Drilling Down: Tainter and Patzek Tell the Energy-Complexity Story

Joseph Tainter and Tadeusz Patzek are authors of a soon-to-be-released book called Drilling Down: The Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma. This book is part of Charles Hall's Briefs in Energy series with the publisher Springer. An earlier book in this series was The Limits to Growth Revisited, by Ugo Bardi.

The new book, Drilling Down, is not simply the story of the Gulf oil spill (although it does tell this story, quite well). Tainter and Patzek use the story of Gulf oil spill as the background for discussing the energy-complexity spiral, and its relationship to this accident.

The energy-complexity spiral occurs because the availability of abundant, inexpensive energy permits increased complexity. Complexity has the advantage of allowing society to solve more problems, but it has the disadvantage of being more costly–that is requiring more energy for its creation. The need for more energy (and the fact that Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROEI) is declining) leads to a need for more complexity to obtain this additional energy, assuring that the cycle continues. With growing complexity, there is an increased risk of accidents that can be expected because of the complex nature of the system, but which are hard for participants to foresee.

Tainter and Patzek add new perspectives to what has been reported elsewhere, such as at The Oil Drum. Joe Tainter is an anthropologist and historian who teaches in the department of Environment and Society at Utah State University. His best-known work is The Collapse of Complex Societies. Tad Patzek has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and teaches at the University of Texas in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering. He has testified at congressional hearings on the oil spill.

The book has nine chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Significance of Oil in the Gulf of Mexico
  3. The Energy that Runs the World
  4. Offshore Drilling and Production: A Short History
  5. The Energy Complexity Spiral
  6. The Benefits and Costs of Complexity
  7. What Happened at the Macondo Well
  8. Why the Gulf Disaster Happened
  9. Our Energy and Complexity Dilemma: Prospects for the Future

We have already extracted quite a bit of the easy-to-extract oil. As we move on to more difficult to extract oil, we find it necessary to use ever more complex, costly and risky technologies, driven by falling EROEI, in an energy-complexity spiral. The energy-complexity spiral in oil production mirrors the larger energy complexity spiral in society as a whole. The introduction describes the purpose of the book as two-fold:

. . . firstly to explain the Gulf disaster, the energy-­complexity spiral, and how they are necessarily connected; and secondly to encourage all consumers of energy to consider whether this spiral is sustainable, and what it will mean for us if it is not.

The two authors bring their perspectives to the situation. Patzek tells the technical story of oil extraction, why we need oil from the Gulf of Mexico, and how oil from the Gulf is found in ever-smaller and deeper reservoirs. He also tells some of the details about the complexity of extraction as more people and companies are involved in the process and as more complex extraction equipment is needed. Tainter brings the overview of how the energy-complexity spiral works. He also provides background on how previous civilizations handled growing complexity, and the difficulty of maintaining adequate energy supply, as marginal returns decline. Together, they tell the specific story of the Deepwater Horizon accident, but also the more general story of our search for greater energy supplies, and the problems involved.

The book describes the Deepwater Horizon as a “normal accident”:

Perrow uses the term “normal accidents” partly as a synonym for “inevitable” accidents, accidents whose likelihood is inherent in a complex technological system. In a highly complex piece of technology with many parts, accidents happen from unpredictable interactions among some of those parts. Complexity makes failures nearly inevitable. Engineers try to avoid failure by adding more complexity, all of which makes the operation of technological systems difficult for human operators to understand.

. . .

Normal accidents appear as if they are Black Swans, something that cannot happen. In fact, the very nature of complex technologies makes accidents probable. They are a normal byproduct of the operation of systems whose complexity is beyond human understanding.

Part of the reason that accidents are prone to happen is because various tasks are divided among various companies, each trying to earn a profit. Within each company, tasks are further divided among many workers.

The chance of “normal accidents” can be expected to increase as drilling is started in ever-riskier places, such as off the coast of Greenland and north of the Arctic Circle.

Drilling Down touches on many interesting topics, from details about how extraction is done, to details about what happened at the time of the accident, to overviews of how various civilizations have dealt with rising complexity and reduced energy flows. Tainter brings up the issue of declining marginal return on investment in complexity–and how this seems to be born out, for example, by fewer new patents, even in energy sectors. The book also mentions that more complex solutions–from hybrid gas-electric cars to fancier military airplanes–tend to be more expensive per unit built, and this higher cost limits how many are actually sold.

The book talks about how energy slaves in the form of fossil fuels are a way of paying for increased complexity, at least until they start running short. The book also talks about how things that should be obvious–like our dependence on fossil fuels–are masked by the fact that they are so much a part of our everyday life, and for many years were not a problem. In explaining this, the point is made that a fish wouldn’t know that its nose is wet–water is such a part of its everyday environment as not to be noticed.

This is not a book that gives a formula for solving our energy problems. The following is part of the final remarks of the book (actual wording may vary–the manuscript I am working from is not final).

It is fashionable to think that we will be able to produce renewable energy with gentler technologies, with simpler machines that produce less damage to the earth, the atmosphere, and people. We all hope so, but we must approach such technologies with a dose of realism and a long-term perspective. A geothermal project in Basel, Switzerland, begun in December 2006, had been underway only a few days when there was a small earthquake of magnitude 3.4, frightening people and damaging buildings. More than 100 aftershocks continued into 2007, and the project was abandoned, because people were too scared. Solar and wind power, at a scale great enough to be meaningful, would consume large amounts of land . . . Renewable energy that gives the same power per person as we enjoy today would not be free of environmental damage. . . Indeed, in the large land areas that it would require, renewable energy could cause more environmental damage than that caused by our use of fossil fuels. We know that this is not a pleasant observation, but throughout the book we have emphasized the need for realism.

It is always important to keep long-term processes in mind, as well as the regularities in how humans behave. As with fossil fuels, we will first exploit sources of renewable energy with the steepest energy gradients, the highest EROEI. Once those no longer satisfy our needs, we will do what we are now doing with petroleum: We will produce renewable energy in places that are more and more unfavorable, and to this we will develop technologies that are complex, costly, and risky. Perhaps in the end the consequences will not be as great as the Gulf spill, although we will not presume to guess how people might weigh the economic and emotional costs of an earthquake against those of an oil spill, or the difference between opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and taking over a vast desert ecosystem to capture its solar energy. We hope that renewable energy will be more environmentally benign than fossil fuels have been, but we will know only when we push into renewable energy sources that yield declining marginal returns.

What are the alternatives? The fiscal crises currently experienced by many governments give us a taste of what would likely be in store for us should our energy sources ever prove inadequate. . . Teachers are being laid off, programs canceled, and school years shortened. Britain is eliminating whole agencies of government, and planning to implement the most drastic curtailment of public services since World War II. All this is happening at a time when energy is still abundant and relatively inexpensive.

Our societies cannot postpone a public discussion about future energy. As we stated earlier, this must be an adult discussion, a discussion that is honest, serious, and realistic. It cannot be grounded in punditry, or faith-based economics, or unlimited technological optimism. . . We can anticipate and plan for our future, or we can simply allow the future to happen. This is our choice.

The era of plentiful petroleum will someday end, hopefully without any more accidents of the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. We don’t know when this will happen, nor does anyone else. Surely it will happen sooner than we want. Yet we are not without some ability to understand how the future will unfold. We can project the future based on past experience, for we are not the first people to encounter challenges of energy. Always in our discussions it is worthwhile to keep in mind the restatement of Stein’s Law: A trend that can’t continue, won’t.

Drilling Down is now available for pre-order. The book is already available in Europe. I am told the book will be available worldwide the second week in October. The book is well worth its modest price of $13.23, in my opinion. With one detail-oriented author, and one “big picture” author, the book includes something for everyone. No background in oil terminology is required; a glossary is provided.

This post originally appeared on Our Finite World.

"Britain is eliminating whole agencies of government, and planning to implement the most drastic curtailment of public services since World War II."

The graph in this link shows the scale of these drastic cuts:


And we're also printing another 75 bill.

Austerity - not increasing spending quite as much as you would have done,


WW2 was a big increase of public services not a decrease

The timing is "since World War II". This is not to say that World War II resulted in a decrease in public services.

The economy has been on what looked like an "up escalator" since World War II. A big part of this was financed by more and more debt in my opinion, at least in the US, but I expect the situation was fairly similar elsewhere. Hitting the ceiling of oil high prices has caused things to turn around. I don't have debt figures for Britain, but for the US, this is a graph of the ratio of debt (excluding federal, state and local governmental debt) to GDP.

One thing that I've stressed to everyone who'll listen to me is that the real economy is quite healthy and it's our financial and political systems that are broken. Is there a shortage of natural resources at the moment? Sure, but I believe that issue can be addressed without drastically reducing the utility the average consumer receives in their life*. At the end of the day, our ability to manufacture goods and provide services (the real economy) has never been in a better condition at any point in history. Modern factories are truly amazing.

The real economy is what matters. It is the end. Financing is just a means to that end. IMO, our currency system is intrinsically flawed. We need a currency with an intrinsic negative interest rate: energy. A student of monetary theory will instantly realize that this solves a lot of problems.

*Others on this site would disagree, I think we've all hashed out arguments so let's just wait and see

Our real economy is not healthy: The U.S. has a massive balance of payments problem because manufacturing is going overseas, health care costs will shortly bankrupt the nation, we have a major demographic problem with the retirement of the baby boom generation (exploding Social Security, pension costs), and this real economy is creating massive environmental problems for the future (for example global warming will make hurricanes, droughts, floods..much, much more common).

Clearly the book authors are living in fantasy land: "We must have an adult conversation about energy". I would have thought there would have been one when one shot up to $150/barrel--but no, it was "all evil speculators" and environmentalists blocking drilling...I think resource wars over energy are more likely to happen than adult conversations.

Manufacturing jobs are going overseas. Industrial capacity in the U.S. is still quite robust. Just because we aren't using it doesn't mean its not there. What a lot of people miss is that, while a lot of jobs have been off-shored, a very large number of jobs have been eliminated through automation.

In a world where computers and robots are ever more capable, high employment is not necessary in order to have a large productive capacity.

What a lot of people miss regarding health care costs is that the income provided by that industry to the population has also increased dramatically (though not as quickly as costs which is a tell-tale sign of a market participant, cough, insurance companies, cough, are taking too large of a share). When both expenditures and income rise relative to the rest of the economy it simply means that that sector is a larger part of the economy, not necessarily a drain. One would postulate that a rich society would spend a larger portion of its GDP on healthcare as productivity gains in other sectors (agriculture, services, manufacturing) provide the same utility to consumers for a lower price (and therefore a smaller portion of the GDP pie).

There are at least two different ways to handle healthcare:

1. Make sure the population eats healthy food, gets clean water, and exercises. Teach people to avoid the common diseases that modern society seems to offer (heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, Type II diabetes, overweight, joint diseases, etc.) through proper diet and exercise. Provide healthcare to everyone who needs it, through a public system, but don't try to fight the natural aging process. If a person is dying, let him/her die.

2. Pay little attention to what people eat, leaving it up to the food industry to find the cheapest and most profitable way to provide food, (even if the result includes way too little Omega 3 fatty acids, way too much Omega 6 fatty acids, too much sugar, too much flour and high fructose corn syrup, and probably missing minor nutrients as well.) Ignore size of servings in restaurants. Ignore need for people (including school children) to exercise. Make healthcare almost an arm of the pharmaceutical industry, where every ailment (no matter how treatable through lifestyle change) is treated with pills, and by coming back endless times for more tests, and more doctors visits. Make the standard of care, "keeping people alive as long as possible, even if they are no longer capable of recognizing their own family, and their quality of life is zero." Encourage expensive surgical interventions for all of the diseases that could have been prevented.

The US seems to have followed the second of these approaches. The result is a horrendously expensive system, with much worse health outcomes than most other "developed" countries.


knowing that health care is going to be more difficult in the future, I'm paying extra attention to my health these days (losing weight, training with weights, etc.) and am examining some fundamental assumptions about how I've eaten. It sounds like you've been doing similar research.

1. There is increasing evidence that the change to a "low fat" "low cholesterol" diet was an enormous mistake because the calories that used to come from fat now come from carbs and, in particular, sugar.
2. Sugar could be seen as toxic to the body (see first link below for exact biochemistry). Warning: I am not a biochemist so if anyone who is would like to chime in please feel free. The presenter used the word "toxic" not me.

Two interesting presentations about sugar:

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

The Sugar Trap - 1986 - 1 of 6 - Documentary

Interesting to learn the history of sugar! Used to be so rare it was at one point dispensed at an apothecary and used as a medicine.

Ancestral Health Symposium at UCLA
(scientists examining how far we've diverged from how our bodies learned to eat during the paleolithic era)

Particularly interesting presentations:

Evolution of a Diet Revolution (parts are quite funny)
Andreas Eenfeldt, MD

What foods make my brain work best?
Seth Roberts, PhD

Food and Western Disease
Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD

How to win an argument with a vegetarian
Denise Minger

About to watch:

The case against sugar(s)
Gary Taubes, MA

I haven't watched all the videos yet but those are the ones I've found valuable so far.

All Ancestral Health videos on Vimeo.

I totally agree with you. Although a bit off topic, the subject of what constitutes good nutrition is not nearly as cut and dried as many make it out to be. I've been reading in some depth on nutrition matters for the past 4 years and am totally boggled at how wrong the current paradigm of nutrition is.

You are traveling down the correct path.
Grains are poison, and industrial AG is biocide and environmental destruction.

Gail and Green:

In my observation, manufacturing will return to the US (if there is a market, that is, and with market collapse, that isn't a given) -- but only when wages have been pushed down to closer to serf levels as they were in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the USA. I see occasional industry returns to areas they had abandoned, but usually at wage levels of about half what they paid before industry left for overseas.

Robots certainly can produce huge amounts of goods and services. But the beneficiary of the robot activity isn't always the workers they displace -- it is usually the owners of the robots. What mechanism exists in this country (or any other) to distribute the wealth production of robots to the society at large?

"Healthcare" is a disaster because it has been transformed from a profession to a commodity. The idea now is to make profit -- and physicians, patients, "diseases", and "medications" have been reduced to counters in a great game of wealth creation, not service to patients.

I know for a fact that better health outcomes could be achieved for 1/3 the price we are currently paying in the USA -- but the debate has been closed by a political system in thrall to a medical-industrial complex.

When both expenditures and income rise relative to the rest of the economy it simply means that that sector is a larger part of the economy, not necessarily a drain. One would postulate that a rich society would spend a larger portion of its GDP on healthcare as productivity gains in other sectors

I'm sorry but you are absolutely clueless!

There are over 40 million US citizens in this country currently without any access to basic health care!

The system as it currently stands is broken beyond repair by whatever measure you may choose to assess it.

A friend of mine recently spent a few weeks in the hospital and despite not even getting a diagnosis as to what had ailed him, received a bill for $700,000.00 of which his insurance will only cover $300,000.00, he is on the hook for $400,000.00!

Multiply his case by millions of patients a year in every major hospital.

His case is not an isolated incident! I know because my ex girlfriend works in corporate finance as a computer software specialist for that very hospital! To give you an idea of how absurd things can be, their legal department has their own specialized software that is separate from the main database despite the hospital having implemented (at very high cost)software that already included a module for integrating the legal department's documents into the work flow! (the damn lawyers didn't like it!)

I won't bore you with stories about superfluous tests, surgical procedures and treatments whose main purpose is only as a CYA requirement due to fear of possible litigation...

A for profit health care system such as the one we have in the US, controlled by bean counters, insurance companies and legal departments (I'm not even going to get into pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies) is indeed a HUMONGOUS DRAIN on our entire society.

This system will shatter into a billion pieces when Peak Oil really starts to hit.

Shortages Lead Doctors To Ration Critical Drugs



we have a major demographic problem with the retirement of the baby boom generation

So you're saying a big problem is that America's population is too small? That if it were now say 600 million instead of 300 million it would be in a far healthier place?

Hey hey GreenPlease,

You may be right about the health of the 'real economy' but there are two other economies that you need to be worried about. John Micheal Greer calls the 'real economy' the secondary economy because its inputs are the outputs of the primary economy which is the natural world. The tertiary economy is the financial world which takes its inputs from the secondary economy. If the tertiary economy crashes, as it did in 1930, then the 'real economy' experiences a setback. But if the primary economy goes into decline then the secondary economy is in trouble regardless of how amazing modern factories are.



I think the term shortage is often used with out context in these discussions. In this instance the term shortage as it relates to the OP is [I think] the notion that high EROEI and ROI resources are in too short a supply [shortage] to support a status quo in the nature of complexity by which civilisation/society supports itself.

ie the shortage is not absolute but a relative and transformative shortage that forces a change in economic behaviour

which may or may not be beneficial to the majority... for example Tainter's and UB's arguments about complexity as a root cause of societal collapse in the western roman empire MAY have resulted in a benefit for the slave classes despite being drastically bad for the Roman urban population, who may have only only represented 4%-10% of the empires total..

In the world today a greater percentage of the population are reliant on the economic system of expansion and deferred/assumed growth so the results may be somewhat worse if there is a major discontinuity in economic affairs.


One point that seems obvious when given some thought is that higher energy prices will tend to force society to prioritize how resources are spent. There are certain things that need to get done to prevent things from totally falling apart. Good examples are: defense, energy procurement, keeping the electric grid up, health care. If, as the graph in your post indicates, the markets are not providing adequate priority, then government will end up stepping in with lots of arbitrary rules and sub-optimal solutions.

There are two effects of this approach that come to mind. The first is that these rules are easy to game. Segments of society with lots of influence probably can and will hire the expertise needed to skew income distribution and wealth to themselves.

The second effect is that these sub-optimal solutions are expensive. Eventually, there will have to be draconian taxation aimed at everyone except the influential to pay for it all.

This scenario seems to hitting pretty close to home.

You are correct in that war is a service provided by the public sector. I think most people look at the lower standard of living seen during the war and associate this with austerity.

a service provided by the public sector

The "private sector", according to what I learned in 1st grade, is down there where your thighs meet.

On the other hand, the "public sector" is upstairs where the hot air exhausts from an equally large sized hole.

Tainter's and Taleb's books should be taught in high school and colleges. People don't understand the problems that complexity and fat tail risks bring, I have even seen engineers who don't know about these things.

A six sigma accident record is considered normal nowadays so when disaster occurs people think it's a one off incident that will not repeat itself. The Macondo well incident is just a taste of things to come, in the race for efficiency we are creating things that no one understands as a whole.
Looking forward to this book.

The "Normal" distribution crept into modeling, even though it is not at all the right model, even on financial securitization. Once people see that there is a model that fits the data (even if it is of the wrong form, with too thin a tail), they think they know things that they really don't know.

Taleb and Tainter's books, both call into question the meta-narrative of "progress" in modernity and its implicit/assumed goodness/rightness.
Progress in the American mind is a function of increases in DiversityOfBelieving, Technology with implicit Complexity, Wealth, Education
with implicit Wisdom/Expertise. They will never be taught in public high schools, and undergraduate institutions since they repudiate significant portions of the
foundationalism of the Academy & PubEd.

should be taught in high school and college

Most fables and narratives have an underlying moral.

The moral of Tainter's and Taleb's books is that we humans are: small and narrow brained, irrational, easily fooled by the randomness and the complexity and unlikely to come out ahead of the decline curve.

That is not a happy-ending moral that sells well to the audience.

So instead, we teach our high school and college students about an Invisible Appendage that was Intelligently Designed and guides Mr. Market to always make the right choices for us.

Actually Secondary PubEd and Undergrads are taught the meta-narrative of Evolution as the exclusive organizing force of the universe. I agree on Mr. Market. Additionally
they are also taught that Mr. Corporation is a person, except that he cannot be executed for any crimes against humanity or other massive crimes, he just pays fines
(maybe) and probably disproportionately smaller than the damage he created in the opposite manner taught since the semitic cultures in the Ancient Near East (ANE) where
you MINIMALLY paid exact restitution and undoubtedly some multiple.

wi – I get your point but I have to modify the concept of “rare” events such as cement failures (the initial domino in the BP disaster), the well kick (second domino) and the blow out the BOP didn’t prevent (last domino). As I explained at the time none of these events are rare. They happen all the time…maybe some even weekly if we had all the info.

How often do cement jobs fail? So often that every drill rig keeps equipment on board 24/7 to redo failed cement. So common that the Halliburton et al don’t warrant any cement job (as long as it’s done per company specs) and they’ll still charge full price. And then they charge full price for the repair (called a “squeeze job”). And if that fails? They do it again and charge full price again. I was consulting for an operator that did 23 squeeze jobs on just one casing string before they gave up and abandoned the well. The cement job failing on the BP was by no means a low probability of happening. In fact, given the temperature and pressures involved I would have expected the first cement job to not hold.

The well “taking a kick” (oil/NG flowing up a well unexpectedly)? I’ve been doing this for 36 years and I’ll make a rough guess that I’ve taken no less than 30 to 40 kicks. Most kicks were controlled by shutting the well in. A smaller number were controlled when the BOP is activated. And a smaller number weren’t controlled and blew live oil/NG out of the hole. And one caught fire, blew up and killed my company man while he was trying to manually activate the BOP. His body was never found. I was suppose the be on the rig at that time but chopper was grounded due to weather. Twice I've run for my life from onshore rigs that ALMOST blew out.

How easy is it for a BOP to fail? Typically we test BOP’s every two weeks. That can take about a half day if the test works. There are third party companies that specialize/certified in testing BOP’s. But they don’t always test positive and have to be repaired. That can take another half day to a couple of days. What does the testing cost? On a DW floater when it tests good: $350,000+ in rig time. If it doesn’t test: Double or triple that amount. A DW well that takes 90 days to drill the operator could spend $2,000,000 or more just for testing the BOP. And then only if it never needed to be repaired. Anyone thinks these companies have to spend that much money if BOP’s didn’t need to be tested regularly?

What was unusual was the body count and the magnitude of the environmental damage. Body count: unlike an onshore blow out you just cab ran away on an offshore rig. The environmental damage? Almost unprecedented. But unpredictable? Not really: cement jobs fail all the time. Taking a kick is not rare. BOP’s do fail. But most blow outs happen when we unknowingly drill into a hydrocarbon reservoir. BP knew they had a massive high pressure filled with hydrocarbons. If such a well blew out and the BOP failed the magnitude of the environmental damage would be very predictable

So a theoretical question: if a well had this reservoir behind casing (which they knew they had) and if the cement failed (as it often does) while they had insufficient mud weight in the hole to prevent the reservoir from flowing…what is the probability of taking a kick? Easy answer: 100%. Can’t be argued: it’s a basic law of physics. Do BOP sometimes fail when you take a kick? Not always but it does happen on occasion. Do blow outs always explode and burn? Not often but it does happen.

Bottom line IMHO: the BP blow out was a million miles away from being a Black Swan. Just don’t ask me how the personnel on the rig allowed this situation to develop. And none of the other hands I work with have a good answer either. Blow outs will happen under the best practices…can’t completely over come human failure and Mother Earth’s unpredictability. But with practices like BP’s they will happen much more often.

Rockman - always a pleasure reading your insider opinion. The thing is that carelessness is also one part of the complexity equation, you can always count on human beings being stupid which is why you don't entrust one person with the safety of entire human race and always make sure that even if screw ups happen you can fix things quickly, by going deep off shore and now with talks of drilling under the arctic sheet we have removed both the factors.
The essence of a Black Swan is not in the event itself but it's consequences, if a million to one event has enormous consequences it makes sense to take measures against it even if it sounds stupid. It's the reason engineers put backdoor entries into their code even if it's unethical because you can always count on stupid users locking themselves out of the system.

I can easily imagine another Deep Water even after what happened at Macondo simply because that's how our system works. If it were onshore or the middle of nowhere it wouldn't matter so much but since you are drilling hundred miles from ANWR you have a disaster at hand.

wi - True: consequences are a factor in Black Swans. But so is probability. Many won't be comfortable hearing this: the BP wasn't just a matter of human error (as is often the case in a blow out). Though there were human errors with regards to monitoring the well (it very likely would have not have blown out had they seen the kick coming and taken the appropriate actions) the failure was knowingly conducting a risky operation. Anytime when the mud weight in the well isn't sufficient to control the down hole pressure it's an invitation to disaster. I can only make a number up since we don't have a data base to work with. But what are the odds of any well taking a kick in these circumstances: 1 in 10. And the crew not seeing it kick in time: 1 in 30. And the BOP failing: 1 in 5. Doing the math that’s 1 in 1,500. Even if my guess is off by a magnitude that's still 1 n 15,000....a very long way from 1 in million.

Even if no other operator ever has insufficient mud weight to control the down hole pressures we still wouldn't be in Black Swan probabilities IMHO. As I said during that very sad summer there is only one way to reduce the risk of another such blow out to Black Swan probabilities: don't drill in the GOM DW...ever. The industry and govt should be honest with the public: if we continue to drill out there then we do so accepting the possibility of another disaster. It might make folks feel more justified (i.e. not responsible if it happens) but a lie is still a lie even if the vast majority chooses to believe it for the sake of their self interest. On my last GOM DW job something went bang in the middle of the night (day actually since I was working the night tower) load enough to wake me up. I step into the hallway with my hard hat in one hand and life jacket in the other. And so did everyone else on my floor. We just waited for an abandon ship alarm. After a bit we went back to sleep. The point being it’s easy to pretend risks don’t exist when it’s not your butt on the line. LOL

Rockman -- I appreciate your unflagging candor and apparent honesty. The Oildrum is one of the only places on the internet that I turn to any more; I can't stand the self-serving nonsense almost everywhere else.

But what am I to make of this:

As I said during that very sad summer there is only one way to reduce the risk of another such blow out to Black Swan probabilities: don't drill in the GOM DW...ever.

Not drilling in risky places, not digging the tar sands, not fracking for shale gas -- that is an existential threat to the hydrocarbon economy.

Are you just throwing that out there for debate, or do you believe we should give up on hydrocarbons?

Or maybe we should just call the GOM and it's adjacent lands and waters and other hydrocarbon areas (including, presumably, the atmosphere)a "sacrifice zone" for the "greater good" of a certain fraction of the human race?

I am confused about where you stand on this. I have my own opinions, of course, but they are irrelevant, since I probably belong in the "anarcho-primitivist" camp. Which doesn't put me in very good company, and which is basically a hypocritical lie, since I live in a nice house and sometimes drive a car, etc.

LNG - You're in good company: I seem to confuse lots of folks. LOL. Two lines of thought: what I would like to see us do and what I think we will do. Seldom do those two lines merge. If they did we would have began serious conservation and alt development at least 30 years ago. And I don't expect us to VOLUNTARIALLY do it in the future. What I expect as oil/NG become in short supply we’ll burn even more coal then we do now. Not what I would LIKE to see happen but what I EXPECT to see.

DW GOM drilling: my personal feelings: don’t drill anywhere offshore; don’t develop the unconventional plays; don’t import any tar sand oil from Canada; don’t import any oil from any foreign source. Why? Simple: I’ll make a lot more money selling my domestic conventional oil/NG. My impartial feelings: develop every energy source we can using the most reasonable environmental policies possible.

The main point I was trying to make is that I’m very tired of the hypocrisy we see everywhere. If folks in NY don’t want wells frac’d up there that’s their choice. But they aren’t protesting frac’ng wells in Texas and having that NG shipped to them: HYPOCRACY. Folks who don’t want any DW GOM drilling yet consume 4X as much energy as the average European: HYPOCRACY. I’m sure you can come up with a dozen more examples. No operation primarily under control by human beings cannot be conducted with zero failures: wells blow out, airliners crash; cars run over small children, cops shot innocent bystanders, doctors leave sponges in patients who then die of infection, etc. We cannot have it both ways. The feds will tell the public they’ve reduced the chance of another Macondo ALMOST to zero. And the public we’ll only hear “zero” because that’s what they want to believe so it relieves them of responsibility. If the public, thru its political leaders, accepts offshore drilling but wants to believe there will never be another Macondo they are being dishonest. And that’s what bother’s the heck out of me: not the decision to drill or not to drill but ignoring the reality of the situation to avoid admitting the potential responsibility for another tragedy. Many years ago there was a young drilling hand that told me the job scared the heck out of him but he really did like the money. I shocked him when instead of being supportive I told him I didn’t want to hear him whine about the job: either give up the paycheck or stop complaining about the risk. If you accept one you accept the other. Just be freaking honest. LOL

Kinda of rambling there so I hope I cleared it up for you. A little more fuzzy headed than usual: on a well in S La. and haven't been to bed since Thursday night. Fortunately the worse accident I could have is falling out of my chair in the company man's trailer. LOL.

The main point I was trying to make is that I’m very tired of the hypocrisy we see everywhere.

Tired maybe, but you have no more objection to making a mint in the process than anyone else currently in the industry. Good for you I might add. Certainly a refreshing change from what other peak oil advocates have become over the years.

Bruce - Heck...not only having no objection but dang proud of it. I do my little bit to provide our country with the energy it desperately needs, make my owner a good profit that allowed him to spend $150 million in the last 2.5 years that went to service companies that provided 100's a good paying jobs to their workers, I make sure we do our best to keep the hands working for me safe, provided tens of $million in royalty checks to land owners (who then pay taxes to the feds), reduced our imbalance of trade by many tens of $millions, provided production taxes in the tens of $millions to the citizens of Texas and La. and last but not least, my owner paid tens of $millions of federal taxes that help fund our social support system.

Unfortunately I’m fairly powerless to make folks conserve our natural resources and stop swapping blood for oil. We are a democracy and thus the majority makes the rules. Or at least elect the politicians that made the rules that got us to where we are today. Like the current administration giving a Clean Air permit to a new coal fired power plant in texas that will burn coal shipped in from Illinois. Other than that…yep…dang proud. And I do like the money a lot now. A lot more money than I was making driving a Yellow Cab in Houston in the 80’s when the govt was happy to let the KSA dump oil below replacement cost and thus drive hundreds of US oil companies out of business and we lost over 400,000 jobs in the oil patch. But that move did allow Americans to use up what resources we had left as if they would be there forever so it wasn’t a total travesty...

Unfortunately I’m fairly powerless to make folks conserve our natural resources and stop swapping blood for oil.

Ultimately, this is the kicker, isn't it? You feed the beast, but the only reason you need to feed the beast is because most people just don't get it. I remember when the Macondo Prospect blowout was going full bore, and everyone was whining and bitching about oil in the water and how awful it was and the ELE it was going to cause, but how many "Stop Using Crude!" marches did we see clogging the streets in DC? To hell with saving the baby seals, how about a decent "Stop Using Fossil Fuels!" protest jamming up the nations capital? A state capital? A local mall?

Thanks Rockman. I guess that means you throw those lines out for debate.

Good for you. I wish there could be something like intelligent discourse other places on the internet or even in newspaper columns. I know that people are smart -- we just aren't smart enough. Tainter complexity will trump our best efforts, I fear.

But it sure is fun to go along for the ride.

If people never lied I would love humanity a lot more. Lies are the worst part of humanity. Unfortunately they are just so useful to certain people that they probably aren't going to disappear. In practice this means that I have to second guess everything which is a colossal pain in the ass.

If people never lied ...

OK. If you insist, let's try a simple experiment right here and now.

Start repeating the following to yourself every 5 minutes:

I will die and fairly soon as compared to geological time.
I will die and fairly soon as compared to geological time.
I will die and fairly soon as compared to geological time.

See? There's the first "lie" you have to start repeating just to go on living in the present sense.

OK. Maybe the above is an extreme for most people and makes them highly uncomfortable. So let's try a less unnerving series of truth-tellings:

I don't look like a movie star and don't perform like a super-athelete.
I don't look like a movie star and don't perform like a super-athelete.
I don't look like a movie star and don't perform like a super-athelete.

You're right. There's a bit of unintellectual vanity in that one, and after all, none of us is vain or subject to any of the other 7 sins. Right?

So instead, let's try something less challenging since we are not great enough to handle the big truths:

It is possible that IQ-wise I am not in the top 10% or even in the top 50%.
It is possible that IQ-wise I am not in the top 10% or even in the top 50%.
It is possible that IQ-wise I am not in the top 10% or even in the top 50%.

That wasn't so bad, was it?
Thank goodness people don't have to lie, ... even to themselves.

Hello step back, I don't really care about the seven deadly sins because I'm not religious. Other than that your post makes a lot of sense. I am going to die relatively soon, I'm not good looking or athletic and it's very possible I'm not in the top 50 percent intelligence wise. I don't really see why I need to repeat those things over and over again sense they are all pretty obvious. There are a lot more subtle ways people lie to themselves. I'm sure a lot of the things I believe about myself right now are delusions which is why I have to second guess everything I believe about myself over and over again. That's a little annoying, but it's the big lies that really annoy me. It's the lies were serious money is involved that I dislike the most. Issues like climate change, resource depleting and the economy. It's issues like this where I might spend hours trying to figure out which side is telling the truth, and in the end come out still not completely sure what the truth is. At this point in time I think I know a few things with a fairly high degree of certainty. Human caused climate change is a real problem, resource depletion is a serious issue that will affect a lot of people in the near future (and it is already affecting people in the present), but there are lots of other things where I still don't have clue who is telling the truth. That is why I wish that there was some kind of mechanism in place that punished people in power who use their power to try and deceive the general public(in other words me and the rest of the hord). I believe that part of the purpose of your post was to point out my own hypocrisy. I am in fact often a liar and a hypocrite even when I'm trying not to be one. That is what I dislike most about myself, and I make real efforts to try and limit those things in myself. Oftentimes I fail, but I still make the effort.

It's the lies were serious money is involved that I dislike the most.


Perhaps you should read more literature on how the human brain works (a.k.a. neuro-science)

When it comes to the "big" lies as you seem to call them, most people are not aware that they are telling unthruths.
This is because they have already re-written the histry and facts in their heads to the point that they truly believe their own BS.

part of the purpose of your post was to point out my own hypocrisy

Not at all.

It was to point out that lying, or more correctly; deceiving ourselves (and I am no better than anyone else in this department) is a necessary condition for allowing us to keep living and keep hoping.

Looks like I misunderstood your point, and I'm sorry about that. Perhaps the conversation can be simplified somewhat by dividing lying up into two categories. Lying with the intent to deceive, and lying without the intent to deceive (in other words delusion). Maybe there is even room for a third category called reckless disregard for the truth which deal with people not even taking the most minimal efforts to become informed about important issues.

... and a 4th category: People making noises without having a f8**ing idea what those noises (words) mean.

I'm not talking about you. So please don't take it that way. What I mean is that in my experience, people go about throwing out all kinds of words (i.e. money, resources, drill baby drill) without having a freaking idea about any of that stuff. The noises just sound good to them; and maybe they get applause from them that hears the speechifying. So the noise makers (i.e. politicians) just keep on making more of the same noise bites in hopes of getting yet more of such positive feedback.

It seems that if you are confident enough at least some people will believe you no matter how full of it you are. This is especially true if you have 'charisma' (whatever that is), and tell people what they want to hear. Unfortunately politicians know this and use it to their advantage. It's never a good thing when bad behavior gets rewarded.

if you are confident enough at least some people will believe you no matter how full of it you are ...
--politicians know this and use it to their advantage

I wouldn't attribute a feeling of "confident" to why politicians do what they do.

Like everybody else, politicians receive an edge-u-cation.

The end goal of that edge-u-cation is to take us lemmings over the edge
--most of us just don't realize that the edge is near and that our respective education is helping us to stampede toward the cliff.

During their edge-u-cation, politicians are taught how to win elections,
how to securitize their positions in our prospering civilization.
That is their specialty.

In an Adam Smith society, each of us small-brained critters has his "specialty".
Some of us critters are trained to do nothing else except to drill for oil.
Others are trained to do nothing else except to sell stocks in the oil company.
Yet others are trained to do nothing else except to stand around in a dealership and sell cars.

So it goes.

If we just keep burrowing our way along, prosperity will be ours.

That's only part of the story.

Part of the story is the people who deliberately misinform others, and buy elections, in order to protect their little corner of the economy.

It's difficult for me to believe that non of the politicians know better, but I suppose it's impossible for me to know for sure what's going on in their heads.

This reminds me of when I talked to a 'motorman' from the oil business a while back. He was surprised when I told him about things which I had learnt about the oil business from posts you had written. However what surprised him the most was when he brought up the deep water horizon BP oil spill. I told him that it wasn't really the fault of the oilmen who went out there, it was the fault of people like me whom asked them to be there in the first place. In the end if you ask people to do risky things don't be surprised if the risk doesn't always play out as you would expect/hope.

Anyway Rockman you have my respect.

S – Much appreciated. It’s difficult not to have very mixed feelings. As I mentioned to Bruce above I’m very satisfied with what me and the oil patch have contributed to society. We don’t “feed the beast” as he describes. We help feed the economy. OTOH what troubles me is what the people do with these resources. I began my career in the 70’s just in time for a first clear indication of resource limitation: the oil embargo which coincided with NG shortage. Until that time I might forgive the public for not seeing the future. But the need to develop a better plan for utilizing our resources was there for any reasonable person to see.

Obviously we’ve been a tad short of reasonable people. LOL. But I can get very p*ssed off in the next breath with operators/hands who take stupid risks (and as a result the environment/people suffer) and the lack of understanding of resource limitations by the public. Like everyone else I see the price the environment pays. But on a more personal level I see the price paid by the the oil patch. I’ve seen the crushed bodies first hand. And almost on a weekly basis I see the stumps, limps and scars. I stopped going to memorial services long ago….couldn’t deal with the widows and their children. I had to deal with my 11 yo daughter’s fears a couple of years ago when her best friend’s father was killed by a pump jack. I had to deal with the grief of one of my hands whose nephew was one of the 11 killed in the BP blow out just two weeks after he buried his adult son who died in a car accident. I also vividly remember the overwhelming fear I experienced once when I thought I was dying from a leak of a poison gas well (actually a very funny story I’ve told before).

Thus when I see the waste and, more importantly, the lack of appreciation for the worsening situation I do feel very frustrated. Add that to a very visceral anger over the willingness to swap blood for oil while refusing to acknowledge it's happening. OTOH the money really is very good now. LOL.

As I mentioned to Bruce above I’m very satisfied with what me and the oil patch have contributed to society. We don’t “feed the beast” as he describes. We help feed the economy.

Oh? And you don't think that the beast IS the economy?

Bruce - The economy is not the "beast" no more than Ford Motor is a "killer" when a drunk runs over a child. The economy is what allows us to live our lives as we do. The "beasts", if you want to continue to use that term, are the American consumers. They are the ones, with the support of almost all their political leadership, that have squandered the last few decades when we could have begun a rational response to future resource limitations. We are not where we are today because of the oil/NG industry, those "damn Arabs", China, those "damn treehuggers", etc. Our situation developed exactly how the public demanded that it go forward.


Is it reasonable to expect the average consumer to have your expertise??

Who's responsibility is it to analyze oil limitations and make the proper plans and recommendations, if not the oil industry?

I wouldn't hold the oil & gas industry rank and file responsible for the misinformation provided by executives...

Similarly, car companies would like you to believe that they just make what people want. But, the role of car companies in shaping public policy is even clearer than for oil companies.

Start with GM tearing up mass transit right after WWII (as documented in court files). Continue with GM's CEO (Charlie "engine" Wilson) as SecDef building the heavily subsidized interstate highway system in the 50's. Follow with intense opposition to strengthening CAFE regulations in the 80's and 90's. Create further delay by killing the Clinton administration push for hybrids (PNGV), and replacing it with the great hydrogen red herring in 2001. Finish by killing the EV-1, RAV-4 EV, etc.

Nick - "Who's responsibility is it to analyze oil limitations and make the proper plans and recommendations, if not the oil industry?" Our responsibility ends at our front door. As I've mentioned before: we ain't the public momma. Our responsibility is solely to the share holders and owners. Beyond that our only responsibility is to follow the laws/regs and pay the correct taxes. The primary responsibility to understand what's going on falls on each individual. And, as you say, not all are experts. Then they are at the least responsible for electing political leaders who can bring experts to bare so proper policies can be developed. Unfortunately the public tends to not elect politicians who take the "proper actions" as you or I might judge but those who promise to fill the public's specific desires.

CEO's spin. Politicians spin. You and I spin. As long as no lies are told that's everyone's right. Might not be constructive but that's how everyone does it. And everything you imply about lobbyist is true. But your own words still lay the responsibility at the feet of the political system. the same system supported by our citizens.

Our responsibility ends at our front door.

Respectfully, I disagree. The industry has a responsibility to warn the rest of society of incoming problems. If not you (by which I mean your bosses), then who?

Clearly your bosses agree - look at the intense advertising campaigns by the oil & gas and coal industries. They frame that advertising as "informing the public".

we ain't the public momma.

Sure. But the industry has the responsibility to warn the public momma, so that momma can do something. Further, the industry has a reponsibility to not disable the public momma with campaign contributions, advertising and intense lobbying.

As long as no lies are told that's everyone's right.

Exactly right. And.......oil industry executives have gone to great lengths to lie to the public and the government "momma" (e.g., Exxon/Mobil's disinformation advertising campaign, and Dick Cheney's secret energy planning meetings). That's not your fault. It's the responsibility of the people at the top. They have a responsibility to not lie to the public and to monitors like the EIA and IEA.


Nick - "The industry has a responsibility " And exactly who assigned this responsibility to us? You? You don't have that right any more than I have the right to assign some specific responsibility to you.

"But the industry has the responsibility to warn the public momma". Again, how did we inherit that responsibility? Am I responsible to make you understand PO? I don't think so and I doubt many here think so either. It's your responsibility...not ours. But that doesn't mean we can't make such efforts. But that would be voluntary on our part...not a requirement. You see my input on TOD...do you think I have an obligation to do so? That would make one of us. I don't have any responsibility to you or the TOD collective. I do it just because I'm a dang nice guy. LOL.

"oil industry executives have gone to great lengths to lie" OK: name 3 specific lies that you can prove. And disagreeing with some company's spin doesn't count...that's not a lie. You, me and everyone else spins.

"They have a responsibility to not lie to the public and to monitors like the EIA and IEA." Yes...I agree. Now go ahead...I'm waiting for the 3 lies.

exactly who assigned this responsibility to us?

Clearly your bosses have accepted it- look at the intense advertising campaigns by the oil & gas and coal industries. They frame that advertising as "informing the public".

name 3 specific lies that you can prove.

Exxon/Mobil has been saying loudly and repeatedly that neither PO or Climate Change are important. Right??

And disagreeing with some company's spin doesn't count...that's not a lie.

Of course it is.


"Poor Exxon. They used to be the oil company that everybody loved to hate. This spawn of the Standard Oil breakup had it all: Obscene profits, the Exxon Valdez, a mean CEO who sneered at clean energy, blatant funding for climate deniers.

But now, the new ExxonMobil is just not that special anymore.

It turns out that all the big oil companies are buying elections, paying front-groups to spread lies about climate change and dumping their tiny investments in clean energy while continuing to put out soft-focus ads touting how green and socially responsible they are. And they just don’t seem to care that much about preventing oil spills either.

In these days of peak greed, you have to drill pretty deep in the oil patch to find the worst of the worst.

A real gusher

Well, after coming up with a bunch of dry holes, the environmental and government-reform movements seem to have found the activist equivalent of Old Spindletop: Charles and David Koch."

See http://transitionvoice.com/2011/02/more-reasons-to-hate-the-koch-brothers/

you both point out that a certain amount of weight for the responsibility is carried by all sides..

wishy washy but fair.

Both the suppliers and end users have a responsibility to inform the public and reach out for a understanding of the products they use at the level of the individual.

Money means washing one's hands of all responsibilities.

As long as each of us gets his or her "money", it's all good.

Beyond that our only responsibility is to follow the laws/regs and pay the correct taxes.

Funny --but not in a ha ha way-- more so in an Aha / Boo-who way.

See my discussion upthread with Binder re why politicians do what they do.

Why any of us does what he or she does.

Bruce - The economy is not the "beast" no more than Ford Motor is a "killer" when a drunk runs over a child. The economy is what allows us to live our lives as we do. The "beasts", if you want to continue to use that term, are the American consumers.

Sure they are. And they create the economy, a function of which is making sure that you keep doing your job, and finding them more oil. You are more directly responsible for "feeding the beast" then many others here. And good for you.

The economy is what allows us to live our lives as we do.

The economy is what allows them that deserves more to get their just deservihoods

and them that don't deserve much to get as little as possible.

there is only one way to reduce the risk of another such blow out to Black Swan probabilities: don't drill in the GOM DW

Rockman, I agree with most everything you have said, but we are not going to stop drilling the GOM until we have a cheaper source of reliable energy. In the mean time there is an alternate way to reduce the consequences of a blowout. Design, manufacture and have standing by equipment that can reliably collect most oil and gas from a blowout while the well is being plugged.

Bill - You have the same bad habit I'm always trying to overcome. LOL. Don 't try to interpret between the line. Maybe I should elaborate more but I'm a slow typer. I didn't say we shouldn't or wouldn't drill offshore. Kinda of like never dying in an airplane crash is real easy: never fly in an airplane. Given the amount of drilling we do in such extreme conditions we do have a pretty good safety record IMHO. But not perfect and never will be. Always room for improvement. Just look at the morning news today: a grounded oil tanker on the coast of New Zealand may split open soon. NZ is known to be one of the most environmentally countries on the planet. But sh*t still happens...even there.

I just spent the weekend on a well in S. La. going over safety on our final casing run. I've done this for 36 years and both my well site hands have been doing it even longer. But none of us take anything for granted. I had to abort a procedure early Sunday morning that some less experience hand might not have. Losing a radioactive source almost 3 miles underground would have ruined the weekend. LOL. When lost we can usually recover it...but not always.

I have no doubt we'll continue drilling offshore. As we slide down the PO trail they'll demand it. But, again, that's my point: no matter what safeguards are taken there will be more spills offshore. If drilling is allowed than the public needs to accept this decision is the first domino in another potential Macondo.

Looks very interesting. One challenge for their approach is that the concept of complexity is a slippery one. Ask the Santa Fe Institute or the Discovery Institute or a person on the street what complexity is and you'll get very different answers. At best you can make a precise definition that only applies to a small class of systems. Any definition broad enough to encompass oil drilling operations and civilizations is bound to be pretty loose. Using definitions from common usage, there are complex systems that are highly reliable (a microprocessor might be a good example) and complex systems with low energy throughput (some cave ecosystems come to mind). What seems to determine resiliance more than simply complexity is the amount of evolution (or testing) done in the presence of the destructive events that exist in the system's environment. This suggests rapid change rather that just complexity itself is a root cause of lack of resiliance.

This suggests rapid change rather that just complexity itself is a root cause of lack of resiliance.

Good point!

For example, how often do our PCs become unstable due to constant unwanted automatic updates?!

I've learned to be very selective as to what I update on my own computers, I don't allow any automatic updates if I can avoid it!

If you want to get right down to it, there is good evidence to show that rapid climate changes were a crucial element in driving the early evolution of the human race.


But considering the whole 'survival of the fittest' thing, I'd prefer not to be part of the process.

I have a complaint
Live healthy and eat right- sounds simple, but it’s not. I read TOD for petroleum and energy issues, not food rants. Neither I, aangel nor Gary Taubes know what is the best diet for long term health. Surely people with different genotypes do better with different diets, and age and exercise level must make big differences. The best diet for a person in her twenties is not likely to be best in her sixties or when pregnant. The pontifications of Taubes and Robert Lustig must be taken with a grain of salt; they won't wait for experiments to confirm their ideas. Lustig says that the Japanese diet and the Atkins diet are similar, both lacking fructose- if you visit Japan, you will not agree. Japanese fruit consumption is significant; few consume high fructose corn syrup (I try to avoid it). The traditional Japanese diet is not high in fats. Japan is unique among developed countries in that coronary heart disease mortality has been low and has continued to decline, while stroke mortality has declined substantially, both of these in spite of increasing obesity and some adoption of Western diets. Coronary heart disease incidence has increased among urban men but not women in the last 15 years.
You should look at what Americans have been eating during the last 40 years when we’ve had such a dreadful increase in obesity, diabetes, etc. Download the Excel spreadsheet from the USDA economic research service, from 1970-2009, at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodConsumption/FoodGuideSpreadsheets.htm#c...
It shows that total calories consumed increased 19.6% from 1970-2009, fat consumption increased 45% and flour/cereal product consumption increased 43%, with a 9% increase in consumption of caloric sweeteners. Vegetable consumption fell, meat, eggs, nuts & dairy consumption remained essentially constant.

In reality, there are downsides to diets high in fat, carbohydrate or protein. High fat diets promote short-term weight loss better for most people, they also increase inflammatory markers in the blood, which is worrisome (only short term data available). Probably some of us should follow high carb, others high fat, still others high protein diets based on our genotypes and exercise habits, but there are no long-term studies available to resolve this issue. It’s very difficult to get people to stay on a particular diet for 3-4 years and to randomize subjects between different diets. I think that the Okinawan and traditional Mediterranean diets are healthier than high fat diets but there are no valid long-term comparisons. I’m a neurologist, not a nutritionist; experimental data show that none of the vitamins gobbled by Americans improve longevity or reduce the risk of late life dementia (contrary to expectations from observational studies); those with hypertension in their 70s are less likely to be demented, if alive, at age 90 than those with “normal blood pressure”. If you want a bigger and better brain, exercise will do more for you than any dietary intervention known today.

So leave the diet and health preaching for other blogs

Because Gail herself brought up the subject, I've allowed the thread to go on. Otherwise, I'd say it's marginally related to the article and would cut it off.

Best to all,

I'm not a nutritionist either, but I have had some courses in the field and have read several books written by the pros.

It is not possible to really understand nutrition in any terms that do not take into account Darwinian evolution.

We have bodies designed to operate as omnivores, and a few million or maybe more years of evolution behind us during which nature worked, blindly but surely, to refine the general design.

During the last few thousands of years we have been evolving to live satisfactorily on what is essentially manufactured food-crops and animals raised under conditions mostly of our choosing.

Those few thousand years have been enough to allow most of us adequate time to adapt, but a few of us are behind the curve.

Objectively speaking, Mother Nature only designed us to live long enough to see the next, or next two, generations launched successfully.

Anytime we have past our late twenties to early thirties is mostly a gift from the gods of technology-fire, shelter, farmed food.

If you want to live forever, research your diet meticulously.

If you want to do your mandated thing,and check out, you can eat damn near anything to excess and get by with doing so, most of the time, until a "hard winter" comes along, because you only need to live thirty years or so.

So enjoy your chips and beer, or enjoy a shot at an older, more functional end of life scenario.You earn the second choice by living on "rabbit food"-anything handy with enough basic nutrients to maintain daily living functions.

You toss it away by living on booze, eating to excess, getting rid of your snowshovel, and exercising only for the fun of it.

In a nutshell, that's all folks.

A bit touchy, are we?

No one is preaching anything. I put out links for people to see for themselves. I also have to chuckle at your complaint while noting that you seem to have watched the videos instead of simply passing the comment by — then proceeded to add your own thoughts on the matter. You are aware that you don't have to click on every link, right? And you don't actually have to join the conversation, either?

Besides, The Oil Drum used to have articles that ranged far and wide on topics that were related to oil depletion. Of course you've been a member for only 1 day so you may not know that. How to eat healthy in the world that is approaching is very pertinent (unless you think that a broken medical system combined with a nation with an epidemic of diabetes isn't an issue), though not to this post, of course, which is why I added a few interesting links and no more.