Open Thread

Please report any supergiant fields discovered over the weekend (especially the abiotic ones)...
I am curious how many TOD readers discus peak oil with their family, friends and colleagues, and what kind of reactions you get?  
I sometimes discuss it with my friends, but I get the feeling they are just humoring me by listening.  Though many of them were grateful when I warned them to fill up their tanks before Katrina hit.  

My sister believes in peak oil.  She went out and bought a hunting knife after I told her about it.  o_O  

My dad actually told me about oil depletion when I was a kid, and warned me about Malthus' Doom.  I was a cornucopian when I was a kid, sure that technology would always save us (and sure I would be part of the solution, probably winning a Nobel Prize along the way  ;-).  Now it's kind of reversed.  I fear the worst, but he doesn't seem too worried about it.  Maybe he figures he won't have to worry about it, since he's almost 70 years old.  Or maybe it's too depressing to consider at this point in his life, when he's living off his pension and has several medical issues typical of old age.  

lol I bought a Glock 23 and a Ka-bar after I found out about Peak Oil...

My mom beleives me, she's actually going to let me hook up some small 12volt mills on her property so i can start to figure that stuff out. She lives in the country and is my 'ace in the hole' for when the anarchy comes. ;)

My dad doesn't really know what to think, I made him watch The End of Suburbia and his only comment was 'That's just their opinion', and he wouldn't even read Twilight in the Desert. I'm sure he'll come to beleive more once he starts getting his heating bills this winter.

Most of my friends listen, and I think they understand it, but I dont think many of them think that it can happen. Although, atleast they think about me from time to time and send me nice cartoons for my desk like this one (its work safe) -

I've been very fortunate in that I've not had a problem convincing my immediate circle of friends about peak oil.

We have a little food co-op here that gets together monthly to order bulk. I've used this as an opportunity to talk and to pass around books on the subject.

My family hasn't been spectacularly involved in the issue, but they know about it and have not expressed any doubts. I have a niece (whom I showed End of Suburbia) who gave an oral presentation on peak oil in her college class.

The people I hang out with are all expressly liberal or Green. Many of us are cultural dropouts who are well prepared for whatever comes down the pike.

One friend has a sort of paganist camp. She invited me to speak on peak oil (I'm agnostic and have no interest in religions, pagan or otherwise). I sprang at the invite and was received very warmly.

A person in our coop has invited me to give a presentation on peak oil in her history class next semester. I've already talked to the professor about it and he seemed very interested.

Ironically enough, I've met a wall of indifference from our geology department (I work at the local Univ). I tried to stir something up, but their treatment was less than encouraging.

I talk with others, including at work. No one shares my extent of passion, however. I bet a coworker in June 2004 that gasoline would hit 4.00 (in CA) by June 2006. She thought I was ridiculous. Well. we'll see.
Should have said October 2006 instead of June 2006. October would be after the major hurricanes hitting the GoM next year.
oops i already bet 3 15kg gas bottles that the price on them would double by may 2006 :)

After having mild panic attacks by the forecast of blizzards this weekend, I found this intresting little peice on the met office website
     News release

Natural fluctuations can help predict climate change

21 November 2005

Predictions of future climate change have, until now, been based on simulations of the effects of increasing greenhouse gases. However, new results show we could learn more about climate in the next few decades by supplementing these with predictions of a natural climate cycle: the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO.

The AMO is a climate fluctuation which occurs over several decades, whose warm and cool phases can be traced back in global records dating from the 19th century. Its effects are centred on the North Atlantic Ocean, but it appears to influence many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Scientists have previously found links with European and North American climate, drought in the semi-arid African Sahel region, and the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes. Indeed, the record 2005 hurricane season is part of the very active last decade associated with the current warm AMO phase.

To test whether the AMO is a permanent feature of our climate, Met Office scientists, with colleagues in the United States, examined a 1,400-year climate model calculation. They discovered that not only could the AMO be accurately simulated by their model, but that it is a genuine long-lived climate oscillation.

The Met Office team then tried to link the AMO to variations in the strength of the thermohaline circulation (THC) -- the global ocean circulation driven by differences in the density of sea water -- and found that the next AMO transition may bring natural THC weakening, adding to that projected to occur as a result of human-induced climate change.

A paper, soon to be published in the American Geophysical Union's journal Geophysical Research Letters, highlights these recent breakthroughs, and recommends that shifts in the AMO are taken into account in future climate change predictions.

I first heard about peak oil in the spring of 1957 when my chemistry professor (in freshman chemistry class at Purdue Univ.) drew a Hubbart curve on the board and told us that we should expect to be affected by peak oil during our lifetimes.  This made a very big impression on me.  I became a chemistry professor myself and have always included a discussion of peak oil in all my freshman classes. I have had about 8000 students in the years since, and unfortunately, almost every one of them has slept through or ignored the information.  I don't know how to get it across.  I guess they just don't want to hear it.
that is depressing to hear. sleep in class? I'd at least set up a video of them sleeping in class and send it to their parents. To help explain why they failed your class. Maybe i am just a hard ass though.
I pick and choose whom I will talk about it with.  I can talk about it with my family, as they know I'm nuts and tolerate me.  They also know I'm sometimes right.  My dad understands the issues, but thinks things will not be as bad as the gloom and doom scenarios.  He believes there are always moderating influences.  But also, it's hard for him to imagine a world utterly different from that he's lived in all these years.  

I am careful about such "hot button" issues at work, where people have no choice but to be there with you & I don't want to be tiresome.  Somehow PO is too close to politics, and therefore taboo.  I have not yet figured why!  I discussed it at length the other day with one of my co-workers who I know has an open mind - he's dealt with me on medical issues where I also have unconventional views (which he largely agrees with).  His reaction was somewhat cool, but I know he will watch and digest what I said, and he may come back later if things seem to be going as I described.  But most people think technology will save the day, if they think about it at all.

But I do sense a growing feeling of gloom about the future from a lot of people.  For most it is un-quantified, but there nonetheless.  People are worried and potentially very angry.  I'm expecting to see some serious political manifestations of this soon, and I'm wondering if there is some way to channel this into doing something productive about energy conservation / alternate sources.  I have no idea how.  Perhaps if it is shown that the Iraq war really was about oil, you might not be looked at like you have a third eye when you talk about PO!

My co-worker bought a book and started researching!  Hot dang!
I wrote 2 email letters to friends and family. I also weave in bits about sustainability and oil prices and other little facts that might help them connect the dots.
So what have been the reactions from your family and friends?

Were these open letters or did you actually send/email them to family and friends?

Oh I actually wrote a mass email.

Some wrote email back saying I was over-reacting or that I had it backwards - prices go up and then people conserve as a result. Some others wrote very encouraging notes but didn't quite embrace the peak oil concept, but more general ideas about saving the environment. Mostly I got no reaction at all...

I discovered Peak Oil when my father-in-law referred me to Matt Savinar's site.

I immediately went into full doom and gloom mode and started trying to tell everybody we knew about it.

The reactions have ranged from belief with amazement to derision and anger.

It is a very difficult topic to approach and now I tend to be cautious about sharing it.

My opinion now is that I have told my immediate circle of family and friends and if they don't believe then that's up to them. I've done my bit, as it were. If they chose to ignore it, then that's their choice.  But I do keep sending my immediate family little snippets of news via email (like last week's news of the Burgan field).  I put "Peak Oil News" in the subject line so that they can delete it if they want to.

I put together a powerpoint presentation a couple of months ago that I presented at work one lunchtime.  The few people that turned up were very sceptical, but a couple were genuinely interested.  I also did the presentation one night in the school hall, but only three people turned up who were all sympathetic to the subject, so it was easy for me.  If anyone would like a copy of my slides, I'd gladly email them to you.  Send a request to duncan (at) clear dot net dot nz.

Obviously there's a reason for your question.  Have you had great success telling people you know?

I asked the question because it was very difficult for me to talk to my parents about it.  I am weary of playing the role of Cassandra (from the Iliad).  They believed me but asked me to stop talking about it after I started pointing out  how utterly dependent we are on oil.   My sister just thinks Im crazy, which I might be ;-)  but mostly I think the ramifications are just to painful for her to thing about.  Most of my friends are aware of PO and try to live as sustainable as posable.
Somehow I manage to weave it in conversations sometimes, even though I never think I'll be bringing it up ahead of time. Recently I was telling a group of about 10 people about my "interest in this issue of oil depletion" and how how much I'd researched it. They all thought it was plausible, although I don't think it had the immediate impact that would send them home to go read more about it. But as one person was leaving, she asked me what I'm doing with all of this information. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell her that I write for TOD--that I'm working to educate people--because she's at my university and I just can't afford for that information to get around. But every day we get a few new accounts created, and nearly 6000 unique readers a day, so I think there must be growing awareness of the issues.

My biggest problem is reminding myself that Peak Oil is not just an intellectual exercise--that it's going to have a real impact on how I live my everyday life sometime in the near future. It's so easy to forget that.

Having read all the literature over the last few years on PO, there is much to tell family and friends. Unfortunately the ramifications of PO are too horrific to think about for many. It is so far remote from their everyday lives.

People cannot handle any pain or even trivial inconvenience.

As part of a weekend PO exercise. I walked to the mall. I live on top of a large hill and the mall is nearly a mile way at the bottom of the hill. The road is very steep easy walking down. It even has a 3 ton vehicle limit. Coming up is another thing. I carried my groceries in a backpack up it. No car and I am in good physical condition as I walk every day for near an hour. When you take the car it's an easy few minutes drive with your foot on the brake. Coming up most cars have to change down to keep a consistent speed.

I can tell you my muscles and heart were heaving , so I can only imagine what it would be like for some one on the obsese side to do the same. Many of them were walking around the mall eating fried food and burgers.

My point is when the easy life is no longer easy, It will be easier to complain than change. Unfortunately it will take many by surprise.

Our way of life is so oilcentric, it is near impossible for many to think of. It is certainly not warm confortable or cheap. It involves hard work and hard choices.

I drive around in my Toyota Corolla with a sign in my back window:

          Peak Oil
A Turning Point for Humanity

My family all think that science will save us.  <sigh>

Rick DeZeeuw

My own custom-made bumpersticker says:

"Death, Taxes, and

Ironicaly if we do not TAX oil now, we may soon see a lot of DEATH.
I bring it up.  Others don't want to even think about it or contemplate it.  I also bring up the environmental issues of burning this stuff, etc.  They don't want to hear about it or talk about.  They just stick their heads in the sand and hope things stay just the way they are forever and ever..

"Oil will never run out."

"Cars don't pollute that bad."

I've spoken with people about this for years. It is such a complex problem most people can't grasp it. Complex in the sense that we can't pin it down to an exact date and there is no clear solution.

The biggest problem with this is human psychology. People are not real good at dealing with very long term problems, especially when they are diffuse. Recall how hard it was for many people to accept that freons were destroying the ozone layer. Recall how people were in a panic to get flu shots last year and then as the peak of the flu season passed we wound up with unused vaccine. How do we ask people to prepare for a time in the indefinite future when we won't have cheap oil?

Another issue is that there is no obvious solution. Historically we've progressed from wood to coal to oil (and somewhat to nuclear). There is no step up available. The next step will be a huge change in how we organize our society. Since we've organized till now based on nearly free energy the change will be painful.

I first realized something was up in the mid 80's after reading lots of books on the environment.  At the time I was just studying what I wanted to at the local big state University.  I already knew a lot of the things that have formed my opinions, that some of you folks have read.

 Right around the beginning of 2002 I finally had a computer again so my reading took the turn back to favorite subjects and bang!

 I have stopped trying to warn my family, They either don't want to see the end ( to old and to set it our ways) or they think as a lot of folks I talk to that ( the world will solve it cause we have to, and look at the technology we have ).

 We are all faced with the Status Quo.  That chunk of human nature that says if it is not broken don't fix it.  We refuse to see the drip in the tub because it has not run over the edge yet!  All the while drip by drip we run up our water bills.


Is this article accurate?

The Infeasibility of Rebuilding New Orleans

Can the land really drop 20-60 ft. due to extraction of natural gas?

No the article is not accurate.  Some of the statements are absolutely wrong.  The "wall of water" that hit the Lower Ninth Ward was due to the large areal failure of the floodwall that was struck by a barge, pulling both piling and concrete overcapping out of the wall and carrying them, still together, into the city.  This released a sudden flood of water that destroyed the houses out about 5 blocks and dislodged houses out about 10 blocks. This is different from the flooding that was caused by the overtopping, and the localized damage around the other floodwall failures.
"Can the land really drop 20-60 ft. due to extraction of natural gas".  Generally no.  By and large, the weight of the overburden above an oil or gas reservoir is carried by the rock grains, not the fluid between the grains, and thus doesn't change.  There are exceptions, were the reservoir is overpressured to the point of carrying part of the overburden, but they are isolated.  Also, generally the reservoir is left full of fluid (eg water).  I think the article is interesting, but it's sloppy in places that I happen to know about, so it's hard to know how much to trust the information I don't know about.
There were problems in Los Angeles when a large, shallow oil and gas field was tapped. I don't think that this is a problem in New Orleans.
By far the worst soil subsidence problems are caused when you have clay and you pump out all the fresh water so that salt water flows in. Clay that has fresh water is much less compact than clay that has salt water. When New Orleans and Venice pumped out the fresh water under the city, salt water flowed in and caused compaction.
This is the same problem with Coal Bed Methane depressurisation. To get the methane out you have to depressurise the coal by pumping out the water, which is usually salt. This turns the soil downstream into gumbo which the farmers do not appreciate.
I just came back from a scientific conference about SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar). One company was using Interferometric SAR to help oil company in monitoring oil fields subsidence in california. Observed displacements were about 20-30 cm, enough to dislodge pipelines.
My understanding of the problem of land subsiding in that area relative to surrounding land is that it is due to the lack fresh soils being deposited.  Once you build a city on it and surround it with walls, the river cannot continually bring new material downriver and cover the land with new soil.  I suppose that in order for this to make sense, the area must be natually "sinking" to begin with.  Anybody able to explain it better and further?
Yeah. You dump dirt someplace, it weighs down the land and makes it sink. So does ice. In fact, the Baltic Ocean is busy turning back into a river and Hudson Bay is turning back into dry land because the glaciers have melted and there isn't a mile of ice on top of them anymore. It's called isostatic rebound or something. In the Gulf of Bothnia it's a quarter of an inch every year! You can see skerries come up out of the ocean in your lifetime.
This is a sneak peak at Part Four of a long fictional account of a group of people, primarily in California, living the good life of perpetually increasing debt.

A Sneak Preview - Part 4: Helicopter Commander
by Jim Puplava
Storm Watch Update:  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3
November 18, 2005


There would come a day that would be unlike any other day. There would be an event unlike any other event. It would precipitate a crisis unlike any other crisis before it. It would emerge out of nowhere at a time no one would expect. It would be an event that no one anticipated--a crisis the experts didn't foresee. It would be an exogenous event--a rogue wave.

When the crisis arrived it caught market participants by surprise. Its arrival was swift and unexpected. Losses hit every sector. The devastation was encyclopedic in its breadth and utterly cataclysmic in its destruction. A financial nuclear chain reaction had been set in motion that rippled across every market and reached into every corner of the globe. It shook the very foundations of the global financial system leaving fear and destruction in its wake.

Thanks for posting this.  I've been following this serial with interest.  Been a long time between chapters.
Check out this weird editorial. Its start's out bashing Bush(and no I don't want this to turn into a Bush bashing thread) but then the article goes off on a tangent about innovation. Perhaps there's a hint of peak oil in the meaning but I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

He must restore a sense of national mission -- a shared sense among Americans that they are part of a great undertaking that will make the future better.

And what should that great undertaking be? To free the world of dependence on petroleum and in the process establish America as the unchallenged leader in the science and technology of the post-petroleum era.

The president should initiate the modern equivalent of the Manhattan Project -- an all-out national effort to achieve breakthroughs that will ensure America's preeminence in the energy technology of the future.

Again with the technology will save the world!!

Sounds like Lou Dobbs (of CNN).  He believes we need to launch a program like the space program in the '60s, to solve our energy issues.  Encourage children to go into the field, build it up so "energy researcher" is as glamorous as astronauts used to be, pour federal funding into it, etc.
I think the nation should do this too.  No, it may not be in time, but what is the alternative?  In the future, I think we should strive for a smaller popluation living in better harmony with the planet.  But any responsible government must take care of the citizens it has now, and this means a major effort to develop ways to conserve and find alternative sources.
I just discovered a SuperGiant non/Abiotic field over the weekend At Stuart's
Friday OpenThread.

With the equivalent  of over 4,000,000 BTU's of SunLight Energy falling on the average American roof each Sunny Day,I hearby Proclaim the Largest Energy Discovery this Weekend!Equivalent of 75 SuperTankers of oil if converted to Electric KWHR (1 KWHR=3814 BTU )for 100,000,000 American Houses.

And futhermore a Minor SuperGiant Field exists in the Attic of each of those Blessed Dwellings

A BTU reservoir of approx  400,000 (at temps up to 135 -165 deg F)literally Begs to be harvested for domestic household uses in each
attic.Raw conversion to Nat Gas would be worth
$4.80 or $15.73 (in KWHR @ $0.15)in Electricity per Sunny Day.

You might want to read Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil by Dr. David Goodstein.  He's a physicist at CalTech, and as you might expect, he takes a thermodynamic view of it.   He actually crunches the numbers, and figures out how many solar panels, nuclear plants, wind turbines, etc., it would take to replace oil.  

There's an interview with him here:

Basically, the problems come with scaling up and with the basics of thermodynamics.  It takes a lot of energy to make solar panels and nuclear power plants, and you cannot achieve 100% efficiency due to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.  Some of the sunlight that falls on your panel will be wasted due to this unavoidable inefficiency.  Even if we covered every roof in America with solar panels, it wouldn't replace the energy we get from oil.  And it would consume a lot of time and energy and resource to build that kind of massive infrastructure.

We should have started in the '70s, when we got our first warning.  But we didn't, and it may be too late now.  

Goodstein is both more optimistic and more pessimistic than most peak oilers.  He thinks that if we start NOW and go all out, with everything we have - the national effort we put into WWII and the space program put together - we might be able build enough solar panels, wind turbines, and nuclear power plants to avoid catastrophe.  (And it will have to be all three.  One or two alone won't do it.)  

But he also worries that if we take the easy route - burn more coal instead - we could tip the earth into "a condition incompatible with life" with a runaway "Venus effect."

Unfortunately none of those solutions address the issue of providing liquid fuel for transportation needs.
We could do some plug-in hybrids, but we're going to need a lot more electricity if that's the only solution we apply. At a minimum more solar and wind will offset the enormous increase in emissions from oil sands/shale.
What about the French MDI Air Car
Does anyone have know if it is in commercial production and how much energey it takes to comppress the air?  
Has been discussed extensively on It's a thermodynamic looser, takes a lot of energy to compress the air.
I was intrigued with the MDI but I thought his air motor was more complicated than neccesary. I also did some calculations on how much air it would take to power a small car 20 miles with a 10 hp power level. After number crunching I arrived at 16 lbs of air per hp-hr (10 kg/kwh)
which compares well with the steam cars of the 1920s.  Stationary compressed air systems are about 75% efficient so you would only get 12 lbs of air from a 1hp compressor each hour.  
After briefly reviewing the MDI website, my understanding of concept is that the MDI car is a sort of hybrid, but instead of using an internal combustion engine  to recharge batteries to run electric motors, the MDI system instead uses an IC engine to compress air which is then stored and run back through the engine as required by demand or operating load.

It is not obvious to me which is a more efficient means of usable energy storage: batteries or a tank of compressed air.

One inherent problem with the compressed air system is the energy losses due to the heat of compression when filling the storage tank. Another is the cooling of the compressed air as it is throttled through the engine, thus reducing its pressure and hence effectiveness. This, by the way, was a problem in air-driven torpedos of WW II vintage, many of which were equipped with alcohol-fired heaters to help maintain pressure  of the air going through the  turbines and thus extend the range of the torpedo.

 Based on what I know about those torpedos, I'm a bit dubious about concept. A large torpedo weighed roughly about the same as a small car,  had a high-pressure compressed air tank that took up about half the internal volume, yet only had a range of  something considerably less than 10 miles (depending on speed).

Then of course we have the issue of driving around with a large tank of high-pressure compressed gas, which is capable of releasing a tremendous amount of destructive energy in the event of an accident.

Utility scale use of compressed air is being practiced in a few places with the right geology. An electric based wind system has the inherent disadvantage I'd call the square/cube limit. As the turbine speed increases its voltage increases while system resistance stays the same. Amps then increase the same as volts. Volts times amps=watts. Watts increase according to the square of wind speed but the energy density of the wind increases with the cube of wind speed. As wind speed doubles watts collected increases 4 times but wind energy increases 8 times leaving half the energy unconverted. A multi-stage air compressor with the first stage being a centrifugal turbine causes the mass of air compressed to increase at the cube of the wind speed thereby converting the half missed by a generator. At least that's my theory. I have no knowledge of it ever being tried.
My field is power systems and we might have to make do with less electricity in the future not more. The central station AC model is creaking at the seems. We used to have 'gold plated' power systems designed by engineers for reliability, with plenty of excess generation and transmission capacity. Liberalization revealed just how expensive that system had become and brought relentless pressure to bear in order to bring costs down. Power systems run much closer to the wire than they used to now they are controlled by accountants instead of engineers.

Blocks of synchronized AC have become extremely large, partially in order to allow large areas to share much smaller amounts of excess capacity. However faults can propagate across the network extremely rapidly and can affect millions of people as on August 14th 2003. Transmission construction (and maintenance) hasn't kept pace with what the market reforms were trying to achieve because no one wants to carry the cost.

Where I live power supply is often stretched to the limit. There are regular conservation appeals and occasional emergency voltage reductions. Rotating blackouts would be the next step, although it hasn't come to that yet. The system is buried in stranded debt and the government continues to subsidize the price of power for poitical reasons. The private sector doesn't want to build new generation capacity for fear of political interference (justifiably based on previous experience). The public sector wants to build it, but can't realistically afford to do so.

The nuclear generating fleet is old and far less reliable than initially hoped. Every attempt to refurbish it turns into a black hole for public funds. The government - determined to retain centralized control - seeks to solve the problems by entangling the whole sector in even more red tape. Legislation covering renewables seems designed to provide a ceiling for renewable generation rather than a floor for fear of the loss of control inherent in distributed generation.

The problems experienced here are not unique to this area. The central station model requires huge plants capable of frequency management and expensive transmission capacity. It is becoming more and more difficult to afford to provide electricity in this manner, especially as a public service where differential costs of provision are not covered. The price of power is set to skyrocket at huge personal cost to many poorer people. Electricity here, and elsewhere, is a ticking time bomb of a political issue.

I suspect we may have hit peak electricity as well as peak oil and gas, rounding out the crisis of substitutability. A decentralized system based on local provision wouldn't be able to deliver power at anything like the same level, especially in outlying areas. Efficiency can do a lot to get demand down in order to make do with much less supply, at a price of course, but that wouldn't leave any spare capacity for switching to electricity from other energy sources.

Biomass could be used for things like airplanes.  We could probably run most other vehicles off electricity of some sort, or replace them with something else. (Nuclear trains?)  Goodstein has a lot of faith in technology.  The example he uses are LEDs, which started out being so energy intensive they weren't practical.  Now they are used in everything from flashlights to traffic lights, and most of us never noticed.  

I am not as optimistic, perhaps because I'm a transportation engineer with more practical, hands-on experience than a CalTech physicist likely has.  We rolled so much of our post-WWII wealth into our cars and our highway system. An advantage we no longer have.

A lot of our roads and bridges were built under the Highway Act in the '50s and '60s.  They were designed with 30 to 40 year lifespans.  We figured we'd just build bigger and better ones when they wore out.  It never occurred to us that money would ever be an issue in the future.  You look at the old blueprints, and you can just see how good times were, and how limitless "progress" seemed back then.  One job I worked on had these huge embankments built, in the middle of nowhere, with no function I could see.   According to the blueprints, they were built with the idea that one day soon we'd be building a new bridge across the Hudson River.  Well, 50 years later, people are still using the old bridge.  Building a new bridge would be nigh impossible.  (We put a park and ride lot on top of those embankments, in hopes of reducing traffic across the old bridge.)

Anyway...we haven't built like that since the '60s.  Is it a coincidence that our infrastructure binge ended when we hit peak oil in 1970?  Somehow, I doubt it.    

The unaffordability of public works projects is bogus tripe that is put out by the right wing.  They never say war is unaffordable even with their no taxes on the rich agenda. Public work projects are just about the only good paying blue collar jobs left. That is until they figure out how to ship Chinese bridges to America.
I am definitely not part of the right wing, but I have to say...public works projects are increasingly unaffordable.  Partly, it's that we don't have the kind of resources we used to.  It was a sea change, when we went from oil exporter to oil importer.  And partly, it's Tainter's "diminishing returns" at work.  

When we built the Interstate system in the '50s, most of it was in the middle of nowhere.  You look at the blueprints, and the survey markers are things like apple trees and Farmer Brown's chicken coop.  The survey data was accurate to plus or minus 10 feet, because that was good enough.

Now, plus or minus 10 feet could mean the difference between taking someone's house or not.  We don't have the wide open spaces to build roads any more.  And it's become a huge PITA to maintain the roads we have, because we are so dependent on them. We've got twice the number of cars driving on the roads as we expected (mainly because women went to work), as well as trucks huger than anything the original designer ever imagined.  So we can't close roads to rebuild them without causing massive traffic jams and ticking off the driving public.  

I'm with Leanan on this one. I'm not part of the right wing either, but major public works are becoming less affordable. The power sector where I live is some $40 billion in debt. It's writing off old power plants it hasn't even paid for yet, while subsidizing power consumption at record levels. The government pays lip service to conservation, efficiency and renewable generation while trying to address the problem only from the supply side with tradition megaprojects at public expense.

A new fleet of nukes (with new transmission infrastructure because they can't be built near to centres of demand) will be unbelievably expensive to finance, but institutional inertia (sclerosis?) has set in and the powers that be can't seem to be able to contemplate another way of doing things. An insistence on tackling problems in the most expensive way possible is a large part of the affordability problem.

But why is military spending always affordable?
It's not, actually.  

The rightwingers are griping that Clinton balanced the budget by "gutting the military."  But now it's Rumsfeld who is trying to cut military spending.  He was pushing to shrink the military even while Iraq was heating up.  One of his ideas: force everyone in the military into combat positions, and have all the non-combat positions - cooks, clerks, etc. - filled by consultants.  That way, we could hire and fire at will, and we wouldn't have to pay them veteran's benefits.  

I got through college on an Air Force ROTC scholarship.  I was supposed to serve 4 years after graduation.  Instead, I (and everyone else in my class) got an honorary discharge.  Why?  The military couldn't afford to pay our salaries after the Reagan budget cuts.

I want to look harder into the what the National Biomass lab guy was claiming at the conference - that they can supply a sizeable fraction of our liquid fuel needs.  It's a very attractive idea from a climate stabilization perspective.  However, there was a front page article in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday touting pellet stoves for heating - the suppliers are backed up for months.  Somehow it seems like we will simultaneously start to try to replace both NG for heat and oil for transport with biomass, and we'll run into peak soil and peak water pretty fast, as well as putting up the cost of food a lot.  But I haven't done the research and analysis to be able to substantiate this suspicion.
Sounds familiar.  Our pellet guy is flat out of smaller stoves, but I saw a few basement furnaces in his warehouse.  He says he's getting a shipment Dec. 7th, all of which are already sold, and has borrowed heavily to have lots of product on hand for next season.

The pellets are made from sawdust leftover from sawmills, so they really are a good use of something that would be landfill otherwise.  But if demand for pellets exceeds the sawdust created, or if sawmill operations decline, prices will rise dramatically and some of us will have to burn something else.

One of the most interesting comments made at the conference with regard to biomass was done almost as a throw-away: what happens if oil stays at $70/barrel and US farmers find it more profitable to "grow fuel" than to grow food? We clearly need to be thinking more about peak energy overall, and how things are likely to evolve in that light.
Agricultural biogas digesters allow farmers to grow food and fuel and a substitute for artificial fertilizer. Dairy and swine farmers can convert the sunk cost of manure handling into an asset - providing for their own electricity and heating needs and selling power onto the grid.
What about saving NatGas in homes ( by solar conversion)and using it to generate more electricity thereby freeing up more oil for the Transportation Sector?

Basicly we humans can change quickly but it remains to be seen whether our Institutions can change enough in time!

He is wrong, because he is not an engineer. Sure, we need to make lots of solar power capacity, but we don't have to build silicon, we can build concentrators, which are much less energy intensive. Labor intensive, though.
Engineers understand substitution effects. Scientists don't. Economists understand substitution effects but don't understand science, or technology, or engineering.

 the amount of waste in this system is astronomicly and unbelievably uncoprehendable by the average soul

Since his prediction is for the peak is this Thursday, has anyone heard where Deffeyes might be making media appearances?

I suppose it's too much to hope for a spot on Larry King...

I dunno, but I think Deffeyes might turn out to be wrong.  Thanks to Katrina and Rita, the peak may have been last spring.
Well I am still searching for some provisional answers to the question of what the lag time is between Peak and knowledge of Peak. As opposed to predictions of when it has or will ocurred.  How would one know if the Spring was Peak?  What would be the basis for that assertion?  Is the lost GOM production sufficient to cause that great a shift.  And finally, has Deffeyes revised his prediction?
You probably wouldn't know for sure until several years after the peak.  If production keeps doing down, we'll know we're past peak.  The peak would then be the month with the highest world oil production, which is now April 2005 (I believe).

I think the lost GOM production may be enough.  Some of it will never come back.  Some is just delayed...but that's enough.  People who are predicting that production will keep rising are betting that new projects coming online can make up for the decline of existing wells.  If those new projects are delayed, that won't happen.  Like Prudhoe Bay for U.S. production, they'll put a bump in the downslope, but won't be enough to raise production to a new peak.

As for Deffeyes...he was on TV fairly recently, still sticking with his Thanksgiving prediction.    

In fairness, his Thanksgiving prediction was for the peak of the smoothed fitted logistic.  He's always been clear that noise could mean actual peak production could be several years away from that.
That's right, at the moment, April's average daily production of  84,658,000 barrels is the highest ever and has been slightly less since according to EIA tables. The August figure of 84,286,000 is the most recent number they have to compare it to.
By the way, Katrina didn't hit till the last week of August so doesn't account for this except for a small bit in August, not at all for the months preceeding. We haven't seen the effect of the hurricanes on the numbers yet.
As far as I got it Thanksgiving is just a symbolic prediction (to thank the Nature for the credit given).

It does not really matter if it is April 2005, Thanksgiving 2005 or even Labor Day, 2007. In terms of planning the peak is now, or at best tomorrow. For the third world countries the peak was yesterday... we should also thank them for providing us with several more years to guzzle around.

I find it more and more probable that a severe recession is around the corner and this will kill both the oil price and the search for alternatives.

What would happen if the world were to start running out of oil? Conventional wisdom says we've got 30 years, but there's a growing fear amongst petroleum experts it's happening much sooner than we thought - that we are hitting the beginning of the end of oil now. So how soon will the oil run out, and can we stop our economy collapsing when it does? How prepared are we for the real oil crisis?

just found this, let the panic buying begin! make sure to fill your tanks. plus some.

Aircraft, semi's, and container ships can run off bio diesel, and/or alcohol.

Cars and trucks can be battery powered.

I see this comment about aircraft running off biofuels fairly frequently. Is this true, is there enough burn in these fuels to run a jet engine?

Are we talking about refitting the entire aircraft fleet, military and civilian?


Jet engines can in theory burn any liquid hydrocarbons with minor adjustments of the control system and perhaps burners and pumps.

In practice they need to bee free of substances that can clog the pipes and they need to be able to lubricate the pumps and in some cases double as hydraulic fluid but I think that is fairly uncommon.  

The biggest problem is to get enough volumes regularly delivered to enough airfield for it to be a workable. That gets easier if it is mixable and intrechangeable with regular jet kerosene.

Wonder if the future of air travel will be giant jumbo jets wich are fairly fuel efficient with feeder trafic to them by train and small fuel efficient turboprops.


This will be from an Australian perspective.

Its certainly one of the first steps about talking about PO here.

They should have the package in Broadband later in the week. It goes on TV. Thursday night.

Look forward to watching it.

If its any good I will email Stuart to put it up on the site.

Does anyone know how I can order a CD of the proceedings
of the Denver meeting?
In making the transition from fossil fuel to alternative energy (e.g., solar, wind, wave power, biomass, etc) a major unavoidable problem is that a not-insignificant amount of fossil fuel must be expended in building these systems and their related infrastructure.

 For example, when you install solar panels on your house, in the short term you are actually increasing instead of decreasing fossil fuel consumption due to the fact that it takes some time for the energy saved to equal the energy input assoicated with the manufacture and installation of the solar panels. The last time I looked (and that, admittedly, was quite a few years ago), this 'energy payback' period was several years, depending on the type of system and the assumptions one uses.

This is not to say that we shouldn't try to move toward alternative energy, but it underlines the fact that we must do so while there is still some slack in the fossil fuel situation so that we can make that increased investment in fossil fuel energy necessary for alternative energy systems to become a reality.

If we wait until the fossil fuel situation becomes truly dire, then it will be all but impossible to make the transition. The analogy is that of a person waiting till he's almost broke before he decides to go into a new business. Chances are he won't be able to do it. Or to put it in thermodynamic terms, we can't wait until the entropy of our system becomes too great to overcome.

There is no entropy.
The invisible hand, the intelligent design and Santa Claus killed that long time ago. It's none of my business, my problems are bigger... where to spend the holidays, for instance?
Energy payback times for solar cells and windmills have dropped by an order of magnitude in the last fifteen years. It's dropping off for crystal silicon solar cells as they get more efficient, but continuing for thin film and organic.
 I have very little trouble with PO, mainly because I live in Mendocino Co, Cal, and a PO/Sustainability movement has been going on here for a year...

Willits getting attention for taking sustainability seriously
by Claudia Reed

The work of turning the Willits area into a community where necessities are produced and consumed locally has been attracting national attention:

  • In June, participants at a national economic localization conference in Great Barrington, Mass. knew all about the Willits effort.

  • In mid-August the Willits Economic LocaLization (WELL) group made the front page of the North Bay Bohemian under the banner Peakocolypse Now! a reference to the arrival of peak oil, the maximum amount that can be extracted affordably.

  • At the end of August, an article on the subject in The Willits News was reprinted on the website of the national Energy Bulletin:



  Bradford began this last Nov by holding public showings of "The End of Suburbia" several times. Layatonville began a few months later. We've both been holding town meetngs on at least a monthly basis.
 I've also been able to convince other friends by burning and distributing EOS. Most effective. Also started a discussion thread on Silicon Investor which has changed a few minds.

  How seriously is it taken here? Some folks (not the Rat) are starting to save acorns and are learning how to process them.



This has been a good thread. People talk about how they express their concerns to others about Peak Oil.

I have given up talking to people about oil unless an unusual set of circumstances arise to justify it. In my family, I am just considered crazy and obsessive compulsive about the topic. Maybe that is partly true. At work or elsewhere the danger of being judged a kook is too great. No one wants to hear bad news. Common human nature is to shoot the messenger and thus make the problem "go away".

Peak Oil is just one of numerous problems that threatens the exponentially growing human population. The Club of Rome was right in the 1970's and we all laughed at them. Well most of us did --simply because we did not understand what "doubling time" meant. And after all, "seeing is believing" --there was lots of empty land all around back then.

One of my favorite lines in Kevin Costner's movie, "Dances With Wolves" is where he says, "I want to see the frontier sir, before it is all gone." Kids born today have no concept of a time when ocean waters were clean and teaming with fish, the air was fresh and breathable, and you could run off to the "country" to find a quiet spot where the sound of an automobile or another human being was not to be heard.

We are now entering the last phase of the Petri dish experiment, where the population doubles once again, and the 49% empty dish becomes full to beyond capacity (to 102% of the sustaining space & resources being consumed by the doubled population; 51%x2=102%). Sad --and apparently unstoppable.

And don't forget that Rush thinks 15 bil
sheeples can make it on this strip of Asphalt
StepBack -

I'm kind of in agreement.

If you were to simply remove China from the face of the earth, many problems would disappear. Likewise, if you were to remove the US, other problems would disappear. But the reason that things would get better is population reduction and associated decline in resource demand. Whoever is left will grow to take up the slack, and then we would be right back where we are.

I think that Liebig may be right - it may be that we have to hit the resource wall and be forced into adjustment in spite of our larger brains.

Ethanol will work to replace gasoline, from economic and societal perspective. It's a straight ahead swap for a cleaner fuel. Biodiesel will also work. Solar concentrators will work. But without concurrent reduction in personal automobiles, nothing will work. Strapping any appreciable amount of additional electric demand on our current infrastructure will crash it. Energy prices rising will cripple the current working economies across the world in a very short period of time.

The problem isn't that we cannot switch to something else - it's that we cannot continue to consume as we do and switch to anything else. We are at the end of cheap energy, i.e. oil and natural gas.

It's going to have to be a fundamental shift. We will need to think about and use and save energy the same way we think about and use and save money today. Energy will be worth much more money to us in the near future, taking a much bigger slice of our economic wherewithall.

When it comes down to heating your home and cooking your dinner or driving the car, the car will rust in the garage. But IMO, it will have to come that far down in order to become the highest priority in the life of every American. Right now, our way of life is "non-negotiable", and that means we are driving towarss the recource depeltion wall at full throttle. A crash is inevitable.

The mess is very sad but suffering is our only hope IMO.  Immense suffering is the only way that people will wake up to the harsh realities of our choices.  We have created many material technological wonders, but have totally neglected social technology.   What makes it so scary for me is the lack of social ties that were vitial to our survival before we discovered cheep energy.   In the past people depended on each other, their spouses their elders and children.  Cheep energy has broken those bonds.  I think we will revert to older social patterns with time, but the current population of the US is hardwired for individual autonomy and freedom, so initial cooperation after a great catastrophe will be difficult.   It does seem that our human nature asserts itself in the short term and we do have empathy for the suffering of fellow humans in the immediate aftermath of events like hurricane Katrina and the 911 attacks, but those sympathies seem to quickly fade.   Social technology is what we desperately need, and re-localization efforts are a step in the right direction.
I largely agree with all you have said, but the implications of this are very disheartening.

If we don't act fast to mitigate the effects of peak oil (and we certainly aren't at the moment), there will be suffering. The suffering will occur mainly because we have high expectations without enough resources to fulfil them. Key deficits will occur in energy, jobs, personal money and corporate and government capital.

Without sufficient resources, either personal or corporate/government, how can we build the more efficient infrastructure we need? If we do get to the point of real suffering, it will be a lot harder to fix the causes of the suffering.

Has anyone else looked at the "Joint Oil Data Intitiative" global date just put out?  Very curious information - perhaos I'm missing something. For example, the data given for OPEC output for the first 9 months of 2005 are (thousand barrels/day):
Jan 27,988
Feb 28,544
Mar 28,972
Apr 28,863
May 25,726
Jun 21,360
Jul 20,358
Aug 19,418
Sep 17,928

If these numbers are real, the output decline is astonishing. Anyone have any insight as to what's going on, or if I'm misreading something?

In review, I see this is mostly due to Venezuela reporting only through May so far, and UAE only reporting through July. Iran missed June (as I recall), but has all the other mos. Still seems like a decline - I'll have to spend more time looking at the numbers.
As described by Wagoner, GM's product plan includes a heavy emphasis on what it sees as "the products most important to the market and to us": crossovers, compact and luxury SUVs, large pickups and SUVs and entry-level luxury cars.

Some folks just won't learn.

GM clearly doesn't want to learn. But, those that don't, don't survive. GM is well on its way.  Luckily, this leaves toyota and honda, two companies ahead of the curve. Imagine our difficulty if we only had GM.
GM's inspired foresight is truly awesome.

Suddenly, it's 1975!

Nationalize them, get rid of the management, and convert the design and manufactuing facilites to make alternate anergy and other needed infrastructure, like trains.  We did it once to make bombers and tanks (well, we kept the management), we can do it again.  A resource like that should not be wasted just because the small minded people running it now make stupid decisions.  
Good point. Many factories were built or expanded because corporation coerced local and state governments into granting tax breaks into the belief taxes on good paying jobs would make up the difference. Taxpayers in a sense payed for a big percentage of these closed factories so the states should exercise eminent domain and confiscate them at the price of the taxes avoided.
The Fallacy of Abiotic Oil

   There is currently a mild debate between the biological origin of petroleum and geologic or abiotic origins of petroleum.  The accepted, mainstream idea that petroleum resulting from the pressurized decay of biological material over the last 250 million years has resulted in the discovery and extraction of nearly a trillion barrels of oil over the last 150 years.  The contrarian's abiotic theory that oil has its origins from geologic processes happening deep within the earth, has resulted in the drilling of one very deep dry hole in Sweden plus the extraction of the same trillion barrels that the abiotic theorists say came from geological processes.  Peak Oil is the theory proposed by M. King Hubbert in 1956 that the rate of oil production in a finite province will follow a bell-shaped curve, growing to a peak followed by somewhat a symmetric decline

   In mathematics, one can prove or disprove certain theorems by throwing out an assumption and following its implications to their logical conclusion and see what falls out.  In using this logical process, I hope to demonstrate that Peak Oil is not only supported equally well by the theory of biological origins and abiotic origins but will happen sooner under the theory of abiotic origins of petroleum.

   Now, let's establish some assumptions that we can all agree on:

Assumption I.  Under either abiotic or biological origins, it takes a long time to produce oil so let's assume that in 1850, when the oil industry began, there was approximately 2 Trillion barrels of oil in the ground between 7,000 and 15,000 feet deep where successful oil drilling normally occurs.

Assumption II.  At some point in the distant past, no petroleum existed on the earth.  In the case of biological origins, this Zero Point was around 250 million years ago when the plants and dinosaurs began to flourish and provide the biological material for the oil.  In the case of abiotic origins, the zero point was about 4 billion years ago when the earth cooled and the geologic processes began that would eventually bring us to the point where we are now.  

   The two assumptions above would seem to be agreeable to both camps.  The actual zero point for either one could be adjusted by a few hundred million years but whatever the assumed zero point would be, they would remain in the same neighborhood.

   In a dynamic fluid system such as the petroleum system, there is a production rate and an extraction rate.  Over the last 150 years, the extraction rate has followed a reasonably linear path from 0 to 80 million barrels per day.  This would seem to imply the need for some difficult mathematics but let's move on to Assumption III and see it that is required.

Assumption III.  The Production Rate for both Abiotic and Biologic have been relatively constant from the Zero Point to 1850 was constant and has continued to the present.  In the case of Biologic Origins, this is probably not a valid assumption but for the purposes of this discussion and the time frames involved, it can hold.  In the case of Abiotic Origins, the conditions for production have existed on a geologic time scale and can be assumed to have been steady state for most of the 4 billion years.

   Now, let's compute those production rates.  

  Biologic Origins:

Production Rate = Barrels in 1850/Time of Production

2,000,000,000,000 barrels divided by 250,000,000 years
=  8.000 barrels/year

So, the rate of production for Biologic Origins is about 8,000 barrels a year.  Now let's look at Abiotic Origins.

2,000,000,000,000 barrels divided by 4,000,000,000 years
=  500 barrels/year

Those are interesting numbers.  Today, the world extracted 80, 000, 000 barrels of oil.  That is 10,000 years of oil at the Biologic Production Rate but it is 160,000 years at the Abiotic Production Rate.  

   So, if the first three assumptions were correct, the theory of abiotic origins would predict a peak in oil production sooner than the theory of biologic origins.  Interesting.

   But wait, the proponents of the theory of abiotic origins say we will never reach a peak and there will be enough oil to last forever.  Ok, so let's work with that.   We will keep the first three assumptions but now add a fourth based on the claim by the Abiotic camp.

Assumption IV.  The rate of production of Petroleum from Abiotic Origins is 80,000,000 barrels/day.  Their claim is that we will never run out so since the production rate has been constant for a long time we can assume that the earth has been producing oil at this constant rate for about 4 billion years.  Let's do that math and find out how much oil the earth has produced.

80,000,000 barrels/day times 365 days times 4,000,000,000 years
         =  116,800,000,000,000,000,000 barrels of oil

That's quite a bit.  It must weigh a lot.  Let's do the math

116,800,000,000,000,000,000 barrels of oil times .125 tons/barrel
    = 14,600,000,000,000,000,000 tons.   That's 14.6 quintillion tons

That much oil must weigh a lot but based on Assumption IV, that is how much oil the earth has produced.  Speaking of the earth, how much does it weigh?

Weight of the earth:
5.972 sextillion (5,972,000,000,000,000,000,000) metric tons

If you do the division, the crude oil in the earth now weighs ¼ of one percent of the earth's weight.  Now, we have a problem.  Carbon only makes up one-tenth of one-percent of the earth's crust and we just found out that there are 2 and a half times as much weight in crude oil produced from abiotic sources.  So, it looks like the rate of production from Abiotic Origins can't be as high as 80 million barrels per day.

    From the failure of Assumption IV, and the other logic we have we can make our conclusion.  Even if the theory of abiotic origins is valid, the rate of oil production is lower than our rate of extraction.  Logically, it is probably a lot lower than the rate of extraction because production in either case has been happening for a long time and left us with only 2 trillion barrels to start.  So, we can conclude that it is irrelevant where oil came from.  The rate of Oil Extraction will Peak and the time when that will occur will be sooner rather than later.  

Well here it is!

 A copy of the transcript about peak oil from Australia. Thank goodness it's not about "Peak Fosters Beer"
Quite interesting transcript though. It sounds like the "sheitze" is about to hit the fan soon. Which brings me to the question of new technology. The guy is quoted saying that a 10% increase in new technology would bring about 600,000 to 800,000 extra barrels per day. I keep hearing that new technology will save us all and make us less dependant on oil. Even save the day!
But i've read transcripts here and from Matt Simmons saying that new technology has amounted to absolutely no increase in production.
So who's right?  note I am still leaning towards Matts' comments.

Oh yeah, I forgot to say yesterday..... "Happy Peak Oil Day"!