Drumbeat: September 5, 2011

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia boost oil output to ease prices

KUWAIT CITY — OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Kuwait boosted their oil production in August to prevent prices from rising sharply and negatively impacting on the world economy, Kuwait's oil minister said Sunday.

"Had not a number of OPEC members, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, increased their oil production, prices would have jumped way above the current level," Mohammad al-Baseeri told the official KUNA news agency.

Saudi Arabia ups Asia crude prices, cuts US

Saudi Arabia has raised the price of its flagship Arab Light crude oil by 90 cents for customers in Asia, who buy more than half its crude exports, and cut prices for US buyers, Saudi Aramco said on Monday.

Saudi Aramco has set the Arab Light price for Asian buyers at Oman/Dubai plus $1.65 per barrel for October, up from $0.75 for September and $1.35 for August.

Oil shocks in a global perspective: are they really that bad?

Using a comprehensive global dataset, we outline stylized facts characterizing relationships between crude oil prices and macroeconomic developments across the world. Approaching the data from several angles, we find that the impact of higher oil prices on oil-importing economies is generally small: a 25 percent increase in oil prices typically causes GDP to fall by about half of one percent or less. While cross-country differences in impact are found to depend mainly on the relative size of oil imports, we also show that oil price shocks are not always costly for oil-importing countries: although higher oil prices increase the import bill, there are partly offsetting increases in external receipts. We provide a small open economy model illustrating the main transmission channels of oil shocks, and show how the recycling of petrodollars may mitigate the impact.

Ukraine cites $230 as 'fair' price for Russian gas

Ukraine, which is looking to review gas contracts with Russia, would accept a price of $230 per 1,000 cubic meters, Naftogaz Ukraine head Yevhen Bakulin said on Monday.

BP May Send Workers Back To Gulf Platforms

HOUSTON -- BP PLC said Monday it may start sending back workers Tuesday to several platforms it evacuated last week in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of what became Tropical Storm Lee.

Shell says weather hampering U.S. Gulf restaffing

(Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday that high winds and rough seas prevented the company from restaffing and restarting Gulf of Mexico operations south of Louisiana in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee.

Chevron Begins Restarting Production At Some US Gulf Platforms

HOUSTON--Chevron Corp. said Monday it has started sending workers back to some of the Gulf of Mexico platforms that were evacuated last week ahead of tropical storm Lee and that it was in the process of resuming production.

BP boss Dudley says investors are "frustrated"

LONDON (Reuters) - BP chief executive Bob Dudley told employees on Monday that investors' patience was wearing thin, as his turnaround failed to show rapid results and the oil giant continues to face headwinds.

Dudley wrote to employees, in an email obtained by Reuters, after a series of problems in recent weeks, including its Moscow offices being raided, its replacement by rival Exxon Mobil in a key Arctic venture, and incorrect reports the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico was leaking again.

Pertamina in Tiaka restart after deadly riots

Indonesian state oil firm Pertamina has resumed production at its Tiaka oilfield where violent protests caused the facility to be shut down for 13 days, Reuters has reported.

Russia to start producing gas at Shtokman field from 2016

CHEREPOVETS (RIA Novosti) Russia may start producing gas at the giant Shtokman offshore gas field in the Arctic from the fourth quarter of 2016, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

Putin Promises Airports Fuel

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will immediately sign a decree on the allocation of fuel from reserves to supply Moscow airports if needed, his press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

"A government decision on the allocation of reserve fuel will be signed immediately" if necessary, Peskov said, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported, citing Itar-Tass.

Kampala charcoal prices soar

“The energy sector is concentrating on fossil fuels and developing hydro-electric power, while the environment ministry is concentrating on planting trees for timber and not for wood fuel. So the energy crisis is not being addressed,” said Diisi.

Over 90% of Ugandans depend on wood fuel, with the urban population using mainly charcoal and the rural areas relying on firewood, according to the latest report released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

Energy infrastructure of the post-carbon future

In 2008, The New York Times reported 56% of the energy generated in the United States was wasted. In electricity generation, 66% was lost as heat out the smoke stacks of remote power plants and another ten percent lost during transmission. Of transportation energy, 71% was lost from heavy, idling vehicles and cars carrying only a driver. Meaning, in a time when fossil fuel resources are declining around the world, over half the 100 Quadrillion BTU’s generated in the US consumed fuel without doing any work.

A Point of View: The revolution of capitalism

At the time nothing seemed more solid than the society on the margins of which Marx lived. A century and a half later we find ourselves in the world he anticipated, where everyone's life is experimental and provisional, and sudden ruin can happen at any time.

A tiny few have accumulated vast wealth but even that has an evanescent, almost ghostly quality. In Victorian times the seriously rich could afford to relax provided they were conservative in how they invested their money. When the heroes of Dickens' novels finally come into their inheritance, they do nothing forever after.

Today there is no haven of security. The gyrations of the market are such that no-one can know what will have value even a few years ahead.

Noda Tells Wary Japanese That Atomic Power Needed to Save Nation’s Economy

Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in his first days in office started to deliver a difficult message to a public still in shock from the Fukushima nuclear disaster: Atomic power is needed to save the economy.

Nuclear power provided about 30 percent of the electricity in the world’s third biggest economy before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Now, about 80 percent of Japan’s 54 reactors are offline with more shutting for scheduled maintenance in the months ahead.

Iran’s First Nuclear Power Plant Goes Into Operation

TEHRAN (Reuters) — Iran’s first nuclear power plant has finally begun to provide electricity to the national grid, official news media reported on Sunday, a long-delayed milestone in the nuclear ambitions of a country the West fears is covertly trying to develop atomic weapons.

The start-up will come as a relief to Tehran after many years of delays and false starts at the plant it hopes will show the world it has joined the nuclear club, despite sanctions imposed in an effort to curb its nuclear progress.

Oil Prices Drop on Signs of Slowdown; Gulf Workers Return After Storm

Oil declined for a second day in New York on speculation that slowing economic growth in the U.S. and China will crimp fuel consumption in the world’s two biggest crude users.

Futures fell as much as 2 percent after a Chinese services index published today fell to a record low in August. A report tomorrow may say U.S. service industries grew at the slowest pace in more than a year. Crude also declined as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc returned workers to some oil and natural gas platforms after Tropical Depression Lee moved out of the Gulf of Mexico. London-traded Brent widened its premium to U.S. prices for a second day.

Charter rates driving oil tanker groups bankrupt

Larger oil tanker operators are likely to face insolvency as oversupply continues to weigh on the industry, according to senior figures.

The oil tanker charter industry is currently facing a slump in rates due to over-supply of vessels, with charter rates per day dropping way below the operating expenses.

Supertanker owners stand to benefit in scramble to fill oil gap

The Syrian oil embargo is good news for supertankers, the massive vessels that carry 2 million barrels of oil at a time.

Syria's energy sector

The impact of any disruption of Syrian oil exports on global supplies would be small compared with the loss of more than 1.3 million bpd of oil and 956 million cubic feet (mmcf) a day of gas exported by Libya until early 2011.

Emerald Isle Hopes For a New Oil Rush

TONY O’Reilly, son of the Irish billionaire of the same name, wants to start an oil rush that turns Ireland into the next Aberdeen. He may soon get his wish.

Next month, his company, Providence Resources, starts drilling off the coast of the Emerald Isle as part of a $500 million-plus (£309 million) programme.

Nigeria: 'Why International Oil Coys Shun Refinery Projects in Country'

Irrespective of Federal Government's policy four years ago that investment in the downstream sector, particularly in refinery projects, would be the condition for issuance and renewal of concessions and oil licences, none of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria has indicated interest to build a refinery in the country.

THISDAY gathered that these oil majors, which currently account for about 95 per cent of Nigeria's oil production, had been unwilling to invest in refinery projects because the downstream petroleum industry sector had remained regulated.

Ukraine sees no possibility to join Russia-led Customs Union despite gas discount promise

Kiev can not join the Moscow-led Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, a concession necessary to get a discount on Russian gas, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko said on Monday.

But he said that Ukraine would try to solve its long-standing gas price dispute with Russia out of court, a week after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said that Kiev would seek arbitration in Stockholm if Russia did not offer a better deal on gas supplies.

Ukraine, Russia give no sign of gas dispute end

MOSCOW—As a new natural gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine brews, the countries' foreign ministers are giving no signs that a resolution is close.

Rogozin Calls Libya a NATO War for Oil

BRUSSELS — Russia's envoy to NATO said Friday that the alliance's war effort in Libya marks a major strategic shift to focusing on securing oil and gas supplies for the West.

PetroTrans of China Denies Workers in Convoy Attacked by Ethiopian Rebels

PetroTrans Co., a Chinese oil- exploration company, denied claims by Ethiopian rebels that a military convoy escorting its workers in the restive Ogaden region was attacked last week.

Cnooc Falls After Cutting Output Estimate on Bohai Oil Leaks

Cnooc Ltd. (883), China’s largest offshore energy explorer, had its biggest decline in a month in Hong Kong trading after oil leaks at a field operated by partner ConocoPhillips forced the company to cut its output estimate.

US oil giant tried to cover up spill: China paper

BEIJING (AFP) - One of China's most influential newspapers on Monday accused the US oil giant behind a huge spill off the country's east coast of trying to cover up the disaster.

The strongly-worded article in the People's Daily - the mouthpiece of the Communist Party - said ConocoPhillips had displayed 'indifference' to the damage to the environment and issued misleading statements over the spill.

Conoco Facing Chinese ‘Wrath’ on Oil Leak Says It Acted Promptly

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips said it acted promptly to seal leaks at China’s biggest offshore oilfield, rejecting accusations of negligence by state media after a three-month battle to contain the spill off the nation’s northeast coast.

Solar 'not competitive' in Gulf

Subsidies for fossil fuels are preventing Gulf nations from taking advantage of the falling price of solar technology.

The cost of panels that convert the sun's power into electricity has fallen by half in three years, but subsidies for power produced from oil and gas make carbon intensive energy much cheaper.

Beekeeping can supply you and neighbors with honey

The buzz about honeybees lately has been about their vanishing from gardens and farm fields.

New ranks of backyard beekeepers are trying to ease that scarcity, or at least have enough pollinators to produce a decent harvest.

Early success of Hub bike sharing surprises even program’s backers

In its first month, Boston’s European-style bicycle sharing-system pedaled past expectations, attracting riders more than twice as fast as similar programs in Denver and Minneapolis.

As of Aug. 28, the one-month mark, the program known as Hubway had attracted 2,319 annual subscribers and witnessed 36,612 station-to-station trips. At its current clip, the system is on track to surpass 100,000 rides before Halloween.

Stung by the President on Air Quality, Environmentalists Weigh Their Options

For environmental groups, it was the final hard slap that brought a long-troubled relationship to the brink.

In late August, the State Department gave a crucial go-ahead on a controversial pipeline to bring tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Then on Friday, leading into the holiday weekend, the Obama administration announced without warning that it was walking away from stricter ozone pollution standards that it had been promising for three years and instead sticking with Bush-era standards.

John D. Walke, clean air director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group based in New York, likened the ozone decision to a “bomb being dropped.”

Double whammy of taxes for Australian resource industry

The Australian government seems determined to press ahead with heavy taxes on its lucrative commodities and resource industry at a time when both the global and Australian economies lie in the balance.

The carbon tax, which will be imposed from the middle of next year and penalise the country's biggest polluters with a A$23 (Dh89) a tonne tax on emissions, sits side by side with a mining tax (known euphemistically as the mineral resources rent tax), which penalises coal and iron ore producers that make excessive profits.

UN chief vows 'real results' on climate change

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday vowed to the leader of Kiribati, a low-lying Pacific nation threatened by rising seas, to keep pressing for "real results" against climate change.

Why the tar sands are destructive for Canada: 'Ethical oil' and other resourceful fantasies

The Harperites will not face the two most pressing realities of this century: climate change and peak oil. Humanity needs to change course. Canada needs to change course.

Facing these twin imperatives, Canadians need to rebuild their cities, their transportation systems, and their manufacturing sector. That's how we will create jobs and make a contribution to the betterment of the planet.

Lots of luck with that one. It is not just the Harperites that will not face these pressing realities it is the whole damn world.

Ron P.

From the end of the article : "It leads the country from one horizon to the next, but never to the promised land of qualitatively more advanced economic development."

Any way one looks at it, there will likely be less qualitatively advanced economic development.

re: Why the tar sands are destructive for Canada: 'Ethical oil' and other resourceful fantasies

It's a typically myopic Toronto-centric viewpoint on the world. It ignores the fact that Canada has one of the world's strongest economies (not that there's much competition these days), none of its banks are insolvent, it's budget deficit is under control, it's major cities are rated among the most livable in the world and have public transit ridership rates two or three times as high as comparable US cities, and it has energy, mineral and agricultural resources of all types up the wazoo.

It's also typically myopic in a Toronto-centric, left of centre, All our problems are caused by the evil Americans and Conservatives sort of way.

In reality, the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Canada are the (mostly government owned) power plants - as they are in the US - and the biggest GG emitter of all is Ontario Power's Nanticoke power plant, deep in the heart of heavily populated Southern Ontario. Due to the early failure of Ontario's nuclear reactors it has been burning large amounts of high-sulfur coal produced by mountaintop removal in the US, because Ontario has no coal reserves of its own. (I like to provide reality checks like this whenever Ontarians annoy me.)

Ontario's manufacturing sector is in trouble because it is overly dependent on the automobile industry, which is not a good way to be in this post-peak-oil era. The rest of the country is doing relatively well (not great because the US economy is so dismal these days.)

Whatever. The reality is that climate change is imminent, that its consequences will change how we live everywhere on the planet, the main cause is the burning of fossil fuels, Alberta is a major source of remaining fossil fuels, and every barrel we burn just adds to the problem. So those articles that advocate reducing our use of fossil fuels are reflecting ecological reality, and, like it or not, the demands of nature to maintain some form of ecological balance will always trump economics, even if it means pushing humanity back to a stage of living that we really do not want to revisit. I am not so naive as to expect that the current Canadian government will face this reality, but that is exactly what we should be doing.

By the way, All of our problems have been and continue to be, caused by all of us, not just 'evil Americans and Conservatives".


Rocky, you have a very Canadian centric viewpoint. But don't take that personally because I've noticed others posting on TOD from Canada have the exact same perspective, as if Canada is a World unto itself. However, that will not in any way allow Canadians to avoid the consequences of climate change/AGW. As the world moves on to non-conventional sources of oil such as tar sands, the carbon footprint increases dramatically. That's the crux of environmentalists objection to it and a pipeline that will promote its expansion.

I'm a Canadian too, from Alberta, but Edmonton, not Calgary.


You're a good guy Don. I need to remember not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Keep in mind the topic leading the discussion was Why the tar sands are destructive for Canada: 'Ethical oil' and other resourceful fantasies

That's why the Canadian-centric focus. We were talking about Canada.

If we were talking about the American "oil shales", that could be different. We could talk about the devastating effects of strip mining vast stretches of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah and the critical shortages of water and natural gas that would result.

There's no point because nobody is developing the chronically mislabeled kerogenic marlstones of the Western US. They're burning coal instead.

To put it in context, Canada produces about 2% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, and about 5% of those are caused by oil sands plants, meaning the oil sands produce about 0.1% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Coal burning power plants in the US produce about 50 times as much CO2 as Canada's oil sands plants, and Chinese power plants are even worse. That is where the biggest CO2 emissions come from. Those two countries produce about half of the world's CO2 emissions.

If nothing is done about US and Chinese coal burning (which is what is happening), then it doesn't really matter what Canada does in the oil sands. The difference will not be measurable on any kind of scientific instruments.

One must look at the whole picture: not just extracting the oil sands, but also the burning of them after extraction. So, the argument is not just about the CO2 added while extracting the oil from the oil sands. It is also the CO2 produced when burning it. The amount of oil present is very huge, and burning it only adds to the problem.


The amount of oil present is very huge, and burning it only adds to the problem.

I concur Don, and to Rocky, if every country has a set of reasons they can ignore environmental concerns, then we are all screwed.

then we are all screwed.

They do and we are. Acceptance will put you on the road to peacefulness my friend!. Enjoy what you have while you've still got it. My Budda side has just come out.


The earth will survive and the universe will survive. Humanity might not and millions of species will perish. Acceptance is the most rational approach. I will admit, however, that I am not there in the Buddhist beatific state to which you refer. I am not in denial but I am still mostly in the rage stage. There will be mass suffering and I am not at the point where I can quite accept that peacefully.

Anyway, perhaps Marco can point the way to right thinking on this matter.

Here is perhaps a start. The earth will eventually become lifeless regardless of what we do now. We may just be speeding up the process a bit. Oy and double oy. The sun will burn out regardless. Perhaps we are a lot less special than we think. We need to get over ourselves. Humanity is a failed experiment.

I have considered this issue for some time and have some knowledge of the geological history of this planet.

Properly understood, our species was only going to exist for an eyeblink of time unless we spread to the stars. Most species exist only for an average of 9 million years. 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are extinct. Our sun has a limited lifespan and during its death throes (as a red giant) our planet will either be engulfed by the red giant and destroyed or have its surface sterilized. However, these events lie far in the future (i.e. over a billion years).

In the near term (i.e. next 100 years or so), the picture is cloudy. There are very serious human sourced problems that will gravely affect the pace of life on this planet for humans and all other lifeforms. How exactly this will play out is unknown at this time. There will be change and there may be the horror of mass die off of humanity. This is my greatest fear (and likely is the fear of many other), but hope remains for a more peaceful outcome.

In terms of the planet earth becoming lifeless, nothing humanity does has much impact on that. No matter what we humans do, there is so much life on this planet in hidden places beyond our reach (e.g. deep sea trenches, solid rock 2 miles underground, microbes in the air and seas, etc. etc. etc.) that life basically could not be destroyed by humanity. Yes, we could, with a concerted effort, perhaps eliminate most forms of multicellular life on this planet, but no such concerted effort will be made (where's the profit after all?). In our planet's history, mass extinctions have occured several times, including events that have destroyed huge swaths of lifeforms (see here for an overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event). All the same, life went on. Nothing humanity can do is as significant as some events in the past (e.g. transforming the planet's atmosphere from a reducing atmosphere to an oxidizing atmosphere which was carried out by anaerobic bacteria that gave off oxygen as a waste gas).

Humanity will most likely pass away into extinction without ever escaping this planet fate. Even if humanity does escape, it may evolve into something else altogether, or, in the very long run (assuming we exist for 10^1000 years (or so), we will become extinct by virtue of proton decay (the radiating of baryonic matter into long wave radiation). In the long run, no matter what, life as we know it is doomed. REmember, its only life as we know it, not all life as energy life forms could survive in a universe without baryonic matter.

... but hope remains for a more peaceful outcome.

The Wet One, there are many challenges ahead, but I agree that hope still remains. I wish our world would make more of an effort to stabilize the population. The annual increase of approximately 75 million is only making the challenge greater than it already is.

There is zero experimental evidence for proton decay. The increasing "dark energy" will insure that we do not get a heat death rather we will get a big bang rebirth. It is all up and to the right. If you want to lie down and die can I have your stuff?

The increasing "dark energy" will insure that we do not get a heat death rather we will get a big bang rebirth.

No we won't, the universe is flat, it is expanding uniformly in all directions and that expansion is accelerating and we know all this with 100% certainty!

'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009


Most species exist only for an average of 9 million years.

What is the source of this figure? Estimates vary pretty widely but are often given in groups, e.g. the average lifespan of a mammalian species is supposedly about one million years, a different average for marine invertebrates, different again for forams, etc. I'll have to ask my boss what numbers he uses when he gives talks on this subject, but my personal suspicion is that a round figure of 9 million years for all species is way too high.

Some lifespan estimates Wikipedia has compiled (albeit generally higher than I would have expected):


We run out of oil, we aren't going anyplace - not even orbit.

They do and we are. Acceptance will put you on the road to peacefulness my friend!

The four stages of denial:

- There is no problem
- There may be a problem, but we should do nothing about it
- Maybe we should do something, but there is nothing we can do
- Maybe we could have done something, but it's too late now.

Paraphrased from Yes Prime Minister

This would be funny, except that it isn't.

If you look at the burning of oil sands after extraction, you will find most of it occurs in cars in the US. The US, of course, could limit this by putting in rail transit and high speed rail everywhere, and power it all with nuclear power plants and wind generators, but that is not the course the US has chosen. It has chosen to build freeways and have more than one car per registered driver. It's electric power is mostly generated using fossil fuels. They have made a major policy decision to pursue the fossil fuel route, although they may not have realized it at the time.

In Canada, which is supplying a lot of the fuel to make it all work for Americans, freeway construction has been much more limited, public transit ridership is 2-3 times as high, and only a small fraction of the electric power is generated using fossil fuels.

I also would like to point out that the amount of coal in the United States considerably exceeds the amount of oil sands in Canada. Coal is nearly 100% carbon, and the US is burning it with great enthusiasm in its power plants and heavy industries.

So, for Americans to criticize the Canadian oil sands is a matter of the (large inefficient coal fired) pot calling the (small fuel efficient hydroelectrically powered) kettle black.

Canada and Norway seem to have a more realistic view of using proceeds from natural resources to build infrastructure that doesn't use a lot of natural resources. Given that fossil fuels are non-renewable, this is the only rational course. Using them for routine and continuing operations is obviously silly, and unsustainable.

This is like getting a a 20 year annuity settlement for $1M per year, and proceeding to spend $1.1M per year. It works great for a while, but what are you going to do in year 21 when you have a pile of accumulated debt and no more income? Obviously, you'd be better off living on $100K and investing $900K, and in year 21 you'd be doing fine.

There is only one thing that maters;

At somepoint we will stop burning fossil fuels. At that time, any randomly selected atom of carbon will either be in the rocks or in the air. What matters is where those atoms are. Any carbon atom we let remain in the rock helps. Except by stopping to import cheep consumer goods from china, you can not do anything about their emissions. But you can keep your own carbon atoms in the ground.

This is easy for me to say as a swede; we have zero fossil fuel resources and import 100% of our carbon atoms.

Any carbon atom we let remain in the rock helps. Except by stopping to import cheep consumer goods from china, you can not do anything about their emissions. But you can keep your own carbon atoms in the ground.

This is the real key to the problem. The way to stop CO2 being emitted is to stop the C being dug up. If it's dug up, it will eventually be burned; if it's left in the ground, it can't be.

All the complicated cap-and-trade, tax-and-spend, fee-and-dividend, emissions targets and % reduction targets miss that elementary point. The focus of international treaties should just be a firm limit on how many fossil fuels are dug up, with colossal trade sanctions for exceeding the limits. Markets and price signals will do the rest. Exploration and development to exploit new or marginal fuel reserves will immediately become unprofitable... we already have more reserves than can be safely burned. No point finding more.

Quite simple really.

Quite simple except that people will not accept the concomitant reduction in their standard of living, way of living, lifestyle, etc. Personally, I think it is possible to significantly reduce carbon emissions without a significant reduction in quality of life but that is because I actually think it is more rewarding to ride a bike than drive a car, for example. Ask most people what quality of life is and will not include things like non motorized activities. That is very clear when you see the people who walk and waddle down the street in the tourist town near where I live. And this is Colorado, the leanest state in the union. We get to see tourists from out of state, however, our exposure to body shape diversity.

You are quite right, however. Leave the friggin' stuff in the ground or as Hansen says, it is game over.

Your coffee grinder cares not if the electricity which spins it comes from coal or wind/solar/geothermal/tides/waves/hydro. It doesn't care if that electricity was fresh made or pulled from multi-hour storage.

We're arriving at the point at which renewable electricity is as cheap as fossil fuel electricity. If we are honest about the hidden costs of burning coal, we're already there.

People who drive EVs/PHEVs for a few hours/days love them. Between 100 mile range EVs and 30 mile electricity/unlimited fuel PHEVs all of us can find a personal vehicle option which uses nor or only a small percentage of what we currently burn to get around.

There's no reduction in standard of living required.

How much coal is burned per mile by a typical electric car? Keep in mind that the thermal energy needed to get the electrical energy is about 2.2 times the electric energy.

Currently? In the US about 44% of our electricity comes from coal. It varies from almost none in the Pacific Northwest to a lot in places like Indiana.

There is no reason that we need to burn any coal to use electric vehicles. In fact, bringing a lot of EVs onto the grid will aid our incorporation of wind as EVs can spend about 90% of their time parked and plugged in. They can take their charge when supply is high, thus absorbing wind peaks and making it more profitable to install more wind turbines.

For a few thousand dollars you could purchase enough solar panels to provide you with all the "fuel" you'll need for your EV for decades. (Yes, there are time of use and storage issues. These we can solve.)

The issue is not how we currently do things. We know that current technologies are failing. Peak oil, peak coal, climate change. I really doubt you need the details.

The issue is how we replace our failing technologies.

Is not our choice replace or crash?

EVs will increase US electrical demand by 20% for full implementation.

Even partial implementation of EVs will increase US coal and NG consumption for generation. Almost zero additional wind (above what is already going to come on-line) will come on-line above what was already scheduled (supply, demand + subsidies).

I maintain that most people will recharge when they get home - increasing the 6 PM peak and straining the grid.

IMO, EVs should receive no subsidy or gov't incentives - there are much better places to put public $$.

There are a secondary part of the best answer.


If we build no more coal plants EVs will not increase coal use.

We have neither begun construction nor permitted a new coal plant in over two years in the US. We have scheduled around 200 existing coal plants for early closure.

New coal would be more expensive than either new wind or new solar.

If we bring EVs on line in number we create a profitable market for late night wind-produced electricity. Right now wind is being sold for almost nothing or being curtailed because supply exceeds demand. EVs will make late night wind profitable and increase investment in wind farms.

People will plug in when they get home. With time of use billing they will set their chargers to start charging when rates drop after 11pm. The average Leaf driver (~33 miles per day) will need only 1.5 hours per night of charging on a 220vac outlet using the in-car charger. With smart meter/grid improvements that 1.5 hours can be spread over the night as best fits grid supply. Some people will be willing to skip charging days in order to get better power costs. As solar continues to fall in price we'll see more solar-covered parking lots and people charging during the day.

I know that trains are your thing. But trains will not get us from the house to the grocery store and then over to the kids' soccer game. People will insist on personal transportation if it is in any way affordable.

Trains, high speed rail, is the best moderate travel option and light rail is a good commute solution. Trains are fairly poor at crossing oceans.

New coal fired plants are not required to burn more coal. Just run the coal fired plants at greater capacity factors.

More NG burned 6-8 or 9 PM and more coal after that is the "market" solution unfortunately.

Some new wind will be built with higher basement prices, but a relatively modest amount.

We should not ban EVs, just put our subsidy $ elsewhere.

EVs also only last 20 years or so, like ICE cars.

As I said, I have plowed this ground before.

I rejected, or accepted with large caveats, many of your conclusions.

Unfortunately, I have other thins I must pursue ATM.


Oh, you mentioned that EVs will increase US electrical demand. That's correct.

You didn't mention that EVs will greatly decrease US oil demand.

Since we can get all the power we want from sun, wind, deep earth and tides and we're running out of cheap oil I kind of see that as a good trade off....

Clearly all fossil fuels are finite. But the one that is hitting us hard now is oil. On an energy basis, it costs like 5X the price of natural gas. So reducing oil usage is what we most need to do now. Electrified public transportation is an obvious answer, and it needs to grow. But we do have all this suburban development that can only be used with cars. Thus, EVs are needed.

And EVs do increase renewable electricity generation. There is a well-known phenomenon of people getting EVs who then get solar PV so they can 'grow their own'. The California rate system kind of encourages it since you can use PV to cover your expensive day-time electricity needs and then charge up your EV at night with cheap off-peak power.

I maintain that most people will recharge when they get home - increasing the 6 PM peak and straining the grid.

Time of use metering . . . all modern EVs can be programmed to draw power when it is cheapest such that they don't start drawing power until the cheap over-night rates.

Can solve and will solve are not the same thing. I think we will choose 'crash', but not completely. Where we do choose purposefully, though, we should choose well. That means electric freight first, and mass transit second, and individual vehicles last.

Individually, we may choose the other way around -- some may buy a better car first, move to carpool and then buses, and eventually to rail-based TOD last. It's fine for personal decisions to be a little different than public ones.

I noted that I was hit by a lady without insurance a few days back. Turns out she has no job either, and was traveling out of state. She was obviously not a skilled driver, and should not have been driving. Our society presses people like her to go beyond their limits, and shifts the costs to others. Public transit really would make for better, safer lives for many of us, including our old, young, infirm, underprivileged, and urban-oriented. Some people would do well to choose TOD lifestyles even if it cost a bit more.

You are right. But the equation requires another element the energy required to create the car or coffee grinder and all the parts for it.

Finally what happens when you add the 4 or so billion other people who want cars and coffe grinders that do not have one of any kind already.

We may have finally turned a corner up until very recently all the energy ever produced from PV's was less than the energy required to produce all the PV's. As of right now PV's may finally have an EROEI of 1. Yes of course there are other sources of "renewable" electricity as well, which have better returns.

First you are very incorrect with your "eroei of 1" for solar. Energy payback occurs in months (thin film) to a couple of years (silicon). And PV then cranks out power for 20, 30, 40, 50 more years. There is nothing more "eroei" productive than solar panels. What else can give you 25x to 50x more energy back than what you put in?

Second, the factories which make your car or coffee grinder operate on electricity. They don't care how that electricity gets generated. Figuring out the best mix of renewable sources and storage is simply an engineering exercise.

Third, those 3 to 4 billion people are a different issue. We will either have plenty of electricity/goods to share with them or not.

We don't have cheap oil for ourselves or them. We don't have cheap coal for ourselves or them. Doesn't it make sense to get busy and move to cheaper, more abundant energy sources?

David MacKay in Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air claims an energy yield ratio of 4 for a solar panel in Central Northern Europe and more than 7 for a panel in a sunnier location such as Australia. In regards to the expected life span of a panel, I would expect a shorter life in areas where panels are subjected to a lot of freeze/thaw cycles.

An energy yield ratio? Is that the same as energy repay time? If so, he's wrong.

Or does that mean number of times the panel returns its energy input? If so, he's still wrong. A silicon panel that repays it's energy input in 1.5 to 1.7 years would give one 7x that power in about a dozen years. Thin film would take less than seven years. Panels last far, far longer than that. Thin film is typically guaranteed for 25 years.

As for actual panel life, I've got 20 year old panels that are still cranking out power close to what they produced when new. And sometimes I have to shovel down through a couple of feet of snow to bring them sunshine.

Mine freeze and thaw many, many times per winter. Freezing is not going to harm a panel unless it start to delam and lets some water leak in.

The longest term study I know of followed panels for 35 years and found that a small number of panels failed over the years but most continued to produce power within 10% of original specs.

Failures were largely due to connector failure and that technology has advanced.

Quite simple except that people will not accept the concomitant reduction in their standard of living, way of living, lifestyle, etc.

It really doesn't follow that there will be a reduction in standard of living; as I said, that will be a matter for markets and the price system. If average standard of living *can* be maintained (or grow) with a reducing level of fossil fuel input, then it probably will be. If it can't, then it shouldn't.

Even if there is a required reduction in standard of living, why will no-one accept this? The choice is "Maintain our standard of living (for a while) but then our planet becomes uninhabitable - oh dear" versus "Reduce our standard of living a bit, but then our planet remains habitable for future generations".

Put that way, only a few psychopaths would really want to maintain a planet-destroying standard of living. Some of us are that selfish, but not many. Most of us real human beings will sacrifice a lot for our children and grandchildren, and a large number of us will sacrifice a bit of income now to save for our own future selves.

The issue though is that individuals don't get to make the choice to save the world, because the political system doesn't give them that choice. I can't save the world myself by personally reducing my standard of living, not if no-one else does; so I won't. But if given a real chance to do so at the same time as everyone else, I would jump at the chance.

Again this shouldn't be a surprise. There's plenty of precedent in times of crisis, war etc. - normal, non-psychopath humans accept a lot of austerity, provided it is shared austerity, and is seen as necessary to get through the crisis.

The choice is "Maintain our standard of living (for a while) but then our planet becomes uninhabitable - oh dear" versus "Reduce our standard of living a bit, but then our planet remains habitable for future generations".

Like it or not, in the court of wider public opinion, that's still an unsubstantiated assertion, thus a false choice. Even the major environmental groups tend to tiptoe carefully around the notion of standard-of-living tradeoffs.

Like it or not, in the court of wider public opinion, that's still an unsubstantiated assertion, thus a false choice.

I guess it all depends on who you are willing to include in your wider public opinion poll...

Standards of living are perhaps inherently subjective. As an example, countries with a very small, very rich upper class and a very large, very poor lower class may have a high mean level of income, even though the majority of people have a low "standard of living". This mirrors the problem of poverty measurement, which also tends towards the relative. This illustrates how distribution of income can disguise the actual standard of living.

On the other hand, if your so called high quality of life ship, is sinking and you end up in one of the slightly lower quality of life, lifeboats, your fellow survivors may not take kindly to the fact that you seem to think that you are entitled to drinking twice your daily ration of water, while some of them get only half as much, It is not uncommon for such individuals to quietly fall overboard in the dead of night...

The Rwandan massacres were a case of those with nothing killing those with a little, as well as those few with much.

...but that is because I actually think it is more rewarding to ride a bike than drive a car, for example. Ask most people what quality of life is and [it] will not include things like non motorized activities...

Bingo. Actually I think the second sentence goes rather too far, but nonetheless, take the basic concept to heart, and leave aside a ton of the sort of angry frustration manifested regularly in these pages.

People are diverse, and the sort of diversity manifested in that observation may be more deeply important than superficial matters of, say, ethnicity. And it might just follow that haughty micromanagement of the details of people's lives (or strident advocacy of same) could often be expected to engender more angry pushback than it's worth. It also follows that getting upset over such matters will often prove to be an exercise in futility, even if, on occasion, it's entertaining in a Kunstler-esque sort of way.

Some people say to-may-toe; others say to-mah-toe. Some people act in community theater; others take fright at the thought of going onstage. Some people may bicycle around town (in season); others drive their cars almost exclusively. Some people may obsess about being "in shape"; others brush off the idea with the words "round is a shape". We're no longer confined to a few huts around the tribal campfire, so there's no need any more for everyone to do nearly everything for him- or herself. So it goes.

At that time, any randomly selected atom of carbon will either be in the rocks or in the air. What matters is where those atoms are.

There is a 3rd place - in biologically active systems.

Any carbon atom we let remain in the rock helps.

It is possible that taking C from the air, binding it in a plant, charring the plant, then burying the char may not only lock up the Carbon for a human generation or 2 but can also improve the quality of the topsoil.

Canada has one of the world's strongest economies? Were you being sarcastic - or ignorant?

"Don't look know but Canada just confirmed the first signal of a recession, after its GDP printed negative (on expectations of an unchanged number) for the first time since Q2 2009, due to a drop in exports and oil output, most of it blamed naturally on "transitory" factors. Odd how the US used the transitory line for months until it all turned out to be permanentory. What, however, is truly hilarious is the continued denial to look facts in the face as confirmed by the following three Canadian sellside analysts, who seem positively giddy that the number was major miss to expectations: their take home, just like as in the case of Canadian banks having some of the lowest TCE ratios in the world: "ignore it." Perhaps when next quarter Canadian GDP prints negative again, and the economy is officially in a recession, then the delightful comedy crew of what passes for "analysts" up north will have some words of caution finally. As for whether a recession confirmation in 3 months will be negative for the same banks which are downplaying both the GDP and its risk to their near world record leverage, we leave to the far more erudite, and far less shoot-from-the-hip Globe and Mail."


Fiat money = Fiat money - Canada is very DEPENDENT upon the United States and China. As they go - so does Canada.

No point in being rude with replies and posts.

Regardless, give me a country with ample water, food, fuel, space, fresh air, a medical system for all, etc etc etc.

If the world tanks, fine. We are all in trouble and will have to adapt. Meanwhile, I just finished filling the freezer with salmon, roasting chickens, and vegetables are stored and frozen for the winter. I'll take what we have and just make the best of it, I guess. I also know my Credit Union is in good shape, and all of our banks are okay, and I don't have to worry about getting blown away with a handgun. The other day I was looking for my wallet and realized I had left it in the truck for a few days. The windows were down and the keys are in the ignition so they don't get lost, too. We don't have to lock our doors, ever. We couldn't do this in Toronto or vancouver, granted, but we don't have to live there as there is work, elsewhere.

We may be officially in recession, and it may get hard, but we have hope and opportunity and a sense of fairness. Priceless. Yes, we are dependent on export to US and China.....read export....we have stuff to sell that folks need. Our living standards have always been more modest than US, with smaller houses, and less 'stuff', but over the past few years I have realized that for the most part we are on solid footing. As an old customer said to me, "it's not what you have or own...it's what you have paid for that matters". If I can generalize, we may be rabid socialists up here for most Americans, but financially, we are pretty conservative. It is a balance that works. Cheers.....paulo

I said that Canada has one of the world's strongest economies because I have been traveling extensively in the US in the last couple years, and I have friends who live and work in Europe (although I haven't been to Europe since 2008).

The difference between Canada (at least Western Canada) and the US is like night and day. The US is really in a lot of trouble, particularly as regards jobs, and Europe is having serious problems with its banking system, too.

Things are not really perky in Canada, but at least the banks are solvent, the national debt is under control, and you can find a good-paying job if you don't mind driving a large truck at 40 below in some place with more moose than people.

If you put all your savings into the wrong stocks or real estate investments, or want to earn a living screwing together cars for the American market, then, no, it's not so great.

Canada still has a great setup -- not too many people, lots of resources, and others who are willing to pay handsomely for raw materials and energy. Kinda like Norway, only more-so.

Just don't get to feeling that "Canadian exceptionalism", as that is a path to ruin. Just look south and see for yourself -- not long ago the US was in the same position.

Damn and double damn...I just wrote a comment out...almost finished...hit a key on my laptop with my oversize fingers and lost it all.

Anyway...point taken and pride does goeth before the fall. Plus, anything can happen anywhere....to anyone.

As JHK writes about cornpone nazis, I am very worried he is right. I am dismayed about the overt attacks on environmental legislation under the guise of job killing regulations. That is the biggest threat brewing for the US, (imo). The people can endure, Americans are not as soft as made out. Humans can be pretty resilient. But if they get locked up into the Military Complex designed to enrich a few, which many argue is already the case, then the entire world is in big trouble.

Maybe the best thing for everyone is a collapse and step down before the f-35s get built. I would like to see those carriers tied up for lack of fuel. I would like to see a grassroots movement calling for the removal of health plans and pensions for all politicians who vote against them for regular folks. The politicians calling for the dismantling of the 'social contract' need to be afraid of the light and crawl back in the laps of the uber rich. It is overt and out there, now, and dunces are at the rallies never realizing that they will never be in the club of good fortune, ever, despite which nutski button they sport on their coat.

When the Post Office is in danger of defaulting on bills, well, it has gone too far. Money for everything but we have to defend the Post Office? Come on, people. I think these are the stages of collapse.

Hopefully Obama has a radical speech for Thursday...a wake up and take notice that the world is different and this is what we need to do....and have the guts to fail by running on this in '12.

All the best....Paulo

The post office is a relic, a dinosaur in the age of mammals. It is a perfect example of why a steady-state economy falters -- high wages and lofty pensions built on the notion of a continuing cash-flow from business, personal, and advertising mail. Businesses who need speed now use Fedex and UPS. People use e-mail and texting. Advertising is increasingly digital, and varies with the economy.

There is no need for daily mail, yet cutting service intelligently would cut gov't and union jobs. Nothing will permit the necessarily smaller business to support the large number of retirees.

The only options are to prop up a dying service at taxpayer expense, thereby decreasing the efficiency of an already bloated gov't, or letting it go bankrupt and revising the pensions while reducing services. I suspect probably some of both.

The post office is a relic, a dinosaur in the age of mammals. It is a perfect example of why a steady-state economy falters -- high wages and lofty pensions built on the notion of a continuing cash-flow from business, personal, and advertising mail. Businesses who need speed now use Fedex and UPS. People use e-mail and texting. Advertising is increasingly digital, and varies with the economy.

Relic it may be, but NONE of my last jobs in the past five years would have existed without them. all of them used the post office to ship medications or other things to customers. Yet those same things you want to cut are needed to keep turnover low and stop 'postal rage' since it is a very stressful job due to congress refusing funding for complexes similar to ups and fed-ex that ease up the demands on the personal.
my prediction is that nothing will be done as it will be more advantageous for the tea baggers to have the post office default and stop service all together allowing them to falsely lay the blame on the current potus.

Surely your businesses could exist without subsidized postal rates? If not, the business in essence a subsidy of the gov't, and thereby the taxpayer. Why wouldn't taxpayers just pay more directly, and cut out the middle-man?

People in the USPS can always choose to quit, and apply to UPS. Around here, there are still waiting lists for letter carriers at least. Everybody has a stressful job, and lack of funding for adequate infrastructure is the norm.

Anyway, my key point is that it is silly to have daily subsidized service to your house, when unsubsidized services come everyday as well. If you want cheap universal service, you should get something cheap, routine, and infrequent. If you need fast, pony up and pay for it.

Surely your businesses could exist without subsidized postal rates? If not, the business in essence a subsidy of the gov't, and thereby the taxpayer. Why wouldn't taxpayers just pay more directly, and cut out the middle-man?

so one of the largest mail order prescription services who uses usps due to it's universal coverage is a tax payer subsidized company? i just love this absurd logic, it's hilarious. it's like saying everyone uses public transport because we all drive on roads owned and maintained by the government.
i used to work for these guy's.
in their mail order division, prescription solutions. 90 to 95% by volume was either first class or priority mail from the post office. despite the size if the usps stops services completely they would have to close that division.
and this won't be the only company. thousands rely on the services of the usps. if last month's job report was bad imagine the one after all those companies have to close up shop.

Good Point TK !

Radically changing postal services is another "infrastructure failure" that will require adaptation and "work arounds".

Losing Saturday delivery will require minimal changes. Going to 3 days/week will require more changes. And beyond that the adaptation curve begins to climb.


It's not an "infrastructure failure".

It's a technology shift.

We just don't snail mail much any longer. We've moved to a faster and more efficient form of communication.

Almost all the mail that shows up in my box is adverting junk. Retailers can spend their money other ways. UPS or USPS or FedEx could delivered once a week and most people would be fine with that.

We gave up the telegraph. We're giving up land land telephones. They quit making typewriters and adding machines long ago. None of those things failed. Something better came along.

Universal mail delivery is still ESSENTIAL infrastructure.


Maybe the people that use the post-office for drugs and other critical deliveries should pay for the service. It is subsidized and I am tired of subsidizing those that rail against Big Government. People that use a service NEED to PAY for it. When did we get this lame-brain idea to subsidize living in the remotest places in the Country?

The post-office is having a heck of a time with pensions, Congressionally controlled rates, email, and fuel costs. Any one problem could be surmounted, but all 4 mean the end of the institution.

Those that live away from the city and want meds better calculate the real cost of delivery by FED-EX. It will not be cheap. But I can see the Federal Program to Subsidize Fed-Ex. That will be the plan.

"When did we get this lame-brain idea to subsidize living in the remotest places in the Country?"

At the birth of the nation (see "Benjamin Franklin", et al.)

You see, it was recognized early on that it is to everyone's benefit if everyone's plugged in. You can use the dirty word "subsidy", but it's really "society".

Maybe the rates aren't tuned right all the time, and maybe some services are obsolete, but the city receives benefits from the rural areas. You know, stuff like "food", "water", "timber", "minerals".

There are much more grotesque subsidies going on than the Postal Service, by orders of magnitude.

Article I Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States

The Congress shall have Power ... To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

Well Congress and the USPS needs to innovate imho. The current thinking is dull to say the least.

We used to think a lot harder about curbing fuel costs and waste when we had Victory Gardens and Victory Mail. Oh well that was the past. We will continue on with the wasteful US lifestyle.

From Wikipedia:

Between 1942 and 1945, "V-Mail" (for "Victory Mail") service was available for military mail. Letters were converted into microfilm and reprinted near the destination, to save room on transport vehicles for military cargo.[32]

Most mail could be converted into electronic format and sent to remote areas for consumers. Google could do it for people. How silly are we being about this and why does the USPS wait to innovate?

I am wondering if they are all bumbling fools. Actually, we know the answer. The folks for Big Corp X want to get free money so the tug of war will begin and a "law" will be written to help Big Corp X in some special way. Currently it seems we are favoring the waste of tons of fossil fuels.

Actually, we DON'T subsidize the US Postal Service anymore - don't you remember the 1970s, when Nixon set it on a program of financial independence - that's one of those zombie myths that won't die no matter how many facts you drive through it's heart (another favorite myth is the one that US spends gobs of money on foreign aid). Here, read for yourself



The USPS is a self-supporting business.

The USPS is a self-supporting business....which is running a $9.2 billion deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept 30?

The USPS is going to have to make some operational changes. We don't use the Post Office like we used to. I have essentially no necessary mail arriving by letter box any longer.

I'd have zero problem with 1x, 2x or 3x per week delivery. I doubt many would.

Very few of us have something that we have to get ASAP. When it does happen it's more like once every few years. It wouldn't hurt to have that stuff come by UPS or USPS special Delivery.

But, point is, the myth that taxpayers subsidize the Post Office is false.

Every year the post office gets a bail out basically from the US Treasury. You need to read my arguments above. People in population-dense regions are paying for other people to get cheap mail service. It is a subsidy from cities to rural areas. Well OK. But rural folks that argue about poor city folks getting freebies should think for a minute what benefits they are getting from the Big G.

Those are my points.

The system requires massive rate hikes -- pure and simple -- cause you need workers and fuel to delivery packages all over the place, and especially more so to remote regions.

The Congress will resolve the issue by closing the Post Office and subsidizing Fed-Ex and UPS imho. It is called Privatization and I imagine rural areas will get subsidized rates from the US Treasury. So everyone will be happy. We get rid of Big Gobbermint. We keel Union jobs and rural folks get cheap mail as they did before. Oh and Fed-EX and UPS get some free bank from Uncle Sam.

That covers it.

Please give us a reliable link to those bailout amounts.

I find only that the USPS is not subsidized. That is the official statement from the USPS.

Bailouts would be a subsidy.

Loans that cannot be paid are a perhaps unwitting subside. There is a lot of that going on, but the USPS, like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, will be backstopped for the good of banks and other investors.

Bankruptcy keeps lenders honest. Bailouts at the national level have no such check and balance -- they pit the people against their gov't. Poor trade, in my book.

The USPS is currently in a pickle. Congress has been compelling them to offer services which they cannot afford to offer.

They will not be able to make some upcoming payments out of their existing revenue.

This is a new problem created by the internet and will have to be solved. It might be that it will take some taxpayer money to fix the current problem.

That does not mean that the USPS has been receiving subsidies as was falsely claimed.

Let's not play moving goal posts, shall we?

I'm glad you've come around to my way of thinking!

As I'd already stated, I learned upthread that there are no longer any significant direct subsidies (only about $100M per year). There are however significant indirect subsidies via treasury lines of credit. With a quick Google, it's not clear whether USPS owes much money to others, but it is quite clear that most of the support and risk is indeed borne by the US taxpayers. The taxpayer is probably also on the hook for eventual pension shortfalls.

It's hard to see how the taxpayer won't eat most of the $15B in current debt, and as much as $50B in pensions as USPS slowly and expensively fails. Like FHA, FM, and FM, semi-governmental entities with complex gov't support structures encourage poor decisions by both the agencies and Congress, resulting in fiscally inefficient operations.

So, let's say "few subsidies" but "many obligations", shall we?

WHOA -- wait a minute to deliver a letter from Oakland is an order of magnitude cheaper than a letter from a remote area, but the first class stamp is the same price.

People need to pay for the fuel and personelle to deliver the piece of mail. That is why the system is going to explode. You cannot have long-distance to post-office be the same rate as short distance to post-office.

The system also does not have junk mail pay at the right rate (first class). This is a joke to have work being done on junk mail at a subsidized level. Work should be done first on essential mail delivery. Junk mail should not exist or it should pay for the service.

These issues are all well known problems. But people need to pay for the service. I have to pay to cross a bridge because I use the bridge. I have no problem with that.

Why is it controversial to pay for mail delivery to remote areas?

If you think post office has "high wages and lofty pensions" you don't know anyone who ever worked at the post office. Or you have a very low standard of retirement income.

It is unfortunate that most defined benefit pension schemes, both public and private, became ponzi schemes. Yet the current trend in the private sector to defined contribution probably will set up most working class people for a cold, hungry retirement. Most people will choose to buy new shoes for their children rather than put that money into a 401k.

There is no need for daily mail...

Paleocon, Congress should have dropped Saturday delivery a couple of years ago. Mail volume is dropping every year. I can envision in the not too distance future only receiving delivery three days a week. The sooner Congress acts to lift the 6 day a week delivery the better.

Actually I could see keeping Sat, but on two every-other-day rotations: M-W-F, T-Th-S. Then you could double on vehicles and sorting equipment.

Rotations of M-Th and T-F would work too, though. We have trash pickup on that schedule, with Weds being a depot/repair/training day.

Nothing like shipping ebay goods priority mail coast to coast 2 days for $11. Washington State to Key West, two days sometimes three - send Thurs, arrive Saturday. FedEx is much slower, unless express for $85 or more. USPS is a bargain.

Well, sure, whatever, just tear the whole place to the ground and rebuild it to ethereal specifications given from on high by the latest lot of fashionably addled big-city academics. And rebuild it out of fairy-dust since using actual materials that are mined and processed at non-zero energy cost would presumably be disallowed on philosophical grounds. And rebuild it fast before the next lot of addled academics changes the specifications again.

Lots of luck indeed. Back in the real world, and like everyone else from the dawn of time, they'll no doubt do a fair bit of rebuilding, but to a great degree they'll making do (or not) with what they have.

The real real world is rapidly heating up, and may be in for a rather abrupt jolt in the very near future.


I have no expectation that the potentially earth shattering significance of this story may have for the planet's climate future, but for those with eyes to see...

Here's another article on this development that gives a bit more context:


Back in the real world, and like everyone else from the dawn of time, they'll no doubt do a fair bit of rebuilding, but to a great degree they'll making do (or not) with what they have.

Uh huh!

FROM ABOVE: Companies shun Nigerian

“A top management official…told THISDAY…that no rational entrepreneur would build a private refinery in (Nigeria).”

Did seem obvious and not much of a story at first. But with a bit of speculation on my part this could be the beginning of very significant events as we slide further down the PO trail. A variety of reasons why it would be very difficult if not impossible for private enterprises to invest the $billions. But there is one player who could take it on: China. They have both the deep pockets and desire to continue to lock up energy resources around the globe. Nigerian corruption is legend but, unlike many companies who are restricted by law/internal policies, China has no problem working in this theater. I recall years ago an expat consultant joking about a project in which the published project budget of this particular Chinese oil company had a specific line item designated “Local Bribes”.

I have no doubt that if China were to invest all those billions in refinery construction as well as millions in bribes it would include exclusive rights to the oil/products of one of the largest exporters remaining. Shell Oil may own a lot of Nigerian oil but it can’t export it from Nigeria without a license to do so. It can do so now because the govt has no choice: it suvives suley on oil revenue. But if China can replace that revenue by buying the production and refining it locally the expat operators will lose their one bargaining chip. And if Shell et al threaten to stop drilling in Nigeria? I’m sure China would jump right in and replace them.

And a bit of irony: the US couldn’t even criticize Nigeria for banning the export of its state owned oil: it’s illegal to export oil from US federal leases.

FROM ABOVE: Companies shun Nigerian
“A top management official…told THISDAY…that no rational entrepreneur would build a private refinery in (Nigeria).”

And yet, this is an environment to build fission reactors in.

There are already 2 nuclear research centers at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria and another in the capital, Abuja. In June 2008, the G8 expressed concerns over Nigeria's quest for nuclear energy, citing concerns over safety and security. Some G8 members specifically questioned the nation's level of responsibility. Despite these and other issues, on December 3rd, 2009, the IAEA approved Nigeria's application to build a reactor in Abuja.

Nigerian corruption is legend but, unlike many companies who are restricted by law/internal policies, China has no problem working in this theater. I recall years ago an expat consultant joking about a project in which the published project budget of this particular Chinese oil company had a specific line item designated “Local Bribes”.

Spot on, Rockman. China can play this game better than anyone else not only because it is not bound by anti-corruption laws/ethics like some companies are, but also, because that is how business is done in China!

A colleague of mine who worked in China said that there are no bribes, just "contributions to local prosperity" - put in that way, it doesn't sound much different to current US politics!

Yesterday, Ms. Bachmann appeared on the CBS show Face the Nation. During the interview, she repeated her claims that her administration would bring down the retail price of gasoline to $2.00 a gallon. CBS also posted a great Fact Check article about her claims on their web site, showing how difficult it will be for her to fulfill her guarantee...

E. Swanson

While she won't use the word "subsidy", I suspect that would be how it would happen. It may even be her intent.

By limiting the gasoline subsidy to counties without significant public transportation, a $2.00 a gallon subsidy could very cleanly be provided to Republican voters while being paid for by Democratic voters.

We can always print up another $100 billion a year. And after all, Democrats are socialists who all want to ride Government-run buses anyway.

Ms. Bachmann said that we should drill everywhere we need to for oil, including the Everglades.

Fortunately some sources I have read claim that there is likely little oil to be had from drilling there.


Bachmann's biggest enemy is her own mouth. She makes Regan ("My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.") look downright presidential. Her best shot is to become Perry's 'Dan Quayle'.

NBC/WSJ just came out with a poll that puts Bachmann way down in the polls. She is sinking like a rock.

Rick Perry        38
Mitt Romney       23
Ron Paul           9
Michele Bachmann   8

NBC/WSJ Poll: Perry Holds Commanding Lead Over Romney

Ron P.

Sure, but politics is about "optics", since hardly any voters have anything like enough time to understand what's going on except by way of using quick shortcuts. So until the government is seen as doing everything it can to promote, and not impede, production, those arguments will continue to have traction. In order to be seen that way, I would guess that among other things, like it or not, and simply as a matter of tactics, the government will have to be seen as throwing some of the environmental groups under the bus. So it goes.

Yeah cause plentiful oil is so believable. I do not know a single person that thinks oil will be cheap -- no matter how hard they try. When you see M.B. talk about it -- it gives the appearance that oil is doomed -- since she appears somewhat soft on the science.

Well, we tend to live in silos now, courtesy of, among many other things, the latest Internet search algorithms that show people only the "side" of any issue which they want to see. Sure, highly plentiful oil may indeed be "believable[-not]" in the TOD silo. But in other silos it may be not only "believable", but actually believed, and regardless of whether you or I happen to have discussed it with anyone there lately. One need only contemplate the constant conspiracy-theory talk about gasoline prices - or the steady trickle of legislators who think they can give everyone the gift of abundant cheap gas merely by imposing price controls.

That's why I figure that as a precondition of "change", governments and so on will have to be seen as trying, and, if they fail, failing only after trying genuinely rather than giving the appearance of holding back shyly at, say, the behest of professional pressure groups with all manner of nostalgic or Luddite axes to grind. (Perhaps the latest fuss over EPA ozone regs needs to be understood in that light.)

Rockman wrote some interesting stuff about the potential for and problems with oil development in the Everglades and Florida in general--a few days ago when this first came up.

Bachman's original comment included, "...,so long as it doesn't damage the environment." I laughed out loud. Then she expanded her guaranteed drilling permission to "anywhwere," also qualifying it with her concern for the environment. I laughed more.

Could be that she is just not very adept at repeating the talking points she has received from ALEC or the Heritage Foundation. Too often she seems not to realize, much less understand, what her own mouth is saying. She's weird.

Today, in S.C., she said that Obama's health care bill forces citizens to purchase insurance as "a condition of citizenship." It was played on NPR this evening during story of a "forum" for candidates in South Carolina. Perry used (not unreasonably) Texas fires as reason not to participate. Wonder if he will show up for their "debate" on MSNBC.


Lizzie - Thanks...hadn't heard Good Hair Perry was bugging out. "Perry used (not unreasonably) Texas fires as reason not to participate." No disrepect but I can't buy this as a "reasonable" excuse. I'm in Texas and the firefighters are putting their lives on the line 24/7. Hundreds of families are dealing with their heartbreaking losses 24/7. I can easily give them a pass for missing the the debate. But Rick...I think he could take a day off the line and make the debate. If he wants to give some uplifting support to Texans he should show up at the debate and kick *ss. That would do more for Texas morale than a few photo ops with firefighters. Texans, even those who might not support Perry, would enjoy watching a Texan beat up on some Yankees. Just our nature. LOL.

How about trying not praying?
It couldn't hurt!

Re: Rogozin Calls Libya a NATO War for Oil, up top:

Of course it was.

The other day a prominent commenter on TOD stated that military expenditures were not considered subsidies. Until the last 20 years that may have been true.

But when military expenditures serve one particular industry over a long period of time they are in fact subsidies to that industry.

Today's perpetual wars are in fact camouflaged oil subsidies.

Without them oil supplies would likely be more insecure and prices even higher.


Okay, here is the situation for Libya under Gaddafi. Libya was producing flat out at about 1.6 million barrels per day. And most of that oil was sold on the open world market. And if Gaddafi had stayed in power Libya would have continued producing flat out, with their output slowly declining with depletion.

But the war stopped all that. Their output is now about 50 thousand barrels per day. In three years, more or less, they will be back above 1 million barrels per day. But they will not likely ever again produce 1.6 million barrels per day. But what oil that is produced will be sold on the world market just as it was under Gaddafi.

So how was this a war for oil? What was gained for the world oil supply by this war? I just told you what was lost now someone tell me what was gained?

By the way the Youtube video you posted was really great. Mostly about the Republicans and the Military Industrial Complex. It hit the nail on the head.

Ron P.

Since most of that sweet Libyan oil was sold to Europe,

Over 85 percent of its crude exports go to Europe, while around 13 percent goes east of the Suez Canal to Asia. Around 32 percent of Libyan oil goes to Italy, 14 percent to Germany, 10 percent to China and France and 5 percent to the United States.

... about a third to credit-swamped Italy, one could come to the conclusion that this, indeed, was a NATO war for oil, except for the fact that that Europeans were already getting the lion's share. Oh, those pesky rebels!

Methinks this was mostly a war to maintain the status quo...

The oil was sold on the open market. The highest bidder got the oil. And when Libya becomes an oil exporter the highest bidder will again get the oil. Oil is fungible. It was while Gaddafi was in power and it will remain fungible after Gaddafi.

Methinks the war was about the Libyan people wanting to get rid of their oppressive dictator. And since Gaddafi caused so much trouble, bombing airlines and other things, NATO just naturally supported the rebels.

It started in Tunisia. The Tunisian civil war had nothing to do with oil. Then it spread to Egypt. The Egyptian civil war had nothing to do with oil. Then it spread to Libya. But now, suddenly, because Libya is a major oil exporter, it is all about oil. Bull!

Ron P.

UK / France started the military intervention to support the rebels, with US grudging (but very real) support. Given that the UK in particular had been a close ally with Gadaffi the previous 5 years, in a clearly political move to gain access to (contracts to further development of) Libyan oil fields, this was a major change of allegiance. It could be that we were concerned that too many oil contracts were going to China, or that the rate of development was too slow, or it could be that we genuinely thought Gadaffi had gone too far to continue to openly support him. If we were not going to support him, it was clearly in our interests to get rid of him as quickly as possible, in order to avoid civil war doing serious damage to the oil fields.

So we went in, (some) guns blazing, and we seem to be near the end game, after 6 months. How much damage was done to the oil infrastructure remains to be seen, but we are now major allies to the NPR who seem genuinely grateful for us winning their war without too many civilian casualties and who will almost certainly give UK /French companies rebuilding contracts. Result.

Several other countries had similar rebellions, with equally brutal dictators, but in countries with less or no oil. We have not militarily supported any of those rebellions. This is not coincidence.

I suspect the catalyst was wheat. Russia's harvest was weak due to excessive heat. They did not export and the resulting price increases (Egypt being the main Russian wheat client) destabilized Egypt and Tunisa. Social unrest spread.

Unrest not-withstanding, "coalition" forces seem highly correlated with securing oil, don't you think?

Libya has oil, so it's revolution, unlike Tunisa's, Egypt's, Bahrain's, or Syria's, received military support.

This is a coincidence?

Unrest not-withstanding, "coalition" forces seem highly correlated with securing oil, don't you think?

Libya has oil, so it's revolution, unlike Tunisa's, Egypt's, Bahrain's, or Syria's, received military support.

It is not nearly that simple.
Tunisia was over and done quickly.
Egypt has been an ally for decades and their military is intertwined with ours. There is no way we would bomb them.
Bahrain is a tiny little island off Saudi Arabia. We would not go against Saudi's wishes there. (That is the oil interest there.)
Syria borders Israel and is not at peace with Israel so it brings up that issue. Plus Syria has close relations with Iran thus it could be a proxy war with Iran.
Besides oil, Libya had Ghadaffi who has long been a thorn in the side of the USA. Reagan bombed him. And the Saudis didn't like him.

I'm sure oil plays a part in it all . . . but just a part. All sorts of other Realpolitik aspects play a bigger role.

There's is a great article from Pepe Escobar at the Asia Times about Libya


Let's start with the basics. The Frogs did it. It's always worth repeating; this is a French war. The Americans don't even call it a war; it's a "kinetic action" or something. The "rebel" Transitional National Council" (TNC) is a French invention.

And yes - this is above all neo-Napoleonic President Nicolas Sarkozy's war. He's the George Clooney character in the movie (poor Clooney). Everybody else, from David of Arabia Cameron to Nobel Peace Prize winner and multiple war developer Barack Obama, are supporting actors.

As already reported by Asia Times Online, this war started in October 2010 when Gaddafi's chief of protocol, Nuri Mesmari, defected to Paris, was approached by French intelligence and for all practical purposes a military coup d'etat was concocted, involving defectors in Cyrenaica.

My understanding of the Libyan war was always that the rebels started the war themoment they realized they had a chance to rid Kadaffi. (A noble case, in my opinion). "We" went in and helped when we realized we would not get their oil until the situation stabilized. The sooner they win, the faster oil production will comence. And also, they will probably be more favourable to exporting to those who helped them.

Throw Europe's desire to avoid a large(r) influx of refugees from North Africa into the mix of causes.

And the lack of the Lockerbie bomber's quick death from cancer....

He was not the Lockerbie bomber. The so called witnesses were paid 4 million each and later said they had lied. Let us remember Lockerbie came after the US shot down an Iran passenger plane with 450 innocent women and children aboard. Basically an eye for an eye the best international justice gets.

Europe had no refugee problem before Obama's war of aggression against the people of Libya.

Europe had no refugee problem before Obama's war of aggression against the people of Libya.

That would be news to the citizens of Lampedusa.

But now, suddenly, because Libya is a major oil exporter, it is all about oil. Bull!

And you know this "fact" because?

(here we go again) eric, Shhhh!

Maybe these NATO military guys just needed the practice, an excuse to dispose of some old weapons, or a chance to test their new ones. Besides, there's nothing sadder than a bunch of military guys who've never seen conflict... They'll all get pretty ribbons for their dress uniforms ;-/

More oil will not be produced because of the Libyan civil war. Less oil will be produced because of the war. A lot less! Over 1.5 million barrels per day less for at least two years, perhaps a lot longer. And Libya will likely never again produce 1.6 million barrels per day.

On very rare occasions, we need to use just a little common sense. But mind you, we should only do this on very rare occasions, such as a time like this.

Ron P.

NATO didn't start the war, the rebels did. This left the US and the UK with a dilemma, as they'd invested quite a bit in brining Gaddafi on side. For the other Europeans it presented an opportunity to break the US/UK hold on Libya via Gaddafi and open it up for their own companies (namely France and Italy). With the likelihood of the rebels winning as it seemed at the time, the US and UK had to make a choice, stick with Gaddafi or jump sides to be on the winning side and thwart the French and Italians.

So yes it was about the oil. The loss of production was unavoidable, Hobson's choice was the only choice allowed as it was an unplanned, a black swan event.

Good points. And of course, if the rebels felt deeply in the debt of Europe and the US, they may feel less likely to "keep the oil under their sand for their grandkids."

Of course the next dilemma is now rearing its ugly head. Nato obviously wants to install the usual kleptocratic model that has served it so well over the years. But the Rebels aren't the product of US/NATO strategic planning as is normally the case and are essentially a rogue element. The Rebels may well exercise free choice and put in power an unacceptable government. If this happens then the US and the UK will probably instigate a dirty war.

It sounds like there is enough internal division among the rebels that they will not have much of a problem fomenting dissent among some of the factions and then blaming it on 'those disorganized natives.'

Unseemly Scrabble for Libya’s Post-Gaddafi Oil Assets Underway

On 3 April a letter was allegedly sent by Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) to a coalition partner, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, which mentioned that France would take "35 percent of crude oil...in exchange for its total and permanent support" of the NTC. France’s Liberation daily reported on Thursday that it had a copy of the letter, which stated that the NTC’s Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam, would negotiate the deal with France. In 2010 France was the second purchaser of Libyan oil after Italy, with over 15 percent of its “black gold” imported from Tripoli.

France gaining the upper hand certainly seemed to have focused the US/UK's minds on the issues at stake. After being begrudgingly forced into supporting the rebellion against their ally Gaddafi, whilst back peddling in an attempt to hedge their bets, it would seem the sight of France getting preferential access to the oil finally got them off the fence.

Who knows why American Empire chooses to do what it does? It's fun to speculate, yes, but ultimately we have to accept that those in power will choose to yield that power, in ways that are difficult to comprehend and that seem contrary to common sense.

Does anybody know what is going in Obama's head? Or Bernanke's? Or Blankfein's? Or Petraeus's?
Whatever it is, it's probably not good. It's probably desperate.

I love how everyone somehow believes that American Empire knows what it is doing, that it's competent, that it acts in the best interest of the world and of the American people.

It does not! American Empire only serves itself, Wall Street, and some very well connected people and corporations. That's it. In fact, it's probably the wet dream of many a powerful people in our military and in D.C. to just nuke half the world's population in one go.

So why are we doing what we are doing in Libya? Or Iraq? Or Afghanistan? Who knows. All we can infer is that there is profit to be made somewhere, and that this profit flows to the military, big finance, and corporations.

I'm not complaining. It just is what it is: a powerful but failing Empire lashing out, intervening in far flung places, using blunt military force - to justify itself, to give itself a reason for being and to protect the flow of fossil fuel profits to the well connected deemed "too big to fail."

> All we can infer is that there is profit to be made somewhere, and that this profit flows to the military, big finance, and corporations.

Spot on. The right lens through which to view this is Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine". The more instability, the more opportunities to grab the wealth.

Oilman Sachs, you have said it perfectly.

NATO didn't start the war, the rebels did. This left the US and the UK with a dilemma, as they'd invested quite a bit in brining Gaddafi on side.

Yes. Investments like helping Gaddafi hunt down "rebels".

Documents found in the abandoned Tripoli office of Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence chief indicate the U.S. and British spy agencies helped the fallen strongman persecute Libyan dissidents

With the likelihood of the rebels winning as it seemed at the time, the US and UK had to make a choice, stick with Gaddafi or jump sides to be on the winning side and thwart the French and Italians.

Are you kidding? The Rebels were about to be crushed! Ghadaffi had air force jets, helicopters, tanks, artillery, and an organized military to wield all those weapons. The rebels were pushed back in Benghazzi and about to be slaughtered. We could have done nothing, Ghadaffi would have taken back control, and oil would be pumping right now. So if we were ONLY concerned about oil, we would have done nothing.

But instead we decided to back the rebels and had NATO destroy all of Ghadaffi's air force and armor. It was a risky move that paid off (so far). Cameron, Sarkozy, and Obama deserve credit for making the call in spite of the war fatigue we were suffering.

France and its European allies were prepared to go it alone without the US and the UK. There was no way that Gaddafi was going to win against the Rebels backed by France. Oil contracts were at stake.

Prior to the outbreak of conflict, Libya was exporting about 1.3-1.4 million barrels per day from production estimated at roughly 1.79 million barrels per day, of which approximately 280,000 barrels per day were indigenously consumed. But analysts believe that with reconstruction Libya could soon be exporting 1.6 million barrels per day of high-quality, light crude.

But current production is the proverbial mere drop in the bucket. Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa with 42 billion barrels of oil and over 1.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Causing oil company executives from Houston to Beijing to drool on their Gucci loafers, only 25 percent of Libya’s territory has been explored to date for hydrocarbons.

Cameron, Sarkozy, and Obama don't deserve credit for anything.

France and its European allies were prepared to go it alone without the US and the UK. There was no way that Gaddafi was going to win against the Rebels backed by France. Oil contracts were at stake.

Citation please. I seriously don't think France would have gone it alone w/o the UN council resolution. And w/o the US & UK, there is no way that UN council resolution would have passed. There was too much for France to take on alone . . . the US was needed to take out the air defense systems with HARMs and cruise missiles.

Yes there is lots of oil in Libya . . . and Ghadaffi was putting it on the market just like we wanted. BP even had development deals in Libya.

You can't just point to oil and then say "It was all about oil because they have oil!" Libya was already selling us the oil, so we gain pretty much nothing!

Sarkozy's Libyan surprise

France's more assertive stand began to emerge last week. The French were looking seriously at the military planning needed to establish a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace, which would take several weeks to make operational, said one official at the time. They would "far prefer" this to take place with UN backing, though they recognised that this would be difficult; they were sceptical about going in under a NATO umbrella because of the alliance’s image in the Arab world as an American tool.

France clearly spear-headed the NATO alliance against Quadaffi. BHL was a big public figure in France behind the effort. But that article does not at all convince me that they were prepared to take on Libya alone.

BTW, it is too bad the USA didn't listen to France in the past. With their disaster in Algiers and their sizable Arab minority, the French clearly understand the Arab world much better than we do. We should have took their advice when they pointed out that Iraq was not a good idea. And this Libyan action clearly was much more rational.

That is my understanding too. Libya has always been divided on tribal grounds, with Benghazi bearing the scars of a number of fairly brutal supressions over the years of Ghaddafi rule. Once uprisings had formented change in Tunisia and Egypt, it was clear that the Rebel faction would try likewise in Libya. We were activily pursuing business interests in both Tripoli and Benghazi prior to the rebellion and we were informed several days in advance of the exact day of the initial unrest by our local agents - events which duely occured.

However, historically Italy has been the major trading partner, due to colonial links and proximity. Italy remains a major supplier of hardware and services. France also has a long tradition of operation in Lybia. Both countries also have a vested interest in stability in Libya to contain the political and economic issue of illegal migrants crossing into southern Europe.

(Libya also has some of the best preserved Roman remians to be seen anywhere. Leptis Magna is stunning)

More oil will not be produced because of the Libyan civil war. Less oil will be produced because of the war. A lot less! Over 1.5 million barrels per day less for at least two years, perhaps a lot longer. And Libya will likely never again produce 1.6 million barrels per day.

Nice handwave - look over here, I've got jazz hands kind of handwaving.

1.6 million of a Nationalized oil production typically means less in Corporate pockets VS 1.5 million un-Nationalized. Announcements of 'nationalize the oil' have been made by Libyan leadership for years.

Control of supply means more than supply. Especially if you have other stock of oil you can sell.

On very rare occasions, we need to use just a little common sense. But mind you, we should only do this on very rare occasions, such as a time like this.

So your claim is without actual factual backing. A fine appeal to emotion however.

I did ask for facts however.

"Libyan rebels to honor all oil contracts

DUBAI: Libya's rebel government will honor all energy contracts granted legally under Muammar Qaddafi's 42-year rule and work to restore oil output to prewar levels within a year, said rebel reconstruction leader Ahmed Jehani."...


Plenty of others involved have spoken in the same vein, which pretty much means that after repairs things go back to BAU in the Libyan oil fields. Keeping in mind also that there was already a big rush of "the majors" into Libya in 2004, and their overall experience was disappointing as far as big new fields or opportunities.

So I don't think oil had much to do with the revolution, though it probably raised the stress-levels at NATO quite bit as things dragged along. The final push that took Tripoli was apparently crafted and orchestrated from Europe, leaving little to chance.

So I don't think oil had much to do with the revolution, though it probably raised the stress-levels at NATO quite bit as things dragged along.

There is a difference between 'oil had something to do' and a position of 'oil had nothing to do' with the reaction of the various groups in the 'kinetic action' in Libia.

Water may have had a hand in the issue.

But its not like anyone in Governments will be honest with us.

The U.S./European block was not militarily involved in Tunisia nor Egypt, but took an active role in shaping the Libyan situation. Why?




Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

And for the bonus round:


Almost .4 M bbls/day of production...not too exciting

Of course we had some scores to settle, not just to feel good, but to send messages to others...screw the consuming cartel, and eventually we will engineer your replacement (See Saddam Hussein).

Ron, you might want to check out this article from back in March (in fact, a just a few days before NATO and the US suddenly decided to go all "humanitarian" on Kadafi).



Here is a fairly well balanced article about the oil production and distribution situation in Libya:

September 5, 2011 5:48 pm
Damage will delay full flow of Libya crude

By Javier Blas in Benghazi

Libyan oil production will not return to pre-war levels until late next year at the earliest, with many of the country’s oil facilities having suffered heavy damage and looting during the conflict, according to the newly appointed chairman of the country’s National Oil Company.


I agree that Libya may never get back to the production levels seen before February. This is not a prediction - but why should we expect that the oil industry will smoothly return to normal. In fact, until they return to normal, they will somewhat act as a drain on supplies of refined products - such as gasoline - to build up their infrastructure.

Glencore signs fuels contract with Libya's NTC
Mon Sep 5, 2011 12:20pm EDT

"They are supplying products. The deal was for two shipments of gasoline and two shipments of gasoil," said an industry source in Libya familiar with the transaction.


Extra gasoline demand from Libya, and also from Brazil, due to their falling output of the sugar ethanol, is one factor keeping the price of high quality crude up even as the US and Euro zone experience widespread financial problems.

Charles - "I agree that Libya may never get back to the production levels seen before February." Maybe...maybe not...I don't know and won't predict. BUT: take this with a grain of salt - there may be a significant amount of oil to develop in Libya. A while back I knew some fellows trying to develop Libyan reserves particularly offshore. I wish I could offer some credible numbers but can't.

So why weren't these reserves developed under the Colonel? The stories (partially BS I'm sure) I heard: a general satisfaction with BAU by the govt. It seems to have been confirmed that very little of the oil wealth filtered down to the citizens. Plenty money to satisfy the ruling class and military.

But even accepting stories that have been hyped to lure investors, the govt will still have to develop into an oil patch friendly environment. Again, good reasons to doubt that this might happen anytime soon. Or it could happen overnight if the new PTB see this as the only way to provide promises made. Gaining freedom isn't free...cost blood. But maintaining freedom isn't free either especially if you have a society with few other resources or industries. Those folks who have been held down for decades will want a growing economy. That requires capex. And that will require oil sales.

No prediction...just a wnadering thought.

Even though it does appear there are some undeveloped oil reserves in Libya, it doesn't appear that there will be the will and ability to develop those reserves before other oil fields peak and go into decline.

But you raise an interesting point, that is we will probably see a type of environment that the PTB need to bring Libya's oil infrastructure or more or less back where it was before - or we won't - and we may see the opposite because politics and war has fragmented Libya too much to put it back together soon.

You are correct.

Jimmy Carter issued the 'Carter Doctrine':


stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf region.

Reagan Corollary:

proclaimed that the United States would intervene to protect Saudi Arabia, whose security was threatened after the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War. Thus, while the Carter Doctrine warned away outside forces from the region, the Reagan Corollary pledged to secure internal stability. According to diplomat Howard Teicher, "with the enunciation of the Reagan Corollary, the policy ground work was laid for Operation Desert Storm."

President Truman:

In October 1950, President Harry Truman wrote to King Ibn Saud that "the United States is interested in the preservation of the independence and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. No threat to your Kingdom could occur which would not be a matter of immediate concern to the United States."

President Roosevelt:

On February 16, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States."

1903, from Britain:

British Foreign Secretary Lord Landsdowne warned Russia and Germany that the British would "regard the establishment of a naval base or of a fortified port in the Persian Gulf by any other power as a very grave menace to British interests, and we should certainly resist it with all the means at our disposal."

There are other references...

We (the U.S.) are 'all in' when it comes to keeping the ME oil flowing

We had some folks years ago argue vehemently that Operation Iraqi Freedom had nothing or little to do with oil....their statements to this point were incorrect.

Edit: Why have we (U.S/NATO/Europeans) not intervened in Syria?

Why did the U.S. create the new 'Africa Command' (AFRICOM)?



It wasn't to feed the children or protect the endangered species...

Our invasion of Iraq diminished its oil production as well...temporarily...methinks these moves on the chess board have a longer-term strategy...whether that strategy is moral, or even will work as intended...No, and probably not.

Yair...so how much Iraqi oil heads 'States side? I thought Chinese oilco's won out in the last round of "allocations"...and wasn't there a photo of a from here to the horizon long convoy of Kamaz oilfield trucks being delivered overland to Iraq...they're Russian of course.

Just asking


What makes you think the U.S., the Europeans, China, Japan, and Russia aren't coordinating their positions?

OPEC is a cartel of produces...think of the above-mentioned countries as a cartel of consumers.

Two other fundamental points:

1. KSA is the crown jewel

2. Long-term (as long as possible) control and stability are the goals. Islamic fundamentalism is the common enemy (to the House of Saud and the GCC, and to the consuming cartel).

The difficulties managing things in the ME makes the acquisition or partnership (however one wants to put it) of Venezuela attractive...it lies a short steam/hop across a U.S. lake, its population is largely Catholic, and they speak Spanish.

Supply chains are short (easy to defend, and don't require nearly as much transport energy), and we share much more in common than between us and the ME peoples...making partnership, or occupation and rebuilding if it comes to that, easier. Theoretically a good 'catch'.

Islamic fundamentalism is the common enemy (to the House of Saud and the GCC, and to the consuming cartel).

Such is a threat to monied interests:

Those who charge usury are in the same position as those controlled by the devil's influence. This is because they claim that usury is the same as commerce. However, God permits commerce, and prohibits usury. Thus, whoever heeds this commandment from his Lord, and refrains from usury, he may keep his past earnings, and his judgment rests with God. As for those who persist in usury, they incur Hell, wherein they abide forever (Al-Baqarah 2:275)

God condemns usury, and blesses charities.God dislikes every disbeliever, guilty. Lo! those who believe and do good works and establish worship and pay the poor-due, their reward is with their Lord and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. O you who believe, you shall observe God and refrain from all kinds of usury, if you are believers. If you do not, then expect a war from God and His messenger. But if you repent, you may keep your capitals, without inflicting injustice, or incurring injustice. If the debtor is unable to pay, wait for a better time. If you give up the loan as a charity, it would be better for you, if you only knew. (Al-Baqarah 2:276-280)

O you who believe, you shall not take usury, compounded over and over. Observe God, that you may succeed. (Al-'Imran 3:130)

And for practicing usury, which was forbidden, and for consuming the people's money illicitly. We have prepared for the disbelievers among them painful retribution. (Al-Nisa 4:161)

The usury that is practiced to increase some people's wealth, does not gain anything at God. But if people give to charity, seeking God's pleasure, these are the ones who receive their reward many fold. (Ar-Rum 30:39)

And when North Ghawar waters out ? Will KSA be the "crown jewel" then, with perhaps 4 million b/day in exports and falling ?


Note that I am not speaking from a personal advocacy position here...just relating the thinking that I perceive permeates and underlies the U.S. strategy wrt ME oil.

I do not agree with it, I report the situation as I think I know it based on my years of being immersed in it.

To answer your question: When they become no longer worth our trouble, we will drop KSA like a dirty shirt.

If only we had committed the vast sums we spent on the military instead on technologies and policies which would have greatly cut our oil consumption...we could still change course, but the people need to break out of the Matrix.

Sounds like the US plan then is to "support" KSA while they still have oil, and have them buy lots of US made arms to defend themselves. Then, when they run out of oil, and money to buy more planes, drop them like said shirt.
Get their oil, and a good portion of the money back - seems like a good plan.

As for Venezuela, seems like the US government is certainly casting an eye in that direction;


That would require a recognization of "Limits To Growth" and altruism - a quality seriously lacking in most of what passes for "Homo Sapiens".

Agree 100% I will be so happy the day KSA runs out of oil (or produces less than 0.5 million barrels per day). Let us see they treat their citizens like slaves, they treat women like slaves. I darn well hope when they have no use they will be dropped asap

I realize that for you, this is likely just a snarky gotcha question which you think proves your point that the US led coalition did not go to war in Iraq over oil. However, it does no such thing. But understanding why it doesn't prove that demonstrates some things about Pax America and the American Hegemony that bears voicing.

I invite you to take a moment to study Barnett's map of the integrated world economic, political, and legal order. It shows who is "in" the hegemony and who is "out". Note that hegemony includes nations that are traditional enemies and nations that are of different political systems. No problem. A hegemony doesn't require the strict adherence to a single political/military authority that would be required in an empire - it merely requires a sufficient degree of cooperation and obeisance to the leading powers of the hegemon that allow for mutual benefit. This is the new world order, post-Soviet collapse.

America's overseas military presence, designed to contain the Soviet Union, is now engaged in protecting the "free world" from threats originating from the "non-integrated" and in assuring that resources critical to the functioning of the "free world" continue to flow uninterrupted.

Saddam was a danger to the flow. He invaded Kuwait. He had the military strength to sweep down through all the Arabian/Persian Gulf states excepting Iran. If successful, he would have a chokehold on the "integrated world." Whatever the status of such programs and cooperation in 2003, he had pursued WMD technology and participated in some degree of cooperation with terrorists. His desire for power and disregard for the "world order" was obvious.

Subsequent to Gulf War I, we stationed troops in the "Holy Kingdom" and imposed embargoes on Iraq, resulting in the death and suffering of thousands. These two actions become casus belli for a non-state actor who declared jihad on the US in 1996. Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, it became clear that our policy of containment re Saddam was having collateral damage in the Gulf, contributing to the radicalization of Muslims and the destabilization of Gulf states including Saudi Arabia.

What to do? Leaving troops there or moving to a neighboring country while continuing the embargo was problematic. Removing them and lifting the embargo would give Saddam the "win." We chose an alternate option and removed Saddam from power (while also moving troops to a lower profile nation).

Saddam was perceived as threat to the free-flow of oil from the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Even if you believe that threat was greatly diminished in 2003 (as I do), withdrawing troops and lifting the embargo would send a message that a nation could successfully rebuff the American-led hegemony, the international order, the free world, the integrated core, however you care to name it. We chose an option that secured the flow of oil through the Gulf, will allow Iraqi oil to flow into global economy once more, and taught despots outside 'the wire' that they rule at our convenience.


If you believe, as I do, that there is a Pax America and an American-led hegemony, the question naturally arises as to how the international order will change as our leadership diminishes. Note that as of today, both China and Russia participate within the international order as defined by American and Western European dominated institutions such as the UN Security Council, IMF, World Bank, the G20 etc ... while avoiding direct military confrontation with the US.

I have read Barnett's books...and I understand that current dynamic.

IMO, we would have been much better off spending all or most of of our ME Military protection/enforcement racket money on technologies and polices that would have greatly reduced our U.S. oil consumption.

I have read Barnett's books...and I understand that current dynamic.

I prefer Warren Zevon, "Lawyers, guns and money." Hegemony summed up in four words.

I read Barnett more for description than prescription, but I do believe that diminishing US influence will probably be accompanied by an increase in regional conflict. Part of the "Seneca cliff" of post-peak global economies. As to what we could have done or should have done ... water under the bridge.

I agree about the description vs. prescription part...

I will look at the info at your link.

Water under the bridge...no doubt...but envisioning alternative present realities stemming from different theoretical past choices can lead to better insights about how to change our future path to something better than otherwise from 'staying the course'...unless one thinks that it is too late to make any meaningful positive difference...in that case, one can 'Party like its 1999' I suppose.

Considering the billion dollars we in the US spend each day to import oil and the near-billion dollars we spend each day to "protect our oil interests" in the ME, it makes no sense to be nickle and dime-ing technologies which can cut our oil use to a manageable level.

We should be pouring money into public transportation that people enjoy using. We should be building electrified high speed rail to replace moderate-length air travel and long haul trucks. We should be subsidizing electric vehicles to a greater extent in order to spur innovation and large enough manufacturing to bring down costs.

Walk-able neighborhoods connected by convenient public transportation and cities connected by high speed rail would mean that most of us could do our 'private driving' in short range EVs.

The people who truly need large vehicles capable of traveling hundreds of miles per day is probably no more than ten percent. We could keep pumping some oil for them.

Everyone reading this blog understands that oil is going to be nothing but harder to extract and, thus, more expensive. Everyone knows that demand is increasing around the globe.

We've got a choice, keep fighting for a share of a diminishing supply or seek alternatives.

(All you oil guys, no need to worry. It would take a few decades to get off oil were we to get serious today. You'll pull your paychecks until it's time for retirement.)

Bob, would you consider a run for president?

We've got a good president.

We need to give him a Congress that will work with him rather than one that works against him.

Yeah right. What we have is an empty suit, a tool for the bankers and the warriors, a man who has never had any productive job or creative thought in his life.

And what we'll end up with, because of it, is another conservative governor from Texas.

The truth hurts.

We have one of our most intelligent presidents of all times. We have a deep and careful thinker who plays the long game. He is a "tool for the bankers and the warriors" because one has to keep systems running as they are transformed. If you don't think things are changing then you aren't following the news.

Let me give you a hint or two. There are no more "too large to fail" institutions. The federal government now has a legal process to take over a large failing financial firm just like they routinely take over failing banks.

Our military is now getting ready to do as much or more with less. Our military is switching to renewable energy faster than any other portion of our society. And that "Don't ask, don't tell" thing? It's past history.

Does a "productive" job mean that one has to milk a cow to be genuine? Seems to me that working to make a community better is pretty danged productive.

We'll end up with a governor from Texas if we allow it. Presidents do not elect themselves.

The truth bites....

Based on historical patterns, i.e., elections with a sitting president, with unemployment rates over 7.2%, it seems quite likely that the GOP nominee will win in 2012, followed I suspect by a Democrat winning in 2016, and so on.

There a significant chance that President Obama will loose next year. But don't sell the man short, he plays to win....

Bob, I really hate to nitpick but some people keep using the word "loose" which means "not tight" when they really mean "lose" which means "not to win".

Ron P.

Thanks Ron! As a non-native english speaker the number of os in lose have been a source of confusion to me. Now that issue is settled.

My bad.

I'm a terrible speller and a horrible proofreader....

I predict the banks will win in 2012.

Up to us.

There was a time when I believed that.

Who is this "us" that it's up to? You can't mean me. I can vote for banker backed candidate number one or banker backed candidate number two. Either way, the banks have 'their man' in office. I'm sure there is a not-banker-backed candidate out there, but I'll never hear about them. Even if I did, they wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell. The demo-publicans have captured the electorate with their political theater. One of their candidates will win, and they certainly wont be representing me.

You seem to be operating under the delusion that the United States is a democracy. It is not. It's a Representative Republic. And we have the best representatives money can buy.

FWIW I always throw my vote away on the Green Party.

Yes we can elect Ron Paul.

Ron Paul has taken off the gloves. A new ad says, Rick Perry was Al Gore's "cheerleader"

Presidents do not elect themselves.

They are put in by a small cabal of people. The electrical college.

How many times has the electoral college installed a president against the wishes of the people?

I suspect less often than has the Supreme Court.

Let me give you a hint or two. There are no more "too large to fail" institutions.

Really? Seems our favorite financial behemoths are not only still there, they have consolidated and grown. One might reasonably conclude they now represent an even greater systemic risk than before, whatever toothless "reform" laws have been enacted.

When Obama came to office there was no law which allowed the Administration to take over the big failing institutions. The Administration could take over a very, very large failing bank but they couldn't legally take over a large non-bank financial corporation.

Now there is one. It's passed. It's signed. It's law.

If one or more go sour in the future the feds can step in, keep the good parts going and kill the bad parts. Prior to this law the only choices were to bail 'em out or let 'em fail. We let some fail but we couldn't afford to let them all fail.

Now we've got an option.

It's the Dodd-Frank "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" H.R. 4173

The bill passed and signed in 2009 (when we had a Democratic controlled Congress) includes:

"tools for financial crises, including a "resolution regime" complementing the existing Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) authority to allow for orderly winding down of bankrupt firms"

If/when a Goldman-Sachs goes sour in the future the FDIC can seize the firm and cut off the diseased Sachs part, saving the rest. Remember, these firms were, in general, taken down by only a small part of their operations. Lots of their business components were working fine.

The good parts could have been saved and sold off. Stockholders would have been hurt some but not wiped out. Thousands would have not lost their jobs.

For your further enjoyment...


"our favorite financial behemoths are not only still there, they have consolidated and grown"...

not so, If you take a look at the market capitalization of the surviving banking sector, its a shadow of what it was in 2008. Many parts of the economy have recovered well enough, but the financial institutions have been in a steady decline - though you'd never know it if you only listen to the media...

Bank of America recently "bailed out" by Warren Buffet?

as an example - BofA market cap March 2007 was $225 billion. BofA market cap February 2009 was $25 billion.

They are one of the hard-luck stories though - average decline is about 50% or so, I think.

"We should be pouring money into public transportation that people enjoy using. We should be building electrified high speed rail to replace moderate-length air travel and long haul trucks."

"Who wants to win the future by investing in harebrained ideas [like] solar panels and really fast trains?" The ideas were "nonstarters", she said. "All aboard Obama's bullet train to bankruptcy," she added.

...and the water just keeps pouring over the dam, the dikes leaking, and I'm keeping my hopes local. Don't know what else to do..

Work locally to increase renewable energy. That would help.

Vote for, even work for, people who will get into office and make a difference. If you look back at President Obama's first two years when he had a Congress who worked with him we saw tremendous gains in renewable energy and non-fossil fuel transportation. Then the "drive 'er in the ditch" folks got control of the House and progress stopped.

On a local level, we could turn that around.

Had younger voters shown up at the polls in 2010 we would likely be well recovered from the recession, seeing high speed rail being built, our infrastructure improving, and tax dollars pouring back into our coffers to pay off the national debt which we've been told to fear.

"Vote for, even work for, people who will get into office and make a difference."

It's hard to know who that is these days, Bob. I supported and voted for a lone democrat for our county commission. He said he would work for renewables, green initiatives, etc. Now in office, after a local group built a small (2 acre) PV farm across the road from his place, he's leading an initiative to halt further PV development in the county and implement strict zoning applying only to solar, including residential. Turns out he's just another NIMBY.

Talking and doing are far, far apart these days, especially when solutions involve politics. Obama has certainly "compromised" his credibility on most issues I consider critical. I remain an anti-neocon independent with little faith in either party. Those who are actually offering real solutions (or even indicate that they know what the real problems are) are marginalized and garner minimal support or consent.

It's popular to say that Washington is corrupt, or that "the system is broken", yet I would submit that it is "we the people" , the cultural collective, that is disfunctional. A critical mass of the electorate is comfortably numb in their distractions, delusions, their denials, unwilling or unable to perform the hard work required for functional self-governance. IMO, as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, a protracted period of pain and decomplexification is the only way through. Humanity is on autopilot.

Some mention today of Greer, catabolic collapse, etc. Greer also seems convinced that we face a "dark age" of perhaps centuries as the industrial age .... winds down is too gentle a term, IMO. As oil, the great enabler, peaks and declines, along with a long list of limited/finite resources, population will decline dramatically to pre-industrial levels. I agree with Ron on this one. It may seem gradual to folks who are managing to cope, day to day, yet from an historical perspective, the intitial onset will be swift; a couple of generations at best.

I have little hope that humanity will be able to mitigate the extreme level of overshoot that we find ourselves in, in any managed contraction. It simply isn't in our makeup. Folks will fight (literally) to hold fast to all of the wrong things. We are witnessing this even as I type.

/doomer porn ... sorry :-0

If we insist that any of our elected official are perfect we doom ourselves to failure.

IMO, we have to vote for the best of the people who are capable of being elected. People on either extreme of an issue are generally not electable. There could easily have been a much greener candidate than Obama, but that person would likely have been too far from the center to gain office.

Your local guy, not perfect, could still be better than the other choices. The best choice you might have is to get him in office again and help him grow. By now he might have gotten used to seeing panels across from his house and might be willing to listen to a different solution. What if a new ordinance called for an attractive fence with attractive landscaping in front of it? Perhaps no installations where neighbors had to look down at the array?

It's sad to say, but we're all NIMBYs. We might not find solar arrays undesirable, but how about a fast food joint? A body shop? With a bit of effort we can find our personal 'Don't push that button' issues.

I hate the compromising that President Obama has done, but I think I understand the need to make those compromises. Were he to take a 100% green hard line position I don't think he'd get a second term and we'd be looking at another jerk from Texas in the White House. I think PBO is fighting the long war and that means not wasting troops wining every battle. If we can get Democrats back in control of Congress then I think we'll see great leaps forward for green energy.

It's not that the system is broken. It's that we are a divided people. We've got a significant number of people who aren't convinced that we need to get off of fossil fuel. And we've got a lot of people who put personal greed above the greater good.

I think we're a couple of years away from the general public making a major shift in attitude. Already the actual climate change deniers are a very small percentage of voters, likely less than 10%. A majority of voters want something done about climate change and are willing to see some money spent on the solutions. But those feelings are a bit weak.

Give us another year or two of extreme weather, a bit more recovery from the recession, and I expect climate change will become a major issue for Americans.

When people become aware that the new climate is kicking their butts and that if we don't do something then things will get even worse they are going to be asking for fixes. And we have workable, affordable technology to deal with the problems.

I put the probability of a general, large scale collapse very low. Not impossible, but quite unlikely. I expect a lot of people to suffer and many to die, but nothing like the massive die-off and return to living in caves that a few envision.

We've got a lot of elasticity in our systems. We could cut our petroleum usage by 25% to 50% 'over night'. Just go stand by the roads leading into towns and count the number of single occupant cars. Collapse that down to four per car. Takes only a year or so to add more buses to city streets and cars to passenger trains.

I see essentially nothing that we now do that we couldn't do on a sustainable level. We can make plastic out of plant material, heat with geothermal/solar, power cars with electricity, harvest electricity from wind/solar/geothermal/etc.

If we look at previous transitions we moved from horses to cars in less than two decades. Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908 and if you look at city street photographs from the 1930s the only horses you will see are in parades. And that was back before the information age when it took a lot of manual labor to build a new tool, design a new plant.

We've already started the transition. We're not going to 'run out of oil', it's just that oil will continue to rise in price. As the price of oil (and coal) increase we'll install renewables faster and buy more EVs/PHEVs. It's hard to see some cliff which we might fall over by not transitioning fast enough. One can't read in any area - transportation, farming, manufacturing, construction, etc. - and not see people talking about how to phase out oil. Or at least get oil use down to a minimum.

Gee, Bob, I admire your optimism, and I'm a solutions oriented realist, so here goes:

"People on either extreme of an issue are generally not electable."

Yet you've outlined some quite extreme changes, ones that need to occur very short term. How to implement these major shifts without some extreme leadership is beyond me. Considering the growing obstructionist political atmosphere in the US, I don't see any consensus developing as how to proceed.

"...we've got a lot of people who put personal greed above the greater good."

Yeah, these are the folks who've gained control of most of the wealth, control of the political process, control of mainsteam "debate", and are bent on preserving the status quo. Perhaps you need to explain your plan to the Koch Brothers and the chairmen of the megabanks. It now takes ~ $1 billion to run a presidential campaign. Try raising that amount without making some sort of Faustian bargain with some very powerful folks, folks bent on remaining powerful. Try getting your message of change out to the masses now that corporations are "people", free to spend massive amounts to counter your message.

"A majority of voters want something done about climate change and are willing to see some money spent on the solutions."

Who's money? Most folks struggle to replace their lightbulbs, and with $14 trillion+ (and counting) in federal debt, your govt. isn't in a position to do more. States are cutting budgets, as are locals. It seems to me we've run out of options that don't involve tax increases and adding to the rolls of the unemployed. Sure, folks want something done, but not if it means their entitlements get cut, you know, the ones workers have been paying into their entire working lives...

The banks? Citi alone has a CDS and derivatives exposure of over sixty trillion dollars....The scale of the global financial situation is truely stagering, especially in the west. All of these unfundable liabilities are, and will continue to be, socialized. That's you and me...

"We've got a lot of elasticity in our systems. We could cut our petroleum usage by 25% to 50% 'over night'."

I see our systems as being quite brittle considering the scale of things. Cutting petroleum usage overnight means cutting more jobs, something folks won't take lying down for long. Cutting military budgets: same result. Increasing taxes on fuel to reduce consumption also reduces employment. Conundrum (A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma).....

"I see essentially nothing that we now do that we couldn't do on a sustainable level."

There is no "we", Bob... not really.

Let me open with 'there certainly is a we'. As long as we have the power of the vote whatever government we end up with is our choice.

If we let ourselves be mislead by big money interests. distracted by bright, shiny objects, or don't bother to vote we are the ones to blame. We will live with the consequences of our behavior.

Now to the other issues....

We would be very much ahead, IMHO, were we to quickly start building high speed rail and accelerating our wind and solar installations. I expect that we'll be late to the dance. I think we'll get there before the band packs up but we'll miss out on a lot.

Look at wind farms. They are now producing about 3% of our total electricity supply and attempts to "outlaw" them in conservative states have been turned back by conservative state governments. Solar, HSR and other new technology will get there. Solar is getting there now.

Perhaps when the climate truly scares enough of us we'll put pedal to the metal.

I don't think anyone would say that Barrack Obama is an environmental extremist. But look at what he did when he had a cooperative Congress.

He pumped money into electric vehicles. He got several EV battery companies funded. He provided money for wind and solar advancements and installations. He made funds available for making houses more energy efficient. He required the military to work on energy efficiency and renewable energy. He put money into high speed rail. He took money to be used to help car companies survive and turned it into a way to get some of the lowest MPG vehicles off our streets.

PBO did something very telling. He took generic "stimulus" money and turned it into a great big green energy resource.

I really think that people are either unaware or have forgotten what PBO accomplished in his first two years. I think some people just don't understand that we have a government in which the president cannot issue laws and when we let fossil fuel interests block progress we get no progress.


The federal debt issue is BS. Just letting the Bush tax cuts expire would get our debt issues under control. What we need is to increase our debt right now and get America back to work. Taxes pay debts, and working people generate taxes.

Republicans created our financial problems. When Clinton left office our economy was in good shape. Bush cut taxes and started two wars which he did not fund. I totally believe that putting the economy in bad shape was a long term strategy for killing social programs, which has been a plainly stated Republican goal ever since FDR created them. Just look at how the governor of Wisconsin gave the rich a big tax cut, wrecked the state budget, and then went after state employees pay and social programs.

This is a friggin' class war we're fighting. And Ronald Reagan started it.


No, we could cut our petroleum use by a significant percentage and the only people who would be harmed would be a few people who sit in gas station booths and people who drive oil tankers.

If we cut our petroleum usage by pushing people into car pools, for example, we'd free up hundreds of millions of dollars per day that we now bundle off to foreign countries and we'd spend that money locally in restaurants, movie theaters, clothes shops, ....

Now, I'm not saying that we should start gas rationing. I'm just saying that if oil supply suddenly got tight we could ration and, at most, it would inconvenience some of us, but make life better for others.

There are multiple ways to quickly adapt to a change in oil supply. Returning to caves is only one on the list. We don't need to choose that option....

As for rationing, the GAO wondered 30 years ago if there was a government agency in the USA that could effectively manage such a task. Think determination of individual need, issuing of ration certificates, verification of same, appeals from those who feel that they did receive a fair allocation, the emergence of fake certificates & fraud, the incentives for a black market, the pressure for price controls, etc.

The literature indicates that rationing is much easier said than done.

"There are multiple ways to quickly adapt to a change in oil supply. Returning to caves is only one on the list. We don't need to choose that option...."

While I've never forwarded the idea of "returning to caves", it seems that many folks are already there:

Homeless driven from LA freeway cave

LOS ANGELES, May 28 (UPI) -- Authorities in Los Angeles have begun to force homeless people out from a vast area under the 10 Freeway near the San Gabriel River, officials said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that a small community has been living in the area for many years.

Officials say the area is not only a squatter's camp but also a hideaway for heroin addicts.

The Cave, as it's known, is accessible only by a narrow opening high in an outside wall of the structure, which is part of the support system for the freway.

I don't think these folks share your concept of "we". More like "us and them".

While I expect more folks will be forced to seek shelter, community, and perhaps some security wherever they can, I expect there will be periods of equilibrium, depending on location, perhaps stablizing at something akin to Greer's Star's Reach. The resource base that has given many human civilizations a boost up has been depleted, especially of the most valuable and easy to obtain stuff. To expect a massive civilization to continue without equally massive resource inputs is naive, IMO. Plenty of historical precedence. The difference this time is that the resource endgame is underway. The planet is being scoured and degraded of most everything required to support a population of 7+ billion humans.

It is the choice of the money that controls the TV, radio, newspapers. Yes if the people started to talk to each other and form their ideas outside of what the media tells them they could elect who they want but that is not the case today. The first time a populist was ahead in the polls 1896 money bought media until the populist was behind and it has been that way every since. Ron Paul has no chance because the banks love Obama for the 20 trillion in transaction guarantees (that Stiglitz says we will be lucky to get 4 trillion back). 16 trillion buys a lot of banker love.

Before you can vote, don't you have to have someone you actually want to vote for?

"One can't read in any area - transportation, farming, manufacturing, construction, etc. - and not see people talking about how to phase out oil. Or at least get oil use down to a minimum."

Regarding progressive "off-oil" work in our agri-food sector, I disagree.
I have repeatedly asked USDA and AgCanada about any research that they may have undertaken with respect to peak oil (or the more general issue of "the end of cheap fossil fuel").
Both agencies continue to report no such research, nor is there any hint from them of any pressing concern over future oil supply.

There is some progressive work within the non-government Ag sector on this issue: the UK Soil Association, Wes Jackson's Land Institute in USA, the Ecological Farmers of Ontario in Canada, etc.
But let's face it, when it comes to ag policy & overall direction both USDA and AgCanada set the tone, and neither has done any proactive work about the peaking of global oil production, nor how this event may affect farmers and our global food supply chain.

Meanwhile, farmers are fairly unique in that we have a visible record of the work which diesel fuel does for us each day: we see the acres plowed, fields cut, hundreds of round bales lined up. We cannot imagine the human effort which it would take to achieve what one farmer and $40 of diesel fuel can do in a day.
Unfortunately, we still have no energy source which packs the punch of diesel fuel, yet you make the transition seem like a seamless, painless certainty.
I do not share your optimism, especially given the ongoing inaction at our lead Ag agencies.

I did not say that every person, every agency was taking the problems seriously.

Leadership does not always come from the dominate institutions, they tend to get underway and hard to turn like an aircraft carrier.

In no way am I saying the transition will be seamless, painless. I suspect the transition will be rough and painful for many. But I think we have the ability to work our way through this problem.

As for farming, there are some places where we will probably want to concentrate our oil, no that's not right. There are some places where it will make sense to use expensive petroleum, at least in the early part of the transition. Our food prices might have to rise to cover $80 or $120 of fuel when $40 used to do the job.

It won't be the lead Ag agencies that make that decision. Farmers will raise their prices and the market will adjust.

Some of the adjustment will be that people will probably eat less meat and there will be more small 'market' farms which can use electric tractors to work an acre a day. (As is now happening around here.)

Later the adjustment might include swappable battery packs that let a good-sized tractor work all day long. Renting a bunch of batteries might be a fill-in for some expensive fuel jobs. We do that now in mines.

Bob, while you are another optimist, I wonder where you get your thoughts on a nice slow orderly transition from?

"There are some places where it will make sense to use expensive petroleum, at least in the early part of the transition."

In my country, Australia, a large exporter of grain to the world, when oil gets tight it will be diesel as the problem here. To prioritize farming over heavy transport or mining will be 'interesting'.

"Our food prices might have to rise to cover $80 or $120 of fuel when $40 used to do the job."

I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that when Westexas's 'Available net exports' really starts to crunch, then price will become less relevant. It is probably a false assumption that more money will get you fuel.

"Farmers will raise their prices and the market will adjust"

This is a lack of understanding about farming. The market raises and lowers prices based on supply and demand. The farmers end up being price takers. I know because I am one.

"there will be more small 'market' farms which can use electric tractors to work an acre a day"

Again a lack of understanding about some farming. In cropping areas there is often a limited window for planting and harvesting, same for fodder. The whole district is doing it at the same time often working 18-20 hour days. The electricity supply to these areas has no hope of coping with the size and number of tractors needed. Again if there is a nice slow BAU transition over a couple of decades we might be able to do it. ANE clearly shows that we have a few years at best, and currently there is not even any planning of the infrastructure needed.

Your optimism is nice, but unfounded on any reality.

I agree with HideAway, especially re. farm income.
Farmers are indeed price takers for several reasons, not the least of which is the perishability of our products and the impracticality/impossibility of storing our product while awaiting better prices. Milk and tender fruits are probably the best example, but even livestock have an ideal slaughter weight and ongoing feed costs, so a farmer can only delay so long.
Commercial buyers know this and have much more power over prices than farmers do.

Here in Canada, a few sectors developed marketing boards to facilitate collective selling and stabilize prices. But these systems are under constant attack: western farmers may lose the Wheat Board and our supply management systems are continually raised at GATT, NAFTA negotiations, etc.

Losing the wheat board monopoly would be one of the best things that could happen to western Canadian farmers.

If you produce almost anything else, from beef to oil to furniture, you can negotiate an export contact with whoever you want, at whatever price you want, and deliver/sell how you want.

But with the "Canadian" Wheat Board, farmers in western Canada do not have that option, they can ONLY export through this monopoly. This restrictive rule does not apply, of course, to eastern Canada - how can you have a "national" body that only applies to parts of the nation. Either extend the mandate cross all of Canada, or, better yet, get rid of it.

Some reform on all the silly rules, price controls, import quotas etc for the dairy industry wouldn't hurt either - we are all paying a lot for our milk and cheese to prop up Quebec dairy companies.

New Zealand got rid of all their agricultural subsidies, tariffs etc decades ago and that ended the support of unproductive industries and created a world leading agricultural export industry. Canada needs to pull its head out of the sand on agriculture.

A lot of western Canadian farmers would dearly love to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board because it is preventing them from selling their crops on the international market at the best possible price. They are prepared to live with a bit of market uncertainty in return for an opportunity to maximize their returns. Not a few of them are my relatives.

"If you produce almost anything else, from beef to oil to furniture, you can negotiate an export contact with whoever you want, at whatever price you want, and deliver/sell how you want."

That sounds like a farmer's paradise, Paul.
The old-timers fought long & hard to establish a Wheat Board because they saw a need for one. Generations later, we have plenty of farmers who never experienced what the old-timers experienced, and who believe that they can do just fine without single-desk selling.
In this day of the internet, they may be right.
On the other hand, if a farmer thinks that he has more individual influence in the marketplace than Cargill and ADM, then I think he may be sorely disappointed. They can out-wait any farmer who lacks adequate storage or has an urgent need for cash, especially now that so many elevators and branch rail lines have closed.

As for our dairy industry, consumers pay between $5 & $6 for 4-litre bags of milk here in eastern Ontario. Given its nutritional content and its impeccable safety record, I do not regard this as paying too much (water & pop are usually at least a buck a litre). Dairy producers in upstate New York (and elsewhere in USA) have been going broke for many years, but I did not see super-cheap milk in NY stores (nor in DC at last year's ASPO). My brother-in-law is a dairy producer (just down the road) and is thankfully able to count on a stable income, but I can't imagine anyone regarding him as rich, profiting at the public's expense, or not working hard enough for his money.
Our supply management system allows those sectors to operate in a stable price regime, while beef & hog producers are enduring Depression-level net incomes. (The majority of the household income on most Canadian family farms comes from off-farm employment.)

I would be wary of throwing the baby out with the bath-water: the Wheat Board and the Milk Board are not perfect, but they have brought benefits which were not seen under the previous 'every-farmer-for himself' model, and which are not seen in many of the other ag sectors.

In cropping areas there is often a limited window for planting and harvesting, same for fodder. The whole district is doing it at the same time often working 18-20 hour days. The electricity supply to these areas has no hope of coping with the size and number of tractors needed.

To be fair, he's pitching "an acre a day". Limit it to small machines and you are only talking 15-30 amps at 110/220 AC. Then your limits become the costs of the many tractors/intelligence to run 'em for the few week window of planting.

You should have been posting when the "save the oil for ag" post was active - because the argument was made by someone that you could electrify big Ag.

I'm suggesting that increasing fuel prices will push up the cost of grain.

When grain gets more expensive people are going to look for grain/meat alternatives for their table.

Small farmers working 'an acre a day' will now be back in the game on a larger scale. More vegies on the table and fewer bagels. These folks can charge their batteries from the grid without a problem, they're doing it now.

Fuel price increases will hurt grain/meat production and cause food prices to rise, but those higher prices will make the small 'close to market' farm more profitable. We'll use more electricity and labor in place of expensive petroleum.

We clearly could electrify large scale ag, but perhaps not an acceptable price. We now run very large mining equipment with swappable battery packs. We could pre-charge large numbers of batteries off a small wire, bring in larger wires, or pre-charge batteries at a central outlet and truck them to the field.

If EVs make batteries higher capacity and cheaper then battery powered tractors could be our future. Hard to guess that one out....

Except grains (seeds) are a high energy density VS veggies.

How hard is it to eat 2000 calories of grain?

2000 calories of carrots? Green Peppers? Tomatoes?

(80 calories in 1 lb of Tomatoes 1000 cals in 1 lbs of rice as an example)

Farmers might be price takers, but if fuel prices rise higher than prices offered then farmers won't raise the crops.

Now, I've never said that the transition would be smooth and painless, I've said exactly the opposite. What I've said it that the transition is possible. And, IMO, likely.

Fuel prices go up, wholesale grain prices don't, some farmers quit farming, supplies shrink, wholesale prices go up in order to capture what supply there is, existing farmers expand production or others come back to farming, supplies increase but command a higher price.

That is the story of farming. I grew up on a farm.

What percentage of your selling price of a bushel of wheat is eaten up by fuel costs? If fuel doubles, how much more do you need per bushel to maintain your profit level?

That wheat, it's about 12% of the price of a loaf of bread. Up your cost of fuel by 2x and there's no economic reason for bread to rise more than your fuel cost percentage multiplied by 0.12.


Electricity for farming. Please note that I did not say that we could switch to battery powered tractors overnight.

With time infrastructure can be installed. Batteries can be charged weeks/months in advance and held with a trickle charge. Charged batteries can be trucked from area to area as the harvest season moves with the season.

It doesn't take decades to make major infrastructure changes. Look how fast we build shopping centers and subdivisions.

Try looking for solutions rather than just looking for problems yet unsolved. We don't get anywhere by throwing up our hands in defeat with each new problem.

We've got a big job ahead of us, that's for sure. We've got to transition off of fossil fuels for two major reasons - burning them is killing the planet and we're running out of cheap supplies. But ever think about how long it took to move from horses to cars? Most of the switch happened in not much more than a decade.


"Try looking for solutions rather than just looking for problems yet unsolved"

I am one of those who did think of solutions in the past. It was only when I started to follow feedback loops that I started to really see the problems.

What you say about farmers reducing production and supply dropping is true. The consequences of suddenly reduced supply of grain will be immense on importing countries, like many in OPEC. It is probably enough to destabalise those still stable OPEC producers. The effect of this is a likely greater reduction in ANE, a sudden unavailability of fuel for oil importers.

Horses to cars taking not long was a given. Cars were an improvement in terms of effeciency. going from fuel cars to electric is a step down in efficiency (time).

Your nice clean drawn out change from oil to electricity dependancy is not likely to have the opportunity to happen. Right now the price of producing both solar and wind is subsidised by cheap Fossil Fuels. The large solar farm being set up in Moree NSW is relying on all the equipment being trucked up in B-Doubles, large trucks that use ~1.6 litres to the km. There is something like 7200 trips of ~1000 km (return). The components were all made using FF. As the price of FF goes up so will the installation costs of both wind and solar, plus they will have to fight for the resources with food production and probably the military.



The world would need to build over 8000 of these every year for 40 years to equal current total energy use. We do not have the resources to do it. It is currently a huge effort to build a handful around the world, and these take years to bring online. With wind a similar situation. We would have to build over 500,000 3 MW turbines every year for 40 years. Currently we put up the equivalent of ~13,000 a year and of course it is by using a lot of FF.

I cannot see how we wont go back to the stoneage. Given globalization, plus just in time production, with components for anything coming from all over the place, when we go down as a collapsing civilization, due to restricted crude supply we will be totally unprepared.

Horses to cars taking not long was a given. Cars were an improvement in terms of effeciency. going from fuel cars to electric is a step down in efficiency (time).

I don't think so. It takes only a minute to plug an EV in when one parks. Lots of people won't even need to plug in every day. Net time can't be more than going to a gas station, waiting in line, getting out to pump, ....


We have enough wind and solar on line to produce the energy required to build our year's worth of new wind and solar. Wind is one of our cheapest sources of power. We're not building on cheap fossil fuel, we're replacing it.

I don't really know what a B-Double is and since you're talking in liters I'm guess you don't live here. ;o)

In the US we could move a large amount of our freight to rail. That would be a good way to save a lot of fuel. We are already starting to experiment with EV and hybrid large trucks. Some of our large corporations like UPS and Pepsi have them in their fleets. We're using battery powered "tractors" in our shipping yards to haul the trailers around.

Rather than spend time on what we could/could not build and whether we have the resources let me steer you to a really good Scientific American article which can give you the numbers with some detail...


We're not going to run out of oil this decade or during the next decade. We can make oil from some nasty inputs. The cost of doing so will 'encourage' us to make the transition off of fossil fuels faster.

Cost of shipping will change some of our manufacturing practices, but not overnight. Some company will decide that it's cheaper to make some of their parts closer to markets and they will decentralize their operation over a few years. Other companies will realize that the first company now has a price advantage and follow suit. Information technology will let us decentralize efficiently.

Japanese and European car companies already manufacture in the US because they can avoid shipping costs. Ford and GM manufacture overseas for overseas markets.

Money makes stuff happen faster than one might suspect. Macy's (one of our largest retailers, but far from the largest) just announced that they will switch out 1 million halogen light bulbs in their stores with LEDs. Over ten years they will save $1 billion dollars. Yes, billion.

That information will be spread totally across retail operations by the end of this week, at least the end of this month. Other stores and industrial buildings will switch as soon as they can get a supply of LEDs. If someone can make LEDs fast enough there will be no essentially no commercial halogens in two years. (The things burn out in a year or so. Might as well replace them with something that will last 7+ years and use 75% less power.)

This is how the transformation will happen. Bits and pieces will suddenly work and money will make it so.

What is the cost of energy for an electric tractor versus the cost of energy for a diesel tractor? How many dollars each way? How much CO2 each way I would guess the coal burning makes more CO2 than the diesel.

Let's skip the coal part because I'm sure you know we don't need to keep burning coal to get electricity. We're talking about solutions, not about the old way of doing things.

A car.

The Prius gets 50MPG, with $4/gallon gas that's $0.08 per mile.

The Nissan Leaf uses 0.35 kWh/mile. At $0.125/kWh that's $0.04 per mile.

You can scale that up and assume that it would cost about half to power the tractor with electricity than with diesel.

You might find that it would be even cheaper as EVs get better mileage when going slow (aerodynamics) and tractors always go slow.

Plus electric motors have tremendous torque which probably means more efficient use of energy with a tractor.

Yes as soon as we build the nuclear reactor we can shutdown the coal plants.

What you say about tractors might be true driving from the shop to the field but once a tractor starts working its load factor is usually between 75% and 100% if it is doing any type of dirt work. For a medium sized tractor like I have that translates to over 100 kw/hr. A Nissan Leaf battery has enough power to run it for about 10 to 12 minutes. 10 Leaf batteries weighing over 3 TONS would get you almost 2 hours work. And large scale farm tractors use 2 to 3 times that much power.

The idea of electrifying large scale farm equipment is great, but the technology to do that using battery power is just not in existence yet. And dragging around a 1/2 mile long, 3 phase, 440v, 500 amp, umbilical is just not practical, not to mention dangerous.

Using electric for small scale, organic truck garden type operations, is a different story.

The price difference would be less as much as slow RPM, high torque, diesel engines are usually more efficient, a gallon of diesel has 120% of the BTUs a gallon of gasoline has and tractors don't pay highway tax so their $3/gal diesel produces 20% more power than the Prius' $4/gal gasoline. So the price savings of electricity would probably less than 20% vs the 50% savings of the Leaf over the Prius.

Edit - The same problems of size and power are why electrifying over the road trucking is not practical. OTOH natural gas could power both (Yeah T. Boone) and rail can be electrified.

We'll need to keep burning coal to have "enough" electricity for BAU lifestyles. We could probably imagine a life without it, but what would force us to make that change globally? It's pretty obvious that concerns over C02 and pollution won't. Precautionary principle has not been, and shows little chance of being, invoked.

Can't see why.

Coal, all costs in, is more expensive than solar. It's way, way more expensive than wind. It's way more expensive than wind plus pump-up hydro storage.

If we took the money we pay in taxes and extra health insurance premiums because we burn coal and spent that money on wind and solar we'd get "BAU" for less than "BAU" costs us now.

We could power ourselves many times over with either solar or wind energy. Then there's geothermal, hydro, tidal, and possibly wave.

Our lifestyles don't give a hoot as to what is on the other end of the wire coming into our house.

Bob, I enjoy your earnest perspective, and it's good to revisit assumptions built here over the past half-decade.

The trouble with coal is it's not all costs in, and it is cheap and currently available. Wind is slowly building up, but solar is way behind. It will take time just to ramp up, and there is that pesky storage issue to resolve. I have seen nothing that says that renewables will match fossil power, though they could help a lot. I have seen a lot that says it will take a LONG time to get that build-out made.

Much of this isn't a question of possible, but of the probable, and the politically viable. Our lifestyles aren't negotiable, remember? And they don't have wires in many cases.

The hidden cost of coal is pretty high. We're paying that in taxes and health insurance premiums. Fuel prices are going up and quality is decreasing. Coal ain't your daddy's coal.

Wind and solar installations are increasing at accelerating rates and their prices are falling.

Storage is nothing that we need to worry about for a long time. Existing grids could take 25% (Eastern grid) to 35% (Western and Hawaii grids) of renewables with no additional storage. Bringing EVs on line will let those numbers move up because cars sit parked 90% of the time and, plugged in, they can eat supply oversupplies allowing us to bring more renewables on line.

We could replace all the coal on line before adding any new storage (assuming some EVs).

(That said, we are building storage now to add to the 25GW we already have.)

Then, the next fossil fuel we need to knock off is natural gas, and it's dispatchable. We can add the renewables and turn off the gas. Those gas plants will have been cheap to build 'back then' and will be largely paid off. Fuel prices will almost certainly be higher. The decision to install (by then) really cheap solar and wind will be pretty much an automatic 'yes' on the part of utility companies.

Plus you need to add in a good big hunk of load shifting into the mix. Companies are already installing ice storage for AC, allowing them to use cheap off-peak power to store 'cold' to help cut energy costs when power is expensive.

The smart grid and time of use billing will move our defrost cycles and pool pumps to when power is plentiful and cheap.

Will we get 'er done in a few years? No one is suggesting that. Two decades would be very aggressive and require a WWII type effort. But I suspect that ten years from now wind will have moved from 3% of our electricity supply to over 15%. Solar is likely to add 10% or more. Installation rates will be higher the following decade.

Your analysis sweeps too many issues away with a broad hand wave. And those issues will frustrate your plans.

For example, the Eastern power grid is not the single entity you imagine. Florida is completely isolated from New Jersey for example. And wind is not viable as a major alternative in the Southeast.

And you fail to realize that your plan will significantly raise rates - and severely underestimates the power of conservation.

Negawatts are the cheapest and quickest power source - and the largest.

BTW, by overbuilding geothermal, Hawaii can get much more than 35% renewable.

As I said, I have plowed this ground before.

The best I can see is 90% non-carbon in 30 years (including many new nukes) with rates averaging twice current rates and per capita consumption half today.


Hi, Bob
I appreciate your optimism and your polite way of pressing your points.
I disagree with you, but I will try to be equally polite.

"Plus electric motors have tremendous torque..."
True, Bob, but since you grew up on a farm you will know first-hand the exceptional power that a diesel engine puts out, and how that power is transferred to both the axle(s) and to the PTO. Electric motors do have tremendous torque, agreed, but how can that torque be sustained through a long work day on the farm?
Ford New Holland has been working on a hydrogen-fueled tractor, which is commendable:

But please note the range limitations. I know that there are small electric tractors, and perhaps you have more recent and encouraging data, but I will be (pleasantly) surprised if a battery-powered tractor can ever match the torque and range of diesel.

Tell you the truth, I grew up on a farm worked with horses.

My uncles had tractors but I mostly threw hay bales onto the wagons behind them. And I rode the combine tying sacks.

They did let me drive the tractor when the manure spreader needed to be pulled on windy days.

Now torque, perhaps we should let an engineer address that. I'm basing my opinion on watching what EVs like the Tesla Roadster and White Zombie can produce and remembering how the development model Teslas pulled their transmissions apart.

Range, an alternate fuel like hydrogen or ammonia might make more sense than battery packs. Both can be produced using renewable power and both would be options for replacing diesel. There are also some synthetic liquid fuels made from CO2 being worked on which offer another possible route.

"I put the probability of a general, large scale collapse very low. Not impossible, but quite unlikely. I expect a lot of people to suffer and many to die, but nothing like the massive die-off and return to living in caves that a few envision."

Agreed. The next question is, what is this suffering going to look like? Times may change but people are people. When it comes to the human herd, I believe the best guide is to look at similar situations in other times and places.

As I look around the world and across history it becomes obvious that high walls, secure gates, and plenty of police can enforce a shocking amount of disparity. In hard times the rich have plenty of reasons to protect themselves, and plenty of thugs eager for a well paying security job. Meanwhile most people just try to get along rather than face the chaos of a revolt. As far as those truly unfortunate folks who actually starve, they tend to get thrown to the wolves as the rest of the crowd scrabbles for advantage.

For their part, the elite seem to be very short on innovation and imagination. Instead they seem only too willing to drive everyone straight to the bottom as long as they can still land on top of the pile. Meanwhile with most everybody barely hanging on, nobody wants to rock the boat. Your average schmoe is going to pursue his best opportunities, and that isn't going to include a revolution as long as the majority of the population gets enough to eat most of the time. Usually, it is only when real hunger sets in that people resort to war.

There are plenty of modern day examples around the world. There is historical precendent right here in the U.S. too. In the early 1900's there were many areas in New York and Boston where people lived in luxury within 100 paces of disease ridden tenements who's occupants worked essentially as slaves. America was theoretically a democracy then too. But still it happened, and not in just a few places.

So regardless of what we could do, I expect that by and large this is how things will go. In developed nations I don't expect a breakdown but rather a long miserable slog. Things probably will get a whole hell of a lot worse and people will still follow orders. We won't starve, but we will work hard and live poor while a few idle away their time in godlike luxury. Our path will continue to be determined by the short term interests of the existing elite rather than by facts and foresight. It's a classic greed trap on the part of both rich and poor.

In regions that are already experiencing extreme population density and poverty, I'm very much afraid we're looking at famines on a scale never seen before. At this point I don't think there is anything that can prevent it. And no matter how much food we pour into those areas, they will always be starving at the limit of their food supply as long as their cultures proscribe birth control. Not that we shouldn't make the effort but let's not kid ourselves, it is a lost cause until those attitudes change.

On the plus side, popular culture does learn eventually. After this peak, I expect that the 'peak water' and 'peak phosphorus' folks are going to find much more receptive audiences. So in the long run I believe that whoever survives our current fustercluck will respond much more quickly to resource depletion in the future.

We could cut our petroleum usage by 25% to 50% 'over night'.

I think we would all be surprised at how much we could save.

  • Driving more conservatively
  • Eliminate/consolidate trips
  • Vacation closer to home
  • Drive our most efficient vehicle
  • Those of us who drove through the '70s oil embargo should remember a lot of tricks.

    Car pools, an obvious. That's where the CA 'park and ride' lots along our highways came from. We did car pools via old tech back then. Now you could Craiglist it much more efficiently.

    Some people who had long commutes slept in town a night or few in town. On friend's couches, in shared rooms, rented bedrooms, behind their desks, even hauled their RVs to town and found a lot on which to "store" them.

    Corporations bought multi-passenger vans and small buses. Paid one of their employees to drive others to/from work.

    Worked fewer, longer days.

    What makes you think "young" voters want their savings stolen so that bureaucrats in D.C. can give it all to the banks and the elderly and the military? Your assumptions are way off.

    There are some good guys out there: Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, etc. But they are deemed unelectable by the guardians of American Empire.

    Thereby, I don't vote.

    Thank you for not voting. I have a feeling that we would have to round up another vote to cancel yours out.

    Young voters want a future. If we don't get ourselves off of fossil fuels and slow down global warming they will be greatly hurt, far more than us old folks who will die off before things get really bad.

    Young voters want decent jobs. Corporations will not give them the jobs they want. Right now corporations are sitting on immense piles of cash and they are not creating jobs. Our economy will stagnate until someone primes the pump and the government is the only player likely to do the job.

    Young voters need to suck it up and help support the elderly. We birthed and raised them. We built their schools and paid their teachers. We built the infrastructure that they now use to earn their living. We created the modern medicine which keeps them healthy and the technology which makes their lives so much easier and so much more enjoyable.

    We paid in because those ahead of us paid our way. It was our turn.

    The young need to pay their share. Otherwise the next generation is not likely to help them out when they get older.

    Bob, I admire your optomism, while disagreeing with almost all of your positions. Any nation which spends in excess of 75 per cent of the annual tax collections on military and Security operations does not have the ability to do all the wonderful things you mention. When outlining Pres Obama's accomplishments you forgot to mention his doubling the forces in Afganistan, increasing the use of unmanned aircraft and CIA assination squads in Pakistan and Yeman. and his cutting of the SS tax on employees. Yes we raised the debt ceiling and are already pushing up against the limits. A super group of Congress people will now decide on further austerity programs after exempting the MIC and Sec apparatus. I do not see any hope for the reapir of the economy under any presented scenario.

    President Obama got stuck with two wars he did not start. He's pretty much gotten us out of one and decided that the best way to get us out of the other was to go strong for a while and then pull out.

    With both he had to make a choice between trying to get a stable government in control or just pull out and risk war spreading throughout the region. There are players in the neighborhood with nuclear weapons.

    Did he make the best decisions? We'll never know for sure, but things do seem to be cooling down and we haven't seen any mushroom clouds. It seems like people in other ME countries don't hate us as much as they did, we've earned a bit of respect back.

    Unmanned aircraft doesn't risk American lives like sending in troops. And likely results in fewer unnecessary deaths. Drones don't need to shoot their way in and way out.

    I am 100% behind focusing on the leaders who caused the problems and not on the grunts who would probably rather be home tending their farms and playing with their children.

    We spend way too much of our money on our military. No argument.

    (Cutting SS tax on employees isn't ringing a bell for me.)

    Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables would be cheaper than totally destroying our economy and sending us back to caves, would it not? Wind is already much cheaper than coal (if we do all-in accounting). Solar is probably there or will be in the next year or two.

    California must either add lanes to its highways and enlarge its airports or build high-speed rail. Building HSR is cheaper.

    I'm worried about the economy. I strongly believe that Republicans are stopping recovery in an attempt to take back the White House. We may be in bad shape until after the Nov 2012 election.

    After the election, if we get lucky, we'll have returned control of Congress to Democrats and Obama to the White House and we'll get some good job growth programs.

    If we get unlucky we'll give control back to Republicans and we'll watch the programs most of us depend on, Medicare, Social Security, clean/safe water, food and medicines degraded. The rich will get richer and the other 90%+ of us will slide further down the nasty end of the stick. After all, it's just not fair for a CEO to make only 300x what a department manager makes. A CEO should make 500X, 800X what the rest of us make.

    Here's a hint: If your net worth isn't at least $10 million then you're part of the underclass, not one of the rich. There are only two classes in the Republican playbook, their rich benefactors and the rest of us....

    Murder is murder even if US troops are not risked. I remember the payroll tax cut.

    War is organized murder.


    The alternative when someone else decides to wage war against us is?


    President Obama signed a payroll tax cut in 2010. It was a temporary cut designed to help us recover from the recession. It's scheduled to run out, PBO wants to extend it, Republicans don't.

    Is that a mark against President Obama?

    Obama's under funding of social security is a huge negative.

    It was cheaper to enforce the no fly zone. Bush wanted to invade Iraq to drop smart bombs and stuff. It was a war for show a war to placate the neo-cons. It was a tremendous waste of treasure. The no fly zone was cheap and easy.

    Saddam was a danger to the flow. He invaded Kuwait.

    Given a lack of a functional international court - how were claims of slant drilling into the reserves be resolved?

    And Mr. Husein *DID* ask America if it was OK...April Glaspie said ‘[W]e have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.' Mr. H took that as a yes it seems.

    It really does look like a case of poor communication.

    That said, Saddam was an a-hole and we need to get ourselves out of our dependence on oil which causes us to have to buddy up with a-holes.

    It's pretty sad when our president finds it necessary to go around kissing oil sheiks on the lips. We're supposed to be all about democracy, not about supporting monarchies and dictatorships....

    That said, Saddam was an a-hole

    If "we" start adopting a policy of "killing holes'd'A", do you not risk becoming what you fight?

    Getting off of oil will either require replacing that energy level with something else that can expand and grow or defaulting on the debt based money system.

    Sorry, where did I advocate killing people?

    My point was that our dependence on other people's oil puts us in bed with some people we should avoid.

    Others have. And such reasons are being cited for Mr. Q-daffy in Lybia.

    It seems to happen in different ways to different Empires, but here's my best guess:

    The middle classes of the country will be wiped out as all flows of money go to Wall Street and the Pentagon. The non defense related corporations will be able to manage the hit at first, by cost cutting, layoffs, etc. as, they are doing now- but ultimately, the catabolism of the private economy will force a day of reckoning.

    It's quite literally going to be Wal-Mart and Apple vs. JP Morgan and Lockheed Martin. That's when the fireworks begin. You can see the first shots being fired, as retailers struggle, for example, and other big shots get frustrated:


    Cry me a river! Impoverished denizens of Empire, whose productive efforts pay for bonds for bankers and bombs for Libya, don't have any money left to buy over-priced over-sugared coffee!

    America will devolve into every individual and corporation for itself. See, that's the thing that Republicans and their Democrat pet jellyfish don't understand: you can have either feudalism, or a nation state, but you can't have both. Rising oil production makes it seem like you can, as everybody gets their piece of the pie, but peak oil puts an end to that fantasy.

    Feudalism it is then.

    I make it out to be a greatly expanded "just getting by" class. A much smaller middle class, the rich still need dentists and accountants and they will have to toss some scraps to the folks on the bottom to avoid uprisings. (Going a bit overboard on that last bit.)

    The rich will still be with us, but 'ours' will be a smaller portion of the world's super-rich.

    The big corporations will do OK. They are already international, they'll get more of their income from outside the US but will hang on inside the country because 'a buck is a buck'.

    When I was growing up middle class meant living in a modest sized house, having one phone, one TV and one car, eating something more elaborate than ground beef a few times a week. It wasn't a bad life. A lot of us are likely to settle back closer to that quality of life....

    A much smaller middle class


    The elites will want to maintain a token or Potemkin Village middle class just so that the bottom class can dream (American Dream) of crossing over into that mezzanine level and then finally into upper (heaven) class.

    The lower class is needed for doing the gardening and midnight office cleanings.

    Much of the middle class work can be done cheaply overseas (i.e. off-shored accounting, computer programming, etc.) but hands on medical care for the rich and deserving will still have to be hands on.

    (Of course the lower classes will be "freed" by free market health care programs to go and try to find non-existing health insurance for themselves; and when they don't succeed, it will be their fault for not trying hard enough. Kind of like why God sometimes says no to your prayers because you simply didn't pray hard enough. That latter thing is called "Obama-prayer" which is a code word for you know what. The gullible victim is always at fault. We don't want no pansy ansy nanny state here, do "we" now?)

    We've got an option.

    We can quit voting for the rich folks' candidates.

    Time to take our personal dislikes for other people's skin color, native origin, sexual orientation, religion and lifestyles out of the political mix. Big money is splitting us apart over things that really don't matter.

    It's time we started voting our own interests. Enough of this crap of corporations paying their CEOs more than they pay in taxes. Enough of someone who isn't really much more talented than most of the other people working in a company making 300 times as much.

    We've created a new nobility, CEOs. They're eating the cake and brushing us the crumbs.

    It's time that we start looking at our candidates and determining if they are going to work for the common good or for their wealthy puppet masters.

    It's time we quit falling for the "less regulations am a good thing" myth. Those regulations keep us safe in our workplaces and in our homes.

    It's time we quit falling for the "cut taxes on the rich and they will give us jobs". The rich are rolling in the loot and we're dealing with incredible unemployment.

    If we end up dividing ourselves over the 'more conservative/less conservative' issue, fine. Some of us are going to be more "adventurous" and some of us less so. But that does not mean that we can't work together to find compromises which give us all better lives. Right now the super-greedy is causing us to fight needlessly among ourselves while they clean out our piggy banks.

    We've got an option. We can quit voting for the rich folks' candidates.

    There is another option - stop spending money on 'em.

    One expression of this:
    http://www.unitedwestrike.com/ (Now, how many people do you know who are actually doing the "no spending on the 15th"? I can count 'em on the fingers of a severed hand....)

    quit voting for the rich folks' candidates

    That means not voting at all

    That's what i did. no one can be a pres now without at least several hundred million to a billion dollars behind him or her. no way what so ever would they ever serve the interests of someone making about 20k a year.

    We already have one of the lowest fraction of eligible voters casting ballots in the world.

    That sort of thing reminds me of the tiresome "don't buy gas next Tuesday (or from this or that company)" spam that comes in when gas prices spike. Whatever doesn't get bought on the 15th will be bought on the 16th, 17th, or 18th...

    They are all global corporations. If there are no consumers in the US then they will sell elsewhere. The US can be 100% government employees (with some farmers and oilmen). It can be a command economy that services the military and the federal/state/county/town government. More totalitarian rather than feudal.

    We had some folks years ago argue vehemently that Operation Iraqi Freedom had nothing or little to do with oil.

    And Libyan leader Qudaffi was talking about oil nationalization. And somehow, with "tight" oil supplies , the outcome of the announcement is different than in 2009 when similar talk happened.

    I would hope here the discussion would be a little more fact-based on the energy side of things...Libyan oil has been nationalized for ages. In 2004 when sanctions were lifted, there was a big rush into Libya by "the majors", and the current structure of fields and contracts is pretty stable.

    Gadhafi had been talking about renegotiating the contracts, to take a bigger slice for the state in the better market. All that has been covered well here.

    "Today's perpetual wars are in fact camouflaged oil subsidies."

    I would be happy to add the cost of wars to the price at the pump. Can I get you signed up for that? Of course that is going to hit rural people pretty hard, which of course means that they are one of the biggest beneficiaries of these kinds of subsidies. I think you fall into that category yourself.

    Here's an article for Darwinian from the WSJ, an interview with Nestle's chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe:

    Can the World Still Feed Itself?

    "If politicians of this world really want to tackle food security," Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe says, "there's only one decision they have to make: No food for fuel. . . . They just have to say 'No food for fuel,' and supply and demand would balance again."


    "when politicians say, 'We want to replace 20% of the energy market through the food market,'" this means "we would have to triple food production" to meet that goal—and that's before we eat the first kernel of what we've grown.

    E. Swanson

    It is not just an article for me but an article for everyone. He is saying that we can feed the world only if we stop using food for fuel and get rid of our GM food phobia.

    "If you look at those countries that have introduced GMOs," Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe says, "you will see that the yield per hectare has increased by about 30% over the past few years. Whereas the yields for non-GMO crops are flat to slightly declining." And that gap, he says, "is a voluntary gap. . . . It's just a political decision."

    And he rants against meat and the overuse of water:

    "And the demand for meat," he says, "has a multiplier effect of 10. You need 10 times as much land, 10 times as much [feed], 10 times as much water to produce one calorie of meat as you do to have one calorie of vegetables or grain."

    Feeding the world gets more and more difficult every year. The green revolution has reached its pinnacle, at least as far as non-GM foods go. More and more people are occupying the planet each day and they demand to be fed. But a lot of them won't be fed. Many will simply starve. And it has already started. Famine Is Declared in Sixth Region of Somalia; 750,000 May Starve to Death

    The United Nations declared a famine in a sixth region of Somalia, where tens of thousands of people have died this year and 750,000 more are at risk of starvation...

    The number of people requiring food assistance has increased to 4 million, or 53 percent of Somalia’s population, from 3.7 million people in July. Rains expected between October and December may bring a new threat through the spread of illnesses such as cholera, and there isn’t enough funding available to stop an outbreak of disease, Bowden said.

    We are deep, deep, deep into overshoot. That is a predicament that must be faced, it is not a problem that can be solved. Peak oil means peak food, peak food means peak people. It is the end of growth. The end of growth is the beginning of collapse.

    Ron P.

    Hmmmmm, a far cheaper and simpler solution would be the condom.

    Marco, I truly hope you are just trying to be funny and are not positing condoms as an answer to all the world's food problems. You may as well suggest that NATO fly over Somalia and dumb a few million condoms from the air.

    Seriously, China has had a one child policy for decades now and their population is still growing. And they have used iron fisted rule to impose it. Indira Gandhi tried to use forced sterilization on India and was almost lynched because of it.

    The world's population problem does not respond to simplistic solutions. Anyway, overshoot is already here. There is no solution to overshoot.

    Ron P.

    We could damp down the overshoot.

    Yep it was rather flippant of me. Just a minor quibble on the one child policy. Apparently according to wikipedia it only applisd to 36% of families by demographic, introduced in 1978 so it really would not have had time to filter throguh the generational population decrease (on top of hte fact it only applies to a third of families.)

    Pakistan, India, s.America, Africa....now were talking some serious birht rates there!

    China may be within 50 million people of their peak population.

    A demographic chart of China by age (5 year bars)


    Shows some hope long term. *IF* China can "keep it together" till then.

    Best Hopes for the Chinese,


    PS: Extending trends, the US population should exceed that of China at some point this century. Which, in my mind, proves that current trends will not continue.

    Spot on.
    Can I suggest that we all study your link?
    World Bank also provides useful data - and an interactive graph of fertility rate.
    (Below 2 means below the long term replacement rate.)

    I have just looked at China's fertility rate changes since the 1960s.
    China has been below the replacement rate since 1993/4.
    [Ron's quote "China's population is still increasing" is explained by the high fertility rates that preceded the rapid down turn. I agree though that the World's aggregate rate at 2.5 per woman, though continuing a long term decline, is still higher than the replacemant rate.]
    Most of Europe has been below the replacement rate for 30 or 40 years.

    My British 19thC family (mostly farm laborers) contributed to Britain's population very rapid increase; one of my great-great (?) grandmothers produced 9 children around the 1840s.
    Some things change.
    It is not just modern 'contraception tools'. A changing role for women counts.
    Enter Bangladesh in the World Bank chart. Fertility rate was around 7 until the 1980s.
    In 2009 the rate was 2.3. [2.3 was the fertility rate in the UK in 1971/2]

    Best hopes for the Chinese and Bangladeshis


    Thanks for this, Phil. I was going to write something similar.

    Although China's One Child Policy gets a lot of press, China's total fertility rate was declining for some time before the policy was introduced. With all the exemptions for minorities and 'frontier' areas, it's doubtful that the policy had any effect at all.

    Free healthcare and basic education in rural areas was what turned China. I don't know what happened in Bangladesh in the 1980s, but I'd bet that improved healthcare in the villages was a big part of it.

    The policy did have an effect. It has significantly reduced the ratio of females to males, largely thru infanticide. A large fraction of the generation of young men coming of age right now in China will never have a mate. The availability of sonograms in India is having the same effect, except the method is abortion.

    The law of unintended consequences.

    I think that there is hope for the Chinese but certainly not for the Bangladeshi. The low birth rate now has nothing to do with the population inertia built into the system. Bangladesh has a higher % of the population in the age range for breeding because of the higher birthrate just a few year before. It takes a hell of a long time before it works through the population until the % of the breeding population fall to a point where the total number of the population stabilizes and falls. We have seen this with China.

    Bangladesh has the highest usage of Nitrogen fertilizer in the world in amount/ hectare. It only takes the cost of that to double or treble and Bangladesh is in big trouble.

    Both Alan & I tried to cover the 'momentum' in population rise.
    I was not addressing 'birth rate', per se, but 'fertility rate' per woman over reproductive lifetime.
    Yes it does take time to make the transition to a 'peak population'.
    China started the major decline in fertility in 1967/1968, 'crossing the line' to below replacement rate in 1993/94. Of course as Alan wrote there is still another 50M before total population 'peaks' in China.

    Bangladesh began the decline in woman's fertility about 10 years later, 1975/76, from a higher prevailing rate (7 per woman in B'desh versus 6 in China). B'desh has yet to reach replacement level of 2/woman, so there is more 'momentum' in the continuing rise in their population.

    I am not pretending that pressure on productive land and food security is not an existing and critical issue, but I note some very different looking figures for B'desh from the World Bank regarding fertilizer application per hectare. This is quoted as 164t/ha of NPK, down since 2006.(You referred to just the N component of fertilizer, but the total NPK is relevant in this context.) China, again according to WB, is quoted as 468t/ha, up from 433 in 2006. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.CON.FERT.ZS
    B'desh population is still largely rural (72%), but total population compared with area under cereals (not including 'double-cropping') gives a ratio of 13.5 persons per cereals area.

    Bangladesh undeniably has a 'food security' problem going forward, but we in the UK should be used to the concept of not being able to feed ouselves from home-grown calories. Last time was probably in the 1840s. Currently UK has about 3.3Mha cereals production, which is over 19 persons per cereals hectare. (UK maximum 'plowable' area is probably about 6Mha, but that still is 10 persons per hectare). At a push, with all those tractors and grain drying kit, and our 200kg/ha of N application, let alone the P&K, we could probably feed the 63M on a carefully rationed diet, but I don't see that as a practical proposition? Sure, 'food' will be a massive issue for 'trade' everywhere, but hope 'we' will adjust, and perhaps even so might Bangladesh?

    Bangladesh unfortunately is already very close maximum capacity, and even with the decline in fertility rate, the current demographic of young women will probably contribute to the population continuing to grow from around 150 million now to a peak of 250 million. Unfortunately at 150 million people the place is massively over-crowded and under resourced, and risk of flooding is already an annual event for many regardless of any possible additional factor due to climate change.

    Domestic energy supplies are always stretched and gas distribution is typically rationed between domestic and industrial consumers, let alone the proportion that is converted to fertilizer - to grow the extra food. A browse through the local papers usually shows some story picking up on one of these threads. Today's is about fertilzer.


    I made a conscious decision to never reproduce - stuck to it - practiced B.C. and was successful. I often wonder - what is wrong with the rest of the World?

    Sex feels good.

    Some people don't have adequate access to contraception techniques and information.

    > Some people don't have adequate access to contraception techniques and information.

    More than this. People aren't completely stupid, even -- especially -- the illiterate ones.

    If you have no education, so no hope of a good income, and you are just barely subsisting, children are your only possible way of investing in your future.

    The way to avoid overshoot is to get every girl in the world in the 1970s into school for at least ten years.


    Especially for girls, if you have no education you have no role in society except as a mother. That's more what's behind the correlation between birthrates and education.

    Hey I know someone that tried for a 4th child and got twins. So insane and I cannot fathom how they can afford those children.

    The solution is of course disease. Nature worked out the solution already. People will not die of starvation. They will die of diseases spread during these famines. The body is incredible weak when it starves. Diseases will rip through these communities. But I tend to think that famine and disease in africa will not help the Oil problem, since Africa uses so little oil. But how on Earth can we save Africa. There is nothing left other than asking people to not eat meat and stop making biofuels.

    As far as I can tell, few would give up meat or their cars in the West. It is Doom for Africa.

    That's one of the "benefits" of a complex society -- it creates multiple levels of isolation between root cause and effect, and when coupled with an entropic distribution of wealth allows some to live in splendor and waste while others starve in squalor. Out of sight, out of mind.

    But how on Earth can we save Africa.

    Oct, imagine if the world spent 1/2 of what it spent on the Libya conflict helping those in Africa limit their number of pregnancies if they so desired.

    The Chinese may save Africa.

    China is latching on to huge amounts of farmland and introducing modern agricultural techniques. A lot of the food is going to China but agreements are in place to leave a good share for the locals.

    China is starting to move some of their lowest skilled, most labor intensive manufacturing to Africa. Easy to learn entry jobs are the way an underdeveloped gets kick-started. First generation works the textile mills and gives their children a better education. Builds from there.

    China is bringing the capital and skills needed. Developed societies are, in general, the ones with the lowest birth rates.

    "leave a good share for the locals" How much? 10%? Do you have a reference? How little farm land and water supply is needed to feed Africa? How much will China, KSA, Egypt, UAE, etc. leave? Do you have a reference?

    China's one child policy does not apply to rural families nor to minorities. There are too many loopholes in it to make their population decline.

    See the demographic age pyramid that I linked to contradict that.

    Almost 2 to replace 3 women per generation is my read.


    Dropping Condoms over Somalia sounds like a great idea to me.

    And do you really want to say that China has been a failure over the last 30 years? They've had a HUGE economic turn-around the one-child policy is part of that success whether people admit it or not.

    Birth control has a to be a big part of the solution. If we only try to find ways of feeding people then all we end up with is more mouths to feed 20 years later.

    Dropping condoms over Somalia would be really stupid. They want food, not condoms. They are starving to death, children are dying by the hundreds every day and you would drop condoms. Give me a break. Don't you think it is a bit too late for that?

    No, I really don't want to say China has been a failure over the past 30 years. I did not even hint at that. It is a cheap trick to insinuate that someone said something they clearly did not say. Don't do that. It only degrades your argument to the level of cheap rhetorical tricks. What I did say was that their population is still growing despite their one child policy.

    A lot of people seem to think that birth control, no matter what form it is in, condoms, one child policy, the empowerment of women or whatever, is the answer to all the world's population problems. It is not. We are already way over the population that the earth can support for the long term even if we never hit peak oil. But without fossil fuels the earth can support less than one billion people... long term.

    That was my point. No form of population control will fix the world's overshoot problem. There is no solution to overshoot, there are only consequences. And the consequence of overshoot, no matter what the species, is always die-off.

    Ron P.

    The US has readily available birth control, abortion, and equality for women, yet our population grows, and will eventually surpass China if unchecked. As long as people overbreeding ANYWHERE have outlets via immigration, the problem will continue.

    In the 50's, Haiti had something like 4 million people. Today it has more than twice that, despite exporting over 1M people to the US alone. The simple expedient of having fewer children could have left Haiti with only about 3M people, all things else being equal, and that impoverished island would need to support only 1/3 of its current population.

    Either fewer people need to be born or many more people need to die. Personally, I'd rather see fewer people and longer lifespans, rather than more people and short miserable lives.

    The US population does not grow due to US women giving birth at about the replacement rate. Without immigration the US population would be in decline.

    Over time we will feel the pressure to take more and more people from greatly overcrowded parts of the world. It would be greatly in our best interests to help the least developed parts of the world, the places where the "breeders" are most productive, to improve their lives and education. We should be able to shave something off the top of the population peak.

    I agree we already feel pressure, and we should resist it. I am all for helping out but providing food and meds is obviously not the answer. Sending such aid to the 3rd world areas was tried via the Green Revolution, and has obviously failed. After the empirical testing of social initiatives since the 60's, it is clear that most programs have not worked as envisioned. So, we need to do something different, both in the US and abroad. Something which results in far fewer people.

    Removing the social abhorrence toward sterilization should be part of the solution. Having multiple children should not be an unfettered right, given the "tragedy of the commons" which affects our entire world.

    Is it really better to have kids and watch them starve, than to not have them at all? Is it better to have 10B in squalor than 1B in plenty or 100M in paradise? Easy to answer if you're one of the fortunate few.

    Americans, more than anyone else in the world, are responsible for global warming/climate change.

    Would we be in the right to keep out climate refugees when we are the ones who screwed them over?


    BTW, the Green Revolution was an immense success. Many of our programs have been wildly successful. Population growth is largely due to the fact that more people now live long enough to reproduce, thanks to modern medicine and sanitation.

    I agree that we need to tackle the population problem, but not how you suggest. Education and access to birth control methods would cut birth rates significantly.

    Most new problems are the results of old solutions. The green revolution is the proximate cause of many other resource shortages, and yet has not addressed the original problem of world hunger. So it is worse than a failure in my book. It was a technical success and a systematic failure, at best.

    Medicine is more complex, and has indeed been a technical success and mostly a systematic success, but antibiotics are nearing their end of utility as well. And, as you note, another cause of famine and widespread resource shortages.

    Neither should ever have been undertaken with some other constraints on populations to take their places.

    I'm all for education and birth control, but neither is terribly successful today. Certainly when abortion is a reasonable solution we have serious moral issues, and infanticide still prevails in places. Which brings me back to the point about rights of refugees -- if unborn and newborn babies have few rights, how can anybody? Such are mere presumptions of largess, of a society that can afford such niceties. Once the Brits under Pax Romana enjoyed peace and freedom for hundreds of years. 200 years later their lives were violent and full of wants, and their population lower.

    I don't disagree with your first point, but just because it's true doesn't mean that everybody can ever have a first world life. Obviously we're not giving up ours, so others cannot attain it unless they can compel the US to share. Yet another conundrum, and the obvious mitigation is to preclude others from scrambling up a ladder to our king of the hill position.

    I admit it sucks, and it violates every sense of fairness and my natural feelings for equality and all that, but this is the way I see it. It'll suck to be some people; hopefully it's not me, and not my kids.


    I don't think there is a "single" reason why fertility rates are dropping but the infant mortality rate is of interest. Parents can "plan" their family if they have confidence their offspring will survive.
    Survival rates due to the elimination of childhood diseases and limited malaria contraction have allowed for a steady reduction in infant mortality rates around the world.

    All of the following contribute with varying degrees to the falling fertility rates but any can be reversed fairly quickly.
    Literacy rates
    Rise of the middles classes
    Medical advancement
    Later age childbirth (deferment)
    Childhood survival rates
    Birth control
    Internet and communication

    The modern world built on cheap FF's is not "normal" for humans. World population tripled with the exploitation of FF's and are stabilizing due to same. Of course there will be no fanciful continuation of the present norm with the collapse of enabling resources, nor will humans be able to breed quickly enough to offset the dieoff.

    You left off urbanization.

    In agricultural societies children are an asset. Just feed them, put a few clothes on them and you've got cheap labor.

    Move to town and there's essentially no gainful employment for children, plus you have educational expenses.

    The die-off is a figment of twisted imaginations. There is absolutely no reason we need to suffer a great die off.

    Personally, I'd rather see fewer people and longer lifespans, rather than more people and short miserable lives.

    Paleocon, I agree with you. Our world should be helping nations limit their population growth to help reduce the bad effects on all of us from overpopulation.

    Global supplies of Wheat , Rice, and Corn...... A tipping point.

    That is a predicament that must be faced, it is not a problem that can be solved.

    I'm betting that is not true. Lets look at the word problem below and solve it.

    Peak oil means peak food, peak food means peak people.

    PO = PF. PF = PP.

    Peak production of oil only means peak food if the extracted oil is not shifted in any way to food production. Assuming no shifting means ignoring how oil demand was shifted in the US of A during WWII.

    If the number of people is a function of the volume of food and the amount of food is shrinking a solution is to eliminate some people. I hear that Kinetic Military Actions and Contagion! are historic ways to get that population reduction going on.

    My comment was: "We are deep, deep, deep into overshoot. That is a predicament that must be faced, it is not a problem that can be solved.

    Overshoot is the predicament. Now you can posit starving or killing people in war as a solution to overshoot if you wish. But the vast majority of people would say starvation is a consequence not a solution. It is the consequence of a problem not being solved. Or I would say it is the consequence of an unsolvable predicament. However if you wish to call starvation or the killing of people in war a solution then I will not argue the point.

    Edit: I must add that the percentage of the world's population killed in wars in the last two hundred years is a very tiny fraction of the total population. Only a drop in the bucket. The deadliest war in history, WW2, killed from between 3.17 and 4 percent of the 1939 population. World War II casualties If the same number were killed today, between 62,171,400 and 78,511,500, it would be about 1 percent of the world's population.

    Ron P.

    Sadly, it is too late for any kind of reduction in birth rate by whatever means to help a growing portion of the world's population--particularly in much of the MENA area as oil production declines. The only option is mass importation of food and water--essentially forever--or emigration. Bits of both are happening, but death-in-place seems the likely result for a large portion of the population in the fairly short term.

    The countries are subsidizing their own decline by keeping oil cheep in their countries. But populations would likely revolt if prices were allowed to rise to global rates.

    There are places where various means, particularly empowering women, have brought down birth rates significantly, but if I mention any of them people will jump all over me pointing out that these are not utopias. (duh)

    But really, the idea of massive death as a 'solution' is not new, though it may be 'final.'

    But really, the idea of massive death as a 'solution' is not new, though it may be 'final.'

    I think you are using the wrong word here. Massive deaths can in no way be considered a solution, it is the natural outcome of a predicament that has no solution. If a train is speeding down the track and the engineer suddenly realizes that the bridge, one quarter mile ahead, is washed out, he has a predicament. The train will go into the river, no way to avoid that. Is that considered a "solution" to the problem? No way, it is simply the unavoidable outcome of the predicament that the engineer has found the train in.

    Allowing an unavoidable disaster to simply play out can in no stretch of the imagination be considered a solution. It would be the unavoidable consequence of a predicament that has no solution.

    The distinction boils down to this: Problems have solutions; predicaments have outcomes. A solution to a problem fixes it, returning all to its original condition. Flat tires get fixed, revenues recover, and bones mend. Once a suitable solution can be found and made to work, a problem can be solved.

    A predicament, by contrast, has no solution. Faced with a predicament, people can develop responses, but not solutions. Those responses may succeed, they may fail, or they may fall somewhere in between, but no response can erase a predicament. Predicaments have outcomes that can be managed, but circumstances cannot be returned to their original state.
    Chris Martenson: The Crash Course, page 53.

    Or read John Michael Greer's essay on the subject: Problems and Predicaments

    Ron P

    Famine is a resultof lack of food. This is considered a problem. Hence, starvition is the problem, and can therefore logically not be the solution. If a situation is a problem that isits own solution it is by definition not a problem. Logically, the starvation can never be the solution here. Colonizing Mars and moving the poulaion there would be, though.

    Logically, the starvation can never be the solution here. Colonizing Mars and moving the poulaion there would be, though.

    Nuff said. I now know where to file all your posts from now on.

    Ron P.

    Since you did not write what box you wouldput my future posts in I don't realy know what youmeant, but the negative spin to it makes me think it was not to be taken as a compliment.

    Hence I guess you failed to understand what I meant. And since you never explained what was wrong I can only guess it was my Mars statement that pulled you over.

    So let me explain what I meant with moving people to Mars: I simply see no way to solve the over population problem here one earth. People will starve in large number, either when PO or CC hit us in the rear end. With moving people to Mars I simply meant that THIS PLANET can not support 7 billion people. I thought you where smart enough to understand that. Aparently not.

    If this was not the problemwith my post, then please elaborate.

    Jedi, I just realized from a post of yours above that English is not your first language. So let me apologize. You wrote: "Colonizing Mars and moving the poulaion there would be, though."

    I took that to mean "Colonizing Mars and moving the [populaion] there would be,(a solution) though." In other words I took it that you meant that colonizing Mars would be the solution to our population problems.

    I guess you meant "tough" rather than "though". In other words you were probably being sarcastic and just used the wrong word.

    Sorry about that.

    Ron P.

    I suspected you got my message wrongly, because what I wrote in the original post was basicly that I agreed with you. Nothing in it should be offensive to anyone.

    No problem with this. These kinds of things happen when you (or me in this case) speak foreign languages. You native english speakers don't know how easy ride you have :c)

    English is though tough, especially for Amercans ;-)

    A Yogi Bera quote?

    The Drumbeat used to be a great place, but then it became so popular that no one goes there any more.

    And always remember, if you come to a fork in the road, take it.

    Love me some YB! ;-)

    Though it may indeed be tough to find more than a handful of Amercans who are passably fluent in the nuances and intricacies of the Anglo Saxon vernacular, they are often adamant, that no other languages should be spoken, let alone written...

    Hmmm... could our good mayor also learn how to spell?


    You native english speakers don't know how easy ride you have :c)

    Not really. English is difficult to spell and has both a weird numbering system and a ton of exceptions in grammar. I haven't seen anything concrete, but I've read before that the lag of American and British students is due, in part, to the irregularities of English.

    English is special in a number of ways. I once had to have some technical manuals translated from English into Spanish and German. The approx. 50% increase in word count in both languages really messed up the syncronization of pictures and text.

    English is closely related to the germanic language group. All germanic languages have loads of iregulatities. If you study swedish, english or german, you have to learn lists of iregular verbs, by heart. Then you have all exeptions to everything. In swedish you have two versions of the "determined artikle" (that is "the") wich both are neutral (den and det) so you have to learn by heart for every thing-word weather it is an -n or -t word. And we have on top of that almost 10 different plural forms wich you also have to learn by heart, word by word.

    Germanic languages are a pain.

    ...and more than half the actual words are french... badly pronounced.

    Ron, sorry, I was trying, poorly, to agree with you.

    And also trying, badly, to make a put on the "Final Solution" i.e. Hitler's plan to wipe out the Jews.

    Why is the fertile crescent no longer fertile? Climate change, or resource depletion? The answer to that has significant import for humanity overall.

    My bet - both. And we are still screwed.

    We are being presented with the opportunity to screw ourselves.

    I refuse to think we've already done so.

    Unless we've already warmed up the planet so much that methane boil off is guaranteed then we've still got a chance.

    If we blow the chance it will be because we listen to the pessimists....

    Or perhaps to optimists?


    Pessimistic realist here!

    'Neither a Lender nor a Borrower be.. '

    IE, in this case, optimism and pessimism should be kept in balance.. staying at either extreme is unproductive, and I'd say, unrealistic.

    The pessimist throws up his hands in defeat. His defeat is guaranteed.

    The unrealistic optimist can waste a lot of effort on solutions which won't work, but at least they will try and sometimes succeed.

    The best approach, IMHO, is to be a careful optimist. Assume there's an answer, look hard with a practical eye for a route that should get you there. And, even if you can't find a perfect solution, get going on the most promising idea hoping that you get a better idea along the way. Good ideas can build off of imperfect ones.

    Worst case, you go down bailing. (The pessimist will already be fish food.)

    Best case, you hang on until the rescue ship arrives.

    The pessimist complains about the wind;
    the optimist expects it to change;
    the realist adjusts the sails.
    —William Arthur Ward

    Being complex systems, we vary. But from what I've read over the last year, most of the contributors to TOD are realists, with occasional bouts with the extremes.

    the realist adjusts the sails

    ... and the guy who brought his umbrella & raincoat to work that day,
    well he just walks as fast as he can past the 3 weird guys in the street and their pretend sailboat

    Right, and the pessimistic realist curses the sudden squall and sets about the necessary task of battening down the hatches and adjusts his sails because he expects to be in for a rough ride!

    Jokuhl is right. We need both.

    Yes, optimists are more likely to get off their butts and do something (whether or not it actually helps). They also tend to have better relationships with others.

    But pessimists are more perceptive of danger. They notice trouble that optimists do not. In bad times, it might be better to hang with the pessimists.

    optimists are more likely to get off their butts and do something


    A true "optimist" is someone who says,
    surely "they" will come up with something.

    Therefore there is no need to get off one's butt and do something.

    Optimist/ pessimist/ realist is a false choice menu.

    There are "doers" and then there are talkers.

    USA (a.k.a. "we") has become a nation mostly (95% ?) of talkers who refuse to walk the talk even one block to a nearby feed-me market lot. The SUV takes us everywhere outside our gated McMansions.

    footnote: bonus Dilbert strip on walk & talk here

    Additional funny on green and done run lean here

    USA (a.k.a. "we") has become a nation mostly (95% ?) of talkers who refuse to walk the talk even one block to a nearby feed-me market lot. The SUV takes us everywhere outside our gated McMansions.

    There would be a lot fewer obese Americans if instead of sitting in their SUVs in the drive through lane at their local fast food joint, they had to go catch their lunch themselves....


    I don't think it's a false choice, and no, I wasn't referring to talkers vs. doers.

    There's been a lot of research done on this, and I find it very interesting. There's a reason why we have both optimists and pessimists; it's because they are both useful, in different ways.

    OK. Thanks.
    I think I misread what you were aiming at.

    At the end of the day, one needs some form of optimism about the end result if one is to get off their duff and give it at least a college try.

    A person who is 101% sure that nothing but bad will come from an effort, will generally not even try the first step forward.

    On the other hand, a person who wears only rose colored glasses and can't see how anything can possibly go wrong (Murphy's Law), that overly optimistic person might quickly be converted into an extreme pessimist the minute some tiny thing does go wrong with their pie in the sky optimistic scheme.

    So yes, we need both qualities (and they can co-exist in a same person)

    footnote humor: A pessimist and an optimist walk into a hospital ...

    Who do think got us to this point in time, Optimists or pessimists?

    Optimism appears to be a way of life, especially during education, the phrases supporting it are numerous including "there is no such thing as can't", "you can be anything you want", "you can achieve anything you want", "the sky is the limit", "nothing is impossible" "You can if you think you can", "there are only good days, or great days", "Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures".............

    A quick google will reveal many more to inspire your day. Nearly all require doing more with more. How are you going to get an optimist to do less with less.

    I can't see that true pessimists get anyone anywhere.

    I doubt that they can even get themselves out of the bed in the morning.

    Now, are you going to suggest that optimists are to be blamed for advancing our technology as much as it has? Do you expect that pessimists will be the ones who keep us from crashing as our fossil fuel supplies run out?

    So bottom line is that extremists at both ends of the Optimist/Pessimist spectrum are do-nothing, all hat and no cattle people.

    Yes/No "they" can/ cannot do whatever "they" plan to do. Me? I ain't gettin' out of bed. Why bother?

    footnote: Dilbert bonus comic strip here

    The point I was really hoping to get in there was that I find these 'Optimist/Pessimist' comparisons to be hopelessly (hopefully?) over-idealized.

    The presumption that comes with either title is so bland as to be essentially useless.. You now toss in a bunch of imagined platitudes, as if that is what drove this whole train to where we've now gotten.. no cynicism, no desperation, no greed? What part of this manufacturing culture of Planned Obsolescence is in fact, far more Pessimist than Optimist?

    I don't believe in Pessimists,
    I don't believe in Optimists..

    One dream is over.. (and another one begins).

    No, it will be because we do what comes easily and naturally, rather than purposefully and intelligently.

    We are far beyond the carrying capacity of earth. We will never have a flat distribution of food. We will probably never have equality for women in Africa and the Middle East, so any food will quickly turn into people. We have rampant resource overuse in China, India, Haiti, and many other locales.

    The ONLY solution is to have far fewer people. Historical ways of doing this are famine, disease, and war. It's not unusual for a resource-depleted land to drop by 90%. That seems about right.

    How will this occur this time? Will there be a sudden discovery of boundless energy AND responsible farming, AND global egality for men AND women, and readily available birth control AND responsible management of antibiotics AND...

    We face multiple problems including multiple predicaments. I'm all for optimism and taking purposeful action to ameliorate effects, but pretending they problems are not terribly serious, and with human nature at the root, does not help. The first step is to realize we have a problem, and it is us.

    ...responsible management of antibiotics...

    Yeah that one is not going to happen as most antibiotics are used to make chickens, pigs and cows. The whole misuse of these drugs was Big Ag. Furthermore, we closed the micro departments because we "solved" the bacteria problem according to the Gov and all those bright MD's setting public policy. See the system is poised to fail because the food problem is being solved by using up all current antibiotics, making a medical/disease problem in the future. We are using up our capital base too quickly; this being one small example. Furthermore, people like me that are supposed to make more antibiotics are being chased away from science in the name of saving money and increasing efficiency -- reducing the size of government. Departments are shrinking again. Does Merck care or are they working on the next anti-depressant?

    We are being presented with the opportunity to screw ourselves.

    I refuse to think we've already done so.

    Refusing to believe the obvious is called denial. What will we do to stop global warming? Well, we are doing it right now... absolutely nothing, and we will continue to do nothing... other than talk. And all that hot air only makes the problem worse. ;-)

    Anyway climate change is only a symptom of our disease of massive overpopulation. Resource depletion is another symptom. The symptoms will get worse, not better.

    Ron P.

    We are not doing nothing about global warming.

    We are installing wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal plants. We are bringing more hydro on line. We are perfecting tidal generation. We are moving from coal to natural gas (minimal improvement, but at least gas is dispatchable).

    We are increasing efficiency.

    (Just an aside, Macy's is installing 1 million LEDs in place of their 1 million halogen bulbs. That will save a lot of electricity and other commercial buildings will do the same. It will save Macy's $1 billion over ten years. Other businesses will want those savings.)

    The problem is, we may not be doing those things fast enough. That's really hard to determine. Have we already put enough heat into the system to melt out the methane? Or do we have another four decades to save our butts?

    Yes and Bob, please tell us how much all of those things (which I fully support) have reduced global coal consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions? Here's a clue Here's another

    Call me a pessimist, call me a realist. Doesn't matter.

    Well, some countries have quite a bit of renewable generation already on line.

    In 2010 wind produced 21% of electricity in Denmark, 18% in Portugal, 16% in Spain, 14% in Ireland and 9% in Germany. (The US is limping along behind at 2.5%.)

    Don't you expect that they would be burning more coal if they didn't have that much wind installed?

    I'd say that at this time renewables have decreased the rate of growth for coal. Coal is stalling out in many countries, including the US. We've got to stop building and plateau out before things start to drop.

    A massive switch to EVs will bring coal back. Run existing plants at higher capacity factor PLUS new plants some places.


    Not switching to EVs will bring coal back too. Coal liquification is just a matter of time if we don't manage to cut back on liquid fueled vehicles.

    With EVs, at least you have the highly efficient electric motors. The coal plants can be built with most efficient technology.

    Run existing plants at higher capacity and keep them on line longer. Quite possible/fairly likely.

    But EVs won't cause us to build more coal. New coal is too expensive, the price of fuel is rising and the quality of fuel is decreasing.

    Don't forget to factor in each mile driven with "44% coal"-produced electricity eliminates a mile driven with 100% petroleum.

    Short term, some more coal burning but offset by less petroleum burning.

    Longer term, coal is a dead man walking (to steal a phrase from Deutsche Bank).

    The marginal additional supply for electricity to recharge EVs will be largely coal, second NG and last renewables. This is the marginal supply between a free market approach to EVs and subsidizing them.

    We should not outlaw EVs, but put *ALL* of our effort into better solutions than EVs until those solutions are saturated.

    And reducing VMT is a better strategy than converting BAU to EVs IMO.


    PS: I asked for links to some specific claims. Failure to provide them invalidates your claims and reduces your credibility on other claims. Long standing TOD tradition that has been underused lately.

    New coal is too expensive, the price of fuel is rising and the quality of fuel is decreasing.

    Not nearly enough to stop new coal plants from being built. Not nearly enough. Pres. Perry will stamp "Approved" on every application that comes in.


    You might get an answer to your question by looking at how much of a "reduction" has been accomplished in reducing GHG emissions since the issue has been identified.

    Zilch... We haven't even cut the rate of growth, let alone reduced the emissions. In fact, if you look closely, the rate of growth is actually increasing.


    Let me give you a spin on that:

    There are a severe lag factor in the climate system; the oceans. It takes 30 years or so for them to catch up with climate change because it takes so much time to store up all that heat. That means that if we stop emitting all together today, we have 30 more years of climate change in store. (TEchnically those 30 years of changes will be smeared out over a much longer period, but add up to the sumof 30year of CC).

    So I say that we ALREADY have emitted enough CO2 to tip all tipping points over. If we want to do something, we need not to reduce our emsions, but to start reducing CO2 concentrations, we need to start clearing the air of the gas. Anything less than negative emissions are "doing nothing".

    Northern Africa's forests were pillaged to make navies. The forests were cut down. The land was over-farmed centuries ago -- long long ago. Desertification set in and the rest is history. Texas is become a desert in the same way today. It is human activity.


    I think we would both agree that the collapse started some years ago. What concerns me is that it will be a chaotic collapse. There will be no overarching new paradigms to cushion it. Rather, it will probably be either anarchic or, perhaps, some kind of quasi-form of dictatorship with some winners and lots of losers. The lucky losers will be serfs.

    Further, the vast majority of people will be blindsided when their current beliefs (and I'd add, skill-sets) are found to be not only wrong but useless. The US and the world had a chance to start to transition a generation ago and blew it.

    As you and most TODers know, I'm a doomer but that does not mean I'm depressed. Rather, I recognize that the future will be vastly different than the world I grew up in and I accept that.

    Todd; A Realist (haven't used that tag for a long time)

    The US is slipping from the number one spot it held for half a century.

    In the past other countries have had their time at the top - Egypt, China, India, Portugal, Spain, England, to name a few.

    I suppose if you are looking very locally you might imagine that the world is in a state of collapse, but if you take a world view your opinion is not supported. Quality of life is increasing in many parts of the world as it slips a bit in the US.

    The world is coming up against the problem of no more cheap oil, but we've started developing the replacement technologies. As the price of oil increases our efforts to produce alternatives will speed up.

    Can we manage the transition? I think so. Probably not without a big helping of human suffering and misery, humans aren't very good about taking preventative action.

    But we are pretty good at bailing once it's clear that we're just about to sink.

    Todd and Ron,

    From another doomer of sorts (moi), a question: what do you make of John Michael Greer's take on "the end of the industrial age" in his 2008 book THE LONG DESCENT? Of the recent theories of societal crisis and collapse (LIMITS TO GROWTH, Catton, Tainter, Heinberg, Kunstler, Diamond, et al.), Greer's seems different, if not exactly unique. As you may know, he foresees a protracted transition to a sustainable (post-carbon, post-industrial) future, rather than a quick and calamitous collapse. Greer tries to navigate between what he regards as equally implausible notions of civilization's progressing infinitely into the future and its sudden, apocalyptic collapse. His arguments are not entirely compelling to me (despite his theory of "catabolic collapse"): the decline of the industrial age will, it seems likely to me, be less gradual than he imagines. Nonetheless, Greer's book is interesting to me, if only because it is one of the few of its kind that explicitly and at length addresses the mythic or ideological (or paradigmatic) causes of people's inability to plan for, confront, or even conceive of the coming crisis or collapse.

    Just wondered if you've read Greer's book and if you have any reactions to it--or to the notion of a more gradual or protracted decline.

    Beingtime, everything from here on out is just a guess. But I am guessing that Greer is half wrong and half right on this point. I think we will see a collapse in steps, just like he predicts. We had the first step down in late 2008. The next step down is beginning right now I think. The third leg down will likely happen about 2014, give or take a year or so. Then the fourth leg down is when we will hit the tipping point, everything will collapse.

    Go here: Complete English translation of German military analysis of peak oil now available Then near the bottom of this page you will see this line: Download the English version of the report here. Sorry but my PDF Viewer does not give me the PDF address. Anyway go to page 56 and read "3.2 The Systemic Risk of Exceeding the Tipping Point"

    The tipping point is the point where everything goes to hell. It is my guess that this will be around 2017, right in the middle of the fourth leg down. I believe everything will collapse completely about this time. There will be nothing gradual about it, it will be sudden total and complete collapse.

    But again that is just my Wild A$$ Guess.

    Ron P.

    Thanks very much for your take on this, Ron. And thanks very much for your reference to the German military analysis of peak oil. I'll follow up your leads. Your guess about the future is not just any old wild a$$ guess. It's an educated wild a$$ guess!

    Ron, I downloaded the English translation of the German military's analysis of peak oil and read, to begin with, section 3.2 "The Systemic Risk of Exceeding the Tipping Point." Very interesting. John Greer's "catabolic" collapse up to a point, perhaps, and then kaboom! As you put it, "everything goes to hell."

    Anyway go to page 56 and read "3.2 The Systemic Risk of Exceeding the Tipping Point"

    For those who are interested, here is an excerpt: (apologies for the length, see original document for references)

    The overall production of conventional and unconventional oil would decline.

    1. Peak oil would occur and it would not be possible, at least in the foreseeable future [153], to entirely compensate for the decline in the production of conventional oil with unconventional oil or other energy and raw material sources. The expression “foreseeable” is very important in this context. Ultimately, it leads to a loss of confidence in markets.

    In the short term, the global economy would respond proportionally to the decline in oil supply. [154]

    1. Increasing oil prices would reduce consumption and economic output. This would lead to recessions.
    2. The increase in transportation costs would cause the prices of all traded goods to rise. [155] Trade volumes would decrease. For some actors, this would only mean losing sources of income, whereas others would no longer be able to afford essential food products.
    3. National budgets would be under extreme pressure. Expenditure for securing food supplies (increasing food import costs) or social spending (increasing unemployment rate) would compete with the necessary investments in oil substitutes and green tech. Revenues would decrease considerably as a result of recession and necessary tax reductions.

    In the medium term, the global economic system and all market-oriented economies would collapse.

    1. Economic entities would realise the prolonged contraction and would have to act on the assumption that the global economy would continue to shrink for a long time. [156]
    2. Tipping point: In an economy shrinking over an indefinite period, savings would not be invested because companies would not be making any profit. [157] For an indefinite period, companies would no longer be in a position to pay borrowing costs or to distribute profits to investors. The banking system, stock exchanges and financial markets could collapse altogether. [158]
    3. Financial markets are the backbone of global economy and an integral component of modern societies. All other subsystems have developed hand in hand with the economic system. A disintegration can therefore not be analysed based on today’s system. A completely new system state would materialise.

      Nevertheless, for illustration purposes here is an outline of some theoretically plausible consequences:

      • Banks left with no commercial basis. Banks would not be able to pay interest on deposits as they would not be able to find creditworthy companies, institutions or individuals. As a result, they would lose the basis for their business.
      • Loss of confidence in currencies. Belief in the value-preserving function of money would dwindle. This would initially result in hyperinflation and black markets, followed by a barter economy at the local level.
      • Collapse of value chains. The division of labour and its processes are based on the possibility of trade in intermediate products. It would be extremely difficult to conclude the necessary transactions lacking a monetary system.
      • Collapse of unpegged currency systems. If currencies lose their value in their country of origin, they can no longer be exchanged for foreign currencies. International value-added chains would collapse as well.
      • Mass unemployment. Modern societies are organised on a division-oflabour basis and have become increasingly differentiated in the course of their histories. Many professions are solely concerned with managing this high level of complexity and no longer have anything to do with the immediate production of consumer goods. The reduction in the complexity of economies that is implied here would result in a dramatic increase in unemployment in all modern societies.
      • National bankruptcies. In the situation described, state revenues would evaporate. (New) debt options would be very limited, and the next step would be national bankruptcies.
      • Collapse of critical infrastructures. Neither material nor financial resources would suffice to maintain existing infrastructures. Infrastructure interdependences, both internal and external with regard to other subsystems, would worsen the situation.
      • Famines. Ultimately, production and distribution of food in sufficient quantities would become challenging.

    The developments shown here make it clear that it is essential to secure the supply of energy to the economic cycle in sufficient quantities to enable positive economic growth. A contraction in economic activity over an indefinite period of time represents a highly unstable state that will cause the system to collapse. It is hardly possible to estimate the security risks that such a development would involve.

    What they describe as "short term" is actually a pretty good description of what we've already witnessed since 2008, which would bring the "medium term" right to our doorstep, if it isn't already upon us.

    It remains to be seen how prescient this report is, but even if the theoretically plausible consequences are only half right that is still some seriously bad mojo.


    Its funny that the Germans would miss (at least in this excerpt)the almost certain radical political changes that would take place before this process went very far. Efforts to retain or increase previous standards of living can create very strong political movements.

    I think the Bundeswehr authors were stressing the point that financial markets will react (and even over-react, thus compounding the problem) very quickly.
    We may view the terms of political office (usually about 4 years) as short-term, but the response time of financial markets and the investment community can be measured in minutes.
    Your point about radical political changes is well taken, but those changes will be reactions to what is already past tense (though that may not diminish their eventual importance).
    Bottom line: political systems will respond to new developments, but financial markets will respond much more quickly and with greater effect.

    Actually, I think if you read between the lines they do speak to "radical political changes", even if it is only to say that no one can really predict how people will react to the sudden realization that they no longer have a future.

    A disintegration can therefore not be analysed based on today’s system. A completely new system state would materialise.

    In other words, once the economic system disintegrates then all bets are off.


    Hi Beingtime,

    I've had Greer's book for over a year and haven't read it and I have, and read, a lot of books. I think the reason is that I strongly disagree with his premise of catabolic collapse. I've read his blog stuff for a long time so I'm pretty familiar with his philosophy. But, I believe things will go down quickly. By this I mean within the next ten years at the longest but five years wouldn't surprise me.

    My own feeling is that there are too many feedback loops to have this, sort of, stair step decline over an extended period of time. I believe they will start to feed upon each other like a fire storm.

    Further, as I mentioned above, few people are even psychologically ready for BAU to go down the tubes; even over a somewhat protracted period of time. Just consider that the current SGS unemployment rate from Shadowstats - 22%. This is depression range unemployment yet people just keep believing the good times will come back much less consider that collapse is ongoing right now.

    I realize this isn't much of an answer but it's the best I can do without writing a book. If you want a weekly shot of gloom and doom as well as alternatives, I'd be glad to add you (or anyone else) to my weekly (usually) Update email list. If you are interested, email me at detz2 at willitsonline dot com. We all go on a real name basis so include yours not a handle.


    PS I do think his Green Wizards project is in the right direction.

    Hi Todd,

    Thanks very much for your response. I am happy to have your opinion, given that you are familiar with Greer's analysis. I'll email you, because I'd like to be on your more or less weekly update.

    beingtime (Dharman Rice)

    Population will always rise with food supply so it won't stop the suffering if we get rid of turning food to fuel for our cars and diverting grain feed stock from cattle to humans(even though the cattle should be allowed to graze like they evolved to do). it just means population will start to grow faster again till we reach this 'same' point a little later.

    "Population will always rise with food supply"

    People always say this, but it just isn't true, not even in any part of nature. There are always other factors that come into play. With humans, those factors are more complex. If you look at the list of countries with the highest birth rates, they are mostly countries with some of the lowest access to food, and conversely, most countries with low birth rates have very good access to food.

    Obviously we have to look very hard at population issues, but it does not help much to start with assumptions that are demonstrably false, or at least hugely over simplistic.

    What i stated was a fact of nature that applies to every living organism on this planet. When food supplies rise, so does the population that depends on it. when food supplies fall or when population rises to the point where they need 'more' then they got from the last rise in food supply, Starvation happens.
    those same countries you point out have had food aid given to them for several years. if population did not rise when food supplies rise then most of those same countries should not be on food aid now.

    If you can somehow prove that we are somehow different and not subject to rule by these same factors. then you should go get the Nobel prize in biology.

    And what I stated was a fact of nature. Food is never the only factor in the real world. There is predation, shortage of other resources, climate limits...And for humans, when it is known that food will be supplied, people eventually stop producing large quantities of offspring, especially when women are given some say in the matter.

    A population is controlled by it's biggest limiting factor. Which is usually food.

    What is clear is that making more food without finding or making another limit on population will not solve anything. It will in fact make things worse.

    A population is controlled by it's biggest limiting factor

    I think you have the tail wagging the dog. Virtually limitless food in Europe, America, Austrailia and they have the lowest birth rates in the world. The highest birthrates in the world occur in third world countries where there is very limited food and water. The excact opposite of what you are saying.

    Everyone tries to equate the poplutaion explosion to the availibility of food supply but I really think this is backwards. I think any population (bird, animal plant, insect whatever you like) given the resource to grow exponentially would do so. In our case technology was used to keep up with that demand for food.


    Well, I was only speaking generally. Throw in intelligence and societal pressure and you get all sorts of weird things happening. Also 3rd world countries are big places. You can easily have massive growth in one area hiding total deprivation and die-off in another when looking just at the country level. Those 3rd world countries must by definition be getting enough food "generally" to grow their populations, otherwise they are defying physics.

    The point still remains that food is a limiting factor. If the green revolution had not happened, we would not have the population we have today. There would not be the food to make it so.

    Everyone tries to equate the population explosion to the availibility of food supply but I really think this is backwards. I think any population (bird, animal plant, insect whatever you like) given the resource to grow exponentially would do so. In our case technology was used to keep up with that demand for food.

    You just agreed with me here. A population grows until it meets a limiting factor.

    "Population will always rise with food supply"

    That is simply not true. If we look at birth rates in the best fed parts of the world most have dropped to or below replacement rates.

    Population growth is most common where women have less power over their lives and education about reproduction and methodology for birth control is most restricted.

    By the time socio-economic conditions advance to the point where women are well-educated and have access to birth control, you have a developed country. And each person in a developed country uses several times the resources of a person in an impoverished country. The problem with population levels is about "per capita" just as much it is about the numbers of "capita".

    If we look at birth rates in the best fed parts of the world most have dropped to or below replacement rates.

    But what we also see is the total biomass of humanity increasing. It is the biomass devoted to humanity (including pets and ornamental plants) that counts, not raw numbers of persons. [Hint: look at the obesity problem]

    OK, girth goes up with food availability.

    But population size is not related.

    (Leaving off the most extreme end of the distribution. Certainly in the very worst places/situations people are dying of starvation, but that was not the original point.)

    But population size is not related.


    Let me try it this way. Our footprint should be calculated using biomass, not head counts.

    Yep, that is the bottom line.

    "Population will always rise with food supply"

    That is simply not true.

    ...its not as if this hasn't been studied, and simply saying "its not true" establishes nothing. Hopfenberg is the best place to start - a good primer is http://growthmadness.org/2007/05/03/special-guest-dr-russell-hopfenberg-...

    but if you google Hopfenberg population study, there's some pretty large pdf files available with all the data.

    A caveat - and agreeing with the second part of your statement - is that if women are educated and given the opportunity to participate in society in a role other than as childbearer, then birthrates fall and population growth decouples from food supply.

    Its hard to be optimistic about the sustainability of education in a low-energy future. Even in our present time of relative wealth and ease, the cracks in the US education system are spreading and widening.

    "it won't stop the suffering if we get rid of turning food to fuel for our cars"

    No, but it may stop clueless consumers from dragging their fat asses around in luxury dump trucks for no good reason while others die of starvation as a result. Population may well rise with available food, there's little we can do about it, or the eventual suffering that will come with falling production. However there really is no argument for inducing the suffering early by tipping food into machines instead of humans.

    Burgundy I couldn't agree with you more, tipping food into machines instead of Humans is stupid, but will it make any difference, the distribution of food is determined by who can pay for it, the poor of this world certainly can't, the result, the riots in Egypt is an example of this.If the American Government were too pass a law tomorrow outlawing the production of ethanol, I suspect that all that extra grain that came onto the market would end up in the bellies of Chinese pigs and in expanding feed lots in the Mid West.

    Feeding the world is more complex than just turning food into fuel and eating too high on the food chain.

    Food waste is a serious problem. Africa grows huge amounts of food that are never eaten because Africa is short of refrigeration and transportation ability. Infrastructure improvement could solve much of the problem.

    Climate change is a part of the problem and likely to become a larger part. As historically dry regions become too dry to support their populations of herders and dry dirt farmers these people are going to have to move elsewhere. Relocation is a difficult problem in an already crowded world.

    Rising ocean levels means a loss of valuable croplands due to salt infusion. Flooding is wiping out extremely valuable bottom lands, some of our most productive fields. Look for large parts of the California Delta to disappear as increased pressure from higher waters destroys the levees.

    I'm unclear on all this "end of growth" stuff. Our huge corporate profits are fueled by large growth, our 'daily bread' is not.

    If we start living smarter, growing and distributing our food smarter we can feed the world. We've got enough arable land and we've got more harvestable energy than we can possibly use from wind, sun, tidal, etc. sources.

    What we need is a refocus on how to provide ourselves with comfortable lives by working with the natural world rather than extracting fossil fuels to use in combating the natural world.

    Food waste is a serious problem. Africa grows huge amounts of food that are never eaten because Africa is short of refrigeration and transportation ability. Infrastructure improvement could solve much of the problem.

    The end result of removing food waste would be a population boom. this would again result in famine later when the new higher population lacks the needed amount of food to live.


    If you want to control population growth then provide education and opportunity for women.

    If you want to argue that having ample food causes populations to boom then please explain why the population of Japan is falling. Same for several European countries, none of which are food-stressed.

    Even in the US, the birth rate is below replacement level for those who have been in the country for more than just a few years. Our large families are mostly recent immigrants.

    Look at the chart of fertility by country on this page...


    Look down toward the bottom of the chart at the countries which have the lowest fertility rates and you'll find the best fed countries. Somewhere around 2.1 rates are considered 'replacement' - the level which keep population counts from falling.

    The population in Japan is falling because they have a basically zero immigration policy which they can enforce since it is an island nation.

    I think food has a lot to do with this policy and with the falling population. Food cannot be grown here competitively against huge flat places like Austrailia, the US, Brazil, Russia. Flat large places can use huge combines. But here there are only tiny fields and lots of mountains. So tiny combines can be used. It isn't worth it to grow food here. It is cheaper to buy it from abroad----but due to 20 years of difficult economic times (due to peak oil) it is getting more and more difficult to afford food.

    The government basically understands the problem, and I think that is one reason they have had a zero immigration policy....because the situation would just be even worse with more people to feed.

    Noone wants to be a farmer either.

    The population of Japan is dropping because they are not breeding at a replacement rate.

    The Japanese are (comparatively) rich. They can buy all the food they want. Look at what they are willing to pay for blue fin tuna.

    A low food supply is not what is causing Japan's fertility rate to drop.

    Why are populations dropping in places where there is plenty of food (and access to birth control)?

    I suspect because people feel crowded. Now that I can't prove, but it happens with animals like rats when you put them in fixed spaces with plenty of food and let them freely breed. They increase their populations until they reach a state of 'crowding' and then birth rates fall. Even when there's more than enough food supplied.

    Don't forget, we're animals too.

    Japan's immigration laws? It's a racial/cultural purity thing.

    Just ask people who were born in Japan but have Korean heritage.

    My guess is that Japan will let in enough temporary foreign workers to help them past the older population bulge and then let their population drop to and stabilize at a much lower level. They'll likely end up with a very enjoyable lifestyle with lots of open space to enjoy while much of the rest of the world crowds tightly together....

    Population can decrease in some regions and increase in others while the total population continues increasing. pi answered you question: resource constraints in Japan due to overpopulation. Those who multiply fruitfully will always grow to out number those who do not. Within developed countries, there are people who have no children and families who have many. It matters not if the U.S. stops using corn to make fuel. Africans do not have the money to buy the liberated corn that would have to be transported to them using expensive, dwindling fuel. Africa would have to be industrialized, like is happening in China, with a corresponding increase in resource consumption and pollution to create the wealth. The ideas that educating woman or feeding everyone would halt population growth is ideological and incorrect. Resource constraints can manifest in a variety of ways including starvation, declining population or a declining standard of living. Developed countries trade children for material consumption. The desire to procreate will outlast material prosperity.

    Why do you think there is no hunger in developed countries?

    The world hunger problem: Facts, figures and statistics

    The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving.

    One out of every eight children under the age of twelve in the U.S. goes to bed hungry every night.

    America's hunger problem moves beyond starvation , Nov. 22, 2010.

    If there is an amply food supply, then population will increase.

    If there is insufficient food to sustain the population, then population will decrease.

    You think there can be ample food and a static or declining population. It is possible in a subset but not in the entire population.

    Japan during the Edo period 1603-1856 was a very stable period in Japanese history. I wont go into the reasons why. The reason we have falling birth rates in the west and other rich countries, has nothing too do with the amount of food available, It is that child maintenance cost are so high that we cannot afford more than two, and in many cases only one.

    The reason we have falling birth rates in the west and other rich countries, has nothing too do with the amount of food available, It is that child maintenance cost are so high that we cannot afford more than two, and in many cases only one.

    Indeed. I think that we are oversimplifying the problem here. For all animals except humans, the only resources they require are a food supply and a suitable habitat- and they cannot survive outside that habitat and it's associated food supply. Humans, on the other hand, can survive anywhere, with the input of enough resources- which we may take from anywhere on the planet, an advantage we alone posess. Food is not the limiting factor for humans, so the analogy does not work.

    The question is why we spend so much of our money to support our western lifestyle rather than live in tents and have families of 6 children.

    Maybe because my single child in Toronto allows me to access world class medical services, clean water, sewage treatment, etc. and still leave enough left over for food that I am 10 pounds overweight. My 86 year old dad is still driving and using his share of those services. There comes a point where we think selfishly and are more concerned with maximizing our lifespan than with biological imperatives like maximizing the herd, especially when the herd is obviously plenty big enough already.

    We are an unusual species, and we are writing our own rules.


    If you take the current world grain production and divide it by 9 billion, you get enough food for everyone (that is assuming everyone is a vegetarian and does not waste food)

    That's interesting. Got the numbers at hand?

    If you're roughly right then we can put the "massive die-off" stuff to bed. By the time the population gets to 9 billion we should have improved our agricultural systems enough to give folks some meat along with their bread.

    The thing that might challenge that is climate change wiping out a lot of our crops/farmland.

    And we do need to deal with getting food to where the people are or people to where the food is. Some parts of the globe are becoming unusable for food production.

    I got a reference here


    See the per capita production . Even a level of 270-300 kg/year is considered adequate for nutrition so it roughly works out, sadly in the real world nothing works out the way we want.

    Written by Bob Wallace:
    .... improved our agricultural systems enough to give folks some meat along with their bread.

    The word "give" belies your ideology and demonstrates where it breaks down. To give food means that you must take something from someone else. Those having the fruits of their labor forced from them do not respond kindly. The food supply would decrease under you communism.

    This is nonsense. I recommend you stop focusing so much on others' choice of words, and strive to understand the meaning behind the words.

    Come on, "give" is shorthand for "permit people to purchase". Give opportunity.

    Take off your ideological blinders that leave you suspecting a commie under every bed.

    Meat is part of the comprehensive food solution
    Grain properly used as energy supplement (especially in cold climate) to ruminant animals who are able to convert roughage (grass and other indigestible cellulose residue) into meat. Ever hear about 'slopping the pigs', Range reared chickens? These are examples of food utilization by farm animals that is not suitable for humans. Is good to be critical of grain intensive meat production and excessive consumption of meat but deleting meat from diet results in net loss of nutrition.

    Uh, those assumptions are invalid. I'm not a vegetarian and I do waste food. Probably there are others, too.

    And he didn't seem to think it was a problem that we are using agricultural land for chocolate, ice cream, sugar, daily products, or those other things Nestle uses or produces

    If we produce more food, then we will get more people.

    Try to stop being so absolutist. What you said is true only if women have no other means of investing for their futures.

    Women with choices have fewer children. To the point, now, that in "advanced" countries the population is starting to fall.

    "Women with choices have fewer children."

    Perhaps a little absolutist as well. You assume that women (and men of course) are all programed the same. I know folks like this who simply refuse to choose, some perfectly comfortable in their indecision or ignorance. Take your choice.

    Resource growth. Nope
    Energy growth. Nope
    capital growth. Nope.
    Keynsian ecomomics. Nope.

    You would think some politician / economist somewhere would have looked this up in a book somewhere.

    Goodbye Europe. It was nice knowing you.

    Stock markets hit hard by fresh recession and eurozone debt fears
    • FTSE 100 closes down 3.5%
    • Germany's Dax loses 5% and France's CAC down 4%
    • Merkel regional election defeat sparks eurozone debt fears

    Should be an interesting day on the stock casino market tomorrow....


    Yeah, we're going to need one hell of a big QE3 to keep the global collapse at bay for another few months. Wonder how many trillions they're thinking of? What comes after trillions? Is Intel going to produce a new chip for the Fed that can deal with numbers longer than an express train?

    I see the Teleprompter is talking about building roads and bridges along similar lines as the Japanese tried to stimulate their dying economy. Looks like the US can look forward to a mega natural event followed by nuclear plant blowing up sometime in the future if the Japanese path to destruction is any guide.

    There will be no QE3, there's too much inflation already

    I think there might well be some more QE. It really hasn't caused a lot of inflation. It's not Weimar. Basically, it's keeping interest rates low. Politically, it's become more difficult, but if things get bad enough - if they want to keep interest rates low to help the economy - I could see more QE.

    Be interesting to see if gold breaks 2K$ this week, might even do it tomorrow.

    I gotta dig out that old wedding ring and grab my cash.

    This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to fleece the suckers....

    This whole mess we have been going through for the last three years was created with a pen.

    It can be solved with the pen too.

    At the time Bernake was hocking up fed rate increases at the end of Bush's term of office in 2008, I get the idea Bernake had a jr high schooler's knowledge of "strength of materials", in the engineering sense. A jr high schooler would probably not be able to tell you the shear strength of a bolt or how much weight you could place on a girder before it would deform. I get the strong idea Bernake, coming from a background where paying a bill was no problem, had any idea how stretched out the borrowing public was, and with nothing more than a Princeton education, and no personal experience, hocked up into the microphones placed before him the rate hikes that would bring the banking industry to a halt when the populace could not pay back the amounts demanded.

    I now see people sitting on hordes of cash. Only thing needed is legislation to alter tax law to reward job creation and penalize hoarding. But, for now, there are certain high paid people making lots of cash by simply owning, not doing. When this thing gets bad enough, politicians will be forced, by replacement via the ballot box, to initiate legislation that will allow the productive labor of America to proceed.

    My fear is the cost of providing Bernake empirical knowledge of what happens when people can't afford to pay their mortgages has decimated the energy industry. Existing energy sources are quite cheap, and a crashing economy encourages us to deplete what we have while not investing the resources to develop for the future.

    This whole mess ... was created with a pen.
    It can be solved with the pen


    I feel your pain.

    If only it were true that this mess can be solved with the stroke of a pen.

    But it can't because the real mess lies in the messed up ideas that most people have etched into their brains. Those cannot be cleaned up (corrected) quickly and with merely the stroke of a pen.

    You touched on too many of complicated issues: what is money (what is cash), what is inside Ben Bernanke's head, does he fully appreciate the pain of the blue collar working class, does he have a working man's sense of what a metal bolt is and how it can snap, etc.

    Those are the kinds of questions that many here at TOD have been grappling with for a long time. Often times, even we, with our superior TOD molded brains, do not have answers. We are just trying to understand what the right questions are to ask in the first place.

    The problem with QE is that the money cycle is short and fast -- they need it to loop through the full economy, not just banks.

    I suspect protectionism will be coming soon, though I'd rather see a gov't-backed mortgage refi program first. Low interest rates do little good if nobody has them on their loans.

    It really hasn't caused a lot of inflation

    That's because most of the inflation in the western world is exported to emerging economies. BRIC's have been running an average of 8-10% inflation since stimulus packages began.

    China exports goods made from its cheap labor. India, it's services again made with cheap labor and the US exports inflation to others as that is what it produces (at no cost at all).

    That's not going to be a compelling consideration, I'm afraid.

    Also, 8-10% really isn't that bad. It's been much, much worse in the past.

    Should be an interesting day on the stock casino market tomorrow....

    Heinberg suggested in a podcast (link below) with Kunstler that he expects some big financial market drop this month or in October due to EU debt problems.


    Wasn't sure where he was getting that from until yesterday when Merkel's party lost another election due to their past willingness to bail out weaker EU countries, signalling Germans are no longer willing to go that direction. That sort of is the tale of the tape. If Germany opts out of financially assisting with more loans, then Euro debts go belly up and the markets tank.

    And from another article I read (can't find link now), this drop in markets and effect on world economy will be much worse than in 08/09.

    Look at premarket and this is 12 hours before markets open: http://money.cnn.com/data/premarket/
    Dow figures to go down 284 pts.

    Happy Labor Day!

    Europe has survived the Black Death, the Holocaust, two World Wars and more.

    This is nothing compared to that. The situation for the non-oiled Middle East is far more alarmic, or for large parts of Asia like Bangladesh, Pakistan and pockets of Latin America.

    Europe as a behemoth is over, and has been for quite some time. But thinking that Europe is 'finished' because of stock falls or whatnot is simply ignorance. And Eurpe has the capacity to weather Peak Oil far better than just about any other region in the world save oil producers(Don't count on the Middle East to scrape by, the Saudis will give their oil to the highest bidder, not their neighbours).

    As for the QE debate: of course there will be more QE. Inflation eats away at the debt, but it erodes savings. Paul Krugman and Ken Rogoff, not exactly kindred spirits, have both called for 'moderate inflation'(in the 4-6 % range) to deal with the debt.

    Ben Bernanke himself in a 2000 paper on Japan called for inflation to be used to deal with their debt. QE adds some inflation but it's not that bad. It can and will stimulate the economy and adding inflation is a bonus. There is some effect generally on commodity prices but I have a hard time seeing it being more than 10-15 % at it's peak.

    Also, 2012 is an election year, which is a dynamic in of itself. Obama will unlikely just look on the deteriorating situation with his arms folded. Then again, the man folds like a cheap suit time and time again in the face of republican opposition and has even adopted many of their talking points for reasons that go beyond me. Perhaps he is a DINO(Democrat in name only)?

    Nontheless, QE3 will come. And I would surprised not to see QE 4 and 5 over the next 3 years too.

    Folds like a cheap suit or is a skilled practitioner of "rope-a-dope"?

    (I don't know the answer, but we're going to find out over the next few months. It looks like Obama could be skilled at taking issues away from his opponents. He didn't fold when it came to the Somali pirates and bin Laden.)

    Are you a paid Obama poster? Bin Laden was dead long ago. Obama made theater.

    Obama = Hoover


    Are you being intentionally dense?

    Are you a paid Obama poster? Bin Laden was dead long ago. Obama made theater.

    And we are off into conspiracy theory land.

    What happened to Oildrum? The site went whacky and databased crashed -- combined with a lot of Climate change and opposing anti-science rhetoric with little substance on a thread on Alaska. Now we have the political stuff and conspiracy theories.

    The oildrum was close to hitting a tipping point on quality.

    People there is the near term, the medium term, and the long term. I think we need to think about these issue and approach the problems based on the time frame and our relative ages. I think we all have different perspectives because of age, region/location, and background, but no one is a political operative working for some politician. LOL. Please.

    I know for a fact Dick Cheney killed him with his light saber. I saw it on Fox news. Or was it National Enquirer?

    Pair claim they can make ammonia to fuel cars for just 20 cents per liter

    ... Cars already on the road can use ammonia as an additive without modification (up to 10%) and flex cars could be, according to Fleming, easily modified to use ammonia in conjunction with ethanol, allowing for a mixture of 85% ammonia.

    Drum Beat Items # 4 and #5:

    #4 Charter rates driving oil tanker groups bankrupt

    #5 Supertanker owners stand to benefit in scramble to fill oil gap

    Ummm...so which one is it?

    I'm waiting to see the "New supertankers with ice-hardened bows being built" article.

    The Northwest Passage opened a couple weeks ago. That's the fifth year in a row.

    The Northern (Northeast) Passage opened much earlier and fuel tankers have been taking the shorter route from Europe to Asia.

    The Russians have just ordered six new icebreakers. Based on the current quality of ice the Northern Passage is probably usable four months out of the year with an icebreaker escort on each end of the season. Look for that to quickly extend to six months.

    Present reports from the ice pack tell a story of typical ice thicknesses of less than one meter. And it's soft/rotten ice, the USCG Healy is cruising through it. A tanker with a hardened bow could plow through the slush puppy Arctic unescorted.

    Kurdistan condemns draft Iraq oil law

    "The presidency of the Kurdistan region condemns this manoeuvre and calls on the council of minister to withdraw the draft immediately, because it contradicts the constitution," it said in a statement.

    "We call on the speaker of parliament to reject the draft law submitted by the council of ministers and to continue the current legislative path, taking into consideration any proposed amendments by all parties, including the reservations of the Kurdistan alliance," it said.


    It doesn't look like the new draft of the Iraqi oil Gas & Oil law is likely to pass anytime soon..


    More BS regarding the export numbers:

    US oil exports hit a record high:


    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, American exports of crude oil and refined petroleum products are higher than they’ve ever been. In April of this year, oil companies sold nearly three million barrels overseas—which was double the amount sold four years earlier (April 2007).

    Elaborate, please.

    There have been a number of recent stories focusing on exports from the US of petroleum products (and the US is now a net exporter of petroleum products), with the implication being that we are an overall net oil exporter, which of course is false. The US is reliant on imported crude oil for two out of every three barrels of oil that we process in US refineries, and we are still the largest net oil importer. Note that the US became a net oil importer in 1948, 22 years before US production even peaked.

    While US exports of crude oil are still very low, a combination of lower product imports and greater product exports has 'flipped' the US trade balance from being an net importer of oil products to a net exporter this last year.

    Among the many reasons this has happened, in no specific order, are less imports from Canada of gasoline (mostly caused by refiner maintenance), less gasoline imports from Europe (which are now going elsewhere mostly to South America and soon to Libya), and higher gasoline exports to Mexico and Brazil. Much the same thing is happening to diesel, excepting the surge in diesel exports is mostly for Brazil.

    "Note that the US became a net oil importer in 1948, 22 years before US production even peaked."

    Are you sure it's 1948? I had it as 1949. It's important to me, because I am writing a book and I have this noted in there. If it's 1948, do you have a source? I need a reference to replace my 1949 reference. Thanks.

    The big issue here is the difference between Crude petroleum imports of roughly 9 million barrels per day, vs. petroleum Product exports, aka refinery output of gasoline, Diesel fuel, etc., of 3 to 4 million barrels per month. So we have two big differences, crude oil vs. refined products, and bbls per month vs. bbls per day.

    Note that the net import/export number takes into account both gross exports and gross imports.

    Net imports/exports = Domestic production less domestic consumption (total petroleum liquids)

    Graphical summary of US data, from 1949 to 2009:


    Noda Tells Wary Japanese That Atomic Power Needed to Save Nation's Economy

    If this is not the height of human stupidity I don't know what is. "We just had several nuclear reactors literally blow up in our face, severely harming our economy, threatening our largest city, and creating a no-go zone that will have to be abandoned for generations. The conditions that caused the disaster, and could cause another - severe earthquakes and tsunami - are common throughout our country. But our economy needs nuclear!"

    As for Japan's economy - it's been in the toilet for 20 years now. I can't see how a few nukes will make it much better or worse. 80% of Japan's reactors are shut down right now, yet Japan doesn't seem to be in any worse shape for it. If it is... They can shut down some vending machines and make up the difference. Really. Or maybe the turn off some lights in the "electric towns". I can't see what they'll use the electricity for if they even had it. If the truth of the economy is that we must have more, more, more forever or it fails, it's going to fail.

    This is truly a "in order to save the village, we have to burn it" moment. The question is whether the public - which is now pretty anti-nuclear - will resist his policy, or whether they will lull themselves back into a false sense of security about nuclear power (with the third choice of the government just ignoring the public entirely).

    After Japan suffered meltdowns in three reactors, and contaminated about 10% of their farmland, the new PM still thinks the country needs nuclear power?

    Wow! He must be as dumb as...... Obama?

    Or he understands the peak oil predicament.

    Not sure how to contact the admins, but it appears that the frontpage has been hacked

    Posted by Anonymous on January 1, 1970 - 1:00am

    Comments disabled for this story | Permalink | PDF version

    I was trying to log on for the first time since Saturday, around 4pm Monday, and I was getting 'Access Denied' pages for about an hour.

    Something going on?

    (And I scrolled down a couple pages, and that 'anon' poster is in there several times..)

    Later you saw a "closed for maintanance" sign. Problem solved acceptably quickly. Would be fun to see the official story on this.

    Not hacked. Just a corrupt database, which is a not infrequent problem.

    Because of this, some comments have disappeared, and some users (the ones who have been here longest) cannot log in. They're working on fixing it.

    I've been following ice extent at the following link: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    And just as the ice minimum was approaching its annual lowest point between now and mid-september, which looked like it would equal or surpass the record setting year of 2007, the website was suddenly eliminated sometime yesterday in the wee hours of a National holiday.

    Hmm, guess DC couldn't take anymore bad news.

    And you are announcing this here on TOD because:

    A/ You hope that by telling us all about the arctic the oil-patchers here will stop looking for oil.
    B/ You hope that by telling us all about the arctic the oil-patchers here will stop looking for tar sands.
    C/ You hope that by telling us all about the arctic the oil-patchers here will stop looking for anything black in the ground really.
    D/ You hope that by telling us all about the arctic the oil-patchers here will stop looking for anything in the arctic.

    If not A-D then why announce the above here? I am genuinely intereested to know what possible funtion on the oil drum debating this could have?

    Here is where humanity is currently at: The AGW movement is now so dwarfed by other issues that it is efectively sunk. It will remain nothing more that the annoying buzzing sound in our ears every day with governments doing nothing or very little of any great consequence. Humanity will now dig up everything they can that burns.
    We are now on the long slippery slope into a disintegrating global society that is running out of energy, resource and capital.

    Don't misunderstand me. I'm all for moving away from hydocarbon. Very good energy efficiency in house, cycle to work etc...All the usual stuff but as I pointed out before 75% of the globe is moving the other way to be more developed and consume more.


    Climate change is on topic here for a variety of reasons, most especially governments' response to it. I just ask that debates over whether it's happening or not be taken elsewhere, because we've reached the point where it's just not productive to continue that debate.

    In which case I would put his point fully in the 'whether or not it is happening' box ergo it shouldn't be here IMO. That is why arctic ice extent is debated; because we are looking to see if warming is happening there within or outwith the limits set by natural variability ie is it AGW or not.

    most especially governments' response to it.

    Which has been and will continue to be at best token with a zero effect outcome.

    As a side note. the AGW aspect must bring a lot more traffic here so that has to be a plus side in speading energy awareness to those climate aware debatists who are not yet up to speed on 'oil' (crude description I know, pun intended!!!!!).


    I think it's in the "it is happening" box, and that's fine. One of the reasons it's on topic is that preparing for a changing climate is very much of interest here. What's going to happen and when, rather than whether it's human-caused or not.

    You sure it's not just technical difficulties?

    As you note, it was a holiday weekend. Maybe it's a glitch, and no one was around to fix it.

    There's a message up now saying

    We're experiencing technical difficulties. Please bear with us, we'll have things up and running again as soon as possible.

    this AM

    We're experiencing technical difficulties. Please bear with us, we'll have things up and running again as soon as possible.
    Need to talk to us? You can always contact our friendly User Services Office at nsidc@nsidc.org or + 1 303.492.6199.

    The Swiss devalued their currency


    Gold in Francs went from 1497 to 1620 in about 60 seconds. We are now living in the twilight zone, similar to the Event Horizon. The laws of economics no longer matter here.
    Also this is a green signal to all those who believe that a hyperinflation is the more likely outcome.

    I thought I was hallucinating when I saw the intra-day % change in Swiss Franc Exchange rates go past on CNBC.

    The Swiss Central Bank announced that they will not allow Euro to fall below 1.20 and they will buy Euro in unlimited quantity to maintain the peg. Folks, this is what competitive devaluation looks like as all paper currencies join the race to the bottom. Nobody wants their exports or economy to suffer. Eventually all countries will suffer from high inflation (it doesn't have to be dramatic like Weimar Germany). There is no safe haven in any paper currencies.

    If real inflation is 18%, your money will lose half of its purchasing power every 4 years. Stay 100% in cash and you will soon join the bread lines.

    Either buy gold, hard assets, or paper assets backed by hard assets or get impoverished.

    There are some of us who, through a combination of health catastrophe and subsequent medical bills, followed by unemployment, are already well and truly impoverished. Talk of where to put one's money sounds a bit wistful to us...

    To those of you with assets, I wish you the best of luck in deploying them.

    Yes. It must be nice to have 'white people problems'

    Just want you to know you're not the only one on TOD who has trouble making ends meet.


    Not sure why you have to be so vicious or bring race into it. I hope Leanan deletes your comment and my reply to it.

    I think you might have misinterpreted his post.

    Watch the video. You obviously need a laugh. I'm not sure how you could misconstrue anything I said as vicious.


    That was totally vicious! Awesome! Wicked!

    .. it made me blow my mango-wheatgrass juice right out my nose onto my blueblood-bluetooth-bluesplayer!

    It's not meant to be vicious or racist. Another way of saying it is "First world problems." Is that better?

    In Sweden we use the word "I-land" (industrilized land) and U-land (undeveloped land). Thanks to a famous gang of tv-comedians, we now have an expression "I-land problem". Like when there are to many remotes to the TV.


    This is in swedish but you will understand much of it anyway, if you are a westerner. "Dagens ilandsproblem" == "i-land problem of the day".

    Yes, I misunderstood what he was saying. My immediate reaction to what sgage said was sympathy and some guilt. I thought "ThisOne" was dismissive of sgage's problems and being very insensitive. I didn't watch the video. I did not have time to do that.

    some of us who, through a combination of health catastrophe and subsequent ... bills, followed by unemployment ...

    You're not alone.
    As if that has any consolation value.

    If you want to find people who care and have a heart, go to the mortgage officer at your lending institution. /end bitter sarcasm

    If things get as bad as the doomers are predicitng, and paper currencys drop to zero. Gold and other imagined hard assets are not worth anything either. Start buying lead, chickens, goats etc.

    This seems to be a ramp up, a major shot in an escalating currency war (also known as competitive devaluation). The US has devalued it's currency by way (mostly) of quantitative easing, and has been sparring with the Chinese for years over currency issues. With the Euro clearly in trouble, investors have moved into Swiss Francs as a safe haven.

    From last month: Swiss franc could be opening salvo in new currency war

    Marketplace Morning Report, Thursday, August 18, 2011

    The Swiss franc is now worth so much that it threatens Swiss jobs. The Swiss government wants to do something about it, but Switzerland isn't the only country looking at using its currency as a weapon.

    Steve Chiotakis: Economic woes of late have global money flowing to two stable and secure places -- gold and Switzerland. But the Swiss are tired of it. The Swiss franc is now so strong that people in other countries cannot afford Swiss goods, which is threatening Swiss jobs. So the government there is battling to devalue its currency.

    It seems the Swiss have had enough. Competitive devaluation was a major issue in the '30s, contributing to the severity of the Great Depression. I question those who say it can't happen again.

    It's funny that when times are good, everybody wants a strong currency so they can take trips and buy stuff. When times are hard, they want a cheaper currency so they can maintain exports.

    Not everybody can be a predominant exporter, which is why they like the US to be a penultimate consumer. Except that's not sustainable, unless they send us stuff for free. We're getting to the end of this gambit, and the transition to a new one will be hard on everybody.

    A Trip Through an Alternative ("Alice in Wonderland") Oil Price Reality on CNBC This Morning

    This morning, Joe Kernen and Peter Beutel were discussing oil prices, and Kernen noted that "oil prices" were well below $100, in contrast to many predictions to the contrary. Mike Jackson asked about the WTI/Brent price spread, and Beutel attributed the Brent price to traders, saying that the WTI price better reflected fundamental supply & demand factors. Of course, then why are the Alaska and Louisiana prices so high? I guess Beutel would say it's because they are dragged higher by the people trading the Brent price.

    Based on the Bloomberg links that Undertow provided, the average global closing spot crude oil price on Friday was about $114, excluding WTI. Brent was $112.48 on Friday. It's trading at about $111 this morning.

    It seems to me that where producers have access to global markets, the actual average spot price is in excess of $110, but that doesn't fit the narrative that they are presenting on CNBC.

    Edit: The 9:00 Eastern Time gang on CNBC is continuing with the "WTI Price is Right" theme. Cramer suggested that there should be an investigation as to why the price of gasoline has not fallen in tandem with the decline in WTI.

    This really is an "Alice in Wonderland" moment. These guys are asserting that a landlocked oil price, which relates to about 5% of global crude oil production, is a more accurate indicator of global supply & demand factors than the price of numerous grades of crude oil that have access to global markets.

    Listen to it here: Trading Block

    The Beutel comments start at about 2:45 into the video. The Beutel comments are really unreal. You must listen to it to believe it. Beutel blames everything on "Ivy League traders". Unbelievable!

    where should oil be? i think it's probably headed to around, somewhere between 74 and 78 near term. where it should be longer term depends on all kinds of things but, i mean, long term and for the economy to move, to improve, i honestly think it should be under 50 and the startling truth of the matter s-we've never had an economic recovery with oil over $30. so, i'm not saying we're going under 30. but where does it really belong? well, before qe2, we had oil at 74. we had gasoline at 188.91 which is about 95, 90, 95 cents lower than where it is right now. so, i think that gasoline should be about 90 cents lower.

    Ron P.

    When WTI was $74 dollars in September 2010 before QE2, the spread with Brent averaged about $2 for the month compared to the current spread of almost $27 dollars.

    Why, oh why do they keep using the WTI price as the benchmark when, as I understand it, the majority of oil sells closer to the Brent benchmark?

    The global average crude oil price of about $114 (as of Friday) is in conflict with their view that the worst case for oil supplies is an "Undulating Plateau" many decades from now. So, they have to develop a theory to explain why a landlocked oil price, that is relevant to about 5% of global crude oil production, is the best indicator of global supply & demand factors. I suppose it's basically a good example of cognitive dissonance, but I call it CPSR (Cornucopian Primal Scream Response):


    Thank you. I thought as much.
    What a bunch of smug, hubristic, simians those participants are on that show. Every question and answer is delivered with a towel-flick to the butt Frat' house arrogance.
    Why does no one with a brain get on there and challenge them? I suppose they just keep it to a "boys club".

    "Why does no one with a brain get on there and challenge them?"

    My question is, why does anyone with a brain watch these shills for the BAU status quo? Manufacturing consent, they are.

    T Boone Pickens had a go at them a few weeks ago for their continued concentration on WTI which he called "irrelevant". They actually tried to cut short the interview but he was having none of it with "So don't you actually want to hear what I have to say."

    It is curious that we haven't seen Boone lately.

    Well he managed to squeeze in a peak oil comment as well last time. They'll have to be more careful or schedule him in the quiet hours in the middle of the night on CNBC Asia next time.

    I've had two inquiries from cable producers, one for MSNBC and one for CNBC, about possibly appearing on cable programs. After I sent them some of our work on net exports, they replied that they did not need me "at the present time." Of course, if I had their job, I probably wouldn't want myself on their programs.

    Is GE censuring MSNBC News Shows against competing Interests? Today T. Boone Pickens got cut off.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010
    Perhaps it is a good thing GE has sold NBC to Comcast because it will finally get GE out of the habit of cutting off news show guests on MSNBC who take positions opposed to the GE/NBC party line. For the second time in the past few weeks a guest on MSNBC Morning Joe Show was cut off mid-sentence while making a powerful point that was contrary to GE financial interests...

    To be fair, I've seen the same on CNN, though not as blatant. Fox generally doesn't invite guests (except a few debunkable plants) who would challenge their consent manufacturing process.

    Nate would likely advise against exposing one's self to media manipulation ;-)

    I wonder when, or if, we see a MSM outlet report that we have experienced flat to declining Global Net Exports (GNE) and a sharp decline in Available Net Exports (ANE) since 2005?

    I found this interesting:

    Libyan Convoy Heads For Niger Capital

    A large convoy of Libyan soldiers accompanied by Tuareg tribal fighters left the central Niger town of Agadez on Tuesday and drove toward the capital but it wasn't clear if Gadhafi family members were in the heavily armed group, the owner of a private newspaper said.

    Abdoulaye Harouna, owner of the Agadez Info newspaper, said he saw the group arrive Monday in several dozen pickup trucks. He said Tuesday morning that they were headed toward the capital, Niamey, a drive of some 600 miles. The capital is in Niger's southwestern corner near the nation of Burkina Faso, where toppled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been offered asylum.

    One would think that the situation in Niger is complicated enough, especially their ongoing oil production woes, sabotage, rebelion, environmental concerns, all that. Maybe the MoMan can help'em straighten things out ;-/

    Perhaps they'll keep moving into Burkina Faso and settle into a quiet retirement there.

    Ghung, are you thinking about Nigeria when you reference all those "ongoing oil production woes, sabotage, rebelion, environmental concerns"? Niger is a different country...

    E. Swanson

    Thanks, I stand corrected (the "Niger Delta" always gets me). I was reading an artcle about a Petronas exploration well coming in in Niger the other day (~ 2500 b/d, iirc) I'll see if I can find it. The Chinese seem to be poking a lot of holes in the desert there.


    The plan to increase tax revenue may not work out as well as expected. As far as the rich getting richer...from your govt bean counters as heard on NPR this weekend:

    For the period 2007 to 2009 the decrease in incomes:

    $200,000 to $1 million - decreased 13%
    $1 million to $10 million - decreased 39%
    > $10 million - decreased 55%

    Just guessing but maybe that's why unemployment shot up: folks writting the paychecks didn't have as much money in those accounts. Seems rather logical IMHO.

    Thanks for posting this. I believe I flipped to NPR just as the story was completing, and I had wondered about the numbers.

    Incomes is only part of the story, though. How about wealth, both in terms of dollars and in relative terms? The "feel" is that the gap is spreading as the poor and middle-class drop faster than the wealthy, and that investment wealth is centralizing. But I'd like to hear real numbers.

    Your "feel" is correct, I think. Because it's relative. A drop off of 55% of 20 million still leaves one well off beyond the imagining of any "normal" person, while a drop of only 5% from 20k can be pretty devastating for a family living paycheck to paycheck with expensive credit making up the difference.

    I once knew a guy who was a major stakeholder in a company that got butchered in the '01/'02 telecom crash. He lost over $100M of paper value in just a few days. He still had millions, but I bet it was still a pretty harsh blow psychologically.

    I think the bigger difference is debt -- debt is an obligation, and that skews choices and precludes some options. A person living day-to-day in heavy debt is much worse off than a person living day to day on cash. The latter person can do something different tomorrow. The former just does what he must and gets to work. A third person with a surplus and no debt has far more options, but also many decisions.

    My daughter waits tables but has no debt. If she wants concert tickets, she picks up a shift. She wants a new car, but doesn't want to add enough shifts to get one, so she doesn't. She goes to school part-time, taking what she wants. To me, she's not as focused as I'd like, and to her, she doesn't have as much stuff as she'd like, but really, she's better off than most people in the US today simply because she doesn't owe anybody much of anything. She has more options than I do!

    Exactly. Money may not be the root of all evil but debt certainly is.

    Paleo - And that's exactly the point I'm trying to make below. That guy may be sitting on $20 million fat and happy. I could care less...never been very envious of folks with more money than me. Can't explain why given I grew up dirt poor. But what concerns me is what that fellow does with the wealth he still has. Be nice if he plowed it back into a business that generated new jobs...jobs not being funded by tax payer monies. But between the normal risks associated with any enterprise he's going to take into account govt actions that work against his primary goal: making the best return he can. And if he can't figure out which way to go in the current climate for any number of reasons he may just sit on the sidelines and wait to see what happens. And from what I've read that's one of the biggest factors holding back any recovery: $trillions just sitting there unsure what the future will bring...or not bring. And somehow all the talk about taxing the heck out of profit makers probably doesn't encourage them to let loose much of that money at the moment.

    I don't see why anyone would deploy capital in today's environment unless they had Geitner on speed-dial. Their biggest potential competitors do. The fix is in, and if you're not on the short list you're just a sucker if you try to play the game.

    "If you're not on the guest list, you're probably on the menu."

    Think that out...

    You've got a million dollars sitting around not being productive.

    You could invest it in something that would create a bunch of new jobs and make you a bunch of money.

    Now if you had to pay out 15% in profit taxes vs. 10% in profit taxes you're going to leave that million sitting idle earning nothing? You're going to pass up good profits because they might be slightly less good?

    I don't think so.

    This 'taxes are killing job creation' stuff is a load of road apples. Taxes would only kill jobs if they removed all the investable capital from the system. And corporations are awash in cash.

    People should start questioning the right-wing talking points. Most are bunk.

    Every company has a list of opportunities for using cash, with rewards and risks accounted for each along with expenses, resource needs, and other application-specific items.

    A company can easily forego a promising investment because of uncertainty. Lower-risk, shorter-payback programs are currently the norm, even if long-term investing may have a better ROI on paper. Taxes hurt some, regulations hurt some more, but uncertainty and lack of markets hurt most. Like another poster said, if you are a leveraged business, hoarding cash to pay the rent next year is a perfectly understandable perspective, especially since business real-estate has yet to crash as hard as residential and has shorter terms (often with a balloon to refi at the end).

    All the business I know of personally, which is a short list, are doing fine TODAY, but are hiring slowly and everybody is working hard. Employees feel the angst and are happy to have their jobs, and the employers are happy to be putting back some cash. Some are providing bonuses this year to their hard-working employees, in appreciation of the hard work. Everybody is OK with fewer seats at the banquet table with another economic winter in the offing. Just because the harvest is good this year doesn't say much about next year.

    Employers (this is a generalization, exceptions always exist) are not raising salaries, not giving out bonuses, and pushing their employees to their limits because when unemployment rates are this high, they can get away with it.

    Just listened to a piece about software writers (code monkeys). They are in high demand, they are getting catered lunches and Foosball tables in the workplaces. Starting salaries are high five figures. That's how corporations treat their employees when unemployment rates are low.

    If the other corporations would get together and decide to hire a few more people per corporation we could get things spinning again. But you're not hearing that call from the Chamber of Commerce.

    And if he can't figure out which way to go in the current climate for any number of reasons he may just sit on the sidelines and wait to see what happens.

    Of course, if you Americans hadn't given those unconcionable tax breaks to the rich, those tax dollars could be making infrastructure improvements (as an example) that don't increase the debt rather than sitting in the pockets of frightened trust fund babies. Things that would improve your competitiveness and resiliancy.

    If the rich are actually big, tough, job makers, they should see this as a challenge. I say tax 'em! 90% bracket! Light a fire under their a$$es. Make them get out there and kill that damn mammoth!

    And if a few of them lose their shirts and have to join the (shudder) middle class?

    I'm not shedding any tears.


    jabby et al - I think y'all miss one important aspect. I'm not talking about how well of a person will be. I'm talking about getting folks back to work. Some folks seem to be obsessed with how much money others make. I could care less. I'm, obsessed with how they use that wealth for the betterment of society. Who pays the middle income folks their salaries? It ain't the poor. If the "rich" business owners are making less do you think they'll hire more people or give nice Christmas bonuses? And it's also good to remember who the vast majority of those "rich SOB's" are: they ain't the trust fund babies or CEO's everyone likes to focus on. They are the small business owners who employ the great majority of the population, who account for most of job growth and who will be paying the lion's share of any new tax increases. If I recall the stats correctly: number of businesses that employ over 1,000 people = 35,000. Number of businesses that employ 100 to 1,000 people = 250,000. Number of businesses that employ under 100 people = 8 MILLION. Again, the number is a bit fuzzy but small businesses pay over 75% of all the salaries in this country.

    You can't escape the reality of those numbers. They're all there on the GAO and IRS websites. Check them out...very sobering. It's not complicated: the majority of the new govt "revenue" will come from the owners of small businesses...not the CEO of ExxonMobil or Bank of America. The great majority of taxes in this country are paid by a very small percentage of the population...we all know that that. But it's good to remember that the majority of those tax payers are small business owners. Like the ones many of the TODster now work for...if they're lucky enough to have a job. Unemployment will decrease when small businesses begin to hire...not before IMHO.

    Sure, no argument from me on any of that, Rock.
    I was just following up on Paleocon's comment regarding the growing wealth gap. I think it's not just a perception, but a reality, that wealth is concentrating at the top of the social pyramid. Small business owners are something of an invisible group. And their problems aren't on the public radar screen. "Nobody" cares about their problems. What the public sees and hears about in the media is CEOs of the giant TBTF banks getting enormous pay outs at taxpayer expense. And enormous CEO compensation packages have been headlines for a couple of decades now. This is against a backdrop of all sorts of massaged and outright phony government stats about unemployment, inflation, etc.
    This is all tailor made to result in cynicism of the most corrosive sort in the body politic.

    jabby - Well put. Unfortunately during an economic downturn I don't know how you avoid a wider wealth gap: are the wealthy business owners going to fire themselves so they can keep paying their employees? Not likely. After just firing 1/3 of their employees and losing 50% of their cash flow are they going to take some of their savings and plow it back into the business...hopefully hiring again? Is sitting back and watching the govt give serious consideration to raising their costs to provide health care (a noble goal IMHO) and raising their taxes going to make them spend more now?

    The answers are all pretty much NO. And that's the real tragedy: they sit on their wealth not spending (as the wish they could...better than making money market rates) and unemployment lowers the wealth of the rest of the population. Have you ever met a business person that didn't want to expand their operations? Those 8 million small biz owners didn't get into it so they could just sit back and vegetate. But they didn't do it to become poor either. If they've made some money and acquired the lifestyle that motivated them to start their own companies in the first place are they going to risk that in uncertain times?

    It's real simple to me: we need to get folks back to work and that means small businesses have to grow...they are the source of most new jobs. The problem is easy to define IMHO. But not the solution. No matter how noble the cause is the threat of reducing the earning potential of a small biz owner going to encourage him to hire?

    I heard a politician offer an idea to expand manufacturing in the US. A good bit of nice middle income used to come from this sector. Sounded radical at first: anyone opening a new manufacturing biz has a zero tax rate...period. What's to lose? If they don't build the plant there's no taxes anyway. And then I thought why stop there: employees of the new company pay no taxes. Thus the plant owner could pay lower wages yet folks would still have the same take home. More motivation/economic edge for the new plant to compete with overseas companies. If those new employees were unemployed they wouldn't be paying taxes anyway.

    Of course no way this would ever happen: how could we ever justify the "rich" not paying taxes?

    Sounds real fair to the already existing, and hard working manufacturing businesses. ???

    All these new ideas are unfair schemes. I was frugal and paid off my little house and credit cards. Now, the government is looking at subsidizing mortgage principal forgiveness. Is that fair to me? And I work for an old manufacturing company, that is not unionized, so I get squat.

    easy - I agree...lots of unfairness all around. But given the great variations in where folks fit in society it's inevitable IMHO. I'm the only one of 6 kids that graduated high school let alone went to college. My siblings they had more fun things to do then sit in a class room. Me on the other hand lived in my grandparents front room until my junior year in college and didn't own my first car until I was 25 yo. But my efforts were rewarded with a good career. So now I pay taxes and all my siblings are on welfare in one form or the other. Not fair, eh? But who would someone prefer to be: me or them. So I'm content...and it helps to ignore such perceived "unfairness". I suppose the best one could do philosophically is make peace with those situations and focus on optimizing one's lot is life.

    I think you all are talking past each other while mostly agreeing. Small business I know started their companies on a shoe-string and worked really hard for decades before really "making it", and they still aren't in that top .1% necessarily -- they're maybe in the top 5%, or 1% at best.

    The wealth gap is most evident where some people get bonuses of a million bucks, while others at the same companies lose their low-paying jobs. And those with the million-dollar bonuses probably already have a net worth of many millions more, and residual income from that as well.

    I am fully aware that income naturally distributes entropically (where is WHT, anyway), but it would be good if the distribution were encouraged by policy to flatten, rather than become increasingly steep.

    Hey Rock. What made you wander onto this topic today? I mean, when we start to slide down the other side of the "undulating plateau", none of these age old fundamentals will matter any more. Those small businesses use oil products too. When these small business owners(rich bastar...) look into the medium term future, and make decisions about whether to hire more, they see uncertainty. Uncertainty about taxes, health costs, and this pesky oil price thing. Oh, and there is an election next year that could change everything again.

    Rockman, I think you are missing a major point. Businesses tend to grow by way of borrowing, which allows them to invest in capital equipment and in hiring people to run the resulting expanded production. That applies to mega corporations and mom-and-pop small businesses. The financial world, which now includes both the investment banks and the commercial banks, have been on a debt creation binge for more then 30 years, using debit creation to finance our growing economy. It's been noted that the financial sector of the economy was collecting about 40% of the corporate profits before the crunch. A small fraction of the population has been able to accumulate large surpluses of wealth, the result being a major increase in the disparity between the incomes of the wealthy and the incomes of the rest of us.

    Turns out, this expansion was a Ponzi like illusion, a financial bubble which has now burst. As a result, many jobs were lost and the real income for the average worker has declined. The banks have been forced to increase there reserve levels as they have lost income from bad debits, so they aren't likely to begin lending at anything like previous levels of excess. That means less growth or even contraction in economic activity as the reduced lending ripples thru the economy.

    It would appear that there is little prospect for the creation of new, high paying jobs to replace those lost at all levels of the economy and jobs are still being lost at rates above the previous normal rates of job turnover. The deficit spending over the past few years have kept things from being even worse, but that stimulus was temporary and now been cutoff. You suggest that small business owners are going to be able to create new jobs, however, I think the economy is headed toward a period of further contraction, a situation which will likely continue even if taxes were reduced, given that the banking sector isn't going to provide the funds and our US congress is unwilling to continue to expand the deficit. The bubble years after Reagan were an illusion, pumped up by cheap fossil fuel energy, and now that oil has become much more expensive, the bubble can not be re-inflated and kept running over the long term...

    E. Swanson

    Yes, I agree with these points, too.

    Much is made in the business media (CNBC/Bloomberg/PBS) about "uncertainty" preventing businesses from deploying the large cash reserves they're sitting on. And this "uncertainty" is, of course, attributed by the business pundits; Kudlow, et al. as being the fault of the politicians in Washington DC. Now the politicians are clueless and are part of the problem, but they and the "uncertainty" they allegedly create, are a much smaller part of the problem than is acknowledged. The reality is that businesses are very aware, very certain, of the plain fact that the economy is contracting and there are simply no opportunities to profitably deploy cash; not into a contracting economy there aren't. Also, many of these business, in spite of being cash rich, are still, none-the-less, insolvent. Their liabilities exceed their assets. Their debts exceed their net worth in spite of a temporarily healthy cash flow. So, they are sitting on cash because in the coming downturn they will still have to service their loans and meet their (minimum) payrolls.

    The only uncertainty is when the economy recovers.

    Corporations sitting on their butts are doing nothing to aid the recovery.

    Corporations have throttled back, they're making good money, and they're waiting for someone else to prime the pump.

    When you say that all politicians are clueless you strongly suggest that you are clueless. Many people on the Hill realize that we need to kick this economy in the butt and get it moving.

    If we had instituted another round of stimulus several months ago a lot more people would now be working, people would be more optimistic, they'd be spending money and building markets. We'd have a lot more taxes pouring in to help pay off the debt.

    Problem is, we've got a bunch of politicians whose number one priority is to make Obama a one term president, even if they have to harm the country to do so. They've been very open about their goal.

    "The only uncertainty is when the economy recovers."

    Bob, I think that's FAR from the only uncertainty, and maybe I haven't followed your comments very closely, but I think it can hardly be a 'given' that we'll see a recovery at all in the way that term is broadly understood.

    We're very probably going to have to undergo some very real changes, and what we'll be when we emerge from this storm won't be a 'recovered' version of what was, but I'd say, a metamorphosed society.

    Big Corporations may be sitting on their hands and their wallets.. but it seems more than likely that even if they started to move, to build, spend and hire, that the inability of global energy sources to meet that activity would very quickly bring us up against the wall.. food/energy costs would balloon, and a deeper recession would ensue.

    I'm optimistic that there are tools we can start to use to carefully build ourselves a better way.. but so far, very few people will be ready for all the changes in economics, industry and lifestyle, etc.. that will be in store. I'm sure I'll have to clench through some gut-wrenching adjustments to my expectations.. and I'm one of the ones heading into it eagerly.

    Bob W. hasn't fully grasped (if at all) the fundamentals of overshoot, but most folks don't. One of the dangers of classic optimism is that it precludes a realistic assessment of the downsides.

    My neighbor got bit by a copperhead a couple of weeks ago, despite being warned several times to stay out of the high grass around the pond, though she knew the chances that a snake was in there was very small,,, just knew it. She remains an unapologetic optimist. I suggested she order snake chaps.

    The cliche` applies: Hope for the best .....

    I think it quite likely that we won't return to as "rich" a lifestyle as we enjoyed in our "best" days. Actually we probably passed that point some time back.

    But I think we'll recover to where unemployment drops significantly below where it is now and people feel more secure.

    I don't agree that we have a global energy problem which we can't fix. We know how to create electricity using wind, sun, deep Earth heat, tides, etc.

    We know how to move ourselves around mostly with electricity.

    These technologies are developed, they are affordable. We're already using them.

    It's just a matter of manufacture and installation, and that would create jobs with all the spill-over benefits of more jobs.

    If we took 1/7th of what we spend for importing oil and "protecting" our oil supply and spent it on renewables and making EVs/PHEVs affordable we could turn the energy situation around very quickly. Just one day out of the week's equivalence.

    "I don't agree that we have a global energy problem which we can't fix. We know how to create electricity using wind, sun, deep Earth heat, tides, etc."

    How much will it cost? How long will it take? How will it be financed? How much land and water will it use? It is cheaper to do all of these in low cost countries why would the global bankers invest in doing these things in high cost countries?

    You forgot to mention nuclear.

    We could use 3TW in the US alone soon. At a $1 per watt raw for PV and say $4 a watt complete frames, electronics, transmission lines, night storage (big money item), etc that is 12 trillion dollars. We (Obama) did give the global bankers 16 trillion dollars (net) so where is the 12 trillion dollars for something useful?

    I didn't mention nuclear because I don't think we'll build more than one or two more reactors in the US. Nuclear is priced off the table, but a few old dinosaurs may need to spend several billion dollars to prove it to themselves.

    (Of course it won't be their money. Rate payers in the Southeast are likely to be drinking that bitter tea.)

    You need to think about a more diverse grid than just solar. Installed solar is now approaching $2/watt and there is zero reason to store any of its power. Solar produces during peak demand hours and we can simply use it as it comes in.

    Wind is now being generated for about $0.05/kWh which makes it the second cheapest source of new electricity after natural gas in a combined cycle plant. Gas is not likely to stay cheap.

    We can pretty much replace coal on our grid with renewables before we need appreciable storage. Then we can start sidelining NG, use it as backup since it will already be on line and the plants paid off. EVs and load shifting will greatly increase our ability to add renewables without adding storage.

    And when we do need storage, utility scale flow batteries are already challenging gas peaker plants for best price. They will win before long.

    Overall how much will it cost? Perhaps a lot. But first take out what we would have spent anyway on plant replacement. A lot of our coal plants are old and tired, we're going to have to replace them with something. Same for some of our nuclear plants.

    Then think about a solar system. When utilities do LCOE pricing for solar they use a 20 year life. But that ignores the further 10, 20, 30 years that those panels will continue to kick out almost free electricity.

    Then ask yourself, "What is the cost of not building an alternative to coal and oil?".

    What is the value of our total economy and way of life? Do we go back to walking and going to bed when it gets dark because it would cost too much to build a new energy infrastructure?


    Oh, and Obama giving global bankers $16 trillion is total hogwash. As of March this year the banking bailout cost us $8.89 billion. And more money will be coming in.

    One of several points I dispute - because I plowed this ground years ago and got much more limited results.

    Solar produces during peak demand hours and we can simply use it as it comes in.

    A myth. In clear desert, solar noon is max generation and peak demand is max temperature (hot and often cold in winter). Add the normal secondary peak at 6-7 PM (true almost everywhere on weekdays).

    In more humid climates, growing haze pushes peak into the morning, and afternoon clouds and thunderstorms reduce generation even more.

    On other points, your costs do not include such necessities as spinning reserve and reactive power. And your 5 cents/kWh includes a 2.3 cents/kWh subsidy for 7.3 cents. And I think 5 cents is too low.

    Wind is *NOT* a good match with seasonal demand. Wind winter peaks, almost all US utilities are summer peaking.

    There are solutions, but they are more complex and difficult than you imagine.

    Best Hopes for Trying,


    While I think there are many problems associated with implementing solar and wind solutions and that Wallace oversimplifies the issue, we would be better off if we had more true believers like Wallace even if implementation of their ideas would not completely solve the problem. As it is, we make little progress because people don't believe we have a problem or even if they do, they spend too much time pointing out the difficulties in moving forward.

    Let us proceed full steam ahead and hope that we can solve some of the problems like storage as we proceed. Waiting for the perfect solution is the enemy.

    At some point, people may wake up and realize that we need a radical change in the way we get around and whether we need to get around as much as we do. My unrealistic dream is that we take a holistic approach to our towns and cities where the need for mobility is the enemy. Concentration of our needs in far flung big box stores is the enemy. Separating residential from commercial is the enemy. Goal should be that 95% of our needs are within 20 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of biking.

    Best hopes for eliminating the auto our primary source of transportation, a source of mobility which is a violent assault on our ecosystem.

    Goal should be that 95% of our needs are within 20 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of biking.

    I am pretty close to that goal :-)

    Farmer's & Fisher's Market is 0.7 mile away. Other shopping closer, except cobbler (1.1 miles away). I take the streetcar Uptown, CBD, and Quarter. Soon more streetcar extensions.


    PS: There are more workable solutions. Cut per capita demand by half, raise average prices by 100% with highly variable pricing - say 4 to 60 cents/kWh.

    I realize the task is large and complex. But I also can look back and see how much infrastructure we are capable of building in a decade.

    My father was born the year Henry Ford introduced the Model T. The Wright Brothers flew a few years later. He would have been 103 this year.

    Think about what we have done in that 100 years. We have moved from horses and steam engine trains/boats to modern cars and supersonic jets. Most of the buildings we use have been built since then. Almost all of the paved streets of today were not in existence or dirt paths. Water and gas systems serve the entire continent. The electric grid (most of it) takes power just about everywhere. We've moved from crank phones to cell phones, from telegraph to internet. We've walked on the Moon and sent rovers to Mars.

    To get from fossil fuel to (almost) 100% renewable energy we need to invent nothing. We could do it with wind turbines and solar panels as we know them. We could back them up with pump-up hydro, CAES, and flow batteries - all storage systems we are already using.

    We will improve as we install. Each year it will get cheaper per watt as we gain experience and invent. That's how it always is. We're clever animals.

    I appreciate your optimism but I don't think it will be as easy as you think. We are accustomed to 'progressing' and (sadly) that generally means more, bigger, and faster. Transitioning from FF to renewables will inevitably involved 'regressing' (in the minds of many) as we move to smaller cars, smaller homes that are more densely organized, etc. People just don't take kindly to that and they will resist.

    Just look at the GOP presidential field all promising to bring back the V-8s of yesteryear with 'drill, baby, drill' policies which will flood us with cheap gasoline. Are those promises real? Of course not! But people will believe what they want to believe. So we are going to keep trying to do BAU until we have another financial meltdown. I think it is going to take a few meltdowns before people understand that resource limits exist and we are starting to hit them.

    Peak demand hours start before peak solar hours and they continue on after good solar hours are finished. I did not say maximum peak, but peak hours.

    Solar produces during peak demand hours and we can simply use it as it comes in.

    We do not need spinning reserve for renewables any more than we need spinning reserve for other power sources. Over time spinning reserve will be replaced with additional pump-up hydro and utility scale batteries. The spinning reserve used for grid smoothing is already being replaced with flywheel storage.

    Wind wholesales as low as $0.03/kWh. Since the PTC is $0.022 that tells us that wind, good technology in good locations, can be produced for less than $0.05/kWh. Remember, there's profit included in that nickel. And that price will come down.

    BTW, there are now signed long term sales agreements for solar at $0.10/kWh. That means that best case solar is getting close to $2/watt installed.

    Wind wholesales as low as $0.03/kWh.

    Link ?

    Even if the best US wind areas, I can see that number for only off-peak power. That is sell peak on spot market and off peak for $30/MWh to someone that pumps water, etc.


    The spinning reserve used for grid smoothing is already being replaced with flywheel storage.

    Link ?

    Only on a "cost not important" prototype AFAIK.

    I expect it will never be economically practical on a large scale.


    Peak demand hours start before peak solar hours

    Nomenclature difference perhaps. 11 AM in the summer is usually considered shoulder demand and not peak demand.

    And the significant mismatch between peak demand and solar PV generation will be meet with either inefficiently operating FF or with pumped storage (UP at 11 AM, or 3 AM wind, down at 6 PM).

    As I said it is a myth that solar PV is a good match with demand and no storage is required.


    Is peak solar time perfectly matched with peak demand? No.

    Is it substantially aligned with it? Yes! Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

    And there are plenty of other tricks in the book including storage (including simple/cheap systems like storage for A/C), demand-response (which will become more widespread due to smart-grid technology), etc.

    Thus my thoughts that we need to go towards highly variable pricing - say 4 cents to 60 cents/kWh. Average prices twice today.

    And most solar PV is produced, on most summer days in humid areas, at shoulder demand times.

    In winter, 6 to 8 AM is often peak demand time. Basically zero solar PV then.

    Not an issue until solar PV < 8% or so of total MWh. But it grows after that.

    Best Hopes for Workable Solutions,


    PV production and demand can be a closer match if the PV panels are setup in a tracking configuration. The output would thus be more nearly constant without the noon tine peak of a fixed, south facing array. Other options include placing the tracking PV on the sides of westward facing slopes, which would allow the output to shift even more toward later times of the day, close to sundown.

    Your repeated claim that nuclear is necessarily a large part of the mix ignores the fact that nuke power is usually delivered at a constant rate, given the large mass of the core and the continued decay in the core after the main reaction is shut down. Therefore, reliance on nukes requires either storage or another source which can be dispatched to match the demand. In the short term, that dispatchable power might be provided by NG powered turbines, until the NG supply fades. As a result, if storage options can be improved, both nuke and renewables would benefit...

    E. Swanson

    Conceptually, storage on a daily and weekly basis would be done by modulating hydro (including 30 GW more hydro in Canada) and pumped storage.

    Much more HV DC to make generation balance load - but most regions will need to supply base load with nukes. There are practical limits on how much power transmission can import/export.

    Some small % (1 to 3 ?) of renewable MWh than have no where else to go, go into chemical storage of energy.

    And 10% of total MWh from FF, to fill in the gaps at peak prices (60 cents/kWh is my gut guess - most of that in taxes).

    It would take more time than I have ATM to fill our the details - which I did years ago.

    BTW - it is reasonable for a fleet of new nukes to modulate their generation from 80% or 85% to 100% on a daily cycle. Slow ramp down and quicker ramp up, at say 6 AM on weekdays, which works well for night base load + pumped storage.

    As noted, my goal is total economic cost for electricity = today. Reducing per capita demand by -40% to -50% allows higher prices for actual generation/MWh.

    Best Hopes,


    Dont know about your grid but ower here in Sweden is the design goal for the grid stability handling one worst case N-1 fault, that is a trip of the largest nuclear reactor, or the switchyard busbar or high tension line with the largest load and then a 15 minute deadline for spinning up gas turbines and non spinning hydro powerplants to be able to offload the spinning reserve to handle another N-1 fault.

    1400 MW for up to 15 minutes would be some serious flywheels!

    "The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (continuing) have cost, therefore, an unfathomable US$6 trillion. If overall military spending amounts to some US$1.5 trillion then during the decade that America has waged its latest serial wars, its putative leadership has spent approximately US$20 trillion on waging war or preparing for it. Add in another US$20 trillion or so that some pundits have estimated that the US in particular has printed "out of thin air" to reliquify its ruined dollar reserve economic system and the total arrived at is US$40 trillion. This sum then, still rising, represents resources that are basically commandeered by the so-called public sector to support the nation's (and the West's) solvency and superior firepower.

    The full amount, little reported in the American press, shows clearly how the public's perception of the US as a "capitalist" or free-market economy departs from reality. America's elites – Anglosphere elites really – have commandeered the wealth of a nation"


    I agree with much of what you just said.. but you also flitted past..

    "It's just a matter of manufacture and installation"

    That requires a hefty input of energy, materials and political will, and some time to make that course-shift.

    I contend that we've blown off most of the time we had for this, so now, the transition becomes MUCH more tricky.

    We'll see.

    Tomorrow, next week, next year, the decade after and the decade after that we will be building stuff. Right now we're building a lot more renewables than new coal capacity.

    Every year we increase the amount of wind we bring to the grid. Solar is growing like gangbusters with estimates that solar will grow 32% per year for the next decade.

    Will we get it all in place in time?

    I don't know. It seems that we've waited too long when one considers the heat waves, droughts, monster storms, and floods that have been kicking our butts lately. But hopefully we haven't waited so long that we unleash all the trapped methane that is guaranteed to cook us.

    If solar only grows by 32% in the next decade we are truly screwed given its tiny base.

    Try plotting a curve which is increasing at 32% per year.

    Or just use the 'rule of 72' and take today's base and double that number every 2.25 years.

    Bob, the economy isn't going to recover as in previous recessions, that is, it isn't going to go back to the same level as that before the real estate bubble crashed any time soon. That is to say, the market for new houses was wildly inflated by near fraudulent lending by banks and mortgage companies, as they could sell the tainted mortgages bundled together and rated as high quality when many of them were likely to default. The market for second homes was dependent on low cost energy to allow transport between primary and second residences and that's likely finished too. The market for large, high cost SUV's and PU's is another casualty of high fuel costs, which also isn't likely to return to previous levels. The consumer was responsible for something like 70% of the economy and the consumer isn't able to consume without going back to that borrowing binge from re-financing a house or maxing out several credit cards. The bubble has imploded.

    Of course, the Government can stimulate economic activity by printing more money, inflating the money supply and creating an appearance of normality, but that too can't last very long without destroying the currency. Doing that would make the price of oil and other imported goods in current dollars rise even higher. Of course, the Tea Party types in Congress say they won't accept more deficit spending. We are in a new world situation, where the real limits on availability of all types of resources is linked to the rising price of energy, which means less of everything for each of us. The old economic models don't fit the new reality...

    E. Swanson

    There is an equal group striving to make Obama a two-term president. Few want to do anything significant to define and advertise, let alone solve, problems that abound. So?

    Not all business is the same. You have small companies, US corps, and multi-national corps. Each has its own agenda and limitations. It is not the goal of ANY business to "aid the economy" except as benefits itself. It's the politicians job, and the Feds, to do that, and neither is.

    More stimulus to banks and multi-national corps can't help. Stimulus to individuals and small businesses might. Why keep doing what already failed? At least fail in a new way.

    There is no way to pay off the current or planned debt through taxes without massive growth, including much more people with a higher fraction working, yet this is a road to further ruin. What we need is to get bankruptcies and debt collapse underway. Seems like a pretty good way for the economically oppressed to even the playing field with the moneyed elite (both individual and corporate). Decreasing the wealth spread, reducing consumption, and increasing employment are clear goals from my perspective. More wealth and taxes - not so much.

    It is not just the uncertainty create by political antics but the uncertainty created by fiscal and monetary policies. If one accepts the proposition that zero interest rates are not a long term sustainable model then the logical question is what will happen to the economy when interest rates revert back to a more normal level. Similarly, $1.6T budget deficit again is not sustainable what happens when deficits are forced back to more normal levels. If a business is making good money doing what they are doing now why take risks given all the uncertainty? It is not that corporations are not investing- they are just not doing it in the US. Ford just broke ground on an engine plant in India which will create 5,000 new jobs.

    Both fiscal and monetary policy are useful in responding to shocks. They are absolutely the worst tools to use for chronic problems. One would think that after the Japanese experience policy makers would question the appropriateness of doing exactly what the Japanese did with no great success.

    Yeah, E, the truely wealthy folks I know, two whom I've worked for, rarely invest their own money in their enterprizes. It's mostly other folks money and credit. Good reasons for keeping personal wealth and enterprize funds seperate. Not to say they don't pay themselves first and best. A friend who has done very well expressed frustration recently that he hasn't been able to get investment capital for his endeavors the last couple of years, so his personal income has declined significantly. His net worth is still in the tens of millions, I'm sure. Cry me a river...... I asked him why he doesn't self finance. His response: "What? You think I'm stupid?"

    He spends most of his time trying to get investment bankers to loan jobs into existence. He did buy a (already profitable) liquor store recently, with his own money. Calls it a hobby.

    Dog - I agree: probably more of our economic growth was done with small biz owners floating inventory on the Master Cards. Gotta run but same point: who's going to may their American Express to expand biz in uncertain times. And that's if Amex hasn't already cancelled there line of credit.

    This graph suggests business investment was doing just fine under the higher top marginal tax rates of the Clinton years, and did not suddenly improve after the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Meanwhile, according to the GINI index of income inequality, the US is the 39th least egalitarian nation in the world, worse than Cameroon, Nigeria, and Russia - and, of course, just about every other developed country in the world.

    As for unemployment, it shot up because middle class demand collapsed when all those mortgages went kaput, and people started directing much more money towards paying off their debt, rather than racking it up. Lack of demand continues to be the problem with the weak "recovery."

    I am pretty sure there would be an easy solution if we had more resourced per capita. The banks could release money for projects, small businesses, and home improvements.

    But since we do not have the resources, they economy is going stay keeled. I see the economy as reflecting resource constraints, where the bottom of the pyramid gets squeezed hardest.

    Yes, "resource constraints" is precisely it. The elephant in the middle of the room that no one will acknowledge.
    Because to the business community, their pundits and economists, "resource constraints" is an oxymoron; an impossibility, because resources are infinitely substitutable; economic theory (dogma) has declared it so.
    There are only three constraints on private enterprise; capital, labor, government. If capital isn't the issue, than government and labor MUST be the problem; that's the only possibility left.
    TPTB will go to their graves insisting that government and labor are the problems. And the fact that they're partially correct will only vindicate them sufficiently to guarantee that they will never change their view.