Drumbeat: December 9, 2011

John Michael Greer: What Peak Oil Looks Like

The point that has to be grasped just now, it seems to me, is that this is what peak oil looks like. Get past the fantasies of sudden collapse on the one hand, and the fantasies of limitless progress on the other, and what you get is what we’re getting—a long ragged slope of rising energy prices, economic contraction, and political failure, punctuated with a crisis here, a local or regional catastrophe there, a war somewhere else—all against a backdrop of disintegrating infrastructure, declining living standards, decreasing access to health care and similar services, and the like, which of course has been happening here in the United States for some years already. A detached observer with an Olympian view of the country would be able to watch things unravel, as such an observer could have done up to now, but none of us have been or will be detached observers; at each point on the downward trajectory, those of us who still have jobs will be struggling to hang onto them, those who have lost their jobs will be struggling to stay fed and clothed and housed, and those crises and catastrophes and wars, not to mention the human cost of the broader background of decline, will throw enough smoke in the air to make a clear view of the situation uncommonly difficult to obtain.

Crude Heads for Biggest Weekly Drop Since September as Europe Disappoints

Oil headed for the biggest weekly decline since September as economic rescue measures by European leaders failed to assuage concern that growth is slowing.

Economy, gas prices make Americans drive less

Americans have been driving fewer miles every month since March, a decline fueled by factors ranging from the weak economy to high gas prices to aging boomers and teens driving less.

It's the first time the nation has seen six consecutive monthly decreases since October of 2008.

A USA TODAY analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration shows the miles driven during the year that ended in September were down 1% from a similar measure from February.

Gas, Nuclear Demand to Rise as Coal Is Dethroned, Exxon Says

Global natural gas, oil and nuclear consumption will rise 32 percent during the next three decades as population growth drives fuel demand and environmental restrictions reduce coal use for the first time since the 18th century, Exxon (XOM) Mobil Corp. said.

Plenty of oil left but cheap oil gone

The world will one day run out of oil, but that is of little concern to delegates at the World Petroleum Congress in Doha, whose eyes are fixed on more crude discoveries and advances to prolong supplies.

'To tell someone that he's going to die is not a prediction, it's a tautology. What he wants to know is when and how,' Nasser al-Jaidah, chief executive of Qatar Petroleum International, said at the Congress.

Mexico: Rising Natural Gas Superstate?

"Mexico’s [energy] future seems even brighter. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, Mexico’s significant untapped natural gas reserves, if properly developed, could eventually provide Mexico with energy independence. She recently stated, “Mexico is sitting on very large natural gas fields that could allow it to end gas imports and could give it energy independence.

Chavez: Venezuela willing to talk with Exxon Mobil

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his government would be open to negotiating with Exxon Mobil Corp. in a dispute over the nationalization of an oil project in the country.

Venezuelan officials have previously said Exxon Mobil's compensation demands are excessive. The Irving, Texas-based oil company turned to international arbitration after refusing to accept the terms of the nationalization in 2007.

China wants Sudan oil deal by Christmas: special envoy

China wants Sudan and South Sudan to resolve a row over oil transit fees by Christmas in order to avoid any potential distruptions of crude supply from the new nation, the Asian country's special envoy said on Wednesday.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July under a 2005 peace deal, taking about three-quarters of the formerly united country's roughly 500,000 barrels per day of oil output.

New oil strikes keep oil prices on the defensive

United States Oil is down for the year as new finds ensure continued supply for the near term, but big oil executives are giving widely divergent views of the future of petroleum as well as its current scarcity.

Opportunities and Threats In Energy Investments

Oil supply has stalled since 2005, and growth from regions such as Brazil, the U.S. and Canada merely offsets the decline in the North Sea and Mexico. Further, 50% of "proven" oil resources are in the Middle East, and some 20% in Venezuela. Countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Libya have uncertainties in their oil supply. Peak Oil author Matthew Simmons wrote in his book "Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy" that Saudi Arabia is approaching the peak of its production, and that the kingdom has damaged its oil reserves by pumping salt water to gain short-term production increase. The bottom line is that information about energy reserves and production capabilities are not transparent: many countries withhold information about their wells and the condition of their reserves.

Gazprom says expects gas output to rise in 2012

(Reuters) - Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom expects to increase gas output to 522-528 billion cubic metres next year from 510 bcm in 2011, a company official said on Friday.

Kazakhstan nears $1 bln deal to join gas project-sources

(Reuters) - Kazakhstan and the owners of the Karachaganak oil and gas field expect next week to sign a deal to transfer a 10 percent stake in the project to the Central Asian state in return for $1 billion and the withdrawal of legal claims, two sources close to negotiations told Reuters.

Republicans tie Keystone pipe to tax cut bill

(Reuters) - House of Representatives will include approval of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline in a payroll tax cut bill, House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday, raising the political stakes on the issue.

Human rights abuses? Blame the parents

Action is needed to stop companies avoiding legal liability for alleged human rights violations by hiding behind subsidaries.

BP's Macondo payout hits $2.3bn

BP has said it has now made a total of $2.3 billion in payments to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the organization set up to handle compensation claims related to the Macondo disaster.

E.P.A. Links Tainted Water in Wyoming to Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

DENVER — Chemicals used to hydraulically fracture rocks in drilling for natural gas in a remote valley in central Wyoming are the likely cause of contaminated local water supplies, federal regulators said Thursday.

The draft report, after a three-year study by the Environmental Protection Agency, represents a new scientific and political skirmish line over whether fracking, as it is more commonly known, poses a threat in the dozens of places around the nation where it is now being used to extract previously unreachable energy resources locked within rock.

Exxon predicts influx of hybrids on roads

NEW YORK—Exxon Mobil Corp. expects to see more and more hybrids on the world’s roads, with gas-sipping models like the Toyota Prius making up half of all vehicles by 2040.

The largest publicly traded oil and gas company Thursday released its annual energy outlook. It says the use of hybrids —vehicles that rely on both gas and electricity for power — and other gains in fuel efficiency will keep energy demand in check in the U. S. and other major industrialized countries for years.

Requiem for a Train

High-speed rail is dead in America. Should we mourn it?

Solyndra Casts Shadow on Renewable-Energy Grants

The political firestorm that erupted when solar-panel maker Solyndra defaulted on its federal loan is sure to affect clean-energy tax credits that are set to expire at the end of the year, an overwhelming majority of National Journal’s Energy and Environment Insiders say.

A Somber New Year’s Eve for Solar?

While renewable energy advocates have long argued that government subsidies for the sector are dwarfed by those for more traditional energy industries, they have had a more poignant complaint since the onset of the recession: one of the subsidies they do get, an investment tax credit, has been rendered nearly useless by the general business downturn.

Historic Pearl Harbor Looks to New Energy Future

A sign on Paquet Hall boasts that it is “the first and still the finest berthing” at Pearl Harbor. The three-story Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, built in a U-shape to enclose a palm-lined courtyard, survived the December 7 surprise attack 70 years ago to become a cherished part of the base’s history. This year, the 1927 building was crowned for a role in the U.S. military’s future, when 1,064 solar photovoltaic modules were installed on its rooftop.

U.S. Agency Is Ordered to Change Wind Rules

WASHINGTON — A federal power agency discriminated against wind operators in the Pacific Northwest when it unplugged their generators to cope with a surplus of renewable energy on its transmission system this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled on Tuesday. It ordered the agency, the Bonneville Power Administration, to rewrite its rules.

New York May Be Safely Evacuated Ahead of Nuclear Event, NRC’s Jaczko Says

The New York City area may be safely evacuated in the event of a Fukushima-like disaster at the Indian Point nuclear plant because a crisis would unfold slowly, the top U.S. nuclear regulator said.

Nuclear Generation Capacity Drops in 2011

After reaching an all-time high in 2010, this year the nuclear power capacity—the amount of electricity that all the world’s nuclear power plants can produce—took a dip.

The Peak Oil Crisis: E=mc2

There have been some interesting developments in the cold fusion, or the now-preferred name Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR), story in the last couple of weeks that are worth noting. For the last 20 years a small band of ill-funded scientists have been laboring away at combining either palladium or nickel with hydrogen in an effort to produce heat. After hundreds of experiments, each varying some parameter or other, a number of scientists say they can produce heat in reproducible experiments. Because of the bad name acquired 20 years ago after many labs were unable to reproduce the effects seen in the Utah "cold fusion" experiments, developments in the field have been slow and gone largely unreported except in highly technical circles.

All the World's a Grave

Most of us will spend our tomorrows doing what we did today. If we have a job we'll go to work. Kids will go to school. And stuffed somewhere around all that is shopping, laundry, cooking, and everything else. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow look pretty much the same.

Here's what's going to happen if we all keep putting one foot in front of the other courtesy of Jeremy Leggett, geologist turned environmentalist writing about the near-future in 2006 ...

Here's The Only Food Pyramid That Matters In A Peak Oil Future

In a peak oil future, savvy consumers will rely on grain, fruit and vegetables, which have a smaller energy input.

The Destruction of Canada's Family Farm

I have read that the type of agricultural production practiced in “developed countries” consumes ten units of non-renewal fossil fuel energy to produce one unit of energy in the form of food. If this ratio is correct, then clearly our type of food production is not sustainable in the long term. There was an international conference a few years ago entitled “What Will We Eat When the Oil Runs Out” that dealt with this issue and the concept of peak oil. Cheap energy is not so cheap anymore and it will very likely become more expensive in the future. We need to be developing food production systems that are far less dependant of fossil fuel and more in tune with nature. We need more farmers and not less. The Harper government is determined to head in the wrong direction.

Soul in the Soil

Maybe you can you make your own soup. But can you grow the onions and garlic for its aromatic beginnings? Can you darn a sock or even imagine why you would consider it? There are some around who will tell you, like it or not, to have your hoes and needles at the ready with the coming of peak oil and climate destruction, but the truth is that many Americans have yearned to return to their rural roots almost from the time they left for the city.

So ingrained is the association between back-to-the-landers and sprout-eating hippies of the 1970s that discovering two early, distinct waves of the movement was a surprise to history professor Dona Brown, author of the new book Back to the Land: The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America. “Like most people I had no idea about it,” she says. “I didn’t know they existed. I fell into documents.”

Water Transfer to San Diego Is Upheld

Eight years ago, California’s Imperial Valley, a blooming desert that has access to more water than any place in the West, agreed to transfer 10 percent of its bounty to San Diego and Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas of Southern California.

It was and remains the country’s largest transfer of water from farmers to cities. This week a state appeals court rejected a request to invalidate it as unconstitutional.

Lead From Old U.S. Batteries Sent to Mexico Raises Risks

NAUCALPAN DE JUÁREZ, Mexico — The spent batteries Americans turn in for recycling are increasingly being sent to Mexico, where their lead is often extracted by crude methods that are illegal in the United States, exposing plant workers and local residents to dangerous levels of a toxic metal.

The rising flow of batteries is a result of strict new Environmental Protection Agency standards on lead pollution, which make domestic recycling more difficult and expensive, but do not prohibit companies from exporting the work and the danger to countries where standards are low and enforcement is lax.

Time for a Vacation? Climate Change and the Human Clock

In the natural world, scientists have documented a vast range of shifts in biological behavior related to climate change, from birds laying their eggs earlier to bears emerging earlier from hibernation in time for the first blossom of spring.

As it turns out, humans are not excluded from such behavioral changes. Over the last 30 years, a new study has found, peak park attendance has shifted by about four days, probably in response to climate change.

Arctic: Colliding Geopolitics and the Arctic

Climate change is prompting a rethink regarding the geopolitical significance of the Arctic. Yet while ‘classical’ approaches to geopolitics cast the region as the site of a new Great Game, critical geopolitics suggests exercising caution.

How can climate change denialism be explained?

As Clive Hamilton has pointed out, there is a certain kind of individual who is offended by the conclusions of the climate scientists. For such people - frequently ageing white males of science, engineering and technology backgrounds - the conclusions of the climate scientists are experienced as a shock, as a challenge, but most deeply of all as an affront to their deepest and most cherished basic faith: the capacity and indeed the right of "mankind" to subdue the Earth and all its fruits and to establish a "mastery" over nature. I use these words advisedly. The conclusions of the climate scientists suggested a problem with this generally free-thinking, secular, pro-capitalist faith.

The people I have in mind were the kind who had mercilessly mocked the once-fashionable idea that there might ultimately be "limits to growth". They are the kind of people who had vigorously and sometimes successfully disputed claims about the eventual depletion of natural resources or theories like "peak oil". Now they were faced with scientists who had arrived at the conclusion that there was something even more fundamentally amiss in the process of the industrial revolution itself - namely, that the decision to provide the energy for industrialisation by burning fossil fuels was possibly the most consequential, although perfectly innocent, misstep human beings had ever taken. Within the mindset of the engineers and geologists, such a thought is not merely mistaken. It is intolerable and deeply offensive. Those preaching this doctrine have to be resisted and indeed denounced.

Biggest Polluters Hold Up Agreement at UN Global Warming Talks

China, the U.S. and India, the three biggest polluters, maintained their resistance to a time line leading to a legally-binding climate treaty, threatening efforts to keep up the fight on global warming this year.

Climate caucus winds down without new treaty

Leading scientists warned this week that climate change is accelerating, but this year's U.N. climate negotiations are poised to end without a new binding accord to reduce the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Change's Dead Letters

To fight climate change, local and regional efforts may achieve more than global treaties like the Kyoto Protocol.

Butterfly effect flags climate chaos

But from outside the artificial atmospheric bubble of the UN climate talks, this planet continues to issue statements more eloquent, powerful and enduring than any of the human chatter. Its voice can be found in the volumes of scientific journals and expert reports as new pages are added to the evolving 150-year-plus archive of climate knowledge.

The world will one day run out of oil, but that is of little concern to delegates at the World Petroleum Congress in Doha, whose eyes are fixed on more crude discoveries and advances to prolong supplies.

Again, the straw man of saying Peak Oil = End of Oil so they can dismiss the idea. The difficulty is that "peak" is hard to communicate with words.

Anyone have other metaphors that would help in creating the right image in people's minds when they read an article about peak oil?

Peak Oil = End of Oil

I think the problem, for many is Peak Oil = End of World. A message many peak oilers are all too eager to embrace, imo.

No, no, no Banned, no one is saying it's the end of the world, you left off the most important part. It is The End of the World as we know it! The world will remain, and keep right on spinning, and it will recover its biodiversity... in ten to twenty million years.

Ron P.

"it will recover its biodiversity... in ten to twenty million years."


This very thing has happened before. Why the doubt about it occuring this time? It's not like the sun is going out. That would definitely put a permanent damper on biodiversity. But human caused destruction? We're not nearly as destructive as the KT event 65 million years ago (not yet anyways) and the world's biodiversity bounced back from that. Again, why the doubt? Just because we may not be around to see it, won't mean that it won't happen.

If a whole load of nuke power stations melt down due to maintainence failures post crash then the planet may no longer support established cellular organisms. That would mean a new life form would have to develop from "primordial soup". How long has cellular life been on this planet? How long will the sun burn? Just wondering.

You're forgetting an important difference between now and the KT event. Humans have spewed untold megatons of non-biodegradable garbage throughout the ecosystem, much of it toxic or radioactive. And further, our tweaking of the climate may by itself result in a sterilization of the biosphere.


The great evolutionary capacity, resiliance and symbiotic nature of the microcosmos ensures the continuance of cellular life, IMO, as it's had to confront direct solar radiation over the span of its existence and far more toxic conditions than now or in the near furture. Humans are ultimately puny when it comes to the power of the planet and nature; a small percentage of humanity must learn to humble itself in the face of that fact, hence the reason for the Greeks and Chinese to formulate the concept of hubris. Last I checked, no amount of money will keep death away from its eventual visit to all.

Peak oil is like growing old. You don't notice that you are slowing down at first, and that things are getting a little harder, slower. Your friends who accepted the inevitable, took care of themselves and prepared for old age, wave as they go jogging by down the street.

Ghung, I think that was also Robert Rapier's metaphor.

My question - is it like "growing old" in a stable, industrial world with high-tech medicine, medicare/medicaid/social security etc. A world where people wave as they go jogging down the street?

Or is it like growing old for the rest of life on earth throughout history - without the safety nets of the industrial culture... where people "jog by" in the middle of the night while searching for food, water etc...?

I guess it depends on where you "grow old."

I don't think any amount of PO "preparation" will be half as valuable as just being richer to begin with.

PO won't change human nature. Human nature is not fair. The rich always land on their feet in time of crisis, and often they will benefit from it. The middle class and poor always get knocked off their feet by the rich no matter how they landed.

". The rich always land on their feet in time of crisis,"

I don't think the evidence supports your case - although I do think a lot of people want to believe this (Richard Rainwater not among them...). I'll defer to the rest of the jury ...

Edit - read about the lives of "the rich" when the SHTF: see Orlov (weak on details) or FerFal (Argentina), or Sleco(sebia?romania?bosna?) - Todd's contribution the other day.

WhatWho remains "tich" - what is "rich" what are the hazards for the rich? What do they look back on and say they would do for preparation? Two City Mice, two differnt levels of collapse.

The rich always land on their feet in time of crisis, and often they will benefit from it.

That's not always true, the rich sometimes fare worse than the poor. The primary examples were the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. The stock market crash of 1929 was another time when it didn't help to be rich, because a lot of the rich went bankrupt.

During the Middle Ages the peasants used to pack a lunch and sit on a hillside to watch the feudal armies battle it out in the valley. They didn't have to worry because they were one of the properties the kings were fighting over, Only one of the kings could win, and the loser often ended up dead. For the peasants, it was just a change of government.

There was a period of 200 years in which none of the kings of Norway died of natural causes. They died of various things, usually in battle or from murder, but none of them died of old age.

A commercial airliner climbs to cruising altitude, and then maintains a more or less constant altitude, with minor adjustments. This would be Peak Altitude; the key point is that, except for minor changes in altitude, the plane's rate of increase in altitude stopped.

Because of physical limits, e.g., fuel limits and especially the maximum operating ceiling , the plane can't keep climbing forever.

The airliner then begins a descent, and the pilot adjusts the rate of descent, in order to intersect the landing pattern at the right altitude. At various points during the descent phase, the plane may be actually climbing, in order to adjust the rate of descent, but unless the plane returns to the original Peak Altitude, the plane is still in an overall descent mode, relative to Peak Altitude.

Some visual aids:

2005 Global C+C lined up with 1996 North Sea C+C (different vertical scales):

Global C+C “Yergin Gap” Chart*:

*A 2010 global production rate of about 86 mbpd (C+C) would have been consistent with Yergin's 2005 prediction for about 3%/year rate of increase in global productive "capacity."

To continue with the metaphor, a conventional production decline is an airliner doing a gradual descent for a landing. A net export decline (which tends to be an accelerating rate of decline) is more akin to a commercial airliner doing a mostly steadily increasing rate of descent, resulting, in its final stages, in a near vertical dive into the ground.

...and to to continue the metaphor still further, if the pilot tries to maintain altitude without sufficient power, the plane will stall & crash.

To bring the metaphor a little closer to reality, though, let's also imagine the pilots have gauges that show economic indicators instead of fuel levels, and the passengers are snoozing or watching the movie.

... or the passengers are being entertained by a "Mad Money" clown

So, we may slowly transition from an "undulating plateau" to an "undulating descent"?

Even a glider can show temporary lift during descent!

We need to become more like sailplanes, solar powered, but we'll have to leave the baggage behind.

Watch out for that change in "cabin pressure"

This is where I say, make sure you have your own O2 mask on properly before worrying about someone else, or you become part of the problem.

Don in Maine

GliderGuider, where are you when we need you?

A commercial airliner climbs to cruising altitude, and then maintains a more or less constant altitude, with minor adjustments. This would be Peak Altitude; the key point is that, except for minor changes in altitude, the plane's rate of increase in altitude stopped.

Don't like to shoot down a metaphor, but no they don't.

An airliner will tend to go higher over time as it burns fuel - so as to keep close to its peak operating efficiency. If you notice on a long flight early on you might be at 31,000 feet, but by the end be at 37,000.

Whatever metaphors you were using on our city council members seem to be working. Keep it up, and thanks for your efforts.

One that I like, though you might say that it trivializes the issue a bit, is peak pistachios:

You have a room full of pistachio nuts. At first it is easy to reach over and grab a nut anywhere you reach. If one isn't already open, just throw it back. But at some point, you have eaten about half the nuts and it is not as easy to find shells that still have nuts in them and that are easily opened. You may dig around and find a little corner that still has a lot of nuts in it, but these will inevitably get rarer and rarer.

You may never eat the last nut for the very reason that every nut eaten means that the next nut will be that much harder to find.


Of course, you can replace nuts with anything you like. Perhaps to connect to a common metaphor, you could star with an equal mix of hay and needle--at first it will be easy to find needles every time you look, but eventually you will end up with the proverbial needle in a haystack.

I have been hauling around the projector so I can use charts and graphs!

A big Thank You to WestTexas and Sam Foucher for the work on the Export Land model. It is really easy to grasp, has powerful existing examples (such as Indonesia) and creates a real sense of urgency. Thanks also to Jon Callahan for the export data browser. The chart of Indonesia puts to rest most counter arguments (they won't stop selling all oil... Oh wait, they do.)

But I have been admiring Jeff Rubin's ability to give a really powerful talk with no slides. And if you want to write a news article or post a comment under another it needs strong and clear images that can be communicated with just text.


Since I was busy eating pistachios out of a bag when I read your post I can relate to it.The first half of them are quite easy and in fact already open - but when you get to the last half you can shatter your fingernails trying to get them open so eventually you quit.

EROEI < 1 :-)

Give up on pistachios? Nonsense, you just employ advanced extraction techniques.

Have you tried enhanced pistachio recovery (EPR)? There is still room for secondary recovery using something like a knife as a lever to open the partially closed ones. Finally when you run into 'tight' pistachios you can use a hammer to 'frack' the remaining pistachios out of their shells.

Nah, not a knife, use recycled shells instead, less use of energy.



The key point of "Peak Oil Production": the rate of production is the rate-limiting step.

Asthma Attack - you are in an ocean of air, but you cannot get enough into your lungs to sustain your life.

I think it was Step Back who repeated this analogy a couple weeks ago here on TOD. He did not remember the original author (edit - I also do not remember the original author).

I think I can take credit for it, from about a month or two back (and using it for a couple years in and around our 'Titanic' Analogies).. but regardless of credit, I do think the image works really well to illustrate why 'just a little less' could be more than 'just a little problem'...


Anyone have other metaphors that would help in creating the right image in people's minds when they read an article about peak oil?

If they can't get it from the metaphor peak, then it's most likely not because its the wrong word, but rather because they refuse to accept it. People often refuse some bit of information regardless of its inherent truth, out of an emotional rather than an intellectual response.

other metaphors that would help in creating the right image in people's minds

Like wringing out a dishcloth. You need more and more effort to get the last drops out.

Two 60's rock tunes come to mind Deadman's Curve by Jan and Dean and Last Kiss by J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. Creating a metaphor from the two "Last Curve" hokie I know but listening to the songs they will have the same emotional effect when it sinks in to the masses on energy.

The reason our civilization must collapse is due to the deep resistance to the idea that just because we have a frig full of food doesn't mean we should eat it all in one sitting. Just because we can have as many children as we want and that every religious leader encourages it, doesn't mean we should push the global population to a point that we are drawing down Earth's resources at impossible-to-sustain-for-long rates.

As we ride the fossil fuel bell curve down for the next 150 years or so, we will have more than enough examples that prove things are not like they were on the ride up. Yes, we will blame everything under the sun but ourselves but eventually balance will, must, be obtained.

Yeast or intelligent planning. Choose your model.

The biggest and most significant parameter of this whole "lesson" is population levels. Most of the imaginative and big-picture thinking intellectual cannot wrap their heads around this simple and obvious reality. Even if some do, the realization that we humans are currently unable to do anything about the situation causes them to accept the fate that is waiting for us and to finally understand that we humans must go through this learning process. WWII provided invaluable lessons for us and the end of the fossil fuel era will make that look like a mental warm-up.

"which of course has been happening here in the United States for some years already"

The increased eating of hoi polloi has caused kuru, which accounts for much of what has happened since the peak of sanity, as well as the events on the downslope, which will be widely labeled as "the anthropocene epoch" soon enough.

Link up top: John Michael Greer: What Peak Oil Looks Like

Thus our civilization has entered what John Kenneth Galbraith called “the twilight of illusion,” the point at which the end of a historical process would be clearly visible if everybody wasn’t so busy finding reasons to look somewhere else.

I read this essay yesterday and thought it one of Greer's very best. What would peak oil look like? Well you are looking at it right now. But we are too busy finding reasons to blame what is happening right now on someone else. The republicans are blaming the democrats and the democrats are blaming it on the republicans. I don't know who the Europeans are blaming it on but I suppose they are blaming it on the Greeks, or the Irish or anything except peak oil.

Ron P.

I think it's all your fault. :)

Sorry West, to usurp your comment. I wanted to try to insert this toward the top of the thread! My bad.


I suppose it is futile for me to keep bringing this up on a site devoted to oil and the study of its extraction rate, however I am compelled, once again to point out that what we are witnessing is not a phenomenon due to peak production per se, but to the peak and decline of NET ENERGY available to do economic work. That net has been in decline long before the peak in gross oil extraction rates due to rapidly diminishing EROI (OK for you retentive types EROEI). The continued insistence on the economic and political problems being caused by peak oil is, IMNSVHO, one of the mistakes being made in trying to communicate the source of the problems to people who might otherwise be able to grasp what is really happening.

OTOH I realize that since EROI computations are hard to pin down there is always going to be dissension among those who fail to look at the really big picture and take the laws of thermodynamics seriously. Pure theoretical considerations are all that one needs to derive the economic (and consequent political) effects we see. The rest is just details. But, it seems we are stuck arguing among ourselves about the details (the bark on a single tree) and thus miss the big picture (the forest). If we would follow the pattern of, say, physics, start with a causal theory and THEN look for the data that supports (or refutes) the theory we might actually make progress. Instead we seem to have adopted a casually implicated model and decided already that the only data we need is the stuff we started with - oil production numbers.

Frankly I've about given up on anyone producing a true causal model of economic decline. I think Charlie Hall et. al in the biophysical econ world have come the closest, but even there the arguments about what counts as EROI (boundary, for example) tends to muddy the overall picture. So, by all means argue on about what the world looks like due to peak oil. Its an easy target. But it isn't science IMO.

PS. as far as sudden versus gradual collapse, perhaps injecting a little bit of chaos, self-organized criticality, and catastrophe theories would help us understand that it is really hard to make predictions about systems like the global economy!

Sorry West, to usurp your comment. I wanted to try to insert this toward the top of the thread!

Please don't do this. If everyone does it, the result is chaos. It's hard enough to follow the discussions here as it is.

I'll leave this, because it's not totally out of place, but please...don't do this.

Hi Leanan,

I try to compose thoughtful comments and sometime it takes a while-as long as an hour, even longer sometimes. So by the time they are up, they are already out of place.

And sometime what one has to say really doesn't make much sense unless it is posted in a certain spot.If Darwinian Or Rockman make a comment to which I have something to add,and I don't see it for a few hours or until the next day, would it be best for me to create a new thread ?

One thing that I believe is very helpful is to address a reply by name to the original author.This doubtlessly prevents a good bit of confusion at times.

Another thing that I have done on occasion(not recently) is to actually put in both the original author's name AND the time at which the comment to which I am replying was posted.In a long thread with several comments by the same author, this makes it much easier to follow the comments.

I am a completely helpless old fogey when it comes to programming, but I bet it would be easy for the site techs to make every comment display a reference in a little window showing the name of the original author and the time of the post.

I try to compose thoughtful comments and sometime it takes a while-as long as an hour, even longer sometimes. So by the time they are up, they are already out of place.

No, they aren't. Other posts may be above yours, but if you reply properly, it's not out of place. The discussion is threaded here, which allows people to hide subthreads they are not interested in, and also to link to subthreads they want to show others (without having to scroll through everything).

If Darwinian Or Rockman make a comment to which I have something to add,and I don't see it for a few hours or until the next day, would it be best for me to create a new thread ?

No. Reply, don't create a new thread. Discussions are threaded here for a reason.

I bet it would be easy for the site techs to make every comment display a reference in a little window showing the name of the original author and the time of the post.

Each comment is already time-stamped. If you can't figure out who is being replied to, click on "parent," and it will take you to the comment being replied to. Without resetting your "new" flags. Try it, it works.

You are right on Ron. Greer nailed it with this one. He has a way with words. I was also struck with this long sentence:

"Get past the fantasies of sudden collapse on the one hand, and the fantasies of limitless progress on the other, and what you get is what we’re getting—a long ragged slope of rising energy prices, economic contraction, and political failure, punctuated with a crisis here, a local or regional catastrophe there, a war somewhere else—all against a backdrop of disintegrating infrastructure, declining living standards, decreasing access to health care and similar services, and the like, which of course has been happening here in the United States for some years already."

We are living in the peak - but trying so hard to ignore it.

Sudden economic collapse is definitely not a fantasy to me. Calling that a fantasy is pure ideology. I wouldn't even rule out a sudden population collapse since most countries are dependent on global trade and financial markets.

I think I'll need another five years to really get a grip on the intersection of finite resources, black swans, and economics. Greer is probably ahead of me on this curve but we don't have enough data points and history may be a very poor guide since we have a global economy with a population of 7 billion people.

There will always be a chance of sudden collapse due to meteors, nuclear war, bird flu, etc... It may be infinitesimally small but even that is not fantasy.

Gog, though Greer believes that the collapse will come in steps in what he calls "cationic collapse", there is nothing in this essay that says we will never have "sudden collapse". What Greer is saying is that we should not look for sudden collapse as a sign that we have reached peak oil.

Even a doomer like myself believes that the total collapse will come several years after peak oil, probably at least a decade or so. But the question is "What would peak oil look like if it were happening right now?" Well just take a look around. What you see is what peak oil looks like. That's Greer's point.

Ron P.

That would be "catabolic", not "cationic". It implies breaking down, vs. building up.

Sgage, you are correct. I never used either term before Greer and simply got them confused. Sorry.

Ron P.

No problem! It is a strange term if you're not into cell physiology :-) Your other points were perfectly valid.

As Greer uses the term, it implies a slowish, but "stair step" decline as we sort of cannibalize existing infrastructure to keep things going.

I've always thought catabolic collapse was our most likely fate. And I think along with the stair steps down, there are stair steps up - maybe enough so the general trend isn't noticed. Russia and New Orleans and Iceland bounced back from their crises, at least somewhat, though many of us envisioned that it would be a one way process.

Good point. That's why it's probably going to seem like BAU all the way down, or at least for a while...

It's a bit like the declining price of a company's stock.

If it went down by the same amount every day - say $0.10 - there would be a very clear trend, and once observed, investors would start bailing out.

But if that same stock was going up a few days, then down a few more, such that the average was down $0.10/day, investors would be far less hasty to bail out, as it would keep giving them a glimmer of hope that things will turn around. I'll bet the stock would go down further before they finally admitted it was in trouble and sold out.

Remember the "green shoots" people were talking about a couple of years ago? What happened to those? Mostly, withered and died, I expect.

And like any plant, there is only so many reserves that can be used to send out new shoots, if they keep dying, until the plant itself goes into irreversible decline. This is where the plant cannot harvest enough energy (via photosynthesis) simply to maintain it's own life functions, let alone try to grow.

Does that sound at all like the US economy today?

Yes, collapse is a long process. I spent most of my life in the collapsing British Empire, a process which is still on going and probably won't end until the Union is dissolved. Margaret Thatcher pulled Britain out of the depths it had fallen to in the seventies, giving some respite to the decline. But the next leg down for Britain will take it to levels far worse than those prior to Thatcher.

I guess it is similar to stock markets where sharp declines are followed by sharp rallies, but the trend remains down and new lows will follow.

What most people think of as collapse is the final disintegration of a system when everything falls apart. But that is simply the end of the long and convoluted process of decline that precedes it.

What temporarily pulled the UK out of decline was north sea oil.

I wonder if the new fracking revolution will temporarily pull the US out.

No, I don't think it's a long-term fix, but it is something most peak oilers (and even many industry insiders) didn't imagine. The impending North American natural gas cliff was seen by many of us (including me) as a far more intractable problem than peak oil, because natural gas is much less fungible than oil.

Leanan - And to add to your observation there is no "new fracking revolution". The frac techniques are not new...improved a bit but not new. And neither are most of the plays. I drilled and frac'd my first Eagle Ford Shale well over 30 years ago...poor results. The only "new" aspect is using horizontal well bores...and at a high price. But in that case "new" is a little over 20 years old.

The tech isn't responsible for the surge in shale drilling...had it for decades. No one just discovered the productivity of these plays...been known for decades too.

The two factors that caused the surge: prices and the Wall Street demand that public companies increase the reserve base y-o-y. In truth, prices aren't the prime cause: name the non-public companies drilling in most of the shale plays. My company doesn't for a simple reason: prices still aren't high enough to meet our requirements. As far as insiders not anticipating these opportunities: most of us insiders have folders in the back of the file cabinate with such projects. In 1989 I did consulting gig evaluating a series of Texas shales, including the Eagle Ford. And the result was obvious: the reserves were there and we knew how to get them out. Unfortunately prices at that time didn't make such efforts viable.

I drive this point home for a reason: the development of future reserves will be dependent of prices. Predicting a large growth in these resources automaticly implies higher energy costs. Your basic good news/bad news.

Or it could be catatonic collapse...whereby the means of adaptation have become unresponsive to external stimuli?

I'll have a Gin and Tonic Collapse, and one for my wife.

I hope I don't have to settle for a Bloody Mary..

There will always be a chance of sudden collapse due to meteors, nuclear war, bird flu, etc

If there is collapse from economics the system that brought the economic events would be questioned.

If the collapse is declared natural - like a flu - now who can get mad at the rulers for mis-ruling?

"Get past the fantasies of sudden collapse on the one hand..."

Funny, but that is the part that made me roll my eyes.

What is "sudden collapse" ???? Is it like Bannedon's post above -" end of the world" ????

Can you and your community have "sudden collapse" while surrounding communities are still functional?

"Fantasies of sudden collapse" = strawman

Aardvark, please read my post just above yours. I really don't think fantasies of sudden collapse equals strawman. Believing that the world must collapse as soon as we hit peak oil is a fantasy. The fact that we have hit the first step down and no sudden collapse means that peak oil will not cause a sudden collapse. But we could have a sudden collapse from some point well down the steps of collapse. I am saying, and agreeing with Greer, that the collapse will come in steps. It is just that the very last step will be a real killer, and it is likely to come quite suddenly when it happens.

Ron P.

One needs to consider the definition of "sudden' as well. Listening to NPR this morning, a story about the world's oldest matress being found (yet) got me thinking: Did the folks who slept in that bed have a clue that they were on the cusp of a human population bottleneck, a near extinction event. I'm sure that they didn't have a clue that their get would be among the few to make it through. The eruption of the Lake Toba supervolcano created perhaps the greatest dieoff in human history between 69,000–77,000 years ago.

What humanity is facing over the next century or two could easily dwarf that event, both in population reduction and time frame. Just sayin'. I feel, from an historical perspective, the scale of humanity's meteoric rise as a result of the industrial age and our (likely) equally massive downfall as a result of de-industrialization will be sudden indeed. Ten generations (if we're lucky) isn't a very long time considering.....The view will be very different from atop Mount Olympus.

Thank you Ron, and I understand the model of the stair-step collapse, and it sounds reasonable.

But... what is considered "collapse" - what are the parameters for that "final step down" ????

1. If your vantage point is from Mount Olympus and you are one of the Dogs, fine. Then it may be a stair-step collapse/transition globally -might be. ...But what if one or more countries feels like Japan in WWII and does what so many seem to think "will never happen".... ??? That "last step down" might come much, much sooner than expected. I do not see any reason to put this possibility into the "fantasy" category.

2. OTOH, if your vantage point is that of a mere mortal, in one locale,... what if that "first step down" turns out to be the "last step" for you and yours? Does it matter that a crippled form of industrial civilization still exists for some people, in some places?

The sinking of the titanic was a stair-step function too.

Personally, I think Orlov's POV is likely to apply for most of us mere mortals (for Druids, Presidents, Manic Market Traders, etc... I have no idea what they might experience).

(edit - fixed orlov link)

Aardvark, thanks for the considerate reply. I personally think that there will only be one or two steps before the total collapse. There has already been one step, the one that started in 2008. Now it looks like we may be ready for step number two. I expect the total economic collapse to come before 2020 or about one decade, more or less, after the first step down. But that is just a WAG. It could be two decades or more after the first 2008 step downward before the big step, the total collapse step.

I generally love Orlov's articles but I did not like the one you posted. No one is claiming that they know what the descent will look like. Of course there will be spikes up and down during the decline just as there were during the ascent. But those will because by "events". And because events cannot be predicted the decline must be drawn, or guessed at, with a smooth declining line. Wouldn't it be stupid to show the decline as a saw toothed line since there would be no way of knowing where each tooth could show up nor what would cause it?

Ron P.

after reading that i kind of lost some respect for orlov. then i got to thinking, he witnessed one large country go through complete collapse, and is now watching another one self destruct. to accept just the principle that what happens to individual fields will happen to the world as a whole would imply for someone in his position that there is no chance for recovery, no place to flee to too get away. i think his refusal to accept is out of fear because he doesn't know what to do since he can't get away by simply moving to another country..

I really disagree that we have to use a "smooth, declining line." I think it gives a grossly false impression and leads to complacency. I think that is Orlov's main point.

Think of Ugo Bardi's Seneca Effect - we might not know what events might cause the decline but it seems much more realistic that once decline begins, the rate of system collapse behaves more like an avalanche - or more like a Phase Change (solid-to-liquid rapidly once you hit temperature X - also Ugo's analogy if I recall correctly).

What impression is left with the viewers of the nice, smooth, "in-a-absolutely-perfect-and-sterile-world" graph? We have a congress that passes thousand-page bills without reading them, a public that reads headlines and pretends to be informed, CEO's who have time for little more than a summary of complex issues outside of their expertise.

I side with Ugo and Orlov. I think your "one or two steps" is more accurate.

Also, Ron I apologize for the fact you felt it necessary to say, "thanks for the considerate reply." I vow to stop posting out of frustration, or when angry.

I really disagree that we have to use a "smooth, declining line."

Oh really? Then just what kind of line would you use. You would use a jagged decline line line the one that preceded the peak? Then just where would you put the fluctuations. And how would you explain what caused the fluctuations?

I think it gives a grossly false impression and leads to complacency.

Nonsense! Everyone knows it is just a guess, an estimation of how the decline would look if there were nothing involved but the pure decline rate. The question remains Aardvark, if you would not put a smoothe decline rate on your chart then what would you put?

I noticed that the decline rate on Ugo Bardi's link that you posted were all smoothe. There were no jagged decline rates in a single one of the projected curves. Only his historical curves were not smooth.

Really Aardvark, we can never project a jagged decline curve. Or perhaps you think we can. If so, then please explain just how that can be done. And where would you put the jigs and the jags? Just when would the oil supply go up and when would it go down. I would really like to know Aardvark, so I can play the market and make a million.

Ron P.

Bands, based on historical variations, would be useful.


Based on the very steep slope of recent exponential growth in human population, any temporal error band one might pick could easily bracket a several billion person population change.

I think we can get an idea of the future of human population by looking at the "historical variation" of the St. Matthews Island reindeer population. We are in exactly the same predicament they were in- exponential growth exhausting a finite resource. Once the Island reindeer population peaked, the die-off happened in one year.

The human population peak may be rounded off by conflicts of the sort that only humans can inflict on each other, but the down-slope is still likely to be very steep. If 70-90% of humans are to die by the end of this century, as many suggest, it will not likely be by processes that are a mirror image of the prior era of smooth exponential growth. When the steps down start happening in earnest they will be very long indeed and much faster than the climb up.

Ron, compare the rate of decline of Ugo Bardi's Seneca Cliff, to the rate of decline in the figure referenced by Orlov. What assumptions go into each? What assumptions for X(step-down-sideways-stepdown...) vs slow-gradual (orlov's reference) vs rapid descent (Seneca Cliff)????

From Ugo Bardi above:

So,the model can generate a "Seneca-like" production curve which clearly shows the "Seneca cliff". It goes up slowly, then it collapses quickly. As Seneca says, "the way to ruin is rapid."

...Could it be that the Seneca cliff is what we are facing, right now? If that is the case, then we are in trouble. With oil production peaking or set to peak soon, it is hard to think that we are going to see a gentle downward slope of the economy. Rather, we may see a decline so fast that we can only call it "collapse...."

The symptoms are all there, but how to prove that it is what is really in store for us?

It is not enough to quote a Roman philosopher who lived two thousand years ago.

We need to understand what factors might lead us to fall much faster than we have been growing so far. For that, we need to make a model and see how the various elements of the economic system may interact with each other to generate collapse...

I think Ugo and Dmitry have given this more thought than Greer, Jeff Rubin, etc.

I think Ugo and Dmitry have given this more thought than Greer, Jeff Rubin, etc.

I doubt that very seriously. And the debate was about a smooth decline and not the rate of decline. Every one of Ugo's decline rates were very smooth.

But the rate of decline has been the subject of debate on this list for years. Simply because Ugo sees a very steep decline instead of a step decline like Greer, or a long drawn out decline like others, does not mean he has given it more thought than they. No matter how much thought we give to the problem I don't think we can predict accurately the rate of decline. I think it will be very steep like Ugo but I could very well be wrong.

Ron P.

"And the debate was about a smooth decline and not the rate of decline"

I see the unintentional tangent here.

Greer calls "sudden collapse" a fantasy - I disagree. I agree with Ugo and Dmitry that a rapid collapse is highly probable - not a "fantasy" at all.

I agree with them not simply because "Ugo said," or "Dmitry Said" - but because of their reasoning.

Yes, the Greer/Rubin model of long, gradual decline over decades, punctuated with "steps" down, is possible and even reasonable. But I think it is naive and premature of them to call the alternative - "sudden"(rapid) collapse" - a "fantasy."

The tangent is whether the curve is a smooth-fit, stair-step, sine wave, "jagged" or otherwise. In that subsequent response to you I should have said, "I disagree that we have to use a smooth, multi-decade, declining line." I apologize for the tangent.

History has a few examples of "sudden collapse" and many more of "gradual decline".

If one was to look at probabilities - the Greer position of 'gradual decline' is favoured by history. But a rapid decline is possible.

And slow decline VS rapid deterioration is based on where one stands. If you get knifed, gut shot, or well beaten about thine shoulders over a 'decline issue' - from your POV a "rapid decline" is what is happening. If you have land that produces an excess of food and can keep the tax man at bay for multi-decades from now and have your good health - the decline will look slow.


I mostly agree that there will be a decline and what is will look like (the slope of the line down) is a WAG at best. I also agree with Aardvark that the path down is unlikely to be smooth but that there will be oscillations around this path which may fool some people into thinking that things are getting back to normal. I don't think these perturbations can be predicted any better than a business cycle can.


I also agree with Aardvark that the path down is unlikely to be smooth but that there will be oscillations...

Of course there will be oscillations. That was not the question. The debate was about drawing a smooth line for the descent. That is the only kind of line one can possibly draw because there is no possible way one can know where the oscillations will occur.

The argument started because Orlov complained about people drawing a smooth line for the coming descent. Obviously there is no other kind of line one can draw unless one is an oracle who can foretell the future.

Ron P.

An example, just one example of the many complexities now dependent on a civilization in overshoot, highly dependent on maintaining the current level of FF, if I may? If the internet goes down, what happens to the stock market? What happens to the fancy Kindle you bought for Christmas? UPS/Fedex deliveries? Just in time coordination? Shipping? What happens to the billing for your cellphone? Cellphone functionality? What happens to all of the other automated billing that is now online, especially since the Postal service is winnowed out and in decline? What happens to the GPS for your car, the plane, and whatever else has a GPS unit in it? How many things are now almost completely shifted over into reliance on one of the most highly networked and energy intensive 24-7-365 operations in the history of man? This bright group could think of many more examples of what would just stop, just within this subset of internet dependency? What happens when that starts to blink out? is the decline slow and gradual, is it patchy and intermittent, or does it wink out?

Of all the bright (and often toxic) blooms of industrial civ, the one I would miss most. You can take away the air travel, the cars, the exotic foods for cheap, the express delivery, all the ultra cheap offshore consumer crap... I won't cry (too much). I could live with 1/5th of the clothes I have. I would cheerfully pay a premium for one pair of boots if they would last me several years. I could live without grapefruit, though I'd whine a bit at first. I have enough of a personal library (as in books, made of paper) to keep me entertained for many years; I could even give up my DVD collection and ebook reader without too much gnashing of teeth. But oh dear, I will miss the internet if/when it goes -- sorely. To have so many answers right at one's fingertips, the gratification of almost any curiosity -- it's some kind of pinnacle of human ingenuity imho.

I have the sense increasingly of living each day with a great appreciation for all the infrastructure that still works. When I drive our (small) truck, or ride a ferry, or walk into a hardware store full of useful (and quite affordable) tools and stuff, I feel grateful that the whole unwieldy, impossible circus is still lurching along for a while. Anyone else suffering from that same sense of holding one's breath watching an impossible, fascinating trapeze act that is bound -- absolutely bound -- to come apart, and with no safety net?

All lines are smooth if you stand back far enough, and no line is smooth if you stand close enough.

I know that sounds rather $2 guru in tone, but there's a thing there about edges, fractals, and scale...

The movement of tides is a smooth sine wave, if you stand back far enough. And that smooth sine curve has excellent predictive power. But if you observe closely the actual movement of a tide on a beach, you'll see that it pulses and wanders, that there are nonlinear rushes and pauses, mini and micro dams are breached with sudden collapses and floods, on scales from microscopic on up to half-acre or so. And many of these micro vagaries are hard to predict.

The tide of industrial human affairs has passed its flood. The ebb is long and smooth as seen by the tide table, but may be pretty chaotic as seen by us grains of sand.

So I think a lot of this debate over the smoothness of the collapse slope is kind of pointless. As seen from a great historical distance it may look like a Seneca curve or a Gaussian distribution or whatever. But from the micro POV, on the ground, for each family, individual or community facing radically altered circumstances, it may well look like a sudden shock or a series of sudden shocks. And I would bet on various localised ("local" meaning anything from nation to neighbourhood) nonlinearities, such as a tsunami plus nuclear disaster, a megastorm, an invasion with resource pillaging, an epidemic, a famine, a national default with IMF "austerity" (immiseration) measures imposed, a revolution, etc. Each of these may be part of a long smooth curve of decline seen from the Olympian vantage point, but may look very jagged and bumpy seen from the ground.

Am I making sense here? What I'm saying is, I suspect the decline curve is both smooth (long view) *and* catastrophically jagged and spiky (close view).

Total sense, RA. Perspective depends on the scale at which you examine the issue. We are just a blip in the big scheme of things. When viewed from a personal perspective of 50+ indulged years of FF living, the upheaval will look quite different.

Hello S.A-
what if that "first step down" turns out to be the "last step" for you and yours?
Your point is very cogent to the "this is what Peak Oil looks like", but even more to your point that this is not fantasy.
Maybe Greer is just being peevish about Doomers- as he often is- but we should not underestimate the impact of once or twice removed incidences [from peak oil] that are caused by the difficulty of government action or the absence of government- such as New Orleans or Somalia. The idea of *Apocalypse* is an old one and can be seen recurring throughout history. Why would the present or future be an exception?
I have no doubt that Apocalypse- caused directly by P.O.- is possible.... it just may be more local than universal, depending on the site of the war, famine, political upheaval, etc.
Like porn, we will know Apocalypse when we see it.
%) GAB

We have already been through Apocalypse. one definition of the word is that of revelation, and that has happened when we reached peak. the revelation that the world is limited is a apocalypse for those who are still in the mindset of a world without limits. Some though will take it better then others, and it's the ones who take it badly are the ones i worry about since they also tend to be the ones at the controls of a certain wmd.

"Maybe Greer is just being peevish about Doomers- as he often is- but we should not underestimate the impact of once or twice removed incidences [from peak oil] ..."

Yup - about Greer and his peevishness ;).

And YUP! - about the cascading events that are once or twice removed from the cause.

For example, when oil production begins to decline, and there are fuel shortages and economic crisis, or wars, etc - will someone like "the top U.S. nuclear regulator" still say, "New York City area may be safely evacuated in the event of a Fukushima-like disaster at the Indian Point nuclear plant because a crisis would unfold slowly," ???

(I like your alias - it made me think "GetanExtraPairofHikingBootsandaHorse" but that is a little too long for an alias).

I think Greer's message is that the same skillset will apply to either (any) scenario on the individual and local level. He posits that the 'Green Wizard', monastical model has the best chance of being effective regardless of how things play out. How things play out on the macro scale is virtually impossible to prepare for.

How things play out on the macro scale is virtually impossible to prepare for.

This is often thrown up at doomers like myself, "You can't prepare for everything!" I quite agree which is why, I at least, am only interested in buying time in order to make unhurried decisions. I've lived in the boondocks for 37 years (tossing in my childhood, it's 49 years) and recognize that the idea of true self-sufficiency is unrealistic for the vast majority of people. At almost 73, it certainly is for me.

In survival training the first thing that is taught regarding a crisis is to stop whatever you are doing, sit down and think (then organize and plan - STOP). People who have no fall-back position will be forced to make quick decisions which will probably be wrong.


Edit to add: I will be starting an ongoing program at my Grange this spring -The Grange Center for Self-Reliance. There will be weekly, weekend classes organized around three categories; Wellness, Agriculture and Homesteading and More. The classes will cover everything from medicinal plants to food growing systems to alternative energy. There are so many good topics that it will be hard to fit them into a meaningful time frame. We're going to put these on for free so as to not exclude anyone (we will have a donation jar for those so inclined). The program fits in nicely with being prepared for a variety of futures.

Can you and your community have "sudden collapse" while surrounding communities are still functional?

SA, your comment started me thinking. Putting together Greer's lead article with the other items above, your question strikes a chord. We are so busy trying to survive, in one way or another, and living our lives that we fail to notice how austerity has impacted others. Or, seeing the results, we attribute it to some other mechanism than Peak Oil.

That is not to say there are not complexities at work here, and that Peak Oil is only one of them. What is overlooked by the MSM and those promoting BAU is that peaking of resources is a pervasive threat, and that it impacts all of those other converging crises with which our globe abounds today.

There is no recognition of the need to downsize to sustainable, and so blame is assessed to placate the masses in the vain hope that if we just do more of the same thing that created the problem, everything will be fine.

And that is without saying that we may be past being able to sustain at the present levels - a virtual certainty in my opinion. So that our real need is to find a way to survive a planned retreat as we are assaulted by the furies of nature that we are tempting.

The road to travel is not clear; our 'leaders' have lost their way. They are afraid, rightly so, of what little they can see. And, they know that the messenger is frequently vicitimized in the process of delivery.

Which is why I frequently say, "Strange species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed."


"We are so busy trying to survive, in one way or another, and living our lives that we fail to notice how austerity has impacted others."

Zaphod, i don't know which of your heads came up with this, but I agree completely. It is what I think of as the "fat and happy" syndrome.

(also, please save a seat for me on the Heart of Gold - I hope you have it idling near by ;)

I really like this one, too. The whole bit about Herman Daly, the free market, and industrialization was great. I never thought of it that way - about industrialization being another form of arbitrage - but it makes sense.

I think the idea that globalization is a reversal of the movement toward mechanization and automation that was a constant feature of industrialization is an important observation. The increasing cost of energy plus the benefit we've all grown used to means it's cheaper to use more human labor (in foreign lands - at the moment). Still trying to digest the implications, but I think it means we've passed peak industrialization. From here on the relative advantage of mechanization and automation relative to human labor will continue to decrease.


I think there may be a different reason why we now solve problems with massive amounts of underpaid labor that we might have solved with technology or innovation in the 20th century.

I do not think depleted resources can quite explain why free time has become such a disposable commodity, and everything takes longer now than it did 20 years ago, from booking an airline reservation to getting your phone service set up.

I think it's due, at least in part, to a kind of existential despair. The idea of limited resources is too horrifying; we deny it, even though we know we are lying to ourselves. But the fact of the lie eats away at us; we wind up hating each other and ourselves.

That's why we spend our lives toiling in windowless cubicle under fluorescent light-- or force others to do so. Why would we care when we've lost all self-respect as a species?

Greer wrote:

On the other side of the energy spectrum, those who insist that we can power some equivalent of our present industrial system on sun, wind, and other diffuse renewable sources have been equally vocal, and those of us who raise reasonable doubts about that insistence can count on being castigated as “doomers.” It’s probably not accidental that this particular chorus seems to go up in volume with every ethanol refinery or solar panel manufacturer that goes broke and every study showing that the numbers put forth to back some renewable energy scheme simply don’t add up.

As the proud owner of some stock in a solar company which just went bankrupt, I would like to point out that the main reason they went out of business was that their product (PV made in the USA) couldn't compete with solar panels cost more than the ones produced in China. That is to say, solar PV costs have dropped so fast on the world market that they could not compete, even though they had built a new, state of the art manufacturing plant. Also, they were caught by the banking problem, as the lack of lending made it difficult for them to find continued funds to service their debt.

So, solar PV is actually doing quite well, but that doesn't match Greer's thesis, so I think his comment is a bit off base. Once the Chinese have cornered the market for solar PV, they will stand to make lots of money selling them to the US, which will then be able to install enough of them to supply a large fraction of existing capacity. That to me does not imply a failure of the idea that renewables can't provide our needs, only an indication of success for the Chinese. And, the Chinese have been able to provide lots of products for other "high tech" markets as well, which are highly technical and automated as well...

E. Swanson

Eric, is this irony or what? Greer said "It’s probably not accidental that this particular chorus seems to go up in volume with every ethanol refinery or solar panel manufacturer that goes broke..." Yours went broke and your volume went up. Anyway you blame it all on cheap labor in China. Greer wrote:

That was what drove the "globalization" fad of the 1990s, after all: another round of arbitrage, in which huge profits were reaped off the difference between labor costs in industrial and nonindustrial countries. Very few people seem to have noticed that globalization involved a radical reversal of the movement toward greater automation—that is, the use of fossil fuel energy to replace human labor. When the cost of hiring a sweatshop laborer became less than the cost of paying for an equivalent amount of productive capacity in mechanical form, the arbitrage shifted into reverse; only the steep differentials in wage costs between the Third World and the industrial nations, and a vast amount of very cheap transport fuel, made it possible for the arbitrage to continue.

Now the Chinese have cornered the PV manufacturing market, or nearly so anyway, Greer's essay would be prophetic if it wasn't so obviously after the fact. Soooo... this seems to be the perfect example of: “the twilight of illusion,” the point at which the end of a historical process would be clearly visible if everybody wasn’t so busy finding reasons to look somewhere else. ;-)

Ron P.

How many solar panels could have been built with the money and resources used to build 64 million empty apartments in China?

I've been wondering if there is another motive. Maybe evacuating people from some of the existing big cities. It puzzles me.


or are they the city equivalent of chaff? hoping they are targeted rather then actual cities in a large strike?

The Chinese are screwed in a few decades when their population really starts to age. Huge amounts of elderly with no one to take care of them.

Depending on the color of the glasses you look at the world will depend on the answer to that question.

Those who think of Attack! believe that these are evacuation cities due to the other cities being bombed out rubble.

Those who think of rising sea levels see them as the place where the sea level evacuees go.

I'm sure somewhere someone's pitched this is where the political prisoners will be sent - but that one I've not heard pitched.

Those who think of rising sea levels see them as the place where the sea level evacuees go.

That may be true, also a whole lot of other possibilities such as when some of the mega cities become uninhabitable or population needs to be dispersed. Maybe a backup plan doesn't have to plan for a cause but a need.


The reason for the empty cities in China is far, far above *my* paygrade. And perhaps above all the regular posters here on TOD.

Downthread there was the 11+ million displaced from New York if the Indian Point reactor was to fail. How the US of A will deal with that is marshal law and mandatory X people for Y sq feet of space. China may have a plan - and that plan is these built out empty spaces.

Among the few businesses that do promise a decent return on investment are the ones involved in fossil fuel extraction, and so companies drilling for oil and natural gas in shale deposits—the latest fad in the fossil fuel field—have more capital than they know what to do with.

The financials of shale companies speak otherwise and since XOM bought XTO they have weakened considerably, too. Right now, CHK is resorting to atypical agreements with investors to raise money. With the frac fluids in a aquifer, you may see liquidity dry up. The world's largest shale gas producer may be in danger of bankruptcy in the next couple of years.

gog - And I'll add once again the "decent return" the shale gas players are seeing is when they sell their stock position. Early investors in Petrohawk made a great return on their investment. But by selling their stock for $12 billion...not producing their wells. In that case a $12B bird in the hand was worth a lot more than a few hundred wells in the bush.

And I remind folks of the offer I made (certain no one would accept) to several very knowledgeable Eagle Ford Shale players: instead of paying them cash for their undrilled EFS acreage I would use the money to pay for a big chunk of every well I drilled and would assign it to them FOR FREE. No one took the offer. IOW the folks (none of whom were public companies) who understood the play earlier/better than anyone else didn't want to own a piece of a well even if someone else paid for it. All they wanted was to cash out and go away.

Get past the fantasies of sudden collapse on the one hand,

I think he has advanced his own thinking by admitting, with the above statement, that much of what he has been saying has been wrong. Much of the stuff I've read of his has been in the apocalyptic thinking variety. It just doesn't work that way. People and economies adapt. Unless there there is some massive catastrophic event like a huge war that cuts off oil from the Persian gulf, there will be no sudden hard collapse. Instead families, governments, and businesses adapt. They buy less luxuries, they move closer to work, they buy smaller homes, they buy fuel efficient or electric vehicles, they stop buying the expensive imported food, they make their homes more energy efficient, etc.

We got by on much lower oil usage per capita in the past and we can do so in the future. It won't be a fun transition, but we'll manage.

I think he has advanced his own thinking by admitting, with the above statement, that much of what he has been saying has been wrong.

I think you have completely misread him. He has not changed his view. He's never believed in sudden collapse. This is the first thing I read of his, and it argues that collapse is not sudden. The Roman Empire, Crete, the Maya - they did not collapse suddenly. They took many decades, even centuries, to collapse.

I agree. Speculawyer has either misread Greer or not read him at all. His whole "brand" since forever has been slow (relative to Mad Max doomers) catabolic collapse. He has been extremely consistent over the years on this.

Maybe SL is confusing him with someone else.

Well times are surely different today than they were in ancient times. True, Rome took centuries for its economy to completely break down. But Greer is not exactly correct concerning the Maya, and perhaps others. For instance construction in Tikal suddenly ceased in 1869. Thirty years later the city was completely abandoned. There is evidence of a sudden uprising by the general population upon the priestly class.

The collapse of the city of Tikal happened almost overnight. Then city after city followed the same path. The total collapse took about 100 years overall. But for the residents of any one city it surely seemed like a sudden collapse.

Likewise there is evidence that the Easter Island society collapse was caused by a sudden uprising.

The governments of Libya and Egypt collapsed in less than one year. And if there had been no army or orderly government to replace the old they both could have collapsed into totally dysfunctional government, or non government might be more appropriate.

There is no law or rule that says collapse must take a very long time. No timeline can possibly be known beforehand. One can only speculate.

Ron P.

Things might change, but at least for now it's confusing to conflate the government collapses in Egypt and even Libya with something as drastic as the abandonment of entire countries by their populations. Those governments (like all others) were hardly irreplaceable, and there's no sign that, say, Cairo, is going to become any less crowded and chaotic as a result of the changeover.

Of course, cities are small and concentrated, and can be destroyed by fire, earthquake, or storm in almost an instant. Indeed, it happened to Pompeii. On the other hand that was a local matter with few if any larger implications, and it certainly did not collapse the Roman Empire.

So, yes, it's speculation - and a city, much less a whole country or empire, is not required to collapse slowly, but nor is it required to collapse quickly. The big entities mostly seem to go more slowly, maybe because (unlike the rather small Maya region) they tend to be diverse and less subject (as whole entities) to local droughts, floods, eruptions, etc.

Things might change, but at least for now it's confusing to conflate the government collapses in Egypt and even Libya with something as drastic as the abandonment of entire countries by their populations.

Paul to my knowledge no country was ever abandoned. Collapse and abandonment are two entirely different things. Tikal was a city, not a country. Cities were often abandoned after they collapsed because there was no food in the city. People moved out and tried to live off the land but mostly they just starved to death. At it's height the Mayan population was about 15 million. That was about the year 800 or perhaps closer to 850. By 950 their population had declined by 90 to 95 percent.

Ron P.

Things might change, but at least for now it's confusing to conflate the government collapses in Egypt and even Libya with something as drastic as the abandonment of entire countries by their populations.

Agreed. Financial collapse and political collapse are not the same thing as societal collapse. Not by a long shot.

Financial collapse and political collapse are not the same thing as societal collapse. Not by a long shot.

Oh for goodness sake! A well fed, financially well off state is always politically stable. There is never social unrest when everyone is well fed and politically satisfied. Political stability, financial stability and social stability are all three parts of exactly the same thing.

Hunger and financial hardship always causes political unrest. And if things get bad enough, if it causes financial collapse then it will most definitely cause social collapse. So what happens when social services break down? Suppose there was no money to pay police... what would happen?

"When law enforcement vanishes, all manner of violence breaks out: looting, settling old scores, ethnic cleansing, and petty warfare among gangs, warlords, and mafias. This was obvious in the remnants of Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and parts of Africa in the 1990s, but can also happen in countries with long tradition of civility. As young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin's anarchism. I laughed off my parents' argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. By 11:20 A.M. the first bank was robbed. By noon most downtown stores had closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that had competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist)."
Steven Pinker, "The Blank Slate" page 331.

Things can happen virtually overnight. To pretend that this is not the case is like burying one's head in the sand.

Ron P.

Political stability, financial stability and social stability are all three parts of exactly the same thing.

They may be connected. They are not the same thing.

The US was very politically unstable during the civil war. But it was not the beginning of collapse. It was the beginning of our ascent.

When Tainter, etc. talk about collapse, they are not talking about things like the regime change in Egypt or economic crises like the Great Depression. Those may be part of societal collapse, but they may just be a blip in a society's history.

They may be connected.

Hey, a partial concession from Leanan. That is a first, at least for me. ;-)

But seriously the things that are causing the current collapse, and future episodes of this collapse, have no relation whatsoever to collapses of the past. We live in a global community where things happen fast, very fast, compared to the slow pace of events of times past.

In times past the vast majority of the world lived in a rural setting. Labor was mostly human and the plow was pulled by animals. Nothing happened very fast.

But let the debate continue. I believe that eventually the collapse will happen very fast, though events leading up to that collapse will happen years apart. The US banking and real estate crisis happened in 2008. The European banking and financial crisis of some nations is happening right now, in 2011. But sometime in the near future I believe a world crisis will happen, then another then another, all within a matter of months, perhaps weeks.

We cannot use past agrarian societies and their slow collapse as a guide as to how fast the current world society may collapse.

Ron P.

We cannot use past agrarian societies and their slow collapse as a guide as to how fast the current world society may collapse.

Maybe. But I'm finding that argument much less compelling that it used to be. Partly because sudden collapse hasn't happened yet, despite $150 oil, various bursting bubbles, and political instability here and there.

I think the reverse might be true: our large, complex, interconnected society will stagger on much longer than a similar agrarian society would. It would certainly mesh with what we've seen in the past: larger societies collapse slower.

The other reason I don't find the "this time it's different" argument compelling is that...well, that argument tends to be wrong. People in general are terrible at predicting the future, and a big reason is that they fall for "this time it's different." Chances are, it's not different, and they could learn a lot by looking objectively at past experience - either their own or other people's. But most of us cannot do that.

The other reason I don't find the "this time it's different" argument compelling is that...well, that argument tends to be wrong.

Well no, ever time is always different. The problem with the "this time it's different" argument is that it is very seldom different enough. But it is always, always different. But just how much different? That is what throws people off. The situation is usually not different enough to seriously affect the outcome. But occasionally, but only occasionally, the argument is valid. If the situation is different enough, then the past can not be used as any kind of guide to the future.

So the question is: Just how different are we from the society of ancient Rome, or the Minoan Crete, or Mycenean Greece, or the Hittite Empire, or the Western Chou Empire, or Medieval Mesopotamia?

I rest my case.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

Pinker has a new book out.

Got your copy yet?

Hoping to get mine for Christmas, if not I will buy it the following week.

I agree -no time frame can be confidently predicted.

I can even envision scenarios that could realistically come to pass wherein certain parts of the world avoid a near to mid term collapse.Of course the odds are very high that ts is already in the f to such an extent that only extraordinarily good luck would allow any of these scenarios to play out.

I'm thinking seriously about a bunker of some sort-which might or might not be adequate to allow me and mine to survive the first few waves of starving, psychotic refugees from the cities if collapse happens over a very short time frame. After that, maybe we can get back to to the shovel, hoe, mule, and hand saw lifestyle my folks lived a century and a half ago. I'll have to steal a horse someplace and break it to harness and just hope some sniper sneaking into the community doesn't get me-but we Scots Irish hillbillies will be proactive if it comes to that.[My maternal grandfather habitually ate his peas with a knife.;-)]

I'm too old to plow or cut wood all day by hand by hand, but I can easily sit in a camouflaged tree stand all day with a scoped rifle, and I have a good eye and steady hands.There are little nieces and nephews who will be in desperate need of whatever this old coot can can hoard and grow or loot.

I will venture a wag that the odds of actually needing to do something of this nature within the next decade are not less than one in a hundred and perhaps as high as one in ten.I think the odds of finding ourselves living under an authoritarian government that shoots any potential trouble makers first and asks only a few cursory questions later are much higher-possibly as high as twenty five to fifty percent.

I take these things more seriously than I do fire insurance for instance.The odds of a house fire are actually very low here unless it is the owners fault due to lack of due caution and/or proper maintainence..

And while it may seem completely irrational, I'm not so sure I would be unhappy personally in such a situation.I would come into my own a community leader and have a lot to live for, whereas right now,I am looking at a little fishing, a little visiting, and a lot of reading in the sun or next to a nice fire, and mostly being useless to anybody except myself.

And as Greenish has put it, we have ringside seats for what will easily be the greatest spectacle in history, and if it's coming, we might as well enjoy seeing it!

Yes I know about Pinker's new book but I have not yet ordered it. Perhaps next month.

I am making no plans whatsoever. Way too old for that. And my kids and grandkids will not listen to a damn word I say. Their philosophy is that everything will continue as is, perhaps getting a little better or a little worse, but nothing drastic can possibly happen.

All I do is follow the data. A few years ago I predicted we will fall off the current plateau and that the decline in oil production will begin around the middle of 2012. Today I don't think I am very far off. But it is all just a guess.

Anyway that is my pastime, just watching TEOTWASWKI unfold. I am but an observer. And whether most people realize it or not, that is exactly what they are also. Many think they are making a difference. They are one in seven billion. That is the extent of the difference they are making.

Ron P.

Many think they are making a difference. They are one in seven billion. That is the extent of the difference they are making.

I disagree.

Best Hopes for Those That Try,


Here, here.

I know you disagree Alan, we have discussed this before. I respect your disagreement but I just don't think your efforts will make a difference outside your own family.

But like you, best hopes for those who try.

Ron P.

That's what is so baffling about some of your conclusions, Ron. You can actually see Alan involved in advocacy with numerous groups in the US and other Countries, working to advance Electric Freight and Streetcars, etc, and how various Cities and Rail Companies ARE in fact moving such plans forward... clearly, this work is extending far beyond 'just his family', with well explained repercussions for energy use and resilience. I don't pretend that Alan alone has made cities change their minds, but groups of people are pushing Muni's and Co's to pursue such goals, and Collectively, there is change working in that direction.

By similar example, Here In Halifax continually shows the work that he does, part of a group of people, working for a regional utility, and actually making a difference for a broad area's actual energy consumption..


It's interesting how resistant you seem to be when these detailed and factual examples are right in front of you, and you still insist that 'all people can do is work alone for their own families' good'. It's a strange disconnect, Ron.. while numerous people are clearly connecting and working successfully on pretty substantial projects, others doing so at least within their towns and cities, and so on.. most people aren't Islands, I'd say.

Jokuhl, I think Alan's efforts will be every bit as effective as anyone's. It is just that no one will prevent the collapse, in my opinion. If our government collapses, if social security checks don't go out, if bond principle and interest are never paid, if all government programs are shut down then all the electric trains and streetcars in the world will not make one bit of difference.

Of course the argument is that it will never come to this. But if it does then I hope you see my point.

Jokuhl, it is my belief that we are so deep into overshoot that collapse will happen despite all efforts to prop BAU up with solar, wind and electric trains. They will simply make no difference whatsoever. The problem is too many people for the earth to support. Collapse is unavoidable.

I do hope that makes my viewpoint clear.

Ron P.

then all the electric trains and streetcars in the world will not make one bit of difference.

I saw a montage of photos taken by Life Magazine in Hiroshima, a month after the A-bomb was dropped and as the first Occupation troops arrived. One photo was of an operating streetcar.

Japan was facing a complete social and economic collapse at that point. They were on the edge of famine.

Hiroshima had just had the heart of the city utterly and completely destroyed, 120,000 citizens killed, thousands more injured and sick.

Yet, that operating streetcar made at least one bit of a difference.

3rd of 14

Best Hopes for Mitigation,


An aerial reconnaissance photo 3 weeks after the bomb showed a steam train going through devastated Hiroshima.

8th of 9


That does make a clearer point.. but it still doesn't really clarify the overall objection, as you now change your point to say 'Can't prevent Collapse' instead of 'can only help your family' ... you can drive a truck (maybe a train..?) through the gap there.. which is just what efforts like Alan's are all about.

It's creating durable systems that can help keep various areas functional.. he's not claiming it will 'prevent collapse' or is propping up BAU. But there are some in these conversations that seem to paint 'Collapse' as if everything has fallen over, and stops moving. Trains can be made to run and can serve to put other systems back together, even after great disruptions.. I'd call that 'Making a Difference', even in the midst of Collapse, and probably helping to change the face of that downfall for the areas that have developed it..

That's what is so baffling about some of your conclusions

There is nothing baffling about Ron when you realise that the Ron posts are more ego driven than others here on TOD. Ron's posts are about Ron being "right" - look at the Leahan almost said she was wrong post. Then compare to when Ron has been shown to be ignorant and an attempt is made remove Ron's ignorance.


I would really like to think that you were wrong, yet it is clearly obvious to anyone who wants to look with a clear mind that you are not. Modern farming and transport are different to days of old. A sudden disruption there and everything falls to pieces, yet you debate with people who hope nothing bad happens.

When collapse happens in the modern world it will be swift. We may all hope that Greer is correct with the gradual decline, but reality of our situation clearly shows that a sudden 'elephant in the room' can bring catastrophe. All the talk about past collapses in places like Argentina, Russia or The Balkans does not give a clue to what happens when there is no outside help to eventually rescue the situation. In an energy constrained world with increasing population, that is where we are heading.

A sudden volcanoe (Katla), a war with Iran, a drought in the mid-west, it doesn't matter, something will bring the next "unexpected" step down, then swiftly followed by another, yet peak oil/energy/resources will never be blamed. The people have to believe in hope for the future.

I think it only looks sudden viewed through the lens of history. Tikal's collapse was not overnight. The last monument was erected in 869, but the collapse began decades earlier (and was perhaps exacerbated by the influx of refugees from other collapsing Mayan cities).

Similarly, the collapse of Easter Island took place over two or three generations - maybe 50-100 years.

I wonder how relevant the comparisons:

For the fragility of our Industrial civilization, see:

Nine Meals From Anarchy

Remember, Remember the 5th of September, 2000

See Niall Ferguson's America's 'Oh Sh*t!' Moment

Don’t call me a “declinist.” I really don’t believe the United States—or Western civilization, more generally—is in some kind of gradual, inexorable decline.

But that’s not because I am one of those incorrigible optimists...

In my view, civilizations don’t rise, fall, and then gently decline, as inevitably and predictably as the four seasons or the seven ages of man. History isn’t one smooth, parabolic curve after another. Its shape is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite suddenly drops off like a cliff...

I think Ferguson goes of the rails here, but I agree with his general point:

... The notion that civilizations don’t decline but collapse inspired the anthropologist Jared Diamond’s 2005 book, Collapse. But Diamond focused, fashionably, on man-made environmental disasters as the causes of collapse. As a historian, I take a broader view...

I take the opposite from that example (and I think that's where a lot of the "sudden collapse" theorists go wrong).

Yes, there can be times when there's unrest, chaos, empty store shelves. (Try living in Hawaii during a dockworker's strike.) But that doesn't mean it will spiral down until we're all living in caves.

Order is restored, and life goes on. And these periods of disruption give people a chance to adjust to the new reality.

As for Ferguson...he's interesting, but I think he's just plain wrong. I find Greer, Diamond and Tainter far more convincing.

But for the residents of any one city it surely seemed like a sudden collapse.

If you are shot in a local food riot and it is a fatal wound on your way to death it'll sure look like a fast collapse from your POV.

They buy less luxuries, they move closer to work, they buy smaller homes, they buy fuel efficient or electric vehicles, they stop buying the expensive imported food, they make their homes more energy efficient, etc.

Speculawyer how does one move closer to a non-existent job? Shadowstats has the current unemployment rate at about 22.5%. When the crude oil supply starts to drop then those figures will start to rise. We will hit 30%, then a few years later 40% then.... At what point does the disappearing tax base cause the government to default on its obligations? At what point does climbing unemployment cause the economy to collapse like a house of cards? At what point is "adaptation" no longer possible?

Ron P.

At what point is "adaptation" no longer possible?

At the point of death, or of such severe disability as to virtually amount to death. One problem here is that almost any trendline, extrapolated far enough out, will point towards absurdity instead of teaching us anything useful. Now, we do of course know that, say, military planners, need at least to consider the worst conceivable case. However, if they wallow in it to excess, they'll almost certainly misallocate resources so badly as to guarantee that they lose whatever war they're concerned about.

So, at this point in the thread, I'd suggest - yet again - meditating for a moment on why it is that US-oriented threads fairly often wander off into these weeds, while European ones hardly ever do (and this despite Europe being in a very bad way, arguably worse than the US.) Said meditation might teach us more about outdated American frontier mythology and the like than about anything else whatsoever. And given that realization, maybe we could change the subject from hand-wringing to coping and adapting...

And given that realization, maybe we could change the subject from hand-wringing to coping and adapting...

Adapting was the flipping point! That was exactly what the subject was. We are wallowing in excess, both America and Europe. But people are employed producing all that excess. If we stopped consuming so much junk, taking so many unneeded vacations, eating out, attending movies and such then tens of millions who produce that junk and provide all those services would be unemployed.

That is what is happening right now. It started in 2008 and is still happening.

How does a nation adapt to 30% unemployment? How does a nation adapt to 40% unemployment? How does a nation adapt to 50% unemployment? How does a nation adapt... The more economical, thrifty and frugal we become the more people are out of a job. That is the one point the frugality brigade seems to keep forgetting.

Ron P.

You might be right about the suddenness of a collapse or not...I do not know. I think things could happen fast financially but people and governments will step in to make sure that vthe subsequent suffering is minimized.

But anyway, I was reading in the NYT about a young man with a good college degree who couldn't get a job, I think he was 24. So what did he do? He started a business in Ohio to rent out sheep (he bought a few sheep first) as lawnmowers. He even lists his profession as "shepherd". So this is a cheap business and he's successful, though not blindingly rich. Now what happens if he starts to sell the meat from some sheep, and others watch...."hey, that isn't hard to do!" and they get ahold of some sheep, and start competing. One notices an old vacant parking lot, buys it and slowly turns it back into a field....Meanwhile all the people who are doing this can sell their mutton cheaper and fresher than oil-based agricultural competitors. And then there's wool, and people are starting to buy wool and make sweaters,it's another money saving option after all.

People have to start somewhere, and they have to have some business models that are based on the Sun. But once they get those business models, and believe me they are not difficult.....grass turns into sheep...these are the oldest business models in the world!....then people are all set. Of course, no one is goung to get rich, and shepherds won't have their own commuter airplanes and luxury Rolexes....but still, if the governments can slow down the collapse then it does buy time for people to catch on. And catching on is, as I said, pretty easy.

I don't doubt that hardship looms, but governments are pretty determined to slow down the fall with many plans. All sorts of tinkering they can do with taxes, money, etc. We can argue that it will be worse later, but it is, at any rate, later. And by then there may be more shepherds.

Speculawyer how does one move closer to a non-existent job? . . . At what point is "adaptation" no longer possible?

This may be hard to believe but us humans did survive for thousands of years with NO OIL AT ALL. (Perhaps people didn't work back then?) Of course it is a very different situation now with 7 billion people. But we can adapt to less oil. And a key part of the phrase there is 'less' . . . as we all know, peak oil is not about 'running out' of oil. Humans will still be pumping oil long after all of us are dead. And oil is just part of our energy mix. We have natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, hydropower, etc.

I'm not saying things are going to be business as usual. They are not. We are simply going to adapt. That is what is happening now and it will continue to happen.

There is a lot of fat in the system these days. We drive massive heavy beast vehicles. We demand to have things delivered overnight. We have a massive military that just doesn't need to be that big. We ship foods thousands of miles just to enjoy 'out-of-season' fruits/vegetables. These are all luxuries that can be cut back on significantly.

This may be hard to believe but us humans did survive for thousands of years with NO OIL AT ALL. (Perhaps people didn't work back then?) Of course it is a very different situation now with 7 billion people.

Speculawyer you acknowledge the problem. That is we now have seven billion people but when we survived for thousands of years without oil we had only a fraction of that amount. Then you completely ignore the problem of seven billion people, as if the mention of it allowed you to ignore it. It did not.

And to simply say "we can adapt" is the epitome of wishful thinking. Currently deserts are expanding, rivers are running dry, rain forest and dry forest are disappearing, inland lakes and seas are going dry, water tables are dropping all over the world, especially in the two most populated countries of China and India, topsoil is washing and blowing away and also being depleted by over use, ocean fisheries are disappearing, species are going extinct at a rate not experienced since the K/T extinction... and I could go on and on.

The point is we are not adapting even now. So when things get worse, very worse, as they will when oil production starts to seriously decline, why on earth do you think we will suddenly start to adapt then when we have failed to adapt so miserably for the last one hundred years????

Ron P.

Where I live most people are rejecting adaption. They still think in terms of the usual new car, the new furniture that isn’t necessary and the buying of heaps of plastic junk to give to their children at Christmas ‘because you can’t explain money tightening to children’. Anger is rising at the government’s increasing taxation demands and requirements for longer working times, not to mention job and services cutbacks, but these moves are seen as the price demanded for sustaining the greedy and incompetent bankers who are deemed to be responsible for all this. Not entirely untrue of course, but not the whole truth either, and since the media is more or less a propaganda machine for the establishment not too many subtle and differing explanations are offered. My essential observation is that people still have total confidence that growth and the good times will return; they don’t like the promised time frame, but they expect it nevertheless. Mention of energy and raw material supply stressing is still met with blank faces of incredulity and demands for the government to cut taxes on these essential goods and punish the supplying companies. The inference, when I try to explain that is isn’t as simple as that, is that I’m a bit weird.

Perhaps I am!

Then you completely ignore the problem of seven billion people, as if the mention of it allowed you to ignore it. It did not.

Did you not read the sentences that followed? I pointed out that we just going to have less oil, it is not running out any time soon. And we have other energy sources, that can help replace declining oil.

The point is we are not adapting even now. So when things get worse, very worse, as they will when oil production starts to seriously decline, why on earth do you think we will suddenly start to adapt then when we have failed to adapt so miserably for the last one hundred years????

How so? Are there lots of people starving in the USA? In Europe? I think the answer to your question is in the the question itself . . . the reason why we are not doing much yet is that most people are not feeling much suffering yet. Some are, but not most.

Look . . . I fully agree that things will not be be business as usual and there will be pain involved. It is the pain that brings about change.

I think this is just like all the people that wrongly predicted $300 or $500 per barrel oil prices . . . they did not fully consider feedback loops. The oil supply has been flat for 6 years now but prices are only at $100/barrel. Why didn't they go to $300? Because the high price changes the way people behaved. The same will happen as oil supply continues to weaken. It will change the way people behave. But we humans are not good planners and often too-optimistic . . . so we are going to have suffer before we change our ways.

I like to point to electric cars. People don't like them because they cost more up-front, they have short ranges, and they have long refueling times. Other than the early adopters, most people will continue to avoid them. But when gasoline starts costing $7/gallon (or something like that), they'll grudging start buying EVs. A limited 70 mile range beats having to walk to work. And if people start transitioning all light-duty vehicles from gas to electric, that could be done at a pace that is equal to oil depletion. EVs are certainly NOT "the answer" . . . just part of large collection of things that will change. Much more public transport, more trains, less suburbs, etc.

Peak oil is certainly a huge challenge. But humanity has dealt with black death, Flu pandemics, two world wars, a depression, etc. I think we can deal with peak oil. But we will not make an earnest effort to deal with it until it starts hitting us hard.

I think we can deal with peak oil. But we will not make an earnest effort to deal with it until it starts hitting us hard.

While millions of people are driving SUVs getting <20mpg when they could be driving vehicles getting 50mpg, or when people are buying 50mpg ICE vehicles when they could be buying PHEV or EVs using much cheaper electrical energy we know that gasoline prices are definitely not hitting hard. I think prices will have to be above $10/gallon (European prices) before the shift begins in US and >$20/gallon before the general public and auto manufactures start to plan for the end of vehicles that are 100% dependent on oil based fuel.
If the price increase is gradual the transition will be BAU, similar to the decline in tobacco smoking/ the decline in drive-in-movie theaters, film based photography,newspaper circulation. EVEN WITH BAU MILLIONS OF LIVES WILL BE DISRUPTED just as with other BAU transitions.
If rationing needs to be introduced(in US), the transition could be rapid with perhaps 20million ICE vehicles replaced by PHEV or EV per year, once manufactures re-tool. Is replacing the entire 220million ICE vehicle fleet in 10-20 years really a big issue or is it just BAU? Or are we to believe that people will abandon $200,000 suburban homes rather than replace a $30,000 SUV with a $40,000 PHEV or a $25,000 Prius or plu-in-prius?

Or are we to believe that people will abandon $200,000 suburban homes rather than replace a $30,000 SUV with a $40,000 PHEV or a $25,000 Prius or plu-in-prius?


The $300K Exurban house will not be worth $300K.

The mortgage company that foreclosed on it, and half the other homes in the development, cannot sell it.


Hi Alan,

As usual you are making another good point, this time about the value of far flung McMansions.It is certainly going to take a heck of a lot of energy to keep the far out 'burbs functioning, and values are certain to decline sharply.

But even if the price of such a house declines by eighty or ninety percent, somebody will still want to live in it if they can make living in it work.

Given the fact that alternate housing close in to, or within towns and cities, is in short or VERY short supply, new housing will have to be built unless former suburbanites live in tents and school gyms-which will no doubt be a common occurrence at various times and places.

Unless collapse is sudden and violent, as opposed to slow and torturous, which seems about equally likely to me, then people will find ways to make living in the 'burbs work in lots of cases, perhaps for a long time..

If I had five hundred million and a fire hose to turn on the safety nuts and zoning and building inspectors and the well meaning but without a clue environmentalists who are dead set on a car that runs super clean, I could start building cars within a year that would haul four people to work at forty mph and get eighty mpg.The ride might remind us of a third world bus, but we would get there.Such a car would not need to contain a single under patent component, and except for the body shell.It could be built entirely from off the shelf components readily available in the wholesale automobile and industrial machinery suppliers market in any quantity desired. Furthermore it could probably be built for half what the new cheapest car on the road costs, simply by downsizing and leaving off all the frills except seat belts, lights, and a heater-one coat of cheap but durable paint,no power accessories, no carpet, etc.Think updated and downsized Model A Ford.

The owner of a foreclosed suburban house may well buy it back, or lease it from the buyer who is his brother in law, and come to the conclusion that he can live with a ninety mpg motorcycle but without cable and high speed internet and health insurance-thereby enabling him to spend serious money-if he still has a job or can get signed up for energy welfare- on reducing his home's energy footprint.

If I owned such a house, and had no sort of criminal record, I would consider burning it for the insurance-I'm saying this of course to make the point that prices are going to collapse no doubt.

But a backyard and a garden spot and a storage shed and a couple of extra bedrooms that can be shared with a relative or an old friend who just happens to have a little money coming in every month is nothing to sneeze at -if you have a job and can get to it.You can buy a lot of insulation and and a heat pump for the price of an average new car, with money left over.

There is no uniform answer. A vast array of diverse adaptations will take place.

I think that a simple replacement of the SUV with an EV will NOT be the dominant response. See the fact that GM will miss it's sales target of just 10,000 Volts in 2011.

The overall desirability & demographics of Suburbia are shrinking. We clearly overbuilt Suburban McMansions in the last decade. Housing choices are subject to fads like everything else. Just ask (before 2008) any real estate agent about the "hot" part of town. Once Suburban McMansions are "out", this will accelerate the decline.

I question that alternative housing is in very short supply in the cities. I can think of several in New Orleans, and empty houses to take more are easy to find.

Building as much Urban Rail as the French are doing (adjusted for population) would create enough Transit to Orientate Development around for the 30% of Americans that want to live in TOD.

30% > TOD means 30% < Other housing. (In a post-Peak Oil World, I expect that more than 30% of Americans will want TOD).

And once the "Jack-o-Lantern" effect hits, meaning abandoned housing scattered along a street, the entire neighborhood often craters. Die-hards will hang on for a prolonged period, often till they die.

Best Hopes,


It would be great to afford you the resources to take a crack at building a prototype of your vision.

If TOD hosts a PayPal fund drive to sponsor your efforts, I'll kick in at least 50 ducks to get you rolling!

I did some very light Googling, and found some assertions:

- The Ford Model T got ~ 13-21 mpg, and at its cheapest, costed ~ $3200 in today's USD


- The VW Beetle Type 1 circa ~ 1946 got ~ 35 mpg...more modern Beetles got ~ 22-25 mpg


- The Tata Nano gets ~ 55 mpg (combined city/highway?), is contemporary, and as of ~ 2010 costs ~ 3,000 USD


All of these carry 4 people (not 4 super fat people!)

Even given relief from all regulations, building a 80 mpg vehicle carrying four adults at 40 mph costing ~ $5,000 USD (current) would be a fine achievement.

If TOD hosts a PayPal fund drive to sponsor your efforts, I'll kick in at least 50 ducks to get you rolling!

TOD needs to do nothing.

There exists a site called "Kickstarter" and the person seeking sponsorship can create a Kickstarter campaign. now if TOD wants to make a key post of the kickstarter - fine. But no need to use ebay's paypal or TOD resources.

are we to believe that people will abandon $200,000 suburban homes rather than replace a $30,000 SUV with a $40,000 PHEV

A little quick analysis of the situation. You are a suburban homeowner who has let some fly-by-night lender to give you enough money to buy a $200,000 home, and then borrowed against your new home to buy a $30,000 SUV.

Then gas prices go up, recession hits, the value of the house declines, you lose your job, and even if you had a low-paying job, you could not afford the gas to get to it.

You now have a $100,000 house that you owe $150,000 on and a used SUV worth $10,000 that you own $20,000 on. What are you going to do?

If you are rational, you are going to walk away from your house, walk away from your SUV, and find a cheap apartment in the inner city area with bus service (however crappy) and a low-paying job you can walk to.

This is the future for the more rational members of the 99%. The less rational ones will rely on drugs and alcohol for support. Only the 1% will buy EVs because they are the only ones who can afford them.

How so? Are there lots of people starving in the USA? In Europe? I think the answer to your question is in the the question itself . . . the reason why we are not doing much yet is that most people are not feeling much suffering yet. Some are, but not most.

That reply represents the very height of Anthropocentrism. Not just only humans matter but only American and European humans matter. The world is deep, deep into Overshoot. Look at the chart at this link. There are five opinions about adaptation. I am trying to pick out which one you represent. I think it is "CARGOISM". Some people have faith that technological progress will stave off major institutional change.

Ron P.

Yep, effectively we're facing increasing demands for energy to maintain homeostasis of our systems whilst at the same time suffering from increasing energy constraints and constraints on the typical sources of energy due to pollution. There are a lot of places which are quite vulnerable either to the environment or energy prices, even both. I suspect California is currently the poster child for a vulnerable place given the high levels of energy required to get around that massive sprawl and the vulnerability to disruptions to water supply.

Sometimes it is hard to tease out whether a resource constraint or energy constraint is to blame for a problem. If for instance Beijing suffers a water crisis is that because they don't have enough energy to draw water or desalinate, or is it because they have run out water due to environmental and consumption reasons? The line between energy and resource seems to be quite ambiguous in a lot of ways.

In general I must with Darwinian, but there are a lot of people who will do ok -not well at all by current standards of course -so long as collapse does not involve flat out war.

People who know something about plants and animals and trade work will have enough salvageable materials to take care of the basic needs of food, water, and shelter for a long time..There is plenty of water and already cleared and fenced land where the soil is good and the climate ideal for low tech subsistence farming. Ten or twenty million people could probably survive an industrial collapse in this country without starving or freezing if they get together in small communities and work together.

Lots of houses will stand for a hundred years with only minor repairs.

Life for survivors will be very very hard but they will get used to it.

I thought it was so readable and easy to accept I sent it to some of my fence sitting friends, those who understand intellectually there is a problem, but remain so busy and fixated on career path and busy busy business they are reluctant to really stop and think about implications of the day to day news grind.

I hope it provides a reasonable perspective/incentive for them to stop and take action that could help their families going forward.


Electrify a Mile of Railroad Every Night

A construction train designed to electrify 1.6 km every night.

... the infrastructure manager said the 23-vehicle High Output Plant System 'will revolutionise how railway lines are electrified'.


Now if we had 2 to 4 shifts working 16 to 24 hours/day, 5 to 7 days/week, and put a new train into service every couple of months ...

Best Hopes !!


PS: Another useful tool for Light Rail or Railroad electrification


Re: Soul in the Soil, up top:

Iowa farmland is in a manure bubble:

Polleman went on to tell him that Kaster was a neighbor to the farmland and owned 200 acres and a dairy operation.

“He needed a place to put his manure and needed more silage,” Newman said.

He said other buyers have used the rationale.

“A lot of the strong buyers have access to manure,” he said. “They need a place to put it, and it saves a lot of money in fertilizer costs.”


Every year come fall, I have to endure the stench as around 7 nearby hog factories clean out their manure pits. Some nights large rigs run by the house until midnight. The noise keeps me awake and I can’t open a window because of the stench.

I had hoped that the factory farms would have to shut down because of high corn prices, but no way. If anything they are growing. I underestimated the value of pig poop.

It turns out that fertilizer prices have made manure a profit center for hog farmers.

The video shows a slurry truck all clean and pretty. Good luck with that. Around here no slurry trucks are used. The manure is pumped into rigs directly and it dribbles on the road to the fields. The rigs are covered with it.

Most hog factories are owned by farmers with nearby land and they hire specialists that do nothing but clean out manure pits. It usually is a big show with several rigs and a lot of dirt and manure on the roads to the fields.

The idea that the rigs cover the manure is a joke. They cover some of it, but the fields stink for days afterward. Also I doubt much soil testing is done. What is the point? If the soil tests show excess fertilizer, the pit still has to be emptied anyway and there is only so much land available nearby on which to put it.

In some parts of the country, the manure is not knifed into the ground.

But now with land prices rising because of manure, I get some benefit from the noise and stench .

If you live in a rural area, you should get used to the roar of the tractors and the smell of manure. It's part of the rural ambiance. It's only Yuppies that expect farms to be odorless and noiseless.

I had hoped that the factory farms would have to shut down because of high corn prices, but no way.

Don't you self-identify as a corn farmer?

If so, you are part of the problem you are complaining about.

Ukraine electrifies another 7% of their rail network

National railway UZ has approved a five-year programme of electrification for 2011-16 covering 1562 km. At present 9877 km of the network is electrified, or 44% of total route length.


By my calculation, that will increase rail electrification to 51%.

Best Hopes for Catching Up with Ukraine,


A follow on to Tom Wipple's The Peak Oil Crisis: E=mc2 in the Drumbeat above ...

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) and MITRE Corp. are actively investigating the subject of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR).

An insightful and highly detailed explanation of this field from the inside was given in this interview with IARPA

Presentation, and Audio

It therefore seems worthwhile to offer an analogy to help nonspecialists see the distinction between "cold fusion" and LENR.

The concept of the unicorn comes from European folklore. In general, it closely resembles a horse. It looks like a horse, walks like a horse and, ahem, talks like a horse. But the unicorn has a single horn that is said to have magical powers. And one more thing: It is a mythical animal.

The concept of "cold fusion" developed out of the research of Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann and the community of researchers they inspired. But much like Columbus when he headed east from Spain and then thought he found a new way to India, Pons, Fleischmann and their followers were mistaken, but only partially.

The amount of heat generated from the Pons-Fleischmann discovery resembled a nuclear reaction. The tritium and helium produced were characteristic of a nuclear reaction. A research community developed as a result of the Pons-Fleischmann discovery. Central to this community is a utopian concept and hope for a world fueled by a new kind of clean nuclear reaction.

But there was a subtle but significant difference with the underlying physical mechanism: It was based primarily on weak interactions and neutron-capture processes, not fusion. Despite the growing body of experimental evidence that revealed this distinction, and despite all the attempts that Pons and Fleischmann's followers made to try to make LENR look like fusion, no amount of varnish could change the fact: "Cold fusion" too, was a myth. But LENR, which does not presume or assert a fusion mechanism, is real.

Workshop Report & Presentations: http://newenergytimes.com/v2/government/DTRA/2006-DTRA-LENR-Krivit-FOIA.pdf


I'm always glad to end the week with a good laugh from TOD: "The New York City area may be safely evacuated in the event of a Fukushima-like disaster at the Indian Point nuclear plant because a crisis would unfold slowly..."

I can just picture those millions of patient and unpanicked New Yorkers sitting at home watching the TV updates flow in from the developing melt down at Indian River. Switching back and forth between shots of escaping radioactive clouds from the plant and the "Tonight Show". Actually it's easier to imagine hundreds if not thousand killed in the crush to abandon the city. Then add what will happen to the city/people by the bad folks who stay behind.

New York City residents are a lot more patient than people who live elsewhere can imagine. They have to be. They put up with delays daily that would have people in LA or Minneapolis pulling out guns and going postal.

Indian Point isn't really that close to NYC. Especially as NYC folk see it. ;-) I have my doubts about whether it can be evacuated; the infrastructure is lacking, and so many people don't have cars in NYC. But I don't think there would be a lot of panic.

Well, 'Yes' and 'Yeah, sorta'...
I think 'we' New Yorkers are considered brusque because while I knew so many of my neighbors in the City to be truly full of heart and generosity, the lifestyle also doesn't leave room for dawdling or BS. You say your peace, or just make adequate eye-contact, then it's off to the next thing.

I remember talking to a friend's Aunt who was in building 2, smelled kerosene, heard there was a fire over in Bldg 1, and was going back to her desk until the PA system declared 'Everything is under control.. please remain at your desks and stay calm', at which point she and every other real New Yorker on the floor read the bureaucratic code accurately, and made their way immediately to the stairs to get the hell out of there. Good thing is, New Yorkers at least seem to know how to merge, and can manage being in a crowd.. Jerseyites or Bostonians in the mix, and you're probably done for. (Mainers wouldn't have even come in to work that day..)

"New Yorkers at least seem to know how to merge..."

Yeah, those ancient 50-foot-long merge lanes that still plunk them onto some expressways sort them into three categories: the quick, the dead, and the non-drivers. LOL.

I've been on a lot of them Paul, and never personally saw or became one of 'the dead' ..

I contend from experience both driving and doing extensive walking in NYC that it is a city with a lot of direct, daily experience with movement around lots of other hurtling asteroids, and people there have systems and reflexes that do some amazing things.

And I know you will never have filled your quota of making snipes at poor NY, so don't let me stop you..

Rock I agree, but in the sense of the Pink Floyd tune "Pigs" - "you're nearly a laugh, but you're really a cry."

The "U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko" sounds like he is a clone from TEPCO media relations:

"It’s unlikely a nuclear accident would require prompt action beyond “more than a few miles,” where the highest radiation levels would be, he said...."

Bigman, Pigman, ha-ha, charade you are. It sounds like they have no plans at all - or some half-baked plans based on imaginary circumstances that will never exist in our universe.

Although I think Leanan makes a good point about New Yorkers being more sheep-like in their patience (their zoo was more difficult to live in, they were conditioned to take it in stride, until it was part of their pride.... see also Pink Floyd's "Sheep").

sa- Bigman, Pigman, ha-ha, charade you are. - Indeed! It sounds like they have no plans at all - or some half-baked plans based on imaginary circumstances that will never exist in our universe. - How true. ...

It seems NRC's Jaczko holds NY and Connecticut citizens in lower regard than US PACCOM holds our soldiers. [All military were evacuated out to a 50 mile radius from Fukushima]

Gov. George E. Pataki ordered a review of Emergency Preparedness of Areas Adjacent to Indian Point ...

From the Executive Summary: Review of Emergency Preparedness of Areas Adjacent to Indian Point and Millstone

1 - The plans are built on compliance with regulations, rather than a strategy that leads to structures and systems to protect from radiation exposure.

2 - The plans appear based on the premise that people will comply with official government directions rather than acting in accordance with what they perceive to be their best interests.

3 - The plans do not consider the possible additional ramifications of a terrorist caused event.

4 - The plans do not consider the reality and impacts of spontaneous evacuation.

5 – Response exercises designed to test the plans are of limited use in identifying inadequacies and improving subsequent responses.

These planning problems are more serious because of the large population concentrations near the Indian Point plant, and when the effectiveness of the plan requires a degree of public and responder confidence that is largely absent.

... it is our conclusion that the current radiological response system and capabilities are not adequate to overcome their combined weight and protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point. We believe this is especially true if the release is faster or larger than the typical exercise scenario.

Plume information is currently not available through operable automation systems that can show the State and counties the precise areas that are at risk.

298,013 residents live in the 10-mile plume emergency planning zone.
972,748 residents live in the 20-mile plume emergency planning zone.
2,819,946 residents live in the 30-mile plume emergency planning zone.
7,150,492 residents live in the 40-mile plume emergency planning zone
11,782,401 residents live in the 50-mile plume emergency planning zone.

Full Report: Review of Emergency Preparedness of Areas Adjacent to Indian Point and Millstone

Evacuating New York City & New Jersey - Resources

The big problem is not moving people out of the 50 mile area, but finding places for 11.8 million people to stay.

I assume one or two suitcases per person and the goal is to get the majority of people out within 12 hours.

It is a matter of preparation (essentially zero AFAIK) and flow bottlenecks (and calm queuing).

Millions of people will self evacuate by car, going up and down the coast, but not up the Hudson Valley. Contraflow (in-bound lanes reversed) needs to be set up on the Interstates to get anywhere close to 3 million out in 12 hours.

JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports can evacuate large numbers of people if air travel is disrupted nationwide and much of the US aircraft fleet (preferably larger ones) take people "where ever".

Both JFK and Newark have rail access with dedicated rail systems. Transferring people from NJ Transit to Newark Airtrain and from NYC subways & LIRR to JFK AirTrain will be (IMHO) the bottlenecks, not the loading capacity of the airport gates. Supplemental bus service can help get around that bottleneck.

LaGuardia is served only by buses (and taxis).

Upper Long Island is outside the zone, and has Islip Airport to take people from temporary shelters within a few days. Long Island Railroad moves over 300,000 people every work day, almost all seated.

Standing room crowded and limited stop trains to various shelters should be able to move well over 200,000 people/hour. Bus shuttles could take some train loads to Islip Airport. After a night or four in shelters in Upper Long Island, LIRR trains could take the balance to Islip, as well as millions of Long Island residents that will want out.

MetroNorth can bring large numbers of people closer to Indian Point to New York City, for transfer further out.

Amtrak can take limited numbers of people out. NJ Transit can take more, and SEPTA (Philadelphia area) can increase the numbers even more. 500,000 people/hour south on the Northeast Corridor to Philadelphia seems reasonable.

North on the Northeast Corridor would see much lower #s, although diverting some MetroNorth equipment would increase the #s.

Buses could carry even more people, if any roads were not clogged..

I see the basic tools to move very large numbers of people quickly. I do not see the organization or planning to do so.


Wow... thanks Seraph.

We believe this is especially true if the release is faster or larger than the typical exercise scenario.

'typical excercise scenario' = "Plans that either come to naught, or Half-a-page of scribbled lines..."

I can just picture those millions of patient and unpanicked New Yorkers sitting at home watching the TV updates flow in from the developing melt down at Indian River.

LOL yea i wondered what reality he was from, or what he was taking and if i can have some since i am facing some hard times...

TK – Not a perfect model but it does point out the difference between projections and reality. Several years ago a hurricane was heading in Houston’s direction. Everyone knew about it for days. No panic…probably won’t hit us. Hmm…a little closer but no need to panic. Cr*p…it’s heading right for us. Now it’s panic time and maybe about 500,000 folks decided to leave town, I saw streets completely grid locked. And this is in flat town with at least 50 roads that lead away from the city. And a half dozen major highways. Growing up in New Orleans I knew it was way too early to panic. Turned out the storm missed the city for the most part. But 10 hours before it hit I was heading out of town for business anyway. Zero traffic on the highways. And for good reason: I passed tens of thousands of folks stranded on the highway after running out of gas. Folks that did make it to Dallas took up to 24 hours to make the normal 4 hour drive. Had the hurricane hit the area head on 100’s, maybe thousands, might have died being completely exposed trapped in their cars.

The difference between the potential evac of NYC: no notice for days; everyone in Houston has a car; 270 degrees to run away from the threat; decades of planning for such events. What’s in common: folks in Houston had just seen what had happened in New Orleans with Katrina so they were hard wired to panic; folks in NYC have gotten to see what happened in Japan so they are also hard wired for panic IMHO.

Just about every plan I’ve ever seen to deal with an emergency there was little correct expectation of human nature. And the authorities often assume they will control a situation. Didn’t work out so well in New Orleans: the authorities didn’t anticipate that many of the authorities who were expected to control the panic also panicked. At that point it was any man for himself. And that seldom works out well IMHO. Hopeflly the folks in NYC won't learn the reality of of "no problem evac."

Cambodia's home made Bamboo Trains to go away

With the rebuilding of the Cambodian rail system.

Revitalisation will bring to an end one of the more unusual forms of open access rail service, the 'bamboo trains'. These home-made vehicles with wooden frames supporting bamboo mats and powered by water pump engines transport freight such as fruit, vegetables and rice, and according to ADB the largest vehicles can carry up to 36 people. Speeds of 25 km/h are reached, and when two meet head on, the one with the lightest load is disassembled to let the other pass. The operators will be compensated to maintain their earnings and support a transition to road transport.


Few doomers imagine a future quite as terrible as the Cambodian past. Yet, the rail system there (and in Liberia during their horrible civil war) was used by entrepreneurs with home made rail cars. In Liberia, a group of villages joined together to preserve their "bamboo cars" and kept the rails from being sold for scrap.

Best Hopes for Minimal Transportation,


Exxon predicts influx of hybrids on roads

NEW YORK—Exxon Mobil Corp. expects to see more and more hybrids on the world’s roads, with gas-sipping models like the Toyota Prius making up half of all vehicles by 2040.

Isn't Exxon pretty much saying "Peak oil is real." with that statement?

Exxon expects that U.S. oil imports have peaked

"We actually believe that oil imports have reached a peak in the United States and there will be a steady decline," Bill Colton, Exxon Mobil's vice president of corporate strategic planning, said during the presentation of the company's annual energy forecast Thursday.

Exxon Mobil projected a decline in U.S. oil imports to seven million barrels of oil per day by 2040, with most of the foreign crude coming from Canada and Mexico. Imports from countries other than Canada and Mexico "will decline to almost zero," Colton said.

Among its conclusions: natural gas will gain market share, while coal will peak and begin a decline for the first time in modern history; also, gas from shale and other unconventional rock formations will account for 30% of global gas production by 2040.

Mexico may well be a net oil importer by 2040, if not long before then - their production has been in steep decline in recent years and their domestic consumption has risen considerably.

What Exxon is really saying is that by 2040, the US may be importing most of its oil from Canada. There is a very high probability that by then Canadian oil production will exceed US production, and almost all of the increase will go to export since Canada has a vast variety of energy alternatives which will be cheaper.

This will not be a problem for Exxon, since it owns a lot of oil assets in Canada with considerable future potential for development, but it may be a problem for the US consumer and US government.

The reason US oil imports will decline is not that American production will rise but that American consumers will not be able to afford as much imported oil as now. Most likely US oil production will be considerably lower by then, which implies that consumption (= production + imports) will be much, much lower than it is now.

Yair, Holden Volt about to go on sale here in Australia...at sixty grand.

Congressman Woodall's speech of 2011-12-02: Decline in USA Oil Production is fault of Bureaucrats is now available
Start at 48 minutes into this 2 hour You Tube video

The Peak Oil production chart goes up at about 1:00/1:45 into the video

I watched about 20 minutes of Woodall's speech, starting around 0:48 minutes into the video, quitting at the point where he begins talking about a flat tax. He begins by quoting Jimmy Carter's 1979 speech regarding the Energy Crisis and calls for the US to free up regulations on drilling, which he claims are keeping the US from Energy Independence. As might be expected from a Republican with an agenda, Woodall gets several things wrong. He suggests that Carter was the first to call for Energy Independence, missing the fact that Nixon started Project Independence after the 1973 Arab/OPEC Oil Embargo. Woodall also gets the dates on his US production chart wrong as well, the peak in US production occurred in 1970, with a later smaller peak due to the oil from the Alaska Pipeline arriving on the market. He fails to mention the fact that there were some 4000 drilling rigs working in the US in the early 1980's after the Iranian Crisis pushed world oil prices upwards and that there was a crash in the oil patch after the Saudis flooded the market in 1986. Of course, Woodall's "Drill, Baby, Drill" approach isn't unusual these days, as that has become the mantra of the conservative political fraction in US politics. Lastly, his call for reductions in regulation probably includes continuing to ignore the problem of global climate change.

Woodall notes that he was only 9 years old when Carter gave his speech, which might account for some of the inaccuracies in his historical presentation. As I've pointed out before, people born after about 1968 didn't experience the oil problems of the 1970's in a direct way, since they weren't old enough to drive cars until the middle 1980's, when gas prices were a lower concern. The younger generations aren't likely to understand our oil situation, especially given the lack of science education and our general disdain for those with science backgrounds...

E. Swanson

Lastly, his call for reductions in regulation ...

Black Dog,

Thank you for being a second witness to the insanity that I first saw in its live version.

We are living in truly deranged times, where message is more of what matters to the moo-cow masses than reality.

After all, here you have a "Congressman"; someone who is paid to be part of the government and he is hypocritically railing against government.
There will always be tension between a pull towards total anarchy and a push for totalitarian control. That is why the Founding Fathers thought up this "checks and balances" hopey changey thing. It sure beats maniacal monarchy as a means for governance. But Woodall and his "conservative" crowd yearn for the good old days of Royalty and Reign of Kings. Which is why they are trying to dismantle the Democratic government with one misguiding message after another. One brick at a time.

The basic mixed message that Woodall is pitching to his faithful is quite simple: Regulations= bad; Open range preying upon the moo-cow masses= good.

2010 spike in Greenland ice loss lifted bedrock, GPS reveals

An unusually hot melting season in 2010 accelerated ice loss in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons – and large portions of the island's bedrock rose an additional quarter of an inch in response.

"Pulses of extra melting and uplift imply that we'll experience pulses of extra sea level rise," he said. "The process is not really a steady process."

Southern Greenland stations that were very close to zones of heavy ice loss rose as much as 20 mm (about 0.79 inches) over the five months. Even stations that were located far away typically rose at least 5 mm (0.2 inches) during the course of the 2010 melting season. But stations in the North of Greenland barely moved at all.

Wonder if, over time, this has the potential to cause an earthquake/tsunami event on the East Coast/Maritime Provinces/UK/Northern Europe?

The answer is yes. Isostatic rebound is not a perfectly elastic response. Stress are building. This is only a matter of time before the energy is released. A few addition mm per year of rebound is an AMAZING response to load removal.

John Michael Greer: What Peak Oil Looks Like

If only descent were the frog in the gradually heated pot of water, that would be so wonderful, I can only hope he's right. The problem is that I collect discontinuities, and I can see ways in which regions from cities to nations can suffer abrupt downward spirals, harder and harder to get out of without cheap and abundant fossil fuels to rectify matters. The fragility of global trade can shatter local disasters into a world-wide avalanche as essential components of autos, computers, bridges, etc are no longer available.

Just consider 3 nuclear issues – war, electromagnetic pulses, and nuclear power plant meltdowns.

Nuclear winter: World-wide ozone loss from small nuclear war. 1 billion + deaths

Electromagnetic Pulse EMP from solar flares or high-altitude nuclear weapon explosion

Nuclear Power Plant Melt-downs, accidents, and failures

Going from 7 billion to half a billion or less people is going to happen globally every day in local places that will have regional and even global repercussions, via infrastructure falling apart (see ACSE report card), drought, flood, earthquake, famine, pandemic & disease, air & water pollution, malnutrition, civil war, local mafias, vigilante groups, mass migrations of people fleeing starvation and disasters, heat waves, food production decline from bioinvasions, topsoil loss, lack of oil to plant or harvest or distribute food, and so on. And as Gail so often points out, there's a financial side to all of this as well -- after future disasters governments at all levels won't have the "money" to fix things.

You could see this as a gradual erosion of living standards, but unless you are very lucky, there's a discontinuity coming your way and it won't seem gradual.


If only descent were the frog in the gradually heated pot of water, that would be so wonderful, I can only hope he's right.

I'm not so sure it's wonderful. I think it's possibly the worst outcome. It means we'll have a long time to trash the planet on the way down. All resources and capital converted to waste, as Greer put it.

I think it's possibly the worst outcome.

Likely true. If so, what does that imply about what activists hoping to improve the situation should do?

Greer again comes to mind: prepare to improvise. The future won't be like you imagine. No matter what you imagine. ;-)

I'm really hesitant to make any recommendations, because I see the future as extremely unpredictable, and it's so easy to make terrible decisions with the best of intentions. I guess I would encourage them to take the long view, and consider failure modes. We could be the Soviet Union in the future, or Iraq under Saddam. Nuclear might lose some of its appeal, if in the future we lose the knowledge or ability to maintain it or decommission it safely.

I agree, a fast crash is best, though it's very hard to let go of hoping for a more graceful descent.

A fast descent probably means we will never again be able to fabricate the machinery, metals, computer chips, and equipment to get at many of the remaining fossil fuel deposits, which are mostly in difficult places to get at.

I hope that forests somehow survive both the remaining people and climate change as wildfires burn boreal forests, drought converts the Amazon to grassland, and the survivors burn the landscape for increased soil fertility and herbivore forage and cut forests for shelter, cooking, and heating. (John Perlin's "A Forest Journey: The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization" is not only the best book on this topic, but a great read, hard to put down).

There'll be a lot less people, but also a lot less land that's habitable between desertification, rising sea levels, and vast areas we can't live on because the heat is beyond our ability to physiologically withstand it (and we won't have the energy to run air conditioners...)

I have friends with two boys, the kids are now well into their twenties. Since one of them loves martial arts and the other is a musician I told them when they were young that when they grew up the one should become a troubadour and entertain the rich robber barons and the other should become a warrior and use his skills to lead a war band to fight for what he needed.

Fifteen years ago I was only half joking; now I think I was offering very good career advice.

I posted this reply to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8680#comment-856407 in the "Geologic Resources Supply - Demand Model (GeRS-DeMo) tread" but it is off topic there, so i repost it here:

The number of sites talking about peak oil does increase. I have been following the number of hits that google delivers on a search for "peak oil" more or less regular since I found the oil drum and became peak oil aware in 2006.

Peak oil hits 2006-2011

The graph differs from google trends most notably during the last year, were the number of hits (sites) rises sharply, but search volume as reported by google trends stays low.

It is possible that this difference is due to the way the Googles trend search index is calculated:

"Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time"

So while my graph shows that the the absolute number of sites talking about peak oil is growing again, the google trends graph tells us the relative importance of peak oil as a search topic is still lower than in 2005.

There also appears to be a relation with major economic events. I have shaded the great recession (2008-2009) , the crash in late 2008 (small darker band) and the ongoing euro crisis.

For what it's worth I googled peak oil much more in the past. I still do occasionally to see what kind of coverage it's getting in the news, but now all of my essential peak oil and related news sites are in the favorites.

Again it goes back to this idea of limitless growth, which modern people are still attached to and can't let go of. Why would any Google search term keep increasing forever into the future? Eventually when enough people figure it out it would decline.

Now granted peak oil awareness is still low, but who knows, everybody who wants to be informed may be informed already.


It sometimes seems fun to laugh at this guy and think it's really quite funny.. but at the moment, I'm having trouble chuckling through the gagging.. I don't think he's right about a single thing he says, but clearly there are those who DO think he's all over it..

(Includes Video and Transcript)


Hi. I’m Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican senator from Oklahoma. Today I’m happy to bring you the good news about the complete collapse of the global warming movement and the failure of the Kyoto process, as world leaders meet for the United Nations global warming conference in Durban, South Africa. For the past decade, I have been the leader in the United States Senate standing up against global warming alarmism and cap and trade, which would have been the largest tax increase in the history of America. This victory is especially important today, as families in America and around the world continue to face really tough economic times. And tossing out any remote possibility of a U.N. global warming treaty is one of the most important things we can do for the economy.

I’m making this announcement from Washington, D.C., where I am confident that the only person left talking about global warming is me. The message from Washington to the U.N. delegates in South Africa is this, this week, could not be any clearer: you are being ignored.

As Chuck would say, from the very depths of humanity's soul..


(and yes, it could surely be corrected that he is 'right' about Kyoto failing.. but whatever.. the problem is real, and new climate discussions will surely keep coming, as much as Washington wants to keep punting them on down the field.. and he's been the only Member of Congress even to show up in Durban! The answer, my friends, is Swinging in the Breeze, the answer is swinging in the breeze)

the complete collapse of the global warming movement

Excellent! We should see things begin to cool off then. (i.e. it doesn't matter what he believes, his belief doesn't change anything)

The big cool off has begun indeed. Word is that Arctic sea ice area is increasing as we speak.

So much for Global Warming ;-) Wait... it's the middle of December...

Jane Fonda on this CNN video: "GOP Candidates Scare Me":


Blah blah blah - just the GOP candidates? No concern about the D candidate, who's policies are only distinguishable from the previous one by the rate at which he has advanced and extended them?

Pepsi, and Pepsi Lite.

'The Donald' has all the solutions ...

Trump: We Should Have Taken The Oil In Libya And In Iraq

... just not quite clear on the concept of a fungible global commodity.

And this is a really good reason why I'm glad that he isn't the president of the United States. I suspect it'll cost more in terms of burnt bridges than it'd have been worth. I don't think the Saudis for instance would take too kindly to an American take-over of any oil, possibly to the extent where they would try to kick them out of the country.

The USA needs one type of guy to handle its internal problems and a completely different type of guy to handle the international ones.

The hot air coming out of his oil-fed mouth is probably contributing some to global warming!

Yet another example of the crap that the Republican Party has become. I hope they all get voted out of office soon!

Prime Indonesian jungle to be cleared for palm oil

... Already excavators have started knocking down trees and churning up soil.

Drainage canals also have been built and villagers' drinking wells are already noticeably drier as result, they say. Security forces are deployed by the palm oil company along the perimeter of the forest, guns raised when anyone tries to enter.

Fifty years ago in Indonesia, more than three-quarters of the archipelagic nation of 240 million people was blanketed in tropical rain forest. But half those trees have since disappeared.

French bank ratings downgraded again by Moody's

Credit rating agency Moody's has downgraded France's three big banks due to their difficulty borrowing money. The move follows a previous rating cut by Moody's for Credit Agricole and Societe Generale in September. "Liquidity and funding conditions have deteriorated significantly" for each of the banks, Moody's said, adding that the problem was likely to worsen.

The latest downgrades follow a review launched by Moody's immediately after the previous downgrades, "to consider the implications of the persistent fragility in the bank financing markets, given the banks' continued reliance on wholesale funding".

Eurozone banks have also found it particularly hard to maintain their borrowing in US dollars, as many US money market funds have refused to lend to them since the summer. Last week, the problem prompted the European Central Bank, the US Federal Reserve and four other major central banks to agree to help each other provide cheap emergency loans to their banks in each other's currencies.

The surprise move sparked speculation that one or more major European banks may have been on the point of collapse.

Ex-Chief of Japan Nuclear Plant has Cancer

TOKYO — The former chief of Japan's [Fukushima] crippled nuclear plant, who left the job last week, has cancer of the esophagus, TEPCO said Friday, adding it was unlikely to be linked to radiation exposure.

Masao Yoshida, 56, had been based at the plant since Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster sparked reactor meltdowns, until he was suddenly hospitalised in late November.

TEPCO believes "it is extremely unlikely that his disease was caused by radiation exposure," she said, citing the advice of a doctor at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences.

also Residents exposed to high doses of radiation

and Radiation levels in Koriyama children exceed annual limit: survey

Wow. I've now heard of at least 3 of these stories about people who have hung around that area now have cancer. And, yes, you can't conclusively directly link any of these to the accident. (And it seems a bit early.) But it does seem a bit odd.

I eagerly look forward to scientific epidemiology studies.

Some say he has multiple cancers.

Here's a TEPCO video. Ex Plant Director Masao Yoshida appears near the start. Take a look at his neck as he speaks. Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgqRB6QrwCQ


"Baseless Rumors": Japanese Twitterers Do Not Believe Yoshida's Cancer is in the Esophagus

Partly because of distrust of anything that comes out of the mouth of any TEPCO/government person, but also because of a TEPCO video in which Yoshida appeared to explain to the viewers the then-current situation at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

They think they see a bulge on the left side of his neck, and they think it is either thyroid or lymph node.

Why did a Scottish wind turbine explode in high winds?

This striking image of a wind turbine in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland as it exploded in high winds has made headline news. The turbine was destroyed yesterday as the region was battered by winds of up to 260km/h when a ferocious Atlantic storm powered into northern parts of the UK. But what caused the explosion?

An amateur video shows the turbine head spinning on its axis and one turbine blade apparently losing its carbon composite skin before the fire starts.

The accident is now under investigation by Vestas and the wind farm's operator, Infinis of Edinburgh, UK. Infinis says that the site has been disconnected (PDF) from the grid as a "precautionary measure" while it investigates the cause of the blaze.

Global forecast models are trending towards a succession of very strong storms to hit the UK next week. One on Tuesday and another on Friday. Could be an interesting week ahead if the models verify.

And possibly more to follow in long range trends...

I hate high wind even more than fog. I’ll be driving every night next week; falling trees are my biggest fear.

Euro crisis: US General Martin Dempsey Warns of Unrest

The top US military commander, Gen Martin Dempsey, says he is concerned about "the potential for civil unrest" as Europe's financial crisis unfolds.

Gen Dempsey said it was unclear the latest steps taken by EU leaders would be enough to hold the eurozone together, adding that a break-up could have consequences for the Pentagon.

... He suggested that part of his concern was that the US military could be exposed to any unravelling of the eurozone "because of the potential for civil unrest and the break-up of the union".

What a herky jerky world in which we live. One week the EU is apparently ready to falter and stocks drop dramatically, followed by a high level meeting of EU leaders with some kind of half bit agreement in hand, causing stocks to rebound. And now this article suggesting things are still apparently headed for an EU unraveling. Is it really that complicated?

I've drawn the conclusion that these high level EU agreements are simply being orchestrated to offer up the appearance to investors that the situation is well in hand, when in fact there is no viable way to fiscally secure the situation.

A LENR article wow.

For those interested in the background. There are two types of LENR. Deuterium and palladium, this is the favorite in the US. It has solid science results from SRI and Naval Research both in California. It has never produced over 40 watts in an experiment as far as I know. I know of no company working to commercialize it. It is studied in the US. There is no established theory.

Then there is hydrogen on nickel, this is done mostly in Europe and Japan but also by Lattice Energy LLC in Chicago. Several claim large energy production. There is a theory (partial at best in my opinion) the Wisdom and Larsen Theory. Larsen is the founder of Lattice Energy LLC. There is a company in Greece, Defkalion Energy, that says it has working prototypes in the 5KW range. They do have a nice website.

My take:
At this point D+Pd is proved at low energy levels.
H+Ni remains to be proved.

I have gotten tired of waiting on H+Ni. I have Ni powder on order and will try it myself.


What is your take on the applicability/scalability of LENR technology?

Let's posit that certain LENR phenomena produce net energy...are we talking about a few watts per machine?

Even if we posit 5KW net electricity production per device, or even scalability to 5MW per device, how much palladium, or even nickel, would be required to power current U.S. annual electricity demand?

I'm more interested in the regular poster Darwininan who made a one line reply 'its cold fusion' position.

Because I asked for details as to what was ment then.

I don't expect him to, but I'll bite:
No theory, no reproducible results, not worth the bytes to debunk it for the hundredth time.

Besides a ship cancellation, I read that Frontline sold five ships this week to Frontline 2012. That makes 7 ships this past quarter that Fredriksen has moved from one of his companies to another. Another tanker company cannot get anymore credit from the banks until they sell a few tankers. I am guessing they don't have a guy with deep pockets that can start another company and buy these tankers. Anyway, I might take a shine to following shipbuilders this coming year.

Daewoo Shipbuilding says European client cancels order

It was the first cancellation this year for Daewoo, one of South Korea's top shipbuilders. The company said the deal was valued at 589.3 billion Korean won ($520.8 million).

An industry source said the pulled order was from a Greek ship owner.

Daewoo said in a regulatory filing the order for two very large crude carrier (VLCC) oil tankers and two bulk carriers, placed in 2008 at the height of a shipping boom, was cancelled because its client failed to make a payment.

I have waited to see if anyone has a comment about the article cited above by Leanan: E.P.A. Links Tainted Water in Wyoming to Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

This topic has been discussed many times before, and the basic conclusions I have are:

Accidents will happen regardless of regulations.

Hydraulic fracking will continue as long as it is considered worthwhile.

Various other harmful environmental impacts will result.

JWS - I threw out some of my "words of wisdom" on the article.