Drumbeat: March 24, 2012

Spread Reckoning: U.S. Suburbs Face Twin Perils of Climate Change and Peak Oil

An excerpt from Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us (John Wiley & Sons, 2012), by Maggie Koerth-Baker.

The researchers' report doesn't cover all of the questions surrounding the idea of peak oil. For instance, they specifically avoid predicting what economic, political, or social side effects peak oil could produce, and their research covered only supplies of "conventional oil"—no tar sands or fuels made from coal or natural gas. This group was also much smaller than the one that evaluates the evidence for climate change—only eight experts, drawn from the United Kingdom and the United States. Yet the project is an important first for peak oil: a group with no obvious bias had collected all of the available research, evaluated it in a transparent way, and summarized the whole body of evidence for non-experts.

Here's what they found. First, peak oil is a real occurrence. We know enough about how oil fields work and what happens during the life of a given oil deposit to say that production of oil will peak, and then it will decline.

Second, figuring out when that decline will happen isn't easy, for reasons I've already mentioned and more. Yet although the data on oil supplies are flawed and patchy and the methods used to forecast future supplies have some serious limitations, the researchers agree that there's still enough information available that we can start to form a clear picture of global oil supplies and make some adequate estimates about how long conventional oil will last. These estimates won't be perfect, but they're necessary, and they'll be accurate enough to help us plan for the future, at least until better data come along.

Oil Rises Almost $3 a Barrel on Iran Report

Oil climbed after Reuters reported Iranian oil exports will drop by 300,000 barrels a day this month because of tighter sanctions.

Futures gained 1.4 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier spiking more than 2 percent in three minutes, following the report, which cited Petrologistics, a Geneva-based consulting company. Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group in Villanova, Pennsylvania, said the gain may have triggered traders’ automatic buy orders.

Stuck with high gas prices, drivers just pump less

Americans have pumped less gas every week for the past year.

During those 52 weeks, gasoline consumption dropped by 4.2 billion gallons, or 3 percent, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. The decline is longer than a 51-week slide during the recession.

The main reason: higher gas prices. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.89, the highest ever for this time of year, and experts say it could be $4.25 by late April. As a result, Americans are taking fewer trips to restaurants and shopping malls. When they take a vacation, they're staying closer to home.

Texas Tops Finds From Brazil to Bakken as Best Prospect

Energy companies in search of oil riches rivaling the biggest finds from Brazil to Angola are flocking to Texas shale, where new wells have triggered a 230- fold increase in crude output in three years.

Uzbekistan closes the gas valve for Tajikistan

Uzbekistan Tajikistan advised that the 1 April ceases to supply natural gas to the country. About this BakuToday 24 March, it was reported in State-run companies “Tajiktransgas.” According to the source, the Uzbek gas in his letter to the Tajik colleagues explain the supply shortage of gas resources. According to reports, two Britons determined to ensure deliveries of Uzbek blue fuel in China and Russia.

Bulgarian Watchdog Caps Gas Price Increase at 13%

Bulgaria's natural gas price is to go up by 12.73% as of April 1, 2012, the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) has decided at a closed doors meeting late Friday evening.

Obama’s Speedy Keystone Review Won’t Accelerate Cushing Pipe

President Barack Obama’s promise to expedite the review of the southern leg of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline won’t speed up the project, which already is slated to start construction as soon as June.

Wealthy Donors Dump Obama Over Climate Fails, Keystone XL Approval

Green donors claim they're dumping Obama after he announced he'll 'fast track' the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline (its southern half, anyway). They're especially mad that the president hasn't even so much as acknowledged the threat the pipeline project poses to climate change, and that he's eager to approve drilling projects to appeal to moderates but won't even discuss global warming in public.

Obama Officials May Study Safety Risks in Fracking Pipelines

The Obama administration may start collecting data on pipelines energy companies use to transport natural gas and oil extracted from shale by hydraulic fracturing, according to a government report.

What goes up...

When Middle East brinkmanship flares, as it is now, mainstream press headlines certainly spike in line with crude prices, but increased demand is a more pervasive, if less sexy, cause of increased oil prices.

And that shouldn’t give any credence to the well-known but misguided “Peak Oil” theory, which states, in short, that oil production has peaked and supplies will soon be exhausted. Much more likely is that oil will become too expensive to be practical long before we run out.

"A Substantial Failure" Of Energy Education

It is a curious thing when a mindset develops. Thoughts, data interpretation, reactions, and behaviors become solidified into expectations about what is normal and what is to come as that sense of normal changes. It's an important process of human development, and it is a particularly interesting thing to look at on a national scale -- and when it comes to American perspectives on energy, attempting to sort out the present situation requires looking at what 'we', the collective USA, have been telling ourselves.

China in a tug of war between two Sudans

JUBA, South Sudan — Soon after South Sudan became independent last year, China opened an embassy here, eager to protect its oil interests. It quickly dispatched its foreign minister and began discussing a huge aid package for this destitute land.

Just a few months later, Beijing finds itself trapped in a bitter wrangle between South Sudan and its former rulers in Sudan, with both countries pressing Beijing to take their side.

Chávez Strengthens Cuban Ties With Plan for Ice Cream Factory

For years Venezuela has been propping up the weak Cuban economy by sending oil. In return, Cuba sends Venezuela other goods, services and manpower, including thousands of doctors. It has also sent military advisers, whose presence has at times caused friction and resentment within the Venezuelan military.

Gulf Keystone bosses' trip to China hints at takeover deal

The bosses of takeover target Gulf Keystone Petroleum have visited China with an army of advisers, leading to speculation that a Far Eastern oil giant could be interested in the company.

Doctors oppose Utah oil refinery expansions

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A group of Utah doctors are leading a campaign against expansion plans at three of Utah's five oil refineries.

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment says the refineries straddling in Salt Lake and Davis counties will only add to an air pollution problem.

Brazil may shift jurisdiction of Chevron case

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A judge in Campos, Brazil, could shift the criminal charges filed against Chevron and drill-rig operator Transocean to Rio de Janeiro, a decision that would remove a crusading prosecutor from the case.

Gulf Dolphins Exposed to Oil Are Seriously Ill, Agency Says

Dolphins in Barataria Bay off Louisiana, which was hit hard by the BP oil spill in 2010, are seriously ill, and their ailments are probably related to toxic substances in the petroleum, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggested on Friday.

Brazil May Invest $3 Billion in Energy Efficiency as Loans Rise

Brazilian businesses may invest as much as $3 billion in energy-efficiency measures through 2020 as banks become more comfortable offering loans that will be repaid mainly through cost savings, according to the International Finance Corp.

U.K. Supreme Court Refuses Government Appeal on Solar Cuts

A U.K. government appeal to bring forward solar-power subsidy cuts was refused by the Supreme Court, which upheld two previous rulings that early tariff changes would be unlawful.

Eurus Energy Considering 40-Megawatt Solar Project in Japan

The company and land owners have agreed to study the possibility of building the plant in Awaji city, Hyogo prefecture, they said in a joint statement yesterday. If built, the plant will start operating by March 2014 and plans to sell all of its electricity to Kansai Electric Power Co., according to the statement.

U.S. Issues Guidelines to Help Wind-Farm Builders Protect Eagles

The U.S. Interior Department released guidelines today aimed at helping wind-farm developers comply with laws that protect eagles, bats and other wildlife from spinning turbine blades.

Neighbors Win Court Round Over Wind Farm Noise

A legal petition aimed at reinstating a state rule for limiting noise at a controversial wind farm in Maine can proceed, a judge ruled on Friday, denying a motion from the farm’s developer, Fox Islands Wind, for dismissal.

Gamesa Picks Scotland for $198 Million Offshore Wind Investment

Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA, Spain’s biggest wind-turbine maker, opted to locate a 150 million-euro ($198 million) offshore wind energy hub in Leith, the port area of the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

Airbus, Boeing, Embraer collaborate on Aviation Biofuel Commercialisation

EADS / Airbus, Boeing and Embraer today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together on the development of drop-in, affordable aviation biofuels. The three leading airframe manufacturers agreed to seek collaborative opportunities to speak in unity to government, biofuel producers and other key stakeholders to support, promote and accelerate the availability of sustainable new jet fuel sources.

Apps, Anyone? Managing Your Energy Consumption

The Apps for Energy contest will begin when a registration and developer-resources Web site go live on April 11. In the meantime, you can register to receive updates. Winners will be announced in May, and finalists will share $100,000 in cash prizes.

As Young Lose Interest in Cars, G.M. Turns to MTV for Help

He and his team are trying to help General Motors solve one of the most vexing problems facing the car industry: many young consumers today just do not care that much about cars.

That is a major shift from the days when the car stood at the center of youth culture and wheels served as the ultimate gateway to freedom and independence. Young drivers proudly parked Impalas at a drive-in movie theater, lusted over cherry red Camaros as the ultimate sign of rebellion or saved up for a Volkswagen Beetle on which to splash bumper stickers and peace signs. Today Facebook, Twitter and text messaging allow teenagers and 20-somethings to connect without wheels. High gas prices and environmental concerns don’t help matters.

“They think of a car as a giant bummer,” said Mr. Martin. “Think about your dashboard. It’s filled with nothing but bad news.”

GM will give owners of plug-in Volt new electric cord

Volt owners are getting another lesson in what it means to be on the cutting edge of auto mobility -- many will need to bring their cars in for a beefier extension cord.

Governor Brown Announces Settlement to Fund Electric Car Charging Stations

Governor Brown joined with the California Public Utilities Commission Friday to announce a $120 million dollar settlement with NRG Energy Inc. that will fund the construction of a statewide network of charging stations for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), including at least 200 public fast-charging stations and another 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations across the state. The settlement stems from California’s energy crisis.

India's Maruti to set up $333 mn diesel plant

India's biggest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, announced on Saturday it will spend $333 million to build a new diesel-engine plant to meet burgeoning demand for lower fuel-cost vehicles.

Companies Pick Up Used Packaging, and Recycling’s Cost

While government requirements for recycling remain limited, pressure from environmentally minded consumers and the cost advantages of reusing materials are bringing change.

Governor discusses state's energy sources at ECO:nomics

SANTA BARBARA — Gov. Jerry Brown spoke Friday morning in Santa Barbara to leading energy thinkers, innovators and heads of business about California's past, present and possible future relationship with power.

Court orders FDA action on antibiotic use on farms

WASHINGTON – A federal court judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to take action on its own 35-year-old rule that would stop farmers from mixing widely-used antibiotics into animal feed, a practice which has led to a surge in dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.

‘Like it or not, unless we have more babies, we need to accept migrants’ – Part II of III

In such gloomy outlook of global economies for at least a decade, the opportunities for our own economic growth are necessarily and somewhat constrained. Adding to our population in this economic climate will not advantage us significantly. Singapore so dependent on food, materials and energy crunch is particularly vulnerable. The era of abundance of resources, energy and water and a much favorable global economic environment is gone. We must not aggravate our risks and negative impact of these deficits by adding recklessly to our population base.

'Greed is the Beginning of Everything'

SPIEGEL: Sure, but what's the right measure? Economists preach growth as the sole remedy. Is economic activity like riding a bike -- if you don't pedal you'll fall over?

Sedláček: I believe that the economy is more like walking: You can stand still without falling over. This reflects the idea of a Sabbath economy. God rested on the seventh day, after he had created the world, not because he was tired, but because he felt that what he had created was good. According to biblical custom, the fields were to be left fallow once every seven years, and debts were forgiven after 49 years. There's a saying that the good is the enemy of the better. It's correct the other way around: The best -- or chasing it -- is the worst enemy of the good.

Apocalyptic anxiety - The last myth

Our sun has several billion years of provident energy left, and the world is not going to end anytime soon. However, the parameters of the world we have known in our lifetimes, fueled by cheap oil, is gradually changing, and it will behoove us to keep our minds open, unfettered by old habits and hyperbolic fears, and prepare to meet new challenges with our uniquely creative spirit.

Utah Asks U.S. to Return 20 Million Acres of Land

DENVER — The conservative political movement that has rallied behind the cry of states’ rights in recent years on fronts including immigration and health care is now focusing its energies on a much older question in the American West: public lands.

On Friday, Gov. Gary R. Herbert of Utah, a Republican, signed into law House Bill 148. It asks the federal government, which owns a majority of the land in the state, to give back more than 20 million acres. A similar measure, passed by the Arizona Senate last month, is awaiting further action in the Capitol in Phoenix. Bills patterned after Utah’s are being prepared for filing next year in Colorado, Idaho, Montana and New Mexico, lawmakers involved in the effort said.

Court Reverses E.P.A. on Big Mining Project

WASHINGTON — In a sharp rebuke, a federal judge on Friday reversed a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke a critical permit for one of the nation’s largest mountaintop removal mining projects.

The United States District Court judge, Amy Berman Jackson, said that the E.P.A.’s unilateral decision in January 2011 to rescind the waste disposal permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, W.Va., exceeded the agency’s authority and violated federal law. She declared that the permit was now valid, paving the way for a mining project covering 2,278 acres to go forward.

Is global warming to blame for the March heat?

No, it’s not your imagination. It’s been freakishly hot across much of the United States this spring, with more than 7,000 temperature records broken since March 12. So Andrew Freedman asked a bunch of climate scientists whether global warming was to blame.

U.S. heat 'unprecedented,' 7,000 records set or tied

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An "unprecedented" March heat wave in much of the continental United States has set or tied more than 7,000 high temperature records, and signals a warming climate, health and weather experts said on Friday.

Mankind kept 2011 global temperatures near record - WMO

(Reuters) - Human activity kept global temperatures close to a record high in 2011 despite the cooling influence of a powerful La Nina weather pattern, the World Meteorological Organization said on Friday.

On average, global temperatures in 2011 were lower than the record level hit the previous year but were still 0.40 degrees Centigrade above the 1961-1990 average and the 11th highest on record, the report said.

Re: U.S. heat 'unprecedented,' 7,000 records set or tied

"Most likely the weird weather arises from natural variation on top of a warming climate," said Michael Oppenheimer, a geoscientist at Princeton and a veteran participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "What we're seeing now is not surprising in the greenhouse world ... It's just the beginning of our experience with the new atmosphere."

With all the attention to the recent round of very unusual warmth in the US, why is it that this report appears on a web site in INDIA? Or, is it that the US MSM don't want to admit that one of the main planks of the Tea Party Republicans is dead wrong???

E. Swanson

It appeared on the US Reuters site as well.

It's often just a matter of timing. Google often picks up the India and UK versions of articles first, just because of the time zone issue.

Here's Jeff Masters on the recent extremes (apologies if this was already posted):

"It is highly unlikely the warmth of the current “Summer in March” heat wave could have occurred unless the climate was warming. "


Just above this he notes:

"However, keep in mind that had we used a century-long climatology instead of using the past 30 years, yesterday's warmth would have been classified as much more extreme, since the climate has warmed considerably in the past 30 years. "

The last 30 years have been extreme already (each decade was the hottest on record at up to that time globally), so we get a skewed view by comparing this month's events with those of the last 30 years. The true extremity of our situation only really comes through when you start your comparison from before about 1980, if not earlier.

It went by with little notice, but during the Bush administration the National Weather Service began using the 30-year data set to calculate variances from "normal."
Was it politically motivated? I think it was.
And it's still being used today.
Scientists and the media are so terrified of being labeled anti-American commie muslims (by foreign-financed Fox news and multi-national energy concerns) that they stay quiet.

My understanding is that NWS uses the most recent complete 3 decades of data as 'normal'. So while I'd be first in line to implicate the Bush administration of manipulating science, I believe what happened during said administration is that the 30 year period of use went from '61-'90 to '71-'00. The period used seems to lag for apparent data compilation reasons, thus we've only recently begun to use '81-'10. I'm happy to be corrected on this if wrong.

clif. I agree with you, shifting the 3decade baseline every decade has been standard practice for a long time.

As with everything to do with oil supply bookkeeping, climate change is all about statistical averaging of data across the entire world.

Global global warming is incremental so that we can't expect large deviations from year-to-year.
As an example, if we look at the chart that Masters posted:

we see that the Rockies are also much cooler than the mean value. So the east and west USA somewhat balance and perhaps the earth gets a tad warmer.

If we actually did change the mean by 10 degrees C in one year, then all the models would be wrong. Same thing with oil accounting, as the statistics could care less if Saudi Arabia increases their output a bit, as those small deviations are expected. But huge changes in oil availability, either up or down are not the way that nature operates.

The other thing is that when the mean temperature increases, the variances also increase, which is really what we are seeing (I think) with the larger weather variability. There is a possibility that the jet stream forked off a weak link and that's what's causing the warmth. In that case, its the probability of that occurring versus the probability of having lots of independent records broken. In Jeff Masters terms, what he thinks is a 5-sigma event is actually a lower-sigma event that has to do with the probability of that large scale event occurring. Masters is assuming independent events multiplied together to get at 5-sigma. That may not be operable.

But as another linked post pointed out:

"That is the point that I feel needs to be stressed, and it's lack of emphasis, in my opinion, is the substantial failure of our energy education."

Unless people understand the probabilities and math, the public always gets pulled around by the nose as we careen from one anecdotal piece of evidence to another. Weather/climate is no different than gas prices/real energy supply in this regard.

Yeah, but what about the extreme disparity in temps? Sure, across the globe we can see overall temps gradually rising, but these greatly disparate anomolous fluctuations may be the initial signs of rapid climate change. Once the weather shifts into some other mode, there's nothing we can do to change it. Is that really what people want to do - accept a changing weather system whatever that may entail?

That is possible and provides the distinction between anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and catastrophic AGW (CAGW).

If this has shifted into a pattern that may become commonplace, it is probably good evidence of the "climate change" part of the equation, and perhaps catastrophic if it affects the rainfall in these areas. Definitely something to consider.

WHT, have you seen this (and many similar studies)?:

"Arctic amplification (AA) - the observed enhanced warming in high northern latitudes...
Slower progression of upper-level waves would cause associated weather patterns in mid-latitudes to be more persistent, which may lead to an increased probability of extreme weather events that result from prolonged conditions, such as drought, flooding, cold spells, and heat waves."


"...accept a changing weather system whatever that may entail?"

That's a very interesting statement. Evolution assumes no levers to control the weather. As an animal, there is no question of altering the circumstance. As a human animal, control has traditionally been the stuff of ritual, dance, prayer, and sacrifice. Sure enough, the prospect of effecting any change mechanically (technically, scientifically)immediately challenges the foundation, power, and commerce of the established practitioners of ritual and sacrifice. These kinds of things should be illegal.

rain sacrifice (no creature is killed in the video)

Well. All the models may be wrong. Who predicted these extreme events this early? Lord, a long life may be a mixed blessing.

Web - while you make some great points and I agree with most of what you are saying, I disagree with your statement about the anomalies (east vs west) balancing each other out.

Where are the hundreds of record lows to counterweight the hundreds of record highs? All time record lows (of which there were none)?

For whatever disagreement we may have on the shape of the anomaly distribution function in the wings, (its probably not Gaussian), the departures in the warm area are more than twice as large as the departures in the cool area.

Just wait until the end of the year, and if the globally averaged difference from the year before is more than a few tenths of a degree, I would be very surprised.

The main law of physics we are watching here is conservation of energy. The energy imbalance due to greenhouse gases is very slight and the progression of global warming from year to year therefore is very gradual.

Most of the other natural temperature variability comes out of heat stores from the ocean, and that requires some sort of upwelling for the heat to get released. Many of the abnormally hot years, such as 1998 were due to the Pacific oscillations. The ocean actually provides a huge buffer to GHG warming and perhaps half the heat gets transferred into a slight temperature increase (due to the much larger heat capacity of the ocean), as the transient climate sensitivity modulates immediate changes.

All I am saying is that if you live by the sword of using large temperature fluctuations as evidence for AWG and you don't consider the entirety of the planet, and don't do the proper kriging of these values, then you will die by the sword when you find out that some large part of eastern Europe into Siberia had some lower than average temperatures during this same time.

One of the most interesting statistics is that during the overall warming we have experienced over the last century, of official USA temperature monitoring sites, only 2/3 have shown an increase in temperature, while 1/3 have actually shown cooling. I looked at the shape of that distribution and it shows a classic bell curve shape. That came out of the U of California BEST study this past year.

That said, if this abnormal warming does translate into a statistically significant measure at the end of the year, all the climate scientists will get re-motivated to figure out what is going on. More than likely, this will go into the category of climate change rather than global warming, as the heat is redistributed.

WHT, you are right, if you are considering global averages (or even annual averages per site). But, a different change seems to be going on, and thats a change for more variability of the weather, effectively the standard deviation of waether variables is increasing. Also many of these anomalies can last for a week up to a few months duration, so measures such as the monthly average per sire are becoming more variable. Perhaps only small changes in the global average temperature, are responsible for signficant changes in the dynamics.

I agree with that and that is why I said the variance will increase as in my original comment.

The average global wind velocity will also increase as the atmosphere's kinetic energy increases with the heat content.

The average global wind velocity will also increase as the atmosphere's kinetic energy increases with the heat content.

I don't see how this follows. There are two sorts of atmospheric kinetic energy, one is pure heat content, which scales with temperature. But the energy in fluid flow, i.e. the winds, this is an entirely different animal. It is driven by a balance between heat diference driven inputs (mostly pole v equator, which is decreasing due to polar amplification). Indeed it is this decrease in polar cortex strength (jet stream), that seems to be drving the increased variability.

Now one thing that may increase is storm strength, as increased moisture allows storms to acquire more latent heat energy. And that can ampify due to positive feedback, the more latent energy a storm gets, the better it as able to draw in moist air, so high end storm strength may be increasing several times faster than average water vapor. But, that doesn't drive global wind speeds.

It is a free energy argument. Energy always gets partitioned into kinetic and heat forms. Coriolis forces never add more energy as that has been there forever. So energetic masses and heat have to get repartitioned if energy increases.

I made a recent breakthrough where I applied a doubly stochastic process to show that wind obeys maximum entropy constraints on two levels -- a local level reflective of the regional effects and then a more granular level based on large scale weather disturbances. A single mean wind speed establishes the distribution. This average wind speed is related to kinetic energy so if heat increases, the global average has to increase.

Then this same kind of argument is used to describe the variability in rainfall. Same thing in that there exists a local level reflective of a single storm and then another level reflective of large scale storms. This is an energy content argument as well if you read the following blog post:

I don't necessarily want to get into an argument on the exact mechanisms but want to point out the statistical physics that one can apply to what scientists consider as more deterministic events.

Don't use the local maxima and minima for arguments, you will be burnt at the same stake by deniers. The NASA GISS temps for 2012 Jan-Feb have been around half a degree, lower than last few years.

But looking to the end of 2012 imparts its own bias - subscribing to an arbitrary calendar - one need only look to 2011 winter over a good portion of the usa - way above normal temps... In my opinion when the body of work of anecdotes begins to take on the massive volume it has to this point - well it becomes clear we have a problem - as Dr Masters alludes to there is nothing natural about these extremes

Jeez I refer to a calendar year because everyone does so and it's the only reference we have as far as time goes. The winter has been awfully cold over vast parts of Asia and Europe compared to 2011, do you want to talk about that too or is the US in someways special as far as climate modeling goes.
Look I am not an AGW denier so don't burn me at the stake, I just pointed out two data points on a table, you want to argue, argue those. Going forward we will see a rise in extremes and that is most probably due to the added heat from two hundred years of C02 added to the planet but to ascribe a particular heat wave or drought to global warming is stretching the science.
You want to bat for GW, use global data.

That's not really true. If you look at the data over time there are increasingly more record highs than record lows in more places, which is exactly the point. Looking at temperature records to make the case for warming isn't the same as justifying the denialist argument that an isolated cold spell somewhere disproves the entire theory.

Just reading all these points makes me wonder about what kinds of climate changes occurred-- and why and how-- at the onset of previous mass extinction events and what their dynamics, lengths and equilibria, etc., before, during and after were. Maybe that's a tall order.

When you think about it, burning fossil fuels (and other greenhouse-gas-emitting activities) at the quantity and rate we humans have been for as relatively short a geological time-frame as we have (~200 years?) seems like a cataclysmic explosion/'event' just begging for a similar response from the climate... speaking of conservation of energy.

Maybe not unlike some events that wiped out much of life on Earth.

If we've been doing this for 200 years- a relative split second- what sense would it make to inquire how far some kinds of conservations-of-energy retro-act, how long before they dig in, their effects, and what insights the geological record might shed in these regards?

I also can't help but think about chaotic variables/dynamics. We don't seem very good at calculating that do we?

The Permian-Triassic event (largest mass extinction ever) is thought to have been linked to release of oceanic methane and runaway global warming...

Then again, it happened a lot slower last time.


Well, humans have dreamed of exploring new planets, as hostile to life as they may be, and it looks like they soon won't have very far to go to do so.

I agree that the oceans have a major moderating effect on weather, but most of that effect resides within the mixed layer above the thermocline, which appears at roughly 100 meters below the surface. Deeper layers are rather isolated, due to temperature stratification. The main connections between the two are the Thermohaline circulation and the upwelling associated with the ENSO process. The warm year in 1998 was also both an El Nino year and around the time of the beginning of a solar sunspot cycle and we may be seeing a repeat of those influences this year.

The temperature data has been the subject of numerous analytical efforts for decades. The notion of climate is a man made concept and the study of climate is the based on the statistics of weather in all it's forms. The measurements of temperature which have been painstakingly collected over decades, from a coordinated effort starting in the 1880's, exhibit numerous well known problems. You are correct that such data sets appear to exhibit a Gaussian distribution and this fact has been the reason that statistical analysis has used the basic mathematical tools available in such efforts.

However, one obvious question is whether the distribution is truly Gaussian, or is it some other distribution. As you have done work on the statistical analysis of oil well production, etc, so you should be aware of this part of the analytical challenge. With AGW, one aspect of the problem is that climate change may manifest itself as both a change in the mean value for temperature and what is usually called the standard distribution. What Dr. Masters has done makes no effort to analyze any change in either, as he just computes the number of SD's from his data base. Also, he is using the most recent 30 years of data, which likely includes some shift in the mean from previous years, a problem which he recognized. Others, such as the BEST group, begin with raw data, which is, data which may not have been corrected station-by-station for known problems. Looking at the BEST data and concluding that it shows a significant fraction of cooling may reflect this problem, although I would not say that such cooling hasn't been real in some locations. Indeed, my crude mental model suggests we will experience an increase in both warm and cold extreme events, which I think will result from increased tropic-to-pole circulation.

Finally, we must realize that it is actually the weather extremes (such as heat or cold outbreaks, violent storms or floods) which tend to cause most direct damage over the short term. If these events become more common, even with only a slight change in global average temperature, humanity will be kicked out of our Goldielocks climate into something much different. Over longer time periods, drought and sea level rise are likely to be the nails in the coffins of out industrial societies. Think of India and Pakistan after a failure of The Monsoon or the US with droughts like that seen in the Midwestern climate record of just the past 1,000 years. I side with James Hansen in thinking that we are headed for massive problems, far larger any seen in human history. I also hope that it doesn't have to happen...

E. Swanson

Excuse my ignorance in the topic, but isn't one of the significant consequences of global climate change the observation that local weather patterns deviate significantly from their historical patterns? A plant/biological entity which cannot not move around easily exists in a particular place because it has evolved to adapt to a specific weather pattern. As that pattern changes materially the plant is going to be stressed. On average precipitation/temperature may be unchanged but locally there can be enough change to be harmful.
Or am I looking at this incorrectly?


This makes sense to me. Everything is local from the standpoint of an individual organism, especially a rooted one like a tree. Too many non-winters and summer-springs like we've had here in the northeastern US and great many organisms are going to wish they had feet.

Must-Read Trenberth: How To Relate Climate Extremes to Climate Change

Locally, things also get better for some bugs and plants. Ticks are ticking happily where no tick has ticked before. Bark beetles are surviving where winter should have reset their populations. Plants are moving into new frontiers. Algae blooms. Mice breed. Beetles kiss.

Chagas disease moves north:


FO - I concur. And I want to pt. out a detail of that posted Masters map. Those who are color challenged such as myself will have to look closely, but the faint pink - the 0-1 SD band on the positive side, starts in east Texas, Ok, KS, NE and the MT/Dakotas line. Count color bands over from there, and you find that the core of the heat - from eastern WI through to New England - is in the 4-5 positive SD band, and central MI is 5+. On the flip side, count blues, and you find that there are only 3 bands, rather than 6(!), so the core of the cold, in AZ & New and Old Mexico, is only 2-3 negative SDs. There is no cold in the 3-4, 4-5 or 5+ range. And that darkest blue patch (and the other small smatterings of it) corresponds to the area from NC, KY, IL, northeast MO,IA, northeast SD, eastern ND, and everything north and east of there, on up into Canada. The depth and breadth of the warmth was MUCH greater than the cold. That said, both were the result of a big dip in the jet stream, so all of the anomalies, in-so-much as they did offset, were the result of the same aberration caused by...? All the AGW impacts that are affecting the Arctic and the NAO, jet stream, etc. IMO. But in any event, the cold anomalies were also the result of the same cause, but the depth and breadth of the warm anomalies were much greater, and off any chart anyone would have posed before this happened.

Good points, and for those of you whose statistics are a bit rusty (or who never took the accursed course in the first places):


5+ sigma is refers to something that happens:

1 out of every 10 million times (for ~5.326)

1 out of every 100 million times (for ~5.73)

or 1 out of every half million times (for 6)

While 2 sigma refers to something that happens:

1 out of every ~22 times

Many orders of magnitude difference, there.

OK. Just be very, very careful assigning a anything greater than a 2 sigma event based upon a mere 30 data points (from the NWS 30 year dataset).

" All time record lows (of which there were none)?"

Last week Spokane had a record snow fall for that late of a date.

Last year they set several record lows, record late dates to reach 70 degrees, 80 degrees, etc. Two years in a row they have failed to break 100 F in the summer, which had been routine.

As the pretty graphs show (the one above and several others over the last few weeks), the Pacific Northwest has been just plain cold for about three years now.

It will be very ironic if I have to move back to Wisconsin to warm up.

Record lows will always be set somewhere, no matter how hot the planet gets.

The overall ratio of new heat records to new cold records has been:

one to one (obviously) on average for the centuries since records have been accurately kept

two to one on average over the last couple of decades

three to one during the summer of 2010

eight to one during the summer of 2011

11 to 1 so far this year

Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, but it isn't a very comforting pattern, imho.

Michael Mann talks about regional counter balances in his newest book. Such anaomalies have always existed. What's different is the pertubation's volitility--the higher swings measured at both ends of the scale and their increased frequency as the planetary climate system seeks equilibrium. And since the baseline global yearly temperature continues to increase, the liklihood of record lows offsetting record highs becomes ever more unlikely. But somewhere on earth did experience record lows, we just don't know where.

OK, I suppose. Anyway, there's the other warming story today:

Is global warming to blame for the March heat?

That posting is a commentary on the WaPo Blog, not a story which appeared on the main site or in print, AIUI. I think that commentary is rather on the mark, as the author points out how difficult is find the effects of AGW, given the natural variability. I've followed the repeated instances of temperature extremes for more than 20 years and what has just happened in the US is so far from our experience over the period of available temperature data that no explanation other than AGW appears plausible. What I want to know is, what will it take to kick the denialist into accepting this new reality, so we can get on with actually doing something about it? Or, will they just keep on Waiting for Armageddon and the return of JC to make things "right"???

E. Swanson

The WaPo article ended by saying "what really matters":

"Although better attribution studies could shake up the legal landscape down the road. As Peter Stott of Britain’s Met Office Hadley Center has pointed out, it’s quite possible that we could see more lawsuits being brought against polluters for climate-caused natural disasters in the years ahead. In that case, he notes, “there would be a requirement for objective and scientifically robust information” on the causes of specific disasters."

Give me an effing break!!!!! There is already overwhelming evidence way beyond any requirement. The scientists characterizing Global Climate Change all agree that its happening and they've tested this and found it to be true. The only dissent is being manufactured by the scientists hired by the oil and coal companies, using the same tactics as those used by the tobacco companies to manufacture dissent.

The only dissent is being manufactured by... the oil and coal companies...

"Growing up as an evangelical Christian, Jonathan Dudley was taught that... environmentalism (was)a farce."


I have to think that the CC piece about it being 'Manmade' has to be particularly frightening to people who live in a religious culture that has only retained a very thin set of rituals for self-forgiveness over 'Sin'.

When so much of the focus is just on repentance and that putting it right is all in His hands, how do you get past the overwhelming suggestion that you are killing your world? Of course, not all Christians are like this, and many have worked hard to support environmentalism, engage in real actions and take responsibility for our world.

Wendell Berry, Baptist

Thomas Berry, Catholic
" "It takes a universe to make a child," he said, adding that he was "trying to establish a functional cosmology, not a theology." The amazing, mind-boggling cosmological perspective, he felt, can resuscitate human meaning and direction. The most important spiritual qualities, for Berry, were amazement and enchantment. Awe is healing. A sense of wonder is the therapy for our disconnection from the natural world." http://ncronline.org/news/ecology/thomas-berry-environmentalist-priest-dies

The "caretaker" framing is beneficial.

There is already overwhelming evidence way beyond any requirement.

Then start suing if you believe this.

I'm guessing the bar of proof for law is a tad different....

Climate change has to compete with the economy and other harder-to-ignore stuff for peoples' stress tolerance. This unseasonably warm weather has actually saved many folks a lot of money, short term; what's not to like? Besides, most people tend to stress over things they think they can control and let go of things they can't.

As for the MSM, there isn't much that they can use climate change for to sell stuff. It's all about money to them (and their audience). The closest they come are the "cheaper, cleaner" natural gas commercials.

Perhaps we need to wait until August when folks are paying obscene cooling bills; revisit attitudes then.

The year without a winter may be the year without a summer resulting in a year without a temperature deviation beyond the incremental, in the Americas.
Farmer's Almanac likes this scenario for the heartland:

Or, the extra-weird modes of air and water currents span two years and it's a fry or a chill over the next months.

Or, the very warm here balances against the very cold there and this summer is very normal right where you are.

This all makes planning really hard. That is what I have come to appreciate about the new weather.

What I want to know is, what will it take to kick the denialist into accepting this new reality, so we can get on with actually doing something about it?

When the farmers from Texas north to the Dakotas realize that they've been lied to by their Republican lawmakers and Fox news whey will not be a happy lot. My question is this.....how many years of crop failures, attributed to extreme weather as a result of AGW, will it take for them to wake up??

Several months ago, I attended a lecture by Alyssa Burgin who is the founder and director of the Texas Drought Project. She alluded to having conversations with farmers from West Texas and the Panhandle in the aftermath of last years devastating drought. These farmers are beginnig to realize that changes are occurring, however, they are not ready to talk about the fact that these changes may be due to AGW. Will they wake up in time?? We can can only try to educate and inform them one farmer at a time.

I will grant you that the use of the word dumb was inappropriate. I will admit that I am feeling a lot of rage right now as the chickens of ignorance and denial are coming home to roost. But I am fed up with people who can't or won't see what is happening.

You are probably correct that farmers are no more deluded that the average citizen.

Rage is fine. It is understandable. I often tell young people that if I was in their position that I would be burning down the house. But what do we actually do?

I have been following these issues (environmental at least) for over 40 years. It is remarkable how accurate the long range predictions of trouble have been. Weather Peak Oil or Climate Change.

Lot of solutions are proposed but they all fail the core test. How do we reduce population in time to avoid catastrophe? I do not see how to do it. I suspect that the population reduction will come but it will be inadvertent and ...beset with issues.

At that point we will hopefully still be able to pick up the pieces, learn from our mistakes, and continue on with some attempt at our search for meaning is this strange universe.


The main point is that farmers are not in control, either.

They are essentially surfs of agri-business, just as just about all the rest of us are serfs of FIRE or other major portions of the 'economy.'

Like good minions, they vote the way their overlords tell them to.

But I do think the rage--among the young, among the workers, among the farmers, among the many dispossessed...--will soon break out in a furious flame that will not easily be quenched.

A little statistic that popped up during the local "farm and ranch news," run by a GOP-oriented "news" network, says a lot: out of every dollar spent by Americans on food, less than a dime goes to the producer on the land. Advertising, transportation, commodity traders and agribiz gets the other 90s cents.
My guess is that most people in agriculture who actually live on the land know exactly what's going on with climate. They're independent but also addicted to subsidies. They've been sold out by politicians for so long that all they expect is lies.

Will they wake up in time?? We can can only try to educate and inform them one farmer at a time.

It poses an interesting question as to what would people do if they all got on the same page, i.e. woke up to climate change? Well, our only choice is to greatly reduce use of FF, but how? Don't get me wrong, I understand AGW and agree with it, but would society actually do much of anything? People dance to the tune of whatever is economically advantageous, irrespective of the environment. In fact, the Santorum's of the bible belt believe in our dominion over the planet, that we can trash the ^*%$ out of it, that its our right and their belief system even goes so far as to claim God would never do anything to harm us. Now that's a recipe for disaster, but the country tends to follow those people, not the scientists warnings.

No they will not do anything because they really cannot do anything. The world runs on fossil energy. If we stopped burning fossil energy people would start to starve. Starving or global warming, that is the choice. Which do you think people will choose?

Energy policy of the People's Republic of China

China currently generates around two thirds of its electricity from coal-fired power stations.[19] It is progressing with the construction of 562 new coal-fired plants over the next few years.[35] In June 2007, it was reported that an average of two new plants were being opened every week.

Folks, we talk about action here in the US and in Europe, Canada and Australia, but the problem is a world problem. The worst offenders are in China and the rest of Asia. And they are going to do absolutely nothing. Well we will also do absolutely nothing also but that's another story.

Anyway, the price of oil will rise a lot faster than the sea level. Peak oil will hit the world a lot sooner and a lot harder than global warming. But then no one will do anything about peak oil either.

Ron P.

Starving or global warming, that is the choice.

Between a rock and a hard place, a conundrum from which there is no escape. Really is interesting how we face the end of the oil age from two fronts, AGW & peak oil. People have committed to the FF train in so many ways, from a 7 billion pop., millions of miles of paved roads, tunnels, bridges for transport, food production, electricity generation from burning of coal particularly in China. So much complexity built into a system over numerous decades that we are unable to veer from this course, because to do so would be suicide in the form of starvation, but to stay the course is dire too. But given a choice we choose to face the stiff wind of hard outcomes with our boots on so to speak, burning the FF as long as the economy will support that action.

People will choose eating beyond worrying about AGW. The coming explosion of food prices (after PO) will cause billions to starve. I'm thinking within 10 years we will see major problems. I'm betting the dirty techs of GTL and CTL will become widespread before the price of oil reaches $200. If so, this will just accelerate AGW. And, even if the USA did something to prevent AGW the rest of the world will most likely do nothing. It's like we're on a slow moving Titanic - and without life jackets.

"even if the USA did something to prevent AGW the rest of the world will most likely do nothing."




Ok, I'm good now.

You do realize that the US is THE global foot-dragger on every climate treaty that has ever been proposed?

If so, then why do you post such utter blather.

If not, why pretend you know squat about that which you don't?

I was going to make some comment about the greatest proportion of people burning the greatest proportion of oil - but nobody else is going to do anything? Who is supposed to start, then?

But somehow your comment was more eloquent.


It was pretty mind-blowing that America's only action at Kyoto was to try and gum-up the works. There's Cancun:
But I don't know exactly what was achieved.
Boy, I wish I had a catalog of all I didn't know. I could build my house atop it and avoid the polar melt waters.

As Ron just said.

Even if we all pretty much got on the same sheet of music and REALLY started trying to mitigate carbon emissions and cut back on energy consumption the LAST place we cut to the bone is the growing of food. Farmers are part of the problem, as we all are, but theirs is the KEY profession standing in the way of the Mad Max scenario.

We have 7 going on 8 billion mouths to feed. As per capita energy consumption and access to liquid fuels goes down in the future we absolutely must maintain food production sufficient to keep the lid on. As an organic farmer myself I have no hesitation in stating that organic agriculture cannot feed those 7+ billion people unless it fully adopts the same industrial techniques used by chemical based industrial farming. Sustainable/organic practices have no chance of feeding those mouths.

How many of our readers here are aware that most of the organic produce grown in the US is from very large industrial farming operations? Why? Because the small local organic farmer, like myself, is simply incapable of growing enough food to make a meaningful contribution to the vast pile of calories needed to feed those 7 billion people. Low energy consumption farming will not dominate until the population once again reaches the numbers (or more likely half the numbers) of people that existed last time that kind of farming dominated. Fossil fuels made lots of people and you have to get rid of them before you can switch back to the methods of the past. Before then it is just not possible.

The core problem is not Peak Oil or AGW. It is over population. Unless you can snap your fingers and vanish about 6 billion people or the Rapture comes there does not seem to be a way out of this situation we find ourselves trapped in.


"How many of our readers here are aware that most of the organic produce grown in the US is from very large industrial farming operations? "

I am very well aware of it.

But I think (as you are already doing yourself!) we don't have to 'get rid of them' before we switch back to 'methods of the past.' I bet you are not, in fact, using 'methods of the past' exclusively.

We don't have to ignore what we have learned about soil fertility and other things to get to a sustainable place again.

We do have to vastly reduce the amount of protein we expect to get from meat.

We do have to stop feeding our cars (and our cows...) with human food.

We do have to live more like the way the British did during WWII when they reduced their domestic petrol consumption by 95%, along with big reductions in meat and dairy, and enormous improvements in general health!

Yes, we cannot go on with our large population and increase.

But the US, when you multiply consumption and population, has a population equivalent of something close to the whole rest of the world.

Vast reductions in consumption can make:

Alternatives viable sources of energy

Feeding current population possible

Preservation of ecosystems thinkable


I always find it interesting when a bunch of

relatively well off, middle aged to elderly, white, first world, males

get together and decide the world basic problem is the essentially the fault of

poor, young, colored, third world, females.

It just all seem a teeensy weeensy bit too.......convenient?

As I knew you would be.

Yes what we want to be doing is managing a transition as fast as we can. But it takes time and is certain to largely fail minus the reduction in population.

Agriculture cannot really be sustainable and I think that most folks have sort of an general understanding of that in a long term sense. There are, of course, gardening techniques such as permaculture that could probably approximate the sustainable ideal. But those techniques would be hopeless in feeding billions. Unfortunately.

A lot of the problems with meat production, as you indicate, are the methods being used. Cows should not be feed corn and various other items that they did not evolve to consume. Land that corn can be grown on should be used for growing human food, etc.

In a discussion about food consumption one should probably avoid including other kinds of consumption. For the US, if we left out all consumption but food, the population equivalent would not be anywhere near equal to the rest of the world (in your example the actual number for total consumption would probably be closer to 25% of the world vice equal). But in food consumption we are higher than average certainly, but not much above the other industrial countries and only about 2 times the poorer countries. Every adult needs at approximately 1800 calories a day and the US obese are probably consuming no more than 3000 a day. But your point stands. Meat should be consumed in moderation and grown in an intelligent fashion.

Much of the issue with food is not the energy in production but rather the energy consumed in transportation, storage, and cooking. Those later 3 items account for the bulk of the energy consumption related to food.


Good points all. I think we are basically in agreement.

We are almost certainly heading into a major die off.

My only point is, it didn't need to be that way.

As you say, with processing, transportation and other energy wasters, the average US consumer, even if not an obese glutton, is likely to use vastly more energy in his diet than most in the developing world.

We are almost certainly heading into a major die off...

But where and when this hits hardest is not clear. For example, almost all of Africa and much of the Middle East is enormously dependent on food calories imported from the big grain producers in temperate climates: the US, Argentina, Australia, Canada. If production in those countries falls, or intercontinental bulk transport becomes impractical, westexas' ELM almost certainly applies to grain as well as oil. That is, reduced production in the grain-exporting countries doesn't result in food shortages there; it results in food shortages in Africa. At least one of the factors triggering the Arab Spring uprisings was higher prices for food driven by increased cost of imported grain.

Or perhaps East and Southeast Asia, where Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and the Philippines are four of the eight largest wheat importers in the world. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia are four of the six largest corn importers in the world.

Generally, I assume it will hit the world's poorest hardest and fastest. A double shame since they did the least to create our current insane situation.

But, yes, isolated places like Japan and South Korea that depend on imports may be close seconds.

But I think even in "lands of plenty" like the US there will be (have been) much hardship since the whole system is not set up to help the most people but to make the most money for the very few. No one should currently be food insecure in the US, but the last I checked the number of food insecure here was already something like 50 million (iirc).

Our whacky economic system will mean that many will starve just a few miles from millions of acres of crops.

Much of the issue with food is not the energy in production but rather the energy consumed in transportation, storage, and cooking. Those later 3 items account for the bulk of the energy consumption related to food.

I believe you left out the part about the average U.S. family wasting/throwing away approximately 1/4 of the food they buy...

Good point. I have also seen that number before. I sometimes wonder if that number comes from a look at the total food supply and estimates of total wastage.

In our house it is not even close to 25% of the food being discarded. And I wonder if it is really that high once the food reaches the specific family house.

In food production there is a lot of wastage. No where near 100% of a crop that is grown ever makes it too the individual houses. At harvest there will be a certain amount of produce which is too damaged to be salable, some will be damaged during packing/shipping, some will spoil or age beyond salability before the stores can move it, etc. I sometimes wonder if a lot of those losses are being included in the total losses which are used to calculate the 25% number you quote.

From my experiences selling at the local level direct to consumers it is hard to achieve sales greater than 75% of what is grown. Some crops are much worse - maybe 50%. We preserve some of that and the rest goes back into the giant compost piles and gets turned into some other crop later. A a great loss of energy I might add.

In any case there is a lot of wastage. A very hard thing to control. On and old fashioned mixed farming operation the waste produce is great feed for some of the animals (bacon anyone?) and generates meat protein and free compost churning by them rooting around (saves using the tractor to turn the stuff).


"We do have to live more like the way the British did during WWII when they reduced their domestic petrol consumption by 95%..."

They burned wood in their cars and "vaporizing oil" in their agricultural equipment. An entire cottage industry sprang-up to make the 2"x2"x2" cubes of wood for the gasifiers. Ferguson made tractors that ran the new fuel over the exhaust heat so the engine could run on a paraffinic.

Check out the first few minutes of this movie:
I Was A Male War Bride (1949)


...Of course, you don't want to get any Tractor Vaporizing Oil on your tractor.

"Starving or global warming, that is the choice."

Well.....why do you think GW will not lead to lots of starvation???

The fact is that right now there is more than enough grain to feed everyone even without ff if everyone converted to a mostly non-meat diet (and of course if we gave up on ethanol).

Have you seen the temperature anomalies this March?

Do you know what five sigma means?

Do you know what forty degrees F higher than normal would mean this summer for people? Crops? Livestock?

Do you know what the lack of nighttime normal low temperatures this time of year means for pollination of many plants?

As I said before, I have no particular interest in "my doom is doomier than your doom" arguments.

It may be that PO is the more immediate threat.

But, again, as I said before, humans lived for millions of years without using fossil fuel for energy.

Humans beings have never


lived with atmospheric CO2 levels at their current levels of near 400ppm (mostly we have enjoyed levels well below 300ppm).

We have never lived in a world that is rapidly heating up at current rates--in fact it is likely that no species on earth has every lived in such a rapidly heating global climate.

You may be right that PO will hit the (human) 'world' "a lot sooner and a lot harder than global warming," but may I humbly point out that peak conventional light sweet crude did in fact pretty clearly already happen way the f back in 2005.

Yet, here we are.

Still waiting.

(Tapping shoe on pavement....)


As a farmer I want to point out something in relation to your comment about growing only vegetables/grains and giving up, or mostly, giving up eating meat.

There are two things to keep in mind when this idea is put forth.

One. The gigantic world harvest of grains is hugely dependent upon industrial and chemical farming techniques. Absent them the harvest will be MUCH smaller and subject to more frequent crop failures. Also, without the industrial capacity to ship those grains you find yourself in another corner.

Two. Not all arable land is suitable for raising vegetable/grain crops. Much is either too arid or steep or has other problems. A lot of this land is quite suitable for grazing and a very large amount of meat can be grown on this vast acreage of land. It would not make sense to take it out of such production when we are likely to need the food.


W, thanks for your insight, and even more, thanks for your work as a farmer.

As a thoughtful farmer, I'm sure you are aware of the work of the Rodale folks that shows that non-ff run farms can actually be MORE productive of calories and nutrients per acre than ff-intensive farms.

The rub is, you have to have lots of thoughtful, well trained farmers on that land to harvest these kinds of yields.

So again, I commend you for being such.

Here's to hoping for a world

where farmers get the great respect they deserve

where everyone has enough food to live on

where humans do not negate the possibility of most other species on the planet thriving

and where all understand that enough is indeed enough

Rodale is a great resource. I am aware of that kind of study, but you hit the nail on the head. It takes a HUGE number of farmers on small farm operations to accomplish that kind of farming.

Sometime in the future I expect that, once again, a large percentage of the population will be farmers again.

One problem, among many, with having this happen is it will require (here we go again with repeating history) a lot of struggle to redistribute land to the peasants. We are quickly heading for a situation across the entire world where most of the productive land is held be the very rich or corporations. Is that workable? Will all those new farmers be tenants or sharecroppers (or slaves). Or will we find a way to put the land in their hands (assuming they don't take it of course).

May your wishes come true.



Wyo - where ar you farming? In high plains? Do you think small scale farming can support your market population? Seems to me rail and larger scale food production will continue to serve population in these places. I'm grower in Washington - wondering how economy of scale differences can ever allow the small producer to compete in the commodity market.

Very much like the global warming vs peak oil conflict...


No not on the plains. I use Wyoming because that is where I was born and raised. Nostalgia. Rockman probably kicked me off one of his rigs for being a trouble maker 40 years ago out there.

My current farm is in Virginia. We are in the process of selling it and plan to buy a bigger one in a more rural location.

As you imply, farming in the high plains is difficult and they are not capable of growing (using old fashioned methods) a full healthy diet. It is a country ideal for meat production (sheep and goats would be better than cattle and bison would maybe be even better). They need imported food as you point out. But that story is repeated in different verses for locations all over the world. My daughter lives in Phoenix. That place should not even be inhabited and likely will not be again some day.

There are places where (assuming land redistribution) where a large number of smaller farming operations could supply a very significant percentage of local food requirements. For example, there is enough decent farm land around DC that if it was all being used properly the entire population could probably be fed adequately. And, naturally, if the superb land in the Midwest was no longer in production for corn and soybeans for livestock, but used for human food production they could easily feed all the cities of the Midwest.

I know of what you speak when you mention the difficulty of making a living trying to compete with industrial operations. In my opinion you cannot directly compete. They have too many advantages. In this area it is almost impossible to make a living farming unless you inherited your land or bought it decades ago. No young person could even have a prayer of starting from scratch here unless they receive significant subsidies from family or wealthy folks who are motivated by wanting to help young farmers succeed.

In my experience small farmers must go the farmers market routes, direct sales to neighbors (CSA type operations), local accounts like restaurants, etc. One has to stay away from the wholesale world. I would like to see large urban entities start contracting with small local farms (or several of different kinds) for their entire production. This simplifies the farm expenses as selling at farmers markets and through CSA's is energy intensive and time consuming, thus cutting into a small farms potential profits and time available. I think a lot of people underestimate the amount of land one needs to make a profitable farm. A few acres if fine for growing food for your family, but you need to have 10-15 acres of crops to really have the minimum base to make a farm operation work in today's world. Folks forget that they have to pay property taxes, hire labor, pay for equipment, have a place to live, etc. It takes a lot of veggies to pay for the basic infrastructure and other needs.

I see no conflict between AGW and Peal Oil other than academic discussion on which will cause the most trouble first. Both will crush us. One first and then both together. It makes little difference which happens first.

Best of luck to you.


So we'll need many new farmers and farm workers before too long. Besides land, there's equipment, skills and knowledge to be acquired. My personal experience is that none of this comes easy and it takes many years. Besides Wyo, OFM, Richrd and a few others, how many here are giving it a try? Right now, the accepted cultural definition of 'farming' is pretty narrow. How might that change in the future? Are climate, economic and social conditions changing too quickly now for the slowly increasing population of new farmers to keep up, or will we end up in a sink-or-swim situation? What's the time span?


Right to the heart of the problem. Yep, we already need lots of new farmers. The average age of farmers in the US is about 59 years old. That is a really bad number when one looks out just a few years.

Fortunately there are lots of young folks who have become very interested in becoming farmers and I expect that this number will grow dramatically in over the next 10 years. The real trouble comes with them obtaining the land, equipment, knowledge, skills, capital resources, rebuilding the rural business/small town system needed to support small scale farming, etc, etc.
Yes, all of that stuff comes very hard.

In the olde days, when a large percentage of the population lived on real family farms, the new generations started learning how to farm when they were about 5 years old. They were productive workers by 10 and many (like my father) were working 12 hours days behind the horses by the age of 12. As the parents aged the young slowly took over the reins of the farms and continued on. The land, capital, infrastructure and knowledge/skills were all in place. With less than 1% of our population living in this way we no longer have the ability to transition between generations any longer and we no longer have the critical mass of older farmers to even train the young folks who might decide to show up and say "Teach me". Plus the land is mostly held in very large blocks (think 2-3000 acre corn/soybean, wheat operations, large pet horse properties around the cities, inefficient cattle operations, etc). To recreate the kind of farming we will need again in the future would require dismantling those giant farm operations. Not a trivial issue at all!

What will growing food be like in 20 years? Some guesses. Gardening in the back (and front) yards will be the norm for most everyone who had lawn space. Suburban farmers will be common. That is people who live in suburbia but are full time farmers. They will be farming common areas, what used to be parks and the large lawns surrounding many McMansions. They will have housing in those communities and will keep their equipment in the garages where the SUV used to be parked. Water for irrigation will be collected from the roofs after rains. Kunstler is wrong when he states that suburbia will dry up and blow away. In areas like Phoenix the entire cities will eventually go away, but in areas with good climates and decent rainfall suburbia is quite suitable for small scale farming and large scale gardening. Plus it has a lot of infrastructure that can easily be converted to small scale business and small town structure.

Big agribusiness will still dominate in total food production and especially when it comes to bulk commodities like corn (for people), wheat, rice, beans. The efficiency of what can be accomplished in farming using giant fossil fuel powered machines simply cannot be replaced via any other means. And don't forget that 20 years out the ocean harvest is likely going to be much smaller and this will increased the food production load requirements on arable land a significant amount. Until population is decreased we MUST grow vast quantities of commodity food stuffs. That can only be done via industrial methods. If those methods fail the population fails and that leads to Mad Max.

Can conditions change for the worse before this can be accomplished? A distinct possibility. But not a certainty. We have to try in any case. Will we end up in a sink or swim situation? I expect the answer to that to be yes, but I think the timeframe is further out than 20 years. By 50 years I think we have either significantly rebuilt our civilization and are undergoing a dramatic population reduction or we are toast. If the population actually hits 8 billion let alone 9, I cannot see how there is a way out. The odds are not in our favor in other words. But we soldier on.


Yes, I watch my neighbor drive her Cub Cadet around a five acre plot twice a week and appreciate the vast acreage to be reclaimed from lawns. Not to mention all the frustrated suburban 'farmer energy' that could be redirected to more productive ends.

Keep in mind that in many suburbs the 'organic' (= topsoil) has been essentially scraped off the land. So another thing that these suburban farmers will have to do is build soil.

Of course, this is true of many urban farms--though they were largely spared the scraping off of top soil, the soil is often so contaminated that the same process has to be undertaken or one has to start from raised beds (a good idea any way, for many reasons).

I know someone who has a farm in a nearby parking lot. He didn't tear up the lot, just set raised beds on top of them, as well as columns of wire stuffed with soil and straw where he grows potatoes, tomatoes and squash (iirc).

Here's a video tour of his farm:


So there are lots of possibilities for even turning vast parking lots into productive land. But it takes a lot of skill and other resources.

Probably full of builders rubbish too.


"They were productive workers by 10 and many (like my father) were working 12 hours days behind the horses by the age of 12"

Very true, but don't use only the rose-colored glasses. A lot of kids were hurt on the farm, deaths were far from rare. The government thinks it's a big enough problem to get involved, (but then the government always want so be involved.)


The first pass exempts children of farm families, the next version probably won't.

I drove tractors on friends' farms at 8 (simple stuff like pulling a hay trailer while bales were pitched to cows, or moving equipment from one place to another). I knew kids who were operating loaders, feed trucks, manure trucks, graders, etc at that age. Anybody who spent time around a dairy got to buck hay by the time they were 12. I was wiring electrical panels at age 6, and worked as a Davis-Bacon electrician in high school. I took 2nd at state in the AZ FFA Ag Mechanics competition (for high school students) at about age 12 in 1991-92. My ex-girlfriend was running a masonry crew for her Dad at that age, another buddy was doing HVAC (he took first at state in a high school HVAC VocEd competition at 15 or so). Another family friend was doing pesticide application at that age, she got licensed in Utah as a kid. My nieces were doing flooring by that age. Many of my friends were welding well before high school--including several girls from wealthy (private jet) farm families. I don't think child labor in the form of paid labor for corporations or strangers is a good idea, I do think that being prevented from doing and learning in the caring environment of home, family, and friends is a bad idea.

"Until population is decreased we MUST grow vast quantities of commodity food stuffs. That can only be done via industrial methods."

This points up how much modern industrial agriculture is like an addiction--the more we use it, the more we seem to need it.

I agree that going cold turkey would be very...difficult.

But we have to have a clear goal of moving steadily away from it as fast as is feasible.

Keep in mind that it is not the goal of industrial ag to feed the world.

Their one and only goal is to make the greatest profit possible.

If we has a system whose stated function was in fact to feed people with the good food, all sorts of things may become possible.

"Until population is decreased we MUST grow vast quantities of commodity food stuffs. That can only be done via industrial methods."

In which case there will be NO population decrease. It will be cold turkey, one way or the other, I fear. It's not like "the population" will "be decreased" any other way.

Same thing with "some large percentage of grain is grown to feed livestock, and could be used to reduce world hunger". Do you think that grain would be grown if it wasn't going to be used to feed livestock?

It's not like "the population" will "be decreased" any other way.

Horseman Death http://goodomenslexicon.org/entries/death.php will still ride.
And while food/energy production issues have kept http://goodomenslexicon.org/entries/famine.php at bay, do not forget the poisoning of the biosphere by http://goodomenslexicon.org/entries/pollution.php

And Horseman http://goodomenslexicon.org/entries/war.php is known to ride with Mr White creating more spots of destroyed biosphere to drive down population.

Lower food levels may help bring Pestilence out of the 1936 retirement what with weakened immune systems.

Wyo, and others:

You might be interested in this little "our farm" video history. I met this lady back in 2004 when I moved back to Knoxville and someone pointed me to a parking lot farm mart (one day per week) in west Knoxville behind the old hardware store. Also explore their web site. I sometimes get some of their HB for meat loaf or balls or making chili or whatever. Can't afford much of their stuff. But I do admire what they have done, and since I've met them I keep up with their progress.



Our community garden, going into it's third year, seems to be evolving nicely, though a bit differently than I had planned. My original idea was to fence in a quarter acre for my family (which means me doing most of the work), and start from scratch with good fencing, irrigation, a composting area, tool shed, and eventually a small pavilion with a picnic table and "cold water" kitchen for washing and canning on site. Realizing I had limited resources, when the couple across the road expressed interest, I invited them to join in.

This year we have two more couples adding their own raised beds and contributing stuff like mushroom compost and mulch, and helping to pay for the water system expansions we need. All of these folks live within walking distance, though they rarely walk :-/ While it's not my motivation, the result will be that they are paying for most of the upgrades needed in fencing, water system and other improvements, do most of the growing and weeding, while I provide the property, water, some materials, expertise, and get to pick my share. Long-term, my hope is to add to the resilience of our little valley.

All of these folks have tools and preserving equipment that we can share. The group has done some things I couldn't afford to do like pulling all of the raised beds and adding wire "hardware cloth" to the bottoms to keep moles and voles out. Beyond the garden we've added a large potato patch and three fifty foot rows of heirloom raspberries transplanted from my patch above the house. Having extra hands and inputs (financial, etc) helps to do these things right the first time. We have a large blueberry plot and small vineyard underway as well, all nice plants provided by the "team". My contributions so far have been as coordinator, technical and gardening adviser, some labor and equipment (they pay for my tractor fuel, etc.). We also found a goldmine of sprinklers and drip irrigation equipment at the foreclosure sale down the road, which I've been installing.

Most of all, we're creating a core group of folks in the area who are learning to work together, focused on growing and preserving local, wholesome food, and with my constant 'guidance', preserving our ability to do so. My "prime directive" (rule) is that if I perceive that the ability of the land to grow food well sustainably is being degraded, I'll shut the whole thing down. Any compostable stuff these folks produce at home or from the garden goes back into the compost piles. Very limited use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (insecticidal soaps, etc is the rule).

Oxydatedgem warned me two years ago about attempting a community garden on my own place, and in some ways she was right; differences have come up that have needed to be worked through or set aside. While I need to deal with being 'displaced' from my garden at times, I remind myself that the idea is community, and I have my own beds and kitchen gardens near the house; having others doing most of the work on the big garden frees me to take care of these more. Devoting an acre or so (we have over forty) to the community garden is hopefully going to be a win/win for all involved. I'm wondering if, at some point, it wouldn't be wise to formalize this arrangement; a written agreement. I probably should have some sort of release from liability at minimum. Any suggestions would be welcome.

I've thought about setting up the same kind of community plot myself. I would think a signed agreement stating that "no rights are acquired nor risks assumed" would be the minimum. Acknowledging the legal side of the situation might change the dynamic of your relationship with the neighbors somewhat. Given that there are many more people than there are arable acres in urbanized areas, this sort of arrangement might have to become the norm.

Again "arable acres" are in the eye of the beholder:


A great story. There are lots of possibilities.


Good on you!

Our (food coop sponsored) community garden has just entered the planning stages. We just recently had our first meeting and I am officially on the planning committee. Our model seems to be slightly different than yours, but I am wondering what sort of advice you might have for someone starting from the ground floor.

- We have about an acre smack in the middle of town. Good exposure, level, and a cover of field grass right now. Leasing agreement in place. Very low cost.
- The food coop will be "funding" first year activities, with the garden expected to be self sufficient by the following year. Outside of charitable pursuits, we plan to charge a fixed amount per plot.
- Water is available on site.
- The following rules have been discussed: Organic only, plant variety restrictions, and regular care and weeding of plots.

I have gardening experience, and depite growing up in the suburbs belonged to our FFA (Future Farmers of America) back in 1980. But it really is (was) difficult for someone from the burbs to break into the farming world. It takes more than interest and education as far as I am concerned. Thus vegetable gardening is a hobby for me.

What type of fencing did you use? Despite being in town, we will have deer raiding our crops.

Wow, fish, your plan is a lot more organized than ours, which seems to be evolving more organically (kind of scary actually).

Before we built the fence we trenched the fence line about a foot deep and set the wire into the ground about ten inches to keep rabbits, etc. out. We used 2"x4"x48" woven/welded wire. Just above that we ran 3 runs of electric fence to stop coons and possums from climbing over (small solar charger). One would have probably been enough. To keep deer from jumping we screwed cheap steel 48" T-posts to every third fence post and ran 1 1/2" white fence tape (the kind sold as electric horse fence) at about 7 foot height, just a visual barrier. They sell special insulators to attach the tape to T-posts. Deer won't try to jump anything they're not sure of unless they panic. The tape flutters in the breeze and seems to discourage the crows as well. Gates need to be tight to keep critters from squeezing through. Just some suggestions that have worked pretty well so far.

Coons got into our corn last year after someone grounded the electric fence wire with an aluminum watering wand (smart little bastards, the coons). This resulted in a confab about how one little oversight can undo months of work.

Another recommendation is to develop the water system. I added hose bibs to every third fence post this year so folks wouldn't be dragging hoses all over the place (and crops). Prior to burying the fence wire in the trench, I ran 1/2" black poly pipe in the same ditch, forming a loop all the way around the garden. We used salvaged pressure treated half round fence posts; easy to attach hose bibs to. Just tee off of the water loop where you need an outlet. (The PT posts were about 20 years old, so hopefully they won't leach much stuff into the soil; one of those trade-offs.) We put splitters on the hose bibs where we wanted drip/sprinkler timers, etc. (the two zone battery timers are nice; we got four at the foreclosure sale :-) With the heat last year, watering became an issue where we didn't have automatic drip or soakers in place. We all seemed to show up at the same time wanting to water our stuff. These improvements should help.

I also added a draindown valve to drain the system for winter freeze. No sense doing the same jobs twice. Next I plan to install 6 commercial "rainbird" sprinkler heads so we can soak the whole garden during hot/dry periods. We got them at the sale too :-) Looking for this stuff at yard/estate sales and salvage has saved us a LOT of money that we'd rather spend on mulch, plants, etc.

Good luck with the project. These things take patience and a willingness to learn from failures, especially when you don't have the luxury of choosing who you garden with.

We banished sweet corn from our community garden as it proved just to attractive to the local coon population--once they come form the corn, they stay to ravage whatever else interests them. Not much trouble from that direction since the ban went into place.

We've reached the same conclusion about sweet corn. Lots of folks near here grow it and sell it cheap. It takes up a lot of space as well, space better devoted to more high value crops. My "Pinot Noir" sweet purple peppers were a big hit last year and demand a good price at the Saturday market. Fresh herbs are also in demand, especially if you can extend your season. I'm going to try some of the more exotic potatoes in towers this year (like your video link, above). My potato bags did nicely last year, but I prefer the reusable wire cages. If I get my dedicated smoker built I'll do some chipotles for fun and maybe to sell. My ramp patches are coming along, and soon I'll be selling my famous 'Ramp Dust', a big hit last year. We're also attempting black morel 'shrooms this year; tough to grow but worth the effort. All sorts of possibilities besides corn...

Thank you both for relaying your real world experiences with community gardens.

And especially, thanks for your contributions to TOD forum - which I have been a member of for just under 2 years, but following for almost 3.

Ghung, I think that we have to be more organized from the get-go due to likelihood that we will be working with people we do not know. But otherwise, I would have a more casual approach and let creativity happen.

I will try to provide an update here and there just in case anyone is interested.

Thanks, fish. Keep the updates coming, especially regarding any hurdles you folks may run into. We all need to stop repeating each others' mistakes ;-/ Is there any sort of screening process for your participants? Maximum number of 'slots'? I'm especially interested in any "factions" that may form. Other open community involvement projects I've been involved in (animal shelters, food pantries, etc.) tend to go this way, generally ending up with two opposing groups butting heads to the detriment of the project. At least in my case, I can just lock the gate and put up a no trespassing sign :-0


We haven't had a chance to form opposing groups yet, but I can see where varying opinions will come back and bite us as we try to move forward.

One example is how to deal with tool storage. It seems that we have people who (in my opinion) are overly fixated on security - afraid that tools will get ripped off. Hence, we should not store tools on site.

I think from a practical standpoint we need to allow for onsite tool storage, and yes, the occasional loss of a garden trowel.

And you will need lots of technicians, repairmen and DIY'ers as the value of that old equipment goes through the sky. At least people will learn to respect old junk and stop throwing perfectly serviceable items.

We had the first, and only, certified organic farm in our area in the late 1970's and early 80's. We were very, very small scale. Out main crops were tomatoes and strawberries. We had the market to ourselves but we finally shut down.

There were two main reasons: First, in order to get more than day wages we need to expand our greenhouse space which would have cost too much given the risk involved. Second, if we got bigger we needed to hire staff for picking and there just weren't any people interested. This was mainly because we are in a dope growing area and dope is far more profitable with less work.

We sold direct to stores and tried a farmer's market in a town 60 miles away but the driving expense just about negated any profits. I truly love agriculture but reality came first so we shut down.

As things go down hill, people are going to find that food, as a percentage of income, is going to go up significantly.


Did you consider going into pot yourself?


No, we never considered pot. I have no moral concerns about pot and would like to see everything legalized (In fact, most red necks around here would legalize everything from smack to coke. It's only the growers that want pot to stay illegal. And, by the way, their price is being killed by over production - price is going down so they plant more.).

Rather, it was several things: First, everyone knows we don't grow so we don't have to worry about being ripped off and losing our year's income or someone invading our home to get our stash. And, yes, this happens. Second, there are bad people out there who have killed people over dope. To put this into perspective, my wife and I found two bodies in the driveway of a rental house we had who were killed over a deal gone bad. Third, our property represents the bulk of our assets. It could be taken away if it were proven that dope made it possible. Fourth, we are "moral" people who do not want to be part of an illicit underground. Fifth, I want to have firearms and a felony conviction precludes this. Sixth, I love "real" agriculture. Dope growing isn't agricultural at all - dump on the triple 20 fertilizer.

Hope this answers your question.


Thanks, Todd. I had heard that the whole thing is getting wildly militarized. It sounds like you've run into some of that there. Sorry to hear you had to see the corpses.

I had the impression for some reason that you were in California where, if I'm not mistaken, pot is legal to grow and sell if you go through the proper channels.

Anyway, thanks for your always informative posts and shapely prose.

It's illegal to grow MJ anywhere in the U.S. under federal law. There are jurisdictions, like CA, where state law conflicts. There are parts of those jurisdictions where enforcement by the feds is low, and where the local law enforcement is actively on the side of the growers. There are no jurisdictions where growing is legal.

Thanks for the info. I wonder how many localities it will take ignoring the federal law or even siding with the growers till the fed law changes.

Not sure if this programme can be viewed outside of Canada due to copyright, but the CBC Doc Zone's CannaBiz touches on many of these same points.

See: www.cbc.ca/documentaries/doczone/2010/cannabiz/


Written by dohboi:
Do you know what forty degrees F higher than normal would mean this summer for people? Crops? Livestock?

I am doubtful there could be a 40 F anomaly in the summer. Large variations in temperature are possible where the jet stream controls the temperature by blowing cold air around, but where high pressure areas dominate, like in the summer, insolation dominates. A 40 F anomaly in the summer would mean 130 F here while the record high is ~110 F. I do not understand how the weather could concentrate so much additional energy.

I am more concerned about increasing emissions of methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf next summer. In 2010 the upwellings were 10 m in diameter, in 2011 they were 1,000 m in diameter, and I hope they do not increase another 10,000 times in area in 2012. I wish Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, et al. would hurry up and publish the findings from their expedition in 2011, so I can get a better idea of the magnitude of the change and its relation to the Arctic ozone hole of 2011.


I agree with most of what you say (in this comment and elsewhere) but I have two things to say about this one.

First, as PE, Wyo, and Dohboi have just essentially said, while the price of oil may rise faster than sea level, rising sea level is a slow and trailing effect of AGW. As you well know, there are lots of other potentially very hard hitting effects, from species extinction to a severe curtailment of our ability to grow food in a wildly aberrant climate. Any and all of which may lead to the fate that I know you see for humanity and other species, with which I am in agreement.

Second, a nit to pick with you. The 'worst offenders' are not in China and Asia as you say. Rather they are right here in the US, along with Canada, Australia and several Gulf nations, all of which have per capita CO2 emissions at the 'head of the class' so to speak. Let's not blame the Asians for merely trying to catch up with 'US'...

The 'worst offenders' are not in China and Asia as you say.

Would you kindly copy and paste the paragraph where I said that? I read and reread my post over several times and for the life of me I could not find anywhere in it where I said any such thing.

That being said, the US and Canada are probably the worst per capita offenders. But overall China truly is indeed the worst offender. List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions

Rank 	Country 	    Annual CO2 emissions
(in thousands of metric tonnes) 	     Percentage of global total
	 World 	             29,888,121      100%
1 	 China   	      7,031,916      23.33%
2 	 United States 	      5,461,014      18.11%
- 	 European Union       4,177,817      14.04%
3 	 India 	              1,742,698       5.78%
4 	 Russia 	      1,708,653       5.67%
5 	 Japan 	              1,208,163       4.01%
6 	 Germany 	        786,660       2.61%

But all that simply misses the point. I was not blaming China, India or the US for the emissions. I was simply trying to point out that we, and by we I mean the whole damn world, are increasing our emissions and the only we, the whole dam world, will ever stop is if we all agree to starve. That is simply not going to happen. We, and we being the whole damn world, will do nothing about global warming.

But not to worry, as I stated collapse caused by peak oil and high fuel prices will get us long, long, before global warming will have much effect.

Ron P.

Folks, we talk about action here in the US and in Europe, Canada and Australia, but the problem is a world problem. The worst offenders are in China and the rest of Asia. And they are going to do absolutely nothing. Well we will also do absolutely nothing also but that's another story.

No they will not do anything because they really cannot do anything. The world runs on fossil energy. If we stopped burning fossil energy people would start to starve. Starving or global warming, that is the choice. Which do you think people will choose?

Some will choose Permaculture, Transition, joining/starting an ecovillage or intentional community and/or just start growing their own food on both their lawns and on the sides even if there is room and/or maybe in a community garden. Turn the lawnmower into a rainwater-collection edible-garden water-pump/irrigation-system or something.

Maybe they will like to learn beekeeping or food-drying/preservation and stuff like that. Fun stuff compared with cubicle serfdom and workplace hierarchy.

Of course all of this could spell the end of much contrived meaningless work, taxes, and centralized nation-state government. The kind that seems to have helped get us into our corporate-brand pickles.

Cuba is an interesting study on loss of oil, if not loss of centralized government. ;)

These are good first steps, but Peak Oil is such a big problem only at the national or even global level can it be adequately addressed. Let's hope it's soon. People outside of the Oil Drum need to get with it.

...Peak Oil is such a big problem only at the national or even global level can it be adequately addressed.

It will perhaps be far better addressed at the local, grassroots, community level, worldwide, yes.

Do you really believe that? That's a nice fantasy, but that's just what it is -- a fantasy.

Approximately two billion people on this Earth owe their existence to the Haber-Bosch process which uses the Nitrogen in the atmosphere to produce fertilizer. This is just one example of the interconnectedness of the modern world. Now, you may say that people were misguided in becoming dependent on things external to their own communities, but that's besides the point now. People are dependent RIGHT NOW on things outside of their local communities to live. Consequently, society at large has to confront Peak Oil, not just each local community by itself.

People are dependent RIGHT NOW on things outside of their local communities to live. Consequently, society at large has to confront Peak Oil, not just each local community by itself.

The way I see it is that the fabric of 'Society at Large' is currently in very serious danger of being torn completely asunder. Which means that local communities will indeed be left to cope as best they can with very limited resources. To me, this means one thing and one thing only... Die off, on a scale previously unprecedented in the history of human civilizations.

I hope to hell I'm wrong!

When people are shaken from their current complacency, I will be more optimistic.

People talk about "Resource Wars" but I don't believe that is a viable option given the existence of nuclear weapons.

That big network is often enough becoming a different sort of fantasy.. and one that's no longer satisfying to the audience. It wouldn't be the first time that movements sort of 'came about' from the weeds growing through the cracks and taking over what used to be an unbreachable castle.

People's dependence, 'right now', has been trembling in many corners of the first world, and with waning confidence, folks are looking around, often surreptitiously to see what other options might be worth hedging their bets with.

I think the 60's could well have just been a warning shot.. we've been told 'it failed', 'it went away'.. maybe, maybe not. Not to say it will simply replay, but much of what was being tried might well come through again, now informed by the changes of the last 40 years.

Manmade Climate Change Accelerated In 2001-2010, World Meteorological Organization Reports

World Meteorological Organization annual statement confirms 2011 as 11th warmest on record

Climate change accelerated in 2001-2010, according to preliminary assessment

World Meteorological Organization Report: Status of Global Climate in 2011

Amazing graph, Seraph.
I had not seen that.

Do not put everybody in either the "good people who want to ride bikes and reduce their carbon footprint" camp or "gas guzzling religious idiots from the hinterland" camp.

I am fully aware of AGW, but I don't believe anything will, or even can, be done about it, other than personal preparation, relocation, dealing with the weather, etc.

I am not afraid of saying this, and won't back down to anybody. If you want to hate me and think I'm part of the problem, go ahead. I'm immune to it by now.

I like to think of the current predicament as being like a fire in a fireworks factory!
The production of the fireworks has taken place over the previous year and the factory is full(like oil, gas & coal had been forming for millions of years and reserves are at their maximum level).
Now a careless match and all the stored energy in the fireworks is released at once (like man's discovery and exploitation of fossil fuel). The fire starts small and rapidly engulfs the building.

The fire is currently burning at it's most fiercest as it reaches the more remote parts of the factory and will soon decline in strength as the fuel is exhausted. But it will not matter a jot how quickly the remainder is burned or even if the fire can be extinguished the sky is already full of smoke and that smoke will hang around for centuries.

I've been living on the principle for the past few years that many adaptative steps work equally (or close) as mitigative steps, eg. I sold my car and have been primarily walking or biking, which gets me physically in shape to handle things when TSHTF.

I'm pretty sure that by 2030 the denialists will be saying the same old thing, on a cruise ship at the North Pole.

Scottish March temperature record just broken.

Spring sunshine sets Scottish temperature record for March

Sunday spring sunshine has set temperatures rising to a new record for Scotland in March.

Fyvie Castle, in Aberdeenshire, recorded a temperature of 22.8C [73F] shortly after 15:30, edging past the previous high of 22.2C.

This had been set in March 1957 at Gordon Castle, in Moray, and again at Strachan, in Kincardineshire, in 1965.

Forecasters said the top temperature for Sunday could still rise higher and could be reached again on Monday.

Do you have a source for the "main planks of the Tea Party Republicans"? As far as I know there is one and only one, cut spending.

That would be 'cut Social Spending' ..

1. Cut Social Spending.
2. Increase Military Spending.
3. Cut Taxes.

2. Increase Military Spending.

Tea Party? Not so much. Sen Rand Paul was a clear Tea Party candidate. His budget proposals on Defense spending:
Reduce 2011 defense spending of $715B to $554B by 2016.

Policy Proposal: Modernize military force size
...begin replacing and reducing our 1.5 million person military to a size more consistent with needs of our defense. Each year the military experiences roughly 5 to 7 percent turnover through natural attrition. The military should use this natural process to begin reducing our force levels.

Policy Proposal: Reduce overseas presence

Policy Proposal: Transition security forces to new Iraqi and Afghanistan governments
... after which time, funding is completely zeroed out,


You meant 'cut taxes' I think. Cut spending, not so much, unless it's spending for somebody else.

one of the main planks of the Tea Party Republicans is dead wrong

1) Just one plank is wrong?
2) Parts of The military WANTS to be able to control the weather. http://csat.au.af.mil/2025/volume3/vol3ch15.pdf

This is my first post and I wanted to thank everyone on TOD for all the great info I have gleaned. I woke up to PO and Climate Change after reading Kunstler's "The Long Emergency". I had known we had a problem with oil in the late 70s but like most Americans forgot about it after Alaska came on line. I have tried to speak to family and friends about it but in most cases they do not want to hear it. I still try if the opportunity arises. It seems like maybe some are beginning to notice there is a problem. Anyway thanks again and I wanted to post a link to Sheryl Crow's "Gasoline" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udwuFO7D3v4 for Sat. morning. I wondered what people though about the timing of her phrophecy.

Thanks! Didn't know it was already here. It was good to know someone else from MO. gets it!

Of course that always brings me to Rickie Lee Jones..



"It's your last chance, to check under the hood..

Your Last Chance, she's not sounding too good,

Your Last Chance to trust the man with the Star..

You've found your last chance Texaco."

"Long Emergency" was my wake-up call too. Which led to "Powerdown" by Heinberg; sort of a one-two punch. Like having a puzzle that you've been playing with off and on; then suddenly you start to see how the pieces fit together...

I'll never forget my "peak moment", I was browsing a techno-geek site in late '04, probably slash dot or something like it, and on one page there was a link floating at the top that said something like "click here if you want find out how screwed we are". It was a link to a peak oil primer, I forget which one, but talk about taking the red pill!

Actually, my immediate reaction was "oh, great, another Y2K", that is, another clearly defined problem with an obvious solution that was being overblown to scare people. However, the more I searched on the topic the more I became acutely aware just how big and complex the problem is, that there is not going to be an easy solution, and that it is being denied for all the wrong reasons. Most of the arguments against are little more than hand waving and ad hominem attacks on the proponents, whereas the arguments for are mostly based on actual data.

It didn't take me long at all to make the leap to the larger context of global ecological overshoot, of which peak oil and resource depletion in general are just one aspect, and the book Limits to Growth which had just released the 30 year update. This in turn led me to the works of Odum, Catton, Tainter, Hardin, etc.

From that time on my world view was irrevocably altered. I can no longer look at anything in the urban environment around me without seeing the inherent un-sustainability of it all. On the plus side I can now easily understand and put in context everything that makes the headlines these days. The world makes a lot more sense to me, especially the big problems like overpopulation and climate change, albeit not for happy shiny reasons.

What puzzles me are how so many in the peak oil community fail to make that obvious connection to ecological overshoot and collapse. Witness the utterly pointless key posts on this very site about techno-boondoggles like "space based solar power". How can otherwise smart people be so dumb? I will probably never understand that.

Or worse, the people who dismiss outright any talk of overshoot and collapse as "doomerism". Their reasoning? That's right, hand waving and ad hominem attacks on the proponents! The very same tactics used to this day to "debunk" peak oil and climate change.

As the kids are fond of saying these days: "What. Ever."


Witness the utterly pointless key posts on this very site about techno-boondoggles like "space based solar power"

Maybe that is the whole point of Tom Murphy's post.

Yair... the part that bothers me is the fact that of the countless millions who have access to the internet there are only a few hundred who are aware enough to comment on this site.


What puzzles me are how so many in the peak oil community fail to make that obvious connection to ecological overshoot and collapse.

Jerry, I would have completely missed your post were not for Cinch's reply, of which I agreed with. And I completely agree with you. I have been ranting about ecological overshoot for years and no one seems to give a damn. They are more concerned with the gas mileage from their Prius and other such greatly important concerns. ;-)

I grew up in rural Alabama among Bible thumping fundamentalist. Their message was "Prepare to meet your maker." Well my message is, "Collapse is inevitable so don't try to save the world, it is way, way too late for that. Instead prepare to try to be among the survivors." But of course no one is paying any attention. And I really can't blame them. Were I a young man I would not listen to an old fart like myself for one minute. I would likely say "The future is ours and it will be better than the past. After all, has not things been getting better and better for centuries?"

Yeah, no one listens to us and now I understand why.

Ron P.

I think the young people of today are far more aware of what's going on than that. Many of them can't get jobs, or are doing jobs that pay low wages. They've grown up hearing about the problems in the environment. They are perhaps too adapted to it, it's the world they live in and they don't expect any more. I don't think I've heard any young person I know claim that things are getting better, or that they will live better than their parents.

I'm saying this as someone who is not that young but not that old (31). I remember talking to a friend of mine who is about 5 years younger, and being surprised to find that he was a total doomer but just never talked about it. The "message" had gotten through very well. But what really are we supposed to do? Not driving is trivial, most people I know can't afford a car anyway... And "prepare for collapse" is a great, but when? What type of collapse? Will we even know it when we see it? I think the 2008 crash was a symptom of the stress, but at this point we're in the "new normal" and nobody is really even that upset. If we have $10 gas and 30% unemployment, what then? Surely it would be a shock, but from the perspective of 2005 even, $4 gas and 9% unemployment is shocking. At what point is BAU done, and at that point what happens?

I am not sure there is really a way to be prepared for the uncertainty of the future. Especially if you don't have a job - how are you supposed to prepare for collapse if you're living it? That's the way it is for many young people.

Beat generation ?

The adjective "beat" could colloquially mean "tired" or "beaten down",[4][5]

4.^ "The word 'beat' was primarily in use after World War II by jazz musicians and hustlers as a slang term meaning down and out, or poor and exhausted. The jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow combined it with other words, like 'dead beat' ..." Ann Charters, The Portable Beat reader, 1992, ISBN 0670838853, 9780670838851
5.^ "Hebert Huncke picked up the word [beat] from his show business friends on of Near North Side of Chicago, and in the fall of 1945 he introduced the word to William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac." Steve Watson, The Birth of the Beat Generation" (1995), p.3 ISBN 0-375-70153-2



What to do? I have had that conversation many times with a lot of people. To the older folks as soon as they hear that odds are they will not live long enough to suffer the extreme consequences of what is coming they mostly relax. Some are motivated to do what they can to lesson their impact on the future, but rarely do they do this to an extent that it is really sufficient. I do far more than most, but I can see a lot that I could do better. And some things I do because I intend to leave something for those who follow me to use.

For a young person the situation is much more challenging. As a general rule they do not have any resources to plan effectively and little opportunity to effect that situation. Most are biding their time. Some are trying to find another way to live. Many of the young farm workers I hire could be described as doomers in outlook and liberal anarchists in political beliefs (This is kind of funny as many of my neighbors are conservative anarchists - libertarian/tea party folks). But they are, at least, looking for alternatives.

My son, who is about your age, is one of the mid-level staffers in Greenpeace. He is fully aware (much more than me actually) of the direness of our situation. He told me long ago that he does not think that there is a solution, but he chooses to fight the good fight because someone has to not give up. If you go out there and try your hardest that is good enough. All you can control is what you do. If someone follows you because you set a good example then that is a plus. Enjoy the little things, cast off the meaningless, do your part and let the chips fall where they may.


To the older folks as soon as they hear that odds are they will not live long enough to suffer the extreme consequences of what is coming they mostly relax

Here on TOD the older folks who post often - are they relaxed about this future?

But they are, at least, looking for alternatives.

They understand the importance of food and are willing to take the low pay and danger to enter one of the jobs with the lowest government oversight.

Imagine if farms had to follow OSHA rules like other businesses with similar 'dangerous' conditions?

I had just this situation with my good friend Tina, She has been out of work for well over a year and is struggling to survive on £62.50 / week Jobseekers Allowance. When I tried to explain Peak Oil/AGW to her she replied that she was more concerned about how to pay for the groceries and the rent.

we're in the "new normal" and nobody is really even that upset.

The idea of the Overton Window - keep moving the goalposts.

It was the doco, "A Crude Awakening", that tipped it for me.

However, more alarming was Prof Albert Bartlet's lecture on Exponential Growth that triggered the shivers.

These days I'm just numb about it all (after years of being frustrated).

Cheers, Matt

Your post encourages me to make my first post, as well. I also read "The Long Emergency" in spring of 2005, and it all made sense to me. Then I read Twilight in the Desert by Matthew Simmons, The Party's Over by Richard Heinberg, then on to Overshoot by Catton, Collapse of Complex Societies by Tainter, and on and on. I've been reading TOD for most of that time, as well.

We were living in a beautiful high desert area that suddenly appeared to me to be an overpopulated dry food desert. It took some time, but my husband eventually came around to my viewpoint and in 2007 we made our move to an area and to a piece of property where we have good water, soil and community.

The bonus was that one of our daughters & her husband decided to move here, too. They had been living in an urban area, and she quit a good professional job to come here (in spring of 2009 - she said the big economic crunch convinced her that her parents might be on to something.) She tells us that there is a new trend among many well-educated young people to want to live on land and to learn self-sufficiency skills. It's going to be tough for many of them to obtain land, but there are creative ways to gain access, at least - I see it as our task to help them in any way we can. They want to learn - we're willing to teach them what we know and give them access to land (they do a lot of the work, and we appreciate it.) And they have good friends. We're feeling fortunate that it worked out this way.

We also opened a business together that serves this community - it's a good way for all of us to get connected and be useful.

I know the future is still a big unknown, but gives me great peace of mind to have made these changes and to have provided at least something that could help some of those coming after us.

Thank you to all of you at TOD that have informed and educated me. My next book (I just received it) is Too Smart for our Own Good: The Ecological Predicament of Humankind by Craig Dilworth... recommended here!

Welcome. Glad you could make the move, I hope it will be good for you.

I originally came to TOD to follow Macondo. PO was something in the future but I had been aware of it for many years it would happen someday. I hadn't heard more about it and lots of new oil SEEMED to be being discovered. Shock to the system when I picked up the story here, not 'arf!!! What I found out here was a real eye opener.


BTW Thanks everyone for bringing home the situation.

Yes welcome.

TOD has been challenged of late to progress on toward being a primarily practical mitigation resource and move beyond the educational discussion about PO/AGW.

Congratulations for having the wisdom to honestly evaluate the veracity of this once obscure topic, having the good sense to make a plan, and the courage to act on it.

I think it shows up the reasonableness of having both the ongoing discussion here as well as the practical techniques for mitigation. I believe TOD is alive if not well...

Each new person is a fresh perspective, a new area of the planet, to hear what is being talked about and happening (Mexico, India ,Japan, UK, Oz, Spain , Canada) Where else but here? Thank you again to all who make this place happen!

As half of a couple who followed a similar path, posted here 6 1/2 years ago, (first id) have learned and then lurked for long periods and then 'piped up' again, I appeciate the variety of educational backgrounds and life experiences.

One of the phenomenal things about this place is the contrast between the 'Drumbeat' of loud uninformed ,frankly religious, adhearence to the doctrine of growth that characterizes the MSM, and the measured undeniable 'truth' being told by the REAL rock people, toolpusher, and climatologist folks we have right here every day. It's that who ya gonna believe thing.

So again ,welcome, another area, a fresh perspective, another resource for practical mitigation efforts, another fellow traveller.

Practical mitigation, Right. Been working on it. Aside from the mere fun games like getting off the grid and otherwise cutting my energy use to maybe 1/10 that of my friends, all good people totally unaware and not willing to listen, I come to the conclusion that the only hope is the lifeboat approach, incorporating the awful fact that each and every lifeboat, no matter what percentage of good liberals it has aboard, has GOT to strictly limit its numbers or the boat sinks. That is to say, each lifeboat has gotta have defensible walls of some sort. Like maybe really bad mountains, or some sort of miserable weather that most people can't survive without the lifeboat skills.

That thought alone is of course pretty worthless, and very common here, so not much of a contribution.

I happen to live in a perfect spot- lots of woods , plenty of rain, mild weather, and not anywhere near too many people. I also know it is utterly indefensible, so, no solution,

So I fall back on the one thing I might actually be able to do some good with. Education of the kids. Forget the fixated grownups, a waste of time. What I am doing is quite subversive- get the kids to realize that their parents and grandparents have robbed, and are robbing, them of their planet, and they should be awful mad about it and should tell 'em to quit. Force not recommended but not out of the question.

OK, so shoot me.

For mitigating personally or educating kids? :)

Edit; No seriously, I get it and agree once this really gets rolling 'all options will be on the table'.

it is a truth universally acknowledged that those who corrupt the youth have gotta drink the hemlock. Personal example is ineffectual foolishness and therefor not needful of punishment.

"TOD has been challenged of late to progress on toward being a primarily practical mitigation resource and move beyond the educational discussion about PO/AGW. "

There are many, many, many sites on the web pertaining to practical mitigation resources. It is a huge, multi-faceted bunch of skills and such. I really don't see TOD's remit as being a practical mitigation resource. We get a smattering of anecdotal stories, brags, some generally useful information. But this is The OIL Drum. Not the "Local Agriculture Drum", or, well, you get the idea. There are specialized and regionally useful sites for all that stuff, and I don't think TOD should mainly go there.

There is still a lot of denial and ignorance out there regarding PO and resource limits in general - that's what TOD should be mitigating. And with the conceptual and data presentation from the several experts here, it's still doing this important job.

agreeing, quotes self*

"I think it shows up the reasonableness of having both the ongoing discussion here as well as the practical techniques for mitigation"

Plenty of both here today. Really don't get the criticism that came back from some former contributors. Plenty of folks will do something once they get the picture, hard to see b/c of all that noise...but for thr attentive ... Hoffmeister slowly coming around, a bit more signal from Obama, Platt's guy was pretty good the other day

LTG, pop bomb and PO aware for a long while, but the ELM ,ohsh*&t, moment for me was probably a prime motivator. Spent today on advocacy for cycling, for example. My personal response; staying as healthy as possible ,limiting consumption, doing some small EV projects. I/we have been intensely involved in education most of our adult lives.

This IS a unique site, imo. What was it WT said?, "peeing on a forest fire" (could be a mission statement) My refrain "Where else but on TOD"?

China Reaches Peak Coal

Throughout the period since 2000, Chinese coal demand growth has tracked the economy with a 1-for-1 relationship, resulting in coal demand growing at more than 8% a year, doubling the nation's need for coal every 7 years.

China may miss new target to cut coal output growth

China plans to slow annual growth in coal output to about 2 percent over the next four years from around 10 percent to conserve resources and protect the environment, but analysts said rising demand will make reaching that target difficult.

The government has set targets of overall production capacity of 4.1 billion tonnes and annual output of 3.9 billion tonnes by 2015, up 11 percent from the 3.52 billion tonnes dug last year, according to a plan issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Earlier on TOD:
The Chinese Coal Monster - running out of puff (November 20, 2010)

What I imagine we will see happening is that Chinese production growth in 2010 will be significantly less than 10% and we will see a plateau develop within the 3.6 to 3.8 Gt range in the period to 2015.

If China doesn't burn it, then India will...

India's coal rush

The country's dependence on coal is leaving a dirty trail of violence, landlessness and poverty.

India is hungry for energy. Over 173 power plants, all of them coal-fired, will be built to power the nation's high-tech industries and booming cities.

This is accelerating an ongoing “coal rush” which has put our dirtiest fossil fuel at the heart of India’s breakneck growth, and could soon make a single state, Andhra Pradesh, one of the world’s top 20 carbon emitters.

IEA's take on things ...

7th Asia Gas Partnership Summit 2012

According to our scenarios, India is projected to displace the United States as the world’s second largest coal consumer by 2025. Over 60% of the rise comes from the power sector, reflecting the enormous demand for electricity in India.

According to our analysis, in India, electricity demand is projected to more than triple to over 3200 TWh by 2035. This would imply that over 650 GW of new capacity will have to be built. By 2035, gas is expected to be the second largest source of electricity generation, but still modest compared to coal.

We expect coal use in the power sector to almost triple over the forecast period. Nuclear power generation grows almost ten-fold.

You may wonder what this will mean for India in the future. At the IEA, we expect that India will need to get accustomed to two-digit prices for gas imports. [ >$10 Mbtu]

I may be in the market for a replacement vehicle...are TOD Prius owners happy with their vehicles?

I was doing my Internet research, and came across Car&Driver reviews of several of the Prius models...the reviews were dripping with condescension from stem to stern, including references to 'Prius People' (pod people? car people?)...I don't give a rat's rear-end about the holy performance metrics of 0-60 and so forth...I drive very conservatively (not much below the limit, not much above it)95% city driving, and just care if the vehicle is safe, thrifty, and offers adequate utility and has a good quality of workmanship, and has a solid history of good workmanship and long life without excessive maintenance needs.

To its credit, Car&Driver did grudgingly admit that, according tho their research, some 95% of Prius vehicles produced are still on the road, belying the early fears of drive train complexity and battery life [their words here]...and they claimed that replacement used battery packs can be had for ~ $500 from salvage yards (although that 5% of Prius cars off the road doesn't make for a robust supply!).

I am also looking at the idea of a used Hyundai Elantra...competition is between lower purchase price and higher fuel economy. I drive ~ 8,000 miles per year in the sunny SouthWest in the city.

One of my customers just bought her third Prius. She gave her first (2003?) to her daughter who still drives/loves it. This family always drove Mercedes and BMWs, so their standards are pretty high, and they seem as loyal to the Prius now as Subaru owners are to their 'Roos'.

My wife still owns a 2003 Prius...has 140,000 miles on it...no big problems. She still gets about 42 MPG. She is looking to trade in for a new Prius this year.

We have a 2010 Prius with 38,000 miles. I really, really like it. Comfortable for long trips. Great mileage in the city, especially in mild to warm weather.

One other benefit, there is pretty good support on the internet (priuschat.com) if you ever have problems.

H - Check out my Kia Sorrento. All the performace and utility you would ever need. Easily the nicest car I've ever owned. No reason to not expect a dependable 150,000 - 200,000 mile life ot of it. Mine cost $17,000. I'll let you do the math. A 8,000 mies/year I suspect you'll need very high fuel prices to justify the cost difference. I can't say enough good about Korean quality especially for the money. There are essentially no optional upgrades...the base car is it.

I am sure that you are correct about the economics of your KIA. I would be perfectly happy with a Kia. However a more important consideration. My wife considers our 2010 Prius (our first) cool and distinctive. She would consider a KIA ordinary. I also have a 2004 Honda Element but don't drive it much. My wife thought it was cool. The Prius is said to be more aerodynamic than any sedan, foreign or domestic.

robert - I get cool. For me cool is a 4X4 Ram pickup. I can afford the truck and the fuel. Just wish like heck I could justify it. LOL.

Rock - I have the F-250 with the 7.3 - very cool & no probs justifying it (the Prius can't tow my firewood or tow my boat. It's not that great for hauling a moose back home, either) - I just can't justify it for as many miles as I used to, at $140 a fill!

Honestly, though, I think many people on this forum don't realize how useful a pickup is in a rural setting. Or how useful they could be post peak if a few rules could be relaxed - I remember when it was ok to ride in the back bed or in a trailer as it went down the road - it would easy to haul a person 300 miles on a gallon of fuel if passenger trailers were legal - eg the 7.3 gets 17MPG empty, usually about 12mpg towing, tow capacity rated about 25,000 lbs but capable of more than that - I'm sure I could transport 50 people if need be (10,000 lbs people, 5,000 lbs trailer).

Horses for courses. Trouble is when they are driven around the block to drop the kids off at school then put away until pick-up time.


Yair...It always seems to raise a ruckus on most of the U.S. centric sites when I have the nerve to point out that you don't need a 7.3 to haul your toolbox, ass and lunch pail...LOL


Used to have one bricklayer turn up in his pickup, probably a 4, just carrying him and a very few tools. Another just parked his horse on the other side of the road to do some weed management and fertilizing. Interesting to see the contrasts with him in the saddle, toolbucket hanging at the side and a cell phone pressed to his ear.


He had a ride that would pull weeds AND refuel at the same time? Nice!

It always drives me nuts when folks talk like this. Having extra vehicles so they only use the truck when they need it is a luxury most U.S. tradesmen don't have. Extension ladders, air compressors, generators, mortar mixers, cable pullers, pallets of material, rolls of flooring, etc. are not easily carried in my Camry or my Mom's Prius. Some of my more ... frugal ... friends do manage to do most things like that with a rig like an Isuzu P'up, though. The 2WD service-body 3/4 ton I learned to drive on, is a pretty normal need for a craftsman, however. Expectations of what employees will/are able to do without the company providing equipment may be a little different in the U.S. except at the largest companies.

are not easily carried in my Camry

I live in the land of the Giant empty 4wd Pickup (northern Canada). When I show up with my VW camper in the backcountry skiing parking lot everyone laughs.

When I'm in Australia / New Zealand I am amazed that every vehicle going to the 'tip' on the weekend is towing a $500 utility trailer. Including the Subaru Wagon with 5 council workers with the rakes & lawnmower in the trailer.

My 1.5 ton 'pickup' is a high-end trailer that cost $2000 & get used behind every vehicle the neighbours & I have ever owned. Theoretically I'm missing out - those days I don't have the trailer and can't carry a big thing home - but I can't recall that issue in the past 3 years.

Lets see, the upside is 1/10th the price, half the fuel consumption, a nicer car, a bigger payload, bigger box, no manure smell following you around.

The downsides - learning to reverse, and you will violate your econobox warranty if you mount a hitch - but it will probably work fine.

Of course I prefer the Big Dummy (14 s video) for loads up to 250kg or under 2 m square.

Are there people who don't need as much vehicle as they've got? Sure. Can more be done with less? Of course. Do we do a lot of things with a pickup and trailer that we couldn't do with an econobox and trailer? Yep. You're talking about abusing a sedan, we routinely abuse our pickups to do things that would 'normally' be done with even larger trucks. Can you pull a backhoe on your trailer behind an econobox? I've done it behind an F250, and know folks who do it routinely. Can you put 16 tons of coke breeze on pallets in your trailer and pull it with a Camry? I've done it behind an F250 (yes, I know it's well over the rated towing capacity). Can you put four several ton 8' diameter cable/duct reels on reelstands on a unistrut frame in the bed of a utility trailer and move it to and around a jobsite while anchoring the trailer during pulling? I've done it with an F-250. How about the other end of the pull where the towable drum puller exerts up to 10,000lbs of force to pull the cable thru the duct? I've done it hitched to an F-150 (though we started dragging the F150 a couple times). I've moved a roughly 9' X 12' X 3' Hoffman box with several thousand pounds of electrical/automation gear (worth a couple hundred grand) fully fab'd strapped upright on the bed and tailgate of an F150 over 800 miles of interstate (I kept it down to under 55mph). Try that without blowing over your light trailer (one small enough to pull with an econobox). Can you mount a light crane on a Camry? I've done it on a Chevy heavy-half.

Some people who have pickup trucks use them and need them. Do you need one for groceries, light yard work, or commuting? Of course not.

Out here in suburban land, about 1/4 of the vehicles on ht eroad are PUs. I'd bet not much more than 10% have ever carried anything bigger than a sheet of plywood. Same thing with the SUV, they haul 8 year olds to elementary school, few have ever been offroad. The few that venture into snow country get stuck in a couple of inches of snow, while locals breeze by in their 2WD cars -i.e. knowing how is far far more important than having a capable vehicle.

So, yes there do exist people with needs for heavy duty vehicles.
BTW when my Z71 died an early death, because I used it for commuting, I learned to add a used subcompact to my fleet. Those pricy heavy duty vehicles are best saved for when their capabilities are needed.

In other countries many tradesmen somehow get by with much more modestly sized vehicles like this one:


But if you need to haul a full-sized generator, compressor or mortar mixer, your options are far fewer. But take the example of a compressor - we had some hardwood floors done, and they brought in small portable electric compressors for their nail-guns and not a big one on a trailer.

Yes, certainly. I did reference folks managing with the Isuzu P'up which was smaller and got better mileage 30 years ago. Is the vehicle mix top-heavy in the U.S.? Yes. Different trades have different needs, though. Residential is different than commercial-industrial, service is different than construction. Roofing and flooring guys use small compressors with high pressure and low volume. If I want to blow string thru a 100' of 1" duct I'll use a shop-vac (or for a little bigger job a leaf blower) with almost no pressure and a little more volume. If I want to blow some mule tape 3500 feet thru 6" duct, I need something with a lot more airflow than the shopvac and nearly as much pressure as the small compressor--a towable air compressor.

What I don't understand about the American tradesman who wants to carry his gear around, is they insist on the pick-up body style. Here in Oz most people that have a practical purpose for there pick-up trucks install s flat bed drop sided tray top. The most practical reason for this, is for loading pallets of goods with a fork lift. At work i have seen first hand what happens when an inexperienced fork lift driver tried to load a pallet onto a RAM pickup. I did have to ask what those funny dents were on the tail gate.

I have an Isuzu one ton 4x4 diesel, tray top spaces cab with a removable extra support bar at the rear to work as a roof rack . It does everything you want for a utility vechical (Ute as we call them here), and gets around 25 miles to the US gal. This type of Ute seems a much more practical solution to the work tool problem than a RAM or F250/350

We've had a 1-ton stake-bed in the U.S. My father's current 2003 extra-cab (6 passengers) F250 diesel has a service body (for a large complement of small tools and small material that stay on the truck) with a removable roof rack for ladders/pipe/lumber, a lined long bed for other stuff, and a receiver hitch for towing a variety of equipment/trailers. It seems to work pretty well for him.



here is the type of ute we drive here,


Either steel or Aluminium tray, simple easy to load and for much more practical than the US pickup version, the fact I didn't even see this style as an option on your link, makes me feel that it doesn't comply with some of your regulations.

You obviously need a large truck for your uses, and here many people do as well, eg a bobcat or back hoe driver. Here they normally own a 6 to 8 ton tipper truck, where they load the machine into the tipper for transport to the job, then they move the earth by the tipper. No more transport required for a two man crew.

By the sound of of it you need a larger truck than what you have, but that doesn't take away from the 90% of pick-ups being used as day to day transport.

I have a house of 4 drivers and 3 vehicals, the truck a Hyundai Getz(1400cc) and a Hyundai I30 (2000cc), we drive them starting from the smallest and work our way up if we are just a single driver, otherwise we pick which fits the trip the best. My total buy price is probably less than your cost.

I have found people will find all sorts of reasons to drive their favored cars.An in-law on mine in the States, claims she drive a big car for safety reasons. Maybe a valid argument, but she refuses to wear a seat belt, or helmet on a motor bike because she feels the government should mind their own business and they can't force her.

If you can work out that logic, you will have to explain it tome in real simple terms.

That is a fairly important factor. Honda's hybrid never caught on like the Prius, because people who buy hybrids want others to know it. Honda's looked exactly like their conventional model.

Every time my wife sees a Honda.Insight she says " look at that weird Prius"

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I thought Honda's hybrid was pretty weak tea. Not enough omph to push the car on pure electric. The Prius cycles between ICE (and charging the battery), and short stretches of battery power only, so out of a hundred miles, maybe for twenty the ICE was off. I had heard the Honda system was only good for capturing some braking energy, then using to help reacceleration. [Maybe they've changed it, but early on, it could be derided as "not a real hybrid".]

This is the main reason why I went with Prius rather than a Honda hybrid. Couldn't give a rats ass what anyone else thinks of what I drive. That 'dress to impress', 'keep up with the Joneses' BS is a major cultural part of our current global predicament.

That 'dress to impress', 'keep up with the Joneses' BS is a major cultural part of our current global predicament.

You are asking for a change to deeply rooted biological behavior. Doing something "to impress" is not JUST a human trait.

The tale of trading an island for beads would be an example of a "not us" culture wanting to 'dress to impress'.

Agreed. Much better, IMO, is to try to work with it, rather than eliminate it. Having a Prius to impress is better than having a Hummer. And one day, maybe being car-free will the most impressive.

concurr eos, for sure I did the research in 2005 when we bought the gen 2 Prius. Unless it's been improved the Honda product engineering was not a true parallel hybrid, suffered for it, and had other shortcomings.

Presenly we drive the 2010 Gen 3, using it as multi-purpose transport and frankly like a small truck as well. The gen 2 sold to our daughter. We bike extensively but short of moving into the city, if one needs to drive, this is by far the better moustrap, imo.

Have 140K on our 2005 Prius. Average 50mpg lifetime. Have tracked every tankful. MPG varies seasonally (mid-Atlantic, cool winters avg high 40's, warm summers avg. low 50's.) After a 6 mo break in period - for both the car (as with all ICE's) and us, as we learned its nuances - we were getting 55/56 summers and low 50's winters, then they started putting ethanol in the gas... Have had no maintenance issues other than tires, gotta be a little careful what you run. Overall, we love it. Has much more passenger and cargo capacity than you'd ever think. Our other car is a Corolla wagon. I can put 10' long material (lumber/pipes) inside the Prius. Can't do that in the Corolla.

But, per what Rockman said, if you only drive 8k miles per year, this may not be the way for you to go. There was some discussion on here recently regarding the MPG curve. Savings are much more significant at the low end than further up. So once you get into the 25-35 MPG range, payback diminishes greatly for higher MPG, because fuel savings per each additional MPG are much less. Not intuitive, but very true.

We're looking into converting ours (or a newer one) to plug-in. But that's just us wanting more control/options over our transportation fuel.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

I have an 07. It is pretty practical, last week I transported 10foot 2x6es in it (which most pickup trucks would require a roof rack to do). It is not as high on comfort as a Camry, but it is very economical. Toyota has 5000 miles serviving, which is a bit steep/often -my big mistake was not buying the service plan when I bought it. I average 50plus mpg (does a bit better highway than in town mostly). The newer models are supposedly 10% more efficient. I suspect New Mexico milage would be several percent higher (lower air density).

Ground clearance is low, so if you need to go off road, it is a no go.

My wife has a 2002 - about 160k miles now. A wonderful machine. She gets about 43MPG, I routinely get about 55MPG, I taught myself how to increase MPG with the computer display - one long, hilly 140 mile trip, driving alone one half, one passenger the other, I averaged 67 MPG (I was coasting, etc.).
I understand the newer prii (plural?) get lower mileage and lack the useful computer display, but haven't checked them myself.
I was hesitant at purchase due to complexity of the vehicle, but I have found it to be very reliable, in fact outstandingly so. A monument to Toyota's engineering skill and experience.
Easy to drive, easy to park, comfortable.
I saw an article, I don't remember where, where someone had adapted their Prius to provide backup power for their home. I will re-read it someday, when I install my solar panels...
The transmission is very smooth.
The older priuses are supposed to be capable of running on a very high percentage of ethanol, this something I would like to research.

The vehicle got me thinking a while back how good testing and engineering can create something that is complex, yet reliable and durable. I haven't completed that train of thought -

My sister has a Prius. The nickel battery died just before the warranty on it expired. Otherwise, runs fine, they like it. I still think it's a little underpowered. Not alot. I'd rather go with a good compact car or diesel.

Keep in mind though that the Prius line has expanded. All three standard hybrids strike me as being good, versatile cars. I'm not convinced about the plug-in.


Thank you very much for your advice and sharing your experiences.

It is very helpful to get the good gouge from the bright folks on TOD.

I will consider the options...Prius, Elantra, Sorento, others...it would be nice to get a nice used vehicle, but the small cars all seem to have gobs of miles (just looked at a 3-year old car with 75K miles!) or the rare late-model, low mileage cream puff is almost as much as a new vehicle of the same type.

I just test drove a Prius 2 and a Prius v (2)...the larger Prius v had more human and cargo room, didn't have that interesting 'bridge' console between the driver and passenger, and had a more conventional (and better, IMO) rear window arrangement/visibility...all for the tradeoo of ~ 44mpg city/40mpg highway, vice ~50/49 for the 'regular' Prius.

A big question...will gasoline bounce around $3-$4/gallon for years, or in several years will we see something in the neighborhood of $6 gasoline in the U.S? Where is my crystal ball when I need it?

Honestly, I would be ecstatic if someone could majic up an express bikeway between far North Albuquerque and the southern side of ABQ...a bike 'expressway' with overs and unders to minimize or eliminate bicycle vs. motor vehicle collision potential. A couple of rest areas with bathrooms and water fountains and shade structures would be good along the ~ 12-13 mile lengths as well.

I am excited, since I had my Wife's bike tuned up (including HD tubes, toughies and slime in the tires for those /nasty/ NM 'goat heads' (certain type of weed seeds), and we are planning to take our first joint bike ride in years...just an easy putter around the neighborhood, hopefully working up to trips down the bosque path (along the Rio) and the Sandia Mountain foothill trails...

Happy trails...

Some of those foothill trails can be pretty chllenging (the ones closer to I40 especially), they were in some case made by/for horses, or simply where someone tested out his 4x4's capabilities. The stuff in the East mountains is real top notch rocky mountain biking -probably the best that close to a city...

N of 40, and West of roughly Eubank is reasonably safe riding...
66 from Tramway to Tijeras isn't bad -just avoid rush hour.

We bought a Prius v 3 months ago and are very happy with it. Much more cargo capacity and roomier. More importantly, the EPA estimates of 40 and 44 MPG understate the actual performance. In normal running around town (12 to 20 mile trips), we average 50-55MPG. Today we took a trip to a small town about 30 miles east of us over mildly hilly landscape on country roads, running 35 to 55 miles per hour, and averaged 52 MPG. Our car is just getting broken in. Obviously the performance depends on weather conditions and the season. One other thought is that you won't get a discount on a Prius. Demand is strong. I also understand that the Prius lasts a long time, up to 300,000 miles. There aren't many used ones for sale. Ours has the MPG meter on the dashboard display and I've found it addictive: I'm having far too much fun trying to squeeze maximum MPGs from the vehicle. On a recent 7-mile trip into town I scored 61 miles per gallon. Haven't the faintest idea how I did it!

Haven't the faintest idea how I did it!

Most likely a tailwind. Only cont round trips, then hopefully you average out head and tail winds. Also if you are driving to lower elevation, that helps. My commutes is 100meters uphil (and usually upwind) in the morning. I usually get better mpg on the trip home.

I had got a few commute days (45miles round trip) above 60. But after some road "improvements" and new tires (and ethanol?), I'm lucky when I break 55.

I lived in Albq for a short while on TDY assignment for my employer (Oak Ridge) whose Corporate HQ was out on Academy in Albq. My apartment was at Louisiana and Montgomery. Ya'll are filling me with nostalgia. I was working at the WIPP Integration Office, lovingly known to all involved as WIPPIO-ti-yay!

EDIT: That was in 1993, before Mayor Bob of Carlsbad had a hissyfit and insisted to the Sec. of Energy that ALL WIPP employees must live in Carlsbad (his brother was a big real estate investor there, I was told). Instead of "moving" to Carlsbad, I took the layoff and headed back home to Tennessee.

I did enjoy Carlsbad -for the few days I was there as a tourist. They were pushing it as a retirement town. I nice river town (on the Pecos). But its a bit too hot for my taste, at roughly 3100feet (the lowest elevation in the state is where the Pecos exits the state a few miles downstream). And those couple of thousand feet make several degrees difference. I bet the housing is dirt cheap at least.

Worked not so far from that office (95-01), but just off I40. Those twin ten story office buildings...

Good fortune with your riding, Heisenberg! Challenging and rewarding PO/AGW therapy, imo

My wife and I (59 year olds) have worked up to 5600 mi. last year, over a span of about 6 years. As the snow receeds we're back up and running ,little by little building the right calluses and getting the endurance back enough to do big hills and pack gear again.

Agree on bikeways, best tax money we every spend re; jobs, health and safety, and mitigation of what will increasingly plague us so hard.

Our mayor is getting into it big. The main sea front has been closed to traffic and is now pedestrian and bicycles with loan tandems available. New pedestrian walks are being built in the main road that will help bicycle access past a very bad piece of cobbled road. A riverside park now has tandems available to borrow and I overheard some schoolgirls saying they were heading there to ride some. The main dual carriageway into town is closed on Sunday mornings over 2.5+ km for cycling (there are 2 lanes each way with 2 lanes outside of that for local traffic, the main 2x2 is closed, so 50% is for the cycles). Part of the marina is also closed off on Sundays, I will try and check Sunday, if my knee holds up.


This is very interesting and best wishes with your knee.

I decided to skip the marina this week as it is a longer haul back if my knee played up but went to the main drag itself. Only one lane closed off this week but plenty of people using it. Had more of a look around too. They are loaning bicycles rather than tandems, at least I didn't see any tandems. There is also a basic maintenance tent for the bicycles too. Got some pictures and I'll look at them later, I hope the one of the 3 dancing chicas is ok. Got cheered on by a couple of pretty young girls "corre le, corre le". Thanks for the wishes for the knee, a good taping worked so I can now put that behind me, the new cassette and bearings on the bike worked too.



Here you go. Sorry about the quality, I need to drop in to the service centre and get my phone camera checked.


Very cool, (and it never hurts to be cheered on by a couple of young girls) looks like it was pretty well attended.

Guy had quite a load on that scooter or was he setting the barracade?

We had our first annual bike swap today and yesterday in Spokane. 143 bikes went to new owners and attendance was about 1500. Proceeds to the Centennial Trail. Pretty good for a starter, and promises to be bigger next year.

Good to see this activity by you and by me.

Nice one with the bike swap, I think that these things may start growing year on year as reality bites. One of the larger LBSs here is open 7 days a week and have several people working on different bikes at the same time. The other week they were putting together a kiddie trailer for a bike. I really must get that camera looked at as I want to get some more wandering photos though I may take my big camera next time I go to the main drag. Have a couple of photos of working trikes but I want to get a few more before putting them up.


Anyone have possession yet of a plug-in Prius?


We have a 2005 Prius with about 135,000 on it. No problems yet, a couple of recalls and regular maintenance have done the job. We get 40-50 depending on the season for mixed driving. If gas goes up, we just might come out on it; otherwise another small car might have done the job at the same price. The biggest disappointment with the car has been the seats, they are fine around town, but for long trips you need a lot of padding to endure. Another disappointment has been the 12-volt auxiliary battery. I've replaced it three times since 2005, I finally bought an after-market battery, maybe it will actually last.

To its credit, Car&Driver did grudgingly admit that, according tho their research, some 95% of Prius vehicles produced are still on the road

My aunt owns a 2007 Prius, and I ask her all the time about how it is doing in terms of reliability, repairs and such.

So far she only has had to do the scheduled maintenance, oil changes, tires, and such.

Zero break downs.

Her personal gas mileage averages 44 mpg in the Southern California, Orange County area.

One thing to note - the Prius is much less complex than conventional cars in several ways. Conventional automatic transmissions are incredibly complex, the Hybrid synergy drive has many fewer moving parts - no clutch/torque converter/gearbox. Also - there is no belt for powering auxiliary devices - its all electrical. Brake wear is greatly reduced due to regenerative braking.

Often overlooked and under reported BB, thanks. Some may be imagining more complexity that there really is.

Prius motor gens and drive.

Volvo automatic.

Huge ,as you noted, is the elimination of an automatic's numerous clutch packs and that pesky valve body gone too. There are no electrical brushes or slip rings. A typical automatic will rob 7-10% of the engines output in torque convertor losses and hyraulic pumping. Very small final drive lube pump for the Prius HSD unit. And ,as you know, an automatic these days does not get one free of electronics.

Starter and alternator gone. And what makes more sense than to intellegently drive the waterpump, and AC on an engine that isn't running a lot of the tiime anyhow.

Hi H,

I own a 2004 and 2010 Prius and have been happy with both. The 2004 has about 150,000 miles and the 2010 about 50000. I don't think you will ever need to worry about the battery pack, both have had zero problems and fuel economy has averaged about 50 MPG for both cars. I think you could try to find a used Prius (might be hard to find though). Maybe use 4.50 per gallon to compare cost of ownwership, because prices will likely increase for gas IMO. Good luck!


2005 with about 120,000 miles, NO unplanned maintenance.

A few years ago, had a Hymotion plug-in kit installed.
(unfortunately now discontinued by A123)
(and got an replacement for the 12 volt auxiliary battery)
Gets 15-20 miles of electric assist,
which means to work and back with one side-trip I can get 80-99+ mpg,
especially in the fall/spring when heating/AC are not used.
Yep, unless I'm traveling out of town, it's a month or more between trips to a gas station.

Will be looking at the official plug-in Prius someday.

I have a 2002 Prius with just over 154,000 miles.

Minimal maintenance, amazing turning radius, big enough for trips to the feed store or comfortable long trips, in short - the best car I have ever owned.

Gas millage is not quite so good now that it is 10 years old. 45-46 Highway and 42-43 in town.

There have been 402 bank failures since Jan 1 2009. 211 have been in only 4 states.

Ga. 73
Fl. 58
Il. 48
Ca. 32
Mn. 19
Wa. 16

Tx. 5
Ny. 3

I always enjoy seeing Rockman's bits about the tough Texas regulations on frac'ing practices. Interesting to note that Texas got burned badly in the savings and loan debacle of the late 1980s, and imposed some of the toughest regulations on the mortgage business in the country. Many of the practices that have led to bank disasters in places like Georgia and Florida didn't happen in Texas because they're illegal with heavy penalties if you get caught.

Texas politicians -- we're all about less government regulation, except when we're not.

mc - I think it all follows with a very deep rooted eye for an eye philosophy. Remember this is a state that executes more folks than the rest of the country combined. Not sure if the law is still on the books but as recently as 15 years ago it was legal to kill to protect your property. Yes...property and not just your life. About 15 years ago a guy saw someone from his apartment window breaking into his car. Took his deer rifle from the closet and shot the thief dead. No charges. Hundreds of concealed carry gun permits in recent years. And a lot of those folks fantasize about dropping the hammer on some perp. Old tales of the Texas Rangers are still popular. It ain't BS: we are truly cold blooded when it comes punishing the bad guys. Doesn't matter if they are wearing a dirty hoodie or a $3,000 suit. A lot of us might enjoy talking down the suit more than some street punk. LOL.

A case in Houston that got a lot of attention involved a man executing* two burglars who had broken into his neighbor's house and were carrying away his neighbor's TV. The grand jury no-billled him.

*I think that he technically gave them one second to freeze before he shot them.

But I think that the most interesting shooting case I ever heard of was in Fort Worth, circa 1990. A man sitting in his car in the parking lot of a mall witnessed a man shoot a woman to death outside the mall. The shooter then headed to his car. The witness retrieved his handgun from the trunk and walked up behind the shooter, who was then in his car, preparing to drive way, and the witness executed the shooter with one bullet to the head. The grand jury no-billed the witness.

Now, I can just imagine the following chain of events in Texas. Someone shoots someone, a bystander steps up and executes him, someone alse see's the second shooting (but not the reason for it), and off's the second shooter,... then a third person offs the second, and round and round it goes.....

A not entirely implausible scenario. My assumptions while driving in Texas are that most other drivers, especially male drivers of pickup trucks, have the following characteristics: The just lost their job, their spouse just left them, their dog just died, they just left a bar, and they have a loaded handgun in the seat next to them. So, I tend to be a very courteous driver.

The danger, of course, in all this shooting over property is that the thieves will decide to "kill first, steal later". I wonder how many people have been murdered and then robbed in Texas. I wonder how many people consider that the intruder usually has the drop on the victim and that a "shoot for property" philosophy will end up killing more homeowners than intruders. This seems like the breakdown of civilization to me. If I get into a fender bender in Texas can they come out of their car and kill me for depriving them of their property?

I go to TX frequently so I read the online editions of Star Telegram ( Ft. Worth) and Dallas Morning News. I remember reading about the case. The neighbor that witnessed the burglers was watching the house for the out of town friend because the house was robbed before. The neighbor called police to report the crime in progress and when the police did not respond he tried to stop the robbers who had broken in. As the robbers were taking items from the house the neighbor twice told them to drop the goods they were carrying and get down or he would shoot them. The robbers essentially told the neighbor to F***off" and tried to push their way past. The guy shot both of them. Funny thing was a policeman had responded and was sitting in his car across the street. Police witnessed the entire event. Why the pliceman did not intervene was not known, but may have been a reason for letting the ahooter go.

In the future of oil scarecity, how would the police be able to intervene if they do not have the energy to operate a vast number of high powered long range patrol cars like they use today? Much more vigilanti justice is likely in our future.

Doesn't matter if they are wearing a dirty hoodie or a $3,000 suit. A lot of us might enjoy talking down the suit more than some street punk. LOL.

There is hope :-)

And in Texas, doing a home equity loan, you can only borrow up to 80% of the value of the house.

Conventional Crude ( EIA C&C - [Canadian Syncrude + Bitumen] ) 2005 Peak still hanging in there by the skin of its teeth.

Conventional Annual Production
2004 71454.9
2005 72684.3
2006 72245.8
2007 71715.0
2008 72383.9
2009 70842.6
2010 72392.5
2011 72384.7

Pointers to my sources at

In other words, we are experiencing the "undulating plateau" in conventional oil production that some theorists predicted for Peak Oil, and the only true increase is coming from non-conventional oil-sands production.

This is particularly true for the US, where increasing Canadian oil sands production is backing out imports from other countries and overloading parts of the US pipeline system, creating a very large differential in prices between those areas with access to Canadian oil sands, and those areas without.

From what I'm seeing NGPLs provide 3-4 times what Oil Sands provide in the total liquid petroleum category and are growing just a strongly. That said, there is a lot I don't know about how NGPLs get incorporated into the refinery stream and become fuel and I'm only just beginning to understand that story for the oil sands and bitumen.

And then comes the shale > kerogen > bitumen story, and then ..

Conventional Oil
Methane Hydrates

It's quite a fruit basket. Our energy future.
We will not go gentle into that good night.

The thing about NGPLs is that they don't go into refinery feedstock. They can't be used in gasoline except in small amounts. In general they are used as a replacement for natural gas in areas that don't have natural gas pipelines (liquified petroleum gas or LGP), or as feedstock for petrochemical plants.

Condensate is basically the same as very light crude oil, so it can be processed directly by refineries, but it can also be as a diluent for bitumen to allow it to flow through pipelines. Bitumen is basically the same as very heavy crude oil, so refineries designed to process very heavy crude oil can process it directly, too, and bitumen diluted with condensate is a pretty good feedstock for a sophisticated refinery, too.

Kerogen is a waxy solid that can only be produced by mining and converted into oil by high-temperature retorting, but nobody is doing that on an industrial scale now, so it's basically pie-in-the-sky.

Methane hydrates are found in the bottom of ocean beds, but nobody has a technique for producing them, so they are basically pie-in-the-sky, too.

The things a refinery can turn into gasoline and diesel fuel at this point in time are conventional crude oil, condensate, and bitumen. Conventional crude+condensate is the vast majority of refinery feedstock at this time. Bitumen is slowly coming on production but given the high capital costs, it is not going to happen very fast.

When crude+condensate peaks, it is really the beginning of Peak Oil. The increment of bitumen coming on-stream will delay the actual peak for a few years, but when C+C starts falling faster than oil sands production can rise, that's when the Peak Oil crunch will really hit.


Kerogen is a waxy solid that can only be produced by mining and converted into oil by high-temperature retorting, but nobody is doing that on an industrial scale now, so it's basically pie-in-the-sky.

This may be of interest. It's another attempt to get this deposit into production. It's just up the track from us and all very low key at the moment but they are ironing out the wrinkles



Well, as they say, it's a demonstration plant rather than a commercial-scale plant. It remains to be seen whether the project will be any more successful than its predecessor which went bankrupt.

The basic process is not new - it's been used since the middle ages - but the problem is doing it on a scale which is useful in the modern world, which uses oil on a vastly greater scale than in pre-industrial England. The ERoEI is very poor, and there are environmental issues which would become huge in a full-scale plant.

Thanks for the quick run through, RMG, but please don't take my little ladder of descent into more difficult hydrocarbon resources as an indication that I am necessarily expecting BAU.


I always appreciate your knowledge, thanks. As the tar sands ramp to higher levels do you forsee a shortage of available condensate to allow the bitumen to be diluted so that it can be delivered by pipeline? I am under the impression that conventional oil production is decreasing in Alberta and was not sure if the level of condensate output would be adequate for future oil sands production of say 5 million barrels per day.


There is already a shortage of condensate for diluent. However, what is happening is that pipeline companies are building reverse-flow condensate pipelines parallel to bitumen/condensate pipelines. The refineries in the US are stripping the condensate off the feedstock stream and sending it back to the oil sands to dilute more bitumen. The second thing that is happening is that oil sands plants are using synthetic crude oil (syncrude) to dilute bitumen instead of condensate. The third thing is that Alberta is importing more condensate from the US (liquids from the recent increase in gas production).

Actually, Alberta's conventional oil production has been increasing rather than decreasing in recent years - a consequence of high prices and drilling in tight oil formations, horizontal wells, and more frac'ing. Like in the US, there is limited upside potential to this supply increase. Unlike in the US, Alberta politicians know this is a temporary increase so they are not getting excited about it. The big potential for increased oil production is in the oil sands.

Thanks for the insights. On the condensate coming from the US, is a lot of that from the North Dakota production or is it mostly coming back by pipeline from the refineries that are using the diluted bitumen (aka syncrude)?

US total liquids production in 1970 was 11.7 mbpd, and in 2011 it was 10.1 mbpd (EIA), but . . .

In 1970, crude oil production (C+C) comprised 82% of total liquids (9.6/11.7), while in 2011, crude oil production comprised just 56% of total liquids (5.7/10.1).

By NGPL do you mean "natural gas liquids" that are condensed liquids from the natural gas stream?
From what ROCKMAN has told us about the eagleford shale, these are shorter chain hydrocarbons are more like very light oil(high API gravity). I dont think these are run through refineries like crude from Mexico (heavy & high in sulphur), but are made into things like propane and petrochemicals, IIRC. So they do not very well replace conventional oil that can be made into everything from paint thinner to road tar and gasoline to diesel fuel.

NGPL's are components of the natural gas stream which are fractionated out by gas plants and sold separately in liquid form. Of these, propane and butane are only liquid under pressure. Pentanes, hexanes, and heavier fraction are liquid at room temperature and can be used in gasoline. Ethane could also be considered a NGPL, although it is seldom liquefied because it requires extremely low temperatures. More often it is turned into polyethylene plastic.

I have a conceptual difficulty with counting a substance which is a gas at room temperature as if it was oil, even though it may be sold in liquid form. Most of them are used as natural gas replacements or in the petrochemical industry rather than by oil refineries. Only pentanes plus are used as oil refinery feedstock.

I think the US goverment uses them mainly to inflate the oil production statistics.

I truly appreciate the heads-up that these are not fuel stock.

Propane is, however, easy to use in an ICE vehicle, which is a primary reason for the distinction between liquid and gaseous fuels in reporting. This is not particularly common in the U.S. but it is the 3rd most common vehicle fuel internationally (behind gasoline and diesel). Given the price differential, I expect to see some towns which have butane or propane piped distribution to residences convert to natural gas (burner conversions at each residence is the big deal, centralized tanks are typically trivial) and truck in LNG to the central point. Mammoth Lakes, CA (propane) has been talking about this for years. Avalon (butane), too.

The GNE & ANE picture (Total Petroleum Liquids, Top 33 Net Oil Exporters, BP + Minor EIA Data) 2002 through 2010:

Westexas, you might want to consider putting a band below the Chindia band consisting of US imports. It still is the biggest importer I think or maybe China surpassed it this year.

“Energy companies in search of oil riches rivaling the biggest finds from Brazil to Angola are flocking to Texas shale”

Texas oil production peaked in 1972 at 3.45 million bbls per day. In 1995 we did 1.4 million bopd. Since then we’ve leveled off around 932,000 bbls of oil per day. So to reach our former peak we need add 2.52 million bbls of oil per day. Last time I saw the stat the average first 12 month flow rate of an Eagle Ford well was 400 bopd. So to increase the Texas production rate back to our peak would require drilling 63,000 new EF wells in the next 12 months. But given the 80%+ decline rate of the EF we would have to drill at least 50,000 more EF wells the next year just to keep production flat at our new peak level. And ditto for the following years.

No doubt the EF has arrested our decline rate and has pushed our production up a tad. But just to sustain our current position will require tens of thousands of new EF wells per year. To offer that the Eagle Ford as on par with Deep Water Brazil is beyond ignorance and is fraud IMHO. It takes a 3 minute web search and basic 4th grade math skills to generate the numbers above. Anyone writing the article has those capabilities. They either discovered the truth and chose to misrepresent the situation or just decided to make up their tale without any regards to finding out the readily available facts.

Jeez, ROCK, you're preaching to the choir here. I'll be glad to paste your comment into Bloomberg..

....too late, I pulled the trigger ;-/

Rock, I knew you would jump on that immediately since you are drilling in Texas in pursuit of smaller and smaller opportunities which are more and more expensive.

Texas oil production peaked in 1972 at over 3 times today's production, has been declining relentlessly in the 40 years since then. Some enthusiastic drilling for liquids-rich gas in the Eagle Ford formation is not going to change that. Certainly, current high prices allow oil companies to boost production from more and more marginal plays, but eventually it will all peter out and oil production will resume its relentless long-term decline.

Energy companies in search of oil riches rivaling the biggest finds from Brazil to Angola are flocking to Texas shale, where new wells have triggered a 230- fold increase in crude output in three years.

...is just plain fraudulent in its intent. For more information on how the article is leading you wrong, read the book, How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff.

Numbers don't lie, ... liars lie...

Why Magicians Are a Scientist’s Best Friend

... We are not scientists — with a few rare but important exceptions, like Ray Hyman and Richard Wiseman. But our highly specific expertise comes from knowledge of the ways in which our audiences can be led to quite false conclusions by calculated means — psychological, physical and especially sensory, visual being rather paramount since it has such a range of variety.

We can’t make magicians out of scientists — we wouldn’t want to — but we can help scientists “think in the groove” — think like a magician. And we should.

… scientists tend to think and perceive logically by using their training and observational skills — of course — and are thus often psychologically insulated from the possibility that there might be chicanery at work. This is where magicians can come in. No matter how well educated, or how basically intelligent, trained, or observant a scientist may be, s/he may be a poor judge of a methodology employed in deliberate deception.

Or for a more ‘colorful’ explanation of 'How to Lie with Statistics', Penn and Teller look at how numbers can be made to mean just about anything

Penn&Teller: BS w/Numbers 1of3
Penn&Teller: BS w/Numbers 2of3
Penn&Teller: BS w/Numbers 3of3

I kid you not. I saw a video this morning where Senator Inhofe stated that America could be energy independent in a matter of months if Government would just get out of the way. This was at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

You've got to drill deep to find anyone this stupid or mendacious.

ts - I mentioned it before: getting harder every day to classify myself as a conservative. I think we need 4 categories: liberals, conservatives, stupid/lying conservative and stupid/lying liberals.

As I noted the other day, I'm thinking of investing in vacuum cleaner companies. If Obama is reelected this year, millions of Angry While Males (AWM's) are going to spontaneously combust, leaving large piles of ashes in their recliners. One of my pet theories is that most people are going crazy, just at different rates, and a lot AWM's went crazy when Obama was sworn in, and it looks like many of them have stayed in crazyland ever since.

If Obama is reelected this year, millions of Angry While Males (AWM's) are going to spontaneously combust, leaving large piles of ashes in their recliners.

Ha ha! Thanks for that, WT, I rarely laugh aloud when reading :) As for Inhofe -- what an embarrassment to a thinking Okie (yes, there are a few of us).

Maybe you could do a post on your approaches to 'Courteous Texas Driving', since I personally feel I might need to improve my technique a little, for when I'm on the road with those ones that didn't 'quite' self-combust yet.

Seems like the BEST time to start doing more cycling is also possibly the worst.. it's a conundrum!

In a recent interview (I saw on Climate Progress) Senator Inhofe stated that when he first saw the information on GW he believed it and then when he realized the impacts to the economy he essentially decided that he no longer believed it and became a strong opponent. He might have been influenced a little bit by the lobbyists for the API too I suppose.

I believe that we (speaking of the Global we here) will not start to make significant efforts to deal with AGW and Peak Oil until we experience a significant level of catastrophe. Our species seems programmed to respond to short term threats and discounts the future very quickly. We, figuratively, need to be hit over the head with a 2X4 to get our focused attention. It seems a little sick to find oneself wishing for calamity, but there are only so many ways we can say the train is going to wreak. So I guess we need a wreak. The trouble with that idea is that the physics says that a big wreak in the near term is not likely at all. It will probably be some time before the train piles up. time that we do not have.


Looking at 2011 annual data (and note we have some discrepancies between the Texas RRC and the EIA for Texas oil production), it looks like the average net increase in US crude oil production per drilling rig (drilling for oil) in 2010 was 170 bpd per drilling rig per year, and in 2011 it was 200 bpd per drilling rig per year.

It takes a 3 minute web search and basic 4th grade math skills to generate the numbers above.

Right, not that I'm surprised anymore but I happen to be working with two young college grads at the moment who definitely seem to lack those two skills... especially the 4th grade math skills >:^(

Disclaimer: they are competent with searching the web for low quality entertainment.

FM – After posting I gave a second thought to my use of “fraud”. Maybe a little over the top. But the more I thunk on it the more I feel fraud may be exactly the case. I’ve debated some of the biggest Eagle Ford cornucopians on TOD and none of them came even close to this level of misrepresentation. I now suspect it was written specifically to be used by someone to hype the stock of an EF public company. Maybe an IPO for a startup. The fact they don’t even try to offer cooked numbers is even more suspicious IMHO. They just offer grandiose statements with no arguable stats. I doubt the SEC would spend time hunting for the link.

I once helped bust a boiler room that was pitching a bogus drilling deal to folks with no tech understanding of the oil biz. But their BS paled in comparison. The most satisfying aspect of that bust was the attitude of one of the buttholes running the scam. He showed us the pitch knowing we would understand it was a scam. But since we were oil patch he figured we would be good with it. Still one of my biggest disappointments was not being there the day the Texas Rangers took him away in cuffs.

I think westexas was using this analogy in yesterday's drumbeat ...

Why U.S. oil production gains are like water pumps on the Titanic

Loren Steffy is a very sharp reporter and writer, and he he one of the handful of reporters in the MSM willing to look at and to discuss net export data. Incidentally, IMO he wrote the best book on the Macondo blowout:


A Year After Fukushima, Clean Energy Still Just a Promise in Japan

Even if you’ve never been to Tokyo, you’ve probably seen its iconic boulevards of neon. They light up the city’s famous Shinjuku and Ginza districts, and sometimes seem bright enough to light up the entire world.

In the days after last year’s crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, though, these boulevards largely went dark. They lost their supply of electricity from Fukushima and elsewhere, as the triple meltdown there triggered a nationwide power crisis.

A year later, Tokyo’s lights are back on, but the way many Japanese think about the electricity that runs them may have changed for good.

See: http://www.theworld.org/2012/03/fukushima-japan-clean-energy/

And if I may...

Due to safety concerns, one of our clients has asked if we could bump up light levels around the perimeter of their main building. Much of the light that illuminates the walkways and parking areas is supplied by ground level up lighters that bounce light off the building's white façade. Well, that's the theory but sometimes nature has other ideas in mind as evidenced below.

After we put down the garden shears, we're going to replace the 400-watt high pressure sodium lamps in these fixtures (460-watts with ballast) with 150-watt ceramic metal halide lamps and new pulse start kits, for a net savings of 290-watts per head. Granted, that may not sound like a lot, but retrofitting just four of these twenty fixtures will save enough electricity over the course of the year to offset our home's total space heating and domestic hot water needs. And although gross lumens will fall, delivered lumens will go up and switching to a pure white light will greatly improve visual comfort and acuity.


Phoenix could have another summer of dust storms

... "The drier we are, the more concern I have for the summer and the blowing dust," Eric Massey, head of air quality for the state's Department of Environmental Quality, told the East Valley Tribune "I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't concerned about the lack of rain."

3rd generation Arizonan here. This is not new, although it is new to the majority of the current AZ population.

Underground pipeline construction inhibited cartographic inaccuracy

North Dakota has more than 7,000 miles of underground oil and gas pipeline, and requests from state and federal agencies to dig are sent in weekly. However, they cannot be seen on any state map, and no one knows exactly how far they stretch, officials said Friday.

An oil boom in western North Dakota has increased the need for pipelines in the state, said Justin Kringstad, North Dakota Pipeline Authority director. Not all of the pipelines are documented.

“It’s all part of the maturation process of energy development,” Lisa Call said. “Along with that energy development comes development of an adequate mapping system, and the state just doesn’t seem to really be there yet.”

... and what happens when they start to rust and leak?

Sounds like a lot of fun when one springs a leak out in the middle of nowhere and the state has no idea who it belongs to. Big chorus of "Not Mine, Not Mine!"

How does pipeline construction inhibit cartographic inaccuracy ?

Maybe they meant to say ....construction inhibited by cartographic innaccuracy ?

Call 1-800-one-call before digging.


A lot of infrastructure is like that. Underground high-voltage distribution lines... the maps say one thing, reality may be quite different.

Yep, saw what happened when a JCB found reality instead of the map. BIG bite out of the bucket, fuse on underground to overground pole vaporised, two workers in need of a trouser transplant.


Here, the bucket is already in and the power system tries to re-energize the line:

"As Young Lose Interest in Cars, G.M. Turns to MTV for Help"
This article ties in with what I've been reading about "peak travel". The total distance travelled by car per year and number of new cars sold in the US is levelling off. This is due to a number of factors. Rising fuel costs, increased congestion, and interestingly it seems cars have lost their luster and are now regarded as mundane. But the car companies have gotten used to the explosive growth in new car sales they enjoyed in the second half of the twentieth century, and are quite unprepared for the new reality of slow, or no, growth.

I suspect cars are losing their luster on both ends of the age spectrum. People generally drive less as they age, and even the boomers who still love cars will be leaving them parked more. Young people no longer need cars to connect; so much is done online now. That may not be a good thing - I have a feeling they are missing something by socializing via Facebook and Twitter instead of face to face - but it sure saves on gasoline.

For regular gasoline, my neighborhood Chevron in Vancouver is currently charging 1.432 CA$/liter = 1.00215 US$/CA$ * 3.785412 liter/gallon = 5.43 US$/gallon.

This is only about 5% lower than the peak in 2008. The tank in my own car is almost dry but I don't really feel like filling it up at the moment. Strangely, the roads are packed with automobiles today, maybe because the weather is bright and sunny after an extensive rainy period. One thing I've noticed over the last few years is a sharp reduction of vehicles with US license plates. It seems like Americans have given up on visiting Canada. I wonder why?!

It seems like Americans have given up on visiting Canada. I wonder why?!

One of my cousins got married in Michigan 2 weeks ago. One of the main reasons we didn't go? Money is tight, and the extra $160.00 for passports (and the level of inconvenience in getting the paperwork expedited) pushed it off the table for us.

I used to go to the states a couple of times a year (Science Fiction conventions and pals on the other side of the border.) We keep talking about getting passports, but it's just not a priority.


One of the extremely annoying aspects of the security theater related to the 9/11 overreaction. You need a passport to travel in North America, and border hassle is much higher. I was in Detroit (business convention) a few months back, I was in Anacortes, WA (niece's wedding) a few weeks ago. Historically, I would have crossed the border in both instances. I didn't. Same applies to being at the Mexican border in AZ and CA. I haven't crossed in years. I actually avoid the border counties because it annoys me for f'ing paramilitaries in forage caps with automatic weapons to pull me over in my own damn country, then wave me on because I happen to be white. AZ is overrun with a bunch of preening nativists who aren't from around here and don't realize that they are the interlopers, AZ's minority population percentage is almost back to where it was when my Mom was born in 1946, and it's still a lot more white than when my grandmother was born in 1923. My Latina sister-in-law's family have been in AZ since before it was in the U.S. and about 1/7th of U.S. Latinos can say the same.

I highly recommend the comments section of the NYT article above "As Young Lose Interest in Cars, G.M. Turns to MTV for Help". The article itself isn't all that much but the comments are really zingers- read the comments. Young people are saying something most of us feel: "driving sucks". The only reason people drive is because they have to, but with I-phones, etc. people no longer need a car to connect so they are ditching it. Most find driving so boring, scary and expensive that they would rather surf the web on a bus. As gas prices keep moving up I think you are going to see a real shift to mass transit. The roads could be lot more empty in just ten years at this rate. I felt good after reading this article.

Yes, I was really impressed with the comments on this article. It was really refreshing to find out that the Millenial generation appears to be thinking rationally. Now if they started voting, we may get some better politicians! Of course the quality of the candidates has just gotten worse and worse.

It seemed that the "car culture" peaked with the baby boom. I run into all sorts of people in that bracket who still go on and on about cars of one sort or another.

Cars, records, and movies for the boomers, PC's, cassettes/CD's, and video for Gen-X; internet, wireless, ipods, smartphones and Youtube/Facebook for Gen-Y.

"Cars, records, and movies for the boomers, PC's, cassettes/CD's, and video for Gen-X; internet, wireless, ipods, smartphones and Youtube/Facebook for Gen-Y."

Keep that thought in mind when someone starts complaining that BAU is about to end. Yes it is, because it's always ending. And at the same time a new BAU is taking it's place. The process is so gradual you tend not to notice.

By the way, on that subject, work has finally impressed a Blackberry upon me. I have three bars of coverage in the house, which is much better (sort of) than the cell phone they gave me in 2009. The cell phone was "no coverage" at home, which sort of made it pointless. After a year they gave up and took it back. So AT&T must have upgraded something. Or Blackberries have better antennae than Nokias.

As far as I'm concerned, that progression of gadgets and gizmos IS what BAU is all about. That's what is (putatively) about to end - the notion of continual and speedy material "progress". It is precisely BAU that generates the train of new gadgets.

But the gadgets get ever tinier!

My Dad has two cars---he's in his seventies. He has "always" had 2 cars, sometimes 3, so it is so normal for him. He is having trouble processing why younger people don't want the wonderful vehicles of all kinds that have virtually defined his life.

I am Gen X--in my mid 40s. But I haven't had a car for 16 years, ever since moving to Japan. So I'm feeling less and less strange not having a car. Many people now are rejecting them. I feel stronger to tell my dad, "Your way of looking at the world----through a windshield---- is coming to an end!"

I have some friends in their 30s....it is true that they have lots of little digital devices. They seem very dependent on them. Some have cars and some don't. They don't seem to "love" their cars in the way that my dad loves his cars. They seem like they are ready to get rid of their cars and just put up with them for convenience.

FWIW, my Nokia handsets routinely dropped calls even around town but after I switched to Blackberry the situation improved considerably; lost calls are still a problem in more marginal areas, but my Bold 9000 holds on to weaker signals better than anything else I've owned to date.


This baby boomer concurs with anyone who prefers a bus to a car and feels that mass transit is more productive and pleasurable than driving
a car. But maybe it depends on where you live.

However,buses are free for anyone who lives in the town near me and very few people take the bus,anyway. The car is still king..

The car is still king..

Reading the comments of this article gives me the impression that the King is about to be dethroned. Peak oil will lead to revolutionary cultural changes, which have already affected American youngsters. It's hard to believe that the new generation actually wants automobile money to be redirected into better public transit, cyling lanes, and denser neighborhoods. Are we witnessing a major shakeup like the nineteen sixties cultural revolution?

The car will be king for a while yet. America has spent the last 80 years making itself completely dependent on cars. And this is what people wanted for the most part. There's no denying the sheer convenience of private automobile transportation. Nothing else can compete. Of course it probably can't last as it relies too much on nonrenewable energy.

But whats happening now is that the car has reached saturation point in America. Just about everyone who wants a car has one. People are driving as much as they want. In prior decades the increase in car ownership and distance driven was exponential. Car companies and governments had become dependent on this constant growth. Now it has reached saturation point and the growth is levelling off they are baffled, and also face losing a lot of money.

And I like how GM turned to MTV to try and make itself more relevant to young people. Isn't MTV almost as much a dinosaur as GM now?

Regardless of whether the car is king or not, they're unnecessarily inefficient using gas in the US. Europe is crammed with cars but Europe uses significantly less gas per capita, partly because their cars are more fuel efficient (other reasons are good mass transit and greater population density).

Simple graph of oil consumption per capita for different world regions:


Yes, I think the car is on its way to being dethroned. Younger people are going to find that driving will be less and less fun every year. Their older, boomer parents are going to be horrified at what will happen to fuel prices. If they are not careful they will find themselves trapped in the suburbs, unable to afford to drive on a pension and nowhere near a transit route.

One of my wife's nephews, with a newly minted engineering degree, just got his first engineering job and is buying his first condo in Edmonton.

His job is working for a giant pipeline company on doubling the capacity of a pipeline leading from the Athabasca oil sands to Edmonton. One of his main criteria for the location of the condo was proximity to bus and light rail transit.

That should tell you where he thinks things are going in the future.

Their older, boomer parents are going to be horrified at what will happen to fuel prices.

I had just this discussion with my barber yesterday morning.

I pointed out:
1. Back in 1993, when I bought my 1st new car, I remember 91 octane unleaded was about US$1/gallon.
2. I mentioned that, even with rounding down, that now 91 octane unleaded was about US$4/gallon for us in SCAL.
3. Also noted that the time for this was roughly twenty years.

Then I said to assume that the change in prices continued.

So then in another twenty years, if things continue as before, that fuel would be running about US$16/gallon when she and I were at retirement age. (Ouch!)

Her reply, with a bit of a worried chuckle: "Stop scare-ing me!"

So she 'got it' and I made sure to give a 50% tip for her participation in that thought experiment ;D

If they are not careful they [boomers] will find themselves trapped in the suburbs, unable to afford to drive on a pension and nowhere near a transit route.

It's going to be more "interesting" than that implies; there's no good solution for most such people. They're not going to be able to afford to sell the house and spend the rest of their years in an area well-served by light rail. They will quickly run out of ever-depreciating currency from the house sale, with which to pay astronomical and ever-ballooning downtown rents and taxes. Nor will all the walking (especially on the slick winter ice), waiting, and standing around in the heat and cold, that goes with living any sort of life using only buses and rail be likely to be especially compatible with poor and ever-declining physical fitness and bone strength.

IOW when all is said and done, and setting aside nostalgia for the ways of the now-distant past, one big difference between now and then is that back then, with hardly anything (save for a few odds and ends like setting bones) that could properly be called medical care, rather few people survived long enough to have the aforementioned problems, and even those who did were often done in as the problems set in. And in the event that electricity supplies to ordinary folks become dodgy, moving to a hot climate will only trade the risk of being confined in a wheelchair by a winter fall on ice for the risk of dying or becoming mentally impaired from the effects of a summer heat wave.

with hardly anything (save for a few odds and ends like setting bones) that could properly be called medical care, rather few people survived long enough to have the aforementioned problems,

Depends on where they came from. My father lived to be 95, my grandfather to 99, my great grandfather to 95, and my great-great grandfather to 90. My great-great grandfather was born in 1776, the year the American Revolution started. One of my great-uncles lived to be 100 and two of my great-aunts to 101. The longest surviving ancestor I found in the family tree was a woman who lived for 106 years, from the middle 1500's to the middle 1600's.

In actuality, the recent generations haven't done nearly as well. They died of lifestyle diseases like heart attacks from eating too much fat, lung cancer from smoking too much, cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much, and AIDS from, well, you know.

However, my ancestors lived up near the Arctic Circle in Norway, where diets were low in fat and sugar and high in fish and veggies, everybody got tons of exercise because there were no roads and they couldn't go anywhere except by walking and skiing. There wasn't much to die of except cold which they knew how to handle, and if they started feeling bad, they would would go into the sauna and beat each other with birch branches until they felt better again. It seemed to work for them.

Well, mileages, so to speak, vary greatly between families. Some are lucky, some not. Just passing through the cemetery of an old church almost anywhere, not just in the USA, is enough to make it absolutely clear that living to 95 used to be exceedingly rare, while dying at 30 or 40 was very, very common. So I doubt that tree is representative of anything other than excellent but random genetic luck.

Meh. Doubled-up in a trailer park in the Sunbelt with energy storage in their electric golf cart.

Probably something like that. But they'd better pray that the electricity never goes out, 'cos the golf cart battery isn't going to run the A/C for very long at all; the summer temps are a real problem, especially combined with some of the medications; and many of those double-wides become ovens within minutes of the A/C going out.

If the A/C goes out, and it's hot enough to be dangerous, you drive the golf cart to the rec hall (cool centers are established thruout my company's service territory), and play cards or bingo until the power comes back on. If it gets so bad that electric reliability is truly dodgy, the rec hall will have a backup generator.

Tstreet, this baby boomer (born in 1951) takes the bus every day to work. I tell my younger transportation engineers that they need to retool from highway design to railroads, mass transit, and new urbanism design. Three years ago I was considered a wing nut; now I have people beginning to listen. Like Rockman, I am a conservative ready to reclassify the whole Republican presidential slate into some new, strange category.

I'm also a boomer who takes the bus to work. I specifically chose my current job because its location allows me to commute by transit. By the way, I'm really starting to like this new generation.

I'm also a boomer who takes the bus to work.

*raises hand* same here.

I do a mix of walking and taking public transit on Mondays.

Tuesday through Friday I telecommute from home.

Forget Iran, We're Facing Much Bigger Crises

US and EU oil/gasoline demand, or refinery output, give it a name, is way down, like anywhere between 5% or a multiple of that. China's oil demand must have been hit too in view of other data like the iron ore ones mentioned above. And in the face of that oil prices are near record highs? Excuse me? Looks like demand is not up. And no, supply is not down either. So? Stuart Staniford had a post up on TheOilDrum recently that puts a lot of peak oil assumptions in question, so much so that I intend to write a re-definition of the entire principle in the light of the unfolding financial crisis, as in: Peak Oil: Not in Your Lifetime. If only I had the time to do the research.

I think this is it the post he is talking about: January Oil Supply and his charts do show "all liquids" going up and up and up. But he does have one chart where he shows C+C on a plateau. And to Stuart's credit he says as much.

You can see that during the C&C plateau period since 2005, about 1mpd in additional total supply has come from a long standing trend in the increase in natural gas liquids (NGPL), while another 1mpd has come from "Other Liquids" and appears to be specifically a response to the plateauing of conventional oil. This is mainly biofuels. Note that the increases in "Other Liquids" appear to have leveled off in 2011. The world has very limited capacity to produce more biofuel without causing severe increases in food prices.

I have no idea why this guy thinks we will not see peak oil in our lifetime. That last chart and the last paragraph Stuart wrote indicates that peak oil is upon us.

Ron P.

The annual EIA data for 2011 pretty much show a continuation of the 2005 to 2010 trend--virtually flat global crude oil and total petroleum liquids production, with a continued slight increase in global total liquids production (up at 0.5%/year), so it's a reasonable assumption that the Global Net Exports (GNE) and Available Net Exports (ANE) data will show a similar trend. Here are the charts for 2002 to 2010:

Five annual "Gap" charts follow, showing the gaps between where we would have been at the 2002 to 2005 rates of increase, versus the actual data in 2010 (common vertical scale):

EIA Total Liquids (including biofuels):

BP Total Petroleum Liquids:

EIA Crude + Condensate:

Global Net Oil Exports (GNE, BP & Minor EIA data, Total Petroleum Liquids):

Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia’s net imports):

I would particularly note the divergence between the first chart, Total Liquids, and the last chart, Available Net Exports (ANE).

Regarding China, I still find the Thirties analogue interesting. Reportedly there were three million more cars on the road in the US in 1937, than in 1929, and China would be to our current predicament as the US was to the Thirties. After dropping briefly in the early Thirties, global oil consumption increased thereafter.

If--and it is of course a big "If"--but if we extrapolate the 2005 to 2010 data trends, the post-2005 supply of Cumulative Available Net Exports (CANE) would be 50% depleted by the end of next year. This is the total cumulative supply of Global Net Exports of oil available to importers other than China & India. So, "Peak oil not in your lifetime" seems a tad optimistic.

(Note that Raúl Ilargi Mendoz is "Ilargi" from The Automatic Earth.)

I have no idea why this guy thinks we will not see peak oil in our lifetime. That last chart and the last paragraph Stuart wrote indicates that peak oil is upon us.

I believe he said that because he wishes to discredit the The Oil Drum community. By making such a statement he is basically giving the impression that the predictions made by Oil Drummers are woefully inaccurate. Now the evidence behind his claim is very weak as his only proof appears to be the graph showing ever increasing all liquids production. This graph can give the impression that all is well. Let's not forget most people do not think critically and are not educated in such matters so can easily be fooled. Plus in addition to all that you got to remember you are working on the back foot as people want to believe the cornucopian's claim. So naturally they take advantage of that fact and sprout out nonsense to further their agendas.

FYI, the author, Ilargi, is a former Oil Drum contributor.

monsta - "...he is basically giving the impression that the predictions made by Oil Drummers are woefully inaccurate...". Been thinking about another tact to take: maybe we should just concede that we can't predict PO or that it will occur in any relevant time frame. After all, whether we're at PO today or not isn't the cause of any of the problems per se. The primary problem is the cost of energy. And a tie in to that is the availability. So playing the role of devil's advocate let's assume we have the capability of producing significant more oil today.

Then the cornucopians have a simple question that needs answering: why are the oil exporters charging the buyers such high prices? An easy answer: because they can. It isn't relevant if the KSA could add another 5 million bbls of oil to the market if they offer it at the current market price of oil: no one can afford to buy more oil than they are today. The US consumer doesn’t care how much oil OPEC can produce. They don’t care how much oil we’ll recover from the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Deep Water GOM. They care about the price of gasoline. And that’s determined by the price of oil. And that’s a function of demand. Just because there is a demand for cheaper oil doesn’t mean the exporters will meet that demand even if they have the capability. Simply put if we aren’t at PO and the world continues producing at a constant or an increasing rate but demand at current prices stays the same or actually increases: motor fuel prices aren’t going to decrease. Why would they? Just because exporters might be able to increase their export rate doesn’t mean they will. The cornucopians say they can today but aren’t choosing to do so. Why should we expect that dynamic to change especially in the face of increasing imports by developing nations and the net effect of ELM? If the KSA wanted oil prices to be $80/bbl then they could make it so tomoorow by offering all their oil, including any excess capacity, at that price. So what would all other exporters do? And the KSA can decide who they sell their oil to such as only end users. Thus no one could hord that cheaper oil or resell it. Logic says the KSA does do this for a simple reason: oil is selling for the price they want. So again a simple question: what will cause the KSA to want less income from the oil exports?

Basically: OK…we’re not at PO. So what? If true it hasn’t brought the price of oil down. And if we don’t reach PO for another 50 years? So what again? If we’re not at PO now and still have high oil prices hurting the global economy why should we expect that dynamic to change? Maybe we should stop focusing of PO and start banging on what the real issue may be: peak economy. Is there any valid argument that we’ll see oil prices return to former low levels whether there’s extra production capacity available or not? If someone thinks there is then they need to explain why we aren’t seeing that happen today. We can argue till the cows come whether we’re at PO or not. But none of that will change the fact that a lot of oil is selling for $100+ per bbl today. And that’s all 99%+ of the folks on the planet care about today IMHO.

This has similar implications as to why you don’t see the Rockman join the AGW discussions very often. The details and the mounting evidence don’t interest me. I understood the potential damage from AGW by the time I received my BS in Earth Sciences in 1973. For a geology student who studied far more radical climate changes in earth’s past it was a no brainer. I see a similar dynamic trying to get the public to respond to AGW as to PO. And I meant RESPOND and not UNDERSTAND. I suspect a large percentage of both denier groups do understand the problem but chose to not acknowledge it for a variety of reasons. Recognizing a problem doesn't fix it. Developing solutions to a problem doesn't solve it. Recognizing a problem, developing a solution AND implimenting the solution might fix the problem. Continuing a vigourous debate over PO/AGW maybe be nothing more then a delaying action by many deniers who actually understand the dangers. I suspect many of our political leaders fall into that category: just sit on the fence and delay and just keep getting re-elected. Or even worse: support one position even though they don't believe it but their constituants do.

Despite high fuel prices, too many cargo trucks run empty

"Every day thousands of trucks in Asia, Europe, and the Americas run empty, pushing up the world’s fuel prices and degrading its air.

In Britain, a quarter of trucks on the roads carry no cargo and more than half transport only partial loads, according to the European Environment Agency. In the United States, 28 percent of truck trailers are running empty, according to the National Private Truck Council in Arlington, Va."

EDIT : There are always interesting oil and gas related articles at the Alaska Dispatch

Yair...I have posted here before that when I first started driving trucks in the late 'fiftys I worked for an outfit that ran the rigs in pairs . . . a body truck and a semi.

The theory was that it saved fuel, wear and tear, and provided a "buddy system" to provide backup for tyre repairs and breakdowns.

When empty were required to to load the body truck onto the semi. . .and if we had a small light backload it went on the body truck which THEN went on the semi.

It strikes me that with todays communications it would not be that difficult to devise a central booking agency that organised such a "piggyback" system for the hundreds of rigs running empty on our roads.


On the surface it seems like a practical idea. However, don't companies hiring truckers have different vetting processes to determine driving history, criminal history, etc.? Maybe even different levels of drug testing depending on the type of loads being hauled. Also, if some trucker hauls a 3rd party load and T-bone's the truck, which company is at fault? The one that he works for or the 3rd party? Does the trucker himself then open himself up to lawsuits by carrying 3rd party loads? Will the insurance companies allow just any trucker to haul loads for a particular company? Might end up being too complicated insurance wise.

Obama adviser: tapping strategic oil reserve still an option

A senior White House adviser said Sunday that opening the nation's strategic petroleum reserve to bring down gas prices remains an option.

"It's not a political decision," Plouffe senior adviser to President Barack Obama said, noting that in the past, disruptions in supply caused administrations to tap the oil reserve.

"There are supply disruptions right now in places like Sudan," Plouffe said. "You still have oil not at its peak in places like Libya. Obviously the sanctions are working, the crippling sanctions the president has put in place are working in the Middle East and strangling the Iranian economy."

At the same time, "there is no doubt that what we have to do in this country, we have to use less oil," Plouffe added.

S – “"There are supply disruptions right now in places like Sudan," Plouffe said”. So the administration plan is to ship our SPR oil to the Sudan? LOL. And if we did could they afford to pay for it? Again, for those that missed it before: the govt is mandated by congressional law to sell SPR oil at the going market rate. The price is benchmarked to Light La. Sweet prices which have recently been bouncing between $125-$130 per bbl. So the SPR oil sold in the US cannot bring fuel prices down. It might cause the other oil exporters to reduce their prices to pick up the lost US market share. Or they could simply reduce their exports by 1.5% for 30 days and keep their prices where they are. Which was would you bet they go?

Back in the summer of 2011 when we had the last SPR release that oil was sold (actually more like loaned) to US refiners for an average price of $107/bbl. And what was Light La. Sweet selling for just before the release? That would have been $107/bbl. It’s easy to confirm: those are the actual numbers the govt reported. Interesting that I haven’t seen anyone in the MSM point that out in during an administration’s press conference when they offer the release as a way to bring gasoline prices down. They will point out that gasoline prices declined after the 2011 release. But they’ll also conveniently forget to mention that gasoline prices had been declining for 3 months before the release and just continued on the same down trend.

Sinopec to Boost Oil, Gas Production to Counter Refining Losses

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, will ramp up crude production and develop natural gas fields to counter losses from selling diesel and gasoline at state-mandated prices.

Petrobras To Raise Gasoline Prices If Oil Prices Remain High -Report

Brazil's government-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA will have to raise gasoline prices if international oil prices remain at current levels, according to Petrobras' chief executive, Maria das Gracas Foster.

Darwinian, do you think China can increase its oil production? If I remember correctly, you suspected they are at peak now and likely to go into decline. Do you think they are just blowing smoke?

Oil production in china has dropped 200,000 barrels per day from its peak last year or 4 percent. They may be able to do some infield drilling and increase production somewhat but not much. Yes in my opinion they have peaked but that doesn't mean that some producers cannot increase production slightly.

Ron P.

Temperatures could rise by 3C by 2050, models suggest

... People planning for the impacts of climate change need to consider the possibility of warming of up to 1.4-3.0C (2.5-5.4F) by 2050, even on a mid-range emission scenario, the researchers say.

He said the higher range of the prediction was looking "increasingly likely", for three particular reasons:

- release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from seabed and land [positive feedback]
- "massive changes" in reflection of light at some places on the Earth's surface [albedo]
- reducing air pollution in Asia that will reflect less solar energy back into space. [global dimming reversal]

That is well within the likely lifetimes of everyone under forty.

"Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas should be required reading for everyone on the planet, so people can connect these temperature numbers with likely consequences.

And what does this mean for end-of-century temps. I would expect that they could be north of 6 C, since the feedbacks mentioned build on each other over time.

If we had set out to destroy life on our home planet, I'm not sure we could have devised a more effective, rapid, and long-lasting strategy.

Even with nuclear holocaust, the knock on effects mostly go away in a few years.

Excess carbon in the atmosphere will continue overheating the planet for millennia at least, especially as it will be constantly resupplied by ocean beds, terrestrial soils, igniting forests and other flora, the over carbonated ocean surface itself, and probably some other sources I haven't though of.

From this perspective--that of all life on earth--PO does seem like a rather minor side show.

Are the Good Times Never Coming Back?

There is growing chatter in economics circles about the unsettling possibility that the nation may never recover completely from the recent recession. ...

... The economists who wrote the new paper, James Stock of Harvard and Mark Watson of Princeton, contend that the key reason for the faltering pace of growth is that the work force is expanding more slowly. Population growth has slowed, and so has the pace at which women are entering the labor market. ...

Yet the US population is still growing pretty rapidly. Most conventional economists use formula in which economic growth is a product of population, capital and "technology". Energy and other resources are assumed to be infinite. As long as you can keep the population growing towards infinity you can keep the economy growing toward infinity too, and peak oil and other resource constraints are irrelevant.

Which is nonsense. The main reason for the faltering pace of growth is probably oil supply plateauing.

I think it is a bit more complex than just oil plateauing. The driver for the economy is net energy available to do useful work, what physicists call free energy. The net free energy per capita has been in decline since about mid 1970s due to an increasing decline in energy returned on energy invested. Coupled with deceleration of oil production (long before the peak) we have been experiencing a marginal decline in net free energy per capita (considering the population has still been increasing). This has been the cause of the steady upward pressure on costs, which, in turn, was a factor in upward wage pressures that led to industries jumping continent to find cheap labor - that is labor with lower energy lifestyles.

Its the same argument, essentially, but more nuanced. This election cycle the catch phrase should be "its the energy stupid!"

It's past time for a new paradigm. Good times are possible without growth. Psychic growth is where it's at. Oh I know. Let's pump up the population.

Another example of economists living in a vacuum. And I majored in economics back in the stone age. Even them,some of us recognized that we live on spaceship earth and resources, including energy,are limited.

Mexican Drought Fuels Despair

... The drought in northern Mexico has led to massive starvation amongst cattle, who have nothing to graze. Normally in these situations, farmers would be able to increase the amount of grain in their cattles' diet; however, the drought has drastically increased the price of grain as well.

Across Mexico, farmland is scattered with carcasses of farm animals who have died of starvation. Large amounts of land have been deemed no longer useful for any agriculture, making the situation worse.

ow here's this from Trenberth via ClimateProgress:


The passage that particularly struck me was:

"in the United States, extremes of high temperatures have been occurring at a rate of twice those of cold extremes (Meehl et al. 2009), and this has accelerated considerably since June 2010 to a factor of 2.7, and in the summer of 2011 to a factor of over 8"

So from 2 to 2.7 to 8 in just the last few years! What is the next number in this sequence?

"For the year-to-date, there have been 14,737 warm temperature records set or tied, compared to 1,296 cold records — a ratio of about 11-to-1."


I can’t help but get the sense from these numbers that things are spinning out of whack even faster than I thought. What does the ratio have to be before denialists start getting a clue?

Even if they get a clue, they will just enter the next phase which is the weather is fine.

Update on Denver weather. Today the weatherman was happy since Denver once again tied the record high. Yesterday he was disappointed since D was a few degrees short. No mention of any associated. AGW.

"U.S. gasoline hits $3.93 a gallon: survey"


The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to $3.9297 on March 23, the survey of about 2,500 gasoline retailers in the continental United States found.

The price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose 11.49 cents over the past two weeks as profit margins for refiners and gasoline retailers increased. That was a smaller increase than the 12.31-cent rise in the previous survey, which covered the two weeks that ended March 9.

"Profit margins have been exceptionally narrow for quite some time and they have normalized," survey editor Trilby Lundberg told Reuters. "Crude oil price hikes have found their way through to the pump."

For the last month pump prices have gone up on average 5.95 or close to 6 cents a week. Not that much, but prices had already gone high before these latest hikes and we are now approaching a national average of 4 dollars.

Locally here a couple hours north of SF we are at, 4.56 at one station and 450 at the other. 4.35 at a cheapo station but its 14 miles away.

I'm wondering if price will get to 5 dollars in CA by July 4th.

Spain is being destroyed by the corruption of the upper class and the cretinism of the lower class
Spanish activists rally against drilling

PROTESTERS smeared with black paint have demonstrated against plans by Madrid-based Repsol to drill for oil off Spain's Canary Islands in a joint venture with Woodside Petroleum.

More than 1000 protesters massed outside the national government offices on the island of Tenerife at the weekend, angered at Madrid's approval of Repsol's application to explore for oil off the Atlantic archipelago.

Other demonstrations were planned on the six other main islands and in Barcelona, as well as in Madrid, where about 100 young activists with black handprints on their faces protested outside the national environment ministry.

The protesters, who included local government officials, said the hunt for oil threatened the Canary Islands' vital tourism industry and rare marine life.

One third of the population in the Canary Islands are unemployed and the islands are not viable without oil, Spain imports all the Oil, Gas, Uranium and (most of the) Coal it uses and the country is getting hammered by the cost of the fuel, although consumption of FF is falling at a steep 6% a year (in the EU, 3% a year).
It is interesting that although most European countries are lacking in FF, with the exception of Norway and partly the UK, the PIIGS are the most deficient. Once a graph was posted here showing how Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain were in an "island of grief" in comparison with the others.

The High-Velocity trains start to run off the rails
Portugal drops high-speed Madrid-Lisbon rail link

The dream of traveling by train from Madrid to Lisbon in two hours, 45 minutes will remain as such after Portugal announced on Thursday it was abandoning the project.

The plan to build a high-speed rail link between the Iberian peninsula’s two capitals was agreed in 2003 by then-Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar and his Portuguese counterpart José Manuel Durão Barroso, with the optimistic date for the maiden voyage set for the first quarter of 2011.

Once I went by train from Alicante in the Mediterranean to Lisbon passing of course through Madrid, (about a thousand Kms, 621 miles) the trip lasted a whole day.

Rocky, westexas et al - I'm off tomorrow to Africa for a couple of weeks (don't ask...I would have to kill you). Net access uncertain. Some TODsters mistakenly think I know a lot of the answers and I don't want to them to think I'm ignoring them. So y'all please cover for me.

Have a nice trip Rock. We'll miss you!

Can't stay away from you favorite country, EG! LOL
Hope your yellow fever is up to date.

Bon Voyage

Bizarre Trash Collects Near Oil Patch:

"The number of trucking companies operating in North Dakota increased by 600 last year to about 6,000, with most working in the oil patch, Balzer said. Nearly 100 new trucking companies were established in January alone, he said."

Have comments been deliberately diasabled on the global oil risks post or is it just an oversight?

Probably an oversight. I'll ask.