Drumbeat: May 12, 2012

WSJ: 'Undisclosed' Chesapeake debt looms

A US report contends that the embattled Chesapeake Energy has “previously unreported liabilities” summing to $1.4 billion resulting from a programme that allowed it to exchange future oil and gas production for cash up front.

The Wall Street Journal analysed 10 of the company’s Volumetric Production Payment agreements and projected that the costs associated with the arrangements was far higher than $600 million over 10 years previously estimated.

Chesapeake wins breathing space with $3 bln loan

(Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy Corp said it had received a $3 billion loan from Goldman Sachs and Jeffries Group that will give it breathing room to sell assets and close a funding gap this year.

The company, which has been embroiled in a corporate governance crisis that prompted its move to replace co-founder Aubrey McClendon as chairman, said the new unsecured loan will be used to repay money borrowed under its existing $4 billion revolving credit facility.

Report: Pickens sells shares in Chesapeake Energy

Billionaire and former oil magnate T. Boone Pickens’s investment firm has reportedly sold more than half a million shares in Chesapeake Energy, the embattled natural-gas company.

Oil price declines on slower China growth

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil fell Friday after reports that China's economy appears to be slowing down.

China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, reported a sharp decline in both investment and industrial production growth in April. A slowdown in China could push oil consumption — and prices — lower this year.

Higher Oil Futures Margins May Boost Volatility, IEA Says

Rising margin requirements in oil futures trading may increase volatility and concentrate market share in the hands of large speculators, the International Energy Agency said.

The Obama administration proposed rules on April 17 to strengthen the oversight of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to give it authority to raise margin requirements in oil futures trading.

Essar Oil Reports Quarterly Loss as Refining Margins Shrink

Essar Oil Ltd. (ESOIL), the operator of India’s second-biggest non-state refinery, posted a loss for the third straight quarter after earnings from turning crude into fuels declined.

China returns to Iranian North Pars while problems remain at South Pars

The China National Offshore Oil Corp (SINOC) has announced readiness to restart working on development of Iran's North Pars gas field five years after Iran threatened to cancel the contract due to the Chinese company's repeated delays, the ISNA News Agency said in a report on Monday.

Venezuela's PDVSA confirms $3 billion bond

The issue is Venezuela's first of the year and might kickstart further borrowing to help President Hugo Chavez boost public spending ahead of an October election.

In recent years, PDVSA has enjoyed growing profits thanks to high global oil prices, but has also issued record amounts of debt to cover its own operating budget, transfers to central government, and heavy spending on social programs.

Nigeria power privatisation winners named in October

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's privatisation body said on Saturday the preferred bidders for state power assets would be announced in October, hoping to alleviate chronic electricity shortages holding back Africa's second biggest economy.

Nigeria plans to sell off 11 distribution and 6 generation companies as part of plans to privatise a power sector rife with inefficiency and corruption.

Gas' gain could be coal's loss

The coal industry, which employs thousands of Ohioans, has long been assailed by environmentalists as the fossil of fossil fuels -- primitive, dying off and unable to adapt to a world more conscious of its carbon footprint.

Now it faces pressure from a competitor, natural gas, which is cutting into coal's most important customer base, utility companies.

Shale gas to put South Australia on front foot as global energy superpower

"As recently as 2006, US natural gas production was in decline but drilling technology advances have allowed US companies to commercialise gas found in deep shales, which has caused the country's gas production to rise sharply," he said.

"Natural gas from shale is now the fastest-growing contributor to total primary energy in the US. Only a few years ago, the US was planning to import gas from other countries but now it is building major liquified natural gas terminals to export its oversupply of shale gas.

"The SA shale industry is still in the early stages of development but many people think the state is very well positioned to capitalise upon its shale gas resources on a large scale."

Fracking reaches point-of-no-return for EU legislators

What the issue boils down to in Europe is that there is no consistent line taken since there is plenty of unknowns. However, what is needed is a process that properly includes citizens and communities in decision-making related to shale gas, shale oil or coal bed methane. HEAL endorses free and fully-informed consent of local communities which is not applied for most fracking projects prior to both exploration and exploitation phases, while they should be placed at the heart of the discussions.

Researcher questions impartiality of industry-backed oilsands education program

EDMONTON - An industry-funded program that offers high school teachers a six-day trip to Fort McMurray to "experience Alberta's oilsands" is being expanded across the country.

While the operators of Inside Education say they work hard to ensure their programming offers plenty of balance, others say informing educators about controversial developments shouldn't be left to those with most to gain from them.

Local Author Predicts Strong Future For Energy Resources

Jay Warmke of Blue Rock Station said he wrote the book, When The Biomass Hits The Wind Turbine, because he believes there are more energy resources available than the average person recognizes.

"I hate to be the one to break it to you, but we've gone past peak oil, we've gone past peak coal, we've gone past peak natural gas, and what that means is that half of all of the supplies on this planet has been used up, and that's the easy half," he said. "I'm always struck at how people feel hopeless. Everything has been used up and they have no hope, and I wanted to do some research to see [if this was] the case."

Gill Tract Farm Essential for Post-Peak Oil Food Security

Without food, we cannot survive and without local farms to grow and supply food in a post-peak oil world, the costs associated with traditional long-distance, oil-reliant food production will continue to soar and become unsustainable.

At the heart of the dispute over the Gill Tract, a 10-acre plot of Class-1 agricultural soil in Albany owned by UC Berkeley and currently being occupied by as many as two-dozen farmers, is a grassroots movement to ensure local food sovereignty, sustainability and security.

A Higher Price Tag for a Nuclear Project

The flagship project of a hoped-for but not-yet-realized “nuclear renaissance,” the Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors under construction near Augusta, Ga., may cost about $900 million more than had been estimated, the Southern Company said in a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Battery maker A123 Systems expects a first-quarter loss of $125 million

Battery maker A123 Systems expects a first-quarter loss of $125 million, reflecting weak demand for electric vehicles and a recall of potentially defective batteries.

Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy

A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.

Now a confidential strategy memo seen by the Guardian advises using "subversion" to build a national movement of wind farm protesters.

Cracking the Smart Energy Market

Research from several pilot projects has shown that people who use these types of devices are saving money on their monthly bills, in some cases up to 20 percent.

Yet despite the upbeat prediction from Parks Associates, consumer response has been mostly lukewarm, according to Neil Strother, an analyst with Pike Research. He said that fewer than 1 percent of homes in North America had installed some form of in-home energy management system by the end of 2011.

A meeting of minds on a sustainable future?

The unresolved issue remains whether the focus should be on critical changes that governments, largely in developing countries, will need to make to convince investors that aligning asset allocation with the green economy will provide superior risk-adjusted returns 'business as usual'. Or, whether there will be agreement to modify longer-term trends in production and consumption patterns to recognise ecological limits of natural resource use.

California and Quebec Near an Agreement for Trading of Carbon Permits

SAN FRANCISCO — California and Quebec moved to knit together their fledgling carbon markets on Wednesday as California proposed a new regulation allowing cross-border trading of the permits that industries must acquire to cover their emissions of greenhouse gases.

Climate clash: Corporate giants caught as groups skirmish

Some corporate giants are caught in the middle of a battle between a think tank skeptical of manmade global warming and an environmental group that it is trying to undermine its financial health.

'We Are Losing the Planet'

The environmental movement is losing momentum and governments around the world are ignoring their responsibility for slowing climate change. Greenpeace head Kumi Naidoo, however, remains optimistic. In an interview, he explains his new vision for a sustainable world -- and how the pope can help.

Re: Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy

It's difficult to grasp the mind set of a group of people who are so greedy that they would actively campaign to destroy what's left of Eaarth's Life Support Systems. Yet, here we see a PR campaign which would be directed at destruction of any effort to address AGW and climate change thru the use of one form of renewable energy.

Opposing Obama's energy policies was a natural fit for conservatives, said Marita Noon, a conservative activist from New Mexico who was at the meeting. "The American way, what made CostCo and Walmart a success, is to use more and pay less. That's the American way," The president's green policies however were the reverse, she said.

"President Obama wants us to pay more and use less."

These people are stunningly stupid...

E. Swanson

These people are stunningly stupid...

The problem is that even high IQ people think this way. I would put it as lacking a deep understanding of what's important and what's not.

There was a link in the story to a recent commentary by George Monbiot:

How Ayn Rand became the new right's version of Marx

I think that he explains the present Tea Party phenomena rather well.

Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged.

E. Swanson

They've got it all wrong.

The real 'Atlas Shrugged' will be when farmers say 'F-U' to Goldman Sachs, commodities markets, and bankers and start giving away the best food (tax-deductible donation, you know), and sell the rest at twice the price.

George Monbiot's article was oversimplifying Rand's work and opinions in a rather disingenuous way. I doubt that 1/3 of American's have ever read Atlas Shrugged (where did that come from?) and I doubt many on the right thoroughly understand Rand's work.

For those on the left that have read Atlas Shrugged how many disagree with her portrayal of the evils of Crony Capitalism? When big business fails to be prudent and fall to the temptation of true greed they turn to government for a bail out. Rand was against that, was she wrong? The left and the old right seem to be torn on stimulus and bailouts for big business. Occupy wallstreet and the tea party have it right on that issue and so did Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand (rhymes with "I'm Grand") seems to pop up on this list pretty often. It's been a long time since I read her books (all of them) so I'm working from old memory. Her characters are pure stereotype and her writing is mediocre at best.

She extolled the virtues of the 'Captains of Industry' and, not surprisingly, those in the position of being considered 'Captains' tend to identify with her characters and love her work. But to be a follower and fan of her work requires that one subscribe to the basic cornucopian mind-set, ala Julian Simon or Alan Greenspan etc. She was certainly not an environmentalist, any more than Julian Simon was. And she can be understood as much for what she leaves out in her view of the world as what she paints her portrayals of. How did major industries gain control of the natural resources that they exploit? This is really the 'crony capitalism she should have pointed at. Who, in the beginning, has the 'right' to the land and its resources? She implicitly and totally denies the interdependence that ties humanity together and ties humanity to its finite planet.

Would Rand have taken the side of Occupy Wall Street? I seriously doubt it.
Would Rand have decried the pollution that industry pumps into the air, land and water? I seriously doubt it.
Would Rand have decried the over-exploitation of finite resources? I seriously doubt it.
Would Rand have taken the side of a union, even in the face of obvious malfeasance and oppression by corporate management? I seriously doubt it.

The only significant thing that she got right was her portrayal of the kind of oppression of the human spirit that can be brought about by a government. She significantly ignores the fact that a government is not the only organization that can oppress the human spirit, but so are the very corporate organizations she extolls.

I give her two thumbs down.

Its been many years since I've read Ayn Rand and I, too, read all of her fiction. What I mostly remember that even as a twenty-something I thought she was seriously shallow. As you say every character was a caricature.

I thought her semi-autobiographical novel "We the Living" explained a lot. She had been born in Russia. The revolution was tough on her, therefore she hated anything bordering on socialism. She had a lot in common with Edward Teller the "father of the hydrogen bomb". He hated the Russians so much that he was willing to fake his analysis showing the possiblity to build the "super" and was eager to destroy the career of Oppenheimer because Oppenheimer had concluded that the nuclear weapons were immoral. Teller was the model for Dr. Strangelove.

Rand feared emotions and used hyper-rationality as a defense. Her love scene reads like a rape scene by today's standards.

I read "The Virtue of Selfishness" and some of Rand's "Objectivist" philosophy.
The flaws in this approach are quite obvious - babies would never survive unless their parents take care of them. Humans are essentially tribal/social creatures not solitary and their greatest achievements in language, communication, science, the arts etc are all made possible by our social nature.
Then there is so-called "Libertarianism" which claims to be the promotion of liberties but is actually the promotion of property which should be called "Propertarianism". This is the flaw with Ron Paul and his ilk to conflate property rights with human rights or liberty. In fact property rights are the denial of liberty as when fences are erected on public beaches preventing the rest of the public outside of the "owner" the freedom to walk or enjoy the beach. If we take the logic of Propertarianism as preached by the privatizers to its logical extreme then we would be back to the days of the "King's Land" when ALL land was not free because it was owned by the King. The modern day neo-liberal hedgefund operators are out to do just this- privatize ALL commonly held, free to the public institutions and make them their own fiefdoms of control and profit. This is what happened with the privately owned Malls which replaced public Town Squares all over sprawl USA. When is the last time you saw a protest in a Mall? You do not because it is claimed to be "privately owned" although it masquerades as a public space. The same thing has largely happened to the public airwaves which are now controlled for profit by vast private Corporations. And that is what the hedgefund vultures want to do to public schools - make them privatized Charter schools with no union worker rights or give public moneys to exclusive wealthy private schools rather than publicly owned and at least somewhat democratically controlled schools.
US public schools were the first in the world open to all citizens and provision was made as early as the Northwest Ordinance Act of 1787 for parcels of land for public schools for citizen's education.
In 2006 Bush and the Republicans planted a timebomb in the US Post Office founded by Benjamin Franklin to destroy another public institution by making them pay for
pension and retirement benefits for 30 years in advance for workers they do not even have yet. Of course the US Post Office is also forced to deliver literally tons of junk mail which just gets thrown away and wastes acres of trees at below cost to subsidize advertisers. Fedex and UPS have no such mandate.

Of course this is the whole point of Austerity in Europe is to destroy European people's rights, benefits and public institutions so they can be privatized and the profits sent to the 1%. Fortunately Greece, France and now the latest German elections show the European 99% are not going to put up with it.

Not only that, they've privatized the military as well. That started when Nixon killed the draft, because he almost had a revolution on his watch. Just another example of "The Shock Doctrine"...

E. Swanson

If we take the logic of Propertarianism as preached by the privatizers to its logical extreme then we would be back to the days of the "King's Land" when ALL land was not free because it was owned by the King.

And yet...that did work to protect the environment, to some extent. Of course from our view, Robin Hood was the hero...but if all the peasants were allowed to hunt and cut firewood, there would soon be nothing left of the forest.

No, I'm not pining for the days of feudalism. But I do wonder if democracy is compatible with sustainability. Jared Diamond points out in Collapse that grassroots/local control works in some situations, "top down" central control works in others, and in some situations, neither works - achieving sustainability is impossible. He suggests that a large society with weak central control is one of those situations where achieving sustainability is impossible.

He also points out that a king has incentive for sustainable practices. He gets his wealth from his kingdom, and his children will inherit it. That left me wondering...in a democracy, where your position may be temporary and your children probably won't inherit it...doesn't that give you incentive to loot what you can, while you can, rather than aiming for sustainability?

In essence what you're saying is that the sum of individual interests is not the common interest.
From what I can see (obviously a very narrow view on the world) an "enlightened dictatorship like what you have in Singapore may work decently. No, Government involvement is extensive and some people may think it's over the top (for example, to use a car you have to buy a 10 year permit to own a certain class of car and then buy the car itself. Often the license is more expensive than the car itself) but I think the whole point is exactly that - You can’t get everything you want - which is the crux of limits such as resources. You need a population though who understands this and is ok with limits. Somewhat similarly in Europe gas/petrol is much more heavily taxed and the consumers know this. Actually, in some countries the breakdown of gas costs are put on the pump itself - there is no attempt to hide that a large part of the expense is tax - a demand inhibitor. But most people understand that there is a limit to the number of cars and the amount of pollution which "should" be produced and are grudgingly ok with it.


Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged.

I doubt this. One third of Americans may have *tried* to read Atlas Shrugged, but got only a bit into it. It's a very slow read - each circumstance takes aeons to develop, and I recall having great patience while reading the thick tome through a summer. The very last fifth of it is a dry, dry undertaking where Rand pontificates and goes on, and on about her damned Objectivism - I almost gave it up but persevered.

I tried to read it again about ten years after the first time, and got about halfway before I realized I had better things to do with my time - it's so ploddingly slow when one already knows what's to happen the anticipation kills whatever enjoyment there might be.

I take issue with any poll who asks people if they've read something.

Rand's books are something that the crazy Uncle buys the 17 year old niece or nephew for graduation or something the book clubs spam purchase and use as the bait for bait and switch auto-billing.

Most Rand readers are either under 21, unemployed, both, or are firmly in the neo-liberal privatopia camp.

We do have to admit though, the neo-liberals have been winning since about 1968/69 in the US and made serious inroads into democracy elsewhre. I'd say they're still winning elections today. So there's that.

I often wonder, what is it that separates us on TOD from the "normal" people? I know a lot of very intelligent people who do not subscribe to the idea of limits to growth, at least not in the near term. The most common response that comes to mind when people are presented with the concept of Peak Oil is "Meh, somebody will figure something out, nothing to worry about."

On reading tales of bereavement that turn up here from time to time, I think it could be that some of us have experienced tragedies in our lives that reinforce the acceptance that $#!+ happens. I have lost a very good friend, a parent and a sibling in the last 12 years so, I am well aware that the hand that life deals you is often not the one you want. That does not explain the folks who have not been traumatized by tragedy but, readily accept the idea of Peak Oil.

In addition, when growing up I often had to do without things that other kids took for granted since my parents were teachers and it seems money was always tight. At the pinnacle of his career my Dad bought his first new car which turned out to be a lemon. Things just didn't always go right so, I learned to accept life as it is, not how I dream it might be. That's my story but I always wonder what it is that makes the rest of you guys and gals NOT go with the "normal" people.

By the way, when I listen to denialists, my main thought is that "these people are crazy".

Alan from the islands

Perhaps the ability to form realistic projection of the future from current conditions and trends? There's a matter of knowledge for sure, and some amount of intelligence required but I suspect that beyond that, most of us here are above average at planning ahead.

I'm not so sure about the "above average at planning ahead" angle. My first job out of college was at the local IBM office and I used to be amazed when I attended annual staff meetings and the managers would trot out their projections for the next year and sometimes even longer. When a major economic contraction made a laughing stock of the projections, I remember thinking on occasion something along the lines of "that's what you projected last year and that didn't work out so well". Same thing for national budgets when tax receipts don't match projections or tourism doesn't meet it's numbers or commodity prices collapse.

Now that I'm self employed, I realize that there is usually some amount of continuity of earnings. I resigned from my last job when I realized that, I had made about twice my monthly retainer on the 9-5 in one weekend, giving me some confidence that by the time I ran out of money I would have had more than enough opportunities to earn enough to tide me over to the next paycheck. So far, after more than 10 years my head's still above the water but, there are trying times and I always have a nagging feeling that competition in my field could intensify, which it has. I also worry that the economy could go south, as it has and I am now seeing signs that energy prices are bitting really hard into budgets.

As a result of these feelings, I am never comfortable making detailed, long term plans. I have vague plans to try and carve out a new niche for my current business that, presents a higher barrier to entry for my competitors and to start a whole new business offering energy audits and renewable energy systems on my island. This is all driven by a lack of confidence in BAU, that feeling that I can't expect everything to continue as it has in the past, a sort of anticipation of change, maybe disruptive change. I know that the knowledge of Peak Oil is driving these thoughts but, I see others making similar moves and wonder what motivates them. Many times I get the impression that, they see a downturn in business and see other opportunities to make pot loads of money, not a matter of surviving the decline in world oil production.

Maybe we all have the ability to look at the bigger picture, to connect the dots, to see the forest as well as the trees.

Alan from the islands

It´s very simple. The difference between TOD readers and normal people are how they are thinking.
TOD readers are thinking logical.
Normal people are thinking with feelings.

To see ball games makes you happy. When you are being happy, it´s must be right. Ball games are the correct future.
It´s the ball game that saves the world.

To hear about peak oil and rising energy price makes you sad. When you are being sad, it´s must be wrong. So peak oil is wrong.


You wrote:

It´s very simple. The difference between TOD readers and normal people are how they are thinking.
TOD readers are thinking logical.
Normal people are thinking with feelings.

Some notable researchers have pointed out:

Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious - what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can't even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

That applies to all of us, as does this:

So some of the key interconnections of the amygdala — and these connections actually define what it does in a sense, at least with respect to fear — the amygdala gets sensory information directly from the various sensory systems that process the external world. So the visual system, the auditory system, olfactory, touch, pain, and so forth. All of these kind of come together, or converge, in the amygdala.

(Toxic Bridge To Everywhere). This does not explain why we talk about "survival of the fittest" as we edge closer to destroying everything that is fit on this planet, but it does point out how late it is.

It´s very simple. The difference between TOD readers and normal people are how they are thinking.
TOD readers are thinking logical.
Normal people are thinking with feelings.

Chance favors the prepared mind. We can see that oil wells peak and fall, oil fields peak and fall, and oil producing nations have peaked and fallen. When I read the argument and saw the graphs, I thought and felt-- Oh, yes, the Central Limit Theorem argument. Obviously correct.

Jon from Virginia,

"Chance favors the prepared mind."

It is not an issue of chance, it is an issue of we have no chance if we keep pushing this envelope.

Saving oneself is like the captain of the cruise ship who left everyone on board to save himself.

At this point in time we must all think for all of us or there will be no significant amount of us left to play the games of chance.

Dredd, the original question was

I often wonder, what is it that separates us on TOD from the "normal" people?

and I disagreed mildly with Aladdin, who said

It´s very simple. The difference between TOD readers and normal people are how they are thinking.
TOD readers are thinking logical.
Normal people are thinking with feelings.

We're at TOD because we were prepared to hear, not because we are better than others.
I was replying to Aladdin's post, not yours. I believe we're arguing about agreeing...

Thank you all for replying to my logical explanation. It's something I've thought a lot about.

If you think about everything you do or think. And set up your own rules and values:
Is it important or unimportant. Good or bad. ETC.
I think this might make us think a little more logic.

Tonight I thought about the double standards in politics.

To save the environment, you must pay environmental taxes.
You pay the environmental tax and doing well. You've done something good for the environment.

When your car is 5 years old, you get a scrapping premium for your clunker ...
You get cash for your old car and doing well.

You buy a new car and the eco-premium for your eco-friendly car.
You feel good for your new eco-friendly car and your environmental premium.

And you go and vote for your eco-friendly politicians.

But it is you who have paid for your environment Premium with your eco-taxes ...

The most environmentally friendly must be to have such a long life cycle of the car as possible.
If you have your car in 10 years instead of 5 years. Car production could be halved.
If you have your car in 20 years instead of 5 years. Car production could be quarted.

And if you do not NEED to have any car....
Railcars frequently last for decades carrying thousands of riders :-)

30 to 40 years depending on the type.

The EMUs speced by Ed Tennyson for SEPTA 43 years ago are now scheduled to be replaced. According to him, they could be rebuilt and get another 15 to 20 years out of him.

We operate a fleet of streetcars in New Orleans, all build in 1923 and 1924 (St. Charles Line).

Best Hopes for Durable Rolling Stock and Infrastructure,


People just don't have the time, especially if they are trying to raise a family or climb the social ladder.

I personally had alot of time on my hands just as the 2008 crash was developing, which was fortuitous for me because it enabled me to read and put the pieces together.

I consider my life since then to be markedly different than what it was before. I've given up on alot of things. Now, if I consider something not to be worthwhile, I waste zero, absolutely zero time, money, or effort on it. I'm no longer a "yes to everything" American.

On the other hand, I'm actively doing other things which I would never have contemplated doing before. I'm going to go down fighting.

This is true even when "normal" intelligent people are presented with the evidence and don't refute it.

Frankly, it's too much, I think. Subconscious blue pill.

I don't blame them.

Based on my reading of "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman who posits that the brain is composed of the fast thinking System 1 and the slower System 2. System 1 operates on what you see is what there is and will come up with the simplest "story" to fit the facts- contradictions have no place in System 1 scenarios. System 2 the slower thinking portion is what does the critical analysis and looks for the contradictions. In fact less evidence is better for System 1 since it presents fewer opportunities of contradictory evidence.

I guess most of the folks on TOD have more active System 2 than the average. My guess is that few of us will be willing to invest in a company that has story line that could make it the next Google. Nor we will most us be responsible for remarkable breakthroughs which often require taking gigantic leaps of faith on the flimsiest evidence- strength of System 1.

Although the author doesn't say this (at least not up to the point that I have read ) based on what he has said Religious Faith is IMO very much of System 1 function. It requires and enormous leap on paucity of information. If I am right then it would not be odd to see a strong co-relation between the simple views regarding resources and religious believes- which anecdotally at least we see.

I've also read that book.
Additionally, with respect to religion, I think that people are unable to grasp large periods of time in a way which resonates, say 20,000 years, and the number of mutations and adjustmenst which can take place over such a time.
There very well may be no need for a god when you take a longer perspective.

Geological time perspectives don't make sense to humans at all apparently. It appears few people are even aware we're just the 8th or so generation since the industrial revolution. Most religions today are barely 2000 years old.

I'm glad I was born into a secular family. However, I probably would've been just as glad to have been born into a conservative muslim environment. Strange how that works.

I like to think of time in terms of generations. The USA is 9.5 generations old. Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon 82 generations ago. The great pyramids were the tallest buildings in the world for ~180 generations and we don't know how they built them. If we hadn't found the Rosetta stone we might not even be able to interpret their writings.

The information loss between parent and child mandates that we be creatures of the present and recent past. Unlike sharks or bees our behavior and understanding of the world is shaped by context rather than genetics but that context is ephemeral precisely because the information content of previous generations would grow exponentially, thus exceeding our storage and comprehension capacities, if we were capable of retaining it. For better or worse we are creatures of the present with short memories.

Excelent point.

We're hard wired to worry more about the tiger in the grass or the wolf in the woods than we are about the volcano seeping lava or the glacier moving our way.

Those are early man's problems! That's got to evolve into some common line of thinking that puts an end to our appetite for destruction. Eh?

I like the fast and slow argument.
I heard a nice puzzle recently, it's
a baseball story but it works OK for
cricket too, both very slow games.

You buy a bat and a ball for $110.
The bat cost $100 more than the ball.
How much was the ball?

Fast answer is almost always the wrong one.

One thing to learn in modeling is to always express the problems mathematically.

$110 = Ball + Bat
Bat = $100 + Ball

substitute the second in the first

$110 = Ball + $100 + Ball

or Ball = $10/2 = $5

Never be embarrassed by putting a pen to paper. That's how we solve problems.
A wrong answer arrived at quickly is still wrong.



This is the perfect example as to why I suggested the other day that teaching basic arithmetic, algebra and critical thinking skills is more important than ever. If one doesn't have that background it becomes very difficult to translate the English word problem into a simple mathematical equation which allows one to quickly and correctly solve it.

Daniel Kahneman's, insights notwithstanding >;^)



Doing maths->finances->buying on intuition is suicidal. Especially when everything you buy is set up and advertised to deliberately trick your intution.

Ooh, "two for one" on something i don't need. I'm SAVING money by buying it!!1!

As they say: "An elephant for a dime, is only a good deal, if you have a dime to spare and you 'NEED' an elephant!"

People overlook or forget how unique the post-WW2 world is.

Before 1945, horrendously bad things used happen on a regular basis in the developed world, such as epidemic disease or war.

The post-WW2 world has enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity unprecendented in world history due to the confluence of:

1. modern medicine (such as antibiotics and vaccines)
2. technology (such as the transistor)
3. extensive exploitation of fossil fuels (especially Oil)
4. nuclear weapons (which have rendered unthinkable mass conflict such as WW1 or WW2)

So, in a way, it's understandable for the average person to have a complacent attitude about life since one of the rules people naturally operate on is the future will be like the past.

This is a very interesting question; what characteristics do TODers poses that everyone else lacks? If I recall correctly there was a psych profile quiz linked to a drumbeat a few years ago where TODers were consistently in a specific group that was rare for the population at large. Unfortunately I forget all the details and can't find the old post.

It would be nice to do a more thorough assessment with multiple tests and some degree of quality assurance. Perhaps SuperG can workout some framework to link results back to a TOD post. I would be personally willing to endure almost a days worth of tedious questionnaires just to see the results of a TOD profile.


INTPs are one of the rarest of personality types, only accounting for about 1–2% of the population.
"INTPs are quiet, thoughtful, analytical individuals who tend to spend long periods of time on their own, working through problems and forming solutions. They are curious about systems and how things work. Consequently, they are frequently found in careers such as science, philosophy, law, and architecture. They prize autonomy in themselves and others. They also tend to be impatient with the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies, and the politics prevalent in many professions. INTPs have little regard for titles and badges, which they often consider to be unjustified. INTPs usually come to distrust authority as hindering the uptake of novel ideas and the search for knowledge. INTPs accept ideas based on merit, rather than tradition or authority.

"INTJs are one of the rarest of the sixteen personality types, and account for about 1–4% of the population."

"INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake ... INTJs are known as the "Systems Builders" of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play ... Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel ... This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals ... Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense."

ENTPs account for about 2–5% of the population.

ENTJs are among the rarest of types, accounting for about 2–5% of those who are formally tested.


INFJ is the rarest type, accounting for 1–3% of the population.
"INFJs are conscientious and value-driven. They seek meaning in relationships, ideas, and events, with an eye toward better understanding themselves and others. Using their intuitive skills, they develop a clear and confident vision, which they then set out to execute, aiming to better the lives of others. Like their INTJ counterparts, INFJs regard problems as opportunities to design and implement creative solutions."

There are all kinds of systems that attempt to classify personality. This one was very popular. It is based on the work of Carl G. Jung.

And hybrids are much more common than pure archetypes.


Ah! It seems that I'm just a rare bird! I see several of these traits in myself includung:

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel ... This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals ... Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense."

Maybe I should read up on some of this stuff so I can better understand how and why I am different from "most people".

Alan from the islands

INTJ here. But then, I guess prevalence of introverts is expected on an internet forum.

I'm also an INTJ. I also spend a lot of time on an MBTI-INTJ forum. Initial exposure to the theory was in response to job-hunting difficulties since '07.

The knowledge and resultant understanding has been useful to me, directly and indirectly.

I used to be an ENTJ but have changed to ENFJ as I've gotten older according to company Meyers-Briggs tests...we are required to take.

I've largely stepped back from participating in TOD, though I was very active for a couple of years after I joined in 2005. The reason for this is reflected in my MBTI, which is INFP.

INFPs focus much of their energy on an inner world dominated by intense feeling and deeply held ethics. They seek an external life that is in keeping with these values. Loyal to the people and causes important to them, INFPs can quickly spot opportunities to implement their ideals. They are curious to understand those around them, and so are accepting and flexible except when their values are threatened.

In my experience TOD seems most attractive to T and J types. I was still trying to be an INTJ when I joined, since that was how my early life training was oriented. In 2007 I finally broke past some of that conditioning, and this is where I settled. As a result a psychological/philosophical gap opened up between my inner state and the TOD Zeitgeist. Looking back, I can see that my truer nature was peeking out in some of my early comments and keyposts, which might help explain some of the "hard ride" my positions encountered - although the fact that INFPs tend to be sloppy with the details might also have something to do with it.

What's interesting is that when I look back through the comment threads on those keyposts, I notice that a lot of the people who agreed with my take on things no longer post, while those who objected tend to be still around. That's not a value judgement, just an observation that TOD has particular approach that's more resonant with some people than with others.

That's an interesting observation.

I appreciate your talking about this evolution.

I hope, if this applies at all, that we keep some room here for both yin and yang energies and perspectives.

Glad you checked in. I've been thinking of taking the MB test again, and see if and where I may have shifted. I still never got a clear sense of whether I was an introvert or an extrovert.. both have strong indications in my life.


Just embrace your inner extrovert and be Bob :-0

I vannt to be alone!

After reading all the comments in this Drumbeat last night I re-tested in hopes that I am no longer INFP. Most of the people I work with likely lean INTJ, and the type of detailed work (database programming) would lend itself to that type. But, INFP it is.

That beekeeping workshop is looking better all the time :-)

INTP here. Though I have taken different tests before I had no idea about MBTI. Thanks for posting.

Very INTP, myself, although I have some out-of-preference facets on the E/I preference.

I often wonder, what is it that separates us on TOD from the "normal" people?

Seeing things in an unvarnished way. Meaning not as our lizard brain, self involved viewpoint projects how it should be for their well being (cognitive dissonance) but rather as a projection of what is to come based on data trends. Oil production worldwide hit a plateau in 05. Since then oil exports have been slowly dropping while price has been rising. It's not really hard to see it is pincering in on the economy (like CA with 16b deficit instead of 9b), but some people are very good at rowing as hard as is necessary to keep BAU rolling.

I'm of the opinion its game on as long as the disenfranchised allow the others that still have loot enough to keep things going, but once things for them degrade to some unbearable threshold, it will turn ugly and quickly become game over - tilt!

Islandboy, I'm not saying I disagree with your point of view on limits to growth, but what proof would "denialists" have more of? Since the beginning of history or even just in recent generations do people have more or less proof that we will be able to keep growing? Maybe they think we are crazy because we don't have history on our sides. People on earth have only seen growth, so why would they not rationally think it will keep going?

Heck at the pace of growth we have seen in the last 100 years how many people on Earth would have believed in 1912 that we would be where we are in 2012? Maybe we are thinking small by thinking of limits to growth on Earth, there are other planets aren't there?

I don't know the answer to what's next for humans, I'm getting ready for some tough times for many reasons, but whether it's Flintstone's or Jetson's freedom and liberty is my main concern.

You may have already read this, but this does a good job of putting space-travel into perspective.


I don't think there is any fundamental difference in "TOD folks" and others. The idea of peak oil just fits the world view of TOD'ers, and not some others, still others have no time to even think about it. TOD'ers think the same way as everyone else, most thought is subconscious and most decisions are made with System 1 the unconscious, intuitive part of the brain. We self-justify after the fact when we become consciously aware of a decision - the rational, reflective part of the brain invents reasons for why we arrived at a decision so we feel comfortable with it. This has been demonstrated in many psychology experiments.

If you are the head of a large coal corporation with large compensation package and wealth and power are very important to you, there is almost no way you are ever going to let yourself accept the possibility of climate change. You are too heavily invested. You will self justify to ensure yourself it just cannot be true. And you will totally and genuinely believe it. Most humans in that position would do so. Nothing special about the particular people who are there. We self justify regularly. It is very necessary for psychological health, but I think also is our Achilles heel. It may well be our undoing, since it may prevent us from sufficiently addressing the major problems we are facing. I liked Kahneman's book, also see "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)", by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.

I agree. Reading this thread, I couldn't help thinking that a lot of people would point to us as prime examples of the irrational thinking we've been criticizing. Six years ago, many of us thought $100 oil would mean a Mad Max world. Or worse. $100 oil now the norm, and BAU continues. Yet many of us have not changed our minds. We have various reasons why we aren't yet living in caves and scrounging for mushrooms, but most of us haven't changed our minds about peak oil being the issue of the times. (Admittedly, it's a self-selected group; those who have changed their minds probably don't bother coming here any more.)

From the outside, though, I've no doubt we look as nutty as anyone.

"$100 oil now the norm, and BAU continues."

I disagree. Many changes have and are occuring, the trends that many here and elsewhere have predicted continue, and conditions continue to worsen. While most may have under-estimated timeframes, our ability to extend and pretend, and the sheer inertia of our failing systems, the underlying process of overshooting our resource base proceeds unabated. "BAU" for millions has been altered.

While virtual (financial) debt has grown dramatically in the last 6 years, this is mostly a case of moving imaginary wealth around. Real planetary debt, mostly unrepayable, continues to increase.

For many, it's like a pilot slowly losing altitude, unaware that, at some point the plane will hit the ground. The passengers, unaware, barely notice their ears popping a bit as they play on their I-Pods or sleep.

Try to get a loan lately? Notice the price of food lately? US student debt exceeded $1 trillion this week, while graduates' ability to repay declines. Healthcare costs continue to climb, as do income gaps. Soil fertility and fresh water are in decline as demand continues to increase. Arab Springs which solve nothing? EU teetering on disolution? Political stresses and divisions? I could go on, but these are all symptoms of decline which indicate that our ability to cope or substitute is being exceeded by our extraction rate of planetary resources. We are fouling our nest as a result.

That many have been alarmed by this process to the point of expecting sudden decline changes nothing. Our responses to this trend are woefully inadequate to the challenge, while our overall ability to respond diminishes daily.

...and yes, I am living in a cave of sorts, and do scrounge mushrooms ;-)

Not surprisingly, I come out with about the same view.

In a way, it's along the lines of the catabolic decline scenarios that Leanan has described from time to time.

For me the comparison is either like- 'we're used to going 75mph, so the fact that we're racing downhill at that speed leaves the impression that nothing substantial has obstructed our ride' but by the time we want to hit the gas to go up the next hill, we'll have our 'Houston, we've got a problem' moment

.. or that we're like the marathon runner who is now burning off muscle tissue instead of bodyfat.. but we're so desensitized and pugnacious to the possibility of serious, irreversible decline, we don't necessarily notice that we're eating away at parts of our system that cannot easily be refilled in the next cycle.. since the next cycle might not look ANYTHING like the cycles we've known for the last century or so.

So far, it's momentum and the chance to keep chewing on the apparently substantial seed-corn. What Problem?

I disagree. Many changes have and are occuring, the trends that many here and elsewhere have predicted continue, and conditions continue to worsen. While most may have under-estimated timeframes, our ability to extend and pretend, and the sheer inertia of our failing systems, the underlying process of overshooting our resource base proceeds unabated. "BAU" for millions has been altered.

I'm with Ghung on this one. BAU continues much like there was a sense of normalcy for the first class passengers sitting down to dinner shortly after the Titanic had struck the iceberg. Down in steerage the water was already pouring in... There was a bit of a lag before reality hit the upper decks.

"End of the Ship" by Roy Zimmerman


Pretty much what I was going to observe/note. I have three boys nearing workforce entry age. This new generation is going to have a tough time making end meet. Significant numbers won't be able to find jobs, many others won't be able to find decent jobs. The feeling that most are slipping backwards is going to become pretty widespread. At this point, most think it is just a temporary downturn, but before long the realization that the future is not like it once was will become widespread.

I am with Ghung. Big systems take time to react. $100/barrel will have harsh effects on US employment and living standard for folks (families) under the $200K per year level.

Why? If my family income was 200K, I would be wealthy with 130K discretionary income. We make less than 100K and are comfortable for the present. However, without a pension, just a crummy 401K, I'll not be retiring. I am putting aside peak oil, etc, when ask this.

I agree. Reading this thread, I couldn't help thinking that a lot of people would point to us as prime examples of the irrational thinking we've been criticizing. Six years ago, many of us thought $100 oil would mean a Mad Max world.

It is very funny to think that after years as a skeptic and with a full understanding of how we fool ourselves, I would find myself neck deep in a conspiracy-type world view that makes "The Matrix" look unsophisticated and less unnerving in comparison.

It does make me wonder sometimes if we are the loonies. Perhaps that's a good sign.

I disagree.

The % of TODers with Aspergers is at least one order of magnitude above the general population. Likewise engineers, academics and certain personality types.

I am evolving my worldview on oil - the IMF (see article on TOD) analysis may represent what I have been observing. In other words, my world view evolves (slowly) based on prediction vs. observation. Not *THAT* common a trait, except on TOD.

TOD definitely has some "social capital", but how one earns it would be considered "fair' by most.

Most TODers have shades of grey and uncertainty in their world views. Again not *THAT* common a trait.

Best Hopes for A "Good" Community here,


The % of TODers with Aspergers is at least one order of magnitude above the general population.

I don't really think us aspies have a different mode of thought than neurotypicals. I'm unsure whether aspies are less rigid in their worldviews as well (countless hours of arguing on the net with aspies casts this into doubt for me). We just seem more attracted to the fringes (whether it be theories, culture, sexuality etc.) for a variety of reasons.

Unfortunately, high IQ people are often very good at conceiving and justifying stupid ideas.

I agree with this. There have been some very interesting studies on this. Turns out, there's not really much of a link between intelligence and rationality. Basically, intelligent people use their intelligence to justify their positions, rational or not, and so cling to them even harder.

I like to call this justification after the fact. In other words you define your position and then you make a good case to justify your position afterwards.

I've thought for a long time that the brain was designed to perform that way:

-Brain has to find food because stomach indicates need.

-Brain (male) seeks out female because hormones are raging

The "needs" appear for totally irrational reasons. The brain is charged with fulfilling the need.

A science education is largely about trying to reverse that process.

These people are stunningly stupid...

And you are just now figuring that out? ;-) Seriously, I would not be so bold as to say they are stupid, but rather that they are "stunningly ignorant". Ignorance clings to all ideologies like stink on feces. But ideology rules the world whether it be religious ideology or political ideology. As Mark Twain put it: “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Rephrasing that a bit: "It ain't what politicians don't know that gets and keeps the world in such a damn mess, it's what they know for sure that just ain't so."

Edit: Religious ideology and political ideology are quite often the very same thing. That is when a person's religious beliefs mold their political thinking. That seems to be the case, extremely so, for the Tea Party Right.

Ron P.

I think we know that some portion of intelligence is due to genetics. Thus, it's likely that they are "stunningly ignorant" because of their lesser intellectual capacity, which resulted in their being separated from the educational system while others used their intelligence to press onward to greater understanding. Then, there are the sociopaths amongst us...

E. Swanson

I would say that environment also has a lot to do with it.

I have a good friend that is very smart, well-traveled, well-educated and, one would think, has a pretty good handle on things. Three years ago she relocated from Chicago to Utah. A group of us had lunch a few Sundays ago. She has changed her position on a lot of things - she voted for Obama, and now thinks he's a socialist. She used to understand global warming and sustainability. Now she thinks it may all have been overhyped. Amongst other things...

So, the question is, what happened after she left Chicago and moved to Utah ? Obviously, is has something to do with being influenced by prevailing ideas in one's peer groups. Or is there an invasion of body snatchers ?

So, the question is, what happened after she left Chicago and moved to Utah ? Obviously, is has something to do with being influenced by prevailing ideas in one's peer groups. Or is there an invasion of body snatchers ?

She probably never was truly convinced to begin with or at least never had the courage of her convictions!
Sounds like she just want's to fit it with whatever group she is with, a rather normal wish, I might add. It is really hard to be the odd man or woman out when there is no other group to socialize with...

Your Brains by Jonathan Coulton SE

Heh...best hopes for keeping my brains off the menu !

I agree, though. Most people just want to fit in with one or other group.

Some people can evaluate eveidence and form opinions. Most others (IMHO) tend to more or less average the opinions of those that surround them. She very likely fits into the second pattern. It takes a pretty strong personality -and a lot of faith in one's ability to analyse and criticize stuff to belong to the former group.

Sign language version

"Someday you'll run out of food and guns"

Yeah, I was familiar with that version and really love it!

Obviously, is has something to do with being influenced by prevailing ideas in one's peer groups.

Right. It can't possibly be due to a reasonable observation of actual political actions over the last couple years like the federal takeover of GM, the federal cash for clunker cars program, the federal payoff of personal home mortgages, or a multiple year federal deficit over one trillion dollars. No, no. She must have been brainwashed by bad company instead.

Depends on which part of the transition you look at. Deciding that Obama is a socialist is no ground breaking conversion, but swallowing the anti-science pill is a complete transition into ignorance.

People that post here generally can see both the science and the economics of our current situation, which coincidentally is the topic of the site.

...People that post here generally can see both the science and the economics of our current situation,

Some do, especially some of the article authors, e.g. Rapier ...

How has global warming and sustainability been over hyped? I'll not get into socialism...

She must have been brainwashed by bad company instead.

I don't think anyone has said that.

Have the "courage of your convictions":

...Sounds like she just want's to fit it with whatever group she is with, a rather normal wish, I might add. It is really hard to be the odd man or woman out when there is no other group to socialize with...

TKS! My 'convictions' are just fine thank you! However at first glance it does make me wonder about your reading comprehension skills.

Saying that it is quite normal to wish to fit in socially and somehow insinuating that it is the same as saying someone is being brainwashed by bad company is quite the stretch to say the least.

It seems to me that you are engaging in what might be construed as projection from a dogmatic and rather authoritarian ideological point of view. While that doesn't necessarily make you a bad person, it probably does place us at opposite extremes in our world views and makes it difficult for us to see eye to eye.

Someone here recently posted a link to Jonathan Haidt's book
Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Here's a link to a talk he gave a few years ago that touches on many of the points he raises in his book.

Give it a watch it's only 30 minutes of your life and see if you can identify where you fall on the morality base scale, my guess is yours is closer to a five base system while mine is closer to a two base system. To be clear neither of these extremes is in and of themselves either good or bad. They are just different systems for social navigation. While being aware of our different ways of looking at the world might not make us agree with each other they might help us understand each other better.


Yes, I find Haidt interesting, if flawed.

It seems to me that you are engaging in what might be construed as projection from a dogmatic and rather authoritarian ideological point of view.
see if you can identify where you fall on the morality base scale, my guess is yours is closer to a five base system while mine is closer to a two base system.

Bzzzt. 2.8 authority. Less than 3 in all categories except loyalty.

I'm not a big Obama fan, but if you think Obama is a socialist, you have no idea what the term means. He has been doing everything possible to maintain BAU - this is not socialism. You would run trillion dollar deficits too if you inherited multi-trillion unecessary wars from your predecessor.

In any case, saying she was "being influenced by prevailing ideas in one's peer groups" is not the same as claiming she was "brainwashed by bad company". It's an observation of a fact of human nature.

It seems like The Drumbeat is becoming a right-wing spin-fest lately.

I'm not a big Obama fan, but if you think Obama is a socialist, you have no idea what the term means.

If one wants to take the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto at their face value - how many of those planks are in effect in America today?

Keep in mind a few of those planks like free public schools are considered a social good by the bulk of people - no matter who's plank it is.

http://www.libertyzone.com/Communist-Manifesto-Planks.html as a sample of the argument. Now to claim Communism == socialism, well that is another argument.

Firstly, the so-called "takeover" of GM was funded by loans, which were paid back, and the deal was temporary. GM is still a for-profit company, as far as I can tell. And so what about federal programs? They also work through assisting for-profit companies to restructure loans.
And let's not forget about who started two off-budget wars...

Well, yeah. And the real world presents you with ongoing disasters (GM was one), which don't respond well to ideological thinking. So savings hundreds of thousands of jobs is "socialism"! Well I don't care for ism's. It was just a decent policy call. Incidentally, that plan was supposedly hatched by Romney, but now that he has to cow-tow to the rightwing base, he has disowned it. As well as his (plus Heritage foundations), health plan, which was some sort of minimal way to stave off real reform (and is now derided as Obamacare).

That notion is mistaken, but is a common one I suspect given the TV advertisements and such put out by GM.

GM and Chrysler received over $50 billion in government funding in 2008-09. Roughly $17 billion was in the form of loans from the TARP program and yes some of that has been repaid. However the ~$30 billion the government injected directly during the bankruptcy, realized as GM and Chrysler stock, has not been repaid. Today the United States Treasury remains the largest share holder of GM, by far, ahead of both UAW and Canada. This observation requires no complicated inside knowledge but is in plain site for all to see:

The US continues to own and control the company, and has acted numerous times to directly impact company affairs, including squashing a business decision to move its HQ elsewhere in Michigan out of Detroit.

Does that include the $7 billion of TARP invested in Ally Financial, of which the Treasury owns 74%? Ally is the former GMAC, including the Residential Capital mortgage unit.


I want to know whose personal home mortgages were paid off by the federal government. Seems I remember that WE the PEOPLE bought a lot of those "toxic assets" to keep our largest financial institutions from going belly up and destroying the world economies, but I sure don't know about any personal mortgages being "bailed out." I missed that one. Enlighten, please.




The Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan is a U.S. program announced on February 18, 2009 by U.S. President Barack Obama. According to the US Treasury Department, it is a $75 billion program to help up to nine million homeowners avoid foreclosure, which was supplemented by $200 billion in additional funding for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase and more easily refinance mortgages. The plan is funded mostly by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act. It uses cost sharing and incentives to encourage lenders to reduce homeowner's monthly payments to 31 percent of their gross monthly income. Under the program, a lender would be responsible for reducing total monthly mortgage payments (PITI) to no more than 38 percent of the borrower’s income, with the government sharing the cost to further reduce the payment to 31 percent. The plan also involves potentially forgiving or deferring a portion of the borrower’s mortgage balance.

In other words, there was no program where "personal home mortgages were paid off by the federal government". Just a program that made bankers reduce mortgage payments to 38% of income and then a small government boost to lower it to 31%. But people still had to pay mortgage and bankers took a hit.

I did not intend to say that *entire* mortgages ware paid off. How do you read that description of the program, $75 billion taxpayer dollars going directly into mortgage reductions to individuals, and then characterize the program as a "small government boost"? In any case, the eye opener here, it seems to me, is that there are at least a few here that thought no such program ever existed.

"I did not intend to say that *entire* mortgages ware paid off."


the federal payoff of personal home mortgages,

I obviously missed that opportunity. When was this?

Well Eric, I agree with you about half the way. Of course not just some but a lot of intelligence is genetic, more then 50 percent to be sure. And a lot of the followers of these right wing leaders are, as you put it, "stunningly stupid." But I don't believe that about the leaders of this movement, they are mostly very intelligent, but "stunningly ignorant". From your Ayn Rand link above:

It has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the postwar world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand, who died 30 years ago today, (March 5th), has never been more popular or influential.

That ugly philosophy that George Monbiot speaks of it really the deeply intrenched ideology of the far right. They believe it as strongly as a Southern Baptist believes in Jesus. People believe in science until it conflicts with their ideology. Then their ideology trumps science every time. They have empathy for the poor and underprivileged it conflicts with their ideology.

Ideology is "--a monster impervious to the spears of reason, impenetrable by the bullets of logic, and insensible to even the thrust of common sense." C.W. Dalton: "The Right Brain and Religion".

Ron P.

Well, I have a vague recollection of reading Atlas Shrugged in college. It left so little lasting impression, except of being something of a lengthy slog, that I think I recall, say, "Galt" much more from the writings of moaners and complainers than from the actual book.

So I guess if I ever find myself with way too much time on my hands, I'll have to exhume it from the archives and re-skim it - in order to get some handle on the extent to which Rand actually was the evil ogress that the Monbiots of the world portray, and the extent to which Monbiot was merely riding his favorite, knackered old leftist "gimme gimme, I'm entitled" horse yet again another time.

and the extent to which Monbiot was merely riding his favorite, knackered old leftist "gimme gimme,..

Wow! It sounds to me like the book really had a profound effect on you. That is exactly how the average right wing ideologue would describe Monbiot.

And speaking of Monbiot, I saved this URL under the title "Best Monbiot article ever". Though the Ayn Rand article must run a close second.
The most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis
If this article is leftist "gimme gimme" then just color me a leftist gimme gimme.

Ron P.

I tend to be more left than right if we are using those terms. However, I don't think that either party or faction has a good handle on what our resource and environmental problems really are. In Congress, those who are peak oil aware come from both the right and the left. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) and Senator Mark Udall (D) are among the aware. I don't think either party as a whole is listening to either of them. I think the vast majority of both parties don't want to look at all the evidence and see how big the mess is. The general public doesn't really want to know. All the denial responses are not universal, but fairly close. The right doesn't like science and rejects climate change much more than Republicans at large. The left is more aware of climate change, but more cornucopian about energy, believing that the peak oil story is a right wing conspiracy promoted by oil companies. I believe that those who are liberal defend against understanding peak oil because the implications are enormous, especially when you add in climate change, water depletion, oceanic acidification, etc. Most of the citizenry has a strong aversion against contemplating extreme risks of everyday behavior. Our consuming behavior doesn't appear risky because the impacts are invisible to consumers. Some outcomes are visible to ecologists, others are visible to geologists. Economists (also bankers, Wall Street players and other financial types) can't see a risk if it smacks them on the head. Very few people look at the whole system and see how unsustainable our present course is. Some of us peak oil aware are doomers and preoccupied with the collapse. It seems that actuaries are much more aware of risk (that's their occupation). Others think we might have a great deal of trouble, but civilization still has a good chance. Others yet, think that the species will survive in a limited way without much chance of modern civilization. All scenarios mentioned are possible, but many don't want to even consider the demise of the human race. I am willing to contemplate that because it seems obvious to me that the human race, which has a short history relative to biologic time, is unlikely to have the reign the length of the dinosaurs, the insects, or the birds. All of our ancestors prior to homo sapiens sapiens are no more, why should we expect that we will go on for many millions of years? I believe the trend has been for dominant species to have shorter reigns the more complex that they have become. There may be something to the idea that those who are willing to contemplate these things may have had something puncture their denial of death. Certainly I have experienced many losses. Perhaps others have also. I don't know if this is idiosyncratic or related at all. It has some face validity for me, the idea that facing pain, loss, and death might make one more open to contemplating very negative possible outcomes.

The left is more aware of climate change, but more cornucopian about energy, believing that the peak oil story is a right wing conspiracy promoted by oil companies.

I disagree vehemently with that statement. I am aware of many on the left who are members of this list. And I would venture to say that not one of them believe peak oil to be a conspiracy by the oil companies. Ditto for the liberals that I know who are not members of this list.

And the right is far more cornucopian about energy than the left. The right, in general, hates all regulation and believes that, left alone, the free market will fix all energy problems.

That remark was a shot from the hip that missed the mark by a country mile.

Ron P.

William Temple wrote in 1914, before he became Archbishop of Canterbury, that deep religious conviction cannot be distinguished from sheer prejudice. Neither depends on evidence. Human beings live by stories -- language is the sea we swim in. We breathe it in, and breathe out stories. Science has shown the usefulness of checking our stories against evidence. Some of us are willing to let go of an ideology when our experience and testing cast doubt on it. Women and gays are no longer trying to cram their experience into the old narratives -- suppressed desires tend to fester and break out in destructive ways. Once you start living outside of conventional wisdom (tribal lore), you notice flaws in BAU. (From the center of the theater, the stage illusion is strong -- from the side seats or from the wings, not so much.) Drum Beaters know how certain things work; people who lack that experience go by the most familiar (and authoritative) story they hear. I wish people were more reasoning, but there's a feeling of safety in the middle of the herd. BAU is not working, people must notice at some point -- probably too late.

(From the center of the theater, the stage illusion is strong -- from the side seats or from the wings, not so much.) Drum Beaters know how certain things work; people who lack that experience go by the most familiar (and authoritative) story they hear.

Good analogy! TODers have also noticed that the power cord to the smoke generator behind the mirrors, is badly frayed, it is starting to short out and the sparks have set the curtains on fire... When they then shout 'Fire', in the theater, the audience refuses to listen and goes on watching as the theater burns to the ground...meanwhile the wizards of OZ escape through the back door. Clap! clap! clap! Bravo! Bravo! Encore please!

It can be a very frustrating experience when the audience is composed of your family and loved ones!

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

That was beautiful! Where did you get that from?

This marks the third time I have seen it. Krugman used it in his blog just two weeks ago.

If I'm doomed to go out in a blaze of self-congratulatory splendour, this is how I think I'll do it!

'Art is the lie that enables us to see the truth' Picasso

I think, too, that many people will not change their beliefs unless they experience some "pain" for ignoring what - in this example to many of us - is obvious. Even then...there will be some...and it needs to be max pain to boot.

Clearly good arguments can be made that we are already experiencing pain (i.e. consequences) now, but I submit that on a large scale that pain has not yet been that severe (not severe enough) - at least to many non believers. Plus there is no lack of spin, lies, etc to keep the critical masses thinking that status quo is hunky dory. Somewhat related, look at not only the spin and lies but monetary efforts to keep the great economic ponzis going.

All of this is successful to a degree of definition, but of course when the day comes - and it will - the pain will be much more intense when the wheels do fall off. Unfortunately, even for the current believers when you are talking about mother nature even we/they will not escape unscathed.

But then there sill be believers - aka - victims.


Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Don't forget to pay homage to Mother Nature.

You make a good point. Things have gotten a little worse for us since 2005, but not that much has really changed for middle class Americans. Even if most people knew and believed in things like peak oil and climate change, what would they actually do different? We bought a solar water heater and a Prius, mainly to save money. I've insulated, and will continue to add more. Travel seems less important than it used to, we haven't left the state in a couple of years. None of this has likely made much difference in the scheme of things. One might know of the world's problems and decide to reduce resource use. Then the price of resources will drop, and others will just use more because they can afford it. The saver still gains financial freedom, but it may not really save anything overall.

I sent some time around a evangelical. If the kids spoke of "mother nature", they would be angrily corrected with "Nature is not your mother!".

How often have you been on a diet, but found yourself picking up a donut from the morning box somebody brought in at work? Or bough the nail-gun you really know you'll use only once instead of borrowing one from your buddy at work? Or paid more than you thought you would for that car?

It's not that many are stupid, but that their logic centers aren't the first or primary parts of the brain that engage. These tendencies are ripe fodder for marketing of all sorts, and those marketers have no need to believe what they say. Those with an agenda hire those with capabilities to accomplish a goal. Those sold the product are just doing what comes naturally.

There is hope for thinking, but not until something happens to make you re-think past decisions. Each of us CAN stay on a diet, or hold to a project budget, or decide on a car and price outside the dealership, but it takes extra work. Most of us don't spend the time or effort, and we won't until we have to.

Or so it seems to me.

'Secular ideology and political ideology are quite often the very same thing' is equally true.

These people are stunningly stupid evil...

FM - I think most folks are buying the “they are stupid” line on an emotional level and not logically. Which is OK…feelings are a part of life. I’ve broken bread with a variety of those folks. I’ve found very few who were stupid. Certainly some not very knowledgeable of all the facts. By in large their positions are governed by self interest IMHO. And thus not very different than most folks regardless of their political leanings. Evil? I suppose so if you hold opposite opinions. Or patriots if you agree with their views. Of course, there are a lot of us who fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. So far TPTB, both R and D, seem to be doing a very good job of driving each side of the fence towards those extremes. And that only makes the P of TPTB only stronger. IMHO the last thing they want to see is the majority shift towards some compromise position in the middle. That might cause them to lose some of the P they now share.

By in large their positions are governed by self interest IMHO.

Well, I would say that their positions are governed by what they think is in their self interest. The vast majority of those WalMart Republicans really believe that they can one day be a multimillionaire just like Mitt. They really believe that they are voting for their own self interest when they are actually voting against them. Those are the ones who are not so smart that Eric was talking about. The really smart ones are the ones who convince them that they are really voting for their own self interest when actually the opposite is true.

Ron P.

"I would say that their positions are governed by what they think is in their self interest."

Pretty much. And where the Right misleads people as to where their self interest lies, then the Left tends to jam their view of people's self interest down those people's throats. And this tends to rile those people up pretty thoroughly. Mandates (airbags and traction control in cars, soon to expand to "black boxes"; health insurance, headlights SHALL be on when it's raining) and prohibitions (fireworks, trapping, attempts at banning handguns or even all guns, no parking at accesses to State land without a permit, cutting off access to "public " land (which is happening on both state and federal lands), "hate speech" ) seem to be much more numerous on the Liberal side, although the Theocrats are not much better. They like to jam their view of what God wants you to do down your throat. (Hint, if God exists, then He can tell me what He wants me to do Himself. I don't even need a full size burning bush, a few smoldering blades of grass will do.)

As an aside, the Theocrats at least send missionaries out to try to persuade you; the Left just denounces non-believers as "ignorant hicks in flyover country" and imposes what they can from their strongholds. And then they wonder why they are not popular.

Back on track, the Left is so good at riling people up that people start reflexively opposing anything the Left stands for without thinking about whether they have a point. And for heavens sake, politically active liberal ones, get out in the country side you are trying to win over and talk to people and see what they care about. And leave your preconceptions at home. That guy with the V-twin motorcycle across the street from the apple orchard might just have multiple college degrees and be better educated than you. Then again you may be run over by the neighbor's kid on the ATV, so do pay attention ;-) And the booms from the orchard are the propane guns to scare the birds off; they are not shooting at you.

This is a nontrivial point.

The right wing believers, they try to convince you of what they believe in, but if they can't they'll sort of leave you alone and be on their way. Not universally true, but mostly true.

The left, on the other hand, tries to use the force of government to impose their idealogy on others. Which is why they are continually rejected.

If you notice, the right long ago won the economic war. And that's because people don't like being told what to do with their own money. But, on the other hand, the left long ago won the culture war, because people don't like being told what to do in their home.

Still, this process has not yet reached it's inevitable endpoint which is a return to a sort of libertarianism. Both the military-industrial complex and corporate subsidies will disappear, as will the welfare state.

In the future, you are on your own, with your family, friends, and local community.

Actually, the left has sort of won the economic war. OECD countries have taxation rates of between one sixth and one half of the GDP. So government is highly influential in their economies through taxation, spending, fiscal, and regulatory policies. There is no reason to own what you can tax and regulate, so socialism and communism are more or less obsolete.


Merrill – Excellent point IMHO. I’ve tried to make that argument with the “let’s nationalize the bastards” crowd. Why own the horse when you can ride it anytime you like but never have to take care it? The only place we may differ is that I wouldn’t say the left (nor the right) won that war. The govt (TPTB) won the war. Repubs, despite what they love to yap about, like taxing and spending just as much as the Dems IMHO.

Statism =/= "the left"

The non-statist left has never been able to gain much power, probably because, as Mao said, "all power comes out of the barrel of a gun".

I've heard that during the Spanish Civil War, the anarchists of Barcelona were offered the chance to form the government of Catalonia, but they stuck to their principles and refused.

The left, on the other hand, tries to use the force of government to impose their idealogy on others. Which is why they are continually rejected.

Oh, you mean that election they had in North Carolina last Tuesday was the left trying to impose their ideology on the right?

Actually Oilman, you have it exactly backwards. The right wishes to force the left into their bigoted way of thinking by claiming it is "God's will". They claim all rights come from God not from the government. So they have elections and pass laws that force the government to give you only the rights that God has approved of.

Ron P.

North Carolina was election year politics the right's power elite uses certain throw away issues to get out the vote and to start the feeding frenzy just as the left does.

"use the force of government to impose their idealogy on others."

Sachs (and Ron, etc)
This is the over-riding insinuation of that ALG video (below), which addresses several key topics, esp. energy.
Has this video already been discussed at TOD? (please post the link... I'd love to see what your responses were).

- rick

Rick, no I don't think this video has been discussed on TOD before. And I don't think it is worth much discussion and certainly not a special thread. The video is nothing but right wing propaganda. The video advocated squashing all regulations so banks like J.P. Morgan can lose billions of their investors money gambling on derivatives. And the best line in the whole video:

I would ridicule as flat earthers those who urge them to lower energy costs by increasing supply...

Drill baby drill.

Ron P.

"I don't think it is worth much discussion"

I certainly agree that it's "nothing but right wing propaganda."
But it strikes me as a very powerful piece, almost poetic, very measured in its delivery. It is artfully done, and we should not underestimate the influence that it (and future efforts by outfits like ALG) may have on an ill-informed electorate.

Although "Fail" avoids religion, it was clearly inspired by Paul Harvey's, "If I were the Devil" (1965). It presents a polarizing set of generalizations which many may rally around, and this in turn raises the question of whether our democratic institutions & processes can remain viable/effective during 'the long emergency.'

I think "Fail" is significant enough to warrant a bit of our attention.

Well, I would say that their positions are governed by what they think is in their self interest. The vast majority of those WalMart Republicans really believe that they can one day be a multimillionaire just like Mitt.

Well, OK, so let's try parsing this. The implication seems to be that their "real" self-interest - to be identified for them by some all-wise third party who knows best for reasons not in evidence but that must be obvious - might be to vote for promises of strong redistribution, of gimme-gimme handouts, rather than foolishly vote according to "what they think is in their self interest." This is surely logical since the odds of becoming "a multimillionaire just like Mitt" are rather slender, and really, those slim odds are the sole consideration that could possibly enter into their thinking.

Perhaps so. But even if it is so, there remains one fatal little snag. In the real world, political redistributionists seem to operate from pity, or something else, such as specialized, academically fashionable notions of "fairness", so closely aligned to it as to make no nevermind. So even if our hapless voters vote for what our all-wise someone else deems to be their "real" self interest, it would never do them the slightest bit of good.

It's a very big world out there, so someone else can always be found who's even more "deserving" of redistributive pity than they are. Or some weeds, bugs, vermin, or even ice floes out there in the "environment" can always be found to be yet more "deserving" still. So never in a million years will they see a single dime (or joule) of their "real" self interest. It will always be diverted to someone or something else more "deserving".

IOW they can't possibly win and probably they know it. So what harm can there be in flattering themselves?

Oh, and really, very few people genuinely like to be seen as objects of pity, not even if they happen to be clamoring for handouts at the very same moment. Of course, one way around this is universal handouts as in Europe (supported by swingeing taxes.) OTOH, maybe that isn't working out as well as the idealists thought with such touching naïveté in the aftermath of World War II, since it has turned out that there's no natural limit whatever to the magnitude of the handouts, nor to the magnitude of debt needed to finance them.

I guess this type of redistribution is not what you are talking about.


You should go right over to the blogroll and click on Calculated Risk and read the blogrolls over there for about two months.


Calculated Risk has been right about pretty much everything since 2005.

"very few who were stupid."

I agree, Rock

The folks who put together the ALG video, "If I wanted America to fail" certainly are not stupid.
This is a very compelling, very clever (and therefore rather dangerous) piece of propaganda.

"a very good job of driving each side of the fence towards those extremes."
That's exactly what this video does: the tone of many of the responses is rather telling....

(My apologies if it has already been discussed... I must have missed it)

I think that video is great. That is, I think it's a great example of the art of propaganda. The concluding statement is: "If I wanted America to FAIL...I wouldn't change a thing". Think about that for a bit. The US financial system was the cause of the little economic blip called the Great Recession, which started before Mr. Obama's election. Since things haven't really changed since 2008, it appears that the economy isn't going to get any better and the banksters are at it again. How many banksters have been thrown out of a job, forced to return their ill gotten gains or put in jail? There is a big push to repeal Dodd-Frank, which might have reigned in the banksters, but there are already so many loop holes that it's a toothless tiger. Want America to FAIL? Perhaps it already has...

E. Swanson

"If I wanted America to FAIL...I wouldn't change a thing"

I agree, but just imagine the gulf between what TOD analysts would identify as the main contributors to failure, as opposed to those which are identified by ALG: environmentalists and their intrusive, ill-founded regulations, a mainstream media which has been duped, and education system which has been co-opted, etc.

Meanwhile, many of us would argue that failure will be the result of ongoing denial of resource limits & environmental impact, unfettered capitalism, an ill-informed & distracted electorate, etc.

Though "Fail" is very different, it somehow reminds me of the films of Leni Riefenstahl, who so artfully captured the allure of Hitler's solutions to the dilemma/confusion faced by Germans during the mid-1930s.

There is some irony to the punch line of the video

If I wanted America to FAIL...I wouldn't change a thing

i seem to recall quite a few people who said that they voted for Obama, including people who post here, complaining about the lack of change, "where's the change?" It also appears to me that they have a genuine grouse as I don't see where Obama has really made much of a difference during his time in the Whitehouse so far.

There has been remarkable continuity of policies and programs that were started during the Bush administration some of which Obama is being blamed for (Auto industry bailouts, EV tax credits etc). Health-care reform, which could have turned out to be a big change was watered down to the point where one wonders what if anything has changed.

As a result the punch line could be interpreted to imply that George W. Bush was largely responsible for setting America on the path to failure since a lot of programs and policies that are in place are products of his administration. Of course as a foreigner, I could be way off but, that's how it looks to me.

Alan from the islands

Well, not to say Obama's been heroic or anything, but it's still a bit credulous for any of us to talk about one person, even if they are The Leader of the Free World!! to be culpable for changes or lack of changes in the system.

The pushback against even his most tepid efforts has been simply vicious, and yes, he is largely a BAU guy.. and to top it off, just how many of us at TOD have even significantly jettisoned the trappings of modern techno-comfy society, I pray you all blog me that, eh?

Our collective momentum in this direction is prodigious, and the Rudder on the Ship was never set up to give us sharp turns at high-seas speeds.. more of us have to be grabbing oars AND telling others to join in at the same time.. or skulking away to build lifeboats.

calling a person evil is just you looking down your nose at them so you can look the other way. Maybe you are angry, we all get angry at seeing this beautiful planet being slowly destroyed, with ff's extraction hastening our demise. But they are unaware and Ron has it right above. People are not inherently evil. They become deadened and unaware because of the way human beings are living now and because of all the brainwashing which is powerful and difficult to get awareness of. But if they had real awareness they would stop what they are doing in an instant and return to the natural human state of loving ourselves and everything around us and doing no harm. This is how people lived for thousands of years and the world was in balance and so were people believe it or not.

Tony de Mello would have said that all people are utterly faultless as they have no awareness of what they are doing when they do wrong. I believe this. People will say "So hitler was innocent or Brevik?" Anyone who has heard the Breivik trial knows this man is a sociopath with no awareness of reality. This degenerated state of being is called sickness, and how can a sick person who does not know black from white be vilified when his head is so mashed? I read once that the hardest thing for a person is to return love for hate. When we lash out at someone who is acting from his sickness we are no better.


calling a person evil is just you looking down your nose at them so you can look the other way...

Tony de Mello would have said that all people are utterly faultless as they have no awareness of what they are doing when they do wrong. I believe this.

Sorry, I don't quite buy that! On some other forum I'd be using much stronger language to express my response.

But Ok, maybe they aren't truly 'EVIL' just willfully ignorant and therefore perhaps just a tad criminally negligent. Since ignorance has never been an excuse for breaking the law I say punish them to the full extent possible. Yes, these people are for all intents and purposes engaging in crimes against humanity. I'm tired of letting them off the hook! I have just as much right to live in this world as they do... as for sociopaths being innocent, no, they are criminally insane, emphasis on criminally!

Parts of this go back to one of the letters that was doing rounds during the last Occupy movement. Went something like this

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work until 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.

It's the belief that one is there because of pure hard work, it never works that way. Luck plays a major role in wherever you are. Yes when bright people move into a field they take it to a higher level but it's not that a wall street trader can replace a 60 year farmer in terms of experience and knowledge just because he's got an MBA from Harvard. Some memes just refuse to die.

My grandpa used to toil all day in the farm in 100C temp without a break, I'd like to see some hotshot MBA take his place.

My grandpa used to toil all day in the farm in 100C temp without a break, I'd like to see some hotshot MBA take his place.

Wiseindian, while I'm sure your grandpa was a tough old guy, 100 C. is the boiling point of water, it would have to be some very 'HOT'shot MBA, indeed, to do that, eh? >;^)

This is called an embarrassing typo :-)

Naw, Farmers get special license for exaggeration.. it's totally legal.

Up here, there are stories about how one reads the 'mercury' on the barn thermometer, and it wasn't uncommon for farmers to be working when it was a good Three Clapboards below zero.

Exaggeration is underrated!

I read once that the hardest thing for a person is to return love for hate. When we lash out at someone who is acting from his sickness we are no better.

This is why I am still in awe of Nelson Mandela's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I'm sure it was far from being a perfect model of healing wounds after decades of racial hatred, and its effects may be ephemeral, but IMO it still stands as a remarkable achievement in human relations.

Why Won’t They Listen? -- NY Times review of ‘The Righteous Mind,’ by Jonathan Haidt

Haidt seems to delight in mischief. Drawing on ethnography, evolutionary theory and experimental psychology, he sets out to trash the modern faith in reason. In Haidt’s retelling, all the fools, foils and villains of intellectual history are recast as heroes. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher who notoriously said reason was fit only to be “the slave of the passions,” was largely correct. E. O. Wilson, the ecologist who was branded a fascist for stressing the biological origins of human behavior, has been vindicated by the study of moral emotions. Even Glaucon, the cynic in Plato’s “Republic” who told Socrates that people would behave ethically only if they thought they were being watched, was “the guy who got it right.”

To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided. The funniest and most painful illustrations are Haidt’s transcripts of interviews about bizarre scenarios. Is it wrong to have sex with a dead chicken? How about with your sister? Is it O.K. to defecate in a urinal? If your dog dies, why not eat it? Under interrogation, most subjects in psychology experiments agree these things are wrong. But none can explain why.

The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others. Haidt shows, for example, how subjects relentlessly marshal arguments for the incest taboo, no matter how thoroughly an interrogator demolishes these arguments.

To explain this persistence, Haidt invokes an evolutionary hypothesis: We compete for social status, and the key advantage in this struggle is the ability to influence others. Reason, in this view, evolved to help us spin, not to help us learn. So if you want to change people’s minds, Haidt concludes, don’t appeal to their reason. Appeal to reason’s boss: the underlying moral intuitions whose conclusions reason defends.


I have an extremely intelligent brother who has always rather annoyed me by his dismissive attitude toward human insanity and suicidal stupidity; he politely ignores my rants on energy/environmental issues. His justification is similar to Haidt- of course people don't reason, the evidence is overwhelming. Nothing I do can possibly change it. So enjoy life, doing as little harm in the process as circumstance allows.

Not being nearly as intelligent as he, I keep trying to do something about all the crazyness. That probably is silly. But, on the other hand, I sorta enjoy being holier than thou, Hm, so maybe I am following dear brother's admonition after all- enjoy life, as harmlessly as possible.

Your brother is clearly the more reasonable one. You are to the total human population as a milliliter is to 3 minimum-depth Olympic swimming pools. Most people have no effect beyond the nearest few liters.

But don't let your brother put you off your stroke! As has been said:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Keep on being unreasonable, for only therein lies the salvation of you and yours!

(oh, and PS Wimbi, don't vote, either, cause it doesn't do any good.. and don't help little kids either, they don't add up to much, and you might just give them an unnatural trust towards other people..)

Sorry, Merrill, if you were being Sarcanistic, it didn't come across.

I think it's entirely possible to enjoy the good life AND to fight the good fight at the same time. Otherwise, what is the big party celebrating in the first place?

I think one thing we here tend not to mention enough is that saving the world is FUN! Think of all the great stuff we as individuals can do, without any pay from the coal company. I am having a wonderful fun time with my newly revived hobby of powering down, I run around all the time reading meters and planning strategy. Last night, for example, I was horrified to hear wife report that we used 150 gallons of propane last year! How could that be? So I snooped around and found a big leak under the outside oven- easily enough to add up. So I shut off the leak, and, in the process, started to think seriously about induction cooking, a-la HereinHalifax, who I thank for lots of really solid numbers

.And, while at it, I do highly recommend the last chapter of Limits to Growth -the thirty year update.

Please, people, go read it again. I believe TOD is a good place for all that.

Go crazy!

Combine induction heating with vacuum-insulated ("thermal"/"vacuum pot") cookware.


In standard thermal cooking, the food in a pot is heated over a burner and then the pot is removed from the heat and moved into a larger, vacuum-insulated jacket. The thermos-bottle like insulation greatly reduces the heat loss and so allows the initial input of energy to be retained without constant renewal and so cook the food without further energy input. The link above even shows bread made this way.

It is not necessary, but the induction element and the vacuum jacket could be integrated. If you buy a $99 induction hotplate, you will find a work-coil of something like 20 turns of 10 gauge Litz wire arranged over some ferrite shapes. Reproduce this as a connectorized version in communication with the bottom of a pot sitting in a vacuum jacket and the heating can be done in-place. This also means that extra bumps of energy can be added over time to make up for reality: the mass and loss of the jacket.


$59 GE 1300W induction hotplate

There are thermal cookers designed to work with stand-alone induction heaters... so you don't have to go COMPLETELY crazy... but it might make a good product.

Are rice cookers induction cookers?


Some are. Also, some are induction heated pressure cookers. All kinds of innovations... including diamond coating!


Thanks, explains why they are so expensive around here :(


I wasn't being Sarcanistic. In fighting the good fight, active concern for things that you can do something about is useful, while passive despair for things you are unable to influence is not useful. Concentrate on the adjacent liter, not the next swimming pool over.

Still, there are windmills that AREN'T hopeless to tilt at, and whether my particular battle will succeed or not, if it's the right battle, if it's one you simply know you HAVE to fight, then it's also potentially useful as object lessons for the other battalions out there, it's partly going to be inspiring your reinforcements, making sure that the attrition and the expense is shared, keeps you in fighting form .. we're also often talked out of fights we could have prevailed at, had we remembered that there are forms of the exponential function that work to our advantage, too..

I'm sure I won't talk you or Wimbi's brother into it, as y'all won't be talking me OUT of it.. and meanwhile, others are out there weighing their resolve and seeing who's with them, all the time.

C'est la Guerre~!

Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0 - Jonathan Haidt


That definitely sounds like Hume:

The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason.

and Hayek.

Well what can one say? People are greedy.

When the choice is between short term benefit and a long term abstract concept, the latter stands no chance.

As usual, we will just keep on doing what provides us with a immediate gratification until nature smacks us down hard via peak oil or climate change.

Go ask any child if they want a piece of candy today or two pieces of candy next week. It is that simple.

Having scanned the comments, I'm convinced that self esteeme is a big factor. People who are comfortable in their own skins have a fearlessness that enables them to consider things out of their comfort zone and reach a point where they aren't automatically dismissive of ideas that challenge the assumptions they've lived by. It's a sort of humility that overcomes the bias born of hubris. People who aren't afraid of being wrong ask the right questions.

People who 'know' they are right already have the answers. They build firewalls and reject people and ideas which challenge their carefully constructed egos. It's an id thing. Those of us who challenge what they already 'know' are invalidated except in the most superficial of circumstances. Their egos simply can't survive an assertion such as that they've spent their lives fu**ing up their planet. "This is my reality and I'm sticking to it."

This don't-tread-on-me-mentality becomes more evident in times of stress, resulting in laws that control the invalidated, forceful rejections of change,, mass graves.... all attempts to prove they were right; reinforcement of belief, validation. These are the manipulable and easily led. Feed their egos, their sense of exceptionalism, and they'll believe and do almost anything.

I'd recommend reading The Republic Brain by Chris Mooney, which reviews a lot of recent research concerning differences between liberals and conservatives. It suggests that conservatives aren't stupid, greedy or evil but mostly scared; scared of change, of outsiders, of uncertainty, of the future. This is driven mostly from older parts of the brain, principally the amygdala which controls fear responses. Such a response would be a pretty good evolutionary trait for short term survival for early humans and their animal ancestors, maybe not so good for longer term considerations in the current environment though. It also means rationalisation and reason won't necessarily work too well in changing their views.

Don't forget, political conservatism may be linked with low-effort thinking.


Yair . . . I thought this was interesting.


I believe this outfit is part of the Linc Energy organisation who a couple of days made a lot of noise about flying their Gulfstream across Australia on fuel made from coal that had been gasified underground.

They are talking big but the shares don't look that flash. Are they doing anything different or is this just FT in another guise?


Stunning photographs of the Oil Age

Dark art: Edward Burtynsky's photographs of the oil industry

Edward Burtynsky has spent 15 years photographing oil – from the fields where it is sourced, to the cars it powers, to the detritus it leaves behind

Nice pics, thanks for sharing

Concerning the JP Morgan $2 billion “loss”. From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/05/11/jpmorgan-credit-default-swaps-sti...

“A derivative is a type of security whose price is dependent on -- or "derived" from -- one or more underlying assets, like stocks, bonds, or currencies. The specific type of derivative Iksil (who made the losing trades) was reportedly using in his trades was a credit default swap. Credit default swaps are used to protect against the default of an underlying asset. As with an insurance policy that insures you against a house fire, with a credit default swap you pay a premium and are insured against the default of a debt instrument.”

A slow news weekend because everywhere I turn they are talking about this terrible “loss”. But the $2 billion wasn’t lost per se. It didn’t just disappear when someone turned their back. The $2 billion was transferred to whoever covered the other side of the trade. Or this loss was also someone’s profit. There were many $billions lost in the stock market last week. IOW some folks transferred $billions to other folks. None of these losses represent capital being destroyed but just changing ownership.

So is the alarm over JPM’s loss is just because they are a bank? What if such CDS trades eventually put JPM out of business? That would be a bad thing for their shareholders of course. But it would be equally good thing for however JPM TRANSFERRED those $billions to. JPM may be the largest US bank but many banks have gone under in recent years and has society lost anything in the process? Their shareholders may have lost money but who else? I find it interesting that 100’s of stories mention JPM losing $2 billion of their profits but not one word about who made the $2 billion profit.

I don't believe the loss of a couple billion by a financial institution supposedly worth 160 billion is a big deal. The way everyone is making a big deal out of it, though, makes me worry that they can't close out the position and could lose a whole lot more before it is over. Since it is too big to fail, it is obvious who will get to bail it out.

In January and February, as the price of the insurance continued to drop, lunch meetings and casual conversations between hedge fund managers swirled around the ability of JPMorgan to continue financing this bet.

“A lot of people told me it was a foolish trade,” said an official with a hedge fund that bet against JPMorgan. “The naysayers on this trade said, ‘Look, this guy has unlimited firepower, he can just keep selling and selling and make your life miserable.’ ”

Among the hedge funds that began taking positions against JPMorgan were Blue Mountain, a New York fund; Lucidus Capital Partners, a London fund; Hutchin Hill, a New York fund; and Bluecrest, a giant London hedge fund founded by two former traders on JPMorgan’s proprietary trading desk.

The trade did not at first make money for the hedge funds. In the improving economy early in the year, the hedge funds had to make regular insurance payments. But in late March, doubts about the economy began to swirl, and the index jumped.


Because they are a TBTF bank, the loss will be transferred to you when the Fed has to backstop the bank.

Things may play out differently this time. Unlike the last time, the FDIC now has the authority to seize the big bank holding companies and resolve the problems. If I were running JPM, Citi, or BofA, I'd be paying more attention to what was going on. If the FDIC comes in, they can take their time, go through the books carefully, reverse particularly egregious deals, claw back compensation, etc.

Seriously? this is the Obama administration were talking about. The problem is that the money to resolve the bank would have to come from the bond holders who just happen to be pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, Saudi princes, etc. The whole point of the financial bailouts was to avoid having this group take a loss and nothing has changed politically to change this motivation. Our ability to continue to purchase oil from the Saudis and others relies on our ability to sell them debt instruments that we guarantee as safe. Without the backstop the whole system falls apart. Look instead for the Federal Reserve and Federal Government to continue to slowly bleed the losses onto the public through asset purchases, Zirp, deficit spending, etc.

Well, today there are announcements that three JPM executives will be fired this next week. That's already more than got fired for almost crashing the global economy last time :^)

IOW some folks transferred $billions to other folks.

It is not a loss in the sense that a house burning down represents a real "vaporization" of value. However, when someone buys a security for a certain amount, both are presumed (or they themselves believe) to own something of value: the seller has the cash and the new owner has the stock (or whatever). It is when the equity loses its worth in the market that the value disappears, or the "loss" happens.

Similarly, many people made out like bandits selling overpriced houses, but nobody posts their names and addresses online so people can badger them to give it back. Instead, the holders of the mortgages become the bad guys. Of course, when acknowledged crimes occur (e.g. Madoff), then the unjust benefactors (early Ponzi scheme participants) are hunted down to reclaim the ill-gotten gains.

There is a big difference between the economic impact of the change in value of a derivative (like a CDS contract) and an asset like a stock.
When a CDS changes in value, one party gains, the other party loses. But when a stock changes value whoever owns it either gains or loses. There is no other side to assets like stocks and bonds.


WP – So if I buy the stock you sell for $100k (stock you paid $50k for) you didn’t make a $50k profit? $50k that came out of my bank account. And if that stock drops back to $50k and I sell did I not lose $50k? Had I not bought your stock you would have not made the profit you did. And if I eventually sell that stock for $150k then I make a $50k profit just like you did. So as long as the stock price continues to increase no body loses money. OTOH had I not bought your stock and you sold it for $150k and then you sold it you would have made a $100k profit. So by purchasing your stock when I did you transferred $50k of your future income to me. So did you make $50k when you sold me your stock or did you lose $50k of your potential profit?

The thinking gets somewhat convoluted, eh?

Not quite.
You may have forgone 50k, but that is not a loss - I got it instead of you. What you in a way are getting to is that the net worth of society as a whole (you and me in this case) remains unchanged) which is why from a societal point of view any kind of securities trading is merely a question of who's pocket the wealth is in rather than whether or not wealth is created or destroyed.


WP - Exactly. Someone else got the benefit of that $2billion instead of the JPM shareholders. I don't feel any worse for them than any other investor that loses money on a risky bet. If the JPM investors didn't want to lose they should have put their money into a risk free account. Would have been a lower potential return but that's the reason they decided to take the risk.

completely agree. If JPM loses a zillion in derivatives it means that somebody else made a zillion.
An episode like this reduces the value of the JPM franchise but that it the risk if you own part of the company (i.e. are a stock holder).


"who's pocket the wealth is in rather than whether or not wealth is created or destroyed." I prefer to get the money in my wallet.

In sweden the standard contract law build upon the principal of offer and accept although simple in theory it make business surpisingly complicated. If you sell something this way and put an accept frist of for example 30 days it is similar to a lottery their the player could chose to buy then the wheel stops. If the price go up the buyer make an order but if price decreases the buyer go somewhere else or demand the lower price.

Only an idiot would sell with this conditions and in practice most add a condition valid upon order confirmation or similar. The poor bastards who did not understand are probably long gone. Anyone who know about the great Irish famine 100-200 year ago and the contract laws? They exported food while something like 1 million people starved to death and I guess the brittish contract laws might had something to do with it.

Rock - One thing is certain, the house (Wall Street) always wins so long as people choose to play on their tables.

Suppose that you buy 100 shares of PorousSand Inc for $99/share. PorousSand has a market float of 1 million shares.

The next day, WP offers you $100/share, and you sell your shares, making a profit of $100.

You are $100 richer, but the other shareholders of PorousSand now believe they are $1,000,000 richer, since they all mark their positions to market.

Hence, fairly small trades in the market can create (or destroy) large amounts of "wealth". Although, as Sam Walton once said following the market selloff after the LTCM debacle, "it was paper yesterday; it is still paper today".

Yup. The marginal transaction, or, more accurately, the most recent mark, sets the price. However as you point out, if you can realize that most recent mark when try to monetize your paper gain is another question (and that is why liquidity is so important).


There would only be loss or gain when the asset is liquidated (sold on the market). The loss or gain is then 'realized.' What is cute with banks and investment houses like Goldman Sachs is that they can carry losses on their books almost indefinitely pretending that they are worth more than they would be if 'marked to market.'

While not denying that banking accounting and reporting is complex and opaque, the accounting rules do require some marking to market of assets that the banks are holding. They have some leeway depending on whether the asset is being held for trading versus being held to maturity. The also have some leeway depending on whether there is an active, liquid market for the security, or whether it is currently trading thinly, or whether is is illiquid. The last case is "mark to model", and they can get away with whatever the auditors and lawyers will allow.

Mark to market is not a complete panacea for anything. During the financial crisis, financial institutions could be picked off by hedge funds coming into the market and moving securities against the institution's positions. The institution would then have to tale a mark to market loss. This eroded the "capital" of the institution, even though the institution hadn't sold or bought anything and hadn't actually taken anything other than a bookkeeping loss. This drove down the stock price. This caused them to raise equity at below book prices. This further weakened them, etc. until collapse.

JPM may be too big for them to do this, but several hedge funds could easily raise a $10 billion war chest that they might lever 10 to 1 resulting in $100 billion in firepower. So it is not out of the question whether the hedgies will attempt to break JPM.

Rockman- Theoretically it is a zero sum gain. But when one considers the consequence of the loss it ceases to be zero sum; in other words the beneficial consequences to the winners doesn't match the negative consequences to the loser. The loss to JPM makes investors question the financial stability of JPM which in turn impacts the financial viability of the banking system which in turn impacts the health of the economy. The profit to those on the other side of the trade doesn't create the same positive cascade.

But paradoxically the JPM loss actually argues for less rather than more regulation. If JPM with all its risk managers couldn't get the trade right what are the odds that some regulator is going to be able to figure out the trade and determine whether it is prudent or not. The simple reality is that regulation is another opportunity for financial engineering. The financial industry confronted with a regulator who actually understands what they do will just end up hiring them. What person with a real understanding of the workings of these instruments would work at government pay scales when they could be earning 5-10 times working for a bank. It is sort of the equivalent of equipping the the 7th cavalry with bows and arrows and have them police the Sioux armed with rifles.

What we need instead is a simple set of rules- you can't do certain things and have access to insured deposits or the Federal Reserve discount window alternatively you can give up access to insured deposits and the Fed window and can do anything you want to. The focus of bank lobbying is to ensure that they have access to those vehicles in order to fund their risk taking activities.

Indeed. JPM lost $2B (so far) on the trade. But their market cap dropped by something like $16B.

Most of what's required is a very simple regulation to prevent banks being over-leveraged. Banks should be required to have equity of at least 30% of total liabilities.

If a bank's stockholders have invested $30 billion and the bank has borrowed $70 billion, a loss of $2 billion is unpleasant but not an existential threat. If stockholders have invested $2 billion and the bank has borrowed $98 billion, a $2 billion loss totally wipes out the value of the equity, and causes the lenders to want their money back. Leverage is a multiplier - the lever goes both ways. It works on losses just as well as it does on profits.

What Jamie Dimon Won’t Tell You: His Big Bank Would Be Dangerously Leveraged

Good points Greg. And thanks for the link.

There is only one true bank: the planet and it's resources. Using renewable resources creates short term debt that only time can repay. Using finite resources creates permanent debt that can never be repaid, here on Planet Earth and in any time frame that matters to humanity. This debt includes much of the waste stream we create. What we call banks and debt are only complex human constructs to turn planetary capital into planetary debt, and to control (increase) extraction rates and who benefits most/least, short term.

While use of renewable capital lags demand, unpayable non-renewable debt will accumulate to offset the under-utilization of renewables. Until humans balance their extraction rate of renewables with demand, and eliminate their use of yet-to-be-extracted finite resources, both real and virtual debt will increase; a negative sum game. Anything beyond this reality is an illusion, a process of growing our overshoot debt bomb. There is no virtual reality, since this is oxymoronic.

One solution exists: Reduce human population while increasing renewable capital utilization rates until balance is acheived. This won't be a choice...

Yair . . . as far as I can see all we have is here on this little blue planet . . . it changes form (and It's form is changed by time and hastened a thousand fold by us) but it's still all we have.

The only external input into the system is sunlight which indirectly makes the wind and waves.

Or am I wrong?


Chesapeake Energy Corp said it had received a $3 billion loan from Goldman Sachs

Now why is it I'm picturing headlines in the next 6-12 months of "Goldman Sachs loses 3 billion to bankrupt Chesapeake energy", followed by "Record-high natural gas prices as buyers scramble to replace bad Chesapeake supply contracts"

Keep in mind that the house (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, the Fed, etc.) never loses. They just create money to cover their losses.

How does it feel to live in a casino economy?


Will never happen (gas interruption due to some bankruptcy). If the gas could keep flowing into Europe from Russia even after the collapse of the USSR, gas can keep flowing out of Pennsylvania during a Chapter 11.

Shale gas to put South Australia on front foot

Advocates of fracking could be the new snake oil salesmen who give false hope to the sick. Conventional wisdom is that South Australia's gas reserves were running low and that it should build nuclear power stations. In fact the expansion of Olympic Dam mine in the north of the State requires a new power source to run the facilities as well as a desalination plant on the coast 300km from the mine. OD is the world's biggest uranium deposit and could become the world's biggest mine. It is believed the 18c per litre Federal diesel tax rebate for mining was recently pulled after threats to quit the mine expansion. SA's current energy mix is 44% gas and 26% wind power. Ageing coal stations are to be run as summer peakers perhaps with a solar steam boost.

Concerns about gas supply had shelved plans to build more wind farms and to build a 400km gas pipeline to Olympic Dam mine. A return to dry conditions will also mean a lot of energy is required for desalination for the city of Adelaide, my old home town. What if the optimistic forecasts for increased gas supply don't work out? We can't really afford years of dithering on alternatives while waiting for fracking to deliver. Outside the US shale fracking enthusiasts must demonstrate quick results or be ignored. I think we should ignore them anyway so any significant gas finds are a bonus.

I don't like to tell other countries what to do, but I think we'd all be better off if y'all left all that uranium in the ground.

And ironically, Olympic Dam is just a short step from a vast area of SA that was used for British nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s and 1960s, and huge no-go areas still exist.

And SA has a lot of potential besides the dubious sustainability of shale gas from fracking in what is essentially a desert. There are prospects for geothermal, solar, wind, tidal, and wave, as well. No hydro - for obvious reasons!

Update: today in Adelaide an oil and gas conference starts.
Speakers include oil optimists like Saudi oil minister Al-Naimi and peakists like Total's de Margerie. Meanwhile down at the docks huge mining machines are being unloaded from suppliers like Caterpillar US. That is for Olympic Dam and other new mines who remember got a cut to the diesel subsidy cancelled. I don't think the timing is coincidental as major industries like mining and agriculture keep needing reassurance on fossil fuel supplies. I wonder if de Margerie will kill the party mood.

"I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused"

I used to be very passionate about these things when I was young. Spent the bulk of my life trying to change things. Now I am old. We failed. Oh well. Fortunately for me I don't have any children. Everything has a finite lifetime. Including this civilization.

I'm glad I discovered peak oil! I knew about from a forum thread way back in 2001 when I was 12, but dismissed it as hokum. I don't take anything for granted any longer. I don't think commodities such as food, gasoline, electronics are expensive any more. I try to envision the transportation path of items that have arrived in local department stores or markets. My fears of rejection in love or being unsucessful in general, with regard to employment, presentations, finding a residence or the like are gone. I would like a few years of the good life before collapse strikes, but I can't be sure of it. Anyway, every irrational, post-modern fear such as anxiety pales to utter insignificance in light of this juggernaut.

I was confronted by the post office clerk when mailing a book the other day. She wanted to know what bank I was using and whether I knew about their particular affiliated bank's pension and savings accounts plans (I'm 22). I just started laughing heartily. The Norwegian Wealth Fund may be $.5 trillion, but I won't see a dime of that when I'm 67 in 45 years (the current semi-standard retirement age, which most definitely won't be kept at that level for much longer), as its prosperity is tied to bonds, stocks and whatnot in the rest of the world. Apparently Norway is only 40% self-sufficient in food items (grain, dairy products, whatever). I thought it was in the range 70-80%, but no, it's only about 1/3 of the total amount of food needed to keep the Norwegian stock of 5 million alive for a year. And the promise of another million is being fallaciously hailed as a positive development.

Most people in the last 50-60 years (before that I don't think the term progress had any particular significance) have had these expectations that every generation leading up to their own have been better than the one preceding it. They believe this will continue ad infinitum, through the innovate force that is human ingenuity. I leafed through my sister's high school science textbook, and quickly found the chapter regarding energy sources. The author of that part apparently meant it sufficient to detail fossil fuels and their inevitable depletion with only 5 or 6 sentences. The final sentence was a rhetorical question, something along the lines of "Is it ethnical of us to expend fossil fuels without regard for future generations?". I suppose most people are aware that fossil fuels aren't that abundant, yet they tank up with 12.5 barrels (160litres) or so (I don't know what the overhead for refining fuel is, so it could be like 20 when you consider all costs) worth every year. In Norway, the gas prices is more discussed than food prices, even though only something like 3% of an average paycheck goes towards filling up 2000litres a year. We have a saying that goes "first myself, then myself, then 'my next of kin', but only if it serves my best interests" (or natively: "først meg selv, så meg selv, så min neste, men bare hvis det fører til mitt eget beste").

I'm profoundly worried about my sister who's 16 and 6 years my minor. I wish she wouldn't have to experience this impending/looming/forthcoming, ugly transition (although I feel it'll be more like an extinction event. Transition carries with it too positive connotations). I don't have children either, and will be damned sure not to produce any (not like I will have to make an effort not to, with my lack of sexual prowess). I'd like to visit the US and my family there. Apparently about 50 from both my father's and mother's sides emigrated around 1900.

What I wish for the most in the coming period is to find a friend or two with inclinations, convictions and observations closely reminiscent to my own. Perhaps I and that person could discuss, plan for the future, or at least stick together. My other friends are ignorantly dismissive of what is to come. They believe the future only will hold positives, and I've been yelled at more than once when disarming their arguments. "Someone smarter than us will figure it out a way to keep the vehicular desires of the people satisfied". Yes yes, they will replace a few billion cars with new ones, running on technology X. I even approached a Mensa forum asking if they had discussed peak oil or similar peak events' possible outcomes. All I got out of it was panglossian disorder nonsense like "thorium, dude, Norway got lots of it", "technology" or "renewables". The smartest guy I know dismissed it as well, but I suppose it's because it's difficult to imagine your two children who aren't even 10 living in an impoverished, quite different world a few decades (or earlier) from now.

Peak oil awareness has made, like another poster in this thread said, easier to find useful prospects for how to spend your time. I've become quite minimalist (or elitist, whichever term tickles your fancy) in the last 3-5 months. I only buy what I need after researching properly, and threw away or gave to charity any items I decided was not in use and was not going to be used (clothing, electronics, gadgets). I try to focus on the important things: experiences, family, learning useful crafts. Nevertheless, I've been in abject depression for the best part of 2012 and more than once considered suicide. At the very least I want to know what the best way to end life is, should events necessitate it.

What bothers me the most is I have none to talk to about this.

What bothers me the most is I have none to talk to about this.

Hey Depressedalot, hang in there! There are a few people you can talk to. At least the majority of the people on this forum get it. BTW ending life is easy, it's staying alive that's hard.

"Navegar é preciso; viver não é preciso"
Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet.

Roughly translated it means "To navigate is necessary; to live is not necessary" However it is a bit of a play on words because it can also mean "Navigation is precise; life is not precise.

Caetano Veloso the Brazilian composer did a great song with this poem.

Os Argonautas


BTW ending life is easy, it's staying alive that's hard.

As someone who has seriously attempted suicide, I'll have to respectfully disagree with that. Well, someone in the developed world, at least.

Henricksson, I happen to possess both the technology and the skill set to painlessly slip out of this existence in just a matter of a few minutes... my point was, that I do understand where depression might make finding the motivation to go on living a rather daunting and seemingly hopeless task. I would never minimize those feelings! Be well!

From the tone of your posts and your screen name, your state of mind is patently obvious. I think many here have been through some of this, although I'm not so sure about the suicide part. I ain't exactly the happiest dude on the planet, far from it but, I think I've come a far way in terms of accepting my circumstances.

Being a naturally curious person, I want to be alive to see how this all plays out. Hopefully I'll be able to help some folks understand what is happening along the way. I don't expect things to play out all that quickly either.

At first you get the feeling that you need to rush prepare for when TSHTF then you realize that things aren't happening all that fast. It's sort of like watching plants grow, if you stand there watching them you'll get bored silly.

For example, in another 2 weeks it'll be 4 years since I made my first post on TOD. I thought we'd be well into decline by now. On the other hand, I have done things over the last 4 and a half years to hopefully improve my circumstances post peak. Being in the tropics, I have invested in some solar PV, a good year round source of electricity. I have employed a laborer to tend to the family land in the rural part of the island with a view to resuscitating some of the crops that were already there and putting some new ones. I've sourced some African Oil Palm plants, to see how well they do on the land and know where I can get more if they do well.

Now I feel a little more laid back. I have the feeling that I will have plenty of time to make adjustments as I go along, especially since I'm mentally prepared and have taken a couple of baby steps already. At the same time, I intend to enjoy life as much as I can and intend to travel when I can, before air travel becomes the province of the very wealthy. I also want to try and help my Dad avoid suffering in the twilight of his life. He'll be 94 in two weeks and thankfully in reasonable physical health.

I think you'll find that compared to poor starving children in India or Africa you've got a very good life. TOD can provide constant source of examples of what other people are doing in their lives and the contributions they are making in their fields of work.

Alan from the islands

I'm well aware of my sizeable share of the world's resources. I suppose that's why I dislike the prospect of having them taken away by "force majeure". I display very typical human/mammalian/animal behaviour in that regard.

As far as everything transpiring slowly: maybe I would've felt like that if I took this threat seriously at age 12 and started preparations (mental, equipment-wise, skill-wise) then. At 22 and in 2012 I doubt there's much I can do. Maybe I can stay alive for a few weeks more than the people who storm the grocery stores when supply trucks stop arriving or 60% of the grain we consume cannot be imported any longer.

Maybe it's good we're so few that appreciate what's brewing. I surmise the alternative being preemptive (although warranted) wide-spread panic.

D.A.L ..

Do keep in mind the nagging possibility that we're wrong, here at TOD.. or at least that we are really no better than anyone ever has been at seeing what's coming, how it will play out, here, there or somewhere else..

Maybe it'll be screaming, bloodshed and horrific nightmares, and then again, maybe not.

That thread up above about how we're different and think differently from 'them on the outside'.. it's classic. We ARE them.. we're barely different, except that 'we're the ones in this little room, for the moment'.

The difference IS that we are willing to talk about this particular issue, and try to wrap our minds around it. That in itself is very valuable to me. I have a couple friends around here who get PO and we chew over it.. but most folks are so harried, just trying to get through the day that they CAN'T have the conversation at the level we do here. It's usually not an option.

Take a peek at some books on edible wild plants, by the way. There is a lot of knowledge out there.. and knowing about just a few weeds could go far if the groceries do get knocked out. It's good to have a couple backup options waiting in the wings!

This one is from an article in 1970 ..

Do keep in mind the nagging possibility that we're wrong, here at TOD

It is possible that, somehow, the technocopians are correct. Along with the 'humans will reach enlightenment' ala dawning of the age of Aquarius/Singularatarians/Space aliens show up and teach Man so they can join the stars being right.

King Louie of France convicted a servant of theft and sentenced him to death, but the servant pleaded with the King that by one year he would teach his horse to talk if he would spare his life. The King was amused and gave him one year to teach his horse to talk.... Later the man's friend told him "you know you can not teach a horse to talk" but the man said "a lot can happen in a year" -- The King may die. I may die. The horse may die. ... The horse may talk.

It is not an all or nothing thing. Instead of collapse or techno-utopia, it is far more likely that we'll just muddle along in between. There will be advances in conservation, there will be advances in oil recovery, there will be reductions in lifestyle, there will be a slowing in population growth, etc.

That's what I'm about; being just a little better muddler than the next guy :-0

I agree with speculawyer.

Or the strains of muddling along will break us. My real fear is that political opportunists will exploit the frustrations and tyranny will take over. There are lots of maladaptive ways this could go down.

Why jump to the other extreme? Cause you KNOW it'll bug me, right?

We could still be wrong, and THEY wrong as well. I'm hardly about to give a pass to the Free-market Utopitistas or the Singularitee Party..

Or the Space Aliens show up and "rapture" lots of fat people up into the sky. It turned out that the Space Aliens like people who are fat, since their metabolism requires a high fat diet. The skinny people were Left Behind to breed and fatten for the next "rapture" to Heaven...

E. Swanson

I would've felt like that if I took this threat seriously at age 12 and started preparations (mental, equipment-wise, skill-wise) then. At 22 and in 2012 I doubt there's much I can do

I know a few 'aged hippies' who thought the world was going to go off the rails back in the 1970's and point out how they didn't 'follow the herd' and complain in their advanced years where they are ATM.

You don't know if the pushers of 2012-solar-EMP-hits are right (as an example). But what you can do now is start learning how to make biomass stoves. How to garden, process raw food onto the plate or the storage larder. Play with things like http://bitponics.com/ if that is within your skill sets.

Spend some time looking at the effects of diet on health - then modify what you are doing.

Even if you have 1 month of canned goods - you are doing better than most of the others around you. And having that one month along with an ability to take local twigs/sticks and being able to cook/make hot water means you have coverage for when the power goes out for a bit due to a local event like snow.

Your stories both remind me a little bit of myself. When I initially came to the realization that humanity as we know it was 'a fraud' (unsustainable) I too became depressed. I looked at all the scientific data and it seemed to me that the more research I did, the grimmer the numbers got. After this realization I probably spent a year of feeling depressed and down on life. Eventually however, I started to accept the reality of the situation and move into acceptance. What still worries me most is the catastrophic overshoot that the world is in, I wish we could have been mature (?sensible) about population control. This could have ensured a decent quality of life for those living. Realistically speaking, I doubt overpopulation will ever be addressed by anything other than hard-resource limits, and sadly a die-off seems imminent in the not too distant future.

However, like Alan, I too am know curious about how things will play out. We have the opportunity to witness an enormous event in human culture, this alone makes me want to stick around for as long as possible! If TSHTF then at least I advantage of having already gone through the grieving stage. So, what am I going to do? Well, I'm going to try to get myself into the best position possible (most sustainable) and just hope for the best! In the meantime I'm going to make the most of life now and if collapse does transpire then at least I've made my peace with it.

Sometimes I like to remind myself that whatever happens to me, all humans, or even to this planet is completely insignificant when looking at things on a universal scale. Face it, Earth is just a rock, one tiny speck in a giant universe. For some strange reason I find solice in this :)

Indeed, why would anyone kill themselves now as things are just starting to get "interesting". I was bored silly before peak oil. Now it's thrills, terror, investigations, building stuff, growing stuff and finding forgotten knowledge.

Before i had no reason to do any of this. All I had to do was play along from 9-5 and then watch tv. Worse than being dead, frankly.

I just finished reading about one of the Norwegian heroes of the WW II resistance.


Today he tries to grow all his own food on 10 mal near Hvalstad, He also founded the Progress Party and is controversial in Norway.

Many frustrations and fears for years. Friends captured & tortured to death. the apathy of most Norwegians.

He begs the British for many months for more explosives - none come. And then he is ordered to stop all German troop trains - with just 6 kg ! Enough for two trains.

Perhaps you can visit him or others.

Life is a struggle - but we can get out of it what we out into it :-)

Best Hopes,


EGO passed away last November, and as far as his sucesses and accomplishments go, few Norwegians can rival them. His views are not very controversial to me, and I resent that they downplayed his merits in the media (nearly all journalists here have left-wing inclinations).

He was a human being - not a movie hero. Which made his struggles against great odds, and bureaucracy, even more heroic.

The funniest story was two women that owned a bakery - and feed the resistance.

After the war, the British gave them medals. The Norwegian Gov't fined them for selling bread to people without a ration card.

Oh Well,


DAL – Suicide is always an option for any of us. OTOH: “I'm profoundly worried about my sister who's 16 and 6 years my minor. I wish she wouldn't have to experience this impending...transition.” So exactly how would your death improve her future life? I’ve got a 12 yo daughter so I fully understand your feelings. Maybe even more so since my multiple sclerosis will eat away the rest of my brain cells before she’s very long into her adult life and facing the challenges of PO and probably Peak Everything Else. Add that to the fact that her mom and I adopted her in China when we were well up in age and my daughter will have no living relatives for support during most of her adult life. So what I’ve done is make sure she’s a good student, understands how life works and make sure she enjoys her current life…she’s a first class athlete and enjoys the heck out of it. In the future her life will be what she makes of it.

So will it be difficult for her because of all the terrible things coming in the future? Maybe…maybe not. Not only depends upon what that future brings but also how she deals with it. Don’t know you so I don’t know if you’ll be of much benefit to your sister in the future difficult times. But at least you have the option of being there for her. Something I don’t have with my daughter. But, perhaps oddly, I'm not the least bit depressed. Worried a tad? For sure. But wouldn't life be dull if there was nothing to worry about? LOL. In fact, I consider myself very lucky to be presented with these problems. Where I grew up in south Louisiana we have a term: lagniappe. It’s like getting something nice as an extra. Like that 13th donut when you buy a dozen. I consider my last 40 some years, including my condition and concerns about my daughter’s future to be lagniappe. After I graduated high school my destiny appeared to be dying in a rice paddy but that didn’t happen. Be a little dumb to throw away what’s left of that lagniappe just because the future looks difficult, don’t you think?

Rock, please check out this link. DR. Terry Whals has made quite a recovery from M.S. using nutrition instead of drugs.


and here is her TED talk link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

Take a look, it might be of some use to you.


Mark - Thanks...I'll check it out. So far my meds are holding me static. But I wouldn't mind giving up sticking a needle in my thigh 160 times a year. LOL. Actually I’m not in too bad a physical state from the MS. I was being a tad dramatic for DAL’s benefit. At the moment my worn out knees are giving me more grief. Three surgeries w/o much relief so I think whole knee replacement is next. The upside is I have fun with the hands on the drill rigs when I’m out there hobbling around on my crutches. My favorite line with the young ones: “See these crutches? Don’t make the mistake I did”. Of course they always ask what I did. With a stern look I answer: “I got old.”

You gotta grab your joy where you can, eh?

Please forgive me if the following seems 'hlepy.'
Hlepy is a coined word indicating ostensible help that is either undesirable or actively unhelpful. Your English is excellent, by the way, it always amazes me how well Scandinavians tend to write English. My Danish grandfather spoke 7 languages (he was born in 1915 in the U.S. in a home where Danish was the first language)

The above comment reads like a cry of pain, I want you to know that it isn't a cry in the wilderness. People do care. Not everybody, but enough people. An awful lot of folks have battled depression for years, and many have had suicidal ideation. I understand where you are coming from, and I know a lot of folks who do as well.

I am personally not very onboard with the mental health community, but I know a lot of folks who have been helped by professionals. It's worth looking into if you are mentally where your posts seem to indicate. Different things work for different people of course, but as much as I dislike the idea of seeing a therapist, it gives you someone to talk to who has immense experience with exactly the sort of feelings you are having. I promised myself a long time ago that if my depression reached the point where I were seriously considering suicide for an extended period, I would seek professional assistance and give it a fair shake before ever acting on impulse (which impulses I have thankfully not had recently).

In reading your posts it sounds like you are an intelligent 22, a sysadmin and student, nearing university graduation, from secular middle-class family in Norway, whom you love, but who nonetheless don't understand you all that well. You are a late bloomer socially, which can engender much of the angst you seem to be feeling, but which is not atypical for intelligent young men, and certainly not unusual at 22.

You worry about macro things like peak oil, and food security, and the money system, etc. You have that in common with a lot of us, although there is abroad spectrum of opinion here about details. Sometimes our individual conclusions seem a bit conclusory, and you should keep in mind that predictions are hard and could well be wrong. There's nothing wrong with making preparations for unlikely events, even if those unlikely events are the continuance of a semblance of BAU. Keep your options open.

Some off-the-wall thoughts:
You express an interest in travel/family, and a certain lack of enthusiasm for sys admin. Have you considered working your way on an international holiday after your graduation? There are places where you can legally support yourself on holiday, and other where informal work is not unavailable. Have you made any contact with your family in the U.S? They might be excited to hear from you.

You talk about the lack of locally available produce and the cornucopia at the supermarket. Have you considered a small garden? It can be rewarding to the right psyche. Doing something/anything is a great antidote for depression. If it's productive that's even better.

Getting a driver's license is positive growth in your ability to adapt to whatever this world may throw at you, whether you avoid a high-BTU footprint or not, cars aren't going to disappear entirely in the next decade. Everyone here probably agrees that it's better to structure your life to avoid overuse of the auto, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't know how to use one.

With a 6 year age gap, your younger sister and your social groups have probably been largely separate for a few years, but at 16 she is probably starting to enter a more adult world. I know nothing about your family dynamic, but you may be able to provide a bridge for her to activities that your parents would be uncomfortable with her pursuing alone. Your social opportunities may improve if you have a socially adept younger sister interested in creating opportunities for you both. I know I tagged along with older siblings, and did what I'm describing with younger siblings, and it certainly helped prevent my social growth from being even more stunted than it otherwise would have been.

Anyway, keep on keeping on.

Nice Ben21.

Dude, your country used to be united with Denmark.

Nowadays, it's effectively united with all of Europe, but certainly with your other Scandic neighbors. Yes, Norway imports food. So what? You might have to start speaking Danish again, but you won't go hungry. Just hoarse.

While I don't post that often, I still take time out of my day to read every TOD entry, and attendant comments. I've noticed you crop up recently, and would like to welcome you to one of the rational communities out in the soup that makes up social existence. I know the internet is not really a substitute for real daily interaction, but we should appreciate what we get, no?

My first few years of college were definitely my best in terms of satisfaction. I had an active social life, a serious and supportive romantic relationship, and a life/career trajectory that seemed to be looking up. However, after getting in over my head in an intensive engineering school and experiencing a breakup that set me back significantly, I decided to take stock of what I was doing and figuring out what was up in the world.

I've found that young people who are celebrating the prime of their twenties just aren't that interested. They want to have fun. Peak oil /= fun. The irony of it all is that after my journey of understanding what I call the Societal Endgame, I want exactly what they want.

Let me explain m thinking. I, like some TOD members, have concluded that the time to fix our structural gaps was decades ago. We are now well deep into overshoot, and I just don't see a way out of the Societal Endgame. With this in mind, wouldn't I want to enjoy the time I have now instead of making (what I would consider) futile gestures that just further isolate me from my aspirations?

What's aspiration 1? My last relationship really imprinted on me the need to go through this life with a life partner that you'll defend to the last breath. I found it and then lost it. Ever since then, I've tried to get back something similar to what I had, to no avail, so far. I know well that my interest in the world has probably made me much harder to connect with. But I've got to try anyway. I've decided that if I can't achieve this, then nothing else holds much meaning to me. While I have in intellectual interest in seeing how the Societal Endgame plays out, I won't be particularly interested in surviving it without a special someone. So, some might call that a conditional suicide plan. That probably comes off as utterly irrational, but it is what it is.

So if this is so important to me, what would achieving it do? Aspiration 2. I want to experience the natural and human worlds I have studied so much of. To touch its dirt, smell its air, see its brilliance and danger, feel its history. To stand atop its greatest structures, both natural and human. To ride its tranquil and raging engines, both natural and human. To hear the power and delicacy of its music, both natural and human. Whether that requires me to use air travel, consume gasoline, spend money into the great ponzi of our financial paradigms, or to inadvertently damage ecosystems, is not concerning to me considering that they are all disappearing regardless of my individual actions.

To enjoy my journey towards the Societal Endgame with a better half. That's what would be fun for me. It's not really responsible, it's not really sustainable. I'm not particularly interested in seeing what comes afterwards, unless I have something (someone, really) to live for.

I'm not making much progress here, and that's when depressive cycles stalk my mindscape. Daily living can be rough. Sometimes it's overwhelming when you contemplate the starkness of things, and for long enough. You're not alone.

The best way to end life is with a sigh
With your children and grandchildren standing by
...so many dreams fulfilled
...few projects left undone
...somewhere happy for your dog to go.
Without bitterness...
Without horrors committed
Leaving only beauty to flash by

Prowess has no meaning. A massage shower has great prowess, as do two Leclanche cells and a Mabuchi. The relationship is what is received/remembered/celebrated as meaningful, even within the single night. Even its illusion holds more magic.

Distraction has great power of happiness. Meaning then becomes a question.

Without friends and family to remember, the meaning of all of your moments "will be lost... to time... like... tears... in the rain".

I would much rather be 23 and in Norway right now and onward into any future.

The doomers will all die. All of them. Many from growing old. What a waste, when doom does not come. It is a way of life that has been going on for thousands of years. They even have a revealing book. Don't dance, don't sing, don't fly a kite, for it detracts from the seriousness of the situation and puts dangerous ideas in your head.

Make a little stash, have a plan, live without waste... these are all to the good anyway. Then dance and sing, fly a kite and frolic, lend your hand to the common good IF YOU MUST!

The other option is the power sander.


Circle Game


I know enough to know that such words as these may have no meaning. Serious sadness often radiates from childhood. You can seek the talking cure... but do beware the white powders offered. The uptake inhibitors are capricious in their action. To your perception, are your thoughts losing order? They seem well-ordered from out here.

Learning about issues discussed on TOD and other sites can be depressing, I believe that's why a lot of people simply refuse to discuss certain issues or to do anything about it, they can't deal with it so block it as a self defense mechanism.

The optimal situation is one where someone thinks meaningfully again and makes sense of life in a new way.

Sounds like you're on the path to making sense of life in a new way becoming a minimalist.

Don't be upset or down because friends or family don't believe or wont even listen to your ideas, no one I know accepts the concept of peak anything or any possible future problems caused by man, to them it's all the fault of various politicians. I believe Dimitry Orlov said something to the effect of you wouldn't be mad at a pet who had no reaction after being told about peak oil.

Learning about wild edible plants and gardening have helped me. Periodic escapism into books and video games has also been some help even if some consider it unhealthy. I'm unable to turn off my brain and it gets tired with worry, periodic escapism into fantasy helps, it's a better way to escape from yourself than suicide.

I believe Dimitry Orlov said something to the effect of you wouldn't be mad at a pet who had no reaction after being told about peak oil.

I would!


How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog
by Chad Orzel

Cheer up. Right now I reside in India, you should come down here sometime, you'll find that you live in paradise but do I get depressed, No. Life has plenty to offer. Take life as it comes.

I am also in my mid twenties and I too have no one talk to about things like these, In that sense TOD and a few other sites fill a critical void for me. Since knowing bout PO and other things I've lost weight, gained fitness, cut down on my consumption and possessions. I keep giving away my stuff collected over the years for free to others, my friends think I've gone crazy but I've actually never felt better.

Also I agree with comment above..the PO implications may come to a naught, cornucopians might be right and we might have a fairy tale after all (Though the chances for that are less). Who knows ? All sustainability efforts must make sense now and must make the world a better place as it exists today not some twenty years in the future.

Great thoughts but you are trying to use logic to a depressed person...this is equivalent to saying "pick yourself up by the boot straps and fix yourself." Sometimes you need meds to get over the bad part and behavioral and cognitive adjustments long term. Everyone should get their own perspective on reality and not rely on mass media to shape it for you. On occasion stop reading the news and look around your own world...how are things there? Do they deny or support what you read.

Let me second what Dragonfly said. Taking a news fast every now and then is essential for my mental health, such as it is.

A must, and good for your cognitive health.

I appreciate "where you come from", to use an American idiom. My otherwise composed self overflowed into what culminated as last night's rant. I like your minimalist sentiment, the same thing has happened to me. Friends and family are puzzled as to why my room is bereft of anything but a computer and the bare necessities with regard to clothing. Norway anno 2012 is pretty much at its peak as far as everything goes, it will be downhill from here. I value that it's possibly one of the best places to be, but like the below poster said, depression can't be reasoned with. I take daily walks and try to become fit as well, but procrastinatory habits have mounted since learning of PO.

Thanks for all other comments. I'm not really contemplating suicide and feel ashamed for thinking about and suggesting it.

Little advice from someone who suffers from chronic depression and has attempted suicide (prior to Peak Oil awareness). YOU DO NOT KNOW THE FUTURE. When I was in the throes of my depression, I thought I could predict where the world was going, what people were going to do. YOU CANNOT DO THIS. You CAN control yourself. Being depressed also makes you very selfish (i.e. screw the world and everyone in it). Find a way to be selfless. This was the key for me about 13 years ago. My wife and I decided to have a kid. Now...I am too busy and focused on my two boys (teaching them things I feel important) to worry about myself.

You may be too young to have kids or you don't want any, but you could work with kids (like Big Brothers, Big Sisters here in the States).

In a way TOD has helped me over the years....always felt something was not quite right in my world view and TOD has shed some light on that feeling.

My motto for myself is now "If something is not worthwile 51% of the time, don't do it" AND "No matter how you feel today, hang on tomorrow b/c something may change or I may feel differently then."

Lastly, find your sense of humor...even if it is dark and sarcastic...laugh at yourself, laugh about others...one day you will laugh with others.

Email me if you need some more offline conversation.

Hi, DAL,
You are welcome here! I have been reading your comments and am interested in what you bring to the discussion. I have been fighting acute depression for over 30 years; you are not alone. Regular aerobic exercise helps me a lot with my symptoms. I've also taken medication a few times to get off a rut.

What I wish for the most in the coming period is to find a friend or two with inclinations, convictions and observations closely reminiscent to my own. Perhaps I and that person could discuss, plan for the future, or at least stick together.

I think this is a really good strategy.

I am a Baby Boomer (born of WW2 parents in the early 50s) and we as a cohort are definitely going to go down that path. As we enter our dotage - not that far away now it seems - many of us see the reality of not just Peak Oil (and Peak Everything Else) - but more importantly, the value of our superannuation and pension investments being vulnerable, and how we could be screwed really quickly.

Some of us are talking about baby-boomer communes - or something similar - we can live the sustainable lifestyle we rejected in 1975, when we thought we cold get out there and make a fortune.

But lots of boomers will be smart ... we will survive indeed. So hang in there!

Everything has a finite lifetime. Including this civilization.

Assuming there are Humans left afterwords - what should the next 'civilization' look like?

A caretaking based culture.

Iran oil production rises despite sanctions, OPEC says

This article, from Tehran Times, is an outright bald face lie. OPEC said no such thing. A little explanation is needed here. Last month the OPEC Oil Market Report (click on Oil Market Report) started reporting, in addition to their traditional production report from "secondary sources", a production report from "direct communication".

What this means is OPEC production according to what "secondary sources" say they produced and what the countries "themselves say". So according to what Iran says, (not OPEC says), they did produce more in 2011 than they did in 2010. But they did not according to everyone else except Iran themselves.

Iran production according to Iran in kb/d:
Iran says:
2010   2011
3,544  3,576

Iran production according to secondary sources in kb/d:
2010   2011
3,706  3,621

But all this was well before sanctions. Sanctions are scheduled to start July 1st. But according to OPEC's Oil Market Report things are already starting to decline quite dramatically with Iran's crude oil production. Just look what's happened since December 2011.

Iran Crude Only production according to OPEC's OMR "Secondary Sources" in kb/d. Last data point is April 2012.


Ron P.

Data from Bloomberg Reveals that 71% of Tar Sands Production Owned by Foreign Interests

New briefing report by ForestEthics Advocacy calls into question the true beneficiaries of Harper’s pro-oil policies

Edited to remove excessive quoting. Please do not quote the entire article. This is for copyright as well as bandwidth reasons. Post a brief excerpt, or paraphrase the key point in your own words.

Sorry Leanan,

I couldn't decide what to excerpt!


Tar Sands Oil Companies 71 Percent Foreign-Owned - Cue Ezra Levant's Outrage

James Hansen - Game Over for the Climate

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

Why is NASA's Dr. Hansen picking on the 71% foreign-owned tar sands play? He's not being fair to these corporations!

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

So yeast, lets see how much sugar we can consume.

Game is really over if they start tapping methane hydrates. Look at this figure:

The methane hydrates if all combusted will add ten times the amount of CO2 that we will get from conventional oil.

What is probably the most incredulous part of this figure is that the methane hydrates are so geospatially widespread that the cumulative number seems either seriously underestimated or else that the actual methane hydrates will have such a low density that the “harvesting” of the hydrates will involve the most technically impressive efforts that mankind has ever produced.

Think about it, if we only extract 1/100th of the area shown, and if the hydrates are uniformly spread out, then we go to a resource that is only 1/10 the equivalent amount of oil. Yet can anyone imagine harvesting even 1/100 of the shaded area? That is just an insanely monumental project.

Game's already over, at least to some extent. We're IN overshoot. If we humans succeed in tapping methane hydrates (I know there are pilot projects, in Japan for example) and we can do it economically/with decent EROEI, then we really, really will kill most everything along with ourselves. But so far they haven't been commercially produced. I hope they are ridiculous to produce, a massive energy loser.

What about lightning? Harvesting lightning bolts?

Fully exploiting the Canadian tar sands means to extract the entire resource which is not economically possible. I thought the URR is about 250 billion to 300 billion barrels of oil equivalent comparable to the URR of the U.S. for crude oil. While I do not intend to downplay global warming, Hansen seems to be exaggerating.

Environmental radicalism in Canada!

    Radical Groups - Rick Mercer Report

     :  )

The end of thought?

Jeff Rubin forgets that knowledge, not cheap oil, brings growth

More than its shaky analysis of energy prices and supplies, the bigger problem with The End of Growth is Rubin’s lack of understanding of the ultimate sources of economic growth. Economic growth took off over the last couple of centuries not because of cheap oil but because of the rapid increase in the exchange and creative use of knowledge. As Matt Ridley concluded in The Rational Optimist, “a billion pages of knowledge make up the book of human prosperity.” Of course, one of the first areas where we applied this knowledge was finding new energy sources to lower its price, and we’ll undoubtedly do that again.

What kind of mileage do you get when your transportation system is fueled with "[the] exchange and creative use of knowledge"?

I should have chosen a softer wall to bang my head against after reading this drivel from the Financial Post.

This deranged dude is allowed to write for Reader's Digest that is read by the millions for mainly their jokes, and inadvertently swallow this swill. Seriously, the corporate world's CEO's and CFOs live in a bubble created by their own Investor relations power point slides. Reality is messy and vague, but their stories create order out of chaos, then it becomes difficult to see anything else.

Matt Ridley Chairman of Northern Rock - one of the perps of the great recession.


What kind of mileage do you get when your transportation system is fueled with "[the] exchange and creative use of knowledge"?

Just burn those "billion pages of knowledge that make up the book of human prosperity.” and power your little steam engine that could... Hmm, then again how well do Kindle pages burn?! Guess it's time to get more creative. Undoubtedly we'll do it again!

When will you reality based folk finally get through your thick skulls that THERE ARE NO LIMITS!!

"Just burn those "billion pages of knowledge "

This reminds me that we used to say in the nuclear industry that we could get more energy by burning all the paper we generated than the reactor would ever produce.

ROFL. It's not even honest about the basic history. When it was first seriously produced, "rock oil" was used for lighting, not fuel/energy.

Well . . . lighting is a use of energy.

Ever notice that people that say ~"knowledge & creativity will save us" are rarely ever those with the "knowledge & creativity" that will save us (the scientists & engineers). Instead it is economists, managers, ideologues, and other people that really don't have a grip on the scientific and engineering problems.

The last line of that paragraph was the true stupidity. . . .

More than its shaky analysis of energy prices and supplies, the bigger problem with The End of Growth is Rubin’s lack of understanding of the ultimate sources of economic growth. Economic growth took off over the last couple of centuries not because of cheap oil but because of the rapid increase in the exchange and creative use of knowledge. As Matt Ridley concluded in The Rational Optimist, “a billion pages of knowledge make up the book of human prosperity.” Of course, one of the first areas where we applied this knowledge was finding new energy sources to lower its price, and we’ll undoubtedly do that again.

We'll undoubted do it again? What? You don't think people have been working energy the whole time? They have been working on it the whole time and we have made incremental advances. But there hasn't been a really "new" energy system since nuclear power plants came on-line some 50 years ago. That's what the economists just don't get . . . the scientists and engineers are constrained by laws of physics and thermodynamics. We just don't know of any new easy cheap sources of energy. It is you Canadians that have brought one the biggest things we have in oil production these days . . . . washing oil off of oil-stained dirt. That's how much of a failure new energy source creation has been in the last 50 years.

And in the next paragraph he launches into how we created the smartphone and it is so great. Duh. He just don't get it. The reason those things work is because we were able to shrink an abstract concept of a bit down to a tiny voltage difference on a tiny transistor. It was an advance made by using LESS energy not more. It is the total opposite of our energy issues . . . we learned to represent bits with less energy thus making circuits smaller and faster but to move people around these days we find we need more energy since the people are fatter!

By one way of measuring "innovation", the climax of progress can be said have been in 1873. And indeed, the number of "earth-shattering" innovations seem to come around that time, most innovation today merely being about fine-tuning these innovations. Though a lot of these innovations in turn seem to have gained a lot of inspiration from the Hellenistic period*. In turn, a lot of the innovations from the Hellenistic period are taken from the more mature civilizations Alexander conquered, put under the lens of the scientific method. In a sense, a lot of the things we assume to be "modern" could be said to be ancient.

Meanwhile, the International Space Station have to use Soyuz shuttles, and will be mothballed in 2016, but the space cadets still dream of mankind conquering the galaxy. The narrative of progress is hard to buckle.

*And FFS, Heron of Alexandria was not some sort of universal genius. He lived in the early Imperial period, and his "innovations" should more realistically be assumed to be recordings of sources of the Hellenistic period which are not available today. He did not come up with the steam engine.

I'm guessing a lot of TODers would be interested in reading this book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Forgotten-Revolution-Science-Reborn/dp/3540203...

The third and second centuries BC witnessed, in the Greek world, a scientific and technological explosion. Greek culture had reached great heights in art, literature and philosophy already in the earlier classical era, but it was in the age of Archimedes and Euclid that science as we know it was born, and gave rise to sophisticated technology that would not be seen again until the 18th century. This scientific revolution was also accompanied by great changes and a new kind of awareness in many other fields, including art and medicine. What were the landmarks in the meteoric rise of science 2300 years ago? Why are they so little known today, even among scientists, classicists and historians? How do they relate to the post-1500 science that we are familiar with from school? What led to the end of ancient science? These are the questions that this book discusses, in the belief that the answers bear on choices we face today.

That's pretty much what Tony Blair said as well.


The letter says that the attack “was carried out to punish one of the many sorcerers of the atomic industry”.

Raise eyebrow - Sorcerers?

From the article:

A third bomb sent to the Greek Embassy four days later was defused


Heh, I read 'refused'...

The comeuppance of Chesapeake and its fellow snake-oil gas merchants is going to be interesting to watch isn't it? We have had talk of a big swing in electricity generation away from coal to gas, making use of this flush of inexpensive and (they say) cleaner fuel for the boilers. So the coal-bridge to cheap electricity generation appears to be well and truly burned.

This gas that is now running electricity generation is coming from wells whose production declines pretty well exponentially by 50% a year.

As stand-alone investments those wells hardly stand a chance of breaking even - its only when the entire production of Chesapeake is considered that there is anything that looks like an asset, but even that idea is now confirmed to be smoke and mirrors.

But as Chesapeake et al fail (as they surely must, and quite soon) they (or their receivers) will attempt to divest themselves of existing wells and un-drilled reserves a nice 'investment package' at a time.

But since at $2 a unit there is nothing in the running of these individual gas wells that will make any profit for a new owner they will not be sold. If one well cannot make a profit, doing them up in bunches of twelve wont make the picture any better for someone wondering what to do with some spare investment capital. In that state, to stop the fiscal rot of running each well, one at a time the wells can only be shut down, turned off, and left to rust.

There will follow a time of wild zig-zags in the price of gas as power plants and other users seek another 'equivalent' fuel source that provides more certainty in supply and price and a sufficient energy density to make it worth while to swap the fire box burners to a smaller diameter to handle a liquid fuel. With coal mines closed down, and gas supplies soon-to-be hissstory the only fuel sources left are our old friends liquid hydrocarbons conventional and unconventional. Which will exacerbate the rate of decline of those increasingly scarce resources, drive prices wild again, and 'round and 'round we go, ever downwards and down again again.

Oh what a twisted web we weave...!

The better options for the utilities would be to invest in

1) Efficiency
2) Wind Turbines
3) Solar PV
4) Pumped Storage

And use the remaining natural gas to "fill in the gaps" from above.

Best Hopes for Good Decisions,



- Geothermal
- New Hydro
- Rehabilitate existing Hydro
- Biomass
- Solar Thermal

where applicable

I live a mile from a new natural gas power plant along the Mississippi River. It is a common "combined" plant with two large gas turbines each turning a generator. The old coal fired plant next to it was left standing. The heat from the jet engines is used to make steam for one of the old steam turbines housed in the old coal plant to drive a third generator. The coal trains no longer come by and the coal pile is now grassland. The houses nearby no longer need frequent repainting due to coal dust. With less warm water coming from the steam condensers the river freezes up more in the winter. The ducks aren't happy, but the people are. I wonder if the jet turbines could be converted to use oil. Here in Minnesota we're ready for anything.

Great example ! I'd like to read more, can you post a link ?

nigwil – I agree with your sentiments in general. But a couple of clarifications. Actually in most trends operators would kill for a 50% first year decline rate. Numerous examples of 80-90% decline rates. A good while back an Eagle Ford Shale cornucopian was touting an initial flow rate of a specific well of 950 bopd. Unfortunately for him I have access to the TRRC data base and pulled that well up. Great initial flow rate but during its 13th month of production it averaged 93 bopd. The public company’s press release kept pointing out the 950 bopd figure but not once mentioned the 93 bopd. OTOH many of the wells are profitable per se. But typically just marginally. The high initial rates tend to recover the investment quickly and put them into the black. But the high decline rates kills the cash flow. And it’s that cash flow that’s needed to fund the required expanding drilling effort. And that appears to be CHK’s problem: insufficient capex to keep the game of musical chairs going.

But neither those marginal or even money losing wells will be abandoned. Doesn’t matter if the well never recovers half of its costs or makes 10X the profit it will only be produced as long as the cost (LOE: Lease Operating Expense) of actually producing the well is less than the revenue. If the well is producing $100/month of revenue to the operator and the LOE is $80/month the well won’t be abandoned. Won’t matter if the operator spent $6 million to drill the well but will ultimately make only $4 million net.

I doubt CHK will go into bankruptcy. Usually in such circumstances they are absorbed by another public company. The valuation will be based on current economic conditions. Won’t matter what CHK spent to drill those wells. At that time the value will be derived from their cash flow and perceived value of their undeveloped assets.

Thanks Rockman! So if I understand you correctly; cashflow is SO king that even if a well will loose a $million or more of capital, provided its day to day cashflow is positive it will be kept on line?

If that's so one has to wonder how long that can go on for? In a fiscal environment where the Madoffs of this world have all had their ponzi chequebooks taken off them, what real operator like yourself can afford that sort of game? With zero growth, interest or inflation how can a dollar invested in a capital-loosing well today ever see the light of day again?

What am I missing (apart from the Emperor's clothes?)

nigil – If that messes with your mind try this on. Real experiences I’ve gone through more times than I care to remember. Spend $6 million to drill a well and run my electric logs. Discover some hydrocarbons but unfortunately it looks like it will only net me $4 million. But to make that $4 million I have to spend $2 million more to run casing and complete it. So what do I do? I spend $2 million more on a well I won’t make back as much as I’ll spend on it in total. The $6 million initial cost is irrelevant at that decision point…it’s a “sunk cost”. The decision is simple: I spend $2 million to make $4 million and thus double my investment. Of course, I just spent $8 million to make $4 million.

And now I put it on production and it will take me 4 years to make that $4 million. But I need cash now to fund my drilling program. So I sell the well to another operator for $3 million. He’s happy: he’s making a certain 20% ROR. Of course I just turned my 100% return into a 50% return but now I have $3 million to drill my next exploratory well. So I do. And son of a b*itch…it’s a dry hole. So now I’ve spent $11 million and I don’t have a pot to p*ss in. LOL. BTW the guy that paid $3 million for the $4 million in reserves lost $500,000: prices collapsed a year after he bought the well.

And that can be life in the oil patch. Think about that the next time you hear that ExxonMobil or whoever made $XX billion revenue that year. Revenue is not profit. And when they say that company made $YY billion in profit that year doesn’t mean they made $YY billion profit on the wells they had drilled. It just means their income exceeded their expenses that year by $YY billion. Unless you have the specifics on each well a company drills it can be very difficult to know how well a company takes care of business.

A company might drill what appears to be successful wells during a period of time but then there’s a price collapse as there was with NG in ’08. Until that point in time Devon looked pretty dang good at their biz. Then prices collapsed. Not only did their cash flow go into the toilet, they also dropped 14 of the 18 drill rigs they had running in the east Texas shale gas play…and paid $40 million in cancellation penalties to do so. OTOH a company might spend $60/bbl to develop production that they are selling for $40/bbl. Losers, eh? But a few years later oil jumps to $90/bbl and they appear to be a very profitable company. Maybe you should invest your life savings in them. What could go wrong? And yes: there are companies losing money today even with oil selling above $110/bbl. Profitability is not determined by the price of oil…it’s the differential. Real life example: Until recently the best ROR I ever made for a client was in the mid 80’s when NG was selling for $1/mcf. Almost no one was drilling at that time. But I was lucky, found an angle and hit 23 out of 25 shallow NG wildcats. Cost me less than $0.30/mcf to develop those reserves.

Bottom line: even for us insiders with a great deal of data (that the public does not) it can be difficult to judge how another company is doing.

Thanks Rockman! Shake my head - it is all I can do! Keep up the great work!

nigwil - Had trouble sleeping last night and kept thinking about your "head shaking" and how many times I've done the same in my career. I don't know if the oil patch is that unique from other industries between "the plan" and what actually happens. But extremes are not uncommon. Ran down my list as I lay staring at the ceiling. Maybe some useful insight for the process for you. Here's a sampling.

In 1975 I began my career with Mobil Oil drilling off a new platform in the GOM. The exploration geologists had drilled two wells that discovered various oil/NG reservoirs. they extrapolated those pays to the other fault blocks on the structure. The 25 million bo and 100 bcf of NG justified setting a production platform. And thus I began drilling of the exploration mapping. Essentially just pushing the paper work along. And my first 5 wells off the platform were DRY HOLES! The exploration geologists had made reasonable but incorrect assumptions. IOW they were wrong: the 25 million bo turned into 1 million bo and the 100 bcf turned into 25 bcf. is it any wonder I express great skepticism when companies starting throwing out big "potential" reserve numbers? LOL.

Works both ways though. Many years ago good friend, Mike (very nice and ethical hand), was drilling a deep well in S. La. were no man had gone before. Drilled, logged...nothing. Drilled some more, logged...nothing. Didn't have a very good idea where he was in the geologic section. Finally his company and the investors ran out of money and gave up. By the time Mike figured out what was going on the leases expired. Before he could raise the money for more drilling ExxonMobil figured it out also and took the leases. They twinned Mike's well and less than 300' below where he had stopped drilling at 16,000' XOM discovered a $2 billion field. So some time those wild ass wildcatters like westexas are correct.

Just like everyone else in the oil patch Mike had great hits and great misses. Such is life. At the end of his career he was on a roll again. He was handing geologic operations for Devon in the exciting Deep Water Brazil play. He and the red-headed love of his life had wanted a foreign posting for a long time and finally had it. He had just turn 60 yo when he and his wife hopped on an Air France flight from to Paris for a training school and some R&R. They didn't make it: they were the two Americans on board when the flight went down in the middle of the Atlantic a couple of years ago. Such is life.

And back a couple of years ago I was on the location of a nice new discovery we just drilled. Had my consultant that builds my production pads come to check it out and share the happy buzz. The buzz didn't last long: his nephew was one of the 11 killed on the Macondo blowout. To make it worse his adult son was killed a week earlier in an auto accident. And I had to cut him out of the project: too dangerous with his being so distracted. He understood. A bad time for me and obviously a much worse time for him.

There you go...just a little of the humanity of the oil patch to balance out the perceived arrogance of the CEO's of the Chesapeake's, BP's and other apparent scoundrels roaming the oil patch.

Japan will have no children below the age of 15 if current Japanese population trends continue, according to researchers:


Ughhh...I guess I don't have to worry about job security if this analyst can find a customer goofy enough to actually pay me for such drivel...

Last week, 1.661 million children 0 to 14 y/o in Japan.

If that # were to stabilize for three to four generations, Japan would have close to 100 million people with current life expectancy (more if it increases - less if it falls).

Too many to feed, etc. without significant imports in a "constrained" world.

So further decreases in the # of children seems warranted.

A new born child in an OECD nation is looking at close to 80 years of life (many to 85 & 90 years) absent external negatives (famine, social breakdown, etc.). The parents and society are putting them into this long term world - where climate chaos and resource constraints are almost a given in their lifetime.

Fewer children is better for those that are born.

Best Hopes for Fewer Children,


Alan is correct.

It would be interesting to compare and contrast the current state, predicted future states, and actual evolution of the situations in these three island nations of roughly comparable land area and roughly comparable levels of 'modernity':

Nation.....................population (2012)........Land area (sq km).....people per sq. km


United Kingdom..............60,441,500..............244,820.00............246.88

New Zealand..................4,035,500..............268,680.00.............15.02

Energy use per person, a breakdown of energy sources used, etc.

I wonder if the Japanese will re-start any of their civilian power-generation nuclear reactors? I wonder if the longer they stay off-line, the less impetus there will be to re-start them?

How much wind, solar, and geothermal electricity generation could Japan develop, if it made this a grand national priority?

Jedi: Of course the idea that a current situation will continue to trend the same is absurd. Refreshingly, the majority of the comments for that article lambast the article and the 'study; it was based on as pure rubbish, not worthy of publication.

I agree with Alan that logically, the population should decline until a 'sustainable' level is reached. The bugaboos of nationalism, tribalism, etc. will expose their fangs to try to arrest this natural course of events, if not reverse them.

Across the water, China seems to be making a grab for Asia's 'water tower' in the Himalayas/Tibetan plateau.


Ultimately, the whole Earth is an island.

Expanding into space? Fuggitabowtit...we better figure out how to make it work here...

H...rambling away on a lazy Sunday...

For one local's perspective: New Zealand.
Current state: In spite of the best efforts by government officials and many other scientists, engineers and well informed citizens to inform the politicians at state and local level, officially there is total and determined denial of anything relating to resource depletion, to our vulnerability to oil price spikes or failure of supply, about our part in global climate change (coal exports, potential for lignite-to-fuel plants, high CO2 emissions etc.)and the already obvious implications of an increasingly extreme and unpredictable climate. It is 'business as usual' and be damned to any inconvenient truths!

We have the odd vege-planter and lifestyler, a sincere and well-meant transition town movement in many towns. Small clusters of people who have a decent handle on the impending EOLAWKI who are making changes at the family level. The usual insane expenditure of borrowed interest-bearing debt is carrying on to build infrastructure that will have no meaning when the pumps run dry (new roads etc). Tokenism is rife with development of facilities and systems that have no effect on our future vector. Tourism is one of our biggest income earners and employers. Our exports travel further than most to their markets.

Future state: Climate change sees most agricultural regions tending strongly towards drought by 2070 and beyond. All but a few of our major cities will be decimated by the one to five metres of sea level rise predicted by 2100 and the ongoing rise beyond that date. We rely utterly on the existence of Global Net Exports of oil for our 160,000 bbl per day of oil imports. Since by 2025 there will not be any Global Net Exports the lights will have all gone out well and truly by 2030. Those of us who are actively preparing for life on the fringe hope for a gentle ride, but frankly we fear for the worst. Already we have immigration by climate and nuclear radiation refugees, and we have no where to put them, no real jobs and nothing to feed them, and no way to stop them coming if push comes to shove. More will not make things better. Basically; its 'Nine meals from anarchy' for most of us. God defend New Zealand, no one else will!


Thank you for the report from NZ.

Your laments make me wonder how Japan and the UK will do, give that they have much higher population densities than your country.

Could NZ build out solar, wind, and geothermal power generation?

Does NZ have a decent rail network?

At least you probably have adequate ocean catch/fishery resources to sustain your population?

As a fellow kiwi I feel your frustration! I guess that is what we get for having a centre-right government in charge of the country. Like a lot of other places it seems that BAU is the order of the day. I hope that eventually we get a party in power that is willing to enact some decent policies with regards to sustainability, energy and transport. However, I don't think we'll see any significant change until the population is hurting and the issues are at crisis point. In the meantime I suppose all we can do as individuals is to make ourselves as resilient as possible.

New Zealand has puzzled me for decades (and I have been travelling there quite regularly since 1974). At the most cursory level - you could not conceivably design a country to have a better chance to weather all the coming storms - it has a moderate climate mostly, incredibly good and reliable rainfall, fertile soils, lots of active rivers for hydro-electricity, a strong democratic tradition and rule of law, modern agricultural technology, and a good source of seafood.

But somehow ... it seems to have missed out. Sure there is a significant cohort of rich Europeans, but overall, wages are very low, education is a mess, and many other social indicators are not good (health, public transport, infrastructure, and much else).

It seems to me NZ could have 22 million people, given its resources and natural advantages, and Australia have four million - but somehow it didn't happen. Strange place (but still lovely - if you rich Americans are looking for a bolt-hole to escape the chaos).

Written by Heisenberg:
How much wind, solar, and geothermal electricity generation could Japan develop, if it made this a grand national priority?

Apparently we are going to find out, Japan Solar, Wind, & Geothermal Feed-in Tariffs Coming Soon (Potential Rates Unveiled), Clean Technica, Zachary Shahan, April 26, 2012:

For solar, Reuters is quoting 42 yen (or about $0.52, €0.39, or £0.32) over the course of 20 years.

In addition to presenting this solar feed-in tariff proposal, once finalized, to Trade Minister Yukio Edano, a 23.1 yen per kwh rate for wind power and 27.3 yen per kwh for geothermal power are also looking likely.

The feed-in tariff rates will be reviewed annually once implemented.

$.52 / kWh for electricity generated by photovoltaic systems will easily produce profit even in cloudy areas.

Yeah, 52 cents/KWH? That seems like a no brainer to install PV panels like crazy. Maybe they really are going to try to do without restarting the nukes?

"A Disaster is a Terrible Thing to Waste!"

Because trends are always linear...

I suspect thats a simple linear extrapolation of trend. I don't think ferytility is heading towards zero, driving to zero is probably exponentially difficult.

A few days ago a poster (eric?) made the assertion that there is a definate correaltion between street lighting and the incidence of crime.

I wonder if that is truly so?

Small excerpt from the 76-page PDF:

There is a widely held belief that the improvement of street lighting will reduce both
crime and fear of crime. Improved visibility, it is thought, will increase the
possibilities for identification and apprehension of criminals and hence deter the
perpetration of criminal acts, while also providing reassurance to those people who
are fearful for personal safety in public places. However, there is little firm evidence
to support these beliefs. This research aims to fill that gap.

In 1985 the London Borough of Wandsworth commenced a programme to re-light
the complete borough to a very high standard, partly with the aim of crime
prevention. This research involved compilation of a database containing details
of the dates, times and locations of over 100,000 crimes reported to the police in
the Battersea and Tooting police divisional areas. This has been matched to the
dates and areas where 3500 new street lights were installed, focussing mainly on
data for one year before and one year after the introduction of new street lighting
in 39 separate zones.

No evidence could be found to support the hypothesis that improved street lighting
reduces reported crime. Although some areas and some crime types did show
reductions in night-time crime relative to the daylight control, the dominant overall
pattern, from which this study draws its authority, was of no significant change.


Thoughts from a population which has a reason not to light street lighting:



Another view...this one interestingly states that there less less crime reduction effects postulated in some older U.S. studies than in similar U.K. studies!


Lots of other competing viewpoints out there on the InterWebs.

My personal anecdote: My affluent neighborhood has suffered a mini-rash of burglaries and break-ins during the day...our leading theory is that is because many folks are gone ()at work or whatnot) during the day, ,and their houses are unoccupied, and many of their neighbors are gone who could report/deter criminals. All this with a bazillion candela light source overhead...

Does night-time street lighting decrease crime or simply increase people's sense of security?


Theres been a rash of ratacobres around here, copper thieves. They have been stealing the feed from the grid to the houses. Mine went in the middle of the night. Well lit and in full view, they would have had to stand on top of the garage roof, visible for a couple of blocks either way and illuminated by 3 street lights. Light is not the only factor.


I used to live in the East mountain area of Albuquerque, which was known to have almost no crime. We had a crime wave, which lasted over a year. One "person" was commuting from town to break into homes (nearly all residents worked in town, so weekdays he could almost count on no one being home). When they caught him, the "one man crime wave" subsided.

Lots of items on Drudge about Greece. Here is a CNBC article speculating about competitive devaluations: