DrumBeat: November 20, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 11/20/06 at 10:42 AM EDT]

Motorists face new costs for highways

Frustration over traffic gridlock and inadequate gasoline-tax funds are prompting state and local governments to try alternative ways to finance road building.

Oregon is charging some motorists a road-user fee based on miles traveled instead of the state gas tax. Georgia is considering replacing its state gas tax with a 1% statewide sales tax dedicated to road and transit projects. New Jersey is looking at converting more freeways into toll roads.

The Community Solution/Richard Heinberg Energy Use Survey

The Community Solution (Pat Murphy and Megan Quinn) along with Richard Heinberg need your help! The Community Solution, producers of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, and Richard Heinberg, author of The Party's Over and PowerDown, are performing a market study based on energy conservation. We are researching a new service that makes it easier to conserve energy.

We feel this survey is vital work towards improving The Community Solution's conservation plan, "Plan C." Your response on the survey helps us greatly because we value your input. It takes less than five minutes and allows your voice to be heard while preserving your anonymity. Please, take just a few minutes to follow the link to the survey and fill it out.

You'll be helping us make a difference. We'll be sure to publish the survey results so everyone can see what our next steps will be.

Thank you for participating! Very truly yours,

Pat Murphy, Executive Director
Megan Quinn, Outreach Director

Does The Oil Drum threaten CERA's market share?

CERA is a profit-making business that sells its consulting services and specialized reports to a narrow, well-heeled audience. Why would it care about the pronouncements of a relatively small band of peak oil Internet vigilantes, some mostly retired oil company geologists, a few energy analysts and some concerned citizens who still constitute only the tiniest fraction of the public? The answer could lie in the accessibility, credibility and packaging of their message, a message that can be examined in detail for free by anyone (including CERA clients) at The Oil Drum, Energy Bulletin, The Oil Depletion Analysis Center , the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas, and myriad other places.

OPEC should wait before studying output cut: Barkindo

TEHRAN (AFP) - Acting OPEC secretary general Mohammed Barkindo has said that the cartel will have to wait several weeks before examining a new production cut to support oil prices.

"The market is wrong about the OPEC commitment, we should wait at least for one month to assess the impact of the OPEC decision," he told reporters on the sidelines of an oil and gas conference in Tehran.

Gas prices on the rise again, analyst reports

Gas prices are on the rise again, just as Americans hit the highways for Thanksgiving.

Polish gas monopoly signs new gas deal

WARSAW, Poland - Poland's oil and natural gas monopoly has signed a three-year gas deal with a Russian-Ukrainian gas supplier, even as Warsaw looks to diversify its energy supplies.

A peril that dwelt among the Navajos

During the Cold War, uranium mines left contaminated waste scattered around the Indians. Homes built with the material silently pulsed with radiation. People developed cancer. And the U.S. did little.

Energy Descent Scenarios: Integrating Climate Change & Peak Oil

Why will Oil Prices Fall?

The world’s oil supply is expanding. It is possible to meet increase in global demand comfortably with new reserves and new technologies. For example, the newly discovered oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico that may contain 3-15 billion barrels will relieve production demands.

Why Being An Oil Bull Continues To Make Sense

When we last visited the oil patch, we found the arguments against higher oil prices lacking. It remains our view that demand for oil is rising at a faster pace than supplies of oil, and that the imbalance will be solved through the price mechanism. We don’t think the correction is even close to done.

Space sunshade might be feasible in global warming emergency

A Sunnier Forecast for Solar Energy: Still Small, Industry Adds Capacity and Jobs to Compete With Utilities.

Four Steps To Energy Independence

Americans have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to dramatically shift the direction of our nation's energy policy by demanding that candidates support policies to reduce our reliance on oil, increase renewable energy, promote conservation and dramatically increase investments in the energy-saving and renewable energy technologies.

Ten Year Moratorium on all Immigration

We need to create jobs for 14 million of our unemployed Americans. We need to solve our 1.5 million homeless peoples’ problems. We’ve got to deal with 13 million of our children living below the poverty level. We must solve our energy crisis as we exceed our ability to produce enough oil and gas for our own citizens.
This looks like a terrific idea.  I look forward to the posting of survey results and analysis.

Information is crucial -- "the truth shall set you free."

Thanks to Richard Heinberg, Pat Murphy, Megan Quinn, and their helpers for exploring this.

By the way, I think that "Plan C" is the most effective option for dealing with the twin challenge -- PO and GW.

Now on...

Jason Bradford on Sunday November 19, 2006 at 1:43 PM EST
Nate Hagens will be the next guest on my radio show.  Stream it live from http://www.kzyx.org or wait for it to come out on Global Public Media.
We will be talking about ASPO, CERA, net energy, natural gas treadmill, climate change and conflicts with the Hirsch-report type "mitigation" strategies, etc.

The show runs from 9 to 10 am PST.

That Heinberg/Quinn/et al poll is now closed, it seems.  I've heard it was indeed a "marketing" survey, trying to see what kind of energy-conservation-info service might be viable.
Really?  It still works for me.
Hmm, and now it's back online.  Sorry for that, but when I tried it earlier I got a page that clearly said the poll was closed.
I'm sorry, but the truth will not set you free. The truth is knowing the truth is greatly overrated.
Spot on AMPOD.
The truth is we can't handle the truth.
The truth is that we are bound to the Laws of Thermodynamics.
The truth is that the Technology Fairy is not coming to save us.
The truth is that the Mindless "Market" is driving our society straight for the Apocalypto edge.
I understand the sentiment that it is just a matter of time before cellulosic ethanol starts paying out, but I thought it was important to step back and realistically assess the status quo:

Cellulosic Ethanol Reality Check

This should help you understand why cellulosic ethanol plants aren't springing up from coast to coast. I decided not to do this as a TOD essay, because someone else is working on an excellent guest essay on this topic.

Don't worry.  Our fearless leader says we're going to do a lot of "cellulostic" research.  That will save the day!  
Do you think are Fearless Leader is drinking that cellulostic 4.0 beer?
Don't worry.  Our fearless leader says we're going to do a lot of "cellulostic" research.  That will save the day!

When people start talk about doubling cellulosic ethanol yields from today's values, which would take the yields well beyond the theoretical capacity, I get concerned. What I am hoping is that some day the reality slaps some influential people in the face: We must get away from this liquid fuel, internal combustion engine paradigm. Right now that paradigm is alive and well, because as you say, cellulosic will "save the day".

The problem is NOT liquid fuels, internal combustion engines, etc.... The problem is to darn many people! If we had a population of 100 million people in the USA instead of 300 million, we would not have any problems with fuel, pollution, roads, housing etc....
And trying to accomodate another 100 million  or more in the next 30 years is going to trash any "solution" that anyone comes up with now to make more fuel, etc....
Yet, even here on The Oil Drum, when one starts talking about some actions to reduce population there is usually a piling on of opposition.
I have finally reached the point where I think any more efforts to "solve the problem" of peak oil, global warming, overpopulation are wasted effort. Far better to spend the time and money to take care of ones self and ones family for the future - If it is even possible.
And I have never been a "doomer" before. But the total denial of most of the draconian measures that will need to be taken in the population arena before any real solution is possible has brought me to the "doomer" mentality.
Nationalistic or isolationist responses that border on jingoism or not helpful. That 200 million you want to subtract  from the U.S. population consumes more oil than all 1.3 billion Chinese.

Shutting our borders will only make us the target of all those outside (even more than we are already). The "philosophy" of us versus them is being discredited right in front of our eyes, yet you want to extend it even further.

Please, please think beyond an American perspective. This is a global problem that is exacerbated by American consumption out of proportion with our population size. We will not solve anything by simply protecting our own.

As a single example, Mexicans that stay home will use far less oil than if they moved to Los Angeles.  The same is true for Germans.

Reducing US population WILL reduce global oil consumption and Global Warming.

Bestb Hopes,


So you suggest that we cut off immigration for this reason?

But I could also suggest that since new immigrants are typically poorer than average they will use less and pollute less than the average. By this logic we should invite even more immigrants in to help us reduce our per capita consumption, etc.

Reducing US population does nothing in and of itself. If the result of our shutting our borders is to push growth outside of the US (as it would do if capitalism works as it is designed), we do nothing to global consumption or CO2 creation.

Again, this is not a problem that can be solved in isolation.

If the result of our shutting our borders is to push growth outside of the US (as it would do if capitalism works as it is designed), we do nothing to global consumption or CO2 creation.

You are making a faulty argument by relying on Globalist capitalism, which many capitalists who are also nationalists decry as being a very stupid model of capitalism to follow if you have any desire to maintain control over your own resources, and wish to maintain some level morals and standards in your economy/nation.

Capitalism has many flavors, the current flavor of the month (dare I say last couple decades) is globalism.  I am pro-capitalism, but specifically I'm pro-protectionist-capitalism which is a MUCH different beast than the globalism that is infecting the planet now.

A nation which practiced protectionist capitalism and had enough capability to provide for itself most finished goods, and raw resources would do fairly well.  The US is such a nation.  The immigration issue is basically a symptom of globalist capitalism, and in the end its going to cost the Average American quite dearly as they will drown in this over crowded lifeboat along with all the immigrants (legal or otherwise) that we've allowed to come flooding in.

Jon Kutz is right in that many of these resource issues ARE a population issue, and the ONLY way to solve that is start letting people die.  Its an ugly and nasty reality that nobody is going enjoy watching take place save for a few sickos.  But the subsidizing of life in remote deolate hostile climates where the people cannot produce enough for themselves but instead rely on imported goods needs to end.  

The continued support for nations with extreme population densities such as China, India, Japan and Europe needs to end.  The support of nations on the brink of extreme population densities needs to be weighed carefully and given only with stipulations that those nations will keep things under control and/or reduce their risk of going over the edge.  That includes the US, Mexico, and South America.  But Jon is right, the sheer draconian laws needed to accomplish this would not be tolerated in most nations, or at least not tolerated until the survival of the nation itself is in dire danger.

I disagree with Jon on the carrying capacity of the US, as I don't think we are pass or too far pass that carrying limit, but we are AT or perhaps just a bit beyond that limit and I believe that a suspension and/or eventual reversal of population growth in a controlled/humane manner can be accomplished yet in this country.  First and foremost would be a complete STOP to illegal immigration and a serious review of our legal immigration quotas.

But I doubt any of these actions are going to occur here or anywhere else, as "tolerance" has basically castrated self-preservation in much of the Western World.  Its now a mortal sin to consider that your way of life/values/morals might be superior to another cultures', even though the battle of cultures has been raging for eons.  What eventually will happen is another culture will come in and wipe out our own.  They will not have the hang ups pluralism, and ultra-tolerance and they will destroy us utterly.

If you don't believe me that this is the norm of human history, then just ask the Native Americans that were on this continent...  oh wait... you can't because they were not fit enough to survive.  Then I suggest you ask the Europeans now while you still can, in a few more decades you might not be able to unless they can get a grip on the influx of Muslim culture that is steadily consuming those cultures.  Evolution is not only a biological process in determining which animals procede to the next phase, it also applies to quite a few social situations within the human animal's domain.

Capitalism has always required a less developed area from which to extract surplus value. This is how wealth is "created." Any form of "national" capitalism is merely limits on where surplus value can be extracted from.

There is a question whether or not the US dominates so much of the capitalist economy that its withdrawal would bring the whole thing down. But if it didn't, the US would soon be overwhelmed by the global economy (e.g., withdrawal of critical resources and labor would destroy the "national" economy.

(And just for the record, I don't disagree that population is critical, but so is consumption. What I disagreed with was the false assertion that limiting the population of the US alone through the end of immigration would solve our problems.)

Any form of "national" capitalism is merely limits on where surplus value can be extracted from.

Exactly. That's the point of globalization. It's a way to grab other countries' resources because we've exhausted our own.

Very well put. Very well.

You have the ability to speak without the shackles of Political Correctedness, which seems to have somehow become more like a beacon of blinding light that many try to shine in others eyes and so blind them to the truth.

More need to speak out and forget the PC cops.

While I like the Mexicans I run into and chat with I  realize that they have values that we seem to have lost, strong family,religious faith...etc, I simply wish they could control their own country and change it for the better instead of destroying ours, even though that is not their intent.

Globalization. The culprit.

While many seem to be chastening the USA so harshly I wonder why it is that so many still want to get in and none want to get out. Like Blair said, this is one way to judge a country. How many want in and how many want out.

I have heard it said by those who cross the border both ways, legally, that it is far harder to pass into Mexico that to come into the USA. The Mexican border guards are far stricter, so I was told. Been a long time since I visited Mexico so I have no personal knowledge of that statement.

Screw Blair.  When Spain was stealing all the gold of the Incas and Aztecs, I'm sure Madrid was the place where people wanted to go - and the bloodied lands of its victims were the places where people wanted to leave.  I judge Spain by the monstrous crimes it committed, not the profits that generated.  

When Blair's beloved empire was raping India, Africa, up to one third the world's land surface, immigrants were in fact pouring into London (check out the Italian last names there today).  The cost - Britain taught the world that you could win by burning non-renewable resources.  That you could use corporations and banking to turn local monarchs into puppets.  That the white man was so superior that he had the right to use force to exterminate any problem that got in his way.  That the world must be enslaved by Protestants.  Meanwhile Britain was so busy with empire that it couldn't invest in decent schools or modern steel mills.  Blair will not tell you the complex process by which all this crap helped pave the road to two world wars and a global depression.  That's how I judge Britain.

My judgement of America, because of its role in institutionalizing Peak Oil and Global Warming, is harsher than Britain's or Spain's.  It will have the blood of hundreds of millions on its hands before it's all over.

For the record, I love this little subthread, but for the life of me cannot figure out how immigration got injected into it.  Population control needs to happen, and it won't.  There is an example here--China--which gives you the kind of measures that would need to be taken to accomplish it, and realistically, the chances of that happening in the US approach zero.  So I must agree with Jon Kutz, who says that an additional 100 million (reflecting the UN projection) in the US by 2040 will be a disaster. Too right.
US would be negative without immigration. Europe is negative. Places like Canada and mexico will (have already?) follow soon enough. World population won't grow forever, and it won't take mass genocide to accomplish this.

If you want to know how this stunning turn of events came about, just ask it real source, Jimmy Carter. His foundation has pushed hard to get free school lunches into 3rd world countries. School lunches cause children to attend school. Children that attend school don't have 12 kids themselves. And indeed, the countries where free school lunches have been implemented have seen a demographic jolt as powerful as any genocide, though much more merciful. I remember the day when the UN predicted that the world population would grow to 15 billion and beyond, today 5 (at least) revisions later it's expected to max out at no more than 9 and then begin a steady decline. If Carter's work expands further, that number will come down even more. Prosperity is a funny thing. People with jobs find themselves less and less likely to have lots of kids, or even any at all.

My grandmother was a farmer, she had 5 kids. My parents and uncles are doctors, lawyers, and teachers, they had (at most) 3 kids. My brother had 1 and I'm not sure I'll have any.

The worst mistakes of judgement come not from faulty logic, but from faulty premises. The "population will grow until we all kill each other" premise is quite faulty, and has been so for some time.

Please, know your facts before you go off half cocked

Table 4: Cumulative Estimates of the Components of Population Change for the United States and States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005                           
Geographic Area    Total Population Change*    Natural Increase            Net Migration       
        Total    Births    Deaths    Total    Net International Migration    Net Internal Migration
United States    14,985,802    8,651,861    21,329,804    12,677,943    6,333,941    6,333,941    -


No, he's right.  The U.S. would be negative without immigration.  Or at least steady-state.

You can't just look at net migration.  Immigrants have larger families for several generations after they arrive.  So a lot of the births are also due to immigration.

This is why Greenspan attributes all the economic growth of the past 20 years to immigration.

Leanan - please follow the link. Births in the US outnumbered deaths by 8,651,861 between April 2000 and July 2005. Despite the popular notion that indigenouse growth is negative, we crossed back over into positive growth during the late 90s.
And how many of those births were from immigrants (legal or illegal is moot, but illegal makes up the larger portion of the influx currently).
Let me put it this way.  I'll use my family as an example.  My great-grandparents came over from the old country.  They had 13 kids each...that lived.  Their children, my grandparents, born in the U.S. and full citizens, had 5-6 kids each.  My parents' generation, also born in the U.S. and full citizens, had 1-3 kids each.  My generation has 0-2 kids.  

That is the trend you see when new immigrants arrive in the U.S.  That is what is keeping our birth rate so high.  Families long-established in the U.S. have birthrates similar to Europe's.

This is why immigration is so important to big business.  It's not just a supply of cheap labor.  It's also a supply of customers...not just when they arrive, but the new citizens they add to the population for generations after they arrive by their higher birthrates.

It matters not where they come from. These are children born in the US. Births outnumber deaths. We can hypothesize all we want about whether their parents are immigrants or not. They aren't going to be sent back, they are part of this country now. We can guess what things might have been like if these most recent group of immigrants had not come to this country. But that's about as useful as guessing what it would be like if Europeans had never come to the new world.
Births outnumber deaths.

But would they, without immigration?  That is the point.

They aren't going to be sent back, they are part of this country now.

Of course not.  Did anyone say otherwise?

We're talking about the future here.  There is no easy way to slow population growth.  But what's the easiest way?  

We can't enact a one-child policy, like China.  While I like the idea of child credits, and the child-free being able to sell theirs to people who want to have more kids, I just don't see that as politically possible.  Ditto taxing children.

No, the easiest way to slow population growth is to cut immigration.  It helps two ways, by reducing the number of people coming into the country, and reducing the birthrate, as the long-assimilated tend to have smaller families than the newly arrived.

But would they, without immigration?  That is the point.

Hard to say - how far back do you want to go? Immigrants before 1990? 1890? 1492?

That is the true point.

I suspect it goes back at least a century, but that doesn't really matter.  As you say, we're all here now, and we can't be sent back.  What matters is the present...and how it will affect the future.

Let's use Mr. Greenspan's figures, if you insist on a timeframe: For the past twenty years, all U.S. growth has been due to immigration.  

This goes right back to the initial statement. I'm sorry, but children born in the United States are not immigrants, they are indigenouse population growth. If you want to continue using that argument, you are welcome to it, but recognize that 297+ million of us are born of parents who did not live in North America 500 years ago.
You are missing the point.  No one is saying that children born in the U.S. are immigrants.  They can be caused by immigration, though.  

Immigration was an important part of our growth as a nation.  But we're reaching the end of the growth paradigm.  What was good on the front side of peak is not going to be good on the back end.  We are facing some really hard choices, and immigration limits are least of it.  

I would disagree. It is you that are missing the point. This entire nation was "caused" by immigration. You remove immigration you remove what we are (all those white supremacist fantasies not withstanding).

Limiting population growth, especially by immigration limits, in the US will not solve any of the problems we are facing. They are not problems caused by immigration (except maybe in the minds of those same white supremacists). They are global problems caused by a global economic system that worships growth. Don't think for a minute that preventing immigration will do anything other than move some of that growth elsewhere.

Now, if all you are interested in is protecting your own little corner, go for it; pass limits on immigration, then vote to make all those of x ethnicity leave, and lets get rid of the gays and lesbians while we're at it, and if you don't think just like me please move away. Is that the kind of world you want to live in? Because that's the sort of world you are promoting when you start targeting immigration.

This entire nation was "caused" by immigration. You remove immigration you remove what we are.

"What we are" is going to be removed anyway.  It is simply not sustainable.

(all those white supremacist fantasies not withstanding)

I get the feeling that this your real concern.  No matter what facts, figures, etc., are presented, you would be against immigration limits because so many anti-immigration activists are racists, xenophobes, or worse.

I understand that POV...but we have to move beyond it.  

Don't think for a minute that preventing immigration will do anything other than move some of that growth elsewhere.

I am thinking it, and for longer than a minute.  We are the most wasteful people on the earth.  It's good for the planet if there are fewer of us.  Whether homegrown or imported.

Now, if all you are interested in is protecting your own little corner, go for it

It may sound that way, but that's not my thinking.  I like Jared Diamond's term: lifeboat.  Lots of small lifeboats is better than one big lifeoat.

This doesn't mean that "my corner" is better. Who knows? It may well be when TSHTF that Mexico or Canada or Japan or Sweden will be the better place to weather the storm.  And I would not blame them for keeping us out.  In fact, I think they should.

pass limits on immigration, then vote to make all those of x ethnicity leave,

Dude, that's a big jump from first part of that statement to the last.  We already have limits on immigration.  It's hardly step one on the road to ethnic cleansing.

and lets get rid of the gays and lesbians while we're at it, and if you don't think just like me please move away. Is that the kind of world you want to live in? Because that's the sort of world you are promoting when you start targeting immigration.

I think that's the world we're heading for if we don't limit immigration now.  Did you see downthread, where someone is proposing shooting illegal immigrants on sight?  o_O

Leanan - we are rarely very far apart in our views on things, but I've got to say, I believe you are dead wrong on this one. Immigration controls as are being suggested elsewhere in this thread and in this and other Drum Beats are nothing more than xenophobic attempts to protect what the writer thinks of as his/her "America." It is an ugly and ultimately ineffective attempt to exclude difference from their world.

If there is one thing about "America" that would really help us in the future, it is our willingness to become increasingly inclusive.

As for those facts and figures - who is it that has to subdivide and inspect them in order to reach their conclusion that immigration is bad? Who is it that can't accept it as good enough that there are more born in this country than die each year? Why do certain people find it necessary to say that this happens because of "them"? If it was just "us" we'd be fine?

If moving beyond means exclusivity, I don't want any part of it. If your lifeboat is based on what nationality you happen to have been born into, I'll take my chances in the waves. I repeat, this is not a national problem, it is not a problem caused by immigration. Limiting immigration will do nothing to solve the problems we are facing.

If you think its a big jump from stopping immigration to ethnic cleansing, then you have forgotten the history of the twentieth century.

Here's what it comes down to. Proposals for ending immigration are the racist dreams of people who want to blame others for all the worlds problems. You want to assure that the future will pit ethnicity against ethnicity, straight against gay, christian against muslim, play along and support them. But if you want to live in a world that is built on cooperation rather than competition, inclusion rather than exclusion, compassion rather than hatred, put your energies elsewhere.

You know, we could put a fence up around the country tomorrow and it would not do one jot to help prevent the onset of peak oil. It would do a lot to make this an ugly place to live.

It is an ugly and ultimately ineffective attempt to exclude difference from their world.

For some, maybe. Not for me.  For me, it's a way to slow, maybe even stop, growth.  Or to prepare for a world where a shrinking economy is the norm.

If there is one thing about "America" that would really help us in the future, it is our willingness to become increasingly inclusive.

I'm with Monbiot on that: "If kindness and comfort are, as I suspect, the results of an energy surplus, then, as the supply contracts, we could be expected to start fighting once again like cats in a sack."

The cause of conflict is too many people and not enough resources.  

As for those facts and figures - who is it that has to subdivide and inspect them in order to reach their conclusion that immigration is bad?

Actually, the people doing the subdividing and inspection came to the conlusion that immigration is good.  It propels growth, in both population and the economy, and that's good...right?

Of course, if you think that growth is not good (or at least, not sustainable), you reach a different conclusion.

If your lifeboat is based on what nationality you happen to have been born into, I'll take my chances in the waves.

Then start swimming.  I think it's inevitable.  Much as I like the idea of the global nation, a la Star Trek, I don't see it happening in the light of peak oil.  Not only that...I don't see the U.S. surviving as one nation.  The trend will be toward localization, politically as well as economically.

If you think its a big jump from stopping immigration to ethnic cleansing, then you have forgotten the history of the twentieth century.

I said controlling immigration.  Which, theoretically anyway, we already do.  

It's insane.  Since 9/11, it's become nearly impossible for immigrants to legally bring in family members.  I'd rather slow illegal immigration, and allow those who are legally in this country to reunite with their families.

Proposals for ending immigration are the racist dreams of people who want to blame others for all the worlds problems.

I think you're being close-minded.  Pat Buchanan is a racist, because he wants to keep Pakistanis out while allowing in Irish Catholics in.  But not everyone who wants to limit immigration is a racist.

We cannot throw the borders open and allow everyone who wants to enter to come in.  Similarly, we cannot hermetically seal the country and not allow anyone in.  We're just arguing about where to draw the line.

You know, we could put a fence up around the country tomorrow and it would not do one jot to help prevent the onset of peak oil.

I think you're dead wrong on that, actually.  Our economic growth depends on immigration.  So if we ended immigration, we'd probably fall into a recession.  Maybe worse.  Which would delay peak oil (unless we're already past it, of course, in which case it would only slow the decline).

For me, it's a way to slow, maybe even stop, growth.  Or to prepare for a world where a shrinking economy is the norm.

I would caution against aligning with racists in order to possibly start a recession in the U.S. Further, it is unclear that starting a recession would actually accomplish anything with respect to peak oil. Yes, you may get some "demand destruction," but unless you change the underlying belief in growth all you are doing is buying a couple months.

I'm with Monbiot on that

There are many here who belive in the Hobbesian view of the world. It is based on a fundamental fallacy (progress) fueled by a lack of historical knowledge. There is also a crew here who believe it's all in their DNA. Of course this begs the question of whether that conclusion was DNA encoded as well ;-). But when it comes right down to it. There is no single model of human behavior. We can be nihilists, if we like. Or, we can work for something better. Only time will tell which is right. But one thing is guaranteed, the one who maintains for something better will have a more enjoyable interegnum.

Actually, the people doing the subdividing and inspection came to the conlusion that immigration is good.  It propels growth, in both population and the economy, and that's good...right?

Of course, if you think that growth is not good (or at least, not sustainable), you reach a different conclusion.

Actually, I've never seen a pro-growth type arguing for immigration. But I have seen all sorts of loony arguments against it, ways of hiding the underlying xenophopia.

Then start swimming.  I think it's inevitable.  Much as I like the idea of the global nation, a la Star Trek, I don't see it happening in the light of peak oil.  Not only that...I don't see the U.S. surviving as one nation.  The trend will be toward localization, politically as well as economically.

You have read enough of my posts to know that I am no proponent of a global nation. You also know that I am a big proponent of localization. I have repeatedly tried to get people to imagine how the collapse of the US federal government might come about. I see attempts to use the federal government to eliminate (or control) immigration as an effort to strengthen the moribund nation state. It is a non-issue being used to bolster an institution whose irrelevance will soon become obvious.

But not everyone who wants to limit immigration is a racist.
They may as well be since that is the effect of their proposals

Our economic growth depends on immigration.  So if we ended immigration, we'd probably fall into a recession.  Maybe worse.  Which would delay peak oil (unless we're already past it, of course, in which case it would only slow the decline).

It is true that some of the growth we have experienced is the result of immigration. It does not follow that immigration is the cause of that growth. Nor does it follow that limiting immigration would limit growth. Return to the basics, capitalism is the extraction of surplus value. One place to get that surplus value is cheap labor, but it does not require that labor to be within any particular border.

One could also argue that the bulk of growth in the US in recent years (excluding the housing bubble) has come in financial services, health care and IT, not areas that are intrinsically tied to immigration.

And if the argument is merely that these immigrants provide consumers, well corporations really don't care where the consumer is located. Your attempt to limit growth by cutting off immigration here, might just lead to increased emphasis on growth in, say, Asia. Capital doesn't care about borders (as long as it can control the state apparatus).

And while I don't have a problem with the general idea of invoking recession in the US, doing so through policy manipulations not actually aimed at changing the fundamental belief in growth, will have only limited impact. The corporations will adjust and off we go for some more growth. (yippee!) Now, if you could convince the congress to revoke the laws that allow for the formation of corporations, you might have me on your side.

I would caution against aligning with racists...  

I'm not going to wade in too deeply but this has been repeatedly the tar and feather of choice that the "pro-immigrants" have been using to shut the anti-immigrant side up and it is intellectually dishonest, and flagrantly wrong.

I and most anti-immigrant proponents don't care about the blacks, whites, hispanics, asians, europeans etc etc etc that are here as legal citizens, or legal immigrants.  In fact I WELCOME legal immigrants from all over the world to come here via our LEGAL process.

What I have a problem with are those people who have no qualms about breaking our laws to get here so they can profit.  We don't accept it when CEOs break the law to make profit.  We don't accept it when American citizens break the law to profit.  So why do foreigners get a pass, when they should be getting even more scrutiny than citizens?

Sorry but as much as the "pro-immigrant" side would like it to be, it is NOT an issue of race, it is an issue of Nationality, economic security, physical security, and ultimately a moral issue as illegal immigration is allowing US businesses to have cheap(almost slavelike) labor available to them.

Care to offer proof that I'm lying?  Or is the best you can do is hide behind some flippant remark?

You accept that overpopulation is a problem, however, your mind seems to unwilling to accept the conclusion that in order to "fix" this problem it will result in the deaths of many billions of people.  I've made that leap.  I understand full well that when a population of living organisms reaches that critical mass where by population growth looks like a line skyrocketing straight up, that a crash is usually to follow shortly after.  Who is going to compose that portion of the population that will vanish from that line of growth when the rug gets pulled?  Chances are the poor of this world will feel the brunt of it first.  

Its not racism, nationalism, or culturalism that I say the poor will bare the brunt of the dieoff.  Its simple logic based upon the facts, and examples of history before us and ultimately statistics(there are a lot more poor people than rich ones).  The poor always feel the brunt first and with the most effect.  Do I want these people to die?  No.  Do I expect them to?  Yes.  Do I consider myself above the fray?  Not at all.  If things really do take a nose dive, I fully expect me and my family to have slim to no chances.  Doesn't mean I won't try, but the odds are against me.

The reason I'm against Illegal immigration, and in favor of tight Legal Immigration standards/quotas is because I see the American lifeboat as the best shot me and my family has.  But that lifeboat will not support the world's population, and every additional person here, means a reduction in mine and my family's chances for survival.  As I said, this isn't a racist thing, this is purely a self-preservation thing.  

As for my choosing the American culture/nation, and the nationalism that goes along with it, its because I believe that even with all the warts, the American culture is the best culture in the world, and as such, my efforts are to try and preserve that to the best of my ability.  I'm sure someone in Zimbabwe or Sweden, or China thinks the same of their culture and I don't blame them one bit, but I do recognize that we are in competition, and as such they are the opponents to beat out.

I've played soccer(not exactly an "American" sport) with people from Spain, Mexico, Germany, Britain, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria as well as fellow Americans and many other countries.  With the exception of those players who were just jerks in general I was proud to call these people my teammates or my opponents in the matches I played.

I work in an office with a huge diversity of people, and in fact the 10 people closest to my cubicle are of Asian-Indian(5 people), El Salvadorian(sp?)(1 person), Chinese(1 person),European(3 people including myself) descent.  I get along with all of them and on weekly basis go out to lunch with one of Indians and talk about everything from good looking women, to music and movies.

Before I got married, I dated girls of Korean, Hispanic, and African descent along with several "white" girls who really when you did some digging were basically like most Americans and were mutts composed of a number of European nationalities, with mixes of Native American smattered in.

You can call BS all you want, and you can live in denial about being able to save the whole world, or you can loath the fact that I see the US as the best of what needs to be saved in humanity, but Immigration is going to be a topic during the first portion of this century(perhaps the key topic in the next election).  The question that will face Americans will be, is immigration(illegal and legal) a threat to our continued survival and well being in this country.  The evidence is showing that illegal immigration is a threat and Americans are taking notice.

As for racism in this debate, I know that the white supremicists(sp?) look at this topic as something they can get a niche in, but then, on the pro-immigrant side you guys are not so perfect either.  I believe La Raza (aka The Race) has been working hard to tear down our immigration system, and LULAC has been right alongside them.  

In fact LULAC lawyers managed to take away the ranch belonging to a white couple who actually assisted 2 illegals by giving them water and cookies as they travelled through the desert.  Their claim was that upon being discovered by the armed rancher, the illegals suffered emotional distress, nevermind that after the rancher saw the plight of these people he gave them food, water, and free passage on his land to continue their illegal journey.

Racism exists on BOTH sides of this issue, but thankfully it has been kept somewhat at bay, and hopefully that will continue so long as people like you, don't succeed in being intellectually dishonest.

I'm sure someone in Zimbabwe or Sweden,


or China thinks the same of their culture and I don't blame them one bit, but I do recognize that we are in competition, and as such they are the opponents to beat out.

Aww, plese dont be so brutal.

Here in Sweden the main prepartions for global warming and expensive oil are increasing efficiency and relevant investments. If things turn bad with peak oil and/or global warming we will surely like to continue to trade with you. We got goods that you need and we are better at producing it if we can work in peace withouth recieving a beating.

You might still do something crazy but whoever is in control in USA can probably have far more use of us intact then beaten. We are even trying to become independant of imported oil and thus leaving more for you. (While hosting one of EU:s largest refineries, the global market is mostly a free market and we welcome investors. )

I think most of our culture will survive ok, I hope you will be ok too although you will have to do something creative with the car part of it. If you are beaten it will probably be your own doing for doing too little too late.

I think the major reason for concidering the local culture to be the best life boat is that you have most of your social capital where you live. I would have a severe disadvantage if I moved to USA, Zimbabwe or China before a major crisis.

You misunderstand completely. And it is your intellectial arrogance that gets you in trouble. It is not your "facts" that I disagree with, it is the interpretation you then attempt to wrench out of them.

If you have read my posts in the past you would know that I am not in denial about the billions who will die. Indeed, I'd be willing to bet by the tone of your rant that you were in diapers when I was first coming to grips with the ugliness we are going to face.

Let me see if I can pinpoint for you why I called BS on you. First, you go to great lengths in your attempt to demonstrate that your not a racist - some of my best friends are x. You even make the observation that you know that the poor are going to bear the brunt of what is to come.

Next, you observe that despite being this really wonderfully open minded guy, that what you are really interested in is saving your own ass, so you're willing to accept limitations on where other people can move. (Does that sound ugly? Go back to you third paragraph and tell me that's not what it says.)

Then you indicate that you've chosen (yeah, right) the American culture because you think it has the best chance of ... of what? Again, of saving you and yours. Oh, wait, you did say because its the "best."  But, you know, you don't give any indication of what it is you like about American culture except that you think it gives you the best chance of survival. Did you ever stop to consider that the sort of limitations on immigration you are suggesting run directly counter to American culture? (But I digress.)

Then you go back to your efforts to demonstrate what an open-minded guy you are. But you admit that your real reasoning is the question "is immigration(illegal and legal) a threat to our continued survival and well being in this country." In short you put one group of people ahead of another group. On what do you base this decision? Where they happen to be born? That they are "Americans"? (And then I remember that you have conveniently described all those people who you are not like (the other), but who you are so open minded as to accept, even date, even though they are not like you.)

And then you throw out that the "evidence," which you conveniently do not reference, supports your position. Yet, if you actually did a little research on this, you'd find that their are studies that conclude every which way on this issue. I note also that you don't ever detail what this "threat" is. Is it loss of jobs? cultural change, violence? If you don't define it, am I left to think the worst of you?

You then proceed to make the classic error of thinking that there are only two sides to the issue. And, of course, since you are on one side and I oppose your position, you assume that I am on the other side (as you define it). The issue is not so simple.

I am no more "pro-immigration" in the way that you use it than I am "anti-immigration." Indeed, if you paid any attention to what I had written earlier in this thread you would know that one of my primary concerns is that the immigration issue will be used to strengthen the state apparatus. This is my biggest concern heading into the collapse that is coming, I fear the despotism of a government institution using us versus them mentality (and yes I fear that white supremacists will take control of that institution).

But here's what it really comes down to. Immigration into the US will dry up post peak. It is a non-issue when it comes to peak oil. There won't be jobs here to attract people. It will be much more difficult to get here even if you wanted to. Localization will happen everywhere, not just here. What you do by promoting an end to immigration before the worst effects of peak is to set up a social or cultural regime of exclusion. Whether this is aimed at nationality, skin color, sexual orientation, whatever, it is a decided negative. And I don't like what the next step of exclusion might be. Nor the next, etc..

I know that a lot of folks on this board think we are going to go into survivalist mode. And if you think that way, it will become a self fulfilling prophecy. Likewise, if we believe that interaction and helping one another is the way we will get through this, that, too, can be a self fulfilling prophecy. So, while you are hunkered down in your hidy hole waiting for something (I don't know what) to end so you can come out of it on the other side, I'm going to be out there working with people, trying to learn new ways of living, thinking and being right in the midst of the change.

There will be no "America" in fifty years time. You already know this. The question is, which parts of American culture will we use to help us build a positive future amongst all the pain we know to be coming. Will we choose the exclusionist America of "Jim Crow" and border fences. Or will we choose the inclusionist America of universal participation in governance and equal rights?

There is a very real possibility that the anti-immigration stance you seem to be proposing will destroy some of the best values of this country, the very reasons you think it is "best"?

So, I hope you see now, that what you thought was being "intellectually dishonest" was actually your own tilting at a straw man. I strongly urge you to reconsider your position, you may be doing more harm to your chances of survival than good.

Just for the record, I made a statistical observation, and didn't raise any of those points, so don't look at me.

The point I was trying to make, before it got swept up by the xenophobes is that rich people have fewer kids. It's an unassailable emperical fact. Whether they become rich by coming here, or by improving conditions in their own countries doesn't much matter for the world as a whole. The US is not some grand exception to this rule. if we had immigration laws like Europe, we'd have population growth like Europe as well. This is also a demographic fact, and I won't bother to argue about it.

From my viewpoint in Sweden I dont see the problem to be people moving into USA, people should get democracy, good living conditions, etc regardless of where they live. The problem is that USA is inefficient, you seem to have a wastefull culture, one where a lot of people even are proud of inefficiencies.

I can add that a fairly large numbers of people are moving into Sweden and we have problems with bad integration and not using peopels skills anyway near their capacity. Our problems seem to be an order of manitude smaller then Frances, and at least getting worse a lot slower. I guess that our progress in learning how to turn foreginers into Swedes will limit how much we can relive the preassure when peak oil gets serious, especially if its combined with global warming. In USA you seem to have a much easier time of making people into americans but it would be great if you somehow could integrate some Japanese virtues or old-farmer-culture virtues, etc.

"should get" were to short, should be able to create by working hard, cooperating and trading on a free market is better.
I assure you that it would be much easier to smuggle a gun into Mexico rather than, say, a kilo of coke into the states although both could be the same size, if the coke not smaller. At least at the border X-ings I've been to. Tijuana, and Laredo mostly.
The Mexican border patrol, in most respects, is a joke. However, I will admit they treat people on foot much differently than people in a vehicle. People on foot could damn near smuggle anything they wanted into Mexico.

While many seem to be chastening the USA so harshly I wonder why it is that so many still want to get in and none want to get out.

You have several times leveled criticisms at those who 'chasten the USA harshly.' I have been among this number. Rather than go on a complicated rant about the obvious shortcomings and misdeeds of my country, I will state this as succinctly as I can: I criticize my country because I love my country and I damn well expect better of it!

How was it said...

"My country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept righ, when wrong, to be set right."

While many seem to be chastening the USA so harshly I wonder why it is that so many still want to get in and none want to get out.

Tell me you are joking about the 'none' that want to get out part. I guess you were totally asleep after the last election and more than a few got off their duffs and departed for Canada. You also don't hang out a LATOC where the subject of anwhere but here comes up almost weekly. Jingo two step all you want, but there are plenty of us who think seriously about bailing on this disaster of a nation, and plenty already have...
More is excused in the name of anti-political correctness than was ever propogated by its proponents. Indeed, I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who promotes "political correctness." The term itself is the creation of far right pundits. What I typically see is people raging against political correctness when they've been called on their own racism, sexism or downright closedmindedness.
We have to seal our borders from all immigration.  We cannot solve the problems of the rest of the world by letting them all come here.  They have countries of their own they need to deal with.  We have enough problems ourselves that need to be worked on.  I understand that many problems are global, but our increasing population of immigrants is a local problem and  one we must get under control.  
This is so fricking naive as to bely comment.
I'd go further. One of the primary causes of massive pollution is globalization. The US has environmental standards (damn weak efficiency standards, but often excellent environmental standards, often beyond those of Europe, though no European would ever admit such a thing), but places like China do not. The fact that we don't tariff imports just means that the factory, rather than reducing pollution, just moves to China so it can produce twice the pollution for half the cost. We just cost ourselves jobs, and made the environment that much nastier.

I'm going to sound like microsoft here, but the answer isn't total trade liberalization, but rather embrace and extend. Tax things based on the environmental standards of the host country, that sort of thing. It would surely get the US in line, and China too. You want to improve the environment, that's how you do it, by major industrial blocks (the US and EU mostly) declaring outright that anything allowed into their borders must be produced in accordance with their own labor and environmental laws. The incentive to outsource would be mightily reduced, and the total global pollution with it.

It's good for everyone. The US retains more jobs. China doesn't get its country trashed and its people exploited. What jobs they do get pay a living wage and cause an ascendent middle class. The EU gets the same thing the US gets, and the rest of the world doesn't have to put up with the pollution. Even the EU and US would stablize each other. The next time the republicans take congress, it'll be harder for them to gut the environmental regulations if everyone knows it'll cost us jobs when the EU starts taxing our exports. Even if they do zap the regulations, businesses will still abide by them if they want to do business in Europe. The same would go for the EU, China, etc... Current globalization exploits the weakest link, but a reallignment of laws could easily make it a strongest link like scenario. This is how California controls the US car market, the US could do the same thing to the world.

This is one of the big reasons I believe we need to return to Protectionist Capialism.

It would allow us to have a non-violent prod by which we can force other nations to fall in line with our values whether it be environmental conerns or labor conditions.  It would also allow those nations who want to be more ambitious in improving environmental, or labor conditions to do so, and if set up properly we could even reward those nations with lower than average tariffs which could be used as a prod towards our local industries to improve their performance.

Globalism to me makes no sense at all unless one is trying to (as davidsmi seems to fancy the word) rape the world of its resources.

The US is not resource poor.  We've exhausted certain types of resources, but we have alternatives available and other types of resources we can build our industries on/use for export.  Especially if we can push towards more renewables and ween off the oil for fuel kick, and instead use oil/NG for more "permanent" things such as plastics,  building material and perhaps fertilizers(I know the organic farmers are cringing, but organic farming is not going to feed the population we currently have and rather than a crash due to lack of food, a slow decline due to reduced immigration/lower birthrates would be more beneficial at which point organic farming can be phased in to handle the lion's share of food production for a much smaller population).  

The uses of hydrocarbons outside of fuel would probably allow the US to live on its own current supply for a time to come, or perhaps at worst with import levels far more benign than the current ravenous levels by which we live by today.  Also if we were not converting it for fuel, which would require huge amounts of pollution, we could probably use coal to X processes to supply the needed hydrocarbons to fill the gap between our produced oil/NG amounts and the desired amount for materials production and still be able to keep a tight reign on pollution levels.  Coal to gas scares me when its being talked about for fueling vehicle fleets.  It doesn't scare me nearly as much when its being talked about as a way to create materials.

Anyhow, moving back to a protectionist model I think would benefit the US for more than hurt it, and I would wager so long as we were even handed about it, we could use that power to improve the nations we compete against as well.

Your analysis of capitalism is (to steal from AMPOD) "cute."

Capitalism, despite what you would like to think, is not a theory to be implemented with variations to choose from. It is an economic system that existed before any of your "variations" were dreamed of. It has an internal logic that had crushed most attempts to change it and eaten those it didn't crush.

Your belief that the US could go it alone is naive. You recognize oil as a problem, but try some other simple respources like bauxite. Worse, try running the US economy minus grain exports. How about minus international financial transactions. The US economy is a part of the capital economy, it extracts surplus value from less developed areas. Until you confront that aspect of the reality of capitalism, you haven't understood it.

I'm not suggesting we isolate ourselves.  We would trade with other countries, we would import and export our products.  But we would do so with nations whom we share certain levels quality, whether it would be environmental, or labor.  Right now we buy shoes made by slave labor(or little better), we buy products that pollute and destroy large swaths of habitats.  We do this because we have no way to penalize those countries who decide to pick those paths.

Also, the US used protectionist trade(in combination with other factors) to unseat the British at the turn of the last century.  The US used protectionist trade to grow into the economic behemoth it is today.  We've left that model, because corporations who wanted to exploit certain aspects of other countries resources (oil/metals/people) managed to get a stranglehold on our government.  It allowed these corporations a glut of short term growth, but eventually the piper will want his due, and when he does, this country, and probably most of the world will pay dearly.

Basically globalism has allowed corporations to get lazy on innovation by allowing the corporations to gain access to resources which don't belong to us.  And worse we feel so entitled to those resources we are willing to invade countries over them.  If we had never stepped down the globalist path, how much innovation would've occured in alternatives during that time?  If corporations could no longer count on cheap oil from the ME, would they invest in wind/solar/hydro/tidal/nuclear/ and scary as it is coal.  All of which would be us living within our OWN means...  living off resources BELONGING to us, not some other peoples.

Belive, my friend, believe.

Exactly correct davidsmi, and I can think of no time in history that draconian border controls have actually worked!  Think of the "Iron curtain" days.  The guards were trained to shoot on sight, so the penalty for illegal border crossing could be death....and people still crossed.  If people want to move in large numbers and have enough will, they will.

I love the "imagine if..." philosphy of energy consumption....imagine if the United States had only 300 people, what our energy consumption would be reduced to!!

Imagine this...if we had an energy consumption per person about equal to the Europeans (who do not, by the way, live in a "stone age"), it would have the same effect as cutting the U.S. population in half....it's the waste that is the issue.  More troubling to me is the recent DOE Reports indicating that they see cheap energy from fossil fuel as available right out through 2030, and have thus cut the legs out from under any real attempt to finance alternatives and advanced technology.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

More troubling to me is the recent DOE Reports indicating that they see cheap energy from fossil fuel as available right out through 2030

Roger, this troubles me too. Sounds like the DOE is infiltrated (owned?) by the fossil fuel companies. Maybe the Dems can defang the beast?

On a similar note, how much public money is going to FF related university research? (eg oil extraction, CTL, improved ICE engines etc). Imagine if we canceled all FF research and switched it to renewables. Kind of putting a carbon tax on academia :) I know, I'm dreaming...

[FF=fossil fuel, CTL=coal-to-liquids, ICE= internal combustion engine]

If people want to move in large numbers and have enough will, they will.

Then remove their desire to come here illegally.  I'm not talking about a fence.  I'm not talking about being shot on site.

I'm talking about, when they get arrested for being here illegally, they are sentenced not to deportation, but to hardlabor camps for 2 years, given no compensation, and then deported back to their country of origin.  I'm talking about throwing employers in jail for 2 years per illegal they knowingly hire. I'm talking about denying medical service to illegals and jailing doctors who try to subvert that law.  I'm talking about revoking the licenses to renters who rent to illegals knowingly.  I'm talking about removing the "born here = instant citizen" clause that currently allows illegal immigrant mothers to use their kids as a way in.  I'm talking about creating so many disincentives for coming here illegally that you would not want to risk it.

The Iron Curtain failed because people were leaving a bad situation and basically being welcomed into a good one.  They had a single short term risk(at least risk with any teeth) to surmount.

What needs to be done to curb illegal immigration is to make the situation here so bad if you are here illegally, that staying put in your current country, or coming here by legal channels will be the more attractive thing to do.  Creating a fence and manning it with guards is too resource intensive and has a single point of failure.  They get by the fence, and they are essentially given a good life (by comparison to home).  

By creating the above disincentives they will have to live every day that they are here in fear because there are redundant points of failure.  Not to mention, to the business owners who would hire illegals, they would now have to weigh the risk of years of prison time against the profits of cheap labor.  Most business owners can do the math.

And granted maybe we need 10mil, 20 mil, 30 mil foreign workers to keep this country operating.  If that's the case then FIX THE LAW to allow for a legal process by which immgrants can come here and work those jobs(and I'm not talking about an instant guest worker/amnesty program either).  But ignoring the law is 1) wrong, and 2) eventually suicide when the lifeboat syndrome begins to happen in earnest.  If we get to that point, we really will have to man the borders with machine guns and shoot any attemping crossers.

You are quite right, it IS all about population.

And ultimately, all you can do is try to inform friends and select potential winning solutions for your family.

Trouble is:

What Draconian Measures?
Which side of the measures will you be on?

Gaia may well just decide help us out anyway so:

Kindercide, gerontocide, genocide or creedocide may not be in our hands anyway.

In this respect, we may find that Gaia will turn out to be the ultimate equal opportunity employer.

We are too late by 50 years and 3 billion souls for a rational solution. This passion play will play itself out  The world will move on and in 200 million years time, the President of the Antoid people will declare war against the evil cockroachoid people - A war destined to last a generation and declare that they hate us for our freedoms.

If we had a population of 100 million people in the USA instead of 300 million, we would not have any problems with fuel, pollution, roads, housing etc....

You know, I'm not so sure about that.  I agree with you that population is the problem...but I'm not sure I agree that reducing the population would allow the happy motoring lifestyle to continue.

The U.S. population was 100 million about a hundred years ago...and already, there were signs of trouble.  Nearly all the arable land had already been claimed under the Homestead Act.  Tensions over resources led to range and water wars.

So is the solution to reduce the population even further?  There's a limit to how far you can go with that strategy before it impacts your lifestyle.  Our comfortable middle-class standard of living is maintained by a lot of poor people.  Somebody's got to do the dirty work.  Not to mention the sheer complexity of our technology requires a certain degree of specialization, and hence a certain population size.  

We're about to find out...

Washington Post: Japan Shrinks

TOKYO -- Japan has embarked on a path no developed nation has ever followed -- of sustained and inexorable population decline.

Japan won't be alone, of course. Italy, Russia, South Korea and many others also will get smaller. The United States is the exception among advanced nations, and not only thanks to immigration; its overall birth rate is higher, too.

But Japan, which shrank by about 21,000 last year, is in the forefront, and so everyone else will be watching. Does population decline inevitably sap vitality and doom a country to genteel poverty? Or is there some way out?

Very very uncomfortable feeling to know that we've overshot this much...it will take lots of conservation and lots more population control, neither of which we have the stomach for.
The basic resource of economy is not oil or other fossil materials. It is working hours. The more working hours a society has at hand the more it could achieve. It's like a pyramid with constant angles, the more the base-the more the height.  If the world were to consist of countries the size of Finland there would never be such things as man in space.
That's why the US is so fearful of China.
The main US problem is not overpopulation but the established way of life. The transition to the electrified mass transit as advertised by Alanfrombigeasy could significantly reduce the oil burden.
Ahhh, Robert.

There is plenty of information on the internets about the cellulostic ethanols.

Take for instance the ability to produce biodiesel from algae - one acre of which has the potential to yield up to 100 times the amount of fat yielded from a similar acre of soybeans or canola. High yielding technology has also been developed for ethanol production, which can occur from almost any organic substance through a process known as cellulostic ethanol production. To give England's climb toward fossil fuel independence to the likes of L. Ron Hubbard is like charging the Papacy with designing the next Internet. Hard science and applied technology has already shown that we can renewably generate the energy and fuels necessary for a modern lifestyle, so why is Monibriot dragging the issue into the realm of fiction?
How dare you put yourself forward as an expert! Ahem!  

Robert, thank you for that article, but I'm a little confused about the talk of corn.  It seems to me that one advantage of a celulositic approach is that the existing corn stalks and other matter that is a byproduct of the corn used to feed cattle and people could be re-used in a celulostic ethanol plant.  i.e.:  grow the corn normally need for feed but then use the stalks and husks and other plant parts to make ethanol.  Thus you could get more use out of existing land/water/fertilizer.
In a perfect world, cellulosic ethanol will be produced as part of a closed-loop or cogen biofuel production facility where the grain and the agicultural residues are both utilized in different, yet, complimentary production paths.
Robert, thank you for that article, but I'm a little confused about the talk of corn.

Yeah, I am going to edit that portion. The purpose was merely to show the hit in conversion when one is converting cellulose instead of corn starch.

 A slowdown has begun in global demand. High oil prices and slowdown in growth rates have brought about a decline in demand. This year, the demand of both Europe and the United States won't increase significantly. The increase in demand in China, which was at 900,000 barrels a day in 2004, will recede to 500,000 this year.

Welcome to the religion of growth, where "decline in demand" means the rate at which demand is increasing has decreased.

Stupid analogy: driving toward a cliff at 100 km/h, still accelerating but not as hard as we just were -> no problem!

Does The Oil Drum threaten CERA's market share?


Leanan...I saw this at EB before you posted it and started thinking.  TOD is picking up foot soldiers in the "PO Info War" that CERA started (Kunstler was the first).  I'm sorry if TOD members don't want to see it this way, but it is what I see manifesting.

This is an information war against CERA and TOD.  Some don't like the fact that Kunstler made an endorsement to TOD concerning the CERA report, but in war, you sometimes make alliances with those that make you somewhat uncomfortable in order to have more punch in your position.

I challenge and encourage other truth-minded newsgroups, blogs, and individuals to promote the expert and transparent information paraded openly here at TOD.  The professionals here at TOD do all the hard statistical work and then lay themselves out to raw and sometimes heated debates.  CERA gets a free ride from the larger press groups and then closes the door and scrutiny.  

It is time for those that believe this practice of unrestricted, free, public promotion of one side of such an important debate, to speak up, speak loudly, and speak together about the abuses coming from CERA.

"closes the door and scrutiny" change to "closes the door on scrutiny".
The scary thing about information wars is that the correct information doesn't necessarily win.
IMO the correct information does win out when the users of the information require that any presentation of such information meet an established standard for evidence. To improve the reliability of information, standards and paradigms are developed that evolve over time. To avoid being misled, users of information have to be aware of pitfalls or at least educated in how to use the standards.

Developed over the centuries, science has general paradigms for how new scientific information is added to the science knowledge base, including how information presentations are structured for the primary scientific literature, how these are scrutinized prior to publication and how conflicting hypotheses are established and evaluated.

Scientific Method
History of Science

Driven by the recognition of the consequences of bad information and the need to eliminate the bad, the information paradigm in medicine is evolving toward evidence-based medicine away from the dogma expert-based medicine. The new paradigm essentially asks not only what is the evidence but how strong is that evidence. As this paradigm evolved, publications appeared that were guides to help doctors evaluate papers on their strength of evidence. EBM is essentially adopting the paradigm for scientific information to the needs of medicine.

Some examples from the medical community:
How to read a paper
CEBM - Centre for Evidence-based Medicine
Centre for Health Evidence
The Cochrane Collaboration

IMO, to avoid the misleading and to refute the erroneous, this community needs to establish a paradigm for strong information as well. The basic paradigm for scientific information is likely the best place to start, changing it to meet this community's specific needs much like the medical community has done. Without a sound information paradigm that establishes a level playing field, the arguments are endless. The consequences of bad information in this arena are huge.

I fear David Roberts of Gristmill is correct.  He credits TOD will getting the facts right:

Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) recently released a report called Why the "Peak Oil" Theory Falls Down -- Myths, Legends and the Future of Oil Resources. It's getting a lot of attention, and has produced much consternation in the peakoilosphere.

The definitive response, as usual, is on The Oil Drum.

But also points out that it's not facts that matter.

Now, it is the nature of engineers, data nerds, lefty wonks, and other too-smart-for-their-own-good types to have a somewhat naive view of politics. They tend to think that the main determinant of political action is the established empirical facts. Establish the facts; policy ensues. That's why winning the empirical argument is so overwhelmingly important for them.

Of course, it's not so. The range of possibilities in the political world -- the real world, not the world of policy wonkery -- is, at least most of the time, much narrower than the range of possible oil production scenarios. And political action cannot be controlled with anything like the nuance one finds in different peak oil perspectives. It can just barely be controlled at all. It moves to its own mysterious rhythms, as responsive to imagery, emotion, and -- crucially -- chance circumstance as to "the facts."

TOD: take the red pill. It's good for you and if you don't it will be forced on you anyway. Here are the reasons why (list of ~6.02e23 excellent reasons follow)

CERA, ARAMCO, etc: take the blue pill. You know you want to.

Guess who wins?

That is the battle that has been waged for several years now.  There are standard scientific methods that have worked well for the scientific community.  Where things get off kilter is when political or corporate entities misrepresent or ignore scientific methods.

The "guts" of Peak Oil and Global Warming analyses are scientific in nature.  It is the misuse of this scientific analyses that distorts and mutates the original intent of the analyses.

Until the scientific community learns to get a backbone and fight for the correct interpretation of their own data, this type of highjacking will continue.
I don't think it's a matter of "getting a backbone."  I think it's a matter of the engineering and scientific mind generally not "getting" public relations.  Face it - most of us became engineers or scientists because we like working with things or ideas more than with people. But it's the "people skills" that matter in politics.
hey, we're trying damn it.  :)
This is not meant to bash the scientific community.  It is to light the fire to those that believe science is trying to speak the truth and make things better by being prepared.
Also, PG...TOD can't do it alone.  I know you are trying...and doing amazing work.  I just want more cheerleaders.
Yes, I know we're trying.  But even those attempts, if you'll forgive my bluntness, only point out how very ill-suited we are to the PR/political skills world.
I forgive your bluntness.  :)  Well, I think I do.

It's really hard without resources, Leanan.  Would I love to have someone whose primary job it is to craft and send well-articulated email blasts and press releases to the media?  Yes.

Dave made a similar point in an email to me earlier today.  We need to have quicker response time with high quality (Dave killed himself to get that post done THAT quickly in the normal amount of TOD quality) and we need broader reach outside of our footprint through PR, etc.  

Bart made a similar point in his response to JHK here (BA's response is at the bottom).  We can make a difference, but it is a slow slow slog.  Events have to raise salience (like the hurricanes did for us), and then you have to seize on that increased salience.

Also, I think it's typical that the sciences have this problem, especially in new and complex areas of research.  You need a lot of credibility to be cited quickly in the media and you need a chewable message.  "Everything is ok" is a lot more chewable than "there are problems," every time.  

We're getting there with TOD's credibility, but CERA is Harvard affiliated, and therefore perceived to be terribly credible out of the box.

However, I think we have all learned that what they are is just lazy.

A lot of highly-skilled, highly-educated people donate their talents to TOD and other sites, because they think it's important.  But not many of them are advertising and public relations sorts, it would seem.  Perhaps not many of those types find their way here.

Maybe what we need are translators..."popularizers."  A Carl Sagan for peak oil.  

I do like what Gail the Actuary is doing, though her target audience is fellow insurance professionals, not the general public.  Very slick and professional-looking.

I've been stewing a plot line for a post-peak oil sci-fi flick for the past few weeks. Something in an energy-poor universe vs the usual unlimited energy universe.

I do have some luck talking to non-technical folks. While some people really do feel entitled to cheap energy, for most people energy doesn't enter their minds at all. Just bringing it up gets people thinking. Lately I've been trying to convert a few designer types of the green variety (ie, use even more energy for technical solutions to ecological problems while maintaining growth in consumption).

I think places like this will be used as references for authors and journalists looking for a big scoop who in turn will bring it to the masses.

Great comments by PG, Leanan, Dragonfly41, etc.

TOD performs an invaluable service, but it can't do everything. Different skills are needed -- different niches in the ecosystem.

One good thing about Peak Oil, it makes us stretch our conceptions of our capabilities. Liberal arts majors become familiar with depletion rates. Engineers start writing for the public. Shy people make speeches at conferences and government meetings.  

If you don't mind, I'd like to repost my comments about public relations from http://energybulletin.net/22633.html:

Plenty is being done [to publicize peak oil] and much more could be.

First, the Web enables the network of Peak Oil writers and researchers to respond quickly and fully to the claims of the CERA report.

Second, Peak Oil proponents can also use the tools of public relations. For example, the press offices of Reps. Bartlett and Udall are to be congratulated for their press release distributed immediately after the one from CERA.

Third, events like the CERA report in fact represent a tremendous opportunity for publicizing peak oil. Peak oil got more publicity last week than it had in many months. True, many of the items that appeared in the press had headlines like "Peak oil theory is bogus." However, public relations has a logic of its own, which is misunderstood by people from an academic or engineering background: "Any publicity is good publicity." Also, "You can turn any story to your advantage."

The peak oil community desperately needs to become more sophisticated about public relations. Anger and righteous indignation about the CERA report are fine, but they don't lead anywhere. Better to learn the tools that make CERA and the oil industry so effective at PR.

Public relations is the craft of dealing with the media, so as to advance the interests of your organization. It involves:

    * Understanding how reporters and the media work (e.g., timeliness, news hooks, journalistic style).
    * Cultivating contacts in the media and developing relationships.
    * Providing people in the media with information to help them do their job.
    * Determining what messages one wants to convey and planning strategies to deliver them.

Public relations is a good path for communicators: people with a gift for words or with a journalistic background. Anybody involved with an effort like peak oil should learn the basics.

Public relations - the next step for the peak oil community.

Bart (Energy Bulletin)
This engineer is trying to learn how to explain some of these esoteric concepts to the public.  I'm working on that this evening.

Part of the problem is that the public is naïve (and probably has a lousy science education) and has no idea why some things work and others don't.  Explaining what won't work, and why, is as important as explaining what can.

I know you mean well, but that portion of the public (98%) that hasn't learned science is actually not interested in learning science and you can't "make them" do it.

You efforts are better spent in learning the dark arts of "persuasion" rather than the art of truth telling. Galileo tried to tell the truth and look where it got him. Remember Walter Mondale? He told the truth also. Remember Jimmy Carter? Nuff said.

If I was willing to be insincere, maybe I could get people to vote for me because I'd give them Pie In The Sky... but even if I'd be out of office before the failure became obvious, I wouldn't be able to live with myself.

Then there's the little fact that nonsense like the Religious Right trying to get their creation myths into biology classes is getting scientists and engineers to mobilize against them.  The purview of science and engineering isn't limited to the life sciences, of course; they've got something to say about anything energy-related too.  The voters might be tempted to support the pol with the best story, but if a whole lot of experts tell the public that the story is a lot of hooey and that pol would have them pay a lot of money for nothing, the truth has at least a fighting chance.

EP --Don't get me wrong. I'm all for "fighting the good fight", IOW fighting for truth and for being sincere, unhipocritical, etc.-- just as long as you understand the odds are aginst you and that "they", the candy-is-dandy masses will probably not heed your call. The mainstream herd does not respond to "geek" noises from the scientific fringe. They only see, hear and believe MSM. :-)
Correct, I understand that.  That's why we need to enlist the likes of Kunstler,  et. al. to do a little PR work.

It's high time others pitched in if they think TOD's work is valid.

Quit sitting on the fence and sidelines.

Correct, I understand that.  That's why we need to enlist the likes of Kunstler,  et. al. to do a little PR work.

Exactly.  Why try to teach pigs to sing, when we're competing with professional opera singers, and there are others who already have the skills and who are willing to do the singing for us?

Most of my comments today are for that audience.  TOD serves a purpose of debating the study of Peak Oil.  

If there are other groups out there that think the CERA monoply on this analysis in the public forum is unwarranted, they should take actions to counter it by becoming a megaphone for TOD.

uh, because singing pigs are really cool?
We're talking about something more akin to religious conversion and PR won't result in that happening.  Global heating offers a good example:  A large percentage of people accept that GH is happening but their expectation is that someone else will solve the problem.  They aren't out there actually changing the way they live/use energy.

IMO nothing is going to change, regardless of how much PR there is, until they can't afford or obtain the energy they want/need.

That is your choice to believe nothing will change.

I am perhaps naive and think there's some worth in at least trying to make things better.

It may be more a matter of where to focus your energies. I try to point this out in a humorous manner whenever we have some one come along with the "what we should do" line followed by a list of policy suggestions. We don't control the policy making apparatus and never will. So those sorts of statements, while well intended, are really a waste of time.

To my mind, I think we should be concentrating on our own life choices, energy consumption, environmental impact, etc., trying to influence our friends and family.

The top down stuff isn't going to work because you are literally fighting against the way our society is organized. All attempts to change that set up from inside will result only in "reform." And that's not enough.

I didn't say nothing will change.  I said change won't come via PR.  Further, let's be realistic and admit that the changes necessary aren't trival either personally or societally.  This is why I mentioned religious conversion as an analogy.  

In my case, I started on this alternative trip back in 1970 and I did it not to be good to the earth but rather because I have no trust in society.  I knew what happened to my folks and other family members during the depression and I swore I would never happen to me (at least so far as I can operate outside "the system").

Here's a real life example of how I think things will play out:  Some city people have a cabin on land that ajoins mine.  The exterior sheeting was never maintained properly and, for the past several years, acorn woodpeckers have made holes in it to story acorns.  I've told them they need to replace it; they can see it needs replacing, yet, they say they can't afford it.  But, they do have money to take long trips and buy a more expensive car, etc.  I think this is exactly how society is going to respond.

I think that trying to out-PR the likes of CERA would not be easy. PR takes money.

Any propaganda campaign would need to be asymmetrical.

Peak will be back on the menu when prices go up again.

CERA will hang itself with false forecasts and become regarded as fakers

Won't Peak Oil simply become rather obvious after a while?

As we ride along the bell curve, gas goes to $7 or so a gallon, even the dumbest among us know that tankers are being sold for scrap because there's less to tank, etc.?

Doesn't that make TOD useful not to prove/disprove Peak Oil, since it's a given, but to try to educate people about it, and spread the word about it, so people know that crucial few years ahead of when they'd learn of it otherwise?

Trouble is: It wont become obvious until it is well passed obvious.

So who for a spokesperson?


Where is Don Sailorman these days?

I suspect Sailorman has posted a few times under a new ID, but I'll let him say so if he wishes.

And no, PO will never be "obvious".  There will always be some, and at first many, that will bring up alternative explanations for why oil is expensive ("gouging") or why "production" is down ("enviromentalists", "national oil companies", "lack of investment", etc).  Each proposed explanation will have somebody's preferred action attached: "bring democracy to the middle east (by force)", "open ANWR for drilling", etc.

Yes, and just as every time UKCS production falls, it is always for exceptional, technical reasons.

Just as I am sure that the real reason for Mexico tanking will be due to misinvestment and not letting the Independents in to explore :-S

I'm in agreement with Todd and VTpeakman. When prices go up, people wake up. When prices go down, they go back to sleep. Like the bumpersticker says: "have a blast while it lasts."

My theory is that our society knows that resources are finite and that the party won't last forever. But we (as a society) put ourselves into denial in order to function.

For example; Jay Hanson decided that the way to go was to make a lot of money and drop out on the island of Hawai'i. Alpha Male apparently has similar intentions. A lot of people got the same idea during the last energy crisis of the '70s. Make money, and when the time comes you cash out. But you can keep racking it in as long as it lasts, and it might last a long time. It might last longer than my life, in which case I'm covered either way.

The other manner of acknowledgement is performed by the lower economic strata of society that has no hope of getting rich, except via sweepstakes or Las Vegas. They find their salvation through faith, and waiting for the rapture. When the whole ponzi scheme (the global economy) falls apart, they've convinced themselves that the rich assholes who've bought entry into gated communities will be left behind to a whole suite of tribulations, while they themselves get a ticket straight to heaven, while the second coming demolishes the global economy and all who rely on it.

I'm convinced that one of the primary motivators of the Christian Right is the desire for the present winners to be left behind, while the economic losers become the winners of the future. "Those who are last shall be first, and those who are first shall be last." (three decades ago, when I was in that camp, that was one of my own motivations....)

The problem is the effect of self fulfilling prophecies.

(please don't let this provoke a religious argument! That is NOT my intention here! My point is that deep down we all know the party can't last. Denial means that at some level you know what you are denying...)

"Alpha Male apparently has similar intentions"

Not exactly.

That's the thing to do IF you can swing it. Money is and will continue to be for some time the most important thing that determines how this plays out for you.

Unfortunately, I am not anywhere close to being able to buy my way out of this. I make about what a 3rd year attorney at a small firm (under 10 attorneys) would make. Decent but I'm in no position to do what Jay is doing.

Unless that rich woman comes along . . .

No, I have not posted under a different name.
I am about to return to posting comments on TOD. For the past couple of months I've been watching, reading, and learning.
Don...Don...THE DON...is back...we are saved (or at least able to chuckle a bit more).

Did you sail to far off lands?  Do tell us some stories.

[I'm not being sarcastic.  We've missed you.]

Your return will be most appreciated, sir. Whether I've agreed or disagreed with past positions of yours, you've always been enjoyable to read. Do return if you are able.
It won't be me. I haven't had any television requests in a while but when I did get em I'd forward the people to here, Heinberg, etc. I have no desire for any of my fellow peasents to recognize my face the day they realize they're going to be living inside their SUVs. Even doign the oil crash film might not have been wise. But I dont' think it will be seen by enough people that I have anything to worry about
"oil crash film"

Speaking of which... do you have any idea when the g.d. thing is going to be released?

what are they waiting for, the end of the world?

They've already missed a chance at members of a captive audience in my writing class this semester.

TOD and all other oil peak publications will always be ignored by most people because they offer nothing but the truth.  Since there is no possible solution to the problems that will be caused by peak oil, there is nothing positive to say, so...
No possible solution?  Nothing positive to say?

Speak for yourself, sir.

Speaking of asymmetry, the smarty-pants over at CERA weren't swift enough to register the domain name http://www.CERADebunked.com but a certain professional prophet of doom sure was. ;) word on the street is the dozen or so high quality CERA debunking pieces that have been written (Dave Cohen, Jim Puplava) will be uploaded to it over the next couple of weeks. ;)
Right On!!!
Awesome site.
Too bad I can't read it with my default settings. The background is forced to be white because it is an image, but the text is my default color, white. Please rethink using the white image as a background.
the ceraDebunked points to latoc right now. in a few weeks after all the pieces have circulated I'm going to put up a simple black text on white background site with the the debunking pieces linked up.

as far as TOD (or the PO sphere in general) versus CERA, TOD will always win the online battle. So the 10,000-to-25,000 people who check in on the PO blogs on something resembling a regular basis will nine times out of ten see that TOD, ASPO, Kunstler, etc. kick Yergin's ass everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

But that's not what CERA bats two eyelashes about. The 20,000 or so people in the PO sphere audience mean nothing to them, they are aiming to influence the 200 million watching television.

In the realm of television, which is what shapes public opinion and influences the markets, CERA will always win hands down and not because they have the better argument or the more articulate presenters. This ain't debate class here. It's companies like NBC who are owned by energy giant and weapons maker General Electric who is making money hand over fist as a result of the war for oil (aka "war on terror"). These media and energy companies are connected to groups like CERA in some very direct ways. And of course they control much more of the money that dictates what gets on the ballots and into the halls of congress then we do.

The 20,000 or so people in the PO sphere audience mean nothing to them, they are aiming to influence the 200 million watching television.

Yes, the future of tv is the internet!  YouTube is the way.  We could have our own tv news service which takes on the conventional spin on the news. about energy issues.

Yeah, I agree.  That's the reason I don't read LATOC.  It refuses to display correctly on my computers.  It's utterly unreadable, with images over the text and text overlayed over other text.  
I recently found a semi-solution to this.
In firefox, select view -> Page Style -> No Style.
It turns off the CSS for the page.
Are you aware that the first people you have to convince are the international drug and weapons cartels? (I'm very serious here.) They control more liquid capital then anybody, probably more than even the oil industry but is all off-the-books which makes it faster and gives it a lower cost of capital.

These cartels decide to a large extent who gets elected, who doesn't, etc. Why? because through highly sophisticated money laundering schemes they channel money into Wall Street, into media outlets, into elections, etc. . . . So if a politician runs on a platform they don't like, all of a sudden he or she aint' getting as much money as somebody else.

I think if you knew what you were up against you wouldn't be trying to make things better.

Haaaa...OK Mr. Ruppert.  Let's just say, I'm crazy enough to think millions of pissed off people could throw a monkey wrench in their designs.
not crazy, more like naive or silly.
And that is a crime where?  I man can dream, especially in blogland.
OK, my kids call me silly.  Not sure I like it coming from you.
okay then, it's kind of "cute".
I don't know if anybody linked to this when it first came out, but according to Berliner Zeitung (in German), 'Ndrangheta (the Calabrian Mafia) has been busy investing in energy companies in Germany.

Somebody seems to be convinced of PO, but unfortunately they may not be the ones we would like to convince.

Hi AMPOD/Matt,

 I'm glad you brought up weapons and drugs - (well, they do seem important). I would say, though, that there's a whole lot "on the books". And, also people who know (or believe they know) and yet are still trying to make things better. (Maybe they haven't thought about oil yet?...of course, that's where we come in...?)  

Some examples here:  
Federation of American Scientists
http://fas.org/asmp/library/articles/resist.html.  Somewhere I have a classic video release of theirs called "Welfare for Weapons Dealers".

Something by William Hartung and Co.:  
"Tangled Web 2005: A Profile of the Missile Defense and Space Weapons Lobbies by William D. Hartung with Frida Berrigan, Michelle Ciarrocca, and Jonathan Wingo..."

The folks at IDDS are diligent:  
"...a nonprofit center where we study global military policies, arms holdings, production and trade, arms control and peace-building efforts; and run educational programs on current and alternative policies." (emphasis added).

Under "Arms Holding and Forces":

"Welcome to the IDDS World Arms Database open site. The IDDS Database is the only regularly updated reference source that shows worldwide arms holdings, production, and trade dynamically, putting today's weapons and forces in the context of past trends and likely future developments. It is also the only source that fully integrates and reconciles information on worldwide production, trade, acquisition, and holdings by weapon type. For the systems covered, the IDDS World Arms Database brings together in concise form more quantitative and qualitative data than any other source."

And http://www.space4peace.org/. Bruce Gagnon does travel a lot - (using energy there) - though he lives on a shoestring personally. I was impressed.  

Another effort: http://www.amnestyusa.org/arms_trade/controlarms.html

wow you really don't get it.

here's a good intro primer on these matters, "narco dollars for dummies" retitled "narco dollars for beginners" after the "for dummies" people threatened to sue:


Consider the implications of the above articles and the following quote when considering how public policy might be influenced in a positive manner:

"The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It's possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government."

- William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995

Hi AMPOD/Matt,

 Thanks for the Solari reference.  I read it, (based on your recommendation), though I knew about some parts of this issue.
(Examples:  http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/13/1457240; http://www.dailylobo.com/media/paper344/sections/20030410Culture.html, etc.) (Plus many good articles on the border situation.)

 It seems like C. A. Fitts (too) is attempting some positive change, despite her hair-raising experience.  Specifically, via what she describes as a "...solari in your neighborhood".  She talks about "...a mutual fund that could channnel capital to the profitable small businesses in your neighborhood." ("Narco-Dollars for Dummies, Part 13)

I'm wondering if this is anything you have had experience with or perhaps plan to undertake?  I'd be interested in hearing more specifics.  

And one more kinda silly thing...just between you and me, AMPOD, I think the whole CERA report thing was released because we've poked some light-hearted fun at Yergin.  You know...Yergin-off, double Yergin, Yergin Day.

He's just pissed and was looking for payback.

We have to come up with something far nastier and more juvenile then "Yergin Day." I'll put my thinking cap on. . .
Do your Denial Dance the Yergin Way --come on everybody: undulate, undulate ...

(what musical score goes with this?)

No, what this community needs is a platform as well-funded and healed as Fox News, CNN, NBC, TimeWarner

All that other stuff you wrote about is meaningless in terms of public awareness. The public gets its info from television. And it responds most to televised messages that are short, reactionary, and basically say "everything is going to be okay if we just screw/nail scapegoat X."

No matter how well funded the news channel is, it won't 'reach' the viewers unless it has something positive to say.  Since the problems caused by peak oil are intractable [at least in the 'first world'], there is nothing positiveto say, so...
Well that's my point. What can you sell with this info? Not SUVs, not Mcmansions, not the pricey stuff. Not even hybrid cars really since this goes so far beyond that.

Other than alt-energy gear, sun ovens, books, and $1,000 rolls of toilet paper that only have 16 sheets in them, there really ain't that much money to be made from telling people, "okay everybody time to kiss your hopes and dreams goodbye" as 99% of american hopes and dreams are predicated on business as usual which means more and more petroleum.

Re: $1000 roll of toilet paper

What if you had robert redford and bono doing a show about the clusterfuck of problems coming this way! I am sure it would be covered as "news".  YouTube independent media is the future. bypass the "controlled media". Have the Colbert Report or john stewart cover the oil drum.
Some don't like the fact that Kunstler made an endorsement to TOD concerning the CERA report...

Well... I was glad that Kunstler called it as he saw it. Where was the endorsement??? I read his words as a statement of fact.

The mainstream media last week swallowed CERA's PR hook, line, and sinker, without a single reflective burp... The only cogent analysis of the CERA report took place on the Internet, and for the most part on a single site: TheOilDrum.com, which is the best-informed forum of debate on these issues operating in the United States.

I agree...but people need to state the facts loudly and frequently.  The more people that push the facts and not the spin, the better.  Merely stating the facts won't hack it any longer.  TOD needs to get the facts to a wider audience.  TOD has done the work.  Now it is other's responsibilities to "sell" the facts.
excuse my naivete, but who are the "some" who "don't like the fact..."?   just curious.  
I forget and will have to go back to my comments on Monday, but there were some people suggesting TOD should not be happy with Kunstler's endorsement because of his views.

It's in the Monday Drumbeat somewhere.

Sorry, Sunday's Drumbeat.
Minor point: I wish Jim would get his facts right:

our domestic production of regular crude has fallen from around 10 million-barrels-a-day in 1970 to under 5 m/b/d now

Actually it's averaged 5.15 mbpd every day this year...

Excuse me but TOD is one of a handful of forums where 80% of the posts reflects on the PEAK that happened last year.  Not 2005.  Just always "last year".  The others have been doing this for six years.  TOD is working on it.  Until the realists can overcome the peakists that have hijacked the discussions, the few shining stars are lost in the noise...

MSM was fooled by the Peakists in the last year and gave them their 15 minutes of fame.  That episode will be long remembered.  Just like the Global Warming fraternity and their near term predictions of the ocean lapping the bottom three floors of NYC towers.

MSM has moved on to TomKat.

And the misrepresentations just keep on coming!
By the end of the year, the data will prove conclusively that the peak was not in December of 2005.

If anything, those who are misrepresenting the facts have had a hay-day all year.

Earlier this month, CERA came near to reconciling its optimistic long term production claims by increasing its URR to 4.818-Tb.  Today we have word that another of our Modelers has seen the error of their ways and has increased their URR estimate from 2.4-Tb to 4.003-Tb to justify their extraction claim ... the fourth member of the "4-Tb Club"!

A new version of the TrendLines Peak Oil Depletion Scenerios with three major Model updates will be released in early December.

For the Doomers out there:

I just finished one hell of a book...

Cormack McCarthy's - The Road.

It's the story of a father and son struggling to survive in a post apocalyptic world.  Very heavy reading.  Brilliant though in it's vision.

For everyone who thinks life will be more idyllic after the crash - this one is for you.


That book has been recommended repeatedly here.  

For everyone who thinks life will be more idyllic after the crash - this one is for you.

I don't think many here think that.

Sorry if it's old news.  I hadn't seen it mentioned before.


I've been nibbling my way through it for almost a month because I simply find it depressing.  As a doomer, what I find distressing about it is that it basically has no useful information.  Further, the basic story isn't "realistic" in that what appears to be a long time frame doesn't fit with canned goods still being edible and dried fruit on the ground.  To me, there are better books out there.
Huh? I kind of got the impression they were keeping people chained up so they could have fresh meat. Chopping of a leg, cauterizing the wound, and saving the rest for later. The pregnant women were for a productive source of food, not to re-populate the planet. I've heard Twinkies outlast the wrappers they come in, anyway.
<groan> is it really that bad?

Maybe I better post a couple more antidotes:

Finding order in chaos: Can we predict the future?

Worldchanging Interview: Thomas Homer-Dixon

(course really maybe I should be posting fiction?)

The book (and I'm not the only one who feels this way, as numerous reviews on Amazon can attest) is actually quite uplifting in several ways. Of the people I've recommended it to and have read it, fully half of them say it is one of the best books they've ever read.

I also just grabbed the one he wrote before this, 'No Country For Old Men,' which is about drug-money, organized crime, and a serial-killer on the Texas/Mexican Border in the 1980's. Also a great book yet I actually found it more disturbing then this one about nuclear holocaust.

I think oil is mentioned in both of them. Or at least they've got shotguns. So that makes 'em fair game here ;)

I liked the first article. Haven't read the second.

Brought up the Butterfly Effect. But I'm not sure I agree with the author's contention that it is easy to predict something that will happen shortly, like one second from now. Doesn't the ability to predict hinge on the ability to predict 100% of the time? If it's only 95% of the time, isn't that just guessing well?

"Doesn't the ability to predict hinge on the ability to predict 100% of the time? If it's only 95% of the time, isn't that just guessing well?"
Hi OC, I appreciate this, and seeing as how no one's responded directly (yet?), my suggestion is to talk to a physicist (or 2) who does quantum mechanics of some sort. My take on it is - the question is what they would call "deep".  It's the way the question plays out that some people find fascinating (and perhaps hopeful, in a sense.)  
That's interesting, isn't it?  You'd think that any prediction that increased our odds (better than 50%?) would be good ... but then I think of the poor guys who got caught house-flipping in this downdraft, or bought into the internet bubble at the wrong time ... I think maybe that's not true.

I think the trick is understanding the risk in your prediction.

Humans are notoriously bad at this.  In Fooled by Randomness, Taleb tells of a simple test.  A group of people were asked to guess a simple number (population of a distant city), and then asked to guess a range (between X and Y) that would give them 90% confidence in their answer.

It turns out that people choose too narrow a range (near their first guess).  Something like 15% of the people were right with their ranges when 90% of them should have been right.

And hearing the story we figure it out ... just make X small and Y big and you have a good chance of capturing that 90% (very close to 100%) chance.  Why don't we do it the first time?

And what does this have to do with Peak Oil?

I think the take-away is to broaden your X and Y ... don't fool yourself into thinking your best guess necessarily can be bracket with a small range of similar outcomes.

McCarthy is a great literary artist. Think metaphor, imagery and poetry -- not survival handbook. His never sunny outlook has become increasingly dark, perhaps with some impetus from his association with world class scientists at the Santa Fe Institute. He's trying to reach us on an alternate level. Good luck.
His books sound like great reads, if depressing. From the sound of it though, McCarthy is more of a "doom and gloom" writer whom people read because of that - kind of like HP Lovecraft or Poe, writers you go to for a good creep-out, not for a bedtime story for your kids. And if you want to know how to camp out, the boy scout manual or something, and if you want to know how things are when an Empire falls, you find some factual stuff from the many failed states and crises and depressions over the last 100 years. For long-term, there's always Rome.
I see that we've picked up one Kurt Cobb essay today.  I've kind of wondered if this other one would be brought in.  It seems related to both Plan C (above) and your post:

Attitude adjustment: Facing our ecological predicament

That one was posted to DrumBeat a week ago.
Sorry, I searched for the other URL, and didn't think to check the Energy Bulletin equivalent
Cobb has written many good pieces, but this recent one wins the prize in my view:

The 'dark matter' of American politics

absolutely.  KC is one of my favorites.  Always smart.
FYI, Kurt Cobb's article, as reproduced at Energy Bulletin, is at the top of the list when you search for CERA at Google News (http://news.google.com).  In fact, most of the relevant hits on the first page are rebuttals.

Here is the search URL.

Even Kurt Cobb fools himself when facing the enormity of the challenges before homo sapiens. Is it any wonder that most other people continue to do so as well?
And you think North America is the best place to survive the upcoming global disaster. Who are you fooling....!
Note he said it was the best place(out of all the bad places), not a great place.  In otherwords he believes pretty much that most of the world is pretty well screwed, including the US, but if a gun was put to his head and he was forced to bet on a horse, his choice would be North America.  Does he expect to lose that bet?  Yup!  but given his assessment of the odds, the best potential of a return on his bet would be North America, slim as it is.
Note he said it was the best place(out of all the bad places), not a great place.  

Seriously, do you really think the US IS the best place? The nation of gun-toting SUV drivers? With millions of poor South Americans waiting to pour in? You guys keep saying the US is about to implode anyway, hardly sounds like a place to be at all.

Regardless of the merits, everyone says their country is the best place. It's very patriotic, but they are fooling themselves.

Got a better idea?
I just said anyone who thinks they have a better idea is delusional. Are you not following this??
I think my most constructive advice would be to build your case more gradually.  When you open with a conclusion you may provide reaffirmation for one segment of your audience, while losing others:

Kurt Cobb's recent Attitude adjustment: Facing our ecological predicament piece is irrational denial of his own. Here is a classic example of this irrational insistence that humans are somehow magically special and exempt from the consequences of things like our own population growth.

For what it's worth, I'm comfortable with people who have "grave concerns" or see "serious problems" and so on.  People just loose me when they start using their conclusion as a premise.  It is pretty obviously a circular system of logic.

That curve cannot be refuted and for anyone to expect the results of that curve to be anything other than what has happened with every other group of mammals to overshoot in the same way is simply irrational.

Were the best answers proposed and defeated?  Or was a new conclusion simply offered as refutation?

Any ideas on how the impending conflict between food and biofuels will likely develop and play out in the arena of public policy? Will people rather import Brazilian ethanol than Brazilian pork? How does on-shore food security balance with on-shore chemical energy security? I'd think food would trump chemical energy.

We have cheap food, both relative to other countries and to our history, but that appears to be about to change in a big way.  This ride looks like it will be a rough one, depending where you are sitting in (or just hanging onto - the white meats) the bus.

We do have cheap food, compared both to other countries and historically:

Food CPI, Prices and Expenditures: Expenditures on Food, by Selected Countries, 2002

Food CPI, Prices and Expenditures: Food Expenditures by Families and Individuals as a Share of Disposable Personal Income

What change will the public stand for and what will be the calculus of the vote?

We've covered this topic many times and it's total nonsense - there's no impending conflict between food and biofuel.  

Biofuels are in fact, heralded by many NGOs and 3rd world activists for the potential benefits the industry would bring to the predominately poor, predominately agrarian world populace.

This is not to say that some biofuels aren't questionable -palm oil for instance- or that cheese doodle producers won't be affected by increased corn prices, however, these types of detractions pale in comparison to the potential benefits of a globally regulated biofuel industry - an industry that the 3rd world can be an active and value added participant.  

World grain production in 2006 is falling short of consumption for the 6th time in 7 years, dragging grain stockpiles down to lows of about 57 days of consumption. Into this already tight market for grains for human consumption we are going to start adding pressure to produce fuel so OECD population can continue to slog around in their SUVs. What you ignore is that most of the world's population is not agrarian. Hell, it's barely even rural anymore with almost half living in urban areas alone. And not all those living in rural areas are farmers. Meanwhile topsoil erosion continues at breakneck speed, fresh water access continues to deteriorate, all as we get set to power some soccer mom's SUV with corn fed alcohol. The utter insanity of that position says all that needs to be said about grain for ethanol schemes.
Well yes, 6 of 7 we've cut into our reserve to meet current demand. But you know there is still a reserve, an actual existent reserve that can be seen and touched and expressed in positive numbers so the status quo is sustainable, At least for a year or three so why worry?
In Australia the shit is hitting the fan right now in a most conspicuous way and even the doomers won't touch it. Perhaps because the doomers want oil doom and not climate doom.
Just as Australian politicians continue to be succesful with the hope that the thousand year drought will end in year 1001, food vs.fuel will be a non-issue until contracts can't be met and orders can't be filled. (Australia is meeting contracts by buying wheat and driving up prices.)
"What you ignore is that most of the world's population is not agrarian. Hell, it's barely even rural anymore with almost half living in urban areas alone."

Agrarian a.k.a. Agriculture of which 42% of the world's laborers are employed -in other words- the single, most commom form of occupation in world: see wikipedia.

Soil errosion and fresh water access are going to be at issue regardless but nice try.

Please note that I said biofuel industry not corn fed alcohol industry.

when the world starts driving it's top soil we're screwed ( screweder?) your vision scares me
It shouldn't.  

My vision is of a world where existing cogen ethanol facilities are paired with gasification units for the production of EtOH and higher order alcohols using agricultural waste, green wastes and/or DECs (in crop rotation) as feedstocks - the best candidate of which being the fast growing, nitrogen fixing, organic variant of cannabis sativa .    

In a closed-loop system, the by-product of ethanol fermentation is WDGS (as opposed to DDGS) for ruminants while the bio-char residues from gasification would go back to the agroecosystem in North America's first Terra Preta application as advocated by Johannes Lehmann of Cornell in our discussions.

Ethanol, methanol and higher order alcohols have a myriad of applications, however, in terms of direct liquid transportation fuel decline mitigation, the best possible use may be as Diesel extender and/or hydrogen fuel cell energy source in Bio-Hybrid autos.

IF you were so inclined, I could put you in contact with the smart individuals behind the scenes who are right now working on implementing the above albeit in seperate units and without a much needed unifying cause of directed effort (and financing) as was the case with Apollo.


Come someone explain how the law of entropy applies to biofuels??
Yes, we've covered it, but you didn't win the argument.  Food vs. fuel isn't a problem yet because for now there is still plenty of oil.  When it depletes, if we try to maintain our levels of consumption with biofuels it will be a problem.  


Oh and you did?  Hardly.

No respectable individual in the renewable fuel sector has ever, even remotely asserted that ethanol or biodiesel production from food feedstocks will outright replace fossil fuel usage.  

Nor as a contributor and proponent of the industry, have I ever personally not given conservation its due and in fact, I have always stated that conservation is the number 1 source of oil yet to be re-discovered.

"Your comments about prices and markets are completely irrelevant unless you can prove that biofuels can replace petroleum consumption."  

Here's your proof: VOL 311 of Science - "Ethanol Can Contribute to Energy and Environmental Goals", Farrel et al.

And you totally ignored 2nd and 3rd generation biofuel production paths not to mention evolving technologies, best practises and cogen capability.  Example: http://www.pandaenergy.com

People aren't staving in the world because there isn't enough food to go round.

An excerpt from Ted Turner's presentation to the WTO:

"By converting part of their output from food and fiber to fuel, they will be entering a market with higher prices and rising demand, and are more likely to attract the kind of foreign investment that can modernize their agricultural practices -- and increase their food production as well. This is a critical point, because there should be no food vs. fuel debate. We can absolutely produce both -- all that's required is investment. Economic growth, especially in rural areas, will help developing countries meet their food needs more easily. The answer to hunger is not more food, it is less poverty."

Again...  Food vs. Fuel is a myth.

I understand now. Hunger only comes from anorexia. We all have plenty food. Investment makes the rain fall. Economic growth makes the sun shine. Jesus loves me. The checks in the mail. I promise I won't come in your mouth.
Oldhippie, IIRC, 70% of agricultural land is used for grazing or food crops for animals. We could choose to eat less meat. But we don't.

There are people in the world today who are hungry or starving. We could choose to feed them (or give them money to buy food). But we don't.

I recommend the book Late Victorian Holocausts to see how good the free market system was at extracting grain from India during the three famines of the late 1800's. And how punitive taxes made each successive famine worse.

[By the way, I did read the Death of Adam (surprised you recommended a Calvinist!). Just finished, and enjoyed, Gilead.]

Join now with Syntec and have Faith in Saint Ted Turner. By the Grace of Ted Ye shall have Eternal Life in Pornucopia. Batteries not included.

I kinda doubt Robinson is a Calvinist but I'm just not sure. That she pulls so much out of what should be dead matter impresses me endlessly.   Gilead is a great read.

OK I'll check Late Victorian Holocausts. Have seen it referenced before & it's time.  From out of the wayback I'm remembering Marx's dicussion of how England conquered India with less than 1000 troops by cornering the grain market and extorting compliance for food. VolumeOne of Capital.

Grazing land mostly extracts some use from land too dry to support much else so discount most of that 70% on acreage. I'm sure that if we were all vegans and there was sufficient attention paid to avoiding waste/spoilage then 9 or ten billion humans could eat on this planet. But I expect a sharp drop in food supply long before that happens. Australia is the beginning.

You got me going. Try The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer. Compelling read and does have connections to discussions of Energy and Future.
And Innaritu's Babel. Beautifully shot, paced, anti-modernist screed in theatres now
Nice retort hippie... REAL nice.
I wrote it and I was shocked at the vulgarity of it. OTOH the only proper sequel to Ted Turner would be the Wit and Wisdom of Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Henry Kissinger....
The problem with your argument is that your fact based source (the science article) doesn't support the claim that you are making,  and your other two sources are merely claims with no facts to back them up.  The science article claims that ethanol has a positive net energy.  That is not the same as claiming that ethanol will not compete with food production.  

I've used raw numbers to show that:

The american auto fleet uses 20 times the caloric energy requirements of the American population

Worldwide energy use from petroleum is ten times that of caloric consumption of the world population

It would require all the arable land in the United States to replace gasoline consumption with corn ethanol

This is the scale we are dealing with.  We aren't going to replace our energy use with ethanol.  I'm not saying we can't use any, just not on the scale that people expect.  You said you advocate conservation as the first solution.  Fine, but that needs to come through loud and clear.  The problem is that the ethanol advocates have persuaded most of the public that ethanol will replace gasoline seamlessly, so there is no pressure to conserve.  

If you want to convince me that food vs. fuel is a myth, use real numbers to show me how much ethanol you can make from from an acre of corn, cellulosic or fermentation.  Show how you can scale that up to whatever level of ethanol use you think we can conserve to, then show how much land is left over for growing food, and how the world will still feed itself with that leftover land.

You asked me to prove that biofuels can replace petroleum consumption (which has nothing to do with the Food vs. Fuel arguement) and I did.

Turner's comments on the other hand -which were relevant- are but one of the many I have used to support my assertions re: Food vs. Fuel, however, you have obviously missed the other posts.

Corn ethanol and sugar ethanol are net energy positive and have been for some time, so I suggest you adopt these facts in future posts.

And again, no one ethanol advocate that I know of is asserting that all LTFs can be replaced by ethanol and this and your more than welcome to show me one.

`We aren't going to replace our energy use with ethanol' is a straw man, as are your sources of caloric energy use in the Food vs. Fuel debate - the crux of which I don't think you understand.

Here's a back of the envelope scenario for you per your request:

In theory, the DOE and USDA have affirmed that 1.3 billion tons of biomass can be achieved per annum in sustainable fashion.  There are a lot of caveats, however, DECs such as cannabis sativa -a perennial that can produce upwards of 10 tons per acre- were not considered in this study although the plant is indeed used in NRCAN research.  

Our lab results and those at NREL have shown that approx. 100 gallons of alcohols per 1 ton of gasified biomass can be achieved in a thermo-chemical conversion process but keep in mind that this production path can be utilized with virtually any carbonaceous material including wood waste and NatGas.

Now for a very conservative estimate, I'll use only 50% of the `Billion Ton Vision' or 500,000,000 tons of biomass for our envelope calculation: 500,000,000 x 100 = 50,000,000,000

That's 50,000,000,000 gallons of ethanol and higher order alcohols produced domestically from domestic resources without starving the people of the world or causing the economy or the environment to collapse; if anything, we would do the exact opposite.

Now combine the above with a 50% increase in fuel efficiency across the board for trucks, cars, tractor trailers you name it.  Use a step ladder approach (a steep one) to achieve the 50% reduction in an appropriate timeframe.  This would drop LTF consumption to 70 billion gallons at 06' levels leaving us with a 20 billion gallon gap to mitigate with domestic and foreign oil supply.

Hey everybody. Its been a while since I've been on, though I've been keeping up with the headlines.
I have an interesting situation here. A young friend of mine has asked me for some career advice. He's finished high school and is about to start college. He wants to major in some kind of biology or a related field and has asked me for advice. Which presents me with a dilemna: I know what's coming in the next few years, and I don't want to steer this kid into a career that might not have a future by the time he finishes. (Which might be up to ten years if he gets a masters, since he is only going to go part-time the first few years thanks to the soaring costs of tuition.)But I don't have a clue as to what biology type careers will be PO and GW proof (at least for a while). Does anyone here have any ideas? Thanks.
soil science
My 18 year old son is a marine biology major at Texas A&M Galveston Campus. Mariculture and Wetlands Ecology look like sure things to me, plus theres good fishing on campus!
Speaking of fishing, its getting pretty bad in some areas.

Leaping Asian Carp have ruined many waterways for fishing.

They are spreading rapidly into all open bodies of water. Next  they will be in the Great Lakes. They are injurious and noxious fish and will consume along the food chain such that other species will decline.

Right now these fish will jump in your boat, knock you over, become such a nuisance that many won't even go fishing where they are.

http://www.columbusdispatch.com/reports-story.php?story=dispatch/news/special/swarming/20031029-A1-0 0.html

My daughter has similar interests and I've suggested she consider some form of primary health care career. Some of the possibilities include becoming a nurse practitioner, chiropractor, massage therapist, herbalist or paramedic (or a combination thereof). Becoming a doctor takes far too long, costs far too much, and involves memorizing the use of far too many drugs and fancy pieces of equipment that may not be available to most people at some point in any case (although they'll probably still be available to some).

IMO the most useful health practitioners will be those who can help people at a basic level without needing to rely on expensive inputs - health care generalists as opposed to health care specialists. People like that will have a skill they can trade for the necessities of their own existence and will be valued members of their local community. It's a good route to building social capital.

studying medicine in cuba would be a good idea .. you would become a decent doctor not trained to depend upon a multi-million dollar back up ... IMHO sometime in the medium future doctors will be working for potatos and chickens, as they did not too long ago.
IMO any thing in the life sciences would be a good choice to pursue.
I know what's coming in the next few years

LOL. And what do you know? I have certain scenarious in my back pocket but I don't think I know which one it will be. Some of them offer nothing unusual BTW.

If you ask me your friend has so far made a great choice of a career. He's not becoming a lawyer or marketing researcher, specialising in high-end SUVs. He will be working on  something real. That's a great start IMO. I'm not enough familiar with the biology area to give a conrete advice, but I'd suggest something which has a direct application in food production - this thing will most certainly be very big in the years to come.

My advice to him (aka: what I would do if I were in his shoes) is to get a job as a paid apprentice in one of the trades (plumber, welder, electrician, farmhand) or in a field that does not require 10 years of schooling at insane prices of admission. He will be better off not incurring all that debt, and he will have a skill that transcends the transition to the downward slope.

I have two young boys, and if there is still a society around to offer education and employment when they're 18, I'll advise them to do the same.

Tom A-B

  In the unionized trades there is no 'welder'
trade.You would be a ironworker,boilermaker,or
steamfitter and be expected to know and do a
lot more than welding alone.


My advice would be to try and avoid incurring too much debt.  

USA Today is doing a special series called Young and In Debt:

Thirty years ago, the "generation gap" reflected the cultural gulf between World War II-era parents and their children. Parents then just didn't get sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Today, the gap is about debt.

This generation of twentysomethings is straining under the weight of college loans and other debt, a crushing load that separates it from every previous generation.

One of the young people they profile is carrying $165,000 in student loan debt!  That's insane.

And worst off are the kids who wash out of school before graduation.  They end up with the debt, but not the diploma.

With 50 years of perspective, I wish I had asked my folks to take my college money and buy me a farm - seriously.  While I love the sciences and still apply what I learned, I'd have been a lot happier being a farmer all these years.

Parents might consider using the college money and buying the kid a business or providing the capital to start one.

With regard to farming, not neccessarily - farming is a very, very tough business with very tight margins where your income and livelihood are impacted by factors well out of your control.

Risk and Resilience in Agriculture

Evidence of the adverse emotional impact of this stress is the occupation's elevated suicide risk compared to others.

Farming and mental health problems and mental illness Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2005 Dec;51(4):340-9.

suicide in Australian farmers. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2006 Jan;41(1):1-10.

Farmers are at risk for anxiety and depression: the Hordaland Health Study Occup Med (Lond). 2004 Mar;54(2):92-100.

Because business and family issues are inevitably intertwined in farm families, some 75% of such families experience considerable conflict often occurs between sibilings and between generations.

Ranching and Farming With Family Members - CSU Extension

You are, of course, referring to modern industrial farming.
Deciding on a college major should not be guided by career choice except in the most generic way. If he's interested in biology, do a bio major. However, if he's choosing bio because  he thinks he can get a job, steer him elsewhere.

Too many young people make the mistake of going with what they think will be a good major instead of going with what they enjoy and/or are good at.

When I was still in academia (seems like several lifetimes ago), I saw this all the time; science majors with B to C grades, no job, no med school, no grad school; Business majors lacking the foundations of learning being beat out for jobs by english lit majors with grammatically correct resumes; sixth year university students entering the college of ed because their four previous majors didn't pan out; and on and on.

My advice to him is don't make the decision now. He's got time. Take some basic required classes and some that just look interesting. After all, he's going to college for an education, not training.

Well, thats a nice thought and one I agree with. However, these days kids are coming out of college tens of thousands if not hundred thousand dollars in debt. College is no place today to try and find yourself. If you want to learn a little about life and decide what you want to do, spend a couple years and read science and history, go to work, or better go travel, not to Europe, but Asia, Africa, and South America. Then go to college.

Unless you have someone footing the bill, I think the only reasonable approach to college today is to look at it as a career ticket. I don't think that's a good thing, but I think it makes the most sense.

I think you missed the point of my post. Getting a general good education is the best way to get a better job after college. Except for a few specific fields, like engineering, the connection between college major and career path is limited. Most training occurs on the job. But if you can't write well, think critically, perceive patterns, you aren't going anywhere. And those talents are not connected with a particular field.

What was Lee Iacocca's major?
Warren Buffet?
Bill Clinton?
George Bush?
How about your boss?
The admin to the VP?

Unless you are in a "profession" its unlikely you know the major of most of the people you work with.


While I have done ok myself with a similar outlook (degree in Building Materials and Wood Technology and a career in Technology) I think that there are real benefits to having a degree in what you want to do.

There is very real competition for the few good jobs out there.  Having a specific degree in what you want to do can really make a difference.

There are also a lot of jobs that require specific degrees.  Good luck getting a job in Biotechnology if all you have is a BA.  They want Chemists and Biologists.  (Preferably PHD's)

I do think a year off to travel on the cheap can be worthwhile.  

I also see nothing wrong with 1 or 2 years spent at a local state school or communtiy college and then transferring to a larger (more expensive) school to finally get the "piece of paper".

Definitly study what you're passionate about though.


I agree with you completely. If a young person knows what they want to do, get a degree in it. The mistake made by too many is that they choose a degree based on the salary expectation. (Usually this is disguised by indicating the type of job they expect to get. A co-workers daughter has decided to major in business finance because she wants a job like her father's. He's a finacial analyst who makes six figures and that's what she sees. She thinks she'll walk out of school into that same job. Of course, she doesn't remember when she was young or befoere she was born and her parents were just scraping while he learned his trade.)

And of course lots of jobs require specialized degrees. But no one but the brightest walk out of college with a BA or BS and into an advanced research position. On the other hand, I've met a number of (e.g.) doctors who have bachelors degrees in non-science fields. I don't know if its still true, but there was a time a decade or so ago when a non-science bachelors was actually a plus on med school admissions.

I'm also with you on the CCs for some young people. I also think there is too much pressure on high schoolers to go directly to college. There is nothing wrong with taking a few years to learn that the work world ain't so grand. One of the reasons I left academia was that too many of my students had no conception of their privelage. This wasn't true of my older students who knew how tough it is without a degree.

I attended a Shell Oil Co. focus group meeting here in Portland last month, fascinating mix of people including some from Portland PO and the City of Portland PO Task Force.  In the closing Q&A session with Pres. John Hofmeister, someone asked a question about Shell and tidal energy.  He referred the Q to one of his assistants, saying that he had majored in Political Science and wasn't a technical guy.  Teaching at a liberal arts college, I was intriguted with his comment, and I asked him afterward about this.  He said that having majored in Pol. Science gave him a wider frame of reference, which has proven very useful as CEO of Shell.  He went on to say how surprised he was to find himself often referring to Greek myth, for example the myth of Sisyphus (appropriately).  [BTW, his degrees are from Kansas St. University, not Ivy League.]
Chinese Capital to switch from building roads to subways in next 5 Year Plam

Beijing to surpass London Subway km

One factual error below.  Although Beijing will surpass London in subway length, Shanghai should surpass Beijing according to my information.

So, in 2012, Shanghai #1, Beijing #2, London #3, NYC #4.

Best Hopes,


Beijing planning to build world's biggest subway
Nov 20 1:09 AM US/Eastern       

Beijing is planning to build the world's biggest subway and dramatically expand its bus network as part of efforts to combat the city's fast-increasing traffic grid-lock, state press has said.

The Chinese capital will expand its subway system to 273 kilometers (169 miles) by 2010 and to 561 kilometers by 2020, surpassing London as the city with the world's most extensive underground, the reports said.

The city's current metro rail system is 115 kilometers, with 54 kilometers of subway.

The city's newly approved five-year public transport plan will shift the focus from building roads for car use to constructing a high-speed public transport system to ease the growing grid-lock, the China News Service said.

"When Beijing citizens are in the city center, we want them to be able to get to places faster by using public transport than by using a car," the report quoted Liu Xiaoming, vice head of the city's traffic department, as saying.

Besides completing five new rail lines by 2010, including an already announced light rail connecting the city center to the airport, Beijing will also build 300 kilometers of specialized bus lanes, Liu said.

The China News Service report did not detail the costs for such a plan.

But by 2010, it is hoped that 40 percent or more of the city's daily commuting will be done on public transport, with up to six million passengers commuting by rail and over 13 million travelling by bus daily, it said.

Although Beijing currently only boasts two subway lines and two light rail tracks, three more underground lines are under construction and slated to be completed by 2008 when the city hosts the Olympic Games, the China Daily said.

Beijing's efforts to build public transport has greatly lagged behind the city's construction of new highways, ring roads and widened streets to meet the demands of the 2.75 million cars currently plying city streets.

"Motorized vehicle use is growing rapidly and by 2010 it is estimated that there will be 3.5 million vehicles in the city," Gu Shengli, another city traffic official told the China New Service.

"This will bring the city huge traffic pressures that cannot be alleviated through the mere expansion and building of new roads."

Correction: By 2020, Shanghai #1, Beijing #2, London #3, New York City #4. (I think Tokyo is #5 in subway length).

Per memory, Shanghai's planned 17 subway lines will be finished before 2020 (last I read said 2017, but these dates are fluid and I do not follow them closely).

Canton and a number of other large cities also have plans and active construction.

Most Chinese subways open with a shortage of rolling stock.  This may be planned, or reflect a shortfall in capacity (no offical word).  But certainly can be remedied over time.


Duh.  Wasn't this problem rather predictable when they embarked on this folly of road building and car pushing in the first place? It is almost as if we purposely create problems so that we can solve them.  

Even with the planned subways, they apparently plan to let vehicle use grow to 3.5 million vehicles.

Well, at least they recognize that traffic pressures can't be fixed by more roads.  

Denver, while it is to be congratulated for its recent expansion of its light rail system, chose to expand the highway going through the city at the same time. I think it would have been better to let gridlock takes it course. The best advertisement for mass transit is gridlock. Recently, on the news I heard a newsmen who obviously lived way south of town say how wonderful it was that he could not speed home with the expanded highway. This was in the context of a report on the new southeast light rail route of out Denver. So, since the highway is so great now, why bother with mass transit.  Chalk that up to another dumbass local newsman.

Btw, I do recognize the politics of packaging new roads and transit together. Unfortunately, it is somewhat counterproductive.

Wikipedia says New York has 656 miles of revenue track. I believe the subway with the heaviest usage today is actually the Moscow subway, with 8 million passengers per weekday. I've been there on business trips, and was very impressed with the efficiency of that subway. A train comes every two minutes at every station.
Actually, I was in a rush to get posted this morning before the thread got too long. Jumped too quickly into the subject :-(

Moscow is an extremely well run subway system with massive volumes.  2 minute headways is superb (90 & 100 seconds are tightest ever, but no one does that today AFAIK.  VERY quick boarding required).

How do you measure a subway system,
. number of passengers
. number or passenger-km
. number of stations
. number of track miles
. number of route miles (NYC has lots of 4 track lines)
. number of subway cars ?

Certainly in the top ten by any of these measurements would be

Mexico City
New York City

With Beijing and Shanghia about to join the list.

NYC includes a fair amount of track at grade outside.  Does this count as "subway" ?  Arcane arguments between rail fans can erupt over such details.  And 4 track subway, is counted twice ?

And hopefully NYC will build the 2nd Avenue subway by 2020, adding to their total.

The reporter failed to consider such items.  By almost any measure, I expect Shanghai to have a larger system than Beijing (it has a larger population base, more lines by # and km planned AFAIK).  And Beijing will rival any non-Chinese subway system.

Perhaps the larger question is just how useful will this system be once completed.  It will not have the 4 track alignments (2 for local service, 2 for express, skipping many stops) that NYC is noted for.  However, the Shanghai coverage will be pretty good and a more logical route system than NYC (three competing companies built different systems with somewhat different cars in NYC.  Competition between companies with stations a few blocks apart lead to express service).  There is some need of a NYC "half ring" subway between the outer Boroughs.  Shanghai will have better interconnections (Mexico City subway is almost a grid, without a defined center per se).

I think that it will take over an hour to get from one quadrant of Beijing or Shanghai to another quadrant via subway, and hours to make the same trip via car.  If they had built 4 tracks, express service could have done it is less than an hour.

I hope that the Chinese add more rolling stock.  I have heard of rush hour service on new subway lines every 12 & 15 minutes with crush loads of people and no boarding at some stations.

best Hopes,


Alan, Any switch of capital from road building to subway is great news. Who else in the world has a four-track system besides we here in NYC? Yes at least Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway should be completed by 2020. So should the extension of the No. 7 42nd Street crosstown line westward two more stops from its current terminus at Times Square.
From the McPaper: Food banks have less to work with, struggle to meet holiday demand

They're being hit by decreased supply:

More people are asking for food even as the amount of government commodities available -- milk, cheese, canned goods and other staples -- is down 55% from 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A second USDA program of emergency food aid has stayed about the same. Together, they supply about one-fourth of what food banks give away.

USDA buys fewer commodities when it has less need to boost farm prices. It gives 80% of purchases to America's Second Harvest, a network of more than 200 food banks.

The loss of USDA commodities is "huge," says Paul Ash of the San Francisco Food Bank. He says his group is increasing visits to stores to pick up food with "sell by" dates about to expire.

And increased demand:

High fuel prices this year have hurt many low-wage earners by forcing them to choose between heating their homes or buying food, says Maura Daly of America's Second Harvest.
There was a Second Harvest turkey drive out in front of a local market here, and for the first time in my life, I contributed - I bought a turkey and a coupon for a "basket" of groceries. I keep hearing on the radio that food banks are getting less and less over the last few years and this year is so far the "thinnest".

The KGO radio station in the Bay Area does a fund drive on t'giving every year too, and it sounds like a good one - no money goes out for "operating costs" or any of that nonsense, and it goes for some really good causes.

Oh, I should clarify, the turkey and bag of groceries go to needy people, and I go on Thanksgiving to Denny's as usual I guess!
Sounds good.  I once replied to a Second Harvest mailing, sent them a small donation, and in return I got put on multiple mailing lists and received a ton of junk mail, including several issues of a heavy glossy magazine aimed at aging millionaires looking for philantropic ideas.  In other words, "they" (not necessarily Second Harvest) spent a lot more on junk mail to me than what I donated.  As Peak approaches, we need a different model for charity.
Heh heh this is all in person, they had a booth set up with some girl scouts, and other volunteers, and it was just go into the grocery store, buy a big cold frozen turkey and a tag for a bag of groceries, they said to put my name on the tag so I wrote "ME", and took the turkey outside and put it in one of the shopping baskets full of donated turkeys they had there. I overheard a guy saying he bought two turkeys for 'em. No names no addresses no nada.
Somewhere (might have been here on TOD) I saw a graph of what comes out of a barrel of crude, that is, what percentage is LPG, what naphtha, what kerosene, diesel, fuel oil, etc. Does anyone have a reference for this? What is the typical variability (if there is such a thing as typical) going from, say WTI to Iran heavy, Nigeria to Brent?
You can get a lot to choose from by doing a google images search for "crude oil barrel" ... but I think this is one of the most detailed:


That's what you get when you're done refining. AIUI the largest fraction on that image -- gasoline -- doesn't come off at anything like ~50% (I don't think it even comes off as gasoline, but light naphtha with a whole bunch of refined additives). I'm asking about the composition prior to refining.
You mean if a hypothetical refiner did purely distillation or fractionation without modifying inputs?


From the first article:

Georgia is considering replacing its state gas tax with a 1% statewide sales tax

This is such a terrible idea.  Now drivers will feel even less the cost of their driving.  A much better idea is to raise gasoline tax to the amount required to cover the expense of all roads, bridges, etc. and make a compensatory decrease the income tax.

I think you will see far more taxation for roads in the near future as oil prices rise and road construction and maintenance costs skyrocket.  The sad part of the issue is it means schools will probably be the big looser.

One thing we want to watch for if possible is goverments letting roads decay or revert to gravel. I suspect they will rip up the asphalt to recycle into roads they want to continue to maintain.

I'm firmly conviced that a crisis in road construction and maintence will be one of the first effects of peak oil.

A better idea is to quit building roads. And also, ain't it great that non drivers will now have to pay for roads.  Well, we can't inconvenience those SUV drivers.  Georgia is so hopeless, especially Atlanta.
The northern suburbs of Atlanta more than Atlanta itself.

Atlanta has MARTA which is too small and in the wrong places but is a start.  And yes, the city does largely travel by car.  But the white northern 'burbs are far worse !

Best Hopes for MARTA expansion,


A general overall tax to pay for roads is the American way, subsidize driving at all costs! And it's especially good if it's a sales tax so you're subsidizing SUV drivers on the backs of nondriving grannies by taxing their groceries.
by taxing their groceries

I'd have to some double checking, but I'm pretty sure most states exempt groceries from Sales Tax.  Fast food, and non-food items are taxed, but the regular grocery food isn't.

And also taxed (in some states) are: clothes, phone service, and other essential goods and services.  Want to discourage driving and/or pay for roads?  Tax automotive fuel.
I've seen similar on the county level in my rural area: Switching road funding away from the actual users (gasoline tax) and toward general sales tax revenues.
Similarly stupid is the Oregon idea of taxing by the mile, instead of by the gallon.  Yeast!  And tax credits for hybrids are almost as bad, since they reward the buyers of a 30 mpg hybrid SUV but not the buyer of a 40 mpg small non-hybrid car such as a Yaris.
I nominate Georgia for a champion state of idiotic and short-sighted energy decissions in the country.

During Katrina the reaction of the local government was:

  1. Temporary suspend gasoline taxes (effectively excaberating shortages by discouraging conservation)
  2. Close all public schools for a couple of days. Thus saving the marginal 100,000 gallons of diesel on the expense of public education, which is obviously of much lesser value. For comparison the diesel fuel sales in GA amount to 1.6 mln.gallons per day. Gasoline sales are 11 mln.gallons per day.
Thanks for pointing out that calculus - gas is indeed more valuable than education in the US. In fact, the average person would rather gas up the SUV and give their kids Kraft Mac-n-cheese (horrible semi-food) than feed the kids well and take the bus or carpool.
Avoid the Kraft. Buy Annie's Organic Cheddar and Shells, or one of the variations. Good taste, real cheese, organic grains, and a small company (oh, shouldn't forget Bernie the bunny).
Yes, I know, but this is not what the average American is doing - they're getting off their 9-hour 1st job workday and grabbing those boxes of Kraft that are on sale and at the "endcap" of the supermarket aisle, and maybe grabbing a gallon of milk and if they're really flush, a can of tuna to mix into the Kraft. They'll get home, entrust the Kraft and possible milk and tuna to their 12 year old daugher who knows how to cook it for herself and her 2 younger siblings.

They then take off the uniform shirt from Job #1 and put on the uniform shirt for job #2, and don't forget the hat! And back into the SUV for 4-5 hours of Job #2. They'll get home somewhere around midnight, and eat the bowl of Kraft their daugher set aside for them. Nuke that in the microwave. And get some sleep, because it's up early in the morning for Job #1...... lather rinse repeat.

Exactly. We must all learn to break that cycle. And even little decisions, like buying Annie's instead of Kraft, can make a difference. Maybe not Earth shattering, but every little bit of awareness moves us toward living a life worth living, rather than the one assigned to us.
Personally I think more toll roads is the ticket.  It hits the drivers up front and they are made very aware of what it is they are "buying".

Gas tax, and sales tax is extremely subtle, and so more easily ignored.

Even with an EasyPass that allows automated deduction from a pre-paid account, I always get that mental registration of "I just paid a buck twenty-five for travelling that last section on Beltway 8 or the Hardy Toll Road.

The sales tax would be "dedicated to road and transit projects."  While in general I am opposed to sales taxes, the situation here in GA is that the gas tax can go only to roads and not one cent for transit (this is per the state constitution I believe).  I don't know who is proposing this - since the Repubs have the Governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature, they are probably responsible - but the upside is that it sounds like they are looking for a way to find some funding for transit.  
An Inconvenient Truth comes out on DVD tomorrow.  The ideal gift for everyone on your Christmas list.  ;-)

not to mention that it's available out there in many places on teh internets for free download...

Does anyone know the story behind this photo?

(It's from this article from The Economist, called Tilting at windmills.)

UNTIL recently, recalls Charlie Gay, a 30-year veteran of the solar-power business, venture capitalists were far too busy catering to captains of the information-technology industry to waste time on "hippy-dippy tree-huggers" like himself. But now the tree-huggers are in the ascendant and the IT barons are busy investing in clean-energy technology.

Among them is Vinod Khosla, a celebrated Silicon Valley financier. He is touting ethanol as the next big thing.

When Khosla's ethanol 'touting' falls on its face, the entire 'alternative' energy movement will likely take a hit as people tend to tar with a broad brush. I expect alternative energy development to be characterized by many fits and starts as society in general comes around to realizing that, in reality, it is truly the only 'alternative.'

I'm no engineer, but I think it has fallen over.
The engineer was the guy who designed that base.
I'm no engineer either... but wouldn't that be a great way to erect a wind turbine?

Very low C of G... like one of those un-knock-over-able toys?

It's times like these I wish I could rate comments!
IMO this pix is modified.  Look at the tone color of the tower compared to the surrounding elements.  Also, I believe most tall towers have a depth to the concrete base that will bear laterally against the soil to resist tipping.  Simple civil engineering basics tells me this is not real.  I am a mechanical engr with some structural and electrical background.
I also question that the base has no cracks or breaks.  The loadings on concrete base as the tower fell would have been large.

Also, the base is larger diameter (using human as scale) than any wind turbine I know of.

Photoshop !


A burning windturbine is also a risk.

Oregon is charging some motorists a road-user fee based on miles traveled instead of the state gas tax.

Oregon is doing a study looking into the feasibility of this concept. To my knowledge, it is not yet a reality and, in my opinion, has little chance of becoming a reality.

I sure hope so.  Not only is it incredibly stupid energy policy, it also has serious privacy implications.  (How come people in the UK accept such intrusion?  And at least many of them have public transit available...)

I second the recommendation above to increase the gasoline tax as needed to maintain the roads.  (And not build new roads.)

Given a choice between higher gas taxes and tolls, I slightly prefer tolls.  Tolls affect longer distance travel & commuting disproportionately (and they still pay gas taxes).

Tolls are an immediate "cost" for travel/commuting and hence a disincentive.  Most tollroads exempt public buses.

With my anti-suburbia stance, tolls do more than gas taxes to discourage longer distance commuting and life styles but they do less to encourage more efficient cars.  Gasoline prices are more oil than tax so I think an extra nickel or dime in taxes is unlikely to boost Prius sales much.

OTOH, passing a toll booth with the real estate agent out to the McMansion in the 'burbs may encourage a look at that closer in condo.  Especially if it must be paid to get to the Supermall as well as work.

Best Hopes,


There is precedent for charging different types of vehicles different tolls. The same concept can be extended to different classes of vehicles based on gas mileage.  

Food for thought, though.  There is a relatively new toll road now to the Denver airport.  If you take this road, you can avoid the horrors of I-25 and I-70.  It's smooth sailing all the way to the airport at 70mph.  If you can afford this toll, there is not much incentive to take mass transit to the airport, especially because you can also get cheap parking a close shuttle ride to the terminal.

I am talking about the case,however, where the toll road is an alternative fast road, not the main or only road. If tolls were extended to all highways, congested or not, the situation would probably be different.

My point, however, is that toll roads can mainly just be a boon to the relatively well off and can actually encourage rather than discourage auto traffic.

My politician brother used to tell people in Seattle that this day is the best traffic day for the rest of your life because the rational future of transportation will not include more or expanded roads. His point was to allow congestion to reach the point of intolerability, but also provide convenient and reasonably priced alternatives. Therein, I think lies the future.

In any event, charging by the mile is fine as long as we can find away to fine tune it to vehicle mileage.

"Elite" toll roads are the present already in some places. Also toll lanes, called "Lexus Lanes" in California. If you can pay the toll, you can get from the Inland Empire out to near the beach in smooth sailing style, I've done it. The toll changes prices according to need, updates every hour or so. Maybe every half-hour. The one I used, well, I wanted to avoid the miles and miles of slow, smoking, steaming, crawling, traffic back out to the coast. I had the money, it was only a few bucks, and the toll road had very little traffic on it. Why don't more people use it? Could it be because most people are already stretched so thin that they really don't have the money?

I know, calling anyone with a car "poor" is not quite right, but this is essentially the basic US "screw the poor" philosophy at work.

I like elite toll roads. The tollway near me is more direct, has a higher speed limit, and less traffic.
If I am on time, I take the freeway. If I am late, taking the tollway means I will be on time.
I assume that this is not the case for most people, but it works great for me.
But does it help society ?

Making your commute longer and more difficult (say 50 mph speed limit, traffic camera monitored, $100 for 55 mph, $500 for 70 mph) would discourage long distance commuting and would encourage changes in the urban form.

Best Hopes for walking & bicycling commutes,


I was talking about the New Jersey concept of turning existing freeways into toll roads rather than raising gas taxes, not building new tollroads.

I do NOT like new tollroads !  The only thing worse is a new freeway :-((

Best Hopes,


New Jersey has among the lowest gas tax in the U.S., which is why we enjoy the lowest gas prices.  Raising the tax a dime or so is, to me, totally justified and should be encouraged; however, the politicos are simply too spineless to do it.  

With that in mind, I heartily applaud the idea of creating toll roads out of Routes 78, 80, 95, the Pulaski Skyway and a section of Route 440 in Middlesex Co., as proposed.  Federal transportation law allows states to set up tolls on interstate highways such as these, so long as the Federal Highway Administration approves.  This "user tax" is most fair and would help financially strapped New Jersey because out-of-state drivers would contribute more.  Also, had some of these freeways been toll roads all along, I suspect the ubiquitous sprawl which metastasized outward along its arteries would not have been nearly so profound.  

Lets be honest here, folks:  drivers who use these highways for long-distance commutes are freeloaders who pay a fraction of the costs up front for using them.  They have gotten a free ride while mass transit users suffered from cutbacks in service, operation and maintenance, and raised fares.  I have had enough of this bias and inequity in transportation policy!  Raise the gas tax, create tollways out of 'free'ways, bring on peak oil, do something, anything, to put transit on an equal playing field with the almighty car.

Have a nice night.

In my view, a gasoline tax is far simpler to administer (relative to tolls), and (if high enough) certainly an incentive to avoid long drives.  Moreover, in the USA, avoiding the short drives may be just as important, since people make a lot of them, and they do have alternative modes of transport available for those short rides to the local grocery/video store/etc: walk or bike.

I also oppose taxes on vehicles based on vehicle size (or type, etc): the prius driver who thinks they need to drive 20,000 miles per year gets a bonus, while the person who walks to work but maintains a pickup truck for occasional needs, and drives it 4,000 miles a year, gets penalized.  I say tax the actual usage, and a fuel tax is the obvious way to do that.

I understand your point.  However an extra nickel or dime/gallon will affect behavior very little.  A $1 toll every time can change the perception of what real estate is "hot" and where people chose to live.

IMHO, In the pre-Peak and early post-Peak days, reducing short trips is not as important as long trips.  Reducing long trips implies a change in the Urban Form (don't have as far to go to get somewhere) which will serve us well Post-Peak Oil.

I care far less if my neighbor drives 5 blocks to a grocery store because it is 1) raining or 2) she doesn't want to walk back with groceries than I do about someone driving over a 24 mile causeway everyday.  My neighbor can buy a GEM ( http://www.gemcar.com ) later and I will wave to her.

Commuting 30+ miles each way is unsustainable.

Best Hopes,


I completely agree that the 30+ mile daily commute is unsustainable (at least with gasoline powered personal-use behemouths).  However, that driving behaviour is nothing more than a larger amount of the short-distance behavior.  If one is "really bad" than the other is at least "bad."  And, is 30 miles at 40 MPG all that much worse than 5 miles at 10 MPG?  Why not use a gasoline tax to punish both behaviors exactly proportunately to their level of badness?

Taxes on some roads would get people to drive around the tolls and cause further congestion elsewhere.  In fact, you might argue that someone trying to save $1 on a toll might be willing to consume 1/3 gallon of gasoline to do so.  The toll could actually be CAUSING gasoline use.  Here in Sunnyvale CA we have exactly that situation where people will sometimes take highway 237 (longer) instead of 84 (bridge) to visit from the other side of the bay.

Then there is the issue of slowing down for the toll, the additional congestion, car crashes, more construction (for the toll plaza).  About the only place I could see a toll is on a bridge or other special road that requires exceptionally high costs to build and/or maintain.

On a slightly different topic, I would love to see the Bay Area's carpool lanes turned into payed Lexus Lanes with SmartTrack.  The idea is that you electronically pay to ride in the lane and that the cost is equal to the distance traveled times the cost of travel.  The costs vary inversely with traffic congestion so that during high-use times the costs go way up.  People in carpools, because they can split the costs many ways, could afford the tolls.  Busses and emergency vehicles could always travel quickly because the rates would adjust upward to keep the traffic moving.  Finally, the dynamic loading of the lanes means that the existing highway gets better throughput.

Short urban hops (I do it when there is a good rain) can be easily substituted with walking, bicycling or a very low energy GEM when post-Peak Oil hits.

Short urban hops do not damage the Urban fabric.  It is far easier to trade in a 10 mpg Hummer for an electric bike (suitable for up to 5 miles IMHO) than it is to build an urban fabric where 90% of trips are 4 miles or less (my situation, explaining my 6 gallons/month).

Long commutes are BAD because they support a high energy lifestyle and support services (to quote an earlier article I wrote on TOD here, in an urban area police can bicycle their beat, postal workers can walk their route, UPS delivery and plumbers vans make short hops, etc.  Not true of suburbia and exurbia).

If tolls slow down highway traffic, add congestion, then that is GOOD ! :-))

Any disincentive for long distance commuting is GOOD !

50 mph highway speed limits (strictly enforced via traffic cameras, 55mph gets driver $100 ticket that goes to build Urban Rail, 70 mph $500 ticket) would be another way to discourage commuting AND save energy.

The enemy is not so much direct oil consumption pre-Peak, but an unsustainable infrastructure that DEMANDS oil in large quantities post-Peak Oil.

Best Hopes for a Sustainable Infrastructure


Even if all personal cars/trucks were to vanish tomorrow, we would still be in a heap of trouble as a nation (world).  It's the sum of all energy use that is the problem.  Thus a solution--if there is one at all--must strike to minimize all types of energy use while also promoting growth in alternate energy.  A special toll on a few roads wouldn't get people to insulate their homes or turn down (up) the thermostat.  It wouldn't get people to drive more efficiently or drive a more efficient vehicle.  People might even drive around the tolls, and thus drive even further!

You mention a bunch of things... walking, bicycling, GEM vehicles, living closer to work, slowing down on the highway.  Each and every one of these things would be promoted by a "carbon liberation" tax.  A toll road is a single, specific block;  a carbon tax gives people the freedom to figure out how best to optimize their energy reduction.

How much carbon do you liberate by running your air conditioning?  Is your electric bill less than $25/month?  You suggest limiting driving speed to 50 MPG.  How about if we instead limit people's electric usage to $50/month.

Alan, I appologize that my previous post sounded mean-spirited.  That wasn't my intention at all.  I suppose I am quite frustrated (like you and most others on TOD) that the current situation in this country leads people and companies to huge energy excesses.  Toll roads could certinaly have an effect;  I grew up with the tolls in New Jersey and now occasionally pay the $3 and $5 bridge tolls in the Bay Area.  However, I still hold out hope that a systemic carbon tax could allow us to cut out the inefficiencies and loopholes of tolls, CAFE, rebates, tax writeoffs, and whatnot.  Call me crazy, but I see a phased-in carbon tax as an effective (and "fair" if coupled with reduction in payroll taxes) way to push the country in the right direction.
With the post-Latrina increases (my utility is in bankruptcy after repair costs), my 12 month averaged bill is $33.  Before it varied between $26 and $30.

Suburbia and exurbia support McMansions (and a high energy support structure).  TOD encourages smaller housing, many with common walls.  Heating & cooling demand should be lower in TOD.

I am not opposed to carbon taxes as a Phase II, secondary limitation but I am opposed to a Carbon taxes ONLY !

The effects are too diffuse and it does too little to reduce oil (as opposed to all carbon) use.

We should HAMMER the commuter that commutes 19 miles to work, 3 miles to the supermarket, drives their child 2 miles to school, even if they drive a Prius.  OTOH, the retired citizen in Boston, 3 blocks from a subway station, living in a walkable neighborhood without a car, I do not want to hammer them for heating their home to 67 F.

For higher income individuals, carbon taxes are unlikely to modify behavior.  OTOH, 50 mph speed limits and the irritation of toll booths may.

Not all carbon is equal in social value, even if their effect on the atmosphere is.

Barbon taxes have minimal impact on plastic use (oil captured for centuries+, carbon losses only during manufacture).

Carbon taxes impact all carbon uses, and is focused on GW.  Tolls target auto/SUV use and unsustainable life styles post-PO.  Related but different targets.

Coal-to-liquid helps PO, hurts GW as another example of the delta.

Best Hopes,


It's interesting to think that as the road infrastructure degrades away, all of these 4x4's are going to be a lot more useful.  :)

By the same token, small, light, highly aerodynamic cars (with skinny, highly inflated tires) that get great mileage need nice smooth roads.

I think most drivers would support a higher fuel tax if 100% of the proceeds from that tax went to road/bridge infrastructure.  The problem is the politicians bleed off whatever they can.

I see small walkable towns with no automobiles allowed interconnected by light rail as the long term sustainable answer.  Think of Zermatt, Switzerland.

Home prices down 1.2% in third quarter

Rustbelt markets and Florida lead the decline. Sales volume plummets nearly 13%.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Once-hot housing markets cooled considerably this summer: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday that the median price of a single-family house in the third quarter dropped 1.2 percent from a year earlier, continuing a reversal of fortune for sellers that started last winter.

Prices in the Northeast, down 4.8 percent, fell the most. Prices dropped 2.6 percent in the Midwest, 0.9 percent in the West and 0.1 percent in the South.

The Detroit market, buffeted by auto industry layoffs, suffered the largest loss; prices there plummeted 10.5 percent, to a median of $154,100.

The deflating RE bubble is even making the mainstream news, so the cat is really out of the bag.

This is looking good, buying is normally the same as renting in cost - it's a little more up-front but you get that back when you do your taxes. The result in a normal market is dead even.

Of course in a real Depression all bets are off.

The business section of our local newspaper recently ran an interesting article.  

The jist of this article was that despite the concerns over the real estate situation, real estate was and is a great investment that has outperformed the stock market year after year. So, if you and your family want to put your money into a good investment, buy real estate. Now!

Then, at the end of the article I see that it was written by the head of one of our largest local real esate firms.

This immediately reminded me of one of those now-classic pieces of advice, circa September 1929, urging people to invest in stocks because they have nowhere to go but up.

I found the fact that such an article was even submitted to the paper and then published quite
creepy, and perhaps quite telling of what is to  come.  

Interesting comments from the Tyson Foods rep re consumers are going to have to pay more for protein because of the corn for fuel program:http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/061113/earns_tyson_foods.html?.v=17
WTF?  I think this whole ethanol deal is not only stupid but immoral.  
I have an economical car, I get 40 miles per African baby!
Your comment is just about the crudest and least informed I've ever seen posted at TOD.

And if you actually read the article... "The chicken and beef businesses were hurt by a glut of meat on the market, a problem the industry has faced all year."

My comment was perhaps too sarcastic and cryptic, and did not refer to the quoted article.  I was referring to issues that have been discussed here before.

The "breadbasket" industrial countries have, through trade policies and ag subsidies, systematically destroyed subsistence agriculture in the third world.  Hundreds of millions are now dependent on cheap grain imported from the US, Canada, Australia and others.  

But at this point grain prices are rising fast, and that is definitely leading to malnutrition.  The reasons for the rising prices include rising population, rising demand (for meat in China), bad harvests in recent years (perhaps due to climate change), and now, competition between food and fuel.  Global grain reserves are very low (less than 2 months) and grain use for ethanol is projected to rapidly increase further.  It has been estimated that the grain used to make enough ethanol to fill an SUV's tank once, is enough to feed a person for a year.  Thus the demand for biofuels is insatiable, and the income distribution around the world is so grossly inequitable that, in contrast to some comments here that food production will trump biofuel production because food is more important, rather, I expect that the rich minority will pay for the biofuels they desire more than the poor majority will be able to pay for subsistence food.

That is what I thought of when reading the comment above: "this whole ethanol deal is not only stupid but immoral".  As for the "glut of meat", it only means that those corporations are not increasing their profit as fast as they'd like.

Scare tactics employed by the world's largest poultry producer where artificially cheap corn prices are exploited for profit at the expense of US taxpayers not to mention the corn farmers outright.

Tyson won't tell you how cattlemen, dairy farmers, land owners, grain and oilseed growers benefit from ethanol production or how rural economies are being rejuvenated.

And low and behold, Tyson is setting up their own biofuel arm - surprise surprise.

From Ryamond James website
Canadian Enerdata reported that levels of working gas in storage decreased by 3.9 Bcf for the week ending
November 3. This compares to an injection of 2.6 Bcf during the same week last year. Levels of gas in
storage totaled 450.4 Bcf, or 92.5% of capacity, versus 500.1 Bcf, or 102.7% of capacity last year.

This is the 21st consecutive week of Less Injection/Higher withdrawal compared to last year. Our most trusted supplier looks like its in trouble. Peak gas in North america will precede peak oil in the world.

And now that the Canadian Govt has lowered the boom on Energy trusts (on Oct 31 this year) - look for them to do less drilling for gas in the future.
Right on Bro (or sis). The full impact of the decline in drilling in october (sub $4.50 prices) hasnt shown up yet and will likely show up in future production.
North amercican torage is just 125 BCF over last year or about 3% over last year. And last year was the warmest winter for a long long time.
Hello TODers,

Sorry, I just have a few minutes to post a wild & crazy idea before heading out, but engineers/scientists: please make of it what you will.

I was thinking about supercapacitors and lightning in a postPeak age.  If electricity becomes super expensive, most skyscrapers will become empty above the tenth floor because elevators might use too much juice.  So then, is it possible to fill the skyscraper's upper floors with giant supercapacitors and harvest the lightning hitting the building's lightning rods?

Can a skyscraper be safely designed to be ungrounded or partially ungrounded so that the wind blowing over it's steel surfaces will generate huge static energy charges that can be redirected into the 50-100 floors of supercapacitors?  Have at it, engineers and scientists, because I have no idea as to it costs and feasibility.

Too bad we lost the Twin Towers at the WTC--this would have been the perfect place to try this wild & crazy idea out.  Can the Empire State Building be turned into a 100 megawatt/hour generator for NYC?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

See a few comments on this Treehugger blog post
BTW, I do miss those Arizona thunderstorms.

Hello JoulesBurn,

Thxs for the link and info.  Yep, the flashes and thundercracks can put on quite a show at times.  If only we had a nationwide lightning grid that could harvest this energy somehow.....

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Here's some strikes from today up in Cascadia:

I must say, the 10 year moratorium on immigration is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. What we do need is a sensible policy. Want to stop illegal immigration, here's my one step plan.

1) If an illegal can prove that someone hired him in the US, he gets automatic citizenship, and the employer gets a $500,000 fine, per offense.

That's it. Illegal immigration would end that evening. Nobody would dare hire them, and those that were careless or foolish enough to look the other way.... "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn at no other."

There certainly wouldn't be any of this "But even though I didn't ask for the documentation, he doesn't speak english, and can't name the capital of a single state; he said he's legal, and I trusted him." stuff.

In any case, there are 2 groups of people. Those that move to find jobs, and those that jobs move to find. We should accept as many of the second group as will have us, and as many of the first group as we conveniently can. All of course  with the caveat of security threats, OBL may be rich, but I don't think we should be taking him in.

It may sound elitist, and it certainly is. I'm not saying just accept rich people, but I don't think we should turn down a PhD unless he's verifiably part of the Taliban. In any case, that sort of thing isn't too likely, theocrats and education are like oil and water.

I have been away for a time, needed to write a few data mining programs and get to the dating game again, and get the fat off and lose about 300 pounds so I could just be a wisp of air flowing everywhere.  at 300 pounds I can move like nothing you have ever seen, LOL my picture is not online you can't see me.

In themorning we will discuss the days news and you will wonder why the same ole save ole nave ole name ole dame.

My blog has been hit with post after post and no one seems to be looking for it yet, so plugs away.


Runs tot he end to check the linkage.

ps, my mom's borhter passed away one down 6.5 billion sould to make into christians........
 yes darwinian This is to you...

Hello TODers,

Please recall what info I have posted before on Zimbabwe & Tanzania.

I think we must remember as we start marching to Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge that there won't be much else to sustain us. This link is quite telling:
The energy crisis is affecting over half of Tanzania's population because the sector has received little policy makers' attention.

A new study commissioned jointly by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), Tanzania Office, says energy supply has been taken for granted hence plunging the country into chaos.

It shows that slightly above 30 million people most in rural Tanzania are depending on traditional sources of energy, fuel wood and charcoal, of which almost 50% are experiencing scarcity with pronounced environmental degradation.

In urban areas, 3 million are facing unreliable power supply.  "Less than 2% of total energy development funds are used for enhancing sustainable development of biomass fuels," the report says.

My guess is using less than 2% of energy funds to support reforestation for fuel wood and charcoal will not go very far to help the avg. Tanzanian.  From the [CIA factbook https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/tz.html] for Tanzania, the total pop. is approx 37.4 million, with about 18 million head of cattle:
Economy - overview:  
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for almost half of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area.

Environment - current issues:  
soil degradation; deforestation; desertification; destruction of coral reefs threatens marine habitats; recent droughts affected marginal agriculture; wildlife threatened by illegal hunting and trade, especially for ivory.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?