DrumBeat: October 23, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 10/23/06 at 9:21 AM EDT]

The future is tar:

Shell is going to the wall for oil

Shell is spending $30 million to create and test a massive "freeze wall" that would extend from the surface to 1,700 feet below the ground. The walls would be 30 feet thick in a shape 300 feet wide by 350 feet long.

Shell to buy out minorities in Canada unit

LONDON/AMSTERDAM - Royal Dutch Shell Plc has offered to buy out the 22 percent of Shell Canada it does not own, in a further sign the Anglo-Dutch oil producer is betting heavy oil sands will halt a slide in its reserves.

Saudi cuts Asia oil sales up to 8% after OPEC deal

TOKYO - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia began to implement OPEC’s first output curbs in over two years by telling its core Asian customers it would cut their supplies by up to 8 percent next month, industry sources said on Monday.

Total Says Executive Questioned Over Iraq Oil Deals Is Innocent

PARIS — The French oil company Total rallied on Friday to the defense of its second in command and designated chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, after he was taken into custody and questioned about possible illegal payments for Iraqi oil.

BP attacked over safety standards

Halliburton earnings climb

HOUSTON - Halliburton Co, the world's No. 2 oilfield services group, on Sunday posted a 25 percent rise in earnings, beating Wall Street forecasts, on robust spending by producers on oil and gas output, particularly in North America.

Britain tops energy waste league

British people are Europe's worst energy wasters, with bad habits such as leaving appliances on stand-by likely to waste £11bn by 2010, a study claims.

Oil and gas discovered in Zambia

South Africa: Forget oil, look at food prices

Oil has been such an economic bogeyman in recent times, hogging the headlines, that not noticed is as severe a threat -- food inflation.

Food staple maize has been trading internationally at record highs, driven by the world's move to energy diversification to produce bio-fuels as an alternative to fossil fuels.

MEPs, MPs urge caution in use of biofuels; call for ban on use of palm oil

The European Parliament’s industry committee has called for an EU-wide ban on the use of biofuels derived from palm oil. MEPs called for the ban over concerns about the impacts of palm oil production on indigenous forestry in their a response to the European Commission’s proposals for an EU transport biofuels strategy.

Was Tanzania's Cabinet reshuffle sparked by current power crisis?

As Tanzanians study the implications of the recent Cabinet reshuffle, it is beginning to emerge that a solution to the crippling energy crisis was a key motive in the mind of President Jakaya Kikwete when he effected the changes.

Australia unveils 500-million-dollar climate change drive

SYDNEY - Australia is to launch a 500-million-dollar drive to tackle global warming, Prime Minister John Howard has announced, as the country battles its worst drought in more than a century.

It’s so warm plants think spring is here

THE weather really is going haywire. Britain’s gardeners are reporting the first signs of a “phantom spring” in the midst of one of the warmest Octobers on record.

Cracking up: Ice turning to water, glaciers on the move - and a planet in peril

Nothing else quite like it has happened at any time in the past 10,000 years. In just over a month an entire Antarctic ice shelf, bigger than a small country, disintegrated and disappeared, altering world atlases for ever.

Peak Oil: Sell oil stocks?

Raymond J. Learsy: What's Up?? OPEC Agrees To Production Cuts Yet Prices Are Down!

Dale Allen Pfeiffer: Energy depletion & the US descent into fascism

Kurt Cobb: Mr. Market, manic-depressive: Is there a cure?

First, queuing theory (essentially, the theory of how lines form) tells us that when a system approaches 100 percent of its capacity, the length of the line to access that system can become highly chaotic, changing from very short to very long in rapid succession. In our case the line is filled by those trying to buy energy, particularly natural gas, oil and coal.
Didn't see anyone mention this during the weekend... there's a 46-minute audio interview with Richard Heinberg talking about The Oil Depletion Protocol on the Financial Sense Newshour.
I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that Heinberg is no longer relevant.  He is pushing an idea whose time hasn't come, and may never come. In fact, I'm not even convinced it is the best approach to PO/energy.
Finally, it looks like solid evidence is coming in that demonstrates biofuels will compete for food.  The idealistic viewpoint that "Oh, we would never let ourselves starve to get more fuel" is proven false.  Perhaps we wouldn't let ourselves starve on a personal level, but by using ethanol in your car, you're putting the price of food out of reach of people poorer than you.  
The conflict between crops for food and crops for fuel is obvious and inevitable, regardless of claims to the contrary by people looking to make a buck on ethanol from corn.

I doubt this concerns Americans very much, as the unspoken principle seems to be that WE will never starve but THEY might. The rationale is the if there is no more US surplus grain available due to domestic ethanol production, then it is just a sign of the free market at work.  

However, hungry people do have a way of getting extremely upleasant, and we can expect serious trouble if the leaders of poor Third World countries ues their limited food crops to make ethanol or biodiesel for sale to the US and Europe. This sort of thing conjures up the situation in Ireland during the mid-1900s, when rich landowners (many of whom were British) were exporting beef to England in the midst of the Irish potato famine. The Irish are still carrying a grudge over that one.

If we are going to be more and more heavily dependent on biofuels, then we had better establish some sort of biofuel strategic reserve to contend with the inevitable years of poor crop yield. Biodiesel could be stored in large tanks or in underground cavities. But as ethanol is difficult to store, it might be more practical to just build more large grain silos dedicated to ethanol production.  

People in the US expect to both eat and drive. People in the Third Word may wind up doing neither.

I honestly don't see what the problem is with this for us Americans.  It's not our fault is the citizens of other countries want to sell us their crops.  What is this "let's blame America" attitude?  They made the decision whether to use their crops for food, or sell them to us.
I see this as a classic case of reality vs. perception. It isn't the fault of the western world that other people will sell their food crop for fuel, ignoring the potential for the western governments to introduce policies that might cause this. However, for the people on the ground in the third world, who likely do not have a say in who gets the food they grow, it doesn't matter who's fault it is. What matters is how they see the situation. Moreover, most humans have a bit of a selfish streak, especially when it comes to food, and in the long run, there is a lot of potential for trouble when people percieve others as living well while they starve.

Unfortunately this ties in with one of the great potential problems with PO, namely that how people see things will drive their decisions, whether those perceptions are right or wrong, which may not (or maybe more often than not) lead to the best outcome. These sorts of issues can scale to the local level as well.

"Itisn't the fault of the western world that other people will sell their food crop for fuel..."

No it's never the fault of the powerful,greedy and amoral what happens to the weak. Powerful marketplayers are entitled to kill anyone they want.

Powerful marketplayers are entitled to kill anyone they want ... and to call it preemptive "self defense"

Yes. That's the Golden Rule. (He with the gold makes the rules.)

While tooling around yesterday in my SUV looking for some $2.30 gasoline, I heard some right wing Harpie on the radio proclaim that America has the "best" democracy in the world. Then the fair-and-balanced Ronn Owens chimed in, "Yes, of course we do." (He is a popular talk show host out here in the San Francisco --Bay Area region who has rightish leanings but claims to be in the middle. He's basically the guy who says I supported George Bush 100% before I didn't support him totally now.) Sheesh.

Point is that many of my fellow Americans never heard of Parlimentary government. They are so deluded they actually think their button push on the Diebold voting machine counts. They religiously believe we Americans have the Bestest "democracy" in the world and it is our manifest destiny to spread its word around the globe and also the word of our true lord & savior, Adam Smith.

But then again, when our "elected" public officials go off and do a shock-and-awe thing on some 3rd world country, or bully them into selling us their crop for our fuel, we rationalize our responsibility away. We wash our hands of the whole messy affair. Hey it wasn't me. It wasn't me. I didn't go & ask all those dumbass 3rd world sub-humans to do foolish things, to sell their food to us and to starve themselves to death. The "blame" falls on "them". I am pure and clean as the Christmas snow. It wasn't me.

End of rant. (Note from me to me: What were you thinking dude? That's like narly irrational.)

But in a sense it is our fault as our gov't subsidize not only the end product (ethanol), but also the corn itself, which creates an artificial price against which a farmer in a thrid world country cannot compete.  If we subsidize the ethanol eperiment to try to wean ourselves of oil, that might be OK (I doubt it'll work out that way, but that is a decent motivation), but if we continue to subsidize corn to support our automobile infrastructure as others starve bc/ we've economically funneled food from them to meet our energy "needs", that's unethical.  Other nations have been grumbling for years at the WTO about Americas unfair farm/ food policies.
BS. You need to give a deeper thought of what the words "globalization", "free market", "liberalisation", "privatisation", World Bank, IMF, WTF mean for the third world countries. They may call it free market but I call it neocolonialism.
Speaking of globalization...

It looks like the second law of thermodynamics is kicking in and the wheels on the neoliberalization bandwagon are coming off.

Whether it is the idea of the unrestricted movement of goods and people! (despite the fact that humans are not "sentient pork bellies") or just the short-sighted policies of the WTO and the like, there seems to be a great unraveling taking place as nationalism and populism overtake globalism.

In today's news:


"Political life has fallen into disarray in Eastern Europe, and many are asking what has gone wrong in the 2 1/2 years since these former communist countries joined the European Union, expecting to reap the fruits of democracy and open markets.

Many experts say people are simply exhausted after years of economic sacrifices made to join the EU and NATO. They now lack the clear goals that drove them toward the West after the fall of communism in 1989.

And their discontent is mounting as the instant riches many believed would come from EU membership have failed to materialize."


Also, France is continuing to struggle with problems related to discontent immigrants.


"On a routine call, three unwitting police officers fell into a trap. A car darted out to block their path, and dozens of hooded youths surged out of the darkness to attack them with stones, bats and tear gas before fleeing. One officer was hospitalized.

The recent ambush was emblematic of what some officers say has become a near-perpetual and increasingly violent conflict between police and gangs in tough, largely immigrant French neighborhoods that were the scene of a three-week paroxysm of rioting last year."


A few years ago I read Amy Chua's book World on Fire and was taken aback at just how much of a powder keg many societies have become under globalization policies, particularly ethnic conflicts that seemed to underscore the unshakeable strength of tribalism - cultural and ethnic identities that are not easily blended into a neoliberal paradise.

it isn't surprising to me to see the most ethnic/racial hatred in area's with the most integrated society's.

I thought this was the height of neocontopian extremism. This was having our police enforcing the rights of our ownership society in a fair and balanced way. If those hoodlums can't get jobs, it's their "fault". Let them eat cake.

BTW, who is this Neo guy and why does he assault our non-negotable way of life?

Long live The Smith.

Speaking of Eastern Europe, I think that the West can blame nothing but themselves. After the collapse of the Soviet Union these countries were basically left to desintegrate. By using consultants and the power of international institutions the West actively pushed them in the direction of ruthless privatisation, abandoning of independant econominc policy, and finally reducing the state to a (not very good) police agent. The results are well known: without govt support the local industries basically vanished. Unemployment is very high and poverty is wide spread. There is a whole class of extremely riched people who got rich by scrapping off what was left from the previous industries.

In the end these countries are slowly turned into a source for cheap and highly qualified labor for the western companies which took over their markets - which I suppose was the initial intent anyway.

The thing about the 19th century classical liberal consensus was that it was promulgated by the British, who ran an Empire on the principle that they did the manufacturing and shipping, and their colonies produced the raw materials.

The US never bought into that: they ruthlessly protected new industries.  Neither did the continentals: Germany and France in particular.

Classical liberalism is the preserve of the powerful.

There are undoubtedly huge gains to trade, but they don't serve the interests, necessarily, of creating a strong nation state.

Absolutely agreed with that. It is only enough to take a look at China and its state protected economy.

Somebody said that pure capitalism works well only when it is among equals. Otherwise it easily turns into robbery in the end.

The governments of rich countries, mostly USA and EU, have stunted griculture in poor countries by stopping rich people from buying poor people's produce with quotas and tariffs, but more importantly by subsidizing exports to the point where US rice is cheaper than local rice in African markets. This is very well known and has been brought to the attention of rich governments for a long time.

If now, suddenly, the rich countries reduce the amount and raise the prices of food for export, places where the food supply is already strained will suffer. The rich governments are completely responsible for this, as they created this situation and are fully aware of this.

Capitalism is only efficient and somewhat fair when between equals. The wealthy and the powerful will subvert the rules to their advantage, without even noticing.

We've covered this time and again with those from the ethanol echo chamber here Mencial, but they just don't seem to get it.

I challenge any Food vs. Fuel protagonist here (Airdale, Pedal and Telum in particular) to explain why the WTO Doha Conference collapsed if not as a direct result of 1st world protectionist trade policy as it relates to 3rd world agro economies.

Furthermore I challenge Airdale, Pedal and Telum to watch the movie 'Darwin's Nightmare' before posting anymore 3rd world mea culpas.

"Capitalism is only efficient and somewhat fair when between equals. The wealthy and the powerful will subvert the rules to their advantage, without even noticing. "

That got me thinking about the big Seed Companies that do GM seeds.  They got this thing that the 3rd world nations have to take the GM seeds.  I think Iraq farmers are caught in this.  They don't reproduce, after a short while the farmers have NO seed for next year unless they buy it.  

Imagine something going wrong with one year's GM selection
(nudge nudge wink wink).  Maybe a virus that only affects That certain variety of GM seed?

One year's harvest is gone for everyone who used that year's seed.  Mass starvation of a whole country or region...  Talking about having a monopoly on FOOD. Buy from us or you Don't eat...

Hey, maybe I'll sell the movie rights to that plot.

Any, do some googles for GM

Iraq's new patent law: A declaration of war against farmers

When former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator L. Paul Bremer III left Baghdad after the so-called "transfer of sovereignty" in June 2004, he left behind the 100 orders he enacted as chief of the occupation authority in Iraq. Among them is Order 81 on "Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety." [1] This order amends Iraq's original patent law of 1970 and unless and until it is revised or repealed by a new Iraqi government, it now has the status and force of a binding law. [2] With important implications for farmers and the future of agriculture in Iraq, this order is yet another important component in the United States' attempts to radically transform Iraq's economy.


For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This is now history. The CPA has made it illegal for Iraqi farmers to re-use seeds harvested from new varieties registered under the law. Iraqis may continue to use and save from their traditional seed stocks or what's left of them after the years of war and drought, but that is the not the agenda for reconstruction embedded in the ruling. The purpose of the law is to facilitate the establishment of a new seed market in Iraq, where transnational corporations can sell their seeds - genetically modified or not, which farmers would have to purchase afresh every single cropping season.


A couple others



Samsara, It isn't because the seed is GMO or Non-GMO. Its because they are hybrids. Hybrids do not reproduce 'true to form'.

I haul GMO and some NON-GMO corn to the elevators. The NonGMO has a premium attached to it.

Myself I raise both hybrid sweet corn to eat and open pollen(non-hybrid) just in case.  I eat one and save the seeds to the other.

Now as to Round Up Ready corn or soybeans. You can replant the soybeans but Monsanto finds you doing it and you get fined big time. I haven't checked this closely but take it on what I have been told.

No doubt though that Monsanto and other seed companies want a headlock on seed and they are getting it. Truth though is that they do produce very good genetics and it shows in the yeilds which are sometimes unbelievable.

Many varieties for many conditions. I think most big growers in S. America and elsewhere have already switched to the same seed we use domestically.

Funny thing is that the highest producing corn has the small ears and only one per stalk but the seeding population is very high and this must be the reason for the large yields.

It looks puny compared to the open pollen which can grow 12 feet high and have two huge ears per stalk.

All this being said. Like I said before. We are getting ready and already started to starving the rest of the world who can't feed themselves. I am not clapping my hands over this. I deplore it.

Yet not anyone on the right nor left is saying anything about it. I believe the left has a tendency to watch whose ox is being gored and acts accordingly.

This may sounds cold but the people of the third world are screwed when PO and its decline hit anyhow.

The people of the third world have in many regions built up populations that the land cannot sustain on its own.  They've been permitted to build up to these levels by the influx of food from other sources.  Our charity, and commerce with these regions has just escalated the cliff that these countries will jump from when they collapse.  

It won't matter if we have 100s of tons of grain to send to these people in a PO world.  The cost to ship this food will be so prohibitive that excess grain is a non-issue.  

So since it will be prohibitive to send it to them anyway, the use of it as fuel is actually going to prevent waste.  The grain would be burned or rot in the field otherwise.  Or if we really wanted to lower waste, we would simply cut back on the amount we grow to just that of what our population requires.

The issue for Third World countries is not what can the US or EU or Russia send in terms of food... its how quickly and controlled can they bring their population levels down to a self-sustainable level.  But since I doubt they realize the danger they are in, I expect their population levels to be decreased suddenly, and with virtually no control, bordering on chaos.

So please don't blame the US on this matter.  The third world will self-correct itself once the outside influence of imported food is removed.  Yes it will be ugly, tragic, and result in a lot of violence as mobs with food and weapons kill off those without, but then isn't that what we've been seeing already in several African nations?

Yet we still see politicians and "movie stars" calling for even more aid for African nations.  In Jim Rogers' books, he talked about seeing firsthand the horrible negative effects that Western "aid" does for African nations - it puts farmers and local merchants out of business because off all the foreign aid that gets sent to Africa.  Thus, they have lost the skills and determination to take care of themselves and are now wholly dependent on foreign aid.  The clothes that get donated as actually sold once they are offloaded and undercut the local merchants.

PO will force the people of Africa to become self-sufficient again and stop relying on Western foreign aid.

Thousands of Africans have died this year so far trying to reach Europe, while more have made it. Greece stands accused of throwing dozens overboard their ships in the Aegean Sea. Of course there are already millions who moved to Europe in the past decades, but it's starting to take the shape of an exodus.

It would be a mistake to believe the African misery will play out itself in Africa alone.

Just as the US-Mexico wall will not stop the South American destitute from coming here. At a certain point it boils down to the question how many of them you are prepared to shoot down.

"...Of course there are already millions who moved to Europe in the past decades, but it's starting to take the shape of an exodus."

Overcrowded deathboat syndrome

Overcrowded deathboat syndrome ...

Ah God, yes.
Why my Compassionate Christian heart weeps for those wretched refugees of the world out there.

Sadly, they are the unwitting victims of Global Warming, of Globalized Free Trade and of the Fickled Flip Off of the Invisible Hand.

I got it.
Let's have a concert.
Let's gather in a circle and sing "Kumbaya". Let us sing, 'We Are The World'. Light some candles on the water.

I feel so much better now that I have cleansed my soul with a solid sing-a-thon.

BTW, God damn it. Where are the keys to my SUV? They're having a sale down at the mall and I don't want to miss it. Scented bath candles are marked down 50% --while supplies last. Sure hope there aren't any foreigners or towel-heads at the mall today to mess up its saintly ambience. I hate it when they pollute my pure world. Just cause they're having a bad day. Not my problem. Not my job. Hell. Am I my brother's keeper? Am I the world?


If self sufficiency is good for the Africans, how about the Americans?  If China quits holding our debt, where will we get the wherewithal to buy all that oil.  Perhaps someone should cut us loose as well. In the long run, it will be good for us.  
I'm not arguing to cut anybody loose.

Rather I think a weening off the current paradigm would be good for a lot of countries in a lot of areas related to basics.

Countries being able to grow their own food and provide for themselves is a basic foundation in national security.  If you are dependent upon another country for food, then that country can dictate your policy anytime they want.

Likewise for the US and oil.  So long as we NEED that oil from the ME, they will have a strong influence on our policy decisions.  The recent actions in Afganistan, Iraq, and most likely soon to be Iran I think pan this line of thought out.

If we were energy self-sufficient, we really could tell the rest of the world to bugger off, and we really could go off and bunker bust Iran on general principle alone without any of the conspiracy bull that this is about oil.  But so long as oil is a factor there will always be doubt about the purity of our motives, and the impact of our actions.

Likewise if we could fully make ourselves energy independent, we could select based on idealistic, rather than resource dependent, those countries we choose to favor or not.  For now, and for the pass 50 years we've been willing to accept working with Dictators despite it flying the in face of our values... we've been willing to work mass murderers, terrorists, and other anti-social aspects of humanity because our oil supply depended on it.

Getting the US off oil and onto a self-reliant energy source would give so much clout, power and flexibility to the US that it would set us up to remain the major force for the next century and oddly, I think it would give our diplomatic influence a HUGE boost, as countries who deal with us wouldn't be needing to worry whether or not we are just there for the oil anymore.

I now realize the error of my original comment re food vs fuel.

A massive increase in the use of former food crops for fuel will actually be a GOOD thing, because it will help depopulate the Third World of all the untermenschen and thus free up more lebensraum for us superior westerners.

Sorry I got it wrong.

Joule get off your high horse and read my statement for what it is.  A hard look at what awaits the third world, NOT a value judgement of the people living in it.

The implied holier than thou tone you react with is no way the matching the intention by which I was speaking and is instead your projection of an image  (a false one at that) onto my statement.  The value of lives in the third world is not being debated here.  The impact that high energy costs, and the dependence upon which many third world nations have fallen under is what is being spoken of here.

The tables could be just as easily turned you know.  Europe has an extremely dense population that will need to feed itself also.  They have the breadbasket areas by which to do it, I think.  But I don't believe they will have enough extra land to allow themselves to be fed and fueled.  And if something goes wrong, (say a series of harsh winters, higher oceans which shrink the size of some these countries, and "pollute" fresh water reservoirs with brackish water) then Europe could very easily find itself in the same starvation scenario as Africa.

America will also have its own issues with food vs fuel production internally.  The rate at which we consume arable land is alarming, and eventually through a combination of over-farming and potential effects of global warming, America might turn into a desert area unsuitable for sustaining 300 million people.

This type of problem is not only set in third world countries, BUT it will be third world countries that experience it first in my opinion.

But please, don't try to be holier than thou, when my addition to the topic was NOT talking about the moral ramifications of selecting people to live or die, but rather looking at the cold hard facts and logic regarding the plight that faces Africa and much of the third world, and even parts of the First and "second" world.

The third world is the canary in the mine shaft Joule.  They are the warning bells that something is not right.  And what is ultimately the fate of mankind if we go into collapse will most likely be played out in the third world before its played out elsewhere.  That's not a judgement statement... that is an impact assessment of what will be effected first when our systems start to fail.

sure. But your high-minded 'objectivity' certainly does not get us off the hook. That Africa is a victim of 500 years of colonialisation is not mollified by a mere 30 years of "independence".

You clearly implied the Africans fault for no infrastructure, no education, and basic abandonmnent by its former colonial masters to convienient warlords and corporate slaves willing to sell off resources and the people.

Africa will fall and so will the poor and eventually the middle class in our own corrupt societies regardless of academic justification.

Good Lord pstarr you seem to think History matters.
How un-American.
Well, that makes 2 of us here but don't expect anyone hears you
And umm when was America one of those Colonial Masters?

The statement I take issue is the all too quick to blame America for Africa's woes.  I believe it was the Europeans who abandoned their responsibility to those nations.  They left those colonies upended and in disarray.  Not the Americans.

But when do you hear the blame being cast at the Europeans?  No its American corporate greed that is at fault.  Nevermind the European and Asian corporations who do the same kinds operations in their former colonies.

And ultimately, the warlords and corporate slaves of the African nations are to blame also.  They've betrayed their people for riches.  Their previlege I guess, its their land and their people right, but damn America for accepting the offers of those traitors, and oh yeah..  give a pass to those European and Asian corporations.

There appears to me to be plenty of blame to spread around, to just about all involved.  So when I say don't blame the US, perhaps what I should say is don't blame the US alone singularly.  The Europeans, the Asians, the Americans, and even the Africans themselves all are part and parcel to this game we are playing.

But hey...  We can't be disparaging anyone besides the US, right?

This is my invasive species theory of modern medicine.  Naturally predators and prey evolve side by side in an ecosystem and slowly.  Usually, any advantage one gains can be adapted to by the other.  Therefore, in a stable ecosystem polulations of predators and prey remain stable.  When an invasive species enters an ecosystem, if it has no predators the population of the species will explode since the existing species will have no defenses to the newcomer.
For thousands of years Africa and Asia had a stable population. Women might have had 8 kids, but with the high mortality rates, population remained stable. In the west, medicine developed gradually, allowing society time to adjust to the expectation that more children would survive, and so people had fewer children and population has become stable even with the greater expectaion that children will survive. However, when modern medicine is introduced overnight to a culture that has not had time to adjust to the expectation of higher survival probability, and they continue to value large families, just like introducing an invasive species that has no local predators, rapid population explosion is the norm.
I think JD had several reports showing how its actually fairly cheap to ship things via ships even when prices escalate.  Right now, it cost something like $0.005 a pound to ship somthing from China to the US.

You would have to have a major price increase on oil to hurt those margins :P

Right in principle, wrong specifically. It costs about $2000 to ship a 40000 lb (max) container round trip, so about $.05/lb.  Many containers are too lightweight to take full advantage of the weight limit, about 60.5lb/ft3, or water density, so actual /lb costs are usually higher. Your number might be right for bulk cargoes.
I agree with you, jkissing, but one thing not being examined is the friction costs. Those crops are not being grown on the coasts as much as the Heartland. Add another 600 to 700 dollars to the cost of every 45,000 pounds transported over land, maybe 350 to 400 if rail is feasable in any scenario.  Hoth baby, your posts always mention data but never show any. Sack up and let us see your "mystery" data, either that or send us pictures of Hitler's brain. And by the way i use to work for the DOT, I know transportation tariffs and costs.  
Thats not my own research, I was quoting something that I read from Peak Oil Debunked.  You can follow some of the other links where he talks about how much it costs to ship food worldwide.  And since most of the population is located near the coasts...
trust nothing there
LOL, care to explain why?
JD's speciality is/was to launch personal attacks on people disagreed with.

Outright lies and manipulation

Absurd claims

And in general being retarded concerning basic economics and science

LOL.  So pointing out the obvious makes someone an outright liar, someone who deals in personal attacks and uses junk science thats based on information from reputable sources?  Man this just gets better and better :P
You quote very poorly Hothgor.

From your linked article.

Doing the calculations, and assuming a conservative rating of 17,500kg per container, I come up with $.04/pound.

yet you said

Right now, it cost something like $0.005 a pound to ship somthing from China to the US.

You're off by an order of magnitude.

Notice I said 'I think that'. As I already said, I was just going off of memory, seeing how that particular thread is several months old!!! And I really did mean to type $0.05 a pound, due to $60 a barrel as opposed to his rounded down $0.04 for $55 :/ BTW: still waiting to hear why that site cant be trusted :P
  1. Try to be a little more accurate with your numbers. It will make your comments much more believable. ie. don't post numbers you vaguely remember from a a several months old thread. The search function on this site is quite good. Try it.

  2. When you do cite a resource double check it doesn't invalidate the point you are trying to make. This again goes to believability. But at least this time you attempted to source yourself. Kudos.

  3. I didn't comment of the validity of that site. Perhaps pstarr might have something to add.


Notice I said 'I think that'. As I already said, I was just going off of memory, seeing how that particular thread is several months old!!!

but you said:

Thats not my own research, I was quoting something that I read from Peak Oil Debunked.

Which was it? Were you recalling an old thread or were you quoting Peak oil Debunked?
Try to be self consistent at least within the same thread. This again goes to believability.

Let me correct my self. I misunderstood you post a bit.

I thought you were recalling a TOD thread from several months ago. It seems you were recalling a Peak Oil Debunked article from several months ago. So my comment about using this sites search feature was a bit off. Please replace that with google's search function.

My Bad

But the question still remains. Which one is it?

  1. Did you incorrectly recall an old number?

  2. Did you make a typo after you re-read the article and tried to revise the authors number for 60$/barrel oil?

Again self consistancy. Pick a lie and stick with one. Or better yet, stop lying.
I mistyped 0.05 'the revised number for higher oil' and instead typed 0.005. Please, nail me to the cross and crucify me now!! :P BTW: I did a ton of 'research' on my EV energy usage viablity rant a few threads down, and strangely enough, I silenced every critic of a nationwide fleet of EVs. It's a shame I didnt see you there!!
You said you misrembered the number from an old thread.
You also said (in the very next sentance) you made a revision mistake when quoting a source.

I am mearly making the point that if you want people to take you seriously you have to be more believable.

Contradicting yourself from one sentance to the next (lying) doesn not lead to believability.

Nor does begin inaccurate with numbers that are pivital to the point you are trying to make. $0.05 vs $0.005 are off by a signifigant degree whatever the source of the error.

BTW I read that thread about EV energy usage. Seems to me just about everybody was quite sure you made a mistake estimating the energy requirements. But that's outside my expertise so I can't really comment on it.

PS You can't "revise" something when you are trying to "quote" someting. Again it goes to believability.

And yes
1. Misremembering an old number
2. Making a revision error on a cited source

are mutually exclusive. Its one or the other, you can't have done both.

Dude, how hard it is to understand?

  1.  I was typing a fairly quick response to a post.

  2.  I remember reading the average price/pound to ship an item from POD

  3.  I quote the price I think it was, including the revised amount for slightly higher oil prices, but have a typo by adding a single 0.

  4.  Someone responds with an ultra witty comment asking for a source.

  5.  I link the source, and again state I was working off memory.

  6.  You post and act like a condescending asshole stating that everything I said was a lie and I should stop trying to cover it up with another lie.

  7.  I explain that it was a simple mistake

  8.  You retort again about how I lied, and state that I should check my own posts for consistency.

  9.  You ninja respond admitting your own mistake, and then bash me more for making a simple mistake.

  10.  Present...'LOL'

Honestly man, is it that impossible to believe that someone could make a mistake in typing $0.05 and accidentally type $0.005?  People say I resort to personal attacks but damn man, you take the cake completely!!

FWIW: More people agreed with my price calculations then disagreed.  GG finally developed an ounce of common sense when I posted the figures without factoring in efficiencies and gave up.  If an amateur like me could do the math, what is stopping you from doing so?  I'm more then willing to have a debate on the matter with you, though I bet your not up to the challenge ~_~

Wait I get it!

You made a typo of a revised figure from a quote that you cited that you couldn't recall correctly.

Tell me again why anyone shoule take what you say seriously?

I thought I'd get this response in before you ninja respond yourself!!
Hothgor, why are you here? What are you trying to accomplish on this board?

It apperantly isn't to learn. You are a self admitted amerature trying to slay giants. Why?

I came here to learn. Hence I post very little. There are some very knowledgeable people on this board with much to offer. What would be the point of trying to argue with them? It would defeat the whole purpose of coming to this board.

Do I believe everything I read? No, not really. But I try to ask questions instead of challenging people.

For example, instead of attacking people on EV energy requirments, why don't you ask them to explain their reasoning first? Then ask them why that doesn't square with the number you "researched." I gurantee you it will be much more productive.

My goal with our exchanges is not to defame you. But in your case I have something to offer. That is advice on citing your sources, credibility of sources, and just plain presenting yourself in a believable way.

I didn't say you lied about $0.05 vs $0.005 per pound of shipping. I said being inaccurate with numbers undercuts you credibility.
I said you lied when explaining the wrong figures. But maybe I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I think now that in your mind it is perfectly acceptable to simutanously

  1. recall a 6 month old figure from memory
  2. revise it
  3. Claim you were quoting the author.

So if conditions 1, 2 and 3 were all met than you sir were not lying. I appologize.

However I regret to inform you that you can not do that and remain credible.

  1. Take the time to make your figures accurate. Its important.
  2. You can't revise a quote, especially one from memory and call it "quoting."
  3. When yo cite yourself, and you source contradicts you and back ups the post you arguing against, aknowledge it. If a reader has to read your source material to double check your  own figures, it undercuts you credibility.
And then one up your double response by pointing out the fact that you are spending so much time bashing me when apparently no one takes me seriously at all.  Have that much time on your hands?  Or am I rubbing some people the wrong way with an in your face anti-doomerism response in your otherwise collective sea of tranquility involving how TOD readers are all knowing, the rest of the analyst are wrong, and we-know-everything-pat-on-the-back-bump responses!!
I looked at the thread on EV energy use, saw your error and decided not to comment since 1) others were doing so and 2) you did not seem to be (my impression) in search of the truth but looking for ammunition to support a predetermined position.

I am not a doomer per se for reasons that I have stated, and devote my time and efforts to partial solutions.  Other than eric blair, I am not the subject of personal attacks.

I recently had a guest article posted and my original proposals; about electrifying freight railroads and building much more Urban Rail and electric trolley buses is now generally accepted as part of a solution.  I will be moderating a Saturday workshop on Mitigation of Peak Oil at the Boston Peak Oil conference.

I am quite careful with by numbers, explain my reasoning, give links and justify when asked to whatever level of detail is needed.  When my data gets thin, I admit it (1 significant digit is all some data has).

TOD is a unique blog in several ways. Courtesy is reciprocated, facts and data rule, differing opinions are respected IF based upon solid evidence.

You did not "silence the critics", you convinced no one that I noticed. Please accept my advice to not lead with an emotional based, rather than fact based conclusion and then creating data to support that conclusion.

I can follow the logic thread that doomers have and cannot say that it is certainly wrong.  I can point to paths away from doom and how to reach them, and they cannot say that I am certainly wrong.  We can coolly and logically discuss the delta between these paths, with respect on both sides.

I put some real work and original analysis into this because it is important !  If you cannot do so, lower your goals. Work on a single ray of sunshine and what it might do to mitigate Peak Oil.  You cannot come in here with misremembered data and supposition and faulty analysis & calculations and change the emerging consensus.

Post less, think more, work more, more facts, fewer conclusions !

And yes, I do sign my posts,

Best Hopes,

Alan Drake

Just updated my 10% reduction of Oil Use Plan


How does it go?  What do people use against me?

"If you have all these 'facts' to debunk the argument, why dont you back it up with your links and mathematical analysis!!"

Oh the irony of it all!!  But please, return and show me your  facts!!  I'm sure even the DoE, whom I took my information directly from, would love to know how they are also wrong :P

Hothgor wrote in quotes

"If you have all these 'facts' to debunk the argument, why dont you back it up with your links and mathematical analysis!!"

Despite the indentation, he was not responding to my advice to him, So I first looked manually and could not see what he was responding too.

I then did a string search on "debunk the argument, w" and found nothing in this thread but him.

Hothgar appears to have erected a straw man and then attacked, using a reference to authority (per earlier analysis he misunderstood or mis-used some stats).

I gave him some decent advice and he ignored it. I will not waste further time on him.


Translation: On principle, Hothgor's argument that switching our entire gasoline consumption to its energy equivalent with electricity is a viable alternative and I can find no fault with his analysis of the situation.  So, I shall now attack him instead, as I can not attack the cold hard truth that faces all of us on the direction automobiles will go in the future.

I'm loving it btw!!

Go here.
"Transfering our entire gasoline consumption to its energy equivalent with electricity is a viable alternative"

That goal, as stated, is nonsensical.  EVs have different energy consumption patterns than gasoline alternatives.  The number of kWh to replace 1 gallon of gasoline is a similar size EV (not weight, due to batteries) varies considerably between stop & go driving vs. freeway driving.  

And battery storage losses & electric motor efficiency + energy losses carrying a heavy battery around do not = gasoline ICE losses.

So energy equilavancy is a nonsensical goal.

Are EV Hummers (TERRIBLE aerodynamics, grossly overweight for their role) a desireable goal ?

I am against a 1:1 replacement of gasoline pax-miles by EV pax-miles, even in smaller cars.  Such a replacement will create a new problem in a generation, as other energy sources deplete and will dramatically slow even minimal progress on Global Warming.

Of the 25 million b.day of oil that Americans use, a bit less than 9 million are used in personal cars, the sole focus of Hothgar's goals.  That leaves a massive problem untouched.

I prefer massive investments in Urban Rail & electrifing our freight railroads.  Get large to massive increases in overall energy efficiency (20:1 improvements are doable) which can reduce GW impacts faster and are sustainable for many generations.  Oil for lubricants ! :-)  3% or 4% of US electricity for transportation (plus bikes & shoe leather, good for obesity & diabetes) is doable with more conservation and renewables, primarily wind.

BTW, I will not respond to Hothgar for a few days/weeks.  I have better uses of my time in Boston and back home.

Yes, I'm SURE you wont respond to me for the next few days/weeks laugh

BTW: You need to get your own facts right.  For starteres, the US consumes on average only about 21 million bpd, not 25.  Of course, I wont be a prick like you and hold that against you, as I am sure it was just a simple typo or a quotation by memory rolls eyes.

Secondly, ~10 million bpd is almost HALF our current usage of all oil in the country.  Are you honestly suggesting that eliminating 45% of our oil consumption is a non-starter for dealing with peak oil?  Call me crazy, but that just seems moronic.

Hothgar appears to have erected a straw man and then attacked, using a reference to authority (per earlier analysis he misunderstood or mis-used some stats).

Yeah, I noticed this too.
I couldn't find the source of it either.

Who is he quoting?

Hothgor who are you quoting?

The size and the amounts are so trivial, relative to total world trade, that this argument doesn't stack up.  

2 billion people at 1 kilo of grain per person per day is 1m tonnes.  365m tonnes per annum.  18,250 ship loads at 20k tonnes pa (I am conflating tonnes displacement with weight, which is wrong, in that calculation).

Double that for the barges to get it to the ports, and the trains and trucks to get it to the people in Africa and other places.

Starvation is almost always not the consequence of an absolute shortage of food, but an inability by the poorest to pay for that food.

This was true in Ireland in the 1830s, and in India in the 1870s (the local British governor established a food ration that was lower than prisoners were allocated in the Nazi concentration camps).  And again in 1943 in Bengal.

There's enough food in the world, and even with a bad harvest there is enough food-- but we will tend to feed cattle and other livestock, over African farmers.

If there are mass starvations in the future, it is a consequence of our own inaction, rather than the insufficiency of resource per se.

Exactly. Food was being shipped to England during both the Irish and Indian famines. So it wasn't lack of locally grown food,  more a lack of (economic) demand.
I spoke on this issue a few Drumbeats ago when I stated that
we (the USA) have now embarked on what will start to starve 3rd world countries and others when we start up the many ethanol plants and begin to divert our grain to fuel energy.

We know that will happen and no one speaks about it.

When all those hungry people start looking for a scapegoat we will , and rightly so, be it.

They will go beserk , of course some will just roll over and starve to death but many will surely join the terrrorists ranks and take the fight right to us. IMO of course,as always.

Right now spot corn is hitting about $3.30 or so. Lots of corn to go to mkt yet it appears farmers are starting to do on farm storage since many got burned on the early $2.20 corn and made contracts. They now begin to sense blood in the water and are naturally going to store what they can.

Besides some elevators are charging $.40 / bushel for fees, or so I was told by a trucker for a huge intermediate elevator. He has to empty his elevators but refuses to pay the $.40 so now hauls it all elsewhere.

This mkt is likely to go crazy. Soybeans and wheat are and have been surging.

With the outlook of ethanol ...I can only say ..someone is going to die, maybe huge numbers. How can they afford high fuel costs and now added to that food costs?

This still doesn't put blame on the US. Each country needs to take care of their citizens first, then export their surplus to other countries. How is it our fault if the leaders of 3rd world countries choose to starve their own people by selling their grains to the US?
Ask Hugo Chavez.  We support those who are friendly to our interests, and work against those who are not.    
uh, because we force them to do it at gunpoint? just like we've forced them to take our grains instead of growing their own, again at gunpoint, for the past 50 years?

just a wild guess here.

NO, moron, by subsidizing the grain for export so that it undercuts the local price.  Not quite the point of a gun, but close.  Also, I've read that subsistence farmers in Mexico are being undercut on price because of NAFTA forcing the opening of Mexico's corn agricultural market to subsidized; so they leave their land and head for the border.
Airdale excess grain is a moot issue when talking about the Third World in a PO context.

When PO hits, and energy costs skyrocket, the cost for shipping grain will kill the Third World.  It won't be for lack of food, it will be for lack of way to MOVE FOOD.

They might go batty-ape-shit in the third world when the food stops coming, and they can blame the US or whoever all they want.  But that won't change the fact that it will simply be uneconomical to move food for the types of distances we are able to today.

We will very likely have excess food to do whatever we please with it LOCALLY.  To send it abroad however will simply become unfeasible.

Part of "powerdown" in a post-peak world means regions of the world that have higher populations than the local environment can support will vanish.  That most likely means unpleasant death via starvation, disease, and ultimately war.  Rwanda, and Sudan, and the stuff we've seen in the last 20 years in Africa will become the norm once ENERGY becomes the limiting factor to our ability to MOVE food, not the ability to the grow the food itself (though energy plays a huge role in that too).

Shipping today is extremely fuel efficient.  Several thousands miles of ocean = 100 miles by truck.  Not good for inland 3rd World areas, but coasts can be supplied.

4 to 7 masted sailing ships were able to compete economically will coal powered ships until 1920s/30s.  They can again for cargoes that are not time sensitive like food.

Best Hopes,


If that infrastructure on the interior of the US is in place once PO happens then that would change the picture some agreed.

But that isn't the world we live in at the moment, (perhaps someday though).  But with Big trucking out there, I don't think that rail stands much of a chance until trucking begins to fail economically in a big sort of way due to PO.  Once that occurs however rail, and barges should move in for the kill.

But shipping in the US only solves half of the problem.  There is still the other half of distribution with your Third World country of choice.  Many of those areas rely on trucks themselves, and unlike the US which I think could feasibly survive an economic shock with enough momentum left to implement good rail, and mass transit/shipping, I kind of doubt most of the Third World will be able to.

The other problem for the Third World(and ultimately all of us, though like I said the third world will feel it first) is that we have several resource problems converging at the same time.

There is Peak Oil/gas, along with Water, mineral, and arable land depletion.  The main reservation I have with Bio-fuels isn't the food vs fuel problem.  I think ultimately its going to prove futile because without petro based products we don't have the surplus of food we enjoy without, which means using what's there for fuel is stupid to say the least because we will need as much as we have for feeding ourselves, let alone anyone else.

Ethanol is a doomed technology for mass appeal because the inputs required to make it are more valuable in other forms.

Course I could be wrong... oil has many other more important uses than to be burned but that doesn't stop us now does it?

Shipping may be fuel efficient but in an extended age of extreme energy prices not only the fuel for shipping will be high but the cost of the ship, food for the crew, wages for the crew, maintenance for the ship and all its supporting land-based infrastructure. Considering only the fuel is missing the boat :-/
Joule wrote:

This sort of thing conjures up the situation in Ireland during the mid-1900s, when rich landowners (many of whom were British) were exporting beef to England in the midst of the Irish potato famine.

Good analogy, wrong century. The Irish Potato Famine began in 1845.

Ron Patterson

Yes, it was merely a typo, the result of typing too fast. and not carefully editing it before posting.

I am WELL aware that the Irish potato famine was during the mid-1800s, and not the mid-1900s.

Haste makes waste.

Peak Engineer - feel free to point out the so-called 'solid evidence' coming in that demonstrates biofuels will compete with food cause this article sure ain't it.

Food vs. Fuel is a myth and I don't how many times I'm going to have to spell that out for you.

Interesting article, that raises the question why no-one else seems to have reported on it.

Another question: what fuels do they propose we do use?

MEPs, MPs urge caution in use of biofuels; call for ban on use of palm oil

The European Parliament's industry committee has called for an EU-wide ban on the use of biofuels derived from palm oil. MEPs called for the ban over concerns about the impacts of palm oil production on indigenous forestry in their a response to the European Commission's proposals for an EU transport biofuels strategy.

The EDM - a mechanism for indicating the level of concern amongst MPs about an issue - also cautions that the growth in palm oil, sugar cane and soya production from South-East Asia and South America is leading to the destruction of tropical forests and other highly prized ecosystems. It states that this destruction is causing massive carbon emissions unaccounted for in many models of biofuel `emissions savings'. It says that the burning of palm oil and other imported biofuels with significant negative impacts should not be classed and supported as `renewable energy'.  

Bernd Pischetsrieder, VW chief executive, called on politicians to reduce tax breaks for "first-generation" biofuels - made from corn, wheat, rape seed and sugar beet - and switch support to technologies that VW believe promise greater cuts in carbon dioxide.

According to the FT, Mr Pischetsrieder described some of the current biofuels as "totally pointless" and "like a wolf in sheep's clothing". He criticised tax benefits that were not linked to carbon dioxide, since some production methods can even lead to higher carbon emissions than conventional fuel use, he said.

Interesting piece looking at the big picture of current US policy in the Middle East...

Frailty, thy name is Tehran


i don't care for this guy's tone in the article.
As for the Persians: they have been rather a nuisance since Thermopylae in 480 BC, and it is time that someone taught them a lesson.

and this seems rather racist.
US policymakers, I wrote this March, "are deep in denial, or, as the case may be, deep in the Tigris. Like or not, the US will get chaos, and cannot do anything to forestall it. My advice to President George W Bush: When chaos is inevitable, learn to enjoy it. Take a weekend at Camp David with a case of Jack Daniel's and Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest." [5]

As for the Persians: they have been rather a nuisance since Thermopylae in 480 BC, and it is time that someone taught them a lesson.

Including the preceding paragraph...I don't think he meant that seriously, but in the perspective of the Neocons.

If I am wrong, and the author printed it in all seriousness, then I agree it is inappropriate and he pretty much ruined a pretty decent article in the last sentence.

Since "Spengler" is a nom-de-plume based off of, I think, Oswald Spengler, I think it's safe to say that the article's author is not serious.

re: Shell and the freeze curtain.  It's hard to believe they can really do this with a positive EROEI.  I know next to nothing about the putative technology, but this sure triggers my intuitive BS sensor.  
My bet is that Shell will be the first oil and gas company to go under as PO advances.
After the freeze wall proves uneconomical, the decision will be made to drop it all together and accept the loss of groundwater as a sacrifice.  There are other leaseholders proceeding with plans to experiment with electric heating without any frostwall  plans at all.
It doesn't matter to Shell if it has a positive EROEI as long as you're burning a cheap fuel to get a more expensive one.
it is about the dopiest idea i have heard of   makes me wonder if the taxpayers are funding part of this    
Ground freezing is a fairly well established technology in shallower applications.  There, when you have a leak the easy answer is to pour down some liquid nitrogen.  The situation may be a bit more complex with the size of the wall that they are projecting, but, once it is frozen an ice wall can provide a relatively inexpensive barrier, particularly in rock that has relatively low permeability.  It is quite a good technology, if you want to restore water flows after the work is done.

I gave a more general discussion of the technology, as Shell plan on using it here

The frostwall will be about 2000 feet deep where it is finally implemented in production of the kerogen.  I believe that they can produce limited amounts of kerogen, I just dont think they can do it economically using natural  gas or coal as their generation source for their electricity.  Maybe thermoelectric nuclear reactors using radioactive waste as a heat source could be an idea.   Using high grade energy (electricity) to get low grade kerogen doesn't make sense to me.  The economics I believe hinges on the 38 api quality of the stuff they say they are producing.  Should the gravity be much lower and the increased refining expense and energy input would offset the value of the kerogen.

In about 30 minutes the president of Shell will be on CSPAN.  You can go here to watch him via streaming video:


Perhaps they will save the broadcast for downloading.

Strange ...the link that was available earlier to watch is no longer there and there is a message:

"This stream is not available." is being played.

I am able to catch parts of it on regular tv though.

Panama Canal to get 3rd Set of Larger Locks

Good news for New Orleans.  Panama voters just approved a 3rd set of locks to clear traffic jams and allow larger ships through.


Larger container ships will soon be able to dock in New Orleans and bypass Los Angeles and long rail journey cross country to MidWest and East Coast.

The lowest energy path (and often shortest time) to Midwest and most of East Coast will be largest possible container ship (bigger is more efficient) to New Orleans and then take our 6 railroads (Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern, Canadian National, Burlington Northern & Santa Fe) out in all directions or barge cargo north, east or west.

Also good for grain and other bulk exports from New Orleans.

Best Hopes,


Also good for oil exports from Venezuela to China.
Alan, much as I wish I could share your positive assessment of the expansion, there are a few unanswered questions.

With costs officially estimated at $5,25 billion, but unofficially at over $20 billion, added to a huge potential environmental impact, not everyone of the 40% of the Panamanian population who live in abject poverty might agree with all the optimism. Panama will have to fork over those billions, and might in a few decades see some of it back, perhaps even turn a profit, but that means zilch if you're hungry now. Yes, the ruling class will get richer, no doubt there.

And who can resist such a well-endowed and carefully planned PR campaign?

Can't help wondering what will happen if Nicaragua pushes through its own canal plans.

Nicaragua canal: just a pipe dream?

Nicaragua's ambitious plans to build a new inter-oceanic waterway to rival the Panama Canal are making waves within the isthmus.

The proposal was publicised ahead of Panama's referendum which on Sunday backed a $5bn project to enlarge its own canal.

Opinion is divided on whether Nicaragua's $18bn canal project represents an unrealisable pipe dream - or a grand design from which one of the world's poorest countries will reap huge rewards.

This is certainly not the first time that Nicaragua has heard proposals for a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The idea was first mooted by Spanish explorers five centuries ago - and was seriously considered in the 19th Century, before the US opted to back the Panama Canal instead.

According to shipping expert Marc Hershman, of the School of Marine Affairs in Seattle, the chances of Nicaragua's plans coming to fruition now are probably greater than ever before.

"There's tremendous growth in demand for cargo shipping around the world and all along the west coast of America," he says.

"Even if it's still a dream, it's less of one than it was a while ago."

I can well believe that Panama could mismanage this project with massive cost overruns.  Today there is a 4 day wait for transit (which shoves traffic into West Coast ports) so the demand is there today for a 3rd set of locks.

And even with a decline in world trade, there would still be demand for larger locks (mothball 1 of 2 of the 1914 lock sets ?).

There is some risk of failure with 100 year old locks (the age when the new ones open) and the cost to Panama and the world if they had just one set of small locks would be high.

They are using 2+ years of prior excavation (US 1939-42) for new locks, so there are savings and soil knowledge there.

IMHO, of the policy options open, this was the best choice.

It aborts the Nicaragua canal (really, they can raise $18 billion with dirt flying in Panama ?), it creates a multi-century asset (perhaps massive sailing ships will use it, or ships burning Orimulsion), it is insurance against failure of old infrastructure (New York City depended upon 2 water tunnels,  failure of critical gates almost a century old would have forced evac of part of the city.  Over 30 years they built a 3rd water tunnel, recently finished, just as a spare).

If brought in on budget, I see moderate risk, even post_Peak Oil. (Venezuala will need Chinese goods for their oil).

And I respect democratic decisions.  Who am I to impose the democracy that I want on another nation and culture ?

(Answer, not GW Bush)

Problems with the Panama Canal and it's Expansion Project

When I was in engineering school I did a term paper on the Panama Canal. It was one of the most interesting and engaging papers I ever did. This was about 5 years ago, and the canal was starting to have serious problems. Why? The main reason is water. They are no longer getting the rain they used to get, so the lake is drying up. Plus, the bigger ships use more water which doesn't help. This expansion will require the lake to more than double in size.

Other problems: -Panama itself is very inhospitable to construction, both in climate and soil. Building anything there is harder than hell.
-The new locks will have to be almost double the size of the current ones. (The current dimensions: 110 ft wide by 1050 feet long. They are as high as 80 feet and the walls are up to 60 feet thick in various places.)
-Millions of people, mostly poor Panamanians, will have to be displaced as the canal is built and filled.

For information on the original construction of the canal, check out The Path Between the Seas. It's an excellant work. A good general documentary on the challenges of expanding canal can be found in the Discovery Channel's Extreme Engineering series.

While I was in school in early 1970s, I read the 600 or so page report by US Army Corps of Engineers that looked at several options for sea level canal or larger lock canal.  Cheaper using nukes (couple of strategies considered) with some convential excavation.

Cheapest route through Columbia.  Dredge swamps most of the way and then blast (convential or nuke) through end of Andes Mt passes.  Old route through Nicauraga was cost competitive with Panama (shorter trip to New Orleans),

New plans raise Gatun Lake by 1.5 feet (0.45 m) and have three water saving basins beside each of the 3 locks on each side.  The bigger ships using the new locks can carry 2x and 3x what Panamax ships can, so fewer transits for more cargo.  And water saving basins mean about same water/transit as old locks.

They will use US excavations 1939-1942 for bigger locks.

Displacements from higher lake and the borders of the Canal are where most development in Panama is.  Still, 70+% vote in favor by the people. This is a democracy, they have a decent idea of consequences.  $1,000 debt/person.

When I was having my coffee this morning, I looked at the panama canal master plan website and confirmed Alan's assertion regarding the water saving basins, which recycle lake water, rather than dumpimg it like before.


Slightly more complex than that.

They still use gravity (no pumping) and water use is cut by ~2/3rds.

When dropping a ship down, water coming up from the top of the lock goes into the first basin, upper middle into the second, lower middle into the third basin.  Bottom goes to the upper part of the next lock below.

When raising a ship, the "lower middle" goes in first to fill the bottom, upper middle second (each time dropping some meters lower), top basin next and topped off with fresh lake water.

The water takes a zig-zag path, always going lower.

Hope this helps,


Shell's costs on Sakhalin spiralling to $28 billion (or more)

Costs on Sakhalin-2, one of Royal Dutch Shell's most treasured yet politically fraught gas projects, are rocketing, says an internal report by the Russian government leaked to The Observer.

The news will anger the Kremlin because it could in theory mean it receives less revenue under the production-sharing agreement it signed with Shell a decade ago.

The report, by the mineral services division of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, drawing on Shell's own figures, states that operational costs will rise from a predicted $15bn in 2003 to $28bn, according to its latest estimate.

The liquefied natural gas plant off the east coast of Russia has doubled its construction budget of $20bn (£10.6bn) and there is a strong possibility that construction costs could rise further.

Ford loss widens to US$5.8 billion in 3Q, plans to restate results since 2001

Ford Motor Co. said Monday its loss widened to US$5.8 billion in the third quarter, weighed down by the costs of its massive restructuring plan aimed at cutting its expenses so it can compete better against lower-cost rivals from overseas.

Ford's new chief executive, Alan Mulally, called the latest results "clearly unacceptable."

The second biggest North American automaker also said it plans to restate its earnings for 2001 due to accounting errors involving derivative transactions. The restatement is expected to effect financial results from 2001 until the third quarter of this year.

The company expected the restatement would improve results for 2002, but said other periods are under study.

Ford refuses to sell its small, economical world-market vehicles in Canada and the US.

Of course they did.  Might as well extract all the margin they can while they can.

Some photos a friend just sent me of our powered-down transport future:  http://aistigave.hit.bg/Logistics/

I am OK with everything except the fridge, the mirror and the guy on the rope. I can't see those actually working; I suspect photoshopping.
I have a friend who went to Nepal last year.  Everything get tranported on foot in the hills and mountain.  Including :

  • Fridge
  • Chicken
  • Food
  • TV (where it can be used)
  • everything!!!

So I dont suspect photoshoping.
Some of them are shopped (fridge + car defy common sense).  I can tell by the pixels :)
I'm not sure about the fridge...if you look at how he's leaned relative to the rest of the people, he was carrying something.  The car does seem like a stretch...but I don't know how they'd get the lighting+shadow so good in a photoshop.  That's definitely a beefy contraption he's riding, and as stripped down as that car is, it probably doesn't weigh all that much.
This may be a stupid question but I am curious to ask anyway. Why is there a bigger demand for bigger cars in the US?

Here in the u.k. the vast proportion of cars are small hatchbacks or medium saloons getting 35-40 mpg. Is there some reason that one would need a bigger car in the US? To carry more stuff/poeple? I just don't know enough about the culture to guess. Apologies about my ignorance on this.


Psychology (and cheap petrol) IMHO.

GM & Ford advertising affected the above.

Also, we simply have more space per person, and most of our roads were designed with car-scale needs in mind. In places like Boston's north end, which looks like an old European city, you're not going to find too many large vehicles off the main streets because there isn't space for them.
It occurred to me after watching the playoffs and the first two World Series games that every single advertisement by Ford and GM was for their full-size SUVs and pick-up trucks.  I don't recall seeing a single one for a compact car (though I tend to phase out during commercials anyway).

Perhaps the rationale is the people who watch sports are all macho guys with fantasies about being a rancher in Montana and who think small cars are for wimps. And of course we have the principle that still governs the US auto industry: small cars mean small profits.

To watch these commercials, one would never think there is a looming energy problem. If fact one of the Chevy commercials didn't even have anything to do with the virtues of its vehicles at all: it was just one big nostalgia piece about 'our America' and how Chevy is as American as apple pie.  I guess that's called image

So if these commercials are any indications of where Ford and GM's heads are at, I wouldn't expect much new to come out of either company.

Why should they?  Don't you hear Bush talking?  Don't you watch the DOW?  We are breaking records here.  We have never seen growth like this.  It's is unfrickin believable!!  There is nothing to worry your pretty little head over.

Housing bubble, shmouzing bubble...we are robust, efficient, undefeatable...we are the Champions...of the frickin World.

And never forget...never......who got you here, baby!!

Remember it, on Novemeber 7th.

This has been a preview of what you will hear over the next few days.

Damn...I should be a speech writer.

Its not that those watching are wannabe montana ranchers, its that ford/gm are desperate to sell the only things they still make money at.  These guys are bankrupt in every sense of the word...  lower oil is helping at the moment, but imo much worse is coming very soon.
Australia also has big cars (we have passed them in recent years).

Some examples, if one has the only small car on the road, you can be uncomfortable and even lose status (dangerous if they don't "see" you).

People are taught to identify with their cars (I am proud of my 1982 M-B 240D I admit).  The car/SUV, even more than your house, is your outward display of status & identity.

Long drives are more comfortable in a larger car (supposedly).  US automakers pride themselves on the rolling easy chair, isolated from the environment.  And if one spends 2 to 4 hours/day in your car, why not be comfortable (physically and status wise).

Hope this helps.


Re: Australia, in the article linked by Leanan, it says:

Under the Kyoto Protocol, ... Australia was given a target of a 108 percent increase on 1990 emission levels, a target the government insists it is on track to meet.

Uh?  Even Canada will have problems beating that!  :-)

It required a double switcheroo to be able to say Australia was 'on track' to meet Kyoto targets
  1. Australia was allowed an 8% increase over 1990 emissions levels, not a cut like other developed countries. This was the result of a crybaby tantrum.
  2. Using some kind of magic wand, 'scientists' 'discovered' in the mid 1990s that 'changes to land use' saved about 30 Mtpa of emissions.

Therefore the Kyoto 'on track' claim is bogus. Nonethelss politicians are cock-a-hoop over it and proclaim it every opportunity. Australia is actually an egregious contributor to GW through high per-capita emissions and coal exports, though some claim uranium exports could be regarded as an offset.
and this is why i said Kyoto fails without a neutral third party dealing out immediate punishment for not meeting the deadlines etc.
it's like putting the fox's in charge of guarding the hens.
When gas prices go up a bit, it seems like the standard will be to pay $15k for the family minivan/tationwagon/crossover SUV and $5k each for a second + third 1-2 person commute vehicle with extremely good gas mileage, as opposed to 1 7-seat SUV for the family and 1 5-seat sedan, both of which will be used to commute.  But not until gas prices go up.
Pet rocks, teletubbies, tickle-me-Elmo, beanie babies...there's seriously no telling.  I can tell you though that all the commercials pump through the ideas that you'll be "above the rest" and safer or project images of individualism and conquering the elements.  Ironically enough, you'll see more pristine land (no houses, cool rivers, wildlife) in SUV commercials than just about anything.

Hummer: Restore your manhood (tm)

Hummer: Get your Girl ON ! (tm)
Hellz yeah.
Along with the other good answers, I will point out that there is an epidemic of obesity in the United States (and Canada and Mexico and other places, but especially the United States).  One can argue the exact causes and effects, but the drive-everywhere culture, "bigger is better" philosophy, large people and large vehicles are all related.  It may sound silly, but I suspect a good portion of the attraction of SUVs and pickup trucks for many people is the fact that they don't have to actually lower themselves into their vehicle.  I have obese relatives and they do not "sit" on a sofa, they bend slightly at the knees and then allow gravity to do its thing.


"In 1995, obesity prevalence in each of the 50 states was less than 20 percent. In 2000, 28 states had obesity prevalence rates less than 20 percent.

In 2005, only 4 states had obesity prevalence rates less than 20 percent, while 17 states had prevalence rates equal to or greater than 25 percent, with 3 of those having prevalences equal to or greater than 30 percent (Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia)."

(I know BMI is not a great measure, but it's not outrageously out to lunch either.  From web searching the comparable figures for the UK are 17% of men obese, 21% of women.)

Yes, a comment I often get regarding the Prius is "Oh, I could never fit in such a small car" - firstly it's a MIDSIZE car, secondly, I know some rather large people who fit in 'en fine - most Americans have not experienced what I call the Porsche Effect, part of what you are paying for if you buy a Porsche is that they're bigger inside than outside, kinda like a Tardis. Priuses are a bit like that also. But American trucks and SUVs are just plain big and meaty, they are made for BIG people.

The only big people in the US who seem to gravitate to small cars are the huge females in little cars conundrum, obese low-income females like these bitty older econo-cars, it's amazing how they fit in there lol.

Bigger = Better

That's the US mentality. Then there's the fear/safety factor - "I'm not going to buy small car then get into an accident with an SUV and get killed."
"To carry more stuff/poeple"

Pretty much.  You can use a big SUV to carry one person to work, but you can't use a small compact to haul a half a cord of wood, 8 sheets of drywall, or 5 people and their luggage on vacation.

While the majority of the time, the vehicle is only carrying 1 person, it is perfectly understandable to want to have a vehicle which allows you to do all the other things also.  When the true cost of oil was hidden, there was no real reason not to select the biggest vehicle you could afford.

Americans are huge people, the male of the species often having very tiny penises.
"the male of the species often having very tiny penises"

Penises, huh? Don't I feel inadequate...

OK I'm going to be raunchy here and remark on the huge business in fertility clinics in the US ..... obese + obese = inability to "make contact" and besides, being surrounded by rolls of fat does not help the testes keep at a low enough temperature and decreases fertility quite a bit......
We also have a lot of 300 pound people in US. I once had myself (170#), my 180# friend, and her two friends weighing (guesstimate) 300 and 350 all wanting to get into my Honda Civic. They shoved in, I rolled away from curb, bottomed out on the tiniest bumps and had to tell them they were all fat and this wasn't going to happen. They all thought I was crazy for not owning a sensible crew cab 4x4. Most people would want to avoid that embarassiung situation even more than I want to not know anyone who weighs 300.
Myself I think the big porkers should be issued electric wheelchairs.
I'm 6 foot tall and have been directed to the boys section when buying underwear. Nothing fits unless it's imported from Italy or taken to the tailor. America is full of big people and the automakers have to cater to them.
oldhippie you rock.

Carrying capability of the Prius is 850 lbs or as I think of it, 4 Japanese and their luggage or 2 Americans and their luggage lol.

Put 4 200lb Americans in there and you're near the design limit!

I suspect the carrying capacity of your Civic is about the same maybe a bit less if it's one of the older smaller ones.

Probably not enough profit to justify production. The big issue for Ford, GM and Crysler, is Pension liabilities. I don't recall the actual figure but the big three pay about $1500 per vehicle in pension liabilities. The margin on a small economical car is probably below their liability expenses.

The reason why many foreign auto manufacturers are so successful is because they don't carry the same huge pension liabilities (at least not yet).

So or later, all three will have to abandon their pension liabilities which will spell disaster for millions of retireed auto workers dependant upon them.

I was waiting for someone else to post this real reason so I didn't have to.  It took awhile.  Add high cost of health insurance in America.  Its marketing strategy.  Auto companies don't want to sell Americans small cars because of this profit margin problem.  Its not just because we're all fat, dumb, and lazy.
Plus, now that the majority of the vehicles on our US roads are quite large, people feel unsafe driving a small vehicle.  It goes back to "other people dictate what you can drive."  In Europe where most of the cars are smaller, they don't have to worry about this safety issue.
It's a perception thing. Me, the two safest things I ever drove were both Austins. The Austin Mini was so small most things that might have hit me missed. Hit me if you can find me. The Austin FX-4 (London taxi) is viewed by all as akin to the godhead and they stay far away while they ogle.
My 1st car was a Renault LeCar.  I loved it, and know what you're saying!  I felt safe because it was so small it was easy to avoid about anything.
On the Shell Oil shale project...I was just out there several weeks ago (yes, in the middle of nowhere) and the resources issues seem to be one of many problems.  As you drive through many of the towns in NW Colorado, the only sign of anything doing well is the banks.  

Nice, glitzy bank buildings in towns with closed storefronts and plenty of "For Sale" signs.  Less true in Wyoming, but still visible.  I digress.

Anyway, while watching one of the Denver TV stations, they ran an update story on the Shell process.  In the story, the stated that the amount of "oil" energy recovery was 2:1 (not the previously mentioned 3:1 of earlier reports) and that Shell was still looking at it but hadn't made any definite decisions on whether it would work on the large scale.  

As pointed out here, most electrical power is generated on a cycle that is only about 33% efficient, so the real EROEI is about 1:1 if the measured ratio (they measured electrical consumption compared to heating value of kerogen recovered) if one considers intial fuels input.  The revised ratio of 2:1 means that it's an energy loser unless one uses the highest eficiency combined cycle CT for electrical power generation, essentially onsite.  That also means that the previous estimated of 1200 MW per 100,000 barrels/day production is no longer "correct."

Yes, there is a resource issue as well.  As you drive through this area with all of it's oil and gas wells (clearly visible on Google Earth) you also drive up upon the mobile dormitory sites for the O&G workers, also out in the middle of nowhere.  Virtually everything has to be brought into these sites.  One might find potable water out here, but a look at the landscape tells you that you are in high arid plains.  

It's also evident, from the local discussion of water rights, that this might sound like an economic boon, but where and how are resources going to be allocated?  It's an interesting discussion to listen to.  Maybe at $100-200/barrel it will make economic sense to move forward, but some have long memories about the last time oil shale was the great economic hope in this area.  

The only viable long term option I see is occasional use of wind turbine generated electricity when there is no market for it elsewhere (late night, good winds and massive wind farms).

Having a buyer of last resort will encourage more WTs to be installed.

Shell could make good money by building the wind farms, selling the peak and mid-range power and sending the baseload into the ground.  A Shell owned wind farm(s) could send more energy into the ground than purchased power due to internal constraints, etc.

Circa 2020, I could see 100,000 barrels/day from this strategy.  Build 10 GW of WTs and associated transmission lines (HV DC lines to say, California, Phoenix, Las Vegas*), generate average 3.2 GW, sell 2/3rds to the grid and put ~1 GW into the ground when prices are low ~3 AM on a mild night.  Wait 4 or so years and then kerogen starts coming out.

Break even or better on the WTs, profits from the oil.

Run millions of $ worth of commercials about how great & green Shell is (I would support such a project).

Best Hopes,


New federal law allows Feds to override locals and push new transmission lines through.  With the prospect of 1) more clean green electricity and 2) more domestic oil, the lines could be built !

The only viable long term option I see is occasional use of wind turbine generated electricity when there is no market for it elsewhere


Or you could use the 'excess' power to move computr controlled freight about.

Thanks for posting this! It provides some interesting information.
one of the Denver TV stations, they ran an update story on the Shell process.  In the story, the stated that the amount of "oil" energy recovery was 2:1 (not the previously mentioned 3:1 of earlier reports)

Does anyone have a link to this data ?

I would like to have it for private converatiosn with Dr. Bezdek and his Dept. of Energy report.

Best Hopes,


That Bush is just sooo lucky...just when he's ready to ring the accolades of the US economy, the DOW is up 80 points (well over 12,000) and oil just looks like it's gonna keep falling...

Bush to address economy over next 2 days


The future is now.  The solar services model.

And, of course, the economics only make sense to people who think that prices for conventional energy will keep rising.

Contrast that story to this troublesome one.

But even as some investors have profited handsomely by buying and sometimes quickly reselling power plants, electricity customers, who were supposed to be the biggest beneficiaries of the new system, have not fared so well. Not only have their electricity rates not fallen, in many cases they are rising even faster than the prices of the fuels used to make the electricity.
Onsite solar generation by third parties is a good concept.  Actually solar thermal for process heat could be more efficient, however it is a little harder to meter btus than kWH.  In some parts of the country a micro utility may have so much permitting overhead to not make the effort worthwhile however.  

Think of the line losses eliminated from the first example when compared to the second.  7% minimum would be my guess.  

The financing of alternative energy systems will remain a problem-  it is a huge problem for the residential market.  There needs to be a responsible third party to measure the output of the systems to measure the effectiveness of the systems to protect the buyers/financial providers.

In a real world of "low bid" contracts, it will always be too easy fudge performance numbers on paper for natural powered systems.  
For instance you want solar thermal on your home and you have two bids.  Both bids say they can provide 70% of your annual hot water  requirements.  One system is 20% cheaper and yet has half the square footage of collector area.  Low bid gets the contract and yet the real world performance is lower.   The system is plumbed incorrectly and fails after a couple of years.  Believe me the solar business has the same flim flam types as any construction industry.    

Solar PV is more predictable and has been embraced as DC/AC technology has improved.  But installation standards can still be an issue.

Matt Simmons has a new (to me, anyhow) presentation up on his web site called Limits to Growth: The Impact of Rig Scarsity

In this presentation, he has additional information on his projections. He looks at combined oil and natural gas, expressed in barrel of oil equivalents (BOE). In 2003, his base year, he shows the following BOE's.

Oil     80.0
Natural Gas   46.4
Total      126.4

He projects demand for oil and natural gas to grow as follows:

2003  126.4
2010  148.4
2020  177.2
2030  206.7

He projects supply - presumably from existing oil wells or fields for gas, before adjustment for new sources accessed from additional rigs - to be declining at 7.5% per year. Projected supply on this basis is

2003  126.4
2010   73.2
2020   33.6
2030   15.4

He indicates that the gap between these two amounts is going to be difficult to fill, because of the shortage of rigs and of trained workers, and the fact that supplies are coming from more difficult to access sites.

MEES released their September OPEC production figures on October 17. Iraq was quite steady, considering its internal woes, at 2.05 mbpd and Saudi Arabia was down to 9.1 mbpd.

It looks like sa is happy to reduce their output because it was falling anyway.
If you created this, mind if you release it to the public domain?  It's a good ref for the wikipedia article describing the current empiricist peak hypothesis.
The MEES data is already in the public domain. Well, it is available on the web for everyone, at no charge. I suppose that is in the public domain.

Ron Patterson

I'm speaking of the graph, not the data :)

And the public domain needs to be explicitly declared - by default I have a copyright on this here post until Mickey Mouse dies in a nuclear war.

Of course it is public domain. I did nothing creative, the software I used did!
A couple of days agot a gent was posting on 'peak minerals'.


the authors concluded that what exists, as iron in product, is similar to the amount of iron left in the ground as ore.

Peak Iron!

The thing about Iron, and many other mineral resources, is that so long as we have plentiful enough energy, we can recycle much of it, repeatedly.

Also given enough energy it is possible to extract metals from from non-ore sources.  For its not practical...  yet, but someday it might be.  But for that someday to occur we will need to have solved the peak oil/energy issues first.

bleh typo

"For its not practical"

should read,

For Iron, its not practical.

you can't recycle for ever.
each time you recycle a product be it metal or plastic it degrades and you loose some of it while the rest is of lesser quality.
referring to me? I didn't get any responses on Saturday so I'll ask again here on a weekday:

Has anyone here studied potash and phosphate production? Specifically, does anyone have any sources on mining operations beyond USGS data which is all I have been able to find?

'ExportLand' Update

Even if Russia is near its 'peak' production (it fell slightly in September), its exports are falling behind last year's amounts:

Russia Reduces Oil Exports To Non-CIS Countries

MOSCOW. Oct 23 (Interfax) - Russia reduced oil exports to non-CIS countries

0.2% year-on-year in January-September to 159.82 million tonnes, including oil shipped from refinery terminals, the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry told Interfax.

Exports to the CIS fell 2.4% year-on-year to 28.15 million tonnes. Exports to Belarus and Kazakhstan rose, while exports to Ukraine fell.

Russia exported 119.5 billion cubic meters of gas to the non-CIS, up 0.8% year-on-year. Exports to the CIS totaled 31.4 bcm.

Oct 23 2006 12:58PM
Oil production up 2.4% in Jan-Sept, gas - 3.1%
MOSCOW. Oct 23 (Interfax) - Oil production in Russia in January- September 2006 increased 2.4% year-on-year to 357.92 million tonnes, the Industry and Energy Ministry's press service said.

In September, for the first time since February this year, there was a drop in average daily production compared with the previous month -1.3303 million tonnes, compared with 1.3345 million tonnes in August.

The leading producers of oil and gas condensate were Lukoil (RTS: LKOH), Rosneft (RTS: ROSN), TNK(RTS: TNKO)-ÂÐ, Surgutneftegas (RTS: SNGS), and Gazprom Neft.

Gas production in January-September 2006 amounted to 483.73 billion cubic meters, up 3.1% year-on-year. Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) produced 405.9 bcm (up 0.7% year-on-year).

In January-September Gazprom accounted for about 84% of total gas production, compared with 85.8% a year earlier. Growth in gas production by oil companies and other producers was higher.

Production of primary fuel and energy resources in January-September 2006 amounted to 1.31 billion tonnes of fuel equivalent, up 2.8% year-on-year. rd


So, production up and exports down... weren't we wondering about this?  What if production goes down?
"The day after" Poptech.  Got all the business done we needed to catch up on. It is serious when a high priced, elite conference has Lester Brown. Amidst all the flashy power points, (Tom Barnette who has his staff produce them)when you have Lester, who walks out center stage, sits in a chair, and just has a conversation with you. It's like grandad just started talking and the room gets quiet.

Had to be the best presenter there, with no work, no effort.
Just the facts.

Plan B 2.0

This conference is not a place for telling techies your world is going to change. Founded by Bill Metcalf <inventor of ethernet> and John Scully of Apple and Peoplepc fame it is all about tech.

Lester pretty much said to these tech freaks, where are you going to get your power?

Nicely done, serious kudos to Lester. When we had diner togther I shared the oildrum url. He had never heard of it.

Disclaimer, I know Bob Metcalf, and this is our 9th year at the conference, we skipped the year for educators as we all know they can't be taught anything, they just know what is best for all of us and our kids. Never ever get an educator on dial up phone support. They skew the time needed to fix the problem by hours.

Once again late night posting, life is full and it's hard to get here.

Don in Maine

I thought the whole point about informing the public about peak oil was to make them aware of the problems we face, and hopefully allow us to collectively solve them by switching to sustainable renewable production of our goods and services.  I still have yet to discover the connection between peak oil and 'no more electricity ever'.  Would you mind elaborating?
The statement "no more electricity ever" is invalid. It should be no more electricity created from hydrocarbons, which is how most of the electricity is generated in this country.  The connection between PO and that type of electrical generation is obvious. If you add in the electrical infrastructure it becomes a real problem pronto.  Do not argue that coal is used to generate significant amounts of electricity as the enviormental effects are greater than PO and coal is also a depleting resource that takes a huge amount of petrolium based resources to remove from the ground and deliver to the plants thereby increasing reliance on on said oil.
Doesnt one of these articles metion that we have roughly 3000 year supply of coal on hand?  I guess there is some kind of disconnect taking place :P

I'm still betting on a massive solar/wind/nuclear push powering massive EVs and PEHV's/biodisel being the mainstay in vehicle transportation in 20-30 years :P

Hey on the plants thinking it's Spring - I noticed at my bank the pine trees were dropping ..... those little soft cone-y shaped things that are just full of pollen. They were lying on the ground and if I nudged one with my foot, lots of yellow pollen would fall out.

I suck for not being in touch enough with the environment to know when in the year this is supposed to happen, but isn't the time when the air is yellowish-hazy with pine pollen in the Spring?

A super late night comment on here that I can't believe no one mentioned Skilling going to the slammer for 42 years today! (or now yesterday)

Sure, he'll appeal, sure for a completely unfair reason he's under house arrest, and sure this is not necessarily Peak Energy related but...damn, if you've seen "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" it's the best damn news of the day. It's one of the biggest sentences for white collar crime ever, and it happened in the energy industry.

One guy caught. Many more to go.

Ken, lay down and die.

So Ken Lay up and died.

Jeff make a killing. What happened to that?

Coup planned in Iraq

All part of the Vietnamization strategy.

Iraqi army officers are reportedly planning to stage a military coup with U.S. help to oust the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
      Cairo-based Iraqi and Arab sources said Monday several officers visited Washington recently for talks with U.S. officials on plans for replacing Maliki's administration by a "national salvation" government with the mission to re-establish security and stability in Iraq.
      One Iraqi source told United Press International that the Iraqi army officers' visit to the United States was aimed at coordinating the military coup in case the efforts of Maliki's government to restore order reached a dead end.