Drumbeat: April 1, 2013

How the US oil, gas boom could shake up global order

Without fanfare, China passed the United States in December to become the world's leading importer of oil – the first time in nearly 40 years that the U.S. didn’t own that dubious distinction. That same month, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania together produced 1.5 million barrels of oil a day -- more than Iran exported.

As those data points demonstrate, a dramatic shift is occurring in how energy is being produced and consumed around the world – one that could lead to far-reaching changes in the geopolitical order.

U.S. policy makers, intelligence analysts and other experts are beginning to grapple with the ramifications of such a change, which could bring with it both great benefits for the U.S. and potentially dangerous consequences, including the risk of upheaval in countries and regions heavily dependent on oil exports.

But many experts say the U.S. would be the big winner, in position to reshape its foreign policy and boost its global influence.

Why Abundant Oil Hasn't Cut Gasoline Prices

For the first time since 1995, the U.S. will likely produce more oil than it imports. That’s great for the country’s trade balance, but the benefits of all that cheap domestic crude still haven’t shown up at the one place it matters most: the gas station. Even as fuel consumption has fallen to 16 percent below its 2007 peak, gasoline remains about a dollar higher than the average price over the past decade. So far this year, gasoline prices have risen 11 percent nationwide, to $3.65 a gallon.

IOC to cut petrol prices by a rupee from Tuesday

REUTERS - Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS), the country's biggest refiner, will cut petrol prices by a rupee from Tuesday as global prices of the fuel have declined and the rupee has marginally strengthened against the dollar, it said in a statement.

No April Fooling - McClendon Finally Gone From Chesapeake Energy

It’s not an April Fools gag. Aubrey McClendon really is gone from Chesapeake Energy. In a tear-choked farewell speech to the gathered faithful on Saturday, McClendon assured employees that the company he founded would survive his departure.

Hess says it will sell Russia business to Lukoil for $1.8B as asset sales continue

NEW YORK — Hess Corp. is selling its Russian oil production business to Lukoil for $1.8 billion as it continues to sell off assets.

Hess says it agreed to sell the Samara-Nafta division to OAO Lukoil, the second-largest oil company in Russia. Samara-Nafta produces 50,000 barrels of oil a day in the Volga-Urals region.

Schlumberger gets its pay day in Venezuela

Schlumberger Ltd. is wrangling a new payment agreement with Venezuela’s state-controlled oil and gas firm PDVSA and it expects to ramp up activity in the country.

Schlumberger’s Chief Executive Paal Kibsgaard said in a short statement on the company’s website that collections in the oil-rich country “have improved to the point we will recognize all revenue” from its first quarter after meetings with PDVSA.

Pipeline or Not, Lots of Canadian Crude Oil is Headed to the US

Environmentalists mistakenly think that blocking the Keystone pipeline will prevent crude oil, produced from Canada’s oil sands, from being extracted and from being conveyed into the US to be refined into gasoline, asphalt, and other products that are important to the transportation and manufacturing sectors. Their ultimate goal is to stop all development of the Canadian resource.

The oil spilled, as a result of a train derailment on Tuesday, highlights their misguided efforts.

Oil Industry Rebuffed by Top Court on Air-Quality Rules

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an oil-industry challenge to new clean-air standards that the Environmental Protection Agency says will improve air quality around the nation’s busiest roadways.

TEPCO warns more cuts needed to stay afloat

Tokyo: Tokyo Electric Power said Monday it must cut $1.1 billion more in annual costs to stay afloat as the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant faces huge compensation and clean-up costs. The sprawling utility, known as TEPCO, made the comments in a business operations report, with the extra cuts of 100 billion yen coming on top of plans to shrink its expenses by 3.36-trillion-yen through to 2021.

"We will carry out these cost reductions to ensure our survival and strengthen our financial position," the company said in a statement. In a bid to reach its goal, TEPCO said it had overhauled the organisation of its business and would review procurement as fuel costs soar after Japan shut down its nuclear reactors in the wake of the atomic crisis two years ago.

Exelon Falls From Green Favor as Chief Fights Wind Aid

Exelon Corp. left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009 over the group’s opposition to a climate- change bill, declaring the “carbon-based free lunch” was over.

The company had a change of heart and rejoined the nation’s largest business lobby a few months ago.

Saudi oil export demand to grow in coming months - Naimi

"It is thanks to Asian demand and GCC energy supplies that our region's combined GDP is at an historic high - and that economic growth remains strong," he said, pointing to population growth as a firm driver for future demand.

OPEC oil producers have played down the potential threat of a surge in North American shale oil production over the last few years, arguing that more supplies are good for price stability.

"I, for one, welcome all new energy sources to the market. I don't think anyone should fear new supplies when set against increasing global demand," Naimi said, according to a copy of his speech in Doha sent to the media.

"More companies and nations are competing for their slice of the energy pie. That's true. But the pie is getting bigger and there is enough to go around."

WTI Slides From Six-Week High; Exxon Shuts Crude Pipeline

West Texas Intermediate crude slid from the highest close in six weeks, snapping its longest rally this year. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) shut a pipeline that carries oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Futures dropped as much as 0.8 percent after five days of gains through March 28 took last quarter’s advance to 5.9 percent. The Pegasus pipeline, shut March 29 after a leak in Arkansas, will need to be excavated as Exxon determines what caused the breach, a spokeswoman said. WTI prices surged last week as U.S. economic growth beat forecasts, sending U.S. equities to a record March 28.

“U.S. crude inventories are at a fairly high level right now, and the Pegasus pipeline shutdown will further increase pressure,” Shi Yan, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. in Shanghai, said in a phone interview. “Prices will stabilize or weaken in the longer term as demand declines gradually.”

U.S. January Gas Output Falls to 10-Month Low, EIA Data Show

U.S. natural gas production in the lower 48 states fell in January to the lowest level since March 2012 as gas-plant maintenance and frigid weather hampered output, a government report today showed.

Production in the lower 48 states slid 0.9 percent to 72.1 billion cubic feet a day from a revised 72.77 billion in December, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said in the monthly EIA-914 report. Output was down 0.8 percent in January from a year earlier.

Suncor Goes Direct to Refiners For Profit Boost

Suncor Energy Inc.’s decision to scrap an C$11.6 billion ($11.4 billion) oil-sands plant shows Canadian producers are betting they can boost shareholder returns by shipping crude directly to refineries instead of investing in costly processing.

Suncor, Canada’s largest energy company, abandoned plans last week with partner Total SA to build the Voyageur upgrader that would have converted heavy bitumen to a synthetic light crude, amid rising competition from U.S. oil. Paris-based Total instead outlined plans to focus on heavy-oil production from its proposed Fort Hills and Joslyn oil-sands developments, spending C$15 billion on Canadian energy projects through 2020.

Israel Starts Tamar Gas Production

Israel started gas production at the Tamar offshore field in an effort to put the country on the road to energy independence and save a projected 1 billion shekels ($274 million) a month, according to the government.

The gas was expected to reach Israel’s port city of Ashdod by afternoon today, the Energy and Water Ministry said.

Opportunities for world-class petroleum contracts in the Middle East

The Second World War was drawing near, Sigmund Freud was still alive, space travel and nuclear power were just science fiction, and oil sold for US$1 per barrel, when Sheikh Shakhbut of Abu Dhabi signed a concession agreement with Petroleum Development Trucial Coast.

That concession, signed in 1939 - now Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) - will expire shortly. The world can change unimaginably during the long lives of oil contracts. Now the balance of power in the never-ending tussle between oil-rich countries and petroleum companies may be shifting again - and Middle East governments need to take heed.

Twin boost for Dana Gas recovery

Dana Gas's financial health took another step towards recovery after the company announced it had received further payments for its natural gas in Egypt and the Kurdish region of Iraq, and that the refinancing of a US$920 million (Dh3.37 billion) Islamic bond was nearing completion.

The Sharjah-based gas producer said yesterday it had received at total of $73.7m from Egypt's government and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) since the beginning of the year, and that its shareholders and creditors would sign off the refinancing of its sukuk in the second quarter.

Gastar in acquisition deal with Chesapeake Energy

HOUSTON (AP) -- Gastar Exploration Ltd. is buying proven reserves and undeveloped leasehold interests in Oklahoma from Chesapeake Energy Corp. for $75.2 million.

The oil and natural gas company also agreed to repurchase Chesapeake's shares of its stock for $9.8 million and to settle all litigation between the companies.

The Rising Power of North Africa’s Jihadists Rattles Algeria

One wet, chilly February morning, Ali Zaoui climbed into his car in Algeria’s capital, drove 300 miles south into the desert, and knocked on the door of a three-bedroom house in the oasis city of Ghardaïa. Zaoui was well known to the occupants. They were the parents of the then most wanted man in North Africa, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Islamist commander who had masterminded the hostage siege in January at a natural-gas plant in his native Algeria. The attack resulted in the deaths of 38 foreigners, including managers and specialists of Western oil companies. It was Algeria’s worst terrorist attack in years, and the worst ever for the global oil industry, anywhere. Zaoui, a veteran anti-terror fighter for Algeria’s security services, had spent years coaxing armed militants to surrender under an amnesty program and had come to know Belmokhtar’s parents well over five years of trying to persuade one of Algeria’s most fearsome jihadists to surrender. He never had won over Belmokhtar. But Zaoui thought they had an understanding: Don’t target Algeria.

That deal was now dead. Zaoui was fuming. “I told his mother, ‘Tell him to give up, or he will die, and we will send you his body,’” he says, sitting in a café in Algiers on his return, slumped by fatigue after his long journey. “He did not respect our truce.”

Suicide attack kills at least 9 in Iraq, 3 die in shootings

Baghdad (CNN) -- A suicide bomber drove an oil tanker into a police station in central Tikrit on Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding 20 others, an official with Iraq's interior ministry said.

Scots oil workers safe after Iraqi siege ends

AN ARMED siege at an oil rig in northern Iraq involving at least three Scottish oil workers has ended peacefully, it was confirmed today.

An estimated 120 oil workers at a mobile exploration rig operating in a remote area of Kurdistan, near the border with Turkey, had been trapped inside their compound since Friday when a heavily armed gang from a local village stormed their compound, blocked access to the rig and demanded a ransom of $1 million.

Fracking Debut Nears in Boost to Reliance, ONGC: Corporate India

India will allow explorers including Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and Reliance Industries Ltd. to produce shale oil and gas for the first time as Asia’s second-biggest energy consumer seeks to cut reliance on imports.

Under a new policy aimed at boosting domestic output of fossil fuels, companies will be allowed to extract oil and gas from shale rocks in more than 250 blocks the government has already given out, said Vivek Rae, the top civil servant in the oil ministry. The new rules will allow ONGC, the nation’s biggest, to start shale output almost immediately and in “substantial quantity” in about three years, Chairman Sudhir Vasudeva said.

Gulf Coast refineries good place for Canadian crude, IHS analysts say

WASHINGTON — Environmentalists opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline say it would transport dirty Canadian crude through the heartland of America, only so it can be refined on the Gulf Coast.

But that's not a bad thing, according to a new study from the energy analysts at IHS CERA.

In a report released late Wednesday, the analysts conclude that there's a bigger economic boost from processing the raw bitumen harvested from Canada's oil sands on the Gulf Coast, instead of first upgrading it into lighter synthetic crude oil locally.

Exxon cleans up Arkansas oil spill; Keystone plan assailed

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil on Sunday continued cleanup of a pipeline spill that spewed thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude in Arkansas as opponents of oil sands development latched on to the incident to attack plans to build the Keystone XL line.

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said on Sunday that crews had yet to excavate the area around the pipeline breach, a needed step before the company can estimate how long repairs will take and when the line might restart.

'Critical information missing' from LNG approvals

The environmental assessment process for two of Australia's biggest coal seam gas projects was a "farce", a former Queensland bureaucrat has claimed.

Senior environmental specialist Simone Marsh was part of the Queensland Government team that approved Santos's $18 billion and Queensland Gas Company's $20 billion LNG projects in 2010.

Obama’s Energy Pick Discloses Extent of Industry Ties

Ernest Moniz, President Barack Obama’s nominee for energy secretary, performed consulting work last year for General Electric Co, BP Plc, and Riverstone Equity Partners LP, according to his financial disclosure forms.

Moniz, 68, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, serves on the boards of directors of American Science & Engineering Inc., which makes detection equipment used at ports, and ICF International Inc., a consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia, that reported in February that federal contracts made up 58 percent of its fourth quarter revenue.

Obama's point man on greening the government

WASHINGTON — Saying the federal government should "lead by example," President Obama has ordered federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 28% by 2020. The man he put in charge of that effort a year ago is Jonathan Powers, a 34-year-old Gulf War veteran. Powers, who holds the office of Federal Environmental Executive, spoke with USA TODAY at his office across from the White House about what his military experience taught him, telecommuting, reducing the government vehicle fleet and solar panels on the White House.

Tesla expects its first-ever profit

Tesla Motors is expecting to report its first-ever quarterly profit after sales of its all-electric Model S exceeded expectations.

Can You Have Too Much Solar Energy?

The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried. For two decades, they’ve been forced to facilitate and finance their competition, helping turn customers into producers. Soon, rooftop solar and other small-scale, locally owned renewables could upset the market for coal and nuclear power.

Here’s why that’s a problem: Renewable energy sources like wind and solar generate power intermittently, dependent on the sun or fickle breezes. Until researchers can find a way to store energy at a large scale, coal and nuclear plants—which can’t simply be switched on and off at will—must be kept running to guarantee a steady stream of electricity when the sun isn’t shining.

That means overproduction of power during daylight hours, as the country’s ample solar energy floods onto the grid along with electricity produced by power plants. Power companies traditionally charge more during the day, when offices are full and manufacturing plants are in full swing, so the glut of daytime solar power reduces their profit. The proliferation of solar panels on homes also takes high-margin residential customers off the grid at peak hours. And the energy surplus has driven prices for traditional coal and nuclear power down, even as renewables are still guaranteed more-than-competitive rates. As power companies try to pass the costs to consumers in the form of higher bills, that just encourages more people to put solar panels on their roofs.

Marubeni Targets National Park in Japan for Geothermal

Marubeni Corp., the biggest investor in electricity generation among Japan’s trading houses, is working on how to revive the geothermal industry and tap heat that powers volcanos as an alternative to nuclear reactors.

The effort would draw pools of underground heat with a potential of double the current capacity of geothermal projects operating worldwide. That would help Japan shift away from atomic reactors that provided 30 percent of the nation’s power before the accident in Fukushima two years ago.

Drought has stranglehold on West

The extended drought continues to choke the Western half of the country, with water supply concerns rising in New Mexico and Texas as anxiety about another bone-dry summer is raised. This week, the dryness grew worse in Texas while expanding into California, Montana, and Oregon, so that most of the land west of the Mississippi River was under some form of drought conditions, according to Thursday’s update to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Conditions in the Great Plains remain dire: parts of eastern Texas are facing rainfall shortages on the order of 8-16 inches. Reservoir levels in Donley County, in the Texas Panhandle, were 12 inches below normal. Cimarron County, Okla., has gone 100 consecutive days with less than a quarter inch of rainfall. Wichita Falls, Texas, a city of about 100,000, has been added to the state’s list of communities that may run out of water within 180 days, although city managers don’t think that is likely. According to reporting by the Texas Tribune, Wichita Falls will likely enact unprecedented water restrictions by the end of the summer, which would ban the filling of swimming pools, restrict car-washing businesses, and affect industrial water users.

Groundbreaking American energy revolution

Here’s a snapshot of the American energy revolution in the Eagle Ford: Six big men in their late 20s — five Hispanics and one black — dressed in the blue-and-white coveralls of Noble Drilling Co. lining up at the Dairy Queen in Leal, Texas, for a midafternoon break. They are very tired because they’ve had a lot of overtime but surprisingly polite and tolerant to a stranger’s questions. Their answers to “What does all this mean to you?” sounds like the American Dream: A chance to own a home and not be a renter, a new pickup truck, clothes for their daughters and video games for their sons. After that, who knows? A bass boat maybe?

But havoc is on the horizon. President Obama is reportedly thinking of requiring all federal agencies to consider climate change before approving any major projects — not just taxpayer-funded — but anything requiring a federal license or permit. Since what affects climate change is pretty much in the eye of the beholder, an Obama executive order along these lines would have two immediate consequences. First, it would slow down every pipeline, every industrial plant, every port expansion, every refinery, every highway, every license, every permit, to the point of delaying them for years. Second, it would give the environmental activist groups standing to challenge every decision in court, bringing the entire process to a complete halt. When National Association of Manufacturers Vice President Ross Eisenberg tells Bloomberg News this prospect “has got us very freaked out,” he’s not exaggerating.

High-Tech Means of Production Belies the Nostalgic Image of Maple Syrup

Forty years ago, Mr. Morse would snowshoe into the forest with his father to collect sap from galvanized buckets and load them onto a tractor. The farm has not changed much since then, but the winters have. So has the maple syrup ritual itself.

Scientists say the tapping season — the narrow window of freezing nights and daytime temperatures over 40 degrees needed to convert starch to sugar and get sap flowing — is on average five days shorter than it was 50 years ago. But technology developed over the past decade and improved in recent years offers maple farmers like Mr. Morse a way to offset the effects of climate change with high-tech tactics that are far from natural.

Cool It: Is the Internet Too Hot for Data Centers to Handle?

The Internet may not consume nearly as much environmentally unfriendly fossil fuel as airplanes or automobiles, but the growth of cloud-based services offered by Apple, Netflix and others is forcing data centers to provide greater speed and more storage capacity. All of this size and speed comes at a price. Data centers generate a lot of heat that has to be whisked away by power-hungry air and liquid-cooling systems to keep the Internet’s engines from burning themselves out.

Study shows Shakespeare as ruthless businessman

The charge sheet against Shakespeare was not entirely unknown, though it may come as shock to some literature lovers. But the authors argue that modern readers and scholars are out of touch with the harsh realities the writer and his contemporaries faced.

He lived and wrote in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, during a period known as the "Little Ice Age," when unusual cold and heavy rain caused poor harvests and food shortages.

"I think now we have a rather rarefied idea of writers and artists as people who are disconnected from the everyday concerns of their contemporaries," Archer said. "But for most writers for most of history, hunger has been a major concern — and it has been as creatively energizing as any other force."

She argues that knowledge of the era's food insecurity can cast new light on Shakespeare's plays, including "Coriolanus," which is set in an ancient Rome wracked by famine. The food protests in the play can be seen to echo the real-life 1607 uprising of peasants in the English Midlands, where Shakespeare lived.

Global warming means seas freeze more off Antarctica - study

OSLO (Reuters) - Global warming is expanding the extent of sea ice around Antarctica in winter in a paradoxical shift caused by cold plumes of summer melt water that re-freeze fast when temperatures drop, a study showed on Sunday.

An increasing summer thaw of ice on the edges of Antarctica, twinned with less than expected snowfall on the frozen continent, is also adding slightly to sea level rise in a threat to low-lying areas around the world, it said.

Recent Warming Is Still Unprecedented In Speed, Scale And Cause: A Marcott Et Al. FAQ

The main, stunning conclusion we can draw from the paper is that the rate of warming since 1900 is 50 times greater than the rate of cooling in the previous 5000 years, which undermines the whole notion of adaptation.

But the study also means the famous “Hockey Stick” graph is correct (and indeed too optimistic — even by mid-century, the hockey stick actually looks more like a brick wall for humanity, as the figure shows).

To have and have not (food & fuel resources)

I just returned from a trip to West Central Texas, and it is pretty incredible what is happening in the Oil Patch in West Texas, and presumably virtually the entire Mid-continent, between the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Oil activity is definitely having a ripple effect through the Mid-continent Oil Patches--booming residential and commercial construction, rising tax revenues and high salaries. I heard about a 25 year old supervisor on a wireline logging truck who is making $180,000 per year. Starting salaries for newly graduated petroleum engineers are reportedly around $120,000, with truck drivers being offered similar amounts.

In the “Wolfberry Play,” and in a developing shale play, landowners who might have been able to sell their land (surface and minerals) for a (low) few hundred dollars per acre a few years ago are leasing their oil and gas rights for thousands of dollars per acre.

A developer is planning to build the seventh highest building in Texas in Midland:

53 Story Office Tower Planned For Midland:

Regarding farmland prices, some numbers:

Farmland prices: Is the bubble about to burst?

In Iowa, where rich soil, favorable weather and ethanol and livestock production help foster demand for limited growing space, farmland values have soared 90 percent since 2009. An acre of farmland that a decade ago sold for an average of $2,275 now goes for $8,700, according to Mike Duffy, an economist at Iowa State University who watches land prices.

It culminated last October when an 80-acre parcel near Boyden in Sioux County, some of the most fertile ground in the Corn Belt, sold for a record $21,900 per acre.

It seems to me that we are seeing something of a bifurcated economy, between the food & fuel producing areas, which are doing well, and the non-food and fuel producing areas, which are not doing quite so well.

Of course, this was the crux of my ELP Plan advice from six years ago: “Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy.”


However, the problem I foresee is that the food & fuel producers can’t support the entire economy, and
I would expect to see increasing levels of resentment against the food & fuel producers, especially given high gasoline prices. But whatever happens, in my opinion it is better to be a net food and energy producer (or the indirect beneficiary of net food & energy producers), rather than a net food and energy consumer.

Slight clarification:

But whatever happens, in my opinion it is better to be a net food or net energy producer (or the indirect beneficiary of net food & energy producers), rather than a net food and net energy consumer.

Regarding indirect beneficiaries of food and energy production, over the weekend I visited with a friend of mine who I hadn't seen for several years. He is a local jeweler, specializing in "Concho Pearls," a local fresh water pearl, with a purple tint. Last time I talked to him, he had a small two person store. His new store is about five times the size of the old, with several employees, and he said business is absolutely booming.

Don't the mussels that produce freshwater Concho Pearls need.... water?

Pearl production is down because of low water levels. I frequently quote the late, great Elmer Kelton, who said that "West Texas is in a state of permanent drought, broken occasionally by rainfall." I think that this is really true of the entire American Southwest, and in my opinion the entire American Southwest should implement "Santa Fe (New Mexico)" rules, where ornamental lawns are banned. I believe that you can only have rock gardens and Xeriscapes in Santa Fe.

In most of water-poor Tucson, green lawns are frowned upon. In Winterhaven, they're required.


... Winterhaven, the quaint but quirky north-central Tucson neighborhood that is as famous for its enchanting Christmas lights as it is for its mandatory water waste.

I'm getting the impression that business is booming all over the country, not just in oil country. There have been some articles recently suggesting that the U.S. economy is benefiting from the trouble in Europe and Asia.

I think the U.S. economy is off the "bumpy plateau" and solidly growing. Who knows how long it will last, but I think we're really out of the recession.

I was looking at some old threads from ca. 2008 yesterday. So many of us (myself included) thought the recession would be permanent, and growth would never return.

I now think that's wrong. It's all a lot more complicated than we imagined. Niels Bohr was right: Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

"I'm getting the impression that business is booming all over the country..."

That's the impression 'they' hope to give,, after pumping a few $trillion into the economy and leaving interest rates at near zero for several years. It's a bit like fracking; boosts productivity, near-term, but the eventual decline can be severe. The underlying fundamentals haven't changed: Too many claims on too little real capital.

I agree the fundamentals haven't changed, but the situation on the street has. People who were worried about mortgage payments a couple of years ago are now booking cruises. Traffic congestion is increasing, those empty strip malls are filling up, and people who were postponing buying houses, getting married, and having kids are doing those things.

I suspect the free money isn't going to be a problem as long as it's worse in Europe. Eventually, it will come home to roost, but it might not be in any time we have to worry about.

"I agree the fundamentals haven't changed, but the situation on the street has."

I concur: Wages stink at America's most common jobs

Workers in seven of the 10 largest occupations typically earn less than $30,000 a year, according to new data published Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's a far cry from the nation's average annual pay of $45,790....

...Part of this decline stems from a disappearance of middle-class jobs and an explosion of lower-paying ones. Some 58% of the jobs created during the recovery have been low-wage positions, according to a 2012 report by the National Employment Law Project. These low-wage jobs had a median hourly wage of $13.83 or less.

I suppose this new normal is good for some, but can't see how an economy can truly recover when the 'backbone of the economy', the middle class, has declining spending power; essentially 'middle class' only in their minds. Growth is based on having a surplus in both resources and income. This (minor) growth spurt is an illusion, collectively, based on illusory finance; the performance-enhancing drugs of debt and accellerated extraction of resources. History tells us how this almost invariably plays out. Of course, as Americans, we're exceptional ;-/

I think that's largely become the new normal. Those without outstanding skills, can't find "living-wage" jobs. That also includes most of those who have entered the looking for employment roles since the GFC hit. So many are having to accept crummy bottom of the ladder jobs(if only there was a ladder to climb onto).

Three of my most favorite, unique, small businesses closed last year (pizza, coffee, gym). Clearly, we not in the corn & oil belt hereabouts. We in 'da 'should built solar in the '70's, but everyone as can afford it sure puttin it on their own places fast' belt. Also in the 'sure seen alota bikes with cargo on em as late' place (tower computer, 3 bags soil, etc...weather ain't the only thing warming up, but the exponents are still small).


Hate to disagree with the rosey assumptions; or is this an April Fools posting?

Only 14 of 100 large cities now have even as many jobs as they had in 2008 (per CNN this morning), and those have many more workers than in 2008, so we know that unemployment statistics are a bunch of hooey. Overall there are 3 Million fewer jobs today than there were when the 'Recession" began. And, with growth of less than 1% in population, there are still more than 5 million more workers, net, looking for jobs. And that is just in the US of A.

Home prices are being bid up by the wealthy who have done well; middle income folks, even those who are not equalling the wealthy in income growth, are trying to keep up. The rest of the people are not participating at all... they are either renting, or living in the car. The uptick in housing, IMO at least, will be temporary.

The enormous amount of printed 'wealth' created by the Fed in order to keep interest rates low are being systematically destroyed by bankruptcy filings and simple defaults by debtors. Growth in wealth at the top is coming from the bottom, as the worst reverse Robin Hood society in history goes into overdrive.

Talk to a few people at random, and you may find as I have that their general mood is better described as fatalistic, and not optimistic. Folks are going along with the B.S., but most know that is what it is. They are hoping against hope that, if there is a "buck to be made" they might be able to (allowed to) make one. The most common retirement plan for the proles is "win the Lottery." A sad thing...


How typical! And symptomatic. One person, who uses money he owed for child support, benefits as he wins all that money. As a society, we suck.


And, the economy is the rosiest part of the overall picture. Prospects for the future of the economy are not great, but compared to prospects for the ecology, they are wonderful.



Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, McAllen, Dallas and Houston all made the list, along with Oklahoma City, another energy town. The other cities on the list of 14 are: Omaha, Neb., Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Calif., Knoxville, Tenn., Washington and Charleston, S.C.

Nationally, there were 3 fewer million jobs in February, or 2% less than when employment peaked in January 2008.

I am not making this stuff up!

If your comment was caught in the spam filter, don't edit it once it's released. That will put it back in the spam corral. Reply instead.

Saying the economy is improving is not the same thing as saying it's as good as it was before the recession.

Many of us, back in 2008, though the economy would continue shrinking...for years, if not forever.

I think it's pretty clear now that that is not happening.

I think it is more a matter of preceptions, Leanan. If I have a tire that is leaking air, and by attaching a high-volume air pump am able to get it up 1 psi, it would be true that it was no longer deflating. OTOH, it would still be leaking air; perhaps at a faster pace than before.

If the Fed ever stopped stimulus; if they ever raised interest rates; what then would happen?

To me, at least, recession means that the economy is "leaking air." The economy may not seem to be 'shrinking', but the cost for maintaining that fiction is going to be high.

Meanwhile, as always, there is a buck to be made I guess.


I think it might continue a lot longer than the anti-fed contingent believes.

Krugman said about Stockman' warnings:

“We’ve been doomed, yes doomed, ever since FDR took us off the gold standard and introduced unemployment insurance. What about those 80 years of non-doom? Just a series of lucky accidents. Now we’re really doomed. I mean it!”

Fundamentals may win out in the end, but it can take a long time. The pound sterling remained the world's reserve currency for something like 60 years after the U.S. economy outgrew the British economy.

Every prior example occured in an environment of increasing resource extraction and increasing net energy available to developed societies. If we are truely reaching peak resources, even on a plateau, what now? How much inertia can our previous exploits provide?

I don't know, but the argument could be made that that will increase our advantage. We already have our infrastructure built.

A lot of finance types think the center of gravity will move to Asia. Jim Rogers does; that's why he moved to Singapore. Even though he believes in resource constraints. As I recall, Stoneleigh also thinks China will be ascendant, though not until after a good deal of unpleasantness. Nate, OTOH, doesn't think there are enough resources available for China to become the new Wall St.

"We already have our infrastructure built."

An infrastructure we've mostly built on the cheap. If'n I recall correctly - the original Interstate had a design life of 50 years (and was built for less and lighter traffic at that limit). The idea was that we'd be so damned rich in 50 years we could just come back and re-do it all better (in gold bricks one would imagine). See how swimmingly that's working out. New roads seem to be built to even lower standards...throw down some gravel, spray some tar over it, voila! Might fall apart after 5 years - but quit yer bellyachin' and get out of the way of progress!

Somewhere along the way we started privatizing the electrical grid - "deregulation" the glory of the free market! Turns out that profit and resilience are not exactly coupled...the for-profit energy companies have been extracting wealth out of the system at the cost of maintenance and upgrading. We're told, anyway, that it cannot accommodate distributed renewable energy and to accommodate it will cost a fortune.

I would consider housing as infrastructure - people need places to live, so what have we built? "Trailers"/"Mobile homes" with about a 30 year lifespan before they turn to mush and usually poorly insulated. Houses that if left untended for any length of time implode on themselves. Large, drafty houses which require tremendous amounts of energy to heat and cool and have impressively high vampire loads. Where are they located? Far flung and requiring motorized transport to access.

Transportation infrastructure - since most vehicles will last about 15 years we have...lots of trucks used as cars. Lots of large cars, muscle cars, luxury sedans. If we stopped cold, right now - we'd still carry a gas-guzzling burden for 15 years. There are so many models of proper small car in Europe and they don't even make it to our shores. We don't even have the inkling of what I consider the most viable alternative "fuel" infrastructure - a national EV charge station grid. Rail infrastructure is sorely lacking. We have LOTS of airports!

So what about our already-built, crumbling, short-lived, under-maintained, overworked, unaccommodating, energy hog infrastructure gives us an advantage?

I'm the one who first posted here about the design life of the Interstate system. I understand the issues.

The comment I was replying to was about resource extraction. I was thinking about what Matt Simmons and other oil industry types have said, about the billions or trillions of dollars of infrastructure we've built to extract and transport oil. Built-in inertia, if you will.

Look at all the infrastructure that has been built in China. It is amazing. Where did they get the money to do that? Well, They did it with our money. Everything we buy here is made in China so our money goes to China and it doesn't come back. We have had a large trade deficit with China for many years. Also we have built a lot of infrastructure in Iraq and Afganistan so there isn't much money available to maintain or build infrastructure at home.

There are so many models of proper small car in Europe and they don't even make it to our shores.

Best hopes for standardizing regulations so cars sold in European can be sold in the US.

To me, the only way that survival is possible is if we have a total re-do of our energy infrastructure and paradigm. And, it needs to be done quickly, in order to have sufficient resources to complete the job.

Both Kunstler and Greer feel we have already gone past that point; their differences are more about how fast and how catastrophically the fall will be.

How long can we stay on this plateau? I would guess about 5 years, or so. By that time, the signs will be too unmistakable to be ignored. I hope it will last longer than that. I'd like to still be able to visit my youngest grandchild for his college graduation in 16 or so years.

If I am able to do that, I will be certain to let you know, Ghung.


“We’ve been doomed, yes doomed, ever since FDR took us off the gold standard and introduced unemployment insurance. What about those 80 years of non-doom? Just a series of lucky accidents. Now we’re really doomed. I mean it!”

No accident. Basking in the exorbitant privilege of owning the world`s reserve currency (only because of US military domination of the world which in effect forced other countries to accept the dollar as payment to fund further US debt and trade deficits) certainly helped for 60 of those 80 years. You know, 25% of the worlds resources are (were) consumed by 5% of the world`s population (Americans).

This is all very interesting to me. Here we have a key contributor to TOD saying that things are getting better, that the sky may not be falling after all.

And he is getting serious push back from comments saying "No!! The sky is still falling."

Back in 2008, when Peak Oil was getting serious media coverage, there were writers that call us a "Geek Apocalypse". It is almost like we have such an intellectual investment that we cannot consider any other outcome.

When the tax cuts were expiring, I had predicted that perhaps "capital" might improve, meaning those items that fell under Capital Gains Taxes.

Profit, and hence, value are opinions. Cash is a fact. That is an old accounting axiom. If dividends or interest income are taxed at a lower or the same rate as items covered by Capital Gains, then an investor will say "Show me the money" and invest in lower risk items with fixed, proven, or predictable returns. Mark Cuban said "It is impossible to calculate the value of a corporation that does not pay a dividend."

I had believed that all money flowing into bonds and nowhere else was exactly due to the lower tax rate on interest income. And that once that tax cut was removed then investors would seek to "shelter" in those things covered under capital gains. And it looks as if they have. And it might be causing an uptick.

But our natural assumption as a group is to assume another bubble. Very well could happen.

But the impetus of the rise in both, real estate and stocks, is Capital Gains. So now with a high tax on income, investors are now saying "Oh, no. Don't pay me a dividend, for God Sake, no. Leave it in the value of the stock. Let the stock prices rise, and then I can sell it after a year and take capital gains."

I had thought hiring in Corps might rise if execs needn't fear the pressure of paying that dividend and could possibly concentrate on what corporations do best, grow.

For the past 10 years, stockholders have been saying "Screw that. Pay me first". And now they might be saying, "What a minute. What about that growth thing? Could we try that?"

Inevitably the price of a stock will continue to be calculated as a function of its earnings. But the swings of stock price are going to freak out a longer term investor less, than would a quarterly drop in profits to a dividend demanding stockholder. So maybe Corps are hiring without that Sword of Damocles of quarterly profits and angry investors hanging over their head.

And the same thing goes for real estate. Instead of a bond that returns interest income because of lower income tax rate, now an investor would buy a house, rent it, and take depreciation and expenses against his taxes, and hopefully receive appreciation over time.

I had friend who owned a condo in Houston, he moved as an oil patch guy. He rented the condo out for 425 while his payment was 525. I asked why he just didn't sell it. He said 425 was a point that was break even given tax breaks, and he potentially could receive the appreciation for really doing nothing other than keeping a good tenant in place in a nice condo.

So yes, their could be another bubble, but there very well could be some fundamentals occurring that had been suppressed for so long, both by economics and an artificial constraint of tax cuts that once removed return things back to a more "normal" way.

Our greatest fears of easy money just haven't really come to roost yet. There has been none of the runaway hyperinflation that we all screamed about in 2009. The given definition of inflation is too much money chasing too few goods causes prices to rise. And prices other than things based on oil haven't risen. Wages certainly haven't.

I have been a part of this forum since 2006. And I doubt seriously that most of you didn't buy in as heavily as I did. I truly drank the Kool Aid big time. I shed almost everything, house, furniture, big car, and prepared for the end of the world.

It hasn't come yet. I can remember right when the Bakken came on the radar. And we all said. "It won't be nothing". "It won't last". "It can't make a dent in the big picture". And it did. And "The Peak was 2006" and it wasn't.

One thing that has been shown is a lot more resilience in this system than we gave it credit back 2007-2008.

So don't quick to jump on Leanan. He's been as right in judgement and projections as any of you. And I trust him.

Yes maybe some of us are so invested in doom that we are blind to see otherwise but still look at the fundamentals and I have to say otherwise...I would like nothing more for things to be great and I could get rich and have a great retirement and future for my kids but facts are facts...every time the FED says it is going to cut back the market freaks out...80 BILLION a month on top of everything can't go on forever or can it you tell me how it can. I want to believe too ....USA...USA... USA....

"So don't quick to jump on Leanan. He's been as right in judgement and projections as any of you. And I trust him."


"But the impetus of the rise in both, real estate and stocks, is Capital Gains."

It's a flight to "investments" which are actually still getting some kind of return. Standard, safe investments like CD's are literally getting 0.5% or LESS. Almost nothing. For people who expected 4% or better interest to be able to secure their retirement...it just won't do. So now they're chasing anything that moves and that includes getting back into the stock market (legal gambling) and this money is making it into real estate. This definitely includes large pension funds and retirement accounts.

It has been amazing how well they've managed to keep up appearances. But you also have to realize that we've also just gone through the first round of Triage.

"Food Stamp President" - In 2003 there were 15 million, at the end of 2012 over 47.8 million (WSJ). There's been a flurry recently of Food Banks with financial trouble, overcrowded shelters.

Since December 2007, more than 3.6 million properties have gone through foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac. 1.5 million in foreclosure, 3.5 million delinquent.

It would be my guess that the banks are going to want to crank up the foreclosure machine again now there's some money flying around looking for houses to buy. Move some of that Shadow Inventory onto the market for investors to snatch up and get it off of their books.

"It hasn't come yet. I can remember right when the Bakken came on the radar. And we all said. "It won't be nothing". "It won't last". "It can't make a dent in the big picture". And it did. And "The Peak was 2006" and it wasn't."

Flat is down. The population has been rising faster than energy growth and EROEI of new oil, especially tight oil and bitumen sands, has been falling. The net effect is down. And we, uh, still live on a finite planet - so it won't last and it's not making a whole heap of a dent in the big picture either. It's sure hoodwinking people into believing everything is fine and driving some serious cognitive dissonance. "The incredible American Oil Boom! Oil Forever!" "Why the hell are prices so high with all of this shale oil we're drowning in?!"

Drowning in Tight Oil -> Prices Still High -> Not a bug

Middle-income jobs being replaced with low-wage service sector jobs and middle-income jobs simply becoming low-wage jobs (machinist and manufacturing wages going in the toilet).

Three-fifths of all jobs lost during the recession paid middle-income wages, while roughly three-fifths of new jobs created during the economic recovery pay low wages - National Employment Law Project.

So that 47.8 million, about 15% of the US, might not agree that everything is peachy. The 3.5 million waiting to get kicked out of their homes...and probably an untold number of millions more on a knife's edge of falling into the abyss might not agree that things are peachy either.

So don't quick to jump on Leanan. He's been as right in judgement and projections as any of you. And I trust him.

She is probably right, there's no denying that. But then again as someone mentioned the fundamentals haven't changed.

I think many people on this forum now have an evolved sense of collapse and how it's going to pan out. I never had a 'world is coming to an end' kind of moment, I have always been in the 'catabolic collapse' camp. Also another advice from some of the bloggers comes to mind, any preparation you make has to make 'immediate sense' for you, you can't prepare for something that may or may not happen or happen the way you want it to, whatever you do must be useful 'right now'.

Adam Smith said it back in 1778, and it was true then as it is now: "there's a great deal of ruin in a nation". So there was, for the Holy Roman Empire, for the Ottoman Empire, for the Soviet hegemony, ... All of them went on and on and on. And then, suddenly, they each disappeared.

This is how non-linear processes work. It seems like nothing is happening for ever and ever. And then, suddenly, the change has happened overnight. My objection to the catabolic collapse scenario is that it is too linear.

I have an inkling that 6.9 billion people are becoming surplus to requirements. I have a vision of the mid-22nd century that runs like this. The people alive then will be living in an advanced technical civilisation with nearly all of the labour performed by robots. Very comfortable, utopian even. But when one of the two hundred million or so people alive then--a descendant of today's one percent--looks back on the 21st century, they will think of it in vague terms, as "the difficult period".

I'll leave you to imagine what is implied by those words, "the difficult period".

If you want descendants, the only preparations worth making are networking your way into the global elite.

I think you're assuming too much if you assume the global elite will be the ones to make it through the "difficult period". Revolutions tend to lead to heads rolling from the top down, just witness Gaddafi. If they get lucky they are just run out of town. In any case, they get replaced over time by others who are hungrier or more ruthless.

If things get really difficult I expect the banker's and billionaire's heads to start rolling. Not there yet.

It wasn't overnight. That's the point. Even the fastest collapses - Easter Island, say - happened over generations, not overnight.

It just seems like overnight, because of the narrative we put on it, from decades or centuries in the future.

Agreed - I look around and see the collapse happening rapidly. Yes, there is surprising resiliency/inertia in parts of the system, but when people say "it was supposed to collapse and it didn't", the issue is in unrealistic expectations of how fast and complete that collapse would be. It is collapsing, and rather breathtakingly fast too in terms of the time scales that such things happen. It's just slow in terms of TV shows or movies.

The best way to see it is to look back over the last 10-15 years and think about how life was then, and how your own understanding and attitudes have changed. What issues concerned you then, what was in the news, etc.

I actually don't see much change over the last 10-15 years. From, say, 9/11 to today. Lots of little crises, but thus it has always been.

However, I do think there might be something to the idea that the U.S collapse began in the '70s, at the U.S. peak of oil production. Since the '60s, growth has been much slower than it was in the earlier part of the 20th century. We've had to work more for less. Most of us alive now never knew any different, so we don't really notice.

I believe that since the decline is longer than a human generation, it is hard to perceive. An individual's ascension in life, from high school to college and/or career, family, whatever level of seniority, and finally retirement, tends to have a salary growth rate that is high compared to the long-term decline. The individual sees hard work paying off, and when they look to those older and/or wealthier, it's easy to think a little more work will bring the same rewards. If it feels like you're getting left behind or not quite getting where your parents did, you judge yourself deficient and redouble efforts.

It's not until you have spend a couple of decades at it that you realize that except for those few sports figures, executives, or other 1% of good fortune, nobody is making as much headway as the generation before, and those are struggling more than the one before them.

Your parents helped you with college, after their parents helped them, so you help your kids. But man, is it hard now, you say. And then you see Dad's retirement pension was cut, and Mom needs new knees, so there goes her savings. Before long, you're helping those before you and after you, and you don't even see how you'll ever going to make it where your parents got, let alone further ahead. And you worry that your kids won't be able to support themselves, let alone help you out.

So, you enjoy your overpriced house and pay your kids overpriced tuition and support your parents' overpriced medical care as best you can, mostly oblivious to the point that cheap loans created your overpriced house, cheap loans bloated the overpriced colleges, and gov't supports and regulations built overpriced healthcare. On each of those towers a fortunate few sit, but not many. And certainly not you.

But now you're in the game 20 or 30 years. Can you fold? Not really. Can you win? Probably not. So you pay the ante one more round and hope for a better hand coming your way. A little more hard work never hurt anybody, right? If only you had the time and money Dad did to take vacations, have hobbies, join social or professional organizations, or just spend time with your kids.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

"On each of those towers a fortunate few sit, but not many. And certainly not you."

This is speaking to a compounding problem...while peak oil and climate change threaten to bring the entire world down, the US in particular has been busy shooting itself in the foot.

Between the time that I started college and the time that I left tuition and fees had more than doubled. Now, I was there for 5 years because I was working on a double major and a minor (didn't complete the second major because of scheduling conflicts and already getting a job)...but tuition is not supposed to double in 5 years - and it's gone up considerably since.

School sports teams seem to almost have a higher operating budget than the main campuses these days and often the football coach is the most highly paid person at the school. Since there are rules against players being compensated - they're almost slave labor. Some will get a lucky break into the big leagues and the rest will leave with their Underwater Basket Weaving degrees, hopefully without life-long crippling injuries. It is interesting to note that one of the current most successful basketball players, LeBron James, skipped college and went straight to the NBA - now making millions upon millions of dollars with a high school degree and proving college to be useless...causing many heads of hair to catch on fire - so the colleges lobbied and got the rules re-written so they could take their pound of flesh before handing them off to the pros. Mo Money.

Somewhere around the 80's with the advent of the "Welfare Queen" the act of becoming poor meant being ostracized from society. It was them who was bringing you down - making your taxes high while driving their Cadillacs on your tax dollars. Never mind, of course, the introduction of "Horse and Sparrow" "Voodoo" "trickle-down" economics...because giving the rich all the money and praying that they employed a few boot lickers in return seemed so smashing an idea. Then corporations were allowed to extort and use wage arbitrage to pit states against each other in a race to the bottom - they were people after all! Then came the "free trade" bills, so that the corpses could move the jobs out of the country, using first near-free Mexican labor, and then near-free Chinese labor, while freely fleecing the home populace (and snatching lots of cheap oil from our friends in Canada!). Lower taxes mostly for the rich, a few bones for everyone else, while eroding social safety nets and worker protection all while morphing the Federal Government into a corporate welfare organization. Public utilities sold off to for-profit corporations, federal contracts given to connected individuals, laws written by corporate lobbyists.

America's decline has little or nothing to do with peak oil or climate change at this point.

"Between the time that I started college and the time that I left tuition and fees had more than doubled."

Waaaah! In the 12 years I've been out my state ag school has put an EXTRA DIGIT (sorry for yelling) on their tuition! My wife just took a single class that I could have paid for 3 fulltime semesters with back in the day. We're toast. I seriously doubt re-mortgaging my humble abode will pay my daughter's tuition, and forget delivering pizzas to pay for it. My generation may be the last in my family to even attend college (although schools in Mexico are looking pretty attractive...can't seem to convince the kids Spanish class is as important as math...)


Several schools around here cater for USAnian refugees plus we get a lot of health tourism to use our clinics.


Actually just the other day as I was walking my dog I was thinking how drastically psychological life has changed in the US since 2000. Just 13 years ago, the US was the sole superpower, prosperous, at peace, and respected and admired by everyone. The internet boom and a 18 year bull market in stocks had made people prosperous. Anybody who wanted a job could get it; you couldn't be poor unless you were abusing drugs or alcohol or were mentally ill or lazy (or at least it seemed that way). Education was expensive but easily affordable if you were middle class; health care was expensive but not outrageously so. At any rate almost everyone who wanted a job had one and most came with health insurance. A significant number of ordinary people had become very rich; a job in a startup was a sure road to riches (even secretaries working at Cisco had become millionaires). The federal government had a budget surplus (imagine that!) and the US $ was very strong. Everything was cheap; gas was just $1/gallon.

Liberals screamed that our biggest problem was that the people living on dole couldn't afford fast pentium PCs; they called it "digital divide".

Since then the mainland US has been attacked for the first time in centuries, the country has lost 2 disastrous wars, a hurricane destroyed a major American city with thousands dead, the US $ has lost one third of its value, the budget deficits now exceed $1 trillion, the country has created no net new jobs in 13 years, food is expensive, gas exceeds $4/gallon, over half of college graduates can't find jobs, federal government debt exceeds 100% of GDP, unfunded liabilities exceed $100 trillion, 50 million are on food stamps, student loans exceeds $1 trillion with significant amount in default, 25% of mortgage holders are underwater, virtually no one is getting raises above the real inflation rate, it is impossible to live off your savings unless you are very rich, Federal reserve is printing $1 trillion every year to buy debt no one else will buy, financial industry is getting away with massive fraud, education and healthcare is so ridiculously expensive that only the rich can afford it......

I long for the days when "digital divide" was our biggest problem.

It never seemed that way to me. The dot com bubble had burst by then, and even before it did, I recognized it as a bubble and knew it would burst. I never bought that "US is admired by all" crap.

And 9/11 was not the first attack in centuries. It was a terrorist attack, and those are not unknown in the U.S. There was even a previous attempt in 1993 on the same buildings. 9/11 was a matter of degree, not kind.

If anything, the euphoria of the '90s is what struck me as abnormal. That whole "end of history" thing. Did anyone really believe that?

It was more a "This time is different" thing. I heard that in 2007 and 2008... a lot! Less than a month before the implosion, I discussed with a neo-Con friend, who told me that it did not matter that corporations were laying off workers... the consumers were a different group. Of course he could not tell me who they were, but he was certain, things were different... buyers of homes and goods could always borrow the money for their purchase, and continue that bubble forever.

The discussion reminded me of talking with a seriously alchoholic client who would admit that losing her children was a problem, and that continuing to drink would cause her to lose her children, and yet denied that drinking was a problem for her.

Both were in serious denial. And, that answers your question: Yes, people really did believe that.


It is not so much the dot com bubble or the end of history. During the eighties and nineties, prosperity was easy and effortless, at least for college educated people. Getting a job was not a big deal and many more jobs had a pension attached to them compared to now. Educating two kids in college did not wipe out the savings of a typical middle class family and health care was a lot cheaper than it is now. And of course food and energy was a lot cheaper. A long bull market that started in 1982 made investing money look easy (just do dollar cost averaging in a mutual fund) even before the dot com bubble. It was not too difficult for an old person with a decent nest egg to live off his savings because banks offered much higher interest rates. Overall, for most people, survival was easy compared to today.

During the eighties and nineties, prosperity was easy and effortless, at least for college educated people.

This is not true. There was the dot-com boom in the '90s, but '80s were a rough time, even for the college-educated. Young people were telling the same stories about the value of a chemistry degree as johnnyk is now. The '80s was when college started becoming really unaffordable. Tuition rose, and financial aid became for harder to get. Interest rates were high (including on student loans). Black Monday happened in the '80s, leading to fears of another Great Depression. Overall, I'd say the '80s are among the darkest of decades (in mood, not events).

The 80's ushered in Reagan and the rightwing counter-revolution which is still devastating working people to this day. The US had just faced gas shortages after the Iranian hostage situation and Paul Volcker put the screws to the economy leading to the worst recession before the Great Contraction began in 2008. What I remember most about the 80's is the massive fears that Reagan was going to start a Nuclear War putting missiles into Europe to provoke the Soviets and joking about "the bombing (of Russia) starts in 5 minutes".
Hundreds of thousands even millions protested nuclear arming in Europe, and Reagan's saber rattling and waste of billions of dollars on War while also launching illegal Wars in Central America against Nicaragua and massacres in Honduras and Guatemala.
Ironically oil was a key part of the recovery from the 1981-82 recession - Carter's energy saving measures such as CAFE laws (along with higher price of gas of course!) led to
a reduction in US energy and oil use in 3-5 years while simultaneously the Alaskan pipeline came online to provide a secondary peak in US oil production. Maggie Thatcher had similar good luck with the beginning of UK North Sea oil.
James Baker made a deal with the Saudi's to undermine Russia by lowering the price of oil with the lessened US demand and temporarily increased supplies which was a major factor in
their economic problems which eventually led to the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Personally I was in grad school with a stipend so not directly impacted economically although this was the beginning of the war against welfare.
For myself I began a prosperous professional career with Bell Labs (now basically departed)
and although I had read and believed in "Limits to Growth" somehow that did not seem relevant for a while. As Jonathan Schell wrote the epic "Fate of the Earth" the biggest nightmare was all-out Nuclear War and Nuclear Winter which would destroy humanity and probably lead to extinction of the human race as well as impacting mammals and birds.
Although I have always been an Environmentalist supporting Rail and Green Transit, biking etc for environmental reasons I did not realize Peak Oil or become newly aware of Limits to Growth until the 2000's.
We still face major dangers from nuclear weapons and fission power but the biggest threat to planetary survival is Climate Change which goes on relentlessly outside of human control once it is set in motion by accumulating greenhouse emissions.
I have been lucky to have survived all the outsourcing, offshoring and maintained my professional career but not without being hit with my job being offshored once.
Because I have always been frugal I never wasted money on stupid consumption, new cars, or the wasteful indulgences when times were good so I am OK financially.
But my children face much bleaker prospects....

Sadly, St. Ronnie the Wrong was followed by Presidents who continued the fiasco. G.H.W. Bush at least was sufficiently loyal that he raised taxes when that was clearly indicated as necessary. Slick Willy was just Republican Light, as far as I am concerned. Won't even begin to discuss Shrub Bush, and have to say I am extremely disappointed with Obama.

In terms of just energy policies, we made a choice, as a nation, to allow greed to distract us. We now are faced with 33 years of wrongheaded decision making (it's hard to believe it has been that long) and the prospect that we have already missed the boat. In terms of direction, one of my clients in 1981 was the PATCO Local in Illinois, so my point of view is clear as to what happened to America's labor movement.

Between the damage to the economy from the impending energy crisis, the damage to our ecology from the ongoing climate crisis, and the damage to our national psyche from the ongoing political crisis, young people today face a grim future at best. And, should we, as a nation, continue in the manner in which we are, it may not be survivable.

Good job, Brownie.


I think what this shows is that what one see depends on where one stands. Just like the past, the future will uniform and homogeneous, and even if the majority are having a very bad time, some may be having a very good time. Each will remember it quite differently.

Actually, I think one of the big differences is the magnitude OF the differences. This will create severe social stresses.

Paleocon and Suyog:

I agree completely. Behind the gleam of American life lies human desperation. A country is not defined by its massive skyscrapers and endless highways and malls. It's defined by its people.

Remember that the 00's were sort of a last hurrah of a boom which started in the early 80s. It takes a decade or two for the zeitgeist to change.

We are 5 years since the crisis began in earnest. It will take another 5 (about 2018) for it to become clear to people that things aren't getting better. By 2030, it's game over.

I sometimes wonder if it is like Wilye E Coyote, spinning arms and legs madly in the air to try and stay up before plunging into the chasm below.


My feelings exactly. The collapse is breathtakingly fast, from the European perspective. To think that there are actually EU countries now where foreigners are killed on streets by card-carrying Nazis, that the Red Cross delivers catastrophe aid, that people lack basic medication and electricity ... it is obvious and has happened very rapidly. Interestingly, the mental climate reacts much faster than resource scarcity hits conscious levels of thought.

All of them went on and on and on. And then, suddenly, they each disappeared.

The empire disappeared. The government reformed. The people remained. Many of those with power or property or connections prospered while others fell. Many of those without either ended up without support - fiscal, physical, emotional - and some of those died. But on the whole, the people endured even while the govt reformed and the economy faltered. It's not 'all or nothing.' Never has been.

I believe Tainter argues that the people of the Roman Empire were better off after the "collapse".

The Fed is printing $85 billion a month and using that to permit a trillion dollar federal deficit. And even with that, the labour participation rate is the lowest it has been in 30 years and unemployment still high. 14 million people are on disability and not even counted in the unemployment numbers. Almost 50 million people are on food stamps.

Get the Fed manipulation out of the market and the federal deficit down to under 3% of GDP and let's see what things really look like. Because right now there is no reality in the markets whatsoever.

It is very difficult to push a string! That is what using interest rates only to try to stimulate real economic growth is like.

Having minored in Economics it has been known for years except for monetarist cranks that
it is Government fiscal spending on real projects like Green Transit, schools, hospitals, teachers, the Civilian Conservation Corps which creates jobs. I have to agree with Krugman that the Federal deficit itself is not an issue and is an excuse by the plutocrats to
squeeze even more out of working folks. Where I totally disagree with Keynes was his prescription that the government could "stimulate the economy" by just digging holes and filling them back in. That is what leads to Military Keynesianism whereby we spend billions to blow things up and then more billions (but unfortunately usually NOT!) to put them back together again!

In the age of Peak Oil and Climate Change Wars we can NOT afford nor can we afford Auto Addiction, idiotic devices like automatic paper towel dispensers, leaf blowers, riding lawn mowers, electric can openers etc etc. That sort of waste of energy and resources is just totally foolish. It accomplishes nothing for more cost and complexity while wasting resources.

+10, orbit7er. IMO, Obama missed the mark with the Stimulus when he did not insist on doing mass transit, energy infrastructure and alternative enrgy sources, instead wasting it on so-called 'shovel-ready' projects repairing existing ICE infrastructure.

Since 2008 we have already wasted almost 5 years, plus how many Trillion$ of USD? Time's a wasting, and we are off on tangents of self destruction.


"It is very difficult to push a string! That is what using interest rates only to try to stimulate real economic growth is like."

Especially when interest rates are already near zero...

The American economy is an interesting story. My brother in law and I talked at length about this over the weekend. I'm trying to win people over to the doomer side, but my success is limited.

Americans have this idea of abundance and self reliance. The rich in America believe they don't need anyone under any circumstances, and the middle class and poor in America believe they just need each other when times get tough. The rest of the world might as well not even exist. Good times and progress forever! This belief is so strong that it makes the system resilient.

This is very much a symptom of being at peak, in my view. It is clear to those that pay attention that in fact Americans are now facing scarcity and decline.

We went to a casino over the weekend. The place was packed. And it was sort of depressing, now these people have a few more dollars so they are going to piss it away. We learn nothing.

Well, yes and no. Who's 'we'? Noone I know was anywhere near a casino this weekend..

"Fundamentals may win out in the end, but it can take a long time."

I had been to customers stores where the local power company was there to shut off the electricity for non-payment. I thought weeks before this guy is toast. He went on for another 2-3 years. It can take an amazingly long time. He is gone but took an amazingly long time.

It can take an amazingly long time. He is gone but took an amazingly long time.

Good, I need some more time for my preparation, I've only started looking at alternative professions and destinations to immigrate and settle down, need some more time for another stair step down.

"Many of us, back in 2008, though the economy would continue shrinking...for years, if not forever."

There is, I think anyway, a healthy contingent which includes myself which see the "stair step" or "roller coaster" model of decline as the most plausible. Economy takes a hit, things fall down a notch, things stabilize and appear to be rising again - then hit a new lower ceiling, a little grinding on the new lower ceiling, another hit, another notch down and the cycle repeats.

The fact that the government has had to pull every trick in the book - QE Infinity, to-the-moon deficit spending, 99 week unemployment benefits, the lowest interest rates on mortgages - and yet still things are just barely ticking along. I mean c'mon...it's all going on the credit card, the bill's going to come due, and the world is going to lose its shite when they realize there no way to pay it back.

I've seen nothing so far to sway me from 2015+-a few for the next turn down with low probability through the rest of this year, an increasing chance in 2014, very high chance in 2015, and going astronomical after that.

I don't know, climate-wise, 2013 isn't looking too good.

I'm thinking new record Arctic ice melt, continuing or worsening N. American drought, and possibly an active Atlantic hurricane season are on tap. If any of those turn out to be triggers, well, we won't have to wait as long as 2015.

I hope you're right about stair steps. That's really the big questions isn't it?

Is there a step so big, or so far down already, that there is no step below it?

Climate wise, today things were looking maybe a bit hopefull in California. The pattern is bringing Pacific humidity, and the sun can set it off into shower/thunderstorms. And the forecast calls for at least two more similar systems. maybe "the new normal" climate will include some sort of California spring monsoon? [You can always hope]. Reminds me of the summer monsoon season in New Mexico. Humid, but not all that warm, with the promise of heavy, but hit and miss showers. -And hey when I got home, things were sopping wet!

It's all going on the credit card, sure, but I don't think it has to come due any time soon. It's not like the QE is a secret. If people were going to freak out, they'd do it now, not in two or three years.

I think the 2008 crisis served as an inoculation of sorts. There was real panic then. Talk of tanks in the streets. Fear that the collapse of credit lines would mean store shelves empty overnight. Denninger warning that CNBC would be out of business within 18 months.

None of that happened, and I think it's going to take a much bigger shock to get a serious reaction now. Kind of like no one bats an eye now at $100 oil.

Watch Egypt. Ridiculously overpopulated, imports 50 percent of its food, and most of its people can hardly afford the necessities due to centuries of kleptocracy and now the peaking of its oil bonanza.

Consider a 50% increase in the price of oil. In the US, it means that fuel goes from 5% to 7.5% of household budgets before households adapt, and it returns to 5%. In Egypt, it means going from eating six times a week to eating three times or twice a week.

Failure starts in the weak, vulnerable places. Who knows where it will end? It's too soon to say what happened in 2008.

Right but Egypt =/= world. Egypt is Egypt and yes, that country is very vulnerable but it was always so. They basically only had tourism.

Egypt isn't going to affect the world. Come back when China is on the ropes.

Egypt is indeed not the world. However, it is a peek at what is to come for the rest of the world when world-wide peak oil hits.

China is definitely an anomaly. They are 'cheating' to some degree . . . the violate intellectual property rules a lot, they manipulate their currency, they are destroying their environment, and they abuse human rights a bit. That said, they certainly have had an economical surge. But even their growth is slowing, they are feeling competition from other Asian neighbors, their own population is not quite as willing to put up with such abuse, etc.

I think Western nations are going to start cracking down a bit on China as their own economies struggle and protectionist view starts to become popular.

So... how do those households adapt? Only 2 ways I know, and that would be 1) price of oil falls by 33 1/3% to former level, or 2) income of family goes up by 50%. Which one is more likely? I would say, none of the above.

Especially true since real wages are about the level they were in 1968, having fallen a bit (but not a lot) from their adjust highs during the late 90's. You may want to check out http://www.zerohedge.com/news/median-male-worker-makes-less-now-43-years....

Which tends to support Leanan's take that we have been in decline since the 70's.

And does not bode well for the mid to long term, though again we have the appearance of recovery today (as we did at several times from 1968 to date).

I am not worried about a gradual decline; stair step will be fine. So long as we avoid black swan events, that's okay. And, I suppose that time will deal with population overshoot in some way, hopefully gently. What concerns me is that we may face the fate of the reindeer on St. Matthew Island. Overshoot can do that.


My family average 40 years per generation.

My grandparents were Victorian/Edwardian working class English/Welsh. Shop assistants, tailors, carpenters, railway men. Not quite hand to mouth but nearly. They lived in houses powered entirely by coal/wood/oil/parafin. Travel was horse or steam train. They came from hardworking stock who valued education (free until 11) and culture when they could get it, and after the first world war they did OK for themselves. My grandmother was even given the vote.

My parents grew up in the austerity years of the early 30s. Education was free until 14 and dad got a scolarship to a top school, and even a grant for university. The second world war allowed talent to shine and dad did well. Even so, the UK was economically destroyed, it was years before they could afford a car, a decade before they could buy a small house, 16 years of marriage before I was born.

I grew up in the decline years of the 70s. Mass unemployment, power cuts, surging inflation. I was 14 when we got a telephone (land line) and a colour TV. Walked/bussed to school. However, education was free until 18, health care (almost) free for life, I drifted through to a top university and into a career in IT. I accidentally got given good paying jobs I wasn't qualified for TWICE.

My kids are 9 and 10. I know this time the austerity is different. However, my kids usually get driven the 1 mile to school, have more holidays in a year than mum had in a lifetime, play with toys that would have cracked Enigma and Tunny in an hour, and consider themselves hard done by because I refuse to heat the house above 19C.

However, university education now has to be paid for. My well paying job only just covers the bills, and I have the lowest bills in the village due to my peak oil preparations. We mostly wear second hand clothes, because they are better quality than the new ones in the shops (that we can afford).

In the UK prosperity has peaked, but only just.

Our generational POV is about the same. My G-Grandfather born in 1814, Grandfather 1876, Dad in 1916. Originally came from Yorkshire roots (Holme on Spaulding Moor). From a 50-year generational view, things are moving quite quickly indeed. One of my treasured artifacts is a wooden spindle hand carved by my Grandfather's Great Grandfather from what looks like black walnut wood.

I'm still working on lowering energy use; mostly summer for us in Texas as we use a/c. Upgraded to 21 Seer HVAC, and have two projects left and we will be in pretty good shape. I have no doubt our energy use per capita is lowest in our neighborhood, and look forward to dropping it much farther.

Whilst public transit is almost nil hereabouts, at least the kids are bussed to school. For myself, it is almost 5 miles to the bus station to go to work, 25 miles away. That's better than it was for a while, at 32 miles one way to work and no bus! So, things can improve. But you need to be willing to change and adapt for that to work out.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for a politician at any level to show up at the dance. Mostly all in our pcnt. are far-right, tea-party or neo-cons. Not even a genuine Libertarian to spice it up. All in all it is depressing, given what looms on our horizon.


That's why my 2015 "feeling" is based on a running mental tally of numerous bits of information - I wish I had a way of properly quantifying it.

The combination of Westexas' Net Export math, with continued pressure of Chinese/Indian demand, and flat production (per-capita net decline), net EROEI decline, or actual volumetric decline...we'll likely see another oil shock in a few years...this is the primary trip mechanism I see for 2015.

The other items silently(more or less) brewing in the background will get exacerbated or fully tripped with the next spike:

Global weirding seems to be undeniable at this point. This has affected harvests around the world - there's maybe a few more years before this will really start to bite as reserves are exhausted. Large segments of unemployed youth with no visible future + food shortages = revolution fuel.

The oil problem mentioned above is likely to trigger the Canadian housing bubble to collapse which will have ripple effects into the US (Canada is still #1 by far for US exports, Mexico #2). A large number of people currently hanging on to the edge in the US will fall off into poverty.

There are still many unemployed people, people living close to the edge, people over the edge and sliding down out there. Purchasing power is eroding - people are finding jobs again, but they're generally at significantly lower wages. I'd bet also that they have debts racked up and need to deleverage before they'll have excess income to spend (if they'll have any at all). A simple spike in energy costs and food costs could push all of these people into the abyss and drag new ones with them. The US on current course will add about 1.5 Trillion to the debt between here and then, the drop in GDP from higher energy costs will push the GDP to Debt ratio well over 100% again. Though it might not matter much in practice it'll freak some people out...there will be greater reluctance for any kind of bail out scheme or public assistance.

The eurozone may fully disintegrate at that point - there's no telling what that will look like but I would bet heavy odds it can be booked as a "negative" event with economic panic ensuing. This might trigger China to finally implode - again, very likely to be a negative event - but who knows how it will play out (may cause a crash in oil prices leading to a super-oscillation).

There are a few more lurkers, which I'm failing to recall at the moment, but you can see where I'm headed. The rubber band is stretched thin right now - all that's needed is the trigger to snap it and my bets are currently laying on 2015. But chaos reigns supreme right now - war, particularly with Iran, could trigger it early or any number of things... but it might also hold on a bit past that in some Wile E. Coyote move. The Wile E. Coyote move is getting pretty damned popular these days...but he does eventually ::splat::.

“Über alles” and “To arms” were headlines in Greek press March 26 2013...the photos of battalions of riot police is pretty impressive. Kind of makes firing cops seem like a good idea.

Your "2015 feeling" may be spot on. Bernanke:

Bernanke: "There is a Treasury bubble that's been artificially inflated and will burst, but we don't expect to see a phenomenal blowup that will take the 10-year yield up to 5% for a couple of years," he said. ...

..."Even if rates stay low for a little while longer, bonds are a pretty lousy investment," said Adrian Day, president of Adrian Day Asset Management. "Investors buying bond funds at this point are getting a very low return, with very little upside and lots of potential downside."...

... "I don't think average investors understand how much they stand to lose," said Smith. For example, if the 10-year yield moves from 2% to 2.5%, a bond mutual fund with a 10-year duration would lose 5% in value, he said.

"And it's conceivable for the losses to be worse," he said. "Once the snowball begins, we could see massive redemptions, and that will feed on itself."

Bond bubble may deflate slowly

Again, too many claims...

...and did previous economies have bubbles of such enormity that could pop at the speed of light?

Whether bonds are a good or bad investment is to some extent a matter on ones' investment horizon.
Let's say you buy a 10 year treasury today with a 2% coupon at par (100). Let's say that tomorrow 10 year yields are going to 7% so the value of your bond goes to 60. You just "lost" 40% of your investment in a US government guaranteed bond.
However, if you keep that bond to maturity you will get back your 100 (par) plus you've been receiving some interest along the way. In other words, whether that bond was a good or bad investment in some cases has little to do with the instrument itself but more with the behavior of the investor.

Let's assume you sold the bond at 60 to somebody. If that somebody keeps the bond to maturity they had a great investment - they bought at 60, sold at 100 and collected interest along the way.

It is extremely, extremely important to try to match your horizon of analysis with your horizon of investment, and that isn't just the case with financial investments but even with respect to blogs like these.

There are some threads today which talk about how doomers are/were wrong etc. But take a step back and look at the timeframe - depending on if your horizon of analysis (and action!!) is 10 years or 100 years makes a huge difference. In the first case yes some predictions are wrong, but if the horizon is extended a bit we simply don't know the answer. Perhaps the center of the earth is actually a huge mass of oil, not iron, or pocket-sized zero point energy generators are for sale for 2 bucks per kwh. Or perhaps North Korea nukes an American base in Japan tomorrow morning and now the world is tossing nukes back and forth and peak oil was just rendered (true but) irrelevant.

We all know we will die one day but that doesn't mean that the only right course of action is to go lie in a coffin and wait - there is wine to drink and thoughts to think in the meanwhile.


My "investments" have been in concrete real ways to save energy like triple pane windows,
a Prius, energy efficient furnace and improved insulation which save 50% of my natural gas usage, and now a solar carport to provide all my electricity.

Anything to save energy or invest in tools which will allow self-sufficiency are probably the best investments!

I am one of them who selected the Stair Step Decent model as most likely.

Keep in mind that every country will not be affected equally by an oil price shock. All that is required is one or a few countries (southern Europe, Egypt currently) to take a fall reducing their crude oil consumption while other countries continue using what is left. Some countries can recover and prosper while others fail.

In 2008 the price of natural gas was high in the U.S. contributing to the stress from the oil price shock in that country. Since then the U.S. has had relief from the high price of NG and a stronger currency allowing it to withstand high oil prices better than other countries. If you believe EIA data, world crude oil production has increased a little which would increase the period between oil price shocks. It was looking like the world would have had an oil price shock in 2011 from the war in Libya except for a huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan and a 60 Mb release from the SPR's in OECD countries to supply Japan's recovery during the summer. Until the end of his second term, former president Bush 2 applied laissez-faire to the economy while President Obama intervenes to forestall the reckoning. The U.S. has reduced it crude oil consumption about 3 Mb/d since 2007 and still has considerable ability to reduce it more through efficiency. This sort of adaption and postponement can continue for decades.

At the peak the world shifts from an exponentially rising supply of crude oil to a roughly constant supply with a high price. Efficiency can be improved. On the falling edge the world gets an exponentially decreasing supply causing shortages and high prices and has less ability to adapt because it has already eliminated wasteful uses and improved efficiency. The greatest decrease in supply is near the inflection point on the falling edge of the production curve. Peak global natural gas production looms in the future somewhere during the falling edge of oil production. Crude oil is mostly used as a transportation fuel while natural gas is used through out the economy in heating, cooking, production of electricity, production of ethanol, production of nitrogen fertilizer, production of plastic and many other uses in industry. A system is most likely to break when it is subjected to maximum stress. If peak natural gas occurs near the inflection point on the falling edge of the crude oil production curve, then that seems like a very stressful time where the entire system might collapse from high prices of both commodities and a shortage of crude oil. In the meantime (next 30 to 40 years?) the global system gets shocked, adjusts, rising population and diminished as some dominoes fall while others remain standing.

Peak oil alone is not a large enough shock to collapse the global system.

World: 7.095 billion people (July 2013 est.)
World: 47.7 people/km2 of land

World: 7.095 billion people (July 2013 est.)
World: 47.7 people/km2 of land


Unfortunately, our current population of 7 billion, if spread out evenly over 20 million square miles, would give the world an average density of 350 people per square mile, or 140 per square kilometer. Based just on that number, without even considering our Thermodynamic Footprint, our current population is at least 150 and perhaps 350 times too big to be sustainable. To put it another way, we are now 15,000% to 35,000% into overshoot based on our raw population numbers alone.

However, the story doesn't end with simple population numbers. Our use of primary energy gives each of us the average planetary impact of about 20 hunter-foragers. As we showed above, this means that the world’s “thermodynamic equivalent population” is 20 times the number of physical people, or about 140 billion.

Growth photo ExponentialFunction2.jpg

47.7 people/km2 is the average over the entire land area of Earth. People can and some do live in boats on water.

From CIA World Factbook for the World:
total: 510.072 million sq km
land: 148.94 million sq km = 57.5 million sq miles
water: 361.132 million sq km
note: 70.9% of the world's surface is water, 29.1% is land

From your link to Thermodynamic Footprints and Sustainability:
There are about 150 million square kilometers, or 60 million square miles of land on Planet Earth. However only a third of that area, 20 million square miles or 50 million square kilometers, is habitable by humans. The other two thirds is covered by snow, mountains or deserts, or has little to no topsoil.

Because people also live on permafrost, in mountains and in deserts, I think Paul Chefurka is underestimating the habitable land area. They source food from oceans, lakes and rivers which can make land that is unsuitable for farming habitable. I question the accuracy of his assumption that agriculture can not be done sustainably at some scale less than the present.

That doesn't really make it better. The claim on arable land is the really important thing to look at there, plus whatever can be supplemented from the oceans - which appears to be in decline.

What density of people can live on permafrost, mountains and deserts? How much per capita energy does such a habitat require? Where does that energy come from, and what are the knock-on, indirect effects of its use? What ecological damage do we do just by living there?

My (quite strict) definition of "sustainability" leads me to the conclusion that the maximum sustainable human "population/activity product" is on the order of 50 million hunter-gatherers: one person per square kilometer, with no technological energy beyond firewood. That represents 0.7% of today's situation, when our use of technological energy is factored in. It could even be less than half of that if we took one person per square mile as the upper density limit (20 million vs. 50 million H-G equivalents).

By that measure we are now at least 14,000% into overshoot, and have been in overshoot since about 1,000 BC.

They source food from oceans, lakes and rivers which can make land that is unsuitable for farming habitable.

I have been scuba diving on coral reefs for about 38 years now. Even if I didn't have a clue about ocean acidification, overfishing, agricultural runoff and industrial and pharmaceutical pollution, etc... I'd still be seriously worried by what I have seen with my own eyes. Our oceans ecosystems are, to put it bluntly, FUBAR!

And people can't understand why I get upset when some here keep talking about how either they are actively working to, or they think it's necessary to, increase the rate at which we extract FF?! Sheesh!

our current population is at least 150 and perhaps 350 times too big to be sustainable

Let's look at energy use. Roughly speaking, the world uses 147 TWh per year of energy from all sources. Converted to horsepower at 1.34 hp/kW that's 200 billion horsepower-hours per year. Assuming horses work an 8-hour day, you'll need to feed 600 billion horses to get the same energy.

One horse requires about one acre of pasture. There are 12 billion acres of agricultural land on Earth (pasture + crop land), so the energy overshoot is 600/12 = 50 times.

The fact that the government has had to pull every trick in the book - QE Infinity, to-the-moon deficit spending, 99 week unemployment benefits, the lowest interest rates on mortgages - and yet still things are just barely ticking along. I mean c'mon...it's all going on the credit card, the bill's going to come due, and the world is going to lose its shite when they realize there no way to pay it back.

Yeah, I agree, every radical fancy fiscal footwork that could be conjured up has been exercised to get to flat to miniscule growth. Is that really something to cheer as debt rises to astronomical levels and QE's go on unabated? I don't ever remember a recovery requiring anymore than lower interest rates to kick start it.

Wow...thanks, you put that in a nice statement...kinda what I have been saying all along but with much more muddling...I don't want to be such a doomer that I don't see things improving or that I am hoping for doom to come and disappointed when it doesn't but I also don't want to be caught by surprise when it does because if it does it is going to come big..my grandparents generation was tough and could do without..this generation can't find their way out of a paper bag without their I-Phone Gps...I like CNBC one story is "china is crashing" the next story is "china is booming"...the people in these positions remind me of the ones I knew in college that would do tons of Bong hits while daddy kept the money coming....look up Austin Goolsbee....I saw him several times on the Daily Show and I thought oh no we are in trouble...it only took the Obama administration 3 years to figure he was the wrong person for the job..

Yes, this will be an interesting thing to watch. My hunch is that 2008 will be returning. I expect the gas bubble to be popping, although I am not sure of the timing. The big question in my mind is if the implosion of the EU drags the US down, or if we get a bounce because of it. I'm expecting a short bounce, but ultimately I think the interconnected nature of the system will drag it all down. Still, it will be a good reality check for all such mental models.

I live in Cambridge, UK. One of the few places outside London that has shaken off the last recession around here. Property prices are astronomical.

Today is the first day of the tax year, today the latest round of tax rises and welfare cuts for the low and medium income families, and tax cuts for the wealthy come into effect. It is also very cold. It is also Easter Monday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The city shopping streets were almost deserted.

"...today the latest round of tax rises and welfare cuts for the low and medium income families, and tax cuts for the wealthy come into effect"

Good God. I see you Brits are hell bent on repeating every tax policy mistake the U.S. has made for the past 30+ years. So when are you planning on repealing your Commie socialist single-payer healthcare system, so British citizens are as "free" to go bankrupt from medical bills as we Yanks?

We are working on it. The NHS goes into competitively commissioned service mode as of today, presumably now coming under EU competition law and with international providers hovering in the wings. So expect 'service providers' where once we had doctors' local surgeries (quaint term) and hospitals. I imagine these will morph into profit centres.

OMG! No one should allow the people providing health care to make choices based on their profit. Health care is one arena where there is absolutely never a free market. THe folks on the provider side will always be making an "offer you cannot refuse."

Best hopes on matching the US at or near the bottom of the barrel.


Best hopes on matching the US at or near the bottom of the barrel.

No no no, all my right-wing American colleagues assure me that the U.S. has the BEST CARE IN THE WORLD and going bankrupt over spiraling medical costs (2-3X per capita what the rest of the developed world spends) means more FREEDOM! I can literally TASTE THE FREEDOM when 50 million people routinely go without any health insurance, tens of millions more have 'discount' policies that cover diddly squat, and millions more are booted off existing policies due to pre-existing conditions and/or arbitrary rescissions. When that God-fearing red blooded American paymaster slaps you with a $400 charge for aspirin, you know you're living in the LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE.

Livin' the dream, baby!

HARM, you have been misremembering that slogan. It is LAND OF THE FEE AND HOME OF THE BRAVES (Atlanta, GA, I suppose).


I can literally TASTE THE FREEDOM when 50 million people routinely go without any health insurance, tens of millions more have 'discount' policies that cover diddly squat, and millions more are booted off existing policies due to pre-existing conditions and/or arbitrary rescissions.

That probably helps explain a lot about that great economic recovery that Leanan was just telling us about.

Who the heck cares about health care when you can buy that brand new gas guzzling SUV with zero down and payments only for as long as you have left to live... Now that's living the dream baby!

The health insurance I see today (wife has Cobra ins. at $910/month that would best be described in this way) is "Catostrophic Insurance." That is to say, it covers very little, but MIGHT keep you out of bankruptcy if you have a serious illness or injury. No guarantees, mind you. But, MAYBE.

Best hopes for another fine recovery in this the best of all possible economies.


Which is why health "insurance" is not health"care". One is a bet (where the house in aggregate always wins) and the other is actually meant to keep people healthy.

"...slaps you with a $400 charge for aspirin..." ~ HARM

Wintergreen is a group of plants... the most common generally being the Eastern Teaberry...

Wintergreen oil is used topically (diluted) or aromatheraputically as a folk remedy for muscle and joint discomfort, arthritis, cellulite, obesity, edema, poor circulation, headache, heart disease, hypertension, rheumatism, tendinitis, cramps, inflammation, eczema, hair care, psoriasis, gout, ulcers, broken or bruised bones. The liquid salicylate dissolves into tissue and also into capillaries, so overuse is as risky as overuse of aspirin. Wintergreen also is used in some perfumery applications and as a flavoring agent for toothpaste, chewing gum and soft drinks, confectionery, in Listerine, and in mint flavorings. One surprising application is rust removal and degreasing of machinery. Wintergreen is particularly effective for breaking through sea water corrosion.

Toxicity of Wintergreen oil

30 ml (about 1 fl oz) of oil of wintergreen is equivalent to 55.7 g of aspirin, or about 171 adult aspirin tablets (US). This conversion illustrates the potency and potential toxicity of oil of wintergreen even in small quantities.

It grows like a weed in my area.

It may be possible to totally agree with the quote from Terry Goodkind: “Reality is irrelevant; Perception is everything.”

However, I think "The Emperor's New Clothes" is a more realistic read.

“Reality is irrelevant; Perception is everything.”

I knew a very successful real estate broker in CA in the 80's and one day pointing to a small commercial building, he asked me,
"How much do you think that building is worth?"
I replied, "About 600,000?"
He said, "That's a pretty good guess, but why?"
"Because that's about how much it will fetch in this market."
"He said, perception."
I replied, "Perception?"
He said, "Yeah, it's worth what people perceive it to be worth. It would cost about 80k to build so how is it worth 600k? Think about it."

That's because the purchase price includes the land and the right to use it to do business on it. So the price is correct if business is good. If business is bad (Depression) another price is right, say $10,000, because now there is no gain from having a place to do business because there is no business. Any currency (even gold because you cannot eat gold) is a promise. No currency has real value.

"I agree the fundamentals haven't changed, but the situation on the street has. People who were worried about mortgage payments a couple of years ago are now booking cruises. Traffic congestion is increasing, those empty strip malls are filling up, and people who were postponing buying houses, getting married, and having kids are doing those things. I suspect the free money isn't going to be a problem as long as it's worse in Europe. Eventually, it will come home to roost, but it might not be in any time we have to worry about."

Typical secular bubble fuelled by a combination of zero % interest rates and a temporary tight oil boom which we all know here will not last. There is no solution to a policy of years of zero % interest rates other than a complete collapse of the currency. This monetary policy is unprecedented in world history and has only been able to last this long because of computers which can completely manipulate the system to keep it going. All this will do is intensify the eventual collapse. The only thing the doomers misjudged is how well the banksters have been able to hold together the ponzi scheme.

I can't believe you are using Krugman as a reference; he was the guy promoting the trillion dollar platinum coin as the solution to the US deficit; this is an implicit admission that the US dollar is now fundamentally worthless with a value of a 500 millionth of an ounce of platinum.

Unless you are at the end stages of your life, this will definitely come home to roost in a time we have to worry about. Gold and silver are now basically out of supply and the price suppression cannot continue much longer. It will end when China and Russia decide there`s none left to scoop up at artificially depressed prices and then drop the axe and call the US on its debts. This will likely cause WW3 which is why all parties are currently at a stalemate -- until they aren`t.

As I like to say, "Ponzi schemes are great. Until they end." Stupidly simple idea; few people can identify one when we`re in the midst of it.

(Preview is showing the image really large, sorry about the size if it saves this way)

 photo DefAdjGDPGraph_zps1f2d9af5.png
Right axis is yearly % change; 0 lines up with left axis and each line is 20%.

Deficit Adjusted GDP is (Reported GDP)-(US deficit)-(the change in the Fed Balance sheet, excluding US Treasuries so those don't get double-counted w/ the deficit). Using this metric, the economy has not grown in real terms since the recession began, but the contraction is slowing down.

Therefore, in some sectors or regions, there may be real growth above and beyond deficit spending, but it is definitely not the case across the country. The energy industry is likely one of those sectors, so regions where that sector has expanded are likely those regions where real growth is occuring.

Including state and local debt would probably only support further push the numbers towards contraction. Private debt would be trickier; banks were able to offload a bunch of bad debt and the savings rate improved right after the recession, but I'm not sure how things stand now.

Goes to show how beneficial the deficit spending has been. The blue bars are more like Greek GDP.

It's interesting to me that depending what part of the elephant the wise men are touching, how it gives them different data.

On the other side of how the economy might be doing for some areas, I was suprised to learn that the 'emptiest cities' were for 2012 in the US:


Honestly I had no idea that some of these cities were on the list.

1. Orlando, Florida
12-Month Averages
Rental vacancy rate: 18.8%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 2.2%

2. Dayton, Ohio
Rental vacancy rate: 11.3%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 5.4%

3. Memphis, Tennessee
Rental vacancy rate: 15%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 3.1%

4. Detroit, Michigan
Rental vacancy rate: 16.9%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 1.7%

5. Richmond, Virginia
Rental vacancy rate: 15.1%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 2.4%


I have to wonder about those numbers.

4. Detroit, Michigan
Rental vacancy rate: 16.9%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 1.7%

Detroit's population has fallen dramatically and a great many homes stand empty. I don't know how they are measuring homeowner vacancy rates but the number is MUCH higher than 1.7% in Detroit. They must declare a house abandoned after some short time and take it off the rolls

Same in Canada as far as I can tell.

Obviously, the Oil Sands related work is the main driver of Canada's economy. It is not uncommon for skilled workers and technical people to make between 150,000 and 200,000 per year.

I hear Ontario Manufacturing is still down with the high dollar.

To a lesser extent where I live on the west coast there is currently a 'super cycle' of logging going on. New construction in the States with repairs to storm damaged properties, as well as wood to Japan and continuing to China is keeping the trucks haauling 7 days per week. Companies are even advertising for positions and training positions. The wages don't compete with the oil money, but they are more than respectable.

The key word is cycle. I have seen them come and go like clockwork and the crash just as fast with many being 'laid off' or underemployed for very long stretches.

Skilled support industries such as machining and fabrication are doing very well right now. I see many adds for heavy duty mechanics.

Pulp and paper is still in the toilet, housing construction has slowed, and except for the above mentioned industries unless you are a teacher/nurse/RCMP service type pay cheques are not much more than minimum wage. Low end service jobs pay very little except for Alberta.

I can't say about farming right now, but I have never met a poor farmer that actually is well set up. They whine all the time but they seem to do quite well. And yes they do work very hard. It will be interesting to see what transpires with the changes to the Wheat Board. We still have milk quotas in BC so if you have a quota you are doing just fine.


BC residents cross the border to load up on milk and gas. It's weird to see a shopping cart with 6 gallons of milk. Informal survey (just me, just walking around) of our local big box stores indicates that Canadian shoppers dropping petro dollars hand over fist is a big part of our local recovery. Well, we are happy to trade their money for Chinese products coming in by container load to Seattle and the heroic output of Whatcom County's 10,000 dairy cows.

Not a lot of petro dollars in the lower mainland. But your milk is half the price of ours.

How much of that is corn subsidies? Or maybe not so much with so much headed to ethanol...

Not sure. I've heard that the US directly subsidizes milk production. But ours is artificially high due to production limits (milk producers are regulated and only allowed to produce so much milk), and also relatively high taxes.

One of the more endearing things about Canada is that working class folks can make a good living. Of course, the Harper government is trying to destroy that by bending over backwards to Big Business and allow massive amounts of foreign-workers on short-term visas whose sole purpose is to push down the wages (and increase profits and decouple wages from producvtivity the way it's been in America).

I still don't understand how Harper managed to win the last election. I'm still under the impression that a solid majority of Canadians are progressive. Is it the electoral system? Or has Canada's good fortunes turned it more NIMBY-like, less compassionate?

Whatever it is, I cannot understand it.

Like it or not, Harper was successful in moving his party to the center of the political spectrum -- a place that had previously been the almost exclusive domain of the Liberal party.

In Australia too you see the government promoting short-term foreign workers on the basis of largely fictional "skill shortages", and promoting massive immigration on the basis of a hugely exaggerated "aging population problem" (and nevermind that rapid population growth only makes this problem worse long term). Its the ancient impulse of the power elite to promote overpopulation, which benefits them even as it hurts the common people. They don't even seem to realize what they are doing.

Personally I think the US economy will be dragged down with Europe later this year. I also see some signs unfortunately of returning to overdevelopment in Real Estate. For example one of my fellow Rail riders alerted me to a developers lawsuit to build 800 housing units and a strip mall just down from a train station in an old Mainstreet.
On the one hand if housing is going to be built it should be transit accessible and this is about 1 mile from the existing train station. But it is idiotic to build a strip mall when the old Main Street businesses are a short walk away. Apparently the developers are promising a shuttle to the train station but can you trust that?
What is the funding, the frequency etc.

Of COURSE this development includes scads of parking probably for 800-1600 cars!

But we have seen this played out before.

My own guess is Chris Martenson is right that the stock market bubble will burst again...

The proposed investment of $13 Billion in Rail for Massachusetts could be a major boon to help save oil, especially good for NY-Boston corridor is the proposal for 90 minute Accela train ride from NY to Boston!

But there seems like too much reversion to Auto Addicted sprawl to fundamentally change the US equation ...

I wonder if that is a common sign of collapse...a lot of boom and bust just much closer in scale...seems like they are happening faster and faster or maybe I am getting older and older and it just seems that way...

"Business" may be booming all over the country but mere mortal "employment" sure isn't. Just ask parents with recent college grads, several years after graduation, stepson in Alabama is in National Guard and working 3 minimum wage restaurant jobs. Step daughter in Oregon still looking for job even though she had 2 published papers as an undergrad before getting Environmental Biology Degree (~$50K loan debt). She has been helping us with caregiving for my father-in-law with dementia.

My two cents worth, from six years ago, from my "ELP Plan" essay, linked up the thread:

In my opinion, the unfortunate new reality is that we are going to see a growing labor surplus–against the backdrop of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices. By reducing your expenses now, while you can do it voluntarily, you will at least be better prepared for whatever the future may bring. . .

The biggest risk to family finances is trying to maintain the SUV, suburban mortgage way of life in a period of contracting energy supplies. Beyond that, one of the next biggest risks in my opinion, is excessive and unwise spending–especially debt financed spending–on college education costs.

While we will desperately need engineers and many other technically qualified graduates, we are seeing wave upon wave of college graduates entering the work force with degrees that very poorly prepare them for work in a post-Peak Oil environment. We may ultimately see college graduates competing with illegal immigrants for agricultural jobs.

Perhaps the best education investment that many young people could make is a two year associate degree in some kind of repair/maintenance area, perhaps with summer jobs in the agricultural sector.

Perhaps the best education investment that many young people could make is a two year associate degree in some kind of repair/maintenance area, perhaps with summer jobs in the agricultural sector.

I couldn't agree with you more, I've been telling people something like this for the past two decades! Not many listen, though. Maybe in the future...

The chemical industry is interesting. I'm a 50 year member of The American Chemical Society so I've observed how employment has changed over the years. It used to be you got your degree and got a job. Now, it's a whole different world. ACS is recommending doing internships, lots of networking, offering lots of job finding skills, etc. And, be sure, that if you do a post doc, that it isn't too long and blah, blah, blah.

I would have serious doubts about doing it again. The funny thing is that in retrospect, I should have been an Ag major but all the farms in the family were long gone so I never had the exposure...until I left the chemical industry. Well, at least I was a small-scale certified organic farmer for a while so I know for sure that's where my interest actually lay.

I'm glad we never had kids because I don't know what I'd tell them about a career today.


Hi Todd. Be especially glad you never had kids. I did, and let me tell you, they don't listen!

There is no way that someone who is young and enthusiastic can get a grip on what the future might be like. Especially since, as Leanan quite rightly reminded us, it is difficult to predict.

Which does not change that agricultural skills and meaningful trades will be at a premium when the anticipated doo doo strikes the blades.


oh so true

but I've been "blessed" with a lazy teenage son who's also failed his "O" ( UK 16 year grades before leaving school) because he was "too tired " to turn up to the exams and doesn't like paperwork....

Yeah I know all fathers think there son is lazy and good for nothing but .... just but .... I think I'm under playing it .......(sighs)

what are his plans? - dunno he says

how do you intend to look after yourself ? - dunno , don't care , something will turn up and you will

me " but if I wont or cant , because I've lost my job " ?


can anyone tell me why I bothered ?

seemed a good idea at the time -couple of kids , one might look after you when you're old - like I look out for my father and mum

And my daughter has chronic fatigue syndrome - but at least she's good with her exams ....



Yes... oldest (son) like that. He did finish HS, but was too 'tired' to do college.

I keep telling him, he will starve if he doesn't figure it out. He expects us to take care of him. The Wife allowed him in and won't let me kick him out (if he goes, I go, she says).

::deep sigh::

I have so many friends with similar situations, we have to wonder if it isn't part of the symptoms of the time? Maybe one generation will (mostly) just let itself go off and die without a whimper.


We have 3 that just lie around and sleep all day. The only difference is that they are all cats, and we never had to pay for them to go to college.

Too bad it's unacceptable to spay or neuter your kids :-0

Have courage. I had one that went to school every day but refused to do any of the work or take any of the exams. Needless to say, he didn't graduate from high school.

He went on to pass his GED exams without studying, did his SAT with a lot of frantic studying, and has completed two terms of study at a music school and now trying to get into a university music program at 21. It took watching his friends and his younger sister move on to see the light.

Thank goodness he has a passion - he was encouraged to take music classes all along but always refused in middle and high school, except for a brief two or three weeks.

Sometimes they just need to mature first. Too many kids just go into college, because its what's expected, and mom&dad are paying. Usually these kids can't find a major they like (and are good at), and drift around with mediocre grades -but do lots of partying. In my experience, American colleges are loaded with the type.

Music, can work buts it a bit of a longshot. My son graduated with a music degree last year and is doing fine economically (got $300 to play for a funeral this morning). But I think out of his graduating class, he is the only one making a livable wage. Helps if they are hungry for gigs -and not too proud. He did many gigs page turning music for other, accompanying others, teaching young kids, playing boring church masses etc. There is work, if you have the right attitude, and some talent, but most will not be able to make it. The attitude that say's he will take almost any gig, I think is what matters. Did pit crew for a high school musical at $13/your (ugh!), not $150/hour like at the funeral. But the underpaid gigs can be used to make needed connections.

The good news is that a degree is not required for farming. In fact I none of my neighbours have degrees, and more then a few didn't finish school. They are all millionares, with a less bleak future then most uni grads.

Last week, I attended a program at New York University presenting the life and thought of a recently-deceased German philosopher. The program was well done -- it was organized by a genuine intellectual, who was a friend and disciple of Jacques Derrida, and some of her students. (Lots of people in academia are respectable careerists -- she's a thinker.) The former head of the German department attended. A humane and thoughtful man, he put the department on the map without a Ph.D. I think they finally gave him one for appearance's sake. Good evening, among good people.

But I kept thinking -- in a way, these people are intellectual froth on a system that's circling the drain. They've been supported by a stable social system and a clear educational path. I think Derrida told us some essential facts about language, which affect all our endeavors. But the university system keeps having to find projects to justify itself. It's another institution that assumes endless growth, which is even now faltering.

Gore Vidal skipped college -- all the knowledge is available directly, if you discipline yourself to acquire it. I got a couple of lifelong friends from college -- but a highschool journalism course with a strict teacher and wide reading are the basis of my career in editing and writing. College is a good social experience, which may now be more expensive than it's worth.

My kids' experience with higher education varied. Elder daughter took illustration, supported herself with catering. At age 40, she went back to school, made up necessary math and science courses, got a RN certificate and a Master's Degree in nursing, and now works at a major hospital. Eldest son worked off and on in residential schools and institutions, and has just got an MA in Counseling and a job with troubled kids in middle school. (I don't remember junior high being as fraught as it seems now.) Youngest daughter went to Oberlin, had a blast, works at whatever catches her interest. Middle son took the Army over college and made sergeant in his second tour of Iraq. Youngest son plays drums, keeps books for a messenger company, got enough microbiology in college to keep up with his RN wife, mother of his four children.

Their erratic career paths never bothered me -- I've always gone for the next interesting job and never earned more than needed for expenses. It's been good to see how each of them has taken hold in maturity. Now I wonder whether they're ready for a post-cheap-energy world -- especially the very young grand-kids. I may or may not last another decade; they're liable to be around for the bumpy trip down.

What's particularly gratifying is how close the kids are to one another, after a childhood in which they constantly fought us and one another. Most of the credit goes to my British wife, who, friends said, ran the family like the sports mistress of a high-class boarding school. (She and I separated when the kids were teenagers -- I lived nearby for four years before moving to NYC with my new spouse, together thirty years now). My wife did a brilliant thing when all the kids had gone -- she sold the house we'd remodeled to accommodate them all and built herself a new place. Now the kids can't go back home -- they can only go visit Mum on her own ground.

Thank you for that post. It was well-written and beautiful in it's essence, especially the first part of the post. I'm going to college myself and the idiocy and immaturity of my classmates (mostly men though, the women are different) is making me wonder about the social convention of college. It's become a rite of ritual.

I'm very interested in what I study, but going to college has turned me into a misanthrope. I thought college, at least the quite high-ranked one I got into would be different from high school. Now I realize that that isn't the case. The people are better generally, but it's still a poor subset.

I'm in favour of total elitism. Only people who are fanatically devoted to their academic fields would get in, scotch-free. I also understand such a system isn't socially possible. Would 90% of the workforce want to subsidize a bunch of people, and not all of them cancer researchers and engineers, and their free tuition so they can later look down their noses on the people who paid their tuition? Well, no.

But going to college has taught me that most people never look past the cover of the book. In fact, for most people, the status of who reads what book is more important than the book itself. If that makes sense.

Yet, for all my misanthropy, I can't fail to notice that for such a miserable bunch of people, the world is getting better by the day, mostly(or has so far). I'm a lot less certain everything's going to hell the way I was a few years ago. Humanity is at it's worst at the darkest hour, but the darkest hour has more than a few times become our finest hour too. There's even a part of me that wishes for there to be a major cataclysmic event. Only to escape the pointlessless of modern life with it's meaningless consumerism as it's modern guiding north star.

I understand now why men of old pined for war in the 1910s. War, as horrible as it is, is a force that gives us meaning. Disaster, of any rate, make us become alive, it sharpens us and concetrates us. Above all, it peels away all the uselessness of life and the pulse you feel is as raw as ever.

Then, of course, you realize that there is a price to pay. In wars or major disasters alike. Never again, men promise themselves, will we allow ourselves to become like this again. But they forget the feeling they had before the war.
And perhaps this is part of the reason why social catastrophe is so popular psychologically. We want a defining moment, for ourselves and for humanity. Something that will push aside all triviliaties.

Of course, until we get to that point. Then we fear what we have wished for.

For many, perhaps most young people, it is probably a good idea to do something out of academia for at least a couple of years before they go to college. This gives them some added maturity and a feel for the real world without a degree. You can never tell if a degree in itself will be useful for a particular career but with a little added maturity one will probably get a lot more out of one's studies and have a better appreciation for having the opportunity to go to college.

As far as this possibly being our finest hour, that seems unlikely to me.

With respect to war or some similar crisis, this does tend to concentrate the mind and give one's actions a sense of purpose. However, my guess is that a lot of veterans of recent wars might have a very different perspective than those who fought in one of the World Wars.

Sadly, we are in a crisis now but our leaders and most of our fellow citizens do not realize it.

As far as the meaning of life, well that is an age old issue, at least for those who have the luxury of time to think about it.

"War, as horrible as it is, is a force that gives us meaning."

If you haven't already, you should consider reading a book called War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges.

I'm always astonished at people's attitudes about college. Including, after the fact, my own children. I got out of the army at 20 utterly determined to get an education that would support me as a more respected member of society than who the army kept telling me I was (cannon fodder). I took an engineering degree because it seemed to point me towards work that would both earn good wages and involve me with the type of work that seemed to suit my personality. I never considered any other type of work.

Now most kids seem to have no serious notions about who they are or what it actually takes to support themselves. Miraculously my two daughters have been able to support themselves quite well within their degree specialties. One is a dietition at a hospital, the other works as a consultant in the dairy industry. I worried about that one, her degree is in equine nutrition. But she has worked really hard to be successful.

There may be some hope. My son refused to finish high school, was next to impossible to live with, and didn't for most of his 20's. Then in his late 20's he became a concrete mason, got married, and asked to permanently move in with us to live as a multi-generational family as we were retiring. He now has a good attitude, is street wise, expects to help with projects on our mini farm, wants us to be more self sufficient, and accepts that collapse is coming.

I graduated from college with a Bachelor's in chemistry in 2010. Two years and a series of crummy temp jobs later, I gave up on a career in that field. The crisis that began in 2008 really changed everything: more people are competing for fewer jobs, and there are no prospects for a recovery. The situation is identical for people with advanced degrees, so grad school is a waste.

In response to everyone talking about lazy young people who won't get jobs: would you expect them to be more or less motivated after reading articles from this site? Why should my generation prepare for the future when it's becoming increasingly clear that there is no future?

Be cause you live, this is the time in which you live and these are the realities of that time. It is just our lot in life to deal with the world as we find it.

As a young (GenX) parent of two young adults, I don't have any practical advice for johnnyk. Just some ideas.

- be mobile, apply for any job where there are jobs
- consider the military, it sucks but they feed you
- apply for any "government" job you qualify for, anywhere it happens to be, the feds in the US will soon go on an intern/recent grad hiring binge to replace about half the boomers they will proably bribe to retire real soon
- consider going to another country and teaching english

(Both mine are doing the last one there, but they both majored in the language of a country they chose. However, not knowing the language isn't a barrier.)

apply for any "government" job you qualify for, anywhere it happens to be, the feds in the US will soon go on an intern/recent grad hiring binge to replace about half the boomers they will probably bribe to retire real soon

They are pushing/encouraging people into early retirement...they are NOT however filling those positions vacated. It's all accelerated attrition. The only growth industry has been DHS and military contracts - science is getting cut to the bone.

I'm 21 and thus probably the youngest regular commenter on this site. I'm too young to remember the great Swedish financial crisis of the early 1990's, and a few of my teenage years were spent in good economic times. A few years behind me, though, comes a generation who don't have any memory of the world without the crisis. Think about that. I'm interested in history, and what is remarkable to me is how calm the post-war period has been economically. Before then, there were lots of economic crises with relatively small intervals of booms - capitalism entered a new phase after the war. There were a few small ripples in the world economy with crisis in Asia in the 1990's, Argentina, Sweden and a few others. And of course, the dot-com bubble. But the calm was finally and truly shattered with the crisis we're still in now. A few who commented on this Drum Beat seem to think of that as some sort of anomaly, and think of a return to the calm capitalism they have experienced their entire life. But of course, that was all just an anomaly as well. Couldn't this crisis, as devastating as it has been, just be a ripple as well, like the dot-com bubble? I mean, nothing has really changed.

I'm young and still in college and younger than you. But where I live, there isn't any unemployment crisis. The unemployment rate for college grads fresh out of university is what.. 4%? I keep hearing about how "everything has changed" but it hasn't. It depends a lot on where you live.

From what I gather, things aren't bad in Northern Europe. Also, a lot of unemployment in those countries ethnically concentrated(i.e. immigrants from poor African countries on welfare). Just like in America, if you're black you have an unemployment rate of 14%. If you're white, it's closer to 6.8% which isn't bad, but if you're a white college grad, things are not so bad. And yes, temp jobs out of college is an old story. Go read any magazine article in the 1980s about the "perpetual temp-employed college grad". It goes on for a few years and then stops. It always does.

And anyway, if things are really going to bad, it's going to be truly bad for everyone. Better to be young and heatlhy than around 50 years without much in the retirement bank and possibly without any children like some people. That's a far worse position.

Eurozone unemployment rate at record high

The rate of unemployment in the eurozone has hit a record high of 12%, official figures have shown.

The number of people unemployed in the 17 member states rose by 33,000 during February, to hit 19.07 million, the statistics agency Eurostat said.

The highest jobless rates were 26.4% in Greece, although this figure was from December, and 26.3% in Spain....

..."The rise in unemployment was the 22nd in a row, making this labour market downturn the most prolonged since the early 1990s."

Youth unemployment remains an area of particular concern, with 188,000 people aged under 25 joining the ranks of the unemployed in February.

More than half the workforce in this age group are now out work in Spain and Greece, and almost a quarter out of a job across the eurozone as a whole.

"I think under those circumstances you're getting to the point at which social unrest is likely to mount, because basically the youngsters coming out of school and universities just can't find jobs," Commerzbank's Peter Dixon told the BBC.

Hey, me and my 2 cats resent that statement!

I make enough money to get by. I have a new surfboard, a hot tub, 3 wetsuits (different thicknesses) and a car that gets good mileage but that I don't need to drive. I walk to work and the market and to the ocean. I have a good bicycle. I know where the good waves are and where fish live. I'm saving the shellfish and algae for the hard times.

Why is this such a bad position?

I have wisdom, perspective, mental health.

The young people I see are speeding around in circles, insecure, competing, abusing drugs, eating crap, watching TV. I am grateful every day to know what I know and be who i am. I don't need to figure out how to get by.

I have lived thru peak times. The most of everything. Amazing riches. Young people of today sure as ship aren't going to experience that.

Don't cry for me.

Yeah, by the standards of pre-WWII, this "financial crisis" is nothing.

A mismatch between job performed and degree granted is nothing new. It was true when I started out in the 70s and it is true now. A "lucky" few get to actually work in a field that is directly related to their actual degree. The super successful like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs don't need college degree in the first place.

I graduated from university with a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1970, straight into a recession. I worked at digging graves and hauling garbage, and then got a job as a computer operator. I worked at that for a couple of years while taking courses at university, and then I went back to university and got a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1974. Then I got a job in the oil industry and never looked back through a series of jobs at different companies.

Over the years I have picked up a quiver full of college certificates in accounting, land administration, geology and other fields just because I wanted to know what other people were doing. You should never stop learning. The degree in chemistry was a waste of money at the time because there were very few jobs for chemists then, or even now for that matter. Computer science was a much better investment in terms of employment opportunities. However, later in my career the chem degree turned out to be very useful because I knew things other people didn't.

The key to success, though, is never giving up. Even when you're 6 feet down in a grave with a shovel, you have to remind yourself that the only career direction from there is up. And grave digging doesn't pay that bad, really.

It's not true that there is no future. The doomsters on this site don't think there is, but in reality life goes on despite what they think. The ones that give up are the ones who don't succeed, so I guess for them there is no future.

I have previously talked about my proposal to my (then) boss in 1988 to cut my salary in half, in exchange for an equity interest in deals I generated. I suspected that there were layoffs coming, and I wanted to make myself pretty much layoff proof, by moving my compensation from highest to lowest in the company. My wife, who was working, thought I was nuts, and money was pretty tight for a while. But a year later I found a pretty nice shallow oil field (after five dry holes and one marginal oil well on the same prospect), and two weeks of peak cash flow from the field recovered what I had given up in annual salary. I've been managing joint venture programs since 1993.

I think you nailed it, a lot people prefer money now. Basically you got a bottom line with more or less small likelihood for unlimited successes. Then you sell things without a price for breach of contract you basically get money now with a small risk for a high unlimited cost.

There are of course some limit somewhere but it could be far out and ill defined, it would be very hard to hide a Ghawar between the oil wells in US and then bankcruptcy hit there is nothing more to get.

It's not true that there is no future. The doomsters on this site don't think there is, but in reality life goes on despite what they think.

As a card carrying member of the doomers club I can assure you that every doomer I know, knows for an absolute fact that there is a future. Not only that but I actually agree with most of what you said.

I think where we differ is that I don't think it is fair to the younger generation to tell them that our past life experiences are an adequate model on which to base their own preparation for the future. I'm convinced they are in completely uncharted waters. While certificates and various university degrees, especially in the sciences or engineering may have practically guaranteed a comfortable place in society in the past. That was then! I think going forward being a competent jack of all trades with practical hands on skills will be more and more valuable for survival. At least that is what I keep telling my own son. BTW, I have a hunch that grave digging with a hand shovel will probably a growth industry for some time to come...


The younger generation, at least in my extended family, is more focused on getting advanced degrees in things like petroleum engineering and economics. You have to go where the money is, and that's where it is. That's what we taught the youngsters. A Bachelor's degree is pretty commonplace nowadays, so you need a Masters or even better a PhD to build up your creds. And if you want to get into the real money, you have to go offshore and spend some years getting experience in some pretty strange places before you can ease up and settle into a cozy job back home. We call it, "paying your dues".

Of course, if education is not your forte, then gravedigging would be a good career choice. It is a growth industry as the Baby Boomers age. However, digging with a shovel doesn't have much of a future. We only used a shovel to square off the corners and did the real grunt work with a backhoe. Low man on the totem pole got to shovel, but if you're low man on the totem pole, you should get really good with that shovel and they'll move you up to backhoe operator.

Don't think they're going to back to hand-digging graves - if they can't get diesel fuel they'll get an electric backhoe, and if they have to, they'll power it with solar cells on the roof of the funeral home.

The key to it is to dig really nice, square and precise graves. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Once you get a reputation for good-looking graves, all the funeral homes will have your company on speed-dial. After that, you can move up from backhoe operator to graveyard foreman, and then to cemetery management. As I said, when you're 6 feet down in a grave with a shovel, the only career path is up.

Even being a grave digger requires people skills, but at least you never have to act cheerful or know any stupid jokes. Act sad and sympathetic all the time and you'll do well.

First rule of holes, when your'e in one, STOP digging.

Hmmm....maybe we should make a rule that to become a Congressman or Senator you have to spend 1 year as a grave digger first.

"It's not true that there is no future. The doomsters on this site don't think there is..."

Who has said there "is no future"? Saying the future will be very different than the one most are investing in isn't the same as saying there will not be a future. Most of the doomier members here have just reached the following conclusions:

1. Humanity is in dramatic overshoot in relation to the bio-physical carrying capacity of the planet.

2. The growth based, capitalistic, free market systems that have enabled and promoted this overshoot condition are largely based on increasing the extraction of finite resources, mainly for the energy and materials required to support an increasing population. Current systems for providing food, shelter, and water that this population requires to survive are entirely dependent upon current and growing levels of extraction.

3. This process is an open cycle; resources are not being replaced and wastes are not being accounted for. Depletion and destruction are a scientific and mathematical certainty. Awareness of this condition has not resulted in responses commensurate to solving the predicament of overshoot. Population continues to increase and extraction of resources remain at or near all time highs; complexity increases. Humanity's collective response is to throw more technology at the problem, requiring yet more resources, promoting more growth. Individual and local responses only serve to, perhaps, soften the impacts of the collective decline, mainly for those individuals and small groups who implement these responses.

4. Financial systems have divorced themselves from true, bio-physical capital, enabling far too many claims on too few and declining real resources. History and science show us that this condition increasingly lacks balance and can only be temporary. While tipping points are being reached, our collective response has been to throw more faux wealth into the mix; a short term solution which ultimately increases the imbalance between what 7+billion humans need to survive and their resource base.

5. Planetary systems are being changed, possibly beyond the range in which humans evolved to thrive in, certainly beyond the survivability of many other lifeforms. This process is accelerating; reduction and simplification of our biosphere proceeds unabated. The window of survivabilty for many/most species is closing in a geological moment.

I'm sure I missed some things. There will be a future. It's just a question of if it's one we can survive in. Meanwhile, the canaries in the proverbial coal mine are dropping like dead flys.

The skills one will need to thrive survive this future will be very different than what most are being taught today. Choose carefully.

The issue boils down to who will pay the debt that has been accumulated over the last 30 years. Right now, the boomers and depression era folks are in charge and making sure the younger generation pays the tab by not allowing the debt bubble, which they own as an asset, to implode. Eventually though the Gen Xers and Millennials might figure out that they are getting screwed and insist that the losses be taken and the debt burden reduced thus shifting the pain back to the generations that caused it.

to be honest, I think paper debt, for the most part, will be erased in significant portions....

follow me if you want

- while debt forgiveness went out of style with Rome, there is a lesson there, look at what happened to Rome becuase of over-extention

- democracy fails to function becuase not enough people are engaged, they are distracted (Huxley was correct huh?)

- at some point when energy (food, gas, diesel, whatever) passes a price point, any government left standing will have to fend off a revolution by either taxing the hell out of the wealthy (see U.S. Great Depression) or just forgiving debt, back to zero, poof

- there will be much pain and sorrow but right at the breaking point, the bigger nationas will bend, history repeats

Some debt can be defaulted or forgiven while other debt involves promises that can not be kept like pensions and medicare. I agree that somehow the debt will be erased either through inflation as the Fed prefers or through default/forgiveness or as we are currently doing a combination of both.

Eventually though the end result is reduced living standards and much pain and sorrow as you say. Japan and Europe offer the opposite ends of this spectrum, inflation vs default, but the end result will be the same for both. Should be rather instructive for the US.

The tumors that grow most aggressively at their margins are often necrotic at the core from lack of oxygen and other nutrition. The impending failure to supply nutrition and resulting necrosis results in the release of cytokines that induce more aggressive growth at the periphery, sort of like low-interest rate Keynesian stimulus. The growth increases most in areas proximal to energy even as thousands of necrotic main streets in the U.S. begin to decompose. The cancer still has a lot of territory to invade even as large areas are cut off from growth adequate to forestall deterioration. How long can the growing cancer’s metabolic needs be met? Ten, twenty...... fifty years? And then what will the emaciated, tumor-ridden face of human civilization have to say for itself? Nothing, it will just stare into the abyss and wonder what could have been as it’s short and mendacious existence blinks out with a final puff of fossil fuel smoke. Every day is a fool's day on this planet, but enjoy the growth and the meal, it won't last forever and neither will we.

Thanks! I really needed that.
Leanan's economic speculation was so depressing.

LOL! Only on TOD could someone read Dopamine's comment and find it more cheerful and uplifting than Leanan's...

Yeah, trying to be funny, but serious as well.
This fricken growth dependent economy is killing
everything we pretend to care about, including ourselves.
Wait, what am I saying. I don't even care about 'ourselves'
anymore. Enough is enough.

Reed, To be clear, I'm not buying Leanan's perception of an economic recovery. I certainly don't see it as a general trend that effects the majority. A few isolated pockets of growth in the short term do not impress me much. As for attempting to continue with the growth paradigm, I agree with you, it is suicide...

I find reality easier to deal with, without the wishful thinking. The US economy in its current incarnation is mortally wounded, problems in Europe or Asia may help with the short term illusion that things are getting better. They aren't!

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Bob Dylan


Hey! Dopamine is supposed to make you fell good!

Remember that one about how to tell the difference between a recession and a depression. If your neighbor is unemployed its a recession. If you are unemployed its a depression.

Officially the economy is in a recession if the past two quarters each had negative GDP growth. Since per capita GDP growth is lower than GDP growth, something that is technically not a recession can sure feel like one. That's pretty much where we've been since hitting the 2009 bottom. We are recovering slowly, i.e. employment is rising, but painfully slowly.

Those who work in the oil sector and managers of companies are out of the recession, but for the rest of us - its the same old, same old.


If you were 21-25 year old boy, where would you go? How could this boy just show up somewhere and then flow with opportunity?

For general advice, I would refer you to my ELP Plan essay (link up the thread).

Regarding Oil Patch work, for professional work, petroleum engineers are in great demand, but it's very technical and demanding, and I would assume difficult to get into the programs (with very limited number of students). But there is need for all kinds of professional skills, from accounting to IT.

Regarding field work, becoming a roughneck is always a possibility, but if you value your fingers and limbs, I would advise focusing on something like welding and electrical work, or trucking. If you get a commercial driver's license, and if you can pass a drug test, I suspect you could probably find a job in almost any Mid-continent Oil Patch town. You might be able to work as a driver, while training as a welder or electrician.

And as we build a "perpetually increasing" supply base, built on thousands of wells headed toward stripper well status, we are going to need more and more oil field pumpers, who monitor oil wells and do simple maintenance on production facilities.

I am 57 year old software guy. I asked because I write and have a readership over in another blogging segment that actually has some very high numbers.

A lot of those readers are young men, 25-35. And many of are struggling with "modern life". The ideal dream for many is to leave the country, move somewhere else. To live a location independent lifestyle somewhere outside of the United States. Or to come back into the country, from time to time, get cash and then get back out. I saw this maybe as a way for some to work in, first, a place where men have the natural advantage of being a man. Second, as a place where they could spend a few years, and build cash, and even maybe get skills that were applicable internationally.

So is there any way we could communicate and I could pull together some more specific suggestions for a posting? My opinion of these guys is that they are younger versions, less scientific, more bitter, versions of TOD readers. They are decent people, decent men, young men, that have sort been the castaways of "modern life" and they are searching for meaning, direction, advice.

Click on "westexas" for my email address.

Years ago, Jay Hanson (the old Dieoff.org website) did an interview in which he predicted that the biggest problem to result from Peak Oil would be unemployed angry males. And for a while, I have been predicting something like a student loan march on Washington, and arguably that was a factor behind the Occupy movement.

Not that anyone pays attention to Peak Oilers anyway, but I have been advocating for ASPO-USA to seek out people who may or not agree with us about Peak Oil, but who recognize that we desperately need reinvigorated vocational and agricultural training programs.

Most of these guys didn't buy in to student loan thing. Data shows that most student loans were taken by women. They sort of ridicule the claims of degrees being tickets to paradise, especially given some the degrees that were pursued. It's hard to classify them in one bag. Some are very libertarian, some are liberal. Most write well. I can tell from the comments. It is remarkably a similar vibe to the Drum Beat without the science and tech. But all sense that shoving to the side of young men.

I did some data analysis. There were 4 million births per year, roughly from most of 1988 on into the 90s when it drops a bit, but not much. So whether they go to school or not, in one way or another 4 million young people come piling into the workplace in a economy that celebrates when it adds 236,000 jobs in a month.

Many modern jobs are sort of gender neutral, except the market tends to favor young, attractive females over any males of the same age. Many are sort of the "kidults", that are kind of opting out. They don't find the women available to them to be worth the effort of signing up for corporate slavery. And they are adamant they won't marry. But all in all they are interesting group. Basically they are the boys that aren't nerds.

libertarian and liberals

Have you reminded them what signing up for a stint in the Military actually can mean from the downside POV? (have them avoid the poverty draft)

I'm in my early 30s and have basically decided to quietly drop out of American life. There are others like me, but perhaps not as radical. This has been going on behind the scenes since the 90s (see Fight Club) with little fanfare.

Personally speaking, I'm never going to be a made a slave. They are going to have to find another sucker.

You are right. There are others like you. I too am early 30s and have been disconnecting from "American" life for the past few years.

Best of luck to you on your journey.

Sounds interesting, maybe I should pop on over to your blog. Got a link?

I'm with enemy of the state, post a link to your blog.

Alan Drake was in Dallas a few years ago as part of a seminar on electrified rail, and I drove him to the local NPR station for a radio interview, along with a local transit guy.

The assistant producer had an interesting comment. He said that he lived in a New Urbanism area downtown, along a mass transit line, and he didn't have a car. He had a bike that he used for the short ride to work. In any case, he complained that as soon as women in Dallas found out that he had no car, they dropped him like a hot potato. He basically became invisible to them. I think that I suggested to him that he start attending Sierra Club meetings and become involved in local mass transit organizations, as a way to meet women who were part of the secret auto free subculture in Dallas.

How long can one expect this boom in Texas to go on? I thought Eagle Ford was already in decline
is this just to sell more shovels and picks before people really figure what is going on..I bet there is a lot of wheeling and dealing going on there..

Depends on the price of NG and oil. Boom can go on longer than the production climb in EF. It'll just move to lesser shales once those are done.

A wireline supervisor making $180,000 a year? Hey, that's roughly my net worth in a year's work. Is that an April Fool joke? Heck, pedal to the metal, lets go faster as we approach the New Earth (Dis)Order...

E. Swanson

Nope. 25 year old high school graduate, making $180K.

Related to the owner, I'll bet.

Anecdotes are entertainment. Statistics can sometimes be used to infer information.

These are the average salaries currently being paid by the oil and gas industry in Alberta, according to: http://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo/Content/RequestAction.asp?aspAction=GetHo...

Geologist, Geophysicist: $146,004
Petroleum Engineer: $125,405
Welder: $116,142
Electrical Contractor: $112,157
Mechanical Engineer: $110,063
Drilling Rig Manager: $109,972
Reclaimation Specialist: $105,239
Steamfitter/Pipefitter: $95,997
Engineering Technologist: $86,775
Process Operator: $81,622
Wireline Operator: $70,324
Heavy Equipment Operator: $68,249
Truck Driver: $66,434
Helper/Laborer: $49,716

Wireline operators are at the cheap end of the scale. To really make money in the trades you need to be a welder or electrical contractor.

A Truck Driver makes 66k ? and people tell me it's not about luck. Yea Right.

Electrician 120 k to 150k

ironworker up tp 200 k

heavy hauler operator up to 200k

OT is the big decider on where you land.

As a general rule....tq certified $40-50 per hour not counting benefits etc.


Probably not related to the owner. 180K is typical for cased-hole wireline engineers. I'm not sure what open hole engineers are making- I've been out of that game a while.

Compensation is typically comprised of a base salary plus a monthly bonus based on a percentage of the engineer's truck revenue. Bonus percentages vary, but 4 to 6% is common. Considering that individual trucks can make 200K+ revenue per month, the base and bonus can add up pretty quickly.

The downside- 100+ hour weeks.

Move to the gold rush, and you can make it too. $60K and a truck to start. Goes up fast if you can actually think and do, or manage. I've had customers offer to hire my techs for a year at a pop, $150 per hour. But I can't spare them. And they're probably worth more.....

Trouble is, I'm well past retirement age. After I got my Masters Degree, I worked in the aerospace industry making $14k a year and had more money than I knew what to do with. Putting that in perspective, that's $7 an hour, which is now below minimum wage. My last full time employment ended in '86 and I then found another part time "contract" situation which ended in '92. The last thing I did was a software project in which I re-wrote a partially complete Windows program in MS DOS, then left Atlanta. Needless to say, I can't compete with the younger crowd that has the latest skills and lots of mindless enthusiasm...

E. Swanson

it is pretty incredible what is happening in the Oil Patch in West Texas, and presumably virtually the entire Mid-continent, between the Mexican and Canadian borders.

It doesn't stop at the Canadian border. The two main oil producing provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, are booming and experiencing a shortage of skilled labor. And it's not just oil sands that are booming - Saskatchewan doesn't have any oil sands. Conventional drilling rigs are popping up like mushrooms across the landscape.

As in the US, it's energy driving most of it, but food production is also up significantly. Alberta and Saskatchewan have about 3/4 of Canada's farmland between the two of them, prices are up, and they didn't experience the drought that devastated much of the US farming industry. Each of Alberta and Saskatchewan is about the size of Texas, so they have a lot of land.

Yes, there is resentment in the rest of Canada about their economic growth, but those two provinces have small populations and vast natural resources which are in growing demand world-wide. The other 8 provinces with 85% of Canada's population have to get by with about 25% of Canada's farmland and 5% of its oil reserves. That makes life a lot tougher.

@ TOD posters whose kids won't leave home (above messages)

People are portable, though. People can move around to match jobs and opportunities.

I know oh so many who work the two weeks on and off with Westjet flights home. It beats being underemployed at wherever you call home. I was lucky to be able to live where I worked and am now retired, but I am thinking of returning to work as a carpenter/welder. We are so fortunate in Canada to have the oil industry in these uncertain times.

This may be a dink thing to say, but there is work out there if you want to go find it. Yes, there has been a terrible recession but work can be found if you hit the road with an open mind and willingness to either train/learn a specific useful skill, or simply go find work. Those with kids at home refusing to find their way need to nudge them towards the door, somehow.

I always think about what we would put up with if our society functioned like a village? Would we tolerate whole groups of people unwilling to go gather wood or carry water? Of course not. When my son was just out of high school I gave him a few options to get him motivated. He could stay at home for free if he went to college, I could help out 1/3 if he traveled away to university, or he could live at home for a short while if he worked but he had to pay room and board and was expected to begin his own independent life asap. I suggested an energy field so he chose industrial electrician. He now has his own riverfront home with several acres at age 29. He is proud of himself and his mom and dad are also proud. The hardest part was that first step forward. After his pre-app course, everything fell into place in logical succession. There were some lonely terrible jobs along the way for him, but we all get through them and so did he. I know it is hard to raise children, but it is unending source of pleasure after you get past the conflicts and struggles towards independence. There were years when my son thought I was a total jerk because I was firm, but he came around as he grew older.

For those with kids on the couch I wish you all the best as you move them forward. Clearly, they can't layabout forever. I am reminded at the "quit buying cheese" commercial a few years ago. I have known people who had to change their house locks and their kids still broke in to go back home. They were in tears about it and it was an awful situation. I wish you the best of luck as you resolve this. Perhaps counselling would help put things in perspective.



I assume that people in Canada are free to move to Alberta if they choose, is that correct? Eventually Alberta should see the people they need. How difficult is it for people to get a work visa in Canada if they are from the US or Mexico?


In Canada, people are free to move anywhere they want. It's written into the Canadian constitution.

The ongoing historical problem has been people's unwillingness to relocate to other regions, but that can be changed by prolonged periods of unemployment. For instance, Fort McMurray, Alberta, the major city in the heart of the oil sands, is sometimes called "Newfoundland's second largest city" because of the number of Newfoundlanders who moved there after the cod fishery - once Newfoundland's largest industry - collapsed due to overfishing. In Newfoundland, only the capital city of Saint John's is larger.

Canada is one of the easiest countries in the world to get a work visa for. The main factor is that immigrants have to pass a series of tests (the "point system"). They get points for having skills in high demand, having post-secondary education, having relatives in Canada, and most importantly - having a job offer in hand. If they can get enough points, they are accepted (unlike in the US where they have all kinds of quotas and weird arcane rules). Some American companies just across the border from Canadian cities have set up employment centers in the Canada so they can move their offshore workers into North America and get them working. (e.g Microsoft, in Seattle WA just across the border from Vancouver, BC, or more accurately the affluent Vancouver suburb of Richmond, which we sometimes call "Lichmond" because most of the population is ethnic Chinese and it has some truly awesome Chinese restaurants.)

But to get back to the topic at hand, the problem of worker shortages in Alberta is easily soluble, but the problem of providing housing, schools, roads, hospitals and other services for all those migrant and immigrant workers is huge. This has been a problem since Alberta was carved out of the Northwest Territories over 100 years ago, and it continues to be a problem now. It's just not that easy to create new cities out of the wilderness, and much of Alberta is still close to being wilderness.

China's trying to deal with their housing bubble:

In guidelines published over the weekend, authorities in Shanghai directed banks to stop issuing loans to individuals attempting the purchase of a third home.

Beijing announced that single residents will now be allowed to purchase only one home. Both cities said they would strictly enforce a 20% capital gains tax on income earned in property sales.

Shale oil production costs USD 82 more than conventional oil - expert

The difference in the production cost of the shale oil, known as unconventional oil, and crude oil, known as conventional oil, is estimated at nearly USD 82 a barrel, a Kuwaiti oil expert said.

"The production of a barrel of shale oil costs nearly USD 85 compared with only USD 3-5 for a barrel of crude oil," prominent oil expert Waleed Al-Bazaz said in an interview with KUNA Monday.

But this "oil expert" went on to to prove that he is no expert at all. This "expert" confuses shale oil with oil shale like a lot of other "experts"s do.

He ruled out the possibility of shale oil replacing crude oil in the near future. "The claims that some world countries will not be in need of conventional oil by 2025 are unrealistic due to the growing demand for crude oil and the environmental problems of the use of shale oil." Al-Bazaz stated that shale oil is an organic-rich fine grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen, a solid mixture of chemical compounds, from which oil can be produced.

The article is about one page in length and the rest of it shows Al-Bazaz is really confused. He goes on to state that shale oil can be used in its solid form for power generation but that shale gas is found trapped in shale formations and this has become a very important source of natural gas in the US in past years.

It seems that the world is flooded with oil and energy experts these days, most of whom haven't a clue as to what they are talking about.

Ron P.

Actual Methane Emissions Measured in Manhattan Show No Advantage to Natural Gas: Two Reports

We now have empirical evidence that current steps of continuing and increasing natural gas use would only accelerate climate change. Two reports ... resulted from a study commissioned by Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) of Damascus, PA in the Delaware River Basin, in order to better understand leakage from natural gas distribution systems in the context of global climate concerns.

The level of leakage measured shows that natural gas should not be considered a "bridge fuel". In November and December of 2012, Gas Safety, Inc. recorded natural gas fugitive emission data during a 160-mile survey on Manhattan streets, and then did extensive analysis of the data collected and previous leakage estimating schemes.

... The actual measurements in this report added to measured production losses and estimated transmission losses produces a total gas loss above 5%. This number is well above the critical benchmark level of less than 3.2%, at which level natural gas no longer retains an advantage over other forms of fossil fuels with regard to climate change. Because methane is at least 20 times more powerful a GHG than CO2, the measured 2.8% leaked in Manhattan more than cancels out the 50% less CO2 from all the rest burned.

REPORTS available: http://www.damascuscitizensforsustainability.org/2013/03/manhattan-natur...

Best hopes for accelerating climate change.

Its pretty dry here for this time of year. How am I supposed to 'adapt' to that? Charge more for my product?

Very interesting comment.

It dawned on me last night that the last significant climate change period upset BAU so significantly that the three major religions spawned from it.

I watched a thing about Egypt followed by the long documentary on the Hittites. Those guys plus the Persions found themselves in a position to cope with the "great flood" that created the Black Sea and the desertification of other areas.

An op-ed by THOMAS HOMER-DIXON appeared in today's NYT:

The Tar Sands Disaster

E. Swanson

Interesting read - thanks for the link.

Funny how he doesn't mention climate change as one of the downsides to tar sands development.

And also notable was the implication that Canada is not already something of a petro-state, or a least a state with a great reliance on primary extraction of resources. That strike me as naïve.

On a related subject, Harvey Mead, who was the first ever «Commissar to the enviromnement» in Québec around 1990, published today an important essay where he concludes that the Green movement failed - despite all the warnings, BAU prevailed and we're headed toward an inevitable disaster.

«The only thing we can can do, he says, is to try to save the essential, while we watch how wealthy countries will manage the breakdown of the economic and social system».

The article is in French and I don't have the patience to translate it today, but I assume that Google translate will allow you to make the most out of it.


The inevitable clash

Harvey Mead does not believe in this process of trying to give a financial value to ecosystems so they are better taken into account by economic logic. "Currently, the environment and the economy are fundamentally irreconcilable. "The judge also severely all those environmentalists who argue that continued economic growth is possible if one undertakes a green industrial revolution that would support, among others, on renewable energy sources and processes generation taking into account the life cycle of goods. "It's too late for that. We no longer have the time, "he says.

...a long history of a lack of awareness that economies and the environment ever needed to be reconciled.

You beat me to it with the translation. Mead's next paragraph continues the theme:

Whatever one says about the dematerialization of our economies, that would, among other things, the growth of the service sector and digital technologies, they still do not know how to grow without consuming more raw materials, starting with fossil fuels . Because these resources are not unlimited, rarity and therefore their prices can not increase continuously until they weigh too heavily in the balance.

Further along, he mentions the EROEI problem:

The facts seem to agree with these predictions. The rate of energy return during the golden years where oil lay the ground was almost already refined unit of energy invested in 100 units extracted. This ratio has fallen from 1 in 25 in the new oil fields, it is about 1 in 20 for natural gas, it would be about 1 to 5 for the oil sands and shale gas, and almost one to 1 for corn ethanol. The renewable energy sources would not be a great help, says Harvey Mead. Solar panels do not exceed a ratio of 1 to 10 and the wind is barely better, then it is estimated that this ratio would be the bare minimum to allow our companies to maintain their lifestyle and that alternative sources not always count for almost nothing in their energy supply.

He doesn't even get around to the problem of carbon emissions, which would require a massive reduction (as great as 80% for developed nations) to minimize the changes in future climate and weather...

E. Swanson

I think he alludes to emissions with "the environment and the economy are fundamentally irreconcilable" part. I've noticed that there is a tendency for some folks to not over-emphasize climate change and CO2, lest they detract from the larger point of an over-arching conundrum; systemically, we're screwed.

Thanks for the quick translation guys. I'm actually a pro translator, but I feel lazy today, enjoying my Easter holiday!

I can not tell a lie, Mr. Google did it...

E. Swanson

somebody said tar sands development was good because they were cleaning up the biggest and most epic oil spill in natural history.

That's kind of like saying you're cleaning up all the Dog Doo in the neighborhood so you can throw it into your High Powered Industrial Fan.

No, you're gathering up all the Dog Doo in the neighborhood so you can sell it as "Pet Produced Organic Fertilizer" to affluent suburban homeowners.

It's all a matter of marketing and perception. Look at it from the right angle and it all looks good.

While apart from perception, the reality is that we are putting all the Tar Sands product into our Industrial, High-powered Fans and blowing it all into the atmosphere.

Some of it is a matter of actual matter.

Canada has always been a natural resource exporter, starting in the 1600's with the fur trade, not to mention lumber and fish. It didn't really develop a significant industrial base until WWII, and that was as a direct result of WWII. Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, 2 years ahead of the US, and undertook a massive expansion of industry to produce guns, tanks, aircraft, and other war materials. It was a massive effort for such a lightly populated country, but the main objective of the government of the day was to industrialize the economy. In WWI Canada had supplied troops as cannon fodder in the British attacks, in WWII the politicians decided to supply cannons instead, and the British took the casualties.

All the wartime industries continued on to supply consumer goods after the war, and this contributed to the establishment of Ontario as the "Industrial Heartland" of Canada. Much of the industry went there because historically, Ontario was a convenient place for manufacturers. It had cheap hydro power from Niagara Falls, it had Canada's first oil wells and oil refineries, it could import cheap oil from the Mid-Western US, it could bring cheap coal in from the US, and iron ore could be shipped cheaply from Minnesota's Mesabi Range via the Great Lakes.

Flash forward to the present, and Ontario's population has exceeded the available hydro power, its nuclear power plants have turned out to be a lot more expensive and unreliable than expected, its wind power initiative doesn't generate cheap power, its oil fields as well as the Mid-Western ones are mostly tapped out, the US coal it has been importing is high-sulfur and polluting, and all the richest deposits of iron ore have been mined out of the Mesabi Range. Ontarios location is no longer a good one for an industrial heartland.

In reality, the problem is not that Canada is turning into a "Petro-State", it is that Canada inadvertently put its industry thousands of kilometres away from its main energy resources. The bulk of the population and manufacturing is in the Eastern provinces (primarily Ontario), and most of the hydro power, oil, natural gas, coal, uranium - not to mention agricultural land - are in the four lightly populated and lightly industrialized Western provinces.

Ultimately this is going to be solved by the continuing drift of population and industry West, but it is a long term process that isn't going to make Eastern Canadians happy. It is, however, driven by the unbalance in energy resources in Canada, not just by the oil sands.

And I would add that the oil sands region is well-placed to become an "Industrial Heartland" in its own right because it has a lot more resources than just oil sands. I'm expecting it to become a major industrial region with a workforce of millions, albeit long after I am dead and gone.

The process would happen a lot faster if we didn't spend enormous resources keeping people where they are.


Very well said and bang on. I had an engineer friend from Nfld. He had 5 brothers. Only one stayed at home, the rest moved out west. Work brought my family to BC. You have to go where the work is and make the best of it. It is why any of us are in Canada, at all.


H-D certainly does focus on climate change:

"Both the cabinet and the Conservative parliamentary caucus are heavily populated by politicians who deny mainstream
climate science. The Conservatives have slashed financing for climate science, closed facilities that do research on climate
change, told federal government climate scientists not to speak publicly about their work without approval and tried,
unsuccessfully, to portray the tar sands industry as environmentally benign."

H-D's point about gov't scientists being muzzled is absolutely correct. Finally, it looks like this issue will be investigated:

But in his paragraph on environmental damage from tar sands development, climate is the obvious thing that is missing:

The most obvious reason is that tar sands production is one of the world’s most environmentally damaging activities. It wrecks vast areas of boreal forest through surface mining and subsurface production. It sucks up huge quantities of water from local rivers, turns it into toxic waste and dumps the contaminated water into tailing ponds that now cover nearly 70 square miles.

All that stuff, bad as it may be, is minor compared to climate change.

He does bring up climate when he's running down the Conservative party.

He mentions it indirectly when he makes a reference to CO2.


Only indirectly?
H-D states, "the process generates significantly more carbon dioxide than conventional oil production." (This is the bit that you mentioned, but although it is brief/concise, it certainly captures the central point.)

In addition, the bit that I quoted above addresses the fact that:
1. Many of the influential Conservatives are publicly skeptical re. CC.
2. Tories have slashed funding for CC research.
3. The Harper admin has closed research facilities, including those which conducted CC research.
4. Harper admin has muzzled gov't scientists who may wish to speak on CC and other (apparently sensitive) topics.
5. Harper admin is publicly supportive of oil sands expansion and dismissive of the related environmental concerns.

H-D made every effort to keep his opinion piece concise/short. Despite its brevity, I think he did an effective job of addressing CC issues, given the other aspects which he wanted to include.

Funny how he doesn't mention climate change as one of the downsides to tar sands development.

Mentioning climate change in the mainstream media brings out the wingnuts en masse.

If you can make your point without it, then why bother with the hassle of adjusting your mail spam filters, and letterbox death threats?

Homer-Dixon deals with climate change at length in his misleadingly titled book The Upside of Down.

Taiwan, Germany Seek Methane Hydrate—Potentially Vast New Energy Source

A research vessel carrying German and Taiwanese scientists set sail for waters off the island's southwestern coast on Sunday in search of methane hydrate, a potentially vast new energy source. ... Past studies have indicated reserves in the area could supply the island for up to 50 years.

Nuclear energy currently accounts for around 20 percent of the island's energy mix but has become increasingly controversial in recent years following Japan's atomic crisis.

Taiwan is heavily dependent on costly oil imports mainly from the Middle East and Africa.

From "Can You Have Too Much Solar Energy?":

Power companies traditionally charge more during the day, when offices are full and manufacturing plants are in full swing, so the glut of daytime solar power reduces their profit. The proliferation of solar panels on homes also takes high-margin residential customers off the grid at peak hours.

Isn't this a way of saying that the wealthy corporations are not paying their share, and that homeowners (a/k/a, "high-margin residential customers") are expected to make up the difference?

Much like the US Post Office, where the junk mail of the corporations is subsidized by the users of First Class Mail.

But of course, corporations really ARE entitled, as opposed to those pesky individual citizens. I think they (the Corporations) should have their Supreme Court Declare that only corporations and individuals with incomes above $5 Million per year are citizens. They could form a special interest group, "Corporations United," and use that group as their Plaintiff. At least that way the connection with reality might be more clear.


Yes, of course, residential solar electricity would tend to reduce revenues and profits for utilities. But that hardly forces the conclusion that there is too much solar energy. If this business model means that private utilities cannot survive with competition with solar energy that I suggest they change their business model or be taken over by the government.

Solar could not survive without subsidies. The government is paying solar power top dollar. How could you change your business model to compete with that? Maybe everyone should only produce solar power?

Best hopes for a PV powered world.

Solar would certainly survive w/o subsidies right now. It would certainly not do nearly as well as it is doing right now but it would indeed survive. The 70% drop in PV panel price is larger than the 30% tax-credit offered. And that is the only incentive available for many people.

what industry could survive without government intervention? Seems like they all would collapse if they were not getting subsidies from the government...car industry...check..oil industry check...airlines etc....the list goes on and on...the government is keeping an inefficient system humming...look at the stock market....

Could cars survive without state-built roads?

Solar is a considerable investment, it's NOT free.. but it's also one of the very few tools we have come up with that can go very far towards actually earning its keep, and doing so over a long timeframe, without needing extra inputs, no fuel, essentially no air or water pollution issues after manufacturing is complete.

Some things are worth investing in, both by individuals and by the society as a whole. This is one of them.

My impression was that the utilities had spent rather vast capital in building the types of generating plants that not only operated 24 hours a day but were very difficult to ramp up and down in power generation. Hence they were, with the build-out of so much solar capacity, being asked to supply power on an intermittant basis. Their generating capacity was not built to accomodate that model. Yet if they try to raise rates they only drive thier customers to buy more solar, thereby exacerbating their delimma.

How should the non-solar power be generated and priced? Night time? Rainy days?

Maybe we should just let it play out and let all the utils start going under. Isn't this what the free market says we should do? Solar has largely reached grid parity, so the process isn't likely to reverse itself w/o disturbance, though that disturbance will come eventually when/if FF baseload falls below instantaneous RE generation. Did I mention that might not be smooth, though? I think free-markets and efficincy are inverse to reliability in the way that frequency is to time, especially with respect to oscilations, haha. Few grids will keep pace in any event; definately a neglected commons.

Maybe we should just let it play out and let all the utils start going under. Isn't this what the free market says we should do?


Maybe we should just let it play out and let all the utils cry out loud for government support and laws to outlaw the competition when they start going under. Isn't this what the free market says we should do?


Didn't think I had to say it out loud, lol!

Its less than being asked to be intermittent producers (which mostly isn't yet their fate), its not getting windfall prices on hot sunny days anymore. Those contribute mightily to the bottom line, take them away, and the budget gets dicey.

Are corporations, especially monopoly utilities, part of the 'commons'? Can they be, while being 'people' and private companies all at once?

I interpret this more along the lines of Jared Diamond's collapse scenarios. Solar panels are a way for individuals to opt out of an expensive and complex power system in favour of simplicity. If they are paying 33 euro cents for residential electricity, as the commenters suggest, then German solar is well past grid parity. Even with the relatively cheap rates in the western U.S., solar costs will be there this year or next. Unless governments intend to force people to buy from utilities there will be a trend to self-reliance, and once it passes a tipping point, everyone will have to go along. There are some interesting feedbacks at work.

The age old problem of rent seeking. Those that own, extract rent from those that don't. And they can buy government to help them do it.

Although it gets a bit more complicated, as those power plants do have expenses paying the interest of the loans taken out to build them. So, those businesses could be in real trouble. [Crocodile tear stains follow...
weep, weep, weep...]

Corporations tend to be owned by people pension plans, so its a bit hard to zero in beyond 'corporations'. Which are actually owned by self same pesky individual citizens.

Yeah citizens are getting screwed both ways if they don't install solar. Higher taxes to pay for the subsidized solar power, and higher power bills to compensate for the realities of no electrical storage.

It's going to be interesting how this plays out. If Gail the Actuary is right, Germany will take a hit. If those who think renewables are creating all this 'free energy' are right the German economy should start to boom. I'm thinking it's the doom scenario.

No. The sunshine is free, the PV equipment is not. The difficult Germany has is that they did much of their solar PV build out when the PV equipment was 3X what it costs now. So they'll struggle and pay off those loans slowly.

The lack of storage doesn't 'cost' anything and is not an issue until your solar build out becomes a very large share of your grid. And one of the best ways of dealing with it is to have natural gas peaker plants. The Germans are very good engineers, they'll figure it out. And we will benefit from what they learn.

Their buildout has plateaued at roughly 7-8GW per year. So it will be dominated by the relatively recent additions.

[C]itizens are getting screwed both ways if they don't install solar.

Exactly. The poor get poorer. In this context, "the rich" are anyone who can install solar, which pretty much means anyone not renting.

This is the downside of residential PV. For those who have it, costs go down. Generation and transmission overheads are the same, so the costs to everyone else go up. More inequality.

Corn prices have fallen close to 8 percent over two days. 400 million bushels showed up out of nowhere in the USDA quarterly report last week. Feeder cattle finished last Thursday limit-up. Folks are falling all over themselves to start consuming those extra bushels that surprisingly appeared. All the eggs are in one "highly variable estimating algorithm" basket.

Corn slides to 9-mth low, wheat down on higher stocks

"Earlier the concern was the market would struggle to source
supplies but now it looks like it can actually hold out until
new-crop supplies come in."

The USDA surprised the market with forecasts for old-crop
corn supplies, estimating the stockpile at the lowest in nine
years, up from an average estimate of the lowest in 15 years.

It pegged corn stocks as of March 1 at 5.399 billion
bushels, above the average analyst estimate of 5.013 billion
bushels. The USDA also said farmers would plant the highest corn
acreage since 1936.

If the USDA cannot accurately estimate stocks, how can anybody rely on global stock estimates? Is Thailand more accurate? India? Etc...? We really have no idea.

Shocking corn stocks

The USDA’s quarterly estimates of U.S. corn inventories have become a source of substantial surprises for the corn market. Dating from March 2010, 11 of the past 13 quarterly stocks estimates have deviated from expectations by enough to generate large price movements. During that period, USDA stock estimates have been both much larger and much smaller than generally expected.

400 million bushels is exactly how man fewer Bu. were not used to produce ethanol over the past year. I used EIA ethanol data for the past two years and 2.7 gallons per Bu. April thru March of 11-12 and April thru March of 12-13

Climate Change Will Harm Mekong Basin Harvests

LONDON – One of the most fertile areas of south east Asia, the Lower Mekong Basin, faces a bleak future from the impacts of climate change, according to a U.S.-funded study. The lead author of the study, Dr. Jeremy Carew-Reid, says some of its findings are “very shocking.”

“We’ve found that this region is going to experience climate extremes in temperature and rainfall beyond anything that we expected”, says Dr. Carew-Reid. ... The study stresses that climate change is not about the environment alone. The countries of the Lower Mekong Basin are major food exporters, and a warming climate will affect every economy in the region.

... A global average rise of 2°C is expected to mean that parts of the tropics like the Mekong Basin will warm by between 4°C and 6°C by mid-century. The impacts will vary, but all the Lower Mekong countries are likely to see big changes in the suitability of land for important crops.

For fisheries and livestock the impacts of a changing climate may also be serious (fisheries are a key source of protein in the Basin). Feed typically accounts for 65-80 percent of livestock production costs, so climate impacts on crops like maize and cassava will also damage livestock farmers.

In A Hotter, Drier Climate, Today’s Weeds May Be Tomorrow’s Dinner

... Currently, only 30 crops provide 95 percent of calories consumed worldwide, yet some 7,000 plant species have been used as food crops throughout history. Variously called orphan, neglected or underutilized species, these potential crops have an added bonus — they are often climate hardy.

... “Climate change is really opening minds,” says Padulosi. When regions realize that a 2-degree temperature increase will dramatically impact cultivation of wheat or rice, they are obliged to look at diversification strategies, he adds. “The concept is simple — the larger your portfolio of biodiversity, the better your position to absorb the shocks, from climate or price swings,” he says.

also http://www.cropsforthefuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/NUS-List.xls

Ames, Iowa State University and a tagline of weeds? And no mention of the line (colour) breaking ISU grad and one of the first African American dinner guests (as opposed to server) at the White House?

I can't find any attribution to my memory of a quote of his, "A weed is just a plant whose uses have not yet been discovered" (or such-like).

Finding new uses and products from marginalized plants and/or weeds was a charism of George Washington Carver. Few have been so integrated into economic health, personal health and soil health simultaneously.

The reason we grow a lot of wheat and barley is because it is incredibly hardy, and suited to a wide variety of climates. Corn can also be a dryland crop. I think this is a case of trying to reinvent the wheel.

IMF report shows fossil fuel subsidies carry a larger cost than expected

To quote what one blog wrote on it:

Direct subsidies and subsidies in the form of tax breaks for fossil fuels, estimated at 480 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, equivalent to 0.7 percent of global GDP. These subsidies are mainly a problem in the oil-exporting countries account for two thirds of total subsidies.

But according to the report from the IMF as should the cost of non-internalized externalities, ie. cost of environmental degradation as a result of consumption and production of fossil fuels are included in the final bill for the subsidies. Despite the difficulties and controversies in pricing our pollution, this calculation method shows, according to the IMF, the total subsidies amounted to astronomical 1900 billion dollars in 2011, equivalent to 2.5 percent of global GDP, or 8 percent of all government revenues. The world's richest economies account for 40 percent of these subsidies because the largest emissions come from there and the oil-exporting countries, only one-third.

The lead article up top says:

Without fanfare, China passed the United States in December to become the world's leading importer of oil – the first time in nearly 40 years that the U.S. didn’t own that dubious distinction. That same month, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania together produced 1.5 million barrels of oil a day -- more than Iran exported.

but on eia.gov it says combined they produced less than 800,000 barrels/day in December.


Maybe they meant BOE?

I thought Ohio and Pennsylvania were mainly shale gas plays.

I think that's right.

Why can't they get it right, is what I wonder. The correct info is easy to find.

I just got back from the Philippines, and while there I tried to figure out where their economy has been heading, in order to make some educated guesses about their future. First, Energy Export Databrowser, which shows that oil imports have been declining fairly linearly since the late 90's. (Asian economic crisis, according to my wife). Second, wikipedia says that their growth has been above 3% for every year since 2000 except two. Since oil consumption is usually a rough proxy for economic activity, I'm left with a puzzle. I would guess that either:

1. The EEDB oil consumption data is wrong, OR
2. The wikipedia economic growth figures are wrong, OR
3. Both are correct, the economy has been growing while consuming steadily less oil.

I think that between these three I cover most of the possibilities. If it's 3, it probably warrants further investigation. Is anyone here able to provide further insight or info? Thanks!


Interesting. I wonder if there might be some substitution going on. Looks like they have a lot of renewables, including a large pumped storage plant.

Judging from the articles I come across, higher fuel prices have caused some distress there. Perhaps that's encouraging efficiency without hurting the economy too much.

well if you look at the natural gas figures it seems that they have replaced oil by natural gas. so it seems that overall energy consumption has been growing.

and the wikipedia article doesn't even mention natural gas. probably out of date.

I think you should take a moment to explore all of the features of the Energy Export Databrowser. A single click on "All Fuels" will get you this plot:

So their total consumption of energy has been rising -- very rapidly from 1992-1999 and much more gradually since then.

Also, the hydroelectric plants from Leanan's link are represented in the blue 'hydro' component of this graph. The geothermal plants, however, some of which are quite large, are not included. Geothermal plants in the Philippines produce almost as much electricity as the hydro plants.

I visited the Philippines two years ago and have been meaning to write down everything I saw from a peak energy perspective. Having gotten to it, here’s a quick condensed version of what I think is happening:

My relatives can be divided into two groups: one group that lives in a suburb outside of Manila, and the other group that lives in a small agricultural town in the north. In the suburban house, (and all over the PI) no hot water - no need. They had no car, again no need. Privately owned tricycles, and jeepneys provided pretty darn efficient point-to-point transportation. Anything involving liquid fuels was jammed to capacity. Even inter-province transport via van or bus was jammed with passengers.

Most of the necessities could be picked up in rather large malls that seemed to centralize economic activity. Taxicabs were run off of natural gas. A lot of homes seemed to have their own water towers to collect and keep water.

Countryside was interesting - it seemed to be a hybrid economy - local agricultural products could be purchased very, very cheaply, and yet supermarket goods were easily accessible. I actually hung out with people who lived in hand-made bamboo houses, and yet had access to cellphones, internet cafes, and the topic of discussion was how the Lakers would do in basketball. In the smaller midlevel cities, the power companies seem unafraid to shut off for two to four hours a day.

Overall, I saw an economic system that was half modern, and half tropical Malaysian. It seemed to suggest many of the features a post-peak America would become down the road. The aspect I really admired was how efficiency was just simply presumed. They definitely made the most of every drop of liquid fuels they had.

A lot of Latin America is similar. Here, it is typical to have a tinaco with a ton of water on the roof. When I built I looked and saw gaps in water supply so built in the local tradition with a ton of water on the roof. An American took the technofix and installed a pump to keep the pressure up. He gets interruptions in his water supply, I don't. Well, except the other weekend when I tried watering the garden and used the whole ton :) Never mind, I still have 5 tons under the garage, the American has none.

You go deep in the country. You see a shack, more space in the walls than bits of wood. It may not have a thunderbox or they cook by collecting and burning wood but they have a cellphone and television.

I am more pessimistic. I doubt that this will be post-peak USA. I very much doubt they will be able to adjust and make the most of every drop.


Jonathan - oops, sorry! Will remember in future. Yeah, it looks like the answer is electric power generation, which had been heavily weighted towards oil, being switched to mostly coal with some natural gas and a growing contribution from hydro and geothermal.

Redcoltken - you got a better picture than I did, although I certainly agree that gasoline powered transport is much more efficient there than in the US. Once you squeeze all the oil out of the electric grid, then what happens? Do people start sliding down the transport chain, i.e. private vehicle owners now take jeepny, jeepny riders onto tricycle, tricycle riders pushed into bicycles and walking, etc?

Thanks to everyone who responded.

Build more urban rail (they have some) in their cities.


That has to be the future..but were will the capital come from?

Yes but it won't be linear. I think the future is agricultural exports - and people replacements. I often wonder what would happen if the Eurozone imported in the pinoys instead of the Arabs.

Evgeny Morozov writes of "Machines of Laughter and Forgetting" in the NYT:

On this account, technology can save us a lot of cognitive effort, for “thinking” needs to happen only once, at the design stage. We’ll surround ourselves with gadgets and artifacts that will do exactly what they are meant to do — and they’ll do it in a frictionless, invisible way. “The ideal system so buries the technology that the user is not even aware of its presence,” announced the design guru Donald Norman in his landmark 1998 book, “The Invisible Computer.” But is that what we really want?

The hidden truth about many attempts to “bury” technology is that they embody an amoral and unsustainable vision. Pick any electrical appliance in your kitchen. The odds are that you have no idea how much electricity it consumes, let alone how it compares to other appliances and households. This ignorance is neither natural nor inevitable; it stems from a conscious decision by the designer of that kitchen appliance to free up your “cognitive resources” so that you can unleash your inner Oscar Wilde on “contemplating” other things. Multiply such ignorance by a few billion, and global warming no longer looks like a mystery.

In place of the frictionless encounters most consumers have with their tech slaves, he argues for an "aesthetic friction" from future innovations:

[W]e must distribute the thinking process equally. Instead of having the designer think through all the moral and political implications of technology use before it reaches users — an impossible task — we must find a way to get users to do some of that thinking themselves.

Alas, most designers, following Wilde, think of technologies as nothing more than mechanical slaves that must maximize efficiency. But some are realizing that technologies don’t have to be just trivial problem-solvers: they can also be subversive troublemakers, making us question our habits and received ideas.

Morozov's book expounding on his views can be found here.

Pick any electrical appliance in your kitchen. The odds are that you have no idea how much electricity it consumes, let alone how it compares to other appliances and households. This ignorance is neither natural nor inevitable; it stems from a conscious decision by the designer of that kitchen appliance to free up your “cognitive resources” so that you can unleash your inner Oscar Wilde on “contemplating” other things.

No, it stems from a basic lack of education in science. There is a plate on every appliance stating how much current it draws, at least the maximum it can draw. It's not really too hard to figure out the duty cycle so you can estimate whether it is a big energy user or not.

You can instrument and measure all you want, but the fact remains that most of your energy is used to heat water - the the dryer and the water heater - and cooking and climate control. Deal with those things - it doesn't much matter what the can opener or blender uses.

But he's talking about a good bit more than that. It's not ONLY how much power is being consumed, it's the conceit that appliances save us some sort of effort that comes back to us in other ways.. whereas MacLuhan said, I think appropriately 'every automation is an amputation'.. we keep seeing people design silly appliances and now robots on the distorted premise that we can freely design our own little techno maids, and have the advantages of servants without the consequent costs to ourselves.. to the end that we start to think that doing something by hand is somehow terribly odious, while the luxury of having the toaster do it is also the freedom 'not to even THINK about the power being used'. It's not just ignorance, but celebrated ignorance, as if freedom from thinking and tedium is 'our freedom'. (The one, possibly, that they must hate us for.)

I walked home from work the other day, 5.5 miles.. as my wife had the (one surviving) car. She kindly sent me the bus schedule by phone, which would have had me waiting 1/2 hour just for it's arrival, and I ended up getting home just before the time the bus would have been landing at the nearest (15min walk) bus stop. A nice walk, and timed myself out at 3.3mph, and made $.15 in cans instead of paying out $1.50 in fare. But an unthinkable act for a great majority of my neighbors.

Again, it's not that they couldn't think it, it's that they 'shouldn't'.. it seems. This message that we shouldn't 'lower ourselves' to do things that are hard, arduous, involved, when there's a shortcut available.

it's the conceit that appliances save us some sort of effort that comes back to us in other ways..

Ever hand washed clothing with a scrub board?

The rural electrification effort and Lyndon B. Johnson pointing at old wash women while telling younger folks 'Put me in Washington and I'll get rural electrification so you can run a washing machine' helped to put him in office.

Electrical lighting meant less fires in homes. Refrigeration allowed for better food health.

Appliances ARE a great help. One just has to pick and choose. Now I'm going to unload the sous vide cooker (a nesco with a added by me temp control system) and marvel at the wast of energy running that is :-)

Fair enough, but the detail within that 'return gift' is that we have shown our gratitude by turning on automated entertainment boxes and turned OFF our minds a lot more than we have sought out an elevated existence and used the gained time for the promised epiphanies.

I didn't mean to say we get nothing from them.. but it has in a great many ways closed our thinking to the very possibility of doing things without 'power assist'. I remember at a party a mom getting all excited and calling her kids over because we were popping popcorn in a pan. It's easy to lose sight of lots of simple 'can-do' options with such an environment.

I agree with the proliferation of simply useless appliances that replace things that were no trouble to do anyway. And also that a couple of the early, major appliances did save a lot of labor - it is the classic case of diminishing returns.

But as Greer has pointed out, those appliances freed people up to get out of the home economy so that they could join the work force and pay corporations a profit to do things they used to do themselves.

I think you are both right. Now go watch some cooking shows. Or HGTV. You will see the "Oscar Wilde" philosophy on full display. Of course few have the technical chops do understand those labels, -or make sense of what comes out of a kill-a-watt meter.

Yes. It is electrical resistance heaters that are the big killer. The Coffee pot, the toaster, The electric range, the electric oven. And that's just the kitchen. Add in the electric dryer, and water heater, and wowie. And of course good old fashioned incandescent bulbs are basically resistance heater, with a side effect of throwing off a few visible light photons.

But even semi-world class fluid dynamics researchers I work with can be almost as ignorant. One asked me if his computer could be responsible for his high electric bills. I asked, "do you have an electric dryer?". Yes, and my wife washes every item of clothing after one use! Well just do the math (which he is quite capable of), 5000watts, versus 100watts.

"The Coffee pot, the toaster, The electric range, the electric oven."

Was rather surprised to find the coffee pot actually using more than the toaster. 800 Watts coffee pot versus 740 Watts toaster...and it tends to be on for a much longer time. That's as much as most electric space heaters on the low setting.

Ovens - another surprise waiting there...the "safety glow bar" on most propane/nat gas ovens uses about 500 Watts continuous when on.

You do have to watch out for 24/7 loads because they will sneak up on you. Cable box whether "on" or "off" is usually running full tilt and depending on its age could be obscenely high. 30 Watts over 24 hours is 0.72 kWhr (and some people have multiple boxes). If the computer is actually drawing 100 Watts and is left on 24 hours it's 2.4 kWhr right there. If he has a monster computer at home with a high-end graphics card it could be drawing some serious wattage even at idle and 700+ Watts at full-tilt.

Heating/cooling is probably going to be the biggest, then water heating, then the fridge.

You should give him an energy audit and give him an idea where his energy is going. Might be some low hanging fruit - under insulated water heater, absurd phantom loads, incandescents, etc. Might be able to knock a few kWhr/day demand off the grid and all of the CO2 that goes along with it for a few hour's work.

The most important thing I ever learned in college was how to work with units. Energy is V*I*t.

Power is not energy - the coffee maker simply is not that important regardless of how much instantaneous power it may draw, because it does not run for very long.

If it draws a lot of power and is on for a long time, then it uses a lot of energy. This is very, very simple and you can simply use your best judgement without calculating much of anything. And the loads that are the biggest problems are the ones that are easiest to guess.

Yeah and no. Most home coffee makers that have a warming plate that might be on for most of the day, and that can add up.

Many restaurants have warming plates where one places a carafe to keep it warm. If you let it sit there for too long, it ruins the coffee, but if you do a sufficient volume you don't notice that.

The coffee machine at the office has a boiler that keeps hot water 24x7. There is not even a simple timer that goes off at a certain time of the day. Then again, I don't know how well insulated the boiler actually is - for all I know, it might hold the heat quite well.

If memory serves, the water reservoirs in the two Bunn-O-Matics at my church consumed about 75-watts each in standby mode. One is now left unplugged until ten minutes before it is needed and the other was placed on a simple mechanical timer that I bought for $10.00.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/BUNNTimer-1.jpg

This "quick fix" has cut their bill by perhaps 1,100 kWh per annum, or $160.00/year at current rates.


$150 1st year saving yet people claim that cutting energy use costs too much. Excuse me while I find somewhere to scream in anguish.


Those double-burner models can draw near 1500 Watts when they're running (like they do always at restaurants)...they must have a water pre-heater to be drawing 75 Watts at idle (1.8 kWhr/day).

Rather than making more posts I'll post this other response here:
Twilight "the coffee maker simply is not that important regardless of how much instantaneous power it may draw, because it does not run for very long."

That's why I mentioned that it ran much longer than the toaster. My surprise was that it drew more power than the toaster - which glows red hot! But yes, the whereas the toaster runs for 5 minutes and is done - the coffee pot may brew for 5 minutes, sit for 5 more before anyone comes back for some, and be another 20 minutes before it's finished...at 800 Watts and 30 minutes... 0.4 kWhr. To think of it another way - at 400 Watt-hours it would take almost 100 Watts of installed PV to support the morning joe. It could also power an e-bike for 10 miles at 40 Wh/mi or a Nissan Leaf for 1.5 miles. Coffee!

I make coffee into an insulated, but unheated pot (cost about $12 more). I then microwave it warmer as needed when poured (I sip coffee - like an IV drip :-), so I will reheat a cup once or twice anyway). Better taste than keeping it hot for hours.

The Apple Mac Mini is supposed to be @ 10 watts (screen extra), but I added 16 Mb RAM to mine - likely a bit more.

But I run it 24/7 doing BIONC Climate Prediction models. More good than bad for that extra power !

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Hi Alan;

I've now taken to putting the whole pot of coffee into the thermos when it's brewed.. gratifying to be using a thermos I bought for a limited use in 1999, to witness and film the Holing Thru of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) from the Brooklyn to the Queens sections of NYC's Water Tunnel #3.. 600' underground and breathing Manhattan Shist* Dust! *(One word I suspect Rockman could help me spell properly)

I have been underground with an operating TBM only once - but it was surreal experience !

Best Hopes for a Second Time :-)


rock geek humor:
"It cannot be taken for granite that one is schist as gneiss as the other."

You were just missing a "c".

"gneiss" is pronounced like "nice"

Gonna take a sedimental journey...

Doomers take heart! I have posted some incredible news on my blog, Question Everything. All our worries are over.


Thanks, George. I will swing the HOG by to pick up Arthur later on in the year, after I stop by Miliways and pick up Trillian.

Best always,



Should have known you would get it!

Happy April 1st, everyone.

I see the last leg down to zero is forecast (short term and medium term storage). Are they still drawing on storage even with the additional LNG tanker supplies?

I read somewhere that the first two LNG tankers supplied enough gas to last 12 hours. Not exactly encouraging given the hoopla regarding their arrival. The forecast for the rest of the week in the UK is cold.

re: Why Abundant Oil Hasn't Cut Gasoline Prices

The article begins with an assertion that "For the first time since 1995, the U.S. will likely produce more oil than it imports." There is no attribution, and there are no facts stated to affirm same. It's like these guys figure they can say anything. We will buy in, and of course there will be the angry response about conspiracy to keep gas prices high, and demands that they be lowered to $1/gal or less, like they should be with all that oil!

The rest of the item rambles on about cost of delivery by rail, a rant about how the Jones Act cripples our commerce, and we are selling our gas to Europeans and Asians for less. Again, no facts... just assertions.

If this was a comment on TOD, the rest of y'all would be all over them.

The MSM reporting today is so surreal that I have to keep pinching myself. And, asking, is that April Fool?

And I haven't even gotten to the Warming items yet. Wow!


They subtly imply that importing is the same as consuming. Produce 10, import 9, we're a net exporter. Just don't mention the consumption of 19!

For the first time since 1995, the U.S. will likely produce more oil than it imports.

It would take a fairly creative interpretation of the facts to arrive at that conclusion (auditors always hated it when I used the phrase "creative accounting"), and I don't know how the authors did the math.

Regardless, in January 2013, the US produced 7.0 million barrels of crude oil per day, and imported 10.0 mb/d. It exported 0.1 mb/d, so as a rough approximation, it consumed 16.9 mb/d. You can fudge the numbers around by including condensate, NGL's, ethanol, etc, but let's not to keep it simple.

That means domestic production accounted for 41% of domestic oil consumption, and imports accounted for 59%. If the statement were true, domestic production would be > 50% and imports would be < 50% of consumption - which would a landmark of a sort, but not a very important one, and in fact it's not true so it is non-factual.

I think they are trying to imply that the US is on the verge of becoming self-sufficient in oil, but that is only 41% true. Given the high volume of expensive imports, there is no good reason why domestic US crude oil prices should determine US gasoline prices. Fuel prices are following the price of seaborne imported oil - which in economic terms is the Marginal Barrel of Oil. Commodities are always priced at the margin in a free market economy.

Spot on, Rocky. Oil, as MSM seems not to realize, is fungible (at least for the most part). You can sell it anywhere, buy it anywhere, and it is always oil, and for the moment you pay in US Dollars. Q.E.D.

Always enjoy hearing from you.


In the 4 weeks ending March 22, domestic crude oil production was 7.15 mbd and imports of crude oil were 7.58 mbd. That gap should be easily closed by the end of summer.


Looked to me like net imports four wk avge was 6,329 kbl... compared with 7,580 domestic production. That gap won't be closed by the end of summer.

I will defer to westexas or rockman to delve deeper into the overview you provided. I would note, however, that the prior year domestic production was somewhat higher than 2013's. Not sure what that means either.


That gap won't be closed by the end of summer.

That's true but that's not what your referenced quote stated. The U.S. is a net importer of crude oil but a net exporter of petroleum product for a total net import volume of 6.33 mbd of crude and petroleum product in the 4 weeks ending March 22.

Don't forget that you are computing on a volume basis. There's a little line item called "refinery gains" which is there to balance the in and out volumes during refining. One needs to add those refinery gains to the respective sources of crude oil before comparing the product import vs exports. That is, some fraction of those refinery gains should be allocated to the import side of the ledger, but that's not the way the EIA does things. And, don't forget, there's the "natural gas plant liquids", which is also internal production, but which may also be a product which is exported...

E. Swanson

Crude (oil) is crude (oil). I'm not wagging the crude oil and petroleum product dog. The gap between domestic crude production and crude imports is 440 kbpd. Ceteris paribus, domestic production need only increase one-half of the gap or 220 kbpd to achieve the quoted "milestone". That gap could be closed by increased Texas production alone in the next 6 months; Texas crude increased 280 kbpd in the 6 months ending in January. Throw in North Dakota, the other emerging shale plays and maybe some Gulf production increases and the referenced milestone ("For the first time since 1995, the U.S. will likely produce more oil than it imports.") is a gimme. It will likely not happen on a 2013 annual basis, but it will happen on a monthly basis in the the fall of 2013, unless in the interim there is a material substitution of crude for product imports.

You choose to ignore the product flows, some of which is used as diluent for the bitumen that then flows back to the US as dilbit from Canada. The reported flow of imported crude must be reduced by the exported diluent flow to calculate the energy imported. Of course, if summer driving results in an increase in consumption, this increase in demand would be met by increasing imports. So far this year, total demand has increased 1.4%, mostly the result of an increase in gasoline demand of 1.8%. All of which depends on the state of the economy and whether those of us who don't have jobs return to work and start driving around again...

E. Swanson

I don't understand your difficulty in interpreting the EIA import crude oil data. You seem to think that the EIA is oblivious to natural gasoline (pentanes) product exports to Canada for diluent and the same being re-imported to the U.S. as a component of dilbit. Thay may be the case but a supporting citation is in order. It is a neat configuration as the re-imported pentanes can be processed and recycled as exports.

Ping me in 6 months after the media is all over the milestone.

'Critical information' missing from LNG approvals

This show was aired on Australian TV last night
The Google Earth shot shows the patchwork of coal seam gas wells and pipes through farmland. I understand fracking and horizontal drilling are not used as much in CSG as in shale gas. Some of the farmers interviewed said their farms would become unviable as drilling contaminated drinking water or changed the water depth and pressure. This was not factored into agreements with farmers. There was also the anomaly that gas drillers could bulldoze trees that got in the way while farmers were prohibited.

Methane bubbles were appearing in creeks that never had them before drilling so the fugitive methane could erase all the claimed advantages over coal burning. The main objective seems to be to export the gas as LNG whereas in theory the carbon tax was supposed to see regional coal fired power stations replaced by gas fired. Both fugitive methane and LNG export mean more greenhouse gases for the world, kind of odd for a country that professes to care about AGW.

I did a search and it didn't find anything on this here.
So, anybody here want to comment on "Multi-use Titanium Dioxide"?
It's seems to be a legit substance with amazing abilities, but maybe "too good to be true"? And of course, there's the scalability question...

My comment is that it makes good sunscreen but don't wipe your hands on anything fancy after applying it.

Not really a mystery...have you ever seen white paint? That's TiO2. Put on sunscreen? TiO2! It's pretty ubiquitous. Toshiba's SCiB are Lithium Titanate and Altairnano are working on their own LiTi.

I think those are both on the anode side and I wonder if some of the work on the cathode side (like graphene) will be able to be complimentary with the work done on the anode (compatible chemistry). If so - hot dog!

Edit: P.S. You're probably brushing your teeth with it too.

I don't understand why they need to put it in Zuko orange drink. It just settles out and tastes powdery. The local cake baking suppliers sells big jars of the stuff.


Titanium dioxide (titania, TiO2) is fairly ubiquitous in modern life: pigments especially use nearly 5 million tons/year.
It has an amazing array of uses and potentials, the uses cited in the article are long known:

from the wiki article:
"The photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide were discovered by Akira Fujishima in 1967"
(the 52-yo Chinese prof was barely in grade school then).

nano-crystals/rods/films/... are newer, but nothing in the article seemed like a breakthrough.
again, from the wiki:
"In 1995 Fujishima and his group discovered the superhydrophilicity phenomenon for titanium dioxide coated glass exposed to sun light.[28] This resulted in the development of self-cleaning glass and anti-fogging coatings."

Dye-sensitized solar cells using TiO2 as a semiconductor to separate the excitons were invented in 1988.
(surprised to see that Michael Gratzel did this at UC Berkeley - I always associate him with EPFL in Switzerland)

Lithium batteries with titania (and other) nano-particles seem like ancient history to me, mid 2000's at the latest.

Anyway, the net net is:
this article is yet another breathless university press release, but nothing really new or earth shaking here as far as I can tell.

We run two or sometimes three loads of laundry through the dryer in any given week, so there's no good reason to go this route; that said, I'd buy one in a flash.

On the Way: A $2,000 Clothes Dryer
Would you be willing to spend $2,000 on a new clothes dryer in the name of energy efficiency?

The opportunity could present itself within the next few years, as the United States prepares for the arrival of heat pump clothes dryers.

Popular in Europe for the last five years, the folks who run the Energy Star program are trying to get heat pump dryers adopted in the United States. The big advantage is that they use half the energy of a regular dryer. But there are two big downsides to overcome.

See: http://www.ect.coop/emerging-technologies/r-d/on-the-way-a-2000-clothes-...

A conventional gas or electric dryer exhausts sixty litres of air per second -- air that is often conditioned. Heat pump clothes dryers don't require external venting, thus eliminating any associated heat loss/gain (it also eliminates the air leakage that occurs when the dryer is not in use). Much kinder from a utility's perspective as well, i.e., a standard electric dryer might draw 5.2 kW whereas the heat pump alternative would likely require one-quarter that.


I think dryers are perhaps the most nonsensical invention of all time. Rather than promoting dryers, we should be promoting that all buildings that CAN hang-dry clothes should, like in Japan. I lived there for 3 months, across the rainy season, and never once used a dryer (though I had to hang my clothes in my very small apartment when it was rainy, one time it took a couple days for them to dry).

We are literally focused on the stupidest things possible. Hang-drying clothes is currently against HOA restrictions in many places in the US, when it should be protected by law. The apartment I am in now is actually ideal for hang-drying, but drying clothes on the balconies is against the rules! It's literally the stupidest thing I've ever heard. And I talked to one of my neighbors that was complaining about somebody in a building across the street who had "too much stuff" on their balcony... These people are literally so self-absorbed and concerned with appearances that they will never understand it.

Places that need dryers should use better dryers (some apartments), but many more places should switch to hang-drying.

In our neck of the woods, if it isn't raining or snowing it's likely to be heavy fog (the relative humidity as I type this is 100 per cent). And I can't hang-dry clothes inside the house because I'm doing everything I can to keep mould and mildew at bay, namely, running a power-guzzling dehumidifier pretty much night and day. Sorry, everything goes into the dryer, I twist the knob, press the button and a half hour later the sheets are ready to go back on the bed.

You could encourage folks to abandon their clothes dryers or any other appliances you have in mind, but that's likely to be a hard-fought battle. Good luck !


I don't doubt that you may need the dryer. People in Seattle probably need them too. People in Florida, or Tuscon, or many other places probably don't. If you need it, a more efficient dryer is a godsend.

I think dryers are much easier to "abandon" if you have the expectation that you won't have one. In Japan there are literally laws governing how building are sited which prohibit buildings blocking the sunlight to other buildings, precisely because of the expectation that everyone will line dry their clothes. Balconies have hooks for poles to line dry things from. Everyone does it, so there is no NIMBY factor of people trying to prevent it. In the US it takes breaking old habits and building new ones, but drying clothes in the air is not a terribly hard habit to build. But you can't build a new habit if you have to literally go to court to protect your right to dry your clothes outside - something I would probably have to do here, where the law says my right is protected but the condo association bans it!

In any case, if we can't expect anyone to forgo anything ever, we are in for a hard fall no matter how you look at it. I think we all know that. A more efficient dryer is great, but no dryer is much better when practical. We COULD and CAN make that change. Maybe we SHOULD expect people to.

You might as well tell folks to give up their Big Macs and to lose a few extra pounds whilst you're at it. :-)

Some folks will shun their energy consuming appliances for purely altruistic reasons and others out of financial necessity, but the vast majority won't, at least not without a fight.

And here's the reality: a conventional electric dryer consumes just over 2.0 kWh per load, on average, and we're told that a heat pump model would cut that basically in half. We run our dryer an average of 2.5 times a week, or about one hundred and thirty times a year. Thus, a conventional dryer might consume 280 kWh a year* and the latter perhaps 140. At 14.3-cents per kWh, I'm looking at either $40.00 a year for the standard version or $20.00/year for the high-tech -- the cost of a couple movie tickets and some accompanying refreshments.


* About the same amount of energy as what a satellite receiver or cable box might consume over the course of the year.

When I was shopping for a dehumidifier a few years ago, I came across several references (from the UK) for using dehumidifiers to dry clothes indoors. It makes a lot of sense in a a cold humid climate, since it should be similar in efficiency to a heat pump drier, but much cheaper to purchase and usable the rest of the year to keep the house dry. It would also be a much more compact system, since a small dehumidifier and a folding rack could be easily stored in a closet.

Our EnergyStar dehumidifier pulls about 550-watts but doesn't work all that effectively at 16 to 18°C, which is where we generally keep the lower level during the heating season. You could run it for hours at a time and it might remove a few hundred ml. I'm thinking that a heat pump dryer would use less energy because it would gradually raise the internal temperature of the drum, thereby ensuring optimum performance.


By the way, my Laundry/Furnace/Heat Pump room has been operating beautifully this winter, with the Geyser HP chewing up the Humidity vented from the Dryer, thus keeping that airflow and heat indoors, and reapplying it productively- with the Hum. always in the 30's/40's.

Can't speak to the dollars saved or averted, as we had other situations with the rentals that complicated the experiment..

Still very eager to get the solar inputs into the DHW setup.. all delayed due to life interruptions.. but it's a promising start!

I needed to get the humidity down to ~10%RH at 20C (for a laboratory application), so I ended up buying an industrial grade desiccator-based dehumidifier, which is probably less efficient than the compressor type.

I have always wondered about the possibility of using a vacuum to dry clothes. I am guessing it would be quite efficient and fast. You would probably also need to use some heat to bump up the vapor pressure, but you could probably get some of that from the pump motor.

I have always wondered about the possibility of using a vacuum to dry clothes.

Bad plan. The water makes you have to replace the oil in the pump. Oil replacement happens every 2 cycles in the vacuum dryer I know of, and that is for water in meat.

Better plan is just having airflow. Make your own drying cabinet like the Stabur one I've posted in the past.

I've wondered about vacuum drying clothes too - perhaps a combo clothes and food dryer !!!

(and note that some combo all-in-one washer-dryers are ventless, using some cool water to condense the water vapor from the clothes - I'm looking at LG or Bosch ones now for a "doomstead" cottage)
A greywater system will use the "extra" water off the combo, so no "waste" there.

Anyway, for a vacuum clothes dryer, one would want to use an oil-less pump (there are some "course" oil-sealed pumps, but all the one's I've used were still an oily mess), due to the large amounts of condensable vapor one would have.
Something like a cheaper version of Pfeiffer's ACP series.

These are Roots blowers, in series, made to high tolerances.

Screw type vacuum pumps are another alternative.
Or - duh - a liquid ring pump using water as the seal - gee this seems obvious now.

Lesker claims liquid ring pumps are used in "large freeze dry installation[s]"

I was thinking membrane pump or other oil-less pump. You wouldn't need a high vacuum.

But air flow over the surface creates a partial vacuum does it not?

And an air flow system also doesn't need a chamber built to hold the vacuum.

(the added un-heating is part of the drying cabinet - clothes dry fast in sun+wind due to the extra heating)

And I'd forgotten about the spin driers.

A spin dryer, can get the first 75-90% of the water out at very little energy cost. Its basically a centrifuge for wet clothes. And uses only a little energy. But it is a pain doing it, an extra load/unload, and you have to balance the load -so I don't think separate spin dryers are going to catch on.

Last month in Costa Rica we purchased a washer/dryer for a house we share there, and almost all washers available for sale had a spin dryer attached, so spin dryers have already caught on in Costa Rica and pretty much replaced electric resistance heat for drying. Balancing the load was handled just by pushing a flexible plastic lid down on the wet clothes before starting up the centrifuge, took about 2 centrifuge loads per wash load and the clothes come out very close to dry.
So spin dryers might win out in the US soon too if electricity prices increase.

An assortment of spin driers are available down here. Also there are several twin tubs, washer one side and spin dryer the other. Besides, I can always run an extra spin cycle on my single tub. Note: many European front loader washing machines have a high speed spin cycle.


You'll need heat to offset the temperature drop due to the water boiling off.


Or you could use a clothesline http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothes_line or maybe even a couple of clothes drying racks for 19.99 http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50095091/. You never know, it might just save you $2k in upfront costs, and a lifetime of energy bills. Of course you would actually have to hang the washing which is a real drag.

I'm sorry but I've lived my whole life without a clothes drier, and just don't get it.

Well, I could hold-off doing laundry until that day when the sun magically returns (I'd have to dramatically expand my wardrobe and put up with the smell) or hang my clothes inside. If I hang inside, then I'm only increasing the workload on my dehumidifier. I've already replaced every exterior wall in this place due to mould damage and I'm sure as hell not going to go through that again.


If your humidity is coming from inside, the biggest source would most likely be the kitchen or bathroom. Otherwise it could be coming directly through the walls, or seeping up from the ground. Another source could be through the floor, but that would be more likely to effect low lying objects, and has a simple solution of increasing underfloor ventilation.

Any kind of sunroom, greenhouse, or even a carport is sufficient to dry clothes. You don't need to have a rack in the dining room. Just as long as it's not getting rained on, and has some air circulation it seems to work well for me. When it's raining it may take 24-36 hours to dry clothes, but that's no hardship really. If it's not raining the clothes go outside, we get fog most days until about 10am, and about 1700ml of rain per year.

I suspect that some of the moisture is wicking-up through the basement floor, but I can't tell for sure. I installed a Dricore subfloor (http://www.dricore.com) when we gutted and rebuilt the lower level because I didn't want anything lying in direct contact with the concrete. My guess is that the largest share is being introduced by the heat recovery and ventilation system, which is sucking-in outside air that is often at 80 to 100 per cent RH. We use the kitchen extractor when cooking and have switched from propane to induction to further reduce the amount of moisture generated. Anyway, indoor drying is off the table due to the aforementioned concerns.


Paul's climate is WET. Follow his posts and you will see that he has put a lot of effort into cutting humidity. When you start out with a local atmosphere that is saturated it makes matters somewhat more difficult. We may get 90% RH, in the rainy season, or even 100% during storms, but there is sufficient low humidity, more exactly middle hummmidity time, to dry clothes out but it is a pain trying to keep the house dry.


I use an electric dryer and have all my life, so I'm not trying to sound superior, but presumably there was a time before electric dryers existed, when people in Halifax (and Seattle where I live) wore clothes, washed them and dried them, and lived in homes, and somehow figured out how to thrive for quite a few generations and weren't devastated by mold everywhere. How did they manage this...I really want to know? So often people say "I couldn't live without such and such modern convenience" but the fact remains that many, many people were able to do it for many generations, Are we just a bunch of wimps, or were our ancestors lives truly brutish, unhappy, short....

A pulley type clothesline is on my wishlist...sure wish I had a dryish carport.

" How did they manage this...I really want to know?"

Buildings weren't as tight 'back in the day'. It isn't so much humidity that causes mold, it's condensed humidity. Making the building's envelope air tight creates it's own set of problems, especially in older homes; lots of thermal bridging creates places for moisture to condense. They also probably didn't keep their homes as warm; less differential, different dew points. Wood and oil heaters also created more air exchanges and leaky single pane windows make great dehumidifiers.

As for drying clothes, we have a drying rack we set next to the wood stove in winter to dry sweaters and stuff. The old floor heaters were great to dry stuff over, and if your house leaks like a sieve, moisture isn't likely to be a big problem.

I don't know about YOUR ancestors, but I understand that many of my ancestors lived very long lives. My grandfather on my father's side is still alive at 91, my great-grandmother on that side lived to a similar age, and my mother tells me that I have relatives on her side who lived past 90 as well... The "short" claim is really suspicious to me. There were more stupid ways to die (look at how many died making the Hoover Dam and other things before modern safety expectations), and more ways to die due to less powerful medicine (illness of all kinds), but that doesn't mean people didn't live fairly long lives fairly often.

I know my mom remembers using a washer that had a clothes wringer attached. I think most washers have a strong enough spin cycle now to make it a moot point, though.

As for clotheslines, what I used in Japan was more of a pole that was on the balcony. I put my clothes on hangers and hung them up from the pole. They have special hangers for pants and socks and stuff. Drying didn't strike me as much work. Now, if I had to hand-wash everything I think I would have more trouble. Used to be "washing day" was well-hated. I read a book, Zero-Impact Man, in which the guy cut out everything down to toilet paper, and he states that the washer was one thing he went back to afterward. No electric light after dark? No TV? No toilet paper? Easy. No washer? Apparently not so easy.

Perhaps laundry was a little easier to manager when at least one family member stayed at home. We both work during the day, so neither one of us can dash out to grab the clothes off the line if the weather should take a sudden turn for the worse.

With regards to mould and mildew, we have a finished basement, and this is the principal area of concern because we keep this part of the house several degrees cooler than the main living area (keep in mind that relative humidity increases as temperature falls). If we kept the lower level at 21°C as opposed to 16°C, then the problem would largely go away. Years ago, most homes didn't have finished basements, or if they did the homeowner wisely kept them properly conditioned. Yes, I could always crank-up the thermostat to help keep things dry/raise the dew point, but then I'd lose more heat through the foundation walls and un-insulated slab and, of course, burn through more kWh than I'd like. Am I any further ahead?

So, it's all very well and good to lecture others as to how they should conduct their private affairs, and God knows I've always enjoyed my turn in the pulpit, but on this issue I'm deaf in both ears. Sorry.


With Respect for Your Many Efforts in Many Areas,

Consider air drying (inside or out) when the weather allows it (with a high degree of confidence - is that EVER true in Nova Scotia ?). And then perhaps a brief spin if needed for softness, etc.

Best Hopes,


I stopped using the dryer a couple of years ago and just hang my clothes on a rack inside to dry (live in Southern California, so weather is good for it). I always hated the noise from the dryer, and much prefer the quiet. Clothes are ready to fold or hang up in a day or two, or whenever I get around to it. My two small drying racks aren't likely to need major maintenance in the next decade or two. Cheaper, quieter, easier, no carbon emissions.

Build an insulated box of sufficient size to put a clothes rack in. Buy a $60 dehumidifier - put it in the box with your clothes. Et voila! Saved yourself $1,900.

I see so many awesome opportunities to couple a standard air-source heat pump compressor to other devices...water heater and clothes dryer in particular. The process of defrosting would have to change though. I'm kind of blown away that they haven't implemented systems which can close the shell while defrosting so they don't lose so much heat during the cycle. (And the fan blades look like they were designed by some artist that wanted to make them look "pretty" and not someone familiar with aerodynamics.)

Even in the UK with 20% VAT HP tumble dryers start discount at just over 350GBP about 50% more than a standard one. 700W is quoted as being equivalent to over 2KW equivalent but the users reviews generally quote increased drying time.

href=http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B006ZJKARS Amazon reviews

One thing I do love about this dryer is that anything that you need to iron is very easy to iron after it comes out of this type of dryer as the items are not cooked with a very high temperature hot air blast like a normal tumble dryer and it leaves most items very soft without using a dryer sheet.

Others note that it's a good match for a small scale PV system as you can run both the wash and drying machines together within a 2KWp system and gain from the diversity of the load only losing out during the heating cycle of the washer (with a 30C wash this is minimal most A rated washers have this program).

When our current Beko drier dies I'd definitely replace with a HP version as on a sunny day the entire weeks wash and dry load would be almost free electricity.

You've touched on a couple good points. Our heat pump water heater draws between 450 and 650-watts depending upon the temperature of the water circulating at the bottom of the tank; a conventional North American water heater could be anywhere from 3,000 to 5,500-watts, or five to ten times that. And as noted above, a North American dryer can pull over 5,000-watts whenever the heating elements are energized.

I can't go to a work site looking like a ragamuffin, so I iron everything I wear with a steam iron. The shirts and pants that I've hang-dried often come out stiff as board and require a fair amount of pressing. Less ironing translates into reduced energy use and moisture loads.


Hi Paul can you give me a link to that h20 heater...thanks

Sure. It's a Nyle Geyser RO heat pump add-on and it's tied to our SuperStor Ultra "side-arm" or "boilermate".

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1914.jpg

For more information, see: http://water.nyle.com/residential/

See also: http://vimeo.com/43626189

Last month, with inlet temperatures not that much above freezing, it consumed a total of 47.7 kWh or an average of 1.54 kWh a day (two person household). It's controlled by a mechanical timer that is plugged into a power monitor, and I log its usage in a spreadsheet.


Seems less expensive to switch to clothes dryers to use vacuum to "boil off" the water.

Device could be the same shape of a conventional clothes tumble dryer, but instead of a tumbler and heat source, would have a vacuum source (compressor) and thick enough vessel to withstand the atmospheric pressure from the outside.

Since boiling temperature depends on pressure, even a cold basement room would probably do (as long as above vacuum or near vacuum boiling point temperature of water), I would imagine the KWH to dry a load of fabric would be low.

But lowest tech and historically proven way would be just to hang the clothes to dry on clothes lines ; )

Here, this news should make a few folks around here happy !

Energy-efficiency campaign includes clothesline giveaway

Nova Scotians who buy select energy-efficient products over the next two months will get instant savings at the cash register in more than 200 stores across the province.

As well, as part of the campaign, Efficiency Nova Scotia will distribute 6,800 clotheslines to customers who pledge to use them.

From April 1 until May 31, savings of $3 to $100 will be provided on products like Energy Star compact fluorescent lamps, select indoor and outdoor motion sensors, power bars with timers and select Energy Star refrigerators and clothes washers.

“Clothes dryers use an awful lot of energy,” Lauren McNutt, program manager with Efficiency Nova Scotia, said in a news release.

“This is one small way we can draw attention to that and help Nova Scotians save money — and energy.”

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1120496-energy-efficiency-campai...

Now, please excuse me whilst I plug-in the block heater for my HEMI V8. ;-)


Hi Paul, I believe you mentioned a heat pump water heater that is much more efficient...can you give us a link to that or maybe I missed understood....also do you know where I can find efficiencies of heat pump heaters...thanks

The EF or Energy Factor for heat pump water heaters generally falls between 2.0 and 2.2, so their operating costs are a little less than half that of electric resistance (0.85 - 0.90 EF).

For a general overview on domestic water heating, see: http://aceee.org/consumer/water-heating

For a more in-depth assessment, see: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51433.pdf (PDF Format)



Any thoughts on LEDs for replacement of T8s in indoor commercial office lighting?

Actually, if you see this note, please reply at a newer one:

I would have thought one would be in more danger holding and firing a gun with a barrel made of plastic than being shot at with it?
Are there plastics that can handle the stresses that traditional high quality steel barrels can?


The average cop can work for a while career and not once fire his gun in anger.

If you only have to fire the gun once, you can use a plastic barrel just fine.

That would be my guess. It probably wears out from use pretty quickly. Nylon is actually a pretty tough material. I can remember my climbing days, I had a few nylon chocks (wedges you put into cracks to be able to stop a fall). My partners were always suspicious of them. I had more confidence in them then the metal ones, rather than popping out, they were likely to weld themselves in during a fall (then you would never be able to get it out).

These must be a nightmare for the homeland security airline screener types though.

It's said that carbon fiber composite is stronger than steel for the same weight. One could make the action and barrel of a gun with carbon fiber, then the rest of the gun might be made of more normal plastics, such as found in newer plastic framed handguns. I doubt that carbon fiber impregnated parts could be made by present 3-D printing technology because the strength is the result of the interwoven strands of fiber, but such may appear as development proceeds. There would still be a need for springs, which are usually made of special steel, for the firing mechanism and for the magazine...

E. Swanson

Never once did my friend in 25 years ever have to fire his weapon at anyone, probably only had to have it drawn less than 10 times a year.

Now he did fire thousands of rounds a year in practice and qualification.

I really do not want someone handling a weapon, that only intends to fire it a couple times.

There is no such thing as a 3D printed barrel. Just various components that don't take so much stress. Basically what you would expect from a 3D printer, a lot of hype and very little delivery. I can't understand how people get excited about it, honestly plastic is still just plastic, even when it comes from a 3D printer.

You don't need a real gun to fight, only a cheap, mass manufactured one which can be fired once. You sneak up on someone with a real gun and fire once and relieve them of their weapon. It's psychological effect is even deadlier.


Sort of like the mine problem, "takes only one mine to create a minefield".

Are there plastics that can handle the stresses that traditional high quality steel barrels can?

Dunno. But I believe that the Chinese had developed gun barrels made out of bamboo, sorry, don't have a link handy.


I once joked in my thermo lecture that the fire tube, rightly pursued, would have put the asians in the place of us northern european barbarians as rulers of the world, and I got a thick burst of flak from the conservative faculty as a result.

Just as well, I knew I was way out of place there anyhow.

TransCanada moves ahead on ambitious plan to pipe oil to Quebec, N.B.

TransCanada Corp. is taking the next big step on an ambitious plan to bring western Canadian crude to the country’s east coast, asking potential shippers for firm commitments to move oil on the proposed line.

The Energy East Pipeline project has won endorsement from politicians across the country who see it as providing a market for western producers and a way of getting Canadian oil to domestic refineries that now rely on high-priced imported crude.

The pipeline would carry up to 850,000 barrels per day of crude to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick, and possibly to a small refinery in Dartmouth, N.S., as well as for export to the U.S. east coast and beyond.

The proposal has won endorsement from Alberta Premier Alison Redford and her New Brunswick counterpart, David Alward, as well as both the Harper government and the NDP opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has been consulted on the project and has given support in principle.

Anything about an electrical corridor from Manitoba, etc. to supply the east over western Ontario?

I would rather hear more about twinning highways and railroads and having an electrical distribution line through upper Ontario.

It is interesting that they wish to reconfigure a natural gas line for part of the route. CBC radio (2) during the day was playing up the Nova Scotia angle and not mentioning the larger refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.

I would much rather see that tar sit in the ground awhile longer and be extracted very slowly. But anything that might scuttle the insanity of the proposed twinned lines west out to BC over the Rockies and into Vancouver or Kitimat has my grudging respect. It will be interesting to see the what the new leaders in BC will have to say about it.

Of course the devil is always in the details. One viewpoint on some of the details of building, maintaining and shutting down pipelines over their lives is


He documented oil-pipeline spills that had not been cleaned up in Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

And he provided evidence that the National Energy Board has left the industry off the hook for multibillion-dollar abandonment liabilities on 70,000 kilometers of federally-regulated pipelines. In other words, pipeline companies can abandon their corroded steel pipes in the ground (a hazard to groundwater and livestock) and walk away.

Oil patch rides the rails to price surge

Price discounts on western Canada’s heavy oil have narrowed dramatically, as producers move record amounts of crude by rail in order to sidestep pipeline bottlenecks and reach thirsty U.S. refineries.

The price spread between Western Canadian Select and the North American benchmark is at its narrowest in more than a year, after shrinking rapidly in the last month. WCS sold for about $78 (U.S.) a barrel late last week, about $15 a barrel less than West Texas intermediate oil. That differential had reached nearly $35 in January.

The shrinking spread gives a reprieve to energy companies producing heavy oil in western Canada.

Those companies, which include global giants and small producers, have been hammered by the steep discount, leaving some to trim their budgets and pull back on expansion plans. The reduced differential is also welcome news for the government of Alberta, which is facing its sixth deficit in a row due in part to the price gap weighing on royalty revenue.

Westexas suggested that you might have information about the cost of natural gas used in tar sands processing. If so, I'd like to correspond. You can contact me at kurtcobb2001@yahoo.com. Thanks.

My source for natural gas prices is the Canadian Daily Oil Bulletin: http://www.dailyoilbulletin.com/

Most of it is a pay site, but the spot market prices for crude oil and natural gas are available to anyone on the home page.

AECO/NGX Spot Price - Settlement $3.405 CAD/GJ

One Canadian dollar is about the same as one US dollar and one gigajoule is about the energy content of one thousand cubic feet, so the rough conversion into US units is rather simple. 1 = 1.

That can be considered to be the net avoidable cost, because as an alternative to burning it themselves, they could sell it on the Alberta spot market. Determining the actual cost to the company is tougher because most of them produce most of their own natural gas (there are gas fields underneath and near the oil sands) and selling it to themselves is an internal transaction. In addition, the oil sands plants themselves produce a lot of process gas which they burn in their own operations, so I would be inclined to go with the spot market price in evaluating their fuel costs.

I have no idea how accurate this is:

2013 Hurricane Season Forecast

He's predicting a banner year for hurricanes, especially along the east coast.

On the bright side, the coastal drought will end.

This is a weather forecast; at the end of the sheet, the author seems to be trying to say that "there is no unusual weather going on, nothing to see here. Move along." His point being that there is always weather. Some years there are more hurricanes and storms, some years there are fewer, and nothing has changed. No change to numbers; no change to strength - just variations on what the earth has 'evolved' into.


FWIW, Weatherbell is Joe Bastardi's outfit:


He is a climate change skeptic, and contends broadly that we will enter a long term cooling phase driven by an excess of La Nina events.

I posted it as a weather forecast. Hurricanes are what made TOD what it is today.

There is a theory that for whatever reason, hurricanes fall into patterns. That one year when Florida got walloped by hurricane after hurricane. Then they moved west, hitting the New Orleans and Houston in following years.

So I do think it's possible that the East Coast is in the crosshairs now. Irene and Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage, and it would not be good if there's more where they came from.

Hurricanes may have made TOD, but it was the BP oil spill that created what we see now.

The interest and attention that truly educated commentary provided was amazing. After that, the Japanese Tsunami sealed the deal.

As for East Coast hurricanes, well it is difficult enough to forecast numbers. Past efforts have not been hugely successful, though trend forecasting seems to be a better bet. For a while central Texas was hit by serious Hurricanes every 10 years or so. During the past 40 years, not so much. So, seeing NY hit two years in a row may be an anomoly or a trend. I think it is too early to tell.

After reviewing a few articles, I would say that the AGW guys have not hit very well... first they thought more, then more severe hurricanes, both based on a year or two of "trend". It may be that the "Global Weirding" people have something. Only I don't know how you can use that in a predictive way. "The weather will not be what we expect" does not say much when you never knew what to expect in the first place.


Hurricanes may have made TOD, but it was the BP oil spill that created what we see now.

I don't think I agree with that. No offense to those who found us via the BP updates, but I don't think that had as large an effect as our hurricane coverage back in 2005. And I, personally, thought that the attention the BP stuff brought was, overall, not good. It was extremely politicized. I mostly avoided those threads, but I saw the aftermath: hundreds of posts deleted every day, mostly political rants and personal attacks. It got so bad I couldn't even look at the "hidden posts" section; it was so big it crashed the site if you tried to access it.

And Fukushima was worse. Most of the people attracted to those threads knew little about nuclear power, and it quickly degenerated into partisan attacks with a lot of bombast and not much knowledge. Which is why we quickly decided to stop that coverage.

I guess we didn't see that part of the BP coverage; we did increase our readership considerably then (and numbers may have dropped but haven't returned to the pre-BP figures that I can tell).

I thought the regulars did a good job of coverage. It was interesting to read, and looked like a pretty fair education for those who knew little.

I tend to disregard personal attacks... try not to make them, and believe part of civilization means being civil with one another. Surprised at that comment, but can understand from your POV if you were deleting posts (or noting those flagged off).

I came to TOD several years post 2005, so can't relate to that. My arrival was precipitated by observation of oil markets, and trolling the web for material. Can't say I am sorry I got here, though. It has remained the main focus of web research, covering both Oil and AGW. Economics I get from TAE, and I have stopped looking for / reading political blogs. They are really depressing!


North Carolina has seen an increasing number of storms since the 70s, especially since the mid 80s. Floyd, Dianna, Gloria, Emily, Fran, all had major impacts during a relatively short period. Storm frequency has definitly increased:


Weather or climate change?

I think these jet stream loops (yes, I know they are really a consequence of temperature differences, not a driver) will determine what goes where. It seems to be all about steering currents with hurricanes.

Hurricane Sandy formed right after a M-9.0 solar flare on Oct 20 and recieved additional energy from an X-1.8 on Oct 23.
Cycle 24- top 25 list - http://www.solarham.net/top10.txt
After watching cyclones form after solar flare events for two hurricane seasons,2011 and 2012 , I wondered if there were any solar flares around the time of Katrina and associated cyclones in that set.
A quick google search found yes, there were:
From 22 Aug'05 to 17 Sept'05 there were 30 M-class and 11 X-class solar flares,the largest an X-17 on 7 Sept.

Then between Solar Cycle 23 and 24 there was a record number of days without sunspot, and a record number of days with no landfall hurricanes in the US-2232 days.

Solar Cycle 24 isn't done yet, http://www.solarham.net/averages.htm
so there will be more events to monitor before the sun takes a nap again ;-)

I think it's a bit early to issue a forecast for the hurricane season. Also, the author of that piece didn't identify himself, even thou speaking in the first person. Was it Joe Bastardi or Joe D’Aleo? Not that it matters, they both have taken the stance that there's no problem with global warming or climate change. Whom ever the author, he didn't mention the fact that last year's super storm Sandy tracked over a large area of very warm water, including the Gulf Stream. He does mention the Loop Current, as if it were detached from the general flow of the Western Boundary Current which flows thru the Caribbean Sea, into the Gulf of Mexico and back out into the Atlantic as the Florida Current.

I think it's well understood that the El Nino cycle (aka, ENSO) is the leading cause for most of the year-to-year variation in weather. As a result, there's a quasi 2 year cycle in weather, so one might expect that this year's hurricane season won't be like last year's. I think he says this, although with lots of other "indicators" thrown in, such as the NAO, the AMO and the PDO. Note the AMO definition:

The AMO signal is usually defined from the patterns of SST variability in the North Atlantic once any linear trend has been removed. This detrending is intended to remove the influence of greenhouse gas-induced global warming from the analysis. However, if the global warming signal is significantly non-linear in time (i.e. not just a smooth linear increase), variations in the forced signal will leak into the AMO definition. Consequently, correlations with the AMO index may alias(?) effects of global warming.
[emphasis added]

Of course, he doesn't mention the recent colder than usual weather over Europe and the UK, the result of easterly flow and blocking over the Nordic Seas. Is the loss of sea-ice actually impacting the weather and if so, will that also impact the summer hurricane season? Ultimately, the implicit assumption offered is that the future will be a repeat of past patterns of variation. Only the passage of time will give proof to that assumption...

E. Swanson

Wal-Mart Customers Complain Bare Shelves Are Widespread

Ghung, your observation about bare shelves is spot on. It's not just a phenomenon local to you. This is not a story left over from a while ago, it's dated today. This is not an indication that things are improving and we're going to get back to normal for even a little while!

YOu sometimes find interesting views like:

No one could find the batteries and a worker didn’t know how to change it anyway, he said.

“The lady told me to go to a pawn shop to have it changed,” he said.

Perhaps a look into the future where there are Wal-Marts and pawn shops, and not much else.

That says something... I am just not sure what.


Three things lead me to doubt that it's not only not having enough employees to restock shelves. When I took the picture I posted a few weeks ago, there was an employee moving stock around, consolidating stuff from several coolers into one area (making at least that one cooler look fuller).

I stopped in last week to get my wife a new car battery and couldn't find the correct battery on the rack. There was an employee in the automotive department who went in the back room to check. He came out and said that whatever was on the rack was all they had in stock; "check back in a few days, better call first".

I went to the milk section to get our coffee creamer. Same story. I peaked through the back of the cooler to see if I could see any creamer (and find someone to retrieve it). The large storage cooler only had a couple of pallets of milk in it and some margarine/butter; was mostly empty. They were also out of the cashews my wife likes, didn't even have dry-roasted peanuts, and the peanut butter section was nearly bare. Lots of potato chips though. Why would they fully stock potato chips and let the peanut butter shelf go bare? Maybe the chip vendor had been there recently and done the stocking :-0

I'm not seeing any stock shortages at our local Walmart, though maybe that is because we are located in Canada. Canadian stores would be run by a subsidiary of Walmart so management practices may differ.

Our Walmart here in No. CA was having a bare shelf problem too, but the other day I was there they were stocking shelves throughout the store during the day. Having seen Ghung's posts I asked an employee about it and he said, "Yeah they've been stocking all day long." So maybe they are trying to solve the problem.

On another note, I was trying to find the paint guy and when I finally did he said Walmart had him assigned to that whole end of the store, which includes food/paint/hardware/automotive/sporting goods and housewares. He said, "They want me to do everything and pay me nothing", to whit another employee laughed. I guess laughter is the best medicine.

Laughter followed by ramming your Pimpwagon into the store and proceeding on a rampage?


I have to say that I find it hilarious that Walmart is so damn greedy that they're actually fleecing their own stores like the do the American public.

I've been having problems with items running out in the local Costco, some for the second time in a week. Had a good chew on the service counter staff. Wallymart seems stocked but I don't visit there often.


Glad to see Hansen will now be able to say whatever he wants about the topic. Speaking of which, here is a great video link below I found the other day on Youtube on the current state of AGW by David Wasdell. He says Earth’s climate history has a record of going from one extreme to another with stable periods in between, but it is a system that does not take much forcing to push it towards another state. He says runaway GW in his opinion has already started, but not passed the threshold whereupon it will no longer be possible to stop a full on extinction event, however the longer we wait the more it will cost to stop it.

Catastrophic Climate Change & Runaway Global Warming - David Wasdell

Keeping in mind, Earl, that the video was made about 5 years ago, do you think we are any closer to stopping it now than we were then? Has 5 years of Obama made any discernable difference? Is the Democratic Party really any different from the Republicans under Bush II?

Tell ya what, my friend. It gets pretty scary when you stop to think of the ramifications, and what it says about our will to survive.

Republicans: Hey, I may not survive, but I will make a lot of money before it all ends.

Democrats: Hey, I may not survive, but at least I will be in office when it all comes to an end.

Common element: Hey, I may not survive!


Wow, it sounded so cutting edge I had no idea it was dated from five years ago. Do I think we are any closer to stopping AGW than five years ago? No. I personally don't hold out a lot of hope on the topic because it seems like the cake is baked, but you have to give people their illusions. I thought it was actually funny when in the video towards the end he gets very upbeat about what can be done (probably to be politically correct since presenters seem to feel a need to end their lectures on a positive note), that he is convinced people can work together moving like a flock of birds or school of fish making a turn in unison. Huh?! How he can say that in a world so divided I have no idea. But did find his scientific perspective, albeit dated, to be in line with what I think too about already being in the early stages of runaway GW.

... moving like a flock of birds or school of fish making a turn in unison ...

Maybe we have a hive mind then. That is, I will admit, a pleasant thought.

Best hopes for bird brains.


Its all about jobs -or at least the perception that a politician is helping make them. And it is about corporate profits. Both parties realize this.

I admire his spirit. I've personally kinda given up hope. I'll continue to personally do my part but I've given up hope that we are going to do anything serious about climate change until we get slapped down hard with 5 to 10 more serious climate change events such as droughts, hurricanes, floods, ocean rise, etc. Maybe more will be needed. Or a foot or so of ocean level rise.

Again, I think climate change is too much like evolution . . . it occurs on time scales that are too difficult for us little humans to understand and appreciate. The amount of change that happens during any one lifetime is too small for people to personally detect and appreciate. We have 200+ years of cummulative evidence for evolution and people still don't believe it. And that is something that happened in the PAST. How are we going to get people to believe in (and care about) something that happens slowly in the future. People just don't care. And screw the kids & grandkids, let them figure it out.

Hey, spec! Less than a lifetime:


from ~315 in 1959 to 396+ in 2012.

Who says we can't impact the planet! Homo sapiens! Yay!

*Strange species, homo sapiens sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.**


Zaph, CO2 ppm is even higher near and in the Arctic circle than in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.


'Atmospheric CO2 Levels Over Arctic Have Reached 400 Parts Per Million'
Written by Megan Treacy on May 31st, 2012

The atmosphere over the Arctic has hit a troublesome milestone: the concentration of CO2 has surpassed 400 parts per million. Stations across the region in Alaska, Greenland, Norway and Iceland have recorded the measurements that have surged since the winter and spring have brought a decline in CO2-absorbing vegetation. While the downswing in carbon absorption happens every year, this is the first time in 800,000 years that the CO2 concentration anywhere in the world has been 400 ppm or above.

Excellent article by Alan von Altendorf on Seeking Alpha:

The Myth Of U.S. Energy Independence

I don't agree with everything he says, but overall an excellent analysis with extensive citations of TOD, Art Berman, etc.

Good article until he veers off into Never Never Land with his talk about disbanding the EPA.

Hybrid sales up 32% so far in 2013 compared to same period last year

According to the latest data for the months of January and February 2013, sales of hybrid cars are up an impressive 32% compared to the same months last year. So about 61,000 hybrids were sold in the first two months of 2012, and around 80,000 were sold in the first two months of this year.

Why have the VLCC rates collapsed? Is it because OPEC exports are going down? It can't be the reduction in demand because in that case the price of oil would go down too.