Weekend Open Thread...

keepin' it real...
Thanks for the open thread, PG. I do have a few things to say.

I think we (the US) are in deep shit right now. First off, I am thinking about NG prices this winter. I believe we are looking at a big tragedy there for people who can't pay their bills just to stay warm. Second, oil prices are going to sooner or later (this will be sooner - by 12/05) hit the roof (over $100/barrel) given the GOMEX shut-ins and the world-wide tight demand/supply situation. I think it is time for people to accept these realities. I think it is time to get really creative about how this (the US) society is going to go forward without major recession (also called depression). I think that people on this website (TOD) should address the issues in these terms - there is a (perhaps) small crash coming, we can't avoid it and what the HELL are we going to do about it?

NG prices are frightening, but there is at least one feasible approach if there is the political will: federal or state govts can subsidize heating fuel costs, as has been done in various programmes for a long time. In an unregulated market you can't control the price, but you can control what at least some vulnerable people pay. Most folks will just have to get by somehow. Don't forget, NG also fuels all of the peak capacity electric generation capacity, so it will bite there as well.

As for getting creative on how to avoid recession or worse: no flash ideas here. I think all the usual tools have already been used, and I'm not sure there is much ammunition left. There is an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus around: low interest rates (still), tax cuts in place, huge government spending, hurricane reconstruction efforts starting that will help offset the blows the storms dealt, even a war or two. If a downturn comes (and there has been a recession every time there has been a sharp run-up in oil prices), I'm not sure there is a lot of real action that can be taken except to hunker down.

To make it all worse, both the federal budget deficit and the trade deficit are totally out of control. In essence, both the government and the economy are borrowing enormous sums just to keep going. If this gets worse, and it looks like it will, the US dollar will have to fall, making the cost of all imports (both oil and Wal-mart varieties) rise, thereby fueling larger deficits. It could become a self-sustaining meltdown, like the Arctic.

I don't want the US economy to tank, but the fundamentals have been grossly mismanaged for a long time. I think 70's style stagflation may well reoccur, and I can't see a quick, easy, or creative way around it.

So, reading your remarks, Rick, I think you agree with me.

Ora Pro Nobis -- from the Latin meaning "pray for us".

cheers, Dave

A recession is neccessary, sorry.

A growing economy by definition requires more energy - its really that simple.

Therefore, unless the energy supply situation 2005 - 2006 improves dramatically, a recession will occur due to high energy prices, or will be forced to happen using high prices. There really is no other alternative.

Depending on how nit picky one gets about measuring small amounts of energy, in general, "energy" is not a necessary part of "The Economy"

One could have an economy where folks trade jokes and folk stories with one another.

Take a look at:

There are sectors of economic life where energy consumption decreases with growth. Take for example, the transition in the electronics industry from vacuum tubes to highly integrated transistor circuits. Vacuum tubes wasted great amounts of energy in heating their electrodes.

Yes, all that you say is true, but humankind can not live off of the transitino from vacumn tubes to silicon wafers. They don't taste good, with or without mustard.

The point I am making is that the overall economy, and certainly the U.S. economy and all similar 'western' economies, are inextricably tied to the availability of increasing amoungs of energy. Less energy = less potential growth.

That's today's picture and has been the picture since the industrial revolution. The picture is not going to change overnight, no matter how many jokes we tell.

Can we substitute energy and reduce dependence? Sure, but it will take time, much time, and time we may not have.

Extend this problem to less developed countries - those transitional economies are actually in a worse pickle, particularly those that are importers of oil. They use more energy (oil) per GDP $ than we do, although one might argue that its use is concentrated more on basic needs than our use is, except to the extent where developing economies energy use is directed towards fueling the west's insatiable desire for replacable coloured covers for our cell phones, et al.

That's a poor definition.

A growing economy needs to produce more.  If it can squeeze greater production out of less energy, that's still growth.

A growing economy needs to produce more.  If it can squeeze greater production out of less energy, that's still growth.

You can twist the figures around and make it seem like we live in a golden age where more GDP output occurs with less energy, and that would be true.

But more GDP output with less energy is not the same thing as using less energy. There has not been a single case in my lifetime where the economy has expanded without energy consumption expanding. I expect this is a truism dating back to the dawn of time... some laws simply can not be refuted. It takes energy to produce; the more you produce, the more energy you utilize.

It doesn't matter how efficient we become - at least not in the short term, because we can't become highly efficient overnight - increased economic growth will require more energy.

Now... off what baseline are we measuring? I suggest we've nothing to pick from, except when we reach peak production world wide, we'll then have a convenient measuring post i.e. when world wide economies next start growing, post-peak, we'll have been successful in the transition.

Clearly if the peak is tomorrow, this will be a long time coming. If the peak is a decade or two away, we've got a chance to mitigate potential world wide disaster.

There's no point in putting a fine point on definitions when we have decades of economic output to look at and in every case where economic expansion ruled, energy use went up. Turning that ship around will not happen over night; I question if it can even happen in a decade.

But more GDP output with less energy is not the same thing as using less energy.
True.  However, energy/$GNP has been on a downward slide for many decades.  If the efficiency curve rises at the same or greater rate while economic growth slows, we could easily have absolute energy consumption decline during (slow) growth.

Note that only some kinds of energy are in short supply at the moment, and we can raise efficiency of some things easily.  We can boost the amount of e.g. wind power with a relatively short lead time, freeing coal and gas for other uses.  We can insulate and cut heating energy with no loss in utility.  We can stop buying Explorers and Tacomas and buy Focuses and Civics instead; at a 17-year vehicle lifespan and a bias of miles driven toward newer vehicles, doubling fleet MPG means cutting motor fuel use by perhaps 4% per year.

There has not been a single case in my lifetime where the economy has expanded without energy consumption expanding.
Oil is the biggie here; consider the amount of low-hanging fruit in transportation.
It doesn't matter how efficient we become - at least not in the short term, because we can't become highly efficient overnight - increased economic growth will require more energy.
Consider my concept, then:  instead of burning gasoline in engines at 17% efficiency, build cars as plug-in hybrids.  Efficiency under engine power goes up by a third, and 80% of their driving is done on grid power; direct fuel consumption falls by 85%.  The remaining energy (about the same 80%, due to losses) is met by burning oil in 70% combined-cycle powerplants at 55% efficiency and 30% simple-cycle gas turbine powerplants at 40% efficiency.  Total relative oil consumption is:
  • 15% of baseline used directly.
  • 17.3% in the CC plants.
  • 10.6% in the simple-cycle plants.
Total:  42.9% of baseline.  If you get 30% of the additional grid power from non-petroleum sources like coal, wind or solar, this falls to 34.5%.

Things look almost absurdly rosy if you postulate cogenerating furnaces to generate electricity during the heating season.  There are a lot of things we could do that we are not.  Yet.

Embarking on a plan like this would lead directly to economic growth because the money that would have gone to the oil-producing countries would go instead to the battery makers, gas-turbine manufacturers, and other uses inside the industrialized countries (including our own).

EP, there are plenty of potential solutions out there, but, so far, seemingly, no potential leaders to get the ball running.

Solutions will only be worked on if a problem is perceived to be there, and I'm not convinced that the political leadership around the world is convinced that we face now, or in the next X years, anything more than a speed bump.

People need to feel more pain before they will really demand action; after all, most everyone dumped their Mazda's for Ford Explorers and big vans over the past 30 years... ;-)

The right way to subsidize high heating fuel costs is to give every citizen a check to cover the extra cost.  That way those who have conserved get some incentive (ie. they get to keep some of the cash).

Contrast this with the government paying a piece of every natural gas or heating oil bill.  This punishes folk that conserve (because they might not have a bill, but still pay taxes).

If tax heating fuel like crazy, but handout money (ie. cash) to everyone to offset the tax, we encourage conservation without punishing the poor.

There might be some market distortion is such a scheme, but I'll leave that to someone more expert than myself to explain.  It certainly isn't obvious to me.

Speaking of PG&E:

The economic impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be felt on natural gas bills in October, as PG&E's residential customers can expect to pay $17.45 more for the fuel in October, compared to October of 2004 - an increase of 70.8%.

But then they go on to reassure:

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricanes, natural gas prices have surged nation-wide, but the level of the increase in cost seen in October is expected to fall in the coming months. PG&E is currently estimating that natural gas bills for December and January will be 40-50% higher compared with last year.

And, stop yer whining, others have it worse, and hey, California is, for the most part, warmer than most other places in the country:

While the price of natural gas in California is high, costs in the other parts of the country have surged even more, with some utilities reporting bill increases in the triple digits.

Comment: One can only hope there are reasons for NG to come down from 14, or at least not rise further. Do they have more info than we do? One supposes, but I think they'd say this stuff even if it were flat out false... just to stave off panic.

Dave, as a former commodities trader (well, are we ever 'former'?), I would like to THINK that the thousands of executives in the oil industry understand how much GOM production is offline and if it was going to be over 50% for an extended time, whispers of such would send next years oil/products significantly higher. These prices are about the same as 2 months ago, before either hurricane. SO that tells me a)damage either is less or will be fixed b)market is certain it can get increased supply from elsewhere c) people are truly unaware of the problem and TOD has scoop or d)something else is moving the market that we are as yet unaware (this is often the case).

The market she is a fickle beast - if I had to guess-whats holding oil down (relatively), we are still so close to Peak production (meaning we are still increasing on a global level) that any meaningful demand destruction or energy switching (Im heating with wood this winter FYI), will cause near term contracts to drop, possibly sharply. Since the mkt is priced at the marginal barrel - we really could see Mike Lynchs prediction of $30, at any time, at least in the front months. IMHO, the next few months will be a race between measuring how much supply we have lost vs how much demand we are losing. This FIRST oil crisis will be a fire-drill because we are still on the Hubbert upslope - lets hope its a wake up call for stark policy changes- Id rather have to eat a nasty pill than get a nasty disease.

But of course I need to see a different doctor for natural gas....

TLS (great handle, by the way): I'm not and never was a trader, but I think you've broken it down accurately.  My hunch is that the current price level is caused by your option (A), and that traders have been told (or believe for some other reason) that while the shut-in capacity is high right now, it will be restored before it influences markets enough or for long enough to move the price.

My only "inside" information is what I read on TOD, but if my guess is correct, it seems to me that the traders (or the people feeding them information) are overly optimistic.  I think it's still possible that enough of the damaged infrastructure can be repaired in time to avoid outages or very high prices (meaning at least 50% higher than they are today) this winter.  But the odds are looking worse by the day that the energy companies can pull off that miracle.

My fear in the very short run is what happens if the conventional wisdom toggles from "everything will be fine" to "we're in a crisis".  That's when markets go nuts, to use a technical term.

Lou, do you have any idea how expensive gas will have to get before it starts paying to take manure-digester gas and landfill gas and clean it to pipeline quality?  Those are sources that aren't likely to have the sliding production and would tend to change the decline curve.
I am looking for conformation but was told Midamerica energy is doing this now in the midwest, particularly Iowa.
Engineer, your question is about direct substitution in NG supply, but in general could there be a sea-change associated with present NG prices with more consequence for infrastructure than $70/barrel oil?

At $14 per million BTU, and 3412 BTU/kWh, even a (generous) 70% efficient peaking plant implies 6.8 cents/kWh. Shouldn't that be enough to tip many scales toward growth in reliance on wind, for example, with or without subsidies, with or without successful green marketing, with or without top-level political will?

Try 35-40% efficiency for a simple-cycle peaking plant, 55-60% for a combined-cycle plant (which I understand cannot be throttled fast enough for peaking).  You're looking at a minimum fuel cost in the 8¢ range for combined cycle, 12¢ to 13.6¢ for simple-cycle.

Yes, I expect wind to be driven very strongly over the next few years where generation previously relied on gas (though solar follows the A/C load peaks a lot better).  If coal winds up in demand for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of motor fuel and it becomes hard to increase production, wind will wind up being valued where generation is coal-fired too.

It may still be a good idea to have production credits for the next few years (perhaps 5).  It pays to think of the future even if utility accounting rules won't let them, and a tax credit is probably easier than un-screwing the screwy system in time for next year.  When conditions suddenly switch over to wind, solar or cogeneration being a REALLY good idea due to whatever event, I'd much rather that installation had begun 5 years before than 18 months after the crisis.

My mistake.  Alliant Energy not Midamerica has methane capture up and running commercially. http://www.alliantenergy.com/stellent/groups/public/documents/pub/012042.pdf

A quick search shows that the midwestern electric and energy companies are investing heavily in alternative sources.  Very large windfarms, ethanol, biodiesel and methane are on line in Il, IA, MN, SD, and Ne.

For those interested, Midamerica is owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway. http://www.mindfully.org/Energy/2005/Buffet-Berkshire-PacifiCorp24may05.htm

Berkshire has been buying lots of electric/energy companies recently and investing in alternatives.

That Alliant PDF claims bio-methane to electricity, not to the pipeline.  If the local generation is coal-fired the net cost reduction is quite a bit less than would otherwise be possible.
Alliant is the natural gas distributer in central Iowa as well as electricity.  I believe they control at least one main pipeline so they can feed their electric generating plants.  Alliant and Midamerica have built NG electric generating plants recently because they come on line faster than coal and have a tax advantage due to lower total emissions.  You have a valid point per onsite production if that is the case.  I was told and am trying to confirm that Alliant has a methane pressurizing station feeding a main east-west pipeline.
No smaller cars, despite gas costs
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Despite high gas prices, 56 percent of Americans refuse to downsize and plan to stick with the cars and trucks they have, according to a report published Sunday.

By 2010, the number of SUVs on the market will increase 24% to 109 models, the magazine said, citing auto researcher J.D. Power and Associates. Meanwhile, just 44 different hybrids will be offered by then.

By the end of the decade, J.D. Power predicts hybrids will account for less than 4 percent of total auto sales. At the same time, SUVs will grow from 24.6% to 26.6%.
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid=%7B62F85C82%2D592F%2D45A7%2D83F4%2D89D3D8A003C8%7D&am p;;siteid=mktw

FWIW, if they were to survey me (and they did not), I would have to say I'm not planning on buying a new car soon.

I have two hondas, with combined mileage of over a quarter million miles, and the newest one was built in 99 model year.  But there just isn't any money to invest in another car (trading one in wouldn't change the equation much)

Looking around my college town, I'm very aware of the very high number of late model trucks - a wide range of SUV's, lots of Suburbans and Excursions, lots and lots of half ton or 3/4 ton trucks (near ranch country).  Of cars, one of the popular new ones is the Mustang remodel this year (same idea that VW had of coming out with a "new" beetle, but these are the "new" mustangs styled to look like the late 60's models)

And yes, on Saturday the wholesale club was out of gas.  Hmm.

We have a 1996 Volvo wagon - we've been saying NO to SUV's and Vans, although no doubt our wagon uses as much fuel as some smaller, efficient, vans, but I digress. We are not planning on selling the beast. For one, it wouldn't net us what we'd need to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle; two its long since paid for; three, we are rather hoping it may be the last car we ever buy.

Even if gas goes to 2, 3, 4$ a litre, we'll still find it more cost effective to drive the family over to the next province over than to fly, in the future, and crossing the Canadian Rockies also brings us to areas where we enjoy our leisure time.

In-city driving we've already reduced as much as possible; for a while it was near zero but my wife's office is in a difficult and dangerous to cycle to location that is not served by mass transit. One day this ought to change... so we fill up a couple of times a month, somewhat more in the winter, less in the summer.

I sold our second car over a year ago on concerns about what we are facing here... me and the kids get around fine on our single bikes or on the family tandems.

I am glad that you have an open thread and having been attentive to this site for a couple of months I will share some thoughts.

I have posted elsewhere that I think raising awareness is of utmost importance and that theoildrum can play an important part.  I am impressed with the calibre of debate and this site is regularly checked upon by me.

I believe that we have entered a new era with respect to the reality of energy.  This site can provide leadership but with that comes responsibility (note that raising awreness appears to be a part of the mandate of this site given the give em hell Harry thread - plug this site).  So, I suggest:

  1. Be constructive and not personal in any rebuttals

  2. Try to welcome newcomers to the site despite what you might feel is naive commentary - suggest sites to give the basics but do so positively

  3. Keep people coming back to this site, do not descend into a clique that shuts out others.

I say this because I genuinely believe that we are at the cusp of mainstream awareness and I am doing my part - as for the theoildrum: the talent is there, far more then I so educate the world...
Re: your points #1, #2 and #3.

I completely agree, thanks for the reminder.

Which sites do you refer Newbies to when educating them about Peak Oil?
Good question and I leave this to the more experienced. I would be intersted as well. By the way, thank you Dave.
Well, stepback, they should look at this site, what else can I say? I think the point is that we shouldn't alienate new readers but, as I'm sure you think (me too), that's often not possible....

A related point involves search on this site so that new visitors can read "great posts" from the past, but that's a bigger issue...

As one who is not "learned,"  I would suggest a permanent link on the main page to where educational or background information can be found.

Also, I would like to see a "thorough" discussion on the various theories pro/con peak oil.  I undertand that this site seems to have a bias that the concept of peak oil exists, but there are other contrary theories, for example, that oil may not be decomposing plant material or upper level reservoirs are being filled from older oil migrating from closer to the center of the earth.  For example, even the thread entitled "A Nice Counterexample" seemingly makes reference to a possible problem with the peak oil theory.

Further, there seems to be several competing issues that we in the US are now experiencing.  There is the concept of peak oil, which may take a few years for it to really be felt.  However, the more pressing problem seems to be coming from the recent disruption to GoM production and pretroleum refining capacity.  These events seems to be causing problems at a much speedier rate than the typical peak oil concept.  Unfortunately, this disruption thought/theory is more an economics discussion than an engineering concept even though engineering does impact the supply side.

So, in my inarticulate manner, I would like to see in one place links to educational materials pro/con about peak oil and the various competing theories in order that I can try to reach my own conclusion about whether peak oil exists or whether oil is a renewable resource.


Buy both of Deffeyes books they are the most "novice" friendly oil books around easy to read and they explain where oil comes from. These theorys about oil closer to center of the earth are just plane fantasy If oil gets to deep the preasure and temp break it down. Buy Deffeyes books you will not regret it.
Perhaps I'm being old-fashioned here, but my first bite from the PO bug was reading Deffeyes' "Hubbert's Peak."  I see from his recent appearance with Hon. Rep. Barttlet that he has a new title coming out and either or both of these books might be a better start than the hurly-burly of any web site.
Just did a Wiki search on "peak oil debate".

Here is the top find:

Here are the search results (not all are relevant):

Wiki explanation of an Oil Drum or Barrel:

Wiki explanation of Petroleum:

Lot's of interesting details in these Wiki pages,
example: a synopsis of Daniel Yergin's book:

See the Peak Oil primers down on the lower right hand side. Personally I like Wikipedia and the Energy Bulletin.
I think the primer on peak oil at EnergyBulletin is an excellent place to start - good overview and links. Recommend to people they then check out the front page regularly for headlines.
Perhaps I'm being new-fashioned here, but why would I get in my car, go to a bookstore, and pay money for dead trees when there's information all over the web?

It'd be great if there was a "Peak oil outline" page on this site with a prominent link from the front page. Hm... the page doesn't even have to be on this site, and doesn't have to be done by the editors. Is there anything wrong with the Wikipedia page?


It's easy to add information, and easy to correct wrong information. And it can be improved a bit at a time.

On the right hand sidebar, there's a box called "Peak Oil Primers". We even label them as to how apocalyptic they are.
I agree. I think we have one other area that could use, perhaps, a protocol. Our biggest problems seem to occur with disruptive posts--people who aggressively push a particular and non-negotiable agenda. They want a pulpit, not a dialogue.

Thoughtful and well-reasoned skeptics are welcomed here, and we have a couple in residence. They strengthen our thoughts. But how should we deal with those who are most interested in lobbing verbal Molotov cocktails?

You are talking about a problem that is common to ALL open comment blogs.

It is the so-called "troll" problem. Someone who hangs around and teases with the toads (The Three Billy Goats Gruff) rather than contributing meaningfully to the dialog.

There are no easy answers. One man's troll is another's philosopher.

I'm not sure if the software at this site can do it, but one solution is to add Next> and <Back buttons to every comment.<p> Then if you start reading a long winded coment that YOU consider troll fod, just hit the Next> button and you have skipped it by.

Alternatives can include Collapse and Expand buttons for each posted comment.

[Next-->]  [<-- Prev] [<-- Expand -->]  [-->Shrink<--]

The nastiest problem with the trolls and crazy people, in my opinion, is accurately identifying them.  Not all of those who are obviously nutjobs just looking for attention really are--how many times have one of us been seen that way when we mention PO at a gathering of family or friends?

That aside, there are cases of people who will use any public discussion as a way to get attention.  The way they handle this on dailykos.com is with an unofficial policy of "not feeding the trolls".  Some people still argue with them, but many don't, and some will post a recipe in response.  I think the recipe thing is a little silly, but it's a lot better than, "To hell with ME???  Well, to hell with YOU!!!  Hah!".

I guess I would prefer to see things unregulated, with the editors stepping in only when someone is directly being abusive to a person or group, or is provably lying.  "Stepping in" would take whatever form seems right to the editor--deleting the post, nuking the person's account (or threatening to do so), etc.

I like your idea of not feeding the trolls.  If we ignore inappropriate posts, the troll will go away, starved of attention, or, will learn to post ideas that are adding to the debate.  If the post has interest, PO people will enter into debate and we do not lose a meaningful contributor.

Great idea.

Slashcode has comment ratings (low-rated comments go "below your threshold" and become invisible) and also a personal friends/enemies list in the later revisions.  You can add or subtract scoring points from people on your friends and enemies lists, which can push comments above or below your threshold as you please.

It's not perfect, but habitual trolls tend to wind up dropping out of sight fairly quickly.

However one of the big down sides is that group think is greatly inforced. Karma whores appear and only say what the masses want them to say, and such rabble rousing is considered insightful. I seem to remember one of Prof G. or HO mentioning that group thing would be a good thing to avoid. I greatly agree with that.

If there was ranking, a potentially decent system would be: there would only be ranks of 0 (hide) or 5 (don't hide) with no choices inbetween. Scores would not be displayed, but comments with 3 or more votes and less than a ranking of 1 would not be displayed except for a "hidden comments" page (this way readers could make sure non-troll comments weren't being hidden) which would only be viewable by registered readers. This way, it allows members of the community to police the trolls, but it doesn't propogate a system of karma whores.

Those sound like 3 really good ideas. But it's up to all of us to keep the conversation at a high quality and keep the debate civil.
Demand destruction case study in progress:

Indonesia has just implemented a radical, instant shift in their pricing for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene for cooking. Gasoline rose by 87% overnight. The subsidized pricing policy has been costing the govt about $14 billion annually, and they are trying to reduce that.

Pricing in US dollars:

kerosene per litre was $.07, now $.20
diesel was $.79/gallon, now $1.59/gallon
gasoline as $.91/gallon, now $1.70/gallon

The very poor will receive a subsidy of about $10 per month for 3 months to try to help them make the transition.

There are obvious differences in the nature of the economy, wage structures, and price expectations in Indonesia vs. the developed world. However, this looks like a good natural experiment that is worth following. We may learn something.

... and this year, to my knowledge, Indonesia became the first OPEC member to fail to live up to the 'E' in OPEC - its now a net Importer, not an Exporter.

This time of uncertainty brings tremendous risk of bad policy making, on a global scale. Indonesia's national energy companies, for example, may take over foreign assets in a binge of nationalization... this has certainly happened elsewhere in the past.

Like em or hate em, international oil companies won't be able to thrive (and thus keep exploring for more) if a wave of energy resource nationalization starts to take hold in the less developed areas of the world.

Bad policy and short term actions to secure energy for a country might indeed have a negative medium to long term impact - by reducing exploration activity and productive capacity for countries/regions over the longer term. Without the capital, experience and brain-power available to them from the experienced explorers, some newly nationalized energy programs are going to fail to meet growth goals for some time. We've seen fields mismanaged in the past; it can happen again.

In the panic to stave off domestic chaos or coups, weak governments in some of the worlds last energy frontiers may end up shooting themselves - and the globally connected energy supply chain - in the foot, and hasten the peak, or steepen the drop.

Aside from the unfolding case study in Indonesia, are there any economic models or projections for impact of NG at a given price point.  We can speculate on the intuitively obvious fact that $15 NG is bad but do we know how many NG users will lack the income to make up the difference in prices?  
First, is NG as price inelastic as petrol?  Are we certain people won't modify behaviours?  What is the difference between in terms of economic impact of someone maintaining a 64 degree house with $15 chinese-manufactured sweaters all around vs. a 72 degree house and shorts?  

Would NG, if it is as price inelastic as petrol, be subject to demand-driven spikes?  Will the richest in Wisconsin pay $20 or $30 or $40 if a shortage manifests and the temperature plummets?

Also, do we know how NG prices will impact other prices -- e.g. how long does it take for NG cost impact fertilizer cost and, some months later, food costs; how about electricity generation?    

Is the situation dire or does it indicate increased drag on the economy, factored in over months?

As for the Indonesia case study -- should we include the coincidence of terrorist attacks in our case study of rising fuel costs?  I mean, as long as we are speculating about things, is it at least possible there is a direct relationship?  Who benefits from bombs today?

Its not just personal hardship that is at issue here -- commercial collapse can't be discounted.

We don't have to go back too far in time for a parallel - remember the California energy crisis? This one we can't blame on Enron traders gone wild. Back in 2001 California's electrical system (PG&E) almost collapsed into bankruptcy due to high natural gas prices. Then prices were 1.04 per therm (10.40 per mmbtu); today's prices are 40% higher and perhaps headed much higher.

Government price controls and all sorts of non neo-conservative policies may be the only solution. Having consumers dial back the heat works to a point, but not if there's no gas company to ship the fuel to them in the first place.

Hi to SJM.

I have found the peak oil primer at Energy Bulletin to be excellent. I tend to recomend reading to people rather than sites. One that really got me going was "The oil we eat " by Richard Manning, published in Harpers. It has a very good albiet a little impassioned synopsis of just how dependent we are on oil. Solution wise, those who are prepared will fare the best. Try to use less in your everyday life, and be less dependent everyday on something you can't control. I think for a lot of westerers debt will be the first big stubling block in a transition to a less energy intensive way of life.I found it very hard at the start of my thinking about peak oil not to be very despondent and depresssed, but now I feel that knowing what will unfold helps me to understand what to do next. I feel blessed to live in an underpopulated well organised country, the nearest starving hordes will be about a weeks sailing away. Having said that, we get through unbelievable amouts of fertiliser growing our food, and in my town public transport is a joke. I don't think anyone other than the super rich will escape lightly.

I also use "peak oil primer" as a resource.
I disagree that only the rich will get away lightly, I wholeheartedly believe that a primitive lifestyle is not to be discounted but positively embraced.
Our reconnection with the planet and its natural cycles is I believe essential.
Good riddance to supermarkets, obesity and the wasted land, coffee,cocoa,flowers and recreational drugs.
And of course the huge waste in animal farming.
Post industrial society?
Bring it on, before its too late...
I had heard that oil, diesel, etc. used by the military is not counted in the 20mbd number that is often thrown around, if the fuel doesn't cross a US border.  Is this true and how much fuel is this and where does it come from?
The GOM shut in is not just a problem for the US it is com a worldwide problem. Even Matt Simmons makes mention of it in his latest presentation. In such a globalised world when the US gets a cold everyone else gets pneumonia.

There will have to be some hard decisions made soon as every day the problem will grow larger. However saying that now is not the time to panic.

Maybe readers of TOD could begin suggesting ways to get through this. Once a sizeable list is created we could then start sending it to family, friends and associates. It requires a global response and the internet allows us to do it faster than mainstream press.

Is this a good idea?

It seems that PEMEX could become the biggest victim of the recent hurricanes.


Just a note from over here in Tokyo that today's (October 2)  edition of the Nikkei business newspaper carries a review, by Tokyo University Prof Kikkawa Takeo, of 2 translated books that deal with peak oil: Paul Robert's The End of Oil, and Linda McQuaig's It's the Crude Dude. The latter is titled "Peak Oil" in the Japanese translation. The Nikkei is a fairly conservative newspaper, so one should not be surprised that peak oil theory gets a dismissal. The review refers to a 2005 Nikkei publication "Reading Oil" (in Japanese) that makes the arguments that technology will increase reserve recovery rates and ensure new finds while more investment will also lead to better exploitation of mid-sized fields, and so on. The review also notes that the Japanese Oil and Natural Gas Review carries an article in its May 2005 edition that essentially dismisses peak oil theory.
On the other hand, as we can see with McQuaig's book getting the "Peak Oil" title, there is increasing interest in the subject over here. The Nikkei has studiously ignored peak oil until now, but presumably the editors finally decided they had better carry something on it. So the review concedes that peak oil theory as a social phenomenon deserves attention. The author goes on to remark that Japan is just behind America and China in its consumption of oil, but that it has a weak level of concern for energy security. The campaign leading up to the September 11 election in fact barely featured any comment in the contending parties' platforms. The author says the limited concern is due to endaka (increasing exchange value of the yen), which limits the effect of oil-price increases in the domestic economy. The review concludes with a warning that the country risks being left behind in the global race for energy security due to negligence, and so grants a smidgeon of praise to the peak oil books as warnings of the need to pay more attention to oil issues.
Let's just hope they feel obliged to review Simmons' book if it ever gets translated into Japanese. There are several more peak oil articles and so on coming out over here in the next while, so if the Nikkei and other mainstream publications are pushed to deal with a very persuasive work like Twilight in the Desert the result might be very interesting.
It should be observed that Japan, not Detroit, is leading the way in hybrid vehicle technology.

Obviously, executives at Toyota and other Japanese car makers are very aware of the world to come. They are putting their money where their vision is.

GM is sucking off the US Government (and tax payers)for  hydrogen research dollars.


Clearly the Japanese are vastly ahead on hybrid tech, but I doubt that means the elite here understand what's potentially coming. I don't get that impression from media reports and talking to people. I live and work in Tokyo, and know people who would have heard of peak oil if it were a topic of concern among the bureaucratic and political elite. It isn't. Japan clearly has a concern for fuel efficiency, but that's long-standing and is because it has virtually no oil at all and has to get its supply shipped very long distances. Smart taxation and transport policies - like Europe - keep consumers in the big cities from guzzling gasoline, and that's generally accepted. Consciousness of resource scarcity is embedded in the public debate.
But concern for oil depletion and its implications are not part of the package, and that's an important point. Perhaps the Bush-backing but very nationalist foreign policy elite counted heavily on increases in Iraqi production to boost the global flow. They do have deals in Iran, for example (which really annoyed the neocons), but Japan is still doing nothing comparable to China's frenzied "resource diplomacy." The fallout from Katrina and Rita will of course extend to here as well, since makers of just about everything are now having to pass on higher oil costs. And declines in US growth might also gut the nascent Japanese recovery. Peak is simply off the radar here. The past suggests the Japanese state could probably restrict consumption more readily that in the US, but if we're really running into peak Japanese political and business circles will be at least as blindsided and unprepared as anyone else.
Sekiyu-san's comments about Japanese lack of awareness of peak oil could also be said about Lithuania (and most of Eastern Europe, I would venture to guess). I follow the Lithuanian media, and I have yet to see even a mention of peak oil. I hear no mention in politicians' speeches. Friends and acquaintances are unaware when I bring the subject up. An acquaintance who built an energy-efficient house did it not because of peak oil, but rather because he remembers the Soviet-era blockade on energy shipments into Lithuania in response to the independence movement.

Remember how long it took for the full implications of peak oil to sink in, after each of us first learned of the subject? Literally billions of people all over the world (many / most of whom are not nearly as well educated as a Scandinavian or a Japanese) (former collective farmers in Lithuania, I'm looking at you!) are going to have to absorb this and start responding, and soon.

Anyone reading/posting to TOD is pretty well educated... but how does one best get the word out to the other 99% of the population??

With all this awareness going around today I am wondering how many posters have actually contacted their congressmen about peak oil??  Or at least made the attempt.. I have sent my congressman 2 emails with no response. They usually have a form letter they send back to acknowledge the email was received but nothing..  Anybody else have any luck??
Did you catch Senator Cantwell's (Washington state) radio address yesterday on America's energy crisis?


I think more and more politicians are catching on to the idea that "Houston we have a problem". Maybe some start out using it merely as a political ploy. Eventually they start realizing there is more to it than originally met their eye.

Hey step back, I missed those remarks but in reviewing the article I find the same ole political rhetoric that gets us nowhere in talking about peak oil, IMHO!! Its the same ole we have to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and invest more in alternatives, blah, blah, blah.. but of course, I don't see any politician other than Bartlett, going out on the limb here and giving the public the stark news about oil depletion..

Thus the public just continues to repeat the mantra of less foreign oil more alternative energy sources without looking at the whole picture!! Now I know, the average joe, could care less about peak oil or oil depletion and will do nothing for the most part until its too late.. Its called lack of leadership and both parties are to blame at this juncture.. We'll see if this winter opens the eyes of more people..

i wrote a letter to my us rep using the online form at his website. i immediately received a canned, auto-responder and nothing more since ... so, same result as you in my case
Speaking of what the politicians know and when did they admit to knowing it, here is one article that claims many do know about PO ... they just don't care because they think LNG will come to save the day:


I guess the article was written in a long-ago pre-Katrina era ... er June 2005


Another article on what they who are in power think:
I am a petroleum geologist in the Dallas area.  I have been studying the PO issue for several years, and I am trying to do what I can to warn those who will listen.  

Virtually everyone in the U.S. is net food consumer and a net energy consumer.  Also, the majority of Americans live off the discretionary spending of other Americans.

We are at the start of a massive paradigm shift in the U.S. economy--from an economy focused on "wants" to an economy focused on "needs."  To the extent possible, we all need to aim toward becoming net producers of food and/or energy.  The first step is to start reducing our use of energy.  To do that, we need to educate the public.  I thought you might be interested in my experience along those lines.  

After watching End of Suburbia, and after realizing that both Simmons and Kunstler had new books coming out, I proposed a joint Simmons/Kunstler conference here in Dallas, with both of them speaking.  I contacted both of them and they readily agreed.  My wife and I worked to nail down dates and we contacted the Greater Dallas Planning Council (GDPC) and Southern Methodist University (SMU), who both agreed to be cosponsors.   I then arranged for some underwriting support from various environmental groups and oil companies.  

The GDPC and SMU have done the lion's share of the organizing work, including finding a perfect venue that will seat 750 people.  They are charging $20 per person ($5 for students).  SMU is handling all of the money.  Simmons is going first, then Kunstler, and then an extended joint Q&A.   SMU and the GDPC hope to do a professional DVD of the presentation.

All of you can do the same thing, with a range of very able and articulate PO speakers.  I would suggest that you get a small organizing group together and then contact cosponsors, civic organizations, environmental groups, universities, etc.--who have a high degree of credibility and who can arrange for a suitable venue and who can handle the money and online billing, if you need to charge admission to cover expenses.  

The critical message I want to spread is the following:  "stop the dumb growth."  The poor suckers who continue to buy suburban tract homes at great distances from their jobs are committing financial suicide.  

For the Simmons/Kunstler event in Dallas on 11/1/05:  www.smu.edu/esp

"I am a petroleum geologist ..." you write.

Stop right there. There is your problem. Your brain has been warped. You no longer can think like "they" think. You no longer posses "common sense". You now know this stuff called "science". It changes your whole perspective of the world.

AN IMPORTANT FACTOID: "In 1999, the total number of scientists and engineers employed in the U.S. was 10,981,600, although more than half (7,440,800) were not employed in S&E occupations. "Altogether, approximately 3.5 million individuals held S&E occupations in 1999. Engineers represented 39 percent (1.37 million) of the S&E positions, and computer scientists and mathematicians represented 33 percent (1.17 million). Physical scientists accounted for less than 9 percent of those working in S&E occupations in 1999."

source: http://www.aip.org/fyi/2002/126.html

3.5 million / 200 million is about 1.8 per cent. So roughly 2% of the people work in "science and engineering". 98% DO NOT.

For many of the non-science masses, "creationalism" is an equally valid argument as is "evolution". Besides, they have no idea what evolution is. Wasn't it something about how giraffes have long necks because they stretch to get the higher hanging fruit?

Chevron is running its WillYouJoinUs? TV ads all the time now. (Two oil workers in the dessert, a dip stick, and long hole to climb down.) When one of the ads runs and I stop a family member (those who are sure I have joined the peak freak cult) and ask, Did you see that, did you see that? Their eyes are still glazed over. Huh? No. I wasn't paying attention.

When one of the ads runs and I stop a family member (those who are sure I have joined the peak freak cult) and ask, Did you see that, did you see that? Their eyes are still glazed over. Huh? No. I wasn't paying attention.

Funny you should ask whether or not they were paying attention because most people are not!  I make it a point to bring up gas prices at work and then add "it looks like the era of cheap gas is over" and most people acknowledge that fact. Yet I wonder if they really know why its over?? I don't think so..

And boy has there been a slew of propaganda ads on the TV and radio by oil companies..

My father in law is also a petroleum geologist, retired. He spent much of his career working for the majors (oh have the names changed since then) in the middle east, and in a few locales in Africa including Nigeria. His belief has always been that the big fields would peak before he died; he's not so sure now but only because he's getting up there in years. He certainly believes that his kids will witness the peak.
There was a guy on CSPAN the other day by the name of Blij de Harm. He said he was a "geographer". He showed how before continental drift started, all the oil was in one belt around the planet, with Texas being adjoined to West Africa. A quick look at that map, and an understanding that the primoidal biomass was in that hot belt; let's you quickly understand why all the big oil fields are clumped in that belt region. (He also explained why we have to invade Antartica.)

Problem is, as Harm explains, they do not teach "geography" in American schools anymore. That is why the public does not have a clue. That is why the public is willing to buy this new theory that The World is Flat (a theory attributed to Tom Friedman of NYT fame). In the Flat Earth model, all things are equally possible everywhere. If you found oil there, just drill some more and you'll find lot's of oil here. Sad.

I commend you westexas on organizing the event. We should all be doing stuff like that.
I've decided to come up from Austin for the Simmons/Kunstler event.  Agonized for a while about how much gas I'd burn driving up there, and to what real benefit - I've read their books and listened to interviews.  The opportunity to be in a lecture hall with a large group of people who don't think I'm a nut was too much to pass up, and I've been able to recruit a few friends in the DFW area to go who are not yet on board and informed on PO.  Thanks for taking the iniative to set this up.

If you're planning to drive up and back that day, I'd be happy to carpool along with you and split the gas money.

Email me at don_negro at yahoo if you're interested

In Philadelphia, we just had a similar initiative, a "Beyond Oil" conference bringing together environmentalists, local politicians & social justice activists, & peak oil experts like Jan Lundberg: http://phillybeyondoil.org

We should all be doing these sorts of things locally...

That's right, that's why we need to get more local TOD sites running. Maybe people could chime in with what state they are from?

I invite more folks to start contributing to the NYC site if you are from the general area. I believe all you have to do is submit a story and either Ianqui or I can post it to the mail page. Write us an email if you want to contribute more and we can start talking about ideas.

Hello all,

this is my first post, though I've been reading right along since the hurricanes.

Just saw this news story on Yahoo, posted 20 minutes ago, claiming Iran threatens to cut oil exports if sanctions are imposed by the United Nations. China (not surprisingly) opposes sanctions.
Salt in the wound??


The Iranian president has refuted the story; you'll see many links to that in due course. I have come across one story where the newspaper that obtained the quotation defended the story as factual but there's some controversy as the reporter - an independent - may have mischaracterized the paper the reporter claimed to be representing.

Could the story be true? Sure.

If, infact, the threat was made as the reporter stated, I think is little more than a bold statement that is quite hollow. The lost oil revenues would be a political suicide for the new Iranian President. That being said, little is known about his past, as I understand it. Could he be crazy enough to do it if China is willing to pick up the slack exports? Or India?
If I were the authoritarian but insecure nationalists who run China, I would oppose sanctions too. The Bush regime made it clear that you use the UN and otherwise cooperate with the rest of the world when it suits you. The Chinese get oil from Iran, and presumably can strengthen that link by opposing sanctions. The Chinese regime lives or dies by economic growth. And the country must get rich now before it gets old (think of the ageing society implications of a "one-child policy"). Access to oil in Iraq played a big role in the Bush regime's decision to invade and defy the UN, trash its alliances, and so on. For resource-hungry China not to go along with sanctions on Iran seems less of a breach of international norms. Would that we had built a world over the past few years where the general interest in non-proliferation easily trumps the self-interest in access to oil.
Newspaper Stands by Iran Oil-Threat Story
(10-02) 08:16 PDT DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) --

A Dubai-based newspaper said Sunday it stands by a story in which it quoted Iran's president as saying he might curtail oil sales if his nation is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program.

However, the Khaleej Times acknowledged that the confusion might have arisen because the reporter, a freelance journalist, told the president she was working for another paper.

After the story quoting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared Saturday, the president's office issued a statement saying he "never had an interview, either oral or written" with the newspaper.

On Sunday, the newspaper said the reporter on several occasions "presented herself (to Ahmadinejad) as a reporter with the American-based Arabic News, and not as a Khaleej Times reporter, though she has given this report exclusively to Khaleej Times."

The paper's editor, Prem Chandran, told The Associated Press: "We support what we published."


about those politicians that are starting to take notice of peal oil. Are they the same ones that sang "God Bless America" after 9/11?

I have no faith in politicians, i genuinely think they are are all self serving. That aside: they will spend more time and money trying to investigate price gouging than they will on creating some postive solutions on peak oil. I don't think they realize any implications on taxing oil and gas co's. All they seem to see are $$$ signs. Now the govt will likely target those mean and evil Oil and Gas co's.
Case in point, Microsoft and Tobacco settlements. the money the states received from the tobacco settlements was squandered within approx 18 months. Nothing to show for it. The states squander lottery sales money. Best of my knowledge, FEMA stated they never had a plan drawn up for a serious hurricane. And Katrina's effects have shown them how ill prepared they really are. And that was a CAT 4 just before landfall, and i believe it was a CAT 3, just under a CAT 4 on impact.  

A few posts previously someone stated something to the effect "everythings just fine" and quickly changes to
"we have a crisis"  

You know your in for bad times when someone comes up and says "I'm from the govt, and i am here to help!"  

Sorry for being so negative, but those darn politicans get on my nerves. thanks for letting me Vent!

One more thing, this article summed it up about politicians and their interest of peak oil. they are either ignorant or scared of their careers to speak of it.


I've never seen something as bold as this in the MSM:


Could we be reaching the tipping point?

great catch.  I posted this article to my blog.

Good to see that more news outlets are starting to bring this to the attention of others.

I've got some suggestions:

1. Can we see a something like a small box in the side of the screen that contains updating info like:

It has been x number of days since Katrina made landfall.
It has been x number of days since Rita made landfall.
x % of oil production shut in.
x % of natural gas production shut in.
x number of refineries are offline.
x number of rigs are lost.
x number of platforms are lost.

And by clicking on the box, we are taken to a page with links that gives more detailed info on GOM damage and production.  Also links to the eia site that gives current energy reserves such as the in ground natural gas figures
would be included too.

2. With all the experts involved with this site and with the issue of peak oil, I'm suprised no one has come up with a "Peak Oil Lifestyle Planner".  Think of a guide book that gives instrucion on peak oil preparedness to varying degrees, starting with simple auto tips for gas conservation, to tips on investing or wealth preservation, and then going to the end of the spectrum with the creation of a self sustaing community using organic farming and alternative energy resources.  The book could use lifestyle examples such a single suburban, single urban, single rural male or female, a suburban couple, an urban couple, a rural couple, and lastly, a suburan family of 5, an urban family of 5, a rural family of 5.  Each lifestyle example would have it's own unique set of planning instructions.  

Splendid.  This has been a great thread.  I would love to see ideas on preparation for the effects of peak oil.  What we can do for ourselves and others.  When I started planning to introduce peak oil to MBAs (in a modest way) at our business school last year, I assumed the big problems were years away and the students might be quite skeptical or ambivalent but things seem to be moving pretty fast.  Far faster than I thought.

The San Francisco article was shockingly blunt.  The PO issue seems to be going mainstream and the spin masters are losing control.  I am thinking of proposing a course in sustainability but with a strong PO component.  If I do, I will post on this site for ideas.

Buy a farm or 2. High rainfall, good soils, lots of fire wood. Sit back and wait and see what happens. If you cannot affored a farm get enough land so you can grow food for yourself. Get out of debt.

Enjoy life NOW the party aint over just yet:)

I suppose buying a farm or two is better than buying Google.  However, I was raised on a two hunded acre farm in the fifties.  We had good rainfall and plenty of wood.  Ten cows.  100 head of sheep.  Chickens.  Pigs.

Idyllic?  Hardly.  I don't think city folk have any idea of what scratching out a living on a farm is going to be like when oil is way more expensive.

Farming is hot sweaty work for very little return.  I'd like to take people who idolize farm living and give them a gift of one hour sitting on a tractor in the hot sun.  They can learn the joys of slapping off sweat bees.

And the farm of the future probably will be using horses so they can also learn the joys of horse flies.  Infinitely worse than sweat bees.

This is not to say it won't be a far better life than that of a beggar in a large city.  But it will be a big step down for most people and I doubt there will be a lot of smiley faces.

Exactly. Grew up on farms in West Texas and Oklahoma. At least 3 times a day we would wonder what we had done to so irritate God that we should deserve such a life. And we did pretty well, buying up land from the others that failed. 12 hours a day every day fencing, clearing, horses more onery than they were worth, bad well water, boil in summer, freeze in winter, animals dying for no good reason or every possible reason you can imagine. And when the tractor didn't work it was a black day. When I researched intentional communities it seemed to me that most had absolutely no idea what they were getting into with some utopian permaculture fantasy that at some point in the future they will be growing more than 10% of their food.
csprings can you tell me if the intentional communities you researched were animal based?
animals require feeding and watering.
vegetable allotments in england have been part of our culture for a long time.
couple of the old boys (in there 70's) on my allotment told me off how there 1/8th of an acre would feed more than half of the families food requirements.

there are certain staples that have been overlooked by many people.

links to a downloadable database
7000(usa indiginous) edible plants, happy foraging:)

I agree with this doubt about the wholesome virtues of farming. Some peak oil people seem positively thrilled at the prospect of everyone busting sod all day long followed by communal living in candle-lit cohousing and the like. Personally, I'd rather suck back Jonestown kool-aid than live in such a feudal hell, and I suspect there are a lot of people who feel the same. Telling people that peak oil means they'll have to, so to speak, chew on mung beans and live cheek to jowl with others is not only wrong; it seems to me it's the sort of extremist message that causes most people to tune out. Peak oil analyses are competing with all kinds of hyper-optimistic propaganda as well as seemingly reasonable arguments that the problems we confront are minor and can be resolved by technology and so on. Doing the equivalent of declaring that the end is upon us all is a recipe for failure and irresponsible.
sorry sekiyu,
I am an anarcho primitivist and my friends and I  have been planning to live in small "eco-village" for over a year.
peak oil is just an eventuality like any other, if people are scared thats not my fault, it is not me using loads of resources, so I have no guilt.
If technology is going to save us what is this site for?
I have yet to hear from any of the main contributors how the current system can be maintained.
Not that I care, I am heading off to the forest regardless..

If my posts are in some way "trollish" then say so. I am here just to see if there is anyone else intrested in a sustainable future

I'm interested in sustainability. And I also think that molecular manufacturing technology can get us there--if it has time to develop, and if we use it well once we have it.

See http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2005/10/3/174332/396#16 (another comment by me on this site) for more info.



Please don't take my note as a criticism of what you have to say. Anyone who wants to live in an eco-village should be free to do so. I don't get the impression that you're saying we all have to. What I find counter-productive is the doom-crying that fits in with the Olduvai Gorge-think. One of the quickest ways for critics to shoot down peak oil arguments in the public debate is to pretend that it's a claim that oil supplies will suddenly run out and pull the rug from under industrial society. Perhaps that kind of simplistic dismissal of peak oil is inevitable, but the doom-crying doesn't help.

Farming with horses sounds awfully desperate.
It was even reasonable for large farms about a hundred years ago to use steam powered winches(spelling?).
Farming can mostly be electrified or use biomass based fuel withouth using the biomass to feed a horse.

I do not think small farms can compete commercially with large farms in the future since larger machines are more efficient giving more work per litre of fuel and running them around the clock gives more work per invested dollar and kg of steel. It is also a sector that will get priority for fuel since people will pay almost anything to not starve.
But for some it would of course be cheaper to subsistance farm fields that are not suitable for large scale farming.

The issue in the future may not be whether small farms can "compete commercially" with large farms, but which are sustainable for the long haul. Large scale farming has a poor track record when it comes to sustainability issues such as regenerating soil fertility and maintaining underground aquifer levels.

Also, a horse has a huge advantage over any kind of electrical or biomass driven machinery: you don't need the technological base to get another horse that you need to get more machinery (or even maintain your existing stock). Also, horses naturally provide a natural source of fertilizer to fields that machines don't.

Back to Steam - Time  to Bring Back the Challengers and Big Boys

I have wondered for months now whether steam has the possibility of making a comeback post the peak. After reading this it might. Zimbabwe has some big Garrets so it may even work for them.  


In WWII these magnificent locomotives hauled tons of freight and is it now time to bring them back into service to help out once again?

Any thoughts?
Is it possible?

The entire infrastructure -- shops, roundhouses, coal towers, water tanks, etc. -- has long been scrapped. You'd have to start from scratch. From greenhouse gas standpoint, we'd be better off electrifying the rail network than returning to steam. Electric motive power is also much less maintenance intensive than steam.
I really enjoy this website.I am not in the oil & gas industry, but that has not stopped me from learning about it. I find it very interesting. This website is a very informative place, thanks to those of you that are in the oil & gas industry. I must say that I appreciate your insight. Being a visual kinda guy, I really like the oil and gas maps that various people have contributed here. from nationwide oil distribution maps to NG pipelines laid out across the nation, as well as the oil rig locations out in the gulf and the super-imposed hurricane paths. Is there a possiblity of including a seperate folder here that stores all these maps, so that we may have a look at them? To those that are not in the industry, and are curious about them, it might be helpful to the laymen. since i have saved many, i can resubmit if needed.

Secondly, to those that want or would like to see the latest oil&gas on line,  may i recommend: http://www.321energy.com/reports/flynn/current.html
for all the latest prices on NG, Oil, gasoline etc. very informative. Someone posted that site here a while back and now i check it out all the time through the day. Thanks, who ever you are!
When I can't be at the computer, i watch cnbc market watch through the day, they display the current oil and NG prices as well as gasoline.

The National Hurricane Center shows Stan as a hurricane by Tuesday evening:


How worried should we be about Cantarell?

Wow! Where to start?  I don't own a house, or a credit card. I have a nice minivan.  I am single. I am unemployed.  

But I know so many people that can not live on the credit they have, and the wages they earn.  And Drive more miles a day than I drive in a week.  This is going to hurt their spending power.  They are going to bundle up and watch netflix, instead of going out to the movies, or the mall.  Their few dollars not spent on the few things they did last year are going to snowball. By mid Jan 06: You'll see several things.

1) credit bills getting paid less (even less than recently reported )  ( why does KFC take credit cards, or the Sonic near you,  such horse hockey these days. )

2) More mortgages lost due to lack of funds to pay them, the job loss due to fewer sales at the mom and pop, 75% of annual sales coming from Christmas shoppers, who did not shop, but paid the heating bills and gasoline bills instead.

3) The poor getting poorer, or just doing less, but having to depend on the "wally worlds" out there to sell them cheap stuff from china, only to find out it is no longer cheap.

4) College guys and gals finding out that their dreams of a High Tech job making Mega-bucks has been sold to China, or India, and The local Pizza joint is not Hiring cause they lost business this winter,  "Hey mom and Dad, can we move back in again?", being a big question asked this next year.

5) A lot less guys running up and down my street playing loud music, because they just can't afford the "tooling around" gas money.

6) Me going further to ground.  I can handle the cold with no heat, or the hot with no ac (I've already done that this summer).  

 7) A national depression before summer of next year, This should really be # 1, but why depress you all at once, Don't pardon the pun.


Many Americans learn only through the school of hard knocks.

When your neighbor gets a pink slip, that's a "recession".

When you get the pink slip and find out your further employability has been shipped out to China or India while you were sleeping, that's when the great "depression" begins. Welcome to Tom Freidman's "FlatWorld" (as in flat and empty wallet).

I don't know whether it's out of a sense of desperation or hopelessness, but there seems to be a growing line of thinking that the only way to get ourselves out of this energy mess is to revert to Third World subsistence living.

 I haven't heard so much talk about 'going back to the land' since the 1960s, when it seemed that every other hippie thought that it would a snap to establish a rural commune and live in a permanent state of self-sufficient bliss. The occupants of the few communes that actually tried this found out all too soon that going back to the land ain't all that much fun, and in fact can be a living hell. (I get a brief reminder of this simple truth every time I dig a hole, chop down a tree, or have to do any sort of sustained hard manual labor. Those early American pioneers must have a bunch of tough SOBs!)

Even if one were to accept this premise, the current population of the US is roughly almost three times it was at the turn of the century, and the amount of usuable farm land has shrunk by about as much due to land development and the growth of the suburbs.  Furthermore, the crop yields of 'natural' farming is so much lower than that of the modern factory farm (for all its faults) that there probably just isn't enough land and resources to pull it off. There are  just too many people today to go back to the simple life. Some trends are largely irreversible, and I think the trend of lower-tech to higher-tech is one of them.

Our intelligence and ingenuity got us into this mess, and if we get serious and start soon enough, it might get us out of it.  However, given human nature, I am not too optimistic. And as far as I can tell, the only real energy policy the US has is to use its military might to gain control over large portions of the world's oil reserves. As I doubt that China and India are willing to freeze in the dark, this policy just about guarantees armed conflict over oil at some time in the future.

It is our hubris, greed and childishness that got us into this mess, not our "intelligence" (assuming we have any) and ingenuity.

Adam Smith sold each of us a bill of bull, by saying, "Guess what? You do not need a well rounded education. Specialize and you will become "wealthy". A magical Invisible Hand will take care of everything."

99% of us listened to Adam Smith. We got a speciality education in: computer science, or finance or health care or etc. and we trusted that the Invisible Hand will perform its magic.

Before hearing of Peak Oil, I knew close to zilch about oil exploration, extraction, transport and utilization. I still know close to zilch (zero). These TOD pages are highly informative. The more you learn, the more you have a chance of grasping what is going on. The worst thing is to walk around with you head buried in the sand, believing that "specialization" will save you and that Adam Smith and his stooge cronies are taking care of everything.

To learn more about the magical "Invisible Hand" take a look at the below sites:
(P.S. I'm not a commie. We know that that system of trading personal favors leads to absolute corruption and collapse. But American capatilism is also full of corruption and heading toward collapse. Feudalism sucks. Is there any hope for a new social order that advances humanity rather than dragiing it down by virtue of humanity's greed and self-centered blindness?)




Adam Smiths point was not that random specialization should work.

That theory is more or less that if lots and lots of people each in their own way tries to find something to do and sell that other people needs, that is values,  the multitude of local optimizations gives workable global optimizations and creates value producing structures that are more complex then a single human can handle and yet they work very well.

You are guaranteed nothing, you have to find out what other people needs and try to become good at providing that. The invisible hand does nothing without lots and lots of intellectual work.

Myself I am investing in education and I soon need to choose wich part of the energy field I shall try to work and find my fortune in.

Was just talking about this with a friend:)
In a post oil society, surely being multi skilled will be a huge asset?
knowing plumbing, carpentry, electrics (12v). will help bring your costs down when you start using solar power.
vegatable gardening is good for free food and exercise.
we may end up as a less specialised society but we could become a more self confident society.

I really envy the americans on this site, as a country you have far greater land per person ratio than here in the uk.
we have 60 million people, you have mabye 4 times that population with nearly 40 times the area!


When confronted with the prospect of Peak Oil (PO), the high priests of capitalism (Adam Smith religion) often defend with the following dogma:
"The markets will [definitely] provide."

It is taken on blind faith that with all those, lots and lots of people each clawing away for his or her own private gain, the mythical magical Invisible Hand will provide whatever society needs or wants.

Now you are saying, THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES?
That contradicts with the block quoted dogma.

Good luck with your education. I would recommend a class in "Directing a Capatilist Economy to Provide the Energies that its Citizens Want or Need".

Of course such rigid study does not account for "externalities". Maybe you should also take some social consciousness courses like, "How the Adam Smith Religion Contributed to Global Warming and Extinction of the Human Vermin". May you become as wise and just as Solomon.

The only hope for humanity at this point is a supernatural one.  I speak of the "Blessed Hope" of the Gospels, the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule the world, and usher in an age of universal peace, bliss, and prosperity.

To those of you who think I am joking, I am not.  I am deadly serious.

To those of you who think this comment is off-topic, I respectfully and emphatically disagree.  Everyone who reads and writes into this site is, on some level, doing so with a view to searching for a basis for some kind of hopeful future.  In response to this issue just having been explicitly raised, I am offering in deadly earnest what I believe is the true basis of hope.

On a purely natural level, humanity is doomed.  There is too much evil and corruption afoot in the world for any of the idealistic visions for the future that are of a purely natural sort to be viable.  I refer here to things such as forming a society based on sustainable living, or one based on the equitable distribution of scarce resources, or one approaching a hunter-gatherer ideal of living in perfect harmony with nature.  Human nature being as corrupt as it is, these are all vain chimeras.  Does a critical look at history tell us any different?

Only an influx of grace into the world, brought upon by Christ's return in glory, offers the basis for a geniune hope.  But this hope is a sure and solid one!  Christ's supernatural intervention WILL transform and save the world, turning it into something beyond the wildest hopes of all the purely naturalistic visions that one runs into among peak-oil types.

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

hallelujah brother
 shows jesus's intentions towards animals, his essene's background would have helped in these coming aescitic times.

meanwhile my envy stretches to your price of diesel.
we are paying
$7.40 a gallon for diesel

Actually, if a supernatural talisman is the only hope, I'd put my faith in Allah: he's got the oil, and maybe he'll lower the water-cut at Ghawar.
Adam Smith recognized that free markets were not a magic bullet, and that things like societal norms, ethics, and governmental regulation had very important parts to play in improving civilization. Unfortunately, this point is lost upon a lot of economists who focus very narrowly on the "benefits" of unconstrained capitalism and minimal or non-existent governmental regulation.
I guess I never heard of Adam Smith,  I took whatever class in College I wanted to take.  I never did get a degree, they wanted me to take classes that I felt were worthless.  I have books in my Library on Cheese making; Masonary; How to build log cabins with hand tools; Herbs and where to find them in nature; Candle making with beeswax, rendered Animal fats; Sailing and knotting;  and hundreds of others on the survival off the land.  Plus books on the sciences, and mathmatics and Plantery sciences, and the Human mind.  I guess I was never one to get sucked into the Normal mold of things.

My brother was, and he gets paid 72k a year and owns the house I rent from him,  and he has a debt load that is almost 4 times his salary.  But he'll be over to dinner when the times get tough and we are eating out of the yards instead of the grocery stores.

Charles,   Cattails  aka  the  Wild asparagus,  

The folks that came over here to start a new life.  Were used to hard work, They did it everyday from childhood on up. They lived far closer to the ground than any of us do.

For any "back to nature" group to survive, they can't go that far back to nature, They have to bring with them things from the here and now and use them as well as the basics, Like seed saving, hand tillage, chickens, goats, one or two cows, and maybe just maybe a horse, for long distance travel.  Anyone wanting to do this better know how many plants growing on their land they can eat, becaue they will be doing a lot of hunting and gathering, as well as some farming, but nothing on the scale of even the smallest truck farms.  If they are doing all the work themselves.

Its possible, but you have to face the facts that you will be down to a 1,000 cal. diet/day on average and you need to know a heck of a lot more than they teach you in most schools.  

But saying it is possible only means it is possible for just so many people, no where near the 300 million we have living here today.  

Most school kida grow plants in the little cups, But they don't eat the plants growing in their front yards on a daily basis.  

I don't think it is going to be pretty when our technology begins to fail us due to lack of energy imputs,  be that from wars, depressions, lack of oil, or whatever.  

I am not a gloomly person by nature, but I also can't see this going on for another 20 years with out some sort of correction.

Ps,  I have taught myself which plants growing in my front lawn I can eat, where the plants in the area are that will at least give me a small meal are and many other useful things,  but even I would be hard pressed to do it forever, but it is possible.

Charles.  winter sorel great in salads,  high in vitamin C.