Open Thread

Must be time...
I've just finished reading through TOD's discussion of our military options on Iran. I was wondering if anybody could provide information regarding the exact location (towns, cities, longitude, latitude) of Iran's major fields and their proximity to their alleged nuclear facilities. I've decided to skip the armchair approach and start planning our first Special Forces mission.
It appears that over 1 million folks of Iranian extraction now live in USA, mostly in CA.
People forget everything about Iran, and like to just dwell on the hostage crisis.

As far as the mid-east goes, the Iranian people are relatively progressive and Westernized. I heard an interview with an American basketball player on NPR the other day. He didn't make the cut of 360, or so, NBA players so where did he go? Iran. Who even knew they had a league?

The best finance professors I ever had were all from Iran.

I believe Simmons himself has commented on how, pre-1979 revolution, it was Iran that bailed us out of our own oil-peak and subsequent Arab-oil embargo.

I guess we are bound to repeat the same criminality that resulted in a "war of agression" against Iraq. Chapter two is in progress. The war jingoing is at a fever pitch. Oh of course, the cheerleadersare the usual suspects: (i remember it used to be /iraq but that folder is now gone!!)
The USGS site below has maps with oil field locations (second link), although you have to zoom into each province, or blow up the map, to see them.

Best of luck with your raid Oil CEO. I'll be eager for an update.

Thanks for the input, guys. I had almost forgotten about - one of the bests sites on the web.

I think our best option is and always has been to get the Russians sufficiently concerned to wholeheartedly side with us. Once that is achieved, even if it means bribing them, the Chinese might get onboard a little quicker.

Post Iraq, March 2003 - as much as I hate to admit it - We need the global community in on this one. We can't ignore the French anymore.

Yesterday's talk here of using nukes was completely out of control. Any attack at this stage(which there won't be) would have to be conventional. If you don't know why, you need to trade in your engineering degree for a couple courses on political science.

The only thing wrong with Iran is a leadership that uses religion to control its people.

Occupation is about as stupid a plan as anybody could come up with. We already own Iraq and Afghanistan. Notice any patterns?

In fact the more you think about it, the more you realize the best option is to, well - to just be friends.

You might find
this also of interest; it was something I dug up when I was wondering how the religious aspect would have a bearing, and shows the relative distribution of shia/sunni compared to where the oil is, but see the first comment in the thread.
Article in NYT. Probably not big news for anyone here. Any reason why the UK can't get soemof these "record natural gas exports?"  I only bring this up in light of our conversation a few days ago about an impending gas crisis in Britain. For those unfamiliar, what is called the North Sea is really the combined efforts of the UK and Norway, with minimal input from the Dutch, Germans, and Danes, I believe. 8% is quite significant, and could offset at least British gas concerns for the near term. Methane is Methane.

January 12, 2006
Norway Sees Dip in 2006 Oil Production
Filed at 2:04 p.m. ET

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Oil production from Norway's offshore fields is expected to decline by almost 5 percent this year, although natural gas exports continue to set new records, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said Thursday.

The government agency's annual resources report projected production of about 2.43 million barrels per day in 2006, down from 2.56 million barrels per day in 2005.

The report said crude oil flows from the world's third largest oil exporter also declined about 9 percent from 2004 to 2005. It said that was due partly to lost production from the Snorre offshore field after it was shut down into early 2005 because of a natural gas blowout in late November 2004.

The Stavanger-based directorate said production was also about 7.5 percent lower than it had projected in its 2004 report, but that oil flows were now expected to remain stable through 2010.

However, it said natural gas exports during 2005 set a new annual record of 35.3 trillion cubic feet, an increase of 8 percent over 2004.

''In the years to come, we also expect production of salable gas to increase,'' the report said.

The directorate said investments in developing offshore finds had increased nearly 23 percent from 2004 to 83 billion kroner ($12.57 billion) in 2005.

Compare these results with the prediction from the EIA Short Term Energy Outlook we discussed a few days ago:

The drops being reported in the new article seem larger numerically than what I read off this chart, but we still see the claim that next year's drop will be less than this year's. That's pretty interesting in view of how some here have characterized north sea oil as collapsing.

You should bare in mind while the absolute number in b/d is less the % decline could be more or equal.


1mb/d peak output in 2005

800kb/d in 2006 = 20% decline (200kb/d change)

take same decline rate
640kb/d in 2007 = 20% decline (160kb/d change)

or same production loss
600kb/d in 2007 = 25% decline (200kb/d change)

So even though it shows 2007's decline lower than 2005 the base from which its declining will be a great deal lower resulting in probably higher % decline.

When people say collapsing, i would guess they mean rapid decline which i would take to be in the region of 8% and above.

Through the end of 2005, total North Sea oil production--as predicted by the Hubbert/Deffeyes method--is down 25% from its 1999 peak.   I would call that a collapse.   Given the estimate of remaining reserves, I don't see any alternative to continued sharp declines in production.
The UK part of that has droped from 2.693mbpd in January 2000 to 1.378mbpd in September 2005 a drop of 51% That must be a collapse by any standard.
China and India Energy Cooperation

What does anyone think about China and India's announcement on energy cooperation?

I've posted my own commentary here, but I would like to know from the folks here is how serious you think China and India are on co-developing biofuel and maybe even sustainable energy resources?

I think it easy to say and hard to do. This quote, from the FT article, sums it up, in my view:

"Sceptics say Chinese companies are unlikely to share their real business plans with Indian rivals, especially as they have mostly been able to outbid them. "Governments like to sign pieces of paper, but it often doesn't amount to much," one analyst said."

I can't argue too much with your commentary, which makes sense. However, the devil is in the details.

I once read that the richest (or was it best educated) minority group in the USA were the Iranians. I have met them living there and here in Germany and am impressed generally with their level of intelligence. These are not the typical impoveriched immigrants from 3rd world who ghettoize themselves. It is more like your Korean and Chinese who climb up the ladder as fast as they can. We got their brain drain and Iran lost on average IQ I would bet. This can be seen in their current President(Ha Ha). If we(the whole world) embargo them by way of UN sanctions then oil prices will climb. Next step would be war. I do not think unilateral war will happen as a police action and March seems too soon with UN involved. China would block it anyway. It is all similar to North Korea 6 way talks but the Russians play the arm twister in this case. The wild card being Israel. Who knows what will happen.
Did anybody happen to catch the debate last night between Author Jerome Corsi and researcher Michael Ruppert. They were debating whether oil is a renewable source produced deep inside the Earth, or a finite resource which will become more scarce within our lifetime.

A Fast Blast poll found 62% siding with Corsi and 38% with Ruppert.

Didn't catch it; another time zone here in Holland. However regarding the poll, who did they survey? Inbred morrons?
I didn't see/hear the debate (although I'll be looking for a recording or transcipt today), but I'd guess that the poll results were a visceral reaction.  There's a pretty decent chance that Ruppert (who predicted that the '05 hurrcanes would result in massive food shortages and possibly the end of the US as we know it) was in full-blown Apocalypticon mode and Corsi sounded sane by comparison.

This is what happens when "our" side is represented by Ruppert instead of one of our TOD hosts, for example.  It also explains why people like Smil refer to peakers as a "catastrophist cult"; yes, they're painting with too broad a brush, but when people like Ruppert are at least in part our public face, that's the conclusion many people will draw.

Bingo. I am a peaker, but do think about 25% of other peakers are part of a "catastrophist cult".

People post here claiming the US blew up the WTC in one post, then ask why nobody listens to them in the next. Let's get Stuart on TV (other TOD hosts would be just as good, but using  psuedonyms wouldn't do much on the credibility front)

I'm a boring geek and I expect the TV people can figure that out :-)
the poll results were a visceral reaction

When did it come to be that "polls" replaced science?

Let's have a poll here among TOD readers so we can get to "truth" on these important questions.

How many of you "feel" that:

  1. Polls reveal the hidden truth. True False
  2. The Markets will always provide. True False
  3. Mankind and Science always advance.  True False
  4. Evolution Theory is riddled with fatal holes. There must be Intelligent Design behind what we see.  True False
  5. As Prices increase, Explorers will forever find new oil.  True False
  6. As Prices increase, Technologists will always come up with new alternatives for energy. True False
  7. As Prices increase, Government will come to the rescue ("Heck" of a job Brownie! New Orleans is one "Heck" of a town!)  True False
  8. These Polling questions are totally ambiguous and can have any meaning the listener wants to ascribe to them and they are totally worthless and unscientific True True
Very good!  

I just love the way the media loves to use polls. They poll everything, and they tend to be believe that the weight of the poll somehow establishes the truth.

If a poll showed that 55% of the people polled believed that the sun revolved around the earth, then I guess I damn well better believe that the sun does indeed revolve around the earth.  

One useful thing that a poll does do is to illuminate the level of ignorance in the general population on any given topic. So I guess they do serve some purpose.

Polls appeal to our irrational herd instincts.

We tend to follow the crowds.

If everyone else believes the Earth is the center of the Universe, then it must be true. Who am I to second guess the wisdom of the crowds?

The biggest problem with polls is that you fool yourself into believing the question asked is "fair and balanced".

Quite often, though, the question is loaded with emotional trigger words and false choices. The outcome is pre-programmed into the question.

Example: Are those who believe in  Peak Oil theory part of a doom & gloom cult?
 YES!!!, no, Definitely, Absolutely!
(Randomly click on only one answer please.)
((Remember: we merely report (distort), YOU decide

I think the poll results are fairly easily explained. First you have Ruppert representing peak oil with all his conspiracy, catastrophe-centric baggage attached. He's a social outcast, making extreme negative claims about the current government of the US (whether true or not is irrelevant). On the other side, you have smooth talking Corsi, selling snake oil on the cheap and promising nirvana forever. Meanwhile, there's a good chance that at least half of the listeners to that talk show voted for Bush, recognize Corsi as a conservative, and may even have been primed about Ruppert.

So here you have two speakers, one with lots of baggage selling a doom-and-gloom vision, and the other a smooth talker promising endless growth, riches, and "the American Dream"! Guess who is more popular?

This was a point that Hanson made long ago - democracies are popularity contests and the voters select leaders who they think will maximize their future well-being. Ruppert was selling doom-and-gloom so of course his view was rejected. That's the natural first reaction of anyone who has not studied the issue in some detail. This is also why most western governments seem incapable of being proactive about peak oil - doing so gets them defeated at the next election, as it did Jimmy Carter. So the western nations are always going to be stuck in reactive mode until the general public accepts the reality of peak oil, which they may not do til they've exhausted every other option (which will likely include more war).

"Tell people something they know already,
and they will thank you for it. Tell them
something new, and they will hate you for it."
- george monbiot

Tell them something they want to believe and they'll'll answer your poll question accordingly.

That was on the late-night Coast to Coast radio show, right? Art Bell's old show? They feature a lot of UFO stuff and other weird pseudo-science, so I wouldn't pay too much attention to a poll of their audience. Looks like recordings of the debate are available today at the web site:

In another poll (sorry, can't find the link right now), Alan Greenspan debated Jesus on the question

What policies are best for the economy and GDP growth?

I'm quoting from memory here but I think it was something like 74% siding with Greenspan and 26% went with Jesus.
Sure, if you include the anti-sandal and pro-talking-like-Yoda-on-PCP crowds, you're gonna get results like that.
That's a cogent, incisive analysis, Lou, but I think it's more complicated than that. Jesus started talking that Sermon on the Mount stuff about the poor and the meek inheriting the Earth while Greenspan droned on and on in his obscure way about controlling inflation using the interest rates. My analysis is that it pretty much broke down on class (as defined by wealth) lines--about 1/4th of the people were poor and meek and the others couldn't relate.


Sorry, I don't have a link for a transcript.
I did not. But you will never believe where I saw Corsi last night. He was on with Pat Buchanan who I believe was filling in for Chris Matthews on Hardball. Guess what they were discussing? A nuclear Iran. Does Corsi have a new book out?
On that topic of Corsi...  I was confused and dismayed to find the abiotic theory being treated as one of two theories regarding the formation of hydrocarbons on  Read below...

"There are two theories as to how natural gas is formed. The most widely accepted theory, the organic theory, maintains that natural gas formation begins with photosynthesis...

The other theory of natural gas formation is the inorganic theory - without biological origin. This theory speculates that hydrocarbons did not originate from buried plant and animal material, but instead were trapped inside the earth as it formed. Proponents of this theory contend that hydrocarbon sources can be found a few hundred miles below the surface and continue to this day to pump substantial amounts of petroleum and methane up through the Earth's deep cracks and pores to the shallow sedimentary levels."

While not explicitly endorsing the abiotic theory, the citation of the theory, which has not to my knowledge stood up any scientific scrutiny, seems undeserved.

Center for Energy sets out their objectives below...

"We are committed to becoming your key resource for credible, up-to-date information that is supported by research and vetted by reputable, independent sources. Over time, our portal will cover the Canadian energy sector from the mainstays of oil, natural gas, coal, thermal and hydropower through to nuclear, solar and other alternative sources of energy. We aim to be your preferred source for energy news and to provide a forum for discussion. We will also serve as a research resource and offer links to a wide range of energy information sources.

What I fear is happening here is the infiltration of an alternative narrative that justifies unrestricted pursuit of oil (ANWR?.  It also conveniently excuses anyone from doing anything to get over oil dependance.  When an apparently reputable and well meaning information service lends this sort of legitimacy to abiotic oil and perhaps even implies that it is an emerging new discovery (did they do that?) I for one can no longer take them seriously.   Corsi's involvement with the whole promotion of abiotic oil does it's proponents no favours, his very presence is cause for doubt.  I'd suggest that it works similarly here for Center for Energy - citation of the abiotic theory only hurts their credibility and brings their agenda into question.

That was his book before the abiotic oil one.
Ruppert was not at all alarmist last night and presented a very good case for Peak Oil with many scientific studies supporting his side.  Corsi just kept repeating three main themes over and over and didn't really supply any other scientific evidence other than oil and gas can be created in a lab so abiotic oil must be real.

Ruppert kept asking Corsi to back up his claims with science but really didn't bring anything to the table.  I would say that Ruppert definetly won the debate.  But then again I think most of the Coast to Coast listeners aren't well educated and tend to lean towards conspiracy theories.

We're lucky that no one here believes in conspiracy theories.
It seems to me it is reasonable to say that Hubbert's method works because the supersized wells are easiest to find , so comparatively large, and the costs of the infrastructure to tap them  sets a limit on how quickly the smaller wells will be found and tapped; such that the smaller wells of the field will be tapped as the larger wells peak, then deplete. This assumes no war, economic gain to tap the field thru it's life, etc.     Is this a fair way of presenting this?

I saw the promo for the CNN program again.  The title is "Running out of oil", and the voiceover simply says "How much oil is left, and who is going to get it?".  

The background video just had pictures of some oil wells and pipelines and didn't give clues to where they were going with this.

All I know is that this is for an upcoming edition of "CNN Presents" that will run in Feb.  It should be a 1-hour program..

As long as it doesn't make "THE SITUATION ROOM" Geez! I hate that show! They "trump up" the most unimportant events.
Following is a link on the Energy Bulletin to a story regarding the Resource Wars.  I think that the Worldwatch report is a tad on the optimistic side, "It (the report) predicts that if the economies of China and India continue to grow at their current rate, the world will not be able to produce enough oil to meet demand by 2050, when consumption will have grown from the current 85 million barrels a day to 200 million barrels."

IMO, the key problem that we will face this year is not so much a shortage of total oil capacity, but a shortage of net export capacity.  Net export capacity in exporting countries is being squeezed from two directions--by increasing domestic consumption and by falling production. As time goes on, more and more countries that were net exporters are going to become net importers, e.g., Indonesia and the UK.  

One other key point regarding percentage changes.  Let's assume we have a country producing two mbd, consuming one mbd and thus exporting one mbd.   A 10% drop in production (200,000 BOPD) would result in a 20% drop in net exports (200,000 BOPD out of 1,000,000 BOPD net exports).

As the following article points out, the demand for exports worldwide is exploding.

The big three exporters--Saudi Arabia; Russia and Norway--account for more than half of the exports from the top 12 net exporters (all those exporting more than one mbd, net).   Saudi Arabia accounts for as much net exports as the bottom six on the list combined.  

Of the big three, only Russia did not show a decline in net exports in 2005 versus 2003.  As I previously noted, both Saudi Arabia and Norway are on the wrong side of the 50% of (Hubbert Linearization) Qt mark.  I don't know about Russia.

Find a couple of spare planets or face global oil war
Richard Beeston, The Times

westexas - I looked at the BP data and a few other sources but couldnt find a yearly progression of exports per country - only by region - I think that would be instructive to illustrate your point. What does the yearly total export curve look like? Peaked already?
I've been using the 2003 EIA numbers.  The following link will take you to the 2004 EIA numbers:

Re:  2004 Net Oil Export Numbers

Using the most expansive definition of "oil," the net oil exports from the top 14 exporters in 2004 were 38.32 mbd.  

Based on the P/Q versus Q method, at least three of the countries are past 50% of Qt:  Saudi Arabia; Norway and Iran.  

At least two countries have recently shown reduced production because of political unrest:  Venezuela and Iraq.  

At least two countries are currently experiencing production declines or they are predicting production declines:  Mexico and Kuwait.  

So, at least seven of the fourteen (one mbd and larger net exporters)--representing 57% of 2004 net export capacity from the top 14 exporters--are showing evidence of current or imminent production declines.  

As I've said before, you're right on the money here, westexas.

And another point TOD folks should know: Iran may be past 50% Qt for crude oil but they've got a hell of lot of undeveloped natural gas.
I don't see much reason to worry about shortages of exports while not worrying about shortages of production. Basically, of what is produced, a certain amount will be consumed domestically and a certain amount exported. If you think that production will be OK but exports not, you must believe that countries will be diverting production to internal markets and refusing to service export demand.

But this is unlikely for several reasons. Oil is fungible and will tend to go to where there is demand (read: money to pay for it). Most of the biggest oil producing countries are autocratic or even dictatorial and will seek out revenue in favor of helping their internal population. Western democracies like Norway are based on free markets which will also send the oil to where it is desired, irrespective of national borders.

It might seem paradoxical for a country to be exporting oil in a time of shortage, but the point is that oil will be very valuable (i.e. expensive) in that environment and therefore by exporting it, countries raise enormous funds. Oil is good for only one thing, burning. But money can be used for anything. Selling oil for money makes sense even when the internal demand for oil is high, if export demand is even higher.

Mmm.  The oil producing countries do all subsidize their gas prices internally, often by a great deal.  If they don't raise the subsidized price when world prices rise then economics suggest internal consumption will just grow with the economy while the amount available to export will drop.  It's politically hard to lift popular subsidies anywhere.  Of course, black markets will tend to correct this.
"The oil producing countries do all subsidize their gas prices"
Not in the UK or Norway.
You're right - damn - that's the second time this week I've had to apologize for a hasty over-generalization.  I think I better do some more sleeping (I was having too much fun doing all that stability analysis to sleep.)
Not to kick you when you are down, but isn't Iraq cutting back on it's oil subsidies? I know that's more a political observation than a peak oil observation, but it is interesting in light of the fact that it probably came from American pressure.

I thought it was odd for Iraq to reduce domestic oil subsidies when their economy is doing so badly, but clearly the decision was meant to be good for the United States, not Iraq. Maybe that's why an American "yes" man got the job he did.

Even if all other production in the world remained flat--which is highly unlikely--we would still see a bidding war for available exports if, as I suspect, we are about to see significant drops in available net exports from the top net exporters.
The Times added some words to the first paragraph above. It predicts that if the economies of China and India continue to grow at their current rate, the world will not be able to produce enough oil to meet demand by 2050, when consumption will have grown from the current 85 million barrels a day to 200 million barrels. "Few geologists believe that output will reach even half those levels before beginning to decline," the report says.
"The vast majority cannot imagine any price increase that would change their behaviour. . "

Published on Friday, January 13, 2006 by Energy Bulletin

Drivers In For A Shock
By Roger Adair

Roger Adair contrasts a new study showing Irish drivers' unwillingness to change their driving habits to the inevitable changes forced by Peak Oil and the collapse of complex societies.

Ireland in a Jam

"Ireland in a jam - how Irish motorists are coping with rising oil prices" Amarach Consulting, Dublin (


This recent study was based on a sample of 622 Irish motorists who use their car to travel to work. They were asked to indicate their level of support for various measures to reduce oil use as proposed by the International Energy Agency. It is possible that similar results would be obtained in many other countries as well

Not surprisingly, the most popular options were working week compression (4 x 10 hour working days) and free public transport!

64% agreed it was difficult to get to work without a car and 50% indicated that they would definitely not prefer to use public transport, even if the system was improved.

However the most telling response was to the question of how high the price of road fuel would have to rise before they would stop using their car to get to work. A staggering (and touchingly defiant) 29% claimed they would never ever give up their car no matter how expensive road fuel became (lucky, old, well heeled and optimistic them!) and 32% just "didn't know"!

To paraphrase the author of the report " ... the vast majority cannot imagine any price increase that would change their behaviour. i.e. they either don't know or they simply refuse to change. " (my emphasis).

A staggering (and touchingly defiant) 29% claimed they would never ever give up their car no matter how expensive road fuel became (lucky, old, well heeled and optimistic them!) and 32% just "didn't know"!

I reckon this is true of drivers in most countries, though clearly there must be some limit - once petroleum costs as much as eau-de-cologne even the valiant Celts will cave in to reality. But the finding confirms my `working hypothesis' that in future most people will continue to drive until it costs more than half what it does to take a taxi today. A taxi costs approx. €2 per kilometer in most European countries (AFAIK).

The scenario: it's the year 2020. Undaunted by peak oil, you own the proverbial gas-guzzling Hummer which you bought second-hand for a song. If you've only got your socks on you can probably get 1000 km out of a full fuel tank (= approx 1 barrel, or 159 liters, I've got it right this time). So even at €1000 per barrel of oil it might still be less expensive to drive a Hummer in 2020 than to take a taxi today.

Though no doubt all you will be able to afford apart from the Hummer is a pair of socks.

Excellent analysis.  This is precisely the way of thinking I'm always trying to stress in my online writing--you can't look at absolute prices and make reasonable conclusions; you have to look at the relative prices of goods that act as substitutes for each other.  

Shifts in these prices relative to each other make people shift demand between substitutes (e.g. gasoline prices rise relative to electricity, making electric cars more desirable).  Changes in price of groups of substitutes relative to other groups (e.g. all transportation costs rise but clothing prices don't) shift demand between whole groups.

This is why I keep pushing the notion of building as much renewable elctricity generation as we can, as soon as possible.  It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and if you keep the price of electricity (nearly) constant (and therefore ever lower, relatively speaking, in the face of rising oil costs), you make the shift from oil-powered transportation to electricity-powered transportation all the more attractive.

What's the price point when people shift to hybrid cars with twenty five mile range batteries and oil after that? We know that in Europe they pay twice as much per mile (and more per gallon) to drive as we do in America, and that hasn't shifted them.
Three times? Four?
Here in Europe a significant shift is going on towards small and medium sized cars with modern diesel engines. They go 18-22 km/liter (43-52 miles/gallon). Much cheaper than hybrids.
Of course, the study asked the wrong question.  Instead of "how high the price of road fuel would have to rise before they would stop using their car to get to work", they should have asked "Without a pay increase and with your house value stagnant or falling, what level of inflation due to rising energy costs and their effects on the economy would drive you into bankruptcy?"  The concept would be almost as incomprehensible to the people surveyed, but it would at least have given them a better framework to consider the problem.

I expect most people, when confronted with such a question, first think, "The increasing prices will affect my total budget, but given the distance between where I live and work, I have no option but driving there.  Since I have to have a place to live and have to have a job, everything else will have to go first."  It never occurs to the responder that food, other goods, and utility prices will be rising as well, so that they may be left with choosing between food, heat, and motor fuel.

Security and stability are the most important human psychological needs on Abraham Maslow's list of human needs.  The only things more important are physiological needs.  No one should be surprised that people will resist changing such a deeply ingrained status quo.  It is human nature to strongly resist such wrenching change.  

I've been all over Ireland by car, bike, public transport and thumb. The thumbing was primarily to cover the large gaps in public transport in country where regular service could mean once a week. Even that level of service wasn't always available. Large parts of western Ireland were simply cut off, although when I was travelling there were always kind souls willing to give a traveller a lift.

Until relatively recently (ie the last 10 years), the road system in Ireland was unbelievably bad by the standards of most developed countries. I remember less than 15 years ago having to stop on the main road between Dublin and Cork for a shepherd to get his flock of sheep across what passed for a motorway. It took a ridiculous number of hours to get from New Ross in the east to Limerick in the west along winding, hilly, pot-holed, unlit roads barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other, and with hedges so high (right at the edge of roads with no hard shoulder) that visibility was seriously impaired. Driving was dangerous (so was cycling) as well as time consuming.

EU money has changed the picture drastically. Now there are real motorways in Ireland, although I suspect the public transit is still almost as bad (at least outside of Dublin and perhaps a few other cities). People have had a taste of modernity, but most haven't yet had time to forget what it was like before, as we have in North America or Britain. They remember how it used to be and desperately do not want to go back to it, especially since the EU money has also resulted in the building of car-dependent sprawl. I'm not surprised to hear them say they'd pay almost any amount to keep their cars, however unrealistic it may be.

I suspect that the loss of mobility, convenience and comfort (ie central heating) that the end of cheap energy is likely to bring will be very hard on the Irish, but hopefully enough of them will remember the old ways to be able to go back to them without too much pain. The Irish diaspora may begin again though.

I biked through parts of Ireland in 1983, visiting some of the old stone dances and roofless castles.  I found it very pleasant, especially compared to the tour bus part of the trip.  

I was just reading this article on EnergyBulletin:
... and got to the part where he talks about the great efficiencies of the bicycle, and recommends wearing bright clothing while cycling.  I have a bright yellow pullover myself, but I see more and more darkly-dressed guys riding dark, little mountain bikes with no lights and maybe the mandated reflectors.  They're like shadows.

I've always loved the Olde World charm of Ireland and its slow pace of life, which is why I spent so much time there. Cycling would have been much more pleasant, and less dangerous, without cars travelling far too fast for the road conditions. I imagine there were fewer cars in 1983 than there were even just a few years later, especially in the east where car use and dependency really took off in the 1990s.
Just because people SAY they won't stop driving with high prices doesn't mean that they will actually behave this way when faced with reality. Talk is cheap, gas is (potentially) expensive.

Look what happened in the car-loving United States when the price spiked after the hurricanes. We saw an almost unprecedented fall in gasoline demand. Then when the price moderated again demand climbed back up. Stuart did an analysis showing that most of the fall in miles traveled was not in the areas directly hit by the hurricane, but rather in other parts of the country where the main impact was the high prices and not any other impediments to transportation.

Yet I have many times seen "studies" and "experts" which claimed that Americans would not significantly cut back on driving until we saw a much bigger increase in gas prices. These opinions were presumably based on what people SAID since there was no way to see what people would actually DO in those circumstances.

Well, now we know. Regardless of what people say, what they actually do when something gets more expensive is exactly what economists would predict: they economize. Experts often say, people can't cut back on gas usage because they have to drive to work. But the truth is that Americans do a heck of a lot of driving beyond just driving to work. And those trips can often be eliminated or combined. Many Americans even have two cars and can switch to the more economical car rather than the fancier one. All these kinds of economies are possible even without major changes in the way people get to work.

I suspect the Irish would not be so different. They may love their cars and make bold statements about not giving them up, but if the price goes up they will find ways to use them more economically exactly as Americans did post-Katrina (and for that matter, as Europeans do every day).

Good point.  There's a huge difference between giving up your car and cutting back on petrol use.  
Well said, Halfin.

This situation reminds me of something I keep trying to point out to people.  Ever notice how the Apocalypticons keep telling us that 1) in peak oil we're facing an event unprecedented in human experience, and that 2) they know exactly how it will turn out?  How the heck do they know???

It's easy to make fun of economists (and heaven knows I've been on both ends of plenty of such jabs), but when we're talking about the most basic stuff, like demand response to a price increase for various goods or services, economists have it pretty well scoped out.  Just don't ever, under circumstances, ask us how to invest money.  We know less than zip about that.

Yet I have many times seen "studies" and "experts" which claimed that Americans would not significantly cut back on driving until we saw a much bigger increase in gas prices. These opinions were presumably based on what people SAID since there was no way to see what people would actually DO in those circumstances.
It would seem to me that any such "experts" would have at least a colorable argument that 1.6% is not very "significant", as a response to $3 gas.
Re: "But the truth is that Americans do a heck of a lot of driving beyond just driving to work. And those trips can often be eliminated or combined..."

Doesn't matter or justly simply wrong. Transportation fuel usage in the US in highly inelastic. Combined? Eliminated? Are you smoking some weed, Halfin? People drive to different places, with different distances, don't even know who their neighbors are, etc.

What are they going to do, say "gas is too expensive, I'm not going to do my 70 mile commute to work today--fuck it. I'd rather lose my job instead?"

Probably what will happen, however, is that their job will disappear before they stop the driving to it...
If 10 people drive 70 miles, that is 700 miles.  If just 2 of those people decide to carpool together, the total miles just dropped by 10%...down to 630.  

When gas goes up again, maybe a third person will join.  Now, we are down to 560 miles...down 20% from the original 700.

Maybe pretty soon, carpooling becomes "acceptable" behavior...and maybe half of the people will carpool.


Use of public transportation went up by something like 7% during the gas spike.  Obviously, that is not a choice for everyone, but people did change their behavior (without giving up their cars).

In my office, a couple of people switched jobs in order to work closer to home.  They expressly cited the high gas costs.  (Of course, they lived an hour's drive from my office.)  Others began to carpool, or bought smaller cars.  Not a lot, but even two people in a car saves a lot of money when you commute an hour each way.  

You're right that no one knows their neighbors, but in large workplaces like mine, there's bound to be several people in the office who live in your neighborhood, or along the way.

Obviously, the low-hanging fruit is plucked first - it further cutbacks will be harder and harder.  But I think Halfin is right - what people say they will do isn't necessarily what they actually will do.  

Hold on here, Irish are just like us, common folks.

There is no indication that the First Law of Economics (Price goes up => Consumption goes down) or the Second Law of Economics (Price goes up => Consumers will consume more substitutes i.s.o the original product) does not hold for the Irish.

Even if the Irish say that they won't.


When should we expect the next set of world production figures from the IEA?
Looks like the next report will be released on January 17th; but everyone else no doubt already knew that.
They will release preliminary numbers for Dec at that time, and revise their Nov numbers. As Stuart demonstrated on a nice graph recently, the initial numbers always get revised, and generally down. I am less interested in the inaccurate Dec numbers they will publish and more in the revised figures for Nov. I am waiting to see if they will show higher production than April/May 2005 or not.
The Baghdad Burning Blog reported that Iraqi gasoline subsidies were canceled leading to a massive price increase.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006


"B. why has the price of these lousy CDs gone up so much???" I demanded from the shop owner who is also a friend, "Don't tell me your supplier has also pushed the prices up on you because of the gasoline shortage?" I asked sarcastically. No- supplies cost the same for him- he has not needed to stock up yet. But this is how he explained it: his car takes 60 liters of gasoline. It needs to be refueled every 2-3 days. The official price of gasoline was 50 Iraqi dinars before, so it cost him around 3000 dinars to fill up his car, which was nearly two dollars. Now it costs 9000 Iraqi dinars IF he fills it up at a gas station and not using black market gasoline which will cost him around 15,000 dinars- five times the former price- and this every two to three days. He also has to purchase extra gasoline for the shop generator which needs to be working almost constantly, now that electricity is about four hours daily. "Now how am I supposed to cover that increase in my costs if I don't sell CDs at a higher price?"

For those interested in alternative economics: Richard Douthwaite's "Eliminating the Need for Economic Growth".
Eliminating the Need for Economic Growth

December 2005

A submission to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

"The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge" - Tony Blair, 1st November, 2005.

"The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that countries are not doing enough to adapt their economies so that they reduce their greenhouse gas emissions." - Lord May, President of the Royal Society, 9th November 2005

Summary: This paper is about adapting the economic system so that it can respond to the challenge of climate change. It argues that the highest priority has to be given to eliminating the need for rich countries to continue to grow economically if they are to prevent their economies collapsing. The paper argues that their need for growth arises because they issue their money as a debt. If this was changed in the way suggested, they would be able to cut their emissions sharply with immediate effect.

The paper also discusses other monetary changes needed to give governments the economic freedom to respond the climate crisis and suggests the introduction of a system of tradable personal emissions allocations to protect the poor from the worst effects of the higher energy prices that will result from effective restrictions on greenhouse emissions.

I have to say the linked paper strikes me as way off the mark.  The reason for growth has nothing to do with the nature of money, and everything to do with people's desire to have more stuff like bigger houses, faster cars, etc.  This is both to compete with one another via status markers, and also just because bigger houses and faster cars do give one a thrill in the using, however brief before one gets accustomed.  The fundamental thing required to stop economic growth would be to stop population growth, and to have a culture shift where we collectively agreed that we'd all make do with the houses and cars we already have and stop trying to get bigger/better/faster ones - instead we'd need to start getting more efficient ones.
I disagree.  It's the nature of money that fuels growth these days.  Or rather, the nature of capitalism.

Capitalism these days is not about finding a need, and filling it.  It's about creating a need, and filling it.  Many of us buy things we would never miss if it were for ads telling us we have to have them.  Yes, having a car is great.  Having two is better.  But is there really a need to have more cars than drivers?  

Having more "stuff," more choices, does not make people happier.  Indeed, there's evidence that it makes people less happy.

But there will never be a real push to get people to cut back, even though they may well be happier for it.  And the reason is the nature of money.

Capitalism was alive and well long before modern media were created and economic growth is much older than modern money systems.  And in any case, why is all that need-creating marketing happening - because corporations want to increase their sales and profits.  Why?  Because their shareholders want a higher return and will fire executives who do not provide it.  Why do the shareholders care about their return on investment?  Because they'd like to be even wealthier than they already are.  It is the western cultural desire for ever more wealth that is at the root of growth.  I agree there are profound questions about whether it makes us happy (though recent research suggests relative wealth does promote happiness, even though absolute wealth has no effect beyond a minimal level).  But even if you argue it makes us unhappy, it seems pretty clear that we continue to do it compulsively despite that.  It even has a name in the US, right: the American dream.
Re: "It is the western cultural desire for ever more wealth that is at the root of growth."

Stuart, I had no idea we were so close in our opinions about this! Gratuitous Photo Opportunity.

The Prince of Darkness
Ipods are oil cheap. Computers are oil cheap. Cars and trucks and trains and planes and heating houses are oil intensive. Computers are coal powered.
Not the kind of capitalism we have today.  

I think you've got it reversed.  The reason the population keeps growing is because of debt-based money.  It's grow or die, and the government has every reason to try and keep the growth going.  And the best way to do that is to keep the population growing.  That's why despite all the talk of security on the right and worker protection on the left, our borders are still wide open.  Greenspan likes to point out that immigration is responsible for all the economic growth we've enjoyed for the past 20 years.  

We've seen what happens when the economy stops growing.  Recession, depression.  The looming oil crisis is likely to result in a depression that makes the Great Depression look like nothing.  I don't have much faith in our ability to create a new economic system to replace our current one, but eventually, something is going to have to change.  I think it will be more difficult and painful than anyone can imagine.  

I hope the liberal optimists succeed, but I suspect what will result will instead be reactionary, and look an awful lot like feudalism.

Hmm.  I'm not sure I have more to say.  We don't seem to be in the same universe.
Wow.  I didn't realize it was a controversial topic.
It's not that it's controversial per-se, it's just that your view simply doesn't compute at all to me, and I'm not sure how to bridge what strikes me as a pretty major difference in assumptions about how the world works.
That's what I meant.  I didn't realize there were different assumptions in this particular matter.  
I side with Stuart here. Money is just the intermediary step towards our evolutionary mechanism to seek relative fitness over absolute in teh current world culture. Buying a second car or house a) makes us look better vs the jonses and b) gives us a non-lasting dopamine rush due to the novelty, which evenutally wears off and we need a 3rd car or house.

The key here being, we need to find a way, by hook or crook, to trick/force people into getting their evolutionary chemicals (primarily dopamine) in a sustainable fashion. "I grow the biggest sweet potatoes on the block and get the chicks" would be a better way to go than trying to be Donald Trump. That way competition is fought in ways that are sustainable - "I love you Stuart - you are WAY more sustainable than that Mr. Jones!!..;)"

There is already a very well known sustainability mechanism in place called moral. It just needs to be expanded to reflect the realities of the day... And BTW being highly moraled has always been considered sexy.
Unfortunately, blue eyes, washboard abs, a porsche and a home in key west win out over principles, poverty and morality. At least at first impression, which in our current culture is all many have time for.
Stuart is right, insofar as economic growth has been with us for several centuries whereas fiat money creation has been with us only since Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard in 1971.
That's not really what I meant.  The nature of money just reflects the nature of our economy, which is based on debt, and requires constant expansion.  

Capitalism is a great way to extract resources as quickly as possible.  Hence its ascendence as we began exploiting the resources "discovered" in the New World.  It's not so great at dealing with steady-state or shrinking resources.

Haven't you ever wondered why usury - charging interest on a loan - was considered such a terrible crime in the ancient world?  Now usury is a way of life.  What changed?  IMO, it's the difference between a steady-state and a growing economy.  

I'm with Leanan on this one, but gap-bridging is important, so here's my attempt at it. In my view, what Leanan is suggesting involves setting the phenomenon of peak oil in economic and social context, a context which is informed by the study of how other civilizations have dealt with analogous challenges in the past. The lessons of history are vital to understanding how peak oil might play out in practice, as is an appreciation of human psychology.

The world is not a particularly rational place where people predictably maximize utility. It is not comparable to a machine where the outputs can be related to the inputs by a simple function. One might be able to calculate the theoretical rate of depletion for a group of oil fields, or maybe for a whole world of oil fields, neatly and mathematically, but that by itself tells you very little about how a depletion scenario might play out in practice (ie in the context of human societies). To have any chance of being able to predict that, the range of factors considered must be far, far wider.

History, social psychology and finance, and their various feedback loops, tell us that there is a great upheaval coming in response to a rapid invalidation of the assumptions upon which our lives are structurally dependent. Its effects will be economic, social and ultimately political, and are likely to occur rapidly enough to cause severe dislocation. These factors are real, and are at least as important as how much oil is left in the ground or what rate we could hope to extract it at in a perfect world. The perfect world figures are useful to know, but they represent only the ideal scenario. Given the upheaval to come, reality is almost certain to fall well short of the ideal production rate, which will further increase upheaval.

Peak oil (and gas) will be an important part of the way the future plays out, but it is not the whole story. Energy trumps everything in the long-term in accordance with the laws of thermodynamics, but financial imbalance and the impact of its unwinding is at least as important on a time-scale more comensurate with the human lifespan - the short to medium term if you like. The interplay of the two is more complex than either considered separately, but there are relatively few people who consider both at all, and even fewer who also take the historical record into account as well.

Leanan is suggesting setting the phenomenon of peak oil in economic and social context, ... The lessons of history are vital to understanding how peak oil might play out in practice, as is an appreciation of human psychology.

The world is not a particularly rational place

Part of our inability, as humans, to cope with resource depletion is our innate belief that we are not animals,
that we are somehow different;
that animals are irrational
whereas we humans operate on an emotionless and purely "rational" and "intelligent" basis.

Therefore, even though we observe overshoot and die-off phenomena in many an animal population (i.e., lemmings, St. Matthews reindeer, etc.) we humans believe we are "above" all that, we are different. It's going to be "different" for us. Science will save us. The markets will save us.

Studies show that animals engage in economic decision making, in market dynamics, in social dynamics, and they are not as "irrational" as we humans irrationally believe.

We are much more like the animals than different from them. We are animals --mammals more particularly-- and ones that have a herd mentality.

By studying animal populations and how they react to resource depletion (i.e. lemming migrations; with some running off cliffs or drowning in water as they make their maddened stampede for survival's sake) we may better understand how the human stampede is going to unfold.

The point is to prevent the human herds from following their herd instinct, from "staying course", from going into blind stampede mode, and from marching straight for, and over the cliffs.

I agree with you, step back. I don't know if you're familiar with Robert Prechter's work on herding instincts and the inevitable fallout in financial markets, but if not you might find it very interesting. He's no expert in energy fundamentals, but his perspective is valuable nonetheless.
Stuart said: "It is the western cultural desire for ever more wealth that is at the root of growth."

Anyone been to Hong Kong, Shanghai or Bombay (Mumbai) lately? I can't walk down the street of the Asian city I live in without having to dodge more Mercedes and BMWs than any western city. I know the party line is that the west caused this materialism in Asia, but I don't buy it.

I would ammend that to read: "It is the human desire for ever more wealth that is at the root of growth."

Re: "I would amend that to read: 'It is the human desire for ever more wealth that is at the root of growth'".

No problem, good point, Jack. I guess people in the West mostly just got there first....
Once world's richest man, Japanese billionaire pleads guilty to fraud

A Japanese railroad billionaire once listed as the world's richest man pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of insider trading and falsifying financial records.

The plea on the opening day of Yoshiaki Tsutsumi's trial in a court in Tokyo continues the country's crackdown on corporate crime begun in recent years.

"There is no mistake to the charges," Tsutsumi, 71, said after apologizing in court to shareholders.

By the way, this reminds me of Larry and Sergei for some reason ...

have a good one and remember-- Don't Be Evil!

Well, I can see how my words can be taken that way, and I didn't mean to suggest that the mercantile cultures of Asia are fundamentally different in this regard. But I do think it's important to recognize that this aspect of us is not biologically hard-wired. There are cultures, primarily tribal ones, who have shown no interest whatsoever in ongoing material accumulation. When we run into them (which was mainly happening during the colonial era), they regard us as crazy, and we regard them as lazy.

Now, I do not think it is feasible to go back to a tribal culture. But I do think it's extremely important to recognize that this is a cultural trait, not a biological one, because it suggests the potential for change in it over time. Not easily or quickly, of course, but it is not obviously hopeless (short of massive genetic reengineering of the race, which I suppose will also be a possibility before too long).

Re: cultural, not biological trait...

Sure, right. But the spoon is in the cultural pudding, isn't it?

No more hunter/gatherer stuff gonna happen here. It can be argued (and would be by me) that due to natural human tendencies toward acculturation and the social construction of reality--which are biologically determined and malleable with respect to context--then the cultural behaviour is also deterministic for future outcomes in our Western culture. Human cultural assimilation, as a fundamental behaviour, is analogous to language learning--I'm a former piled-high-deeper theoretical linquist but never completed the program. In other words, if you're presented with a world of ipods and cellphones, that's your world. On the other hand, if it's wood stoves and backbreaking work in the vegetable garden, that's your world too.

These are fundamental points that can't be overlooked. Some people believe we will muddle through the crisis period ahead--assuming that the changes will be gradual enough to allow an adjustment given the already culturally determined behaviour. I myself don't believe that. I think catastrophism is the most likely model--which simply switches out one set of living circumstances for another very quickly. Sort of like abrupt climate change or big rocks hitting the Earth that kill off the dinosaurs. When the big change comes, humans will adapt to the new arrangement since they are almost infinitely malleable culturally--up to the point of extinction if things get bad enough which, of course, will not occur. But that will take time and it won't be pretty. The gradualism of geologist Charles Lyell, which held sway for a century, has been shown to be wrong. Shit happens.

best, Dave
You are right Dave that there are many events which can unfold very quickly, overwhelm the ability of existing human cultural arrangements to adapt to them. It has happened many times before and there is no reason to think that it will not happen many times in the future. Studying previous episodes can give us some insight into the way such events may play out - how relatively abrupt discontinuties of various kinds and various magnitudes have interacted with human nature in the past.

To anthropomorphize for a moment, the world doesn't care that there are people whose wellbeing is predicated on the complex web of interdependencies we have constructed over this century in particular. Those arrangements can be swept away by momentous events and individual people will have to adapt (or suffer the unpleasant consequences), even if their prevailing cultures cannot. The survivors will build new cultures suited to different sets of circumstances.

"Culture", as we know it is completely subsidized by the energy density and quality of oil. We have a global culture of economics. Culture only has power when it has ability to police its spoken and unspoken rules.

Without oil, or without a certain minimumn of oil, global culture morphs into hundreds and thousands of loosely linked (if at all) local cultures, with their own (or none, in some cases) policing rules. If the dark side of Peak Oil comes to fruition, there will be different 'cultures' in Houston, Burlington, Anchorage, Big Falls, WI, Beijing, Kona HI, etc. Someone playing by Bostons rules and walking to Burlington will probably face completely different 'rules' of culture. Energy has allowed our rules over the past century to gradually be pretty identical. Depletion at first will cause friction and economic change - eventually, our biological needs to create tribal culture will manifest, but do so locally all over the planet.

New Orleans was a small, brief example.

Electronic communications require small ammounts of energy.

The benefits of working communications are huge, they will probably
be the first priority after food, water and shelter and they are even important to fix that.

This will limit the cultural spread since no area exept North Korea and other areas ruled by such paranoid leaders will be truly isolated, it will only be slow and expensive to travel physically.

Global culture will have areas with TWh of electricity available. Those areas will be the backbone of the global culture that remains since they will benefit from trade and can syntehtisize the needed fuels.

I think you underestimate the cost of the infrastructure it takes to support electronic communications.  

Communications satellites, undersea cables, the Internet...I don't think they'll die overnight, but I do think it will become harder and harder to maintain them, until we don't bother any more.  

this aspect of us is not biologically hard-wired


Your CV: "PhD Physics, MS CS. 10 years as an innovator in computer security ..."

I understand where you are coming from, believing that somehow the human brain might be like a Von Neumann machine. I work in similar overlapping fields. However, as to this idea of thinking that certain aspects of human behavior are not "hard wired" biologically into us, I must respectfully disagree.

First, the human brain is not an electrically driven Von Neumann machine. It has a chemical soup floating in there.

Think of us as having many parallel machines (each with a different local architecture!) running in our heads. The machines debate stuff with each other. If they can't reach a consensus, they submit their votes to biggest dummy in the pool; the reptilian brain, for making a final decision. (People in sales know that the reptile has the final say so in a purchasing decision. "Org want big powerful plasma display with many pretty lights and football games and control, remote control. Org want. Org get.")

Our brain structure is the result of freak or random evolutionary development. It was not "intelligently designed". If you believe otherwise, you do not truly understand the science of evolution.

The tribal people in the jungle were never presented with cognition of a choice. They did not know that various means exist for greater power and control like: guns, cars, remote control plasma TV. Time after time, when aboriginals are exposed to such choices from our "modern" society, they quickly abandon their old ways and grab for the beer can and remote.

Why? Because our brains are pre-architectured biologically in that way.

Our brains are structured to seek power, control and pleasure while avoiding pain, imprisonment, loss of control. That is how we "survive". Evolution rewarded the mutations whose brains were architected for that kind of survival. We are the offspring. We are hardwired (to a limited degree) to be like that.

EXACTLY! So we each have a Mr Hyde that acts on our limbic/reptilian impulses then split seconds later Dr. Jekyll comes out and does public relations and rationalization on whatever action we just performed. Mr Hyde is Nature, Dr Jekyll is Nurture.

Mr Hyde likes the lifestyle that oil has brought him.


Well not exactly as simple as Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde.

But if we (meaning all of us) were more educated in how the human brain works and what its shortcomings are, we would be less susceptible to falling into the traps of our self-proclaimed superiority.

We would be less sure that "the markets" will provide. We would be less sure that we have "free choice". We would be less secure and more questioning about the sustainability of our entire way of living.

In my mind, oil is just the tip of the iceberg. Our "advancing civilization" is like a great herd of lemmings charging headstrong for the cliffs. We have Global Warming and melting ice caps. We have exponential population growth. We have farm land depletion, deforestation, aquifer depletion, religious fanticism, etc., etc.

And amazingly, hardly any members of the great lemming herd know about it or care. They just keep marching forward. Having more babies. Buying more homes. Buying more cars. Getting on that slave labor tread mill and starting to run faster and harder just to keep up with accumulating debt.

Something is very wrong.

And yet, when you try to tell them, ... their eyes glaze over.

step back,
we are evolutionarily programmed to value the present over the future, and dramatically so. A potential ancestor, Bob, that spent time worrying about a noticeable rise in temperature was outproduced by Igor who took Helga to the cave while Bob was ciphering. Bob and his few descendants ultimately died out.

We are biological animals with a developed neo-cortex and therefore language and culture. But all animals value the present over the future. Why has global warming not been heeded ? Because all of the scientific warnings are of the sort '2050 the temperature will be such and such' - the human discount rate is so steep in ONE WEEK from the present let alone 50 years. (see David Laibson at Harvard's research)

Each environmental success story in our culture needed a smoking gun - DDT, ozone, leaded gas, etc - we saw a serious problem that was immediate and addressed it. We need to cross the discount rate threshold in order to act. How could it be otherwise?

Only chance of averting/ameleorating whats coming is to get oil prices very high very quickly, (even artificially), so we feel the pain and act. Even at todays prices they are not high enough to cause massive reallocations of resources.

p.s. the stories of the polar bears drowning FINALLY got my mothers attention regarding global warming. We need emotional triggers..Katrina/Rita could have beens such a boon, but alas, 55 degrees in Vermont in january does not provide the follow through...

"Breed the best, cull the rest." -- Matt Nuenke

Stuart is exactly right.  We must change the way we think about living, its purpose and direction.  Consumption cannot be an end in itself.  Business cannot be an end in itself.  Endless growth is not a possibility.  The time is coming when only the dreamers will be the realists.  

The others...well, sometimes I think they will always be as shadows in Plato's cave.  And what they grasp will be as it has always been.

I wonder how many people have tried to change their way of life. I was thinking about my contribution to society as I drove around needlessly, going about my usual Friday business(a night out at the local casino and buffet). And as I cruised home I wonder just how much I could change without any outside interference..

We are all products of what has occurred to this country of the past 25 years and that's CONSUMERISM!! We have all(most) been caught up with the keeping up with jones in our own little ways. Mine has been by getting a better paying job and making more money then I realized I could. It's afforded me a way of life I couldn't have imagined just ten years ago.

But now we arrive at peak oil and its making me look around and smell the roses so to speak and wonder, can I really change??  Can we change or will it take the downside of peak to make us change??  Lets wonder..

what has occurred to this country of the past 25 years and that's CONSUMERISM!!


You betray your youth with that 25 year number.
Actually, advertising; suggesting to people that they buy our product versus the other guy's product has been around for 100's of years.

Only $750. And for $850 it will burn coal to boot!

But back to your point about changing our way of life.

When that big storm came through California recently, the electricity went out --ALL DAY LONG-- oh my. No TV. No Internet. The electrically controlled heater shut off. The refrigerator shut off.

That was just one short day.
I shudder to think how primitive life will get when the real   stuff hits the fan.

Check out this quote from the 1835 classic "Democracy in America", by Alexis de Tocqueville:

"It is odd to watch with what feverish ardor the Americans pursue prosperity. Millions of men are all marching together toward the same point on the horizon; their languages, religions, and mores are different, but they have one common aim. They have been told that fortune is to be found somewhere toward the west, and they hasten to seek it... For them desire for well-being has become a restless, burning passion which increases with satisfaction... they enjoy the sensations as much as the profit...In Europe we habitually regard a restless spirit, a moderate desire for wealth, and an extreme love of independence as great social dangers, but precisely these things assure a long and peaceful future in the American republics."

This was written, about Americans, over 170 years ago!

The fundamental thing required to stop economic growth would be to stop population growth...

Spot on, but probably an unachievable goal. Charles Galton Darwin explained why way back in the Fifties of the last century: in the long run homo contracipiens is always beaten by homo progenitivus -- since natural selection ultimately favours the latter.

CGD's essay "Can man control his numbers?" can be found here:

Obviously population growth produces an ever increasing number of mouths to feed, clothe, shelter and here in America, shower with gifts.  I also believe that Stuart is correct when he points out that our society pushes us to continue to increase consumption needlessly.  Check out deconsumption for more on the manipulative system in which we live.


I think the bottom line though is that our economy is base on compounding interest.  You have to make more money with what was loaned to you in order to pay back the principle AND the interest.  Growth is necessary because you're gambling that things will be better (bigger) in the future.

economic growth = population growth ?

I do not agree.
Economic growth can happen without population growth.

Let's say I run a shop that sells Pet Rocks and Personal Computers (PR's and PC's are Us).

One day I get an order from Inattentive Ivan for 1,000,000 PC's. He meant to check off Pet Rocks, but his pen slipped. Ooops.

Now that is a lot of PC's. I need to hire a handful to technicians to help me make sure all 1,000,000 PC's are in good operating condition before we ship. I need to hire shipping clerks, etc.

When I give my new workers their first pay check, they all go out and spend ... wherever ... the sandwich shop, the clothing store, etc. The "economy" is picking up for everyone because a positive feedabck signal has entered the system. If the positive pulse is big enough, things really start humming.

Just as I'm about to start shipping out those 1,000,000 PC's, Ivan calls me. Made a big mistake he says. It was PR's not PC's. I immediately fire my new techs to cut my losses. They immediately stop visiting the local sandwich shop, the clothing store, etc.

Now the "economy" is going down. If the negative pulse is big enough, things really start collapsing quickly. It's a mindless, run-away system. It has little to do with population. It has to do with getting "demand" signals from customers. When the customer says go, the system goes into pedal to metal mode. When the customer says stop, the emergancy brakes are applied. That is why we constantly see these up and down cycles. It is a mindless machine. We are on it just for the ride.

Mark Steyn had a good article recently detailing how China, Japan and most of Europe have turned the corner on pop growth....essentially at current rates all these areas will drop 50% or more in population by the end of the century.
FIFTY PERCENT!!.....these are studies that dont know about the lack of energy and food we believe to accurate...
Of course the muslim and 3rd world catholic countries would have multipied many fold by then....
demographics are going to be VERY different.
 .....Gosh.... I hope Richard Rainwater and I will be able to find someone we can sell these last few barrels to.
For 90% of the world's population economic growth is a neccesity not a luxury. If the way economic growth is distributed were changed so workers take home a greater percentage of their own productivity then the amount of economic growth needed could be reduced.  It's not just status symbols these people need. They need homes with clean running water, that keep them dry when it rains, that keep them warm when it snows, and is able to protect them from milaria carrying misquitoes when they sleep. They need a health care system that keeps enough of them healthy enough to be productive workers. They need efficient transportation networks to carry their products from land locked areas to the sea. Those who still have arable land need wind pumps and tractors which can draw its fuel from their ag wastes. Urban workers need pollution free transportation from home to work and to market.
All this requires that more fuels and electricity needs to be available which means more wind, solar, biomass, and new ways of using nuclear energy. Any talk about ending economic growth is just an insulting way of telling 90% of the world's population to drop dead.
"Any talk about ending economic growth is just an insulting way of telling 90% of the world's population to drop dead."

  1. Are we talking about life and death, or people's delicate feelings?

  2. Yes, but since economic growth cannot continue forver, it must end.

  3. Which 90%?

  4. Which 10%?

  5. Thank you, Mr. DePlume, for being so close to the truth. Keep digging: you are almost there.
The only (?) things that can grow forever are knowledge and wisdom.  And with them, we are able to do more and more good with less and less stuff and influence on our planet. IMO, With just what we know now we can make everybody everywhere pretty happy, if we just get out and do it--  there's the rub.

BTW, I live near a pretty typical little town in the USA, and almost all of my friends are like me; we don't give a hoot what the other people are driving and living in.  Most of our happinesses come from doing simple things and being friends with each other.  And I have seen the same things all over the world, among people who have not one tenth of what we here think is poverty.

I just went to a big city.  The waste of everything I saw there made me even sicker than what I had that caused me to go there.

This is one of the reasons I see capitalism as a Ponzi scheme.  The only thing that makes it tolerable is the idea that anyone who pays into the system and works hard can eventually rise to the top.  Or least reasonably high up.  

That's about to change, and it's going to be painful.  

I don't see why the two things contradict each other - we want growth in order to get richer and our financial system is our way to achieve it. In order to stop economic growth we first must change our values and second reform our system so that it supports zero growth.
Mamals breed as much as they can.  Correct that and growth has no teeth.  Fail to correct that and you've got growth.
I think this paper is half right.  No doubt, inflation will be the way the government handles the peak oil economic crisis.  It will be the easiest thing to do.  It's easier than raising taxes or cutting spending.

But I don't think we'll protect the poor from the effects of runaway inflation.  

Treating money as debt does not require growth and does not depend on and is not necessarily a consequence of capitalism. This is one of the myths that has been promulgated for years - when I first heard it I think it was almost 30 years ago from a communist "Workers Unite" broadsheet I'd picked up somewhere; I have to say it puzzled me at the time, but I've seen and understood plenty of explanations of this (certainly in some ways confusing) issue since then.

If you have an interest in the evolution of money and the "trust" it depends on for value, a fun (but long) series is Neal Stephenson's "Baroque Trilogy". A lot of unrelated stuff in there too of couse...

Growth is certainly related to capital: it's the increase in an economy's capital goods that enables growth (i.e. manufacture and distribution of more goods and wealth). Physical manufacture may be limited by energy resource constraints, but growth in information goods is likely to continue at present or even accelerated rates, unless we have some real disaster that completely disrupts modern civilization. But "capitalism" as a system isn't the only place capital goods increase - the Soviet Union experienced periods of very rapid growth with a decidedly non-capitalist system of production.

The system of money we use now is only an arbitrary but mutually agreed measure of value; interest rates are a measure of its price in a marketplace of supply and demand, and completely unrelated to economic growth rates - except insofar as a growing economy tends to have a higher demand for money. Governments which issue monetary instruments can regulate the supply, at least to some extent, which does have an impact directly on interest rates (lowering supply raises rates, obviously) and indirectly on economic growth (higher interest rates tend to slow growth). But that relationship alone indicates an INVERSE relationship between interest rates and growth rates; in fact, the difference between the two rates in historical experience (not even counting inflation, which is a measure of the decline in accepted market value of money) can be very large in either direction, which should cause anybody to doubt that charging interest bears any direct relationship to economic growth.

And our present capitalist system seems to handle recessions  (real declines in economic activity) just fine, so I'm not sure where all this fuss is coming from these days...

"I'm not sure where all this fuss is coming from these days..."

...same place it was coming from in the old days. Communism rebranded as anticapitalism, antiindustrialism and doom mongering. It's no coincidence that a whole set of these iseas is being recycled.

My opinion is that the many of the commenters here start with the assumption that the modern world is fated to doom, then try to build a model that explains why.

"And our present capitalist system seems to handle recessions  (real declines in economic activity) just fine, so I'm not sure where all this fuss is coming from these days..."

Name one recession that has not be overcome with government help (being proinflationary in all cases). The argument is that just like growth feeds growth, recession feeds recession - this until the economy reaches a state where new opportunities for growth are available usually with the help of increased government spending and/or low IR. The responsible PO scenarios are claiming that without an alternative energy source the economy will enter a period of ever-widening recessions, followed by ever-shortening periods of growth until we will be hitting the resource limits over and over again. At some point everything will start to fall apart because we will not be able to maintain the  infrastructure we have and basicly everybody will start losing faith in the future, including investors who will stop investing and the economy will bring to a halt. If this is not a collapse I don't know how to call it... It may not happen overnight (as maybe some people are imagining) but will happen exactly because we are lacking a mechanism to keep our economic activity in steady state relative to the environment.

Of course this picture is isolated from the likely political and social cataclysms that are likely to happen in the meantime... Basicly the doomsday scenarious are primarily in this area, and for the time being I'm not ruling out any of them completely.

The investors are already investing less in the OECD countries. The energy problems are here already.
For a look at the background to a whole series of financial crises and an analysis as to why some became so severe see Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises by Charles Kindleberger. The availability of a lender of last resort is a key factor.

Primary concerns this time centre around the magnitude of global financial imbalances and the scale of the highly leveraged casino called the derivatives market (perhaps $150 trillion?). There are some things too large for any lender of last resort to bail out.

Yes. This book is the classic on the subject. I first found it on a suggested reading list of an advanced finance class. It is not too hard to penetrate, but I found it a bit dull. I'll pick it up again.
Here's a non-economist's attempt to explore where the fuss is coming from. Perhaps an economist, by explaining which of these assumptions is wrong, can show why there's no need to worry.

What is the relationship between money-as-debt, economic growth, and net-present-value?

In the current economic system, if I bury $10 for ten years, it will be worth a lot less when I dig it up. The net present value of $10-in-ten-years is small. So I invest the money instead of burying it. Likewise, if I have a resource that I can sell for $10 today or $10 in ten years, I will certainly sell it today.

What happens if $10 will be worth more in 10 years than it is today? The first-level answer seems to be that no one will invest, and there'll be a big sucking sound as everyone's money is buried in the backyard and the stock market collapses.

What is it that controls the future value of $10? There's the interest rate, the inflation rate, the rate of resource creation (not GDP, much of which is simply money shuffling), the rate of resource depletion. And probably a few other things. It's easy to see how people can start to think that it's debt/interest that makes it worthwhile to invest the $10.

If investment is no longer a good idea, but inflation threatens the value of $10 of a particular currency, people will just stop at the gold store on their way from the stock market to the backyard.

If investment falls off, then resources lose some of their value. A widget is worth less when half the widget-users have just gone out of business. Then the widget-makers will start to fail, and the gadgets they use will be worth less. Not only will fewer new widgets and gadgets be created, but half the ones that were created last year can no longer be counted toward propping up the value of the $10.

So it looks like resource creation is not a reliable source of support. Threat of inflation is not a reliable source of support. What's left, other than the debt system, to say that investment is a good idea?


I'm not an economist, but your claims seem wrong on several fronts:

* your argument mainly refers to inflation vs. deflation, though confused with investment terms - "net present value" of $10 in ten years is somewhat different from the value of a $10 bill when you dig it up after 10 years. The value of the $10 bill after you dig it up is determined precisely by the inflation rate in the intervening period. Net present value of an investment that returns "$10 in ten years", on the other hand, is determined by risks and opportunity costs.

  I.e. if there is some chance the investment will return zero instead of $10 (even backyard burial has a risk the money will disappear...), then the net present value of "$10 in ten years" is lowered by a risk premium. You may be thinking of the "$10 in ten years" from a particular investment, but that investment is competing with every other investment that could return "$10 in ten years" (including backyard burial), and the real "net present value" theoretically corresponds to the least expensive of those competing investments that provides the same return.

  So if I can invest $1 now that provides "$10 in ten years" with the same risk profile as your investment, the net present value of your investment is in fact $1, or less if there's an even better investment opportunity out there. This investment opportunity cost (and risk premium) has almost no relation to inflation or interest rates - except that interest rates are banks' (and lendees) way of competing for that investment money.

* What does "bury the money in the ground" mean anyway? You have really two choices with money: save it, or spend it. Savings add to the pool of money you have for investment, spending takes away from it. By your same logic, under inflation, people would spend all their money on physical goods now, since they'll only cost more later. By putting off consumptive purchases, deflation therefore leaves more money for investment/savings now.

The situation you describe could be real if no investment provided a positive return; that seems a very unrealistic scenario though, and is quite different from the issue of resource depletion or deflation. At its simplest an investment does two things:

 1 - purchase some capital good
 2 - use that capital good to produce other goods for sale

To provide no positive return, the monetary value (no net present value discounting etc) of the capital good itself plus revenue from all the goods produced by it, after 10 years, say, would have to be less than the original purchase value of the capital good. There are certainly some investments with such problems, but to have a situation where every potential investment results in an expected loss like that? That would certainly lead people to "bury their money", but I find it hard to see how, even in a resource depleted and/or deflationary world, every such alternate investment opportunity would have a negative return!

Totally off the topic of today's conversation, but for those who are keeping track of production recovery in Louisianna, I just saw this link


This report shows the amount of restored production for oil (61%) and natural gas (72.5%) and for pipeline facilities for Louisianna, onshore and continuing out 3 miles offshore (state jurisdiction).  This information is separate from that reported by the Minerals Management Service for offshore production.

Two new items this weeks from EIA that are encouraging.  Working nat'l gas is now par with last year at this time.  The usa had been running as low as 8% down but the deficit has evaporated.  On top of that, last week's volume was a healthy 12% above the 5-yr avg and helps confirm my predictions at TOD of a minimum 1150-bcf trough in late March.  And current pricing is reflecting that the doom and gloom was unwarranted...

EIA also released global refining data illustrating a full 86-mbd will be available in 2006, mainly thanx to progress in China.  Their table shows all countries and is back dates to 1970. I expect this year's global all liquids extraction to be about 86-mbd. This would seem to indicate 100% capacity but i am confident that someone could enlighten us as to how much of the 86-mbd does not require refining ... e.g. processing gains, etc that are incl in the definition of all liquid production.  Stuart, i'm not sure if this is the same table that u used for in part for your awesome recent utilization graph.

While writing off the gloom and doom re: nat. gas prices as unwarranted, do note that northern tier temps have been well above normal thus far.  Using Albany and Minneapolis as representative of the Northeast and Upper Midwest, temps since Dec 1 have been above normal for 27 and 28 of the 44 days respectively, including the last 22 and 23 days, respectively, often by nearly 20F.  So, since the real heating bear would have normally kicked in about mid-Dec, temps have been (often well-)above normal every day.  Northern tier doomers must certainly be thinking that it's better to be lucky than right in this case.  Of course there are two solid months of deep heating season left...
     Yes but the report also noted that the warmer than normal temperatures contributed to a reduced drawdown of natural gas ( 20 bcf in the week rather than 97 bcf last year).  The weather was noted to be more than 30% warmer than normal.   Do I gather that you are promising that this will continue for the rest of this winter, and for the winters of the future?
I will remind both of u that my prediction of the high trough (1050-bcf) in working gas for March 2006 was based on our May 16th 2005 optimism of a warmer than avg Autumn.  That was followed by a late summer projection of a warmer than avg Winter on its way.  I merge the seasonal forecasts to the production data in our analysis.  This is not luck.  In about nine weeks we will see the nat'l gas trough.  And those that boasted of 200/400/600-bcf troughing will have egg on their faces (again).

And each time they cry wolf on a coming crisis, be it gas or oil, their credibility flounders.  That is why mainstream media discounts the Peakists.  Few of the latter do their homework and the media doesn't want to be associated with their perpetual wrong calls...

Freddy - I respectfully disagree. In November, winter contracts were all above $14 for NG, lots of professional forecasters predicted colder than average winter and lots predicted a warmer than average winter. 4 months ahead, especially after the most active hurrican season in recent memory NO ONE can predict weather with that much certainty.
Because NG trough will be what you predicted is partially based on your diligence (and I do agree that many Peak Oilers probably dont do their homework) but partly based on the luck of a warm winter.

However, what do you say to the fact that even as Jan/Feb?March contracts are dropping like stones, 2008 contracts are making all time highs? Seems to me no one is predicting the weather 2 years out, but they are predicting a structural problem in nat gas market. What are your predictions for nat gas prices from 2008-2012? A broad range would be fine. I think we are permanently above $20 mcf by 2010, at least in North America. My opinion is based on the depletion rates of new wells, and the lack of fast switching ability for nat gas users, and partially due to peaking in oil before then.

I addressed this a couple of weeks ago.  LNG terminals are being approved and constructed fast enuf.  The Feds have tried to fast track the process but mostly in vain to date.  There's lotsa LNG out there and lotsa ships but contracts are going to other jurisdictions that are ready or going to be ready in 2007-2009.
Anyone hear the Ruppert/Corsi 3 hour debate last night?

Poll results after show re "who won":
Corsi 62%
Ruppert 38%

Corsi just talked bullshit all night.

Ruppert should do the Peak Oil communities of the world a big favor and just go jump off a cliff.  Anybody who mixes up Peak Oil with gubmint 9/11 conspiracies is just muddying the waters.
I wouldn't suggest he do anything to harm himself, but I certainly wish he would voluntarily find a comfortable lifestyle doing something that kept him and his ramblings out of the public eye.  
Fanaticism is in the eye of the beholder.  To most people anyone who espouses the idea that peak oil will cause them any harm is a fanatic.  Yes, Ruppert has egg on his face (so far) about his predictions for this winter.  Matthew Simmons has egg on his face so far about his predictions of $200 oil.  But remember general public just isn't going to respond to peak oil until they are forced to.  And snake oil salesmen like Corsi will continue to be more popular than doom-and-gloom salesmen like Ruppert (and TOD) no matter how much credibility they have.  It's for this reason that I've stopped talking to people about peak oil and the coming crash of civilization unless I know they already understand the situation.  I also agree that making dire short term predictions is risky and hurts our credibility.

By the way, I read Ruppert's book and think he is pretty much right on the money about everything, including 9/11.

For the umpteenth time, Simmons did not predict $200 oil this winter. You don't have to believe me. Go look for yourself. He stated that we had a chance of $100 oil this winter and a high probability of $200 oil by 2010.

The egg here is not on Simmons face.

I know.  Simmons said we MAY see $200 oil as early as winter 2006.  And Ruppert said we MAY be just weeks away from a total economic collapse in the US (or something to that effect).  

Why this visceral dislike for Mike Ruppert by some people on this board?  Why does Matt Simmons have credibility by Ruppert doesn't?  Because of 911?  That's still a real hot button issue isn't it?  Can't deal with it rationally.  Must be in our genes.

It's not because of 9/11.  It's because Ruppert comes across as a nut.  And not just about 9/11.  All that stuff about the CIA using secret weapons on him and such.  His prediction that the CIA would overthrow President Bush before the 2004 election.  Etc.  I don't dislike him at all, but I think he's certifiably nuts.  
Simmons on $200 oil:

scroll down to October 24th entry on this blog.

In fairness to Simmons, he only predicted $100 oil, not $200, for this winter. The $200 oil was by 2010 and in a bet with a New York Times columnist. So he has plenty of time to hope that one will come true (although the markets are betting it won't).
If IEA hadn't tapped emergency oil reserve since last October, do you think that oil price might have reached $100 per barrel by now?
You're right BabyPeanut.  We should ignore the evidence implicating government complicity on 9/11.  We should also ignore the acts of genocide our government is committing against sovereign nations all over the world. Crunch the numbers in the last three US led wars (Vietnam-Gulf 1-Gulf 2) you are looking at close to 4 million exterminated (McNamara 3.4 million in Vietnam alone).  How many did Hitler exterminate? Oh ya that's right we are protecting ourselves.  We don't need camps; we have aircraft carriers and long range bombers.  Let's not muddy the water...


I'm one, however, who was led to the realization of Peak Oil via Ruppert and Crossing the Rubicon.  Of course, one doesn't need to believe US Govt complicity in 9/11 to believe in Peak Oil and 9/11 doesn't really have a place in Peak Oil discussions.  On the other hand, a discussion of recent US foreign policy, in general, and alternatives to the "official version" of 9/11, in particular, is very much informed by an understanding of Peak Oil.
Force Majeure of the Week
LAGOS, Jan. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Royal Dutch Shell on Friday declared a force majeure at its Forcados terminal in southern Nigeria after an attack on one of its pipelines, a company spokesman said.

    "Yes, Shell has declared a force majeure at the Forcados terminal after the Trans-Ramos pipeline was vandalized. It started today," the spokesman told Xinhua.

Does anyone know the current status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves?  Are they filled up again after they were sold off after Katrina?

The question is timely because it seems unlikely that the US would want a war with Iran without first topping off these energy reserves.  War with Iran is sure to cause a spike in the price of crude and probably shortages in some places (Europe?) due to overall tightness in the market.  It is not like the Saudis can simply fill a gap in production to compensate for Iran going off line.
Hurricane Katrina Drawdown


DOE evaluated each bid and determined that five companies had submitted acceptable offers for 11 million barrels.

   * ExxonMobil has contracted for 6 million barrels, half sweet and half sour from the Bayou Choctaw storage site.  Oil began flowing on Saturday, September 3;
    * Valero has contracted for 1.5 million barrels of sweet crude oil.  Its oil will follow the initial flow to ExxonMobil;
    * Placid Refining has contracted for 1.0 million barrels of sweet crude from the Bayou Choctaw site.  The oil will start flowing the week of September 4, at a rate of no more than 50,000 barrels per day;
    * ATI (Total) has contracted for 600,000 barrels of oil from the West Hackberry storage site (150,000 barrels of sweet crude and 450,000 barrels of sour crude).  This oil began flowing on Friday, September 2;
    * BP has contracted for 2 million barrels of Bayou Choctaw sweet crude;
    * Marathon has contracted for 1 million barrels of sweet crude and 500,000 barrels of sour crude from the Bayou Choctaw site.

So how long does it take to put 11.6 million (or so) barrels back?
oh wait
The U.S. oil sale will represent half of the 60 million barrel stock withdrawal agreed to unanimously by the IEA nations.
The sale is in addition to the 12.6 million barrels of crude oil from the government's emergency oil stockpile that the Energy Department previously agreed to lend to six companies in exchange for oil to be returned later (see previous post).

So 30 million US plus 30 million IEA plus 12.5 million US = 72.5 million barrels.
Check out this description of the housing bubble bursting in Shanghai:,1,4708397.story?track=morenews&coll=la-s tory-footer&ctrack=1&cset=true

China is following in the deflationary footsteps of Japan 15 years earlier. Japanese buyers needed intergenerational mortgages to buy homes in Tokyo before their bubble burst. The collapse of their real estate market caused huge difficulties for their banking system (which have yet to be fully resolved). In 15 years, Japan went from being the world's largest creditor to being the world's second largest debtor after the US.

China is at the beginning of the same process of unwinding the excesses of a huge credit boom. I would expect their surplus to be sacrificed to unsuccessful attempts to reflate the bubble, just as Japan's was.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) states that new immigrants (legal and illegal) plus births to immigrants add some 2.3 million people to thje U.S. each year.

I have seen much higher estimates.

Does this population growth result in increased economic growth?

At what rate of largely unskilled immigration will our health care, educational, and other social structures be overwhelmed such that needs become greater every year?  


As I mentioned above, Greenspan claims we owe all the economic growth of the past 20 years to immigration.  Not only do immigrants increase our population by moving here, they increase it for 2-3 generations, because they tend to have larger families, until fully assimilated.  

It may already be happening.  From the Washington Post:

"Maryland lawmakers yesterday approved legislation that would effectively require Wal-Mart to boost spending on health care, a direct legislative thrust against a corporate giant that is already on the defensive on many fronts nationwide."

At what rate of largely unskilled immigration will our health care, educational, and other social structures be overwhelmed such that needs become greater every year?

Considering the age structure of the vast majority of the immigrants I would rather say it the other way around:
"At how much lower rate of immigration the getting older work force will not be abble to support our healthcare and retirement systems?"

Yup.  That is why it's usually in the government's interest to encourage the population to increase, even if it's already too large.  They need the laborers, taxpayers, and of course, soldiers.  So the Romans set up orphanages and passed tax incentives that encouraged having kids, even while they struggled to feed the population.  The Maya fed the females at the expense of the males, ensuring fertility would be unimpaired even while people starved.  I expect we'll do something similar.
And we become more and more like the third world country the immigrants came from.
Well, yeah.  Until we reach parity, and they no longer bother to come.  

It's a difficult issue.  If the resources of the world were evenly distributed among all the people on earth, it would mean a massive drop in our standard of living, even without peak oil.  Clearly, we have the farthest to fall.  It may be reasonable to expect us to give up more than others.  But one's going to want to do that.  

Thank you Leanan.  I reread all your comments on this thread. Good clear analysis about population,the economy, and PO, IMO.
Minor point, but archaeological evidence indicates that the Romans did not struggle to feed their population before the crises of the later 5th century.
The Roman empire suffered a population collapse. We aren't sure why. The Germans moved into an empty empire and took over.
Tainter points out that population growth often levels out before collapse, or even reverses.  
Do you have any links to the unexplained population collapse in the Roman Empire?


Maybe, one dark night, the slaves slit the necks of their masters? Then, the next morning, the slaves did not know how to keep the Empire they had inherited running? So they walked away. The wealth distribution hockey stick had come to its logical end.

Actually, the latest historical research indictes that "there is no sign in the fourth century that the Empire was about to collapse.... the late Empire was essentially a success story." See Peter Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire (Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 141. According to the evidence Heather presents, Rome fell not due to internal economic or political problems but because an unprecidented external military shock delivered by invading Germanic tribal coalitions themselves fleeing a rising Hunnic power in the region north of the Black Sea.
I'm inclined to side with Tainter on this.  He argues that that's the way societies always collapse.  They don't collapse under their own weight.  They collapse when they are vulnerable, and are hit by a new crisis.  Earlier in their history, they might have survived the resource crunch, plague, military defeat, or natural disaster...but once they are already struggling with diminishing returns, such shocks are increasingly likely to lead to collapse.

I think there was ample evidence that Rome was under economic stress.  Namely the debasement of their currency.

It wasn't really unexplained, though fundamentalist Christians and other anti-population control groups often point to it as the cause of the Roman collapse.  I suspect that in fact it's the opposite: the economic stresses that led to collapse also reduced the population.  Warfare, famine, plague - it all tends to go along with economic stress.  

The debasement of the currency and increased taxation were responses to the dramatic rise of Perisan power in the mid-third century. (The emperor Valerian was captured in battle in 259.) The economy responded to the demands for more resources for the army and had stabilized by the end of the third century. The first Gothic invasion into Thrace did not occur until 377, and Gaul was not invaded until 405.

The final crisis in the West did not really begin until the Vandals captured the wealthy North African provinces (the granary of Rome) beginning in 435. This took a massive bite out of imperial tax revenues making it impossible, after Rome's failure to retake North Africa, for it to maintain sufficient military forces to retain control of Gaul and Spain.

The "collapse" of Roman civilization happened after the end of Roman political authority in the Western Empire in 476. Indeed, the worst crisis did not come until much later with the triple invasions of the Saracens, the Magyars and the Northmen into the Germanic successor kingdoms.

Well we certainly have many historical scholars here.
Thank you.

So to summarize: It was just a series of external poundings, each one making the Empire weaker (i.e. loss of North African graineries) until the last few jabs knocked the heavy weight champ down for good?

That's what the latest research, as summarize in Heather's book cited above, indicates. Heather's overall point is that, absent the Germanic invasions of the 5th century, there is every reason to believe the Western Empire would have endured indefinitely. The Eastern Empire, recall, lasted nearly 1,000 years after the abdication of the last Western emperor -- Romulus Augustulus' reign in Rome ended in 476; Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
Not that there are real dots to connect here, but a scant 40 years after Constantinople fell in 1453, Christopher Columbus was out there on the big pond, employing his "wind powered" wooden ships onward in search for the West Indies.

Europe was in her Dark Ages between the fall of Rome and the invention by James Watt around 1769 of the steam engine.

With coal and steam at hand, the Age of Enlightenment and Fossil Power had begun. Industrialization had begun.

We've never quite looked back and worried about a new Dark Age ... until now.

I would say it was diminishing returns that did Rome in.  Their "strategy" was conquest.  That was how they acquired wealth (in the form of gold, slaves, etc.).  But you can't keep doing that forever.  Once that stopped, their fate was sealed.

"External poundings" are not something unusual.  They are part of the job description for complex societies.  Indeed, dealing with "external poundings" is what complex societies are for.  

I don't agree that Roman Empire would still be around today, were it not for those pesky barbarians.  They were facing diminishing returns, which made it only a matter of time.    

With all due respect, this is simply not true. The growth of the Roman Empire ended with the conquest of Britain in 43. The Empire endured within its mid-first century borders, with a couple of small exceptions (e,g, Dacia, Mesopotamia), for the next 450 years.
They were nevertheless facing diminishing returns.  You don't collapse overnight when faced with diminishing returns.  You may struggle on for centuries, as Greer points out.  

Greer also has an explanation for why the eastern Empire survived for so much longer than the Western:

The Roman collapse has an instructive feature which offers further support to the model presented here. In 297 the emperor Diocletian divided the empire into western and eastern halves. Coordination between them waned, and by the death of Theodosius I in 395, the two halves of the empire were effectively independent states. Since the western empire produced 1/3 the revenues of the eastern empire, but had more than twice as much northern frontier to defend against barbarian encroachments, this placed most of the original empire's vulnerabilities in one half and most of its remaining resources in the other. In terms of the catabolic collapse model, the eastern Empire allowed massive quantities of relatively unproductive, high-maintenance capital to be converted to waste, bringing its M(p) below its remaining C(p) and breaking out of the catabolic cycle. The eastern empire's territory decreased further with the Muslim conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries CE; while this was involuntary the effects were the same. Successfully shifting to a level of organization that could be supported sustainably by trade and agriculture within a more manageable territory, the eastern Empire survived for nearly a millennium longer than its western twin (Bury 1923).

IMO, crediting the barbarians for the fall of Rome is like crediting Reagan with the fall of the Soviet Union.  The events he set in motion as president may have affected the timing, but they had structural problems long before Reagan was elected.  No matter who was elected, they would have collapsed eventually.

Greer?  Come on:

Dissatisfaction with some aspects of the Golden Dawn system, especially its lack of contact with the realities of green nature, led him to Druidry. In 1995 he joined the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD) began its correspondence study program, and progressed through the three degrees of Bard, Ovate and Druid, receiving his certificate as a Druid Companion of the Order in 2002. In 2003 he was honored with OBOD's Mount Haemus Award for Druid scholarship.

I'll stick with real historians.

How about sticking to debating Greer's ideas on the topic to hand, rather than focussing on his beliefs in order to discredit him? Many other people have made significant contributions to various fields of study while holding all manner of odd beliefs on the side.
You're right. I should have stuck to the facts and avoided ad hominem arguments.

The facts are that the Empire, after Constantine, was divided in two for administrative purposes but it was always one Empire. Greer is wrong to see East and West as two separate entities. Throughout the crises of the 5th century, the East responded with significant military force to the West's problems. Eastern forces were decisive in driving Attila the Hun from northern Italy, and Constantinople bankrupted itself launching an ill-fated joint naval expedition with the goal of retaking North Africa for Rome.

Yeah, you're right.  In that case, I'll also write off anyone who believes in a virgin birth or commits ritual cannibalism every Sunday.  ;-)

I confess, I don't give a lot of credence to historians.  Tainter covers this to some extent; what survives, especially when you're talking about ancient civilizations, is not complete, and is not necessarily a random sampling of information.  That is why he concentrated on things like the debasement of the currency and tax laws when he analyzed Rome's collapse.  There is complete information about those.

Tainter is an archaeologist, and his book is widely used as an anthropology textbook.  That is the direction I think is most useful when you're studying collapse - a scientific one.  The proximate cause of Rome's collapse may well be military or political conflict, but that was not the ultimate cause.  They handled the Germanic tribes just fine earlier in their history, after all.

And I think this is very relevant to the topic of peak oil.  Peak oil will cause the collapse of the United States.  But not overnight.  Possibly not for centuries.  We'll struggle on for decades, perhaps centuries.  Likely converting all our resources and capital to waste, as Greer describes.  When future historians write the history of the American Empire, they'll blame the collapse on wars, or plagues, or our shortsighted disregard for the environment.  Few will recognize 1970 - peak oil USA - as being significant.  

Good historians, like Heather, take full account of the archeological evidence. And don't forget, as with other sources archeological evidence is neither complete and nor necessarily random. The data sets used by historians are limited, alas, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying to study history. Nor does it mean we can't judge the difference between good and bad history.
Of course archaeological evidence is fragmentary.  But archaeologists are trained to understand that, and take it into account (as Tainter does).

I think it comes down to a different way of thinking.  History is liberal arts in most colleges, while archaeology/anthropolgy is science.  It's an entirely different approach.  

I can't say about all universities, but where I studied history it was offically part of the Social Sciences. I also know plenty of "cultural" anthropologists who are much closer to English lit types than they are to paleotologists. It all depends where you go to school....
I suspect it also depends on when you went to school.  Archaeology and anthropology have gotten a lot "harder" in recent years.  Not really social sciences at all.  Not like they used to be, anyway.
Possibles. We don't really know.
  1. Sugar was expensive so they used "sugar of lead" a lot and died off from lead poisoning.
  2. Increased communications led to faster spread of disease and population loss to epidemics.
  3. Increased urbanisation led to increased exposure to nonepidemic enteric diseases.
  4. Slaves became unprofitable so they used infanticide to control the slave population and most of the population was slaves.
  5. The gods hated them and killed them off to show their displeasure at monotheism.
  6. Overtaxation made children unaffordable so infanticide spread.
  7. Increased centralisaion of land ownership made children uneconomic because their weren't enough farm owner children. Farm employees don't benefit from child labor, nor due absentee farm landlords.
  8. ?
I vote for number 2 --the germs won.

Many people believe that we humans are at the top of the "food chain".

To throw them off their tall pedestals, I sometimes remind them that the germs always eat us, that is, after we have tenderized a bit from our short stay 6 feet under. ;-)

As I've said before...disease and resources are closely linked.  Stress, malnutrition, and overcrowding greatly increase the likelihood of disease outbreaks.  
A Fortune article last year predicted that the Southern U.S. would have:  more droughts; higher winds and more fires--because of rapid climate changes brought on by a slowing of the Gulf Stream.  Following the link to the Fortune article is a story about the drought in Arizona.

In my opinion, large portions of the Southern states need to IMMEDIATELY ban outdoor watering of lawns and implement water conservation measures similar to Santa Fe's.  The current weather patterns may be with us for a long time.

Climate Collapse: The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare
By: David Stipp


Though triggered by warming, such change would probably cause cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe. Worse, it would cause massive droughts, turning farmland to dust bowls and forests to ashes. Picture last fall's California wildfires as a regular thing.

From Drudge:

State could have its driest winter season in centuries
PHOENIX (AP) -- As much of Arizona enters an 11th year of drought conditions, the state could experience its driest winter season in centuries.

And that has officials worried about agriculture, water supplies and the threat of wildfires.

Arizona's mountains are virtually bare, with snowpack conditions worse than they were at the same time in 2002 -- a year that set records as one of the driest in five centuries.

Rural areas are bracing for water shortages by early summer if rains don't come.

January and February typically bring much of the snow needed to refill reservoirs and keep rivers and forests healthy.

But a stubborn weather pattern has been steering every storm north of Arizona so far this winter.

The Salt and Verde rivers' watersheds received just 0.14 of an inch of rain in November and December, and none has fallen in Phoenix since Oct. 18.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Larry Martinez, water supply specialist for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. "It's quite shocking to a lot of folks who depend on the snow. There could still be a miracle turnaround; don't underestimate Mother Nature. But the trend doesn't look good for us right now."

Farmers who draw on smaller rivers and reservoirs could run short this year. The lack of rain will increase the demand for water early in growing seasons, which will further weaken supplies.

Poor range conditions could tighten grazing allotments, squeezing ranchers who have yet to recover from earlier dry years.

Meanwhile, some experts are already predicting one of the worst wildfire seasons in years around Arizona with a lethal combination of drying trees and dried-out grass and shrubs.

The state Department of Water Resources had begun meeting with local leaders under a drought plan produced two years ago by a governor's task force.

That process, led in part by a newly appointed statewide drought coordinator, is expected to take on added importance as rural communities seek guidance in creating drought and conservation blueprints.

The main effect of the dry winter in the Phoenix metropolitan area is an increase in water consumption, say city water departments.

Mesa increased its use of Central Arizona Project water by 17% in November and 26% in December.

Whether cities will be forced to dip into other reserves depends on the weather for the next two or three months. Forecasters are predicting warm, dry conditions.

I looked into this a little, and it does seem like there's something of a trend for drier winters in the Southwest over the twentieth century:

The top left is DJF = December/January/February, and so on. Green dots are getting wetter, brown dots drier.

Source: IPCC 2001 report

West Texas

We in Australia are getting hotter days and more droughts.

Sydney on New Years day was 113F (45C) at 9pm that night it was 104. Next day the temperature was 77. This was the hottest day on record.

Our political masters don't get it. Clean Coal and desalination of water are the answer we are told. The band plays on!! If you saw what happened at the climate summit held this week you would wring your hands. Bodman told everyone that Nuclear is a renewable form of energy. ml

Meanwhile some people are making not waiting for govt to fix it they are now installing rainwater tanks to water their gardens and flush their toilets. In Sydney we already have Category 3 water restrictions. We can only water our gardens 3 days a week and cannot wash our cars with a hose. Car wash businesses are exempt. Funny that.

Many want light rail to replace buses in the city but again politics intervenes to keep the status quo. Peak oil and Greenhouse are certainly two horseman riding together.

Here in central TX we have not had any significant rain since June.  The temperature has also been running 20 degrees or so above normal.  I recently saw a billboard:  Pray for Rain.
Snow in Phuket in December:

Freak snowfall in Phang Nga baffles scientists

(2005-12-23 13:25:24)

Following several weeks of unseasonable weather, Phang Nga locals were surprised to find themselves wading through several inches of fresh snow this morning, bringing business and traffic in the province grinding to a halt. Several local schools were forced to close and dive operations cancelled trips to the Similans because of unconfirmed reports of icebergs.

"We've been warning the government for years that this might happen soon," said renowned climatologist, Prof Piansa Kudsoo. There has been a dramatic change in the monsoon patterns of the region soon we will see them shift to Northwest and Southeast air currents and then it won't be long before ski resorts take over from the rubber plantations of Phuket."

If you want to consider the worst case, read "The Worst Hard Time" about the Dust Bowl. Following is a review from Amazon:

From Publishers Weekly
Egan tells an extraordinary tale in this visceral account of how America's great, grassy plains turned to dust, and how the ferocious plains winds stirred up an endless series of "black blizzards" that were like a biblical plague: "Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains" in what became known as the Dust Bowl. But the plague was man-made, as Egan shows: the plains weren't suited to farming, and plowing up the grass to plant wheat, along with a confluence of economic disaster--the Depression--and natural disaster--eight years of drought--resulted in an ecological and human catastrophe that Egan details with stunning specificity. He grounds his tale in portraits of the people who settled the plains: hardy Americans and immigrants desperate for a piece of land to call their own and lured by the lies of promoters who said the ground was arable. Egan's interviews with survivors produce tales of courage and suffering: Hazel Lucas, for instance, dared to give birth in the midst of the blight only to see her baby die of "dust pneumonia" when her lungs clogged with the airborne dirt. With characters who seem to have sprung from a novel by Sinclair Lewis or Steinbeck, and Egan's powerful writing, this account will long remain in readers' minds. (Dec. 14)

December production figures from Platts are out and show a reduction of 250,000 bpd from OPEC.  Note that OPEC production has been in decline now since September.

Country......Dec .... Nov .... Oct .... Sep .... Aug .. Quota
Algeria......1.370... 1.370... 1.360... 1.350... 1.350.. 0.894
Indonesia... 0.930 ...0.930... 0.930... 0.930....0.940.. 1.451
Iran........ 3.930... 3.950....3.950... 3.950....4.000.. 4.110
Iraq........ 1.550... 1.700....1.800....1.990....1.890... N/A
Kuwait ......2.540... 2.550... 2.550... 2.550... 2.550.. 2.247
Libya....... 1.660... 1.660....1.650....1.650....1.650.. 1.500
Nigeria..... 2.420... 2.450....2.450....2.450....2.450...2.306
Qatar .......0.800....0.800....0.800 ...0.790....0.790.. 0.726
Saudi Arabia 9.500 ...9.550....9.500....9.560....9.550.. 9.099
UAE......... 2.500... 2.490... 2.480....2.480....2.470...2.444
Venezuela....2.600....2.600....2.600....2.610....2.620.. 3.223
Total...... 29.800... 30.050. 30.070...30.310...30.260... N/A

Does anyone know how much of the 21.5 million bpd that the US uses is by the military? I cant seem to find this stat.
Try searching old TOD postings. This was discussed in a post a few months ago, I think was by the now translated Ianqui.
I'm stepping into this after everyone's gone to sleep, but I will say that capitalism needs growth. This distiguishes it from prior social systems in general, which grew more by expansion than by growth. Marx was wrong about some things, but I think his analysis of capitalism and why it needs growth, is right on.

One of the things I think he was wrong about was how capitalism would come to an end. He thought industry and science would develop to the point where it became possible to give everyone a decent life materially---and that crises of overproduction (relative to demand) would eventually lead to revolution and bring it down. But no---it turns out that that impossibility of continuing growth is going to bring it down.

Yeah, most people want more stuff. But hunter gatherers  didn't, they had to carry it. Agriculture led to acquisitiveness in the ruling classes. I'm with the hunter-gatherers, except I don't hunt and don't gather. My wife is still gathering, unfortunately.

Anyway, this century is going to force us to bring the whole thing under control one way or another. Doesn't matter what we want. Cuba has been forced to deal with some of these issues ahead of others. There's an article by Pat Murphy some place out there on just these issues.

Anyway, I'm an old Marxist who's had to do a lot of rethinking about stuff. I couldn't find "peak oil" in the index to any of the three volumes of Capital.


No, you were not the last one up thinking.  I was never a Marxist or any other "ist."  But like you, an old dreamer who has come to the same conclusion.  I used to think that the 21st century had such promise.  Now, within 20 or 30 years, we must pass through the eye of the needle.  We will have to grow up.  We will have to start again, differently this time.

We must change the way we think about living, its purpose and direction.  Consumption cannot be an end in itself.  Business cannot be an end in itself.  Endless growth is not a possibility.  The time is coming when only the dreamers will be the realists.  

The others...well, sometimes I think they will always be as shadows in Plato's cave.  And what they grasp will be as it has always been.

I'm not a Marxist, either, but I'd be interested in hearing what you think our post-carbon economy will look like.
We here will not see a post-carbon economy. We will have a lot of fossile fuels for an another century - but in diminishing amounts, and on the average a lot less than today. But we will have a carbon economy. Coal, oil and natural gas as before. Relatively more nuclear if we use breeder reactors. Only fusion power would change all. In this case we would have a fusion and carbon economy. But it is impossible to say if this happens and when.

In the long run the post carbon economy will come. If there is no fusion power it will be like the pre-carbon economy. In the very long run, if there will be no fusion power - and may be, even if there will be (because of the depletion of the raw materials), the result we be like the Olduvai theory says - back to the beginning. It would not be possible to keep up the very complex industrial structure to produce solar panels or windmills or keep up scientific knowledge. And the humanity will never have a change to climb up again. We are on the very top now! Enjoy it and consume, if you can. Later on, you will have no need to rant about consumerism.

But in the shorter run, capitalism will survive. Capitalism is not really about capital, it is about energy. Without energy capital is useless. Workers do not make it work, capital without energy makes feudalism or slavery, systems where the only source of surplus value is labor and land ownership. But this means that capitalism doesn't need economic growth, only external energy. We know this for sure. Capitalism did not collapse as such during severe depressions and negative growth or stagnation.

The market economy, as we know it, is more vulnerable. Those anti-capitalists who dislike capitalism but accept market economy will be surprised: capitalism will survive the energy crisis better than the markets. Despite much talk about neoliberalism the regulation network will only tighten and rigidity will increase.

capital without energy makes feudalism or slavery, systems where the only source of surplus value is labor and land ownership.

It was a tad more complicated than that. Pre-carbon economies were indeed largely based on elite landowners dominating a vast class of agricultural laborers who were slaves in the ancient world and serfs in the medieval world. Nonetheless, there was as well a merchant class living in cities who engaged in many of the activities we would call capitalistic. Don't forget that, e.g., international merchant banking, intenational trade fairs and double entry bookeeping were medieval inventions.

I don't see any reason why some features of a capitalist economic system won't endure in a post-carbon world. Rather, it's the Industrial Revolution which will likely be reversed absent a revolutionary new development in energy (dilithium crystals, anyone?). While the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century, fueled first by coal then by oil, gave an enormous boost to capitalism -- indeed the vast pools of capital that 19th century industrialists amassed is what first comes to mind when we think of "capitalism" -- the basic mechanics of a capitalist economic system are, I would argue, independent of a carbon-based economy.

I agree - capitalism does not require oil.

However, I suspect the workability of capitalism depends on resources.  In a world where most resources and capital have been converted to waste, capitalism may seem as unworkable and obsolete as communism seems now.  

It's true that capitalism survived the Great Depression, but that was what, 4 years of negative growth?  What happens if there's 40 years of negative growth?

Medieval capitalism is a good point. It was based on external energy - mostly on wind and water. A sailing ship is in fact a wind powered machine and in that sense real capital. A sailing merchant ship had wage workers as crew and ship ownership really resembled much of the present day companies. Logistics was the main field of pre-industrial capitalism. Sailing ships and river transports (transports downwards could use water power) made money to capital in the modern sense. This kind of capitalis activity is very old, before the Greek and Roman times. But it didn't grow beyond logistics before fossile energy was used.
Little mention is made of how relations between S. Korea and Japan affect the tensions over the search for hydrocarbons under the sea separating them. This link, provides an interesting recap of what was supposed to be a year marking the turning of a new peace between the two countries. As those fortunate enough to venture to the bottom of this thread will find, the tensions in NE Asia aren't just between China and Japan.
Check out the rush in Iowa to jump on the biofuel bandwagon..

Iowa farmers, small-business owners and retirees anted up more than $7 million in two days to build a biodiesel plant here, eager to make a bet on what's billed as the future of the state's rural economy.

Organizers raised more than a third of the $17.6 million to $25 million needed from investors at meetings in Newton, Pella and Grinnell. Investors had to plunk down a minimum of $25,000. Some wrote checks on the spot for at least 10 percent of their investment, with the balance due later.

Investments in biodiesel and ethanol plants have often been limited to farmers or high rollers. But urban and rural investors alike have started lining up to own a piece of the booming renewable energy industry in Iowa, thanks to $1-a-gallon government subsidy and the soaring price of oil and diesel fuel.

I guess that $1 a gallon government subsidy is what's really driving this madness..

by Jim Willie CB
January 13, 2006


A global energy war has begun, which will involve oil as its center and conflict over it both regionally and globally. The war will forge two-way and three-way partnerships. In the course of securing relationships built upon sales & supply contracts, large construction, production, and exploration contracts will guarantee and lock up the sale of output as a reward. Enormous capital requirements are outlined. Furthermore, risks abound, as some new prospective energy properties might contain large risks on cost assessment and time estimations. The extreme risk is for the USA to be locked out of all new marginal supply from East Asia to West Asia as far as to West Africa, and even to lose some of the current supply reaching the market. Over the course of the next two years, a global battle will surely erupt to secure the energy deposits, and to control shipping lanes. It will be a miracle if military conflict is averted in the battle for progressively more scarce energy supplies. In 2006, the severity and seriousness of the conflict will come front & center to the geopolitical stage.

You know we have slipped into the surreal when Aljazeera--and not the president -- is quoting one of our Founding Fathers.  I keep wondering why Iran doesn't demand that the U.S. abandon the U.S. nuclear program.  

By the way, Pakistan is not pleased with the recent missile attacks on terrorist suspects.  It would be analogous to Mexico blowing up a building in San Antonio in an attempt to kill terrorist suspects that Mexico believed to be hiding out in Texas.

Aljazeera:  Referring Iran to the UNSC will send oil prices to $100 a barrel


"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes...known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

- James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Madison's words should be taken seriously by the American people and world community. The deteriorating situation on the ground in IRAQ portends an even direr situation for American soldiers and the People of the world community - should the U.S. pursue a similar strategy regarding Iran.

Especially since we're so often wrong about the targets.  Mistaking wedding parties for terrorist hideouts, sheep smugglers for weapons smugglers, and some hapless Pakistani family for Al-Zawahiri. is run by an American

The Qatar-based Aljazeera is at:  

Hurricane Katrina/Hurricane Rita Evacuation and Production Shut-in Statistics Report as of Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"Given the relatively small variations in the shut-in statistics, beginning Wednesday, January 11, 2006, MMS will issue Hurricane Katrina/Hurricane Rita Evacuation and Production Shut-in Statistics every 2 weeks. The report will be posted on the website at 2:00 p.m. EST on Wednesdays. In the last few days there has been minimal improvement in the production numbers and this appears to be a trend that will continue with incremental movement over the next several months.

These evacuations are equivalent to 12.21% of 819 manned platforms and 0.00% of 134 rigs currently operating in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

Today's shut-in oil production is 396,786 BOPD. This shut-in oil production is equivalent to 26.45 % of the daily oil production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 1.5 million BOPD.

Today's shut-in gas production is 1.805 BCFPD. This shut-in gas production is equivalent to 18.05% of the daily gas production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 10 BCFPD.

The cumulative shut-in oil production for the period 8/26/05-1/11/06 is 114,042,425 bbls, which is equivalent to 20.83% of the yearly production of oil in the GOM (approximately 547.5 million barrels).

The cumulative shut-in gas production 8/26/05-1/11/06 is 585.308 BCF, which is equivalent to 16.036 % of the yearly production of gas in the GOM (approximately 3.65 TCF)."

In other words, these values are no longer changing much. How long before MMS stops reporting these and abandons that roughly 400kbpd oil production as permanently lost?