Drumbeat: October 10, 2011

Energy Security in Uncertain Times

Q. Where in the world do you see the greatest risks for energy companies and for national energy strategies?

A. The Middle East and North Africa region already are responsible for around 35 percent of the world’s oil output and, more importantly, they are being looked upon to meet the vast bulk of the expected future growth. The recent turmoil has added to uncertainty about the pace of investment in the region’s upstream industry, how quickly production capacity will expand and, given rising domestic energy needs, how much of the expected increase in supply will be available for export. Our 2011 World Energy Outlook, to be presented Nov. 9, will look at the implications of any possible shortfall in upstream investment in the Middle East and North Africa countries. Meanwhile the events at Fukushima this year raised serious questions about the longer-term prospects for nuclear power in Japan and elsewhere. We will also use our 2011 Outlook to examine the implications of any reduction in nuclear investment. Such a reduction would certainly make it more difficult for the world to meet the goal of stabilizing the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Centigrade.

Tax Overhaul in Russia Aims to Keep Country at Top of Oil-Producing Heap

MOSCOW — Vladimir V. Putin has shown an uncanny mastery of the politics and economics of oil. On his watch as president and prime minister, Russia ascended to the top of the global business, surpassing Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer.

Yet in a series of meetings over the past two years, more or less, aides have confronted Mr. Putin with evidence that Russia’s pre-eminence in the world of oil will not last if the current imposition of exceptionally high taxes on oil companies is left in place over the next decade.

In Brazil, Energy Finds Put Country at a Whole New Power Level

“Petrobras is engaged in by far the biggest industrial undertaking in Brazil’s history,” said Norman Gall, director of the Fernand Braudel Institute of World Economics in São Paulo.

Mr. Gall said Petrobras’s annual spending, estimated at more than $45 billion through 2020, might surpass NASA’s budget in the 1960s — when it was preparing to send a man to the moon.

A White-Hot Future for Oil and Gas

BRUSSELS — Opportunities in oil and natural gas have rarely been so bountiful. New finds and technological advances and fresh access to some countries are pushing exploration and production into areas once considered peripheral.

Some of the most promising new fields are in deep water off the coast of Brazil. Experts say they could yield as much oil as the North Sea. There have been significant strikes off the coast of French Guiana, north of Brazil, and off Ghana in West Africa.

In Uncertain Times, a Need for Stability

Whether we consider economic or political factors, reading the new energy map of 2011 is difficult. Political instability in the oil exporting countries of the Middle East and North Africa has led to changes in governments, new political actors and, in some cases, a temporary suspension of oil producing and exporting activities.

This year’s outlook has also been complicated by the tsunami in Japan and the ensuing Fukushima nuclear crisis. We don’t know what will happen to the share of nuclear power in the global energy mix. But it is clear that its future expansion is now in question.

China Marches on With Nuclear Energy, in Spite of Fukushima

Meltdowns of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan last March have put a chill on much of the world’s nuclear power industry — but not in China.

After Fukushima, Does Nuclear Power Have a Future?

A couple of months after the catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant March 11, an American nuclear expert posed an interesting question.

“The post-Fukushima public sentiment is surprisingly low-key isn’t it? What a difference between this event and TMI or Chernobyl,” he wrote in an e-mail, using an abbreviation for the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. “What do you think is going on? Why so quiet?”

Robert L. Hirsch: Weak world GDP growth & “peak oil”

Because of the myriad of variables, the timing of the onset of the decline of world oil production cannot be predicted with certainty. In the early 2000’s when we began our world oil production studies, we thought that future world oil production might peak sharply, similar to U.S. production, which sharply peaked in 1970. After all, “peak oil” implies a sharp peak. As we continued our studies, it became obvious that a sharp peak scenario was not necessarily the most likely. In particular, the pattern displayed by European oil production — a fluctuating production plateau before decline, became the most likely pattern (Figure 1).

Was Wall Street to blame for high oil prices?

Back in 2008, when the price of oil was zooming up to $140 per barrel, there was a lot of chatter about whether Wall Street deserved the blame. And that debate hasn’t vanished. Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) cited a report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as proof that “Wall Street speculators dominated the oil futures market.” Economists like Paul Krugman, meanwhile, have argued that supply and demand were the chief culprits. Oil was getting pricier because China, India and Brazil kept using more and more of it, and production couldn’t keep up. So who was right?

Mobile Bay gas production still shut in

ExxonMobil's natural gas production in Mobile Bay offshore Alabama remains shut three weeks after a salt water pipe rupture, the company said on Monday according to a report.

Platts: OPEC Output Drops to 30 MMbpd in Sept

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil production declined by 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 30 million bpd in September, due mainly to lower volumes from Saudi Arabia and sabotage-hit Nigeria, a just-released Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts showed.

The drops in Saudi and Nigerian output, along with other small dips in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran, more than offset increases totaling 150,000 bpd from Angola, Libya and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia keeps Nov crude to Asia, Europe steady

SINGAPORE/LONDON: Saudi Arabia will keep the crude oil supply volume to its Asian and European customers in November steady from October, sources said, ahead of the northern hemisphere winter and as Libyan oil exports edge back to the market.

L.A. gasoline spikes on shut Conoco unit - trade

(Reuters) - Los Angeles wholesale gasoline differentials rose 13 cents a gallon on Monday after ConocoPhillips shut a unit at its 139,000-barrels-per-day refinery in Wilmington, California, traders said.

Nigeria blast leads to Shell force majeure

An explosion at a pipeline in Nigeria has led Shell to declare force majeure on some crude oil exports from the country for almost three months.

Gunvor cuts share Russia seaborne oil exports-paper

(Reuters) - Influential oil trader Gunvor has cut its share of Russia's seaborne oil exports to less than 20 percent, one of the firm's founders told business daily Vedomosti on Monday.

Founded 14 years ago, Geneva-based Gunvor used to handle about 30 percent of Russia's seaborne oil exports.

Kazakh port loads crude for delivery to Iran -trade

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A cargo of crude oil is loading in Aktau and destined to be the first delivery from a Kazakh port to an Iranian port in nearly 18 months, trade sources said on Monday.

Traders said the Russian-origin crude oil was purchased for delivery into Iran's Caspian port of Neka by international trade house Vitol, which is likely to use it as part of a physical swap operation against Iranian-origin crude in the Middle East Gulf.

Can Big Oil Survive Russian Roulette?

The Quest comes precisely 20 years after Yergin's prize-winning The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, whose reception obviously had nothing to do with its title. I can't predict the composition of the author's next energy book. Neither, I'm certain, can he, even as the co-founder and chairman of Boston's Cambridge Energy Research Associates. But I'll hazard a guess that the next book will be available in far fewer than two decades and that the events of just the past few weeks will virtually guarantee that it will deal with dicey and dangerous geopolitical occurrences.

Ecuador Seeks $504 Million From Conoco In Arbitration Counterclaim

QUITO -(Dow Jones)- Ecuador's government has filed two counterclaims against a ConocoPhillips' (COP) subsidiary for a total of $504 million as part of its defense strategy in an arbitration claim, the country's attorney general said Monday.

Light bulbs to light rail: the essentials of energy in the 21st century

When Daniel Yergin published his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power" in 1991, China was not a factor in the world oil market.

Since then, China has urbanized at a speed and scale the world has never seen, developing buildings, powerplants, roads and high-speed rail. That’s just one of the major changes that have occurred in the 21st century that have radically reshaped our geopolitical future and our global scramble for oil.

Yemen: Thousands of women demonstrate, dozens injured

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Days after a prominent Yemeni human rights activist became the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, dozens of women were injured after gangs attacked during a march in her honor, witnesses in the city of Taiz said Monday.

Thousands of women gathered in the southern Yemeni city to celebrate Tawakkol Karman's honor Sunday. Demonstrators also called on the international community to support a revolution in Yemen, witnesses said.

Death toll rises in Egypt Christian clashes as tension continues

Cairo (CNN) -- The number of dead in clashes between the army and pro-Coptic Christian protesters in Egypt over the weekend rose to at least 25, with at least 272 wounded, a Health Ministry official told CNN Monday.

Reports indicated the death toll could be as high as 29 in violence that an army spokesman speculated may have been guided by a "hidden hand" associated with neither side.

Opposition group: 31 die in clashes across Syria

(CNN) -- At least 31 people were killed during clashes in numerous Syrian cities Sunday, an opposition activist group said Monday.

The dead included 14 civilians and 17 members of the army and security forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tens of civilians and members of the military were wounded, the group said.

Libya Output May Over 600,000 B/D By Year End - Oil Head

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Libya is now producing 400,000 barrels of oil a day, a quarter of its prewar level, a figure that may rise above 600,000 barrels by year end, the country's oil chief said Monday, as the war-torn nation boosts output faster than expected.

In an interview, Nuri Berruien, chairman of the country's National Oil Company, said "we expect more than 600,000 barrels a day...hopefully" by year end.

Libyan official: Gadhafi may be hiding in desert

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – A representative of Libya's ethnic Tuareg group said he believes Moammar Gadhafi is hiding in the southwestern desert near the borders with Niger and Algeria.

Abductions force Nigerian oil strikes

Kidnappings and continued insecurity have led oil workers in Nigeria to down tools for three days as an indefinite strike is threatened.

Iraq's Shahristani retains hard line on Kurdish oil

OSLO (Reuters) - Iraq's deputy prime minister said on Monday oil contracts signed by Iraqi Kurdistan's regional government must be rewritten and that recent government payments to international producers in the region in no way validate the contracts.

Do oil companies need a belly rub?

In the United States, natural gas is cheap. Often, drilling gas costs more than its selling price. According to drillers in the state of North Dakota, that is why they simply flare off the gas that they find while developing the richest U.S. oilfields in decades -- they can't afford to pipe the gas to market. As a result, the drillers in the Bakken Shale are getting unfavorable publicity.

Hearings on controversial oil sands pipeline end

WASHINGTON -- With the formal debate over on Friday, a decision on an oil pipeline that will cross America's heartland and open up a greater market for Canada's oil sands now rests with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Centurion Pipeline says crude line restarted after leak

(Reuters) - Centurion Pipeline L.P., a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum has restarted a 350,000 bpd crude oil line shut down on Friday after a ditch digger hit the line, a company spokesman said on Monday.

Companies deny blame for sheen

Exxon Mobil said it had no reason to believe an oil sheen on the Yellowstone River in Montana came from its Billings refinery, but it had moved to contain the oil to minimize any environmental impact, a report said Monday.

Energy Department Fights to Keep Solar Patents in U.S. Hands

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to prevent one of Evergreen Solar Inc.’s solar panel manufacturing techniques from ending up in the hands of its Chinese competitors—a group that’s blamed for crippling the U.S. renewable-energy market.

Agency officials want to place a legal grip on Evergreen Solar’s patented technology, which is destined for the bankruptcy auction block along with the rest of the Massachusetts solar-panel company’s factory equipment.

Scant CO2 Benefit from China’s Coal-Powered Electric Cars

Much has been made of China’s big push to build and deploy 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2015. The move will help cut smog and oil imports. Less has been made of the scant impact this is likely to have on the country’s emissions of carbon dioxide, given its enduring reliance on coal for most of its electricity.

Fast Charging Electric Cars

How long will it take until we can charge our electric cars in the same amount of time it takes to fill the tank?

Some say never, some say it'll be decades.

Neither are very realistic as fast-charging stations that charge electric vehicles in 20 minutes already exist.

Lessons from a surprise bike town

Thirty years ago, local bicyclists would have howled with laughter at the idea of Minneapolis being named America’s best bike city. It was a frustrating and dangerous place to bike, crisscrossed by freeways and arterial streets that felt like freeways. Drivers were openly hostile to bike riders, some of them going the extra step to scare the daylights out of us as they roared past. Bike lanes were practically non-existent.

But Minneapolis also had the makings of a great bike town—in part, as Dorian Grilley of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota noted, due to a “150-year tradition of civic involvement” that preserved the land bikers use today. In the late 19th century, city fathers wisely preserved land along lakes, creeks and the Mississippi River for public use. These became popular places to bike in the 1890s and again, eighty years later, when the second bike boom hit town. Grassroots activists convinced political leaders to take the bold step of developing abandoned rail lines as bike trails rather than as condos or industrial zones.

Are Bike Rentals a Success? Depends Who You Ask

As my Paris colleagues Steven Erlanger and Maïa de la Baume noted two years ago, there have indeed been an awful lot of problems: bikes stolen and shipped overseas, thrown into the river or mutilated by disaffected youths while still in the rack, to name some of the biggest.

It’s not uncommon to show up at a Vélib station expecting to grab a ride, only to find every single bike unusable.

How Germany became Europe’s green leader: A look at four decades of sustainable policymaking

Over the last 40 years, all levels of government in Germany have retooled policies to promote growth that is more environmentally sustainable. Germany’s experiences can provide useful lessons for the United States (and other nations) as policymakers consider options for “green” economic transformation. Our analysis focuses on four case studies from Germany in the areas of energy, urban infrastructure, and transportation. We show how political challenges to the implementation of green policies were overcome and how sustainability programs were made politically acceptable at the local, state, and federal levels of government. Within the three highlighted sectors, we identify potential opportunities and barriers to policy transfer from Germany to the United States, concluding with specific lessons for policy development and implementation.

Report Sees Tight Global Cereal Markets

For some Americans, fall is traditionally a season of celebrating the harvest and anticipating a groaning Thanksgiving table. Globally, it’s also the time of year for some important reports on cereal markets and food security.

Chemical low

Our profligacy with and waste of phosphorous causes substantial environmental pollution, helping to create “dead zones” in coastal waters and degrading freshwater ecosystems. It also helps to give Morocco political leverage over other nations, making its partial occupation of Western Sahara more secure (the United States, an enthusiastic support of the occupation, has included phosphorous in its list of rare elements crucial to its national security, according to Elser and Bennett).

Better use of this valuable resource would help not only the environment and global food security, but also the cause of justice and regional stability, by making the world just a little less desperately dependent on a resource controlled in large part by an aggressive expansionist power whose occupation of a neighbouring territory is an obstacle to peace and development in the Maghreb.

Revisiting the Global Food Crisis

Another new report has just become available on the subject of world hunger, and it may frustrate some readers. The new edition of State of Food Insecurity in the World, an annual report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, does not actually estimate the number of hungry people across the globe.

A `realistic’ answer to the ecological crisis

One of the most compelling points to come out of What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism is that it is not enough simply to reduce emissions and move to renewable energy as quickly as possible. If we want to avoid crossing practically all of the nine planetary boundaries (from catastrophic climate change to ocean acidification to loss of fresh water to biodiversity loss), a major change in the way our society functions has to be effected. We have to move to a system based on non-growth: a “steady-state” economy.

But is it possible to have a capitalist economic system that does not grow?

Faith communities work toward sustainability at Michigan conference

For the seventh time total and the first time since 2008, members of the faith community from across Michigan had the opportunity to hear experts on topics such as creating an earth care team in a congregation; what most religious traditions, including Pope Benedict VI, teach on climate stewardship; what peak oil is; how to make your church more energy efficient; the state of renewable energy;, success stories from congregations; and energy efficiency legislation at the state and federal level.

Kurt Cobb: Destroying dreams the peak oil way

It is with some trepidation that I prepare for a trip that includes an appearance before college students who generally find the idea of peak oil so disturbing that they do not want to even hear about it. And, I can't blame them. They must think that I have come to destroy their dreams, dreams premised on a future of ever expanding material prosperity and career advancement.

Egypt erupts in violence

CAIRO, Egypt — At least 24 people were killed during clashes between Egyptian security forces and several hundred protesters, mostly Coptic Christians, in central Cairo on Sunday, in one of the bloodiest street battles since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.

The intensity and scope of the violence in downtown Cairo — which left more than 150 injured and included at least one army vehicle plowing into a crowd of protesters — underscored the fragility of Egypt’s security in the run-up to parliamentary elections next month.

Energy Poverty Seen as History at IEA for $48 Billion a Year

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s entire population can have electricity and cleaner stoves by 2030 if $48 billion is invested each year, the International Energy Agency said in its first estimate of the cost to end energy poverty.

The sum is about the same as the combined annual capital spend of Europe’s two biggest oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, and five times the $9.1 billion that was invested in 2009 to boost energy access in developing nations. There are 1.3 billion people, or 20 percent of the world population, living without electricity and 2.7 billion that lack clean cooking facilities, the IEA said.

Oil Rises a Fourth Day as Europe Pledges to Contain Debt, U.S. Gains Jobs

Oil climbed for a fourth day in New York as investors bet that fuel demand may increase after a pledge by European leaders to contain the region’s sovereign- debt crisis.

Futures rose as much as 2.1 percent after the biggest weekly gain in seven months. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave themselves three weeks to stamp out the European crisis, causing the euro to gain against the dollar. U.S. employers added more workers in September than forecast, a report showed Oct. 7. OPEC is likely to keep oil output targets unchanged when it meets in December, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, an Iranian representative to the group, said yesterday.

Aramco: Oil prices still healthy to support investment-CNBC

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Crude prices are still healthy enough to support investment, Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Khalid Al Falih told CNBC on Monday, adding that Saudi Arabia has plenty of spare oil producing capacity.

States where drivers pay the least for gasoline

Gas prices are falling. In fact, they’ve declined to lows not seen in months. Concerns of yet another global recession have caused oil prices to drop, and with them, gas prices. In the U.S., prices of regular unleaded gasoline have fallen more than 50 cents per gallon since May, when the cost hovered near $4.00. Still, gas prices vary widely between states — from $4.24 a gallon in Hawaii to $3.13 in Missouri, according to AAA. 24/7 Wall St. set out to find the states with the lowest gas prices and the possible reasons behind them.

OPEC Likely to Agree to Keep Output Target Unchanged, Iran’s Khatibi Says

OPEC’s members are likely to decide to keep their output target for oil unchanged when they meet in December, Iran’s representative to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said.

Producers and consumers are satisfied with the current price level for crude, Iran’s Governor to OPEC Mohammad Ali Khatibi said, according to Shana, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s news website. “The situation is such that most OPEC members are expected to agree with maintaining the current level of oil production,” Khatibi said.

Kuwait customs strike, threaten oil exports

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwaiti exports and imports were disrupted Monday as over 3,000 customs officers went on strike demanding better pay and threatening to halt oil exports, a trade union official said.

Tanker Safety Risks Are Rising Following Plunge in Rates, Ship Owners Say

A collapse in oil-tanker rates to the lowest level in at least 14 years is increasing the risk of spills because it may encourage some owners to spend less on safety, Tsakos Energy Navigation Inc. and BW Group Ltd. said.

Marcellus Shale Driller Wants Approval to Export Natural Gas

PENNSYLVANIA (WENY) – An energy company wants federal approval to export liquefied natural gas.

Virginia-based Dominion Resources wants to export a billion cubic feet a day through its terminal in Maryland.

A company spokesman says Dominion is seeking approval because the nation's natural gas supply is surging, but domestic demand is low.

Korea National Oil to Boost Acquisitions as Industry Slump Cuts Valuations

Korea National Oil Corp., South Korea’s most acquisitive company this year, plans to resume buying overseas assets after a six-month hiatus as a slump in the oil and gas industry makes valuations attractive.

Russia says no China gas deal planned on Putin visit

Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has no plans to sign a gas pricing deal with China during a visit that will start on Oct. 11, a senior government official said on Monday.

Japan official upbeat on oil renewal

Japan, Abu Dhabi's biggest oil customer, is optimistic that its concessions will be renewed and possibly extended to new blocks after talks yesterday with top officials.

Gazprom Eyes European, Asian Electricity Markets

Gazprom, in talks with Germany's RWE on a joint venture in European power generation, is also looking at Asian markets and independent moves in Europe through its power unit.

Venezuelan heavy oil: China's persistence is finally paying off (III)

One reason for China's deepening influence in Venezuela is that PDVSA ‘s president and energy minister, Rafael Ramirez , is no longer alone in insisting that PDVSA's level of production has to rise. President Chavez now seems to have gotten behind the need to increase national production. If the price of oil falls significantly (many feel six months at an average of $60/barrel would be ruinous) and PDVSA's exports per day have not risen to compensate, Venezuela will be in real trouble. Venezuela is extraordinarily dependent on imported goods, from food to machinery for which dollars are needed; and it also must keep up payments to foreign bond holders, for which a steady stream of dollars are also needed.

Govt has sufficient income despite lower Petronas contribution

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will have more than sufficient income to run the economy despite lower contribution from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) next year.

The national oil company is expected to pay some RM28bil in dividend to the government, a reduction of RM2bil it used to pay every year.

Foreign firms quietly return to Libya's oil rich east

Foreign companies are quietly returning to Libya's oil fields east of Sirte, deploying skeleton teams to an area of the hydrocarbon-rich basin near the Jakhira oasis, where almost a quarter of a million barrels of crude per day was pumped into pipelines bound for the coast before the war.

Crude is on a fracking record pace

Frequent readers, if any, of this column will be familiar with my enthusiasm for advanced biofuels – liquid transportation fuels made from the biomass of non-food plants and various forms of organic waste. Before I tell you about some significant new progress in that area, let me give you an update from the dark side – Big Oil is doing just fine.

Siberia Court Overturns Wide-ranging Searches Of BP Russia Operations

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- A Siberian court has overturned wide-ranging searches of BP PLC's (BP.LN) Russian operations, a victory for BP in a $4.8 billion lawsuit brought by minority shareholders in its Russian joint venture, the court and plaintiffs' lawyers confirmed Monday.

Pressure Builds on BP Over Strategy

BP is still all at sea a year after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, several leading investors believe, putting pressure on management to improve strategy or go.

The oil giant is due to report its third quarter results on October 25, which are expected to be weak as the company strives to restructure after the disastrous spill.

Post oil: Glimpses of life after fossil fuel

Contentious debates about "peak oil" aside, imagining how the world looks post oil is increasingly easy as alternatives to fossil fuel develop rapidly.

When subsidies are not on the level

Adnan Amin, the director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, talks to The National about the global economy and how subsidies for fossil fuels are hurting solar.

Huhne will use Fukushima report to revive nuclear programme

The government is expected this week to try to use a post-Fukushima green light from Britain's chief nuclear safety inspector to inject momentum into its stuttering nuclear power and anti-climate-change programmes.

With a boost from Ohio researchers, aviation biofuels prepare to launch

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Outside Bilal Bomani's greenhouse on the NASA Glenn Research Center campus, jets on the glide path to nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport hum in the cloudy morning sky.

Inside the muggy greenhouse, sprouting from bubbling salt-water tanks the size of bathtubs, are strange, finger-like, oil-rich plants that may soon power those aircraft, and launch a new era in flight.

GE to Invest $115 Million With Greenko in India Wind-Farm Project

General Electric Co. (GE), the world’s third-biggest supplier of wind turbines, announced its first investment in Indian renewable energy generation with plans to build $115 million of wind farms with Greenko Group Plc. (GKO)

Ethiopia Says Global Concerns Over Hydro Plan Won’t Hurt Funding

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he doesn’t expect international concerns over the country’s hydroelectric program to hurt financing plans.

“Because we are funding most of our projects from our own resources, it should not affect it,” Zenawi said today in an interview in Oslo.

Greener tourism? It's a jungle out there

Interested in making your holiday greener and more sustainable, ensuring that local people get a fair cut of the money you've handed over, and that no rivers are being dried up or forests felled to accommodate your trip? Congratulations – for being in a well-meaning minority.

Climate crime is beggaring our children

Climate change at present remains a mere tax, a speed hump perfunctorily negotiated on the way to work.

Peak oil is certainly a pinch at the pump, but not yet the impending collapse of a type of civilisation.

Instead, smiling politicians still pander, post-2008, to the leveraged material expectations of the most privileged age group in history, the baby-boomers.

Green Europe Imperiled by Carbon Collapse

The European sovereign debt crisis that’s spread from Greece to Italy and is roiling the region’s banks now has another potential victim: energy policy.

Richard Branson calls for greener tax regime

Sir Richard Branson has called on world leaders to drive a green economic recovery, warning that without measures to drive greater investment in renewable energy the global economy is heading for "the mother of all recessions".

Time nears for a different approach

The final talks over extending an agreement to keep harmful emissions in check come next month. Others say it is already too late, but a solution could be found in the private sector.

Zimbabwe: Famine in Somalia Is Africa's Wake-Up Call

Climate change and global warming do not provide favours for poor people, especially the rural folk. They pile misery on agricultural productivity and increase the frequency and severity of droughts that jeorpadise food production and security.

The effects of climate change on agriculture are painful.

Lawmakers confronting cold reality for pricey icebreakers

WASHINGTON — Climate change is melting parts of the ice-locked Northwest Passage. China is building its first modern icebreaker in hopes of staking claims to Arctic waters. Frigid polar regions are opening up to increased shipping traffic, scientific exploration and tourism.

Yet the United States is so short of icebreakers capable of navigating those still-unpredictable waters that since 2007, it has made the annual supply run to McMurdo Station, the American research outpost in Antarctica, with a ship leased from Sweden.

I Wuz Wrong!

It was about a year ago, maybe two, that the subject was brought up on this list, about when would the MSM and the general public would become generally aware of peak oil. I said it would be very soon. Leanan said something to the effect of "probably never". I simply could not agree then with this prognosis. But I wuz wrong, now I do agree and here's why.

We all know about price, supply and demand. As demand goes up but supply does not, then the price goes up, killing demand, until supply equals demand. But now I have figured out that there is a fourth factor in this scenario, the economy. It works like this. When supply is maxed out but so has the people's ability to pay higher prices for oil then the economy declines, killing demand until demand equals supply.

The recession continues, everyone blames the President, or Congress, or Big Banks, or Wall Street, or whomever. No one except a few peak oil aware people are aware of the true cause. That is that oil, the lifeblood of the economy, has peaked. Without more oil at an affordable price the economy cannot grow. We have reached the end of growth. The end of growth is the beginning of collapse. Everyone will blame their favorite scapegoat but the real cause is Peak Oil.

And no one will ever know. (Except you, me and a handful of others of course.)

Ron P.

I agree with you, Ron; but never cease to be amazed that friends of mine--even those who acknowledge peak oil (not necessarily that oil production rates have already peaked, but that they soon may)--still do not connect the dots to the current world recession. They still want to concentrate on proximate phenomena (the housing mortgage bubble burst, etc.), rather than underlying causes. More and more their aversion to coming to grips with energy root causes strikes me as analogous to the altogether common human denial of our mortality.

Even though I understand such phenomena on an intellectual level (call it what you will: denial, psychic numbing, paradigm blindness, etc.), it really is more distressing to watch it in a case such as the present one; because the consequences are not just individual but social. If I deny my own mortality (religiously, psychologically, or in diversionary preoccupations), that affects my own life and, perhaps, the lives of my family and friends. If the vast majority of those in modern industrial society deny the prospect of peak oil, that will no doubt affect the hardness of the species' landing, given our being so far into overshoot.

I have a lot of highly educated friends who simply do not want to know the truth. At least, I'm hard pressed to conclude anything else, given what they say and how they behave. "Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!" may as well be their refrain. Such has arguably always been the refrain for most people. But the consequences of ignoring the imminent threats have, perhaps, never been so grave.

Well, perhaps even that conclusion is debatable. If people suspect there's not much to do about the imminent and converging catastrophes (to use Kunstler-like language), perhaps eating, drinking, and being merry until we die looks like a rational response. But it certainly doesn't feel like a prudent or moral response (what if immediate cultural course changes could avert significant catastrophes for ourselves and our progeny?).

Sorry to blather on, bemoaning the obvious here. It just is so puzzling to listen day after day to the "La! La! La! La! La!" response, not just from mindless hedonists or those who have drunk deeply the Kool Aid of endless societal growth, but from thoughtful critics of modern industrial society.

Perhaps the early Thomas Kuhn was right: paradigm shifts are rather like religious conversions. Perhaps, science does advance one funeral at a time, to paraphrase Max Planck (was it?). Yet, I still think, along with Stephen Toulmin, that scientific paradigms and human concepts generally evolve more like organic forms of life, sometimes "sudden," sometimes gradual.

In any case, to stay on topic: it is frustrating when one's own thoughtful (and sometimes professionally intellectual) friends simply don't seem to want even to consider alternatives to the commonplaces of everyday discourse and rationality in modern industrial society. It's hard, especially at my age, to think that I need a whole new collection of friends!

So, thanks, Ron, for the daily jolt of anti-KoolAid!

Dharman Rice

Dharman, thanks for the kind words. The problem is that people already know what the problem is, or rather that they think they know. Saw this Tolstoy quote in one of Michael Lewis' books:

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
- Leo Tolstoy 189

Your friends, just like the every the religious crusader, already knows, without a shadow of doubt, that even if we do run out of oil we will simply find "something else'.

(not necessarily that oil production rates have already peaked, but that they soon may)

Well I guess that depends on your definition of peak oil. JODI says crude + condensate peaked in 2006. But everyone, even the EIA and IEA agree that oil available to importing countries peaked in 2005. That is almost the entire developed world is now post peak.

You have heard the old joke: "He's got some really good stuff but he smokes it all himself". It doesn't matter if Saudi and the other exporting countries produce more oil, they are using more and more of it their self and exporting less and less oil. According to the EIA petroleum consumption in OECD nations has decreased by 9 percent since 2005. For the OECD that is peak oil by any measure.

Ron P.

Thanks, Ron. Nice Tolstoy quotation.

I agree, BT.
This Tolstoy quote is also pertinent:
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."


Excellent insight and also a good captivating headline (I wuz wrong).

The masses (the OWSt. 99 per centers) are starting to grok that "something" is wrong in the neighborhood.
What it is though, they're not exactly sure.

It would be nice if they could call in the ghost and myth busters.
But they're not yet ready for that.

They are just barely getting the hang of the notion that "something someplace" is not quite right.

As one who protested yesterday at my local "occupy whatever" rally, I totally get that we are in a permanent era of oil and other resource constraints. While, with the right combination of policies, we might be able to grow this sucker a little while longer, it is not advisable to do so.

Having said that, I still think it is just plain wrong that the trajectory of increased incomes has been in the stratosphere for the 1% and flat lined for everyone else. In an era of permanent limits, I think it is even more important that income be redistributed and more equalized. Just because oil may be the primary driving factor behind our current malaise does not mean that other factor can just be discarded as irrelevant.

Just to be clear, however, the vast majority act as if nothing has really changed and that we just need to tweak the system a bit and everything will be fine.

I think it is even more important that income be redistributed and more equalized.


I totally get it as to where you are coming from.
I also totally get it as to where those who want to hold on to their "deserved" wealth-hood rights are coming from.

As far as they are concerned, they "earned" it and you didn't.
As far as they are concerned, you're just a commie who says what's yours is mine and what's mine is mine.

Unfortunately, the notions of what is "fair and balanced" in our economic structure; as is taught to "them", makes it unlikely that they will give up on their steadfastly held beliefs and ideologies.

You might have to pry it from their cold dead hands.

You will not get what they have. Probably not evenparts of it. As a comfort I can tell you that you will watch them lose what they have. They have - and will - moreto lose.

Not much comforth though...

Mark Twain's famous remark seems relevant:

It ain't so much what we know that gets us into trouble. It's what we know that just ain't so.

... And whom we know who aren't just so in their heads :-)

I went to Las Vegas for the weekend (not my choice - but too long a story to tell here). Actually, we spent most of Saturday out at the Grand Canyon. Which is so spectacular, awesome, unbelievable.

One thing which really caught my attention, on the way, was the water level at Lake Mead, behind the Hoover Dam. The white "bathtub" rings showing where the water-level used to be.

Someone commented that they were trying to get water upstream, from the rural, agricultural areas, which don't want to give up the rights, but need the money, and Las Vegas would just be able to buy the water.

It is really hard to take everything in, knowing about Peak Oil. Everyone is blissfully unaware of how they are (to use the politest phase I know) pissing away the energy. It is a debauched scene, entirely. Bread and circuses.

The Grand Canyon will outlast us, and, hopefully, so will the fauna and flora. Maybe, one day, not too far away, the Colorado river will, once again, run free.

I like to visit this dynamically generated graph for a look at Lake Mead's water level:


You'll note there at the end that it shoots up like a rocket - they've decided to sacrifice Powell in the name of keeping Mead above the "Critical Shortage Level."

Additional Water to be Released from Lake Powell to Lake
Mead – Avoiding Shortages in Lower Basin in 2012
PDF! http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/24mo/2011/equalization_DOI.pdf

Las Vegas is drilling a new $300 million tunnel under the deepest part of Lake Mead so they can completely drain it. Not finished yet.


Best Hopes,


Even worse is their proposal to drain the aquifer in the Great Basin along the Utah/Nevada line.
Their greed is insatiable. Not only do they subscribe the "infinite growth" theory, but they practice it in a very harsh climate/geography.

It truly is sin city.

I suppose it would be sacreligious to turn off the fountains at the Bellagio...

There is some irony in the fact that many of the hotels are modeled after dead civilizations.

Yeah, Las Vegas is gonna make for some confusing-ass ruins.

Our language is getting pretty confusing-ass already.

There are those-- apparently a relatively small set-- who seem to think the Earth and its inhabitants are theirs to plunder with impunity.

"Sacrifice" seems somewhat strong. Due to the heavy snowfall in the winter of 2010-11, and an intense monsoon flow during much of this past summer, the runoff was very large -- the only years with a greater inflow were the big flood years in the early 1980s. Upstream reservoirs are about 85% full in total, and inflow into Lake Powell is still at 140% of average for this date. Lake elevation topped out this year at 3660 feet (mean feet above sea level), within 40 feet of "full" and more than 100 feet above the low that occurred in 2005. Water level is currently higher than it's been in almost a decade.

Really freaky year for snow in the West last winter, at least above about 37 °N: California filled reservoirs that have never been full, big runoff in the Colorado, BPA up in Oregon and Washington had so much water they were giving power away, and the massive flooding along the Missouri.

All the water that did NOT go to Texas and Oklahoma.

Worldwide, evaporation is up a bit - the atmosphere holds 4% more water due to global warming.

What evaporates up comes down as rain or snow.


The official US government report on climate change suggests this might be a preview of the new "normal". The consensus they build from several different models shows increased winter precipitation across the northern two tiers and a bit of western states, and decreased winter precipitation in the southern tier and a bit.

I've lived in Colorado for 20+ years. When I moved here, the historical data said November and March were the two months with the greatest precipitation, as those were the periods when the jet stream steered storm systems here (rather than north or south of us). My perception, with no data to back it up, is that the snow is getting squeezed more into December and February, which would coincide with a generally more northerly track for the jet stream.

Dang. So many things I want to know and so little time to study...

I personally didn't have any allusions of a mass media convergence on the truth about our finite world. Hard to sell add space on that headline.

I thought you guys were just spending all this effort for me. Thanks!

I had a long and depressing after-dinner conversation with a neighbor this weekend. He's in his early 50s, laid off for over a year from a high level finance position, unable to find new work, unable to sell his expensive home for two years now. In some ways, he lived the American dream. Son of a steel worker who spent time after high school at the mills. Went on to college and then an MBA, eventually a high-paying finance position at a major U.S. corporation.

Now he seems lost and searching for answers. The result is a bit frightening. On the one hand he listens to Rush Limbaugh, waxes nostalgic over Ronald Reagan, and blames Democrats in general and Obama in particular for our current situation. On the other hand, he identifies with the Occupy Wall Street protests, thinks bankers should be prosecuted, and prays for a STRONG LEADER who, like Reagan, will make things all good again. It's a bit frightening because here is an intelligent, educated person who could easily support a fringe candidate who offers unrealistic promises -- Bachmann comes to mind.

Of course, his attitudes towards the price of oil were similarly confused. Without offering any justification, he felt strongly that oil should be about $50 a barrel and the cause of high oil prices was entirely speculators. He rightly noted that our economy can't grow with high oil prices, but could not conceive that high prices were inevitable. I didn't even bring up the fact that oil actually costs a lot more than the $80 WTI prices we've seen, or that world wide production peaked five years ago ... how could I do that to someone who was clearly suffering and looking for soothing answers, not realistic explanations?

After the conversation I realized just how dangerous the world ahead of us is going to be.

One can try to put the information in front of people, but it doesn't make them see.

I sent a copy of a presentation on Climate Change produced by Republicans, for Republicans, to a Republican I know. You'd have thought I had poisoned his inbox.

First he said he wouldn't read "that Liberal %$#^", then when I said it wasn't by a Liberal, but by a Republican, he said he doesn't believe in the Tea Party. I said it wasn't Tea Party either.

Nevertheless, he just told me not to send him any more links.

I've long said you could have a Peak Oil channel on TV running 24 x 7 but you couldn't make people watch.

Hopefully, the OWS exposure will tame your neighbor's grievances somewhat. OWS is mostly about removing the corrosive affect of corporate influence on public decisions. Also, it'll give him an avenue to vent frustration. Since OWS calls itself the 99%, it will include all on the political spectrum. OWS will fall apart if it takes a position on this spectrum.

On the other hand, he identifies with the Occupy Wall Street protests, thinks bankers should be prosecuted, and prays for a STRONG LEADER who, like Reagan, will make things all good again.

You have a right to be concerned about how dangerous the world ahead is going to be. A Reaganesque type character would be a benign form of 'strong leader'. Once the middle ranks begin to feel solidarity with the dispossessed, potential for radical agendas increase.

Niall Ferguson and other historians have pointed out that prior to the 1920s, Germany had a great track record of inter-racial relations between Germans and Jews. In fact, the chief concern in synagogues in those days was the high number of interfaith marriages where the prevalent outcome was a Christian household. Little could any of them foresee that a German defeat followed by hard economic times would turn them into the scapegoat extraordinaire of choice. The really disturbing part was how quickly the intelligentsia came on board to back the Hitler program. So much for the delusion that education is always a gateway to humane or enlightened thinking.

That said, I take comfort in two thoughts.

One is the strong Whig isolationist tradition embedded in the American psyche. Americans are much better at circling the wagons than lashing out. Devolution and implosion tend to be the instinctual reaction as opposed to centralization and conquest. (Federal government bad, states good; the South shall rise again, etc.)

My second thought is that the aging demographics will work in favour of a gentler outcome. In 1968, America had potential for revolution as the vitality of the baby boomers played itself out. There was a time when something like an 'Occupy Wall Street' or a march on the Capitol would bring out thousands in solidarity and protest (think March on Montgomery or the Democratic National Convention in Chicago). The fire is no longer in the belly. Revolutions are the product of youthful minds and young bodies. Raging grannies just don't cut it. Biology dictates that older people seek safety and security for their declining years. America may be spared the worst merely because of the timing.

As counter intuitive as it might seem.. I think something like that happening here in the states to be a good thing. this country lacks the history Europe has of infighting and bearing the brunt of war. as a result the populace here thinks rather lightly of both starting wars, and not taking care of fellow human beings. a few decades of living under a tyrannical regime and then the devastation of it falling either by internal forces or external ones will do wonders in teaching people here that it's better to help people when they are down rather then kick them and spit in their faces.

The Egyptian street children I saw last time I was there are a powerful counterexample for your hypothesis.

Yes I agree, I don't see the elements of centralized totalitarianism here in the U.S., which is of course a good thing.

What we have in the U.S. is a soft, corporate form of control, in which we are all bought off, fed, and amused to death.

The biggest risk in the U.S. is that the prospect of devolution or civil war will be met by a military response. And that doesn't necessarily need to be fascist, per say. Alot of juntas come and go without going the Nazi route.

Remember we live in a zero sum world now. Which means the partnership between finance, corporations, and the military will itself fall apart, and there is some comfort in that.

The only way to break the iron bonds between the corporations and the military will be to seriously reduce the military budget.

Take part of the savings and implement something akin to the 'Drake Plan', and take the rest and balance the budget and start paying down the debt.

House republicans are now saying they will not fund the military unless the military institutes new anti gay laws.



That is most disheartening.

Do you have any links to news stories about this ?

House Panel Adopts Anti-Gay GOP Amendments Intended to Impede Implementation of 'DADT' Repeal

As part of a $553 billion defense bill, the House Armed Services Committee last night adopted several amendments intended to affect implementation of repeal of the military's gay ban, including one from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA, pictured) that would "require that all four military service chiefs certify that implementation of the 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)' repeal won’t impact combat readiness and effectiveness." It was adopted 33-27.

Ron P.

Which just proves once more that the current crop of Republicans are less concerned with doing the business of the nation than they are with ensuring Purity Of Essence.

..or even a little more cynically, that we are being continually salted with distraction arguments, capable of creating a lot of heated rhetoric, and keeping us from focusing on essential issues.

(And that's not to make light of Gay Marriage itself, but to simply acknowledge that as a topic it is like laying Snickers Bars before the 5th graders.. and then being incensed that they haven't been doing their homework.)

What a wonderful film. What was his name Jack de Ripper, a megalomaniac, brilliant brilliant

I think the chiefs already certified such, so it is meaningless.


The Senate will not pass these, nor will the President sign them.

This is what the current Republican Party is all about, growing Big Brother to tell you what you can do in your life and taking folks' rights away.

I got news for them...very few young folks twenties and under have any problem with homosexuality.

I don't think you understand, H. The House is the funding agency. If they do not fund something it dies. The President and Senate can not do a damned thing about it.

The House is in the hands of maniacs. Truly anti-American, deeming their particular "Faith" a higher cause than the Nation, they embark on what can only be described as treasonous acts.

And, they are the only "Base" the R party can find, and so are embraced as such. They also are of a mind with M. Bachman, and refuse to listen to facts. "Are you going to believe Michelle, or are you going to believe your lying eyes?"


The House is in the hands of maniacs. Truly anti-American, deeming their particular "Faith" a higher cause than the Nation, they embark on what can only be described as treasonous acts.

Maniacs yes. Idiots, yes. Treasonous, no. Hate to quibble but constitutionally, the House is doing exactly what it is designed to do - vet public expenditures. Preserves the old English parliamentary practice within the American constitution, no taxation without representation. It's a representative's job to vote on money matters - regardless of how exasperating the optics.

Just think, if the Founding Fathers had adopted the full Westminster model, the Republicans would be forming the government right now. Mind you, the executive would look a tad bit different. Eric Cantor would be prime minister, Nancy Pelosi would be leader of the opposition, and Speaker John Boehner's main job would be to keep the decorum of the House and to act as decider should there ever be a tie.

If only that was what they are doing. In fact they are implementing a scheme to destroy the government by "starving the beast." Doing so by interfering with the ability of the Nation to protect itself is worse...

Sorry, but when otherwise legal acts are performed for illegal purposes, they become illegal.

About treason, Webster says:

Definition of TREASON
1: the betrayal of a trust : treachery
2: the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance



Zaph, technically, it is not overthrowing the state nor is it treachery. Try living under the Westminster system sometime. Governments can and often are tossed out. Trust me, it's usually over a minor or inane issue. For political advantage of course.

Politics is messy. As Churchill wryly observed, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

He also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

Mark Twain said, “Only a government that is rich and safe can afford to be a democracy, for democracy is the most expensive and nefarious kind of government ever heard of on earth.”

Jefferson's quotes are even more anti-democratic. And Aristotle!

Plato described the democracy of Athens, and some of what he said is quite pithy.

Of all contemporary commentaries, it seems that Churchill is probably closest to truth. There are many problems with deomcracy, but at least after all the smoke clears we know who to blame - ourselves.


The only hope for democracy is if the voters have intelligence (IQ) and valid information (facts).

Regrettably in our system, the voters have low IQ's and a great deal of misinformation.

Not a good recipe for a functional civilization.

Oh well.

I imagine that, unlike other civilizations that could just pick up and move elsewhere, this global one, with nowhere really to go has, like the initial smooth circular ripples in a pond coming from a center stone's-throw that have just collided with the irregular shoreline, the ripples bouncing off are going to be chaotic, "interfered", "knocked-on/amplified" in some spots, cancelled out in others, etc., and unpredictable.

I'd fancy a whitewater kayak over a canoe at this point. ;)

...Whig isolationist traditions, raging grannies, etc., aside.

King - I can easily understand his pain and confusion. Been there myself and not just as an individual but as part of a much larger group: the oil patch. Back in the 80's the global recession led to a drastic drop in energy consumption and resulted in oil falling to $10/bbl. Of course the price collapsed also eventually helped the world recover and return prosperity to some at least. But not the oil patch: many hundreds of companies out of business, hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs disappearing, many home foreclosures and bankruptcies in oil patch communities, heart breaking family disruptions, etc. Essential the same thing we're seeing today but in many different areas. Conversely the oil patch is moving in a counter direction for the obvious reason.

Blame can always be assigned. Sometimes very inaccurately and sometimes with no obvious connection. Just human nature. In the mid 80's the govt had no problem with OPEC dumping oil below actual replacement cost because it aided our economy. OTOH the govt didn't have any problem forbidding Japan from doing the same thing at one time with steel prices. We still have anti-dumping regulations. But there's always will be a conflict. Keeping cheap Japanese steel out of the market place certainly helped domestic steel producers. But it also increased costs to the commercial construction and automotive industries.

The problem will always be balance. It's easy for me to say your friend is where he should be: the financial sector over expanded and made some poor strategic decisions. And are where they are right now as a combination of normal business cycles and their mistakes. Obviously that's not anything you would want to say to your friend. I wouldn't either. Many folks now, as an indication of their fears and frustration, might take some satisfaction from your friend's situation. Many did so when the oil industry collapsed in the 80's. Again, just human nature. But that also highlights how many people don't appreciate how interconnected all the various parts of our society are with the inevitable feedback loops. It seems these days folks should enjoy their particular good times because they won't last long. As divisive as times are now it's easy to imagine it getting worse as the system becomes even more stressed.

Hey ho,

When I lost my flying job at the end of 81 I was under-employed for a long time. (Who needs pilots in tough times?) To be honest, it made a lasting impression on me. It changed my life....having to work away from home for months at a time, finally moving and starting over.

Since that time I have always had a huge full woodshed, a full freezer, and have never been in debt. I took my kids camping and swimming instead of to Disneyland...that kind of thing. I had a friend who also lost his job and he became so depressed he did not leave his house for days at a time. Weeks.

The hard thing was seeing others fat, dumb, and happy....simply because they had a job. I felt like a stupid failure.

It is something I have never got over and I feel profound empathy for those in a similar situation, today.

One more thing, last night after Thanksgiving supper I did the Dad 'counseled son talk' about not expecting the fat gravey days in the tar sands to continue more than another 5-10 years. Both my son and his girlfriend work there on a two week on/off shift and fly back home on this rotation. I got through when I told them how the logging industry on the Island was that rich in the 60's 70's, only to decline into obscurity. We talked about the cotton industry of the south, the textile mills, the auto industry, mining cycles, the cod collapse, Can Tung demise when I worked up north.....and he got the idea that nothing lasts despite the optimism and rhetoric of the times and situation.

"We will be okay....but expect change and be prepared to change careers as necessary." I think it is foolish to expect anything to last in these days of rapid change and upheaval. Change is life, itself.

Sometimes this feels like waiting for the vikings to sweep in from the sea. I know that sounds like dramatic fluff, but the mba out of work has been burned out with the other millions out of work. Thank God for social safety nets. (I wish Ron Paul would lose his pay cheque for a few years and know what it's like).


paulo - I know well what you mean about the residual effects of the tough times. I'm doing great today but it's still uncomfortable paying a bill...even the smaller ones. Some of that is left over from my childhood. I was into my 30's before I could break myself of completely cleaning my dinner plate...even if I wasn't fully enjoying the meal. Honestly, if I were eating in a restaurant and saw someone leaving a lot of food on their plate I would occasionally have a small panic attack.

The combination of anger and ignorance is a powerful force, and I've no doubt there will be many who try to use it as their vehicle. I don't think the time is quite right yet, but when it is then all it will take is someone in the right place at the right time with some charisma and an explanation about who to blame, or how to bring back the good times, etc. In the early part of the 20th century there were a lot of people suffering and angry, but the labor and social justice organizations that existed then were a stabilizing force - they were trying to build something better. Those organizations mostly don't exist now, and I worry that the movements that will be created ad-hoc will have other, darker purposes - such as boosting the power and ego of some sociopath.

This sounds about right. My government employed, right leaning brothers have both switched sides now that Gov Walker started taking money out of their paychecks (for pension/healthcare increased contributions). Its funny how people will turn so fast when it starts hitting the wallet. Without any input from me (I never talk PO with anyone), they both know oil is a big part of the problem (as in it costs too much/effects everything).

The problem I see is it never gets better. If the economy grows/oil goes up in price causing the economy to stall/rinse repeat...long term slowly going downhill as production decreases. All this talk about creating jobs is a joke unless they want to replace diesel engines with human labor (which they might as some point/if labor becomes cheap enough).

All this talk about creating jobs is a joke unless

1) We electrify and expand our railroads. Most of the equipment is Made in USA or Canada and all installation will be here.

2) We build out Urban Rail as fast as the French are (adjusted for population and work week).

3) Implement every type of efficiency conservation known.

All of the above reduce oil and energy use. Jobs that will make a difference to our future.

This is the "path out" that I see. Reduce consumption and increase investment in long lived energy producing and energy efficiency projects.

Best Hopes,


Start building your election machine for 2016...run as an Independent.

Or start a Party...call it the Reality Party.


We can't handle the "Reality".

I prefer some of that ole Southern Comfort instead

Recommended with fresh organic hand-pressed fruit juices. The real, non GM stuff.

But why wait for your bottles to ship by oil, when you can do it yourself?

We live in an economy which takes 80% of our each new generation and educates that 80% to obey orders and to endure boredom, and stifles their creativity, and stifles their capacities, and curtails them. They're systematically crushed by a system which does what? Which fills slots, and 80% of the slots need people who just do rote tedious repetitive labour at least at work, and therefore are acclimated to doing that...
If you're callous to the effects on others, you have a potential to rise. The odds are that you can 'compete' your way up. If you care and are socially concerned about others, you're at a tremendous disadvantage. So I think the competitive dynamic that we have does sort of weed out a set of people for success. But I would say that what it weeds out for success is not competence, not creativity, not intelligence, but callousness far more often.
~ Michael Albert, co-founder 'Z Magazine'

The important thing to understand about collapse is that it's brought on by overreach and overstretch, and people being zealots and trying too hard. It's not brought on by people being laid back and doing the absolute minimum. Americans could very easily feed themselves and clothe themselves and have a place to live, working maybe 100 days a year. You know, it's a rich country in terms of resources. There's really no reason to work more than maybe a third of your time. And that's sort of a standard pattern in the world. But if you want to build a huge empire and have endless economic growth, and have the largest number of billionaires on the planet, then you have to work over 40 hours a week all the time, and if you don't, then you're in danger of going bankrupt. So that's the predicament that people have ended up in. Now, the cure of course is not to do the same thing even harder... what people have to get used to is the idea that most things aren't worth doing anyway...
~ Dmitry Orlov, author, 'Reinventing Collapse'

"The problem I see is it never gets better."

Well, I can't promise it'll get better.. and heaven forbid I leave that impression around here..

But I do think there are things to apply our efforts towards that can last, that will net surplus energy as other sources fade or crash, things that last and don't add to the pollution and waste.

If you look at the Big Picture, you will see the inevitable loss in altitude we have coming at us.. but don't get stuck in the big picture.. keep access to it, and also know where you can 'get small'.. get your feet on the ground, think about what someone in a remote, non-industrial backwater of the world can do in life, completely oblivious to the rise and fall of the metal empires. What can you do that lets you find places/aspects of life as detached and insulated from that crash?

The ship is probably sinking. What do you need?

Without more oil at an affordable price the economy cannot grow. We have reached the end of growth. The end of growth is the beginning of collapse. Everyone will blame their favorite scapegoat but the real cause is Peak Oil.

What might happen is that as economies crumble and the price of oil drops, investment in bringing newer more expensive oil to market will dry up leaving us with the rapidly declining easy to pump 'old oil'. It is a real possibility in this case that oil prices might not decline if supply drops faster than demand. I think Gail has written on this possibility.

We may end up with the worst of both worlds, so to speak. A ravaged economy and high oil prices.

It is hard to know how all of this will turn out. I think debt defaults will soon be a big problem as well, because the world financial system depends on debt which is continually growing, and this is no longer possible. Shrinking debt will add to the recessionary impacts.

There are huge numbers of people around the world in developing economies. If their economies continue to do well (or less badly) than those of developed countries, then world oil prices could decline much less. The relative value of different currencies could also play a role. If the dollar and euro decline, the price could be high in those currencies.

It is hard to know how all of this will turn out.

A bit of an understatement there.

It's mostly cultural, here in the west. Folks don't want to hear about predicaments that require that they, personally, have to adapt ("What?! Me? Change?"). They want to outsource solutions to problems, as they outsourse the causes. It's all they know. Folks will change when forced to, but they need to blame someone for the imposition. This is why mass change on a societal level is often traumatic and bloody. We discount ourselves as the cause of our own problems and predicaments.

"Folks don't want to hear about predicaments that require that they, personally, have to adapt ("What?! Me? Change?"). They want to outsource solutions to problems, as they outsourse the causes. It's all they know."

Good one Chung. I'll steal that quote and use it myself. :-)

People here believe gasoline should be super cheap and also believe passionately that we shouldn't permit either drilling or shipping of oil anywhere near us. At the same time. A lot of people, probably most, are just stupid.

For good measure, the NYT wants to make sure there is no mistake "that you wuz wrong", Ron. ha ha.

As i read the Times article, i was searching for mention of the economic advantage of the abundance of un-tapped oil that the 30's had compared to todays depression.
Of course it isn't mentioned, but i am always looking for a mainstream writer having an *aha* moment in regards to current circumstances, but then it would be linked to TOD, eh?

The problem is that there are so many confounding factors. Peak Oil is one way to look at it, but so are the following:

* Growing inequality.
* Massive debt bubble.
* Stagnation of middle-class incomes for 40 years.
* Stagnation of economy due to massive bailouts of failed businesses.
* Rising costs of other commodities over last decade.
* Obsolescence of dozens of business models due to the Internet.

Is Peak Oil really the main problem? Separating its effects from all the other negative trends is difficult, if not impossible.

Peak oil is a cause of several of the things you mention--stagnation of middle class incomes; stagnation of economy; rising cost of other commodities (mined using oil).

Belief that the economy can expand forever (because there are no limits, such as peak oil) lies behind the huge debt bubble. The rising amount of debt is a major contributor to growing inequality, since debt transfers money from low wage earners to those earning more. Another contributor to growing inequality is lower-level wages competing with low-wage countries around the world, while people in financial markets and medical fields are free from such competition.

We are basically reaching Limits to Growth, because of limited oil supply. The various elements of the economy work together, and contract at once. Oil is a necessary "ingredient" to the economy. When there is not enough oil (that is, oil is too high priced), the economy as a whole contracts, under something like "Liebig's Law of the Minimum."

Some of my posts are on The Oil Drum; quite a few are only on Our Finite World.

Peak oil is a cause of several of the things you mention--stagnation of middle class incomes; stagnation of economy; rising cost of other commodities (mined using oil).

Middle-class incomes have been stagnant in America since the early 1970s. While this coincides with the American peak, it also coincides with the end of any gold-dollar link and a massive rise in government deficit spending due to Vietnam and the Great Society. The move towards a service economy and the financialization of everything began at the same time.

Peak Oil could be a cause. It could be the cause. Or it may be hardly nothing. We just don't know well enough to say one way or the other. After all, Japan grew for decades after its peak, crashed well before the world peak, and has endured a 22-year depression ever since.

I agree completely. Never have I seen such total accord between the stock markets and WTI prices as the past month or two.


Hope is given, markets go up anticipating the big revival of the economy. The economy fails to revive, or revival is quashed by higher oil costs, markets drop. New highs are not seen, and gradually the lows fall lower. Slowly, slowly... step by step...

Hello J.M.G. I concede. Maybe this thing will go down as you prognosticated. But, I submit the staircase is somewhat steeper than perhaps The Long Descent has foreseen.


The recession continues, everyone blames the President, or Congress, or Big Banks, or Wall Street, or whomever. No one except a few peak oil aware people are aware of the true cause. That is that oil, the lifeblood of the economy, has peaked. Without more oil at an affordable price the economy cannot grow. We have reached the end of growth.

Only in the US, apparently. The global economy has grown more than 15% in real terms since the oil hit a plateau. And it is slated to grow another 3-4% this year.

Total energy in the global economy has not yet peaked. Coal and natural gas are still growing. Oil is less critical to economic growth outside of the OECD because the economies are less oil intensive. They can afford expensive oil, and they can afford to outbid the OECD and US in particular for expensive oil.

In the long run we will drag them down too, but for now they are still growing.

"Oil is less critical to economic growth outside of the OECD because the economies are less oil intensive. They can afford expensive oil, and they can afford to outbid the OECD and US in particular for expensive oil."

Isn't this a bit contradictory? You're saying that if you use little oil, you need less oil to grow, and if you're poor and use little oil, you can afford to outbid the rich. Yeah, I know, what you're saying is that the OECD use much more oil than it needs to, and that its marginal demand is easily destroyed. I.e. we have a big cushion of non-essential use. But, China and other places do not only take our non-essential oil and use it for essential purposes. They also expand their non-essential use.

Where am I going with this? Simply saying that we have a plenty big cushion and that oil isn't at all essential to growth, which is why per-capita growth has been going for 40 years and will keep going in spite of us being on a per-capita oil plateau during this time.

China and India use coal as their primary fuel. This keeps their costs down, and keeps them competitive.

If the price of oil goes up, they use just a bit of oil, so it doesn't affect the price of the products the sell much. Even food does not use much oil in its production (fertilizer is made using coal; and it is mostly locally grown using hand labor.) Goods made for sale overseas don't use much oil either, so their products remain competitive, and there aren't many layoffs. The workers remain employed, so they can afford to buy at least a few products made with oil.

Here, consumers use a lot of oil in their cars, boats, airplane trips, etc. If the price of oil rises, consumers affected by high oil and food prices cut back on their discretionary spending, and, as a result, workers in discretionary industries are laid off from work. The people who are laid off from work cannot buy as much goods that use oil (drive less, don't buy new cars), so this reduces our oil consumption.

Oil consumption goes where the jobs are. The problem is that we need the jobs. Losing oil consumption is a byproduct of losing jobs, in my opinion.

The main difference is that in Chindia labor is cheap and environmental & worker safety rules and regulations either don't exist or are ignored. So even with expensive oil, COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) is lower. Indian employers don't have to provide health insurance or pay SS or Medicare taxes.

Goods made for sale overseas don't use much oil either, so their products remain competitive,...

This is not entirely true. The Indian software industry is powered by backup diesel generators but experienced software developers in India can be hired for $2000/month which keeps the overall cost lower.

Oil consumption goes where the jobs are. The problem is that we need the jobs. Losing oil consumption is a byproduct of losing jobs, in my opinion.

Losing oil consumption is a byproduct of high oil prices. High oil prices are a byproduct of a falling oil supply, (ELM). Okay it goes like this.

1. The oil supply is falling everywhere except in oil exporting nations.
2. The falling oil supply causes prices to increase.
3. Higher oil prices cause everything produced by oil or delivered by oil to increase in price.
4. People buy less because everything cost more money.
5. Fewer good and services need to be produced so this causes the loss of jobs.

Conclusion: The oil supply will continue to fall. Prices will continue to rise. Job losses will continue. The recession can only get worse.

Ron P.

What about this logic:

2. The falling oil supply causes prices to increase.
3. To pay increasing prices, people will want to work more (labor supply goes up).
4. To make do with less oil, oil needs to be substituted for labor and by investing in non-oil-tech. (labor demand goes up).

In fact, there is no reason at all for lasting job losses in the face of increased oil scarcity. It is just a matter of adjustment.

Following that logic:

2. Labour intensity goes up.
3. Goods production goes down. (Item sproduced per worker, or per citizen, a day, goes down).
4. Prices of everything up.
5. Sold volumes down.

Receipt for poverty. Oil made us rich.

Yes, of course, that too. Unchanged or higher employment, AND lower purchasing power.

Goods made for sale overseas don't use much oil either, so their products remain competitive, and there aren't many layoffs. The workers remain employed, so they can afford to buy at least a few products made with oil.

So, you're saying that oil scarcity isn't really a global problem. I can agree with that.

Here, consumers use a lot of oil in their cars, boats, airplane trips, etc. If the price of oil rises, consumers affected by high oil and food prices cut back on their discretionary spending, and, as a result, workers in discretionary industries are laid off from work.

This is a transient problem. The economy recalculates how to utilize resources such as labor, and only during this recalculation, resource utilization is lower. In fact, this has been happening a lot lately - the oil intensity of the economy, i.e. the amount of oil needed per GDP dollar, is rapidly going down. If we want the recalculation period to be shorter, we need only find ways to make the market more dynamic, for instance by removing unnecessary regulation.


And is the world growing faster than total credit market debt (public and private) is growing? If not, it's just pushing demand forward and doesn't mean so much.

Demand? Wasn't it oil that was the prime driver? Is this a peak oil site or a "peak whatever enables us to predict doom" site? Can debt replace oil?

If the global production system has grown output by 15%, it has obviously physically done so, and should at least in theory be able to do so however we choose to expand and transfer money supply around.

Btw, per capita oil production peaked around 1970, so all per-capita growth since then has been decoupled.

Yes, this is a Peak Oil site. Tthe main point to be considered
is that the previous rate of increase in world conventional rate of oil production is not likely to be repeated and can be expected to reverse. Our discussions have focused on the reality that the future won't be like the past as far as oil production is concerned, once peak production has passed. Your assumption that it is "in theory" possible to repeat the previous rate of increase appears to miss that point completely...

E. Swanson

The "in theory" comment related to debt, not to oil. That the economy can keep growing without oil is proven beyond a doubt.

We have the global oil production per capita vs real gdp per capita since 1970 (index=100) here:

and the global oil production vs GDP in total here:

The graphs I've put together from official GDP data, population data and oil data.

Apples and Oranges. GDP is measured in money; are your figures adjusted for inflation? GDP in developing countries is growing rapidly; population there continues to grow as well. These functions both lower per capital oil and increase per capita GDP. Another problem: What is counted in GDP? I am not at all convinced that your arugment is well founded; nor am I certain that it is sound.


Apples and oranges how? How do you propose to measure GDP if not in money? Yes, the GDP figures are real, in 2005 dollars, i.e. inflation adjusted. Yes, developing countries are included as are all other countries, and we've had several decades of global per capita economic growth at flat per capita oil. What is counted in GDP? The usual stuff, I guess, you know, commercial production. How is that a problem?

The problem here is that you've excluded the other fossil fuels. Oil was increasingly substituted away from since the 70s in favour of natural gas and coal for things like electricity, heating etc and is now used only where it has attributes which the other two major fossil fuels cannot. Oil is used now to DO things whereas coal and natural gas are used to MAKE things.

Oil is mainly used to DO transport, DO mining etc.

Coal and natural gas are mainly used to MAKE electricity, MAKE fertilizer, MAKE steel etc.

At the moment you cannot DO mining if you don't have oil and as companies go to ever more remote places for resources they need oil to do it. Without oil you don't have coal and you don't have natural gas. It is also harder to substitute natural gas and coal for oil than it is to substitute say oil for coal or natural gas. Oil is the key resource in the economy and the price premium per BTU is a testament to that.

Oil was increasingly substituted away from since the 70s in favour of natural gas and coal for things like electricity, heating etc and is now used only where it has attributes which the other two major fossil fuels cannot.

When did "now" happen? As the graphs show, economic growth keeps going at flat oil. At year end, we'll find ourselves at 20% higher global GDP since the oil plateau set in. Next year, perhaps 25%. When does it end?

Oil is the key resource in the economy and the price premium per BTU is a testament to that.

At a certain price premium, oil sands and CTL/GTL is viable. This puts a long-term cap on the price premium, does it not? Also, substitution for electricity in mining and transport has great potential. So, how much oil do we REALLY need?

"That the economy can keep growing without oil is proven beyond a doubt."

Emphasis mine.

Given that the charts demonstrate the pervasive presence of oil production over the given timelines, how could one conclude that the economy can keep growing "without oil" from the information presented?

The statement "proven beyond a doubt" is a very bold claim, one that must be rigorously demonstrated. To do so would require far more evidence than presented in the charts.

Key problems include, but are not limited to, these:

1) The data on GDP growth is not scientific; it is political data. The numbers cannot be trusted. For a rigorous proof demonstrating your assertion, you will have to find more reliable numbers to back your extraordinary claim. Do not be surprised if this is very difficult to do: Rigorous proofs involving complex systems usually require much effort. (Now, for testing an idea without making large claims, political data might be useful to explore directions of thought to see if an idea might have enough merit for more in-depth effort.)

2) Using oil-production per capita seem like an attempt at spin to me. The more meaningful measure is total oil available. After a brief lull in the 1980s, oil production has climbed to new highs. This means that total energy available from oil grew. Therefore, it should be no surprise that economic indicators (however unreliable) also indicate some growth. Total oil available per person may not have changed much since the 1970s, but his does not mean a reduced or stagnant amount of energy available to the global industrial system. Indeed what it does mean is that liquid-fuel energy is available to support more people at levels similar to recent decades. Thus opening the door for GDP to grow, as there are more people using that growing volume of oil.

3) If we assume that the politically-driven GDP numbers are actually indicating real growth since 2004 (indicated in the second chart), this in no way constitutes proof ("beyond doubt") that global industrial economies can grow without oil, nor indeed without an increase in oil production. Economic growth in the present is still riding the cheap oil wave, as many societies are coasting along on infrastructure that had been built during a time of less expensive crude. This might be considered one facet of "economic momentum." To even begin to demonstrate real GDP growth in the face of stagnant or declining oil production would require several decades, say 30-50 years or more, during a time of said stagnant and declining oil production to even have a chance at controlling for the confounder of long-lived infrastructure.

Squilliam and others make some interesting counter-points, too, further demonstrating that the data provided for a beyond-the-doubt proof are simply not rigorous enough.


The data on GDP growth is not scientific; it is political data.

That is a political statement that I happen to disagree with.

To even begin to demonstrate real GDP growth in the face of stagnant or declining oil production would require several decades, say 30-50 years or more

OK, that's a lot. You set the bar so high I guess nothing will convince you.

The point is, you present this argument on two pieces of information, Oil Production/Cap and GDP. It does little to inform us of how much we've been eating away at our feed corn in order to assure growth (somebody else's growth), growth which was simply a procedural mantra for the Global businesses involved, and they have gone forward and dug into organized labor, social programs, reinstituted slavery-by-other-names (see Tom Delay and the Indonesian Sweat Shops), sacrificed the US Industrial Base, eroded the spending power of American Families, yet keeping them in newly available cheap credit schemes and mortgages, so THEY would inherit the debts that could fuel this industrial fantasy of growth ~ Without economists looking critically at the round-trip math which shows it caving in on itself.. as it seems to be doing.

The back of the Ship, you're right.. is high up in the air. More than half of the rest is already under water.

Oil isn't the ONLY player in this game, but it's certainly a key component in maintaining the energy intense illusion that this scheme is durable, repeatable and expandable.

I'd be interested if you could provide some hard numbers regarding how we eat into our feed corn. We have had a 40 year per-capita oil plateau with 75% per-capita growth, after all.

(I view business and global trade as the strongest civilisatory force we have, and the best way to improve conditions for all. Therefore I don't agree with your characterisation at all, but you knew that.)

the best way to improve conditions for all

All of us civilized critters are equal,

except that some are more equal than others

and improvement of "condition" for some means helping them slip over the edge.

Have you simply decided to ignore the wealth split, and feel it's sufficient to throw the Averages out there, as if that really shows us how people are doing on the ground?

Look at the Savings Rates, the Real Wages, the Debt Levels, Unemployment (and the OVERemployment, 'Uniquely American' which cuts into the other essential parts of our social fabric)..

We are NOT improving conditions for all. WE 99% are the seed corn.. which probably includes you as well, Jeppen.


I try to drive home the point that during the century before the 1970s, the US enjoyed a stunning rise to global superpower status and unrivaled prosperity while real wages rose every decade. In equally stunning contrast, since the 1970s, as and because real wages stopped rising, we have had a long-term decline in the quality of jobs (falling benefits, rising insecurity, etc.), rising unemployment, a return to 19th century inequality of income and wealth distribution in the United States, and finally a global capitalist collapse whose ramifications include the new Governor of California cutting over $1 billion from California higher education system that will damage the quality of your education.

The last thirty years of US capitalism have boosted profits and undermined the cohesion and prospects for the entire society. It would have been far better to respond to economic developments around the world in other ways than ending rising wages when productivity rose, but that would have required a system other than capitalism.


Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) took note of this growing income inequality:

LEVIN: These are the figures about income growth from 1976 to 2007. 58 percent of the income growth in those 30 years went to the top 10 percent. 58 percent. A third went to the top five percent. 20 percent of income growth those 30 years went to the top 1 percent. And nearly 10 percent went to the top one-tenth of one percent. And so we need to talk to our fellow sister citizens, this is the land of opportunity. When income growth is so tilted in favor of a small minority, it really challenges the growth of the middle class in the United States of America.

You're a captive of biased statistics. You should go back and have a look at key stats for a median American family of four in 1970, such as home size, average number of cars, TV's, medical coverage and quality and so on, as well as how much of household income is needed to buy a grocery basket, and then compare that to what the median non-immigrant family have today.

This way you'd get an apples to apples comparison and get rid of problems regarding family sizes declining, poorer immigration, faulty ways of calculating inflation and consumer price indicies and so on.

What you do now - eating leftist propaganda - is just making you bitter. Even if what you say would be correct, be happy for the billions rising from poverty as we speak. The US isn't everything - if you want some more progressivity in your taxation systems or whatever, then by all means do it (and pay the price) - but don't throw away global trade. We all need more of it. Badly.

Only in the US, apparently. The global economy has grown more than 15% in real terms since the oil hit a plateau. And it is slated to grow another 3-4% this year.

Yeah right. The IMF is predicting the global economy to grow by 1.5 percent this year. It is likely that is way too high.

IMF warns of ‘dangerous’ phase of economic decline

The world economy has entered a “dangerous new phase” of declining growth that will require policymakers to take action, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned Tuesday.

In its “World Economic Outlook,” the IMF steeply downgraded projections it made in June regarding the U.S. economy. The international lending organization had predicted a growth of 2.5 percent in 2011 and 2.7 percent in 2012. In just three months, the forecast has changed to 1.5 percent in 2011 and 1.8 percent in 2012.

There are dozens of stories on the web like this one. A declining world economy

"It is about whether the international financial system will survive the next six months in the form we now know it. It is about whether the foundations of the postwar order are cracking in Europe. It is about whether a global financial crash will further destabilize the Middle East. ...

"It is about whether the incipient signs of a bubble burst in China signal the start of an extended economic and perhaps even political crisis there. It is about whether the American middle class is about to be knocked off its feet once again."

And Time devoted their cover story to it a few weeks ago.
TIME: The Decline and Fall of Europe (And Maybe The West)

Things are looking bad all over. You need to update your projections Jeppen.

Ron P.

The US economy, not the global economy. Your citation says so: "the IMF steeply downgraded projections it made in June regarding the U.S. economy.". Again, the global economy grows and keeps growing.

Sorry about that but you are still way off.

China: the world’s next great economic crash

Has the global economy recovered? Forecasters say there will be an uptick this year of 2.4 percent, but they’re forgetting something. China could fail soon, and, if it does, the world’s most populous state will drag the rest of us down.

And the lions share of that 2.4 percent comes from China:

On Thursday, Beijing announced that growth for the fourth quarter of 2009 was 10.7 percent and 8.7 percent for the entire year.

Pull China out of the mix and we are back down to about 1.5 percent if that. And China will crash.

China’s policies are unsustainable. First, the central government will be hard pressed to find the money to continue the spending spree. Budget deficits are going up fast, a constraint on additional expenditures. More important, Beijing’s regulators are concerned that the state banks, the primary source of stimulus funds, are overextending themselves and accumulating bad loans.

Of course this article is a bit dated but things have only gotten worse since then as shown by the links below.

More recently the world economic downturn is taking its toll on OPEC oil demand:
Economic downturn taking toll on oil demand: OPEC

And just yesterday:Euro debt crisis threatens to sink global economy

But in the last few weeks, even prosperous Germany and France, the continent’s powerhouses, have started to be dragged down, hurt by the ebbing of business orders from indebted countries in the rest of Europe.

Ron P.

It's not me that is off. The latest projections from IMFfor 2011 and 2012 puts global growth at some 4% for each year. To take China out of the mix would subtract only a percentage point, since China is about 10% of the global economy and is projected to grow some 10%. Sub-saharan Africa, for instance, will grow some 5.2% and Latin America by 4.5%.

And yes, of course China will "crash". There is always booms and busts in market economies. But a crash won't subtract the last 6 years' worth of 8-10% yearly growth. It will just set it back a year or so, and then it will start accelerating again.

Incremental growth in the last few years has been fueled by increased coal usage - especially in China - and to a lesser extent natural gas and misc. energy efficiency gains processing and using oil.

As far as I tell (hopefully without a lengthy explanation since it was already covered by others) there are reasons to believe that oil utilization will become less efficient as we go forward. That is because we have reached the stage where easy to get oil is being depleted and it is being replaced by difficult to reach oil. Also oil refiners worldwide are undergoing a costly 'upgrading' to handle that generally lower quality oil coming from new oil fields.

Also... the economy has a certain amount of momentum. Though the plateau started in 2005 and the decline in net oil exports started to decline then also, the economic downturn did not hit until 2008.

That was the first leg down. The second leg seems to be kicking in about now.

Ron P.


Hi Ron,

Thanks for the post.

I'll say - I've always been in the "it-will-never-become-obvious-(enough)" camp. In addition to the reasons you give, there is the emotional difficulty of the topic (huge), along with other psychological and emotional factors. (One of them is in the new post I want to make in a minute; i.e., look at this answer from a friend, for an example of "compartmentalization." But then...see the link hs sends.)

I've tried to bring "peak oil" to the attention of scientists. My hope was/(perhaps is) that the "handful" could grow, and thus effect some positive change.

I'm going to post something below (in a new thread) - I hope you look at it and respond.

re: "The end of growth is the beginning of collapse."

Yes, this is the trajectory.

I maintain, however, that the trajectory: 1) Can be analyzed. and 2) can be altered. "Can be" as in "it's possible."

The question is: how? (At least, that's one question.)



keeping up with geologic declines vis a vi demand destruction has enabled the power brokers to paper over PO. the masses will NEVER see PO for what it is


Keep in mind Ron - "peak everything" is only temporary (temporarily).

After the Great Kill Off (my term) - as in a planned depopulation of the earth - there will be a surplus of everything. So again - even those left standing will never get it AFTER THE FACT.

Here's a mind blower - a theory of mine related to triggering this demand destruction you speak of includes ARMs set to adjust just as oil was peaking in the 2004-2006 timeframe...triggering a global economic slow down - a "forced power down"...in an effort to destroy demand and match geologic declines....while papering over PO.

It is always tin...until it's not.


Below is a post of mine to the Sierra Club Transportation Chair List Serve. It has the core of a future article that I will likely post on the Energy Bulletin.

Any comments ?
How Many Years to Prepare ?

I do not think we have time for a slow change, preserving our investments in Suburban sprawl. The "30 to 50 years" recently spoken of is likely simply not available.

World oil exports peaked in 2005/6 and are down about 9% already. More, and likely
steeper, drops are coming.

The future impacts of Climate Change will be devastating - and the more we keep BAU, the worse it will get.

As an aside, *IF* the USA shows dramatic changes, I expect that China will follow the "New Modernity" and try to out-do us.

I am also aware that people, or at least Americans, will not change to avoid negatives. Until we panic, any change has to be framed as a positive improvement.

My analysis is that the priorities - ordered by cost effectiveness and speed

1) Making bicycling safer and easier. Quick and cheap oil free transportation although a low upper limit. The best "Bang for the Buck" and quickest. Very hard to judge oil savings. The more desperate people become, the more they will bike - as we did in New Orleans after Katrina with no and then minimal public transit. New Orleans is now the #6 bicycle city.

SWAG 250,000 b/day in 5 years, 500,000 b/day in ten years but the savings could easily be double or even triple that. The electricity used by eBikes will be trivial.

2) Electrifying and expanding freight rail. 1 million b/day saved in 7 years, 2 million b/day in 10 to 12 years plus some passenger rail savings. And much of this is essential transportation of food and critical materials that we simply cannot do without. We can easily conserve the 1.3% of the electircity we use to operate electrified railroads. Just bring back the 30% tax credit for conservation.

3) Building Urban Rail and TOD for the 30% of Americans that want to live in TOD. (Many more than 30% will move once the herd starts going that way). I use the French rate (12,000 miles of light rail or equivalent in 20 years) but the USA has done MUCH more than that in the past.

In twenty years, 1897-1916, the USA built subways/elevated rail in every major city and streetcars in over 500 cities, towns and villages. All with a GDP of 3% to 4% of today and no advanced technology.

A French level of effort could save about 1.5 million b/day in a decade and 4 million b/day in two decades. An American level of effort would save much more.

In addition, the energy consumed by TOD should be about half or a third of the Suburbia it replaced - VERY good for Climate Change. And the 2% or so of US electrical demand needed by MASSIVE Urban rail could also be conserved.

This move to TOD will devastate Suburbia - just as central cities were devastated by
"White Flight" to the Suburbs from roughly 1950 to 1970/75. We did it before, we can do it again. We abandoned a massive investment in well built, well located residences (called central cities - today a code word for a slum) and virtually 100% of prime commercial real estate (called downtowns) before.

The inevitable future will abandon most of the poorly built homes and commercial real
estate of Suburbia.

However, this fact should not, IMVHO, be emphasized or even mentioned. Fear of loss will ignite opposition. Talk about providing the unmeet market demand for walkable and bikeable neighborhoods with clean rail instead.

Nissan-Renault, by far the most optimistic automaker about EVs, projects that 10% of the global market will be EVs in 2020. To be charitable, 8% of US sales will be EV then (I really think 2% to 4% in the USA if 10% globally). And this is the MOST optimistic auto maker.

This implies that the US fleet will be 2% to 3% EV if 8% of 2020 sales are EV and less than 2% of VMT will be EV in 2020. Less than 150,000 b/day saved in 2020 from a major market shift towards EVs. More likely less than 100,000 b/day. DC Metro saves about 200,000 b/day today between direct replacement of VMT and reduced VMT by TOD.

ICE to EVs does almost nothing for Climate Change. "Average" source of fuel is the wrong metric - the marginal source of the extra fuel is. The marginal source for recharging EVs will be mostly natural gas with some coal and conservation (negawatts). New electrical demand is unlikely to increase the rate that renewables are built out.

I have nothing against EVs per se, and I want Nissan-Renault to revise their estimates upward due to market demand, BUT EVs simply do not rank as a major means of going "Beyond Oil" unless one is willing to wait "30 to 50 years".

The above is what my analysis suggests. I tried to look at all reasonable options and evaluate them.

Best Hopes,


I would add a summary of metrics of x barrels per day in y and z years for low, high or low, medium and high guestimates. Also, the y and z values should be same as those in detailed exposition for consistency. I would also add a section for folks to work from home rather than travel to an office. Not sure how many people are in a position to do this. I currently work from home 2-3 days a week.

It is simply false to suggest central cities have been abandoned; it is instead that the middle classes have been replaced by the poor. Much of the decline in population can be explained by changing household sizes and tearing down of good housing to build highways. Likewise I don't expect the suburbs to be abandoned. While it is possible that the better off half of the population can afford new more densely built new housing, the rest of the population can't afford to build new housing and will remain in the existing housing stock (although I expect much more doubling up--the extended family living in the same living unit will be much more prevalent).

Cities are in poor financial shape--they can't afford the massive subsidies to either build new mass transit or operate it.

In terms of transportation options, I think carpooling is probably the most likely to increase.

You simply don't seem to understand that poor people and poor governments simply don't have the wealth to make capital intensive energy-savings investments in either housing or transportation systems. And in the future for multiple reasons much more of the population will be poor.

So the overwhelming reaction in the future is not going to be new investment; it is going to be people cutting back, having a lower standard of living.

You simply don't seem to understand that poor people and poor governments simply don't have the wealth to make capital intensive energy-savings investments in either housing or transportation systems.

But yet they have the wealth needed to pay for the extra energy cost caused by their energy inefficent infrastructure. Where does that money come from?

It is simply false to suggest central cities have been abandoned

The population of New Orleans is about 60% of it's peak - while the suburbs have gone through explosive growth and overall US population has grown greatly (over +50%).

The same is true for Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, ...

Empty housing that deteriorated was demolished.

From memory, Urban population is about 25% and Suburban population is a bit over 50% of the total. This is a dramatic shift from 1950.

Best Hopes for Reversing the Trend,


You simply don't seem to understand that poor people and poor governments simply don't have the wealth to make capital intensive energy-savings investments in either housing or transportation systems.

The State of Louisiana is "investing" $1.3 billion today in expanding a "suburb to suburb" bridge over the Mississippi River from 4 lanes to 6 lanes.

There are $1.375 TRILLION in unrepatriated foreign profits of US corporations. A tax credit could devote a good % of that to useful investments.

etc. etc.

Best Hopes,


But we do have the vast wealth required to outspend all the other countries in the world combined on Defense.

And we apparently have the vast wealth required to have the most expensive but one of the most efficient health care systems in the world.

We also have the vast wealth required to continue to spend billions on roads, albeit our absurd level of build out is coming back to bite us with the unaffordable maintenance costs of all that infrastructure.

The most vibrant part of Denver is the area including and surrounding one of the longest car free pedestrian streets/malls in the United States. This was no accident as this whole enterprise of foresight and continuing investment, both public and private, began in the 1970s. I worked there in the early 70s when much of downtown Denver was still in the slum/bowery stage. Now it is primo real estate.

More on the archaeological evidence supporting the inference that Easter Island collapse was due to conquest, not ecological overshoot:

...recent work has shown the central significance of lithic mulch (e.g., Bork et al. 2004; Stevenson et al. 2005; Ladefoged et al. 2010; Wozniak 1999, 2003), the lack of evidence for an 1680 AD “Collapse” event (e.g., Mulrooney et al. 2009, Lipo and Hunt 2009), that mata’a are not developed weapons (Church and Rigney 1994; Church and Ellis 1995), the lack of structural integrity of palms to serve as rollers or use as canoes (e.g., Bork and Meith 2003), the lack of evidence for cannibalism (e.g., McLaughlin 2005), the shorter chronology for colonization not just for Easter, but for the entire eastern Pacific (e.g., Kennett et al. 2006; Reith et al. 2011; Wilmshurst et al. 2008, 2011), the devastating effects that rats have on island environments (e.g., Athens 2009), details about the impact that Europeans had on historic populations (e.g., Fischer 2005), direct evidence about statue transport based on analysis of moai roads (e.g., Lipo and Hunt 2005; Love 2001), the inherently nutrient poor state of soil on Rapa Nui (e.g., Ladefoged 2005) and more. These new findings point to the growing body of evidence that falsifies the basic claims made in favor of “ecocide.”
Easter Island was a story of remarkable success. And as young Native Islanders have told us, knowledge of their ancestors’ success, not failure, matters greatly to them. The “collapse” story for Easter Island is a convenient and popular parable used for shocking the public about the dangers of over-exuberance and environmental disregard. However, as we describe in our book, the island’s collapse came only with the germs, guns, and enslavement brought by the outside world. Given what is at stake in terms of lessons to be learned about long-term survival on an isolated and resource poor location, the truth matters.

Nat - Thanks. Always good to see such assumptions put into context. Too many urban rumors floating around. But for grins I'll offer a totally unsupported conclusion: the Easter Island culture was destroyed as a result of ecological overshoot. Not theirs but a different culture that, once destroying their ability to maintain BAU, traveled out and took what they needed from the folks on EI.

And it's obvious IMHO that one could take such a theory and apply it to the world's future as PO begins to strongly dominates the scene. As the author states: "...and enslavement brought by the outside world." The obvious question: who will be the slaves and who will be the masters?

Hope the truth comes out..anyways even if this invasion theory is correct, it doesn't disprove the essence of that story. We don't need to look far to see a modern day Easter Island...it's called Haiti.


Tea Party Delusion Off the Scale

Michelle Bachmann promised to lower gasoline prices to $2/gallon in August


I saw her on TV yesterday signing a series of pledges/campaign promises on a big board yesterday. A list of Tea Party dreams apparently.

When she came to "Energy Independence in 8 years" she said "It shouldn't take that long" as she signed.

All I can judge is that the Tea Party operates off emotions and not logic.

$2/gallon gas PLUS Energy Independence in <8 years !?!?



Michelle Bachmann promised to lower gasoline prices to $2/gallon in August

If Michelle Bachmann intends to lower gasoline prices to $2/gallon, she has the following options:

1. Pass a law that states that gas stations cannot charge more than $2/gallon for gasoline. This would lead to immediate shortages as gasoline retailers, wholesalers, oil refineries, oil producers, etc. would stop delivering petroleum products because they would lose money doing so. A black market for gasoline would soon appear with prices even higher than if the law didn't exist.
2. Subsidize gasoline like they do in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, etc. Where is the bankrupt US government going to find the cash needed for these subsidies? Increase taxes, which would be totally counter to Tea Party ideology? Or they could borrow/print money which would be inflationary which would lead to higher interest rates and/or a collapsing currency which would lead to higher cost for imported oil,....??
3. Immediately increase fuel efficiency standards to a fleet average of let's say 60 mpg. But it would take decades to change over the US fleet to European efficiency levels, plus this would kill off the US automobile industry in one big swoop.
4. Drill baby drill. The US oil industry is already doing this because prices are high. But the drilling would stop as soon as Michelle lowers the prices, which would lead to higher prices.
5. Decomission freeways. This is very easy to do. Just blast a few hundred key bridges and automobile use would drop like a rock leading to lower oil and gasoline prices.
6. ...( there must be something I've missed).

Has anyone ever asked Michelle Bachmann how she intends to accomplish her promise? Has she even thought about it. I would really like to know.

She finks there are quick fixes on the supply side, if we just don't let enviornmental concerns hold us back.

Wasn't it the CEO for Shell who once said (meant as a joke at a conference, IIRC) that he was going to fire all his geologists, who told him that oil would be increasingly hard to find, and replace them with economists, who told him that if prices increased just a bit new oil would be easy to find?

Maybe if we replace the geologists with politicians it would be even easier. I am reminded of Robert Rapier's annual observation that the EPA has reduced the number of gallons of cellulosic ethanol that must be blended into our gasoline supply under the Congressional mandate to zero, as there are still no commercial plants in operation.

mc – In a sense he’s telling the truth. He wouldn’t fire those geologists but I can promise you they would never participate in a meeting that included anyone that such a CEO didn’t want to hear reality. Geologists especially are legend in the industry for messing up “the story”. It’s not so much we are dedicated truth tellers but we can seldom stop talking about our project. And, like most folks who are not expert at deceiving folks, we naturally start qualifying our statements. Like “This prospect could contain 10 million bbls of oil…but it will probably be closer to 2 million bbls.” Or “The seismic data appears to fully support the potential. Except it would be a good idea to reprocess the data and see if the potential is still there.” I’m not kidding. I’ve always been one of those geologists excluded. In the early days because I didn’t know when to shut up. Eventually it was because I wouldn’t tolerate intentionally deceptive BS.

Not as big issue with non-public companies except for the promoters. They thrive on sucking in private investors even if that includes outright lying. One of my proudest moments in the oil patch was helping the Texas Rangers arrest a couple of these scam artists some years ago.

Old joke: Question – What’s 2+2? Answer: Lawyer – What do you want it to be? Engineer – 4.0000000. Geologist – Somewhere between 3 and 5. Geologists live their whole lives in a world of uncertainty, incomplete data and all the variations Mother Earth can contrive. How can you tell when a geologist is lying? Easy: when he says he absolutely certain his interpretation is correct. Most of us are just hardwired that way.

When I was a young geoscientist in Australia many years ago there was an airline pilot strike, which caused quite a bit of hardship to quite a few people.

In the discussions in the lunch room someone raised the spectre of geoscientists going on strike. "That would really cripple the economy," he said. In those days, as today, Australia was very dependent on mining.

"No one would notice for ten years," a wise voice answered. Needless to say, we never did go on strike.

Allow all the major US banks to default and be declared bankrupt.

She probably thinks she can just hold hands with Rick Perry and pray for it. It's not like she's in touch with reality.

Perhaps there is some promise in that the CNN contributor, Steve Hargreaves, take umbrage with Michelle Bachmann,

While increased oil and gas drilling in the United States may create good-paying jobs, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower the trade deficit, it would have little impact on gas and oil prices.

Drill baby drill won't lower gas prices

That's because the amount of extra oil that could be produced from more drilling in this country is tiny compared to what the country -- and the world -- consumes.

Plus, any extra oil the United States did produce would likely be quickly offset by a cut in OPEC production.

The Tea Party may operate on emotion, not logic, but stupid is stupid. Any more of this stupidity, the GOP will move into self-preservation mode and begin to ridicule and relegate the movement to the sidelines. I suspect the Republicans are pursuing the same strategy to the Tea Party as when they went after the religious right during Bush's campaigns: they'll appeal for votes and all the while go on to ignore the platform.

That's because the amount of extra oil that could be produced from more drilling in this country is tiny compared to what the country -- and the world -- consumes.

There's a good hint that the world has already hit peak oil in that sentence, with the word 'tiny', in relation to what is consumed nationally and internationally. If drilling for more oil reaches a point where it seems meaningless, then you can bet we're at or past peak.

Perk, what you are saying is that a CNN contributor has inadvertently and tacitly described peak oil. Hurray, but it's worded in such a way that many people will miss the hint.

I suspect, however, a lot people, including in the media and in business, have a good handle on what's happening in terms of resource availability. It's not a deep dark secret but as Darwinian has pointed out above it's just masked by everything else that is happening in the world economy.

Up top, the article 'Tanker Safety Risks Are Rising Following Plunge in Rates, Ship Owners Say' is strong evidence that net world oil exports are in decline. Tanker operators are barely getting anything on some main oil shipping routes for their services, with costs of about $10,000 per day they are losing up to $10,000 a day just to keep their business running.

OPEC can't or won't increase its net oil exports. Despite many media reports about how Saudi Arabia increased its oil output by 800,000 bpd in June, and maintained most of that increase through its summer, the extra output did not end up increasing its exports.

While I don't have specific information, the fall in tanker rates implies that non-OPEC exporters are also not increasing exports.

Tanker industry fears for future over earnings rout
Thu Oct 6, 2011 1:57pm EDT

VLCC operating costs including fixed costs are estimated at around the $10,000 a day level. Average earnings are calculated less voyage costs such as bunker fuel and port fees.

Average earnings for VLCCs, which can transport up to two million barrels of oil, were -$5,700 a day on Thursday, Baltic Exchange data showed.


Hmm... let me think. Cost of doing business, $10,000 per day per ship. Income, $5,700 per day per ship... owners losing money. What to do, what to do?

Wait! I know!!! They need more ships!


So what if we lose $4,300 per day per ship - we'll make it up in volume! ;-)


"Marcellus Shale Driller Wants Approval to Export Natural Gas"

Again, a little early in the game for folks to pay much attention to these little hints of the future to come. But it happened in the late 70's NG and will again. NG end users are going to be entering more contracts that effectively take NG off the future market. The approval they're seeking is just the ability to ship more...not approval with regards to whom they are selling. Such contracts are typically long term: 5 to 10+ years. As I've mentioned earlier there are a variety of mechanisms to tie up future production by both domestic and foreign end users. Folks in PA won't be pay attention to exporting NG from their state especially if it brings a higher income to their land owners and production tax collectors. But 4 or 5 years down the road and if we begin to see winter peak demand delivery problems that attitude could radically change. And it wouldn't necessarily involve NG exports out of the country. Wouldn't be a shock to see a NY or Illinois utility that tied up long term NG deliveries from PA at a time when end users in that state were being cut off. In an emergency the feds can require commercial end users be cut off to the benefit of residential consumers. A lot more political theater to have one state's residential users cut off in preference to those in another state. Again, it may be quite a few years down the road but this is exactly what happened over 30 years ago. At that time very few outside the industry knew such deals were in place. I doubt that will be the case next time around.

Rock, I believe in this case they're seeking to export LNG outside of the US, to FTA and non-FTA countries. I also believe you will find they were just approved by DOE for export to FTA countries.

But you do bring up an interesting scenario. Any long-term contracts would likely be with external countries. Should things turn around in several years and there were shortages in the US then I'd expect prices to climb and an export terminal to quickly turn around and function as an import terminal. Of course, the US would have to be willing to pay the world market rate for LNG though...

Trust me, it's not too early to start thinking about these things :)

ty - Thanks for the update. I assumed by export they meant out of the country and not the state. BTW: what's "FTA"? Maybe exported LNG would be long term contracts with foreign buyers. But there are existing long NG contracts, in ground ownerships, Right of First Refusal deals, etc. I've been trying to get a handle on the volume but it's impossible. My contacts will tell me very little. They won't even discuss the situation in general...such deals are very confidential and are not typically made public. But I do know that a good bit of capital is being supplied to the shale gas players by utility companies and some other end users. And such deals usually include preferential ownership at least part of the production.

As I mentioned earlier, later this week we'll spud a well and every cubic foot of NG will go the plant next door... none of it will leave the county let alone make it to my Yankee cousins...no matter what they would be willing to pay. Not much of a front page story now but as NG eventually develops a supply problem these deals will be inflammatory. And we won't necessarily have to wait for long term shortages. Heating season shortages could bring this subplot to the surface. If you didn't catch my earlier post, back in the late 70's there were a lot of such deals in place and they did disrupt some of the deliveries from those who could afford the price but weren't able to due to pre-existing arrangements. And almost no one outside the business were aware of this. The "haves" didn't want the "have not" to know about it.

On February 2nd, 2011 ERCOT Texas ran out of natural gas to fuel it's power plants. A several hour rolling blackout (up to 4,000 MW of demand turned off) during severe, near record cold.

Fortunately, wind was producing several times more than the capacity that they were counted on for (3,500 to 4,000 MW during the black-out vs. (vague memory) 900 MW "firm" capacity).

Wind production before the black-out saved NG for the shortfall. With zero wind, Texas could have seen a catastrophic failure of the grid. At the very least, a severe and prolonged rolling blackout.

Best Hopes for more Texas Solar PV for next Summer,


FTA stands for Free Trade Agreement countries.

There has been no shortage of marcellus gas as of recent, and if the company with the LNG terminal happened to own/operate most of the transmission pipeline infrastructure associated with the marcellus, then they could rather easily get gas from the shale region to the terminal. The locals don't really care who gets the gas as long as they get a cut of the money. Luckily there are very few locals out in marcellus land anyway.

I predict that gas prices will rise rather quickly once shale gas starts going overseas for export. They'll be loading up ships as fast as they can, non-stop, given the choice to sell it here for $4/mmbtu or ship it to Asia for $12/mmbtu.

ty - Thanks...thought it was something along those lines. "Luckily there are very few locals out in Marcellus land anyway." Are you referring to operating companies or land owners?

As far as the LNG terminal owning pipelines and infrastructure it won't automatically get them the NG. The produces will sell to the highest buyer. Which is why the LNG folks will probably have to tie up NG in the ground on the same long term basis that they contract to sell LNG. Typically in such trades a buyer won't commit to long term purchases unless the seller proves the capability to deliver. This is where "call" or direct ownership on any future NG production becomes a valuable commodity. Valuable in that companies have paid many $millions upfront to secure calls. For instance to get financing for a NG fired e-plant the plant owners need to show a guaranteed supply of NG at a fixed price typically for 10 years...or longer. Same deal on most pipeline financing.

As I said it won't be a long term issue for some years. But in the short term, as Allan mentioned above about NG shortages just this last summer in Texas, we might have long to wait for tempers to flare. It could happen just this coming winter: theoretical headline: "Home owners in PA suffer freezing cold when NG supplies don't reach them. In the meantime folks in Chicago are snug and warm thanks to NG coming from the PA Marcellus wells." Such circumstances did happen in the late 70's and even many insiders weren't aware of it.

Rare Earth Elements - Critical Minerals Ignite Geopolitical Storm

...The geopolitical implications of critical minerals have started bringing together scientists, economists and policy makers who are trying to cut a path through the growing thicket of challenges. In that spirit, on Monday, 10 October, 2011, Eggert and other professors will be presenting their research alongside senior staff from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the Executive Office of the President of the U.S., the U.S. Geological Survey, in a session at the meeting of The Geological Society of America in Minneapolis.

"Nine bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to address supply disruptions of rare earths and other important mineral commodities."

Benedetto will be explaining the meaning and status of those bills, and what it will take to get them signed into law.

GSA Rare Earth Elements Session: http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/session_28509.htm

- Nonrenewable Resource Constraints on the Deployment of Renewable Energy Technologies
- A National Critical Materials Strategy -- Perspective from the White House
- Critical Minerals for the 21st Century - A Strategy for Supply Sustainability
- Legislation on Critical Minerals and Materials in the 112th Congress
- Between A Rock And A Hard Place: Shaping Federal Policies on Critical Minerals and Materials
- Rare Earths and Other Critical Elements: Economic and Policy Perspectives
- Energy Critical Elements: Securing Materials for Emerging Technologies
- Critical Minerals Science at the U.S. Geological Survey
- Rare-Earth Element (REE) Resources in Northeastern Canada: Advanced Projects and Potential Exploration Environments
- REE and Critical Materials – The Role of Exploration and Economic Geology

The clean energy economy of the future hinges on a lot of things, chief among them the availability of the scores of rare earth elements (REE). The result could be that China not only will control the REE supply, but the manufacture of REE technology as well.

Other abstracts from GSA

Peak Everything – Mineral Resources and Human Needs

Concerns about resource shortages are not limited to petroleum and the most recent panic has been about rare earth elements (REE). …But REEs are somewhat the “flavor of the day” and it is predictable that several years down the road other commodities such as lithium, helium, or phosphorus may be in shortage. Scrutiny of the periodic table and average crustal abundances suggests that as world population continues to grow past the current ~7 billion and living standards in populous countries like China, India, and Brazil continue to rise, “peak everything” is a likely result.


Eight Negative Public Misconceptions about Mineral, Fuel, And Water Resources

… Myth-Natural Resources [NR] are finite. NR are economically elastic and fungible (interchangeable). Hubbert’s (1956) peak of oil in the US (1970) was caused by the declining uninflated price of oil from 1931 to 1973 (Cheney and Hawkes, 2007). Almost all “peak” scenarios assume that the endowment of a NR is fixed; although true for small areas, economics, science, technology, recycling, and substitution make global NR virtually infinite. Gasoline will always be available (at some higher price), but eventually much may be manufactured from natural gas, tar, cellulose, coal, algae, and/or oil shale.

"economics, science, technology, recycling, and substitution make global natural resources virtually infinite"

Humpty Dumpty couldn't do better.

I do love that little weasel-word "virtually".

and I love how "recycling" and "science" and "technology" just happen, magically, without themselves requiring large energy inputs (consuming even more resources). somehow entropy doesn't figure in this writer's universe.

that old joke about the economists trapped in the coal mine is too true to be really funny.

Virtue and Virtual are two very different words. I've not got a good dictionary handy, but I think they may descend from different roots, as well as having almost opposite current-day meanings.


a. Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.
b. An example or kind of moral excellence: the virtue of patience (or as used here, the virtue of truth?).


1. General: Having most properties, the appearance, essence, or effect, of something without being that thing.
2. Computing: Feature or operation that does not exist but appears to be so. For example, a RAM disk is actually a partition of a computer's random access memory but acts and is seen like a real disk. See also transparent.

"economics, science, technology, recycling, and substitution make global natural resources virtually infinite"

TRANSLATION: "...make global resources "SEEM TO BE infinite although they are not."

Since most people associate the world virtual with the word, virtue, nobody really knows what this writer is meaning to say. My guess is that he/she means it to say "truly infinite." That's how most people use it. Virtually is a much overused and mistunderstood world. Words matter.

Were I the editor for the writer of that sentence, I would have to take it to him/her for clarification and figure a way to "say more clearly" what the author intended.

Almost all “peak” scenarios assume that the endowment of a NR is fixed; although true for small areas ...

What is with these people. Did they skip first year calculus. Can't they get their mind around the fact, that if something is True for a small area (a set) - and the world is a superset of 'small areas', then what is True for the set is True for the superset.

The thing geologists miss is the importance of price. The resource can be there, but if the price is too high, it might as well not be there.

Gail, the geologists know that, and it doesn't matter to them. They are not responsible for doing any more than assessing availability, and have neither interest nor inclination to determine practicality.

What is surprising to me is that it is the economists who miss the importance of price.


They're too busy collecting their Glittering Prizes.

A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks "What do two plus two
equal?" The mathemetician replies "Four." The interviewer asks "Four,
exactly?" The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says,
yes, four exactly.
Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question "What
do two plus two equal?" The accountant says "On average, four - give or take
ten percent, but on average, four."
Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question "What
do two plus two equal?" The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the
shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says "What do you want it to


(but give or take some for economic headwinds)

Gail - I'll cut you some slack and say you're correct 50% of the time. LOL. The ones you are correct about are the newbies...the youngsters who haven't worked in the oil patch long enough to know what's really important. They essentially think the world revolves around their interpretations. You correct: they have difficulty separating the science from the bottom line. They think they were hired to reveal the secrets of Mother Earth. When I worked with bigger companies me and the other old hands would wonder how long it would take the FNG’s to catch on and turn themselves into useful mammals. LOL.

Then there's the other 50% like me. We don't give a flip about unraveling the earth's mysteries. It's all about one thing: $$$$$$$. LOL. Really. I became fairly bored with geology many years ago. I stay up with developing ideas and engineering application for one reason and one reason only: the bottom line. I may map a prospect and calculate XXX bbls potential. But once I calculate the probability of success, reduce the production by the royalty and production taxes, estimate the drilling and completion costs then I reduce it to meatball economics. The net undiscounted income divided by the total cost. Thus a project is quickly reduced to an X times return. Our base objective is 6+ to 1 return. Not that each project hits that high mark but it is limiting parameter. Once I've reduced it it this level I don't think in terms of bbls or mcf. It's the short my cohorts and I use: it's not a 4 bcf prospect...it's a 3 to 1 deal...IOW nothing else to talk about. LOL. I can remember a specific prospect I drilled in Texas two years ago had a 7 to 1 potential but I don't think I can make a good guess what the oil/NG volumes were projected to be.

Maybe that’s reason old farts like me are still around after all the booms and busts. It’s about survival. And that’s not about geology…it’s all about profits.

This may be slightly nitpicky, but I think it is more accurate to say REE represent a "supply-chain constraint" rather than a "natural resource constraint on the deployment of renewable energy technologies." Of course most of those attending such a session probably already know that current global shortages of rare earths are due to above-ground factors, namely the withdrawal of critical support for REE extraction and processing technology vis-a-vis the U.S. Bureau of Mines in the United States and elsewhere in the West, rather than a shortage of available resources themselves. China has effectively exploited this situation as well as its own high-quality REE resources to assert an effective monopoly over the elements today, but once the lead time of ~5-10 years for new REE projects has elapsed I think it is very likely that the price of these minerals will decline and possibly even collapse (imagine if China decided to dump all its REE onto the market to undercut these new projects just as they were scheduled to come online...)

While there are some parallels to PO, it may not be helpful to those wishing to convince others of a need for transition to use the example of REE, since additional exploration and investment in this area is likely to alleviate the supply shortages over the medium to long term. A casual observer might see that this is the case and assume the same would be true for oil or other resources exploited to the point of a geological peak, i.e. if we simply open up more areas for oil and gas drilling and loosen environmental protections, for instance, it is likely to have a similar effect. I think it's worth noting this is a different situation with different outcomes beyond the short term because the supply shortage in rare earths, unlike oil, did not result from overexploitation of the resource. In fact, I would argue just the opposite is true, that Western markets in particular underestimated the growing importance of rare earths over the last decade or two and that the current undersupply/monopoly situation is a result of underinvestment in light of this oversight.

How much of the underinvestment do you think is due to higher costs imposed by envorinmental regs? How much was due to not being able to compete against cheap Chinese REEs (until recently)? China has made a horrible mess of their environment by only caring about REE production the envorinmnet be damned. They obtained the current monopoly by making the price so low the competition had to throw in the towel.

Seedbank Vaults Hedge Against Apocalypse

Once a traditional, year-to year practice by smallholding farmers to develop sturdy varietals, this simple act of putting seed aside has more and more become the concern of international affairs and corporate policy.

All worship the Golden Ox!


What remains unclear is where the hotel, with its 826 bedrooms and dining facilities for 5,000 guests, will find its patrons. Local officials confidently predict a tourist rush, but if it does not materialize then their golden ox may come to resemble nothing no much as a great white elephant in the sky.

China is stepping hard on the accelerator to pass us and be the first over the cliff...

That is absolutely insane.

Brain 'Rejects Negative Thoughts'

One reason optimists retain a positive outlook even in the face of evidence to the contrary has been discovered, say researchers.

A study, published in Nature Neuroscience, suggests the brain is very good at processing good news about the future. However, in some people, anything negative is practically ignored - with them retaining a positive world view.

Scientists at University College London said about 80% of people were optimists, even if they would not label themselves as such.

It suggests the brain is picking and choosing which evidence to listen to.

This may explain the near impossibility of convincing someone about the crisis ahead.

related: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-10-brain-imaging-reveals-optimistic-r...

Does that mean that doomers have atypical brains?

Maybe their elephant is less easily frightened or has a more detemined rider?


I was thinking the other 80% were missing something.

It has developed that TODers have a very disproportionate number of posters with Asperger Syndrome.

And I am noted for my optimism even while accepting the same reality as the doomers.

I still see uncertainty and complexity too difficult to forecast and I try to "make a bad situation a little bit better".

Best Hopes :-)


Scientists at University College London said about 80% of people were optimists, even if they would not label themselves as such.

Same percentage as right-handed people....coincidence, or are left handers mostly non-optimists, many of whom frequent the Oil Drum?

Any chance of a poll to figure out if the proportion of left handed readers of TOD is the same as, or higher than, the proportion of left handers in the general population? :)

Slavery: A 21st Century Evil

A look at oil's predecessor (and possible replacement)

Updating the article up top 'Kuwait customs strike, threaten oil exports', oil exports out of Kuwait have now been halted:

Customs strike halts Kuwait oil shipments

All vessel traffic in and out of Kuwaiti ports is halted and oil tanker traffic has stopped on Monday as Kuwait customs union went on a strike, two shipping sources based in Kuwait said.

'All vessel movements in and out of Kuwaiti ports are suspended,' a shipping source said, adding that at least five oil tankers were waiting to depart from Mina Al Ahmadi port, which handles the bulk of Kuwait's oil exports.

Kuwait is among the world's top crude oil exporters with biggest customers mostly from Asia. It has a 930,000 barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity.


Unrelated to this, Nigeria is also experiencing disruptions:

Nigeria blast leads to Shell force majeure

An explosion at a pipeline in Nigeria has led Shell to declare force majeure on some crude oil exports from the country for almost three months.


Iraq delays auction for energy exploration blocks

BAGHDAD — Iraq has delayed an auction due next year for a dozen oil and gas exploration blocks to provide bidders with more information about the areas on offer and contracts, the oil ministry said on Monday.

Iraq announced the sale, the fourth of energy contracts to foreign majors since 2009, in April. A total of 12 exploration blocks are on offer -- seven gas and five oil.

Would You Buy A Natural Gas Car If You Could Fill Up At Home?

The CNG vehicle industry thinks that its lack of traction comes from a lack of fueling stations. But there is one place everyone has access to gas: their kitchen. What if you could fill up your car from your stove?

One way to get rid of some of that surplus housing stock ;-)

Tom Whipple has a compressor at home with two CNG cars (one a Honda Civic GX, the other I forgot).

Properly installed, better than storing 5 gallon containers of gasoline when a shortage looms.


What kind of compressor is needed for this job? Will an ordinary auto mechanic style air compressor work, or is something more exotic needed to prevent explosions?

A specialty compressor - but I stopped at several booths during the recent APTA meeting in New Orleans and have some leads if you are interested. Click my name to get my eMail.

Best Hopes,


Thanks but no. I was mostly just curious about how difficult it might be. I'm really more interested in moving to someplace with better public transportation and one or more car sharing outfits, so that I don't have to buy and pay for any more cars.

Wise :-)

Best Hopes for More Wisdom,


Re: When subsidies are not on the level., up top:

I have complained many times about the hypocrisy of the anti ethanol crowd who attack ethanol subsidies but are mum about fossil fuel subsidies. It is encouraging to find out that some people are finally waking up. I like this quote from the article:

The fact is, however, that subsidies for renewable energy are dwarfed - absolutely dwarfed - by subsidies to fossil fuels and to nuclear. It is a completely uneven playing field with regard to subsidies. I think it's urgent to address subsidies to correct market distortions. We need to bear in mind with renewables that there are broader global regional and national benefits.

A group has been formed to fight fossil fuel subsidies. It is called the Dirty Energy Money Campaign. Ross Hammand is the Coordinator to try to end oil subsidies.


Rise of the Machines: Why We Keep Coming Back to H.G. Wells’ Visions of a Dystopian Future

...Wells’ novels focus on how science and technology frighteningly play out in the absence of this “ethical progress.” He made that clear in the introduction to War of the Worlds — his famous 1898 account of a Martian invasion of Earth, endlessly spun off in movies like Independence Day and Battle Los Angeles. Neither the 1938 Mercury Theater nor Steven Spielberg’s 2005 version with Tom Cruise includes Wells’ explanation for why the Martians attacked Earth: that their own planet was cooling beyond habitation.

And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.

And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?

Change the 'cooling' to 'warming' and WE are the New Martians.

In those movies the viewer is given a black and white position of we the earthlings are in the right and what right do they have to come and invade our planet? However, you are right in that humankind gives little if any concern for the damage we do to other species. That was the point of another movie, Avatar, in which humans are depicted as being unfeeling for the destruction wrought upon the ecosystem for profit.

Everything for humankind is from the vantage point of 'ME'. This can be seen in every day life. If you confront someone about something they did wrong, they do not accept it or reflect upon that feedback, instead usually opting for finding fault in the one providing the feedback in the first place. In Avatar, one of the indigenous people, a woman, says to the human, "You are but babies", meaning at the consciousness level of a baby vs. an adult.

This is probably why civilization as we know it must collapse, so that whatever rises in its wake, will be a slightly higher thought level and more in tune and concerned with the Earth and all its lifeforms.

Since this is Columbus Day, I will quote him about the Taino.

They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will..they took great delight in pleasing us..They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal..Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ..They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.

In thirty years, between 80% and 90% of the population died ... In hopes of gaining a pyrrhic victory over the Christians, some Taínos refused to plant or even harvest their crops and in doing so, the supply of food became so low in 1495 and 1496 that some 50,000 died from the severity of the famine. By 1507 their numbers had shrunk to 60,000.

The children of Taino women survive till today, but the full blooded Taino have been gone for over 400 years.


Anyone wanting a very good, fairly balanced account may find it at:


As in all such, exagerations abound, supported by some evidence. Though the amerinds returned as slaves by Columbus to defray expenses, most died of disease without returning to their homes.

Also of note, the Taino were already threatened by the Caribes - a native group that would almost certainly have displaced them in due course. Goodness may be found, but is rare amoungst the species, homo sapiens sapines. We cannot be certain what will be a survival trait for us; time will tell. Methinks it is cooperation that will allow some to find their way through the decline of the age of man... if any do. If so, a better future could lie ahead. Nature, though, is a cruel thing.

Best hopes for mankind.


Lukoil to Spend $10 Billion This Year, Stemming Oil Output Drop

In the first half of this year, Lukoil’s crude and natural- gas output fell for the first time in the company’s history as Russian taxes drove it to seek more projects abroad. The Moscow- based producer plans to return Russian output to growth in 2013.

S - That sounds like a lot of capex at first. But add that to "OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer...expected capital spending to increase...to about $11 billion this year." Tried unsuccessfully to find the #1 budget but no luck. So just a WAG but the potential total budget for Russia may be around $30-40 billion for this year? Seems rather light for all the upside some folks attribute. Maybe the potential is there but they're capex constrained. Maybe technical constarined? Or maybe they don't really have that much left to develop even at current high prices.

Maybe one of our smarties can shed some light.

Russia Ready to Help Indebted Euro Zone Countries

Russia could attain a balanced budget next year, if oil prices remain at $93 a barrel and the country does not increase the Reserve Fund, the Finance Ministry said Monday.

"Everything that is above [this price] will go to increasing our reserves," said acting Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

In order for the government to balance the federal budget in 2012 and refill the Reserve Fund, oil prices should grow to $108 a barrel this year and $117.2 a barrel next year, he said at a session of the Federation Council.

SPE Arctic: AEE 2011 Moscow is Center Stage for Key Arctic Dialogue

Having the world's longest Arctic coastline, Russia lays claim to the greatest volume of undeveloped hydrcarbon reserves in the world - a 21st Century "sweet spot" if you will. So this month, SPE, together with Reed Exhibitions, invites specialists from around the world to Moscow for its first Arctic & Extreme Environments Exhibition & Conference. The event takes place 18 to 20 October in the All-Russian Exhibition Center.

The three-day expo will host representatives of dozens of Russian and foreign oil companies and service companies including BP, Rosneft, Total, Gasprom, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and others.


"...BP, Rosneft, Total, Gasprom, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and others."

Anybody gotta a drone?

[Sorry: Example of how one who is dedicated to infinite altruism can be corrupted, if for only a moment, by corporations (and drones).]


If the world suffers from irrational optimism. If the world suffers from ignorance. If the world won't listen to negative musings about possible futures then maybe the best way to reach people is to be successful and act in a morally centered way, maybe a hugely successful and well publicized green energy business would be what is needed to spur action and change peoples thinking? Maybe the best thing as individuals or even collectively is to start companies which act in the way we would like them to. If we can't win by proving them wrong then maybe we can win by proving ourselves right? This is just food for thought, something im considering very strongly myself.

Richard Watts
New Zealand

Insight: New bankruptcy ripples may emerge in tough economy

... Some bankruptcy and restructuring experts warn a fresh U.S. recession could trigger a string of failures to rival the one that followed Lehman Brothers, which in 2008 filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

"It's getting busier for everyone I know," said Jay Goffman, the co-head of the Global Restructuring Group at law firm Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. "I think 2012 will be a busy year and 2013 and 2014 will be extraordinarily busy years in restructuring."

From NYT: The Year of Peril and Promise in Energy Production

WASHINGTON — Global energy markets were rocked over the past year by a series of natural, political and market upheavals that are likely to affect patterns of energy supply and consumption for decades.

Greetings, TODers,

How I wish we could have a potluck! (like, tonight would be good.)

In any case, I'd like to have your comments on this:

As I wrote above to Ron, it happens I'm acquainted w. a number of scientists, some of them "big dudes/dudesses" in their respective fields. I bring up "peak." I send links. (I never cry.)

I just received a reply. Background: In this "round" of correspondence - I'd sent a link to Ugo Bardi's article.


I received back this link, embedded in the response below:


There was an interesting article in Physics Today this month "Science
controversies past and present", by Steven Sherwood (October 2011, page
39, http://physicstoday.org/resource/1/phtoad/v64/i10/p39_s1).

In this, he writes about how easy it is to
convince an intelligent audience who are not experts in a field of either
side of a discussion using plausible arguments. He describes various
scenarios from history and the modern-day climate change debate, and
explains why non-experts can be convinced of either side of an argument,
even when the correct version is clear to experts. I think it contains a
lot of truth, even if it's a little alarming.


So, I ask you, dear TODers, dear (mostly) sane and (quite) invisible friends, please share with Ms. Aniya, who is quite lonely at this moment:

What's your take on this?

And I welcome suggestions, as well.


Peak Oil is a cross-disciplinary issue and one of the core sciences, petro-geology, is quite inexact. There is no one "expert" or even way to analyze the issue. A group of academics, industry professionals and just interested and intelligent people have tackled a number of issues with real time "peer review". "Appeal to authority" is not allowed, but facts and logic are used.

In one example, concerning the status of depletion of Ghawar, the world's largest oil reservoir, a Physics PhD presented a hypothesis that was disputed by a leading reservoir engineer (he had been paid to characterize every reservoir in the North Sea but two and is considered the leading reservoir expert in that area). After an extended period, they reached a joint conclusion that was a modification of the original hypothesis and presented that at a conference.

If relentless peer review is the path to truth, then many aspects of Peak Oil have received that scrutiny.

I hope that helps,


Waaaahhh, thanks for reminding me to take some food out of the cat safe and put it in the freezer (Potluck clue).

I note, again, that someone says that people were talking about fossil fuels running out 20 years ago and what has happened. Yep, those people were quite right, they are. What I find interesting is that whoever talks about it here Ewan, Rembrant, Gail, Rockman, Westexas etc etc or outside bodies that are not just reporting what they are told to by government are all saying the same. All the models seem to be in agreement, fossil fuels are running out. The only discrepancies, that I have noted, are a variation in when and how badly. I don't recall any that are optimistic past 2050.

As for climate change my personal feeling is that we are too late. We have started something that will run under its own inertia. Even if we stop all emissions tomorrow it will be a long time before what we have put there already will go and in the mean time that will free even more from the earth. By the time it can be seen without the need for careful measurement, by the time people can just look and see the change......... enough, I don't want to go there.

Well, I guess I will try and work to improve my bit around here and make better what I do. I had a reminder, earlier, that I need to get on with my solar water heater. My cold water has been warm enough for a comfortable shower until today where we have been overcast from Hurricane Jova, the water was chilly.

Mind you, if non-experts could not be convinced by experts then politicians would be out of a job as they would not be able to convince Joe Public that they are the best:)


It sounds to me like he agrees with what Ugo Bardi wrote.

Aniya, thanks for the post. Basically I see your question as "why do scientists disagree"? After all, scientists, far more so than the general public, are supposed to just look at the evidence and then form an opinion as to what the evidence supports. But then why do so many wind up on opposite sides of the fence from their fellow scientists.

Well I would submit that it depends on the weight of the evidence. Scientists are just human like the rest of us. They have a world view just like most people and unless the evidence is so strong it cannot be denied, they will continue to view the world as they always have.

Take plate tectonics for instance. Alfred Wegener produced the first edition of "Continental Drift" in 1915 and later editions in 1920, 1922, and 1929. He produced very strong evidence of his theory of continental drift but no one was persuaded. The idea was crazy everyone thought, the continents are fixed and cannot possibly move across the surface of the earth. But after the Navy mapped the ocean floor, producing clear and overwhelming evidence Wegner's theory, then and only then, did everyone come on board. They had too because the evidence was just too overwhelming.

Ideas have momentum. Even wrong ideas have momentum. Any theory that goes against the grain of a person's world view will never be accepted unless the evidence is so strong it cannot possibly be denied. And it would probably shock you as to how strong evidence must be to overturn a person's world view.

And by world view I mean a person's idea of how the world works. Most people's world is divided up into at least two sides, us and them. Actually there are many different groups of "us" that make up a person's world. There is the "us" of religion, Baptist verses Pentecostal, Protestant verses Catholic, Christianity verses Islam and so on. Groups of us and subgroups of us. Then there is the "us" of nations, the US verses Germany and so on. But the point is "our" view of the world is the right view and "their" view of the world is simply wrong. And scientists are not immune from this predilection.

Believe it or not, a very strong part of most world views is the view that, generally, all is right with the world. That is nothing really, really bad can ever happen to the human population. The things that are going wrong right now are "their fault" and it can be fixed if we only had the right leaders and the right policies. Every problem can be fixed, we only need to find the right fix and the right people to implement that fix. Something can always be done to get us out of every mess.

Most people believe that even if oil production goes into decline we will just find "something else". But most everyone realizes that finding and implementing this fix of "something else" will take time, a lot of time. Therefore there must be enough oil left in the ground to get us over this hump. Depending on which cornucopian you listen too, we have either "many decades" before we hit that plateau or many hundreds of years before we see any kind of problem.

It must be so because that is the way they see the world. It is simply a belief system.

Ron P.

Indeed, Ron, most believe that all is well, nothing to see here. Or, in the words of the immortal Candide, my dear Pangloss, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". Wonderful parody, filled with elegant sarcasm!

Clearly, Voltaire would have been a regular at TOD had he but been alive during the appropriate era.

Not a problem we can solve. I have come to believe, more and more, that preparing individuals for the collapse is far more important than trying to inform the masses - which is an impossible task.

Best hopes for individuals.


Aniya - Here's a real life example from just a couple of weeks ago. We drilled a well with a group of partners...all experienced and reasonable hands. The deal required the well to be drilled to penetrate a specific reservoir seen in offset wells. If we didn't reach that sand we didn't earn any production rights. So we logged the well and all the smart and honest geologists with the different partners made their correlations. And SHAZAM!...some thought we had penetrated the reservoir and others didn't. Needless to say the geologic correlation was anything but straight forward. That's not unusual in the world of geology. But knowing that this factor was addressed in the contract: if there is a honest disagreement with this interpretation the majority opinion ruled. And that meant my geologits's interpretation was rejected. So we drilled the well deeper and logged it again. And guess what...SHAZAM!....turns out that my geologist was right. All the other geologists now agree with him. And remember we all shared a common goal: making a NG well. There was no conflict of interests. It wasn't like the different debaters on global warming. We all wanted the same result: make an onscene profit. LOL

You know the old joke: everyone has an opinion just like everyone has a butthole. But an interpretaion is just another opinion presented with a list of supporting facts. To what degree someone else accepts or rejects those "facts" can essentially turn any interpretaion into one more incorrect opinion or an accepted fact.

I enjoyed the article on its merits. A historian of science, on the other hand, would flip out over stuff like this:

Copernicus’s calculations surpassed all others in their ability to describe the observed courses of the planets, and they were based on a far simpler conception. Yet most people would not accept heliocentricity until two centuries after his death.

(Hasn't this guy ever heard of Kepler?)

The first sentence quoted is false. The Copernican model actually required more epicycles than Ptolemy's due to continuing the assumption of perfect circular motion. Only after Kepler correctly described planetary orbits was the heliocentric model more accurate. (And only after Newton's inverse square law explained Kepler's ellipses was the whole cosmology accepted by everyone.)

Well off topic but one for the rockhounds here. Some erosion in action


NAOM - Cool...thanks. Similar to a video I saw years ago of a fall on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Despite the perception of many most of the GC wasn't dug by the river but by edge falls like your video shows. The river did haul away the debris. And as indicated erosion is often very slow until it's not. And then it's over in second and appears to once again be a relatively calm process.

Possibly the most dramatic example of rapid erosion on earth is the Missoula Floods, in which the collapse of ice dams at the end of the last (and many previous) ice age(s) flooded eastern Washington state to depths of 1000ft.

Bern Flood Causes Millions Worth of Damage

Officials say some areas are getting rainfalls seen only once a century

At the bases of those cliffs there are fans of rubble, sorry I can't remember the technical name for them. After seeing the above vieo I can understand much better how they are formed. Nice pic, why is man so arrogant to think the earth always stays the same as he is personally used to?


Alluvial Fans. I've always found erosion geography fascinating.

Glacier lakes: Growing danger zones in the Himalayas
Fears rise of huge outburst flooding in the Himalayas as glaciers melt due to climate change


Talking about oil subsidies in India, I should mention this article that my father just wore for an Indian newspaper:


There should be no understatement. One example is grossly inadequate provision for subsidy to oil marketing companies to cover their losses due to administered prices. While making provision for this, government can also indicate the losses claimed by oil companies based on their accounts.

Basically whats happening is that the subsidies for petroleum products is very high and the government is playing shell games to hide the actual amount going into these subsidies. What makes it worse is that the Indian government is having to borrow money to pay for these subsidies - very different from the middle eastern countries in this respect.

Chris Hedges defends OWS during interview Chris Hedges shuts down CBC Kevin O'Leary - Occupy Wall Street (VIDEO)

They know precisely what they want. They want to reverse the corporate coup that's taken place in the United States and rendered the citizenry impotent. And they won't stop until that happens. And frankly, if we don't break the back of corporations, we're all finished anyway since they're rapidly trashing the ecosystem on which the species depends for survival. This is literally a fight for life.

Hedges also has an article in The Occupied Wall Street Journal, Issue 2 called This Rebellion Will Not Stop.

And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in serious trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don’t know what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind.

I would go for worker ownership of companies and worker ownership of the country.

First Obama was going to save us. Now 0.002% of the population protesting is going to save us. I find it hard to believe in a revolution that involves no work and no organization.

Don't you truly mean you don't believe in a cause in which you don't participate. I feel the same way. That is why I've chosen to participate in my local Occupy Jax Forum by adding my strong work ethic and organizational skills.

Looking far into the future and asking will the participation matter. I truly don't know. But when the future arrives, I don't want to look back and say I didn't particpate.

Naomi Klein also has an article in the OWS Journal above called The Most Important Thing in the World and states:

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite – fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions.

EDIT: Added Naomi Klein

I don't think they would be claiming that they are going to save us.. Like most public expressions, I think they want us to hear them, and then do something.

It seems that even as an Ad-hoc approach, there are a lot of people working and organizing, writing and speaking out in this. .. and of course, there are also a lot of other people who have the time and motivation to be involved because of 'No Work'

I do agree with your idea of Worker Owned Businesses. Some Abandoned Factories in Latin America have been reborn in such a model. (Sorry, don't have time to find links..)


Thanks for the link to the Chris Hedges interview. He was quite clear in his analysis, after the talking head on CBC insisted on spouting the usual right wing nut rhetoric in an attempt to discredit his message. I watched a web broadcast of Hedges in a long interview at the Occupy Wall Street scene and I think he nailed it both times. We've got big problems and the financial world has only made things worse. I hope Hedges can keep on delivering his message, in spite of the MSM's attempts to denigrate him and ignore the message. Fraud is fraud and those who have participated in the excesses should be tried for their crimes and sent to jail (if not worse). Who is a bigger threat to the welfare of the people of the US, a "terorist" living in the Third World or the investment bankers on Wall Street and London?

E. Swanson

I like Hedges and think his views are interesting as far as they go. But like so many, he misses the larger forces of resource limitations, mainly energy, and how these forces are really driving the show. We would be much better off if people were not trying to manipulate the situation for their own benefits, but this is more of a symptom than a cause. If we could wrest control of the system from the corporatists and put the rule of law above all, we'd still be left with a system that cannot continue to provide all the fruits people desire and expect, because it was built on the un-earned benefits of empire and fossil fuel energy. Both of which are failing.

So it would be great to be able to spend some of what we have left on electric light rail rather than wars for oil and profit and giveaways to the wealthy, but there's a bigger problem.

This is another brilliant Chris Hedges interview. He really has his ducks in a row.


I have not been to US but can't help notice that every time someone talks about scaling down the big corporations or protecting the environment they are labeled as left-wing nutcases, is it just the MSM or even the man on the street is as polarized. I have not seen this behavior in other places.

I've lived my entire life in US. Grandparents on one side are immigrants from Canada. Grandparents on other side go back to colonial America and family rumor is I'm related to JFK. I have one heirloom of a red hand-blown vinaigrette set where tops of bottles are all shaped like pilgrim hats.

I would say the man on the street is just as polarized. I could be wrong, but I also feel it is a small minority. I am appalled at the disrespect exhibited in many quarters and will do what little I can to change this.

wi - We seemed to be as polarized as I've even seen in my 60 years. Just take the statement: "...scaling down the big corporations...". What does that mean to you? On the right it means killing corporate growth thus killing jobs and tax revenue. On the left it means stopping corporations from taking unfair advantage of current conditions. So which view is correct? Easy answer: depends on where you sit politically. IOW there is no single "correct" answer for the general population. Lots of opinions but no clear consensus. And our supposed 2-party system loves it that. As long as folks are polarized they can't coordinate efforts to change the system. A system that all TBTB like just the way it is IMHO. Just look at the coming presidential election" al the emphasis is on which guy would you prefer running the govt. No one is asking the question as to whether any one of them has a realistic plan for the future. Folks just make the assumption that if they just elect "their candidate" things will work out.

Just take the statement: "...scaling down the big corporations...". What does that mean to you?

For me it means breaking up the giants into smaller competitive units, after 2008 a lot of small banks went under and were gobbled up by bigger ones, same with corporations, the earnings of the largest conglomerates have been growing bigger and bigger in proportion to the GDP.

Yes the debate is highly subjective, perhaps I was not clear enough, but to me it seems like the ghost of Karl Marx being invoked in every debate, even when the issue isn't about ideology at all. Take the case of AGW or PO, I don't understand why someone has to be a communist nut to believe in these things. For me it's a matter of system dynamics beyond the scope of political ideology.

Maybe 40 years of cold war left images of the communist bogeyman too deep in society.

Big companies allow a smaller elite the privilege of drawing a greater personal profit.

The bigger the company, the more the individuals at the top can take.

The entire response to the financial crisis rests on this fact.

r4 - You must deal with a very different set of companies than I do. The small and very small companies are making much great profits than the big companies. Take the biggest company folks love to hate: ExxonMobil. Their rate of return has been around 10% for decades. I know of dozens of smaller companies that are making 5X or better what XOM is doing. Same situation with Halliburton: they are making chump change to compared to many small service compabnies I deal with. I know...I'm the one who approves their invoices. I know one company making their initial capex back every 4 months...and that's from net cash flow. That's happening inthe Eagle Ford. I know of a one-man company in the Eagle Ford trend that unsuccessfully tried to sell his acreage with a few metal buidlings a few years ago for $250,000. A couple of months ago he LEASED the property for $7.5 million for 5 years. In general almost all the companies with the highest ROI have been small to very small companies. There is virtually nothing ExxonMobil or Halliburton can do to increase their profitability significantly...they are just to large. All they have working for them now is current high oil prices. But thats word cuts both ways: NG is earning companies a great deal less then they had been projecting just 3 years ago...witness the stock declines in Chesapeake and Devon.

As far as how much the individual at that top take that's a matter between them and the owners/shareholders of the company. The companies charge for thier wares what the market will bear and those prices don't hinge on that factor on their compensation plans.

wi - Complex for sure. here's one example along the lines you propose: break up WalMart. Now we have dozens of small shops in a town instead of one big box store. And, narually , cost for the locals go up because the small shops can't get the volume discounts Walmart did. They also are less efficient but that might equate to more jobs.

So: good idea or not? Also, I work in an industry with any big corporations and they are extremely competitive with each other. Thus your statement has big exceptions. Perhaps it true with the banking industry. I'll let more knowledgable folks speculate.

"And, narually , cost for the locals go up because the small shops can't get the volume discounts Walmart did."

Can't -extort- the volume discounts Walmart did.

The cost of goods at Walmart is a lot more than the dollar cost of goods at Walmart. Others have written whole treatises on their questionable methods. To say nothing of near slave-labor in China, were an overwhelming percentage of the goods come from. They have a large role in the off-shoring of jobs, in some cases, forcing suppliers to move to China or face losing their contract.

But if the only metric people have is "low prices", so it goes. Actually, they need low prices because they are un- and under-employed, thanks to Walmart and their ilk. It's a wonderful system, if you're Walmart management.

I've seen a comment that 90% of WalMart's goods are made in China. WalMart is destroying small town America...

E. Swanson

Someone said WalMart is the outlet of the Peoples Republic of China.

It's more complicated than it appears. 55% of $ used to pay for Chinese products sold in Walmart stay in the US. Replacing Chinese products with US products would increase cost of products and quantity sold would decrease. I don't have proof but one could argue the 55% of $ Americans currently make on Chinese products would exceed the 100% $ Americans would make if products were produced in US.

I don't understand why someone has to be a communist nut to believe in these things.

It obviously doesn't. But there is some correlation of those beliefs with left/right attitudes. That is exploited to dismiss anyone expressing non partyline views. And it works pretty well, most are afraid to express such opinions, because they don't want to be lumped in with the starwmen. [A strawman argument is taking an extreme example of something, which can obviously be dismissed as crazy, then lumping anyone who has even the slightest similarity of an idea, as the equivalent]. It is a serious logical fallacy. But, because most people fall for it, it is a devastating public debate tactic.

Maybe 40 years of cold war left images of the communist bogeyman too deep in society.

In a few hundred years, what is left of humanity will not likely even know such groups or labels existed.

Yep... How many of us today remember the "Albigensian Crusade" ?

Yet the Catharist heresy was considered such a threat to Civilisation as We Know It that a 20-year war was fought to extirpate it from Languedoc (in the process, incidentally of course, quite a lot of territory got annexed to France). The Cathars with their dualist, gnostic theology were seen by the established Church as a clear and present threat to social order. Their beliefs, practices, etc. were anathema. They were hated and vilified at least as much as today's "Commies".

And now, who remembers any of it except historians... a lot of people were killed, tortured, and robbed. A lot of land was stolen. People who once were prosperous peasants were reduced to peonage. Mercenaries rampaged. Fields were burnt, harvests ruined. Family tragedies unfolded. Nefarious fortunes were made. Acts of heroism and kindness sparkled here and there on a background of gross brutality and cruelty. The tides of battle surged back and forth, the outcome was uncertain at times. There were plots and counterplots, elaborate and shady politics, great squanderings of wealth on military adventurism.

All because a bunch of believers in one part of the Francophone political territories thought that God was actually a twinned entity (a God of the base and physical world plus a God of the pure spirit, in perpetual tension and contest) -- that spirit was good and matter evil -- whereas the dominant theology insisted that there was but one God, who created all matter as well as spirit. To, say, a modern atheist or animist or neopagan (or to a contemporary Confucian) the entire debate seems far off and focussed on pinheads and angels, the Cathar and Catholic theologies more alike than disparate... So yep, the bitter wranglings between communists and capitalists over how to distribute the wealth gained by the liquidation of biotic and mineral resources by means of fossil-powered machinery may one day seem just as distant, futile, and irrelevant. They both agreed that bigger tractors were better: that monoculture, standardisation, economy of scale, technocracy and mass production were guaranteed pathways to success. They both thought all problems could be solved by throwing more horsepower or BTU at them. More alike than not, in the great fun-house mirror of hindsight, eh?


I use to say that Capitaism and Marxism is both industrial -isms that are dependant on an undisturbed supply of resources. The only difference is Capitalism actually work under those conditions (meaning it does what itis designed to do) but Marxismdoes not even work then. When tose resources run low, neither of them will work.

Why wouldn't capitalism work with low resources? In a capitalist system, resource use is optimized in the market economy, and that is just what is needed in the face of scarcity.

Good point. It would be nice to think that after over two decades since the Berlin Wall fell we would be free from the bogeyman of Marxism being thrown up anytime any serious discussion of wealth distribution comes up.

But really, it is the inherent contradiction of capitalism that it champions competition, that very competition ultimately and inevitably negates itself--once one or two companies 'win' in the marketplace and wipe out their competitors, there is no more competition.

Republicans once (beginning of the last century) understood this and were the dependable champions for the small business man over the monopolies. Now they mostly seem to swallow whatever their corporate mouthpieces tell them.

The feeling I get from my european horizon is that you are afraid of "commies" in the US because you have not had them. Thus you don't know what to look for. Everything that resembles your mssguided view of what comunismis will automaticly be discarded as comunism. Example: health care for poor people = communism. (No, it is not,it is a luxury that rich countrys can and in most cases will afford).

I grew up under social democracy. When I was a child we had a state own cab company (monopoly, off course).

Communism is bad, but all that is bad is not communism.

The tension seems really high right now. People on the left are becoming more left, people on the right are becoming more right and all of us who don't identify with either group are left adrift somewhere in the nebulous area in between. Personally I'm a little worried something is going to break. Things like occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is much deeper. It is difficult to say exactly what is wrong with America right now. There are probably a lot of different things wrong including higher prices brought on by resource constraints, but I think that one of the worst problems is that the trust is breaking down. I guess you could say we are reaching peak trust. This can be seen in the ever increasing number of conspiracy theories, people's frustration with the government and the villainization of the wealthy (something I’m guilty of myself sometimes). The people that were once looked to for answers are now becoming the enemy. I think that one of the best indicators of the problem is Jared Lee Loughner who went on a shooting spree killing six people including a nine-year-old girl, and also left 14 others injured, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Some time before this happened he asked Gabrielle Giffords a question. "What is government if words have no meaning?" This is a man who lost faith that people even have the ability to communicate! That is a breakdown of epic proportions, and the scariest part is that I can kind of understand what he's saying. When people redefine thing to suit their own ends communication becomes a bunch of meaningless noise, and dialog becomes nothing but empty words. I don't know this for sure, but it seems to me that some people are helping to maintain the tension in order to maintain the status quo. These people wish for things to remain the same for their own benefit, but I don't think that they really know what they are doing. They look at the left and the right and they think that they can balance the two sides against each other, but the real threat doesn't come from the left or the right. The real threat comes from the edges where the fabric of the whole system is becoming frayed. If trust is to be restored the people in power need to work together. If they can't do that they need to be replaced. I personality like the idea of people organizing and trying to elect third party candidates. If the attempt is big enough to succeed then maybe we can get some change(hopefully change for the better), and even if it fails maybe it will scare the two parties enough to get some change anyway.

This country is finished, Binder. I first "got it" in 2008, though I had an inkling in 2004. Don't think I'm bragging, though. Some really prescient people understood it all the way back in the early 80's.

IMHO the American populace currently thinks it is much more educated about economics & politics than it really is. They are like a bunch of students who can regurgitate a lesson down to the letter, but they don't understand the core principles at all. They are easily manipulated sheep for whoever is teaching the lessons.

1. Rule number one of Sheep Club: You don't talk about Sheep Club
2. Rule number two of Sheep Club: You don't talk about Sheep Club

... see here for rest of Fight Club rules

How many jobs are lost due to imported oil?

The big issue in Washington now is supposed to be jobs, jobs, jobs, but nobody is paying any attention to the huge costs of imported oil. So maybe it is time to focus on the link between the two problems.

Economic Development folks always tout the multiplier effect of new manufacturing jobs. Each new manufacturing job that brings outside money into a local economy (city or region) is said to produce something like 2.5 additional jobs in the local economy over the next few years. This could be called a positive multiplier.

Assuming this is all true, without quibbling about the exact size of the multiplier, I would assume that manufacturing jobs lost from a local economy would have a similar but opposite multiplier effect. Each manufacturing job lost from a local economy, due to a factory closing or some other reason, probably results in another two or more jobs lost from the local economy over the next year or so, due to less money circulating in the local economy.

Just to get some idea of the scope of this problem, let’s assume that each full time job is worth about $60,000 per year including benefits. and that the loss of this job costs two other jobs, for a total of three jobs lost from the local economy. And if we assume that each full time manufacturing job lost will cost a total of three jobs, can we say that each $20,000 drained out of a local economy will cost, on average, one job?

Do we get the same negative results when money is drained out of the national economy for other reasons, such as that $400 Billion spent each year for imported oil? Can we assume that $400 Billion lost from the economy each year is costing us 20 Million jobs?

Or, should we assume that each $60,000 drained from the economy costs only the two multiplier jobs? In that case, does that $400 Billion drained from the economy each year cost us only 13.3 million jobs?

Has anyone run across a good economic study that quantifies the negative multiplier effects of money drained out of an economy due to the cost of imported oil, or other imports? And if so, can you provide a copy, or a link to the report?

If we extrapolate the 2005 to 2010 data, the US would be well on its way to "freedom" from our reliance on foreign sources of oil.

I'm aware of that trend of reduced imports, but even as the amount of imported oil goes down, both the price and total cost of imported oil is likely to keep going up, making the drain on our economy a growing problem for many years into the future.

I'd like to make it more difficult for politicians to ignore this problem while they are pretending to be so concerned about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Breadman - A valid and obvious point IMHO. I wouldn't personally get hung up on the numbers though but whatever they truly are they must be significant. That's just common sense. Some causes are unavoidable: if a US plant can't compete with a foreign producer due to their low labor costs then that's how it is. OTOH we shouldn't make tax laws/policies that encourage such transfers.

As far as increasing the job count I know I tend to confuse folks when I advocate increased oil/NG drilling in the US. It has nothing to do with preventing PO...not enough left to drill. Not to make us "independent" of foreign...not going to happen. But increased drilling, in a responsible manner, brings lots of high paid jobs, $billions in royalty and tax receipts and reduces our trade imbalance by $billions. In a sense, the oil/NG industry is one of last big "manufacturing" operations we have. And one that can't be outsourced over seas. There will always be risks and downsides (especially huge ones thanks to incompetants like BP) but that's true of most activities. If folks don't want domestic development of oil/Ng that's fine but they should also appreciate what the economy loses.

I think we need to recognize that some of the policies that have driven jobs out of the US are the very safety and environmental laws that so many of us are proud of. If a corporate management has the opportunity to build its product where labor is cheaper and more docile, where there are no significant labor protections or environmental costs why not move? Assuming, of course, that the management has no sense of honor or patriotism. But I repeat myself.

It's very important that management does not have that "sense of honor or patriotism". For the world, I mean, and actually for the US too. It improves the rate at which wages and environmental regulation improves in the rest of the world, which has much greater marginal benefit than improving them in the US or Europe. This is a convergence we all need, even the first world countries, since it will improve stability and peace, lower fertility rates and lower global environmental harm. And actually, the US isn't even harmed by it economically, overall, since the inflow of cheap goods make us better off in terms of buying power. But it does need some adjustments in what you/we do.

jep - And that's the debate isn't it: it's not what's right or wrong in general but in your own sphere. Businesses relocate overseas and we lose jobs...bad for us. But good for those foreign workers. They may not be making US wages but they aren't in the US. They'll probably be making average or better than averages workers in their country. More importantly they now have a job that perhaps they wouldn't have otherwise. So that's a good move. Obviously most of such judgments won't be made in absolute terms but related to the effects on the individual.

Interesting concept: corporate " "sense of honor or patriotism". Many folks complain about corporations being given certain "person" rights. OTOH I suspect many of the same folks would also demand that corporations exhibit such personal attributes as honor and patriotism. Kinda tough to have it both ways.

Well that's exactly the problem, Rock, but I think you're describing it inside out.

They get to have the advantages of being counted as a person, but not the accountable responsibilities. THEY ARE getting to have it both ways, at OUR expense.

Personhood MIGHT be fine, if they were held to act as decent citizens who paid all their taxes and provided those little extras into their 'communities' that are expected to a reasonable degree of all of us. But they've slipped out without paying that Tip for a good spell now.

Businesses relocate overseas and we lose jobs...bad for us.

But neither is true. It seems intuitive that you lose jobs, but you don't - you work and the other guys work and the economy sorts out who does what to make total production high. Trade is a win-win activity. You should think of stopping outsourcing between US states or cities if you believe otherwise.

How many jobs are sustained by imported oil?

(go back and calculate for the US since 1970 or so)

Let's go oil-free - we'll have 100% employment by replacing the oily machines of convenience and the greasy parasites that feed on the oily industrial machine.

Kicking hybrids out of carpool lanes backfires, slowing traffic for all

The end of a California program granting free access to carpool lanes by solo drivers of hybrid cars has unintentionally slowed traffic in all lanes, according to transportation engineers at the University of California, Berkeley.

The counterintuitive results reflect dual – and opposing – influences on traffic speed in the carpool lanes, the researchers explained. One factor is the presence of additional cars, including hybrids, which slow down traffic. One might think that moving vehicles out would allow the remaining cars in the lane to go faster.

But the data show that traffic speed in the carpool lane is also influenced by the speed of the adjacent lanes. Moving the hybrids into the neighboring lanes increases congestion in those lanes, which in turn slows down the carpoolers.

Report: http://its.berkeley.edu/publications/UCB/2011/VWP/UCB-ITS-VWP-2011-4.pdf

Monkey-trapped again.

A rich man and his hybrid will not pass through the eye of the needle. oh darn.

Bargain(ing) hunters beware ; 0

Mitsubishi plans to flood Midwest town with electric cars

In an effort to prove electric cars will work even in the smaller cities of middle America, Mitsubishi Motors has launched an ad campaign touting how it is flooding the city of Normal, Ill., with up to 1,000 of its "i" electric cars.

We're fairly sure that the folks in Normal, population about 50,000, will like them: The town's economy counts on having a giant Mitsubishi auto plant in town. The plant makes about half the vehicles that the Japanese maker sells in the U.S.

Mitsubishi forgets to mention its connection to the town in the ad campaign that started yesterday.

Mitsubishi forgets to mention its connection to the town in the ad campaign that started yesterday.

Isn't that Normal ?


Remember Cool Hand Luke?

The Line: "What we have here... is a longage of expectations." (??? something like that ????)

If wishes were hybrids beggars would drive. We Industrial People are the monkey and all the dressing of our current "modern lives" are the banana.

Bargain away, but please don't be disappointed like Danny Yergin when the rest of the variables in the equation interfere with these plans (e.g. fuel sources, functional world economies, geopolitical harmony, fuel sources...)

"Aim Lower Icarus!! " said The Mother as She sighed, shook Her head and got out the Bar-B-Que sauce (homemade, of course).

Cool Hand Luke

I show the film every year to our class of behavioural kids (ages 11-14), which they really enjoy. Invariably they have never seen it before and its central theme of 'it's easy to end up in jail, but hard to get out of' is a relevant issue for them to consider. Plus other sub-themes like Luke's search for God, his dislike of the hero-worship that others lay on him, knowing when to quit (the boxing match), etc.
Plus there's the 50 eggs and the memorable Lucille.

The quote is, "What we have here is... failure to communicate" which is also a worthwhile concept to explore.
Great film

Get more companies to support telecommuting, then less cars commuting on the road, period.

A few Drumbeats ago there was listed Frontline's "Digital Nation."

It was quite neat to see the empty IBM facility built as a work hub, now that most IBMers were telecommuting from home.


A different spin on "guns or butter":

Foreign insects, diseases got into US

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation's food supply.

I distinctly remember that at one time post 9-11 the Florida State Patrol was so focussed on tracking rental box trucks and the like that people started seriously speeding. One fine fall afternoon, I got into my little VW to pick up my kids from school, accelerated onto I-10, and sped up to keep with traffic in the left lane. Just before my in-town exit, I glanced down at the speedometer - I was doing 95 mph just keeping up with the fast crowd.

Fungus could wipe out Philippine bananas: growers

A disease that has ravaged banana plantations across Southeast Asia could wipe out the Philippine industry in three years unless the government finds a cure, a growers' group warned Monday.

"If we can not contain this and it remains unchecked, then in less than three years our banana industry will die."

The Philippines is the second biggest exporter of bananas in the world behind Ecuador with about 70,000 hectares of plantations, according to the association.

The banana sector is also the country's fifth largest export industry, directly employing 280,000 people, it said.

All hail the microbes...

Look for Peak Recycling by Mother - Peak Saprophytes follows peak people?

Not the economy? GOP campaign focuses elsewhere

In an election that's supposed to hinge on jobs and the economy, the Republican presidential contest in recent months has been defined by almost everything else.

Immigration and children's vaccines. Race and religion. Homosexuality and health care. The issues range far from the economic woes that concern most voters, but they have captivated Republicans in New Hampshire and other early voting states, providing the candidates with ways to distinguish themselves from their rivals

Less than three months before the first voting of the GOP nomination fight, the candidates are raising a host of issues that don't speak directly to addressing the nation's 9.1 percent unemployment rate or the frail economy.

They've really played their hand. They now don't give a whit about the other 99% - no wonder OWS has taken off like it has. What I can't figure out is why anyone making less than a million a year votes for them. Seems like a self inflicted wound.

Earl, one thing in common for the politicians and the OWS - both seem to be AWOL mentally.

The end of the rope is frayed, just like the efforts of the angry and distracted participants in both groups.

Now I think I understand the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" thing.

Cacophony of phonies, riding on ponies, down wall street...

(all their chants sound the same to Mother - "wheres my nipple, my kingdom for a nipple..."

Now I think I understand the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" thing.

Cacophony of phonies, riding on ponies, down wall street...

(all their chants sound the same to Mother - "wheres my nipple, my kingdom for a nipple..."

You need to be careful not to sound like the people you are describing by way of that last sentence. Whoa!

Morgan Stanley Rigs NYC Electricity Bids

On September 30, 2011, the United States filed a Complaint alleging that a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley entered into an agreement with KeySpan Corporation, the likely effect of which was to increase prices in the New York City Capacity Market (NYISO Zone J), in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act...

On January 18, 2006, KeySpan Corporation ("KeySpan") and Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc. ("MSGC"), a subsidiary of defendant Morgan Stanley, executed an agreement (the "Morgan/KeySpan Swap") that ensured that KeySpan would withhold substantial output from the New York City electricity generating capacity market, a market that was created to ensure the supply of sufficient generation capacity for New York City consumers of electricity.

The likely effect of the Morgan/KeySpan Swap was to increase capacity prices for the retail electricity suppliers who must purchase capacity, and, in turn, to increase the prices consumers pay for electricity. For its part, Morgan enjoyed profits arising from revenues earned in connection with the Morgan/KeySpan Swap.

Read the Introduction (Sec 1) to see how this 'corporation' is no different than organized crime.

Now overlay this sort of greed on top of a society that is attempting to convert from FF to RE. Do you see a problem?

In 2010, Morgan Stanley had revenues of $31.6 billion. Their fine is $4.8 million. Fine = 0.0152%

"Do you see a problem?"

Collapse can't come quickly enough ????

Here's another side of the RE problem from comment dated January 2009:

Evergreen plans to raise about $400 million to build out a new 400 to 500 MW facility in Asia and use 12,500 metric tons of polysilicon it has secured through 2012. The company said it could delay construction until June 2009 if needed.

Evergreen was burned by project financing to complete the Devens facility. The company raised part of the $375 million by lending 30.9 million of its shares to Lehman Brothers, which was sold to Barclays. Barclays is now claiming ownership of 12.2 millions shares, while the rest are believed to have been sold.

Now Evergreen is bankrupt and the US is suing to claim ownership of the basic patents which Evergreen collected after using US R&D money to develop their production process. The Chinese are expected to bid for Evergreen assets when they are offered at auction 1 November as the result of the bankruptcy...

E. Swanson

Just to put Morgan Stanley's fine (0.0152%) in context

2 Starbucks Cappuccino = $7.50 vs income $50,000 = 0.0150%

s - This sounds potentially similar to the point I was making about NG distribution being controlled to some degree by calls and Rights of First Refusal along with direct ownership. I couldn't quit follow the trail of the Morgan/KeySpan Swap but the "swap" makes me think some sort of ownership control/option was involved. There may be a specific law forbidding such a trade but that's way beyond my understandings. "...that ensured that KeySpan would withhold substantial output from the New York City electricity generating capacity market". That might not have been a neighborly thing to do but that doesn't necessarily make it illegal. Same thing if a NY utility were to acquire a ROFR on a large volume of PA NG and having it either piped to NY or maybe just sold in PA to the highest bidder. Either action could increase the price of residential NG to folks in PA. Again, not a neighborly thing to do but not illegal.

I hadn't thought about other commodities beside oil/NG. But similar situations could develop with fuel oil, electricity, gasoline, water, etc. As resources become more scarce users will start to tie them up long term in some cases many years before they are actually produced. Remember: a shortage is only a shortage if you're one of the folks not being supplied. If I'm getting all the "___" I need then there is no shortage...as far as I'm concerned.

Sec V. Keyspan's Plan To Avoid Competition

and Sec VII. The Competitive Effect of the Morgan/Keyspan Swap ...

30. The clear tendency of the Morgan/KeySpan Swap was to alter KeySpan's bidding in the NYC Capacity Market auctions.
31. Without the Morgan/KeySpan Swap, KeySpan likely would have chosen from a range of potentially profitable competitive strategies in response to the entry of new capacity. Had it done so, the price of capacity would have declined. By transferring a financial interest in Astoria's capacity to KeySpan, however, the Morgan/KeySpan Swap effectively eliminated KeySpan's incentive to compete for sales in the same way a purchase of Astoria or a direct agreement between KeySpan and Astoria would have done. By providing KeySpan revenues from Astoria's capacity, in addition to KeySpan's own revenues, the Morgan/KeySpan Swap made bidding the cap KeySpan's most profitable strategy regardless of its rivals' bids.
32. After the Morgan/KeySpan Swap went into effect in May 2006, KeySpan paid and received revenues under the agreement with Morgan and consistently bid its capacity at its cap even though a significant portion of its capacity went unsold. Despite the addition of significant new generating capacity in New York City, the market price of capacity did not decline.

... explained the scam

34. But for the Morgan/KeySpan Swap, installed capacity likely would have been procured at a lower price in New York City from May 2006 through February 2008.
35. From May 2006 to April 2008, Morgan earned approximately $21.6 million in net revenues from the Morgan/KeySpan Swap and the Morgan/Astoria Hedge.
36. The Morgan/KeySpan Swap produced no countervailing efficiencies.

Appearently this is a violation of the Sherman AntiTrust Act

If I remember correctly the Sherman act is yet another one of those onerous Democrat regulations that is preventing the economy from resuming the wondrous growth of the Bush years.


edit: spelling

S - I'll take your word on the legal violation but there are many similar situations which are legal. I can buy call on NG (or any other commodity) production in a region and I can always hold a certain volume off that market and thus potentially induce a price increase/supply disruption. There is nothing illegal about that...has been done thousands of time over the years. Maybe because it involves utilities the rules are different. But I don't see a "scam" per se. They apparently didn't advertise what they were doing but the info was out there for over 10 years. We'll have to see the final court judgement as to what was legal or not. In the meantime I'm sure public judgement will be set in stone. OTOH how much lower can public opinion go for financial institutions like MS? Kinda like the oil patch these days: any new slaps at us are wasted...we're well scared over. LOL

"The Morgan/KeySpan Swap produced no countervailing efficiencies." Perhaps so...but was that their responibility? Again, maybe since public utilities were involved. But most businesses conduct there operations witout a requirement to produce "countervailing efficiencie".

IARPA RFP to predict "Resource Shortages" and Other Events

Many significant societal events are preceded and/or followed by population-level changes in communication, consumption, and movement. Some of these changes may be indirectly observable from publicly available data, such as web search queries, blogs, micro-blogs, internet traffic, financial markets, traffic webcams, Wikipedia edits, and many others. Published research has found that some of these data sources are individually useful in the early detection of events such as disease outbreaks, political crises, and macroeconomic trends.

OSI aims to fill this gap by developing methods for continuous, automated analysis of publicly available data1 in order to anticipate and/or detect significant societal events, such as political crises, humanitarian crises, mass violence, riots, mass migrations, disease outbreaks, economic instability, resource shortages, and responses to natural disasters. OSI performers will develop methods that ― beat the news - by fusing early indicators of events.

... It is expected that the technology developed under OSI will have "no human in the loop." The performers’ systems must generate warnings without the help of subject matter experts (SMEs), either to guide the system or to filter warnings before they are sent to IARPA.

Egypt might go bankrupt in 6 months, ElBaradei warns

Egypt might face bankruptcy within six months, Egyptian reform advocate and presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei warned on Monday.

Egypt is currently relying on its cash reserve with no gross domestic product, he said.

Observers blame the drop in cash reserve on the intensive exit of foreign capital during the January revolution. Experts also blame the halt in Egypt's sources of foreign currency, such as tourism and exports [oil].

Graphic coutesy of: http://mazamascience.com/OilExport/

After two of the most atrocious "documentaries" I have ever seen produced by the BBC (one-sided pro-nuke propaganda), the BBC in Scotland transmitted "Fallout" (a couple of days ago ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0161q18/Fallout/ ). This examines both extremes of the Chernobyl total deaths debate (was it closer to 40 or 1 million) and ends up painting a far more worrying picture of the true effect on health than that broadcast UK nationwide over the last couple of weeks.

Viewers in the UK outside of Scotland can see it at the iplayer link until Sunday. This really should have been broadcast nationwide to balance the cr&p already broadcast in recent weeks.

Interestingly the current Scottish government has said no to new nuclear power stations in Scotland unlike England and Wales which intend to build more. Probably why BBC Scotland was allowed to broadcast an unbiased investigation unlike the BBC in the rest of the UK.

Edit: Short extract of documentary at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-15212550 should be available worldwide.

40 million or 1 million deaths is "two sides" in much the same way leninists and trotskyists are opposed. Serious estimates are within an order of magnitude of 10,000.

Well thank you for defining what is "serious" for me. Guess I don't need to bother digging any further.

But millions of excess deaths did occur as the Soviet Union disintegrated.. Nobody seems to blink an eye when they are all put down to drinking, mental health issues and my "favourite" - "Radiophobia" (that is that the fear of radiation causes more physical harm then the radiation itself). Yablokov et. al. point to research, which they say, shows far more excess deaths occurred in "liquidators" and those populations heavily exposed than elsewhere in the former Soviet Union - this is how they come up with the number approaching 1 million of specifically radiation related early deaths. Not to mention the regional childhood illness epidemics currently ongoing. The BBC recently broadcast that the total death toll from Chernobyl was less than 140 and perhaps as low as 40 - end of story. This new Scotland only programnme makes clear that their English colleagues broadcast a load of lies disguised as unbiased investigation.

By the way I strongly suspect Fukushima to be far, far, far, far worse than is currently admitted. An ongoing slow motion tragedy of epic proportions. TEPCO and the Japanese government know this.

Again, this isn't serious estimates, and your last paragraph is simply a conspiracy theory. Information wants to be free, you can't cover up 9/11 conspiracies and "epic" nuclear problems.

You are correct. They can't cover this up in the long run but they can "play for time" Peak excess deaths will probably be in the 2020s, or maybe even a bit later, but things will become very noticeable long before that.

In case you haven't noticed they continue to dribble out bits of information slowly. Possibly more plutonium confirmations coming soon.

Will they become noticeable for real, or just in outlier scientific reports and in Greenpeace's propaganda?

No, they can't cover such things up even for relatively short periods of time.

Have you read Chernobyl:
Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment
and the research that it calls upon? I'll bet no. PDF at http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf Why not read it and don't cheat by reading criticism of it first. You can do that later.

Have you read anything by Professor Chris Busby or just his critics?

Why should the number "1 million" be impossible for Chernobyl early deaths over 25 years? That's still tiny compared to total deaths and far, far more people have died of smoking related diseases in Europe in the last 25 years. In fact Chris Busby argues that the Yablokov figure of about a million is too low.

Chris Busby was a member of the UK government's "Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE)" from 2001-2004 and strongly dissented (as did other members) from the "majority" report issued. He says the issue was too "political" for them to publish their real findings. Simply put Busby says that while cancer can get you in the end you're more likely to die of say a heart attack first (caesium-137 concentrated in heart muscle) and other illnesses which your internal radiation burden will make you more susceptible to over time. In other words cancer is not the leading cause of death with long term, relatively "low-level" internal exposure.

There are many children with heart disease and other very serious problems in the Chernobyl fallout zone today. An issue addressed at length in the BBC Scotland documentary.

Interview - Dr. Alexey Yablokov - Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe


Interview with Dr. Alexey Yablokov co-author of "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment" recorded March 27, 2011.

Dr. Alexey Yablokov is a prominent Russian scientist, environmentalist, former member of the USSR parliament, and environmental advisor to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Gorbachev administration.

I am not certain, Jep, but I believe you misread his 40, that is 3 dozen plus 4, as 40 million... very different argument.

Ah, yes, in that case, my mistake.

Yes I did mean the lower value as about 40 (as broadcast on a BBC Horizon documentary) not 40 million as an upper limit. I should have noticed from your reply you had read it as 40 million.

Are high commodity prices here to stay?

“The new norm for farmers worldwide is high commodity prices, high volatility of production costs and little or no safety net for crop failures,” says Sterling Liddell, vice-president for Rabo Agrifinance.

“... two primary factors, ethanol and China, have moved corn prices from a norm of around $3 a bushel to a norm of over $5 a bushel. Ethanol, most experts agree raised the value of corn by$1 to $1.50 and demand from China increased the remaining amount,” Liddell says.

“China became a huge consumer of commodities, and this has really manifested itself over the past 5-6 years. What it does is close down stocks to use ratio and allows tiny movements in demand to create huge volatility in the market,” he adds.

The biggest challenge to U.S. wheat production in the future will likely come from the former Soviet Union, primarily Russia and the Ukraine.

Russia has a government policy that calls for self sufficiency in poultry production. This year, drought dramatically cut back grain production, so the Russian government banned exports. The Russians asked the Ukraine and other neighbors to reserve enough grain to feed Russia’s poultry population.

The request came in the form of, “If you want natural gas for heating fuel this winter you will reserve enough of your grain to feed our chickens.” That’s how economic diplomacy works in that part of the world, Liddell explains.

An example of bilateral agreements (vs 'free trade'). Like what ROCKMAN described re ROFR between NG producer and end user; or what the German Peak Oil report proposed between exporter and importer. The end result is inflated commodity prices.

related UPDATE 1-Russia mulls export duty to keep grain in country

Will there be enough corn for 2011/2012 feed and biofuel needs?

... Weather developments that impacted this year’s crops included (1) extreme flooding of major river valleys, (2) extreme drought in the southern Great Plains and parts of the southeastern U.S., (3) very late plantings in parts of the eastern Corn Belt because of excessive rain, and (4) hotter and drier weather than normal for much of the Corn Belt in July, when the corn crop was pollinating.

With the rapid growth of corn processing for ethanol, food, industrial, and seed use has expanded to about ½ of the total demand for U.S. corn. Exports are now a small part of total use. For the 2011-12 marketing year, we examine the ability and likelihood of each demand category to adjust to the higher cost of corn and the tighter supplies.

After the lift of the export ban Russian exporters sell grain like there's no tomorrow. The government now wants to create a safety mechanism to ensure that there will be enough grain left. Situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that the Ukraine still keeps the export duty on grain, leaving Russian exporters along on the Black Sea market. (Ukrainian farmers had record harvest and now lose money.)

Meanwhile, most of the Russians still believe that Russia is dependent on grain imports.

Update: Ukrainian export duty was slashed on October 7. But still, farmers estimate their losses at $1.5bn.

US: Iran faction plotted to kill Saudi ambassador

The case started when one of the suspects, who lived in Texas, made contact with an undercover DEA informant and asked for assistance from the Zetas drug cartel in Mexico to assassinate the ambassador.

Just what we need - another monkey wrench in the gears of international realpolitik. Growing Iranian influence has been a worry for Saudi Arabia for some time now. Tensions were high enough already over Bahrain.

I can picture Abdullah sending a friendly email to his good Jewish pen pal Benjamin, "Gentlemen, start your engines."

Auditor: Turkmenistan has second-largest gas field

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan is sitting on top of the second-largest natural gas field in the world, according to figures unveiled Tuesday by an independent British auditor.

Auditor representative Jim Gillett said in a presentation in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, that South Yolotan holds up to 21.2 trillion cubic meters of gas, putting it only behind the South Pars field, shared between Iran and Qatar.

Turkmenistan currently sells to China, Russia and Iran, but it is determined to eventually also export to Western Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The European Union is hoping to claim a share in Turkmen gas via the planned $12 billion Nabucco pipeline, also supported by the United States, which would run 3,300 kilometers circumventing Russia.

Free downtown bus rides coming in spring

The Houston Downtown Management District, funded through tax assessments on downtown properties, plans to launch a free bus service called Greenlink to ferry employees and residents along a 2.5 mile route starting in spring.

Two Federal Transit Administration grants totaling $2.25 million will help pay for seven buses. The district, in turn, plans to monitor emissions from the fleet and make the information public. ... annual operating costs of $1.2 million.

Compressed natural gas will fuel the 30-foot buses

Chris Christie's endorsement of Mitt Romney:

Christie said President Obama is trying to divide America and to tell people “that the pie of America is only so big that if you want more we have to take it to others.”

“I know Mitt Romney believes the American pie can be grown bigger,” Christie said. “That it can be an infinite size because of the infinite nature of American ingenuity and effort and character.”

What a relief! I only have to put forth infinite ingenuity and effort to get a bigger reward. Not sure about the character part - maybe he means infinite rhetoric?