etc.
2) Purposed conservation

Neihter way is the way we choose actually...

Industrial capitalism is a big misallocation of resources and essentially a waste machine.

No argument here but you miss the point. No one is to blame for capitalism. Capitalism was not invented then forced on society by some evil force. It just happened, it evolved. The Merchant of Venice was a capitalist. The Great Silk Road was trod by capitalist and their camels. Capitalism is what happens when another form of government is not forced upon the people.

And it's all those poor brown people having too many babies and using too many resources!!

This is a real nasty habit of yours, implying that people hold a position that they have never even hinted that they hold. No, poor brown people are not to blame for anything. I have stated over and over that no one is to blame for the damn mess the world is in and I really resent you implying that I would blame poor brown people for anything. Damn man did you not read the Reg Morrison and John Gray quotes that I inserted in my posts above. Go back and read them THEN tell me who I blame for what!

What we have massive systemic operation problem and a value disorder- not a problem with genes.

The world is full of problems and disorder and of course there is not a "problem" with genes. No part of the general makeup of the human being can said to be a "problem". That would be really dumb to say something like that.

Also, the idea that genes "program" behavior and serve as the blueprint of physiognomy is wrong, a product of our mechanistic worldview; evidence is emerging that the environment triggers and even alters DNA.

Yes, biologists have known for decades that the environment, or some event, triggers genetic expression. But nothing alters the DNA after conception. Every cell in your body contains the identical DNA of every other cell. You have the DNA you were born with and it will never change. Cells can be damaged of course but that does not change your DNA, but it may change the DNA of your yet to be conceived children.

I don't understand your comment about physiognomy. "Physiognomy is the interpretation of outward appearance, especially the features of the face, to discover a person's predominant temper and character." And no one claims that genes are the only thing affecting a person's personality and/or temperament. It depends on the characteristic you are talking about but genes would generally be 40 to 70 percent of the input. If you are a blank slater, a person who believes that all characteristics of the personality are acquired from one's environment with no genetic input, then I am not going to argue with you. It would not be worth the effort.

Ron P.

"Every cell in your body contains the identical DNA of every other cell. You have the DNA you were born with and it will never change."

Ron, I suggest you need to rethink this statement. To what would you attribute evolution if not to mutation of germ cell DNA making it different then other cells in the body?

Hank, you dare question the Darwinian? ;-) No, seriously the statement is absolutely correct, no rethinking needed. All mutations are in the offspring. That is all pups in a litter will have some difference from the genes of their parents. If this difference beneficial and enables the pup, or cub, or whatever to survive longer or have more offspring then that trait will be passed on. If the mutation is harmful it will disappear with that one offspring.

Hank, your genetic code was formed at conception and will never change during your lifetime.

Ron P.

As I understand it, there are genetic changes which result from environmental insults. Cancers appear to be the result of genetic changes, such as melanoma, which may result from excessive exposure to exposure to UVB. I also understand that retroviruses insert their genetic code into a cell's genome, causing aberrant behavior.

E. Swanson

I don't understand what you are trying to say Eric. Your genetic code is in every cell of your body, billions of them! The fact that a few can be damaged and cause cancer, which also destroys the genetic code of the cells it infects, does not change that fact.

The debate was about evolution. Cancer has nothing to do with evolution other than the fact that it cuts life short and that member of that species can have no more evolution. The changed genes, the cancerous genes, are not passed on to any offspring.

That is not to say that the tendency for cancer cannot be passed on. But that tendency was there from the beginning, in the DNA pattern that was set at conception.

The DNA is not changed from learned behavior. It can be damaged however from radiation or something similar. If this damage is in the gonads, and only if it is in the gonads, then it can be passed on to the offspring. It is extremely unlikely however that this damage can result in a beneficial mutation of the offspring. Such damage is extremely unlikely to give the species an advantage as far as evolution goes. It is only harmful. Therefore it can be discounted as having any beneficial effect on the evolution of the species.

So what's your point?

Ron P.

Edit: Gonads are the testes in males or the ovaries in females. Just thought I would add that definition for those who thought the term only meant the testicles of males.

From the Wiki article:

When retroviruses have integrated their own genome into the germ line, their genome is passed on to a following generation. These endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), contrasted with exogenous ones, now make up 5-8% of the human genome.

The point is that there are genetic changes in DNA thruout life and some of those changes may be passed on to the next generation. Whether those changes are beneficial (or not) for the survival of the species isn't obvious. For example, there are naturally occurring carcinogens and individuals living within an area might suffer cancer if they do not have some immunity to those local chemicals in their food and water, which might remove them from the gene pool, etc...

E. Swanson

The point is that there are genetic changes in DNA thruout life...

No there is not! There is no such thing as THE DNA. Your DNA is repeated billions of billions of times in each cell of your body. You cannot possible change THE DNA (singularly speaking) because there is no such thing. Your DNA is plural, billions of billions of copies in every cell of your body. And each copy is exactly like every one of the other billions and billions of copies.

You are misreading the article. There can be damage to the gonads, into the germ line as it states, but this has nothing to do with changes in the DNA. There are no changes to your DNA throughout your life. Your DNA is set at conception and it never changes! Only changes, damage, to the gonads can change the DNA of your sperm or the egg in case of the female. This has nothing to do with changes to your DNA. That NEVER changes throughout your life.

For goodness read what the article says:

integrated their own genome into the germ line,

That is exactly what I said. If it damages the gonads and affects the germ line then it is passed on. But any damage to any particular cells DNA does not affect any or the other billions of cells in your body. Your DNA never changes.

Your entire DNA code is repeated billions and billions of times in every cell of your body. Do you actually think that all these many billions of cells can change the DNA code simultaneously? No, any radiation or damaging virus or whatever can only change the DNA of one cell. That may cause that one cell to become cancerous and start to multiply millions or even billions of times eventually killing you. But the DNA of other cells do not change. And obviously this destruction is not a Darwinian adaptation that is passed on. It simply destroys you, the host.

Ron P.

I didn't write ALL cells were changed, but that viral DNA got into the human DNA somehow. Did this only happen before conception, or did it happen while in the womb when there were only a few cells in the fetus or perhaps later? Do cells (i.e., sperm) in the gonads always replicate the same DNA, or can they be changed before conception without "damage" to the gonads? If a retrovirus invades your body, doesn't that change the DNA in some, but perhaps not all, of your cells, even though the infection may not kill? Cancers effect children before they grow old enough to reproduce and many pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions, both of which change the resulting genetic generational transfer.

E. Swanson

Hank, your genetic code was formed at conception and will never change during your lifetime.

Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny

Eric, do you normally do this sort of thing? That is change the title of the article to something the article does not even hint at? In fact you change the heading to say the exact opposite of what the article actually says.

The actual title of the article was not the one you posted but:
Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny

And the article does not say you can change your DNA but suggest that it cannot be changed:

At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation.

The article suggest that the gene expression can be changed. Hell that is nothing new. Gene expression generally alters behavior. And we know that behavior can be changed. Gene expression causes the Canada Goose to fly south but we know that the goose can be persuaded to stay right where it is.

But I find it interesting that you changed the title of the article to say something it did not say, in fact you changed it to say almost the opposite of what it really says. That says something very profound about you Eric.

Ron P.

Eric, do you normally do this sort of thing?

What sort of thing?

That is change the title of the article to something the article does not even hint at? In fact you change the heading to say the exact opposite of what the article actually say

I used the text from the Time website.

From the Title text.
title Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny - TIME /title

Ahhhh but that was NOT in the story you linked to. Had you clicked on that link this is the article you would have gotten.

How You Can Change Your Genes Dr. Lars Olov Bygren's research helps explain how a father's diet might affect certain traits he passes to his son.

You can, with your died, possibly change the genes of your OFFSPRING! However even Epigenetics cannot change the genes, even in the offspring. That "change" is just a play on words. What epigenetics tries to do is change gene expression!

Epigenetics In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence, hence the name epi- (Greek: επί- over, above) -genetics. These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for multiple generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism;[1] instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently.

Ron P.

Ahhhh but that was NOT in the story you linked to

Your exchange here says much about you as a person Ron.

Rather than admit "Oh, say turns out I was wrong" you go with an outright lie.

The TIME magazine story I linked to, in its title, says "Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny"

The HTML agrees with me. The Web browser shows it as the title. I believe it is considered in "good HTML form" to have the title of the article be your link title, just as I did.

Even the mighty Google agrees.
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Epigenetics%2C+DNA%3A+How+You+Ca... shows 4,930 results.

shows 4,930 results.

Eric you know very well you can google anything and get thousands of hits. NONE of the 4,930 hits you got actually says that your genes can be changed in a living person. If you read deeper into the articles they always come back to gene expression.

Eric, instead of quoting headlines why don't you quote a passage that actually says genes can be changed.

Your exchange Eric, says much about you as a person. This is the Time story you linked to:
Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny Just click on it from your original post and see.

Now apologize to me for calling me a liar. But I doubt that you will, being familiar with your posts.

Ron P.

Now apologize to me for calling me a liar

I have nothing to apologize for*, for it is you Ron who has misrepresented the case.

Clicking on my link shows the 17th line as Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny - TIME That text is the TITLE of the page.

The title location on the Browser shows Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny - TIME

These can be verified via view->control U with Mozilla firefox.


Title bar: The title bar is at the very top of your browser window; in both Firefox and Internet Explorer it is the blue bar there at the top. You'll see the title of the Web page there; for example, you should see "What Is A Web Browser?" at the top of your browser window right now.


Definition and Usage

The < title > tag defines the title of the document.

The title element is required in all HTML/XHTML documents.

The title element:

* defines a title in the browser toolbar
* provides a title for the page when it is added to favorites
* displays a title for the page in search-engine results

But I doubt that you will, being familiar with your posts.

I'll note how in post http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7593#comment-773303 you provide a different link than the one I posted and then do some handwaving about how its not the link I posted. Of course its not the link I posted - I posted one that said "Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny" as its title. Its a really poor strawman just so you can avoid saying "hey, I screwed up".

Typical of you Ron, when caught out rather than say "Oh hey I screwed up" you move the goalposts. Or you go quiet.

What's next a post about how you've decided to stop posting on TOD? How you are 'going to spend time with family' or some other platitude rather than go "Say, turns out I misread things mea culpa"?

*at least this time. Perhaps later I'll do something.

Clicking on my link shows the 17th line as Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny - TIME That text is the TITLE of the page.

Nope, Lines 15 thru 20 of the article reads:

In the 1980s, Dr. Lars Olov Bygren, a preventive-health specialist who is now at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, began to wonder what long-term effects the feast and famine years might have had on children growing up in Norrbotten in the 19th century — and not just on them but on their kids and grandkids as well.

Yes, it is permissible to use lines from the text as a link. But the lines you posted were not in the text. That is unless my browser is linking to a different story and I don't think that is possible. A link is a link and should be universal. Here is the story I get when clicking on your link... again!

Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny The title you posted is not to be found anywhere in that article. The first paragraph of that article reads:

The remote, snow-swept expanses of northern Sweden are an unlikely place to begin a story about cutting-edge genetic science. The kingdom's northernmost county, Norrbotten, is nearly free of human life; an average of just six people live in each square mile. And yet this tiny population can reveal a lot about how genes work in our everyday lives.

Ron P.

Your exchange is showing:

1) your ignorance in the matter of the title is not able to be cured with education.
2) you wanted to frame me in a negative light and chose to lie.

I'm done trying to educate you in this matter. I believe in this case the student is unwilling to hear the lesson the teacher is offering.

I'll leave it to others to decide if Darwinian is unable to be educated, just lying, or is too bull-headed to admit he was wrong.

He didn't change the title. If the title is misleading, blame Time. They titled it. Look at the topbar of the page.

Now can we turn it down a few notches?

Leanan, yes he did change the title. Go to his post. What he posted was.

Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny

But if you click on that link you do not get the title posted, you get an article titled instead: "Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny"

I repeat: He changed the title. But you are correct things should be toned down. I just get upset when someone calls me a liar when I was not lying. All he, or you, had to do was click on his original link to prove it.

Ron P.

No, he didn't change the title. Time did.

Look up at the very top bar of the page. The original title is there.

Ahhh now I see it. The title has been changed. I suppose they changed it because because they realized that it is impossible to change your genes. But the title lines Eric posted are not to be found anywhere inside the article itself.

I stated yesterday that there were billions of copies of entire DNA, your genes, in your body. I was wrong, there are literally trillions of copies of your DNA in your body. If your genes changed then every one of the trillions of copies would have to change.

No article linked to anywhere states that the DNA, or genes, can actually be changed. It is impossible.

I really don't know why I am arguing such a simple principle. It should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about biology that the DNA of a living person cannot be changed.

This is my last post on the March 5 Drumbeat. I shall not return even to read it again. How stupid can I get arguing with someone who actually believes that one's DNA can be changed. It is like arguing with a person who believes the earth is flat.

Ron P.

The title has been changed

No the title is what it is. I understand your desperate need to be "right" and to hang onto this "changed" narrative strawman you created so that you can keep up with your "Eric is a liar!" framing you've created, but the wayback machine shows the title was the same back in the middle of last year. http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20100726203123/http://www.time.com/time...

If one digs around one can find this page from Jan 24th 2010 close to the posting date showing a title exactly like I posted on the link.


This is my last post on the March 5 Drumbeat. I shall not return even to read it again.

Ahhh yes - the "ignore it" response.

And going with "I'm not gonna admit I made a mistake".

How stupid can I get arguing with someone who actually believes that one's DNA can be changed.

I believe you are the one who made the claim with Hank.

You then lied about what I had done to create a framing that I post lies. Rather meta of you - lying to complain about lying.

It should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about biology that the DNA of a living person cannot be changed.

And yet examples of viruses and mutagens like radiation/heavy metals/chemicals and cancer shows that the DNA can and does change. Others pointed that out and you went for your normal word splitting.

I just get upset when someone calls me a liar when I was not lying

I see.

And how was the text

Eric, do you normally do this sort of thing? That is change the title of the article to something the article does not even hint at? In fact you change the heading to say the exact opposite of what the article actually says.
But I find it interesting that you changed the title of the article to say something it did not say, in fact you changed it to say almost the opposite of what it really says. That says something very profound about you Eric.

supposed to be received? I believe I've received it exactly in the way you intended it to be received.

But perhaps you had a different meaning to "That says something very profound about you Eric." than your framing indicates.

Perhaps your willful misrepresentation of the facts Eric Blair changed the title of the article to say something it did not say, in fact Eric Blair changed it to say almost the opposite of what it really says was just your own ignorance?

I repeat: He changed the title.

And the claim is not correct.

All he, or you, had to do was click on his original link to prove it.

And doing just that proves you are incorrect. I've tried to remove your ignorance. Leanan has tried to correct your ignorance. How many others will need to inform you of your error before you give up repetition of the falsehood?

He didn't change the title.

Thank you for providing verification.

Now can we turn it down a few notches?

I know I had in my responses thus far. I had a whole page on epigenetics to go with the TIME link but deleted it once I had read the TIME link and went "Hey, the title doesn't match the text very well" not to mention the normal hair splitting word game Darwinian likes to play - because if one goes with genetic expression == genes then TIME has things right. But Darwinian will keep word-smithing/goalpost moving so he remains "right".

What'll happen is a new drumbeat will get posted and this exchange will fade to archive status (unless deleted)

The week is new and fresh - I'm sure I'll post something that'll need deleting/be way outside the bounds.

I figure the next time someone posts about how X is not mentioned in the mainstream press or about how the press gets things right/wrong this example from TIME can be trotted out.

It's not like we like to remove posts.

This is for both you and Ron: if you want TOD to go no comments, or all comments approved by a moderator before appearing...keep on doing what you're doing.

It's not like we like to remove posts.

And I normally don't mention when posts go "poof" - this is a private party run by its own rules by hosts who are kind enough to allow us all to come here. It only looks like a public place. Arguments happen because of the SOURCE of some bit of news, not over the news itself.

You, Leanan, do enough work with putting together drumbeats - I don't picture anyone wants the job of moderator so I'm guessing no-comments will be the outcome. Abuse made the end users profile pages go away. A lack of comments may or may not effect the pageviews and I have no idea how important pageviews are for the people here. At some point, an earthquake with the New Madrid or ME oil being shut down due to whatever reason, the load may be too much here to have open comments as I'm betting the bile of ME violence/pre-conceived messages will be reflected here. Events like the Yellowstone caldera or a CME would make "other priorities" far more important if not black out the machine or the internet.

At the point where someone ends up destroying the database backend with link-farming viagra **** I'm guessing that will be the fold the tent moment as rebuilding after such is a lot of effort.

It'll be a shame as I've learned things from others responses (like the fish/mammal prions) or in researching a response I find out my belief was mistaken. On occasion, I find out my wrongness after making the post. But change is the only constant.

Actually, it would probably be less work to moderate a forum where comments don't appear until approved. Many sites work that way (RealClimate, for instance). There would be fewer comments, because a lot of the silliness goes away. And since nothing appears until it's approved, there's no rush. The comments wait until you have time to deal with them.

You could also have "trusted users" whose comments are not moderated. Give people something to work for, if you will.

And it would take care of the spam problem.

The up to date freshness of the oil spill or the hurricane coverage would suffer but I'm guessing the next acid test will be when other nation states are crossing boarders or when the explosives used which exceed the 2 kiloton per blast range. The 'rah rah rally behind the flag of your choice' will make things ugly. Because many of the actors in these human on human violence were a "member of the party" till they became Emmanuel Goldstein whom we are to hate for 2ish minutes - and the poster who points this out is a skunk at the party.

The spam problem seems well handled at least from the user POV - the spammers seem to wait 'till the comments are in the closing window to post the spam and you then still have to delete 'em VS not approving 'em. (At least that's when I've found 'em and emailed the links to support) A moderation system just means the moderators get to read the spam and learn about viagra. I'm guessing the next issue will be spammers/link farmers posting links to text that do not match what is claimed - changing the link farm after the post is archived. And a 'trusted user' model won't address that other than their filters that somehow trust the site they are pulling from. Very little of the "this is a great site - go read my comments on this topic here"

A model where there are 2 sites - one where the 'bad' elements post and see other posts from other 'bad' elements meanwhile the public site never displays 'em has been done elsewhere. But that is still an administrative headache for others and no matter how clever the programmer is, this behavior can be sussed out and some people would cry "FOUL!" Better to just go with "our house, our rules".

I'm guessing the next issue will be spammers/link farmers posting links to text that do not match what is claimed - changing the link farm after the post is archived.

I don't think we have to worry about that. The vast majority of spammers simply don't have enough English to do that. They don't even know what this site is about, so their attempts to post something that fits in are hilarious.

The model seems to be based on 'this is a blog with comments' and the internet is littered with disused blogs where the comment sections were opened and so after X days the comment spam happens.

It pays off with all the dead blogs or old comments open sites - no need to adapt the model for the few places that care.

I've not seen web sites that have links change after posting 'cept those sites where the domain name changes and then they go from having data to link spam farm or even virus laden. You can see in google where the pages had good data and then things change.

They're wasting their time doing that here. We add "no follow" to all links posted in the comments, so it won't help their pagerank.

But since they can't read English, they don't understand the message explaining this. I wonder if it would be worthwhile to translate it into various other languages.

And many of the spammers do make an effort to appear like regular commenters. It's just pretty difficult if you don't speak the language.

My genetic code only existed for the time I was a single cell. In fact it could have been altered at that time by mutation before dividing.

With billions of cells in my body subject to mutation in the DNA, many cell's DNA will be different at the only time my genetic code counts; at procreation, where some of my germ cells may carry a different code than my "original" code and get passed on. Which is what you've said below. That my code never changes is just a tautology.

Interestingly, they've found when cloning animals, not all the clones carry DNA identical to the "original" code of the donor. This is because the cloned cell had been mutated.

Interestingly, they've found when cloning animals, not all the clones carry DNA identical to the "original" code of the donor. This is because the cloned cell had been mutated.

Are you sure you aren't talking about mosaicism? That was what happened with the first cloned cat. She looked nothing like her calico mother. That's because the calico pattern is caused by mosaicism. One of each pair of chromosomes is turned off randomly. Since the orange fur color is carried on the x chromosome, this produces patches of red on female cats who are heterozygous. Males have only one x, so they are either red or not-red. That's why male calicos are so rare: they are xxy, and usually have fertility problems.

My genetic code only existed for the time I was a single cell.

You are joking right? Your genetic code can be taken when you are an infant and 50 years later, if you commit a crime and leave saliva, semen, blood or even dead skin cells at at the scene scene, they can track you down. And your genetic code will be exactly the same as it was when you were one day old.

Yes many of the cells in your body can be damaged by radiation or whatever. But the damage will be to one cell and different damage to other cells. The other few billions of cells will still remain the exact same.

No, unless your gonads are damaged you will pass on an exact copy of your genetic code. But it will not be copied exactly as presented to the egg. There will be errors in the copying process. And the same can be said for the DMA presented by the egg. Half the DNA string comes from the male and half from the female, and there are always errors in this copying process. This is what cause variation in the offspring. Some like the word "mutation" but I think that word misleading. Variation is a much better word. It is the word that Darwin used.

Ron P.

Come on, Ron, DNA is subject to ionizing radiation (and other mutagens) all the time and some of it gets changed. I understand that most changes are neutral in effect so they cause no problems. If you took a sample cell and compared its DNA to the donors "original" DNA, there is a chance that it would be different. Using DNA for identification depends on most cells not being different (a preponderance of evidence) but a match would be at less than the 100% level. I certainly wouldn't depend on an ID based on the DNA of one cell, would you?

Not that this is particularly relevant to the argument in question, but people do have different DNA in different cells. In particular, most of us carry some maternal cells mixed with our own.

I find the whole concept of chimeras fascinating. There was a case where a woman was accused of defrauding the state because DNA tests showed that she was not the mother of the children she was getting payments for. Turns out, she was a chimera, and her gonads had different DNA from her skin and hair.

If you know someone who has eyes of different colors, they may be a chimera.

Leanan you are talking about a freak case where a woman actually had two different DNA types in different organs of her body. I saw the entire episode on TV. It was really fascinating. And you are correct again, as usual, it is not particularly relevant to the argument in question. ;-)

Ron P.

But all of us are chimeras to some extent, because some of our mother's cells crossed the placental barrier and were incorporated into our bodies.

INo argument here but you miss the point. No one is to blame for capitalism. Capitalism was not invented then forced on society by some evil force. It just happened, it evolved. The Merchant of Venice was a capitalist. The Great Silk Road was trod by capitalist and their camels. Capitalism is what happens when another form of government is not forced upon the people.

False, capitalism was forced on people through the government. See the "Enclosures" the inception of capitalism for example. It evolved in forced implementation kind of way. It was indeed forced on people. Early classical economists thought this was a good thing, actually. Not by an "evil" force but by the wealthy monied class and "those who know best". Feudal serfs did not want to be wage slaves, they actually lost freedom and fought tooth and nail not to be forced into it. There is a reason 19th century capitalism was so bitterly resisted which lead to violent conflicts between labor and the state. The history of the spread of the "all encompassing" market is one of constant force and coercion and could not exist with constant government intervention. It silly to think that our governing system is separate from our economic system - our two major decision making systems. And indeed, civilization is the sum total of our decision making systems logic. Our government's job is to spread capitalism and protect the wealthy

The Agrarian Origins of Capitalism

Adam Smith said:

"Whenever there is great property, there is great inequality. For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the rich supposes the indigence of the many, who are often driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. ... Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

That somehow forcing people to compete for survival needs and the subsequent price point manipulations will lead to "progress" Good grief, there is not a more deadly systemic delusion on the planet. One that has taken over the globe. Monetary voodoo that drives all resource decisions on the planet. The fact that we have let this become a science is disturbing. Capitalism got huge breaks to give the illusion of "working" such as Colonialism(land theft and slavery), ever-increasing amounts of energy, WWII and globalization(sweatshop labor) and our latest multi-decade debt binge. All coming to an end in a exciting collapse. Really all capitalism did was ride the wave of technological advancement and energy available from our fossil fuel fiesta. Of course, the ideologue will argue that these price point manipulations were needed for spawning innovation. Then again, during the Islamic golden age from about 800-1200 AD the muslims insisted it was because of Islamic law that they had great fortune and innovation. Both equally absurd statements, claiming that following some silly divine rules was the reason for social stability and technological progress instead of humans natural drive to improve life and innovate coupled with access to resources.

If you are a blank slater, a person who believes that all characteristics of the personality are acquired from one's environment with no genetic input, then I am not going to argue with you. It would not be worth the effort.

It's a false duality. Environment triggers biological responses. You can't talk about genetic input or behavior outside the context of environment. Just like the 10 million people that just lost their jobs over the past 2 years - I bet their behavior will change - the stress may even trigger chemical imbalances - leading to all sorts of bad behavior and familial problems. And you will say " Oh, well it's just human nature it must be in their genes" as our man-made social system crumbles forcing people into environments triggering bad behavior.

False, capitalism was forced on people through the government.

Arraya that statement is truly absurd. The Tunisia street vendor who set himself on fire and started this whole revolution thing in North Africa was a capitalist! The government bureaucrat who slapped him was doing his best to force this poor street vendor out of business.

Capitalism is what happens when no other form of government is forced upon the people. The proof of this is in every history book. Name one government in history, before the 20th century that was not driven by capitalism. Do you actually make the claim that they all had capitalism forced upon them when they desired something else?

Almost every nation that has ever existed had a form of capitalism in one form or another. And every nation, (that I can think of at the moment), that ever tried to suppress capitalism has failed and only came to better times when they embraced capitalism. Russia and China come to mind.

Environment triggers biological responses.

Arraya what has this to do with anything. Of course the environment triggers genetic expression. Cold weather triggers the Sandhill Crane to fly south. Almost every genetic expression has some kind of trigger, that is what the genetic code is all about. Some genes, like the genes for blue eyes and other physical development, do not have an environmental trigger but most other do. The genes that control behavior must, by their very nature, be triggered by something in the environment.

As far as people who lost their jobs, of course their behavior will change. Fear for their family will trigger some genetic expression and everyone will have a slightly different reaction. And if they get hungry enough it is unpredictable what their reaction will be.

I think Arraya, that you haven't a clue as to what genetic expression is all about.

I have several very good books on the subject that I could recommend but I feel I would just be wasting space.

Ron P.

I agree, capitalism is just another name for a basic human characteristic. It derives from a desire not to waste excess production. Not everybody in the tribe sat around making arrowheads. It's called division of labor which ultimately allowed humans to become civilized. That's my take.

arraya, while the attempt is somewhat admirable, it's a totally lost cause. You can't argue history and anthropology with people who have barely studied the matter enough to make meaningful statements about it in the first place, or who have always looked at the matter using critically unexamined cultural blinders. Given some 1/2 to 1 million years of ongoing human or proto-human presence on this planet, much of that done in pretty much totally sustainable ways (not at all difficult to find in your local bookstores and library, lord knows we've studied them long enough as we realize we've just destroyed another one...), obviously mankind has evolved lots of different ways of living, of which Euro/Industrial type culture would be one. Just one.

One singularly annoying feature of US/Euro industrial culture is the belief that just because it managed to overcome everything in its path over the last roughly 200 years, that somehow makes it our human essence... Let me count a bit here on my fingers, ok, starting... let's be generous... 1750.. ok, that's 250 years (4-500 if you want to count early joint stock companies as cultural capitalism I guess) of capitalism versus about 1,000,000 years of other things. And out of that million, it varies, drifts in and out regionally, about 500 to 8000 max of centralized systems based on agriculture, and even those sometimes went back to older methods when the core failed, all very fluid, but not capitalist. We can debate what constitutes the first humans, is it Cro-Magnum, is it Neantherthal, is it the ones that came before, but I dont' see much point in that argument (especially since they are still finding new strains of ourselves, just discovered yet another branch of fairly modern humans now extinct, or blended, who knows?), but again, one can be generous and cut it to 1/4 million to 100,000 years we've been around without capitalism, most I assume living in some form of tribal society, that are quite well studied since they are still here in some corners of the world, and just vanished this and last century in many more. Darwinian is fine when he analyzes oil production flowrates, don't ask too much of him and you'll find his work useful, ignore the rest is my advice.

But the point that OUR culture is cruel, selfish, arrogant, mean spirited, destructive, that I would most certainly not argue, and since that's our culture, that is a truth in terms of the reality our culture faces. Going to be a tough project I'd say, not sure where we'll find the qualities we'll need to get out of this hole we're digging.

Just as an aside, many major religions correctly view these negative attributes as human weaknesses, not the essence, and very few have ever viewed them as the actual human essence, except for materialist capitalism of course, but it's trivially easy to see why it would prefer us to see ourselves in its light, makes it all a bit more excusable, after all, if it's just 'human nature' then why bother resisting it, no?

Besides, darwinian is retired, don't worry about the last generation, worry about the new ones that are coming, they are the ones who will change things.

However, since darwinian is so fond of sourcing materials, here are two: Empire of Ice, Gretel Ehrlich
covers Inuit issues as icecap begins to fail in the Northern areas. Lots of talk about sharing and social bonds there. That's a big area, and those people have been there mostly for about 10k years, that's about 10k more than capitalism has on this planet.

Another really interesting one is: The Elder Brother's Warning, Alan Ereira, who is actually just repeating what the Kogi indians wanted to tell the outside world.

Warning, neither of these books will confirm pre-existing biases about the wonders of capitalism or capitalist evolved 'human nature', so don't bother reading them if you want to keep such views, it's really easier to just ignore things like this and repeat the same thing over and over after all....

I'm just picking two out of thousands of such works, but I like these two, one because it's dealing with climate heating in a very direct and current way, also very human, the other because the Kogi are about the only native tribe that survived columbian contact and escaped it totally for hundreds of years, so their views are pretty interesting as well. they are also, by the way, fully aware of the ongoing climate destruction, and its causes, capitalist production carried out by us, the younger brothers...

You can of course pick more standard ethnographic sources, if you prefer the more academic style, but I've come to prefer hearing it from the horse's mouth when possible, both those books let the people speak for themselves, and they certainly do not agree with the view put forth re human nature and nature etc. There's a reason people manage to live sustainably for 10 thousand or more years, and it's not because of the absurd notions about human nature spread by industrial capitalist citizens who have never bothered looking outside this shell.

In general I avoid such discussions here, people have various skills, and TOD practical poster skills focus around resource extraction and energy generation. This place has really good info on such things, and it attracts good engineers, geologists, etc, but that's about it. Great standards and quality control built in because of that skillset, outside of that narrow band, forget it, there are other places and other things that are more positive re the time spent in my opinion.

Thanks H2, that was a nice read. Timely for me too since I just this very evening finished reading a book about pre-European society in the region where I've spent most of my life. The Ohlone Way: http://www.amazon.com/Ohlone-Way-Indian-Life-Francisco-Monterey/dp/09305...

Pass me the cyanide already if it is just our "human nature" I see when I look around us now.

arraya, while the attempt is somewhat admirable, it's a totally lost cause. You can't argue history and anthropology with people who have barely studied the matter enough to make meaningful statements about it in the first place,

H2, while I tried to get Arraya to look at history he refused and made no attempt to argue history. Politics was his other subject, (capitalism), not anthropology. But anthropology is one of my favorite subjects, I have studied it extensively.

There's a reason people manage to live sustainably for 10 thousand or more years,

Seems like someone else has barely studied the subject he is trying to argue. Well perhaps you have read Franz Boas and/or one of his disciples like Margaret Mead. The peaceful noble savage was one of their favorite myths.

People have never lived sustainably. Malthusian limits, disease and war has always limited their population not sustainable living practices. And they have expanded, taking over the world and brought wanton destruction in their wake. Every pristine land Homo sapiens have invaded they have driven to extinction every large animal that had not evolved defenses against them.

And that was only while they were hunter-gatherers. When they became farmers their slash and burn tactics have destroyed the land.

I would love to discuss anthropology with you. Over the years I have read dozens of books on the subject. I have also read others like Steven Pinker whose works often took them deep into the field of anthropology. I am definitely not in the Margaret Mead camp and I suspect that you are. Email me if you would like. My email address is in my profile.

“Idealism allowed Boas to lay a new intellectual foundation for egalitarianism. The differences among human races and ethnic groups, he proposed, come not from their physical constitution but from their culture, a system of ideas and values spread by language and other forms of social behavior. People differ because their cultures differ.”
“But Boas had created a monster. His students came to dominate American social science, and each generation outdid the previous one in its sweeping pronouncements. Boas’s students insisted not just that DIFFERENCES among ethnic groups must be explained in terms of culture but that EVERY ASPECT of human existence must be explained in terms of culture. For example, Boas had favored social explanations unless they were disproven, but his student Albert Kroeber favored them regardless of the evidence. ‘Heredity,’ he wrote, ‘cannot be allowed to have acted any part in ;history.’ Instead, the chain of events shaping a people ‘involves the absolute conditioning of historical events by other historical events.’ Kroeber did not just deny that social behavior could be explained by innate properties of minds. He denied that it could be explained by ANY properties of minds.”
-Steven Pinker: The Blank Slate, page 22-23

Ron P.

In this respect, I strongly recommend viewing "N!ai : the story of a !Kung woman". Based on ethnographic work by Marjorie Shostak with N!ai, this is a disturbing, gripping movie about the effects of resettlement on the !Kung band - the best studied human foraging society. The enforced general reciprocity, hallmark of the foraging way of life and of great appeal for those who see in foragers a model of primitive/default social equality, quickly broke down into squabbling over meal rations as the group was forcibly resettled. If nothing else, it breaks down whatever stereotypes you may hold about the foraging way of life, and our shared humanity comes through full force.

I'm sure in a different life we could share some interesting thoughts over a beer or two :)

Suffice to say I happen to think there are larger things going on in the world than just peak oil.

One of which is Christianity vs. science/secularism. The West was the first human culture to overcome the magical view of the world, but they didn't do it completely. If they did, nobody would go to church, and we wouldn't have any sort of special holiday in December.

But the process is still taking place, I mean, we are talking about a development only a hundred or two years old.

Think about where Christianity was around AD 100-200, and that's about where the scientific/secular/atheist worldview is now.

Not sure how this plays out because humans seem to have an inbuilt preference for the divine.

"Has it not occured to you that we have an obligation to our childrens' children to leave them more than a spoiled and depleted world?"

Ilargi @TAE has the following contribution on this subject:

There's one line in the article on that poll that's really got to be the money shot of the day:

"[...] more than half [of poll respondents] favored bumping the retirement age to 69 by 2075. "

Ilargi: See, that's really a great idea: to have people today voice their opinion on the retirement age, 64 years from now, of kids that are 5 year-olds. It says a great deal about the folks who posed the questions, as well as about those who actually responded ...

Whenever you see predictions or polls that include dates like 2050 or 2075, please do realize that you're very simply being punked.

We used to play a game called ...Screw Your Neighbor.

The main game that the now global industrial society seems to be playing is Screw Your Kids (and grandkids, and neighbor's kids...).

We have depleted both sources and sinks, and now all systems are quite clearly undergoing collapse at various stage.

Unequal power/income has played a roll, especially in the US, but deeper than this, imho, is the ideology of limitless industrial growth, an ideology share by old communist regimes as well as neo-classical capitalist economics.

All other species use sources that match sinks forming a perpetual loop. What they eat, use, and build their homes with all return to the soil (the 'sink') which then regenerates those sources.

Only humans, and particularly modern industrial society, have based our existence on extracting massive quantities of non-renewable resources that have no sink that will replenish themselves in any timescale relevant to human life. The central historical question, to my mind, is when and how humans shifted to this geo-cidal, un-natural (in a deep sense) way of life. We are basically acting less like most any species that has lived, and more like a geological or meteorological event, even though we pride ourselves as being by far the most conscious and intelligent of species.

For ffs, the long-term sink for the product of combustion, CO2--the ocean--will soon itself become a source. Though oceans have absorbed approximately 40% of industrial CO2, the surface is now so acidic/saturated that it will not absorbed much more. As the surface also warms, it will be less able to absorb CO2. And as the increasing acidity destroys phytoplankton--almost half of which have been destroyed already--the main means of long-term natural sequestration of carbon is disappearing.

This is the location of the only major potential way of theoretically closing the loop, since under the right conditions (as I understand it--Rockman or others can correct me if I'm way off), the phytoplankton that die and make it to the bottom of the sea can become ff after millions of years.

But of course, we are unsequestering ff carbon at a rate many orders of magnitude greater than the rate at which the carbon was sequestered by this process in the first place.

I wonder if any of the would-be geo-engineers are trying to genetically modify a form of plankton that would thrive in super-heated, acidic oceans and be mostly unattractive as food, so they would mostly sink to the bottom of the ocean? As with all of these schemes, unintended consequences loom.

All geo-engineering is basically trying to find a marginally better way of bailing out our sinking ship (sequestering carbon), even as we continue furiously bashing holes in the hull (UN-sequestering carbon by extracting ffs).

Sam Foucher and I are of the opinion that the US is well on its way to becoming self sufficient, but perhaps not in the way that many people hoped:


There is already an annual fee on non-producing ocs leases, between $5 and $13 per acre or $30,000-70,000 per typical lease; there are over 6000 non-producing leases, so the rentals are probably bringing in several hundred million a year. I guess they want to add a new fee that's not in the original lease terms.

Many people don't seem to understand how the offshore business works. Companies compete in sealed bid auctions for leases. Part of the strategy is to identify valuable leases before the competition, and pay lower bonuses than for obvious attractive leases. These competitive sales bring in huge bonuses, cash money, to the US Treasury (>$9 billion in 2009) before any wells are drilled.

With improving seismic and new well results the value of the speculative leases can go very high or very low (they are then often relinquished to skip the rentals). Leases and part ownership are traded back and forth in a competitive dance that ultimately leads to the best wildcats getting drilled.

Bottom line: non-producing leasehold is part of the system for efficient competitive exploration and development of the offshore resource. BTW, as a result of the royalty regime and competitive environment, the US taxpayer actually makes more revenue from GOM oil production than any single company and without having to take any risk.


Welcome aboard.

Do you have (and will you please post here if you do) links or citations to references with data supporting the idea that the the U.S. has undeveloped oil reserves which can be profitably produced and which will provide oil flow rates adequate to meet all of the U.S. oil needs without any oil imports?

When you say 'U.S. potential to be self-sufficient' (from oil imports), do you include oil from Canada and Mexico in this discussion context?

Also, if you have sources which can convincingly show that the U.S. has enough reserves to meet its needs without imports, please also include sources with data to show for how many years the U.S. will remain self-sufficient in oil production for its use.

Please include credible estimates of U.S. population and oil use from now through at least 2050, along with identifying specific oil formations and predicted flow rates over time.

Further, you start out your post expressing great concern about U.S. oil needs vs. supplies, and then you talk about ramping up coal and hydro and nuclear...

Coal, Hydro, and nuclear plants currently produce electricity, which we seem to be adequately supplied at present.

Do you propose building more electricity pants to power large numbers of electric cars to displace oil-powered cars so that more oil-derived fuel is available for trucks?

Or, do you propose instituting a large-scale coal-to-liquids program, and/or some other ideas?

What can be done to turn this around?

Well, if you have indeed been reading this site for some time, you may have read the following ideas:

- Reduce Demand

-- Use buses and light rail (where available) to commute to/from work

-- Carpool

-- Trade low-mileage, unnecessarily large, heavy vehicles, high-powered in and buy much more fuel-efficient vehicles

-- Move closer to places of work

-- telecommute more

-- reduce unnecessary/frivolous car trips and plan/bundle necessary trips to make car excursion less frequent

The things I just listed (certainly no where near an exhaustive list) address oil demand...energy supply also needs to be addressed, but your simplistic plea to increase coal/hydro/nuclear and your dismissive attitude towards other energy sources suggests you do not have a comprehensive understanding of all the complex factors in play.

In sum, you seem to be pleading with the blogosphere to maintain our U.S. lifestyle which has been made possible by plentiful and cheap oil. If indeed you have been a long-time reader of this site, you have used robust blinders and filters and have not embraced the ideas of finite resources and changing energy paradigms.

The US produces 2.2 Gb of oil per year and imports 5.0 Gb of oil.

Federal lands have ~6 Gb of proven (KNOWN) reserves, 16 Gb of reserve growth and 24 Gb of undiscovered oil. Let's assume that reserve growth applied nationally is 2.5 times proven reserves and undiscovered oil is 4 times proven reserves or the national ultimate recovered conventional oil is 7.5 x proven reserves =
225 Gb possible.


The USGS gives 31.59 Gb of proven (KNOWN) conventional oil reserves.


Let's say that proven reserves of 33 Gb are pumped down at the constant rate of 2.2 Gb per year, those reserves will last 15 years. Actually, US oil production has historically been constantly declining by ~2% per year so that 33 Gb plus 22 Gb of reserve growth would last 50 years.

Let's assume drill-baby-drill our way to 60% domestic oil(4.4 Gb/yr) in 15 years. That means we will have to add 3.3 Gb/yr of new production by 2030 or an additional 720,000 bpd every year.

This might be extremely expensive. It's cheaper to buy oil overseas.

By 2025 we would have used 49.5 Gb of oil and the remaining 175.5 Gb would last until 2065.

So we have a number of scenarios.
I assume you support the idea that oil companies get paid more money to drill more domestic oil.

If money for domestic oil is no object(and eliminate all enviro regulations) and the US gov't demands oil companies drill we'll get 225 Gb of US oil over the next 55 years still getting 40% of oil from abroad.

If we've spent about all the money we can afford to lavish on domestic oil, the oil companies will produce about 55 Gb over the next 50 years and we'll import the remainder, leaving 170 Gb in the ground for the grandkids.

If the government cuts FF subsidies it won't make a big difference in new production which is more likely to go overseas to cheap new reserves anyways.

The Democrats have a point. Uncle Sam gives Big oil $50 billion per year is subsidies but they sit on leases. At least fining them would get some money back.

It's cheaper to buy oil overseas.

This assumes that the US has something to trade for the oil. We are running a trade deficit of about $500 billion/year, and have been for several years. In the mid '00s we financed this trade deficit by securitizing mortgages on our houses and selling the resulting paper to foreign investors. Since the housing bubble collapsed, foreign investors will only accept debt guaranteed by the US government. Hence, Fannie and Freddie had to be taken over by the Feds and substantial tranches of bad debt had to be bought by the Federal Reserve in order not to collapse the flow of dollars back into US securities due to a lack of confidence.

In effect, there has been a huge transfer of private debt to the public debt balance sheet in order to keep the importing game alive.

This will not continue much longer.

...every day they put up barriers that make it almost impossible for an oil company or any company for that matter to succeed?

If the definition of success is "making billions of dollars in profits", or "obtaining billions of dollars in subsidies from congress", or riding out every economic disaster in fine form, or anything like that, then I think the oil companies have been succeeding quite well. In spite of declining oil discovery and declining production, the failure of the oil industry is highly unlikely - they have the time and capital to diversify.

I have no idea if overall the US has the potential to be self sufficient IF THE OIL COMPANIES WERE ALLOWED TO DEVELOP KNOWN RESERVES

Lets say the nation could.

How does that help 10 years later? 20? 50?

Or are these magical oil wells that never deplete?

Instead they fritter away the future trying to make solar panels and wind mills the solution.

Really? Huh. Good thing you are here to set us all straight.

Say, how long have you been a "frequent reader" of this site?

Good grief I am a retired trucker with a grade 8 education and I know that won`t work.

Really? You "know" this. What do you think oil is? Because I'm gonna go with stored solar energy. A PV panel is just more directly capturing solar energy.

Now is when WestTexas chimes in with his little charts on how Texas was unable to avoid peak oil even with little or no restrictions and the best available technology.

I suspect Jeffrey has gotten tired of doing that over and over again.

The anti-Peak Oil lobby is relentless.
They have big bucks psych op teams working for them round the clock.
How can Jeffrey alone take them all on?

Maybe somebody else here can run the tired flag up its pole?

Is it time to re-visit Kearn River?
Or perhaps Spindletop is reliving its days of glory thanks to "horizontal drilling" and "fracking" and injecting them thar CO2 gases back into the ground?




C-span has been asking people to call in this morning about whether we should tap the SPR (was about to call it the NPR) .. the number of people who are saying "There is no oil shortage" and "It's the speculators" gives cred to the hard psyop work that's been done.. and the state of denial.

The pipeline’s flow problem: Shutdown grows more likely as oil production falls

The legacy fields, Prudhoe and Kuparuk, produced about 400,000 barrels per day, about two-thirds the daily of flow through the pipeline. The legacy fields have a lot of oil deposits that can be extracted, but they are heavier, colder, harder to get and harder to transport, which makes them less economical. New technology has helped production some, but much is yet to be figured out. While we still supply about 10-12 percent of America’s oil, we are declining rapidly — more than 6 percent each year.

A 6 percent per year decline, that is about average for all the world's mature fields. Some a little higher and some a little less but there is just no way to stop it. As the article says, new technology helps but the decline continues.

Ron P.

The pipeline’s flow problem: Shutdown grows more likely as oil production falls

Yes, production from the supergiant Alaska North Slope fields is gradually coming to an end. When it falls below the minimum operating level for the Alaska Pipeline, they'll have to shut it in, and it will be game over for Alaska oil production (except for some minor southern production).

The calls to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) are basically an attempt to find enough oil to keep the pipeline open a while longer. Many politicians and bureaucrats are somewhat desperate about this (imagine what it will do to Alaska's state budget!), and I think they have grossly overestimated the area's potential oil reserves based on grossly insufficient data.

It may very well turn out to be like the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA). When companies finally got to drill it, they found very little oil, and so the USGS had to reduce its reserve estimates by 90%. It is quite possible the same thing will happen with the ANWR.

Unfortunately, many people think these estimates are actual oil in the ground, rather than some government geologist's scientific wild-ass guess (SWAG). Those of us who have spent some time in the oil industry know better.

What are they going to do with the pipeline when its job is done? Do they un-install it, or will they just leave it there to rust?

The parts of the pipeline that are above ground, they will probably cut up and sell to the Chinese for scrap metal. The parts that are below ground would be more work. They could dig it up, cut it up for scrap, and sell it to the Chinese, or they could inject air into it and allow it to rust away over the course of a century or two.

Just wait a couple of decades and the melting permafrost will suck it down. Problem solved. Meanwhile, sell pig rides; shoot people up to Prudhoe to see where the oil and Polar Bears used to be :-/


The TAPS DR&R obligation originates in the pipeline right-of-way grant
and lease agreements with the state and federal governments. Essentially
identical DR&R stipulations in the state and federal agreements specify that:
Upon completion of the use of all, or a very substantial part, of the
Right-of-Way or other portion of the Pipeline System, Permittees
[Lessees in state lease] shall promptly remove all improvements
and equipment, except as otherwise approved in writing by the
Authorized Officer [State Pipeline Coordinator for state lands], and
shall restore the land to a condition that is satisfactory to the
Authorized Officer [State Pipeline Coordinator] or at the option of
Permittees pay the cost of such removal and restoration. The
satisfaction of the Authorized Officer [State Pipeline Coordinator]
shall be stated in writing. Where approved in writing by the
Authorized Officer [State Pipeline Coordinator], buried pipe may be
left in place, provided all oil and residue are removed from the pipe
and the ends are suitably capped

Excerpt text from a PDF report

Edit: Report Title info added below:

Trans-Alaska Pipeline System Dismantling,
Removal and Restoration (DR&R):
Background Report and Recommendations
Prepared for the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council
Richard A. Fineberg / Research Associates
June 24, 2004

found at this link:


As referenced as footnote 173 in this Wikipedia article on TAPS:


Perhaps Alaska_Geo or another TOD reader/poster has a more definitive/recent 'boots on the ground' perspective on this question?

I wonder how many railroad boxcars, flat cars, passenger cars, locomotives, miles of rail,etc can be made from the TAPS metals?

Or..how many 3 GW wind turbines and electricity line transmission towers?

What if oil demand and oil production drop at the same rate, will the price stay the same?
No, because costs of production will continue to rise.

What will the price of oil be when production is only 20 million barrels per day?
Will it be $400/barrel?

Cool - watch the terminology a little closer..it can get tricky. How much it costs to produce (after the well is drilled) a bbl of oil has no bearing on the price of oil. If some bbl of oil cost $400 to produce and oil is selling for $200 the result is obvious: that bbl of oil won't be produced. There have been many fields abandoned while still producing oil/NG when the production costs increase beyond the market prices. Once the fields are abandoned it will take a much greater price to bring them back on given the huge expense of replacing the infrastructure. That's why some companies will produce a field at a loss for a while as they hope for the price support to return.

But when some folks say "produced" they really are referring to drilling for that bbl of oil. If the oil patch percieves the cost to drill for some speculative oil accumulation requires $400/bbl then they won't attempt to develop that oil until oil prices reach that level. Similarly a well might never recover the initial investment let alone make a profit. But if it still produces positive cash flow above it production costs the compny will keep it producing. That's the current state of many of the wells drilled during the shale gas boom.

I caught a little something something in an article this morning from JSOnline (Wisconsin newspaper) from Steve Zietlow, an owner of Kwik Trip stores that are all across Wisconsin, MN and Iowa.

"My father very early saw that segment of the business just going away," Steve Zietlow said.

The company, in similar fashion, is preparing for a future when fuel needs may change.

"Maybe we'll be charging batteries, maybe we'll be selling compressed natural gas. We don't know," Steve Zietlow said. "But we have to be ahead of the curve."


Nothing ground breaking, but for someone that sells almost a billion gallons of gasoline, its a look into where they think it could be heading.

It will be interesting to see how such convenience stores adapt to rising fuels prices, more EVs, more bicycling, more telecommuting, more bus ridership, and other such changes which seem likely to happen over time.

My home town (Altoona Pennsylvania) had and still has neighborhoods with row houses (about 4-6 feet between) with little pizza shops, bars, barber shops, flower shops, convenience stores interspersed here and there amongst the houses.

On the other hand, the town also has a large enclosed shopping mall and has sprouted several strips and clusters of big-box stores as well, and is firmly in the 'car era', especially after I-99 was completed, which completely changed the character of the area.

Huge numbers of places would need to change zoning laws to allow the creations of old-school walkable neighborhoods...I think that people will attempt to enforce BAU as long as they can and until it will be too late to effect changes which would soften the blow of a large-scale and permanent gasoline/diesel price/availability shock.

White House considers tapping oil reserves

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said on Sunday the Obama administration is considering tapping into the U.S. strategic oil reserve as one way to help ease soaring oil prices.

You beat me to the punch Pollux - I was just headed here to link an article about the possibility of tapping the oil reserves.

As you can see the wimpy, slow moving White House is putting out "feelers" to see what people think of tapping the reserves. "Oh, Mr. President, do you think they like the idea or do you think they are against it?! Well, what do you think we should do?"

"Well, as President I have reached a point where I am damned if a I do and damned if I don't. Either way people will love and hate me, so I have no idea what to do. Put out another feeler, please, hurry!"

Regardless of the political pandering and dithering, it is becoming clear the White House knows exactly what high oil prices will do to the economy. They are not as clueless as some had thought. In fact, Michael Rupert said in a video I saw the other day, "The Government knows what's coming".

Yeah, I just read the same story at JPost, but I think they are mistaken. They should save it for times of war.

Since I don't believe that the decline will be peaceful, nor that we're all essentially doomed, I think the rational, albeit cruel, policy for the U.S. is to delve into open theft of other people's oil.

It's for those scenarios that the SPR is for, or at least ideally suited for.

They should save it for times of war.

But this is a time of war - Afghanistan and Iraq. Don't you remember the previous admin. admonishing other politicians when they would forget that, "We're in a state of WAR!!!"

Why does there need to be a war? Isn't a reserve of oil simply a savings bank of crude oil we can use whenever we think it makes sense. And aren't economic factors, like not risking the recovery on relatively high priced energy enough to tap into that reserve?

I disagree with Perk and agree with Leiten.

Apart from test draw-downs, the US has only drawn from the SPR three or four times, I believe (including exchanges).
This article explains:

In any case, the draw-downs did not correspond with a significant reduction in gasoline prices (though it is difficult to know what gas prices would have been without the draw-down).
The SPR is currently full at 727 mb, I believe, but so is storage at Cushing. It should make more sense to accelerate the draw-down from the latter, but there may be logistical barriers that I am not aware of.

SPR oil would need to be replaced in a timely manner, and given the uncertainties in MENA, surely it would be prudent for the US to not draw down now.
If the situation should become even more unsettled, then there is the possibility of physical shortages and the certainty of higher refill costs.
Then the country loses on both the security front (which is the reason for the SPR's existence) as well as financially.

The GAO has done some excellent work on SPR draw-down over the years (when it's appropriate, defining criteria for trigger, physical damage to caverns, etc).

I disagree with Perk and agree with Leiten.

To whit I respond:

I disagree with Leiten & RickM.

Particularly if prices continue to rise, and or if Saudi oil exportation reduces due to an uprising, and price really skyrockets. Never pin yourself down by failing to consider different options. Flexibility in decision making is the cornerstone of any presidency.

This 'only use the SPR during a time of war' bit was a political response by Bush jr. who wanted to do the exact opposite of everything Bill Clinton did. And Bill used the SPR at one point that was not during a time of war. People sometimes don't realize they've been influenced by a political exchange and I think this may be the case here. Remember, its just oil - it has no brain of its own and there is nothing written in the ethers that says it cannot be used under different circumstances.

Hi again, Perk

I should have been more clear about where we disagree.
This thread was started by Pollux's posting which raised the question of whether this is an appropriate time to draw from the SPR.
Leiten argued that this would be an inappropriate time, and I agree (for the reasons that I gave).
You seemed to be arguing in favour of a draw-down (though you didn't state that explicitly) so I said that I disagreed with you.

However, the argument has suddenly narrowed from the larger issue of whether a draw-down now is warranted, to the question of whether draw-downs should only occur during times of war.
On that question, I certainly agree with you: there are many other situations which could warrant a draw-down (both natural and man-made).
I also agree re flexibility in decision-making.

I also agree with Leiten's point that consuming other people's oil makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't advocate open theft, but surely it makes more sense in the long run to safeguard our own non-renewables and use those of others (as much as is feasible... it's also prudent to have some domestic capacity).

Wait a minute. I thought we could rely on our friends the Saudis to help ease oil prices.

You're right, of course.

Silly us, doubting the capacity of the Saudis for a minute.
It'll come any day now... any day....


...any daaaay...


No worries mate.
Michael Moore knows where all the wealth is being hoarded and kept away from the rest of us:


Blowouts onshore: Fear, pollution, uncertainty

A gas well blowout in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park spewed a cloud of explosive natural gas, forced evacuations for miles around and polluted the drinking water - and the people who live in Wyoming's Line Creek Valley still wonder four years later if their lives will return to normal.

Most U.S. onshore blowouts occur at gas wells. Tracking them falls to the states. The Texas Railroad Commission lists nearly 100 blowouts in that state since 2006. Louisiana has had 96 onshore blowouts since 1987.

...The blowout happened when the well's steel casing and cement surrounding the casing ruptured underground. Documents filed with the state show that Nabors Drilling was to use 9 5/8-inch steel pipe reinforced by concrete inside a 12-inch drilling hole.

"Typically that should have been enough to prevent such a thing from happening," Doll said.

Once again the desire to sensationalize some events distracts folks from the real danger. Stories of blow outs, especially with dramatic films of flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air and pics of body bags lined up sells. With the exception of rare events like the BP blow out offshore a typical blow out produces relatively little pollution especially with NG wells.

Notice I said “relatively”. Some pollution for sure but insignificant compared to old wells leaking into the fresh water column and the illegal dumping of nasty produced fluids. And typically the worst offender is salt water. But showing films of a well head just sitting there (while salt water leaks into the aquifer 500’ below) doesn’t sell much advertizing. Such stories tend to be boring and not at all sexy to the public.

Just as we discussed with frac’ing in New England not being the real potential problem but the improper disposal of nasty frac fluids and salt water. IMHO misdirection is fine for magicians and not the MSM. I’ll just make up a number I can’t defend but it is my honest guess: 99.7% of all onshore pollution from oil patch activities are the result of illegal dumping and, to a somewhat lesser extent, underground casing leaks. No matter how hard one tries to fix a bad situation it’s doomed from the start if the real causes aren’t addressed.

@Rockman: "Just as we discussed with frac’ing in New England"

Where in New England is there frac'ing? I thought it was PA and NY... (Or does New England mean the whole Northeast, not just the traditional CT, RI, MA, NH, VT and ME?!)

There is no frac-ing in New England, and there won't be as long as I draw breath.

c - In Texas anything north of KY is New England. Yankeeland is also acceptable. LOL

I almost hit "post" on the same thing! North of Mason-Dixon, East of the Mississippi -- that's the north-east, which is synonymous with New England and Yankees.

The Mississippi? That means that St Paul is part of "New England", but Minneapolis is not? Who knew :-)?

Upper West Side perspective is even narrower: http://bigthink.com/ideas/21121

I had an Irish girlfriend who had a hemispheric range set up for what she deemed as 'Bloody Yanks'..

Here is a wild article on discovering alien life-forms. The strange twist is this:

In order to head off skeptics, his study and evidence were made available for peer review to 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5000 scientists from the scientific community prior to the study’s publication.

This is ridiculous in the sense that making the paper available to that many people is basically the same as producing an open publication from the beginning. I don't know how they can find a list of 5000 scientists willing to review the document unless it is just a membership list from a professional society. So they essentially should have just posted the paper to a web site and let people take cracks at reviewing it.

Yes I saw that - would be absolutely fascinating if it holds water!

To address your point though - haven't JOC done just that: published the paper in the link you provided?

Actually, I may have just made the biggest understatement in my life so far; it would be more than fascinating.

Fascinating, Captain!

Otherwise, this work is garbage. I'm surprised anyone is granting it any credibility at all.

I imagine the credibility lies with the author of the paper - Dr Richard Hoover, NASA Marshall Space Flight Centre (http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2009/09-059.html)

SPIE page: http://spie.org/x17397.xml

Still, it could just mean an ignominious end to his career. One posit too far...

But you still have to honor this fellow for his sacrifice. By putting his reputation on the line he's given the MSM ample fodder to distract the public from the energy issue. No doubt he was put up to it by TPTB (both R & D). When one has no answer to a difficult queation the best response is to change the subject. Who knows what the next big distraction might be? Maybe a bunch of stories about a potential govt shut down. Which, of course, never has or ever will on any practical level IMHO.

Look J6P...watch the left hand...watch the left hand. That's it...ignore what the right hand is doing...or isn't doing. LOL

No doubt he was put up to it by TPTB

That's when you really have to come to terms with the fact that you're a serial cynic.. ;-)

Still, would be v interesting if true lol.

i - Truthfully sometimes I can't tell if I'm that cynical or just have that sick a sense of humor. LOL

Brings back memories. I spent the last 17 years of my working life at Marshall, but I do not remember ever meeting Dr. Richard Hoover.

Ron P.

*shrug* Don't shoot the messenger! :-)

I have no idea if this is an accurate representation or not, and frankly i could care less. I do find it incredibly odd that people would even consider that we are the only life in the universe. I don't even know how many zeros to put after the 1 in how many galaxies there are, let alone the billions of stars in each galaxy and corresponding planets, and yet we would think life could only have started on our singular planet? What massive hubris!

Frankly, I think it's rather a lot of tosh too - The numbers involved are, quite literally, astronomical. And we still don't even know how much we can't see.

To me it seems too mind-boggling unlikely that life doesn't exist somewhere else in the universe. Still, having said that, to be presented with concrete evidence of this would be very profound indeed.

Some of the commentaries now appearing on Journal of Cosmology make quite interesting reading. People as diverse as Harrison Schmitt reportedly giving their opinions: http://journalofcosmology.com/Life101.html#4

This appears to make quite a strong counter-argument. How likely could it be that it happened three times?

A couple of points that arise from this investigation, are the implications of the discovery of cyanobacteria in meteoritic material of extra-terrestrial origin. Firstly it raises the possibility of a deep (longer than the time available on Earth) evolutionary history for aerobic metabolism, a contention that is strongly supported by recent phylogenetic studies. Secondly, since cyanobacteria comprise just a branch of the Domain Bacteria, their existence in meteoritic material means that the three domains of life (Bacteria, Archaea and Eukaryota) evolved and separated prior to their colonization of Earth (e.g. Joseph 2010; Wickramasinghe, 2011). It would also mean that life on Earth did not originate from a single cell; representatives of all three domains must have arrived from space.


Regarding carbon: Has anyone here read The Carbon Solution
by A. Bates? Anyone here trying for soil improvement
using compost-tea soaked(or urine soaked) charcoal? Anyone
make one of those charcoal stoves? I tried to contact the
person that bought the USA rights to make and sell the
Adam retort - Peter Hirst of New England Biochar -- but he
never returned my call nor email inquiries. :(

Edit: the name of the book is The Biochar Solution by Albert Bates

Its been talked about before.

With a few posters going with the idea that, if the have charcoal, they are gonna finish burning it and not bury it.

The big issue is the energy you need to move the soil to mix in the charcoal.

Mother Earth News has done a few articles on biochar, and easier ways to produce it. I've been using a 55 gal. steel drum with great results. No need to over-engineer this process unless one is in production for sale to others.....and eric, it's called a roto-tiller.

Another interesting article about the Frye Poultry Manure Gasifier, which produces a propane substitute and biochar as a byproduct.

and eric, it's called a roto-tiller.

And that takes a lot of energy to run.

Not so much. My total tiller fuel consumption last year was less than one day's commute to work. A really good return on an energy investment, IMO.

Would wood-gasifiers work to create 'some Gas and some Charcoal'? If you wanted to run an alternately-powered tiller and get Char from the same load, or am I over-engineering? (Wouldn't be the first time..)

.. and just exactly How much wood WOULD a woodchuck-chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

LOL you're having a good day, liked the little windmill one too..............

While your gassifyer would produce things the engine could burn, the charcoal + heat -> Carbon Monoxide is an important reaction which results in the burnable gas.

You'd have to add the weight of the char handling to the tiller and it'd all get heavy and hard to control real fast. Not to mention you'd have to wait for better conditions to work the land due to compaction of your soil.

Not to mention the statics problem of your char maker being turned into a dynamics problem of a bouncing tiller - you'd have to add weight to the retort to make it 'tiller safe'.

And finally tilling the soil doesn't do much good for the fungi in the soil. It helps to move it bacterial - and bacterial is what most veggies like. Fungi get sugar from the plants and the fungi extends the water gathering of the plant roots in addition provide a way for the P to have uptake. So if you can water and add P, you don't need the sugar robbing of the fungi.

My sweetie says the absolutely essential uses of fuel are:
chain saw
lawn mower
and tractor.

I believe he is thinking of essential labor-saving devices.

Chainsaw, log splitter, tiller. I love my tractor but could do without it (though I use less than 20 gals. of diesel/year for tractor work). I consider these energy well spent. As for the lawn mower, I may get a goat and a cow.

As I did above; putting these things in context, their combined consumption is less than 2 weeks commuting to work (about 35 gals. total comined petrol/diesel).

The energy to move dirt is quite high. That is why you won't see widespread adoption of biochar in agriculture for some time - the energy to do the mixing and the benefit gained isn't, at this point, showing a net benefit.

Go ahead and determine the energy to actually move the dirt - an impulse power measurement.

Seed drills like the earthway planter are able to be human powered. Lasagna gardening or raised beds are done, in part, as an answer to avoiding having to move the soil. Same with hugeensted (or whatever it was I had in my profile - you take logs and make the plant bed outta logs)

Then compare the above to doing the soil work human powered. If you want to "double dig" a bed you'd need to do that human powered work anyway.

Moving dirt is very energy intensive.

Do you think anyone is considering giving stinger missiles
to the Libyan rebels?

A less dangerous option would be to give the rebel forces modern antitank weapons such as the TOW, MILAN or Kornet systems with large, two-stage warheads to defeat the Libyan tank armor. Libya may have received delivery of MILANs already, but it is unclear whether the rebel forces have any of these.

Stingers are too dangerous if they go into the black market and wind up in the "wrong hands".

Traders ‘short’ dollar as currency loses attraction

Hedge funds and forex dealers are betting record amounts against the dollar, reflecting a growing belief that the US currency has lost its haven appeal and that eurozone interest rates will soon rise.

Part of the rise in the price of oil is due to the declining value of the US dollar. The decline is likely to worsen. Opening the SPR at this point would be partly a response to a change in forex rates. The SPR would have to be replenished later with oil at even higher prices due to the declining dollar.

Supermarkets going online / Chains moving to establish distribution centers for Web shoppers

Aeon started Internet supermarket services in April 2008, now available at 129 of its stores. From the beginning, Aeon's service has been popular among housewives, who appreciate not having to lug heavy bags.

According to the company, the number of online shopping members has been increasing by about 5 percent a month.

The minimum delivery time is three hours after an Internet order is placed. Participating Aeon stores deliver within a five-kilometer radius of their location.

Better controls shrinkage and allows the store to rotate out older items 1st. A lot to like about it.

They already do this in the UK - at least, often when you order a week's groceries some of the items that you end up with go out of date within 24 hours.

We use supermarket delivery once a month.

If you choose an off-peak slot ( after 8pm mid-week) delivery is about $8. If you spend over $200 that works out quite affordable. It would cost at least $2 to drive the 8 mile round trip to the store.

Each delivery van has space for at least 10 deliveries. That is about a $15 saving in fuel over those purchases being made by people driving to the store.

Stating to do this in OZ as well. The two big chains (Woolworths and Coles) both have Home Delivery from selected stores, with varying levels of tolerance for near-to-date products. $20 delivery fee, currently waived, I think (until everyone gets hooked).

Me, I don't shop at either of them (Unless the Special is so low they're actually loosing money on the deal). 85% Market Share is quite enough, thanks (if Costco ever comes to town, it'll probably eviscerate both the big chains in low-income areas).

Bread delivery should be in the shop soon, 'scuse me while I take a walk round there and pick up a freshly baked roll for the morning :)


I expected, that with the Presidents consideration of tapping the SPR for oil, that oil would open lower today. But as I check Bloomberg Energy Prices I find that just after the opening it is up 14 cents to $104.56. But if history is any guide that will be little indication of where it will be tomorrow.

Ron P.

Ron - Just a hypothetical: the president announces we'll soon begin drawing 500,000 bopd from the SPR. The next day the KSA anounces they will cut production 500,000 bopd. How do you think the oil traders will respond?

Assume the KSA is selling 9 million bopd @ $100/bbl. The SPR release causes oil to drop to $80/bbl. Thus KSA revenue falls by $180 million/day. Assume the KSA reduces production by 500,000 bopd and oil prices fall to $95/bbl. KSA revenue drops about $95 million/day and they save over 180,000,000 bo/year they can sell to the world later when PO starts really hurting. Or sell to us to replace the SPR production at $120/bbl. Or just keep it for their own internal consumption.

Again, of course, this is all very hypothetical.

Again, of course, this is all very hypothetical.

Really Rockman, are you serious? I have no idea what would happen should your hypothetical example actually take place. It hurts my head just to think about it.

But I would just love to hear your opinion as to what would happen should your hypothetical example actually come to pass.

Ron P.

Ron - Always serious...or at least as much as I ever am. As I've said before I'm not nearly smart enough to predict the future. That's why I just stick with the "what if's".

But it's a valid "what if" isn't it? Your selling a commodity that can be left unharvested indefinately. A competitor tries to indercut your sales. So do you start selling your commodity cheaper while knowing your competitor has a limited inventory that cannot be replaced except by eventually buying from you and the other sellers.

It stikes me as a potential game of chicken...with the U.S. driving a Hugo and the KSA driving a M1A1 tank. You a bettin' man?

I think the key strategic use of the SPR is to threaten to utilize it, and this provides a signaling mechanism and perhaps a way to talk-down speculators. I don't see how it can work very well if KSA has little spare to supply, or if the prices have little speculation priced in.

Why would an oil major take oil on the rising edge of uncertainty, knowing that paybacks might be hard to acquire?

Paleo - So to carry my silly little analogy further: the U.S. is going to rev the engine of their Hugo and the KSA driver in the M1A1 will become so frightened he'll jump out the hatch and run sceaming in terror into the sand dunes?

Reminds of the ole saying: "The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong". But that's sure as hell how you bet it. Like I asked Ron: you a bettin' man?

Just a hypothetical: the president announces we'll soon begin drawing 500,000 bopd from the SPR. The next day the KSA anounces they will cut production 500,000 bopd. How do you think the oil traders will respond?

That's one reason why you would want to do it in secret for as long as possible. If eventually people start noticing funny movements at the SPR and/or totals not adding up, you put out a press release saying you have a serious problem at a storage site which is forcing you to move oil and will likely force you to sell a limited amount of oil on the market as you have nowhere else to put it. A few weeks later you then start talking about releasing more oil to ease prices at some point in the future. All the while you have actually already been doing it in (semi-)secret.

Result: You hide a much tighter situation with oil supplies than is admitted (for a time) and price is much lower than it otherwise would have been. No risk of Saudis cutting production to compensate if nobody knows (at least officially).

OK: That's just how I would try to do it. Not what is presumably actually happening :-)

I posted this last Wednesday, so I am not surprised:

The possibility of oil market intervention by the US, that is releasing oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve, has increased greatly. Considering the distance east and west coast US refiners are from the SPR (which is located mostly in Louisiana), it would not be surprising to see a release within a few months – especially if the price of Brent oil moves past $120 (which it will before long).

We are not quite at $120 yet, so that SPR release won't happen yet. However should any problems develop in KSA that push oil over $120, we should expect that tapping the SPR will be strongly considered. If my memory is correct, the SPR has been used more times than indicated in some other posts here - probably because most of those times the releases were small.

Other posters are right in that the SPR was not originally intended to be used as a price stabilization scheme, although many in the US Congress now appear to believe that is how it could be used. It's hard to tell how KSA would react to that, but my guess is that the great game has now switched more to controlling the level of prices - that is to support its social programs KSA appears to be targeting $120 and may react to the release of SPR oil by cutting back output.

The $120 level is interesting, because if the 1998 to 2009 year over year annual price decline pattern holds, the next year over year decline in average annual oil prices will bring us down to an average annual oil price of $120.

Charles – Exactly the point I’ve been trying to engage with folks. Much debate about how much spare capacity the KSA has and that if they just produced whatever it is oil prices will come down. In fact, all of the KSA’s spare capacity (whatever it acully is) is available to the market today: all a buyer has to do is meet today’s market price. Thus the world has access to all the KSA it can buy. I think some folks who call on the KSA to produce more oil fail to understand what they are really asking of the King: please lower the price of the oil you’re selling. If the KSA wanted oil prices lower all they need do is drop their price to, let’s say, $75/bbl. This would actually make more sense than the KSA selling more oil into the market place at $75/bbl in order to take market share from the other exporters. They would be lowering their cash flow by the same amount but at least they would be reducing the drawdown of their FINITE reserve base.

So the basic question remains: what would motivate the KSA to lower the price of their oil? I’ll be more conservative than you and guess the kingdom believes it needs just $100/bbl to meet its domestic obligations. I do believe there could be one basic motivation for them to keep prices from getting much higher: demand destruction. They certainly recall the tremendous global demand destruction brought on by the high prices of the late 70’s. Of course this leads to the basic hinge point: at what oil price is the KSA cash flow maximized. If they can generate their needs by selling 9 million bopd at $100/bbl why would they sell 11 million bopd at a lower price. Similarly if they can do the same by selling 7 million bopd at an even higher price why wouldn’t they? Same cash flow and slower depletion of their FINITE resources.

I don’t think there is a person on the planet that can get that calculus correct. Trial and error seems to be the only approach IMHO. But that requires some producer to control the swing. In the mid 80’s the KSA didn’t have the ability to swing prices in both directions. They could flood the market with oil and drive prices down in an effort to regain market share. And so they did. Obviously this isn’t 1986. But the question remains: does the KSA have the ability to effectively control prices in both directions today? And if they do have they run the calculus on the political repercussions of being finally able to exert true cartel power? As other have speculated: the realities of PO may hang more on political/military aspects than geology.

Your "domestic obligations" must include the royals living "in the manner to which they've become accustomed", with an ever-growing number of entitled relatives. Will the KSA get to pick a price that allows it to have it's cake and eat it too? Maybe, but not for terribly long I'd wager.

Will the world be willing to fight the US over oil?

A lot of the right-wing Bush/Cheney Foxnews types have this type of thinking:
a) the US companies discovered the oil in the Middle East and it was their oil until the countries broke contracts
b) The $%$%$%$ governments of the Middle East are overcharging for "our" oil.
c) The money from overpriced oil is being used to fund terrorists.

So I can easily see the US working up a case to invade Middle Eastern countries and taking over their oil fields just as they did to invade Iraq. The media have shown that they will not publish any critical articles on a bogus rationale.

With the US having such military superiority, would the world be willing to engage in a war with the US if they were on the short end of the stick regarding the US doling out the Middle Eastern oil they have taken over?

Another question is, if the world decided to deal with the US via a boycott, would the US be able to survive it, and/or would the US use it's military against non-OPEC nations due to the boycott?

Yair...FQ,You can't be serious with those queries?......surely?

Scrub Puller,

In my opinion, if KSA is attacked from external forces, or if KSA experiences major civil unrest/revolution/civil war it cannot quell, the U.S. will be all over KSA like white on rice.

Call it: Operation Islamic Liberation, or O.I.L. for short.

All: this is not an advocacy position on my part...not at all.

However, I believe my words above have a /very/ high probability of coming true if the conditions I stated occur.

By creating situations where some nations cannot be attacked by nation-states -- for example Israel and KSA -- the US instead creates an environment where any conflict will necessarily be low-scale and local.

It seems to me that we are back to the days where cross-border organizations, including corporations, religious groups, and other assorted interests, have increasing sway and yet are hard to pin down or control.

Not so long ago private corporations in the US had the equivalent of indentured servants and could kill with little repercussions. Most likely this is still the case in much of the developing world. Money makes the rules, in most places most of the time.

I fully expect some sort of cold-war with China in the Mid-East, with the Chinese supporting hard-liners and the US supporting rebels, or vice versa, depending on who gets oil from whom. The KSA royalty will likely enjoy support of both, until there isn't enough oil to mostly supply both. Then the mud-wrestling must being in earnest.

Or so it seems to me...

I respectfully disagree.

I think China is wiser than to get entangled in a insurgency-counter-insurgency game of Risk with us.

Remember that they have Islamic folks in their Western regions and are not invulnerable to a Chechnya-type scenario someday.

I imagine that there is some kind of gentleman's agreement way under the covers and behind the scenes...The U.S. bears the brunt of policing the ME, while China plays it cool with us in the Bond Markets and currency exchanges, etc. China gets access to some of the oil it wants, and we get 'our share'.

I imagine that Russia is privately appreciative of the U.S. being the front man to take the brunt of hatred of imperialist foreigners from the ME street as well. I imagine this applies to European countries as well...they have some exposure, but the 'Great Satan' is clearly the U.S.

Just my opinion.

The reason the US is viewed as the "Great Satan" by some in the Middle East, because the US is the one that has been dropping the bombs and doing all the killing in the Middle East. And the US is the country who backs Israel unconditionally. The US is the country with troops stationed in Saudi Arabia. The US led the arms embargo on Muslim Bosnia.

The reason the US is viewed differently in the Middle East is because the US does things in the Middle East that no one else does. No amount of rationalization can change that.


I do not disagree with anything you posted in this particular post wrt to the ME.

I am not sure about our role wrt Bosnia.


You could well be right, but the problem with gentleman's agreements are that there are so few gentlemen. I can easily see your viewpoint carrying the day for a while, especially "officially", but with Chinese companies and money working a different angle.

I still tend to believe that the Chinese are now better capitalists than the US, and they will quietly buy and bargain for influence, rather than selling weapons and sailing carrier groups.

Food security is a wild-card. I'm not quite sure how China will deal with food shortage.

I'm not quite sure how China will deal with food shortage.

They will take the reserves of US currency and wave it about and someone will give them food.

Some will be spent like KSA is spending in Africa - hiring locals, building greenhouses and shipping the resulting food back to KSA.

This is a game of last man standing.

"It seems to me that we are back to the days where cross-border organizations, including corporations, religious groups, and other assorted interests, have increasing sway and yet are hard to pin down or control."

I assume control is a euphemism for murder.

Don't forget that the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S. under General Tommy Franks started out as "Operation Iraqi Liberation" (OIL), but was soon renamed "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (OIF)


Weren't you paying attention during the Iraq invasion? UN Weapons inspectors in Iraq. US spy agencies gave them two or three hundred sites where they said there were WMDs. The inspectors found nothing. The US said, OK, get out of there because we are attacking (which includes murdering LOTS of people and destroying LOT of infrasructure) anyway.

It may have to be dealt with only by the historians, but the US administration committed war crimes. Were it not for "Might Makes Right", Bush, Cheney and their underlings would have been executed by now. The US media said nothing during it all, the US public doesn't even realize it happened.

So why would my questions not be serious? We invaded Iraq on a pack of lies. We can invade Saudi Arabia and Kuwait etc, on a pack of lies. If any American dares to question it, just give them a fierce look, raise your voice, and snarl - "Don't you support our troops?".

Great post FiniteQuantity.

the US administration committed war crimes.

Absolutely true. All the lies perputrated of centrifuges for uranium enrichment (actually UN approved missle cases), mobile WMD labs (actually fertilizer manuf.), WMD in missles under Saddam palaces (an absurd falacy), yellowcake from Niger (which was a manuf. lie exposed by Plame's husband), a Mushroom cloud ready to happen (a pure lie knowing full well their nuclear enrichment plant had been blown to pieces many years prior), and the failure to listen to Hans Blix who was on the ground and could not find one teaspoon of WMD. This was a case in which a policy of war preceeded the lies to go to war.

Great to hear from someone who also sees what was painfully obvious. Sometimes is it like being in a fairy tale with people being convinced the US thought Iraq had WMDs and yet these people either don't know about Hans Blix's inability to find any (a horrible failure of the US media), or thinking that we could still be 100% sure they have them even with him not finding them at 200 or 300 hundred sites where we claimed they were.

But in the end every country in the world was a part of the charade which destroyed so much and killed so many. Colin Powell went to the UN and showed spy satellite photos and said crazy things like they have somewhere between 5 to 100 tons of WMD at this or that site. And no one bothered to ask why Hans Blix hadn't been to the site and identified ,as you put it, a teaspoon, let alone to see if it was somewhere in the ridiculous range of 5 to 100 tons.

Gulf oil rig fire, rescue: Raw video shows Coast Guard response

PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- A fire broke out Sunday morning on an oil rig 50 miles off Grand Isle in the Gulf of Mexico, injuring 2 people but apparently not causing a leak of crude into the water.

Oil on NYMEX electronic trading is now up $1.35 to $105.77. I don't know if this has anything to do with that however.

Ron P.

Brent is $117.20, up $1.23. The price increase is probably more due to the realization that Libyan oil production will not be restored for a very long time.

I'm wondering if the rise in price is more about investors seizing the opportunity to make money when oil price rises dramatically from news about Saudia Arabia on the 11th, which is the date the rebels plan to protest. Even the hint of their oil infrastucture being held hostage to rebel demands will cause the price to spike.

From data at:


Brent has been on a fairly steady 5% price increase per month for the last 7 or 8 months excluding last month, which saw a solid 10% increase. So it seems safe to say that, assuming the very best case scenario, oil prices would barely "correct" down at all and resume a slow climb in the next few months. We're in a period were there is no established bottom for prices that lasts even a month. I think that even at $120/barrel the global economy is like the Wile E. Coyote who just ran off a cliff and is about to look down.

What tricks will governments try to pull out of their sleeves now? There's been a lot of talk lately about tapping the SPR. This could have a stabilizing effect in the short term but become increasingly impotent as time goes on. However, if the SPR is used to stabilize prices, it seems that more pressure would be brought to bear on society to change our ways. It's really the last-ditch effort to maintain the status quo, and we haven't even entered the period of irreversible production decline yet (well, maybe that is actually upon us now).

Really the point of my post now is that perhaps our uphill battle of getting through to people will become easier this year or next as the global economy deteriorates for a second time. So far I've just been talking with close friends about Peak Oil, and trying to "lead by example" in terms of preparation. But if there is any bright side to this, it seems that really soon we may be on the verge of an "awakening," where society at large will be more accepting towards pertinent change in the face of hardship.

Everyone, please continue to try to be clear-headed about what we're experiencing, and keep spreading the word as things deteriorate. Don't resign yourself to hopelessness.

Really the point of my post now is that perhaps our uphill battle of getting through to people will become easier this year or next as the global economy deteriorates for a second time.

I agree completely. My wife who is a confirmed cornucopian and thought I was looney on the many occasions when I've talked about peak oil, the plateau of production, oil being a finite resource, etc., but she now sees the truth of it with this recent rise of prices similar to 08.

So if she can get it, I'm sure many others can as well. I've posted on several occasions that this 2nd (coming) step down will be another opportunity for people to get it, to understand that its not speculation, but rather fundamentals of supply and demand pushing oil price higher, much like all other commodities. It really shouldn't take a 3rd step down for people to get it.

What an interesting juxtapoint that will be when the masses finally get it, that we are all nearing the end of the oil age.

Jon & Earl:

As much as I hope you are right, I'm skeptical. I don't preach from a soap box but I do bring up our resource predicament when I feel the person is receptive i.e ecologically aware. Even pre-selecting my "victims" I get blank stares or polite non-committal responses, 9 times out of 10. They just can't put it together.

Maybe it's just initial overload, but when I think of the majority that have 1001 different reasons why what I say can't possibly be true, I think a long hard slog still awaits us.

One can be as green as they like, but, IMHO, PV and solar hot water heaters are NOT world changing.

Many will adapt because they have no choice, but only a few will actually get it because a bogeyman fits much better in their belief system.

Remember the 300 mpg carburetor?

I get blank stares
Maybe it's just initial overload

That is what is known as "Eyes Glazed Over" Disorder (E.GOD!)

It is not overload.

Your's is a direct challenge to (assault on) the survival of many a subconscious streams of thought within the recipient's brain.

The prime directive of all living streams of subconscious thought (a.k.a. fundamental models of the world as maintained within the brain) is to survive and to continue survive.

In carrying out the prime directive, your assaulting message must be rejected. And therefore it is. Their eyes simply glaze over.

(However, if you repeat the assault numerous times while their guards are down, some of your message may make it through; provided you use the dark art of mixed messaging.)

Mixed messaging?
Now I sound like a mad cap fruitcake to you much as you sound like one to your friends.
What is mixed messaging?
Answer: It is a technique of sneaking through a multi-payload set of thought bombs into the listener's brain. A simple example is the use of alliteration (repetition of a sound pattern that primitive parts of the brain tend to latch onto).

More specifically, somethng like this:

"Do you realize that our recent Pain at the Pump is Proof that the Petroleum Plummet moment is Perilously close at hand for us?" This is a multi-payload package because it carries a fear-triggering part ("Perilous"), it contains rhyming parts, i.e. repetition of the "P" sound, it contains a 'Riddle Me This' part (it comes in the form of a question) and it contains a herd mentality part ("our" and "us"). The delivery has to be done smoothly and quickly. It would help if you had a Sarah Palin screech voice as well.

Madison Avenue advertisers persistently pursue the patter patter patterns of alliteration because they work. There is a primitive part of the brain that can't resist. I like to refer to alliteration as 'crain candy'. You are rewarding a primitive pattern recognizing part of the brain (the cranium) with a sugary treat of sorts that it can't resist latching onto.)


It would ruin the microphones and make them soggy.


What an interesting juxtapoint that will be when the masses finally get it, that we are all nearing the end of the oil age.

Found in the Seattle Times:

Jon Talton: Higher oil prices are a danger to economic recovery

Behind the upheaval in the Middle East, however, the more interesting and ominous oil story is to be found.

A well informed piece that hits all of the high points of the peak oil argument, and with unusual clarity. I was also quite pleased to find it remarkably free from delusional thinking, including wild eyed hand waving about so-called "renewables" (which is just another word for "let's blow a whole bunch of fossil fuels on some techno boondoggles"). A long quote from TOD figures prominently (although it is not specifically attributed to an author), Matt Simmons also gets a mention, and the column even closes with a quote from James Howard Kunstler!

Even more remarkable than the content is the fact that the column appears in the business section of what is usually a relatively conservative newspaper, at least by Seattle standards.


Nice it is that the author gives "The Oil Drum" some street creds.
Suddenly we become respectable.

Talton may write for a conservative-leaning paper, but he's been writing about peak oil for years now. He's even linked to Orlov.

My husband said, "Well, you didn't say there would be problems like this in the Middle East! You just said there would be problems with oil!".(My husband has been in deep denial, alternating with lackadaisical acceptance of PO and shrugging it all off)

I just smiled. Other relatives who have been a bit snippy before, I have emailed to say (not in so many words) "I told you so".

But I have also been working out some things where I listened to my husband about his ideas----like staying in the city and doing my best at my job. Well that did work out. I got a new idea for a research project and at least that has been fun. So he was right too. A job is a way to contribute. I would like to contribute by farming one day but right now I think I can contribute better in my current job. Just because of what I can do right now.

Luckily I am not invested in the stock market but I think there will be some huge crash in the next 6 months. I always think watching stock market crashes is a very interesting experience. Maybe because I was in my early 20s back in 1987 and that Black Friday was a sort of epic day.....a formative lesson somehow, although I wasn't invested in the stock market then either and never have been.

Maybe because I am interested in culture....stock market crashes seem like a nexus for so many forces: psychology, economics, energy, geology, politics, the media, etc.

High oil prices I like because I like to see the bulldozers get parked and abandoned. MOre used car dealers are gone from around here by the way and that is great news!!!!!!!!Now there are just empty lots...I am hoping soon the new car dealers will go away. SO far only one has.

But stock market crashes are somehow more mysterious than oil price fluctuations.

I've had some limited success in my evangelical Peak Oil mission.
I've converted about 4 people and about 7 are sitting on the fences.

If I don't keep working on them they naturally fall into the denial space of their brain.

Irregardless, these people tend to take great pains at thinking the correct thoughts.
As the crisis edges ahead we will keep hearing the strayman of the 'Middle East unrest'.

In a sense it is correct, the crisis was moved ahead because of the Libyan supply issues, but the crisis itself was inevitable, although you're unlikely to hear this last bit.
But since it has now been moved ahead, people, at least careful and observant people, will notice that the supposed 'Saudi spare capacity' everyone was blowing their horns about is strangely absent.

After all, didn't 'our friends the Saudis' propose to keep prices in the 70-80 dollar range?
Brent's at 120, more or less. And most of the world's oil is closer to Brent than WTI.

And as Jeff Rubin noted, the oil rally towards the sky(or to hell, depending on your metaphorical tastes) began far earlier than before Jan 2011.


Bravo for you!

Complaining about your spouse? Good thing.
It creates comradeship with men here who complain about their denialist wives.

I was just talking with Leanan recently about why more women don't show their face here on TOD (virtually of course). She maintains that we men scare away the women with some of our over the top condescending remarks and I can see her point.

As for "I told you so", my experience is that a remark like that never gets a point through and only creates a negative back reaction. It doesn't move the conversation forward.

A better technique is to ask a question:

"Do you think (Dear Husband --no, don't say that!) that our recent Pain at the Pump might signal a Petroleum Plummet Problem?"

Sometimes I think that PO types naturally pair with non-PO types. This may be some sort of primitive balancing response, some sort of evolutionary thing that developed....risk-takers and optimistic people pair up with those who are more cautious and pessimistic. It may be as simple as a "plus" "minus" type of thing, you know "opposites attract" and all that.

If two people are too similar, also, then they could annoy the he&& out of each other. If they are different they can still annoy the he&& out of each other (of course!!) but the differences continue to inspire curiosity and keep the fighting spirit alive.

In the end who really knows what keeps people together through it all??

Besides I have been able to enjoy my work all the more because of the things going on with energy right now. So in a sense my husband has been correct: we couldn't have left and gone to a less crowded place, we needed to be here to do what we could.

And later we may find ourselves moving or doing something different with our work...but a lot of people will be also doing that.

we couldn't have left and gone to a less crowded place

That's my sentiment too.
IMHO we humans need others of our kind to survive.
We don't do well in isolation.
It is the power of a group with a critical mass of different skills that makes it happen.

(As for spouses, I think opposites attract.)