Drumbeat: March 30, 2012

There Will Be Oil—and That’s the Problem

I have the cover story this week in the dead-tree/living table TIME, on the future of oil. Gas prices have dominated the political conversation for weeks—at least until the Supreme Court started its health care hearings—and with the summer driving season just around the corner, the national obsession won’t be lift any time soon. Republicans and Democrats, oil executives and environmentalists have seized the opportunity to take potshots at each other, with one side claiming that more drilling will greatly ease the pain at the pump, and the other side arguing that energy efficiency and alternative energy are the only solutions. (I lean toward the latter.) The reason gas prices are so high, of course, is because oil itself is expensive, with Brent crude over $125 barrel. And that’s largely because oil markets are spooked over possible conflict with Iran, which could take one of the world’s major crude suppliers offline—and potentially block the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world’s oil flows.

Still, even fear of war in the Middle East doesn’t really explain why oil has remained so expensive as demand from the world’s biggest consumer—the U.S.—has been falling and the global economy remains sluggish. That fact—along with evidence that production of conventional oil seems to have plateaued a few years ago—has renewed fears that the world is approaching something like peak oil. The worry is that these high prices could just be the beginning, a signal that our thirst for oil is finally exceeding our supply. “The fact is that most of the world’s oil wells are in decline,” says David King, the former chief scientific adviser for the British government and the co-author of a recent Nature paper on oil supplies. “The only way to keep supply up is through the heroic discovery of new oil reserves.”

Oil Rises From Year’s Biggest Decline as Finance Ministers Meet

Oil advanced in New York, heading for a second quarterly gain, as Europe’s finance ministers met in Copenhagen to increase rescue funds to temper the region’s debt crisis.

Crude rose as much as 0.9 percent, the first gain in three days, as consumer spending in the U.S. jumped in February by the most in seven months, showing the biggest part of the economy is strengthening. Prices fell 2.5 percent yesterday, the biggest drop since December. European equities extended the biggest first-quarter advance since 2006 and the euro gained while default risk fell. For the week, prices are lower after U.S. stockpiles climbed to the highest level since August and Western countries discussed tapping emergency reserves.

OPEC oil output rises in March, despite Iran drop

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC oil output has risen in March to its highest level since October 2008 as higher supply from Iraq and further recovery in Libya's production offset a drop in shipments from Iran, a Reuters survey found on Friday.

Supply from all 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has averaged 31.26 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 31.16 million bpd in February, the survey of sources at oil companies, OPEC officials and analysts found.

High gas prices? Some consumers just say no

Most motorists are simply bearing up against soaring gasoline prices. They may swear. They may complain. But they end up filling up as always.

Others, however, are fighting back as the nation heads into the spring driving season. Some are riding the bus or train or are carpooling. Some are giving up four wheels for two — a scooter or bicycle. Some are simply planning their trips more efficiently.

U.S. travelers say fuel prices will keep them closer to home this summer

Whether traveling for business or pleasure this summer, rapidly escalating fuel costs — gas is now above $4 a gallon at many West Coast locations — will cause travelers around the nation to cut back on trips, according to a new survey by the nonprofit U.S. Travel Association.

The survey found that of vacationers who plan to travel by car this summer, 54 percent said an increase in gas prices would affect their summer leisure travel plans, while more than 25 percent of business travelers said higher gas prices would affect their summer business travel plans.

Consumer spending jump highest since July

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Consumer spending jumped in February due to higher prices, far outpacing more modest gains in income.

The government reported that spending jumped 0.8% compared to January, the biggest one-month jump since July of last year. But when adjusted for inflation, spending increased only 0.5%, a sign that higher prices for staples such as gasoline were driving much of the increase.

Oil release now more likely

(Reuters) - Unless oil prices drop for other reasons, the United States and other governments appear set to release crude and product stocks from their strategic reserves before or during the summer in a bid to slow the rise in prices, avert an economic slowdown and sustain support for their strategy of sanctions on Iran.

The probability of a release is now more than 50 percent. The only remaining questions concern the timing and scale of releases; how many countries take part; whether they will receive support from other reserve holders such as China; and whether swing-producer Saudi Arabia will help the effort by maintaining higher than normal exports even as commercial inventories rise.

Indonesia Protests Roil as Yudhoyono Seeks Fuel-Price Boost

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono faces one of the biggest public protests of his seven- year leadership as a government plan to raise fuel prices stirs public anger, threatening efforts to contain the budget gap and strengthen Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

About 1,000 people had gathered in front of the parliament house at about 10:30 a.m. in Jakarta, and police estimate more than 81,000 will protest across the nation today as the legislative body debates a proposal to increase the price of subsidized gasoline by 33 percent to 6,000 rupiah (65 U.S. cents) per liter. Demonstrations started earlier this week.

'Oil prices at US$100/barrel not sustainable'

“I don’t think the current high oil price is sustainable for the world economy,” he said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur today. “It has all been hiked by the security instabilities in Iran and so forth. It’s amazing. I don’t think it can last long.”

Spain increases electricity bills to trim deficit

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain said power prices would rise by 7 percent to help contain an accumulated 24 billion euro ($32 billion) deficit due to utilities selling electricity below nominal costs.

Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said on Friday the increase would have been 30 percent if consumers alone had been required to pay to keep the "tariff deficit" within legal limits for this year, and to eliminate it next year.

But utilities would also contribute by cutting costs and some extra contribution would come from the government, he said.

Japan, not Iran, may be oil market's focus in April-Campbell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The showdown between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program remains the overarching risk facing oil markets but in the near term, nuclear power in Japan may well become the short term focus for traders.

The near total shutdown of Japan's nuclear power industry since last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami turned the Japanese electricity sector into a surprise source of oil demand growth in Asia last year.

Analysis: Saudi summer oil burn should decline this year

DUBAI/KHOBAR (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is likely to burn less crude in its power plants this summer thanks to rising output from dedicated gas fields and gas that would be associated with any increase in oil output to make up for lower Iranian production.

Last summer the world's leading oil exporter burned an average of 730,000 barrels a day (bpd) of crude for electricity to keep the population cool in the hottest months from July to the end of September, official figures indicate.

Hundreds of thousands of barrels of the kingdom's biggest export will again go up in smoke at power plants each day this summer, but the volume of oil used for power is likely to fall.

The shale gas revolution

No one could have predicted that oil prices would rise to today’s levels. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, says they are irrationally high, pointing out that world demand is lower than the available supply and that Saudi oil inventories around the world are largely untapped. The “irrational” cause, of course, is fear of a war with Iran. But it would also have been unpredictable that a 47 per cent hike in oil prices since November 2010 would not cause a major slowdown in the U.S. economy. One reason it hasn’t might well be the rise of shale gas.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Our Natural Gas Glut

With global warming driving down the demand for natural gas as a home heating fuel and natural gas drillers producing record amounts, an oversupply situation has developed quickly. Stocks of natural gas are rising. As a result natural gas prices have fallen way below profitability and drillers are scrambling to cut back production.

The natural gas surplus that is in our underground storage facilities may be full before fall, forcing producers to slow production until a market for the gas can be found. There are only so many things we can do with an excess of natural gas: you can export it; burn it in power plants; turn it into other products in petrochemical plants; increase its use in vehicles; and burn it to heat buildings.

Solving The Global Energy Equation: Demand-Supply-Infrastructure

Today we know what would happen to oil prices if there was another 3.1% increase in world demand: we would attain naked, open and declared Peak Oil. Today also, China and India know what will probably happen to world coal prices if, as forecast, China's coal imports increase 8-fold by 2015, from 25 million tons in 2011 to as much as 200 million tons, while India's coal import merely doubles by 2015, to also attain 200 million tons a year. The theoretical limit-price for coal could be as high as oil parity on a $100-barrel basis, making coal cost as much as $500 per ton. The likelihood of this is however low, for reasons including rising availability of LNG, in major part due to the price of LNG, for Japan shipments averaging about $16.75 per million BTU in February 2012, compared with US pipeline gas at around $2.50 per million BTU. Another reason is that hopes for a fall in global gas prices are high, when or if the US shale gas boom can be transplanted outside the US and large global stranded gas finds can be processed and shipped as LNG.

Recession beckons in Britain, claims OECD

Oil prices barely budge despite reserve-release talk. For those who subscribe to the theory of ‘Peak Oil’, the recent price action ought to have triggered some cheer. Despite increased talk that America and Europe might reach an accord on releasing oil from their strategic reserves, and despite Saudi Arabia’s promise that it is doing as much as it can to return the oil price to a more normal level, the price of Brent crude remains around USD 125 a barrel. Quite apart from the political risk premium which oil is attracting because of geopolitical tensions, the issue bedevilling oil prices is essentially one of supply disruption and general tightness, notwithstanding the claim made by Saudi Oil Minister Naimi in yesterday’s FT that the market is well-balanced. Iranian oil exports are subject to heavy sanctions and Russian supply has also been restricted. That said, at these elevated prices, there is plenty of incentive for the major oil producers to ramp up production. With some real concerns amongst international policy-makers regarding the potentially adverse effect on growth of oil prices at these elevated levels, we can expect some further steps to alleviate the pressure in the market in coming weeks. How successful they will be is a completely separate matter.

Crude Oil Prices: Now for Something Really Scary

If oil prices don’t crash down to $67 within the next two months, that means for sure the evil one-eyed-drooling-spirit of Peak Oil, which everyone has been studiously trying to ignore for so long, has finally arrived.


HAVE we reached the peak of the Oil Age? The debate around this issue is exercising many scientific minds and, as you’d expect when scientists choose to argue, they can get pretty vociferous about it.

According to researchers at Newcastle University, New South Wales, "There is increasing certainty that conventional oil production has peaked/will peak before 2025." A separate study by six European scientists takes issue with the International Energy Agency’s 2008 World Energy Outlook. They reckon it has seriously overstated crude oil production forecasts for 2030.

Not to be outdone, a group of analysts at Citigroup say resurging oil production in North America spells the death of the Peak Oil hypothesis. Their optimism is hinged on the Bakken, a series of shale oilfields located in the US’s Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota, but which also extend into Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada.

Getting a peek at the effects of Peak Oil

ALBANY — The last time Richard Heinberg visited the Capital Region in the summer of 2006, oil cost about $70 a barrel and gasoline was $3 a gallon.

When he returned Tuesday to again talk about the gradual end of the golden age of cheap fossil fuel on which modern society floats, that barrel cost $105 and gas was tickling $4. Some experts are predicting prices could hit $5 by the summer.

Senate Republicans reject Obama call to end 'big oil' tax breaks

Washington (CNN) -- Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic measure championed by President Barack Obama to end tax breaks for the major oil companies.

The procedural vote of 51-47, which failed to reach the needed threshold of 60 in favor, killed the measure, which was given little chance of eventually winning approval in the Republican-controlled House. Four Democrats opposed the bill while one Republican supported it.

Russia halves Ukraine gas shipments

(MOSCOW) - Gazprom said on Friday it had recently halved Russia's natural gas shipments to Europe through Ukraine as part of efforts to reduce deliveries through the troublesome transit nation.

The Russian monopoly said it had reduced its deliveries across the former Soviet republic by 47 percent in recent days and denied Ukrainian claims that the drop was dictated by falling demand in Europe.

Cameron Licks Self-Inflicted Fuel-Strike, Pastygate Wounds

“Total Panic,” ran the front-page headline on The Sun, Britain’s best-selling newspaper, this morning. The Times headline told of a “A fuel crisis made in Downing Street,” Cameron’s official London residence.

PetroChina Plans ‘Large Scale’ Acquisitions to Expand Output

PetroChina Co., surpassing Exxon Mobil Corp. and OAO Rosneft as the world’s biggest publicly traded crude producer last year, plans to buy additional assets to ramp up output and expand into overseas markets.

“We will buy assets on a large scale,” Chairman Jiang Jiemin told reporters in Hong Kong yesterday. “Our focus is on the Chinese market, but in the long term, we will expand outside China,” he said, after the Beijing-based company posted fourth- quarter profit that missed estimates because of losses from selling fuels at prices controlled by the government.

Statoil May Join Russian Arctic Shelf Projects - Putin

Norwegian energy firm Statoil may participate in new hydrocarbon development projects in Russian Arctic shelf, President-elect Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

"I think we can come to agreement about joint work in [the country's] north ... I hope projects and decisions that will allow us to move forward will be found at corporate and state levels," Putin told Statoil President & CEO Helge Lund during a meeting.

Bharat Petroleum To Invest $2.8 Billion On Kochi Refinery Expansion

NEW DELHI – Bharat Petroleum Corp. said Friday it will spend INR142.25 billion ($2.8 billion) by December 2015 to expand its Kochi refinery in southern India by 63%, as it seeks to keep its capacity in line with its refined fuel products sales volume.

India's second-largest state-run refiner and fuel retailer by capacity will increase the Kochi refinery's capacity by 120,000 barrels a day to 310,000 barrels a day, it said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Canadian Oil Boom Reverberates in Offices as Returns Rise

Office vacancies are falling in Toronto and the rest of Canada amid economic growth led by the oil and natural-gas industries. Investor interest in commercial property is rising after the total return on real estate climbed almost 16 percent last year, the most since 2006 and outpacing gains in the U.S., according to the REALpac/IPD Canada Annual Property Index.

Kenya: What Is At Stake With the Turkana Oil Discovery?

The membership of the club of oil producing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is growing.

Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, and now, the new kid on the oil platform, Kenya!

Sub-Saharan Africa oil revenues have crept up to a staggering $30 billion per year. The US, the world's largest market seeks to double its imports from the region by 2015. Why then are some of these countries trapped in a problem of persistent poverty, desperation and civil war?

YPF Surges on Argentine Shale Oil Discovery

YPF SA, Argentina’s largest crude company, led gains by major Latin American stocks after saying that it discovered as much as a 1 billion barrels of shale oil resources in the western province of Mendoza.

India's ONGC to sign gas exploration pact with ConocoPhillips

(Reuters) - India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp and U.S. oil company ConocoPhillips will sign a pact on Friday to explore and develop shale gas and look for opportunities in deepwater exploration, the Indian state-run explorer said in a statement.

Don't Blame Obama For High Oil Prices Or Why There's 3 Aircraft Carriers Headed For Iran

“There is no rational reason whet oil prices are continuing to remain at these high levels” wrote Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Naimi in an op-ed the other day. With markets tight but balanced, oil is trading with a substantial risk-premium tied to the possibility of military conflict between Israel and Iran. With the U.S. moving three aircraft carriers into the Arabian Sea to secure the Strait of Hormuz, and Azerbaijan reportedly granting Israel airfield access along Iran’s northern border, the stakes are higher than ever.

U.S. Lawmakers Target Iran Energy Sector for Expanded Sanctions

U.S. lawmakers are seeking to expand sanctions on Iran’s energy sector by banning the purchase of its natural gas and prohibiting investment in oil and gas services, exploration and new pipelines.

Obama likely to find oil market can handle Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama is likely to determine by Friday that there will be enough oil in the world market to allow countries to cut imports from Iran, taking another step toward sanctioning those nations that do not, analysts and a congressional aide said.

Iran sanctions spark brisk Saudi trading

Oilfield service providers are recording a brisk trade in Saudi Arabia as Opec's largest producer invests to keep its facilities in shape to meet any added demand arising from sanctions on Iran.

"When I go to Saudi Arabia, the message is very clear," said Nabil Alalawi, the chief executive of Al Mansoori, an energy services company based in Abu Dhabi. "Bring as much equipment and people as you can and we will give you work."

Why India is trying to expand trade with Iran

The creation of Pakistan cut India off from longstanding trade routes to Central Asia and beyond. India sees Iran as a way to reconnect, despite US sanctions.

Turkey voices support for Iran nuclear programme

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday voiced his country's unwavering support for Tehran's nuclear ambitions in a meeting with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to an official statement.

"The government and nation of Turkey has always clearly supported the nuclear positions of the Islamic republic of Iran, and will continue to firmly follow the same policy in the future," Erdogan was quoted as saying in the statement issued by Ahmadinejad's office.

Turkey to reduce Iranian oil imports

ANKARA: Turkey says it is reducing oil imports from neighboring Iran by 20 percent and will make up for it with purchases from Libya.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says Turkey plans to purchase one million tons of oil from Libya this year, and also engage in spot oil purchases from Saudi Arabia. Turkey's oil refinery, Tupras, said purchases from Iran were being reduced by 20 percent.

India and China Skirt Iran Sanctions With ‘Junk for Oil’

Iran and its leading oil buyers, China and India, are finding ways to skirt U.S. and European Union financial sanctions on the Islamic republic by agreeing to trade oil for local currencies and goods including wheat, soybean meal and consumer products.

Iran helping Syria defy sanctions, aiding shipment of $80-million worth of oil to China

LONDON — Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80-million.

Three Percent of UK North Sea Output Lost Due to Elgin

Around three percent of the UK North Sea's gas output is being lost as a result of the continued shut-in of the Elgin field, UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said Friday.

North Sea Elgin platform gas leak: 'No evidence of human error'

Human error does not appear to be the cause of the North Sea gas leak, according to oil company Total.

The leak at the Elgin platform, 150 miles off Aberdeen, has been ongoing since Sunday, when workers were evacuated.

Shell Arctic Spill Response Plan Gets Approval

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Federal offshore drilling regulators on Wednesday approved Shell Oil's spill response plan for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea, drawing strong criticism from environmental groups that claim oil companies cannot clean up oil in ice-choked waters.

BP Says U.S. Withholding Evidence of Extent of Oil Spill

BP Plc said the U.S. government is withholding evidence that would show the oil spill from the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico was smaller than claimed.

A New Weapon in the Fracking Wars

In recent months, efforts to restrict future natural gas drilling in New York State have ranged from proposed buffer zones around gas wells for the protection of watersheds and aqueducts to outright drilling bans enacted by towns and villages.

Enter the historic preservationists.

A Very Long Road for Military Nuclear Waste

Slowly, slowly, the Energy Department is moving forward with solidifying the liquid nuclear wastes left over from cold-war weapons production. On Thursday, the department said it had closed two more of the 51 underground tanks at the Savannah River Site in western South Carolina. The high-level waste was mixed with molten glass to keep it chemically locked up for millennia, and the lower-level material was mixed with a kind of cement that is supposed to keep it in place until the radioactivity dies down.

Japan's Tepco scraps plans for new reactors at stricken plant

(Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, said on Friday it had notified Japan's trade ministry it was dropping plans for two more nuclear reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi plant, paralyzed last year by a devastating earthquake.

The Myth of Peak Oil: The Real Problem is Not Too Little Oil, But Too Much

Few that credit Hubbert with a successful prediction have apparently actually read his paper. A reading of his presentation demonstrates that Hubbert grossly underestimated total oil supplies, and thus his predicted high point of the bell curve deviates significantly from reality. Indeed, there is good evidence we haven’t even reached the top of the bell curve, much less past it in 1970. He did not anticipate things like the discovery of oil in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay or shale oil like the North Dakota Bakken Formation, among many other oil discovery that have significantly changed total oil supplies.

And because US oil production did peak in 1970, the same time period which Hubbert suggested oil reserves would reach their half-way point and start an inevitable decline, few bothered to ask whether the observed decline in US production might have any other explanation other than declining geological petroleum stocks as Peak Oil advocates suggest.

Truth About $6 Gas, $200 Oil & The Quest For Energy Independence

Do you believe in Peak Oil? If so, how much time do we have before the “cheap oil” economy blows up?

No, not as originally formulated. With the rise of unconventional oil (shale, tight, heavy oil; bitumen, oil sands), we do not have a lack of reserves into the foreseeable future. However, we have lost light sweet crude – i.e. cheaper oil.

The “cheap oil” economy was over by 2008. The only reason we had a decline in prices between August 2008 and September 2009 was because of the subprime mortgage blowup, credit crunch and recession.

In other words, without exogenous factors depressing demand, “cheap” becomes a very relative term.

Natural-Gas Vehicles Will Run Best Without Subsidies

Almost miraculously, the U.S. is both reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions and becoming increasingly energy independent. As Bloomberg News recently reported, the share of U.S. energy demand met by domestic sources increased to 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011 -- the highest level in 20 years -- and emissions are expected to decline 12 percent by 2020.

A major factor in both trends is increased use of natural gas, a cleaner-burning fossil fuel now being extracted in abundance across the country. Hydraulic fracturing, a new production technology also known as fracking, has helped push prices for the fuel to a decade low, and has created plenty of jobs in the process.

Infiniti finally gets serious about hybrid cars

Infiniti plans to lift the covers off Japan’s first battery-electric luxury car during the upcoming New York Auto Show.

Company executives suggest they expect some serious sales numbers from the new model. But the real benefit is likely to come from credibility. Like its parent, Nissan Motor Co., Infiniti has been slow to embrace more conventional hybrid technology. Japanese rival Lexus already offers gas-electric options on most of its line-up. European automakers, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are rushing to market with their own hybrid offerings.

Japan, US, EU discuss rare earth supply security

TOKYO (AP) — Officials from the United States, the European Union and Japan are pledging to work closer together on ways to ensure secure supplies of strategically vital rare earths and other critical materials.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a conference Wednesday in Tokyo that improving processing and recycling of the materials, used in many high-tech products, is vital in the medium term. He said that in the near term, they must be "used as sparingly you can."

Floating Windmills in Japan Help Wind Down Nuclear Power

Japan is preparing to bolt turbines onto barges and build the world’s largest commercial power plant using floating windmills, tackling the engineering challenges of an unproven technology to cut its reliance on atomic energy.

New solar energy plant rising from the desert

ABU DHABI // Turning high, rolling sand dunes into a site for the world’s largest concentrated solar-power plant meant digging and redistributing some 5 million cubic metres of sand.

That is about twice the volume of the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt.

How can a smart grid help with peak oil?

Smart-grid people aren’t always peak-oil people, or vice versa. But both have good reasons to back the other, considering how the two issues could increasingly be going hand-in-hand.

Anti-government 'sovereign movement' on the rise in U.S.

In the past three years, there has been growing concern over activities of so-called "sovereign citizens," who like the Grays and many of their anti-government predecessors "claim to exist beyond the realm of government authority," according to a January FBI bulletin to state and local law enforcement officials warning of the potential for violence.

Can Bioengineers Make Human Beings More Sustainable?

Nature already tried that, and look how it turned out.

Whole Foods to stop sale of unsustainable seafood

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Whole Foods Market said Friday that it will stop selling fish caught from depleted waters or through ecologically damaging methods, a move that comes as supermarkets nationwide try to make their seafood selections more sustainable.

Neonicotinoid pesticides tied to crashing bee populations, 2 studies find

A widely used farm pesticide first introduced in the 1990s has caused significant changes to bee colonies and removing it could be the key factor in restoring nature's army of pollinators, according to two studies released Thursday.

Increasing water scarcity in California's Bay-Delta will necessitate trade-offs; 'hard decisions' needed

Simultaneously attaining a reliable water supply for California and protecting and rehabilitating its Bay-Delta ecosystem cannot be realized until better planning can identify how trade-offs between these two goals will be managed when water is limited, says a new report from the National Research Council. Recent efforts have been ineffective in meeting these goals because management is distributed among many agencies and organizations, which hinders development and implementation of an integrated, comprehensive plan. Additionally, it is impossible to restore the delta habitat to its pre-disturbance state because of the extensive physical and ecological changes that have already taken place and are still occurring, including those due to multiple environmental stressors.

Muddying of Beloved Creek Is Last Straw for Neighbors of a City Reservoir

Then there is the long-held perception that the city will prevail in any dispute decided in Albany — and, worse, that people downstate belittle rural dwellers. People here still recall a 1984 Playboy magazine interview in which Edward I. Koch, then New York’s mayor, scoffed at country people in “gingham” dresses and “Sears Roebuck” suits.

Yet the tensions over water and land go back more than a century, to when the city, after impounding water from the Croton River in Westchester County, looked farther north and tapped the Old Esopus Creek and, later, the headwaters of the Delaware River for additional sources.

“They made a very conscious decision to go for the highest-quality water and protect it, and it’s paid off,” said Steve Via, who handles government regulation and policy affairs for the American Water Works Association, a group of water professionals. “They could have just as easily decided to pull water off the Hudson.”

Carbon ‘Like Titanic’ Sinking on EU Permit Glut

The plunge in European Union carbon permits is putting prices on course for their longest-ever decline and shows no sign of ending as member states wrangle over curbing a glut in the market.

Making Sense of the Wacky Weather

Like many people, I’ve been struggling to understand what is going on with the weather. As I flipped on my air conditioner one day in the middle of March to cool down an unbearably hot apartment, I thought, this is just weird. In recent years, we have lived through one weather extreme after another, sometimes whipsawing between them rather quickly.

So, for my recent article on this topic, reported with Joanna Foster, I tried an interesting little exercise.

Will the Human Body Be Able to Adapt to Rising Temperatures?

Using a measurement called "wet-bulb temperature," which Huber explains below, they modeled what might happen in several warming scenarios. At the point where the average global temperature rise hits 10°C, "even Siberia reaches values exceeding anything in the present-day tropics" and many populated parts of the globe might become, if habitable at all, places where the relatively affluent would likely find themselves "imprisoned" in air-conditioned spaces and where "power failures would become life-threatening." Lacking access to AC, the world's poor would have little choice but to flee. Even "modest" global warming, Huber and Sherwood conclude, could "expose large fractions of the population to unprecedented heat stress."

Flooding Risk Rises Statewide

A new study measuring the threat that rising seas pose to coastal communities found that among states with municipalities at elevated risk of severe flooding, New Jersey was tied for third place (with North Carolina). And inland, towns along the Raritan, Passaic and Delaware Rivers have recently been walloped by a series of intense storms that left thousands of home and business owners reeling. The increased frequency of these flood-causing events has scientists wondering if this is the “new normal” for New Jersey, while public officials, engineers and insurance companies grapple with how to respond.

“We don’t know what normal is anymore,” said David A. Robinson, the state climatologist, noting that 2011 was the wettest year on record in New Jersey. “We don’t know if it’s a trend, or just an episode. We know humans are having an impact on global temperatures, and there’s some suggestion that that’s triggering more rainfall.”

Scientists pin down historic sea level rise

LONDON (Reuters) - The collapse of an ice sheet in Antarctica up to 14,650 years ago might have caused sea levels to rise between 14 and 18 metres (46-60 feet), a study showed on Wednesday, data which could help make more accurate climate change predictions.

The melting of polar ice could contribute to long-term sea level rise, threatening the lives of millions, scientists say.

Scientists warn of 'emergency on global scale'

Leading scientists on Thursday called on the upcoming Rio Summit to grapple with environmental ills that they said pointed to "a humanitarian emergency on a global scale."

In a "State of the Planet" declaration issued after a four-day conference, the scientists said Earth was now facing unprecedented challenges, from water stress, pollution and species loss to spiralling demands for food.

Has anyone seen a good source for cost estimates for large-scale electrolysis plants? I'm mostly looking for capital cost, but operating costs would be nice as well.

There are a number of pilot projects for using excessive wind power to produce hydrogene (or methane) for storage starting up in germany[1,2,3,4]. These might help give some idea of the cost of commercial scale electrolysis and what the expected future learning curve is, although most of the articles don't talk about cost. One number I saw quoted was[4]: "Rough estimates currently put the cost of investment in a standardized industrial electrolyser at about EUR 1.2 million per megawatt of installed capacity"

[1] http://www.siemens.com/innovation/apps/pof_microsite/_pof-spring-2011/_h...
[2] http://www.iphe.net/docs/Meetings/Australia_5-09/Germany%20-%20Enertrag.pdf
[3] http://www.greenpeace-energy.de/fileadmin/docs/sonstiges/greenpeace_ener...
[4] http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/05/egas-20110513.html

Thanks. I'll have to take a little time to review it.


Thanks, Super G! Momma said there'd be days (and nights like this ;-/

TOD is a volenteer effort - and the PITA trying to patch and restore data shouldn't need a Joni Mitchell moment to say thanks.

(And having backups is how one recovers from things going bust)


From Big yellow Taxi - Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til it's gone

Rather than waiting for a hiccup to says thanks - why not say thanks a tad more often?

Thanks, Dad. It's comforting to know you're keeping track :-/

This was the first prolonged TOD outage in a while. I freely acknowledge my indebtedness to those who host this site and in no way would want to add to their burden. But that said, I wonder if it would make sense to have an informal arrangement with a couple of other "sister sites" in which each one could provide a sidebar window to display occasionally updated status information whenever one of the others goes down. Energy Bulletin and Automatic Earth come to mind as possible candidates. Just a thought...

Shortly after TOD went down yesterday TAE was also unavailable for a time with a message that "the site's bandwidth has been exceeded". Since neither site has gone down very often, I found it to be an odd coincidence; Revenge of the PTB :-0

This is the longest outage ever for this site. At least that I can remember.

I'm reminded of that rule of networks that says you have a choice of frequent small outages, or infrequent but massive ones. The site had been a lot more stable lately. Maybe this is the price we pay for that. :-/

Re: Making Sense of the Wacky Weather

This blog posting gives links to some lovely interactive graphics from NCDC, which allows one to look at the extremes over time. The plots look a lot like what I produced and posted on TOD a while back. HERE's one graph of the low temperature data, which shows a clear warming trend. There is also a mention of the recent paper in the GRL by Jennifer Francis, which tries to blame the loss of sea-ice for recent shifts in weather.

There are 2 recent postings on RealClimate regarding extremes:

Extremely hot by Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou

The IPCC SREX: the report is finally out

Rahmstorf presents some discussion regarding statistical analysis of extremes, which addresses the mathematics of the situation. He also references a commentary he wrote (PDF warning) which appeared in NATURE, which is very good and has lots of references for anyone who wants to slog thru the scientific background material.

EDIT: Here are two graphs of number of records I put together from the NCDC site. I wanted to show the intensity of the late cold snap in 2002, which might happen again this year. Click on the thumbnail for full size:

US Record Temperatures, Winter-Spring 2002, From NCDC web site Photobucket

E. Swanson

That left side (2001) chart says "balance" like no other. Or, maybe (more significantly) confirms variability?

It will be interesting to see an update on the 2012 chart -- to see how the rest of 2012 shakes out. Balance,variability, both?

Sorry to say, I left out the title for the vertical axes on the graphs. I've had trouble with the version of QuatroPro I now use, which is much worse for plotting simple graphs than the earlier versions, such as an X-Y graph. I could not generate a nice X axis label for the dates and decided to throw the graph up for discussion. Anyway, the red side of the graph are the number of record maximum high temperatures on a particular day and the blue are the negative of the number of record low minimum temperatures. This plot just gives the viewer some idea of the distribution of the most extreme events, without a lot of statistical analysis.

When I looked at the NCDC's page for their Climate Extreme Index, I noticed that the winter season data had a spike in positive extremes for 2000. Below is another of my graphs of extremes for that period. The strong bias toward record highs during that period is quite apparent:

US REcord Temperature Events, 1 Dec 1999 to 31 May 2000

E. Swanson

It's difficult to get across to the naive that high oil prices, besides higher prices at the pump, also leads to an expensive infrastructure. I try and explain to them the first-world as we know it was built on $15-$20 barrels - and it's now five times as expensive to pave the street, lay a foundation, prop up poles, bring us Disneyland, build a dam, erect windmills, float a boat, etc.

But that seems to just slide right on by. What they refuse to understand, moreover, is that even if we manage some accounting trick and somehow afford the oil, there won't be enough to go around. Our economy's improvement, if it ever could happen, will be stalled due to the lack of available energy - if we don't already have it, it's spoken for.

Hey, everyone ...

Peak Oil was yesterday!


But that seems to just slide right on by.

Let me answer this as the doomer I am. I'm a doomer because we have many predicaments that are not going to be solved. They range from energy to governance to population to financial problems. I arrived at my doomerism logically and rationally after weighing the evidence for years. My choice was pretending things would be solved or accepting that society was in jeopardy of collapse. My response was to prepare to survive as long as possible, in essence, buy time, and see what happens.

One thing going for me is that I'm old. But take younger people who have a lot of years ahead of them. What are they going to say, "Wow, were f**ked. And, what about our kids?" Or, are they going to try to maintain a belief that it is all temporary? This is especially true when the see/learn how little power they have to influence events/actions. I feel sorry for them because they are not taking positive actions but I don't put these people down because they reject what some of us are positing.

Some of us are trying to offer help for them in somewhat less obvious ways. For example, my Grange established The Grange Center for Self-Reliance last year. We are offering a number of seminars but they are not couched in terms of the sky is falling. Rather, we present them as a good way to learn new stuff and share information.


Edit to add: The Center's next big program is to sponsor Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training starting in May.

I think the resilience of the youth, both physically and mentally, as well as the adaptability that goes along with being young in life will end up a distinct advantage.

I am 48, and "I am old" is not quite rolling of my tongue, but as I look at changes I can make, maybe switching careers, I do already see many limitations. One example might be that I am legally forbidden to work on wind turbines due to age.

Looking at it from the relocation aspect - I have grand kids nearby.

My point is that it seems that life changes can be more difficult as we grow older.

I agree. Of course there are all types in every generation, but in general young people seem to be adapting very well to reduced expectations. However sheltered they might have been, they step up when they realize they have to.

And yes, young people do tend to be more adaptable. Not just physically. Psychologically, they are more flexible and more inclined to be optimistic.

I think it's going to be much harder for older people. Not the really old - they'll probably have shuffled off this mortal coil before things get too bad. The ones who are in late middle age. Either planning for a retirement that may not be realized, or planning to work at a job that might not be there forever. In particular, those who are around 50 are really in a tough spot. That's too young to retire, but if you lose your job at that age, it's tough to get hired again.

Sorry Leanan,have to disagree with you.From the last three years I have been trying to educate the "jongens" in Belgium but net result a big zero.For them it is BAU party on weekends and then for the next five days plan for the next party and not to mention the tweeting,facebook,SMS all day crap.A few examples:
1.I would like to join your group but right now my priority is to get a girlfriend and how to get some money for the weekend party.(From a guy who just joined college)
2.OK.I will give up my car but where do I put my drugs and condoms.(3rd year in college).
They belong to the camp "technology will save us".
As to physical flexibility you are absolutely wrong.Remember the skills of the rabbit are excellent in avoiding a predator in the jungle but he would be crushed to death if he was to attempt crossing the road in a rush hour traffic.
As for psychologically fit for peak oil.No way.They have no idea about the immense problems of the peak oil crisis.It is beyond their comprehension.I am sure(100%) they will go bonkers when the tsunami hits them.
My heart weeps for them.Only hope.I met a "jongen" 27 years old into organic farming.I am 58 and we hit off immediately,but his family background was/is agriculture.Are their others like him?I don't know.Is "hope" a strategy? Definitely not.

I don't think your examples disprove what I said.

I said "when they have to." Right now, they don't have to.

And I don't think they will go bonkers. Or at least, I think they will go bonkers at a lower rate than older people. I think you'll be surprised at how well they adapt when they have to.

But few people (of any age) will actually change until they have to.

Let me just add that anyone who is contemplating physical work towards some change/preparation or other, especially back-to-the-land kind of physical work... do as much as you can as soon as you can. Yes, getting older can creep up on you and slow you down. But it can also come instantly and stop you in your tracks, in the form of a medical catastrophe as it did for me, half-way through my developing my own land/gardens/woodlot/systems/etc.

I was a healthy, strong 50-something with great plans moving along nicely when I was brought down to earth, right out of the blue, no warning. 5 more years would have been really nice. 10 more years even better.

If you want to hear the gods laugh, tell them your plans. :-)

I'm sorry to hear of your health issues and hope things improve for you on this front.

This is the sort of thing that leads to a heavy heart: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/03/23/ns-river-john...

Years of hard work gone in an instant whilst at the same time battling a life threatening illness.


Thanks, Paul. You uniformly come across on this forum as a most pleasant person, and I believe you have some health issues of your own.

Alas, my situation is not something that will improve. In the immortal words of my doctor, who said, when I asked what I was going to do about it, "you will get used to it". Not yet...

I don't take what has happened to me personally, nor do I think I have it worse than a lot of folks. We carry on - Plan B, as it were. Just don't tell the gods about Plan B :-)

I often read about folks planning to do this and that, and the point of my posting was that you really can't take anything for granted and maybe should consider getting a move on while you can!

As Mae West once said, "if you can't set a good example, you can at least serve as a warning". She probably meant it differently, though :-)

Thanks for the kind words; much appreciated. After fifty-one years of pretty much picture perfect health, things took an abrupt and unexpected turn in another direction but I'm pleased to report that we're back on the right track, and I confess any redeeming qualities I may possess would have been passed on from my dad, but on the flip side I like to think that he inherited my dashing good looks! http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/WithFriends.jpg *cough*

I can't express this properly, but I've lost a number of good friends to AIDS and others to cancer, people I admire immensely, and although one has to search long and hard to say anything positive came out of this experience, I did witness a measure of grace, dignity and quiet fortitude I never would have imagined possible; good folks I'd like to emulate in some small way, and where this has proven possible full credit to the teacher and not the pupil.

Keep plugging away at your Plan B which I hope serves you well indeed. Love the Mae West quote, btw.


I am inclined to agree with you, mostly. As a young person myself on the cusp of graduating from college I have had no limit to frustration in trying to talk to peers about "our" future and not just their futures. The extent of their world knowledge is so limited than I am openly surprised when I mention some key fact or current event and someone actually recognizes it. As far as I can tell they are interested in achieving personal goals such as making money, owning an apartment, finding love, and being able to do whatever they want. These are common goals and expectations that the last few generations have been able to at least realistically pursue.

But we are entering a new age in which these goals may no longer be in reach. From my conversations some of them are definitely reacting badly, subconsciously, to the idea that things are harder to achieve than they were maybe for our parents. The late oil expert Matt Simmons described the crisis aptly:

what will be the cumulative responses of billions of individuals as they adapt to the denial of something they have long taken for granted?

Adults, young or not, will respond badly if they have been conditioned to believe certain expectations and realize that reality does not match them. I myself am a victim of this, and despite the fact that part of me knows absolutely that scarcity is frugality will be the keywords of the 21st century, a part of me also rejects that. This latter part is what I have seen wholly in the eyes of my peers, when I begin to describe what a future of scarcity means for them. This reality is so antithetical to their optimism about their own futures that they would rather die and not participate in this REAL future than "muddle" through a life of lower expectations.

I think there is a period of youth in which expectations can be greatly influenced by circumstances, but I think by the time one reaches their 20s that period is over. I believe that my generation of college grads may be at the tail end of the age of great expectations. Generations living through this transition will probably have an easier time understanding hardship, scarcity and the importance of the biophysical realm.

Baikalic wrote: "I have had no limit to frustration in trying to talk to peers about "our" future and not just their futures. The extent of their world knowledge is so limited than I am openly surprised when I mention some key fact or current event and someone actually recognizes it."

I have often wondered if all the new social networking media is having the effect of narrowing the focus of individuals to just their friends and personal issues 24/7 at a time when the greatest need is for citizens to broaden their horizons. Do facebook and I-phones make us infants just at the time in history when we need to become more adult? Many people actively block out any news today. And I'm not just talking about the young, plenty of older people have become enveloped by social media. I wonder if Narcissus were alive today, he would be staring into an I-phone forever?

I have often wondered if all the new social networking media is having the effect of narrowing the focus of individuals to just their friends and personal issues 24/7 at a time when the greatest need is for citizens to broaden their horizons

This broad horizons you claim - where are these going to come from? Mainstream Media? Books in public schools? Websites like freerepublic or democratic underground?

Hopefully, one place they will come from is community mental health.

We don't have a protocol yet for getting people away from their StupidPhones and AssFace and back into the real world or whatever is left of it... but we are working on it.

For the last year or so, I've been getting really concerned about the way electronic media is reinforcing bad habits, from domestic violence and substance abuse to sex addiction. And I'm seeing that people are really starting to hate the narrow focus. I'm hearing it over and over again... "I gotta stop doing this, please God, get me away from the frickin' computer, I'll do ANYTHING."

Just put in a call to a researcher I know about this yesterday. I am hoping he can direct me to some resources so I don't have to spend too much time...

...online. Because I struggle with it, too. I don't post here much, but I read a lot, and I went through a little TOD withdrawal myself. There was one point over the summer when I called a bunch of my rookie psychotherapist colleagues and flat-out told them, "I'm having problems spending too much time in cyberspace. I gotta find the line between research and disasterbation. I want you guys to keep an eye on me."

And they do.

I better go for a bike ride.


I'm concerned about this, too. Cyberspace is awfully seductive, especially for introverted types like me. And studies have shown that communicating with people online is not the same as communicating with them face-to-face. Different parts of the brain are used when communicating face-to-face. And social animals that we are, I suspect that face-to-face communication is very important to us.

It's nice to know this site was missed when it was down, but I really hope it's not too addictive. I suspect most of us should be spending more time with our real friends and family, and less with imaginary friends on the Internet. ;-)

The Loner Syndrome.
My brother studied German language to better understand math theory and received his Doctorate of Mathematics from the University of California Berkeley circa 1976.
I've seen him three or four times in the last twenty years, he still lives in the same tiny rent-controlled apartment near the university. He turned down teaching positions and worked as a bureaucrat instead.

Robert is a typical "loner", one of several described by Sula Wolff, former consultant child psychiatrist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, in her recent book Loners: The Life Path of Unusual Children (Routledge). Dr Wolff has carried out the first detailed study of the condition, keeping in contact with many of her subjects for 10 to 15 years. Being a loner, she emphasises, is not the same as being lonely or shy: some of these children appear quite outgoing and talkative. But underneath they suffer profound difficulties in relating to or interacting with others, even their families. They also have a sense of being somehow "different".


I sometimes feel as if I spend too much time in cyberspace but if I look at the situation carefully, that time in the past few years has also expanded my world and mind immensely.

As an introvert, I never spent the time I use online now to be with people in the past anyway. I always kept my beak in a book a lot, or did things alone whenever I could to balance out the demands of raising kids. My time with friends and relatives has always been somewhat limited because my batteries are charged by solitude, not socializing. At most, I'm missing out on some hours of exercise and sunshine now, but still get enough of those to stay reasonably balanced.

I now read more about current affairs and delve into science, philosophy, and many other things that I wouldn't often pursue, but can now digest in bite-sized bits easier to tolerate than gobbling huge doses in courses or book-length work. I get to delve into my passions of writing and Buddhist philosophy in more ways than ever before because of the internet.

And Facebook isn't just for foolery, but allows you "like" sites and view new articles in a virtual newsfeed. I share many things with others that hopefully expand their minds as well.

I could never afford as many books and magazines as I'd would have liked to read in the past, but the internet allows me to sample many things for free now.

I do think there are people who are addicted to games and chat features online and these are a greater time waster, and likely no different than being addicted to telephone conversations, losing oneself in meaningless television dramas, and playing checkers or chess or whatever all day. In that same way, live socialization isn't always any different, and a great deal of time can be wasted in mindless chatter and face-to-face interaction of all sorts. Still, I feel a little hesitant to condemn these activities on any account because what may look valueless from the outside may have meaning or purpose to others that we may not realize. We all have a path that only we can traverse.

I say hooray to all I've been exposed to and learned from cyberspace. I think live interaction with people is highly overrated and a concern of extroverts! Extroverts and left-brained people often put pressure on introverts and right-brained people to be like them. I say bah humbug and long live the internet!

All fair points.

Some criteria for addiction are, does the activity stop you from doing other things that you want or need to do, and have you tried to stop but found yourself unable to?

For you, the answers seem to be an unqualified "no." For people who walk into our clinic, however, sometimes the answer is "yes-- all the time." Also, research on mirror neurons would suggest that face-to-face conversations activate different areas of the brain...

Also, I think there's a difference between spending half an hour too long on the phone, and spending half an hour arguing with an anonymous stranger online about ideology or politics. The remorse after the online discussion is much worse, IMHO. Furthermore, most areas of the Internet are infected with marketing or advertising in a way that telephone conversations are not.

However, I would never want to unlearn what I've learned online. The problem is, it may not last forever. I don't want my face-to-face skills to atrophy; I may need real-world face-to-face horsetrading skills more as we start the long slide.

Interacting with people on the internet is one thing. What if the same time is spent zonked out in front of a television? Which is more beneficial? On the intertubes you are actually interacting with people, or a dog ( that meme was created by a cat BTW). On the goggle tube you are not interacting. Which is more important, the interaction or where you interact? How else can we interact, on a daily basis, with people from Europe, US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Venezuela etc etc? I certainly can't pop around and have a chat with you over a cup of coffee as I can respond to you here, although I am sure that would be an enjoyable experience.


That's another facet of the internet that's been wonderful for me and many others - the ability to communicate easily with friends, family, and even strangers all over the world.

I think I'm just at an age and living in circumstances in which spending quite a few hours online is appropriate for me. My work is either online or using computer apps for writing / editing / desktop publishing, so it's where I have to be anyway.

As far as addiction goes, I assume it's possible to be addicted to most any activity. I tend to get pretty involved in whatever my current passion is - hopefully my "addictions" have been fairly positive and mild. Before computers, I spent a lot of time jogging / hiking, meditating . . . After this one fades, I'll likely engage in another.

To me the "interweb" is an absolutely fantastic resource. In the times before the interweb I spent most of my free time in the library and spending a lot of time on-line is just an extension of that. In terms of spending a lot of time at TOD, I find that once you understand the situation we're in from a overshoot/depletion perspective when I'm away from the tribe which gets that (TOD) I almost feel a bit like an alien walking around the street or interacting with other people whose primary goal seems to be to increase entropy in various shapes and forms. I am fortunate to have a number of friends and acquaintances who've been willing to listen to me and do their own research and also have come to the conclusion that we humans have painted ourselves into a pretty difficult corner.
To me the main problem of on-line only communications is that it tends to be one dimensional. You only get receive and sends written language yet the mind tends to create particular images around that one dimension, which leads me to believe that a large part of the image we have of the other people on-line is projection of sorts. I try to keep it balanced and not just hang out on TOD but also read a lot outside of it and deal interact with real, live people as well. I have pretty much given up on reading traditional news sources (before I click any news link I ask my self why I want to do so, what will it add to my knowledge? Is it just an oxytocin/dopamine craving or is the information likely embedded actually additive to my life?) and only watch either DVDs or stuff i've Tivo'd.


This is an interesting topic. Any thoughts on correlation between 'loners' and 'savants'? Some of us tend to be highly perceptive or intelligent in some areas while practically clueless or tuned out in others, which leads to our self view of being 'different'. I'm a happy introvert myself but my life does involve a fair amount of live social interaction, which is a good thing. If you're already introverted and then get too isolated from real people, you can get caught in a self-reinforcing feedback loop of not trying to relate to people because you are 'different' and then becoming less able to relate as a result of not doing it. Having a social life keeps us aware that we are all 'different' to some extent and that our differences can compliment each other and provide a richer tapestry of human life.

Depends on how you use it. I get all my news through facebook, since I've liked sites such as this.


Never assume that there is a "proper" response to collapse. It's all individual.

To be fair, young people do seem to put too much faith in digital technology, when they are likely going to have to get back to the land and machine shop. But isn't it revealing that they know more about these small devices than they do about cars? That they are more interested in partying rather than working to build things?

Look around and realize just how far things have fallen already. The signs, bridges and roads look old. The endless strip malls, fast food joints, and gas stations with fading lights and empty lots. Revealing, in the end, that they were pretty much worthless to begin with. Food and energy prices with nowhere to go but up, and the value of "investments" with nowhere to go but down.

Burying your head in a make believe world of texting and movies and video games seems as good a response as any. As does the religious, end of the world response.

At least that's how it seems in America. Don't know about the rest of the world.

Burying your head in a make believe world of texting and movies and video games seems as good a response as any.

I can relate to this. I'm in my mid-twenties and am just finishing a professional degree. I've been following the energy situation for the last few years and understand the magnitude of the task ahead. I too think that there will be a collapse at some point, there just seems to be too many issues which will be coming to a head at around the same time. That said, I have no idea what I can do to prepare myself for the future. At the moment I'm renting an apartment and carrying a large student debt so it's not like I can go out and buy a property. All I can do is hope that things will stay together for the next decade so that I at least have a chance of getting myself into a more resilient position,

It's a very isolating feeling when you realize that a lot of what appears to be 'normal' in your life is not necessarily going to be permanent and the whole system seems to be based on ideas which are doomed to fail. I sometimes wonder whether I have warped my world-view and latched onto the notion of peak-oil/collapse, however looking at data presented I just can't honestly see it ending any other way. Anyone care to give me something which I can be optimistic about?

Okay, I'll bite: From age 40 to 50, I began letting go of the need for things... you know, BAU crap... metal briefcases, weird little gadgets with lots of flashing lights, or new clothes... well, new ANYTHING, really. It took a LONG time until I could walk by those store windows without feeling like I needed anything, and didn't have to read the ads for electronics in the paper.

And it's feeling pretty good. I'm getting used to this. My iPod broke in half six months ago and is held together with a rubber band, my boogie board is falling apart, my sandals have holes in them. Last week, I wore a 30-year-old shirt to work; no one cared, and it wouldn't have mattered to me if they did.

I know will probably never buy another car, and I can think about giving up driving without getting depressed. I don't need another camera, a bigger house, or a new computer. Sure, when my last one breaks and I can't get another, I'll be bummed, but I'll worry about that... later. Kind of like death. Too much to do now. Articles to read, research to do, crazy ideas I need to run down one way or the other.

Because I'm not sure we're done yet. As a species. We're in bad trouble, but I'm an old punk rocker. I kind of like trouble. Not enough to seek it out, but I don't always run to the other side of the street, either.

I enjoy playing guitar more than I ever did... and walking the dog, hanging out with my friends, meeting new people, and flirting with women. The things I enjoy now cost the hell of a lot less, and have a much smaller carbon footprint, than the things I thought I needed when I was in my 30s.

I have some health problems; on a bad day, the level of pain I walk around with is really kind of shocking.

But I don't miss being 35, or 30, or 25, and it's great not to feel like I need lots of junk. I had no idea I could get to this place mentally. I mean, I quit smoking and I don't miss it. How weird is that? What happened?

I've watched a lot of people I love die-- sometimes slowly and horribly-- and I honor their memory by waking up at least five minutes before my wife, watching her sleep, and reminding myself what a lucky bastard I am. Because my happiness was important to the people I've lost and I'm not giving it up without a fight.

It's probably going to be a rough ride through the bottleneck. But I don't think I want "normal" to be permanent, though sometimes I've felt like that, too.

I've really been trying to do the "letting go" that you've described. It's worked very well in some ways and not so well in others. I hardly ever react at all to commercials, billboards, or products in windows or on the net anymore. I've really began to decrease my love for new technology. I haven't bought any electronics since 2009 and don't feel the least bit bad about it.

Other things are more difficult. There's no two ways around the fact that young society is highly status-based. Connections are gained and lost by changes in status, however subtle or unspoken. Because connections are important both for job seeking, social health through regular socialization, and finding love, certain types of consumption can't be avoided IMO. These include keeping nice clothes around, driving occasionally, and spending wealth on such frivolities as alcohol or movie tickets. I don't pursue these often, but I do nonetheless because I feel I need to participate in order to obtain what I desire most. Regardless, it never seems to be enough. Thus I remain in some proverbial no man's land where I am just plain uncomfortable.

I think committing to "letting go" would become more straightforward once one has stable employment, a stable life partner, and a reliable social safety net. Unfortunately I (and I imagine many 20-somethings who are deeply concerned about the way the world is going instead of the latest gossip on their facebook community) do not possess any of these.

Well, you're not alone. 25 and graduated with my J.D. last May. No money for a house. Been following peak oil since 2007. Didn't really take it seriously and start incorporating it into my plans until I graduated.

22 here and graduating with MS Bioengineering in June. My current method of "incorporating" world events into my plans has been to turn 2/3rds of my (VERY) modest bank balance into precious metals (gold and silver), which I hope will protect me against the hyperinflation or deflation that will almost certainly befall us once our debt-based financial systems really begin to unravel.

26 and no debt, no mortgages and no major expenses either. I have given up on buying new shiny stuff. I bought one gadget last week and am still repenting it. I am investing all my spare time on getting fit and brushing up my engineering skills(electronics) and adding some new practical skills like building solar cooker, windmill etc, repairing bicycles.

I buy some gold for some specific type of emergencies but I don't think it would have a great amount of value in a post PO world, farming and engineering skills would on the other hand would come in handy.

IMHO,the best thing you could do to is: leave pharma or prepare to live in China or India. As a PhD student in Regenerative Biology, I have followed news about world pharma and biotech industry on Nature, Science, Nat Biotech, Nat Med, EMBO R etc for around 7 years (since I enrolled in uni). Despite huge increase in R&D spending, the overall rate of new drug/biologic appear on market is slowing down. And more than ever, new products from developmental pipeline are "focused" on orphan conditions, which is less profitable thus can not generate research-supporting cash flow like their older brothers. In fact, I think we reached "peak (drug) lead“ far before peak oil actually happen.

And, the big companies are responding to that. Last Friday, I did a rough (1 min) calculation based on data published on NBT, and discovered that in Q4 of 2011, pharma fired more than 2800 persons while only recruit only less than 1500, and many of the new openings are located in so-called "cost effective" regions. The response is crystal clear: fire employees and shrink reasarch, just buy lead from small companies or do CRO. I see no way they will expand back to pre 2007 level in the near term. The so called emerging markets concept is just totally BS.

Despite huge increase in R&D spending, the overall rate of new drug/biologic appear on market is slowing down. And more than ever, new products from developmental pipeline are "focused" on orphan conditions, which is less profitable thus can not generate research-supporting cash flow like their older brothers. In fact, I think we reached "peak (drug) lead“ far before peak oil actually happen.

Methinks, much sooner than later, Big Pharma's exploitative business model that tries to produce drugs exclusively for profit will be shut down. It is a profoundly unethical business! Eventually it will be doomed to failure in India and China as well.

Call me naively idealistic, but getting into any part of the Biosciences to end up working for Big Pharma?! Dang! One may as well just go straight into finance or advertising or go to work for Goldman Sachs, at least they are a bit more honest about screwing helping their clients.

For what it's worth, a first cousin of mine is a lead researcher at Genentech (Berkeley Ph.D. Organic Chem) researching cancer drugs. To suggest he's out to screw everyone is preposterous. To Big Pharma's defense, they create life-extending drugs that are helping me, for instance, continue living. I myself am taking Effient (Lilly product), a blood thinner that is bar none the best therapy for stent integration (Plavix is the former best solution). I take Effient because last May, while skiing, I suffered a heart attack (widow-maker, full LAD occlusion). I was lucky enough to get myself off the mountain, drive to the hospital, and get checked-in pretty much barely on time ... I in fact drove 70 interstate miles elevating my tingling arms on the steering wheel promising myself to aim for the ditch if I think I'm about to be incapacitated. Thankfully, the car (Geo Metro) didn't break down on the way - AAA would have been much too slow!

Long story short, I'm alive today at 46 because there are stents, and because it's a drug-eluting stent, and along with results of a variety of studies of those taking Effient for a thinner as the stent integrates, I get to place bets that I'll reach a ripe old age. Plavix isn't quite as good a guarantee - it works for most, but not all people as it requires the user to metabolize it before it does its magic.

For some of us, Big Pharma has extended our lives. My two girls, 8 and 9, don't know it yet but they'll be thankful too for Big Pharma, as they'll have got to spend (I bet) years more with their father. For those concerned or otherwise curious, my heart was able to retain normal heart function, and I've been skiing all this winter and plan to head up with my kids in the AM for yet another day on the slopes. I bruise easily though, and worry about unexpected falls - I've been skiing over 30 years and falls when they happen are awful events.

Anyway, I'm now a guy with pill bottles all lined up (just a few) - I never thought I'd be one of them. I wasn't ready to go into the great beyond, not yet. It's easy to be healthy and say it'll never happen to you but when it does, you'll be glad Big Pharma was ready for you.

I don't think your cousin is screwing people, I think he's being screwed. The drug companies spend a pretty small amount on research & development . . . they spend a HUGE amount on marketing & advertising. TV advertising, an army of young lady sales reps, all sorts of programs for doctors. I'd like to see that TV advertising banned (people should not be self-diagnosing) and any frequent-prescriber type programs banned (the best medicine should be chosen, not the medicine that gives the doctor the most perks). Give more money to R&D.

..they spend a HUGE amount on marketing & advertising.

Ever notice how the doctor doesn't give away 'free samples' of $4 generics. Then once they get their claws in ya the doc can't prescribe more of this overpriced drug without a periodic rechecks. Win-win for the doc and pharma.

Too often, the doc prescribes what works for him/her, and by god, they have studies to justify the prescription (statistically speaking).

Brand medicine made up of decades old ingredients 125 pesos. Generic with the same formulation 25 pesos. Nuff' said.


Genetech WAS a different company, it WAS ran by scientist, not some CEO with MBA, it HAD a strong research profile, USED to focus on delivering NextGen technology products to both researcher and patients. Until it was acquired by Roche in 2009. For so many times in history, some Big pharma perfer some company's technologies, they just buy the company, take the low-hanging fruits and kill the tree (research program) to save cost. After merger with Roche, Genetech got a CEO with no research experience but a lot marketing and sales experience, history will just repeat itself again.

SUGEN was a innovative company, its kinase inhibitors is not only useful for research, but also may bring down cost of treatments compared to biologics. But after Pfizer brought it, its research program are dissmissed, only leaving drug leads in clinical trails to reach market. Of course, Pfizer benifited from the deal, but patients who is counting on those cheap and reliable small molecule inhibitors just lost their hope.

Yep, that is why I gave up a chance to work in a Multinational pharma's Beijing's office and went to UK to study for PhD. Although I lost some income (plus it is cheaper to live in Beijing than UK). I have no regret about it.

I actually was planning on doing anything BUT join pharma. I was never a fan of that side of the industry and am aiming to join a global health non-profit in Seattle and work on point-of-care diagnostics for infectious diseases. No one in global health as far as I know is planning for a technological slide in which normal diagnostic procedures will become as unavailable in rich nations as they are in developing countries, but that's why I decided this angle might contribute in a future of scarcity and ecological disruption. One consequence of this future will be the return of infectious diseases, and low-cost, portable diagnosis vehicles will be needed more than ever.

There are a lot of talented people here so getting in won't be easy but that's my current direction.

That is great. I agree with you, next generation of medical technologies should focus on providing cost effective treatments that is easy to distribute and rely on modest supply chains.

BTW,"but that's why I decided this angle might contribute in a future of scarcity and ecological disruption. " May be the starting point is different, but both China and Cuba should have some research and training program to provide cost effective healthcare for resource constrained region (might be india, DPRK or Viet Nam also have this kind of stuff? I do not know). They might have some nice ideas and experience to share.

Hey hole in head, I think you see it too negatively. I'm a "jongen" in Belgium, 21 years old. Even though it's all new to me I do have my own vegetable garden. I am very aware of the problems peak oil, climate change, resource depletion etc. pose to us. Myself I started studying engineering and my brother carpentry, mainly because we think those will be the most useful in the near future. But you're right, it's not very easy trying to get your message across, especially if it's counter to mainstream views. But I have some success convincing some friends. Though you really do need a clear message (energy predicament, explain peak oil and how the alternatives - other fossil, nuclear, renewable.. -- don't add up) supported with clear numbers.

One area where young people seem to be adapting fast is their demotion of the significance of cars in their lives. There have been a spate of articles lately about the difficulties in selling new cars to younger people, e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/business/media/to-draw-reluctant-young... - an article that basically only came up with bright colors as a solution to the lack of buyers.

I can hardly believe that a huge number of young people are doing without cars altogether, so my guess is (and the article is unhelpful with this aspect) that they are using cars owned by their parents, they are buying used cars, and they are using zip car rentals, depending on where they live (not that many young people can afford Manhattan).

But what I am taking away from this is that cars have been demoted in their lives - that maybe they are seeing cars as I do, transportation, rather than as expressions of masculinity, sexuality, power, control, etc. That would be a welcome change! And it seems to be happening quickly - when filling up the car at the gas tank, it's clear to me that it's a painful necessity, and has nothing to do with my self-image at all. If that becomes the case with a lot of people, the current automobile advertising is going to be a joke and a laugher for history classes later on.

That said, I can't see life without my car. No bicycle or bus or train is going to get me out to salt marshes or wildlife areas at 5:30 am in spring. It's not just my car, it's my freedom - that's the one slogan that has rung true to this baby boomer!

The thing about young people nowadays is that many of them are waking up and realizing that cars often fail the cost-benefit analysis. They are simply not worth as much to many people as the money they cost.

If you are young, just getting established, and don't have a lot of money, maybe you should spend it on a new condo and furniture and forget about the car. You can buy a lot of nice furniture and home entertainment equipment for the price of a car. If you can ride a bicycle and manage to locate yourself near a good bus route, that is probably all you need. For those occasions when you want to go out and have a good time with your friends somewhere not on a bus route, the odds are good that at least one of your friends has a car or can borrow one. If not, you can take a taxi. This doesn't work that well in the US but it does in most other countries.

I remember when an oil company I worked for tried to transfer a number of employees I worked with from Calgary to Houston. Calgary, although very much a car-oriented Western city, has about as many buses as Houston (a city 5 times as big) plus a very efficient light rail system. It came as a total shock to head office to learn that some of its employees (or more commonly their wives) had never learned to drive. They had never had a need to - they could always take the bus or the LRT or a taxi.

One couple was used to walking to work using Calgary's +15 system of enclosed skywalks. They could walk from their apartment to work, a distance of about half a mile, without ever going outside. This was especially useful in winter when there was a blizzard blowing. The wife had never learned how to drive. The husband had a bit of a drinking problem so it was best that he didn't have to drive that much.

They moved to Houston, and the wife found herself trapped in the suburbs with no way to get to shopping or any other sort of facility without driving, and the Houston traffic scared her to death. She couldn't go anywhere or do anything. The husband got busted for DUI and lost his licence. They were back in Calgary in less than a year.

Traffic in Albuquerque scares the crap out of me...I fear for my self, my children, and my wife and their friends every day. The police down here, in the domain of traffic management, seem to do nothing but respond to accidents, rather than be proactive and enforce legal, safe driving (they never seem to be around for the myriad of folks speeding, conducting dangerous lane weaving, driving w/o lights on at night, pulling out into traffic w/o looking (or just ramrodding their way through)running red lights (esp running the light from a turning lane at an intersection, etc.

Cars: a necessary evil...indeed.

If I were emperor, I would knock the surface street speed limit down to 30 mph and zealously enforce that...15 mph on residential streets. Don't like it, then walk or bicycle or take the bus.

I grew up in southern California in the 1950s. I startrd saving money to buy a car when I was 13. I bought my first car in 1959, a 1937 Ford Coupe. To me cars were about freedom, girls and mechanical fascination. I went to engineering school after the army because I loved mechanical things of all sorts, but it was all based on my love of cars. But in engineering school in the sixties it was impossible not to develop an environmental consciousness so for most of my adult life I struggled with my love of cars and appreciation for the environment. I understood the concept of peak oil, if not in those terms, by the time I graduated with a BSME in 1971.

So I focused on small cars. I had Triumphs, Lotus and Porsches. Over the years I came to think of driving cars on the street as a necessary evil. My interest was only in track events. When I stopped driving on the track at age 64 I was suprised to find that I didn't want to even own a car. Yet I am stuck now, living in the country, having to drive everywhere and I truly dislike it. Yet as we get older the notion of moving into a city with the noise, traffic and crime is equally unattractive. And there are certainly no small towns that we know of that are livable without a car.

So the car culture has consumed me and it has enabled cities, at least here in California, where it is pretty impossible to get around without a car. I doubt if things will change significantly in my lifetime.

I was talking to another gentleman at the streetcar stop last week.

He is nearing retirement (@ 60 years old) and realized that he just did not have enough money saved up. His wife took transit to work, but he drove.

They talked, and the easiest way to increase their savings rate was to sell his full-size pick-up. So he did about a year ago, got $9,000 for it. Paid off the last years of his home mortgage and deposited the rest (about $1,000) into savings.

We talked briefly about things he could do to reduce his utility bill before the streetcar came.

Best Hopes for More Such People,



Thanks for posting this most interesting article.

For those who haven't followed the link, an excerpt:

In 2008, 46.3 percent of potential drivers 19 years old and younger had drivers’ licenses, compared with 64.4 percent in 1998, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and drivers ages 21 to 30 drove 12 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 1995.

Forty-six percent of drivers aged 18 to 24 said they would choose Internet access over owning a car, according to the research firm Gartner.

In a survey of 3,000 consumers born from 1981 to 2000 — a generation marketers call “millennials”— Scratch asked which of 31 brands they preferred. Not one car brand ranked in the top 10, lagging far behind companies like Google and Nike.

I have seen other posts on TOD with data from various sources indicating that annual U.S. VMT is flat is has fallen slightly, but when I shared this article with my wife, she observed that traffic in Albuquerque id significantly heavier now than when we were here before from 2001-2004.

I also remembers several TOD posters make the same observation about the increasing traffic over the years in their locales.

Of course, population continues to rise in the U.S, with a potential to reach 400M by ~ 2050 or perhaps a few years sooner if trends do not change.

More on young people having lost interest in cars from Wall Street Journal. Auto execs feel that the kids will step up. No mention of peak oil.

I'll stick my neck out and suppose that a large reason people emigrate to the US is to drive. Cars are expensive overseas and wages are much lower. An unskilled worker in the US can earn enough at a low-wage job to afford the used car that would be unavailable in his home country.

Better than tracking numbers of cars on the highway is to note the percentage of newer cars. In my area of Northern Virginia there are many new cars. This area is somewhat immune to the slowdown elsewhere and credit is freely available purchase new cars. Outside the area however, there are more jalopies on the highways and more vehicles with dents/corrosion that would have sent them to the junkyard ten years ago.

When peak oil emerges with force -- perhaps later this year -- there will be a big 'die-off' in the car population soon afterward. As in Cuba after Castro took over, there will be those who take very good care of their cars and keep them out of harm's way. These few survivors will be on the road running on rationed gasoline, sweet-potato alcohol or soy-bean diesel for decades. The rest will be crashed, burned, stripped and otherwise wasted out of collective fury within a year or two.

I had a similar conversation w/ a friend, I recommended:

- simplicity: no electronics, no fuel injection or other high-tech nonsense that cannot be repaired but requires complex factory-only parts. Post peak there will be no factories!

- This means old: diesel engines w/ mechanical fuel injection, flathead or overhead valve gas engines w/ carburetors, manual transmissions or simple (commercial) automatic transmissions and conventional rear-wheel drive.

- NO four wheel drive (too many parts to break), no plastic (self-destructs), no 'high performance' vehicles at all.

- Older Mercedes and Peugeot diesel sedans are good examples, older USA cars and trucks (if they can be found), Japanese diesel 'box trucks' with- or without the boxes in the back. A good mechanic w/ simple tools can keep these kinds of vehicles operating for infinite period provided there is no crash. Keep in mind, the vehicle regime post-peak is likely to be some sort of vehicle share/rent collaboration, perhaps with a 'vehicle person' whose job is to provide vehicle transport for the group.

Hence my 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D with four speed manual transmission.

The only computer is in my radio (an 1989 Nakimichi).

However, I fill up so infrequently, I now add diesel stabilizer to the fuel. One clogged fuel tank taught me an expensive lesson.

Best Hopes for Hurricane Evacuations,


I'll stick my neck out and suppose that a large reason people emigrate to the US is to drive. Cars are expensive overseas and wages are much lower. An unskilled worker in the US can earn enough at a low-wage job to afford the used car that would be unavailable in his home country.

I think it is highly unlikely that people emigrate to the US to drive. More likely they move to the US to find better-paying jobs than are available in their own countries. One of the consequences of that is they can afford to buy a cheap used car, but I doubt that was their primary reason for moving.

However, one trend I have noticed in the US is that a lot of people on the bottom end of the income scale are backsliding into third-world living conditions. I don't think many unskilled workers in the US will be able to afford a car, or more particularly the fuel to operate it, for much longer.

When that happens, they are going to be very, very upset because the US has largely dismantled its once ubiquitous urban streetcar and bus systems, and they will no longer have a way to get to work.

The younger people who are no longer buying cars or even learning to drive are just anticipating the conditions that they expect to be living under in the not-too-distant future. They are moving to areas where there still is adequate public transportation available which will serve them when the automobile becomes limited to the affluent, and maintaining their social connections on the car-free internet.

"An unskilled worker in the US can earn enough at a low-wage job to afford the used car that would be unavailable in his home country. More immigrants means more drivers...

...When peak oil emerges with force -- perhaps later this year -- there will be a big 'die-off' in the car population soon afterward. "

This is already happening in a way. There is a shortage of good used cars, in part a result of 'cash for clunkers', fewer used rental and fleet vehicles reaching the market, and many folks are hanging on to their old cars longer. Dealers are paying more for trade-ins and I have been mailed several offers above book value to trade in my '05 Ranger, from Ford dealers. I've thought about selling it while demand is high and looking for an old diesel, one of the early eighties Dodge or Mitsubishi compact trucks perhaps; hard to find these days. My wife is hestitant regarding my suggestion that we have only one ICE vehicle and get some sort of electric ORV for the farm. I feel I need to do something prior to the next stage of the slow, massive implosion we find ourselves in. Wish I'd adopted those donkeys when I had the chance ;-/

BTW, Steve, enjoyed your comment over at TAE. I'm not sure 'enjoy' really applies, as this warm winter/spring along with a perceived lull in this ongoing meltdown is a bit sureal. My sense is that the camel is getting a bit swaybacked about now..

The Japanese made diesel trucks are excellent and are hard to find in good shape. Sometimes the leasing companies will have them on sale as they shift to buying newer replacements. Also, businesses abandon them when they fail (businesses). The trucks can be bought from property owners if these can be tracked down.

There is such a habit with the idea of 'mine' with large capital goods. It's good to have your own pairs of pants but everyone having their own 'house' is overdone. I think that with time there will be one or two vehicles per community as needed: a community being an extended household or a group of families, even a small town.

The electric tractors are the cutting edge of cool: http://www.flyingbeet.com/electricg/

"Looking at it from the relocation aspect - I have grand kids nearby."

I suppose that this is one of my primary motivations for staying in place and developing more sustainable strategies. At one point, we could have sold out and done quite well, prior to '05, but having the homestead gives the kids and grandkids a fallback position, not just physically, but mentally/emotionally. They know they can always come home (barring some worst-case catastrophy). My requirements for them to do so are strict enough that they won't do it on a whim, but I expect there will come a time that it may be their best option by far. Meantime, we'll enjoy our relative solitude, laying what groundwork we can for the long emergency..

Good points about the young. I figure a lot of them know what's up and expect, perhaps subconsciously, to wait out a collapse transition. As Orlov notes, once collapse occurs the goal is to do as little as possible. Energy is at a premium from peak oil so the young pursue other prospects, such as enjoying their free time.

I'm young, in my mid 20's. I know very few people my age who care about, or is even familiar with, the world energy situation, or any other myriad of problems. Most don't even think about their future. "Not my problem.", "Someone smarter than me will fix it.", "We'll switch to alternatives.", "It'll be even better, look how our grandparents progressed.".

Others don't seem to have the time to entertain the thoughts of collapse. Busy with work, or school. Trying to get one of those "jobs", which once they obtain one, reinforces their belief that the systems are working. Our society will go on just as it has before, just with fewer people enjoying the benefits. For this reason, I can't see those people who are to fix our problems make any reasonable attempt to do so. They're benefiting from their doomed society. And the children? Our legislatures have been quoted saying phrases such as "We'll borrow form our kids, or even grandkids". Won't the kids grow up with the same attitude?

I'm concerned for the growing number of individuals who will be kicked off from the train. What the hell are they to do with no jobs, no money, and no rights. Right now, the federal and state governments are paying them to stay quiet and continue consuming. How or why would they want to change? Free money comes on a plastic card to buy food.

As for me, I'm learning some gardening skills and reducing my energy usage and my consumption. My parents want no part in doing so. "I don't want to live like that." they say. The rest of the community, whatever community exists in these rural parts of America, are too busy watching NASCAR and drinking bud light. They've been bought out and don't see the need to change. Rather than trying to save anyone, or change them, some of us might be best off finding others who are ready to give up their past culture and start a new one.

And then the issue of money still acts as a constraint. How does one buy cultural tools, or a even a small earth-sheltered home, land, etc, with no money and no prospects for a job? Subsidized rent, perhaps.

The older people will squander their money to maintain their lifestyles and leave little for the children, except perhaps a home in suburbia that will have little economic value by the time the kids inherit it and the government takes his share of taxes.

What the hell are they to do with no jobs, no money, and no rights.

I think history's answer to this is pretty clear, whether you look at the distant or recent past: we'll be facing dramatic and widespread instances of social unrest.

Rather than trying to save anyone, or change them, some of us might be best off finding others who are ready to give up their past culture and start a new one.

And then the issue of money still acts as a constraint. How does one buy cultural tools, or a even a small earth-sheltered home, land, etc, with no money and no prospects for a job? Subsidized rent, perhaps.

Let's look seriously at this. How much of a commitment are you or anyone else willing to make to achieve your goals? Are you willing to risk it all? I'll use myself as an example because I did.

I was a chemical plant manager. The president and I were on a first name basis but what I found was that the company would screw anyone to save a buck. I couldn't do it and I had seen the same thing in other companies. So, I made a decision to leave the industry and move to the boondocks almost 40 years ago. Doing so meant that I had cut off any chance of going back - ever. Further, in doing so I gave up several millions of dollars in income over my lifetime and "millions" isn't BS. My first boondocks job was as the elementary school custodian at $3.13/hour. Are you or anyone else willing to make this kind of commitment?

There were lots of hippies and communes in my area. What happened? The hippies became "long hairs" who had an income stream and the communes folded because "warm and fuzzy" is hard to deal with in reality. Let me give another personal example: I was the unpaid vice president of a very small non-profit food distribution company. We had a tractor and reefer that hauled food from San Francisco for many of our county's co-ops. But, the co-ops hated the driver so we fired him at one board meeting. However, he was hired back at the next meeting because he and his wife were building a house and needed the money. I quit and the company folded 6 months later.

If people are serious about wanting to establish another way and don't have bucks for fancy stuff, they need to take the bull by the horns and do it. Yea, it's going to be hard and frustrating. "You" want to learn stuff? Put a note on the post office bulletin board saying, "I really want to learn how to... I have a travel trailer and am willing to work for free as long as I can park my trailer at your place. Call me at..."

There are lots of forums that have links to affinity groups. That's a good place to start.


With the net, it's easy to find places, people and ways to get involved that're outside of BAU-- a sinking ship.

Myself, I recently got involved with the Permaculture and Transition Movements, and through the latter, caught wind of an ecovillage project that was looking for members. Despite deciding to relocate elsewhere in the country after attending their first meeting, I would think that starting up, and/or being part of, a good ecovillage project would present invaluable experiences.

With regard to the 'status' thing I read somewhere above; if you're involved in, say, Permaculture, Transition, an ecovillage and/or things like those, you will find that they place a priority on respect/care of the Earth and People, which is of the highest true status.

Lastly, regarding collapse concerns, I think one of the best hedges is a tight community that embraces the aforementioned.

One of my students yesterday happened to mention he had been looking for work. I asked him where and he gave me the list a yard long. All stores and fast food crap. Now this kid is polite, respectful, a good attitude with the right 'rough edges'. He works hard without direction and looks for things to do when without a project. I gave him the name of a local fabrication shop that is always on the 'look' for a new apprentice. I told him: ask for _____. Tell him I sent you. Tell him you know nothing, but are a good worker and willing to learn. Do it like this....Let me come in and help with clean up and whatever else needs doing. I will do it for free. If you like the way I work and who I am, and if you have a need of a new apprentice, then please consider me.

I expect he will be working before May. It's what you have to do. You do whatever to get on and then work hard, everyday. I have 100 high school students this semester. Out of that number maybe three would be able to do this. The others all expect something great will fall into their laps because they are special. Most of them have glued their stupid ipods to their hands and closed their ears and eyes to reality.


Isn't that what the movie "The Hunger Games" is all about? Agenda 21 and Fascist government.

Redford pledges $3-billion in oil-sands environmental research

The Alberta “economy is increasingly a one-trick pony, and it will get crushed. And finding ways to improve the process of getting heavy oil out will not help us one iota,” said David Keith, a former University of Calgary professor who now teaches at Harvard.

Redford is talking about reviving AOSTRA, the Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority.

The interesting thing about AOSTRA is that they spent about $1 billion in oil sands research, and as a consequence of their research Alberta was able to book about 170 billion barrels of additional oil reserves. At current world prices that would be worth about $1.7 trillion. It's going to take a long, long time (100+ years) to produce that $1.7 trillion worth of oil, but I think it's likely they've already got their $1 billion in investment back with the amount of money that is pouring into the government vaults from taxes and royalties.

There's no guarantee that if they spend another $3 billion they would get $5.1 trillion in additional oil reserves, but there is a distinct possibility it could happen. The oil is definitely there, it's just a matter of figuring out how to produce it.

I was involved in a project that spent about about $50 million of AOSTRA's money, and we got approximately nowhere, tested all kinds of techniques that didn't work, but the thing about leading edge research is that it's a crap shoot. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Most of the time you lose, but as in this case, when you win, you can win big.

One of the things needed is a "journal of negative results" for each discipline. So every one isn't beating the same dead horse as much.

In that vein, it is one the hallmarks of government vs private research. The private results, positive and negative, become proprietary information.

Yes Harpo's committed this country to ultimate collapse, but that'll be beyond his term so he'll go down in history as an economic hero. The thing with his love affair with Alberta, and his firm belief in the existence of perpetual motion machines based on 3:1 EROEI oils sands, is that the Dutch Disease is killing Ontario's manufacturing industries (over which Flaherty then takes delight in bashing Ontario's deficit), and his latest budget cuts to gut fisheries spending is going to decimate our fisheries industries, so Harpo really is turning us into a one trick pony. As I say, it's "everyone piling down into the bilge with coffee cups to bail out the sinking ship, rather than enjoying the benefits of a healthy seaworthy ship up on deck" as the world runs out of energy. I really need to focus on getting the hell outta here, it is not going to be a nice place. Already he's trying to make democratic dissenters like me illegal. As if underfunded "radical foreign" environmental groups are any match for $40 billion BP profit. And the truly sad thing is, people actually believe his garbage.

I can understand not being happy about it but those tar sands really are going to be a metaphorical golden goose that kills real geese but pays out big. For decades. If something is profitable, it is extremely hard to stop. We can't even stop drugs and they are illegal. So the best you'll be able to do is try to keep good environmental regulations in place and try to spread the money around to the community so it isn't all just sucked up by the oil corps.

Ontario did well for generations based on cheap hydroelectricity from Niagara Falls and its proximity to the US car manufacturing centers, especially Detroit. With cheap energy, cheap labor, and cheap transportation to the US it managed to corner a disproportionately large portion of the North American car manufacturing industry.

The problem at this point in time is that there is only one Niagara Falls in Ontario, wind generators in Lake Ontario provide vastly more expensive energy, and proximity to the American rustbelt, especially Detroit, no longer gives any kind of competitive advantage.

At this point in time, the Canadian oil sands are cheapest source of incremental energy supply for North American transportation, and proximity to the huge markets of China and other countries in Asia provides a much better source of economic growth than relying on the stagnant US economy. Unfortunately for Ontario, all the high cards in the game are held by the Western Canada.

I realize that it may not make Ontario happy, but Canadian industry and population is migrating West to take advantage of the much greater natural resource base of Western Canada and its proximity to Asian markets. This process has been going on for some decades, and it is probably going to become even more rapid in future.

This was pointed out to me elsewhere.... if this is indeed correct, it is quite interesting


Yair . . . Could some one explain the logic of electricity prices that vary through out the day?

I'm pretty thick and have never been able to get my head around the concept . . . like wise why I have to pay a worker double time on Sundays.


... like wise why I have to pay a worker double time on Sundays.

Well, in countries with a Christian cultural history/basis, a strong commitment to family life (however defined), and an active trade union movement over the past 120 years, working outside "normal" business hours (8-6 Monday to Friday, sort of) has frequently attracted a higher rate of pay. It has been a part of the industrial landscape for many people in many countries, and it is accepted as both fair and reasonable.

However the increasing secularisation of many Western countries, plus the break-up of families and indeed whole communities, has led to (a) increasing use of temporary, casual, and contract workers, and (b) the decline of penalty rates for night and weekend work, including Sunday. There are arguments both ways, but when push comes to shove, I think penalty rates are a net social good.

Yair ... Cargill. Yes mate I understand the theory but I have always thought it BS.

Back in the days when I was employing people outside the award system we calculated the pay rates on the hypothetical notion of a worker doing eight hours a day seven days a week three sixty five days a year . . . divided by the hours.

The workers were better off, the customers were better off, and it simplified the rostering.


I read somewhere the assertion that taking one day off out of every 7 or so was regarded as a good idea for people's well-being, predating Christianity, and that this idea was adopted and woven into the Biblical tapestry.

I do not vouch for the veracity of this assertion, and wonder if anyone else has read ideas on this subject?

I can imagine the counter argument that one can be given a 'day of rest' on a varying schedule, but I imagine that:

1) both workers and employers may find the periodicity of the week end to be useful as a planning factor


2) the fear might be that without a codified 'official day off' then employers would easily skip the idea of giving any days off...perhaps with many people being subject to the same conditions as are purposed to be found with many employers in China?

I can also imagine counter-arguments that 'back in the day, folks worked the land and the notion of taking a day off was impossible', but I am not that familiar with old-to-ancient cultural customs to accept or refute that assertion.

I think the answer to the pay difference is much simpler. During the depression the Roosevelt administration decided it was in the national interest to make it difficult for employers to heap work on the employed rather than hire new workers. An exemption was made to allow for "professionals" hence the notion today of "exempt" and "non-exempt" workers. The former get no overtime pay.

Certainly since the Industrial Revolution began, with labour much more highly commodified, it has become an issue of supply and demand, as capitalism overtook and replaced agrarian and craft systems.

Australian workers (stonemasons) first won the eight-hour day (forty-eight hour week) in 1856 - because (a) there was a lot of building activity in the bigger cities, and (b) there was a shortage of skilled labour. Both of these were caused by the massive Gold Rush*, mainly in Victoria. And it was a steady progression from those early organised groups (guilds and societies) to widespread trade unionism, eventually including both women and unskilled labour.

*In fact, the biggest Gold Rush the world has ever seen, and we are still reaping its benefits. Victoria is a wealthy place.

Off hand, I don't believe that 1 in 7 (or 1 in 10) day theory. I suspect that most agricultural societies worked as dictated by conditions. Planting and harvesting being especially intensive. Fallow times during the winter. With frequent holidays (every few weeks) to bring community R&R. And that one day off in seven is Jewish/Christian/Islam specific.

To test this theory, I would look at the work calendar in Asia and India before significant influence from the Muslim expansion.


Thank you for your thoughts. It is interesting to think about how various aspects of our cultures have evolved.

Evidence of continuous use of a seven-day week appears with the Jews during the Babylonian Captivity of the 6th century BC. Both Judaism (based on the Creation narrative in the Bible) and ancient Babylonian religions used a seven-day week. Other cultures adopted the seven-day week at different times. Between the 1st and 3rd centuries the Roman Empire gradually replaced the eight-day Roman nundinal cycle with the seven-day week. Hindus may have adopted a seven day week earlier than 11th century BC. See Rig Veda. There is evidence of some Chinese groups using a seven day week as early as 4th century


The official Chinese week (and subsequently Japanese (and Korean?)) week was 10 days long. But even in China there is an official day of rest: The law in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) required officials of the empire to rest every five days, called mu (沐), while it was changed into 10 days in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 – 907), called huan or xún (旬).

So my initial skepticism may need to yield a bit. A "day of rest" exists even outside of Abrahamic religion. Although it isn't clear to me yet if "mu" extended to the peasants.

I recall a study a few years ago, done by the mining and insurance industries, which concluded that job-related insurance claims increased dramatically for mines that were on 7 day/week overtime schedules and also mines using 'swing shifts' especially rotating shifts against the clock (as opposed to with the clock). It had to do with bio-rhythms (circadian rhythms), ; most humans seem to be on a 25 hour day so their body clocks get out of sync with a 24 hour schedule. They need a day off to get back in sync. Swing shifts against the clock made things even worse. while their body clocks were gaining a day per week, their work schedules were talking them in the opposite direction. Once these mines reversed their shift rotations, insurance claims and absenteeism dropped dramatically.
Again, the ancients knew what they were doing, if not why.

On submarines, we were on 18 hour days; 6 on watch, 6 working and 6 sleeping. It took getting used to, but seemed to work.

More on circadian rhythms and shift work.

Great article...looks like an interesting area of study.

My company allows the potential (upon management and customer approval) to work 9/80s between Memorial Day and Labor Day ( I suppose on the theory that a lot of people have children and these children typically have much of the Summer off from school). Since I am an exempt employee and typically work >40 hrs/week, this arrangement worked well for me...the only bummer was if I felf 'behind' or the customer had to have a meeting etc on a Friday...the first year I signed up I really didn't follow the schedule and worked a regular week anyway...the second year I signed up I grew a pair and made it work for my benefit.

I would gladly work 4-10s and take every Friday off.

I believe Sandia National Labs has a deal where a lot of their folks are working either 4-10s or 9/80s, base on the observed traffic flow.

When I started out in the AF flying a large, heavy old war machine, the AF was a lot less concerned about circadian rhythms and work schedule, beyond the /minimum/ strictures of crew duty day and crew rest. Nowadaze they are much more concerned about such things, not only for flying duties, but for ground duties as well.

Yes, it is correct. On sunny days the power price around midday / early afternoon are not much more expensive than at 2 - 3 at night and significantly cheaper than they used to be or when the sun is not shining and wind is not blowing. On a sunny Sunday when power consumption is low and PV generation is high, prices are already lower than at night times with e.g. only 0.011 Eur/kWh at 3pm last Sunday. Typical prices used to be aroun 0.06 Eur / kWh. One can see all of the prices on eex.com, the european power exchange[1]. Particularly note worthy is the difference in prices between the German and the Swiss (and partly the French) power market, even though these are strongly interconnected through cross boarder trasmission lines.

Germany now has over 25GW of PV and 30GW of wind installed at an average consumption of about 60GW and peaks of about 80GW. Last Wednesday with over 30GW, nearly half of all German electricity production at midday came from Wind and PV (18GW wind + 12 GW) and that exlucdes hydro power and bio fules which add another couple of GW. Given that PV and Wind have priority over conventional power sources, this most definately severely effects conventional generators (and that is after shuting down 8 nuclear power plants). It is also severely affecting pumped hydro power stations as there ecconomic model of buying cheap night time power to pump water up the hill and sell the generated electricity during the day no longer works. That is somewhat unfortunate, as storage is something that is desperately needed with a large penetration of Wind and PV, but will likely get better again as more Wind and PV are installed and they can reverese the model of pumping up water at middday and selling the power in the early morning and evening.

Of cause the quoted prices are those of the spot electricity market and a large proportion of the electricity used to be sold through long term contracts at fixed rates, rather than traded through the spot market. However the contract prices do get effected by spot market prices and by now about 30% of electricity is traded via the spot market.

Furthermore, although the electricity from PV and wind is sold on the spot market, the procuders actually get paid the feed in tarifs with the difference between the spot market and FiT being paid through a separate system paid by the rate payers.

[1] http://www.eex.com/en/Market%20Data/Trading%20Data/Power/Hour%20Contracts%20|%20Spot%20Hourly%20Auction/spot-hours-table/2012-03-31/PHELIX

I don't think the article really explained what is happening here. The situation arises because different power producers are treated quite differently by the system. Conventional coal and gas powered producers are paid a market rate and can only sell their power when it is actually needed. Wind and solar PV producers otoh are always able to sell their power and always receive their contracted tariff rate, regardless of the current market rate. As more renewable power is added to the system, conventional power producers will experience both lower market rates during some periods of the day as well as reduced demand. This sounds like a win-win as the lower market rates help offset the cost of the tariffs to renewable power producers. It's not a sustainable situation though. Power companies will continue to operate their conventional generators in the short term because they are a stranded investment but over time they will shutdown generating capacity to help push the market price for power back up. The danger is that so much generating capacity is removed that the system cannot cope with peak demand when little or no renewable power is available.

Well said. As I understand the situation in Germany, generators that use renewable resources -- solar, wind, hydro -- can sell as much power as they have into the grid at a guaranteed price. Operators of fossil fuel and nuke plants don't get the same generous deal. That's probably not a bad policy overall; in fact, I would favor something like it; however, it runs at least somewhat counter to the direction taken by federal policy in the US over the last 20 years. Which makes investment in renewable generators in the US less attractive: if you're working to a narrow margin, the consequences of not being able to sell all the power your wind farm generates, or being required to pay for make-up power when you can't otherwise deliver power that your wind farm has contracted to provide, may be the difference between paying the bondholders and not.

Worth pulling a blockquote out from the article that Flakmeister started the thread with.

Why generators are terrified of solar

The first graph illustrates what a typical day on the electricity market in Germany looked like in March four years ago; the second illustrates what is happening now, with 25GW of solar PV installed across the country. Essentially, it means that solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators – as happens in Australia with a more modest rollout of PV – it is in fact eating their entire cake.

We might be getting to a point where solar has disrupted the status quo to the point that fossil fuel generators are starting to realize they have lost the battle. There will still be a need for nat gas peak generation, but a government owned generator may need to take over this responsibility, as there is no money in it for the private sector. Especially if the goal is to eliminate fossil fuel use.

Imagine if Japan had implemented FIT like the Germans did. Would they now be forced to run their factories only at night post Fukushima if they had implemented solar?

"Imagine if Japan had implemented FIT like the Germans did. Would they now be forced to run their factories only at night post Fukushima if they had implemented solar?"

Well, they still could (and there are plans for FiT in Japan from June onwards). PV has an incredibly fast build out rate if you care about peak prdocuction. E.g. Germany built 3GW of PV in December alone. OK, that does include some prior planning and organisation as well as rely on a very efficient distribution and local installer network that has been built up over the last few years. But still Japan could presumably build a couple of GW of PV this year a probably upwards of 10GW next year if they wanted.

Due to the low capacity factor of PV (between 10% - 20%) it doesn't contribute as much to the total power production, but if you have daytime power production shortages in summer e.g. due to airconditioning, it appears to be an increadably good way to quickly alleviate those shortages.

Costwise, it is probably also not that bad for Japan. For free standing large PV installations the FiT in Germany will be down to 135 Eur/MWh. That is probably not that far off of oil powered plants at 130$ per barrel or 16$ for LNG. And it is definately cheaper than shuting down factories.

"..to the point that fossil fuel generators are starting to realize they have lost the battle.."

I could well be accused of wishful thinking, but that is my takeaway as well. The article helps show how the Utilities view this situation as 'unfair', it seems.. but that's when I have to toss that old 'Life's not fair, is it?' right back at them.

People think Nuclear is tough to put back into the bottle once it's out, I don't think many appreciate how valuable it is to have a few Blue Slabs of PV that will simply, and unavoidably give you your watts when there's Sun falling on them. People deride that as being 'Unreliable'.. I think they'll find some much bigger and more painful faults in 'reliability' coming at us..

As I'm in a confessional mode, I suppose it's only fair to say that this is as good an example as any of how addictive power is. Of course, I don't think it's a really destructive addiction in this case.. but of course, I'm biased. (Red to Positive, Black to Negative.. usually)

I'm biased. (Red to Positive, Black to Negative.. usually)

And don't forget Green to Ground! >;^)

As for 'Unreliable'? Well, people need to sleep... the 24/7 mode of everything always being on is profoundly unnatural! Sure some industrial processes and emergency services might need to be exceptions. We need a paradigm shift the sooner the better. Sometimes I allow myself a smidgen of hope that it may be happening already.


I think 'terrified' is the right term.

Happy story: I gave my wallet to a homeless person.
Missing detail: They had a gun.

Happy story: Electricity resellers buy commercial solar output.
Missing detail: If they didn't they would be fined.

In Australia the penalty for not buying the current quota is called a shortfall charge of $65 per Mwh

Basically electricity retailers buy wind and solar because they have to, not because they want to. Supporters of renewable energy take the moral high ground but don't seem to have qualms about forcing people to do things against their will.

The second issue is that starting July 1st CO2 emissions will be taxed at $23 per tonne. That handicaps coal and gas fired generators. Therefore renewables get two bites at the cherry, by kneecapping the opposition then getting subsidies backed by penalties. If we had the carbon price alone we would see just how much unsubsidised wind and solar the market wanted. At current energy prices I think that would be under 20% of the mix but that could increase subject to backup practicalities.

"Supporters of renewable energy take the moral high ground but don't seem to have qualms about forcing people to do things against their will."

As always, it depends on 'what things'.. when those things involve getting your nation to have SOME power sources that don't pollute, or to help prime the pump for the Industry that will bring it, then I'm as much in favor of using Tax resources for that purpose as I am for creating a Reasonable Standing Army, or Forcing people to obey various rules of behavior that they may 'not want to do'.. Germany has been pretty good about making itself take tough pills when the writing is on the wall, which is ALSO why it is dialing back the FIT rates, no?

The carbon price alone should be enough if you get rid of all the freebies like grandfathered permits, exemptions and bogus offsets. The customers are out there waiting for low carbon energy it's just that Big Carbon wants the rules rigged in their favour. The Australian carbon tax starts at $23 in 2012 rising to ~$29 in 2015 to be followed by a cap and trade scheme, floor price $15.

The wind industry say they want $40 per tCO2 so as not to need subsidies and mandates. Not sure about commercial solar. I don't think that's likely given the European price is under $10. What I say is get rid of the freebies and see what happens. Maybe in an unrigged post PO market $10-$15 will be more than enough to get major renewables penetration.

Basically electricity retailers buy wind and solar because they have to, not because they want to. Supporters of renewable energy take the moral high ground but don't seem to have qualms about forcing people to do things against their will.

People breath air full of pollution from power plants because they have no other atmosphere to breathe. I see no moral issue with society deciding they tired of being forced to breath in pollution spewed from power plants and thus requiring the power production system to move to a less polluting system.

The power producers have no moral authority this 'being forced to' argument when they have been forcing people to breath pollution for centuries.

That's more to the point I hoped to make.

Think of the thinks underregulated industry 'forces us to do against our wishes' .. THAT I have plenty of qualms about.

The Time article - Bryan Walsh - states that oil is a global commodity. The implications of it not being 'global' in the sense of for sale or else are - well - sobering.

Nasty, naughty thoughts of storing it in situ for sale when the price is more favourable just aren't to be countenanced. Thou shalt sell it as soon as possible to keep thine price down. Like those valiant, self sacrificing Brits did with the North Sea; selling it off at $20 and now buying it back at $120. Priceless.

yes. what are the chances that Brazil will sell their offshore oil to the US? That is when it comes online in 10 years...

The Time article is pretty good but they seem to want to have it both ways. They say that oil is getting tight but indicate that there is plenty of oil, but only at a higher price. It looks like the article was written in an attempt to please everyone. I have electronic access because I am a subscriber. The article is six web pages long so the clip below is only a tiny sample. Bold mine.

The advantage of OPEC and especially Saudi Arabia, with its vast, easily tapped oil fields, is that producers could work together to manage prices, increasing production when demand rose and throttling back when prices were about to fall. It's not exactly the invisible hand at work, but the promise is more predictability, which helps consumers, producers and governments plan with confidence.

Those days are gone. Today major oil producers are pumping flat out. The Russians and Saudis, for instance, need expensive oil to power their wobbly economies and placate their people. It suggests more booms and busts ahead, especially if the global economy slows again. "If OPEC can't play that price-stabilizing role anymore, then we can't banish oil's natural volatility," says Robert McNally, founder of the Rapidian Group and a former White House adviser on energy. "That means we could see prices ranging from $200 to $30."

Ron P.

Of course as price rises, more oil becomes economically viable. But that is slow oil which can't be ramped up quickly. So oil remains tight even at high oil prices, with "producers" pumping flat out and plenty of difficult / slow oil in the ground.

Darwinian (or anyone): what is the oil price at which alternate energy systems become cheaper than oil extraction and we leave the rest in the ground?

Just to add to my previous post. It has occurred to me that oil only exists within a system that includes dicovery, refineries, distribution, retail sales, etc. As we extract less and less oil, the overhead costs increase as do other costs. If refineries shut down due to lack of volume, then the oil must travel farther from the remaining refineries to retail outlets. This increases prices at the pump. If oil volume goes down enough, pipelines may not have enough to flow.

I know I am probably wrong about some of these details but I think the overall point may be correct. That oil will stop flowing when the volume falls below a given level where economies of scale no longer work in oil's favor. At that point the system collapses as a whole. The entire rig brought down by the weakest link.

Oil seems to be far more system dependent then renewables. In fact, renewables may win in the end because of the ability to modularize them to the level of a home or neighborhood or city. Fossil fuels seem to rely on a large interconnecting systems to work. Renewables get their power locally from sun or wind. I think this is a big advantage in the long run. The collapse of oil could be a very sudden process, lower and lower volumes and then system collapse.

Also bear in mind that we moderns have gotten used to abundant energy, so we have forgotten what it's like to live without it.

So, you'll have to walk/bike places and you'll have to use candles at night. Big whoop, people will survive.

It is actually a big deal, but you get my point. Whether it comes from fossil fuels or from renewables, we can get by and have culture with far less energy than we are using right now.

The big lie of industrialization, believed pretty much the world over now, is that we either "grow" forever and consume massive amounts of fossil fuels, or we all die.

Yeah right, whatever. If that were the case human beings would have never made it to 1900, much less out of the African savannah 50,000 years ago.

Mind you I'm aware of the population bubble, but what's the sustainable level? 1 billion? 2? Who knows. Young people will get together and breed, babies will be born, the old will die off. Same as it ever was.

The big lie of industrialization, believed pretty much the world over now, is that we either "grow" forever and consume massive amounts of fossil fuels, or we all die.

Industrialization made production more efficient, this worked for farm produce as well as woven cloth. At first it put people out of work but as it spread with the aid of cheap energy, it gave millions of people jobs. They were able to leave the farm and find work in the cities.

Industrialization and technology always makes things more efficient. This in turn puts people out of work. Growth is needed to put these people to work at new jobs. No growth means no new jobs. The population is growing by about 70 million people per year. And new technology throws several times that many out of their jobs every year.

No growth means no jobs and people starve. That is why they die, from the lack of food not from the lack of oil.

Ron P.

Here are some population numbers (in millions) :-

10,000 BC : 1
0 AD : 200
1000 AD : 400
1650 AD : 600
1800 AD : 900
1810 AD: 1,000
1930 AD: 2,008
1970 AD: 3,700
2000 AD: 6,080

Source : http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/history/world-population-growth.htm

If one considers that the industrial revolution started in around 1750, and that it was largely due to the ready availability of coal, and later growth can be attributed to the ready availability of oil, one can imagine that a post-fossil-fuel-age population will be one which returns to pre-1750 levels.

With the degradation of the landscape, e.g. deforestation, topsoil loss, one can imagine the land being unable to support even this number, without fossil fuels. Possibly we will return to medieval levels, at best.

You touch upon something that goes mostly unnoticed: There is no accurate estimate of what remains of the substance that served as the genesis of the Industrial Revolution -- Coal.

In other words, the world has been and continues to operate on an Ad Hoc basis. People believe there is a permanence to their way of life when in fact it is anything but permanent.

I should give credit where credit is due on the status of Coal estimates: Richard Heinberg in his book "Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis" provides a comprehensive review of the Coal Industry globally.

... the industrial revolution started in around 1750, and that it was largely due to the ready availability of coal,

Given coal has been around since the Carboniferous period, that premise needs some more support.

Britain adopted Coal much earlier than other countries and regions, far before the development of the Newcomen steam engine. Almost all of Britain's Coalfields were opened up between 1540 and 1640. The historical data speaks for itself: In 1800 Britain produced more than 80% of the coal mined globally. Britain's share was still over 50% by 1870 and remained dominant until the end of the 1800s, after which the United States eclipsed Britain.

Yes, but what is the relevance to the two posts above?

You're missing that with more wealth ACROSS society, there is no need for everyone to work. In the western world, few die from lack of work nowadays. Even the homeless don't tend to die from starvation. There are food stamps for the poor.

When a great mass of people ARE starving, I expect them to eventually turn on their "masters", like the French Revolution. Then again, maybe the propaganda will keep people blaming those poorer than them. At least as long as Romney doesn't accidentally let slip something like "Let them eat cake!"

"At least as long as Romney doesn't accidentally let slip something like "Let them eat cake!""

Or as long as Frothy doesn't accidentally let slip something like this:


-Bob K.

The population is growing by about 70 million people per year.

Yes, though on track to fall to a growth rate of 15 million per year in fifty years.

There is no set price for oil extraction. Oil sands is one price, oil from shale like the Bakken is another price and deep water oil is a lot more expensive than shallow water oil. And you must know oil from old fields like Ghawar an other giant fields is very cheap. However there is no alternative form of energy for liquid transportation fuel that is cheaper than any of these extraction methods.

What is driving the current price of oil is the scarcity of oil, not the cost of extraction. While the marginal barrel is produced at probably 70 to 80 dollars a barrel, most of the oil is produced at a much lower rate.

So as we look to other forms of energy, oil from coal, natural gas and so on, it will be the scarcity of oil that will drive that effort, not the cost of extraction. And no easy oil will ever be left in the ground unless the economy collapses into a state of chaos and anarchy. There will likely be a lot of the very hard to extract oil left however.

Ron P.

What is driving the current price of oil is the scarcity of oil, not the cost of extraction.

A very key point Ron. I think the peak oil community weakens their argument by simply saying peak oil is the end of cheap oil without clarifying that. Then critics are able to immediately turn the conversation to the cost of things like the Canadian oil sands or the tight oil plays and quote some current extraction cost and simply say "that's a number the world can afford."

But if we clarified the argument to say peak oil is signifying the end of easy oil (high rate) and a transition to tough oil (more expensive but also much slower in extraction rate) then we can more easily make the argument you just made - that it is the scarcity of oil - as measured by extraction rate that drives the price up - and that is a much stronger factor than just the extraction cost.

We have lived in abundance so long that we will be staggered by scarcity and all of its consequences. That is why I think Colin Campbell always said that the timing of the peak is not all that critical - rather it is the consequences of the long slide down the other side we should be considering.

It is characteristic of fossil fuels that until you hit the peak of recoverable reserves, the amount you can recover steadily increases. Considering coal, oil and natural gas as a whole its been that way for over 200 years now. Civilization has been thoroughly conditioned by now to believe that resources will only grow cheaper and more abundant as time goes by. The prevailing schools of economics takes this as some kind of universal law, whereas its probably just due to a quirk of geology.

I think your question is too binary in nature. Different oil usages will have different terminal price points. Oil/diesel for electrical generator (other than emergency backup), has been uneconomic for years -although there still exist a few plants. Gas/diesel for long distance transport is a bit tougher to replace, so it will hang on longer. Oil for lubrication, or for cheical feedstocks will pobably go on for a lot higher prices, especially minority usages like lubrication.

For transport, I doubt its either or. Maybe we go to plug in hybrids. These still need liquid fuels -unless all travel is severely limited in range. At some price point for liquid fuel, and for high efficiency PV, it makes sense to add PV to all nontransparent surfaces and offset some of the liquid fuel requirement. But, it will still need fuels -at least some of the time.

Again, think of a cargo ship. If bunker fuel gets very pricy, they can slow down, and add wind assist -and maybe PV, all of which reduce the fuel requirement on the average trip -but they will still want fuel plus engines for emergency purposes -such as getting out of the way of a storm, -and probably to maintain some forward motion during calms (calm nights if PV is part of the solution). So fuel requirements can be reduced, but cutting them to zero will be really tough.

Darwinian (or anyone): what is the oil price at which alternate energy systems become cheaper than oil extraction and we leave the rest in the ground?

There is no such one price, there is a multitude of prices for different applications. For some things, the price has long since been bypassed. For example, just about no one uses oil for electricity generation unless they have no other nearby source (like Hawaii) or they have massive amounts of oil (Saudi Arabia). And as people in the NorthEast are learning, the using oil for heating is terribly uneconomic (use natural gas instead!).

But for transportation, it is very difficult to compete with the energy density and cheap engines for oil. Gas/diesel allows cars to be built with inexpensive drive systems, have long range, and be filled-up quickly. Technically, it is much MUCH cheaper to drive on electricity if you just look at the fuel costs. But EVs require expensive batteries so EVs are on a long uphill climb to knock out the old ICE engine. But if prices keep going up, I think hybrids, PHEVs, and pure EVs are going to very popular. The EVs & PHEVs are struggling but Toyota can't build its new cheap Prius C hybrid fast enough to meet demand.

Aviation is probably stuck with oil since there is nothing that can compete with it except biofuels. People have proposed hydrogen for aviation but seems like a bit of a joke to me.

I don't know at what price solar and wind crowd out oil but there is a price point at which power companies go bankrupt and start rolling blackouts. Wind and solar look very competitive in that case because that power is lost and would not come back no matter how much you pay for it.

Wind is competitive now. The reason nobody talks about it is because there's little money in it.

These comments reinforce a couple of major issues that seem to be underestimated by much of the MSM.

Firstly, project delays:

Many new 'big' discoveries - be they Brazil deep water, Kazakhstan, or reworked fields in Iraq - seem to suffer badly from major project creep. If you read the trade journals they often cite the (usually) laudable goal of sourcing as much of the infrastructure development 'in-country' to stimulate local industries. But the downside can be, in technically new industry areas, or inefficient or corrupt regions, that HC-to-market delays become significant. Not only does this delay the time to market, it can seriously damage company and country finances, leading to all sorts of interim fire-sale tactics that help few in the longer term.

Secondly, national subsidies:

Again, read the news and you will see a huge proportion of the population assumes subsidised oil and gas as a given right. Changes to the subsidy (Nigeria, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Gulf states (indirect subsidies include low/no taxation), Venezuala, Indonesia and more) risk major political upheaval, so the status quo continues unchanged, with rising demand for cheap fuel driven bygrowing populations and growing lifestyle expectations - meanwhile, all the time the governments lose more and more revenue just trying to stand still.

It is a tough situation.

I don't remember who posted it a couple days ago in the Drumbeat but does anyone have the link to the decline in arctic ice coverage where the observed data was fit quite nicely with an exponential curve ? Went back to try to find it but looks like archives etc. not working currently (?)



I linked to this image in another forum. Does this help? It terifies me...


A picture is worth...

There is a very thoughtful discussion of the use of this and other graphs at neven's Arctic blog (where if first appeared, I believe).


Yep - that's the one !

Thanks everyone that replied !


Masters discusses your earlier thoughts on loss of Great Lakes ice impacting the March heat wave.
It also seems mixing is progressing, and the Michigan surface water temps are moderating to more normal levels.

I found it interesting how his gripe with that graph is apparently not how the data was plotted, but rather the extrapolation of the curve. Uh, ok, that's true, but isn't the actual downward curve median so far the big alarm bell? Look at all those other extrapolated predictive lines - they are all going down pretty sharply, and given 10-15 max. possible difference in years only seems like a lot to people, who time wise are wired for now, now, what about now?! Forget now, think about the trend. Where are we headed - where is that ice headed and what happens when the old Arctic ice is gone? Does it usher in runaway global warming in the form of huge methane releases, or is it just another tipping point towards that eventuation?

Somewhere between people's idea of time passing and geologic time passing is a big part of humankind's problem. We think in short term spurts in relation to our expected lifetimes. No, think long term, where will humankind be in a thousand years? That's not even geologic but at least it is on a better timescale than 10-15 years.

By the way, Drumbeat is loading much faster for us today - thanks.

So the Artic will be ice free in 2015 (Summer)? These volume estimates are getting fairly far removed in trend from the satellite ice area measurements, where the all time minimum was back in 2007.

The reason for the volume estimates IS that the area observation DO NOT tell the whole truth. Sea ice cover is measured as 100% even when its just a thin veneer of ice covered with some snow fall. That's why we are interested in the actual ice-depth where we can derive the volume. Ones we know that there's no thick sea-ice left in the northern hemisphere - we can be pretty certain its gonna melt completely in the summer time. And open water as opposed to reflective ice/snow is a major climate driver.

Also here's a better graph:

source: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

As the climate-deniers would say: "the 2007 record is just noise/fluke". The rest of it is a textbook example of a downward trend IMHO...

There are many reasons why the trend isn't exactly the same for sea-ice area and volume. We can quibble over the definition of "far removed", but if you want to imply that the volume estimates have something wrong with them, do tell us whats wrong with them then?

I don't know if anything is "wrong" with the volume estimates. Extent/area is straightforward observational data from satellites; PIOMAS volume estimates come from a model, a well studied model perhaps, but nevertheless a model. There is another model, the US Navy's PIPS, that provides different volume estimates. PIPS shows yearly volume minimums (1000 km^3):

1998: 8
2000: 8
2002: 10
2004: 10
2006: 8
2008: 6
2010: 7

1998: 13
2000: 10
2002: 12
2004: 10
2006: 9
2008: 6.5
2010: 7

That is, there's some agreement in recent years; back in '98 PIOMAS showed ~70% more volume of arctic ice.

As for your made-up graphs copy-pasted from AGW-sites. I quote NCIDC:

“Thank you for contacting NSIDC. Walt Meier, one of our sea ice scientists provided some thoughts which I will sum up along with a few other points from talking with other scientists here at NSIDC:
Unfortunately, there are no continuous, Arctic-wide measurements of sea ice volume/thickness which is why models are used to estimate volume/thickness. Sea ice extent on the other hand is derived from remotely sensed data from satellites.

The PIPS model is an operational model, and is designed to forecast the ice a few days into the future (for navy submarine use, etc). It is not proper to use it to study year to year changes. PIPS, is known to be not terribly useful for sea ice other than perhaps motion; definitely not thickness.

Also. Sorry for feeding the AGW troll. Won't do it again.

Climatedata is an AGW site?

Catskill -

Here's one link to the chart, and some discussion about it. It's from the University of Washington PIOMAS project:


A lot of things aren't working correctly. Some posts are missing. The entire Drumbeat section is gone (or at least invisible to ordinary users).

For that reason, I left the old Drumbeat on the front page, because otherwise it's un-findable for rank and file users.

I suspect the site will have to be taken down again and worked on, but for now, we're leaving it up, since parts of it are usable.

Will Joule's thread on the Elgin mishap reappear?

You don't see it? I see it, but only if I'm logged in. (Visitors who are not logged in always get an older version of the site, but right now it's much, much older.)

I believe there are a few days' posts that are AWOL. I assume they will be restored eventually.

Can't see it listed and if try to go to it directly by URL from my history I get "You are not authorized to access this page. "

Hope repairs go smoothly for all involved.

I don't see it either. Several things are missing, only this drumbeat is recent.

I just logged out and back in and it still didn't appear.

It looks to involve node permissions...could be a bear to fix if the standard permission rebuild doesn't do the job (which I suspect has already been tried).

Still not there, only DB, then Search Archive, Tech talk w/SA oil pt2 . And postings previous to that on the TOD main page.

Thanks for the update Leanan - I saw a couple mentions of something "not quite right" upthread but I wasn't sure what was going on.

Hope it's nothing too serious.

Good luck !

Apologies to readers, as some database problems remain. As Leanan said, the content is still there, but there was some database corruption which has rendered some recent content inaccessible to readers (other than TOD staff). We are working with the web host to fix this, but we don't have a timetable as of yet.

And for right now, we cannot create new posts (other than DrumBeat).


Fareed Zakaria writes in the Washington Post "No one could have predicted that oil prices would rise to today’s levels." Right. Who could have predicted that? Someone would have had to believe that oil supplies were going to tighten up significantly over the past few years, and I don't know anyone like that. Do you? I mean, other than 95% of the people who post here.

Yup, we're starting to hear that now, just like:

No one could have predicted that the housing boom would go bust

No one could have predicted that the financial markets would go bust

I guess No One has been listening as those who did predict it were shouting!

My son gave me Zakaria's Post American World. Read about 20 pages, went to the index, and started checking "oil, peak oil, energy, coal", and a few more. Basically, nothing cited.
Stopped reading, gave it back, and said "Dude is standing on the dock watching the boat sail into the sunset." The planet has hit our resource limits, and any book about the future had better take that into consideration. .

Once paraded out as a "refreshingly new credible source", Zakaria looks more every day like he's on the take; certainly more concerned with cheerleading BAU than journalistic accuracy. I stopped watching his Sunday show a while back as he began to rely more on opinion than reality. Then, again, the WaPo article is posted as an opinion,, and you know what they say about those...

Opinions are like noses...

...they're all in your face?


..everyone has one.

When he moved to his new digs, and had something like ten minutes of oil company propagandaadds in a half hour show I'd had enough. Basically I concluded he was just another corporate wh**e.

Meh. Fareed Zakaria is just a foreign policy and government wonk. And he does know that stuff very well. He just isn't an engineer/energy/science guy. That is not his bailiwick. So yeah, he gets blindsided by energy issues.

At heart, Zakaria is a political scientist and a globalist, looking for political and world-wide solutions. Eg, how do the US, India, and China save Pakistan from its political problems, or how the rich nations can save Africa. My own opinion is that he's really very good from that perspective. Where he's not good, or perhaps it would be better to say that his worldview precludes him thinking about, is problems that have at best regional solutions, especially when it means that some regions will do much better than others. Granted, there are people who think I'm nuts to believe that some regions can slide down gracefully, reaching a new equilibrium while preserving much modern tech, and they may be right. But even if it's a delusion, it's one that I think is worth working for.

Good, short rant Rapier. No one except those peak oil cult type people anyway, and who listens to them? MSM resides within its own bubble.

Real Time U.S. Wind Map

An invisible, ancient source of energy surrounds us—energy that powered the first explorations of the world, and that may be a key to the future.

This map shows you the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US.

This is a very cool real time wind map.

Checkout the Snapshots of Winds Past.

Very cool indeed! Thanks for the link...

Nice map to add to the collection.

I guess that they have not determined the existence, or non-existence of wind in Canada or Mexico :-)

I think they just need to find a source of data for other locations!

We'd be interested in displaying data for other areas; if you know of a source of detailed live wind data for other regions, or the entire globe, please let us know.

What a "dog's" breakfast! (Looks like a scottish terrier head in profile).


here is some more information on this sovereign citizen movement.

it pretty much seems only a mater of time before we have a waco style shoot out with one of them.

The individual rights crowd sees the common refrains of:
Limited oil
Some authority sheperding resources
which are common on TOD are assumed to be part things like Agenda 21 or even eugenics.

As for WACO - Do you mean where the Government rolls up with tanks and starts playing music over loudspeakers?

yup and then come in with stressed out trigger happy swat agents. it was a cluster**** on both sides. a religious nut and people as stressed out as the people in the compound for being there for so long.

Wow - it is good to have Drumbeat back - talk about withdrawal symptoms!

There Will Be Oil—and That’s the Problem

This Time article was a bit more balanced than most MSM articles but it's caveats are bothersome.

But as I write in my cover story, those heroic discoveries are occurring around the world, from the deepwater finds off Brazil to the North Dakota tight oil that has led to a resurgence of American crude production.

All writers need to study their oil history and do their arithmetic. These discoveries are not heroic on a global scale. Heroic happened back in the mid 20th century. Today's discoveries are rather mundane. And North Dakota oil is not a new discovery.

My current take on explaining peak oil is to try to get away from the narrative is that is the end of cheap oil but instead it the end of easy oil and we are transitioning to "tough" oil. The distinction is subtle but tough oil is just not more expensive to produce but also much slower to produce in terms of barrels per day. And that is the real problem. Our global predicament is all about the rate of oil flowing into the global economy. Yes, this tough oil is more expensive - that is a given - but it is low rate oil and that is the predicament. Oil production has stalled globally - the first stage in an eventual decline.

And the stalling of production rate (and eventual decline) is the killer.

The magical thinkers are trying to tell us we are sitting on vast reserves that will save us. But most of what we are now sitting on is tough oil - that will never flow fast - and fast is the requirement in an economy that is having wet dreams about growth. The oil we are sitting on is of no use to the economy - it has to flow and flow fast - but the fast stuff has mostly been burned.

Thus we will have to change. Whether we like it or not.

Our global predicament is all about the rate of oil flowing into the global economy.

That's exactly it! Once I came to the point of realizing that in my peak oil education process, I pictured a river of crude oil flowing past and as the decades flooded by, the flow increased in height and width until it stopped growing in size in May 2005 or thereabouts. Once the crude river stopped rising there was a grab for unconventional oil sources, but it really doesn't get the world economy pumping like that easy oil did.

How much stimulus will be needed to spur growth when crude begins to decline from its current plateau 2% a year?

I think question should be how we live without growth,not how we spur growth. Lack of growth is not a crisis but an opportunity. Current paradigm doesn't admit possibility that growth is coming to an end or should come to an end.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! A day without Drumbeat, is a day without sunshine overcast skies.

Yes, I suddenly realized how serious my addiction to the site was as I kept checking to see if it was up yet last night and this morning.

Glad to see it up and running again, and thanks to all who keep it that way.

Yes, Thank you from me too.

Like dohboi, I must now acknowledge that I have a problem as well.

In full agreement with you.TOD is addictive.Are we safe or are we targets for "war on drugs"? :-)

Like dohboi, I must now acknowledge that I have a problem as well.

Just held my breath it would come back, and also realised once it did come back just how addicted I was too. Not a twitter or facebook person, just give me some of that Drumbeat stuff.

"Limping along" is the operational word.

We're still working on it.

Seriously. Thanks to everyone who maintains this site.
I was wandering from one blog to next while TOD was blocked looking for interesting things to read. Didn't find anything, kept checking every two hours or so.

I think this has really become a kind of an online equivalent of a therapy club for people, esp the ones who find it hard to talk about systemic issues in the world with their friends and family. I for one find it suffocating talking about the latest iPod/iPad features and how many 'reward' points one particular credit card provides.

Feds, 5 states to push for Great Lakes wind farms

(AP) -- The Obama administration and five states have reached an agreement to speed up approval of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes, which have been delayed by cost concerns and public opposition.

... Administration officials said the region's offshore winds could generate more than 700 gigawatts - one-fifth of all potential wind energy nationwide.

Leanan, please delete this if you think it is in not appropriate.

As many of you know, it is my hobby to write software that does something useful and give it away for free.

A few months ago I had written about www.delighta.com which allows you enter data in a spreadsheet from multiple phones via SMS (it also does many other things).

Now the Goyus (free) application is ready for download from www.goyus.com. It will automatically find your photos, videos and documents and back them up to Google Picasa and Google Docs. It runs automatically every day and performs incremental backups. You can also upload entire albums to Facebook or YouTube if you want. In the next version I will support music backup.

If you want to buy extra storage from Google, it is dirt cheap. Just $5/year gets you 20 GB! I have provided a button in the app that takes you to the Google page where you can buy extra storage from Google.

So have fun with Goyus and send me your feedback, suggestions, etc at support at goyus dot com.

As many of you know, it is my hobby to write software that does something useful and give it away for free.

If you have not already, perhaps post an announcement about it at Freecode.

Cairn to keep Greenland and look elsewhere

Cairn Energy has vowed to continue drilling for oil off Greenland, but says it will try to rebalance the risk by acquiring new, safer assets elsewhere.

The British company has spent USD 1.2 billion in unsuccessful exploration off the coast of Greenland so far, with a pre-tax loss for ongoing projects last year standing at USD 1.9 billion after it was charged USD 943 million for the failed drilling

from the link above: The Real Problem is Not Too Little Oil, But Too Much

is counterpunch some kind of onion type magazine or what. the writer ( "George Wuerthner is an ecologist. He is currently working on a book about energy.") says usa has vast reserves (more than trillion barrels of which around 400 billion "easy") but the reference he himself cites says that proven reserves are just 22 billion


CounterPunch is a strange breed of cat. Some good left-of-center analysis, and some good environmental reporting, but it often devolves into mindless polemic.

The founder/main editor is a staunch denier of climate change - thinks it's some sort of capitalist conspiracy. So it doesn't surprise me that he publishes a PO-denial article. I think he just likes being contrarian.

I mostly read it (when I do, which is less often these days) for entertainment.

Have never read Counterpunch but this particular article is rather breathtaking in it's muddled thinking. Many on TOD talk about how so many people just do not get peak oil because they seem to be unable to separate rates (oil extraction) and stocks (reserves) -and in effect treat them as the same thing. Not to mention the major differences between oil-in-place and actual proven plus probable reserves.

Having said that I recommend everyone read this article - which makes all of those mistakes repeatedly. In all of his discourse about our vast reserves I don't think he ever once mentions production rates as an issue. His basic starting point is - if oil is out there in any form - we will figure out how to get it at high rates. Problem solved - except he does not even know what the problem is.

And his treatment of Hubbert's ideas is laughable. He seems to be trying to assert that Hubbert was completely wrong about the USA peak. Interesting - I thought there was wide acceptance that the USA did peak.

I welcome the views of ecology into peak oil discussions, because peak oil is an ecological issue - and it was great to hear William Catton at our last ASPO-USA meeting - but have a hard time believing this writer is an ecologist.

I've noticed that CounterPunch seems to delight in publishing semi-technical articles by authors who really don't have a clue. The politics drives the conclusions. It is good for a laugh once in a while, but I have to watch my blood pressure these days, so sometimes I need to stop reading it :-)

The counterpunch article is interesting but the author somewhat ignores the impact of these trends:

1. depletion rates of current fields
2. the rising costs of the "new oil" and its impact on the economy
3. flow rates

On the other hand, the basic premise of the article is that we may have too much oil left, thus crashing the environment- and this is unfortunately a real possibility (though many would say the horse has already left)

I confess to having just scanned the article, at first thinking that it was just another denialist rant. But further down in the article he mentioned something that has been in the back of my mind for a long time. Perhaps the peaking of US production in 1970 was more related to the low cost of middle east oil than to the actual depletion of domestic reserves. And that actually makes sense and deserves some thought in these regions.

He also "debunks" the notion that the flattening of world production after the price explosion of 2008-ish by saying that in today's world it really does take longer than that to ramp up new production. That is very credible given the loss of the large,easy-to-find fields. And we are now seeing, at least in the US, an increase in production. How that increase will manifest itself over the next few years and the ramifications it has for both the US economy directly and the interaction between the economy and the middle east is, to me, an important topic.

So I don't think the article is just another cornucopian rant but it does have some interesting points that I need to dig into as I free up some more time.

I admit that the author is ignoring some of the numbers that a thorough analysis would produce. For example, yes production is finally ramping up but will the cost of production stay high enough to limit the demand for that oil and can the economy bear the cost?

jj – “Perhaps the peaking of US production in 1970 was more related to the low cost of middle east oil than to the actual depletion of domestic reserves.” Sorry friend…time for a little fact checking. First, the price of oil prior to 1970 was lower than today…but not cheap. And the price of oil wasn’t controlled by Middle East but by the Texas Rail Road Commission. The TRRC, the oil/NG regulators, used the “allowable” system to control the price of oil. Every month they set the percentage of oil production capability every well in Texas could deliver. If my well had the ability to flow 600 bopd and the allowable was 50% I could only produce 300 bopd for that month. Yes: the TRRC was the OPEC of that time. And the motive of the TRRC was the same as OPEC: maintain high enough oil price to max cash flow and maintain incentives for drilling new wells.

But by the early 70’s the TRRC lost control of the situation. ME exporters had gained more control of pricing due to oil peaking in the US. As domestic production peaked the TRRC set the allowable at 100% where it has remained ever since. BTW: that law still exists. The TRRC still sets the allowable every month. If for whatever unimaginable reason they want to reduce production from our wells next month they simple set the allowable under 100%.

A lack of incentives to explore for oil after 1970? I guessing you weren’t an adult in the late 70’s when the ME embargo caused US oil prices to spike at a level beyond the TRRC’s wildest dreams. I began my career in 1975…I was right in the middle of the resultant drilling boom in the US. Some folks think we have a drilling boom now but it doesn’t come close to activity back then. Today, with most oils over $100 per bbl, there are around 2,200 rigs drilling in the US. Around 1979 the US rig count exceeded 4,600. Yes…more than twice drilling as we have today. And the “theory” is that low cost ME reduced the incentive for domestic drilling and that’s why US companies didn’t have economic justification to drill for oil? That was true in 1986 when the KSA flooded the market and knocked the price of oil down about 70%.

An even more enlightening aspect of the late 70’s drilling boom: why didn’t US oil production rise above the 1970 peak as a result of the highest rig count every seen in this country? Easy answer: many of those rigs were drilling prospects that had little chance of success. Not just my opinion: just look at the fact that we never regained the max domestic oil production rate. This drilling boom was THE most ineffective effort ever seen in the US oil patch IMHO.

Thanks to high oil prices we’ve had a flattening of US oil decline in recent years. The boom in drilling the oil rich fractured shales has been one factor but these are not new plays. I drilled and frac’d my first Eagle Ford well over 25 years ago. We’ve always known those shales could produce oil but the oil price wasn’t high enough to develop them to any significant level. But this trend can only continue as long as prices stay high. If domestic oil prices drop significantly these plays will die…just as what happened to the shale gas plays when NG prices fell back in 2008. So what if that were to happen in the oil shale plays? We’ll just coast along on those existing wells, right? Not exactly. Typical decline rates in these plays ranges from 50% to 90% during the FIRST 12 MONTHS OF WELL LIFE. I once debated an Eagle Ford cornucopian touting a new EF well that began producing over 950 bopd. The public company that drilled the well put out press releases bragging how much oil this well would eventually recover. Unfortunately for him I have access to oil production from that well. Yes, the well started out around 950 bopd…And during the 13th month of production it was producing 90 bopd. I haven’t pulled up production on this 3 year old well but it probably is down around 40 bopd now. Not much of a coast, eh? And no: the company that drilled the well didn't put out a press release noting the 90%+ decline in one year.

The Deep Water fields in the GOM have had a significant impact on domestic production rates during the last 10 years and will continue to do so despite the recent slow down as a result of the Macondo blow out. But individual fields are not long term (7 to 10 years) game changers. Most of these fields will be greatly depleted within 5 to 7 years of their initial production date. Just the nature of Deep Water economics: the wells are designed for max rate and not max recovery.

During the last 3 years my company has spent over $300 million drilling in the most prolific oil trends in the US: Texas and La. And we drilled almost exclusive for NG. Most of our prospects today are targeting NG today despite the low prices though I’m not sure how much more drilling our owner can justify. We’re privately owned so we don’t have the same incentive as the public companies have to develop the shale plays: their “profits” are mostly generated by higher stock prices and not from the actual oil production.

And finally, as I’ve mentioned before, in 1975 my first mentor at Mobil Oil sat me down and explained the PO situation that lay ahead of me. We didn’t call it PO than nor do we now. It has always been the “oil replacement problem”. Or the simple fact that we had already drilled most of the viable oil prospects in the US and there weren’t enough left to develop to change that dynamic. Even with high current oil prices and the shale and Deep Water activity I don’t see any possibility of reaching domestic oil production rates of 40 years ago. As long as oil prices stay high we’ll keep drilling shale and DW wells. Until all those prospects are drilled up. That’s the problem all cornucopians refuse to acknowledge: all those plays that have helped to stop our oil production decline have a finite limit of locations to drill. Regardless of the price of oil.

Great, great post, ROCKMAN. Quite elegant, actually. Your post is more informative than most - if not all - of the oil news features in the MSM. I will certainly share this!

I would echo what Rockman said. Like him, I was working in the oil industry (albeit the Canadian oil industry) when US (and Canadian) conventional oil production peaked in the early 1970's.

I remember the look on the faces of the old-timers when they drilled up their best prospects, the ones they said they couldn't afford to drill because of the low price of imported oil. When the price of imported oil quadrupled in the 1970's, they drilled them, and found there was no oil there. It was a crushing blow for them and their companies lost a lot of money on it. Many of the companies no longer exist.

The document, Undeveloped Domestic Oil Resources: The Foundation For Increasing Oil Production and a Viable Domestic Oil Industry is wildly overoptimistic. It confuses the issue of what "technically recoverable" oil is - "technically recoverable" means oil recoverable using available technology irrespective of whether it is economic or not. What this article is doing is counting oil that is unrecoverable using any known technology.

It is like saying we could get to Alpha Centauri in four hours if only we had a warp drive. Well, 1) we don't have a warp drive and, 2) it is theoretically impossible under Einstein's Theory of Relativity to build one. However it is a nice sci-fi theme, much better than watching the crew play cards for four years while the spaceship gets to its destination using theoretically possible but currently unknown technology.

As far as the technology they talk about is concerned, I've been involved in projects that have used most of those methods, and while they can provide a nice incremental increase in production at higher cost than conventional methods, they can not provide the incremental production increases that the paper assumes. CO2 flood, for instance, is widely used in Texas, but that is because there are huge CO2 gas fields close to the oil fields in Texas and nearby states. If you don't have huge supplies of cheap CO2 available, which is the case in most other places in the world, you can't do CO2 flood except at enormous costs in both money and energy.

The thing that will ultimately kill these EOR ideas that they are talking about is that fact that in most cases the ERoEI is less than 1. They would have to use more energy to produce the oil than is contained in the oil produced, which renders them completely pointless.

As Rockman often says, the oil industry does not use ERoEI to evaluate projects, it uses indicators like Net Present Value (NPV) to determine the viability.

However, a basic rule-of-thumb is that if the ERoEI is less than one, then the NPV will be less than zero under all conceivable scenarios, which is to say you will always lose money doing the project. It doesn't matter what the current or future price of oil is because the input costs will always increase as fast or faster than the revenues. It's like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No matter how fast you run, the end of the rainbow is always out of reach.

RMG, I want to poke a bit at your claim the for ERoEI less than 1, NPV will be less than one.

I don't know the math behind NPV, but I can certainly imagine situations where the economics could support converting electricity or coal or natural gas into liquid fuel even if there was a net energy loss because of the value-added of being able to store and consume the energy in liquid form. Some consumers, I posit, will be able to afford the loss in total energy in order to purchase the convenience of liquid fuel.

Net Present Value

In finance, the net present value (NPV) or net present worth (NPW) of a time series of cash flows, both incoming and outgoing, is defined as the sum of the present values (PVs) of the individual cash flows of the same entity.

Given the (period, cash flow) pairs (t, Rt) where n is a positive integer and the total number of periods N, the net present value NPV is given by:

The NPV will always be negative for a project that tries to turn electricity into oil.

The only cases where CTL plants have been built have been in cases such as South Africa during apartheid, when the country was under an oil embargo, or Germany and Japan during WWII when their oil supplies were interrupted by Allied aircraft and warships.

If the price of coal or natural gas is very low compared to oil, a coal-to-liquid or gas-to-liquid plant may have a positive NPV.

For normal peacetime civilian use, it is more efficient to burn the coal or gas directly to generate electricity and/or heat. Those projects will have a higher NPV than the CTL or GTL processes, and the higher ERoEI of them is an underlying reason.

Governments often try to ignore the realities of the NPV calculation when making decisions, but in the world of rational economics, they end up losing money on projects with a negative NPV, regardless of the rhetoric they use to support their decisions. The taxpayer gets stuck with the bill in the end.

....the realities of the NPV calculation

NPV calculations amount to a series of assumptions, realizations vary.

Saudi Aramco claims they base decisions on maximizing recovery. Simmons couldn't seem to grasp that concept. See slide 57:


You could get to Alpha Centauri in 4 hours (for you) if you could find a way to survive the acceleration and an energy source to power it. Light gets there in no time at all (for light). Its just people on earth that would see 4 years pass while you got there. If I remember it right its a decade or so for you to get there and back at a 1g acceleration but several centuries pass on earth. Not much SF takes time dilation seriously because it wrecks plot development if the folks back home have a couple of centuries pass while the hero is off for an afternoon saving the galaxy so that part of relativity is generally completely ignored. Speaker for the Dead is the only one I can recall reading.

Mr Rock:

Thank you for spending the time to write these sorts of entries. As a vigorous consumer of aviation gasoline/kerosene I now know it doesn't come out of a truck.

Somehow your story is more fact filled & believable than the MSM version. I presume your desk faces the door so when your underlings (or superiors!) enter it looks like you're madly typing an important oilfield document.

On the other hand I still have no proof that you and RMG are not actually the same 20 year old girl working for, say, ARAMCO PR.


"Mr. Rock" rules his Empire from a Kia and a laptop. I don't think he cares who's looking over his shoulder (unless his daughter's in the backseat ;-)

That's true, I could really be a 20-year old female PR employee of Aramco, wearing a veil and typing away in a skyscraper in downtown Riyadh, rather than what I claim to be, a 64-year old, balding, grey-bearded retired oil industry business analyst, sitting with a laptop in a leather easy chair in an open-beamed cedar house, looking out at a panoramic view of the Canadian Rockies.

You never really know for sure, do you?

I like to keep it that way. I don't like people snooping around and disturbing the grizzly bears behind the house. There's nothing worse than a disturbed grizzly bear, particularly when they come out of their winter dens all hungry and mean this time of year.

As Nate Hagens said about a year ago: "Leanan could be Dick Cheney for all I know".

"There's nothing worse..."

Perhaps. Perhaps...


Bryan - You're welcome. Actually my posting doesn't interfere much with work. I'm there from 6 AM (ops start early) and shove off around 5 PM. And I spend 90% of my time looking at a computer monitor so it's easy to bounce in and out of TOD. And when I'm on a well site I spend at least half the time sitting and waiting but usually have the net available. And when I get home I'm fairly sedentary due to my bad knees and multiple sclerosis. So I spend evenings in my lounge chair alternately watching TV, amusing my wife and two miniature Schnauzers and surfing TOD. Basically TOD is my R&R time and am thankful for it.

Addtionally I'm sitting in west Africa at the moment with way too much dead time. So I can sit here and post on TOD a much as I like while I watch the mosquitos land on my arm while I wonder how well my yellow fever vaccine is working. LOL.

If they are both the same 20 y.o. I would happily pay any 20 y.o. bright enough to fake the the two of them double what he/she's making.

Thanks for the thoughtful response Rock.

I was actually thinking of the situation before the 1970 peak, not later. Was KSA production ramping up rapidly in the sixties? If so it doesn't matter whether the domestics prospects drilled in the seventies turned out to be junk, but whether the drillers gave them up prematurely before 1970 due to price competition from overseas.

Also I do understand the role of the TRRC but I don't know what effect they had during that period on production outside of Texas. I checked the EIA website but their data only goes back to 1977 at which time Texas was producing about 1/3 of total US output. Very credible that TRRC could have a major impact nation wide.

"A lack of incentives to explore for oil after 1970?" I'm not clear what that was in response to. But I do remember the oil embargo of 1973 and the Iranian mishap of 1979. It was clear to me at that time that we were not going to produce our way out of the mess. Although I do think that the arrival of North Sea and Alaska production is what gave us a respite. (Also I'm pretty sure I'm older than you but have learned most of what I know today about the innards of the oil industry from you and your peers at this site!)

I didn't mean to imply that we could drill out way to "energy independence" with the work going on today. Rather I wondered where the effects were going to land as the confluence of reduced consumption, increased production (albeit small) and higher prices happen. I don't think that the rate of change of these issues is slowing down. My real question was how these changes were going to affect not only our economy but our relationships with countries like KSA and Venezuela.

the price of oil prior to 1970 was lower than today…but not cheap.

IIRC, the price of US oil up to 1970 was controlled at about $4.50 per barrel, or about $20 in today's dollars. After the 1973 shock the price cap went up to around....$5.50.

There was a brief period when US oil was expensive from about 1979 to 1985, but that's a mighty short period in which to ramp up oil production.

"Throughout much of the twentieth century, the price of U.S. petroleum was heavily regulated through production or price controls. In the post World War II era, U.S. oil prices at the wellhead averaged $28.52 per barrel adjusted for inflation to 2010 dollars. In the absence of price controls, the U.S. price would have tracked the world price averaging near $30.54. Over the same post war period, the median for the domestic and the adjusted world price of crude oil was $20.53 in 2010 prices. Adjusted for inflation, from 1947 to 2010 oil prices only exceeded $20.53 per barrel 50 percent of the time. (See note in the box on right.)

Until March 28, 2000 when OPEC adopted the $22-$28 price band for the OPEC basket of crude, real oil prices only exceeded $30.00 per barrel in response to war or conflict in the Middle East. With limited spare production capacity, OPEC abandoned its price band in 2005 and was powerless to stem a surge in oil prices, which was reminiscent of the late 1970s."



Around 1979 the US rig count exceeded 4,600. Yes…more than twice drilling as we have today.... many of those rigs were drilling prospects that had little chance of success.

What was the percentage of dry holes? What's the comparable percentage now?

We’ve always known those shales could produce oil but the oil price wasn’t high enough to develop them to any significant level.

So, you're really agreeing that a much higher price makes all the difference??

There is also a well known curve for distribution of minerals as measured per foot of drilling

It's more of a lognormal distribution than the exponential shown here, but the end result is the same. Sure, you may get outliers, but nothing that will fundamentally change the direction of the curve. The simple, sad fact is that in mature regions more drilling will not produce more oil than was discovered before.


Starvation linked to greater risk of cardiac complications

In abstract P190 investigators from the Almazov Federal Heart, Blood and Endocrinology Centre, St Petersburg, Russian Federation, studied the telomere length of survivors from the siege of Leningrad (1941 to 1944), which was responsible for citizens being subjected to some of the most extreme levels of starvation known in history ¹.

"For workers the bread ration was 250g, which amounted to just 300 calories, with around half that for the rest of the population," said Olga Freylikhman, one of the study investigators. The diet, she added, contained virtually no protein. By the end of the siege out of a population of 2.9 million, including 0.5 million children, over 630,000 people had died from hunger related causes.

yet here in the states people are putting out research that calorie limited diets of 25% or so restrictions will increase your life span..
so who to believe..

Actually, neither of them.

The first "myth" that moderns need to dispel is the notion of living forever. An absurdity if there ever was one. The second is that of fiat money, that it has any value whatsoever.

If we dispel these myths, we have a fighting chance.

Long morphine and gold.

Hadn't thought of that ...

The man with the most morphine will be King ...

I'm reminded of "Children of Men" where a suicide drug called Quietus is taken by those who want to go ahead and pass away painlessly ...

Apparently, however, the book depicts a drowning ceremony, or Quietus.

In the real world, demand for fatal doses of morphine will be high (sigh).

The Dutch are ahead of us ...

Dutch pensioner's decision: when to die with dignity

With a deadly dose of barbiturates stashed in his home in a small eastern Dutch town, pensioner Hans Hillebrand is a "self-determinist": he alone wants to decide when it's time to die with dignity.

... the day he loses his independence and the ability to participate in village life will be the day to consider "going away." "I shall be the director of my own final scene," he said.

Hillebrand is one of a growing number of aging Dutch people who prefer to make their own decisions about when and where to die -- and in a dignified way.

We've been revising our diet in recent years, and I generally don't consider most bread food anymore. Carbs are carbs, and all.. but it's sort of like those who look at FAR too many things only in terms of money in or money out.

And then there's the classics.. 'Man cannot live by bread alone..'

Don't say nobody warned you!


This is weird, starvation(low diet) causes a lot of problems, principle among them a weak immune system, but it actually improves your long term health and that of your kids, there have been several research papers on this. I distinctly remember a research which shows that eating less can increase lifespan, and you even get to pass it on to your kids.

Here it is

This was done in Sweden. And I have personal anecdotal evidence with regards to this.

Corn, Wheat, Soybeans Surge, Renewing Food-Inflation Concerns

Corn prices surged the most in 21 months, and wheat and soybean jumped after forecasts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture signaled tighter crop supplies, renewing concerns that food inflation will quicken.

"There is no question we will see higher food prices this year," ... “You have to see prices go up to stimulate global production and ration declining supplies,”

Tightening grain supplies increase costs for makers of corn-based ethanol such as Archer Daniels Midland Co. and for meat companies including Smithfield Foods Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc.

and U.S. farmers to plant most corn in 75 years

This guy couldn't have gotten it more wrong. The ethanol pushers are the Yergins of the corn world. I am guessing we are going to see a strong decrease in ethanol production this summer and that will put a lot of pressure on gasoline prices.

Cattle and ethanol face unique challenges when it comes to corn

“When the new USDA planting intentions come out, I believe the price of corn will lower. The pricing right now is based on speculation. The inventory that is there doesn't justify the high prices we are seeing,” said Todd Sneller, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

That's odd. Exports back then explains a bit, but US farmer's planted more corn in 1937 for nearly a third the current population?

Consider the enormous difference in yield.

Arg, of course, thanks.

All of the headlines scream about the increase in corn acres planted, no ones mentions the other crops. In 1998, we were growing more crops.

U.S. farmers to plant the most corn in 75 years

Another year of full-throttle output is on the horizon. USDA estimates growers will plant the largest area to the eight major field crops -- corn, wheat, rice, cotton, soybeans, sorghum, barley and oats -- since 1998 and up 2 percent from 2011.

Not even considering peak other resources and climate change, doomers like myself could still hang our hats on yields and population growth like true Malthusians.

Corn yield growth slowing -- Rabobank

Rabobank added that farmers may have reached their limit, at least temporarily, on how many corn plants per acre they can plant. Increased plants-per-acre have been a key driver of yield growth, the bank said.

Meanwhile, seed companies have "few yield game changers" on the horizon, the bank said.

Why the Right's Zombie Lie About Gas Prices Is Wrong But They'll Never Let it Die

... A study published recently in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin appears to confirm that view. Researchers found that “low-effort” thinking and snap judgements were associated with more conservative views. In one experiment, participants – both liberals and conservatives -- given alcohol were found to respond to questions more conservatively than when sober. In another, respondents were given limted time to work through an issue, and in a third, subjects were asked to examine “political terms in a cursory manner.” The authors concluded that, taken together, the “data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.”

Conservatives,” says Mooney, “tend to like ideas that make sense in a way that doesn't require you to think things through much. So, we've got oil, why don't we use it? It's right there under the ground.” That oil is traded on a global market that's heavily influenced by speculation is not a simple “bumper-sticker” story.

Very interesting.

I've been meandering my way through the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, which as you can guess from the title, touches on this concept. People also revert to "fast thinking" when their slower, more deliberated "brain" is overtaxed. Perhaps the multi-tasking pressures and demands of modern society are partially responsible for the seeming rise in acceptance of radically conservative ideas.

i'm about halfway through. Also picked up "Who's in charge? Free will and the science of the brain" by Michael Gazzaniga.


Rise? With respect ideas actually put into policy in the US, it must be seen that progressive ideas are on the rise: successful passage of a federal health program, a large Keynesian stimulus, large regulatory frameworks for finance, reduction of oil drilling on federal land/water, social welfare programs (Medicare, Medicaid, SS, unemployment, food stamps) are allowed to grow seemingly without bound.

I understand this is your opinion, but stating 'seemingly without bound' seems hyperbolic.

... stating 'seemingly without bound' seems hyperbolic.

Is it?

US federal and state government health spending per capita, constant dollars (i.e mostly Medicare, Medicaid), making up ~40% of all health spending in the US.


To be fair, most of the government health care spending is on people that the private insurance companies won't cover because they are either already sick or so old that they have a high risk of getting sick.

Are you aware of some historical evidence that supports that view? As it is now, everyone in the US is covered by Medicare over 65, so what the insurers might or might do is a counter factual.

What the private insurers will or won't do is irrelevant to the *current* cost structure.

Additionally, people under 65 who end up on Medicare do so due to disabilities: pre-existing conditions that private insurers will not cover as of today.

No historical evidence needed.

The theory that "most of the government health care spending is on people that the private insurance companies won't cover" does not explain the twelve-fold increase in per capita, constant dollar, government healthcare spending since Medicare's inception in '65.

Medicare spending on the disabled is about 10% of total Medicare spending.

I hypothesize that more medical technology, more people over 65, and private medical profits will suffice to cover the rest.

That money doesn't just disappear into a vacuum, one person's expense is always another's profit.

That money doesn't just disappear into a vacuum,

Right, it goes somewhere. The relevant distinction is whether the money is largely wasted or spent efficiently to allocate resources and enhance productivity.

one person's expense is always another's profit.

If the transaction is free and informed, then both parties profit.

For a transaction to be free, opting to not engage in the transaction must be a reasonable option.

Not to engage with a *particular provider* must be a reasonable option, i.e. competition must exist. There are any number of goods that we all must have at some time or another - food, shelter, energy, and medical services - for which we there are such opportunities. Though I admit, under the current health care system, the options are being reduced, mainly due to government interference.

The ambulance rule is "closest provider".

It's a pretty theory you've got there, shame reality doesn't match it.

Healthcare reform was reduced to a Cato proposed scheme, and is now in danger of being declared unconstitutional by a ludicrously partisan Supreme Court which appears ready to stand a century of precedent on its head.

The stimulus was undersized due to conservative influence, and heavily weighted toward low-multiplier tax cuts due to conservative influence.

Financial regulations are still weaker than at any time between the Great Depression and the mid-90's. Bankruptcy law is more reactionary than at any time since the founding of the republic. Debtor's prison has returned in practice.

Drilling is at the highest levels in almost 30 years.

Unemployment INSURANCE benefits have been under attack at the state level (FL is denying a majority of applications, for instance), and were recently reduced in duration at the federal level.

Social Security INSURANCE full retirement age has risen to 66 and is slated to rise to 67.

The percentage of the population covered by Medicare and Medicaid is rising slower than the percentage no longer receiving federally subsidized health insurance thru employers.

Drilling is at the highest levels in almost 30 years.

Yep, overall, but not in federally owned areas. If we are looking for evidence of ascendancy of this, or that, government policy it seems to me that is the metric to observe:


Is there a matching 'Drilling permits applied for'?


Good point, though I can not imagine why permit *applications* would be down this much (three years after Deep Water Horizon) with the current and future expected high prices. All the BLM statistics are here, but I see nothing on permit applications. If we did find applications, that would be instructive but not conclusive in the sense that "its not BLM's fault", since IF applications were down, that might be because industry knows the permitting process is a waste of time and money (since ~2009) with a rejection very likely.

Would be interesting to see applied vs approved as a vector with time as the Z.


Let me break them down:

successful passage of a federal health program
Major compromises to squeek it through the political system -may not survive our corporate freidly supreme court.

a large Keynesian stimulus
Only got about half the needed size, -again due to the political ned to compromise, and even there much of it had to be changed to ineffective tax breaks.

large regulatory frameworks for finance
Only a few minor regs, the financial system is as free to gamble with "or" money as ever.

reduction of oil drilling on federal land/water
Lots of new leases,

social welfare programs (Medicare, Medicaid, SS, unemployment, food stamps) are allowed to grow seemingly without bound.
I dunno, The meme that the entire underclass are undeserving parasites seems to have taken hold.

Interestingly, the individual mandate has enjoyed significant Republican support previously:

Heck, there are Republicans supporting the individual mandata right now:

March 26 – Republicans For Mandating Coverage (RMC) — a 51-member coalition representing Republicans who supported a federal health care mandate before President Barack Obama endorsed it — urged the Supreme Court on Monday to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

'Republicans For Mandating Coverage’ believes that this is an “American principle” — a principle of “personal responsibility” — that can be constitutionally enforced by the federal government.

Frmr. Gov. Mitt Romney (MA) | Frmr. Rep. Newt Gingrich (GA) | Frmr. Gov. Tim Pawlenty | Frmr. Sen. Bob Bennett (UT) | Frmr. Sen. Chris Bond (MO) | Frmr. Sen. William Cohen (ME) | Frmr. Sen. John Danforth (MO) | Frmr. Sen. Bob Dole (KS) | Frmr. Sen. Pete Domenici (NM) | Frmr. Sen. David Durenberger (MN) | Frmr. Sen. Duncan Faircloth (NC) | Frmr. Sen. Slade Gorton (WA) | Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) | Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT) | Frmr. Sen. Mark Hatfield (OR) | Frmr. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (KS) | Sen. Dick Richard Lugar (IN) | Frmr. Sen. Alan Simpson (WY) | Frmr. Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) | Frmr. Sen. Ted Stevens (AK) | Frmr. Sen. John Warner (VA) | Frmr. Sen. Hank Brown (CO) | Frmr. Sen. Conrad Burns (MT) | Sen. Dan Coats (IN) | Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) | Frmr. Sen. Paul Coverdell (GA) | Frmr. Sen. Larry Craig (ID) | Frmr. Sen. Judd Gregg (NH) | Frmr. Sen. Jesse Helms (NC) | Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) | Frmr. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (ID) | Frmr. Sen. Trent Lott (MS) | Rep. Connie Mack (FL) | Frmr. Sen. Frank Murkowski (AK) | Frmr. Sen. Bob Smith (NH) | Frmr. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) | Frmr. Sen. Malcolm Wallop (WY) | Frmr. Sen. Don Nickles (OK) | Rep. Cliff Stearns (FL) | Frmr. Rep. Jim (LA) | Frmr. Vice President Dan Quayle (IN) | Sen. John McCain (AZ) | Sen. Scott Scott Brown (MA) | Frmr. Gov. Tommy Thompson (WI) | Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) | Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) | Sen. Mike Crapo (ID) | Frmr. President George H.W. Bush | Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) | Frmr. Sen. John Chafee (RI) | Sen. Jim DeMint (SC)

All notable communists and Obama supporters...

Republican support for individual heath insurance (personal responsibility) mandates back at least through the Clinton first term:




But hey, the individual health insurance mandate was concocted to fend off the evil European-style socialism (that includes you, Canada!) government single-payer system, which has filed miserably by providing many other countries health care outcomes which are better than achieved in the current (pre-ACA) health care system (or post-ACA for that matter I bet), for considerably less cost per capita than we spend on health care in the U.S.

The United States has the most expensive healthcare system on the planet. Even including the 47 million uninsured, the U.S. healthcare system costs almost double per capita what single-payer systems in Europe, Japan and Canada cost; in the United States, healthcare costs were $5,635 per person in 2005.

By contrast, in Japan, with life expectancy 4.6 years more than the United States (presumably a cost-increasing factor), healthcare costs were $2,139 per person; in the United Kingdom, $2,232; Sweden (the ultimate "welfare state"), $2,520; France, $2,903; and, Canada, $3,001.
And, this is not just an individual problem; this is a national problem. Healthcare system costs in the United States are 16 percent of GNP (and currently increasing 14 percent per year); no other country in the world has healthcare costs which exceed 11 percent of GNP and the average among developed nations is 9 percent. As noted above, these high costs are making the U.S. uncompetitive in many areas.

Why is the U.S. healthcare system so expensive? Administrative costs, marketing and profits account for 22 to 31 percent of the U.S. healthcare dollar (I recently heard Edward Kennedy say these costs were 33 percent, but I have not seen documentation of that number). By contrast, overhead costs in single-payer systems (including Medicare) typically are 3 percent.


The U.S. defends its right to its people's deaths to be somewhere around 37th best in the World in health care outcomes while spending ~17% of its GNP, compared to rarely more than 11% GNP for the countries with better health care outcomes than us...go U.S. employer-provided, health insurance company-run healthcare!

With declining resources and an increasing population, we in the U.S. can no longer afford the luxury of being so profoundly stupid. U-S-A...U-S-A...


Interesting how you seem blind to the obscene expenditures for the U.S> Military Industrial Complex, say, from the end of WWII and on.

I guess the U.S. military (and all the intelligence agencies, and the military support functions of the DOE, etc.) get the carte blanche....every last cent every spent, or planned to be spent, is 100% crucial and completely justified...no phantom menaces, no big daddy warbucks, no inefficiencies to be seen.


"That oil is traded on a global market that's heavily influenced by speculation is not a simple “bumper-sticker” story."

The speculation meme is getting traction lately.

Ex Senator Byron Dorgan is promoting a new fiction book, centered on oil speculation.

The GOP attacks gov regs and drilling, whereas many Democrats hit the financial types and speculation. There was a GOP Representative from MD who used to sound the PO alarm, but now he's about drowned out on the hill.

Methinks the Senator should stick to fiction - his grasp of reality is scetchy.

"The speculation meme is getting traction lately."

There has also been a lot of discussion here on TOD about whether the futures market can influence the physical oil market. Most of the posters lean towards that it can't. Although it might be correct that it can't directly influence it, the indirect effects of human psychology haven't really been discussed imho. I have no way of estimating the effect size (if any) but I think the following scenarios are at least conceivable:

On the demand side:

Let's say the widely reported futures were at 10$, but the physical supplier would want 120$. At that point a physical oil buyer might say: "What a rip off. I'll never pay that price they want to charge me 110$ more than what it should be. I'll rather not drive/use oil than be treated that unfairly!!" On the other hand if the futures price says 230$ and the physical price is at 120$ the buyer might say: "Wow, what a bargain, if oil is that cheap, I might as well drive to B as well." So as long as people believe the futures market reflects the "correct price of oil" it will influence them what they are willing to pay for it and thus the physical market will tend towards the futures market.

In a different scenario, an airline oil manager might read "The futures market is constantly going up in leaps and bounds as due to peak oil the demand is outstripping supply" At that point they might buy the futures contract at 200$ for delivery in 3 months as they think it is a bargain as if they wait it might be 250$ on the spot market. So again the futures market effected the price someone is willing to pay for physical delivery and thus influencing the physical price of oil.

On the supply side due to human psychology it can also effect things.
Normally in a well working market with many players, there is a decent elasticity and the price will balance itself out with respect to supply and demand. But if there is now a cartel and everyone agrees that they won't sell any oil below 130$ then the price will be at least 130$ as there is no price elasticity below that point.

The futures market has imho an ability to induce an implicit (soft) cartel. If the producers believe the futures market reflects "the true price of oil", then if a buyer comes along and wants to buy e.g. for 100$, then every seller might say: "But the futures market tells me every one else is getting 130$ for their oil, I won't sell it to you for 100$ you wont be able to get it that cheap anywhere else either." At which point it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Again, this pushes the price of the physical market towards the futures market.

On top of those indirect influences, if I understand it correctly, some physical contracts have clauses like "The oil will be sold at a price of Brent oil futures price +- xxx$ due to difference in quality of oil from Brent" If that is the case, then future prices can obviously directly influence the physical market.

So all together, I would assume the speculator driven futures market does have some ability to drive prices on the physical market (at least on the short to medium term), although I have no estimate of how strong that effect currently is or can be.

Apmom – I won’t dive too deeply into the futures discussion since my end of the oil/NG production system is far removed from it. But I have picked up some good info on TOD from folks who actually worked in the future markets. The one fact that always catches my eye is that the total amount of oil volume that traded ON PAPER with future contracts is on the order of 100 times greater than the amount of oil produced in the entire world. IOW there are literally billions of bbls of oil traded in the futures market that don’t physically exist…never have…never will. At the end a futures contract period some on the order of 99% of the oil contracted is never delivered: just one futures buyer writes a check to another futures buyer. In fact, as I understand it, they don’t even go through the pretense of buying another futures contract and trading it…they just make a cash settlement.

Now I’ll discuss what I do understand very well. I drill, produce and sell oil/NG for a living. It’s a very simple process when it comes to selling my oil. There are a limited number of buyers. I might get a higher price for my Texas oil if I sold it to a refinery in Germany. And I would if it didn’t cost so much to ship it there. But I don’t sell my Texas oil to a Texas refinery either. I sell my Texas oil to a buyer that barges it to Louisiana where I get Light La. Sweet prices ($120 - $130 per bbl lately) less a transport deduct. Here’s the important take away from my tale: the price I sell my oil is not negotiable. And I’m not the one setting the price…the buyer, the refinery, is setting the price. They post the price and either I accept it or I shut my wells in because my storage tanks are full. And I let my cash flow goes to zero. And my oil wells stay shut in until I sell my oil. How many companies do you think would shut their wells in indefinitely waiting for the refiners to offer a higher price? I think more TODsters can answer that question themselves.

So it’s the US buyers of oil that set the price of oil. So here’s the question folks pushing the speculator angle seem to have trouble answering: exactly how does the futures market induce the refiners to pay more for my oil? The refiner makes their profit margin by recovering their cost of the oil they buy and the cost to refine it. If they pay more for my oil they have to sell their products, such as gasoline, for higher price. But as we’ve seen the higher gasoline prices go folks tend to buy less. The refiners don’t want to let gasoline sit in their storage tanks any more than I want to let my oil it in my tanks. So they have a choice: lower prices and sell more or maintain higher prices and sell less product. Selling less may mean a better profit margin but also lower income. Like any business they strive to find that sweet spot between profit margin per unit and total cash flow.

So there’s the basic question: why would the refinery in La. pay me $124/bbl (what I’ll sell my next load of oil for this week) because folks today bought millions of paper bbl's of oil on 30 day contracts at WTI for $96/bbl? In 4 weeks the spot price for WTI may be $102/bbl (and they make a profit…or $93/bbl (and they lose their ass). Again, how did folks “speculating” (i.e. guessing) what WTI will be selling for on the spot market in one month induce my buyer to pay me $124/bbl for my oil this week? There may be a valid answer to my question. But I still haven’t heard on yet IMHO.

Outstanding information Rockman.

I always assumed the price of oil like yours was a daily negotiation - did not know that the refineries post their price.

At the risk of getting too detailed that leads me to two questions:

1. When they post their price is it a set number (example: $123) or it it formula based off of some benchmark such as Brent?

2. Also does their price reflect the amount of condensate in your crude? Maybe that is formula based.

Thanks for sharing your insights.

TE - I’m probably not the best person to detail oil marketing…I just pick up bits and pieces as I go along. But I’ll describe the contract I sell my Texas oil under. The buyer tested my oil and based upon that detailed analysis developed a formula. I don’t know the details but it goes like this: 0.95 X Benchmark oil price 1 + 0.91 X benchmark oil price 2 + 1.06 benchmark oil price 3. And that result divided by 3 with a deduct of $X per bbl transport to ship it to a La. refinery. So when I said I sell my Texas crude for Light La. Sweet that was just a simplification of the process. But it calculates close to the value. There are several other oil buyers I could sell to and they each generate their own pricing formula. I pick the one that makes me the most. I can change buyers any month I want to but the formulas seldom change enough to do so.

My Texas wells produce NG and condensate. But my condensate is oil. By convention we call it condensate because it condenses out of the NG as the pressure/temp drop when we produce it. By convention crude is that pure liquid phase in the reservoir. You could have two oils with identical compositions and we might call one condensate and the other crude oil. Many oils from condensation are valued more highly than heavy crude oil because of the value of their refinery yields.

And to be complete: natural gas liquids. My Texas wells don’t yield enough to pay for the extraction equipment I would need at the wellhead. So I sell my "wet gas" (NG + NGL) to a gas plant. They pay me for the NG and we split the value of the NGL. I have a well in La. with a high NGL yield so I set that separation equipment at the wellhead and sell the NGL directly to a buyer. Thus I have 3 cash flows from that well: the dry NG (no NGL’s), the NGL’s and the condensate.

This probably is related to the fact that when one is stressed their personal discount rate steepens.

This is why peak oil is so alarming. If we can't even make sound decisions about our future when the going is gentle, we REALLY can't make them when the going gets tough. We are likely to make some pretty rash decisions systemically when the going gets tough.

Example: the agreed-upon solution to get out of the 2007-09 private credit mess was to transfer the burden of debt to the public arena. Now we have the sovereign debt crises stalking the globe. We have central banks printing money like no tomorrow and blowing out their balance sheets to sustain a present that is fundamentally out of tune with biophysical boundaries. Now our financial systems have become addicted to low-interest free money injections, and once they stop the patient dies. Yet, if we continue this policy we are likely to hit a wall too, just later down the line and possibly more spectacularly. This is exactly the kind of near-insane policy I would expect; when the going gets tough our collective decision-making goes down the toilet.

That's interesting. Being time-poor creates a shift to the conservative, and thus to the right. Simple solutions favoured, nuance missed.

It might explain the general rightwards shift over the proceeding few decades. More women out to work, more demands on time -> more right wing.

Peak oil is fairly simple and obvious, but the solutions are not. They take holistic understanding, time, and planning.

It's almost as if you need to catch people when they are not time poor to make decisions when they have time to mull over things (eg on holiday, on the commute, on the plane, on lazy Sundays).

Would also tend to suggest a reversion to a less conservative, less right wing viewpoint if you are out of work.

In one experiment, participants – both liberals and conservatives -- given alcohol were found to respond to questions more conservatively than when sober.

This may well be true, and a lifetime of thorough self-sacrificing research on this very subject leads me to believe it is true. But nevertheless, I am uncomfortable with teetotallers (and their views of the world) ... very uncomfortable.

Let the Million Flowers Bloom

... "Totalitarian systems always begin by rewriting the law. They make legal what was once illegal. Crimes become patriotic acts. The defense of freedom and truth becomes a crime. Foreign and domestic subjugation merges into the same brutal mechanism. Citizens are colonized. And it is always done in the name of national security. We obey the new laws as we obeyed the old laws, as if there was no difference. And we spend our energy and our lives appealing to a dead system."

Garbage Collectors Around the U.S. Trained to Report Suspicious Activity

Several newspapers in southern Florida are reporting that trash collectors are receiving training from their employer Waste Management to work with local law enforcement to report crimes and other suspicious activities.

Waste Watch training sessions are conducted by former FBI agents in association with security representatives from Waste Management.

Oh dear, I am on the suspicious list as I only pay cash when at Walmart :(


America has enough of a libertarian tradition to avoid genuine fascism, but we are already more or less a police state.

Basically you have to try to get yourself through the bottleneck. Police states either collapse or go broke, eventually. It's the "eventually" part that's problematic.

Japan Oil Imports for Power Surge as South Sudan Supply Is Lost

The country imported 1.75 million kiloliters of oil, or about 369,000 barrels a day, for power generation in February, more than four times as much as a year ago, according to data today from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Imports for power generation were up 15 percent from January. February’s purchases for power plants accounted for 9.6 percent of Japan’s total crude imports of 17.76 million kiloliters for the month, according to the trade ministry data.

The increase comes amid a halt in supplies of low-sulfur crude from South Sudan, which is suitable for many oil-fired generators in Japan.

Running their manufacturing base on oil-generated electricity? That has got to hurt their profit margins.

Countdown to chaos: What happens when gas pumps run dry?

“How long would it be before the pumps run dry?”

The answer:

“Unite hopes they don’t — we want to talk to the employers about a fair, negotiated solution.

“But if they refuse to do so, petrol stocks could run dry within 48 hours of a strike beginning.

The oil supply chain, from the extraction of crude oil, to delivery to the forecourt (service station), must run perfectly. Delivery to the retailer is the final link before it is sold on to drivers.

When fuel distribution to forecourts is stopped, it has to be stored in the refineries. But within 3-4 days of strike action, the refineries will reach their capacity to store fuel, which could force oil rigs to stop drilling.”

... Supplies of goods on store shelves would also start dwindling quickly, as the UK’s Industry Task Force on Peak Oil & Energy Security noted in its 2010 report: ...

Businesses must plan for the impact of fuel tanker drivers strike

While a strike would cause all sorts of direct difficulties with trading through restricted delivery of goods and supplies, the main problem for companies would be staff not being able to get into work, or worse still simply using fuel shortage as an excuse not to travel to work.

... This means having robustly worded contracts of employment covering areas such as lay-off and short time working.” Lay-off clauses in contracts mean that employees get statutory guaranteed pay for the first five days that they cannot work. After this they get no pay at all.

Nine Meals from Anarchy: Oil dependence, climate change and the transition to resilience (pdf)

...Nothing reveals the thin veneer of civilisation like a threat to its food or fuel supply, or the cracks in society like a major climate-related disaster. A cocktail of all three will give cold sweats to the most hardened emergency planner. But that is what we face.

‘What difference does it make how much is laid away in a man’s safe or in his barns, how many head of stock he grazes or how much capital he puts out at interest, if he is always after what is another’s and only counts what he has yet to get, never what he has already? You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.’

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 4 BC–AD 65

Once apparently solid, some would say smug and self-satisfied, financial institutions have dramatically tumbled. So, what else that we currently take for granted might be more vulnerable than imagined, and prone to sudden collapse?

Schumacher Lecture, 4 October 2008
Delivered by Andrew Simms

Thanks for that, Seraph.
"Nine Meals" is excellent... I was not aware of it

“When fuel distribution to forecourts is stopped, it has to be stored in the refineries. But within 3-4 days of strike action, the refineries will reach their capacity to store fuel, which could force oil rigs to stop drilling.

A lot of people think that. The gasoline starts flowing to your local Chevron the minute the oil rig starts drilling.

Small gas leak at heart of compression station explosion

The explosion at Williams Partners' Lathrop compressor station in Springville Twp. on Thursday shut down the seven-engine station, which will remain out of service until Williams and state Department of Environmental Protection inspectors complete an investigation and determine that it is safe to resume operations, DEP officials said in a Friday morning press conference at the Wilkes-Barre regional office.

The Lathrop station pressurizes and dehydrates natural gas from Marcellus Shale wells in the county for transport through interstate pipelines, including the Tennessee and Transco, which bring the gas to market. The station was sold to Williams by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. as part of a deal announced in 2010 that also included a second compressor station and 75 miles of the natural gas drilling company's gathering pipelines.

Gas pipelines remain a threat

Even though a congressman boasts that his bill signed into law in January will assure steps are taken to safeguard new shale-gas pipelines snaking across Pennsylvania, safety regulators surveyed nationally say they still need convincing.

The state regulators' fears, expressed to federal auditors about the public-safety threat from badly built or shoddily maintained pipelines, stand as a continuing concern for residents living amid Pennsylvania's gas boom.

Commonwealth Pipeline will use eminent domain as last resort

Bill Moler, the chief operating officer of Inergy Midstream, which proposed the nearly 200-mile long pipeline, said that even though the Commonwealth Pipeline can cross through people’s property against their will, that option will only be used as a last resort.

And for landowners holding out for higher prices for their land, Moler said everyone will get the same offer because Inergy is not a gathering company.

In Australia, it is un-constitutional (ie, not possible) to compulsorily acquire someone's freehold property, for the purposes of providing it to a third party (or any commercial entity). In some states there is no compulsory acquisition at all. In the states that permit it, compulsory acquisition on just terms is possible only for the purposes of a state activity (school, road, etc), but nothing else.

We clearly have stronger freehold title (and less God-given rights and obsessions in favour of the oil industry).

In Canada, as in Australia, a pipeline company would obtain an easement against the property, which would not involve a transfer of ownership but merely a caveat on the title.

An easement is a certain right to use the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another, B."

Easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property or allowing an individual to fish in a privately owned pond. An easement is considered as a property right in itself at common law and is still treated as a type of property in most jurisdictions.

A pipeline company would just obtain an easement which would allow it to lay a pipeline under the ground (provided it restored the surface afterwards), but the landowner would continue to own the surface rights. It would have to compensate the owner for loss of use and inconvenience. If the company did any damage to the surface it would have to compensate the owner, the amount to be determined by the courts or a government committee.

Both Australia and Canada (at least those parts with substantial oil and gas reserves) are under the Torrens title system of land registration, where the pipeline caveat would be registered on the title of the property.

And the vast majority of Australia's land mass is either held under pastoral lease, Native Title, or inalienable freehold held by Indigenous Peoples (some of the strongest Indigenous title found around the world). There are also wilderness and conservation reserves. There is virtually no Vacant Crown Land of any size, since it has all been claimed under the Native Title Act, or through various state Aboriginal Land laws.

All of these land types have different rules regarding mining and energy activity upon them, with different levels of consent required. It is also the case that the land-holder only owns the surface, while the ground and all the resources below are held by the State, who lease access to it for exploration and production, often with royalties going to affected land-holders.

Alaska, Exxon Mobil settle pipeline dispute

The state of Alaska has reached a settlement with Exxon Mobil Corp and its corporate partners that will keep a long-fallow oil and gas field in the companies' hands in exchange for development commitments, Gov. Sean Parnell said Friday.

The settlement resolves lease control at the Point Thomson field, about 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay. In exchange for continued lease control, operator Exxon Mobil and partners BP and ConocoPhillips have agreed to build a pipeline from the field to deliver 70,000 barrels a day of liquids into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

The settlement also calls for the companies to produce 10,000 barrels per day of natural-gas condensates by the winter of 2015-16, state officials said. "Alaska's resources will be produced from Point Thomson rather than remaining locked underground," Parnell said at a news conference in Anchorage.

The article Deals announced on Point Thomson leases, gas line partnership has a bit more detail. This is also good news for Shell's Beaufort exploration plans. If their drilling in the Beaufort proves successfull, having a 70,000 bpd pipeline link to Pt Thomson should positively impact the economics of their offshore prospects. BP also has at least one small, currently sub economic field at Sourdough which also might be economic to produce through a Pt Thomson liquids pipeline.

If you have never been able to see one of Art's presentations, here is your chance. Art will deliver the inaugural ASPO-USA webinar program, on shale gas. He will later do a followup presentation on the thermally mature shale oil plays, e.g., Bakken and Eagle Ford. Participants will be able to submit questions via email.

ASPO-USA launches webinar series

Given the tsunami of energy misinformation in the media right now, ASPO-USA’s role in providing accurate analysis of our domestic and global energy situation has never been more important.

Therefore, ASPO-USA is launching a series of monthly webinar programs, where members and donors will have the opportunity to see and hear presentations by distinguished speakers. The first will take place Thursday: “Shale Gas Update, with Art Berman.”

Webinar: Shale Gas Update, with Art Berman

Thursday, April 5, 2012
2:00PM - 3:30PM Eastern

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

ASPO-USA Members, FREE. Non-members, $40 donation.

Membership is $100 (or more, if you choose to donate more), so that is not a bad option.

And note that ASPO-USA now has a very convenient recurring monthly donation option.

The Nature of Tipping Points

This is Jerry McManus' follow-up to his very insightful article, Modeling Collective Behavior, and it delves into the scientific meaning of a commonly-used, but sometimes misunderstood term of complex systems theory - "tipping point".

Some interesting comments as well.

I wonder if any TODsters have read Laurent Nottale's writings about scale relativity and fractal space-time, and have any thoughts on his musings and their potential applicability to topics of interest to TOD members?

A very bright person at work has this book and showed me some of its highlights:


but it lists for ~ $124 on Amazon, so I am not going to buy it any time soon...

The 63 page paper seems to encapsulate some of the content of the book, and the author likely has more papers on-line available for free:


Page 46 of this paper has the graph of declining sea ice coverage posted earlier in this DrumBeat...this graph also appears in the book I cited above.

No, but I arrived at a similar idea about the fractal geometry of space-time roughly three years ago.


From a very brief skimming, Nottale's work going back to to the early 90s is brilliant and impressive yet incomplete.

I had also once tried to write about scale, scope, and perspective and how they affect how we go about relating to problems and solving them. Wasn't able to explain it clearly and didn't get far.

Thanks Ghung.

Ash was generous in his comments, but I think "scientific" is a bit strong, note I didn't include any references. Still, I hope some find it insightful. I'm essentially just writing up what I've learned so far at this excellent online course, which has just hit mid-terms:

University of Michigan: Model thinking


Since the last couple of posts including my last one on the Elgin leak in the North Sea remain inaccessible, I will offer an update here.

Total believes they know where the gas is leaking from: a chalk formation about 1000 meters above where the reservoir is.

The Hod geohazard has caused significant problems throughout the production life of the Elgin/Franklin fields, as described by Total experts in a report produced in 2005 obtained by Bellona.

“It was realized that conventionally cemented casings was unlikely to hold this gas back during the production lifecycle of the wells,” read the report.

The study resulted in improved drilling and completion procedures. However it is clear that these procedures did prevent gas ingress from the Hod geohazard.

The well, dating from 1997, and other older wells, may be susceptible to particular danger. It is known that other wells have shown increased annular pressure due to the Hod formation.

The Hod formation is regionally distributed, covering a wide area. It is of high pressure – 800 bars according to the Total spokesman. Information on the Hod formation is sketchy, as the reservoir has never been commercially produced.

However it is know that the gas it contains is clean, meaning that it does not contain hydrogen sulfide. This will result in fewer detrimental environmental impacts.

It is estimated that the Hod formation still contains high quantities of gas, erasing the possibility that the gas leak will simply peter out on its own.

The flare might be going out.

They are still evaluating options for stopping the leak:

About 200,000 cubic metres of gas have been escaping every day from the Elgin platform, he said, adding that there has been "little change" in the past five days. Proposals to stop the leak include ‘killing’ the well with mud and drilling relief wells which could take as long as six months. Two drilling rigs have stopped work on other wells in the area to assist, if required.

It is not clear if this problem was exacerbated by the high temperatures and (initially high) pressures of the producing formation.

But this report is somewhat misleading:

Total had decided to seal the well as it had detected as early as a year ago several anomalies, such as drops in pressure and in production. The final step of the abandoning, or killing, of the well after shut down, was to seal it, which took place March 25. That is when the leak was detected and the platform personnel evacuated, Hourcard said.

The drop in pressure is no anomaly. Though the reservoir started off very high in pressure (1100 bar), it drops like a rock with production - so much so that several other Elgin (and Franklin)wells have been shut down. Well G5 was apparently shut down in 2007 with the pressure under 450 bar. The pressure above the reservoir remains high, though, and this causes all kinds of problems.

Thanks for the update, Joules!

The Hod formation is regionally distributed, covering a wide area. It is of high pressure – 800 bars according to the Total spokesman. Information on the Hod formation is sketchy, as the reservoir has never been commercially produced.

Why was the Hod formation not produced? If they knew it was (going to be) problematic, why not produce it first? I'm sure profits are involved, but this seems to be progressing as a case of penny wise, pound foolish.

Will the relief wells also be production wells or will they just flare all of this gas?

Why was the Hod formation not produced?

Low permeability and (supposedly) low gas content.

I know, kind of a contradiction.

With increasing gas prices and improved fracing techniques, this sounds like a perfect opportunity to side track the depleted wells and do some multi stage fracs once everything is under control. Their current "production test" should provide them with some valuable if not expensive information on this Hod formation. It is a shame they don't have any down hole gauges in the hole. (1/2 sarc off)

Any indication yet on what has failed. Casing, wellhead seals or side out valves?

There were some press reports saying it was not human error, but as the elevatored annulus pressure was a known problem being monitored/actively controlled, then Total must have a very good idea what has happened, but sounded a bit defensive saying it was not human error.

Good information here:


In 2009, a report authored by seven Total employees and submitted to the U.K. Geological Society, noted that as the Elgin and Franklin reservoirs became depleted, they became even more unstable. Three earthquakes occurred on the Elgin boundary fault in 2007 and 2008, and there were signs that geological stresses resulting from huge pressure changes were deforming the rocks around the reservoir, the report said.


Most know I’m a geologist by education but I’m also responsible for drilling ops for my company. I'm certainly not a drilling expert but I have ready access to a few. So at the risk of sticking my foot in mouth I’ll offer my observation based on 36 years of experience dealing with the exact problem they had with the Elgin well: a bad cement job.

“It is not clear if this problem was exacerbated by the high temperatures and (initially high) pressures of the producing formation highlights the increased risks of exploiting very high pressure and high temperature oil and gas reservoirs. “ First, all this “poor us…the pressures and temperatures are so high”. Total BS IMHO. Yes they are higher than normal hydrostatic pressure and the temp is very high. Big freaking deal. Thousand of wells with higher pressures and temps are drilled every year. A guess what: this same problem happens with wells that have relatively low pressures and temps.

“The steel casing that lines a well can be buckled or deformed by movements in the rock, Bergerot said. "Eventually, the liner may become sheared off completely," he said”. Of course it can…we call it point loading. But that wasn’t why the NG is spewing through the well head today. Untold numbers of wells have had identical casing failures and no NG blew up to the surface.

Trust me: I’m not dummying down my explanation. As I said about the Macondo blow out cement jobs fail all the time. They are especially prone to fail in high pressure/high temp wells. I anticipate the cement job failing every time. And so do every operator. That’s why every drilling rig on the planet keeps the equipment needed to repair a failed cmt job on location every day. The simplest fix: just pump more cmt and retest. But here’s what most don’t realize: I may get a very good annular cmt job isolating the productive reservoir from the up hole section. But that doesn’t mean I’ve filled the entire annulus with cmt…good or bad. In some cases cmt is pumped all the way up to the well head. But often only so many hundreds of feet above the productive reservoir because it’s the one you want to isolate.

Remember there are multiple strings of casing that run back up to the well head. And between each two strings of casing there is an annulus: 4 strings of csg…3 annuli. And often there is no cmt in the annuli up shallow near the well head. For any reason such as csg failure from point loading or, much more commonly, a hole develops in the production tubing from the reservoir then you will have annular pressure. We call it “pressure on the back side”. And that’s always a bad thing. Which is why most regs don’t allow it. Unless the rules have been changed recently the feds require any offshore well developing pressure on the backside to be shut in and remain so until fixed. And how would the feds know? Because they require pressure gauges installed, monitored and reported. Yes…just as I’m implying: it ain’t rocket science.

So how do you prevent this from becoming a problem? It’s an easy (but costly) solution. You go down the well with a perforating gun, shoot holes in the shallow section that has no cement and do a “squeeze job”. IOW you pump cmt into the annulus, let it harden and the test it to the max pressure you might ever seen in the well. Of course you only spend this extra money if you think there’s a reasonable chance you'll ever develop pressure on the back side. And this is where I have to make a guess but think it’s a good one: when they first developed the field they didn’t anticipate the problem and thus saw no need to isolate the shallow annuli with cmt. I’ve often haven’t sqzd the shallow annuli for the same reason.

But when after a while you see the problem developing what do you do? Easy fix actually: you shut all the wells in, move a drilling rig in (which might require months to move production equipment out of the way), kill the wells with heavy fluid, probably remove the production tubing, perf the shallow csg, do a sqz job, test it to a sufficient pressure, run the production tubing back into the well and then try to swab the heavy kill fluid out and hopefully see the well start flowing again. Done this a number of times in my career.

Yes…very easy. But very expensive. First, you’re losing your cash flow for perhaps many months. The operation might costs many tens of millions if there are numerous wells to sqz. And the part where you start the wells producing again? Well…that doesn’t always happen…especially with pressure depletion reservoirs like this field. This is why most production engineers will fight tooth and nail to not kill a producing well…especially an older one.

Now let’s talk about one possible fix they offer: pumping a heavy kill pill down the leaking annulus. No problem. Just get some hands to go back onto the rig, attach flow lines to the wellhead and start those pumps up. And do this standing 5 feet away from millions of cu ft of NG flowing out of the well. Volunteers…hands please. Of course one little spark or static charge and you’ll get lit up like the 11 on Macondo. Obviously they would have shut the well in had they the capability before they abandoned the rig so that doesn’t appear to be an option.

This isn’t a well leaking NG. By every definition this is a BLOW OUT. In the insurance world of they oil patch it's call a "well control situation". And if their insurnace coveage is smilar to ours Total has already filed a claim. That means f they are covered like I am, the costs of fighting the blow out going forward is all on the insurance company. I suspect the Total shareholders would not like to see management make such a declaration publicly. The only difference between it and Macondo is that it’s NG with some condensate and not oil. And it isn’t on fire…yet. I suspect the relief well will be rather complicated but we’ll have plenty of time later to talk about that. In the meantime all Total can hope is that the well kills itself. And that’s unlikely IMHO.

Rockman, I very rarely frequent the Oil Drum. I tuned in regularly during Macondo, and found your comments just as relevant and readable then as now. Just wanted to say thanks. What are your thoughts about the possibility of the NG igniting?

UM - This may sound a tad flippant but it's a simple fact: the rig will explode if the NG comes into contact with an ignition source. That's not a "possibility"...it's an absolute certainty. The source could be the flare stack, some electrical spark of the rig floor, the exhaust of any boat or helicopter getting close to the platform, a lightning strike or maybe just some static charge building up out there.

Been thinking about how this situation developed. Total now admits they've known about annular pressure at the well heads for years. I just had to deal with this problem a year ago on one of my wells I had to plug and abandon. Of course I had to plug that annular pathway. Otherwise how could I remove the well head? So I hooked flow lines to the wellhead and pumped in heavy cement. Besides this being the safe way of dealing with the situation it's also required by Texas regulations.

What has not been explained by Total is how the NG was released from the annulus. The wellheads are designed to contain "pressure on the backside". So what happened? Did the seal system on the wellhead suddenly fail? Just pure speculation on my part but we know they were plugging the well and had to kill the annulus to do so. They had to hook up flow lines and pump some kill fluid into the annulus. The risk there is that they had to open a conduit from the annulus to the atmosphere. There certainly would be control valves to prevent a NG discharge to the rig. But just as we saw with the BOP on Macondo there is the plan and then there's what happens. I suspect something went wrong with the control valves or seals. It might not have been more complicated than a flow line popping off a fitting just like your garden hose might do. Of course, with the garden hose you just run over to the faucet and close the valve. Maybe they couldn't close the well's "faucet". Or maybe no one wanted to hang around a wellhead blowing millions of cu ft of very explosive NG and they just ran away as fast as possible. What I find most incriminating is that Total has yet to offer details of exactly what was being done before the well blew out. They may not know exactly what failed but they do know exactly what they were doing when it happened. Did they have kill lines attached to the wellhead? Where the valves open at that time so they could pump a kill pill down the annulus? They know what was happening in the minutes before the blow out but so far they haven't shared that info with the public.


Total: Elgin platform flare extinguished

PARIS/ABERDEEN -(MarketWatch)- The natural-gas flare left burning aboard an abandoned Total SA (TOT, FP.FR) platform in the North Sea has extinguished by itself, the French major said Saturday, raising hopes that faster efforts to stem an ongoing gas leak on the Elgin platform can be brought forward.

Although Total had played down fears of an explosion, saying prevailing weather conditions and the proximity of the gas cloud made it unlikely, the fact that the risk from the flare is no longer an issue could bring forward efforts to stem the leak by dropping mud into the well, the speedier of the two options.

I guess they are now looking for those volunteers you asked for the other day.

Sounds like they know they have something to hook onto on the wellhead, rather than fractured casing. I am sure they will use a bronze hammer. Won't they?

The drop in pressure is no anomaly. Though the reservoir started off very high in pressure (1100 bar), it drops like a rock with production - so much so that several other Elgin (and Franklin)wells have been shut down.

Interesting field and reservoir:
18,000 ft depth, 16,000 psi initially,380 deg F.
geo-pressured with a gradient 0.89 psi/ft.
yield 320 barrels condensate/mmscf of sour gas ?

The Hod at 15,000 ft. with 11,600 psi,
also geo-pressured with a gradient of 0.77 psi/ft.
spewing 7 million cf/d.

Haphazard development of the hubs of hades ?


'Obama says enough world oil to crack down on Iran'

From an oil drum standpoint, how this plays out should be very interesting from a number of standpoints, from testing Saudi spare capacity, how much is tapped from SPR's, how it impacts oil price and pump price and whether it is enough to get Iran to change course.

Going forward, Obama is required by law to determine every six months whether the price and supply of non-Iranian oil are sufficient to allow consumers to "significantly" cut their purchases from Iran.

The law allows Obama, after June 28, to sanction foreign banks that carry out oil-related transactions with Iran's central bank and effectively cut them off from the U.S. financial system.

"Today, we put on notice all nations that continue to import petroleum or petroleum products from Iran that they have three months to significantly reduce those purchases or risk the imposition of severe sanctions on their financial institutions," said Senator Robert Menendez, co-author of the sanctions law.

If Obama has made this decision based on Saudi spare capacity claims, he may be unpleasantly surprised.

I've long considered that any statements from the Saudi's concerning estimated remaining Reserves to be suspect, its akin to the littlest kid on the playground who gives PB&J sandwiches to the "really big but nice kid" to protect him from the playground bullies. The kid is not about to reveal the fact that he is just about out of PB&J's...

Yeah, who wants to own up to a shortage of spare pb&j's or oil? it's pretty obvious the Saudi's best interest is in maintaining an already tenuous status quo. As soon as the jig is up on little if any spare, oil traders will have the confidence to bet on higher futures due to tight supply, in effect daring any country to bring more oil to market.

KSA doesn't need to meet its unfeasible claims. All it has to do is pump more heavy sour oil than the market can soak up. Popular opinion will hold that the oil shortage is caused by the world's economic weakness and the refinery industry's lack of preparation for heavy oil, rather than KSA's geological limitation.

The longer term effect of this will probably be to draw attention to the refinery industry's unpreparedness for the future of heavier oil. (Cue the sound of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity ranting that "the Liberals" are to blame for making the EPA over-regulate the refinery industry and causing the whole thing.)

spec - I'll make the point again: the KSA doesn't have to increase production to lower oil prices. The KSA post the price it will sell its oil for. Those buyers who can afford to buy that oil buy it. Tomorrow the KSA could post their prices 30% lower than they are today. So who would buy the higher priced oil from the other exporters? Of course, some non-end user could buy some of that oil cheap with hopes to sell it at a higher price later. But when does "later" happen? When the KSA raises the price of oil. I'm starting to get very annoyed with the KSA pitch that they are victims of all those evil oil buyers who have been forcing them to charge more for their oil by requiring the exporters to raise the price of oil.

Yeah, I do remember you pointing this out before Rockman.

Your point makes sense to me, but it seems like you're also basically saying the idea is a non-starter. KSA could sell the oil at a big discount but middlemen will just hoard the cheaply-sold oil until KSA's prices are back to normal again. Or else the middlemen won't hoard the oil but they will mark it back up to regular market value and pocket the difference.

Either way, the only way the worldwide market price of oil changes is if there is a change in the basic supply/demand ratio (and that change must not appear to be a totally short-term fluke). We're back to KSA needing to increase their exports if they want to make any meaningful impact on lowering the final consumer prices.

It's a free market. If KSA can't flood it with extra (refinery-ready) oil for any amount of time, then KSA can no longer exert force to lower the final consumer prices.

spec - Hoard it where? Do you know where there are 100’s of millions of bbls of empty storage just sitting there empty? And if there is some magical empty storage fields how would the hoarders access them? I suppose the potential hoarders could spend a year or two and many hundreds of $millions to build those storage farms with the hope the KSA is still selling cheap oil way down the road.

But let’s pretend those empty storage fields exist today and they buy all of that cheap KSA oil this month…all 270 million bbls of it. And let’s pretend the KSA sells it for $80/bbl. Heck of deal, eh? All the hoarder has to do is write a check to the KSA for about $21 billion, pay around $1 billion to have it shipped to those stealth tank farms and the pay about $150 million a month storage fee. And then next month they can sell it to the buyers for $90/bbl. But if the KSA is selling next month’s oil for $80/bbl why would I pay the hoarder $90/bbl? In fact, if the KSA oil were taken of the market place I'm sure the world would immdiately crash into a severe depression...don't you agree? Heck...I doubt the world could even afford $80 oil the next month. So Mr. Hoarder...what ya gonna do now with those 270 million bblsf $90 oil? I know you’re clever spec and can appreciate the massive scale of what any significant amount of hoarding would require.

One other problem with the hording theory: the KSA decides who it sells oil to. They can simply refuse to sell oil to anyone who isn’t an end user. If the goal of the KSA is to lower global oil prices why would they sell it to a hoarder even if such a possibility existed? Remember the initial premise: the KSA wants to lower the price the importers pay.

“Either way, the only way the worldwide market price of oil changes is if there is a change in the basic supply/demand ratio (and that change must not appear to be a totally short-term fluke). Not true. If the KSA wants to increase its price tomorrow to $200/bbl they can do so even if there is no increase in demand. Haven't we seen just that since 2008? Is total global demand much greater now then before? So why does oil cost so much more now? Because that's waht the KSA requires us to pay and there are no other exporters with capacity to take market share from the KSA by lowering their price. The KSA would sell less oil if they raised prices, of course. But if they did would I still sell my LLS oil for what I did last week? I don’t think so…do you? And if the KSA dropped their price to $80/bbl and they had the excess capacity they claim would my LLS oil buyers pay me more for my oil?

If the KSA took 2 million bopd market share from Russia what would the Russians do? Keep their oil price high and accept a lower cash flow? Maybe. That a decision every seller of a product has to make evry day: compete with the market place or not. You’re correct: supply and demand. If the KSA lowered the price for its oil demand for that oil would increase. And someone would lose market share. And the only way they would regain market share would be to match the KSA price. That’s exactly how the supply and demand system is suppose to work: if I can control the supply I can demand what ever price I want. Thanks to PO the exports control enough supply that they can demand the current price they offer for their oil.

Hoard it where ?

The People's Republic of China wants a (from memory) 512 million barrel SPR. And last I remember, it was less than half full.

Their SPR is a complicating factor until full.


Alan - I guess it depends on how you define hoarding vs. stock piling. Is our SPR reserves an effort to hoard...to sell it to the rest of the world later and make a profit? Or are we stock piling for our own security? Is China planning to hoard reserves in order to raise the price of crude across the globe? Think about it: the Chinese out bid all the other buyers for KSA causing oil prices to spike. But it won't use this oil...it's for hoarding...remember. So now the Chinese have spent a fortune buying the KSA oil, paid to haul and store it in China but next month China will have to buy all the oil they need to use that month at the inflated prices they just caused.

I’m sorry boys and girls. I don’t think some are thinking the hoarding angle in sufficient detail. First, what oil importer, whose economy depends on burning affordable oil, is going to pull oil out of the market place and thus increasing the economic pain on their economy by causing oil prices to rise? And they would do this by spending a huge amount of their resources (in addition to their normal oil purchases) to buy up all that hoarded oil? If someone decides to hoard oil wouldn’t the motive be to make a profit? An importer is going to out bid the rest of the world for the hoarded oil so they can sell it back next month (or some time later) at a higher price? Sell it to who…the other importers that just had their economies pushed into recession thus decreasing not only their demand for oil but what they could afford to pay. So obviously a potential oil hoarder can’t be a current oil importer. What’s the fear about hoarding folks are expressing? That it would increase the cost of oil.

So now point out the country that isn’t an oil importer that could spend those $billions outbidding the rest of the world for the hoarding oil. Hmm…wouldn’t that have to be an oil exporter? And which oil exporter would be in the best position to do that? IMHO that would have to be the KSA. So next month the KSA buys all their production from themselves and stores it away. This way next month the oil importers will have to pay higher prices. Now that’s what you call a clever and successful oil hoarder.

Come on gang…don’t you get what I just described? It’s the exact situation we’re been in for some time. If you take the KSA’s word about their capability to produce more oil then they’re currently are isn’t that the epitome of hoarding: keeping some of a commodity off the market in order to get a higher price for what they do sell? I’ve been hanging this floater out there for someone to knock out of the park but I’ve finally lost patience. The KSA has clearly stated (in other words, of course) that they have forced oil prices up by hoarding oil. For goodness sakes…that is the stated business plan of OPEC after all.

...but they seem so sincere!

The Economist is catching on to ELM...did westtexas write this article?

Keeping it to themselves
Gulf states not only pump oil; they burn it, too


Saudi Arabia is not the only oil-producer that chugs its own wares. The Middle East, home to six OPEC members, saw consumption grow by 56% in the first decade of the century, four times the global growth rate and nearly double the rate in Asia (see map).

Here is another article which could have come from TOD, found in The Economist:

'No Oil For Old Countries'


Drives a stake in the heart of the 'Drill, Bay, Drill, Drill Here, Drill Now' propaganda.

Of course a certain tribe in the U.S. will instantly hand-wave these articles away, as they have the stench of 'European' and 'Socialism' all over them...they fail by not citing our exceptionalism!

BTW, look at the increase in BOPD consumption between 2000 and 2010 (see the chart in the 'Keeping it to themselves' article):

Canada +18.4%
Brasil +29%
KSA +78.2
China +90%
NorthAmerica -.7%
World +14.2%

So...the World was +14.2%, yet C&C production peaked Q4 of 2005...did that +14.2% occur between 2000 ans 2006, or is this chart using 'All Liquids', or what?

From the Economist article:

Saudi Arabia is trying to develop nuclear and solar energy. But its fleet of oil-fired power stations will keep going for years. And as Mark Lewis of Deutsche Bank points out, two more big ones are now being built. On current trends the kingdom would become a net importer of oil by 2038 (unlikely though that is).

Mark Lewis, who reached similar conclusions about oil exporting countries, independent of any of our work, was interviewed for the Economist article.



Is this the Mark Lewis:


or this one?:


My guess is the second gentleman...

I checked the Canadian Petroleum Producers Association (CAPPA) Statistical Handbook, and it shows Canadian consumption of petroleum and products increased a total of 1% from 2000 to 2010, from 257,799 cubic metres per day in 2000 to 260,487 cubic metres per day in 2010.

That includes crude oil, condensate, and NGL's. So, something is definitely whacked about the numbers the Economist got from Deutsche Bank.

Canadian consumption definitely did not increase 18% between 2000 and 2010. It rose to a peak in 2008, and dropped below 2000 consumption in 2009, much like US consumption did.

By the way, here's the US EIA's prediction of Canadian production and consumption for the next 23 years. Note consumption is dead flat.

The 18.4% number is from the BP data base, total petroleum liquids, which shows that Canadian consumption has been between about 2.2 and 2.3 mbpd since 2004.

Thank you both for your additional information, but I am being dense tonight...it still seems that RMG has information supporting a 1% increase while wt has information supporting ~18%...is the difference accounted for in additional components of 'all liquids' beyond oil, condensate, and NGL, such as Canadian ethanol (do they grow corn in Canada?)...or is oil produced from bitumen sand counted differently (assuming that Canada consumes that bitumen-sand-oil internally and that is the delta between 1% and 18%?

I have no idea where BP gets the data for its Statistical Handbook from, but it doesn't correlate with the CAPP Statistical Handbook or the National Energy Board data.

The CAPP data is a calculation of refinery runs + product imports - product exports = implied consumption.

One thing that might confound the BP data is that Canada is both a large importer and large exporter of both crude oil and products. Some major Atlantic refineries import most of their crude oil and export most of their products to other countries.

If BP doesn't net exports off production data correctly, it could be counting product exports as Canadian consumption. The net export of products grew about 35% during 2000-2010.

Canada does grow some corn, but the climate is too cool for it in the main agricultural areas of the Prairies, so the production of fuel ethanol is not that great. Most of the oil sands bitumen produced in Canada is exported to the US rather than consumed internally.

BP also seems to have a problem accepting Canada's calculation of its oil reserves and makes up its own numbers somehow rather than relying on the official government reserve data. As a result they are totally different.


Thank you for your expertise, providing this clarification.

Of course, given that the BP data seems so off-the-mark wrt Canada, I now question the veracity of the rest of the BP numbers presented in the 'The Economist' article's graphic I cited.

Okay, you made your point Rockman. The KSA could sell their oil cheaply and hoarding/stockpiling for future profits isn't gonna happen.

But if you're trying to say that the KSA is artificially holding prices upwards, I would ask what is an artificial price and what is a real one? I suspect that the KSA's current yearly export level is probably their geological limit without damaging their reservoirs. If nobody else on earth can replace the KSA's oil at cheaper prices, then that is what the world can bear.

Like anyone else who has read "Twilight in the Desert", I suspect that the KSA can't really go any higher. The KSA isn't intentionally setting the worldwide price high, but rather just failing to push it down any farther for fear of long term reservoir damage. IMHO they are probably pumping flat-out on average and they are now having to temporarily overproduce their fields to retain any "swing producer" capability.

Spec – “…the KSA is artificially holding prices…”. I’m not sure what artificial means in this context. I have a commodity to sell and offer it for $X. You can pay my asking price or you don’t get any. What’s artificial about that? Someone else can offer the commodity for less but that doesn’t require me to lower my price. Even if me and every other producer of that commodity agree to it for $X is that an artificial price? It might be classified as a monopoly price but it’s still a price based upon demand and I don’t see much artificial in that.

I agree with you that the KSA probably has little capacity to bring much more oil to market. “The KSA isn't intentionally setting the worldwide price high…” I can go for or against that statement. Tomorrow morning the KSA can sell every bbl of their production for 30% less than they did last week so they are setting the worldwide price. OTOH the oil buyers are willing to pay the current KSA asking price so aren’t they setting the price? You may own all of the commodity in existence but if none of the buyers are willing to pay more than $X then that sets the market price. Your only option is to accept that price or stop selling your commodity. Isn’t that where the KSA is today: they could offer their oil for $1,000/bbl if they chose. But they would sell virtually none, would they? So doesn’t that bring us full circle back to market pricing: the current price of oil is exactly what it should be: what both the producers and consumers are willing to accept. The consumers may not be happy with that price but that isn't the goal of market pricing. Also consider that many exporters (who see the end of rheir reserves not too far down the road) aren't happy with current prices either. How many of them would be pleased to see the KSA reduce production forcing up their income?

Well Rockman I don't think we are disagreeing on anything. We're just describing the situation with different wording.

IMHO the "correct" value of something really depends on what your timeframe is for your viewpoint. If you think in terms of years or decades then a two-month-long blast of high oil prices is certainly the "wrong" price. But if your job is to purchase oil every day on the market, then you could easily lose a fortune and get fired for thinking like that. The years-long view is "wrong" for that context.

I'm starting to get very annoyed with the KSA....

Are you asking King Abdullah to be your momma ?

All it has to do is pump more heavy sour oil than the market can soak up.

What heavy oil are you refering to ? Sour oil ? KSA has never pumped much else.

"If Obama has made this decision based on Saudi spare capacity claims, he may be unpleasantly surprised."

Yeah, I worry about that as well. If he decides he wants to be a tough guy and real tight sanctions are slapped on Iran, then oil prices might shoot up because the Saudis really can't replace the Iranian oil. The Saudis may have some more spare capacity buy much is heavy & sour oil that various refineries can't use.

The economy, Iran, and gas prices are three tricky inter-related issues and Obama needs play them very carefully. The GOP candidates can spout off ridiculous contradictory positions because there are no consequences to their silly rhetoric. The fact that they blast Obama for high gas prices while simultaneously threatening to bomb Iran is a complete contradiction that is utterly lost on the general public.

Seems like a risky but potentially beneficial political move for Obama. If Iran buckles in some way, policy is justified. If Iran doesn't buckle, further steps will be taken. In either case, high prices (gas at the pump) are made to seem an inevitable consequence of getting tough with Iran.

The fact that they blast Obama for high gas prices while simultaneously threatening to bomb Iran is a complete contradiction

Its not a contradiction, its a two pronged strategy, set HIM up for the blame, then bring about the conditions that cause the price spike. The resik (from the R's perspective) is that the public will figure it out (but that doesn't appear very likely). For Obama its a delicate balancing act, due to the combination of AIPAC/Likud pressure, and the American tendency to find aggressive militarism attractive, and peacemaking for whimps, he has to be seen to be very tough against the Iranians, while at the same time not provoking the situation enough to create a major price spike. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

I do not particularly look forward to a Republican presidency, given the direction they have gone.

But as for Obama, my hope or sympathy is zero. He's a nonentity as far as I'm concerned.

Interesting. Attack of conscience? Or....... cynical ploy to pretend to care in bid to sell "green" products.

General Motors pulls funding from climate sceptic thinktank Heartland
Car giant breaks off 20-year relationship with Heartland Institute in ongoing row over its role in questioning global warming


I'm sure it's a purely business decision. Being associated with Heartland has become not good for the brand.

Did anyone ever find out who Heartland's big anonymous donor was? Not GM - their contribution was pocket change.

Purely speculation ... Barre Seid of Chicago

Thanks. Wow, that's quite a story.

Reading that, it occurs to me that if I won the lottery and wanted to use it to buy influence, I wouldn't even know how.

More from Daily Kos (March 6th) here.

I'm learning. ;)

Board seats.
College chairs.
Think tanks.
Off-site legislative working groups / seminars.
Topic-of-interest conference calls to feed misinfo to reporters, bloggers

Intermediaries in the chain from big money to political action.

They can't sell many Volts. Many potential Volt customers would be outraged by the support of Heartland.

In any case for whatever reason they pulled it, its a step in the right direction.

Whoever would have thought anything could possibly go wrong with telling the general public to hoard petrol in anything handy?

David Cameron seeks to reassure motorists that fuel will not run out
PM steps in as woman suffers burns decanting petrol in her kitchen after government earlier told motorists to stockpile fuel


According to the link

According to the fire service in York, Hill was decanting petrol in her kitchen from a green jerry can into a jug while her gas cooker was on. The vapours caught light, and in the ensuing panic she spilt petrol on her clothes and they also caught fire.

Now who would have anticipated this, decanting petrol in the kitchen with the stove on.

Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!
-- George Carlin

Carlin would have anticipated this.

Cauterizing the gene pool.


Decanting means pouring out - theres a word I haven't seen for a while.

But imagine if Hydrogen was the fuel of choice.

From Qurayyah to Khurais: Turning Water Into Oil
Posted by JoulesBurn

Ohhh, too bad: The really nice video is gone. It is now marked "Private" on YouTube. It's also gone from the user's playlist. I wanted to share it.

I was afraid that might happen. I should have ripped it.

I sent a message to the uploader. Ya never know.

Ya never know

I love a good conspiracy. Is there any mileage in the fact that TOD fell over when the Elgin coverage started - French, Rainbow Warrior, etc. Anyone think the same?

I think it was when I shared the pix of how to charge a cell phone without using the BAU electrical grid, using a little portable PV system instead, and the discussion around it.

Must have scared TPTB ;)

An 18 minute interview with Daniel Yergin is available on ABC Lateline 29th March at the following


It starts at about 13:30 into the file
The file is 120MB and is available until about April 10

That link is available to Australian viewers only. Here is a link of just the Daniel Yergin interview that is available to everyone.

The complexities of energy delivery

Energy consultant Daniel Yergin says new technologies, new discoveries and increasing efficiencies mean there is no danger of running low on fossil fuels, but alternative energy will continue to grow rapidly.

Ron P.

Use an Australian proxy server :-)

"new technologies, new discoveries and increasing efficiencies mean there is no danger of running low on fossil fuels, but alternative energy will continue to grow rapidly"

That is Yergin-speak for "The price of oil will continue going up but I don't want you to realize it.", IMHO. You'll never 'run low' if the price is set high enough.

I'm going to hold off posting a new Drumbeat for awhile. This one went up so late. And the site is still really screwed up. I can post Drumbeats, but I can't put them in the Drumbeat section. There is no Drumbeat section. :-/

I hope that six years of Drumbeat discussions aren't lost; poof! I've said before that it may be worth preserving, if only for some lonely soul 100 years from now, studying peak oil and how things played out. While the links and graphics would be lost, IMO, it's the discussion that matters most.

The older Drumbeats are still there. I can see them, and so can others with "superuser" rights. There are nightly backups, so even if the backup is corrupt, there shouldn't be more than a couple of days lost.

But when I create a new Drumbeat, it's created as a regular article, not as a Drumbeat. I'm afraid I won't be able to move them off the front page into the Drumbeat section when the time comes, or that there might be other issues. I'm hoping they'll get it fixed in a few hours.

Leanan - thanks for all of the explanations.

I have a question that will probably display by ignorance of big web site management.

When I tried to get onto TOD right after the problem developed I was greeted with a screen that said "Welome to Drupal". Then when I clicked on the links on that page I always got a message saying "Access Denied".

My dumb question of the day is: "What is Drupal?".

That's the kind of question Google is very helpful at answering. :-)

Drupal is the software that runs this site. If there's a "welcome to Drupal" message, it means something is wrong. It's acting like the web site has not been set up yet. That message is for the tech guy/web designer, not for ordinary users. Which is why none of the links worked for you.

or check with certain government agencies to see if you can review their archives...

You can rest assured that No Such Agency exists which could maintain archives as you suggest! That could represent a massive intrusion in the private lives of ordinary 'Mericans and our brave politicians would protect us from any such attempt! Praise the lord and pass the ammunition... {/sarc}

E. Swanson

The new Drumbeat is ready, but I'm going to hold off posting it for now. There's still one tech problem they're working on. Hopefully they fix it soon. If not, I'll post the new Drumbeat anyway. I'll give them about an hour.

Please do not hesitate to sign (and forward) the call to French presidential candidates "mobilizing society in the face of peak oil".

Signed by :
Pierre René Bauquis - Former Director of Strategy and Planning at Total
Jean-Marie Bourdaire - Former Director of Economic Studies at Total, former Director of Studies at World Energy Council (WEC)
Yves Cochet - European Deputy, former Environment Minister.
Jean-Marc Jancovici – Consultant, energy and CO2 issues, ASPO France
Jean Laherrère - Former Chief of Exploration Technologies at Total, ASPO France president
Yves Mathieu - Former Hydrocarbon Reserves Project Manager at the Institut Francais du Petrole (French Petroleum Institute)

Translation published on Energy Bulletin :

And on a dedicated site (with petition/join the call functionality) :

Any language welcomed for the message.


Falling electricity demand + a growing renewable energy portfolio = less coal.

NS Power to idle two Lingan coal units
Utility's 'evolution' is to renewable energy

In a province where coal smokestacks are almost as iconic as lighthouses, Nova Scotia Power Inc.’s decision to seasonally idle two coal-fired units at the Lingan generating station marks the beginning of an end of an era.


Nova Scotia Power’s proposed 2012 capital plan, filed with the provincial regulator late last year, indicated the utility was considering closing the Lingan power plant.


With the smoke from Lingan’s four units responsible half the province’s total air pollution, Abreu said the Cape Breton plant is a good place to start shuttering coal-fired units.


Electricity from coal now accounts for 57 per cent of the utility’s total generation, compared with 80 per cent five years ago, and is expected to drop further as a result of the seasonal shutdown.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/78434-ns-power-idle-two-lingan-coa...

Fair to say Lingan's days are numbered and when the station lights are turned off for good, NSP's CO2 emissions will fall by 40 per cent. That will be a champagne day like no other.

And on a related note....

Plan for 12 turbines in Pugwash area gets environmental OK

An $85-million wind farm proposed for the Pugwash area received clearance from the provincial Environment Department on Tuesday.

Environmental approval of the project basically gives a green light to North Cumberland Wind Farm LP to proceed with the construction in 2013 of 12 turbines capable of generating 32 megawatts of electricity.

Part of the 300 MW of renewable energy to be added to the provincial system in this latest round.


Some interesting net export math numbers

I'm working on a long delayed update to our last article on global net exports, and some interesting numbers follow.

"Export Land" went from final production peak to zero net oil exports in 9 years, and if we extrapolate the rate of increase in their consumption to production ratio from the production peak to three years later, it accurately predicted when they would hit zero net oil exports.

Based on the BP data base, Indonesia's apparent final production peak was in 1991, when they net exported 0.97 mbpd. Their Post 1991 Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) were 2,090 mb (BP, Total Petroleum Liquids)

Indonesia’s C/P ratio increased from 42% in 1991 to 52% in 1994, a 7.1%/year rate of increase. If we extrapolate this three year rate of increase, they would have hit the 100% mark in 2003, which they did. Their 2002 C/P ratio was 94%, and their 2003 C/P ratio was 105%.

In 1992, year one of a 12 year net export decline period, Indonesia shipped 14% of post-1991 CNE. Note that "Cowboy Integration" (Annual Net Exports at Peak X Number of Years to zero Net Exports X 0.5) would be 2,130 mb, versus the actual value of 2,090 mb. The 12 year estimate is based on extrapolating the 1991 to 1994 rate of increase in their C/P ratio.

I have conceded the point that once a country starts showing an increasing C/P ratio, it's not an absolute certainty of course that we can predict what their C/P ratio will be in 10 to 20 years*, but I do think that the larger group that we have that is showing an increasing C/P ratio, the more likely it is that the group is following in the paths of former net oil exporters like Indonesia, et al.

Having said that, Saudi Arabia's C/P ratio increased from 18% in 2005 to 22% in 2008. If we extrapolate this rate of increase, they would be at 27% in 2011. My estimate for the 2011 Saudi C/P ratio ranges from 27% to 28.5%. In any case, extrapolating the 2005 to 2008 rate of increase suggests that Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports around 2030, which is consistent with Sam Foucher's modeling.

Based on the model and several case histories, Saudi Arabia may have shipped about half of their post-2005 CNE by the end of next year. 2013.

And extrapolating the global numbers suggests that the top 33 net oil exporters may have shipped half of their post-2005 CNE by the end of 2020.

And extrapolating Chindia's combined net imports as a percentage of GNE suggests that half of post-2005 CANE (Cumulative Available Net Exports) may have been shipped by the end of next year, 2013.

*Saudi Arabia showed a large increase in their C/P ratio from 1980 to 1985, but this corresponded to falling oil prices, as the Saudis cut production, trying to prop up oil prices, until they increased production in 1986, in order to regain market share.

We went bowling tonight with my wife's work crew; the first time in 26 years for me. Bowled 217 in my third game...my shoulder hurts; elbow; wrist...

One girl (actually in her late twenties) was a bit peak oil aware and somewhat in tune to the implications. She was very interested in the effects that GNE/ANE will have on global oil availability, and when I told her that when these oil giants we rely on cease being net exporters they invariably become net importers because their economies have become locked into an increasing consumption meme. This changes everything. These suppliers become competitors for the lifeblood of growth. Having a strong mathmatical background, she got it immediately.

It's a simple thing, really, that most people just don't get. Her realization, merely the result of casual conversation, may have been better than my bowling over 200 after 26 years. Another convert it seems...

A congressman (talking about the budget) on CNBC last week said that there were two types of politicians in D.C., those who did the math and those who live in a math-free fantasy land. That's pretty much true for most people.

Incidentally, as noted above, the following observation was a little surprising to me, to-wit, the last three years of Saudi data are pretty much what one would have expected from projecting the 2005 to 2008 data (in regard to consumption to production ratios):

Saudi Arabia's C/P ratio increased from 18% in 2005 to 22% in 2008. If we extrapolate this rate of increase, they would be at 27% in 2011. My estimate for the 2011 Saudi C/P ratio ranges from 27% to 28.5%. In any case, extrapolating the 2005 to 2008 rate of increase suggests that Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports around 2030, which is consistent with Sam Foucher's modeling.

Regional models expect drier, stormier western United States

As American southwestern states struggle against ongoing drought, and the Northwest braces for a projected shift from a snow- to a rain-dominated hydrological system, climate researchers strive to provide precipitation projections that are fine grained enough to be of value to municipal water managers.

Estimates derived from large general circulation models show that in a warming world, water availability in the western United States will be increasingly dictated by extreme events.

... not very good farming weather

A Message From a Republican Meteorologist on Climate Change

... It's ironic. The root of the word conservative is "conserve". A staunch Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, set aside vast swaths of America for our National Parks System, the envy of the world. Another Republican, Richard Nixon, launched the EPA. Now some in my party believe the EPA and all those silly "global warming alarmists" are going to get in the way of drilling and mining our way to prosperity. Well, we have good reason to be alarmed.

Found on the bottom of the page of the article you linked:

a link to a somewhat related article: Living on Planet Duggar:


On Planet D there's no such thing as overpopulation. The world has infinite space and, more importantly, infinite resources. News of the planet's existence only came to public attention when Michelle Duggar did a web interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network this week. In the interview she disclosed that the world she's living on does not suffer from overpopulation. She further indicated that on Planet D having more children always equals "more joy." Although she did not elaborate, hunger and extreme poverty apparently do not exist on Planet D. Nor do such things as climate change and water scarcity.

Another article regarding the same interview:


"The idea of overpopulation is not accurate," Duggar says, because the entire population of the world could fit inside of Jacksonville, Florida.

"I agree with Mother Teresa when she said, 'to say that there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers,'" Duggar said. (...) So instead of being "deceived" by the idea of overpopulation, "we need to focus on loving people and trying to reach out and make a difference for good in our world,"

I don't know what to say...Mom said if I can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

Edit: I am going to enjoy the great outdoors, but I wonder if some analytical TOD-ster could attempt to do the math on how ~ 7B + people can fit in Jacksonville, FL, even on a very temporary basis...assume transportation to and fro is a 'given' (majic). Does Jacksonville have TARDIS-like capabilities?


(One wife for 23 years, two children...my mother and father raised me and my brother. Two to replace two.)

It's crazy. Perhaps they could learn some math and see how long it would take to cover the entire landmass with people if every family had 20 kids? But that is just the reductio ad absurdum way of attacking the argument. Realistically, everyone needs many acres of farmland to feed them.

But the real scary thing is the fact that humans are basically using oil like agar in a petri dish. That oil has fueled rapid growth . . . but when happens when hit the end of the dish? We are very fortunate that peak oil is a real concept that since that will force us to cut back on growth in a gradual manner.

Jacksonville, FL/Duval County. Consolidated City-County so the city is the county.

885 sq miles = 24,672,384,000 sq ft

World population = ~7,000,000,000

24,672,384,000/7,000,000,000 = ~3.5 sq ft/person

They'll fit if they're not all fat Americans.

How many air exchanges per hour would we need if they were in a single-story building?

On average a human consumes about 29g of O2 per hour, and we can use only about 1% of the air without depleting the O2 content of the room to unsafe levels or increasing the CO2 content of the room above safe levels. For convenience we neglect the concentration difference between weight and volume and round consumption to 32g (or about 1mol per hour). So we need 100mols of gas exchange per human per hour. At 22.4L/mol, that's 2240L per hour per human, or 2.24 cu. meters. Assuming an 8' ceiling and 3.5 square feet per person we need about 3 air exchanges per hour just to keep from asphyxiating. Assuming air is exhausted thru the ceiling and drawn in from a circular perimeter, this would require a 5km/h forced breeze from the entire perimeter. Note that this is less than 10% of the ASHRAE recommended minimum ventilation levels per person.

sounds like the mass of people, with their thermal and humidity emissions, might create their very own supercell over Jacksonville...

Oops, there was a math error somewhere in there, I'm off by a factor of ten or so, it'd take about a 50km/h forced draft. If we reduce the density to give each person 350 square feet of space, by creating a 100 story structure, and use half the perimeter for exhaust, we can get back to my original inadequate (less than 10% of ASHRAE levels for a sedentary environment) with a 5km/h forced cross draft.

This forum is great...someone has the math!

22.44 inches x 22.44 inches (3.5 sq feet)...that is pretty tight!

A quick search leads me to the provisional guess that the average human body radiates ~ 100 Wh while standing upright but not moving much/exercising...


...so Jacksonville would receive a thermal boost of ~ 700 Billion Watt-hours?

say about 1.5 L/day of urine and ~ .5 lbs/day of feces...better have a lot of porta-johns...

Edit: Hey wait, we can make a movie where intelligent machines evolve and enslave humanity in giant buildings to harvest their thermal energy, while feeding them with tubes and tricking them to believe they are living their normal lives by wiring their brains to a big simulation...

At my inadequate level of air exchange, air temperature would increase by about 32 degrees C over ambient, which in Jacksonville in the summer would be up to about 162 F, so we'd have to increase the fan speed a bit or add some water flow. I keep thinking about battery hens for some reason?

What to say...what to say?...Hmmmm

Well Hitchen's view on Mother Theresa works for me.....

"Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”
― Christopher Hitchens

And Duggar is probably coddled in her own life and completely delusional about the real world.

If you packed all humans into a cube, -it would be less than a kilometer on a side. But that would kill the bunch of um! Next attempt, make it two meters high (just one standing layer high, but densely packed like sardines): a few hundred square kilometers -the surface area of a large city. I still don't think thats survivable either. And if you need to be able to bring if food and water, and remove waste, it would take a lot more space.

Something to look forward to.....:-{

...somewhere between 1 Trillion and 1.5T pounds of people....

See: Soylent Green

Also see: Isaac Asimov's short non-fiction article: Fecundity Unlimited
[Article, Isaac Asimov, Venture Science. Fiction, January, 1958]

Asimov played the Reductio ad absurdum game to the max to by demonstrating that humanity, with the stipulated majic assumption he used, and given a rather low population increase rate per year, would convert every atom in the known Universe to human flesh somewhere in the 11,000 CE time frame.

I really wish I kept that book...one of numerous collections of his articles...I have not been able to find the article on the Internets over the past few years...his estate is very good at protecting his works I guess..

Pumping 2.5 million ac-ft of seawater per DAY thru the city would stabilize the temperature within a few degrees C.

Citizens complain about taxes as it is now.

How big would be the city tax on the energy price to run such a system? I speculate it would be a very high cost.

Want to know the true weight of a lot of people? I was with some friends on the Golden Gate Bridge for its 50th anniversary in 1987. They closed the bridge to traffic and people jammed the walkways and lanes. Looking from one of the towers you could see the deck had gone from its usual upwardly arched shape to completely flattened.

Someone started playing a boombox with a latin rythum near the South tower. People were moving to the rythum and the vertical cables made a sound not too different from piano wire as some remained straight while others bowed, meaning the weight was transferring to fewer vertical cables. It actually made a very strange boing type metallic sound as they snapped straight after bowing. The motion of the people started to cause a wavelike energy that was undulating the deck. Ought of a sudden people (including myself) started yelling, "Turn off the music and stop moving!!!" It was an interesting moment because it was an opportunity to observe people responding in unison. The music was turned off and everyone stopped moving, then slowly the undulations dissapated and the vertical cables went back to the all straight mode. It really felt like if there hadn't been a quick response, the whole thing could have started ripping apart.

When John Lennon died, I went to the Century City Plaza twin Towers in Los Angeles for an evening memorial. At the ABC entertainment center, there was DJ led ra-ra-ra... but folk had also gathered on and around a raised circular lawn, closer to and between the towers. There were guitars and song and the big group drifted into into a rousing, foot-stomping rendition of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". Soon enough, knees were buckling and some of the people were losing their balance and the song suddenly dwindled away: the whole sheet of concrete (unknown to most to be suspended over an underground parking facility), the raised circular lawn, and all the people on them were moving up and down several inches.

I have not confirmed this myself - it's likely no longer possible, due to changes in traffic patterns. But an engineer I know in NYC, who grew up there, says that when he was 5 years old, he used to go out to the Brooklyn Bridge Sunday mornings, stand in the middle of it, and jump up and down. He weighed maybe 40 lbs. at the time, but he could make the whole bridge undulate.

Nicola Tesla apparently calculated the resonant freq of the Br.or Manhattan Bridge, and connected a ticker-box to one of the supports, letting it build up the vibrations long enough to prove the theory, but not long enough to destroy the bridge..

There was also Asimov's friend Arthur C Clarke who wrote Standing Room Only for Harpers in 1958

If you packed all humans into a cube you couldn't get a word in edgewise.

Thank you! Hee Haw needed.

The quiverfull movement has a fantasy image of the past in which large families were universal. But large families have always been rare. In traditional agrarian societies people have on average 5-6 children. However with the high death rate from disease only around half of those would survive to adulthood. So the average family size was actually 2-3 children, just enough to ensure stability with a very small increase. So the idea that people usually had huge families to "support them in their old age" or "help work the land" is nonsense. They'd run out of arable land within a few generations.

Saudi meeting, Iran sanctions coincidence, U.S. official says

President Barack Obama's Friday announcement that the U.S. will implement sanctions that could significantly cut sales of Iranian oil was not tied to a meeting the same day between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Saudi King Abdullah, a senior administration official told CNN.

... that the meeting and announcement came on the same day was "coincidental," the official said.

... If Saudi Arabia has to increase its production to cover Iran's oil, it would leave a razor-thin margin to cover for any other disruptions

and Why Gas Prices Are Out of Any President’s Control

Teachers Clearinghouse for Science and Society Education Newsletter Fall 2011


Third, and most ominously, an argument from geological history: Two excellent books – James Hansen's Storms of my Grandchildren and Bryan Lovell's Challenged by Carbon – have emphasized the relevance of the "Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum" (PETM) to the recent warming. The PETM is a global temperature rise of 8 degrees occurring 55 million years ago that ended the Paleocene geological era and initiated the Eocene era. Studies of underwater rock layers show that the PETM was caused by 1000 billion tons of carbon released from the ocean floor into the atmosphere. This natural, but geologically unique, release was probably triggered by a slight natural warming of a portion of the ocean that in turn warmed the methane-containing ices that can form on the ocean floor. This would cause the ices to suddenly emit their methane (a greenhouse gas), which entered, and warmed, the atmosphere. This caused the release of CO2, just as a warmed carbonated drink emits CO2 bubbles, causing further warming, in a vicious circle.

Today we're well on the way to a repeat of the PETM event, caused this time by humans. Since 1900 AD, we have managed to inject 300 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. That's one-third of the way toward the level that caused the PETM. Under business as usual, we will have injected the amount that caused the PETM by 2100. But long before then, warming could melt the methane ices residing on the ocean floor, initiating the vicious circle that triggered the PETM.

The PETM raised ocean levels by 18 feet, acidified all the oceans, drastically changed animal life, and initiated a new and distinctively different geological age. Carbon dioxide levels remained significantly above normal for 170,000 years.

The Anthropocene: A century or two of fossil fueled partying, then the 170,000 year hangover.


Sounds like the Anthropocene may be a very short geological era.


It won't be an era. All of human history to date maybe comprises a stage.

Ah, what is the difference between era and stage, I am curious?


I seem to recall James Hansen, in a recent video on You Tube, making a reference to Venus, and inferring that as somehow similar to the path Earth could take above a certain global temperature rise. I think he elaborated with the use of an ice-ball planet that could at least melt and return.

If so, instead of a hangover, we could be looking at a permanent blackout for our species above a critical point that could send Earth to a runaway greenhouse effect.