Drumbeat: June 8, 2011

The world gets back to burning

NOT since 1973 has world energy use increased by as much, in percentage terms, as it did in 2010. According to BP’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy, published today, 2010’s energy consumption was up by 5.6% on the year before. In part this is thanks to recovery from the economic crisis; in part it is down to the longer-term shift in economic activity towards emerging economies, which are less efficient in their energy use.

Robust growth was seen in all regions and in almost all types of energy use: the world consumed more of every main fuel bar one than it had in any previous year. Consumption of oil, which accounts for 34% of the world’s primary energy by BP’s calculations, rose by 3.1%. Coal, at 30% the number two fuel, was up by 7.6%, growing faster than at any time since 2003. Consumption of gas, which contributes 24%, was up by 7.4%, the biggest annual growth since 1984.

U.S. recovery, rest in peace

The recovery is over.

So says UCLA economist Ed Leamer. He notes that May brought the first year-over-year decline in the Pulse of Commerce Index of domestic diesel fuel use since the end of 2009 – the latest yellow flag to be raised over the sputtering U.S. economy.

Aramco Speeds Up Manifa Oil Field Project to Feed Refineries

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, is accelerating by a decade plans to boost production capacity at its Manifa oil field development to pump the heavy crude needed to feed three planned refineries.

Analysis: Manifa project being fast-tracked. Why?

The Safaniya project is in many ways part of Saudi Aramco's ongoing efforts to maintain production capacity and manage decline, but its first phase gives a somewhat fast-tracked appearance, indicating that much of its decline compensation work might come from this field—and a host of other ongoing projects—further underlining the shift of Manifa from compensatory development to a capacity raiser.

Petrobras To Produce 6 Million Barrels A Day Of Oil By 2020 - CEO

RIO DE JANEIRO -(Dow Jones)- Brazilian federal oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA expects to nearly triple crude oil production this decade as it develops recently discovered offshore oil fields, Chief Executive Jose Sergio Gabrielli said Wednesday.

OPEC Meeting in Shambles as Iran and Venezuela Push Their Agendas

Saudi Arabia’s more-or-less stable hand guiding OPEC was yanked from the tiller at the oil producers’ meeting today in Vienna.

Markey says US must prepare oil reserve after OPEC

(Reuters) - U.S. Representative Edward Markey, a key Democrat, said the United States must prepare to use national emergency oil reserves after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided on Wednesday to not boost crude production.

Who has time to worry about OPEC?

We are getting a jump in oil prices this morning after OPEC's announced decision to punt on Saudi's proposed increase in production, and keep output where it is. Traders are engaging in opportunistic buying. This should last for a day or two until the reality of an oil glut settles in again, along with the multitude of other factors influencing prices.

Oil’s not well: are we reaching the breaking point in the sector?

Something’s gotta give during this week’s OPEC meeting as GCC favours increased production even as global demand falters. Could this stalemate be causing the absence of petrol in the UAE?

Gaddafi sells oil on black market - defecting minister

GENEVA (Reuters) - Libya's defecting labour minister was reported on Wednesday as saying the Libyan government is selling oil on the black market as Muammar Gaddafi struggles to hold onto power.

Facts take a hit in debate over Keystone pipeline

As the deadline for comment to the U.S. State Department on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline loomed, prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben and NASA climate scientist James Hansen each voiced calls for the Obama Administration to turn down TransCanada’s request for approval to build the pipeline. As has become the norm, their objections were supported by over-estimates of the greenhouse gas implications of oil sands development.

A note on Hubbert’s hypotheses and techniques

This note aims at exploring the scientific foundations and therefore the scope of validity of these forecasting techniques. Looking at the basic assumptions of Hubbert’s thesis, it concludes that these techniques should not be used to forecast neither the peak (or plateau) of the annual production rate, nor the ultimate reserves of any mineral, unless given exceptional conditions.

ASPO-USA asks: “What are we missing?” - Part 3

Even land-locked oil prices like West Texas Intermediate barely dipped below $100 per barrel. And Brent, the world oil price, never made it below the triple digit price threshold.

How the goals posts have moved. Five years ago, those prices would have been all time highs. Last week, they generated headlines of plunging oil prices.

What hasn’t changed however is the intrinsic relationship between oil and economic growth. Ratchet down expectations for economic growth and quite naturally you lower expectations for future oil prices.

But that’s only because without burning more oil, there is no economic growth.”

Slowing down for resilience

According to the Slow Living Summit’s website, the goal of the summit was for participants to engage in “an intensive exploration of ways to build healthy, thriving local economies while encouraging, mentoring and supporting a new generation of activists, entrepreneurs and engaged citizens.”

Jeff Rubin - Forget OPEC: Russia is key

OPEC production remains well below its level prior to the Libyan civil war, and what ever modest increase its kingpin producer, Saudi Arabia, can muster will be more than consumed by that country’s own soaring demand for power from air conditioners in the approaching peak power summer season.

...Russia, the one country actually capable of producing 10 million barrels a day, isn’t even at the table at the OPEC meeting. And it’s been Russia that has been adding the most to world exports over the better part of the last decade as OPEC exports have faltered.

OPEC inching toward deal to raise oil output

VIENNA (Reuters) – OPEC producers worked at a deal on Wednesday to raise oil supplies for the first time in four years to support the fragile world economy.

Under pressure from consumer countries to contain fuel inflation, Saudi Arabia hopes to convince the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to lift production by as much as 1.5 million barrels a day, Gulf delegates said.

OPEC unexpectedly decides to keep output unchanged

VIENNA — OPEC says it has decided to maintain output levels, with the option of meeting within the next three months for a possible production hike.

The decision is unexpected and reflects unusual tensions in an organization that usually works by consensus.

OPEC's Oil Production Game: What to Watch Out For

With the stupendous economic growth in Asia showing little sign of abating, who is going to supply us with the extra fuel we need? Who is the swing producer? Who has the largest global reserves? Yep, you guessed it. Saudi Arabia is holding a full house.

Libyan delegate arrives at Opec meeting

The arrival of Libya's Opec delegate adds uncertainty into the group's already difficult negotiations.

Iraq is willing to jump over $100 psychological barrie

VIENNA // Consumers baulk at oil prices above the psychological barrier of US$100 a barrel, and the world's top crude exporter, Saudi Arabia, declares its ideal price lies below that. Not so Iraq.

Between $100 and $120 is just dandy, according to the country's oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby. It is easy to see why, given the $7 billion (Dh25.71bn) Iraq says it took in from oil exports last month alone. "The current price is not too high," he said. "There are many economists worldwide who suggest that the current level does not hurt the world economy."

Motorists face charges in Belarus following protest against high gas prices

MINSK, Belarus - Belarus has begun fining people who took part in a protest against rising gasoline prices that paralyzed traffic in the capital.

Thousands of motorists took part in Tuesday's action, and some parked in the middle of Minsk's main avenue.

Oil price soars after OPEC talks yield no agreement

The price of oil soared almost $2 to near $101 a barrel Wednesday after OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna came to no consensus on a decision about oil policy.

OPEC talks broke down without an agreement to raise output after Saudi Arabia failed to convince the cartel to lift production.

How rising gas prices affect consumer decisions

Economists are divided on where gas prices will go by the end of summer. While some believe gas prices will climb to $5 per gallon by summer's end, others believe prices may stabilize. Regardless of what actually happens to gas prices, already-pained consumers may respond the same way to higher prices or just the threat of $5 gas. Either way, gas prices are affecting consumer decisions.

Oil and Natural Gas: Why Has This Historical Correlation Recently Broken Down?

The prices of oil and natural gas have always been historically correlated, as the two resources are substitutes for each other. However, this relationship seems to have broken down recently. Why is this and how should investors react? I will offer several possibilities below.

Qatar's Golden Age

The world could be entering a "golden age of gas," according to the IEA in a recent report, with Qatar at the forefront of these developments.

World oil reserves rise in 2010 - BP

(Reuters) - World oil reserves increased again last year as the global oil found more new oil than it used, BP said on Wednesday.

BP said in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy that global proven oil reserves rose by 6 billion barrels to 1.383 trillion barrels at the end of 2010.

Burbank Contrarian Bets on Saudis Show Why Oil Reality Helps Return 23.6%

The Saudi monarchy’s decision to roll tanks into neighboring Bahrain to help quell an uprising -- as well as the rebellions in Libya and Syria -- may give some investors pause. Not Burbank, a hedge-fund manager who made his name by earning a 220 percent net return in 2007 after shorting subprime mortgages.

He sees little chance that the Saudi regime will be overthrown or that crude prices will collapse. As the insular kingdom opens up to foreign investors -- it didn’t permit outsiders to buy Saudi stocks until 2008 -- Burbank says now is the time to plow into the country’s petroleum-rich economy.

Project Mthombo not necessary, say experts

FOR a project that is supposed to be commissioned in 2015, not a lot is said about PetroSA’s ambitious oil refinery project known as Project Mthombo.

It remains unclear what will be the size of the mooted refinery, to be situated in the Coega Industrial Development Zone outside Port Elizabeth.

Bubbling crude: America's top 6 oil-producing states

Crude oil production from the United States averaged approximately 5.48 million barrels per day in January 2011, much less than the country consumes. The bulk of this domestic production comes from just a handful of states where the oil and gas industry has been operating for generations. Here are the six states that produce the greatest amount of crude oil.

EPA objects to proposed oil pipeline from Canada

The Environmental Protection Agency is raising new objections to a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

In a letter to the State Department, the EPA said it remains concerned about the risk of oil spills that could affect drinking water and sensitive ecosystems, as well as the effect of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline.

Officials: Tribesmen control parts of Yemeni city

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Hundreds of armed tribesmen have taken control of part of Yemen's second-largest city, Taiz, security officials said Wednesday.

China moves to secure food and fuel future

China is a resource scarce country, in spite of its huge size, and they are fanning out worldwide to secure for themselves whatever resources they possibly can against a future where the world is going to be poor on resources. They're after energy, they're after food, they're after mineral resources, it's happening in all areas.

Gail Tverberg: Observations based on my Trip to China

The various Chinese leaders spoke in response to what I had to say. I was struck by how much they sounded like US leaders. To them, peak oil was not a major concern, although one of them did agree that some of what I was saying seemed to make sense. One thought that natural gas would save the day. Climate change seemed to be a bigger concern than peak oil. At least one of them seemed to think that by raising interest rates, they could solve the problem of rising food and energy prices. It occurred to me that the United States tried the higher-interest rate approach back in the 2004-2006 period, and those higher rates contributed to the 2006 and subsequent crash in home prices, but I didn’t think to mention it at the time.

US: China ends wind power subsidy program

The U.S. says China has ended certain subsidies to Chinese wind turbine manufacturers after Washington filed a case to the World Trade Organization.

A Hybrid Power Plant Takes Shape in Turkey

Solar and wind power will supplement natural gas at optimal points during the day at the plant, which will be built in Karaman, Turkey.

Masdar City's Solar Power Plant Is Net Exporter Of Energy To UAE

The largest photovoltaic (PV) plant in the MENA region located in Masdar City has hit all performance targets in the first two years of its operations, demonstrating that utility-scale PV plants in the region are viable, Masdar said today.

From a Special-Ed Class, Solar Evangelists

A group of autistic students at a California high school are happily proselytizing for solar power in local elementary schools.

Calling for ‘Achievable’ Target, Christie Plans Cut in State’s Renewable Energy Goals

Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that he planned to scale back New Jersey’s goals for renewable energy as he looked for an “achievable” approach to generating electricity in the state.

Poor countries pledging larger emissions cuts than rich ones

A new study for Oxfam reveals that developing countries are pledging to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by more than developed countries. Oxfam estimates that over 60 per cent of emissions cuts by 2020 are likely to be made by developing countries.

Law would force bay Area cities to plan for sea level rise

Bay Area cities and counties whose jurisdictions contain the San Francisco and Oakland airports and the ports of Oakland and Redwood City would be required to prepare action plans to deal with rising sea levels under a trailblazing bill passed by the state Assembly last week.

The bill would require roughly 75 cities, counties, harbor districts, ports and sanitary districts that administer state-granted coastal public lands to have a plan in place by 2013 to contend with storm surges and flooding expected to result from rising sea levels by the end of the century. Besides airports and ports, it would apply to commercial harbors, wastewater treatment plants and protected tideland areas.

After Bernanke's comments yesterday that high gas prices were causing inflation, I tracked down this comment from 3 months ago:

While higher fuel prices do help to push up prices on a range of products, at the same time, they cut the amount of cash that consumers can spend on items and so reduce demand.

“The increases that we have seen so far, while obviously a problem for a lot of people, do not yet pose a significant risk either to the recovery or to the maintenance of overall stable inflation,” he told the Senate Banking Committee.

This has been the historical consensus economic opinion on the effect of peak oil. This opinion has changed the past couple of months.

How much credit does the Fed. have left to spend on kicking the can down the road? Can they really make it to the next election? If I didn't have to live is this economy, this would all be very exciting. (Actually, it is still exciting. It's funny how knowledge of peak oil filters all the news)

eastie - Glad you brought it up...just thinking about it last night. Some simple questions from a simple geologist: does the Federal reserve even have credit? If so who's loaning them the money? And how is the loan secured...the fed doesn't own any asset does it? For that matter as I understand it the Fed has been buying 100's of $billions of US bonds...with what money? I believe the Feds can "create" money so is the Fed creating money from nothing and then buying US bonds with previously non-existing money? And then the govt takes that previously non-existant money and transfers those digits in their account to accounts of all the folks the govt sends money to every month?

If this is more or less the system then it seems like we shouldn't have to pay any taxes: the Fed can just keep buying US bonds with previously non-existing money and the govt has an endles supply of digital $'s to distribute to the rest of us.

Sounds good to me...where's my check???

"If this is more or less the system then it seems like we shouldn't have to pay any taxes"

That's what struck me when Bush/Bernanke first started throwing hundreds of billions of dollars around. On the one hand, taxes probably help make people feel connected to and responsible for their government. On the other hand, the ability of the US to borrow money from other countries probably depends on our presumed ability to get that back from it's citizens. The more one thinks about these things the more it all becomes obvious what a giant confidence game / ponzi scheme / cluster f' it all is.

My understanding is that they are printing money to buy US Gov't Treasuries. Basically, the collateral is the US Gov't.

Here's one for you all. The Gov't collects taxes of which the personal income tax has been roughly 42% to 45% or so of that whole for several decades. The rest are made up from Excise taxes ( taxes on alcohol and tobacco), Corporate taxes, and payroll taxes (SS, Medicare, etc.) which have been either heading up or down in percentage of the whole. The current debt is roughly 14.2 Trillion and the amount of Personal Income Tax Collected a few years ago was 1.1 Trillion or a factor of 13. In other words, if the Gov't want to disperse the Debt based on ability to pay, each one of us would receive $13 for every dollar of income tax we paid.

The Excise, Corporate, and Payroll taxes are indirectly and directly collected from us. Grab a six-pack, a bag lunch from Micky D's and our W2's and we can discuss how true this all is.

According to Zillow, the value of my home is getting close to the amount of debt out there in my name. To me, this really indicates that the Gov't has mortgaged our future.

Rockman, this is exactly how it works. We can not stop paying taxes because the private owners of the private bank called "the federal reserve bank" want to collect interest. It is a transfer of wealth from you and me to a very small group of ultra rich owners of the global banks.

See The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin

Thanks Ed. Another one: the interest the govt is paying the fed...where does it come from? I'm guessing we may be getting some/all of that money from the bonds we've been selling the Fed.

My head is starting to hurt...think I'll stop asking questions now. LOL

About 42% of all federal dollars spent are borrowed/printed. So about 42% of the interest payments are made using borrowed/printed money. This can't end well.

The Fed is the Banker of Last Resort. It was founded after the Panic of 1907 when the House of Morgan was the Banker of Last Resort.
All this light hearted banter belies the seriousness of the current Deflation. If there is no liquidity there is total freefall.
In 2008 Bernanke didn't play his role as the Banker of Last Resort, instead he went to Congress for money.
Now TeaPot Republicans are making proper economic stimulus by the government impossible.

ROCKMAN, do you like the idea of the USA tightrope walking without a net?

I looks like a lot of people want to be that America will fail,
many of them making bets that gold or foreign currencies will bail them out.

Mocking the Fed is so much easier than pulling together to keep
America from a major heart attack.

Nations ruled by a corrupt elite (nobles) frequently end up committing



Well the idea the republicans have in mind is for the US to fail, since the President is a Democrat. It is a simple horse race issue.

But one wonders if the Repub masters--the richest elite--want American Joe and Jane to fail because they make more money developing Asia, which is their recent passion.

Who knows? But yes you are right -- the goal of the Republicans is to keel the US economy.

Republicans are Americans too!

You can't have it both ways. There is no such thing as a perfect America where 100% of people are liberals and Democrats who want to spread the wealth around, Wall Street regulates itself, and D.C. always does the right thing for the rest of the nation.

America also consists of a ton of people who just want to make as much money as possible for themselves and their children, and separate themselves from the herd using whatever means necessary.

There is nothing you can do to convince these people otherwise.

See, there's the rub. If you want to "save" America, you also want to "save" Republicanism and everything it implies.

This is actually the fatal flaw of modern Democrats. They are always attempting to save the system, when all it does it to allow a select group of people to profit at the expense of everyone.

Checkmate was a long time ago. As long as Democrats try to save America, the rich run away with everything. It's diabolical but it's perfectly executed.

That is just way too depressingly logical and descriptive of how the country works. Except that I don't trust many of the Democrats, either.

Since the Japanese crash two decades ago, Japanese public debt soared from 25% of GDP to 225% of GDP. In addition, the Japanese Central Bank has kept a near-zero interest rate. Despite these rock-ribbed Keynesian policies, Japan never recovered. In light of Fukushima, the experiment is basically over. But 22 years without recovery should be good enough evidence.

The US currently has a near-zero interest rate, is running a public deficit of >10% GDP per year, and is even printing money to pay for its spending. Net result? Nothing.

But hey, just like communism was never really tried, I assume the problem will always be that deficits weren't large enough and interest rates weren't low enough.

Government deficit spending isn't so much the problem as is the misapplication of that spending on consumption instead of on productive assets which will earn back the money in future years.

Cutting taxes, so that the private sector has more money to invest, will not work. The private sector will invest almost all additional assets off-shore rather than in the US.

Productive assets only earn back the investment if there's sufficient demand in the future for the good they produce. Right now we've got labor and productive assets being underutilized. Doesn't it seem absurd to propose as a solution to build more productive assets?

There are lots of productive assets that could be funded. For example, electrification of the nations railways, light rail in the cities, etc., to get the economy prepared for the end of FF.

There will certainly be demand for them in the future.

ok, just terminological confusion on my part. I thought you meant stuff like factories rather than infrastructure. Though actually factories wouldn't be so bad either since much of what we get from china now would be much more expensive to transport when oil becomes scarce. The problem is that it requires planning ahead since they're not going to make business sense until transport costs outweigh labor cost differences, and it's not easy to say when that will be. Goddang production for profit.

The US GDP (2000-2010)under the free-market deregulation, tax cuts and war spending policies of Bush(also the national debt under Bush went up by $4T dollars--179%)
at an average annual rate of 1.6% is only slightly better than Japan at 0.9% annual growth rate. Japan actually out performed Germany which had a 0.7% annual growth rate and the EU-15 were slightly better at 0.98% per year.


You assume that Keynesian policies couldn't help Japan but their growth beat German austerity in the same period. Germany and Japan with their aging demographics are a lot more similar than the US and Japan.

Why not compare the US with Brazil which has pursued a Keynsian policy and had an annual growth rate of 3.9% per year over the same decade?


Your talking points are simplistic and meant to create a false narrative. Often Keynesian policies work and comparing apples to oranges doesn't.

And yet, the people who have accurately predicted the Great recession, the housing fall, etc., are non-Keynesians.

People like Schiff, Nicole Foss, Steve keen. We are in a resource-constrained reality moving faster than most of you could have imagined. Neoclassical economics has no answer for that, for collapse, for power down, for simplification.

Neoclassical economics is dead. Why don't you stop insulting people over something you clearly don't understand?

Economics is dead.

Face it, none of them have any clue what's happening, why its happening, or critically, what to do about it. While you compare the Austrian School with Keynes, etc. Rome is burning.

Throw the lot of them out, and their failed model, and actually get some new thought in, reforming the system into an understandable, tractable, state.

You might try reading Keen's work, in particular.

You know, I keep hearing this sentiment. I guess my source predicting a bad end to the housing bubble must be some sort of radical non-traditional economist. What is the viewpoint of the Economist magazine? How much more mainstream can one get?

Fortunately, I almost immediately ran into a cleverly named Wiki page “The United States Housing Bubble” that forcefully makes the point that vast numbers of sources knew housing was in trouble:

They kindly provided a link to a June 26th 2005 article in the Economist, which appeared under these titles:

The global housing boom
In come the waves
The worldwide rise in house prices is the biggest bubble in history. Prepare for the economic pain when it pops

The problem was not knowledge, but a system, financial and political, dominated by real and perceived self-interest.

It was both. You're arguing that a few people speaking about about this means everybody knew and agreed? Not an argument that's going to go very far. Also, expecting a housing bust does not equal expecting the worst crisis since the GD. Bubbles are not that hard to call. it's the whole trend that is the hard part. Also, there is a different analysis involved in calling downturn due to PO vs. housing bubble vs. systemic problems vs.... All these things are not equal, so the differences are important in determining who "got it" and who didn't.

Completely Agree,
My case was overstated. But the division between traditional and atypical economists is not as great as you suggest. A classical Keynesian economist would have been screaming for decades now that increasing US debt (public and the larger private portion) was a coming catastrophe. I believe the appropriate idiom would be eating ones seed corn. Of course they would have been predicting this for at least 20 years before it happened. Nothing like 20 years of false prediction to make one look really foolish.

The willingness of foreign capital to continue flowing into the US has been remarkable. Even now, flight to safety goes to US treasuries. Then again, I look around the world and ask whose bonds seem more sound, particularly given US government debt is not that high relative to GDP. To those of you who believe the US government will lose its ability to borrow, to where do you think this vast amount of money will flow?

In my view, it is usually not the trends that are hard to pick but the timing.

Had an opportunity to grill Nicole Foss this week and I could not get her to agree that rising oil price had sent the financial markets over the edge. Perhaps she was avoiding an area she did not want to address. She did make the point that financial collapse seemed likely to occur in Europe before the US and that the flow of capital to the US would probably buy us some time.

Love Nicole and TAE, but they have a serious blind spot wrt the triggering mechanism issue and the AGW vs. PO primacy issue. I had hoped to spend some time with her this spring, but it didn't happen. I'll keep picking away.

Galbraith predicted the crash.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
"The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too"


So did Gail

Peak Oil and the Financial Markets: A Forecast for 2008


Very prescient. Interesting that Gail did not explicitly mention the housing bubble, but the first commentor did.

You might read my follow-up post to it as well:


So did Harry Dent -- in 1993
(Ref: The Great Boom Ahead)

While his projected numbers for the major indexes were off, his main graph relating the S&P 500 to the relative number of people in the 40 to 50 year old age group has shown a good deal of accuracy.

Pri-de I agree with Peter Schiff not only did he predict what would happen and why, he predicted what our government (both parties) would do in response. He predicted that they would try to re-inflate the bubble in order to patch up or cover up things just so they could get re-elected, with no regard of the long term consequences.

"The recession is the cure"

Wait, I thought you wanted to show that Keynesian policies get you to a recovery. Yet, with massive Keynesian stimulus, you can only show me a 0.9% growth rate? And you're crowing about that? Keynesianism is supposed to get you to a self-sustaining recovery, but Japan had nothing of the sort after 22 years of it. Were you looking to prove my point?

There was no massive Keynesian response. State and local cutbacks cancelled out any federal stimulus (which was too small and too poorly focused). The enemies of Keynesianism get their way, first the eviserate the stimulus to make it too small and too poorly focused, then they can claim it didn't work.
Kind of like my theory of a parachute saving the day jumping out of an airplane: politics forces compromise, and rather than using a twenty foot diameter chute, my poor test pilot only gets an eight foot chute. Then the chutes will never work crowd points to the compound fractures in both his legs as proof that parachutes don't work.

In support of your point, I must disagree. The real issue is the comparison between what happened following the stimulus, lets say 0.9% growth, and what would have happened without it, quite likely a depression producing -10% growth.

The argument that Obama's stimulus did nothing based on the modest growth that followed is simply, logically, incorrect.

We will never truly know what the stimulus did or did not do for the economy. Economics is the dismal science.

Maybe economics is the dismal science but Krugman predicted the stimulus was insufficint and it is clear that the decisions were made not based on economics but on politics. Krugman made his prediction based upon well tested economic models. No doubt there are other factors like oil that are not adequately included in the models, but the fact is that Obama listened to people who exercise too much caution when it came to politics.

So what is the alternative? Sadly, we will probably finding out very quickly what happens when you think you can cut your way to recovery. I think just a double dip recession at this point would be a blessing.

The thing is, we do need to cut most things. We cannot go on another consumerist binge. The earth can't afford it even if we can. The atmosphere doesn't have any more quantitative easing to provide...

And these are the shoals upon which even the most insightful traditional economists' ideas run aground and are dashed to bits.

We need an economics of rapid contraction and then policies to implement them. But very little has been done along those lines in economic theory and essentially no politician I know of, at least not in the US, is willing to give up the mantra of endless growth.

But the Republicans are really about a mass redistribution of wealth upwards to the super rich, or rather a continuation and acceleration of that process that has been going on since the '70s. One could imagine a policy that acknowledges that there will be less and less of everything for everyone from now on, but that then distributes what there is now much more equitably to minimize the pain and ease the descent a bit. But this is the opposite of what is happening.

If it were possible for me to imagine a contraction in consumption while the resources to transition were still available, I would generally agree with you. Of course the catch 22 is that business as usual will not redirect resources into transition. Seems like we need another good scare.

or an excellent answer couched in terms and in a manner Joe Sixpack and Josephene Appletini will respond to.

Yes, I did just imply by exclusion the government cannot do this. it doesn't, and cannot, think or act systemically. We can. We must. We shall?

Although I said that Krugman was essentially right about the proper prescription for recovery does not mean that I favor growth given the resource and environmental consequences. In a narrow sense, he is correct but I don't support his goals. Herman Daly would be a good start for those who don't accept the economic growth paradigm. Those who think that contraction and making income distribution worse are wrong within the context that the goal is growth. But they are also wrong in the context that a non growth economy needs another set of tools in an attempt to minimize widespread suffering.

But both you and I are so far outside the mainstream that this discussion will not be held within the mainstream discussion any time soon. I think that income needs to be significantly redistributed because of the destructive results of trying to use growth as a tool to provide income to those in the lower part of the income distribution. It doesn't work even if growth did not have negative consequences.

When one starts talking about cutting it gets very interesting. People talk about cutting medicare and shared sacrifice but where is the talk about cutting Doctor's salaries which now average $330,000 a year.

where is the talk about cutting Doctor's salaries which now average $330,000 a year.

Ohhhhh. Sacrilege, as long as teachers are still making their huge, economy-crippling $35,000 / year! Where are your priorities? /sarcasm

Seriously though. When I was a kid, the richest guy anybody'd ever had any contact with was likely an owner of a car dealership, rumoured in whispers to be "a millionaire". He probably made perhaps five times what an average skilled tradesman might make in a year, and lived in a house with nearly 2,000 square feet and drove a Cadilac. He was real upper crust.

These days, he'd be treated as if he were collecting food stamps.

Yep, mere millionaires are a dime a dozen today, so to speak. That "five times the average skilled tradesman" has become more like five hundred times, for CEO's of top companies in the US.

Concentrating wealth this way also, of course, concentrates power.

And what do the super-wealthy do with more power?

Why make sure that the rules are written so that they get even more money and power, of course.

But really it is the folks playing around with CDS's and such that are making the truly obscene money--even highly paid doctors are at least providing some kind of service that is valuable to someone. These guys make untold tons of money by destabilizing the entire system. Those, and the guys who trade in and make weapons systems--talk about destabilizing!!

I will agree that Doctors should be well paid but at the same time their salaries have risen much higher than the general population over the last several decades. I will also agree that the real outrage is the hedge fund managers and other financial types. However, the current medical system is dysfunctional Despite their high paychecks, their value to each individual patient is minimal in that they only spend a few minutes with each patient. At least that is my experience.

In a non-growth economy, how does anyone get paid so much more than others? If there is a hierarchy, why is the trash guy/gal less important than the doctor? The trashperson prevents disease, the doctor (sometimes) treats the illness if the trash isn't collected.

An ounce of prevention...

When one starts talking about cutting it gets very interesting.

Because it's the wrong metric/question. You have to ask the right question. The question is not, "What should/must we cut?", the question is "How can we live within the ecological services the Earth can provide?"

the question is "How can we live within the ecological services the Earth can provide?"

Why is it that so few even manage to see that this is the question we need to be asking? Basing our discussion only on something that's completely unsustainable is the wrong way to make any progress towards an answer.

"Why not compare the US with Brazil"

I would think because they are not comparable, apples and oranges!

One has a high population density of nonproducers and one has so much rain forest yet to cut down before they find out Keynes was wrong.

Often Keynesian policies work

Are you claiming the US is operating under Keynesian policies?

I would think that we are operating under what most people think are modern Keynesian policies. Now would JMK agree that we have acted as he would wanted us to, some would say no, but I'm certainly no scholar on that issue. Maybe Krugman and others bastardized what Keynes true belief system was supposed to be.

Rockman, this is exactly how it works. We can not stop paying taxes because the private owners of the private bank called "the federal reserve bank" want to collect interest.

The Federal Reserve is legally required to refund all interest on US debt back to the US Treasury.

I have never seen this as a line item in the federal budget.


CBO expects that about 60 percent of the increase in federal revenues will come from increased remittances from the Federal Reserve System to the Treasury; those payments will rise markedly because of the Federal Reserve’s recent actions to stabilize financial markets to support the economy. According to CBO’s projections, revenues other than those remittances will increase by only 1.3 percent in 2010, about a percentage point less than the anticipated increase in GDP.

From your document total remittance of federal reserve to US in 2011 is 74 billion. The total debt is 14414 billion and total interest payment 209 billion. So that would put the fed share of debt at 5100 billion. Social Security at 2500 billion, federal employee pension at ?, medicaid and medicare at ?, China at 1000 billion, other countries at ?.

If fed money is free (interest paid back) then let's cash out social security and have it invest in some thing safe like ownership of oil fields and ownership of farms. Likewise pensions, medicare and medicaid. Hell let's pay off the Chinese so they have no leverage over us. Make it fed hold 14414 billion effectively interest free. Congress can spend as much as it wants with the interest free credit card that they set the limit on.

The Federal Reserve is empowered to issue Federal Reserve Notes that are backed "By the Full Faith and Credit of the United States". The Notes are denominated in dollars. The dollar used to be the weight of a particular gold coin, but in the context of Notes, it doesn't actually mean anything.

New Notes are issued when a member bank of the Federal Reserve loans money. Member banks do not need to have as much in deposits as they extend in loans. The fraction that they must keep in deposits is called the "reserve requirement". This practice gives the name to "fractional-reserve banking". The banks are only required to keep a fraction of what they loan. This is also called "paper money", "paper banking", and "fiat money".

Currently, the Federal Reserve is engaging in a program colloquially called QE2. Banks will buy US debt, and the Federal Reserve will, in turn, buy it off them at a slightly increased price. The Federal Reserve pays for the debt by creating money out of nothing.

Unfortunately, once the central bank starts printing money to buy the government's debt, I honestly do not know how it can stop.

Unlike oil the amount of dollars has no limit it is infinite. We will go up an exponential curve of more and more dollars until the rate of change is too hard to keep up with then people will loose interest in dollars and use more stable forms to hold value. Like gold, silver, Swiss Francs, Yuan, oil, food, minerals.

Printing dollars actually does not solve the problem. It is a way to make past debts seem less costly, making yesterday's energy cheaper in effect. Not printing money could make past debt more severe. Therefore, this treadmill will run until we are all fighting for grubs and worms to eat.

However, grasshoppers and tarantulas are now off the menu.

See http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2011/06/08/la-oaxaquena-banned-from...

While I think such a ban ridiculous...and the city's official reason even more so!

“The City is worried people will get sick,” he says, pointing out that no one has gotten sick in the two-and-a-half years the exotic treats have been on the menu.

Industrial farming is much more likely to bring us things like mad cow disease, salmonella and E.coli outbreaks!

The City suggested he raise his own grasshoppers, so he’s flirting with that idea.

That's actually a really good idea!

And he is not the only one looking at insect farming.

I have often posted comments in favor of insect farming for food, here, in the past. It's really a no brainer.

Edible insects are rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins and are being actively promoted by the United Nations as the secret weapon in averting a worldwide famine. According to a recent UN report: "Edible insects constitute high-quality food for humans, livestock, poultry and fish. Because insects are cold-blooded, they have a high [pro rata] food conversion rate—crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein." Only a few countries "farm" insects, and the UN is now spending millions of dollars to investigate mass insect production.

Insect farms also tick all the environmental boxes: they emit only a fraction of the harmful gas emissions caused by livestock farming; require no fertilizers, little water and none of the land clearance needed for cattle ranching, a principal driver in deforestation. Insects also reproduce at a faster rate than conventional livestock: female crickets can lay from 1,200 to 1,500 eggs in three to four weeks. As Meg Lowman, a pioneer of rainforest canopy research, says: "Eating bugs is the most sustainable diet on the planet—insects are high in protein, low in cholesterol, and rearing insects has a very small energy footprint. You can grow thousands of crickets in a shoebox without petroleum fertilizers or forest clearance."

Unless you are part of the Agro, Petroleum or Big Pharma industries, what's not to like?!
However we still need to reduce human population! Eating insects won't work if we don't...

Fred, why don't you do a keypost?

It's a great way for humans to have personal energy and a future, so it's germane to the site.

It's one of those great issues which is only held back by learned cultural "yuckiness" feelings. We eat arthropods out of the ocean to the point of depleting their populations. And if one peruses government "filth" standards for chocolate, peanut butter, and other foods it becomes clear that bug parts and rodent hairs are already contributing significantly to our diets.

Why don't we start a photo campaign of supermodels eating bugs? Heck, it'd probably help them diet. Be a fun promo campaign. Merge it with a demo project of picking some city of starving humans and bringing them all to fullness on bugs.

High-protein high-fat flour made from mealworms would make into nice burger substitutes. A good cannibalism alternative for the bottleneck; and let's face it, that's exactly what it would be.

We can start with dog and cat food. Like THEY care if they eat bugs... but they consume a large portion of the meat protein in the USA. "My Dog is an Anteater" bumper stickers given away with every Prius purchase, etc.

disclosure: I haven't intentionally eaten any bugs today.

Fred, why don't you do a keypost?

Hi Greenish, I'm in month four of a new business venture and even my family and close friends hardly get to see me right now. However this topic is quite close to my heart for many reasons. If I survive my current venture I might look into starting my own insect farm. I think it might be the perfect urban farm, maybe an old warehouse with a rooftop hydroponic vegetable garden to grow insect food, rain catchment system and low voltage off grid solar could all come together in such a project. Perhaps a grasshopper taco stand could be added to it as part of a revenue provider while doubling as an education center for the public. I know lot's of bright unemployed high school kids who would jump at the chance of working with something like this.

And you are right about ocean arthropods! Grasshoppers are just juicy land shrimp! Plus there is no need to raze the ecosystems on the ocean bottom with shrimping nets if you raise them in an urban farm.

OMG! I can imagine going through the permitting and occupational licensing process at City Hall...>;^) Does anyone know of a town somewhere in the USA that might have an enlightened enough population to try something like this?!

Enlightened? Nope, won't happen.

Next time you see a wasp nest consider eating em.


Other bugs to grow:

Why don't we start a photo campaign of supermodels eating bugs?

Har! A number of years ago I saw a news snippet about supermodel Cheryl Tiegs 'slumming' in a central African country and sampling their local delicacy of roasted termites. Maybe the supermodels of the world will show us the way!

Lack of buyers may force Treasury to boost rates

The U.S. Treasury next month will go back to relying on the kindness of strangers like never before to purchase the nation’s burgeoning debts — and taxpayers may have to pay higher interest rates to attract enough foreign investors, analysts say.

Though a significant rise in interest rates could be toxic for a softening U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve has said it will end its program of purchasing $600 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds as planned on June 30. The Fed is estimated to have bought about 85 percent of Treasury’s securities offerings in the past eight months.

I understand that about 40% of current federal spending is from from borrowed funds, and the captioned article notes that the Fed has purchased about 85% of Treasury securities in the past eight months; therefore, about one-third of federal spending over the past 8 months was funded with newly created money.

June 30th is the halfway point for 2011. The second half of 2011 could be, as they say, "Interesting." And of course, we have the ongoing debate in Congress over spending and debt.

Hey, multiple sources have indicated that the Fed does not buy treasury notes at auction but only from the public in secondary markets. With 10 year notes near zero real interest, some increase seems inevitable and probably not a bad thing. At minimum it will provide an indication of how willing the market is to absorb current borrowing.

At this moment, short term interest rates are nominally near zero and clearly negative in real terms. This might be viewed as the Treasury making money off of its short term debt - pretty amazing.

Once upon a time there was this big stash of gold, and your good ol' american dollars was simply the licence to a share in that stash. Now that link is broken and instead your dollar is a licence to a share in (drumrolls) The US Economy! Wich in turn is based on you paying your taxes.

If you (as the nation in total) stop paying taxes, then I sugest you withdraw all your money from the bank and buy a pair of new shoes while them dollars are still worth anything.

The Fed can also create money out of thin air through the banking system in the form of credit. For example a Bank deposits a government bond with the Fed, say $10m worth, Fed lends bank $9m cash with bond as security (money is created from thin air), bank uses the $9m as reserves to issue credit at a ratio of 10 to 1 ($9m reserves becomes $90m of loans to businesses and individuals). In reality banks have been issuing loans based on fictitious reserves and the Fed has been using all kinds of tricks to give money to the banks so the real multiplier effect has been much higher than in my example. Hence the urgency to get banks lending again to create more money in the economy in the form of credit.

Unfortunately it is game over for the Fed, they've stuffed so much credit into the economy that individuals, businesses and government can take on no more debt. Banks are basically taking the money and gambling with it in rigged financial markets where they cannot lose. QE1 and QE2 have failed to revive the economy and the stage is set for the mother of all deflationary collapses. Hence everyone is looking to the Fed for the "Deus ex machina" to save the day, better known as QE3. The question is how is the Fed going to do it with conventional methods now impaired?

I fail to understand how you can reconcile "create money out of thin air" with "deflationary collapse".

Have prices of anything other than homes been going down recently? Are your groceries getting cheaper? Is the price of oil testing new lows? Do you expect that peak oil will cause the price of oil to continue to decrease as dollars become worth more and more? When countries get in financial trouble (think Greece here as a indicator of where the US is going), do interest rates on their debt increase or decrease? Why isn't there a huge sell off of gold based on the coming deflation? I see warning signs and flashing indicators of potentially devastating inflation everywhere.

In summary, what part of printing money to buy bonds from yourself so that you can continue overspend your "income" is going to cause this deflationary collapse? If by some unknown mechinism we do end up with horrendous deflation, we can just eliminate our role as middleman for our own country and just run the printing presses and use the money to pay off the entire national debt - why bother buying our own bonds? Deflationary problem solved!

Nicole Foss would say that a financial panic destroys money so quickly that when the panic comes the Fed cannot possibly compensate.

A problem with discussion of the print money/deflationary collapse issue at the Drum is we never explicitly address the size of the money supply and only rarely allude to how changes in the velocity of money impact money supply. I do not know enough to do so. I am not sure anyone does.

If a collapse is followed by deflating the national debt, the last financial asset retaining any value would be destroyed - might not be a good choice.

Beyond that, the real issue in a collapse is the loss of demand.

My take..........
Consumerism is the friend of inflation.
Money needs to get into the economy via the consumers spending and creating jobs and a wages/salary spiral to power the carosel.
If printing could do it just print million dollar bills and give one to every American.
Really we need to get people back to work to fund the inflation. To do that, cheap energy or possibly a war is required....luck with the first one.

Japan couldn't do it(inflate)but watch out now, rising energy costs, reconstruction and high employment, IMO they will have to fight hard to stave off hyperinflation.

Runeshade, yes we're seeing inflation as a result of QE1+QE2 and the actions of central banks around the world. They're creating money from thin air, but they're not creating real economic activity or creating real wealth. My point being that if they stop, if the Fed doesn't launch QE3, then the system implodes into a deflationary collapse. So the question is whether the Fed can continue to foist ever greater amounts of debt into an economic system that's already stuffed to the gunwales with it.

The conclusion depends on whether the FED is increasing money supply faster than other forces are decreasing it. I spoke to Nicole Foss this week and in her view, aggregate money supply may already be contracting (recent slow down). I am not agreeing, just putting out the issue.

My point being that if they stop, if the Fed doesn't launch QE3, then the system implodes into a deflationary collapse. So the question is whether the Fed can continue to foist ever greater amounts of debt into an economic system that's already stuffed to the gunwales with it.

But thats the whole crux of the matter... they can't stop until Congress passes and the president signs a real balanced budget, and that isn't going to happen. Even the Republicans who pretend that they care about excess government spending have yet to even PROPOSE a balanced budget. Anything less is a complete failure. As long as we run ANY budget deficit, the FED has to come up with a way to cover it.

The choices for the government are simple:

1) Sell more bonds. If buyers can't be found, then "purchase" them yourself (ala QE3,4,5...)

2) Run the printing press (bsaically the same as purchasing your own bonds, minus the shenanigans, smoke and mirrors)

3) Refuse to fund programs and departments that Congress has authroized which would result in a deficit. The Dept of the Treasury is part of the executive branch... they answer to the president and not directly to Congress. If it were me, I'd open this door before the other 3, but then as president, I wouldn't be signing non-balanced budgets in the first place.

4) Default on the debt. Worst of all options.

Options 1, 2 and 4 all result in both inflation and higher interest rates. There is little to no evidence of deflation, prices are going up everywhere, not down (except in real estate, which is considered an investment and therefore irrelevent to discussions of inflation/deflation). There is simply no room for deflationary collapse... it just isn't going to happen with the current fiat system of money that we have. All real deflationary collapses occured when countries were still backing their currencies with "hard money" like gold.

On the spending front: since all financial legislation starts in the House of Representatives. If the Republicans were really serious about decreasing government spending, they might consider starting with actually proposing a balanced budget... we're still waiting.

Runeshade, I'm not necessarily arguing with you, I agree we may well see hyperinflation. My own view is that we will see deflation followed by hyperinflation.

How I see it is that the underlying economy is already in a deflationary collapse, but it isn't evident because of the actions of the Fed and other central banks, but its still there eating away the economy. We also have resource constraints which are pushing up prices of essentials as well as the inflation created by the Fed. The problem is that the Fed, et al, have thrown everything they've got at the dying economy and failed to stop its demise, as soon as they cease printing the underlying deflationary collapse returns with a vengeance. So the only option is to keep the printing presses running. This is where they run into the next problem, they're fast running up against the limits of political and economic acceptability, especially as QE3 will have to be mind bogglingly vast to even maintain the status quo.

So we're at a cross roads; print to infinity, theoretically possible but practically less so, and we get hyperinflation; or print what is acceptable within political and economic limits which is insufficient and slide into the deflationary swamp lying under the surface. I think the latter is the likely outcome, but I may wrong. Once in the midst of the deflationary collapse all limits and opposition will vanish and the printing presses will be set in motion leading to eventual hyperinflation. By then no one will recognise their ass from their elbow and near everyone will be penniless.

The Federal Reserve System is mainly comprised of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks, each of which is owned by the federal reserve banks in its district. Each has its board of directors, management, etc. The New York Federal Reserve Bank is the largest and it conducts the open market operations of selling and buying Treasury securities. The Federal Reserve has substantial capital accumulated since its formation in 1913. As of 12/31/11 it had total assets of $2,427 billion and capital of $53 billion.

The Federal Reserve Banks - Combined Financial Statements as of and for the Years Ended December 31, 2010 and 2009 and Independent Auditors' Report

Merril - Now that's really interesting. Mucho thanks

I thought the Fed had never been audited, am I wrong?

Well, for starters the Iraqi war was free, doncha know because we never bothered to raise taxes to pay for it. If things are free, then why not. While I am not a deficit hawk, I think it might be time to maybe pay for a few things to spend money on. But noooooo. We get to pretend that we don't even need to raise the debt ceiling.

"I believe the Feds can "create" money so is the Fed creating money from nothing and then buying US bonds with previously non-existing money? "

That is called Quantitave Easing. And official policy since last fall.

Right now, the Fed is loaning money they don't have to banks at 0.25% interest, and the banks are using that money to buy Treasuries that pay 2.98% (10 year) to 4.2% (30 years). Of course, when interest goes up, those bonds will become wallpaper, but meanwhile there's a buck to be conjured.


I believe the Feds can "create" money so is the Fed creating money from nothing and then buying US bonds with previously non-existing money? And then the govt takes that previously non-existant money and transfers those digits in their account to accounts of all the folks the govt sends money to every month?

If this is more or less the system then it seems like we shouldn't have to pay any taxes: the Fed can just keep buying US bonds with previously non-existing money and the govt has an endles supply of digital $'s to distribute to the rest of us.

That is actually true - the government does not need to collect taxes for revenue. In fact, the US government doesn't even need to sell bonds, either. All the hoopla about raising the debt ceiling these days is actually kinda funny, because in reality the government doesn't need to go into debt at all.

Mish is one of the wrongheaded folks Bernanke is pushing out against. Bernanke is moving logically in the right direction but dogmatic free market believers will have trouble swallowing.

Bernanke pushes back on oil prices

Instead, the Fed chief pushed back against the critics of loose Fed policy, who blame the central bank for reducing the value of the dollar and fueling a big rise earlier this year in the prices of oil and other commodities.
They do so wrongheadedly, he said. While demand for oil has surged thanks to global growth, supply remains below 2008 levels.

Unwanted radioactive sewage sludge piling up in Japan, storage space running out

Radioactive sewage sludge is quickly filling up treatment facilities in eastern Japan as recycling companies have refused to accept it for safety reasons.

This is pretty huge. Germany's Finance Minister basically set out an ultimatum today to every single Eurozone nation in deep trouble(including, of course, Greece):

Private lenders must be part of the bailout package cost or there will be no bailout.
At the same time, the protests are peaking and for the first time there is deep dissent in ruling Social Democratic party.

Greece is going bankrupt within 10-14 days without a bailout package. But everybody knows that the country will go bankrupt anyway, so it's understandable that private lenders don't want to throw their cash into a moneypit, but Germany has apparently said no to the role of eternal paymaster without any compensation.

In the American movie "The Sixth Sense," many ghosts don't know they are dead, but they don't know it and they only see what they want to see. I have frequently suggested that most Americans are like the ghosts in the movie, to-wit, our auto centric suburban way of life is dead, but most of us don't know it yet, and we only see what we want to see. However, this is really true of most oil importing OECD countries, in the sense that our relatively high per capita oil consumption lifestyle is dead, but most of us don't know it yet and we only see what we want to see.

A reasonable guesstimate is that in the past five years, 2006 to 2010 inclusive, globally we may have burned through about one-fifth of the entire post-2005 supply of global Cumulative Net Exports (CNE). But by and large OECD countries are borrowing in order to keep consumption levels high.

I call it the OECD “Thelma & Louise” Race to the Edge of the Cliff

“Thelma and Louise” is an American movie that ends with the two main characters committing suicide by driving off the edge of a cliff. I’ve often thought that this cinematic moment is an appropriate symbol for the actions of many developed OECD countries that are in effect borrowing money to maintain or increase current consumption. The central problem with this approach is that as my frequent co-author, Samuel Foucher, and I have repeatedly discussed, the supply of global net oil exports has been flat to declining since 2005, with “Chindia” taking a generally increasing share of what is (net) exported globally. Chindia’s combined net oil imports, as a percentage of global net exports, rose from 11% in 2005 to 17% in 2009. At precisely the point in time that developed countries should be taking steps to discourage consumption, many OECD countries, especially the US, are doing the exact opposite, by effectively encouraging consumption. Therefore, the actions by many OECD countries aimed at encouraging consumption in the face of declining available global net oil exports can be seen as the OECD “Thelma & Louise” Race to the Edge of the Cliff. I suppose that the “winner” could be viewed as the first country that can no longer borrow enough money, at affordable rates, to maintain their current lifestyle. So, based on this metric, Greece would appear to be currently in the lead, with many other countries not far behind them.

Interesting that you bring up ghosts, since the usual translation for the Buddhist term that best captures the Western (and now global) consumer culture is "hungry ghosts."


"They are beings who have uncovered a terrible emptiness within themselves, who cannot see the impossibility of correcting something that has already happened."

"They are beings who have uncovered a terrible emptiness within themselves, who cannot see the impossibility of correcting something that has already happened."

Oh, you mean like those people who are still convinced that GDP is a more sensible metric for measuring societal well being than say a 'Happiness Index'?

Satiric Drawings by a Polish Artist Pawel Kuczynski

If there's an issue here, it's not with sensibility, at least not in the ordinary, Lake Wobegon sense. The real issue is who gets to play God by rendering "happiness" or "societal well-being" as a selection of attributes and set of weights, without which a single number, a supposed "index" usable for judgmental comparison, cannot possibly be computed from the multidimensional complexities of life as lived in this, that or the other place.

Humanity is so diverse that many such indices should be computable based on many different selections of attributes and sets of weights, with no necessary widespread agreement on which one to use for broad-brush comparisons. For example, some would famously say of the seething stack-and-pack termitary called Manhattan, "nice place to visit, I would never want to live there"; others can't imagine living anywhere else. Or, as another saying has it, "he says to-may-to, she says to-mah-to." Or, maybe: Manhattan rates higher than the City of London on Professor X's "happiness index", but then again, who but Professor X needs to care?

In order to compress the many dimensions of life into a single number or index, we seem to be left with (1) incomplete numbers such as GDP, which we are able to define just because we omit myriad idiosyncratic matters of subjective taste when we compute them; or (2) one or another of a quasi-infinite selection of arbitrary numbers we might compute via weights drawn from personal tastes and preferences, one of which might possibly be an affinity, or a lack of it, for enigmatic eastern-sounding magical mystical word salad.

Now, one's preference about the Manhattan termitary may well have nothing whatever to do with currency units. So it does follow that a particular example of (2), that is, an index attaching a weight to that preference, will be more complete than (1) in some abstract mathematical sense. Nevertheless, on account of taste-based derivation so arbitrary that observers disagree on the signs of coefficients, never mind the magnitudes, one should expect such an index to shed abundant heat but little light whenever it is used judgmentally to compare (or tar) diverse social units.

No offense Paul, happiness is quite a universal human trait and most people know when they are happy. You really need to get out of your BAU centric GDP box and live a little, go for a sail out on the ocean, sing a song, volunteer to help some little old ladies, teach a child some carpentry skills, but please stop trying to tell me that what we have now is the best that we can do. I have been around the world and lived under a few different political systems and very diverse cultures, Sorry! I'm not buying your spin. I've seen happy people. I've also seen plenty of miserable ones a lot of whom live in countries with high GDPs.

There is nothing wrong with GDP as long as you take it for what it is--a measure of how much money changed hands in a year.

That has little to nothing to do with people's welfare.

The problem is that many economists, and worse, policy makers, take it to be a perfectly accurate measure of just that.

If you want to even pretend to care about people's welfare, you have to find ways of measuring that.

Pretending you are doing so with GDP, especially in a country with a mature economy.

You can dismiss such efforts if you want to, but imho the science behind them is at least as robust as most economic 'science' (not saying much, I know).

Another ghost tale


.....many ghosts don't know they are dead, but they don't know it and they only see what they want to see.

Sounds to me like a 'nice way to go'... even better than the real thing actually. BAU with an option to just pick what you like, give me a SUV with a constantly full tank. :-)

I had a small typo. Should read "Many ghosts don't know they are dead and they only see what they want to see."

I have frequently suggested that most Americans are like the ghosts in the movie, to-wit, our auto centric suburban way of life is dead, but most of us don't know it yet, and we only see what we want to see.

Well, ain't dat da truth!

Planned 405 Freeway closure has LA motorists thinking Carmageddon

The article itself and the comments that follow reveal a very deep disconnect from reality. Ignorance must truly be bliss.

I find myself in sort of an out of body type experience, I can no longer even relate to what the average citizen considers important. I feel like an alien observer from another planet who is studying the slow extinction of this strange human creature's entire web of life. Sad!

Fred, I have to agree with you. Just since the first of the year I am feeling more and more distant from being related to any of the people I read about in the news or even that I see in town. The amount of ignorance about their own situation is absolutely astounding! Then we had people here seriously discussing Solar Power Satellites! Like WOW. I'm understanding less and less of what's going on in the world today. "Out of Body Experience" is a great description of what I'm feeling too.


That is one of the stages. After denial and depression and some others comes disconect. I feel it to. Just taking a stroll at the mall looking at all the shopaholics totaly unaware gives me a sense of beeing out of fase with the world. And I men it in the Star Trekk -ish way where you become invisible and can walk through walls, but can still see and don't fall through floors. Once you discovered PO, you will never be able to look at the world in the same way again.

That is one of the stages. After denial and depression and some others comes disconect.

Uh oh! what comes after disconnect do we just kind of float away? >;^)

That's often how I feel when I visit developed countries. The realities of life are different enough where I live, for me to often think that I have very little in common with the average Joe/Jane of the country I'm visiting. Thing is, I'm getting that feeling in my own country now. Wierd!

Alan from the islands

The article is very brief and predicts a monster traffic jam, which seems connected enough with likely reality. The comments seem to run a gamut, but the guy who expects to be a prisoner in his house for that weekend seems connected with reality, since the side streets will probably gridlock, which in LA doesn't even take a complete freeway shutdown. Some comments advocate mass transit - not overly outlandish or alien in that environment, but unless it were a subway line, which was ruinously expensive last time around, it wouldn't help, since buses or trams would be mired in the gridlocked local streets. True, a few comments advocate more freeways, which seems unlikely, or high-speed trains, which have nothing much to do with intracity gridlock.

But I don't see much that seems alien; nor do I see anything remotely enough to create an overall impression that the whole works is from Arcturus. So can you elaborate slightly? Surely you weren't expecting many commenters on an article on the subject of a straightforward, specific, and serious local inconvenience (one hopes no one needs an ambulance) to change that subject and obsess about Peak Oil instead (people do have lives)?

I mostly agree with you Paul - it is a local-paper story that is about "a straightforward, specific, and serious local inconvenience", and outsiders shouldn't read too much into a local snit - but there is an underlying assumption that huge numbers of people HAVE to drive their vehicles on 405 (and much else) - as if it is a form of total compulsion. That the choice of not driving for the three days of outage is completely and utterly not an option. That part is the freaky unreal component ... no-one in the world has a life that demands they drive every day without fail ... if they think they do they're kidding themselves, have not considered any alternatives. are over-stressed, or are puffed up with their own self-importance.

Actually a great many people are expected to show up to work every day. And a lot of them have commutes, and are not able to change that situation on short notice.

I suppose it depends on what one means by demands; most people actually have lives, which often entail activity beyond the four walls, even on weekends. And some are actually required to show up for work on the weekend. So it seems rather overwrought, even arrogant, to assume that a person who is displeased about being placed under virtual house arrest for a weekend at the whim of a government agency must be "puffed up with self-importance".

The affair also speaks poorly about resiliency, i.e. reasonable spare capacity to cover "stuff that inevitably happens", in LA transportation, and about chronic misfeasance by overpaid, mollycoddled, but yet incompetent local officials with respect to providing same. A person might reasonably be displeased about that too, as yet another instance of execrable service rendered in exchange for confiscatory taxes. Not that we are surprised, of course, since LA famously can't even handle routine daily loads efficiently.

Your comment about "virtual house arrest" seems overwrought and hyperpolic. What prevents people going outside their house without a car? I certainly don't feel I am under house arrest and am usually without a car. Yes, if people need to get to work and the car is the only option, then that is a problem. All cities, however, aren't constructed that way. Too bad that L.A. may be that way for most people.

Straw man: the issue is not "going outside the house" to pick up the mail or stand on the walk looking at the sky. The issue is "going outside the house" in order to go out somewhere, which as I said elsewhere is often the whole point of living expensively in LA rather than much more cheaply in Podunk (for some tastes, there's not much of anywhere in Podunk to go out to.) And with both cars and buses mired, they're not going out anywhere unless, in that huge area, they just so happen to live near a subway stop and the place they're going out to also just so happens to be near a subway stop.

Too bad about the architecture of LA, perhaps, but there it is. I suppose they could move to New York City at the snap of an arrogant social engineer's fingers. Not likely of course since LA'ers can't imagine living in NY and vice versa. But even if they did, they'd encounter exactly the same issue with train lines being randomly closed for "maintenance" on weekends, replacing a quick train ride with an interminable bus ride. Oops. No resiliency there either. [The only folks who seem to get this right are some of the Japanese train companies, which send veritable armies out to do "maintenance" sometime around 1AM, and withdraw them again a few hours later.]

LA was built over one of the larger oil fields in the US.

But it is dry now.

Except off-shore, and Californians oppose drilling there.

Oh, the irony. And there'll be a problem having it both ways, just as with all the other stuff they have both ways right now.


That almost seemed like a strange bit of haiku... :-)

Can't speak for L.A. but I assure you if I still lived in Denver, I could get anywhere I wanted within Denver by bicycle. And there was tons of stuff to do and places to go within one mile of my house. Is L.A. such a desert than one is restricted to one's sidewalk if one can't use the car? The Denver metro area has massive sprawl but that does not mean that there are not many neighborhoods, including downtown, that have great vibrancy and interest without a car. I lived on the southern edge of Denver but had great fun biking to the Cherry Creek or downtown area.

T, you really need to live in So Cal to understand. No car? Screwed (for the vast majority.) I once tried a bus to a place I could drive to in less than 30 min. and got there 3.5 hours later. Ended up walking a heck of a lot, too.

I would describe LA as one of the best examples of how NOT to plan a city. I don't see much future for it in the post-peak-oil era. Those persons living there should be planning their exit strategies.

It's sad, because Southern California once had the largest interurban electric rail system in the world. However, the General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy put an end to it. Unfortunately, many Americans foolishly believe that the collapse of public transit in the US was a natural development.

but there is an underlying assumption that huge numbers of people HAVE to drive their vehicles on 405 (and much else) - as if it is a form of total compulsion. That the choice of not driving for the three days of outage is completely and utterly not an option.

Hey, Cargill got it Paul... It doesn't matter one bit that it happens to be a story about LA. I could have found plenty of other similar stories right in my own backyard in Greater Miami, or any of hundreds of other metropolitan areas throughout the US. The disconnect from reality, is that everyone considers driving, to be practically a precondition for all aspects of life, in the first place! They have no clue that their entire auto centric lifestyle is already doomed, they are complaining that they will be inconvenienced by being stuck in traffic for a couple of days. Do you not see the absurdity in that?

Oh, I can see an absurdity there, but, honest, this has gone into the weeds a bit from: I wouldn't have expected to see the absurdity mentioned in the article or comments, simply because it's well beyond the intended scope of either. Sometimes a local issue is just a local issue, and not a graduate seminar on world affairs.

Plus, getting rid of cars won't actually solve the problem. Every time you turn around in, say, New York, there are weekend closures of train lines which lack effective substitutes. Or in Chicago, you get the seemingly twice-a-week random interminable delays on Metra because another idiot didn't make it dodging a crossing-gate (well, getting rid of cars would get rid of some of those), or another bus or truck driver couldn't get it through his impenetrable skull that "never stop over the tracks" means the back of the vehicle too, not just the driver's seat. What we almost always seem to have, irrespective of the architecture of the transportation system, is a lack of resiliency and redundancy, so that almost any glitch turns into at least a minor crisis. (As per the oft-made point on TOD that "efficiency" and resiliency often come into conflict.)


but there is an underlying assumption that huge numbers of people HAVE to drive their vehicles on 405 (and much else) - as if it is a form of total compulsion. That the choice of not driving for the three days of outage is completely and utterly not an option.

Not to defend the residents of L.A. too much, but the Sepulveda pass is a fairly isolated mountain pass. The only multilane alternates are several miles to the east (101, 5, 2, 134) and the highway between the 405 and the alternates (the 101) is so bad during daylight and evening daily that I would drive miles out of the way to avoid it (405-118-210-2).

A one-lane crash on the southbound 405 at 9am on a summer Saturday will have a noticable effect on every expressway in the basin (405, 101, 5, 2, 134, 10, 1, 118, 105, 710) and surface streets from Malibu to Glendale and downtown well into the afternoon. A complete closure of even the most minor of the expressways will be felt for days (examples: fire between Glendale and La Canada several years ago closed the 2 and changed traffic at the 134-210 in Pasadena, 5-134 in Glendale, and 5-118-210 in Sylmar for a week or two; closure of the Newhall Pass 5 after Northridge quake lead to increase in Angeles Crest 2 traffic for a year or two after repairs were completed, and this was before Santa Clarita expanded west of the 5).

Bottom line: LA is a horribly designed metro area and has far substandard mass transit. The post-war suburbs tended to be built on the far side of mountain ranges (San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley) and were isolated from jobs, transportation, and recreation. Subsequent developments are even more isolated.

Exceedingly few people live within walking distance of work, and few are athletic enough to bicycle the mountains. We survived there for 12 years only because we had jobs in an older city where we could afford a small apartment and walk to work and shopping. We owned a car, but used it mainly for vacations.

edit: My guess: even with the media coverage, enough people won't get the message that things are closed that people will need to be rescued from gridlock or out-of-gas cars (for heat reasons).

The comments seem to run a gamut, but the guy who expects to be a prisoner in his house for that weekend seems connected with reality, since the side streets will probably gridlock, which in LA doesn't even take a complete freeway shutdown.

If by reality you mean auto-dependency without any possible consideration of alternatives, then maybe you are right. But rather than being "a prisoner in his house", he could just walk down the sidewalk, or even walk in the street full of immobile grid-locked autos (as I have done many times), or even (kind of unthinkable to most people in LA) ride a bicycle, as bikes work fine around gridlock. LA's Metro and reserved-lane Bus Rapid Transit system actually covers the city reasonably well now, so the distance to functioning transit would not likely be great either.
It is a very American thought pattern to believe that being unable to drive is equivalent to being " a prisoner in his house", but to the vast majority of the world's population it is just normal life.

More and more people, even in L.A,. are discovering there are alternatives and there are even people in L.A. who function just fine without a car. Oh the horror. I could only imagine being a prisoner in my own house even I were seriously disabled.

...he could just walk down the sidewalk...

Where to? If one limits oneself mainly to walking distance (plus possibly the occasional hours-long hike-plus-slog-plus-hike on LA transit), it would be a whole lot cheaper and far less time-consuming simply to live in Podunk. But people typically put up with living in places like LA to gain access to good jobs, arts, sports, creative activities, and so on, which are often too specialized or expensive to be available in Podunk. They get that access in LA precisely because it's so vastly bigger than a walking-distance village - and conversely, because it's so big, those activities often will be found well beyond walking distance.

...to the vast majority of the world's population it is just normal life...

Sure, though the news about China and other places (even just what's posted on TOD) makes it crystal clear that it's not nearly as vast a majority as it used to be. But that "normal life" of much of the majority, laser-focused on the tyranny of necessity and the stifling isolation of the village ("the idiocy of rural life"), simply isn't "life" at all by comparison to what's available in a place like LA. So even if one pretends to aspire to it as an expression of affinity for Marxist-style downward-leveling, one should not expect very many others to share such a feeling.

Marxist-style downward-leveling

?? Really. I guess the world (at least this society) IS doomed.

Do you realize that the sorts of income inequalities presently common are a very recent phenomenon in modern society? Begun in the Austrian / Chicago schools of economics, tested first in Chile (Pinochet), refined mainly for brainwashing tactics, then introduced under Reagan / Thatcher. Primarily as a reaction (after it became very apparent to insiders that the communist bloc wasn't really a threat to anyone in the west) to rollback the small doses of socialism previously deemed necessary to keep the communist blocs at bay during the cold war.

In this environment, if you're supporting that sort of nonsense you're either a) living from inherited wealth or CEO bonuses or b) brainwashed into acting against your own interests.

Cute underhanded change of subject, since we were discussing international comparisons. But I doubt that there exist more than 25, or some other small number, of North Americans in whose self-interest it could possibly be to level themselves down to, let's say, the global median income. (Even if they're destitute, they might well get more than that over their lifetime in medical care alone, simply by showing up at the ER as and when necessary.)

This has nothing much to do with another problem, intra-country inequalities. But that's a strange one, since multimillion dollar CEO bonuses get some folks all self-righteously riled up, while you never hear a peep about similar multimillion ballplayer salaries, which magically don't seem to bother anyone in the slightest. If there's any genuine widespread concern about inequality per se, it's surely well hidden.

Count me amongst the so called few who are appalled at what pro sports players are paid.

The people of the town who are being portrayed here as backing the sports player can be held out as more examples of how important the circus part of bread and circuses is.


a basketball player and football star whom she says held her down and raped her......being branded a "slut" in her community, and getting thrown off the cheerleading team for refusing to shout "put it in" at her attacker

intra-country inequalities

Ok, good point. One response I'd make is that inasmuch as third world poverty is attributable to our exploitation and not local failures (to weed out superstition / religion, educate, manage population, stamp out corruption), that exploitation would be greatly reduced by some serious levelling in our world. Absent the concentrations of capital presently deployed around the world, (and the rules which enable it to exploit), chances are the third world would be significantly better off.

But that "normal life" of much of the majority, laser-focused on the tyranny of necessity and the stifling isolation of the village ("the idiocy of rural life"), simply isn't "life" at all by comparison to what's available in a place like LA.

Holy Smokes Batman!

I don't know where to begin...LA is sooo 'NORMAL'! How about the tyranny of necessity and the stifling isolation of the automobile ("the idiocy of the car is freedom")simply isn't "life" at all by comparison to what's available in a non automobile centric urban center, (believe it or not such places actually exist).

WOW! This deserves a special highlight:

So even if one pretends to aspire to it as an expression of affinity for Marxist-style downward-leveling, one should not expect very many others to share such a feeling.

What the F, does Marxism have to do with this discussion?! Perhaps in your world carpooling might be part of a communist plot? Riding a bicycle is high treason punishable by death...

Do you really think all those millions of people, both rich and poor, are taking advantage of the things you talk about on a regular basis? I will bet most people who live in L.A. might as well live in what you call podunk. And then there are those who hang out on TOD.

When I leave my home and find myself in the middle of heavy traffic, huge buildings, people rushing hither and thither, I find myself feeling like an archaeologist from a simpler future, going back in time to document the last years of the earth's one massive detritivore civilization. I find myself often drawn back to the words of Dr. Morbeus: "My poor Krell".

Still, it can be stimulating, if poignant, to be an archaeologist immersed in an insane past. We have tickets to a helluva show.

When I leave my home and find myself in the middle of heavy traffic, huge buildings, people rushing hither and thither, I find myself feeling like an archaeologist from a simpler future, going back in time to document the last years of the earth's one massive detritivore civilization. I find myself often drawn back to the words of Dr. Morbeus: "My poor Krell".

Still, it can be stimulating, if poignant, to be an archaeologist immersed in an insane past. We have tickets to a helluva show.

If this quote is found among the ruins of this (global) civilization, and we have managed to end ourselves far earlier than strictly necessary, as we seem wont to do, it may well stand as quote of the freakin' millennium, last two sentences in particular, if contextualized.

Tell people you are biking 13 miles one way and you get a whole lotta's "you poor person".

Only 13 miles. In the warm weather. Not ice, not snow, not rain. warm.

Private lenders absolutely should be forced to throw their cash into a "moneypit" - see what it's like to be on the other side that bails out their sorry asses again and again.

A black hole of their creation and they are finding the vortex may extend even out to where they thought they were safe.

Doug Casey has a great post on this topic concerning our economic future and especially what will happen in Europe, posted yesterday on safehaven.com. It doesn't look good if the worst case scenario happens. See


The financial system is basically turning countries into debtor prisons for their citizens.

An interesting article from the Telegraph showing the scale of the financial crisis, in Britain it really extends way back to the 1980's:

Scandal of Britain's £700bn overspend

Here’s a startling, though depressingly unsurprising, factoid I came across while – sad bastard that I am – digging around in the Office for National Statistics data base. Britain has not had a surplus in trade since 1982, or nearly thirty years, and even back then, it was only the gusher of still relatively new North Sea oil development that sustained it. The current account, which includes income on overseas investment, looks little better. There’s been no current account surplus since 1984...

...In Britain, we long ago forgot about the importance of living within our means. The consequent misery visited on us in the financial crisis is the modern equivalent of the debtors’ prison to which Mr Micawber was eventually condemned. Yet still we don’t seem to have learned our lesson. Despite a near 25pc devaluation in the pound since the start of the financial crisis, one of the biggest devaluations ever – which should in theory make British goods and services more competitive – we are still importing far more than we are exporting.

Carrying over from the previous Drumbeat discussing the economic theory that higher prices will ensure increased oil reserves. That previous article used Texas as an example. But here's "the rest of the story".

From 1980 to 2005 oil production in Texas fell from 2.6 million bopd to about 1.06 million bopd...a 57% decline. From 2005 to 2010 the rate increased to 1.14 million bopd or an increase of 7%. And that 7% increased happened during one the highest oil price periods I've seen in my 36 years. Thus the theory is correct: "one of the predictable consequences of resources becoming more expensive is that higher prices will stimulate discovery, exploration and greater production on the supply side. And that's exactly what we're seeing now in Texas for oil and gas".

Of course, the theory doesn't say it will reduce the price of oil nor that such reactions will generate a significant new volume of oil. Just that folks will spend more and find more...but not necessarily proportionally more. The assumption is that more supply would decrease prices. Obviously that assumes a few minor requirements: consumption demand doesn't increase and previous existing production doesn't decline.

A huge amount of capital was invested to increase Texas production that 7% in 5 years. And a lot more capital is being pumped into the ground in our Eagle Ford play with impressive initial production rates of 800 to 1,000 bopd. Unfortunately these are very short lived rates. Typical decline rates of the EF completions are in the order of 90%. As long as there is an ever increasing rate of EF completions we'll see state wide rates increase. But only as long as the drilling frenzy continues...it will take at almost one new drilled per well just drilled a year or so ago to maintain a flat rate. But if drilling slows up dramatically for any reason the 90% decline rate will produce a shocking statewide decline. And it won't even take a drop in oil prices to end the EF play: there is a fixed number of wells that will ever be drilled. But as long as oil prices stay high and the public oil companies are held hostage by Wall Street's demand for y-o-y reserve increases the play will continue for years. But there will be a day when there are very few EF drilled. And there is an easy precedent to research: the Texas Austin Chalk play that was just as hot 32 years ago as the EF is today. There are still a few AC wells drilled (mostly for NG) but essentially nearly all the prospects have been drilled AND DEPLETED by now. If by magic we drilled 10,000+ EF in the next 12 months Texas production would jump 6 million bopd. But 5 years from today virtually all those wells would be strippers making less than a couple of hundred thousand bopd...if that. For some companies the Eagle Ford, as many of the fracture shale plays, are a real jewels. But they ain't another Ghawar Field...they just don't have the legs. And more importantly, IMHO, they won't save us from the worse of PO.

You have to understand the Cornucopians' point of view. On Fantasy Island, oil fields don't deplete.

And there are new supergiant fields all over the world, they're just where we haven't looked yet!

r4 - And the Rockman should get full credit for doing his part to prove where those fields aren't...just drilled a dang dry hole. At this rate all anyone has to do is drill where I haven't and they're bound to find something.

Disappointing, for sure. Nobody has drilled in northern MN that I know of. Surely that granite shield formation could hold massive amounts of oil...

That does bring up a question though: are there any closeout costs on a dry hole beyond pulling the rig?

It also seems the Cornucopians also never mention EROEI for getting production rises as compared to when the fields were new.

I think it would be great if the mainstream news would start to report what the average global barrel of oil costs to produce, and update that price from time to time....

The more sophisticated cornucopian view is that depletion, if unavoidable, should not matter because substitutes can always be found. This is probably true for almost all products. It ceases to be true when any product, like oil, begins to absorb a substantial fraction of GDP. The limit this places on new oil production cost applies to alternatives and obvious substitutes are clearly not available or they would already be in production.

What the model fails to understand is that the "product" in this case in energy. And energy is ruled by the laws of thermodynamics. You can't just substitute it at will. You need an energy source, or else you'll have to walk home.

EROEI does place an absolute physical limit. I am trying to say that the economic limit in a particular country can occur well before the physical limit that applies to the Saudi's.

Right. They may run out of money to make the needed investments well before aby Net Energy Calculation comes up with a loss.

You need an energy source, or else you'll have to walk home.

Great line. I nominate it to be part of the rotating TOD quotes.

I 2nd that. But also want to point out that even to walk home, you need an energy source - food. We always need an energy source...

I'd printed it on a bumper sticker, if I had a car...

Then the pedestrian equivelent would probably be to have it tattood on your ass ;)

The New Geopolitics of Food
From the Middle East to Madagascar, high prices are spawning land grabs and ousting dictators. Welcome to the 21st-century food wars.


The Earth Is Full
Published: June 7, 2011


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending June 3, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.1 million barrels per day during the week ending June 3, 261 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased slightly last week, averaging 9.4 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.4 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.6 million barrels per day last week, down by 918 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.0 million barrels per day, 707 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged about 1.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 155 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 4.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 369.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.2 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.8 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.5 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 18.9 million barrels per day, down by 3.9 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 9.2 million barrels per day, up by 0.3 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 4.9 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.2 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

And this week's "adjustments"

Crude 221,000 bpd
Product 172,000 bpd

That's about 2.8 million barrels in stock with no EIA assigned source.

Also gasoline demand is reported up 0.3% on last year but propane is down 20% and "other oils" down 10%. Together with a distillate fall of 5% these items make up the 3.7% fall in total product supplied.

Can someone explain why, according to the EIA, propane and "other oils" demand has crashed relative to other products and compared to this time last year? Why was 20% less propane/propylene used in the US in May 2011 than in May 2010? That's a fall of 205,000 bpd.

"but propane is down 20%"

I don't know about you, but I'm not running my mosquito magnet this summer, because, well..., I like to eat.

Why was 20% less propane/propylene used in the US in May 2011 than in May 2010?

Propane is simply becoming to expensive to use. I have eliminated propane for heat in my house with a geothermal heat pump and have had to put a sign on my 2 1000 gallon propane tanks for heating my farm shop saying "Do Not Fill - Sorry I can't afford it". I will be working less in the shop next winter and heating it only with a wood stove - Unless propane drops dramatically in price between now and then.

I'm on propane for heating and cooking--
One has to learn to put on a sweater.
But I live in the Wine Country of CA.

Aren't you the one who superinsulated the exterior of your home? (8" of Foam or some such..) Any chance of extending that project to your shop?


"Other oil" is, according to the footnotes, whatever they need to make it balance. It regularly jumps up or down by huge amounts.

I'm really curious about the propane, though. Suspect it's mostly weather related, but does anybody have any numbers on how many people get connected to piped gas each year, or get a heat pump & get off propane? It seems like one of the points where the persistent cheapness of gas vs oil would eventually have an effect.

"Other Oils" is tracked and subdivided by the EIA - they just don't do it in the weekly report but do break it down in the monthly reports.

"Asphalt and road oil" use, for example, has plummeted over the last few years.

The latest monthly value is 280,000 bpd (March 2011).

Interesting graph. The decline probably tracks the decline in residential and commercial construction, since few new subdivision streets and driveways or shopping center / office parking lots are needed. Plus, local governments may be holding back on street repaving, although there seems to be a lot of federal stimulus program grant money being used for that.

Is This The End Of The Big Box Retailer?

New data from CoStar shows the square footage of new shopping centers developed in 2010 was a 40-year low. Specifically, 12 million square feet of shopping center space was completed in 2010, the slowest U.S. industry growth on record since at least 1971.

For comparison purposes:
- 184 million square feet of shopping center space was developed in 2006
- The 40-year average of new shopping center square footage developed each year in 132 million square feet.
While it's easy to say that this downturn is the result of a massive collapse in the U.S. real estate economy, it could also be the result of a new long-term economic reality (people shop online more, drive to malls/big box stores less due to higher gas prices, the consumer is deleveraging for the long-term).

The US has more retail square footage than it will ever need. The building of shopping centers is over. The future of construction is in renovation and improvement of existing space.

It probably is the end of the expansion of big-box retailers. As fuel prices continue to rise, and people abandon their cars and houses in the far-flung suburbs, and find themselves with less money to spend, big-box retailers will find themselves surrounded by empty parking lots.

The future will be in walkable neighborhoods and ones with good public transit. Somebody should send a memo to all the urban planners, and pink slips to all the freeway planners.

Idle Land Finds a Purpose as Farms for Solar Power

More developers are getting permits to put up solar farms instead of houses and malls. The planning boards are aware of the trend. The politically connected real estate interests are probably opposed, since they don't get the stream of commissions.

The first problem I have with these solar power developments is that they are making their money from government subsidies rather than generating electricity.

But where the farm really starts to pay off is in collecting Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, a type of clean energy credit, Mr. Zellner says. Rutgers can then sell the certificates in a market popular with companies that want to avoid penalties levied by the state on generators of polluting energy.

“You can see that, to date, they’ve offset $235,760 from their electrical usage, but they’ve earned certificates that they can sell for about $1.478 million,”

And the second problem is that, like many suburban shopping malls, they are taking productive farmland and converting it to other uses.

One of the largest solar farms in the nation, which will produce 20 megawatts on about 100 acres of former farmland in southern New Jersey, has been proposed by Panda Power Funds of Dallas ...

It is one thing to put a solar power farm on otherwise empty desert in Arizona, but it is another thing to put it on formerly productive farmland in the most densely populated state in the US.

It is one thing to put a solar power farm on otherwise empty desert in Arizona, but it is another thing to put it on formerly productive farmland in the most densely populated state in the US.

I think it depends on how you deploy the panels. If they are off the ground and provide partial shading only, then the crops are simply partially shaded and should require less water. So if you are water supply limited, a hybrid solar+crops farm should be able to crow a comparable amount of food. If you are not water, but sun limited, then there is a tradeoff.

Such large RECs are not sustainable. Eventually solar will be competing on the cost of power. I expect production costs to plummet rapidly enough that that day should come with a few years. In the meantime, subsidized plants are providing enough of a market (and revenues) to bring that happy day forward in time.

Both solar panels and plants require sunshine. If you put solar panels above the plants, they will block the sun and prevent the plants from growing. If you partially shade the plants, it will partially prevent their growth, but you won't get as much solar power. It's a pretty straightforward effect.

New Jersey is not exactly water limited - it averages 42 inches of rain per year (six times as much as Arizona). However, I suspect it is sun limited. Arizona would be a much better place to put solar panels.

Just make them the right colour. Or use them to provide insulation. Plants don't need all colours of light, and they do need to be warm enough. A polytunnel which is transparent to the photsynthesised frequencies and turns the rest into electricity would allow everyone to win.

If the PV panels wee puilt with single axis tracking, the amount of PV area would only amount to some 1/4 of the land area. The remaining area and the land under the panels could still be used for crops, though there would be less direct sunlight hitting the ground, which would reduce production. With single axis tracking, the kilowatt output per PV panel would be increased considerably. Better yet, the sharp peak at local solar noon would be avoided and the power provided would be nearly constant throughout the daylight hours (except for clouds), thus the maximum transmission capacity necessary would be reduced...

E. Swanson

And the second problem is that, like many suburban shopping malls, they are taking productive farmland and converting it to other uses.

So with that attitude, you must be absolutely horrified by corn or sugar plantations producing raw material for ethanol plants, eh? Remember, 1 hectare of solar collectors will provide as much energy output as 300 hectares of corn ethanol. After you stop the corn plantations, then c'mon back and we can discuss the solar.

So with that attitude, you must be absolutely horrified by corn or sugar plantations producing raw material for ethanol plants, eh?

Yes, that would be correct, I am absolutely horrified by them. The US converting 1/6 of the world's corn crop into fuel ethanol is causing skyrocketing food prices and riots in the Middle East and North Africa. Definitely a bad thing.

Bad roads ahead, it will take some time but unless Asphalt and Road Oil increase it will come.

More recycling of asphalt pavement + fewer new federal highways being built.


The wholesale price of propane is up considerably over last year's price. HERE's a GRAPH and data from the EIA. Looks like the price is about 50% greater that what it was last June. Given higher price and the delay in planting in the Midwest due to wet weather, some farmers might be holding off buying until they have a better estimate of their needs...

E. Swanson

A significant portion of propane consumption is farmers drying the corn. The corn crop in 2009 was very wet where the corn crop in 2010 was very dry. Farmers did not need to replenish their stocks.

True that much of the propane is used for grain drying. However, I "pre buy" on contract. Company gets my money and holds the propane till delivery requested, and I get the benefit of paying at usually the low priced time for gas. Not sure if other places have the same program.

How do you guess the quantity needed? It must vary greatly each year depending on the weather. Have you figured how many gallons per acre on average?

I attended the EIA energy conference in April, and I became less confident about the quality of the statistics coming out of the EIA. Here are the graphics from the presentation, although they are probably not going to be very helpful towards understanding these weekly adjustments. Some information about oil statistics is on pages 7, 8, 9 and 10:


Basically some weekly figures still appear unreliable, as some figures are not reconciled against others. Mostly that would be from the failure of supply and demand figures to balance out.

Back from the brink

Only one week ago, gasoline supplies in the Chicago area were critically low. Now as of today, most all refineries that experienced unexpected down time last week – including two major refineries near Chicago – have resumed normal operations. The EIA weekly report indicates that U.S. supplies of gasoline rose by 2.2 million barrels to 214.5 million barrels, driven by a jump of 1.6 million barrels in the Gulf Coast region and a 1.4 million-barrel build in East Coast inventories. Midwest gasoline stocks rose by 404,000 barrels, but were in general still low.

Still there were some areas of country where refinery operations were running below the desired capacity utilization level. U.S. refinery utilization rose 1.2 percentage points to 87.2 percent. Gulf Coast utilization rose 1 percentage point to 90.2 percent with the beginning of the summer driving season. However, East Coast utilization fell by 2.4 percentage points to 71 percent and Midwest utilization slipped by 2.2 percentage points to 89.1 percent, reflecting downed refineries in New Jersey and the upper Midwest respectively.

Since it is expected that refiners will increase operational utilization this current week, the US gasoline supply situation has improved from the near shortage situation in some areas of the upper Midwest and western Pennsylvania. Gasoline supplies also benefited from higher gasoline imports these past few weeks. Still it’s not yet clear if the current level of gasoline imports will be maintained. Parts of Russia even today are experiencing gasoline shortages, and Russian export restrictions may indirectly affect US imports.

Even with the Keystone pipeline resuming operations, next week’s oil supply may still show a drop due to the increased refinery activity, although not as great as this week’s large fall. According to the EIA’ short term energy outlook, issued yesterday, oil imports are expected to improve slightly for the balance of 2011 ( http://www.eia.gov/steo/ ). While OPEC has increased overall exports about 400,000 bpd from lows reached from about mid-April to mid-May, the erratic nature of KSA oil exports casts doubt on whether that will continue. If not, expect another flirtation with gasoline supplies approaching minimum operating levels in a few months.

Should Germany really be trying to save all the PIGS. Since, in 'post-peak oil'(PPO), oil use is a zero sum game. If all these countries improve their unemployment, wouldn't this increase demand for the finite black stuff? I mean, it is great to have more customers for your exports, but somebody has to sit out. Looks like they will have to make all their money on more expensive items, sold to fewer people.

They couldn't care less about the PIGS. They are trying to save their own banks. And French banks. And Dutch banks.

A quick update on the Lower Churchill Falls development which is expected to come into service in 2016:

In all, the Labrador hydro facility will pump out five terawatt hours of electricity each year. Of that, two terawatt hours will be consumed within Newfoundland and Labrador, while one terawatt hour will be shipped via undersea cable to Nova Scotia, which consumes 12 terawatt hours a year.

That leaves two terawatt hours for Nalcor Energy (a Newfoundland and Labrador Crown corporation) to sell to utilities in other provinces or the New England states.

"We believe that will be competitively priced energy and we think that New Brunswick will take advantage of it. We fully expect that we will do so here in Nova Scotia as well," said Tower, the CEO of Emera Newfoundland and Labrador.

See: http://nbbusinessjournal.canadaeast.com/journal/article/1412890

My hope is that a sizeable portion of the two TWh up for grabs will remain in our province. Most of our coal-fired power plants will be retired within the next ten to fifteen years, and if wind and tidal are to assume a more prominent role in meeting our needs we'll need this hydro-electricity for load balancing. Currently, we have 285 MW of wind capacity in place and at times wind supplies up to twenty per cent of our electricity demand. Pushing this much higher will be a challenge for us based on our present generation mix and limited interties.

The encouraging thing for me is that ten years ago virtually all of our electricity was generated by burning dirty coal and oil, and ten years from now the collective contribution of these two fuels will be cut in half. And if all goes well, another ten years after that, coal and oil will be eliminated altogether and one of the most carbon-intense utilities in North America will be transformed into one of the cleanest.


In my Our Finite World post Observations based on my trip to China, I come to the conclusion that China seems to be at risk for some of the problems others have:

The catch seems to be that much of this progress is being financed by loans. As long as growth speeds along, and the employment level is high and condominium values continue to rise, borrowers will have a reasonable chance of paying back their loans with interest.

The problem with these loans in China is the same as the problem in the rest of the world–it is hard to maintain the high level of growth needed to keep the whole system working, that is, enough people employed, and the values of the condominiums growing. It seems likely that some people will have trouble paying back their loans if the economy stumbles at all.

The problem is that as the government tries to cool the economy with higher interest rates, or as electricity prices naturally rise with higher coal prices, people will find their incomes squeezed.

Thanks for your insights. Two points you might want to keep in mind:

First, drought and the Three Gorges Damn have had significant effects down stream.


"Level of China's largest freshwater lake at record low"

In China, records have been kept for a very long time.

Second, in spite of the attitude classes you mentioned, there have been tens of thousands of protests across the country, many about the ecological destruction going on nearly everywhere, but about a wide range of other issues as well. The latest wave of protests is discussed here:


Another post by the same author

Planning for Higher Food and Energy Prices, and their Wider Impacts

A story the other day, from Bloomberg, had a little factoid that really grabbed my attention. The author stated 80% of China's wheat is irrigated. Whoa.

Checking, I found several references to 70% in the Chinese wheat region of the northern plains, still unseeingly high. Wheat is often termed the "desert rose" for it's place as the least water demanding of grains. In much of the US, wheat is produced in the drier areas, usually on soil moisture accumulated in the winter, or even the previous year. Irrigating wheat is ridiculed, though practiced where there is seemingly surplus irrigation water, like putting sugar on ice cream.

At 110 million metric tons, China has been the breakaway leader in world wheat production for some time, surpassing it's closest rival, India, by 20% or more and nearly double that of the US. But it exports very little. Most ALL is consumed domestically, most all is low protein, low quality not suitable for bread, only pasta. Think Ramen noodles. But past the stats is where it gets interesting. Production is of winter wheat, usually on land double cropped with another crop following the earlier wheat harvest. It is irrigated because most of the ppt falls outside its growing window, rainfed moisture is used by the second crop. So the wheat has to be irrigated. And irrigation has been the historical norm, falling after WWII, but rising dramatically again with the advent of the green revolution. (It's crop has quadrupled)

Now we enter a time of ppt drought, falling reservoirs, and declining water tables. With such a reliance on irrigated wheat to feed the most populous country, China's problems are much more dire than believed.

Interesting. I am wondering exactly how much of China's food is imported. Our tour leader said 50%, but that sounded awfully high. If there are problems with irrigating the wheat crop, there could be a big increase in needed imports all at once.

New wind turbines wring more energy out of mountain winds


Interesting that such a conceptually simple remedy has 1) such a positive effect - and 2) has taken so long to figure out.

Well, it is not quite that simple.

The "downwind" design is nothing new, but has a major problem - on each revolution, the blades pass through the wind shadow of the tower. This causes noise, leading to a "whup" as the blade passes behind the tower.

Even worse though, it causes a sudden offloading and reloading of the blade, which does not happen in front of the tower, so you end up with dramatically increased fatigue loading cycles on the blades.

This also causes vibration on the main bearings, shortening their life.

The best solution to his is to have a shroud on the tower that is an airfoil x-section, that rotates with the wind. This has been done for small home sized turbines, but you can imagine the challenges for a 3MW turbine.

Combine these vibration problems with the gusty wind in mountainous areas and you can see the fatigue life of the turbines heading south.

Still, Japan may have no choice.

The tilting mechanism has been tried before, but not employed as you need to have a downwind turbine for it to really work - which brings us back to the "tower shadow" issue.

All of this has been thought of before, and its worth thinking of again, but it's a classic case of solving one problem, and creating another.

I just got back from a clean tech forum where I had lunch with Corwin Hardham, founder of Makani Power. They are designing Airborne Wind Turbines that, IMHO, may be immune the these mountain wind problems.



Looks like an interesting concept, which is likely to be better than the KiteGen system. However, there are a few problems. There will be some wind speed at which the kite can't fly and that isn't obvious from that portion of the presentation I viewed. As the wind speed decreases, the kite will lose lift and must be recovered or it will crash. Looking at the graph of available wind, there will be considerable periods when the system can't produce any output, even with wind speeds high enough such that the kite can be flown. I saw not mention of the minimum flight speed of the kite at design altitude, although their graph of power vs wind shows output going negative below 4 m/s, presumably due to the use of the motor/generators to keep the kite in the air.

As the size of the kite increases and the mass goes up, I think it will be difficult to scale up the idea to a useful power output. One other problem is that the cable must also carry electricity to the ground. The mention of a 600Kw design implies a large heavy cable, at 500 volt DC, the current would be 1200 amps or at 5,000 volt AC, the current would 120 amps. Either case would require a thick cable, which would increase the drag as the kite flies faster than wind speed, thus reducing the possible output.

There's a rather gross problem with the use of the propeller/turbines for both power generation and thrust. That's the result of the fact that the airfoil on the propeller must be reversed between the two uses. That is to say, as a propeller, the top curve must face forward, while as a wind mill, the top curve of the airfoil faces aft away from the wind for best performance...

E. Swanson

If I remember correctly the Kite Gen does the generation on the ground and uses the kite string to spin the generator.


People complain about the pulsating "whup" even with the 'regular' design. Is it louder with the downwind design?

My understanding is that it is louder for downwind. With an upwind, the disturbed air behind the blade passes by the tower. With downwind, the blade in free air hits the disturbance (low pressure air) and then hits high pressure wind again - the variations in blade pressure are greater.

Things like swept (arced) blades can minimise this, but they create more twisting torque at the blade base.

Change on thing, others change too...

CNBC has breaking news bar on its website stating that Saudi Oil Minister says that Demand on OPEC will Outpace Supply by 1.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2011.

This is breaking news for CNBC - would it be considered breaking news for TOD ?

Edit: Ha - don't want to get "the Street" too riled up - banner taken down and no mention of this upon subsequent refresh of the website. What a circus.

If demand is above supply the seller has the option to raise price until demand and supply are equal. If not the primary seller then the resellers. If there is a free market demand always equals supply.

If he means lots of people would like cheap oil well of course that is true; but so what.

Perhaps we will have to wait for a FOIA or wikileaks story. Until then, searching news.google.com, I could only find this:

White House: oil supply not meeting demand

"We believe that we are in a situation where supply does not meet demand," Carney told reporters after an OPEC meeting did not result in a decision to increase supply.


I have a Youtube video on my computer where GWB says "supply is not meeting demand" on a question sent in by a watcher of the tv chanel. The White House have know for years, even officially.

Still available on CNBC as well though.

There is no such thing as a gap in supply and demand, ever... Oil-trade is an auction and therein lies the answer.Period.

To clarify and enhance this my claim it's easier to look at that concept 50-100 years into the future --- will there be a 80 mbd supply / demand gap at that time, when 'oil is gone for good'?

An interesting item on Drudge about the Education Department police (turns out the person they wanted was not even there):

Education officials break down Stockton man's door

According to the Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General, the case can't be discussed publicly until it is closed, but a spokesperson did confirm that the department did issue the search warrant at Wright's home.

The Office of the Inspector General has a law enforcement branch of federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations.

A S.W.A.T. team to deal with a student loan default? What will they do with Ms. Wright when they find her? Hold her in debtors prison until someone pays? If no one pays will they hold her until she dies of old age?

Two lessons gleaned, in my opinion:

1. If you owe people money, they have power over you.
2. Perhaps instead of loans, they could have paid-as-they-go for their education, or chosen a less expensive alternative (like going to junior college 1st, getting a job, then using that job to help pay for further education, etc).

But, we have a very efficient for profit educational system to feed. And they are quite skilled at convincing mediocre students that there life will be just great once they get the offered degree. Never mind you don't have money for it, we will fill out the paperwork....

Similar to the housing bubble, when you have an army of skilled marketers whose job is to convince you to overextent yourself, many lack the willpower or foresight to resist.

Or perhaps the initial reporting was wrong....

Drudge's headline described it as a student loan issue, but I noticed that the article didn't mention student loans, so I didn't use Drudge's headline.

If they find her do they break a few bones and explain that if she does not pay up next time they will kill her? Or maybe next time it is the kids bones they break?

Anybody know why the news reports of OPEC discussions breaking down is resulting in such a reserved price spike. I mean, minutes after the news, oil price spiked, but then nothing.

The talking heads on CNBC just said it was the most shocking OPEC meeting they had ever attended.

? did they offer any reason way it was shocking to them?

I think that they were mainly shocked that the OPEC members could not reach a consensus.

It seems like someone might eventually get the idea that they don't really have capacity to give away, except for possibly a bit of difficult to refine oil that buyers don't want, except at a very low price.

ed - Just a rumor I heard but supposedly the ran out of shrimp cocktails much earlier than usual. But that isn't confirmed yet.

To be honest I guess my cynic has reached a point where I don't believe anything at first glance. It's difficult for me to believe anything was said during the meeting that wasn't sent out in briefs days before. And the MSM is always ready to hype anything that will get them more coverage. The entire meeting may have been just one more off Broadway melodrama IMHO.

Rockman, Melissa Francis interviewed Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi after the meeting. He said that this was the worst OPEC meeting in history. It seems that some of the members got really upset and in the end just stormed out. The reason, I believe, is obvious. The Wall Street Journal nailed it: OPEC Acts Like Dallas Cowboys Behind a pay wall but available via Google.

OPEC's central tension is between haves and have-nots. The hawks have no incentive to raise quotas because they are running flat out anyway. The dovish Gulf states hold 83% of OPEC's spare capacity, excluding Iraq, according to the International Energy Agency. Saudi Arabia, which alone holds 72% of spare capacity, has its U.S. alliance to consider and legitimate worries about high oil prices undermining demand.

Well, they got the first two sentences right anyway. I have my doubts about how much spare capacity Saudi really has. But the rest of OPEC is producing flat out and want to continue to sell their oil for $115 a barrel. They are, I believe anyway, totally unaware of the recession/depression on the horizon. They think the gravy train they are on will continue forever, or until their oil runs out.

Ron P.

Ron - I guess once again I've given to much smarts credit to a powerful group of folks who you might think would have a common goal.

108 Giant Chinese Infrastructure Projects That Are Reshaping The World

So much for the "lack of innovation" in large scale projects.

Friedman Realizes the Wheels are Coming Off

Tom Friedman Wakes to the Nightmare

Tommy begins to suspect that flattening doesn't fix things, and "hot" and "crowded" are worse than he suspected.

You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?

A crude awakening?

Dick Lawrence

He does not mention population control he offers "sustainable economic model". So what is a sustainable economic model and how does it deal with increasing population?

Maybe like this?:


"And believe it or not, it's a population success story as well. To whittle its high birthrate, Bangladesh developed a grassroots family-planning program in the 1970s that has lowered its fertility rate from 6.6 children per woman in 1977 to about 2.4 today—a historic record for a country with so much poverty and illiteracy. Fertility decline has generally been associated with economic improvement, which prompts parents to limit family size so they can provide education and other opportunities to their children. But Bangladesh has been able to reduce fertility despite its lack of economic development."

Right but the death rate has to increase for population to even stabilize, much less decrease.

So who's going to take the hit?

Maybe an epidemic sweeps through and kills people randomly? Maybe higher food prices cause famine, unrest, and decreased immunity which leads to epidemics in a vicious cycle? Maybe young men go off to war somewhere at the order of the politicians? Maybe the elderly or infirm find there are no hospital beds for them?

When all of this comes to pass, will India or China or Europe or America accept them as refugees, even as their own regions are mired in population problems and economic stagnation?

There are 7 billion people and growing on this planet. Who is going to be the one to go gently into that good night?

"Right but the death rate has to increase for population to even stabilize"

No, the birth rate just needs to fall below the death rate.

Globally, the decadal decrease in the death rate has stalled recently at about 8.2 deaths per 1000 people per year, and is predicted to start rising within the next decade or so just for demographic reasons. And the birth rate has been falling--from near 20 births per 1000 people per year in 2010 to near 19 this year. If the latter continues to drop about one per year, we should be able to reach zero population growth in a decade or so without any of the dire recommendations you prescribe (of course, they are happening anyway).




Of course, we all eventually go into that good night eventually, whether gently or raging, raging against the dying of the light.

You must wait for the dieing generation to die in such large numbers as the newborn generation is born. In other words; when the number of people in that age segment that is dieing rapidly (IE old people) is equal in size to the number of 0 to 1 year olds, we have a stable population.

Now assume we had growth generation by generation for ages. Every generation is larger than the previous ever was. Now we change birth rates so every generation is smaller than the last one. Untill the generation beeing born is smaller than the generation dieing, we still have an increasing population. In case of China, after decades of 1 child policy, they still grow.

Decreasing birth rates radicaly can of course shorten the wait, as well as reduction in life expectancy.

But we are currently adding 70M people a year to the planet, so by the time population levels off we will have added another 350M people on that timeframe.

We are already consuming more food than we are growing.

We haven't yet seen the full effect of unaffordable oil on third world food production.

We haven't seen the effect of the collapse of the economic system on global food distribution.

We haven't got 10 years.


For all of these reasons and more, I am expecting an increase in the global death rate over then next decade, at least. Whether this is matched with an increased birth rate has yet to be seen.

If we had ten years, it is not outside the realm of possibility that pop could stabilize and start to drop in that time frame without massive die off. But we probably don't and die of will probably start in.

Of course, to the extent that the early deaths are those of the poorest, even vast die offs will have almost no impact on consumption of global resources and pollution of global commons, since the top 7% globally consume about half the resources.

Now if the top ten or twenty percent were dispatched somehow, or if they all took and kept vows of poverty and chastity, and if a new elite didn't immediately arise and take their place, theoretically the rest without changing much could probably live well on the remaining resources if they kept population growth in check. It is now-kicking-in feedbacks of GHG's that would still do them in, probably, at this point.

And those "if"s are not likely to turn to whens any time soon(vast understatement there).

IMO the near elimination of childhood diseases has allowed an increasing percentage of children to survive into childbearing age, particularly in the western world. Developing nations also are benifitting from better medical care, education and immunization.

Better survival rates of course allows parents to stop at one or two children. That means more money for entertainment spending, including tourism and consumerism, excellent to fuel a growth economy.

Of course perceptions can change with hard times, unemployment and low or zero disposable income to ensure good medical and dental care along with good nutrition for the young. Good education could also decline.

I would expect birth rates to rise steadily if we fail to maintain low infant mortality.

Bangladesh is one of the cities I visit in the course of work. A journey through the streets of Dhaka is a sobering experience. A decline in the birthrate is a good thing, but with the predicted population growth (the NG article above gives an estimate of 250 million by 2100 - up from the current 160 million or so)it is very hard to see how this growth will be accommodated.

The country is heavily dependent upon its domestic (natural) gas energy supply for transport, industry and agriculture. The current 'shortage' is about 20% of the demand. The result is that new industries and new houses are denied access to gas, limiting potential for growth, and making domestic living conditions more difficult. Rolling power cuts are standard. Gas produces fertilzers which support the crops. Times will be very tough ahead for Bangladesh - and that is with the current population of 160 million.

we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less.

We do have to move toward a better understanding of what brings happiness and of course toward using less, whether by choice or otherwise, but notice that old devil GROWTH is still in there. That tells you the author doesn't really get what is coming.

Also, one must always keep in mind the question of "Why am I being told this?" when reading an imperial mouthpiece like Friedman in an official propaganda outlet like the NYT. In a time when wealth is more highly concentrated in the hands of the few than it was even in the age of the Robber Barons, it might be very handy if a trend of happy minions gleefully learning to live with less got started. Because less is what we will have, but that's not the case for everyone, and those who still have would like you to be happy with your lot as those "austerity programs" come your way.

Twilight, thank you. I think you have nailed it. :)

Friedman imperial mouthpiece check, NYT propaganda rag check, wealth concentration check, austerity for everyone else check.

The whole "you first" mentality is part of the reason we're screwed. As long as someone is driving an SUV, we all feel entitled to drive SUVs.

I think you missed the point, or perhaps I missed yours. I think learning to use less is the most important thing anyone can do. We will have to, there is no other choice. But one can do that and still resent those who have no intention of using less, and even worse those who are trying to manipulate others in order to gather an even bigger share. Yes, it pisses me off to see people roaring around in giant SUVs and pickups - but it's not envy or because I want one, it's because I see the destruction it is causing.

There seems to be an idea that our problems are due to either fundamental problems (like resource limits) OR they are due to corrupt people ripping us off. In fact it is usually both. Crisis and chaos provide the most opportunities for those who want to take advantage.

If you want to destroy the car, remove its "status symbol" effect. If everyone looked at the SUV driver with the scorn they deserve, there would be a lot less of them. Actually that will probably happen anyway now.

It's always seemed strange to me that a creature that needs daily exercise should expend so much time and money trying to become as lazy and weak as possible.

ie, we need to change the old quip "first kill all the lawyers" to include "and millionaires and billionaires"--or at least to first relieve them of the onerous burden of their excess assets.

I too happen to think we should reconsider the sources of true happiness, but what's sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander--so it should be the wealthiest leading the way to discovering the joys of austerity.

One advantage of a widespread awakening to the fact that we are in a world of ever fewer resources and pollution sinks could be that people may be less deluded into thinking that they are about to be the next billionaire, so they will be less tolerant of allowing the same to exist in the same world as a billion people without enough food to eat.

Nah, Lawyers, Accountants, Economists, Politicians, Advertisers/Marketeers & Car Salesmen first, it will make everyone feel better. Think of it as the 'B' Ark solution.

Then the elderly, working down to a "Logan's Run" solution.

No point going after the billionaires, the wealth isn't real and they are too clued up to get caught.

Where are they anyway?

we need to change the old quip "first kill all the lawyers" to include "and millionaires and billionaires"--or at least to first relieve them of the onerous burden of their excess assets.

The phrase has another meaning:

I warned you guys last year that a World Series with the Texas Rangers in it was a strong sign that the End of the World may be at hand.

But then the Rangers lost the World Series to the Giants, thus postponing doom.

I wonder how many decades will go by until we can no longer afford Major League Baseball. My guess is only a few. It is true that we had major league baseball before oil, but with a decline in real disposable income, prices for tickets will become unaffordable except to the wealthy and a small upper-middle class. Maybe we'll just have greatly scaled back major leagues, with pay of players about ten percent of what it is now, or even lower than that.

Wishful thinking. The Romans kept their mob of brainless dimwits occupied with panem et circenses for much longer than anyone reading this will live, and on a standard of living far lower than the US or Western average will become (short of a huge nuclear war) anytime soon. So will "we". Sure, big-league tickets are already widely unaffordable, but that's what TV or the Intertubes are for.

Electronic media aggregate so many people that relieving such a huge crowd of $20 million per year per "star" may remain a piece of cake for a very long time. Nor is there any political problem to speak of: even The Progressive now has a columnist who regularly shills for massively overpaid sports "stars" on the grounds that "owners" are more overpaid still.

Somehow, if you make a lot of money producing or organizing the production of practical things everyone demands and uses in everyday life, you're an evil wicked devil who should be thrown to Hugo Chavez's wolf-pack, or at least grilled endlessly and mercilessly by a bunch of corrupt, supercilious Congresscritters who never did a useful lick of work in their entire lives. But if you make a lot of money engaged in utterly useless imbecilic activity for the sake of moronic "entertainment", you're an angel, and it's all good.

Truly "we" are a strange lot.

Within fifteen years I expect that real disposable per capita income in the U.S. will be at half the current level. The disposable income to go to high-priced ballgames will just not be there, nor will the income be available to subscribe to high-priced TV sports channels.

I expect that real salaries in major league sports will fall at roughly the rate as real disposable income per capita. Game tickets or extra TV channels are luxuries, and people will need more and more of their declining income to buy food and energy and other necessities.

For the past fifty years there has been a tendency for more and more of household incomes to go to professional sports, but trends do not last forever.
We'll still have baseball for a good many years to come, but ticket prices and player salaries will fall in real terms--perhaps drastically, back to the levels of say, the nineteen fifties. In other words, we may keep "major" league basball, but the salaries and ticket prices will be more like what is now the case for minor league teams.

I would like to think so, but as you know from our local experience, even in the midst of our current recession, politicians spend time considering throwing raising taxes for nothing else but for stadiums so dimwits can watch drug addled millionaires owned by cynical billionaires hit balls with stick and throw pig skins at each other.

Look at the popularity of soccer (their 'football') in much of the rest of the world, even/especially where there is much less to go around.

In a slightly more sane world, the enormous money and resources wasted on the military, advertising, pro-sports, and the whole insurance/finance/banking/realestate/pharmaceutical...set of rackets were redirected toward powering down, insulating houses, and creating alternatives, there would be no problem with peak energy. But we seemed locked in a kind of mindless mindset, a bad dream that we can't wake ourselves from.

Time to go out enjoy the bit of nice weather we have between 103 yesterday and highs barely reaching 60 with rain coming up (at least the weather guy assures us that it won't snow!)

I agree more with Don on this one. When push comes to shove, people take care of the bills first and the trivialities second.

Professional sports are due for a major contraction.

For people to watch sports on TV live, there has to be something there. Half empty stadiums and sterile, uninteresting games won't cut it.

Won't be surprised if 20 years from now we are sitting around watching reruns of games taking place now, "oldies sports channel."

Baseball was a big deal during the Depression/Rehearsal of the '30s, though this time may be different. I expect that regional/minor league sports may see a resurgence. People will always need competition and heros, especially those that can't compete themselves. This assumes most folks won't be placing their bets at Thunderdome. Two men enter ...

I do wonder how much has to be there. "Reality" TV, completely free of any reality or content, seems to be doing at least OK, and seems to have edged out much other stuff.

Its pretty easy to hook audiences on that stuff. Who will be voted off tonight? Gotta watch the whole thing and worry whether my favorite will survive into the next round! Of course the stuff is cheap to produce, which I suspect is the real attraction for media executives.

The expansion of all the major sports leagues in the US to continent-spanning enterprises was all post WW2, in the era of extra very-cheap energy. I think these leagues will be forced to regionalize and contract over the coming decades. Bring back the Pacific Coast League.

Yep ,probably end of the world.

It was the Hippies Vs The Rednecks, and the Hippies won.
End of the World, for sure.

I will begrudgingly give credit to Friedman and the NYT for this. Normally I wouldn't consider either of them worth a second of my time, but everybody's human, and the more people who come around, the better.

The good news are still comming in. In todays issue: Worlds fish stocks more severely fished out than previously thought.

According to the article cod can actually be 1.5 meter long. I have always thought they where smaller than that, but I now know it is because I have never lived in days when they were alowed to grow to that length.

Original article here:


Machine translation for those of you who don't read swedish below. The article have some graphics worth checking out anyway.

The word "utfiskningen" is something the machine could not translate. It means "fishing out", fishing till there is no more fish left to catch.

Eight of nine fishes now utfiskade
Published June 8, 2011 - 10:55
Updated June 8, 2011 - 15:53

A new report shows that utfiskningen of the world seas' numbers is more disaster even than earlier believed.

In a new study from the university in British Columbia in Canada has researchers studied how a lot fish it be in the world seas today compared with years 1900. The result is amazing. Eight ninth of the fish numbers are utfiskade. Only the last 50 years have two thirds of consisted been gone fishing out.

- The history of fishery in Europe is a tragic statement, says Uta Bellion on the institute Pew that lies behind the survey. The overexploitment has decreased fish consisted productivity and weakened the fisheries societies that is depending on them.

The fisheries big already on 17:th century
Although the effectiveness in the fisheries industry has increased during 2000:th century then most of it of utfiskningen has happened so has nevertheless the activity been taking place during long time. Already on the 1640ies had for example Holland between 700 and 800 fishing boats, manned of average 11.000 and 12.000 man - and one caught already then 50.000 tonne fish a year.

Villy Christensen and his team of colleagues implemented the survey through looking on ecological systems, territory maps over the marine bottom, catch reports and statistical analysis of the Atlantic's access on cinema mass during the century.

Utfiskningen has been taking place long time
A problem that is elucidated through the report is that fact that the fishing industry's own objectives around how one will limit the fisheries so that the levels reach a desirable condition is based on dates from only some decades. Although one wants to backspace to the level that adviced for example on 70ies so sees one through the report that the world seas where relative utfiskade already then.

Years the each 1900 average height on the cod that was gone fishing in the north sea between one and one and a half metre, and the age eight to ten years. Today, the intersection length is 50 centimetres and its age younger than three years.

1949 caught men that most blåfenad tonne fish off all years in nordeuropa: 5.485 tonne. Today, one catches none at all, the fisheries are closed since fisheries are out.

The report as been taken forward of Ocean 2012 and Pew Environment Group is a part of the the other annual fisheries week, it 4: e to 12: e June.

The English translation of "utfiskningen" would be "overfishing". The classic example is the the Newfoundland cod fishery, which existed for over 500 years (European fishermen were fishing off Newfoundland before Columbus "discovered" America), and peaked in 1968 at over 800,000 tons of fish. It was once Newfoundland's largest industry and employed over 40,000 people.

Overfishing caused the collapse of the fish catch, and in 1992 the Canadian government imposed a temporary ban on catching cod fish off Newfoundland. The fish stocks did not recover, and in 2003 the Canadian government declared the Newfoundland cod an endangered species and made the closure of the cod fishery permanent.

There is no more cod fishing allowed in Newfoundland now, except for sports fisherman (maximum 5 fish per fisherman and 15 fish per boat).

Researcher shows fishing has reduced salmon size in Alaska

...Kendall, in her presentation to the International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria, British Columbia, last month suggested that it’s not just fishing, or even over-fishing that is the problem; instead it’s the practice of going after the biggest fish that is really mucking things up. As she sees it, the largest salmon, generally pregnant females, who are caught in nets specifically designed to grab larger fish while letting the smaller ones pass through, wind up in the nets along with their egg carrying genes for a larger size, which are then lost when the fish is caught. The result is a disproportionate number of smaller fish representing each new generation, which of course leads to smaller and smaller fish as fishermen are forced to adjust down their net sizes.

Some have suggested that the same practice in the southern Gulf of St Lawrence in the North Atlantic, led to the collapse of cod fisheries there in the 1990’s and now explains why the fish have not been able to recover. What took thousands or even millions of years of evolution to accomplish, has been undone in just a couple of centuries of human fishing practices.

True. The cod in the Baltic has been proven to have become evolutionary smaller several years ago. If we permanently stop fishing them they will still never go back to original size.

At least here in Washington State, we are seeing more and more maximum size limitations.

As in: Largemouth bass; "Only fish less than 12" may be retained except that 1 over 17" may be retained."

For Walleyes the minimum size is 16" and only 1 over 22" may be retained.

And so on. The salmon and steelhead rules are so incomprehensible that I gave up on them.

The rules in Washington state are irrelevant, because everyone doesn't have to play by them. Since the tribes can do whatever they want when it comes to fishing due to treaty rights, it really doesn't matter much what limits they put on the sportsmen, the end result is going to depend on how much restraint the tribes show. Human nature being what it is, I wouldn't get your hopes up for large scale wild fish recovery unless everyone plays by the same set of rules, and even then, its a longshot.

This strikes me as the same dubious logic behind alt energy refusniks where the Bad Chinese will never stop growing, so what's the point? All while China goes far harder at alt energy than we do. I'm thinking I'd trust Native Americans with the fish long, long, long before I'd trust we palefaces. Much like we vs. the Chinese, we're the ones that depleted the stocks in the first place.

A more recent example is the somali pirates. When international fish-factoryes moved in and cleaned the waters of all that could swim, they started piracy. Somehow they just don't get it that fishing at 400% initial regrowth volumes can kill of a population in a few years.

This goes along with the poll a few days about that had almost half of the people did not think they would ever invest in the stock market again.

CNN Poll: Obama approval rating drops as fears of depression rise

President Barack Obama's overall approval rating has dropped below 50 percent as a growing number of Americans worry that the U.S. is likely to slip into another Great Depression within the next 12 months, according to a new national poll.


Forty-eight percent say that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year - the highest that figure has ever reached.

Very strong words from oil and gas analyst Michael E. Lynch.

Shale oil important in Texas but has limited potential as game changer

Crude oil at $60/bbl would terminate many projects like the Eagle Ford. With today's elevated prices, in the range of $100/bbl, many observers laugh at the possibility of a return of lower prices. The facts are that the U.S. is in the opening days of a long, long depression that will plague the nation for at least another decade.

Bold mine.

Ron P.

Does that mean mr. Lynch has officially defected to the doomer camp? If so, who holds the cornucopian fort now?

Got our Michael Lynch's mixed up here. Michael C. Lynch is a Cornucopian economist.

This is Michael E. Lynch (think Engineer).

Oil reserves

In the link above (World oil reserves rise in 2010 - BP) it stated that the world discovered 6B in excess oil relative to what it produced? do we know from where those reserves are coming? Are they counting Iraq and Iran last year increase in official reserves? or is it another source?; I simply don't remember 30B added to global oil reserves last year.


N - Remember they are talking about reserves that aren't producing yet for the most part. Maybe not even developed or in the process of developing. So in the end PO isn't about reserve volumes but production rates. BP's reports would be very interesting if they included their best as to when and how high a rate these 6 billion bbls of oil will come on line.

Sure Rockman, I fully agree with you; this is why I was curious about the location or nature of those reserves; for example if the majority was oil sands or deep water in remote areas, indeed development lead times and production volumes will be much different from a conventional onshore.


N - Just a WAG so I could be very wrong but I suspect they are projecting recovery from various trends like the fractured shale plays. Companies seldom give out checkable reserve numbers on specific fields they've discovered.

I disagree. Of course reserves are important! How many times has the graph showing reserves being less than produced been posted on TOD? How on earth can it be that the moment the increase in reserves is GREATER than the volume produced that it suddenly becomes irrelevant?

N-M: I might be wrong but I am consistant. I care little what someone states reserves to be be whether it's global reserves or reserves attributal to a field I'm looking to buy. I don't care if a field has proven reserves of 10 million bbls: I'll pay around 5 - 7 years payout of the net cash flow even if that means I'm only paying $10/bbl. I'm buying cash flow...not oil in the ground. That 6 billion bbls of reserves won't help much if it takes 100 years to produce. I don't care if you can prove for a fact to me and TOD that they discovered 200 billion bbls of new reserves last year. Show me the timing and projected production rates of those new reserves. Then we'll have something to chat about.

I'm working on several of the new Brazilian developments - and on average the answer will be from 3-7 years after discovery. Brazil is set to increase oil production to 6 million bbls/day by 2020: And believe me - They WILL achieve this increase. The reserves are proven, it is now just a matter of producting it. And yes. They (we - the suppliers) etc. know how to do it and have a proven track-record of fast-track projects in Brazil.

And yes. They (we - the suppliers) etc. know how to do it and have a proven track-record of fast-track projects in Brazil.

Just because you can do something, should you? And how long before Brazil peaks?

Curious Native Brazilian.

N - that is a bold statement! Time will tell. Good luck with sticking to those time scales. The beauty of the oil drum is that in 3-7 years you will be able to bang your own drum or hide in shame - so long as the internet continues to power-up on demand!

I think the Brazilians are being wildly overoptimistic, but that's probably in their nature as Latin Americans.

I would expect to see a smaller increase over a longer time frame. However, they are in much better shape than most oil producing countries and will probably do very well economically from it. Producing less oil per year over a longer period of years would be a good thing for them, not a bad thing.

NM, do you make reductions to your estimates of oil reserves when they are officially downgraded? Libra doesn't look as good as some of the earlier hopes....

Which of the numbers did you include in your 2010 reserve growth estimate of 36 billion barrels?


RIO DE JANEIRO, May 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's offshore Libra
oilfield likely holds about 5 billion barrels, the
director of the National Petroleum Agency said on Thursday,
much less than the 8 billion it had previously estimated.


Robin Yapp in Sao Paulo

4:08PM BST 30 Oct 2010

Comments3 Comments

Reserves could be as high as 15 billion barrels, almost twice initial estimates, according to the ANP.

If this figure proves to be right it would make Libra the biggest discovery in the Americas since Mexico discovered the Cantarell field in 1976.

It would mean that the field contains almost twice as much oil as the nearby Tupi field and would eclipse Brazil’s total proven reserve base of 14 billion barrels on its own.

The graph you're thinking of is discoveries, a basically geologic thing. Reserve increases are based on economics, technology (& politics), and can apply to fields discovered 50 years ago.

Yes they can. But they usually don't. And a large proportion of the reserves added in 2010 are from NEW discoveries. I will do an updated discoveries graph when I have a bit of time. Discoveries have now greatly exceeded production in 2009 and 2010. Remember: High oil prices give discoveries after 3-5 years and incrased production after 5-10 years. We will now be seeing the increases caused by the high oil prices in 2005-2008. Oil production is set to greatly increase over the coming years with Brazil and Iraq leading the way.

So what do you have for a URR of crude oil?

I don't. And I think that the belief that anyone does have a good figure is part of the problem.

What I do know is that when I was working at an energy information centre in 1990 I was instructed to tell the public that the world would be out of oil in 30 years time. At the time I was young and that sounded far, far, into the future. Now, 21 years later - I am highly confident that there will be a high-level of oil production for at least the coming 30 years. During the last 21 years r/p has been fairly stable. Over the last 2 years new discoveries and increases in proven reserves have increased rapidly.

About 10 years ago I was involved in finding one of the first oil fields located at 7,000 m subsurface. 5 years ago huge amounts of oil was discovered sub(pre)-salt in Brazil. When oil was found in the North Sea nobody was expecting it. Perhaps Exxon's find yesterday in the GoM is the first of many? Perhaps there are 100 times bigger fields in the pre-salt of West Africa? (Not unlikely considering this is the same structure as Brazil). Perhaps there are even bigger fields at greater depths?

Even with all your "brilliant" models you have to make a number of critical assumptions such as: "There will be no game-changers". Ie. there will be no totally new areas of oil found. NOBODY can calculate the actual URR in the world. You can only estimate a URR based on certain assumptions. So far on TOD the assumption is always that nothing big and new will be found. That assumption was made in 1990 when I first entered the energy business. That assumption was made in Norway before the Ekofisk field was found. That assumption will keep on being proved wrong to a greater or lesser degree. Again. And Again.

When I joined TOD in 2006 there was pretty much a consensus that world oil production would start falling within days. It didn't. It has increased since.

So far on TOD the assumption is always that nothing big and new will be found. That assumption was made in 1990 when I first entered the energy business. That assumption was made in Norway before the Ekofisk field was found. That assumption will keep on being proved wrong to a greater or lesser degree. Again. And Again.

When I joined TOD in 2006 there was pretty much a consensus that world oil production would start falling within days. It didn't. It has increased since.

The 1972 Texas peak lined up with the 1999 North Sea peak:

As I have noted several times, if we look at North Sea oil fields whose first full year of production was 1999 or later these post-peak oil fields had a substantial peak of about one mbpd in 2005 (versus the overall peak of about 6 mbpd, C+C, in 1999), but these post-peak fields only served to slow the overall 1999 to 2009 decline rate to about 5%/year.

The key question now is can conventional discoveries + slowly rising unconventional production keep global oil production on an upward slope, i.e., can new conventional discoveries + unconventional production offset the declines from older fields and add new net production? So far, the answer has been no.

At the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase in global C+C production we would have been at about 86 mbpd in 2010, versus the 74 mbpd that the EIA currently shows for 2010, which is about the same rate as 2005, and we have seen a cumulative shortfall in global crude production, between what we would have produced at the 2005 rate and what we actually produced in 2006 to 2010 inclusive.

Even with all your "brilliant" models you have to make a number of critical assumptions such as: "There will be no game-changers".

My entire book is based on the application of fat-tail statistics, so your knowledge level on this subject looks awfully shallow to me.

How on earth can it be that the moment the increase in reserves is GREATER than the volume produced that it suddenly becomes irrelevant?

If the BP report is to be believed, in 2010 the world consumed 30 billion barrels of oil and "discovered" 36 billion barrels (or at least booked 36 billion barrels of new reserves) for a net increase of 6 billion barrels. The only thing is that there has not been a similar increase in reserves for decades.

It's a case of taking one step uphill after skidding downhill 20 feet. You have to have more than one good year in 20 to be able to claim you are making progress toward replacing the reserves you consumed.

Funny how all peak oilers trust BP/IEA/EIA if they show lower discoveries than production. The moment they show higher discoveries than production you (they) claim the figures are rubish! Please remember that in 2010 HUGE NEW FIELDS were discovered around the world. Tupi in Brazil is REAL.

Funny how all peak oilers trust BP/IEA/EIA if they show lower discoveries than production.

Some of us know too much about BP/IEA/EIA to completely trust their numbers. In particular, I know too much about BP. It's just a giant multinational oil company, and has its own particular view of the world, which may or may not be more accurate than Shell, ExxonMobile, Chevron, etc, etc. It is just cited because BP publishes its Annual Review, which the others do not.

BP's Review is fairly useful, but has to be taken with a grain of salt because BP does not have any particular insight into what is going on at Saudi Aramco, National Iranian Oil company, Iraq National Oil Company, and the other National Oil Companies which own the BIG world oil reserves these days.

Please remember that in 2010 HUGE NEW FIELDS were discovered around the world. Tupi in Brazil is REAL.

Huge is relative - I would describe the latest finds as "fairly big". The last HUGE oil field found in the world was Mexico's Cantarell field, discovered in 1976. It had nearly 20 billion barrels of oil and once produced over 2 million b/d, but its production has collapsed in the last few years to less than 500,000 b/d.

At this point in time all the world's oil producing countries except Saudi Arabia are producing at capacity. At the same time, world oil demand - particularly from China and other developing countries - is increasing rapidly, so there is a serious imbalance between supply and demand developing.

The Brazilian discoveries are nice, but China alone can use up the productive capacity of these fields faster than Brazil can put them on production.

The thing Nordic_Mist fails to understand is that it matters not if oil production would actualy increase. The important thing is that it must increase <>FAST ENOUGH, and that is important enough to validate both bold and uppercase letters. If it does not grow at 1.5 million barrels per day each year, we have a problem.

And given the poor result in that area from 2004 and forward, and the long lead times of these new ultra deep finds, that just ain't gonna happen.

It's simpler than that. Discoveries fluctuate enough that you can get huge spikes year to year. Oil reservoir sizing is fat-tailed, so that has a huge effect on the statistics. The numbers of finds are small enough that the occasional large field can strongly effect the total average discovery. It still shows a gradual diminishing over time.

I have it all explained in The Oil ConunDrum but I doubt Nordic_Mist will crack that open. After all, he has deals to make and money to rake in.

What the report says is:

In 2010, increases in India, Brazil, Russia, Uganda, Columbia, and Ghana outpaced declines in Mexico and Norway.

According to the report, India's reserves increased from 5.8 to 9.0 billion barrels, Brazil's from 12.9 to 14.2, Russia's from 76.7 to 77.4, Columbia's from 1.2 to 1.9, and Ghana's and Uganda's got lost in "Other Africa" which increased from 0.7 to 2.3.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's reserves declined only 100 million barrels, from 264.6 billion barrels to 264.5, despite the fact that they produced 10 billion barrels during the year. The other OPEC producers are similar - there were big volumes of production but the reserves remained the same.

So, I think the BP report needs to be taken with a grain of salt - they are reporting what the national governments said, without any real attempt to vet the numbers.

The figures are interesting. BP actually revised their historic consumption values if you compare the report to the 2010 edition, standard practice perhaps?

In any case, the data show a marked jump in per capita energy consumption over the last year:

IAWN - everything past '96 is off the right margin. Can you/someone shrink this graphic? Thx!

Looks fine on my screen...

however, there are several things you can do if you don't have the screen width to see the whole graph.

1) Zoom out, by holding Ctrl and pressing - (or rolling your mouse wheel while holding Ctrl, or selecting "Zoom out" from the "View" draw-down menu). This will shrink the text also, so you may need to scroll upwards afterwards

2) Viewing just the graph in your browser - right-click on the graph and choose "View picture" from the pop-up menu

3) Download the picture so you can view it in a picture viewer of your liking - right-click on the picture, choose "Save Image As", then preferrably give it a descriptive name and/or put it somewhere on your computer where you will find it later

Thanks for the tip-off clifman - didn't anticipate the difference in screen resolutions!

This is a link to the full-size version: http://i.imgur.com/N0nwB.png

Here's a small version which hopefully fits on most screens -

As ever, I wonder what the NET per capita graph would look like. We know that oil has fallen from ~50:1 to ~15:1 over that time frame, which means the NET oil figure would drop by ~5% (2% lost to EROEI at 50:1, ~7% lost at 15:1). Coal as well has a significantly lower EROEI than 50 years ago, NG EROEI falling precipitously... So just as a rough approximation, knock 15% off the total, and it goes back pretty close to flat. It's that old running faster to stay in place quip. And as gross begins to falter... well, that's when George Jetson slips into the belt of the treadmill... No one who matters seems to get this, and I'm just some damn hillbilly.

Yes, I'd also be very interested to see this graph. Unfortunately it's a lot harder to source figures for!

But just as a rough indicator I find it interesting. As you say, once the gross graph begins to descend then it would likely be a sign of tough times ahead. I thought that's what we were seeing from the 2009 data but that seems premature given the most recent jump in 2010.

Well, IMHO, we are right there staring into the abyss... but with blinders on, compliments of this culture that led us to said precipice, of course.

Nit - once gross starts to decline, given that we know net as a result of EROEI is already declining ahead of gross, I would say it's not a sign of 'tough times ahead', but rather a too-late wake up call that tough times are already upon us. Hence my abyss metaphor...

Happens all the time here at TOD. I just happilyright clickand select "view image" and it pops up in a new shiny window forme to watch. Depends on your browser but it should work like that on most.

Thx K, IAWW & JW - all work, but upon zooming out 3x to see whole graph, almost had to reach for the reading glasses...

Resources: Oil in the ground.
Reserve: Oil we can afford to pump up with profit.

When oil prices rose,some oil was transfered from the resource to reserve cathergory. It was never the matter of discovery, only of booking.


There is a thread over at peakoil.com where somebody maintains all discoveries in a running total. If you want specifics go there and look for oilfinder2 posts.

many thanks goghgoner.


Is oilfinder2 still the PO denier he used to be? Can you trust their numbers, if so?

I think Oilfinder2 is the same guy known as Abundance.Concept on TOD.

Rock: I hope your AC is still working

Ariz. Fire Threatens 40% of El Paso’s Power

El Paso Electric Co. (EE), supplier of power to an oil refinery and the U.S. Army’s Fort Bliss, said it’s seeking alternative power supplies should an Arizona wildfire cut electrical lines from Palo Verde, the nation’s largest nuclear generating plant.

The Wallow Fire is on track to reach within three days high-voltage links that deliver 40 percent of the power used by 371,000 homes and businesses in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico, Teresa Souza, a spokeswoman for the El Paso, Texas- based utility owner said today in an interview. The blaze, which started May 29, has scorched an area 21 times larger than Manhattan.

The utility warned yesterday it would begin cutting power temporarily to parts of its service area as a “last resort” to avoid a wider blackout.

S - Not to worry. Much of our e comes from the S Texas Nuclear Plant. But the story does tie in with the chats about our complexity/vuneralbiites and all the little tipping points surrounding us.

IIRC, ~ 20% of Albuquerque's trons come from Palo Verde.

In a related story, as I drove home from work ~3 hours ago the sky above and to the East was remarkably clear and electric blue...the Sandia Mountains ~ 1-1.5 mile East were crystal-clear.

When I looked west I saw a all of smoke miles pat ABQ's West mesa.

About an hour ago the smoke descended upon us once again...it is worse now than ever...

Heinous smoke descending over the city every night since last Thursday...makes it very hard to sleep.

I guess I will see more ash blow off the car on the way work tomorrow...

I just got another call about the solar farms going up in our area, this time from one of my sisters. While she's aware that a sizable chunk of her electric bill goes to pay for coal and all that comes with it, including mountain top removal one state over and one state up, mountains that look just like the ones we live in, she "thinks it's awful, but wants to make sure I'm not considering leasing any of my land for a PV farm. She heard through the grapevine that I had called the company installing these facilities. The call was a fact finding call for an article I may submit to the local paper, though now I'm tempted to take this thing a bit farther.

This is feel good NIMBYism, come home to roost. Folks are all for "cleaning up the environment, green energy" and all that, as long as it doesn't affect their little lives. This is the same sister who's worried about 2012 and all that, but she doesn't want to look at a couple of acres of PV, (which she would likely not see anyway). It feeds my doomer side.

I felt my nausea returning.... needed to vent. Sorry.

I share your concerns, but when looking at the NC sites from the link you provided, it would appear that they used relatively flat land. Here in the mountains, flat lands are rather rare and probably should be better used for crops, as that tends to be where the best soil is located. Why not put the PV panels up the slope of a hill or ridge that isn't going to be much use for crops???

E. Swanson

The photos are somewhat misleading. Most of their sites are on south facing slopes, mainly in marginal land between commercial and residential. Of course, it's the residentials who are opposed.

Mild south slopes should the the best sites production wise. I imagine the main issue is you want to be away from trees. So there will be an incentive to clear them.

This is the same sister who's worried about 2012 and all that, but she doesn't want to look at a couple of acres of PV, (which she would likely not see anyway).

I've heard similar comments regarding wind from my "the rapture is upon us" family members and I always want to ask: "If the rapture is upon us, or 2012 marks the end of the world, why does it make a bit of difference whether a PV array is installed on my roof or a new wind farm is installed down the street? You won't be left behind in either case. The only way it might matter is if you don't really believe that the rapture or the end of the world is likely." -- I haven't pulled the trigger on that conversation yet.

Beeing an insider of the crowd but with a completely different interpretation of those passages in the scripture, I love to take those shots. It is very fun, you should give it a try. As they say, if you have 12 jews, you have 13 theologies among them. And it's fun too!

"If the rapture is upon us, or 2012 marks the end of the world, why does it make a bit of difference whether a PV array is installed on my roof or a new wind farm is installed down the street?

I think it does. Part of the atraction of the story, is that the evil unbelievers will be left behind to face the hell that is left of the planet. Rewards for the holy, and terrible suffering and death for the unholy. Whats not to like?

Something for WHT

Ordered fear plays a strong role in market chaos

When the current financial crisis hit, the failure of traditional economic doctrines to provide any sort of early warning shocked not only financial experts worldwide, but also governments and the general public, and we all began to question the effectiveness and validity of those doctrines. A research team based in Israel decided to investigate what went awry, searching for order in an apparently random system.

...They analyzed the volatility time series of 10 different stock markets from seven countries over a period of about 50 years and, rather than following traditional economic analyses, they analyzed time variations in the volatility—or the "volatility of volatility," a.k.a. "fear volatility".

In all markets studied, analysis revealed the existence of hidden temporal order in the volatility and very high correlations between the volatility and the magnitude of price variations. This marks the first time hidden temporal order has been found in these market "human factors."

How is this not Wave analysis?

The behavior is called implied correlation. All stocks rise and fall in unison when the implied correlation is 100%. Over the course of time, the implied correlation has inched closer and closer to 100%. It must be around 70% right now. By the same token, volatility also goes higher when the implied correlation is higher because the noise does not get canceled out by independent movements, as they now fluctuate in unison thus amplifying the noise.

It's pretty obvious that this will happen as machines take over the market. They are turning the whole thing into a gaming toy.

That was my second question. I read a book years ago about the group that created the first of those trading programs (or a group that created one of the first of those trading programs) and it seemed to be almost exactly this. Spotting trends and changes via computer cameras and capitalizing across varying time frames - though a lot of it was in very, very short time frames.

From the Guardian- worth a read

A perfect storm of stupid

The news is full of extreme weather headlines – floods, wildfires, droughts, tornadoes – but the US still doesn't get climate change

"The Obama administration's paltry funding for renewable energy research pales in comparison with the tens of billions in subsidies for the oil, coal and nuclear industries."

Good article. We should be building 50 billion dollars per year of each of the top 10 sustainable energy systems. Just 1/3 of the war budget. We should try them all (top 10) for several years to see which are the best. And to give ourselves some sustainable power.

And here comes the next layer of Stupid!

Filling Your Tank With... Coal?

In sometimes animated and wide-ranging testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday morning, witnesses and lawmakers debated the relative merits of putting coal in the nation's gas tanks.

"I believe that coal is America's most affordable, available, reliable and secure source of energy," declared Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), whose own coal-friendly American Alternative Fuels Act of 2011, introduced two weeks ago, was on the committee's morning agenda. "And using America's coal resources as a transportation fuel will decrease our dependence on foreign sources of oil and really strengthen our national security."

And strengthen tomorrow's storms!

Sometimes I wonder .... what are the chances that in all of the history of humanity, I happened to be born on a date 37 years ago which led to me now, being well enough versed in topics of energy and economics, and of a wide enough experience on other worldy things as well, to be understanding and witnessing in slow motion the most significant event in human history, right in front of my eyes, while 99% of everyone else is oblivious? What if I was born 30 years ago or 30 years from now? Was I born into this age for a purpose? What is my little existence? Who am I? And why are our leaders so bloody stupid/corrupt/incompetent?...... deep thoughts.....

As the Oracle would say "We're all here to do what we're all here to do"

P.S. Who says this is your first (and only) time on earth.

Does it matter? You are here, this is the way things are now. We don't get to pick the time or the situation, and we don't get to find out how it ends either. So make of it what you can and hopefully the things you do will make a positive difference to someone along the way or to someone yet to come. There were people asking such questions in societies that we don't even have record of anymore, and all along since, so don't get to feeling you're too unique or too alone.

Of course, most people never even think about such things, they just feed their basic desires. Which answers your other questions.

Null, I understand what you are saying. Sixty years ago I was born into a farm family and grew up focused on public transportation issues. Why? Some days it is like living in the Matrix, seeing a completely different reality than nearly everyone else.


You're here today because 37 years ago your parents had sex and their genetic material combined to create you. You could not have been conceived at any other moment than that, not 60 years ago, not 30 years from now.

As Mordecai said to Esther (4:14 Standard Revised), "Who knows but that you were born for such a time as this."

Or as the Transition Town mantra says, "Everyone who comes are exactly the ones that are needed to be here."

One approach to it when the big "Why" question seems overwhelming, is to be at least clear on what you DON'T think the purpose of your live should be; perhaps like purposes cooked up with some very particular interests in you accepting them on some level.

Do you want your main purpose to be to be a full and willing participant in the consumer culture, to be, as Tim Flannery so aptly puts it, a "future eater"?

Do you want your purpose to be to go and kill people you are told to kill in some stupid war?

Once you eliminate the purposes you don't think should be the reasons for your existence, then you have a smaller set of possibilities to contend with and possibly a little light on what general direction you may want to go in.

(And when/if you figure it all out, do enlighten the rest of us poor benighted souls '-/ )

From Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring (probably the closest thing I have to a holy book):

'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'

I've always liked that one too.

That's easy. Because the population is so high, a very highly improbable percentage of all humans who have ever existed are alive right now to witness this. Including you.


Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

The fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Because the population is so high, a very highly improbable percentage of all humans who have ever existed are alive right now to witness this.

Actually, that's not true. Some unknown author in the 1970's claimed that 75% of the people who had ever lived were alive then, and that has been widely repeated, but he grossly miscalculated the number of people who have ever lived. In fact, only about 6% of the people who have ever lived are alive today. The other 100 billion or so died long ago.

See Wikipedia: World population - Number of humans who have ever lived

6% is a lot.

That's the question all aware people ask themselves.

It's an absolute state of mind that spans through the history since the beginning of understanding.

The topics of the day are always significant (and the significancy is quite relative) to somewhat small amount of people (but the do change the lives of many). The leaders are always what you say because the system of organisation is deeply ingrained in our human/animal psychology. In a large enough population not everyone can keep up with all of the available information, and the confusing reality needs a strong voice and a character that cuts through it to lead us. That's really what the marketing departments are doing every day - and high production values can hide an afwul lot of flaws.

There's no meaning in asking whether you'd have been born in the past or in the future, because you are living this very moment that we all (the whole universe actually) share now. The past is locked in and no reason to worry about. There's a whole lot of things that we will never witness - events that will be hugely significant in the human history. That's immensely tragic in one way, but on the other hand if we live the life using the capabilities we have available to the fullest we will significantly alter the future, so it really is in our hands. To what kind of world would you like your 30-years-from-now-self to born in?

The real question floats around the fact that societies in general are imposing on us unbendable structures that mimic the properties of our chosen leaders rather than adapting to the real side of us. I tend to see us as the prisoners of the human reality that's been building layer upon layer for thousands of years. I seem to always reach the conclusion that the only sensible form of government is an anarchy of benevolent people who all work for the common good and for the others to have a good life.

There's so much selfishness in us that it won't happen in the near future or in the far future in large extent, but I'd say that the recoil from the coming significant events will draw more people back to live in smaller and simpler to handle communities that share high- and low tech resources.

Before that many wars will be fought too and there will be a lot of suffering before we can feel the suffering of others in ourselves.

This hour's CNN/Caffertyfile Question: "What are the chances the U.S. economy could eventually trigger violence in our country?"

For the first time maybe since the Vietnam War or certainly since the civil rights movement, there are some darkening storm clouds on the civility horizon. A growing number of voices are continuing to suggest that if this economy doesn't turn around, and people can't start feeling optimistic about their futures again, we could be headed for some ugly scenarios. A new CNN poll says 48 percent of Americans think the country is headed for another Great Depression in the next twelve months. That is a stunning number.....

A lot of doomer comments. Reality seems to be sinking in with many.

Ilargi, over at TAE seems to be on the same wavelength:

We no longer have any say in the matter. That is, until we do what people have started doing in Greece and Spain: get out onto the streets, and stay there as long as it takes to break down the way things work.

The core of the problem here is this: If you believe that we are witnessing a financial crisis, or you're even still convinced this crisis is over or soon will be, you're missing the point entirely. As I've said for years now, this is not a financial crisis, it's a political one. And until and unless we solve that political crisis, the financial crisis that is part of it can, will and must, of necessity, only deepen. And at the end of it we will all be left with nothing at all. No shelter or clothes to keep our children warm, and no food to feed them.

I can feel the anger ...

Ilargi concludes:

So I guess that's sort of a mission statement after all. And don't worry, I’m easily smart enough to understand that that will rub some people the wrong way. I just don't see another way out anymore, it’s all just about analysis and pattern recognition from where I’m sitting. I’m temporarily lodged in France, to work on the new Automatic Earth website. People here say that if austerity measures like those in Greece and Spain and Portugal would ever reach here, you ain't seen nothing yet. The French know protest, and proudly so. Me, I’m wondering what's going to happen when police start shooting live ammo in the EU periphery. And how far away that moment could be.

We've handed the financial elites absolute powers over our economies, and thereby our lives and well being, as well as our childrens' futures. We’ll have to wrestle it back from their cold dead hands. And that's not going to be an easy one.

Ghung -

I wonder if Cafferty et al. make the next logical connection if they are truly trying to analyze the prospect for violence.

Seems to me that the financial puppet masters have spared no expense to set up a divide amongst US citizenry... several different labels now "blue state vs. red state", liberal vs. neo-con, christian fundamentalists vs. just about anyone else, tree huggers vs. drill baby drill. Of course virtually any member of these groups has far more in common with their sworn enemies than they do with any of the inside the beltway pundits and politicians they so identify with, or with the Wall Street insiders, or global financial brokers.

IMHO the fundamental question is not whether there will be violence - that's baked in the cake from what I can see from a culture immersed 24/7 in the glorification of all things violent and confrontational. The key is whether the predators and psychopaths in government and high levels of business have succeeded in convincing the various factions of essentially the same middle class to go after each other's throats... or whether there is a collective awakening as to where blame truly lies and whether the anger and violence is channeled to the proper recipients. I long ago gave up trying to convince people of the dangers of energy / resource depletion, climate change, financial shenanigans but the one thing I still try to do is when I discuss the subject of blame for our current problems I make sure to try and provide a convincing argument as to why their wrath and action should be directed (or re-directed) toward a relatively small subset of the population - parasites whose greed knows no bounds.

"Seems to me that the financial puppet masters have spared no expense to set up a divide amongst US citizenry.."

Divide and conquer. Sun-tzu? Julius Caesar? Not much new under the Sun ;-/

"Seems to me that the financial puppet masters have spared no expense to set up a divide amongst US citizenry.."

Voters in red states and blue states virtually the same on the issues, study shows

Take a random person from a so-called “red state,” and the odds are nearly 50/50 that he or she would actually be more liberal on political issues than a random resident of a “blue state.”

More specifically, the chances of any one red state citizen scoring more liberal than a blue state citizen are 46 percent on economic issues and 51 percent on social issues

The research, conducted by political scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and Brigham Young University, paints an entirely different picture of American politics than the popular narrative of a polarized society.

“Far from being from two separate planets, red and blue state citizens seem to inhabit the same neighborhood,” wrote BYU’s Jeremy Pope and Penn’s Matthew Levendusky.

In other words, we're being played for suckers

But maybe not suckers in exactly the normal sense. We see, completely consistent with the numbers you give, a lot of very close elections. Indeed 55% to 45% is often considered a landslide.

What we have is a "winner take all" (or what the British call "first past the post") election system. So 51-49 becomes a red blotch on the map, 49-51 a blue one. And we have parties and candidates who often respond somewhat rationally to the incentives to win election, so they'll do what their consultants tell them to do in order to increase their share, setting up a nice feedback loop that keeps it almost always on the razor's edge. Put those together, and it's quite obviously enough to produce the result even without need of presumably conspiratorial puppet masters.

Another option is some sort of "proportional" system. But that too has a downside, in that it tends to set up conditions under which some minor and possibly extremist party gets to play the tail wagging the dog, in Parliament. IIRC a guy named Kenneth Arrow showed a long time ago that once there are more than two candidates or options, it's mathematically impossible to create a method of tallying votes that fully accords with reasonable, commonly (if implicitly) held notions of fairness and sensibility. So it goes, pick your poison...

...get out onto the streets, and stay there as long as it takes to break down the way things work.

The only possible snag is that after one breaks everything, well, then everything is broken. Given the mostly awful historical track record of revolutions, what are the odds, really, that it would be a better place rather than an even worse, burned-out wasteland?

Lots of Egyptians are asking the same question right about now. No sane politician would ever want to lead Egypt now or any time in the future. The same can be said of America, a dying empire.

No sane politician would ever want to lead Egypt now or any time in the future.

Who said they are to lead?

The purpose seems to be to line their own pockets.

The sane are focusing on transition, food security, economic justice, etc., rather than breaking things.

Well, lets take a look.
The biggies are the French and the Russian, with the American a minor but important one.
All have become better societies after, with the French completely changing the paradigm.
Change very rarely happens through reformist means, and almost always by people in the street.

Russia went from being country that was 70% serfs (slaves), to putting a man in space in a little over 50 years. True, Marx would of not survived the 30s in Moscow.

Russia went from being country that was 70% serfs (slaves), to putting a man in space in a little over 50 years.

No, it was 100 years from the time Russia abolished serfdom (1861) to the time Russia launched the first man into space (1961).

By 1861 less than half of Russian peasants were serfs, and two-thirds of them had been mortgaged by their owners to the state and the banks, so the need for reform was obvious. Tsar Alexander II said that "It is better to liberate the peasants from above" than wait for risings "from below."

Serfdom had disappeared on a de-facto basis in England and France by 1500 (It was cheaper to hire workers than to own serfs). Elizabeth I freed the last remaining English serfs in 1574. Russia was far behind the times, but by 1861 serfdom had become obsolete in Russia, too.

OK, I stand corrected.
Let me rephrase it- Russia went from a agricultural backwater to putting a man in space in 50 years, as most of the population was rural and land based.
This was not a worker led revolution, as Marx envisioned for England or Germany.

This does not change the analysis.

Let me rephrase it- Russia went from a agricultural backwater to putting a man in space in 50 years, as most of the population was rural and land based.

So did the United States. Tsarist Russian industrial capacity was on par with America's in the run up to the revolution. The Russian church was a lot more backward than her counterparts in America (you didn't see the Episcopalian Church inciting pogroms). There was also the absence of common law, the relative lack of civic organizations, and a lot more going on, but there was industrial capacity building all over, a frontier just like America's, providing lots of raw materials, and lots of territory. The Russian revolution came because of industrialization, not in spite of it, and the Bolsheviks inherited a country with a lot of potential in 1917. Russia's progress was based in large part on pre-Bolshevik momentum.

America was the only country that needed a bloody revolution to free its surfs, and we did it last 1865.

I have written repetedly here on TOD that slaves is a transitionary step between "do it your self" and "pay someone to do it for you".

Later down the chain is "outsorce to another country" and "borrow money from them to buy their stuff" and "sell your stuff to pay the debts and become slaves yourself". But that is a whole different story.

Saudia Arabia didn't officially get rid of slavery until 1964 and there is still plenty of it going on in the Sudan and Mauritania, so stop complaining about America.

Cherry-picking. And French society practically decapitated itself.

So, what revolutions that have had a major impact on World Culture and political direction are you speaking of?

The French Revolution completely changed the political system of Western Society, and things have not been the same.

The Wars of the Reformation and the Thirty Years War, taken together freed the people from the despotism of the Church. They established the primacy of the monarchs and noble birth.

Then the French Revolution/Napoleonic Wars and World Wars I and II freed the people from the despotism of the monarchs and nobility. They established the primacy of the bourgeoisie and the right to property.

It's often the ones that we pay little attention to that killed a lot of people without changing World Culture or even local culture very much. The classical world was full of that sort of thing, trading one brutal dictator for another ad infinitum.

And since I don't have an alternate universe available, I can't even say what the French Revolution did. The only thing I can ever know for sure is it killed a lot of people and decapitated the society, as the rather tragic, shameful, and lengthy list of names enshrined in the catacombs under the Palais de Justice, which AFAIK are still open to anyone who cares to visit, demonstrates beyond any possible doubt. The rest is constructed narrative - it's just as easily possible that the world - or rather, Europe or a corner thereof - was ripe for change, so that the most that Robespierre & Co. could accomplish with respect to that change was to speechify in the same manner as the shaman declaiming by the river and ordering the water to flow downhill, even as they tried to slake their apparently limitless thirst for blood.

Wow, that Honey I Swapped the Kids post he links to on TAE is scary. And even more impressive: it basically says the same things on Wikipedia, quoting Warren Buffett! I had actually been wondering what the close-to-a-quadrillion-dollars derivatives market was about.

Thanks for the link!

Yes but, the recession and subsequent period has seen a continuation of the downward trend in violence and murders.


Hopefully not just the calm before the storm. Both links were suggesting that, rather than an increase in one on one violence, civil disorder and violent protest are in the cards (or need to be). My form of protest to this point has been to minimize my participation in the insanity, to not play the game as it is. It's tough, though I find I'm not giving up much.

How about a 100% tax on wealth over 20 million dollars? This would have to apply to non US businesses and people that do business in the US. And no ownership of farm land by corporations (they have this law in North Dakota(?)).

I do not think it is likely to ever happen, as the current gov't system, where laws get proposed, debated, and passed are run by the same Entitled Few that will have no incentive to allow such changes.

A very long-term, possible will never happen if collapse happens first, dream/fantasy of mine is if a significant minority of the gov't elected officials come from some kind of uncorruptable Green Party or such....

Well I can't see a 100% tax ever happening, and would have some nasty side effects. I think it would be too much, too quickly and would give anyone with a penny more than $20M the incentive to use every extra $ of it to fight whoever suggested the policy. Good luck surviving the assassination attempts.

A much better idea, IMHO is a progressive land tax, or a progressive wealth tax, however since land can not be shipped out of the country there would be no danger of capital flight if it is just on land. The boundaries could be shifted as needed, and should increase automatically with inflation once it is a rate that works, and goes something like this:
0% tax if your land holdings are worth £0 - $1 Million.
1% on $1 - 2$ Million.
2% on $2 - 4$ Million.
3% on .....
The percentage tax and boundaries are flexible, this just gives the gist of the idea.
And there you have it. A tax on the rent seekers holding the nation hostage. A tax that doesn't penalise the poor or middle class. A tax that doesn't penalise people actually just trying to earn an income. A tax that helps redistribute wealth in a way that addresses the negative externalities that arise when too much land and wealth is held by only a few.

China creates rare earth monopoly in Inner Mongolia

China has restructured its rare earth industry in the region of Inner Mongolia, allowing only one company to continue to operate there.

35 rare earth producers will be shut down, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in a statement. Batou Steel Rare Earth will now handle all mining, processing and trading.

Also: China's Chinalco sets up rare earths processing firm

And Rare Earth Metals In The Global Spotlight Again (REMX)

From the land of slashdot, we have an unlikely submission:

Have We Reached Maximum Sustainable Population Size?

"Pulitzer prize winning writer Thomas Friedman writes that in few years we may be looking back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? 'We're currently caught in two loops,' writes Friedman. 'One is that more population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices; rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more instability.

The comments are fairly dismissive however - hardly surprising considering the audience.

If I remember correctly, 'we' in the US collectively did the same thing in the 70s.

We had awareness, rationing, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Logan's Run, and such.

Can't say much has changed, 'cept the adoption of the catalytic converter on gasoline vehicles.

History is repeating itself. (Yep, I am a doomer. Hopeful, but still things do not look promising.)

You can't blame anyone for being dismissive of Friedman.

Billions needed to boost food production, says DuPont committee – ‘One of the greatest challenges facing the human race’

High-tech seeds and innovations in chemicals and farming will not be enough to solve looming food shortages for the world, according to a report issued Tuesday by a committee formed by food and chemicals conglomerate DuPont.

Billions of dollars in private investment, government incentives and charitable work must be funneled into collaborative projects if global food production is to match growing demand, the report urged.

Both biotech and organic farming will play a role, said the report by the DuPont Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation & Productivity for the 21st Century [pdf].

"People are starting to recognize that food demand is outstripping supply," said DuPont executive vice president Jim Borel, who oversees DuPont's agriculture and nutrition business.

One has to at least entertain the possibility that food is going to take a bigger and bigger chunk of our income - 10, 25, 30% for middle class people?

People in the U.S. seem to have alot of energy stored as fat, and may be able to take the hit at first. Sounds cynical, but that's the way I see it. Then we'll reach a point where we can't cut down anymore, so we'll continue to eat, but cut down on other expenses.

The other thing - and this is key - if governments around the world decide that mass starvation is not an option, then large scale investments in agriculture have to take place.

Get your Bernanke bucks in that sector before they become worthless is the way I see it.

An old Jaffa wisdom says that no matter how good the strategy, it is useless if there are no army to follow it. I worry little about the price of food. Of course it will rize. But what about when we have burnt through the inventories we are living of now? It is probably only 10 years down the pipe. Then there will be people who can not be given any food. That spells "starvation".

Not a word about self-reliance, resilience, localized economies... Be free: grow your own.

wow- Nuclear fuel has melted through base of Fukushima plant

The findings of the report, which has been given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, were revealed by the Yomiuri newspaper, which described a “melt-through” as being “far worse than a core meltdown” and “the worst possibility in a nuclear accident.”

Water that was pumped into the pressure vessels to cool the fuel rods, becoming highly radioactive in the process, has been confirmed to have leaked out of the containment vessels and outside the buildings that house the reactors.

It sucks sometimes, being right. March 12:

...it is clear that this reactor is toast. To say that officials are minimizing the situation is an understatement at least, perhaps criminal at this point. Three Mile Island was a cakewalk in comparison...

...though not everyone agreed at the time.

Would you like to make a further prediction - that the radiation added combined with the damage from the chemicals like BPA will be shown to have caused enough generic damage to kill off most of what is now known as Man.

...though not everyone agreed at the time.

A lot of people still don't, they think like this guy... talk about profound cognitive dissonance.

Excerpted from the end of comment #13

Fukushima has not yet gone beyond natural background radiation except temporarily very close to the reactor. Chernobyl spilled as much radiation as a coal fired power plant does in 7 years and 5 months.
I would not evacuate the Fukushima area if I lived there.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 2 Jun 2011 @ 3:54 PM

Perhaps that argument could be used as a good reason to end all use of coal, eh? >;^)

Yeah we all were saying that the mushroom cloud explosion was a bad sign. And the drone on this site was unbelievable. I almost doubt anything I read on here anymore after Fuku exploded -- the nonstop chitter chatter about people thinking the worst were chicken littles. The drone was everything was just fine and normal. It is merely hydrogen. Are we going to here more about the residual heat. LOL. The nuclear reaction never stopped.

Actually the lies are what turns me off of nuclear. If it is good and safe then why lie? Why pay for all the press?

Here is the cheap part:

" Studies have estimated that the cost of the accident at Fukushima may rise as high as $250 billion over the next 10 years."

I guess nuclear is cheap in the long run. -- only 1/4 of a trillion. Wonder how many solar panels that would be?

Actually the lies are what turns me off of nuclear.

It's not just the lies, here's something that seems to be a very good description of the rabid supporters that came out after the disaster, it also describes the industry itself:

Antisocial personality disorder, previously known as sociopathy, psychopathy.

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Axis II (personality disorders) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) as "...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.

1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
Sound familiar?

2. deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
None of this, is there?

3. impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
Yup, no plans for problems

4. irritability and aggression, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
Not physical here, but amazing attacks on those who felt differently...

5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
This too...

6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
And this...

7. lack of remorse, as indicated by indifference to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;
They sure came on here with this...

I'm sure the same supporters will have their rationalizations again, I will no longer respond to any of them.

No, you must be mistaken, that's an MBA course program you've listed.

Nuclear fuel has melted through base of Fukushima plant

The headline is a bit misleading, as I read it to mean that the corium has melted through the foundation, which hasn't happened (yet). Corium has melted through the bottoms of the three pressure vessels, which is bad enough.

Bookmark the Energy News website for daily, sometimes hourly, hair-raising news -- all linked to reliable sources.

Great site, thanks!

I just got back from a short trip to India to see my parents and was composing some thoughts on the state of Indian infrastructure but this article in the New York Times says it much better than I could:


To compensate for electricity blackouts, Gurgaon’s companies and real estate developers operate massive diesel generators capable of powering small towns. No water? Drill private borewells. No public transportation? Companies employ hundreds of private buses and taxis. Worried about crime? Gurgaon has almost four times as many private security guards as police officers.

Part of the reason for the tremendous increase in demand for diesel in India is the abysmal state of the electric grid. Everysingle home I visited keeps a few lead acid car batteries with an inverter to handle power cuts. Every single business of any size has a big diesel generator outside the building. This is completely unsustainable in my opinion.

A similar reliance on generators and liquid hydrocarbons for back-up energy can be told for Bangladesh, and I am sure for Pakistan too. And Angola, and Nigeria, and...

You forgot China...

Well, it's good to hear that they have some storage set up.. now, if they start adding in even cheap little Solar Panels (cause you can always glom on more to a basic array), then those batteries could be recharged without the grid.. slowly maybe, but no pollution or need to buy gas/diesel.

Great minds do think alike, it seems ;=)

"Everysingle home I visited keeps a few lead acid car batteries with an inverter to handle power cuts."

I see this as somewhat positive, folks taking responsibility for their own energy usage, at least in part. If each family had a few PV panels and a charge controller, or more microgrids could be built, folks may realize that they don't need the unreliable macrogrid much.

Yeah.. is there an echo in here? (uh oh, I just confessed that we're in an Rnewables echo chamber!! They're onto us now!)

Just like with home gardens, I don't expect to feed our family entirely on it, but I want to have a balance of inputs.. to 'Diversify my holdings' as it were. Having a couple little to medium PV setups around me leaves me some clear options to decide which power I will emphasize, which lights to turn on (I have Solar AND Grid Powered Lights in a few places around the house.. more to come), and a chance to experiment and experience where Solar works best, and how to do it.

Moderation in all things.

(I'm also devising a solar heating project that would simply feed an insulated Tank near a particular Sink, probably the kitchen.. so that I can use that solar-heated water, off the 'third faucet', whenever it's available.. this smaller system would be built to be easily removed and/or relocated, similar to my lightweight Solar PV setup, ready for a camping trip, a location job, or an emergency that calls for some 'dispatchable' Power and Hot Water.. who knows? Options.. )


My parents actually do have a solar water hearer installed in their home in Chennai (formerly Madras). They had it installed 15 years ago when the house was renovated. At that time, the city government was offering financial incentives for such installation. Unfortunately, this incentive has been
eliminated in recent times. Really short sighted in my opinion.

The idea of using a few solar cells to trickle charge the batteries used with inverters has also occurred to me. I am trying to locate someone locally who could do this for my parents. The reality on the ground is that solar energy is almost non-existent.

The electric power situation is bad but not intolerable as yet in private homes in Chennai. I think businesses and locations outside the city tend to be affected much worse. The power is cut for about an hour every day for load shedding. Power outages are pretty predictable so people plan their lives around them.

I do not know the region's Alternating Current voltage or Hertz, but perhaps you can purchase and ship to your parents a small self contained non-grid connected system?

It would probably just be one or two 200+watt PV panels (and such panels are typically about 1 meter wide and 2 meters tall), a microinverter to generate AC, and some brackets and wiring.

Then they or you would just need to find someone trustworthy and reliable to do the install.

I imagine the 200w to 400watts would be enough to charge batteries when it was sunny, and perhaps even directly keep a small fridge, or other similar load, running.

If not fancy,the microinverter could be wired to a stand-alone plug, and things plugged into it as needed when the main grid is dead.

230V 50Hz, old UK colony.


If not fancy,the microinverter could be wired to a stand-alone plug,

That was the model of http://www.exeltech.com/pvacproduct.htm

Now, for yucks - go price 'em/buy one.

Lead Acid Batteries and LEDs of the same voltage as the Batteries is usually the best way too go, make it simple. cooking is usually no problem if your parents have a bio-digester all the rest can be done when the juice comes back on. It was the same in the 70s when I spent 2 years touring India on a motor cycle never had any problems adjusting when I was there.

This doesn't help either - World’s Greatest Power Thieves Keep 400 Million Indians in Dark

>>> About one-third of the 174 gigawatts of electricity generated in India annually is either stolen or dissipates in the conductors and transmission equipment that form the country’s distribution grid, Power Secretary P. Uma Shankar said in an interview. That’s more than any other nation, according to a 2010 report by Deloitte LLP analysts that also estimated India’s losses at 32 percent. In China the rate was 8 percent.

Everything helps (!) And India is absolutely doing their share in getting us to Peak Oil and beyond as fast as humanly possible....

From the link :

BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd., the unit of Reliance Power that supplies western and southern parts of the capital, says it is losing $2 million a day due to theft and low government- imposed rates.

Who would even think of starting up .. or even continuing to run a power-utility under these conditions??? It's fathomless, at least to me it is.

and low government- imposed rates.

There is the problem. Government can mandate low rates, but then companies might choose not to play that game, and that is clearly what is happening. When a power plant is old and needs to be refitted/replaced, they will simply shut it down Same for transmission lines.

So, by trying to keep it "cheap", people have to spend more on their backup systems, just to have reliable power.
As Ghung and Jokuhl suggest, the people might as well go a bit further with solar panels and just forget the grid entirely, as the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

You are right about getting off the grid in India. It may be forced on people whether they like it or not. Lets consider the services that come into a typical household in India:

Water/sewer: CThe government owned utility that delivers water is Chennai Metro Water: http://www.chennaimetrowater.tn.nic.in/ At the moment things look good on this front since rains have been good for the past few years. The reservoirs are full and the water table has risen. When there is a drought however, water gets delivered in tankers. Every home has a large underground sump where water is stored. This water is then pumped up to a roof tank. The home owner has to pay for this pumping since water pressure is inadequate to allow water to reach the roof. Furthermore, water purification is left to the home owner. My parents have installed an excellent water purification system that seems to use very little power and works well.

Electricity: Generally not too bad except that there are daily power cuts nowadays. This was not the case even five years ago. I already posted some comments on this a bit earlier.

Cooking gas is delivered in cylinders from a local depot in three wheel rickshaw-like contraptions. Generally pretty reliable. If you call them, they come within a few hours to deliver a new cylinder and take away the old one.

Internet/Phone: This is one area where there has been unambiguous improvement Everyone now has broadband DSL in their homes and its generally pretty reliable. Cell phone service has exploded in popularity so thats not a problem either.

Overall, when I put it all together, its becoming clearer to me that the average Indian home is already pretty well equipped for extended periods off the grid!

Interesting, thanks for the info. Looking at that website, I am surprised to see that they have a large sized desalination plant!.
It also say their mission is to provide "safe, quality water" - but maybe not that safe!

With electricity, I agree with Bob's comments below, having plenty of localised generation is a good thing.

I view the grid (the wires, not the generation plants at the other end) in the same way as the highway system - it is a public good for the use of and by everyone.

If the grid did not go down, then people could still have their panels and inverters, but do away with batteries and generators. There would be a positive improvement in urban air quality if this were done.

A few comments on India and energy. Long ago I was sent to Madras as an energy consultant. I arrived sweaty and tired and tried to take a shower but found no hot water in the hotel. I asked the manager and he explained that they had not got their propane delivery that day. I mentioned that it was awful hot and sunny outside so why didn't they use sun to heat their water? His response --"Ah, I never thought of that possibility".

Later I tried to interest business people in solar power by way of concentrators- They didn't like the idea, but grabbed on to the concentrator as a body-incenerator.

I suggested bigger wires to avoid the high transmission losses. "You don't understand, if we made the wires bigger people would steal them faster even than they do now".

We did succeed in putting up a rice husk fired stirling engine, to pump water. Almost instantly, we found a small industry had spring up to use the hot cooling water for laundry, and the husk burner for baking.

One culture shock after another. But I was treated very well, and met some wonderful people. On returning to the US, I was struck by the appalling waste of everything, everywhere, in comparison with India.

@BrownBear"Everyone now has broadband DSL in their homes and its generally pretty reliable."

Is that possible, in a country where the average household income is less than a thousand dollars a year? Or are you perhaps talking just about the upper classes?

No broadband here in our part of Maine except satellite..(wild blue etc) No DSL or cable.

Don in Maine

I should have been clearer - among the middle class households I visited, most seem to have broadband Internet nowadays. Many others use USB wireless modems with laptops.

It's amazing what the Internet has done for third-world countries. They may not have safe water, and the electricity may be on for only 8 hours a day, but everybody has access to high-speed internet and HDTV. I've booked several treks high in the Himalayas in Nepal and Bhutan where the only way to reach the tour company was over the Internet.

I remember reading an article by a correspondent in India for a major US newspaper. He had four satellite dishes up on the roof to stay in touch with the newspaper's headquarters, but he wanted to watch a world cup soccer match, and he couldn't get it. He complained to his gardener, and his gardener said, "Oh, come over to my place and watch it".

His gardener had a little house in the back yard, and (illegal) cable TV with access to all the world's major channels. His cousin had hooked it up for him, as well as 1000 other people, for a few rupees a month each. His wife was watching BBC World News, and the correspondent said, "But your wife doesn't speak English!!?" The gardener replied, "She's learning." Then they pulled up the feed for the international soccer matches.

Of course, I was saying one would ideally have a balance of both. I know the fear is that the incursion of Home Solar would simply undercut that revenue stream needed to maintain a grid at all, but I'm inclined to think that there are healthy economic results from distr. and privately owned generation that might also be advantageous to the system, as well as advantages to the loading on that last mile, such that the cost of maintaining a grid might not be impossible after all.

As with Henry Ford, 'making cars cheap enough that his workers could afford them', there are 'comes around, goes around' factors that might not be as dire as the DG Doubters sometimes fear.

Wish I could offer proof.. but I'm late for work, Gotta run!


paal - Reminds me of stories I heard from oil patch expats working in Indonesia about 15 years ago. The expats lived in nice private homes. But all along their streets little shacks had sprung up. Those folks hot tapped into the power lines going to the homes. The oil companies didn't have a problem with paying the electric charges for a while but eventually the bill became much too large. So they told the power company they were only going to pay for their usage. So the power company began cutting all the illegal hook ups and the riots started. Lots of other problems/riots going on at that time so I'm not sure how big the e-power issue became. But it's easy to imagine as all the systems worldwide become more stressed such "cheating" will become more curtailed leading to more civil unrest. One man's theft is another man's social support system.

One important step taken accross India is to convert public transport (buses, autorickshaw's and taxis) to use natural gas instead of petrol/diesel as done originally. I guess the reduction that has resulted has been soaked up by diesel power generators and private cars. Natural gas powered automobiles are easily available and reduce the fuel cost quite a lot. Public transport is on the rise across the country with light rail systems planned for almost all the major cities.

My thinking goes like this: the last drop of oil will be combusted the very same day as the last whiff of nat-gas. Price differences and adaptations in technology will ensure us to always go after the cheaper method. Kilometers per buck will become the order of the day, 'all the way in..'.

What on earth happened here?

Nat Gas futures plunged 8% in 15 seconds then recovered. CNBC say they are investigating.

Just a bug IMO. I see them on a daily basis on a Norwegian site.

No this was real and shows on other NYMEX chart sites. CNBC (tv) just covered it. No explanation been given as yet - another unexplained "flash crash" they suggested. That would be like WTI dropping from $100 to $92 in 15 seconds. Or the Dow losing over 800 points in 15 seconds.

Damn hackers! They're gonna ruin Everything! (I'm not saying.. just surmising..)

full excel workbook from 1965-2010 (almost 2 MB)

BP June 2011

Total world oil production in thousand barrels per day and million tonnes

Year  Barrel Tonne
2008  82015  3933.7
2009  80278  3831.0
2010  82095  3913.7

What happened? How come 2010's oil didn't weigh as much as 2008's?

Condensates contain less total energy the crude. As the percentage of condensates is increased in the mix the weight falls along with the total energy. It's like buying a cheap hamburger where the meat is filler instead.

The world is running on less BTUs of energy.

Going back a couple of years, and rounding off to two significant figures, BP shows the following for global total petroleum liquids:

2005: 81 mbpd
2006: 82
2007: 82
2008: 82
2009: 80
2010: 82

And 2005 is just barely shy of rounding up to 82. At the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase, we would have been at about 94 mbpd in 2010, which would have been consistent with CERA, et al's projections.

Saudi net oil exports came in lower than what I expected, based on the rather odd recent EIA revisions. Following is what BP shows for Saudi net oil exports for 2005 to 2010 (2009 and earlier data may been revised; I haven't checked yet).

Saudi Net Oil Exports (BP):

2005: 9.1 mbpd
2006: 8.8
2007: 8.2
2008: 8.5
2009; 7.1
2010: 7.2

Interesting that Saudi 2010 net oil exports were just barely above the 2009 rate. Most of the 2010 increase in Saudi oil production was offset by increased domestic consumption.

Here is the cumulative shortfall between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd and what they actually net exported (BP):

2006: 110 mb
2007: 439
2008: 658
2009: 1,388
2010: 2,082

Aramco shows the following for crude:

Saudi Aramco’s exports lower in 2010, output steady

Crude exports of Saudi Aramco dropped slightly in 2010 but output remained at the same level of 2009, Aramco said in an annual review.

Exports fell to 2.02 billion barrels in 2010 from 2.06 billion barrels in 2009 or to 5.5 million bpd from 5.65 million bpd in 2009, it said.

Capacity and output from the Neutral Zone shared by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is excluded from Aramco figures.

To get tonnes from barrels, they simply apply a conversion factor to the value in barrels. They do not separately obtain the amounts produced in tonnes, because nobody reports that AFAIK. So, why are the numbers different? Maybe they do some funny rounding.

Looking at the BP report from last year, the barrel/tonne ratio varied as well, but wasn't always trending upward. Also curious -- they revised the totals for each year going back quite a ways.

year 2010 BP 2011 BP change
2001 74813 74906 94
2002 74533 74700 167
2003 76916 77075 159
2004 80371 80568 197
2005 81261 81485 225
2006 81557 81729 172
2007 81446 81544 98
2008 81995 82015 20
2009 79948 80278 300

Certainly not a consistent percentage. Maybe they just make all of this up.

Thus my conclusion that, at best, we are working with two significant figures of semi-accurate data.

Doesn't answer why they are revising previous years, though. They might have a method to their madness, including how they report each country as per Undertow, but they don't reveal said method.

Some countries do report in tonnes (China for example). The EIA has a table of average barrels/tonnes conversion factors for various grades of crudes and country averages (which vary with time)- it is on the EIA website somewhere although I can't immediately find it. I presume BP uses varying conversion factors as well.

Incidentally, I was curious as to what the 2010 production data for China would look like (since they have started arresting people for compiling and distributing historical data). Both the EIA and BP are showing large increases in year over year production for China. BP shows them at between 3.7 and 3.8 mbpd for four years, 2006-2009, but then increasing to 4.1 mbpd in 2010.

It looks like BP revised Chindia's combined net oil imports down to 6.9 mbpd in 2009 (versus 7.3 mbpd based on last year's data release), with a 2010 combined net import estimate of 7.5 mbpd.

Yes China has been reporting production increases consistently in 2010 and 2011. For 2011 year to April, China reports crude production up 6.1% on same period 2010. That puts current China crude production at about 4.2 million barrels per day. "All Liquids" at about 4.4 million barrels per day.

If you believe the official data of course.

since they have started arresting people for compiling and distributing historical data

Are you talking about this?

China jails US geologist Xue Feng over oil industry database
Associated Press / July 05, 2010

Born in China and trained at the University of Chicago, Xue ran afoul of the authorities for arranging the sale of a detailed commercial database on China's oil industry to IHS Energy, the energy consulting firm he worked for that is now known as IHS Inc and based in Colorado.


Fukushima radiation contaminates area around Tokyo sewage plant

So the Tokyo Metropolitan government finally admitted to the high air radiation level in "Nanbu Sludge Plant" in Ota-ku in Tokyo, after, it turns out, a Tokyo Metropolitan Assemblyman from Ota-ku went inside the plant and measured the radiation.

"Tobu" or Eastern, Sludge Plant in Koto-ku in Tokyo has an even higher level of radioactive cesium, and the plant may have been spewing radioactive cesium from the incinerator where the radioactive sewage sludge is burned, and has been contaminating the air and the soil in the areas around the plant and downwind (upstream) areas along the Arakawa River.

So it's a secondary radiation contamination.

The eastern part of Tokyo has been registering higher air radiation levels than the western part of Tokyo. Unchecked cesium dispersion from the sludge plant ever since the start of the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident may be good part of the reason.

Does stimulus spending work if you have sent your factories off shore and you no longer have skilled workers (because there are no jobs to keep ones skills up). Does stimulus just lead to consumption, buying things from the Chinese factories and foreign oil fields?

It's worse than that. "Stimulus" robs Americans and puts that wealth in the hands of the uberwealthy reckless gamblers who were most directly responsible for the melt down in the first place. Some of the gobs of our money also goes to huge corporations who then just sit on the money, or buy a few new toys with it.

Essentially none of it goes to putting people to work, or to relieving those who got swindled by realestate sleaze balls, or to powering down, insulating all homes and work places, building out renewables, sequester carbon by reestablishing prairies, protecting ecosystems, redesigning work places to employ more people, educate people, give people healthcare...any of the things that are actually needed to improve their lives and go some tiny way to secure their future (which does not look too bright in any case.)

Welcome to hyper-plutocracy--gov of the top .001%, by the top .001%, and for the top .001%.

Or as Warren Buffet put it (iirc)--"There has already been a class war, and we won!"

If you want to know where the money actually went, click here: Recovery.gov - Breakdown of funds paid out

I guess I was thinking of TARP as much as the other 'stimulus' stuff. I was about to correct that.

Here's the exact Buffett quote: "“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

Somehow, through all of this the super-rich (including super-rich corporations) got super-richer and pretty much all the rest of us got poorer.

From Special Inspector General - TARP - Quarterly Report to Congress (warning large pdf)

The enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act reduced TARP’s maximum investment
authority from $698.8 billion to $475.0 billion.17 The $698.8 billion represented
the initial $700.0 billion authorized for TARP by EESA less a $1.2 billion reduction
as a result of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009.18 Treasury
has obligated $474.8 billion of the $475.0 billion. Of the total obligations,
$410.5 billion was expended as of March 31, 2011, through 13 announced programs
intended to support U.S. financial institutions, companies, and individual
mortgage borrowers.19

According to Treasury, as of March 31, 2011, 143 TARP recipients had
paid back all of their principal or repurchased shares and 22 TARP recipients
had partially repaid their principal or repurchased their shares, for a total of
$263.7 billion including a $5.0 billion reduction in Government exposure under
AGP.20 As of March 31, 2011, $146.8 billion of TARP funds remained outstanding,
and $58.9 billion was still available to be spent.21 Figure 2.1 provides a snapshot
of the cumulative obligations, expenditures, repayments, and exposure reductions
as of March 31, 2011. As of March 31, 2011, the Government had also collected
$37.0 billion in interest, dividends, and other income, including approximately
$8.9 billion in proceeds from the sale of warrants and stock received as a result of
exercised warrants.22

For a simpler view see Track the Stimulus
All you want to know about the economic stimulus plans

The big losses are AIG and the automotive industry. Frankly, I think that we should have let at least Chrysler fail.


I really don't believe these numbers. I am not very knowledgeable about finance, but it seems like a large amount of toxic assets have found there way to Freddy and Sally and to the Federal Reserve. It seems like the risk implicit in that transfer has not yet reached a point where cost can be estimated. One can only guess at the consequence of another 30% drop in real estate values.

Its true that there is a lot of risk transferred to Fannie and Freddie, mostly because Congress passed laws to make them take on the risk.

The real beneficiaries of the mortgage mess are the "homeowners" who took out large, poor quality mortgages at the peaks of the housing boom. They walked away with a lot of money to spend or invest.

Now, as the mortgages go into default and the properties through foreclosure, the lenders loose any part of the balance that is not covered by the sale of the property.

The real beneficiaries of the mortgage mess are the "homeowners" who took out large, poor quality mortgages at the peaks of the housing boom. They walked away with a lot of money to spend or invest.

More likely they walked away with nothing, but since most of them had more or less nothing to start with, it isn't a net loss to them.

The only thing is that they thought, for a short period of time, that they had something - a house of their own that they could live in. Foolish them to believe in the American Dream.

That's quite a quote from Buffett. Historically speaking, it's always been when the super wealthy have reached a point of holding all the goodies, with the rest of the people holding diddlysquat, that revolutions have occurred. We're not there yet, but with the admonition by Buffett of a war taking place against all the rest of us, and with the economic pressures of declining net energy, we're headed there faster than most people realise.

Availability of corn becomes pork producers' new concern

Smith agreed with pork producers who worry there might not be enough corn for both feed and ethanol during late summer this year before the fall harvest.

"It's not like an ethanol plant, where we can flip off the switch and take some time off," said pork producer Randy Spronk of Edgerton, Minn.

Spronk remembers the last time corn supplies were at the two-week level they are now, which happened in 1995.

"I had to send two semis to Pierre, S.D., to buy corn to feed my hogs that year," Spronk said. "That was more than a 400-mile round trip. I hope I don't have to do it again."

With the US now turning 1/6 of the world's corn production into fuel ethanol, it is not surprising that it no longer has enough corn to feed its pigs (or consumers in third world countries, either).

The world wheat crop is also in trouble, with floods in North America and droughts in other countries reducing the crop that is likely to be harvested this year. The next year is likely to be a bad one for food consumers world-wide.

I can't help it but this guys name, "Spronk", just cracks me up totaly. And he is a pig farmer, pigs almost make that sound. Sorry for keeping up the noise to signaling ratio on the forum, but I just can't take this any more.

I'm surprised some people on here still seem to think that gov'ts, old media, etc., aren't aware of peak oil. Still. It's 2011.
It's like, "I'm unaware that you're aware of what I'm aware."

Peak Energy, Climate Change and the Collapse of Civilization:The Current Peak Oil Crisis
~ Tariel Morrigan

“...if you spend some time looking at peak oil, if you’re a reasonably intelligent person, you see that
catastrophic things are going to happen to the world. We’re talking about major damage, major change
in our civilization. Chaos, economic disaster, wars, all kinds of things that are, as I say, very
complicated, non-linear. Really bad things. People don’t like to talk about bad things.”
~ Robert Hirsch, director of fusion research at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 2010

“[Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy,] knows all about peak oil, but he can't talk about it. If the
government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just
can't say anything about it.”
~ David Fridley, oil economist who worked under Steven Chu, 2009

Yes, right, the corporogovernments don't want to put themselves in a worse panic than they are already in. What to do what to do what to do...
Since that publication only last fall, social unrest has really seemed to have dug in.

"Bush's Crawford ranch is completely off-the-grid and equipped with the latest in energy saving and renewable power systems. It has been described as an 'environmentalist's dream home'. The fact a man as steeped in the petroleum industry as Bush would own such a home should tell you something."
~ Mat Savinar(?)

With regard to talk hereon about the need for yet more energy, or at least enough to replace oil, why?

I mean, come on.

"The important thing to understand about collapse is that it's brought on by overreach and overstretch, and people being zealots and trying too hard. It's not brought on by people being laid back and doing the absolute minimum. Americans could very easily feed themselves and clothe themselves and have a place to live, working maybe 100 days a year. You know, it's a rich country in terms of resources. There's really no reason to work more than maybe a third of your time. And that's sort of a standard pattern in the world. But if you want to build a huge empire and have endless economic growth, and have the largest number of billionaires on the planet, then you have to work over 40 hours a week all the time, and if you don't, then you're in danger of going bankrupt. So that's the predicament that people have ended up in. Now, the cure of course is not to do the same thing even harder... what people have to get used to is the idea that most things aren't worth doing anyway..."
~ Dmitry Orlov, author of 'Reinventing Collapse'

Of course, working 100 days a year (ideally, locally and for yourself, your community, rather than faceless reps elsewhere who don't necessarily care about you or your community) isn't good for the job isn't good for tax revenue, isn't good for the removed, centralized nation state corporatocratic elites that parasitize your labour; your 40-hour a week, relatively useless and wasted, labour.
This is why I think that the gov't preoccupation with job creation is a conflict of interest. Of course they're interested in wage-slavery. Which is in part probably why there is the long workweek. Extra "energy-slaves" too.

"We live in an economy which takes 80% of our each new generation and educates that 80% to obey orders and to endure boredom, and stifles their creativity, and stifles their capacities, and curtails them. They're systematically crushed by a system which does what? Which fills slots, and 80% of the slots need people who just do rote tedious repetitive labour at least at work, and therefore are acclimated to doing that...
If you're callous to the effects on others, you have a potential to rise. The odds are that you can 'compete' your way up. If you care and are socially concerned about others, you're at a tremendous disadvantage. So I think the competitive dynamic that we have does sort of weed out a set of people for success. But I would say that what it weeds out for success is not competence, not creativity, not intelligence, but callousness far more often."
~ Michael Albert, co-founder 'Z Magazine'

With regard to the story above;
"U.S. recovery, rest in peace
The recovery is over."



U.S. Nuclear Industry: Japan Accident Won't Harm Health

"WASHINGTON—The U.S. nuclear industry said Thursday it doesn't expect any health problems among Japanese people as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident."

That statement is as mind-bogglingly stupid as the discussion of the Space Power Satellites!

A very good friend of mine (Thomas Troutman) several decades ago said this:

Troutman's Observation: The amount of intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is increasing.

This one gets to me:
1000 clicks-per-second from a sample of downspout sludge.

Mysteries of space and time!:
Moving mirrors make light from nothing

statement is mind-boggling

For a buck, you can find an apologist for any insane position you want taken.

As a parent of a former teenager, I came up with an equation to determine the average IQ of a group of teenagers, for example at a party: Take the IQ of the first teenager on the scene and then divide it by the total number of teenagers that ultimately arrive.

Then subtract from that by the number of empty beer cans you find in the garbage bin the next morning.

And the nuclear industry are what? Unelected officials?

Here's something about so-called elected officials:

"Lest anyone protest that the state’s true 'function' or 'duty' or 'end' is, as Locke, Madison, and countless others have argued, to protect individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property, the evidence of history clearly shows that, as a rule, real states do not behave accordingly. The idea that states actually function along such lines or that they strive to carry out such a duty or to achieve such an end resides in the realm of wishful thinking. Although some states in their own self-interest may at some times protect some residents of their territories (other than the state’s own functionaries), such protection is at best highly unreliable and all too often nothing but a solemn farce. Moreover, it is invariably mixed with crimes against the very people the state purports to protect, because the state cannot even exist without committing the crimes of extortion and robbery, which states call taxation (Nock 1939), and as a rule, this existential state crime is but the merest beginning of its assaults on the lives, liberties, and property of its resident population."
~ Robert Higgs, 'If Men Were Angels: The Basic Analytics of the State versus Self-government'

"Behind Boetie's thinking was the assumption, later spelled out in great detail by David Hume, that states cannot rule by force alone. This is because the agents of government power are always outnumbered by those they rule. To insure compliance with their dictates, it is essential to convince the people that their servitude is somehow in their own interest. They do this by manufacturing ideological systems..."
~ Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

"The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them."
~ Karl Marx

"Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state."
~ Noam Chomsky

A better question to ask would be how many people they expect never to be able to go home.

Buncefield blows up. Evacuate. Once its under control, and that won't be longer than a few days, you can go back.

Fukushima melts down. Evacuate. It will probably be under control in a couple of years or so, and you still won't be able to go back even then.

The evacuations the nuclear industry inflicts on the victims of its accidents are way off the scale of evacuations that other industries cause, even if the deaths are not.

Yes, but it's just STUFF.

People can be compensated for the loss of stuff, loss of life is another matter entirely.

Until there's no adequate 'stuff' left with which to compensate? That much of the 'stuff' that's left is life-threatening? We are composed of 'stuff'.

"Plato's Cave"

"You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it."
~ The Matrix

"Socrates then supposes that a prisoner is freed and permitted to stand up. If someone were to show him the things that had cast the shadows, he would not recognize them for what they were and could not name them; he would believe the shadows on the wall to be more real than what he sees.

"Suppose further," Socrates says, "that the man was compelled to look at the fire: wouldn't he be struck blind and try to turn his gaze back toward the shadows, as toward what he can see clearly and hold to be real? What if someone forcibly dragged such a man upward, out of the cave: wouldn't the man be angry at the one doing this to him? And if dragged all the way out into the sunlight, wouldn't he be distressed and unable to see "even one of the things now said to be true," viz. the shadows on the wall?
~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

Sorry, not sending a rescue party into Plato's cave for you.

That place is dangerous.

Sounds like something someone who's still in the cave might say.

They cannot export their lying about radiation so easily. The rest of the world will not play "let's pretend this tea is not radioactive games" along with them.

Retailer told to stay mum about radiation level in tea
Mainichi / June 10, 2011

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) -- Shizuoka Prefecture told a Tokyo-based mail order retailer to refrain from carrying information on its website that radioactive materials in excess of the standard limit were detected in tea grown in the prefecture, the retailer said Friday.

A prefectural official told Radishbo-ya Co., after the retailer made a query to the local government Monday, not to disclose the finding for a while on fears that the message could cause unwarranted harm to Shizuoka tea growers, adding that the prefecture would confirm it on its own, the firm said. ...

(click for more stories)

Wellllll.... I might simply have been a wish to re-produce the result for confirmation prior to issuing the withdrawl order. That should be expected I'd think, otherwise products could be withdrawn from market for any myriad of random rumours and malicious invective from competitors.

Yeah right.

As if we ourselves don't play the "let's pretend this sea is not radioactive and polluted by spilled oil game".

Have you had any good, fresh shrimp dishes lately?

Long after we no longer drill for oil there will be how many nuclear plants falling apart with age?