Drumbeat: October 12, 2011

Why big-money men ignore world’s biggest problem

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Last year Bill Gates said if he had “one wish to improve humanity’s lot over the next 50 years” he would pick an “energy miracle,” some magical “new technology that produced energy at half the price of coal with no carbon-dioxide emissions,” says CNN editor Fareed Zakaria in the New York Times.

And he said “he’d rather have this wish than a new vaccine or medicine or even choose the next several American presidents.”

Energy miracle? But that’s not where he’s giving his billions.

Oil rises to above $86 on weaker dollar to euro

Oil prices inched up above $86 a barrel Wednesday, supported by a weaker dollar even as concerns persisted about the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the International Energy Agency slightly lowered its demand growth forecasts.

Opec forecasts slower oil demand growth

Opec cut its oil demand forecast for the fourth month in a row as worries mount over the world's ability to hold off a recession.

The oil producers group cut 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) from its forecast for this year's oil demand growth as the euro-zone crisis deepens. Demand in emerging economies, it noted, was also tinged with uncertainty because of China's new policies to cut fuel consumption and a fuel price hike in India.

IEA Cuts Oil Demand Forecast a Second Month on Slower Growth

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency cut forecasts for global oil demand in 2012 for a second month as the economic recovery loses momentum.

The Paris-based adviser reduced estimates for world demand for next year by 210,000 barrels a day, to 90.5 million a day in its monthly oil market report. That means consumption will increase by 1.3 million barrels a day, or 1.4 percent, from this year. Oil inventories in industrialized nations fell below their five-year average for the first time in more than three years, according to the IEA.

Most Supertankers Idled Since ‘80s Still Won’t Buoy Charter Rates

Owners of supertankers, losing money for a sixth consecutive quarter, will probably idle the most ships in more than two decades as they contend with a glut that drove charter rates to the lowest in at least 14 years.

The combination of too many ships and slowing demand growth for oil means that about 6 percent of the fleet will be anchored in a year from almost none now, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of eight brokers and analysts. That may not be enough to end the slump.

Record Coal Price Risk Gaining as Australia Prepares for Rain

The record rains that flooded Australia and led to surging coking coal prices last year are brewing again.

Norway raises drill costs alarm

The head of Norway’s oil agency has sounded the alarm over high drilling costs on the country’s continental shelf that are putting a serious restraint on its ability to tap new reserves to reverse a production decline.

India, Vietnam sign oil exploration agreement, ignoring China’s objections

NEW DELHI — India and Vietnam on Wednesday signed an accord to promote oil exploration in Vietnamese waters that could escalate long-standing tensions with China as it presses territorial claims to much of the South China sea.

Ukraine PM sees "compromise" soon with Russia on gas

(Reuters) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Wednesday that he expected a "just and acceptable" compromise to be worked out with Russia soon over the price of Russian gas.

Putin Says Russia Is Close to Agreement on Supplying Natural Gas to China

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia is nearing an agreement with China to supply natural gas to the world’s biggest energy consumer.

“Those who sell always want to sell at a higher price, while those who buy want to buy at a lower price,” Putin said yesterday at the start of a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Beijing. “We need to reach a compromise that will satisfy both sides.”

Thailand Needs Cambodia Deal to Avoid Gas Shortages, Energy Minister Says

Thailand’s petrochemical industry may lose billions of dollars if the government fails to strike an agreement with neighboring Cambodia on overlapping claims in the Gulf of Thailand, Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan said.

“Thailand is running out of gas in 15 years,” he said in an interview in Bangkok today. “Petrochemical companies rely on components of wet gas from the Gulf of Thailand. Billions of dollars every year will be gone if we can’t get more supply.”

Iran looks home for oil, gas production

TEHRAN (UPI) -- Tehran said it suspended a Chinese gas contract and replaced Russia's Gazprom Neft with a domestic company as energy production in the country slumps.

The Iranian Oil Ministry announced it signed a contract with state-controlled oil companies to develop the Azar oil field within the next five years. Tehran said production there could reach more than 50,000 barrels per day. The field, along Iran's western border, is shared with Iraq.

U.S. aims to punish Iran for Saudi envoy plot

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration plans to leverage charges that Iran plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States into a new global campaign to isolate the Islamic republic.

U.S. issues world travel alert linked to Iran plot

(Reuters) - The U.S. State Department late on Tuesday issued a worldwide travel alert for U.S. ciitizens, warning of of the potential for anti-U.S. action after the United States accused Iran of backing a plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington.

Al-Qaeda chief urges Islamic rule in Libya

CAIRO (AP) – Al-Qaeda's new leader is calling on Libyan fighters who overthrew Moammar Gadhafi to set up an Islamic state and urges Algerians to revolt against their longtime leader in remarks in a new Internet video.

Ukraine jails Tymoshenko for 7 years, irks EU, Russia

KIEV — A Ukrainian court on Tuesday sentenced former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison for abuse of office in relation to a 2009 gas deal with Russia that she brokered, a case regarded widely in the West as politically orchestrated.

The United States, Russia and the European Union reacted sharply to the verdict and the sentence, the maximum sought by state prosecutors.

Norway oil/gas output seen steady for 10 years

STAVANGER, Norway (Reuters) - Norwegian oil and gas production will probably remain unchanged over the coming decade, its Oil Directorate (NPD) said on Wednesday, as it waits until 2012 before adding major recent oil find to the country's overall resource estimates.

"Future oil and gas production is expected to stay at current levels for the next ten years," Bente Nyland, the head of the agency tasked with managing Norway's oil and gas resources, told reporters.

DoD Energy Use in 2010

DoD spent $15.2 billion on energy in (Fiscal Year) 2010. Seventy four percent of this (or $11.2 billion) can be attributed to operations while the remaining 24% (or $3.7 billion) to the Department’s permanent installations and 2% (or $0.3 billion) to non-tactical vehicles.

Deep Offshore Technology 2011: Assessing future global deepwater prospects

In his presentation on “Global Deepwater Prospects,” Negherbon said that over the next decade, the developing economies of the world will drive oil demand and thus offshore development projects. Production will need to rise to meet this demand, and developing countries may “bid away” supplies from OECD nations. In the near-term, he said that oil supply may be re-allocated from OECD countries to the growing markets in non-OECD countries.

Negherbon said that he did not believe that the world had reached “peak oil,” but commented that future oil supplies will be harder to find and more expensive to produce.

A Slippery Peak - The New Oil Equation

The idea of peak oil caught the world’s imagination a decade ago. Peak oil, the point in time when the maximum rate of global oil extraction is reached, after which the rate of production would get into terminal decline, was supposed to be sometime in 2007, 2008 or 2009 — depending on who you were talking to.

Toronto Money Show: Dennis Gartman, Petrobras, Allana Potash, And Tahoe Resources

Keynote speaker Dennis Gartman, trader and publisher of The Gartman Letter, took the stage sharing his thoughts on the markets and where we were heading in the future. Looking forward, Gartman believes that food demand will outstrip production growth in the coming years and investors should gain more exposure to fertilizer stocks as food stocks get tighter.

Dry shippers will rise after prices collapsed earlier this year but do not try and catch a falling knife. Investors looking at dry bulk shippers should wait until after the stocks base and begin to rise. Gartman is not a peak oil believer because we will substitute. We used whale oil in the past before switching to oil and will switch again in the future. He is not sure what we will switch to, but at some point the world will make a move.

A Year Of Shocks For BP

The company has also learnt that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new oil reserves to replace old, depleted fields. A lot of the easy pickings have either gone or are in the possession of national oil companies such as Saudi Arabia's Aramco or Malaysia's Petronas.

And as this is not the time to go deep-sea drilling in America, this leaves companies like BP having to deal with less welcoming regimes in countries like Nigeria and Russia.

Perhaps this is a sign that the much-debated theory of 'peak oil' is correct, and that oil companies now have to look further and further afield to replace their dwindling oil reserves. I suspect that this could be the beginning of a long-term decline in oil reserves for companies such as BP.

Iran to open accounts with Indian banks for oil payment

(Reuters) - Iran's central bank will open accounts with two Indian banks to receive part payment for New Delhi's oil imports and use that money to pay for Indian exports, according to an industry source and newspaper report.

NC begins public debate on natural gas 'fracking'

The issue is percolating in North Carolina now because geologists have identified promising deposits of natural gas along a 150-mile-long ancient trench where the state's coastal plain meets the Piedmont. The main target zone is a diagonal slash from the South Carolina border in Anson and Union counties northeast through Durham County to near Oxford and the Virginia border.

New Zealand: Spill its worst environmental sea disaster

TAURANGA, New Zealand (AP) – Rough weather has jostled a cargo ship stuck off New Zealand's coast and worsened its oil leak fivefold to make it the country's worst-ever maritime environmental disaster, the government said Tuesday.

New Zealand oil spill ship captain charged

The captain of a cargo ship that has grounded off New Zealand and is leaking oil into the sea has been arrested and charged, officials say.

The captain was charged with "operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk".

Gulf shrimp are scarce this season, as are answers

LAFITTE, La. — The dock at Bundy’s Seafood is quiet, the trucks are empty and a crew a fraction of the normal size sits around a table waiting for something to do. But the most telling indicator that something is wrong is the smell. It smells perfectly fine.

“There’s no shrimp,” explained Grant Bundy, 38. The dock should smell like a place where 10,000 pounds of shrimp a day are bought off the boats. Not this year. In all of September, Bundy’s Seafood bought around 41,000 pounds.

Japan mayor wants reactor near Tokyo decommissioned

(Reuters) - A Japanese mayor has called on the government to decommission the nuclear reactor in his village, 110 km northeast of Tokyo, the first local leader to urge scrapping a reactor as Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda tries to rehabilitate the tarnished nuclear sector to help meet the nation's power needs.

In Japan, a Long-Term Study on Radiation Leaks’ Effects

TOKYO — In an effort to track the long-term health effects of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan has begun a survey of local children for thyroid abnormalities, a problem associated with exposure to radiation.

Japan: Seven Months After the Cataclysm

What is incredible is that nuclear power, against all odds, appears to be recovering throughout the world. Japan will join this crowd because they must.

Drivers paying more tolls to use roads, bridges

ATLANTA – Drivers across the USA are digging deeper into their pockets as more states and communities raise tolls or impose them for the first time to build and repair highways, bridges and tunnels.

Ban Hybrids From the Fast Lane, and Everyone Slows Down

While the empirical test of their theory on Bay Area highways was not long enough to give definitive results, the researchers did speculate about what might be happening to slow the carpool lane down even as it became less congested.

Their guess is that when lanes next to the carpool lane slow down, those driving in the carpool lane slow down preventively because going 30, 40 or 50 miles per hour faster than the traffic in the next lane feels inherently dangerous.

Saudis Lay 2,400 Miles of Rail to Ease Oil Dependence: Freight

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia is laying 2,400 miles of rail lines, almost enough to stretch across the continental U.S., in a push to diversify from oil that will also benefit Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and Saudi Arabian Mining Co.

The construction in the kingdom, which relies on crude exports for 86 percent of government revenue, aims at developing mines of bauxite -- Saudi Arabia holds at least 11 percent of the world’s estimated deposits -- phosphate and precious metals. The first major rail line began running test shipments in May.

Paralysis possible if rail lost

Rail uses under a quarter of the energy of road transport because rolling friction of steel wheel on steel rail is one-30th that of rubber wheel on asphalt, and steel wheels emit no pollution unlike dangerous tyre particles. Rail’s maximum gradient is 2 percent, against a common 10 percent for roads, and its exclusive corridor eliminates the large braking and acceleration energy losses of trucks in mixed traffic, particularly through towns.

Airlines Weigh the Advantages of Using More Biofuel

The speed of the progress in recent years has been remarkable, leaving many of the airline and aviation executives who gathered in Hong Kong for a conference on aviation and the environment in late September shaking their heads in near disbelief.

A Conversation With Allison Arieff, Writer and Editor on Sustainability

What's a sustainability trend that you wish would go away?

Again "trend" is the operative word here. Making sustainability a trend has minimized its relevance and stymied its progress. Climate change, declining resources, peak oil -- these aren't passing fads. "Green is the new black," "eco-chic," "eco-fabulous," -- I even got a pitch from Eco-Stiletto! All that marketing-speak has done little for sustainability except validate old behaviors. It's a notion that you can go green by buying more stuff. We'll always need things, but we need a real focus on making those things less expendable, less, well, "trendy," and more efficient, healthier, durable, built to last.

SSE energy auction plan may shake up power market

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) will start auctioning its entire electricity supply on the wholesale market.

This is the first time such a move has come from any of the big six suppliers, which use their own power stations to generate electricity.

San Antonio keeps water flowing amid a deep drought

Even as nearby fields wither and lakes dry up under a relentless drought, water continues to flow in San Antonio.

Texas' second-largest city is weathering the state's historic drought better than most cities because of innovative water conservation techniques in place for more than a decade.

Groups Sue After E.P.A. Fails to Shift Ozone Rules

WASHINGTON — Five health and environmental groups sued the Obama administration on Tuesday over its rejection of a proposed stricter new standard for ozone pollution, saying the decision was driven by politics and ignored public health concerns.

Rice professor accepts Gulf article's fate

GALVESTON - A Rice University oceanographer said he accepts a decision by the state's environmental agency to kill an article he wrote on sea-level rise in Galveston Bay, ending a standoff over the article's references to rising sea levels and human-caused environmental change.

"I'm willing to live with not having it published," John Anderson said Tuesday. "I refuse to have it published with their deletions."

Changes in Rainfall Patterns Are Projected for Next 30 Years On Hawaii's Oahu

ScienceDaily — Scientists at University of Hawaii - Manoa have projected an increased frequency of heavy rainfall events but a decrease in rainfall intensity during the next 30 years (2011-2040) for the southern shoreline of Oahu, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Europeans fear climate change more than financial turmoil, poll shows

Europeans believe that dangers of climate change represent a more serious problem than the current financial turmoil, according to a new poll.

Australia’s Lower House Narrowly Passes Carbon Tax

HOBART, Tasmania — Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s proposal for Australia to adopt the second-largest emissions trading scheme in the world, after the European Union’s, cleared its biggest hurdle yet on Wednesday as the lower house of Parliament voted to pass it.

But in a sign of how high emotions continue to run over the contentious bill, scores of angry protesters had to be ejected from a parliamentary viewing gallery after heckling and jeering Ms. Gillard.

Canadian firms warming to climate-change measures

Canadian companies, once leery of the costs and headaches of dealing with climate change, now realize that it may provide a significant business opportunity.

Canada needs system change not climate change

The slogan “System change not climate change” is well known in Europe, and is becoming a central rallying cry in the growing global movement for climate justice. But to many people in North America, it is still an unfamiliar and even threatening slogan. So what does “system change” mean where the rubber hits the road?

The combination of too many ships and slowing demand growth for oil means that about 6 percent of the fleet will be anchored in a year from almost none now, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of eight brokers and analysts. That may not be enough to end the slump.

Slowing demand for oil, or diminishing amount of oil available for export? WT has this pegged, and the tanker business is going to go down the toilet, as excess capacity drives the shipping rates down to the lowest marginal cost. Maybe Goldman Sachs can buy up the rest of the idled tankers, to store the oil that GS is buying from our SPR.

Yep - toll roads - the new normal.

Seems like a good idea to me if not taken too far.

Living in a country where the highways can get pretty bad I would agree. Paying a little up front in exchange for maintenance and the presence of emergency vehicles is reasonable. It helps people realize the costs of their activities.

BUT I would prefer that the entity operating the road is responsible to the public. If local co-ops, municipal or state governments are in control there is a chance that the toll road will be used for the public good, instead of as a way to extract a profit. A state government might see benefit from hefty charges on single occupancy vehicles and free access for public transport even if revenues on that stretch of toll road declined...try that with a private corporation.

Much better (and cheaper) to use a fuel tax.

  1. It's a change to a number in a spreadsheet, that's already there. No extra infrastructure, no new systems. Cost of collection is low.
  2. No tracking of people via the tolls, therefore greater privacy.
  3. Win-Win in that the inefficient gas guzzlers are preferentially hit, cutting oil dependence and greenhouse gas pollution.

good luck with that 'responsible to the public' thing. Here in the SF Bay Area, our local multi-county transport authority (MTC) has decided it wants a nice new building in downtown SF (very $$ market) and it also wants a building so large it will have to lease out the majority of it. All of these with money collected at our toll bridges. You know, the toll that was $1 at the beginning of the 2000s and is now $6 at peak times? They want to use this money for their $180 million palatial HQ. Instead for much-needed mainenance, or much-needed senior/disadvantaged fare reductions, or much-needed interchange improvements. It makes me sick.

Yup, seems totally irrational to give ever greater amounts of money in the form of taxes to institutions who simply squander it. It gets even worse when one realises that Governments are sucking money out of the economy in taxes and passing them through to the insolvent banking system to the benefit of the 1%.

Raising taxes on anything is bad news, no matter how well intentioned.

I'd rather pay a little more on bridges and roads that I'm actually using, which aren't many,

Much better (and cheaper) to use a fuel tax.

Cost of collection is low. Win-Win in that the inefficient gas guzzlers are preferentially hit, cutting oil dependence...

garyp, I agree with you.

Here in the USA, the federal gasoline tax has not been raised in almost 20 years (since 1993). It won't happen for political reasons, but I would like to see the gas tax increased to at least account for inflation since 1993. Ideally a larger tax increase would be desirable to reduce oil dependence.

You have to remember that gas taxes are also regressive because the people who have to drive the most to get to work are the poorest as the cheapest houses are often the furthest out from the city center. Ever hear the words 'drive until you can afford it'?

Squilliam, I feel the advantages of the tax outweighs the disadvantage of it being regressive. I also support the 5% tax increase on those earning more than 1 million a year that was recently suggested in Congress.

The poor cannot afford cars - or only unreliable cars. They live in the "inner city" - a code word for slums.

Some cities have accessible jobs via public transit - others do not.

Those on the margin of the middle class "drove until they qualified".


That used to be true. Now the poor are in the 'burbs.

Actually, tolls are a very good way to internalize the congestion cost you impose on others by driving your car. In some areas, it is more or less physically impossible to expand roads to the point that you do away with congestion. The only way to deal with it is to add tolls, and that will actually be a big benefit to society since utilization is optimized.

Olkiluoto 3 nuke plant may be delayed further

Finnish utility firm Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) blamed supplier Areva for further delays to the construction of its Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant which may further push back operations to 2014.

The 1,600 megawatt plant Olkiluoto 3, Finland's fifth nuclear reactor, was originally scheduled to start operations in 2009 but delays and soaring costs meant TVO revised its start date to 2013.

Maybe I have missed it, but so far I haven't noticed much conversation about energy in the Republican debate summaries I have read.

A whole lot about tax policy, and reducing/eliminating a lot of regulations, and tying that stuff to job creation...but not a lot about energy.

Also: I noticed yesterday that my neighborhood convenience store/gas station had gasoline for $3.32/gallon...2-3 days prior to that the same station was selling gasoline for $2.96/gallon.

It's interesting that there's a slump in the super tanker business (up top) and yet Brent has risen approximately 10% in the last few weeks. Falling demand, or falling supply: it would seem to be the latter if prices are rising. No?

Their Party is also in denial....

I watched the Republican debate last evening. When asked about jobs, Perry mentioned his economic plan, which appears to be centered on another "Project Independence", that is, developing US energy sources to reduce oil imports. He didn't go into detail, saying that he would release his economic plan in 3 days. I recall that some of the other candidates voiced agreement with Perry about the need for a push to achieve energy independence...

E. Swanson

There is an interesting article ("Energy: Friend or Enemy") by Yale economist William Nordhaus in the current NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS. The article is actually not very good--there is scant mention of peak oil--but Nordhaus does offer a short analysis of why the issue of energy independence "makes no sense in an integrated world oil market." Trouble is that, in an NYRB article, Nordhaus is mostly preaching to the choir.

The sad truth is that the R's are wasting their time arguing about abortion, gay marriage and the like, and not even spending adequate time on the deficit - their only real issue. They have become irrelevant to the age.

Democrats are following suit, but at least express some concern about environment and economics. More often than not the D's just react to the R's.

Strange times, I'd say. However, the top item says about all that needs to be said. Overpopulation is the salient problem of our time, and not a soul mentions it. Rather, the R's want to outlaw birth control and all abortions, the D's to encourage more people (which makes some sense for a democrat, I suppose, though it contributes to the problem) - but through immigration.

Not a sane person to be seen in the political arena, eh?


+10 I stand corrected


Oh they talk about the deficit. They blame Obama for massive deficits. Then two minutes later they say how they are going to cut taxes and spend more on the military while protecting social security and medicare.

These elections are about who can con the most people with their untruthful boasting. $2 Gasoline, 999 won't cause deficits, etc. Pick the lies that you want to fall for.

You have a better stomach than I do, sir. I actually refuse to watch anything political anymore, it's too depressing, it actually messes with your mind because you wonder how it all came to this - nothing but lies and nonstop propaganda. The worst of the worst people somehow getting attention and votes. It's quite simply beyond me why these politicians don't have pies in their face every single time they appear in public and open their mouths.

And it wasn't always like this! Times do change. I remember the Republicans of the 80's and early 90's, they were ruthless, to be sure, but they also had ideas. Now, none are to be found. Vacuity, nihilism - evil.

Meaningless slogans and Orwellian phrases, uttered by empty headed people, abound in our decaying Empire. What a tragedy, with consequences to come for us all.

"It's quite simply beyond me why these politicians don't have pies in their face every single time they appear in public and open their mouths."

Amen, brother.

it actually messes with your mind because you wonder how it all came to this - nothing but lies and nonstop propaganda


Personally, I find it fascinating; from a standoffish observer of human behavior perspective, to watch these people in action.

My theory, as is validated by many observations, is that the human brain is mostly irrational, that we are mostly herd animals, and we flock about those who make meaningless noises that feel familiar to us.

If you're a Republican then talk about the wisdom of the unregulated Invisible Hand rings familiar. If you're a Democrat then talk about the wisdom of the Kumbaya Crowd and the love that Mother Earth has for us sounds supportive.

Now that odd feeling that you have about the R's of the 1980's being a different breed, perhaps that is due to your youth some 30 years ago? Maybe if you studied them again with wiser eyes you might see the same vacuous ideologies stuffed in their heads as are packed into the empty craniums of today's political class?

Maybe if you studied them again with wiser eyes you might see the same vacuous ideologies stuffed in their heads

You probably will see the forerunners of todays craziness. But mostly it was tempered by a degree of reason not in evidence today. I blame talkshout radio, where the only way to win attention and make the big bucks, it to be more outrageous than the other guys you are competing against. So it just keeps pushing the entire rhetoric further out into the Delta quadrant, at ever increasing speed.

I blame talkshout radio

There was something more than that which has emerged in recent years: psych-op messaging.

Consider for example the idea of "getting GGGovernment out of our way".

Back in the day, a rational person would understand that the Mafia and the WarLords move in the day after the government leaves.

However, thanks to modern psych-op messaging, "get government out of our way" sounds like it's a good thing.

psych-op messaging.

Very true. Shout radio (TM), pundits, etc. are really just foot soldiers endlessly re-enforcing the approved memes. Very well funded, and surprising so little noticed. The gradual but thorough programming of the citizens brains. This requires a lot of cunning, and patience to pull off, but it has paid off enormously.

I'm afraid I've had to join you in the tuning out business -not good for the mental health to see such stupidilty on display. And the real shame, is they are all professional politicians, they know what the people want to hear, they didn't just make up the stuff -but mostly have focus group tested it beforehand.

Perry had an op-ed column which appeared Monday in the New Hampshire Union Leader in which he previewed his energy plan. He is scheduled to deliver more details in a speech this Friday...

E. Swanson

Well,Perry used the idea of developing our "vast" energy resources as a way to fix everything, especially the economy. Guess we're going to become the next Saudi Arabia. The man is bereft of ideas.

"The man is bereft of ideas."

The man is bereft of brains. Something else fills the space in his skull.

The man is bereft of brains.

But, he had good hair and personality. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed makes him seem nonthreatening, and lovable in a way. That carried him for a while. I suspect he would have survived bad debate performances, but it seems made a few non-extreme calls as governor, and they were absolutely inexcusable with the tea party crowd (like reasonable positions of vaccines and immigrants). So he is toast. Now, they all like the pizza-man. Heck, who doesn't, I like to eat the stuff as well.

Well for the R's eliminating regulation, is the energy policy. They think that will free up drilling and oilshale (marlstone), and bring on a new golden age....

Some number crunching on a theme Westexas brings up frequently

Net crude oil exports - the shrinking commodity

Shrinking net oil exports from producing nations is the elephant in the room. Everyone is looking at shale oil, Brazilian discoveries and such and are ignoring net oil exports. Too bad your link only goes to 2009. Exports actually rose slightly in 2010 but then began dropping again in 2011. Here, according to the EIA, are the OECD Net Oil Imports from Jan 2002 thru May 2011.

OECD Total Net Imports in thousands of barrels per day.

Net OECD Imports

As you can see OECD Net Imports rose ever so slightly in 2010 but are now making new lows.

Ron P.

Saudi Arabia approves 950 km, $10 billion East-West rail line


Red Sea port to the capital Riyadh, where it will connect to existing rail lines to Persian Gulf ports - mainly for container freight with some passenger and mineral service.

A high speed passenger rail line between Mecca and Medina (very useful during the Haj) is half open.

Still in planning is a 2,400 km North-South rail line that will terminate in Riyadh.

This line is in dark blue, existing is in yellow-orange

I note that the Gulf Coast nations assume that Saudi will build the short connecting rail line between the Emirates and Qatar as part of a new Oman to Kuwait rail line - but no Saudi source mentions that, or a short connector into Qatar from the West.

Best Hopes for less ELM,


New rail to ease Hajj congestion [edit - added title]


The Norway production data for September is out today: Production figures September 2011

The average daily liquid production in September was: 1 557 000 barrels of oil, 256 000 barrels of NGL and 79 000 barrels of condensate.

That adds up to 1,636,000 barrels per day of C+C. Norway production is running about 100,000 barrels per day below the average for last year or about 5.2 percent lower.

Ron P.

Contrast that with the quote from another article above:

"Future oil and gas production is expected to stay at current levels for the next ten years," Bente Nyland, the head of the agency tasked with managing Norway's oil and gas resources, told reporters.

So what's it going to be... constant output or a 5% annual decline?
Looking at Norway's declining production graph on the Energy Export Databrowser, it looks more like the latter.

PT in PA

A plateau the next ten years is comparable IMHO to a decline because of declining EROEI, rising population as well as accelerating deterioation of the environment and natural resources ditto. 5% decline P.A. seems reasonable with equal a plateau in energy extraction with. ;-) .. mmm nothing to smile at...


"Future oil and gas production is expected to stay at current levels for the next ten years," Bente Nyland, the head of the agency tasked with managing Norway's oil and gas resources, told reporters."

Looks like Norway just cast a big vote in favor of Peak Plateau...at least in their portion of the globe.

One nuance -

Future oil AND gas production is expected to stay at current levels for the next ten years

The generally trend is declining oil and increasing gas production in Norway. As exploration moves north, most finds are NG.

Norway is a "local" and secure producer of NG for the EU, and gets a good price for their NG.

Euan Mearns could give more data - he has profiled all but two reservoirs in the North Sea - UK, Norway, Denmark

I think we are past Peak Oil from Norway, but not Peak Natural Gas.

Best Hopes for Secure EU Gas Supplies,


Good point Alan. And I'm not positive they aren't at PNG also. For 36 years I've seen explorationists make honest projections of the results of future drilling efforts and seldom have they reached their goals. Exploration requires a good degree of optimism which naturally leads to overly optimistic production expectation.

The generally trend is declining oil and increasing gas production in Norway. As exploration moves north, most finds are NG.

Statoil Announces Huge North Sea Oil Discovery

Omdal said Norway's proven oil reserves amount to 6.7 billion barrels, according to the BP Statistical Review, so a discovery containing 1 billion barrels is significant.

He said last year Norway produced 2.1 million barrels per day and that Statoil's new fields might produce as much as 300,000 barrels per day.


Yeah, I guess those hydrocarbons were more likely to be cooked into gas during the long travel from lower latitudes up to the polar region.

It looks like the fighting in Libya is coming to a last stand in an old fort on coast in Sirte, Gadaffi;'s home town.

Gadaffi is probably safely hidden in the desert, one of his sons is thought to be leading the fighting.

This news hasn't stopped Brent rising $12 in 8 days.


Why big-money men ignore world’s biggest problem
Commentary: We’re not dealing with the overpopulation disaster

The author of this article concluded that the big-money men who mean well have simply given up on the problem because it is too big and insoluble.

On the other hand, the big money men profit from overpopulation. A rapidly expanding population in China and India is termed "Emerging Markets" or "Booming Economy." The unfortunate individuals who live in places like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been tragically debased by the rampant increase in their numbers, are termed "Cheap Labour" or "Lower Costs." Why would big money men, indeed a great number of people who profit from the current population growth, be averse to it and offend the major sources of their revenue? The last person to look to for answers and leadership in addressing the problem of overpopulation is the big money man. For him, more people means cheaper labor, more demand for goods and bigger profits.

Nevertheless, it would be very interesting to know what really goes on in the minds of Gates, Ellison, Buffet and company. They cannot be so blind and ignorant that they do not understand the enormity of the population disaster. On the other hand, it seems that they can indeed be so blind as to believe that all problems can be solved with an instant energy miracle. It should be obvious that if unlimited energy is given to the populations of the world BEFORE they learn to take collective responsibility over reproduction and the environment, the upshot will be an even more rapid increase in population, and eventual extinction of all life on earth. The entire surface of the earth will be paved over and skyscrapers and slums will carpet all dryland from shore to shore. Give bacteria more and more food, and they will just multiply more feverishly. Even now, before the energy problem has been solved, the current trajectory of humankind is towards extinction. Access to unlimited energy while humankind is still immature would mean that we will go extinct much sooner. It's possible that the remaining tenure of humankind on this planet will be reduced from 200 years to 50 years.

I think Bill Gates correctly recognizes population as the most important problem, and correctly realizes that an energy miracle will not fix it.

The author of the article is mistaken, thinking that vaccines worsen the population problem. It's the opposite. A high rate of childhood death and disability increases population, because people have more kids as insurance. If they can be reasonably confident that their children will survive, they have fewer of them.

Gates' Global Health Program is absolutely in keeping with his concern about overpopulation.

If they can be reasonably confident that their children will survive, they have fewer of them.

Let's assume this turns out to be true everywhere, as indeed it currently is in places like Northern Europe. Even then an average birthrate of half a child per couple (assuming some couples choose not to have children) will be unsustainable. In India for example, if the population DECREASES at a rate of 20 MILLION people per year, in 20 years it will STILL be overpopulated. This is a frightful thought, but even more frightful when you consider that the population is currently INCREASING by about 17-18 million people per year. The Ganges river, once marveled at by the Hellenes of the age of Alexander the Great for its vastness and probably for its teeming life, is now a toxic cauldron of sewage with the highest concentration of fecal matter of any river in the world. And this is just the beginning. By overpopulation I simply the space people occupy, the resources they consume, and the waste they emit. Basically by the time people reach the realization that fewer children is better, it will be necessary to persuade them that suicide is better. People's collective knowledge always lags behind the true facts of life.

I don't think Gates & company are that pessimistic. They think they can make a difference. And maybe they can. Overpopulation is certainly a problem, but the "population bomb" feared in the '60s and '70s has not materialized.

What would you do if you were a billionaire like Gates? Give up, and build yourself a private island? Donate your money to organizations supporting suicide? IMO, he's doing the right thing. Maybe it won't be enough, but he's doing the right thing.

Thank you for responding. If I were Bill Gates and I were allowed to keep my own consciousness without exchanging it for his, I would invest almost all of my billions into preserving as many samples of all the species of life that currently exist on the planet. Perhaps the project can be called "Operation Ark 2."

I would do this because:
1. They WILL go extinct during the next few decades of population growth
2. The conditions under which they evolved will disappear. The Amazon Rainforest, for example, will be a hot and barren desert by the year 2100.
3. Human beings cannot be trusted to take care of the planet
4. Whenever civilizations collapse, the social convulsion which follows in the aftermath usually destroys all of civilization's precious fruits, so that posterity will have to begin anew without a history and without a heritage, basically without memory. This must be avoided at all costs, and it is even more critical when the entire natural world is so gravely imperiled. The natural heritage of the world is as important if not more important than the human cultural heritage. Without nature, we have no biological history to refer to.

I say all of the above in the confidence that the planet will be rendered almost barren, like in the movie Wall-E. I say it in the confidence there will be population crash and that in the distant future, the survivors will have to begin all over again, and it is for their sake that all this preservation must be carried out now. Between us and them, there lie gigantic forces of destruction. These forces must be weathered. As much of what exists now in nature must be preserved intact.

The Norwegians have taken a giant step in that direction - the Global Seed Bank on an Arctic island.


Meanwhile, the collection of seeds that caretakers starved rather than eat during the Siege of Leningrad is being developed outside St. Petersburg for the politically well connected.

Some Hope,


Where would you put all the samples and how would you guard them? You would need a genetically viable sample not just a pair. Already the world's nature preserves in biologically rich areas like Africa are under tremendous pressure from poachers and farmers. When the world's economy collapses all the large animals will be hunted to extinction.

If I were Bill Gates I'd be looking to buy some land in a remote part of Patagonia.

"Orthodox" seeds are defined as those that will survive for centuries or millennium if dried and kept cold. Reduced oxygen exposure also slows aging of the seed.


The Svalbard permafrost is at -3 C (@27 F) and storage is at -18 C (0 F) with refrigeration. Even at -3 C, orthodox seed will last a LONG time !

The oldest accidentally preserved seed to germinate was a 2,000 year old date palm.

The Gates Foundation is one of the major funding sources for operating this seed vault.

Absent starving locals (about 3,000) eating them, these seeds are likely to survive just about any catastrophe.

Multiple cultivars of, say, chili seed will provide enough genetic variation to re-establish the species.

Best Hopes for Food,


the "population bomb" feared in the '60s and '70s has not materialized.

I would argue to the contrary. The explosion is happening... as the article said, projected to reach 10 Billion by end of the century.

As this explosion goes on, its impact will likely be felt everywhere, and eventually we will deal with the population implosion when environmental limits are reached. It is what happens, how men react to the crash, that will determine what our future is, or if we have one.

Not sure how to prepare for that, either. Hoarding food and farming implements sounds like a good start, and then you consider what marauding bands of hungry people might do to obtain those hoarded goodies. Guns, bows and arrows, spears? I don't know. For me there is not a problem, but my grandchildren will have to try to live through it.

And still no action, not even acknowledgement, from the few who could actually help.

Bringing me back to my oft stated quandry:

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.


For me there is not a problem, but my grandchildren will have to try to live through it.

And I suppose life will still be worth living after the planet has been so thoroughly ravaged? All species will be extinct. All timeless landscapes will be effaced. All forests will be desertified. The oceans will be too toxic to swim in, too lifeless to delight in. The rivers will be too polluted to even go near. The cities will be deteriorating remnants of a bygone age.

Worst of all by far, NATURE will be extinct almost in its entirety. Hundreds of millions of years of history totally wiped out. What made life livable has always been Nature. It reared us, gave us sustenance, and in recent times gave us spiritual sustenance and an immense body of biological, medical and historical knowledge. Now, the very thing which made life on planet earth a joy will be gone forever. What joy is there in inhabiting mars or venus, which are both sterile and devoid of richness of experience? Someday earth too will be like that.

Our grandchildren would be better off if they didn't exist.

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.

By whom? By which other species? They too will be extinct.

Are you predicting some end-Permian type of event? What we have done may go down as a minor extinction event or biotic crises. Have entire families been disappearing lately? We are seriously disrupting things, but it seems arrogant to say everything will die.

No need to predict it. We are living it.

Undoubtedly we are creating a mass extinction, but you underestimate the severity of the P/T event.

I seem to have missed out on an acrynym. What is P/T?

It is the great Permian–Triassic extinction event.

The Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction event, informally known as the Great Dying, was an extinction event that occurred 251.4 Ma (million years) ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods. It was the Earth's most severe extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction of insects.[6][7] Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera were killed. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after other extinction events. This event has been described as the "mother of all mass extinctions."

Most paleontologists believe it was caused by the volcanism of the Siberian Traps. That was, by far, the greatest period of volcanism in the history of the earth.

The "event" however lasted well over one million years. If you can call that an event then it was a very long lasting event. But the Siberian Volcanism did last at least that lone.

Ron P.

I always cringe when I read something like "greatest period of volcanism in the history of the earth.". We probably don't have a good enough record going back into deep time (say 1billion to 4 billion yeras ago). I the planet had more internal heat back then. It certainly looks like the greatest since complex life emerged.
Supposedly the oceans became anoxic because thermal stratification prevented overturning circulation, and hydrogen sulfide built up and burped out. That even (or those events), probably took out many species, in time periods a lot shorter than a million years.

Depends what "greatest period of volcanism" means. Certainly the earth was hotter early on, and we see komatiitic basalts in the Archean that our planet is simply not hot enough to produce today, but there are not that many huge trap-type accumulations known either. I should ask Roger Buick more about this, as he knows as much about Archean geology as anyone ever has (and is a ridiculously brilliant interdisciplinary scientist as well).

As for the Siberian Traps specifically, they are undoubtedly the largest terrestrial flood basalt in the Phanerozoic, and almost certainly in the last billion years; however, I believe a few of the oceanic Phanerozoic traps were larger.

however, I believe a few of the oceanic Phanerozoic traps were larger.

Sorry AshenLight, that is simply not the case. Of course the oceans are always spreading but that is quite a different type of volcanism than the Siberian or Deccan Traps. Oceanic spreading volcanism is very slow and really never stops. Oceanic spreading is really not considered "traps". Traps means "stairs" in Swedish and Danish. No traps, either on land or in the sea, have come close to the size of the Siberian traps.

Linked below but here it is again: End Permian Volcanism

This pond of basalt magma penetrates the crust through fissures pouring gigantic amounts of basalt onto the surface. Events like this are known as Flood Basalt eruptions and fortunately are very rare with only 8 have occurred in the last 250 million years.

Ron P.

"Events like this are known as Flood Basalt eruptions and fortunately are very rare with only 8 have occurred in the last 250 million years."

Do those 8 include what we might as well call the "Modern Industrial Flood Basalt"? Given the magnitude of its effect on the planet, the rate (especially) and magnitude of our extraction of carbon from the lithosphere into the atmosphere rivals those earlier cataclysmic events.

Sorry AshenLight, that is simply not the case. Of course the oceans are always spreading but that is quite a different type of volcanism than the Siberian or Deccan Traps. Oceanic spreading volcanism is very slow and really never stops. Oceanic spreading is really not considered "traps". Traps means "stairs" in Swedish and Danish. No traps, either on land or in the sea, have come close to the size of the Siberian traps.

Siberian Traps: highest estimate is 7 million cubic km; most estimate less. Probably more like 4.

Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP): 10 million cubic km, the largest Phanerozoic continental flood basalt according to this 2007 Geological Society of America paper. Appears to have been at least partially subaerial.

Ontong Java Plateau: ~100 million cubic km. Subaquatic.

All flood basalts.

I always cringe when I read something like "greatest period of volcanism in the history of the earth."

Oh my goodness. You know very well what we are talking about. When the Mars size planet hit the earth that caused the moon, well that probably caused the greatest period of volcanism. So let's just say they were the largest volcanic eruption since the formation of the moon. Will that keep you from cringing?

End Permian Volcanism

The Siberian Traps were the largest volcanic eruption in Earth history and they occured right at the same time as the largest extinction event in Earth history....

Present coverage including associated pyroclastics is just under 2 million square kilometres which is an area greater than that of Europe. Estimates of the original volume of the traps range from 1 million cubic km up to 4 million cubic km.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron. That Wiki entry has actually hugely improved over time, although still is not the greatest. Two things I would add:

First, the consensus view of the cause(s) of the extinction have developed considerably. It's way too oversimplified to say they were caused by the Siberian Traps alone, although they were certainly a huge factor. These days they make some pretty nifty flow charts summarizing the linked causes. My favorite, simpler than some but encompassing all the important elements, is in Wignall 2007 in Geobiology, page 303. (I'd post the image but don't have a good way to extract it and put it on the web at the moment.)

Second, there is still a good deal of argument surrounding the duration of the Traps volcanism. Saunders' review a couple years ago concluded it was less than 1 million years. Bowring more recently claimed 1 My+. Others say 600,000 years. Ivanov says it was long but episodic. Having never been there nor been an isotope geochemist, I dunno who to believe. But since there's good evidence that the main pulse of extinction was quite fast, it doesn't matter that much, and most have concluded that the duration of volcanism was considerably longer than the actual extinction, bookending it. Hell, Doug Erwin thinks the extinctions all happened in 100,000 years or less...

Just as an aside, that date of 251.4 Ma is also wrong and based on incorrect isotopic data (it's taken from here; the currently accepted date is in the 252.2 to 252.5 range.


AshenLight, go to this link: Princeton University Archived Lectures then scroll down to this lecture. It may change your mind, I know it did mine.

December 4, 2002 - Public Lecture Series (a Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture)
Vincent Courtillot , Universite Paris 7: "Mass extinctions in the Phanerozoic: a single cause and if yes which?"

Ron P.

You've referred me to it before :) Yes, Courtillot has apparently been beating that drum for a long time, and it's certainly a big factor but I do not believe it alone is the full story, and neither does anyone else. (In fact, I'd say the importance of the Traps has been the 900 lb gorilla that was ignored for a long time as people fixated on theories like bolide impact and marine regression. Its importance is more thoroughly recognized now--it is the main mechanism setting everything in motion in Wignall's flowchart and others.)

This Permian extinction researcher concurs. It's bad and getting worse, but it's no P/T. (Though I'm suddenly curious how the world's current methane clathrate inventory compares to that estimated for the end of the Paleozoic...)

I'm not so sure it isn't PT like. At least if one measures how many species vanish per century. PT probably took a long time -like maybe a million years to take its overall toll. We are doing it in only a century or two.

The main phases of the P/T event appear to have been significantly faster than we thought 20 years ago. Contrast Doug Erwin's recent book Extinction with the one he wrote circa 1993 about the Permian extinction; he has abandoned his favored model entirely and the whole picture is considerably more nuanced. There is also now strong evidence for another mass extinction about 5 million years before the terminal crisis (the end-Guadalupian, possibly caused by Emeishan Traps volcanism), and weaker evidence for another that followed ~5 million years later, the end-Olenekian. But the actual "everything goes extinct at this horizon" layers are not spread out over geologically long periods of time.

I have studied this biotic crisis intensely for years, and I also work with a geologist who does nothing but study P/T boundary sections (and I'd have to ask him for some of the more exact details). We humans are committing horrific ecocide (and that is really the most salient point here), but I stand by my assertion that I see nothing to suggest that the N/A (Neogene/Anthropocene) event will be able to rival P/T. There were several other factors at play besides just warming, such as the drawdown of atmospheric oxygen from an all-time high of ~30% in the late Carboniferous and early Permian to a nadir of maybe 12% or 13% in the Lower Triassic, and the stratification of the Panthalassic "Superocean" for millions of years before the boundary (appears in the literature frequently as "superanoxia", e.g. Yukio Isozaki's work). See Kump et al. 2005 (in Geology) for an idea of just how much hydrogen sulfide accumulates under such a scenario. And though the scale of human industry is prolific, we are still rank amateurs when it comes to emitting CO2 compared to the quantities the Siberian Traps were putting out, particularly as our own crisis will eventually impinge on our ability to continue to emit. The modeled CO2 spike in the GEOCARBSULF models is about 3000ppm.

So, sure, we are probably doing more damage in a century or two than was probably done in any particular century or two during the end of the Paleozoic... but we are not going to be able to sustain this killing pace for another 100,000-400,000 years.

I agree that we may not equal the P/T event. Consider, though, that we could keep this up for a long time. And, when we are done with all the fossil fuels, we can burn all the vegitation. That should take care of most of the species we don't kill of with warming and noxious fumes.

No, it won't be 98% or whatever P/T destroyed. It will be significant, though, and last until there is a balance between fuel burning/plant eating bipeds and available biomass. And that could take a long time. And it COULD, but likely will not, eliminate the cause of the disaster.

Hopefully, by the time the balance is reached, we (as a species) will have learned something. It will be a hard lesson, for sure.


but it's no P/T. (Though I'm suddenly curious how the world's current methane clathrate inventory compares to that estimated for the end of the Paleozoic...)

Well that's a salient question, isn't it?

All that semi-stable methane ice may be the real shoe waiting to drop.

Even if not, conversations comparing "our" mass extinction to the previous ones are always a bit surreal, as our societies merrily continue onward... noting that it may not be as bad as the worst one ever.

I tend to think that we have a responsibility to think that it could be as bad, along with the responsibility to assume that drastic action might ameliorate it. If a precautionary principle isn't justified in the case of mass extinction probabilities, I don't know when it would be.

No one can say what the future will bring.

I would just point out that:

We already were in what most biologists considered a mass extinction event in the '80s, before effects of GW started really getting going.

Humans are pouring CO2 and other GHGs into the atmosphere at a rate that matches anything I've heard of in the archeological record (though I admit to not reading everything that comes out so I might have missed something and would be happy to be corrected.)

Human induced GW is apparently acting as a trigger to a number of other sources of ghgs, some, like the seabed methane mentioned, could swamp the current rate of human ghg production, probably by orders of magnitude.

Once human civilization does collapse, an even greater annihilation will begin, as people sweep the planet for any living thing that possibly become food or material for clothes, shelter or heat.

So it looks to me that we have four (at least) predictable forces, each capable independently of causing a great mass extinction. And I haven't mentioned that every nuclear facility in the world will inevitably go critical, many becoming far worse than anything we have seen so far, since there will be fewer and fewer resources (and organizational coherence) to deal with them.

As things get really bad, I am certain all sorts of increasingly wild and crazy geo-engineering schemes will be hatched by those that still have the means--anyone want to predict the likelihood that at least some will have enormous unintended negative consequences for life on the planet, in other words that they will spark their own mass extinction. (Think mirrors put in orbit that end up completely blocking all light from ever reaching major portions of the planet, or that end up turning and concentrating scorching rays across the planet...just for a for instance.)

GMOs could yet create something that really wreaks havoc on many species. And there are still a heck of a lot of nuclear weapons lying around that crazies could start hurling at each other as things really start to unwind. Note that we have already killed off nearly half of the phytoplankton that create half of the O2 in the atmosphere. As the rest get wiped out and the forests burn or are chopped up the store of 'fossil oxygen' in the atmosphere will slowly decline to points were much of current oxygen-based life will not survive.

Really, all it takes is for a few more relatively small areas of greatest biodiversity in the planet to be wiped out, and we will be starting to rival P-T in terms of terrestrial species extinctions. Why would anyone think that this won't happen? I hope it won't, but there are very strong forces, directly human and now also climactic, pushing all these places toward ecological collapse.

Yes, the different assaults on the planet will combine; it's almost like we have a conscious fiendish plan to kill off large extant life forms and ecosystems (rather than it being a side-effect we don't much care about).

At this point one could argue either way whether a nuke war would be better or worse for the planet long-term. Could be the cuban missile crisis was earth's last chance....

Are you predicting some end-Permian type of event? What we have done may go down as a minor extinction event or biotic crises. Have entire families been disappearing lately? We are seriously disrupting things, but it seems arrogant to say everything will die.

I disagree to the utmost. For this reason: The FINAL phase of exponential growth is BY FAR the most destructive.

An example is Indonesia. It's population has been growing very rapidly. Before 1950, its population was growing fast, but the population was small enough so that its vast forests were left intact. After 1950, both its population and its aspirations grew exponentially. As a result, between 1950 and now, almost ALL of its rainforests have disappeared. The latest forecast by watchgroups like Mongabay is that the forests are expected to be extinct by 2020. To give you an idea of how shocking the scale of the devastation is, Indonesia is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases BECAUSE of the smoke and soot emitted by the slash and burn of entire swathes of forest. Between 1950 and now its population more than doubled. This might not have been an issue if the population was still around one or two million. Unfortunately, the population doubled from less than 100 million to more than 200 million. The growth rate has dwindled, but the current population's aspirations are growing exponentially. They too want to live like Americans and they do NOT care about the environment.

The FINAL phase of exponential growth is the MOST destructive. The final doubling of numbers and the final phases of industrial activity are the most destructive. As much destruction can be wreaked in one decade by 300 million people as was wreaked by all the centuries past and by all the people that ever lived. Therefore, it is incorrect to say "Have entire families been disappearing lately?" How late is "lately." If you are living in the second-to-last doubling, and anticipate one more doubling, it would be incorrect to extrapolate the present linearly into the future. Even if the population does not double, the per-capita consumption of resources will climb as high as it can. The worst of the destruction is yet to come, and it will be far, far, far worse than anything seen before. It's very possible that between 2030 and 2050, more than 40-50% of all species will go extinct.

Shox, while I agree with your reasoning, I don't think that the result you forecast above, namely a lifeless planet, is in the cards. Life is too resilient and too adaptive. In the short term, something equivalent to the Permian extinction may be in the cards (i.e. 90%+ of species extinct). However, you're thinking far too short term. In another 400 or 500 million years, a whole new explosion of lifeforms will likely arise (based on the past experience). In fact, it will probably be a shorter time period than that, given that multicellular, highly complex life forms in all areas of the world, land, air and sea already exist (and some will survive) to radiate out into new species to occupy all the niches that have been stripped of life. It won't happen overnight, but it won't take that long either.

Anyone know how long after the end of the dinosaurs it took for life to flourish again? Was it 10 million years after Chixulub that life regained its diversity and numbers or a shorter time span. I've oft wondered about this...

It won't happen overnight, but it won't take that long either.

This is no reassurance. 400-500 million years may not be a long time on a geological timescale, but it is infinitely long for a human being to wait. Would you want countless generations living in those 400-500 million years to have no acquaintance with the richness of nature as it exists now? What if, because they have never seen and felt nature, they never develop a kinship with nature and therefore decide to stop its evolution completely. It's outrageous to say that life will just move on, and that whatever form of life is spared extinction will become the ancestor to many subsequent branches and families of yet-to-evolve species, and that therefore we must not be concerned. We need to save what exists now, because 500 million years is too long to wait for new life to evolve.

I did say a lifeless planet. Perhaps I didn't mean completely lifeless. But take for example the island of Borneo. The Malaysian side of Borneo has been totally devastated and in place of the once richly diverse forests, one now finds an endless and most depressing expanse of palm plantations. Basically, entire forests have been converted to monocultures. It's the same story in Brazil, where people grow soybeans and farm cattle. If this is the form of life which supplants what was once the rich and infinitely mysterious Amazon rainforest, then the planet may as well be labelled "lifeless." There is no diversity. There is no interdependence between species. The complex web of life has been permanently undone. All that remains is what is commercially profitable.

I don't believe people truly understand the gravity of the situation with nature. I urge you to watch the latest series by British naturalist and television host David Attenborough. Here are some titles of his programs:

- The lost Gods of Easter Island
- Horizon - The Death of the Oceans
- State of the Planet
- How many people can live on planet earth?
- Planet Earth - The Future
- Madagascar
- Selfish Green, participant in on-screen debate on the environment (2004)

400-500 million years is long even in a geological time scale.

Yeah, and even on the scale of solar evolution--the sun will be significantly warmer by then starting to make life on the planet at least difficult if not impossible, even with low levels of GHGs.

The complex web of life has been permanently undone.

For humans it may seem permanent (or not, I don't think we're causing that big problems). For the Earth, it is merely a sneeze. There is no 500 million years either until everything would seem normal again. Likely 100,000 - 1,000,000 years at most, if we, for instance, cause an anoxic event.

Anyone know how long after the end of the dinosaurs it took for life to flourish again? Was it 10 million years after Chixulub that life regained its diversity and numbers or a shorter time span. I've oft wondered about this...

It was in line with all other mass extinctions except one, i.e., less than a million years, although Deccan Traps volcanism was still a factor.

P/T, on the other hand, screwed things up for at least an order of magnitude longer in most of the world. Coal and chert deposition disappeared for millions of years, there were no reefs at all for the first time since the early Cambrian archaeocyaths first formed animal reefs, every gastropod on earth was tiny and stayed tiny, etc etc. There was a semi-recent paper by [edit: Twitchett et al. 2004, in Geology] that looked at different boundary sections around the world and found that some of them recovered significantly faster than the overall picture, but it was a bad scene for a LONG time afterwards. No other events known compare, not even K/T.

I don't have numbers at hand, but my little brain cranked out a factoid that the Earth will not be able to sustain life in 500 Million years (though the Sun will last much longer than that). At least not the type that is here today. Maybe heat loving bacteria? The actual figure may have been lower. I will check on it later, and respond below this comment.


is a nice article, but not specific.


will not be able to sustain life in 500 Million years

I seem to recall there is a lot of uncertainty concerning what level of insolation is required. I had the impression it was .5GY to more than 1GY. Its not certain how far down the carbonate/silicate thermostat can pull the CO2 level. If it is able to pull it down far enough, lack of CO2 for plants might become the limiting mechanism, as opposed to runaway greenhouse.
A sentient, and technologically advanced species, might be able to delay the date with geo-engineering (or even using space rocks to perturb the earths orbit further from the sun).

I have heard anything from <500 my to >1 Billion.


Of course, assuming that we'll be here after more than one million is a stretch. Think how we have changed in just 150,000 yrs. Maybe intelligence is an accidental feature that is not good for long term survival. Evidence is not clear, ya know.


Do you mean evidence for intelligence? ;)


+1 on everything.

But I want to add one more factor, wich to me is even worse: We never stop.

Your example with the rain forest: We take out some of the edges. No problem right? Well, we have now developed a life style that depends on cutting down some trees every now and then. And we cut some. And then some. And we never stop. I can personaly guarantee you if we have one more oxygen producing tree left in the world and that is not guarded by armed forces, someone will cut it down too for the barbeque. It is the "I am just gonna take this little bit for me" attitude that is certain to get us down. When there are hardly anything green left on the planet, when the air is hard to breathe, and when large swats of land is depopulated, those with the resources todo so WILL keep destroying what is left, to get yet one more "benefit" from resource consumption.

It is my belief that the latest step in human evolution is preserved in memory in mythology. The garden of Eden and the Fall of Man from Genesis as well as the Dreamtime mythology of the aboriginals and countless others like them are to me remaining mythological momories of how we changed from what we were to what we become. I believe that if the comming disaster do not cause an evolutionary pressure and that evolves us into a species with another path of thinking as that round some 80 000 -120 000 years ago did, we will keep pushing and kill every living thing till there is no more. From my scientifical perspective only the extinction or evolvment of humans can save the planet. I hope we change.

This is not universally true. For example, in the Eastern United States and Canada there is now more forest than there was 100 years ago. Land which turned out to be unsuitable for farming has been allowed to revert back to forest. Control of forest fires also raises the average age of trees in our forests by greatly reducing the amount of forests destroyed by fire each year.

With so much better fuel available at the moment there is little pressure on the forests. The timber and paper industries can manage well enough with the replenishment rate given the area available.

It'll be a different story when people start eyeing trees as a viable alternative to oil and gas.

Exactly. Bad for the enviornment as it my be, coal saved the forests, and oil saved the whales. When those substitutes are gone, we are back at natures own renewables, just as you said.

Yeah those forests aren't going to last a decade once 300 million people need them for cooking.

I have to say Jedi, your mention of the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man has really made me ponder deeply.......The story of Genesis suddenly takes on a true meaning when we consider what is going on in the world with Nature. I am a VERY STRONG believer that the bible, in fact a great number of scriptures, have a deeply allegorical meaning. With the way things are shaping up, it seems to me that Man truly does deserve the fall from paradise. When we hear of the Amazon being laid waste, Borneo's forests being razed and burned, does that allegory of Genesis not come back to haunt us again? Man would not leave the apple tree alone. He would not restrain himself. He would not purge himself of his biologically inbred instincts from his days as a hunter and killer. And the only way he can redeem himself and embrace his innate spirituality is to serve his time in this hell we call earth. Soon it truly will be hell. A hell of man's own making. And his trip of agony through unbearable heat (the planet will warm and someday become a scorched dustbowl) will sear some hard lessons permanently into his consciousness. Perhaps one of these lessons is the law of cause and effect: that which you do shall be returned unto you.

I may question the scriptures, but I never doubt that a subtle and timeless wisdom runs through them - a wisdom which becomes visible to our minds only after an entire life of trials and tribulations. (I make no claim to such wisdom.) The scriptures are the experience of the race. Perhaps it will be time for us to go through purgatory again, another age of conquering the spirit, just as men did before, during and after Christ.

Those who wrote the Bible did so primarily to teach us spiritual truths. This is the main message of the Bible itself and I think it is a misstake to dig to deep in discussing the historical details etc since that is not the main point of the book.

But when it comes to the oldest stories (the first chapters of Genesis) I am convinced these are storys much much older than most people think. I am deeply fascinated by the oldest mythologies of our species, as well as of evolution of man. There are some stories that keep popping up everywhere on the planet; all (or most) people have them in one version or another. Let me take an example:

In the Bible the Snake lures Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of Knowledge. Then they are thrown out of Eden.
The Aboriginal mythology tells us about the rainbow snake that teach humans knowledge, and after that, the Dream Time ends.
Snake, Knowledge, Good time ends. To many similarities to be coincidal. This is, I belive, the same story, repeated over thousands of generations. One version ended up in Australia, the other in the Bible. But they both roots back to the same event, somewhere in Africa, before we colonized the planet. The myth realy re that old.
Don't forget that the aborigignals own mythology tells us how they came to Australia from the west by boats. Something we now know they did 40 000 years ago. Myths realy can be preserved that long.

And as I wrote above, I am convinced those "how we lost the good old time" stories realy are eye witness reports of an evolutionary step that took place 100 milennias ago or so.

Joseph Campbell reveals some great comparisons in Mythology, similar to what you've said.

He offers a great description of Dragons as they've emerged from one culture and another- they merge Snakes, which can symbolize Earth and the Tactile Material World, as a 'living esophagus' .. that which must eat; with the Wings and Flight representing the transcendence of Spirit and of the Unknown. Earth and Sky, into a symbol which continues to resonate with us at a very basic level, even if we don't put words or concrete meanings to that archetype.

The explosion is happening... as the article said, projected to reach 10 Billion by end of the century.

That's a fizzle compared to earlier predictions.

True, but the game isn't over yet. What's still to come is the rapid decrease in availability of all resources while the population stays the same or slightly increases, at least for a time. The pie will shrink rapidly while the hungry mouths look for more.

I don't think the availability of all resources will decrease all that rapidly. We are so wasteful that there's little incentive to conserve or recycle. Scarcity will change that.

Are there any examples in biology or ecology of a species population that follows a nutrient (oil) into exponential growth that continues to grow or even level off after that growth nutrient (oil) is rapidly removed? I think not a one. We can expect exponential decline in human population, and very soon. I predict the Earth will never see 10 billion humans. First, the "civilization" goes, then climate change finishes off the survivors. We are Pleistocene fauna, but we are attempting to rapidly recreate the Carboniferous by digging up the carbon stored and pumping it back into the atmosphere and ocean system.

Also, there is growing evidence for a bolide impact that triggered the P/T extinction event. See Michael J. Benton "When Life Nearly Died" (2008) and references therein.

as far as i see gates is doing some nice things while at the same time supporting bau. instead he could support for example research/projects about doing things differently. how to arrange the money system differently? how to arrange the work differently? how to live with less energy? gates (as far as i know) has never said such things. i think if he would simply say something publicly, even some silly things, which would be outside of bau, it could have quite a big influence. but he hasn't said anything. long live the windows, maybe it's "the right thing" to support bau

in fact one could qualify the "events" in ruanda quite literally as a population bomb. even now the density of population there is about the same as in holland and belgium. in holland and belgium there is no free space left.

Overpopulation is certainly a problem, but the "population bomb" feared in the '60s and '70s has not materialized.

Very true . . . but in doing so, I fear we have only made the problem worse. We have built up a huge population with a massive dependence on nonrenewable resources. I think all we have done is made the inevitable reckoning that much worse when we finally lose the battle of providing enough oil, natural gas, coal, and phosphorous to run modern society. In many ways, peak oil is a nice optimistic phenomenon in that a peak will occur and a slow decline will begin. And since the decline won't be incredibly rapid, we'll be able to adjust over time.

What would you do if you were a billionaire like Gates? Give up, and build yourself a private island? Donate your money to organizations supporting suicide? IMO, he's doing the right thing. Maybe it won't be enough, but he's doing the right thing.

I'd spend massive amounts on birth control availability, women's education, and education in general. But sadly, most people will never "get it". Mankind is naturally superstitious and irrational.

I'd spend massive amounts on birth control availability, women's education, and education in general.

That is in fact what he is doing. Birth control falls under healthcare, and education is a big priority of the Gates Foundation. He gets it.

Oh, I agree that Bill Gates gets it. I was just pointing out that despite lots of education efforts, most people we try to educate don't "get it". Instead, superstition, conspiracy theory, tribalism, religious bickering, and bigotry run rampant.

Interesting discussion!

First of all, to get people to do something you pay them. Pay people to reduce population by half within ... 20 years, and they will do it. This is not mysterious nor under question. Sez Jay Gould:

"I can pay half the working class to murder the other half ..."

Second, the population 'problem', like all the others -- oil, energy, money/credit, politics, etc. -- is self-solving. Over-population is the cure for over-population. It is just that folks don't WANT these problems to self-solve. We're not at the 'point' of having to make decisions, but soon ...

Third, the US all by itself has the technology to wipe out the entire human race and do so in a very short time. Homo sapiens has arguably been living on borrowed time since 1945, 'annihilation fatigue' has set in but thinking around the kinds of 'fatal errors' has been a part of systems thinking for a long time. We didn't blow ourselves up in 1962 and I doubt we'll do so again and for the same reasons we didn't in 1962.

Fourth, humans are dumb as dirt but that is a saving grace: they can't improvise. Right now it is the auto industry calling the shots on television but their day is done. What's next is 'less' which means the tools of annihilation will fall out of reach. Most resource waste is industrial service rather than locust-like scouring of the earth by hungry hordes of shoeless Americans looking for some dandelions to eat.

Fifth, solving this by directed means is a great challenge and humans like challenges. Figure out a way for people to get rich by conservation and it will start tomorrow.

Overpopulation is certainly a problem, but the "population bomb" feared in the '60s and '70s has not materialized.

I really can't agree with that. World population in 1965 was 3.3 billion. It is over twice that today. The bomb has exploded but it is such a slow explosion that no one noticed. The world was overpopulated at 3.3 billion and now it is way, way overpopulated.

True, people have not started dying yet in developed countries but the situation is getting critical in many undeveloped countries. Based on a United Nations report released in 2003 and reported by BBC News, about 25,000 people die each day from starvation. This was before the current food crisis.

What is happening to the world's economy and ecology today is a direct result of the population bomb. Things are going to hell in a hand basket and it gets just a little worse every day. But this is happening so gradual that no one really notices.

Ron P.

I'm not saying it's not problem. Just that the problem isn't nearly as bad as was feared. It's not like no one starved to death fifty years ago; if anything, the problem was worse.

Yes, the population has doubled since 1965. But these days, no one expects it to double again.

Yes, I'm in my forties and when I was younger I can remember hearing stories about pressure on young people to marry and reproduce. It seemed normal----the terms "old maid" "spinster" or the story I heard when I moved to Japan 16 years ago that if you are 25 and female you are "on the shelf" like an old Christams cake. My grandfather often carelessly used the term "on the shelf" about women who weren't yet married after a certain age. And my aunt, now in her 70s, told of the immense pressure on her to marry after her younger sister married at 21---about 50 years ago.

But now, not marrying is seen as totally normal. Not having kids seems, to thousands of young people and even older ones now, like a very reasonable choice in many ways (Worries about the economy are driving some parents over the edge in my opinion) Having kids still does have its fun moments (I know from experience)....but things economically are so hard, so fragile, so untenable, so changeable, that one worries about the future to a degree that seemed unimaginable just a decade ago.

We can see the recognition about the difficulties the future faces by overwhelming changes in attitudes towards people deciding not to marry or have kids: it is widely acceptable, even mainstream.

I think that is one good thing about all this economic mess we find ourselves in.....we can see the world becoming more socially tolerant. I thought it was awful when my grandfather said "on the shelf" about women. Now, were he alive, he would no longer be able say things like that without getting some negative social feedback!!

And I think this is more important than most people realize - the social acceptance angle. Not everyone wants kids, and people who do want kids don't necessarily want a boatload of them. Ann Landers famously asked her readers who had children if they would do it again if they could, and they overwhelmingly said "no." Of course it wasn't a scientific study, but it does suggest that in the past, a lot people were having kids because they felt they were supposed to, not because they really wanted to. It's possible to reduce the population without mass dieoff or draconian measures.

It's not really the number that matters (or the predictions of population that may not have come true), at least to me.

It's population overshoot .

One could argue what that number is, 1 B, 5 B, etc., but I'm convinced were deep into overshoot. A few billion folks eating grains is bad enough, but now they're wanting beef.

The problem will "solve" itself, but it'll be ugly.

The human population is not homogenous. There are pockets of massive over-population like Egypt. This is a civil war and failed state waiting to happen. A lot of people will die in such a war, mostly innocent people, partly directly in the fighting, but mostly from the collapse of social infrastructure, leading to contaminated water, starvation, the collapse of health services, deaths in childbirth, and a combination of all of these that very rapidly increases the death rates. Organised genocide is also a possibility, but this is less likely once a state has already collapsed. Totalitarian states that kill large numbers of their own population, like Cambodia is a possibility. The deaths caused by the US/UK invasion of Iraq probably exceeded one million, almost all due to the collapse of social infrastructure.

It will take a massive collapse of social infrastructure in large parts of the globe to actually trigger a rapid and sustained rise in global death rates. Even two world wars barely dented population growth rates. By then there will be no global media and no internet or twitter to report on the scale of human suffering.

In parts of Africa, there is very little social infrastructure to collapse, so you will see drought driven large scale starvation, as we have in East Africa today (but the media have stopped reporting).

This very day an article popped up at the Swedish Television website. Some unnamed scientist had calculated that the earth could "eaily" support 9 billion humans. They correctly mentioned that we had maxed out on agricultural area,but we could increase food production yet; by the application of fetilizer.

Not once did they mention that fosfor is a key ingredient in those, and that is mined from mines that don't hold even a few hundred years worth of the stuff.

Peak phosphorus is a myth. We haven't maxed out on agricultural area either.

Right as usual.

As long as you are willing to consider the Wetlands we keep filling in and the Forests we keep stripping down as mere expendables left there for our explicit and shortsighted purposes..

Surely you jest: why would the eventual peaking of phosphorus production be a myth?
Also, if we examine what's happened to prime food-land world-wide, much of the best has been built upon and paved over.
Why would you then argue that we have not yet "maxed out on agricultural area?"

Actually, peak phosphorus was some 20 years ago, after which the population has increased by some 35%. The peak didn't depend on low phosphorus resources. On the contrary, our resource base is simply enormous, and the identified reserves are just a small fraction of what is out there if we look a bit harder. You can hit the snooze button for 10,000 years.

Regarding agricultural area, I don't find my sources right now, so I'll pass for now. But we don't need more area either - we need less actually, if we just make the areas in poor countries produce better. The differences in productivity are huge.

Jedi Welder, you would think with the challenges we face today that having 9 billion would be far from "easy" for the earth to support.

Phosphorus is one ingredient. Most commercial fertilizers utilize natural gas as their feed stock (to form the ammonia). See http://www.fertilizer.org/ifa/HomePage/SUSTAINABILITY/Climate-change/Emi....

Lest we forget, natural gas is a fossil fuel, and finite.

Sorry. The Swedish TV guy's name is "Wrong."


But, ammonia, and nitrogen fixation can be accomplished without starting with methane. But phosphorus is different, it is elemental, and once put into the food chain vulnerable to being washed into the ocean. It is recycled, by fish, primarily in the form of seabirds pooping over land. But, we've nearly wiped out the fish, and in any case, thats too slow a process to make up for the loss of industrial scale mining of the stuff.

I'm not at all sure about the ultimately recoverable reserves. Presumably, we've only taken the easy stuff? There must be lower grade deposits, that once the price gets high enough we will tap into?

I think the problem is in scale, EOS. Yes, it can be done, but not at the levels of production needed to support 7.5Billion plus. Not without natural gas, and as I said NG is a finite resource.

Of course, limits of soil fit to farm is also a factor. Otherwise we would not need so much fertilizer.

Even the carbon ash techniques used by the natives of Central and South America would not be sufficient for such numbers. Which is why the carrying capacity of the planet is less than 2 Billion, and maybe more on the order of 1.25 or less.

Again, when things start to fall apart, capacity may be the least of our problems. Numbers could well fall far below sustainability. I prefer to believe that the fall off will be the gradual one dreamed of by JM Greer. So that the participants are scarcely aware of what is happening. It would be easier that way.

Best hopes for an easy Fall


Absolutely right. If war, pestilence, famine and disease lowered population, there would be darn few people in the world today.

The world's population is going to peak and then begin to decline during the last quarter of this century according to people who actually study population trends.

It's too bad that more people who have successfully garnered great wealth lack the good sense and decency of Gates and Buffet.

The world's population is going to peak and then begin to decline during the last quarter of this century according to people who actually study population trends.

It's pretty clear that not many people have a good grasp of resource issues so heaven knows why you might believe their projections are credible.

I put their projections in the same pile as those by Boeing and Airbus.


Do you believe that air cargo is going to increase at 5.6% per year from now until 2030? If not, why ever would you believe the demographers?

The Limits to Growth team, I think, has it right:

Scenario 1

Boeing and Airbus are just guessing what the market would like. Demographers have a better situation - stable trends and the actual knowledge of how many females are going to have kids during the next 25 years, because those females mostly already exist.

While it might be correct that improved survival of children would result in fewer children per woman, that would not necessarily result in a limit on population, only a slower rate of growth. The availability of vaccines has not materially slowed the population growth in China or India, even with attempts at direct governmental intervention. And, here in the US, we still have many families which produce more than 2 children, in spite of almost 4 decades of concern and discussion after "The Population Bomb" and Limits to Growth". We even have several such families amongst the Republican presidential candidates, such as Huntsman (5+1 adopted), Romney (5), Ron Paul (5) and Bachmann (5)...

E. Swanson

The Obamas: (2)

Also, The GW Bushes: (2)

When, if ever, will a Presidential candidate ever say the word 'Limits to growth' or 'Peal Oil' or 'End of growth' or 'Growth is counterproductive'?

If I hear anything like that, I figure that I was wrong and Hades exists and has frozen over.

I guess the closest we came to hearing something like that, sort0f, was from Jimmy Carter.

You might hear what you want to hear if you could mount a convincing argument that growth is indeed subject to limits. In economics (a way of looking at the world, to paraphrase Keynes) growth is a concept that measures another concept, value. Mental space, or inner space if you prefer, has yet, in the aggregate, to reveal any limits.

As for the consumption of limited physical resources like fossil fuels, we have, more or less, already heard warnings from the current President and his immediate predecessor, that the limits are real. I think they are right and given the usefulness of fossil fuels and the environmental costs of their rapid degradation, and with future generations in mind, I believe we have a moral duty to slow the rate of their consumption. Therefore, for starters, let's kill the tar pits pipeline projects and frustrate the frackers. And get busier on insolation and insulation projects. And of course steel rail.

You might hear what you want to hear if you could mount a convincing argument that growth is indeed subject to limits. In economics (a way of looking at the world, to paraphrase Keynes) growth is a concept that measures another concept, value. Mental space, or inner space if you prefer, has yet, in the aggregate, to reveal any limits.

What? No limits to growth? The economy can just go on expanding forever? From Wikipedia: Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs (labor, capital, material, energy, etc.) for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand for goods and services. Economic growth is also the result of new products and services.

An increase of new products and services is defined as economic growth. And those products can just go on increasing forever? And remember growth is always given as a percentage of past GDP, or past production of goods and services. This means it is exponential.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert A. Bartlett ...

Seems one factchecker needs to recheck his facts.

Ron P.

Someone with a guitar can write a new song every day as well as teach music to a multitude of students. It is true that the odd cat has to be belled for its gut and the odd tree felled for its wood to make guitars. But cats breed and trees just keep coming back.

Growth is given as a percentage of GDP; that is true. But what is GDP other than a measure of value, which as I said is a concept. GDP is not the number of cars, or the amount of physical input in cars, or any other physical entity.

I feel sorry for you, Mr. Patterson. You seem so anxious to experience armegeddon. You are destined for disappointment.

Don't feel sorry for me FC, I am 73 years old and will not likely see the worst of the collapse. I hope to be safely dead by then. And I am very glad for that.

But I feel sorry for you because you truly do not understand what GDP growth is. Sure there can be spots of growth here and there that does not take up more space but you cannot pick and choose what kind of growth you want, you must take what is dished out. Growth is also growth of consumer goods and services in excess of what we had last year. This means more cars on the road, more homes built and even more guitars made.

The U.S. population is growing by about 2.5 million people each year. That is one reason why we must have growth or collapse. New technology eliminates more jobs each year and we need growth to put these people to work. And the world runs on borrowed money.... debt. We must have growth or default.

Really FC, the idea that we can have growth in theory without growth in fact is truly absurd.

Ron P.

Well surely when you do make that great walk through the pearly gates, you'll find Malthus waiting with a seat in the viewing stands reserved for you. But I suspect that he may be counselling patience by now.

As for the absurdity of 'growth in theory without growth in fact', I can't make heads or tails of your thinking. I suppose it's my limited intellectual capacity, but as I see it, you're confused as to what constitutes theory, what constitutes fact and, most of all, what constitutes growth in the context of economic analysis.

Give David Warsh's "Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations" a look-see.

I meant that you can theoretically imagine types of growth that could go on forever but in fact it never works like that. Factual growth in goods and services requires more energy, more capital, more resources, more space and employs more people. That type of growth has real limits.

There are real limits to growth and that is a cold hard fact.

Ron P.

You're simply wrong. Growth in goods and services does not require more energy, more resources (I presume you mean natural resources), or more space. I would hope that it employs more people, but this isn't necessary either. By more capital I presume you mean a larger monetary base, and this does seem to be true. But money is comprised mostly of ones and zeros and ledger entries. The resources required are minimal and the communication of money less costly than ever.

What growth does require in the context of declining natural resources is more intellectual resources and changes in behaviour and taste. Price, it can be observed, motivates these changes as much or more than any other factor. And higher prices are what declines in natural resources generate, as we have seen with oil.

I don't for a moment think that the transition from hydrocarbons and other increasingly scarce natural resources is easy. There are enormously powerful vested interests that couldn't care less if the greater part of humanity is immiserated and the earth laid waste as long as they 'get theirs'. Sadly, a large group of confused people are easily manipulated by these sociopaths. But this is a political problem, not some pre-determined, solutionless, end.

Other forces are present. Ever cheaper and more democratic communications. A newly emerging entrepeneurial class tied to new technologies with interests that compete with those of the sociopaths. More and more information, which among other things is exposing the lie that we can have more oil next decade than last and the lie that we can rapidly burn the remainder of the hydrocarbon resource without negative consequence.

It seems to me, Mr. Patterson, that what you fail to understand is that we have done things a certain way because we could. And when we can't, we won't. But the will to live and to prosper is not going to evaporate.

Anyway, ciao for now. I'm going out to spend some of the money I save by not owning a car to listen to a group of musicians at an art cafe and if the highly valued coffee and cover charge doesn't break the bank, I might put a deposit on another painting. Gotta maintain that GDP. And it feels good helping people avoid the need to look for production line work in a factory.

"Growth in goods and services does not require more energy, more resources (I presume you mean natural resources), or more space."

Are you out of your mind? You are not making any sense.

I applaud your comment! Yes, this kind of thinking is the epitome of delusion and disconnect from reality... Unfortunately it seems that more often than not TOD moderators disapprove of this kind of reaction deeming it personal and uncivil... Sometimes a spade is just a spade and should be called what it is! No offense intended.

[from upthread:] ... But money is comprised mostly of ones and zeros and ledger entries. The resources required are minimal and the communication of [this new computer age] money less costly than ever.


I applaud your applause!

There are too many new age dreamers running around believing that "information" is free.

However, the laws of thermodynamics dictate that nothing is free.

Even typing a single letter on your keyboard "costs" in terms of energy.

There are too many new age dreamers running around believing that "information" is free.


I myself have tried to explain this very point to some of them, without much success...

BTW, the following is a true story! I swear I couldn't make this up.

A couple of days ago my neighbors in the warehouse next to mine asked me to use my forklift to take a heavy crate on a pallette off a delivery truck for them. I was curious when I found out that it was a generator that one of their employees had ordered from China and I semi jokingly suggested he should be going solar and that I could build him a solar generator. He then told me that his plan was to connect it to an electric motor and for all effects build a perpetual motion machine. I told him it would never work and started explaining the laws of thermodynamics to him.

Apparently his boss, an engineer, had already told him it wouldn't work but he had ordered the generator anyway and said he would prove us both wrong... Sigh! >:-(

Unfortunately it seems that those of us who are card carrying members of the reality based community are vastly outnumbered! We aren't going to win...

But I bet you learned about reality by experimenting and seeing things firsthand.

I'd be a little encouraged that he is (Hopefully) going to believe his own lying eyes before long.. even if he's too ashamed to admit it.

I could not think of anything else to say, but to say nothing would have been wrong. I thought long and hard - could he have been kidding? Am I missing something? I looked for a smiley emoticon. No, consider the source. That statement, at this point, can have no other response. There is no debate or argument to be had.

Let's see, that house, iPhone, Starbucks coffee, McBurger, none of these are made from any resources (natural or otherwise) or need any energy to make. Doesn't even take up any more space. Right, we can have growth forever without more energy or resources. NOT!

Even the Musicians he's listening to used energy to perform their music. Even if they're using acoustic instruments. They ate food which requires resources and energy to grow & prepare. Resources and energy to make their instruments. Then there's the energy and resources to make the supplies so someone could make the painting.

He believes in Magic, and not the type John Michael Greer is talking about. The "factchecker" is factually wrong.

True enough. Still, we can expect to see a great deal of this sort of pseudomagical (and pseudological) thinking in the months and years immediately ahead; the alternative is to admit that growth is over, which is the modern economic equivalent of saying that God is dead. Factchecker's example of guitar music is a case in point; what percentage of goods and services involve as little energy and raw material input as acoustic guitar music -- and how long does Factchecker think he would survive if that was the only kind of goods and services he could get?

John Michael Greer,
Will you be going to Freedom Plaza, NY to provide an interview? From reading your blog, I can't tell if you are for, neutral or against the OWS movement. I'll assume you are neutral.

The "magical" thinking is that, given enough money, "they" will "discover" or invent, some substitute for oil, NG and coal that will allow us to continue BAU until the price of that magical thing gets too high, at which time, rinse and repeat.

And, to make it worse, when "they" don't come through, the true believers will engage in cargo cult behavior, trying to make it "happen again." Because, you see, that's what has always happened. So, if we worship the correct God, perform the correct oblations, and say the correct incantations, what can possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile the relatively rapid stair-step decline will continue, and every stopping off point provide a tableau for factchecker and friends to intone their mantra to the Gods of the economy. Wonderful!


full disclosure: my wife tells everyone I am in incurable optimist! True.

The "magical" thinking is that, given enough money, "they" will ...

I caught part of an old Kevin Costner movie tonight:

Rapa Nui (film)-1994

Then I flipped the channel to CNBC where they were talking about getting into the right "equity space".

What a spacing out experience!

For those who have never seen the movie, it has a sort of happy Superman ending.
After the Islanders cut down the last tree, the father-in-law of the hero reveals to him that he had been building a secret escape (rocket) ship for escaping to another planet, err I mean island; given that Easter is done for, now that the last tree has been cut. The hero sails into the sunset with new baby and wife. The end.

In the middle of the movie, the main theme is that "competition" is good for all. The "fittest" or winner of the corporate cliff climb becomes the top bird man and new chief.

Definitely interesting to watch if you juxtapose our modern thinking about "competition" and the climb up the corporate ladder to Kevin Costner's visual metaphors for all these things. (Note also the metaphor for putting all out eggs in one head basket.)

An iPhone that is thinner and lighter would universally be thought of as better, and people would pay more for it. As would they for improved functionality - i.e. better apps, the ability to take 3D pictures by waving your phone around and so on. I.e. economic growth and less physical resources.

The musicians he's listening to could be better, have better sounding instruments or play in a location that has better acoustics. None of this really require more energy, space or resources, but it is certainly worth more to me. I.e economic growth.

Of course, in the end, there will be limits to such improvements too, but that point is too far off in time to be interesting to speculate outside of sci-fi novels. And reaching the improvements limit would be helluva luxury problem to have, not a catastrophe as some here would have it!

But that new IPhone and all the other things you listed depend on large manufacturing of scale and a lot of energy.
That the new IPhone or new apps presents economic growth is not disputed nor is it relevant.

The question remains, how could you get economic growth without the corresponding need for increased inputs of energy and resources.

I guess the best way would be to assign a lot of people to dig holes. When they are done, have them fill up the holes again. If you want growth, keep digging deeper holes. That should be pretty unlimited. If we can't dig anymore on earth, we can dig on the moon.

But that new IPhone and all the other things you listed depend on large manufacturing of scale and a lot of energy.
That the new IPhone or new apps presents economic growth is not disputed nor is it relevant.

But less energy than the previous model, which is why it IS relevant. (Your denial is very strange, actually.)

The question remains, how could you get economic growth without the corresponding need for increased inputs of energy and resources.

This is easy. Look at the iPhone. Or, bigger picture: The energy used per dollar of GDP (inflation adjusted) goes down some 2% each year. Therefore, it is certainly possible to have 2% growth without increased energy.

I guess the best way would be to assign a lot of people to dig holes. When they are done, have them fill up the holes again. If you want growth, keep digging deeper holes.

This does not add to GDP.

This does not add to GDP

Sure it does. Especially if you borrow the money to pay them. In fact, it's a perfectly good illustration of government stimulus in action. And the utter pointlessness of measuring GDP.

No, it does not. GDP is measured in the value of goods and services produced. There is no value in pointless digging, so there is no addition to GDP.

It amazes me that one person can be so wrong about so many things. Those ideological blinders sure are bright.

From wikipedia "Gross domestic product (GDP) refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period."

In the example, the government is paying someone to dig holes, the product therefore being a hole, the market value is the price the government has paid him. He then fills in the hole, the product being a hole that has been filled. Again, the market value is the price the government has paid him.

"Another way of measuring GDP is to measure total income. By definition, GDI = GDP." So receiving a wage for digging then filling holes increases GDI, therefore GDP increases.

To reiterate, GDP is a really, really bad metric to use to judge how good a Country is, and to strive for increasing GDP for ever as your main goal is ridiculous.

That's in nominal terms. I agree nominal GDP is quite worthless by itself. The question is what you can buy, i.e. what GDP is in real terms (inflation adjusted). If you dig holes and fill them up, you don't increase real GDP. On the contrary, you likely shrink it, because you divert resources to unproductive activities. Think like this: The GDI can buy the production, in a way. If there is no production (a filled hole) you have nothing to buy - real GDP is zero, whatever nominal GDP is.

So, real GDP (per capita) is an excellent metric to use to judge how good a country is, and to strive for increasing real GDP (per capita) is quite sensible. Also, real GDP gains happens to be what countries strive for. They don't strive for nominal gains. (If they did, they would shoot for turbo inflation.)

Oh, my God! It sounds like my wife. "We just saved $25 on that new dress," she says, never considering that that dress still cost money, which is a finite resource.

We are saving so much energy, J, that soon they will be paying us to fill up our cars, and to deliver electricity to our homes! I can hardly wait!


But less energy than the previous model, which is why it IS relevant. (Your denial is very strange, actually.)

The new device itself may very well have lower power needs but the system that produces it does not.
You have to keep the factories going all the time, have to transport the raw materials and the finished goods and you need to invest energy in research and prototyping to push Moores Law one step further. In generally, any rise in complexit will need additional energy.

Adding to this is the fact that the previous model, although still working, has become basically worthless. It may get passed down to someone else but it will be discarded before its unusable. The entire line of production, all the energy already invested, becomes waste.

This seems intuitive to me. Your denial is very strange

This is easy. Look at the iPhone.

The production and shipment of the IPhone needs energy. As does the network to provide the ever increasing bandwidth demand. This should be simple to grok.

The energy used per dollar of GDP (inflation adjusted) goes down some 2% each year. Therefore, it is certainly possible to have 2% growth without increased energy.

Oh, and wich inflation numbers do you base that on? Core Inflation, excluding food and energy?
And how is that growth coming along? How is unemployment and how many are on food stamps?

The new device itself may very well have lower power needs but the system that produces it does not.

Yes it does. The production and shipping system gets optimized too, and as the phone itself needs less material, it is less energy intensive to produce and ship.

You have to keep the factories going all the time, have to transport the raw materials and the finished goods and you need to invest energy in research and prototyping to push Moores Law one step further.

This is nothing new, by itself, so no increase there.

In generally, any rise in complexit will need additional energy.

Could you elaborate?

Adding to this is the fact that the previous model, although still working, has become basically worthless.

I'm thinking of a steady stream of production/consumption (phones get replaced at a certain pace), with increasing value due to improvements that doesn't increase size or energy requirements. I.e. economic growth without physical growth.

Oh, and wich inflation numbers do you base that on? Core Inflation, excluding food and energy?
And how is that growth coming along? How is unemployment and how many are on food stamps?

Total inflation, and the two percent energy intensity improvement are global numbers going back to the 70-ies at least. Not being from the US, I'm not that worried about your local conditions. I'm quite happy with current global growth, though.

So you're saying that all the new additions to the human population do not have to eat, be clothed or have a place to live? Hmmm.... Imagine that. You're also saying that they won't want some luxuries, some music, some television and the same status markers as other people (like cars and fancy imported goods and so on)? Remarkable...

And you're saying that all these new people who will demand all this stuff (especially food for their children), won't do all kinds of stupid things to get it (say like the way the Chinese are going about getting this stuff)? Based on what evidence?

In the past when the stuff we have now didn't exist, it doesn't surprise me that people did not seek it. There was a radical change in the ideas that govern human life back in the 1500's in Europe, but since then, really new paradigms (more properly organons) have yet to arise. They may in due course, but I suspect as with the last New Organon, the next new organon will arise in a period of strife, difficulty and hardship which, if the doomers are correct, Peak Oil ought to serve as a nice catalyst for strife, difficulty and hardship.

Time shall tell no doubt.

I feel very sorry for me. My generation has to bear the huge burden which previous generations did not. I feel sorry for the ones who come after me, I am only 26 and I feel the weight of the challenge to be almost overwhelming. How much can a single generation of humans take? We'll find out with the next one unfortunately.

Eh, don't worry about it so much. In the long run, you were all going to die and suffer anyways. Fundamentally, this period of difficulty is no different than any other. Humanity will struggle on until it doesn't at it ultimately won't (because all lifeforms go extinct eventually). There is no escaping this.

The question is HOW will it all unfold? Finding out the answer to this question is the only reason to pay any attention at all. If the answer to that question really doesn't interest you, just live your life and ignore certain truths about the world. It will be easier that way. Of course, it would have helped had you remained ignorant of this site and all that is discussed therein, but that's the problem with knowledge. Once you have it, you can't unlearn it. Read Flowers for Algernon for a fuller discussion of the problem.

Don't worry, I'll leave fresh flowers on Algernon's grave. :-)

Unfortunately for me im a pessoptimist. I am pessimistic about our chances to pull through the coming crises without tragedy but at the same time I am optimistic that we'll survive and thrive afterwards even if the true lessons are never learnt.

"I am 73 years old and will not likely see the worst of the collapse. I hope to be safely dead by then"

Why do you hope to be dead? Why is it so terrible to be poor?

"To be poor?" Is that your take on what the collapse will be like, everyone will be just a little poorer? I have different expectations. But the main reason I don't want to see it that I don't want to see my family suffer.

Ron P.

"It is true that the odd cat has to be belled for its gut and the odd tree felled for its wood to make guitars. But cats breed and trees just keep coming back."


Iconic US guitar maker Gibson is facing a criminal probe over claims it broke environmental laws while importing wood. So is music the next threat to the world's forests?

Not even guitar making can expand exponentially for ever.

I can imagine them saying it. Something like this "My opponent over there is so crazy, he's a closet believer in Peak Oil! Would you want such a crazy nihilist in the (insert political office at stake)!"

Clintons: (1)


Edit: 2 if you count Bill!

The availability of vaccines has not materially slowed the population growth in China or India, even with attempts at direct governmental intervention.

I don't think you can say that. It's way too early.

And the population growth rate in China and India has slowed markedly. Can't attribute it to any one factor, but it's widely accepted these days that healthcare is one reason the population bomb fizzled.

also china imposed one child policy. in the west it was hypocritically criticized while at the same time people were satisfied that the chinese made the ugly decisions. so in the west we don't have to do anything

One thing that's slightly scary for those of us who live here is the population density of England is higher than that of India (395/km2 versus 366/km2). Mind you, our rivers used to be pretty bad too - the Great Stink for example...

I read once that the Ghanges is so poluted, the river has burnt twice. If that is true, it is horrible.

Didn't that happen to a river in the USA too?


The Cuyahoga in Ohio. I think it was in the late 60s or early 70s.

Thanks, from Wikipedea

There have reportedly been at least thirteen fires on the Cuyahoga River, the first occurring in 1868.[12] The largest river fire in 1952 caused over $1 million in damage to boats and a riverfront office building.[13] Fires erupted on the river several more times before June 22, 1969, when a river fire captured the attention of Time magazine, which described the Cuyahoga as the river that "oozes rather than flows" and in which a person "does not drown but decays."



No I don't think that that has happened too the Ganges, last time I saw it it had the consistency of thin mud, too thick to drink too thin too plough

A high rate of childhood death and disability increases population, because people have more kids as insurance. If they can be reasonably confident that their children will survive, they have fewer of them.

Historically, it takes at least a generation for the lesson to sink in that you no longer have to have six kids in order for two to reach adulthood. So introducing something that drastically cuts child mortality rates creates, at least in the short term (25 years or so), an increase in the local population. Birth rates then drop off, but the jump in the base population tends to be permanent.

One reason the US still has such a high birth rate is immigration. Without it, we would have dropped below replacement level, as Japan and many European countries have.

Immigrants not only have larger families, their children have larger families. It takes 3-4 generations before they "assimilate" in that respect. (Though that may be changing, simply because family size is dropping all over the world, meaning the gap is smaller these days.)

The real problem, IMO, is that governments tend to see a stable or falling population as a problem that needs to be fixed, rather than as a solution. So you have Japanese politicians threatening to cut off social security to women who don't have at least one child, and countries like France and Australia paying "baby bounties" to encourage women to have more kids.

The real problem, IMO, is that governments tend to see a stable or falling population as a problem that needs to be fixed, rather than as a solution.

Leanan, I agree with your opinion.
Imagine how our problems could be more manageable if our world population was only 4 billion (as it was in 1974 after the first oil embargo).

Pity that instead of promoting babies to women who aren't exactly raring to go they don't fill the population "shortage" with young, single immigrants on a "no children for the first 5 years" contract. It would help keep world population down and could ease demographic imbalance in countries with aging populations.

I bet that lots of people in overpopulated countries would agreed to 5 years of using an IUD or similar thing in exchange for expedited immigration papers. I also bet that some governments would like "instant tax payers" that don't need 18 years of rearing.

The real problem, IMO, is that governments tend to see a stable or falling population as a problem that needs to be fixed, rather than as a solution.

Of course. One of the fundamental problems any society must address is "What do we do about the old folks?" The same technology that reduces infant mortality also reduces mortality for the elderly, so you have to deal with them. The fundamental strategy in all of the OECD countries is that a growing population of young plus growing productivity will allow them to transfer enough of the goods and services produced to the non-working elderly. If either population growth of the young or (energy-driven) productivity gains slow too much, the system will fail.

No politician who wants to be re-elected is willing to propose that far-reaching changes in our social structure are necessary to actually address the problems.

Your last sentence is not true. Many politicians are already proposing to raise retirement age, which is a pretty far reaching change. It has already occurred in some jurisdictions. As has the end of compulsory retirement. Now, these particular new arrangements may not be the best ones, but trial and error is not bad methodology.

I think you might want to give some thought to the concept of 'old'.

And I think you might also want to give some consideration to the tradeoffs when resources are shifted from unproductive toddlers to the unproductive elderly and infirm. Although, I must say that my own use of the word 'unproductive' is somewhat irritating, given the joy that toddlers provide me and the wisdom I gain from the old.

They're tinkering around the edges; in effect: "Some of you, who are far from retirement, will have to work a year or two longer to draw full benefits." Easy to say when the consequences are decades away. And I note that we haven't heard much of anything about Rand Paul's proposed budget since the conservatives who backed it had a chance to go back to their districts and get an earful from the people who elected them.

I have said for many years that the first crisis the Baby Boomers will precipitate is not the failure of Social Security or Medicare (which many are ready to pin on us). It will be the demonstration that the US private sector is not prepared to provide meaningful employment to the portion of the Boomers who can't afford to retire. It is one thing for pundits (and even politicians) to say, "You'll just have to work until you're 70." It is quite another for them to answer the question of where the jobs for those older people will come from.

In the last decade , Uk retirement age for women has had increases booked for future retirees raising the age from 60 to 66.

That is a major reduction in given benefit - women live to 88 at present, so they will have to work 6 years longer for a 20% reduction in pension funded retirement duration. And women earn on average 20% less than men...

This is only the beginning...

One reason the US still has such a high birth rate is immigration. Without it, we would have dropped below replacement level, as Japan and many European countries have.

This is likely true but only because immigrants tend to have more babies each year.

Fast Facts About U.S. Population Growth

Over four million babies are born each year in the United States.
The U.S. population is growing by about 2.5 million people each year. Of that, immigration contributes over one million people to the U.S. population annually.

The population is growing by 2.5 million each year but only 1 million of this growth is immigrants. The rest are births minus deaths and that would come to 1.5 million people each year.

Ron P.

US births hit a minimum of 3,136,965 in 1973 after the end of the "Baby Boom" and then climbed back up :-(


Reducing annual births by about 900,000/year, much less immigration plus early deaths of Baby Boomers# (should start soon) should reduce US population growth close to zero.

#And US retirees going abroad may grow.


This would be one way to trim the population ...

'Black Death' Genome Analysis Shows Links Alive Today

Reconstruction is complete on more than 99% of the genome of the Yersinia pestis strain responsible for the plague that swept Europe in the mid-14th century, killing nearly half of the population, an international team of researchers reported.

The work of Krause and colleagues marks the first time an historical pathogen has been reconstructed from skeletal remains -- in this case from Black Death victims interred at the East Smithfield mass burial site in London from 1348 to 1350.

"The genomic data show that this bacterial strain, or variant, is the ancestor of all modern plagues we have today worldwide. Every outbreak across the globe today stems from a descendant of the medieval plague," ...

Even if a anti-biotic resistant strain develops (or is developed - see Soviet work with GMO smallpox virus), modern hygiene will mitigate the impact in the USA.

OTOH, obesity and related diabetes and heart disease will almost surely drop life expectancy for the next generations. Reduce or deny out-patient clinic care, education, etc. to detect and manage diabetes (and to a lesser degree heart disease) and US life expectancy could drop as it did in the USSR > Russia transition.

Tea Party health care for all !

Best Hopes for Better Means of Population Control,


As far as I remember the biggest single cause of falling life expectancy in post-Soviet Russia was ex-aparachniks drinking themselves to death after they discovered that their life's work no longer had any meaning or respect.

I found that study fascinating. Basically, the black death was the first appearance of bubonic plague. That's why it was so lethal; humans had never encountered it before.

I wonder if the black death was worse for Europeans than small pox was to native Americans....

I wonder if the black death was worse for Europeans than small pox was to native Americans...

Fifty percent reduction of population is a lot less catastrophic, than ninety percent! And that came at the same time a largely immune technologically superior people was trying to take away their land!

according to new york times:


half of the europe's population died of plague in 6th century. apparently plague had existed in china long before that.

That's an old article. The new research suggests that the plague emerged in Tibet, when a harmless soil bacteria mutated into a lethal form.

Genetic analysis suggests that the Black Death hit Europe maybe 140 years after the new strain evolved - so it was new in China, too. That means the Justinian plague was something else.

Lived with that one for years. The east slopes of the Rockies (at least in the southern stretches) is a hotspot. Just be careful of little furry critters. And if you do get sick, get to the Doc in time. My sister was actually treated, after being exposed to a patient (as a nurse). Heisenburg, should take notice, and be aware....
With some care, and knowledge about disease vectors, infections can be kept to a minimum. Y. Pestis, is actually fairly common in many locations...


Thanks for the warning...IIRC, the SW has also experienced Hanta Virus from mouse droppings and dried mouse urine...

so far we have been fascinated by our house guests the bull snake, the sun spiders,the Vinagaroons, the scorpions, and Rodrigo the Tarantula.

After trimming some rosemary bushes, I had a nice bullseye on my abdomen for ~6 weeks...wasn'y Lyme's disease...some kind of insect bite I guess...


A couple of points:

1) We live in a world that demands infinite growth in the economy to pay down debt. This implies infinite growth in the species itself. If the population curve does turn out to be logistic, sure we might temporarily avoid a crash, but the entire financial system of the globe would crash anyway. And then you would hear, the world over, politicians, bankers, and CEO's pleading for people to have more and more kids, so that growth could continue.

So yes, you can observe, from an academic distance, how the world might possibly avoid a population crash. But, anyway, it cannot avoid the financial and economic implosion, and it can't avoid the stupidity of leaders wanting more and more people to feed the growth machine. Game theory has relevance as well. Unless the whole world decides to limit population, those countries that encourage growth (such as through immigration) will have a short term economic benefit.

Why do you think all the brainless mainstream media pundits keep saying the U.S. needs infinite immigration to remain competitive? So that we can pay back the debt and support the outsized military and welfare benefits.

2) You can't talk about population without talking about death rate! You can't just talk about birth rate.

For population to even stabilize, then some people, anywhere, need to start dying. Does this sound morbid? Too bad, it's the truth.

But what would happen if our hospitals and nursing homes were filled with the elderly and those with multiple organ failures, and they were dying, and nothing seemed to work? Then the politicians would call for more healthcare spending and "innovation."

You can't talk about population without talking about death rate! You can't just talk about birth rate.

Actually, I think you can. For anyone not named Ray Kurzweil, death is a given.

For population to even stabilize, then some people, anywhere, need to start dying.

I hate to break it to you, but that's already happening. In fact, it's happening to you, right now. Everyone living is on the way to dying. Nobody gets out of here alive.

But what would happen if our hospitals and nursing homes were filled with the elderly and those with multiple organ failures, and they were dying, and nothing seemed to work? Then the politicians would call for more healthcare spending and "innovation."

I seriously doubt that. Hospitals and nursing homes are already filled with the elderly and dying. That's kind of what they're for. It's expensive, and I think the trend will be to spend less, not more. For one thing, there will be less money available, and for another, people are starting to realize that it's not a good way to go.

Longer lifespan for those already living would create a bit more momentum, but in the end, it's the birth rate that matters. And for politicians, it's the economic system that requires infinite growth that will be the biggest concern, not hospitals full of old people.

"For population to even stabilize, then some people, anywhere, need to start dying."

This is closely related to "demographic momentum". If the fertility rate were reduced to replacement level, the population would go on growing for a while (the momentum) until the growth wound down as the age distribution reached equilibrium, i.e. as people got older on average, deaths would inevitably match births after a time.

After all, no matter how much is spent on hospitals and nursing homes, and no matter how much the politicians and "campaigners" moralize, it still remains, so far, that every birth is eventually matched up to a death. True, "eventually" is indeed being postponed - but not forever, just for ever more insignificant increments at ever vaster expense. So one needn't fret that the demographic momentum would be infinite. (One might instead worry that in just a few decades the moralizers will take us to the point where every person is either electronically strapped into a hospital bed, or else working in the hospital, with no time left over for any other activity whatsoever.)

The dramatic drop in male life expectancy as the Soviet Union > Russia reduced the population.

From 1992 to 1994 life expectancy for Russian males dropped from 62.0 to 57.6 years.


male life expectancy dropped from 61.3 in 1998 to 58.8 years in 2000


One fairly quick means of population control that the USA may experience post-Peak Oil.


Only a short term bump though. The long term depends entirely on the replacement ratio.

It seems that overpopulation has been on their radar screen for some time.

Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation

SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, ... included David Rockefeller Jr, ... Warren Buffett and George Soros, ... Michael Bloomberg, ... Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

Another guest said there was “nothing as crude as a vote” but a consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.

“This is something so nightmarish that everyone in this group agreed it needs big-brain answers,” said the guest. “They need to be independent of government agencies, which are unable to head off the disaster we all see looming.”

Why all the secrecy? “They wanted to speak rich to rich without worrying anything they said would end up in the newspapers, painting them as an alternative world government,” he said.

My brain (doubtless warped in childhood by too much Lovecraft and Ellison) cannot help but connect this rather disturbing news clip with one further up:

Gartman is not a peak oil believer because we will substitute. We used whale oil in the past before switching to oil and will switch again in the future. He is not sure what we will switch to...

Human biomass is on its way to becoming a major resource concentration on the planet's surface. The ultra-rich are meeting secretly to discuss the problem. Many of them believe that substitution is the guaranteed solution to fuel shortfalls.

Hmmm. Last reel of "The Idaho Transfer" anyone?

But really, more seriously, the idea of our modern robber barons having a quiet little policy meeting "independent of government agencies" seems to me ominous. Are we starting to witness the transition from soi-disant Republic to barefaced Imperium? The secrecy of the meeting lends even more weight to the suspicion that they are, in fact, starting to think of themselves (and act like) an unelected government. OTOH... the elected governments we in N Am have these days are elected by such a joke of a "majority," and are so obviously beholden to moneyed backers rather than the electorate, that maybe a House of Lords doesn't look all that much worse...

I'm less worried about Gates, et.al. doing anything unseemly. but if the Koch Bros. or Murdock were having a confab about population control you could bet it would be more like the Wannsee Conference and we'd be on the menu.

At least none of the rich have chosen to increase deaths to low population.

It's become apparent to me over the last few years that this problem will soon be remedied as a result of energy decline. This won't be the "nice" solution that voluntary population control would bring, but a solution nonetheless. I would have to think that these folks recognize that.

Just for the record, unless I'm terribly mistaken, the trajectory for all life on Earth is towards extinction. That's why almost all lifeforms that have ever existed are extinct. We won't last forever either.

Now, cockroaches ...


Yes. Preserving as much biological diversity as possible might help us, if we're still around and in any condition to make use of it. But if things really get that bad, new species will evolve for the new conditions. It's happened before, and will doubtless happen again.

Just for the record, unless I'm terribly mistaken, the trajectory for all life on Earth is towards extinction. That's why almost all lifeforms that have ever existed are extinct.

Wet One, sorry to tell you this but you are terribly mistaken, that is definitely not why almost all lifeforms that have ever existed are now extinct. In fact the exact opposite is true, except for natural disasters such volcanoes or meteors and such, the reason species go extinct is that some other species evolve a better survival plan and then push them, their competitors, into extinction.

Every species is in competition with every other species for territory and resources. The winners grow in population, expand their territory and take over more of the resources of that territory. The losers often go extinct.

Ron P.

A huge number of species are extinct because they evolved into something else. Dinosaurs didn't die out; some species did, but other species evolved into birds, which are extremely successful. The species that evolved into birds are extinct, but didn't die out. In fact, they live and are radically successful.

Also, don't discount the effect of volcanoes and meteors on evolution. Mammals existed before the meteor triggered the K-T extinction, but none have been found larger than a meter in length. We might have come to dominate anyway, but the meteor made it happen when it did, and radically changed the course of evolution.

JP, whole species do not change into another species. No whole species, as a species, ever evolved into "something else". All changes in phenotype or physical changes, all adaptations, begin with a single animal. (Or plant as the case may be.) And because that adaptation gives that animal a survival or reproductive advantage, it is passed on to the offspring of that animal.

The inability to interbreed however, does happen to whole species and it takes thousands of years. For instance there are many different types of baboons in Africa. Some of them look quite different from other groups. But they all can interbreed. However there are over 50 types, or species, of Lemurs on Madagascar, some of them look almost exactly alike, and none of them can interbreed.

During several periods of global warming and high sea levels in the past, Madagascar was two different islands. Lemur species were separated for thousands of years. They underwent genetic drift during those thousands of years and as a result they cannot interbreed. Their inability to interbreed was not caused by evolutionary pressure but simply by long periods of separation.

Ron P.

If a given species evolves far enough, at some point we will start calling it something else. But, the boundary then becomes arbitrary. Of course usually new branches emerge, and old ones die out, its not a straight line sort of thing.

I'm not sure we're are disagreeing or that I am mistaken. To make my point using your language and logic, I could say that the trajectory for all life[forms] on Earth is towards losing the battle for survival. That's why almost all lifeforms that have ever competed on Earth are extinct.

Do you agree? I think the result is essentially the same, it's just that I originally had no discussion of the mechanism of extinction which you have stressed (namely being outcompeted for survival).

I definitely agree with your competition point. I don't think that this changes the trajectory of all lifeforms. So far as I know, no lifeform has existed on this planet unchanged from its origins (though some have existed for a very long time e.g. ceolocanths at ~250 million years). Which is to say that almost all or all of them have been outcompeted or otherwise gone extinct.

Or am I missing something?

Re: Most Supertankers Idled Since ‘80s Still Won’t Buoy Charter Rates

This link showed up after the 08 resession.


The photography in that article is scary.

This seems to belie what Jeff Rubin predicted about high fuel costs crushing the ability of companies to take advantage of countries with cheap labour and shipping product to consumer markets.
Lack of demand would seem to be sending these shipping companies towards bankruptcy, not high bunker fuel costs.

yes that article is very scary. it shows that we have not hit bottom yet, only a small ledge on the side of a canyon. that could give at any moment.


"NC begins public debate on natural gas fracking." A little late in the game but probably better late than never. Frac'ng has been done in thousands of wells in NC for decades. In fact, frac'ng has been a common practice in the Appalachian plays just like west Texas for a very long time. If there's been a problem with frac'ng in NC they ought to be able to come up with a good bit of support.

Thinking the Unthinkable: Engineering Earth’s Climate

A U.S. panel has called for a concerted effort to study proposals to manipulate the climate to slow global warming — a heretical notion among some environmentalists. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Jane C. S. Long, the group’s chairwoman, explains why we need to know more about the possibilities and perils of geoengineering.

YE360: ... What kind of tipping points did some of the scientists have in mind that might speed up the necessity to consider climate remediation?

Long: Certainly methane issues in the Arctic and positive feedbacks in the Arctic. Also positive feedbacks that would change rainfall patterns dramatically and threaten food supplies. There are some perfect storms out there where the food supply and water supply available to humans is dramatically changed and at the same time population growth accelerates.

Harrisburg council approves bankruptcy filing

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The City Council voted in favor of a municipal bankruptcy filing after rejecting financial recovery plans put forward by state officials and Harrisburg's mayor. But the way forward for the cash-strapped capital remains clouded while Pennsylvania lawmakers ponder a state takeover.

Thai Floods Roil Supply Chains

With rescue teams and troops racing to prevent swelling floodwaters from breaching the defenses of Thailand's low-lying capital Bangkok, foreign and local businesses continued to calculate the cost of swamped factories and broken supply chains Wednesday, while the prime minister warned retailers against profiteering.

"Automotive and industrial manufacturers, electronics and high-tech product companies are especially vulnerable to the supply chain disruptions we are now seeing," said Sundi Aiyer, Asia Operations Practice Expert at business consultancy McKinsey & Co.

Combined with lost rice harvests, Thai government agencies expect the flooding could wipe nearly a full percentage point off its economic growth rate this year.

Well we can use some of those VLCC's for FPSO's.

DHS Transportation Security Administration to Hide Condition of 100 Critical Pipelines

With OMB approval TSA reached out to the operators of the top 125 critical pipeline systems and requested they submit a listing of their critical facilities to TSA.

TSA will use the information collected to determine to what extent the pipeline industry is implementing the 2011 guidance document and security improvement recommendations made during critical facility visits. The information provided by owners or operators for each information collection is Sensitive Security Information (SSI).

Since many of these lines jump out of the ground at river crossings, pig launchers, and receives, there will be many places to perform meaness. What about all those compressor stations and gas plants. Alaska pipeline is out of the ground for many miles. I remember when a Mexican kid shot a hole throw the line and shutter it for month.

The Quest: The Daniel Yergin Interview. Why He’s “Cautiously Optimistic” on the Future of Oil

"We certainly are moving past the era of cheap oil," Yergin concedes. "[But] we do have major new supplies opening up," including offshore Brazil, and the U.S. and Canadian oil sands as examples. "None of them can be considered 'cheap oil',"

maybe wrong video ...but .... Aaron Task understands peak oil


Regarding Canada, Brazil, et al . . .

Combined net oil exports from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil* fell from 5.1 mbpd in 2005 to 4.0 mbpd in 2010 (BP).

*Brazil is a net importer of petroleum liquids, and their net imports increased from 2005 to 2010 (and from 2009 to 2010), but the media seem to think that Brazil is taking market share away from OPEC, so I included Brazil on the list.

Here is direct link to the Yergin interview:

The article gave a nice reference to critic's Chris Nelder and Gregor Macdonald's response to Yergins 'There will be Oil' that is here:

In the interview, Yergin himself seemed to pull back from his over-optimistic Cornucopian style and accepted that oil prices will be higher but he is 'cautiously optimistic'. Perhaps all of the push-back against Yergin got him to change his tune a bit?

Well done everyone that wrote responses.

But he does still rely on making it happy talk

In addition, Yergin is confident in the power of the "feedbacks" from higher energy prices: "Price itself is important piece of information," he says. "When prices [are] zooming up, demand goes down, people find alternatives, technology gets stimulated, and you get greater efficiency. "

I agree with Yergin there . . . but 'people find alternatives' means more people ride bikes, mass-transit, and smaller cars. Greater efficiency means people people move closer to work, get small cars, use mass-transit, smaller homes, etc. 'demand goes down' means recession, unemployment, etc.

New marine power sites leased out by Crown Estate

Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power has secured a lease from the Crown Estate to develop a wave farm off the island of Bernera on the Western Isles. The firm said the project would generate enough electricity for about 7,000 homes.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "These new projects around the north and west of Scotland bring the total number of planned developments in Scotland to 25, including 1.6GW in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters strategic area.

America's commutes start earlier and last longer

Between 1982 and 1997, the US converted more than 24 million acres (37500 miles^2) of natural habitat into developed land. [larger than the state of Maine or Indiana]

In the past, people were willing to accept a long commute for a taste of residential freedom, and cities built the infrastructure to assist them.

But the tide has turned on many who sought comfort in the distance.

"A reasonable choice a few years ago is now hard to escape and has become the albatross around the neck," says Ms Mokhtarian. The limited amount of good-paying work has forced many job seekers to look further away from home. The housing market collapse has left home owners stranded in the countryside.

Scientists develop new technology to detect deep sea gas leaks

A new ultra-sensitive technology which can monitor leaks from underwater gas pipelines has been developed by scientists at the University of Southampton.

Using a simple set of underwater microphones to monitor these changes would provide a cost effective, unique detection system which would be one hundred times more sensitive than current monitors used by the oil and gas industry for remote detection with long deep sea pipelines.

“This new technology could save gas extraction and distribution companies millions in lost revenue. Severe leaks can also be dangerous to nearby oil rigs, shipping and for shore-based gas distribution facilities,” comments Professor Tim Leighton of the University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research who led the research.

Think the economy's bad? 'You haven't seen anything'

Market pessimism is reaching a fever pitch, fueled by increasing belief that global policymakers either are powerless or inept when it comes to controlling the various headwinds confronting the economy.

..."It's important to understand that the recession doesn't mean a bad economy — we've had that for years now. It means an economy that keeps worsening, because it’s locked into a vicious cycle. It means that the jobless rate, already above 9%, will go much higher, and the federal budget deficit, already above a trillion dollars, will soar," Economic Cycle Research Institute [ECRI] said in research posted a few days ago. "Here's what ECRI's recession call really says: If you think this is a bad economy, you haven't seen anything yet."

This is not going to be a fun ride - kinda like standing at the top of the expert slope and realizing you've got in over your head. But still this is good news - what is happening with the economy and debt crisis was going to happen regardless, and larger change cannot happen until the broader public mood begins to change. Maybe when people stop believing the platitudes and soothing lies they can begin to accept the possibility of change.

Cold War's nuclear wastes pose challenges to science, engineering, society

Seven papers published in the current issue of Technology and Innovation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors report on efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to ensure continued safe and secure storage and disposition of 50 years worth of spent nuclear fuel, surplus nuclear materials, and high-level wastes at DOE facilities.

During 50-plus years of nuclear weapons production and government-sponsored nuclear energy research and production that generated contaminated soil and groundwater covering two million acres in 35 states, the U.S. government did not have environmental structures, technologies or infrastructure to deal with the legacy.

...a critical review of technology and safe practices in spent nuclear fuel transport and storage found that mid-term storage (up to several decades) is feasible, yet long-term storage (up to 100 years) needs strengthened technology and management practices ...

This might seem a really dumb question but wht can we just load it on a rocket and fire it into outer space? As I understand it it's only the top 0.01% of stuff that is really difficult to store. The other many 1000's of tonnes is lower grade. Just fire the bad stuff nito space.

It's a fairly obvious solution so i'm fully expecting it to have a major flaw say for example the rocket exploding and dusting the entire planet with highly radioactive nucliotides - but you would launch over sea with lots of sfety features like bulkheads,parachutes etc...

Any thoughts on this?

That plan was considered back when. It was concluded that the occasional rocket failure would spread the stuff around and thus containment would not be assured. The amount of waste isn't so small that it could be fitted into only a few launches via the Shuttle or similar heavy lift rocket, since the extra rocket boost required to reach escape velocity reduces payload mass considerably. I had the opportunity to review the EIS for the Savannah River Plant some 30 years ago and it was quite scary. The volume of waste from the US nuclear weapons program is quite large and is stored in tanks which have tended to leak over time. Then too, there's the problem of shielding the rocket before launch, which would make ground repairs to the rocket very difficult, once the payload were mated onto the rocket...

E. Swanson

Owner: 20 Sailors on Tanker Seized off Nigeria

In August, London-based Lloyd's Market Association, an umbrella group of insurers, listed Nigeria, neighboring Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as Somalia, where two decades of war and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish. However, some analysts say Somali-style piracy is much different to the kind now growing in West African waters.

Risk Intelligence research suggests that that Somali pirates keep hostages for six to eight months and walk away with ransoms averaging $5 million dollars.

"In Nigerian hijackings, they may get a value of crude or refined oil worth twice or four times as much, and they get it in a week," Hansen said.

Tanker: MT Cape Bird, hijacked about 166km from Lagos - carrying 30,000 tonnes of fuel [188,694 bbl].

Shale gas contracts case heads to Pa. high court

A Susquehanna County couple on Friday asked the Supreme Court to reinforce that a nearly 130-year-old ruling applies to the Marcellus Shale, which lies underneath much of Pennsylvania and is considered the nation's largest-known natural gas reservoir.

The appeal was motivated by a lower Superior Court action last month suggesting that perhaps the 1882 case cannot be used to separate mineral rights from gas rights in the case of the Marcellus Shale.

S - Thanks for the update. Going to be intersting to watch. As I understand the real question is whether the Marcellus NG should be classified as as "mineral resource" as is NG produced from coal. It's not how the NG is classified but how the formation that holds the resource is classified. On a logical basis I would say the case has no merit. The Marcellus Shale is a rock. All the other oil/NG produced from other rock formations, including other shales. So there seems to be a clear deliniation between any rock, including shale, and a coal seam.

Radioactive 'Hot Spots' Detected in Tokyo

Japanese researchers discovered high levels of radioactive material in concentrated areas in Tokyo and Yokohama, more than 241 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, as increasingly thorough tests provide a clearer picture of just how far contamination has spread and accumulated after the March disaster.

Although it is good to see media outside of Japan waking up to the fact that Fukushima hasn't gone away, the Wall Street Journal still downplays the findings. The reading of 2.7 microsieverts per hour was after "decontamination" it was 4.7 before so they didn't even half it. This mirrors reports from all over Japan that when residents or officials follow decontamination guidelines they frequently find little change and days later the readings are often back to where they were. - especially after rain. There appears to be continued deposition.

Also the university which first confirmed the caesium-137 detection in Yokohama also officially confirmed strontium-90. The city officials have since confirmed that they knew already about strontium-90 from their own testing but didn't bother to mention it until the university went public. Sources close to the university claim that they also detected plutonium in Yokohama 240km from the plant but are under pressure not to release this without more re-testing, which they are doing.

The Fukushima Diary http://fukushima-diary.com/ is based in Yokohama and one of the best sources for the most up-to-date news

Even on official limited data there are millions of Japanese currently living in areas well above the compulsory evacuation level around Chernobyl and then there are countless millions more Japanese living in areas drowned in just a slightly "thinner" radioactive soup of alpha beta and gamma emitters. The Japanese are continuing to carry out the world's largest long-term "dirty-bomb" test on themselves.

There are already Japanese government apologists appearing saying things such as "If you smile and be happy you will not get ill from radiation", "100 microsieverts per hour is a safe level", "you can safely drink plutonium" etc...

Meanwhile German tv just interviewed workers who's dosimeters say "Error" whenever they approach reactor 1 and don't tell them the dose - but they must continue to work anyway. It would be comic if it wasn't so sad.

Thank you for the link. I recognize that what is happening over there is an ongoing unmitigated catastrophe, although it is already yesterday's news everywhere else. What is happening there will impact other places directly, and variations on it will eventually happen everywhere that nuclear waste is stored, because we have no way to contain it for as long as it will be dangerous. The only choice is to select some place that keeps it as contained and separated from population areas as possible. But if we don't do that while we still have the capability and resources to do it, then every NPP will eventually become Fukushima.

Context is a good thing... from the Health Physics Society

During the last period of "solar minimum," at an altitude of 30,000 feet, the dose rate was about 4 μSv per hour at the latitudes of North America and Western Europe. During solar maximum, which is occurring now, the dose rate fell to around 3 μSv per hour. For the higher altitude of 40,000 feet, the dose rates were about 8μSv per hour at solar minimum and now are about 6.5 μSv per hour.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that in an 11-year solar cycle there could be up to three events that might produce a dose rate of up to 200 μSv per hour for a few hours at airliner altitudes. The most recent significant particle event occurred on 14 July 2000. Although an exact value of the maximum dose rate has not yet been established, my estimate is that it was at least 50 μSv per hour extending over the relatively long period of almost a full day.

So, according to the data, one will receive higher dose rates on-board an airplane than these hot-spots. Do we run around with our hair on fire about the prospect of getting nuked on your next flight? Do we see evidence of airline employees experiencing abnormal cancer rates... according to a 1996 paper in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the incidence of cancer among 2,740 Air Canada pilots was studied. The pilot group had a significantly lower overall incidence of cancer than the general population!

Radiation can be detected in extremely small amounts, well below anything that is truly dangerous. We all live in a sea of radiation, some areas orders of magnitudes more intense than others, and evidence tells us there are levels below which very little to no harm is done. To hyperventilate about small exposures is fear driven by ignorance concerning health impacts of low-level radiation. No deaths occurred due to Fukushima reactors' catastrophic failure caused by the massive natural disaster, yet you'd never know that from the tenor of discussions here and elsewhere.

I think we as a society need to really get to the truth about what constitutes a dangerous dose of radiation. The model used for setting public policy (LNT) is NOT based on scientific evidence and only serves to AMP THE FEAR of anything nuclear despite plenty of evidence that low level radiation is not dangerous.

I thought the biggest danger from radiation was if you internalize radioactive nucleotides - i.e.: eat, breathe - how can that be compared to low doses of solar/cosmic radiation from sitting on an airplane? You do not continue to be irradiated once you get off the plane. Am I missing something here?

Exactly. Steve has just quoted external doses which only last the duration of the flight. As Chris Busby pus it with the chemical heat analogy - "The difference between external and internal exposures is like the difference between sitting in front of glowing hot coal and just getting nice and warm and eating that hot coal."

Although Steve 00-1 mentions that we all live in a sea of radiation he fails to mention that the Japanese are living in a vast ocean of radioactive strontium, caesium, plutonium, uranium (and initially iodine), and assorted decay chain products which vastly exceeds levels seen even at the peak of atmospheric testing anywhere.

Millions of Japanese will, under current plans, be born and spend their entire lives in this radioactive soup incorporating it into their bodies from birth. I do not envy them. Steve Double-Oh One might want to move there though and become part of the experiment.

I suspect the Japanese are probably quietly considering more drastic long term measures though as permanently moving millions (even tens of millions) is possible over a long enough time frame - and they have a very long time frame to think of now.

And we shouldn't forget it could still get worse at Fukushima and I'm really not confident they have the hydrogen problem under control. Fingers crossed - that's what we/they are reduced to.

Its very simple. Your body sees these radioactive isotopes as building blocks and use them to create bone,etc. Sr-90 is taken up into bone because your body thinks its calcium (where it stays for ??? ever? and has a half life of 30 years), Cs-137 is absorbed by the body and stays for half a year or more (your body will see it as potassium). Cs-137 has a half life around 30 years too. All the while they will be emitting radiation inside your body.

All will be good in 200+ years when many half lives have taken place.

Although Steve 00-1 mentions that we all live in a sea of radiation he fails to mention that the Japanese are living in a vast ocean of radioactive strontium, caesium, plutonium, uranium (and initially iodine), and assorted decay chain products which vastly exceeds levels seen even at the peak of atmospheric testing anywhere.

You're being hysterical. Only the small exclusion zone has higher dose-rates than of some high-background radiation areas of the world, and people in those places also get internal doses, of course, and cope without problems. The increased cancer frequency likely won't be measurable, and if they'd like to mitigate anyways, then 10% of Japanese "sea-of-radiation" tobacco smokers quitting their habit would be a wild overcompensation.

Does anyone really know yet how far the radiation is spreading and how high the doses are? Maybe some people can cope just fine, but in the long run I would think that eating and breathing radioactive dust is going to have a negative impact on your DNA. You are talking about three nuclear meltdowns plus who knows how many tons of uncontained burning nuclear waste. Just thinking about it makes me... hysterical.

Your body, right now, produce some 4000 decays of natural potassium-40 (quite energetic beta radiation, actually) per second inside your body. Also you inhale small amounts of radon gas which deposits radon daughters in your lungs, and those will decay further. A fair bit of uranium and thorium from coal burning ends up in your lungs too. And of course, a certain percentage of your body consists of radioactive coal-14 that will enable archeologists to tell the age of your remains. All the while you are being bombarded by radiation from the outside and once in a while you'll need to do an x-ray. It all comes down to amounts, and Japan has quite little.

Re: U & Th: You've given a compeling explanation of why the Number One cause of death in China is Cancer

It is number one for men, not for women. The reason is that men smoke more.

If you had say a thousand times the lethal dose of polonium-210 inside you right now, a geiger counter placed right next to you would read background levels and nothing else. That wouldn't stop you from being dead soon afterwards.

So? The amounts of radiation outside the exclusion zone still present no big problem. You are furthering conspiracy theories and pseudo-scientific hysteria. Please stop.

Perhaps you could let us know then exactly what is the composition of "the radiation" outside the exclusion zone as you seem so certain of it? You can then set my mind at rest as to why all these concentrations of individual isotopes are perfectly safe for lifetime exposure.

While you're at it could you give me your expert opinion on the location, geometry and dispersion of the three melted down cores at the moment? Oh and an inventory of the spent fuel pools would be nice.

Fear by details? I need only know that radiation levels are not significantly higher than high-background-radiation areas in the rest of the world.

what conspiracy? The reactor melted down, nuclear radiation has been released. Entropy takes over. If you can tell me that there aren't radioactive nucleotides outside of the exclusion zone, that would be one thing, but it clearly isn't the case. How many times has the FDA decided that something is "safe enough" only to find out years later that it's not. Humans are resilient enough, but this is some of the deadliest stuff we have ever generated. Is that not correct?

NO it is not. I am getting a little sick of this rubbish. Radiation has been part of the environment since the Big Bang. Man has grown up with radiation in and around since the first steps. Many of the reports that are being cited are total exaggerations. I am not saying that what happened with those reactors is not bad but what is being attached to it is getting on ridiculous. Quite simply, if this was "some of the deadliest stuff we have ever generated" we would not be here now.


Yeah, I breath plutonium dust every day, just for a lark, and I'm doing fine.

ok, maybe not deadly like a methyl isocyanate or mustard gas. But still pretty bad. Hence a 20 kilometer exclusion zone. How many years until it is safe to return? And what reports are you talking about? The ones that said the government knew the reactors melted down hours after the event? Though it seemed obvious, they didn't tell the public what they initially knew for several weeks. So what reports can one trust? They may all be exaggerations, or not.

We don't spend 24/7 at 30,000 to 40,000 feet. Although some aircrews should pay attention. Meanwhile, it is less the level of external radiation, then what isotopes might be ingested and retained within the body that really counts.

There are a couple good articles in today's drumbeat as well. The Japanese have turned against nuclear pretty strongly, but there are still a lot of people saying it's "neccessary". The current PM of Japan seems to want nuclear back in operation, but on the local level there is a LOT of resistance, much more than before.

Then again, there are still people like the guy writing, "Japan: Seven Months After the Cataclysm", who seems to think we "need" more and more, forever and ever. Of course, he's a technoutopian and thinks we'll somehow get it from the oceans (which we've already raped pretty horrifically).

I kinda think we can live with a whole lot less, and we WILL live with a whole lot less.

The current PM of Japan seems to want nuclear back in operation, but on the local level there is a LOT of resistance, much more than before.

Just like the global financial system, governments have now also turned toxic and are a threat to everyone/everything including themselves. God speed to the open source revolution now growing in the streets.

The IEA's Highlights of the latest OMR is out today.

Global oil demand is revised down by 50 kb/d for 2011 and by 210 kb/d for 2012...

Global oil supply fell by 0.3 mb/d to 88.7 mb/d in September from August, due to non-OPEC outages. Non-OPEC supply projections are trimmed by 0.3 mb/d for 4Q11 and by 0.2 mb/d for 2012, with annual growth averaging 0.2 mb/d, to 52.8 mb/d, and 0.9 mb/d to 53.6 mb/d for 2011 and 2012 respectively. OPEC NGL output averages 5.9 mb/d in 2011 and 6.3 mb/d in 2012.

That is they are projecting non-OPEC production go grow by 200,000 barrels per day this year and by 900,000 bp/d next year.

The EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook is also out today. They are predicting non-OPEC production to grow by 500,000 bp/d this year and by 840,000 bp/d next year. Of course both the EIA and IEA projections are for all liquids. They do not give crude oil projections. I suspect the lions share of any increase will be in "other liquids". It is likely that NGLs will increase by more than .2 mb/d this year, given all that new shale gas. But just looking at the data and trends, I expect non-OPEC production to be down this year by between .3 and .5 mb/d.

Ron P.

Hello smart folks.

Any truth to the rumors that the strategic reserve release a while back was purchased (by a pre-approved list of bidders) and then parked offshore (well some of it) in leased tankers?


I know the link is at a political site, but they (and others they link to) seem to be doing some homework.

(I don't know enough about the industry to know if this is news or just standard flexing on futures)

It's true there was a significant amount of oil parked offshore in 2009. However that oil was completely used up by about the end of 2009 - excluding some Iranian oil that they weren't able to sell due to sanctions. That pattern was repeated to a lesser extent in 2010.

I gave a very detailed account here of what happened to the SPR oil last summer. Indeed some of it was temporarily stored offshore. To the best of my knowledge, most if not all of that oil now has reached an onshore US destination by last month.

Storage of oil on offshore tankers was legal - the only restriction on buying the SPR oil was that it stay within the US or US waters. Generally it also has to be stored on US ships, but some exceptions were allowed this summer.

Thoughts on this "Blue Revolution" stuff? There are two links in the "Japan: 7 months after the cataclysm" article. I don't think this approach has been much discussed on TOD.

Seriously? Nothing? I can't believe nobody here is interested in this (or has this already been discussed somewhere that I missed?) You guys have the chops to break down this set of ideas for "floating plantships" far better than I can do myself:


Seems to be a significant quotient of techno-fantasy but also some not-unworkable ideas.

Geothermal energy and conservation seem like good ideas but solar power plant in space? preventing hurricanes? Grazing plant ships and marine biomass stations?
I'm not an engineer but it seems to me like there might some reality barriers on this path towards progress.

That's what I meant by "a significant quotient of techno-fantasy." But I am 100% scientist and 0% technical, so I tend to rely on good engineers for finer analyses of concepts like these.

Households to spend more on heating this winter, DOE says

U.S. households will spend more on heating this winter as prices rise for heating oil, natural gas and propane, the Energy Department said in its annual Winter Fuels Outlook.

The cost to heat a home with oil will rise 8.4 percent to $2,493 from $2,300 a year earlier, higher than any previous winter. The fuel will average $3.71 a gallon, up from $3.38 in 2010. The number of homes using the fuel will drop 3.7 percent to 6.92 million, and the amount of oil consumed will drop 1.3 percent.

The 51 percent of U.S. households that use natural gas for heating will spend an average of $744 on heat this season, a gain of $19 from last winter. The increase reflects a 3.6 percent rise in prices and a 0.9 percent drop in consumption.

The number of homes using the fuel will drop 3.7 percent to 6.92 million, and the amount of oil consumed will drop 1.3 percent.

This seems odd - perhaps they are using fuel use for an average winter this winter vs. last year's average winter. except last winter was colder than average.

H'mmm "oil consumed will drop 1.3%"


Alan, in may depend upon which homes the 3.7% that converted to something alse were. If they all had lower heating neads, the figures might make sense. I think oil heat is pretty big up in Maine, and they probably don't have natural gas to substitute. Maybe its oil heated homes in areas without too cold a climate that are converting?

There is Gas. People are constantly converting off of oil up here in Maine. (You can get free 235 gal tanks all the time, if you have a use for them..) Many Rural folks are on Propane as well. But it's still 70-80% on #2 Oil, as I hear it.

When Unitil replaces the Gas Pipelines in my streets will be my opportunity to get my two buildings switched over for a deal.. but meantime I'm working the other end of it, insulation, Alt-E inputs, etc.. so my overall demand is lower.

This time last year residential fuel oil was selling locally for 85.3-cents a litre ($3.23/US gallon) and now it's $1.06/$4.00 -- a 25 per cent increase. In effect, it can cost over $1,000.00 to fill your tank which is no joy given that Environment Canada is calling for a colder than normal winter for much of the country.


Any sign that incidents of tanks being robbed of their oil are increasing?


I haven't heard of any lately. My business partner suffered a loss a few years back at his ski chalet. He has an exterior tank and someone cut the copper line presumably to steal the oil and nearly 800 litres seeped into the ground contaminating nearby wells (they did the same thing next at the church next door). The insurance company left him high and dry, his neighbours sued, and the Department of Environment wouldn't sign-off on the work done by the company hired to clean-up the site. It cost him a small fortune and put him and his marriage under tremendous stress.

I look at oil tanks -- exterior tanks in particular -- as a ticking time bombs. I'm still kicking myself for not installing an electric boiler when I had the opportunity to do so.


The insurance company left him high and dry

Typical, that which you are required to have and is promoted as they way to go, instead of federal help, in the USA.


I don't know all the details, but from what I gather the insurance company would only pay up to the appraised value of the home which didn't even come close to the cost of clean-up. And if I have this right, his insurance company and the one for the church were each trying to pin the blame on the other for the contamination of the wells. Again, a huge financial and emotional hit which very nearly cost him his marriage.


It would have been covered by the public liability portion of the policy, usually a set sum, normally about $500,000. Excess liability insurance is fairly cheap. It has a $500K deductible, met by your primary. If the policy had a low limit, it was self imposed. You can get pretty much any limits you want. And, the first $100K is the most expensive. It gets cheaper as the limits rise (per dollar of coverage).

Just saying.


Hi Craig,

I'm not particularly knowledgeable in these matters but here are a few links that could be relevant:

Insurance coverage for home heating oil tank spills will vary depending on the insurance company. Coverage will range anywhere from “no coverage” to “full coverage.” Sometimes, coverage may apply only to neighbouring properties but not for the owners’ property. It is recommended that you contact your insurance company and discuss your policy before a spill occurs.

Source: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nse/petroleum/docs/OilTankGuide.pdf

Insurance policies often include pollution exclusion clauses, which specify that the insurer will not pay for certain pollution-related property damage. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Corbould v. BCAA Insurance Corporation, reminds us that the scope of such clauses may be difficult to interpret.

Pollution exclusion clauses once applied mainly to damages from pollution in the industrial setting, but are now often included in residential policies. One of the reasons for such clauses is to make sure that a polluter actually pays for pollution it causes. Clearly, insurance companies should not have to pay for breaches of environmental laws by their clients under general insurance policies.

Source: www.citopbroker.com/news/whats-the-scope-of-the-pollution-exclusion-clau...

If you own a fuel tank on your property you have a legal responsibility to properly maintain it and to clean up any spills or leaks that may occur. You are also responsible under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act to report any leak or spill from your tank that causes, or could cause, property damage or health, safety or environmental problems. Compensation resulting from damage to your property (or anyone else’s for that matter) as a result of an oil spill can be costly and you may not be fully covered for it under your homeowners’ insurance policy. In fact, now some Canadian insurance companies are restricting / limiting coverage or not providing coverage at all to homeowners with fuel storage tanks.

Source: http://www.cottagecountryhaliburton.com/oil_tank_failures.pdf

Note, for example, TD Insurance's coverage, conditions and exclusions.

See: http://www.tdinsurance.com/products-services/home-insurance/oil-damage/o...

Desjardins is a little better in this regard but its coverage is capped at $100,000.00.

See: http://www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com/d-on/en/insurance-products/pro...


Seems like, with rising heating oil prices, people need to read the small print VERY carefully and revise their insurance policies accordingly. Especially so if they have an older system.


Very true, NAOM. When we bought this home replacing the fuel oil tank which at that time was thirty-four years old was one of the first orders of business. I opted for a heavier gauge model with a bottom feed so that water doesn't accumulate in the lowest portions of the tank. It's slightly elevated at the opposite end and so any moisture that make its way in is effectively pushed out and through the line filter. The tank is located inside our utility room which also protects it from the elements and helps minimize the risk of condensation forming, and I believe it extends our replacement date to 2021.


Oil exploration would endanger the most biodiverse region in the western hemisphere, say scientists

An international team of scientists that includes two University of Texas at Austin researchers has found that Ecuador's Yasuní National Park, which sits on top of massive reserves of oil, is in the single most biodiverse region in the Western Hemisphere.

President Rafael Correa has said he will have to withdraw the offer and allow oil exploitation to advance in the park if Ecuador does not receive at least $100 million by December. Ecuador would ultimately like to be compensated for half of the estimated $7.2 billion the country could reap from leasing oil rights over the next 13 years.

Massive reserves = 7.2 billion dollars ???

President Rafael Correa has said he will have to withdraw the offer and allow oil exploitation to advance in the park if Ecuador does not receive at least $100 million by December.

[sour grin] in unmarked bills, left in an attache case on a freeway overpass at midnight?

but this is what it's coming down to. the biosphere and climate as hostages in money-games between high-ranking primates.


In what county in the US do folks not have to pay Social Security taxes?

Even though I live just 40 miles from Galveston I had never heard about this. About 30 years ago, when it was still legal to do so, three counties in Texas opted out of the SS system. Instead folks have taxes automatically taken from the pay checks and deposited into country controlled and PRIVATELY OWNED retirement accounts.


The article covers the plus and minus of this approach. Overall if you're middle income or better the folks in Galveston Country come out way ahead. Lots of theoretical chat about how privatizing SS would work. Here's a 30 year test run to analyze.

Two other Texas counties also opted out:


Rock - Do you honestly believe that the Stock Market or Mutual Funds have any sort of viability in the medium to long-term. Without a multi-$Trillion dollar bailout many of plans listed in the article would be holding on to worthless pieces of paper. As they always warn - past performance does not guarentee future earnings.

I knew about that (former Houston dweller and news reader).

I don't think it would scale well, so you'd have trillions in a national private fund getting raided eight ways to Sunday by your credit derivative type booms and busts.

One persistant rumor (in leftier circles) was that ol' 43 wanted to privatize SS so that big oil could start to unload private holdings (debt) into a public/private SS system, leaving ua holding the energy bag when fossils went south hard. I never put too much stock in that, but I do know the financials class would love to hedge out the trillions in the SS fund (I guess that money is really in our own bonds minus whatever IOUs we've written that are at the fed.)

My take on it at the time was that the big push for SS privatization in 2005 was to bring a whole bootyload of new, dumb money to Wall Street, boosting stock prices to new, absurd highs, and allowing the big players to cash in and cash out. Fortunately, didn't happen.

And all the real movers and shakers (you know those who are not 99%ers), want stock prices to be bid up.

And all the regular people who have had to get up and go to work everyday for the last 20 years just want to see the market and their 401k's crash?

I would say that the biggest benefit in opting out of SS 30 years ago is that surplus contributions would have been invested in real assets. The so called SS trust fund only contains IOU's from the federal government. When SS needs to start pulling money out of the trust fund, congress will have to find money in its budget to pay back the trust fund. The case for opting out of SS now (as opposed to 30 years ago) is certainly not as clear cut.

I believe that this just applies to county government workers.

Here's a 30 year test run to analyze.


We can analyze investment returns for the last 30 years all we want but people need to understand that stock market returns are a generationally cyclical phenomenon.

The 25 years from 1983 to 2008 were an excellent time to invest in the stock market. The previous 25 years (1958-1983) not so much. The 25 years before that (1933-1958), great returns if you had money to invest in 1933. The previous 25 (1908-1933) would have been a great time to avoid the stock market. (chart for long term DOW)

I'll suggest that returns during the next 25 years won't look like the last 25. Those Texas counties may look like they made a smart decision 30 years ago and I won't disagree. But I'll wager that making that same decision today will not have the same happy outcome.


Just so it's clear for folks who have run out of NYT access - according to the article it's for county government workers only - WT is right - so it's operating on a fairly small scale:

Government employees in Galveston, Brazoria and Matagorda Counties have controlled their private retirement plan for 30 years. They opted out of Social Security before Congress changed the law in 1983 to prevent others from withdrawing.

Yet another odd wrinkle is the Railroad Retirement Board.


Many of you are confusing the situation. Opting out of SS and going private doesn't require much investment risk. The alternative approach doesn't have to go into risky paper. Let's say it's all put in T bills. Historically zero risk. And if this had been done for all citizens 30 years ago today we would have $trillions of debt held by US citizens who would be collecting the interest instead of us sending it overseas. And most beneficiaries would own real assets as opposed to a stack of IOU's. And would be receiving more money.

Investing any retirement monies in risky investments is a vaild concern. But in this discussion it's a strawman argument IMHO. Look at the risk folks have realized with the SS that many didn't understand: they've lost 100% of their "investment": not one penny of their contributions exist today. What they have is a note promising that future tax payers will replace those "missing" funds. But that those future benifits may change. In fact, almost certain to be reduced.

Is there anyone here that would not have prefered every $ they've paid into SS put into an account invested in T bills that they had direct ownership of as opposed to their current status in the SS system? Monies they could passed on to their heirs or could contribute it to any charity they choose if they didn't need the income?

I'll be glad to hear any rational argument explaining how the Galveston County workers would be better off today if they had stayed in the SS system. Go ahead...make my day! LOL

Ok the Galveston County workers would have been better off today had they stayed in Social Security just because! :-) Anyway in my humble opinion the difference between social security and treasuries is like owning the IOU directly vs having it managed by someone else. Effectively they are the same system and the same IOUs because if one cannot be paid then the other certainly won't either. The difference is that you can exit the game early if you have direct control, I assume peak oilers are smart enough to know when to make that call!

Anyway here's a fun exercise. You have a group of friends and they each put in $1 more than the person before them to buy 10 identical pieces of paper. The average payment is $5.50 but everyone who holds a piece of paper 'knows' that it is worth $10 because that's what the last person paid. The total value of the paper is worth $100 and noone cares that you took $5 as your fee as the market facilitator because everyone feels rich. Even though only $55 was paid in, the total 'value' of the assets involved is $100. That ladies and gentlemen is why the stock market is a ponzi scam.

S - STRAWMAN!!!! LOL. OK, let's get back to the subject at hand. I work for Galveston County and you don't. For the last 30 years all my withholdings have going into T bills in a private account that I control. All yours have been paid out to other SS beneficiaries. This Monday we both retire. I make a lump sum withdrawal and sell my T bills and deposit $300,000 into my bank account. How much are you depositing? Oh…right…nothing. But at the end of the month you’ll get to deposit that $800 SS check into your account. And you will continue to do so…unless of course the US govt changes the rules. Or, heaven forbid, they don’t have the money.

Oh, BTW did I mention that next month you and I drive head long into each other and die. My heirs get a nice check for $300,000. And how much will SS be sending yours?

Bottom line: who would you rather be: me or you? And this isn’t hypothetical. After 30 years many of those county workers are retiring right now and cashing out. They’ve got their money. You and I don’t. But we can be assured that future SS participants will keep our money flowing to us. Say…isn’t that similar to the same thing Madoff told all his investors?

The cash out option sounds great, but those dollars aren't indexed for inflation. If there's no growth in the economy, while inflation continues, aka, stagflation, the person receiving SS payments might come out ahead, assuming there is a continued inflation adjustment applied to SS payments. Your cash out money must be invested in some way which grows faster than inflation and you must also use some of it for your living expenses. The pot might just as well fall in value faster than the earnings return and another hit like 2008 could cut the value of your investments considerably, as happened to many 401k holders. There's no easy way out...

E. Swanson

SS, isn't just a retirement plan, it also functions as a sort of social insurance. If you become disabled in certain ways, you can start receiving monthly checks. To compare the performance of an insurance-plus-retirement plan versus a pure-retirement fund isn't valid.

eos - As a Galveston County employee if I get disabled I receive disability payments for life. Plus I get to cash out my funds if I chose to. Given my job I've carried long term disability my entire career: get badly hurt and I collect 60% of my salary until retirement age. And that would be many time my SS benefits.

And not indexed to inflation? So what: I just got a check for $300,000 when I retired. You don't get squat. And the stats say you will never collect anything close to that amount: you're going to die not long after you start getting you SS check. That's the basis of SS: most folks don't eventually collect anything close to what they think they will...they die. I die and my family gets the $300,000. Basicly free life insurance. I'll take that over indexed SS payments...especially the ones I don't get after I die.

Everyone can take all the shots they want but I don't think I've heard one person say they wouldn't rather have the Galveston County plan instead of the current SS system. Given I've had a very fruitful career I might have over a $500,000 cash out. If I were on SS it would take just short of 30 years to get that much out of SS. The stat charts clearly show it's a very low probability of that happening in general, and in my paticular case, zero chance givn my multiple sclerosis. But it would very comforting to know my 12 yo daughter would get that half million. I think as it stands now ss would send her a check for $800.

Let's be clear, and honest, Rockman. You deposit your money in a bank. Bank crashes, you have zip. You go for T-Bills? Hope you got TIPS, 'cause that hyperinflation just started. My wife never worked... I die, she gets my SS check for life (starts when she reaches age for retirement, of course). Still not too bad a deal for enforced savings. You see, I am a spendthrift. Oh... you say you are too. Well, guess what? Social Security is exempt and my creditors can't touch it. Your $300 grand drops to, what, $6K in Texas?

Of course, you could buy an annuity... sort of like social security, but not as secure, and seldom has colas. Life annuity on $300K is about what I get for social security. Do it on two lives, you get less and it's a gamble... maybe you get less.

The big thing is that 80% of people do not save, and do not keep their money. If SS was available in a lump sum, they'd all be homeless in about 2 years.


Rock. My point is you don't include the payments for disability as part basis for computationing the rate of return of your retirement plan. Those functions, and payments were cleanly separated. That is not the case with SS, some of the payments go into (effectively) funding the insurance portion.
That doesn't man your system didn't do well -especially for the higher paid memebers. Its just that SS cannot be evaluated as if it were a standalong retirement system.

I'm confused. Aren't you working for a privately held oil company? How, can you do that, and also work for the county?

eos - I don't work for the county. It was a hypothetical...sorry for the confusion. Hypothetical but accurate.

Well now y'all have changed my mind. SS is a much better system than having one's own retirement plan. Now I feel really sorry for all those federal employees who have their seperate retirement plans and don't get SS. Unless, of course, they retire from the govt early and earn some SS credit before they finally retive on SS and their govt pensions. Boy, ya know thought the folks in Congress were clever but boy did they screw themselves by not being required to be in the SS system. What a bcnh of chumps.

What I can't figre out is why after 30 years not a single employee in those 3 counties have not opted out and joined the SS system as has been their option from the start. I guess just like Congress they just don't relize what a bad deal they're getting. Thanks goodness we have the federal govt oking out for our interests and we don't have to think about it.

If I was the Galveston County Courthouse janitor, I think that I would opt to join the SS system - unless I could get ten years in on other jobs (weekend, after retiring from the county, etc.).

I spent a while, in the UK, dealing with pensions. Most people do not have the slightest clue about their pension. Some are clued in but others will have a severe shock when the time comes. You should see people's faces when they think about how much they will get from their pension and you explain what they will really get. People swallow the KoolAid just like they do on never ending oil.


Disclaimer: by re-arranging my pensions I stand to get 10x on one and something on the other 2 that I would have received nothing on. This is with the same certainty of getting something at all as if I had done nothing.

Instead I live to age 98, and get my direct deposit of New$25,000# each month, enough to barely get by on - your Old$300,000 was wiped out in the Collapse of 2018. You died in a garbage bin, trying to stay out of the heat in 2023.

# Germany lost two wars, had one hyperinflation, four currencies and was divided in two - yet when the occupation ended in 1950, people that contributed silver marks under Bismark got a pension.

Best Hopes for Social Promises,


Well I wasn't really disagreeing with you! LOL. I agree with everything you wrote then and now.

One thing I've noticed is because people are optimists, they tend to think that they are the ones who will be drawing on SS for 30+ years and living to the ripe old age of 100 without ever worrying that SS would run out of money. This is one irrational reason why people like SS over direct savings.

People tend to assume the best for institutional retirement and assume the worst if there is a finite supply of money to be used until they die since they are optimistic about their lifespan and pessimistic about a known finite supply of money. The reality is that both the SS and money in the bank are finite, it's just that you don't know when you'll hit peak SS.

With that money in your hand Rocky VII, you can box you way through retirement with solar on your roof, low maintenance electric car, grow your own vegetables and with other diversified investments like property and dividend producing stocks. But the clincher, can you work after you start receiving SS? You certainly can with bulk funding. So old Rocky VII, the geologist can still consult for the oil industry from time to time to tell the younguns than back in his day, 'the oil used to be so abundant kids, the stuff seemed to just shoot up out of the ground and for an old man with a crane it'd have been too dangerous to walk over an oil field because he could trigger a gusher with the point of his cane'.


And is SS really safe when certain political factors promote the pulling back of such liberal follies?


The lowest paid workers would be better off with SS, and likely the disabled workers as well (I am unsure of what provisions are made for disability in the private system).

Benefits in SS are calculated on a 3 step program, based on contributions - lowest step gives a barely livable amount (like $750/month) for 30 years of minimum wage contributions. High benefits to contribution ratio.

Second step (like $750 to $1,100/month) has a medium ratio of benefits to contributions. Basically a lifetime of working for about twice minimum wage (from memory).

Third step has much lower ratio but benefits go up from there.

And Medicare for all, regardless of $ contributed.

It has been decades since I researched this.

Best Hopes for Retirement,


Australia's carbon tax vs coal exports.

The carbon tax legislation passed in the House of Reps yesterday but we see the coal industry is hoping floods won't spoil the carbon export party. CO2 equivalent emissions from coal, oil, gas, methane and deforestation are under 600 Mt a year supposedly aiming to cut 160 Mt by 2020. Yet CO2 from exported coal is over 700 Mt and increasing. The LNG export industry is increasing as well. So what's the point of the domestic carbon tax?

Barring recession there's no way paying 2-3c more per kwh of electricity will produce such large CO2 cuts at home, particularly if there is a compensating income tax cut. The plan is to pay a tropical country to conserve its forest when the target is not met, but that's not a global increase in CO2 absorption, therefore a delusion. To me the answer seems to be to levy the carbon tax on exported coal and LNG, adding about $60 per tonne of thermal coal and $70 per tonne of LNG. Since carbon tax is supposed to be revenue neutral the importing country can ask for a refund to be paid into green programs.

If Australia was serious about global CO2 cuts it would cap coal and LNG exports. It's not and is therefore a hypocrite. The analogy is selling alcohol to minors; the seller has to take some responsibility for the use of a harmful product.

Like the other 99.99 percent of Australians, I don't understand the carbon tax. But I also know I don't need to. Of course it's going to be a hypocritical tax. Just politians playing at pretending to do something about CO2 emissions and global warming, when we all know the Australian government cannot and will not do anything to significantly damage exports. Even if they actually did try, they would simply be voted out next election (probably gonna happen anyway).

What a waste of (human) energy this whole carbon tax fiasco has been.

The assumption at this point is it will help somewhat. Austrailia burns a lot of brown coal, which is assumed will be phased out because of the carbon tax. Its claimed, brown coal isn't worth exporting. So (if this is true), at least one class/deposit of fossil fuels will be left in the ground.
Also higher prices for electricity (or heat, or whatever), should mean solar/wind/conservation look more attractive.

With both brown coal and wind the carbon tax probably needs to be more like $40, not $23. The problem is that brown coal is as cheap as dirt at $6/t. A megawatt hour of electricity from one of the brown coal stations is said to produce 1.4t of CO2 so 1.4 X $23 = $32.20 or 3.2c per kwh carbon tax on electricity bills. Nukes are forbidden in Australia so the baseload alternative to brown coal in the State of Victoria is natural gas at $7 for a gigajoule heating value. Maybe fracking will produce more gas but it works out that combined cycle gas with less carbon tax but higher fuel cost will be far more expensive. The Federal government has billions set aside to convert from brown coal to gas but apparently nobody wants the money.

The architects of the carbon tax scheme said that renewables subsidies and targets should be dropped the day carbon tax starts. Not so, commercial wind and solar are still on a 20% target with Renewable Energy Certificates worth about 3.9c per kwh. Therefore they get a double advantage in that coal generated electricity is penalised then they get a subsidy as well. The whole plan looks better on paper than reality.

You should check out the stupid C tax in BC. Tax carbon...then to appease outcry, return in tax break so the richest receive portionally more money out of the commuters pocket, school districts, hospitals, or the truckers, fuel oil users.... Ouch.


BC's even more retarded than that. Government departments, including already underfunded public school districts, are required by law to pay money (like hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time) into carbon offsets. These offsets are mostly private industry projects to replace aging smokestacks, etc. You can't even make this stuff up.

Also higher prices for electricity (or heat, or whatever), should mean solar/wind/conservation look more attractive.

Higher prices for electricity caused by a new tax virtually no one wants. The only change that's gonna bring on is a change of government. Using taxation alone to bring on social change is a flawed idea at best - seems to be a habbit of Australian governments of late (on both sides BTW). Anyway, as I said before, and as Boof mentioned, they have carefully priced carbon so as not to cause any real change, even in Victoria's use of disgusting brown coal.

API reports further declines in oil inventories:

Crude Oil down 3.8 million barrels
Gasoline down 1.2 million barrels
Distillates down 3.1 million barrels

Why US Oil Inventories Will Keep Falling, After the SPR Oil of Summer is Gone

Bucking normal seasonal trends, the decline in US oil inventories that began in late May continued unabated last week – per the API. The fall in inventories was only temporarily alleviated in August by the release of 30 million barrels of oil from the SPR. Normally as summer driving and harvest seasons end, supplies are rebuilt in preparation for winter heating demands.

Oct. 12, 2011, 4:56 p.m. EDT
API reports steep decline in weekly oil supplies

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The American Petroleum Institute reported late Wednesday inventories of crude oil declined 3.8 million barrels the week ended Oct. 7. Supplies of gasoline declined 1.2 million barrels in the week, while stockpiles of distillates declined 3.1 million barrels. The trade group report comes ahead of a more closely watched report from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. Analysts polled by Platts expect the EIA to report a decline of 300,000 barrels, gasoline stockpiles up 100,000 barrels, and stocks of distillates down 600,000 barrels. The EIA report is due Thursday at 11 a.m. Eastern, a day later than usual due to the Columbus Day holiday.


A steep drop in oil imports, and to a lesser extent an increase in oil product exports, is mostly to blame for the relentless fall. The net export figure, including all imports and exports of both oil and products, is now running for the year to date about 1 million barrels a day less than last year. Had US oil demand not fallen somewhere about 3% this year, this fact would have been much more noticeable.

But what is behind the fall in net imports? While the US imported only a small amount of oil from Libya prior to its revolution, the effect on the US is mostly the same as if US was the only importer of Libyan oil. Why? Because other countries have outbid the US to obtain replacement their lost Libyan oil by taking away supplies normally sent to the US. In particular, China has been very aggressive about not only maintaining its imports levels, but increasing them.

China books 48 VLCCs from Middle East in Sep 2011 - report
Oct 10, 2011

(SeeNews) – Oct 10, 2011 – China booked 48 Middle East very large crude carriers (VLCCs) in the spot market last month, a record figure, as refiners in the country have ramped up oil production, Reuters reported, citing data from Tokyo-headquartered broker Meiwa International.

The number of booked VLCCs in September was higher by eight vessels than in August, the figures showed. Two factors combined to produce the result – the rising crude oil output at Chinese refineries and weaker freight rates, which have prompted refiners in Asia to turn to the sport market rather than clinch long-term contracts with ship owners. China also fixed seven VLCCs from West Africa, bringing the number of its total supertanker bookings in September to 55, the highest reading for the year so far.

10/11/11 Reuters News 03:12:23


But why is the US being outbid? Oil released from the SPR had the effect of reducing the price of US oil relative to other countries. But there is a deeper, unexplained problem after the SPR oil of summer is gone: Why is the price of West Texas Intermediate less than other world grades? Up until this year, the price of WTI was very close to similar grades of oil elsewhere in the world.

The low price of WTI either reflects an unwillingness of oil companies to replenish reserves, or perhaps, the futures market is – gasp – being manipulated lower somehow.

But even if you don’t believe price manipulation is possible, while the price of WTI remains well below world market levels, the US will continue to be outbid – and US oil inventories will continue to dwindle away.


As always, thanks for your comments and posts. Always educational.

We've watched this coming in slow motion over the past year with pinpoint accuracy it seems. As we have previously discussed, the offloading of floating storage in 2010 has hardly made a blip in world inventories. Cushing is lower year on year. The world has been using more oil than it produces for the past year at least. Masked by this one time transfer of oil ashore and further masked by the release of oil from the SPR, this has largely gone unreported in the MSM.

Hope someone starts talking soon.

T - I think the SPR release has a perfect analogy with a terminal patient on a morphine drip. The pain shows up and you self medicate (release oil). But there's a regulator limiting the drip (laws limiting SPR release). So the process repeats but at every faster intervals. Eventually the pain is so great you're continually popping that button (releasing oil as fast as the law allows). But eventually the pain (oil shortage) can't be abated. And when the drip runs dry (no oil left in the SPR) the really bad pain shows up and you have no relief at all available to you.

Of course, the whole time you've been waiting for a miracle to save you from what everyone else has been saying what was inevitable. And when the miracle doesn't arrive in time: you die in great agony.

Well put, this is actually what I think will happen in the US - mostly in an attempt to shield the US from rising oil prices.

Keep in mind that the US had only about 300 million barrels of high quality oil in the SPR and used up about 10% of that already. The rest (about 400 million barrels or so) is mostly medium quality but can not readily be used by all refiners. So it will be interesting to see if we in the US keep going for the 'good' morphine next time - since we are already so 'addicted' on the 'strong' stuff.

Of course, the whole time you've been waiting for a miracle to save you from what everyone else has been saying what was inevitable. And when the miracle doesn't arrive in time: you die in great agony.

BUT, for the decision makers that are currently our world leaders, their analogy is those that get to die peacefully sedated full of morphine/FF, as the worst of scarcity of Peak Oil will be after they are all deceased : |

flash - Exactly. I can make an even more cynical comparison of our politicians and hospice doctors. Most hospice workers I've delt with are compassionate folks. But at the end of the day they strive to keep their paycheck coming in by providing the patients with what they want...freedom from pain. The politicians provide their "patients" with an illusion of a painless cure. Doesn't matter if the illusion is false as long as they can perpetuate it for as long as they want to hold office. After that it doesn't matter if the "patient" dies (PO hits): they're out of the game by then.

"I think the SPR release has a perfect analogy with a terminal patient on a morphine drip. "

This is a priceless statement, thanks!

...US oil inventories will continue to dwindle away.

As always, very informative.

Do you suspect the drawdown in inventories has, and continues occuring, in a desperate effort (by DC - Obama) to keep this tepid economy moving forward, with the hopeful projection it would start to grow enough to warrant replenishing inventories?

And if that jolt of growth does not occur, then as oil inventories hit a depletion wall, does oil price rise sharply as supply struggles to keep up with demand?

Or does DC double down and draw more from the SPR?

Thanks all.

Yes I do think the policy is motivated mostly by an effort to keep oil prices down within the US. To some extent, it has been successful - although generally US consumers end up paying the Brent oil price for their gasoline anyway. Having a smooth running economy even with somewhat higher prices is better than having one with potential gasoline and diesel shortages disrupting the economy.

Also - Yes we are going to double down and go for the SPR oil. I don't expect much difference in policy no matter who is president next term.

The curious thing is that excluding rapidly increasing product exports, US oil demand is down more than 3% from last year (in the latest four week period). That signifies a slow growing or even stagnate economy. Still inventories are falling. One only can guess what would happen if the US economy showed stronger relative growth.

But since the US has about 270 million barrels of high quality oil left in the SPR, Washington can avoid hitting the depletion 'wall' for many months more. US oil inventories - including commercial plus the SPR - are down 92 million barrels from one year ago. A very bad trend, but not bad enough to drive the US into supply shortages soon if the SPR is used.

Looking at the 4 week average for products supplied, one sees that US product demand has decreased only 0.5% compared with last year. Crude oil to refineries went up from 14,446 to 15,032 compared to last year, an increase of 4%. Where in the EIA data do you find support for your claim that US oil demand has declined 3% from last year? Are you thinking that the change in net product imports from positive 0.279 mbbl/d to negative 0.455 mbbl/d for a change of -0.724 mbbl/d is a difference in US demand?

E. Swanson

Good question and yes that is one way I am looking at that. I am not entirely sure if the excluding product exports is even a good way to look at this, just an alternative way. After all, the US is responsible for getting enough oil to keep refiners running at basically the same level as last year, and we in the US are to an some extent using up our strategic reserves for other countries.

What I define as Available Net Exports (ANE, or Global Net Exports* less Chindia's combined net imports) fell at an average rate of one mbpd per year from 2005 to 2010, from about 40 mbpd in 2005 to about 35 mbpd in 2010.

The 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in top 33 net oil exporters' consumption was 2.7%/year. The 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in the Chindia region's combined net oil imports was 7.5%/year. If we assume no decline in production by the top 33 exporters and if extrapolate the 2.7%/year top 33 consumption number and if we extrapolate Chindia's current rate of increase in net imports, then in 2020, ANE would be down to about 21 mbpd, versus about 40 mbpd in 2005.

So, if we extrapolate 2005 to 2010 trends out to 2020, for every two barrels of oil that non-Chindia importers (net) imported in 2005, they would have to make do with one barrel in 2020.

Incidentally, US net oil imports increased at 11%/year from 1949 to 1970, when US production peaked. From 1970 to 1977, US net oil imports increased at 15%/year (EIA). In 1978, North Slope production from Alaska really started to kick in (crossing over one mbpd for the first time), reducing net imports, and consumption started to fall in 1979, further reducing net imports.

*Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP data base + minor EIA data

I minor point to note is that when net exporters pass peak and decline to zero net exports, they don't suddenly disappear, they become net importers. And given that they have had (oil) energy independence for some time, they can be relatively flush (less in debt) compared to long term oil importers.

The UK is a now a net importer. We are almost broke, but not quite as broke as large parts of Europe. We have cut our oil consumption like most OECD countries, yet we are a net and growing importer of oil. We are in our own small way subtracting from the ANE oil for the established list of oil importers.

Rates of change (2005 to 2010) in net oil exports for top 33 net oil exporters in 2005 (BP + minor EIA data):

21 of the 33 showed net export declines n 2010, relative to 2005, and the "Decliners" overwhelmed the 12 that showed higher net exports, resulting in a net decline of about three mbpd from 2005 to 2010.

This is an article I was trying to write to explain peak energy and it's implications in a simple and straight forward way, comments please!

I want you to blink your eyes. Now think about the computer you're looking at and think about all the modern appliances in your house. All of these things took very little time to develop, a blink of your eyes compared to the whole of human history. Everything you take for granted is only possible with fossil fuels and without them they'd be gone in less than the blink of an eye once more.

It doesn't take long for a lawn to become overgrown, a garden choked with weeds or even a house to become dusty. The order in your own life is fragile and it must be continually renewed by your own efforts. The same can be said for the order outside when you think of the entire world. The only difference is that the energy used to keep your own house in order comes from you and the energy used to keep the world in order is fossil fuels.
Would you say to anyone that the vacuum you use is going to last forever and that you'll never buy another? You wouldn't because everyone knows a vacuum cleaner won't last forever. Fossil fuels are like a vacuum cleaner, they won't last forever and getting the last drips and drabs of service out of it is just as much a pain in the butt as trying to vacuum without much suction.

Fossil fuels are like vacuum cleaners, you probably can't imagine life without them both. They also don't have a lot of good alternatives. There are products which claim to do as good a job as fossil fuels and vacuums but they don't really come close to replacing the real thing. You won't do yourself lasting harm with vacuum cleaners and the world isn't likely to run out of them, unfortunately the same cannot be said about fossil fuels.

The Roman empire as it expanded continually brought in new slaves from their conquest to do their work. When their empire finally ran out of good targets for conquest the number of slaves they had started to decline. To compensate for the loss of slaves they started to repress their population in order to maintain their wealth. Fossil fuels are like having a gang of slaves to yourself, however we too are running out of easy targets for conquest over oil as well.

Rome at it's peak had 500,000 souls living there. After the fall of the Roman empire, Rome was no more than a provincial capital with 30,000 souls living there. They fell because Rome first relied on slaves and then they ran out, they then relied on repressing the outer provinces until they could not keep squeezing blood from that stone and the outer pronvinces rose up in rebellion. Finally Rome's wealth declined and at the population was too large to be supported with such a loss of wealth from the provinces so the four horsemen rode in and finished them off. War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.

The lesson of Rome is that once the decline in a system has become so noticeable that it cannot be ignored, it is usually too late to do anything to stop the decline. The first symptom of decline is running out of good places to find resources (slaves). The second sympton is the repression of the people. The third symptom is the decline of infrastructure which can no longer be repaired. The chances are if you are reading this, the decline of the human system will take an incalcuable toll on you, it may even kill you.
We cannot wait for the decline of fossil fuels or the pollution from them to catch up to us. Without fossil fuels we don't have any way to produce any new forms of energy, we need energy to make energy so we can't wait until we don't have enough energy to try to make some more. Which four horsemen do you prefer? War, Famine, Pestilence and Death or Wind, Solar, Biomass and Nuclear? Back the horses you want now and forever hold your peace. Without fossil energy or substitute this world is optimistically only overpopulated by 5 Billion people, chances are you're one of the 5 billion.

Our headline-driven society has no patience for long explanations

You need to break up your opening paragraph into smaller teaching moments.

Get rid of all words that the message can do without.

Example: "Blink your eyes." as opposed to "I want you to ..."
See? That's 4 less words that the I-don't-like-to-read audience has to muddle through.

Plus, any direct statement like "blink your eyes" is more active and compelling.

I like the conversational tone of the piece. Do you read aloud? - helps to pick out any glitches and draggy spots.


Never use one word when ten will do. Um, have I got that right?



Thanks to all who read and replied to my little piece. I have never written for public consumption before and I haven't been trained in the art of writing so i'll take any pointers I can get. It was only a draft but I wanted to share it before I ruminated and diluted the message I was trying to share. I'll have a go at cleaning it up a little bit.

The goal of the piece was to share the idea of peak oil to people whom weren't intellectual and aren't people who would spend their life in intellectual pursuits. I figured the biggest test of writing was in attempting to take a relatively complicated subject and share it in a way that is both readable and understandable without diluting my message.

Blink your eyes. Think about the computer you're looking at, think about all the modern appliances in your house. How long did they take to develop? A few decades?. A blink of your eyes compared to the whole of human history. Everything you take for granted is only possible with fossil fuels and without them they'd be gone in less than the blink of an eye once more.

Just some thoughts. Needs a link between the penultimate and ultimate sentences. Others are welcome to tear into my ideas but only if they provide constructive ideas of their own;)

Why not open source these ideas? Build a strong message with the strength of others. To counter the rose tinted cornucopianism spread by agencies dedicated to spreading BAU people need to get together to spread a clear and consistent message. A message that there needs to be a change. A big change.


Blink your eyes. Think about the computer you're looking at, think about all the modern appliances in your house. How long did they take to develop? A few decades?. A blink of your eyes compared to the whole of human history. Everything you take for granted is only possible with fossil fuels and without them they'd be gone in less than the blink of an eye once more.

Thanks so much. That sounds really good, I think I can tighten everything up in a similar fashion. I have trouble because I can't write for more than a couple of minutes at a time so even writing something which flows in the same direction for 5 paragraphs is a challenge for me.

I am open to any ideas or additions. I don't mind collaborating at all. I never intended to just read TOD for too long because I always intended to do something with the knowledge I gained here, else all that is said here is mainly idle chatter. This place is too good for me to not take what I have learnt to apply it on the real world.

Blink your eyes.

In that instant, imagine oil is no more.

As your lids crack open you realize your computer is gone. It was made from oil.
Your chair is gone too. Its plastic components were made of oil byproducts as well. Outside on the driveway, the metal skeleton of your car sits lifeless. There is no more life blood of civilization to fuel its Marathon run down to the local mall. But that is OK because the asphalt road that used to connect your home to the outside world is gone too. Yup, made from oil.

In geological terms, 150 years is like a blink of time's eye. In that 150 years, man has learned to drill into the crust and deplete all the easy pools of that black gold. Now ... we race to the Arctic Circle in desperate hope to find more. What happened and what does it say of our future?

That sounds very good, thanks. I'll try to incorporate it in part 3 when I try to merge all of the good ideas into the single (hopefully readable) piece of writing.

Awesome stuff. I am very appreciative to all who have given feedback and will give feedback.

I have a regular column in our local paper. What I do is continually read through the column I'm working on until everything flows well. Even if I read it and I only have to change a comma, I change the comma and then force myself to read through it again...and again and again...until that time when absolutely no more changes seem called for.


Maybe I should approach all writing as if it needs to be profession quality as if it is going to be published? I think I should definitely re-read my work more like you said. Overall if I lift my standard then my overall writing ought to improve.

Thanks for the advice!

P.S. Nice moustache! My father had one just like it. I hated it when he got rid of it!

From George Orwell:

1. Don't use cliches: "tow the line", "when the chips are down", etc.

2. Don't use a big word when a small one will do. It makes you look pompous and reduces your writing's impact. Put another way, use more Germanic and less Romance.

3. Cut unnecessary words. "It is my opinion that...", "I said all that to come to this...", "In conclusion, my conclusion is...". That can work in speech, but it rarely works in writing. An English teacher of mine called them "throat-clearing words."

4. Never use the passive voice when you can use the active. "The boy was bit by the dog" is not as good as "The dog bit the boy."

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a technical word, or jargon, if a regular English word will do. There is no regular English equivalent for savoir-faire, but there is for esprit de corps. Use "morale".

6. Break any of these rules instead of saying something "barbarous". This one is open to interpretation.

My own additions, gleefully stolen from other, better writers:

1. Say what you're going to say, say it, then say what you just said. Take care to rephrase it a little differently each time.

2. Write incessantly. Practice makes perfect.

3. Read good writing every day. You will write like you read.

4. Write about what you care about. Passion filtered through writing skill is power.

5. Sarcasm should be spoken, not written. Sarcasm is saying a sincere thing with an insincere tone of voice.

If you are writing for government consumption; invert all these rules. Your aim is to hide, not explain - to gain action without the consequences of that action being understood.

Think of it from your audiences point of view. You are publishing it to them.

Try re-reading it as though you're reading out loud to someone. If it doesn't scan well or feels disjointed, then time for some re-work.

Good luck with it.



Thanks for sharing this with us. It's very hard stuff to write.. I've been trying, too, and still haven't landed on an angle to come at it from that I feel will connect with many people.

The one thought that occurred to me as I read yours was tied to how I had to figure out how to quit drinking Soda and other Sugary stuff. I couldn't approach it by thinking about what I was moving AWAY from, but what I was going TOWARDS instead. I had to replace that unhealthy habit with something healthy where it had been.

It might be helpful in writing the next revision of this to think about that cartoon set at a climate change conference, where the guy in the back exclaims,

"What if it's all a big hoax and we build a better world for NOTHING!?"

- What might be some of the things in such a better world that people could set their sights on, put their efforts into? Otherwise, as we go on about the devastation and problems around the current system, it develops into a 'Think of anything EXCEPT a pink elephant!' kind of challenge. (Where the Pink Elephant is Fossil Fuels, Overconsumption, etc..)


I think I have enough feedback to go back and try for round 2. I think this was the final piece of information I needed before I made my second assault at the challenge of communicating peak oil.



Round two!! I took in as much as I could from the advice given so please more feedback!!!

Blink your eyes. Think about the computer you're looking at, think about all the modern appliances in your house. How long did they take to develop? A few decades?. A blink of your eyes compared to the whole of human history. Everything you take for granted is only possible with fossil fuels and without them they'd be gone in less than the blink of an eye once more.

You are a living organism. You eat food, breath oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. The world outside is also like a living organism. It eats fossil fuels, breaths oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide and makes possible your very existance. The difference is that you rely on food continually grown from plants and animals and the world relies on single use fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels don't care whether you burn them by aimlessly driving or to produce ventilators which help asthmatics to breathe as much as your bank account doesn't care whether you spent this weeks pay on groceries or the latest iPod. You ought to care however, the latest ipod doesn't seem as great if you spend the next week eating ramen noodles and leftovers.

Imagine you are given a trust fund, a one time gift of 1,000,000.00 dollars. This is your endowment and once it is gone its gone. You have two main choices with the money, spend it, or save it at 5% interest. You ought to know that if you keep it all you'll get $50,000 per year but if you spend half of it you get $25,000 per year and if you spend it all not only do you not get any more interest on the money but none of the original quantity is left to spend either.

Now here's the good news. You do have a trust fund and it isn't worth $1,000,000.00. It is worth so much that it would be stupid to write than many 0s. The bad news is that you share it with other people and what they do with their part of the trust fund effects you. It isn't enough to just be a good steward of your part of the fund when everyone else can take their share and more if they want to.

Some time in the not too distant future fossil fuels are going to run low, the system which provides you with all the necessities of life, your trust fund is going to run out. With so many hands reaching for the endowment it will be impossible to slow down or conserve the trust fund because someone else will always take that your share if you don't take it yourself. The news isn't all bad, remember how I said you can save your money and reap interest? Renewable energy is the bank where you store the fruits of that fossil fuel energy and reap your rewards for years to come.

Smug self satisfaction melts in the face of reality. It doesn't matter if you drive a Prius, every time you spend money you spend fossil fuels, the lifeblood of the world you live in. The only thing which matters is spending that money on renewable energy and telling your friends and family to do the same because everything else is just water under the bridge in the end. Savings and the interest from the savings is the only sustainable way forward for anyone given a trust fund, else blink your eyes and everything you see is gone.


You have already received great feedback on writing well. My only addition is to consider getting a copy of the book "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser. It is an old classic. It is a joy to read because it is written so well - and you can learn to write better just by reading it. Many of the suggestions you have received are in the book.

When I decided 15 years ago that I wanted to improve my writing that book was recommended to me and I still keep it on my desk. Zinsser taught writing at Yale. He also has a book called "Writing to Learn" in which he demonstrates how the act of writing on any subject can be used to increase your learning.

Good luck.


Time to keep writing.

I want to write a piece on convincing other people about peak oil and hopefully post it here.

Transcendence With A Cause...

Compare and contrast the present with the past:

Rebels With A Cause

It is stongly recommended that this film be both viewed in its entirety and circulated widely, as it ostensibly paints stark parallels and a potential picture of a future of little change, if the same track and tack are maintained. The SDS and Weather Underground, despite their best efforts still "appealed" or oriented themselves toward the state.

It seems less a question of violence or lack thereof, but one of literally walking away from a broken system and creating a completely new one with the lessons learned.

I believe this is key.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it"
~ Georgle Santayana

"Lastly, Gandhi developed the concept of nonviolent revolution, to be seen not as a programme for the seizure of power, but as a programme for transforming relationships. The concept sits neatly with the observation of... Gustav Landauer: 'The state is a condition, a certain relationship between beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.'
In its first decade several themes, theories, actions... began to come to the fore and were given intellectual expression by... Paul Goodman: ...the rediscovery of community, community action, radical decentralism, [relocalized resilience/permaculture] participatory democracy, the organisation of the poor and oppressed inter-racially, and the building of counter-culture and counter-institutions (such as new co-ops, collectives and communes [re-villagization/local currencies/Transition Towns])."
~ Geoffrey Ostergaard, Resisting The Nation State [my edits in square brackets]

The state has moved into many new areas as they become significant, such as... promoting nuclear power. This expanding role of the state helps prevent the rise of any significant competing forms of social organisation...

The obvious point is that most social activists look constantly to the state for solutions to social problems. This point bears labouring, because the orientation of most social action groups tends to reinforce state power. This applies to most antiwar action too. Many of the goals and methods of peace movements have been oriented around action by the state, such as appealing to state elites and advocating neutralism and unilateralism. Indeed, peace movements spend a lot of effort debating which demand to make on the state: nuclear freeze, unilateral or multilateral disarmament, nuclear-free zones, or removal of military bases. By appealing to the state, activists indirectly strengthen the roots of many social problems, the problem of war in particular...

Many people's thinking is permeated by state perspectives. One manifestation of this is the unstated identification of states or governments with the people in a country which is embodied in the words 'we' or 'us.' 'We must negotiate sound disarmament treaties.' 'We must renounce first use of nuclear weapons.' Those who make such statements implicitly identify with the state or government in question. It is important to avoid this identification, and to carefully distinguish states from people..."
~ Brian Martin, 'Uprooting War'

Protesting, and in full view of police/gov't and industry seems a bit like lining oneself up like a mechanical duck at an old fair's shooting gallery... while the shooters get more practice and better at hitting their targets.

According to him, the dystopia of the Wachowski Brothers' Matrix trilogy is already here: the technological-industrial 'machine' is already running the world, a world where individual humans are but insignificant little cogs with barely any autonomy. No single human being - neither the most powerful politician, nor the most powerful businessman - has the power to rein in the system. They necessarily have to follow the inexorable logic of what has been unleashed.
~ G Sampath on John Zerzan

I think it is time-- en masse-- to take the red pill, unplug, walk away and starve the machine.

Thoughts on NG

Much has been written on TOD about the economics of natural gas production with special thanks to Art Berman's excellent pieces and Rockman's insightful comments. And a lot of the focus has been on the break-even cost of producing NG since that is obviously a key determinant on whether drilling expands or contracts. I've read that the all-in cost of producing NG is around $5/MMBtu for conventional vertical wells and around $3.50 for horizontal wells. On an operating cost basis, the respective costs are about $3.50 and $2.00 per MMBtu.

So, at current prices around $3.50/MMBtu, NG is still either profitable or near break-even on an operating cost basis but losing money on an all-in basis. So, I would expect to see new investment in drilling dry up. But the Baker-Hughes NG rig count has held steady all year in the high 800s and just recently jumped to 935. How could that be? I can think of only a couple of reasons and I don't know which one is right:

1. Geographical: The new wells are in areas with particularly low capital investment requirements and/or operating costs so the company still makes a profit on the full investment even with today's low prices.

2. Market Timing: The wells are not profitable now but the companies expect higher NG prices in the near future.

3. Liquids Content: Even though the wells are designated as NG wells, they produce enough liquids to make up for the loss on the NG produced.

4. Irrationality: Companies have investors throwing money at them despite the economics.

I'm not sure if there is any one reason, but I find it confusing for sure. And the fact that the rig count continues to grow just adds to my confusion. After all, in 2008/2009 we saw the number of rigs crash on low prices, but now they have continued to slowly come back despite continuing low prices. How long can this go on?

King – You have some good insights but allow m to polish them up some. That may help explain what you’re seeing as not being logical.

Most important of all, don’t take any “average” numbers to be very important with regards to what we’re doing in the oil patch. It’s like the old joke: stick one hand in liquid nitrogen and the other in a pot of boiling water. So are you comfortable because the average temperature is close to 98.6 degrees? I just drilled a well that discovered 14 bcf of net NG to our interest and total cost is $10 million. So my development cost is $0.71/mcf…a very good day. Two months ago I had to junk a well due to a mechanical failure. Well cost $12 million. NG developed: zero. Development cost: zero/$12 million. Not a very good day. LOL

You could take the average of those two wells or all the wells we’ve drilled since we started 3 years and come up with an overall average. But other than a measure of how well we do out thing…so what? We don’t decide to drill a well based upon our average finding costs…we base it on expectations of what that well COULD do. The average finding costs does determine if we get fired or not. LOL. If our estimate says it will cost as much to develop as that NG is worth then we obviously don’t drill. If the numbers say it will cost us $0.50/mcf then we will…if the risk is appropriate. And we’re often correct…but not always. Yes…I know it will come as a shock to many but Rockman does occasionally drill a dry hole. LOL. BTW: the cost to produce most NG is relatively low, especially compared to a pumping oil well with a lot of water also coming up. Many of my NG wells cost less than $0.30/mcf to produce.

Now let’s make it more complicated. Rockman doesn’t drill the shale gas plays. Their finding costs, compared to our conventional NG wells, just aren’t good enough. So why are so many companies drilling them like crazy? Easy answer: pay attention to who the big players are. It’s almost only the public companies. They will drill wells that have a much lower ROI then we will because they have no choice. Wall Street’s primary valuation of public oil companies isn’t their profitability (a very difficult number to calculate) but how well they are replacing reserves y-o-y. That’s a very easy number to find: third party audits are supplied to the SEC very year. So a public SG player can make more ROI on their increase in stock value than profit on the production. A couple of month ago one SG public company was acquired for $12 BILLION. Their production wasn’t worth anything close to that. They were bought for their huge undrilled acreage position by another public company that was desperate for new locations to drill. To date much more money has been made by folks selling SG acreage than made from the production.

How crazy can this Wall Street pressure get? About 15 years ago I drilled 4 horizontal wells in an offshore field. These wells did not add $1 worth of new reserves to this small public company. They accelerated recovery of existing proven reserves that were already producing. But it increased company production from 10 million cu ft/day to 50 million cu ft/day. In realty the company lost money: the wells cost us $18 million but added no additional income. But who cares: Wall Street bumped our stock from $0.75/share to over $3.50 a share. Made us look good we became the victim of a hostile stock take over. And about 3 years later the “winner” filed bankruptcy and the company disappeared. As they say: a fool and his money….

And the dynamics of the SG play explains exactly why the rig count is so high: the SG reservoir deplete so fast (and thus have relatively low URR) that the public companies have to drill more wells even faster to keep the reserve base from declining let alone not increasing. It will take many years to estimate how much or little profit a SG player has made. But if you're were one of the shareholders who got a piece of that $12 billion you couldn’t care less if your former company goes under let alone is profitable. And that’s exactly how this game is played and has been almost from the start of the oil patch in the US 100 years ago.

Did everyone get my unasked for advice? Here it is more dirctly: don't every invest in the oil patch unless you understand exactly how the game is played. And never invest directly in an actual drilling project. I never have and never will. It's not just an investment..it's a partnership in which you have almost no say and can't liquidate very easily.

The average finding costs does determine if we get fired or not.

Isn't that T*H*E most important metric of all ?

Best Hopes for Your Gainful Employment - at Lucrative Rates !


Alan - Indeed. And that's all the satisfaction I get after 36 years except for a false fantasy that my little efforts are preventing some of our swapping blood for oil. As I tried to explain to Nick the other day: I feel no sense of responsibility for the situation this country has gotten itself into re: energy or any obligation to help them out of the situation. I eventually cut off all my siblings because of their foolish and self destructive practices they refused to change no matter how much I tried to help them. And it ain't tough love...I just don't give cr*p anymore. It's along the lines of what I taught young geologists years ago: don't take responsibility for anything unless you get the authority to act on that responsibility. That's a fool's game and there are countless folks in the world who will readily try that ploy on you. All the "responsibility" and good intentions are worthless if you can't affect the outcome.

I know you understand that well Alan. You diligently bang you head against that wall on an almost daily basis I suspect. I don't have your patience or strength...I gave up years ago. And that doesn't bother me in the least. LOL.

I have made a peculiar choice, and I have (I think) made it without illusions.

I know my odds are low (I gave myself 2% to 3% odds of any meaningful impact when I started, now 15% to 20% - down 10% from last week in a sudden reverse :-(

I know that all I will do, AT BEST, is make a bad situation just a little bit better.

There will likely be nothing in it "for me".

So be it.

I have made my choice.

Many young Marines and soldiers gave far more for far less potential impact.

Best Hopes for Those that Try :-)


I have read that having a purpose in life is correlated with longer lifespan and better health so there might be something in it for you even if you don't get $$$

And hey -a 15% chance of making a positive impact is way better than the guy decides that his purpose in life is collecting coke memorabilia etc

It appears that most people seek happiness - often vainly in material things. Many others seek contentment.

I seek a rarer and more valuable (IMHO) goal - fulfillment.

I think that even if I fail - as I must in my highest goals - I will be fulfilled in having done my dead level best in trying to avert it.

And I am creating a meme - with impacts I do not yet know.

Best Hopes for a Life Well Lived !


Wow Rock, you just explained in a few words why I continue to find the PO issue endlessly fascinating (as well as other intellectual hobby horses of mine), yet can't be bothered to lift a finger to change any of the outcomes. I know that a small dedicated group of individuals can change the world. I just don't care that much. I haven't given up on family members yet, but they aren't foolishly self destructive. Dang, that must have been a burden.

Oh well, what can you do? C'est la vie!

wet - I didn't mind the burden...it was a "birth right. LOL. But eventually you slip from assisting to enabling. I hung in for years after I gave up on the adults because of all my nephews and neices. Eventually you have to stop that generational transfer. I had only moderate success keeping one out of jail and a couple in school. Unfortunately long before they reach 18 yo they start taking control of their own lives. The short amount of time I could spend with them wasn't enough to offset their parental "role models". An 18 yo drug addicted girl with 3 kids and she doesn't want to accept that there's anything that needs fixing in her life...what can you do?

Back to PO: same problem with getting the next generation to "get it". No matter the effort to educate them they still are influenced more by the attitudes of their parents. Same sense of frustration.

Rock, thanks for the great response. But you triggered another thought. Some of the components of those break even numbers come after the gas is out of the ground -- transportation, processing, tariffs, taxes, what have you. You talk about the 50 cents mcf to produce, but how much do these other things add before they get to the end user?
Those things happen no matter how efficient or lucky the driller is. So there is a bar that has to be met outside of the poking a hole in the ground part.

When you take into account the dry holes, the disappointing holes, the high depletion rates, the costs of getting the gas to market, I just don't see how companies aren't going out of business left and right given today's prices.

By the way, a multinational company I know well is one of those sucker corporations that's only recently gotten into the shale gas game. Their timing is often terrible -- they bought a solar power company in 2007, guess how much that's worth today. They were partners in the Macondo well also. Ouch. If they are getting in now, it's a good bet it's time to get out.

ps, I'm not investing, just really curious. It's like an watching an illusionist levitate a body -- you want to know how it's done.

King – here’s a general break down to get to a net. We’ll use NG. From the well head: I pay the land owner 20-25% of the production off the top. So of my 10 million cu ft/day I own 75% (7.5 million cf/d). Of that I pay the state and county around 8% so I’m down to 67%. My production costs will vary the most depending on if the well is flowing at high enough pressure to go into the sales pipeline. If not then we’re talking a big jump in LOE (lease operating expense). This is a huge factor in the SG plays. The reason that those wells deplete so fast is that they fill just a small volume of the rock and there is no recharge mechanism as in water drive reservoir. The perfect analogy is a car tire. Punch a hole and the air comes out very fast. But the more air released the lower the pressure and the flow rate drops off very quickly. So it’s a double whammy: not only does the volume decline significantly but the cost to compress the NG to force it into the sales lines is high. A NG compressor can run $3,500 to $10,000 a month. And then you have to burn part of your NG production to run the compressor.

Without compression normal LOE is small. I’ll pay a gauger $750/month to go by the well daily and make sure everything is working OK. He reads the chart and determines how much NG was produced in the last 24 hours. We report these numbers to the state. Occasionally something wears out or breaks so there can be non-scheduled LOE expenses. But that’s typically it. I sell my NG at the well head to the buyer. The costs for transporting that NG isn’t on me. I’m out of the loop. My production might change hands 5 times before it ends up in your house. Again, whatever the cost to get the NG to your home isn’t my concern…doesn’t come out of my pocket.

There many thousands of independent operating companies in the US oil patch. The majority of oil/NG in the US is produced by these companies…not the ExxonMobil’s and Chevron’s. And they go out of business all the time. High oil prices don’t guarantee success. It’s never what oil/NG prices are…it’s always what your cost to develop the production. The highest ROI I ever generated was at a time when NG was selling for less than $1/mcf. Found a lot of NG very cheaply: the first field I discovered cost $0.12/mcf to fully develop. Drilling was very cheap at the time: during the big oil patch recession of the mid 80’s. Conversely the most INDUSTRYWIDE unsuccessful period I’ve experienced in my 36 years was during the BOOM of the late 70’s/early 80’s. We had 4,600 rigs running at the peak and I promise you that at least half those wells had little chance of being profitable. The mob mentality was pushed by the embargo induced price spike. Greed seldom produces good results. I dealt with one company during that period that spent $550 million to develop $40 million is reserves. Sort of like the "build it and they will come" but it was "drill it and they will produce". Wrong...very wrong. They had no background in the business when they jumped in with both feet. They got a very expensive education.

Wow! That pretty much tells me all I wanted to know. You're the best.

Stop pedaling, Start driving

Saw this Ad by GM on bikesnob

I hope reverse psychology works :)

Funny! (and grating, of course)

I wonder about doing a replay of the old discussions we used to have about 'Going out with someone who smokes..' Looking at prospective sweeties, and then peering 'around back' to see if they have a suitable Tailpipe for your tastes. (Obligatory Rear shot of Him/Her and their smoking exhaust poking out of their pants..) "You might not see it if you don't bother to take that peek .."

Yeah.. a bit rude.. but it would turn some eyes, and could be funny ..

Now we need a bicycle company to come up with and ad showing an morbidly obese, male driver being laughed at by a bunch of healthy looking male and female riders while he is stuck in traffic.


Recently saw a billboard here in Phoenix, for a local auto auction. The tagline read "Trade in Your Bus Pass."

This shows an unspoken assumption in America - If you're a capable adult in America, you should drive a car. In Australia its the same. You just sort of take it for granted, but think about trying to get by as an independent adult without a car. Its possible of course, but very difficult. But theres no denying it - a car is simply far more convenient than even good public transport. You can see how society came to be structured around the idea of most adults having their own cars - it allows for far more flexibility in employment, accommodation, recreation, shopping.

But its nuts when you think about it. Most adults having their own 1 tonne+ metal chariot? Just think how much energy it takes to propel and sustain a 1 tonne vehicle at 80 km/h or more. Emperors of old didn't have access to that kind of energy, and we take it completely for granted. It probably can't last. I can't imagine how traumatic it will be if car ownership becomes possible only for the very rich.

Not just an assumption.

Definitely an emotional rush.

You feel "powerful" when you put the medal to the pedal and leave in the dust a co-competitor for road space.

(Confession: I'm one of the guilty ones. V8 engine.)

I hate to break it to you, but they don't make one ton cars any more.

re: U.S. aims to punish Iran for Saudi envoy plot

While working on reno listened to msnbc and was surprised to hear folks sceptical of plot. I myself am sceptical and believe very little of what 'drone-master team' says any more about the world situation. Where does this all end?

It sounds like a set up for Israel or US to start bombing. I used to think this stuff happens fast, but as it took a month to hit Afghanistan, and the set up for Iraq what 1+ year?, Iran action this spring? Watched an interview of Israli ambassador yesterday and he definitely said, "everything is on the table" and "what would happen if Iran actually had nuclear capabilities"...(or nucular if that makes it easier for Repubs to understand).

It sounds like the foundation is being laid and God only knows what that wasp nest looks like? Is this part of the election plan? Nuts, nuts, nuts.


It sure seems like the US State Department has been just begging for a Cassus Belli with Iran for years now.

I can't hear this story without the term "False Flag" running through my head.

As per Shirer..

"As darkness settled over Europe on the evening of August 31, 1939, and a million and a half German troops began moving forward toward their final positions on the Polish border for the jump-off at dawn, all that remained for Hitler to do was to perpretrate some propaganda trickery to prepare the German people for the shock of aggressive war.

"The people were in need of the treatment which Hitler, abetted by Goebbels and Himmler, had become so expert in applying. I had been about in the streets of Berlin, talking with the ordinary people, and that morning noted in my diary: "Everybody against the war. People talking openly. How can a country go into a major war with a population so dead against it?" Despite all my experience in the Third Reich I asked such a naive question! Hitler knew the answer very well. Had he not the week before on his Bavarian mountaintop promised the generals that he would "give a propagandist reason for starting the war" and admonished them not to "mind whether it was plausible or not"? "The victor," he had told them, "will not be asked afterward whether he told the truth or not. In starting a waging a war it is not right that matters, but victory.

-W'm Shirer, Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich (p593)

..and on 9/1/39, with German SS dressed up as Polish Soldiers, and concentration camp prisoners as the 'Casualties', Hitler feigned the "Attack on a German Radio Station at Gleiwitz", amongst others, which precipitated the action he had 'Taken every diplomatic tack to avoid'.. (Operation 'Canned Goods')

Yup, looks like another propaganda flop. They've really lost the knack. The run up to the Iraqi war was excruciatingly embarrassing, the propaganda meant to justify it was so parenthetically bad. The totally f@"&ed-up Osama propaganda event showed unimaginable degrees of ineptness. They should hand over the job to The Onion.

Goebbels must be turning in his grave.

We have to be careful about what examples we offer up. For example Osama Bin Laden was assasinated on foreign soil. Getting Osama was a great thing, sure, but it also opened the floodgates to other countries copycatting this example, like Iran trying to assasinate a Saudi Ambassador on US soil.

And if our troops are imprisoned in a foreign country, will their captors not feel like the door has been opened to copycat torture US soldiers for information?

Simon says...

Yesterday, I thought it was probably a "real incident". Having read JuanCole today, I no longer believe that. The perp, has had well known mental problems for years, and likely became a bit delusional. Juan's case the the Quds wouldn't be so stupid to hire an incompetant, and to send $100K to the Zeta drug gang that the US closely monitors sound pretty convincing. They found some small scale nutcase (possibly led astray just for this purpose), and are deliberately blowing it into an international incident. Of course once the rest of the world figures this out, our credibility WRT getting UN action on anything Iranian will be down the crapper.

A bit like the Reichstag fire, that Hitler used as an excuse to attack the communists. It was set by an unstable Oswald loner type, whom the movement had rejected. But, Herr H ran with it for all it was worth.

"I can't hear this story without the term "False Flag" running through my head."

Me too. When the State Dept flack was yakking about "We wouldn't be going to other governments with this information unless it was rock-solid information" I had a flashback to pre-Iraq.

We are about to see just how short the US population's memory really is.

And a war would be so convenient for Obama and the government (and their constituent banks.) A couple million unemployed drafted and sent off to slaughter, the military industrial complex going full out putting the rest to work, Free Public Money for everyone. The boom is back, baby!

I really hope I'm wrong.

And yet, I feel like we're watching 'whoever it is', the US or the G3 or something, trying to light this fire over and over, and like a novice Boy Scout with wet Birch, can't make the thing light.

My 'Rise and Fall' quote was one I had used here in '06 when there was some other incendiary moment that the State Dept was trying to leverage.

It's like Haiti or Cuba. I keep asking myself 'what is it that we've got in for particular nations, it seems out of proportion to our core national interests?' .. and why have we worked SO diligently to help keep the Knesset so deluded about the extreme damage they are doing TO THEMSELVES by their actions.. like the dry, flammable spot behind the boy scout where he keeps tossing the matches that didn't light his soggy tinder?

Surprisingly, I don't think we made it up, i.e. it was probably a real (if totally stupid) plot. It does go to show you, that our Iran policy is dominated by two otherwise incompatible ME allies, Israel, and the Saudis. The combination seems to be impossible to ignore for the US political class. So I am worried, this could trigger a series of reactions and counter-reactions leading to ???. But, I don't think it is according to anyone's grand plan. More often then not, wars result from a series of foolish blunders, as both sides let psychological reactionary forces get the better part of logic.

But, I don't think it is according to anyone's grand plan. More often then not, wars result from a series of foolish blunders, as both sides let psychological reactionary forces get the better part of logic.

August 1914 haunts us still.

Z - But who learns from history? And so what if this was plan was poorly designed. The assassins of the arch duke that help lead us into WWI was done by some idiots who couldn’t shoot themselves in the foot if you gave them 6 tries. Even the final fatal bullet was a fluke. The one surviving assassin was trying to escape on foot when the Duke’s driver took a wrong turn while trying to get him out of town. Drove right past the shooter who had no idea he was heading his way. Car pulled up next to the shooter who whipped it out and plugged the Duke.

Never underestimate the ability of an incompetent. Fate often has its own plan.

The whole crew had tubercolosis, and a life expectancy of "to short". This was their only chance to make a difference, and they had nothing to lose.

The Black Hand conspirators proved in practice two old adages, "half of success in life is just showing up" - and - "he hath no power like he that hath nothing to lose."

A big war would help Obama get re-elected. War against Iran would return Israeli support to Obama. Looks like a win for Obama and a lose for America.

My guess is KSA will play the Oil Export Card in the comming years, and the US will then drop support for Israel. If that plays out, my next guess is there will be a war later down the road.

Daniel Yergin will be on KQED's 'Forum' program today, 10am PST.


I believe the show is carried by satellite radio services. Here is a stream for KQED:

KQED is also carried on Stitcher for mobile phones.

I suspect he'll get some push back from SF Bay Area callers.

KPFA is also hosting Yergin at a event:

KPFA, being one of the last outlets of rather unfiltered news , has missed the boat on this one.

KPFA? LOL. Does Yergin know what he is getting into with that one? That audience may be the political polar opposite of the audiences when he gives speeches in Houston.

I am part of the Social Justice movement in the Bay.
The scientific literacy of the movement leaves something to be desired.

That is sadly true. But there are millions of engineers in Silicon Valley, I hope they call in and participate.

I heard part of the show this AM

Yergin is a master contortionist in the sound bite media. Engineers are not.

One of Yergin's twists of logic involved him equating oil shale URR as being the same thing as conventional crude URR for purposes of determining when we'll hit Peak Oil. He convinced Michael Krazney (sp? radio host) and probably the listening masses that shale oil and fracked gas are major game changers that push Peak Oil back many many tears and makes USA a new Saudi Arabia all over again.

Wasn't it Don Quixote who sang, "This is my Quest ..." (The Impossible Dream)?

IEA chides MENA producers to increase output capacity

The International Energy Agency, responding to statements by officials of Saudi Aramco, said it is “very important” that oil producers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continue to invest in increasing their oil production capacity. “In the next 10 years, more than 90% of the growth in global oil production needs to come from MENA countries,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. “There are major risks if this investment doesn’t come in a timely manner,” he said. “Oil demand is set to increase.”

Birol’s comments came just days after Saudi Arabian Oil Co. Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al Falih told the Wall Street Journal that his country had no plans to increase oil production capacity to 15 million b/d, given the expansion plans of other producers such as Brazil and Iraq. “There is no reason for Saudi Aramco to pursue 15 million b/d [of output capacity],” said Al-Falih, whose remarks ended speculation that arose in 2008 when Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali I. Al-Naimi said his country could boost its capacity by another 2.5 million b/d to 15 million b/d.

If we extrapolate Saudi Arabia's 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in their ratio of consumption to production of total petroleum liquids (BP), they would approach 100%, and thus zero net oil exports, in about 14 years, as they have shown year over year declines in net oil exports for four of the past five years.

You may now return to regularly scheduled assurances from some sectors of the energy industry and from the media that all is well.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending October 7, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.5 million barrels per day during the week ending October 7, 563 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.4 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 9.1 million barrels per day last week, up by 386 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 9.0 million barrels per day, 115 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 418 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 117 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 337.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 4.1 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.9 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.4 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged just under 19.0 million barrels per day, down by 0.5 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, down by 0.7 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged about 4.0 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 5.6 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.9 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

I'm trying to reconcile this information with that of Charles Mackay above. Can anyone explain the difference?

Bucking normal seasonal trends, the decline in US oil inventories that began in late May continued unabated last week – per the API. The fall in inventories was only temporarily alleviated in August by the release of 30 million barrels of oil from the SPR. Normally as summer driving and harvest seasons end, supplies are rebuilt in preparation for winter heating demands.

The EIA and the API often differ in their inventory numbers. Both just call and ask: "How much you got?" And it all depends on who answers the phone and what their estimate is... at that particular moment.

Ron P.

OK, thanks - simple enough I guess. Perhaps Yergin was visiting that day....

Greece public transport strike hits capital again

(AP) ATHENS, Greece — Public transport ground to a halt in Athens Thursday as workers began a 48-hour strike against austerity measures, while protesters tried to prevent the collection of a new property tax by occupying the power company's billing offices.

Many Greeks have said they cannot pay the new property tax, which is to be paid through electricity bills to circumvent the country's dysfunctional tax system and make it easier for the state to collect. Those who do not pay risk having their power cut off.

But the power employees' union has reacted with outrage, saying the power company should not be used as a tax collection system. Workers have said they will refuse to switch consumers' electricity off.

"Electricity ... cannot be used as a means of blackmail against the unemployed, the poor, the wage-earner," the power company's union GENOP-DEH said. "(We) will not allow our poor fellow citizens to be left without power."

The unionists took over the company's billing facility in central Athens, blockading the entrance from Wednesday night. They ended their occupation Thursday afternoon but vowed to continue their protests, staging a sit-in of the company director's office to protest a decision to have private contractors print the electricity bills.

"We will not let this pass. This will be a hand-to-hand fight — we mean it," power workers' union leader Nikos Fototopoulos said....

OWS needs to learn from the Greeks.

I wonder how Eric is sleeping lately?

"It is one of the things that keeps me up at night," Holder said. "You didn't worry about this even two years ago -- about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And -- that is of -- of great concern."

"The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens -- raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born," he said.


Eric should be sleeping fine.
America is not comparable to Greece.
I lived in Greece between 2003 and 2006. I was a math tutor going to the houses of children. Greece is a kakistocracy ( a reverse moral system, good is bad and bad is good). America might not be at its best, but it is not a kakistocracy.

But skanzohiros,

The "reverse moral system, good is bad, bad is good" has been alive and well here in the USA the past 20 years plus.

I think A.G. Holder knows how deep the rot goes and sleeps accordingly.

Iceland's Katla Volcano is Getting Restless

If Iceland's air-traffic paralyzing volcanic eruption last year seemed catastrophic, just wait for the sequel. That's what some experts are saying as they nervously watch rumblings beneath a much more powerful Icelandic volcano - Katla - which could spew an ash cloud dwarfing the 2010 eruption that cost airlines $2 billion and drove home how vulnerable modern society is to the whims of nature.

... Civil defense authorities have been holding regular meetings with scientists. Disaster officials have also drafted an evacuation plan and set aside temporary housing, but many fear they may have less than an hour to evacuate once the volcano erupts.

Transco Eminence Natural Gas Storage Caverns Collapse

... Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company [Transco] states that it has experienced structural integrity problems with four of its seven caverns at Eminence Storage Field (Eminence) in Covington County, Mississippi.

On December 26, 2010, a large, unexpected pressure drop occurred in Cavern 3. Subsequently, Transco experienced problems with Caverns 1 and 2 and began to reduce the pressure in those caverns by withdrawing gas. Cavern 4 has been out of service since 2004 due to collapsed casing which is not connected to the December incident.

Transco seeks permission and approval to abandon Caverns 1, 2, 3, and 4, and reduce deliverability and capacity from 20.5 Bcf to 15.025 Bcf in Caverns 5, 6, and 7. Transco also seeks to partially abandon the total storage capacity and deliverability quantities Transco provides to its customers.

Transco estimates that it has already expended $76,000,000 as part of its emergency response to the events at Eminence

Oops :-<

I wonder where the gas ended up if there was a pressure drop.


Seven auto manufacturers collaborate on harmonized electric vehicle fast charging solution

Recognizing the importance of a single international approach for DC fast charging, Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have agreed on the combined charging system as an international standardized approach to charge electric vehicles (EV) in Europe and the United States.

... The seven auto manufacturers also agreed to use HomePlug Green Phy as the communication protocol. This approach will also facilitate integration of the electric vehicle into future smart grid applications

Nice to see those German companies on the bandwagon. They've been dragging their feet for a quite a while and pushed hydrogen and diesels instead. I think the moderate success of the Leaf has made them wake up a smell the coffee.

The government of France just placed a HUGE order with Renault for electric vehicles, many to move the French postal system to electrified transport. Nuclear powered postal vans! :-) (A wise move . . . France has a massive amount of unused electricity generation capacity available overnight from their nuclear reactors.)

Any links ?

Postal vehicles are a nearly ideal (perhaps half of the fleet) application for EVs.

Best Hopes for Niche Solutions,


Certainly, sir.
Renault to sell 15,600 electric vehicles to French government

Automaker Renault has been awarded a massive contract to supply the French government and its state-owned postal service, La Poste, with up to 15,600 electric vehicles, according to a report in the French newspaper Le Figaro.

Renault nabbed a significant chunk of France's recently announced 25,000-unit electric vehicle purchase order, according to Le Figaro. Yes, we said an order for 25,000 EVs. Renault will supposedly supply 10,000 electric vehicles to La Poste and approximately 5,600 plug-ins to other government-owned agencies. The contract is expected to be officially announced in mid-October after some legal hurdles are overcome, according to a Renault spokeswoman.

Of course France owns a lot of shares in Renault . . . but every government tends to favor their domestic producers. The fact that they are going electric is interesting.

'Thinking machines' will run future power grids

... These new machines must take on almost human-like intelligent characteristics, such as the ability to make decisions, adapt to unfamiliar situations, learn from changes in their environments and make sense of how all of the electricity flows through the nation's power grid, says Venayagamoorthy, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T.

"And those capabilities, in turn, will depend on subsystems that continuously improve their knowledge of grid dynamics, and not just gather data,"

"The research is already well under way" to support the development of thinking machines, he says. "As the smart grid evolves over time, and as we become more dependent on intermittent sources of energy such as wind and solar power, we will see that traditional technology will not work."

New buzzwords 'reduce medicine to economics'

Physicians who once only grappled with learning the language of medicine must now also cope with a health care world that has turned hospitals into factories and reduced clinical encounters to economic transactions...

"Patients are no longer patients, but rather 'customers' or 'consumers'. Doctors and nurses have transmuted into 'providers,' Pamela Hartzband, MD and Jerome Groopman MD, write in the Oct. 13 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The problem, ...is that the special knowledge that doctors and nurses possess and use to help patients understand the reason for and remedies to their illness get lost in a system that values prepackaged, off-the-shelf solutions that substitute "evidence-based practice" for "clinical judgment."

"Reducing medicine to economics makes a mockery of the bond between the healer and the sick,"

Might break the AMA guild. I would be far happier dealing with a $1000 computer than a $1,000,000 per year doctor. Medicine is a business let's go whole hog and open it to all providers, a free market, no guild monopoly.

More drugs should be made over the counter. We have a hard time providing cost-effective healthcare to people so let's at least allow people to do more for themselves.

Piracy will turn that $1000 into $0 and mean everyone gets the best advice for free.

I say best because you DON'T want to know how often doctors get it wrong/use obsolete knowledge/prescribe for pay.

When the Economy is Down, Alcohol Consumption goes Up

Previous studies have found that health outcomes improve during an economic downturn. Job loss means less money available for potentially unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking, according to existing literature on employment and alcohol consumption.

A new study by health economist Michael T. French from the University of Miami and his collaborators has concluded just the opposite--heavy drinking and alcohol abuse/dependence significantly increase as macroeconomic conditions deteriorate.

DiManno: Financial crisis is literally killing Greeks

ATHENS—Three weeks ago, a man in his mid-50s set himself on fire outside a bank in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

While his suicide bid did not succeed — he was hospitalized with severe burns — the symbolism of the act, and its location, was profound.

Police said the poor fellow had been struggling with personal debts. He viewed the bank as his tormentor...

Four years ago, Violatzis established a suicide helpline through Klimaka. At first, it received only four or five calls a day. Now it’s upwards of a hundred daily, more than 5,000 through the first eight months of 2011 compared with 2,500 for all of 2010.

“The callers are primarily men between the ages of 40 and 60 with families who had led productive lives,” he says. “Now they feel destroyed.

People get ill and depressed when their self-concept is incongruent with their reality.”

Does this sound familiar?

(note the return of "ZERO Down, Zero interest..." by automakers...)

"“We were drowning in EU money,’’ says Stamatogiannopoulou. “The banks practically begged us to take out loans. Buy a house! Buy a car! Take a holiday! It was all so easy and it became a trap...

“Of course we Greeks got carried away,” Violatzis acknowledges. “We believed we were living in an economy that was flourishing because that’s what we were told. We thought the bad days belonged to the past. We hosted the Olympic Games. We had international success in sports. Life was good and now it’s not. But I still do not believe that Greeks have the privilege of being the world’s worst spenders.”

new-family structures...

“The homeless population has gone up by 20 to 25 per cent,”...

Effie Stamatogiannopoulou, a nurse at the shelter, says both she and a brother whose business went bust have moved in with their mother. This, too, is a phenomenon of Greece in 2011 — elderly parents supporting their grown children.

“The Greek family has always been strong but the pressures now are too great. When the parents die, the pensions they were receiving are gone but the children are still unemployed, so then they have no money to live on. Some have moved into abandoned houses and they come to us for food.” ...


On a different bent ...

Permanently Dismal Economy Could Prompt Men to Seek More Sex Partners

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Grim economic times could cause men to seek more sexual partners, giving them more chances to reproduce, according to research by Omri Gillath, a social psychology professor at the University of Kansas.

Men are likely to pursue short-term mating strategies when faced with a threatening environment, according to sexual selection theory based on evolutionary psychology

What's not to like? Sex AND Alcohol. ;-)

Silevo solar cell makers reveal product with best-ever claims

Silevo, the Fremont, California, photovoltaic solar module manufacturers, recently closed $33 million in financing from investors, and the money is being used to build the facility in China, as well as to drive further research at its California site.

Silevo says it is currently producing modules in pilot production, manufacturing Triex cells that demonstrate between 20% and 21% conversion efficiency on full-size substrates.

Cost per watt?

They know it has to be cheap. They are shooting for 25-50 micron thick wafers, as opposed to roughly 200 that you see today, so their cost of silicon feedstock should be very low. But the rest of the package (low cost, reliability, decent efficiency), we will have to wait and see. I saw the claim that these ultra-thin cells will have a much lower thermal coefficient IIRC roughly .22% degree C (versus .48-.49) per standard silicon panels. That would be a big improvement. Panels at rated at 25C cell temperature, but in full sunlight most panels at 30-40C above ambient. Thats why you rarely get nameplate capacity out of them. So if it proves out, these would dissapoint less than standard silicon panels.

Those thermals seem like a good idea for here but I wonder what thinning the wafers will do for stress and lifespan. Will they be strong enough?


Don't know the answers about longevity. If the whole thing is thinner (silicon is only one layer), then it is more flexible. You can bend a piece of paper much more than a 2x4. Tensile, bending strain, is a half thickness divided by the radius of curvature. I thnk we will just have to wait until these radically thinner cells/panels come out.

Got it, Seraph. We're all the same... it is no longer build a better mousetrap, but build a cheaper one. Move the plant to China. The lead in the new plastic traps will kill the mice...

Ah, well. At least he's producing something that could help.

Of course, the way things are going, we will have mousetraps that don't catch mice, and wear out in a week. But only 25 cents! What could possibly to wrong?


Top Companies on London Stock Exchange Have At Least 25% of Their Subsidiaries in Tax Havens

The 100 largest groups registered on the London Stock Exchange have more than 34,000 subsidiaries and joint ventures between them. A quarter of these, over 8,000, are located in jurisdictions that offer low tax rates or require limited disclosure to other tax authorities.

Does converting cow manure to electricity pay off?

Studies have estimated that converting manure from the 95 million animal units in the United States would produce renewable energy equal to 8 billion gallons of gasoline, or 1% of the total energy consumption in the nation. Because more and more farmers and communities are interested in generating renewable energy from farm waste, there is a growing need for information on the economic feasibility and sustainability of such programs.

Central Vermont Public Service Corporation [CVPS] Cow Power program assists farms in planning and installing anaerobic digesters and generators to convert cow manure into electricity, and markets the resulting power to its customers.

Video: http://www.cvps.com/cowpower/cow_power_recut2009.wmv

France Launches Vast Solar Panel Array

France on Thursday launched its largest-ever solar energy farm, with an array of panels spread over about 200 hectares (500 acres) in the mountainous southern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region.

With a production capacity of 90 megawatts, the vast photovoltaic park features nearly 113,000 solar panels and was built at a cost of 110 million euros ($137 million).

It has roughly the same surface area as the nearby principality of Monaco, an independent state.

To put things into perspective, if, optimistically, the solar farm were to generate 90 MW x 6 hrs/day x 365 days, it would produce 197100 MWh of energy. Monaco uses more than 551,667 MWh of electricity. Electricity supply at risk Monaco would need a solar farm 2.5 it's size, plus a means to store the electricity for when the sun don't shine. [Not counting storage loss]

Puerto Rico wind farm to be Caribbean's largest

Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno says the Caribbean's largest wind farm will be built in the U.S. territory in a bid to reduce the island's dependence on oil.

Well they could all go to sleep when it gets dark.

World Population Hitting 7 Billion

... The U.N. population projections do not consider how the environmental problems we create, such as water scarcity and climate change, may limit our ability to grow. Whether we are able to sustain human civilization depends on not only our numbers, but also the rate at which we consume the earth’s resources and create waste. At the global level, we are already far overshooting the earth’s capacity to support us, even as some 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty

Seraph, the last line in the report is interesting.

If we do not voluntarily stabilize population, we risk a much less humane end to growth as the ongoing destruction of the earth’s natural systems catches up with us.


"If we do not voluntarily stabilize population..."

On a lighter note, When the Economy is Down, Alcohol Consumption goes Up, and a Permanently dismal economy could prompt men to seek more sex partners.

Maybe we should put those men on small farms, with a wide variety of small farm animals, and lots of alcohol.

Full employment, lower industrial footprint, a nation of satisfied men ; )

Rear Admiral Philip Cullom - Climate and Energy Proceedings 2011 - Chap 6

(pg 18-19)[pg191-192] … Scientists believe that the Anthropocene epoch (Figure 11) is characterized by changing seas, urban super sprawl, and planet resource limits (in terms of both energy and water) and by what I would call the perfect trifecta. The first element of that trifecta is a population which, at about 7 billion people, is well beyond the burden-bearing limit of the planet. When we were relying on coal, the population was about 2 billion people. What is that burden loading of the planet going to be if oil goes away and we have not found some kind of a substitute for it?

The second and third elements of that trifecta are affluence and technology. Everyone wants to be more affluent, and everyone wants to use more technology. The impact of those two factors in the face of continued global population growth is what makes this the Anthropocene epoch. Bill Gates talks about this, and he says it much more simply. He says, “Look, we have a planet ‘A.’ We do not know where planet ‘B’ is or even if it exists, so we better make planet ‘A’ work. And making planet ‘A’ work had better take climate change and energy into consideration.” You pretty much cannot talk about where our future is going without realizing that it is going to be ever more constrained in many, many dimensions.

I am going to end my remarks with the photograph below and by doing so bring my talk back to the sea... So if we do not want the planet to look like this by 2100, then we better start doing something different, and we better understand what the Anthropocene Age really brings us to and what changes it will wreak on the globe.

Why is that so important? Because the carbonate that is available for the growth of coral is not just available for the coral, it also supports algae and all the living things in the sea. The bottom line is that if you kill the coral and you kill the algae, you kill the entire ocean ecosystem. If you kill the ocean ecosystem, not too many people are going to be able to live on this planet given that the oceans cover nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface.

Climate and Energy Roundtable: http://www.jhuapl.edu/ClimateAndEnergy/Book2011/Authors/Simmons,%20Dean.pdf (worth reading)

The Climate and Energy Symposium 2011 Proceedings Book: http://www.jhuapl.edu/ClimateAndEnergy/Presentations.aspx

Speaking of algae, CO2, and carbon sinks

Researchers explore plankton's shifting role in deep sea carbon storage

In a study published this week in the journal Global Change Biology, SF State Assistant Professor of Biology Jonathon Stillman and colleagues show how climate-driven changes in nitrogen sources and carbon dioxide levels in seawater could work together to make Emiliania huxleyi a less effective agent of carbon storage in the deep ocean, the world's largest carbon sink.

Changes to this massive carbon sink could have a critical effect on the planet's future climate, Stillman said, especially as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise sharply as a result of fossil fuel burning and other human activities.

While floating free in the sunny top layers of the oceans, the phytoplankton develop elaborate plates of calcified armor called coccoliths. The coccoliths form a hard and heavy shell that eventually sinks to the ocean depths. "About 80 percent of inorganic carbon trapped down there is from coccoliths like these," said Stillman.

Stanford researchers examine impact of 'green politics' on recent national elections

... The researchers found that more than 80 percent of the Republican candidates' websites did not address climate change at all. Of the remaining 20 percent, half acknowledged climate change as a problem and supported policies to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions and half were skeptical, expressing "not-green" views. In contrast, more than half of the democratic candidates took a "green" stance, and the rest expressed no views.

"Democrats who took 'green' positions on climate change won much more often than did Democrats who remained silent," Krosnick said. "Republicans who took 'not-green' positions won less often than Republicans who remained silent."

Interesting. But, is it measuring cause or effect? Maybe candidates that are confident (because they've read the polls or whatever), are more likely to post green stuff?

Or maybe it's becasue they've figured out that 95% of the planets population doesn't care.

I don't believe in the Olduvai stuff, but this is disconcerting:

"Power plants in India are rapidly running out of coal and some have already stopped generation, plunging vast parts of the country into darkness and interrupting industrial output in many regions. "

".....half of India's 85,000 mw of thermal power capacity is running on 'super critical' fuel stocks, or enough coal to produce electricity for less than four days. Another 12% of the capacity is operating on coal stocks that will last for less than a week. "

So 62% of the Indian coal fired power plants have less than 7 days of coal in stock.

I wonder if the flooding of Australian coal mines this year had anything to do with this.

Like Oil inventories is there something like data on Coal inventories/stocks ?

India doesn't import coal from Australia. It imports mostly from Indonesia and S. Africa. Part of the problem is that domestic coal production has gone down because of flooding in some parts of the country and social unrest & strikes in one of the states. They cannot compensate for that by importing more coal because it is unaffordable.

The infrastructure is not in place to replace domestic Indian coal production.

The capacity of the ports and railroads from the ports to the power plants are simply not there for a massive shift to imported coal.



Why on Earth don't you believe in the "Olduvai stuff"? It is the most logical, natural, and obvious outcome to the human predicament. When I first happened across the theory, it took me about 40 minutes to realize it had to be true. Since then, I haven't found anything to convince me otherwise. And I have been searching daily (and relentlessly) for the past 6 years. Richard Duncan's theory is about timing and the specific mechanisms of collapse. But it doesn't really explain why collapse is inevitable. For that, the best overview and explanation I have ever seen is a paper called "Energy and Human Evolution" by David Price. It can be found at:


I don't see how any rational person could think there could be a different end to our story. But I am constantly amazed that the vast majority of people refuse to come to terms with it. I guess hope springs eternal.

hmmmmmm, Crocodiles spring to mind.....

There is abundant energy, just not oil. We need to transition to other energy sources, and the only question is if we can do it fast enough to mitigate oil depletion, and without destroying the climate. If we can, we're good.

Your claim depends upon exactly who "we" is. There certainly are vast quantities of energy available in the form of renewable energy from the sun. Trouble is, that solar energy is rather diffuse and most of it falls on the 72% of the Earth which is covered by oceans. What is lacking is the availability of concentrated energy sources which are cheap to produce, such as coal, oil and natural gas. Solar energy resources are intermittent, thus aren't available 24/7. While some nations have large fossil resources, the majority of the rest of the people on Earth do not enjoy direct access to those sources and must pay for importing that energy. Building large scale renewable energy systems to replace fossil fuels as they continue to run out will require a major re-direction of the present consumer oriented spending, leaving much less wealth for people not in the energy business. Making the transition happen is the problem, not the amount of energy available in total, and this has been so for at least 38 years since the first OPEC shock...

E. Swanson

If you need concentrated energy, the answer is nuclear power. But renewables (at least wind) is cheap enough and thus its diffuse nature isn't a problem any more. The main issue is instead to match oil products' superior usability in the transportation sector. We either need to make synthetic liquid fuels from (renewable or nuclear) electricity, or we need to scale and improve battery tech, or a mix.

Building large scale renewable energy systems to replace fossil fuels as they continue to run out will require a major re-direction of the present consumer oriented spending, leaving much less wealth for people not in the energy business. Making the transition happen is the problem,

I don't think the investments are that large, actually. A few percent of GDP extra or so.


"Abundant" is a relative term. Saying that energy is abundant fails to take into account energy density and quality. Fossil fules and oil, in particular, are much more energy dense than solar, wind, and biomass. Geothermal and hydroelectric are only available in certain places. Nuclear is very dangerous and if widespread enough would suffer from fuel depletion, just like oil, coal, and natural gas. Wind and solar are intermitent. If we have enough alternative sources of energy to have electromagnetic civilization, why didn't humanity develop it without fossil fuels? Why didn't the world have 7 billion people before the widespread use of fossil fuels?

"...the only question is if we can do it fast enough to mitigate oil depletion"

And how will we do that when world tips into permanent economic depression and we won't have extra energy or money to make the transition? Not to mention that I haven't seen a master plan for that transition. Most people have never even heard of peak oil and it will be very hard (basically impossible) to get everyone to agree about what to do about it.

"...and without destroying the climate" Sorry, too late.

Nuclear is not dangerous in a macro perspective, and it doesn't deplete significantly either.

Humanity grew well on biomass fuels for quite some time, but certainly needed fossil fuels to come to where we are today. But technological progress enables us to transition to other sources.

And how will we do that when world tips into permanent economic depression and we won't have extra energy or money to make the transition?

This does not seem likely to happen. The world's economy is growing fine on this oil plateau.

Not to mention that I haven't seen a master plan for that transition. Most people have never even heard of peak oil and it will be very hard (basically impossible) to get everyone to agree about what to do about it.

The beauty of the market economy is that we do not need a plan or an agreement. (We do for the climate, but not for transitioning away from a peaking resource.)

We don't have enough liquid fuel for everybody to drive a car; but we have enough energy to keep civilization going. Proof? Developing countries use a lot less energy per capita and are still a part of the modern civilization (internet, TV, travel, factories, hospitals, etc).

Also Denmark is proof of a lower energy society going lower.



I don't know anything about Denmark lowering their energy consumption. I'll bet they did it while most other counties were carrying on business as usual. Are the Danes totally self suficient yet? They used to talk about the Dutch Miracle. But it was only possible with imports.

Denmark is still an oil exporter, but depleting faster than conservation. Not sure @ NG.

They trade electricity with Norway and to a lesser extent Sweden and Germany. Not sure @ net. Danish made wind turbines generate an enormous surplus to Danish needs - but they are installed all over.



And yet they are running out of fuel for India's power plants. You can't have the internet, TV, factories, and hospitals without electricity. And most travel is currently accomplished with liquid fuels. How will India or any other country solve the problem? When there is not enough coal to fire the powerplants, the lights will go out.

Banks turn to demolition of foreclosed properties to ease housing-market pressures

Cleveland — The sight of excavators tearing down vacant buildings has become common in this foreclosure-ravaged city, where the housing crisis hit early and hard. But the story behind the recent wave of demolitions is novel — and cities around the country are taking notice.

A handful of the nation’s largest banks have begun giving away scores of properties that are abandoned or otherwise at risk of languishing indefinitely and further dragging down already depressed neighborhoods

Four years into the housing crisis, the ongoing expense of upkeep and taxes, along with costly code violations and the price of marketing the properties, has saddled banks with a heavy burden. It often has become cheaper to knock down decaying homes no one wants.

FDA Allowed Unsafe Seafood Onto Market After BP Oil Spill Disaster

A study accuses the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of allowing seafoods with unsafe levels of contaminants to enter the food chain after the BP oil disaster.

...Rotkin-Ellman wrote that the FDA had calculated that 123,000 micrograms of naphthalene [a PAH] per kg of shrimp was a safe level for human consumption. According to the calculations of her team, the limit should have been 5.91 micrograms if pregnant women and children who eat a lot of seafood are to be protected. Even for non-pregnant adults, they worked out that the safe limit should only be 46.99 micrograms of naphthalene per kg of shellfish.

Spraying protesters with pepper spray, planting false evidence - all in a days job for the NYPD

Those Drugs? They Came From the Police

According to Mr. Anderson, the stuff inside that can — “various narcotics,” he said — was used by undercover officers to frame people for phantom drug sales.

In two days on the witness stand at a trial of another officer now under way in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, Mr. Anderson, who worked in elite units in Brooklyn and Queens, described how rules were trimmed, broken or ignored so that narcotics officers could make their monthly quotas of arrests or buys

... At a Queens nightclub in 2008, Mr. Anderson said, he bought three bags of cocaine from a waiter and a disc jockey. He then gave two of them to another officer who was having trouble meeting his quota and was in jeopardy of losing his undercover assignment. That officer took the drugs, went back and arrested four people who had nothing to do with the sale.

It sounds like Agent Smith finally infected Neo...

Don't take the Red Pill!!!


I have no idea why I'm posting this, just seemed like something to share...


greenish, thank you for sharing. I needed a good chuckle before bedtime.

Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon.

Paranoia it seems makes it right and proper to demand full disclosure. What do they want? A letter like, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus?" Why not?

Can picture it now. "Yes, America, Orson Wells was right. Martians are really about to wage a war of the worlds."

What would be a good release date for this startling revelation? Halloween is coming up. Scared the bejeepers out of folks in the age of radio, can't see why it couldn't work again among the gullible internet public.