Drumbeat: April 9, 2011

Saudi Has Enough Spare Capacity To Meet Global Demand - Oil Min

RIYADH (Dow Jones)-Saudi Arabia's oil minister said Saturday that the kingdom has enough spare crude capacity to meet any increased global demand or potential supply shortage in the market.

There is a balance between supply and demand in the market, which has enough inventories, Ali al-Naimi said in remarks carried by state-run Saudi Press Agency, or SPA. The comments mark the latest effort by Saudi Arabia to reassure the market in the wake of rising anxiety over the Libya outages.

Current high prices are caused primarily by speculation, misinformation and unjustified fear about the future of supply and demand, he said, according to SPA.

Limits to ‘Disaster Memory,’ Even Etched in Stone

I encourage you to read “Tsunami-hit towns forgot warnings from ancestors,” a haunting and fascinating Associated Press story by Jay Alabaster describing centuries-old stone tablets warning of coastal tsunami risk that dot the Japanese coast ravaged by the great earthquake and resulting waves on March 11th.

This is an example of how “disaster memory,” conveyed from generation to generation, can — at least for a time — limit losses from inevitable, but rare, calamities. The inscription inscribed on one stone (pictured at right) was quoted in the article:

High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants…. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.

The Scientific Curmudgeon - Green alarmists

Before he persists in this sort of fear-mongering, McKibben should consider cross-cultural studies of war carried out by the anthropologists Carol and (the late) Melvin Ember. For decades they tried and failed to find evidence of a straightforward linkage between scarcity of resources and violent conflict in hundreds of simple and complex societies. In most societies war neither broke out as populations surged nor subsided as population fell. And no correlation was found between warfare and persistent, chronic scarcity of food and other resources.

What the Embers did find in an analysis of 186 "mostly pre-industrial societies" was something more subtle. The strongest correlate of warfare was a history of unpredictable natural disasters - such as floods, droughts and insect infestations - that had disrupted food supplies. The Embers were careful to note that it was not the disasters themselves that precipitated war, but the memory of past disasters and hence the fear of future ones. Another correlate was a society's distrust of neighboring societies. "Fear appears to be a common thread in the two obtained predictors of wars-fear of nature and fear of others," the Embers concluded in a paper published in 1992.

In other words, wars stemmed from factors that were not ecological so much as psychological.

Amrita Sen answers your questions – Part two

There has always been the view that subsidies are distorting oil demand in emerging markets and artificially boosting consumption. While in countries like India and China, there has very clearly been a move towards moving away from subsidies, there are still regions in the world, in particular, the Middle East, where subsidies are large and given the recent uprising, they are likely to stay.

Interestingly, our analysis shows that when subsidies are high, a marginal increase in subsidies leads to a more-than proportional increase in the normal level of consumption (this can be though of as a “waste-effect”, such as leaving the car engine on for air-conditioning while going shopping as is prevalent in the ME).

When subsidies decrease, there might be an initial large decrease in consumption due to a knee-jerk reaction and the easing off any wasteful consumption. However, after this initial decrease, any further decline in subsidies is likely to lead to a much smaller fall in consumption, as in many of these countries, income effects (a $1 increase in GDP) dominate price effects (a $1 increase in prices).

ANALYSIS-China fuel hike not enough to preclude shortage

BEIJING (Reuters) - Retail fuel prices in China are lagging the rally in international crude, eroding refiners' incentive to supply the country's surging gasoline and diesel demand.

Chinese consumption was expected to provide a third of the world's oil demand growth this year, but growth could be threatened if refiners cut output to avoid losses -- the sort of response that led to widespread fuel shortages in the country 2007 and 2008.

SBP quarterly report: Rising global oil prices fuel major concerns

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan has warned that the government’s inability to bridge its fiscal deficit means that the country is likely to be more adversely affected by rising oil prices than its regional peers.

Aramco Issues $7 Billion of Contracts for Wasit, Riyadh Reports

Saudi Aramco has spent around 26.3 billion Saudi riyals ($7 billion) on contracts to develop the Wasit offshore natural-gas field, al-Riyadh said, citing Khalid Halwani, a consultant at a sub-contracting company involved with the project.

Saudi Aramco to Expand Into Vietnam, Indonesia After China

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporting company, is planning to expand into Vietnam and Indonesia, adding to its business in Asia.

Libyan military surges on key rebel-held outpost

AJDABIYA, Libya (AP) — Libyan government troops shelled rebels' main front-line outpost and advanced in guerrilla-style units Saturday, killing at least three opposition fighters in what appeared to be their most serious push into the heart of rebel territory since international airstrikes began.

Libya crisis proving bad for business in Tripoli

Many shops and restaurants are shut but hospitals and schools are functioning and there is little evidence of food shortages.

Syrian rights group says funeral comes under fire

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces fired live ammunition Saturday to disperse a funeral march after at least 37 people were killed a day earlier in the single bloodiest day of the country's three-week uprising, a human rights group said.

Anger flares at Egypt army for lethal protest raid

CAIRO (AP) — Demonstrators burned cars and barricaded themselves with barbed wire in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, demanding the resignation of the military's chief Saturday hours after troops violently dispersed a protest there, killing at least one and injuring 71.

'Days, not weeks' should haunt Obama

We played a lead role in the "no fly zone" military missions starting March 19. On Monday, NATO announced U.S. war planes were shifting to a "supporting role." But that was two-and-a-half weeks after fighting started, and we're still there.

That might not sound like a big deal. Except it emphasizes that Obama, like several presidents before him, simply doesn't understand that "war is hell," as Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman so aptly put it.

48-ft. wall of water hit Japan nuclear site

Tokyo (CNN) -- A brief video clip released Saturday captures the massive tsunami that crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant, showing the wall of water that slammed into the facility and created an ongoing crisis.

The video shows the giant wave generated by the historic March 11 earthquake crashing over the plant's seawall and engulfing the facility, with one sheet of spray rising higher than the buildings that house the plant's six reactors. Tokyo Electric Power, the plant's owner, told reporters the wall of water was likely 14 to 15 meters (45 to 48 feet) higher than normal sea levels -- easily overwhelming the plant's 5-meter seawall.

Nuke crisis and falling oil supplies boost reign of dirty King Coal

Deffeyes predicts in the book that public reluctance to use more nuclear power will change as shortages occur, and I predict that disaster in Japan is not going to change that.

Consideration about safety of nuclear waste disposal must give way to real-time craving for such amenities as air-conditioning, television, and neonlights.

Geothermal Energy Use on the Rise in U.S.

Geothermal energy is essentially free heat that comes from under your feet, and according to the annual report by the Geothermal Energy Association, the United States is using more of it.

‘Global agriculture facing convergence of pressures’

BRISBANE (Commodity Online) : Global agriculture is now facing a convergence of pressures – climate variability and climate change, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, food crisis, energy crisis, growing populations – which may be seen as “a perfect storm”, Dr William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) said.

Energy of Innovation (The TV Show)

It’s not American Idol, by any means, but I was invited to sit on a panel helping a Washington, D.C., audience weigh the attributes and faults of seven finalists in a nationwide search for talented innovators pursuing energy breakthroughs. The result is “Planet Forward: Energy Innovation,” a one-hour special being shown on many PBS stations around the country tonight at 9:30. Here’s a snippet:

Besieged Libyan City Gets Aid as U.S. General Sees Stalemate

Libyan rebels and Muammar Qaddafi’s forces are locked in a military impasse, a U.S. general warned, as Nomura Holdings Inc. said that the country’s oil output won’t rebound to pre-war levels when the fighting ends.

U.S. Army General Carter Ham, who commanded the opening phase of the allied military operation, told a U.S. Senate committee yesterday that the conflict is in a stalemate and the use of NATO air power is “increasingly problematic” when it comes to hitting regime forces without endangering civilians and opposition fighters.

Foreign staff members have fled from Libya’s oil fields since anti-government protests broke out in mid-February and escalated into armed conflict, meaning the country’s oil output would remain below one-third of its previous level in the immediate aftermath of a cease-fire, Michael Lo, a Hong Kong- based analyst at Nomura, wrote in a report.

Oil closes above $112 amid fears about shipments

NEW YORK — Oil surged above $112 per barrel Friday following a drop in the dollar and continued jitters about shipments from the world's major oil suppliers.

Zuma Heads to Libya to Discuss Cease-Fire; NATO Confirms Airstrike Mishap

South African President Jacob Zuma will travel to Libya to discuss a cease-fire with Muammar Qaddafi and rebel forces, while NATO confirmed its airstrikes mistakenly killed Libyan rebels using tanks against government forces near the eastern oil port of Brega.

Kuwait Energy may put off IPO due to unrest

Kuwait Energy may defer plans for an initial public offering of its shares on the London Stock Exchange amid regional political unrest.

And like that – blink! – a new war

And who dares doubt that this is about the West passing the mark of peak oil supply? If Libya didn’t have oil, it would be ignored, as Congo is – or Zimbabwe.

The West didn’t give a damn when Israel pummeled Lebanon into rubble or reduced Gaza to dust. When they killed civilians, it was, at best, “collateral damage.” Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, when asked about Israel’s relentless bombings of civilian targets during its obliteration of Lebanese infrastructure, called it “the sound of freedom being born.”

Oil Supply: A Peak Oil 'Quake'

In 2005 when I first joined Titan I was exposed to a new term that I had never heard before – ‘Peak Oil’. Now over five years later, I have come to know more about the potential imminent danger, pain, and devastation of Peak Oil and what it will mean to every single person who lives on this planet and depends on oil energy for their sheer existence.

Seven Lessons From Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's Energy Use Graph

1. Superficially, we have two almost completely separate energy problems.

Coal and natural gas go to buildings and industry, and oil goes to cars. Overall, outside of a little overlap in the industrial sector, they serve completely different functions. They both contribute greenhouse gases, but that is only one of the problems we face in a world of peak oil and dependence on foreign sources.

Growing Rice in Vermont and Designing for Peak Oil

I don't know much about growing rice, but I do know that it tends to be a warm climate crop. So when fellow TreeHugger Mat emailed me about an outfit trying to grow rice in Vermont, I was intrigued. But it turned out that growing rice was just one small part of what Whole Systems Design are up to. In fact, these guys are trying to create designs for entire, habitable, and truly resilient human habitats that can survive any of the challenges our uncertain future throws at us.

The Fantasy of Survivalism

A certain amount of precaution is simple prudence, of course. If, like me, you live in Los Angeles, it's wise to keep plenty of water and other supplies on hand. Serious earthquakes are rare, but unlike hurricanes and blizzards, they strike without warning. You won't have time to shop right before the Big One hits.

But the survivalist instinct mostly plays to a perverse fantasy. It's both comforting and thrillingly seductive to imagine that you're completely independent, that you don't need anyone or anything beyond your home, that you can master any challenge. In the survivalist imagination, a future disaster becomes a high-stakes opportunity to demonstrate competence and superiority.

Visund gas leak 'stopped'

A gas leak reported on a Statoil platform in the North Sea on Saturday has been stopped but the facility remains shut in.

Global oil market oversupplied - Iran OPEC governor

TEHRAN (Reuters)- Iran sees the global oil market as oversupplied, despite prices that have been pushed up by upheaval in the Middle East, its OPEC governor was quoted as saying in a newspaper published on Saturday.

"Not only is there not a shortage of supply in the oil market but there is 1 million barrels (per day) of excess supply," Mohammad Ali Khatibi told Sharq daily in an interview.

Nigeria voting slowly starts after bombing

IBADAN, Nigeria—Nigeria's voters put their inked fingers to ballots Saturday for the first round in the nation's crucial April election, coming out to vote despite bomb attacks and communal violence.

Water levels rising in nuclear reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the water level rose in a trench at the No. 2 reactor at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, adding to concern the utility may have to speed up transfer of the radioactive fluid to a waste- treatment facility and tanks.

Lack of Data Heightens Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

TOKYO — Nearly one month after Japan’s devastating nuclear accident, atomic energy experts, regulators and politicians around the world are still puzzling over a basic question: How much danger is still posed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant?

Report Says Coast Guard Was Unprepared for Spill

NEW ORLEANS — An internal review of the Coast Guard’s performance during the BP oil spill cleanup last year has concluded that the agency was caught badly unprepared and that the response operation was dogged from the beginning by significant planning failures.

Is the bad economy good birth control?

The Great Recession and its painful aftermath has had an indelible effect on most Americans’ lives, and now some are wondering how deep an impact it will have on the next generation as well.

The Centers for Disease Control reported last month that fertility rates fell 4 percent between 2007 and 2009, to 66.7 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. That’s the largest drop in more than 30 years.

Texas cities to get electric car charging networks

Power supplier NRG Energy Inc. says it plans to install a network of 70 electric vehicle charging stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area and another 50 in the Houston area by the end of next year.

Electric cars mean many changes

WASHINGTON — Entire industries grew up around gasoline-powered cars, ranging from the ubiquitous filling stations to fast-food restaurants along highway exits. Similarly, the rise of electric cars probably will transform more than just the automobile.

Clean energy offers equal parts peaks and pitfalls for invest

Global investment in clean energy last year rose by 30 per cent to US$243 billion (Dh892bn), according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). Mid- to long-term investment opportunities are particularly strong in China, which alone accounts for $51.1bn invested in clean-energy projects.

Year-on-year growth was spread evenly across three regions looked at by the WEF and Bloomberg New Energy Finance in the report, Green Investing 2011: Reducing the Cost of Financing. Europe, the Middle East and Africa grew by $19bn to $94.4bn and the Americas rose $17bn to $65.8bn. In Asia and Oceania, investment grew by $20bn to $82.8bn.

Free lightbulbs land E.ON in the spotlight with regulator

E.ON is under investigation by the energy regulator amid suspicions that hundreds of thousands of free lightbulbs meant to reduce UK carbon emissions were re-sold into Ireland.

U.S. Northeast States to Auction 44.2 Million Carbon Permits

A cap-and-trade program for power plants in the Northeast U.S. will auction 44.2 million carbon- dioxide permits on June 8.

The minimum allowable bid will be $1.89 a permit, unchanged from the previous auction on March 9, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative said today in a statement on its website.

Taking On Climate Skepticism as a Field of Study

"When I hear scientists say, 'The data speak for themselves,' I cringe," a social scientist says. "Data never speak."

How Evolution Explains Altruism

What do colon cancer, ant colonies, language and global warming have in common? This might sound like the front end of a joke, but in fact it’s a serious challenge to the standard view of evolution. Martin A. Nowak, the director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, has devoted a brilliant career to showing that Darwin, and particularly his followers, batted only two for three. Random mutation and natural selection have indeed been powerful motors for change in the natural world — the struggle for existence pitting the fit against the fitter in a hullabaloo of rivalry. But most of the great innovations of life on earth, Nowak argues, from genes to cells to societies, have been due to a third motor, and “master architect,” of evolution: cooperation.

Hey folks, check out the link up top: Seven Lessons From Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's Energy Use Graph. It is really good.

2. Transportation is our single biggest problem.

It is by far the single biggest energy hog, sucking up close to 40% of all the energy used. What's worse, it is almost all gasoline, our most problematic energy source.

4. Switching to electric cars may only exacerbate our problems.

5. We are kidding ourselves about them running on renewable energy.

7. The fundamental problem is that big honking green monster, our petroleum consumption.

And of course they have answers, or how to fix the problem.

3. Move to Cleveland.

Well, they have the problem pretty well figured out but their prescription to fix the problem leaves something to be desired. ;-)

Ron P.

Yeah, Ron, #3: Move to Cleveland. Or Buffalo. Cities with rail and canals and water and hydro power and moderate climates that don't need air conditioning.

Buffalo? Moderate climate? Last time I was there, there was 2 meters of snow on the ground, the next summer was a heat wave.

Asheville perhaps? Portland?

I live in upstate NY. Not sure when you visited Buffalo (dates?). I have NEVER seen 2 meters of snow on the ground here at one time in any of the major upstate NY cities. That is like saying that because I visited Donner Pass once, California gets 20 feet of snow per year.

Annual snowfall in large upstate cities is ~120" per year and the heaviest snows might approach 1 meter, but that is not a weekly occurrence. One never sees half a year's snowfall sitting on the ground here -- it melts or sublimates throughout the winter. There are a few places in lake effect areas near Lake Ontario that have seen such accumulations, but it is not a common occurrence.

There is a very good reason why the "rust belt" was first settled and most heavily populated. Life is much more sustainable here than down south or past the 100th meridian, even with. Fossil fuels makes the sunbelt "work".

It was early '90s ('93?) and the snow at my buddy's house was covering the first story windows. His car was totally burried. I also stopped in Syracuse to visit a Navy buddy and the snow was up to the roof of the first story porch. I thought it was crazy, but they seemed used to it.

My point was that calling the climate 'moderate' seems like a stretch from an energy standpoint, comparing heating degree days and cooling degree days to places like Portland or Asheville.

The upstate New York snow story is that YMMV and it may vary all over the lot. One very strange sight used to be old houses with second-story doors opening onto the porch roof, or just into empty air. Back in the good old days before snow blowers and such, that seems to have been a precautionary workaround for "how do I escape from the house, if I must, should the first story be snowed in someday."

Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse are subject to large lake-effect snows and extensive drifting. It becomes problematical to fly there in winter, and Thruway shutdowns are not unusual. In other words, irrespective of the official reading, snow depth will vary greatly on a localized scale. Absent a thaw, it can and will accumulate from storm to storm. So one can certainly have two meters (or much more) on the ground at some spots even if no official storm measurement (which should be taken under 'normal' open-field conditions rather than at some spot notorious for massive drifting) shows (or has ever shown) two meters all in one go.

OTOH the summer climate in the Southeast, with its thick suffocating humidity (not accounted for at all by degree-days), is often extremely debilitating. That's a big reason why the region was mainly a thinly populated backwater prior to widespread air-conditioning. The danger from heat-plus-humidity is exacerbated greatly by some modern medications, so the current widespread notion of retiring far to the south because "you don't have to shovel the heat" (and because there's little or no hazard from ice) is made possible by air-conditioning.

The real trouble may be that precious little of North America can be said to have a moderate climate. (And most of the little that does suffers from substantial earthquake and sometimes tsunami hazards.)

I have seen seven feet of lake effect snow in Buffalo - also incredible ice storms, which we don't get in the UK. In my experience if you want a moderate climate you need to go to the west coast of the USA (around San Francisco?) or the west coast of Europe (UK?).

If you want year round temperatures to stay within a narrow range, you need to go towards the tropics. You can choose your temperature by choosing your altitude. Of course most land and economic opportunity is in the low ground, in which case you are stuck with heat and humidity.

And malaria.

West coast of Europe has a narrow range of temperatures, southwest France is probably the most comfortable.

I understand that Perth, Australia has a year round pleasant climate.
Here in Willamette Valley Oregon the climate is terrible. No one in their right mind would move here;-)

Absolutely correct, ET. We're here in PDX because we're not in our right minds!

Also I see the ICE (internal combustion engine) is getting the benefit of doubt in the chart....
From an input of 25.24 quads (oil) is 6.74 quads put to good use (propulsion), which renders the ICE efficiency at 6.74 : 25.24 = 27%.

Most places I figure the ICE is put between 15 to 20% efficient.

High IQ takeaway point :

3. The car is a crappy converter of energy.

Improving fuel efficiency isn't going to make that much of a difference, either; the fundamental problem is that the bulk of the energy used is moving a ton of metal as well as the 150 pounds of person in it. It is an inherently stupid way to design a transportation system.

I bike 30-40 minutes at 100-150 W of power lets say. 180 to 360 kJ of energy to ride a bike upper estimate too.
In Calories (kcal) for food purposes this would be like using 10 to 20 grams of sugar or 5-10 grams of fat!

Now lets talk about a car going 6 miles at 25 MPG. 1.3 x 10^8 J per gallon of gasoline, which is 7800 kcal of energy, which would be like using 1.7 kg of sugar or 850 g of fat.

Of course here is the other side of biking. If you eat a lot of meat, you are just using more fossil fuel from somewhere else to ride your bike, although I think that this is a stretch myself:

David Pimentel of Cornell University calculates that it takes nearly twice as much fossil energy to produce a typical American diet than a pure vegetarian diet. This works out to about an extra 200 gallons of fossil fuels per year for a meat-eater. This means that meat-eaters are "driving" an extra fourteen miles every day whether they really drive or not, when we look at how much extra fuel it takes to feed them.

I tend to think these kinds of things get misquoted. Active bicyclists cannot possible eat a heavy meat diet unless they like to puke while they ride. LOL

Of course, many Americans are ALREADY eating the extra calories--it's the biking half of the equation they haven't started yet.

The older version of the chart, also linked to in the treehugger article, splits out imported oil vs domestic. It is a nice touch. It shows that (essentially) all oil for transportation is imported, so that "our dependence on foreign oil" can not be eliminated by an increase in mpg, no matter how great. That is, all domestic production is already committed to other uses. Not a major point but nice to think of when you hear a speech.

"but by just consuming less, you actually spend less."

If Krugman hears that he'll stroke out on the spot. Mr 'Squander your way to prosperity' himself.

That is a really great graphic. It puts the current state of renewables in perspective. You are not going to replace the cumulative result of 60 years of construction in only 20 years, especially since it takes 3 years to get the permit and three more to build the plants that make the parts that you need.


Note that "The plant, whose location has not been determined, will employ 400 workers and create 600 related jobs, according to G.E. The factory would annually produce solar panels that would generate 400 megawatts of energy,"

Location is not determined, so no permits in hand. Now GE owns enough congress-critters to twist the EPA's arms enough to get them in the end, but it still takes time. This is years out yet. Then 400 MW peak of modules, so less than 200 MW on a 24 hour basis, so about 5 years of production to match one AP1000 reactor.

We still have the transportation issue to deal with. The tons of metal per passenger is a way to look at it, I certainly think about it while looking at the newest F350 Crewcab 4WD in the company parking lot. 7000 lbs of iron to move one lardbutt to work. But my motorcycle only weighs 550 lbs, and gets barely better mileage than a Prius, so that is not the only consideration. We need something much more streamlined than a motorcycle that uses a much smaller engine. Or to pull the back seat out of Leaf and put in double the batteries.

Hey PVguy, You think it will be a problem to get permits to build a PV factory in the USA? Are you smoking your socks? And if you are so sceptical of the prospects of rapid scale up of PV, why do you call your self PVguy?
And while we are dissecting your post, you really think that anyone wants a new nuclear power plant? Are you smoking someone elses´s socks as well?
But I agree completely with your comment on personal transportation. Why DOT lets people drive around in massive commercial vehicles built for serious hauling just for the fun of it is beyond all rational explanation. Have you lost any loved ones in an oil war lately?

"Hey PVguy, You think it will be a problem to get permits to build a PV factory in the USA? Are you smoking your socks? "

I work in the industry. And it is already a problem to get permits, but then it always has been ever since they made the EPA. Though the EPA did a lot of good, diminishing returns has cut in and they are getting down right silly now. Cost to benefit is completely out of line.

And the solar sites are being hammered with lawsuits;





And the google search goes on and on. As the next line down in the google page puts it, "Green Vs Green on Solar in the U.S."

Perhaps they will just reopen the solar-panel factory they close in Delaware in 2009? That wasn't thin-film though but traditional silicon.

Unlikely. This is an opportunity for GE to entertain a whole new set of bids from states and localities for tax breaks and other benefits.

Availability of glass might be a factor. Wonder who their glassmaking partner is?

How long was the facility in use for? The rate that silicon technology marches at a facility becomes rapidly outdated and new technology drops the cost of production. For example moving to large wafers means better economy but means changing the size of most of the machinery in the chain. Going to ribbon processing means a totally new plant. It does not surprise me that older PV plants do shut down as they simply cannot produce at a competitive price to the new plants that open up. The shame is the old not being replaced with the new. Maybe we will see more of that in years to come.


We need something much more streamlined than a motorcycle that uses a much smaller engine.

Check out this show on a transportation project being developed at NASA, it uses a very small motor and the entire vehicle weighs less than a EV battery. http://www.plumtv.com/videos/masters-of-innovation-space-age-green The segment starts at minute 14.

there's been lots of examples of aerodynamic improvements applied to small vehicles. There's even a contest, sponsored by Shell, in which student groups build vehicles for high MPG. HERE's A LINK...

E. Swanson

As noted in the comments, this article underplays the impact of building energy use, by counting site energy use rather than source energy use (electricity is really 1/3 of source energy, and the rest goes up the cooling tower).

But the overall point about the importance of development patterns is well taken, because buildings can be retrofitted for efficiency, but moving them to a non-car-dependent location is impractical.

There is no such thing as a "green" car, indeed

A bicycle uses less energy than walking. But yes just living in a Western developed nation means lots of fossils will be consumed.

One obvious solution that seems to be missed out is to eliminate (a significant chunk of) transportation i.e. to live and work in the same place. Not only teleommuting, but also campus /community-based approach, designing localities that are mostly self-sufficient in terms of employment, residential space and supporting infrastructure. The key transition is probably to get away from the concept of permanently-owned homes to long-term homes, so that one shifts residences when switching employers. Locality-based employment preference would also be needed, to make sure that families can all find employment within the community.

A bit like returning to a village culture, but no doubt a globalized and modernized version of it. Just as it makes no energy sense to move food long distances, it makes no sense to move people long distances to work.

Interesting that this was one of the transitions foreseen in Future Shock.

"A bit like returning to a village culture, but no doubt a globalized and modernized version of it."

I've been thinking along the same lines, although I use the term "ghetto" to indicate their gritty urban character. People won't necessarily choose to be in them, but circumstances will dictate there is little real choice. The globalized modern version will mean that reality will be obscured by illusion to accommodate the psychological needs of the citizens (the need to reconcile them to their unnatural milieu). In Rome it was bread and circuses, the modern version will be highly processed foods and techno-entertainment, just like today, but more so. Something that has been going on since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but about to take another step change.

What I noticed out of the Lawrence Livermore Lab graph is the enormous amount of waste energy in the system. The bit that looks like the most promising to tackle is the waste heat from electricity generation. Combined heat & power should be a growth industry.

I am glad the fertility rate fell in the U.S. per the (very brief) story above.

Keep up the good work people!

Now we can withdrawal our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop ourselves from being bogged down in Libya, and we can concentrate on properly controlling illegal immigration into the U.S.

The goal is to stop the seemingly inexorable U.S. population growth...then to maintain a slowly contracting population.

The rest of the World is invited to do the same.

This can only help us in our adjustment of doing less with less going forward.

Don't get too excited. The birth rate is only down 4% from 2007. And the USA had a record number of births in 2007. Besides its way too late to solve the problem with birth control anyway.

Disease will do the trick. I guess so will starvation as the price for food starts to rise again.

Infertility is even more effective than birth control. This is sure to come if we look at the epidemic of diabetes in the pipeline.

Fertility rates in America (children per woman)
Hispanic 3.0
Blacks 2.3
Whites 1.7

It is the highest rate group that will dominate. So American growth rate (without immigration) will be 1.5 every 30 years. A doubling of the population every 55 years.

It is called survival of the fittest. The fittest is the group that has the most surviving offspring. The unfit Whites will go extinct.

It's not realistic to look at a snapshot in time and assume it's a long-term trend. Hispanics have higher fertility rates because they have higher rates of immigration. Immigrants traditionally have higher birth rates, but that only lasts a couple of generations or so. After that, they have the same fertility rate as other Americans.

I would guess that the same applies to blacks (many of whom are immigrants). African-Americans - IOW, the ones who have been here awhile - have a birth rate about the same as whites.

I also predict that Hispanics will be assimilated, as other groups, like Italians and Irish (who previously weren't considered white) were. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's grandfather is an immigrant from Mexico, but few consider him Hispanic. Half of football fans probably assume he's Italian.


I agree with your response here.

I grow weary of the implicit 'justification' for not having two or less children per woman because other ethnic, racial, religious, or political or whatever groups may out-birth one's own tribe.

That thinking is the height of short-sighted tribalism which will cause humanity to fail.

That thinking is the height of short-sighted tribalism which will cause humanity to fail.

That type of thinking has been driving human evolution since the dawn of man. It's what got us where we are today. That type of thinking is not something one thinks about and chooses, it is simply innate behavior, a darwinian adaptation that is shared by all surviving tribes.

Innate behavior cannot be justified and need not be justified, it is just the way things are. It is what got us here.

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

No one in their right mind would argue that this is the best type of behavior in a world that is already deep into overshoot. But it is just how humans behave and railing against such behavior will not change anything. It is in our nature and that's just the way it is.

Ron P.

And yet many people resist the impulse to propagate in part because of what they perceive as the consequences. And there are societies who have historically controlled their birth rate or death rate because of their recognition of limited resources. And, indeed, there are current societies who are reproducing below the replacement rate.

Human beings have historically generally behaved in the way you state. But the behavior has changed because people, for various reasons, have chosen to have less children.

I don't know if railing against excessive propagation does any good and yet people and whole societies change. They evolve and their behavior is not fixed.

So, maybe having lots of children is based upon some sort of innate need to propagate. But that need can be and has been overcome by other factors.

There are also those who feel the need to reproduce because of their religion, culture, or race and because of their fear that other groups will predominate. That is, of course, a recipe for disaster, sort of like mutual assured destruction.

Exactly. There are many factors that affect birth rates. I would guess the innate drive to reproduce or to outgrow the neighbors is among the least of them. IME, the latter is more talk than action. I've had people talk my ear off on how important it is to keep the race pure...but when push comes to shove, they marry outside their race. Yasser Arafat called on Palestinian women to have 12 kids, two for him and the rest for themselves. But the Palestinian fertility rate stands at 3.05 per woman and falling.

For most, it's probably an economic decision. Looking at what happened in the former Soviet Union, and during the Depression...I think a bad economy is very likely to result in a naturally low birth rate. Which will be seen as a huge problem by the government.

Tainter discusses this in The Collapse of Complex Societies. As societies begin suffering from declining marginal returns, the birth rate falls. Sometimes the population actually shrinks, even before collapse. This is always seen as a serious problem by TPTB, since they need new citizens to be laborers, soldiers, taxpayers. But there's not much they can do about it.

But the Palestinian fertility rate stands at 3.05 per woman and falling.

whoops, Wikipedia quoting UN says Palestine is at more like 5.0, but yes, not 12 and definitely falling. Thought that sounded low, especially incl. Gaza.

Sorry, my mistake. 3.05 is actually the fertility rate in the West Bank. It's Gaza where it's 5.

But if the innate desire to outbreed one's enemies drives fertility, then Israel and the Palestinian territories is where you'd expect to see it demonstrated. In the long run, demographics is going to be destiny there, and both sides know it. Yet fertility rates are falling, in both Israel and Palestine.

And there are societies who have historically controlled their birth rate or death rate because of their recognition of limited resources.

Historically? Care to name a few of them?

And, indeed, there are current societies who are reproducing below the replacement rate.

There are societies who's population has stopped growing for a number of reasons. Russia's population stopped growing and went into decline in the 90's because their death rate increased. That and very hard times caused many not to want more children. There is always a similar explanation when you find a decline in the population of any country.

Go here: Population growth rate, click on any country and see what the growth rate is. Then tell me who's population is declining and I will tell you the likely cause.

I don't know if railing against excessive propagation does any good and yet people and whole societies change. They evolve and their behavior is not fixed.

No one's behavior is fixed, people just have a strong tendency to behave in a certain way. Do you deny that people have any innate characteristics? If so then I will not even bother replying to any of your posts. I know there are still a few people who believe that humans are born a blank slate, and these people I never argue with.

So, maybe having lots of children is based upon some sort of innate need to propagate. But that need can be and has been overcome by other factors.

Sure, like poverty, hunger, disease, or some other such factor. But the main reason people decide not to have any kids is that they just don't want any. Everyone is different, everyone lives in a different setting. Some people find children incontinent because of their lifestyle or financial situation when if this situation did not exist they might want many kids.

There are also those who feel the need to reproduce because of their religion, culture, or race and because of their fear that other groups will predominate. That is, of course, a recipe for disaster, sort of like mutual assured destruction.

Hey, we are all in this world together. Their disaster is your disaster. It is a world population problem. And the world is in deep overshoot. That cannot be undone. Collapse is inevitable. The question is when will we hit peak people.

Ron P.

Historically? Care to name a few of them?

Jared Diamond describes several in Collapse. IMO, that's the most interesting part of the book: the part where he describes societies that survived for thousands of years in steady-state, and what it takes to achieve this. As Ugo's essay says, it requires some tough choices, and in many ways, it's entirely contrary to the individualistic American view.

Exactly, all you have to do is look at global population numbers graphically expressed, and you realize that for most of our history, and especially for the parts pre large scale organized agricultural cultures, ie, for most of human history, we lived somewhat roughly sustainably. And for the vast majority of the time we call 'civilization', most of the planet was NOT being farmed, only small areas. So it's really only the last few hundred years you could even pretend that 'our' way of living was a universal or a given for all humans. And even in cases like the Mayans, when they 'died out' or 'collapsed', they didn't vanish, just their large scale culture did. If I remember my recent history, in fact, the presence of Mayan Indians was considered such a problem by recent Guatamalan military dictatorships that they basically tried to exterminate them, again. Maybe the collapse of large scale societies is more of a big deal to the people who profit from them than it is to the people who actually lived in them?

The lives of pre-industrial, pre organized large scale society types was not perfect, not a dream, nor a fantasy, they had wars, they died, they lived, things rolled on, but the reality is OUR type of growth and unsustainable consumption, greed, arrogance, and contempt for nature, is what WE did. When your time horizons go back hundreds of years, and extend forward with the 7 generation rule for decision making, I suspect it's a bit easier to not waste everything around you like we are so fond of doing. Yes, it's hard to see that not everyone in history was as greedy and self-centered as we are, with the little egos we develop held up as shrines to ourselves, but from what I can tell, such juvenile behaviors were often frowned upon by more mature civilizations and social systems.

Just as a concrete example, ignore totally the specifics of the cultures in question, and look at some facts: about 50 years after Europeans settled in the North East, those regions were hunted out in terms of furs. 50 years. Those same regions had an abundance of fur bearing animals when we came here, and had them for tens of thousands of years of constant ongoing human habitation. Now, I realize, that this is a fact, and doesn't go well with biases and the desire to type some words and hit the enter button and then say ah I have shown my point with a key quote or point, but this is in fact a fact. This is what sustainable means.

Darwinian simply confuses the cultures he grew up with with all human history, that's an easy mistake to make, we tend to be ethnocentric in our thinking. In fact, if I were to look for an actual innate characteristic that defines human cultures, the belief that one's local tribe is 'the people' and that everyone else is some degraded form of humanity, ie, barbarians would certainly be high on the list, for all cultures share this feature that I am aware of. Also some interesting common mythological elements are shared, that strikes me as a bit too close to be random chance, though could well be caused by something other than western sciencific comfort zone notions, so best leave that to a side.

My favorite example of a culture that maintained intense population control via very strong social taboos would be the Cheyenne, who had a system of reproductive taboos clearly developed to help deal with finite food sources in their regional ecosystem. That's just one off the top of my head, you can look at pretty much any North American culture that existed pre-contact and find similar scenarios. Not fairytales, but real ways to live in nature, with it, working it, shaping it, but sustainably. A common myth, for example, that has troubled North American environmentalists is the notion of a true 'wilderness', something that was not often found where real people lived, what you found was a modified ecosystem, where things were roughly in harmony give or take.

The innuit, their cultures go back many many thousands of years, could be 10k, but that doesn't help demonstrate anyone's enthnocentric views, so let's not actually look at the examples of cultures that have been around many many times longer than ours, and that were doing just fine before we destroyed them. Maybe one key driver of such ethnocentric garbage spewed too often too unthinkingly is to not really think of the trail of tears we've left behind us... easier on the conscience I suspect. One friend of mine is married to an older Native American guy, when he gives talks, the well meaning yuppie ladies come up to him after the talk and ask him, "oh, what can I do?.." He says, simply: give us back our land, that's a good place to start. He says that always shuts them up immediately, since their house is built in that land.

That's just a few samples, you could pick I am sure thousands if you had the background and had taken the time to actually study the question. The main problem with citing these cultures is that by the time we documented them, they were already heavily impacted by our inroads, sometimes far more than we realized at the time.

And nobody ever documented, as far as I know, the other tribes out there, the Iberians for example, pre Romans, they seem roughly to fit native models, but nobody really cared much back then so there is very little known.

But what we can know is that when strong, aggressive, food storing cultures put their eyes on cultures that were living more sustainably, the ability to store foods trumps sustainability short term. Not long term, of course. But it's not just food storage, various cultures did that without bloating up and out in size. The Pawnee did it, they farmed, they hunted, and stored foods in pits for the winter, but they did not create excess, wasn't allowed I guess, or it was too much work, and considered pointless. The Pawnee are actually interesting because they are a tribe that went from being pure hunter gatherer, back to being partial farmers, partial hunters, more than once, if I remember right. That's a real problem for the types that want to paint agriculture as a linear one way trip for humans, the defining moment, after which nothing remains the same. Except when it does, or goes back, I guess.

The last people on the world I think who should feel any right to discuss human nature would be the Europeans, who seem to have gotten stuck in some weird genetic error, like a cancer cell, that triggered excessive and fatally non-sustainable growth. So from inside this perspective, sure, it's fair to say that 'our' 'innate' makeup is prone to overbreeding and destruction of our ecosystems, that's certainly a primary driver for the European expansion into the Americas, well, that plus the need to generate capital, aka steal it, silver, gold, from South America, furs, land, etc, North America. I'm sure that if cancer cells could talk, they would explain how it's just cellular nature to expand endlessly, despite all the evidence of the pre-cancer host cells to the contrary. And since we can talk, we talk about growth being natural and innate, greed, etc, all our bad qualities, just by chance, those are human nature. No thought to correct that problem, just excuse it away by mumbling some pseudo-scientific words to help make us feel better.

Luckily, there's a lot more evidence for other things being our nature, and for certain things being weaknesses we suffer from, but which can, in a properly functioning society, be controlled as any weakness can be. We do have these weaknesses, that's almost certain, at least our various tribes around us today do. Whether it's a wise idea to celebrate them, to try to excuse them, to say they are innate features, that does not strike me as at all wise or responsible.

Even here, the other day, someone posted a link to a discussion of how the pre industrial Japanese were living basically sustainably on their finite island. The ways this can happen are varied, we certainly have the information to do so, but we'll have to wait for our more stubborn populations to fade away before we can actually proceed and return to something a bit more sane as a lifestyle.

bravo h2

Yep. Twin infanticide is/was another widespread practice that helped keep populations in check.

Pretty much every traditional culture has/had taboos on various things, but especially having to do consumption and procreation.

In modern society, our main tabu is against NOT over-consuming and procreating.

I asked Care to name a few of them? No one did! Not Leanan and certainly not H2. I know people have written that this or that culture lived in happy harmony, sustainably, for thousands of years. That is a myth. What wiped out the Greenland Norse people was not the only thing Jared Diamond got wrong in his book.

Darwinian simply confuses the cultures he grew up with with all human history, that's an easy mistake to make, we tend to be ethnocentric in our thinking.

That's a crock. How would you know from one small post what confuses me. H2 simply confuses myth with reality. The Pawnee did not live in peaceful ecological harmony and no other American Indian tribe did either. They went from feast to famine just like every other prehistoric tribe. Steve LeBlanc crushes this silly myth in one of the best books ever written on the subject. Constant Battles: Why We Fight. The book was called “Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage" when it was in hardback.

He, just like you and Leanan believed that historically people lived in constant ecological balance for thousands of years before the evidence convinced him otherwise:

It took more than twenty-five years and a great deal of additional fieldwork for me finally to change my initial naïve view of the past, and humans in general. My take on warfare is now very different from what it was. Though these new ideas about conflict seem exceedingly obvious to me, I arrived at these conclusions not by means of abstract theory, but by being forced to look at warfare based on conclusive evidence found on the ground. The central importance of warfare throughout known history came to me slowly, prompted by archeological fieldwork in a number of different region and reinforced as I tried to reconcile theoretical positions that became increasingly impossible to accept.
Steven LeBlanc, “Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage” page 3

The Japanese were one of the most warlike people on earth. Their population waxed and waned throughout history. To suggest that they lived in peaceful ecological harmony for thousands of years is just silly. The Japanese, just like the Chinese had many famines. War, disease, and famine controlled the historical population of Japan, China and all the historical peoples of the world. Why does anyone think the population grew so slow for fifty thousand years then suddenly took off when fossil fuels came on line?

One other thing that controls, and has historically controlled population, Hans Selye's General Adaptive Syndrome. Go here to learn what has really controlled populations in the past and what will control our population in the future. The Population Debate How many people is too many?

• Excessive energy extraction leads inevitably to plague-like reproduction; and overpopulation leads initially to population decline due to a hormone-based process known as Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome, and then to energy starvation due to environmental degradation.

Also on page 22 of this PDF you will find The Energy Gap where Morrison discusses Peak Oil though he does not use those two words.

Very few people are aware, however, that on a per-capita basis, oil-based energy production peaked in 1979 and has been declining ever since. This decline is still accelerating due to the explosive growth of the human population, the decline of old oilfields, and a dearth of new oil discoveries.

For those really interested in population, and don't have time to read the best two books ever published on the subject, Constant Battles and The Spirit in the Gene this is the best essay ever written on the subject.

Ron P.

"Care to name a few of them?"

I believe I responded to you once before on this same topic.

Examples of peoples that practised population control :-

Pelly Bay Eskimos (killing female babies)
Rendille herders in Kenya (postponing marriage age of women, kill boys born on certain days etc)
Tikopia Pacific Islanders (abortion, contraception, infanticide)
Nambudiri Brahmins, South India (only allow eldest son to marry)

Paper by Mary Douglas - Association of British Zoologists, entitled "Population Control in Primitive Groups" - 1966


Edit : In fact, I heard something on the radio just recently that said the reason anthropologists were unaware of the widespread practise of contraception amongst primitive tribes was because anthropologists were all male, and kept asking the men of the tribes how they managed population control. Of course, the men had no idea.
Then female anthropologists came along and started asking the women. They then found out about a wide array of herbs that women knew about to prevent or terminate pregnancies.

Spring Tides, to my knowledge I have never disputed the fact that peoples of the past have practiced some form of population control. Your post is spot on. I would never dispute the fact that people have sought means to control their population, especially for peoples who did not fear invasion from neighboring tribes like the Pacific Islanders. They just did not do it with the methods the "Noble Savage" folks believed they did. Mostly they just killed their babies.

Searching "Japanese Population Control" with Google I came across this:
Economic growth and population control in preindustrial Japan.

Although there is no evidence of widespread knowledge of effective birth control measures to prevent conception, infanticide and abortion were widely practiced.

That will do it every time.

Ron P.

My personal hypothesis for the "witch trials" throughout history is that the women, amongst other things, were helping others procure methods of contraception via herbal remedies. This, of course, was anathema to the religious control structure.

We see, even in contemporary society, that religious males want to prevent women from controlling their own fertility. Why else the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood, as one example ?

I think that is a definite possibility but I believe the witch trials were just mostly mass hysteria. They really believed in witches and old women were a perfect target. They could blame them for all the ills of their society and then just burn them.

But back to population control. We must remember that starving people will do desperate things. Killing their infants when they knew they could not possibly feed them and they would probably starve, just seemed to them the logical thing to do.

There were other methods of population control. They could exile people, forcing them into the wilderness to starve. Or just kill them for food. That was widely practiced among many Pacific Islanders. Other methods the Pacific Islanders would sometimes use were to put some of their excess population on double canoes and send them out to sea. Sometimes these unfortunate people would find a new island to settle but most of them likely perished at sea.

Ron P.

The Salem trials were, quite likely, more to do with hysteria than anything else, but "witches" have been a part of popular and religious culture for thousands of years. Pretty much since "Paganism" was eradicated.

There is a codification of the "be fruitful and multiply" idea in biblical texts - essentially, a desert blessing to nomadic tribes in the Middle East.

Yair...indigenous populations in Australia seemed to keep populations within the carrying capacity of the country with a very firmly enforced clan and tribal system.

I note a comment up thread about primitive people not knowing what caused babies...the wide spread practice of "whistle cocking" among the desert tribes would indicate otherwise.

Oh my. Just had to look up 'whistle cocking' - ingenious, but much braver men than I!

I'd add that there are population control measures that are not necessarily recognized as population control, by either men or women. For example, considering people too young to marry until they are in their 20s, or requiring couples to abstain from sex for five years after the birth of a child. Tikopia encourages risky sea voyages; one-third of the deaths of unmarried young people were due to these voyages.

Some cultures lived sustainably for thousands of years. That doesn't mean all or even most did. And as Ugo mentions, being an island society helps, partly because it makes the need for sustainability very clear, partly because it protects the society from other, less sustainable cultures.

Among Diamond's examples of societies that succeeded: Tikopia, the New Guinea highlands, Tokugawa Japan, the Pueblo Indians and the Inuit.

Note that Diamond does not claim there was constant peace. He lists seven methods of population control used on Tikopia, and one of them is warfare. (Interestingly, oral tradition and archaeology show that it happened after a natural disaster - their lagoon being closed off by a sandbar, killing the shellfish beds. Like that study found, it wasn't scarce resources per se that caused conflict - resources were always scarce on the small island - but a natural disaster.)

Well I suppose it all depends on what you regard as "sustainable". The New Guinea Highlands have a long history of warfare and then eating their victims. That kept population under control and that definitely was sustainable. I gave the Japan example above and will not repeat it here.

There is a huge difference between "sustainable" and "living in ecological balance." Infanticide is sustainable and, given a wide latitude, you might regard it as living in ecological balance but I would draw the line with warfare, disease and famine. These have kept populations in check making their society sustainable. But wherever mankind has settled we have destroyed the megafauna, driving many species into extinction. That is far from ecological balance.

But back to sustainable. Infanticide, abortion, cannibalism, warfare, plagues and other diseases and species extinction have kept societies sustainable. And if those are included in your definition of "ecological balance" then I suppose it is that too.

Ron P.

So the current 'going forward' question is not to advocate infanticide or abortion.

We clearly have numerous methods of contraception which are rather safe and effective.

Condoms. IUDs. Various birth control pill formulations....also shots and implants.

Vasectomy, Tubal ligation.

These things are not that difficult to manufacture, or to use.

The math of population is amazingly simple, particularly the idea of a replacement rate.

This is why the de-funding of Planned Parenthood and similar groups is infuriating to me. And the fact that the same cast of characters have been restricting the availability of birth control education overseas by preventing U.S. aid monies from being used for it. But the same characters travel to Uganda and encourage the locals to kill homosexuals.

We have more than enough information to know what the right choices are for sustainability, but we can't get over our greed and vanity.

And there's a lot more to population control than just abortion/infanticide. Those are two of the seven methods Diamond lists for Tikopia. The others are coitus interruptus, celibacy for younger sons (which means many women were also celibate, celibacy on Tikopia meaning childless, and not necessarily sexless), explicit suicide, virtual suicide (those risky voyages), and warfare.

And there are others. Late marriage, postpartum sexual abstinence, requiring a young man to own a farm that can support a family before he is allowed to marry, polyandry, etc.

From my Scotch Irish side of the family, the tradition was to have 3 children widely spaced apart. My mother got a mean letter from her mother after the birth of her 4th child who was born 1year earlier(in spacing) than me or my sisters. Do I get banned for mentioning oral and anal sex as birth control methods? Beats infanticide in my book. Oh wait, "not necessarily sexless". Those herbal remedies? mentioned, have they been studied?
Farming and food surpluses of grains are necessary for civilisation with its exploding populations. With the introduction of the potato, the population of Ireland doubled in 10 years. With the potato blight the population halved in two.
Western civilization - or as Ghandi put it when asked what he thought of Western civilization ="Yes, that would be a good idea."
But Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, African etc civilizations don't have any better track record.

With the introduction of the potato, the population of Ireland doubled in 10 years. With the potato blight the population halved in two.

I invite all who think we can really control our population growth, and our eventual population decline, to pause and think about the above historical event for just a moment.

Nuff said, thank you and good night.

Ron P.

I have to disagree with you here Ron the Irish famine was a little more complicated. The potato blight was a European phenomenon and led to famine in Europe at the same time and was spread out over a several consecutive years. This is little known, deaths rates or no. or deaths in the different countries were surprise surprise dependant on the percentage of the local diet that was made up of potatoes Denmark where it was only 5% suffered hardly at all while there were approximately 20,000 in west Flanders. The total no. who died in Ireland was if my memory serves me well was in the region of 15% and that over several years. Most of the population decline was due to emigration during the years following the famine. The population halving in two years is pure codswallop. What people should be doing instead of printing this rubbish is to ask questions why when the potatoe blight hit Ireland once again in I think 1879 was there only hunger and not starvation.

Ron I have to say thank you for that link too the PDF by Reg Morrison "The Population Debate" the best piece of non fiction I have read in years. I have read it once and will be complying with Oscar Wilde's dictum that if something is not worth reading twice it is not worth reading once. I will be going through it very carefully later today.

Yorkshire, the piece which I copied and pasted from Gepay does not say how many people died in the Irish Potato Famine, it just says the population halved in two years. According to at least one historian that is correct.

The Irish Famine

The Irish famine led to over half the residents emigrating from Ireland to other countries. Historical estimates put the number of deaths, as the result of the famine, at somewhere around 700,000, though others claim the actual number is closer to one million or even more. Many died from starvation, but others died as the result of poor nutrition, which aggravated diseases spreading around the country like cholera and influenza. Today, the Irish famine is regarded as one of the worst tragedies in the country’s history.

Reg Morrison has a home page where he posts links to all his essays that are on the web:

Reg Morrison, A Fresh Perspective on Life

Morrison was a photographer by trade so his essays have lots of photographs. He is retired now, or was the last time I corresponded with him about a year ago. He is getting up in years, I think he is about 5 years older than me. That would put him in his late 70s.

Ron P.

The Irish famine led to over half the residents emigrating from Ireland to other countries.

Actually, only a quarter of the population emigrated during the famine years, but the emigration continued on for another 60 years and by the census of 1911 the population of Ireland was half of what it was in the census of 1841.

The potato blight was a recurring phenomenon, and Ireland had far more people that it could support in any case. At the same time, new land and opportunities were opening up in the US and the British colonies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, so the obvious thing to do was emigrate.

The Famine of 1847, though, completely overwhelmed Canadian resources since, unlike in the US, immigration authorities could not legally keep the Irish out. However, once they were in Canada, it was a simple matter for Irish cross the border into the US, and about half of them eventually did so.

Toronto Irish Famine Memorial

In the summer of 1847 the Toronto Waterfront witnessed one of the greatest human tragedies in the history of the city. Between May and October of that year, over 38,000 Irish Famine emigrants arrived from Ireland at a time when the city's population was just 20,000 people.

When the final reports on the tragedy of 1847 in Toronto were issued, in early 1848, the staggering toll of the "year of the Irish" was graphically revealed. Nearly 1,100 of the 38,560 migrants died and were buried in Toronto. ...local politicians began to prepare for the coming season and made ready petitions that their province no longer be considered by the British as Ireland's graveyard. Their fears did not materialize, since migrants from Ireland, in 1848, preferred travel to the tidewater ports in the United States.

If the psychological impact on the Famine migration to Toronto had been poignant, the actual demographic change to the city had been far less than popular mythology has indicated. By 1848, 35,650 of the migrants have moved beyond Toronto in search of family, relatives, and work in either British North America or the United States.

However, not all of them moved on, so in the census of 1851, half the population of Toronto was Irish in origin.

Actually the statement was just something I read and it stuck in my head. I wrote it down without doing any research so my bad. It does look like it took a lot longer than 10 years for the population to double and from 1846 to 1851 the population was reduced at least a quarter from death by starvation and disease and a noticeable drop in birthrate along with emigration. There is of course the usual lack of accuracy in any statistics from those years. Some say the population was bigger than the census figures in 1840 and some say it was less. Many of the emigrants died on the boats crossing the Atlantic.
The potato was mainly responsible for the population growth. It allowed for grain production to be used for rent payments. This grain was exported to England. Many were faced with paying the rent or eating and being thrown out into the streets. One source says only about 4% of the native Irish population owned their land at the time. Imperial English policy contributed to the degree of annihilation as the land could have supported that many people but it could not sustain continued population growth. Now the Irish are faced with decades of a depressed economy in order to pay to German and English banks (and bondholders) the money their banks borrowed to make bad loans in a property bubble. I hope they repudiate the debt like Iceland has done with Ice Save.

Farming and food surpluses of grains are necessary for civilisation with its exploding populations. With the introduction of the potato, the population of Ireland doubled in 10 years.

That was because the potato allowed people to farm areas that previously couldn't be. Traditionally, Ireland controlled the population by requiring men to have a farm capable of supporting a family before marrying. With the potato, a lot of men who previously would not have been able to have families had them.

With the potato blight the population halved in two.

Wikipedia says the population fell 20% to 25%, by mortality and emigration combined. One million died, one million emigrated. Though of course these are estimates, as exact records weren't kept back then (and widespread emigration was occurring even before the famine).

… when the economist William Nassau Senior (who took over Thomas Malthus’s position at the East India College) was told that a million people had died in Ireland’s potato famine. He remarked succinctly: “It is not enough.”
At the same time that this was going on, Ireland was exporting food to England - pork paid for rent to the absentee English landlords might be one example. The same things are happening today when droughts are happening in sub Saharan Africa. Agribusiness corporations which were able to buy the primo farmland much cheaper than equivalent farmland in say, France, are exporting melons to Paris as they bought land that had its own sources of water. Now it can be happening with biofuels besides food.
I have no clue about what the real figures are in the Irish potato famine but they were close enough to make the statement with its dramatic effect but I imagine that emigration and mortality were about the same. It was not a happy time for Ireland.

It wasn't so much that potatoes allowed the expansion of agricultural land in Ireland, it was that under Irish climatic conditions, the potato gave much higher agricultural yields than any other crop - at least twice the calories per acre.

The flip side was that, after the potato blights began destroying the crops, year after year, nothing else could produce the same food output, so the excess population had to emigrate. The population of Ireland dropped by half between 1841 and 1911.

On the other side of the equation, opportunities were opening up in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, so emigration was a very viable option. By 1850 the Irish were a quarter of the population in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

A little known fact is that Canada, being a British colony, could not legally prevent Irish refugees from immigrating, and it cost about 1/3 as much for them to travel to Canada as to the US (Many who were evicted from their land got free passage). By 1851 half the population of Toronto was Irish and other Canadian cities had similarly high numbers. Because opportunities were better, about half the Irish who immigrated to Canada later crossed the border into the US.

The rest blended relatively smoothly into Canadian society, a few religious disputes aside. There were no religious barriers to intermarriage between Catholic French and Catholic Irish, so about 40% of French-speaking Canadians have some Irish ancestry.

Rocky Mountain guy,
I think you have hit the nail on the head, they did blend in relatively smoothly, apart from the odd Fenian invasion from America, the fact that these were not supported by the local Irish community testifies too this.

These people trying to defund PP apparently don't even believe in contraception since that is what PP is mostly about as abortion is a very small part of what they do. Contraception, I guess, encourages licentiousness and even teenagers having sex. Can't have that even if we actually end up with more unwanted children or abortions.

Regardless of whether or not procreation is an innate desire, there are lots of people who desire to not conceive and should be afforded the ability to do so. It is a great investment for the nation and the planet.

Yeh, we're probably doomed but that doesn't mean we have to make birth control too difficult and expensive.

Be fruitful and multiply is not currently a prudent dictum.

There is a huge difference between "sustainable" and "living in ecological balance."

I might agree with that, depending on definitions.

Infanticide is sustainable and, given a wide latitude, you might regard it as living in ecological balance but I would draw the line with warfare, disease and famine.

I would not. Disease and famine, maybe; they are likely indicators that things are out of balance. Warfare, no. I think it can be part of living in ecological balance, as long as it is conducted sustainably.

But wherever mankind has settled we have destroyed the megafauna, driving many species into extinction. That is far from ecological balance.

I think there's a period of adjustment. It takes time for people to learn how to live in balance with new environments.

But sustainable vs. not sustainable is painfully evident across the Pacific. There are the islands where people survive today, more or less unchanged, and the ones where there's nothing left but ruins. Part of it is geography. Some islands are more vulnerable than others, due to geology. And Diamond found that small islands and large islands can transition to sustainability, but medium-sized ones cannot. But human choices also entered into it. Societies do choose to fail or succeed.

Ron, you seem to be VERY confused about what sustainable means. Let me help you out. A sustainable society is one that sustains. The way it sustains is largely irrelevant. It's not a suburban dream, they have wars in many cases. That's part of the process I assume usually. These aren't middle class liberals, these were people who considered war as an honorable way to go out. The community came first, defense of the community was given the highest honor, and with that we find just where it is you are confused: you believe in the individual ego and self, that was simply not cool or permitted in most reasonably sustainable cultures, and this attachment to the self leads you down a slippery slope where you have to make up stuff in the past to avoid seeing endless examples that demonstrate clearly why you are not seeing things accurately.

Infanticide was also not considered often as a big deal, because, again, these were not industrial post christian humanists, these were people who lived in their ecosystems and had to deal with them, and whose existence was found in the social body or tribe, NOT the individual self, a perversion we have been brainwashed into thinking, believing, to be both real and normal. The self is an idea generated to increase consumption in our modern societies, that's why all advertising pushes feeding your self and how others see that self, never the larger community.

Yes we have destroyed the megafauna, but again, you are confused about what sustainable means: it means achieving some type of long lasting ecological equilibrium. You seem to have some notion of the garden of eden or something where nothing is touched.

It's kind of obvious to me that you're suffering from some type of idealizing process, where anything that isn't in your ideal of how things work means it didn't work.

If you spend more time reading original primary ethnographic sources and less on stuff to confirm your biases, you'll start to understand this, but this takes a commitment and open-mindedness. It also helps to not try to sustain unsustainable mental models, no matter how cherished they are.

Equilibrium is achieved between humans and the ecosystem, that equilibrium means that some type of relative balance is achieved, it's not perfect, people have wars, they have famine, they live, they die, it's not your suburban house type situation. But overall, when I point to almost an entire continent that has had continuous human habitation for they believe now upwards of 40k years, and you point to some guys book in rebuttal, you should, stubborn as you are, be able to see that something was going on. It's not the presence or absence of resources, which is a favorite thing that people who want to excuse the European way like to look at, since the North American continent had plenty of raw materials.

See, you have to learn to stop seeing your bias and see reality, and that reality is long term cohabitation of man and nature, both adjust to the other. We now have about 500 years here, they had between 10k and 40k, and if you can't see that difference, you clearly are just being argumentative and not even remotely trying to grasp the reality of the matter. Ie, this is for you a religious discussion, not a fact based one. I'm not a fan of your religion, though I do understand it, having grown up in a similar environment, where only science carries truth etc ad nauseum. Poorly understood science too I might add.

both views. the eden one and the constant war fare one are a bit to simplistic. From what i have seen and read i think it would be at least reasonable to expect that in times of plenty they were nicer to their neighbors then in times of famine.

Darwinian, you are growing somewhat amusing here, the path to sustainability is the path we create. Your shocked middle class humanist reaction to paths others have taken to achieve this end say more about your biases than about them.

Before you get all shocked about some wars and birth control methods you don't like, let's look at our legacy, shall we? Or is that a bit uncomfortable for you?

Let's see: 1000 year climate change almost unavoidable, massive ecosystems disruptions. Wars that have killed millions, not hundreds. Oops. Massive species die-offs, to an extent that will make the coming 1000 years in the future be seen as one of the most cataclysmic events in our biosphere's history.

Long term toxins left scattered all over,. nuclear wastes that can last 1 million years as the half lives tick their slow way down, 10k years, 100k years, at a time.

Ongoing environmental destruction. So that's our way. I don't see much to recommend it.

Now let's compare, some small scale regional wars to settle various disputes, many of these wars were often largely ceremonial, some were serious, and some people died.

Yep, I think all I see here is a totally non-considered, and totally uncritically accepted or examined, humanism, which is itself just a slightly translated Christian ideology, where the Christ figure is replaced with the Self figure as the object of worship, coupled with a standard European ethnocentrism, about what I thought. Your shocked outrage that native original people's did not fit your suburban type dream view kind of says it all about how much of this material you have spent time studying. Since that time is clearly close to zero, I'm not clear why you feel the urge to keep typing your words and hitting the submit button. You argue too much, you've said it before, and you don't know when to stop. This is a classic case.

:: By the way, sorry for how these responses appeared, I thought they would match up better with the postings. Anyway, time to go out and do more productive things than argue against primitive, and stale, eurocentric humanist notions with someone who has clearly never bothered actually examining the source of his biases or beliefs.

Darwinian, I'm only going to comment on one thing, since your entire 'argument' or 'response' rotates around this point: I did not state that there was anything 'peaceful' about this process. I pointed to an existent fact of a functioning ecosystem that was non functioning within a century of European arrival.

You are the one that appears to have fallen for that peaceful savage myth, not me.

So if that's all you can come up with as a 'rebuttal', I assume you don't have much more to offer.

Of course we ebb and flow, the desire for stability is something that says more about your own middle class bias looking forward to the golden years of consumption than about any historical reality.

I've been reading your nonsense about 'human nature' for years now, I just usually ignore it because it's so absurdly eurocentric that it's not even worth responding to. It's still really not worth responding to, were it not for one single thing that started clicking at the base of my skull: the doomer worldview... where does it come from? what is the psychological mechanism that generates this type of apocalyptic way of seeing existence? This is not a new phenomena, as I've indicated in previous postings, but it is an interesting one. My current operating theory is that as societies grow, and ebb and flow, certain members of the population, I assume those most attached to the flow state, the 'upside', that is, begin to confuse that up state with all reality, then consider that the failure of that up state, and the return to ebb, as things readjust, somehow is the end of all things.

Again, there's nothing new in this type of attachment, or the connection of the self so strongly to this condition, nor am I surprised to find that we can even find books to bolster this view, who would think that people would write books to support the view of the cancerous societies we live in? I for one would never have believed it true. But I will give that book darwinian likes so a much a quick look to see if it's any good, and to see if darwinian is just misrepresenting someone's point to support his own doomer views, which I suspect is the case here.

Basically, every so called 'rebuttal' you made rebutted nothing, it'sjust more empty bytes wasted, more server capacity abused. Nobody talked about edo being thousands of years, that was offered as an example of relatively recent relatively sustainable culture.

You have to stop this silly habit of responding to things that weren't said just because you believe that they somehow are against your beloved doomer worldview, it's really not one your more impressive features here as a poster, like I've said before, I know you can find stuff to confirm your biases, even entire books, it's just a lot harder to do that when you expand your reading lists beyond those few works, really. But then you'd need to stop spending so much time quoting wikipedia and start doing some real research, and, shudder, start questioning your biases, stubbornly held as they are.

So while it's somewhat amusing wasting this time in this way, it's really not very productive, your generation is going to fade away and people are going to have to get to work dealing with the realities that will arise. One can follow your route, or one can work towards an alternate future, it's a tough call but I think I'll look for a future that works.

You seem endlessly confused, your rebuttal rebutted nothing, but I do realize you just love your online arguments, I've seen you more than once make a resolution to stop the habit over the years, I suggest if you have nothing positive to offer other than self-serving affirmations of your core bias you think about going outside and gardening or joining some local community group, and spend less time on these threads. You still only have one life, and you're throwing it away on a negative project of no value, why you want to spend your last years here on earth this way is beyond me, I suggest you find a more positive outlet for your negative emotions.

Edo Japan.

This was an excellent post.

And my reply was not an excellent post because it refuted everything H2 wrote, especially about Edo Japan. Fantasy is always excellent. The reality of killing newborn babies is never excellent.

Please allow me to repeat myself. Economic growth and population control in preindustrial Japan.

Although there is no evidence of widespread knowledge of effective birth control measures to prevent conception, infanticide and abortion were widely practiced.

Ron P.

But what started this thread was your claim that humans have an innate drive to breed, and there's nothing that can change that. Doesn't widespread infanticide and abortion in order to control population growth disprove your assertion?

Well no, the innate behavior is to have sex, not breed. Early hunter-gatherers probably had no idea that sex caused babies. Animals do not know what causes offspring yet they will always breed to the very limit of their support system. Humans do also. But when they find their numbers too high they do something to correct the situation. Many animals, but not all, do also. Some birds will push their offspring out of the nest if there are too many. Some ducks will drown a duckling if there are too many in the flock. Rats on the other hand, will just breed until starvation thins their numbers.

Tribes that have neighboring tribes, which has always been the vast majority of tribes, want their numbers as large as possible in order to fend off other tribes. But if they were too successful and their own tribe grew too large, then they would split often split off into two competing tribes and the whole thing would start over.

Humans have an innate drive to do what is necessary for survival. If that includes infanticide and abortion then so be it.

One more point. There is an innate drive to love, nourish and protect one's offspring after they are born. Bonding only begins after birth and it is far stronger in females than males... in humans anyway. But population is driven by the desire for sex, not for the desire to produce offspring. The drive for sex is far stronger than the desire to produce offspring especially among males.

Ron P.

Early hunter-gatherers probably had no idea that sex caused babies.

I think they knew, given the widespread use of coitus interruptus and other alternate practices to avoid unwanted births.

Other than that, I pretty much agree with your comment. I'd add that we humans have done a pretty good job of separating sex, reproduction, and nurturing. We can indulge in both sex and nurturing without actually have kids.

I think they knew, given the widespread use of coitus interruptus and other alternate practices to avoid unwanted births.

Errrr... not to nitpick but how did you come by the knowledge that hunter-gatherers practiced coitus interruptus and other alternate practices to avoid unwanted births?

Notice I hedged my claims with about hunter-gathers with the word "probably". But if you inform me of your sources then I can use them and will not have to do that anymore. ;-)

Ron P.

There is an innate drive to love, nourish and protect one's offspring after they are born. Bonding only begins after birth and it is far stronger in females than males... in humans anyway.

Per a NOVA Human Evolution show, infant mortality is higher in humans than other great apes - and as I remember it, they were couching this in the sense of abandonment and infanticide, not just a 'health' issue. If true, it is difficult to believe that it was not an advantageous adaption.

off hand wiki link:

Sorry but I did not get that from the Wiki article.

Hrdy's PhD thesis tested the hypothesis that overcrowding causes infanticide in langur colonies. She went to Mount Abu in India to study Hanuman Langurs, and concluded that infanticide was independent of overcrowding - it was possibly an evolutionary tactic: When an outside male takes over a group, he usually proceeds to kill all infants. This postulated tactic would be very advantageous to the male langurs who practiced infanticide.

You can see that in many other species from lions to hedgehogs. When a male takes over the harem of the newly deposed male, he kills all his offspring. And it is an adaptation because it promotes the spread of his genes ahead of his rivals.

This behavior has nothing to do with sustainability or anything else other than the propagation of one's genes. This is totally unrelated to infanticide in humans. However that being said it is a well known fact that stepfathers are often cruel and sometimes kill their stepchildren. But again I cannot connect this to anything we are discussing today.

Ron P.


I read the slide set you posted and found it to be rather interesting.

Has the author published a book or books to further elucidate his ideas?


Yes, the book is called The Spirit in the Gene and published in Australia as "Plague Species". He is an Australian. It is available from Amazon.com. The Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature

I regard this as one of the three best books I have ever read, and I have read hundreds of non fiction books. The other two are "Overshoot" William Catton and "The Moral Animal" by Robert wright. "Constant battles by Steve LeBlanc comes in a close fourth.

Ron P.


I may just log into Amazon presently!


I was aiming more at this comment: She discusses how mothers are continually making trade-offs between quality and quantity" and weighing the best possible actions for both her and her infant. Hrdy's view is that there is no defined 'maternal instinct', as it depends on a number of variables, and is therefore not innate, as once thought. The bit from NOVA was just a piece that stuck in my mind for follow-up later and your comment about maternal bonding brought it back up.

In many animal species, mothers have been selected for early termination of parental investment when such an occurrence increases inclusive fitness (reviewed in Clutton-Brock, 1991). In other words, evolutionary theory postulates that apparently defective maternal behavior (i.e., infant abandonment, neglect, and infanticide) can, in fact, reflect an adaptive strategy under specific circumstances. Assuming that mothers have at their disposal limited resources which can be translated into reproductive effort and that maternal care is subject to optimization by natural selection, one may expect maternal investment to be adaptively diminished or terminated under circumstances predicting reduced inclusive fitness payoffs


I read that as 'maternal instinct' is dependent to some degree on resources available. Hrdy also points out the 'it takes a village' aspect of child-rearing (allomothering). Allomothering, and infant abandonment are both natural behaviours offered as a counterpoint to your earlier comment: There is an innate drive to love, nourish and protect one's offspring after they are born. . I'm not saying that such a drive does not exist, but that it is tempered by other, often complex, behaviors towards infants and children. A point you also made: Humans have an innate drive to do what is necessary for survival. If that includes infanticide and abortion then so be it.

I thought the discussion was about the desire to propagate, not to have sex. I would never argue that there is not an innate desire to have sex although that might be changing in Japan from what I have heard. And, of course, there are differences between people about which gender to have sex with. I think you have shifted the discussion. If you don't think so, I guess I misunderstood your original assertion.

Leanan - you know very well once Darwinian latches onto a position he won't change, even if evidence shows otherwise. Many times it revolves around absolute language 'all the time' or in this round 'innate drive'.

Feel free to post to explain to others.

Eric, you do yourself no help when you attack the man instead of his argument.

Ron P.

Not convinced that numbers leads to much of anything.

If they did, India and China would have become the wealthiest, most powerful places on Earth, which they are not, not by a long shot. They may have once had more relative wealth, but they were long ago passed by Europeans, who never really got up to their numbers.

Heck India was ruled by a few white British and China was long humiliated by smaller numbers of both Europeans and Japanese.

If anything, numbers are a liability. With their reduced numbers, white Americans may actually end up with more relative wealth and thereby ability to successfully navigate collapse.

The process is already happening, middle classes and wealthier people all over the developed world, North America, Europe, Asia, have reduced their breeding to protect their wealth, and that of their few offspring.

But whatever - American and world population is unsustainable. Something will take care of it.

As I recall it, both India and China were very advanced empires during their prime. China especially was way ahead of Europe in the 14th Century. Remember the story of the travels of Marco Polo? Or, how about the historical references to the Chinese building the largest ocean going vessels and exploring the Indian Ocean all the way to Africa before Columbus left Portugal? I think that both India and China went thru the empire phase but then collapsed, perhaps due to excessive population. China was especially hard hit by the effects of the Kuwae volcano in 1452...

E. Swanson

China was hit hard by the Mongols. At the time, their society was more advanced technologically and economically than anywhere in Europe was until the late 1700s. They were doing things that England reinvented 300 - 400 years later. They had single cities whose trade volume exceeded all the ports of Europe. They built a canal system that should still be regarded as one of the greatest achievements of Man. They built fleets that were more advanced - by possibly hundreds of years - than anything else in the world .. and then abandoned them as unnecessary.

What they didn't do was start building steam engines.

Western Europe was spared Mongol destruction by the death of Genghis Khan. And 400 years later British gunboats steamed up Chinese rivers, enjoying near immunity due to being so much more advanced than anything the Chinese could field.

The Mongols also ended Islam's Golden Era. As for the death of Ghenghis Khan being the reason the Mongols not reaching Western Europe that is historical nonsense. They got tied up quite well farther East for well over a century.

There is a lot to be said that the death of Ghenghis Khan, did not destroy Islam but in fact saved it. A Mongol army was on its way to Cairo across the Sinai when they learned of Ghengis's death and turned back. The sacking of Egypt I think would have meant the death knell for Islam. I can't imagine that they would not have gone on and sacked Mecca, for the Mongols were a mirror of Islam, in many ways worse just as nasty and twice as vicious.

I think that you will find that the Golden Age of Islam is nothing more than modern Public relations myth. There certainly was an age when Islamic communities were more intellectually productive, but I think you will find that the people they are always mentioning are Jewish or Christian, Maimonides is a good case in point he was Jewish. What I think happened was that when the Muslims took over the different countries they were in minority and had to tolerate the learned infidels in there midst otherwise they could not have ruled, but as they imposed there harsh taxes on the local non muslim population more and more of the people converted too Islam until the majority of the population were Muslims which they closed down debate. Islam is not conducive to intellectual curiosity. To Muslim the Koran is the word of God and therefore there is nothing more too be learned. You ask a question why does water boil and the answer comes back, its the will of Allah, God did it end of discussion.

the Golden Age of Islam is nothing more than modern Public relations myth

It is error to conflate "Arabs" with "Muslims"

Not all Arabs are Muslims

Not all Muslims are Arabs

There was an age of Arab enlightenment (long long ago)
Did you ever hear of Arabic numerals, the digit zero (0)?
Do you know what the origin of Al-ja-bera is (algebra)?

This is quite an ignorant of a post. It assumes that races stay separate. LOL. Extinct? Huh? There are billions of people on the planet, and you are talking about extinction of a race. What planet are you from exactly?

Yes, this kind of ignorance is quite common in the US now. In the old days, the Poles were a separate race, so were the Irish, remember 'No Dogs or Irish Allowed In'?

Now even the Southern Italians and Spanish are considered 'white'.

And the category of 'hispanic' has no biological meaning at all, that ranges from dark 100% african caribeans to white as the driven snow Northern Spanish or French or Belgian, or any other European country, or any variety of a mixed or full blooded Native peoples, some of whom don't even speak Spanish, or who speak it only as a second language, like some of the Indians down south, in other words, a hispanic covers all residents of a Latin American Romance language speaking country, and anyone from there that comes here. Are Romanians hispanic? They should be. Many if not most people are completely unaware that in South America a wide range of Europeans moved, just like in North America. Lots of Germans in Argentina, and so on, all now 'hispanics' by that weird US Census notion.

And neither really does african american, that is such a wide range that it's almost comical sometimes to see who is considered 'black', could be someone about as white as our friend here.

Northern Europeans aren't going anywhere, they spread out, stole a bunch of land over a few hundred years, now some parts they are losing again, an ebb and flow, that's how it goes in the real movement of peoples. It's not like Arizona was a 'white' country 500 years ago after all.

One thing I find somewhat fitting is that, realizing that many Mexicans, at least among the lower, poorer classes, the ones, that is, that come up here, are in fact Mestizos, ie, part Indian, or close to full-blooded judging by the faces and types I see around here, the fact is, the Indians are slowly but surely getting their land back, one way or another.... It's only fair, after all, the far northern white skin pigmentation and body type really doesn't do well in the southern climes, unless of course it's protected by an suv and air conditioning. But put that same body in the snow, cold, it does super well, switches on the burners and things are good. Same for the Inuit, I read a quote from an Inuit guy who experienced a 'heat wave' of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, he said: "I hope never to experience heat like that again in my life".

One thing many if not most people are not aware of is just how far north Europe actually is. Barcelona, for example, is I believe roughly at the same latitude as the Oregon Washington border.

It is called survival of the fittest. The fittest is the group that has the most surviving offspring. The unfit Whites will go extinct.

I'm betting mother nature has more than a few population culling tricks up her sleeve. This was recently in the news and I'm not so sure such super bugs discriminate based on racial profile like you seem to be doing.

New antibiotic-resistant super-bacteria reported: NDM-1

You've heard of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph aureus). Maybe you've heard about VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococcus). Now there's a new class of superbugs out there - and they look particularly nasty.

These bad bacteria carry a gene called NDM-1, which makes them resistant to almost all standard antibiotics, according to a recent report in The Lancet:

The NDM-1 carrying bacteria, first discovered in India and Pakistan, have now been spotted in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. in the news...

"Seven Lessons From Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's Energy Use Graph" and the actual graph says it all, doesn't it?

It was particularly cute for Livermore to call wasted energy as "Rejected"; a bit of Orwellian double speak which is so common from the government.

But just as long as we have bread and circuses, everything should be OK, right? Kon-gress and the corporations are keeping us well supplied with Big Macs and Superbowls for the time being.

IMF on Oil Scarcity

I'd appreciate people's observations on Thursday's IMF statement, "Oil Scarcity, Growth and Global Imbalances" (2 pgs):

These "Press Points for Chapter 3" refer to the IMF's World Economic Outlook which is due to be released on Monday, according to this article:

This brief video reiterates the main points:

This Reuters article also provides a summary:

Question: on p. 2 of the Press Points, Helbling states, "A persistent adverse oil supply shock would imply [may cause?] a surge in global capital flows from oil exporters to importers [sic] and a widening of current account imbalances."
Surely he means that capital will flow from importers (who will be paying very high prices) to exporters. What am I missing here? (that oil exporters will have surplus cash to loan to importers?)

I'm not too sure about the definitions and so on, but probably they do mean that the money from the oil exporters will make its way back to the oil importers (e.g. Saudi Arabia buying property in the US). Basically, the word 'capital' is more or less meaningless.

Hi RickM, don´t worry about the snafu in the IMF report on where the capital flows are going. We all know the facts about whose money is going where.

In this IMF report, I found fig. 3.6 to be the most intriguing. It shows that oil used for producing electricity was 25% of the overall electrical production in 1972 in OECD countries. In 1984, it was down to 8%. Now in 2011 it is 2.5%. So in just 11 years, OECD managed to replace about 17% of its electricity production capacity based on oil with something else.

Folks, this shows that it is indeed possible to radically change our electricity generation system in the time frame of 10-20 years. This can happen again. It just takes the right policy and industry engagement motivated by meaningful business cases. It is not rocket science. We have all the technology to do this today, and it does not require nuclear.

In a related story, I have read the press release that GE will build the largest production facility in the US for manufacturing PV panels. They are taking the fight directly to the world champion, First Solar. We will all win on this. Expect that thin-film PV will be popping up just about everywhere in the very near future. It works, it is affordable, and it has no risks to speak of. First Solar guarantees return of "spent" panels and environmentally-friendly recycling and disposal of their panels. This is the final nail in the coffin of nuclear, and likely the knock-out punch for "clean coal" as well. Only natural gas and wind can keep up this in the near term.

IMF Chapter 3:

Thanks to Larry Hughes at Dalhousie who provided this (36 pgs):

I have not read it but will take a crack at it tonight (gotta fix fences before my wife explodes).

No, the report is right.

When the money flows from importers to exporters, it is payment for goods, i.e. current account.

The exporter then sticks it in the bank and looks around for something to do with it. If he buys assets, say US Treasury bonds, then it is a purchase of capital - a loan to allow you to buy the next lot of oil.

So the flow is current account: Importer -> Exporter, capital account: Exporter -> importer.

Good on Lawrence Livermore Labs for doing some analysis of the energy situation.

Now if the National Labs/FFRDCs (Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers)could be funded to conduct more analysis and research on energy for sustaining human life and be funded less for developing compact, on-time-use, long-range energy generation sources to end human life, we would be better off.

I understand the LLNL guy's perspective on cars being an inherently inefficient way to move humans around, but I take an issue with him:

1. If, through price incentives, we were to replace our current car fleet (say 25 mpg city mean) with a fleet with a mean mpg city of 75 mpg, we could use one-third the gasoline we presently consume, assuming population doesn't increase and assuming that the government used taxes to make gasoline very dear indeed, even to people who drive 75 mpg cars. I think $15/gallon would do the trick for a U.S. where the mean car fleet city mpg is 75 mpg.

The LLNL guy didn't offer an idea on reducing gas use for cars. Taxes. At 75 mpg, we would be driving very light, very small cars at 40 mph or less around town. Not quite golf carts, but much different than today...yet very do-able. Such vehicles could be hybrid or EV and also would use smaller amounts of electricity than many 'full-sized' current EV concepts.

For folks who 'push paper' (nowadaze means typing in MS Word, PowerPoint, various databases)...most of these folks should be able to telecommute. They can use tele/video conferencing, instant messaging, email, remote computer access/VPN etc to do their jobs from home. The employee doesn't have to commute, and the employer saves on office space leases and utilities etc.

For those who have jobs bending metal, working wood, and otherwise making thing with their hands....they can move closer to their industries I suppose.

As for restaurant and hotel workers...there may very well be less of a need for your services in the future. Maybe the big chains located on the major road arteries will be supplanted by the classic small-scale neighborhood diner in walkable neighborhoods. Zoning laws will HAVE to change.

In the old days of "Upstairs Downstairs" wealthy housholds had their staff living in the house, no reason why it can't happen again. Particularly hotels as there may be greater demand as people travel less and overnight instead of commutingdaily.

There is no particular reason why workers should have to commute every day. Some workers have jobs that can be done from home at least part of the week. Other workers that have to go to their place of work, can work 4 ten hour shifts and stay overnight locally to their work.

I work 12 hour shifts and stay near work several days at a time, so instead of doing 40 trips a month I do 12 a month. I expect it will be a growing trend along with living closer to work & telecommuting whenever possible.

hmm, if your job can be done from home - it can be done from chinindia - cheaper

thats where those jobs will go....


PS: as most managers are paper pushers the further up the food chain - how come I never see THEIR jobs off shored ??

But the Great Leveling will eventually bring Chindia/US/EU salaries into equilibrium (mostly thru exchange rates, IMO, at which point transport costs will bring many jobs back from "off-shore" but at much reduced salaries (in purchasing power, if not in nominal dollars/Euros).

A weakening dollar will also make the Car Culture rapidly economically unsustainable, with a nice Vicious Circle, where oil-import trade deficits weaken the dollar, thereby increasing trade deficits, ad infinitum...

GDP/capita is a function of resources consumed/capita. A country with a large endowment of resources/capita can therefore maintain a higher rate of consumption/capita and therfore GDP/capita. However, the high rate of consumption/capita exhausts resources faster. Therefore, in the longer run, GDP/capita will tend to equalize.

However, at least in the case of the US, the relatively large amount of agricultural land and forest is likely to afford a comparatively high level of food, shelter, and clothing to the population, even after the comparative advantage in other resources has vanished.

In the old days of "Upstairs Downstairs" wealthy housholds had their staff living in the house, no reason why it can't happen again.

In the really old days, wealthy businessmen would have their businesses on the main floor of a building on a main street, and the owner's family would live on the floor above. The staff would live on the one or two floors above that, and the young apprentices would live in the attic. The basement was used for goods storage.

There's nothing wrong with that model, except that under most modern city zoning regulations, it would be illegal.

Ronald Reagan said, about living in the White House, "Now here I am, living above the store again."

It's still like that in many downtown areas in the US. Including a popular Italian restaurant a couple of blocks from me. No apprentices of course, but there are apartments in the two upper floors. These days, the apartments are often rented out or used by younger members of the family, while the older ones have moved to larger houses.

Which reminds me, I need to look up my town's code to see if they got around to relegalizing that.

"If, through price incentives, we were to replace our current car fleet (say 25 mpg city mean) with a fleet with a mean mpg city of 75 mpg, we could use one-third the gasoline we presently consume..."

We "could", but history has shown us we won't, and that instead we will do as we have always done, consume gas up to the limits of our ability to pay for it.

If efficiency means less demand means lower gas prices, we'll simply drive further and more often to compensate.

The compensating mechanism is fuel taxes...that is the part that we are too dense to enact.

At 75 mpg, we would be driving very light, very small cars at 40 mph or less around town. Not quite golf carts, but much different than today...yet very do-able.

Here in Seattle I often see the meter maids, er, I mean parking enforcement officers driving one of these:


Seems like a no-brainer: Small, efficient, street-legal, reasonably comfortable with the enclosed cab. Why aren't more people relieving their pain at the pump (or their guilt at spewing carbon) with one of these?

The answer, which you alluded to but glossed over, is that they are not built for freeway speeds. Never mind the bloodthirsty and sometimes deadly competition for space on said freeways with road-enraged soccer moms driving SUV's the size of death stars.

What we need is someone heroic enough to tackle our machiavellian bureaucracy and convince state governors to designate a lane of freeway as a Low Emission Vehicle Lane, or LEVL, as in "level the playing field".

Existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes would serve quite well, and their current usage by buses and carpools would not be impacted if emissions are measured per passenger mile, which buses in particular excel at if they are fully occupied (counter-intuitive, I know, if you've ever had a bus belch a giant cloud of diesel exhaust into your face).

The speed limit would, of course, be greatly reduced in the LEVL lanes, but that would not prevent the death stars from enjoying their furious race off the cliff in the remaining full speed lanes.



Nice thinking here. Yes, the challenge would be the weight/speed mismatch between these and large SUVs and trucks.

Perhaps buses are good candidates for NG. We have some NG buses in ABQ, and they are much nicer to be behind than the diesel variety, esp. when one is walking or biking.

Gasoline will have to be WAY more expensive than it is now in order to get people's mind-sets to shift in this direction.

Wait, maybe we could take the catbus....(2:20)


Thanks Heisenberg,

If carbon carried a price (admittedly looking unlikely short term) it might help change hearts and minds. Otherwise it probably would take much higher gas prices (looking more likely all the time).

I guess my thinking was that it would be a relatively easy sell to state politicians, after all, no major outlays for new infrastructure, but the payoff is potentially huge in reduced damage to the economy from high gas prices and reduced damage to the climate through lower emissions.

Then it would simply be up to people to decide if they want to downsize and drive low-and-slow. Putting the "free" back in free market, so to speak.


Reduce the freeway speed limit to 50 MPH.
Put in the dollars worth of parts or the ten lines of code so that the driver can not exceed that speed (or the posted limit, if you like, with transmitters in the signs) for more than a burst. Perhaps a the driver has to turn on an emergency radio beacon to exceed the limit for any length of time.

Save lives and resources.
Reduce local income from tickets.

Better yet, gradually abandon the freeways. We can't afford the maintenance. Some of us here are old enough to remember when most highways, even across country, were two lane. Eventually, car travel across country would become so slow and miserable that people would migrate to the trains that we would hopefully build in the mean time.

If that's a 3-wheeler, then it's a "trike" license, which is even harder to get than a motorcycle license. That would be another thing that has to change, at least in WA state.

The ones with two wheels in front and one in the back should be classed as cars, but they are not. Of course if they are not classed as cars, then you can remove about a half ton of safety equipment further improving mileage. An interesting trade off there as well.

If speeds were restricted to 40 mph or less and the vehicles were light-weight, then F=MA would be much less. Put foam between the space frame and the plastic outer panels, and you would have a lot of impact cushioning.

I'd like to see a bit of traffic segregation before having too much faith about my safety in one of those.

They would ideally have a separate lane on the motorways/ urban ring roads etc so they don't be intimidated by SUVs and the like.
Being the filling in an artic sandwich doesen't appeal!

There have been a number of methods proposed/developed to improve occupant safety in low-mass vehicles. Among them:

  • Extremely rigid vehicle structure. Truly low-mass vehicles usually have very little room for crumple zones of their own. In the case of a collision with a high-mass vehicle, a very rigid low-mass vehicle will be able to make use of the crumple zones of the high-mass vehicle.
  • More effective restraints. "Inflatable" seat belts can make the belts more effective by dissipating force over wider areas of the body, and spreading the dissipation over a greater period of time. Myself, there are days when I think I would really like to have a five-point restraint available as an option.
  • Create more "ride down" space in the interior of the vehicle. A few additional inches can make significant differences in the forces the occupant experiences. One of the suggestions that has been made along this line is to do away with the pedals and steering wheel and replace them with something small and out of the way. Drive-by-wire side sticks, anyone?
  • Keep teenagers and those aged 70+ from driving high-mass vehicles. Those groups are disproportionately involved in collisions, and disproportionately as the striking rather than struck vehicle. Since they're more likely to hit you, no sense giving them a better weapon for doing so.

Riley's "Alternative Cars in the 21st Century", Chapter 7, provides a good introduction.

Your last bullet is rather significant to me.

No doubt that young folks are more dangerous as a population...that is why they have such high insurance rates.

However, I wonder if the insurance rates go up for seniors?

I knew a woman whose hubby was suffering from moderate Alzheimers...he backed into his garage door twice...but she didn't have the heart to take his keys away. He died before he (and his wife by proxie) were responsible for killing anyone.

Senility diseases, macular degeneration and other sight problems, lack of focus and concentration and poor reflexes...I have seen quite a few close calls and two accidents (both where seniors rear-ended stopped cars in a turn lane!) involving aged folks on the road.

Perhaps each of us should have to re-take the written,and oral and demonstration-performance driving tests every four years in order to keep our drivers licenses. More often for those with a history of at-fault incidents.

Of course if new cars were mandated to be below a certain mass and limited to go less than a certain speed, we would be in an engineering/safety/fuel economy virtuous cycle...accident force would be much less, fuel economy would be much greater, and purchase/insurance costs would be lower, and people could still commute to work and get their groceries etc.

But such government intrusions would be fought tooth and nail as socialism/fascism/etc/.

Let freedom ring...as we accelerate over the cliff.

Perhaps each of us should have to re-take the written,and oral and demonstration-performance driving tests every four years in order to keep our drivers licenses.

I don't know about other countries but here in the UK once you pass 70 they rescind your license and you then have to reapply for it (plus every 3 years after that) - they then take into account your medical history when deciding whether to re-issue the license.

But I know that people are calling for pensioners to re-take the actual driving test itself.

If speeds were restricted to 40 mph or less and the vehicles were light-weight, then F=MA would be much less.

Driving gas guzzling pickups and SUVs is not in my opinion a god given right!

Maybe we should just outlaw private ICE vehicles and make something like this,


...the only acceptable form of personal transport. For the poor souls who are physically disabled you can electrify them and charge them with a less then 1K worth of solar panels and charging equipment.

Do more with less!

F=MV^2 ?



E= 0.5 m v^2

F= m a

a= dv/dt

Mea culpa, too long since I did this ;)

Still I think that the energy squaring with the velocity is very important when considering collisions. From the acceleration point of view you are better off in the heavier car that is hitting the lighter car.


No problemmo

To err is human

To blunder momentously it takes an SUV ;-)

"At 75 mpg, we would be driving very light, very small cars at 40 mph or less around town. Not quite golf carts"

75 mpg US is the equivalent of 90 mpg UK, if my maths is correct. We are not yet there, but BMW's 320ED which was released last year, has a combined cycle mileage of 68.9, and an extra urban mileage of 78.5. This in a reasonable size 2 litre family car which is capable of 0-62 in 8 secs, and if you are insane enough, 140 mph. CO2 production is 109g/km. Meets all current safety legislation, fitted with particulate filters which remove the soot from the exhaust. A very long way from a golf cart, and compares very favourably with the much vaunted Prius. Not sure if BMW have released this version over the pond - seems there is resistance both to diesels and to relatively low capacity engines. BMW's UK site gives full details, also explains the design features which help to achieve this.

Not meant to be an advert for BMW, simply an example of what car manufacturers can achieve if they direct thier energies in the right direction. The idea the decent mileage can only be achieved by driving joke vehicles needs to be challenged. Other makers are working on similar concepts. This trend can only be strengthened by the current oil price. Of course still not sustainable in the long term - but if a car is unavoidable, there are sensible options out there.

VW Bluemotion series are pretty good too. Citroen's CV1 diesel gets something like 80mpg IIRC.

Probably the fastest, cheapest and most uniformly effective way of increasing mpg is for the Government to reduce the maximum speed limit. MPG will decrease with the addition of ethanol to petrol, so I'd wouldn't be surprised if the Government went this route and reduced the speed limits within a few years.

A maximum speed limit of 30mph on all off-motorway roads would allow a plethora of fuel efficient vehicles to hit the roads. It's the high speeds on the roads that block the use of highly fuel efficient means of travel. Not that I believe the Government would do this, but when looking at fuel efficiency speed is the problem, not the existing technology.

In Spain the government has already reduced the speed limit in freeways from 120 Km/h to 110 Km/h. And the official reason is to reduce the bill of oil imports. They said it is a temporary measure and that they will increase it again in June, wanna bet on that? Also I have only met one person who is in favor of it (besides myself). Almost everybody thinks this is a useless measure and see it as an attack on their birth right to drive at whatever speed they feel like. Of course they never stop to do the math nor do they know about power growing with the cube of speed. It's funny, even the opposition party said this was a communist measure, don't they know the US did it in the 70's?

Yes, even on The Oil Drum you'll rarely see speed reduction forwarded as the most efficient way to save fuel and improve MPG. People aren't looking for simple solutions, its more likely they see a problem as an opportunity for their pet techno-fix, business idea or advancement of their profession.

It would seem as if simple, rational, low cost solutions aren't as beneficial as creating whole new industries to service the problem. That's why I see no change until we hit the wall flat out, foot to the metal. If speed limits were reduced, possibly a fair chunk of the ethanol industry could be shut down for good.

Yes, even on The Oil Drum you'll rarely see speed reduction forwarded as the most efficient way to save fuel and improve MPG.

That's because of the issue of compliance. The late lamented 55 mph speed limit made little difference in fuel economy, because people ignored it.

IOW, it's not like we haven't tried it. We did, and it didn't work.

There was a report that came out a couple of years ago that suggested that a lower speed limit be used in case of emergency. Because people are likely to comply in the face of an acute, short-term problem. As standard policy, though, it just doesn't deliver.

Texas May Raise Speed Limit to 85 MPH
You can solve the enforcement problem by raising the speed limit to what people are driving.

I think that you should be able to go at whatever speed your vehicle gets 25 mpg or better. Something like 40 mph in a Ford F-350 and 85 in a Ford Fiesta.

You can solve the enforcement problem by raising the speed limit to what people are driving.

For a while, then they become habituated to it, and start pushing it some more. I remember when they relaxed the 55mph to 65 (when I lived in Wisconsin). For a while it was great, I could drive at or below the speed limit, without be hastled by cars zooming by, tailgating and so on. After a few months I had to drive at limit plus three to be in the same place. But soon even limit plus five wasn't enough for the traffic. As long as the industry builds overpowered cars designed to travel way too fast, people will simply ratchet up their speed until the threat of law enforcement becomes substantial.

The technology to limit speeds is available, the will to do it is not. If a vehicles maximum speed is equal to the maximum speed limit, it will work. It's really that simple.

Speed governors in the new vehicles.
Radio transponders in the speed-limit signs.
Ticketing surveillance systems/cameras in profit zones.
The technology has changed.
The level of invasion people will accept has changed.

don't they know the US did it in the 70's?

That would have been by that arch greenie-communist Richrad Nixon, who also started the EPA, and went to China etc. Its a measure of how far right the US has gone, that nixon was thought of as far right, but his actual policies would have him dismissed as a far left wacko if he were to run on them today.

It's funny, even the opposition party said this was a communist measure

Free market capitalists are exempt from the laws of physics, they're pushed along by the 'invisible hand', didn't you know?

There's a guy toodling around our area in something like this Honda Acty:


I want to ask him where he got it, I just haven't been able to catch him yet. It's a Japanese class of vehicles called the Kei truck:

The Kei truck class specifies a maximum size and displacement, greatly increased since legislation first enabled the type in 1949. The 1998 law admits a maximum length of 11 ft (3.4 m), a maximum width of 58 in (1.48 m) and a maximum height of 78 in (2.0 m) with a maximum displacement of 660 cc. They weigh about 1500 lbs (700 kg), and when ungoverned can reach up to 75 mph (120 km/h).

Typical manufacturers and model names include: Subaru Sambar, Suzuki Carry, Honda Acty, Mazda / Autozam Scrum, Mitsubishi Minicab, and Daihatsu Hijet...

....While street legal in Japan, Kei trucks lack proof of conformance with US regulations. Nevertheless they are approved for use on local roads in several rural states, with a variety of limitations on their use. Many are also used as campus maintenance vehicles, rarely leaving campus confines. 2008 legislation in Oklahoma and Louisiana is the most liberal, prohibiting their use on interstate highways only.

One hopes that the US will allow a class of vehicles like this. A small truck of this type would suit my needs, doing most of what my current Ranger does at more than twice the fuel efficiency. Alas, even smaller pickups like the Ranger have gotten larger, less fuel efficient, and are being phased out completely. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

These Kei trucks can be had in the US, and seem to be selling quite well these days. I think I'll sell the Ranger and get one.

Here's more information on State laws regarding use of these (and other alternative) vehicles on public roads.

Hi Ghung,
I drove a Suzuki Carry for 3 years. I bought it here. In Canada, they are street legal if retro-fit with daytime headlights, new turn signal lights, and tires. I drove it on the freeway every day, and it could manage 110kmh. It was great in the snow and on washed-out roads - could squeeze around the hole.

In the end it needed an engine rebuild, and there is no such thing as a 'rebuild kit'. Rings and pistons were available with some effort, but crankshaft seals and small parts for a 15 year old vehicle are not. Keeping these trucks going forever just isn't part of the business model.

I replaced it with a new 2010 ranger the dealer let me have for $12,150. (Once he understood that i really didn't want options he was actually helpful, and helped me get the fuel economy rebate). This is about what the new kei trucks sell for in Japan, and i have the relative comfort of knowing i can find parts for the next 20+ years.

Unfortunately, as you probably know, Ford and the other North American manufacturers have already decided to stop making this class of vehicle, and will concentrate exclusively on monster trucks. In the post-purchase surveys they sent i indicated that if they hold to that decision the ranger will by my one and only Ford!

Something tells me they will keep the St. Paul plant open after this year though, and it won't be because of me ..

The thing about the Kei trucks is that this may be the only type of truck that North Americans can afford to drive in the not-too-distant future. I think North American manufacturers are being very short sited in phasing out the Ranger class of small pickup in favor of producing nothing but humongous over-priced gas-guzzlers.

If they are positioning themselves to be victims of Peak Oil, so be it. The next time they need to be bailed out, I am in favor of letting them go under. In fact, I was in favor of it the first time they went bankrupt. There is no point in subsidizing stupidity.

Bring back something the size of the Chevy LUV.

And the little Datsun pick ups.

For those who don't need to tow their lake yachts or massive 5th-wheel campers.

Bring back something the size of the Chevy LUV.

You mean like this;

The Mahindra PikUp. A 4 cyl, 2.5L turbo diesel, 2 or 4wd, single or dual cab, box/cab-chassis and even tipping tray available. Available in Australia since 2007 for $23.5k (compare a Toyota diesel at over $40k). Not surprisingly, it is very popular, especially with the young crowd - just the sort that used to buy the Luv's.
Cargo capacity 2200lbs, 5500 lbs towing capacity, official city/hwy 25mpg, but users report up to 35mpg on hwy.
Neighbour of my family farm in Australia has had one for two years and is very happy with it.


Mahindra started out building Jeep Willys after WW2 (till 1964) and have been making farm tractors for decades.

If this was brought into Canada/US I think it would sell like hot cakes.

Wow, very nice.

Why can't we get the clue in the U.S.?

People who really need trucks (for their work) drive these and the smaller Japanese mini-trucks others have listed, and the rest of us who commute and buy groceries only drive low-mass, < 40 mph cars which get >60 mpg.

For the last couple of years this vehicle has been promised for sale in the U.S. According to the latest report its fuel economy on the EPA test cycle is much worse than expected and so the importer doubts it will sell.

Previous reports, however, have revealed arguments between Mahindra and the importer, particularly with regard to Mahindra's failure to do a good job of getting the emissions certified for the U.S.

I suspect it is yet another foreign efficient diesel which is banned from the U.S. because once it has been jerry-rigged to meet the absurdly strict Californian particulate emissions standards its economy has been crippled to extent that the diesel's innate efficiency is lost. I'm sure the environmentalists who ramrodded these standards into the books are proud of the fact that they have effectively increased oil consumption in the U.S. by up to 20%. A comparison between the gasoline and diesel versions of the Ford F250 suggests that the diesel uses about half as much fuel as the gasoline powered truck. If gasoline engines account for 40% of U.S. oil usage, replacing them with diesel engines could halve that 40%.

The super stringent diesel emissions regs for the US have done such a good job of keeping out almost all imported diesel vehicles, that you could be forgiven for thinking that's what they were intended to do...

Caterpillar pulled out of the hwy tractor-truck engine market as the cost of emissions controls exceeded $20k per engine, and actually decreased fuel efficiency.

Even though you are correct that replacing all the gasoline cars would halve the 40%, you don;t even need to go that far. If the diesel models were available for the wide range of cars and trucks that were available elsewhere -would buy them? Most likely, the people that drive the most miles, as they will have the best payback. The US average is 12,000 miles per year, but there are many that do much more than that. If you replaced the top 1/3 miles/yr vehicles with diesel, you would account for more than half the gasoline consumption.. The little old lady's that drive on sundays and do <5-8,000miles/yr are probably better off with their gasoline engines. but for any travelling salesman, service guy, delivery van driver, etc a diesel is a great option that they simply do not have. These diesel emission rules are actually making American business, farms etc less competitive, as these fuel efficient options are not available.

The F-250 article you linked to pointed out a $6k difference in price for diesel v gasoline, and estimated a 4yr payback at 12,000 miles per year. Double that to 24,000, and you have a two year payback. A taxi can do 50,000 miles/year, so the payback would be one year! And, the vehicle has a higher resale value, so the effective payback is even better.

A heavy price is being paid to support the mfrs who refuse to bring in, or make locally, these efficient vehicles. One has to wonder how the picture would be different if the gov bailout had been along the lines of a $3k subsidy for every 10mpg over 20 that their vehicles get, and only for those vehicles, not the fleet average.

I'll bet those diesel Fiesta's, Hilux's and Colorado's would have been on the road in a flash .

I agree. The best vehicle I've ever owned was a 1984 Toyota diesel pickup. It had a 7' bed, 4WD, weighed in at around 3600 lbs and got a reliable 34 mpg. It was a construction truck and I beat the s**t out of it for 16 years. Sold it to a guy who was taking it to Cuba. It had 200+ K on it and a rusted out frame.

Thanks, half full. I figure if I could get a few years out of one, it would be a good platform for electric conversion, down the road so to speak. As others have noted, a small diesel would fit the bill. I drove a VW diesel truck and a Mitsubishi diesel for a while (sold as Dodge Raider, early '80s). It was a tough little truck; sold it with 320k miles on it and the buyer drove it for several more years. He died before the truck did. I tried to buy it back but his daughter wanted 3 times its worth. She let it rot in the back yard. Wish I had it now, as they're rare.

Thanks for posting that, has answered a few things for me. That is the sort of vehicle that I could well use for my next one.


"Not only is there not a shortage of supply in the oil market but there is 1 million barrels (per day) of excess supply,"

So far that is the chuckle of the day. Even taking the claim at face value, there was supposed to be 3.5 million BPD excess capacity at $70/barrel. Now at $110/barrel there is only 1 million BPD? So if the price of oil goes up to $126 per barrel, there will be 0.0 excess capacity?

Doesn't this line slope the wrong way? Or do I need to turn the monitor over ;-)

This does make sense if you have a hard production limit which is something Econ 101 never considers.

Sure, at $120+ per barrel, there is a "surplus" of oil. Some people can't afford that price.

They're thinking like a monopolist, and OPEC is after all, attempting to be a monopoly. A free marketer would cut the price of that last 1 million barrels, (BIG SALE! 20% OFF! BUY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!) and it would be gone in short order.

OTOH, if they raised the price to $200 per barrel, they'd have a much bigger "surplus" than they do now.

Oil Traders See Lasting Mideast Instability

They think $150 a barrel isn't inconceivable, and they see a high-risk premium keeping prices up
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah recently promised $150 billion in new housing, wage increases, and other benefits. These deals mean the kingdom needs oil at $85 to $90 per barrel to balance its budget—a huge increase from around $25 per barrel in 2003, figures Rachel Ziemba, an analyst at Roubini Global Economics in London. "The social contract is becoming less and less sustainable," she says, adding that as the fiscal pressure builds, Saudi Arabia may no longer be so willing to play the role of swing producer, pumping new crude when it's needed to cool the market.

So the cost of oil from Saudi Arabia is not dependent on the cost of exploration and production of crude oil. The cost of oil is determined by the money needed to operate a desert kingdom of 25 million, free from too much unrest.

Plus it must conserve its resources in order to extend the day of reckoning when the oil runs out.

In regards to Saudi Has Enough Spare Capacity To Meet Global Demand -Oil Min, you might be surprised that I agree with some parts of this article (but definitely not the usual talk about the chimera of spare capacity).

Actually I do think KSA has increased output this year about 500,000 to 600,000 bpd – about 300,000 bpd in January and 200 to 300,000 bpd in late March. However they only increased exports 200 to 300,000 bpd, and that only started about March 15.

I mentioned when Brent was about $100 that they would not offer to supply more oil until it reached $120, that is pretty much what happened.

Where the article is wrong is that it is impossible for KSA to make up a loss of crude from Libya, as far as high quality oil goes. Further I don’t think they could even fully make up for the loss with their lowest quality oil – that is they just didn’t have 1,000,000 bpd of usable spare capacity at the start of 2011. So while it is partly a matter of price, it’s also mostly a matter of supply.

These repeated false pronouncements from OPEC members will not stop the oil price superspike from developing. The only way to drive prices down now is with a general worldwide economic slowdown.

Rocky – Maybe it’s a word game. Or maybe it’s just depends upon the point of view. Consumers hear “excess capacity” as that volume that, if produced, would push prices down. OPEC hears excess capacity as that volume that generates more income than they can justify at this time. Justified not only based on their cash flow requirements but also preserving their finite assets…whatever that exact amount really may be. We consumers keep framing the discussion based on our needs. But the folks controlling the oil flow must look at it from their position. As I pointed out before, Ford Motor doesn’t set its production output based upon what’s best for the car buyers. They make that call based upon benefit. Ford can produce more cars anytime they chose…they have “excess capacity”. But doing so would diminish their rate of return. If we shouldn’t expect Ford to make such a bad decision why should we expect the KSA to do so?

They should just make the barrel smaller, like they are with all the consumer items in the States: A Big Mac is now the diameter of what used to be their smallest sandwich, the tin foil is now uselessly thin, a loaf of bread is half the length it used to be and costs five dollars!

K – From a somewhat perverse view they have reduced the size of a barrel. Consider the reduced yields from the heavier/more sour crudes and the increased cost of refining. So if you were to back calculate what “volume” of oil we are utilizing it might indicate a current 42 gallon barrel may be comparable to a 38 gallon barrel of 10 years ago.

The American Dream as We Know it Is Obsolete


Ultimately, the concept of the middle class is inherently anti-political. It is defined by consumption: a mortgage, multiple cars, stylish clothes, furniture and electronics, and affordable luxuries. We can’t have a yacht, but we can go on an annual cruise. We can’t buy a villa in Tuscany, but we can holiday in one. We can’t afford a private chef, but we can visit Le Bernadin on a special occasion. Many luxury goods makers – from Prada and LVMH to Mercedes Benz and Tiffany – have even aggressively expanded their businesses by creating lines of downscale luxuries for the middle class.

When we struggle for better wages and benefits and more social welfare, what is the goal?

The American Dream as We Know it Is Obsolete

The American dream was defined by the Herbert Hoover campaign of 1928: "A chicken in every pot and a car in every back yard." (They never said anything about having a garage.)

Unfortunately the Great Depression started the next year, and most people had to wait until WW2 was over to achieve the American Dream.

The other stuff (large houses, multiple cars, stylish clothes, furniture and electronics, and affordable luxuries) are the dreams of middle-class people aspiring to be upper class. In other words, living beyond their means.

Shut up, eat your chicken, and sell the second car before it's too late.

Chickens in every car, and pot in every backyard.

There was a gas war going on in Willits Thurs. The remodeled Arco (open a few months, I think) was at $3.73 for regular, and Safeway, across the street, matched them, plus a 3 cent Club Card discount. Chevron, was $4.05 on the 3rd corner, and $4.09 in Laytonville. We were at $4.11 yesterday.

YOu describe the upper middle class. You don't describe say the future public employee pensioners in Wisconsin who are said to be bankrupting the state. Even two school teachers married to each other don't rent a villa in Tuscany. Now a doctor married to a lawyer might - if they don't get divorced. The middle class is shrinking in the US. I feel like I'm in the middle class when I don't have to think about replacing the tires when they wear out. When I own a home. When I have time to spend at community functions. Enough time that I could attend my son's soccer games -my daughter's swim meets. A married couple who both work at Wal-mart are not middle class. Many Many divorced people with children are no longer middle class.
..... When we struggle for better wages and benefits and more social welfare, what is the goal? ...
We are all better off when everybody is taken care of. Nobody's children are safe unless everybody's children are safe.

The Megabus Effect

Megabus and Coach USA are owned by the British company Stagecoach Group, and they have fundamentally changed the way Americans—especially the young—travel, so much so that they may help kill plans for new railroads. In 2010, Megabus launched its third and fourth hubs, in Philadelphia and Washington. It currently does $100 million in business annually, operating 135 buses each day to 50 U.S. cities. While other companies downsized over the past two years, Megabus hired 270 additional workers and invested $36 million in the business. Each month this year it will add five to six new double-deckers to its fleet.
In Britain, the publicly traded Stagecoach Group is a transportation monolith, moving 2.5 million people each day on its buses and a full quarter of all U.K. rail passengers on its commuter lines and trams. The company first tried the Megabus idea there in 2003, and the service now links 50 cities in England, Scotland, and Wales—and hooks up with Megatrain—with fares starting at, yes, £1. The company's American division, Coach USA, operates charter, sightseeing, and even school buses throughout the U.S. and Canada.
For bus travel as a whole, the number of daily departures increased by 6 percent in 2010, twice the growth experienced by air travel and 12 times that of Amtrak. The number of curbside passengers rose by at least 33 percent, with Megabus ridership expanding 48 percent. (Amtrak ridership grew by just 6 percent, and the airlines by 5 percent.) The company says growth, including the 20 routes it added last year, is an astounding 65 percent. Curbside buses now account for more than a fifth of all daily bus departures in the country. The American Bus Assn. maintains that traditional intercity bus service on Greyhound, Trailways, and others has even experienced a positive spillover—the group calls it "the Megabus effect."

I use Megabus (in the UK) occasionally, but I'd still prefer rail over coach any time. I just wish they were able to apply the same principles to rail travel (more so than they currently do - the coaches are still many times cheaper than the cheap megabus train tickets which are almost impossible to find at times.)

The other problem is the coach journeys take a lot longer and you often find you have to leave at stupid o'clock in the morning just to catch the darn thing.

My wife and I are flying home to see our family in the near future, and she did some research and found that Megabus can take us from Pittsburgh to State College PA for cheap.

We can take Megabus and not ask our family to come out 4 hours round-trip to pick us up and then do it again on the rebound...and we also avoid renting a car and making the 2-hour drive over US 22, which is a real drag.

Leaves four times a day from Pittsburgh to State College (and I assume points further East in PA).

We shall see...if fuel prices keep rising the buses will make a strong comeback.

A good article, but over the long-term I think the conclusion that flexible bus service will kill rail travel is wrong. As people get used to using inter-city surface mass transit, instead of cars and/or planes, rail will be the natural evolution. Consumers that are used to using their laptops en-route and center-city departure/arrival will understand the advantages of rail much more readily than a generation that grew up in a car-dependent bubble so all-encompassing that the very idea of using legs for transport is quite foreign.
Flexible bus service is also a great feeder system for high-speed rail trunk lines, so there is at least as much synergy as competition.

Megabus is fine when everything works as planned...

We had a crash locally of a Megabus Philadelphia-Toronto coach which killed 4 people and injured many more. It was 2 AM, the driver took the wrong exit, was fiddling with his personal GPS trying to find the bus stop, ignored repeated warning signs and lights for a 10' bridge clearance ahead which his 14' coach would not clear.

Driver of Megabus that struck railroad bridge in Salina was lost trying to find Syracuse bus station

See: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/09/driver_of_megabus_that_st...

They are too cheap and cut too many corners to provide safe, quality service, just like budget airlines. You get what you pay for.

You sound a little bias, care to consider the number of deaths/accidents caused by private cars? No? Didn't think so.

All transport is dangerous, life is dangerous.

Link up top: The Scientific Curmudgeon - Green alarmists

For decades they tried and failed to find evidence of a straightforward linkage between scarcity of resources and violent conflict in hundreds of simple and complex societies.

Really now? Why did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor?

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because the U.S. enacted an embargo on all oil supplies to Japan. The reason for the embargo is because Japan was invading China. The U.S. embargo cutoff 90% of Japans resources, which crippled their economy and most importantly military.

Ron P.

The U.S. has been committed to defending its (and its allies) access to Middle East oil since WWII.

The Overriding reason we have so much of our military geared towards conflict in the ME is to assure our access to oil.

Afghanistan is a side-show...a securing of a flank.

The real action is Iraq, Iran and the Gulf states, with the crown jewel being KSA.

KSA's flag might as well have a little 'Old Glory' inset in its upper-left-hand corner.

Careful with that kind of talk. It might lead some to think costs of oil wars should be included in the real price of oil.

It would make ethanol look cheap. Can't have that.

It is an article of faith among ethanol critics that oil is cheaper and wars for oil should not be included in its real cost or in calculating oil EROEI.

Pollution from oil spills, cost of clean up and lost economic value are not to be included either.

Also lives lost in battle or ruined by war injuries have no value in calculating oil's real cost.

Nor should interest on the debt run up to fight wars for oil and support the war injured be counted in the real price of oil.

And dollars sent to oil exporting countries do not drain the economy partially explaining the income stagnation most Americans have experienced the last 30 years.

Finally the cost of fighting terrorists who mostly attack us because of our wars for oil in Islamic countries should not be added to the cost of oil. Likewise our loss of liberties and having to endure routine invasive searches at Federal Buildings and airports should not be included in the real cost of oil.

Such is the delusional power of oil addiction.

x marks the spot-on with this comment!

Amen, x.

x, you are making a much better and a stronger argument now. You spent a lot of time arguing EROEI doesn't matter; that was a weak argument.

Yes, x, as posters H,D & s above me have said, kudos for this post. I am an 'ethanol critic' who agrees with all you say here about the real cost of oil. But since the EROEI of ethanol is near unity, it will never be cheaper, in real terms. At least not until we're down to the last drops of oil that don't make sense to extract, because they, too, have an EROEI of unity at best.

Ethanol has a double cost which should be taken into account, the cost of the ethanol itself and the extra cost of grain caused by the decrease in supply of grain needed to produce the ethanol. In addition, there are environmental costs caused by an extra land that is put into production because of the increased demand for corn. Oil has also all sorts of external costs that are not taken into account as well, of course.

Unfortunately, both ethanol and oil are subsidized which is especially egregious considering all the sturm and drang associated with the budget negotiations engendered by those Republicans who pretend to care about the deficit. They care, of course, until it comes to supporting their pet industry or those who support them with bribes (campaign contributions).

Cap and trade is one approach to start internalizing some of the costs of carbon but then, of course, that is not going to happen in the U.S.A. where the current people in power will do nothing that in any way causes one extra penny of cost to the energy companies. And, besides, of course, global warming is a sham, and if not a sham, nothing to worry about compared to the well being of one's favorite corporation.

On the other hand, the Republicans have bills in the hopper to eliminate subsidies/tax breaks to renewable energy. It is not likely that they will be consistent in their zeal to cut expenditures.

I for one, would be happy to get rid of all farm subsidies AND all oil subsidies.

I am also currently reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma", which discusses the oversupply of corn. 30% of the nation's corn crop is used to make ethanol. What everyone keeps forgetting is that all the protein in the corn (along with additional protein manufactured by yeast) in that corn still ends up as animal feed. The same as it did before.

If you actually had a bowl of Yellow #2 dent corn this morning, I might buy your claim about decreased supply. As it is, since about 2007, ethanol has supported the corn markets so that federal farm subsidies effectively dropped to zero. This was not what ADM had in mind when they started the ethanol business, and others ran with it.

In other words, the real cost of oil, including all these "externalities", is SO high as to make its EROEI <1, or even negative.

Thus, ethanol, with an EROEI close to one, becomes a good solution.

I still can't get past the food vs fuel problem. If only we could make it cheaply from lawn clippings....

It would make more sense to eliminate lawns, at least the one's that use fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and water. If you must have clippings, leave them on the lawn for nutrient's sake.

Amen to that, tstreet. Of course the real problems underlying all of these is population and depletion of land and water. Plus, of course, the changing climate that will make future predictions as to where to farm, and what to plant, a bit nebulous.


what about making it from kudzu or some other supremely annoying invasive species that we can't, short of application of a nasty cocktail of chemicals, seem to find a way to kill...

maybe we can run our cars on ground up snakehead fish... bet that exhaust would smell tasty...

Render humans...
"Soylanol Green"

With the amount of fat in the average American/brit now, i'm surprised the funeral homes aren't paying the families from the money made off the electric companies after cremation.

Well the Brits are planning to heat a swimming pool with the waste heat from one.



You have hit on the dream of the cellulosic ethanol crowd, to make it from such things. Kudzu, switchgrass, Miscanthus, willow, even water hyacinth! There are just two problems;
1) all efforts at an economical process to convert cellulose to ethanol have not yet succeeded, or have failed - depending on your point of view.
2) all these plants are, as with kudzu, potentially invasive, and very persistent, species.

Kudzu, is , believe it or not, actually beneficial to the soil - it is a nitrogen fixer. The problem is that it is decidedly not beneficial to any other plants, so it is hard to grow anything else to realise that benefit! If you did kudzu just as an energy crop, you could always find an island and just let it take over the whole place, and then harvest it. Hawaii would work - though I am not sure the Hawaiians would agree.

supremely annoying invasive species .. seem to find a way to kill...

I'd suggest eating it. Same goes for Garlic Mustard.

And if you can't eat it? Green Manure for the crops.

Also don't worry about the cost of removing the excess CO2 from the atmosphere that could set off dangerous positive feedback loops endangering life as we know it on this planet.

And finally ignore the cost of replacing the oil. This one is contentious, but ask someone who sells christmas trees if he has to factor in the costs of replacing those trees in his sale price? Or if a farmer should worry about replacing those chickens that are being sold and eaten?

The replacement cost should be counted for the full economic cost.

I can see multiple reasons for being in Afghanistan, besides the idea of crushing the "terrorists". If the US were to attack Iran, Afghanistan would provide a second front, with Iraq being the other end. Then too, there's been proposals to build pipelines for both oil from Azerbaijan and Nat Gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea outside the Persian Gulf. These pipelines would cross Pakistan as well...

E. Swanson

Iraq and Afghanistan might be useful as places from which to attack Iran by air. However, the use of the word "front" seems to imply ground forces.

In neither case, but especially Afghanistan, would it be possible to supply any sizeable ground force during a campaign against Iran. The troops in Afghanistan are there only at the discretion of Russia and Pakistan.

Black Dog, I think you have a point.

Merrill, you r point has some validity, but I am not looking at a WWII-style 'front' with a sweeping line and columns of panzers and infantry.

In this case I would use BD's term 'front' to mean 'staging area and sanctuary' for my forces. We occupy the land, we own the airspace, and the monitoring of that airspace. We get to place FARPs (Forward-Area Refueling Points) for assault transport and attack helos. We get to emplace Patriot missiles, air-defense radars, jammers, electronic listening posts, etc where we wish. We get to place gravel/dirst C-130 strips at places of our choice, as well as use existing roads to suit. We have our choices of egress and ingress for CIA operatives, special forces, etc. We get to use the real airfields we occupied for fast-movers, large transport jets, Global Hawks, Predators, even bombers if need be.

Iran is indeed surrounded.

All that being said, I am no cheerleader for our ME ops. I am a 'bring the troops home and mind our own trough' kind of guy.

Heavy supplies for Afghanistan, like fuel, go in by truck and rail via Pakistan and Russia. So you can fight as long as the stockpiles in Afghanistan last. After that, you abandon all your heavy gear in place and airlift the troops out.

And those convoys are very vulnerable. Frequent Taliban attcks, where all the trucks are burned. They used to say, amateurs talk strategy, pro's talk logistics. The logistics of modern mechanized warfare are quite onerous.

Any estimates on how long American military forces will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Keep in mind that our forces are still in various countries in Europe, Japan, and South Korea.

We can stay in Iraq indefinitely, so long as the ports in Kuwait and Basra are available for logistics.

As for Afghanistan, we can also stay there indefinitely, since the Taliban can bleed us at a level that is tolerable.

On the road of fear to Kabul is a good report by France24 on the logistical nightmare of moving goods through Pakistan. Fuel, vehicles, and general supplies amounting to 80% of the amount are moved that way. I guess ammunition and weapons are flown in, although the story also references the Russian route. However, the Russian route involves "high taxes".

The US has broken the second rule of war. That is, don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland of Asia. Rule One is don't march on Moscow. I developed these two rules myself.

In the House of Lords on American policy in Vietnam, 1962.


A bit of a pedant but the US-UK-Dutch joint oil embargo was due to the Japanese invasion of French Indochina. Japan invaded China in 1931 and there wasn't anything new going on there.

I'll express an opinion that the allies will have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. If they acquienced to Japan acquiring Vietnam, Imperial Japan will just move on to invading the next country.

Aside from Japan, the Nazi regime was also preoccupied with seizing access/control of raw materials. This vividly comes across in the book "The Vampire Economy" written immediately prior to the war by a German economist ( mises.org/books/vampireeconomy.pdf ). In brief, the thesis of the book is that the war economy imposed by the Nazi's was fundamentally dependent on plunder. One might note that the subsequent invasion of the Soviet Union was intended to provide lebensraum (living space), and critical raw materials, particularly grain and oil; the Caucasus was a major focus of offensive efforts in 1942. Afterwards, when Germany was forced back on the defensive, the military strategy emphasized the defense of strategic economic areas, such as Nikopol and the remaining sources of oil.


I am glad to see the President not knuckling under to the demands that Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations be de-funded.


So, the big budget fights loom.

I guess we will have another showdown when we reach the debt ceiling, and then a real back and forth when the time comes to craft the 2012 budget. Being an election year, it will be a doozy.

I wonder if there will be anyone...any politician, media personality, etc. who make the case that energy supplies (particularly imported oil)and our budget and our expectations and lifestyle are all linked.

The real shocker would be if anyone (besides Ron Paul) makes the case for reduced military expenditures.

Another super-shocker would be a move to impose steadily increasing fuel taxes.

The British made serious budget cuts in both non-defense and defense spending, and they have had higher fuel taxes for a long time, and so far we haven't seen the British Isles sink beneath the waves.

"I wonder if there will be anyone...any politician,"

Roscoe Bartlett?

Thank you for the link...I read the entire article, and the articles linked from that as well.

Unfortunately, the link to the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus depicted only nine members.


I have seen precious little 'air time' since 2005 from either Congressman Bartlett or the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus.

I would like his (and their) voices to be heard. Apparently, neither Fox News, MSNBC, nor CNN seems interested in giving him/them air time. Same with NYT, WSJ, etc.

Unfortunately Congressman Bartlett will not likely found a 'Population Overshoot Caucus', with his having 10 children and all. He is 85...what is done in that respect is done (he does have 17 grand-children, which if divided out evenly, equates to less than 2 children per each of his 10 offspring, so bravo to his children for adapting to overshoot). It would be nice to hear him fight his party in their attack on Planned Parenthood etc, but that doesn't seem likely from someone who has championed DOMA.

But, back to PO...the article states that Roscoe would love to find a Billionaire sugar daddy to help fund the message of PO. Closest I can think of is T Boone Pickens...

Closest I can think of is T Boone Pickens...

Richard Branson?


Top right of the Seven Lessons From Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's Energy Use Graph - Rejected Energy - sounds like a relationship gone bad, where one party is rebuffed and sulks away unhappily.

Rejected in this case is an engineering term. Heat released to the environment after the useful work was extracted. See Carnot cycle.


Oil closes above $112 amid fears about shipments
Weaker dollar makes commodities cheaper for investors with other currencies

Pump prices have jumped from $3.07 to $3.74 per gallon since the beginning of the year. The swift rise forced the Oil Price Information Service to boost its retail gasoline price forecast to a range of $3.75 to $4 per gallon this year. OPIS chief oil analyst Tom Kloza said it may not be long before the national average tests the all-time record of $4.11 per gallon set in July 2008.

Let's see - current fuel price 3.74 - record 4.11 - almost 3 months till 4th of July - I wonder what the new record will be? I'm guessing somewhere between 4.24 & 4.42

In search of sustainability for humankind...

Would professionals with appropriate expertise please examine the extant science regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation of Earth? How can this knowledge be used to move the human community from the dangerous and patently unsustainable 'trajectory' it is on now to sustainable lifestyles and right-sized corporate enterprises?


—–Original Message—–
Sir John Sulston, Chair
People and the Planet Working Group
UK Royal Society
March 31, 2011

Dear Sir John Sulston:

Your recent comments regarding the review of research on the human population and its impact on the planet we inhabit by a high level panel of experts give rise to hope for the future of children everywhere. Thanks for all you, the Planet and the People Working Group and the UK Royal Society are doing to protect biodiversity from massive extirpation, the environment from irreversible degradation and the Earth from wanton dissipation of its finite resources by the human species. I am especially appreciative for two quotes from you,

…… “we’ve got to make sure that population is recognized… as a multiplier of many others. We’ve got to make sure that population really does peak out when we hope it will.”

…….”what we want to do is to see the issue of population in the open, dispassionately discussed…. and then we’ll see where it goes.”

Inasmuch as you and an esteemed group of professionals with appropriate expertise are examining scientific evidence regarding the unbridled increase of absolute global human population numbers, please note there is research that has been summarily dismissed by many too many of our colleagues regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation which I would like to bring to your attention. For the past ten years I have been unsuccessfully attempting to draw attention to certain evidence that to date remains both unchallenged and ignored by virtually every top-rank professional. They appear unable to refute the evidence and simultaneously unwilling to believe it. Their unexpected conspiracy of silence has served to conceal certain research by David Pimentel and Russell Hopfenberg. How else can it be that so many established professionals with adequate expertise act as if they are willfully blind, hysterically deaf and electively mute in the face of scientific evidence of human population dynamics and human overpopulation? The conscious denial of what could somehow be real about the growth of the human population in our time is not doing anything that can be construed as somehow right and good for future human wellbeing and environmental health, I suppose. It appears as if we could be witnesses to the most colossal failure of intellectual honesty, moral courage and nerve in human history.

Peer-reviewed professional publications, letters to the editor, slideshow presentations et cetera can be found at the following link, http://www.panearth.org/

Thank you for attending to this request for careful, skillful and rigorous scrutiny of research from two outstanding scientists. Please know I am holding onto a ray of hope that the research of Hopfenberg and Pimentel is fundamentally flawed; that human population dynamics is different from, not essentially similar to, the population dynamics of other species; and that human population numbers are not primarily a function of an available supply of food necessary for human existence. That would be the best news.

Sometime soon, I trust, many scientists will speak up with regard to apparently unforeseen and unfortunately unwelcome science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation the way people in huge numbers in the Mid-East are calling out for democracy now.

Respectfully yours,

Steve Salmony

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
Established 2001

Steve, thank you for sharing this with us.

Darwinian, this serves as my reply to your reply above wrt tribalism.

If humanity cannot use its thinking powers to transform its actions beyond the instinctual traits (outbreed the 'other') we talked about above, we will be beset with unnecessarily bad times ahead.

I understand that this is and has been your premise, and you are likely sage in your prediction.

Heisenberg, yours and Stevenearlsalmony's cause is just and noble... and destined to fail. Now if you had an iron fisted one party government like they have had in China for over half a century then it might be possible. But nothing less than that. Convincing people to control their own population is a joke. No one who knows the slightest thing about human nature would ever propose such a thing.

That being said this can only be an academic discussion. Even if you were able to convince the world to have fewer babies ,(fat chance), it would hardly make a difference at all. Take China for instance, even with their stern one child policy their population is still increasing. It is a thing called "population momentum". It will be at least a couple of decades before their population peaks.

So if we hired the best persuaders in the world and had them teach an army of other persuaders to go forth unto the world and teach the people why they should have fewer children then.... Now doesn't this story sound ridiculous. But I digress. Now you would expect these powerful persuaders to managed to convince some of the people to have fewer children, then you might expect the world's population to start to decline in about 30 years or so, somewhere around 8.5 billion people.

However the long term carrying capacity of the earth, even if we never ran out of fossil fuel, is somewhat less than half the current population. We are already deep into overshoot and have been for about half a century. The earth looks totally different than it did fifty years ago. Far fewer species are left, far less trees are left standing, far fewer rivers reach the sea, and water tables in many countries are many meters below where they were then.

It is already too late, way, way too late. What astonishes me is how few people realize that very obvious fact.

Ron P.

With limitless energy, say from fusion
we could cover the earth with a monoculture of humans
say 100 stories high.
There we could house the monoculture of plants
To feed ourselves and the monoculture of animals
that we eat. And it would be fabulously fragile.
One good tug and the underpinnings would fail.
Only some small, insignificant creatures
living out of sight in the margins would survive.



Of course you are likely correct in your outlook.

But, the fertility rate has been decline, and I think much of that decline is due to overt choices.

At this point he biggest population control victory I can imagine (not invoking vast war and famine etc) would be for population to crest at @ 8.5B...that is one darn sight better than having it crest at ~ 11.5-12B. Yes, 8.5B is WAY too high...but not as high as 11.5B.

That delta, in my humble opinion, is worth fighting for.

I know what population momentum is, and IMO that adds all the greater impetus to slowing the rate of childbirth all the quicker to more more than 2.0 per woman per lifetime. Think of what it would be like if people had grasped this idea and implemented it back in 1970.

And if there is to be a crash/bottleneck event before this crest, then I still think it is worthwhile to attempt to slow the birth rate.

But, you are right, I am tilting at windmills. My time and breath to waste.

I think it's fairly obvious that where women are educated and have access to modern birth control techniques, the birth rate will fall below the replacement rate. From a biological standpoint, children are very expensive for women, and given the choice they will concentrate on quality rather than quantity.

The fertility rate of women in Italy is 1.4 children per woman. The position of the Catholic Church is that "it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence." so it is fairly obvious that Italian women are ignoring the teachings of the Catholic Church and are using the best contraceptive technology available to them - as they should.

The Muslim faith is an even bigger problem from a population growth standpoint than the Catholic faith. Since they believe in keeping women in ignorance, I think we will have to rely on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (War, Famine, Disease, and Death) to reduce their population to a reasonable level - a process which is already beginning, as we see in North Africa.

There are places that have instituted policies that have brought down birth rates significantly--Bangladesh, for instance. As badly off as they are, they would be worse off without these policies.

Two central ones are education of women and putting off marriage till at least late twenties.

The former has been shown to have a dramatic effect on lowering birth rates.

The latter is an under-appreciated tactic. In countries with conservative traditions about sex outside of marriage, delaying marriage means delaying the birth of ones first child.

If the first child comes at 15, by the time the mother is 30 she could be a grandmother--three generations, each one potentially very large.

If the first child comes at 30, the mother isn't a grandmother till 60--that's thirty years longer than the first scenario before the third generation shows up. And the number of children she has after that will be limited by biology, and likely by a more mature and thoughtful approach to having kids.

A global policy that effectively delayed the first child till a woman was 30+ is the only humane approach that could immediately drop the birth rate below replacement level.

Trends are heading this direction, but too slowly of course. And yes, dramatic humane change seems a pie dream--but ya gotta dream. Birth rate dropped from about 20/1000 to about 19 last year, and if that rate keeps up, and if death rate stabilizes at about 8-9/1000, as it seems to be doing, we could hit a peak in the next ten years, probably around 7.5 b, then see a drop.

I think this is likely to happen because of food shortages, but I wish it would happen for other, more planned and humane reasons.

And I agree with arraya's main point--consumption is the main dragon to slay, especially for those of us in that top 30 percent (that would almost surely include everyone posting here). And we can each start with ourselves while figuring ways to implement more systemic changes.

One guide to lowering consumption in a way that yields the biggest benefits to the future:


My challenge to my fellow posters is to get yours below two earths (perhaps some are already there?).

Yikes ! I am at 2.41 - that was an eye opener !

1.31 but that questionnaire is badly designed. There were many things just not relevant here and no way to put it eg turning down my thermostat for heating, in the tropics for goodness sake and I didn't see a/c. Didn't even see an option for bicycling. Many answers I couldn't even give proper answers to.


I agree - pretty generic, and not all the responses fit appropriately. But one can change the selections to see the relative impact of things such as eating meat. Or driving to work. Or living in different countries.

A dramatic depiction of the issue:

The richest 10% account for 60% of all private consumption

The richest 20% account for 77% of all private consumption

The richest 30% account for 85% of all private consumption. And the remaining 70% -- ALL the people on the planet who are either poor or of modest means -- consume only 15%. And we're telling them that the problem is that they are having too many kids, which is causing resource and environmental problems?!

I believe that this re-defines the word "GALL".

It would appear that we almost have two different species being that some of the well off first worlders have consumption ratios 50-60x times some of the poorest third worlders. Which one is over populated?

Keeping all consumption ratios the same you could remove over 60% of the population with only a negligible effect on over consumption of resource usage and subsequent environmental degradation. So, it would seem to me that scientists should focus on the structural necessity(grow or collapse) and resource flows(a good portion of resource wind up in landfills in just a few months) of our social systems as well as the cultural encouragement of behavior for maintenance and propagation of said systems, as well as the unscientific nature of the mythology behind this irrational, unnecessary and massively wasteful use of resources before pointing our fingers at those who impact the earths physical limitations the least. Interestingly, this is the model of social operation being pushed around the globe.

Is the biggest threat to global social well being profit motive or sex?


I believe that excessive consumption among those top 30% and the desperate consumption of some of the bottom x% are both issues.

I fear that the lands of China and India are becoming irreparably damaged.

There is the desperate hunting of bush meat and denuding trees in Africa just to survive.

Of course the top 30% will likely join the bottom 70% after oil, NG, and coal become rather scarce...then we will denude the forests and the drive the wild game to extinction (that deer population issue in parts of the U.S. will be resolved right quick).

To partially answer your last question...if the human population were 10% of the present population (across the board cut), that means that the uber-consumers would be 10% of their current numbers as well. That would certainly help the global sources/sinks situation.

At Indian level of population density, the U.S could have some 3.486 Billion people scratching out an existence at the current Indian spectrum of wealth distribution.

Even using China's population density, the U.S. could have 1.2+ Billion folks eking out a living right now, again we can assume emulating China's current wealth distribution.
Somehow I do not find those circumstances better or preferable.

Both raw numbers of population and consumption per capita are issues.

So, yes, I am going to strongly advocate that each and every woman have 2 or fewer children per her lifetime.

BTW, the issue isn't sex, it is reproduction. Sex =/ reproduction necessarily.

We are all smart enough to know that one doesn't have to lead to the other anymore. People;e can have as much sex as they want without having children willy-nilly.

And the two things you mention are not independent: sex (leading to more people) and profit motive; There are plenty of folks out there (including some published economists) who argue that population increase is necessary to sustain business/industrial growth...more customers for the aristocrats to milk...more business extracting more and more resources...sinks be damned....only eco-Luddites worry about sinks.

So again, yes: I advocate people to stop playing the aristocrats' game: Have two or fewer children per woman per lifetime.

World countries: population, land area, and population density.


From the article here:


House Republicans in effect outlined their starting position last week, when, amid the fight over 2011 spending, they unveiled their budget for the 2012 fiscal year and beyond. It would cut $6 trillion over 10 years, mostly from projected spending for Medicare and Medicaid.

But those savings would be offset by about $4 trillion in tax cuts. The result, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would be continued annual deficits until 2040 — necessitating more votes to raise the debt limit, even under House Republicans’ plan, for decades to come.

Why can't we make that $2 Trillion in tax cuts, and $2 Trillion in DoD cuts over the same period, along with the other $6 Trillion in cuts?

Why can't we be more like the British and agree to shared sacrifices? Both political tribes must compromise.

Why can't you make it $2 trillion in tax RISES on polluting energy uses over the same period?

Hell, the British have shown the way - announce a 'stabiliser' for fuel prices, then raise the rates come the next step down (and fuel prices falling in consequence). Make it so the SUV is conclusively uneconomic, forever.

And if you want to bring those medicxxx costs down, simply announce that anyone past retirement age can select the manner and time of their death.

Good thoughts, there!

If we were successful in implementing our ideas, we could turn trillions of $$ of debt into trillions of dollars of equally abstract surplus in less than 10 years!

And the sources and sinks limits would still be with us, only 10-years worse. But we would have green ink above the line on our graphs!

American's do not sacrifice. They whine and moan and believe in delusion. Why sacrifice when they just print the money anyway? I find it off that Americans care about debt. They are all knee deep in it themselves. It is a joke right -- the Federal Debt.

The result, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would be continued annual deficits until 2040

This statement sounds inconceivable -- continual deficits for the next 30 years?? Do US politicians actually believe this is possible? The US debt would be so high by 2040 that 100% of the tax revenue would go toward interest payments. And even that wouldn't be enough -- at some point you would have to borrow money to pay the interest, leading to an exponential increase in the debt level.

To me, it's blatantly obvious that some culture-changing economic shock is about to hit the US within a few years, and by extention, the rest of the world.

This statement sounds inconceivable -- continual deficits for the next 30 years?? Do US politicians actually believe this is possible?

In the last 50 years (from 1962 to 2010), the federal budget has been balanced five times: 1969, and 1998-2001. So yes, US politicians believe they can run deficits for 30 years; they've been running them for so long that very few of them can remember when the federal government didn't run deficits.

As to whether balancing the budget requires culture-changing shocks... Restoring tax rates and the DoD budget to the rates from 2000 would eliminate about two-thirds of the structural deficit. Eliminating tax credits for employer-provided health insurance and home mortgages, and agricultural subsidies, would pretty much get rid of the remaining third.

Arguably, the short-term cyclical portion of the deficit could have been avoided almost entirely by the simple expedient of limiting the profitability of financial institutions. Cain's Law™ applies: Any situation in which it is easier to become wealthy by manipulating financial instruments than by producing the underlying goods and services will end badly.

I urge all of you to take a look at this information regarding World and U.S. military expenditures:

Anup Shah, World Military Spending, Global Issues, Updated: July 07, 2010

If you don't want to spend a lot of time, at least examine the graphs.

Ask yourself how much return we have received on our 'investment'.

The fact that almost NO ONE of any import/significance on the political playing field is advocating for cuts in U.S. military-Industrial-Complex spending is a crime against logic, reason, and sanity.

We could balance our budget without resorting to egregious tax levels if we wanted to...

Reign-in the growth of (meaning: cut) Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security etc....outright cut nominal MIC spending by at least 15%, and perhaps even as much as 25%...instate a national VAT...raise taxes on those making >$250K to Clinton-era levels.

Edit: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42519332/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/

Pentagon's second thoughts on Iraq withdrawal
Officials fear a final pullout in December could create a security vacuum

The military spending by the US is much larger than given in your reference. That data appears to include only the DOD funding, but there's also the other agencies, such as the DHS, the CIA, the DOE and even some of the State Department. Chalmers Johnson figures the amount exceeds $1,000 billion, not the $684 for 2009 from your reference. And, we now hear that the Tea Party folks claim that they want to increase US spending...

E. Swanson


You are quite correct that DoD spending is not the sum total of Military Industrial Complex spending.

It is beyond-belief annoying that most U.S. citizens (not just Tea-Partiers and Republicans)have an utter, complete blind spot towards MIC spending.

It is the ultimate free ride the all the many corporations who are slurping at the trough.

It has been documented back when Rummy was the SecDef that DoD has lost track of trillions of dollars over the course of a couple of decades.

And the Federal Civil Servants who work for DoD and DOE see themselves as completely different and special compared to any other Federal Civil servants and especially to any state or local government workers. I saw this loud and clear last week as they were preparing to be furloughed. The very same people were still denigrating the State government workers in Wisconsin etc.

Same thing when word came down about 6 months ago that their (DoD federal civil servants) medical benefits may be trimmed someday in the future...the same folks piss and moan about non-DoD federal workers and state workings having medical benefits which break the budget bank...

If one is a Fed General Schedule civilian working for the MIC, one's employment, pay, and benefits are inviolate...every other government worker is a parasitic leech who is ruining our country by draining our coffers. I am not exaggerating...I hear it every freaking day.

The hypocrisy and sense of special entitlement is absolutely mind-blowing.

Anyone who espouses cutting government spending without touching the MIC is not worth having a discussion with.

Cain's Law™_:
Any situation in which it is easier to become wealthy by manipulating financial instruments than by producing the underlying goods and services will end badly.

Someone had to invent a "law" for that?

Did he get the Nobel prize in economics theory for it?

Your name is Cain II? OMG. What a coincidence!

US government debt should increase each year at roughly the same percentage as the long term GDP growth. That is, if we want to have the country grow at 3.5% on average, then the debt should grow 3.5% on average. On a year to year bases, when the GDP growth is low, the debt growth should be high and vice versa. Unfortunately, the politicians forget about the vice versa part and only practice the vice.

The government debt is particularly high now because during the great recession there was a liquidity crises in financial institutions. This could only be solved by government backing of financial institution debt. So the governments balance sheet reflects the conversion of large amounts of private debt into public debt, along with explicitly backing the government sponsored entities Fannie and Freddie which everyone always assumed were backed by the government anyway.

I am not sure I agree with premise I inferred from your post of long-term GDP growth.

Long-term inflation-adjusted GDP growth?

Does long-term inflation-adjusted GDP growth imply long-term population growth at about the same rate?

What happens if population growth is zero for an extended period of time?

Does long-term inflation-adjusted GDP growth continue, due to each person consuming more?

How long is long-term? Are there any limits?


Yes, inflation-adjusted GDP growth.

It does not imply long-term population growth at about the same rate.

Population growth can be zero for an extended period of time. I think that impacts on economics are more associated with the age distribution of the population than the overall growth.

Long-term inflation-adjusted GDP growth can continue due to expansion of investment and consumption per capita. Consumption can be of both goods and services, so an increase in outputs of extractive industries need not apply.

Long-term is a decade or more. It should be long enough to average over the typical business cycles of 3 to 10 years duration, with some allowance for longer 40 to 60 year Kondratieff-like cycles of investment, innovation and social change.

"Science advances one funeral at a time" -- Max Planck. So does economics, politics and other human endeavors.

(Actually, he wrote "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ") http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Max_Planck

This statement sounds inconceivable -- continual deficits for the next 30 years?

And this with projected goverment spending as a percentage of GDP about the same as it has been since the end of WW2. The myth that goverment spends totally out of control has been sold to a public willing to be misled. The real goal is too dramatically downsize government, leaving just enough government to protect the Aristocrats, nothing to help the bulk of the population.

Of course it's shared sacrifice. Shared among the entire population below the 95th income percentile. The others are slated to get more and more of whatever pie is left.
The whole point of Repub screaming about deficits, is not to reduce them, throw in some more tax cuts for the rich and cut services for the poor. The former portion of the plan insures there will be scary deficits in a few years down the road so they can do it all over again. Rinse and repeat, until we end up with a society of aristocrats lording it over the peasants. With a small class of skilled aristocratic servants being the only opportunites for those not born to wealth; craftsmen, courtesans, security types (taking up the old niche of medival knoghts), etc. Plenty to like if you can arrange to end up on the right side of the castle walls.

Why can't we be more like the British and agree to shared sacrifices? Both political tribes must compromise.

Because it is an island. And the mentality of islanders is totally different from people in continents.
Britain, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Cuba, Sicily. Do you see something in common? All of them are tight as fingers in a fist. Closed shop.

Even Spain that is a Peninsula -almost an island- doesn't have that mentality except, precisely, in our islands like Majorca, Tenerife, Gran Canaria etc; they are closely knit societies hostile to outsiders.

When General De Gaulle went back to France after the war he found to his great dismay that in France the political parties went only after their own particular interests and having lived in Britain during the war and watched how the Brits would put aside their differences for the common good he found that the interest of the political party in France was paramount, and the good of France (at least how he understood it) totally secondary.

Your theory sounds plausible to me.

Thank you for the insight.


But those savings would be offset by about $4 trillion in tax cuts.

That's why the Bush jr. tax cuts (mostly for the super wealthy) should have been allowed to expire. Gore had warned against the Bush tax cuts in a debate in 2000 but the sheeple bought the Fuzzy Math bit. Even after huge deficits averaging 650 billion for the 8 years Bush jr. was in office, Obama allowed those tax cuts to continue. Pure idiocy, because obviously that 4 trillion would have to get cut later from somewhere and Congress would fight endlessly about how and from what. Better to have just let those tax cuts expire. If Obama had been gutsy enough, he would have done it, but politically he wanted to do what he could to get re-elected in 2012.

But now it gets even worse, because those tax cuts were not allowed to expire, it emboldened the Repubs to push for even more tax cuts for the super wealthy. Right now, they are trying to cut the top tax rate from 35% to 24% in exchange for the money saved from privatizing Medicare. Anyone older than 65 will simply get a voucher for savings on private health insurance.

Pretty soon social security, medicare, medicaid and education will all be privatized and what you'll get in the mail is a coupon book, and eventually there will be no coupon book. Disheleved masses groveling in the gutter of life while chrome trimmed cherry red Hummer's pass by - that's the future of America. Might as well go out with a small percentage of the population having a great time.

Anyone older than 65 will simply get a voucher for savings on private health insurance.

They packaged it a little more cleverly than that. Anyone over 55 (that includes me), get the old system, those younger get the vouchers. And the vouchers may sound generous to someone who is years from retirement, especially because people don't understand the exponential function -and thats what medical inflation is. So they may well be fooled into buying into the idea. But then when they reach retirement age, they will discover the voucher is only good for a fraction of the cost of insurance. All in all, a pretty clever way to distribute wealth from the lower 95-98% to the wealthy. I suspect they won't get it this go around. But, they will relentlessly push this plan, or something like it. If recent history is any quide withing a few years they will get it, then they will precipitate another crisis, and go for yet another round.

They packaged it a little more cleverly than that. Anyone over 55 (that includes me), get the old system, those younger get the vouchers.

That is clever - making it seem ok to their older voter base to be ok with eliminating the program for those that will soon be in that age category.

Also agree it will only pay for a small portion and in effect transfer more wealth to the top percentiles. Those guys (Repubs) are getting more blatant about just be interested in providing greater benefits to the super wealthy. But Bush jr. proved anyone can be a champion of the super wealthy - now try to help all of America.

This is guaranteed to get "interesting" within a decade or three no matter how they package it. We can only have two-and-a-fraction more doublings before medical "care" passes 100% of GDP, and with galloping 10% annual increases against a stagnant GDP, that won't take long at all. It will sorely test Stein's Law, in that what can't happen won't. Since deeply held religious and quasi-religious views of entitlement are at stake, i.e. "doctor, do everything you can" will have to go off the table, the fireworks will be spectacular irrespective of who's in power.

Half of medical care is spent on the last 18 months of life.

About a fourth is spent on managing chronic illnesses which cannot be cured or fixed.

The fomer is mostly paid by Medicare. For those chronic illnesses that bankrupt the family, there is Medicaid.

The government functions particularly poorly when it is involve in either:
- labor intensive functions that involve managing a large number of low-paid employees, or
- helping or assistance functions that involve empathy with the client.

The first sort of functions should be left to WalMart, while the second type should be left to the airlines.

Wait, wait, don't tell me...we will need to have 'Death Panels'!

I love how Obama and the democrats passed a health care bill which required folks to buy private health insurance, and the Republicans decry it as socialized medicine, and then also argue that it will degrade/change for the worse Medicare, which is arguably 'socialized medicine'! They say that cuts from Medicare resulting from cost-containment measures will result in 'Death Panels'.

Then, the Republicans unveil their plan to...wait for it...privatize Medicare, giving people vouchers to buy insurance, which doesn't seem to be any much different than the Dems healthcare plan for those too young to qualify for Medicare! And...when the oldsters find that the vouchers are not enough, and when healthcare fails to become less expensive, they (and their relatives and the state) will be faced with choices reminiscent of...death panels.

Boy howdy, the health insurance industry is going to be in high cotton! People both young and old will have no choice but pay cash or run straight into the loving arms of the insurance industry...the CEO salaries and the advertising budgets and the investor profits will skyrocket! There will be zero incentive to contain costs (as opposed to government-funded health care, which imposed re-reimbursement caps, which were fought by Dems and Republicans alike!).

The whole thing stinks and the folks on both sides of the aisle are clowns who are vassals of the 'investor class'.

I wonder when Canada and European countries and Japan etc will get on board with the only right way to provide healthcare...the American way!

Oh, and poll all the DOD-employed Federal Civil Servants and all the military members, who have a 'full-ride' health care plan...ask them if they want to trade that in to get vouchers...and then ask how many of them are Republican and advocate for everyone BUT them to get vouchers ...

Their motto: We are special and more deserving, and everyone else can eat dirt and stop clogging the system and keeping us from getting timely appointments! I hear it every friggin day from the Fed GS and military who honestly feel entitled to better care than everyone else.

When they retire they say "I earned it for the rest of my life". When a non-DoD federal worker or heaven forbid a unionized state worker (or an auto worker, even worse)says the same thing "I earned it after 20 years and it is a contract" then these people are depicted as greedy scum of the earth bankrupting the systems ability to pay for the truly deserving patriots...

Hypocrisy reigns supreme!

I wonder when Canada and European countries and Japan etc will get on board with the only right way to provide healthcare...the American way!

Here in Canada, neocon Harper is going for a majority (with 38% popular support) and once he gets it we will have privatization of the health care system. This dictator wannabe has been running the country with total contempt for due process as if he had a majority already. Proroguing parliament to suppress inquiries into abuses has opened my eyes how fragile the system is. All it takes is some zealot regime and a pliant media and its the 1930s all over again. People do take too much for granted and as if it always was and always will be.

The "conservatives" buy their elections with tax cuts. Too bad most of the electorate thinks that a few hundred bucks per year is a big deal. It would at least make more sense if the cuts were in the several thousand range for the middle class. But only the rich get to see such large cuts. After all, you have to rob from the poor to give to the rich.

which required folks to buy private health insurance

Thank goodness they don't also require people to buy "national defense"!


Wait, wait, don't tell me...we will need to have 'Death Panels'!

Of course not! All we need is to bring back cigarette ads targeting teenagers on TV... there won't be a population of people over 65 to worry about. Takes care of the social security problem as well. Heck while we're at it raise the speed limit and promote drinking and driving and hand out handguns to everyone.

Let the Free Market do its "thiyang"

Bring back radioactive health potions!

[ i.mage.+]

Bottled in Japan -accept no substitutes for the original.

If Obama had been gutsy enough, he would have done it, but politically he wanted to do what he could to get re-elected in 2012.

He did what he thought would get him re-elected. Ironically, what he did is probably going to guarantee that he will not.

I predict a third party candidate to challenge PO for the moderate and progressive votes. Throwing the 2012 election to the Republican candidate, or maybe even giving us an independent, progressive, president.

Some time during that President's term of office, the doo doo will hit the proverbial air moving mechanism, and we will have wasted what little time we had when Peak Oil was first recognized by some (2005 or 2006).

Of course, the military, including national guard units, will have the SOR to draw upon, and for a while we will see some relative calm. And, as even the military has difficulty moving supplies and food stuffs around, the crisis will peak.

Peak population > peak oil > peak crisis > teotwawki.


A minor update to a somewhat off-topic story from a week or so ago that may or may not have been posted here before but what the hell...

A 75-year-old woman arrested for single-handedly cutting off the Internet in Georgia and Armenia on Friday tearfully insisted she was innocent and said she had never heard of the web.

...it's a good story, relevant to our times. The woman, pictured holding her saw, was scavenging metals.

...Shakarian, a Georgian of Armenian origin, told AFP that she was just a "poor old woman" who was not capable of committing such a crime.

"I did not cut this cable. Physically, I could not do it," she said, repeatedly bursting into tears as she spoke.

She faces three years in prison for her crime.

Limits to ‘Disaster Memory,’ Even Etched in Stone
Interesting article, Leanan. Disaster memory can survive in other ways as well - in fables for instance. Maybe someone with knowledge of Japanese culture could comment as to what extent disaster memory is etched into their art and folklore?

SamSpeed recently posted a link to a fascinating clip from Akira Kurosawa's Dreams - Mount Fuji in Red, in which volcanic activity triggers simultaneous explosions at 6 nuclear reactors.

Other than that, my knowledge on the subject is pretty much limited to Godzilla movies,* and the great novel Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe.

*Gamera the Invincible, complete film now available free at youtube movies : )

So, the global situation:

  • Another oil price super-spike in progress
  • Rising food prices, due in part (mainly) to the rapid growth of biofuel production, hurting the poor of Asia
  • Rising instability in poor countries: Egypt suffering increasing crime, civil war in Libya and Ivory Coast with over a million refugees having emigrated from the latter, increasing binksmanship in the Israel to Iran area
  • A large cut in the US Federal budget which may well tip the economy back into recession (1937 all over again)
  • In Europe, very weak peripheral economies (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, the Baltic countries) and a central bank that decides now is the time to raise interest rates -- which will probably tip Europe as a whole back into recession
  • A large chunk taken out of Japan's GDP - Japan is not entirely insignificant even yet
  • A looming global pollution problem, the effects of which are going to really start hurting in a decade or so, by when they will be unstoppable
  • A global political elite that seems oblivious to these problems and focused only on expropriating more for itself

The global macroeconomic/political forecast doesn't look good. It's almost as if the world has taken the baseline scenario in Limits to Growth as a blueprint instead of a warning.

Good summary of what's facing us !
The last point might be the root cause of every other problem , human nature fully powered by greed!

Now you can hope the free market system which brought us the most wealth in human history ( or plagues dipending on which side you look at ) will find an equilibrium or you can become a doomer and assume that a peacefull world will not happend this time again ....

The global economic and political elite are behaving rationally. Each is working to position himself and his family in the most advantageous position possible. It is called "getting while the getting is good", while knowing full well that the future is high risk.

Good list gregvp. Here's one that could be added;

Various forms of infrastructure, such as roadways, bridges, tunnels, transmission lines, underground plumbing in different stages of degradation and obsolescence, with greatly reduced ability to fix or replace due to rising costs and depleting tax revenue base.

The price of gasoline in Metro Vancouver continues its unrelentless upward climb. My neighborhood Chevron is now charging 136.9 cents for a litre of regular gasoline. This works out to:

1.369 CA$/L x 3.785412 gallon/L x 1.04559 US$/CA$ = 5.42 US$/gallon

The upward trajectory appears to more gradual than the summer 2008, and maybe this is why it's not a big issue in the mainstream media. Anecdotally, there appears to be fewer gas-guzzlers on the road, but still a lot of them in people's driveways. Stangely, the drivers in the guzzlers that are still on the road appear to make no attempt to conserve what's in their tanks. You see them going full speed up long, steep hills even sometimes braking on the uphill. I guess refined oil products are still way too cheap.

As in 2008, the price will continue to go up until demand destruction causes consumption to fall to the same level as production. It's anybody's guess what price demand destruction will take its toll, but likely it will be considerably higher than 2008's record price of $147 per barrel.

This time around, the price is driven by excess demand from China and other developing countries, rather than the US, but (as in 2008) the failure of OPEC to meet the excess demand is the underlying problem.

I'm mentally prepared to pay $2 per litre when we visit the West Coast of BC this summer. We'll be in our 5-cylinder VW Eurovan camper, so I don't think the cost will bankrupt us. My sailboat, moored on the Sunshine Coast, can get an infinite number of (nautical) miles per gallon, as can our kayaks, so we will not suffer particularly from a rerun of 2008.

Other people may not have as easy a time this summer. It's not looking good for Joe Lumberjack in his V8 4x4 pickup.

2.00 CA$/L x 3.785412 gallon/L x 1.04559 US$/CA$ = 7.92 US$/gallon

Seattle Ponders the Wisdom of Replacing a Roadway

Tired old infrastructure, at the end of its design life. What to do?
Knock it down, let existing arterials handle the excess traffic somehow?
Build a tunnel? Repair in place?

Coming into Seattle in the late afternoon on a non-cloudy day from the South on Hwy 99... you would travel past Boeing Field and the rail yards and the industrial Duwamish waterway choked with freighters and container ships... a working city's gray underbelly...
Then suddenly you are lifted up and to your startled eyes you see Seattle's downtown rising to your right up the hills, up, up... then the Space Needle looms into view ahead, and off to your left a sweeping panorama of Puget Sound opens up with the majestic Olympic Mountains in the background...ferries coming and going, gulls wheeling...it can be breathtaking, just achingly beautiful if you are sensitive to such things.

And there is a kinetic element to it, since you are traveling in a car at pretty high speeds it is almost like a fun-house ride, nothing at all like the static view available to the well-heeled in their condos and corner offices.
It is one of the simple pleasures available to the citizen-motorist, an egalitarian pleasure.

No wonder we Americans are in love with cars. At one time we built not only delightful cars but delightful roads.
If any of you nurse a guilty pleasure in driving scenic roadways, the Alaskan Way Viaduct probably won't be around much longer...Northbound only, though, Southbound it is a potential death-trap if we get a Fukushima type quake.

There is something I do not understand about American politics. The republicans are not in power yet apparently they are running through bills to destroy working parts of the government to further their frankly white supremacist, sick-minded, anti-freedom, disturbingly anti-american views.

Exactly what is the point of your 2 party system if the people can continue doing exactly what they wanted in the first place? and exactly what were you expecting Obama to do when he can do nothing without (apparently) the republican's say so?

Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution begins:

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

So taxation bills orginate in the House "Ways and Means" committee, and after passage by the House go to the Senate for its vote, and then to the President for his signature to become law.

By custom, the House "Appropriations" committee generally also takes the lead in originating spending bills as well. So the House, which is elected from districts with roughly equal population, is in the lead in economic matters. The Senate, with two Senators per state, has the lead in other matters, such as approvals of Supreme Court nominees, advice and consent on international treaties, etc.

The republicans are not in power yet apparently they are running through bills

In our system, there are three points where things (like spending money) can be stopped. The congress, which is elected every two years, the Senate (with staggered six year terms), and the presidency. The R's currently have a majority in one of these (the congress (sometimes called the house)), and can use that as a point to obstruct things. Even before last fall, when the democrats had 60 out of a hundred in the senate, the complaints were that the republicans had a 40 to 60 majority (the senate had a tradition of requiring things to pass by 60%). So we have a situation designed for stalemate (having throw out British rule the founders feared goverment power, and designed an unwieldy system of purpose). I think all subsequent democracies have followed hte parlimentary system, which allows an elected party?coalition to pursue its agenda.

"(the senate had a tradition of requiring things to pass by 60%). "

Not really; just when the Dems had the majority.

I do not understand American politics.

No worries mate,

Neither do 98% of the American public.

The only things we need to remember is that "we are the greatest nation on Earth", "we support our troops", and we're fighting y'all over there so we don't have to fight y'all over here.

I propose we start planning now to rid our roadways of automobiles and use all the arteries for Solar Roadways and Evacuated Tube Transport.The ETT would replace our automobiles,big rigs,trains,ships and planes by moving people and goods.The Solar Roadways would power our Electrical needs.Ok I'm just kidding but Man how I wish this was for real today!



How much Kool Aid do you have to drink to reach this point of delusion?

Chill. He said he was joking.

Kool Aid...Not TimH, the web sites.

ROFLMAO. If wishes were fishes, we'd all have some fried. From underneath the first link, at www.solarroadways.com/snow.shtml :

The roads in northern climates heat themselves with their embedded heating elements (similar to the rear window of a car), eliminating ice and snow buildup.

Cities will no longer have the expense of snow removal and the problems caused by the chemicals (salt, magnesium chloride, etc.) used to maintain clear roads.

Businesses will no longer have to worry about keeping their parking lots cleared.

Homeowners will no longer have to suffer through winters of shoveling or plowing snow off their driveways and sidewalks. Imagine the number of deaths and injuries that will be prevented just by keeping the roads safe and dry! Hopefully, this will lead to an added benefit of lowered insurance rates for all of us.

Yes indeed, you may have been kidding wistfully, but they apparently weren't. I do wonder what they were thinking, maybe power from another universe. Here in snow country, they gave up on the cost of heating just a couple of blocks of downtown sidewalks decades ago, never mind heating every last street and driveway!

They are serious. This was discussed when they sent out their first press release a couple of years ago. They think they can solve the energy crisis (and get rich) by replacing all roads, parking lots, etc., with solar panels you can drive on. They claim roads made of solar panels will last far longer than asphalt roads, thereby paying for the higher cost.

I seriously doubt they've consulted with any highway engineers. Asphalt and concrete roads were supposed to last as long as their theoretical solar roads, but they never did. The reason is water. It gets into cracks, freezes and thaws, washes away fines, and generally wreaks havoc. It's really hard to keep water out of roads, and they'll have the same problem with roads made of solar panels. With the added fun of possible electrical shorts.

I seriously doubt they've consulted with any highway engineers

They didn't need to. They were funded by the Federal Highway Administration for their prototype - there are lots of engineers there. They wouldn't have funded this if they didn;t see at least some potential; in it.

I expect the real potential is in urban settings, for doing peak hour lane changing and other things like that, though such systems are already well established.

As a way of producing power this has to be very expensive

They were funded by the Federal Highway Administration for their prototype - there are lots of engineers there.

Yeah, but they are usually lab nerds, not people with real world experience.

The feds fund all kinds of wacky ideas. And in this case, it sounds like the interest is more in a self-powered lighted crosswalk than in replacing all current highways with solar panels.

I've been gradually converting more of our sockets to LED. Earlier today, I purchased three Philips AmbientLED A19s. These lamps consume 12.5-watts and provide 800 lumens, the same amount of light as supplied by a standard 60-watt incandescent. This is the first lamp I can honestly say is indistinguishable from an incandescent or halogen light source -- light quality is truly superb.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PhilipsA19Demo.jpg

You can see a close-up of this lamp (off) at: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PhilipsA19.jpg

I also retrofitted our dining room chandelier with Philip's EnduraLED BA11 candle lamps. These lamps consume 3-watts and supply 136 lumens and, again, the quality of light is extremely good. In this case, fixture load falls from 300-watts to 36, with only a modest drop in light levels.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PhilipsBA11.jpg


Are those candle lights the ones that have an inverted, conical reflector above the LED to scatter the light sideways? Those picture strip lights would be a good target for LEDS, nice and cool. Care would be needed to ensure colour rendition though.



They do and it works remarkably well.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/BA11Candle.jpg

This lamp has a CRI of 90.

Philips has a candelabra base C7 LED night light that draws just 0.25-watts. I was thinking of using them in the picture lights, but I believe they have a relatively high colour temperature and I suspect the CRI would be mediocre at best. For now, I'll stick with an incandescent.


Ah, thanks. I am looking at ideas on my own project here but good lighting here is horribly expensive or hard to get. I saw some of these in Home Depot but was not interested in getting a test piece at their prices. There is one store that does Phillips but they tend to pile on the price too. Otherwise it tends to be Magg or obscure brands. Please excuse my picking your experience with this stuff.


Not at all; glad to help. I might also try a local lighting distributor that carries the Philips line; you might be able to purchase what you need over the counter at a lower cost. FWIW, I paid $14.00 for these BA11s (wholesaler) and $40.00 for the A19s (Home Depot).

I wouldn't normally pay $40.00 for a lamp, particularly when a similar wattage CFL can supply an equivalent number of lumens at a fraction of the cost, but no CFL can match the quality of the light provided. I wasn't happy with any of the half dozen CFLs I had originally used in my desk lamp and ended up going with a 40-watt Halogená ES T60 (60-watt equivalent). I have a fairly critical eye due to the nature of my work and I can't tell the difference between this LED and the halogen it replaces.


"An optimist thinks we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist thinks this is only too true."
I am a pessimist. It does appear with the way things are going that the top 1% for whom things are structured will ruin everything for everybody. Things will get to the point where the only way to survive will be:

We'll eat the rich after we run out of cake.

Martin A. Nowak, the director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, has devoted a brilliant career to showing that Darwin, and particularly his followers, batted only two for three. Random mutation and natural selection have indeed been powerful motors for change in the natural world — the struggle for existence pitting the fit against the fitter in a hullabaloo of rivalry. But most of the great innovations of life on earth, Nowak argues, from genes to cells to societies, have been due to a third motor, and “master architect,” of evolution: cooperation.

The final Drumbeat story, the one about How Evolution Explains Altruism, is very interesting. Nowak, however, should read the groundbreaking work by the scientist who first came up with the idea over a century ago.


The scientist in question was Peter Kropotkin, who was born a prince in Russia, trained as a geographer, abandoned his title and became an anarchist.