Drumbeat: December 12, 2011

China refines overseas oil grab strategy

DOHA (Reuters) - Chinese oil companies are changing their approach to investing in oil and gas projects overseas, placing more emphasis on community development and less on Beijing's political goals.

Over the past decade, China's state-controlled energy giants have been the most prolific buyers of oil and gas companies and fields internationally, spurred by a government policy to secure resources to fuel the country's economic boom.

But the companies have been accused of linking their help for less developed nations to the sale of energy assets and of cosying up to pariah regimes.

Oil Falls on Europe’s Sovereign Debt Crisis as Moody’s to Review Ratings

Oil fell, extending last week’s decline, on concern the European debt crisis may spread and as Moody’s Investors Service said it will review ratings for countries in the region.

Futures dropped as much as 1.5 percent in New York, adding to the 1.5 percent loss in the five days to Dec. 9. Last week’s European Union summit offered few new measures and doesn’t diminish the risk of credit-ranking revisions, Moody’s said today. EU leaders will have to quickly implement an agreement to strengthen budget rules to regain market confidence, according to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

Oil to Drop Below $100 Easing Pressure on OPEC to Up Output: Survey

Benchmark crude oil prices may continue to drop below $100 a barrel, easing pressure on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to raise output at its meeting this Wednesday, CNBC's weekly survey showed.

Iran Wants OPEC to Adjust Output for Increased Libya, Iraq Oil, Mehr Says

Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said some OPEC members should curtail output to accommodate the return of Libyan crude to markets and an increase in Iraqi production, the state-run Mehr news agency reported.

Iran may now rank first in world in natural gas reserves

Iran may rank first in the world in terms of gas reserves following the discovery of a new reservoir in the Caspian Sea, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said Sunday.

Also, the European Union "definitely" will not impose sanctions on OPEC member Iran's oil exports because such a measure would harm the global crude market, said Qasemi.

Oil power struggle as U.S. leaves Iraq

Erbil, Iraq (CNN) -- Along the road in the semi-autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan frozen oil bleeds out of the rock face.

For Todd Kozel, CEO of the independent oil and gas exploration and production company Gulf Keystone, it was an irresistible lure at the time few were daring to invest in Kurdistan.

But not all is well in Kurdistan and old arguments with Baghdad over oil power and revenue are likely to loom large as U.S. forces withdraw from the country.

Syrian opposition: 'Massacre' could follow deadline

(CNN) -- Syrian residents in the city of Homs face a deadline to stop anti-government protests, hand in weapons and surrender defecting military members by Monday night -- or face attack by the government forces, an opposition leader said.

Calgary’s Suncor stops doing business in Syria

CALGARY — As violence escalated in Syria’s nine-month-old civil war Sunday, Calgary’s Suncor Energy said it was suspending its operations at the Elba natural gas plant in the city of Homs that’s been the scene of some of the worst clashes.

Medvedev Orders Russia Vote-Fraud Probe

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation of alleged parliamentary election fraud after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faced the biggest protests in his 12 years in power.

Gazprom eyeing Zambia exploration

Gazprom has said it is interested in exploring for hydrocarbons in Zambia during political talks between the country's president and a top Russian envoy.

Cooperation the key word at Doha Congress

The 20th World Petroleum Congress in Doha ended on December 8 and reporters agree that it has been a success all round. The conference was attended by more than 5,000 government and industry delegates and media representatives, many from the highest level.

It was the first time an oil-producing country from the ranks of Opec hosted the congress and the first time for an Arab country to do so.

Oil cyber-attacks could cost lives, Shell warns

The oil industry has been warned that cyber-attacks could "cost lives" and cause "huge damage".

Ludolf Luehmann, an IT manager for Shell, told the World Petroleum Conference in Doha that the company had suffered an increased number of attacks.

He said the hacks had been motivated by both commercial and criminal intent.

Sinopec Agrees to Increase Australian LNG Project stake to 25 Percent

China Petrochemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, agreed to invest an estimated $1 billion to increase its stake in an Australian liquefied natural gas project led by ConocoPhillips (COP) and Origin (ORG) Energy Ltd.

ConocoPhillips makes N.Sea gas find, tests needed

Reuters) - ConocoPhillips has made a gas find in the southern North Sea near BP's Ula oil and gas field, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Monday, but more tests are needed to see if the shallow-water discovery is worth developing.

Wyoming’s Tainted Water Puts Pressure on EPA to Act on Gas Fracking

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report linking hydraulic fracturing for natural gas to groundwater contamination for the first time puts pressure on the agency to move sooner on efforts to regulate drilling.

Encana throws cold water on EPA report

Encana has lashed out at what it termed an “irresponsible” official draft report linking water contamination in the US to its hydraulic fracturing activities.

TNK-BP in '$6bn Arctic spend'

The board of BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP has “pushed the button” on a $6 billion investment in new Arctic fields, according to a report.

'Biggest world bankruptcy, yet to come'

It's creating more debt. They're really not paying anything off. I don't think the world, the Central bankers ever intended to pay anything off.

I think that they thought that they could keep doing this forever but we know, you've heard of peak oil. Well, there is also peak debt and I think we're running up against peak debt. Ultimately, I think what we'll have is a pretty big currency crisis, a collapse.

And ultimately, I think the biggest collapse; the biggest bankruptcy in the world would be the loss of world reserve currency for the United States of America. When that will happen- I don't know.

Report: Land development has proceeded apace over the last 20 years

The report concludes with four recommendations. They are that with peak oil and global warming upon us the legislature should appoint an independent commission to study what is a long term sustainable population for our state, Vermont should move to a steady-state economy because a growth forever economy is unsustainable, environmental organizations and agencies should acknowledge the population growth factor in addressing environmental issues, and that because the temperature is rising so rapidly Vermont should act quickly and boldly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumer Reports: Leaf and Volt cheaper to run than gasoline cars

On Thursday, Consumer Reports released figures from testing the Leaf and Volt showing that both have lower per-mile operating costs than gasoline cars. The savings come from the higher efficiency of electric vehicles, and the lower relative cost for electricity versus gasoline. Their calculations left out a few cost-of-ownership factors, but it is in line with other studies of electric vehicle operating costs. For example a few months ago the New Zealand government declared the iMiev (the only production electric car being imported to that country) was the cheapest to operate.

BMW Says It’s Talking With GM on Fuel-Cell Vehicle Technology

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s largest maker of luxury cars, says it’s in talks with General Motors Co. about cooperating on fuel-cell technology.

Climate conference approves landmark deal

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — A U.N. climate conference reached a hard-fought agreement Sunday on a far-reaching program meant to set a new course for the global fight against climate change.

The 194-party conference agreed to start negotiations on a new accord that would ensure that countries will be legally bound to carry out any pledges they make. It would take effect by 2020 at the latest.

U.N. Global-Warming Talks: Good for Diplomats, Indifferent for the Climate

It’s true that negotiators from more than 190 countries did manage to reach agreement at Durban, one that — if looked at optimistically — moves the ball forward on international climate action. But for all the hours of negotiation, for all the anger and frustration, little was definitively accomplished at Durban — certainly not enough to make a dent in the rate of global warming.

EU Set to Discuss Deepening CO2 Cut Goal After China, India Pledge Action

The European Union is set to resume talks early next year about moving to a stricter carbon goal after countries worldwide backed its plan to start work toward a climate treaty that would be enacted in 2020 at the latest.

Emirates to profit in global fight against climate change

An 11th-hour Kyoto Protocol deal between the world's top polluters breathes new life into the UAE's plans to cut emissions.

Obama Winning Climate Debate as China Listens

The U.S., long accused of blocking progress in international climate talks, is winning a two-decade old debate about how to curtail global warming.

The decision yesterday by China and India to move toward an agreement with the “legal force” to limit their fossil fuel emissions marked the first step toward treating developing nations the same as industrial ones when it comes to reducing pollution.

In Glare of Climate Talks, Taking On Too Great a Task

DURBAN, South Africa — For 17 years, officials from nearly 200 countries have gathered under the auspices of the United Nations to try to deal with one of the most vexing questions of our era — how to slow the heating of the planet.

Every year they leave a trail of disillusion and discontent, particularly among the poorest nations and those most vulnerable to rising seas and spreading deserts. Every year they fail to significantly advance their own stated goal of keeping the average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels.

Farewell Kyoto Protocol, you did your job

In 1997, the industrialized world — save for Bill Clinton's America — promised to roll back climate-changing, GHG emissions to pre-1990 levels by 2012, and these countries have pretty much met that goal.

Welcome to the new Arctic

Melting ice is beginning to transform the world's shipping routes. But will it launch a new Cold War?

Often when I read the daily Drumbeat, I wonder if the next generation or two of humanity will be the very last that will ever live on this planet. After that, extinction seems inevitable. Anyone who defiantly tries to continue living will have to live in containment chambers which are sealed off from the thoroughly ruined environment and atmosphere.

Is it just me or is anyone else here consumed everyday with the question about whether life is even worth living, and a legacy worth leaving, when extinction is so near at hand? What does it matter anymore?

I think you overstate the danger of extinction. Not to say that massive die off won't occur. That is a frighteningly likely event; there are so many ways that it could happen, just considering the natural consequences of our collective misdeeds vis-a-vis the climate and economy. Even with the worst case envisioned, though, I know no scientist who contemplates total extinction.


Yeah, Craig, humans have survived ice ages and super volcanos. I'm not sure what makes this time different. Of course, all out nuclear war or runaway greenhouse warming may mean only a few survive somewhere like southern Patagonia. What's clear is that the planet won't continue to support 7 billion+ humans. At some point the herd will be dramatically culled.

Exactly, Chung. And, like all species, we will evolve. Does anyone think we are exempt from that?

More than likely, with large scale collapse, we will see pockets of humans on the various continents; each will evolve in its own way until some day, maybe 250K or more years hence, there may well be four or five distinct sub species, as different frome each other as we are from chimpanzees. Not sure that intelligence will be a survival factor though. It could be contra-survival as far as I can tell from my vantage point in the present.

Best hopes for the future.


More than likely, with large scale collapse, we will see pockets of humans on the various continents; each will evolve in its own way until some day, maybe 250K or more years hence,

So in this collapse all the word maps will disappear? The knowledge of making steel hulled boats will be lost under the tsunami of change?

No need or desire for trade?

and the diesel hilux shall be worshiped as it is the provider of movement to all who shall toil and render the grasses and fatty meats of the land into a fluid to awaken it, yea i say unto thee

Given a reduction to "a mere 1,000" breeding pairs in any locale, we might surmise the lack of maps, steel hulled boats and desire for world trade. Consider about 70KYA:


Those 10,000 or so folks who survive (at a given place or on a given island or continent) might be more concerned with lack of steel tipped arrows, automatic weapons, and farm implements. So, yes, a large scale collapse might well result in loss of technology. It is precisely this that should alarm us, and it is to prevent such a loss that we should devote our talents and efforts today.


Doubtful. Humans traversed most of the globe in wooden canoes. Trade and the intermingling of genes will resume in fairly short order.

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Hardly a new proverb. IMHO, always good advise.

Enjoy it while you can. Life comes in limited quantities and never with guarantees.

Sounds like you are at stage 4 in the Kübler-Ross model Mr. shox.
Move on to stage 5 :-) It's warmer there, sure, but we'll muddle through.

From the all-knowing wikipedia, edited heavily, of course:

Denial — "Everthing is fine."; "This can't be happening, not to us."
Denial is usually only a temporary defense.

Anger — "Why? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen?"; '"Who is to blame?"
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue.

Bargaining — "I'll do anything to keep things the way they are."; "If we just make compromises and change behavior, we're good." The third stage involves the hope that we can somehow postpone or delay outcomes.

Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "What's the point?";
During the fourth stage, the affected people / individual begins to understand certainty.

Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with the outcome.

Sometimes it cycles through more than once.

I also think - since H.sap is supposedly the "intelligent" species - that we have a basic responsibility to choose to do something about it, since we created the mess, instead of throwing up our hands and just riding along, trying to pretend that what we do doesn't matter.

Clearly, what we do, have done, and will do, does matter.

Sign up to do some volunteer work - work at a food pantry, donate a winter coat, work with kids, plant a garden, support a wildlife fund.

Do just about anything instead of sitting in the dark crying over spilled milk.


I have an unhappy tendency to invent trouble dreams. Instead of letting me sleep pleasantly like a normal human, my brain grabs the opportunity to get down to serious work and crank out a big bother. Here’s an example.

I am driving a bus full of kids. The kids are horsing around like kids, paying no attention to me. All is hotsy-totsy.

The radio, tuned to the bus advisory, suddenly blinks my code and says “There’s a big blockage across the road half a mile ahead, better slow down”

I speed up.. The radio says “ That boulder is really big, and you had better SLOW DOWN or you are gonna hit it.”

I speed up a lot more. Radio yells “Hit those brakes HARD, NOW!”

I slam the pedal to the metal. I mean the accelerator pedal, not the brake pedal.

A couple of the kids immediately behind me glance out the window, see what is about to happen, and let out a big scream. I drop dead of a heart attack. The kids rush forward to try to stop the bus. Way too late. The bus slams into the boulder , throttle wide open . Everybody dies.

Dead silence, and I mean DEAD.

I wake up all sweaty and breathing hard. Why do I do this kind of thing to myself? Anyhow, like most of my dreams, this one is simple to decipher.

the bus is the planet
I am the people in charge
the kids are the kids
the boulder is global warming
the radio is the scientists
the gas pedal is CO2 production
dead is dead.

"work at a food pantry, donate a winter coat, work with kids, plant a garden, support a wildlife fund"

All good things to do, but don't dismiss the importance of having moments, even hours..., of deep reflection on how we got here. If ever there was a time for such deep reflection, even for a good bit of penance, surely this is it.

Perhaps it is time for less doing and more simple being--time to stop and ask deep questions about our selves and our individual and collective purpose. Americans are generally averse to such 'navel gazing,' but I think this is exactly part of the secret of our inability to rein in our consumptive ways.

Rushing off to do some 'good' may well make us feel better for a while, but it is not likely to bring us closer to a true understanding and reconsideration of our role in the world, an understanding without which we are certain to continue to recapitulate our worst mistakes.

Well, yes and no.

I certainly agree that a degree of introspection is required to understand how we got where we are. That does require an element of factual input, though, which seems to be in somewhat short supply.

Doing "good" takes one out of the usual consumptive frame of reference - rushing around to accommodate one's own needs - and puts one more in tune with the needs of others, including other species.

Even an alley cleanup or a river-bank weeding project takes one away from the realm of modern media long enough to appreciate a different kind of existence. That practical experience often does a lot to change a frame of reference.

Don't get me wrong. I do such projects all the time, and engage others to do the same.

But I like to add plenty of, as you put it, 'factual input' as well as deep open ended questions for discussion and reflection.

Practical experience can change frames of reference, but they can also lead to smug satisfaction that 'I've done my part; other people are the problem..." In some cases, they can lead to exacerbation of the problem at hand, especially if you are so busy treating 'symptoms' that you fail to see and address the deeper causes of the problems.

But yes, anything to get people out of their consumptive frames of reference and patterns of behavior can be valuable.

Yeah - smug satisfaction is about as bad as apathy.

work at a food pantry, donate a winter coat, work with kids

Charity is not solidarity. Charity is the rich or comfy giving to the poor as they see fit, on their time, their dime.

It is soup kitchens with pleasant yet domineering women handing out boiled veggies and feeling good, see Victorian times.

Donating an old winter coat, used, is like insulting the poor. (Unfortunately.) Ask any kid today who has had to wear second hand clothes, old coats, shoes. Or worn out trainers. Or not have basic hygiene products provided.

Work with kids - why not? However, if the community, State took care of children, or parents were supplied with what is needed, there would be no ‘demand’ for individuals to work with them. Kids are the future, right?

Solidarity is doing one’s very best to craft a system where basic rights, to some level of food, clothing, housing, security, education, egalitarian law for all, is set up, ensured, respected, and works.

plant a garden, support a wildlife fund

These are two different points. In any case, another topic.

"Donating an old winter coat, used, is like insulting the poor. (Unfortunately.)"

We just did a collection in the neighborhood for a family who had a fire at their home and lost pretty much everything. While they may have felt ashamed to have to ask, I think they truly appreciated the help.

The food pantry in our neighborhood has bigger lines than they have food to give out. Do people want to be there ? For the most part, probably not, but they still come. We built a community garden to supply the pantry with fresh produce. Volunteers maintain the garden.

I fail to see what is wrong with neighbors helping neighbors when they are in trouble - like the neighbors who helped me bail out my basement when it was full of flood water, and then loaned me a dehumidifier to get dried out.

There's a thriving trade around here in all kinds of used items - one leaves them out in the alley and in five minutes they're gone.

Part of the reason we are in trouble is this "everyone for themselves" mindset, and to heck with the next guy/gal/any other resident of the planet.

I just saw this posted at Energybulletin :-

"The empathy of rats, and their urge to liberate companions"


Yup, seems even rats have empathy.

"even rats have empathy."

we do

Sure your neighbors appreciated help, anybody would, and thanks will be sincere, and good on ya for doing it or participating in it. I help out neighbors too and give to charity etc.

My point was that such charity giving/organizing, while heartfelt etc., is temporary, selective (cute kids vs. elderly meth addict, ex-con, etc.) and minor: it cannot compensate, ever, for say, the growing income gap, proper and fair social-economic organization (e.g. affordable health care for all), or in your neighbor's case create legislation that ensures home owners are insured and figure that into the cost of the house.

I admit I'm also suspicious of the betters giving old clothes to the lessers ...though of course refraining from doing it on any grounds in any situation would be very bad.

heh, then there's guys like me who buy everything second hand, and if only my sense of style trickles down then the poor will be forced to wear brand new clothes until they're worn-out enough to belong to the rich.

From the movie Avatar
They're not gonna give up their home. They're not gonna make a deal.
Jake Sully: For-for what? A light beer and blue jeans? There's nothing that we have that they want. Everything they sent me out here to do is a waste of time. They're never gonna leave Hometree.

May be at some point we will all realize that every thing we do is a waste of time. Maybe people will just drive by Walmart thinking there is nothing there that I really need or want.

It is postulated that the earliest life were scavengers, much like our technical society in its present form. Photosynthesis developed later and proved to be very long lasting and the basis for a diversified ecology. We'll have to be slapped in the face a few times, but I wouldn't discount having different, and maybe more satisfactory living arrangements in the future. Hopefully something more local, genteel, and slower moving. The fossil fuels really have everyone in a grab and grow mindset that perhaps has already reached its zenith. In the future our status and happiness may once again be based upon how much we have to give to those around us with whom we share life's experiences and our genes. Morris Berman writes about our devolution into hucksterism and provides some interesting commentary on our current predicament. When the free-for-all is over and all of the dreams of being a corporate mogul are gone, maybe we'll discover the joy of helping other people survive again and a generous favor done will be the hell out of any IPOD or other technological doo-dad.

Could you provide a link to the Berman piece? I often ponder how much our culture of hucksterism infects the way we think about everything.

Part of that is that we are primed, upon hearing about any problem, to expect to be sold some solution (usually one that requires us to buy something). So if I just present our present predicament to students or others, in all its grim glory, they insist that I add a nice final pitch of "50 simple things you can do (or buy) to prevent GW, PO..."

I am put in mind of the scene in "The Music Man" where he is convincing the citizens of River City that a new pool hall in town is a great moral hazard, and so they need to form a band (for which they will purchase the instruments and uniforms from him).

We are all citizens of River City, and for every presentation of any problem, we expect the presenter to follow up immediately with exactly some such pitch--otherwise it is simply bad form, like telling a joke and leaving off the punch line.

On the other point, perhaps a few will end up living some idyllic eco-lifestyle after the dust settles, and I do think that this is the best sales pitch for the eco-music-men to throw out there.

But human extinction cannot be ruled out. People like Noam Chomsky (in the video series "The Nation" did on GW&PO last year) are starting to talk about it. We pride ourselves on being resilient and resourceful, but we are, in the end, just one species, and species are going belly up at a rate thousands to tens of thousands of times faster than the background rate (of around on extinction per million per year).

The most recent causes of despair include Fatih Birol's observation that, given the commitments to energy infrastructure that have been made or are being planned, we are on the path to burn enough once-safely-sequestered carbon to heat the globe 6 degrees C beyond pre-industrial levels.

A few years back, Mark Lynus wrote a gripping book called "Six Degrees" that was intended as a warning of what may happen if we push the earth up by each degree. The last chapter is pretty much 'end of story.'

But one reason it was 'end of story' is because it was thought at that time that it would take about that much warming to kick off the feedback of destabilizing sea bed methane hydrates in places like the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, where more than a trillion tons of methane lie waiting to take us into a much hotter and more hostile world.

But it is looking as if we have already crossed that boundary--seas in the Arctic have been described as 'bubbling as if boiling' from methane release. Some (a surprising few, given the gravity of the consequences) of us are waiting with baited breath for the official report of the international team of scientists that was rushed up there to study and measure the 'dramatic' release. It should come out in March or April.

Note that a significantly warmer planet means:
--wind speeds regularly reaching hurricane levels even inland,
--actual hurricanes becoming super-canes (the force of some from earlier in the earths warmer past left gouges on the ocean floor that are still visible),
--ever more extreme droughts alternating with ever more extreme deluges wiping out most plant life
--"wet bulb" temperatures becoming too hot for humans to survive
--ocean circulation failing, causing anoxic conditions that create clouds of poisonous H2S gas
--loss of most photosynthesis that produces both oxygen and the basis of the food chain

Granted, the last two would probably take a while to fully develop, but this is the future we have now pretty much bequeathed to our progeny and to the living world.

There is plenty of reason for at least some reflection on how we got here, as well as some anger at those most responsible.

Interview with Berman here.

Scroll down to Friday, December 9, 2011 5:00 pm, click "play", on right. Berman starts about 43 minutes in.

Thanks. Sounds like another cheery book to add to my Xmas list '-).

Be careful: Berman is a mere crank. 90 percent of "our" so-called hucksterism comes from our dominant, undemocratic institutions and the class privileges they exist to perpetuate. Alter those, and the game changes deeply and quickly. Not that it's easy to do that, but Berman obliterates all such distinctions, despite packaging himself as a sociologist. In reality, Berman is merely an armchair hack, and a highly abstract one at that. He knows next to nothing about actual people and their proclivities and preferences, and he is uninterested in talking about specific institutions, having concluded that "we" are all co-equally terrible.

There is still a lot of decency in this society. The problem is that it has no access to macro-level decisions.

I disagree that we should be angry about any kind of pending planetary collapse of systems needed to support life.

It was far-fethced to expect one little rock in the middle of nowhere to continue to be a haven for complex creatures forever.

This little rock had a bunch of oil and coal on it, it's virtually its own undoing...we couldn't just leave it all there, we're just agents, a sum of vapors and cellular processes temporarily acting in concert to get this stuff out of the ground and into the air where it does (according to the 2nd Law) belong.

So don't blame us. As if we had a choice. As if we had a say! No, we didn't. The cosmos handed a raw deal to us----on purpose or by some accident? Nevermind, that is immaterial. Or we are our own raw deal? It's pointless to get angry at oneself for what one does everyday (using oil, coal etc.) that one has no power over. The "people in charge" are just reflections of our own selves. They are us, we are them. Their decisions are our collective decisions. Their failures are our failures. It's all one. And if a leader tries to back down or come out for conservation and the environmental way (as long as there is still oil around) he or she will be thrown out of office.

Pi, Exactly! I couldn't possibly have said it better.

- As for pointing to our mental failures with scorn or dismay, we might as well profess disappointment with the mechanics of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, the degree of disillusionment we feel in response to any particular human behavior is the precise measure of our ignorance of its evolutionary and genetic origins.
- Reg Morrison, The Spirit in the Gene

Ron P.

I disagree that we should be angry about any kind of pending planetary collapse of systems needed to support life.

Well then, we shouldn't be angry about rape, murder, war, or any other peccadillos either... right? This comment is to Ron as well, whose comments I'm a fan of generally but who touts the "philosopher nihilist" point of view, that some of us are smart enough to blog about these things but not to do anything about them. Just be passive witnesses to the passing of much of the biosphere.

If anger has any function or meaning at all, we should be angry at the loss of species, the loss of future human lives. If sentience and sapience have any meaning at all, if we have the ability to do anything other than eat, fight and screw, that ability should be turned to ameliorating the problems we're causing.

Does it suck that there's frozen methane waiting to evaporate as a positive global heating feedback? That we evolved several simultaneous abilities which allowed us to harness energy exosomatically? Yes. The accidents of a meandering random past have indeed created some traps for us. But nothing about our trajectory has been inevitable.

Nihilism about human nature and the ultimate futility of striving is a self-indulgence, little more. It's a long shot that we might change things, but it isn't impossible. We don't deserve that smugness, haven't earned it.

One guy's opinion...

Greenish, local and personal emotions should be distinguished from distant and philosophical emotions. Anger has its utility, so has the retributive urge. If someone does us wrong, we want retribution and if possible we get it. That is not a fault of our nature, in fact it is a Darwinian adaptation that has served us well. We get angry and anger has its utility. The retributive urge gives us laws that punish people who would harm us or otherwise take advantage of the defenseless.

However that does not prevent a few from seeing the bigger picture. I feel true sorrow about the loss of species but not anger. No, a thousand times no, I do not feel anger. There is a tremendous difference between mournful sorrow and anger.

People who understand what the true cause is only feel sorrow. People who wish to place blame on some people, or some institution, or some organization outside themselves or their tribe or clan, get angry. They get angry at those whom they feel is to blame. And dammit it is not themselves who is at fault, it is their fault. So get angry and blame those bastards, punish them!

Anger must be directed. I have no direction to place anger at the human predicament, or the predicament of all those species that are being driven into extinction. Therefore I do not feel anger, only sorrow.

You accuse me of being a Nihilists. Nihilism argues that life is without objective meaning. I make no such argument. How am I supposed to know if life has objective meaning? I haven't a clue. Life may, for all I know, have meaning. But if it does I have no idea what it is.

Hey, just what do you want from me anyway?

Ron P.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

Hi Ron, I don't want anything from you, you do a great job here and have very similar expectations to mine in terms of the way things will probably happen.

I'm offering my opinion in the same spirit you're offering yours.

"philosopher nihilist" was an off-the-cuff characterization and isn't correct in your case, I know you feel sorrow as I do. Not sure what to call that mindset... "futilitarian"? At any rate, it wasn't meant as an accusation; but I was taking umbrage at the philosophical position that it's as good as over before it happens. The coming crunch will be a very complex event, and there are large degrees of freedom left in how it rolls out.

It may make little practical difference for oldsters like you and me, but our species needs to try to get it right; the stakes are as high as they could be. And I think anger, even rage, are entirely appropriate as motivators.

I fully agree that there is no one to blame; I agree with the John Gray quote, but not as a rationale for inaction.

Not all depressing futures are equivalent. To believe that is to drastically oversimplify, I'd say.

As I say, just stating my opinion.

Not all depressing futures are equivalent

And that is the core of what I work for !!

Best Hopes for "Not quite as bad as it could have been",


'Bout time someone got the point....

Most of the regular posters here are playing that tune, we just disagree on the best course of action.

Totally!! It is sorrow, not anger that should be the guide for our feelings. I am trying to make a difference through my work. But I am far from angry about the whole mess we're in. I am impressed by many of the human institutions that have evolved in the face of our human situation. I think many of them, especially the much-maligned religion, have tried actually to help people. Folk tales, myths, so much culture we have offers a basis to be hopeful.

I am just not angry. That doesn't mean I'm nihilistic. There's a difference!

"They are us, we are them."

Sounds like something a Judas goat would say to the flock about the wolves in lamb clothes to whom the goat brings the sheep.

No. They are not us.

They are a predatory class that feeds on us.
They produce nothing on their own.
They take from us by way of a system called taxation.
They keep us herded by way of a system called propaganda.

It works.
Not forever.
But it works for them, for now.
And that's all they care about.
Don't give us that "we are them and they are us" crap.
No. They are not.

p.s. I must profusely apologize that the above sounds personal whilst I was not trying to go that way. I was trying to point out, as rapidly as I could, (and perhaps too brutally) the fallacy of the logic. I do understand the deeper thing you are trying to say about us all being creatures of God so to speak and therefore at the end of the day we all go down in one boat. However, "they" are trained to think different than the rest of us. "They" are trained to take advantage of our feeble mindedness. And they do it quite splendidly, much as a well trained herding dog brings the doggies home to the slaughter house. The herding dog is not one and the same with the herd.

I, for one, refuse to give myself as pass, nor to those who have the capacity, knowledge and means to make changes in their own lives. May as well step over a dying man in the street; keep moving, nothing to be done here :-/

I agree with this attitude wholeheartedly, that's why my wife and I are making some pretty damn serious changes in our lifestyle. We've always lived a lot simpler than most, but there's no way we can live with ourselves if we don't "practice what we preach". Living differently also means we are, at least in a small way, going to be more equipped to deal with what is coming our way in the future. "Be Prepared"

I disagree with this on a philosophical level.

Gravity is meaningsless. So is electromagnetic forces, anything that goes on inside an atom, or Vad der Waal forces. They are just forces who react and intermingle in certain ways, doing what they do because they have to.

But put all those forces together, and they create life. Life is much bigger than the sum of those forces. If anyone from a hypophetical alternative univese studied those forces one by one, they would not be able to see life in it. If is first then they come together they manage to form life.

And because of this, the Universe itself is not meaningsless. Life brings meaning to all this. Wich is why evolution itself is a fundamental chalange to atheism; evolution gives meanig to the universe, and thus make atheisms main principle of everythings meaningslessness meaningless.

And all this oil and coal in the ground is nothing but a forbidden fruit; we can use all resources in the world but this one; if we do, we die. It is a test. A test we are failing. And maybe somewhere out there, there are thousands of planets like ours, and on one of them, they pass the test and reach for the stars without destroying their own world. The Universe is waiting for a species to raise up to stellar adulthood. And it wont be us. And that is a thought to be sad about.

Jedi, saying it don't make it so. Anyway this is not a religious site. I like to discuss related philosophical issues but religion has no place here.

Ron P.

Religion, spirituality; call it what you want, it's how the human brain works.
All our problems (well, many of them), stem from how the human brain works.
Much as you understand this God thing is not a real reality; much as I understand it, it is still there, in the brains of our fellow species mates. Therefore we must acknowledge its existence and work with it rather than going into denial mode against it.

note: the link above is to Michelangelo’s depiction of human brain in the Sistine Chapel ceiling

I would not have made lots of a reply if you did write a reply; Leanan has a tendency to write me emails when I do, so I try to keep that down.

"And because of this, the Universe itself is not meaningsless. Life brings meaning to all this. Wich is why evolution itself is a fundamental chalange to atheism; evolution gives meanig to the universe, and thus make atheisms main principle of everythings meaningslessness meaningless."

The Universe may or may not be "meaningless", but this paragraph pretty much is. Evolution doesn't give the Universe meaning. Also, the main principle of Atheists is that God doesn't exist, not that everything's meaningless. The one does not follow from the other, as much as Theists like to say that it does.

The Universe is not waiting for anything, and whatever mess we humans make of our existence is of no concern to the Universe (nothing is of any concern to the Universe). It is of concern to humanity, as is natural.

I think you are confusing 'meaningless' with 'random.' Evolution is premised on 3 forces: Random Mutation (chance), Fitness (not physical fitness, but ‘fit’ in the sense that a hand ‘fits’ a glove) and selection (the ability to make copies of oneself, which then live long enough to make copies of themselves.) Oh, and there is no ‘anticipation’ in there, either. Evolution does not evolve ‘toward’ anything. Things happen randomly. Some of them are pretty absurd or outright unviable but some just happen to do something clever. Some of these are able to make copies of themselves. These few random, clever, self replicating bits are all that’s left of the huge number of flops. But not worry. Nature eats the flops.

If you took a die with 4 sides, labeled A, T, G and C, and rolled it an infinite number of times and wrote down the sequence of characters, eventually you would get all possible genes for all possible life forms. These would have been produced randomly, even though they were meaningful. No challenge to evolution there.


Humanity deserves more credit than what it's given, presented with a crisis people can adapt fast and surprise you. I agree with the general assessment that some sort of massive die-off is coming but that shouldn't mean that technological growth should die out. Most of the world's useful engineering and scientific information can be stored in a vault somewhere safe, people need not start from scratch again. Maybe a better civilization will arise out of this mess, a version of Heinlein's one world government with mandatory population controls which will end all major conflicts once and for all.

Edit :
I guess optimism even in the face of doom is a function of age :) I have trained myself to ignore all the doom around me since beyond a point it is of no useful value, much easier to drink wine and be merry. I am doing my part though, giving bits and pieces of this information(with all the caveats) to friends and family from time to time.

Most of the world's useful engineering and scientific information can be stored in a vault somewhere safe, people need not start from scratch again.

Of course it could be stored in a vault somewhere. It is just highly unlikely that it will be. That being said it is likely that many books will survive the collapse. Unfortunately most will probably be burnt as fuel.

Even if world population could be held constant, in balance with "renewable" resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end. And the spiraling collapse that is far more likely will leave, at best, a handfull of survivors. These people might get by, for a while, by picking through the wreckage of civilization, but soon they would have to lead simpler lives, like the hunters and subsistence farmers of the past. They would not have the resources to build great public works or carry forward scientific inquiry. They could not let individuals remain unproductive as they wrote novels or composed symphonies. After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods.
Energy and Human Evolution

Ron P.

I have fairly reliable (albeit hearsay) info that there are "foundations", inspired, somewhat, by Asimov, in various places designed as repositories of knowledge, literature, art, etc..; knowledge seed banks of sorts. While I can see the value of such, one wonders what a future society's ability will be to make use of such information. Greer has suggested that forming monastic societies dedicated to preserving,,, whatever may be worth preserving, could be something we return to, a sort of priesthood of "green wizardry".

Hey, if we can preserve seeds
why not books?

Of course, we will also need to preserve literarcy.

Again, though, as we survive we will, by necessity, evolve. It could be that our far off descendents will be recognizable, physiologically. Would they recognize us, or would we them, as very much like ourselves though? I doubt it.

Ask yourself then if those ancestral bi-pedal apes, the early homo erectus, are 'human' in any real sense. Then ask yourself how we could avoid changes from biologic need.

We make a great deal about how we are altering our environment, destroying species, and perhaps generating a fatal or near fatal crash for our species. Looking at how fleeting our existence is on a Terran timescale, I wonder about our audacity... our extreme hubris. It is not doomerism to recognize what we are, and how events mold us and the biota around us. Geological events, astronomic events and temporal events will all happen. We will evolve, and perhaps survive. On an individual scale we don't notice much, and we indeed have trouble seeing the larger picture. I say we should appreciate what we have, try to preserve as much as possible for our children, grandchildren and more (do as little harm as possible, and be kind to one another). And really, we need take a deep breath, and get a grip on reality.



I have my suspicions that such human knowledge and tools redoubts exist.

There are known commercial enterprises to store information in secure locations which serve as a basic model:


Here is a neat video of several commercial underground storage facilities in Missouri. I wonder how they would fare during a 7+ New Madrid-area earthquake? Listen to the great hick pronunciation of NASA at 6:30 ...Nah-saw...


If the stories about ~ 3,000 miles of tunnels in China is even half true, perhaps they are taking the long view and building some 'dark museums' to store information and technology examples to reboot civilization in the aftermath of a catastrophe.

A far-out idea to create a manned civilization cache on the Moon:


I found this site after a cursory search:


Several statements on this site seemed pretty loopy to me, but if private citizens came up with these 'reboot civilization' ideas, then it seems plausible that governments have had the same skull sessions.

Whether anything organized and somewhat feasible has come of such studies is unknown to me....any search into these issues on the Web turns up a plethora of conspiracy theorist crackpots (aliens, Illuminati, and on and on).

The Truth is Out There...or maybe there is no there there...makes for a good scifi novel premise though...

By chance or intention, libraries and other stores of information burn or are otherwise destroyed. Those who knew how to read or access them die or are killed. People (or at least those in power) no longer value the knowledge or distrust the people who do...

There are many ways that knowledge gets destroyed.

I choose to front the possibility of the worst happening, just for the sake of honesty.

I hope and pray and work toward it not happening, but those hopes and prayers and work are seeming more and more in vain every day.

Over the years, I've tried to pass along these ideas to my one-time friends, but they mostly ignore my e-mails. I acquired the name "Dr. Doom" about 3 decades ago and I guess it stuck. That was about the time I started to cut back on the booze, since it only made my head sore...

E. Swanson

There is more than a little irony in our use of the words “doomer” and “cornucopian”. Toss in “techno-optimist” and we have a list of words with implied consequences for the fate of the earth that are the exact opposites of probable actual consequences.

Why? Start with the biggest danger facing the planet, runaway climate change. The more we discover about the dangers of positive feedback effects from even 2C AGW, the smaller our remaining carbon budget becomes. It seems we need dramatic reductions in carbon emissions starting immediately, but all the BAU trends are opposite of what is needed. So what can we do?

In recent history, the only proven way of reducing carbon use is economic recession. Thus, the only surefire way of saving the planet is dramatic worldwide economic decline. Economic growth is our enemy. This means that “doomer” visions of a collapsing industrial civilization are just what is needed to save the planet, with the admittedly unfortunate side effect (for humans) of general human starvation and die-off. However, the world would be saved and a few populations of humans would survive. Peak oil “Doomers” have the most optimistic future in mind.

“Cornucopians”, if proven right (ha ha), would see the BAU party continue for a few more decades until the environmental effect of all that carbon loading leads to extreme climate change and environmental collapse/mass extinction, including humans. We can only hope that peak fossil fuel comes as soon as possible. The longer we keep discovering any kind of cheap-enough-to-use fossil energy, the more likely we pass the carbon loading point of no return. A “cornucopian” future leads us to doom.

But what about “techno-optimists”? They are no better than “conucopians-lite”. Even though we might be technically, if not politically, able to use our remaining fossil fuels as bridge energy to construct an all-renewable energy supply system, the use of those remaining fossil fuels would still fry the planet. We need to leave our remaining fossil legacy in the ground. Now that we are at or near peak fossil fuel, it is too late to make the fossil energy investments we should have made forty years ago. A “crash” program on a “war footing” would merely leave ruined remnants of renewable energy facilities baking in the sun, with no humans to use them.

So if we are stuck with rooting for rapid economic collapse to save the world, what policies should we adopt to facilitate that collapse? My guess is a combination of rigorous austerity and increasing economic inequality gives us the best chance of rapid economic decline. This means maximizing free-markets (for economic inequality) and rapid spending reductions at all levels of government (for austerity), both of which will accentuate debt-deflation driven world-side economic collapse.

But how can we promote enabling a “Greatest Depression” to save the world? If progressive or even conventionally sensible politicians might keep things going for a while longer, or even worse, get us back to economic growth, we must keep them out of office. For this life-long environmentalist, renewable-energy-promoting-Obama-voting-liberal-Democrat, and reformed “techno-optimist”, I can only hope the most radically conservative Tea-Partiers get elected to Congress and President. Doomers unite! Seriously, let’s vote Republican. I can only hope Newt will do, but where are Michele or Sarah when we need them?

@shox and Wise

By coincidence, I just read a transcript of William Faulkner's Nobel prize banquet speech...1950. Well worth reading.

Feeling doomed sometime? Sure. Give up? Never. Too much to do and we need all hands...all hands.

Faulkner....as follows:

Ladies and gentlemen,

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work - a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

So much depends on just where one stands to look at it all, it seems..

Faulkner was seeing a lot of the isolation and desperation around him, but since then, there have also been waves of new awakenings, connections and hope as well.. just as he himself had no particular need to envision our doom, whether it was right around the corner or was not...

Now, on sites like this, it seems we hear from a lot of people with similar desperation... and maybe they're right, or maybe they are simply half right, and not putting much attention towards the half that doesn't look like the Alarming Train Wreck that has captured so much of their care. Who knows, but this medium, even with its mass of connecting us far and wide, does sure seem to allow us to feel all that much more alone and helpless at the very same time.. Real Human Contact is simply essential.

On Sundays the bulls get so bored
When they are asked to drop dead for us
The sword will plunge down and the mob will drool
The blood will pour down and turn the sand to mud. Olé, olé!

The moment of triumph when grocery clerks become Nero
The moment of triumph when the girls scream and shout The name of their hero, aaahh.
And when finally they fell
Did not the bulls dream of some hell
Where men and worn-out matadors still burn, aaahh.

Or perhaps with their last breaths Would not they pardon us their deaths
Knowing w hat we did at Carthage--olé!--Waterloo--olé!--Verdun--olé! Stalingrad--olé!--
Iwo Jima--olé!--Hiroshima--olé!--Saigon!


I don’t pretend to be the wisest person in the world, but based on my limited understanding of life, I would suggest three things.

1. Take up a regular meditation practice, to develop a calm and stable mind.

2. Plan about two years ahead. Anything beyond that is little more than pointless speculation at this point, much like 10 day weather forecasts for Maine.

3. Work on projects that will yield meaningful benefits within that two year timeframe.

Hey Breadman;
Just in case.. Stoneleigh (Nicole Foss, of The Automatic Earth) Talking at USM tonight, Wishcamper Ctr, Lee Hall (?).. 7pm. Should be interesting.. but I might take your advice and leave some time to meditate afterwards!!


will have to live in containment chambers

I doubt that would become literally necessary until/unless CO2 got well past the 2000ppm range. But at a more practical level, don't most people - even in poor countries - already live in something like "containment chambers", and without going into a funk or kicking up a maudlin fuss? After all, in much of the world, the winter cold is quite dangerous, or the summer heat is dangerous, or both, so people spend much of their time in dwellings of one sort or another. In most of the rest of the world, the year-round fetid heat is highly debilitating, and is routinely accompanied by mosquitoes, flies, and worms that carry lethal diseases or themselves constitute lethal diseases, so again, people spend much of their time in some sort of dwelling, even if it's just a shack with - one hopes but sometimes in vain - bed nets.

Perhaps it's just plain silly to imagine the world as a paradise, even if it is as compared (uselessly) to, say, Pluto or the surface of the sun. After all, the root meaning of "paradise" is "garden" or "enclosure" - not "wilderness". The wilderness has long been known to be potentially lethal; people used to be "cast into" it as a form of punishment (or as penance.) So they sought enclosure, sometimes at very high cost, as a simple and obvious matter of safety, and, yes, horror of horrors, comfort. No amount of ignorant, fatuous, romantic, fashionable urban-centered twaddle about "nature" can ever change that.

It's not just you.

There are days when it doesn't seem worth doing much of anything any more. I wonder why I'm bothering to learn to play traditional fiddle tunes; it feels Neronic. I find it difficult to do any writing: nothing I can say or write seems likely to make any difference, and writers most always write "for posterity"... what if there isn't one?

When staring into civilisational collapse, one's ordinary day2day sense of human insignificance suddenly goes off the scale: I am not not just one unimportant human being in a mighty civilisation, unlikely to make much impact on history -- now I'm one unimportant human being in a tottering, crumbling, auto-foot-shooting civilisation headed for history's notorious dustbin! Unnerving. It really skewers any sense of self-importance or relevance one was clinging to. Too much Doom can hollow out the core of anything we plan or do: and this Doom we're staring into right now is a biggie. Global. Mega scary. I love TOD but sometimes feel my frequent visits are like rubbernecking at a car crash. I just can't look away... eeek... yuck... but I just can't look away...

Speaking of which... I used to describe the civcrash angst as being stuck in a car driven waaay too fast towards a brick wall by a drunken adolescent, and realising that all the door handles have been removed.

Peak Oil Blues is a blog for discussing just that sense of freezing despair.

OTOH, it's hard not to feel hopeful when prepping a garden bed. And I was happy to buy 4 frozen rabbits from a local farmer: the freezer may be an ephemeral luxury, the lights will go out one day -- we'll eat the bunnies this winter, they are hardly a lasting solution to anything and I'm not ready to start growing me own yet; but it's local food and we will be eating this winter and that's something. I agree with the poster who said "plan 2 years out". The future is so murky right now, I'm not thinking much further ahead than that. I'm trying to "loot" industrial civ (legally, by paying for stuff, though I know I'm not paying the fair price of anything really) for useful things like a greenhouse, garden tools, deer fencing, truck loads of topsoil. While I still can, ya know? And trying to make friends -- as quick as I can -- in my new community. Hire locals, pay generously, lend freely, borrow gratefully, listen much and appreciatively... soak in. Survival, if we manage it, will imho be the survival of small/midsized communities, not lone rangers.

But yeah shox, you're not alone. There is a lot to dread and a lot to fear, and a lot to mourn. But in the meantime, there's also a lot to do. Someone I used to know, forget who, said that if the boat is sinking you gotta keep bailing. Yeah, you might be wasting your time: the boat might sink anyway even though you bail like hell. OTOH, if you quit bailing the boat will *certainly* sink. So... keep bailing! Might as well go down trying as moping.

I consider music to be a large portion of the "why bother?" myself. It is probably the most important part of our humanity, and preserving music is definitely a worthwhile pursuit.

It is the light that helps drive the darkness away while we do what needs to be done.

I knew my post would evoke many responses. I have skimmed through them all and am convinced on one thing: All of you who counsel optimism, or pessimism, or indifference are going to share the same fate as the unwitting billions of souls who have never heard of Peak Oil and planetary collapse.

The impersonal forces which are underway and will become greater still are SO IMMENSE that they will overwhelm everyone like a mile-high tsunami which sweeps away everything in its path. All of us who have taken pains to gain some level of enlightenment will learn that our foreknowledge will count for nothing.

I read, with great cynicism, of people growing vegetable gardens in their backyard, putting solar panels on their roofs, forming village co-ops, going organic, etc and all that I say to myself is: They have not read enough history to know that NO ONE will be spared from unspeakable torment if the phase we are entering is one of a population collapse at a rate of hundreds of millions of people per year. Just think of the lawlessness, the corruption, the degradation, the destruction, and anarchy which will be wreaked in the wake of such a catastrophe. No one will have peace and tranquility. If you have a vegetable garden and your neighbor doesn't, consider it a lost cause, because your property will be invaded and your possessions stolen. NO ONE can thrive while the entire world around them is collapsing.

There are realistic ways in which the imminent catastrophes can be overcome, but they all involve genocide on the biggest scale imaginable. And that's all there is to it.

[never mind - there's nothing to say to someone who ends an absolutely totalizing apocalyptic rant with "and that's all there is to it". Not anything that Leanan would like, at any rate.]

@ Shox


You do it your way and I will do it my way and will continue to hope for the best. Property with gardens and woodlot...river full of fish, livestock, chickens, good water, mild climate...good solid friends in our community, and bullets for several guns.

I don't know what else I could do? I sure as h%## won't whine about any misfortune that comes my way. My Dad always said if you do your best, that is all that can be hoped for from any man. Also, if the world is better off for you having lived, then your life was successful.

Maybe the life won't be full of promise, maybe we won't thrive, but I for one will keep on plugging away and hope to provide for family and friends.

That's about it. TOD reading is probably a compulsion at this stage of my awareness. 'Looking forward to the reincarnation of TAE. I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom of TOD posting folks.

You need to get a grip and help carry the load, IMHO.


Shox, you present an interesting case but you go way, way overboard. Saying that the only life possible would have to live in containment chambers is just absurd. We may really mess up the atmosphere but not that bad. And life can withstand global warming. It has many times before and there will be nothing really special about this one even if it get 10 degrees hotter.

I have already presented my argument against the likelihood of human extinction. Saying that extinction seems inevitable is just not realistic and I think that if you thought about it with a little more logic than before you would come to the same conclusion.

So obviously I believe there will be survivors. And one has a far greater chance of becoming a survivor if you prepare to be one. Those who prepare to save themselves and their families will have a far, far greater chance of surviving than those who decide to try to save the world instead.

But of course you are correct about the lawlessness, corruption and anarchy. But one can prepare for that as well. If I were younger, and had the funds to do so, I would try to organize a defensive farming community, with all the homes in a central village and have everyone arm themselves to the teeth. Of course that would not be a guarantee of survival but it would greatly enhance one's chances.

Ron P.

"I would try to organize a defensive farming community, with all the homes in a central village and have everyone arm themselves to the teeth." Chuckle... sounds like this little part of Maine I'm in.

Don in Maine

Hey lucky you. You, your family and neighbors stand a great chance of being among the survivors. I hope you take my advice and yourselves to the teeth. I imagine you already have guns but you should stock up on ammunition, boxes and boxes of ammunition, enough to last the duration. Don't ask me how long that would be because I haven't a clue. ;-)

Ron P.

That may be - tomorrow, or a month from now, or many years from now.

The only question that seems relevant, when the future is unknown, is how are you going to live your life today ? You do have a choice about that.

Possible reading material for shox: Solnit's "A Paradise Built in Hell" which is about human responses to disaster.

Surprisingly, sometimes disaster brings out the best in people. I too see the juggernaut bearing down on us, but still think that communities will manifest solidarity because that is what communities do. I'm sure there will also be ugliness to balance the books, but I just don't see the Hobbesian slaughterhouse that shox seems to be predicting.

OTOH, any and all of us could be wrong.

All of you who counsel optimism, or pessimism, or indifference are going to share the same fate as the unwitting billions of souls who have never heard of Peak Oil and planetary collapse.

But that has always been true, peak oil or no peak oil: in the long run, we're all dead.

Indeed, that became a common theme in the art of Europe after the plague. The Danse Macabre, the Dance of Death, showed death dancing with people from all walks of life: pope, king, maiden, pauper, child, etc. Rich or poor, old or young, all colors and creeds, we are all united in our ultimate fate.

I think shox jock is trying to say something else.

Not that in the end we're all 6 feet under,
but rather that the power of the herd outweighs the power of the one (the individual) --as Spock of Star Trek might say.

Perhaps a rare few of those who prepare lifeboats will survive through the global oil shock, but most won't (according to shox) because wherever you try to hide out, the zombie mobs will find you and get you (according to shox)

I'm not personally saying yes or no to the shox theory.

However in terms of mitigation, it would seem a lot better if we had the zombie mobs educated and coordinated over the Peak Oil issue rather than shocked, angry, crazed and out for vengeance guillotine style.

Our best hope lies with educating the younger generation.

Aging Fields Take Toll on Pertamina’s Production

Pertamina, the country’s (Indonesia) second-biggest oil producer, pledged in September to reactivate 5,244 aging wells, betting that the initiative would boost production.

Harun said on Sunday that the company has had a hard time overcoming the 18 percent per year decline in production at the aging fields.

Overcoming an 18 percent decline rate is really hard to do. Most of Russia's old fields have a 19 percent decline rate… and growing, or did in 2009. Infield drilling keeps that down somewhat but only new fields in Eastern Siberia keep them from a steep decline. Saudi's old fields have an average of 8 percent decline rate but new infield drilling with horizontal wells have, or rather had in 2006, that rate down to almost 2 percent.

Infield drilling can slow the decline rate but it increases the depletion rate. Sooner or later the fields will hit a decline cliff. It is only a matter of when.

But Indonesia is, apparently, not trying infield drilling like Saudi and Russia, they are relying on steam injection. It just ain't enough.

Pertamina spokesman Mochammad Harun said the enhanced oil recovery technology, which aims to boost production by injecting water and steam into aging fields, could not overcome the natural maturation of producing oil fields.

Ron P.

From the Biggest Bankruptcy...

Alright just for the sake of the international audience that watches the show can you just explain dollar swaps?

Hunter: Basically we give them the dollars and they give us Euros. We are the world reserve currency so we can produce massive amounts of currency.

To me this is scary... does anyone think this is a good thing? We take Euros in exchange for Greenbacks? How does this impact Forex transactions? What is the dollar worth compared to the Euro? Who determines the rate? When (not if) the EC collapses, what happens to those Euros? I see absolutely no good in this, except as yet another bail out for big banks. And, the Banksters should be posting bail instead of getting it!


...as yet another bail out for big banks. And, the Banksters should be posting bail instead of getting it!

Craig, you've nailed the crux of the problem.

Democracy has morphed into oligarchy. Moral hazard has become obvious as deregulation coupled with the bonus system eliminated responsibility from the workings of the market. Dollar swaps are added icing on the cake for the banksters. The interchange between market and government has become a seamless web. Policy is written for the oligarchs by the oligarchs.

Kunstler, this morning:

The President intimates that we will surely return to the turbo economy of a fast-receding yore. He is missing something big there. We are not going back to that. The fiesta is over. And his job is not to try to go back there, because it is impossible. His job was to lead an epochal re-set of the economy to a very different disposition of things, smaller, finer, more local. It is so far outside the box he's in that light-years cannot even begin to describe the distances involved. And I completely dismiss his claim that the reason no prosecution of Wall Street misconduct happened was because, however odious their schemes and scams were, they were technically legal.

If you don't like the rules, change them or make them unenforceable.

From CNN Money this morning:

U.S. stocks opened sharply lower Monday as investors remained uncertain about the debt crisis in Europe.


So: even with the US printing money for them, things still head South. How long before the PTB cannot kick this can down the road. It has gone from postpone for a year, to a month, to a week. Now we are getting daily doses of rewards for the guilty as they try to avoid the inevitible.

Any money on whether we make Christmas before the crash?

Best hopes for coal in Banksters stockings.


the reason no prosecution of Wall Street misconduct happened was because, however odious their schemes and scams were, they were technically legal.

And the Government would never, ever, use trumped up charges on dubious grounds post-Nixon. That's why the Church Commission findings were implemented.

Democracy has morphed into oligarchy.

What Democracy? If the topic is the US of A - the US of A was supposed to be a Republic.

Technically, a "Democratic Republic." In theory, incorporating the best of each system and avoid the worst. In practice we find we are able to incorporate the worst while assiduously avoiding the best?

And, is it any worse that our Republic has morphed into an oligarchy than it would be for our democracy to do so? In either case we find ourselves owned by the same Banksters. Hedge Fund managers, and Corporatists who suscribe to the same vile pseudo-economic theories. In either case we have lost our way. We have fallen, and we cannot get up!

Where is our LifeLine Economics Alert????



The banks, when faced with losses, go to the Fed to be bailed out with more funny money. They then make more money for their bonuses by buying Treasuries.

If you complain about this, they tell you that if this doesn't happen and they are allowed to fail, the ATM's will stop working. If you try to regulate them, they say you are an anti-capitalist Marxist. (What does that make them?)

So it's a no win catch-22 with the banking system. You can't let them fail, yet you can't regulate them. This is not paranoid conspiracy theory; this is fact. The founders of the United States wrote about this kind of thing 200 years ago.

But no worries, nature will finish off these banksters. This is the silver lining, folks, to peak oil. Nature is taking her revenge on us corrupt humans.

Bernanke can't print oil, and we should all be thankful for that. Collapse will finish off this house of cards.

We need to get off this idea that you can regulate the banks any more than you can domesticate a wolf.

What we need is a combination of outright prohibitions and substantial deregulation. Limit banks in exchange for the governments guarantee to a very narrow list of activities - banking circa 1960. Allow the bank holding companies to own subsidiaries that can do pretty much anything they want with whom ever they want except their own bank and other banks. If all the financial innovation is good then the market will support those activities in the unregulated subsidiaries.

Throughout this crisis the hedge funds have been lumped in with the banks- IMO this is unfair. The HF live and die by the sword and their losses are not socialized by tax payer.

We need to get off this idea that you can regulate the banks any more than you can domesticate a wolf.

I have friends who have domesticated wolves. It's a bit of a challenge, but can be done if you are firm with them and don't let them get the upper hand. They do tend to bite trespassers and eat stray dogs, though. That's okay if you don't want trespassers and stray dogs on your property, and have a good lawyer.

Here in Canada the government has done a pretty good job of regulating the banks - none of them went bankrupt and Canadian banks are now the strongest banks in the world. Domesticating wolves, regulating banks, there's really no difference.

World's smallest steam engine comes to life

German physicists say they've built a heat engine measuring only a few micrometers across which works as well as a normal-sized version - although it sputters, they admit.

Researchers at the University of Stuttgart and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems say that the engine does basically work, meaning there's nothing, in principle, to prevent the construction of highly efficient, small heat engines.

"We've developed the world's smallest steam engine, or to be more precise the smallest Stirling engine, and found that the machine really does perform work," says Clemens Bechinger of the University of Stuttgart.

"This was not necessarily to be expected, because the machine is so small that its motion is hindered by microscopic processes which are of no consequence in the macroworld." The disturbances cause the micromachine to run rough and sputter.

That is awe-inspiring. Thank you.

Although I think he misspoke here: "... microscopic processes which are of no consequence in the macroworld."


I think anyone who doesn't have extinction as one possibility is living in a fantasy. I believe if we all had the abiilty to consider it the world would be a very different place. It's the inability to contemplate extinction that gives us nuclear bombs, destruction of the environment, using all resources at an insane pace and the rest of the human race's suicidal behavior patterns.

I've been watching this stupidiy, reading the goofy comments and unrealistic optimism for couple of decades. At first I got on the "we've gotta change" bandwagon which simply made me a pain in the backside of everyone. One day it dawned on me "so what". Really doesn't matter if humans are here or not. We are a brutal, violent animal that destroys everything in our path while shouting to the heavens what a wonderful thing we are. I don't think we'll be missed.
Species come and go. Why not us? Will we? Who knows?

I sit back with a cup of coffee and find a sense of amusement in the endless ramblings of shoulds, coulds and oughtas that would "save" us from the future we are madly rushing towards at 70MPH. I figure the hundreds of gods of history just shake their heads in wonder.

Zeke, you need to use the "reply" button when replying. Your post was obviously a reply and should have been posted as such and not a complete new thread.

I think anyone who doesn't have extinction as one possibility is living in a fantasy.

I really don't think you understand the situation at all. Of course the human race could go extinct. A giant comet could hit the earth in a few weeks and completely wipe out all life on earth. However...

Homo sapiens are the least likely of all vertebrate species to go extinct. Humans and their domestic animals and pets make up 97 percent of the land vertebrate mass of the earth. 10,000 years ago it was less than one tenth of one percent. We occupy every niche on earth except Antarctica. We have proven we can adapt to any climate. Our numbers are so great that at least some would likely be immune to any pandemic that came along.

Of course human extinction is a possibility, just an extremely unlikely one. The coming collapse will likely cull our numbers dramatically. Our numbers could go from seven billion to less than one billion, perhaps down to a few million. But there will be survivors.

We are a brutal, violent animal that destroys everything in our path while shouting to the heavens what a wonderful thing we are.

Of course that is true. That is one reason our numbers have grown to seven billion. But thinking the species will go extinct is mostly wishful thinking. ;-)

Ron P.

Good points. But the very vastness of our numbers makes us vulnerable to the next microbe that comes along and figures out how to best exploit this vast, ready-to-eat mono-culture. This goes for our major crops and domesticated animals. As things devolve, the ability to muster coordinated research and preventive action on the international scale needed will be next to nil.

Besides the devastations of GW that I cited below, there are still plenty of nukes around for us to hurl at each other; and plenty of chemical, biological and conventional weapons as well. Not to mention all the nuclear plant, each of which will inevitably end up like Fukushima or worse, poisoning ever larger swaths of the world. We won't mention the enormous variety and mass of persistent, toxic industrial chemicals that we continue to unleash into the environment, or the number of exotic species we have introduced into new environments where they run amok and wipe out all competitors, or the sheer devastation of mining, logging, development, and all the other insults we unleash directly on the land.

We are collectively a very large, fragile giant, crushing much around us that could have supported us, and stumbling towards an imminent fall. Perhaps some will find a way to crawl out of the wreckage. Perhaps not.

Dohboi, the vastness of our numbers is the very thing that means there will be survivors. No matter how nasty the microbe some people will be immune. Even 10 to 20 percent of the population are immune to the HIV virus.

We are collectively a very large but not a fragile giant. That is our existence is not fragile. Yes our economy is fragile, our governments are fragile, and if they collapsed there would be an enormous die-off. But there are nomads in Asia, forest people in South America and New Guinea, ice people in Greenland, North America and Siberia. No, the odds are at least a thousand to one that any collapse, no matter how severe, will leave survivors.

Ron P.

That is our existence is not fragile.

Bull. Every human on this planet can be killed.

A large enough collision from space, an X ray burst from space sources, or even variations in output from the Sun/heat retention of the atmosphere can move Earth into 'iceball Earth' or more toward Venus.

Bull back to you. The possibility of a hundred million year event does not make the existence of Homo sapiens fragile. If it takes a ten mile wide asteroid hitting the earth, or a solar event that has not happened in the last billion years to wipe us out, That does not make human existence fragile. That would make human life very... damn, I couldn't find a proper antonym for fragile. :-(

Antonyms for fragile: coarse, harsh, heavy, indelicate, inelegant, robust, rough, strong... None of them seem to fit.

Anyway I said at the beginning of this thread: Of course the human race could go extinct. A giant comet could hit the earth in a few weeks and completely wipe out all life on earth. That was a caveat I deliberately inserted to exclude any unforeseen extraterrestrial event from the debate.

Ron P.



Anyway I said at the beginning of this thread: Of course the human race could go extinct. A giant comet could hit the earth in a few weeks and completely wipe out all life on earth. \

You also said:

Of course human extinction is a possibility,

and you said:

will leave survivors.

So what exactly is your position? Either humans can get extinct-ed or not. Which is it? (Zadoc and Ramen seem to ponder similar questions)

Robust, as in a robust model (software), works well there, I think. You think that humans are a robust species as opposed to fragile, easily broken.


Giant asteroids, supervolcanos, and other hundred million year events aren't the only ways for species to go extinct. Same goes for other "biggies" like nuclear war and pandemics. Species have been going extinct from the very onset of life on this planet.

From the Wikipedea page on Human Extinction:
"Based upon evidence of past extinction rates Raup and others have suggested that the average longevity of an invertebrate species is between 4-6 million years, while that of vertebrates seems to be 2-4 million years."

Humans will be no exception. Our amazing adaptability does not make the species immortal. It just means we will do far more damage to the environment on our way out than any other animal has done to date (that we know of).

You are absolutely correct that the coming die off will not wipe us out completely. I tend to believe the estimates of a 90+% die off. But after that damage, with a much smaller breeding population living much harder lives, extinction is very likely. It might take ten thousand years, but it is inevitable. If humans disappeared tomorrow, animals on the endangered species list that have small, isolated breeding populations (mountain gorillas, orangutans, chimps, California condors, etc.) would probably continue their march to extinction.

Climate change is a real wildcard, though. I think you underestimate the destructiveness of 6-10 degrees of global warming. If a large amount of methane is released into the atmosphere because of positive warming feedbacks, then total human extinction could take a few years or decades due to catastrophic degradation of the entire ecosystem.

we will do far more damage to the environment on our way out than any other animal has done to date (that we know of)

The poisonous oxygen producing algae that first developed photosynthesis did more damage to the existing ecosystems than we humans will ever be able to do.


Alan, good theory but it is just plain wrong. Oxygen producing algae appeared about 3.5 billion years ago. But you cannot say that they created any kind of mass destruction. Because as far as Life Before Oxygen goes, they were mostly it. True there were likely some anaerobic organisms that were killed off by oxygen but the destruction of these few microorganisms that were present only in a few places hardly compares to the variety of life we find on earth today.

Anyway the first fossils are of cyanobacteria, that oxygen producing blue-green algae. There may have been no anaerobic organisms before cyanobacteria because they left no fossil record. The oldest known fossils, in fact, are cyanobacteria from Archaean rocks of western Australia, dated 3.5 billion years old.

Ron P.

Humans will be no exception.

And that is where everyone gets it wrong. Why has humans and their domestic animals gone from less than one tenth of one percent of the land vertebrate mass of the earth ten thousand years ago to ninety seven percent today. Because our brains make us an exception!

Every species has at least one survival adaptation. For some it is flight. For others it is flight and telescopic sight. For others it is speed. For others is is a very acute sense of smell but every animal has at least one. Homo sapiens have only one, our brains, we can think forward, reason and out think every other species on earth. And that has given us such an advantage that we are coming close to wiping out every other large vertebrate species on earth. Except our pets and domestic animals of course.

We are everywhere and can adapt to any climate or any terrain. We occupy every niche of the earth. We live in the desert or on the tundra. We live in the forest, in the mountains and on the sea. To say that we are no exception is not only incorrect, it is the most incorrect statement that can be made about Homo sapiens.

Climate change will be our downfall? Nonsense. We can adapt to any climate imaginable. Of course the climate could change so greatly that all life on earth would be wiped out. If so then Homo sapiens would likely be the last to go. Except for cockroaches of course.

Ron P.


"Because our brains make us an exception!"

Our brains make us the exception as long as there is a benefit to be gained from our intelligence. Our massive brains evolved to exploit the abundant resources that were present at that time. As those resources dwindled we adapted by using ever more complex technology to squeeze extra utility from what was available. The world after the die off will be a very different place. Our intelligence may not be as much of an advantage without much useful stuff to exploit. Before we had technology, our numbers were small. After tech, our numbers will likewise be highly
constrained, much like any other stupid animal.

"To say that we are no exception is not only incorrect, it is the most incorrect statement that can be made about Homo sapiens."

Huh? I thought that human exceptionalism (that humans are unique among the animals) was the most incorrect statement that can be made about Homo sapiens. If we are so smart that we can avoid extinction indefinitely, how come we aren't smart enough avert a massive die off?

"Climate change will be our downfall? Nonsense. We can adapt to any climate imaginable. Of course the climate could change so greatly that all life on earth would be wiped out."

Humans probably wouldn't be able to adapt to a climate and ecosystem like that of the late Permian

From Wikipedea: "...evidence for environmental change around the P–Tr boundary suggests an 8 °C (14.40 °F) rise in temperature."

Some climate scientists think that a large release of methane hydrate could perhaps warm the planet close to that level. According to recent reports, such an out gassing may already be underway. Catastophic climate change may already be "baked" into the system.

With our numbers massively reduced, our best technology useless, and our food supply threatened, it would only be a matter of time before Homo sapiens is no more. No matter how exceptional we think we are.

Our massive brains evolved to exploit the abundant resources that were present at that time.

No, our massive brains evolved during hunter-gatherer times. Resources were not so abundant during those times. Our population exploded way above the long term carrying capacity only after we found those abundant resources.

Our intelligence may not be as much of an advantage without much useful stuff to exploit.

Since our brains did not evolve to exploit those abundant resources, because those abundant resources were nowhere in sight when our brains evolved, we should do okay. Well, that is after the die-off.

Huh? I thought that human exceptionalism (that humans are unique among the animals) was the most incorrect statement that can be made about Homo sapiens.

Nonsense. Why do you think we are driving almost all other megafauna into extinction? When humans evolved intelligence as a means of survival and reproduction that gave us a tremendous advantage over all other species. We are taking over their resources and territory and driving them out. We can do so only because of the tremendous advantage we have over them.

If we are so smart that we can avoid extinction indefinitely, how come we aren't smart enough avert a massive die off?

Really now! One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. That is a very silly question. Homo sapiens are basically myopic. We evolved to survive from year to year. Our myopic nature did not prevent us from massive overshoot.

A massive die-off will occur because we have dramatically overshot the long term carrying capacity of the planet. That has already happened. We are currently destroying most other life on earth. We are drawing down our water tables, we are... hell I have told this story a hundred times and I am getting tired of it. But there is no cure for overshoot except die-off.

Look, even with an average temperature rise of 8 degrees C there will still be temperate areas of the earth that can support life. They will just be a lot further toward the poles than they are right now. Some human life will be definitely wiped out but there will be zones where it will be quite comfortable.

With our numbers massively reduced, our best technology useless, and our food supply threatened, it would only be a matter of time before Homo sapiens is no more. No matter how exceptional we think we are.

Again, nonsense. What technology did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have? How do you threaten roots, herbs and berries? And pointed stick agriculture will likely thrive. It will not support billions but many families will survive. True our technology will be useless and there will be no supermarkets but there will be roots, herbs and berries, and perhaps even beans and corn... for a few anyway.

Ron P.


You say: "No, our massive brains evolved during hunter-gatherer times. Resources were not so abundant during those times. Our population exploded way above the long term carrying capacity only after we found those abundant resources."

Of course I understand that our massive brains evolved during hunter gatherer times. And by abundant resources I don't mean oil and iron ore, I'm talking about game animals, fresh water, wood, etc. These were much more abundant than they are today. Once those resources were in short supply,
humans were forced to invent agriculture and cities. That is when the population really began to take off.

You say: "When humans evolved intelligence as a means of survival and reproduction that gave us a tremendous advantage over all other species. We are taking over their resources and territory and driving them out. We can do so only because of the tremendous advantage we have over them."

And this tremendous advantage can only be temporary. It is only accelerating our demise.

You say: "Really now! One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. That is a very silly question. Homo sapiens are basically myopic. We evolved to survive from year to year. Our myopic nature did not prevent us from massive overshoot."

I don't think it is a silly question at all. Our myopic nature didn't prevent us from massively overshooting carrying capacity which will result in an unavoidable massive die off. Yet somehow this same myopic nature results in a species like no other the earth has ever produced, one that is, short of an asteroid or supervolcano, immune from extinction? That is nonsense.

You say: "Again, nonsense. What technology did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have? How do you threaten roots, herbs and berries? And pointed stick agriculture will likely thrive."

Roots, herbs, and berries will be threatened by the extremes of climate change. Pointed stick agriculture may not exactly thrive.

The descendants of the die off survivors will use the same technology our hunter-gatherer ancestors did. That technology (sharpened rocks, etc.) won't do them much good without a large population of game species available to hunt and trap. Small groups of humans will be living on the thin edge of survival. It might not be possible for them to leverage their intelligence into a significant advantage over other animals. And like all other animals, we will eventually become extinct.

You only need to be 10% smarter than your food supply. Our relatively high intelligence therefore implies that at some point food was *very* hard to get.

Cockroaches are legendary in their survival characteristics, but people can and will eat the cockroaches to survive if they must. I agree with Darwinian that people are likely to be the last surviving megafauna, we will farm algae if that's all that's left.

No species is immune to extinction, but humanity is smart enough, adaptable enough, and just plain mean enough that our extinction is most likely through the evolution of a species that is smarter, more adaptable, and meaner than ourselves rather than by environmental collapse. In short, a more effective "human".


You say: "You only need to be 10% smarter than your food supply. Our relatively high intelligence therefore implies that at some point food was *very* hard to get."

That is incorrect. How did you arrive at the 10% figure? Most animals are smart enough to get the basic job done without human level intelligence. Human's evolved high intelligence because we have to be more social than other animals to make up for our lack of built in physical survival tools.

Humans may indeed end up being the last surviving megafauna, but we won't last much longer after that.

The 10% is a rule of thumb and rough approximation, not a precise figure. It is incorrect, but unless you can do better I'm going to stick with it for now.

And you underestimate humanity's built-in tools. We are built to physically take apart some of the best defences in the plant and animal kingdoms. Our long fingers let us deal effectively with spines, shells, and burrows. Our efficient gait lets us literally run prey to exhaustion.

We can't out-tiger a tiger, but we don't have to, and even in the absence of high intelligence our primate relatives do quite well with natural tools very similar to our own.


In the long run the best adaptations to the perils of a post die off world will have nothing to do with our intelligence. Like other large mammals under similar stresses, if we can survive at all, we will adapt by getting smaller. This will cut the amount of calories we will need to consume daily. It would also be very helpful to increase our reproductive rate and shorten our development cycle. If humans follow this course, our brain mass will also shrink, and with it much of our intellect. This would happen if the path to extinction were gradual. We might leave decedents but they would no longer be Homo sapiens.

The primary survival adaptation of Homo sapiens is intelligence. In times of great stress, when natural selection has the most influence, the very intelligent would have a greater survival rate than those not so intelligent. After all, that is how and why human intelligence evolved. Therefore we would likely become smarter and larger, or at least as large, not dumber and smaller.

In future times of great stress brawn will not be without its advantages. :-( But being both smart and brawny will be a tremendous help.

Ron P.


At the end of the last ice age wooly mammoths got much smaller probably because there was less food available. Also, check out the Wikipedea page on Homo floriensis: "To explain the small stature of H. floresiensis, Brown et al. have suggested that in the limited food environment on Flores, H. erectus evolved a smaller body size via insular dwarfism". With a diminished food supply, becoming smarter and larger may not be an option. Or an advantage.

Exactly. Why don't all animals have big brains like humans? Why don't humans have even bigger brains than we have now?

Because there's a cost. And it's not always worth paying. If a big brain means you're the first starve to death in a bad winter, selective pressure will be toward smaller, "cheaper" brains.

Of course there is always a price to pay. The price in humans is that we take much longer to develop because we cannot be born with the big brains that give us so much intelligence.

And of course smaller brains and smaller statue would require less food. But there would be a tremendous price to pay if we were much smaller and much less intelligent. And that price would likely be far greater than any benefit we might gain from requiring less food.

Think about it.

Ron P.

I have thought about it.

Can't you envision a future where maturing quickly is a better strategy than maturing slowly, even if maturing slowly means bigger brains and bodies?


You are correct. Intelligence has a price and it is surprizingly high. I looked around a bit and found that the human brain burns about 1.5 calories per minute (90 per hour) when thinking intensly and in any case the brain accounts for 20-30% of the calories consumed each day! That is very significant. And slow maturation means slower overall reproduction with a higher infant mortality rate. No matter how cool we think intelligence is, if it can't produce a benefit that outweighs it's costs, it will not persist in nature. The high cost of excess brainpower explains it's rarity.

Because our brains make us an exception!

I remember reading somewhere quite a long time ago, that humans were the only animal that could, swim across a river, run twenty miles, then climb a tree. Even without heavy brainpower, we are the most adaptable animal. Then add in even rudimentary tools making/using, skin an animal, and use its skin to extend our climate tolerance. Chip certain types of stones to make sharp objects to make up for our puny nailed hands, and small teeth....

Not so sure our brains are quite so unique. Several varieties of marine mamals have larger brains, although we don't know what they do with them. Some types of birds actually make and use primative tools, and crows are pretty good at counting..... It is the combination of brains, and a very adaptable body, plus nads that probably made the difference. If we had say a whale with an IQ of five hundred, it still would be incapable of making tools, modifying its environment, or inventing a written lanquage.

If we had say a whale with an IQ of five hundred, it still would be incapable of making tools, modifying its environment, or inventing a written lanquage.

Enemy, intelligence evolved because of its utility. It helped us survive and reproduce... at the expense of those not so endowed with intelligence. The smartest, in our hunter-gatherer days, collected more food, lived longer and reproduced more than those lesser endowed with smarts.

Intelligence that has no utility simply would never evolved. So a whale has only intelligence that has utility. If the whale cannot use it then it is not there because it never evolved.

Ron P.

Not very innovative Neanderthals had a good run. Intelligent, yes, but not nearly as innovative.

Humanity is a social animal. The intelligence of the individual has less meaning in a social group. I suspect that the Clovis point was not a sudden "Euruka" by a single individual, or even a genius knapper (flint worker) over a lifetime - but developed by a community of knappers over several generations.

And smaller size does have it's advantages. I think I perceive a smaller average size in those populations that have practiced agriculture longest in areas with periodic famines.

IMHO, a severe change in environment, and immense selection pressure, for homo sapiens seems likely to trigger evolutionary changes that will create a new homo species.

I fear that for a few generations, reduced conscience and reciprocal social connections will be pro-survival traits. Intelligence per se will not be selected for in the Great Die-Off. If anything, it will be a hindrance.

Any communities that avoid the initial Great Die-off (say Sweden & surrounds) will have a great technological edge over the depopulated areas. See the conquest of Siberia. What will develop then ?


Humanity is a social animal. The intelligence of the individual has less meaning in a social group.

Alan, in any group the most intelligent is far more likely than not to become the leader of that group. And even in egalitarian societies some members have more prestige than others and their advice is usually sought by others when hunting, building or anything else.

Intelligence always counts. If it didn't then it would have never evolved and we would still be swinging from trees. Intelligence was selected by natural selection. Evolution depends on variation. And there is always variation in levels of intelligence.

Ron P.

Looking back through recorded history, I cannot see too many cases where being the most intelligent lead to leadership. Napoleon yes. Washington No. Genghis Khan ?

Other traits are more prominent in becoming leaders IMHO. The most intelligent are more often not the leaders of the group, but the leaders have above average intelligence.

Above average intelligence was needed to be a successful leader, but not the most intelligent. There were a few kings called "The Clever", some more "The Wise", but only a few.

One issue is that intelligence is a multi-variant trait. There are at least a dozen types of intelligence, often overlapping, but also with gaps. (Rote memorization is not my thing for example).

Wisdom (social intelligence ?) is valued in many societies (although not our own).


Alan, in any group the most intelligent is far more likely than not to become the leader of that group.

I think that depends on how you define intelligence. Anyone who's worked with scientists or engineers has probably noticed that it's not the smartest who become the leaders - at least, not as scientists and engineers tend to define intelligence.

There's a theory of "Machiavellian intelligence," that holds that human intelligence actually evolved for social interaction. Specifically, politics. Is he lying to me? If he's friends with Joe, and Joe hates me, can I trust him? If I help him now, will he help me later?

The rest of it is just sort of an outgrowth of this political intelligence - basically, the ability to manipulate people. And the desire to do so. But people with a different kind of intelligence - say, the ability to formulate brilliant math theorems, or design a better mousetrap - may have neither the ability nor the desire to be leaders.

It depends on how you define leader, too. Most engineers and scientists know who in the company/department to ask for technical advice, and it usually isn't 'the boss.'

"Crows are pretty good a counting" but they can't subtract worth a hoot.If hunting crows and using a blind several hunters can walk into the blind and then just a couple leave and the crows thinks everyones gone.Sometimes you have to eat crow to win or if needed survive.

Homo sapiens are the least likely of all vertebrate species to go extinct. Humans and their domestic animals and pets make up 97 percent of the land vertebrate mass of the earth.

Well I wouldn't bet on that. Unlike 100% of the other species, Humans have access to weapons of mass death. The biggest threat may be biological weapons. Consider if bio-weapons are released during a hot war that are airbourn and have a fatallity rate of 98%. Or after a collapse, some survivors salvaging equipment unleash bio-weapons into the atmosphere.

Consider Klebsiella planticola, a GMO bacteria that was found to destroy most plant life. Has this GMO bacteria been released into the environment, it would have quickly devastated crops killing off the food supply to humans and animals. With the die off of plant life, humans and animals would quickly go extinct.

I think the combination of global malnutrition, global nuclear warfare, and global biological warfare would be the one, two, three punch that causes human extinction. The threat of extinction is real.

FWIW: I believe the odds of a nuclear war after an global economic collapse is 100%. I can't see how global war will be avoided. As soon as nations face bare supermarket shelves, they will go to war to take what they need to feed their populations. The people will empower radical leaders that will bring resources to the masses, just as they always have done throughout history. This time will not be any different.

We can already smell the first whiff in Europe as one by one, Nations loose there democractically elected leaders (Greece a couple of months ago, and Italy just a few weeks ago) replaced by plutocracies instigating forced austerity on the people. We will soon see EU nations fight back with new leaders taking back power and unification of nation populations with nationalism and state controlled economies - aka Fascism!

All this rhythms with the first globalization collapse that began between WW1 and WW2.

My knowledge of paleohistory is getting pretty rusty but haven't there been ultra-dominant top species before us -- some of whom shot self in foot by their own success? I'm trying to recall a mention I think I read in a "dinosaur" book of some "vaguely pig like" creature which dominated the available land mass in some prior epoch, then basically ate everything in sight and erased itself from the map. I remember wondering (at the time of reading) whether it drove SUVs :-)

Of course human extinction is a possibility, just an extremely unlikely one. The coming collapse will likely cull our numbers dramatically. Our numbers could go from seven billion to less than one billion, perhaps down to a few million. But there will be survivors.

Large numbers now are no guarantee of survival. Consider the passenger pigeon for instance.

Population size in 19th century: Approx. 3-5 billion
Population size in 20th century: Zero

I don't think anyone predicted that at the time.

Here are a couple of possible mechanisms for human extinction:

1. Genetically-engineered virus. Generally, there is some % of natural immunity to any disease. But if we allow for genetic engineering, then it seems a virus could be created with 100% mortality rate. Not even deliberately. See:

Nowak, R. (2001). Disaster in the making. New Scientist, 13 January 2001.

2. Extreme global warming (6 degrees plus).

Not many climate scientists have modelled very extreme, or runaway global warming (with feedback factor > 1). But the few who have stuck their necks out generally think it *is* possible, and would have very bad results if it happened. See for instance James Hansen ("Storms of My Grandchildren"). Or Mark Lynas and the various fun-and-games described in his final chapter, with anoxic oceans and fuel-air methane explosions.

Quick summary at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/apr/23/scienceandnature.climatechange

It's hard to see anyone surviving that, not even a few (relict) hunter-gatherer populations. Not much left to hunt or gather I'm afraid.

The passenger pigeon is a very poor example. The only one habitat, North America, and they had the most formidable enemy and predator imaginable, man.

Human intervention was at first relatively restrained, largely because of the limited numbers living in North America. The Indians captured the pigeons in large nets and by the 1630s the settlers of New England were doing the same. The young squabs were regarded as a great delicacy and the adults were sought after for their feathers as well as their meat. In the first couple of centuries of European settlement it is doubtful whether the number of pigeons declined very much given the relatively small number of humans in the area. After 1830 the practice of releasing live pigeons from traps for shooting practice began, but this in itself would not have proved fatal to the existence of the species even though about 250,000 a year were being killed in this way in the 1870s.

The population had certainly been reduced by the middle of the nineteenth century but was still several billion strong. The real onslaught began with the onset of large-scale commercial hunting carried out by well-organised trappers and shippers in order to supply the developing cities on the east coast of the United States with a cheap source of meat.
Species Extinction The Story of the Passenger Pigeon

Now if we lived in only location and had someone hunting us for sport and eating us, especially our babies, for food, then we might expect the same fate.

No there is no guarantee against extinction but very large numbers, located in every habitable habitat on earth and no other species shooting us for sport or eating us for food makes the odds of extinction extremely unlikely.

The virus in the article you posted does not affect humans and they were deliberately trying to create a killer virus. They were just too good at their job. So of course a mad scientist or a group of mad scientists might deliberately create a virus that could kill everyone. But that is an extremely unlikely "what if". We could play what if games all day.

And as I said earlier if there were some event like a comet or asteroid striking the earth then it might happen. But I doubt that global warming would do it at all. It would not get hot enough to destroy all life and there would always be habitats that were survivable.

Ron P.

I am not willing to rule out the possibility that 6+ global warming will not have an unconsidered side effect that makes air unsuitable for lung-bearing animals such as hairless monkys.

The virus in the article you posted does not affect humans and they were deliberately trying to create a killer virus. They were just too good at their job. So of course a mad scientist or a group of mad scientists might deliberately create a virus that could kill everyone. But that is an extremely unlikely "what if". We could play what if games all day.

Unfortunately militarized viruses already exists. Currently they are contained at military research facilities in most of the large industrial powers. In a global war or even if one of the countries with these viruses collapses the risks of release rise substantially. Also take notice of the researches in Holland that engineered a killer H1N5 virus for a research project. What possessed them to take on such a risky project is beyond all reason. http://www.doctortipster.com/6952-dutch-researcher-created-a-super-influ...

Excluding the risks associated with bio-warfare. There are significant risks with GMO research. Klebsiella planticola had the potential to destroy most plant life causing a total collapse of the food chain. GMO researchers are inserting Human and animal genes into plants in attempt to increase crop yields and increase resistance to infection. This raises the risks that Plant viruses or bacteria plant disease could cross over to the humans and animals after they adapt to the human genes inserted into plants. Perhaps is a race between economic collapse before GMO researchers create a Biological Shiva that wipes out humanity and possibly the entire animal kingdom. In my opinion mixing gene from the animal kingdom into the plant kingdom may just be the most dangerous thing humans ever do.

The passenger pigeon is a very poor example.

And yet - it is an example of 100% wipeout.

Another 100% wipeout - the American Locust. Dead and gone.

(now, what do both the American Locust and Passenger Pigeon have in common? Has that common element changed?)

They had a common enemy.

instinction is a possibility that no-one can deny on solid grounds - but it's also a non-starter. Why make any plans that are contingent on extinction? The only reason to plan is to avoid extinction - but it seems, to you, that's a mute point. So the question is, why post anything at all, if you're convinced we're doomed to extinction, in fact, why not just commit suicide, instead of sharing your feelings with the world (as it is here on TOD).

No offense intended, the likely answer is my point - you don't commit suicide because you feel that your life is worth living, at least for now, even if the rest of the humans go extinct after you are dead. And that's the answer to your riddle.

You are evidence that the world is able to contemplate extinction. The great majority of everyone are aware of the concept of extinction, but it's the gap between the expectation of enjoying their own lives, and the reality of impending extinction that are a bit too wide at present. They won't always be, and we can expect hard limits of BAU consumption to affect this change. In fact, there is a good chance that perceptions will alter quite rapidly in terms of these two perceived realities, and in time to avoid extinction, although clearly not catastrophe. I'd say the odds are even to good, but that's a WAG.

Good thing for OPEC that the world is just managing to limp along the road with $100 oil. It seems to be the price point that doesn't quite cause a full scale global recession but allows this sustained price. $100 oil keeps oil at $100. Nice sweet spot for OPEC.

However I don't think it's been engineered that way regradless of what OPEC say about 'holding back' or the market being adequtely supplied or such lip flapping. I think the price has reched a good point of equilibrium a bit like the analogy of the ball in the trough of energy levels.

I suppose then the next question will be what would it take to nudge the ball out of this state into anotehr state?

Production levels look fairly flat and shortfall made up with other black stuff/gas (energy generation) on top of stagnating global demand.
Debt deleveraging looks to be helping keep a ceiling on growth. Energy per capita is falling in line with efficiency gain (Although this I think kind of contradicts Javons paradox where we use more regardless of efficiency gain - but countered by the lack of hard cash in the peoples hands)

All in all it looks like we'll just keep limping on like this with the oil price comforably bumping in an around a $90-$110 boundary of satbility.

I'm trying to look at the reality and practical side of hte energy crisis as the doomer over the cliff train wreck assumed by many here seems to be taking an awful long time to play out!

Years ago I think it was Stuart Staniford who put up the article that graphed 3 possible decline curves for production and what they would mean for an economy. Well it looks like we are following the least steep one.


From 2005 to 2010, the supply of Available Net Exports* (ANE) of oil declined at an average volumetric rate of one mbpd per year, from 40 mbpd in 2005 to 35 mbpd in 2010. If we just extrapolate the 2005 to 2010 trends (basically flat production), ANE in 2020 would be down to about 21 mbpd in 2020, versus 40 mbpd in 2005. If we assume a 1%/year production decline among the exporting countries, and extrapolate the other variables based on 2005 to 2010, ANE in 2020 would be down to 15 mbpd. As to what will actually happen, time will tell, but the 2005 to 2010 trend seems pretty clear.

*Top 33 net oil exporters, BP + Minor EIA data = GNE. ANE = GNE less Chindia's combined net imports.

Two GNE & ANE scenarios:

0.1%/year Production Decline (2010 to 2020), Top 33 Net Oil Exporters:

1.0%/year Production Decline (2010 to 2020), Top 33 Net Oil Exporters:

Incidentally, net exports declines tend to be front-end loaded, i.e., the bulk of post-peak Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) are shipped early in the decline phase. A rough rule of thumb is that half of post-peak CNE are shipped about one third of the way into the net export decline. So, an initially relatively low net export decline rate is obscuring a sky high depletion rate. Some net exports and CNE comparisons (ELM, UK, Indonesia & Egypt):


If extrapolate the 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in the ratio of Consumption to Production for the top 33 net oil exporters, a rough estimate is that their post-2005 CNE will be about 50% depleted in 2020, 10 years hence, i.e. the global post-2005 cumulative net export fuel gauge, by definition, was full at the end of 2005. Based on the C/P projection and based on the above examples, at the end of 2020 the global post-2005 cumulative net export fuel gauge would show half empty, with China & India, and many other developing countries, currently consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE.

This means that more countries will have to use what they have rather than importing more oil.
i.e. The US will have to cut consumption down to less than 10 mbpd!

The US will have to cut consumption down to less than 10 mbpd!

BINGO! So, as I've been telling people for some years now, don't buy a car with more than four cylinders, and if you are using oil heat, change ASAP. A few years ago would have been a good time to do this.

It's not that hard to deal with. Try to pretend you're in a European high-fuel-tax country.

RE: Durban.


So let me understand this. Thay have all agreed to do nothing for another 8 years (2020)to reduce C02 emissions?


That's basically what I understood. They've agreed that everyone will negotiate at a later date... which sounds like a meaningless "positive" outcome just to save face (much like Copenhagen two years ago). They'll simply disagree later.

And by 2020, world emissions may very well be collapsing regardless of what we do anyway.

By 2020, natural methane emissions will be unstoppable, so by then, nothing we do will matter any more.

But, as the article notes, we will be "doing something", that is, emitting more CO2:

not all environmentalists were as convinced that the road map would work. "Governments have salvaged a path forward for negotiations, but we must be under no illusion – the outcome of Durban still leaves us with the prospect of being legally bound to a world of 4C warming," said Keith Allott of WWF-UK. "This would be catastrophic for people and the natural world."

E. Swanson

"prospect of being legally bound to a world of 4C warming"

And even if we tried mightily, we have no idea whether we can just warm the world up to a certain point and then stop. It is far more likely that, because of feedbacks, four degrees will lead to five which will lead to six...

"Legally bound"??? Who do we sue if it goes to 6 or 8 degrees? The only LAW involved in this is the Law of Nature!!! So, sue God or Mother Nature, or Gaia or the Tooth Fairy. What you believe or want; what I believe or want; what business believes or wants; none of these assertions have any force or impact on the consequences of our actions.

And, when temps make the equitorial areas of Africa and So.America uninhabitable by any species; when catastrophic tipping points are passed, saying "Oops" sucks. Prudence demands better... Sanity insists on it. Only Humanity is capable of turning its back on reason and forging ahead in blatent disregard for its own existence.

Wonder if there are any "Nature Default Swaps" being marketed. Not that there would be a way to make them good.


Who do we sue if it goes to 6 or 8 degrees?

I have the beginging frase of a fiction novel in my head like this:

"The last climate change denialist was executed in 2069. He was tied to a rock at the bottom of the dust dry sand banks of the Amazone river and left to die by thirst, with a printout from his blog nailed to a pole besides him, entitled 'Amazone rain forest will flourish with a more CO2-rich atmosphere.'".

I do not sugest we shuld hunt down CC denialist like Nazi war criminals, but who says we wont do it in 50 years or so?

It's as I always state. There are too many other 'immediate' poblems in the world for peoples attention to last too long and as Burgundy put it yesterday in his very insightful post there are too many distractions.

I'll bet if we we cruising along wth $40 oil, economy doing nicley, no middle east uprising.........then some real attention would be forthcoming

Not to mention the average politicians' avertion to committing political suicide by telling his people exactly what it would mean to reduce their carbon footprints by any meaningful amount. We all know what it means: a complete and utter change of lifestyle and a complete sea change in the capitalist growth model.

hmmmm.. maybe asking a bit much right now.


Thay have all agreed to do nothing for another 8 years (2020)to reduce C02 emissions?


Meanwhile, they have also agreed that there is a buck to be made, eh?



Kyoto Copenhagen and Durban were always a sick joke. To do anything about climate change you have to reduce your carbon emission, polite phrase for burning less fossil fuels. Burning less fossil fuels means less growth or to use that stupid expression negative growth. Which means less goodies to go around,which means less votes at the next election, no politician is going to voluntary commit political hari kari and that is what would happen if any of them ever signed up too such an agreement.Most politician's have a very short political life at the top of the greasy pole.It is an exceptional politician especially in a democracy that holds political power for more than 10 years.Dictatorships are slightly different but even then exceptions are not the rule such as Ghadafi or Castro. Hitler's reign was only 12 years the same as Napoleon. They will kick the can down the road because in 8 years they are the past tense and they know it,and they will do anything it takes to to bask a little longer in the sunshine of political power . Sorry if I sound so cynical

"Thay have all agreed to do nothing for another 8 years (2020) to reduce C02 emissions?"

Correct. Unusually honest of them, isn't it?

No one will agree to suicide their economy unless everyone else agrees as well. Since everyone expects someone else to cheat, no one is going to do anything except pursue BAU all out, trying to stay one step ahead of their own citizens rioting if the economy fails to grow as fast as population. The Europeans are not so mighty that they failed to notice events on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea this last year.

No one will agree to suicide their economy

No. Of course not. Instead we all agree to suicide ourselves.

The High Winds of the Upper Atmosphere Contain Less Renewable Energy Than Previously Assumed

... Based on atmospheric energetics and using climate simulation models, Kleidon’s group has calculated the maximum rate at which wind energy can be taken from the global atmosphere. According to their estimates, the jet streams have an output of just 7.5 terawatts (one terawatt equals a million megawatts). This means that they generate 200 times less usable wind energy than stated in previous studies, and only about half of humankind’s primary energy requirements, which totalled about 17 terawatts in the year 2010.

If turbines were to harvest the full 7.5 terawatts contained in the jet streams, this balance would be massively altered. The pressure difference between the equatorial region and the poles would disappear, and the whole climate system would slow down. “If we used wind turbines to take 7.5 terawatts out of the atmosphere at the level of the jet streams, about 300 terawatts less energy would be generated in the atmosphere as a whole”, explains Lee Miller, lead author of the study. “This would have a drastic impact on temperature and weather.”

No kites in our future eh? Kind of sad about that, it seemed a beautiful idea.

It doesn't say we can't generate a TW or three from this resource, just that all by itself this resource can't allow for BAU. It could still be a pretty good wedge in some sort of BAU-lite future.

Climate change blamed for dead trees in Africa

“Rainfall in the Sahel has dropped 20-30 percent in the 20th century, the world’s most severe long-term drought since measurements from rainfall gauges began in the mid-1800s,” said study lead author Patrick Gonzalez, who conducted the study while he was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Forestry. “Previous research already established climate change as the primary cause of the drought, which has overwhelmed the resilience of the trees.”

Their results indicate that climate change is shifting vegetation zones south toward moister areas. ... “In the Sahel, drying out of the soil directly kills trees. Tree dieback is occurring at the biome level. It’s not just one species that is dying; whole groups of species are dying out.”

The BioFuels Bandwagon

Lots of school districts and other government agencies here is Maine are jumping on the biofuels bandwagon, and converting many public buildings to burn wood chips or wood pellets instead of heating oil. Today’s Morning Sentinel has an article about one school district that plans to spend up to $2 million for a lease purchase agreement for a new wood pellet boiler to heat two buildings. See http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/sad-54officials-approveborrowing-plan.... The only thing unusual about this particular project is that SAD54 is apparently going ahead without a federal grant and will end up paying the entire cost themselves.

I’m a little doubtful about how well all these wood chip and pellet boilers will work in schools, because any reasonably well insulated school building only needs heat for about six hours per week. Typically they need heat for up to two hours to warm up a building on Monday mornings, and then another hour on each of the other four mornings. After all the students arrive and all the lights are on, typical school buildings don’t need any more heat for the rest of the day. In fact, most occupied classrooms need outside air ventilation by 10 am in order to not become too warm and stuffy. But wood chip boilers may not be very efficient for these brief warmup periods.

Also, the people making these decisions apparently are not looking at other lower cost alternatives. One of the quotes in the article is: "In the first year, the savings would be somewhere between 20 and 30 percent. It's a hedge against the increased cost of oil."

What most school bureaucrats apparently don’t know is that heating oil consumption can often be reduced by 10 to 30 percent, and sometimes up to 40%, just by installing better controls on existing oil fired heating systems, to improve the seasonal heating efficiency. They seem to go by the simplistic assumption that if an energy upgrade doesn’t cost a small fortune, it can’t be any good.

And then the Witch said, "All the better to hasten desertification for you my dear."

See yesaterday's drumbeat" : Tajikistan: Energy Shortage Accelerates Deforestation

and a supplement posted by "X" down-thread.


the slope becomes slipperyer and slipperyer...

Yup. Someone did a study about three years ago, which concluded that Maine can grow enough wood sustainably to heat about 10% of our houses. I don't remember if they included commercial buildings or not.

But if we can provide only about 10% of our heating fuel as wood, it would make more sense to use it in homes, or maybe in nursing homes, etc., where they need heat 24 hours per day, seven days per week, instead of in public schools where they need maximum heat for about six hours per week, and then nothing for the other 162 hours per week.

Right now we have five or six school districts in the immediate area that are doing conversions to burn wood, and they each refer to an ample supply of wood within fifty miles. But after they convert a dozen or more big school buildings, and Colby College, that wood supply may quickly look much less ample.

Or rebuild houses. More people under the same roof, using that wood to build very thick walls for thermal insulation, and you would get a lot more than 10%.

Later, when we run out of food, we can tear down those new houses and use the wood for campfires. Now that's a conservative thought! Multi-tasking forestry.


You take the wood, I want the glass and the plumbing parts.. then I'll hardly need fires.

Just think Breadman, what would it be like if you found yourself in a situation where most of Maine really did have to rely on heating just "10% of our houses" for a few weeks, or months, or... a crisis which leaves the area with enough fuels (all fuels) to run all "minimum-necessary" infrastructure, but which means your area would have to adapt to heating the equivalence of 10% of the homes.

From planning for "Seven generations..." to planning for "7 years," .. to "7 days"... to 7 meals...

grow enough wood sustainably to heat about 10% of our houses.

Local people who had Horses as a teenager were pitching "get rid of cars and move to Horses" as a solution.

Based on State population of humans, Ag land in the public record and the conversion rate of Ag land -> grass -> horse support per acre of grass I came up with 6% of the population able to support a Horse.

The pro-Horse people kept posting to the list about how great horses were.

We had problems finding the renewable energy source to support a horse based transport infrastructure 150 years ago. Now we are strugging to find a renewable energy source for our steel-horses. I don't think we will succeed.

It's probably relevant that in all but nomadic (low population density, mobile grazing) cultures, horse ownership was traditionally restricted to a fairly small percentage of the population, and *riding* horse ownership was generally restricted to the elite.

Goats OTOH can be trained to pull a small cart...

RA - you are spot on about horses. I think that, as a recreational item, they are on a par with boats for being a money sink!

goats can be trained to pull a small cart, but keep in mind that, fpr travelling any distance, a good part of the cart may need to be given over to goat feed!

AS OldFarmerMac has pointed out many times, horses (or other animals) as transport "engines" require fuel even when they are not doing anything.

If we were prepared to travel at the speed of goats/oxen/horses, then the energy/power requirements are so low that our existing oil supplies would last thousands of years. Once we reduce the speeds that much, the enrgy consumption drops by an order of magnitude.

Also, any "two goat" cart could equally be powered by a 12V battery and one solar panel.

To see the sort of useful work a 12v vehicle can do, check out this cool video.


If I'd had one of those when I was a kid, you could never get me off it!

Goats are nice and all, but something like that electric atv (at normal size) is far more versatile.

Unlike 12 volt vehicles with solar panels, horses generate their own replacements. In a very low-tech fashion.

That said, most people who own horses for pleasure spend a fair chunk of change.

But a lot of work is being done by horses, even today. Though I don't envision a return to pre-20th centure modes, I can definitely seeing horses being useful in certain applications in the future - logging, farming, hauling.

I used to do logging with my horse, and no ATV, electric or otherwise, could have pulled nearly the load.

Horses are something of an unaffordability luxury for most people in the modern world, just as they were in the ancient world. Buy a bicycle instead.

RMG - you beat me to it. I have two trailers for hauling stuff with my bicycles. Last weekend I helped out with a move, and hauled a queen-sized bed (mattress AND box springs!) on my larger trailer.


Yes they can replace themselves, that is a definite advantage. But the fact they need constant feed, especially in winter, is a definite disadvantage.
This is not to say they can;t be used, but while mechanical/electrical equipment is available, it will do better. As has been the case with most farming, that powered machinery, as soon as it was available, displaced horses relatively quickly. Even when it was just steam engines, and we can do so much better today.

I commend you on logging with a horse, and some people still do that today, and power to them.
As for the ATV, set one up with a log arch and it will tow some decent logs. Replace the rear wheels with tracks (2:1 reduction) and it will go anywhere and pull a surprising amount.
Set it up with this sort of equipment - very cheap - and it becomes a forklift too. You could make a rig to this with a horse, but I doubt it would be this simple..


Whether the engine is horse or electric atv's/ tractors, the real thing is a reduction in the energy inputs (on farm and off) used in farming. Then there are more options that just diesel tractors to do the job.

In much of American history, everyone in the country had a horse, and it was not restricted to any elite.

Goats can be trained to pull a small cart. Horses pull large carts. Before trains, everything moved by horses (or more slowly, by oxen). Before automobiles/trucks, everything moved from the train station or wharfs to the city and wherever by horse.

I know many people who, today, are logging, farming, and haying with horses. It works very well.

I'm not saying that horses are a drop-in replacement to keep BAU going - that's obviously ridiculous. But some of the dismissal of horses seems to be a denial of history before the 20th century.

My son-in-law traded for a fine young mule a few weeks ago. It is pack, harness and collar broken already, and will likely be a new boarder at my place soon. I'm looking forward to getting to know our first mule, a welcome addition to the family. Now we have to decide if it's a boy or a girl ;-)

In much of American history, everyone in the country had a horse,

Not true in urban areas, or fishing villages, and I suspect many farmers just had one or two mules - not horses.

I walk through the Garden District of New Orleans, built by millionaires (gold & silver dollar millionaires) in the 1830s to 1850s. Remains of anything that could have been horse stables are few and far between.

Older areas of Boston seemed much the same.

The rich used the St. Charles streetcar (opened 1834-1835), just as I do today :-)

Best Hopes,


In Spain the word for gentleman is "caballero" which is also a horseman. Simply because the average Hombre could not afford a horse.

The average Hombre was not allowed to have a horse.

Alan, I didn't mean "everyone in the country" as, well, every person in the US. I meant everyone living on the countryside. Of course it was not true in urban areas, etc., where individuals didn't need a horse or a mule or whatever.

But if you look at any pictures of city streets in the 19th century, what you see is horses. Taxis, wagons, etc. There were huge stables in Boston and NY City - they just shut down the last of them in NY not that long ago.

Streetcars were pulled by horses pre-electrification.

Hey, I have a great idea. Multi task the horses... we use the horse dung as fuel for our cookstoves.


Russia Has Lost More Than $500 Billion to Illicit Money Outflows Since 2000

As tremors of distrust resonate throughout Russia due to widely-believed allegations of fraud in Sunday’s Parliamentary elections, new research reveals that US$501.3 billion in illicit money has left the country in the ten years (2000-2009) following Vladimir Putin’s rise to power.

There are several reasons as to why capital flight could increase this year. First, Putin’s promise to restructure his cabinet post-presidential elections in March worries companies that have shady dealings with bureaucrats.

Second, in a country where tax evasion and transfer pricing are commonplace pastimes, Russia is finding that its revenues are not quite up to par for debt repayment — . A global recession has caused investors to look to the dollar as a safe haven, implying a fall for weaker currencies like the ruble.

... “People at the moment don’t have an idea which officials will be around next year and who will be gone,” said Julia Tsepliaeva, chief economist at BNP Paribas in Moscow. “If you’re a businessman or a company that has an arrangement with a certain bureaucrat, this lack of clarity may lead you to move capital abroad.”

"US$501.3 billion in illicit money has left the country in the ten years (2000-2009) following Vladimir Putin’s rise to power."

Putin is a Piker. The Fed does this in minutes.

"It's So Secret, Even the Fed Does Not Know Who It's Lending To"



The way things are going, I can only say that we will be multi tasking the money, and using it for fuel as well.


British Police Testing Non-Lethal Laser Rifle That Temporarily Blinds Rioters

A shoulder-mounted laser that emits a blinding wall of light capable of repelling rioters is to be trialled by police under preparations to prevent a repeat of this summer’s looting and arson.

The technology, developed by a former Royal Marine commando, temporarily impairs the vision of anyone who looks towards the source.It has impressed a division of the Home Office which is testing a new range of devices because of the growing number of violent situations facing the police.

Other technology being studied includes ‘wireless electronic interceptors’ that can be fired a greater distance than Tasers, and long-range chemical irritant projectiles, the newspaper said.

now here's to my point when people say that new tech can't hold 99% in check in a post PO apocalypse. This is the real danger, and why political engagement is absolutely essential at this point in history. We can either ratchet down from our current position in steps, and build in sustainable culture as we go through careful alliance between plural forces of our current system, or we can go all out resource war. In the latter scenario, the rich hide behind a wall of technology, and the poor duke it out in the great wide open. That's the middle ages in overdrive, not a pretty sight.

We can either ratchet down from our current position in steps, and build in sustainable culture as we go through careful alliance between plural forces of our current system, or we can go all out resource war.

A few questions come to mind. Just who is this "we" you speak of? Does that include the Chinese? The Indians? Or how about the Iranians? You have to be talking about the whole world here and "we" will just watch this thing play out between nations as it unfolds.

And just what is a "sustainable culture"? There are many different culture on earth today. The only ones that might be sustainable are the ones that have zero population growth and are not drawing down their natural resources of forest, top soil, water and fossil fuels. There may be such a culture somewhere but I don't know of any.

The earth cannot sustain seven billion people for any great length of time. If we could then we would not be destroying the ocean fisheries or drawing down the water tables all over the earth, of using up our topsoil, increasing the size of deserts, clearing the rain forest and dry forest, driving so many species into extinction or using up our remaining fossil fuels.

Sustainable culture indeed.

Ron P.

waitaminit - you're not still bitter over what I said about space rocks are you? come to think of it, there's something simple I want to ask you, and it goes right to this topic as well as to our last: what, in your opinion, is the most optimistic outcome of PO?

And please, don't skimp on details if you've got 'em. Also, if you do answer, please give me a genuinely optimistic answer, if you believe there could be one - not one that merely satisfies the sense of outrage over the stupidity of our current situation (that's a sentiment we share by the way). I want to know what the best guess is, in your estimation, of what the most positive outcome could be, given realistically optimistic assessment of our resource limits, as well as some luck and the benefit of the doubt.

If you answer me that, I'll give you my definition of a "sustainable culture" as you've asked - and you know I will, because I always write back.


waitaminit - you're not still bitter over what I said about space rocks are you?

Sorry, I don't remember that post so I haven't a clue as to what you are talking about. I am getting up in years and my memory isn't what it used to be. Anyway, my reply had nothing to do with any past posts.

what, in your opinion, is the most optimistic outcome of PO? so, if you do answer, please give me a genuinely optimistic answer,

Why in God's name do you want an optimistic answer? Well sorry but I just don't have one. My answer would be very pessimistic. Sorry to disappoint you. Anyway it is not just about peak oil but the whole damn shooting match.
We are talking about everything! Everything from overpopulation to the destruction of the earth's biosphere. We Homo sapiens have developed huge brains that allows us to out compete every other species on earth for resources and territory. And we are winning... Big Time! We are driving almost every other vertebrate species into extinction. We are Homo sapiens, wise man, wise but just not quite wise enough.

The outcome is not good. We are headed for total collapse. If we had enough fossil fuel to last forever then our collapse might be delayed a decade or two. But since fossil fuel has allowed our population explosion, the decline of fossil fuel will likely be the trigger that causes an early collapse.

But I am not ready to write a long essay on that point right now. So I will just say that by 2050 I would expect the population of the earth to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 billion. And by 2100 down to well under 1 billion. Of course that is just a WAG, but a very optimistic WAG.

Sorry that I could not be more optimistic for you.

Ron P.


I respect your right to have this point of view, but I have something to say about it.

I appreciate this post - if this is the best, most optimistic statement you can make - 2 billion by 2050, 1 billion by 2100, then there's nothing pessimistic about it. I admit though, I'm curious about your pessimistic guess.

What about after that? Do you think it's all down hill from there? Is it back to caves and subsistence? Is the peak of human ingenuity and culture tied forever to the black stuff under ground? Or is there any chance of a new form of civilization beyond the 1 billion 2100?

On anther note, in all honesty, I think of this attitude of yours as potential pitfall for PO advocacy - not necessarily because you aren't correct, but because I think pessimism reaches a limit where it ceases to be useful, just as optimism. People have a right to mitigate their condition through working towards optimistic goals, and it's chiefly as a way to help people that optimism deserves some respect as well.

You personally may not care what people think, or whether they have given up on 'everything' like you, but then, why do you bother coming to a site like this and posting data, and commentary? Are you making a personal profit here? Or are you just looking to wallow in the pure vacuous horror of our inevitable fate?

Or do you still hold on to the idea that good thinking, good planning, pragmatism, common-sense, pluralism, community and maybe some luck, offer the best possible foundation on which to cope with our future, both near term and long term?

And I'll say one more thing on the scientific viewpoint of the inevitability of our collapse as a species, because even if you don't remember, we've tangled on scientific topics before.

True, as can be demonstrated in any test tube, a population of organisms can exploit its resources until it goes extinct in its own filth. But there are plenty of examples in the scientific natural world of the opposite, especially in macro-biology - of species carefully cultivating their habitat, breeding at a slow rate, evolving sustainable relationships with their external biosphere.

Beyond that, it's safe to say, within our knowledge, that humans are unprecedented in terms of macro-biology, for our big intelligent brains that we cart around in bone carriages. While you may feel confident predicting our demise, you might also consider that we are something of an evolutionary singularity, and therefore it is not necessarily safe to predict with absolute certainty what we are or aren't capable of, especially with respect to the survival of the species. There has never been a species quite like us, on this planet at least, as far as we know.

To answer the question of what is a sustainable culture, well there have definitely been sustainable human cultures in the past. The aboriginals of Australia, or the Inuit for example. Tribes such as these could have and did exist for thousands and thousands of years without degrading their environment - and in many cases they actively improved it.

However, any of these tribes could have been wiped out by an asteroid or volcano, so in a sense, they weren't sustainable. In that same sense, we are more sustainable than they are. With our science and our exploitative treatment on the substrate and underlying matter of our biosphere, we are in some ways thinking in more concrete terms than these ancient tribes did.

Supposing that we survive past your 1 billion people with some part of our civilization intact - say electricity, and metallurgy, for example - there's enough metal floating around to satisfy the diminished needs of 1 billion people for a while, thanks to the last 100 years of mining. Well, to me, these look like the conditions for the blossoming of an entirely new culture, and a new paradigm of culture.

Having survived PO, the remaining set of people will be dramatically changed by the experience. They won't soon forget, and survivors are likely to be smart, well organized, and hard working. But they will have technology - they won't have it like we have it: wasteful and gratuitous - but they'll have enough of it, and enough of the memory of it, as well as the tools to understand it and remake it.

Just roughly speaking, I'd say that describes the conditions for a rebuilt civilization that is based on the recent memory of collapse and therefore more likely to be conscious and careful about the future. In fact, it's likely happened many times in human history past when our ancestors hunted or developed various food sources to extinction or exhaustion, building great civilizations, then collapsing, only to re-emerge in more efficient, and more complex form again. It's the idea that humans can learn from their mistakes, and that collapse at time presages newer, impossibly greater human cultures.

And please don't take my idea here to be any kind of hard, statistical fact - it's just speculation, optimism, and imagination at work - part of the human right and experience. I enjoy the challenge of the subject, and appreciate talking to you about it.

What about after that? Do you think it's all down hill from there?

After that? What do you expect of me? I have no idea about after that. How about this? "After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods." That is about the best guess I can come up with.

I think pessimism reaches a limit where it ceases to be useful, just as optimism.

I am not at all concerned with the utility of either pessimism or optimism. I really don't give a damn whether or not either is useful or not. Why on earth do you think that would matter to me? I am just an observer, nothing more. I am observing history unfold. However I have a slight advantage over most others, I know what is happening. Most don't have a clue. Of course many other TODers know also. But the general public doesn't have a clue.

why do you bother coming to a site like this and posting data, and commentary? Are you making a personal profit here? Or are you just looking to wallow in the pure vacuous horror of our inevitable fate?

I have stated, on this list many times before, when you are watching the end of the world as you know it unfold then it is just hard to take your eyes off it. I am just one of the gawkers. Am I making a persona profit from it? When you are watching a disaster unfold, are you doing it with the idea of making a profit? God, how absurd can one get? Let me turn the question back to you. When you were watching the seemingly slow motion picture of the Japan Tsunami were you just looking to wallow in the pure vacuous horror of their inevitable fate? Please tehChromic, don't insult me again with such a stupid question.

I have no comments on what might survive after the collapse reaches its climax, perhaps 100 years from now. How the hell would I know? Everything beyond that point is just wild speculation.

Ron P.

Did you read the rest of his post? It was really quite beautiful. Do you have any input on the world he describes post peak oil?

It may be beautiful, but it's not terribly realistic. Human societies have collapsed many times in the past, and the result was not a new, better version of human.

Moreover, I think there's a good chance Fred Hoyle is right:

We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.

I disagree with that.

100 million years will be enough to redevelop some deposits. NOT the bounty we inherited, but enough for a wiser, less profligate species to do a lot with.

And scarcity creates it's own technology. Ceramics have potential that we have not fully developed. Fullerenes are another intriguing avenue. And there will never be a shortage of iron or aluminum.

Best Hopes for the Next Intelligent Species,


"100 million years will be enough..." "there will never be a shortage of iron or aluminum"

If you say so...

Alu is one of those things we will never run out of. The deposits in the earths crust are very large. But it takes a lot of supporting infrastructure to get it out; trucks for mining the bauxite, electricity (in large amounts) to turn that into pure alumineum.

It is the underlying infrastructure that makes it.

As an unrelated side note; My boss says "alenumnum" when he speaks about the metal. It is hilarious.

Jedi, as you state, it is the underlying infrastructure, as well as geopolitics and so many other factors... I don't fear "running out."

Looking so far into the future, "never" or "there will be enough" sound more like statements of faith.

"Insufficient data" sounds more reasonable.

Your boss isn't trying to say 'Alan from Big Easy' in Swedish, is he?

I don't think we'll see an extensive aluminium shortage either, considering the strong likelihood that there will soon be a population decline, we'll have vast amounts of alan drakium around, given all the retired soda cans and 747's that are already out and about...

There is enough here to alleviate most any any shortage.


Your tax dollars at work!

waiting around for oil and coal to re-coalesce is not practical (lol) and I don't think it will be necessary - technology forms bridges. True, we won't be driving SUV's post collapse - our cultural valuation will have changed forever. But we won't stop using electricity, or even computers even if we only have 1 billion people. The essential technology that exists now will persist while some or most its more extravagant incarnations will fall away. But whatever persists will re-establish itself in a more essential form, and will eventually become more sophisticated than it was previously, due directly to the pressure of limits on what was previously an 'unlimited' resource.

I'll give an example: aurochs, along with the great leftover land mammals of the pleistocene that were the primary food source of the hunting tribes of pre-civilization Europe. This was a vast resource at the time. It allowed human culture to flourish in Europe, and our success at exploiting this resource allowed us to establish the roots of our modern human civilization. Advanced use of tools, and the division of labor (the precursor to social and class order), as well as our all-important communications skills, and our ability to tell stories and form close-knit tribal units, these all matured in the period when the massive wild grazing animals provided our food stuffs. However, our success at mastering the technology of stone tools and communications caused us to exploit the aurochs and mammoths to extinction, precipitating a kind of collapse of our early hunting/gathering civilization.

While the outcome was calamatous for humans at the time, the technology they had developed over those thousands of years of plenty formed the foundation of a new kind of civilization - depending on smaller animals, and carefully managed herds, as well as sowing and tending to plant food sources. The technology of tool making and communications enabled the survivors to innovate a more efficient approach to food resource. And this created the foundation for farming, and settled civilization.

The new lifestyle was certainly less heroic, more laborious, and less desirable evan as it provided incredible advantages for humans at large. But had you tried to sell the early European on that fact - on the merits of living in a village, tending sheep and crops, and living within his means - he would probably have stuck a flint axe in your skull. No matter that it would enable humans unprecedented growth, it would have been a considerable hit to his status, and would have interrupted his BAU.

This is exactly the situation we are in with respect to fossils - they're our aurochs. And, like the hunters, when we collapse, we'll find that we have all the tools to exploit resources that we previously considered too much trouble to work with. That's the EM and thermal radiation produced by the sun, the motion of the wind and waves, the energy of radioactive decay, and the thermal energy of the earth's crust. These sources or energy are orders of magnitude greater than oil gas or coal, they're just harder to cultivate. But the technological platform is there. Now we have to wait til the modern aurochs go extinct before the culture faces its new reality.

And then just like the sheep and grain enabled a higher magnitude of culture once the status quo had reset, so our human culture will be bigger and more potent than before, provided we don't wipe ourselves out in the transition.

Chromic... way too much here to respond to. I think nearly everything you suggest is loaded with assumptions we cannot make ("insufficient data").

One thing that struck me, I would change this sentence:

"However, our success at mastering the technology of stone tools and communications..."

Replace "stone tools" with flinging feces. ; )

Not picking on you at all Chromatin, but I think all of us here should keep this in the back of our minds.

How to recognize and dispel Illusions

At the end of his book, Kahneman asks the question: What practical benefit can we derive from an understanding of our irrational mental processes?

We know that our judgments are heavily biased by inherited illusions, which helped us to survive in a snake-infested jungle but have nothing to do with logic. We also know that, even when we become aware of the bias and the illusions, the illusions do not disappear. What use is it to know that we are deluded, if the knowledge does not dispel the delusions?

Kahneman answers this question by saying that he hopes to change our behavior by changing our vocabulary.

If the names that he invented for various common biases and illusions, “illusion of validity,” “availability bias,” “endowment effect,” and others that I have no space to describe in this review, become part of our everyday vocabulary, then he hopes to see the illusions lose their power to deceive us...

Mr aardvark

You have an interesting discussion style. You say that my post contains assumptions and insufficient data, yet you site none of them. Mine was a general post, not an academic paper. If you want sources I can provide them.

Me: "However, our success at mastering the technology of stone tools and communications..."

You: Replace "stone tools" with flinging feces. ; )

Is this an example of an assumption that I am making? Are you saying that humans did not master tool making and communication skills during the 'stone age', that we didn't hunt the aurochs and mammoth to extinction, and that we don't proceed to develop a stationary, farm based culture?

And which of the points I made are you calling a personal delusion? Do you think I'm insulted? I'm not offended, but if you say that someone is suffering from illusions, and you don't bother to point out what you think the reality is, then you're simply slinging poop and pretending to be smart.

With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.

The Hoyle quote (one I've quoted myself) is quite correct insofar as it refers to eternal-growth-based extractive societies expanding into space, or even re-creating the sort of techno-infrastructure that exists today. However, it implies a very narrow, even circular, definition of "intelligence". Infrastructure & manufactured complexity are simply the defined measure of intelligence we choose to use.

This is pretty certainly the one big shot at an extractive metastasizing industrial "civilization" by an earth species, since the geological concentration of "resources" proceeds very slowly. However, there is no a priori reason that "intelligence" by some more reasonable definition might not surpass what we have now, IF we don't preclude those possibilities as it seems we may.

And not just among human descendants; heavens, there are Bowhead whales alive at this moment which were mature when Jefferson was president, and they sense and communicate with brains many times the size of ours, and possibly in some sensory modalities we don't possess. That doesn't make them smarter, but neither can one lightly assume such beings don't have high intelligence simply because they don't build steam engines. They are alien minds; we use them to feed sled dogs and minks.

Could be that there have been perfectly sustainable high-intelligence non-materialist cultures on earth, and we just don't respect them since we can kill them so easily.

It's a very human way to think.

Well said! And the idea that we've missed our chance to get off the planet is absurd. And go where? Another planet? Well, look around the neighborhood and let's see...Mars is as good an option as there is, and now that we've seen it who thinks we can live there (well)? Other stars?

We know enough now to see that the barriers are too great, far greater than all the things we talk about being "possible" here on Earth that we cannot seem to come close to achieving.

I think humans are capable of seeing intelligence differently, but it's hard to imagine how to get there starting with the present society.

well here I go, and I'm likely to get called a techno-cornucopian, but i may as well speak my mind - that's the point right? So here's my disclaimer:

I am aware of the realities of PO, population, peak everything and etc, and I think we're as likely to go extinct as to do anything, but if we do survive, with some of our technology intact, then I think it's worthwhile speculating what our culture will look like and be capable of. Especially as our actions now might still have some affect on that outcome, it's worth discussing technology and human activity that can mitigate the coming crash. So this is why I post, not because I am a wide eyed optimist, but because I don't think it's all just a hopeless gawkers' spectacle - there's action we can take - and other readers might feel the same.

I'll use the article on the front page of TOD as my baseline:

Note how much bigger the solar potential is than our demand of 0.09 W/m² of land area. This implies that we need only 0.05% of the land to capture adequate sunlight, or that enough sunlight strikes land (the entire Earth) in 4.5 hours (1.25 hours) to satisfy our needs for a year. That’s a powerful resource!

A powerful resource of energy indeed, more abundant by far than coal, oil, or 'natural' gas. But it requires a high technical capacity to produce - to replace our current energy usage with solar electricity may well require the kind of massive infrastructure changes that are associated with a collapse - a total change in BAU and our way of life.

However, for people who argue that it is impossible to produce high technology without the 'stepping stone' of fossil fuels, this is quite simply false. There is a difference between logistical difficulty, and impossibility. The fabrication of solar-electric panels requires raw materials and energy. Using solar power (or wind, tidal, water, nuclear etc) to produce the foundation for a solar powered energy infrastructure is not an impossibility.

It may well be true that without the stepping stone of fossil, we would never have developed the capacity to turn solar energy to electricity to do work. But now that we do use electricity, in my opinion, barring extinction, we're not likely to stop using it, even as we lose our stepping stone. To echo a pol: Say what you will about our history, we humans are tenacious sons of guns, and especially when it comes to clinging to our technology.

I respect your post, and totally respect the idea of intelligence is a multifaceted instrument which we have been able to exploit in a particularly successful vein, while lacking in the overall sense of consciousness and interactivity compared to other animals. The development of consciousness has in all likelihood diminished as result of our 'intelligence', so I completely agree.

But I'll say something about the one-shot-affair including space, (not that we're headed up there soon and that will save us from PO - that is NOT what I say). What I say is that I don't necessarily understand this perspective of a high-tech culture being tied to fossils. Certainly the ability to extract resources like metals - the building blocks of a high tech infrastructure is a function of energy. If we have the energy in the right form, we can produce the raw materials. If we have the raw materials, then we can build the high-tech infrastructure to produce the energy in the right form. So it's a paradox - but it works in our favor! Again, I'm not arguing logistics or practical, likelihoods, I'm just pointing out that there's nothing impossible about high tech culture without fossils.

Hi tehC, this is an "old" drumbeat now and not many will read the comments, so you may take this as a direct answer to your post on my post.... you may also feel free to continue it by clicking on my screen name and posting via email if you like.

I fully agree that we should actively try to affect the outcome of the human techno-overshoot clusterf*ck, and have been actively engaged in that since 1975, though less effectively in the last decade.

I agree with Ron that humans will probably tend to be some of the least-likely megafauna to go extinct in the next thousand years, unless something like runaway venus-like heating occurs; though we have reduced the potential number of future human lives on earth from trillions down to probably no more than a couple hundred-billion due to possessing cleverness rather than sapience, and continue to reduce that future total daily.

I don't think it's impossible to have high science and tech without the current infrastructure; Einstein revolutionized physics just by sitting in a room and thinking about the universe. Spiders make strong polymers with their butts. And despite much hand-wringing about the "intermittency" of things like solar power, we are each born with autonomous baseload power built into our bodies.

We won't stabilize out at 7 or 10 billion, but if we don't cook the planet, there will be a fair number of humans around. There will tend to be islands of higher tech for some time which conduct trade with the growing areas of lowered tech. Things like pure rare earths will become unavailable, and many other things will take a lot longer to pull together from a more fragmented human global presence. Something like Greer's salvage society will happen, though I tend to think there will be more precipitous phase shifts of various kinds than he seems to.

It may be possible for some nation to orbit weather satellites in 100 years, if the cost is considered worthwhile in that context. We went to the moon basically on von Braun technology not that far removed from V-2's... but in an era in which energy and therefore resources and specialized personpower were essentially free. It's also possible that all space activities by man will end within the next 50 years. No way to know at this point. The longer it takes for this civilization to crash, the less likely there will be another based on extractive industrial processes (as opposed to salvage).

Our current civilization is using up all the planet's stores of concentrated materials on air conditioning, iPods, SUV's, etc. It is a very effective agent of entropy, seeking out and destroying all useful concentrations of anything, and always destroying the best and biggest first. A scientist today has nearly unlimited options. A scientist in the future will have quite limited options. That's what we're foreclosing in all aspects of life: options. The chain of necessary events leading to a well-stocked science lab today is insanely complex, and even it must rely on just-in-time replenishment via jet aircraft delivery from the deepest mining pits and arcane systhesis labs on earth.

Energy means little without materials. Life itself requires certain elements and conditions, and something like a technological civilization requires a lot more. How would you refine the rare elements out of a pile of scrap ipods using only electricity, and on what scale?

Still, I hope the scientific method is not entirely lost, and that its process of understanding the universe will continue as long as humans do.

And if humans drop the ball entirely - as seems to be the strong trend - I care that some nonhuman beings also have self-aware minds with which to contemplate the universe. We're getting what we've brought on ourselves unnecessarily; they're the ones with the curse.


appreciate the reply. In my view it's well reasoned and doesn't suffer from any overblown morbidity. I agree with Darwinian that it's tough to attempt to predict the shape of the future, but I don't agree that it's not worth doing. I think you've done a good job here.

Energy means little without materials. Life itself requires certain elements and conditions, and something like a technological civilization requires a lot more. How would you refine the rare elements out of a pile of scrap ipods using only electricity, and on what scale?

Well, we don't really do this now because, as you say, we're exploiting the concentrated stuff, but pretty much any material can be melted and centrifuged and then refined into constituent elements - all the work can be done with electricity. Also elements can be extracted with chemical or even biochemical processes. And of course complex compounds can be created in the same way.

About scale - that's a different problem. I'm more optimistic than many on our ability to reconfigure technology, provided we don't cook, and continue growing, after a significant dip (or collapse). What you said about Einstein and Spider butts is brilliantly to the point: once the technical knowledge is baked into the pie, it's hard to get it out. We cling to it, and build off it.

About the materials->energy loop, it's a considerable challenge but solvable. We're likely to enter a salvage mode of culture for a while. But the result of that pressure on resources will be that our technology will evolve to be extremely efficient in material and energy use, relative to current use. We may have to rebuild from scratch, but that 'scratch' will be basically the current technology we have - electricity, microprocessors, etc. And any loss of population, to an extent, is going to help us to get positioned faster around the problem of high-technology in a post peak planet.

The long term result IMO will be a more complex and sophisticated technical civilization. This is a point I made previously on TOD that was misunderstood as "don't worry tech will save us". It's idle speculation to the 'sky is falling' set on TOD. Well, the sky is falling, but that shouldn't blind us completely! There are ways to deliver payloads to space for example, that are energy efficient, using tech that we currently have. Rail launchers: simple graded slopes with electric propulsion, see here:


A system like this would be energy and materials cheap, relative to what we currently have. It would not be out of reach of even a salvage society, and could be powered by water dams or nuclear, or solar energy. Space, specifically asteroids, is where there is an almost unlimited supply of heavy elements - in fact, most rare earths and heavy metals we recover on earth are dug up from asteroids that landed on our surface after the earth solidified.

So imagine an automated mineral extraction system: a launch unit with a built in drill and hammer, furnace, and centrifuge, all powered efficiently by solar energy and solar thermal, and with a small plasma booster and a solar sail to get around space with - probably not much more complex than a rocket. Imagine we push it into space, boost it towards an asteroid, and let it go to work - it produces small chunks of roughly refined material, and shoots them towards an orbital substation near earth, where they are packed together and launched gently down to the surface, maybe with the help of parachutes. Or, in a more advanced scenario, these roughly extracted minerals are processed in a facility on the moon, which is capable of fabricating solar cells in an automated way, and placing them on its surface, and then beaming the energy to earth in the form of lasers. People will doubt that it is possible, but why should they? Most of the complex mechanical process of producing silicon solar cells is already automated. It's the clumsy logistics of moving things or replacing them unexpectedly that humans do - but the design of automated machines that can perform generic tasks of minimal complexity is possible. Space travel is quite efficient, as there is almost no friction in space - if you can calculate a trajectory accurately, you only have to give a small push in the right direction to a big object, to get it to go where you want, as long as you are patient.

I'm aware that it's a fantastical scenario, but life creates fantastic scenarios. The complexity I'm describing isn't more complicated than, say, a beehive, it's just larger in scale. The point is, a system like this, while tremendously complex, would give us access to relatively unlimited material resources, albeit on a very slow timescale of extraction. Relatively unlimited material resources mean relatively unlimited energy resources. And none of it is impossible, just very, very complex to design and operate. It may be that we are logistically incapable of making it work given the reality of post PO world, and some say that's teh same thing as impossible. But I'm not convinced. We have in times of shortage often proven ourselves to be almost miraculously resourceful. And that's the point: hard limits don't always presage collapse and reversion to more crude means, sometimes they force existing technology to new heights of complexity.

Our current deplyment of tech gives us fast results, but it's energy expensive, wasteful, and not well applied to real problems of survival. For example I once had a career where I sat at a desk and posted comments on the internet all day on a top-of-the-line computer. The same tech applied to a slow, sustainable process of life would be very powerful. People say that we won't have computers or automated machines, or space post PO, and they may be right, but they may be wrong. Either way, any outcome is worth considering.


Human societies have collapsed many times in the past, and the result was not a new, better version of human.

example? (assume you mean better version of human culture, not human)

Easter Island? The Maya? The Anasazi? The Roman Empire?

And I don't think it's really possible to separate "human culture" from "human." We won't have a "better" culture until we have a "better" human.

To speculate on what the world might look like after the population drops below one billion people is just silly. We have no idea and anyone who claims they do is just blowing smoke.

Ron P.

Absolutely correct, Ron. What it would look like will depend on how fast the population degrades, and what is the ultimate cause of the final crash. Also, just saying "below 1 Billion" doesn't tell me much. I mean, ten is below 1 Billion, and so is 750 Million.

Then there is location. In fact, if the past is any clue to the future, that is probably the most important factor of all. For instance, a surviving group in an area with running water and reasonably steady rainfall amounts will do better that one with little water and alternating floods and droughts. Which is why choosing today where your family is located may be important. If only there were guarantees rather than projections about how AGW will impact various ecological areas.

Maybe a transient tribe will do best... like the plains Indians.

Again, like you said it is pretty much a crap shoot, at least as far as I can see. Luck (combined with preparation) may be the final arbiter in determining survival, don't you think?



Absolutely correct, Ron. What it would look like will depend on...

I'm with you, but I think you may have missed Darwinian's point ;-)


With 1 billion people, will we still use agriculture, or just forage and hunt? Will we still melt and bend metal tools, or just use sticks and stones? Will we live in houses, huts or caves? Will we still use electricity or just burn wood? Will we have railways, or horses? We've built a lot of stuff - surely the 1 billion will be living in the empty shell of our civilization - but what tools and advantages will that provide them? There's a huge concrete parking garage in my town and it's not going anywhere soon - and it could keep a lot of people dry. Will people build a primitive culture within the structure of our fabricated cities, or will they completely abandon them? Will they maintain knowledge of books and words, and learn from our archives? Will there be any computers around, and will they have any purpose at all for one billion people? Or will all our current 'high-tech' be completely worthless. What about medicine - certainly one billion won't abandon antibiotics, or do you think they will?

Is it blowing smoke to ponder these questions, according to you? At how many billions do you draw the "silly" line? Is it worth speculating what the world will look like with a population of 4 billion, for example? Or 9 billion? Is all that worthless too in your estimation?

Having survived PO, the remaining set of people will be dramatically changed by the experience. They won't soon forget, and survivors are likely to be smart, well organized, and hard working.

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” -- Aldous Huxley

He he, I just love that quote. And I love Aldous Huxley also. Hegel said something very similar:
"History teaches that history teaches us nothing"

Ron P.

"History teaches that history teaches us nothing"

that's impossible! ;-)

i like Mark Twain's: history doesn't repeat but it does rhyme

How long did it take us to forget the lessons of 1929 and happily deregulate the finance sector again?

Answer: 'bout 51 years, more or less.


they might not always learn history lessons, but they sure don't forget how to use a new technology once they have learned it. You can look back at human history and see a pretty continuous improvement of our technical capacity, right up to today when we've got 'thinking' machines powered by electricity and doing our math.

Did the fall of the Roman empire mean the end of stone masonry, or metallurgy? Nope, we didn't skip a beat, and we never have. Wars, famines, collapses, nothing has stopped the inexorable passage of technological development. But I know what people will say: we've lost and forgotten tons of technology. It's true, but only when it stopped being relevant or useful to a way of life, or when it was outmoded by newer tech.

This I guess is the point I'm trying to make in this thread - it's not that we're going to resign ourselves to living within our means, and being better people after PO. We'll be forced to stop using oil and coal, but technology will continue to evolve and progress. While the primitive sources of energy will go away, our technological capacity has the potential to increase in sophistication as we pursue the much larger, but more complicated-to-extract forms of energy - and I say "potential to increase" because I'm fully aware that we might just as well extinct ourselves, or drop the bomb, or go back to caves. But why not discuss our best possible future as well as our worst, in light of the reality of the day?

If you don't believe that there are larger sources of energy than oil and coal, read the big new story on the main page.

So I will just say that by 2050 I would expect the population of the earth to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 billion.

So population has to start declining immediately by 120 million per year or 10 million per month! But population is increasing by 5 million per month. So what you are claiming is that we will have excess deaths of 15 million per month. That is 500,000 excess deaths per day for the next 40 years! Isn't that excessive? What would cause such a massive increase in death rate?

So population has to start declining immediately by 120 million per year or 10 million per month!

Nonsense! Whatever gave you the idea that the decline would have to be linear?

What would cause such a massive increase in death rate?

Are you serious? What has this list been talking about for the last six years? Anyway read this essay for some idea. Energy and Human Evolution

Ron p.

Here is how I look at it. Abundant and cheap oil is necessary for us to enjoy a high standard of living. It is not necessary for physical survival. I have evidence: India has a population of 1.2 billion and consumes only a little more than 3 mbpd. Of course a vast majority of Indians are poor, but somehow they survive. This is shows that it is possible for humans to survive with very little oil and fossil fuel consumption.

Peak oil will cause an economic collapse and wide spread poverty. A vast majority of people will no longer have money to go on vacations, buy the latest gadget or go to Florida in December. But it is not going to kill billions of people.

Now if we have runaway climate change, the monsoon stops altogether, it is a different story.

India imports food. Lots of it.

It imports some oil seeds, edible oil, etc but India is self sufficient in grains.

Well... Then throw in a lil Global Weirding and see how the grains fare. Like in our country where Canola is toast and it's too dry (it didn't rain for 4 months straight, now we got finally some precipitation) and too warm (7+ C) for winter variety of wheat that needs cold weather. Farmers are -really- desperate. Good thing is, they say, we can still import oilseed Rape and wheat from other countries, if needed. But what if there won't be any other country to import from..?

suyog, are you ready to think the unthinkable that India might well stop being self sufficient in grains? Cuz I heard that many farmers there commit suicide as the land dries up, crops fail, high debt becomes unpayable, GMO crops fail to yield the promised volumes, they are even toxic to the skin (cotton), etc. ... Just sayin'.

How much longer will India be self sufficient


India had a population of 127 million, give or take, at the dawn of the industrial revolution. India has been populated for thousands of years.

The technology that allows them to have 10 times that population is primarily driven by 3 factors: mega-dams (control of water), which have a limited useful lifespan and are not rebuild-able without fossil fuel energy. Pumping of water, which sort of depends on the dams, but can be done on a more limited scale as long as electricity is available and the water source exists. And artificial fertilizers and pesticides, all derived from fossil fuels.

Another example - Egypt has had a stable civilization in the same geographical area for over 4000 years. Prior to the 1900s their population never exceeded 5 million. It is now over 70 million (? I've also heard 90).

Vast populations in Asia currently exist only due to the draining of giant aquifiers, which will empty in the not too distant future. The US agricultural bounty also depends to a large extent on the draining of an aquifier.

No we don't need oil, per se, to live at these population levels, however badly. But we do need the control of water on a large scale which fossil fuel energy has enabled. And we need fertilizers on a large scale.

What always surprised me about my country was how well thought out the plans for the last world war war were thought out. Most people think that Britain was caught out we certainly were by Dunkirk but when the war started millions of gas masks suddenly appeared evacuation plans and the distribution of goods from the London Docks too the transportation of our National art treasures too Welsh Slate mines. Nice to see that they are keeping up the old tradition. Hopefully they have got plans to quickly repatriate our truncated army quickly out of Afghanistan because when the anal solids hit the ventilation system I doubt that this high tech crap will be of any use.

Britain at least has experience fighting in Afghanistan with much older technology :p

The better they get at suppressing rioters/demonstrators the more likely they are to simply disperse the crowds. Probably the worst recent development from a civil protest perspective is these 'non lethal' crowd control devices.

Why not deal with the cause of the violent demonstrations? It seems like the better solution.

'Temporarily blinds rioters.'

That is until they are in their 50's and start going permanently blind. The police will say there is no connection between the wall of light and those rioters now going blind. Lawsuits will be filed but a right leaning court will side with law enforcement.

Lawsuits will be filed but a right leaning court will side with law enforcement.

A problem with your eyesight will be taken as proof that you are a protestordomestic terrorist, and you will be dealt with as such.

Can marcellus shale gas development and healthy waterways sustainably coexist?

Fracking involves the use of large quantities of water, three to eight million gallons per well, mixed with additives, to break down the rocks and free up the gas. Some 10 to as much as 40 percent of this fluid returns to the surface as "flowback water" as the gas flows into a wellhead.

Once a well is in production and connected to a pipeline, it generates what's known as produced water. "Flowback and produced water," says Susan Brantley, a geoscientist at Penn State University, "contain fluid that was injected from surface reservoirs--and 'formation water' that was in the shale before drilling."

S - The answer is an easy "Yes". The money they are spending to study base line stream contents seems to be a waste. The implication seems to be that any and all produced fluids will be dumped into the streams so they are trying to determine the health hazards of doing so. A real simple fix: DON'T ALLOW PRODUCED FLUIDS TO BE DUMPED INTO THE ENVIRONMENT. Sorry for the shouting but my Yankee cousins just don't seem to listen to simple solutions. As I've pointed out many time neither Texas nor La. allow the nasty crap to be intentionally dumped into the environment. And if it does happen accidentally there's a big price to pay. High enough to make companies try really hard to not have accidents. Heck, in most of S La I can't even pump rain water collected on the drill site back on to the ground. Yes...water that fell from the sky and never even touched a well. Most common disposal method is deep injection wells. Very expensive but that's just the cost of doing business. And it doesn't appear to be stopping anyone from drilling down here.

It's getting frustrating reading stories like these. If they don't want the nasties dumed into streams to be a health hazards then it's very easy: don't do it. Pound for pound I'm sure we have a lot more oil companies lobbyists in Texas and La. then anywhere else in the country. And we're not allowed to do it.

The geology in the NE doesn't allow for simple re-injection of waste fluids. The bedrock is shallower and the sedimentary basins that do exist are tighter and smaller. Some flowback is being sent to Ohio for re-injection, but I don't think they could handle all the flowback produced currently from PA.

That's ridiculous. Any place you have oil and gas fields, particularly depleted ones (and the NE has lots of those), you will have suitable formations for reinjecting waste and frac water.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Fact Sheet on: Injection Wells for Disposal and Enhanced Recovery

Several successful disposal wells are operating in Pennsylvania. The history of underground disposal shows that it is a practical, safe and effective method for disposing of fluids from oil and gas production. Industry organizations like the American Petroleum Institute, interstate organizations like the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and state agencies such as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) prefer injection wells to other means of wastewater disposal because the wastewater is returned to where it originated, thus eliminating the need to find an alternate disposal location.

The best locations for developing successful disposal wells are depleted oil or gas fields that have sufficient permeability to accept large volumes of water or brine. However, unplugged abandoned wells in the proximity of the disposal well location must first be located and plugged. In addition, many of these depleted fields have been converted into natural gas storage reservoirs.

After some searching, I found a lot of hits for the general idea that "Pennsylvania geology is not conducive to injection of waste fluids", but I could not find a single, clear explanation of what the geologic limitations are. Some mention (as I did) a preponderence low porosity/permeability formations that will not accept large quantities of fluid. Other sites point out the presence of natural fractures in shallower formations that could provide conduits for the waste to contaminate ground water. More still mention the history of oil/gas development and the possibility that the injected fluid may find an old well that is not plugged correctly. Finally, another obstacle is that of sites that may be appropriate for waste disposal, they are already being used for gas storage. In total, several links state that PA has ~10 injection wells (possibly with several more in the permitting process), while Ohio has ~180.

So we both are right (in part). What the search got me thinking, though, is if the developers continue the "PA geology makes injection difficult" to keep delaying the requirement that they do so? It's certainly in their interest to do this because the challenge exists simply to find appropriate locations, which could mean a lot of drilling that yields no return and might not even pan out as suitable disposal sites.

Hillson - Not to belabor the point but injection wells are not difficult...they are just damned expensive. LOL. Can cost 2 to 3 times what a productive well can cost...and it will never produce a $1 worth of production. You make money with a SWD (salt water disposal) well by charging folks to get rid of their nasties. Your basic chicken and eggs problem: if the state doesn't require nasties to be disposed of in a SWD well then no one will drill them. But let the states make it mandatory and you'll see SWD wells drilled so fast it will make you head spin. There is no easier money made in the oil patch than SWD. The tanker trucks roll up to your SWD well, dump their loads into your tanks, hand you a check for a couple of hundred thousand $'s and then you flip a switch and listen to the nasies being pumped down. BTW: the trucking company might have made $50,000 just for hauling the nasties. Over the years I've spent $millions on SWD. And that includes $40,000 I spent 4 months ago having RAIN WATER that fell on my drill site sent to a SWD well. That's how tough they are in La.

In Texas the placement of SWD is highly regulated. The stae has sole authority to approve such operations. the potential problems you mentioned are addessed and eliminated.

The regulations on shale gas and disposing of frac fluids in Alberta:

Alberta has extensive experience in the development of energy resources and has a strong regulatory framework already in place. Shale gas is currently regulated under the same legislation, rules and policies as conventional natural gas. Although shale gas development in Alberta has not been using horizontal multi-stage fracturing, Alberta does have extensive experience with hydraulic fracturing. Approximately 167,000 wells have been hydraulically fractured in Alberta since the technology was introduced more than 50 years ago.

Most aspects of the oil and gas industry are regulated in Alberta by the Energy Resources Conservation Board. The ERCB sets requirements for drilling and production operations. The ERCB protects our fresh water aquifers (groundwater) with strict regulations that are designed to ensure that gas cannot migrate up a well bore to contaminate groundwater sources. Well bores are required to have cemented casings in place that meet stringent requirements and which are also set to depths far below any fresh water aquifers. This ensures there is an impenetrable barrier between the shale gas formation and the well bore so that gas and fluids are unable to use the well bore as a pathway to contaminate groundwater.

Alberta has strict requirements in place to manage the safe disposal of produced fluids (fluids that return to the well head as part of the hydraulic fracturing process) and does not allow produced fluids to be sent to municipal waste water treatment systems. Fluids that cannot be treated and recycled must be disposed of in approved disposal wells where the fluids are injected deep underground for permanent disposal.

The ERCB has not documented any cases of groundwater being contaminated as a direct result of hydraulic fracturing.

(boldfacing mine)

Is there any method of recycling or processing the produced and flowback fluids? Would the process be too cost intensive compared to injecting into old wells? Any environmental issue with the frac fluid sitting in these old wells for years?

And I thought U.S. banks were bad. This really sounds like the bank from hell.

The easiest way to defeat these crooks is to live within your means. Folks, please don't buy a car - a depreciating asset - with borrowed money. If you borrow money to buy a house, make a large down payment and pay it off as quickly as possible.
Debt = Slavery

suyog, I think that horse left the barn long ago.

Selco said in the early days of the Balkan Collapse people said, "someone will put a stop to this..."

Three presidents and twenty years after Reagan/Bush, we find ourselves saying the same thing... meanwhile...

Problem is, if we don't borrow "enough", the guvmint borrows in our name.

Given the positive difference between inflation and interest rates, borrowing makes sense, this may sound like tragedy of commons but it's true. If you have to buy, buy on credit. Today's money is worthless tomorrow.

Right but what is worth buying? Houses in the middle of nowhere? 20 year old yachts? A BMW with 400 horsepower? A new computer with twice the storage and speed of the one that works just fine now? A 3rd flat screen TV? An MBA that gets you a bartender job?

At some point we need to start admitting that most of the "stuff" we've gotten used to is actually worthless.

Which means the more prudent thing to do is to save money, buy stuff you need, splurge only a little, and save the rest in gold and silver.

Believe me it's hard for me to do, I grew up on corporate advertising.

This is worth buying!

I agree that paper money is losing value rapidly. The solution to that is to buy hard assets with cash. If I didn't have money to buy a new car, I would buy a reliable used car and pay cash for it. Buying a new car with borrowed money is not a good idea. If you lose your job your car will be repossessed and you are left with nothing.

The Rupee is melting like snow in late spring. Do you see any impact/concern in day to day life? I had read last month that the Indian oil companies would run out of money for crude imports after December. Any update on that? Are there any plans to float the price of diesel, kerosene and LPG cylinders?

Thanks in advance.

The money of kings is gold. The money of gentlemen is silver. The money of workers is barter. The money of slaves is debt.

“Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves.”
- Norm Franz (”Money and Wealth in the New Millennium”, 2001, Whitestonepress, page 154).

Call for Arctic geoengineering as soon as possible

John Nissen, a former software engineer who has become alarmed at the possibility of reaching a climate "tipping point" argued for Arctic geoengineering as soon as possible in a poster presentation at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco last week.

Although Nissen's opinion is not in the scientific mainstream, he has the backing of a leading expert on sea ice, Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge, who recently suggested that the Arctic ocean may be ice-free at the end of each summer from 2015 onwards. Wadhams says that accelerating climate change in the Arctic has forced him to abandon his scepticism about geoengineering. "One has to consider doing something," he says.

Nissen's alarm about catastrophic methane release stems in part from the findings of a team led by Natalia Shakhova of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Last year she reported large amounts of methane bubbling from the east Siberian Arctic shelf. ... "There are still more questions than answers," says Igor Semiletov, a member of the team.

Drought Has Been Hard on the Roads

The dry spell has sucked all the moisture out of Central Texas’s topsoil. And that’s caused cracks to form and bumps to pop up. As soil alongside the pavement heats up, moisture evaporates, and the soil then begins to compress. That can bend the edges of roads, and cause the asphalt to break.

... And it’s not just state highways that are affected by the drought. Carolyn Perez with the Austin’s Department of Public Works says her office received lots of community requests this summer to fix dips or depressions in roads. And she says her office is doing its best to respond.

“We realize that we are in the middle of what could be a long-term drought that doesn’t show any signs of abating,” ... Neither TxDOT nor the city has been able to estimate the costs of drought-related road damage so far. But both agree on one thing: they need long-range plans to deal with them.

Oregon natural gas export terminal gets first approval

For onlookers watching the ongoing development of a proposed natural gas terminal in Coos Bay, Ore., it seemed a puzzling business strategy. Why would energy companies want to spend billions of dollars building a natural gas terminal and pipeline to import foreign gas when the domestic market was about to blow up?

This September, the head-scratching plan suddenly made sense. After getting the go-ahead from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a liquefied natural gas import facility in 2009, the Jordan Cove Energy Project switched tack and applied for approval to export gas from the recently opened Ruby Pipeline to Asian markets, where prices are three times higher.

BP Sees Global Gas Demand Rising 2.1 Percent a Year Through 2030

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Global demand for natural gas will rise 2.1 percent a year and oil demand 0.9 percent annually through 2030, BP Plc Group Chief Economist and Vice President Christof Ruhl said.

BP estimates that 93 percent of the increase in energy demand during the period will come from non-OECD economies, he told a conference in Muscat, Oman.

Natural-gas prices will move away from being linked to crude oil over the next three decades as the world becomes increasingly dependent on liquefied natural gas, Ruhl said.

and http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-12-12/natural-gas-prices-will-move...

Fracking no more risky than other oil, gas wells: Kemp

It is time to stop demonising hydraulic fracturing. Oil and gas production is a messy, dirty business that produces all sorts of harmful waste. But the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are no more dangerous than those frequently used in acidizing and other conventional well treatments.

Fracking poses no more risk to the environment than production from conventional wells, which the industry and regulators have learned to manage successfully in recent decades to minimise the impact on local communities.

Much of the political opposition to fracking seems to be driven by general hostility to fossil fuels, and a lack of understanding about how oil and gas are produced from conventional wells, rather than by any special dangers associated with hydraulic fracturing itself.


Differences between conventional and fracked wells are overstated. Fracking went mainstream long ago. It is part of a spectrum of techniques for improving flow rates and the ultimate amount of hydrocarbons recovered from a broad range of oil and gas-bearing formations.

In the Alberta oil industry, where I worked for decades, companies have been using hydraulic fracturing to improve production for over 50 years, and have used it on over 170,000 wells with no known cases of it causing groundwater contamination.

In fact, without fracturing, the biggest oil field in Canada, the Pembina oil field, wouldn't have produced any oil at all, never mind the 1.5 billion barrels it has produced to date. The company which found it (after several other companies drilled right through it without noticing it was there) fractured the discovery well in 1953, and in the ensuing 58 years every other well of the thousands in the field has been fractured as well.

Today, the Cardium Formation in which the Pembina oil field was found is the new "hot" conventional oil play in Alberta, primarily due to reduced costs and high oil prices. The formation is very tight, but covers a vast area, and with the right technology it can be made to produce.

it's a moot point, as many have pointed out - no-one is going to stop drilling so it doesn't matter. of course proper disposal can help, but the point i think a lot of people would make is that the cost of drilling fossils in degradation of the biosphere has to account for the full range of effect, both accepted as part of doing business, like industrial pollutants in the waterways and soil, and mercury, CO2, etc in the air, , as well as unforseen, but predictable accidents like GOM Deep Water- and the conclusion is that drilling for anything on the scale we've done, it simply not safe. We should not maintain these activities on the same planet that we have to live. I know, it will be done anyway, and we don't have any choice, but as for fracking being as risky as conventional drilling? that makes it too risky.

Chrome - That is exactly the dilemma. All activities are inherently dangerous.: drilling, frac'ng, driving your car to work, playing high school football, high speed police chase, flying home to see granny for Christmas, etc. So the question is what hazards do we accept and which ones are rejected. Obvious not only is there no "one size fits all" answer but there's also the question of "too risky" to whom? There's no risk to someone living in San Francisco if wells are frac'd in NY. Likewise there's no direct risk to someone living in NY from an oil spill in the GOM. In fact, such an event might financially benefit New England fishermen by knocking out some competition.

So back to my original position: risk assessment should be local IMHO. If the folks in PA don't want any wells frac'd in their state then so be it. But which folks in PA should make that decision? The landowner who might make $2 million from his NG royalty? The risk may be acceptable to him. Or the land owner next door who won't get a penny of royalty? Is the risk, no matter how small in might actually be, worth it to him? And the guy who's been unemployed for a year who can now get an oil patch job paying him more than he's ever made before? Frac'ng is all positive for him.

So does the majority rule? Do you let the politicians make the final call? Do you give minority opinions a veto right? One obvious point: there will never be a unanimous agreement. But at the end of the day a decision must be made. Even not making a decision is, in effect, making a decision. Consider the Keystone pipeline. The president has chose to wait until after the election to make a decision. That is making a decision: no approval now. That might satisfy some supporters from the left. But a risky move IMHO: if gasoline prices jump up right before the election you can bet the right will run endless ads pointing to Keystone and blaming the president. And that may well be THE deciding factor in the election. Similar risk for NE politicians who oppose drilling if there's a NG shortgage during the winter in a few years. Politcians face the same delimma with their careers: risk vs. reward.

Rock - So back to my original position: risk assessment should be local IMHO - They heard you

Texas Drillers to Disclose Chemicals Used in Fracturing

Texas will require oil and natural- gas operators to report the chemical ingredients used in new hydraulically fractured wells beginning next year.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the industry in the state, said any well receiving an initial drilling permit beginning Feb. 1 will be subject to the new chemical-disclosure rules, according to an e-mailed statement today. The ingredients, which combined with water and sand are pumped underground to crack dense rock and release hydrocarbons, will be reported to the public website FracFocus.org.

the point is a good one ROCK, and you're right that the practical reality is that it's a question of margins and territories and borders, and that demand will result in a way for exploit to slip through no matter what barrier is put up at any level.

I think there are two points between us here though, even though we agree that drilling 'everything' is inevitable - your industry perspective probably gives you a pro-industry bent, while for me, conservation is the key to everything.

So for you it's "OK, so risk assessment belongs at the local level to be sussed out by the individuals who are directly affected by the drill, and many of them are desperately in need of financial assistance", and for me it's "the entire industry is culpable for the net result of its activities as they have a cumulative effect on the biosphere, quality of life, food, water, and potential to extinct us".

I don't agree that there's no risk to anyone living in NY or SF from spills or frac leaks - there's a cumulative effect that's quite tangible, not just on food prices and short term supplies, but on the complex relationships in culture, ecology, and economics the globe over. Does it matter if the rainforest is shorn, and vast slums accumulate outside of Sao Palo? Potential affects are palpable on global climate, on the depletion of complex biological resources, and to the black-market slave trade, and to growth of international crime. To the short term interest focused on extracting resources, there's no real effect because for them it's simply a balance of risk and reward. But who considers the overall health of the planet and the people, when there's no quick reward? It's the same question you ask. That's the point of regulatory frameworks at the national or global level. Because local exploit provides a local profit, but has a significant ballooning effect on the region and the rest of the world. But yea, practically speaking it's a joke.

But you're right, it's all margins and careful calculations, and of course the larger outcome is already decided - we're going to drill and burn it all. The question is how to mitigate the impact of this outcome - for you it is benevolent and helpful for local interests or individuals to reap the payout from another tap, for me it's about pressuring our culture and industry away from drilling as soon as humanly possible. It's still risk and reward, but different in scale.

With respect to actual actions taken, ie politics, it's my opinion that those margins are even more important. I pull my hair out for example to hear people claim they're too disenchanted to vote "this time". My uncle for example is excited by OWS - tells me that we have to start our politics over from scratch - like we have time for that kind of monkey business! I'm not like some people who think that everything is lost, lets just sit back and watch it burn. I'm not an optimist either, but you look at history and see how often marginal details can sway the whole course of events. I'm aware of the facts and data, and that the outlook is bleak, but that's exactly when strategies become most calculating, and the contrast between black and white becomes most clear - the margins become obvious.

and if you want my political prediction, it will be tough to take out incumbent with this opposition, even if there's an event like europe or iran to change the game - it'll come down to trust and politicking, and also I don't think drill baby drill has the margins to really tie Keystone in a full general - the energy independence crowd is already maxed out towards the R. I'm prepared to be completely wrong though.

Why Iran feels threatened and wants nuclear weapons:


And the air craft carriers and nuclear submarines in the Gulf aren't even shown.

So who is threatening who?

Oh heckers, we don't have any carrier groups in the Caspian. We don't have them completely surrounded! Then many of those bases are in Pakistan, and being able to stay there much longer is in question. Likewise for the bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think this ring of containment is actually pretty vulnerable.

I think this ring of containment is actually pretty vulnerable.

You may be right, EoS, but that will be cold comfort to the military and political leadership in Tehran. Soviet weapons in Cuba was enough to throw the United States into a tizzy in the early 1960s. You don't have to surround a country to intimidate and evoke a defensive response.

but that will be cold comfort to the military and political leadership in Tehran.

Theres always an asymmetry of perception. To the US a few foolishly uttered speeches from Iran equals existential threat, but the fact that we have them surrounded with deadly miltary hardware shouldn't be an issue for Iran, since our intentions are obviously good. Likewise anything they do/say are by their own thinking only good intentioned and logical. Now maybe for a few foreign policy analyst types, trying to understand how the other guy thinks may be an important part of the job description. But, when it comes to raw domestic politics, what pays is pure villification of the foreigners.

But, when it comes to raw domestic politics, what pays is pure villification of the foreigners.

Right you are and that's what makes it so hard to stop the circus show once its starts. Vilification of the foreigner dehumanizes and dehumanization allows for all kinds of violence and carnage in the name of ridding the world of evil and chaos. Preserving the 'peace' is the first order of business for all governments and it's something governments have done very well over the centuries.

It's handy to have an enemy. Especially if you want to "compel our enemy to do our will." And again to quote Clausewitz, "War is the continuation of policy by other means."

If you want to be top dog, you have to be prepared to bite. And it's particularly advantageous to snap at the runt laying outside the pack, the weakest in the litter. Thus the efficacy of sanctions.

The problem the West has with Iran is that it has teeth. It can bite back, deep and hard.

It can bite back, deep and hard.

Sounds like our problem isn't with Iran. Our problem is we aren't very good at selecting the weakest runt.

To the US a few foolishly uttered speeches from Iran equals existential threat,

I do not speak Pârsi and odds are the people who feel the 'existential threat' are relying on a translation.

How reliable therefore is the few foolishly uttered speeches? Could the translators and the media doing the reporting be pushing an agenda?

x, that map of US bases looks festooned like a Christmas tree, the only piece of unoccupied real estate is Iran. From a US neo-con perspective, if only a shah could still be sitting on the peacock throne, what a wonderful world it would be.

I once took great comfort in thinking that Israel, as much as it might be anxious about its own security, would not act without the expressed, albeit covert, consent of the United States. Apparently, this may be more wishful thinking than anything else.

America, Israel and Iran - no way out

General Martin Dempsey, the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, gave a notable interview in which he made clear that, while the US sees sanctions and diplomatic pressure as the prudent course to pursue vis-a-vis Iran, "I'm not sure the Israelis share our assessment of that. And because they don't and because to them this is an existential threat, I think probably that it's fair to say that our expectations are different right now."

Asked whether he thought Israel would inform the US before striking Iran, Dempsey responded, "I don't know." That is political-military speak for "No".

In short, current US policy, as the Israelis understand it - and as opposed to how it is being articulated by the administration - is unacceptable to Israel. This is no doubt troubling to them, but not a grave concern, for two reasons. First, the Israelis need not rely on the US to initiate hostilities with Iran, if it should come to that. They can do so themselves, confident that the US will then be forced to deal with the consequences, including the Iranian retaliation which Panetta described and all would expect.

Weakened by rhetoric

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Israelis know that they can pursue such a course, in extremis, without serious fear of repercussions, including a cutoff of US support - diplomatic, military, or otherwise. They know that, where Israel is concerned, policy is not made in the White House, and still less at the Pentagon. It is made in Congress, which stands in thrall to Israel.

Surrounded by US bases and facing a trigger happy loose canon called Israel, Iran has every reason, as you say, to feel threatened. A nuclear weapon would act as a deterrent to outside aggression, even in a country where the mullahs are on record as morally opposed to fission weapons.

The irony is that Israel's own perception of an 'existential threat' may be precipitating a very real 'existential threat' in Iran which in turn makes Israel's 'existential threat' a self-fulfilled prophecy.

I am sorry but I can't remember the Israelis calling for the annihilation of all Iranians, something the Koran advocates for all Jews, and as for the Mullahs, the clowns in charge of Iran at the moment who seem to suffer from ball gown and silly hat syndrome if they are morally opposed to fission weapons why are they spending millions of dollars trying to build them?

Has it ever acured to any of you that they reason the Americans are there in force is too prevent any power in the region gaining control over the Gulf region and therefore dictating terms too the rest of the world. America and its allies didn't go too war against Iraq in 1991, because they invaded Kuwait, they went too war because if they had not done Iraq would have dominated the gulf and dictated the price of oil. If Iran gets a Nuclear Weapon they will do the same. If they can do that they will have there hands on the economic wind pipe of the world, does anyone want that? 10 dollars a gallon anybody.

If you don't think that is not on the cards Sudan is demanding 32 dollars a barrel in transit fees from the newly independent South Sudan too transport there oil, 10 times the normal rate. Get real, these clowns think that they have a mandate from God too rule the world.

Get real, these clowns think that they have a mandate from God too rule the world.

To use the expression from a song by Tears for Fears, "Everybody wants to rule the world." I don't think that makes Iranians, or Shi'ites, or Muslims in general that much different from anybody else who wants to be at the top of the heap. Nothing unique or special there.

And yes, the Carter doctrine is still standard US foreign policy: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." And an outside force could and would be interpreted to include one of the players on the scene, Iraq and Iran, as well as Russia or China.

While all this is valid, in a world of tightening energy resources and geopolitical fluidity, the rules of engagement are changing. The Chinese may not challenge directly the Carter doctrine, but they will safeguard their interests in the region. So too will Russia. And they certainly have the clout on the Security Council and other global agencies to make sure any international response to growing Iranian influence will be limited to Israel and its allies in the West.

The simple fact on the ground is that Iran already has a weapon of mass destruction. As Robert Baer, a respected American authority on the Middle East, has pointed out the leadership of Iran can close, within minutes, by threatening or by sinking even one or two tankers, the Straits of Hormuz and stop the shipment of 17 million barrels of traded oil each day. The Iranians have silkworm missiles trained on Saudi oil facilities. One missile could potentially take off stream 6 million barrels of oil for at least two years. To quote Mr.Baer, "the Iranians have control of over 55% of the proven oil reserves in the Middle East should they choose to exercise that." They already have their hands on the economic windpipe of the world. $10 a gallon anybody? Yorkshire, you have every right to ask about that. That may prove to be a very, very cheap price indeed to pay for confronting Iran's regional ambition.

A full copy of Robert Baer's speech to the Commonwealth Club of California is available on FORA TV. Quite a sobering presentation, even if dated by a couple of years. It doesn't take into account Obama's presidency or the Arab Spring. His insights are pertinent to this on-going story, if only to indicate what hasn't been done to remedy a dangerous scenario.

Iran is asserting its influence, building the framework of a Shia caliphate and empire, mostly by proxy forces. This after the United States had underestimated repeatedly the resilience of the Islamic Revolution to withstand the forces aligned against it. As American influence in the Middle East wanes, as long-time strong-armed regimes like Egypt and Syria weaken, as Pakistan and Afghanistan turn against their western benefactors, the Israelis are trigger-happy about their security, particularly when potentially faced by a strategically positioned and powerfully armed Iran.

Forget all the things that were in place up until now. The situation in the Middle East is very volatile. The only thing is that is not static is the status quo. And all the players know it. Iran is going to pursue it security and strategic interests. If that includes nuclear capability, then so be it. Isolating Iran isn't going to stop the pursuit - it will only push developments further and faster. Russia is supplying the expertise and wherewithal to the Iranian nuclear programme, technically under 'peaceful' intentions. Do you think Putin will stand idly by as Israeli planes bomb Russian personnel? He's facing his own political troubles at home and would be quite happy to divert attention elsewhere. Meanwhile, according to Reuters, ten percent of China's oil imports (543,000 barrels/day) come from Iran. Do you think they're going to look favourably on an Israeli attack? They don't care if it's a preemptive strike. There is no pro-Israeli lobby in the Chinese politburo. Jerusalem is just one more point on the map and carries no cultural or religious significance or weight. It doesn't matter much to them if it's vulnerable. What the Chinese want is ready access to energy. From that angle, a belligerent Israel is a dangerous rogue state. They're counting on the U.S. to keep it in check.

The fact that US military officials are not ruling out a Israeli unilateral move ought to disturb most sane and rational people. It's another sign of an ever weakening American position when Israel, the US's chief ally in the region, is pursuing an independent foreign policy whose ramifications could seriously jeopardize global peace and economic well-being. The current problem in the Middle East may prove to be highly ironic: precisely as you say, that the United States is not capable to "prevent any power in the region gaining control over the Gulf region." If it can't assure Israel's security and thereby assert pressure on its actions, forgoing its right to be consulted, then the jig is up. The rest of the map is a free for all.

I very much agree.

I for one will not die, or sacrifice my future, for Israel. Sorry if this offends some here, it's the truth.

It is not about any one individual country. It is about the entire region, and the world. There is always a small risk the place burst out in full scale war,and the latest few years I have only seen those risk factors grow. This require active managment and thus we cn not be passive. But I admit I do not know what is the right thing to do.

TODAY, Iran announced military games that would close the Strait of Hormuz.
They are getting ready to play their cards now. IF they can successfully close Hormuz, its game over. If the US attacks Iran, it will set off WWIII.

Cool One, I call shenanigans on 'game over' and WWIII.

These statements are nebulous hyperbole.

The U.S. assuredly has a contingency plan to deal with such a situation.

There are assuredly various tiers up response, form a minimal surgical application of force, up through a scenario I don't wish to describe.

My strong preference, though, is that the U.S. and Europe (and others) not be hostage to ME oil...we could/should taken the proper measures to greatly reduce our oil consumption.

Hmm..the U.S Iraqi adventure cost some $1T by some estimates...say an Iranian military debacle costs another $1T. What have we/will we spend in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Fee free to add in a guess at the costs of future blow-back from future OBLs we have nurtured.

$2T could have bought 80M Prius (or similar) cars at $25K a pop. Europe could have done the same.

50 mpg vehicles replacing ~ 20 mpg average city duty cycle vehicles.

Taxes could have been raised on fuel in countries implementing such a strategy so as to counteract the tendency for fuel price to lower in reaction to the lower demand from the higher mpg, in order to make the fuel cost per mile driven the same as, or even better, 100% more expensive than today.

Liquid fuel demand greatly cut, folks still drive to work and the grocery store, we are no longer in thrall to the specter of ME oil being cut off, and we have tax revenuers out the wazoo from fuel taxes, combined with the ability to halve our 'Defense' budget...looks like a balanced budget to me.,,,in addition, building new vehicles on that scale would have inevitably led to more U.S. manufacturing jobs...especially if we insisted it be so. Complain that we wouldn't have enough lithium and rare earths for Prius-type vehicles...fine, we could have built ICE vehicles that get ~ 30-35 mpg city and still realized great benefits from that.

If you don't favor the 'Prius-type or better' car approach, feel free to take the savings from having avoided the war adventures and invested that in the post-PO ideas of your choice, my point stands regardless.

Israel has its own 'Samson Option'. In addition, The U.S. could explicitly declare Israel being under our extended deterrent umbrella...make the explicit statement that we have the ability to detect the country of origin of a weapon of mass destruction attack on Israel and will respond in kind, times three.

Or, we can continue our present losing strategy of pissing trillions down the ME war sandbox, with the one very clear winner being the military industrial complex, who would hate and fight tooth and nail against the ideas enumerated above.

You know the MIC will prevail, by playing on our fears and reinforcing the idea that a massive U.S. worldwide military machine (and liberal use of military engagement/power) is the ONLY option to pursue.

You can see it in the current budget machinations in the U.S.:


Drafted behind closed doors, the proposed bill would pay for the war in Afghanistan but give the Pentagon just a 1 percent boost in annual spending, while the Environmental Protection Agency's budget would be cut by 3.5 percent.

England Prevails!

I think I've finally come to realize why Israel considers an Iranian bomb (or probably a Saudi one as well), as an existential threat. Its not that they actually believe what they say ,"that the Persians are so crazy they'd use it in spite of the consequences". The real threat to Israel is a slow demographics threat. The more unsecure Israelis feel, the greater the numbers who will emmigrate, and the sooner the Palestianians become the dominate demography within the fortress. So they figure a Persian bomb is checkmate, you lose.

In Iran there are arabs and persians. Amenijad is an arab. Remember the 1979 Iranian uprising? That was arabs taking political and military control away from the persians. That's when many of them fled to the US. You'll know a persian vs. an arab, by how gorgeous the persian women are - oh my!

Perk Earl, the reading of the 1979 Iranian uprising as a ethnic takeover by Arabs over Persians is a bit over the top. The Islamic Revolution was a popular phenomenon. According to the World Fact Book, Iran is 51% Persian. Arabs are a paltry 3%. A 3% takeover of 51% would not hold for very long.

The main contenting forces in 1979 were between secular leftists and mullah lead Islamic radicals. The Islamic radicals won.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could very well be Arab. I have no idea his ethnic background, but it hardly matters. The president is not chief of state in Iran. That distinction goes to Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader. The credential that matters is that Khamenei is a Shia mullah.

Almost, it's once again about living within limits. I see Israel as a European colony in the Middle East. In 60 years it has achieved a territory the size of New Jersey with almost no natural resources of any kind, including water. It's a crowded place with a lot of limitations, so it must expand to survive - and since the nearby natural resources are already claimed, that means military superiority. Any viable rival military power that can halt expansion by definition means the colony fails due to demographics and lack of resources. So an opposing military power that can limit Israel to within the existing boundaries really does mean the end of that project - it doesn't need to attack, simply to exist.

Not sure what to make of this.

BFP Exclusive- Developing Story: Hundreds of US-NATO Soldiers Arrive & Begin Operations on the Jordan-Syria Border

Report: Foreign Troops Begin to Spread Near the Villages of Al-Mafraq

According to one Jordanian military officer who asked to remain anonymous, hundreds of soldiers who speak languages ​other than Arabic were seen during the past two days in those areas moving back and forth in military vehicles between the King Hussein Air Base of al-Mafraq (10 km from the Syrian border), and the vicinity of Jordanian villages adjacent to the Syrian border, such as village Albaej (5 km from the border), the area around the dam of Sarhan, the villages of Zubaydiah and al-Nahdah adjacent to the Syrian border.

Another report received from our source in Amman identified an additional US-NATO Command Center in “al-Houshah,’ a village near Mafraq.

Our Iraqi journalist source in London provided us with the following related information:

“Some of the US forces that left the Ain al-Assad Air base in Iraq last Thursday, did not come back to the USA or its base in Germany, but were

Sounds like NATO (aka. the US) is setting up for some kind of active involvement in the Syrian civil war.

It's interesting to note which candidate that active duty military personnel are favoring with their campaign donations:

Ron Paul Campaign Tops Others in Q3 Active-Military Donations

The Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign raised more campaign donations from active military than all other presidential candidates—Republican or Democrat—including having raised more funds from this segment than all other GOP competitors combined, and more than incumbent President Barack Obama.

Thats interesting. R.P. is the only candidate who would seriously cut military funding. So the grunts are not against cuts to their supposedly revered military. Maybe the prospect of not having to serve in pointless wars is more important than having a big budget for shiny new miltary toys.

Ron is a true Libertarian. They believe that government should be limited to Courts, Police and military, abeit most say, "to keep the heathens from our shores."

He is also rare in being opposed to the war in Iraq.

I really like Ron, but wish he had never read Ayn Rand. Like most Libertarians, Ron thinks he IS John Galt.

Seriously, he is at least consistent, if a bit fanatic. I would enjoy having a friendly discussion with him. Maybe one of us would change the mind of the other.


According to Wikipedia, Ron Paul served in the Air Force and the Air National Guard in the 1960s and had the rank of Captain.

He was a doctor in the Air Force. Air Force and Army doctors are commissioned as captains on their entry.

Some things you never forget. G.I. JOE!

Some things you never forget. G.I. JOE!


More in depth polling would really be needed to determine why military people back him. One could easily just conclude they like the idea of being paid to be in the military but not have to worry about being in a war since Ron Paul is against foreign involvement.

Dr. Paul is on record on wanting to shutdown the military bases everywhere program. Anyone who is able to think about the situation knows that if the military is reduced with the removal of out of country bases they are in danger of the jobs you are claiming they want with no risk.

Doesn't prevent the MSM from describing has anti- military. Its amazing that the same people who are so into letting people vote with their money are willing to dismiss this inconvenient fact in their narrative.

On Ron Paul - I would rather vote for a principled person I disagree with than unprincipled person who agrees with me. As they say fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me. As a proud Liberal will not be voting for the current incumbent of the White House.

On Ron Paul - I would rather vote for a principled person I disagree with than unprincipled person who agrees with me.

Say President Paul exists:
While PP can not aprove executive orders and where the military is (or is not) everything else is up to the Congress. If PP wants to stop funding for national parks - if the citizens matter and these citizens contact their reps in mass to say 'save the public parks' - PP can't override a supermajority of the Congress.

A Paul Presidency might get the Congress to work together.

This is a political anomoly.

RP supporters are more likely to donate, post in forums/social media, etc. RP supporters are also more active when in the young-voter demographic. The military is a micro-slice of US demographics. That's why, if you count donations, he gets more.

It's math. Not a sign of support.

Between PX credit, tattoo shops, strip clubs, crappy used car dealers, etc., Joes do not need to be sending in political donations. In fact, they should be encouraged to remain apolitical.

Way to go US, end Iraq, and now start a new one in Syria!

Krugman says it is time to start using the D word.

Depression and Democracy

It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

Ron P.

I had heard at least in liberal economic circles it referred to as the little depression, and this was several months back. Before that it was the great recession.

Lesser Depression is a term I've heard as well.

Dylan Ratigan pimps his upcoming book and discusses the logical conclusion of rational egoism.

Yves Smith on How Banks Extract from the Economy

DYLAN: Welcome to another episode of Greedy Bastards Antidote. Today, we are talking, or I’m looking for, the antidote to systems that encourage extraction. What is extraction, and how is it the opposite of capitalism? And how can systems that are based on extraction or extractionism become almost like a mirage in that they can show the characteristics of capitalism through money moving around while they are actually hiding the elimination of productive resources over time. And joining us today to learn a little bit more about the difference in extraction and extractionism and capitalism is Yves Smith, her website, of course, nakedcapitalism.com. She is author of ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism.

There is a lot that goes into this, the most obvious from of extraction I guess that people understand is if I stick a pipe in the ground and suck minerals out or if I cut down trees and I’m literally harvesting natural resources, but as we are learning, Yves, there are financial mechanics and tax policy mechanics and all sorts of other mechanics that go to effectively extract future capital from societies by pulling it forward in a way that is none productive or is in fact destructive. Can you give us a –what is your perspective on where the lines are drawn between what’s extraction and what’s actual creation and capitalism and how manageable that really is.

"Corrupted capitalism"? ROFL. This makes hair-splitting look like wood-chopping! Capitalism is, was, and always will be extractionism. "Enlightened self interest," meanwhile, is an oxymoron, when it comes to big-time investing. Read Adam Smith, not to mention Karl Marx. Heck, read the dang newspaper. You either maximize profits, or you get replaced by somebody who will. It's built-in to the system, and competitively, institutionally enforced.

Is there anything more pathetic than this kind of special pleading on behalf of the very system that's driving us to Carmageddon?

Extraction and arbitrage...

Here's one for everyone. Just took my 2010 Civic Hybrid in for the 45K mile servicing. Lately I've noticed an interesting sound that sounded like lifter noise when valves are out of adjustment - but something more like a playing card in the spokes. Didn't know if it was new or if it was a noise I had simply not noticed before. Well Honda called me about it later and asked when I first noticed this and I mentioned it was since the last oil change or the last few months, but that it was subtle. They called me back about 15 minutes later and said that they had good news and bad news. The bad news was that some part in the engine failed (a drift pin on the piston shaft came loose or something) and that the car basically needs a brand new engine, and that that was the source of the sound! The good news is that it is all under warranty and the new engine's mileage starts at zero. I won't get the car back until the weekend or maybe after, unfortunately but then I don't really have plans to go anywhere (I work at home) except to get my daughter at the airport and we have the other car for that. Apparently this isn't that uncommon in the 2010 hybrids and the new engine going in is upgraded and doesn't have this faulty design problem according to Honda. I hope.... Yikes!

Also, the tires that come with these hybrids are a lower rolling resistance type but mine more or less were borderline legal tread-wise at 42K miles. I put Michelin X-Radials on instead, as these have very good safety rating, and are rated to 80K miles. Pumped up to 36psi I get about 41mpg on the highway in the winter, whereas before with the Bridgestone LRR tires I got around 43-44. The X-Radials are much safer in Seattle's usually wet and occasionally icy conditions, even pumped a little stiffer than normal.

Anybody got a light?

Actually, there is a huge opportunity for horrific imagery: going to these sites by ship and waiting for a lull in the wind to ignite large fields if possible. The image of the polar seas on fire - and the control of those images by those who initially get them - could be the most iconic of the century. It'd be difficult and dangerous, but it should be done; I hope someone is well along in planning such an expedition.

There's even a rationale for it, of course... CO2 being less of a short-term positive feedback than methane.

Okay now, I don't want to spoil the fun and deprive some people of their WHOA!'s and WOW!'s in sheer amazement of blazing seas and ice on fire, but we in post-socialist countries have this saying: "measure twice before cutting once". Not the best translation, but I hope you get the idea. :))

I think we have to do some risk assessment before we rush there with lighter in our adventure-craving, sweaty "what-might-this-little-fire-do?" hands.

Just some silly questions to rather answer first:

a) If we set it on fire, will we be able to put the fire off?
b) How much energy will be released from burning one torch-like structure?
c) Could adjacent structures possibly catch on fire, too?
d) Will burning this methane lead to local heating of the sea and cause more methane release = feedback loop and then the methane will burn for weeks or even months, causing even more warming, more methane release, melting the surrounding ice and speeding up the rise of ocean's level?
e) Would this mayhem cause flooding of coastal cities more quickly, in contrast to gradual warming of polar ice caps without these WHOA!-inducing fireworks?

I know, we are generally quite pyromaniac apes, but I think we should think first and act later, or sometimes not act at all. :P Especially when it involves setting something on fire. I don't know why, but I have this feeling the ship trying to get this awesome imagery could inadvertently win the Darwin award. Call it a hunch... :oP

Lighting methane bubbling from the sea would be difficult to keep alight except in very still conditions, and only quite concentrated. There wouldn't be any adjacent structures, of course. The methane will oxidize slowly in the atmosphere anyhow so there would presumably be no net heat increase to the planet from the combustion. It will tend to slow a positive feedback if done at sea, not add one, and the heat from a single expedition would probably be no greater than from the fuel burned to get there; trivial.

And it would occur at a very dire time indeed, when nations are turning away from GHG emission limits.

This would be a demonstration, nothing more, to help shake up the entrenched denial memes. Creating imagery that the great stupid zeitgeist can internalize and react to is one of the few high-leverage opportunities to avert catastrophic outcomes, and I can speak as something of an expert in that.

Certainly it could be dangerous; useful attempts at steering society often are. The actual danger would be far less than the apparent danger, though, and the apparent danger would augment the visceral impact.

It has nothing to do with craving adventure, though that would make crewing and funding it easier. Rather, this could if intelligently handled be one of very few transformative opportunities for altering the trajectory of climate action. Odds are that you'd mount a half-million-dollar expedition and fail to get the proper weather conditions for more than a small set of flames, but it's still probably worth attempting.

Did you know there was a total embargo on most images of the burning Kuwait oilfields immediately after the war? And that the snuffing of fires was not opened to international teams until after the images broke into the international media? My small group ran the gauntlet escorting the BBC and other media past the blockades and minefields to get them from Bahrain to Kuwait; and brought direct pressure on the Kuwait government at its highest levels with our own footage and documentary evidence to drop the embargo and open the fire control efforts. I've also shut down large destructive industries with key imagery, and planned many dangerous at-sea expeditions. A lot of people posting here have substance, even if they kid around.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - Hunter S. Thompson

That is attention grabbing idea, but I wonder, even if successfully carried out, where it would lead.

Some of my thoughts this afternoon center on how it will be perceived. First, I can't understand why the American half of this investigation has not released its results, and why Semiletov is using a sole source outlet of the Independent at this point.

Given its extent, denialist accusations of say pumping methane overboard to insure funding are squashed, but I think the next avenue will be a claim that there's no evidence it hasn't been occurring/is normally hidden by ice. Absurd reactions, esp with the increased traffic throughout the Arctic over the last 20 years, and Semiletov's own past searches.

But once past those claims, where are we? Depressing to contemplate. Will someone propose an international, industrial lid to capture the gas? Or will it become like the loss of sea ice, just another parameter to measure? I had thought the loss of Arctic sea ice would truly sound the alarm after it became clear that the temperate glaciers, Glacier National Park, were toast. No dice. As Earl above states, another tipping point past, with the implied (fallaciously)"We're still going great guns."

But maybe that torch lit image will finally provide the necessary rallying point.

Actually, just doing the expedition would be unlikely to accomplish any specific goal. Getting the imagery is step 1 of many, but it gets one into the game. There needs to be a desired goal, and imagery and facts deployed to leverage intermediate steps toward that goal.

Burning seas is an image which will certainly be obtained by someone in the coming 5 years, but if those who get it don't know what to do with it, it'll come and go without making much impact, as trivia. At this point, reality needs PR help.

If imagery of seas boiling with methane don't do anything, I'm not sure burning seas will do much more. But who knows. Concentrations do have to be quite high--something over 5%, iirc.

Images alone can't be expected to do anything, just as education alone can't. The scattergun hope-some-enlightenment-sticks-to-the-wall approach really can't be counted on to accomplish anything in particular. There's a bit of performance art involved - even when you're simply presenting reality - to a species this jaded with this short an attention span. It's a behavioristic/opportunistic approach, like stampeding buffalo off a cliff.

It's aesthetically distasteful, which is why most activists don't do it; and it's difficult to do well, which is why it's seldom done well by citizen-activists when it IS tried.

Showing images of bubbling seas to most folks is like showing cows a picture of a hamburger. Moo? It needs a well-scored soundtrack, pacing, and everything else a Disney cartoon has to achieve memehood, and it needs to have the trappings of dire news; pre-digested context delivered at the right time to move the masses to a predetermined new state. That's what the deniers do, and they're kicking our butts.


Thanks for your reply, greenish.

if intelligently handled

Exactly! That's what I'm asking for and no less. Because to tell the truth, I have no high hopes for Homo s. to solve things intelligently. Almost everything I see us doing is exactly the opposite. We rush to do things never giving the unintended consequences a second thought. Not even the first one!

So if you really need to make some pics of burning sea to convince some denialists, by all means, be my guest and do it. But if (warning, youtube videos ahead!) this or this didn't do the trick, then I hope the magnitude of fireworks will. :-/

Heck, some time ago I had to instruct (as safety instructor) my colleagues how to not play with fire [at workplace] and now I basically sent you to do it... I must be getting old or something.... :D ;)

Thanks for your note. If I was in physical shape to mount the expedition, I wouldn't have noted it here. It would do no harm, and might do some good. Changing the way the world thinks about something isn't easy, though; the actual implementation of the expedition and the followup would be a longshot, though not as long as most things being tried now.


I agree that keeping the flame alight would be near impossible. Flammability limits (i.e., volume ratios of methane/air: 5% min, 15% max) would only be met in a small "window" where ignition is possible and the flame speed is likely much faster than the gases rising into this window; therefore, the flame would self-extinguish near the ocean surface. You might be able to create a flame "ripple", though, where the flame propagates outwards in a ring at height of the flammability window, but the turbulence of the wind/waves would also make this unlikely.

Build small, autonomous UAVs with sensors and an ignition system. Let them buzz around looking for methane to blow up instead of Muslims :-0

Actually, remote-controlled toy planes and boats carrying flares can be hand-launched and recovered from a ship, quite cheaply. One of the ways to find the hot-spots of plumes. No need to make 'em autonomous.

Yes. There would need to be quite a furious bubbling, and nearly still wind and surf conditions; but there might be ways to do a large science-class type demonstration with various devices that could be tried.

And methane is lighter thn air, it won't want to pool near the surface.

Cue Deep Purple:

Smo-o-o-oke on the water,
Fire in the sky.

Increasing Artic methane releases is a developing story, as the increases year on year are apparently rising very fast. Either it flattens out to something that adds to GHG on a minor scale or ratchets up into a game changer.

Hmm, lets see, net energy decline, debt bubbles, high unemployment, severe regional droughts and flooding, ocean acidification, desertification, over population, food prices rising, high unemployment, geopolitical uprisings, deforestation, 6th historical period of species extinction, skyrocketing CO2 levels, sea level rise, Arctic melt, and now dramatically increasing methane releases.

I got an idea. Lets pump billions of more tons of GHG's into the atmosphere while increasing our population a couple billion more and see where it goes...

Which kinda takes us right back to Shox and the problem of despair.

The tipping point might have been a while back.

[Has anyone but me considered that TOD can also be the acronym for Trump of Doom? :-)]

We are in the realm of what -- when I was young -- was science fiction... that is, the dystopian kind. I still have to pinch myself now and again to remind myself that these news articles are not part of some gloomy third volume of Brunner's Zanzibar/Sheep novels.

Why do people still go to "scary" movies? They seem much less scary than the headlines, somehow.

I think I'm scared enough for one night :-)

I still have to pinch myself now and again to remind myself that these news articles are not part of some gloomy third volume of Brunner's Zanzibar/Sheep novels.

But most people probably either do not understand the gravity of this type of news or they think of it as fiction, like the novels you refer to above. For many of them they probably consider it a flight of the liberal elitist mind, getting carried away with a minor amount of data that will inevitably be countered by their main source of entertainment, Fox news.

And so we push on to next tipping point.

whoa. From the article, the scale of the release sounds unbelievable. I hope they show some video footage or even create a documentary when they release the official report.

For a feeble attempt at perspective...

From the article:
"methane emissions from this region were about eight million tonnes a year, but the latest expedition suggests this is a significant underestimate of the phenomenon."

If the current estimate is 1/10th reality, this area would be producing the same amount of methane as all the world's livestock.

"Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually"

See also Global Methane Inventory: ruminant livestock = 16% of total annual methane production ("enteric fermentation" in the chart):

While not necessarily in the form of methane, every bit of carbon that makes up the bodies of the ruminants, as well as their emmisions, came from the environment in the last couple of years. The methane coming out of the permafrost has not been in the environment for a very long time. That's a significant difference.

I'm not trying to downplay what is happening.

If the current release is as much as that of today's livestock, I would consider that a significant addition to the total.

If the rate of release is growing... at what rate, how much would be "peak methane geyser"??? And how would that alter climate models?

I believe this story relates the results of a joint US-Soviet investigation first brought to this blog by Seraph last fall. I imagine a paper was submitted at the Geophysical conference also. It is only typical that it appears to be ignored by the mainstream US press, the least expected would be a polite nod centering on the US half of the investigation. Of course, I may be mistaken, and the results of the joint effort have not been released.

The story should grab the moniker of sobering in addition to scariest. Wake up.

Edit: Scary, Sobering, Shocking. Adjectives fall short.

Igor Semiletov is reporting torch-like structures of methane over 1000 meters in diameter. Hundreds of them.

"Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov said. "I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them."

And this is not their first venture, they have been monitoring the Arctic for years.

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2010/2010-03-08-03.html for a 2010 report.

I am betting that TPTB don't care two hoots about the ice melting, for them it presents an unprecedented opportunity to explore the Arctic.

Yup! TPTB rate everything on their "opportunity scale."

Especially revolutions and natural disasters.

Maybe someone from TOD can send a mail to the Russian folks who undertook the expedition. Would be good to hear straight from the horse's mouth, without any MSM spin to the story.

Just another bit of bad news in a continuum of depressing articles. Amazing how mundane it can be reading about something that could be a world and life changing event. A major methane release has long ranked right up there on my list of Big Deal things to watch out for. We've been waiting for The Sxxx To Hit The Fan - how ironic if it turns out it's just planetary flatulence that does us in.

First time commenter here! Clathrate destabilization on the ESAS is my AGW nightmare scenario as well. After doing some research, I've found what looks to be a recent, reputable article that indicates that methane release in shallow east Siberian waters is more likely a natural phenomenon, and not the result of wholesale undersea permafrost melt. Siberian shelf methane emissions not tied to modern warming

Treehugger is also carrying the story.


The nice thing is that "Treehugger" are affiliated to the "Discovery" channel, so there is a small chance the news might make it to a news/infotainment episode on their Cable TV channel.

The report concludes with four recommendations.

They are that with peak oil and global warming upon us the legislature should appoint an independent commission to study what is a long term sustainable population for our state, Vermont should move to a steady-state economy because a growth forever economy is unsustainable, environmental organizations and agencies should acknowledge the population growth factor in addressing environmental issues, and that because the temperature is rising so rapidly Vermont should act quickly and boldly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With the greatest respect to the good burghers of Vermont, this really sounds like politically correct nonsense, that only a politically correct nonsensical legislature could publish.

I am not certain that the Vermont population is roaring ahead, and even if it were, how do you stop it? Boom gates at the New Hampshire border?

How exactly does "Vermont" (an economic unit in any sense at all?) create a "steady-state economy" in isolation fro the rest of the US - let alone the rest of the world? A fatuous statement, at best.

I don't know what it means for Vermont's environmental agencies to recognise population growth in its policies ... a very obscure aim indeed.

And while Vermont's lovely people might recognise global warming, acting quickly and boldly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in vt will have precisely nil affect on everything and anything. It might cost jobs and increase costs in that fine state, of course.

So - this statement from Vermont represents everything good - and everything bad ... about everything, really.

Well I for one believe that political factors will play as big of a role as resources in determing which places do well and which don't.

For example Utah, Vermont, and Texas are some of the states which still retain some semblance of independent spirit and resistance to the American police state in it's various forms. Which may work in their favor when TSHTF.

Knowing the carrying capacity would be interesting. Who do you throw off the boat when you see you are over the carrying capacity? Do you exile them or kill them? Will the richest be the last thrown off the boat? The native Vermonters are not rich it is the retires from Boston and NYC that have the money. That would be ironic throwing the natives out so the rich retires could have a beautiful lifestyle.

Encana Calls B.S. On EPA's Wyoming Gas Fracking Study

Encana Oil & Gas, in a lengthy response today to the EPA’s allegations last week of fracking-caused groundwater pollution of a natural gas field in Wyoming, said it strongly disagrees with the agency’s conclusions. Encana said that EPA’s data from “existing domestic water wells” agrees with earlier tests done by Encana which “shows no impacts from oil and gas development.”

Some of Encana’s criticisms of the EPA’s approach are downright funny in their suggestion that the agency bungled not just its testing approach, but the test samples themselves.

The company notes that it “is an entirely expected result” for the EPA to find “components of natural gas” upon drilling two monitoring wells 900 feet down into a natural gas reservoir. At that depth, the monitoring wells go far deeper than the level of water wells used by people in the area (typically 300 feet down) and enter into the gas reservoir zone. So it’s no wonder they found gas. “Natural gas developers didn’t put the natural gas at the bottom of the EPA’s deep monitoring wells, nature did,” writes Encana.

Encana also notes the curiosity of EPA detecting man-made chemicals in the “blank” quality control water samples. These blanks are supposed to contain only ultra-purifed water. Finding chemicals in blanks “suggest a more likely connection to what it found is due to the problems associated with EPA methodology in the drilling and sampling of these two wells.”

Bottom line: The EPA screwed up this study quite badly (see you in court).

The EPA found fracking chemicals in an aquifer. Pretty darn simple.

Encana and Chesapeake should be prosecuted accordingly. Funny to see all of the AGW deniers come out in full force so quickly on this issue. Expect more disinformation.

Of importance is how investors will view these companies since their costs are too high and they need more money.

Investors Press Natural-Gas Drillers to Cut Risks From Fracking

Companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) should identify the chemicals used and consume less water in fracturing to free gas trapped in rock, according to a report to be released today from the Investor Environmental Health Network and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. The groups represent investors such as Pax World Funds in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Trillium Asset Management Corp. in Boston.

gog - Not that simple. How do you know Encanna or Chesapeake dumped the frac fluids into the environment? Remember much of the frac fluid contamination in PA and NYC came from local municipalities that charged companies a fee to dump the nasties into their treatment plants and then discharged it untreated back into the streams. Both states had to recently pass laws making it illegal to continue doing so. Or the nasties could have been dumped on to the ground by disposal companies that E. and C. paid a small fortune to dispose of properly. There was a case early on in PA where a land owner was busted for allowing a disposal company to dump the nasties into his own pond. Again, the operator paid the disposal company a big fee to get rid of it properly. But once the nasties are transfered to the disposal company it belongs to them. Or it could have been due to poor drilling practices done by E. but not by C. Or vice versa. Like I said...not that simple. Good regulations that are MONITORED AND ENFORCED are the key to getting it done right.

As far as the "cutting risk" proclamation it's rather hollow. First, the state can collect samples of the frac fluid anytime it wants to and cheaply ID every component. Another simple approach: pass a reg that requires full disclosure to the state or you don't get a frac permit. Each state can make the rules as they wish...no company has a constitutional right to drill a well anywhere in the US unless they comply with all the rules. Second, frac water costs money. Pumpimg more frac water than needed wastes money. The companies don't spend anymore money then necessary to frac a well. If they could consume less water they would. If the state regulators want to limit how much water is used on any frac all they need due is pass a new reg. That's how it's done in Texas. It really isn't difficult to control the situation if the politcians/regulators really want to.

The EPA found fracking chemicals in an aquifer. Pretty darn simple.

It became less simple when the EPA also found chemicals in their ultra-pure quality control water samples. It brings up the question of how careful the EPA was in collecting their water samples.

Also note that the EPA drilled below the water aquifers into the gas reservoirs and collected samples. Encana's point is that of course there is gas in the gas formations and that the EPA should have terminated drilling at the bottom of the water formations.

Hold your horses, Rocky - do we know what the purpose of the 900-foot well was? Maybe it was to see the vertical distribution of the fracking additives, not the natural gas, which the EPA might have expected to be there. Were the contaminants in the blank the same chemicals as the fracking additives, or were they lab contaminants such as common lab solvents? A contaminant in the blank may not impugn the field methodology if it's clear that the contaminant came from the lab or was in the "purified" water to begin with. In such cases, the contaminant in the blank is almost always a different chemical or chemicals than what you're looking for in the groundwater.

I'm not saying the EPA didn't screw up, but I wouldn't just take Encana's word for it (although I know from your previous posts that all Canadians are upright, honest, intelligent, good-looking, and above-average :-) ).

I have no idea what the EPA was trying to do. Their methodology makes no sense to me. The fact that the control samples were contaminated implies that they screwed up somewhere - that's what controls are all about. And this is not a shale gas reservoir, so what was their point in publishing the results?

To quote Encana:

The gas reservoir at Pavillion is as shallow as 1,100 feet and has no cap rock to prevent the gradual upward migration of gas. This unusually shallow gas naturally “pollutes” groundwater. And, says Encana, there is no contiguous water aquifer to move water through the area. This is not shale gas, which is usually found more than five times deeper.

It's a shallow gas field, and it is quite common in areas with shallow gas for the gas to get into the aquifers. In addition, the water in the area is naturally contaminated with sulfates, dissolved solids, and other chemicals. Problems were reported with it as far back as 1880. Bad water is quite common in the American West.

In addition, oil companies in the area historically drained their oil field wastes to pits. Encana says it is trying to find these old pits and clean them up. In Alberta we were not allowed to drain waste to pits because there is a tendency for it to get into the groundwater.

The American Petroleum Industry has checked in with its opinion on the EPA report:

API blasts EPA report on hydraulic fracturing

The oil and gas industry’s biggest trade group is blasting a government report that linked hydraulic fracturing with possible groundwater contamination in Wyoming.

Too many questions already have been raised about the data underpinning the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft report, said the American Petroleum Institute.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and state regulators have raised questions about some of the water samples drawn at EPA’s deep test wells in Pavillion, Wyo., after some of the results could not be replicated. Industry and Wyoming officials also have questioned whether the EPA may have introduced contaminants when it drilled those test wells.

“The oil and natural gas industry, Gov. Matt Mead and state agencies in Wyoming have raised numerous questions on the sampling process and lack of peer review for the EPA’s draft Pavillion groundwater report,” said Erik Milito, API’s group director for upstream and industry operations, in a statement.

Bottom line: The EPA is going to get roasted over the coals by the industry and the Wyoming government on this one because they can't back up their conclusions with solid data.

Wow, a couple of unbiased references there :)

Matt Mead was reportedly hand-picked by the Heartland Institute and remains unconvinced on AGW.

What's up with all the price spikes in the chart? It looks like this last one is real. What is going on? Not that I have any money to play with, but...

This appears to be the explanation (a discussion of an Iranian military maneuver on how to close the Strait of Hormuz):

Iran army declines comment on MP's Hormuz exercise remarks

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A member of the Iranian parliament's National Security Committee said on Monday that the military was set to practice its ability to close the Gulf to shipping at the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the most important oil transit channel in the world, but there was no official confirmation.

The legislator, Parviz Sarvari, told the student news agency ISNA: "Soon we will hold a military maneuver on how to close the Strait of Hormuz. If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure."

Contacted by Reuters, a spokesman for the Iranian military declined to comment. Iran's energy minister told Al Jazeera television last month that Tehran could use oil as a political tool in the event of any future conflict over its nuclear program.

Also Oil surges nearly $4, then eases, eyeing Iran

Tuesday and briefly surged nearly $4 a barrel in a furious burst of trading that traders attributed to renewed jitters over Iran, expectations of further monetary easing and possibly computer-driven trading.

Brent and U.S. crude prices shot up quickly at 9:45 a.m. EST (1445 GMT), adding to gains and briefly rising more than $3 as volumes surged in one of the most concentrated bursts of trading activity in months.

Other commodity markets did not jump, and traders and analysts remained unable to pinpoint a specific trigger for the price surge and news of a collision shutting the Houston Ship Channel was added to the mix.

Re: China refines overseas oil grab strategy, up top:


Well, I was glad to meet Nicole Foss last night, as she spoke to the Portland Maine Permaculture Meetup group.. it looked like some 50 or more folks attended, and there was a vibrant and long Q&A afterwards.. and when USM's lighting timer went dark in the meeting room, she joined us out in the Foyer to talk some more, til about 10:30.

You could have heard a pin drop, and noone (skewed sample, of course) challenged the basic premises of PO or the directions of the Credit Contraction and likely Depression that she put forward.. I don't think I've been in a room with that many people who would be OK with the kind of conversation we had.

Of course, I was also very grateful that she put a strong emphasis on what Local approaches to these dire portents we ought to consider taking, ways communities worked into alternative econ. models, made use of robust social connections and focused on hard assets. This Permie Meetup has just surpassed 1000 members and has activities on all fronts.. very encouraging, and nice to hear energy brought more directly into the conversation.

Thanks for Coming, Nicole!

Bob, glad you were able to get to see Nicole Foss. I, for one, am envious.

After the gloomy forecasts on the Automatic Earth in recent weeks regarding the Eurozone crisis and the possible mayhem on our bank accounts - advising people to keep out what we are planning to spend for Christmas as cash on hand - do you perceive from her talk that the situation is critical or is it downright catastrophic? Wondering if she offered any concrete advise on what measures can be taken to weather the storm? Is cash the safest bet these days? Or would a few gold coins on reserve be a handy thing in our possession? - notwithstanding fluctuations on a day by day basis. While social connections and a cache of hard assets are a strategy, is there something more that people like us should do to prepare?

I would be interested to hear more of your perspective on her presentation. I hope I'm not asking too much.




I cannot answer about what Bob heard from Nicole but when she came to Austin and gave her talk I had the same experience. A good crowd who listened in rapt attention.

In the Q&A she was strong on cash and cash equivalents (short term US Treasuries) as the current safest bet. She is not big on gold because she is convinced that the great deflationary contraction coming will take gold down along with everything else. Like a lot of others on TOD she thought the best investments were in lasting things - some land, a well constructed house, a good garden, etc.

It is really hard to know whether there will be inflation or deflation, but she makes a strong case for deflation.

I'll second Texas, here, Zadok. (Is that a Klingon Name?)

.. Yes, she encouraged keeping cash and other forms of quick liquidity available, moving towards other hard assets that had immediate value, such as Tools and truly useful things, as well as useful skills.. (I'm always big on Cutting surfaces, Hacksaw Blades and such, as well as the ability to sharpen tools, plus Fasteners .. nuts, bolts, staples, nails etc... and Glass and Mirrors)..

Gold she suggested could be useful for particular people and situations, but it also 'draws flies' if you will.

She was very level about the situation, which she very clearly painted as extremely serious, while her tone and choice of words was effective at keeping people from getting hysterical or lose their ability to keep listening because of how frightening it could be. Not unlike Shipbuilder Andrews, in the movie Titanic.

"The pumps buy you time, but minutes, only. The ship WILL sink, it is a mathmatical certainty." -- But you'll notice that he doesn't scream "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! AAAAHHH!!" .. and in fact, that night, a good many people did NOT die, and found some scant tools available to help them survive.

Pray for Shackletons, and many of them. (It's worth asking whether Earnest and Nicole and others actually are examples of people who HAVE learned from History.. even if the Aggregate of the Flock may not..)

Thanks Tex and Bob, wish I could have been there.

Shipbuilder Andrews is a helpful analogy. So, we're in for a cold water dump soon. Prepare as best we can.

I have several books on the Shackleton expedition on my bookshelf. (A good friend of our family is a grand niece of the famous Ernest). The story itself is a wonderful exposé on the resilience of human beings and how to survive amid dire and extreme conditions. The key in many ways to survival, amid the hardness and darkness of Antarctic winter, was to maintain social solidarity and a focus on the tasks at hand. If you have a purpose to strive for throughout the day, there is an increased chance of getting through it until tomorrow. Repeated enough times, days pass to weeks, weeks pass to months, etc., etc. You have my prayers for Shakletons in our midst.

PS: Zadok may or may not be Klingon, but it sure is a nice Handel.

Well played, indeed!


Why do people defend unjust, inept, and corrupt systems?

Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in—a government, company, or marriage—even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust? A new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, illuminates the conditions under which we’re motivated to defend the status quo—a process called “system justification.”

Reviewing laboratory and cross-national studies, the paper illuminates four situations that foster system justification: system threat, system dependence, system inescapability, and low personal control.

When we’re threatened we defend ourselves—and our systems. Before 9/11, for instance, President George W. Bush was sinking in the polls. But as soon as the planes hit the World Trade Center, the president’s approval ratings soared. So did support for Congress and the police.

During Hurricane Katrina, America witnessed FEMA’s spectacular failure to rescue the hurricane’s victims. Yet many people blamed those victims for their fate rather than admitting the agency flunked and supporting ideas for fixing it. In times of crisis, say the authors, we want to believe the system works.

When we feel we can’t escape a system, we adapt. ... You’d think that when people are stuck with a system, they’d want to change it more,” says Kay. But in fact, the more stuck they are, the more likely are they to explain away its shortcomings. Finally, a related phenomenon: The less control people feel over their own lives, the more they endorse systems and leaders that offer a sense of order.

IEA report sees no let-up in world’s appetite for coal over next 5 years - Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2011 also addresses global implications of Chinese coal demand

“For all of the talk about removing carbon from the energy system, the IEA projects average coal demand to grow by 600,000 tonnes every day over the next five years,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said during the launch of the book. "Policy makers must be aware of this when designing strategies to enhance energy security while tackling climate change."

The report also raises concerns about the global implications of China’s massive appetite for coal, noting that events and decisions in China could have an outsized effect on coal prices – and thus electricity prices – around the world over the next five years.

To understand why, consider that China’s domestic coal market is more than three times the global coal trade: Only 15% of global coal demand is met through international trade, yet more than half of global coal demand during the outlook period is projected to come from China.

Houston Channel shut down:

Any petrochemical implications?

Ocean acidification may directly harm fish: study

... in a new article published in the December 11, 2011, online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers from Stony Brook University demonstrate that “the fish are okay” belief ignores an important knowledge gap – the possible effects of CO2 during the early development of fish eggs and larvae. Co-authors of the study, Christopher Gobler and Hannes Baumann, are professors at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (SoMAS) and represent one of several international teams working on closing this gap.

Their present study is the first to show that elevated CO2 levels significantly decreased survival and growth rates in eggs and larvae of a fish. The researchers reared newly fertilized eggs of a common estuarine fish, the inland silverside (Menidia beryllina), under different CO2 levels predicted for future oceans (current: ~400 ppm, mid-century: ~600 ppm, end-of-century: ~1,000 ppm) and found that egg and larval stages of these fish were highly sensitive to CO2. On average, survival rates until one week post-hatch declined by over 70% under elevated (1,000 ppm) compared to current day CO2 conditions. In addition, surviving larvae were 18% smaller in the high than in the low CO2 group.

New Study Documents Cumulative Impact of Mountaintop Mining

"Our analysis of water samples from 23 sites along West Virginia's Upper Mud River and its tributaries shows that salinity and trace element concentrations, including selenium, increased at a rate directly proportional to the cumulative amount of surface mining in the watershed," said Duke researcher Ty Lindberg. "We found a strong linear correlation."

Changes in water quality due to the increased salinity in the Upper Mud from mine runoff also were found to be "exceptionally persistent," Lindberg said. "Mines reclaimed almost two decades ago are continuing to release effluents with salinity similar to active mines in the region."

"Nearly 90 percent of the variation in trace elements and salinity could be explained by the amount of upstream surface mining."

Liquefied Gas Shipping Rates Rise to Record, Morgan Stanley Says

Contracts for 51 of 59 LNG carriers on order at shipbuilding yards worldwide were signed in 2011, data from Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a unit of the world’s largest shipbroker, shows. Up to 15 percent of the fleet was potentially available for short-term hire of up to five years’ duration, with the remainder employed for terms of around 20 years serving dedicated projects, Turner said.

Morgan Stanley estimates one-year hire rates for LNG carriers that haul 150,000 cubic meter cargoes of LNG climbed 8.3 percent last week to $130,000 daily. That’s more than four times average rates in 2009, when rates slumped to $32,946 daily, the bank said.

Higher Asian demand for LNG shipped from farther-away Atlantic Ocean-based countries boosted distances traveled, lengthening voyage times to curb supply and exacerbate a shortage of available ships, according to Braemar Seascope Ltd., a London-based shipbroker. Countries like Nigeria are also raising LNG output, requiring additional ships to export it, Debbie Turner, director of the shipbroker’s LNG division said by phone.

S - thanks again for the "drip-feed" of interesting articles!

I find this one particularly interesting, that we have *more* LNG shipments at the same time as we are having *less* crude oil shipments.

I winder if we'll see any retrofits of crude carriers?

So it could easily be $10/cu.m for transport, but given that a cu.m of LNG has an energy value equal to 174 gal of diesel fuel (and can be used in the same way), that is only the equivalent of 6c/gal.

And no further refining needed.

That said, I think widespread adoption of CNG/LNG is not going to happen, here, anytime soon.

OPEC price hawks to accept 30 mbpd oil deal

"We think there is enough oil in the market and that as Libyan oil production recovers the countries which supplied additional barrels have to reduce their production again below current levels," said Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.

"$100 is now the minimum acceptable price," said a non-Gulf delegate.

The Gulf nations, concerned about the impact of high prices on global growth, would prefer a lower price. The UAE said recently that $80-$100 would be reasonable.

Monkeys to Track Fallout at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant

“The monkeys can help us get more accurate readings in areas that aren’t so accessible,” Takahashi said. “We’ll get a better idea of how radiation is spread by rain, by plants, by rivers in the forest.”

The collars equipped with radiation meters and GPS transmitters will be detachable by remote control, but the plan is to keep the devices on the animals, for decades.

IMF concedes Greece can't tax its public any more

"I think one of the things we have seen in 2011 is that we have reached the limit of what can be achieved through increasing taxes," Poul Thomsen, the IMF mission chief in Greece, told reporters.

Whats next? Sell them into slavery?

That would be the IMF solution. Sell the infrastructure, including water plants, sewer plants, electric (if not already public), gas, etc., oh and roads! Liquidate the State. Enslave the populace! That is Milt Friedman's dream. Shock and awe!

Of course, he doesn't say who is going to buy the water (if the people are enslaved by their Corporate Masters, they certainly cannot, and Reagan knows we can't be giving it away now, can we?). Or the electric, or pay the bill for sewage treatment, or road use. The best I can see from his brand of economic madness is that gradually the rich canabalize themselves, the least rich first, then the slightly more rich, and so forth until there is only one rich person left, and he wins! But what he wins, again, I cannot say. Or how he controls all of those slaves (if any survive in Friedmania).

But, the IMF is the tool of the Chicago boys, isn't it?

So, I say, have at it Friedmanites... worship Saint Ronnie the Wrong, and please, beatify Newt quickly, while he is Forgiven! Maybe the unseen hand can wave away the CO2, dig up some clean coal and - oh yes, Lord Ronnie, - some more oil!! Dig Miltie, Dig!

/ rant


The IMF is the global mobs enforcer-- liquidate all resources, take away wages and services, and hand the citizens the bill.
This is from a loan to a dictator that is part of your client state relationship, and has moved the cash to Switzerland, and given the contracts for a project that will never work to the very people who loaned the money.
These people are scum!

Greece needs to repudiate the debt. Let the rich take the hit for a change. Change we can all believe in.

Residential Electric bills skyrocket:


I was unaware that the cost of electricity in Hawaii is 28 cents per KWH and New York is 18 cents per KWH!!!! The average is 11.4 cents per KWH.

Celestial Alert! Just a reminder to keep looking up:

The 2011 Geminid Meteor Shower

Dec. 13, 2011: The 2011 Geminid meteor shower peaks on the night of Dec. 13-14, and despite the glare of a nearly-full Moon, it might be a good show.

"Observers with clear skies could see as many as 40 Geminids per hour," predicts Bill Cooke of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office. "Our all-sky network of meteor cameras has captured several early Geminid fireballs. They were so bright, we could see them despite the moonlight."

[apologizes if previously posted]

I always enjoy watching these travelers expend their energy and matter in our atmosphere. Geminids (Gemini?) are sometimes unusual due to their asteroid (vs. comet) parent.

Yessssss! ^^
Finally my field of expertise - astronomy! :D

Yes, Geminids, cuz they have radiant (the place from where they are optically originating) in constellation Gemini. :)

But actually, naked-eye observers such as me, we like Perseids more, because they are... um... more observation-friendly - in August = summer, warm, no need for hot tea with rum to keep you warm the whole night, you know.

Anyways.. Glad to meet a fellow stargazer. ;) Or, should I say in respect to our age: "stargeezer"..? :))

PS: Do you always wish for something? Cuz you know, people usually wish things when they see a "falling star". ;)

I only wish to see another. "...just one more! It ain't reeealy that cold."

Yeah, exactly my wish this night, too. It's already 01:48AM CET here and Gemini is culminating, almost clear sky, Moon shining... veeeery romantic. But sooo cold! Um... eeerm... ugh... "It ain't reeealy that cold." < - *he's repeating this mantra and hoping it works* :))

we like Perseids more, because they are... um... more observation-friendly - in August

Nah, that's our rainy season = rain = cloud = no starry sky :(


Nothing like watching the Perseids on a high rocky ridge somewhere in Arizona while they seem to whiz all around you.





Bombs hit southern Iraq oil pipeline

Three bombs hit an oil pipeline that transports crude from Iraq’s southern oilfields to storage tanks around the oil hub of Basra on Tuesday, an oil police source said.

The impact on oil production or exports was not immediately clear, but firefighters were working to put out the blaze caused by the blast, the source who was at the explosion site said.

“The explosions happened in succession and caused an enormous fire,” he said.



Iraq's leader becoming a new 'dictator,' deputy warns

Baghdad (CNN) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is amassing dictatorial power as U.S. troops leave the country, risking a new civil war and the breakup of the nation, his deputy warned Tuesday.

"America left Iraq with almost no infrastructure. The political process is going in a very wrong direction, going toward a dictatorship," he said. "People are not going to accept that, and most likely they are going to ask for the division of the country. And this is going to be a disaster. Dividing the country isn't going to be smooth, because dividing the country is going to be a war before that and a war after that."


and the IEA is expecting Iraq to be the largest source of oil supply growth!? , no wonder Exxon has run to sign contracts with the Kurds in the north.


Iraq hit a post-invasion high in net exports of 1.82 mbpd in 2008 (BP, total petroleum liquids), but 2009 net exports were 1.81 mbpd and 2010 net exports fell to 1.72 mbpd.