Drumbeat: April 30, 2011

John Michael Greer - Alternatives to Nihilism, Part Three: Remember Your Name

Look beyond the realm of partisan quarrels and the same deeply troubled conscience appears over and over again in American life. Consider, as one example out of many, the way that protecting children turned from a reasonable human concern to an obsessive-compulsive fixation. Raised under the frantic surveillance of helicopter moms, forbidden from playing outside or even visiting another child’s home except on the basis of a prearranged and parentally approved play date, a generation of American children were held hostage by a galaxy of parental terrors that have only the most distorted relationship to reality, but serve to distract attention from the fact that the lifestyles chosen by these same parents were condemning their children to a troubled and dangerous life in a depleted, polluted, and impoverished world.

The irony reached a dizzying intensity as tens of thousands of American parents rushed out to buy SUVs to transport their children to places every previous generation of American children proved perfectly capable of reaching by themselves on foot or on bike. It became the conventional wisdom, during the peak of the SUV craze, that the safety provided to young passengers by these massive rolling fortresses justified their purchase. No one wanted to deal with the fact that it was precisely the lifestyle exemplified by the SUV that was, and remains, the single most pressing threat to children’s long-term safety and welfare.

Tripoli witness: Rioting, fighting and dying for fuel

Tales of tension and gang-fights are common in Tripoli's long queues for fuel. One resident in the Libyan capital - who does not want his name to be used for security reasons - explains.

It has been an explosive week in Tripoli, both literally and figuratively.

Nato air strikes intensified after a quiet period.

Meanwhile, the fuel shortage, that state television channels deny exists, has hit an all-time high in the past eight days.

Fertiliser sector seeks gas diversion from power plants

ISLAMABAD: The fertiliser sector has offered the government that it will pay cost differential of running power plants on fuels other than gas, provided the government diverts 120 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas to fertiliser plants, as low availability of gas has not only reduced power generation by 800 megawatts, but is also becoming a reason for urea shortage.

Russian fuel shortage to impact Tajik harvests, ministry says

Tajikistan’s Agriculture Ministry on Friday issued a warning that fluctuations in the availability of Russian gas could impact harvests and have a negative impact on the country’s agribusiness sector.

“The sowing campaign was carried out in the country in good time, but acute fuel shortages may seriously affect land treatment that will tell on productivity and quality of agricultural crops, including cotton,” the Tajik news agency AsiaPlus.tj reported ministry spokesman Narzullo Dadaboyev as saying on Friday.

LPG's Aramco price hits record high at $ 980 per ton

KARACHI: The international price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has jumped by $ 96 to record high at $ 980 per ton for May 2011, raising its import price by Rs 9,043 to Rs 97,560 per ton, the highest ever in country's history.

Gasoline prices soar in Germany to new record high

Gasoline prices in Germany reached a record high of 1.62 euro per liter, a day after Russia raised export duties by 44 percent to ensure domestic supply. Earlier this week, oil companies reported huge profits.

Drivers in Germany about to return from Easter holidays will face a nasty shock as gasoline prices on Friday reached a record high of around 1.62 euros per liter ($2.41). That's even higher than the 2008 record of 1.59 euros per liter.

Mideast Oil Recovery Enters New Phase

DUBAI—It has always been an axiom of world energy markets that Persian Gulf oil is both easy and cheap to produce.

The crude that gushes from the scorching desert sands of Saudi Arabia is thought to cost less than $5 a barrel to produce, compared to the $70 price tag on raising a barrel from deep Atlantic waters.

But many of the Persian Gulf oilfields have been producing for decades, and a number of the newer fields in the region contain heavier and harder-to-extract crudes. Squeezing out the remaining reserves from some existing fields and developing new, more complicated ones will be costlier and will require more advanced technology, according to analysts and oilfield engineers.

Stuart Staniford: Chinese inflation and next recession musings

So, in 2007/2008 the sector that gave way was the American subprime consumer, along with a significant chunk of the financial system that was predicated on the idea that poor Americans could continue to take on more and more debt indefinitely. Instead, rising gas and food prices eventually destabilized the finances of that sector of consumers, they started to default, then their lenders started to default, financial contagion set in, and the situation was only stabilized with massive extraordinary interventions by sovereign governments. That worked, but left a lot of the sovereigns in significantly weaker condition than before.

Now poor Americans borrowing more and more to bid house prices higher and higher was always an unsustainable trend that was going to end in tears one way or another. But the timing was likely determined by the oil/food price shock that ended in 2008.

So now, just three years later, here we are again with oil and food prices rising fast, and the question in my mind is this: what part of the global fabric tears next? And when?

Shale Boom, Gas Demand to Make North America LNG Exports Reality

The increase in North American natural gas due to the shale gas boom and a projected increase in global gas demand mean that North America will become a liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter within the next few years.

PA State Senate Proposes Impact Fee on Gas Drilling

The ranking Republican in the state Senate today proposed an impact fee on Marcellus shale gas drilling, of which an estimated 60 percent would go to counties and municipalities with deep wells as well as townships and boroughs neighboring drilling production sites.

Pemex Output May Reach 3 Million Barrels in 2015-2017

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-run oil company, may see production rise to 3 million barrels a day in the period from 2015 to 2017, Juan Jose Suarez Coppel, chief executive officer said today.

Pemex, as the company is known, will cut losses in its refinery business by about 8 billion pesos this year, Suarez Coppel said at an event in Mexico City.

What's wrong with China becoming Afghanistan's main patron?

We are hearing that Pakistan has urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to turn away from the United States, and embrace China as his country's chief big-power patron. Is that a wacky idea? The answer is no. As we've observed with the flow of oil and natural gas from Central Asia, an active Big China serves U.S. and western interests when it comes to this particular region.

Deep Oil From Diamonds? Maybe, Says A New Report

According to a new computer model, liquid methane in contact with a partially hydrogen-terminated diamond surface at extremely high pressures and temperatures spontaneously forms longer hydrocarbons, and hence the material of crude oil could be formed deep in the earth.

Nigeria’s Ruling Party Keeps Majority in General Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s ruling party retained a majority in national legislative and state-governor elections that were called the cleanest in a decade in Africa’s top oil producer, according to partial results released by authorities.

ANALYSIS-China sharpens axe to cull "teapot" refiners

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's state-owned oil companies can cover any shortages of refined fuel products under plans to shut small refiners known as "teapots" that make up 10 to 15 percent of the country's capacity, though fuel oil imports would fall sharply.

When is it time to say goodbye to a company?

Even if you do have hundreds of great people in the company, BP's culture is extremely problematic. Short of serious criminality, laws do not permit a government-led off-with-his-head approach applied to bad dictators. As for a market response, one might ask what type of incident would trigger a company-changing selloff. The type that forces a lopping off of the entire top of the company, and a true transformation of the culture. Or its acquisition by a more responsible rival.

A Spanish Island's Quest to Be the Greenest Place on Earth

At the moment, the project that will transform the future of El Hierro doesn't look like much more than a hole in the ground. Or two, to be exact: one on top of a mountain, another smaller one down below, and in between, a long stretch of pipeline tinted the same color as the scrub that grows so abundantly on this volcanic island. But when this innovative wind-power system goes online at the end of 2011, it will turn El Hierro, the easternmost of Spain's Canary Islands, into the first inhabited landmass in the world to become completely energy self-sufficient. And that's just the first step in a plan that may make the island the most sustainable place on Earth.

Bitching About an Unsustainable Lifestyle

My Facebook pal — who I won’t name out of courtesy and to save her possible embarrassment — recently urged her online followers to take part in a national Post-It Note campaign at the gas pump designed to show outrage at the spiraling prices that she had read about somewhere. In her words, “Every time I buy gas, I leave a sticky note on the gas pump which says, ‘How’s that Hope & Change working out for you?’ I encourage all of you to join me in my little adventure.”

If you can’t tell, my acquaintance is a conservative Republican and she’s blaming President Obama and his energy policies for the rising prices, and borrows a smart-ass barb from everyone’s favorite half-term governor, Sarah Palin.

(By the way, this acquaintance opposes Cincinnati’s proposed streetcar system and generally is against mass transit. Go figure.)

Obama renews call for ending oil subsidies

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama on Saturday said Congress should halt subsidizing oil companies to invest in the energy of the future.

"When oil companies are making huge profits and you're struggling at the pump, and we?re scouring the federal budget for spending we can afford to do without, these tax giveaways aren't right," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

"They aren't smart. And we need to end them," he added.

Pump prices rise 2 cents as supplies tighten

Gas pump prices across the country rose to within a dime of $4 a gallon Friday, as weather-related refinery outages tightened supplies and pushed prices up.

The national average increased 2 cents to nearly $3.91 a gallon for regular gasoline. It's the highest level since July 31, 2008, when pump prices were falling from a record $4.11 a gallon on July 17 of that year.

Drivers in nine states and the District of Columbia already pay $4 a gallon or more for gas. At the current rate of increase, the national average could reach $4 by May 8, Analysts expect it to start falling later in the month, as refineries return to full production and more gas becomes available.

Gas Prices: Californians Are Mad as Hell but Still Driving

The driver of a white Porsche zips into the Costco gas station in Marina del Rey, Calif., and takes his place in line. It's a Friday afternoon and all 16 of the pumps are taken. At $4.19 per gallon, prices there are among the least expensive on the west side of Los Angeles these days. The Porsche owner, Santa Monica attorney Matt Jones, ends up paying $56 to fill up — $15 more than it would have cost him a year ago, but $10 less than he could have spent last week at a more expensive station in Santa Monica.

End in sight for soft natural gas price as U.S. inventories, production falling

There may be an end in sight for soft natural gas prices that have plagued the industry over the last three years. A U.S. Energy Information Administration report released Thursday showed natural gas inventories this year are lower than expected and now sit at 20% below the fiveyear average.

Iran’s Revolutionary guard gets new gas project

TEHRAN — A consortium connected to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard has been awarded two giant gas development projects.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency quotes Mahdi Fakoor, a senior Oil Ministry official, saying that Khatam-ol-Anbia will develop Halgan and Sefid Baghoon gas fields in southern Iran.

How Syria and Libya Got to be Turkey's Headaches

With neighboring Syria in crisis, the Arab Spring has finally arrived on Turkey's doorstep — and with it, one big headache for a government that has spent recent years staking its political fortunes on the region.

Review of Carl Safina’s “A Sea in Flames,” a post-mortem on the BP oil spill.

Not since Rachel Carson wrote her sea trilogy — “Under the Sea-wind,” “The Sea Around Us” and “The Edge of the Sea” — has a conservationist written about marine ecosystems with the factual elegance of Carl Safina. His 1997 book “Song for the Blue Ocean” jarred readers about the tragic diminution of numerous fish species: bluefin tuna, white marlin, swordfish. All the great runs of these species, he warned, were lurching toward expiration. Safina, a marine biologist, has positioned himself as a protector of the seas, a man in communion with dolphins and whales. Other Safina books have dealt with leatherback turtles, Laysan albatross, shellfish stocks — any and everything that grapples with the health of the world’s oceans.

BP Accident Lives On in Ads

A book by Sinclair Lewis that was published in 1935 has been largely forgotten, except for its chilling title, “It Can’t Happen Here.” That idea provides the premise for a campaign for an advocacy organization that is tied to the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill.

Plains' 200,000 bpd Alberta pipeline spills oil

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A 200,000 barrel per day oil pipeline belonging to a unit of Plains All American Pipeline LP ruptured on Friday, spilling hundreds of barrels of oil, regulators said.

Plains' Rainbow pipeline, which runs from Zama in northwest Alberta 770 kilometers (480 miles) south to Edmonton, sprung a leak at 7:30 a.m. local time.

"It's not a small leak," said Davis Sheremata, a spokesman for Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates pipelines in the province. "It's a significant leak, in the hundreds of barrels."

Energy Information Agency Feels Budget Ax

The federal government’s ability to gather and analyze energy data and produce market forecasts will be significantly impaired by the recently enacted budget cuts, the administrator of the Energy Information Administration said.

Why China Could Prove to be the Better Place for EVs

This week Shai Agassi’s Better Place is realizing a long held dream of moving to a better place to realize electric vehicle battery swapping in lieu of fast charging for the electric car: Guangzhou, China. While Agassi’s electric vehicle battery swapping stations have already launched in far smaller nations: Agassi’s native Israel, and Denmark and Hawaii, it could well be that this launch in China will turn out to be the one that really gives lift-off to the Better Place battery swapping model for the electric car industry.

Peak Oil Aware Biologist John Janovy, Jr. Predicts Future Human Evolution

What Will Human Life Be Like in a Couple of Thousand Years?

Obviously there is no way to answer this question of the title for certain, but we can do a little thought experiment that might suggest some answers. Picture yourself in what is now Israel at the time of Jesus' crucifixion attempting to predict what human life would be like in the year 2010 and you will have a sense of the difficulty in making such predictions. ...

Regardless of specific predictions by various experts, many of whom have personal or political agendas, the historical record is fairly clear. That record tells us two things: (1) you cannot predict technological innovations and developments very accurately or very far in advance, and (2) deteriorating environmental conditions are probably the most important factor in the collapse of civilizations.

New Brazil Policies May Not Prevent Rising Ethanol Prices, Analyst Says

Brazil’s move to assume more authority over the country’s ethanol supply chain may not prevent a repeat of this month’s surge in prices for the renewable fuel, an analyst said.

Johnsonville plant shutdown fuels counties' job fears

TVA’s game-changing plan to shut down parts of its coal-burning power production fleet will mean cleaner air for Middle Tennessee and elsewhere, but it has left at least one community in shock.

Humphreys County, already dealing with an 11.6 percent unemployment rate, could lose as many as 270 jobs with the shuttering of the coal-fired boilers at the Johnsonville plant.

Radiation exposure levels near limit for 2 nuclear plant workers

TOKYO — As the nuclear crisis continues at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, two workers, who were previously hospitalized for possible radiation burns, turned out Saturday to have been exposed to radiation levels close to the limit of 250 millisieverts while seven women in affected areas were found with slightly contaminated breast milk.

IAEA to send team to inspect Fukushima plant in mid-May

VIENNA — The International Atomic Energy Agency plans to send a team to Japan in mid-May to inspect the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, IAEA sources said Friday.

Russia to Keep Nuclear-Energy Expansion Plan to ’Balance’ Mix, Putin Says

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia is keeping its plans to increase the share of nuclear power to have a “balanced” energy industry.

“We need to produce as many units, I mean big units, as in the entire Soviet period,” Putin said at a meeting with trade unions in Penza, central Russia, yesterday. “Our energy should be balanced; it should be based on several sources: nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydro power, wind, solar panels.”

Council for Renewable Energy demands a ban on Nuclear Energy

The World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) demands a global ban on new nuclear power, policies to phase out current plants - and a decisive, immediate move to a 100% renewable world.

The Top 10 Solar States

Here, courtesy of the Solar Energy Industries Association, is a Top 10 list for cumulative installed solar capacity in the United States as of 2010.

Philippines need not forego growth for environment, says World Bank exec

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Like other developing nations, the Philippines does not have to sacrifice growth to save the planet, according to the World Bank's special envoy on climate change.

Andrew Steer, who was on a two-day visit here earlier this week, said the Philippines, a relatively low emitter of greenhouse gases, was not obliged to enact climate-change policies if this would mean the loss of jobs and income.

Europe's top 300 firms get climate-ranked

LONDON (UPI) -- British insurer Aviva ranks the climate-friendliest of 300 large European companies but many companies don't do enough to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, a new study indicates.

Disaster Needed for U.S. to Act on Climate Change, Harvard’s Stavins Says

The U.S. probably won’t take significant steps to curb climate change until an environmental disaster sways public view and prompts political action, Robert Stavins of Harvard University said.

“It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction,” Stavins, director of Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg’s Boston office.

U.S. Net Imports of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products fell below 8 mb/d (7.929) in February. This is the lowest level since February 1996.

Net imports are down 41% since peak (August 2006). ELM in action!


Considering your source (from above):

Energy Information Agency Feels Budget Ax

“Congratulations to those policy makers who thought that cutting the E.I.A. budget would be wise: You’ve managed to lose a few ounces of weight by removing a small sliver of your brain,” Michael Levi, senior fellow on energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the Democratic chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also assailed the cuts, which were proposed by House Republicans.

“The Energy Information Administration is one of the few neutral and credible sources of information on oil and gas prices,” Mr. Bingaman said in a statement. “Right now, Americans need that sort of objective information more than ever.”

“These cuts just make it that much more difficult to chart a national energy policy that addresses real challenges,” he said.

Our new State Senator wants the EIA, even the entire DOE eliminated. He feels that industry is the best source for info and policy. I expect he'll be running for the US Senate, or try to oust Heath Shuler in the House in a few years.

It's like disabling the FQIs (fuel quantity indicators) in a plane. We are flying blind now. I have put it in an image:

EIA terminates updates of International Energy Statistics

Yeah, Matt: "Those who like conspiracy theories might now speculate that this is the latest attempt to cover up peak oil."

At least a convenient time to limit access to inconvenient truths.

Those who like conspiracy theories might now speculate that this is the latest attempt to cover up peak oil

Huh? Nothing's been covering up Peak Oil better than the EIA's forecasts, unles you include the likes of Yergin/CERA and up untill fairly recently, the IEA.

The federal government’s ability to gather and analyze energy data and produce market forecasts will be significantly impaired

Those who have read previous comments of mine on the EIA, know that I think that on the basis of their analysis of energy data and production of market forecasts, the EIA is a colossal waste of US taxpayer money. Maybe they should cut funding for "analysis and forecasts" and stick to reporting of historical data.

On the other hand, if they were to produce analysis and forecasts that most readers here would agree with, they would most certainly get the axe. IMHO their ability to "analyze energy data and produce market forecasts" is not impaired by of any shortcomings in government funding but, the overarching influence of interests that would rather not have the truth be known. A classic case of "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,"

For those who would say "How are you so sure about Peak Oil", my response would be a Jamaican old folks saying, somthing to the effect of, "Don't worry, it's not something that's going away, it's something that's coming." It's the sort of thing one would say when a young lady is showing the first signs of being pregnant but, nobody (except her) knows for sure. Like curiosity about whether or not a particular individual is pregnant, we won't have to wait forever to find out about Peak Oil!

Alan from the islands

Maybe they should cut funding for "analysis and forecasts" and stick to reporting of historical data.

They stopped the reporting of historical data now, because the difference to their previous forecasts would be too obvious.


Is your new state Senator a Republican who favors support for the military industrial complex, including the special weapons complex?

If so, does he or she know that eliminating DOE would eliminate NNSA, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which owns the U.S. special weapons complex?

Further, if the senator is Republican and favors private enterprise/outsourcing government jobs, does he/she realize that most of the people under NNSA purview are contractors?

Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, and all the other production facilities are GOCO entities (Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated).




Saudi king tightens media restrictions

AFP - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has imposed new media restrictions and threatened hefty fines and closure of news organisations allegedly undermining national security, press reports said on Saturday.

Under a decree issued on Friday, the media will be prohibited from reporting anything that contradicts the strict Islamic sharia law or serves "foreign interests and undermines national security."

Media Restrictions elsewhere?

"foreign interests and undermines national security."

Probably the same reasons the Japanese Government is now seriously restricting the outflow of information & hard data on radiation levels & specifics of the Fukushima damage.

For the first couple of weeks after the meltdowns there were lots of hard data on radiation levels & specifics of reactor damage. Now, almost nothing.

Now, almost nothing.

Either its all fixed and there is no problem *OR* one can look to Eddie B's "Propaganda", "The Mighty Wurlitlizer" or even the works of Marshall McLuhan for why controlling bad news is considered a good.

(At reports have Reactor 2 having Criticality in the last week. So much for the "safety" of control rods having been inserted to stop the reaction)

"Reactor 2 having Criticality in the last week."

All I find quickly is a weeks-old meme about green and blue flashes or flares. When #2 runs, is critical, there are no green and blue flashes.

April 2nd. Which is right after April 1st.

Here's one that references a news article:
Links to:
Which is the guy pointing to a surfaced concrete crack.


This is a re-post of an earlier article. The temperatures do not reflect that there is a ongoing criticality going on.

In Unit 2 the indicated temperature at the feedwater nozzle of the reactor pressure vessel is 120.4 °C. The reactor pressure vessel and the dry well remain at atmospheric pressure. On 26 April an amount of 47.5 tonnes of fresh water was injected into the spent fuel pool using the spent fuel pool clean-up system.

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/139577/20110429/fukushima-nuclear-plant-...

Having a momentary critcality is like dropping a turd down in an outhouse.

On another note kurion has been selected to clean up the water.

"Reactor 2 having Criticality in the last week." - Mea Culpa , the report of the criticality was last week.

The Criticality is well past the date when the rods, by safety design, were inserted post earthquake to stop the reaction.


From the link:

"The only possible source of I-131 would be "pockets" of molten core in the Unit 2 RPV settled in such a way that the boron in the injected water is insufficient to stop the localized criticalities."

Does anyone reading know what the geometry and conditions of such a proposed mechanism would be? My understanding is that a melange of fuel-pellets/control-rods/structure is too dilute to allow criticality. Perhaps the materials can separate into layers or something?

Or, better yet, offer a means of having criticality (in a forest of fuel-rods?) (lacking the control elements (melted away?)?) despite a borated moderator? Perhaps it is highly contaminated or dilute?

Ida's allusion is vivid, though cryptic.


There's no other possibilities?

Either everything is A-OK, or it's a coverup and an even worse disaster?

Or possibly, they are sprinting along a cliff edge on loose gravel, carrying a wounded colt.

It's fine until it isn't, and then it could be Really bad.

That's not a bad analogy, actually.

Fortunately the cliff gets shorter the longer they run.

In this week's Market to Market:

The Bernank speaks. Renewable energy jobs. Bad weather kills in the south and threatens crop yields north and south. Meanwhile the commodities bull appears ready to jump over old highs as the dollar tests old lows. And gas prices cut into beef sales.


But the bald eagle babies don't care. They are growing really fast and getting really ugly.


I was wondering how the parents keep the nest so clean. Turns out that the babies stick their butts in the air and fire poop over the edge of the nest. Could hardly believe it when I saw it.

Will Corn Acres Be Enough?

As rains persist across the Midwest, and snow is even expected this weekend in North Dakota, fears are mounting that corn acres may not be enough this year, says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group. That concern starts in the Dakotas, where it was anticipated 35% of the four million-acre increase in corn production would come from. This puts pressure on their corn-producing brethren to the south, who are also experiencing their own planting delays due to continued cold and wet weather.

Could prices go over $10/bushel this year?

Could prices go over $10/bushel this year?

Corn prices started following oil prices in the mid-2000s. This was caused by the expansion in ethanol refineries. So the first way to answer this question is if oil prices will rise 30% this year (Brent at $165-170). If yes, then you will see $10/bushel corn guaranteed.

Now, the second question would be if oil prices did not rise could corn prices rise independently. Probably, but that would result in ethanol refineries shutting down fairly quickly and dropping the price of corn. This would cause a rise in oil prices since roughly 10% of our transportation fuel comes from ethanol. I think this will be an entirely new wrinkle when oil prices also follow corn prices. With Libya offline and Saudi spare capacity to be the stuff of fairy tales, I wonder if a ethanol supply drop might not have a significant effect on global oil prices -- enough to make ethanol re-profitable.

The USDA corn inventory numbers are uncertain and with any upcoming USDA monthly report we could see a panic in the markets if they adjust the numbers downward or demand stays constant. I would put the chances of an independent corn spike this summer at 50-50.

I was videotaping in a PreSchool this week in Portland Maine, and the classroom computer keeps the Eagle Nest Webcam running live and full-frame, so I got to watch those babes and parents quite a bit that day. I thought it was a terrific use for this technology. It's really amazing to get to see this behaviour. (Even if I'm a little sanquine about having our National Symbol in this critter any more.. well,I guess it's appropriate for us Empires. But those babies are really good reminders of how close to a Vulture we've identified our National Persona..)

My wife's family is Iowan, too, so it's good to have a spark of life showing up from over there.


"Cry Havoc, and let slip the Dogs of Frisbee!" A Latter-day Richard, perhaps.. Snoopy the First?

I was wondering how the parents keep the nest so clean. Turns out that the babies stick their butts in the air and fire poop over the edge of the nest.

When you have a place BELOW that nest puts having "wonderful bald eagles" in your backyard in a whole new light. Yes, I have had bald eagle nests in my backyard. One could also say that their voices are not to be confused with songbirds, seagulls on steroids is more like it.

Quality of life of the Chinese and Indians

The latest issue of the New York Review of Books carries an incisive essay by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on India's political economy. Sen goes about it comparing the quality of life in China and India. Indians, of course, are so obsessed with catching up with China’s GDP growth that they overlook that the judicious yardstick ought to be how growth advances living standards and reduces poverty in the two countries. Sen gives a jolt to them.

China beats India hollow with regard to the range of development indices such as life expectancy at birth, infant mortality rate, mortality rate for children under five, nutrition and availability of immunization vaccines for children, mean years of schooling for children, maternal mortality rate, adult literacy rate, etc. India’s “growth mania” presupposes that high GDP growth should have precedence over allocation of resources for social sectors whereas, China is maintaining high growth rate even while paying attention to ‘social objectives’. High growth generates public resources that could be turned into greater allocation for social sectors but this is not happening in India. China spends about 2 percent of its GDP on health care whereas the figure is 1.1 percent for India. This has led to “shameful exploitation [and]...sheer unavailability of health care in many parts of India.”

Yep. India is the posterchild for how a rising tide does not necessarily raise all boats.

As water becomes unavailable in the north and GW really starts ravaging South Asia (last year's Pakistan floods, devastating as they were, is just a foretaste of what is to come), many parts of India will become particularly hellish, especially for the poor.

Far more kids are born per minute in India than in any other country in the world.


ABC TV Catalyst in Australia (a science show) had a story "Oil crunch" including interviews with IEA's chief economist Fatih Birol, ASPO's Prof. Aleklett, Chris Skrebowski from Peak Oil Consulting and Solar Century's Jeremy Leggett.

A short summary with the main statements is on my website

IEA oil crunch warning: governments should have worked on it 10 years ago

Matt. I live in Australia & read your website avidly. I must admit I feel great compassion for you. Your hard work seems to be totally ignored by TPTB who plow on with their dreams of FF funded BAU & horrible remote suburban expansion of the car culture & shopping malls in Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne. What's happening around Campbelltown & Camden in Sydney & Oxenford & Morayfield in Brisbane & Melton in Moulbourne's outer west is nothing short of a horror story. Beautiful Australian countryside in our thin green eastern coastal rainfall belt being bulldozed for horror jam packed suburbs of plastic houses, shopping malls & miles & miles of freeways. We are so dumb in Australia. Hasn't the USA shown the world that this system is a failure? Ours will fail too, but we rush on. In this respect I can't wait for the oil crunch to end this destructive lifestyle.

I grew up in Brisbane in the 1950"s with its wide streets, electric trams & large backyards all with a mango tree or a silky oak. The houses of that time all with high ceilings, wide verandahs & flow through ventilation did not need air conditioning. And to this day I hate air conditioning & do not use it.

(Excluding the wealthy tree lined inner city suburbs) all those cities have deteriorated drastically since then.

The Catalyst report may be a slow step forward on a societal realisation of the situation, not just on PO but the FF Funded social deterioration that results.

Anyhow, thank you for your website.Keep it up.

The U.S. probably won’t take significant steps to curb climate change until an environmental disaster sways public view and prompts political action, Robert Stavins of Harvard University said.

Oh, you mean like 339 dead from tornadoes?

Or maybe $10 corn if we can't get it planted? (I should have seeds in the soil by now, but it's too wet)

Its not just the number of casualties, but the number of tornados reported as over 600 was a record in April as of the 28th (two days to go in the month), more than twice as many as the old record.


I read on another site that national weather service reported April 27th was a record for one day at 137 (can't find link though).

Edit for bad URL

Try this link from NOAA April 2011 tornado information

Its not just the number of casualties, but the number of tornados reported as over 600 was a record in April as of the 28th (two days to go in the month), more than twice as many as the old record.

Here on TOD, just the other day I was commenting regarding climate change, when some poster came back with the notion that these tornados were no greater in number than any average year. So evidently the denialists have their sources too.

I do not think a natural disaster can change the minds of those in denial. Katrina, the Pakistan floods, 07 record arctic melt, the Soviet drought and fires, the Amazon droughts, and now these amazingly powerful and disasterous tornados are not changing minds either.

The only way to move forward from here is to ignore the denialists and just do whatever can be done without them. Somewhat of a hurdle I know because many hold high ranking positions, but there is no other way. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

Many of the denialist sources are Meteorologists not Climatologists. Big difference in skillset! Meterologists do get interviewed extensively.

Funny - nobody believes the weather guys when they say it will be sunny this weekend...

A correction. REAL meteorologists are not climate skeptics. I asked a friend of mine who is one (highly regarded in the field) about the most recent AMA annual meeting in Seattle, and he said pretty much none of the attendees were skeptics.

The "meteorologists" that are skeptics are the TV weathercasters who take a few courses and get a seal of approval or sorts.

I'm glad to hear that not every meteorologist is a TV weatherperson ;)
Unfortunately, it's the TV weatherpeople with 5 minutes of education that consistently appear in the mainstream media.

Oh, you mean like 339 dead from tornadoes?

Less in number than the interaction of man and hurricanes.

Different Realities

I was a speaker at a pesticide applicator seminar in Santa Rosa, CA yesterday. Aside from being a 135 mile trip from my home, it was really moving between two different realities - very rural (me) and urban.

I spend 90+% of my time were I don't see endless streams of traffic. I don't see buildings on end, in fact, I don't even see neighboring houses either (the closest one I can see is on the mountain across from us 5 miles away).

I compare my reality with this other reality and wonder how in the heck these people are going to adapt in the coming years to a collapsing society. My life is serene. For example, I'll work on bucking up a tree for the year after next's firewood. Then I'll burn the unusable branches from the tree along with some other brush. I'll stick out some more cracked corn out for the wild turkeys (and being spring, the males are strutting around all puffed up with their heads aglow in red and blue). Then go down to fix the garden fence where some deer got in yesterday.

Then, in my mind, I revisit the endless streams of cars I saw yesterday. What are these people doing today that will make their lives sustainable as things go down? How will they adapt when their paradigm fails? They certainly don't have the resources I have to draw upon.

It's all kind of sad.


Some of the smart places are building light rail


Oh, and the project is apparently under budget

Sorry, that image is way too big. I replaced it with a link.

I found myself in Denver (Lakewood to be exact) from April 18-21 and on a long walk up through Union Blvd. to Simms street, I saw what appears to be a new light rail line being installed. What I saw looked real nice. Concrete ties, and the line looked like it will be going up to the far western suburbs of Denver along the 6th avenue freeway. I lived in Lakewood in 1972 and 1973 as a kid, but don't remember much of it. What I saw on this last trip looked real nice. Hopefully they can get the light rail installed soon as it looks like we'll be needing it.

Yes, that particular line is scheduled to open in May 2013, and will run from Union Station downtown to the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden. There are some impressive bridges spanning the existing large highways on the western end of the line. Reports from friends (hardly a scientific sampling) in other parts of the metro area where the light rail has been finished give it generally high marks for comfort and reliability.

The overall schedule for the original project called for completion of all the new rail lines by 2018. Decreased tax revenues have created a $2B shortfall in money. The transit district is debating whether and when to request a tax increase to generate the necessary added funding (all tax rate increases in Colorado must be approved by a vote of the affected people). Absent a tax increase, the current forecasts suggest that things wouldn't get finished until 2040-ish, if ever.

I live in one of the inner-ring suburbs. The line that will pass within a couple of miles of my house is scheduled to be finished in 2016. There's a good chance that it will get finished, since -- as I understand it -- they have to finish that line within a certain period or refund a big pot of federal dollars that has already been spent. Essentially, canceling the project costs roughly as much as finishing it, so management will delay/cancel other parts that don't have federal funding yet in order to finish "my" light rail.

Todd,Don't be sad,be thankful that you are peak oil aware.My first brush with PO was in 2005.For about an year or two I was depressed and seeking exit plans to survive the coming catastrophe.Finally I realized that the variables are just too many to factor in.So I decided to enjoy life till the good times last.Don't worry for the zombies.I have been trying to educate people specially the young ones but to no avail.The MTV generation is really going to get blindsided.Just visited a car dealer today.Talked with the owners son(28 years)and asked him if he knew about "peak oil".His question was "Is it a new brand of a synthetic lubricant?"This is in Belgium with a 100% literacy rate.

I guess you could rope me into that generation (I'm 26). I learned of PO just last year and now I'm struggling for some sort of direction in life. I majored in software engineering, but the future... well... I'm still in that depressed phase. There are times when I wish I had never heard of our energy issues. I lurk around here and try to understand what I can.

Ah, don't worry - everyone goes through the 'worry' stage. It'll soon pass and you'll realise there's more to life :-)

I went through that stage in 2003 - 2004....

Now it's just figure, I'll sit back, and watch things unfold.......

And post about the beauty of Trains, light rail and denser cities.

Asunder,Don't feel bad.The first brush is a knockout and no exceptions,but you will come over it.Went for a walk in the park after my earlier posting and poached on four "jongens" between 18-22 and started(tried) to educate(warn) them about PO but they fled as if I had leprosy.Like I always say at the end of my lectures"Don't be scared,be prepared"

A good trick to not getting too uselessly depressed about the future: imagine your own elderly future, and picture explaining to a random kid what you did back in the "good old days" of abundance and ease...

Do you suppose he'd be very impressed to hear that you were depressed, or that you spent most of the time complaining or worrying? Try to enjoy the days as they are, and share smiles whenever possible - it won't always be this easy.

Try to enjoy the days as they are, and share smiles whenever possible - it won't always be this easy.

Almost perversely we may find that a little regression will actually help people to feel more fulfilled in the long run. Less free time to ponder about those missed chances perhaps?

At least, from my own personal experience, Sub-Saharan Africans are some of the happiest people I know of!

There are times when I wish I had never heard of our energy issues.

Now that you are Peak Oil aware you can realize the advantage of current cheap oil and other still available resources. Right now you still have the opportunity to fly across oceans or take a road trip out west.

Also, you now realized the need to always live close to your job. And you know that dramatic changes may come suddenly. This knowledge of the limits to growth will factor into every decision that you make in the future.

So these are interesting times. Personally, I enjoy living in interesting times.

always live close to your job

Which for many people would mean moving every couple of years, if not even more often.
How does one build anything like a community if everybody is a transient?

Oh, your spouse has a job too? Good luck with that.
Finding *2* jobs near each other is damn near impossible.

As employment becomes less and less stable, commutes are getting longer, not shorter.

We got around that by telecommuting, but that is getting harder to do,
as the jobs that can be done remotely are being sent FAR away.

I majored in software engineering, but the future... well... I'm still in that depressed phase.

While the inevitable failure of fission power in Japan has shown how fragile the making of silicon is, there will still be production of small microprocessors for as long as possible.

Learning how to work with 2K ROM and 512 bytes of RAM not only works now, but should still be helpful in the future.

I greatly appreciate all of the kindness from you folks. Keep writing and I'll keep reading.

I too have made attempts at sharing the concepts of energy depletion with those in my age bracket, but it appears an insurmountable task to compete with mainstream media. I brought one friend into "awareness", however he subsequently purchased an SUV and moved into suburbia (at the request of his wife).

Don't be too hard on the poor guy!

We've had Peak branded engine coolant in Canada for quite some time, but Peak Oil has just recently arrived in Canada (well it's the first time I've noticed anyway...). I had never seen Peak Oil until this week's new Canadian Tire flyer arrived (FYI -Peak Oil is a 'Special Buy' this week only, $11.99 a jug, limited quantities and no rainchecks!)

I should note that my sighting is only of Peak Conventional Oil, I've yet to see Peak Synthetic Oil, though I'd gather it will arrive some time after Peak Conventional and it will be priced much higher, lol.

I came up with a new(ish) bumper sticker idea today, built on one or two of my fave taglines,

Picture of a GasPump Handle, emanating one SPARKLING DRIP, and the words ...

"OBEY YOUR THIRST ... GOOD TO THE LAST DROP!" (Maybe Underneath the words I'll have a cartoony Stretch of desert Highway which subtly drops off in a cliff edge at the righthand side...)

I have recently created this for my rear window.
Image of a road warning sign in the yellow diamomnd style with a character holding a petrol pump nozzle like a gun to his head.
"go slower, don't be fuelish save money"

Good thing I have Photoshop.

That's where it opened up

Dang Fred, not too shabby.

Let me know if they sell!

It looks like the truck is just sitting at the edge. Maybe a cloud of dust behind it so that it's clear we're speeding toward the edge?

I think I did mention it was a rough comp, and not a polished final draft...

Jeez, I once worked for a flamboyantly gay Italian art director who was less demanding and they were actually paying me >;^)

And yes, I did think of a cloud of dust.

Hmmph, I eat flamboyantly gay Italian art directors for Lunch!

Now, can you get W.E.C. into the driving seat? :)


They certainly don't have the resources I have to draw upon.

It's all kind of sad.

Sounds like you're enjoying having the perceived upper hand. But ask yourself this; Where do you get your food? How long will the food you have stored last? Will you really be any better off if food becomes scarce? Won't you in fact have to travel farther to get to sources of food? And how will that travel take place in a world of refined oil product scarcity? Won't you in fact be out in sticksville with no transport fuel and no food? That sounds kind of sad.

He grows his own.

Which still leaves you vulnerable to the vagaries of weather and changing climate, but if it unfolds like he thinks it will, he's still better off than most of us.

Whether it will unfold like he thinks it will is a whole 'nother story, of course.

I met a guy in a coffee shop today who's been preparing, put a 50' windtower up the hill from his trailer/camp up in the hills some 5 years back now, plus some other preps, ready for hunting, etc.. and keeps a boat handy and his full-time home closer down to shore, all depending on how the Stuff hits the Fan.. diversify!

Of course, he told me it's '2012' he's worried about, but I didn't tell him he should stop.. We did move the talk off into Insulation and Low-tech Geothermal and such.. otherwise, I'm just glad he's investing in Local Resilience.

Thanks Leanan "He grows his own." But, it's far more than this. I also provide my own water and wood for wood heat. In fact, wood is all we have for heat. If push comes to shove, I'll weld up a wood gas generator for my truck and equipment (read generators - 2kW, 8kW, 23kW). Of course, I have a shop and arc the welder runs off my PV system. But, if it came down I also have a gas welder and can blacksmith.

And, gee, I hunt, fish and trap besides growing veggies and have tree and vine crops. The garden, orchard and vineyard area isn't big, only a couple of acres. I also use native crops like acorns - a most wonderful food source.

And, if it really gets bad, I actually have hand tools to do it all. The last I looked I had 24 hand saws including timber framing saws, a bazillion hammers, a hand plane that can do inside and outside planning and, heck, inside and outside spoke shaves. Of course, I also stock materials for almost everything.

I am reminded of a comment in Desk Set where a character takes on the leader (Kate Hepburn) in the information department. He (Spencer Tracy) says you are taking on more than you know." (paraphrased)

My guess is that the poster you responded to hasn't a chance and cannot accept that he/she will go down.

I avoid posting a link to my top page posting but here it is: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4979 because it sound so conceited. However, it'll give "you" and idea of where I'm coming from.

City people don't have crap. The neither have skill-sets nor tools nor the impetus (at this time) to do what has to be done nor the materials to do what has to be done.

As an aside, the title of my presentation was "Turf Management in Even Tougher Tines." The title of my presentation last year was "Turf Management in Tough Times." It pulled no punches...including FF costs. It was more aggressive this year.


I really wish you would make your point without gratuitous digs at "city people" (that is to say, half the people in the world, maybe more, depending on how you count them). It just plecks people off, and tends to close minds against you, rather than open them.

I really wish you would make your point without gratuitous digs at "city people" (that is to say, half the people in the world, maybe more, depending on how you count them). It just plecks people off, and tends to close minds against you, rather than open them.

Ok, Leanan, what skill-sets do you have that would be of interest to me (and the rest of those "city" people I post about and piss off)? You grew up in the Islands with an agro father but you don't know anything about growing crops where I live. And, the rest of the city people have little to offer. Sure, I could teach you and them but why should I? I don't "need" you or the rest of those people because until I "teach you/them" you/they are a useless mouth to feed. No one cares if I live or die and that applies to those "city people" I post about.

And, let's talk about the reality that I have limited resources even with 57 acres.

I realize this sounds very Ayn Randian but that isn't my gut belief...but it's the only way to approach a society whose paradigm is dead. I am fed up with people who talk the walk but never do it. I have had it with warm-fuzzy crap from organizations that spout this stuff. I've been there and done that as not only a participant but also, in many cases, as a "board" member.

One of the comments I got after my presentation from attendees was that the "suits" want to have the area around the administration area to look good because they want they want to present an "image." My presentation was that "everyone", including the suits should share the "pain". This is exactly what is going on in society. The suits in public agencies and the MSM are a bunch of lying turds who want to present an "image".

So, let's go back to "city people". So, what do you want me to say to them/you? I'm here to help you even though you are worthless to me? Now, I would be accepting if a family came up to me and said, "Look, we can't survive without your help and we will bust our asses until we can pull our own weight." But, that isn't what is happening.

I have a whole lot more but I'll let it go at this.


I don't consider myself to be a city person.

And I didn't grow up in Hawaii. I grew up all over the world.

In any case, it's not about me. It's about the tone of the discussion here.

Why do you have to say anything at all to or about city people? If you can't at least be civil, don't say anything at all.

I don't want the discussion here to deteriorate into "Haha, you're gonna die when TSHTF." "No, you are!"

For whatever the h#$% it could possibly be worth, I have great respect both for both of you, T and L. I am a 'city person' but I think that it is unlikely that most city people will make it through the next ten years, but then I rather doubt that most people anywhere will make it through through this period.

As a student of deep history, I am well aware that there were precious few cities larger than 1 million people before the age of cheap ff that were not centers of empire. But I am also a close enough follower of folks like d. orlov to know that some of the most horrific scenes during collapse were played out in isolated, rural locals.

Let's all get the h#$% over ourselves and our random petty fears and admit that no place is any kind of f'n guarantee of any safety or security, no matter how much any of us think we are prepared.

But having said all that let me just add:

""Haha, you're gonna die when TSHTF.""

But I am also a close enough follower of folks like d. orlov to know that some of the most horrific scenes during collapse were played out in isolated, rural locals.

Yes, the Argentina guy said similar things. He didn't think either city or rural was the way to go. He thought a small town or suburban area was best.

Let's all get the h#$% over ourselves and our random petty fears and admit that no place is any kind of f'n guarantee of any safety or security, no matter how much any of us think we are prepared.

I think that's quite difficult for many people. I'd go so far as to say we evolved to believe we have more control over our actual situations than we have.

I'd go so far as to say we evolved to believe we have more control over our actual situations than we have.

Yes. Further, I think it's pretty likely that the optimism bias is now rather less adaptive, for the species, than it has been through most of our evolution.

Well, optimism is contingent on where you place your bets, emotional or otherwise. If you are betting on current social institutions to self-correct and/or give proper guidance, then, well, you better call your broker. Our decision making systems are ossified, outdated and based on faulty logic. So you should expect nothing less than a social train wreck with continuing and increasing dysfunction.

When I see polls that opinions of social institutions are at all-time lows, globally, I consider that progress and something to be optimistic about. Same goes for stock market crashes and banks going out of business. Progress.

No one cares if I live or die and that applies to those "city people" I post about.

First off... I care, even if no one else does, which I highly doubt. Personally, I find your story and comments inspiring, rather than insulting. I am constantly seeing words of wisdom in your posts, ideas on skills to learn or property improvements that I might make, and inspiration to take another step towards increasing the chance that my family might live to survive through hard times. This is coming from someone who grew up as a "city person" but has moved to a more rural setting.

I see a lot of "sharp sticks" poked Todd's way over the fact that he has done a lot of hard work to create a sustainable homestead. Personally, I'd love to have him for a neighbor. Can you imagine how nice it would be to live in an area where a bunch of people were all willing to bust their tails to survive through hard times? I can't think of a better place to try to make a go at it, certainly not in the middle of a huge city, like Los Angeles, etc.

Sure, someone could come with evil intent to take the fruit of his labor, but guess what, it is probably 50x more likely that folks will be breaking down doors and/or randomly shooting others in the cities if it ever were to get that bad. If times do in fact get that bad, the term "neighborhood watch" takes on a different meaning on isolated country roads.

Regardless, Todd sees a bleak future and is preparing for it in the way he thinks is best, and that should be inspiring to everyone, even if you disagree on how the hard times will play out. No need to take it personal, even if you are a "city person", like I am. I've got a heck of a lot to learn and I need a good kick in the rear every now and then to keep me motivated. The lesson is clear, prepare yourself and your family for the future that you expect, and start learning skills now that might help you later.

Good luck with your plans, whatever they might be.

I like Todd's posts, too, which is why I asked him to tone it down, rather than just removing it.

He often posts long, interesting comments, with a line or two at the end as Heisenberg describes. This gives me the choice of removing the post, good and ill, or letting the discussion turn into sharp sticks jabbing everywhere. I've had to remove a lot of his posts lately, and I'd really rather not.

I don't recall EVER hearing someone poking him with sticks for his preparations, aside from the possible jab that says he's as vulnerable as anyone else..

No, he gets tagged for this particular splutter that gets dropped into these posts. I'm not offended by the comments, just a little perplexed at what I see as a blindspot in him. I'm sure I've got just as big a snit about 'rich people' or something, though I try to remember how many folks have surprised me by not being as caged by my Pigeonholes as I expected.

"I've been to the city and back again,
been moved by some things that I've learned.
Met a lot of good people and I've called them friends;
felt the change as the seasons turned."

- RIVER , Bill Staines

I'm not offended by the comments, just a little perplexed at what I see as a blindspot in him.

Airdale used to post about how the city folk were not gonna survive because they could not forage like he could.

What the 'county mice' don't understand about the 'city mice' is they are both mice. And the little rodents will move from place to place eating what they can find. Thus a 'forage' POV is a strip the land bear position.

Cities provide a concentration of labor, means of production and markets. And in more than a few places the seats of government. The governmental position will remain "You Need Us" up until the end and on that the governments will take from wherever they can to stay in that control position.

People in cities have far more to worry about from containment plans developed by sociologists where the exit points are blocked off by force as shown in parts of Katrina.

What the 'county mice' don't understand about the 'city mice' is they are both mice. And the little rodents will move from place to place eating what they can find. Thus a 'forage' POV is a strip the land bear position.

Um, minor nit, is the 'Stripped Land Bear Position' described in some kinky book somewhere? Sorry, couldn't resist >;^)

From: Peak Oil Aware Biologist John Janovy, Jr. Predicts Future Human Evolution, linked up top.

[Janovy ends the book with a five million year prediction of Homo sapiens:]

...it's not too difficult to conjure up an extremely intelligent and cunning little brown primate, perhaps the size of a squirrel, eating rodents and insects, cultivating certain plants, protecting itself with deadly natural poisons on hair-thin darts, sitting around tiny fires singing magically beautiful quiet songs and telling novels to adolescent children the size of today's mice.

What neither country mice nor city mice (they're excused) nor primates, seem to be able to grasp is that we are all of us (all living species) products of an ongoing interactive complex and dynamic process called evolution. As our environment changes those populations that are better adapted will survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. And evolution doesn't give a mouse's A$$, whether Homo imbecilicus or any other species does or does not survive.

All I can say, is, I hope to hell that those mice sized adolescent primates will not be getting tiny driver's licenses...


I miss Airdale.

"Airdale used to post about how the city folk were not gonna survive because they could not forage like he could."

At least Airdale usually managed to say stuff like that without being furiously and gratuitously insulting...

And yes, the country mice will be needing things like doctoring and dentistry, all the more so since farming can be dangerous, with bones getting broken and infections setting in, and more so still because in a doomy scenario a lot of present-day time- and resource-consuming safety precautions would be bypassed. They'll also be needing help while the broken bones or infected sites heal. And even in a Kunstleresque doom scenario, they'll be needing stuff (in limited quantities) like smelted metals and blacksmithing. This sort of stuff has been done - at least in part - by specialists for millennia, since long before fossil fuels. After all, very few of our rural mice, or their descendants, will ever be, say, hammering out their next plow from iron smelted in the backyard from ore dug up in the backyard, if for no other reason than that there simply is no useful iron ore in most backyards.

There were certainly cities before ff came along. But not many over 1 million pop.

I am agnostic as to whether some change in technology or in anything else has changed that will allow for very large cities (that aren't the centers of empires) as ff's become less and less available or practical.

"Large," of course, is relative.

Since it's likely that total human population will decrease (or, perhaps, collapse) as FF and other resource peaks come and go, it would be reasonable to expect that cities will, on average, have smaller populations, also.

Just as it would be reasonable to expect that rural populations will be reduced.

It is fairly certain, however, that, without urban centers, there will be nothing resembling civilization, because it is entirely dependent upon cities. (Note: One could make an argument that some of the functions of cities could be, and have been, replaced by high-speed transportation and telecommunications, but both of those factors are highly resource- and energy-dependent.)

Highly-recommended reading:

The City in History

Yep, Mumford's the man. By large I mean over 1 million people.

And yes, etymologically "civilization" and "city" are from the same root.

But there were times in Western History when much of what we would consider civilization was preserved in small rural enclaves, namely monasteries--I'm talking about the early and mid middle ages in Ireland, northern England and a few other places.

I'm not sure there can be much more of a decrease in rural population without the whole ag system crashing. What do you think of Astyk's "50 million farmers" idea of repopulating the country.

...much of what we would consider civilization was preserved in small rural enclaves, namely monasteries...

You're right, but I would probably say that what was preserved were the seeds of civilization, rather than the thing itself. One can imagine it happening again.

A Canticle for Leibowitz

I'm not sure there can be much more of a decrease in rural population without the whole ag system crashing. What do you think of Astyk's "50 million farmers" idea of repopulating the country.

Well, so many of our current rural residents (in the overdeveloped world) aren't farmers in any meaningful sense; rather they're living mostly on money/energy flows from elsewhere, and wasting an incredible amount of energy and resources in the process. OTOH, it's pretty clear that we cannot maintain agricultural production, for anything approaching our current population, in an FF-constrained world with the handful of workers oil-fueled agribusiness has retained.

The "nation of farmers" idea is one of the good ones floating around, IMHO--one of the pieces of a puzzle that could come together to provide a softer landing than we otherwise likely face.

Like so many of our good ideas that involve abandoning BAU, I haven't seen much evidence that it's gaining traction. I hope I'm wrong (and I'll keep working to make myself wrong, cuz I'm hardwired that way) but I don't see the humans making such fundamental changes before it's too late.

Cities prior to the 1800s used to have negative population pressure from poor sanitation. Plagues were common. They used to keep their population up by people moving in from the countryside.

With our understanding of sanitation and disease control and prevention, cities with largish populations should be easier to maintain (although nothing like our current metropolises). The limitations will be from the expense of transporting food in from farther and farther away, and the availability of water. Rome had a million people ... until barbarians trashed all the aqueducts. The population dropped to 50k (I think? .. something like that anyway) for many centuries, until the water supply started was rebuilt by later civilizations.

If your city's water supply is not gravity-fed, you should plan on it becoming a lot smaller.

I suspect the real problems will arise if and when the electrical grid starts to experience major problems. Food prices can rise a fair bit for transportation, and rail is available to keep that cost growth down. But nothing will help people in 10+ story buildings when the elevators don't work. Or large populations in areas that are not livable without air conditioning. Imagine Atlanta or Phoenix with no power for even a week in the summer!

We should make an oil drum town like you described, Rune. Somewhere very isolated. I'd move my family there in an instant. May be the best chance we have

Heh, an oil drum town... we'd spend too much time talking about stuff and not enough time getting the work done. =)

The basic point is valid, no man(woman) is an island. No matter how prepared you are, you can't prepare for every possibility. This is where some people get caught up in the perfect being the enemy of the good however. Just because you can't prepare for everything doesn't mean that you should throw up your hands and prepare for nothing. Sure, the mob might come and take your supplies, but are you better off if you don't have any supplies in the first place? I think not.

All a person can do is make as many preparations as they can, and hopefully, their neighbors will do the same. There is strength in numbers, but only if everyone is willing to work. If I can trade food and supplies with my neighbors, we can all make it through, but it depends on everyone individually doing their part. Since I can't control what my neighbors do however, all I can do is try to do as much as I can possibly can and hope that its enough.

That being said, I still want to live next door to Todd though. =)

I mentioned Todd's unusual hostility to my wife. She said, maybe the city is extending out in his direction and he's feeling threatened?

Hmmm. Many years ago I lived in Northern California. I haven't paid real close attention, but I know from references Todd's made that he's somewhere around Ukiah, maybe Leggett or Laytonville.

I can remember when Ukiah was a spot in the road. There was nothing there, just a little place with a gas station on the highway and a couple streets. The last time I was there I was astonished, and horrified, by the tremendous amount of growth and development. It was almost unrecognizable. And that was years ago.

Perhaps not such a safe haven anymore...



I realize this sounds very Ayn Randian but that isn't my gut belief...

On the contrary, Todd, I'm quite sure that is your gut belief, whether you admit it to us (or to yourself) or not. Every electron you dispatch makes it perfectly clear.

I envy your set up and was on the path to do something along those lines myself a couple of years ago. kudos to you.

That said....perhaps you don't "need" city people, but surely you recognize that what you have is a result of city people? The concentration of resources that allowed the building of PV systems (not bolting them together...truly designing and making them), generators, etc., only happened because of specialization and arguably density of folks in cities.

I have a modest store of food and supplies. And even a few fruit and nut trees. When some guy with different morals than me comes and points a gun at my head and takes my stuff, I expect he will say "I don't need you".

but here's to hoping it doesn't come to that!


Not quite where you are but close enough as to preps. regardless, the smugness will go if there is a fire which is likely in N Calif. Just don't ask for help when the tress start candling on those 120 plus days. Someone might just say, oh there's just one house over there...not worth the resources. We better save the town.

We are all in this together and no islands truly exist. Ask the natives of NA...they'll tell you.


I don't really understand Todd and all the other people who think we will have Mad Max, collapse of civilization in the US, we will be reduced to barter, city folks will die, etc, etc.

Folks, here is some perspective: India has 1.2 billion people and consumes only 3 mbpd; the US has 300 million people and consumes 20 mbpd. Even if US imports drop to zero - which is unlikley - the US will still have 9 mbpd to consume. So even after no more oil can be imported, the US per capita consumption will be 12 times India!

Do you see Mad Max in India? Do you see a collapse of civilization in India? Do you see people reduced to barter? No, what you see is a country where two thirds of the people are dirt poor. The top 300 million people (that is the total population of the US) in India have a reasonably good standard of living with the whole country consuming just 3 mbpd.

What I see happening in the US is following:
1. With time more and more people will lose their affluent lifestyle. This is mostly because of excessive debt, wage arbitrage made possible by cheap bandwidth and peak oil.
2. The US $ will continue to drop as "The Bernank" continue to print money to buy treasury bonds that no one else will buy. This will again contribute to a loss of standard of living.
3. Eventually we will have a new equilibrium; the US $ will lose half of its value, the debt will be paid via money printing or defaults and it will no longer make sense to outsource jobs.
4. 20 years from now, the US will no longer be a superpower. It will look like a less crowded and somewhat more affluent version of today's India. By that time the top half of the population will drive electric or hybrid or small super efficient diesel cars. The bottom half of the population will ride scooters, small motorcycles, bicycles or use public transportation or walk.
5. If you are in the top 5% of the population and manage to stay there, you will not see a big change in your lifestyle; just a gradual deterioration of infrastructure and government services with time.

Much of the pain can be mitigated as follows:
1. Make drastic cuts to the Pentagon budget; shut down all foreign bases, end all wars and bring the troops home. Stop trying to prop up Fannie May/Freddie Mac. They are dead anyway, pull the plug on the ventilator.
2. Make a list of countries from which the US makes critical imports (e.g. Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia)
3. Default on treasury bonds held by countries that are not on the critical list. This will have the additional benefit of making oil cheap again (at least for a decade or so) as the Asian economies crash.
4. Impose tariffs on imports if necessary to help domestic industry.

I think the concern is that it's not so much to do with the magnitude of the transition but the speed.

Panic = unpredictable behaviour.

While I think your comparisons are a little fuzzy, I think you're making an important point. One similar to the one that Stuart made a couple of days ago and Don makes below. Contraction does not equal collapse. There may be breakpoints that lead to collapse: economic, political, sociological, environmental, or technical. But those breakpoints are not clearly identified.

In a similar vein, I think that people forget that a concept such as "contraction" is one made against a statistically large set. Even if US GDP begins contracting, there are still 300 million individual economic storylines being played out. Many people will be getting rich. A few more will be getting poorer. The keys to success are going to change little: what you know, who you know, the right place at the right time, attitude, and luck. Try not to "fall off the boat", over time it will be harder and harder to get back on. Of course, that's always been true. Will we individually be able to distinguish "US contraction" from the "natural" contraction that occurs in careers and health as we each age? Perhaps not, if contraction is a multi-generational event.

As you point out, suyog, even if the US were suddenly required to rely solely on domestic supplies (assuming that did not snap a breakpoint), there is enough to go around. Commercial transportation and agriculture will be given prioritized access to fuel. The rest of us will learn to car-pool - no matter how unappealing and un-American that activity is considered.

I think people underestimate the resilience of our economic *structure*, even in the face of decline. I often feel that the political reactions to economic contraction may be more problematic than the economic ones.

For now, collapse scenarios built around ill-defined breakpoints are more about gut-feelings than hard-nosed analysis.

Contraction does not equal collapse.

Well, perhaps not for everyone, just the vast majority of mankind.

Energy and Human Evolution

People who believe that a stable population can live in balance with the productive capacity of the environment may see a slowdown in the growth of population and energy consumption as evidence of approaching equilibrium. But when one understands the process that has been responsible for population growth, it becomes clear that an end to growth is the beginning of collapse. Human population has grown exponentially by exhausting limited resources, like yeast in a vat or reindeer on St. Matthew Island, and is destined for a similar fate.

The idea that the economy can contract without massive unemployment is just not feasible. And when you get really massive unemployment the system starts to break down. Unemployment, beyond a certain point, leads to more unemployment because the consumer base shrinks, no one buys anything. The economy becomes unstable and social programs break down. When that happens there is no predicting what will happen. There could be riots and total anarchy.

There can be no such thing as a sustainable contracting economy. Well, except in fantasy land. One can imagine just about anything. But a contracting economy means everything must contract, social security, medicare, fire and police protection and everything else. More and more people are thrown out of work in the face of an ever growing population.

Saying that contraction does not equal collapse is easy, it really rolls easy off the tongue, explaining how it would work is an entirely different matter. Yes, sooner or later, contraction equals collapse!

Ron P.

"Sooner or later"--quite so. But IMHO it is going to be later. My views are similar to those of John Michael Greer.

The problem with talking about collapse is that most people automatically associate collapse with the end result; when everything has already fallen apart. Collapse is actually a long process and its beginnings are imperceptible, its progress slow as it undermines foundations, weakens structures and eats away at the very fabric of society.

We're already in the midst of collapse, probably have been for 10 years or even longer. Perhaps historians will conclude it began in the 1960s. The thing is that it is very difficult for us, in the midst of collapse, to actually perceive it consciously, especially with the long time spans involved. Subconsciously, however, we do perceive the fact that things keep failing and are never put right. After each crisis we seem to be worse off rather than better off. Psychologically we feel it, even though we cannot cognitively put a finger on why.

So not "sooner or later", but "now".

All right, "now," I agree with that. To me the nation has been declining since about 1949, back when the streetcars still ran. In other words, I think that decline (beginning with moral decay) began long before Peak Oil. But declining net exports of oil are going to bring a stairstep down to a lower level of living for almost all Americans--one that will be visible and undeniable.

Human population growth is not growing exponentially. You could say it appeared exponential for a period, but then changed. So, it's actually nothing like yeast in a vat or reindeer. Population growth deceleration is happening, and has been happening for nearly half a century. The highest population growth year was in the 1960s(2.2% annualized growth) and then took a sharp turn downwards(when energy consumption per capita was skyrocketing); it has been in decline, since, to under 1.2% annualized. The latest trend research suggests that the decline is happening FASTER than was thought even just 10 years ago. We will probably go into decline (negative growth) before mid-century REGARDLESS of resource availability. So the analogy is seriously flawed.

Second, you could say the process had a permissive effect for rapid population increases due to declining death rates without the accompaniment of declining birth rates, but that is not saying much. Both of those declines occur with general development, but the first occurs first (leading to population increase), and the second lags behind. It took a while (and is STILL taking a while) for the second to get up enough of a head of steam to get ahead of the population curve. Hence it LOOKED for a while like increased resources are causing a disastrous, uncontrollable population explosion,(but that is just silly outdated Malthusian logic) when in reality what is happening is a death-rate-decline "explosion", followed over decades (or half-centuries) by a fertility-decline "explosion", of which (thankfully) we're now in the midst.

Third, the idea that we need all the energy we use, with the needless massive waste and useless allocations, is pure junky mentality - which is the essence of our economic system.

But you'll get no argument that the system is headed for economic collapse. File that under "no ****". It's a crap system anyway. Good riddance. The sooner, the better off we will be.

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

-Bucky Fuller

This is a real question...without a job, how do I pay for my living space and my food and clothing?

Same for at least a modest amount of electricity and maybe NG...

If the answer is: Everyone (all ~ 309 Million in the U.S.) can grow their own food and use wood for heat...that doesn't pass the sniff test.

then you go to the soviet model where they gave( sort of) people a very small concert apartment and a garden spot and people walked everywhere.

This is a real question...without a job, how do I pay for my living space and my food and clothing?

Yeah, that working for a wage thing is not going to work out for us. Well, not if we want any semblance of sanity it's not. That's pretty obvious.

"without a job, how do I pay"

A world model experienced since infancy is quite convincing.
Land ownership came with that model. A bathroom, too.
Stepping out of that model is terrifying.
I did it. Others do it. Citizens are being forced out, too.
It is beautiful and free.
Only a crazy woman will follow you.
Not without a community.
So community becomes the real problem.
Though my crazy woman can be fun.

"all ~ 309 Million in the U.S."

Take the freeway. It's a parking lot, sometimes.
Get off onto surface streets. They may flow freely by.
That's because everyone is on the freeway.
It is supposed to be faster.

Try another life as a hobby of sorts.
Just visit. Nothing extreme. No heavy privations.
It will remove some of the fear.

Rather poetic...thank you.

I have talked with my wonderful wife about the possibility of a breakpoint/change in three or so years after both our children have graduated college and are potentially poised to fly the coop.

I said that I do not want to be working on the computer in my current line of work when I am 60...like some of the folks I work with.

We shall see...I am not a lone wolf...I will honor my wife's wishes when considering these important life choices.

If you look at a chart of human population growth, it is the perfect example of a hockey stick. Call it anything you like it was still a population explosion. And no, human population will not grow at anything like that rate ever again, it will in fact shrink.

Hence it LOOKED for a while like increased resources are causing a disastrous, uncontrollable population explosion,(but that is just silly outdated Malthusian logic) when in reality what is happening is a death-rate-decline "explosion",...

And what on earth caused that death-rate-decline? Why did it not happen 200 years earlier? Why did the death rate decline coincide exactly with the onset of fossil fuels? Could the reason be increased resources? Could it be modern medicine made possible by a massive increase of cheap energy? Could it be fewer people people suffering malnutrition related diseases? Good God man, don't you realize that better fed people live healthier and longer lives?

The population began exactly when fossil fuels came into wide use. It began with coal. Coal brought the beginning of the industrial revolution and more employment for the masses. Then the population explosion really took off when oil came on the scene. Yes, there is no doubt about it, the increase in resources, fossil fuel in particular, caused the disastrous, uncontrollable population explosion. The population exploded because fossil fuels enabled it to do so!

Ron P.


First mass produced in the 18th C. Can be mass produced without fossil fuels.

Well... maybe if you have an abundance of wood ash to leach.

OTOH, the way we do it now relies rather heavily upon techno-industrial processes:



Also, of course, in a resource-constrained environment, food demand will compete for the the vegetable and animal fats essential for the process.

But, no question, hygiene is an important contributor to health and longevity.

Was that a major factor in the big jump in Chinese population from ~100 m to ~400 m between ~ 1400 and ~1800? Any Chinese historians out there? It seems to me that there wasn't too much ff being used there during those centuries. So what was it? Just the expected thing at that stage of civilization?


Faster maturing varieties of rice were introduced which expanded the area where two crops of rice could be produced each year. The practice of double-cropping was extended to other grains. Higher yielding varieties of the grains were developed, and irrigation was improved and extended.

Thanks, M. That fits in with what I understand helped prompt the increase in population in north and western Europe--agricultural innovation. Especially growing things like turnips on otherwise non-arable land, mostly to feed to livestock.

So ag innovations started the big spurt in extra available food and so increased growth of pop before ff's really came on the scene.

Could further ag innovations such as permaculture help cushion the blow on the way down?

From 1492 on there was also the introduction of a variety of valuable American crops to European agriculture. These included maize, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, etc. Cassava, peanuts and sweet potatoes wer also spread around the tropics of Africa and Southeast Asia.

Graphs of the Population Increase over the Last 500 Years shows that the "hockey stick" is most pronounced recently in China, India, Africa, and South America than in Europe and the US. Since the fast growing areas are the ones using least oil per capita, the explanation is mostly agricultural and medical innovation, rather than energy-based population growth.

Since the fast growing areas are the ones using least oil per capita, the explanation is mostly agricultural and medical innovation, rather than energy-based population growth.

Do you actually believe that agricultural and medical "innovation" are not almost wholly-dependent upon FF inputs (energy and feedstocks)?

Per India Energy Portal - Agriculture in 2004, about 52 million barrels of diesel were used by Indian agriculture. This is for a country with a population around 4 times that of the US, where we are using about 14 million barrels of crude oil per day.

So no, agriculture as it is practiced in Asia and Africa to feed the majority of the worlds population is not particularly fossil fuel intensive. It is done mostly by hand, using draft animals, and using what would pass for garden tractors or tillers in the US.

Much of the reduction in death rate among children is due to better sanitation and immunization, neither of which are very energy intensive.

Yep, I think it's water shortage, climate chaos and just sheer population that will put India at the center of pain in the coming decades.

One point to keep in mind is that most of India's population are used to living very close to the land with traditions that go back millennia. There is and has been massive suffering, but there are also skills and traditions that help many through tough times.

In the US, many urban AND rural people are ignorant about how to make either a farm or a community work. An adjustment down from a high spot can be much harder psychologically and in other ways that a hard life you have always had, that you have skills and habits to cope with vicissitudes, and that might get a bit better.

That's why I hope for and am working toward a more vibrant and widespread transition movement.

If change is embraced, all sorts of less than completely awful possibilities arise, whether you are in an urban or rural setting.

But I think it likely that political, financial, and ultimately climate chaos will wipe away all of our best laid plans. We will, in the words of the old Jackson Brown song, 'be confused/ by the magnitude of the fury in the final hours.'

...in 2004, about 52 million barrels of diesel were used by Indian agriculture... So no, agriculture as it is practiced in Asia and Africa to feed the majority of the worlds population is not particularly fossil fuel intensive.

Too much of a stretch, Merrill. You make an unjustifiably broad claim based on an isolated, narrow, observation.

Pesticide and fertilizer use? 30 years of huge government subsidies for fertilizer?

Increasing food imports (e.g., millions of tons of wheat, annually) despite the above?

Increased demand and the soaring price of hydrocarbons, the main ingredient of many fertilisers, have taken India's annual subsidy bill to more than $US20 billion ($22.2bn) last year, from about $US640m in 1976.


Import and Export

Agricultural Exports

Agricultural exports have shown an increase from around Rs.60 billion in 1990 - 91 to Rs.398 billion in 2005-06. The Government's special efforts to encourage export of food grains in recent years through grant of World Trade Organization or WTO compatible subsidies has lead to India becoming one of the leading exporters of food grains in the international market

Agricultural Imports

The imports of agricultural products improved from Rs.12 billion in 1990 - 91 to Rs.220 billion in 2005- 06. The share of agri-imports to total merchandise imports in 2005-06 was 4.59 percent. Edible oil is the single largest agricultural product imported into the country and accounts for around two-thirds of the total agricultural imports.

India appears to be a net exporter of food.

You keep doing this: popping out factoids and pretending they somehow prove whatever overbroad claim you previously made.

It's not possible to have honest discussions this way, so I'm finished with you.

I'm not the one making the overly broad generalization that agriculture around the world is dependent on high inputs of fossil fuels.

Most of the world's 7 billion people eat food that is produced fairly close to where they live. Most of the areas of the world use meager amounts of fossil fuels to support their agriculture, in part because other areas with low populations, like the US, use most of the fossil fuels.

Indian food is completely dependent on natural gas or naptha for a source of urea that is used to make fertilizer.

Fertilizer use by crop in India

Fertilizer consumption in India has increased significantly in the last three decades. Total NPK (N, P2O5 and K2O) consumption increased nine-fold (from 2 million to 18 million tonnes) between 1969/1970 and 1999/2000. Per-hectare NPK consumption increased from 11 to 95 kg in the same period.

Report on Indian fertilizer production

Nearly 47 per cent of the total existing urea capacity is
through natural gas while naphtha and fuel oil account for 32 per cent and
11 per cent respectively. Thus, 90 per cent of the total urea capacity is
based on hydrocarbon feed stocks and the remaining 10 per cent on


The Haber process now produces 100 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer per year, mostly in the form of anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, and urea. 3–5% of world natural gas production is consumed in the Haber process (~1–2% of the world's annual energy supply).[1][14][15][16] That fertilizer is responsible for sustaining one-third of the Earth's population,

At 3-5% of natural gas production, agriculture is not using a lot of energy for nitrogen fertilizer production.

Note also that natural gas is not in short supply, while oil is not a big input to nitrogen fertilizer production. China uses coal for urea production.

India switched to using more naptha because of their limited natural gas resources and natural gas is in short supply in most regions around the world. Maybe due to these factors, fertilizer production plateaued in India in 2000. Not surprisingly so did yields. Take away the fossil fuels and over 90% of their population goes poof since their soil has been so degraded by the artificial practices.

Crop yield in India stagnant

Irish and the potato?

Anything that makes more food makes more people. There is no "curing hunger".

Scarace O' Tatties

India imports a lot of energy.
India is not a self sufficient isolated island, it has vital connections to the world. Globalization has created a monster and there can only be losers on the downslide, especially while we keep looking for positives on a finite world consuming and polluting itself to death.

India's high population growth results in increasingly impoverished and sub-standard conditions for growing segments of the Indian population. As of 2007, India ranked 126th on the United Nations' Human Development Index, which takes into account social, health, and educational conditions in a country.

You possibly should google famines in India

Famine has been a recurrent feature of life in the Indian sub-continental countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and reached its numerically deadliest peak in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Historical and legendary evidence names some 90 famines in 2,500 years of history


Do you actually believe that agricultural and medical "innovation" are not almost wholly-dependent upon FF inputs (energy and feedstocks)?

Yes, but! How much FF input is required to maintain them? I'd say with decent management/leadership only a few percent of the current amount. Its not like we don't have a chance in Haades, its just that we will probably muff that chance.

A contraction can take you to a new equilibrium which is below today's equilibrium. There will be a lot more poverty and underemployment. When the US $ declines, it will not be lucrative to send jobs abroad. A new protectionist government may impose tariffs to protect US jobs. We will have a collapse of consumer economy which is not the same thing as a collapse of civilization.

A contraction can take you to a new equilibrium which is below today's equilibrium.

e·qui·lib·ri·um –noun,

1. a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.
2. equal balance between any powers, influences, etc.; equality of effect.

There is no such thing as "today's equilibrium". We have always had growth except when we had a decline in GDP. All those declines were known as "recessions" except one. That one was known as "The Great Depression". But never have we had an equilibrium. It has always been either growth or recession.

But when oil production starts to decline, it will decline forever! That, in no stretch of the imagination can be described as an equilibrium.

When thing start to go to hell, when the consumer economy collapses as you put it, there will be no consumption except for a small percentage of the population who are able to take what they need by force. You may not call that a collapse of civilization but it will be, fore sure, the collapse of civilization as we know it.

Ron P.


Very strictly speaking, you are correct: The economy is not in equilibrium and never has been. Yet economics is mainly about equilibria, both micro and macroeconomics. One of the big insights of recent decades of economic thinking is that a macroeconomy can have multiple equilibrium points. For example, today there may be an equilibrium of 20% unemployment, but tomorrow that could change to another equilibrium of 30% unemployment.

IMO, the economy is going to change to equilibria of higher and higher rates of unemployment. Hence the importance of the "P" in westexas's ELP prescription: Economize, Localize, and PRODUCE. The greatest hardships over the next ten to twenty years I think will be in increasing unemployment rates. The employed will see standards of living falling substantially, but the unemployed are going to get very small slices of a declining cake.

In ancient Rome they gave out bread and free circuses to keep the proletariat contented; now it will probably be food stamps and free (or very cheap) cable or satellite TV. As civilization goes down the tubes the masses will be munching junk food while watching porn or Fox News.

"masses will be munching junk food while watching porn or Fox News"

That sound pretty much like most of (the vanishing) middle and (growing) lower class life in America today--add sports to the circus as well, though.

I think you hit the nail right on the head... But, to most of us, it's not such a pretty picture.

I doubt Americans will be eating each other in the next 10 or 20 years, if so, I like drumsticks, but..., the pacific northwest has a lot of water, MOVE, and the heartland produces tons of food.

I'm more worried about reactions to decline in the American lifestyle, political instability.

BTW, that 9 Mb/d is in decline and I am sure whatever the number is in 10 or 20 yrs, it will not be 9 Mb/d.


Sorry, Leanan, but I thought Todd's "City people" comment was entirely apposite. The 50% of the world's population that live in cities are in a highly vulnerable position should there be one of any number of potential disasters. Three days to food riots, etc. Also the vast majority would not have the ability to fend for themselves, even if they could move to a site where this might be possible.

The current MENA situation could easily lead to a far worse oil shock than anything yet seen, with horrible consequences for most city dwellers and many other non-city folk. Hiding behind nice comments will not alter the seriousness of these problems.

It could well be that Todd and other similarly prepared people are the only hope for re-establishing viable communities after the crash, whichever form it takes. Prodding the "city people" with a sharp stick may well enable a few of them to become more competent in survival skills.

I'd rather there be no prodding anyone with sharp sticks. Plenty of other places on the net for that, if that's your thing.

City people have skills that rural folks lack. For example, money lenders are predominantly urban, and farmers are always borrowing money. One reason that India has been slow to develop (especially compared to China) is that in India the Marwari caste dominates money lending and finance in general. Urban centers also have hardware, which farmers need. Two hundred years ago in the U.S. there were a number of flourishing urban centers, and I daresay that a hundred years hence there will still be a substantial number of flourishing urban centers in the territory now held by the U.S.A.

I used to teach American Economic History--a fascinating topic. Even in an agrarian economy such as the colonial times centers such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia flourished. Besides, urban centers are where baseball flourishes, and as Leanan said in an offhand comment a few years ago, "There will always be baseball."

I've lived in the country with outhouses and no electricity, and now I live in an urban center. No way would I go rural at this point, unless I were disabled and had to live with some of my rural relatives. Traditionally, rural folks pushed Grandma and Grandpaw out into the chicken house to live, when they were too old to work. No thanks.

Don, maybe you haven't noticed but there are quite a few chicken coops springing up in Saint Paul. ;)

City people have skills that rural folks lack.

Skills eh? Ok, do go on.

For example, money lenders are predominantly urban,

Really. Money lending is a skill.

So its not at ALL dependent on having money, but instead is a skill.

A skill some are SO skilled at that the US Government had to create a TARP bailout for?

A skill so magical that it can ONLY be done in "urban" settings?

and farmers are always borrowing money.

And so long as there is a functioning court system enforcing ownership by exchanging small hunks of paper the 'farmer' who has borrowed will be in a position where they will be subject to having everything taken away by the court in the front end of the collapse.

"City people have skills that rural folks lack. "

Eyeglasses come immediately to mind, as my personal limiting factor.

Also think of drugstores for prescription drugs.

Urban centers have always greatly facilitated trade and made life better for their rural cousins. One reason so many American farmers have flourished is that there were towns or cities to meet their vital needs. It is just plain silly to say that farmers do not depend on cities. During the European middle ages cities declined, and great landed estates would become armed villages with blacksmiths, brewers, shoemakers, etc., etc., but when it came time for the lord to get a new suit of armor, he most likely would head for the nearest city where the best armor was made by skilled and highly specialized artisans.

Specialization and division of labor naturally grow out of cities.

Self-sufficiency is a snare and a delusion.

"Also think of drugstores for prescription drugs."

Do you really think the drugstore will be open? The subway, and buses, and taxis will be stopped dead.
Electricity will be haphazard, or mostly none at all with no idea that it will be repaired. The water will stop running from the taps and sewage will backup into the streets. The complexity of these systems assures their breakdown and eventual demise.

The continual convoy of food trucks into the cities will slow and foodstuffs will become more basic and scarce, eventually to be taken over by the military.

Under these kinds of circumstances I'd much rather have my friends and family in a situation like Todds, and that is what I'm headed for, need more PV and always expanding the crop production. Water, Food and Shelter.

As to the "hoards" yah right. First rule of military control is containment, travel out of these cities will be totally restricted. I don't expect those city folk will find enough gas to make it 50 miles let alone the hundreds it would take to get anywhere near me. I seriously doubt anyone walking will make it, even the tiny percentage of city folk that are even a modicum of fit.

Maybe it's a "sharp stick" to point out how obvious it is that these city systems are a real quick ride downslope. Denial is fine, but if I wanted to comit suicide I can find a lot of less painful ways than that.

Tip of the Hat, Todd,

Don in Maine

Second rule of containment - for many, many centuries - has been that the city folk didn't need to travel in hordes to the countryside (indeed until the 20th century it mostly wouldn't even have been possible for them.) They had the army to do it for them, as you yourself just implied. More precisely, the king or emperor had the army do it for him, but the baleful effect on the peasantry was much the same. And if things go so bad that some shadow of the drugstore is not open, then the problems of infections, broken bones, debilitating diseases, and the like will invade the most "self sufficient" (-not) rural "sanctuaries" in a big way. Which is part of why, as was pointed out elsewhere, you don't get Mad Max, except transiently, even in places that are far, far poorer than the USA. No rural sanctuary is an island unless it actually is an island, and even then, well, there are such things as boats.

Assuming that the cities still have governments in control of armies or armed police. What seems to underlie the call for civil discourse regarding "city folks" or dwellers is avoidance of the real threat to them from a breakdown in fuel or food transport. I suspect Todd and others have thought about these consequences for quite some time. After a few weeks or months without organized food or water deliveries, a lot of the Mad Max and non-Mad Max crowd will be thinned. There are always threats to security in remote, rual locations, but a little planning aided by modern weapons and stored ammo can keep a surprizing amount of potental intruders at bay. I recall the Swiss had some neat plans in store for the Germans should they have yielded to the temptation to invade their country. Maybe that's why the World Wars in Europe went on all around but not in their tiny country.

During World War II the Swiss organized their army by cantons; essentially everbody would be fighting to protect their own land, their own canton.

I think we can learn a lot from the Swiss insofar as it is possible to have a highly effective self-defense force without a military-industrial complex. The Swiss army bicycles are awesome.

I don't use any prescription drugs, so I didn't think of those.

But your right, Forstchen's book made an interesting subplot about that. I'm sure he was exaggerating for effect, but how many people would die from no cause other than their drugs not being available? It's not something I even think of. What else have I forgotten?

By the way, the book wasn't bad, but it was a pretty shameless ripoff of Alas Babylon.

Cities are an inescapable consequence of using metal tools for agriculture.

Mining, smelting of ores, and blacksmithing are functions most efficiently carried out by specialized labor forces using specialized tools. They are located near sources of ores, fuels, and food for the labor forces.

Metal tools multiply the efficiency of farm workers, compared with stone tool farmers. This enables a fraction of the population to provide enough food for all. The "surplus" population in the city engages in specialized manufacture and trade.

But there is enough food to feed quite a few people. So some of them become the clergy, tasked with making the rains fall, the sun to shine, the animals to be fertile and multiply, and the city to be prosperous. Others join the military and defend the lands from the neighboring cities, as well as enforce the laws and incentivize any farmer reluctant to work and provide for the good of the whole. Of course, this must all be organized. So a king and a noble class arize to take care of the overall organization and administration.

This is how cities and rural areas relate.

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

Actually, it has mostly been the other way around. But this verse illustrates the basic relationships between the farmer and soldiers metal tools, the blacksmiths (who do the beating), the kings (who make war) and the clergy (who wrote this verse).

Most postings including Greers' seem to be looking over the horizon towards some future where oil is too expensive to use. For me what is interesting and useful is this transition we are experiencing now. Tobacco addicts relieve their cravings with gradually decreasing doses of nicotine. Interacting in real time to changing conditions opportunities appear that were not even imagined during our energy feast. Future cannot be simple recycling of past because we have benefit of knowledge, global communications while it lasts and new version of appropriate technology.

I believe places rural will become urbanized and places urban will become ruralized. Jumping ahead to living 'off the grid' or 'under the radar' makes no contribution unless you are evangelist, attracting cheers of the converts and allowing remaining consumers to use your share, ie Jeavron's paradox.

Much more interesting is how we are living in present day and what we do to adapt to challenges (ie opportunities), this week, this year and the coming 2-3 years. Just in time has changed the nature of the manufacturing process. Adapting to these short and mid term energy and economy challenges neutralizes the disadvantage earned operating in-some futurized scenario. We are communities, we are clusters of people living and working together and not an infinite array of individualists surviving on roots and berries.

Who knows what is the future over the horizon? 'They' likely will burn ever last bit of available coal but the survivors will be those who get from here to 'there'. I'm rural guy and work with 20 people who support themselves and families on 60 acres. The most recent current challenge to farmers like us in our speciality business was the optimism of the housing bubble era. Others financed expansion but we grew slow funded on cash flow. They're gone now. Markets disappeared but losing the high rollers bought us some time. Working now on separate 2,3,5 year opportunity profiles. Preserving skill sets of coworkers is equal, no higher priority to saving productivity of the land. Land recovers.

It could well be that Todd and other similarly prepared people are the only hope for re-establishing viable communities after the crash, whichever form it takes.

You just don't get it, do you?

In the kind of collapse you are envisioning, the "city people" you so cavalierly dismiss will have more than enough organization (of one kind or another), and perfectly applicable skill sets, to acquire whatever they need or want from the Todds of the world (for a little while, at least). By any means necessary.

I'm quite sure he and his fellow rugged individualists imagine that they have enough ammunition to fight off the hordes (they always imagine that), but it should be easy to understand that this is a fantasy.

Under the conditions you project, Todd would share, if he were lucky enough to be permitted to do so, or he and his family would suffer as ugly and and painful a fate as any of those city slickers he so despises.

Now, this Randian silliness has really gone beyond any reasonable limits. Let's drop it.

I agree.

The thing is, Todd has achieved some real accomplishments and we can learn from his experiences, but for quite some time, Todd, you have ended many of your posts by getting on your high horse and telling most of the rest of us how worthless we are because we don't have this or that skill set, occasionally insinuating how you will shoot us if we approach your property with pre-announcement, and how you will endure in homesteader fashion while we devolve into the Mad Max Hades we deserve.

For someone who has it all figured out and has been living the good life in one's little slice of paradise, you don't seem very content.

In all sincerity, I wish you and your wife and your friends and neighbors peace and happiness.

Wow. I guess it's time to gang up on Todd.

OK. I'm sure he doesn't plan on shooting everyone who approaches. He'll certainly have planned for using poison gasses. Much more effective.

Lighten up everyone

Perhaps you did not read or understand the entirety of my post.

Todd is obviously a very intelligent, and I think, a pretty nice/neighborly guy based on having read the entirety of his posts on Todd. He has achieved much and many of us are interested in his information.

More the shame that he, more and more, has chosen to end his posts with unnecessary jabs at folks beyond his neighborhood and who live differently than he does.

I see down-post that Don in Maine ended his post with his last two paragraphs in the same vein...insult the unworthy city dwellers, predict their travails, and top it off with a death threat if they dare encroach upon his enclave.

Your 'poison gas' remark was specious and non-value-added.

Heisenberg, ".insult the unworthy city dwellers, predict their travails, and top it off with a death threat if they dare encroach upon his enclave. "

I certainly did not mean to give that impression. "Magical Thinking" always kind of sticks in my craw, city dwellers need a good dose of "situational awareness" about the underlying structure of their enviornment. I don't much like bankers. politicians, or fat people either.

Now about encroaching, I always chuckle when these talks turn to the "zombie" hoard that's going to swoop down and take our hard earned preps away. I just don't see it happening. I did not issue any death threats, in fact I'd say if anyone managed to make it out of a big city and this far in those troubled times, they probably have some skills that would be a welcome addition to our "enclave".

Now let me try to change the spin here a bit. Lots of folks prep for hard economic times. Stored food etc. Building a small, solar, easy to heat with wood, house just makes economic sense. Raising a good portion of your own food just means you don't have to rely on the economy to provide it, it's a bonus that it actually tastes better and is most likely healthier for you. What with the inflation we see now in food prices it's one of the best investments going. Feed your soil and your soil will feed you. A few chickens and pigs and maybe a wild turkey or two cuts into your reliance on a functioning economic system even more. The lifestyle takes a strong back and backbone and is pretty much precluded from happening in a city scape. Self-reliance can be a very hard dose for some to swallow, yet it does allow you to sit outside the system somewhat.. not tied to that idiot boss and the 9 to 5 paycheck. I'm not even attempting to call it self-sufficient, that's a long row to hoe but it is possible to seriously minimize your ties to the system. It just makes economic sense.

Ghung.. my potatoes are in, asparagus is up, fiddleheads are up, cold frames are full of greens and radishes, this years blueberry rotation is all mowed, and this coming winters firewood is cut, split and stacked in the woodshed.

Happy May Day

Don in Maine


...not tied to that idiot boss and the 9 to 5 paycheck.

You have it good...good on you! Tomorrow is the start of another work week at the computer for me...my circumstance.

I don't much like bankers. politicians, or fat people either.

A bit of a broad brush, but here's to our right to free speech, such that it is in the U.S.!

The concern sometimes expressed here about city folks coming way out in the rural areas to mess with the folks there seems way overblown to me.

I wish you good harvests, health, and happiness.

Heisenberg, My apologies that my remarks appear aimed at you. I was just trying to ease the general level of aggression. In matter of truth, you are one of my favorite posters and I agree with all you write.

I'll trry to hit replies in a more suitable space in future. Also I'm not quite sure what specious means, but accept that it means unsuitable. Granted.

Every prosperity and happiness to you and yours. D.


Thank you, and please accept my apology as I misinterpreted your comment.

I thank you for your effort to bring comity to TOD.

I am humbled by your compliment. I also have enjoyed your posts.

From Dictionary.com:

I figured I'd post the definition...sorry for the five-dollar word...I work with a mix of engineers, scientists, program managers, and policy makers. I have come to use this word more and more concerning the MIC (Military-Industrial Complex)!

apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible: specious arguments.

Live Long and Prosper; May we find enlightenment though diversity of thought and experiences.

BTW, I don't know the story of your handle, but some of my happiest times have been bodysurfing...Nags's Head, North Carolina, Destin FL, and Sandy Beach HI (not recommended for amateurs such as me...I got beat up and am lucky I didn't get hurt or croak there).

Heisenburg... what advice would you give to a person currently living in Phoenix, AZ?


Two points:

1. Your question is pretty broad.

2. I am not a sustainability expert by any means...that is one reason I read TOD...to learn from others.

That being said:

1. I have a friend in Tuscon who has the means to have installed a ~ 9 KW PV system. If you have the capital to invest, and are concerned about escalating electricity bills or the possibility of future intermittent availability of electricity...perhaps some amount of PV on your roof may provide a bit of self-reliance (I am assuming you live in a house). You may even be able to make a little money if you install a large system. PV installations are pretty spendy though...so that might not be the right choice to spend your finite money.

2. How do you perceive your water security in Phoenix? Is it legal to install home rainwater collection systems there?

3. If you are interested in implementing a modicum of food self-reliance, you could start a garden in your yard. Lack of Sun and warmth is not an issue, but back to the water issue.

4. Are you concerned about the future safety of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant?

5. Do you have good relations with your neighbors? Do you have family in town?

6. Do you have adequate transportation? Is fuel becomes scarce and expensive, then Phoenix, to my memory, is pretty flat...biking feasibility would hinge on the safety of sharing streets with vehicles, and of the heat, and you physical ability.

I have no confidence that I provided anything useful...my crystal ball is hopelessly clouded, and people have different wants, abilities, expectations...

Jeez, I'm glad that I'm spending the weekend implementing my 'rural survival strategy', and have been too tired after dark to participate in this Toddfest. Much like Todd, I like to think that I'm in a better position than most, though I don't have a clue about the city/rural vulnerability factor when TSHTF; it all depends on how things play out. Having split my life fairly evenly between city and rural lifestyles, I prefer to maintain plenty of social capitol in both, and I like to think that my skillset is portable. My concern for my city friends is that their skills are specific to what may become unsustainable circumstances. This thread seems to be more about folks defending their choices, (or lack there-of) than reality. The fact is that we just don't know.

We can reasonably assume that the basics will be harder to come by. As we've seen, food availability and costs have an effect on the nature of changes; how things play out. Without fuel for the body it's hard/impossible to improve one's situation. While rural folks may have an advantage in providing for their own needs, it does no good to tell all of the city folks that they are going to starve WTSHTF. I've been accused of gloating when touting my particular stategy, though I prefer to think of it as presenting a particular option.

This is the first year that I have focused more on container gardening, something I've not done much of in the past. This may seem silly for someone who, like Todd, has acreage and a nice conventional garden. Several reasons for this:

Container gardening can produce a lot of food in a small space, something I can share with my city friends and family.

Efficiency: I'll likely reach the point when I won't be able to maintain a large garden, pastures, etc., either physically or from a resource/fuel standpoint. This is an experiment to determine the rough EROEI of this type of food production. Concentration/control of resources and production may be useful. I expect to save time/energy/water using inexpensive, automated drip irrigation, something many plants respond to well, and soil mixtures/fertilizers can be easily taylored to specific plants.

Security: These containers can be moved to a secure area if need be. In the city, they could be brought indoors to prevent food looting. Floods or drought should be less of an issue. In the country, I couldn't move my whole garden if it was threatened. I believe it is much easier to secure your food source if it is nearby; in a small yard or on a deck, patio or roof.


I'm just trying to expand my options (and keep my roof a bit cooler), something I don't see many folks doing, especially in the cities. I'll let you know how it works out.

I'm in the city and live in a condo but have been experimenting with planter boxes at my girlfriend's house in her back yard. It's quite amazing how much one can produce without even trying too hard here in South Florida. Then again perhaps we've been a bit lucky and have somehow avoided pests rodents etc... for now. We haven't had to use any pesticides. Of course I did have to do some serious lobbying for the snakes that have shown up in her backyard. I made it very clear that they were actually closely related to the birds in her bird bath >;^)

She recently told me about one of her colleagues at work who also lives near her and likes to throw salt on the frogs despite having a frog statue in the fountain in her back yard and that this upstanding citizen of the community dumped a bottle of bleach on a poor little snake that was sunning itself on her patio.

I kindly asked her never to introduce me to that person...

Wow, Fred, her friend sounds a bit ,,,, disconnected. I wonder what she'll throw on the bugs and rats after all the frogs and snakes are gone?

I was in a small village, some way out in the country here. It was getting dusky and there were armies of toads sitting around. The locals normally have a pretty poor attitude to animals so I was very surprised when the women berated the children who messed with the toads. They were firmly told to leave them alone. Organic insect control :) Oh, the cats deal with passing snakes, turn them into tea bags.


I remember seeing a huge herd of Raccoons at a city park gate in Ft Laud a few years back. You got many of those in Miami?

Hi jokuhl, I actually live in Hollywood which is closer to Ft. Lauderdale than it is to Miami, as for Racoons, yep, I've even seen them on South Beach. They sure know how to survive.

In our neighborhood (California) they nest in the storm sewers. They are pretty good survivors.

City people don't have crap. The neither have skill-sets nor tools nor the impetus (at this time) to do what has to be done nor the materials to do what has to be done.

Golly, Todd, did it take you very long to build that photovoltaic system with hand tools?


BTW, turf management? Does that mean golf courses?

Todd demonstrates what Karl Marx called 'the idiocy of rural life'.
The collapse of the Soviet Union impacted rural areas far more than the cities.


Today, most US rural areas are 'dying'(not sustainable) as young people move to cities for opportunity.


Instead of rurals allying themselves with urbanites to better their prospects, they allow themselves to be emotionally manipulated by local political and economic bosses who live off them.
They may wish to believe that they embody rugged individualism but they mainly wallow in prejudice, paranoia and self-pity.

"They may wish to believe that they embody rugged individualism but they mainly wallow in prejudice, paranoia and self-pity."

Wow! And some here think Todd is guilty of stereotyping.

[goes to the garden to be paranoid and feel sorry for self, wonders who majorian thinks will grow his food]

Government subsidies, heartless corporations and giant food processing plants manned by hordes of legal and illegal immigrants plus imported fruits from Chile and California megafarms sold in supermarkets is where my food comes from.

The stores are full of Chinese apple juice and Pakistani mangos.

Do I think some redneck guy with a shot gun in a pickup truck made my food?


There's some in every family, eh?

Majorian best hope the country folks who are supplying his food aren't reading this and spitting on his spinach, they do read TOD overseas, after all, eh?

I am definitely a "city person". I have spent my entire life living in urban areas, although I have traveled extensively, to some very rural areas.

The one common denominator of all human settlement throughout out history is that people gather together in groups. Whether it is a hunter-gatherer tribe of fifty people, or a city of millions.

There is a survival factor in being part of a group/tribe/herd. There is the advantage of division of labor - some bring in food, some learn building skills, some healing skills. I, personally, am never going to be a deep repository of martial-arts or home-construction skills. However, I do know quite a lot about the healing arts. Something that may well be barterable for a chicken, from time to time, or roof repair.

While I do agree that most people have forgotten many basic skills, if we divide up the task of re-learning them, we're likely, IMHO, to fare better.

Case in point: yesterday, I was walking to the local store, lost in being out in the sunshine, for a change. Tripped and fell flat on the sidewalk. One guy walking dogs immediately crossed the street to see if I was ok, as well as a girl jogging, who helped me up.

To make a long story short, I have one bandaged hand from breaking my fall, something I know how to treat at home. But it was good to know I have neighbors, just in case. And not 50 miles away.

There's a real, practical need to be in communities where people are close together, rather than driving miles distant. I suspect security issues will be more manageable to groups which stay together too.

As to the issue of feeding ourselves, I started my parkway planting project this weekend and have several folks on the block jumping in to participate. Darn, and now I am bandaged up...sheesh...typing left-handed ;)

Someone just has to start.

Edit : yes, I know my one block is a drop in the bucket, but the reality is most people wll have to do the best they can with what they have available. That's not to say I think it will be easy.

Edit 2: my neighborhood is somewhat of a league of nations, not far removed from our immigrant roots. Basically, formerly a blue-collar neighborhood where many were employed in factories (now demolished and built over with condos), and slowly "gentrifying".
I know lots of people around here still have many skills, particularly home maintenance and gardening, even if somewhat rusty.

I ended up in one of the many professions that condem you to city life. I was lucky to work at one company that was located in a small town, and later for a while was able to live in the mountains while working in the city. But clearly not many, whatever their liking may be get to live in the country anymore. You may think, when I retire, I won't need to be in/near a city for employment, but it would probably be wise to be in/near one, because you might need access to specialized medical treatment. Some dreams can't really be satisfied at retirement.

I've mostly given up on the notion of retirement. I really don't know where I'll end up, though - depends what the world looks like in fifteen years...

I used to want a cottage by the sea. Maybe I'll still find a way to do that. Growing a decent food garden requires tenure. It's taken the last 5 years to get the soil rehabilitated and edible perennials well-established. I guess I'll be in this house until I can't manage it any more.

My eighty-year-old neighbor is still house painting - where there's a will, there's a way...

I hope you have a small arsenal to protect all that stuff because some may get envious.

Ah yes, a land-owning, economically-independent peasant, in a country which is by our assumptions in the middle of a gigantic crisis. There is Russian term for that: kulak. By the end of the 1930s, such as were not shot ended up in Kazakhstan and Siberia in situations of other than optimal economic comfort. Maybe they ended up with a part in the movements to open up the new lands in the sixties.

If he's lucky and the **** the fan in the way he expects, he'll get paid for his land in something not entirely dissimilar to money, and a chit permitting him to rent a bed in a six-person room somewhere in the slums around the nearest town.

Marie Antoinette is not the way to go.

Poor Marie Antoinette. She never did say 'let them eat cake' you know.

Maybe not, but as the peasants were begging for bread, Marie Antoinette was busy wasting tons of money pilling her hair as high as possible and topping it off with a gaudy hat.........

She may not have said "Let them eat cake...," but actions speak louder than words.
She obviously cared more about the latest fashions than the state of her new country.

That comment is very accurate in a figurative sense....

It was unseemly attitude and for that she paid the ultimate price. American Country Clubbers, learn from history.

That comment is very accurate in a figurative sense....

Unfortunately more accurate than most would care to admit!

In Chinese culture, there is reputedly (according to one book citing an oral source) a similar story that involves rice and meat, instead of bread and cake: "an ancient Chinese emperor who, being told that his subjects didn't have enough rice to eat, replied, 'Why don't they eat meat?'".[9]
Source Wikipedia

My reply would have been, because roast Emperor, doesn't taste quite as good, as roast pig...

No, she didn't. On the other hand she did set up a small farm (the 'hameau de la reine') in the grounds at the palace of Versailles in which she and her courtiers pretended to be peasants.

"The Queen sought refuge in peasant life, milking cows or sheep carefully maintained and cleaned by the servants. Dressed as a peasant in a muslin dress and straw hat, a light switch in her hand, with her ladies, she used buckets of Sevres porcelain decorated with the royal arms, specially made by the Manufacture Royale"

Yes, I think there should be little satisfaction to be had from the prospect of possible societal collapse.

Even if you are self-sufficient out in the sticks, who will you turn to the day you wake up to find a small lump under your arm?

For better or for worse we're all in this together.

A sobering thought perhaps.

"For better or for worse we're all in this together."

I hope so, but the tendency to search for scapegoats has deep historical roots.

What are these people doing today that will make their lives sustainable as things go down? How will they adapt when their paradigm fails? They certainly don't have the resources I have to draw upon.

It's good that you're concerned about this. There are seven billion people on the planet and most of them live in urban areas. They absolutely must live in urban areas, because there is no way that the planet could come close to supporting the population were it otherwise (leaving aside, for the moment, the question of how much population the planet can sustainably support).

I suggest to you that, if "their" paradigm fails, yours will have failed, as well.

One of the ways they will likely try to adapt is by expropriating necessary resources from you. It won't be a successful strategy, in the long term, for most, of course, but that won't prevent it from being attempted.

To put it bluntly, all of you who think the world's cities are going to fail while your "sustainable" low-density lives continue are in denial.

If you are not an urbanist, you are neither an environmentalist nor a humanist.

"...and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls..."

There are seven billion people on the planet and most of them live in urban areas.

Looks about 50:50 from where I'm standing...

Looks about 50:50 from where I'm standing...

Well, since you wanted mathematical accuracy, I'm afraid I have to tell you, using the source you posted:

"No, it doesn't."

No matter the path of economic development a country has chosen, urbanization remains an inevitable outcome of this effort across the world, says UN-HABITAT’s report, State of the World Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide.

The urban transition occurs at different times and with diverse growth patterns but the real challenge remains for governments to take actions that allow residents to make the most of living in cities.

Already [a little over a year ago] half the world’s population is urban. Currently, the less urbanized regions are Asia and Africa, but they are expected to reach their respective tipping points – that is when their populations are more urban than rural – in 2023 and 2030. From 2025 to 2030, average annual global growth is expected at 1.5% meaning that by the middle of the century (2050) their urban populations are due to reach 61.8%.


There's a very enlightening tipping-point table in the document, BTW. North America's was "before 1950" and the 2010 percentage was 82.1% of us in urban areas. The 2050 projection is 90.2%.

Now, unless you want to have a spitting contest over the definitions of "most" and "about," why don't we get off this little sidetrack?

Well, as long as we're agreed it's around the ballpark 50:50 point at the moment then that's at least a little more quantitative than 'most' (anywhere from 50.01 to 99.99%?)

Here to please ;-)

"[A]round the ballpark" is more quantitative than "most?"

OK. I'll stop now. ;^)

Absolutely correct.Tried planning and preparedness for a year until finally realizing that the factors during collapse are multiple and variable.When anarchy prevails the only thing handy would be a shotgun.Remember the golden rule:He who has the gold rules BUT he who has the gun can steal the gold.Enjoy your life till the good times last because once it starts to unravel there is really very little one can do.

They absolutely must live in urban areas, because there is no way that the planet could come close to supporting the population were it otherwise

Disagree - at least in part because of your emphasis; small and medium labor-intensive farms are more productive per acre than modern mechanized agriculture. If there were more people out in the country and out in the fields, it would be possible to produce more food and support a larger population. The fiction that modern industrial agriculture is the most productive way of doing things is widespread, but nevertheless a fiction.

Admittedly, human labor costs more than machine labor so profits are higher using machine-work, and we have the system we have because farm work is a last choice for most people. That people live mostly in cities and leave farming basically to machines is an easy choice at the moment, but in the future other arrangements will likely be made out of necessity.

...small and medium labor-intensive farms are more productive per acre than modern mechanized agriculture.

True, but only under certain conditions, which don't apply to large portions of the acreage in production under the current system.

For instance, could you develop a plan for converting the Imperial Valley to non-mechanized, labor-intensive methods that would result in higher production to support higher populations? If you could, what would the transition look like and would you still need to import fertilizer and water?

No doubt, photovoltaics will power the air conditioning for the much larger populations of ag workers (while simultaneously producing silicon wafers from local sand and reproducing themselves).

Of course you're right - there is no conceivable short-term plan on any adequate scale to replace our industrial agriculture. Aside from the many physical infrastructure issues (which are made even more difficult by a changing climate, which makes long-term agriculture of any sort in places like Imperial Valley questionable), there would also be the need for a thorough change in culture and world-view.

I don't see much of a way to get there from here, but "history" is not so constrained, and has no shortage of time. If we look at the comings and goings of the past, replacement is as common as evolution, and we may well look forward to being replaced by a culture better suited than our own.

We are in accord.

You may be more optimistic than I am, of course.

It's all a matter of choices. There are plenty of creative ways that people can reduce dependence on gasoline, or adjust to a lower standard of living.

In dense areas, I would guess it would be using super efficient cars sparingly, and then using some combination of public transport/cycling/walking for the remainder of trips. Alot of people are just going to be stuck in place.

Of course, you are going to be even more isolated in rural places, but like you said you may have resources and in fact want it that way.

People in the cities aren't going to starve, at least not anytime soon. It doesn't matter if the grocery store runs out of soda or cheese doodles, or is closed at night or has long lines. As long as there are basic staples, people won't starve.

And here in North America, we are a long, long way from starvation, as evidenced by the body habitus of the people inhabiting this place.

So don't cry for the car dependent. They'll adjust, as everybody will be forced to.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a doomer. But I'm much more concerned about political dislocation, currency collapse, racial/tribal animosities, war, that sort of thing, rather than people's lifestyles per say.

Sorry to be cliched Todd, but no man is an island.

Self sufficiency is no option, we have to work together on this one. But we won't, will we.

All very well, but self sufficiency is not the way to go. Sorry to be cliched but no man is an island. We either survive this together, or destroy each other. I'll bet on the latter by the way.

You can edit your post, as long as no one has replied to it.

Why do we keep insisting on these All or Nothing choices?

We'll do all of the above, and then some.

There will be cooperation, there will be genocide, there'll be successes and survival, failures and tragedy.

Extinction is possible, but I doubt it will get that far. 12 billion Humans is possible, but I really doubt that will happen, either.

Even with her big guns, I think Nature is more reliably moderate than we are..

Extinction is possible, but I doubt it will get that far.

Well, not right away...

The question we are really, usually, considering, though, is whether or not anything like global techno-industrial civilization can survive, and what human population the surviving form might be able to support. The odds don't look very good, to me.

Nature may be more reliably moderate (I think that's an open question), but she has no particular interest in individual species.

I got you. Pretty much agree..

I just get disappointed when people here make these assertions,

"I think we'll fight each other, we won't cooperate. Won't Happen. It's the way we are."

I expect a little more from this crowd. The extremes are tiresome.. they seem so ego-driven.

Peak everything, economic collapse, population stress, rampant disease and all out war barring a nuclear conflagration, is survivable for the human species. We could even take a goodly portion of the present flora and fauna with us. The world is still big enough to provide pockets of survivors. The natural course of events is collapse.

If the above were all we had to concern ourselves with, in my view the medium term future for our species is probably fair to middlin'. I've been preparing for years to deal with, to the best of my ability the above scenarios. I can't defend adequately against AGW. My children and grand children will suffer the extreme consequences.

The world killer is global warming and ozone depletion. We have baked in rising temperatures, which will affect sea levels, ocean currents, glaciers, ice caps, ocean acidification and increasing desertification.

We've gone from a need to power down to one of power off. If the consequences of AGW had addressed appropriately, peak everything along with over population would have been curtailed also.

I see absolutely no evidence of cooperation, precisely the opposite actually. If you think a few people cooperating will do any good whatsoever, I guess you are simply welcome to your own comforting reality.

We have a world wide problem which requires a mostly world wide solution, which must include the top couple of dozen industrial powers to "cooperate". All the while atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases continue their relentless march onward and higher. I see no good coming from one country alone burning 3.6 to 3.8 billion tonnes of all types of coal annually.

I see lots of examples of people cooperating, like right here.

I haven't pretended it will avert disaster.. did you read what I said above, or are you so traumatized by our terrifying predicament, that it blinds you to any positives into this sea of negatives?

The situation has the potential to be unbelievably horrific, but we really don't know how the climate will play out. ONE SET OF SCENARIOS could leave the Earth uninhabitable or unable to support human life, anyhow.. but that's not a prediction you get to make with certainty. Otherwise, there will be places across the globe where 'we' will likely make it, and those where we won't.

"Even with her big guns, I think Nature is more reliably moderate than we are.."

Take a look at the number of tornados over time from about 1950 to present. I saw one published in a CNN article recently. It looks a lot like the Kealing CO2 curve. Actually, it looks even more like an exponential. So, as much as I like the tone and sentiment of your statement, it might be wrong. I think Earth's climate changing and becoming more hostile and unpredictable to us will be the coup de grace for humans and their civilization. Maybe some scattered tribes will remain. The highland tribes of Papua New Guinea are looking OK.

Well.. there sure have been a few mass extinctions, and I guess we might just be seen as nature's tool for starting the next one, but on a somewhat smaller timescale, look at the collapses we talk about.. or even the plagues and wars.. a region gets wiped out, or cut in half.. but then it's done.

With our euclidean ideals, some of us from the Technolotopian Industrial Mold seem to approach our tasks with a zeal of Calvinistic Purity that insists on these All or Nothing deals. It looks like a piece of human psychology that has taken the symbols for ZERO and INFINITY far too much to heart, as if getting satisfaction can only be achieved by touching one of those two Brassy Rings of Mordor..

Mother Nature may be gazing with mild interest at our busy extreme views, smiles a bit and says, 'Yah, whatever.. .. here try this.'

"Take a look at the number of tornados over time from about 1950 to present"

That would be a dodgy comparison. No doppler radar, and a lot fewer concentrations of people in the country back then. A lot of tornadoes would never have been reported in the 1950s.

That's a good point about the doppler. I suspect the temporal relationship is real because warmer climate in more recent times would foster more intense storms. There's more heat energy to tap, but that's a circular argument. I wonder if any tornados hitting the ground would have been missed in the 1950s, though, as people were living out there in the country, just more spread out.

I don't think the climate change researchers have any real clue as to tornadoes. Temperature constrasts (and wind shear) are important, its not just heat and humidity. So temps, and humidty are to rise, but for the most part pole to equator temp differences are decreasing. I don't think they have any tornadoes in the tropics. And its clear that counting them isn't easy. Jeff Masters cautions that preliminary estimates are usually too large, and after experts evaluate evidence on the ground the numbers do go down, usually substantially. So evaluating, how well the counting has changed is a real issue.

Yes I read your post, that's why I replied as I did.
You absolutely miss the level of cooperation that's required.
An AGW denier will always rely on

but we really don't know how the climate will play out.

It can be a planet killer. I believe it is. The majority (probably) like you assume it is not. That assumption if proven unreliable would be...well I don't have words for it.

or are you so traumatized by our terrifying predicament, that it blinds you to any positives into this sea of negatives?


But there you go again climbing up and claiming the moral high ground of positive thinking.
Obviously being positive about a negative attitude toward AGW is in your view appropriate.
Overall what you or I think or do on the micro level matters not at all. That was my point about cooperation.

The question was whether there will be 'cooperation' or 'competition', and I claimed both, and that painting it in either extreme would be irresponsible.

The fact is, if people didn't cooperate, none of us would be here at all.

I've offered far more than enough to show that I consider this situation (PO, CC & Environmental Decimation) to be extremely dire, but that you want to hear what I'm saying as some euphemism for CC Denialism and 'It'll be alright if we just think positive' is a function of your own very heavy filters.

I’m glad I’m reading TOD in the middle of the day rather than at nighttime…..

This is one of the most depressing Oil Drum threads I’ve ever read… and I probably have been reading or skimming TOD almost every day for 3 or 4 years…….

Don't let it harsh your mellow.

What I find intriguing is the simultaneous assertions that:
- people in the US are consuming too much, and
- people in the US are in dire straits because GDP is not going up fast enough.

Since GDP largely measures consumption, the slowing of GDP should be seen as a hopeful sign. High unemployment, high prices, and a general increase in the misery index should be seen as restraining consumption.

It has gotten very shrill. Maybe since the business guy caved?

Something very pretty:

The Mountain
by Terje Sorgjerd



(the music:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTkzyyv0DuA&feature=related )

Then I'll burn the unusable branches from the tree along with some other brush.

Un-useable is relative.


How will they adapt when their paradigm fails?

Letters will be written to the selected things in Con gress, talking heads on the Muntzberg inspired media will demand action/place others in front of the TV cameras who will tell the masses 'just follow my idea and I'll fix it'.

After watching the "Oil Crunch" program from Australia it's been nagging at me: what if the global production decline rate is more like 1%? Does that seem possible?

I guess I'm looking at it like this now:

- Gross global all-liquids production might decline naturally at only 1%
- ...while gross global crude production might decline naturally at around 2%
- ...while net exports of crude might decline naturally at around 3-4%
- ...while recessionary impacts of these might make the declines more severe by impacting financing of new development

Not sure if this is realistic though.

Based on five years of studying TOD, I'd say that decline rates in crude oil production might be as low as 1% for a few years after Peak Oil, but as time goes on the decline rate will almost certainly increase substantially. The most important numbers, however, are the Net Export = Net Import numbers for oil and oil products.

As westexas has argued so long, Net Oil Exports are going to go down a lot faster than than oil production. I think his numbers are right, and that the Export-land model (ELM) is a correct picture of what the future holds.

Based on ELM, how fast do you think net exports are going to decline? (And do you mean net crude exports or net all-liquids exports? I'm not sure if that matters...)

When I write "oil" with no qualifier, I mean crude + condensate. I think this is general usage on TOD. If I want to talk albout all liquids, I write "all liquids."

In general, it does not matter whether you look at oil or at all liquids, because the production and export trends are similar over time.

Based on ELM, how fast do you think net exports are going to decline?

Between 2005 and 2009 net exports of crude only declined by 7.2 percent or about 1.8 percent per year. Once we come off the current plateau and if the decline is about 1 percent per year then the net export decline will probably decline at at between 2.5 and 3 percent per year. (2010 export data is not yet available.)

However that is if every exporting nation continues to produce flat out and export every barrel they possibly can. But it is highly likely that most nations will start to hoard part of their oil. Saudi has already hinted that they are doing this, leaving it in the ground for the future generations.

¶15. (C) King Abdullah’s recent comments on “leaving some oil in the ground” did not set new oil production policy, but hewed to the previous Saudi commitments to build a capacity of 12.5 million bpd. Nonetheless, his remarks may hint at an emerging conservationist ethic in Saudi Arabia — extending beyond energy to encompass how the Kingdom will more broadly husband its resources for future generations. Bourland highlights the King’s concerns with energy issues, but also his growing worries with how his successors will manage and secure the Kingdom’s financial patrimony as well.

I fully expect that when peak oil becomes obvious to everyone that more and more nations will start to husband their oil. Therefore net oil exports will, I expect, decline at a rate of at least 5 percent per year.

Ron P.


Can I suggest you look at is as a generally applicable series of effects that apportion the available oil to smaller and smaller subgroupings. Exportland is one of these. There's also 'hoarding', exchange rate effects, rationing, usage laws, wars, wealth, logistic train, etc. that will determine what rate of decline you personally see.

Westexas will probably remark that they have seen the time between peak exports and zero exports, for a country at half domestic consumption, as 7 years. That doesn't read across to the global context, but gives a clue that as a magnifier on the physical decline rate, net exports can be quite significant.

Frankly, I personally believe that your personal decline rate, for general commute type driving, will be quite swift. At the very least hoarding, exports, exchange rate and rationing will be in play for you after a few post-peak years have gone by - magnifying the physical decline rate. Assume your commuter driving will go 100% > 0% over less than 5 years.

There's also 'hoarding',

The only effective "hoarding" is:
1) Leave oil in ground
2) a "perfect vessel of propane - in theory it'll be as good now as in 100 years above ground and in a steel vessel.

Under all liquids - any alcohol above 80 proof that you keep containment on should be the same in 100 years - thus allowing for hording.

Hoarding covers both producers reducing the level of production (one of the big expected models of post-peak) and consumers building big reserves - in part so they can then go to war for more, safe against the impact of the supply kink they create.

And taking it a step further, with WT's expression of "available" net exports, which is what is left after India and China buy their share, the amount left for everyone else is shrinking daily.
I think we could add Brazil to Chindia, as they too can likely outbid everyone else for oil.
I posted this in a discussion yesterday, but I think it's worth showing again - the line for China+India+ Brazil (ChIndiaZil) is quite amazing.

Looks like they'll pass US consumption in 2013 or 14.

When someone is taking up that much of a finite resource, everyone else sees a decline in availability, which of course, is manifested as an increase in price.

When people talk about a recession causing a drop in the demand for oil, they are clearly not looking at these countries.


I'm having an innumerate moment.

How many billions are represented by that purple line and how few paltry hundreds of million does the bluish line represent?

And how exactly the h#$% did a few measly hundred million people on the planet come to use more of this sacred stuff that billions of others on the G forsaken rock???

It is quite something - the purple line (China, India Brazil) is a staggering 2.74bn people, or 40% of the world's 6.77bn people.
The US line is, of course, 311m, or 4.6%.

In per capita terms, the US uses 10x as much, but clearly that ratio is decreasing.

It seems to me that if US drivers are really that up in arms about $4-5fuel, then they should just stop buying it - these other countries are clearly very happy to keep using it regardless of the price.

It is no wonder that China is buying up oil and gas properties around the world at a furious rate, they simply can;t risk their economy by not doing so.

About now would be a good time for the US to lead the world in how to use less oil, rather than compete for more of it.

Thanks for the stats. That fits my impression--that US population is an order of magnitude lower than that of Chindiazil, yet uses more oil and gas than they do.

I don't know if there is any direct evidence that this is a conscious strategy, but it does strike me that this could be a kind of global strategy--to use up as much of this stuff as possible just so no other country can use it to create a bigger economy than we have. But the reality is probably just pure unthinking greed rather than any great strategic plan.

"And how exactly the h#$% did a few measly hundred million people on the planet come to use more of this sacred stuff that billions of others on the G forsaken rock???"

Because we had stuff to sell that they wanted to buy. So they traded black goo for something they wanted more.

Don't look for grand conspiracy when simple trade will suffice.

- Gross global all-liquids production might decline naturally at only 1%
- ...while gross global crude production might decline naturally at around 2%

I have to wonder why you think all liquids will be at lower rates than crude oil in depletion? One of the big items in all liquids is refinery gains - And that is totally dependent on the amount of crude oil you have.
Some of the other items in all liquids also are dependent on crude oil.
Biofuels are dependent on crude oil for fuel to produce and with the probable crop shortages and high prices biofuels are not going to be very cost effective.
Natural gas liquids (NGLs) are about the only item I see that would help produce a lower decline rate for all liquids, but I wonder if it is enough to make a 1% difference?

I guess it's that from what I've seen in many charts, conventional crude peaked and started declining around 2005 (with a blip in 2008), but all-liquids production has remained flat or even has risen some, mainly due to unconventional syncrude and natural gas liquids.

How much natural gas is burned to make syncrude? Hydrocarbon products that are used in the production of hydrocarbon produces should not be counted. We need to consider net energy produced. I am guessing that has already peaked.(???)

Heinberg suggested that global net energy peaked somewhere around 1990-1995. (There isn't much good data though.)

I have to wonder why you think all liquids will be at lower rates than crude oil in depletion?

Most of the "other liquids" in "all liquids" comes from natural gas as NGLs. We have a lot more natural gas, especially in the US, than we have crude oil so that is why all liquids will decline slower. Both OPEC and non-OPEC non crude liquids have increased by over 3 million barrels per day just since 2005 while conventional crude only has hardly moved at all.

Already there is more than a 1 percent year to year difference between all liquids and crude only or even C+C.

Ron P.

question for those who've been here a while and really understand the oil situation

what is a somewhat short explanation for the oil price suddenly falling in mid-2008? some say it's because President Bush signed an order removing all drilling bans (or something like that). i really don't think that's true and I myself don't know so I'm wondering.

FOR ALL – A few details on cutting oil industry subsidies. I know it’s an emotional subject, especially every time we fill up at the pump, but bear with me. First, I have to make some assumptions since “cutting subsidies” is meaningless unless details are presented. But from what has come out of the feds this is how it may play out. It appears the two main tax items are the DA (depletion allowance) and the IDC (intangible drilling cost) tax deduction. The DA is complicated but the basics are that a company’s assets (its reserves in the ground) decreases as the reserves are produced. Unlike an auto plant which has the potential to generate revenue indefinitely as the plant doesn’t deplete itself. But a plant’s equipment can depreciate so that’s the closest analogy. I don’t have a handle on exactly how much this saves a company but my sense is that it’s not huge. But more importantly, if the DA is eliminated it will only affect future fields…not existing ones. Difficult to estimate if eliminating the DA will change future drilling activity.

The elimination of the IDC tax credit would have a huge immediate effect. The IDC is a significant incentive to drill. About 40% of the cost to drill a well is IC (intangible costs). The IDC allows a company to deduct that amount from the taxes owed…not the earned income. So if a company owes the feds $100 million in taxes and spends $100 million in IC it can subtract $35 million (IC X 0.35) from its taxes. Defiantly a huge break. So they only pay $65 million in taxes. But take note: the ICD doesn’t increase the company’s revenue or profits: it allows them to spend more money drilling. If they don’t spend it drilling new wells they lose it. That’s the logic behind the IDC tax credit: instead of letting the govt spend the money the oil industry gets to drill more wells. That was once considered a good thing. The effect on drilling activity: the economics of each projected is evaluated on its own merits. This evaluation includes utilizing the IDC. Eliminate it and a number of projects become sub-economic and won’t be drilled. This will disappoint many but eliminating the IDC won’t diminish ExxonMobil’s profit. What it will do is eliminate a big chunk of their capex used for drilling. The monies an oil company saves with the IDC doesn’t go to any owner or stockholder. It has to be spent. And it can’t be spent overseas…the law requires it to be spent domestically. So all of this subsidy goes to the service companies who drill the wells. And the more revenue flowing to these companies the more employees they hire (who then pay more taxes along with their companies). Additional drilling also means more lease bonuses and royalty to landowners (who also pay more taxes). The additional production is also taxed by the local and state authorities. Ideally if the extra capex provided by the IDC results in more production then there is an even greater revenue to tax.

But this extra capex and the additional “drill, baby, drill” effort won’t diminish PO to any significant level. We all know that. But as I’ve pointed out before any increase in responsible domestic drilling and production has significant benefits to the economy. Lots of jobs, reduced trade deficit, lots of royalty income to individuals and the govt, lots of revenue to one of our few remaining profitable industries that employs millions (including many of the folks damaged by the BP spill) and can’t be outsourced.

So if the public wants to eliminate these subsidies so be it. But it won’t lessen the current profits of the oil industry. It will reduce its future revenue but not necessarily its profitability. ExxonMobil’s profits will continue flowing out to its millions of shareholders (who are dominated by the country’s retirees). It will reduce the amount of money the industry rolls back into the economy. But that’s OK with the Rockman and his company…anything that reduces the competition for the little drilling potential we have left is just fine by us. I’m all for the politicians to placate the public’s anger over energy costs. In the end they’ll have to deal with the results.

Doesn't the depletion allowance only apply to independents anyway?

Regarding IDC, presumably dry holes would be written off in the year that the well was drilled. If IDC is eliminated, all costs associated with producing wells would presumably be capitalized. It's possible that the loss of IDC may not have as much effect as people think.

In any case, you certainly have this correct:

But this extra capex and the additional “drill, baby, drill” effort won’t diminish PO to any significant level. We all know that. But as I’ve pointed out before any increase in responsible domestic drilling and production has significant benefits to the economy. Lots of jobs, reduced trade deficit, lots of royalty income to individuals and the govt, lots of revenue to one of our few remaining profitable industries that employs millions (including many of the folks damaged by the BP spill) and can’t be outsourced.

There is an inescapable "Atlas Shrugged" aspect to this situation, i.e., a rush to penalize the producers in an economy that is heavily dependent on (cheap energy powered) consumption.

Having said that, the conventional wisdom that prices are mostly due to "speculation" actually has a little bit of a logical basis, given the prevailing message that consumers get that a virtually infinite rate of increase in energy consumption is no problem.

"Rather than a 'peak,' we should expect an 'undulating plateau' perhaps three or four decades from now."

Mr. Robert Esser
Senior Consultant and Director, Global Oil and Gas Resources
Cambridge Energy Research Associates
Huntington, NY,
Understanding the Peak Oil Theory
Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
December 7, 2005

"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak... Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times, June 2, 2006

"We in Opec do not subscribe to the peak-oil theory."

Acting Secretary General of Opec, Mohammed Barkindo
July 11, 2006

Still, which drilling costs are "intangible" as opposed to "tangible". Yes, it seems true that if you take away tax credits that encourage people to drill, you would tend to get less drilling. However, it may also be true that if you transferred those credits or deductions to some other industry like, say solar power or even conservation, then that would encourage more activity in that area. Subsidies to the corn industry and the ethanol industry also encourage activity and jobs in that area. But just because something encourages activity and jobs in one area does not mean it is the best use of the capital available.

Every industry that gets deductions, credits, or subsidies, has a valid argument that the removal of same will reduce activity in that area.

Anyway, nothing will occur that will reduce subsidies or credits one penny. So not to worry if you are in the oil industry.

ts - Tangible is exactly as you might guess: stuff you can touch like drilling fluid, casing, etc. Contact services like like what paid for the drilling rig day rate and all the consulting services are intangible.

Every industry that gets deductions, credits, or subsidies, has a valid argument that the removal of same will reduce activity in that area.

The government is reducing spending in every area except the military. As an example, Lance Armstrong and anybody else who had testicular cancer probably owes their life to the institution where I work and we will be getting less money for medical research. Since the military is primarily used by oil companies, I guess you could say ending that tax credit is going to open some more land up for you, Rockman -- maybe even in Libya? Hopefully, we learned from Iraq that you have to kill off much larger numbers of the native population before the IOCs can move in quickly (yes, that is sarcasm).

The future pay-dirt action will be in Venezuela, mark my words.

When the U.S. gets desperate, it will give Vz a choice: Cooperate in a 'win-win' business sense or...we do it the hard way.

Disclaimer: I do not advocate this idea...but the idea is obvious as the nose on my face...Vz is right across the GOM...we have plenty of folks in the military and Sate Department etc. who speak Spanish...our cultures are much more similar than those of the U.S. and ME countries...supply lines are short...

The Monroe Doctrine will rise again.

Ah, but for a disturbing number of people this alternative will make more sense than subsidizing energy efficiency, restricting immigration, investing in subsidizing solar and wind energy, and investigating the potential of modern nuclear power plant opportunities. Of course these energy sources would power more electrified rail, EVs, etc vice ICE transportation.

On a related note: It is way past time that we start storing the spent fuels assemblies in casks in the Yucca Mountain facility until we can figure out something else down the road...having these fuel rod assemblies in pools scattered all across the country is begging for big problems.

I would make the assumption that all oil regions in north or south america will be dominated and controlled, implicitly or explicitly, by the US.

I don't think Venezuela will be given a choice, or advance notice. I think the military will come back from the middle east/afghanistan bloodied after trying to control the oil there, and be sent off to secure Vx.

Couple that with 'aid' to mexico to control their oil fields (sorry, to fight off drug cartels), leaning on Brazil, and much stronger arm tactics with Canada - I would assume the US will take control of the rate and direction of all oil on the two continents - before 2020.

That amounts to about 18Mbpd - enough for the 'non-negotiable' dictate to be sustained, if you are of a mind to.

gog - I passed on a tour in Lybia 30 years ago. The company was going to get me a fake Canadian passport and pay me overseas in a false account. I was young and foolish back then. But not even close to being that stupid. With my bad knees and MS I doubt I'll ever go the expat route ever again. It quit enough to haul my busted up old body onto a barge rig in S La. LOL

However, it may also be true that if you transferred those credits or deductions to some other industry like, say solar power

And in fact the solar panel industry likes to point out how the changes in the tax laws hurt them via creation of variations in demand.

Thanks Rockman for the insider's view. Given that just a week ago we saw Obama chastising oil co's for not drilling leases, is this not a 180deg flip that he now proposes to remove incentives for them to do just that?

Sounds like the oil industry might have to do some education of the politico's here. Everyone thinks these are direct subsidies to the oil co's but of course, these are really just domestic production incentives, and domestic production is, for all the reasons you say, exactly what is needed right now.

Even the nobel prize winning energy secretary must understand that.

Everyone thinks these are direct subsidies to the oil co's but of course, these are really just domestic production incentives, and domestic production is, for all the reasons you say, exactly what is needed right now.
Even the nobel prize winning energy secretary must understand that

Given the realities of climate change, government subsidies to fossil fuel production anywhere are ultimately self-destructive. As far as peak oil, saving as much domestic oil as possible for future times of scarcity seems like only common sense to me. Why shouldn't we buy foreign oil relatively cheaply now, before global scarcity makes imported oil unavailable, rather than using up the last of our national reserves before the real crunch comes?
In other words, maybe we should offer our children and their children something other than a raised middle finger.
Maybe the nobel prize winning energy secretary does understand that (and maybe not).

Bingo!! But there are those, primarily on the right, who simply believe that with enough drilling we can reach and exceed our previous peak production of oil that occurred in the 70s, even assuming they know we peaked in the 70s. What we do after that is for some future generation to worry about. What is important is that we get gas prices down now, even if that requires laying waste to the environment, including the oceans and Alaska. As if even all out drilling is going to bring about some kind of immediate relief or real relief ever.

This is the battle that is ongoing and will heat up as we approach the next election. Same battle as last time, different election.

And then there are those increasingly lonely souls who take carbon pollution seriously, as well as other forms of pollution, who believe that we should be consuming less of all kinds of fossil fuel energy. This is the "cap and trade" contingent who will be villified from now until eternity.

With respect to domestic oil, even assuming it can be produced in quantities that would make much difference. Oil is a global market. Russia, for example, has had to take steps to attempt to prohibit the export of oil products. Will the U.S. be any different and won't there have to laws put in place prohibiting export so we can rely on domestic oil?

What I was trying to get at in a previous comment is that it is about capital allocation. How is scarce capital allocated in a way that has the best benefit for the greatest number over the long run. To assume that will occur simply be relying on the free market is a mistake. To allocate scarce capital to oil should not necessarily be encouraged by the government in the form of special rules for intangible drilling costs. Yes, this might result in less rapid extraction of remaining oil but then that seems like a prudent policy given the assumption that the U.S. has already peaked.


Does analysis exist which shows whether the IDC etc. provides a net gain in government accounts? That is, does the government make back as much or more in taxes from the land owner royalties, drilling equipment company revenues, etc. than loses or spends by granting these subsidies?

Besides that question, if these the existence of these subsides won't affect Peak Oil/oil increase flows in the U.S., and if the disappearance of these subsidies won't dent the oil companies profit line a bit, then we might just should get rid of them.

If the oil companies won't want to dip into their profit line to drill enough wells to keep the future production as high as possible, that will be very telling...maybe there's no there there.

Now let me repeat this broken record of mine: Open the entire offshore to oil exploration, under appropriately strict environmental regulation (rules to try to prevent disasters, punitive measure for those that blow off the rules and create disasters). ANWR and all that too.

Or how about this: Open everywhere up for exploration, keep the subsidies and further declare a tax holiday on all new production from time that the new finds brought online, for the next ten years...no tax on any of these new finds for 20 years after first production in each case, for first production between now and ten years from now,

See what gets developed in the next ten years.

If it is disappointing, then that would put paid to the Drill, Baby, Drill mantra once and for all.

H – That is THE question, isn’t it? To be honest I don’t know how much I would believe the answers from either side of the issue. One could build the model but it would rely on so many assumptions, many of which can’t be easily quantified or proved.

“if these the existence of these subsides won't affect Peak Oil/oil increase flows in the U.S., and if the disappearance of these subsidies won't dent the oil companies profit line a bit, then we might just should get rid of them.” For one thing it would mean more domestic oil/NG…drill more wells..find more hydrocarbons. That’s always a good thing IMHO. But won’t change PO. Neither will selling all the electric vehicles they put out this year nor will the wind turbines or solar panels built this year. But it better done than not IMHO.

I like to keep question simple…no math involved…LOL: do you want the oil patch spending that money to drill more wells or do you want to give it to the govt to spend on whatever they decide. I don’t really consider it a right or wrong choice to make: just do what the citizens want. Same as DW drilling in the GOM: either ban it or do it and accept the risk. We are a representative democracy: time for the politicians to represent the common man. In the end, it’s his butt on the line. If it has a net negative effect on the economy so what? I see much more serious problems ahead for us. Given how much we’ll need to grow the military in order to eventually take over foreign oil fields (to satisfy the demands of our citizens when PO really starts to inflict serious pain) it might be a better investment for the feds to keep the money.

If it is disappointing, then that would put paid to the Drill, Baby, Drill mantra once and for all.

Sure. And releasing the 'long-form' birth certificate put the Obama birther issue to rest too.


I followed your link and it went to WorldNetDaily!

All I can say is that there sure is a whole lot of people in the U.S. who resent the fact that a black man is president, and a Democrat to boot.

I had a business lunch with some Republican co-workers this week, and one of them was ardent that the Republican party is desperate for Chris Christie to throw his hat in the ring...otherwise the RNC knows that is is doomed to back an also-ran candidate for 2012.

This guy stated his disdain for the entire current Republican 'field'. I didn't ask if he resented Mitt Romney more because he was

a: Too liberal

b. Too boring

c: a Mormon

d: some or all of the above

He said that Tim Pawlenty was OK...but I guess he didn't think the RNC thought that Pawlenty could win.

2012 will be interesting, to be sure.

Romney's greatest weakness is that he is the father of Romneycare - the Massachusetts version of health care reform which in some ways was a template for the national bill.

The rest of the field seems incredibly weak - either with some other fatal flaw. And the people getting the headlines are the kooks (Trump lately, but there are others competing for attention).

When it comes to Rep pres candidates, I must admit to finding it hard to separate the kooks from the not-kooks. Don't they all vehemently deny reality, AKA AGW (not to mention PO)? Not that I see anything amazingly wonderful coming from any other direction, but these guys and gals all seem to have to parrot some pretty bizarre talking points, whether they believe them or not.

whether they believe them or not.

And if they don't (believe), then they gotta be good actors.

I think they pretty much have to champion the loony right to have a chance at the Republican nomination. Then the winner swings more to the center for the general election.

I'm not sure opening everything up would make any difference to the "Drill Baby, Drill" crowd. Any more than showing the birth certificate has stopped the birthers. It's political rhetoric - they'd just find another three-word slogan to use.

My feeling on oil production subsidies. With the oil price well north of a hundred, do we need subsidies anymore? Perhaps the market can drive production without assistence. That and the "don't use it all up as fast as possible, save some for the kids" makes sense (just not political sense).

Pub 535 - Intangible Drilling Costs seems to indicate that you expense IDCs, instead of taking a tax credit?

The benefit is the ability to expense IDCs in the current year or over 5 years, rather than capitalizing them?

Lots of jobs, reduced trade deficit, lots of royalty income to individuals and the govt, lots of revenue to one of our few remaining profitable industries that employs millions (including many of the folks damaged by the BP spill) and can’t be outsourced.

Yeah, I'm not seeing the advantage of it. Lots of jobs . . . well if the jobs go away because a tax credit goes away then it was just a government subsidized job. It would be just the same as cutting a government job and isn't that what everyone wants right now?

Reduced trade defict? Because more domestic oil? If we really want to reduce the trade deficit we should use less oil. Subsidizing this domestic oil extraction is artificially subsidizing the oil price. Better to let the price rise to the natural level such that we use less oil in general and thus lower the trade deficit by using less oil. Or more importantly, it allows oil to rise further such that natural gas vehicles and electric vehicles are more attractive. Those are 100% domestic energy powered vehicles such that they significantly reduce the trade deficit by not using ANY imported oil.

You say that many of these wells would not be drilled w/o the tax credit since they would not be economic. No, they just would not be drilled right now. As prices rise, they will become economic and drilled. We are merely artificially advancing the schedule at which they are drilled. And the whole strategy of drilling up our oil faster is AMAZINGLY short-sighted. Yeah, let's burn up the limited oil we have much faster so we can become 100% dependent on imported oil soon.

No . . . I think it would be better if we just drill up what is economic at prevailing market rates with no subsidies instead of subsidizing the accelerated depletion of our domestic oil.

I think the bottom line is that the subsidies help the oil companies, they don't really help the nation. Actually, with a long-term view the subsidies probably don't even help the oil companies . . . they'll get more for that oil later than they will get for it now.

But the sad thing is that hard-nosed long term analysis won't matter at all. This will become a political football. The subsidies will probably survive (or be resurrected) as people will make simplistic and likely nonsensical tax cut = cheaper gasoline price arguments. Like that Post-It note girl.

"It appears the two main tax items are the DA (depletion allowance) and the IDC (intangible drilling cost) tax deduction. "

My understanding that the biggest chunk is from the manufacturer's tax deduction, which all domestic manufacturers receive. In fact, ethanol companies get the same credit, but I have never heard of this called an ethanol subsidy. Further, foreign firms operating in the U.S. can get it. So we want to take that away -- not from all companies -- but only from our domestic oil companies.

CNN broke down the "subsidies."


Robert – Interesting details…thanks. I was sticking my neck out a bit by starting this thread…the oil patch tax code not my specialty. But it seems the IDC is a good bit different than the other tax breaks. The companies add those to their revenue/profit stream, But with the IDC not only do they not pocket those monies but the actually have to roll more of their cash flow back into drilling. For ever one dollar they get back they have to spend $2 in drilling costs. I suppose one way to characterize it: the public is investing 35% of the cost to drill a well with the return being more cash injected into the economy, more jobs, more income to tax and, hopefully, some more oil/NG. Sounds like a form of economic stimulus that’s become so popular lately. But some folks might not think it’s a fair trade. But, then again, a lot of folks were too happy about the 100’s of billions (more than a trillion?) the govt spent to stimulate the housing, banking and auto industries.

I was not happy about those stimuli (banks, auto...I am not convinced that 'housing' was subsidized...other than by giving banks tons of money that they held on to while they happily foreclosed on homes that they can turn around and sell again).

And, I think that if the oil majors are making a generous profit, then they should not need a tax credit or whatever to drill more wells...they can fund exploration and production strictly out of the profit line...but then they wouldn't make as much profit, and they would be living not quite as high, like many other industries in the U.S. with thinner profit lines due to their need to re-invest profits into future production possibilities.

Speaking as an economist, it is possible and feasible to devise taxes that do not discourage production. For example, a "lump sum" tax will do this.

In general, industry in the U.S. is undertaxed, compared to both other modern economies and also to fairly recent U.S. History. Taxes are going to go up. I promise you that, and I'm not even running for election. The oil industry can easily afford to pay much higher taxes than they do now. Politics, not economics, has driven the subsidies to the oil industry. Shucks, without the oil industry we could scrap all our military industrial complex and rely on the National Guard for self-defense. It is only because we have to defend the interests of oil production that we need the military industrial complex. That is an enormous subsidy that benefits big U.S. and multinational oil companies.


I am blinded by the truth!

Also, the MIC subsidy benefits....the MIC!

A self-licking ice cream cone.

Sheesh, Don, now and then you say something so right-on that it forces me to re-examine my conclusions about economists. I wish you'd stop that. ;^)

Yair...I have asked before but got no deffinitive answer. Can someone explain how the U.S.military is helping (or will help) with American oil supplies?

I think I saw the winning bids for the development of Iraqi oilfields went to mainly Chinese and Russian O.C.s'...I saw a video of Kamaz oilfield trucks in convoy heading down that way.

Doesn't the oil end up on world markets...or, in a worst case scenario are you suggesting that the U.S. will take oil by force and pump it into U.S. tankers? I would wish them the very best of luck with that.

The U.S. wants to maximize oil production to keep global prices down. Only the U.S. Navy, for example, has the power to prevent blockage of the Strait of Hormuz. When the U.S. went into Iraq its highest priority went into protection of the oil infrastructure in that country. It does not matter whose companies develop Iraqi oil: If they can increase Iraq's net exports of oil then they can tend to hold global prices down.

In twenty years from now I can envision the U.S. occupying Venezuala again and running its oil industry to maximize production of their very heavy oil. The U.S. military is going to do whatever they can to ensure oil supplies for themselves and also for the U.S. in general.

China has its long-term oil contracts, but the U.S. has its Navy, Army, Air and Marine Corps. When push comes to shove, the U.S. will probably be able to get more oil imports than China does. Empires do not decline without fighting for survival.

Doesn't the oil end up on world markets

Yes it does, where the US has been able to buy literaly as much as it wants for the last 40 years.

Though that paradigm may be ending, it's worked just fine for 2 generations. It's going to keep on happening until the returns (easy availability of foreign oil) stop.

This thread has got me thinking about this in new ways(thanks, Don.)

The key here seems to have been to stop the native people of oil-producing countries from useing or hordeing it themselves. This has kept the oil available to the developed economies, and keeps us from fighting with each other.

Put another way: it would be problematic on so many fronts for the US to be fighting a British-French-German alliance for control of the Libyan oil fields.

So the US is only the "world policeman" in the sense that it keeps the biggest bullies from fighting with each other.


Edit: Don posted while I was writing (I stopped for lunch) so some of our points overlap.

Yes it does, where the US has been able to buy literaly as much as it wants

Yes. But, the real goal for Iraq, was that countries, and oil companies that supported the invasion were supposed to get sweetheart deals. Unstated was that they would kickback political contributions to those who set up the situation. That part of the plan has not worked out. In fact, doesn't Iraq activly discriminate against those companies associated with the coalition? The best laid plans of men and mice........

H - It's a bit tricky to follow but how much profit an oil company makes (and can thus invest in new drilling) has little to do with the decision to drill any well. Assuming of course they have some capex source coming in. I evaluate Prospect X. Using the IDC in my economic analysis I decide to drill it. If I don't use the IDC in my economic analysis and the project falls below an acceptable level I don't drill it. It doesn't matter if I made a gazillion dollars last year...I'm not going to make an investment that delivers an unacceptable return. That seems to make the IDC different than the other tax breaks: it has a direct and immediate impact on the number of wells drilled. As I've joked before - the oil patch ain't your mommy: we're not going to invest in driling for oil/NG in this country just because folks need it. We drill to make profit. Reduce some of the profit incentive and we'll drill fewer wells. It's the public's/politicians choice.

Again, it’s a simple choice: the oil companies only get the IDC if they spend about twice that value drilling wells. Companies lose that leverage they’ll drill less wells and just distribute the unspent profits to the owners. So what would folks rather do with their huge cash flow: drill more wells domestically and provide more jobs, lease bonuses, royalties, etc or just take that 2/3 of that extra money and distribute it as dividends? I know folks get pissed when they see the income ExxonMobil posts especially after they just filled their car up. But again, there is no Mr. XOM sitting back in his McManson enjoying those billons. The single largest group of beneficiaries of XOM are US folks with the pension funds tied up in ExxonMobil stock. Granted that might not take the sting out of paying a big chunk of their paycheck to drive but would it make them feel better to have that money go some foreign NOC that pays no US taxes…that employees no US workers…that utilize few US companies to produce their oil? We have to pick one or the other…there’s no other option as I see it.

And again, it a choice our citizens can exercise through their representatives. Make the choice and live with the results.

Insofar as I know, there are no current tax credits for drilling. The debate over IDC's is simply a question of how quickly some drilling costs are deducted against income. My understanding is that the depletion allowance does allow some income from production not to be taxed, based on the premise that it is partially a return of capital, based on a depleting asset, but unless I am mistaken, the depletion allowance only currently applies to smaller independents.

However, I would argue that the most dangerous energy subsidy that the US government provides is an effective subsidy to consumers, in the form of lower energy consumption taxes, relative to most other OECD countries. But policy makers and most media outlets are stuck with the virtually infinite world model that they have effectively been supporting, so it's quite difficult for them to talk about punishing consumption, in the form of higher taxes, so they have to talk about punishing the producers.

As noted up the thread, many oil companies are between a rock and a hard place, having promised that Peak Oil (in the form of an "Undulating Plateau") is, worst case, decades away. Therefore, from the point of view of consumers, if we have vast oil supplies, it only stands to reason that high oil prices are due to nefarious actions by producers and due to "speculation."

I've posted a comment augmented version of my presentation at the Third Annual Biophysical Economics Meeting in Syracuse NY held at SUNY-ESF. It is a tutorial on the role of net energy in the economy.


Nice graphics in the PDF version --THANKS

Some wonder when demand destruction for gasoline will start. Looks like we might be getting close per: Walmart consumers are out of cash.

"Purchases are really dropping off by the end of the month even more than last year."

I think the demand destruction is starting now. What do you think?

very interesting. i've been wondering if/when we might see a similar oil price falloff similar to August 2008. it gets difficult trying to talk to people about Peak Oil. im cautious about talking too much if prices will again drop, and they all get suspicious of me.

Don't tell them the price of oil will rise inexorably. It won't. Tell them there will be huge volatility, falling each time the price, and the associated economic damage (unemployment, rising costs of food & other necessities, etc) becomes too much to bear. Then it will rise again as we pick up the pieces, rising sharply as supply constraints caused by peak/declining ability to extract oil kick in. Essentially what we've seen the last several years, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. Don't hang your peak oil hat on ever rising prices. It won't be that way...

I think Jim Kunstler described it rather well in his last piece thus:

"The price of oil is going to go way up, and way down, and way up again, and way down again until everyone is too broke to ask for any, and companies are too ruined to go get it for them, and governments are too broken to interfere in the process."


"Demand destruction" is not a term used by economists, because it is inherently ambiguous. On the one hand, it may refer to quantity demanded diminishing as price increase; the term is often used that way. On the other hand, "demand destruction" might refer to a reduction in aggregate demand caused by a recession. These two usages get hopelessly mixed up in ordinary use of the term. My advice is to avoid it, and for economic questions use the language of economists.

To the best of my recollection, Matt Simmons invented the term "demand destruction," and the obnoxious phrase has really caught on at TOD, much to my chagrin as a card-carrying economist and also as a careful writer.

Language really matters: If you talk about anthropology you should use the language of anthropologists, and if you talk about physics you should use the words and math that physicists use.


Many folks would appreciate a valid shorthand to aid discussion.

How about:

Inflation-driven demand reduction


Recession-driven demand reduction?

Just wondering...

Good for you for trying to find alternatives to the ambiguous "demand destruction"! Unfortunately, your suggestions still conflate "demand" with "quantity demanded." "Demand" refers to a whole range of quantities and prices that can be shown by a graph or a table of numbers or in prose. "Quantity demanded" refers to the amount of a product that will be purchased at one particular price, often the equilibrium price.

Aggregate demand is a whole 'nuther subject.

As usual, I recommend my 1996 textbook on economics--ECONOMICS: MAKING GOOD CHOICES by Don Millman. Last time I looked it was available for pennies on amazon.com. Really, any introductory economics textbook is likely to have a good discussion on the distinction between "demand" and "quantity demanded." Even journalists who write for publications such as THE ECONOMIST and THE WALL STREET JOURNAL usually get the distinctions correct. If journalists can do economics terminology correctly, we should be able to do the same on TOD.


I think that an important question which does not seem to have an easy answer is how elastic is the oil (crude + condensate) supply curve?

Then we have to consider substitution, such as ethanol, Coal-to-liquids, Natural gas-to-Liquids, 'tar sands', etc.

Since these substitute products will be more expensive over time, then we ask how elastic the demand curve is? Then ask what substitute products exist to satisfy the underling demand for transportation...do with less, telecommute?

What do you think of EROEI?

Is it logical to posit that EROEI is represented in the price of goods?

What about externalities?

Are you interested in writing a book about the economics of energy supply wrt the World economy?


No, I'm not interested in writing a book about the economics of energy supply with respect to the world economy, because the market for that book would be extremely limited. Currently I'm working on an 80,000 word novel of a Peak Oil aware married couple who have deep conflicts. He wants to live in a walkable urban neighborhood (like Highland Park, St. Paul, where I live) but she wants to go back to the land and have a lot of babies. He does not want the responsibilities of fatherhood in a soon to be collapsing society. They are deeply in love and respect one another's opinions but cannot agree on where to live and whether or not to have children. There is conflict. There is drama. There is an idea that might appeal to a literary agent (the first big hurdle in publishing) or to an editor who wants a book with broad appeal.

Externalities are the main theme of my 1996 economics text book. My point is that to make good choices we must include external costs and benefits of an action. I'd be delighted to do a new edition of my textbook. It made money, lots for the publisher and more than $100,000 for me after taxes for 2,000 hours of enjoyable work.

I think EROI is included in the costs of goods, and hence I don't have much use for the concept. Emergy is another dead-end concept IMHO.

What I really should do is to write an article for the JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES in which I get into Peak Oil and related topics. One of the editors is a former professor at U.C. Berkeley who may remember me for asking heretical questions in the highest level theory of economics classes. Economic theory has a lot of holes in it; it is even worse than physics. (Physics is in bad shape, I think, because they still cannot reconcile General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics--plus the standard model is obviously wrong. Indeed, I think physics theory is even more of a mess than is economic theory.)

I choose my battlegrounds with care.

In regard to the price elasticity of supply of oil I suggest rereading many of the comments of Rockman and Darwinian. Basically, what oil companies try to do is to maximize cash flow. Oil is price inelastic for supply because of this emphasis on bottom-line cash flow. If the price of oil crashes to $50 a barrel tomorrow, production wouldn't go down much during 2011 because of the goal being cash flow maximization. Eventually, a $50 price for oil would result in much less production from oil resources than would a $100 price for oil. Similarly, we can get more oil (quite a bit more) at $200 per barrel than at $100 per barrel.

But the actual oil producer is looking primarily at cash flow right now. Thus he does not behave as a profit maximizing agent should behave according to economic theory. One more problem with much of economic theory, though it is being remedied by a recent shift to looking at behavioral economics--what people actually do.

Currently I'm working on an 80,000 word novel of a Peak Oil aware married couple who have deep conflicts. He wants to live in a walkable urban neighborhood (like Highland Park, St. Paul, where I live) but she wants to go back to the land and have a lot of babies. He does not want the responsibilities of fatherhood in a soon to be collapsing society. They are deeply in love and respect one another's opinions but cannot agree on where to live and whether or not to have children. There is conflict. There is drama. There is an idea that might appeal to a literary agent (the first big hurdle in publishing) or to an editor who wants a book with broad appeal.

Sharon Astyk says make it Young Adult fiction. "Vampire" in the title might help, too.

I have written two young adult science fiction novels set in a near post-Collapse future. To date I have not been able to interest a literary agent in these books. I have, however, collected a stack of very interesting and encouraging rejection letters from some highly-esteemed publishers.

It is about as hard to find a good agent as it is to find a good spouse.

Actually, it would be easier for me to find a spouse than to find an agent; healthy single males in my age range are few and far between. I tried a dating service once, and it was very good--found three prospective mates, but I decided I prefer the independence of the single life to being married. The dating agency has offered me more free dates due to the paucity of suitable males. I should follow up on that offer.


Is it feasible for you to self-publish your novels?

Can you get them onto the Amazon Kindle for acceptable terms or something like that and build a fan base?


If my writing is good enough (and various people besides myself think it is) then I should be able to market it successfully through conventional channels. That is where the money is. I want to make tons more money so that I can donate more to Planned Parenthood. I don't need to accumulate more wealth, but I do like distributing it.

Tip of my hat to you, sir.

If my writing is good enough (and various people besides myself think it is) then I should be able to market it successfully through conventional channels.

Once upon a time, yes. But I suspect you're writing at a level far above and beyond what today's education product can handle- both grammar and vocabulary. Witness the sparkly vampires.

Despite the yowlings of the school system, my son didn't become a reader until, after a teen episode (serious by our family's standard, but not society's) I banished him to his room for a week with no electronics.

He just about gnawed his own paws off for two days. Then I offered him his choice from my library. He became an avid reader (thanks to Robert Jordan).

Seriously, don't deprive the world of your works just because the conventional publishing industry is focused on the spending money of teen girls!

And don't underestimate the value of the spending money of teen girls.

The publishing industry, like other media, is facing a sea change with the internet. A lot of pro authors who have fairly successful careers in the old media are doing self-publishing now.

If my writing is good enough (and various people besides myself think it is) then I should be able to market it successfully through conventional channels.

FARfetched offers a different take on modern publishing.

Thanks, that is a very interesting link, and a very good assessment of the current situation, IMO.

I don't own a Kindle, but I am buying and reading Kindle books using the free Kindle for PC software. There are a few books that are $10 or $20 or even $30 in paperback, but only a few bucks for an e-Book. I can't resist that price difference. Plus, I like being able to buy books without adding to my physical possessions (I'm trying to get rid of clutter, not acquire more).

It's true that a Kindle, iPad, PC, etc., is expensive, but people are willing to shell out for value. Playstations sell very well to the low-income demographic, because even though the initial outlay is high, you get a lot of entertainment from it, since games can be played over and over again.

I prefer to keep hard copies of reference/how-to books and certain classics. I have books passed down from my grandparents which I expect to pass on to my grandkids. Having only electronic versions of these resources would make me nervous, and reading an electronic version of Gone With The Wind wouldn't seem the same as reading the signed first edition we have on the shelf. Kunstler's mileage may vary ;-)

Just some food for thought on the discussion of traditional paper media books vs electronic.

... He also explains the math by which it makes a lot more sense to retain 70% of your earnings on ebooks priced cheaply, rather than 14.9% on expensive books put out by publishers.


I am on my second Kindle. There are many free books. One can also get free samples of all Kindle books. I have some samples from very expensive neuroscience textbooks that I have not yet finished. Recently got some Larry McMurtry samples - but then was seduced into buying one. I just watched Tibor Machen on C-Span and now plan to get some of his samples. For a while I had a subscription to the TOD blog but it did not include the discussions. Was still useful to keep up while traveling. If I come across any known oily books on Kindle from TOD posters I promise to buy them.

I just watched Tibor Machan on C-Span

Me too, well a couple of snips of the interview as time permitted.

What did you think of him?

My impression is that he is somewhat of a pompous 8-hole in his dogmatic beliefs about free-will, consistency of philosophical framework and people not being "herd animals".

Of course we're herd animals. If it were not so, I would not even pay attention to what he says or what anyone says for that matter. But the "group" does matter. What the "group" thinks does matter. No man (or woman) wants to be an island.

http://szatyor2693.wordpress.com/ :

Yet if that is what the democratic processes yields [Nazism], how can champions of unlimited democracy protest?


As mentioned by others - you could always self-ebook publish.

And the instant printing business would allow for paper versions.

But then you'd be more in charge of your own destiny. VS a publisher who has exactly what reason to work hard to promote your book/writing career?


Thank you for taking the time to give your perspectives!

I agree that it seems that physics has been ripe for an other 'Einstein leap'...very exciting to think that another paradigm shift in understanding is probably waiting for someone to wrap their noggin around and then tell the World.

I really, really wish that we could go back in time and not fly the ISS and use that money instead on more and better NASA 'Space Observatories' (a la Chandra, HST, WISE, FUZE, etc), along with more and better solar system probes.

'Spam in a can' is expensive and doesn't pay many scientific dividends, IMO.

Physics is in bad shape, I think, because they still cannot reconcile General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics

Physics is way not my thing. Mostly because they have so much trouble with describe-it-in-words-not-numbers. The broad concepts are really interesting though...

I recall reading a few years back that some guy had figured out a way to connect those two to each other. Something about eleven dimensions. I said, "Groovy!" and haven't paid any attention to it since. I guess he was disproven.

Physics has been wandering in the box canyon of String Theory sense the 1970s, and aside from some elegant math, has gone nowhere.
As Smolin and other physicist have pointed out, it may be time to stop the mental masturbation, and take a different path.

That may be true, but there are many facets to physics, many associated with practical things. I have long thought partical physics was a sort of deadend, for as the expense of making progress grows, the number of people who are capacble of comprehending the results goes down. It is hard to justify spending billions for experimental apparatus, that only a handful of people understand or care about.

If economics could be reduced to only two theories that worked as well as General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, it would be a wonderful thing.

You are of course 100% correct. But economics is a social science, not a hard science such as chemistry, physics, astronomy, or botany.

Social sciences are somewhat like predicting the weather: We can do it, but not especially well. Tornados can arise when none were in the forecast. I think it is true that God invented economists to make weather forecasters look good by comparison:-)

Then ask what substitute products exist to satisfy the underling demand for transportation...do with less, telecommute?

Tongue in Cheek (mostly)

I am sure that the Ford, GM and Chrysler employees look forward to telecommuting to their jobs on the assembly line?
Same for the clerks at WalMart, the shopping mall, auto repair shop mechanics, etc....

The fewer people who have jobs that can be telecommuted to, the better off the country will be. (You can't off-shore non-telecommuting jobs very easily)

Your point is valid.

Perhaps, as mentioned before on this site, there will be a gradual shift to carpooling, living closer to the job, taking the bus or light rail or biking when suitable.

Nor can you offshore energy production( except for near the border). If you have a power plant it is like food from the ground. true you cannot eat a kilowatt but you can power a lamp, make fertilizer, and do other things to grow food.

ida - Sure you can offshore enregy production unless you meant just electricity. ExxonMobil and the other Big Oils spend far more drilling and producing in other countries than in the US. The big companies just can't function efficiently in most of our dwindling trends.

(You can't off-shore non-telecommuting jobs very easily)

You can't offshore them but you can sure shut them down and build your plant in India, or China or... And you will find labor there a fraction of what it is in the US of A.

Ron P.

True, some jobs cannot be telecommuted.

Can't in any practical way do remote plumbing or farming currently.

But you CAN telecommute for almost all white-collar jobs where people spend most of their time in a corporate cube, mainly using a 'puter and phone.

I've posted before on my situation: I career telecommute from home every workday except Mondays.

It seems the car commute fuel savings could be huge if more of society, globally, starts to do it.

All the company had to issue was a corporate cell phone. Their standard PC is to provide a laptop with docking station in the cube.

To telecommmute, only required RSA secure key fob, and VPN software, and a home broadband connection. ;)

...how elastic is the oil (crude + condensate) supply curve?

Heisenberg, the values I have seen on price elasticity are as follows:

Oil Supply = 0.03

Short-term Oil Demand = 0.02

Long-term Oild Demand = 0.08

There is very little elasticity in either supply or demand.



Are you able to disclose your source?

So,with these figures, small reductions in supply could conceivably result in rather large price increases.

But.....the situation is dynamically interactive...if there is a lot of 'waste' (or 'opportunity to become more efficient') in the demand variable, then people should be able to 'do more with less', therefore altering the slope of the demand curve?

I guess I will ask a real-world question...in inflation-adjusted terms, how has the supply and demand curves shifted since early 20012, when, IIRC, gasoline in the U.S. was ~~$1.50/gallon?

In that period of time, how has the absolute supply of oil/etc. (that which can be converted in gasoline) changed? If Vehicle Miles Driven per year has steadily increased during the same period, what does that say?

I guess I am struggling to apply historical real-world data to supply/demand market equilibrium curves.

I did find an interactive supply.demand graph gizmo...are there more advanced versions of this where one can play 'what if'?


Are you able to disclose your source?

Heisenberg, I found the oil price elasticity information from a link in a comment posted on The Oil Drum within about the last week. I have looked for the link tonight but can not find the entry. I will search some more tomorrow for it.

I agree the situation is dynamic. I have not seen anything other than the static percentages.


Thanks...don't sweat finding the link on my behalf, I was just curious where the data came from.

Market equilibrium supply/demand (sorry about my imprecise usage Don!)graphs are interesting, but I am not convinced about their predictive value...too many unknown factors, too much unknowns about human psychology, which is an inherent issue when trying to make economic predictions.


Stuart Staniford's piece from April 27th quoted Table 3.1 of the IMF's World Economic Outlook.



Thank you very much.


Stuart Staniford's piece from April 27th quoted Table 3.1 of the IMF's World Economic Outlook.

Heisenberg, thanks to Bill UK you have the source of the values I had listed for price elasticity of oil supply/demand.

Here is a link to a previous comment I made about the elasticity: My comment in April 20, 2011 Drumbeat

Market equilibrium supply/demand graphs are interesting, but I am not convinced about their predictive value... to make economic predictions.

I think the key point to learn is that oil supply/demand is relatively inelastic. The limited elasticity is related to the large price swings seen for small changes in oil supply/demand.

Why is it that specialists in any field always insist that their definition of a word is the only correct one? This might be valid if the word is exclusive to that speciality, but the hijacking of a normal word and demanding exclusive defining rights is not acceptable.

The 99.9+% of persons who (thankfully) are not economists should not be required to change their normal usage and understanding of such words as "demand" to suit your narrow definition. To most users of English, "demand" is just a stronger form of "want". If you cannot handle this, then you need to invent your own, new, exclusive word for whatever limited meaning you wish it to have, not write textbooks trying to justify your stance.

For this particular word, the economists' technical sense was a new one they invented, so they don't need to reattach it to yet some other word. It's not unlike "force", where a technical meaning used by physicists coexists with other meanings that are only loosely related. To most users of English, the main sense of "demand" as a noun would be captured in phrases like "ransom demand", or "the union's list of demands", which are very strong forms of "want" indeed. This is only loosely related to the economists' technical usage, which is usually the actual subject when the word is used around here. (After all, very few go to the gas station to "demand" gas in the manner of a kidnapper demanding a ransom.) So, as with "force", it's hard to see how there is a genuine issue here.

Besides, we can be sure that if economists start calling it "phylaxis" tonight, those who hate economics because it delivers news they do not wish to deal with will continue on with exactly the same arguments, simply substituting "phylaxis" for "demand". So nothing would change, except that those especially allergic to said news might be enabled to complain of "anaphylaxis". Often, when the argument over the meaning becomes heated, the underlying issue seems to be one species or another of wishful utopian thinking heedless of real-world politics, constraints, and/or consequences. Merely changing out the word absolutely won't solve a problem of that sort - it has no solution, not least because utopians tend to be impervious to argument.

understanding of such words as "demand"

Dear Merv,

It seems that you perhaps do understand the meaning of "economics".

Try this thought experiment:

Replace the word "demand" with the phrase: "manufactured desire".

Now let's try it on for size by revisiting the the supply/ desire curves.

So over here you have the supply curve. See?
Quantity goes up as Price goes up and sellers then make more money.

And here you have the "manufactured desire" curve. See?
If sellers push the "manufactured desire" curve upward in the Quantity direction, Price goes up and they make more and more money.

Now luckily for us, in the "real" world, sellers do not do despicable things like pushing the "manufactured desire" curve upward in the Quantity direction. If they did, then OMG, TV would be nothing but one commercial and then another. One shudders at the thought.

And besides, in the "real" world, "desires" are not manufactured. Heck no.
Consumers "demand" it and the sellers are nothing more than the loyal servants of the people, giving onto them only that which they "demand".

That is why economists are forced into using the "demand" word.
They have no choice.
The dismal science demands it to be so.
Do you see it now?

How much clearer do we have to make it?

Why is it that specialists in any field always insist that their definition of a word is the only correct one? This might be valid if the word is exclusive to that speciality, but the hijacking of a normal word and demanding exclusive defining rights is not acceptable

Amen to that. I was at the receiving end of that behaviour when the word "model" was hijacked in this way. The hijacking contaminated 50% of the comments thread to a TOD guest post I wrote six months ago verifying the Export Land "Model" (ELM).

Needless to say, I was not amused.

Some good part of the replies for "Assessing the energy implications of political intervention" are on bicycling. Once one of these resonances gets going...

Persistent high unemployment levels (higher than the officially reported U3 rate) leave a significant number of folks without a lot of money to spend.

I do not know what the future will hold, but I am pessimistic that there will be a return to the apparent 'good times' during much of the 1990s.

If spending on the Military-Homeland Security-Spycraft Complex were to be cut substantially, there would be many more folks out of work, both from primary job losses as well as knock-on effects.

In my opinion, the U.S. has had an government industrial stimulus policy for decades...geared towards MIC spending. I am not sure what we have got out it from a sustainable society standpoint except a big ole drain on resources. It was not as if the Ruskies and Chinese et al (or even the Muslims, the latest bogeymen) were/are massing to storm our beaches in landing craft or parachute into the heartland a la Red Dawn.


NEW YORK --- The aerospace and defense (A&D) industry achieved record financial results in 2010, as the top 100 companies in the sector reported a combined $646 billion in revenue and $58 billion in operating profit, according to the PwC US Aerospace & Defense 2010 year in review and 2011 forecast. While revenues in 2010 showed a modest increase of 2 percent compared to the previous year, operating profit experienced an uptick of 19 percent over 2009 levels.


Of course these citations refer to contractor money...we are not listing monies spent by governments to pay wages etc for uniformed military members and government MIC employees, nor monies paid for fuel, utilities, etc.

Trust me, most of the U.S. MIC employees are not running short of cash at the end of the month!

If spending on the Military-Homeland Security-Spycraft Complex were to be cut substantially, there would be many more folks out of work, both from primary job losses as well as knock-on effects.

True, but it would free up capital to chase more productive avenues, which would likely improve the quality of life overall. Money not spent on the military is money that doesn't have to be borrowed from bondholders or outright printed. This frees up bondholder capital to chase other, almost certainly smarter uses. Cut away.


I agree with you...we should cut the MIC budget right away, and substantially (Follow the lead of the Britsh government in their recent domestic and MIC budget cuts).

However, I can't see that happening...it is America's #1 sacred cow.

And before someone jumps in and says "No, the #1 sacred cow is social spending", I hasten to point out how much airtime cutting social spending has gotten in the past 30 years vice how much airtime cutting MIC spending has received.

It is taboo to even discuss MIC cuts.

Exception: After the Berlin Wall fell, the // growth // of the MIC budgets was //slowed//...but the rise of the Muslim bogeyman fixed that little problem.

Keep in mind that in 2001 the U.S. was seemingly attempting to gin up China as our next big peer competitor to replace Russia/USSR...remember the Hainan Island EP-3 incident (April 1-11 2001)?


Not long after this incident, another incident (September 11, 2001)afforded the U.S. MIC justification for open-ended budget largesse.

Coincidentally, the situation afforded the U.S. an opportunity to plant our flag and our boots in the ME oil patch.

Walmart customers are in the low income quintiles. Gasoline expenditures as a percentage of income were as follows:

Quintile      Percent
highest       2
upper         3.5
middle        4
lower         5
lowest        9%
Plus many of Walmarts customers are using either benefits debit cards or payroll debit cards, where the government or employer transfers money each month into a prepaid debit card. These folks typically use up the prepaid balance before the end of each month.

These folks typically use up the prepaid balance before the end of each month.

Merrill, with the price of gas increasing daily, next month will be even worse.

I've done a bit of research on this. http://everybarrelcounts.blogspot.com/2011/05/tale-of-two-income-groups-...

According to BLS, the poorest 93% Americans (those earning 150k or less per consumption unit) spent 3.8% of their pretax income on gasoline and motor oil in 2009. This compares to 5.5% in 1984.

So although times seem tough for the poor, the situation in 2009 was less dire than 25 years ago. That having said I'd love to see the stats for 2011.

According to BLS, the poorest 93% Americans...

Considering the facts of income and wealth distribution in the US, that's not a very enlightening statistic.

It would be a lot more meaningful if you'd break it down for us.

I would say it's quite enlightening. The poorest 93% households raked in $49k pretax, on average, in 2009. The other 7% did 236k, or almost 5x as much.

Now 49k is by no means a small amount but sensitive enough to changes in prices for essential goods and services--I'd very much like to meet a typical American family that says they get by on 49k just fine, so I don't think taking the poorest 93% as too blunt.

I have to think it's largely 'Gas Money' that people are hanging onto desperately now, figuring out how to put off any but the most essential purchases.

"Hold onto your butts.." (Arnold, about to try resetting the Electrical Breakers in the Control Room of Jurassic Park)

That's an interesting article.

The economy really seems to be pulling in two directions. The wealthy/educated are doing pretty well, while low-income folks are being hammered. How long can that go on?

while low-income folks are being hammered. How long can that go on?

Just as long as low-income folk are ok with continuing to have less and less, while the game gets tweaked in favor of those that have.

In the early days of this site, many predicted that the poor/middle class/formerly well off would riot due to the deprivations of high gas prices/shortages/unemployment. So far, it really hasn't happened. People are more or less just accepting it.

I guess Michael Moore is right. Americans don't hate the rich, because we all expect to the be the rich one day.

Maybe peak oil in the US will just mean we look more and more like a developing nation, with a lot more rich people, and a heck of a lot more very poor.

I think there will be riots, but it will still take some time.
We're already seeing a phenomenom of the rich seperating from everyone else(gated communities, private security).

This reminds me of the old established élite, trying to fend off the hungry masses. This usually cannot go on for very long, and I am not a believer in permanent national cultures. Americans may be uniquely predisposed to unrealistic optimism but Americans are human beings in the end, and not stupid.

The overwhelming majority of people will never be rich in their lives, no matter how good the times are, but you need a good foundation for people to believe such fairy tales to begin with. As the economic conditions continues to decline steadily, people will become more and more desperate and sheer situational awarness will mandate them to abandon any unrealistic hopes, and that usually entails growing ire at people who are exploiting those who are weak or people who are just doing very well at the expense of others(like corporations paying zero domestic taxes while firing people to boost their bonuses at the top).

Reality may catch up in America much slower than in other places, but it will catch up eventually.
Events will force people to see things the way they are, as more and more lose their jobs, people get more desperate and Wall St, Big Oil et al gets fatter and fatter profits and bonuses.

I think it has to do with perceptions. People riot when they feel the consequences of getting shot/being in jail are no worse than what was happening already. They also will riot over a trigger such as a large and abrupt injustice.

So far, social programs take enough edge off the worst deprivation to keep the "consequence thing" at the right balance, to prevent action from becoming equal to inaction in value to the survival of the individual.

Wow, there must be a simpler way to express that. :P

I am getting a feeling that the top end of the income scale is taking too much for their own good. As the bottom end suffers there will be less to pass up the feeding chain to those at the top. Too much shrinkage at the bottom will lead to a crash at the top.


Keeping the heat on
Markey, others push to block cuts to fuel assistance program

With the price of heating oil in Massachusetts topping $4 a gallon recently, Congressman Edward J. Markey and dozens of his peers in the House are pushing lawmakers to block deep cuts to a program that helps low-income families pay winter heating bills.

President Obama’s current budget proposal would slash the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program’s funding by more than half for next winter — to $2.57 billion from $4.7 billion this year. But advocates for the poor say that’s nowhere near enough money to aid all the low-income families needing help — especially if fuel prices continue to rise.

Earlier this month, a gallon of home heating oil averaged $4.02 in Massachusetts, less than 70 cents shy of the historic high in 2008.

See: http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/articles/2011/04/30/marke...

The oil-fired boilers found in many older homes are perhaps no more than 60 to 65 per cent efficient, and at $4.00 per gallon that puts the cost of oil heat in the range of 16-cents per kWh(e). In Canada, the average cost of a litre of fuel oil now stands at $1.205 CDN -- $4.80 per gallon when converted to US funds -- or closer to 20-cents per kWh(e).


El Hierro in the Canary Islands is to become oil free, except they are putting in a PVC plastic liner for their hydro storage reservoir. What happens when the liner needs to be replaced?

Come on. Are you debunking something?

Where is it written that they HAVE TO use plastic to line a reservoir? This hardly sounds like an intractable problem.

Well, the liner costs money. So there must be a reason why they need it. Perhaps the underlying rock is too porous?

Undoubtedly there are other ways it could be sealed or whatever. The plastic liner is just the cheapest one at the moment.

I think the point the person was trying to make was, how even when we go all renewable and green, there are so often ties back to fossil fuels.

I think the point the person was trying to make was, how even when we go all renewable and green, there are so often ties back to fossil fuels.

Quite so. And an island may be able to provide it's own "fuel", or consumable energy, but clearly the goods it imports are all still dependent on energy, as is the act of importing them.

It's a start, and hopefully will be economically advantageous, but is only sustainable as long as the rest of the world that makes the good they need, is still making them.

And I'm saying that there a number of other goods that can accomplish this task, or they may adjust the task with other approaches to water handling or to energy storage.

I don't deny that there are many materials built on the petrofuel empire that will catch us short when the prices and availability of these otherwise unthought-of enabling technologies makes them start to disappear and show us how dependent we were on them.. but I think it's also a blindspot in the TOD conversations that looks at everything that was made with the beneficence of Oil, and the JOBS that those products have done for us to be doomed with the advent of PO.

The throwaway culture of plastics might not even go away entirely, even if it has to shrink a lot, since the feedstocks for polymers can come from a wide range of biological sources, (not the least of course being natural gas) and the products that we can be making from corn starch, caseine, plant oils, etc can become a much more biodegradable set of objects, and we could potentially do as earlier nomads did and just let our built items work back safely into the soil.

That doesn't mean I'm sanguine about our plastic use.. particularly the new convention of building houses with All-PEX and PVC plumbing inside the walls. It's a toxic nightmare from the PVC, and a plumber just told me he's found that mice LOVE nibbling on the PEX. He's already been finding pinhole sprays behind 'drywall'. That one won't end well.

But lining a reservoir? I have to believe there are a few worthy solutions available for this, even if the material has to be 'Imported by Sailing Ship!' ..

Nato strike 'kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi', Libya says

BBC Breaking News: A Nato air strike in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, has killed the son of the Libyan leader, Colonel Gadaffi, a government spokesman has said.

Colonel Gaddafi himself was in the house which was hit by the strike, the spokesman added, but he was unharmed.

His son Saif al-Arab was killed, as well as three of the Libyan leader's grandsons.

I wonder when NATO will start bombing Syria, with special emphasis on sites that might be sheltering members of the Assad inner circle.

Probably not before Syria finds a way to move up the list of oil and gas producers, eh?

Lucky for the Syrian leadership they don't have much oil then isn't it? The Syrian ambassador to the UK did have his invitation to the Royal Wedding withdrawn though so that should teach them a lesson...

BBC and Sky News reporting from Tripoli. They've just been taken to the scene. House in an up-market residential area, close to but not part of Gaddafi's compound. Heavy destruction reported. BBC reporter saying seems surprising if anyone could have emerged alive or at least uninjured.

Wonder if Gaddafi will hold a State Funeral and, if so, will NATO resist the temptation to target it?

Obama should be very careful about trying to kill Qadafi or his family members. After the CIA tried to kill Fidel Castro at least six times, Castro sent Lee Harvey Oswald to Dallas to kill Kennedy. Since then the U.S. has not tried to kill enemy leaders or their family members. I hope that the U.S. was not directly involved in this attack on the Qadafi home.

It is really easy to target a helicopter with a shoulder launched missle. Bringing down Air Force One would be a lot harder, but Quadafi probably still has the resources to do so.

Tit for tat.

29-year-old Saif al-Arab Gadhafi and the grandchildren were killed during what he called a direct attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader.


One of Gadhafi's sons killed in NATO airstrike, Libyan official says. several of Moammar Gadhafi's grandchildren also died in the attack.

Obama briefly leaves dinner upon news of Libyan airstrike


Do you think those in power will allow this kind of freedom of information, ahead of the spin, in real time, to go on? Can they survive?

If it appears to Qadafi that Obama approved the airstrike that targeted his home, then I expect Qadafi to retaliate by trying to kill Obama. I did not vote for Obama (or any major party candidate), but I find it hard to believe that Obama would be stupid enough to sanction the targeting of Qadafi and family. Could that man be that stupid? Wonders will never cease, and it looks as if political assasinations will never cease either.

Quadafi would just have to join the queue.


Obama should be very careful about trying to kill Qadafi or his family members.

Yes and, apparently, that (killing family members, including children, in a bombing of a residence Qaddafi was in) is exactly what just happened.

Leaving aside the legal and moral implications (which don't seem to bother us much, in any event), the blowback from this sort of thing tends to be severe and unpredictable.

After the CIA tried to kill Fidel Castro at least six times, Castro sent Lee Harvey Oswald to Dallas to kill Kennedy.

I doubt Castro had anything to do with it (Although Lyndon Johnson thought he did). If you are interested in the Kennedy assassination, and haven't read it already, Bugliosi's work is indispensable (and so far, I think, definitive). He treats the Castro connection theories rather thoroughly.

Four Days in November

We struck something like fifty leadership targets during the Iraq invasion. Always claimed we had great intelligence, that Sddam (or some other high up muckytmuck was present). The grand total of high value leaders knocked off by all the bombs, .....zero! Lots of civilian collateral damage, no leadership targets taken out! Its not so easy as people assume.

We struck something like fifty leadership targets during the Iraq invasion. Always claimed we had great intelligence...

Uh-huh. Apparently, "we" are achieving similar results in Libya.

Libya disabled children school hit in NATO strike

TRIPOLI, April 30 (Reuters) - Shattered glass litters the carpet at the Libyan Down's Syndrome Society, and dust covers pictures of grinning children that adorn the hallway, thrown into darkness by a NATO strike early on Saturday.

It was unclear what the target of the strike was, though Libyan officials said it was Muammar Gaddafi himself, who was giving a live television address at the time.

We do not know how to have a war without collateral damage. This is a "humanitarian" mission. Never mind the inhumanity dispensed to those who happen to be in the way. Libya is a no win situation but these no win situations will never end.

I am skeptical of reports of civilian casualties coing out of Tripoli (not that collateral damage doesn't happen in such campaigns). Qaddafi has a hsitory of faking and hyping such things. In 86 he claimed his daughter was killed in the airstrikes, turned out is wasn't his daughter. He has been caught doing such things as burying empty coffins and claiming they were cilivian casualties, and blowing up a house (presumably of some enemy) and claiming it was an airstrike. So the task of determining what really happened is nontrivial.

JuanCole (who clearly has become a cheerleader for Free Libya, and the arab spring in general), gives a plausible scenario. Signals intelligence finds orders to field units to attack civilians coming from building X, and targets it. If any of Gaddafi's sons are involved and present, they are at risk. Also there is a great deal of skepticism about whether Saif-al was actually present/killed. It may have been faked by Gaddafi in order to gain sympathy/discredit NATO. Trying to cut through the fog of war, is not always straightforward. We are trying to gather information from compromised sources at best.

I would think if he has any competenece by now, Qaddafi would know how to attract a NATO airstrike to any particular structure. Just attach an attenna, and then broadcast the right sort of military signals. So if he has anyone who is becoming a problem, or whose loyalty in questioned, he can arrange for that person to be presnt at ground zero. Then he can cry crocodile tears when the victims body is pulled from the wreakage. Its really tough to have a clean campaign against a really rithless dictator. He can arrange to to have orphanges and babymilk factories appear to be military targets, then make hay when the strike hits them.

bull.... Reagan bombed ka-daffi's tent in the 1980's. killed an adopted child.

I don't think they(we?) want to jump into Syria. So we are secretly relieved that the Russians and Chinese have decided to veto any UN actions wrt Syria. Its great cover to not be asked by the UN (and arab league). So I think any Syrian rebels won't be getting western help once this thing mutates into a civil war ala Libya. It really amazing to me, the military has orders to shoot to kill demonstrators, yet more and more keep coming out, knowing that they will be met with bullets. These are some pretty amazing times. Sad to see so many brave souls getting dealt with in this manner.

As I pointed out in a post when this all started, NATO has to go after a decapitation strike eventually, or leave it in an oil-less stalemate. So far most of the things I predicted have happened.

I also said they'd go after the C&C as a surrogate for openly targeting Gaddaffi, since they know who is close to the top, and:

A Nato spokesman said the strike had hit a "known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood".


From BBC article about Qaddafi family deaths:

[UK Foreign Secretary William Hague] added: "The attacks against diplomatic missions will not weaken our resolve to protect the civilian population in Libya."


I don't really know what to think about all this mess.

Wind made 45 Giga-Watt hours of power yesterday in California.
Renewables as a group made 99GWh.
The total demand was 607GWh.

1/6th is within the same order of magnitude.
It is a bit more than what is supplied by nuclear in California.

When I first went to this data, I thought wind would be a sliver.


power being 1/6 wouldn't be a surprise.....but energy (gwh) is. I assume that is a daily total. Impressive (although haven't looked at the caiso site yet).

But, the current renewables target is 20%, so 1/6 shows how far off target we are. Of course a good chunk (20 percent or more) of the non renewable is big-old hydro, which isn't allowed to call itself renewable. For the second time ever my panels pumped out 17KWhours. Clear blue skies, and a strong cold wind letting the silicon stay at an operating temperature. But temps are supposed to rise, and winds to drop. So those numbers are gonna start falling.

Every week on my weekend bike ride I spot yet another rooftop PV system. Most are hard to spot -not facing the road. Our town may be up to a half percent residential roofs with PV! Only another 99.5% to go.

But... But... But... 1/6 is 16 percent, yes?
I was actually pretty surprised it was so high.
It happened quietly.

I have been a reader here for over three years and just feel prompted to share my thoughts and feelings about the peak oil situation.

Based on what I read here and other places I believe we are on a plateau for oil and will be beginning a decline, if it hasn't already happened. But I'm not 100% convinced.
However, what I think is, no matter how much we study the situation, what exactly will happen in the future is impossible to know. On a personal level I don't see preparing for something which doesn't seem to be immediately happening. The full ramifications of peak oil are likely to take many years to develop. Or maybe it is happening real soon, but I am not convinced to a degree where I would take action.
The same with global warming. This doesn't mean I'm saying we should all ignore these problems and drive huge SUVs. I'm amazed that my old 1993 Honda Civic Vx, which I had to junk, still would be better than almost all cars on the road today for gas mileage. I do try to do my part in small ways. I just can't change my life for something that may or may not happen in a real way any time soon.

In my case, what I mainly worry about is what kind of world my children will have to live in. It's likely to be a much more difficult world to live in. But that will be for them to deal with.

There is also an entertainment value in following the peak oil story.
A lot of which is with the comments on this website.
Now I know what is valued here is science and reliable statistics about peak oil and related matters. But human nature makes it much more complicated than that, including why some of us are more obsessed with these things than others. In my opinion, there are a fair number of people hoping for a crisis sooner rather than later.
Also, people sometimes start with beliefs and then find statistics and theories to support them. I think it's important to remember that here is no shortage of theories and beliefs which turn out to be wrong.

Good points. A lot of predictions have been made here over the past six years, and a lot of them have been wrong. A little humility is in order, for everyone - doomer, moderate, or cornucopian. People are really, really terrible at predicting the future, and that includes peak oilers, it would seem.

It's looking more and more like Stuart's vision of the future is likely to be correct, and boy, it's depressing one. All the bad things of our current way of life, only worse. You can see why people might prefer, say, Kunstler's vision. At least you get to have some fun...if you survive the dieoff.

I also generally agree with Stuart's point of view as cited above, which seems to be an expanded version of Westexas' ELM (economize, localize, produce). I started to warn my friends about peak oil around 2005 and the ones who ignored me (most of them) got to enjoy their SUV's for an extra 5-6 years. I since learned to just bring up the subject when it fits in naturally, and only pursue it when someone shows genuine interest. Of course I have been making my own adjustments along the way; sometimes it helps to lead by example. When people start to notice that you've been ahead of the curve and seem to take things in stride, they will look to you for guidance, and then whatever you have to offer will be appreciated.

I try not to talk about any more, unless people ask me what I think.

They all thought I was a genius after the crash of 2008, because I'd been warning about the coming financial crisis. But now they think I'm just a Debbie Downer. The economy's improving, and is going to be booming again soon, why the worry? The economy always rebounds after a recession, it's going to again.

And I don't argue, because 1) it wouldn't do any good and 2) they might be right. I think there's a possibility that BAU will continue, at least as long as we have to worry about it. If this really is a "buying opportunity," they'd hate me if I did manage to dissuade them from taking out that big mortgage.

I try not to talk about any more, unless people ask me what I think.

I agree Leanan. It's a no win situation. If you warn them of something negative whether or not it comes to pass, the perception of the messenger is negative. That's the American culture.

So why bother? Just let them find out for themselves and avoid the negative messenger label. And even after they finally realize a truth you thought originally of making them aware of, just act as surprised as they are. It's called handling people with kid gloves. They are so sensitive and judgemental, we are all better off avoiding saying anything that might jostle their sense of well being.

I guess my response to your thought is to ask, "Is it worth thinking like a chess player?" Look ahead a few moves and trust that the sound of approaching ducks could likely be actual ducks.

You see the theory at hand, the likely vulnerability of energy supplies, their importance for the greater economy; food, clothing, water and housing, etc, the most accepted 'necessities'.

I think it's very American to say "I'll get the water when I see the flames.." , even if there have been smokey smells and all sorts of talk about fires in the air lately.

It seems pretty reasonable to me to have a good look at where we use a lot of energy, and put some creative thought into addressing these habits, even just listing what they are, and some possible workarounds.

As with my Titanic analogy, setting up those portable lifeboats is a lot easier, and maybe possible ONLY when you're still on the deck of the ship, and you're possibly not even convinced that it's really going to sink. No?

Many of the changes may not be possible in an exploding emergency, and they are often things that would improve your lot anyhow.. Or as that cartoon says, "What if it's all a big hoax and we make a better world for nothing!?"

But as Greer has often pointed out, any plans you make must make economic sense now, not just in your imagined future. Not least because your imagined future is probably very, very wrong.

I found Stumbling On Happiness (recommended here years ago) to be very illuminating. People are terrible at predicting the future because our imaginations just aren't very good. Gilbert found that the best way to accurately predict the future is to look at other people's experiences rather than relying on imagination...and to try to resist the natural impulse to think, "But this time it's different." This is quite difficult, though. Most people fail at it even when they have their own experiences to draw on. We know buying that last car or dress or electronic gadget didn't make us happy for long, but think it will be different this time when contemplating buying a new one. Women don't accurately remember how painful childbirth is (if they did, the population problem would be solved ;-). And we all overestimate our uniqueness - 90% of us think we're better than average drivers, which means a lot of us are deluded.

Anyway, I think Greer is right: the best plan is one that works with BAU as well as in your imagined future...and prepare to adapt, because the future won't be what you expect.

Economic sense? I don't know.. that's a bit ambiguous (to me, the artist, Ha, Ha..)

I think it has to Make SENSE, but gauging just how one Hedges on the future is constantly going to go at odds with almost any economic theory. It involves taking various chances, making bets that may not pay, but if you're spreading your bets over a 'Wise and Lucky' range of choices, the payback on some will cover for the losses elsewhere.

I'll take the possible loss on the few watts of PV (while I suspect it makes econ. sense already, but the effort of PROVING that would not!), but will make many safer bets on Insulation, Building Raised Beds, Developing Community Ties, etc..

I'd side with Greer when we talk about Space Solar or something.. the investment's chance to pay off and not crash/burn is investing far too much on a far too funky plan...

OK, Pancake Day. I'm outa here!

An example Greer gave was organic farming. You might want to move to your own island and start your own homestead, but for most of us, this isn't economically feasible. We can't afford it. He suggests that a farm near the city is a better choice. You could sell organic produce at a premium price, while learning how to farm and building community ties that will be useful in the future...and perhaps still work at your regular job, as long as it lasts or as long as you need it.

As another example...if you're looking for job training (just starting out, ready for a change, unemployed with government help for retraining, etc), there are fields you could pick that would hedge your bets. Vet tech, say. If BAU continues, you'll have lots of people needing care for their pets. If there's a resurgence in farming like some expect, you could switch your practice from dogs and cats to horses and cattle. If things get really bad, you might end up offering your skills to people can't afford regular doctors.

I started an organic farm within the city this year. Dirt cheap land because the housing developer went bankrupt and the bank couldn't find any developers willing to buy the 10+ acres. I didn't start there because of Greer (who I think is wrong, I am looking at a fast economic collapse this year or next -- brought on by the confluence of high commodity prices, unemployment, and government debt), I started there because my wife didn't want to move from the city to a rural area. She doesn't disagree with my vision of the future but she lives in the here and now. I think she is probably right to do that and it is good to share each others strengths.

Well hedging your bets, or less dramatically buying insurance are valid strategy. Buying PV when the bean counter says its not the best possible investment, but isn't really bad would be an example. Superinsulating the house, even if the payback isn't outstnading, but because it protects you against an imagined price superspike, is another example. Some of these coping actions won't force you to abandon BAU, but will still buy you increased security should your imagined scenario start to play out.

Yes, people are generally worthless at predicting the future in specifics, but you can usually get a good idea by looking at the general trends.

I would also argue that we are already in the Peak now. There's a simple reason for that: we cannot grow normally without huge oil prices, which will crash the economy within a few short years.
Each crash leaves less space for the next spurt, until there is no longer any way to keep growing due to massive debt, massive unemployment and declining oil. At that time, we have a bigger and bigger population and a smaller and smaller pie to feed them(oil goes hand in hand with agriculture).

How long the descent will be and exactly how it will look like is, as you imply, foolish to try to predict. But people forget oil was in the triple digit range for most blends before the Libyan fall out. And it's quite insane that we would get here in just a year(2009 had much lower demand, so it doesn't really count).

ASPO co-founder Aleklett says we peaked in 2008 and the last few years give him a strong case.
The Peak was never just a geological issue, it was also economical. Even if we could produce more geologically, it's increasingly clear that we cannot economically, hence the constant crashes until we just have one big decline going further and further prompting all sorts of nasty things.

But that doesn't mean we'll get a Kunstler/Orlov-esque dieoff. As you correctly state, we can point to the general direction but perhaps we'll work it out or perhaps things will transpire in different ways, but we're going for a decline, and we're already in the midst of the beginning.
The rest is an unknown cloud of mush.

You are correct.A spot on prediction is not possible but one can make a good"guess" with the information.My take is more Darwanian/Orlov because of the following:
1.We have built a complex civilization/system based on abundant and cheap rpt abundant and cheap energy.This is over.No way the downward slope is going to be smooth.
2.The system is efficient and robust at 100% efficiency but fails at lower levels.Too many weak points and "The chain is strongest as the weakest link."
3.Public is absolutely unprepared for the collapse and will panic leading to a crash.
4.We don't have to loose all our energy source to collapse.The human body is 80% water.Cholera patients die when they loose 20-30% by dehydration.We have 4-5 lit of blood(maybe I am wrong)but you need not loose all to pop off.
A subtle difference between collapse and crash.If you have a heart attack and are in ICU you have"collapsed" and when you kick the bucket you have "crashed"

hole - Here's a simplistic yet true analogy: on a drill rig I wear a hard hat even though I can't predict when or even if something will fall out of the derrick and hit me in the head. . But it's an absolute certainty that something heavy will eventually come down. Maybe the difference between collapsed and crashed is the difference between almost getting hit in the head and getting hit. And a sad side note: about 3 weeks ago a friend's cousin was hit in the head while standing on the drill floor out in west Texas. Penetrated his hard hat and killed him. Thus a dark possibility: even taking precautions won't always save you from a crash.

Someone mentioned earlier that they wouldn't take the prospect of PO seriously unless there was an immediate consequence. But then also mentioned concern for their children's future. Seems a tad inconsistent. I have a 12 yo daughter. And if she mentioned an interest in pursuing a career dependent upon abundant cheap energy? Would it be wise not to discourage here if I didn't expect PO to really kick in for, let’s say, 20 years? That time span certainly qualifies as not immediate. But what would life be like for a 32 yo woman locked into such a career when PO does show up? While I'm not stocking up on canned goods I do make certain decisions based upon PO. I work for a company founded a year and a half ago based on the expectation of PO. Being 60 yo I hope this is my last company. The only snag in our biz plan is that we were hoping oil would stay low for a few more years...less competition for the last drilling prospects we have in this country. In this case PO seems very immediate.

Wow...Gary Johnson for President in 2012?


It would be interesting to have him, Ron Paul, and Mike Gravel (is he still alive?) mix it up with the other Republican hopefuls in large debate forums.

Palin, Bachmann, Pawlenty, Trump, Huckabee, Johnson, Paul, Christie, Huntsman, Romney, Perry, Gingrich, Daniels, Ryan...wow, put a series of ten two-hour debates with these cats on pay-per-view, and I would pay to listen to that!

Throw in Ru Paul and you've got a perfect lineup.

New Zealand's most well known financial commentator, Bernard Hickey, finally comes out as a peak-oiler:

Bernard has always beeen prepared to think the unthinkable and several of us have been chipping away on his website for the last few years about PO. Initially I think he was neutral on the concept but as the data has come rolling in there has been a marked change in his attitude.

An important convert here in NZ. Unfortunately there are still 4 million plus who are clueless/dont want to know.

Interesting stuff.

But I see NZ commenters are just as bad as US ones...

Yes indeed. The response:

''Bernard: Peak oil falls into the same basket as Global warming and falling house prices. Long term it simply won't happen, but allows some great stories for journalists in the meantime.''

is a classic of its type.

Still its a victory (of sorts) that Bernard has come over to the dark side.........

Perhaps we're making progress with the financial types. Karl Denninger has also moved gradually over the years from banning anyone who dared mention peak oil and limits to growth to preaching something that sounds suspiciously peakish.

Jeez some of those comments on the Denninger piece make our wingnuts seem relatively well adjusted.

Hickey is on National Radio here in NZ (our version of BBC Radio 3/4) most days passing comment on some financial matter or other. As such his reach is pretty substantial; I can't help but feel that the Grantham piece was perhaps what finally tipped the balance with him.

Folks that comment a lot are not representative of the population. I would say 8 out of 10 comments in the local paper were bashing Obama before the election and Obama won the county handily. I think those that comment are typically retired, conservative, and very beholden to the belief system that motivates the core of the party. This cohort sends out a lot of chain emails, too.

Also keep in mind that Rush's audience is people driving around in their cars during the middle of the day who are not listening to music on FM, satellite radio, or their iPods.

This would be a primarily male, rural, and retired or unemployed audience.

Yes, I think your wingnuts are less nutty than ours. :-)

One thing that struck me about the comments is that the reaction to peak oil over there was "OMG, we have to move to the city to be near public transportation." Generally not the reaction you get here.

I also see nothing addressing quality of life, which is one reason we get a different reaction here. In the US, places with effective public transit tend to be the densely populated places with the sort of public schools that parents in their right minds fear enrolling their kids in. Gangs, assaults, unsafe (WRT mugging, etc.) school buses, poor educational standards, and so on. Is that sort of thing less of a factor in New Zealand?

Yes thankfully public safety issues are much less of a concern in NZ (though we have more than our fair share of booze related late night aggro). Gangs can also be an issue (mainly in Auckland) but again nothing like on the scale of the US problems. I wouldnt say we have effective public transport here (other than in the 3 main cities) and populace and government are still in thrall to the car. Thats why spiralling petrol prices will cause folk here a lot of grief - many families have 2 or more cars and have been conditioned in recent times to the 'school run' etc. Having said that I view NZ as an infinitely more PO resistant nation that for example the US once the fripperies of not being able to commute 50km a day are stripped out (small population, abundant natural resources, relative isolation, reasonable social cohesion, well educated, largely self reliant populace). We may however want to invest in some F*** off weaponry at some stage rather than simply relying on the Aussies as our shield.

I am absolutely 100% positive that the U.S. MIC would love to sell you as much as you are willing to sign the check for!

F-35 Joint Strike Fighters?

Littoral Combat Ships?

A myriad of other naval vessels, including submarines, and ships to find and destroy submarines?

THAAD/Patriot air defense missiles?

Global Hawks for broad area sea surveillance?

AWACS (a la the Aussie Wedgetail in the 737 airframe?)

Computer network attack and defense?

Space surveillance satellites?

Armored vehicles?


Radar systems?

Our MIC is always looking for new business opportunities...

Oh wait, don't most of these things require petrol?

No worries, once you buy all that stuff, you can help us enforce its extraction at gunpoint in the ME as part of our ;coalition of the willing'.

Self-licking ice cream cones...gotta love 'em!


What is the projection for population growth for NZ?

Here is a link to the population data browser:


It says NZ has had 11% population growth since 2000.

Does NZ allow a generous influx of legal immigrants?

We may however want to invest in some F*** off weaponry at some stage rather than simply relying on the Aussies as our shield.

I think the better way to go is for NZ to finally realise that they are better off letting Australia just take them over. We would let you keep the All Blacks of course, so you can still enjoy giving us a regular thumping in Rugby, but other than that, you're better off in the big tent. And people in NZ secretly know it, but just can;t admit it.

That would also settle that long running NZ discussion about which island is the "mainland"...

No thanks Paul, youse fellahs are going to have your hands full with running out of water and everyman and his dog landing on your northern shores.

Re; weaponry - nothing really that serious - some stand off aircraft launched anti-ship missiles (plus a delivery system) together with some fast inshore vessels armed with same. Just enough to dissuade anyone from bringing a fleet down here.

Heisenberg - we actually have a pretty tough points based (required skills) immigration policy plus a tiny 'humanitarian' intake tagged on. In addition there is a relatively open door policy to some of the small South Pacific islands (and to Aussies of all people, though we send them far more than we take in). Population has been allowed to grow more than it should (following perhaps the Australian mantra that immigration stimulates GDP) but that dogma is starting to be challenged. I have no doubt the doors will close further as the crisis escalates. Our land area is a little bit larger than the UK, and our current population is 4.4m (c.p to the horrendous 63 million plus shoe-horned into the UK). Allowing for most of the substantial NZ diaspora coming home thats probably 6m tops by 2020, which I reckon will pretty much the upper limit of what we shall see.

Re; weaponry - nothing really that serious - some stand off aircraft launched anti-ship missiles (plus a delivery system) together with some fast inshore vessels armed with same. Just enough to dissuade anyone from bringing a fleet down here.

Coming right up! We in America, with the assistance of our junior partner in arming the world, the UK, will be happy to sell you all you want. And our bankers will arrange very attractive terms.

After, all, other than movies, video games and debt, it's all we have to sell.

Of course, we won't be able to give you quite what we save for ourselves, but I'm sure that won't be a problem.

I remember this topic (Aust- NZ unification) coming up a few times when I lived in Invercargill in the mid '90s. Best line I heard was that NZ would take over Aust, and they there would be north island, south island and west island.

The export of Kiwis to Oz has always been a good talking point too, since they have a (mostly unearned) reputation for coming to Oz and going on the dole. The Aust gov pointed this out and I have to give credit to David Lange ( I'm pretty sure it was him) for the best response ever when he said that those dole bludgers were raising the average IQ of both countries!

In all seriousness, I think NZ would be one of the better places in the world in the event of a real crash. It's just too far away for anyone to really bother, and if they did, once they get there, then what? The country is great for growing stuff, but it doesn't have any oil and not much of other real high value resources to make the long trips worthwhile in an oil constrained world.

But the country can be (and is) almost completely self sufficient in food, lumber, iron and non-oil energy, and could get by without oil, with some inconvenience.

Still needs Australia to show NZ how to play cricket though...

Actually Paul we are oil producers - in recent years we have produced anything up to 50% of our needs:


NZ has 9 prospective offshore basins with the Taranaki Basin already a significant producer of gas and oil:

In addition to half a dozen or so juniors, international giants Petrobras, Anadarko and OMV are either carrying out seismic or are planning to drill in the next 12 months (Christ with their pedigree we better invest in a fleet of clean up boats while we are at it).

Given that we already get nearly 80% of our electricity from renewables (hydo and geothermal principally), have world class wind resources that are now coming on stream, sit on a mountain of coal and lignite (with shedloads of CSG) and have forestry biomass coming out of our ears we do tend to keep silent about the potential of our oil and gas industry to not disabuse the Aussies of their conceit that they live in Godzone.....

Thanks for the links Andy, looks like things are on the move for NZ oil.
I guess I should have said "not much oil", but that may change depending on what is found.

I think NZ would be a great place for biofuels - not too many people, and smart enough to not rape the landscape in pursuit of them.

As for gods own country, I used to think I lived in that growing up near Canberra, until I went to NZ. Not that Invergiggle is godzone, but the area around Fiordland, Wanaka, the west coast etc is surely is. I remember doing a summer trip to Stewart Island - saw my first and only Kiwi there- on a nice day you couldn't tell whether you were on a subtropical or subantarctic island. Going into the water for a swim would set you straight though..

Actually, when I came here to the west coast of BC, near Vancouver, I thought I was back in NZ - very similar to the south island, only without the sheep

But knowing that, I agree it is best not to burst the Aussie's bubble. Anyway, Australia can't see past China at the moment, so every other country is irrelevant, in the government's eyes.

You're reminding me of Gallipoli, where they're heading to Perth to sign up to fight.. and they're out in the scrub, total barren wastes..

- The Australians fighting already?

- Yeah, in Turkey.

Turkey?! Why's that?

- Ask him.

- Cos Turkey's a German ally.

- Ah, well, you learn something every day.

- Still, can't see what it's got to do with us.

- We don't stop them there, they could end up here.

- ... And they're welcome to it.

1981 Peter Weir

http://www.smh.com.au/gallipoli/video/video.htm (ftg from the REAL Gallipoli..)


I am suitably impressed that you have seen Gallipoli, truly a great Australian movie. We have gone a long ways downhill from that to things like "Australia" with Kidman and Jackman - it was a poor imitation of Pearl Harbour, which was itself a poor (though very expensive) movie.

Another good Aussie one to see, if you haven't, is Breaker Morant (1980, Bruce Beresford) about Australian soldiers in the Boer War in S. Africa in 1901 - actually gives some insight as to why we have a healthy disrespect for authority, especially British. Actually a better movie than Gallipoli IMO, and, it is actually a true story, and told very accurately. Won almost every Australian film award there is, and even the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for best foreign film - very important, that one.

IT also raises some issues that would be relevant for today's soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, though the end result in the movie would never happen today.

Ah, Brian Brown.

'Don't make a mess of it, Boys!'

And that Baz Luhrman made your 'Gone with the Wind', there.. well, as that fine Postmodern children's book reminds us, 'Everyone Poops'

His early 'Strictly Ballroom' remains an all-time favorite for me, in addition to Australia's 'Muriel's Wedding' .. Now, he's remaking Gatsby. Wish him luck, but we need that like we need another version of Robin Hood.

There's so much fresh material one could pull from.. (but financing? No Bucks, No Buck Rodgers..)


Thanks for your answer.

Your take on defensive armament s seems reasonable. If you are concerned about an invasion fleet, then air-independent subs (the Germans make a good model), Anti-ship-missile-armed corvettes, land-based long-range aircraft equipped with ASMs (Boeing P-8 Poseidon?), and something like the Aussie Wedgetails would be more than enough. Just be sure to balance your perceived need on the defensive from with the costs to procure, operate, and maintain such a force.

Your country certainly is beautiful, according to the scenes from various movies and from pics I have seen on the Internet. My perception is that the weather is fairly cool? Is it generally cloudy?

6M folks tops seems do-able, compared to the number of folks living in the UK, given that the land areas are comparable. NZ seems to have some geothermal resources...is there a substantive wind resource, perhaps offshore?

I looked at NZ imports and exports...Most of the top-10 exports were food (powdered milk, cheese, wine, more)...interestingly, coal was listed, and the amount is apparently treated by Stats NZ as sa state secret (the amount was listed as confidential).

If I win a lottery, I would love to visit before I return to the Earth.

Paul - I am note sure about not raping the country - some of our dairy practices leave much to be desired and more than a few of our rivers have been crucified by run-off.

H - we have a very variable climate, depending on where you are, ranging from sub-tropical in the Far North down to bloody freezing in the far South. Everything from temperate rain forest through Alpine uplands with a bit of mangrove in the north. Cloudy? Well that depends - here in Nelson (top of the South island) we get 2500 hours of sun a year.

Wind? Oh yes, we get world class wind, just ask anyone who lives in Wellington. No need for offshore wind power. We have 530MW installed wind power (4% of our supply)

There is considerably more than that due to come on line in the next few years:

Around 10% of our electricity comes from geothermal, though this will soon rise to 15% plus:

And then there is hydro, the backbone of our supply (about 60%, with minor room for expansion):

I am often surprised as to why NZ is not more referred to on TOD as an example of how a renewables nirvana might look...........

Oh, come on! The south isn't that cold, well not now that I live in Canada, anyway.

But Nelson has to be one of the best spots too - nice town, went sea kayaking with the gazillion dolphins in Abel Tasman Nat Pk, as does everyone else, and felt guilty I didn;t have more time to spend in the town and area.

That is too bad to hear about dairy farms causing pollution problems - that is quite unneccessary, and sounds like people are cutting corners, and government is not enforcing the rules. Clean water is a great community asset that should be protected - if it is not, then people can die.
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walkerton_Tragedy ]

I am often surprised as to why NZ is not more referred to on TOD as an example of how a renewables nirvana might look...........

I think that could partly be because this is a very US centric site, and while most people here (unlike most Americans) know NZ exists, few have any idea of its energy situation, and the few kiwis like you that are on here don;t really promote it much either.

Maybe you should write a guest essay on the topic - I think it would be well received, and TOD has said they are looking for contributions. Would make for a change from US centric discussions, although the US would be the logical basis for comparisons.

NZ also used to have a NG to methanol to gasoline plant - only one in the world, back in the '80's. Any talk about revisiting that?


Thank you for the great info.

The citizens of NZ are truly fortunate to live in such a great place.


Great article, thanks for the link Leanan. It seems that as the price of oil continues to rise more and more people are taking a closer look at peak oil. Looking over the articles posted on Drumbeat Friday, (I have been busy the last few days and am just now taking a look at them), I found this link you posted: Peak oil: it's closer than you think. I was surprised that it did not generate a single comment from the readers of Drumbeat.

Anyway the article points out that Peak Oil is forcing its way to the top of the agenda for the IEA and also many in the mainstream media. High oil prices is responsible for most of this though many still blame it on politicians or big oil. But that is another story. Now Denninger has finally come around to seeing the light. Peak oil awareness: it's closer than you think.

Ron P.

I notice that Denninger's post is dated before the earthquake in Japan on 11 March and the resulting Fukushima nuclear nightmare. I wonder whether he has re-evaluated his anti "greenie" stance as a result. His glowing assessment of the potential for nuclear power would seem to have hit the wall as the exclusion zone around the plant grows larger. Most of the comments about killing (and eating) the "greenies" are completely off base as well, not that the attitude is uncommon amongst the rabid right. As a onetime anti-nuke campaigner who tried to warn people of the dangers of nuclear power before TMI, I think that the thorium cycle might offer an acceptable alternative, but only if these can be built and operated safely. Not to forget, let's get the waste problem solved too, OK???

E. Swanson

Hi all. I'm doing some research on oil production and its effects on society on my blog, EveryBarrelCounts.blogspot.com.

I've done a little analysis on consumer expenditure in the United States, based on BLS data: http://everybarrelcounts.blogspot.com/2011/05/tale-of-two-income-groups-...

Even though prices for essentials such as food & gas have gone up in recent years, they're lower as a % of income than in 1984. I wonder though if we've reached a lower limit.

Any comments and suggestions welcome!

That link shows an interesting comparison, but the most recent data in the analysis is from 2009 when gas prices averaged about $2.25 per gallon and oil averaged under $70 per barrel.

With current national average of gas at $3.92 per gallon and oil at $120 per barrel (average of WTI and Brent) the amount of after tax income spent on fuel has increased by 70% since 2009. A large percentage of the population has a savings rate of 0%, so when transport fuel prices go up other things get cut in a persons budget.

Food is in the same catagory transport fuel, although the price increase is more like 15 to 20% over two years. When compared to "per capita" income the cost of fuel and food are much larger percent of ones personal budget since per capita incomes have declined over the last few years after accounting for inflation. The data in your link is based on people with defined incomes, not on a per capita basis. A lot of people have no reportable income, like those on social security, and thus are not counted in that analysis.

The BLS measures "consumption units" which I take is an expensive word for household. There were 120m consumption units reported on an average of 2.5 persons per unit, making ~300m persons; about the size of the U.S. population.

In the BLS table, there was a sizeable number of "consumption units" in the $0-4999 income bracket so I believe they take into account those households with no income; they should be accounted for in my study.

I was a little surprised by my own findings, but when I looked at 2008 numbers (when WTI reached $100 average) gasoline expenditures for the poorest 90% were 5.1% of pretax income. Quite higher than the previously stated 3.8% in 2009 but still below the 5.5% of 1984. I'd like to do the same calcs on after-tax income, but the post-tax figure quoted by BLS seemed too high (e.g. 50k pretax vs 48k posttax).

Need for energy independence often overlooked in nation's energy debate

The political turmoil in the Middle East in recent months is further evidence of the critical and urgent need for the United States to become more energy independent by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and other fossil fuels.


And 85 percent of our imported oil comes from only 9 countries, many of them unstable, undemocratic, or not close allies of the United States.

The list of the nine countries is instructive. In order of the amount each exports to the United States, the countries are as follows:

Canada is now essentially squeezing oil out of sand in an area in northern Alberta province the size of the state of Florida. China is buying some of that land, and Canada has plans to build a pipeline to its west coast so it can export oil to China and the rest of Asia. And there's a growing controversy in Canada about the impact on the environment of this inefficient and expensive method of extracting oil from the ground.

See: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20110501-OPINION-105010314

Not sure if Canada is one of the countries the author considers "unstable, undemocratic, or not close allies of the United States". Perhaps we'll know more after tomorrow's federal election. ;-)


Energy prices will be THE issue in the coming 2012 presidential election. YouTube Video:

GOP Address: Energy Costs, National Debt

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, says Republicans will not vote to raise the nation's borrowing limit, now at $14.3 trillion, in the coming weeks unless the measure also includes steps to cut government spending. (April 30)

The comments on this video is also pretty good.

Ron P.

Slick BS.

False analogy: The government is not like an individual trying to balance his budget. The two are totally different. The government owns the printing press and also borrows money into existence. When debt is paid off, the money goes to money heaven.

The yin and yang of money.

Under our current monetary scheme, debt and deficits not only don't matter but are actually necessary in order to maintain a stable money supply. The reason was explained by Marriner Eccles, governor of the Federal Reserve Board, in hearings before the House Committee on Banking and Currency in 1941. Wright Patman asked Eccles how the Federal Reserve got the money to buy government bonds.
"We created it," Eccles replied.
"Out of what?"
"Out of the right to issue credit money."
"And there is nothing behind it, is there, except our government's credit?"
"That is what our money system is," Eccles replied. "If there were no debts in our money system, there wouldn't be any money."


As Krugman says: "contractionary policy leads to contraction". The hypocrisy and ignorance of this guy is appalling. Now is not the time for a contractionary monetary or fiscal policy. Unless we want another Great Depression.

Of course most here know his energy points are total lies. He doesn't know what he is talking about on either energy or debt.

But what a good looking slick talker! That is what got him this far.

Rest assured that many Republicans want another depression or at least another recession. Regardless of the facts, Obama will be blamed.

On the other hand, I am not convinced that even an expansionary fiscal policy will have a significant impact on unemployment.

Rest assured that many Republicans want another depression or at least another recession. Regardless of the facts, Obama will be blamed.

If you mean the Republicans put their party 1st and the American people 2nd, I agree 100%. In other words they will applaud and encourage by policy any economic hardship suffered by regular people as Obama's 4 years winds down towards another election. Whatever they can do to put a monkey-wrench into the economy they will, much like the super high interest rates during the latter part of Carter's Administration.

I think people better beware that there is a concerted effort going on by the Repubs to transfer more wealth to the super wealthy via tax changes. If they can get their guy in there, and take back the Senate, people will be getting a coupon book in the mail for all entitlements. And if that situation continues onto a 2nd Repub. presidency you'll see the coupon book get nixed and even more tax cuts for the top 1%.

Then the US will begin to resemble Libya or some other completely corrupt country in which regular folk mean absolutely nothing.

Don't need workers.
Need soldiers, both internal and external.
They are drawn from a common base.

Saudi lifts April oil output to 8.5 mln bpd

Saudi Arabia's crude oil output edged back up in April to around 8.5 million barrels per day (bpd) from roughly 8.3 million bpd in March as demand picks up, Saudi-based industry sources said on Sunday.

Saudi crude exports were also higher in April from February and March, said a trader without quantifying figures.

Well, well. This is exactly what I have been saying over the last month - KSA exports fell in February and the first half of March, improved in the second half of March and the first part of April, and have fallen back now about 350,000 bpd from the peak week of about April 1.

For various reasons, exports have not fallen or risen as fast as the change in output from KSA. I originally expected KSA exports to drop as much as 250,000 bpd more by late May, but possibly less now due to this output increase, where it is likely exports will then improve in early June in line with this output increase.

However while this article says the market is demanding more light crude, it is not clear at all if the marginal increase is output is really light. The last increase was mostly sour crude for which there was not much demand.

I watched a snippet of the Huckabee show yesterday.

He had on some guests, and they watched a snippet of President Obama from a April 6 2011 town hall or whatnot.

He said (paraphrasing here): "If you complain about the price of gas and you drive a vehicle that gets 8 miles per gallon (starts to chuckle)...then he says some words about maybe folks should buy higher-mileage cars...

The someone in the crowd speaks up and catches his attention by saying that he/she has ten children....

The President says "You have ten children?..." (chuckles....chuckles some more...smiling....) ..."Then maybe you need to buy a hybrid van."

Huckabee asks if it is really fair or reasonable for the President to ask folks to buy a hybrid (or whatnot) fuel efficient car, when folks don't have the money.

Huckabee neglects to wonder out loud how folks in the U.S. are able to buy some 9 million new vehicles a year currently (maybe more?), and how much those vehicles costs...in comparison to buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles (be they hybrids or otherwise).

Huckabee also neglects to ask how the family of ten can afford a Suburban or two (or an Excursions, whatever).

Her's to you, family with ten children! Assuming none are adopted, you have bred at a level five times that dictated by replacement rate. Who knows, the person could have been a plant to say that 10 children comment to attempt to derail the message of the wisdom of downsizing and buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The talking heads talked about the need to lower consumption, be more efficient, etc...but not one mention of the idea that oil supplies might be finite, etc. Certainly no mention of an increased fuel tax.

Huckabee's premise from the start of the segment was '"hat are going to do about these high fuel prices?" Of course there was the inevitable pap about 'All the resources in the U.S. which we aren't allowed to go after." .

I would have loved for WestTexas to teleport in and show his oil production historical data for Texas and The North Sea (could graph in Cantarell as well) and give a few minute primer on Peak Oil and wake all these charlatans up.

That's a common right-wing meme that is going around. Environmental laws are somehow stopping the oil companies from drilling more here at home. But you ask them specifics - what laws, or where exactly is it that they are not allowed to drill, and the folks have no idea - they just heard it on the radio somewhere. And they cling to this notion pretty tightly too - you can present all the evidence you want and they don't believe it.

But when you hear about folks with 10 kids you just have to shake your head. Sounds like Quiverfull.

"EPA board stops Shell's clean air permits, halting Arctic drilling plans"


That would be one. Without getting into the merits of this particular case, the right-wing has a point.

and it's not just oil companies;


"Offshore wind farm near Cape Cod, first in U.S., gets federal approval.

Ending a nearly decade-long political battle over installing wind turbines in the waters just off Cape Cod, the federal government approved the first offshore wind farm in the United States on Wednesday,"

The EPA is a powerful force for stalling any project.

Gasoline prices in Germany reached a record high of 1.62 euro per liter
A gas station in Germany (Esso) was charging 9.99 euros/liter
Sorry, I have the link only in Spanish; people were shocked.

A German driver had to pay 209,98 € for 21 lts of 98 octanes gasoline. He even called the police, who advised him to pay.
9.99 x 3.78 = 37.8 euros the gallon, that is 56 u$d/gallon at 1 euro = 1.4838 dollars.

I must say I got a bit of a chuckle from reading this comment.

hijos de puta los empresarios, se aprovechan de la excasez ,ese precio se aleja de lo que les vale comprar un litro a los paises productores, Yo le meto fuego a la gasolinera si me cobran 200 euros por 20 litros

It seems that the concept of Peak Oil may not have quite sunk in yet, in Spain. Hopefully this particular Spaniard is the exception rather than the rule... otherwise things might really begin to heat up! Though it does seem he jumped to his conclusion without actually reading the article. What a hot head >;^)

Actually after reading more of the comments it seems the average Spaniard is as clueless about Peak Oil as the average American. It seems that everywhere you go people are convinced that cheap fuel for their cars is a quasi God given right. Good luck world!

And with good reason, nothing is printed in the Spanish newspapers about Peak Oil. The only newspaper worth reading El País/Madrid the CEO Luis Cebrián used to be the CEO of Repsol. The words Pico Petrolero are forbidden in his paper.
We have 21.3% unemployment but everything will be OK when GDP grows again, see? That's the official government line and that's what El País prints all the time.

ROV recovers Air France "Black Box" Flight Data Recorder after almost 2 years at the bottom of the Atlantic.


Flight AF 447 on 1st June 2009

A330-203, registered F-GZCP
Information, 1st May 2011

The investigation team localized and identified the memory unit from the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) at 10 h UTC this morning. It was raised and lifted on board the ship Ile de Sein by the Remora 6000 ROV at 16h40 UTC.

tow - And I heard the report they had observed about 50 remains. A reminder I could have lived without: I mentioned long ago that one of my best friends, a geologist working DW Brazil for Devon, was on the flight with his wife. The irony: Mike had his share of near misses of drill rigs. So then he leaves the rig and flies to Paris for some R&R and doesn't make it. If you recall one of my funniest stories: thinking I was dying from H2S on a rig and the other geologist with me (who knew I wasn't dying and just had the wind knocked out of me) was laughing so hard he almost pukd...that was Mike. One of my favorite oil path memories. I could still walk up to him and pretend to be chocking and get a big laugh. Sure do miss that boy.

Sorry for your loss Rock! Though your putting a personal dimension to that particular tragedy can remind us that the constant bombardment of tragic news from all over the world due to natural and man made disasters does at the end of the day affect real people with real friends and families. Anyone of us at any time can be taken from this world without warning. Let's all of us live and love well! And let's not forget our responsibility to our children and future generations. Peace!

FM - Thanks. It's been an odd few days. And then the hit on OBL. To be honest I couldn't care less except for the potential reprisals against more innocents. But with the OBL event I keep thinking about the woman killed while being a used as a shield. Was she someone's "Mike"? Will anyone hear that story? If they did would many even care? Obviously couldn't avoid hearing bits and pieces of the OBL story even though I was on a drill site all night and day. And every time I did I though about that dead woman more than the rest of the stories. Just a weird place for my head today. Hmmm...maybe I had a stroke. LOL

Tuesday morning - Not feeling so jolly now. Just found out one on my former driling consultants was killed over the Easter weekend. Like you say, reading about any number of deaths doesn't tend to have much impact until you can put a face on one of them. Talk about getting slapped up side the head with one's mortality. On top of that I had a close call last Sunday driving back for a drill site: came around a curve going thru d/t Houston and there was a full size freezer sitting in my lane. With a car on my right all I could do was jump to the inside shoulder and passed it doing 60 mph. Irony sticks up it's ugly head again: I come off a rig with no problems and then almost get taken out by A FREAKING FREEZER.

U.S. EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011 predictions for U.S. Energy usage through 2035:

Summarized here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42804156/ns/business-going_green/

Report here: http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=1110

EIA Data Table here (You can select different assumptions, such as 'High OCS costs':


You can also download the EIA data sets in an Excel file.

I have not yet read the EIA report, so I cannot assess the quality of the summary I posted...interestingly, the summary is silent on the contribution of nuclear power.

Reagan Budget Director Slams Paul Ryan Plan, Says 'Absolutely' Raise Taxes Instead


Maybe a reasonable path would be to sunset the tax cuts enacted by GWB (and extended by BHO, along with cuts to Defense and non-defense spending, following the lead set recently by the British government.

This story appeared yesterday in the business section of the Albuquerque Journal newspaper:


Unlike traditional reactors, modular units require only about 15 acres of space and are more completely contained, reducing the threat of pipe breaks that could lead to radiation leaks, Kelly said Thursday, the final day of a two-day conference in Hobbs on nuclear energy.

“They can use passive cooling systems and can withstand long-term loss of power,” he said.

The modular reactors also produce less power — about 250 megawatts per unit, Kelly said.




The Nuclear Power 2021 Act authorizes the Secretary of Energy to work in a public-private partnership to:

Develop a standard design for two modular reactors, one of which will not be more than 50 MW;
Obtain a design certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for each design by 2018; and
Obtain a combined operating license from the Commission by 2021.

Design limits?

A spokesman for the committee said the bill language limiting one of the designs to 50 MW was in the original 2009 bill and came from a recommendation by the National Academy of Sciences.

Only two of the pending designs is that small. One is NuScale Power's LWR design at 45 MW.

The other is Hyperion Power’s 25 MW fast reactor which is being developed in New Mexico. (right)


It will be interesting to see, in the aftermath of the recent nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, whether the U.S. can make hay with this concept of small, modular, mass-produced, and allegedly safer, nuclear reactors.

Perhaps the modular arrays can be built at existing sites as the existing reactors reach the end of their service lives and are shut down then decommissioned.

The issue of the many many many fuels rod assemblies languishing in non-hardened storage pools across the nation must be resolved first though. I advocate finishing the Yucca Mountain facility and using that until we figure out something better.

I find it interesting that some folks are beating the drum that NM should 'lead the way' in nuclear power, when we seem to be lagging when it comes to implementing solar power.

There is a company in Albuquerque named '310 Solar'...they install residential, and non-residential solar PV systems)...their name is due to our having 310 days, on average, of sun per year.

I find it interesting that some folks are beating the drum that NM should 'lead the way' in nuclear power, when we seem to be lagging when it comes to implementing solar power.

I suspect your solar deficit comes from a teh following causes:
(1) You have cheap coal power, so the savings for the consumer are not so good.
(2) In general incomes in New Mexicon are low.
(3) You've elected whack-job tea-partiers.
I seem to recall that the only professions whose incomes wrt the rest of the country weren't depressed by 20-30% were the ones directly supported by the labs. You have to face it, Albuquerque is largely a product of the bomb (Los Alamos did the designs, and Sandia did the engineering, and Kirkland grew up around that to match them to weapons systems. Without the huge stimulus from that Albuquerque would still be a small town along the Rio Grande. Incidentally the correct spelling is Albu[r]querque. Someone spelled it wrong (dropped the r) in the eithteen-hundreds, I think it was the painted sign on the train station, and the misspelling stuck.

This week's flood along the Mississippi River is starting to take its causalities.

ExxonMobil to shut Memphis terminal for 18 days due to flooding

The oil company will shut down all products loading at the Memphis terminal from Friday, April 29 at 10 a.m., through Monday, May 16, according to a notice obtained by OPIS. The terminal will reopen on May 17, at midnight.

Has this flood even shown up in the main stream media (which I studiously avoid)? Jeff Masters has it as a hundred year event, and the five day hydrometeorolgic center forcasts have been painting Arkansas yello (7inches) for a couple of weeks now. It looks like the battleground for gulf moisture hitting cool northern air, wants to stay in the same place (Ne Texas, then up the Ohio river). If this keeps up, what sort of flooding are we gonna see?

Some National Weather Service guy on Memphis TV last night said this is a 500 year event. The MSM started picking up on the story over the weekend and they will be in a frenzy by the end-of-the-week once the photos ops of destruction pan gold.

This is my first post after reading the Oil Drum for many years on almost a daily basis. I have learned equally from both the posts and comments that have contributed to my growing awareness of energy issues. In general, I find most of my friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances are in the dark about the realities of our energy/ environmental crisis and when possible I try to share knowledge and resources with those willing to listen.

Recently, I have been posting on Facebook regarding IEA's admittance of Peak Oil and the difficulties we will have to meet increasing global demand. My Uncle is convinced this is a liberal conspiracy. His latest comment to my EIA post is the following:

"Our #1 partner in obtaining oil Canada has a 188 year reserve I find the US at 8 but I believe that's bs when they also figure Iraq Kuwait & Venezuela together have a 400 year reserve. And add up all the worlds reserves and we're talking oi...l available for 1,400 years. That's plenty of time for the Free Market to develop environmentally friendly new forms of energy. Man if they could have just harnessed the energy from the Japanese earthquake & Tidal wave or those Super Cell Tornadoes that killed hundreds here in America man we'd be fat with energy!"

I am asking for help in providing a succinct response with some links to reliable sources that may help open up his eyes. He says that the CIA is the source for his assertion on the volume of global oil reserves. Any assistance would be deeply appreciated.

Hi Lola, and welcome to the fray.

I don't know what sources he is looking at (or what he's smokin', for that matter), but you might ask him about how difficult or easy it will be to get that oil out. EROEI, though difficult to measure with precision, is an important concept to introduce into the discussion early on, IMHO.

But really, my impression is that most people who are ready and willing to go to the "liberal conspiracy" paranoia are pretty much beyond reach from the get go. Maybe start with some relatives that are a bit closer to reality, and eventually the uncle will be the one seen as out in the intellectual boondocks rather than you. Trying to convince the least willing to be convinced is not generally a winning strategy.

The thing you do have on your side is that Simmons and others that were early and major voices were clearly not anything like 'liberals.' But Simmons might be a bit of a slog to get through.

CIA numbers don't line up exactly with many of the other surveys, but using the CIA numbers ...

Total Proved Reserves: 1,395 billion barrels (CIA)
This entry is the stock of proved reserves of crude oil in barrels (bbl). Proved reserves are those quantities of petroleum which, by analysis of geological and engineering data, can be estimated with a high degree of confidence to be commercially recoverable from a given date forward, from known reservoirs and under current economic conditions.

Current world consumption of oil = 96 million barrels a day. (CIA)
This entry is the total oil consumed in barrels per day (bbl/day). The discrepancy between the amount of oil produced and/or imported and the amount consumed and/or exported is due to the omission of stock changes, refinery gains, and other complicating factors

365 days in a year means 96 * 365 = 35 billion barrels a year

1,395 billion barrels of recoverable oil / 35 billion barrels per year = 31 years of oil

If "Peak Oil" is a liberal conspiracy, the CIA is part of it.


Now a more realistic analysis is going to include modeling of new discoveries, changes in demand, and changes in recovery technology, all of which are constrained by price, geology, and thermodynamics.

Ad that assumes a steady 35 Billion barrels per year extraction rate to the last drop 31 years from now.

Slip of the pen somewhere ...
1,395 / 35 = 40 years of oil

Maybe a moderator would be kind enough to correct it.

Ron, Thank you for breaking down CIA's data on proven global oil reserves. One of things that I most appreciate about the Oildrum is the ability of contributors to recognize that there are many unknowns and variables that need to be taken into account. I have shared the data with my Uncle and will be curious as to his response and I will be sure to share.

Ron - Thanks...intersting but I think there's one more critical factor: the 31 years of oil assumes no decline in production rate over time. I don't have a sense of how those reserves are split between older and younger fields. An older field, like many of the biggies, take much longer to produce the last half of their URR than the first half of their URR. Some times 5X or longer. I can only make a WAG but those proved reserves may take 60 to 100 years to recover. But that's the key point about PO, isn't it? It's the future flow rate profile of those proved reserves that will have the important impact. Now that would be the accurate curve we would all give our back teeth to see.


So what can we produce per day over the next 10/20/30/40 years? Oil extraction per day/week/month is all that matters. You can have all the oil in the world, but if you can only produce a small amount, no potatoes.

Lola, All:

Please understand that the '40 years of oil' is not a prediction; it is just a projection. It counters the 'factoid' presented to Lola of 1400 years of oil. New oil will be discovered. Demand will vary. Prices will rise and fall. New technologies are likely to be developed and deployed. Production rates will change. But CIA figures cannot support anything near 1400 years of oil.

And please see note that the figure '31 years' is a mistake, '40 years' is the correct figure based on the CIA numbers.

Hi lola, I'm new to posting here too.
The response you describe sounds very familiar. I brought the subject up to someone I (thought) I knew quite well. His response was so angry and full of bile against "the environmentalists" and the "tree huggers" who have somehow prevented all the "vast reserves" available in the U.S. from being exploited it was really shocking.
There was no discussion to be had, so I walked away...
I know that's really not much help to you, other than letting you know you're not alone in this.
People get awful scared and very angry when they think their way of life is about to be challenged.
They lose the ability to think logically about what they themselves are parroting and take comfort in the fanciful, magical thinking of "technology will save us" or it's "all a plot"....
I can't even broach the subject with my own family now.


Try working in a facility full of retired military officers, where the GS (civilian) folks who did not have a prior military background are of the same bent politically.

Magical thinking (new technologies from the invisible hand, and or 'God will provide for its favorite nation, as long as we ban abortion and gay marriage etc), ignorance of the facts, disparaging scientific facts (and this is at a science/engineering center!), its all the environazis, gays, feminists, socialists, etc fault.

Once they rid us of the scourge of Obama and pack the courts and Congress with the right folks, then the folks will emerge from Galt's Gulch and it will be morning in America again (again).

Engaging in a meaningful discussion is impossible, from my empirical observations.

I am willing to meet many folks part way in the give and take of ideas, but their strength is their total enthrallment to the prescribed talking points they are given.

Being 100% right sure makes people have the illusion that they are happy.

It is this constant diet of hate coming out of, for one, the radio. Everyone is on-message. It makes conversation a probe of identity. The off-hours are filled with stupidity: UFO stories (Coast-to-Coast AM) and a Punch-and-Judy show (Phil Hendrie). Rational informed discourse is not beneficial to the current owners of transmission bandwidth on the common airwaves. There used to be laws towards limiting ownership and providing for the public good. You know, "socialism" in today's strings of memes.

People get awful scared and very angry when they think their way of life is about to be challenged.
They lose the ability to think logically about what they themselves are parroting

I think it has a lot to do with mental programming. Listen to the same talking points over and over and over, and you internalize them. Especially if the memes are reinforced with emotion -usually revulsion about those horrible liberals/enviros.

Seems like someone [Asia] is unloading Silver in a big way. Down nearly 10% in early trading.


Wonder if someone had propr warning that there was a major news event about to happen?

JP Morgan and Jamie Dimon had advance notice, tough to frontrun a market without it.

Breaking news: Osama Bid Laden has been killed, apparently by deliberate U.S. Action.

News coming over the tele right now.

Perhaps this explains why rumors were flying around earlier today about heightened security at certain U.S. installations...

Get ready for a massive outburst of triumphalism in the US, and another couple of decades of unintended, undesirable, and perfectly predictable consequences--around the world.

I can't say that OBL did not deserve his fate...but hopefully there will not be gleeful celebrations in the U.S. That would be unfortunate.

Will his death deter other would-be terrorism perpetrators, or sow the seeds for others to come forth?

At any rate, I hold that the U.S. should withdrawal as gracefully and expeditiously as possible from the Middle East, and spend more time, mental effort, and money to transform our country towards a more long-term sustainable paradigm, one where we do not feel compelled to maintain a military presence in the Middle East to secure oil flows, and one where we do not trade money for oil money to countries who harbor folks who would mean to use their profits from us to fund attacks on us.

The Rest of the World can interface with the people of the ME to buy their oil...we should work very hard to eliminate our importation of ME oil and leave their folks in peace.

I would not be surprised if Gaddafi is next.

But...live by the sword...

Syria, Yemen, Iran...and then there is Pakistan. When will it end?

Did not George Washington warn against foreign entanglements?

Maybe we should react to event by buying highly fuel-efficient auto vehicles to replace our lower-mileage vehicles?

Make War...No More.

...but hopefully there will not be gleeful celebrations in the U.S. That would be unfortunate.

Unfortunate, but easily predictable, probably inevitable.

Osama bin Laden's Death Leads to Spontaneous Celebration in front of the White House

As the President began his statement announcing the death of Osama bin Laden inside the White House, a large crowd of people, about 200 and growing, had gathered outside the White House gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, waving flags and dancing.

They sang the "Star Spangled Banner" in unison and chanting "USA! USA! USA!"

They also just sang, "Na na na na -- na na na na ...Hey hey goodbye" in reference to Osama bin Laden.

Check the comment sections of news sites around the country. You'll find them full of just the sort of ignorant gloating that one might expect.

Reaction from the Muslim street hasn't surfaced, yet.

I celebrate the death of the Monster.
So should every Muslim, IMO.
He introduced a vicious cult of suicidal killers into their culture.

So should every Muslim, IMO.

But, you do know that very many are not going to celebrate, don't you?

You do know that many, at this very moment, are committing themselves to vengeance, right?

And lead us to celebrate death, apparently.

Exactly. There shouldn't be anything to celebrate here. He should have been brought to trial. Bin Laden wasn't the root cause behind AQ. Until those are addressed it's silly to think that it'll go away.

Those celebrations are shameful.

And the whole thing about burying the body at sea? That just seems bizarre!

And the whole thing about burying the body at sea? That just seems bizarre!

It does, but Muslims believe you should bury the body within a day. And I would guess they didn't want there to be a grave that could become a shrine.

Of course, this probably means some people will refuse to believe he's really dead.

Yes, would have thought some photographic evidence will have to emerge to placate the masses. The ones currently circulating are photoshopped.

some people will refuse to believe he's really dead

Once they won the fire fight (allegedly), they would have full control of the compound, including snatching a copy of Bin Laden's diary, his black book telephone list (ICE= In Case of Emergency call Ghadaffi), his social calendar (AQ costume party this weekend), etc. All this can be put on display to dispel doubt and later auctioned off on eBay. The auction will dispel USA debt crisis. Three birds, one stone.

Yeah? 3,2,1... Donald Trump requests official long form death certificate in triplicate.

Oh, and in other news OBL was spotted in the passenger seat of an ethanol powered, pink 1958 Cadillac being driven by Elvis. Let the good times roll!

Unless you happen to be heavily invested in silver. Silver down 10%...

It was announced in the midst of Trump's show....the plot thickens....
BTB for anyone who didn't already know, trump is Brit slang for a fart...kind of fitting.

Bin Laden has been dead for years. The guy was the face of terrorism. How convenient that they threw the body in the ocean (I haven't read the morning propaganda, someone just told me that). I wonder who will take his place? It will be interesting the direction that is taken in regards to the military adventures in Afghanistan in the next 6 months. My guess is a few troops have to be wondering what they are doing there if the boogeyman is gone. Maybe we can finally hand it over to the Chinese so they can get their copper.

Rules About Burial of the Dead Body

620. * It is obligatory to bury a dead body in the ground, so deep that its smell does not come out and the beasts of prey do not dig it out, and, if there is a danger of such beasts digging it out then the grave should be made solid with bricks, etc.

621. If it is not possible to bury a dead body in the ground, it may be kept in a vault or a coffin, instead.

622. The dead body should be laid in the grave on its right side so that the face remains towards the Qibla.

623. * If a person dies on a ship and if there is no fear of the decay of the dead body and if there is no problem in retaining it for sometime on the ship, it should be kept on it and buried in the ground after reaching the land. Otherwise, after giving Ghusl, Hunut, Kafan and Namaz-e-Mayyit it should be lowered into the sea in a vessel of clay or with a weight tied to its feet. And as far as possible it should not be lowered at a point where it is eaten up immediately by the sea predators.

a massive outburst of triumphalism in the US

You would think, the way the crowds around the White House are cheering, that President Obama had just announced successful cold fusion by US Special Ops Science Teams

it is a little disturbing to see a bunch of 20? year olds celebrating like it was a Laker's victory. Harmless circus, I guess. Just glad I'm not planning to pass through any airports for the next few weeks!

Here's a thought....since "we" have the body, maybe they could use it for a fundraiser...auction off parts to pay down some of the MIC debt. I'm sure there are plenty of flag waving folks who would pay handsomely. Imagine the watering hole that was able to get his left nut and put it in a case above the bar!

I am not one to celebrate the death of anybody, but he needed killing.

There will be repercussions, but that does not change that this action was right. It is a job well done, and Obama gets his due credit for approving the operation, and the military for performing it admirably.

Note that it did not go off without a hitch, but the plan apparently worked well. The inevitable book and movie will be interesting.

I am not one to celebrate the death of anybody, but he needed killing.

There will be repercussions, but that does not change that this action was right.

It's a very delicate subject to be cocksure about. To say the action to kill him is right you surely need to consider the events that led to the formation of AQ in the first place?

The right thing would have been to put him through the courts, not assassinate him.

Not everything is a shade of gray -- sometimes it really is black and white. There is nothing delicate about clearly identified, self-avowed terrorists, nor anything about the formation of Al Queda that reduces his personal involvement in the deaths of numerous Americans. He had a decade to surrender to the Hague and defend himself in court. He chose to go down shooting instead.

He chose to go down shooting instead.

You mean the West chose to go shooting him down, along with 8,000+ Afghan civilians...

Is it black and white that the leaders of the West should be killed too? Seems only fair..

Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden 'dead'

Al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama Bin Laden is dead, according to US officials.

The US is in possession of Bin Laden's body, the reports say. President Barack Obama is due to make a statement shortly.

Bin Laden is top of the US most wanted list.

wag the dog...

Somehow I doubt that President Obama planned this event for this particular point in time to take away media attention from unemployment etc.

After some 10 years, it just finally happened.

On a related note, I am waiting for Donald Trump to start demanding OBL's long-form death certificate...

Oil prices going down....DOW going. Mission Accomplished.

I wonder if we can pull out of Afghanistan/Pakistan now? Bring back all the troops and cut spending. Get rid of the airport scanners?

Question, did he still provoke the fear from the populace now that he did several years ago? Personally i think no.

I don't like using it but i guess it fits in this case Occams razor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor

Either this guy somehow up until this point managed to hide himself from the eyes and the ears of a very well equipped nation able to listen in on just about any form of communication needed to run a organization he is 'alleged' to have run. making the united states inability to find him the butt of many jokes from stand up routines to south-park.


We have known where he was for a very long time but did not act on it since he was more useful alive as a boogy man until his usefulness in that manner ends. Just like how the same country that supported, backed, and armed dictators turns around to over throw them when they cease to be useful.

As others have stated, they worry about something happening. They are right, something will because he has to be replaced. How else will the military industrial complex justify their obscene budget and the president justify the united states continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan without stating the truth?

It is a pity they killed him.
Imagine what a great distraction he could have provided.
Everyday, all day, for months or more.
Better, even, than Michael Jackson.
The stuff of all news and all conversation...
Rather than anything real.

Well, he was incommunicado in a complex very near the Pakistani military academy.

Very nearly the perfect hiding place, especially if nobody saw him go in. Right under his enemy's nose and very quiet.

The most likely possibility is it really took this long to find him.

Let's go a few steps further and end the MIC, end the empire, pull back to just watching our borders, if that.

But that would mean starting to live within our means, and we rejected that back in Carter's day.

Late to this thread, but just saw this from WaPost:
Shortages of key drugs endanger patients

Doctors, hospitals and federal regulators are struggling to cope with an unprecedented surge in drug shortages in the United States that is endangering cancer patients, heart attack victims, accident survivors and a host of other ill people.

A record 211 medications became scarce in 2010 — triple the number in 2006 — and at least 89 new shortages have been recorded through the end of March, putting the nation on track for far more scarcities.

The paucities are forcing some medical centers to ration drugs — including one urgently needed by leukemia patients — postpone surgeries and other care, and scramble for substitutes...

“It’s a crisis,” said Erin R. Fox, manager of the drug information service at the University of Utah, who monitors drug shortages for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. “Patients are at risk.”


“It seems like there were lot of things happening with consolidations and quality issues and more things coming from overseas,”

Many of the shortages involve older, cheaper generic medications that are less profitable, causing many firms to stop producing them and leaving fewer sources....In addition, drug companies increasingly rely on raw materials from other countries.

“We’ve certainly reached a very global supply chain for drug products, with the active ingredients typically made outside of the United States,” ... “It could be Europe, India — some cases China. If there’s a problem at a facility in Italy or India, it leads to disruption of the drug supply in the United States.”


Many hospitals are running low, and some have run out completely. That has required many facilities to ration the drug, giving priority to those who need it most urgently.


The shortages are forcing hospital pharmacists to juggle supplies and hunt for new sources. Many hospitals, including several contacted in the Washington area, say they are usually able to patch together solutions. But some resort to paying inflated prices or buying from unfamiliar suppliers, increasing the risk they may be getting counterfeits.

Sounds like another symptom of global contraction (collapse?). The JIT (and only when it's highly profitable) supply system breaking down...

This has been going on for awhile, and there have been similar issues with consumer products.

For consumer products, a lot of the shortages are tied to Johnson & Johnson's quality control problems. They've been forced to shut down some factories. The worst seems to be past, but for months, products like Pepcid heartburn medication and OB tampons were out of stock all over the country. People who had a stash were selling it for $80 apiece at Amazon or eBay...and some people were buying.

We can probably expect this kind of thing to continue, and get worse, rather than a sudden cutting of the supply lines. People will get used to it; those who can afford it will hoard the products they need while they're available, or buy it at a premium on eBay. Everyone else will have to learn to do without.

In case you've missed it, there are new stories out. Osama been forgotten, apparently wasn't forgotten. It is reported he was living in an Isalamabd mansion, and has been killed, and the US is in possesion of the body. If this isn't a wild rumour, I expect it will dominate tomorrows news cycle.

Crude Tumbles In Asia On Bin Laden Death Reports

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--Crude oil futures tumbled in early Asian trade Monday following media reports that Osama Bin Laden has been confirmed dead, raising hopes that geopolitical risks in the oil-producing regions of the Middle East and Central Asia could be reduced.

The death of the man would likely have little immediate effect on political stability and oil production in countries such as Libya, however, so traders weren't certain how the market would react in the longer run.

Silly humans.

Wow! Osama was using that much!!??

Does anyone have any experience/advice regarding Thermoplastic (TPO) roofs, or similar technology?

I am looking towards having my house re-roofed...I currently have the traditional asphalt and gravel Albuquerque flat roof...I am interested in TPO or similar, due to possible longer leak-resistant performance and due to the ability to reflect the sun's rays.

I have read some local roofing co sites which claim that they can install some foam insulation panels under the TPO to provide ad'l insulation and to provide some roof slope for drainage.

Also, are metal roofs feasible/smart for flat roofed homes?

It is my understanding that a metal roof is a ~50-year product. I see them on many higher-end pitched-roof homes in ABQ, but am unsure about the idea of using them on a flat roof...perhaps with some kind of build-up with foam insulation and some structural bracing to achieve a small slope within the confines of the flat roof parapets?

My last house here before this one in ABQ was a rental, amd we had ~ 8 big brown wet spots in the ceiling drywall after a major rain...I do not ant the same thing to happen here.

The white roof aspect reducing the house temps in the summer sounds appealing to me...I have evaps and they only do so much, esp. since summer is the humid season in ABQ!

I'd build a ridge say 3-4 feet high, run rafters on 2' centers 18" over edge roof line, insulate the gap with regular insulation (much higher R rating than solid foam sheets), add blocking between rafters at edge of roof with vents every 3rd rafter, sheet roof using 5/8" particle board (much cheaper than regular plywood) with H clips to strengthen, hammer tack tar paper to cover roof overlapping each layer min. 12", then roof with a light colored (less heat capture than darker colors) 30 year dimensional roofing shingles, done. You can even add a ridge vent. Air will enter rafter vents and exit ridge vent.

This eliminates water pooling on a flat roof and causing leaks, insulates and vents roof and provides a platform for solar panels.

H, I don't have any experience with the TPO roofs, but I do have something to offer you with metal.

I think you can get specialised metal roofing (a commercial product) for flat roofs - sort of thing that is used in warehouse roofs etc.

But what I suggest you might look at is an aluminium deck material called Lock-dry [ http://www.lockdry.com ] It is a waterproof, interlocking aluminium deck system that is also suitable for use as a roof!

Bonus is you then have a rooftop deck, that is virtually indestructible, and looks great too. You could do a Ghung and go container gardening on top of it.

I know all this because i have used it for the deck on my house here in BC - the stuff is great.

You could do it over the top of what you have, and leave a circulating air gap (and put in a reflective barrier too) and you would see a decrease in the house temperatures.

You would need to check local building codes, of course, and with the mfr, but if I was going to build a flat roof house (and I like them) I would look at this - might as well make the space useable.

I would think that using the "Lock-Dry" system for a roof might lead to problems. On a basic metal roof, such as the typical 5-V panels, the primary failure mode isn't the material, but the effects of thermal expansion and contraction over time. There is a metal roof system, called "standing seam", in which the expansion and contraction doesn't impact the hold down, which uses clips that allow the metal to move by slipping under the clips. The cheaper 5-V panels eventually work the retaining screws or nails enough so that they can no longer hold the metal down in a wind.

The "Lock-Dry" system, which uses screws to attach the metal panels to the supporting wood, is likely to fail due to the same problem as the 5-V roofing. The panels would likely need to be cut to the length of the full span of the roof from peak to eave, thus the movement due to expansion and contraction could be substantial due to exposure to sunlight and the heat and cold of summer and winter. There appears to be no way in this system to allow for this movement, which might not be a problem with the relatively short spans of a deck...

E. Swanson


My solution to that was to drill three adjacent holes for each screw - creating a slot 3/8" long, and put the screw in the middle of it. We actually had standing seam metal roof installed (2:12 sloping roof) and it didn't come with a clip system, but comes with these screw slots already there, for the same reason, so we just copied that.

Longest pieces on the deck are 20' and I have looked for signs of expansion/contraction relative to the deck frame and haven't seen any.

The coeff of expansion for aluminium is 22x10^-6 m/m.C , so for a 6m piece, and a 50C temperature range you would expect an expansion of 6.6mm, or 1/4inch, so I think ours in the centre of the 3/8 slot is OK.

Would be easier if the stuff came pre slotted like that.

That aside, I think it's a great product - was the best waterproof deck solution I found, much better than the vinyl Duradek/Weatherdeck. Easy to build as it just goes straight onto the joists with no plywood necessary.

I would do some more homework on using it as a flat roof, but I would certainly have it high on my list of options.

Make sure you end up with white or silver to reflect heat, makes a BIG difference. For example concrete, light grey, 37C, white waterproofing 31C. Our roofs here, at least the proper ones not the fibre cement wavy ones, are various designs of concrete, either flat or with a slope around 1:4. Waterproofing either torched on fibre reinforced roll material or painted on acrylic water proofing. The acrylic need reinforcing for a good life but that said my 3 year stuff has lasted more like 6 or 8 without.


There is a listing of "govt approved" Cool Roof materials here, and an article abouyt this in the current issue of Fine Homebuilding - though the article is about pitched roofs.


Hey! Can we have an Election day - Canada Thread? This is the most exciting election in decades in Canada and has major implications for the Oil Sands is an NDP-Liberal coalition replace a Conservative Minority!

Paul Nash ans chrisale,

Thank you both for your suggestions,

I have saved them in my new 'new roof' folder!


Leiten posted this on the previous thread. There weren't may replies, was it not considered a big deal?

Oil down, Russia halts petrol exports

Sorry, here's the live link:


The story actually broke last Wednesday, I believe, so it was kind of old news when Leiten posted it.

The ban is only for high-octane gasoline, and only for a month. People seem to be seeing it as a short-term deal - basically, until the elections are over. Then gasoline prices will be allowed to rise, and there won't be as much incentive for refiners to export gasoline.