Drumbeat: February 22, 2013

Memories of Peak Oil

Is it too much to hope that even some catastrophists and peak-oil cultists will find it impossible to ignore the latest numbers?

When the final figures for the fourth quarter of 2012 are in, the world will have a new crude oil production record: the total for the first three quarters was about 1 percent ahead of the 2011 total. This is a remarkable achievement for a commodity with annual output that now surpasses, for the first time ever, 4 billion metric tons and which has been, for decades, the largest source of fossil energy and the most valuable item of international commerce.

Global oil extraction was down in 2009 (2.5 percent lower than 2008 levels), but that had nothing to do with declining reserves and everything to do with weakened demand in the midst of the world’s worst postwar economic recession. That dip was brief; in 2010 global output was up by 2 percent and in 2011 it went up another 1.3 percent to surpass the 2008 record and come up less than 5 million metric tons (Mt) shy of the 4 billion metric ton mark. What is even more remarkable is how widely this rise has been shared: this becomes clear by looking at what happened to global output and to major oil powers’ oil production during the first decade of the 21st century.

How to Profit From Accelerating Global Energy Crisis

For months, the signs of an impending global energy shakeup have been building.

This is not to say that we have an impending long-term shortage (it is not, in other words, a Peak Oil prophecy coming true) or that the lights are about to go out around the globe.

However, it does appear we are moving into another round of concerns for energy balance and production moving forward.

Brent Crude Rises, Paring Biggest Weekly Decline Since December

Brent crude advanced, paring a second weekly decline, after German business confidence rose more than economists forecast to a 10-month high.

Futures gained as much as 1.1 percent in London as the Munich-based Ifo institute’s business climate index climbed for a fourth month, adding to signs that Europe’s largest economy is gathering strength. U.S. crude stockpiles increased a fifth week, the longest stretch of gains since May, the Department of Energy said yesterday. Brent dropped by 3.4 percent in the past two sessions.

Fuel Levels ‘Good’ as U.K. Tanker Drivers Start Strike, BP Says

BP Plc, which employs about 40 striking tanker drivers that make deliveries from Scotland’s only oil refinery, said fuel inventories among its clients are at “good” levels.

BP has been working this week to minimize disruption from the three days of industrial action, said Mark Salt, a spokesman in London. The 210,000 barrel-a-day Grangemouth refinery is operating normally, David East, a spokesman for Ineos Group AG, which owns the facility through its Petroineos venture with PetroChina Co., said today by phone.

Canadian economy gets double blow on inflation, retail trade

The Canadian economy registered its lowest inflation in more than three years in January and its largest decline in retail sales in almost three years in December, a double whammy of data that depressed the Canadian dollar and bond yields.

“All of this would feed into a dovish Bank of Canada and Canadian dollar weakness,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank.

Statistics Canada said on Friday that lower gas prices helped push the annual inflation rate down to 0.5 per cent in January from 0.8 per cent in December, the lowest since the 0.1 per cent recorded in October 2009.

Americans’ consumption affects oil prices in PH

Amid weeks of consecutive hikes in oil prices, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla told The Manila Times that the reduction in oil price can only be dependent in a slump of the United States economy, among other global factors.

Petilla said that the main factors that primarily led to the recent price hikes on petroleum products (diesel and fuel) are the activities happening in the US economy and other major regions like Europe. He added that if the US economy declines, there could be a huge chance that oil prices in the Philippines would be reduced.

Consumers Clobbered by Sky-High Gas Prices in February

Some of the recent spikes are due to the warmer-than-usual winter weather in parts of the country, which has helped keep demand—and prices—more elevated. Still, experts say a pre-spring price spike could become an unwelcome tradition among motorists thanks to a slew of other fundamental factors changing the oil and gas landscape.

The most obvious culprit is higher crude oil prices, the largest cost input when it comes to producing gasoline. Oil sells for about $96 a barrel right now, but experts say that figure could jump closer to $100 in coming weeks as concerns about future supply constraints thanks to heightened demand and decreased output from oil-producing countries push up the price of oil, directly impacting the cost of refining oil into petroleum products such as gasoline.

Reliance on imported oil 'serious threat' to Asia Pacific region

The Asia Pacific's increasing dependence on imported oil poses a "serious threat" to the economic stability and energy security of the region, a report warned Thursday.

The region is projected to import 44 per cent of its primary oil needs by 2035, up from 36 per cent in 2010, said the report carried out on behalf of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) based in Singapore.

Oil production in the region has risen "only slightly" since 1990, outpaced by a significant increase in demand, said the study by the Tokyo-based Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre.

Indonesia tells oil majors to follow currency rules or stop exports

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia told oil and gas contractors they will have to stop shipments if they do not follow central bank rules to channel export revenues through local banks, despite earlier protests from Chevron and Total.

Southeast Asia's largest economy is pushing for massive expansion of its energy sector to meet rapidly expanding domestic demand. Indonesia's top oil producer Chevron has warned that investment will decline if confusing and sometimes overlapping regulations are not resolved, including the central bank regulation.

Ukraine Says It Will Not Pay Gazprom $7 Billion Gas Fine

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has said his country will not pay the $7 billion fine that Russia's Gazprom is demanding for gas Ukraine did not use in 2012.

Yanukovych said on February 22 that "we refuse to pay this fine."

Ukraine vows not to raise gas price, may hurt IMF talks

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's president promised on Friday his government would not raise gas prices, a pledge which may complicate Kiev's talks with the IMF over a new $15 billion loan and revive the prospect of further talks with Russia.

The International Monetary Fund, which is in talks with Kiev over a new stand-by loan, insists Ukraine raises heavily-subsidised gas prices to cut its budget deficit and make state finances sustainable.

Ukraine may quit European Energy Community over natural gas disputes: Yanukovych

Kiev (Platts) - Ukraine may quit the European Energy Community in reaction to its lack of support for the country in ongoing natural gas disputes with Russia, President Viktor Yanukovych said Friday.

The warning comes two weeks after Yanukovych said he was unhappy that the community had given a green light to Russian gas pipeline projects bypassing Ukraine on the way to Europe.

Reforming of gas markets need not be too painful

Economists generally agree the Middle East's low gas prices are a bad thing - Saudi Arabia's, at $0.70, are far below even Bahrain's. Cheap, subsidised fuel encourages wasteful consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases, and blocks renewable energy. Underpricing leads to shortages - new, more expensive gas cannot be produced commercially, while demand escalates uncontrollably.

As shortages strike, the government has to step in to make arbitrary decisions on allocating the gas - usually so that big, politically connected industries or vocal consumers benefit at the expense of everyone else. The wealthy - the heaviest energy users - gain more than the poor.

And illogical pricing causes perverse outcomes, as Kuwait today imports expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG) from as far afield as Australia or Russia, instead of extracting its own gas at lower cost.

Indeed, Egypt will soon join the UAE as countries that both import and export LNG - a clear case of distorted policy.

Next oil boom could be buried beneath fertile Calif. farmland

Thousands of feet below some of the nation's most fertile farmland could be 15.4 billion barrels of crude oil.

Billion, with a "B."

The federal government believes the Monterey Shale, which lies under more than 1,750 square miles of central and southern California, has far more shale oil than anywhere else in the lower 48 states — nearly four times the amount of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

Sugar Traders Most Bullish Since October on Ethanol

Sugar traders are the most bullish since October on speculation that the slump in prices to the lowest in 2 1/2 years will spur Brazilian millers to make more biofuel and less of the raw sweetener from cane.

Ten analysts surveyed by Bloomberg this week expect prices to rise next week, while five forecast declines and one was neutral, making the proportion of bulls the highest since Oct. 26. The improving outlook is after sugar fell to 17.67 cents a pound on Feb. 15, the lowest since August 2010. Brazilian ethanol on Feb. 19 traded at the highest premium to sugar since April 2011, according to Kingsman SA, a Swiss research company.

Tullow Drills for Ethiopia’s First Oil in Kenyan Extension

Tullow Oil Plc, the U.K. explorer that found Kenya’s first crude a year ago, is about to find out whether the resources extend into neighboring Ethiopia, a nation dependent on agriculture that’s yet to discover any petroleum.

Tullow, Africa Oil Corp. and Marathon Oil Corp. plan to complete their Sabisa well in western Ethiopia’s South Omo Block this quarter.

Billionaire-Backed Explorer to Revive Oil Hunt

Cairn India Ltd., controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, will start drilling its first new well in five years to raise output and help bolster the best profit margin for an oil company in Asia.

The company, which got the Indian government’s approval last week to explore new oil pools in its biggest field in the western state of Rajasthan, is accelerating its plans to drill 30 wells in the year starting April 1 and a similar number in the following 12 months, Chief Executive Officer P. Elango, said. Cairn India says the new deposits may increase its reserves by as much as 50 percent to 1.5 billion barrels.

Libyan oil production lifts OMV

OMV, the Austrian oil and gas company part-owned by Abu Dhabi, posted a 25 per cent jump in revenues after reviving production in Libya that was wiped out during the uprising.

Mexico May Get Spot Peru LNG as Ship Arrives at Manzanillo

Mexico may receive a spot cargo of liquefied natural gas from Peru today, according to ship- tracking data.

The Ribera Del Duero Knutsen, with a capacity of 173,400 cubic meters, is scheduled to arrive at Manzanillo LNG terminal on Mexico’s west coast, according to ship transmissions captured by IHS Inc. (IHS) on Bloomberg. The tanker sailed from Peru LNG’s terminal at Pampa Melchorita, where it loaded its cargo and departed Feb. 15.

Frontline Drops After Warning on Bond Repayment Risk

Frontline Ltd., the oil-tanker company led by billionaire John Fredriksen, dropped to the lowest level in 15 months in Oslo and its bond yields surged after warning it may miss bond repayments.

Rosneft sees TNK-BP closure three months before deadline - source

(Reuters) - Rosneft plans to take control of rival Russian oil company TNK-BP by April 1, completing one of the sector's biggest takeovers three months early, an industry source with knowledge of the deal said.

State-owned Rosneft is buying the business for $55 billion (36 billion pounds) from its 50-50 owners, the private Russian consortium AAR and British oil company BP (BP.L), in two separate deals.

EIA estimates Syrian crude shut-ins at 220,000 b/d as of Nov 2012

Syrian crude production fell to 153,000 b/d in October last year from around 400,000 b/d in March 2011 when the conflict in the country began, with some 220,000 b/d of production shut in as of November 2012, the US Energy Information Administration said in a report released late Thursday.

"Average oil production from 2008 to 2010 was stable at approximately 400,000 b/d, but since the combined disruptions of military conflict and economic sanctions began the average dropped noticeably," the agency said.

Japan's maximum Iran oil shipping insurance to rise by 4% in 2013-14: sources

Tokyo (Platts) - Japan is expected to increase its maximum insurance cover for tankers carrying Iranian crude by 4% year on year to Yen 635.9 billion, or $7.8 billion under exchange rates used in the budget in the fiscal year 2013-2014, sources familiar with the matter told Platts Friday.

The anticipated hike in the insurance, set to come into effect on April 1, follows a decision by the International Group of P&I Clubs to increase its maximum reinsurance cover in its 2013-14 fiscal year, which started Thursday, the sources said.

South Korea's Iran oil imports continue to fall

South Korea's imports of crude oil from Iran fell 16.1 percent in January from a year earlier under U.S. sanctions pressure targeting Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp showed on Friday, Reuters reported.

The world's fifth-largest crude oil buyer imported a total 81.71 million barrels of crude oil in January, up 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.

US warns Pak on Iran-built oil refinery

Washington: Amidst reports of Iran building an oil refinery inside Pakistan and a joint gas pipeline project, the United States today cautioned Islamabad against activities that are “sanctionable” under US laws.

The US asserted that there are better and more cost-effective ways to address Pakistan’s energy needs.

U.S. Quadruples Pipeline Tax Break Cost to $7 Billion

A tax break used by oil and gas pipeline companies such as Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP will cost the U.S. government $7 billion through 2016, about four times more than previously estimated, Congress’s tax scorekeepers said this month.

Hackers take aim at key U.S. infrastructure

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Tuesday's report detailing hacking activities by the Chinese government against U.S. targets all but confirmed what everyone suspected: the Chinese, along with other nations and groups, are gathering information that could disrupt the operation of critical infrastructure in this country, including power plants, chemical factories and air-traffic control systems.

To be clear, the report from U.S.-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant did not say the Chinese government has actively tampered with these systems. The only two countries thought to have actually altered industrial processes in another country are the United States and Israel, which are suspected of infecting an Iranian uranium enrichment plant with malicious software that caused the centrifuges to spin out of control and self-destruct.

Shell: Reassessing Development Plan For North Sea Fram Oil, Gas Field

Royal Dutch Shell PLC is reassessing its development plan for the Fram oil and gas field in the North Sea following "unexpected" initial drilling results, the company said late Thursday.

Shell had planned to produce an average of 35,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day from the field, with first production targeted within the next three years.

U.S. Gulf Coast oil spillers about to face day in court

(Reuters) - Nearly three years after a deepwater well rupture killed 11 men, sank a rig and spewed 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP and the other companies involved are scheduled to face their judge in court.

The trial over the worst U.S. offshore oil spill is set to start Monday in New Orleans before a federal judge and without a jury. Few expect the case, seen lasting several months, will be decided by the judge.

BP Witness May Help Halliburton Avoid Spill Trial Blame

Halliburton Co. may escape paying billions of dollars in damages for its role in the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history thanks to statements by a witness for codefendant BP Plc.

Halliburton is accused by victims of the Gulf of Mexico spill, and by codefendant companies including BP, of doing defective work on the Macondo well, scene of the 2010 environmental catastrophe.

BP Wins Ruling to Exclude Some Criminal Evidence in Trial

A federal judge ruled that certain documents related to BP Plc (BP/)’s criminal plea and indictments of its employees can’t be used as evidence against the company in the Feb. 25 trial over fault for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“The parties are precluded from introducing during the Phase One trial the documents listed,” U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans said yesterday in a four-page order. He declined to rule yet on whether any part of the guilty plea itself would be admissible at the trial.

Pipelines are the ticket to North American energy independence

There has been a lot of loose talk of late about the United States becoming “energy independent” by the end of this decade. A more accurate prediction is that North America may become more energy independent in that time frame as the result of developments under way in both Canada and the U.S.

Keystone XL decision will define Barack Obama's legacy on climate change

Does the president have courage to say 'no' to a project that will lock us into decades of dependency on this dirty energy?

Is the Keystone XL Pipeline Worth Getting Arrested For?

When it comes to the flow of northern crude to U.S. refineries, here’s the reality: No Keystone XL? No problem.

While opponents of the pipeline have been rallying their supporters, U.S. and Canadian railroads have been hauling record amounts of oil. Last year, the volume of oil delivered by rail in the United States jumped by about 46 percent compared with 2011. According to the Association of American Railroads, oil-related rail traffic increased in Canada by 30 percent. In December, U.S. and Canadian railroads were hauling about 1.9 million barrels of oil and refined products per day, double the volume moved in 2009. Of that total, about 1 million barrels per day is being railed in the United States.

The Anti-Keystone Crowd's Bogus Claims

Americans concerned about pollution and climate change have traditionally stood with science, in particular the consensus that greenhouse-gas emissions from human activity are warming the earth and changing the climate. Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, in contrast, seem to deliberately ignore the evidence that the pipeline wouldn’t lead to environmental disaster.

The pipeline would do little to increase greenhouse-gas emissions in North America. It would merely enable Canada to send its crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries via a north-south pipeline rather than rail or ship and allow the U.S. to get more of the 8 million barrels of oil it imports each day from a good neighbor.

Fracking Emissions Get Review After EPA Watchdog Report

Federal environmental regulators said they will more closely study air emissions from hydraulic fracturing after the agency’s auditor concluded current information is insufficient to make policy decisions.

The Environmental Protection Agency has already begun an inter-agency study of methane, air toxic and other pollutants released when oil and gas are tapped using the process, called fracking, Gina McCarthy, the head of the agency’s air office, said in a letter to the Inspector General’s office, which was released today.

UN climate talks host Poland to accelerate shale gas push

Poland, the host of the 2013 UN climate change conference, has confirmed to RTCC that it is accelerating the development of its shale gas reserves.

A report by energy consultancy Pöyry and the UK’s energy regulator Ofgem identifies the country as having the greatest potential for unconventional gas exploration in the EU.

Argentina assesses nuclear might

It has a nuclear legacy more than half a century old and has supplied reactors to nations from Algeria to Australia.

It has embraced an ambitious multibillion-dollar expansion programme spanning desalination and submarines and it hopes to cater to the Arabian Gulf region's plans for atomic energy.

But Argentina realises it has some challenges before it can make itself a household name for nuclear power, such as France or Russia, or even rival the newcomer powerhouses South Korea and China.

As Tesla Eyes Profit, Elon Musk Wants to Punch Himself in the Face

In a letter detailing Tesla Motors’ fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, Elon Musk seemed to deliver a lot of what investors have been hoping for. He vowed that the company would turn a profit in its next quarter. He said that Tesla’s factories were humming and would meet the demand for 20,000 all-electric Model S sedans this year. He showed that revenue surged 500 percent sequentially to $306 million. And he laid out a framework for getting Tesla’s gross margins up around 25 percent.

Instead of greeting this as a feedbag of good news, investors busted Tesla in the gut. They sent shares down about 5 percent after-hours. The main concerns seemed to be Tesla’s larger fourth-quarter loss—$89.9 million, vs. $81.5 million a year earlier—and a lack of clarity on how Tesla will get costs down. There also seemed to be some worry that people who had put $5,000 down to reserve a Model S were now backing away from actually buying the car.

Saudi Arabia invites companies to bid for colossal renewables contracts

Green businesses have welcomed the official launch of Saudi Arabia's massive renewable energy procurement programme, which could see 54GW of new capacity added to the grid by 2032.

The government-backed K.A. CARE (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) yesterday unveiled a white paper detailing the tender processes for new solar PV and solar thermal power plants, wind farms, geothermal facilities and waste-to-energy plants.

The breezy option has become a serious power source

Ontario will have shut down 17 of 19 coal-fired power plants by the end of this year. By the end of 2014, the province will be one of the first places in the world to completely eliminate coal as a source of electricity production. This remarkable accomplishment was aided in a significant way by the addition of clean and cost-effective wind energy.

Why We're Obsessed with the Zombie Apocalypse

Predictions about the end times are nothing new, of course. Doomsday believers have been promising that the end is near for centuries, with the December 2012 "Mayan apocalypse" just one in a long line of failed predictions.

But Vidergar found that apocalypticism is up. An increasing number of books, movies, television shows and graphic novels have portrayed post-apocalyptic worlds over the past century, with nuclear explosions and pandemics as common starting points.

Bark Up or Down? Firewood Splits Norwegians

In a country where 1.2 million households have fireplaces or wood stoves, said Rune Moeklebust, NRK’s head of programs in the west coast city of Bergen, the subject naturally lends itself to television.

“My first thought was, ‘Well, why not make a TV series about firewood?’” Mr. Moeklebust said in an interview. “And that eventually cut down to a 12-hour show, with four hours of ordinary produced television, and then eight hours of showing a fireplace live.”

Egypt's wheat buyer Nomani removed

"What this person does is critical to the Egyptian political stability," said Hani Sabra, an analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk and research company, speaking from New York.

"You have tens of millions of Egyptians dependent on subsidised bread.

"The country will collapse politically if there is no access to bread."

Food prices drop slowly, even with good weather

Despite a punishing drought across much of the country last year, farmers should see yields rise this year if the weather cooperates, and the prices they get for their crops will stay at their current levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief economist said Thursday.

Inflation is likely to push food prices at the grocery store up 3% to 4% in the coming year, Joseph Glauber said at the 2013 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. But if rain comes, supplies will increase, and eventually that will mean lower prices for consumers.

Stop Demonizing Preppers

My friend Ceredwyn Alexander lives on a homestead in the mountains of Vermont. She and her family raise a lot of their own food, from chickens to cabbage, and they heat their home with wood they chop themselves. (She won't live anywhere, she tells me, "without supplemental heat that operates without electricity.") They worry about peak oil. They try not to buy things on credit. They always keep a great deal of food and water and other supplies on hand. If everything goes to hell tomorrow, they want to be prepared.

People who say and do such things are often called preppers, and Ceredwyn willingly applies the term to herself: It's a decent label, she says, for people who try to be prepared for sudden, disruptive emergencies. If you've been absorbing the recent portraits of preppers in the press, where they've been depicted as doomsday-fearing right-wing paranoiacs stocking up on guns and canned goods, you may think you know all there is to know about Ceredwyn. But before you use your stock of stereotypes to fill in those blanks, here are a few more facts about her.

Obama settles on EPA, Energy Department nominees -source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama intends to nominate air quality expert Gina McCarthy to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz to head the Department of Energy as early as this week, according to a source familiar with the process.

U.S. EPA's McCarthy mum on new job, says states to lead climate rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gina McCarthy, said to be U.S. President Barack Obama's choice as the nation's top environmental regulator, avoided questions about a potential promotion on Thursday but said states will play a key role in shaping federal regulations at an energy and climate policy forum.

McCarthy, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation since 2009, was tightlipped about whether Obama will nominate her as the EPA's next administrator.

Obama's Possible Frack-Friendly Energy Plan a 'Nail in the Coffin' for Climate

Reports that President Obama is poised to nominate MIT professor Ernest Moniz to be the next head of the Department of Energy is raising serious concerns for those worried that the administration will betray its promise to take on the threat of the climate crisis by making a major domestic push for natural gas drilling using the controversial practice known as fracking.

Study of California cap-and-trade system suggests refinements

The study found that tight holding limits can have a significant negative impact across the board on each of four key market performance indicators: price discovery, efficiency, volatility and most critically, liquidity, which is regarded by many economists as the key factor in defeating market manipulation.

On the other hand, the study found that the reserve allowances lowered the risk of large price spikes, as market participants used it as a "seller of last resort" and as a source of "borrowed" allowances used to hedge against future scarcity.

EU parliament hesitates in drafting law for CO2 fix

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - European lawmakers backed an emergency plan to save the world's biggest market for carbon allowances from collapse on Tuesday, but put off drafting the necessary legislation, sending prices down by as much as 20 percent.

EU Carbon Plunges After German Permit Auction Fails Second Time

European Union carbon permits dropped as much as 9.4 percent after a sale by Germany failed for a second time this year because bids didn’t reach an unspecified reference price.

Green groups urge ambitious new climate goals for Europe

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Green campaigners pressed the case for an ambitious new decade of energy and environment policy on Wednesday as the European Commission kicked off debate on 2030 goals, seeking to balance economic reality with climate concerns.

Environment groups say a possible new target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels - implied from EU documents - fails to address their climate change fears.

Unlocking the Conspiracy Mind-Set

Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey results suggested that people who rejected climate science were more likely than other respondents to reject other scientific or official findings and buy into assorted fringe theories: that NASA faked the moon landing, that the Central Intelligence Agency killed Martin Luther King Jr., that the AIDS virus was unleashed by the government, and so forth.

This piece of research appeared in a specialized journal in psychological science, but it did not take long to find its way onto climate skeptics’ blogs, setting off howls of derision.

A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs.

So, a paper about a tendency among this group to believe in conspiracy theories was met by … a conspiracy theory.

New Study Shows Independent Evidence Of Global Warming

This independent confirmation neatly side-steps some of the controversies around global warming centering on temperature measurements. That’s because many of the claims of skeptics to explain the effect – such as the “urban heat-island” – don’t apply to the proxies. What’s more, the fact that the proxies show large agreement with the measured temperature record provides additional reason to accept that despite the changes in temperature measurement that have occurred over the past century, climatologists have been pretty precise in adjusting for those changes when deriving global trends.

In other words, this is just one more piece of evidence on top the staggering pile of evidence demonstrating the simple fact that average global temperatures have been increasing over the past two centuries.

Afghanistan faces twin threats of war and climate change

Droughts and land degradation exacerbated by climate change could further destabilise Afghanistan, an official from the country’s environment protection agency has told RTCC.

Hawaii to suffer most as global sea levels rise, study says

Melting ice in Greenland, Antarctica and elsewhere will push up seas unevenly around the world, according to a new study that finds some of the highest waters will inundate Honolulu, Hawaii.

Louisiana coast facing grim reality

New Orleans — Stunning new data not yet publicly released shows Louisiana losing its battle with rising seas much more quickly than even the most pessimistic studies have predicted to date.

While state officials continue to argue over restoration projects to save the state’s sinking, crumbling coast, top researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have concluded that Louisiana is in line for the highest rate of sea-level rise “on the planet.”

Indeed, the water is rising so fast that some coastal restoration projects could be obsolete before they are completed, the officials said.

Icy Siberian caves show tiny warming, may mean big thaw

OSLO (Reuters) - Ancient records from icy caves in Siberia show that a small amount of global warming can thaw vast areas of frozen ground and release harmful stores of greenhouse gases, a study showed.

Any melt of permafrost, or permanently frozen soil that covers almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere from Alaska to China, can also destabilise everything from oil and gas pipelines to buildings and roads.

The cumulative oil "production" of western majors has been decreasing since 2004 :

From :

It would be good to see how the cummulative oil production by the NOCs fare for the same period. Not sure how oil companies record production when contracted by or in joint ventures with NOCs.

Then to flesh things out we need a chart on the majors' earnings, profit margins, exploration budgets and reserves changes overlayed on their production chart

Yes it is clearly just an "indicator" amongst others, and from what I understand, when IOCs operate fields in "NOC countries" they get paid in barrels depending on barrel price so indeed they "operate" more barrels than what appears as production in their reports.

Still it isn't the kind of info you read in the average MSM article...

Production sharing contracts, at least for Total, is NOT an explanatory factor of the decrease of output :
(excuse my French, but it's mostly figures, so...)

Oil production by the world's top five oil majors is down 25,8% since 2004
(and that was an untold story)

btw, a mantra of the "peak-oil cultists" is : the harder you produce today, the sharper the decline will be tomorrow.

See Montana shale oil output for instance,

or BP's Azerbaïdjan

or North Sea, etc.

Thanks Matthieu. I particularly appreciated the comparison, and the quotes therein, of the larger N Dakota Bakken with the earlier, now declining Montana; which comparison highlights both the 'sweet-spot' phenomenon (most productive sites drilled first) and the very low ratio of 'stripper wells' still capable of producing even a trickle when compared with the large number of wells drilled.

Thks Phil,
Ref "Memories of Peak Oil":
"What is even more remarkable is how widely this rise has been shared"

Actually, as far as new capacities are concerned, it's seems to be very widely about US shale oil & ethanol... and Iraq, till now, according to the EIA :

Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Shooting for 100 MW Fusion Prototype by 2017


here we go again! Not sure how skunkworks could be involved?

Not sure how skunkworks could be involved?

Please feel free to complete that thought and answer that question.

As noted in the comments section, this plan appears to be a new approach to hot fusion, not LENR. Best of luck to them making one which produces 10MW thermal, then turning that thermal energy into electricity.

The speaker in the video from Lock_Mart doesn't talk about the heat transfer problems, only the theoretical aspects of the fusion generator. And, he claims that there's no problem with radioactive waste, yet, the containment system and the heat transfer plumbing will all be exposed to high intensity radiation, thus becoming radioactive. If one of these things breaks, humans aren't going to be able to fix it for years, because of the residual radiation...

E. Swanson

This is the Skunk Works, BD. They don't quibble over details, they just build things and make them work. A good book on their history is Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed by Ben Rich.

An example is Chapter 8 Blowing up Burbank

In 1956, Kelly wants to build a hydrogen-fueled jet that can travel long distances. This project is initiated alongside the operation and production of the U-2s. He asks Ben Rich to research how to handle hydrogen fuel, and Ben obliges by taking on a fake identity and meeting with various scientists. Kelly wants a jet engine that can fly for hours at speeds that exceed Mach 2. They first run a feasibility study with Dave Robertson, another engineer. The experiments with volatile hydrogen gas were dangerous, but no one was hurt. Within three months, they are creating more hydrogen fuel than anywhere on the planet.

And then they had a fuel leak and filled their hanger in Burbank with hydrogen gas. Some fooled pulled the fire alarm, but fortunately they manage to contain the leak, vented the hydrogen gas, and made the scene appear normal before the firemen showed up. Otherwise it would have been difficult to explain.

Hopefully they will do their nuclear fusion testing at one of their more remote locations, eg Area 51.

Yes, it's the Skunk Works (tm), where projects are carried out behind multiple layers of government secrecy. This one might fit into the model of the Manhattan Project, which was a massive effort that involved building two closed towns located in the boonies, where the Commies couldn't find them (so they thought). Having experienced the MIC environment from the inside, my main question would be: "How come this project is being investigated by the Skunk Works?" My natural tendency is to think the project is classified because it was (is?) a part of a larger effort which required a compact energy source of long life. Perhaps it was something that would be located in space, maybe a power source for a directed energy device. Maybe things didn't work out, so the project director has to go on the road trying to drum up more support for his project, else, his job is toast.

Area 51 would surely be the place for this experiment. But, that's a military reservation. Nothing happening here, keep moving! It's just another blip on the radar screen! Sustainable growth is just around the corner, this will give cheap energy for everybody. The entire world's population can live like 'Merikans, you must believe us! Hey, quit that, don't look under the rug...

E. Swanson

A flight of fancy guess, power source for an ion propulsion system for station-keeping on a missle paltform.

More realistic guess, DOD R&D dollars drying up or at least not as plentiful as they once were. Huge sums of R&D dollars available from DOE, Lokheed now in the energy business. :)

The DOD has had "we want a small and powerful power source" on their wishlist for years.

That wouldn't have changed and if DOE money can make DOD wishes happen, all the better for DOD no?

(I'd go and look for a proper conspiracy where Lockheed already has such magic for DOD and this is a cover story to release said tech to the public but that sounds like work, not to mention not productive for TOD.)

Nuclear bomb designer Ted Taylor strongly hinted that there is some highly classified and dangerous knowledge hidden away that could emerge into public sight with civilian fusion research stumbling upon it - and that the prospect terrified him. He's not the only bomb expert who's hinted at that either.

What if the gift of virtually unlimited power also has the potential of relatively simple (once you know the trick) unlimited death? Let's hope not.

What if the gift of virtually unlimited power also has the potential of relatively simple (once you know the trick) unlimited death?

Lets give that unlimited power the magic ability to not be re configurable into a bomb.

1) The heat of that work would be trapped in the biosphere and over time would be global warming.
2) Such power would just be used to take more of the biosphere and re-process it into "man's use". Odds are without remediation of the outputs to avoid pollution of said biosphere.

Given what Mankind has done to date - does anyone here think Man would be responsible with "unlimited power"?

The prospect of unlimited "clean" energy available to mankind has been one of the major fears of the environmental community. The rate at which humanity is destroying the natural world would be increased many times over, which would doom the natural world in short order. Things are already seriously bad now, but providing every human the energy now available to the people living in the US would amount to suicide for humanity as well, IMHO...

E. Swanson

Spot on. It would only lets us move beyond the limit of liquid fuels for a short time. Not that it would be an easy or smooth change over to whatever would run on all that "unlimited power". It would just delay the inevitable just a bit longer. How long? A few decades? A century, maybe...

One of my all time favorite books was The Curve of Binding Energy by John McPhee, a profile of Ted Taylor 1973 (New Yorker excerpt) and 1974. Turner was concerned about homemade atomic bombs. He actually suggested that such a bomb might be planted in the basement of the World Trade Center. Fortunately it didn't happen. Turner had a magnificent website which disappeared after 9/11. Perhaps he was embarrassed or remorseful?? I once searched for copies of his website but found none.
Curve V is one of a series of reviews

Yes he gave a few variations on nukes that could take out the twin-towers. One placed and designed such as the towers would collapse straight down as they did in actuality after the planes hit. He talked more about specialist demolition nukes and heat pulses at an international conference but I can't find the transcript online anymore.

In fact it is much harder to stumble upon anything nuclear related by Ted Taylor since the "TED" talk by 17 year old Taylor Wilson on fusion. It tends to dominate search results.

Ted Taylor claimed in later years that it was possible to build a pure fusion bomb and he knew how to do it (but he would never tell how).

It is a pity there appears to be no archive of his website as you say.


If still reading the thread I did find this online. It's an early draft of the first chapters of an unpublished autobiography entitled "Changes of Heart".



(Outline and 6/6/86 draft of first 5 chapters, Sept. 12, 1987)
Theodore B. Taylor
Address and phone until Nov. 1, 1987: 10325 Bethesda Church Rd.,
Damascus, MD 20872; 301-926-3909
After Nov. 1, 1987: PO Box 37, West Clarksville, NY 14786;

The book is an account of the author's changes in convictions about
nuclear weaponry from the announcement of the nuclear bombing of
Hiroshima through the present. After an initial period of 4 years of
mild activism in oppposition to further development of nuclear
weapons, the author spent the next 16 years working with great
enthusiasm on the design and general promotion of nuclear weapons,
first at Los Alamos and later at General Atomic and the Defense
Department. In the mid-1960s he did an about face and, from then
through the present, has focused his work primarily on ways to achieve
global nuclear disarmament.
The book is intended for general readers who are concerned about the
threat of nuclear war and are interested in the understanding the
roles nuclear weaponeers in the nuclear arms race, as well as their
justifications for playing those roles.

I'm inclined to think they capitalized on their reputation as tech miracle workers. I find it hard to imagine they have anyone who knows plasma physics, as it applies to fusion.
Of course worries about Fusion reactor explosions, are pure Sci-Fi. The real problem is getting/keeping them going. Rad contamination would be orders of magnitude less than with fission. Its really not a public safety issue. More an issue, is are we simply throwing money at this in a foolish manner?

I don't pay too much attention to fusion, but at first glance as a source of power it seems to violate the laws of thermodynamics. Fission is decay, mass is being destroyed, and the energy of mass is becomming heat. Fusion is not decay, I know this much, but I'm not sure what you call it, maybe growth? It just doesn't seem possible without violating the 2nd law. The sun creats fusion from the vast gravitational potential energy of it's own mass, it's actually transmitted to earth for free, and if we can't harness that, then good luck violating thermodynamics.

Search for "binding energy curve", e.g.

In either fission or fusion mass is converted to energy when the product nucleus is higher on the curve. Iron has the highest binding energy per nucleon; elements above that can release energy by fission, below that by fusion.

Thanks I may look into it.

Slightly different but a good illustration of how fusion can release energy:




A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!
It is urgent to examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders. To properly evaluate these factors, we request access to the relevant USDA data.

I am leaning more and more toward hoping that a side effect of one of these technological marvels from Monsanto et al. is the discovery that we humans have been made decidedly Roundup NOT Ready and start to have bad "outcomes" - like a weed.

I just cannot see these uncontrolled experiments ending well.

Nature will find a way. Millions of little uncontrolled experiments . . . but a few eventually succeed.

That letter, sent a year ago to the Sec of Agriculture, has bogus science written all over it. There are many, many valid, scientifically supported reasons to oppose the use of Round-up and the spread of Round-up resistance crops, no need to revert to black magic to support the cause.

There are many, many valid, scientifically supported reasons

Agreed. Ignoring the "new to science" claim there are the below claims:

It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders.

Where are these studies and list of diseases? What macro and micro nutrients are being chelated? (I can believe roundup can effect hormones but I do not believe one "chelates" hormones.)

From research into nanostructures - photon interaction:

While current solar energy technology, which is usually based on semiconductor technology made of silicon or gallium oxide functions at 20 percent efficiency on the high end, a University of Connecticut professor is working on a new technology that could harvest 70 percent of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation.

Another use for Silver - put here to demonstrate what may have been given up.

Note each cruise missile contains approx. 15kg of silver in wiring, contacts, solder and batteries.

Early human burial practices varied widely

DENVER - A new study from the University of Colorado Denver shows that the earliest human burial practices in Eurasia varied widely, with some graves lavish and ornate while the vast majority were fairly simple.

“We don’t know why some of these burials were so ornate, but what’s striking is that they postdate the arrival of modern humans in Eurasia by almost 10,000 years,” said Julien Riel-Salvatore, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology at CU Denver and lead author of the study. “When they appear around 30,000 years ago some are lavish but many aren’t and over time the most elaborate ones almost disappear. So, the behavior of humans does not always go from simple to complex; it often waxes and wanes in terms of its complexity depending on the conditions people live under.”

I listen to this show on NPR at lunch called to the point with warren olney....anyway the discussion was on rising gas prices and the person talking about oil said well the reason you have rising gas prices are because we have mostly unconventional oil left and it is getting more expensive to get etc..Warren Olney the host...who I mostly like was incredulous how could you say that etc...did not want to face the facts but then again he lives in California and probably drives a lot. Why are people so offended by peak oil and want to shoot the messenger? Even scientist I know don't want to look at facts when you talk about peak oil they grab on to these weak news headlines----one told me yesterday that the reason oil is high is because of speculators pushing the price up...this is so monumental why not study it and pay attention to it rather than sticking your head in the sand...it is very odd human behaviour.

The "guy" was "Chris Nelder...an independent energy analyst and columnist for SmartPlanet.com."

The show was mostly about mapping the brain (interesting in itself) and Nelder was on in the third segment (Olny usually does three segments). You can listen by going to KCRW, To the Point and clicking on the "Listen" button. Just above the progress bar there is an indicator of the segments. You can go right to Nelder's segment by clicking on the bar just under the indicator.

This was the first time I have ever heard this subject put forth so distinctly on any MSM anywhere. Olney was incredulous that putting more oil into the market from these new sources wouldn't drive the prices down according to Econ 101. I think Nelder did a good job of explaining the EROI issue, but it is hard to say if the message stuck with Olney. I plan to take a look at comments left on the site later today to see if other listeners got it or not.

George – “Olney was incredulous that putting more oil into the market from these new sources wouldn't drive the prices down according to Econ 101.” I’m not an economist…never even took Econ 101. But don’t they teach you the first week that if you increase the per unit profit of a widget companies are motivated to make more widgets? Likewise if you decrease the profit companies tend to produce fewer widgets. In fact, none at all if there’s no profit? So if it costs $X to make a widget doesn’t Econ 101 teach that you have to sell widgets for something more than $X in order to have them produced? Seems simple enough even to a geologist. LOL

So if, as a result of all this new magical tech that allows us to increase oil production, it costs $x/bbl to produce a bl of oil doesn’t it follow that companies need to sell oil for more than $X/bbl? Conversely, if the cost to produce a bbl of oil drops below $X /bbl it would follow that the oil wouldn’t be produced? Again, isn’t that basic Econ 101? Unless I have no understanding of economics at all it would seem that Mr. Olney might have been napping during his Econ 101. Can’t put more oil on the market than companies can produce even at a skinny profit level. Granted some companies may sell all their production for less than it cost them to develop but they usually don’t last too long. But maybe Mr. Olney believes that driving oil down to, let’s say, $50/bbl would still lead companies to continue drilling the resource plays just the same as they have been.

I think Mr. Olney didn’t read through the entire chapter on supply and demand in his Econ 101 class.
I made this point clear the other day: the buyers of my oil don’t care if it cost me $20/bbl or $200/bbl to develop the production from one of my wells. They are going to pay me the market rate for my production. I’m currently selling NG from one of my wells for at least half the price it cost me per mcf to drill that well. But it still generates positive cash flow. I will never recover 100% of the capex on that project. We spent $180 million drilling for NG in 2.5 years thanks to higher anticipated prices. Last year I spent $0 drilling for NG based on lower anticipated prices. As I said I’m just a geologist but I think I grasp Econ 101 a tad better than Mr. Olney at least as far as the drilling business goes.

Doesn't make any sense, anyway. As Economist Kenneth Boulding once said, "what exists is possible". Earth to Olney. Since prices are not behaving in accordance with your understanding of 101, you apparently do not understand 101. Of course, completely ignoring the demand and cost sides of the equation is not helpful.

However, your example illustrates that a surge in supply has made a difference with respect to natural gas and also illustrates that Econ 101 assumes perfect information. Perfect info is difficult, especially when the future is involved.

Of course others think speculation is driving up oil prices, thus circumventing economic theory. But then why aren't speculators driving up natural gas?

ts – OK…haven’t seen it in a while so I’ll offer Yogi’s thought on the subject: Predictions are difficult…especially about the future. LOL.

The situation with NG fits Econ 101 models perfectly for those economists who can appreciate time lag and producing positive cash flows from marginal/money losing efforts. They should since bankruptcy liquidation is a common occurance: selling inventory below replacement cost. And then there’s the ability of a public oil company to monetize a profit through increased stock value well beyond the actual profit level of their operations. Again many examples outside the oil patch, such as often seen in the computer tech world: a company stock value greatly exceeding not only the profit margin but even cases when there’s even little or no revenue. Again, not a big secret about that dynamic.

As you say perfect info is difficult to come by. Buying a high priced stock anticipating someone will pay an even higher price in the future is a good plan…if your expectations are based upon perfect info. I got a world class education within a few years of the start of my career. In the late 70’s I watched the oil patch spend an unbelievable amount of capex (more than twice as many rigs drilling as during our recent boom) because they had “perfect info” that oil prices would increase regardless of the effect of high oil prices on the global economy. Another simple Econ 101 lesson that many CEO’s and their economist advisors apparently slept through that day in class. There is nothing happening in the oil patch today that hasn’t happened multiple times before. So far from the beginning of oil/NG development in this country the cycles always repeat themselves. And today many think the cycle won’t repeat. More “perfect info" perhaps. Time will tell.

Won't investing in natural gas companies be the next boon as more drills are pulled away to drill for shale oil and as more of natural gas is sold to Asian countries...we are very dependent on natural gas in the west as we have switched to burning nat gas for electricity rather than coal.

Sparky – You bet: like most stock plays it’s about timing. Like back in early ’08 when folks thought it was the perfect time to buy NG companies as prices went shooting past $12/mcf.

Good luck.

Yes, I'm "an independent energy analyst and columnist for SmartPlanet.com"...and a TOD member (and occasional poster) since 2007. Glad you appreciated that segment. You might also want to check out my appearance on Olney's show last year, along with Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, and Neil King, veteran energy journalist for the Wall Street Journal, where we discussed gasoline prices and how President Obama’s energy policies do and do not affect domestic U.S. oil and gas production.

I've written hundreds of articles and two books about peak oil, unconventionals, renewables, and related subjects, all of which you can find on my blog: http://www.getreallist.com.

I like Chris Nelder's Peak Oil definition:

"Peak oil is here, costumed as oil prices that are too high for comfort, yet still not high enough"

- From a linked article: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/take/americas-oil-choice-pay-up-or-get-o...

Remember how things work in "optimistic" America.

1) If oil prices rise, it's because of speculators, but it's still good news, because the economy is doing better, and the rising prices will bring more production and substitution!
2) If oil prices decline, it's because of demand destruction, but it's still good news, because prices are lower for consumers, and surely the Fed will juice the economy!

Everything is good news, all the time.

That which must not be named: peak oil, permanent economic stagnation, limits to growth, and the end of Pax Americana.

It's always sunny skies forever. To infinity and beyond.

And we are more addicted to the juice than ever. If the metaphor is correct, the crash will be correspondingly ugly and will kill or almost kill the addict.

In the twisted, perverse world of the stock market, if the Fed announces that the economy is improving, the market goes down because that signals they are going to take some of the juice away from the table. In the minds of investors, the Fed has become the economy.

So, actually everything is good news except good news. Ha Ha

Debate between Michael Ruppert and Jerome Corsi. Unmitigated hilarity:


Yeah, that sounds like a watching a fight in the special ed class.

True that. What a pair of welterweights.

I take offense at having my special ed son compared to a nitwit like Ruppert.

a nitwit like Ruppert.

What exactly makes him a nitwit? His observations he laid out a decade ago? His charges that the LAPD are corrupt? Charges that Government officials are involved in the drug trade? How about "Peak Oil" - he was talking about the topic long before TOD was created.

Is it OK to make such a comparison of your Son to Jerome Corsi? (I was confusing Corsi to Corzine. Not at all the same creatures, although Ruppert VS Corzine on insider trading would be "interesting".)

I would think the comparison of either 2 to a special needs Son would not be charitable.

Being a 9/11 truther makes Ruppert a nitwit. Ruppert tends to massively over-exaggerate and dramatize everything. That said, he makes much more sense than Jerome Corsi. That guy is nothing but a conspiracy theory clown.


So what if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?

Of course they are profitable.. they print the money and skim a bit off the top.. ok, I'm exaggerating a bit, and by no means am I saying that we don't need banks, we do need the banks the way things are now.

Smil is correct on the surface in his claims on nominal oil extraction but misses 2 critical points:

1) (to me at least) peak oil debate has never been about the year extraction would peak, but how economies could continue to grow in the face of higher extraction costs. E.g. most combinations of substitution, efficiency, conservation would be swamped by a doubling or trebling of oil prices with world transport system so dependent on liquid fuels.

2) contrary to mainstream theories, the main drivers of productivity are not labor and capital but energy and credit (credit is like an energy turbocharger). More and more credit allows us to continue (temporarily) to afford higher resource prices and gives companies high enough prices to continue to extract, even though the margins get smaller. The relationship between money, debt and energy is little understood. Money is a claim on energy. Debt is a claim on future money. So debt is a claim on future energy. All this extraction in Bakken and other places while extraction costs have gone up 17% a year past decade is just borrowing from future affordability.

The story now is how long we can continue to deficit spend. If you tell me how much US govt will borrow next quarter/year I can tell you with 90-95% certainty what GDP will be. It is my opinion we are at end of road of formal credit expansion by governments, though there are plenty of bizarre guarantees that could still keep economy afloat a while longer.

In any case, looking at extraction figures making new highs is a red herring. The real issue is can the economy continue to grow in face of $100 oil and new GOP (and others) fighting new and higher debt. The issue people need to be discussing and working on is 'how do we transition to flat/negative growth economy while our institutions (e.g. CBO) still think the historical growth path will resume)*

*Note - if you look at CBO they project real GDP growth of 3.1% per year or 38% over 10 years. Interestingly, they have revised their projections each year in past 3 years but each time not only do we return to historical growth trajectory but the growth is even higher!! (they kept 2020 the same and since we grew slower than forecast the future assumed growth rate had to be higher to meet that target).

What if theyre wrong?

In my opinion, net oil importing OECD countries like the US have gone increasingly into debt, from real creditors and from accommodative central banks, in a desperate attempt to keep their wants based economies going, based on the premise (or more accurately, the desperate wish) that high oil prices are temporary, and that soon we will once again have abundant and cheap supplies of oil.

The GNE/CNI* ratio, from 2002 to 2011, versus total global public debt:

And the GNE/CNI ratio versus annual Brent crude oil prices:

*GNE = (2005) Top 33 net exporters, BP + EIA data, total petroleum liquids

CNI = Chindia's Net Imports (China + India)

I guess you are suggesting the other half implicit in Nate's question:

The story now is how long we can continue to deficit spend. If you tell me how much US govt will borrow next quarter/year I can tell you with 90-95% certainty what GDP will be. It is my opinion we are at end of road of formal credit expansion by governments, though there are plenty of bizarre guarantees that could still keep economy afloat a while longer.

In any case, looking at extraction figures making new highs is a red herring. The real issue is can the economy continue to grow in face of $100 oil ...

Can the USA economy (or that of EU for that matter) grow, or cope with contraction, if China and India continue to grow? China even if growth is 'only' 7%, will double in 10 years - and even if China's oil imports do not double in that 10 years they are going to import an awful lot of oil!

The answer is a resounding no - barring a substitute, which isn't available now in mass quantities. There are other issues with growth in the west - namely that the western economies are literally awash with goods - more than they can consume. There's a lot of leftover everything that just goes straight to the garbage bin. The only area of growth has been construction and IT, construction will get hit more as oil gets more expensive and harder to get.

There is no way construction can continue on the scale it has without some cheap power source - which to now has been provided by oil. As the number of constructions has increased, the amount of resources and energy needed to maintain just that what has been built increases. Electric vehicles are the only alternative to oil, and they aren't scaling up. China has been building at a phenomenal rate - but they have the same problem - how to maintain what is already there.

Nate & wt, seems like the US govt. is bumping up against borrowing limits per the upcoming sequestration. Obama seems very desperate to not reduce govt. spending while the R's want to move at least in a minor way towards a more balanced budget. There is also pressure starting to be applied to back away from QE's. Seems like we may be at the end of the fiscal rope. If so, my question is will another 08/09 type step down occur this year? I'm of that opinion if sequestration continues, the budget is slashed further through negotiation and QE's are reduced or eliminated, another step down is unavoidable. Then of course the quesion becomes what happens then?

When everyone worries so much about a balanced budget, I don't quite understand. Most households have debt in the form of a mortgage. As long as income is high enough to support living expenses and the mortgage payment (along with any other loan payments), it is not a problem.

In just the same way, a government can sustain budget deficits as long as the overall level of debt is not too high, especially if the country has its own currency like the US.

When looked at worldwide every liability balances with an asset and interest payments are the price paid for the lender to risk possible default on any loan as well as inflation protection.

There is the potential for a rise in oil prices to lead to widespread substitution at some price level (my guess is $300/barrel in 2012 $ for Brent crude). As people substitute hybrids, EVs, train and light rail as well as more walkable and bikeable communities we may see a lot of investment by businesses that see an opportunity.

I do not think that such a transition will be smooth or easy, but it does not seem impossible to move to a more sustainable paradigm. The sooner we start the better and higher oil prices will get us started.


"When looked at worldwide every liability balances with an asset..."

You'll have a hard time convincing me of that, at least out here in the real world. Mortgage-backed securities? Derivatives? Other assets leveraged far beyond their true value? What you're saying is that there is no such thing as a ponzi finance or investment scheme. Tell that to the investors in MF Global. They want their assets back. All of them.

In the case of debt, which was the issue, for every loan, there is a lender and borrower, for the lender the money owed is an asset and for the borrower the loan is a liability. I did not say that every loan is repaid. That is the risk of lending, sometimes the loan is not repaid. So when people get all upset about US government debt, do they expect there is a high risk of default? When someone invests their money, they need to do their homework. I do agree that better government regulation of the financial industry is a great idea.
For those that think the free market always gives the best possible outcome (which I do not), financial bubbles are a big part of that world.

When a company goes bankrupt some of the debts are written off and those liabilities become zero, at the same time the assets of some of the lenders are written down to zero and voila we have balance. I am trying to understand why people seem to think that debt is bad, is it because sometimes it is not repaid? That is the reason lenders require interest payments, without them there would be very little lending.


for every loan, there is a lender and borrower, for the lender the money owed is an asset and for the borrower the loan is a liability. I did not say that every loan is repaid. That is the risk of lending, sometimes the loan is not repaid. So when people get all upset about US government debt, do they expect there is a high risk of default? When someone invests their money, they need to do their homework.

True . . . there is a lender. But there wasn't necessarily real money backing up the loan. The lender may have conjured up the money from thin air using the magic of fractional reserve banking.

And therein lies part of the problem. They are not investing their money. They are not even just investing their depositor's money. They are lending money conjured from thin air. What is to prevent you from making big bets? If they pay off, then you are in fat city. If they go bad . . . well, let the government bail you out. This is why people don't like bankers.

I wouldn't say debt is bad. However it has a tendency to trap significant numbers of people into debt peonage or something like it. It does have to be watched carefully, the worst excesses reigned in, and some form of jubilee may be required to right mounting social wrongs if society neglects its duty to regulate it.

"When looked at worldwide every liability balances with an asset and interest payments are the price paid for the lender to risk possible default on any loan as well as inflation protection."

Two penniless bums wager a billion dollars on the outcome of a game of rock-paper-scissors. The one that wins is a billionaire?

A lot of financial instruments - like most derivatives - transfer individual risk, not systematic risk. Collectively they don't make or lose money (because one person's gain is another person's loss) but can, and often do, increase collective productivity.
Think of a corn farmer who needs money to buy seed/fertilizer etc but doesn't have so s/he has to take a loan. The lender (let's assume it is a bank) likely will only make the loan if the farmer sells (part of) the harvest forward to ensure sufficient capital to repay the loan.
At the same time a cereal producer wants to reduce the uncertainty of the corn pricing because it is an important input. They are more than happy to buy a corn future to lock in a 90 day forward price.
Although the net P/L on the corn contract is zero real economic value (a corn crop which otherwise may not have been planted) has been created.

On the issue of debt=asset you should think along the lines of MMT's horizontal/vertical money.

He owns a piece of paper that say's I owe you a billion. Of course without any sort of prospects of being paid, that piece of paper doesn't have much value. If the first bum actually was known to be sitting on a huge wad of cash, then that paper is valuable, and could be traded for other goods worth a billion. So in (mythical) case B, that paper is effectively a billion dollar bill. In this case loaned into existence. That's what money, a tradeable collectable debt. As long as people believe in the ultimate collectability of the debt, it is money.

"As long as income is high enough to support living expenses and the mortgage payment (along with any other loan payments), it is not a problem."

The "As long as income is high enough" is the source of unease. When debt exceeds GDP things get unstable. If interest rates go up, then the debt gets much more expensive to service. Taxes may have to go up to do it, and if taxes go up for debt service, then there is less spending on the consumer economy, unless you can export more to other countries. But they are all in the same boat and trying to export their way out of their own holes.

Not every country can be a net exporter.

If interest rates go up, then the debt gets much more expensive to service.

PVguy, unfortunately few people worry about this.

I am not sure the household analogy works because you are talking about a household that is not constantly increasing its debts every year. At some point, if it keeps increasing its debt service, it won't be able to pay its bills without increased income.

But I am very much interested in what would actually happen if the government decided to not pay its debt, a situation we came close to and may again.

The R's have no intention in moving toward a more balance budget. One of THE primary myths about the so called conservatives - when push comes to shove they are just as bad if not worse than D's. At least D's - some D's anyways - would have money invested on social programs and things that may benefit communities in general.

Compare that to someone like Paul Ryan and the whole rest of his ilk - asked repeatedly during the campaign etc. "so what EXACTLY would you cut - tell us some specific programs" - never, not once could he come up with anything other than generalities "blah blah blah entitlements..." oh you mean entitlements like insurance programs that people have paid into for their entire careers or MIC type entitlements ? The silence has been deafening.

Republican fiscal conservatism is a myth - particularly when looking at the most recent incarnation of the "conservatives"

Yes this is true. Principled Republicans disappeared a long time ago.

Remember what Republicans convinced themselves of: drown the government in debt, that's how we'll finally kill it. The only way you can do that is to reduce taxes and increase spending. Which is exactly what they do.

Republicans haven't been about good governance in a long time, Nixon (!) was probably the last.

Nixon (!) was probably the last.

Maybe, Bush the elder? He lost re-election because he had the gall to raise taxes (on the rich no less!).

Yeah I suppose I didn't give him credit. In my mind I've always viewed him as Reagan's 3rd term, and this is a bit unfair.

He lost the election because Ross Perot got 19% of the popular vote.

Perot. There's your last principled Republican.

I wonder if the Fed knows how to unwind all the instruments it bought with QE without wrecking the economy big time.

Nate & wt, seems like the US govt. is bumping up against borrowing limits per the upcoming sequestration.

The government imposed those limits on itself. It could easily continue to borrow if it removed those limits: interest rates on government debt are so low that the bond holder is actually losing money to inflation. Additionally, the government could print the money by making the Federal Reserve buy the debt, which is (mostly) what QE is.

And economic theory shows that at the zero lower bound (when the fed won't respond to a bump in economic activity by raising interest rates) a extra dollar added to the deficit is actually self funding. This counterintuitive result is because the longterm trend of the economy is dragged down by the product of recession times time. I.E. investments not made, skills of un/under-employed decayed etc. take more tax revenues out of the future than are lost in the present.

But politics isn't about analysis, its about the exploitation of raw emotion. So we end up doing austerity. Because of the same effect, austerity actually worsens the public debt prospects -leading to calls for yet more austerity. This is just one of the ways homo-anti-sapiens shoots itself in the foot ass.

there are limits however. reinhart and rogoff showed that (among others). they also only included govt debt, not private, corp, household etc. I would say 120% to GDP is pretty close to practical limit (for govt) and we are almost there

Money is a claim on energy. Debt is a claim on future money. So debt is a claim on future energy.

And Debt can go "poof" in bankruptcy.

The US Government has made the money-debts go away once before. It can do it again.

eric, yes.
But then real GDP (consumption divided by costs of things) goes down. And we arent prepared for that.

nate... a totally agree with your "Money is a claim on Energy." As EROI of Oil & Gas continues to fall, assets will turn into liabilities -- and liabilities will turn into real problems.

With global conventional assets under management now at $85.2 trillion, it looks as if the majority of these paper instruments (debts) will not be realized due to the declining energy metric going forward.

Again, as I mentioned before, assets such as gold & silver are stores of Trade-able energy. The energy is already locked into these physical assets. While we can't predict what the value of these assets will be in the future, we can assume that they will hold up a great deal better than their paper counterparts.

gold and silver will only go up (significantly) if a major currency goes poof. If that happens we have major social problems - supply chain breakdowns, riots, etc. Yes gold and silver will be worth multiples of what they are now (in that 1 case) but that doesnt help society one bit - its only a continuation of the acquisitor era we are now under - not prosocial, not pro-community. Little to recommend in gold and silver as answers. A gold and silver based economy would be a fraction of the size of today - you cant barter this level of complexity. Yes there is SOME energy involved in gold and silver extraction/refining so backing money by metals makes more sense than using paper/trust but methinks we need something truer - land or energy. My 2 grains of thought on the matter. Be careful what you wish for in gold and silver

nate... this is the real dilemma isn't it? Does an individual try and make the WHOLE better, or protect ONESELF, family and those in the neighborhood?

Unfortunately, I think the situation has gone past the point of no return. Ruppert's advice of disengaging from the matrix and worrying about what takes place in your local area, may turn out to be good advice.

If there was a wise solution by Govt and the central planners, I am all ears. However, it looks as they are going down with the ship.

Does an individual try and make the WHOLE better, or protect ONESELF, family and those in the neighborhood?

That must be a universal question humans have pondered since pondering became possible.

We keep trying to give ourselves help on this (old giving advice to the young) but it's so easy to ignore old fogies. Pick your favorite pondering. Here's one.

Hillel says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

I like the action oriented ones like Larry Santoyo’s parting words to his permaculture students, “Blame no one, expect nothing, and do something.” And not just anything but, “epic shit.”

Your picture is really tiny. Could you post a link to the source as well?


I removed the width tags and made it clickable.

Width tags are not a good idea. Viewers still have to download the big file, but it displays small. The worst of both worlds.

Just another couple of bits, for what they're worth.

In the event of collapse, or even in the event of just a financial collapse, I think it would be a good idea to remember the basic concept of money in terms of a store of value. Yes, down the stream it is actually energy, but in terms of having to step in and reconstruct an economy - whether locally, nationally, or globally - keeping in mind that value would be very helpful.

If we were to go back to a commodity money we could reconstruct an economy fairly quickly, but folk have to understand the concept. And I think we do ourselves a disservice by always thinking the commodity has to be gold, silver, or some other metal. Sure, they make a great store of value because of their properties, but you can have a money based on any commodity which is valued in society. Your money can be based on wheat, corn, gasoline, lumber, whatever. It does NOT have to be gold.

It democratizes the money significantly. It is also significantly less convenient than having the experts handle everything, but we've seen where the experts have gotten us to date, eh.?

Regardless of what gold does, we're going down. This makes the opportunity cost of holding it very low, especially with interest rates close to zero.

I would also add that the opposite view can be taken...for gold to drop, then world peace and economic growth forever would have to occur. What is the chance of that?

Having said that, gold cannot really provide a backbone for the world's currency system as currently configured. Some argue that this can be done at higher prices, but I'm not too convinced yet.

I think of the metals market like a Sotheby's auction. There, you will find incredibly wealthy people bidding on items for tens of millions of dollars. Nobody really questions the sanity of it, we kind of accept it, even though billions of people around the world barely can afford sustenance.

The metals might turn out to be the same way...the holders just gradually become richer, and only when people have enough money will they be able to bid for them.

If the price of gold does down 50% I'd say that the cost of holding it is rather high.
I think what you mean is that the "carry" of gold is low - carry is the cost of storage plus the cost of financing.

The whole gold thing is very strange. I get it in that people worry about currency debasement and thus they want to hold onto something else instead of lose value through inflation. But why gold? It has limited industrial value and as is it goes up, people figure out how to use other materials. They use it in computer chips to bond dies to the chip package frames but even though they use really short wires thinner than human hairs, they are moving away from gold because it is too expensive.

So why does gold have value? Because it is rare and it has always had value. That is circular logic. Like the dollar, gold only has the value that humans ascribe to it. But if things collapse, the value of gold is going to collapse along with everything else. What good will gold be? You can't eat it. You can't build a house out of it. You can't burn it for fuel. It is just a very expensive bauble. If people have less money, the value of the gold will go down with everything else. So I think gold's high value depends on having a thriving civilization around to value it highly. If civilization collapses, gold will not become worthless, but it will be worth less.

gold will not become worthless, but it will be worth less

And greenbacks and numbers on a computer will be worth...?

Just sayin'

In the original sense money was simply the commodity of exchange. It was the next step beyond barter. It was more efficient to trade in this special commodity than it was to try to trade directly in the individual commodities. Each society determined what this special commodity was, based on local conditions and customs. The key element of the special commodity was it had to be perceived as fairly universally valuable. Again, a culture-dependent thing. But it also had to be very difficult to a) inflate and b) forge. If either could be done to the commodity of exchange, the relative value compared to other commodities could wobble outside a reasonably stable range, and the society would seek a different commodity of exchange.

As trade and cultures expanded, the metals fit the commodity of exchange very well. They were rare, dense, relatively easy to transport, and difficult to forge (forge as in forgery, not forge as in bend metal). This, to a degree, did indeed become somewhat circular in it's internal logic, but it worked well enough, and the prime metals, gold and silver (and to a lesser degree copper, because it was more common) became common monies.

As I mentioned upthread, while gold and silver have frequently acted as the commodity of exchange, they have not always done so, nor is there any particular reason they need to do so now. During Colonial times here in the U.S. both tobacco and moonshine served as money. They met the criteria, and they worked quite well. They didn't meet the growing state, crown, and ultimately federal government's needs, but they worked quite well for the common folk.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed a common money became more critical, and the old standbys of gold and silver fit the bill well. Until they didn't. Governments and some private citizens felt the need for more money, to provide for more investment, and hence more growth. There's only so much gold and silver to go around, after all. So modern society revisited an ancient custom. If you are the one who stores the gold, and you do so for customers, and you issue a chit for the deposit, there is nothing to stop you from issuing more chits than you have gold for. So long as the customers don't all ask for their gold at once, you've just increased your amount of "money" very significantly. So you issue the chits and charge interest for them, and we have the birth (well, the rebirth) of the reserve money concept.

This was formalized along the way, and thus we have the Federal Reserve system. To prevent the dreaded run on the bank, you are required to keep a certain amount of "money" in reserve. Once upon a time, and to some degree you could argue it is still true, the "reserve" was gold, the universal commodity of exchange. But for all practical purposes that tie was broken in 1933, by FDR, and then completely separated by Nixon, in 1971. From then on "money" has been the notes printed by the US Treasury/Federal Reserve system, and the entire enterprise has been based on faith and confidence.

All of which, spec, is a long way of explaining why gold has come to hold such a place of reverence in our monetary systems - it meets the commodity of exchange very well. But as I've also tried to point out, money is really, fundamentally, just a commodity in the most primitive sense, and any valued commodity will do. As you say, you can't eat gold. So in a collapse scenario the new commodity of exchange might well be some sort of food. Or whatever else the local environment finds useful. Heck, if the collapse is severe enough, the local environment might not have any gold at all, and folk will create their own money from whatever useful commodity is at hand.

Or, at least, that is my understanding of "money." The modern term is quite divorced from this original sense, to be sure.

I would like to remind those who think "Collapse" of a society goes hand in hand with the collapse of the value of gold... this was not the case during the Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire collapsed, but not the value to gold.

Furthermore, the Eastern Roman Empire actually survived nearly another 1,000 years after the Western Empire, because it backed its currency with gold... The Byzantine.

Lastly... it looks as if the Chinese and eastern countries are buying all the gold the west can give away at rock bottom prices.


If I might add a bit of nuance to your statement, the value of gold is, was, and will be directly related to it's value as a commodity of exchange. Gold locked up in a vault cannot be used as a method of exchange for goods and services. Likewise, the absence of gold in a particular location will also negate it's value. Take the gold out of the vault, and actively trade it for goods and services, and it is a phenomenal commodity of exchange. That is why it has, until fairly recently, been the "money" of choice across the world.

A not-insignificant reason for the collapse of the Roman Empire was the devaluation of the medium of exchange by the Emperors. The medium was metal coinage. I believe it was Nero who started to tamper with the mix of metals in the gold coinage of his day. He debased the value of the medium by diluting it with lesser (i.e. more common) metals. He then took the remaining gold and created "new" coins from what he had gathered. The coins gradually lost value in what is a classic case of inflation - more coins with the same total amount of gold = less exchange value per coin. He wasn't the first so-called leader to engage in this sort of nefarious behavior, nor will he be the last.

Of course there are many other reasons for the collapse of a civilization or society, but in many, many cases tampering with the medium of exchange plays a reasonably significant role. In the collapse we might be contemplating for our time, the exchange value of gold will depend on just how far down the slope we tumble. If we're reduced to a group of isolated bands roving the countryside gold will still have some value, but food and shelter will have more. If we still have some reasonable level of civilization, albeit primitive, I would fully expect gold to once again become a preferred money, a very efficient commodity of exchange.

I think you've both got it backwards. Debasing the currency was not the cause of collapse. It was a symptom of it.

I totally agree, another major driver would have been the increasing remoteness of the political leadership from the expanding frontier of the empire in question, both in terms of the speed/accuracy of communications as well as actual distance.

Leanan... you took the words right out of my mouth. That's my line..LOL. Yes, I realize all the symptoms today as it was during the Roman times... the falling EROI and the Energy metric are the root cause of the collapse. The monetary printing, govt policies and etc are the mere symptoms.

Debasing the currency, or inflation, is a sign of a decaying civilization. But it has a negative feedback effect, driving the economy further into debt. Inflation causes more inflation. It becomes a cause and effect at the same time. Nothing, in a collapsing society, is either black or white, a result or a cause, it is most always a combination of both.

Ron P.

The reason why gold is the king of monetary metals is due to the fact that it suffers the least decline in marginal utility compared to other commodities and etc. Some have stated that anything could be used as a value in trade as money.
While this sounds nice on paper, it doesn't meet the marginal utility factor.

According to some of the inside traders, this last takedown in the gold and silver price last week allowed an estimated 225 metric tonnes of gold to flow to the east. Jim Rickards, author of "Currency Wars" believes the Chinese Govt is going to announce, at some point in time, a quadrupling of their gold reserves overnight.

While the west (especially the USA), keeps printing money, fabricating worthless derivatives as well as buying the majority of its own treasuries, the east continues to trade worthless fiat money for gold and silver... of course on price DIPS.

Another issue for the Romans would have been their wood supply. Although I have no data to back this up, it's well known that they built many structures with wood and, of course, used wood for fires. As their empire spread and their population increased, I suspect that they ran out of enough wood to keep on building. Perhaps "Peak Wood" might be analogous to Peak Oil. Decades ago, I toured Europe with a group of college students and when we got to Italy and Greece, I was amazed at how few large trees could be seen. I think things were worse in the older civilized regions, such as the "Fertile Crescent" (now Iraq and Iran) and Egypt...

E. Swanson


Undoubtedly true, and at least one reason amongst many for the expansion of the Empire and it's ultimate fall. I'm not fundamentally disagreeing with SRS on the energy component of the fall. The "peak wood" thesis you're suggesting could be demonstrated across many empires and cultures. Teotihuacan would be just one more example. In addition to using wood for all the things you mentioned, the Romans were masters of concrete, another wood/energy intensive product.

The difference between peak wood and peak oil, of course, is that wood is a renewable resource. If you just let the damn forest regrow, it will do so, and you will have more wood. But we as a species just don't seem to grok that basic concept very well, do we? No other species would be able to do Easter Island. It's very disheartening.

Wood is renewable as long as the soil isn't degraded. If all the trees are cut and trees are not replanted, the top soil tends to wash away, especially on steeper slopes. For example, the old Greek Bronze Age city Ephesus, later a Roman center of early Christian activity, experienced the loss of their harbor due to silt buildup as the trees in the watershed were removed. From the Wikipedia article:

The importance of the city as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the river (today, Küçük Menderes) despite repeated dredging during the city's history.[24] (Today, the harbor is 5 kilometers inland). The loss of its harbor caused Ephesus to lose its access to the Aegean Sea, which was important for trade. People started leaving the lowland of the city for the surrounding hills. The ruins of the temples were used as building blocks for new homes. Marble sculptures were ground to powder to make lime for plaster...

Crusaders passing through were surprised that there was only a small village, called Ayasalouk, where they had expected a bustling city with a large seaport...

E. Swanson

Steve Hallett thinks Rome collapsed due to a "peak wood" scenario. Tainter thinks that was just part of the larger "declining marginal returns" problem.

Some researchers blame the Black Death on deforestation. Though it wasn't the only reason; severe famines had weakened the population, so there were larger Malthusian issues.

We think of medieval Europeans as filthy people who never bathed, but this wasn't the case. Medieval villages had public baths, like in Japan. They liked to bathe and keep clean. But eventually, wood became so scarce it wasn't possible for ordinary folk to heat water for bathing and washing. Which may have been a factor in the flea-spread Black Death.

Okay, I'll take a stab at this one. In assessing cause vs symptom in the collapse of a civilization let's take the medical analogy further. The cause is the underlying reason for the disease, the symptom a mere expression of it's effects. Relieve the cause, and you treat the symptom. Treat the symptom, and the cause remains.

Commerce is the lifeblood of any reasonably complex society. If you debase the coinage you are fundamentally interfering in the efficient functioning of business, since the coinage is, in the case of the Romans, the method by which commerce functions (even the slaves are bought and sold). Treating the debasement as cause, it would be logical and reasonable to assert if you restore the currency, you will encourage and facilitate commerce, and hence reverse at least one aspect of the collapse. You are treating a cause, not a symptom, by the above prescription.

Conversely, if the debasement is a symptom, and you treat the symptom, there should be no effect on the progression of the disease. I can't think of a circumstance where a badly inflated currency was restored to some level of soundness which did not have a corresponding beneficial effect on the commerce of the nation or society involved.

Hence, the debasement was cause, not symptom.

Now it would be ridiculous to claim it was the only cause. The debasement was just one aspect of the overall decline, specifically one aspect of the political decline. Again, reverse the political decline (restore the power of the senate and the farmer landholder would be a place to start - i.e. restore the key aspects of the Republic as opposed to the Empire) and you are treating a cause, not a symptom. One could follow that logically through the many and varied causes for the collapse of Rome - political, economic, social, moral, etc, etc.

You're still not looking at it right.

Why did they debase the currency? They were well aware of the problems this causes. And they did in fact reverse it from time to time. But they could not maintain it.

They treated the symptom, but the cause remained.

I think I did mention why. The why was political in nature. I even went to the trouble of pointing out the specific Emperor who first engaged in the activity.

I may be missing something here, but you yourself indicated they periodically reversed the debasement and the commercial aspect of the society improved. The debasement was a cause, not a symptom, of the commercial difficulties. Since the political difficulties were not addressed (that cause was not treated at the root) the commercial difficulties were inevitably revisited when the political decision was made to, once again, debase the currency.

It's fundamentally a question of prescriptive policy. Address the cause, and you will treat the symptom. They did not do this on a number of different levels. It's these failures, in aggregate, that lead to the ultimate fall. No one cause can be isolated from the other. One could debate which was most important, and thus which should be treated first, but they had many causes that needed to be addressed.

Again, I think you're looking at it backwards.

I may be missing something here, but you yourself indicated they periodically reversed the debasement and the commercial aspect of the society improved.

The commercial aspect of the society did not improve. That's why they could not maintain it. They were treating a symptom, not a cause.

Templarmyst... I have to agree with Leanan on this one. Joesph Tainter also goes into detail about this same principle. It is the falling EROI that destroys the society. Debasement, govt policies and etc are mere symptoms and not the disease itself.

SRS - no harm in our disagreeing on the relative role and scope of monetary policy as a cause of the fall. I'm not disagreeing with either you, Leanan, or Black-Dog on the role energy played, and the effect of deforestation on Roman society. The fall of the empire was quite complex, and we're starting to surface in this discussion many of the aspects. I particularly appreciate Leanan's mention of the ravages of the Bubonic Plague, surely a key event in the decline of Roman civilization. When you lose somewhere between one and two thirds of your population it tends to be disruptive, to say the least.

And the issue of peak wood goes to the heart of many discussions here. Black-Dog is right, of course. If you deforest and do not replant you lose the topsoil. But if you do replant and live within what I think it was Twilight called the natural energy flows you could theoretically maintain a sustainable society. Problem is we are biological creatures whose prime directive is to reproduce, consequences and health of the offspring being something we seriously consider only after they are born.

And again, I would disagree. On those occasions when the coinage was of high value the commercial aspects of the society were reasonably healthy and the society was also reasonably healthy. Augustus took over minting when he rose to the imperial throne, he minted high value coin, and the society flourished. The coin of the time was accepted throughout the new empire.

Succeeding emperors largely debased the coinage until by Diocletian's time the state resorted to outright price controls because of the inflation caused by the poor coinage. No one wanted the debased coins. I grant you there were not a lot of times the emperors tried to reverse the debasement, but there were brief stints, and the commercial aspects improved slightly. But they were never enough to overcome the other policies which countered them.

I would maintain Diocletian was trying to treat the symptom (high inflation) without fundamentally attacking the cause (poor currency). He couldn't, because he and all the others were too busy fighting wars to be able to create a sound and stable coinage - he needed every scrape of coin he could get his paws on to pay his troops and run his administration.

TemplarMyst... you fail to understand the EROI. The Roman Empire's economic system was based upon taking over lands and stealing the wealth as well as the resources. In the beginnng... this was a high EROI. Think of the EROI of say two thieves with automatic weapons taking by force a Brinks car with $10 million in gold coin.

The EROI on something like that has to be 10,000+/1. When you have a military the EROI is much smaller, but a great deal higher than 10/1 farming EROI.

Once you understand this principle you will see as time went by, it took more resources to maintain what they had acquired. Even though the Roman Empire had the ability to conquer the northern Germanic area... there was little to gain in riches. On the other hand, the Persian Empire had great wealth, but the cost in military and etc was too great.

Thus, the Roman Ecomonic systems EROI declined, leaving the rulers the only option to debase their currency to allow the ILLUSION of stability. This is the same insanity that is taking place today.

SRS - the replies crossed in the ether. See my post above.

You need to get back to basics.
There was only one reason for collapse and its universal. Overpopulation. Too many humans living like locusts in a wheat field.
Why did deforestation occur? Why did EROEI continue to decline? Wars and political systems are simply a response to overpopulation, it's that simple. One can "intellectualize" until the cows come home but if overpopulation is ignored you are just beating your gums.

Now we are entering the final great collapse.
Several events occurred to allow the continued population growth, the exploitation of the new world, the exploitation of fossil fuels, the exploitation of the oceans, engineering technology and globalization. You could say that globalization was also a response to overpopulation, it allowed the complete plunder of earth's resources. The last great "resource" to plunder is humans.

The real advantage of gold and silver coinage was that the emperor could use it to pay soldiers. Soldiers used it to pay for arms and supplies. From the suppliers, the coinage circulated to the landowners and merchants. The emperor could then tax the landowners and merchants. Ordinary peasants and laborers were largely outside this system, as were slaves.

This replaced the previous cumbersome methods of levying soldiers and supplies from landowners and merchants directly. It made the military much more professional, flexible, and able to fight away from home in all seasons.

Nate, thanks for a great post but you should explain to folks that you are replying to the link up top:
Memories of Peak Oil which was written by Vaclav Smil.

I agree with everything you wrote but it seems that you are giving up on the actual peak. All the irrational exuberance of the last few months has been generated mostly because of the recent boom in tight oil from the US. Tight oil plays are a temporary phenomenon that primarily affects US production. And that will start to decline in a few years.

While it is true that 2012 is now the peak of world oil production there are signs that 2013 will not be another peak. OPEC production is down the last three months and shows signs that this drop will last a very long time. Every OPEC nation is producing flat out with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia. They are down about 1 mb/d from their peak back in June and I believe only about half of that is the result of deliberate cutting.

Non OPEC, with the exception of the US, Canada and a couple of other small producers is in decline. Without the resent upsurge in US production there would be far less jubilation on the part of pundits such as Smil that peak oil was but a memory.

Non-OPEC oil production less US production in kb/d. The last data point is October 2012.

Non-OPEC less USA photo Non-OPEClessUSA_zps4c6098fb.jpg

Ron P.

Hello Ron

as a former joe pack ( now a billy beer barrel ) I tried to ignore the article peak memories , the article has flaws

but you know I looked and , well , aren't we supposed to be at 120mb a day by now according to Yergin?

zoom out on the graph of world oil supplied per day and to be frank the rather small uptick is , well , rather small.

And no mention of price at all anywhere in the article - that uptick , good for copy , has cost a lot....... remember when the anti peak oil crowd used to go on about how oil was going to be so cheap ?

heh, no " imminent danger " in "early in 2013 " - late 2013 and theres a problem he can still claim to be right ...

meh , "Memories of Peak Oil" is what we'll be having on the down slope anyway , eh ?


PS: a front row seat at the freak show and all the popcorn I can eat - welcome one and all to the show that never ends!

PPS: more beer needed ;-)

Thanks as usual for the graph. Is what you plot the C+C data?

Yes, sorry I should have pointed that out in my post. I only track or plot Crude + Condensate. I don't consider NGLs, (bottled gas), oil. After all, when you get the price of oil, no one gives you the price of propane. How much does a barrel of propane cost these days anyway? ;-)

Ron P.

Correct on the surface - but I've seen that today the figures include NGL's and bio-fuels which weren't included before, so yes, peak oil already arrived several years ago. No doubt, there is one area of the world where oil production could increase markedly.. but it won't happen now.


On that graph you can see it was about 2006 that the oil price took off, partially due to production leveling off but also due to a large increase in demand from China.

In virtual lock step, all the other commodities increased in price, around 2008.

"include NGL's and bio-fuels"

I hate to say that I was fooled by this back when I started doing analysis on the topic.
And the gap is growing wider every year.

If there was a FAQ, this would top the list.

The absurd but telling analogy is if someone was monitoring the numbers of passenger pigeons in the 1800's and then someone else changed the measure to "birds". You still want to know passenger pigeons but jokers like Vlacek Smil say its birds that you want. Cuz a bird is just a bird.

Professor Smil lost his nerve in the last paragraph. So you can basically ignore all of his preceding verbiage. "Obviously there will come a time when global oil extraction will reach its peak, but even that point may be of little practical interest ... ". It seems like there is some unstated narrative that he is trying to prop up, but he realizes that the scaffolding is getting shaky and his heart is not really in it. That's what it seems like to me.

I've left comments to a couple of these ""peak oil is dead, look at production increases, etc." articles. My comments are generally along the lines of; "double or tripple the price of any commodity and someone will find a way to produce more of it, at least for a while". I've also pointed out the credit/energy nexus, and that the injection of $trillions has only resulted in us clawing our way back to where we were 7-8 years ago. This sort of comment never makes the cut. No tolerance for these inconvenient truths, it seems; spoils their party.

I've been following Stoneleigh's posts on trust as it relates to credit and debt. We're approaching peak trust faster than peak oil, IMO.

So credit is intrinsically linked to energy and wall st. doesn't know it? hmmm,probably true :)
but if energy leveled off around post wwII technology most assuredly wouldn't have but
I guess total gdp would be much lower.

We'll be forced to live less wastefully. The energy/credit at least built up a communication network
to allow a huge number of people to work remotely.

1987 : 1.8 trill. miles
2012 : 2.9

GOing back is not BAU and TODers think that is a good thing and I don't think that would be so painful and I don't think technological progress would be stopped.

The key word is "forced" though because I think all will be tried to keep energy production high including nuclear & coal to gasoline.

As a prepper, I was obviously interested in the story about preppers uptop. It was especially interesting since we just had a prep meet-up and show and tell at my house last Saturday.

I was disappointed that there was no difference drawn between preparing for transitory events such as storms, i.e., standard emergency preparedness and non-transitory events such as a financial collapse, i.e., "stocking up" for the long haul.

I think one mistake many preppers make is that they believe they can become/be truly self-sufficient. I've lived in the boondocks for a long, long time, have a variety of skills and a lot of stuff stored away. Yet, my philosophy is to buy time so I can observe how things are playing out and not have to make an uniformed decision. You can get a better idea of where I'm coming from by looking at my old key post http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4979?nocomments . It also includes some pictures of my PV and solar hot water systems.

In any case, I believe that people are making a mistake not to adopt much of the philosophy of prepping - essentially all you are doing is more of what you'd do normally such as having food and water in the house; plus a few more things. There are a lot of sites out there that will get you on your way.


I was disappointed that there was no difference drawn between preparing for transitory events such as storms, i.e., standard emergency preparedness and non-transitory events such as a financial collapse, i.e., "stocking up" for the long haul.

Long haul collapse could look like the 3rd world conditions today, so there are 'models' to look to.

But to suggest a long haul collapse is akin to a turd in the punch-bowl - something no one wants to see or think about while the party goes on.

I think one mistake many preppers make is that they believe they can become/be truly self-sufficient.

Considering outside vampire loads on the prepping system - how exactly is one self-sufficient: Able to "occupy" (own) a spot of land with tools to gather energy then transport and process that energy into a home and yet keep the vampires of insurance and taxes from crossing your threshold and taking what you have?

Considering outside vampire loads on the prepping system - how exactly is one self-sufficient: Able to "occupy" (own) a spot of land with tools to gather energy then transport and process that energy into a home and yet keep the vampires of insurance and taxes from crossing your threshold and taking what you have?

You kind of lost me on that one, Eric. It sort of sounds like you are talking about societal collapse...but not quite because "they" still want their money. Look, if things go down the tube, no one is going to pay anyone anything and they certainly aren't going to be worried about insurance. OTOH, if society is functioning in any way, I would assume that people would have some kinds of funds to pay.

Maybe you could fill out what you mean.


As "collapse" goes on, one of the last things to "collapse" will be the will of those in Government and Government protected business models to give up their revenue streams.

Health Insurance is now a Government protected business model. There is a mandated payment framework in place. Same with, for most states, a mandated 'you want to "own" that property, pay us a tax' model.

While one might be able to be "self sufficient", one still needs to have enough excess production to be able to exchange for "money" to offer up tribute to the State and State mandated business models.

Unless there is some kind of Collapse that doesn't involve someone who's power comes from the barrel of a gun not showing up on your doorstep demanding a tithe to have them leave you alone.

Ok, I think I've got ya. But, first of all note that I don't believe anyone can prepare to be self-sufficient in the long run. Although I'd qualify that by saying unless they were willing to adopt a native life-style and even that would be hard in most areas due to over population.

Look, if things get bad enough such that a large portion or majority of people don't have the money to satisfy government demands whatever they may be, they'll simply go "grey" and exit the system. Short of a police state, what's "the government" going to do? Track down all these people? The situation is somewhat different for property owners but they have options too.

The tithe thing might work is some areas but not in others. In my case, I live in an area with about 4-5k people spread out over 500 or so square miles of boondocks. Aside from the likely hood that they'd meet a lot of resistance, it hardly makes sense to drive (because they certainly wouldn't be walking) to get a few scraps. As an aside, 30+ years ago the old time survivalists in the area had scoped out all the bridges to blow up to close off the area. They're gone but it wouldn't surprise me if some of the current people haven't done the same thing.

It's sort of funny because I never thought that this sort of discussion would take place when I'm old as heck - 74. It shows how society has changed over the years.


I think many (most?) folks are prepping in one way or another. It's just a matter of; for what? My experience is that when folks like us are prepping by reducing their reliance upon increasingly complex and brittle systems, we are seen as rejecting others' more conventional choices to pump more money into 401Ks and stock markets, etc. People are generally threatened by non-conformity. That said, I think many are beginning to lose trust in many of the things they so utterly rely upon. I'm not getting the jokes and patronizing digs that I got ten or fifteen years ago. Maybe it's just that they see that, on the surface, my lifestyle isn't so different from theirs, or that it's becoming more prudent to hedge your bets, which is what we're really doing.

I agree that the idea of total self-sufficiency is a pipe dream. That doesn't mean that one shouldn't strive to be as self-sufficient as one can be. Besides, this stuff is fun and rewarding. It's about having choices others won't be ready for if/when things get much worse. For the most part, any complexity I'm drowning in going forward we be complexity of my own design ;-/

The first step to being part of the solution is to stop being part of the problem.

Besides, this stuff is fun and rewarding. It's about having choices ...

I think that's key. The embedded satisfactions might draw more people to try prepping.

So often I see people downplay the physical and social challenges of respoding to energy descent. Instead, we should support peoples’ innate inclination to thrive, understand, explore, and find meaning in their everyday behavior. We should hint at the idea that there are embedded satisfactions in life patterns that are demanding and consequential.

Prepping theory is interesting.

If you knew hard times were ahead, would you prep, or would you live it up? If you live it up, you most likely (everybody is a little different) get more enjoyment out of your short life, and somebody else in the future would pick up the tab.

If you prep, yes, you can withstand hard times better...but then you will die anyway, and somebody else will come along to enjoy your preparations.

It can be argued that the credit boom since the early 1980s was actually humanity's way of taking the first route.


I'll tell you, my dad's family was lower rich in that they had a nice house, a maid and a full time cook. When the Depression hit they lost everything and went to upper poor. My dad's father died a broken man and the family never recovered.

Now suppose that Prepping was on the horizon way back then and they lived a more modest life...and prepped. Life might not have been as wonderful when things were good but they would have been able to maintain it until the end of the Depression.

Think about it. Obviously I have.


" ...get more enjoyment out of your short life, and somebody else in the future would pick up the tab."

If you enjoy that sort of thing... Seems a bit sociopathic, but maybe it's just me. Anyway, there's a lot of that going on, and most folks don't have a clue they're part of it. To others, it's an art :-0

"...and someday you may ask yourself MY GOD! WHAT HAVE I DONE?"

Clearly you have to do some of both.

If you're all preps and no fun, there's still a chance nothing happens and you blew it. The future is always hypothetical, the now is now. Most likely this is the only life we're going to live, so don't waste it worrying about things that may not happen.

On the other hand, you'd be a fool not to plan ahead, even for rare but significant events. Obviously, there's a huge spectrum there, from brief uncomfortable events to long-term catastrophic events, and I doubt many can be ready for everything. Your income and situation should cause you to draw the line somewhere.

It's about balance, and moderation in all things, as it ever was.

Prepping theory is really interesting. You never know when THE END will come, exactly. Therefore, if you do too much, too early, you fail. There were people who thought COLLAPSE was near, in 1980. They prepped (called it alternative lifestyle, commune, whatever, in these times) and ran out of money a couple of decades later - if they are right at last in 2020, it won't help them.

Therefore, my take on prepping theroy is either that it has to make sense NOW (no debt, live close to work, vacation home in the hill with lots of fruit and nut trees) or you run the same risk. The real Preppers (those that stack up on cans and ammo and head to the hills now) will likely fail due to timing. Other possibility would be to invest in organic farm or something. All very difficult.

That's a point Greer makes frequently. Whatever you do to prepare for the future has to make economic sense now, not just in your imagined future. Not least because the future probably won't be like you think it will (just because humans in general are so bad at predicting the future).

He also points out that "preparing for peak oil" for most people is just an excuse to do what they wanted to do anyway. Which I think is probably a good thing. It would be terrible to spend years or decades preparing for something that never happens if you don't like doing it.

It can be argued that the credit boom since the early 1980s was actually humanity's way of taking the first route.

OK, I agree with you here. I don't know if I might substitute "the Me Generation" for "humanity", but that's my parent's generation, not mine, so, I wasn't there and probably shouldn't have brought it up.

But clearly humanity as a group in the last couple decades has taken the first route. "We" were warned about population and climate change and limits to growth in plenty of time to achieve some serious mitigations, but we took the first route.

I'm not a historian, but it's hard to believe it was always this way. What happened to "We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children"? Could we ever have built this crazy civilization if every generation wasn't trying to make it better for the next one?

About Keystone and the POTUS

“Does the president have courage to say 'no' to a project that will lock us into decades of dependency on this dirty energy?” So without his approval of the border crossing section of Keystone we won’t be locked into “decades of dependency”? Unlike how we’re totally independent of that dirty Canadian oil today: “In December, U.S. and Canadian railroads were hauling about 1.9 million barrels of oil and refined products per day, double the volume moved in 2009. Of that total, about 1 million barrels per day is being railed in the United States.” Which explains why Canada exported an all-time record amount of oil to the US in 2012.

And if the border crossing section isn’t built they’ll still have the entire length of the remainder of the Keystone system that is currently being built without any delay as well as the other new p/l’s being built from Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast. The oil sands won’t have to be railed thousands of miles to the Texas refiners. Just a few hundred across the border to US p/l terminals. Obvious recent history indicates little difficulty to increase that short border transport to take as much oil as the Canadians can produce. Which should increase proportionally as the price of their oil increases as it breaks past the Cushing bottle neck. If a million bopd rail transport is justified based on current low prices how much can be justified as the price increases? And thanks to the combined spin of some folks both on the left and right many Americans think we won’t take full advantage of the Canadian oil sands.

Truly amazing IMHO how many on the right condemn the POTUS and how many on the left praise him while nothing he has or hasn't done will change the future of oil sand exports to the US.

Rockman, at this point in time, North Dakota oil producers are trucking and pipelining their oil north across the border and putting it into the Canadian export pipeline system for delivery to American refineries. Canadian railroads whose tracks access ND are competing with American railroads to haul ND oil through Canada to US East Coast refineries. As it happens, ND oil producers are suffering from the same pipeline restrictions as Canadian producers. The Keystone delays are hitting them, too.

Now of course, American pipelines could add capacity to move ND oil to US markets without asking the US government. So why don't they? Do you suppose it could have something to do with ND oil companies not being willing to make long-term supply commitments?

The shale oil producers are there for a good time, not a long time. They base their economics on a two-year plan. Anything beyond that is someone else's problem.

Rockman, at this point in time, North Dakota oil producers are trucking and pipelining their oil north across the border and putting it into the Canadian export pipeline system for delivery to American refineries.

But isn't a major reason for this seemingly illogical back-tracking that the bitumen needs to be diluted so they are using the nearby North Dakota "tight" oil to do the dilution?

In a word, no.

They wouldn't use ND light oil for diluent because the stuff is too valuable. The biggest market for it is refineries which don't have the capability of processing heavy oil. They don't like the price, but their alternative is going out of business.

Canadian companies are importing NG liquids from Texas to use as diluent, since shale gas producers in Texas are preferentially developing liquids rich gas rather than dry gas because the price of NG is so low. This has produced more NGLs than Texas refineries can use (they want heavier hydrocarbons to make gasoline and diesel fuel), so the surplus is going to Canada for use as diluent.

Canada also produces NGLs and light oil, but the demand for diluent now exceeds the domestic supply.

Ah, that's makes sense. Thanks. So some of those NGLs that we produced then become part of the tar sands oil we produce. I wonder if it gets counted twice as part of our oil supply?

I don't really understand how the US government calculates its numbers, but I strongly suspect it double-counts the diluent in its calculations. This is particularly significant since much of the diluent is being recycled - the US refineries receiving the diluent/bitumen blend strip off the diluent (which wasn't much use to them in the first place) and send it right back to Canada, over and over again.

In fact, there are some parallel pipeline systems, with one pipe carrying dilbit to US refineries, and the other running the reverse direction, carrying diluent back to to Canadian producers. See http://www.enbridge.com/Alberta-Clipper-and-Southern-Lights.aspx for an example.

I've wondered about that too. I think that diluent export would add to US export numbers, and would not be counted as a product when it returns as Canadian "crude". Since the EIA uses volume instead of mass or BTU content, refining the "dilbit" would result in refinery gains as the low viscosity diluent was stripped off. Those refinery gains would appear as increased US production, the way the numbers are calculated. Just another example of the basic flaw resulting from the use of volume instead of energy, which gives rise to the fiction of refinery gain. If the calculations were performed in energy terms, I expect that the circular flows of diluent would cancel out. Also, any diluent produced in Canada would appear as net imports, as it should.

This EIA confusion may be one of the reasons that some of the the cornucopian pundits can say that the US has become a net exporter of product, when the reality is much different...

E. Swanson

In case some of you want to watch trailers and support a Documentary I present a link to:

MIDWAY The MIDWAY media project is a powerful visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch. Returning to the island over several years, our team is witnessing the cycles of life and death of these birds as a multi-layered metaphor for our times.

A fun* date-nite movie for ya all.

*Fun. For certain values of fu and n.

I wish you hadn't told me this. Sad. So very very sad.

Pipelines are the ticket to North American energy independence

Why would I care about "North American energy independence"? As a US consumer, I want cheap oil. This is merely Canadian oil interests arguing in favor of what will make them more money, not what is good policy for the public at large. And it is fine for them to argue their case. But it is very annoying when they try push it as good policy when that is quite debatable. More pipelines may raise the price for US consumers since they will then have the option of selling it to other markets world-wide.

A Canadian company wants to use the U.S. as a transit zone for tar sands "oil" to make them a lot of money. They have a bad record of pipeline leaks, the "oil" will be refined in the Gulf, leaving their pollution in the U.S. and then go on tanker ships to countries that will pay the highest price. I would say this Canadian company is using the U.S. and we would be suckers to go for it.

It's a case of short term pain for long term gain. Sure, some Americans are benefiting from cheap Canadian oil right now because the pipeline network isn't able to get all of that oil to refineries that can utilize it. In the longer run as the amount of oil available from traditional suppliers dries up, Americans benefit from having a secure Canadian supply. If you don't move right now to lock in as much Canadian oil for the future as you can, you'll likely find it has already found its way to other markets by the time you really need it.

As a US consumer, I want cheap oil.

As a US consumer, you want cheap gasoline, not cheap oil. The mid-continent refiners are already getting cheap oil, but they are not passing the savings on to you, they are keeping the money (the "crack spread") for themselves. Champagne and caviar at the company Christmas party, woohoo!

The majority of refineries in the US are on the coasts, and half of them are on the Gulf Coast. These refiners are the price makers in the market, and their prices are based on the cost of "waterborne" oil, for which Brent North Sea oil traded in London is a good proxy. If you want to know where your gas prices are going, watch the price of Brent, not West Texas Intermediate, which is what the MSM calls "the price of oil". It has become more or less irrelevant to US gasoline prices since it is a "landlocked" oil.

The mid-continent refiners are price takers, not price makers, but since the competition's costs are higher than theirs, they are quite happy to charge the same price and make higher profits. The only place they might charge less are in those states where they are not meeting the coastal refiners - eg Wyoming. If you want cheap gas, go to Wyoming.

The big Gulf Coast refiners really want to get their hands on cheap Canadian oil because then they would be in the same situation as mid-continent refiners. Would they pass the savings on to you? Probably not much of it - your gasoline prices would probably still be based on Brent.

About the POTUS and increasing domestic oil/NG production

“…for those worried that the administration will betray its promise to take on the threat of the climate crisis by making a major domestic push for natural gas drilling using the controversial practice known as fracking.”

I won’t repeat my long post of yesterday re: the POTUS's full and unmitigated support of the development of offshore energy. But if some folks are worried about the POTUS not acting against frac’ng for the sake of the environment those concerns would be shifted to an insignificant status if they read my post. A classic case of a magician’s use of misdirection IMHO. While the POTUS makes speeches about protecting the environment and studying the dangers of frac'ng: over 20 million acres of new GOM leases issued by the POTUS and more on the way. Hundreds of new drilling permits issued by the POTUS in the same region as the Macondo blow out. Development of the Macondo reservoir that blew out authorized by the POTUS. And dozens of other new offshore oil fields being developed with POTUS approval. And concern about the environment for many is to focus on how we go about increasing onshore NG production?

As I’ve said before: truly bizarre

For example he loves the idea of natural gas because it is shutting down coal plants. Even at the expense of renewables. Looking anti coal is popular and at least for a time, natural gas is seen as a winner.

Another example. He is trotting out members of his administration against the sequester. IMO he doesn't care about the military cuts and in fact had planned for them and will use every dollar to match social cuts. The other party will take the heat for both. You may like or dislike his policies but he is certainly very good at controlling perception.

he is certainly very good at controlling perception.

Not so sure about that. (Maybe he is getting better). He bends over backwards to help oil, yet he is widely believed to be shutting oil out of massive prospects. He allowed coal exports to reach a new record high, yet the war-on-coal meme sells in coal country. It seems to me the right-wing noise machine does quite a job controlling perceptions. "We could the the Saudi Arabia of oil and gas -but for the environmentalists"....

Anyone have any numbers as it relates to production from the Bakken?

ND Monthly Bakken* Oil Production Statistics (Bakken Only)

ND Monthly Oil Production Statistics (All North Dakota)


Further to story line above http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2013/02/21/new-study-shows-indepen... on measurement of atmospheric warming, here is a digest from Science Editor's Choice this week

Modern Warming by Proxy

H. Jesse Smith

Records constructed by compiling direct measurement of surface air temperatures made at thousands of locations worldwide over the past century or so show clearly and repeatedly that climate is warming globally. Surface air temperatures for periods before direct measurements were made systematically and broadly enough to be useful on global scales are inferred from sources such as tree rings, corals, ice cores, speleothems, and marine sediments, which provide proxies for temperature. What do proxy records say about modern global warming, though? Anderson et al. present an independent record of climate warming over the past 130 years, assembled from a collection of 170 temperature-sensitive paleo proxies, which show the same warming trend as the instrumental record over the same time, including the more detailed picture of warming from around 1910 to the 1940s, the pause in temperature rise until the 1960s, and a continuation of warming from the 1960s to the present. This work validates both the modern instrumental record of temperature rise and the use of these proxies to reconstruct the temperatures of the past.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 189 (2013).

From the researchers who gave us global dimming ...

Jets' contrails contribute to heat-trapping high-level clouds

The new research finds that in addition to shrinking the temperature range, contrails contribute to high-level cloudiness, which can contribute to warming the atmosphere.


Ningaloo Nino: The story behind the massive 2011 Western Australia marine heatwave

Lead author Dr Ming Feng, from CSIRO's Wealth from Oceans Flagship, says the marine heatwave was driven by unusual features in the Leeuwin Current - a warm ocean current which flows southwards near the west coast of Australia – which was affected by extreme ocean and atmospheric conditions in the Pacific and Indian Ocean during the 2010-2011 La Niña.

20 Animals You Could Eat But Probably Won't

#4 ... The cane rat has been estimated to make up half of the locally produced meat consumed in Ghana. And at least one variety of rat -– the beaver-sized nutria (also known as swamp rats) -- are eaten fairly regularly in the U.S. South.

Since fillets from the large rodent rival the size of chicken breasts, there are an endless variety of recipes, from Cajun-spiced to honey-browned to nutria chili and jambalaya.

#6 ... in France, eating young pigeon -- called squab -- is not uncommon. It tastes somewhat like duck, and eating it dates back to Ancient Egypt, Rome and Medieval Europe.

Modern preparations are considered a delicacy because the meat is mild, tender and even has a berry flavor. We suggest pairing it with a nice Cotes du Rhone or Barbaresco.

#8 possum stew and gumbo - although it's greasier than a rabbit, it's not as tough as squirrel.

Other creatures on the Fabulous Gourmet Club menu include squirril, cat, scorpions, roadkill, frogs, snails, alligator, snakes, donkey,dogs, cockroaches and humans.

... had alligator, snake, and also dried jellyfish once. Kinda like eating cellophane

also Fast food makes up 11 percent of calories in US diet, CDC reports

Recently NASA JPL live streamed a lecture tilted: Geoengineering and Climate Change (link here)

Solar geoengineering and ocean fertilization are two of the most controversial aspects of this science, that with the insertion of great quantities of iron,sulfur or other compounds into the atmosphere and ocean, seeks to counter the damaging effects attributed to climate change, specially global warming.
While introducing new risks these technologies also exacerbate some of the already existing problems, like: Droughts, flooding, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, environmental pollution, etc. These side effects in turn increase the great pressure already threatening the planetary biodiversity, food chains and human health. Other, rather large, problems are: bad management, bad intentions and the potential for military use. It is important to keep informed and strongly challenge this dangerous science.

You are invited comment and to read
#Geoengineering #Climate Issues @

Best reagards,
Oscar Escobar

Global warming induced climate change is a result of geoengineering. Bad engineering.

Greece might stop paying salaries by summer

“I am afraid that we may see a phenomenon that could cause a social explosion,” says Savvas Robolis, scientific director for the Labour Institute of the General Confederation of Workers in Greece (GSEE), the private sector’s confederation of unions. “Right now many people can’t pay their taxes. That’s why state revenue fell 300 million euros ($395m) short of January targets. If that continues, I don’t know if the state will be able to meet its obligations by June or July. It may not have the cash to pay salaries and pensions.”

The state heavily subsidises approximately 1.3 million pensions, according to finance ministry data. It also pays the salaries of almost 800,000 state employees, roughly a quarter of all people still working in the country. Failure to pay those pensions and salaries in full would greatly impact on the state’s own tax revenues, and therefore its ability to maintain payments to international creditors.

Taxpayers are bearing increasing indirect burdens as the government privatises state enterprises.

When Greece signed its first memorandum with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2010, its creditors assumed that that the economy would contract by about 50 cents for every dollar cut from public spending. On January 5, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard admitted that that multiplier was wrong.

“Forecasters significantly underestimated the increase in unemployment and the decline in domestic demand associated with fiscal consolidation,” wrote Blanchard. Some economists believe the recessionary effect may be as much as four times greater than what the IMF believed.


China: The Orient Excess

Three decades of economic liberalisation have radically changed the face of China. With the number of Chinese billionaires increasing rapidly (it now has almost as many as the US and is closing in on the top spot), the communist ideals of the past seem to have faded beyond recognition.

"You can never have enough money. Money helps me fulfill my dreams", says Li Chao, for whom expensive hobbies like motor racing are no longer out of reach. He thinks nothing of splashing out hundreds of thousands of dollars on glamorous supercars and is unapologetic about his growing wealth. After all, he says, he has earned it.

Wealthy disagree with most Americans about income policies

... Page said an important reason to examine what wealthy Americans seek from politics is that evidence increasingly shows affluent people exert more political influence than the less affluent.

... economic self-interest is the most straightforward explanation for why the wealthy oppose raising taxes on high incomes and favor reducing the deficit by cutting back on entitlement programs, while a majority of Americans disagree.

"These programs are of little personal benefit to wealthy people," Page said.

"We suggest that these distinctive policy preferences may help account for why certain public policies in the United States appear to deviate from what the majority of U.S. citizens want the government to do," the authors state in the report. "If this is so, it raises serious issues for democratic theory."

Page said an important reason to examine what wealthy Americans seek from politics is that evidence increasingly shows affluent people exert more political influence than the less affluent.

"We suggest that these distinctive policy preferences may help account for why certain public policies in the United States appear to deviate from what the majority of U.S. citizens want the government to do," the authors state in the report. "If this is so, it raises serious issues for democratic theory."

This is why campaign finance reform is so important. If each candidate running for office, particularly president, each receive equal amounts of money from taxpayers then they not only will not be spending a lot of time shmoozing the wealthy for money in return for policies favoring them, but most importantly it will return the power to the people. But politicians make their bread and butter from first being a politician, then as a lobbyist. They won't make as much with campaign finance reform, and taxpayers will have to flip the bill, but it will put the power back where it belongs with the people, which is what our forefathers wanted for us. If we the people were smarter we would organize and protest for such a change.

The corruption comes in many forms. The prospect of a post-politician career as a lobbyist is just one. Probably most important is the need for bigtime campaign funds. Then the media -which has to hustle big corps for add revenue is compromised as well, and they (largely) get to shape public perceptions.

Icy Siberian caves show tiny warming, may mean big thaw

The scientists studied caves in Siberia and found a 500,000-year record of stalactites and stalagmites, rocks which only grow when water drips and so show periods when permafrost melted.


In the cave furthest north at 60 degrees latitude, near the Siberian town of Lensk, they discovered that stalactites last grew 400,000 years ago in a naturally warm period.

Okay, so why did they freeze again? That's what we need to know.

Well, over the past 3 million years or so, the Earth has mostly experienced Ice Age conditions. There are short periods of warming between longer periods of ice, the usual explanation is the Milankovitch orbital cycles. The last warm period like the one we now enjoy was during the Eemian, roughly 120k to 130k yr BP. It appears from the report that melting had previously been found to have occurred in caves further to the south than the one mentioned in the news story, but that the cave at 60o did not produce melting during the interglacials since the ~400k yr BP warm period.

In the report referenced in the news story, the authors conclude:

Using PWP SST as a surrogate for global temperature (20) suggests that increase in global temperatures by 0.5-1.0°C will degrade only non-continuous permafrost in southern Siberia with the Gobi Desert remaining arid. Warming of ~1.5°C (i.e., as in MIS-11) may cause a substantial thaw of continuous permafrost as far north as 60°N, and create wetter conditions in the Gobi Desert. Such warming is therefore expected to dramatically change the environment of continental Asia, and can potentially lead to substantial release of carbon trapped in the permafrost into the atmosphere.

The report is an online pre-publication:

Speleothems Reveal 500,000-Year History of Siberian Permafrost, A. Vaks, O. S. Gutareva, S. F. M. Breitenbach, E. Avirmed, A. J. Mason, A. L. Thomas, A. V. Osinzev, A. M. Kononov, and G. M. Henderson

Science 1228729 Published online 21 February 2013 [DOI:10.1126/science.1228729]

E. Swanson

The degradation of permafrost at 60°N during MIS-11 allows an as-sessment of the warming required globally to cause such extensive change in the permafrost boundary. There is significant evidence that MIS-11 was the warmest of recent interglacials, including the presence of boreal forest on South Greenland at that time (16), the absence of icerafted debris in the North Atlantic (17), increased sea levels (18), and higher sea-surface temperatures (SST) in the tropical Pacific (19–21). Mg/Ca reconstructions (20, 21) indicate that SST of the Pacific Warm Pool (PWP) reached >30°C in early MIS-11, compared to 29.5°C in MIS-5.5 and ~28.5°C during the pre-industrial Late Holocene (Fig. 2D). This tropical heat was transported poleward (22) and there is evidence of unusual warmth in Siberia during MIS-11, evidenced by the high fraction of biogenic silica in the sediments of Lake Baikal (23) (Fig. 2C) and high spruce pollen content in Lake El’gygytgyn, suggesting local temperatures 4-5°C above present (24). When PWP temperatures reach 30°C this appears to cause more pronounced warming of northern continents, and lead to significant northward migration of the permafrost boundary.

MIS-11 appears to have been warmer and wetter in Northern Asia that the current climate, and somewhat more hospitable.

See also Climate in continental interior Asia during the longest interglacial of the past 500 000 years: the new MIS 11 records from Lake Baikal, SE Siberia

Okay, so why did they freeze again? That's what we need to know.

The Earth tilts and wobbles as it moves around the Sun. Then you have the effect of other objects gravity.

And the Sun has variable output due to its changing composition.

Then you have things like interstellar dust clouds the planet could have drifted through.

The "Ice age starting in the 1980" books of the 1970's used old patterns of orbits to come to that conclusion as there appears to be combinations of the variable Sun output AND Earths orbital condition that can bring on warmth and cooling.

Novoportovskoye will boost Arctic oil shipping

During all the recent furor about Shell's drilling in the US Beaufort and Chukchi, people tended to forget/ignore what is happening around the rest of the Arctic. Even if Shell is delayed or ultimately blocked in Alaskan waters, activity continues on the Russian side of the Arctic Ocean.

The Novoportovskoye field holds 220 million tons of extractable oil ....... The nearby terminal at Cape Kamenny in the Ob Bay is to be ready already in 2014, while field production launch is scheduled for 2015.

When ready, the Novoportovskoye field will result in a major increase in the level of oil shipments in Russian Arctic waters. All the oil is to be shipped out along the Northern Sea Route with the help of icebreakers.

Friends of mine who have worked over there don't paint a very good picture of the Russian's concern with environmental and safety issues. I'm wondering if Greenpeace will send their ship over to monitor the Russian activites?

"Is it too much to hope that even some catastrophists and peak-oil cultists will find it impossible to ignore the latest numbers?" @ top.

Is it too much to hope these clowns could be forced to watch Dr. Bartlett's videos on humanity's failure to understand exponential growth?
Dr. Bartlett: now there was a real cult leader!

Guys still around, although he's 90.

was is :-)

However, it seems pretty clear that Smil not very deep in the peak oil discussion, based on his points in his article. My recent article addressed his points (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-post-the-future-of-ene...), and EIA and IEA projections, specifically, and I suggest that they might all be wrong for the following key reasons: 1) decline rates for unconventional fields are extremely high, suggesting that there simply isn't enough resource available to make up for these declines (the Red Queen Effect); 2) energy content of unconventional oil is far lower than conventional so Smil's numbers don't reflect this at all (the EROEI problem); 3) net global oil exports is the real issue for massive importers like the US and current trends suggest that exports may decline to zero or near zero in a couple of decades (the net exports problem). Once he and others address these issues, I'll feel a bit more comfortable.

Smil also fails to discuss prices at all in his article. While he accurately touts an increase in production from 2001 to 2011 that is fairly impressive, and contra many Peak Oil claims, he fails to acknowledge that we've been a fairly narrow plateau since 2004 (within about 6%) and that prices have skyrocketed since that time. It's very hard, in light of these facts, not to acknowledge that we're in a totally new era for oil: the easy oil is gone. That's very clear, and he acknowledges this, but then suggests that conventional and unconventional categories are artificial. Yes... but, the point of this distinction is cost - it's way more expensive to produce unconventional. Which is why we're at record prices for oil and gasoline prices, even in a bad global economy.

All in all, I don't find his article very convincing or comforting.

Yes, besides the "lies, damn lies and statistics" of saying things rose from 2001 to 2011 but ignoring the shape of the rise (plateau since 2005), pretty much all the growth is tar sands, NGLs and "other" (i.e. biofuels).

from: http://www.graphoilogy.com/2012/03/world-production-update.html

Where Smil really lost me was:

But the IEA also says that the world has already reached the peak of conventional oil extraction and that the continuing rise in output is now due only to rising recovery of unconventional sources including extra heavy oil, oil sands, and gas converted to liquids. But that conclusion rests on accepting an arbitrary divide between the two categories.

His conclusion rests on the arbitrary notion that some economist can re-define geologists' definitions.

And, n.b., not clear he isn't clear that "natural gas liquids" are not the same as "gas converted to liquids".

Very disappointing, but what would be expected from a polemic for the AEI?

In looking for his critics, 1st result is: Oct 2010, a review of his "Energy Myths and Realities" on TOD
Next is this:
To heck with peak oil and climate change, beware the (overdue) pandemic.

It doesn't get much better than this

" The discovery of virtually unlimited supplies of natural gas comes at a convenient time"
"talk of exports can be heard from Wyoming to Houston"
"An oil- and gas-rich America will care less about ruckuses in the Middle East"


Sure. Sometimes I doubt if any part of the set of figures is accurate, especially regarding the actual reserves of oil. We know for sure that oil sands and hard-to-get offshore oil production has been expanded significantly recently, meaning that the easy oil has been found already. We know that demand for oil is increasing because China is rolling out 19 million vehicles and 20 million motorcycles a year and has increased its oil refining capacity to 15 mb / day, and India is starting to follow them ... so we know gasoline and diesel is going to get much more expensive in the next ten years than the normal inflation rate - particularly in Europe.

Leaking tanks are Hanford nuke site's latest woe


"...latest woe". It's been happening for years:

As of 2008, most of the liquid waste has been transferred to more secure double-shelled tanks; however, 2.8 million U.S. gallons (10,600 m3) of liquid waste, together with 27 million U.S. gallons (100,000 m3) of salt cake and sludge, remains in the single-shelled tanks.[5] That waste was originally scheduled to be removed by 2018. The revised deadline is 2040.[60] Nearby aquifers contain an estimated 270 billion U.S. gallons (1 billion m3) of contaminated groundwater as a result of the leaks.[63] As of 2008, 1 million U.S. gallons (4,000 m3) of highly radioactive waste is traveling through the groundwater toward the Columbia River. This waste is expected to reach the river in 12 to 50 years if cleanup does not proceed on schedule.[5] The site also includes 25 million cubic feet (710,000 m3) of solid radioactive waste.[63]


Not sure why it's suddenly become such an issue. I suppose, when the process becomes too severe to ignore, folks finally wake up to reality, realising that it's yet one more hole we'll have to throw money into. This sort of thing has become epidemical; hence my doomer side. We simply won't be able to mitigate this vast collective mess we've created. Goes to scale...