Drumbeat: February 1, 2012

Thomas Homer-Dixon: Our peak oil premium

Peak oil – it’s history, right?

Everything has changed so fast.

Two years ago, the world was facing an intractable oil crisis. “By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear,” the U.S. Defence Department declared in a major report. “A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity.”

But now we’re told that the world is awash in oil. Deepwater production from the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil is soaring. New “elephant” fields have been discovered off Ghana and possibly Angola. Meanwhile, hydrofracking technology is liberating hundreds of thousands of barrels a day from “tight” shale oil formations in North Dakota and Texas, with more coming on line from Colorado, Wyoming and even Ohio.

Oil inches above $99 on China data, US supply jump

Oil prices inched above $99 a barrel Wednesday as investors weighed encouraging economic data from China against a jump in U.S. crude inventories and signs of sluggish growth.

The Peak Oil Crisis: On Closing Our Refineries

Here is one more thing for those of us who live in the northeastern U.S. to start worrying about - the refineries that make our gasoline, diesel, heating oil, etc. are dropping like flies.

In today's economy, these refineries are simply losing so much money that their owners who are not major oil companies that make billions from oil production are having put them up for sale or close them down. In recent years we lost refineries in Westville, NJ, and Yorktown, Va. A large refinery in southeastern Pennsylvania was shut down in December as was one in New Jersey. A third large Philadelphia refinery is up for sale and will be closed in July if no buyer can be found.

The politics of peak oil

It’s a bit hard to believe that in 2012 anyone is still unclear about what “peak oil” means, but enough confusion about it has surfaced in the past week that I feel compelled to, once again, try to set the record straight.

Al-Naimi: Investing for the Future in Turbulent Times [PDF]

I would like to begin, though, by correcting a particular misunderstanding, or misperception, about Saudi Arabia – specifically about its domestic oil consumption and the impact this may or may not have on its position as the world’s leading crude oil supplier.

U.S. Refiners, Oil Workers Avert Strike With Tentative Three-Year Contract

The United Steelworkers union and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) averted a potential strike that would have idled as many as 69 refineries by tentatively agreeing to a new three-year contract.

The proposal includes pay increases of 2.5 percent in the first year and 3 percent in the second and third years, along with some of the improvements in safety language sought by the union, according to three labor representatives with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

Scottish independence: Minister says referendum brings oil uncertainty

The UK energy minister has described the independence referendum as "a point of uncertainty that could cause concern" to oil and gas firms.

Russia, Ukraine Consider EU Role in Gas Talks

Ukraine and Russia are considering inviting the European Commission to take part in bilateral gas talks, Ukraine’s energy minister Yury Boyko said on Wednesday.

“Russia shows understanding on the issue. Constructive talks to invite European partners are underway,” the minister said.

Gazprom can't meet all requests for gas-source

(Reuters) - Gazprom is getting more requests for gas deliveries to Europe than it can physically accommodate, a source at the Russian gas export monopoly said on Wednesday, adding that demand had been at elevated levels for more than a week.

Russia cuts EU gas, blames cold weather

BRUSSELS - Gazprom has begun cutting gas supplies to the EU in order to meet higher demand in Russia caused by severe cold weather.

Gazprom Sees 2011 Net Profit Up 25% On-Year At $40 Billion

MOSCOW – Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom (GAZP.RS) said Wednesday it expects net profit for 2011 to grow 25% from a year earlier to $40 billion.

Michael C. Lynch: Restraining Gas Exports (and Prices)

Calls for a ban on natural gas exports are perhaps the surest proof of the success of "fracking," or hydraulic fracturing of shale, which has seen a boom that has depressed wellhead prices by 75 percent, bringing major benefits to both residential and industrial consumers. The benefits to the overall economy include lower inflation, a better balance of trade, and more money in the pockets of consumers. Banning exports of natural gas to keep prices low, as some have suggested, would seem to be a win-win for both the economy and consumers. What could go wrong with the government trying to manipulate commodity markets?

Iraq oil bid delay seen as positive

Iraq is amending contract terms amid signs that ExxonMobil's move into Kurdistan will go unpunished.

Oman plans 230km gas pipeline to once-sleepy fishing village

The gas supply will be provided by the state-run Petroleum Development Oman from one of its largest gasfields in central Oman.

Oman is developing Duqm to be the second industrial city after Soharin the north-east of the sultanate, in its bid to diversify its oil dependent economy.

Michael Klare: If the Iranian powder keg explodes

No one knows just how high oil prices would go under such circumstances, but many energy analysts believe that the price of a barrel might immediately leap by $50 or more. “You would get an international reaction that would not only be high, but irrationally high,” says Lawrence J. Goldstein, a director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation. Even though military experts assume the U.S. will use its overwhelming might to clear the strait of Iranian mines and obstructions in a few days or weeks, the chaos to follow in the region might not end quickly, keeping oil prices elevated for a long time. Indeed, some analysts fear that oil prices, already hovering around $100 per barrel, would quickly double to more than $200, erasing any prospect of economic recovery in the United States and Western Europe, and possibly plunging the planet into a renewed Great Recession.

The Iranians are well aware of all this, and it is with such a nightmare scenario that they seek to deter Western leaders from further economic sanctions and other more covert acts when they threaten to close the strait. To calm such fears, U.S. officials have been equally adamant in stressing their determination to keep the strait open. In such circumstances of heightened tension, one misstep by either side might prove calamitous and turn mutual rhetorical belligerence into actual conflict.

Iran More Willing to Attack in U.S., National Intelligence Director Says

Iran is stepping up its support for international terrorism and its intelligence operations against the U.S., the Director of National Intelligence told Congress.

Afghans' attacks on U.S. troops often personal

WASHINGTON (AP) – Supposedly friendly Afghan security forces have attacked U.S. and coalition troops 45 times since May 2007, U.S. officials say, for the first time laying out details and analysis of attacks that have killed 70 and wounded 110.

Egypt snubs U.S. envoy regarding Americans barred from leaving

CAIRO (AP) – The Egyptian justice minister returned a letter Tuesday from the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt asking him to re-examine the issue of Americans barred from leaving the country.

The snub is the latest in a spat between the allies over a politically charged Egyptian investigation into foreign funded groups.

Clinton: U.N. action in Syria won't be military

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Vowing to avoid "another Libya," the U.S. and its allies challenged Russia on Tuesday to overcome its opposition to a U.N. draft resolution demanding that Syrian President Bashar Assad yield power and end the violence that has killed thousands.

Buying Oil Investments – Chapter 11: Peak Oil

The idea of peak oil is that it is a theoretical date at which time the world’s production of oil will have peaked. Any production of oil after this date will be in a state of continuous decline facing an ever decreasing oil reserve. In short, the world’s output of oil can never be increased after this stage. We are all aware that fossil fuels resources are finite and that we might be decades away from peak oil.

Nevertheless, the idea of peak oil has served to spur on developments in other areas of the energy sector hoping that when the date for peak oil arrives we will already have a viable alternative source of fuel in place of oil.

Peak Oil: The Crisis No One Is Talking About

While human innovation has allowed us to use oil as a novel source of energy, and made us an exception in nature, it does not free us from the binding laws of physics. We cannot use more energy than we gather. Neither a single being nor a species as a whole can survive without the energy to sustain it. Energy from fossil fuels can never be replaced once it is burnt, and unlike energy from the Sun it does not flow in an endless stream.

Oil reaches peak after overestimation

Peak oil is a key character in a host of conspiracy theories, but by now has achieved a degree of legitimacy. The theory was postulated in the 1950s when economists began to consider the consequences of employing a highly finite resource as the foundation of the country’s new transportation infrastructure. Observing that oil fields typically have a life cycle, production growing until a point and declining thereafter, economists inferred that a similar condition might be reached by the world’s reserves as a whole should demand continue to increase.

Constructing the modern world on oil now seems to have been a bad idea or at least a fleeting one, as we stand here sixty-odd years later staring at the possibility – that the most advanced sectors of modern civilization will begin a permanent decline – in the face. And it will happen sooner than we think, as the Wiki-leaked State Department cables of last year revealed a radical overestimation of Saudi oil reserves, perhaps by as much as 40 percent.

The Geopolitics of Oil

Oil is one of the most useful substances on this earth, a fact that hasn’t gone unrecognised by world leaders. Billions of pounds and thousands of lives have been spent protecting or seizing oil assets across the globe. If a country is going to go to war, it seems that many people think large oil supplies are a decent enough reason to do so. It is impossible to ignore the historical legacy of what happens to poorly defended countries that are unfortunate enough to have oil and decide they want to keep it. It’s not so much about expanding power, as it about managing an inevitable decline.

Exxon Setback as Shale-Gas Wells Fail in Poland

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s failed shale-gas wells in Poland may hobble the nation’s effort to become one of the world’s major energy sources and dismantle Russian dominance of Eastern European gas markets.

ExxonMobil rakes in $9.4 billion in 4th-quarter profit

ExxonMobil Corp. posted fourth-quarter net income Tuesday of $9.4 billion, up 2 percent from the same quarter a year ago and slightly above market expectations, helped by rising crude oil prices.

It's also more money than The Bahamas' annual GDP, according to the CIA Factbook.

Tainted-Well Lawsuits Mount Against Gas Frackers Led by Cabot

For 36 years, Norma Fiorentino drew water from a well near her home in Dimock, Pennsylvania. “It was the best water in town,” she says.

Then on Jan. 1, 2009, she says her well blew up.

Petrobras Shuts Fifth Most Productive Well After Accident

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, shut its fifth most productive well after detecting a leak of 160 barrels in deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

BP Must Cover Some Halliburton Gulf Spill Costs, Judge Says

BP Plc (BP) must cover some of any direct damage claims awarded against Halliburton Co. (HAL) for the $40 billion in cleanup costs and economic losses caused by the 2010 oil-well blowout and Gulf of Mexico spill.

Cameron Sues Insurer Over Refusal It Says Threatened BP Deal

Cameron International Corp., facing thousands of claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, sued one of its insurers for allegedly refusing to pay $50 million in coverage, a move the manufacturer says threatened a $250 million settlement with BP Plc.

Atomic Agency Backs Safety Tests for Japan’s Reactors

TOKYO — A United Nations fact-finding mission on Tuesday tentatively supported new stress tests devised to determine whether Japan’s nuclear plants can withstand another emergency, throwing its weight behind a government push to restart reactors idled in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and tsunami in March.

Japan’s Nuclear Plant Safety Tests Ignore Fukushima Lessons, Advisers Say

Japan’s so-called stress tests to review nuclear plant safety don’t include lessons from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi disaster, effectively ignoring the reason for running the checks, two government advisers said.

California Nuclear plant shuts down reactor as precaution

(Reuters) - One of two reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power station in Southern California was shut down on Tuesday after a small leak was detected in a steam generator tube, but the incident posed no risk to the public or plant workers, the facility operator said.

Quakes and U.S. Reactors: An Analytic Tool

With the release of a computer model of all known geologic faults east of Denver, nearly all of the nuclear power plants in the United States are about to embark on a broad re-evaluation of their vulnerability to earthquakes. The new mapping is the first major update of the fault situation for plants since 1989.

Democrats to unveil anti-price gouging bill

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Senate Democratic leaders are unveiling a bill that attempts to protect consumers from price gouging following storms.

Senate President Donald Williams said lawmakers want to build upon an existing law that bans price gouging of gasoline and home heating fuels. They would add weather-related services and products, such as snow rakes and snow removal services.

Obama green jobs program faces further investigation

WASHINGTON – House Republicans are expanding their probe into the Obama administration's energy programs, investigating $500 million in green job training grants that reached just 10% of its job-placement goal, according to a government report.

Rare Earth Metal Refinery Nears Approval

KUANTAN, Malaysia — The world’s largest refinery for rare earth metals has risen out of the red mud of a coastal swamp here and could soon obtain permission to operate — a step that would help break China’s near monopoly on rare earths but also worsen an emerging glut of some of these strategic minerals.

Is Your Building Gobbling Energy?

A new interactive map prepared by Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science allows New York City residents to compare estimates of their use of electricity and heat by neighborhood and by building. Posted online on Tuesday, it offers statistics on energy consumption by ZIP code in all five boroughs of the city.

Why Historic Buildings Are Greener Than LEED-Certified New One

Buildings eat up a huge amount of energy—about two-fifths of the country’s total use—so to suppress their appetite for power, efficiency entrepreneurs are churning out a suite of nifty technologies, like automatically shading windows, smarter thermostats, and high-tech heating and cooling systems. But a new report from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Green Lab concludes that constructing new, energy-efficient buildings almost never saves as much energy as renovating old ones.

New York’s Solar Balance Sheet

Despite uncertainties in the solar energy market, New York officials should support the “steady and measured growth” of solar power in the state as part of a balanced renewable energy strategy, a new report recommends.

Train in Vain

The idiotic Department of Transportation rule that’s hobbled America’s mass transit—and the wonderful regulation that may soon replace it.

Gas-tax hike may not be answer to commuter-rail crisis

BOSTON -- Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said yesterday he would be "shocked" if a proposal to slash commuter-rail service on nights and weekends was adopted in full this year.

But any plan to keep the trains running is unlikely to include an increase in the gas tax, despite Boston Mayor Tom Menino recently endorsing the tax as an alternative to fare hikes and service cuts.

Foldable electric car debuts in Europe

The commercial version of a two-seater foldable electric car that driver and passenger enter through a pop-out windshield was officially unveiled this week in Europe.

The car, called Hiriko, is powered by four in-wheel motors that each turn a full 90 degrees. Its compact — and compactable — design coupled with four-wheel steering should allow parking in the tightest of spaces on crowded city streets.

India plan to raise tax on diesel vehicles ignites row

The Indian finance ministry's plan to raise a tax on diesel vehicles, as part of the current national budget, has left motorists and industry chiefs spluttering.

Japan population to shrink by one-third by 2060

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's population of 128 million will shrink by one-third and seniors will account for 40 percent of people by 2060, placing a greater burden on a smaller working-age population to support the social security and tax systems.

The grim estimate of how rapid aging will shrink Japan's population was released Monday by the Health and Welfare Ministry.

Kiwis take the lead in heading off global food crisis

Say goodbye to the era of food abundance. And hello to an era of global food scarcity, where hunger and the rising cost of eating has fuelled revolutions in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.

As the world begins to recognise there is a real food-supply crisis, Kiwis are leading the challenge to the way agriculture is organised internationally, taking principal roles in organising a major international congress on "Rethinking Agriculture".

Food Crisis as Drought and Cold Hit Mexico

MEXICO CITY — A drought that a government official called the most severe Mexico had ever faced has left two million people without access to water and, coupled with a cold snap, has devastated cropland in nearly half of the country.

The government in the past week has authorized $2.63 billion in aid, including potable water, food and temporary jobs for the most affected areas, rural communities in 19 of Mexico’s 31 states. But officials warned that no serious relief was expected for at least another five months, when the rainy season typically begins in earnest.

Sharon Astyk: Disaster Recovery and Big Government

The increasing number of natural disasters attributable to climate change will make us more dependent on institutional response structures, and we are likely to have no choice but to prioritize those. At the same time, I'm less optimistic than Parenti that this will change rhetoric - after all, disaster recovery is big government, but so is the world's largest military force, and many of those who oppose big government favor highly interventionist militarism. Imagining a sudden outbreak of consistency seems optimistic to me.

When carbon credits work in the Amazon

For Brazil nut farmers in the Amazon, carbon credits could offer new income.

Kiwi climate sceptics get American funding

New Zealand's most prominent group of global warming sceptics has received at least $84,000 from an American think-tank which has been backed by fossil fuel interests and accused of "climate change denialism".

The Chicago-based Heartland Institute paid the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition grants of US$25,000 ($30,800) and US$45,000 in in 2007.

A dangerous shift in Obama’s ‘climate change’ rhetoric

What happened to “climate change” and “global warming”?

The Earth is still getting hotter, but those terms have nearly disappeared from political vocabulary. Instead, they have been replaced by less charged and more consumer-friendly expressions for the warming planet.

In the Little Ice Age, Lessons for Today

“I think people might look at the Little Ice Age and think that all we need to save us from rising temperatures are some volcanic eruptions or the geo-engineering equivalent,” she said. “But when you see what happened when global temperatures dropped by just one degree and you look at current predictions of six or seven degree increases for the future, you realize how precarious things are for life as we know it.”

Al Gore - From Antarctica to Bangladesh: The Story of Rising Seas

The ice on land is melting at a faster rate and large ice sheets are moving toward the ocean more rapidly. As a result, sea levels are rising worldwide. Most of the world's ice is contained in Antarctica -- more than 90 percent. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which lies south of the Peninsula, contains enough water to raise sea levels worldwide by more than 20 feet. Part of the ice sheet, the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, is among the many in Antarctica that are shrinking at an accelerating rate. This has direct consequences for low-lying coastal and island communities all over the world -- and for their inland neighbors.

India's stake in Arctic cold war

It is ironic that while on the one hand the world is grappling with global warming triggered by climate change, the world's major powers are scrambling to profit from its consequences in the fragile Arctic zone. There is a deliberate effort to minimise the dangers of the melting of Arctic ice, which may affect the chemical composition of the world's oceans, raise sea-levels, affect ocean currents and thereby weather patterns across the globe, including our own monsoons, which are vital to our survival.

Average US rig counts (drilling for oil) versus average net increase in annual US crude oil production

An interesting pattern for readers to ponder. Anyone have better historical rig count data, regarding number of rigs drilling for oil in the US?

Rounding off somewhat, it looks like there were about 300 rigs drilling for oil in the US in January, 2008, 800 in January, 2011 and 1,200 in January, 2012. I haven't been able to find a January, 2009 and January, 2010 numbers, but my interpolated estimates for the average number of rigs drilling for oil in recent years in the US are as follows:

2008: 385
2009: 550
2010: 715
2011: 1,000

The net increase in average US crude oil production in 2009 was 0.4 mbpd, or about 730 bpd per drilling rig.

The net increase in average US crude oil production in 2010 was 0.1 mbpd, or about 140 bpd per drilling rig.

The net increase in average US crude oil production in 2011 was 0.1 mbpd (through, October). If this number holds, the net increase per drilling rig would be about 100 bpd per rig.

A really interesting question is what region accounted for most of the 2008 to 2009 increase in production. I'm guessing it was mostly Gulf of Mexico production.

Thank you very much. Here is the annual chart through 2010:

And here is my post, with the corrected EIA numbers through 2010 (estimated for 2011):

2008: 379
2009: 278
2010: 591
2011: 1,000

The net increase in average US crude oil production in 2009 was 0.4 mbpd*, or about 1,440 bpd per drilling rig.

The net increase in average US crude oil production in 2010 was 0.1 mbpd, or about 170 bpd per drilling rig.

The net increase in average US crude oil production in 2011 was 0.1 mbpd (through, October). If this number holds, the net increase per drilling rig would be about 100 bpd per rig.

*The entire net increase from 2008 to 2009 was due to the GOM (presumably production rebounding from hurricane damage + deepwater):


This is why I tend to use 2004 US crude oil production (5.4 mbpd) as a reference point. We hit 5.4 mbpd in 2009, 5.5 mbpd in 2010, and 5.6 mbpd in 2011 (through October).

If we look at the BP data base (total petroleum liquids), US production rose by 0.3 mbpd from 2004 to 2010, but consumption fell by 1.6 mbpd. My point being that the dominant trend is that the US, and many other developed oil importing countries, are gradually being shut out of the global market for exported oil.

Is that a bubble forming? Or is it sustainable due to higher oil prices. I guess the latter.

Is the spike in the rig count all due to the higher prices - i.e. is it based purely on economic motivations or is this also an indication of just how dire the supply situation has become and that we need to get pumping every drop we can ?

"Despite lowered demand here we still can't shove those nasty prices back down where they belong... the only way to do that must be to flood the market with supply ! "

Or the more serious realization that even with high prices and lowered demand we are still having supply issues (or supply issues projected for not far down the line) ?

Many apparent ways to read into this kind of data - I'm afraid I'm just not very skilled with trying to know what it's telling us...

One thing I was wondering - is there a breakout as far as what types of wells these are - conventional oil / shale oil - how much of that count is due to the boom in South Dakota etc. ?

If only Obama had not held back the oil drillers so much.

Nice satire.

Yeah . . . any reader of the conservative media would think that Obama has handcuffed the oil & gas industry such that they haven't been able to drill at all. The poor beleaguered oil industry tied-down in endless red-tape from tree-hugging hippies. They couldn't be any further from the truth.

.. and it serves to remind us the way in which any US leader at this point is going to be inbetween a rock and a hard place. Pretty much leaves denial as the only understandable responding behavior, not that I condone it.

Sort of brings to mind TE Lawrence (or Peter O'Toole, I guess), saying about the match flame against his fingers, "Definitely it hurts.. ...the trick, William Potter is not minding that it hurts.."


That is my favorite movie of all time. I tried to get people to watch it before we went into Iraq in 2003. Thought it might provide a little historical background and therefore caution.

I have not seen a 'handcuff' criticism about onshore drilling. The criticism has been that the administration shut down offshore, deep water drilling (>500ft) after DWH. The government stopped all over 500ft Gulf drilling for the better part of 2010, and likely would have gone longer had not a federal judge ruled it illegal. One can argue about about the rationale for the policy, but are the facts in dispute?

There is no dispute that there was a temporary moratorium of deepwater drilling after the Deepwater Horizon blew up, sank, and left riser spewing oil at the bottom of the Gulf. It was a prudent thing to do. But beyond that, temporary moratorium, they have not been hostile to drillers AFAIK. It was just a few weeks before the DWH disaster when they proposed expanding drilling in the Gulf but those plans got shelved. The recent SOTU speech mentioned opening up more areas but I don't think details have been given out yet on where. I suspect it will be offshore on the Atlantic side.

Yup! Graph production per well or per meter drilled going back in time and you can see it crash towards zero (all data at the EIA site). A clear indication of why peak oil happens. You can drill more, but returns per well fall faster than drilling can increase.

It makes an ok proxy for EROI when you don't have enough data.

Note that the average oil well in Texas produced 21 bpd in 1972, and 6 bpd in 2010, while the average gas well in Texas in 1972 produced five times as much gas as the average gas well in Texas in 2010 (RRC). These numbers are probably indicative of the overall Lower 48.

Here is the US natural gas data up to 2006. If this was the altitude of an air plane - would you be putting on the parachute and jumping? Or waiting a bit longer to see what happens?

A lot has happened in NG since 2006. Any ideas about how more recent numbers might look?

I will look into updating this weekend. It is tricky to pull out the nat gas from oil vs the nat gas from gas directed wells. The EIA data lags a few years. Hopefully we can get to 2010, but they seem behind in updates.

From reading various posts here I have been getting the feeling that gas and oil figures are being mixed together more so as to make it harder for the less analytical observer to see what is going on. Any thoughts on this?


Why stop the graph right where the shale gas revolution exploded, cratering prices, overfilling our supply, bulging out reserves, and filling our policy maker's heads with dreams of becoming a gas exporter? The revenge of the resource pyramid, perhaps?

I will update this weekend and we can see what happens. Shale has allowed production to increase, which is not happening with conventional gas, so there is something to the hype. However, it is very expensive gas, and is being funded by destroying a lot of investment - which is another way of saying it is pulling one heck of a lot of energy back out of the economy (in the form of steel, labor, fuel, etc). My guess is that shale is to nat gas what Alaskan oil was to lower 48 oil production: A nice but temporary boost to an overall declining trend.

I would be surprised if the US did not peak in net energy from natural gas in 2001 - 2005.

"something to the hype"...interesting understatement for a resource to reserve conversion so powerful it completely reversed a Hubbertian decline and repeaked the entire countries natural gas production some 40 years after the one Hubbert predicted. Another "something" and we might get back to $1/gal gasoline! Which would be terrible of course, what with the encouraging of consumption it would bring with it. As far as net energy, well, that is another topic altogether.

Why stop then?

Perhaps a lack of data.

The EIA has an annual dataset on Cost per foot of crude oil wells drilled:

Adjusting for inflation won't change this graph much and it tells a pretty simple story -- oil is getting more expensive to produce.

It's not like the EIA is trying to hide this information. It's three clicks away for anyone who is the least bit curious.

Best Hopes for Curiosity!


Pretty much spot on for Limits to Growth resource-cost-goes-exponential type curve. The energy curves compound with each other. As oil gets expensive, coal and nat gas recovery and transport gets more expensive. And nat gas and coal rise in cost - steel goes up and thus oil recovery gets more expensive, etc.

From top of page:
"The Peak Oil Crisis"

And, yet, our leadership continually fails us by acting irrationally.
"It is a wonder, the irrefutable fact of Peak Oil, and not a word about the subject from the Republican clown act... The moon beckons!"

Remember my post from November 2010? In it, I compared drilling costs to current year revenue. This is the exhibit from then:

The comparison would look even worse if it were updated with recent information. Cash flow is terrible with these high drilling costs, especially for natural gas. Oil didn't look as bad then, but the numbers I used were did not include 2010 data.

Thank you for the reminder Gail. It was an excellent article. Amazing a year has gone past. And as predicted, the flight out of shale seems to be underway. Of course some are just rushing in. Lol.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds this year:

1. Possible high oil prices causing a drop in economy which push nat gas down further.
2. Possible big drop in production as drilling cuts way back.
3. Possible big rise in drilling as investors think a gas price spike is coming and rush in with hedges, joint ventures etc. Lots of oil money out there looking for a place to go.

Of course, a lot of the drilling 'cost' is not actually cost, but rents for service/equipment/material providers due to the tremendous demand for their products (so much drilling happening), due to the high market price of oil.

In economics they call this the point of diminishing returns. Many more rigs, but not much more oil.

But since oil is now $100/barrel instead of $20/barrel, you can now afford to get less oil per well.

This is a critical fact that a lot of the cheer-leaders of frac oil (like Peter Orszag now) are not appreciating . . . the increase in domestic oil is only being made possible by the higher oil price. Oil prices are not going to be be driven down by North Dakota oil because if prices do go down, that drilling will stop since it will no longer be profitable.

US total petroleum liquids production (BP) increased by about 0.3 mbpd from (pre-hurricane rate) 2004 to 2010, while annual Brent crude oil prices doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011. As you pointed out, most industry types and MSM cheerleaders want us to focus on slowly increasing US production.

But from the point of view of consumers, what is more important, the slow rate of increase in US production, or the doubling in annual crude oil prices--as we have seen an ongoing post-2005 decline in Global Net Exports and in Available Net Exports?

The WSJ has an article in today's paper about how well oil producing areas are doing versus non-oil producing areas, in terms of changes in median income. Of course, the same thing (I assume) is true of farming versus non-farming areas. However, this has led me to just hope that the angry consumers don't torture the food and energy producers, before they shoot us.

I don't have the heart to tell all those nice folks that are shocked that Japan's population is going down 30% by 2060 that the world's population will be down 50% in only 75 years.

Since the fossil fuel era should wind down in about 150 years or so of frantic extraction and burning of anything we can get our hands on, Earth can only support less than about 1 billion people without that wonderful, pre-cooked fuel.

How do other posters here at TOD think the population numbers will work out?

World Population with Declining Energy, 1965 to 2100


Seems reasonable enough. I think this was the first paper I read (@2007) that credited/discussed westexas' ELM model. I would push population decline back somewhat (barring some black swan event), as I think some societies will muddle through a bit longer than many expect. The overall effect will be even greater overshoot and a steeper eventual decline.

Ghung, thanks for the link. I had not seen this one before. I think they got most things pretty close except I think they were a little too pessimistic, especially their prediction for global oil exports. I don't expect exports to be anywhere near zero by 2013 as their chart shows. Curve fitting is usually a very poor predictor of future trends. Of course they will go to zero but not in this decade, in my opinion anyway.

Unfortunately I think their population chart, which you posted, is likely the most accurate chart they show.

Ron P.

Ron,Richard Duncan gives sometime around 2030-35 as D-Day.His premise is that by this time we will run thru all energy sources leading to not only the end of oil but major is electricity.Your take on this since I consider you a specialist in overshoot.

Reg Morrison published The Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature in 1999. The book is slightly misnamed because it is really about overshoot. Anyway he has a chart in the book where he shows the collapse starting about 2035. And that was before he was even aware of peak oil.

In other words he saw collapse coming because of overpopulation and all the destruction we are doing to the planet. I think we are seeing the beginning of that now and 2035 is a very good guess.

That being said, I disagree with Duncan on electricity. I think the grid will be the very last thing to go. We have enough coal to keep the grid going long after everything else has gone to pot. The collapse of society will bring the grid down not a lack of coal. In other words the grid going down will not cause collapse it will be the other way around, collapse will eventually cause the grid to fail.

Ron P.

I think the grid will be the very last thing to go. We have enough coal to keep the grid going long after everything else has gone to pot. The collapse of society will bring the grid down not a lack of coal.

I agree, with the caveat that whether and how long the grid stays up may vary a lot on a regional basis. Certainly there are enormous incentives to keep the grid up. Cut petroleum supplies by 50% and prioritizing usage keeps most cities going; turn off the grid for 12 hours per day and most western cities are uninhabitable.

Coal resources are geographically rather concentrated, and the pattern doesn't match the distribution of people very well (eg, lots of coal in Siberia, few people and little infrastructure; same for Montana). Absent sufficient transportation capacity, coal keeps the grid powered up in areas where the grid overlaps with adequate coal resources.

Lots of people propose expansion and further interconnection of power grids. For example, expansion of the European grid(s) into the Sahara to capture solar power. For the US, you see proposals that require the Eastern Interconnect, including the massive (by population) BosWash urban corridor, to expand its capacity greatly in the Great Plains to bring in wind power, and extend to the desert Southwest to bring in solar, with lots of long-haul HVDC. In a downward spiral, it seems more likely to me that grids will shrink and split; those long-haul HVDC links would be the first things to fail.

turn off the grid for 12 hours per day and most western cities are uninhabitable

I would say that applies more to Southern and Eastern cities where the vast majority of US population resides. The whole Los Angeles region is actually rather temperate, but lacks water and arable land. Certainly, the desert Southwest has problems as does California's central valley, but Seattle, Portland, and the San Francisco Bay Area will not fry for lack of AC.

I wasn't thinking about "uninhabitable" in terms of AC, but at a more fundamental level. Imagine that for half of each day, at random (and many apply even if outages are scheduled): elevators and subways stop; lights, including traffic signals, go out; refrigerators stop working, at home, at restaurants, in hospitals; in most households, no cooking; everything with an embedded microprocessor in it, from cash registers to TVs, stops; water treatment plants, both to produce drinking water and to do sewage removal, stop; tools in factories stop working; furnaces refuse to run because the fan won't work.

Imagine trying to live in Manhattan if, for a random 12 hours per day, there's no electricity. On a given day, count how many of the things you touch or use don't work -- either for direct or indirect reasons -- if the power's off.

We have experiments going on in a lot of places, Pakistan, Iraq, maybe parts of India, where this phenomena does go on. Life does go on in these places. People cope as best they can. People find various coping strategies. Since the 2001 Califonia problems, my boss has an uninterruptable power supply system (I wonder if this is still worth it, power failures are actually pretty rare). In those countries with endemic power reliability issues, backup generators are common (of course if the liquid fuel supply isn't there???).

I was in India about 15 years ago. The railways had just intorduced computerised ticketing. I was in a town, went to buy a ticket. 3 hour queue, only 2 hours of electricity. Same the nedt day. I gave up and went by bus.

No worries, Bernanke will just keep rates at zero forever, print digital money forever, and we'll all be blessed with infinite oil, coal, and gas, like manna from heaven.

Go America! We're number 1!

Enemy's right. Many countries put up with that kind of thing regularly, and have for decades. It's only disruptive if it's unexpected.

I'm sure its still a drag on economic effectiveness.

Still, if you could imagine growing up in the 1880's, and then being offered "modern" electricly powered life with only 12 irregular hours of electricity per day, it would seem wondrous indeed.

It is, but I think it's likely to be the least of our problems when it comes to the economy.

And exactly none of them fall into the category of "developed" economies. At best they're "developing". In some cases they've achieved that only because of wide-spread deployment of independent private generating facilities. For example, India's big software and call center facilities selling outsourced services to the US and Europe all have private generating capacity -- there's nowhere in the country where the public grid is reliable enough to meet US/Europe standards for having the call center available. At least one of those firms has openly described their internal operations as "our first priority is obtaining diesel and generating power; our second priority is writing software."

Pakistan's economy is suffering a lot because they don't have the same level of private generation, and all sorts of businesses are having serious problems with simply having workers and electricity at the shop at the same time. I think Westexas' ELM 2.0 model suggests that India may be looking at similar difficulties in the future, if diesel becomes less available or much more expensive.

China is the poster child for countries attempting to build a modern economy; and much of their success can be attributed to their decisions about electricity supplies: reliable power is a high priority and enormous public moneys are going into power stations and grid construction.

If a region is going to maintain a relatively high-tech society (which is not the same as BAU), they're going to do so on the back of a reliable power grid.

The question wasn't about the type of economy, though. The question was whether cities would be "uninhabitable."

Yair...as I have mentioned before sh..te happens. If the power goes out for any length of time the sewerage will back up and cities will become uninhabitable. Imagine a high rise with all the toilets clogged.

My cheery thought for the day.

There's always Edgars and windows - 'chunder.


Yes, it included the type of economy. My original statement was that western cities -- in the sense of OECD developed -- with 100 years of design around robust cheap electricity supplies, have become uninhabitable w/o that electricity. Cities in Pakistan and Nigeria may prove that it is possible to have a city with a million inhabitants w/o reliable electricity; it's not a demonstration that Boston or Chicago or Houston could support anything near their current populations if the electricity supply suddenly and permanently shifted to an erratic 12 hours per day.

In next five years, all major hydro resource in China will be developed. In short term, our power backbone should be: coal+hydro+Ultra High votage power transmission+electrical HSR/heavy duty. In the future, it will be: Nuke (we are planning 100 and building our fuel cyclye)+hydro+bit of renewable +ultra high voltage +electrical HSR/heave duty supplemented by EV.

You can live with it. But you cant live the micrwave lifestyle with it. Just imagine the level of lifestyle adjuestments needed. Gonna be a fun watch.

Interesting the people with conservative lifestyleswill have the least adjustments to do. Go Amish!

I've lived with it. Long, unexpected outages are a pain. But long scheduled ones and short unexpected ones are not that disruptive.

Critical infrastructure like hospitals and sewer plants get backup generators (they often have them anyway, even in countries where electricity is reliable). People who are used to the power going out don't freak out if they can't microwave lunch. They use their gas stoves or hibachis to cook, or eat something that doesn't require cooking. Everyone has flashlights, batteries, candles and matches around, and they know where they are because they use them often. The cops know where the difficult intersections are, and send people out to direct traffic if the traffic signals are out.

It's really not all that exciting once you get used to it, and you get used to it fast.

Right. But the microwave lifestyle will be gone. It relies on reliable 24/7 power. I never said life would be gone, only that that lifestyle would.

Depends on what you mean by the microwave lifestyle.

We had a microwave and used it regularly, even when the power was unreliable. Indeed, that was a benefit. It cooked quickly and used less power than an electric stove.

Perhaps better wording would be "The central air-conditioning lifestyle will be gone"... or some other big, constant load.

I lived in high heat with solar panels. I made a 30 Watt evaporative cooler that ran on one panel. It was adequate, quite nice. I bought a 300 Watt commercial evaporative (swamp) cooler, about 1 cubic yard/meter in size, and ran it on a small generator. It was totally deluxe. But this was in dry heat and with access to water.

Such living is really a lot more real, fun, and independent. It takes more care and work. It becomes harder as ability declines.

my first 3 years on this planet is spent in a city with 4 hours of water supply each day. And people cooped by having all kinds of container to save water for further use. And factory workers, teachers who can not go home to fill up their containers due to workshift requirements formed peer groups to help each other get enough water.

I guess even more fundamentally, I wasn't using "western" in the sense of the western US. I was thinking in terms of any city in the US, Europe, Japan, etc.

I agree with your modified position. However, I see great reductions in electrical usage prior to the sorts of systemic failure you predict that's a component of a concerted drive to decomplexify.

Yes. Once people get it through their heads that the options are voluntary reduced usage, or imposed rolling blackouts of significant length, demand will fall dramatically. Before the early-2001 power debacle in California, the state already had the lowest per-capita electricity consumption of the 50 states (EIA figures for consumption, Census figures for population; several factors, including mild climate and the nature of the economy, contribute to that). Despite that, voluntary actions implemented on short notice resulted in 8-14% reductions in peak loads that summer. Lots of room for improvement in the US.

Off on a tangent, despite supposedly being the poster child for the ills of suburban sprawl, exurbia, and car-oriented development, California comes in at the 11th-lowest per capita VMT among the 50 states (USDOT numbers). Of the 11 sprawling states from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast, eight make the top half of that list. Vermont comes in at about 3,500 more per-capita VMT per year than California. Don't know where Vermonters go, but they go there a lot.

Disclosure: I was last a California resident from 1996-2003; and although it's my native state (born at Presidio), I'll never return to live there. For your tangent remark, I'm proof as I drive more here in rural coastal Oregon than I did in San Jose, where I always took the bus to work. But then, I'm retired and have the time to do more driving, too.

My parents live / lived in Orange County, Cali for 40 years (mother still alive at 81). They had jobs near home, rarely took long driving trips, and kept their vehicles for extraordinary amounts of time at low mileages. My mom's 99 Toyota has only 60,000 miles - she didn't retire until 78 and still drives daily - a social gadfly.

At the same time, I lived in rural AZ and gathered slightly above- average annual mileage on my vehicles even though I sometimes made 40-50 mile round-trips to work during some periods. By contrast, my 1998 Nissan Frontier now has 250k miles (and going strong).

I do think that rural people drive longer distances out of necessity unless they're farming, ranching, or telecommuting. My 20,000 miles a year was modest compared to many of my rural friends and neighbors who racked up 40,000 or more miles annually - I planned my work/shopping carefully, plus made three or four round trips a year into S. Cali and at least one every four to six weeks around AZ to sightsee or visit relatives. I've traveled by air just a half dozen times in my life.

The two of you are making a pretty good case for suburbia being the solution to peak oil and resource depletion. Less driving, more mass transit, stop buying cars, take those out of the equation and they'll be arguing about what to do with all the leftover oil a century from now.

Certainly, the desert Southwest has problems as does California's central valley, but Seattle, Portland, and the San Francisco Bay Area will not fry for lack of AC.

Even much of the interior West can get by due to elevation. My home outside Denver is in a 20-year-old infill development. None of the houses were built with AC. Some owners installed it, some put in evaporative coolers, some whole-house fans, some nothing. At altitude with low humidity, when the sun goes down the temperature drops rapidly. Even during July-August, our whole-house fan can typically bring the temperature down to 64-68 °F running overnight. We button up the next morning, and the interior temp climbs slowly. The house is usually in the 74-78 °F range when it matches the falling evening temp outside and we open up and turn the fan back on. If we had more thermal mass, we could probably reduce the swings. Based on conversations, people with no fan and no AC have the same effect, but at a few degrees higher both night and day.

Further disclosure: I lived in Castle Rock from 1988-89, and Denver then Castle Rock 1991-1993. The old "project" highrise apts I lived in off Federal had no AC, while the apts in Castle Rock did. Never used it though. But then I also lived in Hawaii and seldom used the AC there either.

"I think the grid will be the very last thing to go."

Sounds like a good reason for the electric car.

Ron,I think Duncan could be right.We need anthracite for the thermal power plants.This is already running short.By what I am seeing Australia and South Africa seem to be the only countries having this to export.Indonesia just cancelled its contract with India on grounds that the resources were needed by them .Yes there is a lot of coal but it is all coal dust that cannot be used for power plants.I think the energy collapse/infrastructure collapse and the economic collapse are going to reinforce each other leading to a societal and population collapse around the time that Duncan envisages.After all we need diesel to do the mining and transportation by rail or road to the power plants.Reminds of the situation in South Africa just before the World Cup when electricity shortages were rampant and the reason was that the roads to the power plants were full of potholes and the trucks were breaking axles and the transport contractors refused to carry the coal from the mines to the plants.Your take on this.

The U.S. is pretty much out of anthracite already; all we have left is poorer-quality bituminous or brown coal, such as from the Powder River basin in Wyoming. Richard Heinberg has predicted that our coal production will start to peak in the next decade or so -- but that in terms of energy content, it peaked in the 1990s. See http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-07-15/end-cheap-coal

PRB is sub-bituminous. Bituminous and brown are not synonyms.

See the following on coal ranks.

Burning anthracite for thermal coal is like using redwood for firewood.

I amalso pondering 2035 as the territory of where things start going down. The water situation, combined with oil, and possibly phosphor, all hit the wall around there. It will be interesting times. And I will be 56 year old.

My own feeling is a downslope from 2020 to 2050 where problems building up so you are in the middle of that. 2050+ it's 'hang on tight, it's a long way down'.


And I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice that pretty much everything is coming to a head between about 2005 and about 2035. One Generation. The Generation after that are not going to be happy with us.

I'd have pushed that out 10-15 years but I think it is only a difference in opinion on just how quick the water is entering the Titanic.


The coal yard of a coal-fired utility requires diesel machinery to push the coal into gravity feeders which in turn feed conveyor systems. The yard is constantly sculpted to keep the coal flowing. Also, coal is currently transported using petroleum via truck, train, and barge. A small portion is transported via slurry pipelines. Coal's current usage is completely dependent on oil. My guess is that electricity from coal will face major difficulties on the downslope of peak oil.

Converting coal to engine-ready liquid fuel takes heat and some water. Energy Return On Energy Invested has little meaning in this case because, in the scenario, there is plenty of coal.

Not to mention that inavailability of ANY diesel at ANY price is a pretty remote possibility in the context of a power company.

Over the last three years, birth rates have dropped from about 20/1000/yr to about 19/1000/yr.


Meanwhile, deathrates have stalled at above 8/1000/year, and for demographic reasons alone are not predicted to go much lower and to rise gradually over the coming decades.

If these rates and trends continue, we should be at zero population growth in 20-30 years and then start declining by essentially 'natural' means.

But these figures do not factor in energy constraints and GW, both of which are now with us and will be ever more prominent features.

A crash program to reduce birth rates could, I think, move us to your path for peak population within ten years, but I fear it will come about through more benign means.

For one thing, most of the highest rates of population growth are in poor Islamic countries which would not take kindly to Westerners (or anyone else) coming in and telling them there shouldn't be as many of their kind in the world. And because these are very young populations, even a (impossible) "no new births" policy for a decade" would not bring populations down very far or very fast.

These are also the areas facing ELM crisis--they have hit peak oil nationally and are using up domestically all they now produce, so there is no more cash from export to support the swollen populations. Fast crash through starvation or mass emigration (or immigration of vast amounts of food, essentially forever) seem to be the only options at this point. The former is now going on in East Africa (though as much for political reasons as for reasons of PO/GW.)

I am wondering when the mass migrations will start.

Toward the end of the second millennium BC, mass migrations of 'sea peoples' (though it is now thought that most traveled by land) brought about the destruction of the three great empires that had dominated eastern Eurasia and North Africa for hundreds of years: Egyption, Babylonian, and Hittite. As we head into the third m AD, I think we are about to see migrations that will make those look like a kindergartener's tea party.

Lots of the world is in a net pop-decline based on births/deaths alone, but are in a total net growth due to imigration. These imigrants come from low consumption countries and move into high consumption countries. This trend is "sustainable" since they also come from the countries who have a fertility based growth. Nations in Europe with de-pop is those who is either not alowing much imigration (Finland) or is unpoular to move into.

I predict de-pop for natural reasons only in a handfull of nations (Japan, Russia among them) during my lifespan as long as this continue.

My one complaint with global numbers and curves is that the decline is likely not going to be uniform. Relative to its population, Scandinavia has large renewable energy resources, NG as a transition fuel, existing infrastructure, self-sufficient in food calories, and a recent history of internal cooperation across borders. Central Africa, by comparison, lacks existing infrastructure, is a very large importer of calories, and seems to be filled with groups that despise each other. Assuming a population crash (and from >7B to <2B in 75 years is indeed a crash), it is likely to hit one of those regions much harder than the other.

Even (physically) big individual countries will not, I think, be immune from patterns that affect different regions differently. The US has a decades-long accelerating trend of depopulation in the Great Plains area; Stuart Staniford has recently posted a whole series of academic papers on future drought conditions that suggest the Great Plains will get significantly worse; how the US East and West (separated by an increasingly empty strip 500 miles wide) have to deal with problems are likely to be very different, based on water, population patterns, energy demand, availability of renewable energy, etc.

All we can say is:
1. Human species is way over carrying capacity and the vast majority are living off non-renewable fossil resources.
2. We couldn't control population on the way up and we won't be able to control it on the way down either.
3. In biology species that go into extreme overshoot typically degrade their carrying capacity so that the population crashes way below what could be supported before the explosion took place. They may even go extinct. Humans do not constitute a special case in that respect.

Yes. After thinking this through a lot I have set 500 millions as a target population once al things crashy has gone past. But then I do not include runaway climate change. That can make it even harder to survive.

Nicely put.

People seem to overlook the fact the humans are only one species.

Species are now going extinct at something over 200/day--about one every five minutes.

(This is thousands to tens of thousands of times higher than the background rate of extinction.)

People seem to overlook the fact the humans are only one species.

Species are now going extinct at something over 200/day--about one every five minutes.

I don't suppose you could name last weeks extinctions, could you? This 200/day number seems to be thrown about quite a bit, but it seems difficult to collect the list for even the last day or two, let alone the past year or two. You would think the bodies would be piling up somewhere and we could count them.

E.O. Wilson is one who is saying that we are now 1000-10,000 times above the background rate of 1/million/year. If you can find a higher-calibre biologist that has another figure, let me know.

Recall that the eco-systems with the highest levels of diversity, rain forests, are evaporating at a rate of many football fields and hour. If you have found where all the species that were in those forests went, let us all know.

Industrial agriculture is spreading rapidly. This dumps masses of poisons on the soil and turns if from a rich community of millions of species per tea spoon to a lifeless matrix for artificial fertilizers. If you can find what soils all these species have fled to, please do let everyone know right away.

How about a high calibre biologist who can just answer the question? Shouldn't there be a LIST somewhere? I am terribly afraid that without a proper accounting, what we are really talking about are different types of biota, separated only by species name and skin color, each geographically centered around a unique tree in a rainforest, and on the basis of their color being used as a pawn in some great anti-human activity game.

Statistical proof will not do! There must be toe-tags!

I'm afraid we're killing species faster than we are cataloging them. That makes any accounting rather difficult. Such a vacuum of data convolved with indirect causalities allows such motivated understatements.

"Only 48 people died in Chernobyl."

Well, since you brought it up, toe-tags representing some percentage would be nice.

There's got to be a list somewhere of less charismatic species that are at least suspected to be extinct. It's really not too much to ask that some concerned individual dig it up.

And the best guess for Chernobyl is several thousand, according to the WHO report that is only controversial because both sides hate it equally.

I'm not even sure the actual proof is statistical! If we subdivided the human species as hard as we do some others, we could claim that nearly every person who dies was a species going extinct, thereby driving up the extinction "statistics". Oh yes, that guy was tall, that female was short, that one had hair and teeth, that one only hair, this one had long legs, that one short...all unique...and every one an extinction. Hell, you can't do that to humans based on something as obvious as color, but a biologist can make a career out of it.

I did a bit of research into the methods of estimating extinction rates and came across this article:


It states that the standard method for estimating extinction rates is extrapolating from species-area curves.


I'm not very knowledgeable in the subject so if any experts or more knowledgeable people want to weigh in on that I'd like to know how accurate that article is. From reading it, I'm a lot more suspect of current estimates for extinction rates.

Truer words were never spoken.

Perhaps this organization can help - Center for Biological Diversity - http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/index.html

Some famous scientist had a remark regarding the numbers of species of different types, "The lord must have been very fond of beetles", as there are more types of bettles than of say large animals. Of course microscopic lifeforms far outnumber things like beetles. So an obscure type of soil bacteria goes extinct, most likely we never even identified it, and won't realize its missing. That doesn't mean it didn't go extinct, just that our ability to catalog life is far short of its true diversity.

In sweden we have 5000+ species of mushrooms, even morespecies of moss. 800+ species of ferogams, I guess 100-200 mammals, and one species of primates.

The more advanced the class, the fewer the species.

Also we have only a few big mountains, but trillions of grains of sand.

This is a "statistical law".

We wipe out entire eco systems before we map them out. I guess we ARE killing of massive amounts of species we never even heard of. I remember the case of a newly discovered frog that was never seen again. The first observation was also the last.

People seem to overlook the fact that humans are only one species.

They even more overlook the fact that humans weren't always one species. For details, see:

The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans

No longer credible is the notion that our species is the end product of a single lineage, improved over generations by natural selection. Rather, the fossil record shows, we are a species with widely varied precursors, and our family tree is characterized by many branchings and repeated extinctions.

It was a caveman whack caveman world back then, and we are the sole survivors of the process. It was survival of the fittest, and we apparently were the fittest.

This is thousands to tens of thousands of times higher than the background rate of extinction.

How do you know what the background rate of extinction is?

Scientists went looking for the "missing link" between ape and man, and they found 22 of them. How many more "missing links" are still missing? Apes, in particular don't leave fossils very often, living and dying in trees as they do, so we know very little about their evolutionary history.

Or, more to the point, in the last 500 million years, how many species evolved, went through a short and not very successful existence, and then went extinct again without anybody ever finding a fossil of them?

Link broken.
Here is an online preview:

Striking image on page 75: A rendering called "It's a brand new day for Lucy's child 3.4 million years ago".

Yikes! Talk about trying to scare people into buying into a belief system, do people really believe this, fashionably concealed under a veneer of studious seriousness about how much oil is going to be produced today or tomorrow?

Do you know what "The Onion" is?

No, people don't believe this, though if the species was sane by reasonable standards they would. Living wastefully today and sticking it to future generations is still the dominant worldview, so don't worry.

Did you know that monied interest can hire people to post on influential forums and blogs? Like this one.

Yeah, greenish and I are still waiting for the first check :-0

Yeah, those AGW interests are sure cheapskates, aren't they?

That's pretty good. One option mentioned, "poisoning the world's water supply with cadmium"... coal industry's on it!

They may even go extinct. Humans do not constitute a special case in that respect.

Humans are special in that they will kill each other over the resources.

If things go CBN - all of em could be killed.

Humans are special in that they will kill each other over the resources.

Not at all -- in fact, quite the opposite. Most animals will fight and kill to defend their territory/resources. We just take it to an extreme level, compared to other species. :)

Not true.
Territorial animals will mark their turf in various ways to warn others. If another animal wanders into their area they may fight, but it is not usual that they kill each other - the weaker animal generally cedes to the stronger without a kill, although they may sustain some injury at times, which might result in death.

Islands and cages change this. The earth is our island.

This is often true, but not always. It's incorrect to say humans are the only animals that kill each other over resources.

Ants. Say no more.

And then you have the animals who kill other animals because they ARE the resource.

Apart from the nuclear fallout, I would rather be Japanese than British at the moment.

Their culture and society is going to come through power down a lot better than my own.

The Japanese had the Edo period.

Brittan has books to learn about the Edo period. What doesn't help 'em is the northern latitude.

Don't you know that the most terrible challenge facing Europe and Japan (and maybe China too soon) isn't climate change, peak oil, or anything similar. Its their shrinking/stable population. What a nightmare they are facing. Meanwhile we here in Australia can avert this terrible problem by continuing to grow our population at 1.5%-2% indefinitely. We can pat ourselves on the back for that.

At least that what I read in the Murdoch-controlled mass media. And many politicians and business leaders feel the same way I think.

Yep - here in Australia we're hell-bent on growth, growth, growth ... even though at 22 million we are (according to every scientist worth listening to) about 100% over carrying capacity ... in this parched, fragile, thirsty, nutrient-poor continent - we are called "This Wide Brown Land" for a good reason.

But carry on - let's get to 50 million in the next 88 years - what a country we'll be by then!

I always thought Australia would be the country where the leaders would first of al recognice the need to end growth. Lack of resources and all. IT has always been a mystery to me they don't.

Australia has folklore similar to that of north america: we literally hacked a first-world country out of 'useless' bush. More people meant more of that 'useless' bush could be cut down. We screwed over the locals while doing so.

Then we ran out of bush to cut down, so we started tilling the land for crops and sheep. We decided the wetlands weren't worth much so we let pigs loose in them. Then some smart arse came up with synthetic fibres, so the wool and cotton industries fell on hard times, but thankfully, we discovered we were sitting on a large pile of coal, which we are now digging up as fast as we can (and as close to towns) so that we can hurry on with the next big discovery to push us further into prosperity. Coal-Seam gas seems to be the go for now. Anyone want a flare tower next door?

Population will decrease. A non technical reason follows

(San Onofre) was shut down once for rusting of the 'egg crates' of this same steam generator. Oh, the 'crates' are just fine on the levels that are seimically most sensitive...blah blah blah IT'S A 30 YEAR OLD RUST BUCKET and that was almost ten years ago.
Now, not only are the egg crates (aka like radiator copper accordions) rusting out more and more but the damn tubes are rusted through! Its curtains for this generator. A $100 million piece of hot junk. So, it's time once again to Petition NRC to shut it down pending analysis, not only of the structurals but now also of the steam tubes themselves!

The steam generator which has a tube leak was replaced completely about a year ago. This is probably a bathtub curve failure (on the downhill slope for new equipment). The steam generators are designed to operate with a significant percentage of tubes blocked and abandoned in place. The reason for the replacement was the expected increasing frequency of such events as this over the next 20 years.

"Inspectors find ‘unusual’ wear on new tubes carrying radioactive water at Calif. nuclear plant":

“The amount of wear that we are seeing on these tubes is unusual for a new steam generator,”...
“I’ve never heard of anything like that over so short a period of time,” Hopenfeld said.
“The safety implications could be very, very severe,”

I have moved my holdings in that stock to cash until they announce a root cause of the early wear.

I wouldn't take anything at Rense.com too seriously (take a look at the home page http://www.rense.com/). I track Fukushima nuclear news a bit . . . Rense is sort of a left-wing version of Alex Jones conspiracy theory nonsense. Kinda funny that both of them freak out over Fukushima. Fukushima is a serious situation but you are better of with rational sources such as Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds. He seems to be on the anti-nuke side but he does a good job of sticking to the facts.

Arnie plays to the limelight a bit much. It is very hard to find good information on Fukushima.

I'm assuming that the 30% population reduction for Japan by 2060 is based on fairly conventional demographic analysis of current population trends. But isn't the 50% reduction of world population in 75 years based on somewhat controversial predictions involving sudden, massive die-offs of billions of people as the result of various oil/resource deficit scenarios? I'm not saying that the 50% reduction will not happen, though I suspect that 75 years may be a bit early. Also, such a huge die-off will likely be concentrated in the poorest nations of the world, as they are gradually outbid for the remaining oil supplies, a process already beginning and likely to accelerate.

As we approach that 75 year mark (2087) it's guesswork, but I would expect that liquids-based transportation will be radically restricted in nearly all nations, with what's left being used largely in desperate support of the remaining power grid. Because it's so essential to everything else (including electric transport) I would expect that the electricity will keep going in most parts of the wealthiest nations, due to it being (belatedly) highly prioritized and maintained, even with all out support of military resources as necessary.

Even now, large scale electric power generation in the USA (with just a few exceptions) is almost completely independent of oil supplies. The supply of natural gas will eventually be strained but it is still expected to outlast oil by a wide margin. And the other foundations of the power grid in the USA (coal, nuclear, hydro) are not going away anytime soon.


Long time reader, first time poster here.

Just a practical question: is there a resource on the net that aggregates easily accessible stats and graphs on production and growth?


rv - Can you be a little more specific? Production as in oil production? If so what areas? Growth in what? As far as oil patch data I can probably provide a lot of links once I know exactly what you're looking for.

Hi Rockman - Thanks for your offer.

I'm having a hard time evaluating claims that I see in the media regarding figures related to oil or gas production, or growth in production, or the relative significance of new discoveries, etc. I suppose what I'm hoping for is a resource that could be referred to for fact checking purposes. I've always appreciated the stats and graphs presented here; I should have been bookmarking them. I'm a victim of the "there's a link for that!" mindset.

rv - You sound like some who knows how to bounce around Goggle. Of course you have to filter the crap from the valid. I'll be a bit presumptuous and guess "they" confuse you with terminology. Here's a couple of hints: don't let them get away with resource vs. reserve; technically recoverable reserves (how much oil will be produced if money wasn't a limiting factor) vs. economically recoverable reserves (what will actually get produced based on specific price assumptions); bbls of oil vs. bbls of oil equivalent (converting NG into oil volumes); And, as someone mentioned below, don't be impressed with anyone's reserve number...proven or otherwise. I could tell you about a field with over 4 million bbls of proven and commercially viable oil reserves. The wells in the field each produce between 1/2 to 1 bbl of oil per day. And will do so until the casing turns to rust. The field is producing a total of 95 bopd. yes...it will take over 100 years to produce the oil. Granted this is a unique and rare extreme but it's real life none the less. PO is about the maximum possible rate that oil is produced around the globe. How much oil that's produced at any one time may be related to PO or to demand.

And hang around TOD as much as possible and question/challenge folks here. They won't bite

Gripe/question - I can see why from the POV of keeping clean statistics we would want to separate "real" oil from oil manufactured from other feedstocks (gas, oil, tar, biomass), but from the POV of someone gassing up a car or burning oil in a furnace, isn't the issue more one of "how long will the other feedstocks last", "what will that fake oil cost", and "how much can fake oil production be scaled up"?

(So for example, there's no practical way to replace our current oil consumption with domestic-biomass-derived "oil"; there's not enough plants in the US to do it.)

I'm well aware of the prediction bait-and-switch of first declaring that we have 150 years of coal at current consumption rates, therefore we can convert coal to oil and we'll have oil for 150 years (as if this would have no effect on coal consumption rates).

It's a matter of costs and flow rates.

Conventional oil from land and shallow water plays is cheap and easy to extract.

Everything else is worse.

So from a systems analysis standpoint it matters a lot how much of the fuel mix comes from this cheap, free-flowing source.

It does. But the free flowing started disappearing in 1901 or so, requiring new technologies to make any headway to the deeper and unconventional pools, and cheap stopped in 1970 or thereabouts. Many posters on this board aren't old enough to have been born BEFORE cheap oil disappeared, and certainly I doubt any of us were kicking prior to the use of the rotary table in 1901 to make Spindletop possible. I think the current count for how many times we have been forced to look for more difficult oil stands at about 6 or 7 now?

I just can't see how the fact that some people in the past predicted peaks that were solved, at least for a time, with technology is relevant. That to me is a strawman argument. You seem to have no idea how we might solve the current problems that we can see ahead, but, according to your cornucopian vision, we will solve them. Tough to argue your point, because we have always found technical solutions, so, according to you, we will again.

Don't get me wrong, I seriously want you to be right, but I need more than just "hope" and a happy face.

I just can't see how the fact that some people in the past predicted peaks that were solved, at least for a time, with technology is relevant. That to me is a strawman argument.

Not at all. You see, any prediction of a future peak (assuming the ones claimed for 2005, 2006, or 2008 will go down as yet more bad calls) would have to encompass the idea of how any currently unknown or infantile technology might create yet another spike in oil production. Without correctly knowing or at least accurately guessing at this in advance, any derivative claim has the usual clocks chance of being right.

Substitution doesn't eliminate a production peak, it bypasses it.

Hubbert even acknowledged that his observations were subject to change, and made estimates of how much they would change given additional discoveries/technological enhancements of particular magnitudes.

He nailed the US peak, despite further discoveries that greatly increased the total production volume.

If you look at light, sweet crude, I believe he nailed the world peak (though I can't afford access to the data sets that would show that for a hobby).

Heavy, sour crude is a substitute. Syncrude is a substitute. Ethanol is getting on to substituting for those.

We're well past peak apples, looking suspiciously like we're at peak apples+oranges, and contemplating the possibility of being at peak fruit.

He nailed the US peak....within reason...in oil. All the rest of his predictions certainly didn't work out. He certainly didn't even come close in at the world level, the same time he "nailed" the US oil number he decided that the world could only make 12 BBO/year, his gas number for the US missed by hundreds of percent and decades. These aren't minor oopsies. . And heavy and sour crude, reworked in a similar manner as regular oil, is called gasoline in multiple grades, and diesel. And JP2. When the average consumer is given a choice between gasoline from only light sweet crude, and gasoline derived from only sour and heavy oils, then the distinction matters in the accounting. Until then, it is a distinction without a difference.

I'm having a hard time evaluating claims that I see in the media regarding figures related to oil or gas production, or growth in production, or the relative significance of new discoveries, etc.

The Energy Export Databrowser is informative.

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. TOD is really impressive.

Part of that is due to the active moderation.
(claps for said staff)

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending January 27, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.2 million barrels per day during the week ending January 27, 89 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 81.8 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased slightly last week, averaging 8.5 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.5 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 8.9 million barrels per day last week, up by 27 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 9.0 million barrels per day, 97 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 192 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 4.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 338.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.0 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 8.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged just under 18.2 million barrels per day, down by 4.3 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.1 million barrels per day, down by 7.3 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 1.7 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 4.1 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Total Product Supplied: 17,653 (lowest since May 1999)

Does product supplied include US exports of finished products?


No. It is the EIA name for something very close to "consumed in the US".

That's a remarkable decline in consumption, given US population has increased 32 million or 11% since 1999. At the same time US GDP increased $5T or 55% (nominal, not real).

The GDP increase is very much debt related, which is now around 107% of GDP.

Last week:

Today we note that it is not only the Fed, but the US Treasury, and specifically the ravenous Mr. Geithner, who just got a green light to issue another $1.2 trillion in debt, and bring total debt to $16.4 trillion, which would still be 107% of today's GDP (which we don't see growing much if at all over the next year)...

16.4 trillion, and considering real GDP, it gets even worse, but we'll muddle through ;-/ I've stopped looking for a bright side to this....

Since 2009 maybe. But since 1999? Don't think so.

Huh...and if you consider total debt...

As you can see from the chart below, the total of all debt (government, business and consumer) is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 360 percent of GDP. Never before has the United States faced a debt bubble of this magnitude….


...it gets even uglier. Just because it wasn't until 2009 that your government began socializing an s'load of the massive private debt doesn't mean it wasn't a percentage of GDP; robbing Peter and all that. The illusion of GDP is like the illusion of wealth; big nice house, two nice new cars, kids in a private schools, golf vacations... can't even pay the interest at some point.

Note: This is only through Q3 - 2009. We're off the chart at this point.

GDP is still G + C + I + (X-M), government spending plus consumption plus investment plus net exports. Debt only artificially inflates GDP when it's done by kicking net money in from outside that closed system. Some of that has happened recently with money printed/shipped in on a trade deficit with China, but not so much 5-10 years ago. The money lent until recently still far and away came from inside the US. If you and I are in the same country, and I borrow money from you to consume (even foolishly) a service rendered here* then the consumption is still real, as real as the money you earn in interest from me.

What one can say about an economy running this way, heavily on debt, is if the debt incurred does not improve productivity, is not that it wasn't real, but that it can not continue in that manner for long.

*If bought over seas on a trade deficit then yes the negative (X-M) cancels out the consumption.

The first article posted is another on of the cornucopian pieces designed to con us into believing that all is well, and there is no peak.

The reason we know we have reached the peak in oil production:

We read many articles that claim “there is plenty of oil,” “recoverable reserves have increased,” and the like. Each of them is true, in part. And yet, we can still say that we have passed into the peak and are on what is known as the ‘undulating plateau,’ much as has been predicted.

The simple fact is that early oil, cheap oil if you will, had a very high EROEI (Energy Recovered on Energy Invested). The only real measure that matters for EROEI is the dollar value of the energy.

For example: If you drill an oil well to 2000 feet and get 10,000 barrels per day, it might only cost $1.00 in energy to produce each barrel. The $1.00 is used to pay for the energy in the steel required for the drilling rig and pipe, the power to actually run the drill, and the power to pump the oil out of the well. If oil is selling for $140 per barrel, then the EROI is 140. This is the type of return that you used to find drilling large reserves in the Middle East. If you have to drill off-shore in deep water, it might cost $20 in energy per barrel so the EROI is 7. Traditional oil development is estimated today to have an EROI of about 15.


Increasing prices make available a variety of low EROEI oils, including both shale oil and oil bearing shales (they are different). Shale oil is actually a kerogen that requires further processing, and is quite low EROEI while oil bearing shales such as Bakken, and Eagle Ford formations, are shales that contain crude oil, and a somewhat higher EROEI than shale oil, and require less energy input in extraction and processing. Oil sands rank with oil bearing shales in EROEI, and have a somewhat higher environmental cost in extraction.

Wiki has a quite nice article covering this topic at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_shale. I would encourage our resident experts to review that item for accuracy, make any needed changes or additions, and verify to TOD.

Economists are really caught up in the “Law of Supply and Demand.” Roughly speaking, it states that an increase in demand will create an increase in price. That increase in price will reduce demand and so forth until the two sides are in balance. Where they go wrong with oil, or with any finite resource, is that their supply is limited in quantity. They are thrown off by observation of increases in price resulting in increase of ‘supply’ over time, while their optimistic forecasts lack any predictive value. In a word, if they are correct and supplies are ‘created’ by demand, then oil price should be somewhere around $35 a barrel, ala Daniel Yergin. That oil prices are not in the $30 to $40/Bbl range is certainly strong evidence that the Law is flawed when applied to finite resources.

What has happened instead is that, as reserves of ‘easy’ conventional oil have depleted, it has been necessary to turn to ever higher cost measures in order to produce the volumes needed to replace conventional wells that were, in a real sense, running out of oil. These higher priced methods take longer from survey to production than conventional wells, and it becomes more and more difficult to replace the cheap oil. This causes a reduction of supply, with a concomitant increase in price. The price increase reduces demand, and so the level of production has plateaued as each replacement costs more and more.

Peak oil, which is not the same as running out of oil, simply says that there comes a time when oil production is as high as it can go. The limits may be economic, or they may be geological. In fact, they are likely a product of both. And, there comes a time when oil is no longer economical as a fuel. Not because there is no more, but because it costs so much that continuing the oil paradigm (or the NG, coal or nuclear paradigms for that matter) is impossible, and the cost of renewable energy will be less than limited resource energies.

Until such time as the lines ‘cross’ in a graph of costs for oil/gas/nuclear and renewables, oil will plateau. Until then the cheapest energy available will be used. And, when renewables have the highest EROEI,, the ‘back side’ of the Hubbard’s Curve will become self evident, with whatever unpleasant consequences that might bring. Oil and gas will still be produced, in much reduced volume, for their value in producing plastics, pharmaceuticals for use as lubricants and in producing fertilizer. We will still have oil and NG based products, but will no longer be able to justify burning oil to propel our various vehicles.

Whether our society can survive the end of the oil age, and whether our planet will support more than 7 Billion individuals is debatable. Injecting those highly charged factors into the argument about peak oil/peak gas disturbs people, and takes their eyes off the ball. The question of sustainability and the questions about climate change are different sides of the fossil fuel debate, and should be conducted separately.

Peak oil is not a moment in time, but rather it is a period of time that will run its course. It will bring changes, and knowing what is coming helps to prepare. Although we cannot know precisely what the future will bring, we do know in a general way, and must make our preparations accordingly.


You probably ought to read the entire article.

Actually I need to proof read better... sometimes at work I type and post.

Meant to say "on cornucopian" and could have said it better.

Thanks for pointing it out though.

BTW, I have been watching the coordination between stock market levels and oil prices, wondering which is following which. Any thoughts about that? Sort of in the same bailiwick, I think. I am trying to get a handle on how close we might be to that economic moment when oil becomes irrational.


It seemed pretty much spot on to me....

These two facts mean that humankind will have to invest staggering resources – many trillions of dollars – to find and produce new oil if global output is to grow steadily for decades into the future. The International Energy Agency in Paris and other analysts have been warning for years that current investment isn’t nearly enough to ensure such a supply. The result is likely to be a critical supply crunch, perhaps within this decade, which could cripple global economic growth.

...assuming you're referring to the Homer-Dixon article. The only part I might question is: ..a critical supply crunch, perhaps within this decade... I would add if we're lucky. I doubt we can hold out for another few years without either shortages or massive demand destruction. Either way....

Economic growth will be crippled at some point. Inevitable and necessary.

Ultimately, yes. We can do a planned approach, and throttle back (the easy way) or allow nature to do it and crash (the hard way).


That's just the "teaser", read the article. It's saying the opposite.

Yes. Come on, it's Thomas Homer-Dixon. Author of The Upside of Down. He's no cornucopian.

See comment above. Homer-Dixon does a good statement; he adds the inevitible comments about disaster ahead. My point is as much that we need to make the peak argument without all of the drama; yes, I know that there will be important economic and societal changes. When that becomes part of the 'spiel,' people turn off. What needs to happen is an unemotional discussion of facts. It was not until I read many peak oil related books, peer reviewed articles, and posts on TOD, EB, Rigzone, etc., and understood what peak oil really meant, that I was able to relate it to economics and demographics.

We need to get people thinking... and that means keeping their attention. Once they "get" peak oil, they can figure out for themselves what is going to happen.



Homer-Dixon does not say anything about disasters ahead.

He says oil is expensive, and that could be bad for the economy.

Okay, L. He only mentioned economic disaster... just one. Maybe I was just smarting from being 'told off' about the message on TOD by someone I sent here and keyed on the wrong article. Sorry.


"yes, I know that there will be important economic and societal changes. When that becomes part of the 'spiel,' people turn off."

What are you saying here? Don't tell people the truth? "Peak Oil is coming/has occurred, but no worries"?

The fact that there will be important economic and societal changes seems to me to be the _entire point_ of the 'spiel'. Some of these changes can be at least somewhat mitigated and managed, or, if the signals are disregarded, will be handed to us in less pleasant fashion.

I think that people become overwhelmed. They need to take it one step at a time. Get the facts - peak oil is here. Then they can consider the consequences. I have had more than one friend and more than one family member tell me that they were turned off by what my son-in-law called, "that end of the world crap."

Just saying.


Don't worry. We will be in extreme denial mode for the indefinite future.

I have observed something, although I don't have the experience that veterans on this forum have.
People who get PO and AGW are the ones who have an engineering mindset, they need not have engineering degrees. Just the ability to think like engineers and scientists.
A hatred for humanity and love for natural world also helps :-)

I would say that the people who are going to understand peak oil and systemic collapse are artists, of all stripes, and scientists, of all stripes.

The reason is that both art and science are representations of reality. So, ultimately, they are reality based.

Take the Occupy Wall Street people. I would guess that many are "art" people. But they sort of understand that things are screwed up.

Political people might wake up eventually, if only because they are, at some level, responsible for their societies.

The people that are going to be the very, very last to understand any of this are businesspeople, finance, and economists. The reason is that, since they have been corrupted by fake fiat money, they are no longer grounded in reality.

A businessperson who believes he can make a 100 million dollar business into a 1 billion dollar business is not grounded in reality. An economist who believes we just need to go into more debt is not grounded in reality.

the very, very last to understand any of this [PO, AGW] are businesspeople, finance, and economists

Just because they behave in a certain way doesn't mean they do not "understand".

Here is how a "business"-minded person might rationally think:

I am 50 years old.
The way things are going, I'm going to live say, about 30 more years.
After I die, I won't give a rat's asset about what happens to other people.
Looking out for number one is the prime directive. Right?
So even if PO is now and AGW is increasing temps by +2 degrees C, there are still going to be people who, in the next 30 years are going to be the "haves" (the 1%) and others who will be the "have nots" (the 99%).
My job as a "business"-minded person who "gets it" is to have a "business plan" which assures that in the next 30 years I remain as one of the "haves" (the 1%) and which assures that the people for whom I don't really care too much, stay as, or become the "have nots" (the 99%).
KISS means keep it simple. That's what I'm doing. Don't like it? Sue me. (Preferably after I die.) [/sarcasm]

Stated otherwise and as noted by the hiker tying up his sneakers, "I don't have to out run the bear. I merely have to out run you".

A hatred for humanity and love for natural world also helps :-)

I think love of the world is sufficient, no hatred necessary.

And I think an engineering mind isn't sufficient; it's more a grasp of interacting systems and probabilities as they actually occur. Engineering can be a good primer for this, but then some engineer types seem to be prone to excessively reductionist system blindness and extrapolation based on it, like the moon-miners, Kurzweil followers, space power advocates, etc.

I think it is due to wilningness to accept. I was grown up in a church and had to sith through lots of biblestudies regarding the End of Time. (Summary: lots of disasters). This was very popular in the 80ies and early 90ies. Not as hot today, for some reason. So I was "programmed" with a willingness to accept stuff like PO and CC.

If I instead was grown up in a banking family and then sent away to a university to study economy, I would have been in heavy denial.

But then again I think personality has a share in this to. I for example am poor at lying to myself, so given any background, and a presentation of the real data, I don't think the wall of denialism would have stand for ever.

So I would say background AND personality on this.

I have had more than one friend and more than one family member tell me that they were turned off by what my son-in-law called, "that end of the world crap."

This idea of turning someone off with negative outcomes resulting from, in this case peak oil, speaks volumes for the age of oil. A period of time in which there is an illusion of a soft, luxurious life moving ever forward. But once things really turn sour, a memory of some conversation in which a negative outcome was discussed will seem laughable in comparison to what will be a breakdown of society into chaos at times and in different locations.

People are pretty smart in a lizard brain kind of way. If you broach the topic of peak oil they will immediately know the negative implications of that scenario. Trying to ignore or forget that part of it won't work.

There is still a difference between,

"We've just hit an iceberg, get everyone up and working to make the best of whatever chances we have left!"


"We've just hit an iceberg and most of you will be dead soon!"

even if there's some statistical proof or likelihood in the prediction, what's the point in playing it like that? I know that this is just the extreme version of the messages that are getting played out there, but I think it really takes some careful thought about how to ring that bell so it will be useful.

(I'm not saying this to accuse you or anyone of the way you've said your messages to people. I KNOW it's not easy to get it across.. I just think that there is so much anxiety on both sides of that conversation that it shouldn't be too surprising that it gets tripped up much of the time.. it's going to be an Art form slipping it in so it isn't just spit right back out.)

I would make the point that speaking of important economic and societal changes (OP's words) is not the same as OMG we're all going to die! There seems to be a lot of binary thinking around here.

Sure, and "speaking of important economic and societal changes" can be done in a broad number of ways.

I did point out that I was using examples at the poles of the issue, but that the real point is to understand how a listener is hearing what you are trying to say, which is the opposite of 'Binary thinking'..

But just as well, we actually do have a few voices here that are willing to come up with their 'Fantasy Body Counts' .. and isn't it clear that to folks who are coming into this interested in a productive discussion, this sort of output can quickly look like a bunch of "OMG, we're all going to die!" -- Such predictions are almost daily here, and they are not proven, they are not written in stone.. so to me they are self-indulgent and wild-eyed, and give the challengers, be they reasonable ones or trolls.. just the kind of 'Told ya so' moments they are so eager to get.

I do think we're going to see a precipitous pop. decline, probably tracking the oil curve.. but beyond that, I don't think trying to guess out the planet's resulting pop numbers or a 'sustainable pop level' for us is useful, or helps to get people thinking about how to deal with today and tomorrow.

A period of time in which there is an illusion of a soft, luxurious life moving ever forward. But once things really turn sour, a memory of some conversation in which a negative outcome was discussed will seem laughable in comparison to what will be a breakdown of society into chaos at times and in different locations.

Indeed. If you haven't watched "The Road", please do - the main character's wife doesn't "want to just survive" but chooses to walk off into the dark instead of remain with her family when she comes to the conclusion that her happy life tending her gardens and grocery shopping is over.

That's going to be the picture of society in the years to come - mass suicide cults (ala Guyana and Heaven's Gate) - family pacts - etc.

"I have seen the future, and it is murder ... " - Leonard Cohen

I went to high school with a kid who had escaped through the Cambodian killing fields.. he was a pure delight to be around, had seen some of the worst of humankind, and had the opportunity to reject it, and did.

There's more under heaven and stars, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.

One can only hope to follow in the footsteps of such an enlightened individual.

The fact that a book or a movie exists is not evidence that what is portrayed is of any accuracy. I didn't watch the movie version of The Road, because the book is one of the few I've read in recent years that was so bad I disposed of it. There may well be some who give up, but that does not mean it will be the norm nor make The Road a model of how to envision the future.

The movie's quite good, really. I don't mean to say that it's an accurate depiction of the future, but the way the woman becomes increasingly unable to deal with the way things have become is well performed - and in my opinion - is exactly how many millions will react to the loss of happier times.

It probably will besmirch my doomer credentials, but I didn't care for "The Road" either. I did think it was ripe for parody and thought about it, but then assumed that several hundred other writers were probably racing to get a parody in print already.

I did do a rough version while giving away an old 3-wheeled jogging stroller free on Craigslist - you can make the ad as long as you like and it's always fun to make "best of". But it was flagged and pulled, presumably as too apocalyptic for the "free" section. Everyone's a critic.

A quick google found this one by somebody...


Might be fun to re-cut one of those Bob Hope and Bing Crosby "The Road to.." travel-fiestas into a new 'Road Worrier' Musical.

Cuz I got nothin but time here.. but see, now I have to look into it. Rats!

The Road is basically just another dumb zombie story.

Yes, we need to tell the truth. People can take it. And soon they'll consume less, ready or not. Maybe we can pre-familiarize them with the changes in store.

But we need to take care in how we tell it. As Le Guin suggested, "The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling."

I really do not think they can take it. They just deny it. Humans are masters of denying unpleasant realities. Just look at death . . . we are all going to die eventually. But most people just adopt a convenient regional mythology that promises them an after-life. Never mind that there is not a shred of hard evidence for any such after-life, most people still believe it.

So if you tell them that industrialized society will collapse due to energy resource limitations, you really think they'll believe THAT? The local gas station has plenty of gas.

I think with most people, the best you can do is implant the peak oil story in their brain and they'll later come back to it when they start seeing the hard evidence for it.

By saying they could take it, I meant that telling the truth was unlikely to harm them.

And, as you suggested, telling the truth plants a seed, which might do them good, sometime later.

Humans have a variety of coping strategies for "domesticating" new information. Denial is one such psychological strategy (but cetainly not the only one). We've all used it. We all have seen it used by others. It sometimes upsets us when the denial is applied to our attempt at communicating the facts (e.g., like when I've mindlessly given a particularly heavy dose of "energy descent." But that denial is mainly a response to my incompetence as a peak oil communicator).

But if we say that "they" can't take the truth, that "they" just deny it, then, I think we're over-generalizing. We certainly don't apply those traits to ourselves here at TOD. But should we be quick to apply such traits to others as their dominant coping strategy? Wouldn't we then be claiming that we're different from normal people? Are we ready to arrogate to ourselves a special psychological makeup? That's a slippery slope.

If the truth is un-nerving (e.g., presented poorly, too fast, too abstract, too technical for non-experts to grasp quickly, if the facts are "wicked") then it's adaptive for humans to try to slow down the flow, offering at least a chance to get our minds around the facts (also giving that seed a chance to sprout). Denial can serve this function.

Denial, being ubiquitous, was probably selected for; it's likely an adaptive psychological tool. That may explain why it's found to be one of the stages of grieving. Used as a stage, it's adaptive. Used alone, it's maladaptive. Our failing might be in not teaching ourselves when and how to use it (and denying to see the possible usefulness of an evolved trait like denial, well...).

And the use of denial by the message recipient might be caused, foremost, by how the message provider chooses to frame the facts. Hence the insight Le Guin suggested (i.e., "The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling.") If we plant the seed well (maybe using a version of the Zargonic effect) then, maybe, slowly, we'll witness less and less denial.

Nice quote from my hometown girl Ursula, thanks! Although as a poor public speaker, it's ominous.

Ursula K.

What are you saying here? Don't tell people the truth? "Peak Oil is coming/has occurred, but no worries"?

My experience here in Curaçao: when I sent mail to a group of physicians and pharmacists or chess players from the club about Peakoil as explanation of the current situation only a few answer. I think the majority don't even want to think about it a minute or so. Most of them I could meet in the ostrich farm.

Naturally. But reality is reality.

Yes, you could have told them that everything was fine, that "they" will come up with a technological solution, and that everything will work out. That would have brought them in. But what's the point of that? That's exactly where we're at already.

To try and sell the concept of Peak Oil without pointing out the consequences is absurd - why bother? If people refuse to hear it, they refuse. You can't gentle them into it. Things are going to have to change. "Oh, Peak Oil is coming, but you don't need to trouble your little head about it". And then tomorrow you're going to tell them, "oh, by the way, I was kidding - everything is going to change".

"What needs to happen is an unemotional discussion of facts. It was not until I read many peak oil related books, peer reviewed articles, and posts on TOD, EB, Rigzone, etc., and understood what peak oil really meant, that I was able to relate it to economics and demographics.

We need to get people thinking... and that means keeping their attention. Once they "get" peak oil, they can figure out for themselves what is going to happen."

This sums up my feelings as well. I have read much here on TOD, but post little. It has taken some time to really understand the problem, and I think many people who would work it out and spread the message get turned of by the gloom and doom, end of the world routine. More factual information, along with ideas of how to successfully adapt to the coming changes would draw a better crowd to help in spreading the message, IMHO.

I see examples in my business all the time of people who are intelligent, but close their ears and shut off their brains when the message comes accross the "wrong" way.

Hello. I am just sharing an interesting read from the world of climate change / AGW.


Climate change policy: Oil's tipping point has passed

Stop wrangling over global warming and instead reduce fossil-fuel use for the sake of the global economy.

That’s the message from two scientists, one from the University of Washington and one from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who say in the current issue of the journal Nature (Jan. 26) that the economic pain of a flattening oil supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels.

“Given our fossil-fuel dependent economies, this is more urgent and has a shorter time frame than global climate change,” says James W. Murray, UW professor of oceanography, who wrote the Nature commentary with David King, director of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

The “tipping point” for oil supply appears to have occurred around 2005, says Murray, who compared world crude oil production with world prices going back to 1998. Before 2005, supply of regular crude oil was elastic and increased in response to price increases. Since then, production appears to have hit a wall at 75 million barrels per day in spite of price increases of 15 percent each year.

Peak resource and AGW communities have lots to share. Interesting read if you decide to click through.

Peak resource and AGW communities have lots to share.

Agreed - and more to the point, many will listen more to the economic argument than to TEOTWAWKI (even though the logical end might be the same). The push back comes from well funded "think tanks" sponsored by O&G majors. They get traction from people who just refuse to believe that mankind can impact the earth in any meaningful way. If we tell them that we need to get off oil to save their bank account, maybe they will listen. "Stop driving and start saving" is a lot easier to listen to than "Stop driving or die."


In agreement. Although somedays I'd be happy if people would just stop flooring the accelerator on the green light just to slam on the brakes at the next red.

You think they'd stop, but somehow it's been translated into a birthright/national economic priority to try and keep energy cheap enough for them to act like that if they want.

Getting the control of the car away from the monkey would be a great idea. Accelerate smoothly, reasonable velocity to target (like the next light), acknowledge posted constraints, turn off engine at stoplights, maintain spacing, meter vehicle traffic onto congestable roadways, fuel-conserving routing... machine-like driving, best done by machines. This would save a lot of fuel... and accidents.

There is vastly more computing power in your cell phone than in many famous aerospace flight-control systems. The automatic driving could be as simple and trolly-like as line-following. Add GPS? Even better.

I saw a great hatchet-job of these ideas in Scientific American magazine after it had declined. It read like an automotive industry funded propaganda piece.

Someone pointed out that in European car ads, the vehicle is below the point of view: it is a tool. In American ads, the POV is below the car, looking up: it is an idol.

I have a homemade car sticker that says "Don't be fuelish, Drive slower, Save money" with an image of a man holding the fuel nozzle to his head. With petrol now at €1.55 a litre here, people are taking notice.


Scientists are as welcome into this foray as much as journalists are at a "public hearing."

Today the GOP chair of a "science" sub-committee had a journalist who did "Gasland" arrested in the hearing room then led from "the people's House" in handcuffs.

The hearing concerned the subject matter this journalist's work covers.

Vali Nasr on U.S.-Iranian Relations

Foreign Affairs Focus On: U.S.-Iranian Relations with Vali Nasr

Managing Editor Jonathan Tepperman interviews author Vali Nasr about developments in Iran, its relationship with the diplomatic community, and what the United States should do to finally get Iran to the negotiation table. Current sanctions are designed to be more effective than in the past, but will instead be counterproductive, pushing Iran to be more aggressive in return. Dr. Nasr--professor of international politics at Tufts University and former senior advisor to the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan--argues that active diplomacy and policy adjustments are crucial for avoiding military conflict.

Request for help, but just to satisfy my own curiousity. I remember in the past someone posted a map showing the behavior of the North Atlantic current. This (lack of) winter in the Northeast US (and maybe elsewhere) has been really strange, where temps have been above 40 more than below 20 (or so it seems). Coupled with some reports of cold temps in Europe, it make me wonder what's going on with the THC. Who knows if we've permenantly entered some new circulation pattern, could just be a seasonal anomaly, but it would be interesting to see if the current is blocked somehow from bringing heat north and instead dumping it in the US.


Googling a bit, I came up with this.


I am dubious of the modelers confidence, here. Past performance, and all that.

Did they include huge pools of fresh water from the Arctic being swept over the current?

That is not something that could be predicted by looking at past data.

I have also been wondering if there is something more than varying NAO and the usual other factors going on with the extreme European winter this year, if you or anyone else finds anything relevant, please let us know.

There was an interesting discussion on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news last night. The Canadian weather experts were laughing and saying they were glad they didn't stick their necks out predicting a very cold winter like the American weather experts, because it has been a very warm winter until now. That being the case, they predict it will stay warm until spring.

The reason, they said, is that the polar jet stream is very strong and very far north this year. Most years it is in the northern US, but this year it is up in Canada's Northwest Territories and is blocking the cold Arctic air from getting south, so most of Canada and the US is unusually warm for winter.

I assume the reverse is happening on the other side of the world - probably the jet stream is much further south than usual, and allowing cold Siberian air to flood much farther south into Europe and Asia than usual. I don't know for sure because I haven't seen the jet stream maps for Europe and Asia.

As the weather experts pointed out on the CBC, there are a lot of different systems creating the weather, and they don't really know which ones will dominate at any given time. The AGW people should take note of that - global warming doesn't explain everything.

Actually, given that recently published reports (which had to be well underway before the current weather anomoly) found a lot of the GW heat in the oceans where they could impact sub-arctic high and low pressure systems that are what appears to be redirecting the jet stream, I'd say that GW *can* explain the current warm winter in NA and cold in Europe.

Whether that is what is actually happening is a calculation best left to the experts, but it is sufficiently plausible that dismissing it preemptively stinks of an agenda.

The question arises, since climate conditions this year are not greatly different than last year, why is this year's weather so drastically different than last year? The answer lies in Chaos Theory which shows that the weather is inherently unpredictable over the long term.

Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos.

Chaotic behavior can be observed in many natural systems, such as weather.

But weather patterns have proven to be predictable.

If the patterns start changing in dramatic manners, that is a sign that something out of the ordinary is happening.

Where I am, weeks of 40F+ weather in January is unheard of.

You don't have a complete understanding of chaos theory, chaos theory does not say that there is no pattern. If you see the Lorentzian attractor diagram, you will see a beautiful pattern. Chaos theory says that the system variables will be unpredictable at any given point of time but it does not rule out long term predictable behavior. Actually that's the real takeaway from Chaos theory.

That there's a pattern in the chaos

People just hear the term 'Butterfly effect' and think that it's chaos theory.
Chaos theory does not disprove basic physics either, if you boil water, it's a given that molecules will dance, even if you can't say which ones.

There is a beautiful entry in Real Climate about this weather-climate confusion.


A TV series that ran on Norwegian TV (NRK) last year included a simple and fun cartoon that demonstrates some important concepts relative to weather and climate:

In the animation, the man’s path can be considered as analogous to a directional climatic change, while the path traced by his dog’s whimsical movements represent weather fluctuations, as constrained by the man’s path, the leash, and the dog’s moment-by-moment decisions of what seems important to investigate in his small world. What might the leash length represent? The man’s momentary pause? The dog’s exact route relative to concepts of random variation?

I didn't say there was no pattern to the weather, I said that it was not predictable over the long term.

Compare last year and this year. Winter had similar starting conditions, but the weather we experienced was drastically different. That is the essence of Chaos Theory, its unpredictability.

On the other hand, if you boil water, even though the underlying process (Brownian motion) is chaotic, the final result (how long it takes to boil the water and how hot the boiling water gets) is highly predictable. Hence, it is not a chaotic system.

Well the turbulent convection and bubbles are clearly chaotic. The exact moment by moment cooling rate will also show chaotic variation due to turbulent flow within the water, (and likely) turbulent air flow above. But waiting for the pot to boil away takes longer than thousands of times the longest turbulent time sclae in that process, so those short time errors nearly cancel out.
So while gloabl average temps may be somewhat predictable for a year, and much more so for a decade, the temperature in your backyard will vary greatly. But you could probably come pretty close predicting the average temperature in your backyard over the next two years.

2011 was the 35th consecutive year that was warmer than the long-term average.

2011 was the warmest year ever when a La Nina pattern has been in effect.

During the full decade of the 2000s there were more than twice as many record high temps as record lows in the US. That ration has risen every decade since the 1960s.

No, global warming doesn't explain any particular data point. But it certainly explains the fact that it's generally been getting warmer.

Recent studies are showing that low arctic ice cover in the summer, leads to a less energetic jeystream, which is less efficcient at bottling up the arctic cold the next winter. A prediction is more cold for north central Europe. I don't have the impression europe is having a cold winter, just a fortnight's worth of very cold. What happens due to warming, does seem to be having an effect on the way atmospheric circulation patterns behave.

I've heard tell of "among the highest" pressure differential between two points this year, the year of hot winter, and the lowest differential last year, the year of cold wet winter. It affects the jet stream of air, keeping it from descending out of the arctic this year. I don't remember the names of the terrestrial reference points.

Search terms: pressure difference "jet stream" arctic
Time frame: Past month

North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
largest pressure gradient since tracking began in 1865
"The cause of this warm first half of winter is the most extreme configuration of the jet stream ever recorded,"
Conversely, December 2010 set record snowfalls in many parts of the U.S. Sure enough, the NAO at that time had some of the lowest pressures ever observed, allowing the jet stream to move south and stay there.

Record warm, record pressures, record configurations, record snowfalls...

Current news:

Pool of Freshwater in the Arctic May Cool Europe
The fresh water comes from melting ice

That article in Scientific American distorts the situation, IMHO. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is an index, calculated as the difference in sea level pressure between some lower latitude station, such as a location in the Azores, and a station in Iceland. Trouble is, from physics, a low pressure isn't the cause of a flow, since a gas can not exert a pull or tension force, instead the flow if the result of pressure differences between high and low. Thus the NAO just shows that there is a change in the weather, that is to say, the path of the storm tracks, which often pass over Iceland. During periods when the storms do not track over Iceland, the NAO calculation results in a low or negative number, while the opposite occurs when the storms track over Iceland.

As I see it, the path of the jet stream(s) during any particular year is most likely the result of the temperature pattern of the oceans, as the differences in energy stored in the surface water eventually migrates into the atmosphere above. Weather forecasters seldom concern themselves with ocean temperatures, except during hurricane season, as the ocean temperatures vary much more slowly than the weather above. Given the well known El Nino cycle (ENSO), the tropical oceans are said to be the driver for most of the weather variation from year to year. The rapid short term variations tend to mask the slower changes in climate over decades, thus any suggestion that what is happening is the result of AGW can easily be dismissed by commentators who don't want to discuss this possibility...

E. Swanson

Your comments, whether on TOD, NYT, or other blogs, are some of the most reasoned out there. Keep them coming.

The guys that do the monthly and seasonal forcasts pay a lot of attention to sea surface temps, as patterns of anomalies are associated with anomolous temps and precip weeks to months afterwards. These are of course only crude statistical predictions. I.E. we (California) are in an "extreme" catagory, the predicted probability that the temp will be in the top third of years is 50%. These things really show tendencies, and have some planning value, for farmers and people stocking up on heating oil or whatnot. But, they are very far from infallible.
Generally such anomalies provide small forces perturbing the weather, which averaged over longish periods of time amount to climate.

This is perplexing to me. If the arctic air mass is staying put, (not cooling down other regions) should it not be colder in the Arctic this year, resulting in more arctic sea ice?

This seems not to be the case.

Note that this graph plots the sea ice extent, not the area, so ice quality or thickness may be increasing,

Conversely, and perhaps I'm being simplistic, but for cold air to come from the north it would need to be displaced by another, presumably warmer, air mass from lower latitudes and result in a warmer arctic winter.

Ah, the joys of non-linear complex systems.

Any enlightenment is welcome.



Link up top: The politics of peak oil, this is a great article. It tells us in no uncertain terms exactly what peak oil is. You should copy the URL and post it to everyone who gets it wrong.

But the article goes much deeper than that, replying mostly to those who criticized the peak oil in "Nature" Climate policy: Oil's tipping point has passed.

Those with vested interests in the status quo—which is to say, pretty much everyone in government, business, and the media—have much to lose, and they are deeply fearful that the slumbering beast of the public will wake up about peak oil and climate change.

This is undoubtedly why, on the very same day that the Nature comment was published, a political hit piece appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek, titled “Everything You Know About Peak Oil Is Wrong.” It said not one word about production rates, trotted out the tired argument about Limits to Growth (which is wrong anyway), and cited oil cheerleader Daniel Yergin as a primary source. Peak oil deniers always talk about reserves, not production rates, for the same reason a squid squirts ink when it is threatened. Either they haven’t the foggiest idea what “peak oil” means, nor a grip on production data (let alone the key production/reserves ratios). . . or clouding the issue, and painting peak oil analysts as Chicken Littles, is their explicit intent. After a decade of observing this behavior, particularly in publications which should know better, I’m now inclined toward the latter view.

Ron P.

Agreed Ron

He starts out with a rapid fire series of what peak oil is and is not that needs to be remembered. I liked it when he said:

"if you’re not talking about data on oil production rates, or the general topic of reaching the peak rate, then you’re not talking about peak oil."


"When you’re talking about unconventional liquids, you are not talking about oil, and lumping them in with oil does not increase the volume of oil. That’s why it’s called “peak oil” and not “peak liquid fuels.”

The chief tactic of the deniers of peak oil is to not talk about peak oil - they always want to change the subject and talk about reserves, or other liquids,or the wonders of technology. But never about the production rate of conventional oil.

Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone

In 1950, Klinenberg reports, 4 million American adults lived alone, which accounted for 9 percent of households. Today, that number is 31 million, a whopping 28 percent of all households.

Meanwhile, this article predicts a boom in divorces when the economy recovers...and says it will be great for the economy, because that will mean millions of new households established, and all the consumption that goes with it.

I'm reminded of what Sharon Astyk said about peak oil. That it's going to be the "brother in the law on the couch version of the apocalypse." And that many of us would prefer Mad Max or zombie hordes.

Re: "brother in the law on the couch version of the apocalypse."


As I have previously noted, one advantage of having a small organic farm/garden is that one can take incoming liabilities, i.e., unemployed family members, and turn them into productive assets, i.e., farm workers, or in the sense that deflecting an incoming missile is a "win," having said farm/garden may deflect incoming family members to other (non-agriculturally equipped) family members. Or maybe just talking about a non-existent farm might be enough to deflect incoming in-laws.

"having said farm/garden may deflect incoming family members to other (non-agriculturally equipped) family members."


Let it be known you have no TV.

When I was growing up in Oklahoma, we didn't have AC, and that worked to keep relatives away, too, even though at the time we would have welcomed their visits.

You and me both. Grew up in SE Oklahoma, no AC and no central heat. We had a woodstove. I sort of think that's why heat doesn't bother me at all now. I was in India in 2008, traveling with 7 Indians. At one point one of them said "You are the only person not sweating." I said "I grew up in Oklahoma with no AC. This really isn't all that bad in comparison."

The flip-side of that is the PR. We used to visit my Dad's family in WV during the summers. They could never be persuaded that summers in Phoenix were generally more pleasant (even w/o A/C). The headline dry-bulb high temp number scared them silly.

Desert at 45C is a lot more comfortable than here at 33C.


Oh, I don't know! I've got a 15 year old nephew from Paris staying with me whilst he's doing work experience at a local business (all students do it at that age as part of the school year). On his day off I took him to the forest to help cut some wood. He didn't have the strength to use a debarking spade, couldn't split logs with an axe and was just about fit enough to load the wood onto the trailer. Even though I was de-mossing/debarking the tree, cutting and splitting the wood, I still had to help him finish loading.

From experience most people have little in the way of useful skills, little in the way of fitness for manual labour and lack toughness to live in a rural environment. One family member couldn't stand the cold in May, even though it was so warm we just wore T shirts and didn't even bother lighting the fire.

Lets face it, most of the populace are trained for bureaucratic work, entertained by technology into a non-thinking stupor, malnourished with junk food and kept functioning with pharmaceutical intervention, clueless about reality outside the matrix and physically unfit. What use are they in a localised economy? How do you de-programme them from their fantasy world of BAU so you can start the whole process of making them useful?

It's important to train them young. I spent hours teaching my nephews how to chop woood while I sat back in a lawn chair with a Cuba Libre in hand, coaching them on their technique. When they're 15 they can build muscle mass quickly and soon they are chopping wood almost as fast as we older and wiser folk can burn it.

One of them, who now has a university degree and an actual job, recently acquired a French girlfriend on a trip to Europe. It's been a learning experience for her since she came to Canada, but so far, we've taught her how to chop wood, shoot a high-powered hunting rife, drive a diesel 4x4, and operate a 35-foot power boat. With a little more work I think we can fully Canadianize her. The only real problem is that she thinks the French Canadians don't speak French properly, and of course that's going to be a problem if she ever goes to Quebec.

I am going to fine you with 10 Canadian Dollars for not writing this post in both english and french.

What use are they? Well, for example, farming, forestry, and some other sorts of heavy manual labor are notoriously hazardous. Those workers will be needing a lot of doctoring in any future, and short of a return to the Stone Age, they'll probably get at least some. There's no need for doctors to be musclebound. That will also hold for some other trades.

Also, even in a bad scenario, the insatiable demand for a vast, meddlesome, micromanaging bureaucracy to keep everyone "safe" would continue as long as it can. There's no real sign of shrinking bureaucracy anywhere, not even in countries that are far, far more strapped economically than France. So, despite recession and isolated anecdotes in Greece, a French 15-year-old may not need to fret too much about having to go into hard manual labor before he's too old to do so anyhow.

Remember, for example, that informal labor exchanges in, say, Indonesia, turn away manual workers at about age 50, since by then most are washed up compared to the younger ones (I suppose one of the rare exceptions will post some tart rejoinder here, but such exceptionalism doesn't scale.) That takes a current 15-year-old only to around 2045, when most projections still show quite a lot of fossil-fuel use. Also, past performance does not guarantee future performance; the actual pastoral past included few people of middle age or beyond; a future pastoral past, absent prohibiting medical care, would. It would be uncharted territory.

"So, despite recession and isolated anecdotes in Greece, a French 15-year-old may not need to fret too much about having to go into hard manual labor before he's too old to do so anyhow."

I don't disagree, what I'm saying is most people are going to have to stay in the dying paradigm as they're unsuitable for anything else. Their problem will be helplessness and poverty as wealth within the system evaporates and the elites maintain their privileges at the cost of everyone else. All those bureaucratic jobs will continue to be de-skilled by technology, reducing salaries to a minimum wage level if they're lucky enough to have a job at all. The need to sedate the population and reconcile them to their perverse and unnatural conditions will probably mean ever greater technological intervention to segregate them from reality.

From experience most people have little in the way of useful skills, little in the way of fitness for manual labour and lack toughness to live in a rural environment.

But if they actually use the muscles they will improve fitness.

When circumstances FORECE them to adapt, they will. There willbe lamentations,but 15 year olds are adaptable.

I agree with Sharon's point of view. I also want to add or reiterate that collapse will break our spirits and aspirations long before it destroys our needs. Imagine you once were a proud home "owner", but now reduced to surfing couches with a career that disappeared overnight never to comeback! I think most of us often overlook psychological collapse when we think of civilization collapse.

I think it's the case that an affluent society produces more individuals who do not have the economic need for marriage. This is a big part of it. Why put up with the hassles of a spouse whom you get along with less and less every year when one doesn't need the headache?

"A rise in divorces when the economy recovers". Mmm-kay, but what if the economy just keeps getting worse and worse? More likely IMHO.
My personal view is that over time there will be a shrinkage in the number of households headed by single people.

Also, I wonder how many of the people who conduct these studies actually walk the walk?
In this particular article they were quick to point out the advantages single women have in coping with living alone, but they seemed to neglect that single men have advantages, too.

For my part, as a single man, I know I have definite advantages over most of my female counterparts. For one thing, I have a very broad range of physical and technical skills that enable me to keep a complicated household maintained and running without requiring much assistance from outside contractors. This enables me to run a lot more house with a lot fewer dollars.

My own examination of the single household phenomenon leads me to conclude that single women seem more comfortable with smaller, more compact urban digs. The single males seem a bit more comfortable running a bigger place in a more suburban or rural setting.

Big difference in lifestyles there; no mention of that in the article.

My personal view is that over time there will be a shrinkage in the number of households headed by single people.

And that would be a relatively painless way to downsize, brother in law jokes to the contrary. Most of the world lives far more compactly than the average American, and it's not catastrophic.

For my part, as a single man, I know I have definite advantages over most of my female counterparts. For one thing, I have a very broad range of physical and technical skills that enable me to keep a complicated household maintained and running without requiring much assistance from outside contractors. This enables me to run a lot more house with a lot fewer dollars.

There's no reason women can't learn all those skills, and many do. In particular, if you become a homeowner, you pretty much have to learn that stuff, unless you have money to burn. The female homeowners I know are just as handy as the men. In some cases, more so. One of my best friends is rebuilding her 150 year old house, by herself. A lot of her male counterparts don't like to fool with plumbing or electricity, but she's doing it.

My own examination of the single household phenomenon leads me to conclude that single women seem more comfortable with smaller, more compact urban digs. The single males seem a bit more comfortable running a bigger place in a more suburban or rural setting.

That is not my experience at all.

I didn't buy that NYT article (linked in the first Slate article), though. I think the author is wrong, claiming men are more worried about danger. IME, it's the opposite. Women think about personal security constantly, in a way that is completely foreign to men.

The demographic maps I've seen indicate a clear preference among single women for urban areas and the opposite for men (advertisers have studied this very question extensively) . This is consistent with what I've seen personally.
I didn't mean to get anyone defensive regarding a woman's ability to do contractor type work. Sure they can do it, but I don't personally SEE very many of they actually doing it. I think there are lots of reasons for this, among them being different preferences in budgeting (tools cost money) and different preferences in the disposition of square footage within the home (tools take up space).

At any rate, one can argue over this but it's not my intention.

I think this is a very dated view. It might have been true of a certain generation and a certain socioeconomic group, but these days, there's much less of this kind of gender difference. With young adults today, the men are as likely to cook as the women. The women as likely to know how to build a computer as the men.

My 29 yo daughters are much more self-sufficient than my 64 yo wife. They both live alone and don't seem to feel much need for a "roommate".

The women as likely to know how to build a computer as the men.

I really doubt that one. Certainly not if you look at college enrollments. When I was in school in the early seventies, math savy women congregated in math and computer sciences. Now I have two kids at different universities majoring in compsci, and they report that they are lucky to have even one female student in compsci classes. Unfortunately this matches things I've heard others say. Clearly some cultural change has made compsci into an almost entirely male preserve. I wonder if the video-game craze, which is almost entirely male has something to do with it.

When I was in engineering school in the 80's it was a 5 male to 1 female ratio. I think there is definitely something fundamentally different about male & female brains that predispose males to be more interested in STEM fields. (I'm not saying they are better at it, just more interested.) Culture also has something to do with it but I don't believe it is the sole cause of the difference.

Videogames don't explain it. Videogames are male dominated since most videogames deal with violence and do a good job of simulating violence which is definitely more of a male thing.

It's possible. That is in fact what the article I posted was suggesting - that women are better than men at social networking, and therefore better at living alone than men.

But I'm not convinced it's innate. There have been some interesting cross-cultural studies on this. Are men always better at math, technology and spatial relationships, and are women always better at verbal/social stuff? Not really. It's definitely true for some cultures, but doesn't seem to hold for others. In particular, in cultures where men can gain access to mates and support families using technical knowledge, they will excel in it. In more egalitarian cultures, where women support themselves, men are more likely to be like women when it comes to technical vs. social. Apparently because social skills are how you gain access to mates in such societies.

My anecdotal data for mech engineers (those taking classes in using our software), mostly early career probably a mix of undergrad masters and PhD degrees, says that 5:1 ration is roughly corrct forn mech engineering. I'd bet when I was an undergrad (70-73) the ratio was closer to 50:1. But in comp sci, it was maybe 2:1, now it is 25:1 or higher!

You don't need a college degree to build a computer.

As for majoring in computer science...something weird is going on there. Maybe it's just that comp sci is simply not seen as a "sexy" major any more. In any case, it's atypical. In other scientific and technical fields, there are more women than ever.

That depends on how you define "build". If it means putting together (pre assembled) units of components, no.
If it means designing processors, memory chips, BIOS software at the assembler level, I'd argue yes.


Based on the original comment that started this thread...I was talking about assembling components. The kind of stuff you would do to maintain your household if you were single and didn't want to hire someone.

I'm not talking about designing circuits. Or mining and refining the ores it takes to manufacture them, building a clean room to do it in, or any of that stuff. I'd guess no one person could be that self-reliant.

My BSEE degree was done in the mid-90's, we were typically at between 1/10 and 1/30th female in the EE courses. In power specialty courses the ratio was lower (a lot of classes with 0 female students), most of the female EE's were planning semicon careers. In STEM classes in general the ratio was more like 1/4 to 1/10th female. Two of my 3 younger sisters went to the same engineering school (civil). One of them is about 1 in 10000 as to abstract math and physics abilities. Their husbands both do the household computer maintenance. In one case she does the auto mechanic negotiations, but he still does all of the computer related stuff beyond user level. On the other hand, the third younger sister took a paralegal course after completing high school by correspondence while working as a restaurant server. She did all of the network wiring, simple PC troubleshooting, setup, and sysadmin work at the small law firm she ended up at before splitting for Taiwan. None of the lawyers or other paralegals could figure out how to adjust the thermostat or program the voicemail system, according to her. All of them have told me multiple stories of being the only one in a cargroup who knew how to change a flat tire or jumpstart a car.

I guess for the sake of completeness I may as well comment on the security issue as well.
My observations as to differences or similarities between single men and women are too limited, but I would say that men and women in general vary quite widely on this. And I couldn't place them into their own separate categories. I think it all comes down to what Nicole Foss would term, "the Trust Horizon".
For sure I have known single women who were very concerned with their personal safety but lots of others who are just way too trusting that everybody else is of no conceivable threat; the same goes for men. The only general observation I would make is that both men AND women IMO are WAY TOO trusting.
Exhibit A would be the popular fascination with social networking media. There seems to be an obsessive need to be "known" which is shared by both genders. My personal view is that putting detailed personal information out into "cyberspace" for anyone and everyone's consumption is completely idiotic and dangerous from a general personal security standpoint (and that's why I don't do it).

Summer in Antarctica Image: Crack discovered in Pine Island Glacier

In mid-October 2011, NASA scientists working in Antarctica discovered a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier, a major ice stream that drains the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Extending for 19 miles (30 kilometers), the crack was 260 feet (80 meters) wide and 195 feet (60 meters) deep.

Eventually, the crack will extend all the way across the glacier, and calve a giant iceberg that will cover about 350 square miles (900 km²). ... "It looks like a significant part of the ice shelf is ready to break off." [point of comparison Larsen B Ice Shelf collapse - 1255 square miles (3,250 km²)]

After the initial news about this crack, I found a page illustrating what was causing the crack to occur. This isn't the same site as the one I found last year, but it has the same sort of display showing ice having melted away from the ice shelf's contact with the seafloor back to a point where the shelf rests on a rise, which is where the crack is occuring. This one is a somewhat better example of the dynamic in play. There are other similar sites depicting similar illustrations that can be found browsing google images for Pine Island Glaccier.

In defense of Ferris Bueller, car salesman

This time around, Broderick isn’t portraying a charming teenage truant who feigns sickness and skips school to drive around Chicago in a Ferrari 250 GT with his best friend and girlfriend, and dance on a parade float while lip synching Wayne Newton and the Beatles. Rather, Broderick plays a fictionalized version of his actual, off-screen self: a middle-aged guy feigning sickness to take a day off from shooting a movie so that he can tool around Los Angeles in an SUV. The ad, which was directed by Todd Phillips — of “The Hangover” and “Old School” fame — has been viewed over three million times on YouTube, is a top trending topic on Twitter — but has divided fans who aren’t sure whether to thrill to the nostalgia or be horrified that the free-spirited Bueller is shilling for an SUV.

In case you're outside the Superbowl loop, here's the commercial.

If you're going to sell SUVs you might as well stick to a character who combines charm with irresponsibility.

Whilst much of Europe shivers through extreme cold, Canada is basking in relative warmth and the rest of our winter looks to be mild as well.

Warm winter ahead for most of Canada
Unseasonably high temperatures until spring, Environment Canada forecasts

Most Canadians across the country can look forward to a warmer-than-normal winter, right through until spring, according to Environment Canada's latest forecast.

The prediction for February, March and April comes after an unseasonably warm couple of months, said CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.


Environment Canada's updated forecast is an about-face from the weather agency's prediction in the fall for a frosty winter season.

Instead, this has been one of the mildest winters on record. In January, temperatures were at least three to six degrees [Celsius] above normal across most of the country, Wagstaffe said.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/02/01/weather-warm-...

Our average hourly temperature this past month was -3.4°C (the January normal is reportedly -6.0°C)

It has definitely put a dent in our home heating costs -- we used a total of 860 kWh for space heating purposes last month.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Jan2012.jpg

For the first four months of this heating season, our consumption comes to 1,923 kWh, or the energy equivalent of 219 litres/58 gallons of fuel oil at 82% AFUE.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/O11-J12.jpg


These unusual weather patterns are troubling to say the least. The CBC is reporting that the European death toll as of this morning now stands at seventy-nine.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/02/01/europe-cold-snap-evacuatio...


The metric of the financial markets is more apt for the weather. Volatility. The extremes are becoming norm, the shifts are like lightening.

The metric of the financial markets is more apt for the weather.

That is correct. Both financial markets and the weather are best explained by Chaos Theory

Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including physics, engineering, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, an effect which is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.

It came as a complete shock to financial wizards and meteorologists when the mathematicians told them it would be impossible for them to make long-term predictions no matter how big the supercomputers they used, but that is the case.

Chaotic behavior can be observed in many natural systems, such as weather. Explanation of such behavior may be sought through analysis of a chaotic mathematical model, or through analytical techniques such as recurrence plots and Poincaré maps.

This year, the abnormal weather can be explained by the unusual strength and position of the polar jet stream, but nobody has been able to explain why the jet stream is so abnormal this year.

The Air force was promising control of the weather any time now. Why can't they get on that?

If you could control the weather, imagine the conflict you would cause. One faction wants it to be sunny and 70 all the time. Another section wants some rain (for the plants, nature loving wussies). Another wants powder snow to go skiing at. Yet another wants to waterski, and anything under 95 is unacceptable. Much better to not be the controller, everyone will hate you.

Perhaps the only thing worse, is if the people think you CAN control the weather, and are out to extract vengence because their wife was killed by a tornado!

My sugestion has always been: Rain on wednesdays. This way, there is water for everyone,and we know how to plan for it. Everyone is happy. Sunny saturnday and sunday.

I remember my first year in Wisconsin. After years in semiarid climates, the green everywhere was awful to see. I remember a conversation with a local , him "we need rain", me "but it rained two days ago", him "exactly, why we need more".

Is it the reverse of last year? The US was getting frozen and Russia was warmish. Then this year, we get the reverse wind pattern.

Over in this corner, precipitation wise it is reversed. Last year had near record or record precipitation in California. This year we seem to be shooting for a record drought!

Japan is experiencing a massive snowstorm over 10 feet in some areas.

Tropical Cyclones to Cause Greater Damage

The research reveals that more intense storms will become more frequent with climate change. “The biggest storms cause most of the damage,” said Robert Mendelsohn, the lead economist on the project. “With the present climate, almost 93 percent of tropical cyclone damage is caused by only 10 percent of the storms. Warming will increase the frequency of these high-intensity storms at least in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean basins, causing most of the increase in damage.”

Climate change is predicted to add another $53 billion of damages. The damage caused by climate change is equal to 0.01 percent of GDP in 2100.

As usual I would say this Scientific Study is way too cautious in predicting only $52
Billion in climate change storm costs by 2100. We have already suffered $52 Billion in extreme weather events in the US in 2011.

Although this study is focusing on cyclones vs other "climate change" damages hence
the Joplin, Missouri and other cyclone extreme weather damages in 2011 are included
in the $52 Billion total, it still seems like a vast underestimate in the next 88
years given the way we are going...

It is 60F here in the Northeast US in the middle of "winter" continuing 3 months of
average monthly temperatures 8F and more above last year which was warmer than the year before...
This is VERY extreme!

Global tropical cyclone damage is expected to double to $56 billion per year, with climate change adding another $53 billion per year of damages

Drought Conditions Spread, Raising Concerns for 2012 Crops

The spread of drought conditions into northwest Iowa and southern Minnesota – some of the most productive corn and soybean acreage in the country – has weather and economic analysts worried.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Seasonal Drought Outlook (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/index.php) suggests that the western Corn Belt dryness will persist through April and will spread to eastern Nebraska. The outlook also shows signs of continuing and spreading areas of drought in the southwest and southeast – bad news for suffering cattlemen.

also Drought in northern Mexico – in pictures

I see a lot of Raramuri people in the pictures. They are not only one of the most primitive societies but some of the nicest people around (not to mention incredible runners as well).

Though I have only read about the Tarahumara, I feel very sad for them.

Daniel Yergin can talk about mega fields here and growing production there all he wants, but as long as he ignores any "fitness for use criteria" lots of oil is like lots of trees; "lots of trees" guarantee we will never run short of 30ft 12X12s.

The simple fact is that oil production and price are functions of the proportion of oil's potential energy that is delivered to the end consumer. This can be demonstrated with >95% certainty for more than half a century. Yergin does a lot of blathering, but you never see real numbers; it sad to see a proponent of pseudo-science held in such high esteem.

and you believe those taking the opposing position are any different?

Some are, some aren't. We have our own true believers, but science is definitely on the side of "there will be a peak, and production is all downhill from there".

Personally, I think that those who say Hubbert was wrong by and large are counting "oil" sources other than conventional crude from easily reached reservoirs, which is what he was counting when he made his observations. Take out unconventional crude and unconventional sources and he starts looking like a regular prophet.

Extreme deep water drilling gives us conventional crude from an unconventional source.
Tar sands give us unconventional crude from an unconventional source.

Most trackers are counting one or both of these already and production has barely budged in 6 years now even with them, and with plenty of money sloshing around to inspire innovation.

Ethanol is an outright substitute and doesn't count at all for "Peak Oil".

We have our own true believers, but science is definitely on the side of "there will be a peak, and production is all downhill from there".

Which is probably why Yergin believes in peak oil as well. It is hard to deny for anyone, which is why when the contrary is assigned to someone else, you know that the entire thing is just a setup to bash a position which nearly no one actually believes in (abiotic types aside I suppose).

For the record, Hubbert counted all sorts of unconventional oil and gas, heavy oils, and everything else thrown into the production mix. He didn't discriminate, that is a modern phenomena designed to limit the size of the resource pyramid from inquiring minds.

And from a geologic position, light, sweet crude, in a decent reservoir, in a nice structure, is not unconventional just because it is under a couple thousand feet of water. That is simply a technical detail of the geography, and has nothing to do with the conventional/unconventional nature of the rock or fluid properties. I think some people dreamed this one up just because they found it amazing to drill for oil on a boat, and the idea was so alien to them they had to make it special somehow.

Follow the money.

Yes, they're different.

So Yergin being paid by someone to talk about his point of view is different than Heinberg or Hughes being paid to talk about their point of view? Or makes either of these sides more trustworthy?

Prince William deploys to Falklands amid tension between Britain and Argentina

related Second battle of the Falklands all about the oil

... Everybody knows it not really about the citizenship of 3,000 or so people living on a foggy collection of islands vastly outnumbered by sheep. Rather, it’s about possible oil reserves in the environs. Britain wants to make sure it controls them. So of course does Argentina’s Cristina Kerchner.

From the comment field of your second link, RJ65 says:

My father in law is from Brazil and strongly backs the Argentine position. The view appears to be based almost entirely on emotion rather than reality, including the positive feelings of possible war with a NATO country and the reality of what that may lead to. The victim card is very strongly played as well.

It appears to be difficult for S. Americans to imagine a colonial power that operates different than Spain. The idea of constitutional monarchy and the desire to keep ties strong with the "mother country" like we enjoy here in Canada is foreign to them.

When you get down to the facts, Argentina did not even exist when Spain ceded the Falklands under treaty to England. Argentina has absolutely no basis to its claim.

On the positive side, democracies don't go to war against each other so one day adults may prevail.

The last sentence, although bantered around as cliche, has not yet been proven - has more to do with the lack of democracies than any tried and true experience of history.

But, by and large, I do tend to agree with the rest. The British settled the Falklands in the 1830s. Argentina doesn't have much of a claim under the basic principles of international law and historical custom. And it's hardly likely the Falkland Islanders are going to want to switch loyalties from London to Buenos Aires. Argentinian attempts to press the Brits into some kind of negotiations are a dead end street. For starters, what is London going to negotiate?

The sad part is that neither Argentina nor Britain is in any position to replay the 1982 war. Hopefully it will remain rhetorical shrill, nothing more.

Lose the airfield and the UK loses the Falklands. What the islanders want is on a par with what the Iraqis wanted. Given the relative rise of Brazilian power compared to the waning of UK power, it is plausible to suppose that the reserves will never be exploited to the UK's financial benefit.

New zeolite material may solve diesel shortage

World fuel consumption is shifting more and more to diesel at the expense of gasoline. A recently published article in Nature Chemistry by a research team at Stockholm University and the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain presents a new porous material that evinces unique properties for converting gasoline directly into diesel. The material has a tremendously complex atomic structure that could only be determined with the aid of transmission electron microscopy.

And pigs will fly.

I wonder how many litres of gasoline they need to make one litre of diesel?

Gasoline weighs 6.1 pounds/gallon. Diesel weighs 7.1 pounds per gallon. At the simplest, they are both made of chains of CH2: units made of one carbon atom and two hydrogen atoms. The zeolite has porosities of a sizes and structures that tends to assemble the longer chains seen in the spectrum of diesel.

As an aside, High Density Polyethylene, HDPE, has chains hundreds of CH2 units long. It is solid fuel. HDPE can be processed into the common liquid fuels 10 to 15 units long.

Folks on the farm:

This would work better with a catalyst such as a zeolite.

This is India specific.Visited homeland after 15 years.Some observations though urban centric:
1.The young are extremely highly(using a superlative) confident that the future will be better.
2.The aspirations of the young are sky high.
3.The young are walking/running the extra mile by taking all sorts of extra classes e.g language,personal grooming,fitness,computer etc to improve their chances.Education has become a booming business.
1.Traveled on what is National Highway 1.Took 7 hrs to cover 250 Km.The highway is in construction since 15 years and it is still single track.Average speed 70-80 Km/h.
2.Corruption is mind boggling and so is the gap between the rich and the poor.
3.Real Estate bubble.This is out of the world .Something like Japan In 70-80's.
4.The power sector has to repay loans of about $14 billion in 2013 and the entities are bankrupt.The banks are worried.A govt committee suggested an increased tariff of 200% just to cover operations.Extra needed to cover losses.
5.Oil,food and fertilizer subsidy overshot by 70% of budgeted in each category.Next year they start a "right to food" program.Expected cost $ 20 billion.
6.Fiscal deficit,current deficit,trade deficit, total debt etc are just about to breach the ceiling of sustainability in a year or two;
7.Knowledge of peak oil,economics is one word"zero". The only talk at social gatherings is real estate prices.
8.In urban centers the middle class is living one level above their pocket.Keeping up with the neighbors is the call of the day.
9.Country imports 80% of its energy.
This cannot continue for long.We at TOD know that the aspirations of the young will not be met.Being unemployed is dangerous but being an educated unemployed is a catastrophe.What will the young do when their aspirations are not met?Will the demographic dividend become a demographic disaster ? All viewpoints appreciated.

I don't know what will happen, but here is what happened from 2002 to 2010, regarding oil consumption in China, India, Top 33 net oil exporters and the US:


There seem to be some issues that have become worldwide phenomenons.

A. The idea all the people of the world can live a western decadent lifestyle, ignores resource limits.

B. Corruption was always a problem, but it now seems to be rampant in most if not all country's, almost as if people are in a panic to scurry away as much wealth as possible before the opportunity to do so disappears. The result is the socio-economic divide is widening to unprecedented levels.

C. Willingness by govt's to insist on a certain 'democratic' vote outcome. E.g. 2000 & 2004 US prez elections. In 2000 the ninth person on the supreme court anointed Bush jr. - that's not democracy. In 2004 there was computer hacked voter fraud in Ohio and some also believe in New Mexico that gave the election to Bush jr. Never before in history had a candidate won an election in which they lost the exit polls. Bush jr. was the first. It appears as evidence was mounting on voter fraud, the GOP backed off in 2008 and Obama won. Now the GOP have changed voter registration laws to make is very difficult for minorities to vote, particularly the hispanic community that voted predominantly for Obama.

D. Denial of climate change and peak oil because it is the selfish thing to do. For most people there is no willingness to admit something that reduces their piece of the dream pie.

E. Debt at all levels tipping the scales at unprecedented heights.

Where all this leads is anyone's guess, but as you say it is unsustainable, so at some point it will have to change dramatically.

Country imports 80% of its energy.

Actually, India imports a little less than 50% of total energy consumed but most of the production is coal. From the Energy Export databrowser (note different scales):


I spent a few months in India traveling around after I had finished high school. This was ~1989.

I found India to be a very confusing and complicated place. Didn't seem like it should work, but somehow did.

That said no country that is so dependent on imported energy should be subsidizing energy consumption.

Relatives recently attended a wedding in Goa. The extravagance of the wedding as it was described to me left me shaking my head and biting my tongue.

The interesting perspective for me was how global this wedding was. Relatives at the wedding weren't just of Indian heritage or citizenship but were truly global in many aspects. It took a lot of energy to create a family network as diverse as the family at the wedding.

I suspect that kind of family complexity will become rare again as energy constraints bite.

I had an invite to an Indian wedding a couple of years back. Would have been an interesting/fun trip, but airfare halfway around the world is pretty pricy. He did bring back video, and we had dinner with the couple and watched the wedding videos.

There's a movie, Bride & Prejudice, that brings Jane Austen into the present day. (By the director of Bend It Like Beckham, another delightful film about Indians coping with Western ways.)

The plot has the handsome young heir to a hotel fortune meeting a village girl in India on a business trip. He gets to know her family; she travels to California and meets his mother, who runs the hotel chain and is not pleased about her son's interest in the human side of business.

Relevance here? There's a big wedding, with elephants.

10. There are malls everywhere
11. no one expected that many cars all of a sudden, there is no parking and frequent traffic jams. law enforcement has barely kept up.
12. Inflation is running ~10%
13. a lot of indian corporations borrowed money from European bank, this was in $ denomination and is coming due this year. European banks are likely to not want to refinance due to their own liquidity problems.
14. Non performing assets on bank balance sheets are at record high, mostly in infrastructure development. This was not the case in 2008.
15. real estate is disconnected from incomes
16. water tables are moving lower every year.
17. the govt is trying to solve the current account deficit (due to high energy prices) by the route of FDI (foreign direct investment). may work for
the short term..

If we are honest, we would admit that China and to a lesser extent India are the patsies, the bag holders, the latecomers to the party that's ending.

They are throwing away everything for a taste of the oil driven automobile life. They've sold their souls and will get their comeuppance.

Then again, it's possible the disease is worldwide. There may not be any holdouts this time.

You forgot yeast-like population growth.

Indians and Chinese are doing their part to follow the white man. What happens if you add all people of european decent everywhere on this planet. I am sure they add up to about the same or higher than the Indian or Chinese. Aren't we all growing like yeast :)

Bumper crop fails to stop suicides in India (w/Video)

Massive rice harvest in India's West Bengal state leads to drop in prices, forcing farmers to take extreme step.

Rice mill owners and middlemen continue to make a profit, as desperate farmers trying to cut their losses sell their rice at low prices.

Driving the green: New study suggests that electric-powered trucks will save money for businesses

... The CTL study was conducted using data collected by the international office supplier Staples, as well as ISO New England, the nonprofit firm that runs New England’s electric power grid. Using that data, the researchers modeled the costs for a fleet of 250 delivery trucks, and examined alternate scenarios in which the whole fleet used one of three kinds of motors: purely electric engines, hybrid gas-electric engines and conventional diesel engines.

Based on the Staples data, the researchers modeled what would happen if the trucks in the fleet were driven 70 miles a day for 253 work days per year, with diesel gasoline costing $4 per gallon. Trucks with internal-combustion engines averaged 10.14 miles per gallon, compared to 11.56 miles per gallon for hybrid trucks, while the electric-only trucks averaged 0.8 kilowatt-hours per mile.

All told, the operational cost per mile — the basic metric all fleet managers use — would drop from 75 cents per mile to 68 cents per mile when V2G-enabled electric trucks are substituted for internal-combustion trucks.

... one limitation of the concept is that it only applies to urban truck fleets; electric vehicles do not have the range to make many kinds of rural or interstate deliveries.

A reduction of just 9% in life cycle costs? This seems like a pretty weak case for electric trucks. Sure, if oil prices keep going up, and your company has survived the massive capital outlay for the trucks...

On reading that article, it is apparent that the cost advantage is purely due to V2G payments - absent that, and there is no advantage.

The article states that std midsize trucks are $50k, and the electric ones are $150k - I'd say the electrics need to come down to less than $100k before they'll start to see any level of market penetration.

These sorts of studies all seem to miss the fact that in the future, fewer businesses and people will have the money for expensive "cadillac" solutions, which of course, is what MIT always comes up with...

House Transpotation Infrastructure Bill will Eliminate Dedicated Funding to TE (bikeways) and Safe Routes to Schools

In addition to this the bill also contains provisions which will

-Eliminate requirements for bike access to bridges.
-Create a loophole to circumvent CMAQ
thus tending to favor low occupancy vehicle projects

-Reduce Fed dollars to AMTRAK by 25%

-Allow 97,000lb. 120 foot long trucks on Americas highways

and much much more..

This 'March of the Zombies' special will be

Webcast Live Thurs Feb 2 9:00 a.m. EST

Then there's the part about how it will be funded by oil drilling.

Wow yeah,

That oil drilling irony is like the bridge repair urgency.

Allow bigger trucks (a.k.a bridge wreckers) and get those loads back off the rails and keep them cyclists out of the way. Meanwhile maybe public transportation can make up the shortfall if that drilling thing doesn't work out.

Supporters are a who's who of equiptment mfgs. and commercial interests like Kraft Foods and the spin machine was at full song this morning on the net.

Small mention of how the best jobs per dollar return is in ped and bikeways.

Well, some weeks ago there was a flurry of posts on TOD about how Americans work too much, and we would be better off to work a lot less. So, with that in mind, maybe these guys are doing the right thing, since jobs are a cost? Just wonderin' ...

One reason they are lookin for dollars.

The House bill also would spend about $50 billion more than the revenues produced by the Highway Trust Fund, which no longer covers the cost of highways because both parties refuse to raise the 18.4-cent gasoline tax. The tax was last raised in 1993 and is not indexed for inflation.

Senate version gives up less ground but

Reconciliation seems unlikely

If we weren't paying the same tax per gallon as we were when gasoline was $1.05 maybe we wouldn't be trying to take it away from healthy, job producing activities in favor of more highway funding which primarily means more oil. I've often thought that cars and trucks are not subsidising peds and bikes but generally it's visa versa.

...there's a hole in the bucket...

Meh. With hundreds of billions in pork at stake, they'll "reconcile" it somehow, probably won't be pretty. But as usual, one has to love Boxer:

"That's fine," she said. "If they start saying we want to drill in states that don't want it, that threatens in my state the fishing industry, the tourist industry, the recreation industry and millions of jobs. That's very controversial. I've said that many times to Chairman Mica."

Well, there are less than 10,000 fishers, so those "millions of jobs" must be in tourism and recreation. I wonder how those jobs will continue to exist if nobody, including California, wants to do their bit to keep energy abundant and cheap enough (for however long that might last) to support them. Does she think the tourists will bicycle over the Rockies or swim across the Pacific to get to California?

"bicycle over the Rockies"

Exactly what we did last summer. Was great. We spent some money in the towns where we stayed, so I guess we were tourists.

Cheap and abundant.....well as you say...'as long as that might last'

Better mitigations than these bills are available.

s/t - "The federal highway trust fund faces a $12 billion gap over the next two years, and it's highly unlikely that new wells could come anywhere close to bringing in that much tax revenue." Obviously these folks didn't bother to check the fed web site for revenue info. In the last 5 years ('07-'11) the feds have recieved $45.7 BILLION in just royalty payments and lease bonus payments from the offshore leases. And that doesn't include any taxes they collected. So as usual it's not a question of whether the govt has the money or not but priorities. OTOH they've been borrowing trillions to pay for other projects they didn't have funds for either.

Sen. James Inofe (R.-Okla.) suggested in a statement in November that drilling fees, dependent on the stop-and-go whims of oil companies, are a fanciful idea to make up the increasing shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund.

When even James bloody Inofe thinks it's a bad idea, you know the rest of the Republicans are smoking something.

The Bill passed the House Committee on Natural Resources yesterday:

An article behind a paywall on the WSJ: House to Link Energy and Transportation Bills

The GOP bills would jumpstart offshore oil production, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and promote more exploration for oil shale, an expensive but potentially big source of American crude.
The five-year transportation bill provides funding for highway and transit funding, slashes Amtrak's budget, streamlines the environmental-review process, and consolidates scores of federal transportation agencies to save money, among other things.

E. Swanson

Thanks. Yeah drill baby drill.

They are marking up in Transportation and Infrastructure now.

Dedicated Safe paths to Schools and Transportation Enhancements remain out.(29-27 vote)
They are in in the Senate side but watered down. If there is no state co-ordinator then bikeways and pedways will likely be tough to get on Fed funded projects.

Much wailing about how they could not be afforded (funds need to be diverted to urgent bridge repairs) in the current environment, but the big trucks are ok. 97,000lb even 126,000lb in some cases.
(Voting on that now)

My worst moment was hearing about how gas taxes pay for the bill so it could not be used for non highway. (50 Billion shortfall)

Ugh. Those big trucks absolutely destroy roads with their weight. Cars have very little impact on a well designed road . . . but those big trucks just wear them out.

Allowing those big trucks is more wealth transfer to the rich . . . privatize the gains (cheaper costs to distribute commercial products) while socializing the costs (making the tax-payer foot the bill for damage to the roads). It is being championed by paid lobbyists of those wealthy.

I hope someone points this obvious point out. But most law makers lack the engineering and economic background to see this.

There was a pretty good outcry going especially on damage. Then recess (camera on 'test pattern') before the vote.

My view agrees with yours (Home Depot, Kraft big supporters)privatize/socialize

Did not hear a lawmaker go there, but they did kick it back for more study. Sure there are states where they are on Interstate and state highways already but guess it won't be a national standard yet.

Sure - run bigger trucks, destroy the infrastructure we cannot afford to replace faster.

Sadly yes. Reminds me of other Zombie marching themes like.

"It’s going fast,” he said as he looked at the 57-foot boat. “We’ve got to fish harder before it’s all gone.”

Roads? Fix busted roads? Why that would take taxes. No. We will simply revive the Hummer, people who make enough to afford one can keep driving.

Here is what I would do if I was the President:

1. Float a quasi government agency (let us call it American Energy Independence Agency or AEIA)
2. AEIA sells a large number of bonds which are bought by the Fed with printed money
3. The size of the SPR is increased by a factor of 10 (we have a lot of land in the US)
4. AEIA buys a large amount of light sweet crude and fills up the SPR.
5. AEIA buys a lot of other commodities that have a strategic value and stores them in reserve (for example, copper, rare earths, potash and phosphate fertilizer, platinum, silver, etc)
6. When AEIA can no longer buy additional crude or commodities it defaults on its bonds

Why is this not being done?

We'll Frack Alberta's Next Election, Vow Landowners

Drilling accident fuels rebellion demanding halt to hydraulic fracturing.

Bester's high profile group called for a full moratorium on hydraulic fracturing last week after a Calgary-based company injected fluids at such high pressure into a 1,800-metre-deep oil formation that the liquids travelled more than 1.2 kilometre underground and ruptured an oil well near Innisfail, Alberta on Jan. 13.

"It was spewing oil 60 feet into the air all around a pump jack well near the Red Deer River," says 65-year-old Bester.

"If these companies can't control these fracks, what is the potential to destroy a complete aquifer with toxic chemicals? We're not convinced that these fracks will stay in the formation that they were intended to crack open," adds Bester.

Meanwhile, "Gasland" producer Josh Fox gets arrested for filming at a congressional hearing "without a permit".

I guess Josh and crew are lucky they're not potentially suspected of potentially aiding potentially suspected potential terrorists.

Ohio is having it's, and other states, problems with fracking.

Ohio Tries to Escape Fate as a Dumping Ground for Fracking Fluid

Of the almost 22 million gallons of wastewater that Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale operators sent to disposal wells in the first six months of 2011, nearly 99 percent went to Ohio, according to production reports from the Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Department.


Hey, don't knock it. "Superfund: The Sequel" will create a lot of good-paying jobs.

And governments in their foresight have set aside revenues from energy production to fund cleanup, remediation and restoration.

And they have also set aside funds for future generations to adapt when carbon fuels are too expensive to fuel a sustainable economy.

: )

Fracking suspected in Innisfail blowout

Provincial energy regulators are investigating the possibility that hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - on one well could have caused the rupture of an adjacent oil well after a spill was reported late Friday near the town of Innisfail.

The Energy Resource Conservation Board said hydraulic fracturing on a well owned by Calgary-based Midway Energy could have affected a producing oil well owned by Wild Stream Exploration, which was operating a few hundred metres away.

"We don't know the details yet so it is premature to comment on the process, but my understanding is that it appears the fracturing process affected the other well," said Cara Tobin, board spokeswoman.

Fluid collected at the site included fracturing fluids, oil, nitrogen and sand, Tobin said.

Natural fractures in the formation could have allowed pressure from one well to blow out the other, Don Bester, retired engineer and president of the Alberta Surface Rights Group, said in an interview.

The regulator is reviewing hydraulic fracturing operations in the province

I don't know where the first article got the "1.2 kilometre" distance from because the wells were reportedly 130 to 140 metres (425 to 460 feet) apart in the same zone, 1,800 metres (5,900 feet) underground. The blowout involved about 50 cubic metres (300 barrels) of liquids spilled onto the ground.

No doubt the "Wild Stream Exploration" moniker was carefully chosen.

With a transit strike looming...

Cycling in Halifax

If you've ever been frustrated by cycling in the city, you're not alone.

Just how is the bike commute in Halifax? Colleen Jones compared bike and car commutes to find out.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/02/01/ns-video-hali...

Personally, I'll wait until the weather gets a little better.



(1) Irony of ironies, the video started off with a car ad (YMMV). Silly me, here I was thinking that sort of thing happened only in the USA.

(2) Shouldn't there be lots more snow than was apparent in the video?

(3) "Transit strike looming..." Let that teach us to depend on public transit, which is already a tough sell because, really, who is so overburdened with spare time as to have half an hour to wait for a bus?

Cheers, indeed.

With respect to your first point, car sales in Canada are pretty strong (see my post further down). Chrysler Canada, for example, enjoyed record sales in November, December and January and that momentum seems to be building.

With regards to snow, we've had relatively little of it so far this year and it quickly disappears whenever temperatures climb above freezing or the rains move through.

Lastly, in terms of point #3, sadly, it's no longer a threat.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/02/02/ns-transit-st...

HRM could do a lot more to make this city safer for bicyclists by implementing dedicated bicycle lanes and, where possible, installing protective curbs. My biggest fear is being struck by a vehicle.


"We've been picking our work cafeteria style for 104 years. Why all of a sudden in 2012 is it such a big issue?"

The transit service says it can save money by following a rostering system.

Crazy - if there are so many service hours, then there are that many service hours. Did they hire some new MBA fresh out of B-school who wanted to make a name for him- or herself by "saving" purely notional dollars?

I'm guessing that some of these union members make a good amount of coin by working overtime and, in particular, those with the greatest seniority. If that's the case, then I could see why these individuals would be reluctant to agree to anything that might altar that, including the hiring of additional staff to reduce said overtime.


Thunder Horse Update

Here is the latest Thunder Horse Data, updated with the November data.

Thunder Horse production in thousands of barrels per day. The last data point is November 2011.

Thunder Horse

NOTE: There was an error in the September 2011 and October 2011 data in my Thunder Horse data last month. The BSEE web site juggled the months and I did not notice, I copied the bottom data and assumed that was the last month. My mistake, sorry. They occasionally put the latest data right in the middle of the page.

Ron P.

Well, the platform certainly seems destined for early abandonment. The main field looks like it has had a decline rate of about 25% per year for 3 years, and the North field seems to be declining rapidly, too.

I don't think it's going to last the 25-30 years BP projected nor are they going to get anything close to their estimated 1.2 billion barrels out of it. It's starting to look like maybe 5-10 more years of life and around 1/4 of the total oil volume they projected - if they're lucky. We'll see.

Short term performance can be misleading. G14658(Main TH) had 4 'completions' until September when the number of 'completions' dropped to 1. A second 'completion' was brought back on(or a new completion added) in November.

I believe the platform was closed for part of September due to tropical storm(s).

The 25-30 year timeframe may get extended, not reduced. I believe there are up to 3 reservoirs (i.e. 'completions) per well 11 wells standing with slots for 22 or 25 wells.

I don't know if I would be that sanguine about it. I once worked for one of BP's predecessor companies (Amoco) when we lost a major gas field in Northern BC (Beaver River). We put it on production, and about six months later some of the wells started producing a bit of water. Six months after that, all of the wells were producing 100% water.

It was a bad experience for everybody and there were a lot of heated arguments around the conference tables. The production engineers never admitted to knowing what went wrong. It's still a mystery.

Amoco is gone now (taken over by BP) but the field is still there and actually still producing gas. A small company that specializes in challenging fields is recompleting the wells as shale gas wells in shallower formations and trying to get production up to profitable levels. It helps that all the wells are still there and most of the production facilities are still in place.

However Beaver River never produced anything close to what was anticipated and never will. I just hope Thunder Horse isn't a similar fiasco, but it's starting to look that way.

I don't know if I would be that sanguine about it.

I'm niether sanquine or morose. I provided some clarifying information you may not have been aware of.

Sanguine ("marked by high color and cheerfulness"), as opposed to "pale with nervousness and apprehension". The latter was more my usual condition on major projects.

I read your information and didn't see anything that changed my gut feeling that things are going seriously wrong with the field.

I know that the Gulf has hurricanes in the summer because I've been there (not during a hurricane, fortunately, the tropical storms were bad enough), so I discounted the production dips during hurricane season. It still doesn't look good.

I could start asking about the details, but it's what happening under the ground that is important, and most likely the engineers are mystified and are trying to figure out what is going on. Things are probably pretty tense in the executive offices, too. (Just based on past experience).

thanks for the update on the oil cos. poster child for success. not.

TH has a 40% decline rate just from eyeball estimate of chart. I recall reading an article about production levels since 2009 and it stated that efforts to keep production level at 240k per day resulted in large percentage of salt water production and might cause damage to the reservior.

One question, does TH produce much gas? Gas would not make the well any more viable economically but might have ngls that are worth more than the oil?

According to the BSEE web site Thunder Horse does produce gas but no condensate. Of course it is all associated gas and as the crude oil declines so will the gas.

In case you are wondering what BSEE stands for:
On October 1, 2011, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), formerly the Minerals Management Service (MMS), was replaced by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) as part of a major reorganization.

Thunder Horse Gas production in MCF. The last data point is November 2011.
Thunder Horse Gas

Ron P.

The chat is pretty lame. A BP oil economist giving exactly the kind of answers that you would expect a BP oil economist to give . . . vague, optimistic, "innovation", etc.

"It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it."

—Upton Sinclair

'small' but unknown tritium leak in IL

A nuclear reactor at a northern Illinois plant shut down Monday after losing power, and steam was being vented to reduce pressure, according to officials from Exelon Nuclear and federal regulators. Unit 2 at Byron Generating Station, about 95 miles northwest of Chicago, shut down at 10:18 a.m., after losing power, Exelon officials said. Diesel generators began supplying power to the plant, and operators began releasing steam to cool the reactor from the part of the plant where turbines are producing electricity, not from within the nuclear reactor itself, officials said. The steam contains low levels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, but federal and plant officials insisted the levels were safe for workers and the public. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared the incident an “unusual event,” the lowest of four levels of emergency. Commission officials also said the release of tritium was expected. Exelon Nuclear officials believe a failed piece of equipment at a switchyard caused the shutdown. The switchyard is similar to a large substation that delivers power to the plant from the electrical grid and that takes power from the plant to the electrical grid. Officials were still investigating the equipment failure.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said officials can’t yet calculate how much tritium is being released. They know the amounts of tritium are small because monitors around the plant aren’t showing increased levels of radiation, she said. Tritium molecules are so small that tiny amounts are able to pass from radioactive steam from the reactor into the water used to cool the turbines and other equipment outside the reactor. The steam that was being released was coming from the turbine side. The amount of releasing steam helps “take away some of that energy still being produced by nuclear reaction but that doesn’t have anywhere to go now.” Even though the turbine is not turning to produce

Nasa's global temperatures in 2011 – big picture
Researchers at Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies have released their annual analysis of global temperatures


Rare earth waste = nuclear fuel?
The Lynas company say their rare earths plant in Malaysia will produce 20,000 tpa of mildly radioactive waste. My bet is that includes a lot of oxides of thorium and uranium. So far everyone is gaga over rare earth magnets to be used in wind turbine generators. I suspect the magnets have to be replaced after 20 years or so. In the right kind of reactor maybe 1t of the waste product could produce a gigawatt of electrical energy for a year. I'd like to see a comparison between gigawatt years generated or saved by 1t of rare earths versus 1t of thorium used in a reactor.

Brazil nuttiness
At what point does it became a debit if a country razes their own trees? What we have is licensed blackmail. Give me money or the forest gets it. Some tricky questions;
- why doesn't Bolivia pay the US not to chop down the redwoods?
- instead of eating Brazil nuts from the Amazon shouldn't we be eating almonds from a backyard tree?

"I suspect the magnets have to be replaced after 20 years or so. "

If by have to be replaced you mean remagnetized, then you could be right. It's not like magnetic materials evaporate.

Does there exists an internet site which displays graphs of various energy-use measures such as VMT, total and per-capita electricity use, total and per-capital gasoline use, NG use, etc? Perhaps starting with the U.S?

I was imagining an 'energy use dashboard' updated monthly, quarterly, etc.

It would be interesting to have such a 'dashboard' of energy usage figures along with labor/employment participation rates, number of single family homes, inflation-adjusted annual incomes, etc.

The Wolf at the Door hasn't been updated in six years but has something like you are thinking (Wolf at the Door). The oil watch monthly was excellent and is missed by many. I am sure Rembrandt spent quite a bit of time every month compiling that. I would recommend limiting the scope to energy graphs and one would have to search for economic graphs/data or have one tab for energy graphs and a second for economic graphs.

I find this to be immensely useful for watching the Arctic and wish for something similar for energy, too. ->

Arctic sea ice graphs


Thank you for the link and your recommendations.



It would be interesting to have such a 'dashboard' of energy usage figures along with labor/employment participation rates, number of single family homes, inflation-adjusted annual incomes, etc.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/data/ and http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/categories/ have the ... labor/employment participation rates, number of single family homes, inflation-adjusted annual incomes, etc.

and http://www.eia.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/weekly_petroleum_... and other eia links have the ... energy usage figures

It's 'just' a matter of mix and match


Thank you as well for your links and info.


Concerns grow over volcanic eruptions

Scientists have known for decades that hidden under those impressive vistas at sites such as Death Valley and Yellowstone National Park are magma pools that under the right conditions can trigger explosive eruptions.

Now, new research is changing scientists' understanding of the timing of those eruptions, and prompting them to call for greater monitoring of sites to help save lives when the next big volcano explodes.

Not sure what good monitoring will do. It's not like we have any way to prevent the feared "massive ecological and climate damage."

Additional monitoring might alert the public and the politicians to the possibility that one of these big volcanic eruptions was likely to happen within a few years. That might give enough time to stockpile food supplies in an effort to offset the loss of a large fraction of a year's crops. Thinking about volcanoes might make the politicians consider building a strategic food reserve of some sort at a national level, although your average politician doesn't seem interested in planning much beyond the next election...

E. Swanson

I think it just helps to preserve the illusion that we are in control. See, we'll monitor this and "do something" about it if it becomes a problem. Please continue shopping.

The opposition would skewer them for wasting taxpayer funds for a disaster that hasn't happened yet.

That might give enough time to stockpile food supplies in an effort to offset the loss of a large fraction of a year's crops.

Such would have to be on a local/personal level as there is not enough storage space or crops to feed populations AND store.

Russian oil output to record

* Gazprom's condensate production jumps 10 pct

* January output at 10.36 mln bpd vs 10.32 mln bpd in Dec

* Daily gas production edged up to 2.04 bcm from 2.03 bcm


Amazing. The CIA, representative of many early peakers, declared they were good and done back in the 80's. Some oily places are like the Energizer bunny, they just keep peaking...and peaking...and peaking.

Some places.. maybe. But clearly not most.

You expecting a resurgence from Cantarell, Alaska, East Texas or the North Sea anytime soon?

And who in the PO community is leading with just CIA data, and using your favorite exceptions as their base case?

I expect anyone thinking they have seen the last increase in production to consider that there may be another. Otherwise we end up with predictions of peak, such as by the CIA during the 80's of the Soviets, and instead we just get yet another increase in production.

I wouldn't be surprised if there is more production growth from Russia and former USSR states. They clearly were not using the best technologies during the USSR years. And in the chaos of collapse oil production dropped.

That is a lot of land that probably has not be thoroughly explored with the most modern seismic equipment, so I suspect there will be more discoveries in that region of the world.

I wouldn't be surprised if there is more production growth from Russia and former USSR states. They clearly were not using the best technologies during the USSR years.

IIRC modern technologies are preventing decline rates from their mature giant oilfields from not escalating.

That is a lot of land that probably has not be thoroughly explored with the most modern seismic equipment, so I suspect there will be more discoveries in that region of the world.

They will find more giants, maybe more than in other regions of the world. If they manage to develop them quickly the undulating oilproduction plateau will last a few years more compared to how long it continues without discovering and developing them. However, having reached Peakoil, above ground factors could be more important for the shape of the oilproduction curve.

It is true that Russian oil production has kept inching up when most analyst, even those in Russia, has been expecting Russian oil production to be inching down instead. However over 60 percent of Russian production comes from their very old fields in Western Siberia. These fields have an extremely high decline rate but infield drilling with horizontal wells in the last ten years or so has kept them from declining as sharply as they would otherwise. From 2009:

Alex Burgansky: Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts

There are plenty of projects in Russia, both, new projects and existing brownfield projects. Russia is a very mature producer. If you exclude all the drilling activity taking place every year, then Russian organic decline in production is close to 19%. To compensate for that organic decline, Russia drills somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 wells every year.

Wikipedia Megaprojects - Russia expected production in thousands of barrels per day.
2003  2004   2005  2006  2007 	2008 	2009 	2010 	2011 	2012 	2013 	2014   2015
380 	     250 	 80 	155 	570 	250 	585 	150 	60 	120 	15 

EIA Short Term Energy Outlook - Russia All Liquids production, and expected production, in millions of barrels per day.
2011    2012    2013
10.26   10.07  10.05

As you can see Russian Megaprojects is starting to peter out and the EIA expects production to start dropping, but only slightly so.

Ron P.

Actually, the CIA was right - Russian oil production did peak and start to decline. This may actually have contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, since the collapse, Western companies have gone in and are reworking those old Russian oil fields, some of which are vast in scale. The Russians may have completely screwed them up, but not to the point that a lot more oil can't be recovered with advanced technology and improved recovery methods.

So, actually, they will have two peaks - a Communist peak, and a Capitalist peak. The Capitalist peak doesn't seem to be happening yet, but it certainly will, and probably soon.

I don't know that the Russians did such a bad job of developing their fields. The Russians seemingly didn't give a flip about NPV. They developed what they had on wide spacing, eventually making way for infill drilling. Many fields, in Kazakastan for example, were discovered and not developed because they were not big enough by Russian standards. Not big enough, partly because there was very little infastructure, not even roads in some cases. US history is not a good model for Russia. Frick'en Commies.

The Russians are not stupid, perhaps you are familiar with horizontal drilling, made possible by their invention of the mud motor and submersible pumps (REDA). REDA - Russian Electro Dynamo Arutunoff. The Bolshivics may be partly to blame for capitalist's obsession with NPV, and other capitalist folly.


I know the Russians aren't stupid because I've worked with a number of them. There were a lot of them who ended up working in the Western oil industry after the Soviet Union collapsed and they could get out of Russia.

That being said, the conditions in Soviet Russia were not conducive to slow and gentle development of oil fields. The Russians didn't give a flip about NPV because their objective was to meet the goals of the five year plan. Stalin did send people who failed to meet their quotas to the salt mines, you know.

The problem with that is that they didn't care about the long-term consequences of what they were doing, they just maximized production at the cost of everything else. Producing oil fields too fast leads to oil being bypassed and stranded with no way to recover it later.

OTOH, in Canada the regulatory authorities used to cut back our production to a percentage of maximum rates to avoid flooding the market with cheap oil (similar to the Texas RRC, but our limits lasted much longer than in Texas). The effect, not entirely anticipated, was that the ultimate recovery in many fields was significantly higher and the fields lasted much longer than expected.

I know the Russians aren't stupid because I've worked with a number of them.

It was a shock for the Russians when Bobby Fischer took away the chess hegemony from them in 1972 in Reykjavik.

ban - Good points. A few decades ago someone showed me a deal. It was a Russian developed oil field sonewhere around the Caspian. All drilled up on a nice regular grid pattern. Wells tested and knew what sort of flow rate to expect. All logged and cased. Very nice and accurate geologic map of course since they had all the well logs.

And had never produced. I forget most of the details but the hang up was lack of processing and/or transportation system. The pitch was for an expat company to fund the infrastructure build out. Perhaps this field eventually became part of the bump up in production at some point. I doubt this field was the only discovery that went many years before being produced for any number of reasons other than "stupidity".

The Capitalist peak doesn't seem to be happening yet, but it certainly will, and probably soon.

Looking at westexas today posted data, Russian oil export seems to have reached a plateau, yet from 2006 on.

Russian Net Oil Exports (BP):

2002: 5.0 mbpd
2003: 5.8
2004: 6.5
2005: 6.8
2006: 6.9
2007: 7.1
2008: 6.9
2009: 7.1
2010: 7.1

The 2002 to 2007 rate of increase in Russian net oil exports was 7%/year, on track to double in 10 years. The 2007 to 2010 rate of increase in Russian net oil exports was zero.

Do you know when 2011 Russian net export numbers will be available?

For the BP data base, when BP releases their 2012 report, which I believe is generally in June. I suspect that it will be on the net export plateau, plus or minus 7.1 mbpd.

Thanks wt.

Kuwait-Saudi Dorra gas work seen starting in June

Another source said the award of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts is scheduled for December this year. Drilling is on track to start in 2013, the source added.

Kuwait hopes to nearly quadruple its gas output to more than 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) by 2030, including 0.5 bcf/d from Dorra.

Saudi gas production rose to 10.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf) in 2011, up from just 1.65 bcf in 1981, and the world's biggest oil exporter plans to raise its gas production capacity to 16 bcf per day by 2020.


Saudi gas production rose to 10.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf) in 2011, up from just 1.65 bcf in 1981, and the world's biggest oil exporter plans to raise its gas production capacity to 16 bcf per day by 2020.

You can take their word for it. A few decades ago they said KSA could raise oilproduction to 20 mbd if the world would need it. And by the way, KSA is not the biggest oil exporter anymore.

Egyptians blame military for deadly soccer riot

Several lawmakers said the lapse was intentional, aimed at stoking the country's insecurity since the Feb. 11 fall of former leader Hosni Mubarak.

Some accused the police of allowing the riot to happen out of vengeance against the ultras — die-hard soccer fans who are bitter enemies of the police and have been among the most aggressive protesters over the past year.

The ultras, backers of Al-Ahly club, were at the forefront of violent protests a year ago that led to the collapse of the police force, and in more recent months, they have clashed with soldiers during rallies demanding an end to military rule.

Sports and politics combine in Egypt amid renewed anti-government protests.

Egypt football riot: Tension in Cairo as protests loom

Pictures (each) tell a thousand words.

The revolutionary movement in Egypt is far from over.

Sports and politics is a deadly combination that goes back a long way. Fortunately, the modern world has seen nothing like the extremism of the past.

The 6th century Nika Riots almost toppled the Byzantine Throne and led to Justinian killing 30,000 overenthusiastic (and violent) fans to restore order in Constantinople. Now that's hooliganism run amok.

At it seems the revolution is starting in other places.

The fourth day of strikes by truckers continue to disrupt transport across Italy, forcing Fiat SpA to stop production and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. SA. to halt two plants, as protests mount against the government’s austerity measures.

In Canuckistan, we like our Jeeps, RAMs and Caravans....

Chrysler leads January auto sales

A 22 per cent increase in sales propelled Chrysler Canada into top spot in January, displacing Ford.

The automaker said Wednesday it sold 16,584 vehicles last month in its best January since 2002.


Chrysler also reported strong U.S. January sales, with a 44 per cent increase. Ford's rose seven per cent but General Motors’ fell six per cent, as demand for its trucks and crossovers fell when compared to its strong sales a year ago. GM also offered fewer discounts than it did last January.

Analysts are expecting industry wide sales to be up around seven per cent for January, to begin what is expected to be the strongest year for the industry since the recession.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/02/01/auto-sales-january.html...

Hey, why not party like it's 1971?


It's surprising that the gas price signal doesn't dissuade people from buying 'light trucks'.

See table titled "Truck Market Share By Manufacturer — Canada*" at bottom of page 4 of this Scotiabank report. (pdf)

Canadian Light Truck Sales in Thousands of Units

Year Jan-Dec December Year total
2010 853.5 66.6 920.1
2011 895.0 69.0 964

Oh well!

Well, the Canadian economy hasn't collapsed like the US and European economies have, and much of the growth has been in the energy industries. When you are a heavy-equipment mechanic making a six-digit income working in Northern Canada, you tend to buy a heftier vehicle than your average city commuter. Gas prices don't matter because every time the price of gas goes up, the company gives you a raise and asks you to work more overtime.

Right, all those prosperous heavy equipment mechanics in Fort McMurray explains why Canadians bought 964 000 'Light trucks' in 2011.

Looked around and found it hard to find the definition of what is a 'light truck'.

But from this DesRosiers Automotive Consultants report (see table on p.23) it would appear 'light trucks' include...

Compact & Intermediate SUVs,
Small & Large Pickups,
Small & Large Vans

Just an example. Loggers in BC and farmers in Saskatchewan buy 'light trucks', too. OTOH, bureaucrats in Ottawa are not so much into driving big 4x4 pickups to the government buildings, I've noticed.

Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that minivans such as the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan are classified as light trucks. The Caravan is a pretty popular vehicle in Canada (I believe at one time it was Canada's #1 selling vehicle), so it and those like it skew the numbers somewhat -- well, for me they do, as I've never considered a minivan to be a "truck", light or otherwise.

Locally, we're paying anywhere from $1.301 to $1.351 per litre for regular unleaded ($4.92 to $5.11 a US gallon) and based on the mix of vehicles I see out on the streets nobody seems to care. What I find amazing/amusing is that folks can literally pour hundreds of dollars into their gas tanks each month and there's nary a peep, and yet if you threaten to add another $5.00 to their power bill they go ballistic and demand heads to roll. I honestly don't get it.


... pour hundreds of dollars into their gas tanks each month and there's nary a peep, and yet if you threaten to add another $5.00 to their power bill they go ballistic and demand heads to roll.

I'm not all that familiar with the specifics of Canadian governance, but some of the basics might not differ too radically from other places. So maybe they see the gasoline bill as being determined mainly from far away with at best modest local say, while they see the power bill as the capricious and arbitrary construct of a regulatory board or of local politicians? I doubt that the politicians or regulators do much of anything to dispel the latter notion. And after all, if the power bill is arbitrarily political, then they can set it as low as desired, with perfect impunity, no?

It's possible that the public can distinguish between local versus distant factors, although I'm reluctant to give them even that much credit based on the comments you'll find appended to the bottom of various news items. In a nut shell: high pump prices = greedy oil companies. High electricity prices = fat cat utility executives and their massive bonuses (NSP being shareholder owned). So, to the extent that one entity is locally based whereas all the others operate some place far away, you'd be correct.

[I should also note that gasoline prices in this province are regulated by the same body that sets electricity prices.]


It's called an addiction. If you were an addict, how much would you keep paying for your heroin fix?

The U.S. and Canada are the two most oil intensive economies on planet Earth. Large cars are powerful symbols of rugged people conquering the vast frontier, and we drive these cars fast over long distances to confirm that, gosh darn it, we are just as good if not better than those haughty and landed people we left behind in the Old World.

The people are addicted, myself included.

I haven't driven my car since October, 2010 (all of our firm's work is conducted using my business partner's car). Of course, in the process I've ruined another perfectly good battery - again! And I expect that the brakes have seized by now and although I did add stabilizer to the gas, I'll probably have to get the tank pumped out. I seriously doubt that I'll bother replacing it once it heads off to the giant junk yard in the sky (it turns ten in April). I've always owned a car since I was sixteen, the original Dodge Challenger being my first true love, but now I could care less.


Just the Ford Aerostar was really a truck. I drove my 1990 "window van" (short one) as family car and truck for over 20 years, 269K miles. I was lucky to find one with a manual transmission and the Ford 3-liter, V-6 engine. It went pretty good in snow, w/some bags of cheap clay cat litter stowed as extra weight in the rear stowage space. I was in love with my van, and I found a small-time, money-poor farmer (who wanted to "use it around the place") to take custody of it when I bought the 2002 Civic. He was also a mechanic and could "fix" a few things that were needing fixing without having to pay "labor" costs. I couldn't bear to send it to the crusher after all those years of economical, excellent service. As for the engine? It was still runnin'good -- never had the valve covers off. For its time, a truly amazing vehicle.


The Chinese continue to buy up Canadian energy resources:

PetroChina buys Canada shale stake from Shell

PetroChina Co. Ltd. said on Thursday it has signed an agreement to buy a 20-per-cent stake in a shale gas project in Canada from Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the latest in a series of overseas acquisitions by Chinese state energy giants.

The deal to buy into Shell’s 100 per cent-owned Groundbirch assets was completed on Wednesday, PetroChina spokesman Mao Zefeng told Reuters, declining to reveal the value of the acquisition.

Citing market talk, FinanceAsia said in a report on Wednesday that PetroChina was planning to buy the Groundbirch stake for more than $1-billion.

The transaction, the latest in a string of investments by Chinese oil companies in North American shale gas and oil sands, had been approved by both the Chinese and Canadian authorities, Mr. Mao said.

According to Shell’s website, the Groundbirch project, located in British Columbia, has the potential to produce one billion cubic feet equivalents (bcfe) per day and an estimated producing life of 40 years.

Now before the Canadian nationalists here get overly upset, let me point out that British Columbia still owns the mineral rights and will collect royalties and taxes on the production. PetroChina only owns the right to produce the gas and ship it wherever they want, and then only if BC doesn't exercise its right to control production and/or be first choice buyer. PetroChina is also buying the interest from Shell, which is European-controlled, so its a foreign-to-foreign sale of production rights.

The message to the Europeans and Americans, though, is that China is buying control of a lot of the worlds energy resources that might otherwise be shipped to their countries.

and then only if BC doesn't exercise its right to control production and/or be first choice buyer.

Which is still a lot better than what we do down here in the antipodes, afaik.

Northern Forests may be Losing Their Ability to Trap Carbon

The northern forests of western Canada are likely absorbing less carbon dioxide because of climate change, and the decline may be making a bad situation worse, researchers from Quebec and China have concluded. While researchers have seen this happen in tropical rainforests, the new result suggests that this problem could be much more widespread.

... "Our results indicate that since 1963, drought-induced water stress has led to a weakening of the biomass carbon sink across a large area of the western Canadian boreal [northern] forests, with the largest reduction after 2000," they wrote.

The same thing appears to be happening in the American West as well, according to the U.S. Forest Service, although the forests of Western Europe are growing

Tar Sands Project in Bookcliffs Near Moab, Utah

A Canadian company is moving forward with a tar sands project in Utah using an experimental solvent to remove the oil from the sands. This is in a very remote area straddling two counties with very little water, and a political war is setting up over the project.

This should be a bit of a learning experience for them.

The American "tar sands" are considerably tarrier than the Canadian "oil sands". The difference is that the Canadian sands are water-wetted whereas the American sands are oil-wetted, hence the use of the citrus solvent in Utah. The Canadian bitumen can be and is separated from the sand using a hot-water process.

The tar sands area in Utah is semi-desert, whereas the Canadian oil sands are in boreal forest. The difference is that the latter has far more water resources. The Colorado River water is severely over-allocated to irrigation and drinking water, whereas only 5% of the Athabasca River water is allocated to any purpose.

The only significant community downstream of the oil sands on the Athabasca River is Fort Chipewyan, a hamlet of 1000 people. The people in Fort Chip have complained about water problems, but they have several other rivers nearby they could draw water from. Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Angeles have few alternatives to the Colorado.

While I probably wouldn't be supportive at massive scale--At the tiny scale discussed, the water demand is about 160 ac-ft per year. That's about equal to 25 acres of AZ alfalfa. Water use is not a reasonable argument on this scale.

Every drop of water means something in the Colorado Basin. The water appropriations are so out of line with reality, if all of the water appropriated to Colorado and Utah were to be consumed, Lake Powell and Lake Mead would drop below the level of viability in a drought like the one we had a decade ago. The Colorado River compact MUST be renegotiated at some point, but it is such a contentious issue that they just keep kicking the can down the road. Eventually a water right will be exercised that will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and the Federal Government will go into crisis mode. It will be very ugly.

My guess is that last straw will be the kickstarting of oil shale development in Colorado/Utah/Wyoming. Shell and others have already bought massive water rights, but they currently lease the water out and much of it flows down the river. If all of their rights are put into a 100% consumptive use like oil shale production, that plus the associated increase in demand due to the increased population will do two things: kill agriculture in Western Colorado, and cause Powell/Mead to hit crisis levels, which Mead came close to in 2010 even without shale development.

Another potential demand is the 50,000+ acre-feet per year acquired by the developers of a nuclear power plant in Green River, Utah. This water currently flows downstream, and removing 50,000 acre-feet can't be good for the downstream millions.

Just learned of a live chat session this afternoon (2 Feb) [sorry if this has already been posted upthread, I haven't had time to wade through the 200+ messages].

Live Chat: Peak Oil–Is the Well Running Dry?
Today, 3 p.m. EST - How long before the world starts running short of oil? Have we hit the peak of oil production already, or do we have until midcentury?

This week on ScienceLive, we’ll chat with two experts on oil as a critical energy source. They’ll answer your questions on a variety of pressing questions, including whether new technology can boost world production, how the United States might reduce its dependence on foreign oil, and the biggie, how much breathing room we have before the inevitable peak.

Join Mark Finley, the general manager of Global Energy Markets and U.S. Economics at BP and David Greene, a corporate fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a senior fellow of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee as they tackle these questions and take yours live at 3 p.m. EST today .

You can submit your questions before the chat starts or at any time during the live Q&A.

It's already posted. With a link. You don't have to read all comments. Just search on chat.

Iran’s Gasoline Imports Decline as Nation Adapts to Sanctions

... In 2009, Iran imported approximately 130,000 barrels of gasoline per day, but, according to DOE, in 2010 the amount of gasoline shipped to Iran declined to an estimated 78,000 barrels per day, and by July 2011 it had declined to 50,000 barrels per day, according to "Petroleum Intelligence Weekly."

Iran, the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, pumped about 3.545 million barrels of oil a day last month, a Bloomberg survey showed, and exported an average 2.58 million barrels a day in 2010, according to OPEC statistics.

Imports are down because of the conversion of the Iranian auto fleet to LPG and CNG: 2 million autos as of 2010 and 500,000 Iranian produced CNG cars over just the past 2 years. The WSJ stated that at the end of 2009, natural gas vehicles accounted for 1.7 million of the country's 11 million vehicle fleet, and noted: '"Developing CNG industries is one of the most important policies to make Iran invulnerable against the risk of more sanctions," says Mahmoudreza Bagherbeik, who helps manage the government's CNG program.' And here (pdf) we have a Neocon thinktank's 2006 paper detailing Iran's strategy of moving from gasoline to CNG LPG vehicles and noted:

A special committee set up by the government came up with a four-point
program which includes:
1. Conversion of most existing cars to run on natural gas within five years at
a rate of 1.2 million annually. This will begin with conversion of 600,000
public and governmental cars to NGV.

2. Phase out of very old cars (approximately 1.2 million) by 2010.

3. As of June 2007, most of the newly manufactured cars will have to be able
to run on natural gas.

4. Within five years most of Iran’s 10,000 refueling stations will be retrofitted
to serve natural gas.

The Iranian government aims to have most of Iran’s cars running on natural
gas by 2015.

The most recent figures I could find state "Currently, 10,550 CNG nozzles are used in filling stations while more than 2,600,000 natural gas powered vehicles are on Iran’s roads. With $4 billion worth of investments made by the government and private sector, CNG comprises about 25 percent of fuel basket of the country."

From what I can see from the sources I've found, sanctions are doing very little to hinder Iran, which is really a tribute to their people's and government's resiliancy and resolve.

How long can the apparent stability in oil prices last?

'Those seeking a more tranquil 2012 oil market may be disappointed' – IEA Deputy Executive Director

The relative stability in oil prices may be fragile, the IEA’s Deputy Executive Director has warned, with much depending on whether economic malaise or supply-side problems predominate in 2012.

... “Oil prices at elevated levels pose significant problems for import-dependent countries,” Ambassador Jones said in his testimony on 31 January.

“In this regard, [the IEA] estimates that the proportion of total world GDP dedicated to oil expenditures was back up above 5% for 2011, as it was during the economic slump of 2008 and during several previous periods of severe economic downturn. High oil prices may or may not have caused these episodes of economic difficulty, but they certainly did not help.”

Ambassador Richard Jones [Deputy Director IEA] Senate Testimony

Since last September, international oil prices have increased by more than 25%, and reached $100 a barrel for the first time in more than two years on Monday.

It has been claimed by some that speculation on the price of oil was behind this rapid rise. However, data on supply and demand fundamentals for the fourth quarter of 2010 that has recently become available points more towards a market tightening due to stronger-than-expected demand in key consumers and a concurrent drawdown of commercial oil stocks in OECD countries.

Uh oh, someone better get Chris Cook to respond to this article. That target oil price of his 45-55 a barrel in the first half of 2012 seems in danger.

"Relative stability" in oil prices?

While doing some data digging, I was reminded about the euro going public in 2002 (euros were used as an "accounting currency" starting in 1999), and noticed the correspondence of that event with the sharp rise of the dollarized cost of oil, which your chart reminded once again. Finding data reporting oil sales by currency type is very hard to locate, although I do keep trying.

Here's one example of the Brent price in Euros and US pesos;

[source: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2012/01/09/823191/euro-crisis-brent-oil-edition/]

the shapes are similar, but the Brent price rise is $has been 5.5x and in euros has been 4.x

More interesting is that in euro terms, the price now is *equal* to the 2008 peak and in $ it is "only" at 77% of the peak.

I'm not sure which economy is suffering more - neither is doing well!

Petrol prices are now at an all time high here in Ireland, it is now €1.589 a litre. In 2008 it peaked at about €1.25, much of the extra increase in price can be put down to tax hikes.

The last spike in the Euro price must be down to the recent weakness of the Euro relative to the dollar

Wondering if TOD contributors might be able to recommend any current books that present sort of a "where we stand currently" assessment of climate (change) science that is relatively heavy on the technical analysis (some coverage of politics, denialism vs. alarmism etc. is fine too just wasn't interested in something that was all about that aspect of the subject) ?

Thanks for any suggestions !

If you have not read it already you could always start with the IPCC fourth assessment report


Although it's looking a bit dated already, and that's after being watered down by the political process.

IIRC, some of the editors at the RealClimate blog have recently published textbooks, or at a minimum your question would probably get a good answer if posted in the comments there.


Thanks for the suggestions Jerry...

I had thought about the IPCC report but thought that might be too much to wade through - but perhaps the way it is set up offers a summary of sorts (?)

I'll definitely check RealClimate - I used to check them out a bit but haven't been in a while since I can rarely escape the pull of TOD :)


I suggest Skeptical science. It is a more dynamic blog the realclimate. Discussion level is different also.

Deutsche Bank chief Ackermann fears 'social time bomb'

The chief executive of Deutsche Bank has warned of a "social time bomb" from wealth and income inequality.

"We have a social responsibility, because if this inequality increases in income distribution or wealth distribution we may have a social time bomb ticking and no-one wants to have that."

... When cometh the day we lowly ones
Through quiet reflection and great dedication
Master the art of karate
Lo, we shall rise up
And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.

Sheep - Pink Floyd

From the Floyd album 'Animals'. Great music.

I don't listen to Floyd alot but yesterday the song Dogs came up on Pandora...it's as if it could have been written about todays events and attitudes... the more thing change and all that, I guess.

Thanks for reminding me that I wanted to go look up the lyrics !

it's as if it could have been written about todays events and attitudes...

Yeah, and listen to the lyrics of 'pigs on the wing' and 'pigs(three different ones)' on the same album.


"Russian technicians over-pressurized the Soyuz vehicle and split welds on the descent module"


I relate this to the proposition of humans perfectly controlling fission systems.

Actually, this makes me very sad.
Where else is there to go but space?

I used to be human-space-travel star-struck.

Now I think we should concentrate on sorting things out on the planet.

I think there is plenty of 'bang for the buck' in the building and operating advanced solar system planetary/asteroid/etc probes, and in building larger and more powerful space-based observatories, to research everything from cosmology to exo-planets.

The ISS has been an enormous money pit, without much return on the investment, in my view.

Newt wants a Moon colony...why? Some folks go on about He3, and we not even close to demonstrating a pilot commercial D-T fusion power plant, let alone one with He 3 reactions.

There is a WSJ Op-Ed piece today claiming that we can do a moon visit for only $40 billion.

I'm reminded of the claims made regarding the projected cost of putting a pound of payload in orbit via the space shuttle. NASA was off by only a factor of 100 or so. NASA would have been far better off if they had stayed with the Saturn V for a heavy launch vehicle.

The "moon base" was just clowning for the Florida audience... like the "mars mission" a couple of presidents ago.

"They should have buried the space station in the hole they dug for the supercollider" was an in-joke in the late 90's about how the huge projects were pulling all the funds from the broader research and development community.

These are indeed different times. To pursue such things in a state of decline... Perhaps these are adventures for rising, more vibrant powers.

My immediate reaction, however, was "OMG, they popped their space capsule!" and the great contrast that accident has against the "we can maintain perfection" aspect of fission power.