Drumbeat: April 20, 2013

Russia says Egypt asks for help with gas supplies to Europe

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Egypt, struggling to meet domestic energy demand, has asked Russia to help it fulfil its gas supply contracts with Europe, Russia's Energy Minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.

He also said Egypt had offered some Russian companies, including Gazprom , Gazprom Neft , Lukoil and Novatek , opportunities in the North African country's offshore oil and gas sector.

"The gas, which they were supposed to ship (abroad) under a contract, may be left for domestic consumption, while we could fulfil the contract via a swap supply by Gazprom," Alexander Novak was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Fossil fuel subsidies: the addiction Egypt just can’t kick

Fossil fuel subsidies cost governments $523bn a year, but despite a growing consensus that they should be reformed, they linger on.

Earlier this month Egypt walked away from negotiations on a $4.8bn lifeline loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), despite its parlous financial situation.

The falsehood of ‘Peak Oil Theory’

In the last few years, there were several attempts from several non-specialized writers in the Saudi media to advocate for what is called “Peak Oil Theory” that wrongly predicts dark future for oil production.

This theory was introduced in the US after the oil embargo in early 70s by some bankers stating that when 1/2 of the oil reserves in any field is produced, the production will follow steep decline. This concept is based on a probability theory that is not linked to any scientific facts or physical laws that govern oil production in oil reservoirs.

In addition, what makes this theory completely false is the fact that it totally ignores the impact of technological advancements in increasing the recovery factor and the probability to find new oil discoveries.

Crude Increases a Second Day

Crude advanced for a second day, paring its third weekly drop, on speculation that declines were excessive and as the euro increased against the dollar.

West Texas Intermediate oil rose 0.3 percent. Prices gained the most in three weeks yesterday after the 14-day relative- strength index sank below 30 on April 17, a sign the market is oversold, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Commodities gained with the euro after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview with Wirtschaftswoche magazine that the European Central Bank should reduce liquidity in the euro area.

Heavy Louisiana Sweet Oil Weakest Against WTI Since January 2012

Heavy Louisiana Sweet oil’s premium to West Texas Intermediate on the spot market shrank to the narrowest level since January 2012 as Brent held at about $11 a barrel more than WTI.

Brent’s premium over the U.S. benchmark has fallen by more than half since February as refinery turnarounds and disappointing economic data out of Europe and Asia have diminished demand. The June European benchmark’s premium to WTI for same-month delivery was $11.24 a barrel at 2:14 p.m. New York time.

Los Angeles Gasoline Weakens as Refinery Restarts Unit This Week

Transportation fuels on the spot market in Los Angeles weakened as Chevron Corp. was scheduled to bring the fluid catalytic cracker online this week at its El Segundo refinery in Southern California.

Iran sees no need for OPEC emergency meeting over drop in prices

TEHRAN - Iran sees no need for an emergency meeting of the oil cartel OPEC over a recent drop in crude prices before the producers' annual session at the end of May, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said Saturday.

"No extraordinary meeting is needed as the May 31 meeting is coming up, and the price of oil had not gone below 100 dollars per barrel for a long time," Qasemi told reporters on the sidelines of an oil and gas trade fair in Tehran.

Commodities Supercycle Seen Intact by Mercuria Energy

The commodity supercycle is in no danger of ending even as raw materials prices head for their worst month since May, according to Mercuria Energy Trading SA.

Economic growth in China will keep driving demand for everything from oil to metals, with crude prices likely to recover later this quarter, Roger Jones, Mercuria’s global head of non-oil trading, said this week at the Financial Times Global Commodities Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Ethanol Strengthens Against Gasoline on Below-Average Production

Ethanol strengthened against gasoline on speculation that demand for the biofuel is outstripping supply.

The fuels’ spread shrank by 1.11 cents to 28.44 cents a gallon as production of the fuel reached 832,000 barrels a day last week, the lowest level for this time of year in records going back to June 2010, a report from the Energy Information Administration showed. Inventories have fallen 11 out of the 15 weeks so far this year.

California Power Facing Biggest Test Since Enron

California may face the biggest regional power shortages in more than a decade this summer, sending wholesale prices higher, as idled nuclear reactors and low hydroelectric output cut generating capacity.

Official: Venezuela will audit 100% of election results

(CNN) -- Venezuela's top election official said Thursday that authorities will complete a 100% audit of votes cast in Sunday's presidential election.

Tibisay Lucena, president of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, said officials decided on the audit after a lengthy debate.

War-torn Caucasus may be at root of the brothers' rage

MOSCOW — The journey that led two brothers to bomb the Boston Marathon has its roots in the strife-ridden violent Muslim region of Russia known as North Caucasus, where jihadists have been trying to take over for years, an expert says.

"Although the two suspects may not have lived in Chechnya, they are likely to have socialized with Chechens, both in the United States and online," said Oliver Bullough, an author and North Caucasus expert.

Experts: Growing piracy across West Africa takes root in oil-slicked creeks of Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria — Experts say that the growing piracy off the coast of West Africa takes root in the oil-slicked creeks of Nigeria’s southern delta.

Speaking Saturday at a conference on piracy, the experts say the majority of the attacks happening across the Gulf of Guinea mostly happen along Nigeria’s coast. The experts say those committing the acts likely come from the militant groups of the Niger Delta.

Uganda: Battle for oil contracts

With local businesses crying foul over big oil contracts and jobs going to international companies and expatriates, oil companies are drawing strategies to improve their local content input.

French oil giant Total E&P has announced it is spending US$ 1.5 million (Shs 3.9 billion) for an international firm to conduct an industry survey to map the Ugandan market and find out what companies and competencies are available in its local content drive.

In latest legal blow, Pakistani court confines Musharraf to his home

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A day after he made a swift exit from an Islamabad court when a judge revoked his bail, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appeared before a magistrate on Friday and was formally placed under house arrest.

The development is the latest setback to Musharraf since the former military ruler returned to Pakistan last month to fight a series of court cases against him and re-enter the country's turbulent political scene by seeking to run in upcoming elections.

Tehran, Pyongyang in Talks over Supply of Iranian Crude

Speaking in a Q&A session at the 18th International Exhibition of Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemicals here in Tehran today, Qassemi said his North Korean counterpart is visiting the exhibition at the head of a delegation.

"We have had some negotiations with the country's oil industry minister about exports of oil to North Korea and these negotiations are still underway," Qassemi said.

Iran, EU Strike Agreement over Payment of Shell's Overdue Debts to Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran has worked out a deal with the EU to receive its blocked money from the Royal Dutch Shell, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi announced on Saturday.

Official: India Keen to Join IP Gas Pipeline

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Oil Ministry Spokesman Alireza Nikzad Rahbar said that New Delhi has shown interest in the extension of Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline to India.

"Since India has been motivated by Pakistan's seriousness in construction of the (Iran-Pakistan) peace pipeline, New Delhi is negotiating to join the project," Nikzad Rahbar said on Friday.

Women Cash In on Dakota Oil Service Needs to Sustain Boom

Amanda Kieson gets calls at 2:30 a.m. to collect urine samples from workers involved in accidents in western North Dakota’s oil industry. The 33-year-old mother of two says she opened her testing service two years ago to get a part of the economic bonanza engulfing the region.

Canadian ambassador to U.S. calls for Keystone XL approval

As the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline sharpened this week at State Department hearings in Nebraska, Canada’s ambassador to the United States called for approval of the giant pipeline intended to carry oil from Alberta and North Dakota south across the Great Plains.

BP Halts This $10 Billion Project

The Gulf of Mexico site where BP planned to start the second phase of Mad Dog is still a sore spot for the oil giant. In 2010, the biggest oil spill ever off the coast of the U.S. prompted a multi-billion dollar settlement and bad press worldwide. BP was planning to get production going with this project and was to invest close to $10 billion to access the oil-rich reserves and potentially start bringing the oil to consumers by the end of the current decade.

The company’s decision will stop effectively that momentum, leaving BP with the recent court defeat in the Deepwater Horizon settlement as its primary concern in the Gulf of Mexico area. The oil spill required a giant settlement following the damage caused to human lives, property and business in the region. The mining industry will take another major hit following the halting of the Mad Dog project.

BP Still Uncertain Over Spill Cost at Third Anniversary

BP Plc faces the third anniversary of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico today with no sure knowledge of how much more it will have to pay government and private plaintiffs over the disaster.

Three Years After the BP Spill, Tar Balls and Oil Sheen Blight Gulf Coast

The rest of the U.S. may have moved on, but along the coast where oil drifted to shore, residents are still waiting for some kind of closure.

Mississippi Suing BP Over Gulf Oil Spill

Mississippi has become the third state to sue BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. State Attorney General Jim Hood said on Friday that the state had filed suits in federal and state court.

3 Years Later: What BP's Disaster Has Taught America?

First of all, as despised as BP was as it raced to cap the well, we're actually lucky that the disaster happened to a company with the financial resources of the oil giant. So far, the company has agreed to pay more than $30 billion in fines, settlements, and cleanup costs. Very few companies could pull that off without going bankrupt.

That's why we need to look at the disaster in terms of risk. For most Americans, we see the spill and its aftermath as evidence of the risk of doing business, so to speak. We need the oil, and it's better to get it from our own backyard than to import it from overseas.

Will hunt for oil off Atlantic coast, Florida deafen dolphins?

Hunting for oil and gas deposits off the Atlantic coast with gear that produces underwater sound blasts 100,000 times stronger than a jet engine could harm or kill tens of thousands of whales and dolphins, an environmental group contends in a new report.

The devices, called seismic air guns, are routinely used during offshore geological surveys. Towed behind vessels, they fire intense bursts of compressed air that shoot sound waves and bounce echoes off the sea floor that help pinpoint promising areas for exploration.

Boeing 787 Battery Fix Wins Approval to Resume Flights

Boeing Co. won U.S. approval for the 787 Dreamliner’s redesigned battery, setting the stage for ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co., the jet’s two biggest operators, to seek domestic clearance to restart flights.

E.P.A. Issues Plan on Tainted Water From Power Plants

Power producers would have to curb the tainted water they discharge into waterways under a proposal issued by the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, the latest in a series of rules focused on utilities that burn coal.

U.S. Supreme Court asked to hear EPA greenhouse gas challenge

(Reuters) - Top industry groups and a dozen states have asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision upholding the Obama administration's plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions generated by power plants and vehicles.

An Earth Day Message: Take Heart from the Abolition Movement

On this Earth Day, those of us fighting for climate justice and an end to the world’s fossil fuel domination should take heart from the struggle against slavery.

Climate inaction likely to deepen EU divisions - paper

(Reuters) - The European Union must take measures to prevent the destruction of crops and property by extreme weather or face instability and deeper social divisions as a result of potential climate change, a European Commission document said.

The discussion paper, seen by Reuters, calls for a pre-emptive, EU-wide strategy, taking account of factors such as disruption to energy and food supplies.

Re: The falsehood of ‘Peak Oil Theory’, above, I tried to post a comment regarding the M. King Hubbert origin of peak oil; not sure it'll fly. I saw this article, Saudi Arabia: Sustainability makes business sense, also at the Saudi Gazette. Some of you may find it more interesting (less frustrating):

The definition of sustainability, from a business perspective, has long been debated. But it can be said with certainty that it means more than addressing our own environmental and social footprints. It means that businesses, large and small, should make every decision with the future in mind, reaching beyond their fences to be a driving force for positive change.

I read that article, "The falsehood of 'Peak Oil Theory" last night and thought it hilarious.

Other main oil producers such as Saudi Arabia had maintained its oil reserves in the last 20-plus years despite its high production, by adding new discoveries and deploying advanced technologies that significantly increased its field recovery factor to 50 percent – the highest in the world.

They have maintained their reserves for the last 20-plus years with a pencil and nothing else. Their last giant, Shaybah, was discovered in 1968. Two much smaller fields, Hawtah was discovered 1989 and Nuayyim in 1990. Since then they have discovered only a few tiny fields, all of them combined would not equal the 3.5 billion barrels per year they produce.

I don't know what their recovery rate is and I doubt if they do either. But if the world average is from 30 to 35 percent then I would suspect that their fields average about that rate also. All they are doing right now is water flooding. Pressurized water injection is necessary to keep the pressure up won't get them 50%. However...

Saudis Announce 2013 CO2 Injection Plan For Ghawar - But Insist KSA "Does Not Need" Large-Scale EOR (Google it)

They are planning on solar and nuclear energy plants but don't really need them. They are searching the Red Sea under a mile of water and 7,000 feet of salt for oil, but of course they don't need to do that either. And of course they don't need to do any type of enhanced recovery but are going to try it anyway.

Ron P.

Well said - exactly so.

Maintaining and marginally increasing world oil supply becomes increasingly desperate and yet we are told that supplies are growing and there is nothing to worry about. Peak oil theorists were all doomsayers, obviously, and expensive fuel is totally the fault of the greedy oil companies and, in Europe, the taxman as well.

Basically; cut taxes, fine the oil companies, and everything will be well again. New SUV anyone?

He also said, "As we all know, the Saudi oil reserves are maintained for long time at a figure close to 260 billion barrels.." Maintained is the correct word. The reserves are kept there via pencil and (imo) deceit.

Often we see that they are "increasing production by adding more straws", and as we all know, the amount of oil does NOT increase. Their newly discovered fields are neither equal in size nor in quality to the elephants they are meant to replace.

The falsehood seems to be in the statement of "Peak Oil Theory" by Dr. Al-Nuaim. What he stated is called a straw man, wrong in most particulars (it was set forth by bankers?), and the article is, as you said, Ron, hilarious.

But, while I have no need to do so, I will be getting back to work now.


It is indeed frustrating for all peak oilers to read these constant peak oil is dead articles. To suspend reality for a minute, imagine the story was the opposite, imagine the truth was splashed all over the media.

What would happen if people knew and believed in falling supplies over the next 10-15 years, going to zero imports with falling local production. On an individual basis I believe people would cut back spending and look at a more sustainable lifestyle, they would not be buying new cars, nor taking out large loans that required many years to pay back. Basically the economy would crash as spending on discretionary items collapses. People would look for a way out of the rat race immediately for their families. There would be whole sale societal breakdown.

I believe TPTB know all this. The longer they can stave off the inevitable the better for everyone, especially themselves.

It is so easy for me to understand these articles when looked at in this way.

Greetings, Hide-away,

re: "There would be whole sale societal breakdown."

That's what many people say, by which I mean - it's an argument all right.

However, it's partial and, possibly and/or apparently - a rationalization to do nothing and say nothing, which amounts to prevarication if and when one knows the truth of the situation. To me, it's extremely unethical to hedge on this (i.e., telling the truth about peak), if one understands the facts and what they imply.

Here are some other thoughts:

First, dealing with the situation - namely, peak oil, limits to growth (all its factors) - head on, means that people have a chance to apply what we/they have learned - the "best practices" that could at the very least ameliorate suffering. We actually have learned a tremendous amount.

Second, there's a case to be made that the longer the delay, the worse the consequences.

3. There's also a strong case for the idea that the main variable is human behavior. In which case, humans have the possibility - not the probability - but the possibility to make better choices.

4. Peak oil is not the only one of the converging limits and crises. (It occupies a unique spot, IMVHO.)

5. There might be "wholesale" societal work towards resilience. I mean...it is possible.

6. In the attempt to "stave off the inevitable" the case can be made that one makes any possibility of a different outcome, i.e., of intervening in the collapse trajectory - impossible.

For this reason alone, it seems to me the best course is to tell the truth. There's also - so much learning to bring to the challenge. Really. (She says.) Or, as the late Kenneth Boulding said, the situation requires courage and commitment.

7. So, dear TOD colleague, if you have a mind to, please check out our humble effort here and give us your feedback. Such a sensible idea, wilting on the vine, IMVHO.

www.oildepletion.wordpress.com. (i.e., all Help! feedback, etc. most welcome).

Trucks and tractors.

When peak oil is really identified as the problem by the mainstream media/TPTB, then people will start to realise that their food arrives by truck from a farm with tractors to produce it. If the country imports a lot of oil, then people will quickly realise that where they are and what they do is unsustainable and start to change any way they can, panic at the personal level.

The wider economy will quickly suffer from changes in spending patterns. Governments revenue will fall, the ability to kick-start any perceived alternatives will be lost.

The decision to not scare the rabbits has already been made. Only when it becomes so obvious with declines in quantity of imports, much higher prices, and inability of producers to raise production, will scapegoats be looked for, not answers. Currently there is a lot of fat in the system and cutbacks in oil consumption are possible without too much hardship, but this can only last so long and so far with the cutbacks. If/when there is a sharp fall in the production from a sharkfin type drop in production, then game over.

Look at Egypt as an example of the downslope, the rest of us are just a few billion barrels of oil behind.

I'm living in one of the places on the downslope already in my opinion.

Peru is completely dependent on it's energy reserves. It's not like a first world country but a large swathe of the population has bought in to the first world dream and a transition back will be painful. I think in many ways the transition will be harder in developing countries because not only do you have aspirations for wealth but you have very poor social cohesion with violent protests and just plain old normal protests being part of the fabric of society.

A couple of examples -

Lima has a population of something like 9 million people, it's in the middle of the desert and depends entirely on water being pumped from the Amazon basin over the Andes. It's aquifers are already showing signs of depletion with signs everywhere stating that it is illegal to tap them and the one river that supplies it is supplied by glaciers that are melting quickly.

It is completely dependent on energy from the rest of the country and abroad - every single household uses gas and a large portion of the gas again has to travel over the Andes before it can be used.

Peru's agricultural sector highly depends on food production from the coast (desert). The Andes and jungle have mostly been set aside because the difficulty of food production there and a major focus has been put on irrigating desert.

Cusco and other similar cities in the Andes are now completely dependent on Lima as a hub. Everything has to be brought by road - an 18 - 24 hour journey from Lima along a road that frequently experiences landslides and is still yet to be fully repaired after a large section was destroyed by flooding 3 years ago. Even the gas that is produced in the Cusco region is first sent to the coast before it returns to Cusco.

I'm personally noticing rising costs, in the last year basic products such as meat and bread have seen a price increase of 7-10%. Wages in Peru have been steady for about 5 years now.

The biggest problem is that people are still buying in to the dream (I try and explain why that's not such a good idea but as I've found with many South American's, they believe it is their right to have it all - an idea I'm sure has propagated from the U.S). In Cusco a new airport is being planned destroying the best farmland for 100's of km, this is at a time when Peru's tourism sector is already showing decline. People are building houses like crazy with people moving from the countryside to live in the city every day. Everyone is taking out loans to buy new cars and buy overpriced land.

If I and the various members of this board are right and fuel prices will continue to dog the world's economy for the foreseeable future then Peru is setting itself up for a perfect storm as I'm sure many other developing nations are as well.

When I was trekking there, I though Peru was one of the better positioned countries in South America to survive a peak oil crisis. It has huge hydroelectric potential - albeit on the Amazon side of the Andes - and substantial natural gas potential to carry people over after the oil runs out. At least they are not burning oil for heat and power. Its mineral resources are going to be in ever greater demand as China and India industrialize.

It does need a lot of restructuring though. The population is too high, although at least the birth rate is coming down. The capital city of Lima is too big and too important as the center of government, and is in a poor place to put a city, in a desert with only one meager river flowing into it it (shades of Los Angeles). The idea of flowing gas from the Cuzco region to Lima and then back to Cuzco is just bizarre and indicative of government over-centralization. The transportation system needs to be rationalized, with more emphasis on electric rail and less on roads - but that's pretty expensive for a developing country, although it seems to be working for China.

All in all, it's probably more survivable than most countries in South and Central America, and just about every country in Africa. Egypt, Peru... I would pick Peru to survive.

Egypt have more crazy people (my arab girl friend would use less polite words) than Peru, and are more over populated. But they have the Nile. I'm not gonna pick a winner here (future history will for us) but a reliable water supply is an asset hard to beat.

And don't forget Solar. Those mining companies have plans for gigawatts. High altitude desert has the most solar potential on the planet.

The biggest problem is that people are still buying in to the dream (I try and explain why that's not such a good idea but as I've found with many South American's, they believe it is their right to have it all - an idea I'm sure has propagated from the U.S)

I couldn't agree more! I'm currently in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a completely unsustainable city of a little over 20 million inhabitants. It has one the worst automobile traffic conditions on the planet, yet everyone here is still hell bent on owning a car and having all the gizmo's and gadgets that they have been led to believe is supposedly the path to fulfillment and happiness...

BTW, I beg to disagree that this dream meme has been propagated from The US per se. In my opinion the US public is at least as much a victim as the South Americans. This is the consequence of globalized corporate sponsored consumerism.

True may of those corporations were founded in the US but I think the genie escaped the US bottle a long long time ago! Not to mention, that all the corporations of Japanese, European, Chinese and other origins are all here doing the same damage as the US ones... Just my two cents.



"..globalized corporate sponsored consumerism."

Using a phrase I somehow neglected to add to the comments to Ron elsewhere, it's been my view recently that the Capitalist Market models that are the most celebrated are so because they are simply Addicted to Addiction. They survive (and would claim to thrive), by getting various customers hooked on things they really don't need, or at least don't need to spend nearly as much on to satisfy the REAL need within them.

They survive (and would claim to thrive), by getting various customers hooked on things they really don't need, or at least don't need to spend nearly as much on to satisfy the REAL need within them.

Case in point, Coca Cola's Brazilian advertising campaign for the World Cup to be held in Brazil in 2014...


Tap water would do a better job of quenching thirst and it wouldn't rot their teeth or contribute to nutritional problems and diabetes or expose people to the affects of artificial sweeteners.

Yet what could be more innocent than suggesting someone have a Coke? Who could possibly object to such a patriotic Brazilian theme?

Happy Earth Day, Bob!

Lima has a population of something like 9 million people, it's in the middle of the desert and depends entirely on water being pumped from the Amazon basin over the Andes.

Inglorious, I am in agreement with you. I know the water situation in Peru, and especially in Lima, is dire. But I cannot believe they pump water over the Andes. That would be a near impossible task.

From: Lima’s water supply to decrease by 25 percent over next 10 years

But water supplies along Peru’s coast, where the majority of the nation’s population is located, are scarce and fragile. Andean glaciers are in a state of accelerated melt due to global climate change and Lima’s growing populations is making increasing demands on its aquifer and runoff from rivers, which are highly contaminated with metals from mines in the highlands...

“We are currently using 100 percent of water from the Rímac River,” Lima’s main water source, Kuroiwa said...

The country’s glaciers, which feed hydroelectric plants and provide drinking water to Lima, the world’s second largest desert city after Cairo, Egypt, are in the process of accelerated meltdown due to global warming.

The water situation in Peru is indeed very dire, but one does not need to resort to wild exaggerations in order to make that point.

Ron P.

Did a quick check on this... perhaps the better description of source is

Most of Lima's water supply comes from the Rimac River, which has its source high in the Peruvian Andes.

Environmentalists say the river is all but dead due to contamination from farming and informal mining activities upstream and pollution from industry and residents in Lima. ...

Even while treated for consumption in Lima, the river's water still isn't sufficient to meet demand.

... the government is working to prevent future water constraints. It plans to award a contract in the next two years to build a tunnel to channel water from the Chillon River, located north of Lima, to the Peruvian capital,...

In the next three years, the government also hopes to have a desalinization plant built in southern Lima, which would pump in seawater from the Pacific Ocean in case of an emergency with the regular water supply.

So, it is not like they are tapping the Amazon River to supply Lima, Peru. Though reality is not much better.

Even more disheartening is this:

Water waste is rife in the Peruvian capital. Observers estimate that 30% to 40% of water is lost in the system through leaks and theft. Despite being in a desert, the per capita use of water in Lima is double that of some European capitals and 50% higher than in the Colombian capital of Bogota, according to The Nature Conservancy.

Both from: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tight-water-supply-seen-threatening-lim...

I would say that nature is apt to deliver its painful rebuke for such conduct.


Sorry - I'll withdraw that statement as there seems little fact to back that up. I'm going on local propaganda which is never a good idea.

Peru's situation goes well beyond just water. As mentioned by a few other posters, the centralisation of their society around the coastal regions is creating strong imbalances. I found a stat here (http://www.ianas.org/water/book/peru.pdf) when trying to find evidence to back up my claim stating that Peru only produces 18% of it's food in the Andes and 5% in the jungle which means that 77% is being produced on the coast which only has 1.8% of the countries water supplies.

Peru will certainly fair better than many other countries - my main concern is the effect on the society when Lima and the other coastal cities does become unfeasible. Cities in the Andes are already overpopulated in my opinion and will probably suffer in their own right as the years progress - as the people who migrated to the coast start to return they will literally be swamped due to the large increase in population that has happened over the past 2-3 decades.

Peru's energy situation isn't as rosy as it might be. The Camisea gas field which is one of the major reserves is very close to territory controlled by the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso. Just last year they kidnapped 40 workers from the field, despite government efforts the Senderos are still firmly in control of crucial areas. It's Hydro potential will be tested by the threat to the glaciers and local resistance. Projects tend to get bulldozed through but local sentiment where the majority of projects are planned runs contrary to the desires of central government.

Peru's mineral resources are a double-edged sword. They will be a huge boon to the country as a whole as they will be able to produce well in to the period of decline. The problem is that Peru as a whole doesn't benefit because of the nature of the country. The profits get filtered straight to the capital, local workers are employed but in unskilled jobs with foreign contractors and staff from Lima filling the crucial roles so wages are low. The mines also create a bubble in the economy; land is purchased at greater value than it was previously worth and this drives up prices in not just the areas where the mines are but also in the rest of the country as that new wealth then flows to the cities. My neighbour just recently sold a house worth $10-15k for $70k to someone who had sold his land to the mining companies. It's not a huge bubble yet but give it time.

Peru is already being pressured from several angles and as I mentioned, it's society is not strong enough to withstand much pressure. I am expecting to see several violent protests this year - none yet but we've still got a way to go yet.

But I cannot believe they pump water over the Andes. That would be a near impossible task.

They are actually boring tunnels through the Andes to supply the coastal deserts with water.

But, as far as Lima is concerned, it would be cheaper to rely on desalination to provide drinking water. An even better solution would be to restrict the size of the city.

They are actually boring tunnels through the Andes to supply the coastal deserts with water.

Well I suppose it could be done. The longest tunnel in the world is Thirlmere Aqueduct in England which is 154,000 meters or 95.7 miles long, or according to WIKI anyway. But a tunnel under the Andes would top that by a considerable distance. But tunneling under the Andes would present considerable problems like the pressure of the mountains pressing down on the tunneling equipment. Are you sure this tunnel is to be under the Andes. Perhaps you are talking about the tunnel Craig mentioned a couple of posts up:

... the government is working to prevent future water constraints. It plans to award a contract in the next two years to build a tunnel to channel water from the Chillon River, located north of Lima, to the Peruvian capital,..

Ron P.

No, the tunnels would not be that long. The latest one is to supply irrigation water to Northern Peru.

The Limón Dam, part of the Olmos Transandino Project, is an under construction multi-purpose concrete-face rock-fill embankment dam on the Huancabamba River in northwestern Peru, located to the south of Guabal. When completed, the project will help produce 4,000 GWh of electricity per year and transfer water from the Cajamarca region west to Lambayeque, near Olmos for the reclamation and irrigation of 43,500 hectares of farmland.

The greatest feature and engineering challenge of the project was digging the 20 kilometres (12 mi) trans-Andean tunnel as it connects the Atlantic side of the Andes (Amazon Basin) with the Pacific side

This nothing compared to water tunnels in developed countries:

The Delaware Aqueduct is the newest of the New York City aqueducts. It takes water from the Rondout Reservoir through the Chelsea Pump Station, the West Branch Reservoir, and the Kensico Reservoir, ending at the Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers, New York.

The aqueduct was constructed between 1939 and 1945, and carries approximately half of the New York City water supply of 1.3 billion US gallons (4,900,000 m3) per day. The Delaware Aqueduct leaks up to 36 million US gallons (140,000 m3) per day.[1] A $1 billion project to repair the leaking is scheduled to begin in January 2013. [2]

At 85 miles (137 km) long and 13.5 feet (4.1 m) wide, the Delaware Aqueduct is the world's second longest continuous underground tunnel after the Thirlmere Aqueduct in North West England.[3]

New York City Water Tunnel No. 3 is the largest construction project in New York history. It is being built by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to provide New York City with a third connection to the Upstate New York water supply. The tunnel will be more than 60 miles (97 km) long and will cost over $6 billion. Construction began in 1970 and will not be completed until 2020.

The Päijänne Water Tunnel (Finnish: Päijännetunneli, Swedish: Päijännetunneln), located in Southern Finland, is the world's second longest continuous rock tunnel (after the Delaware Aqueduct in the USA). It is 120 kilometers (75 mi) long and runs 30–100 meters under the surface in bedrock. The purpose of the tunnel is to provide fresh water for the million plus people in Southern Finland

It's just engineering. Cities in developed countries do it all the time, and there's no law against developing countries doing it. For that matter the ancient Inca were very good at engineering water systems, as I noticed in my travels through the country.

Thanks for finding that out.

I'm sure the people of Cajamarca are pleased about the water being transferred. That's the same region where a mining project is planned to infill a lake which will deprive several communities of their fresh water. That's been causing quite a stir here in Peru for the last year - Peru anti-mining protests escalate during state of emergency.

I find the idea of irrigating the deserts completely insane. Peru is a waterstressed country already and to use it's water reserves in that way seems irresponsible. The Andes are quite literally littered with terraces left over by the Incas, practically all of which are disused. If the people were educated to the types of crops they could grow and the proper maintenance and care needed then the Sierra of Peru could easily become food independent. Unfortunately the terraces are not economically viable and so they go unproductive and the population moves to the coast or cities in the Andes. I'm sure there will come a day when the terraces are put back to use, however proper investment and education now would make a huge difference to the efforts required in the future to do so.

Found it. It is not under the base of the Andes, only under a peak at the top of the Andes.

Peru's Project Olmos

Ron P.

Peru's many perennial coastal rivers (52 - easy number to remember) have provided the lifeblood of water to coastal populations for millenia. While some rivers have higher flow than others, reliance by desert coastal populations on high Andean water, rainfall and glacial melt, is a very long tradition. So though Lima is stressing every conceivable support system, political economic centralization continues.

There is also a long history of attempts to divert water westward from east of the continental divide. This has long been a dream in the even drier far south of Arequipa. The Majes-Siguas Project finally came to fruition in the late 1970s, during the Velasco military regime. It has been very expensive but well over 15,000 new hectares of irrigated agriculture now exist. The project is entering its second phase, with further irrigation of agricultural plains and the building of hydroelectric stations, but is dogged by ongoing inter-regional disputes over water between Arequipa and Cuzco.

I am working up an article on the current state of energy resources and energo-politics in Peru, and would enjoy hearing from anyone with information or perspective. (Click on my name to get my email information.) Thanks in advance.

I saw a recent article, maybe on the BBC or Guardian, that showed an advertising sign that extracted water from the air and ISTR it was in Peru. not a huge amount of water but it was more of a demonstrator.


Peru is completely dependent on it's energy reserves.

"if it is not grown it's mined"

Peru has a fine business

The 'means of production' is at less then 3 volts. Between electrowinning and using elecrorefinging the output is at 99.99 fine output for Copper.


Again, there is this puzzling assumption that oil can't be replaced, that it is somehow magically necessary for industrial/modern civilization. Oil has been cheap and convenient for the last 100 years, but the industrial revolution started without it, and modern civilization certainly will continue without it.

• 130 years ago, kerosene was needed for illumination, and then electric lighting made it obsolete. The whole oil industry was in trouble for a little while, until someone (Benz) came up the infernal combustion engine-powered horseless carriage. EVs were still better than these noisy, dirty contraptions, which were difficult and dangerous to start. Sadly, someone came up with the first step towards electrifying the ICE vehicle, the electric starter, and that managed to temporarily kill the EV.

Now, of course, oil has become more expensive than it's worth, what with it's various kinds of pollution, and it's enormous security and supply problems.

• 40 years ago oil was 20% of US electrical generation, and now it's less than .8%.

• 40 years ago many homes in the US were heated with heating oil - the number has fallen by 75% since then.

• US cars increased their MPG  by 60% from about 1976 to about 1991.

• 50% of oil consumption is for personal transportation - this could be reduced by 60% by moving from the average US vehicle to something Prius-like. It could be reduced by 90% by going to something Volt-like. It could be reduced 100% by going to something Leaf-like. These are all cost effective, scalable, and here right now.

I personally prefer bikes and electric trains. But, hybrids, EREVs and EVs are cost effective, quickly scalable, and usable by almost everyone.

Sensible people won't move to a new home to reduce commuting fuel consumption. That would be far, far more expensive than replacing the car. It makes far more sense to buy an EV and amortize the premium over 10 years at a cost of about $1,000 per year (much less than their fuel savings), versus moving to a much higher cost environment (either higher rent or higher mortgage).

• As Alan Drake has shown, freight transportation can kick the oil-addiction habit relatively easily.

We don't need oil (or FF), and we should kick our addiction to it ASAP.

The only reason we haven't yet is the desperate resistance from the minority of workers and investors who would lose careers and investments if we made oil and other FFs obsolete.

Some might ask, what about our current debt problems?

Debt is a symbol, a marker - what matters is the underlying productive capability of our economy, which will be just fine. Could we screw up the management of our economy, and go into a depression? Sure. But it's not likely.

Don't these transitions take 50 years?

The transition from kerosene to electricity for illumination took roughly 30 years. The US transition away from oil-fired generation took very roughly 20 years. The transition away from home-heating oil was also faster than 50 years (though uneven).

The fast transition from steam to diesel locomotive engines is illustrative. There were a few diesel locomotives in use in the U.S. during World War II but steam dominated in 1945. However, the steam locomotives had been very heavily used during World War II, and they all wore out at approximately the same time the first few years after 1945. When steam locomotives wore out, they were invariably replaced by diesel in the mid 1940s. By 1949, almost all steam locomotives were gone. There were still some steam locos made in the late 40's, and they were still in service in the 50's but dwindling. The RR's also relegated the steamers to branch line and switcher use - replacing the most used lines with diesel first as you would expect. Cn rail retired its last steam engine in 1959.

Other, very slow transitions are not a good guide to the future. For instance, the transition from coal to oil could be very slow, because there was no pressure - it was a trade up, not a replacement of a scarce resource. Many transitions occurred because something new & better came along - but the older system was still available and worked just fine. Oil may become very expensive very fast and that would provide us an incentive to switch over much more quickly.

On the other hand, we can point to many energy transitions that were sideways or down. The early transition from wood to coal in the UK was a big step down: harder to find and transport, dirtier - a pain in every way. Coal's only virtue was it's abundance. The transition from EVs to ICEs took a while - only when ICEs started to electrify did they become competitive. And, of course, we hid the external costs of oil from consumers: freeways (built by "engine" Charley Wilson after he went from President of GM to Secretary of Defense), pollution, overseas wars, etc. I'd argue that ICEs were never better than EVs - they just appeared that way.

On the other hand, EVs are better right now. They have better driving performance (better acceleration, better handling), and lower total lifecycle costs.

Unfortunately, we have more than 50 years worth of things we can burn for electricity. Fortunately, it doesn't look like we will. For instance, coal consumption in the US dropped 9% last year, about half of that due to loss of market share.

The transition from heating with wood to heating with coal took a lot more than fifty years. Electrification of the U.S. from small beginnings in the late nineteenth century to finishing rural electrification during the Great Depression took at least forty years.

Sure. These involved an enormous amount of infrastructure. On the other hand, EV/EREV/HEVs are manufactured on the same assembly lines as ICE vehicles, and roughly 75% drivers in the US have access to an electrical plug where they park.

Alan Drake would tell you: We transformed transportation before, in just twenty years. From 1897 to 1916, over 500 cities, towns and villages built streetcar lines. In several richer rural areas, vast networks of interurban rail lines were built. This was a nation with very limited "advanced technology", a half rural, half urban population and 3% to 4% of the real GDP of today.


The only reason we haven't yet is the desperate resistance from the minority of workers and investors who would lose careers and investments if we made oil and other FFs obsolete.

I agree with much of what you say but I don't think this is quite accurate. If the alternatives were far better, people would drop oil like a stone and move on. The alternatives have their own problems. With electric vehicles, they are more expensive up-front, have shorter range, and refuel slowly. Granted, all of those problems can be overcome and are not as big of a deal as most people seem to think.

Even when you can show people that they'll save a lot of money by dropping their gas guzzler and getting an EV, they'll say "But what about when I need to drive to grandma's house 300 miles away?" It takes time & education to change people's views. So I think it is going to take time & higher gas prices to keep people moving over.

But I don't doubt it is happening. I read other boards that deal with hobbies that younger people do. And when EVs are discussed, there are a few gas die-hards. But most people are quite pragmatically accepting of EVs and look forward to being able to drive an EV. The big problems for them tend to be the high up-front cost and the lack of chargers if they live in apartments. But once EVs start to hit the used market, that will help.

Chargers at employers can be a big draw. Someone that worked at a place that provided a number of free chargers figured out that he could effectively get a new EV for no extra cost since he was paying $200/month in gasoline for his clunky old gas guzzler. $200/month would cover the lease for an EV and he could charge for free.

"But once EVs start to hit the used market, that will help."

That's one of the major reasons the Leaf/iMiev irk me so badly...it's a snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory. Everything coming down the pipeline for the used market is essentially worthless to me. Because of the range it's maybe a 90% solution and that just isn't enough to win me over - I'm not going to keep two pokey vehicles licensed and insured. If the range reaches a level where I only have to borrow a gasser once or twice a year then I'm game. An (affordable) electric sports car could fill a niche as a perfect second car - no need for excessive space in a commuter, and would compliment a large family vehicle like a Prius that could be used for longer trips. Would give dudes an opportunity to use the phrase "Honey...we should get this sports car to go green. And think of the money we'll save in gas!"

I already have a 1/4 step solution (Prius) and don't want to move 1/4 more from that to a 1/2 step solution (Volt/PIP) but the full-step solution EVs don't exist so I'm pretty stuck at this point and that frustrates me greatly.

Someone that worked at a place that provided a number of free chargers figured out that he could effectively get a new EV for no extra cost since he was paying $200/month in gasoline for his clunky old gas guzzler. $200/month would cover the lease for an EV and he could charge for free.

So what happens when this guy loses his job and has to take one further away that doesn't have an outlet available and is out of the round-trip range of car? Is he going to add 2 hours to his commute every day when he finds someplace he can L1 charge? Having infrastructure and plenty of L2s around might lessen this possible SOL/fubar, but if someone's decided to get rid of their gasser and this happens to them...mrph. The range, particularly the winter range is so low and toss in some range loss on top of that...and it's a real possibility.

I already have a 1/4 step solution (Prius) and don't want to move 1/4 more from that to a 1/2 step solution (Volt/PIP) but the full-step solution EVs don't exist so I'm pretty stuck at this point and that frustrates me greatly.

Don't view the Volt as a "1/2 solution" . . . it is more of an 85% solution. People really do the majority of their Volt driving on electricity. With the first 38 miles electric every day, that will cover most everyday driving on electricity alone. I know there are EV purest out there but I think that is silly. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the great.

So what happens when this guy loses his job and has to take one further away that doesn't have an outlet available and is out of the round-trip range of car? Is he going to add 2 hours to his commute every day when he finds someplace he can L1 charge?

He has an outlet available at home but his point was that he could prioritize charging at work that he'd get 'free' (I know TNSTAAFL) electricity at work. Yeah, I would not recommend pure EV to anyone unless they have a place to charge up at night every night. Public chargers are not going to deal with that.

Truthiness. It's just that in the back of my head I take the date, 2013, and tack on 20 years - 2033...I expect that car to run for 20 years and that puts it at 2033 and it'll still be using FFs. Maybe they'll just get passed down to people with short commutes in later years.

Well, if you drive carefully you can get more than 50 miles from a new Volt. After 20 years you'll still get 20 miles, and most commutes are less than 20 miles each way.

The average miles per day per car is about 30, and that's in multiple trips, so the Volt's EV range can cover almost all driving for a very long time.

I think we see this pretty much the same way.

A couple of thoughts:

All of the various kinds of EVs (hybrids, PHEVs and pure EVS) would be much farther advanced if it weren't for resistance from the automotive and oil industries. The first PHEV was demonstrated more than 100 years ago. Very large and reliable EREVs were developed 100 years ago in the form of diesel submarines. This isn't new stuff, and it would be far more useful and cheaper if we had started to really push them 40 years ago, when US oil fields clearly showed their limits.

Gas should be priced at European levels (say, around $7 per gallon), to reflect it's real costs. If it were, EVs in their various incarnations would be obviously cost effective, and consumers would have demanded them long ago.


As per usual your cornucopian posts highlight to me exactly why we will collapse. I find them rather depressing as they show exactly the weaknesses in those analogies. I must admit you do portray the cornucopian argument more concisely than most.

All the transitions you talk about occurred in times of great growth and increases in resource use. They also mostly happened during times where the influence of change occurred to millions of people, not billions. Another aspect is that you seem to morph from transitions of stationary use to transport as if it were seemless, which it clearly is not.

Today the ores we mine are of declining quality, energy used in energy production is growing, and the scale of any transition massive compared to the past. The alternatives wind and solar, are having reductions in growth rates, in my opinion because of the high cost of energy which has led to the reduction of subsidies in a circuitous manner.

The transitions you talk of are all about increased efficiency in time and effort for the user and at the time often cost as well, in other words a trade up. A transition from ICE to electrics is seen as more expensive, and is less convenient for the user. People who have a perceived need to drive distances greater than the range of an EV will choose an ICE even when it is more expensive. It is a trade down, not up. You cannot just decide to fill up the car with fuel and take off to the next state to visit the injured relative at a moments notice.

A change to hybrids as you mention is just a waste of resources. All hybrids do is buy time until production of oil has declined by the rate equal to the saved use of hybrids. Since the collective "we" have known about limits to growth for 40 years and done nothing but accelerate the use of these resources, buying a bit of time by wasting more resources on hybrids seems senseless.

I state Trucks and tractors for a reason, because that is how food gets to the cities of the modern world. Countries that get cut out of the diminishing oil supply available, ie Net Export reductions, there is no ready answer and too few years for there to possibly be one.
A fact that only those who are farmers seem to understand, is that lack of available fuels (by high price or rationing) will mean less food for cities. Trains just are too far from many farms for trucks to not be needed. If there is not the fuel for tractors then work on the farm will be limited. Guess who is going to use the food produced first?
Nearly everyone in cities who thinks that life will go on normally when oil becomes scarce has no idea about what will hit them. The talk of commuters going to electric or hybrid really is a joke, as there probably wont be the jobs to go to.

But he never said it would be all wine & roses . . . you are reading cornucopian views into what he writes.

Your complaint of EVs boiled down to:

You cannot just decide to fill up the car with fuel and take off to the next state to visit the injured relative at a moments notice.

Now that is not true for PHEVs. But let us assume that everyone does switch to pure EVs. OK . . . you can't take off to the next state to visit the injured relative at a moments notice . . . so what? If that is the great collapse then I don't think people are gonna be too worried. Go rent a gas car or take a train. Plenty of people don't own cars as is and yet are somehow able to handle such situations without collapsing into the stone age.

A fact that only those who are farmers seem to understand, is that lack of available fuels (by high price or rationing) will mean less food for cities.

Now maybe I'm crazy but I suspect humans will readily allocate more of their income to food and less to movies, cigarrettes, vacations, videogames, whatever-your-vice-is, etc. in order to continue eating. Thus, the farmers will continue to get the oil they need to keep making food. I don't think people are going to forego food in order to buy a Jet ski or an SUV. I really don't think we are going find people starving in their homes and getting a big 70" 3D HDTV delivered. I don't have a lot of faith in humans but I do think they can figure that one out.

The talk of commuters going to electric or hybrid really is a joke, as there probably wont be the jobs to go to.

I think there will be economic difficulty . . . of course that has happen in the past and is happening right now. But life will go on. I know we laugh at the obese lazy American consumer. But when things get tough, they'll adapt. Look what people did during the war years. Heck, look at the VMT numbers in the past few years. Things can adjust without wholesale collapse.

I just want to add that I really don't buy the 'whole global collapse' scenarios banded about. I suspect the world will simply be divided into roughly 3 camps between the ones who don't make it, the ones who float along on life support (Japan as an example) and those whom would do relatively well. There are quite a few counties sitting on the proverbial black hole so to speak with regards to major questions of survival for their people whilst on the other extreme there are countries sitting on quite a lot of natural resources which can do relatively well.

The world is too heavy on people and too short of resources. Being heavy on one and short on the other doesn't mean that the bad situation is distributed evenly around the world. In an ideal situation the countries with an excess would share their resources to those who have a shortfall however had we had that sane inclination we would not be in this situation in the first place so I wouldn't count on it.

The current financial crisis we're in really just represents a resource shortfall. The problem isn't so much that we have so few resources that we cannot do anything. The problem can better be defined that we have fewer resources than we thought we would have and in monetary terms a lot of people have less real money than they are promised. The financial bubbles, housing bubbles, stock market bubbles are there to soak up a lot of excess money and essentially disappear it and thus the crisis will continue until reality and fiction make a painful meeting. After hearing the words 'financial crisis' long enough people will likely grudgingly accept the painful truth about the fate of their 'retirement savings'.

A lot of people like to point towards the 'collapse' of the U.S. as an entity. I think it is really misdirected because the U.S is still sitting on a huge quantity of natural resources and sitting next to a neighbour which is likewise on an even greater stockpile of them. The places we really need to look at are the Egypts, Saudi Arabias and Syrias of the world. These countries have a twin problem of a dwindling ability to pay for essentials whilst at the same time having a large population who will not 'go quietly into the night'. The collapse of some countries will free up the necessary resources for others to prosper a little longer. If we throw some to the wolves then the others might live long enough to get rid of the wolf pack for good, I guess.

The only way to transition from the precarious state we're in is to have more time than what we have at present. It'll be a radical shift and I believe that it won't be the lefties or intellectuals who will be calling the shots. We'll have a few new Winston Churchills for the modern era to fix the problems that people like them caused and if they succeed they will be heroes. I guess when a few of the resource rich states fall into chaos the people won't mind if we 'rescue' them from the 'terrorists' in exchange for their natural resources. Hungry people don't ask too many questions about the going exchange rate of say food for whatever resources they have.

I suspect the world will simply be divided into roughly 3 camps between the ones who don't make it, the ones who float along on life support (Japan as an example) and those whom would do relatively well

Two world wars show that if a country feels it lacks resources a neighbor has, it is more than willing to get those resources by force. The entire rivalry between Germany and Brittain before WWI was about the fact that Britain had many resource-producing colonies and Germany, being late to the party, had virtually none. WWII had lebensraum and the oil fields of Baku were an important target.

I think it is a distinct probability that the ones who don't make it will invade those who do relatively well. Which may leed to global collapse.

I think that mankind has matured a bit since then. Learning from history and ubiquitous global communication has made it much harder to demonize a foreign people and invade them. It does still happen but less & less. And the Germans themselves are the example we should follow. Instead of even thinking about invading other countries, they buy resources then need through trade and/or locally create the resources they need with innovation (reducing dependence on others by developing solar & wind).

Sadly, it is the USA that I most worry about invading another country due to resources. I don't think anyone can say with a straight face that the Iraq war had nothing to do with oil. Alan Greenspan publicly admitted it.

I suspect the issue will be with people trying to emigrate from largely Muslim countries to Christian countries. There will be no massive numbers of climate refugees and I believe that countries won't be so nice about it either. Muslims have already been branded as terrorists for the most part so I can anticipate violence perpetuated on people trying to flee from bad situations.

I would say that Africa's resources could be taken by force but I don't believe that we'll see a major conflict between two major powers unless it happens on foreign soil to 'liberate' a country. The major military powers don't really have particularly good targets for invasion outside of Africa and that would be a significant undertaking.

I really don't think we are going find people starving in their homes and getting a big 70" 3D HDTV delivered.

I agree, Spec. People will exercise triage in their spending, and gradually eliminate wasteful, useless things.

One problem that will then present, IMO, is that today certain of our 'hard' purchases of, say, furniture, appliances and the like, are being filled with cheap, junk. IKEA furniture may look okay. It will not last, though. It is part of today's throw away paradigm where we replace everything every 5 years. Flooring, for God's sake, has a 5 to 10 year warranty!

To say nothing of housing. Too late, already said it. Houses, that once were expected to be a lasting investment in living space, have become commodities like the furniture in them; few have any chance of lasting more than 30 years without huge investment in upgrades.

Of course, as we stop wasting money, we will see jobs become more scarce, wages lower, and we will find ourselves on a race to the bottom. The less we are able to buy, the fewer jobs will remain and the lower the wages until we find ourselves no longer able to afford automobiles, or to pay taxes to provide public transit. They will then no longer be able to purchase both food and transportation to work...

Ko-Dan second in command: "What happens now?"
Ko-Dan commander: "We die."

The Last Starfighter.



But let us assume that everyone does switch to pure EVs.

That simply will not happen in the real world. Before we can get anywhere near that point people will, in fact they are right now, keeping and buying new ICEs because of convenience, even if it is costing more per km.

but I suspect humans will readily allocate more of their income to food and less to movies, cigarrettes, vacations, videogames, whatever-your-vice-is, etc. in order to continue eating.

Exactly!! Think of all the people who lose jobs in all those discretionary areas, how are they going to pay for food? What happens to government revenues and the general economy when there is a huge cut in discretionary spending?

the farmers will continue to get the oil they need to keep making food

How does this work in a country that might import nearly all their oil, when there are no imports available? What mechanism would you use to guarantee a farmer gets all the fuel needed, when the rest of society has to go without in countries that produce a reasonable percentage of their own oil now? Some type of rationing?

I think there will be economic difficulty

I agree, I just think it will be a lot worse than most imagine possible, I mean there is only 7 billion of us now, many living in megacities that didn't exist 60 years ago. Cities existed, not the gargantuan metropolitan sprawls we have throughout the world today. The resources necessary for 'adaption' are just not available in a world of collapsing oil production. This is a point that most who hark back to a previous 'adaptation' or 'transition' or whatever you call it, just fail to understand.

But when things get tough, they'll adapt

Exactly how do people without a job to pay for descreasing supplies of food, no knowledge, land or physical ability to grow it, adapt?

Here are some more thoughts that might help you:

If we mobilized all our resources as we did in World War II with the single objective of getting off fossil fuels as fast as possible, wouldn't the transition still take at least twenty years, and probably longer than that?

Some things much easier than that. A transition to EVs requires only a change within the automotive industry (for most drivers).  Slashing coal consumption involves pretty straightforward ramping up of wind energy.  75% reductions in fuel consumption by road transportation and coal consumption for electrical generation would be ambitious, but doable.

But are we actually seeing any replacements of oil?

Consumption in the US has fallen by more than 15% since it's recent peak in 2007 (while GDP has risen by 3%), and it continues to fall. Production has risen (both C&C and all liquids), and net imports have fallen by 38% since their peak in 2005.

Didn't past transitions occur in a environment of growth, when making new investments was a good idea, and banks would lend?

The transition from horses to rail occurred mostly during the Long Depression from 1873-1890. The move from horses to tractors and automobiles continued at a very good speed during the depression, as did general electrification and business investment. The transition away from oil for electrical generation accelerated during the 1979-1981 recession(s), and CAFE standards rose.

Even at the depth of the Great Recession car sales were at least 60% of normal. Even with currently high oil prices car sales have recovered to about 14M per year, which is pretty strong. And finally, used cars were and are still turning over very 3 years, giving high-mileage/low income drivers an opportunity to switch to a more efficient vehicle.

Isn't this expensive?

EVs and their cousins (hybrids, plug-ins, EREVs, etc) already have overall Total Cost of Ownership equal to or lower than ICE vehicles. Making long-haul trucks and coal plants prematurely obsolete is, of course, somewhat expensive, but the US has a big output gap (IOW, we have a lot of people and resources hanging around waiting for something to do), and really, it would cost a lot less than another oil war.

Isn't "wasted" use of fuel is someones job providing a good or service? won't reducing fuel consumption cost jobs?

I'm thinking of the 50% of overall liquid fuel consumption that goes to personal transportation.  That could be reduced easily without anyone losing their job.

Chevy Volts take as much labor to manufacture as vehicles that use 10x as much fuel. No problem there.

The average vehicle gets resold every 3 years: there's plenty of opportunity for higher mileage drivers to move to high MPG vehicles, even if they drive used.

Doesn't expanded rail mean wasteful & expensive extra handling?

Inter-modal container handling is well tested and is pretty efficient. More importantly, current distribution patterns were shaped under cheap oil. With higher oil prices the optimal mix of rail & truck has shifted sharply towards rail.

Alan Drake indicates that the clearest indicator of this is that Class I RRs are investing 18% of their GROSS revenues into capital projects. This is far higher than any other industry. The number of multi-modal transfer projects are exploding. Just 7 years ago, no Walmart distribution center was served by rail. Several new ones are. The number of factories and warehouses served by rail are expanding.

What about an emergency loss of oil supplies?

Carpooling works nicely: about 10% of all commuting is done via carpooling, more than mass transit and 3x as much as is done via commuter rail. Commuting is free, fast, and highly scalable, given that the average car only has about 1.15 passengers. Double that, and reduce overall fuel consumption by 25%. It could be done in weeks or months.

Isn't carpooling inconvenient and slow?

Yes, it's not an ideal long-term strategy. OTOH, it would work; it's bigger than bus & rail already; it's really cheap; it would eliminate congestion, which is why there are HOV lanes; and smart phones and modern telecom are making carpooling much easier. 

The point is that we could reduce oil consumption very quickly, if we wanted to. If the alternative were really economic doom, carpooling wouldn't seem so bad, would it?


What is this, a cut and paste to your own dorothy dixers?

You continue to fail to understand the magnitude of the problem with responses of past transitions that happened in times of lower populations in an age of growth with increasing resource use.

What we have is a much larger problem involving 7 billion, in a globalized world, that is mining decreasing quality ores, and reaching energy/pollution constraints. A transition in this type of environment is entirely different to those of the past.

a cut and paste to your own dorothy dixers?

Hey, an Australian reference (that I had to google to figure out)! No, this is just a kind of FAQ - "Frequently Asked Questions". Or, you can think of it as a Socratic dialogue, if you like.

fail to understand the magnitude of the problem

Yeah, no. Please, re-read the arguments above. They deal in a number of ways with the idea that this problem is too big to solve. Really, it's not that hard - we just have to get past the resistance of the minority with something to lose.

For instance, there's plenty of steel and lithium to make EVs - heck, we're making ICE's without a problem, and EVs aren't any harder. Wind turbines and solar panels really don't consume that much in the way of resources. There's plenty of idle manufacturing resources (empty plants and unemployed workers) waiting around for something to do - they can do this.


there's plenty of steel and lithium

There is also plenty of silicon to make glass and aluminium for the PV panels. I was going to add plenty of silver as well, but there isn't plenty of that.

Saying there is plenty of these things totally misses the point. It is like saying there is plenty of oil and counting oil shales while ignoring production.

The problem is the production of what is needed. To build 50 million EVs a year is going to require massive amounts of produced Lithium batteries. There is nothing like the capacity available in the world, it would all have to be built, likewise for glass production for PV on the scale necessary. In other words massive builds of industries, more resources and energy to do it.

If we had the time, say 40 years before problems of resource constraints hit us, then I would agree with you on the possibility of a transition. However we don't have 40 years, nor 20. We have a few years until the combined resource constraints hit us all, led by peak oil and falling Available Net Exports.
To believe we can transition in a few short years, say 10 years, only tells me that you have not done the math. Try working out the glass consumption/annum of a fitout of PV so that solar was 50% of total energy use in 10 years (wind being the other 50%), then compare that number to current flat glass production.
It is very easy to tell from such rough calculations that the required glass production factories wont even be built in the next 10 years to reach the starting point of being able to produce enough PV panels.

Ok, so you're arguing that in order to prevent TEOTWAKI, in 10 years we need to get to a world production level of 50M EVs (roughly 70% of current ICE production), and replace 100% of FF electrical generation with renewables? And that lithium, glass and energy inputs are the primary bottlenecks to these goals?

You're arguing that this necessary to prevent TEOTWAWKI due to direct energy shortages, not as a result of Climate Change, right?

Well, first, I have to ask: how did you decide on those goals?

Why do we need to replace 100% of FF electrical generation with renewables in 10 years? That would be great for dealing with Climate Change, but I haven't seen anyone anywhere suggest that coal, NG, nuclear would face input resource limits in that time. Have you?

I don't think most people are suggesting 50% solar. That would produce a very large daytime production peak, and wind power is likely to be cheaper than solar for quite some time. I'd say most people are thinking of roughly 25% solar.

Even with ELM, I haven't seen anyone suggest that we need to electrify 70% of new personal transportation in just 10 years.


Here's some info on glass:

http://www.photovoltaic-production DOT com/1960/glass-industry-discovers-profitable-growth-market/ says in 2009 (down year due to recession, "90% utilization"), float and rolled glass plants produced 38 million tons of glass.

" The company plans to sell more than 100 000 tons of special glass to the sector annually – enough for some 1,300 megawatts of module output. "

So, 6.5Wp per pound of glass, or 77ktons per GWp.

World electricity is 2TW: 25% of that at 15% capacity factor is 3.3TWp.

That suggests 257Mtons of glass, or current output for 6.8 years, or 34% expansion of the glass industry for production over 20 years.

Lithium is reasonably abundant, and reasonably widely distributed: it's mostly produced now in S. America, but China is expanding production, and there are substantial sources elsewhere. It can be recycled efficiently.

It's rather like uranium: in the short run there could be boom-bust cycles of supply expansion and shortfalls, but in the medium-term there aren't really resource limits.

There was a widely read analysis a couple of years ago that raised questions (The Trouble with Lithium: Implications of Future PHEV Production for Lithium Demand, William Tahil, Research Director, Meridian International Research, January 2007 http://www.meridian-int-res.com/Projects/Lithium_Problem_2.pdf ) but those questions have been answered pretty thoroughly. The amount used by each battery isn't that great: one estimate is that most lithium chemistries require around 3+lb/kWh of lithium carbonate, so for a 16KWH Volt type battery we would need about 50 lbs of lithium carbonate (or about 0.3kg of Lithium metal equivalent per kWh, per Tahil). At that level, there's more than enough lithium (see reference below). In the short term, battery producers are very experienced at this sort of thing - for instance GM is assembling the Chevy Volt battery from cells made by LG Chem, the largest li-ion cell producer in the world - I suspect LG is pretty good at getting long-term contracts for their supplies.

At $2.75/lb, that's only $137.50, or 3.4% of the likely Volt battery cost of $4k (wholesale in 2-4 years). A doubling in the price of lithium would only increase the cost of a $30K vehicle (after $7,500 credit) by $137.50.

Here's another good general discusion. If you want a more detailed discussion look here and here, and for some debate go here. A study by the Dept. of Energy's Argonne Lab here said "Known Lithium reserves could meet world demand to 2050".

What about recycling?

Well, according to this, lithium is so cheap currently that it hardly pays, but in a sign of unusual foresightedness, lithium recycling is being put in place. This site indicates that li-ion battery recycling is widely available.

In times of resource constraints fighting about the resources are quite common.

Hi Nick,

Thanks for your post.

I'd like to respond to only one of your statements, namely..."modern civilization certainly will continue without it."

This is an unsubstantiated assertion.

Well, the bulk of the two large comments above are intended to provide evidence for that assertion, both direct and indirect. If you disagree, than please re-read my arguments and provide the ideas or evidence that would show differently.

Yes, it's a strong statement, and I meant it that way.

I'll grant that we can imagine a counter-argument. It's conceivable that society will self-destruct in some way, perhaps with nuclear war. There's no question that a transition away from FF will put some additional stress on civilization. It's conceivable that the additional increment of stress from the FF transition will be just enough to push things over the edge.

But, a lack of FF will be neither sufficient (or necessary) to cause TEOTWAWKI - very far from it.

I think it's important to show that we don't need oil. The idea that oil is necessary to prevent TEOTWAWKI is an argument against action, it's an argument for denying solutions to Climate Change, and an argument for "drill, baby, drill".

It's also an argument for self-destructive strategies, like subsistence farming*.


*If someone loves subsistence or hobby farming, more power to them, but for most people it's a difficult, dangerous and impoverished life.

Hi Hide_away,

Thanks for your reply.

re: "...then game over."

Yes, this is the trajectory.

My efforts are directed (ultimately) at lessening the human suffering of the continuation of the trajectory and/or modifying the trajectory.

I guess my main question to you is: well, then, if "game over" and no nothing is to be done - on any front - then...? I don't know how to say this without it sounding confrontational (perhaps you can help me) - what's the point of being here on TOD? Besides the ambiance? :) and geniality (of the often-anonymous) posters? :)

Is it your personal decision to "not scare the rabbits"? (Isn't this putting yourself as somewhat - I don't know - separate or superior to the other rabbits? Which you well may be.)

My point is this: If its the case - assuming I'm reading you correctly: you personally believe that there is no point in providing accurate information, such as could be gained from the NAS actually weighing in on "peak" (including policy options) - this eliminates any possibility of policy and/or risk-management options that could be brought forward - do you see what I mean?

I guess another way to ask my question is: Here's how I interpret what you're saying: "don't tell, it will only advance the end-date of the problem" - is this a fair interpretation?

I suppose, backing up a bit in your argument above:

1) "people will start to realise"

2) They will then "panic at the personal level."

My reply: They will become afraid on the personal level if and when their fundamental needs are not met - regardless of whether or not they realize the underlying cause.

My point is that whatever constructive things may be possible in advance of this happening, there is a certain set of them - (perhaps all?) - that may be addressed and put into place at the "greater-than-personal" level, i.e., family, extended family, community, town, State, regional, national and group-affiliation level.

All this discussion is interesting.

The thing that puzzles me greatly is why my asking for help/feedback and people to join in with the NAS direction...goes more or less ignored.

Not so much "Why?" - although why is also important - but what's up w. y'all? What's the problem?

Nothing can be done...so...nothing can be done. Even though I've just offered several arguments as to why it is possible "something" can be done.


you personally believe that there is no point in providing accurate information

On the contrary, I fully believe in providing accurate information. My point was that I understand why we are getting the 'peak oil is dead' stories, not I agree with it. The population should have been told, in fact we were told, and should have been preparing for peak oil for the last 40 years, but the populations of the world did not want to believe.

People voted in democracies for those who offered the option of unlimited growth and resources. We have what we voted for. In the USA Reagan was chosen over Carter, that was the clear message from the voters for what we now have.

In political circles, you only ask the questions you already know the answers to, ie you only form or get a committee or organization to look at something you already know the outcome of, and it is already on your agenda. Your petition, while a noble idea to get the information out there, cannot go anywhere. Those in power already know there is peak oil and problems dead ahead, there are already military reports saying so in the public domain. You can also bet there are higher level reports that have been classified on exactly the same issue.

As a politician, you are not going to scare the population as the opposition will come out with the opposite story and get voted in, because we the people want hope and growth, not decline and hardship. Again look at what happened to Carter when he 'scared the rabbits'.

what's the point of being here on TOD

Good question. At least on TOD you get to read what like minded people have to say and get a better understanding of what/when times will get really hard, a help for any prepping for oneslf and family. Some people will come out the otherside of the bottleneck, hopefully there is enough of the natural world left for them to survive.

Even here on TOD, there are many who believe that the future will be bright and rosy, we will just change over to electric everything, produced by the sun and wind. To believe that you really have to do the numbers on the resources needed, all of them, not just a few bits and pieces. Whenever I do the real numbers on resources needed for 7 billion people for a transition, it clearly indicates not possible. The cornucopians here do not do these real calculations. As we have have so many here that believe the future is OK, what hope of preparing society at large?

Hi again, Hide-away,

Thanks again.

re: "In political circles, you only ask the questions you already know the answers to,"

The National Academy of Sciences is NOT the government. It is directed (most often) by different aspects of government. But the members are research scientists who work for free, as public service, since most are already fully-employed, tenured academics. It's a prestige position. They have safeguards in place precisely to prevent influence by anyone - including and especially government. That's why Alan's equating the EIA and the NAS for this purpose is off-base.

According to public statements by both Robert Hirsch and David Fridley, the current and former US administrations (which I take to mean "POTUS" and advisers) have issued an "edict of silence" on peak and it's impacts (especially those). OK. So, be in the EIA and talk and lose your job.

Be in the NAS and you cannot lose your job. The government cannot touch or shut up the NAS, as a group. The problem is to get the right question before them and not to allow the topic to be sabotaged before they can take it up. Once they take it up - you have the scientific integrity of the members on the line. A really diverse group, who have nothing to gain by lying.

Could you please read up on the NAS? I only say this because most people - (yes, even here, and even me, before I learned better) - don't know what the NAS is.

re: "As we have have so many here that believe the future is OK, what hope of preparing society at large?"

I believe this is called a rhetorical question. I think I understand it, though...we all feel helpless in the face of the overwhelming nature of peak. Denial is normal, natural and human. Still, some people can deal with it, and that's what's important, in the sense of conveying useful information and looking at the main goal (which, as I said, as far as I'm concerned, is to alleviate suffering). (If not prevent it. Whatever the word choice is.)

Also, I've written at length about this elsewhere. One of my arguments is that most people do what's directly in front of them. That's how it got to be the case that most people own cars - they need it (or believe they do or actually really do, given the initial circumstances they find themselves in) - most people do not think about it, nor do they (arguably) have the means to do other than what they do...perhaps. Or, perhaps not.

The point is: if you agree that the information is important and that the truth counts for it's own sake...


To base your actions on what a lot of TOD posters opine...well...there are plenty of people who opine the opposite view.

There is also a huge gap between many who do understand and who nevertheless see no need to do anything, even something so simple as call their Congressperson and say: "Please direct the National Academy of Sciences to investigate global oil supply declines immediately."

I find it inconceivable to do nothing because one believes there is nothing to be done because one believes others cannot understand or don't want to do anything. I understand, Hide-away. (Isn't that enough?) :) just kidding. I mean...

Also, for the degree and scale of suffering that appears to me to be coming to a planet near you/us - and the degree of suffering that already occurs as we speak...the more we do the better, as I see it. Just my opinion.

Not so much "Why?" - although why is also important - but what's up w. y'all? What's the problem?

Hi Aniya, I think you know where I stand on this issue. as I have opined on this matter from as far back as when the petition was first set up IIRC. For the benefit of those who missed it, I have always referred to the mission statement on the web site of the DOE's EIA. It clearly states that the EIA should be doing more or less exactly what you propose the NAS should do.

What is to stop the NAS from coming up with the same rosy outlook that the EIA has? I think the time and energy would be better spent trying to get the EIA to come straight. It's hopeless to try and work on Lynch and his bunch over at CERA but at least if there were significant areas of disagreement, CERA could be "called out" for being the oil industry shills that they are! The problem is that, people see the EIA as an independent, taxpayer funded organisation that should not have any skin in the game, one way or another. In fact the EIA's mission statement clearly implies that they were set up to be a warning agency for things like peak oil so, if they are not issuing warnings, will the NAS do any better?

I guess most of us think not and that's "what's up w." we'all. Of course I could just be speaking for myself and I do admire your persistence!

Alan from the islands

Hi Alan,


re: EIA? do you have any specifics for your idea to get the EIA to come straight (as you say)?

re: NAS. the thing with them is that they have a lot of safeguards in place to be objective and independent on the scientific question in front of them.

The problem - and the politics - comes in with getting the right question in the study.

Their last four-year energy study covered everything (or at least, lots of stuff) - *except* global oil supplies. They specifically avoided that one topic. At the same time, it's not *they* who avoided - it was the way the question was given them. In other words: the study has to be spelled out, funded (which is minimal, relatively speaking, since the academic folks work for free) and directed.

The NAS does not (or rarely does) propose. They are given assignments and carry them out. I have yet to hear anyone say that their work is anything less than top scientific work.

The issue is getting Congress and/or *any* State legislature and/or the President to do direct the question - put it to them.

So, yes - the NAS can and will do better, if allowed to function.

They are specifically free of government influence - it's a whole different body of people. (See their website for how it's set up.)

So, I agree with you that addressing the EIA is a good idea.

The part I differ with as that these two ideas are antagonistic. I also differ that the NAS can't do better.

The petition is not the point - it's not such an effective way to do things; it's amateur hour from a very limited amateur (yrs. truly, not speaking for my esteemed collaborator).

I'd like help w. what would be effective, is what I'm saying. The idea is not mine, it's the idea of a retired professor of public policy, U. of New Hampshire (who at one time long ago was posting here). I thought it was a good idea.

Anyway, Alan thanks again.

Hi Aniya;

Good to see you checking in!

Thanks You, Thank You, Thank You for your persistence on this goal! I'm often not sure whether we can get the National Academies to look at Peak Oil.. but I have to remind myself that this is NO excuse not to ask, petition and insist that they do so. A bit of my own hopelessness was smooshed into the treads of my sneakers and affecting my traction a bit. There's so much despair lying around, it's hard to avoid stepping in it and bringing it into the house.

I'll work on a new 'Peal Oil Update' email to my various contacts who should be part of this conversation, and have some (EDIT; finish that thought!) access to either political channels or science/academic players, and add my bit of intention into the mix once again.

Happy Earth Day! Courage!


Hi Bob,

I'm glad to hear from you, too. It's been a while! And I appreciate your support.

Actually, I think it would be - in theory, anyway - fairly easy to direct the study to be done. There are so many routes to its implementation. For example, *any* State legislature could direct the NAS to do the study. That means...yes...your state.

The Pres. could direct the study. This would require someone to start up one of those petitions on the White House petition site, perhaps?

It could be a rider on a bill. You know...

Just not that difficult (in theory).

There's also a strong case for the idea that the main variable is human behavior. ... to make better choices.

So often behavior change is framed as impotent; people unable to leave the status quo. But are we all here not ourselves starting to change our behavior?

Behavior change won't prevent the radical transition from happening. But, as Richard Heinberg has suggested, doing so may leave things better than they would otherwise be.

"But, as Richard Heinberg has suggested, doing so may leave things better than they would otherwise be."

Yes, that is our hope, isn't it? And, that better is enough for survival (not just, selfishly, for ourselves, but for the rest of the species extant on this planet).


What would happen if people knew and believed in falling supplies over the next 10-15 years, going to zero imports with falling local production. On an individual basis I believe people would cut back spending and look at a more sustainable lifestyle, they would not be buying new cars, nor taking out large loans that required many years to pay back. Basically the economy would crash as spending on discretionary items collapses. People would look for a way out of the rat race immediately for their families. There would be whole sale societal breakdown.

I don't think there would be societal breakdown.

1)Many people would just into denial about it. So that would be a huge chunk that would ignore it.
2) Many people would just believe in alternatives taking over. Natural gas vehicles, electric vehicles, etc.
3) Many people actually would start adopting the alternatives.
4) Many people would reduce/eliminate their usage with hybrids, public transport, walking, biking, etc.

In fact, one could argue that all of these are happening right now. We do have alternative things we can do. They are not perfect substitutes but with a combo of what oil we do have left, alternatives, and reduction of travel; we can make it work.

When Saudi is looking into solar, nuclear and fracking you KNOW there is a problem with their ability to continue supplying oil.


Put it this way: If they said they have no sand supply issues, but are looking for sand replacements anyway, not because they needed to but they wanted to, people would start asking questions.

people would start asking questions.


It is my opinion that the root behavior to look for is not what is said, but what actions are being taken.

Actually, my village in the UK used to sell sand to them. We had just the right grade for water filtration.


This concept is based on a probability theory that is not linked to any scientific facts or physical laws that govern oil production in oil reservoirs.

What? How did this guy get a degree? How is peak oil related to 'probability theory' at all?

The amount of denial is scary. But then again, if your entire country's existence is completely based on oil then I guess you will go into denial over it.

Speculawyer, the author claims to have received his PhD from the University of Texas At Austin.

Primary Depletion Reservoir Simulator for Real and Dry Gas, PhD Dissertation, University of Texas @ Austin, Austin TX, Dec 1994

It's apparently true. His Dissertation does show up in The University of Texas Libraries' online catalog here:

The Hubbert curve is a manifestation of the Central Limit Theorem, from probability.


(have they fixed that dumb spam filter yet?)

"The Hubbert curve is a manifestation of the Central Limit Theorem [CLT], from probability."

That is an assertion without you supplying a proof. That's OK because I can supply an example.

Any curve that conforms to the CLT has to be constructed from other functions, most commonly through a multiple convolution process of random variates.

The Dispersive Discovery formulation generates the Logistic version of the discovery Hubbert curve through a summation of various growth functions at different rates and cumulative values. The Oil Shock model also uses convolution to create a Hubbert-like curve. These both are consist with a CLT approach.

No other formulations that I know of generate a Hubbert-shaped curve through this CLT process. Instead they typically generate a Logistic Hubbert curve by solving a non-linear equation describing a birth-death process. That is definitely wrong, and is not in the spirit of thinking about oil production as a bunch of IID processes aggregated together.

Guesstimating a specific date for peak oil uses probability.

Stating that oil production will one day eventually peak requires no probability, it only requires the fact that oil is finite.

But I wouldn't equate "peak oil theory" (the "theory" moniker is really rather pompous here anyway), with the Hubbert curve, and don't think Hubbert would have either.

For Peak oil "theory" as in : "Oil production rate will(or has already) reach an absolute maximum at some point in time."

You just need the theorem(it doesn't even have a name to my knowledge) stating that : any positive function whose integral is finite from 0 to infinity admits a maximum and tends to zero towards infinity.
(or more precisely, the average value over any non null interval admits a maximum and tends to zero, so as to adress "pathological" functions such as series of higher and thiner triangles)

Then you have the aspect of using the Hubbert curve or the logistic function as a "good fit" for the typical human behaviour in extracting finite resources, which indeed has been shown to provide a good fit in many cases.

YvesT, this is some of the best commentary on PO I have seen yet. TOD continues to grow and get better.

In addition to having a theory, the scientific method allows the theory to be proven or disproven. It is the ability to disprove that makes it science.

When a set of predictions set forth, based on the theory, is confirmed, the probability of the theory is increased. When the predictions do not occur as per theory, then modifications are made. This happens in all theories. An example: global warming - word on the street is that the past 10 years level of increase has been less than predicted. Scientists are looking for reasons (deniers will call it something else, like 'scrambling to explain why they were wrong,' and saying this disproves the entire 'theory.'). Changes in input variables will always drive disparate results, and yet serve to prove the theory (example: theory of evolution, predicitons virutally all establish validity, or new avenues for research, and never 'disproving' the theory).

PO theory has all of those features. It makes predictions; it is amenable to change; it has yet to be disproven, and seems clearly valid as a scientific statement.

Keep up the commentary. I am learning more every day (another nice feature of science).


Thanks for the compliment ;)

Otherwise, maybe a bit picky but for me "proven or disproven" are more terms for maths, in natural science it's more about verified, not verified, or faulted.

And what makes peak oil a bit peculiar, is that the "there has to be a maximum" aspect is more about math than anything else (the type of things you would use in a physics calculation without questioning it at all). And it remains true even if at some point we decide to let a lot of stuff in the ground (doubtfull)

Whereas the "Hubbert curve" aspect, if it had to be classified amongst natural sciences, is more about human behavior, or human species ethology or something, as it basically says : with respect to natural non renewable ressources, when having the possibility to extract them and a use for them, the human species will extract them more or less as fast as possible.

As to "earth climate science" would say it is peculiar in another way, in the sense that there is a single experiment and a single test tube available, even if it is in fact also the synthesis or usage of tons of other more "classical" natural science (like chemistry, bio chemistry, relationship between light at different wavelength and gases, thermodynamics, etc)

speculawyer was asking where the connection was between peak oil and probability alluded to in the article - and I was answering with the minimum possible effort.

To derive that oil production rate will reach a maximum you need no other piece of information than oil is finite. To derive Hubbert's curve you just need the central limit theorem. Both of these are simplifications of reality, and therefore only hold good in theory - but they illuminate rather than obscurate. For real world practice you need a hell of a lot more - and critically you need to go beyond pure maths and not let what's pretty seduce you from what's correct.

There's no need to make it more mathematically complex than necessary, adding in the real world will do that for you - in particular the delayed feedback loops and psychology that drive the important behaviour you really need to understand.

Or in short, KISS; make it easy to grasp; it gets complex enough on it's own.

I basically agree with you, although one could say that oil on earth is finite is more than an approximation of reality. And about the central limit theorem, it is in itself an approximation in the sense that it defines a result on limits towards infinity (or in other words it doesn't "pretend" to provide an exact result for a given set, set of hydrocarbons fields or wells exploitation in that case, and the results of a given set are simply what they are once completed)
But what seems important to me is that the "maximum point aspect" isn't about probability, and that the Hubbert curve aspect is really about human behaviour more than anything else (under geological constraints of course).

garyp, yes, that is exactly what I meant and I did not phrase it well. I agree that picking a specific peak date requires probability . . . how many new fields will we find, how much new technology will advance and improve extraction, etc. However the fact of an eventual peak requires no probability, just acceptance of the fact that oil is finite.

I don't really see it so much as denial as a process of controlling how the argument is framed. To quite a large degree, those who control the choice of words used in the media control our behavior. The words that seem most popular for those who seem to be in denial are words that encourage the population to consume. The behavior of consumption concentrates wealth. As resources become more constrained, the most consistent behavior of the ruling class appears to be be to increase personal wealth and power regardless of the consequences to society. I suspect if there is to be a change to this it would have to come from within the elite.

To quite a large degree, those who control the choice of words used in the media control our behavior.

Do you really believe that the choice of words used by the media control our behavior? How quaint. I believe that is the first time I have heard anyone on TOD claim that the media controls our behavior, and especially to claim that it is their choice of words that does it. Strange indeed. I never imagined that the media's choice of words could have such an impact on the behavior of the population.

You frame your argument in terms that include "the ruling class" and "the elite" and you claim that any change will have to come from these guys. I really don't know who these guys are but I don't see anyone, rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief, really changing their behavior until circumstances force them to change, regardless of the words the media chooses to use.

Ron P.

Maybe control is too strong, but you surely believe that advertising has an impact on human behaviour? The choice of words frames the narrative used, which is currently set to convince everyone to consume as much and as fast as possible. If instead people were bombarded with the message to plan seven generations ahead, there would be at least some change in behaviour.

Seagatherer was obviously not talking about advertising. The media does not choose the words used in advertising. The ad producers create the ads and then they are approved or rejected by the manufacturers of the products or services being advertised.

I assumed he was talking about news, talk shows and perhaps even general programming. The media does and/or approve the words used in these programs.

To suggest that the media should bombard people with messages to prep for future disaster, collapse or whatever, is strange indeed. Why would they do that when they, like 99 percent of the people, believe that business as usual will continue long into the future?

The first thing they would have to do would be to believe it themselves. Then their advertisers, like the oil companies and such, would have to offer no objections. Fat chance of either of those things happening.

Ron P.

Ron, the content in the Mainstream news is not as distinct from the ads that punctuate those programs as you or others may think.. as Ad the Nad points out, what is really critical is all the things that are NOT EVER in the conversation over the Anchor's Desks.. but it is just as much a promotion for a presumably nonnegotiable lifestyle as the unending and impertinent car, soap and drug ads that encase these stories.

A little bit of a raised eyebrow or a smirking tone over any story about 'making do with less' is more than enough to cement the approved norms firmly in place and let everybody know that they'll be ridiculed mercilessly or quietly ignored if they consider raising certain subjects with any seriousness.

Jok, I understand that the point of ads are to sell you something, or to sell you an idea, like who to vote for. Political ads and news content are often close to the same thing, especially on right or left leaning media outlets. That should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. But this misses the point that AdTheNad and Seagatherer were talking about by a country mile.

Seagatherer suggest that the argument is not about denial but about how the argument is controlled by the "elite" and the "ruling class", whomever they are. That these folks choose words that encourage consumption and there will be no change until these people choose to mend their ways. Then AdTheNad seconds this notion by suggesting that the media should bombard the public with the message to prepare for the future, apparently, because our economy is on the verge of collapse.

My point was, are you guys joking? The media are not controlled by any "ruling class" or "elites" they are controlled by their boards of directors who only want to make money for the stockholders by pleasing their advertisers.

Too many people, on this list and elsewhere, see evil in some mythical group of "elites" and believe that if these folks would only mend their ways they could fix everything. This is sheer nonsense.

The problems of over consumption, over population and overshoot evolved as a result of the nature of Homo sapiens to survive and multiply even if it must be done at the expense of other species and even members of their own species. No group of elites or ruling classes caused this problem and neither can they fix it.

Ron P.

There was a great interview with Spike Lee, Martin Scorcese and some other film directors a few years back, where in particular, Scorcese said something to the effect that.. 'I can easily get 100-200 million to make another gangland blockbuster, and nobody is stopping me from using my own money to make, what, a Million Dollar 'Personal Film'.. but for the life of me, I can't get anybody to set me up with the 5-10 million I would need to make a really 'Good Film'.. the sort that everybody wants me to make..'

You're right and you're wrong, Ron. There IS free speech. There ARE independent players.. and there IS a guiding philosophy that runs firmly in the whole culture of the 'Money People', if you will, (and those who would desperately LOVE to become or be accepted by the 'Money People') .. that constrains the conversation to certain acceptable ranges, and it does so insidiously and viscerally more than consciously, but it most certainly IS keeping the public discussions through the overwhelming electronic communication channels bound into very tight, and safe-feeling areas that don't 'Rock the Boat'.. while the discussions that we Desperately need to be having would shake and tear this Mail Steamer to its brittle, iron timbers.

What you see and hear on TV, radio and in the New York Times has been approved through an ancient and truly subtle system of cocktail parties, marriages and introductions.. a very fluid and wily form of Natural Selection that at many levels is never even spoken out loud or put on paper, but it is as real as your 'other' Heart, Ron.. the one that doesn't get found in an Autopsy, but is what drives you to speak your mind here, to love your family, and to despair at the sorry state of the world. Both of these invisible systems are the result of energy flows, and they can be affected and redirected by enough constant, maybe even gentle, but constant pressure and attention. But first, we have to notice that they exist.

With hope, but still with some smelly despair stuck to my shoe.. take a moment today to Laugh out Loud at the Devil (who doesn't even exist! HA!), and step out into the sun and do nothing but enjoy it hitting your face!


"No group of elites or ruling classes caused this problem and neither can they fix it. "

They are playing their part, and we have some choices and great numbers with which to respond. McDonald's would NEVER have introduced 'Salads' into their menu without people starting to learn about real nutrition, and threaten to move off to other places if they couldn't find it there .. but nutrition is a conversation that was and is still amazingly starved in the mainstream. Why do you suppose that is? Is there really any money to be made selling cheap and toxic foods, and then more money to be made selling the drugs to 'retaliate' against these offenses? It would seem that the old saw about car-crashes helping the GDP would fit well into this picture, too, no?

'Ruling Elites'.. as stereotyped, and thus unhelpful a term as this can be, are surely, as you say, just businesspeople, boardmembers and investors making choices with 'other priorities' on their mind, namely money, which can bad enough in it's willfull shortsightedness.. but they have also and often made very conscious choices to dissuade reporting or research or programming or Movies/TV that showed ideas that would harm their investments. Why is this idea so difficult for you to accept? Some of it is ephemeral, cultural and simply a set of trained responses for them; but others, MANY others, as with the ALEX and EXXON and HERITAGE studies and reports intent upon unhinging the climate discussion, the Energy Discussion, and the 'Lifestyle' discussions, have been not only done consciously and with premeditation, but they have loudly trumpeted their intention keep subjects like Labor Rights, Sustainability and Green and Environmentalism and Equal Rights as unmentionable as they could.

Luckily, 'those ones' are not a Monolith, as that term 'Ruling Elites' would have people think.. (or NOT think, as the case may be) even in the 1%, I have little doubt it is no less a herd of cats, with numerous cliques and competing interests.. but that should hardly dismiss still the reality that various gangs of them DO hold fantastic sway over their fiefdoms, and that ALL of them bring with them a number of cultural behaviours that are tied simply to the culture of Money and Capitalism, so that even the 'good ones' still carry some of the assumptions that have us going in the wrong directions, and that they will be horribly conflicted with certain discussions that their peer group, and that of their families and communities etc, have long been aghast to ever hear mention of.

Obey Your thirst!

Bob, I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but mostly I feel like crying. Because I thought you were among a handful of people on this list who truly understood. Now I am afraid I was mistaken.

The Earth is dying. Rivers, lakes and inland seas are drying up, water tables are dropping, species are going extinct at an unbelievable rate, deserts are expanding, natural resources are being depleted, rain forest are disappearing, ocean fisheries are disappearing, and I could go on and on for pages about how the earth is being destroyed by the overshoot of the human population.

But not to worry, we are fixing things. McDonalds has introduced salads on their menu.

And I started to end this post with that line. But this statement outraged me.

...but they have also and often made very conscious choices to dissuade reporting or research or programming or Movies/TV that showed ideas that would harm their investments. Why is this idea so difficult for you to accept?

Geeeze man! That is exactly my point. I do accept that. Why is it so hard for you to accept that they don't want to harm their investments, especially by preaching something that they themselves likely don't even believe. They believe that the world is okay, that the free market and capitalism will eventually solve all resource shortages and solve all economic problems.

The "elites" or "ruling class" are not the problem and therefore cannot be the solution. It is way too late to fix the problem. The problem is, as I stated before, the overshoot of the human population. And even we, the human population that is, are not culpable of evil doing that brought about this coming disaster. We were only following our nature.

But that is something most people find extremely difficult to understand. And I really don't expect them to. But it just depresses me when some people point the long crooked finger of blame at those whom they call "elites", and suggest that they could fix the problem if only....

Ron P.

I recommend each and every one with an interest in this issue to download from your favourite torrent site and watch the horror movie "The Cube". Not only is this the only horror movies (they made two sequels) based on mathematics, but it also features a discussion about this very thing. There was no "they" who made The Cube, it just formed when everyone adapted to the system. And so is it with the rest of this world.

Watch it, I beg you. I really do.

That people are only following their nature is probably the most depressing thing. Humans are probably the only species on this planet that have evolved the faculty to override their nature if they so choose. We don't need to act the way we do, however without concious action on the individuals part they will always act following their nature.

Time for a little story (and a bit of a tangent, but bear with me).

Imagine two monkeys in a room. Monkey A starts beating on his chest. Monkey B is not amused and gives monkey A a good beating. Next time, monkey A will think twice before beating on his chest.

Now imagine two monkeys in a room with a bulletproof glass screen between them. Monkey A starts beating on his chest. Monkey B walks threateningly towards monkey A, but he can't reach him so A is not afraid. In desperation, monkey B also starts to beat his chest. A very long and loud ruckus ensues.

When I go to most forums or comment threads, all I see is monkeys following their nature, beating their chests. Very few monkeys realize the futility of their behaviour. Luckily, TOD rarely deteriorates into this.

Um...isn't it possible that there are both:

(A)Some unhelpful capitalists in the world


(B)The human endeavor and all its activities are in dramatic overshoot

At the same time?

Lets not fall into the trap of binary thinking.

Choose (C) All of the above

I understand that the point of ads are to sell you something, or to sell you an idea, like who to vote for.

I define advertising of any sort as: an attempt "to generate perceived need" in the person reading/watching/hearing the ad.

Hey hey Darwinian,

I'm afraid you are mostly wrong. There are subtleties and finer points, however, and they are important. Noam Chomsky and Robert W. McChesney have quite a lot to say on the subject. I recommend Chomshy's "Manufacturing Consent" and McChesney's "Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy" for starters.

My point was, are you guys joking? The media are not controlled by any "ruling class" or "elites" they are controlled by their boards of directors who only want to make money for the stockholders by pleasing their advertisers.

A couple of cold impartial facts. 1) The media is massively consolidated into a few giant corporations. A quick Google search for "media consolidation" will get you started. In particular look at the images that come up and you will see several graphs of the rapid consolidation over the last 40 years. 2) "The media" makes money from ads. We, you and I, are not consumers of media. we are the product. We get packaged up and sold to the actual audience which buys ads. 3) Advertising is a huge industry with the sole function of getting us to buy stuff. The industry is not above circumventing your rational mind and appealing to your baser emotions, for example the well know "sex sells" or the "attack ads" for politics. 4) The CEOs and board members for these companies are very wealthy. They are typically in or directly related to the top 0.01% as are, almost by definition, the people who own most of the stock. 5) There is a great deal of overlap between boards. It is common for an individual on a board at one of the media giants to sit on the boards of other large companies.

I'd like you to stop and thing about this. Think through the dynamics of this system before I try to bias you with my opinions on the matter. We all know that there ain't nothing wrong with your brain. Perhaps a google search for the members of the board for one of the media companies. Find out who they are, what other boards they sit on, and how they got their money.

Now, you are old enough to remember, without a doubt, that the media frames the debate and words things in such a way as to engender a specific world view that suits them. This is one of the finer points as "what suites them" is less clear cut then it sounds. A concrete example to illustrate the point. The muslim rebels in Afganistan who use gorilla and terrorist tactics against the occupying forces. The media called them freedom fighters when they were working to oust the Russians and terrorists when they were fighting us. This can't be construed as anything other than manipulation; using their soapbox to control. To be clear, there isn't necessarily anything nefarious about this. The media (the folks who own it, those that control it, those produce it, and those that watch it) can be forgiven for painting the Mujahedin as freedom fighters when we were in a cold war with the Soviets and then painting the Taliban as terrorists when we occupied Afganistan. It suited them to do so as it did a great many Americans. Nationalism isn't really big on introspection and integrity, but an impartial observer couldn't help but notice that the media was framing the debate and wording things in a way favorable to it's own interests which then shapes the views of the viewers.

Now, is this a conspiracy of the elites? It depends how you define it. Take the LIBOR scandal. A group of powerful banks coordinated to manipulate the interest rate for their own profit at the expense of the government and the public. This is definitely a conspiracy: a group of people meeting in secret to advance their own interests. There are other examples, Enron, Worldcom, Aurthur Anderson, etc...

The question is poorly framed. Are there elites? Wealthy and powerful folks? Yes. Are the in charge? Yes, almost by definition. Are they controlling the media? It depends what you mean by control. They own it and run it how it suits them.

That is really the question. How does it suit them to run it. Are they a bunch of sterling citizens brimming with integrity intend on looking out for their fellow man? Are they heartless capitalists bent on world domination through their networks of control? Both takes are childish fantasies. Reality is somewhere in between. They a bunch of wealthy business men who are coordinated and not above bending the rules on occasion. It's why we have racketeering and anti trust laws.


I think Darwinian and his critics are both correct. The upper 1% own the economy, buy politicians, and run the media. Counter information is drowned out by repetition. News media are being run as entertainment for profit (budgets for actual reporting are cut to the bone); even schools are being bought up to be operated for profit. Politics and culture all around us reflect this high hype, "low-information" situation.

But Ron is right that underlying the institutional corruption is the matter of consumption. Human beings, animals, are programmed to consume. Deer gorge on acorns in good years and have lots of fawns; come the inevitable bad year and many of them starve. Elites use advertizing to channel consumption, but we've reached a point where further consumption will kill us (or large numbers of us). Limits to growth. We need to pull back, but each of us wants to eat and have a family -- and seven billion people pursuing this natural desire spells doom.

It's a matter of degree, and a few other things. Sure, Deer and other critters will glut themselves with windfall when they can.. some even eat themselves to death, but our version of that is in a far more morbid form, and is being totally promoted by our own. As Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) said in Aliens.. "You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them f***ing each other over for a goddamn percentage."

Even so, I didn't say that the whole thing is the fault of these owners and corporations, but with the sway they have in the halls of power, they have shown just as great a capacity at helping to craft the laws in order to remain unaccountable for many thoroughly anti-social actions.. so it's always a bit sad to see so many people give that part the shrug, and then go and blame it on some broad-stroke notion like 'Human Nature'.. We do have laws for a reason, but applying them to some groups starts getting painted as being 'too pollyanna-ish'. Another part of the great messaging that comes to us through some ubiquitous and seemingly benign channel.. or a thousand of them.

Tim, I don't contest most of what you say except...

Board members trying to maximize monetary return for their shareholders is not a crime, it is just business as usual. That is just what they do. It is what one would expect them to do. It would be silly to expect them to do otherwise. However you drift far afield at times.

The muslim rebels in Afganistan... The media called them freedom fighters...

No the media did no such thing. Some reporters or commentators may have called them freedom fighters but the media is not a person or even a single organization that marches in lockstep like a bunch of soldiers. I know, conspiracy theorist believe they are all in cahoots but then conspiracy theorists believe a lot of nonsense. Fox News and MSNBC are both "media" but they cannot agree on a single thing.

However there are conspiracies and if conspiracies involve too many people one of them is bound to blow the whistle. That is why there are no giant conspiracies. The more people involved in the conspiracy the greater the chance that someone will spill the beans. Therefore the chances of a conspiracy being kept secrete decreases exponentially as the number of conspirators increase. Once the number of conspirators reaches a certain level it is a lead pipe cinch that the whole thing will blow up in their faces. That is what happened with the LIBOR scandal, one person spilled the beans and the whole thing fell apart.

But all this has absolutely nothing to do with "elites" or "ruling class" being responsible for the terrible mess the world finds itself in or they being able to fix it if they would only change their evil ways.

And that Tim, is the subject of discussion here and not LIBOR or Afghanistan Rebels. So if you think this is where I am "mostly wrong" then I really don't think much of that opinion. The elites or ruling class did not cause this pickle and they cannot fix it.

Ron P.

I agree with Ron. This talk of "the elite" conjures up an image of a well-defined group of people acting in concert, as opposed to "the rest" who are mindless victims of "the elite". I think that image is bollocks. Lots of the 99% are desperately trying to become part of the 1%, so they're just as responsible. Many of the 1% are trying to change things for the good.

It is possible to talk about individuals being partly responsible for our current mess. Organizations can be partly responsible, even groups of organizations. But "the elite" is just too illdefined a thing to be meaningful as a causative, culpable agent.

reread my post - it is short. You are not responding to what I said, maybe to someone else. I am quite comfortable with the phrase "the elite" - to use any other term would be less precise. Even the elite are often quite comfortable with the terminology - nothing wrong with it. If you grew up in private school, with an immediate family that owned billions in various properties and had for a few generations, and shuttled between chateaus in France, Germany, England and America, each with caretakers, stables, maids etc, and knew you would never want for money, no matter what - that you work choice was a matter of what you desired or were expected to do, rather than what was economically necessary - if your family's friends were movers and shakers scattered over the globe, if presidents and prime ministers were on your invite list, and often showed up when you asked - what word would you use to describe your status?

With regard to resource limits, the media floods the 99% with bad data.eg much of the media stories that Drumbeat links to re the fracking revolution and the death of peak oil, etc - if the public receives bad info, they can't be expected to make good choices -so no, they are not just as responsible. In fact, much effort and money is spent to get the public to support choices that are against their own long term interest. The majority do not realize it is happening.

Some people seem to think anyone with sense will strive to be rich, or at least in some deep sense want to be rich. They do not seem to recognize that there is an old ethic out there that finds profligate consumption and waste appalling. Well, maybe not in California - but here on the East Coast there are very wealthy people that drive the car that makes the most economic sense, regardless of the level of personal wealth, and will wear something out before replacing it. You would be surprised also how many people do not want to be part of the 1% - they simply want a quiet life where they can take care of their family and have time to enjoy their favored activities, which are not always costly. (In some neighborhoods, and with some interests, you will need to be in that one percent anyway).
Interestingly, many of the hereditary elite also simply want a quiet life where they can take care of their family and have time to enjoy their favored activities - eg the Rockefellers (oil)that are now raising cattle, the Spragues (oil, coal) who were raising sheep (I don't know if they are now), the Hess's (oil)and their horses, Paul Desmarais (mass media, wood pulp, finance) and his pheasants, or the current Baron de Rothschild and his edible dormice (this one is not a personal observation, IIRC he is the person who accidentally released them into England resulting in their establishment as an invasive species).

Many of the 1% are trying to change things for the good.

I agree. Unfortunately they are largely working for free, while the truly self serving, sociopathic members of the elite are capable of inflicting a lot of damage upon society, and may experience substantial personal gain for doing so. Don't misunderstand me - there are plenty of sociopathic members of the middle class and poor also, as individuals they do not have the time or resources to do what some of the elite are capable of.
It is a small world. We are all connected. The elite and the famous are not hard to find, even for middle class people - not hard to talk to. I certainly do not think of them as an ill defined concept, neither do they. My middle class brother works with them regularly - he's a cabinet maker with a good rep who does good work in a good neighborhood (and they can afford a $70,000 custom kitchen renovation or a $130,000 remodeling of their home's common living areas), and I've run into them regularly merely through chance, in the course of living my life.
edited to repair HTML tag

I think the "Elites" exist. It's not hard to imagine that there are several groups, after all they go to the same schools, colleges, clubs and meetings.

Davies’ Davos diary: Why the forum is like Scientology

Davos ought not to succeed. Why on earth should the world’s business and financial community, with a leavening of politicians and princes, trek up a mountain to an overpriced resort, to spend much of their time sitting in an Audi (the official car) traffic jam, where the only interest lies in distinguishing the A8s from the A4 Quattros? (Aston Martins can’t fit the snow tyres, I am told, or the Russians would take theirs along).

I don't think there is an overarching conspiracy (the world is too chaotic for that) but the Chicago Boys do exist and there are big lobbies for almost all major industries. Corporations regularly have budgets that exceed the GDP of many countries. Elected leaders are regularly disposed off at the behest of corporations and intelligence agencies. Why shouldn't a group of elites exist to further their own interest ? To argue otherwise flies in the face of everything we see.

Tim: The muslim rebels in Afganistan... The media called them freedom fighters...

Ron: No the media did no such thing.

They sure did! It just happens to be a couple of decades ago when it was the commie Russians they were fighting.

Fighting Commie Russians = Glorious Freedom Fighters
Fighting Corporate Americans = Dirty scumbag insurgent rebels

Substrata, you quote me out of context. That should be a crime.

Of course many reporters and commentators called them freedom fighters. But my point was that "the media" is not a single person or a single entity. The correct statement would have been many in the media called them freedom fighters.

Ron P.

You didn't build that! ;)

The media are kind of like a flock of birds..some might dart in and out, but from a far enough distance the vast mass of them seem to be a single entity heading in one direction.

Hey, I know two media outlets, Fox News and MSNBC that have been heading in opposite directions ever since they first came on the air.

You know, come to think of it, the Afghans were freedom fighters, or at least that's how they saw themselves. They did not want to be ruled from Moscow, they wanted to keep their Muslim faith, as horrible to women as it was.

They wanted freedom to practice their own religion and the freedom to suppress all other religions and the freedom to treat women like dirt. Now that's a freedom fighter. /sarc

Ron P.

Hey hey Darwinian,

There are many points we agree on and some where we are close. I will recap those briefly and then I want to run down the ones where we disagree. Also, I want to apologize about the clarity of my comment. I had to run to work and didn't have time to clean everything up to my liking. I have the day off today so I will spell it out as directly and precisely as I can.

The Earth is dying. Rivers, lakes and inland seas are drying up, water tables are dropping, species are going extinct at an unbelievable rate, deserts are expanding, natural resources are being depleted, rain forest are disappearing, ocean fisheries are disappearing, and I could go on and on for pages about how the earth is being destroyed by the overshoot of the human population.

No arguments here. Complete agreement.

Geeeze man! That is exactly my point. I do accept that. Why is it so hard for you to accept that they don't want to harm their investments, especially by preaching something that they themselves likely don't even believe. They believe that the world is okay, that the free market and capitalism will eventually solve all resource shortages and solve all economic problems.

Small quibble, almost complete agreement. I believe there are some people out there who know that things aren't going to work out but are still living the high life because they are unable or unwilling to change. There's a lot of complicated psychology involved in dealing with what we are facing, 5 stages of grief, fundamental changes in culture and society, etc. People who do strange things like buy recycled paper and an SUV or have their portfolio manager invest in big oil and set aside 10% for green investment. Weird, but also a minor quibble.

The "elites" or "ruling class" are not the problem and therefore cannot be the solution. It is way too late to fix the problem. The problem is, as I stated before, the overshoot of the human population. And even we, the human population that is, are not culpable of evil doing that brought about this coming disaster. We were only following our nature.

Almost complete agreement. The issue I have here is not with the "elites" exactly. The issue I have here is with "we were only following our nature" which is accurate but incomplete. There have been ecologically stable societies in the past. Not many of them granted, but they have existed. To paraphrase Kenneth Boulding if it exists then it is possible. However, I must qualify that by agreeing that it is indeed "way to late to fix the problem."

I pretty much agree with your world view. We are trashing this place. The future is going to suck and what we did was probably inevitable given our nature. I'd like to explain a little about my world view and why I read Chomsky and The Oil Drum. I'm not certain that it was inevitable. Maybe things would have been different if Julius Caesar had died in his childhood or if Hitler had gotten in to art school. It's interesting to think about, but largely moot point because I can't change the past and it was certainly inevitable by the time I was old enough to start thinking about it. To that end, if stable societies have existed then it is possible to build one. Not in time to avoid the mess we are in for us but in time for the people who come out the other side of the bottleneck that we are entering. I like to explain our problem with a metaphor. I view humanity as a computer. Our genes are the architecture and our society is the operating system. We can change the OS with a revolution but we can't change the architecture on anything short of evolutionary timescales. The X86 architecture has some problems and human beings have some problems, but we can't change them, it's what we've got to work with. Now, you can run Linex, Windows, and Mac OSs on the X86 architecture and they have very different characteristics and abilities. The problem is to find an OS that runs on Homo Sapiens Sapiens that doesn't crash all the damn time. We don't have time to fix this installation, it's going to crash, but we do have time to write some halfway decent code to run when reboot after the bottleneck. That's why I read book's like Media and the Threat to Democracy, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and of course Chomsky.

So here is where we disagree and I think that you are mostly wrong. Judging by your response I was not very clear in my previous post. I was in a hurry and I led the discussion further astray rather than clarifying. My apologies on this. I think I see the miscommunication this time. I was making a point about the existence and structure of hierarchies in society about which I believe you are mistaken. Or, at least, which you made statements about that are in err. You were making a point about the role, or lack thereof, of said structures in our ecological predicament. I didn't mention energy, ecology, or anything about how were wrecking the planet. That wasn't the point I was making. But I didn't distinguish the particulars of my argument from the rest of the thread and I should have.

This is what first set me off:

Do you really believe that the choice of words used by the media control our behavior? How quaint. I believe that is the first time I have heard anyone on TOD claim that the media controls our behavior, and especially to claim that it is their choice of words that does it. Strange indeed. I never imagined that the media's choice of words could have such an impact on the behavior of the population.

Yes. Yes, I do believe that the media tailors their choice of words to coerce the population into seeing things their way. Whether they do it deliberately, as in advertising and political campaigns, or subconsciously, as in news media descriptions of armed forces depending on which team they are on, is important but secondary to the fact that they do do it. And it is what led me to include the bit about terrorists and freedom fighters as a specific counter example. I chose that example because it is contemporary, relevant to world affairs, and very clearly a counter example. There is a fairly rich literature on the subject which I referenced.

No the media did no such thing. Some reporters or commentators may have called them freedom fighters but the media is not a person or even a single organization that marches in lockstep like a bunch of soldiers. I know, conspiracy theorist believe they are all in cahoots but then conspiracy theorists believe a lot of nonsense. Fox News and MSNBC are both "media" but they cannot agree on a single thing.

I don't have my copy of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media or I would give a more thorough example backed by exhaustive case studies. Of course it is true that the media is made up of individuals but that does not preclude understanding the industry in structural terms or looking at it as a unitary actor for the sake of analysis. The divergence of FOX and MSNBC has a parallel in the media's coverage of Vietnam which was uniform in the beginning and then polarized toward the end. Manufacturing Consent covers it in detail and interprets it as the emergence of a split within the opinions of the elite. (I feel that this is an aside to the topic, but I will dig my copy of the book out of storage if you would like to talk about it)

This is what made me feel I needed to reply:

My point was, are you guys joking? The media are not controlled by any "ruling class" or "elites" they are controlled by their boards of directors who only want to make money for the stockholders by pleasing their advertisers.

Now, since I don't have my copy of Manufacturing Consent on me I will paste the summary from Amazon:

In this pathbreaking work, now with a new introduction, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky show that, contrary to the usual image of the news media as cantankerous, obstinate, and ubiquitous in their search for truth and defense of justice, in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.

Based on a series of case studies—including the media’s dichotomous treatment of “worthy” versus “unworthy” victims, “legitimizing” and “meaningless” Third World elections, and devastating critiques of media coverage of the U.S. wars against Indochina—Herman and Chomsky draw on decades of criticism and research to propose a Propaganda Model to explain the media’s behavior and performance. Their new introduction updates the Propaganda Model and the earlier case studies, and it discusses several other applications. These include the manner in which the media covered the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent Mexican financial meltdown of 1994-1995, the media’s handling of the protests against the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund in 1999 and 2000, and the media’s treatment of the chemical industry and its regulation. What emerges from this work is a powerful assessment of how propagandistic the U.S. mass media are, how they systematically fail to live up to their self-image as providers of the kind of information that people need to make sense of the world, and how we can understand their function in a radically new way.

Lastly, this bit from your reply about conspiracies is a nice place to start. Use of the term conspiracies is a pet peeve of mine and I will explain why below.

However there are conspiracies and if conspiracies involve too many people one of them is bound to blow the whistle. That is why there are no giant conspiracies. The more people involved in the conspiracy the greater the chance that someone will spill the beans. Therefore the chances of a conspiracy being kept secrete decreases exponentially as the number of conspirators increase. Once the number of conspirators reaches a certain level it is a lead pipe cinch that the whole thing will blow up in their faces. That is what happened with the LIBOR scandal, one person spilled the beans and the whole thing fell apart.

There are three acceptable uses of the term conspiracy in our modern world. 1) The Hollywood kind. Talking about the latest block buster film with Jason Bourne or whatever. Here there are fictional all encompassing conspiracies of epic proportions. It's fun to watch, the hero saves the day and there is usually a good car chase. 2) The tin foil hat kind where Hollywood has bypassed one's intellect. Here all the world's many problems are the fault of the Illuminati or the space lizards or something. It's not fun to listen to, the hero isn't busy saving the day, but there is occasionally an interesting historical fact about banking or the Knights Templars or Egyptian pyramids. 3) The legal kind. As in conspiracy to commit murder. Rarely talked about unless one is prosecuting or defending against it. Important but boring.

None of these categories are relevant to this discussion. The kind of conspiracy I am talking about is an older use of the term from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Here I am pointedly not talking about any cloak and dagger secret game, Hollywood plot, space lizards, or anything of the sort. What I am talking about is far more mundane and Warren Buffett puts it nicely:

There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning.

From Chomsky above:

in their actual practice they defend the economic, social, and political agendas of the privileged groups that dominate domestic society, the state, and the global order.

Yes, Ron, there are global conspiracies. Not in the exciting Hollywood sense but in the mundane Adam Smith sense. There is an elite. Chomsky calls them the privileged groups that dominate domestic society. George Bush jokingly calls them his base. Buffett calls them the rich class and he thinks they are winning a war. To be clear, I'm not saying that there is some universal rich and powerful club to which one gets a membership card after 200 million dollars or after switching from Goldman Sachs to the treasury and back. But there are a number of organizations that one needs to be rich and powerful in order to gain access. The Trilateral Commission is a fine example. It is an exclusive group of the elite that unabashedly tries to control the world. There are others of course the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF. These groups are made up of the wealthy and powerful individuals from the wealthy and powerful nations of the world. They try to control the world in their own interests. Maybe they are doing their best to make a bright future according to their own worldviews and they just suck at it or maybe their worldviews are antithetical to mine and they are doing a bang up job. That's not what interests me. I'm interested in the structure, the dynamics, the system and its drivers and consequences. According to me that is a conspiracy because: 1) It is a meeting behind closed doors that I do not have access to or influence on. 2) The choices being made have an effect on my wellbeing. 3) The choices are being made according to the self interest of those in the group and not necessarily in my best interests.

As with your reply about the media not being a cohesive unitary actor:

media is not a person or even a single organization that marches in lockstep like a bunch of soldiers.

The elite are not a single organization, as evidenced by Buffett's comment which he wouldn't have made if he was interested in winning the rich classes war, but there is utility to be had in analyzing them as such. In looking at groups and groups of groups. To illustrate this point nations don't go to war with each other because every individual in each nation wants to fight their opposite number, but nations do go to war and there are some meaningful ways of understanding the dynamics that lead to it.

That is what I think you are mostly wrong about. There is an elite. They do exert some measure of control through the media. And they do organize on several levels, including a global level, to influence things in their own self interest. That was the point I was making. I brought this up because your flat dismissal of media influence or elite control is arguable as wrong as the Hollywoodesk conspiracy take that you are criticizing.

It is not, however, a black and white matter. It is a matter of degree. There are rich and powerful people in our society and that means, almost by definition, that they have a greater capacity to influence and control their world. I don't imagine for a second that there is some cartoon super villain presiding over a global shadow government running the show according to his diabolical plans. However, I cited the LIBOR scandal to illustrate the capacity of the well to do to organize in their own self interest. The LIBOR scandal was illegal and the IMF happens to be perfectly legal but to my way of thinking this simply reflects a broader consensus among the rich class. If you take it that there are rich and powerful people with influence then extend that influence to politics you would expect to see regulatory capture and a huge influence of wealth on legislation making laws and policies in their favor. It's almost circular, if they didn't have the influence to legalize and legislate their actions then we clearly couldn't call them powerful and influential.

Maybe we are in agreement on this and merely using different terminology and if so I apologize for wasting your time.

But all this has absolutely nothing to do with "elites" or "ruling class" being responsible for the terrible mess the world finds itself in or they being able to fix it if they would only change their evil ways.

And that Tim, is the subject of discussion here and not LIBOR or Afghanistan Rebels. So if you think this is where I am "mostly wrong" then I really don't think much of that opinion. The elites or ruling class did not cause this pickle and they cannot fix it.

I was not commenting on the elite's capacity to influence our society toward or against the horrible mess we are making. I'm sorry about the confusion. I should have been more careful to distinguish my qualms from the currents of the earlier thread. But since I wasn't very clear about it here is what I think on the matter:

I think that the elites could steer this ship in a better direction if they wanted to. I think that if they had collectively decided to do so a 4-6 decades ago we might even have been able to avoid the crisis that is now unavoidable. I don't think that they will do any such thing because they are as deluded as most of the rest of society. It's even a little odd that they don't because they have more information, a better vantage to see it happening, and more to lose should it happen.

But, like previous overshoots, the Roman Empire, the desertification of the Fertile Crescent, the killing off of most of the world's megafuna, the 1929 stock market crash, the 2008 financial crisis, etc. I don't think our leaders and/or elites will snap to what's going on any sooner than the rest of us because they are vested in their present worldviews. In this light Buffett's comment about the class war is particularly insightful. If the upper class wins they will destabilize the very society that gives them their status.

For the record, I don't think we landed where we are because the man is keeping us down or anything of the sort. However, the rich and powerful have more than their fair share of wealth and power to control things and that means that they sholder more than their share of the blame. Or they would if this was simple moral exercise of figuring out who to blame which it is not. They could have brought forth a disproportionate share of the solution if they had magically snapped out of the human condition decades ago, but that is magical thinking.


Beautifully said.

I'm gonna steal some of that...

We may find out how much media "influence" can occur.

And on it goes!!

Recent research shows that with Internet, rumors spread faster than facts. It looks like media is actually losing power over the mind to the djungle drums of the Internet. I don't know what this will lead to in the long run.

Perhaps "trust, but verify" is where things will lead to in the long run ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trust,_but_verify ).

Don't need the Internet for it to be true. Mark Twain: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

...but I don't see anyone, ... really changing their behavior until circumstances force them to change

Well, that's the key. But a lot of reality, events, thoughts, insights, super-storms, droughts, ice-melts, heat-waves, economic insecurity, etc. are being gathered up into that one word "circumstances."

Maybe we could reframe it a "what are some early circumstances, what are some initial conditions, that would start behavior change?"

And, it seems that we've started to catalog them here on TOD.

And I agree completely that the words the MSM uses has a minimum effect on behavior change.

As resources become more constrained, the most consistent behavior of the ruling class appears to be be to increase personal wealth and power regardless of the consequences to society.

I think they sense time is short before all hell breaks loose, so if in a position to do so they take as much as possible, for later there may not be much to grab. Desperation time, even though many of the one's you refer to already have so much. Dispicable behavior on the surface, but also a warning signal to the rest of us to get what ducks we can get in order.

Peak Earl and Darwinian, and all;
I am in the midst of some of this right now. My son is in the middle of selling his software startup company for not a huge amount of money, but a life-changing amount. He loves his company and has been totally devoted to it, and his employees, for about 5 years. I'm glad he is selling it now as the money he will get may help my grandchildren survive what I know will come in their lifetimes. Selling it now before we slide further down the curve is, I am sure, the right idea. This may be a small-scale example of some of what drives the wealthy elite to get more and more - the hope of insulating their family from the collapse to come. Darwinian - I'm with you on human nature - we will do as every species does and use all available energy and resources to increase our population until the inevitable crash. As much as I wish it was not so, and I work every day on habitat restoration projects, I do not think we can change our basic biological drivers.

In addition, what makes this theory completely false is the fact that it totally ignores the impact of technological advancements in increasing the recovery factor and the probability to find new oil discoveries.

Right'O! And in other news, 'Gravity' is just a theory and recent technological advancements in parachute development and the probability that thick soft rubber mats are being used in place of cement sidewalks may yet prove it completely false.

Thank you for that. +1

Really, peak oil is a boring fact. There is a finite amount of oil, therefore at some point production will peak. This isn't an arguable proposition. Nothing is infinite on a spherical planet.

All we can argue about is circumstances and date of peak.

As the late L.F. Buz Ivanhoe said on more than one occasion "The question is not whether but when..."

adamx: "Nothing is infinite on a spherical planet."

Nothing but the optimism of the uninformed, that is...

From The Falsehood of Peak Oil Theory author:

If the US peak oil was predicted to be early 1970, I wonder why the US is still producing oil till today? And why the US is talking about oil independence by 2035 by exploiting shale and sand oil? What I am saying is technology will always make peak oil date a moving target to a degree we can not predict it.

There must be a U of T At Austin graduate shaking his/her head now...

California Power Facing Biggest Test Since Enron

California may face the biggest regional power shortages in more than a decade this summer, sending wholesale prices higher, as idled nuclear reactors and low hydroelectric output cut generating capacity.

I remember the last time this happened. California had horrific power shortages and was forced to buy emergency power from the cruel capitalists at extortionary prices. It being California, extensive litigation ensued and the capitalists were beaten into submission.

As I recall, the two worst capitalist extortionary offenders were the Bonnyville Power Authority, owned by the US federal government, and BC Hydro, owned by the government of British Columbia. They ripped huge amounts of money off the defenseless California consumers by delivering just enough electricity at just the exact time it was needed. And, they charged market price for the electricity, which was very high because everybody else including them was short of electricity, too.

I was walking through the mountains a vertical mile above BC Hydro's giant Revelstoke Dam on the Columbia River at that point in time, and noticed something interesting - BC Hydro had seeded the hydroelectric reservoir to grass to keep the wind from blowing the dust around. The Columbia River was just a trickle flowing to a small pond behind the giant dam. When the panicked call came in from California at 5 pm every day, the Revelstoke dam would spin its 1000 megawatts of generators up to full power, deliver the 1000 megawatts to California for an hour, and then shut them down because the reservoir was empty again. The BPA did the same thing.

Some of my friends lived immediately downstream from the Revelstoke Dam on a property backing onto the Columbia River, and this was quite an experience for them. The Columbia would be a trickle for most of the day - you could walk across it - then at 5 pm it would come up to full flow, stay like that for an hour, and then go back down to a trickle again. The Columbia is a big, big river, so you probably can't imagine what it looked like unless you've seen it.

However, BC Hydro charged a lot of money for this electricity since they didn't have any surplus themselves. California felt this was unfair and refused to pay. Eventually California grudgingly paid for half of it.

This time, I think BC Hydro should just not answer the phone when California comes calling. I do this myself because California mandates caller ID blocking as a default, and I have caller ID blocking blocking. When someone in California calls me, they get a message saying, "This phone does not accept calls from blocked caller ID's. Please disable caller ID blocking and call back." If they do turn off caller ID blocking and call back, they get a message saying, "Please tell me your name and where and how we met, and give a good reason why I should call you back. If I know you, and want to talk to you, I will return your call within 2 weeks, or possibly a month depending on what I am doing and how good satellite communications are from where I am."

Anyhow, the next time California calls, I think BC Hydro should just give them a recorded message saying, "Solar power - it's the only solution!" and hang up on them.

"Solar power - it's the only solution!"

Please don't build anymore Dams, and we won't call.
"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home & our being, drive a spear into the land, & say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government & corporations, "thus far & no farther."
— Edward Abbey

Well, BC is committed to building the "Site C" dam on the Peace River in Northern BC, but I think they are out of ideas after that. Site C is for BC's requirements. So, don't worry, I don't think they are going to supply much more power to California. For California it's going to be solar power or nothing. Most likely nothing.

Yes, of course, here in California we are so dumb we can't figure out how to tie our shoes in the morning, much less invent new technologies like, say, a computer industry. I wanted to ask a really smart Canadian how to do that but he wouldn't answer his phone ;>P


My folks moved to California from Minnesota in 1954. It truly was paradise then. What happened? We left in 68. I think I'll stay in BC.


My folks moved to California from Minnesota in 1954. It truly was paradise then. What happened?

California did well for a long time because of its warm climate and low rainfall. It also had some pretty impressive fossil fuel resources, now mostly gone. People moved there particularly from more northerly climates because people don't like cold, snow, and wet weather.

Unfortunately, too many of people moved there, they exceeded the carrying capacity of the state, and turned it into a non-viable place to live, with unaffordable housing and insane traffic. If it still had only a quarter of its current population (which now happens to be more people than live in Canada), it would probably still be a nice place to live.

Canada is rated by the Economist as have 3 of the 10 most livable cities in the world, and Australia has 4 of them. New Zealand and Finland each have 1. Why is that? Hint - low population density, a lot of space, and vast natural resources to support their small populations.

Frankly, there are still some very nice places to live in California. I lived in one of them and miss it dearly. I lived there in the mid 70s and also a few years ago. There are places in Northern California that have hardly changed at all and are still beautiful.

I think the other thing that made the old California was their commitment to world class education. They really had built up a great system, but ever since the prop 13 revolt it has been going downhill fast. Last election cycle a couple of obstacles seem to have been overcome, and perhaps progress reversing the trend can begin.

Let's not minimize the depth of corruption in the private sector. Enron defrauded ratepayers to the tune of $9 billion in California alone. Snohomish County PUD had recorded conversations between Enron traders transcribed (the Bush administration refused, calling it "too expensive"), and revealed gems like one Enron trader congratulating another for defrauding "Grandma Millie,": "now she wants her f*****' money back for all the power you've charged right up – jammed right up her ass for f*****' 250 dollars a megawatt hour."

Where did all of the booty go? Executives dumped it into Enron's complex offshore network of 860 "special purpose entities", with over 4,000 subsidiaries, where it was laundered and diffused into the shadow economy (now valued at $67 trillion). It was never repatriated.

"Let's not minimize the depth of corruption in the private sector."

This company purchased a rather large "fracking supply" company not so long ago -- diversifying from gasoline/diesel distribution to involvement in obtaining gas and/or oil from down below. Given that Brother Bill is the Governor of Tennessee, which just promulgated its first "fracking regs," or pitiful excuse therefore -- could it be that he knows something we don't?


I'd say that we all have very good reasons to be "conspiracy theorists," and that it is only natural that some humans will become "crazy" over it.

The affidavit outlines the FBI’s investigation into Pilot Flying J that resulted in the Monday raid at the Knoxville company. Pilot, the source of the Haslam family and governor’s wealth, has grown over the past several years to become the largest seller of diesel fuel to truckers in the United States.

I'm told that the FBI's "sealed affidavits" are now unsealed and can be found to read at the website of Channel 10, WBIR.com. The company's CEO, Jimmy Haslam, has implied that there is perhaps "something funny" about the timing of the "unsealing" of those 100 pages of "evidence." He did so by muttering something "that timing" and then failing to elaborate. They are clever, indeed.

Big Brother Jimmy recently spent many millions to buy the Cleveland Browns, retired as Pilot CEO and declared himself to be devoted now as a "hands on owner" of an NFL football team. Four or five months later, he decided to un-retire and replaces the newly appointed Pilot CEO (keeping him on as a consultant to the company and the "family), saying that he "missed working." All very odd, if you ask me. But, of course, no one does. Apparently there are recorded and e-mail conversations amongst Pilot management similar to those you cite for Enron.

Mind turning off the Seven Dirty words machine? It causes TOD to be blocked by school and library web browsers.. and personally, I think it seriously weakens your voice in the argument.

I understand the anger.. but the good news is that self-control doesn't depend on Fossil fuels at least.

Yes, thank you - and I edited your post w/stars, Barrett.

All the best,

He was actually quoting from the transcript. That's how the traders were talking.

But yeah, asterisks are the way to go in that situation.

MB hydro even sold them some.

What I found interesting in the article was the singular "unit." San O_NO_fre is 2 dead units presently. And although the NRC might be insane enough to license the second one that is presently merely severely crippled back to 70% power, many are vehemently opposed to that proposed merde crap shot. I chose to get info on Onofre from the biased FaireWinds - we all have our biases.

Meh. I think California will have it under control. Solar PV has been building fast, they built a few natural gas plants, LCD panels have replaced CRTs, CFLs and LED have replaced incandescents, they have both commercial and residential demand-response programs set up to shift loads when things get close, etc.

Well, that remains to be seen. California solar (not all PV) is about 3GW, wind about 6. Nice weather demand runs about 21-28GW. I'm not worried, but I live in the North. San Diego, and maybe LA might have a bit to be concerned about, especially San Diego, as there isn't a lot of transmission capacity to make up for SONGS not singing.

*(SONGS = San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station)

True, nice (mild, like today) weather runs in the 20s of GW of demand,


heat wave weather is double, at 40GW+ of demand.

(If I can remember to do so, will post to TOD the GW for heat-wave loads this summer.)

A google search found:

UPDATE 2-California braces of power-grid test as heat-wave approaches
August 09, 2012|Reuters

Peak electricity demand for Thursday through Sunday ranges
from 43,000 MW to 47,125 MW, CAISO said. The state is capable of
producing up to 58,600 MW, according to CAISO.

The all-time peak demand was 50,270 MW, which occurred on
July 24, 2006.

I remember that 06 heat wave. At its peak we had two days of 115F with a low of 84. As usual not a cloud in the sky.

"I remember that 06 heat wave. At its peak we had two days of 115F with a low of 84. As usual not a cloud in the sky."

The various renewable technologies have been proving to have their own environmental niches.

In your particular case, where a region is prone to experiencing heat waves, it's solar. Wind often fails because these events are concurrent with high pressure events "Indian Summer" that come with clear skies and still winds. Utterly predictable.

In the other case, areas prone to frigid storms or lots of rain, it's wind. The clouds sneak in and snow and rain obscures the sun - solar fails.

The best, of course, is to just have a mix of the two and weighted towards your climate...when one gives out the other usually kicks in. For places like So-CA,NV,NM,So-TX - they can basically go all solar.

California has nothing under control. It is utterly dependent on energy imports from other states and Canada. If they decide to pull the plug on them, Californians will be baking in the dark and completely immobilized with no water to drink.

If you are a survivalist, California is the place not to be because if TSHTF California will not survive.

Yeah, interesting comment. I was sitting in my little 13ft travel trailer during the summer in Landers, California (near Yucca Valley) when all of a sudden the electric went off. I sat there and had the feeling this is big, not just a local outage. A little later i found out it was a massive outage which covered most - maybe all of California. Plus, i found out that it was caused by some kind of relay or something going out which broke the connection between the primary supply source up north on the Columbia River. I was really surprised that California was so dependent on electricity generated up north in Oregon. But the repair guys told everyone that the problem has been fixed and will not happen again.

I was really surprised that California was so dependent on electricity generated up north in Oregon.

A couple of years ago I was touring the huge Grande Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington. It makes the Revelstoke Dam look pretty puny by comparison because it is about 7 times as big (7000 MW vs 1000 MW). The Grande Coulee and the other 30-odd dams on the lower Columbia are the ones that wrecked the once vast Columbia salmon fishery. Your chances of seeing a salmon on the upper Columbia in the vicinity of Revelstoke are just about nil (unless it's one of those stranded fresh-water salmon we call trout.)

Anyhow, one of the local Washingtonians asked, "How much of this electricity is consumed here in Washington?" and the tour guide said, "None. Washington has other dams which producer power much cheaper for our own consumption. All the power from Grande Coulee goes to California."

I've also toured a lot of the arid Mountain West of the US, and every so often, I come upon a humongous coal-burning power plant. There aren't many people around except Indians, and all the power lines seem to lead in the direction of California.

So, don't be surprised how dependent California is on outside power. If it wasn't for out-of-state power, California would be even less sustainable than it is now. And lets not forget outside water, either.

Northern CA would be (or could have been?) sustainable. It is Southern Cal. that takes the water, and uses most of the electric.

We from N.Ca. would have the divide done at the Tehachapi mountains. North of there is the REAL California. South is pretty much never-never land.


Northern California is three-quarters of the state? (Okay by me, but geographically odd.)

California is seeking to eliminate coal power imports (not there yet). In terms of per capita demand I think we are near or at the bottom. But you do occasionally get heat waves which can bring desert heat practically to the normally cool coast. Obviously AC demand spikes of those occasions.

"The Grande Coulee and the other 30-odd dams on the lower Columbia "

11, counting Grand Coulee, not 30. Plus the three in Canada.


Well, the number I used is often quoted for the number of hydroelectric dams on the entire Columbia River System. 11 is the number of run-of-the-river hydroelectric dams on the mainstem of the Columbia River.

The distinction is somewhat arbitrary. It is really all the dams preventing salmon access to the spawning grounds on the tributaries which have wrecked the salmon run.

That's interesting. Too many people living in California, i guess. If someone had asked me where does Southern California get most of it's electricity, i probably would have said: Hoover Dam. But, according to the chart below, it looks like not too much is provided by the Hoover Dam, but some is:

How is the firm energy generated at Hoover Dam allocated?

Arizona - 18.9527 percent
Nevada - 23.3706 percent
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California - 28.5393 percent
Burbank, CA - 0.5876 percent
Glendale, CA - 1.5874 percent
Pasadena, CA - 1.3629 percent
Los Angeles, CA - 15.4229 percent
Southern California Edison Co. - 5.5377 percent
Azusa, CA - 0.1104 percent
Anaheim, CA - 1.1487 percent
Banning, CA - 0.0442 percent
Colton, CA - 0.0884 percent
Riverside, CA - 0.8615 percent
Vernon, CA - 0.6185 percent
Boulder City, NV - 1.7672 percent

... then the sellers declare bankruptcy.

"If they decide to pull the plug on them"

Is that a threat? I could say something stupid like Canada has nothing under control. We'll cut off their supply of computer technology, fruits, vegetables, etc. and watch them go back to trapping beavers. But that would be being silly. As long as our money has value, I'm pretty sure everyone will be more than happy to sell to us electricity. If not . . . well I could go on being a jerk and talk about local businesses like Lockheed-Martin.

We'll cut off their supply of computer technology, fruits, vegetables, etc. and watch them go back to trapping beavers. But that would be being silly. As long as our money has value, I'm pretty sure everyone will be more than happy to sell to us electricity.

They will be happy to sell you electricity if they have a surplus and as long as you actually pay. Both of those are sticking points because Western Canada does not always have a surplus of electricity and California has not been good about paying its bills - which was the point of my comment.

Canada supplies 33% of California's hydro power and 23% of its natural gas. There are new sources of NG in the US, which is fortunate because Canadian production is declining and exports to the US are quietly being curtailed. There is enough hydro power in high rainfall years, but in the event of a drought, and based on California's history in paying for it, BC Hydro just might curtail exports to the US if its reservoirs are low. If BC is short of hydro, Washington and Oregon will probably be short too, and it might be hard to find replacement power.

Computer equipment can be purchased in China, Japan, and Korea. Tropical fruit can continue to come from Florida, Brazil, and Africa (we don't have many restrictions on fruit imports). Vegetables can continue to come from Mexico, Spain, and South America. However, Canada does produce a lot of its own veggies and actually exports significant amounts of fruit and vegetables to the US.

Trapping beaver is not a major Canadian industry. The main export industries in Canada are crude oil and petroleum products; followed by vehicles and components; liquid petroleum gas; coal; chemical fertilizers; aircraft; aluminum; wheat; and lumber.

California has not been self-sufficient in any of these things (except possibly aircraft) for a long time.

Oh sure . . . computer equipment is manufactured elsewhere. But much of it is designed here and we hold the intellectual property. Apple, Intel, Cisco, AMD, HP, Oracle, Google, etc. Good luck working without any of those and even if you tried, you'd end up with your IP violating equipment seized.

The point is no man is an island. The entire world has interlocking trade arrangements.

I'm sure PG&E monitors the hydro situation to know what it can and can't expect to buy. And if you are having trouble collecting on bills, Enron is (or was) down in Houston. If you prefer not to sell then I'm sure we can make other arrangements. In fact I think that would be great, I'd rather not have a supplier that doesn't seem fully interested in selling. That would give us a good incentive to work hard on the PV, Wind, and natural gas programs. We should really be doing some off-shore wind.

But much of it is designed here and we hold the intellectual property. Apple, Intel, Cisco, AMD, HP, Oracle, Google, etc. Good luck working without any of those and even if you tried, you'd end up with your IP violating equipment seized.

Seized by who? This is Canada. US intellectual property law does not apply, only Canadian IP law applies, and that is a bit problematic for IP "owners" since it doesn't fit the Canadian legal definition of "property" and there are no constitutional protections for private property in Canada anyway. Canadian governments can and do seize property from companies without notice or compensation. Provincial governments are particularly prone to doing this because they have constitutional jurisdiction over private property, not the federal government.

You have to consider the particular statutory or common law relevant to whatever it is - patent law, copyright law, trademark law, or trade secret law. They all have different rules and they are all different than the US. The "intellectual property" meme doesn't really apply here.

That being said, there are protections for human rights in Canada, it's just that they don't really apply to companies. If the government seizes your personal property, the courts might order compensation. If it seizes Apple's intellectual property, not so likely.

US Intellectual property rights don't tend to stop Chinese factories from running a few million more copies of whatever (iphones, etc) off the assembly lines for internal consumption. What's even funnier are their almost exact copies of US military equipment...cruise missiles, helicopters, jet planes, you name it. They either get the blueprints through espionage or simply buy the stuff and then reverse engineer it.

Wow. So, no laws against copying music, DVDs, books, etc??

There are in fact laws in Canada against copying music, movies, books that you don't have a license for

However, there is a little glitch in the law. You see, the Canadian government levies a royalty on writable blank CD's and DVD's to compensate copyright owners on the assumption that buyers will probably copy material onto blank media.

The courts have ruled that this gives anyone who buys a blank CD or DVD the right to fill it with the copyrighted material of their choice, including music, movies, and books. Once they have it on a CD or DVD, whether pre-recorded or copied, then they can move it to an iPod, iPad, iPhone, or computer because THEY NOW HAVE A GOVERNMENT-ISSUED LICENSE TO USE IT!

Giant media companies can argue that the government has seized their property, but that won't wash because it's not property and the Canadian government can seize it regardless and give it away to whomever it wants. Their dispute is with the government and not the end user.

The Canadian government has tried to change the law but it hasn't gone over well with the electorate or the courts and hence the court decisions still stand. There is not as big a media lobby in Canada as in the US.

You know Canada issues patents too. And US companies do file for them. I'm sure Canada is going to fulfill its obligations to protect intellectual property under trade agreements.

And more with the veiled threats. Careful now . . . you don't want to be a nation with a lot of oil that gets on the USA's naughty list. ;-)

OK, thanks. Thanks for the power, Canada.
No hard feelings.
And thanks as well for that 10,000,000 tons of lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury you dumped in the river as well.
Mighty white of ya.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation vs Teck Resources Ltd is discussed in greater detail in
along with mining on the headwaters of other rivers which run into Alaska. The 1850s treaties have been upheld, basically giving Indians half of all the fish in their "usual and accustomed" harvesting areas.
A further interpretation of the treaties may require that the fish be sufficiently free of pollution from upstream mines as to be edible.


It was the United States that wrecked the salmon run on the Columbia river, first by overfishing by commmercial fishermen, and second by building hydroelectric and irrigation dams on it. See the Wiki article for details. I went and visited the salmon museum at the mouth of the Columbia which celebrates what used to be major industry back when the Columbia had a salmon fishery. I can highly recommend it.

In prehistoric times the Columbia's salmon and steelhead runs numbered an estimated annual average of 10 to 16 million fish. In comparison, the largest run since 1938 was in 1986, with 3.2 million fish entering the Columbia.[61] The annual catch by natives has been estimated at 42 million pounds

Salmon canneries established by white settlers beginning in 1866 had a strong negative impact on the salmon population, and in 1908 U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt observed that the salmon runs were but a fraction of what they had been 25 years prior.

As river development continued in the 20th century, each of these major fishing sites was flooded by a dam

The installation of dams dramatically altered the landscape and ecosystem of the river. At one time, the Columbia was one of the top salmon-producing river systems in the world.[119] Previously active fishing sites, most notably Celilo Falls in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, have exhibited a sharp decline in fishing along the Columbia in the last century, and salmon populations have been dramatically reduced.[120] Fish ladders have been installed at some dam sites to help the fish journey to spawning waters. Chief Joseph Dam has no fish ladders and completely blocks fish migration to the upper half of the Columbia River system.[121]

It's quite ironic that the dam that finally blocks all salmon access to the upper Columbia is named after a native Indian. Anyhow, I think their disagreement over fisheries should be with the US government, not the Canadian government, since there was no fishery left to destroy in Canada after the US got all its dams in place.

The Frazer and Skeena Rivers which are completely within Canadian territory have no dams on them, count them - zero, to preserve the salmon fisheries on them. Canadian fishermen are highly annoyed at US fishermen catching fish at the mouth of these rivers because their own rivers have been denuded of salmon, and there have been some nasty protests.

The Canadian natives are doing okay because of their aboriginal fishing rights, and every so often we white guys get a warning from the coast guard that the natives are exercising their "native ceremonial fishing rights" at the mouth of the Fraser River in suburban Vancouver using their big commercial fishing vessels, and we sailing yachts and giant supertankers should keep clear.

"It's quite ironic that the dam that finally blocks all salmon access to the upper Columbia is named after a native Indian.

This is classic USA, my friend. You don't know how many times I've see a developer cut down a forest - pancake flat - build a sprawling development and call it "Whispering Pines" or flatten and terrace a hill for a development called "Rolling Acres."

What you do is you figure out what's there to begin with say, a forest full of oak trees, then you cut down all of those oaks and put condominiums in their place and name the condominium "Oak Forest Condominiums."

I believe it was JHK some time back who used the example of a developer exterminating all the quail in an area by putting in a development named "Quail Run".

That quantity of heavy metals would probably be enough to kill all life downstream as far as the ocean.
To be accurate, the article you referenced cited 10,000,000 tons of slag which presumably had as much of those elements smelted out of it as the technology of the day would profitably allow.
In fairness to your point, the Teck smelter in Trail BC may have consistently been the worst heavy metal polluter on the continent by far until 1998. At times, the effluent pollution was as high as all similar US operations combined and the worst pollution is probably from Selenium which didn't make your list.
Who do you properly point the finger at though? You are talking about cumulative pollution across one hundred years. Those most at fault lived full rich lives and left inheritors of their operation to hold the bag. That's the typical story of industrialization isn't it?
If you want to blame the sovereign nation itself bear in mind that the economies of Canada and the US are thoroughly intertwined and environmental pollution flows along waterways and by air in both directions.

Yes, agreed that culpability for environmental crimes usually spans borders and generations and trying to affix responsibility is generally fruitless.
Mine was more a rhetorical point.
I detected in RMG's post that sense of aggrievement towards the US that characterizes a lot of cross-border communication.
At one time there was an oft-discussed quality that came to be known as 'Ugly-Americanism'...a presumtion to the moral high ground simply because one came from a more economically successful society. It bred resentment at our smug self-righteousness...a resentment we are now starting to understand as we gaze across the border at healthy well-educated prosperous Canadians.

Fair enough. I understand the sentiment, but I've never cared for the term 'Anti-Americanism'.
IMO All people are guilty to some degree of choosing sides and finding fault with those across the line. Most people believe their side, however they define it, has the moral high ground or they would change how they define their side. Any period of extended success just puts that belief of moral superiority on open display for the fortunate group of the day.
It's hard to hold back that belief that you are right when in dialogue with others who may disagree, but I think RMG often brings many useful facts and much experience to discussions.
If he is wrong here, it might be more in observed sentiment than in point of logic.
Perhaps it could be said that an economy moving towards greater dependance on intermitent renewable energy production, like California, isn't putting itself in the best position if it withholds payment to suppliers and customers it may depend upon for future success.

The Ugly American was a book that came out in 1958, and I read it in college about 10 years later. It was all about the opportunism, incompetence, and deceit that characterized American foreign policy at the time - and still does. Unfortunately the American government failed to take any constructive hints from the book, continued on in its deceitful and incompetent ways, and the result was the Vietnam War.

The US politicians didn't know a lot of things about Vietnam that they should have known when they went into the war. One thing that missed their attention was that China and Vietnam were ancient enemies. Another was that Ho Chi Minh was basing his strategy on the American Revolution and his legal system on the American Constitution - he was using the US as a role model. A third was that the top Vietnamese generals were true military geniuses (while most the American generals were incompetent.)

These are important things to know about the enemy if you are going to war - with a little finessing of the political negotiations the US could have achieved most of its objectives without any bloodshed. Unfortunately, American politicians understood neither the language, nor the culture, nor the politics of Vietnam.

In going into Vietnam, the US was just taking over a French colonial war against the Vietnamese that the French were losing. France was trying to reclaim the colonial empire it had lost in WWII, and it wasn't working in the face of national rebellions. The remaining European colonies in Africa and Asia were going down, one by one, and Vietnam was one of the last to go. If Americans had known that (and the vast majority still don't) they would have been much less keen on the war.

When California calls again, BC Hydro should demand payment in advance including the unpaid half of the old bill with interest.

Thankfully, quite a few MW of solar and wind generation capacity has been installed in CA since the time of Enron.

Not sure if those additional MWs will be enough to prevent any power crises, but I truly hope it will help.

On 'good days' I see the renewable fraction of power generation be over 10% lately, via CAISO ( http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx ), and peak solar is also lately about 1.8 GW.

(I'd welcome any other links that track CA power consumption/production as well.)

And all that solar on the CAISO page doesn't include distributed solar installed over the last couple years - that's another GW or so of capacity that simply shows up as reduced load.

If you look back at some of the historical data on the CAISO renewables watch site, it certainly looks like the middle of the day could be missing a GW or so of demand.

Unfortunately, most solar is installed to maximize annual production when it would be more useful (at least in terms of matching demand) if it was geared more to bias towards the afternoon.

In summer months the peak demand is typically between 3-5pm, but your typical solar PV system is down about 25-50% from it's peak around solar noon which occurs around 1pm. By aiming panels west a bit you can shift this peak, though if you really aim them west (or install tracking) you can extend production out through 5pm which would make a big difference for these peak demand days.

Either way - maybe I should go look at expanding my solar system to help minimize demand - another 2.5 kW would eliminate all my usage...

The main thing is residential -or commercial/industrial/municipal rooftops are almost all fixed (not tracking) mounts. Many residential roofs are not oriented E/W so the best exposure is used. In my case it SW, but some may take SE in a similar situation.
For instance mine is just getting down to about 50% (nearly 6PM).

Actually my rule of thumb for solar is 15/30/55; rough percentages for residential/commercial/utility scale. Most commercial is flat or only slightly tilted. The high school about a mile from here is completing a few hundred KW of PV parking, and the tilt looks to be about 10degrees, and different parts of the lot have different orientations (I think they follow the direction of the existing lot).

CA rooftop solar just passed 1.5GWp.

California is the 48th state in terms of per capita energy consumption. I'm far less worried about California's ultimate ability to power itself than I am about its water supply which is quickly going to get very problematic. (However, lots of lawns around is a sure sign that no one is yet taking water issues seriously.)

As to power, if California really got serious about electricity production and consumption, the state could be self-sufficient in a matter of years. It's all about choices and will. For instance, the state (via the utility companies) could say any power block in Southern California that generates 75% of its own electricity between the hours of 2pm and 6pm (peak times for the the Southern California Edison utility) during the summer months would be guaranteed not to have rotating power outages. There is a lot of wealth in Southern California. Not evenly distributed of course, but certainly enough that many neighborhoods/communities could be self sufficient in electricity in a matter of months if given proper motivation.

A concurrent program could be a second refrigerator/old refrigerator pick up in May and June. Go neighborhood by neighborhood (give each their own day),and give anyone who puts out a refrigerator on the curb $100 off their July utility bill. (There is currently a refrigerator pick up rebate, but it's not large and it doesn't get much publicity. It is estimated 1/4th of all US households have an old second refrigerator in the garage gobbling energy keeping a six pack of beer or soda cold.)

Another program could be to install ceiling fans and whole house fans in people's homes at reduced rates. And then set the top tier rate kilowatt very high (over 50 cents a kilowatt-hour) so people really have an incentive to keep their usage in the lower tiers. (There are currently very small rebates for whole house fans and most people can't install them themselves. There are no rebates for ceiling fans, and yet they can lower air conditioning consumption considerably.) Also give businesses/stores financial incentives to use fans to reduce air conditioning load and use covered rather than open freezers and refrigerators. (And give them very high top tier kilowatt rates as well.)

Theses kind of pressures on the electricity supply are why I don't think EVs can replace much of the current ICE vehicle miles traveled (more than 10%?) any time soon. There will be enough trouble meeting current electricity demand as it is.

There are lots of things that can be done to reduce AC demand, but aren't. Most of the California AC demand is driven by direct solar heating -of walls, roofs and through windows. All of these can be attacked by smarter color selection, provision of shade, adding rolldown sunscreens etc. Much of this could be DIY on the cheap. Since I've been at it, my average mid July demand went from 38KWhour/day to 17. The most effective means is drawing in cold night air to precool the house. Whole house fans is one way to do it. Simply using window fans and going for as much coolth as you can goes a long way.

Yeah, depending on where you live, a whole house fan can do a lot. Just turn it on at night and cool down your house real cool with that air coming off the ocean. Then close the windows and you can keep the place reasonably cool for most of the day.

I never bought into the whole house fan. I am downwind of Mt Diablo, and that cooling delta breeze for us is a hot downslope wind. A whole house fan is useless if its still 85F at midnight.

Yeah, it really depends on your local microclimate. I'm on the Peninsula and shortly after sundown, it cools off fast. I'm lucky in that I rarely ever need AC. All I have is a cheap window AC that I maybe use 5 days a year. As long as I have decent insulation and use the whole-house fan properly, the AC is just not needed.

I don't think I could live in the central valley . . . that place is just too hot for me. But I'm Scandinavian so maybe its just not in my genes.

I used to live in Concord on Lower Lime Ridge, north of Mt.Diablo. We installed a ventilating skylight (screened, with no fan). Every night I would open the windows and the skylight; withing a half hour the house was cool, and stayed that way through the night! It was wonderful!

We needed sweaters or light jackets there most Summer nights.


taomom, my top tier was $0.52 per kWh last August, and I live in Scotts Valley, CA, so we already have over fifty cent rates. I am now in the process of installing a heat-pump on my hot water heater. This should save me about 40 kWh a month, and get me out of the top tier.

On car charging there is not any real problems, just theoretical problems. I have one neighbor who has a new Leaf. She just plugs it into a standard 15Amp receptacle when she gets home. It starts charging when the rates go down, and its almost always fully charged by morning.Yes in theory it should take 10 hours to charge, but that is from a fully discharged battery, and she never lets it get so low as to need a full charge.

Don't forget lobbying home owners associations to allow air drying of laundry (turn off those electric driers!)

Re: Take Heart from the Abolition Movement

One thing about making comparisons of history is that, while obviously it's good to learn from historical successes and mistakes, it is misleading if the present rests on a far different ground to the past. Slavery was a losing business proposition for the United States. Much of Europe had already abolished it. The free worker was simply better, and it was only in the interest of a class of slave owners that it be kept. What are the slave owners of the present age? The fossil fuel industry? They are the Bad Guys who are the only thing holding back the world from being sustainable? Somehow, I don't think it's all that easy.

The vast majority of people today live in an economic system called capitalism, and are dependent on wage labour. This is a pretty simple fact, but it's in a way far from obvious - their ancestors were not. In any event, for most people, there seems to be no alternative to this arrangement - to turn a popular phrase on the head, money is everything. The analogy to slavery seems to be halting here, it is rather a more advanced slavery with no clear pretenders.

Yet, there seems to be obvious splinters in the wall. Capitalism is dependent on economic growth - to the people I've made this statement to, just about everyone who defends such a system agrees with this fact, but that this growth should somehow go on. In a finite world, that seems very problematic.

Perhaps they'll go with the direct route and deny that the world is truly approaching its limits - the oil is much more plentiful than it seems to be, or the renewable energy sources much better than they appear to be. Perhaps they'll deny that economic growth has to affect anything. Particularly in the Anglosaxon world, the idea of the postindustrial society is strong. In more crass terms, however, it is not postindustrial as much as it is deindustralised, debt levels, both public and private, ballooning. To go on to say that less energy is embedded in every GDP in such a situation is of course nothing but obscene.

Perhaps they have some sort of intellectual honesty in their spine and simply conclude that's that and the demands of the economic system (or "what the people want" or whatever they want to call it) is going to go on until everything is dead. And that it seems to be all there is to it. Either we can hope for a better slavery that can somehow transcend its internal or external obstacles, or we'll still have slavery no matter how bad it is. It's slavery forever. To quote a certain Slovenian philosopher: "It’s easy to imagine the end of the world — an asteroid destroying all of life, and so on — but we cannot imagine the end of capitalism."

The "abolitionists" of today do not desire the end of slavery, they do not in fact seem to understood what slavery is, and want to go from Slavery A to Slavery B. Or they are not abolitionists at all, but believe in the infinity of slavery. I wonder if we can't get rid of slavery after all, or if it doesn't just go away on its own.

Well, as far as energy usage reduction goes, bringing up the abolition movement is odd. It is the usage of machinery (powered by fossil fuels) that helped make the transition away from slavery easier.

And now people want to take our nice cheap energy away? That is not an easy sell. Not easy at all. So the only way you can get people to do it is to raise prices (either by taxes or secular price rises), subsidize the renewables, or provide cheap easy ways to reduce power usage (LEDs, LCDs, etc.). But people are just not going to give up their creatures comforts voluntarily.

Just the same, both transitions were about changing power sources.. neither will have been particularly easy or palatable for those most deeply invested in the system, financially OR emotionally. However 'easy' the Slave transition might seem today because of the advent of the industrial revolution, it should be easy enough to recall just how wretched that first shift (typo was 'Shaft' ..) really was.

It is the usage of machinery (powered by fossil fuels) that helped make the transition away from slavery easier.

Actually, it made it harder. Slavery was used mostly for cotton picking, and cotton wasn't very economic until the powered cotton gin was invented.

Interesting that the Mpls-St.Paul Star Tribune does not mention that Doer is NDP - technically a "small s" socialist. The more lefty St. Paul Pioneer Press (who I preferred) does not even mention Gary's speech via a search of their web site. Boston and MN Viking news must have bumped it off. The Manitoba Crown corporation that was the phone company was spun off by his Conservative predecessor, however Manitoba Hydro merged with Winnipeg Hydro under Doer and is still most assuredly a crown corporation selling boatloads of socialized electricity to Minnesota and Xcel Energy and is poised through long term contracts to sell even more to Xcel. (Note there is a difference via the "ce" - the one is a corporation, the shorter one a project between the Transcanada and Conoco corporations)

So sad to see Mr. Doer go from being a thoughtful longer term future leader to being a kept man for the Conservatives. Over all, he probably does believe there is benefits for Canada via the Transcanada XL pipeline - he is very much a believer in unions and unions construction of infrastructure - however he is totally muted about all sorts of other things that the Harper administration does.

Meanwhile the Red Rivers ice melts up here in Manitoba with a whimper, but boatloads of water via very late snow from Minnesota and NoDak is on the way to be churned into electricity to go back to Minnesota. We might possibly see the latest Red River crest here since 1826, welcome to weird weather.

So the Red River flood is good for you. Upstream Fargo and Grand Rapids are gonna get clobbered.

Winnipeg has the Red River Floodway to divert floodwaters around the city. It was viewed as a tremendous waste of money when it was first built and was known pejoratively nicknamed "Duff's Ditch" by opponents, after Premier Duff Roblin.

At the time, the project was the second largest earth-moving project in the world – next only to the construction of the Panama Canal. The total cost at the time was $63 Million (CAD), equivalent to approximately $360 million today.

After the first big flood it became viewed more as really brilliant planning than a waste of money.

Used more than 20 times from its completion in 1968 to 2006, the Floodway has prevented an estimated $10 billion (CAD) in cumulative flood damages. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2000, as the floodway is an outstanding engineering achievement both in terms of function and impact.

Interestingly, I got a letter just yesterday from a friend in Fargo:

Surprisingly, after enduring flood for well over a century, Fargo finally awakened to the fact that the Red River will flood. After the 2009 flood, the City Fathers got serious about permanent flood protection. In addition to clearing out homes built where dikes should be, they proposed a diversion channel, much like the one that protects Winnipeg. The project got the approval of the Corps of Engineers and Fargo residents approved a sales tax to help pay for the diversion. All seem to be going well until the North Dakota legislature stepped in, passing legislation that effectively kills the project. Of course, the prevailing notion in Bismarck is that the earth is flat, global warming is a Muslim plot, women should be barefoot and pregnant, and every school child should be licensed to carry a firearm.

Very true about the Bismarck legislature. Also possibly contributing is their animus towards BBVF (Big Butt Valley Farmers) and the fact that some of the flood protection might help Moorhead, MN.

It wasn't uncommon for North American refrigerators back in the '70s to scarf-down 2,000 kWh a year. Anyone remember the electric heaters in their butter compartments? [And, no, kids, I'm not making this up.]

At the other end of the spectrum, the Bosch KGE39AI40 is rated at 156 kWh/year, or a miserly 13 kWh a month (available in European markets only).

See: http://www.bosch-home.com/de/produkte/k%C3%BChlen-und-gefrieren/k%C3%BCh... (German)

The best (mainstream) North American models currently use between 300 and 350 kWh a year, so there's definitely further room for improvement. I believe to earn an EnergyStar rating, refrigerators sold in 2014 must use 25 per cent less energy than what had been specified under the previous standard.


And it's not just the big higher-end models like the Bosch that are ahead. Just last week, I bought a new Electrolux (EJ2300), 184 litres fridge, 44 l freezer, rated 168 kWh/year. Cost 220 euros.

A couple of years ago I found the following web site:


It's a UK based web site that allows you to compare the energy consumption of different classes of appliances and ranks them with the best efficiency at the top of the page. I have found it extremely useful for getting a handle on how efficient appliances can be. If this sort of site were to become the "go to" site for consumers in the market for new appliances, I'm sure no appliance manufacturer would want to be at the bottom. They would be anxious to advertise "best in class" energy efficiency but, alas.

Alan from the islands

Having a quick look, the Bosch fridges for sale in Canada range from 529 - 545 kWh per year. This says something - something not too positive - about the importance of energy efficiency here. I'm sure you've seen it all.

There really is no valid reason for Canada not to have its entire electric supply based on renewable energy. Something like 63% of the electric supply comes from hydroelectric alone. Efficiency could reduce our consumption by 37% - we are so wasteful that that target must be a lot easier than in many other parts of the world.

This would leave our transport sector still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. But that's where new renewables come in, further efficiency gains, intelligent infill TOD/transit oriented redevelopment (as opposed to the awful ex-urban sprawl that is everywhere). The toughest barrier in the medium to long term will be our assumptions about endless physical growth... But in the near term we have so much hydro that we could manage quite a substantial amount of intermittent supply (wind, solar), and still export power to the States.

I know I've vastly simplified things (e.g. not looking at electricity on a region by region basis), and that I'm preaching to the choir.

On a separate note, does anyone have any recommendations for LED downlights? My sister's house has a ton of halogen downlights, six or more to a switch. My folks have some of those, and six inch incandescent downlights too. Plus I'm always making efficiency suggestions to people, if they show even the slightest interest :-)

I've come across TCP LEDs.

Here's a Canadian online supplier's TCP page... http://www.ledsplus.com/par20-led-bulbs-s/71.htm

In eastern Canada, at least, they are also available at Lumen and Torbram Electric Supply. Lumen also has Phillips EnduraLED's which Paul (HereInHalifax)is partial too. These are commercial grade bulbs. You can get less expensive Phillips residential LED's at Home Despot, other big box stores will have different brand names.

You can also get replacement fixtures instead of just replacing the bulbs.

Our refrigerators are eleven years old and were pretty much best-in-class back in their day. Their EnerGuide rating pegs their usage at 472 kWh a year; however, my own tests suggest their actual requirements are more in the order of 347 kWh/year.

As I understand it, these energy ratings assume an ambient operating temperature of 32°C/90°F. That might be a reasonable number if you live in hot climate without air conditioning, but for most of us, average room temperature through the course of the year is probably closer to 20°C/68°F, and so this no doubt accounts for much of the difference.

BTW, our Bosch dishwasher (also circa 2002) has an EnerGuide rating of 556 kWh/year, and if I were to replace it with a current generation Bosch, we'd be looking at 180 kWh/year. That's a three-fold improvement in energy performance in just eleven years.


I am geeky enough, and get bored/curious enough, that I used a kill-a-watt meter to measure lots of my home's stuff.

Fridge in 2008, 2kwh/day.

( http://mrflash818.livejournal.com/tag/kill%20a%20watt )

I think having a kill-a-watt (or equivalent) are worth the US$25 or so to purchase (or borrow from a geek friend), and see how much power your electronics and appliances consume.

A $30 Billion Hole In Caspian Sea?

Kashagan is an example of the challenges energy companies face in a world where the easy oil has already been pumped. To find big new fossil-fuel deposits, companies must look in places that are remote, technically challenging or politically thorny. In Kashagan, cold weather, difficult supply routes and friction with government officials have contributed to the lag time.

All the easy oil is gone, or soon will be. All that is left now is the very expensive and very difficult to extract stuff. And most of that also has an extremely high decline rate.

Peak oil is still around.

Ron P.

Regarding the Kashagan field, the joke has been to rename it "Cash is gone".

Yesterday I alluded to a tangled web of influential, moneyed interests that has the potential to influence government policy in my island nation. All the stories I'm going to link to are from The Jamaica Observer, owned by Gordon 'Butch' Stewart.

ATL Automotive introduces state-of-the-art showroom

Chairman of the ATL Group, Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, speaking from ATL's Half-Way-Tree-Road headquarters in Kingston said: " This year we celebrate 45 years since we were founded and we continue to invest in Jamaica and believe in the Jamaican economy. These showrooms stand as our commitment to providing the best care for Jamaican motorists and will be the best place to work for local motor vehicle technicians. We continue to see a fantastic future for Jamaica and this forms the basis for our continuing investments."

A look at the Facebook page for the dealership shows, in addition to lots of pictures in a "behind the scenes preview of our Official Opening Ceremony!", a flashback to the ground-breaking ceremony in January 2018. Included in the pictures of the ground-breaking ceremony is one showing the owner of the business flanked by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance (equivalent of having the US President the Treasury Secretary at a ground-breaking ceremony)!

Flashback to last year January 18, 2012 when the Official Groundbreaking Ceremony for both showrooms occurred. Today we will be having the Official Opening Ceremony.

So a big business interest that has good relationships with the highest level of political leadership in the island, has just completed a US$13 million investment in the maintenance of BAU. A very big investment for a small island. As I said in a post yesterday, any attempts to suggest anything other than the increased private ownership and use of motor cars is going to be met with stiff opposition.

In a somewhat strange twist this same newspaper had a story on Wednesday:

Solar power boom

WITH electricity rates at an all time high in Jamaica, the domestic solar energy market appears to be gaining momentum.

"The last year has been fantastic, and the reason for that is that finally we are getting more and more of an environment where people see energy prices going up and don't see anything changing very rapidly," said Maikel Oerbekke, principal of Renewable Energy Developers (RED), a Montego Bay-based company that develops and implements solar energy projects primarily for commercial clients.

Also on Wednesday:

ATL expands into alternative energy

APPLIANCE Traders Limited (ATL) has expanded into the alternative energy business.

ATL Energy Solutions will add solar water heaters, photovoltaic panels and other devices for revewable power to the appliance retailers energy-efficient product line.

So, Stewart is getting involved in the alternative energy business as well! I'm inclined to believe that he is not convinced about Peak anything and is more just making sure that if the market heats up, he is in. If he were Peak Aware, I would think he would be more inclined to follow the lead of these people:

Wigton to add 62% more wind power

Wigton Windfarm Limited's (WWFL) plans to start expansion this year.

WWFL projects that it will generate additional energy of 63 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year from an extra capacity of 24 megawatts (MW) by 2015....[snip]

Electricity produced from wind energy is sold to the Jamaica Public Service under a power-purchase-agreement and is projected to generate revenues of J$1.1 billion this fiscal year, or J$7 million less than the last year.

In another post in Wednesday's DB, I indicated that only 7.2 sq miles (18.7 km²) of solar PV could harvest all of Jamaica's 2009 electricity needs!

Interesting times ahead!

Alan from the islands

Your post demonstrates something interesting - if solar is to succeed under the current system, it has to get all the dirty, corrupt people who are only out to make a buck to invest heavily in it.

So, weasels selling solar is actually a good sign.

Hold on there! Are you implying that the man who "has been called one of Jamaica's most-admired businessmen" is dirty and corrupt? Some would say the man, who "has also been called one of Britain's wealthiest men" is just a shrewd businessman who knows how to get things done in the environment in which he operates. There are those who question how a self confessed beach bum turned salesman, acquired enough capital to start his own appliance retail business at the age of 26 but, in a place like Jamaica, those with ill gotten gains tend to point to other wealthy people and imply that "they did it too". Of course this is all sort of "word in the streets", IOW unsubstantiated rumours.

You have a point though. This individual, who is held up as an example of the consummate businessman and "is considered by some to be Jamaica's most powerful man", could actually move the market for solar. If for example he were to start agitating for Net Metering instead of Net Billing, he could easily get the ear of the Prime Minister. If he were to push for the opening up of the electricity generation market, with an emphasis on renewables, modeled on the German Law for Renewable Energy Prioritisation enacted in 2000, he could make a real difference. Since the article at the last link described him as "Jamaica's answer to Britain's Richard Branson" maybe he should hang out with Branson a little so that Branson's Peak Oil awareness can rub off on him!

For any one interested, the three web pages I linked to make up a pretty good bio of this individual.

Alan from the islands

Well, his resume is glowy enough, perhaps I jumped to conclusions. It does seem a smart move to sell A/C in the tropics, I have to admit... Perhaps he is just a really savvy businessman.

Yup. Here's another newspaper article about the ATL Group's energy play:

ATL to launch first eco-store for appliances

Appliance Traders Limited has created a new division in the company as it steps up plans to corner a larger market share in the alternative energy sector in which just 25 discrete companies operate.

Paul Grey, ATL's energy and engineering manager, says the alternative market is currently valued at US$20 million and has a lot of room for growth. Its rivals in the market include players such as Isratech Jamaica, FosRich Company Limited, Iree Solar, among others.

I have a bit of a problem with all of this PR and marketing bearing in mind that, when I visited their booth at the recently concluded alternative energy expo here, nobody in their booth could tell me what the estimated energy consumption was for the energy efficient "inverter" fridge they had on display!

All the same, before manufacturers and sellers of appliances take energy efficiency seriously, consumers will have to ask about energy consumption a lot more than they do now, which is like, never. Every appliance I have bought over the past five years except one, has been the most energy efficient of it's kind I could find.

Alan from the islands

Does anyone here know of a good source on the link between famine and revolutions? I've googled a bit and can't find much for the general case. The Wikipedia article on revolutions doesn't even contain the words 'food', 'hunger' or 'famine', so no help there. From the top of my head, I know famine was a factor in the Arab spring, russia 1917, the french revolution. Anyone else have interesting cases or insight?

Anyone else have interesting cases or insight?

Not personally.

You might want to ask some of the researchers at NECSI, they are studying precisely what you are asking about...


NECSI is researching the issue.

NECSI seem to provide very useful analysis in a number of areas.
Thanks Gail

The MI5 maxim was always that society is “four meals away from anarchy”.

I've seen that same quote attributed to various agencies around the world since, and with a different number in the frame (the statement was that less stable, less British, parts of the world would have a lower number, usually 3). I've also seen it with "9 meals" - but that's not what I remember being told.

Very high correlation IMO. There are a lot of examples from my country during the British era. There are examples from after independence as well.


Every 48 years, a cyclic ecological phenomenon called Mautam leads to widespread famine in this region. When such a famine started in 1959, the Mizos were left disappointed by the Assam Government's handling of the situation.

The thing is that once there is a revolution it is swept up in revolutionary narrative because no one wants to acknowledge that they revolted because they were hungry so it's usually very hard to directly associate the cause.

Also a famine is merely a trigger, there has to be a underlying cause.

Also a famine is merely a trigger, there has to be a underlying cause

Isn't having a government the underlying cause? Most people do not understand why government is needed until they have a crisis. For example, the people of Boston today understand why they have a Police Department. And, it is not there to harrass marijuana users and the like, or to dictate to people whom they may marry or engage in obscene acts.

Administrators tend to become dictators when granted sufficient power; they then view the same department as in place to enforce their omniscient dicates - also wrong.

In reality government, and the PD are there to deal with the bad guys and bullies, e.g., to protect 'the people.' From such things as greedy food manufactures who would shortcut healty processes to make more money; greedy power providers who would gouge their customers in providing essential services; hm... greedy seems to be a common denominator here.

So, governments are expected to police greed, prevent violent crime against its citizens (including invasion or exploitation from or by greedy foreign people). Our Constitution says it well, in its preamble, that our government is expected to:

... establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity ..

When government fails to do that, then it won't take many missed meals before some sort of civil disorder follows.


One has to wonder if this was another Eff Bee Eye entrapment ploy gone awry and out of their control. Dog knows there have been enough of them.

Boston bombing suspect was under FBI surveillance, says mother
'They told me my son was an extremist leader,' says Zubeidat Tsarnaeva


This is one of the problems with law enforcement, that unless there's something to arrest someone for they can't, i.e. until the person does soemthing illegal. In regards to suspects having associated inclinations to possibly cause terrorism, maybe the law should allow for random search and seizure. At least that way if they are compiling bombs and weapons they are more likely to get caught with them prior to an act of mayhem. I'm not for unlawful search & seizure, but in the case of people that may cause terrorist acts, the litmus test should not be whether or not they do them, because once done there is an immense amount of damage.

The law against search and seizure w/o warrant can be violated, and the consequence is normally (assuming, with no real reason, a peaceful seizure)merely that the evidence collected cannot be later use against the defendant. Of course it also makes later prosecution more difficult since the defendant will argue that the illegal search was the only reason they had to suspect her, etc. Realizing that, however, at least they have removed bomb making materials from a person suspected of wanting to make a bomb.

Whether in this case they encouraged someone to commit a crime and it had bad consequences is truly conjecture. I doubt the FBI would EVER admit it if they had; perhaps if Dzsohar is tried and speaks out we may have some idea, but it would be 'he said, she said' testimony and the prosecutor would argue it self serving.

So we are left with our opinions and feelings unchanged for the most part. Like the truth about JFKs asassination, the Rosenbergs in the early 50's, and so many other mysteries, we will never know the truth. And worse, if we learned the truth we would not believe it if it was not what we already believed.

Still, I am rather enamored of the idea of personal freedoms, including especially to be free from unreasonable search.


"at least they have removed bomb making materials"

Since pressure cookers are now classified as bomb-makding materials, I think your list of bomb making material is going to be be pretty long. Any random piece of pipe is a bomb making material. Lawn fertilizer is a bomb making material. Sulfur? Might be a bomb making material. Certainly if you have both sulfur and charcoal you would be in trouble.

Humans can make anything into a weapon. Just watch a Jackie Chan movie. And the politicians can't even come up with a reasonable definition of 'assault weapon'. (The military has good definition, but nothing sold to civilians qualifies.) How the heck are they going to come up with a useable definition of "bomb making materials"?

By the way, what's Latin for Weapon? Homo Sapiens might have been better called Home Weaponus or whatever the correct equivalent might be.

"And the politicians can't even come up with a reasonable definition of 'assault weapon'."

Perhaps one of the saddest things not to be mentioned to tie this together is that if these two had smuggled in some folding-stock AK47's or AR15's the body count would have been muuuuuch higher. AK47's can easily be converted to fully automatic. Those rapid-fire .223/7.06 weapons are super dangerous.

Its always a tradeoff between perceived safety and freedom/fairness. If we start treating members of certain ethnic groups like terrorist suspects, that action in itself could be just the sort of trigger needed to set off the next Dzsohar. But it would also be an abridgment of all of our freedom. Total human damage from this incident was actually pretty small in the grand scheme of things (like one bad bus accident), we ought to be able to live with something like this every few years. We live with 30,000 gun deaths per year (counting 19,000 suicides), and don't think that even warrants background checks, but a handful of victims every few years to something that smacks of Islamic terror just completely sets us off. Go figure.......

I can't believe the media attention Boston is getting. Even on Al Jazeera. Bombings in foreign brownskinned parts of the world are dime a dozen, and body counts of a score or more are not rare -but Boston gets most of the attention (even in far off places like Russia). I think it is our medias overblown and overemotional coverage of such events which has fueled our national paranoia.

but in the case of people that may cause terrorist acts

yes this was the policy in soviet union: the suspicion was enough
to carry out whatever measures the authorities considered appropriate.

suspicion was enough
to carry out whatever measures the authorities considered appropriate.

And it made the highest official safer. Not so much for everyone else though.

This is one of the problems with law enforcement, that unless there's something to arrest someone for they can't, i.e. until the person does soemthing illegal.

You really consider this is a problem?!

Ok, I admit I get where you are coming from, but consider the flip side... About 1.2 million Chechens didn't blow anyone up today and probably never will! To be clear I'm not trying to pick on any nationality or ethnic group.

My point is it's easy to start sliding down a very slippery slope from where you seem to be standing.
A certain European country during the 1930's comes to mind.

We've been halfway down that slippery slope for a decade now. Its led to torture, and indefinite detention -even though we know many of those held are innocent. Its led to (aggressive?) wars of choice that have killed over a hundred thousand and cost us a few $Trillion bucks. And we are still sliding.....

Seeing a city locked down for a teenager was surreal. There was definitely an attempt at hyping up the issue, and seeing the celebrations was even more so. I'd say that the terrorists accomplished their mission, they terrorized the whole city into submission.

Yes, the truly amazing thing was how readily everybody bought into the circus.
Seemingly no concerns about how rapidly the entire city was turned into a military encampment.
Having grown up in London during the height of the I.R.A. campaigns it felt totally OTT, as, almost immediately it became apparent that these devices were essentially large pipe bombs.
And, I don't say this not as an unaffected voyeur: my wife would have been standing at the finish line at exactly the wrong time had she not bumped into friends and been delayed. She wound up running for, as far as she knew, her life. That's why the thought of certain authorities playing Russian roulette with public safety, aiding and abetting people they know to be dangerous, highly aggravating.

This study got a lot of press even in mainstream media in 2011:

The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East
Marco Lagi, Karla Z. Bertrand, Yaneer Bar-Yam


Thanks all for the links. Interesting stuff; I'm off to read...

Hi bv,

I have a slightly different take than some of the responses you have received. I think there are 2 different things we are talking about here that sound almost the same and this confuses the discussion.

One is civil unrest caused by a jump in food prices and a great example is the Arab Spring protests. The protests were a result of a big jump in global commodity prices that, when passed on to the populace in a number of countries, they were unable to pay for. This situation has occurred many times in the past and is likely again in the relatively near future as it will be a significant possibility almost every year from now on. However, there is no famine in this circumstance but rather the threat of eventual famine.

The other is the presence of actual famine where people in a region as a whole are malnourished and significant numbers are dying or death is not far away baring relief efforts from outside. Before modern times this type of famine was known throughout the world and was a frequent check on local population levels. My reading of history would lead me to the conclusion that, in the vast majority of these type of situations, there was no large scale civil unrest or revolutions. Part of the reason being that in a wide spread famine situation there is basically no recourse for the populace as most everyone is in the same boat so to speak. An additional factor is that the debilitating aspects of severe malnutrition and famine sap the energy from the populace that would be required to forment revolution or civil unrest.

If there is no food and you are starving to death in Egypt bringing down the government is not going to solve your problem. on the other hand, if there is food but you can't afford that food at government prices there is time and incentive to change the situation.


My reading of history would lead me to the conclusion that, in the vast majority of these type of situations, there was no large scale civil unrest or revolutions.

How about the French and Russian revolutions were they just exceptions to the rule?

These problems were all compounded by a great scarcity of food in the 1780s. A series of crop failures caused a shortage of grain, consequently raising the price of bread. Because bread was the main source of nutrition for poor peasants, this led to starvation. Contributing to the peasant unrest were conspiracy theories that the lack of food was a deliberate plot by the nobility.[21] The two years prior to the revolution (1788–89) saw meager harvests and harsh winters, possibly because of a strong El Niño cycle [22] caused by the 1783 Laki eruption in Iceland.[23]...

...In 1789, a normal worker, a farmer or a laborer, earned anywhere from fifteen to thirty sous per day; skilled workers received thirty to forty. A family of four needed about two loaves of bread a day to survive. The price of a loaf of bread rose by 67 percent in 1789 alone, from nine sous to fifteen.[citation needed] Many peasants were relying on charity to survive, and they became increasingly motivated by their hunger. The "bread riots" were the first manifestations of a roots-based revolutionary sentiment. Mass urbanization coincided with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and more and more people moved into French cities seeking employment. The cities became overcrowded with the hungry, destitute, and disaffected, an ideal environment for revolution.
Source Wikipedia

Starvation has been used at times as a tool of continued oppression I think. The advantage goes to the well fed soldiers. Perhaps when the object of rule is not the well being of the local population, but access to the resource they live on top of, eg conflict diamonds, interfering with delivery of food and aid could make perfect psychopathic sense. eg Kim Jong-un of N. Korea, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe(People smile a lot in Zimbabwe - remember that ad campaign? And if they don't...).
Starvation has not slowed down the acquisition of wealth or destabilized the rule of either of these flagrant sociopaths so far as I can gather...

An off topic but related note ( Rockman would appreciate this- but it helps to be of the sort of work background as he ) - A friend of mine, many years ago, worked for a South African diamond dredging operation in Zimbabwe - part of the deal was 20% of the rough diamonds be paid directly to Mugabe's daughter. She was in her fifties at the time, and similar in nature to Mugabe himself. She would stop by the compound once a week to pick up the diamonds - it was a remote location, she would often stay overnight before leaving - she liked to hit on the young South African diamond divers, they were afraid to say no to her. With good reason, for the divers felt she was as murderous and sociopathic as her father. If only the public knew what was involved in obtaining the resources they use. Me, I have no need for African diamonds, tropical hardwoods, South American emeralds or gold, or anything made in North Korea, if I had a way of finding out what is made there.

edited to complete a sentence

Starvation has been used at times as a tool of continued oppression

You mean like Gaza?
Its also been used as a weapon of war. Think sieges of cities -starve them out. In Roman times the Romans laid siege to a city, the defenders expelled women and children because they require food..... The German homefront collapse that forced them to surrender in world war one, was mainly about starving civilians.

For whoever is interested it this.
Kjell Aleklett performing a self-composed Polska.


Apparently this was supposed to be music for a Peak Oil documentary that never was completed.

Polska is an older dance style from Sweden.

Can a society that behaves like a cancer, screaming continuously for more growth within the system from which it emerged and creating cumulative damage within it, be said to be of a moral nature? Is pancreatic cancer within a human body a moral entity? Can’t humans just dispense with reciprocal morality within their societies when the end result of such morality is systematic and coordinated cancerous growth and self-destruction? The capitalist cancer cannot be convinced of the necessity of inhibiting its own growth or making any particular area off-limits to economic “development”. Now that the ice is almost gone, the cancer moves inexorably towards the Arctic to eat and foul whatever can be had. And just as a Muslim terrorist bomber prays for deliverance and eternal rewards prior to committing their immoral act, we too travel to our local house of worship to pray for deliverance and corporeal reward as our metastatic tendrils reach halfway across the globe in search of nourishment to feed our insatiable hunger, all the while advancing the disease state of the ecosystem. The potentates and want-to-be rich of the world, which includes most everyone, use this cancerous growth to extract fleeting hierarchical dominance and maximum dopamine by various consumptive acts. That the dust of their impermanent bodies will soon blow amongst the rust and ruins of a desert created by their technological eating machine is obscured by the dominance of their primitive limbic systems that motivate both rodent and tycoon.

An eloquent and visionary way of looking at existence. However I can make apple pie sound like a pile of turd with some flowery long words also but at the end of the day we are just all living our lives, eating, having fun and 'being'.



Asheville Should Try to Attract Green Tourists

Tim Ballard, the institute’s program director, said it’s clear that many travelers prefer green options. That, in turn, has resulted in “green travel” programs around the U.S. Most of the programs focus on environmentally friendly aspects of specific businesses, according to Ballard.

Few focus on a green brand for the destination itself, he said, and none has created a full experience based on environmental responsibility or sustainability.

“This creates a significant opportunity for some U.S. city to set itself apart, especially in the Southeast U.S.,” Ballard wrote in an email to me.
Electric vehicles: Asheville is strategically positioned to become the nation’s first solar-fueled vehicle travel destination thanks to work already begun by Brightfield Transportation Solutions, which is spearheading an effort to build charging stations in the city and region.

O'Keefe: A tax on luxury, like energy
Also here: http://clearday.us/

If we want to wean ourselves off gasoline fuels, for example, the obvious way to do it is to make gasoline more expensive, and conservation easier and more rewarding. We just need a simple mechanism that will curtail our use of gasoline. Fortunately, there is one — an additional tax on gasoline that increases by 10 or 20 cents every year for a decade or so.

Every cent of the tax could be spent to reduce gas consumption. Let’s have a new-car rebate program to subsidize the purchase of high-efficiency cars. Funding for communities to build programs for shared commuting. A whole lot more carpooling, vanpooling, car-sharing, ride-sharing, trip boards, and the like.

The added tax would be a snap to implement, require little-to-no bureaucracy, provide a variety of opportunities to save on gas, become more effective each year, and give all of us a chance to slowly adjust to the needed change.

In the end it’s up to us. We can all sacrifice something now, or just kick the problems down the road for the grandkids to solve. Shouldn’t we have at least as much foresight and intestinal fortitude as the Lords of Baseball?

Innovations continue at Jackson County Green Energy Park

Timm Muth doesn’t necessarily intend to be a groundbreaker.

As the project director of the Jackson County Green Energy Park, he’s constantly developing more uses for methane gas leaking from a Dillsboro landfill.

Muth, an engineer by trade, is more like a mad scientist who never declines an experiment.

“Instead of saying no, we’ve got to try and see if it will work,” he said.

Project background

• To date, the project has prevented 888 tons of methane from entering the environment, which is the equivalent of removing 916 vehicles off the road and planting 1,305 acres of forest.
• The average gas flow for 40 cubic feet per minute. The energy park has 13 gas extraction wells.
• The project has created 10-20 new job opportunities, with continued turnover of artisans.
• The landfill closed in 1999, with roughly 750,000 tons of trash in place.
• Workers removed 550 tons (more than 1 million pounds) of trash and debris from the site.

Company invites public for solar power system tours

It feels great to be able to produce more energy than we consume,“ says Marcus Suess, president and owner of All-States Medical Supply. ”Not only does the environment benefit, but lowering our company expenses gives us another competitive advantage to keep us ahead of the game.”

Conservative Koch Brothers Turning Focus to Newspapers

Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant.

Politically the papers could serve as a broader platform for the Kochs’ laissez-faire ideas. The Los Angeles Times is the fourth-largest paper in the country, and The Tribune is No. 9, and others are in several battleground states, including two of the largest newspapers in Florida, The Orlando Sentinel and The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. A deal could include Hoy, the second-largest Spanish-language daily newspaper, which speaks to the pivotal Hispanic demographic.

Also, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has been openly flirting with Tribune Co. for months now about possibly buying the package of papers.

One person who has previously advised Koch Industries said the Tribune Company papers were considered an investment opportunity, and were viewed as entirely separate from Charles and David Kochs’ lifelong mission to shrink the size of government.

Seton Motley, president of Less Government, an organization devoted to shrinking the role of the government, said the 2012 presidential election reinforced the view that conservatives needed a broader media presence.

A running joke among conservatives as we watched the G.O.P. establishment spend $500 million on ineffectual TV ads is ‘Why don’t you just buy NBC?’ ” Mr. Motley said. “It’s good the Kochs are talking about fighting fire with a little fire.”

It’s a frightening scenario when a free press is actually a bought and paid-for press and it can happen on both sides,” said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

The Koch Brothers Wouldn't Mind Controlling the Medium and the Message

... the light that holds back the darkness is flickering.

With all respect, I think it will be hard for Darwinian to argue, after this news, that at least some medias do primarily have as a goal a line to follow and ideas to push forward before simply making money trying to please the audience.

Manmax, good God, do you think I ever argued such a thing? Of course many in the media do have a goal in mind. Fox news always had a primary goal in mind, the same goal as Rush Limbaugh. And MSNBC has liberal goals in mind. (Your statement was poorly worded however, you left out a critical "not", but we know what you were trying to say.)

Fox News, has a right wing agenda and their right wing agenda suits their audience just fine. They please their audience while pushing their agenda.

Ron P.

Please stop referring to these Koch brothers as "Conservative". I know lots of (european) conservatives, and most or all of them totally scorn their behaviour. These guys may pass as conservatives in the US but that's only because you guys have lost grip on reality. It actually makes me angry seeing them with that label put onto them. They don't deserve that label.

DOE to Push Development of Huge Potential Source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Many environmentalists are protesting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline because it would help facilitate the delivery of oil from Canada’s oil sands and, they argue, increase carbon dioxide emissions. They may have more reason to worry about what’s happening in Alaska. The state’s Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Energy to speed up production of natural gas from a resource—methane hydrate deposits–that’s far larger than the oil sands in Canada, and could in theory lead to far greater greenhouse gas emissions.

DOE Press Release: DOE Accord Seeks Accelerated Development of Alaska's Vast Unconventional Energy Resources

Development of potentially vast and important unconventional energy resources in Alaska – including viscous oil and methane hydrates – could be accelerated under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The Alaska North Slope has two of the largest conventional oil fields in North America (Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk) as well as several other smaller but still significant fields. The state also has significant unconventional petroleum and natural gas resources, including both viscous oil and methane hydrate deposits.

Alaska will “use its best efforts to resolve land access issues, arrange for the leasing of state land, and coordinate infrastructure, logistics, permitting and regulation where appropriate. These efforts will support “the assessment of unconventional energy resources” and “the field evaluation of potential production technologies” through scientific tests, and may involve “facilitating access to land within existing units, un-leased acreage and leased acreage on state lands.”

Calculating tsunami risk for the US East Coast

The greatest threat of a tsunami for the U.S. east coast from a nearby offshore earthquake stretches from the coast of New England to New Jersey, according to John Ebel of Boston College, who presented his findings today at the Seismological Society of America 2013 Annual Meeting.

The potential for an East Coast tsunami has come under greater scrutiny after a 2012 earthquake swarm that occurred offshore about 280 kilometers (170 miles) east of Boston. The largest earthquake in the 15-earthquake swarm, most of which occurred on April 12, 2012, was magnitude (M) 4.0.

In 2012 several other earthquakes were detected on the edge of the Atlantic continental shelf of North America, with magnitudes between 2 and 3.5. These quakes occurred off the coast of southern Newfoundland and south of Cape Cod, as well as in the area of the April swarm.

The setting for these earthquakes, at the edge of the continental shelf, is similar to that of the 1929 M7.3 Grand Banks earthquake, which triggered a 10-meter tsunami along southern Newfoundland and left tens of thousands of residents homeless.

Study: Boston, New England at Greatest Tsunami Risk in US

... seismologists believe the earthquake has to be powerful enough to cause what is known as a "submarine landslide," which pushes sediment off the continental shelf and into the deep ocean.

A number of studies have indicated that gas hydrates lie beneath many submarine slopes and can contribute to the triggering of a landslide.

Stormwave loading and hurricanes can also lead to submarine landslides in shallow regions and were recognised as one of the factors which contributed to the slides which occurred on the Mississippi delta in 1969 following Hurricane Camille.

An example of submarine cable damage was discovered in the Grand Banks slide of 1929 where the landslide and resulting turbidity current broke a series of submarine cables up to nearly 600 km away from the beginning of the slide. Further destruction of infrastructure occurred when Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi delta in 1969 causing a landslide which damaged several offshore drilling platforms


see also Storegga Slide and Bristol Channel floods, 1607

and Climate-changing methane 'rapidly destabilizing' off East Coast, study finds

Recent changes to the Gulf Stream causing widespread gas hydrate destabilization

NRC: Information Paper on the Viability of Entombment as a Decommissioning Option for Power Reactors

Purpose: To inform the Commission of the staff’s assessment of the viability of the entombment option for decommissioning power reactors.

... Conclusion: Entombment appears to be a viable decommissioning alternative for nuclear power reactors in that it protects public health and safety as defined by existing USNRC requirements. The key technical factor in determining that viability is the isolation assessment to determine the rates of release of the contained radionuclides from the enclosure and the dispersal of those radionuclides throughout the plant environs, with the accompanying radiation dose to the public or to an inadvertent intruder.

... Long-Term Enclosure Integrity - There is historical evidence that concrete structures covered with soil have remained intact for several thousand years. Using today’s materials and techniques, it appears that most containment structures would remain essentially intact and resistant to water intrusion for 500 years or more [Clifton, 1989; Walton, 1990]. Thus, the buried portion of the reactor containment structure should remain intact and reject water intrusion for a long time, barring some cataclysmic natural event such as an earthquake that exceeds the structural design basis or a nearby volcanic eruption. Even such an earthquake would be unlikely to create major breaches in the highly reinforced enclosure structure, but might result in some cracks sufficiently large to permit fluid flow into and out of the structure. In this situation, the release rate of radioactivity into the environment would be controlled by the dissolution rate of the radioactive materials in free-flowing water, [kinda like Fukushima]

...Corrosion Issues Related to Entombment of Nuclear Reactors ... The corrosion rate data for stainless steels and plain carbon steels in the soil and seawater environments considered here indicate that significant penetration rates are possible. Pit penetration rates are considerably higher than general attack rates for both classes of material.

- individual doses to persons who drill wells near the waste sites and who use the water for drinking and/or irrigation of small family farms can exceed existing drinking-water standards,

- the scenarios involving contact with or intrusion into the waste form or entombed structure indicate significant adverse consequences to those who ignore warnings and intrude into the wastes

Sweep it all under the carpet...