Drumbeat: May 20, 2011

Energy Department approves first-ever liquid natural gas exports from Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS — The Energy Department has cleared the way for a terminal in southwestern Louisiana to export a portion of the U.S.’s burgeoning supply of natural gas.

The terminal was originally built to import natural gas during shortages, before supplies skyrocketed because of vast discoveries in shale rock formations.

The Energy Department said this marks the first time an exporter has been allowed to send natural gas from the lower 48 states as LNG to all U.S. trading partners.

US natgas rig count slides to near 16-mth low

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States slid by eight this week to near a 16-month low of 866, data from oil services firm Baker Hughes showed on Friday.

Refining Capacity An Overhang For Oil & Gas Majors

Chevron’s refining profit margins could remain suppressed if excess refinery capacity issues continue to impact the industry. The CEO of Valero Energy commented that excess capacity exists in refineries in several regions including North America, Western Europe and Japan despite several refinery closures. [1] We believe that Chevron’s competitors like Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and Anadarko are also aware of the situation.

Gas stations: We're the gouging victims

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- -- Think you're mad that gas prices are still high, even as oil prices are falling? Gas station owners in New York, Maryland and other states are furious about that, too, and they're blaming their suppliers for gouging them.

And some state attorneys general are taking notice.

Smuggling hits gasoline supplies in Riyadh region

RIYADH: Shortage of gasoline type 95 in some regions in the Kingdom may develop into a crisis if suppliers do not quickly inject enough of it to the gas stations, local Arabic daily Al-Riyadh newspaper reported Tuesday. Especially in Riyadh region, there is a supply shortage.

Aramco assures users no shortage of premium gasoline

DHAHRAN: Saudi Aramco has assured users of Premium 95 grade of gasoline that there is no shortage and that the market is adequately supplied.

In a written statement, Saudi Aramco denied reports appearing in the local media that Premium 95 gasoline is in short supply, especially in Riyadh.

Saudi Aramco slashes June butane exports by a third on domestic demand

Singapore (Platts) - Saudi Aramco has slashed by 33% the volume of butane slated for exports on a contractual basis to its term customers for June, a Tokyo-based source familiar with the company's intentions said Thursday.

NOCK turns gaze to strategic oil reserve

Plans by Government to put up strategic oil reserves have started to gather momentum after the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK) began the search for a consultant to undertake a feasibility study on the modalities of developing national strategic petroleum reserves.

Is BP's latest fiasco evidence of Russian law or Russian chess?

Are we to believe President Dmitry Medvedev, who says that the collapse of BP's blockbuster oil deal in Russia is all a simple matter of the rule of law -- that CEO Bob Dudley was violating a contract, and that isn't done in Russia? One might reply, Since when? But this is what is baffling about the latest turn in BP's long saga of suffering -- one does not know whether Russia has suddenly gone legal, or whether we are watching a dimension of the run-up to the country's 2012 presidential election.

Three Reasons Oil Will Trade Above $100

The price of oil has been very volatile in recent weeks but one investor believes over the medium term there are good reasons for crude prices to remain above $100 a barrel.

Syrian forces shoot dead 30 in protests - lawyer

(Reuters) - Syrian security forces shot dead at least 30 demonstrators on Friday during protests that broke out across the country in defiance of a military crackdown which has killed hundreds of people, a rights activist said.

NATO intercepts Libya-bound oil tanker

NATO says it has intercepted an oil tanker it had reason to believe was set to deliver fuel for use by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's military forces.

The ship was intercepted on Friday hours after the alliance sunk eight Libyan warships in an attack said to be the broadest on Libya's naval forces since the alliance joined the conflict.

Eni, UniCredit to meet Libyan rebels -- sources

(Reuters) - Italian oil and gas group Eni SpA and Italian bank UniCredit SpA will meet Libyan rebels to discuss a possible resumption of oil exports to Italy, two sources close to the operation told Reuters.

Scottish Wind Farms Paid to Shut Down Generation

In April, six Scottish wind farm companies were paid £300,000 (US$485,000) to shut down generation. The problem? Over a two-day period they were producing too much electricity. UK wind power groups were cock-a-hoop. At last, a good news wind energy story not built on the quicksand of fanciful claims to “free” energy, for once based on the hard math of actual production.

Living buildings, living economies, and a living future

At a recent conference, I saw the potential for blending two of the most exciting emerging movements of our time—the living building and the living economies movements. A vision of the combination of these two movements energized me with renewed hope that we humans can end our isolation from one another and from nature—that we can move forward to achieve a prosperous, secure, and creative human future for all.

U.S.: Al Qaeda has interest in strikes on energy infrastructure

Washington (CNN) -- The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have warned police across the United States that al Qaeda has a "continuing interest" in attacking oil and natural gas targets, a department spokesman said Friday.

The warning came as a result of information seized during the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, a U.S. official said.

Government to develop Oil Shock Response Plan

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne yesterday agreed to develop an 'Oil Shock Response Plan', following a meeting with the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).

The group, which was formed by Arup, B&Q, Buro Happold, Solarcentury, SSE, Stagecoach and Virgin, and campaigns for greater awareness of the economic threat presented by dwindling oil supplies, said that the meeting had proved "constructive" and had helped to advance the energy security dialogue.

Repsol to Begin Offshore Cuba Drilling Later This Year

Saipem-owned semisubmersible Scarabeo 9 is set to leave Keppel Shipyard in Singapore next month or July and arrive offshore Cuba sometime in September to drill the Jaguey prospect for Repsol in 5,300 feet of water, a little bit deeper than the Macondo well, said Jorge Pinon, a visiting fellow with the Florida International University Latin America and Caribbean Center's Cuban Research Institute.

BP told it must break itself up or risk takeover

BP chief executive Bob Dudley has been warned that he must break up his huge oil business into three separate parts to increase its stock market value or face the possibility of a takeover by the Russians or Chinese.

Indonesian Govt to Hunt for More Oil in The East

Unexplored oil and gas reserves in eastern Indonesia will play a vital role in securing the country's energy needs in the future, therefore more investment is necessary to develop the area, a minister said.

"As many oil and gas fields are maturing -- continuing their natural decline -- we're optimistic that frontier and deep water areas, which are mostly located in the eastern part of Indonesia, will contribute significantly to future production," Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh said in a speech at the opening ceremony of "The 35th Indonesian Petroleum Association (IPA) Annual Convention and Exhibition" at the Jakarta Convention Center.


We are all familiar with all the hullabaloo in recent years over Peak Oil. Dozens of books and websites devoted an enormous about of space to scaring the pants off of us. In a few years, we would be all be sitting in a dark, cold room without access to “Dancing with the Stars”. Man …that will be a bummer. Before you get your blood pressure back under control, I’m here to tell you the Peak Oil is just the beginning. The World is facing more peaks that it can handle in the next few decades.

John Michael Greer: The tyranny of the temporary

For just short of a year now, my posts here have focused on exploring one extensive set of options for dealing with the crisis of industrial civilization – the toolkit that came to maturity in the organic gardening and appropriate technology movements of the Seventies, and has been more or less sitting on a shelf since that time, being roundly ignored even by those people who thought they were pursuing every available response to peak oil. The process of hauling those tools down off the shelf and handing them out isn’t quite finished yet, but before we go on to the last round of unpacking, I want to talk about another side of the social process that put them on the shelf in the first place.

That dimension of our predicament was pointed up by a commenter who responded to part of last week’s post by suggesting, among other things, that people would still be getting their food from supermarkets for long enough that anyone alive today doesn’t need to worry about other options. It’s not an example that gets brought up often; still, the same assumption that current ways of doing things will remain in place indefinitely is an important reason why so many otherwise prudent and intelligent people to ignore the signs that their lifestyle is getting ready to terminate itself with extreme prejudice. A hard look at the logic behind it is certainly in order.

Reinventing democracy, reclaiming the commons: A progressive dialogue on the future of Canada

We face globe-threatening crises -- climate change, species extinction, a looming water shortage catastrophe, more economic disasters created by finance capital, peak oil, and the relentless growth of consumer culture. But we have not created organizations or movements that can address these issues effectively. It seems that only the equivalent of a cultural revolution -- a movement to counter consumerism -- will address many of these issues and make political change possible. But it is unclear how that will happen.

Drought in US, EU stressing crops, farmers

PARIS/CHICAGO — Drought from Paris, France to Paris, Texas has farmers and grain dealers looking upwards. The farmers are looking to the skies for rain and the dealers are wondering where rising grain prices are going to stop.

U.S. wheat prices are on their way to their biggest weekly gain and European benchmark wheat futures have jumped just under 30 percent in the past nine weeks as wheat belts on both sides of the Atlantic show signs of irreversible drought damage.

...Food security is a global concern and the UN's food body has issued repeated warnings about food price inflation since last year's Black Sea drought.

Rising food prices helped fuel the unrest which toppled the heads of Egypt and Tunisia earlier this year, triggering protests in many Arab countries.

US Gasoline Sales Fell In April For First Time This Year - API

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Gasoline sales in April fell for the first time this year as higher prices turned U.S. consumers away from the pump, the American Petroleum Institute said Friday.

Gasoline sales averaged 8.9 million barrels a day in April 2011, down 2.2% from the same month last year, according to the API. As prices for the motor fuel rose by 24 cents during the month, drawing near the psychologically jarring $4.00-a-gallon level, drivers started cutting back fuel expenditures en masse, API chief economist John Felmy said.

Pumped Up: Are Americans Addicted To Oil?

As many Americans struggle with higher gas prices, others look for ways to live using fewer fossil fuels. They pursue a personal form of energy independence — and they are finding that it's no easy feat.

All aboard! Amtrak sees surge in ridership

With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon and this summer shaping up to be the most expensive ever for air travel, some vacationers may be turning to another method of transportation: train travel.

Amtrak has seen 18 consecutive months of ridership growth and is on track to set a new annual record. The passenger rail company reported 2.7 million passengers last month, a 9.9 percent increase over April 2010.

BP recovers $1 bn Gulf spill costs from Japan's Mitsui

LONDON (AFP) – BP said on Friday that it had recovered more than $1.0 billion in costs linked to last year's devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill from a US subsidiary of Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co.

The announcement was welcome news for the British energy giant at the end of a week in which BP saw its hopes of exploiting Russian Arctic oil shattered.

Syria defies Obama call as crackdown continues

AMMAN — Syrian security forces opened fire on protests around the country Friday in the latest sign the conflict could be moving toward a long and bloody stalemate as President Bashar Assad shrugs off tighter sanctions and U.S. calls to step aside.

Thousands of people demonstrated across Syria on Friday, calling for freedom in defiance of a military crackdown that has killed hundreds, witnesses and activists said. Witnesses reported protests Friday in the central cities of Homs and Hama, as wells the Mediterranean ports of Banias and Latakia.

Iraqi foreign oil payments threatened

BP has lifted its first cargo of Iraqi crude as payment in kind for boosting output at the country's biggest oilfield.

But by reaching that milestone, it may have triggered a popular backlash against foreign oil companies in Iraq.

Russia's oil tsar unbowed after BP breakdown

(Reuters) - Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who this week saw the crowning achievement of his career as Russia's energy tsar thwarted by rival businessmen, shows no sign of conceding defeat.

Ahmadinejad oil moves 'illegal'

Iran's constitutional watchdog has said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to appoint himself caretaker Oil Minister is illegal, according to local media reports.

Gazprom Agrees With China, Ups Europe Plan

Gazprom and China have agreed on a price and aim to resolve outstanding issues and sign a supply contract by mid-year, deputy chief executive Alexander Medvedev told Reuters in an interview at a gas storage conference in Salzburg, Austria, on Thursday.

More Fryer Grease Reported Stolen in Lincoln

A string of local fryer grease robberies had Lincoln Police on the lookout. They caught two suspects from Missouri just days ago, 36 year-old Jesse Moore and 34 year-old Christy Harris. 10-11's Catherine Crane shows us how Lincoln Police caught some greasy suspects and now more businesses are coming forward with what they're calling a messy situation.

Grease is as good as gold to some people. It can be converted and sold as biodiesel or animal feed, and when the price of gasoline goes up, the theft of grease goes up.

Outcry over new coal-fired plant in Victoria

The Environmental Protection Authority has approved a new billion-dollar coal-powered station, making synthetic gas. The authority says it's satisfied the 'demonstration project' in Victoria's Latrobe Valley could deliver a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to current brown coal plants. Environmental groups are already considering legal action.

Italian court cancels Enel clean coal conversion

A plan by Italian utility Enel to convert one of its oil fired power plants into a clean coal plant have been rejected by the country’s top administrative court.

The ruling by Italy’s State Council – which cannot be appealed – means that Enel will have to either cancel the €2.5 billion project, or re-start the permitting process from the beginning.

Brazil: Government Vows Crackdown on Cattle Ranchers in the Amazon

Brazilian government officials said Wednesday that they would crack down on cattle ranchers in the Amazon after new data showed that deforestation there had increased by 26 percent in the nine months that ended in April, compared to with the same period a year before. The data showed to that about 710 square miles had been deforested in that time.

Amsterdam to convert vibrations from bridges into electricity

In contrast to Masdar City's build-it-and-they-will-come approach, Amsterdam is retrofitting buildings from the 16th-century with hi-tech carbon emissions monitors and machines to turn the vibrations of cars into electricity.

Pressure to Improve Water Quality in Chicago River

In recent days, the federal government and environmental groups have increased the pressure on Chicago’s wastewater treatment agency to stop discharging untreated sewage into the Chicago River during storms and to disinfect the treated sewage that makes up 70 percent of the river’s flow.

Hauling Icebergs to Slake the Earth’s Thirst

It’s a seemingly outlandish idea that’s been around for decades and has never been successfully realized. But a small group of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs believe it can be done economically and are doggedly pursuing government and private sector support for a test effort in the North Atlantic.

Their plan is to use tugboats to haul a large iceberg off Newfoundland to the arid Canary Islands, near the Moroccan coast.

Software can point to climate tech

A team of U.S. researchers has developed a model to identify technologies that are on the fast track to constant improvement. When applied to energy, it could help investors and policymakers sort out which ones will help us avoid catastrophic climate change.

Climate Change Blamed for Record Mississippi Floods

WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) - Human-induced climate change is contributing to the recent heavy rain and ongoing record flooding along the Mississippi River, and we can expect more extreme weather events in the future, according to scientists and adaptation experts on a teleconference held by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Climate change is about more than warming. What we're really seeing is global weirding," said climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor at Texas Tech University. "It is altering the character and conditions of the places we know and love. For many places around the world, what we are likely to see could be feast or famine - more frequency of weather at the extremes, from intense storms to prolonged droughts."

A New Gauge to See What’s Beyond Happiness

As the investigation of happiness proceeded, Dr. Seligman began seeing certain limitations of the concept. Why did couples go on having children even though the data clearly showed that parents are less happy than childless couples? Why did billionaires desperately seek more money even when there was nothing they wanted to do with it?

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Summer Ahead

Despite the recent drop in oil prices, the outlook for the remainder of the year is not good. If the IEA numbers are correct the world is probably burning more oil each day than is coming out of the ground, with the difference being made up from the 2.6 billion barrel stockpiles held by the OECD countries. Every day brings new stories of coal, electric power and oil product shortages in some corner of the world. The climate too is not cooperating with significant crop failures imminent in many parts of the world and the water levels at numerous hydro dams, particularly in Asia, falling rapidly.

Behind much of oil's recent price drop is the concern among oil traders that economic growth was not going as well in the U.S. and China as had been hoped. In the case of the US this is probably not a bad concern as much of the so-called recovery that is supposed to be taking place is based on hype and selective interpretation of suspect economic statistics. In reality, there has been very little improvement in the US economy this year other than the lingering effects of 2009's $800 billion stimulus package.

Oil Climbs in New York on Signs of Fuel Demand, Heads for Weekly Decline

Oil rose in New York, trimming its weekly decline, on signs of growing fuel demand in the world’s two biggest crude-consuming nations.

July delivery futures climbed as much as 1.2 percent, recovering from a 1.6 percent drop yesterday. U.S. jobless claims fell by more-than-forecast 29,000 in the week ended May 14, according to the Labor Department. China’s diesel demand may climb as factories turn to the fuel this summer for power generation amid electricity rationing, Barclays Capital said.

Gas prices keep inflation high at 3.3%

Higher prices at the gas pumps kept Canada's annual inflation rate at a near three-year high of 3.3 per cent in April, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

Gasoline prices jumped more than six per cent over the month and 26.4 per cent in the past year, the agency said.

Pain at the pump

Many Australians are driving less or opting to give up their vehicles altogether because of the surge in fuel prices.

American anger at gas prices fueled by rising household energy costs

Congress's failed bid Tuesday to rein in multibillion-dollar tax breaks for oil companies was merely a first shot across the bow, as Americans frustrated by rising energy costs press their lawmakers to target the industry, according to a new study.

The analysis by ClearView Energy Partners estimates that Americans are now spending 12 percent of their disposable income on gasoline, electricity and heating – up from 7.7 percent in 2002. With Americans' disposable income increasing since 2002, households are paying more than double what they did in 2002 – $4,410 a year in 2011, compared with $2,180 a year per in 2002.

Higher gas prices pinch consumers

The meteoric rise in gasoline prices may have peaked, at least for now. But many shell-shocked consumers expect the pain at the pump to be a chronic condition.

A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that 54% of Americans believe high gas prices are here to stay. "It's like this is the new normal," says Demon Nelson of Southfield, Mich., after paying $4.15 a gallon to fill up his Chevrolet Impala.

Good Graph Friday: Lifestyle changes due to higher gas

As gas prices rise, more than half of Americans say they have made changes to their lifestyle, according to a new Gallup poll.

The most common adjustment: driving less.

Gas prices could plummet for summer driving

Gasoline prices could dive as the summer driving season begins.

Gas futures are heading for the biggest monthly drop in a year as demand shrinks, refiners bring spare capacity back on line after maintenance and plants in Louisiana avoid damage from Mississippi River floods, Bloomberg reports.

Once again speculation appears to be gouging gas consumers

It appeared obvious months ago when "experts" predicted $5 a gallon gas prices, that speculation was again manipulating the prices consumers pay at the pump. Now that all the speculator rhetoric has proved fallacious, it's all too clear.

Senate blocks move to open up offshore drilling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate blocked a move by Republicans to speed domestic offshore oil and natural gas drilling on Wednesday, a fresh sign of congressional gridlock on energy issues even as drivers endure gasoline prices near $4 a gallon.

Congress's Plans to Lower Gas Prices Won't Do Squat

Gas prices are going to keep going up. Even if we opened up all of America's coastlines to offshore drilling, even by 2030 we'd only theoretically succeed at lowering gas prices by mere pennies. And that's according to the conservative-leaning Energy Information Administration. And for that matter, subsidies have little bearing on gas prices either.

Regulation is the key to lower gasoline prices

The pundits say the high price of gasoline may cost Obama the election. The Republicans are saying that Obama is causing the problem by not allowing more drilling. They imply that is there is a lot more oil that can be found on public lands and in the Gulf and the increased production would lower gas prices.

Both of these assumptions are wrong. Anyone who will bother to check with the experts, and I don't mean Sen. Orrin Hatch, will soon discover that we have already reached peak oil in the U.S and there isn't much more good-quality, easily accessible oil out there. If there were, what are we doing drilling miles down in the ocean? And oil shale production seems to be a long way down the road.

Reasons to be cheerful, Part I

There are plenty of reasons to be gloomy about the prospects of stabilising the global climate. The failure at Copenhagen (partly, but far from wholly, redressed in the subsequent meeting at Cancun) means that a binding international agreement, let alone an effective international trading scheme, is a long way off. The political right, at least in English-speaking countries, has deepened its commitment to anti-science delusionism. And (regardless of views on its merits) the prospect of a significant contribution from nuclear power has pretty much disappeared, at least for the next decade or so, following Fukushima and the failure of the US ‘nuclear renaissance’.

But there’s also some striking good news. Most important is the arrival of ‘peak gasoline’ in the US. US gasoline consumption peaked in 2006 and was about 8 per cent below the peak in 2010. Consumption per person has fallen more than 10 per cent.

China's April crude oil stocks rise 2.3% month-on-month

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's April crude oil inventory rose 2.3 percent from March, but stocks of refined petroleum products dipped 2.9 percent month-on-month, according to data released by Xinhua's financial information branch, Xinhua 08, on Friday.

Of the refined oil products inventory, gasoline stocks fell 2 percent, diesel dropped 3.4 percent and kerosene declined 4 percent month-on-month.

Heat is on, and the mood has changed

The plea for more oil supplies comes as Opec prepares for what could be its most contentious meeting in several years.

The International Energy Agency's (IEA) rare public statement said it was acting in a "constructive spirit" to work with oil producers and consumers other than its members. But the tone and content of the message signalled a shift from the co-operative atmosphere that prevailed just three months ago.

ANALYSIS-India must outbid Japan, China for new LNG supply

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports will soar in the next decade to fuel its expanding economy, pitting the Asian giant against China and Japan for supplies as its domestic gas output struggles and overland delivery remains a pipe dream. India's trillion-dollar economy is already the world's eighth-largest importer of LNG, and those imports could rise as much as five-fold in the next decade.

India will have to hurry to secure the product it needs in the face of competition from Asian rivals China and nuclear-nervous Japan.

Shell boosts Australia gas with offshore LNG

PERTH (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell is to anchor the world's biggest ever ship off the coast of Australia to produce liquefied natural gas for the booming Asian market in a landmark project expected to cost over $10 billion (6 billion pounds).

Indonesia May Use Giant Floating Dock From Japan to Boost Coal Shipments

Indonesia, the world’s second-largest coal exporter, may build a floating dock worth as much as 100 billion yen ($1.2 billion) with Japan to enable speedier transfer of the fuel from barges to bigger ships.

Poland to get 30 pct less Urals blend in May -trade

(Reuters) - Polish refineries will receive one-third less Urals blend crude URL-E oil from Russia and Kazakhstan in May compared to April, trade sources told Reuters on Friday.

Russia to cut peak oil taxes in next 3 yrs - consultant

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia will significantly ease its tax take in oil in the next three years as the current tax regime, one of the world's most stringent, makes development of many fields unattractive, a consultancy said on Wednesday.

Exclusive Analysis think tank said in a report it expected the world's top oil producer to cut its government tax take in oil by over five percentage points from the 85 percent in the next three years.

Alberta Wildfires Wane as Winds Ease, Lessening Risks to Oil Production

Firefighters may begin to gain the upper hand over Alberta’s wildfires as winds ease and humidity rises, lessening the risk to crude production sites, said a spokesman from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

NATO Aircraft Hit Pro-Qaddafi Libyan Warships

NATO aircraft hit eight of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s warships in the ports of Tripoli, Al Khums and Sirte overnight as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said members of Qaddafi’s family fled the country.

“Given the escalating use of naval assets, NATO had no choice but to take decisive action to protect the civilian population of Libya and NATO forces at sea,” Rear-Admiral Russell Harding said in a statement released today in Naples. “All the vessels targeted last night were naval warships with no civilian utility.”

Obama says Kadhafi will go or be forced out

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Libya's Moamer Kadhafi will "inevitably" leave or be forced from power, US President Barack Obama said on Thursday, as NATO declared it had significantly degraded the strongman's war machine.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon told AFP, meanwhile, that attempts to secure a ceasefire in Libya have failed and the humanitarian crisis is worsening.

No sign of Libya's Ghanem despite air ticket: Austria

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian officials said on Friday they had no reason to believe Libyan Oil Minister Shokri Ghanem had entered the country even though his name was on a passenger list for a flight that arrived on Thursday.

A Long Way From Reaching Our Peak

Inspired, among others, by the typically apocalyptic, ecological maunderings of Jeremy Grantham (the renowned investor here providing us with classic evidence of the general non-transferability of specific expertise from one metier to another), the recent overwrought oil market has brought the Exhaustionists out in full force, each plaintively wailing of the dangers of Peak Oil (as well as Peak Copper, Peak Corn, etc.—though never, thankfully, Peek Freans).

Einhorn, Pickens and Puplava: Q1 2011 Portfolio Tracking

Boone Pickens is a famed energy investor and, as I am a firm believer in peak oil, I peruse Pickens' BP Capital filings for new energy ideas. Pickens does not employ a strict value approach in buying stocks, but that does not preclude a possible opportunity showing up in his 13F-HR filing.

Japan utility head resigns amid nuclear crisis

TOKYO (AP) — The president of the utility behind the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl said Friday he was stepping down in disgrace after reporting the biggest losses in company history.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Masataka Shimizu apologized at his company's Tokyo headquarters and said he was taking responsibility for the nuclear crisis.

Japan PM: must review oversight of nuclear power

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Wednesday Japan must rethink how nuclear power is regulated and explore other energy sources after a crisis at a tsunami-crippled plant, but sidestepped the question of how big a role atomic energy would play in the country's future.

Kan, battling low support rates, a feisty opposition and rebels in his own party, has pledged a blank-slate review of Japan's current energy policy that aims to boost nuclear power to more than 50 percent of electricity supply by 2020 from about 30 percent now. But whether he can break the grip of the politically powerful utilities remains in doubt.

U.S. Was Warned on Vents Before Failure at Japan’s Plant

WASHINGTON — Five years before the crucial emergency vents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were disabled by an accident they were supposed to help handle, engineers at a reactor in Minnesota warned American regulators about that very problem.

The Importance of Venting, When a Reactor Threatens to Blow Its Stack

When the reactors were designed in the 1960s, the idea was that in the event of an accident, all of the radioactive materials would be bottled up in the primary containment. This was itself a philosophical reversal, in the sense that it was an acknowledgment that it might be impossible to hold everything in.

Tokyo travel industry on the brink

(CNNGo) -- In the cavernous lobby of the Tokyu Hotel in Tokyo, executives sip $14 coffees, crisply dressed waiters hover with English-language menus and bilingual reception clerks wait patiently for incoming guests.

All that's missing are the foreigners in this five-star Shibuya landmark that normally hosts tens of thousands of overseas visitors every year.

A lone American couple says they nearly cancelled their trip.

Ministry urged to abandon Flamborough highway

Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment (COPE) told ministry officials at a public meeting Thursday night it believes the population prediction at the centre of the need for a new roadway — that about 450,000 more people will live in the Hamilton area by 2031 — needs to be revised because it is inflated. COPE co-chair Sue McMaster also disputed the contention that a highway creates jobs, and she said rail was not adequately reviewed, that agricultural land would be lost and that climate change and peak oil were not considered.

How is the transition to electric cars going?

As electric cars arrive in American garages, drivers are going to have to start thinking of them more like cellphones and less like hungry children.

Just as we've learned to plug our phones in at night if we want to use them in the morning, we'll need to remember to plug in the car if we want to get to work. This will replace the old thinking in which, as the gas gauge approached empty, we lived in confidence that we could duck into a nearby gas station to top off the tank, just as we know we can find a grocery store or fast-food place if the kids get hungry. The infrastructure for recharging electric cars isn't that developed yet.

Hybrid Owners Look to Extend Carpool Privilege

SAN FRANCISCO — Virtue may be its own reward, but incentives don’t hurt. In California in 2004, when the country’s first measure restricting vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions became law, 75,000 owners of the gas-stingiest hybrid cars were assured access to carpool lanes.

Now the $8 yellow decal that served as a get-out-of-traffic-free card is about to become meaningless: the privilege, originally set to expire in 2008, was legislatively extended twice, and now ends July 1.

But the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic drivers who got the coveted decals — 10,000 more were added a couple of years later — are finding it hard to accept the idea that they are not as special as they once were.

GM to boost Volt production

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- General Motors is preparing to greatly increase production of the Chevrolet Volt as it prepares to begin selling the Detroit-made plug-in hybrid across the United States as well as in China and Europe.

What car-drivers value in 'going electric'

Electric cars may be the best solution for weaning ourselves off of the gas-guzzling - and greenhouse gas-emitting - combustion engine. But for those selling electric vehicles, there is a lack of understanding over what customers want from, and what they will pay for, when it comes to plug-in automobiles.

Two studies from the University of Delaware (UD), have helped plug that gap, by looking at how consumers valued the features of electric vehicles - and how driving patterns would mesh with the limited range of the first generation of these cars.

Are electric cars the future of the automotive industry?

They are the future. The internal combustion engine is such old, inefficient technology, and will always pollute. Something like 90% of car journeys are below 50 miles, and electric cars can have a range up to 300 miles. Batteries for electric vehicles are an underdeveloped technology. It’s all suppressed by government politics, greedy oil and automotive companies. They’re not going to make as much money when we all have electric cars.

E-cars won't solve congestion, says president of Bicycle Association

Philip Taylor tells Bicycle Association AGM that global urbanisation means cars are on the wane, bikes big part of the future

In a speech at yesterday's AGM of the Bicycle Association, outgoing president Philip Taylor argued that, over the long term, global urbanisation means car mileage will continue its decline, and bicycle mileage will increase as cities face increasing space, cost and health pressures.

Bike to Work Day TODAY

If you weren’t aware, today is National Bike to Work Day in the U.S. That means, even if today is the only day of the year you do so, you should bike to work today!

Wind power affects US electricity prices "less than one per cent"

US utilities have rubbished claims that adding renewable energy generation to their portfolios will cause domestic energy bills to "skyrocket", revealing that a series of studies have shown that in most cases renewable energy projects result in price increases of just a fraction of a per cent.

When the oil runs out...

The most pessimistic analysts say peak oil production from all possible sources will be in 2015 and will reach 90 million barrels per day (bpd).

Scientists predict the level of 90m bpd will last 30 years, so that major changes will come soon after 2030.

And they are serious, for the 90 per cent of total world transport depends on oil.

Invest in This Clean Energy Before Prices Double

Two popular "green" alternatives to oil and coal are wind and solar energy production. The problem with these options is that they are currently inefficient and ineffective. Wind, even in windy places, only blows enough to create electricity with wind turbines about 30% of the time. Solar energy production requires the sun, which doesn't shine 24 hours a day. Eliminate massive government subsidies and these two alternative energy industries would die on the vine. They are both expensive and impractical, and it is easy to imagine the federal government, with its huge deficits and budget problems, eliminating these taxpayer-funded subsidy programs.

The most likely solution to the world's energy problems is the most controversial — nuclear.

Interview With David W. Orr

TreeHugger: You've said that most environmental problems result from poor design ("factories that produce more waste than product; buildings that squander energy; farms that bleed soil; cities designed to sprawl, etc"). Do you believe that we can get to good, ecological design just by changing incentives - like making pollutants more expensive than clean alternatives - or is it an educational challenge. Is it mostly about teaching what good design is to the people who create product, services, cities, etc?

David W. Orr: Incentives to design for whole systems that work over the long term would help a great deal. These can take a variety of forms and can be introduced at different scales in different ways. Improved building codes mostly administered at state and local levels, for example, would be useful to raise the bar in construction and renovation. At the Federal level, steady increases in energy taxes would be useful for internalizing the full costs of energy extraction and emissions and would correct the major flaw in markets for virtually everything. Higher resulting prices, presumably, would result in greater efficiency and reduce unnecessary consumption. But people will have to understand what's at risk before they will agree to pay higher energy taxes. And they will have to see themselves as responsible agents in a larger civic commons. The latter two are clearly educational and political challenges.

River rises; Northwest wind farms, plants cut back

PORTLAND, Ore. – For five hours early Wednesday the Pacific Northwest was running green, almost all of its electricity coming from hydroelectric dams in a river system flush with spring runoff.

That's a tiny carbon footprint. But it could also be a blow to the region's burgeoning wind industry, and could kill endangered fish in their spring migration.

Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse (from the CDC - yes, really)

So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

Forget the Rapture: May 21 Is National Apocalypse Day — A Celebration of Peak Humanity

And that's why we should all make sure to make tomorrow National Apocalypse Day: because by celebrating the American right to say that the end of the world is coming, we are also celebrating the American right to say that the end of the world is coming for everybody but us, and that the Americans whose lifestyles we don't like had better change them or else they're going to be cast into seas boiling with blood. Peak Humanity turns out to serve the same purpose as Peak Oil, which serves the same purpose as Global Warming, which serves the same purpose as the Book of Revelations: it provides the same opportunity to ask sinners to repent, and the same opportunity for disappointment when they don't, and the world goes on anyway. Of course, the difference between my apocalyptic scenario and your apocalyptic scenario is that mine is perfectly reasonable; it is self-evident that what will doom humanity is a peak population of 10.2 billion humans, which is why tomorrow, when the Rapture comes and a billion or so believers are taken up into the arms of Jesus, I will finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Global population is set to peak – here's how to profit

Writing in 1798, Malthus argued that the population would grow too fast to keep up with the food supply. Disaster would ensue. (That's the short version, but you catch my drift).

Today, many people – most eye-catchingly, US investor Jeremy Grantham at GMO – are making the same argument: Malthus wasn't wrong; he was early. And now, once again, we're at risk of running out of everything, from energy to food to basic materials.

Given our bearish tendencies here at MoneyWeek, you might expect us to lap this up. But truth be told, I'm an optimist in the long run.

An introduction to our guest editor

BusinessGreen's inaugural guest editor is by no means afraid of stirring things up. A staunch proponent of solar photovoltaics in the UK, Jeremy Leggett has remained one of the UK's most vocal environmentalists with his outspoken views on peak oil and contention that the world should abandon fossil fuels as soon as possible.

How to develop a business plan for oil depletion

Chris Skrebowski explores how businesses can best protect themselves against the threat posed by Peak Oil.

What does $100 crude and $4 gas mean for water?

I have been at the Ontario Water Summit this week. It was well attended, and will certainly help make the connection between the province and water technology, but I found myself talking a lot more about gas than water at the event. It seems that excitement about shale gas is straying towards heresy. People are beginning to say that there is so much gas around, that there may be no immediate need to pursue renewable energy so hard.

The argument goes that the world is facing two separate energy crises: one related to global warming and the other related to peak oil. Both of these problems can be addressed by expanding the supply of natural gas. Switching from coal to gas will reduce greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt hour of electricity production, and this will hold down greenhouse gas emission until renewables are sufficiently competitive to take over.

Australia: Growcom calls for federal government to join the dots in food security and health debate

Peak horticulture body Growcom today called for the urgent integration of food policy and programs by the federal government to plan for future food security.

Chief Executive Officer Alex Livingstone said the call follows the release of several federal government reports in recent days which indicate an insular and complacent approach to national food security and which missed the big picture.

Solutions to Water Supply Woes Surface in the West

The good news is that for all the negative talk — whether it’s the strained relations between urban areas and agriculture or the indiscriminate placement of boggy golf courses in semi-deserts — there are signs that a paradigm shift is occurring.

One example is the growing interest in alternatives such as reclaimed water. “We used to think of waste water as a liability,” Gleick says; “now, it’s considered an asset.” For example, in Tucson, 700 single-family homes, 39 parks and 52 schools, including the University of Arizona, irrigate with reclaimed water.

Rising seas data 'not scare campaign'

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says the Federal Government is not trying to scare people by releasing data about the risks of rising sea levels in metropolitan Adelaide.

Oil: the real reason we need a carbon price

There could be another reason why we don’t need to bother about weaning people off fossil fuels. Peak Oil, and the subsequent decline in world oil production, will do it for us. Not only the supply of oil, but also of natural gas and coal, will all peak before mid century, according to a range of independent projections.

The JODI oil production numbers came out Wednesday with the March data. The JODI database is not complete but I have figured a way around that problem. Only four major oil producers do not report their production to JODI. They are Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and Syria. I have used EIA data for those four countries. Combined they produce about 1.37 mb/d, down from almost 1.5 mb/d in late 2007. So any error in the EIA data will not make much difference.

It is important to realize that JODI just reports the data that is reported to them by the producing countries. So if a nation is lying about their production, that lie is just posted as if it were true. But with the notable exception of Venezuela, I think most of the data is pretty close. In the nine years the JODI database has been in existence Venezuela has, on average, reported their production to be about 550 thousand barrels per day above what everyone else reports including OPEC’s “secondary sources”.

If a country doesn't report, JODI just inserts a zero for that month's production. In those cases I have carried the last month they reported forward so the numbers are not exact, but close enough. The JODI production numbers are Crude + Condensate. Still there are a few very small producers that do not report at all so the data represents about 98 to 99 percent of all oil produced.

According to JODI, World C+C production in March was down 1,671,000 barrels per day. Most of that was Libya. All OPEC was down 1,400,000 barrels per day while non-OPEC was down 271,000 barrels per day. All losers and gainers are listed below with a change of greater than 10,000 barrels per day. The numbers are thousands of barrels per day.

Losers                          Gainers
Country	        Change		Country	      Change
Libya	        -982		Venezuela	126
Saudi Arabia	-365		U.A.E.	        122
Nigeria	        -179		Kuwait	         40
Iraq	        -105		Denmark	         32
Canada	         -95		U.K.	         27
Malaysia	 -70		Australia 	 21
Algeria          -66		Mexico  	 18
Norway	         -61		Iran	         15
China	         -57		
Russia	         -40		
Azerbaijan	 -28		
Philippines	 -12		
Brunei	         -11		

I have posted a chart here that shows crude oil peaked in 2006 according to JODI.
Ron P.

Following your post, I've looked at it also, here is what I got:

The difference seems to come from OPEC producers reporting smaller production numbers in the JODI database.

Sam, I know the JODI database says it is crude but crude to JODI means Crude + Condensate.
The Joint Oil Data Initiative: Background, Current Status and Objectives

1.Crude Oil :Including lease condensate – excluding NGL

You wrote:

The difference seems to come from OPEC producers reporting smaller production numbers in the JODI database.

Yes but this divergence does not come until November of 2008 and averages over 2 million barrels per day in 2010. And most important of all, the numbers reported by OPEC's Oil Market Report are always slightly higher than the JODI numbers. This can be accounted for by Venezuela reporting over half a million barrels per day more to JODI than the OMR's "secondary sources" report. And of course the JODI and EIA numbers are C+C while the OMR data is Crude Only. Therefore the divergence is only with the late EIA data! The JODI numbers, with the exception of Venezuela, pretty much agree with OPEC's "secondary sources" data. Therefore I must conclude that Peak Oil occurred in 2006... so far anyway.

JODI EIA data, OPEC OMR data and EIA OPEC data from January 2002 thru March 2011 in KB/d. (Thru Jan 2011 for the EIA data.) I apologize for not having the dates on the X axis but I still haven't figured out how to do that yet with Office 2003.

JODI OPEC March 2011
Ron P.

In order to put the dates on your graph, here is how I proceed with excel : right click on the x-axis, there should be an option called "source data". That displays a dialog with an option "labels for X-axis" or such at the bottom of the dialog with a button displaying a small image of a spreadsheet. Click that button and you will be able to select a row or a column containing the dates in whatever format you like. If there isn't a button, there still is an entry line where you can type the coordinates for the row or the column like $B1-$B12 or so. Sorry for not being more precise, I use a french version of that software but if you play around, you should be able to get that to work. I use Excel 2004 in french, not very different I think from 2003 in english since Excel 95 was already able to lable the X-axis IIRC.

hope this helps ...

Thanks Ron, this is significant, I'm starting a post on this.

Great analysis again, well done.

One nitpick: I think you mean OMR for OPEC is always slightly less than JODI, not slightly more. That fits the graphs and your explanation for the slight difference.

Exactly Nick, thanks for the correction.

Ron P.

FOR ALL - Potential big news for the future of LNG. Heard on NPR this morning: Royal Dutch Shell will build a super-sized floating LNG compression vessel. It will be 1,600' long and displace 7X as much as an aircraft carrier. Estimated cost is $10-12 billion. No capacity stated but you have to assume it's huge. A side note to that story: about a year ago Brazil announced the first construction of the first floating re-gasification vessel for LNG. They didn't say where they anticipated that LNG would be shipped from or why they expected to be importing enough LNG to make such an investment. That story struck me a bit odd given the anticipation of huge offshore oil reserves being developed down there.

There are huge proven NG reserves in most of the offshore venues. Some have been developed recently by piping the NG onshore, compressing there and then tankering to the EU, Japan, US, etc. But pipelining the NG onshore can be very expensive and in some cases physically impossible. RDS obviously sees the long term profitability of such an investment. I've seen no estimate of the amount of stranded NG out there. But in addition to proven reserves there may be a lot of additional potential that hasn't been drilled because there was no economical way to get the production to shore. Some trends tend to be oily...some gassy. If a trend appears to be mostly NG companies will stop drilling if the NG can't be piped out. It won't happen overnight but if the floating compression approach makes long term economic sense we could be seeing a very major bump up in commercial NG reserves. But my WAG is that it will take a minimum of 10 years to learn if this approach has the legs to go forward on a major scale.

A side note: the reporter also noted that US LNG imports took a big hit due to all the all the new NG reserves brought on by the shale gas plays. The SG reservoirs did add to our reserve bank. But the LNG export market to the US took a big hit for one reason: domestic NG prices falling from $10+/mcf to less than $4/mcf in just 6 months. And it was the drop off in demand that led to this change. SG development certainly helped knock some of the wind out of prices but obviously very little new NG could come to the market during that 6 month period. And the LNG imports market and SG drilling in the US will stay suppressed until NG rise significantly. And I offer no guess when that might happen. Thus I suspect RDS is targeting LNG exports with their new ship for the EU or Asia.

Just saw the rest of the story: RDS plans to use the ship to develop offshore Australian NG.

Pssst. There's a link up top.

Royal Dutch Shell will build a super-sized floating LNG compression vessel.

Errr, small quibble here. Natural gas is not liquefied by compressing it. It is liquefied by cooling it to -260 degrees F.

Liquefied natural gas

The liquefication process involves removal of certain components, such as dust, acid gases, helium, water, and heavy hydrocarbons, which could cause difficulty downstream. The natural gas is then condensed into a liquid at close to atmospheric pressure (maximum transport pressure set at around 25 kPa/3.6 psi) by cooling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F).

Ron P.

You cool by compressing... compress gas, gas heats up, remove heat, let gas expand, gas cools... repeat until done... look up the Linde process

This could become a chicken or egg argument here. You cool by compressing... compress gas, gas heats up,... A contradictory statement if there ever was one.

Of course the gas, during the process is always under pressure. The process happens in a "Train". That is a long row of coolers and compressors.

Natural gas, as a gas, is always under pressure until it is consumed. But the impression usually given is that natural gas is compressed until it becomes a liquid. This is simply not the case. And it is not under pressure when transported unless you consider 3.6 PSI as "under pressure". The release valves on the transport ships are set at this point. That is the boil-off pressure point.

The gas on the transport vessel always boils off. This boil-off is used as fuel to power the ship so it is not wasted, at least while under way.

Ron P.

Right, so saying it's a compressor is exactly as valid as saying it's a cooler, since it needs to do *both*.

yup- that's right. The gas_laws govern this >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_laws

Obviously a liquid is more compressed than a gas , given it is the same substance.

paal - Not jumping into the LNG discussion per se but just want to point out one of Mother Earth's curiosity. When we log a well we have electronic devices that distinguish between liquid hydrocarbons (oil) and gaseous phase hydrocarbons (NG). But an odd condition can occur: even at temperatures exceeding 250F if the reservoir pressure is high enough the NG will register as a liquid phase...not gaseous. I ran across this as a puppy geologist: my of analysis of an existing field indicated an oil reservoir but the production stream was NG with a big NGL yield. When I questioned the data my mentor just laughed and gave me a few references to read.

Just thought I would share. Another odd thing about producing NG: I can produce NG from a reservoir where temps could be well above 250F but I'll still need a big "heater treater" at the wellhead. As I reduce the NG pressure it gets so cold I have to burn some of the NG to run burners to heat the flow lines to keep them from freezing and completely stopping production. Still strikes me as odd to see pipes covered with frost while producing NG from a reservoir that above the boiling point of water. In the end Mother Earth makes the rules. We just tag along with her.

That's a beautiful example of the gas laws in process. The natural gas cools as it expands (PV~T), and the results can be quite dramatic as you point out here.

Thanks for this heads-up- but there is no mystery to your story.
Actually in this case it's better to refer to NG with it's real name, namely methane. NG could allure some to believe it's always in a gaseous state, which of course is not true - as you also point out.

Whatever you point out is in perfect harmony with the gas laws - it (ng/methane) stays liquid b/c of the high temps along with high pressures in a relatively tiny confined space (volume) - it simply can't expand to "go" gaseous in that enclosed environment, but when you drill a hole into the formation ... you create a new environment with a completely new and larger volume ... namely the volume of the pipe-structures and ultimately the whole universe... wow :-).

Whatever you point out is in perfect harmony with the gas laws

The meteorologists have a useful concept "Potential temperature", that is the temperature a given parcel of air would end up at if the pressure were changed adiabatically (no heat allowed in or out). The potential tempertuare (a one atmosphere pressure) of your NG is actually quite cold. Of course it can get confusing, the potential temperature of water or oil wouldn'y be so low, because they are nearly incompressable. So you can have two substances side by side at the same temperature that have dramatically diferent potential temperatures.

Natural gas (at least in the reservoir) can be considerably more complicated than just methane. You have ethane, propane, butane, and pentanes plus to deal with, plus trace amounts of hydrogen and helium, and lower valued components such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The characteristics of the mix can be quite strange.

One of the most baffling from a production standpoint is a retrograde gas-condensate reservoir. If you just produce the gas, you will reduce the pressure and cause the heavier fractions to condense to liquid inside the reservoir - which means you will lose them forever. You need to have a two-dimensional phase diagram of the gas to understand what is going on. The solution is to run a gas cycling project - produce the natural gas, strip off and sell the heavier fractions, and reinject the methane. This means you need a three-dimensional phase diagram with time on the third axis - a lot of fun to see on a graphics monitor. Eventually you will change the characteristics of the reservoir so that the heavier fractions will never condense regardless of pressure changes, and then you can produce the gas in a normal fashion.

I did some work on designing a computer system to monitor these things for a project in Kazakhstan. They had a retrograde gas condensate reservoir of truly epic proportions - billions of barrels of liquids which you wouldn't want to lose in the production process.

Rockman,You rock

From what I've learned on TOD natural gas does not respond to the Linde process. That is it will not go liquid at any pressure at normal temps.

I have wondered what would happen if a cup of LNG were placed in a cold, super strong sealed vessel. Would the pressure go to infinity as it warms, exploding anything trying to contain it?


If you are over 190 Kelvin and 46 atm, then you can't tell whether it's liquid or gas. There is no difference in density.

In your experiment, you would end up with a supercritical fluid. At some point you can't get to on earth, you could collapse the electron shells to make degenerate matter. Pressure will not go to infinity.

Re: Brazil

I covered Brazil's growing need to import LNG in a TOD post last December: South America Enters the LNG World.


"Maplecroft index identifies Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as world’s most water stressed countries
Key emerging economies and oil rich nations export water issues to ensure food security through African ‘land grab’"

"The Gulf nations of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are rated as the world’s most water stressed countries, with the least available water per capita, by a new ranking of 186 countries.

The Water Stress Index, released by risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft, pinpoints areas of water stress down to 10km² worldwide by calculating the ratio of domestic, industrial and agricultural water consumption, against renewable supplies of water from precipitation, rivers and groundwater. It has been developed for companies to identify risk of water interruptions to supply chains, operations and investments.

The index, which is accompanied by an interactive sub-national map, rates 17 countries as ‘extreme risk,’ with the Middle East and North African (MENA) nations of Bahrain (1), Qatar (2), Kuwait (3) Saudi Arabia (4) Libya (5), the disputed territory of Western Sahara (6), Yemen (7), Israel (8), Djibouti (9) and Jordan (10) topping the ranking.

Maplecroft’s research highlights current and future water availability as one of the foremost global challenges. The company states that the dual drivers of climate change and population growth will combine to squeeze water resources and affect the food security of governments across the world, regardless of how water secure they may be today."

Job creation limps along after recession

Nearly two years after the economic recovery officially began, job creation continues to stagger at the slowest post-recession rate since the Great Depression.

The nation has 5% fewer jobs today — a loss of 7 million — than it did when the recession began in December 2007. That is by far the worst performance of job generation following any of the dozen recessions since the 1930s.

Wow, that's really bad, considering that the working population has (theoretically) grown over the past three years.

Foreclosure flood may not have crested yet

If the national foreclosure crisis were a baseball game, we would be in about the top of the sixth. And we may have to go to extra innings.

Since the housing market peaked in 2006, some 6.5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure. There are likely another 4.3 million more homeowners who are “seriously delinquent,” meaning they are more than three months behind in their payments, according to data released by the Mortgage Bankers Association this week. Many of those homeowners will soon enter the foreclosure pipeline.

Though the pace of new foreclosures has fallen recently, that is largely the result of lenders choking on the torrent of paperwork created by the millions of foreclosures already in progress.

Not to mention continuing legal challenges to specific properties and the process in general.

A new peak in ARM resets coming the second and third quarter this year. Doesn't bode well....

More here:

Most of the resets are expected to occur through 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, the chart indicates that $253.25 billion of option ARMs will adjust, while Alt-A loans totaling $163.71 billion will reset over that time. Altogether, $1.010 trillion worth of ARMs will reset or recast during the three-year period.

Many folks just walk away when they see their new payment. Seems like payments should go down as rates have dropped, but that hasn't been the case for most. Banks need to recover their losses from short sales and forclosures.

How badly can ARMs reset, with rates so low?

Option ARMs are a real problem...but they were stupid to begin with.

We have a family friend who over-bought, and on a high-rate mortgage (despite our best counsel). Got behind of course, and into foreclosure. Ended up moving prior to eviction, but the bank is still hounding her AFTER they foreclosed, as nobody is buying the property. She probably would have been better just stopping payments, and seeing what happened.

Given that the gov't owns most mortgages, why don't they just reset all interest rates to 4%, move all ARMs and option-ARMs to fixed-15s, and put new rules on new mortgages? People like me would be ecstatic with lower rates on the mortgages we continue to pay. Those struggling would have it easier. Those with no hope of paying could then be foreclosed with less stress.

This notion of bailing out banks and helping the struggling simply shafts those who were prudent. May as well give every "little guy" a leg-up, I'd say.

Given that the gov't owns most mortgages

I don't think that the gov't owns most mortgages.

Fannie, Freddie, etc., primarily provides mortgage insurance. The mortgages themselves have been bundled into mortgage backed securities held by banks, non-bank financial institutions, pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, hedge funds, etc., etc.,

Plus, many of the troubled mortgages from the mid-00s were not guaranteed by Fannie, Freddie, etc., but were guaranteed by private mortgage insurers like AIG, MBIA, etc.,

Part of the problem with mortgage modification is determining who has to agree to a mortgage modification once the mortgage has been bundled into securities which then have been sliced and diced into various tranches held by multiple investors.

Given that the gov't owns most mortgages, why don't they just reset all interest rates to 4%, move all ARMs and option-ARMs to fixed-15s, and put new rules on new mortgages?

That's what my wife and I were wondering way back when this whole debacle got started. Someone told me that's what the UK did (reset all arms to fixed) - but not certain of that.

hounding her AFTER they foreclosed, as nobody is buying the property...shafts those who were prudent. May as well give every "little guy" a leg-up, I'd say.

I am seriously depressed today. The foreclosure mess continues to bite, and not just the banks and the previously-well-off.

When my health catastrophe happened, I tried to be prudent, and buy well within my means. So I found a large, newer mobile that had been trashed, and bought it outright, and fixed it up. But now the continuous lot rent increases are starting to hurt us.

By chance, I stumbled across a listing for a three-plus acre place out in the country. The previous occupants had been running a grow operation on it. It has a mobile on it, 12 years older than mine. Completely trashed, really bad, broken windows, the roof shot and so forth. Garbage all over the property, piles of old tires, broken glass everywhere, pieces of grow lights and hydroponic equipment scattered around.

So I thought, hey, I could swap out the mobilehomes, put my good one in, clean the place up. Even with the cost of moving a doublewide mobilehome, it still was an incredible opportunity. I could have had a four bedroom home on three acres in the country... for less than $60,000.

But can I get a loan? Noooooooooooo!

Cleaned up all nice, the property would be worth triple the amount. But nobody who has been through a health disaster has a good credit score. There are programs to help disabled buy a home, but they all have requirements that the property be perfect before they will finance. And hard money lenders want a minimum of 40% down, with horrendous interest and time frames designed to make the victim default. That's how "private lenders" make their profits, by only giving terms that ensure they are the ones who end up with the asset, not the client.

Before the mortgage meltdown mess, I could have done this. The payment would be less than I am paying for rent now! But now, it's impossible. It really hurts, to watch a chance like this disappear, just because five years ago several million idiots believed mortgage brokers who said they could refi their adjustable loan before it reset.


For what it's worth I feel for you.

That's the thing about finance, and why it was so heavily regulated during the Great Depression. Unregulated, finance will demand a pound of flesh from every living human on the planet.

I find it hard to convince people of this. They think I'm negative or pessimistic.

I've personally decided that America has turned into an insane asylum, and I'm going to act accordingly. Best of luck to you.

Unregulated, finance will demand a pound of flesh from every living human on the planet.

I find it hard to convince people of this. They think I'm negative or pessimistic.

They probably think you are a commie or a fascist, and want to report you to the committee on unamerican activities! We've turned our former strength into a debilitating ideological straightjacket.

As someone who has, so far, been a bit luckier in the wake of a health disaster (although my wife and I are still quite vulnerable, going forward), I feel your frustration and share your outrage at a system that treats innumerable outcomes of this sort as acceptable trade-offs for the benefit of the few.

My intellect tells me that we can do better than this. My learned-or-instinctive sense of fairness tells me that we should.

The frustration and anger that have been building over the decades leaves me feeling that, if we won't do better, it would be immensely satisfying to live long enough to see the whole thing blow up.

At least, on some days.

There were still 5-year ARM mortgages being written to poor underwriting standards in 2007. The tail end of these will come through the foreclosure system in 2013. However, the volume should be dropping from the end of 2011 on, because many of the mortgages had shorter reset periods and because many of the poorly underwritten mortgages have already gone into default.

See also graphs at http://www.newyorkfed.org/creditconditions/

Wow, that's really bad, considering that the working population has (theoretically) grown over the past three years.

Yes, the number that is usually bandied about is about 150,000 added jobs per month needed to keep up with growth in the workforce. So we've lost about seven million jobs, but the total number of unemployed persons is greater than 13 million.

The working population (ages 18-65) has indeed grown substantially over the past three years. I cannot put a number on it, because the number of illegal immigrants is unknown, but for a SWAG I'd put the increase in the neighborhood of 1% per year.

Illegal immigrants, of course, are part of the work force; that is why they come to the U.S.--to work.

More and more people are taking early retirement, and that tends to reduce the work force, but on the other hand, there are plenty of people turning 18 and 22 to increase the work force. The number of discouraged workers has definitely increased during the past three years.

For some good alternative numbers, look at John Williams's website, shadowstats.com.


I have been studying John William's website for some time. If what his numbers on CPI and GDP says are true it indicates that we have in fact been in recession (negative economic growth)most of the time since 2000. I am curious what someone with economics training (You) thinks about his presentation of economic numbers.

This interests me because so many readers on this site have been puzzled by why we are still growing economically with triple digit oil prices. But if you believe Williams GDP has in fact been consistently contracting for several years.

Would appreciate your insights.

I think John Williams is right. We're still in a stagflation recession. His numbers are gathered and compiled the way the U.S. government agencies did it some years ago.

In particular, I think his inflation numbers are correct--or at least as close to correctness as it is possible to get.

His M3 numbers are of some interest. So far as I know, nobody but John is doing M3 anymore. (In my opinion M2 is a better indicator of growth in the money supply than M3, but the more good numbers, the better.)

I have been tempted to subscribe to his service, but because he puts up so much information with no fee I have not felt a need to do so.

Interesting item that was linked on Drudge follows. I have noticed that along with most other people, I have been doing the "Supermarket Shuffle," where one shuffles along leaving the grocery store, looking at the checkout receipt, in stunned disbelief at what we just spent buying food.

Hedge Farm! The Doomsday Food Price Scenario Turning Hedgies into Survivalists

"A friend of mine is actually the largest owner of agricultural land in Uruguay," said the hedge fund manager. "He's a year older than I am. We're somewhere [around] the 15th-largest farmers in America right now." "We," as in, his hedge fund. It may seem a little odd that in 2011 anyone's thinking of putting money into assets that would have seemed attractive in 1911, but there's something in the air-namely, fear. The hedge fund manager and others like him envision a doomsday scenario catalyzed by a weak dollar, higher-than-you-think inflation and an uncertain political climate here and abroad.

The pattern began to emerge sometime in 2008. "The Hedge Fund Manager Who Bought a Farm," read the headline on one February 2008 Times of London piece detailing a British hedge fund manager's attempt to play off the rising prices of grains in order to usurp local farmland. . . . Kansas and Nebraska reported farmland prices 20 percent above the previous year's levels and are on pace to double values in four years. . . .

The rising cost of food can be seen even in New York's yuppiest enclaves, where prices are high to begin with. . . . Mario Batali's Del Posto is charging 21 percent more per meal since October. Gordon Ramsay at The London? Sixty-nine percent more since last month. Michelin favorite Bouley? Forty percent. The Breslin, at the Ace Hotel? Thirty-three percent. And so on. . . .

When asked if this is an end-of-the-world situation, the hedge fund manager replied: "It really is. I tell my fiancée this from time to time, and I've stopped telling her this, because it's not the most pleasant thought." He pauses for a moment. "We just can't keep living the way we're living. It'll end within our lifetime. We're just going to run out of certain things. We'll just have to learn how to adjust."

Part of my “ELP PLan” advice from four years ago:

I would especially recommend that you consider buying, perhaps with a joint venture group, a small farm, either currently organic, or that can be converted to an organic farm. In the short term, if nothing else you could lease it out to an organic farmer.


Gee, maybe we preppers won't be called doomers any more but rather "food hedgers." I, and many other people I know, buy in bulk and use "cuponing" to get deals and store the stuff.

In my case, we picked up 25# of gluten flour, 25# of wheat berries and a case of peanut butter earlier this week. It all goes into inventory.
Just remember to rotate your stock.


wt - And Mother Earth is doing her part to help the fund manager. NPR interviewed a Miss. farmer this morning who was looking forward to his most profitable season in at least 10 years. And then the flood came. He was looking out over his corn field covered with 3' of water.

I wonder if the "owner" of Uraguayan farmland has the boots on the ground to enforce his title.

Here's how they farmed in Argentina back during their troubles: you keep your rifle with you. Not a pistol, because they are less accurate and shorter range. You keep aware of the surroundings. You don't let strangers approach you unchallenged. This per an Argentinian's post. Sounds like real fun, huh?

Regarding "hedge funds":

Someone, one of the Pauls I think, suggested the other day that I spend most of my time producing our own food and energy. While that's not quite accurate, I do spend much of my time doing these things. For the most part, excepting firewood, the energy is produced and stored with little time spent on my part. We payed that forward, in time and money, years ago. Very little time maintaining/upgrading and monitoring energy production/useage here.

As far as food production and processing goes, besides being something I enjoy, the health and financial benefits are increasing with time. I've not calculated a net hourly rate or a ROI for my efforts (perhaps silly at this point), but the return seems high enough to be worth the investment (as I've posted before). Besides the obvious:

I'm paying no income or sales taxes, no added fees, on this "income".

If I can realize a modest income from the sale of my efforts (both produce and knowledge), minimal income tax will apply though my property taxes will drop significantly.

Time and money spent are decreasing as I get better at these things, refining my methods, even as the costs of food and energy are increasing.

These things allow us to continue to hold other jobs, and keep us busy not spending our time on unproductive, money and energy consuming activities. We have formed more social bonds with like minded folks, though we are getting fewer invites from the BAU crowd.

This lifestyle reduces day to day stress, and anxiety about the future. While we may be more "tied down" to our place than some would like, this seems to be the future anyway, for most folks.

So I agree that WT's recommendation should be considered. While we've seen stories about folks trying and abandoning the back-to-the-land meme, I would suggest that, as Nate has stated regarding the overall situation, it may be due to a "longage of expectations" in many cases. It's not for everyone; some folks feel (are) locked into certain lifestyles and incomes, refusing to consider that (as seems to be the consensus here) their lifestyles, incomes, food and energy security situation will change dramatically in the near to mid term. So what're you going to do about it?

Support your local growers this summer. Happy shopping :-)

Hi Ghung, yes, that was my suggestion. I'm glad to hear that you have plenty of time for other things too. If you were to use your time budget as proxy for money and GDP, it sounds like you have gotten it to the point where your energy is "cheap" in terms of time, mostly because of larger investment (of time and money) in your renewable energy economy early on.
What a concept - use the proceeds of your personal fossil fuel economy build out your renewable one - why hasn't any country thought of that?

But clearly, what government obviously must do is work out a way to tax you on your food production, sunshine received, air breathed etc etc.

I had read somewhere that governments were looking at how to tax all the farmers markets that are popping up everywhere like mushrooms. Our local farmers market is ahead of that game - it is held on Indian land and "operated" by the local band. Works very well, and great local food too.

Yeah, Paul, I keep waiting for a tax on rain :-/

Our local Saturday Market is held on town property, at the square, and they charge $5/day, or $25/year, so I suppose that's a tax. Adding sales tax, etc. would just drive the whole thing underground. Folks around here are already good at 'flying under the radar', so to speak. While real unemployment is surely higher than the U2 numbers, I know plenty of folks doing OK in the alternative/underground economy.

Since many of the 'real jobs' offer no benefits or insurance, pay is low, and taxes/FICA, etc. are taken out, many folks can't afford to work in the official economy, or feel it's not in their best interest to do so. Others, like me, work part time or have a family member with a job, keeping one foot in the formal economy but find other ways to meet many of their needs. Their lower reportable income also helps them qualify for social services and subsidies (EBT, healthcare, etc.) I expect to see more of this going forward.

When the whole system crashes, many will be uniquely qualified to survive, since for many, the crash came early.

I'm sure someone, somewhere, is working on a sun and rain tax.

One thing that makes your off the grid lifestyle a bit easier in Canada and Australia is the gov health care system, so you don't need to try to maintain a job just to get health care, though there may be other good reasons to do so.

I see a pretty good underground economy in my part of the world, and the part I don;t see - the grow ops - are really good and really underground! There is even one that is off grid with its own 50kW hydro system! Officially it is a fish hatchery, and they actually do do some small amount of fish to maintain legitimacy. But they are in a place that is water access only and just too far away for anyone to bother about - but making a small fortune!

I agree with your statement about hose for whom the crash came early, it is a lot easier when you can "crash" on your own terms, or at the very least, not at the same time as everyone else.
I didn;t really appreciate it at the time, but I think growing up on the farm was at least as valuable an education as what I got in school - you learn all about how to solve problems with what's at hand, not what what you might want to buy. We may yet re-learn that.

"What a concept - use the proceeds of your personal fossil fuel economy build out your renewable one - why hasn't any country thought of that?"

The Saudi's have... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42457058/ns/business-world_business/

I guess I should have said done that

Sure the Saudis are talking the game, but they haven't actually done anything yet.

Various countries are making incremental progress, but I can't think of one that is there yet. Some are close with electricity, where they have lots of hydropower, nuke etc, but no one has done it for transport. And even if they could, the Saudis are certainly *not* going to show the world how to do transport without oil.

Behind a paywall, but viewable via Google...

Prince Alwaleed Says GM 'Not A Long-Term Holding'-CNBC

Meanwhile, rising oil prices are a concern, he said, because they equate to a tax on U.S. consumers that might dampen the economy. The current $99.05 price for a barrel of crude oil is still too high and reflects panic, particularly concerns around the political unrest in Libya.

Saudi Arabia would like to see the price fall to between $70 and $80, he said. But talk about "peak oil [supply] is a myth, and rumors that "oil wells are tired are not true at all," Prince Alwaleed said. Had Saudi Arabia had not interfered in the oil market, the price of oil might have reached $150, he said. Saudi Arabia "is the central bank in the oil industry."

He also sought to dispel any concerns about the security of Saudi oil fields.

Prince Alwaleed is a member of the Saudi royal family, and said attempts to challenge the government's rule there have so far failed because King Abdullah managed to reach a social contract with the Saudi people that includes unemployment benefits, a minimum wage and government housing.

Yeah, the world owes its gratitude to KSA for putting Saudi Special Blend on the market. It would have been even better if refiners had wanted it, but it's sort of like getting a picture of a flower in February.

And I thought my parents were bad when I was a teen...

Kids hope to attend party — but parents say world's going to end

The Haddad children of Middletown, Md., have a lot on their minds: school projects, SATs, weekend parties. And parents who believe the earth will begin to self-destruct on Saturday.

I'm not sure what I'd do if I believed the world was about to end. But I don't think I'd spend it watching TV.

Gary Daniels, 27, said he planned to spend Saturday like other believers, “glued to our TV sets, waiting for the Resurrection and earthquake from nation to nation.”

And I suppose this must be what we peak oilers look like to our families:

But his family has come around to respect — if not endorse — his views, and he drove from his home in Newark, Del., on Monday night in a van covered in Judgment Day messages to say goodbye to relatives in Brooklyn. “I know I’m not going to see them again, but they are very certain they are going to see me, and that’s where I feel so sad,” he said. “I weep to know that they don’t have any idea that this overwhelming thing is coming right at them, pummeling toward them like a meteor.”

If there are no Drumbeat updates after Saturday, I guess we will have to conclude that, despite Leanan's opinions, she was carried away during the Rapture.

Sure hope TOD will be publishing during the apocalypse. Well, at least I won't have to worry about my spouse. Think I'll go out and get a couple dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and a couple of cases of beer.

It's not to late to go to NetFlix and rent '2012' if they want to watch earthquakes and tidal waves.

I can't wait to hear the excuses on sunday.

If it's anything like last time i'm betting that god decided to spare them (I can't help thinking heaven must be really boring or something) at the last minute because everyone prayed so hard.

i'm betting that god decided to spare them

Wasn't is supposed to be a great honour and wonderful thing to be raptured away? I'm guessing it is something like, construction delays on the cloud nine project have forced a delay.....

I'm going to miss Chik-fil-a though.

I recall seeing a survey where people were asked what would you do if you knew for certain that a large asteroid would strike the earth in 10 years and kill us all. One woman said "I think I would try to have a baby". People are so screwed up.

Maybe she was more interested in the trying than in the having? ;-)

I dunno - If I really thought all the fundies were going to disappear in a brilliant flash, I might actually want to turn on the TV to watch it. Opportunities like that don't come along all that often.

I'm sorry, but these people who believe this are just flat out idiots.

I know folks that believe this stuff who are far from idiots. Not sure what it is,, some kind of 'believer gene' maybe, that most here lack.

I know plenty of fundamentalist people who believe devoutly, but not this. Faith is not blind faith -- it is carefully and consistently tuned. I have a sliver myself, and the fact that my spouse and children apparently have a larger helping does not much bother me. Really, they seem the happier and better adjusted for it, in the society in which we exist at least. I am forever half-in/half-out, able to exist readily in either but not quite considering myself a member.

Personally, I consider the "faith" continuum in much the same way I see sex drive -- an inseparable part of the human condition. Most human characteristics appear to span a continuum, and those at the extremes rise or fall spectacularly. I'd say life goes pretty well for those anywhere near the middle.

Here in Nevada it is almost 1:30PM. It is already May 21, a few hours west of here. Anyone got any news or does rapture only start with EDST.

I believe he gave a specific time of 6pm Pacific Time.

He also said he himself might not be one of the raptured. Only 3% of population is righteous, so it's possible we won't even miss the ones who are taken.

I would be happy as a clam if the religiously righteous were raptured away. So long, good riddance.

I liked the guy the Christian Science monitor reported on, he sold rapture pet insurance, if you are raptured away, he will take care of your "left-behind" pets. He gloats that his clients will be doubly dissappointed when they wake up Sunday. First cause it didn't happen. Then secondly because he won't give refunds!

And would be heard on the CBC: "The world ends at midnight... Twelve-thirty in Newfoundland".


Hey, I must have got raptured because I already live in heaven. As long as the Canucks whup the evil-doers Sharks on Sunday we'll be just fine.


US military goes to war with climate sceptics

A recent report, "A National Strategic Narrative" (pdf), written by two special assistants to chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Mike Mullen, argued, "We must recognise that security means more than defence." Part of this entails pressing past "a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (sustainability)". They went on to assert climate change is "already shaping a 'new normal' in our strategic environment"

...So, why this quiet camaraderie between scientists and military higher-ups? The answer, most certainly, is uncertainty.

Uncertainty is an inherent element of honest science. But in the political sphere, uncertainty has been harnessed as an alibi for denial and inaction. The military, however, operates under conditions of uncertainty all the time. Like scientists, they wade through the unknown to assess varying degrees of risk. As CNA Corporation put it, military leaders "don't see the range of possibilities as justification for inaction. Risk is at the heart of their job."

Stink bug spread worries growers across nation

An insect with a voracious appetite, and a taste for everything from apples to lima beans has caused millions of dollars in crop damage and may just be getting started.

...This spring, stink bugs have been seen in 33 states, including every one east of the Mississippi River and as far west as California, Oregon and Washington.

"All that we do know for certain is that a tremendously large population went into overwintering in fall 2010. So, if they survived, there could be a very large population emerging in the spring," said Tracy Leskey, a research entomologist at the U.S. Agriculture Department's Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville W.Va.

This could really throw a monkeywrench into sustainable agriculture down the road.

I dearly hope they bring over the wasp that preys on them. I look around and my world is already filled with invasive species of plants and animals - even if the wasp does have negative consequences (likely), it's still better than having a new creature with no competition at all. And besides, it's better than pouring on poisons.

It reminds me of the old lady who swallowed a fly:

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don't know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat...
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog...
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat...
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die.


I think it's more likely the wasp will find something else to eat, something we don't like. Then we'll get some toads to eat the wasps... too eat the bugs... and so on. It's not a good idea. The answer to invasive species is not more invasive species. Once we lose control of foreign species, we never get it back and for better or worse the foreign species is here to stay.

See the humble cane toad:


274 likes, 10 dislikes. I was one of the dislikes.

Rand Paul says taxes are just a cost of doing business which businesses add on to prices.

So what happens when businesses are subsidized? According to that theory, the business subtracts the subsidy income from the price to be fair to customers.

Sen. Paul is seriously delusional.

I receive farm subsidies through the farm program. No way do I cut my price for corn. I try to get the highest price I can for corn anyway.

I'm pretty sure oil companies are no different.

Oil companies are price takers just like farmers. Cutting oil subsidies (i.e. raising taxes) will have no effect on the price of oil as it is set in an international market just like corn.

Anybody named after Ayn Rand is going to have serious problems

Subsidies to corn growers tend to increase the amount of corn produced. If the aomount of corn produced increases, other things staying the same, the price of corn will fall.

IMO U.S. farm subsidies are a work of genius: Most years we get farm surpluses of subsidized crops. Good! Which would you rather have, surpluses of food or shortages of food? We can always export excessive surpluses of farm goods--or turn corn into ethanol or turn soybeans into biodiesel.

Hence, I say THREE CHEERS for U.S. farm subsidies. They tend to hold market prices down in the long run while they encourage greater production of grains, soybeans, peanuts, and other subsidized farm commodities.

Unfortunately, we also subsidize certain commodities, like corn. Further, cheap corn has led to a lot of very unhealthy junk food including high fructose corn syrup which turns up in virtually all products which causes obesity, diabetes, heart problems, and cancer. People focus on the cheap junk foods and avoid the more expensive fruits and vegetables. This, in turn, raises the cost of health care. Health care costs have been increasing much faster than the CPI for decades. It may be that all the negative consequences of our cheap junk food policy cancel out the supposed advantages of cheap food. Besides, health is wealth and a lot more important that keeping crap food cheap.

Everyone talks about health care costs in the context of how we pay for it as if that is the only problem we need to deal with. The underlying problems that actually drive the costs of health care are neglected.

And then there are the knock on effects to countries like Mexico which has helped wreck their corn based economy with our cheap exports.

Hence, I say THREE CHEERS for U.S. farm subsidies. They tend to hold market prices down in the long run while they encourage greater production of grains, soybeans, peanuts, and other subsidized farm commodities.

Don, I gotta take you to task for this statement. It is bad enough that we are essentially 'mining the topsoil' of US farmlands, but pouring on the accelerant of farm subsidies will just cause us to mine these topsoils that much faster; not to mention the additional use of fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, much of which ends up in the Gulf of Mexico dead zones.

Note that some farm subsidy programs (e.g. the Soil Bank program) actually promote soil quality. I do not think that farm subsidies have added to soil erosion and the mining of topsoil; I think these things would have happened at about the same rate without subsidies. Note that subsidies such as corn allotments force farmers to produce LESS corn than they would without these allotments.

x - "No way do I cut my price for corn." Curious: so if the corn buyers don't pay your price you just let your corn rot in the field? I don't think that's what you meant. As an oil/NG producer I'm in the same boat: I accept the prices my buyers offer or I shut my wells in and lose the cash flow. It's very rare for any operator to take that option. Ussually the other way around: we'll do whatever we can to increase production rates in the face of falling prices.

Folks need to seperate the two different types of tax breaks the oil patch gets. One set (like the Intangiable Drilling Cost deduction) allows us to drill wells that wouldn't be economic to drill otherwise. The other set just adds to the net income...just like most tax deductions all corporations get...and homeowners.

Process could improve economics of ethanol production

What van Leeuwen and a team of Iowa State researchers are producing is a fungus, Rhizopus oligosporus, that makes a high-quality, high-protein animal feed from the leftovers of ethanol production. The process of growing the fungus also cleans water from ethanol production so that it can be recycled back into fuel production. And the process, called MycoMeal, could one day produce a low-cost nutritional supplement for people.

...Van Leeuwen said the production technology can save United States ethanol producers up to $800 million a year in energy costs. He also said the technology can produce ethanol co-products worth another $800 million or more per year, depending on how it is used and marketed.

...They're feeding some of the fungus to chickens and will soon start feeding tests with hogs. A next step could be testing the fungus for human consumption. (University leaders have tried the fungi and researchers regularly eat it, van Leeuwen said.)

Due to its enormous popularity, Soylent Green is in short supply, so remember—Tuesday is Soylent Green day.

Breaking rules makes you seem powerful

People with power have a very different experience of the world than people without it. The powerful have fewer rules to follow, and they live in environments of money, knowledge and support. People without power live with threats of punishment and firm limits according to the research team lead by Gerben Van Kleef of the University of Amsterdam. Because the powerful are freer to break the rules—does breaking the rules seem more powerful?

..."Norm violators are perceived as having the capacity to act as they please" write the researchers. Power may be corrupting, but showing the outward signs of corruption makes people think you're powerful.


May explain the over-representation of sociopaths in powerful positions.

Also may help explain the behavior of the IMF dude.

I recently started reading Political Ponerology (subtitled: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes)by Andrzej Lobaczewski. A somewhat difficult read, as it wasn't necessarily written for the layman, and in fact the original wasn't even in english (so some words and phrases don't always translate well). Despite that I find it fascinating and enlightening, and also more than a bit depressing. Supposedly the editors are working on a "simplified" version if you will for the layperson.

"Ponerology" is a term borrowed by the author from Medieval theological studies - literally the "study of evil". The author was a psychiatrist in Poland during the communist years. He and his colleagues noted the behaviors of the "leaders," including the leaders at their school and professional level, changes in some of their friends and colleagues, and began to study the effects.

The study cited above by Seraph, which I glanced over, seems to confirm what Lobaczewski observed, that a society can be changed by the behavoir of psychopaths, such that their behavior becomes acceptable to most of the population - after all such people are "results getters". I noticed that the study even begins with the famous quote from Lord Acton "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Lobaczewski also references that quote but restates it, based on his observations, simply as "power attracts corrupt individuals." Lobaczewski would call what is going on in the study the "ponerization" of society - when psychopathic behavoir becomes the norm and is supported by even those who are not clinical ("essential" in the authors terminology) psychopaths.

Today I came across this article: Do Psychopaths Misrule Our World? at Truthdig.com. The author of that piece, Greg Guma, following along the same lines, talks about the book The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson, in which Ronson relates a meeting with business executive Al Dunlop, known for his ruthless glee when firing people. Ronson went over with Dunlop the criteria in Dr. Bob Hare's Psychopathy Checklist (The "PCL-R"), which is used clinically. Dunlop simply redefined the traits which are evaluated by the checklist as the aspects of leadership.

I add this comment merely for more information for those interested, but let me leave you with something I saw two weeks ago Saturday.

I was exiting my grocery store (and going through the "Supermarket Shuffle" WT describes above) when right outside I see an SUV with the following message custom lettered across the entire rear window (letters so big it took two lines):


(I might also add that the vehicle was parked askew the actual parking spaces, taking up part of a second one...)

A morbid sense of curiosity led me to linger at my car a few moments, wondering if I might catch a glimpse of this person, as I also thought back to those who I had seen inside the store - could I have laid eyes on this person? If they saw me, what did they think? Am I simply an "obstacle" to be eliminated at the right time? What is the "triggering event" when the family is deemed to be "threatened?"

I guess the question is: is this person a psychopath or the result of a psychopathic society, where such displays are simply accepted as normal?

Fascinating. Sadly, not surprising, of course.

I guess the question is: is this person a psychopath or the result of a psychopathic society, where such displays are simply accepted as normal?

Additional question: Is there a meaningful difference?

Technically the second type is treatable. Given what I took as the "icing on the cake" F-You statement of taking two parking spaces, well I am tending toward the first case. But I'm not a professional of course :)

Psychopaths are not only not curable and not treatable, at least one study appears to show that psychopaths who receive certain kinds of psychotherapy may actually improve their skills at manipulating others by gaining insights into what makes other people tick, as well as how to better feign emotions, empathy, etc.


Ran across an article Psychologist adds scientific insight to loaded label of 'psychopath' which suggests that psychopathic behaviors is more hardwired.

...Scientists estimate that 15-25 percent of men and 7-15 percent of women in U.S. prisons display psychopathic behaviors. The condition, however, is hardly restricted to the prison system. Newman estimates that up to 1 percent of the general population could be described as psychopathic. Surprisingly, many who fall into that bracket might lead perfectly conventional lives as doctors, scientists and company CEOs

He believes that psychopathy is essentially a type of learning disability or "informational processing deficit" that makes individuals oblivious to the implications of their actions when focused on tasks that promise instant reward. Being focused on a short-term goal, Newman suggests, makes psychopathic individuals incapable of detecting surrounding cues such as another person's discomfort or fear.

So who are psychopaths? Broadly speaking, they are people who use manipulation, violence and intimidation to control others and satisfy selfish needs. They can be intelligent and highly charismatic, but display a chronic inability to feel guilt, remorse or anxiety about any of their actions

Which does sound alot like some CEOs and Heads of State

To add to your reading list:


The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder. Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination

When you understand the true nature of psychopathic influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless — they literally have no conscience..

Quite possibly it is metastasizing


Whether the corollary to these modern practices or the result of other forces, research shows the health and well being of American children is worse than it was 50 years ago: there's an epidemic of anxiety and depression among the young; aggressive behavior and delinquency rates in young children are rising; and empathy, the backbone of compassionate, moral behavior, has been shown to be decreasing among college students.
"All of these issues are of concern to me as a researcher of moral development," Narvaez says. "Kids who don't get the emotional nurturing they need in early life tend to be more self-centered

I blame television for most of the erosion in our moral and political values over the past fifty years. Long bouts of TV viewing have horrendously bad effects on children. Violent computer games do not help either, but based on comparisons of cultures with and without TV, television seems to be the big independent variable. There is a fair amount of good sociological research on this topic, plus a couple of popular books: "The Plug-in Drug" and "Four Arguments Against Television."

Of course there have been many other independent variables affecting both values and behavior (e.g. increasing suburbanization, decline of cities), but IMO TV is the single most important factor to explain the undesirable effects, not only in U.S. society but everywhere TV is widely available. If I were Emperor Don the First of the U.S. I would ban television and have public stonings where people could through rocks at TV sets.

I have clear memories when radio, movies, and magazines and newspapers were the mass media. It was a very different society in the nineteen forties compared to what we have now. To use the vocabulary of Pitirim Sorokin, the famous sociologist, our culture has been growing more and more sensate during the past sixty years. My guess is that we have gone as far as we can go in this direction, and probably something will happen (Peak Oil and declining oil imports?) to change away from our extremely sensate culture.

Arraya - Your comments remind me of an observation regarding survivors of the N. Korea famine during the 90's. Only the toughest survived. Lying, stealing, and lack of empathy were survival skills.

Those survival skills were probably benificial during other bottlenecks that our species has gone through.

A gene is usually not conserved in a species unless it bestows a benefit. It's probably served a purpose for 10,000 years; now it's a pathology.

Edit: From: http://www.physorg.com/news200227486.html

...Although psychopathy is considered abnormal, these traits may be useful in certain circumstances,

"For example, these folks tend to have less anxiety and are less prone to depression," she said, qualities that might be useful in dangerous or unstable environments. In most cases, their cognitive abilities are also intact

Possibly it requires a wide variety of psychological types for a society to have suceeded and survived over time in the face of many challenges. Psychopaths, for example, may play a vital role in enabling the society to fend off attacks by its neighbors, or conversely, to attack and eliminate competing societies.

Consider also that the US likely has a larger than normal percentage of psychopaths in its population since the British Isles used it as a penal colony prior to independence. And beyond that, the country was settled by a variety of adventurers and misfits that were not suceeding elsewhere. One suspects that the African chiefs did not sell their most valued citizens to the slave traders on the coast, and the better part of the cargo would have been sold in South and Central America.

It's an aspect that's always confused me. America received twice the number of transported convicts that Australia received. Yet, whereas in Australia people proudly remark on their convict ancestors, in the US they seem only to ever trace back their lineage to the 'founding fathers' or similar.

Either those convicts disappeared from history, or it says something significant about people massaging their history in the US.

Funny how they don't even mention the penal immigration here in the U.S., I never heard about it in school. Only mention it when teaching about the discovery and founding of Australia. All arrivals to North America were hard working settlers, or those "fleeing oppression and tyrany." ;-)

Lobaczewski does mention the likely higher percentage of psychopaths in the population in both the U.S. and Australia due to both the penal immigration and because a "land of opportunity" is precisely what a psychopath would seek.

You might ask 'who were the psychopaths, the prisoners or the jailors?' I don't think the answer is very clear.

You never heard of indentured servants and such? Common knowledge, I thought.

Australia people proudly remark on their convict ancestors

That's only a recent thing because at one time you could really hit a nerve if you even so mentioned convicts in the same breath as ancestry in Australia!

It's still used as a taunt in sports - especially by the English in cricket.

The Barmy Army tend to use the Australian performance on the pitch to taunt Ozzie fans at the moment.

And it's been a long enough time coming too!

Well, we gotta let you guys have a few wins every now and then, otherwise you will take your bat and ball and go home!

It's bad enough that when we "have" the Ashes, we don't actually have them.

Btw, there is a First Fleet ancestor in my family history, but was a free settler, which is not as sexy as a convict.

Given that, in those days, stealing a joint of beef or even a loaf of bread would get you seven years transportation, not all convicts would have been psychopaths.

In fact, if stealing a loaf of bread today got you an all expenses paid trip from Blighty to Oz, I think the store shelves would be bare!

In fact, if stealing a loaf of bread today got you an all expenses paid trip from Blighty to Oz, I think the store shelves would be bare!

Where do I sign?...

I often wonder if the genetic makeup of the US fuels its hefty prison population, unusual work ethic, innovativeness, strong religious beliefs, risk-taking, and athletics. Has the US selected for edgy traits, and that propels us in good times and makes us overstretch? And makes us dangerous and determined during bad times?

It's not politically correct, but I wonder if the selection process of slavery didn't filter the genetic base for Africans who survived as slaves, too.

Probably. Yanks' strong religiosity comes off as somewhat scary for many Europeans, especially, perhaps, for us Swedes. It turns out religiosity is hereditary, especially the born-again kind.

Since about a third of the Swedish population left and many belonged to devout christian groups that didn't get along with a repressive state religion, I guess the emigration was large enough to significantly alter the average genetic makeup of those who stayed.

Yes, now we are getting somewhere!

The problems in our society are systemic and profound. It goes way beyond peak oil or energy - though of course they are all interrelated.

Peak oil should in theory be somewhat corrective. It will force people to adopt simpler lifestyles, to save, to get along with others. I'm convinced this will ultimately happen.

But you have to get through the bottleneck. That's the key. Otherwise, the psychopaths that we speak of - who in the end will probably kill each other off - will simply wipe you out. They will come to your doomstead with guns or cases full of money and just threaten you, kill you, or buy you out.

It's like being in Europe in 1914. Sure, times are good now, and they'll be good again in 50 years, but do you really want to stick around in the meantime?


What makes you think times will be good fifty years hence? IMO, John Michael Greer got it right in his book, "The Long Descent."

Oilman -

In my more optimistic moments I like to consider what Orlov said (and I would assume witnessed to some extent) about essentially staying under the radar and letting the plentiful people who are just itching for a fight have a go at each other. To paraphrase Orlov as he succintly put it in that interview for the Nation series "they'll probably just end up killing each other off.." My optimism is derived from the fact that a large number of men I've interacted with in this country appear to be so continually "amped up" and actively seeking confrontation that I don't think it would take much time for a large number of the baddest of the bad actors to off each other in the current displays of "manhood" carried to their ultimate conclusion.

If - and of course it is a very big IF - one could manage to "stay low" while this plays out (while also strengthening your community alliances) it just may be possible to ride out the most immediate threat and get down to working on true long term adaptations for continued survival. If on the other hand you're so undisciplined and delusional to think that you're extra bad and you seek out that kind of stuff - well, you might have your share of victories - but all it takes is one defeat...

Arraya - Your quote

...When you understand the true nature of psychopathic influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards...

It struck me that, in many ways, this is a definition of the 'corporate' entity or personhood - modeled on what society would consider psychopathic qualities.



Gives new meaning to the phrase - "It's not personal - It's business"

Thankfully. We need corporations to act in a rational and efficient manner.

That slogan should be amended to "I AM wiping out the entire planet to protect my family"

"I AM wiping out the entire planet to protect my family"

And insuring my family's demise in the process.

I think I'll have this bumper sticker made for shock or discussion value. You know they would sell!


Makes one wonder if there is a missing Hitchhiker's Guide book.

You can do mugs & T-shirts, too:

Cafe Press

Plenty of folks here can help with graphics. Just ask.

Maybe give TOD a cut of the vast profits.

Power plants vulnerable to hackers: security firm

US computer security research firm NSS Labs warned that it uncovered new ways that hackers could sabotage power plants, oil refineries or manufacturing operations.

"This is a global problem," NSS chief executive Rick Moy told AFP. "There are no fixes to this right now," he continued. "Bad guys would be able to cause real environmental and physical problems and possibly loss of life."

...NSS researcher Dillon Beresford reported finding "multiple vulnerabilities" in Siemens programmable logic controllers (PLCs) used in plants worldwide to automatically regulate temperatures, pressures, turbine speeds, robot arms and more. Those are the same devices targeted by a Stuxnet virus evidently crafted to disable an Iranian nuclear facility.

Another example of 'blowback'

I think technically this would be "friendly fire" rather than blowback. It is not the "enemy" that is inflicting this harm on us.

I stand corrected. Thank you.

If you put your PLC on the internet, you get what you deserve. You would need an insider to manually install the virus, like in Terminator 3.

Mark Fiore's Oil Anthem:


Philippines looks for other fuel sources

The rising price of oil has led the Philippines to look for alternative fuel sources.

The country is only 10 per cent dependent on oil for generating electricity, but almost totally reliant on petrol and diesel for transport.

Now the government is pushing to change that.

Spain government rethinks ban as youth protests grow

(Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Spaniards angry over joblessness protested for a sixth day on Friday in cities all over the country, and the government looked unlikely to enforce a ban on the demonstrations, fearing clashes.

Dubbed "los indignados" (the indignant), tens of thousands of protesters have filled the main squares of Spain's cities for six days, in a wave of outrage over economic stagnation and government austerity marking a shift after years of patience.

¡Apúrese, indignados!

So that's the Middle East, Northern Africa, Greece, China and now Spain having widespread protests. US real estate in the tank, higher fuel costs (due to higher oil prices) stifling the so-called recovery in the OECD countries, real estate tanking in China, the EIA telling OPEC to increase oil production to bring down prices and Obama opening up part of Alaska to more drill baby drill. What does that spell P-E-A-K O-I-L!

It just sort of dawned me today, that all the related ideas pertaining to peak oil are echoed in many of the articles posted today. All the asundry bi-products expected from higher priced fuel are evident in those articles. Oh my, don't we hate being right about this one!

I never wanted to be right about this. Until I realized that nothing less would stop us from killing everything.

I never wanted to be right about this. Until I realized that nothing less would stop us from killing everything.

I'm of the same opinion. However, it still seems like a conundrum trying to figure out how humankind reduces in numbers by a sizable percentage without causing the extinction of most large species.

But Bernanke assures us that he will do everything to make the Dow rise forever, and that this will result in a wealth effect!

Obama assures us that Osama is gone, but we still need to be vigilant, so we will be fighting, and defeating, terrorists, forever!

Trust in your leaders. They have everything under control and have your best interests at heart.

UN Secretary-General launches system-wide study of effects of nuclear accident in Japan

The United Nations will undertake a systemwide study on the implications of the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday.

Several agencies will prepare a report addressing the effects of nuclear safety in areas including environment, health and food security. It is to be presented at a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security on Sept. 22 during the General Assembly in New York.

We really need more like Cable here in the UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13480971

Speaking about the state of the economy, Mr Cable said: "It is a challenge to us to communicate it better. I don't think it is understood that the British economy declined 6 or 7%...

"We are actually a poorer country, mainly because of the banking crash, the recession that followed it and partly due to the squeeze we are now under from the changing balance of the world economy.


"We had the complete collapse of a model based on consumer spending, a housing bubble, an overweight banking system - three banks, each of them with a balance sheet larger than the British economy.

"It was a disaster waiting to happen and it did happen. It has done profound damage and it is damage that is going to last a long time."