DrumBeat: November 21, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 11/21/06 at 9:12 AM EDT]

Saudi Sees 20% Growth in Gas Reserves Over 10 Years

Saudi Arabia expects to add at least 20% to its existing reserves of 242 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves within the next ten years, a Saudi oil executive said Sunday.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco, hopes to add "a minimum of 50 trillion cubic feet in the next 10 years," Abdulla al-Naim, Aramco's vice president for exploration, told the Saudi Energy Forum in Dammam.

Silicon shortage hits solar power hopes

The fragile economics of solar power could be thrown into jeopardy by a severe global shortage of the basic material used to convert the sun’s rays into electricity.

Industry experts warn that a worldwide shortage of poly-crystalline silicon will not ease in 2008, as some expect, but could continue for at least another five years.

Solar projects will either have to be abandoned, or governments will have to pay billions of additional dollars in subsidies.

PDVSA says IEA publishing erroneous Venezuela oil production figures

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's state oil company said the International Energy Agency is publishing erroneous Venezuelan oil production figures and is declining invitations to visit and verify supply from the South American country.

OPEC struggles to halt price sag but with mixed results: "We really need to make a statement to the market"

Republican Moderates Warn Against Broader Leasing Plan

WASHINGTON - A group of Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday said the House should abandon its broad legislation to expand offshore drilling, giving a boost to a much narrower Senate drilling bill that could pass in Congress' lame duck session.

ZAP Seeks to Electrify Demand

Electric vehicle maker ZAP is showing off some prototype electric vehicles at the San FranciscoSf_auto_show_007 International Auto Show in the hopes of generating enough consumer interest to warrant building commercial versions.

G.M. Plans Shift to Small Cars for the Emerging World

General Motors plans a shift toward building and selling more small cars after concluding that most of the growth will come in emerging markets where subcompacts and even smaller cars are most in demand, G.M. executives said this weekend at the Beijing auto show.

Developing countries get climate adaptation boost: But Nairobi conference leaves open the question of what happens after Kyoto.

Peak oil and U.S. cities: About a dozen U.S. cities have passed a peak oil resolution, or are in the process of doing so.

Fort Lewis College disdains diversity of thought on energy

So far in 2006, FLC has sponsored the showing of the film, "The End of Suburbia - Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream" and offers a four-credit course, "The End of Oil," in its regular curriculum. Both promote an agenda on energy issues that is extreme in its desire for swift major change and needlessly alarmist in its message. Both ignore a host of factual material, leading to inaccurate conclusions about energy - present and future.

The Profitability of Urgency

So the Democrats finally took Congress, and Wall Street is enjoying a quick spike in select renewable energy stocks. Once again, investors are reacting in an irrational manner.

Eni: All Hostages at Nigeria Oil Flow Station Released

Italian energy giant Eni SpA (E) said Monday that all remaining hostages at a Nigerian crude oil pumping station it operates were released late Sunday and said 50,000 barrels a day in output from the facility will resume shortly after being shut-in early this month after a raid by armed militants.

U.K.: Blackout warning as energy crisis looms

The energy crisis is far worse and will begin hitting far earlier than the Government believes, a top power industry consultant has claimed.

Britain Nearing End of Natural Gas Self Sufficiency as Outlined in New Edition of Utility Market Report

Indonesia Scraps Import Tariffs on Upstream Oil, Gas Products

Indonesia's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has scrapped import taxes levied on capital goods used in the upstream oil and gas sector, according to a ministry statement.

..."The new policy is aimed at increasing investment in the oil and gas sector," the ministry said in the release, which was posted on its Web site.

Inuit sue US government over BP land usage

Fresh from settling a lawsuit over last year's fatal explosion at its Texas City oil refinery, BP looks set to become embroiled in a legal battle in Alaska over royalties paid on oil production in Prudhoe Bay.

China boasts plan for world's largest solar plant

6 nations, EU sign nuclear fusion accord

PARIS - Officials from six nations and the European Union signed a long-awaited, $12.8 billion pact Tuesday to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor aimed at developing a cheaper, cleaner and safer energy source.

Winds of Change Blow Through California Power Grid

The whirling blades of 100 giant wind turbines sent a jolt of electricity into California's power grid as a group gathered in Rio Vista [last week] to dedicate the Shiloh Wind Power Plant.

Britain 'failing' on biofuel targets

Korea: Oil Barons Reject Use of 'Greener Fuel'

The Korean oil industry is saying "No" to raising the eco-friendly content of biodiesel blends to 5 percent, or BD5, from the current BD0.5 approved by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE).

Can Asia count on reliable Russian oil exports?

NATIONS rich in oil can wield great influence throughout the world, and the nations who must buy oil look for low prices and reliability.

As the world's largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia, Russia is now a major power broker when it comes to energy.

China oil demand seen up to 500 mln tons by 2020, import dependency over 60%

China's oil demand is expected to reach 450 mln to 500 mln tons a year by 2020 with its dependency on imports for its total needs increasing to over 60 pct, the official Securities Time reported, citing an official with the State Energy Leading Group.

Soros warns Germany on Russian energy

Billionaire investor George Soros has warned Germany that the country is in denial over its dependency on Russia for energy, the Financial Times reported.

"(The Germans) don't want to acknowledge the danger that it presents," Soros told the FT's sister newspaper, Les Echos.

Desperately poor African nation mulls oil-rich future

Energy-hungry EU Seeks New Oil And Gas Suppliers

European Union officials Monday vowed to forge stronger links with suppliers of vitally-needed oil and gas resources in a bid to ease the bloc's current dependence on energy-rich, but increasingly assertive, Russia.

Africa: What Alternatives to Oil?

As crude oil prices soar on the world market, many African oil-importing countries are starting to think more seriously about ways to lessen their dependence on the fuel. They fear that continued high spending for imported oil may jeopardize the economic growth they have registered in recent years. As a result, alternative forms of energy are starting to look more attractive.

Near-term peak unlikely to happen: Method used to calculate global peak oil is erroneous, says experts

A peak in global oil production is unlikely to occur in the next 25 or even 300 years, oil and gas experts told a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Peak Oil: Even If The Optimists Are Right, Time Is Getting Tight

Peak oil proponents and skeptics agree that world production will eventually crest. Also, both sides of this debate accept that the decline curve will be gradual rather than sudden (with a little luck). Their common ground, although limited and easily obscured by emotional intensity, is slowly growing.
  1. Find sand
  2. Insert head
  3. Don't worry, be happy
There are other (more promising) methods of fusion which have appeared in the news lately:

Hiper is underway to build a test reactor which will only cost 1/10th of ITER;


And this man is discussing a second alternative way of fusion:


And a 17 year teen created fusion in his parents basement:


So it appears fusion is making good progress. I don't know if it will come in time, but as the man in the google video says: Fusion works, just look at the billion stars (if you can still see them)

"If successful, it could provide energy that is both clean and limitless."

  Sounds good..  also sounds like a story for Edgar Allen Poe to write, if he were still around.  Remember the 'Birthmark', about the scientist whose wife was Perfect.. Perfect.. except for this one, little strawberry colored spot on her skin.  He gives her various potions of his own devising, trying to get rid of that last, little imperfection  (Cindy Crawford would have had him 'offed' by then.. she says she's fairly plain, and that the mark on her upper lip is a KEY to her success, if I recall correctly) ..  so finally, one potion seems to be working, though his wife isn't doin' all that good by now.. and he says he'll stop just as soon as it disappears.. but her life ends up disappearing with the spot..

Just saying we should be carefull what we wish for..

'Art, the Lie that tells the Truth'  Picasso

What is your problem, really? Yes, nothing is perfect, you think they don't know it?

Some people are working on the energy source for the next century. I think this alone is worth our admiration and support. You contribute nothing with your cost-free moralizing.

My problem is with promises of 'Limitless Power'(.. and it's clean, too!)  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  

Warning bells go off, Levink. We are addicted to power, and we have this glimmering mirage, always 20-30 years off, just where it might bless our children, or where we'll be too old to have to answer for it anymore.  It sounds like a 'Fix', it sounds like salesman-hype.

I don't oppose the research, but I'm not sold yet, and find the continual promises of 'Clean-Safe-Plentiful' Nuclear power to have a hollow ring at this point.  

We've got Fusion already working for us at a nice, safe distance.  No Mining-tailings, no waste disposal, no cooling water systems to fail on us..  How much polysilicon development could be initiated with the money and effort that has gone into Politically Connected, and War material Connected energy sources (part of the Nuclear Lobby's push is because the US is developing new Nukes and there is pressure to rebuild an Arms industry, which will need its gogo juice)

As far as 'Moralizing' goes;
  This is a legitimate Moral issue.  It is not one of those 'values' topics that tries to proscribe what people can do in their bedrooms and to whom, or what words are 'indecent' or what pictures constitute 'Pornography'..  it comes down to-

  • Is this safe for us and our Ecosystem?
  • Is this a responsible use of our time and money as we face pollution, energy, economic and climate crises?
  • Are we (with Fusion) chasing Richard Dreyfus' mysterious blonde in American Grafitti.. ie, is this still science, or has it become the new Alchemy?

 .. and so it is all-too appropriate to ask Moral questions about it, even if Moral has become as unwelcome as 'Liberal' in decent conversation.
#  Is this safe for us and our Ecosystem?

All available evidence says yes.

# Is this a responsible use of our time and money as we face pollution, energy, economic and climate crises?

Definately YES. The reactor will cost euro 10 billion. Just compare that to the benefits if it is successful. You are effectively telling me you don't want to spend 10 euro now (assuming 1bln. population of developed countries) for the development of an energy source that can solve all our climate and energy problems our kids will face? Now isn't that hypocritical...

# Are we (with Fusion) chasing Richard Dreyfus' mysterious blonde in American Grafitti.. ie, is this still science, or has it become the new Alchemy?

Nobody can answer that with certainty. I just can argue that the odds are pretty high. We also have some good odds for efficiently harnessing the energy of that fusion reactor high in the sky but still - nobody can give you a guarantee. You make it sound like the first is doomed and the second is certain. Neither is one or another.

As for that idiotic phrase - "fusion is the energy of the future and will always be". The same flawed logic is constantly used by PO "debunkers". They constantly tell us how "oil has been running out for a century now", so of course it will never, ever run out does it? It is short-sighted to assess any alternative technology - fission, fusion, wind, solar etc. based on its performance in the age of plentiful fossil fuels. All of them have still a lot of way to go and a lot to prove.

Funding fusion research makes sense as a long term investment. Indeed, funding should be increased, but new research should be aimed at alternate approaches--in contrast to the "all the eggs in one basket" approach that now exists WRT government funding. As for near-term prospects, I see little reason for optimism. The phrase "fusion is the energy of the future and will always be" would be idiotic if it were not a reflection on the fact that little real progress has been made in the last few decades.

When realized, fusion may indeed be safe, secure, "too cheap to meter", and fun for the entire family, but hanging the label "limitless" on anything related to consumption ignores the reality of the finite world we occupy.

Of course that "limitless" part is pure marketing.

The phrase "fusion is the energy of the future and will always be" would be idiotic if it were not a reflection on the fact that little real progress has been made in the last few decades.

History shows that all energy breakthroughs/research/developments are requiring vast amounts of money and time. Compared to what has been put on fission, oil, oil shale, tar sands etc. fusion is still way underinvested. The problems comes to the upfront costs which for technologies like nuclear were huge, while for fusion are almost prohibitive. It is a much steeper learning curve and nobody had enough incentative to spend the huge resources on it while fossil and fission were relatively cheap.

History shows that all energy breakthroughs/research/developments are requiring vast amounts of money and time.

This doesn't sound correct to me. Steam engines, water wheels, fission reactors... none of these things required huge investment to get going. Of course each such advance is built on the prior technology. E.g. fission relied on the work of folks like Marie Curie. And refining the technology usually does involve huge investing. But the prototypes demonstrate effectiveness first, and the huge investment follows. It almost never happens that folks make a huge investment in some direction that isn't generating some profit along the way. Real progress relies on working feedback systems to correct little errors that start to accumulate along the way. When people invest huge amounts in hopes of some eventual profit that has yet to appear even in any small degree - the end result is usually a disaster.

Steam engines, water wheels, fission reactors (?)

It took an awful lot of money in research & development for the nuclear industry to get to its current state. Which is still not as decent as I'd like it to be, but still much more acceptable than the level of the disastrous experiments like commercial RBMK reactors or the magneseum cooled reactors in the UK.

Steam engines and water wheels are not very relevant here as they have little to do with the way we do things today.

Maybe the experimental prototypes of all of those were relatively inexpensive. But we already have several working fusion prototypes based ot the TOKAMAK technology. Getting from the laboratory to the full-scale industrial application, maturing the technology, finding the weak spots - all of this costa awful lot of time&money.

It took an awful lot of money in research & development for the nuclear industry to get to its current state.

That's certainly true. Today's steam turbine methods to turn coal into electricity are very refined also, the result of huge investments.

My point was that the first nuclear reactor, under the stadium in Chicago in 1942, got a sustained reaction going without a huge investment.


This was three years after the basic principle of a fission chain reaction was discovered. This was a working reactor, not just some isolated fragnmentary demonstration of some principles involved.

Of course that "limitless" part is pure marketing.

We agree on that, but I think it is worth looking at how limited fusion might be.

Even if operating costs are virtually zero, if the capital cost is very high, then the cost per kW could still be more than a fission plant.

A fusion reactor has similar engineering limits to a fission plant, so a fusion unit might produce 1500MW with a lifespan of 40 years. They are still going to need a hefty injection of capital to replace a significant portion of energy generation.

If the capital cost is too high, they may not even be economic with wrt to other forms of generation. In that case, only rich countries with a healthy economy could muster the capital to build them.

We could end up in a situation where we have a theoretical "unlimited" power source, but be unable to afford to build power plants to exploit it.

If anyone has a handle on the numbers, what would be the maximum capital cost of a fusion plant before it became uneconomic to build?

This is entirely valid point. It has always been the assumption that with technology development costs will drop. But what if the nature of the technology itself does not allow it?

In this case it is entirely possible this to happen, largely because of the material costs for building such a huge plant. I am not familiar what are the limiting factors for fission reactor and if they automatically apply for fusion but your claim that the size will be similar looks reasonable. In this case it does not look good IMO.

Basically the jury is still out. It may turn out that the lower cost of fuel, the simpler safety eqipment and lack of radioactive waste etc. will make up for the other increased costs. But it also may not, we are still in the R&D stage and it's too early to tell. This I guess is one of the goals of building ITER and I am 100% sure that any commercial plant will be built only after it is understood that it will be profitable. 10 bln. is not such a big price tag to find out.

Quote: `...but hanging the label "limitless" on anything related to consumption ignores the reality of the finite world we occupy.'

Yes, the world is finite. It is limited by the bounds and laws of the Universe. But forasmuch as the mankind is not anywhere near them yet, it's safe to say that our (the Universe's) resources are limitless.

our universe  for practical purposes is mother earth   and mother earth's resources are finite
Hey...this resource is awesome.  When I was in Montreal last August, I visited the Biosphere which had a geodesic dome built Buckminster Fuller's designs.  The top floor of the building inside was all dedicated to Bucky's works.  I didn't realize how far advanced his thinking was at the time.  Many of inventions were discussed including cheap, energy efficient housing and many other energy efficient designs to existing apparatus.

I think his ideas are worth revisting as we approach/arrive at a post peak world.

I've bookmarked your link...thanks.

yes thanks for the link   i am left wondering    did the dynosaurs have a "peak fern" forum ?
Not anywhere near them yet? Who says, jackoff?
I'd be happy to see us spend 10 billion for the 'development of an energy source that can solve all our climate and energy problems our kids will face'..  I hope this one can, but it is exactly the kind of hyperbolic promise that my initial response was aiming at.'  The question should be "Another 10 billion Euros?"

From Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power


It is far from clear whether or not nuclear fusion will be economically competitive with other forms of power. The many estimates that have been made of the cost of fusion power cover a wide range, and indirect costs of and subsidies for fusion power and its alternatives make any cost comparison difficult. The low estimates for fusion appear to be competitive with but not drastically lower than other alternatives. The high estimates are several times higher than alternatives.

While fusion power is still in early stages of development, vast sums have been and continue to be invested in research. In the EU almost € 10 billion was spent on fusion research up to the end of the 90s, and the new ITER reactor alone is budgeted at €10 billion. It is estimated that up to the point of possible implementation of electricity generation by nuclear fusion, R&D will need further promotion totalling around € 60-80 billion over a period of 50 years or so (of which € 20-30 billion within the EU)[6]. In the current EU research programme (FP6), nuclear fusion research receives € 750 million (excluding ITER funding), compared with € 810 million for all non-nuclear energy research combined [7], putting research into fusion power well ahead of that of any single rivaling technology.

Unfortunately, despite optimism dating back to the 1950's about the wide-scale harnessing of fusion power, there are still significant barriers standing between current scientific understanding and technological capabilities and the practical realization of fusion as an energy source. Research, while making steady progress, has also continually thrown up new difficulties. Therefore it remains unclear that an economically viable fusion plant is even possible."

-- and yes, the line about 'always the future energy source' is snyde, and petty.. and funny (and wasn't from my post).. no less than the Wright Bros' detractors comments about 'if God wanted us to fly' .. but if the Wright brothers were trying to create an antigravity device, they might hit a point where the return on investment was a Divine Signal, too.

The question should be "Another 10 billion Euros?"

And where would you have them rather be? Argh yes, wind, solar etc. The tiny problem that these technologies don't really work has never been a barreer for promoting them as our savers. Or you imagine a civilisation that does not run when it is cloudy or the wind does not blow?

The fusion concept has been demonstrated, and we basically know with a good degree of certainty that we can overcome the remaining technical difficulties. It is indeed a century long effort, but in the end it will bring a century worth result. Our generation of fossil fools will probably suffer a while, then it will turn to nuclear which is also not without issues. In the end the necessary resources to develop fusion will be dedicated, but I prefer it to be rather sooner then later.

It is bizarre that you write this. Wind and solar 'don't work', whereas controlled nuclear fusion is 'demonstrated'? Oh yes, it's the 'concept' that is demonstrated ... well likewise for Star Trek-style energy from anti-matter. Maybe we should try and do that too.

There appear to be extraordinary technical barriers to fusion. I'm not a physicist, so I do not want to try and detail these here myself, but any overview of proposed fusion technologies, even on Wikipedia, discusses them. It is truly depressing, in fact: as if for every possible way out, there is a barrier or limit that we can't get past without yet another complication, which in turn doesn't work because of yet another limit or barrier... and so on. Perhaps it is no accident that we have only been able to generate uncontrolled fusion reactions.

When I first looked at this thread, the confidence being expressed in fusion struck me as so extreme that I thought I must have missed some major morning headline: 'Scientists Crack Fusion At Last!'



You can say that it's intermittent, but not that it doesn't really work.  It really works, and it scales way up and down, from ambient light calculators to Megawatts.  As solar heating, cooking and refrigeration, it can also displace the need for heating oils and natural gas and more grid power .. and with heating/refridg, the storage is far easier and securely distributed.

Sorry if its boring or sounds like self-righteous solutions.  We keep reaching for that succulent cake, when all this fine porridge is already within reach.  Tough Choice.

I appreciate your advocacy in what you believe in, by the way, and the chance to play tug-of-war on this.   I really got some good info at the Wiki site, today, and think Fusion 'could' be great.  Meantime, I'm more confident in the paltry backups than in the 'glowing promises', and will stick with my little BB's, thanks.

Bob Fiske

'Strive mightily, as lawyers do in law.  But eat and drink as friends.'  Shakespeare

It really works, and it scales way up and down, from ambient light calculators to Megawatts

That's where you have it wrong. They do not scale well if at all. In the world we live in, this is equivelent to (ok,almost) "does not work". Because of their nature they can not provide anything but a tiny fraction of our energy usage and they always have to be complemented by a conventional energy source.

Now if it is obvious to any rational person that we can not run our civilisation entirely on them, or even mostly on them, why do you push them as a panacea? After certain consideration I've come to the conclusion that it comes to distaste of the civilisation we have altogether. You guys just can't wait to see it crushing down and reincarnating into some idilic permacultural state. What a joke... it's true that worst crimes have been done out of good intentions, but this thing is already way too much.

Now if it is obvious to any rational person that we can not run our civilisation entirely on them

Well, I'm a rational person (even got a degree in Mech Eng) and it's not obvious to me :) However, biofuels would need to be a (minor) part of the mix. And storage of surplus wind/solar is the biggest challenge. Also, AlanFBE sees a need for about 20% nukes (IIRC); I hope he's wrong on that one.

Well, I'm a rational person (... Mech Eng) and it's not obvious to me

Hello TODders, especially of the Engineering persuation,

I know this is shifting even more off-topic and my apologies for that. However, how many times are we going to insist that we humans are "rational" when the evidence is overwhelmingly pointing in the other direction?

A "rational" civilization would mobilize and do something about the Peak Oil problem once it learns of it. We should have and could have started doing something back in 1956 when Hubbert first pointed out the problem to the public. But we didn't. We should have and could have started doing something back in the 1970's when Jimmy Carter gave his sweater speech. But we didn't.

One of our biggest problems is that each of us "specializes" in a particular area of knowledge while remaining clueless about other things, important things. So maybe you are a Mechanical Engineer and you feel "rational" and super-smart because you know how to calculate the stresses and strains in a steel I-beam. Or you're an electrical eng and know how to solve Maxwell's equations. Or you're a Chem E and can calculate the enthalpy of an ethanol reaction. But still, you are mostly uneducated in how the human brain works. If you knew, you would not be so bold as to say that you yourself, or any of us is "rational".

The evidence is there (wars, mistreatment of others, failure to respond to PO, to GW, etc, etc). Open your eyes and see it.

It is only when we admit we have a problem (how to act rationally even though we are mostly irrational) that we might have a chance.

Until then, the Market will provide. Take the Red pill.

Maybe you consider yourself rational but you did not address the main reason I pointed as to why renewables can not power our civilisation. Namely that they always have to be complemented by a conventional energy source. Be it some kind of storage or something else (which of course is adding complexity and reducing the overal system efficiency). The other reasons I did not mention are coming from the low energy density and the high cost per unit of output as a result.

The first problem is what is obstructing the renewables development in the near term. After certain level of penetration a number of expensive "fixes" need to be developed to help them go further. The second problem is what will be stopping them in the very long term. After the subsidy coming from fossil fuels is gone how are we going to maintain that vast infrastructure of wind mills and solar panels you are imagining? BTW it is very ironic that people think renewables will be "small and localized". The truth is that if we want anything close to what people imagine from them we need to cover half of the country with wind turbines and solar panels.

Now that you did not address these problems in a meaningful way I don't see how you can claim that your opinion was "rational". It looks more like wishful thinking to me.

The VERY long term, say, 2100 is VERY hard to predict.

Technology has improved in the last 93 years, it is fair to assume further improvements absent social collapse.

 I think that a "just in Time" technology fairy is unrealistic for solutions in the next two decades.  But 93 years ???  Yes I do believe in major advances.  Just not easily predictable advances.

Absent major advances, and an investment in long lived infrastructure starting "soon".

Rail lines today, with conrete ties, can expect to last 50 years of heavy use before rail & tie replacement.  Longer if :slow orders" are acceptable over old track or use is "moderate" aand not heavy.  Concrete ties have really proven their worth over wooden ties in the last 20 years.

Pumped storage plants require rewinding the genrators every 50 years, perhaps once a century for the turbines.  Valves are close to :forever:

Solar assisted electric smelting can turn old rails into new (add some material for wear).  Same for wind turbines.

Today, electric smelting is used for the highest grades of steel and can be used for recycling.  Aluminum just needs electricity and little else.  Aluminum alloys may be cheaper than steel and replace steel in many uses (rolling stock comes to mind).

Electric assisted tricycles are here today and are very efficient.  Not just for people but goods as well.

We are close enough to algae farms to think that they can be perfected in 93 years.  A source of cheap food (with processing), biofuels and materials/plastics.

I find your logic puzzling.  Just because we can not plan in detail every step of the way, we should not start on what we know is the right path ?

Best Hopes for the future,


Just because we can not plan in detail every step of the way, we should not start on what we know is the right path?

The truth is that we can not even plan for the next step simply because we don't have the necessary technology and we are becoming more and more constrained in resources. Yes we can invest in pumped storage etc.etc. but can you even try to estimate how much it will cost the society? How much we are going to need to reduce our standart of living? Are we going to be able to apply it everywhere? What is the realistic timeframe from scaling it up?

The challanges we are facing if we go that way are overwhelming. They would require constant government intervention and are likely to fail after the resistance from people and businesses becomes unbearable. Already in Germany and Denmark the discontent from the costs of the "green" policies is becoming evident. Now multiply it by X times to find what the future holds.

And you don't know if this is the right way. In our system the market decides which is the right way. I am all for the government to level the playing field by making the polluting energy producers pay for the externalised costs they cause, or support immature technologies, but that's it. From there on it is the market that decides and this is the way it has to be.

All of this would look otherwise if we did not have viable alternatives, but by insisting on this part of the energy mix only you don't even realise how badly you are undermining its cause in the long term.

You stated "viable alternatives" exist.  I fail to see any except those with significantly higher economic & other costs.

I have selected a mix that doess not include current solar PV in high latitudes in cloudy climates (Germany) but things that close to current price levels and are cheaper once extermalities are considered.

Electrify freight railroads.  How ?  Exempt them from property taxes if they electrify.  Trucks pay no property taxes (directly or indirectly) on their ROW, why should RRs ?

I have listed before politically doable steps to fund much more Urban Rail.

Phoenix has announced plans for two 1,000 mile tranmission lines to Wyoming.  A billion a piece.  Add 50 to 70 more, make them technically compatiable, and we have a good North American grid !

Pumped storage, on a good site, is cheap per MW & MWh.

BTW: or Germany, one of the externalities is dependance upon Russia.

Again, what are the viable alternatives ?

If you saw 55% nuke and the rest renewables & pumped storage & improved transmission, I would agree with you.  That is a viable alternative to 23% nuke, balance renewables.

Best Hopes,


"If you saw 55% nuke and the rest renewables & pumped storage & improved transmission, I would agree with you.  That is a viable alternative to 23% nuke, balance renewables."

That's about what I would like to see in the long term. But I don't think we will see it. First of all that's not the way complex system evolve. Basicly they evolve following the natural path of least resistance and this spells more like "coal". Especially when the very real energy problem starts to replace that abstract "climate change" problem. Let's take a look at the country pursuing most agressive renewable energy program - Germany:

Even though renewable energy has grown rapidly in Germany, its contribution to total electricity consumption remains relatively small. As Figure 1 shows, domestic renewable energy production is only a fraction of total electricity demand. The substantial growth in renewable energy production has not kept pace with a six percent increase in Germany's total electricity consumption since its low point in 1993.4 Thus, the substantial increases in renewable energy use have not reduced conventional electricity demand.


Now if a rich country like Germany can't make it how do you suggest poor countries like China or India make it? How are you going to defend building pumped storages for example in countries like Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia?

I see renewables as mostly suitable for fuel (biodiesel, ethanol from cane or cellulosic ethanol if it makes it) or for powering remote or isolated areas. Hopes that they (excluding hydro) will replace a major portion of the baseload electricity generation... will remain just what they are - hopes. Sorry, but this is what my observations are telling me.

Per analysis posted on TOD (I checked out and the #s seemed good), 44% of the MWh generated in 2007 in the US from new electrical generation installed in 2006 will come from renewables.  40% wind + 4% a mix of all else (new hydro, solar PV, landfill gas, geothermal, biomass waste).  If more WTs were available, the % would have been larger.

After having followed the wind industry for 2+ decades, it is FINALLY about to cross a cusp from "large scale demonstration + gain operating experience (confidence)" yo early stage maturity as a significant source of electrical generation.

Wind is not truly through that cusp yet.  All Vestas WTs in a large offshore wind farm were recalled for bad gearboxes.  Such issues need to be worked out before wind becomes dominant.  And they will be :-))

Check out the AWEA site some time.


I chekc out "projects" every few months.

best Hopes,


"Because of their nature they can not provide anything but a tiny fraction of our energy usage and they always have to be complemented by a conventional energy source."

As you said yourself, any predictions of proposed technologies as they existed during the age of oil would be badly misleading.  The lack of build-up of Solar Electric and Solar Heating is fully a function of the availability of cheap oil.  There were booming businesses in the US at the start of the 20th century for Solar Batch Heaters which went bust when oil furnaces became available with ridiculously cheap fuel.  The WindGenerators on thousands of American Farms were beautiful machines, and many would still be producing voltage to this day, if Rural Electrification hadn't made them seem less worthy.

 I don't propose that they (Solar and Wind solutions, generally) will fill ALL our energy needs, and certainly not those 'needs' as seen in our energy-corpulent perspective today.  In fact, I have said before that I don't expect ANY of the proposed sources can do it.  There is simply no one substitute for the Oil we've so fully enjoyed.  These technologies WORK, and they LAST, and should be maximised.  I don't think Nuclear can survive WITHOUT the oil subsidy as an economic environment to flourish within.  Complexities, Monopolies and another reliance on a steady diet of a diminishing poison make it a poor option to rest our hopes on.

Stop this techno-cornucopianism, LevinK!  The problems are immense, and the solutions nowhere in sight, in mind, or even on the Internet!  It's another boondoggle!  Hope is neither a solution nor a plan.  Hell, it's the last evil in Panodra's box!
Stop this techno-cornucopianism, LevinK

Well, if I'm a techno-cornucopian then so must be Edison, Maxwell, Flemming, Write brothers and many others. Personally I prefer to be put in the same group with them, than with that always-right, but largely unknown group of the defeatists.

I'll bet Dr. Fleming and the Wright boys knew how to spell, at any rate.


Not sure what they have to do with the probability of fusion coming online any time soon.

For example, Fleming observed that mold on his bacterial cultures seemed to be killing the bacteria. The Wright bros. combined their glider experience with a finally-light-enough IC engine to make their enterprise, ummm, fly.

As has been remarked already, we have a perfectly good fusion reactor at exactly the right place - 93 million miles away. This planet is bathed in incredible amounts of energy.  The last thing we need is to be beholden to a grandiose, centralized fusion empire, because you know that's how it would play out.

- Steve

As has been remarked already, we have a perfectly good fusion reactor at exactly the right place - 93 million miles away.

Good, I noticed. And? Can I plug my electric heater in that fusion reactor? I may not be a good speller, but I've had periods in my life where I've been cold and hungry and it was not fun, you wise ass.

"Good, I noticed. And? Can I plug my electric heater in that fusion reactor? I may not be a good speller, but I've had periods in my life where I've been cold and hungry and it was not fun, you wise ass."

Yes, my friend, you can indeed plug into that very same fusion reactor, and I'll bet you do it every day. You do so every time you use electricity derived from any fossil fuel, or indeed hydro or wind, if you think about it. Not to mention the obvious PV. Or haven't you figured that out yet, you wise ass?

I too have been cold (in fact, I just had to put another log on the fire) and hungry too, and no, it's not particularly fun. But that does not lead directly to "we need fusion", or even "fusion is possible on Earth".

What is it about grandiose, centralized, silver techno-bullets that so entrance people? It seems to me we need to put our attention and resources in more realistic and human-scaled directions.


- Steve

Centralized generation and transmission is more efficient, economic and reliable than your dream of "human-scaled" power production.  For a variety of reasons, human-scaled power production costs more (in a variety of ways) and is less efficient.

Read the earthvan article linked a coiple of days ago and think "lead acid batteries every 6 to 8 years".

Best Hopes for centralized wind turbines providing half of our grid power, backed up by Hydro Pumped storage  and connected accross North America instead of lead acid batteries.


Hi Alan, have you seen or read "Small is Profitable" by Lovins et al? It's an incredible book showing the myriad ways in which distributed can be superior to centralised. Economies of scale sometimes aren't.
Yes, my friend, you can indeed plug into that very same fusion reactor

Let me remind you that for the 90% of the energy I am not plugging into that fusion reactor, but to the battery charged by it. The other 10% are roughly split by what you say and nuclear. Which leads me to what happens when this battery is dead:

I too have been cold (in fact, I just had to put another log on the fire)

You obviously are a child of the modern age and I can understand why you don't know what you are talking about. Let me give you some definitions:
Cold = you switch on your heater and there is nobody there. You are currently in the unlucky stage of the the rationing regime or more likely your utility cut you off because you could not pay for it. Tha fact it is minus 10 outside of course is irrelevant.
Hungry = you can not go the store and buy food because you are out of money, or because the food today is twice as expensive as yesterday and your budget is over again.
Is it more clear now?

What is it about grandiose, centralized, silver techno-bullets that so entrance people?

Like it or not it is the centralized and grandiouse that keeps your standart of living so high. Some people call it industrial civilisation and in its fundamental lie specialisation and economies of scale. The bad things that come from it will not be alleviated by dismantling it altogether, just like the fall of the Roman Empire did not make everybody better off. Now read my lips: "No more revolutions" :)

OK all, time to stop throwing bricks at each other.  I suspect that all these nations are investing in fusion not to really make power (although that would be nice), but to develop military application spin-offs.  Like really powerful lasers to shoot down missiles.  Just about the entire fusion problem revolves around powerful lasers that compress fuel pellets to start the fusion reaction.  Lasers that powerful can be used for lots of things military.  I would rather spend the money on more wind and solar.
OT, but actually the fall of the Roman Empire did make everyone better off ... that's why it fell, because people were better off no longer making the investments in complexity that the Empire demanded to keep it going. This fits with what Tainter says, and it is borne out by historians.

At the risk of annoying people, I am going to point this out every time I see someone draw some 'fall of Rome' analogy with our current predicament. Rome didn't collapse from an energy crisis, and ordinary people were not adversely affected by its passing - all the centuries of pro-Roman propaganda we have been swallowing to the contrary.

Please, everyone: get over Rome. Our common misconceptions of Rome obscure our situation rather than enlighten it.

What is "good" or "bad" is an interesting topic. From historical point of view the fall of the Roman Empire was probably just "necessary".

The problem with the Roman Empire was not that it fell, but the way it fell. I'm pretty sure that for the medieval peasants that had to live through the dark ages it was not a great time at all. An astonishing amount of human knowledge was lost and had to be rediscovered far after that, during the Renaisance. Maybe it is my personal opinion only but for me the humanity lost some 1000 years of time, because the Roman Empire was unable to reform to match its time. Now whether we will succeed or not to do it is the question of the day. Or to spin it the other way around - how are we going to do it is the question: the good way (peacefully and evolutionary) or the bad way (wars, destruction etc.). I think the jury is still out, and the jury is us. We are also the ones to be judged and probably we are going to be the victums too.

No, this isn't right. People didn't lose an immense amount of knowledge; in terms of technical knowledge, they lost nothing. And in terms of quality of life for most people, i.e. the peasants, nothing got any worse - indeed, life sometimes got easier with the disappearance of the Empire and its extortionate taxes. What was lost was the literature and philosophy (most of that worthless) which belonged to the upper classes.

That's why I say Rome is no analog for our current predicament.

The knowledge on how to make concrete was lost for about a thousands years, useful only to upper classes of course,

Independent farmers were lost into serfdom.  The ruule of law was lost for a long time.

I couold go on.

The Fall (or perhaps the way the Roman empire fell)  WAS a tradegy !

I disagree with your hypothesis.

Best Hopes for better this time,


Alan, it isn't my hypothesis. Please consider the prejudices you have inherited in this question, as have most of us.

First though, I must correct you about a very important point, namely enserfment. This was not invented by post-Roman society, but by the Romans themselves during the Empire, and eventually became nearly universal in Roman territory. Indeed, virtually the entire agricultural population of the empire - that is, almost everybody, because almost everyone was a peasant - was enserfed under Diocletian. This appalling development took place during the empire, not after it fell.

As for technology, here is the historian G.M.E. de Ste. Croix, initially quoting another historian (Gordon Childe) but then adding his own observations on the subject:

"`... the cultural capital accumulated by the civilizations of late antiquity was no more annihilated by the collapse of the Roman empire than smaller accumulations had been in the lesser catastrophes that interrupted and terminated the Bronze Age. Of course, as then, many refinements... were swept away. But for the most part these had been designed for, and enjoyed by, only a small and narrow class. Most achievements that had proved themselves biologically to be progressive and had become firmly established on a genuinely popular footing by the participation of wider classes were conserved... So in the Eastern Mediterranean, city life, with all its implications, still continued. Most craft were still plied with all the technical skill and equipment evolved in Classical and Hellenistic times.'

Here I agree with Childe. The material arts are never the exclusive preserve of a governing class. When a civilization collapses, the governing class often disintegrates, and its culture (its literature and art and so forth) often comes to a full stop; and the society which succeeds has to make a full start. This is not true of the material arts and crafts: luxury trades of course may disappear, and particular techniques may die out as the demand for them ceases, but in the main the technological heritage is transmitted more or less intact to succeeding generations. This has been the experience of the last five thousand years and more in the Far Eastern, Near Eastern, Mediterranean and Western societies. Each society can normally begin in may material respects where its predecessor left off.'


`The `economic decline' of the Roman empire was essentially a deterioration in the economic organisation of the empire rather than in its techniques, which deteriorated little, except in  so far as the lack of any widespread effective demand for certain luxury goods and services eventually dried up their supply.'

And again, this time quoting the American historian Lynne White:

`There is no proof that any important skills of the Graeco-Roman world were lost during the Dark Ages even in the unenlightened West, much less in the flourishing Byzantine and Saracenic Orient.'

You might all want to remember also the origins of the term `Dark Ages': made up by a bunch of Renaissance Latin scholars who were essentially condemning  what they considered the barbarous Latin prose style of their Medieval predecessors. Yes, much of our distorted view comes from some people making snotty complaints about grammar. As if people of 500 years hence were to label your current US society on the basis of William Safire's complaints about language.

I hope the pieces I have gone to the effort of quoting demonstrate to all of you that the opinions I have expressed here are not unsupported. Indeed, it is your own positions that rest on baseless stereotypes and prejudices, some of which go back many centuries. The discipline of Ancient History itself is replete with these, because virtually all our literary materials come from the upper classes, and most historians simply accept the biases expressed by the authors.

Anyone who wants to read a real eye-opener about this stuff should consult 'The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World' by de Ste. Croix, from which I have quoted above.

Forgive me if I post this on a later Drumbeat as well - I doubt you will see it here.


People didn't lose an immense amount of knowledge; in terms of technical knowledge, they lost nothing. And in terms of quality of life for most people, i.e. the peasants, nothing got any worse - indeed, life sometimes got easier with the disappearance of the Empire and its extortionate taxes.

While I prefer not to make value judgements as to whether a lifestyle is "better" or "worse", I think you are rather wide of the mark calling the fall of the Rome a universally good thing. A spectactular population crash suggests widespread hardship and suffering.

On the "technical knowledge" side, Romans built underground sewers in London which fell into disuse, and citizens endured sewage in the street until 1000 years later. Almost any technology, even farming, requires support from a well organized society. Without support, the technology can not be applied. Advanced society really depends on a social stable organisation, rather than technology, but its the tehnology that catches the headlines.

(A case in point is Zimbabwe. By displacing the white farmers and giving the land to government cronies, their agricultural output has plummeted.)

It's true that the post-Empire peasants no longer had to pay punitive taxes, but they also lost many advantages, not least military protection etc, but also an Empire that brought in a lot of its food from abroad (e.g. Africa), and gave bread handouts to the unemployed.

Far from simply shedding a useless tier of society, life after the fall would have been extraordinarily bad for the majority of people. Probably the only people who experienced  immediate advantage would be those in distant provinces on the borders of empire, who got little benefits from Rome but were subjgated to its authority.

Over-complexity appears to be what ultimately causes the downfall of civilisations. In a simple sense, when you reach a peak the only way is down. We do not know if we have reached our peak yet. While we have excellent technological capabilities, we also have very complex societies which are highly dependant on stable organisation.

Perhaps the main advantage we have over the Romans is that we have the example of the Roman Empire to inform, and warn us.

The point you are missing it that life under the empire was already extraordinarily bad for almost everybody: that is, for the peasantry, which made up over 99 percent of the population. Those people were excluded entirely from the benefits of Roman civilization, but they paid all of its costs via extortionate taxes exacted via corporal punishment. They didn't go to the baths, they didn't go to the games, they didn't use the roads (they were enserfed and weren't supposed to go anywhere - the roads were for the army). The empire did not `protect' them, except in our modern Mafia-Don sense, and they could get that from the barbarians as well - often at lower rates. (Many inhabitants of the empire `went over' to live among the barbarians because it was preferable to living under the empire.)

No sewers in London anymore? Whoop. There were no sewers in the villages after the fall, but then there never had been any in the first place. The city is entirely aberrant. City life in the ancient world is not even slightly representative of how most people lived. That's why I say the collapse of the empire made no difference to most people. That is, nearly everyone.

On reflection, this is the central problem in this argument. Everyone keeps thinking life in the Roman empire was the same as life in Rome - and for someone like Cicero at that. It was not. Almost everyone lived in the country. Almost everyone was a peasant.

What you say about distributing bread applies only to the urban plebs in the larger cities. Think: where did that bread come from in the first place? Peasants grew it. Those people were not better off seeing their grain go to urban areas. And the urban plebs has its origin in being dispossessed of land by wealthier Romans earlier on. That was part of the dynamic of imperial growth. They too would have been better off without that happening.

Oh yeah, Alan mentioned `rule of law' above too - that is ridiculous. The Romans had a great private law system, but they had zero constitutional law and criminal procedure was barbaric. It was a rule of procedure that a wealthy person's testimony counted for more than a poor person's, even in civil suits. There is an attestation of a doctor being so disgusted with the corruption in a lawsuit he had become embroiled in that he left to live under the Huns, because they had a better sense of fair play! Yes - the Huns!

Rome shows us nothing about our predicament, because it is only about the top level of administration collapsing and trade in luxury goods drying up. It's not even remotely analogous to any situation we face. We would certainly be better off if it were, but it isn't. A better analogy is the Maya. Those people really did suffer - not because they screwed up their tax and rent systems, but because their agriculture failed them.

Rome tells us nothing about ourselves now - except for our willingness to believe imperial propaganda fifteen hundred years after it stopped being current. Bob is right: humans are dumber than yeast after all.

And of course you can't plug your electric heater into any man-made fusion reactor either. And, given the technical obstacles and cost, you don't really have any rational basis to believe you ever will be able to.

You might like to tell us exactly how much net electricity has been produced in sustained controlled fusion reactions, how long those reactions have lasted, and how much it cost. It is ridiculous to complain about the intermittency of sun and wind when controlled fusion reactions so far have lasted on the order of minute fractions of a second.

For what it is worth, I agree with you that we should give more resources and support to fusion research (all avenues). This is simply because we have to explore all our options carefully. But your faith (and it is that) that our salvation necessarily relies on nuclear power (and now fusion power, which we can't even control yet) is truly alarming.

Just the complexity of fusion technology alone makes it a very doubtful enterprise. Fission reactors by comparison seem like child's play, just getting some uranium hot enough to boil water. With fusion, you need to contain a plasma at temperatures well over 10 million degrees, on a day to day basis. These reactors will be extremely expensive, and be prone to constant breakdowns because of their complexity, even if physicists succeed in figuring out how to contain the hot plasma (by no means a certainty).

Fusion technology to me represents a diversion of resources away from the only chance that we have as a species, which is sustainability.

Tony Verbalis

As the saying goes, "Fusion is the power of the future, and always will be".

Our consistent overestimation of our ability to manage complexity is one of the most notorious hallmarks of Hubris Sapiens.

Our consistent overestimation of our ability to manage complexity is one of the most notorious hallmarks of Hubris Sapiens.

Indeed, consider the space shuttle- incredibly complex and even after 20 years of experience with it and more and more powerful computers, it's still just too complex for NASA to get it to space and back safely more than about 90% of the time.  For this reason, the shuttles are being mothballed soon and NASA is going to return to less complex rockets.

The same complexity issues are at play in the medical field.  In America we spend 15% of the world's largest GDP on medical care.  Despite the most sophisticated and liberal use of medical technology we are less healthy and have shorter lifespans than much of europe where less than half as much is spent per person.  Each new antibiotic costs exponentially more to discover and develop than the previous one, is narrower in application and is often less effective than the older one originally was before resistance developed.  By the way, peak antibiotic discovery occured in the 1960's or 70's. Supercomputer analysis of bacterial protein function and complete genome decoding has not reversed this trend.

True enough. But this boondoggle called modern medicine is a huge growth engine in the US economy and, along with the related financial and insurance sectors, has been an essential facilitator of many years now of continuous growth and a high 'standard of living' for middle america. Growth which of course will end at some point. Although I avoid hospitals as much as possible for routine health issues, and put little value on most pharmaceutical drugs, I've nonetheless monetarily have benefitted from this engine greatly to date indirectly, having been an IT specialist in support of the industrial/financial megasystem for many years with a really generous pay scale by world standards. As Leanan has said, I've been able to access resources and do things and live comfortably in my life in a way kings in past ages weren't able to.

Incidentally, I don't believe the medical system, nor all the other complex systems that make up the industrial economy in the U.S., will completely collapse for a very long time, but I do feel it will suffer major tremors from time to time and become increasingly dysfunctional and less available to Joe average over time.

Here in Lima, Peru, where I live now, the average citizen is very poor, but modern medicine exists and functions, and like in the US does what it does well (emergency care) or poorly (treatments for chronic illness and preventive care and education), as the case may be. But access to the system here is simply less or not available to a much larger percentage of the population. There is no social safety net to speak of; if you are very poor the government will not take care of you. In my best guess at the moment this is where I see the future in the U.S. over the next decade or two, becoming more and more "third-worldish" with occasional major financial crises and a general downward trend in material standard of living - chronic high unemployment, and longer work hours for less pay for Mr. and Mrs. and Ms. Average will be the rule.

The scary thing is, doctors (myself included) have been relying on technology so much and for so long that we no longer know how to practice without it.  Who uses a stethoscope- just order a CT scan and an echocardiogram! I'm not a big doomer myself, but if the medical system collapses in the US, a third world doctor will probably be a more effective one than a US doctor stripped of technology.
"The scary thing is, doctors (myself included) have been relying on technology so much and for so long that we no longer know how to practice without it."  

 Now there is a confession  I love to hear. I think the younger generation of docs, say from 1965, or 70, never acquired the diagnostic skills of the previous generations. My surgeon father and his colleagues think he graduated MS in '39) were great at using their hands, ears, and eys; prior to him, even taste (diabetic's urine) .  Those skills seem to be lacking now. Instead, order a whole battery of tests, despite what Gene Robins, one time chief of medicine at Stanferd, said to his staff; "If you aren't gonna do something with the test results, don't do the test."
 Of course, Dad and Dr Robins didn't have to practice as much defensive medicine as they do now, nor did they have to do tests to satisfy some HS grad sitting behind the desk  at an insurance company, who knows so much more than they do.

The older generation of docs was definitely more proficient with the stethoscope and other low tech instruments.  Studies have repeatedly demonstrated, however, that even a low quality echocardiogram is far more accurate than even the best cardiologists at diagnosing the problem.  It's a case of diminishing returns.  A stethocope costs around $100 and can be used on hundreds of patients.  An doppler ultrasound used for echocardiogram costs about 100 fold more and doesn't last as long.  To put it in very simplistic terms, a cardiologist with a stethoscope may be accurate 90% of the time and an echocardiogram 98% of the time.  That a 100 fold increase in equipment cost for an 8% improvement.  Nevertheless, you'd be crazy not to insist on an echocardiogram before ever considering heart surgery to repair or replace a leaky valve- no matter how good the cardiologist!
I disagree. The physical fundament of a fusion reactor is actually much simpler than fission.

All the complexity of fission reactors comes from the need to control a process which is in a critical self-sustaining state - which can potentially go out of control. With fusion you are inducing the reaction, which makes it impossible to go out of control because some of some equipment stops functioning. If the reactor breaks, fusion stops and that's it.

The challanges for fusion revolve around the need for a very large scale equipment and some other more minor ones like the handling of the neutron flux. Because of the phisical nature  of the reaction the safety equipment will be an order of magnitude simpler.

We have to try and find out, one way or another.

At 10 billion Euros it is worth a punt.

I can think of worse ways to blow 10 billion Euros.

See Iraq as an example.
At 10 billion Euros it is worth a punt.

No kidding.
10 Billion is like 3 months of profits by the top 3 IOCs...
Basically, that's nothing!

Exactly, ITER is still on the cheap, and constitutes the next phase after the JET.

Please, please, dont tell me this is not worth exploring.

The UK 2012 Olympic fiasco will end up costing more than this and do less good.

It is not soon enough IMO.

And despite this fusion has remained an elusive energy promise for over 50 years already, with the promise always being "tomorrow" and never today.

You gloss over daunting engineering issues that are still not solved in ways that ensure a fusion plant can run, both for long periods and profitably, as well as safely.

Yes, we need to do research in fusion but there is no indication yet that this is going to succeed thus planning our entire future around a technology that has failed to deliver for over 50 years seems rather premature, don't you agree?

I think most people miss the boat on fusion because they don't understand the engineering challenge. Probably the closest example is the jet air plane a much simpler problem. It took about 60 years from the time the first airplane flew until we had our modern jets. Assuming that fusion is 10 orders of magnitude harder to accomplish your looking at 600 years from the time we start trying to create a fusion reactor until they are perfected.

Why so long ?

Just like the jet airplane you have to walk before you can run. Right now they have finally reached the point that we know what to model to build the next generation of fusion power plants. The piece that everyone misses is that until you understand what the model is for your engineering task its pure research.  Also modeling the plasma is a serious challenge and we did not have the computing power until recently to allow more researchers to explore the models.

So will this generation of fusion research reactors be the last ?
Probably not but the ones after that have a pretty good chance to be production candidates.

Did the scientific community do a bad job selling fusion ?
You bet..  They are still suffering from the American bravado of 30 years ago.

Are we pouring money into fusion research not even close.
If we spent what we are spending now on the Iraq war we probably would have fusion in 20 years.

Unlike fossil fuel which indeed is a finite resource, technological knowledge is infinite. So, yes, technology is a cornucopia.
Are you saying the humans have no limits to understanding?? For the most part humans understand nothing. We only make observations of our reality.
"technological knowledge is infinite."

It ain't the size of the reserve, it's the rate of flow, which poses a little problem in this regard.

Take a look at the last 200 years of "technology." How much of it consists of nifty new things to do with cheap fossil fuels? Does that look "infinite" to you?
ONe thing that technophiles forget--and I never stop saying this--is that technology is an energy user, not an energy source.
Its true that the energi source is coal, uranium ore, water that might fall tol a lower level etc.

Do you realy argue that technology does not make make energy available for all kinds of efforts?

a technology that has failed to deliver for over 50 years

The detractors of fusion seem to imply that the various experimental devices built were expected to produce net energy and failed. Up to ITER none of them were. Most of the devices  built in the last 20 years, especially the tokamak types have met and in cases like JET greatly exceeded their expectations.
Look at the graph here to see how good predictions have become an how likely it is that ITER will meet its expected targets. Economics is another thing but uncertainty long in the future is no reason not to try for the prize. It has taken photovoltaics decades to come near to being economic

No one that I know of is planning our entire future around it

  Ahh... Fusion, was wondering when it was going to pop up here....Lets look at the basic physics: For the easiest reaction (lowest barrier energy), we have

  D + T -> He4 + n + 4.18 Mev Photon

After that, it is the same as a fission plant, i.e. thermalize the neutrons, make some steam and spin a turbine. The same problems as a fission-based plant arising from neutron/photo-activation are present. My bet is that if we ever achive a viable fusion based program, the powerplants would look identical to the current nukes: a large containment vessel to counter radiation leaks. Btw, Tritium is real nasty stuff. Don't get me wrong, fusion would be nice, but it not the panacea that people take it to be.

  A little known process that almost worked was muon catalyzed fusion;

mu + D + T ->  mu + He4 + n + 4.18 Gamma

lots of research but the EROEI was about 0.8. As a cute aside, muCF could be used to breed plutonium from thorium to get a EROEI > 1.....

Tritium has a half life of 5.x years.  Not a long term issue.

Some forms of fusion can be pulsed directly into an electromagnetic field, bypassing steam.  A power electronics problem with varying voltage pulses of HV DC.

Best Hopes,


Also reactions with He3

   Re: Tritium, not so concerned with half-live but permeability.

 Lots of possible nuclear reactions, I only showed the simplest one: in reality, there are a number of reactions would be going on simulataneously: eg: for Deuterium-Tritium mix:

 D + T    ->  He4 + n
 D + D    ->  He3 + n
 D + D    ->  T + p
 T + T    ->  He4 + 2n

 with some secondary

 D + He3  ->  He4 + p

The D + He3 as the primary reaction is problematic because of containment issues arising from Brehmstrahllung losses....

Tritium is real nasty stuff

The amount of tritium any moment within the fusion reactor is going to measure in grams. Even if the whole thing escapes in the environment for some reason the effects will be minimal.

More disturbing is how the equipment will handle the neutron radiation with time.

Quit already!  You seem to be a ten-year old with a fancy new idea!  Small amounts of tritium means small amounts of power!
"Small amounts of tritium means small amounts of power!"

Maybe you should read about the energy produced in a fusion reaction before commenting.

(BTW the exclamation marks don't really help expressing your points)

Sorry, kid, but I do know a great deal about atoms,
atomic fission and fusion though certainly not an expert.  And in any reaction involving matter and energy e=m*c*c
[sorry I don't know how to do squares on this site], so a small amount of tritium provides only a small amount of energy
and therefore power.
I have had a few millicuries of tritium on my keyring for years, and I am okay so far (look up glowring or traser):

Some emergency exit signs have curies worth of tritium.  I knew researchers developing lighting for emergency aircraft landing fields who were using hundreds of curies of tritium per device.  Tritium is neat, not nasty.

 Tritium (T2) is about 3500 Curies per gram (IIRC)...The paper work and safety reviews that you go through to do an experiment with Tritium is staggering even at a place like Los Alamos or Brookhaven. In fact, TRIUMF, a Canadian Nuclear/Particle physics lab, does not approve experiments involving Tritium.

  Yeah, it is neat stuff, but "industrial-scale" applications are quite tricky..

The fusion program is a modest investment for long term options. The US fusion budget is less than the nuclear physics program, 1/3 that of high energy physics and much less than 1/10 that spent for NASA. The money spent on fusion should not deter us from many times that for research, subsidies, tax breaks, and other economic incentives that are needed now for wind, solar, electrical infrastructure, fission, etc.

An optimized power infrastructure, if we were ever to be so lucky to get there, would include distrubuted and concentrated sources of power to service base  and peak loads to both distributed and concentrated comsumption of power

Why not pursue a Fast Breeder Reactor program? Would at least buy enough time to see if Fusion is commercially plausible.

The amount of coal fired plants now on the drawing boards globaly is really starting to scare me.

According to Wikipedia, there is FBR research underway in various countries. India is pursuing thorium burning technology.

The problem is, as always, the time line.  If we really think we have only 20 years to get our ducks in a row, which unachievable technology do we want to sink our last petrodollars into?

We are not at our last petrodollars yet.
We should be exploring all avenues regarding potential energy generation. Wind/Solar/ Wave: this is now about efficiency and lowering unit costs. Fission/ Breeders/ Pebblebeds: Saftey,efficiency / feasibility and unit costs
Fusion? Still a massive unknown. Shall it forever remain an unknown unknown?

Is this the new Manhattan Project?

  The question is one of proliferation for FBRs. I do agree that it is the only "thermodynamically viable" solution being proposed. Putting aside the question of weapons, the Iranians have a defensible argument that they need nuclear power capability to meet electricity demands...
LevinK: some axioms of engineering:
  1. If solutions aren't obvious, any found probably won't work well, if more than fitfully.  Long experience in the real world tells us this!  
  2. The only truly great solutions already exist in nature, and we just have to engineer them.  The nuclear fusion occurring inside the sun [and other stars] is possible because of enormous gravitational compaction of humungous amounts of hydrogen.  Please don't try this on earth!  
Wow, they make it two lines in before having technical difficulties.

"...like those in the sun...." REALLY!?!?! The sun is powered by Tritium-Deuterium Fusion? Won't the astrophysicists be shocked!

Seriously, if they can't write one sentence without a scientific error, don't go to them for your fusion news needs.

One thing I don't understand. Those who say Peak Oil is bunk seem to base their arguments on the idea that peak oilers don't take into account new kinds of oil extraction and previously untappable sources that new technology allows us to get to. And that thus Hubbert's peak is not a peak, but more of a bulging fractal that continues to grow horizontally into meaninglessness.

But haven't the concepts of 1) new kinds of energy extracted (heavy, say), and 2) new technology (constant) always been a part of the oil picture, and thus already built into the peak picture from a numerical standpoint? Has there ever been a time when oil production numbers didn't count new kinds of energy or emerging technologies?

Also, every anti-peak oil article I've read has failed to address the EROEI issue. Can someone point to an anti-peak oil article where this issue has been addressed in some way? I'd be curious to see what their response to this issue is.

It seems like it's hard enough to get the Ethanol community to  acknowledge the meaningfulness of EROEI at less than 2:1 for that product, so to get that issue into a discussion of fuels that are still getting 8:1 or better (despite the obvious direction that ratio has been forever sliding) might just be completely off their radar.

All these arguments that say we'll be fine because of 'Technical Improvements' is to me like the cat saying she has that many more claws engaged as she slides down the tin roof.

hbj -- your questions are right to the point.

I also understood that the most recent PO analysis included unconventional resources and high tech processes of extraction.

The point about EROEI is also well worth noting.

I suppose that if one decides that population explosion, consumption explosion, and global climate change are not an issue at all, then one can also choose to believe that we will find ever-better extraction processes to get boundless flows of oil for....forever?

This article by Carl N. McDaniel posted at CommonDreams entitled "Our Salvation: Abiding By Limits" seems to be helpful regarding PO in context of our ecological dilemma:


McDaniel is a biology professor and author of "Wisdon for a Livable Planet and co-author of "Paradise for Sale."

If nations are buying into the idea that the peak is 30 or more years away, then they are also buying into the idea that we will be increasing our demand until that point. Obviously, if demand is stabilized or reduced, then the peak will not be higher than it is today.  Those who argue that peak oil or peak coal, for that matter, is years away, are completely ignoring global warming and the necessity to cut demand,not increase it.

The nations of the world can decide whether we have peak oil and, in theory, most of the industrialized nations have already decided that. The debate about whether peak oil is now or later based on geological and economic factors should be rendered irrelevant if the policy is to reduce our co2 levels 5% below those of 1990.  That is, in fact the policy of most of the world.

Now, of course, if we are hellbent in just ignoring the problem, as is the United States, then the argument about peak oil becomes relevant. For the EU, however, this should largely be an academic exercise.

CERA talks of a peak in 2030, 23.1 years from now.  Hirsch Bezdek & Wendling says that we need at least 20 years to properly prepare for PO.

So, 3.1 years left to PARTY

Of cource, that is if you:

  1. Believe CERA
  2. Believe CERA is not off by even a year or two
  3. Believe Hirsch and don't think even an extra year or two of preparation would be good.
  4. do not factor in economic or population growth and
  5. have never heard of Westexas's Export Land Model.

Otherwise, a peak of 2030 is alarming and calls for action in the very near future.


If Deffeyes was right and it was a year ago, how long do we have to party?
Well, we in New Orleans have what is known as a Jazz Funeral :-)

Best Hopes for Cultural Acceptance on the passing of the "non-negiotable" American Way of Life


Don't be too hard on them, they're tap-dancing as fast as they can.

In response to your questions, what I've seen is that the deniers simply ignore the depth of research that has gone into making the Peak Oil case. This goes for our consideration of other types of petro-hydrocarbons as well as new technology.  Even though these issues are well covered in the PO literature, it is not in the interests of the deniers to even admit their existence, so they blandly assert that we haven't done our homework.

A good look at the process in place to deny "inconvenient truths" can be found in Chapter 2 of George Monbiot's new book "Heat". What we are seeing is a well organized, well funded and utterly deliberate campaign of disinformation aimed at thwarting policy change in a number of areas ranging from climate change and peak oil to tobacco smoke.  The techniques include ridicule, ignoring opposing research, sowing doubt about the consistency of the evidence and outright lying.  Interestingly, Monbiot has very good evidence that this was precipitated (or at least accelerated) by the American tobacco companies when the second-hand smoke findings came out in 1992.  The tobacco industry wrapped their debunking campaign in a "smoke screen" of other concerns - nuclear waste, biotech, Peak Oil and climate change - in order to disguise their intentions.

Eventually much of the vehicle was quietly funded by companies like Exxon who knew a good thing when they saw it.  Now the campaign is a vehicle for corporate interests in all industries that are threatened by policy change.  This coordinated campaign is the origin of web sites like http://www.junkscience.com as well as innumerable "grassroots" organizations and think tanks of all stripes (like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato and Hudson Institutes, etc. as well as our good friends at CERA).  Don't kid yourself, this isn't just some innocent misinterpretation of the Peak Oil position.  This is the world's largest corporations fighting for their very lives.

The fact that they ignore EROEI is part of the same set of techniques.  The problem is re-framed simply as one of economics - as oil prices go up, the problem becomes more soluble rather than less.  Thus rising prices are a good thing, because that increases the size of the cornucopia.  This re-framing is a bit of genius, because it uses concepts that are already familiar to the public.  We are faced with a burden of education (What the heck is EROEI?"), while they can say, "Hey you all understand Economics 101, right?  You pay a little more, you get a little more.  Problem solved."

This approach to opinion-management has been a deliberate policy of corporations since 1971.  It was first proposed by  a lawyer named Lewis Powell, in what became known as "The Powell Memo" to the U.S Chamber of Commerce.  Again, what we are seeing here is but one facet of a far-reaching, well planned effort to manipulate opinion and policy in favour of a broad range of corporate interests.

In other words, westexas' "Iron Triangle".

But, we have seen that the numbed public STILL has the ability to realize when the message does not ring true.  Witness what happened during the midterm elections.  More and more folks have stopped drinking "the juice".

Sometimes, these things can streamroll.  Public opinion is NOT a static variable.  People can change their minds...on a dime.

Yes, the "Iron Triangle" is a part of it.  The public does have the ability to see through the manipulation, but only when the evidence is incontrovertible (like the Iraq war going really badly) or a strong campaign from the forces of truth, as with climate change.  Even in these cases, the number of people who still side with the deniers is evidence of the effectiveness of the disinformation campaign being waged.  If the problem or the evidence for it is obscure or hard for the public to understand (as it is with Peak Oil), this campaign can be quite successful at slowing down policy change.

My point is that this is a very broad and deliberate campaign being waged by corporations of all kinds against anyone who would propose limits to their scope of action.

No, I understand what you are trying to see and agree with it 100%.  I just don't think it is a reason to stop trying to fight this force...no matter the odds.
Very fine post, Guilderguider. Couldn't agree more. Thank you.
/ Can someone point to an anti-peak oil article where this issue has been addressed in some way? I'd be curious to see what their response to this issue is./

I've tried to do this very thing, i.e. study the PO debate from the other side.  I love to learn and challenge my beliefs with a "devil's advocate" approach.  There are lots of sites that claim to debunk PO, but they are surprisingly unsophisticated.  In other words, I'm not aware of anyone who has made a systematic rebuttal to the arguments seen here at TOD.  

Intelligent people recognize scientific facts and realize the reality.  The rest of those left are simply double speaking as the bank account grows along with the smile on their face.
The high price will also cause demand to slow down and bring on new sources of supply, Vierbuchen said. "Clearly, the current tightness in liquid supplies results from rapid demand growth and "interruptions" to supply and not from a "decrease" in supply."

This is clearly what we saw in Texas, when we increased the number of prouducing wells by 14% from 1972 to 1982, due to a 1,000% increase in oil prices in the Seventies.  Because of "interruptions" to suppy and because we could not find buyers for all of our oil, we have voluntarily reduced our production by 75% since 1972.  But rest assured that we can and will increase our production when circumstances warrant.  

Several other regions--such as the Lower 48, Total US, Russia, North Sea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and now the world--are producing less oil (at least crude + condensate) than they produced at an earlier date, because of supply "interrupstions" and a persistent inability to find buyers for all of the oil.  

In summary, please continue with your plans to buy large SUV's to drive to and from large suburban mortgages.  The oil producers of the world deeply appreciate your continued support of our lifestyles.  

Westexas -- the historic parallel you rightly continue to point out is simply astounding!

Has anyone in the MSM done an article or radio or TV news report about this?

Who might look at this? 60 Minutes? Someone like Bill Moyers?  This element of the discussion would be helpful for many people who have no idea -- no idea at all -- of the lesson we could learn from this very relevant and recent history.

There would only be an historic parallel if KSA production was maximized 'like texas' from the beginning and wasn't jumping around all over the place as it has for the past 30 years or so.  Virtually every energy organization in the world states that demand growth was down sharply this year due to the cost of oil.  And when the global oil production exceeds demand:

Prices come down: 'Check'
Ultra-Sour Oil isn't bought: 'Check'
OPEC Production Declines: 'Check'
People declare doom and gloom: 'Check'

Please people, think for yourselves!!  Having one person do all the thinking for you is just as bad as being controlled by the 'iron triangle.'

I don't think you'd be complaining so hard if it was you we agreed with.
Hothgar, your facts once again are all wrong. Google Texas Railroad Commission.

Texas produced all out during WW II and again in 1966 to break the Arab oil embargo.  Otherwise Texas production WAS constrained by gov't bureaucracy & regs (Yes, "free market" Texas) till 1972.

Thus there are good parallels between Texas & KSA Aramco.


Deffeyes points out the OPEC was modelled on the Texas Railroad Commission.  We complain about OPEC, but we're the ones who gave them the idea.
Actually, if you take a look at Texas Oil Production, you would note that production increased steadily until the early 1970s 'known peak' before declining ever since.  When I get off work, I will make a nice, easy to read graph for you to demonstrate their production growth and subsequent decline.
Take a look at the numbers you link to. Texas production rates jumped around all over the map - up over 20% in some years (like 1943, 1944, and 1951) then down 17% in 1949 and 14% in 1958 for instance.  The fact that overall production kept climbing is not evidence that production rates were "maximized from the beginning."  In fact production rates were heavily jiggered by the RRC.
Give me a break.  Time series direct from the railroad commission website http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/divisions/og/statistics/production/ogisopwc.html

Annual production (billion barrels):
1952  1.009
1953 1.000
1954  .954
1955  1.002
1956  1.078
1957  1.057
1958  .909
1959  .944
1960  .892
1961  .894
1962  .894
1963  .915
1964  .928
1965  .932
1966  1.000
1967  1.073

Increase from there to the peak in 1972.  The situation in TX is quite similar to that in KSA - constrained production until demand finally kicked in the late 60's due to the 7 day war and depletion.

This is the same link that the person you are responding to provided.
Not an answer to your interlocutor's point. You are being either very stupid or dishonest.
He's not stupid.
who farted?
There would only be an historic parallel if KSA production was maximized 'like texas' from the beginning and wasn't jumping around all over the place as it has for the past 30 years or so.

This is about the dumbest thing I have ever read. What the hell does Hothgor think the Texas Railroad Commission was doing? They were regulating just how much each producer could produce. Producers complained bitterly about the authority of the Texas Railroad Commission. They wanted to produce flat out but the Commission simply would not allow it. Production was strictly controlled, just like OPEC except for the fact that the Texas Railroad Commission had the power to discipline over-producers. OPEC lacks that power.

Ron Patterson

This is about the dumbest thing I have ever read. What the hell does Hothgor think the Texas Railroad Commission was doing?

I'm glad that the rest of the Drum is getting to experience the kind of argumments that I have been getting from our friend Hothgor.   For weeks, he asserted that US natural gas production did not peak in 1973.

I still don't see why you guys continue to respond...
My god Westexas, you are an expert spin master.  You were referencing only dry gas production which did peak in 1973, I was referencing total gas production from all sources in the US, which peaked around 2000.  The end utilization for the consumer declined by something like 3% over 17 years.

I never, ever, ever stated that NG would save us, I simply pointed out that your assertion that the rest of the world must follow the lower 48, and Texas in general was flawed based on these observations, as total gas production world wide was never utilized as the lower 48 production was, and there is a far larger resource base for NG.

Furthermore, you never touched my observation that at some point the NG pumped back into certain oil wells will become more economic to extract then continuing to produce high water-ratio oil.  At that point, NG production would increase.

So lets at least acknowledge some key points to properly frame our debates:

Westexas: NG production peaked in 1973 based on dry wells
Hothgor: NG production peaked around 2000 based on total NG production.

Westexas: NG to the consumer declined at a sharp rate.
Hothgor: NG to the consumer declined at a very gentle rate for 20 years.

Westexas: World NG production will follow the lower 48 exactly.
Hothgor: World NG production has not followed any historical patterns similar to the lower 48/European regions.

Please get your facts straight, as I will post this quaint response every time you vent your anti-Hothgor BS.

Just ignore him Westexas, no one takes him seriously any more anyway.
Furthermore, you never touched my observation that at some point the NG pumped back into certain oil wells will become more economic to extract then continuing to produce high water-ratio oil.  At that point, NG production would increase

Uhh !!

Total US national NG gas will increase when the reinjected gas is finally produced ?

Not true for any field except Prudhoe Bay.  Periodically, oil fields are abandoned and become gas fields.  No effect on national stats since it happens "all the time".

When a $10+ billion pipeline is built to Prudhoe Bay, there will be a bump up for a few years (but not back to early 1970ss) in US NG production.  Every other field is lost in the noise.



Total US national NG gas will increase when the reinjected gas is finally produced?

An additional comment on Alan's note.

As gas is cyled through a gas cap expansion drive resevoir there is an incremental loss due to the fuel use for the compressors and for a gas plant, if the liquids are being extracted.  The net result of this is that in a lot of cases, there is not a whole lot of gas left to produce when a gas cap is blown down after the oil production becomes non-commercial.  However, the gas cap at Prudhoe Bay is so large that it will produce significant amounts of gas when it is blown down.  

In any case, this recyled gas in gas caps is counted many times as "gross" production.  I previously pointed out that the Texas RRC, which does not show "gross" gas production, shows Texas gas production as being down about 45% since it peaked at exactly the same time as Texas oil production.  

Hothgor's original assetion was that the world could replace a lot of oil consumption with natural gas, since US natural gas production did not peak until 2001, about 30 years after oil peaked.  (Natural gas transported off producing leases peaked in 1973, three years after oil peaked, so Hothgor's assertion was based on a false premise.  You can't use gas that is not transported off a producing lease.  It's like counting reserves as "production.")

Hothgor's assertion that Texas oil fields produced at their maximum efficient rate until they peaked speaks for itself.


Taken from the EIA, US gas production in the US declined 9.75% after 20+ years of production from the 'peak', as opposed to over 50% decline for C+C.  Total NA gas production has actually increased by 25% in the same time frame.  Need I say more?
Please write and post less.  You are not making a positive contribution to the dialogue.

I have learned not to trust your #s so I discount those that I do not have the time & energy to investigate.


"Need I say more?"


Please don't force me to bring out the lamprey picture again, Hothgor.
Please show your maturity by doing so.  Adds enormous credibility to TOD.
Please show your enormous maturity by shutting your piehole before you emit yet another falsehood, error, or ignorant mistake. I agree with Alan. Anything you now post is suspect. So many of your numbers have been refuted, coupled with your own demonstrated lack of understanding of what these various statistics actually mean that your credibility is negative. Just seeing a Hothgor post indicates to me a high probability of error or deliberate deception.
So you are not satisfied only to use misleading/erroneous/refuted numbers and arguments in your campaign to discredit TOD and its contributors?
I wait with baited breath for my first lesson in maturity from you, Hothgor.  So far, I have yet to see it.
Maybe we can generate a TOD posters' Declaration, that posters can sign-and-endorse, that declares the signers' opinion that Hothgor does not post intellectually honest arguements in good faith, then an editor can just post a link to that declaration after every Hothgor posting.


We are thinking for ourselves.  I'll continue to ignore you.
Oil Drum, welcome to the rabbit hole.

Your "theory" has now been anointed "controversial" by the "media" and wrapped in swaddling clouds of disagreeing "experts."

Therefore, the result can be "objective" (that is, non-committal) news "stories" that feature both "sides" of the "issue." These toothless journalistic cliches shall result in the desired public paralysis ("How can I believe in peak oil when even the experts can't agree on it?") and accelerating sales of automobiles, plywood mansions, and winter strawberries.

Welcome to the new Robbers Cave Experiment, in which one group materializes to conflict with the other because that is the way the Ancient African Savannahs programmed us to function.

If two in-groups thus formed are brought into functional relationship under conditions of competition and group frustration, attitudes and appropriate hostile actions in relation to the out-group and its members will arise and will be standardized and shared in varying degrees by group members.

It was ever thus.

So now, oil could actually run out before our very eyes and it will be deemed not the result of Hubbert's peak but of "above-ground factors."

Welcome to forever failing to mobilize at least half the population to prepare and circumvent the problem of declining oil production because ancient tribal norms have reared their eyes crocodile-like above the complacent waters.

There is no global warming. Just ask the experts. ... OK, so there's global warming. But it's not human-caused, it's a natural cycle.

Likewise, there is no coming decline of oil production. Just ask the experts. ... OK. So an oil decline cometh. But it's not because we passed your theoretical "peak," it's because of above-ground factors A, B, C and D.

Please continue to argue until you're blue (or red) in the face with your professed opponents.

As each group became distantly aware of the presence of the other group they seemed to become re-inforced in their own sense of being a group.

The only thing that facilitated cooperation among the boys during the Robbers Cave Experiment was a manufactured Water Crisis.

In other words, when we go coasting down the other side of the peak, you can count on some "action" to take place. I won't bother to speculate what that "action" might be.

In the meantime, argue away.

We don't need to manufacture a Water Crisis. We got a water crisis. Give it a few months.
So now, oil could actually run out before our very eyes

No. Oil will not run out before our very eyes. It will just cease to grow. No more, no less.

It is not "no more oil", but "no more more oil".

People will stop misrepresenting PO when it is not mispresented any more.

C'mon, ¡we are the ones that should be rigorous about this!

Re:  Beggar

Based on the mathematical (HL) technique, all of the regions that I cited above have shown lower production after crossing the 50% of Qt mark.  Qt is the mathematically derived estimate of the Ultimate Recoverable Reserves for a given region.  

None of these regions have shown steadily rising production after crossing the 50% mark, although the Total US and Russia have shown lower secondary peaks (for different reasons).  

So, what Jackson, et al, are predicting--steadily rising conventional world oil production for years after crossing the 50% of Qt mark for the world (crude + condensate so far) is something that we not seen in any of the referenced regions.

Thanks Westexas -- I was off working for the day, and checked in after working and talking with family -- hence the late reply.

I do recall discussions of HL, the 50% of Qt, and even some of the double peaks of the US and Russia.

I do not see how Jackson, et al can predict steadily climbing conventioanl production for years to come.

I continue to wonder why MSM investigative reporters don't dig into PO.  Don Shelby of one of our local stations (WCCO) in Minneapolis started a series that focused on PO, but since then, silence.

Shelby's reports were noted a couple of times on Energybulletin as well.  For example:


So this local anchor -- who produced and worked as the main reporter for this series -- is the only MSM television news professional to aggressively take on the issue and actually call it "Peak Oil."

Again -- the data is out there as well as good analysis and significant information about the changes we need to make.  The Iron Triangle....still?

Jackson and CERA are sure carrying water for those who want to prolong the state of denial.

The only problem I have with using Texas as a model for KSA is that the Texas oil was produced for obvious reasons with traditional methods. While advanced extraction methods are the norm in KSA. Thus I don't think Texas is a good model for the post peak production profile of KSA and arguments about controlling production don't add that much in my opinion to the overall production rate. By this I mean controlled production generally only reduces the production by a few % say 5% at most to shore up prices then they tend to overproduce once prices are higher. Thus the total production over a cycle is about the same. Your not gaining that much additional productive years if any from controlling production what you are gaining is a certain price for oil.

At the end of the day we really don't know how the super giant fields will decline but its a safe bet that the decline will be steeper than that seen in Texas.

My only beef with Kehbab and WestTexas is they have not done a good job of addressing the worst case scenario.

Kehbab does not take into account WestTexas's export land model and WestTexas and neither include the obvious effects of advanced extraction on the decline rates of fields i.e. the Yibal effect.

Finally on the economic side growth is the cornerstone of our debt based economy. The spread between potential demand and production increases rapidly post peak leading to the halting of economic growth in time even if production only plateaus much less decreases.

I could well be wrong but unless these issues are "debunked" I think most peak oilers have a rosy a picture of the peak and its economic effect.

And I've not even thrown in a minimal estimate of the effects of political turmoil.

>The only problem I have with using Texas as a model for KSA is that the Texas oil was produced for obvious reasons with traditional methods. While advanced extraction methods are the norm in KSA. Thus I don't think Texas is a good model for the post peak production profile of KSA and arguments about controlling production don't add that much in my opinion to the overall production rate.

Dead on! Advanced recovery didn't begin until Texas production began to slide. Since water injection began in Ghawar much earlier in its production life, the decline curve is bound to be much steeper than declines in Texas. KSA policy was to maximumize production at the expense of maximum recovery.

>My only beef with Kehbab and WestTexas is they have not done a good job of addressing the worst case scenario.

WesTexas is one of the very few that has bother to discuss this issue.  I think it would be extremely difficult to figure out equations that would address production curves relating to extraction technology and geology. One would have to construct a complex equation for each individual field since they all have unique profiles. Of the fields that we would be interested in (ghawar, Cantell, etc), the data is a state secret which makes it impossible to develop an equation for it.

My only beef with Kehbab and WestTexas is they have not done a good job of addressing the worst case scenario.

I'm going to post this one on my wall.  I think that is the first time that I have accused of being too optimistic.

Note that I have frequently pointed out that KSA--and the world--are far more exposed to a crash at Ghawar than Texas was to the East Texas decline.  Ghawar accounts, or accounted, for more than half of Saudi production.  East Texas was only about 7% of peak Texas production.

Well, yes maybe it would be a good idea to encourage everyone to keep consuming at an ever increasing pace.
No really so crazy. I think that the longer we wait until peak problems arrive (and no one does anything to mitigate - which appears likely so far) the worse the problems are going to be when it does hit. The sooner we precitate fuel shortages/ultra high prices by over consumption  the sooner we will be able to start to get some real action on solving the real problems.
So, I do think that the best solution to getting some real action is to bring the problem to a head as soon as possible. Convincing people to cut back a little bit today and pushing the problem farther into the future may be the worst thing you can do? We as a species always seem to do much better at finding good solutions to problems when we are facing a really serious crisis!
Guess I'll go drive my worst gas hog for a few hours to burn up some of that surplus fuel so the Saudis can start getting up to that 15-20 million barrels per day they keep talking about. <BG>
The US is not everyone.  Some nations are taking action today.

Germany is discussing how to reduce oil, NG & coal use from current levels by -20% by 2020.  Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Thailand, Braxil, Denmark, Chile are all taking responsible actions.  More time is good for them.

Best Hopes,


Heee...thanks for slapping the hand of reality on our US faces.  We sometimes forget there is a big ole' world outside our borders.
But Alan, can't you see it will never work? We are hard-wired to destroy ourselves, optimized for the Savannah but not for the world as we now know it! So just when those clever Germans etc. appear to have everything sorted out, they'll suddenly start hooting like frightened chimps and screaming 'Gas... means... poontang... must... survive...', then trash their whole new workable infrastructure in the interests of a US-style social and economic model ... it's in our genes, man! DOOM!


In this article, we see the sides lining up for the "Information War".  The new power play here is that we should be using all global liquids production in our analyses.  Like, it's all the same and we can just bunch them together.  It's the CERA perpetuation.

Near-term peak unlikely to happen


I read the article below yesterday and think it was a great summary of what's really being said between CERA and ASPO.  I've pulled out some passages below that make the point of the article.

Peak Oil: Even If The Optimists Are Right, Time Is Getting Tight

http://www.dobmagazine.nickles.com/columns/pulse.asp?article=magazine%2Fcolumns%2F061120%2FMAG_COL20 06_NK0000.html

CERA and ASPO believe that world demand could well outstrip conventional oil supplies within the relatively near future. And the analysts of both organizations accept that other forms of petroleum can be developed.

Jackson and Udall also agree that supply will become particularly tight if wars and unwise governments disrupt oil developments. Above-ground factors may be more limiting in the near term than geology.

So where do CERA and ASPO actually disagree?

Udall thinks global oil flows will crest within a decade, possibly sooner. Jackson pegs the crest within 50 years and not before 2030.
CERA believes alternative supplies can be brought on stream through oilsands, very deepwater reserves, condensate and gas liquids, and conversion of both natural gas and coal to liquid form. ASPO, while acknowledging that those resources are vast, questions how quickly they can be brought on production.
In terms of oil demand, the consensus seems quite clear. Since 1950, world consumption has increased eight-fold, and humanity will urgently require more energy in the near future.

In terms of supply, everyone agrees that oil and liquids supply will be likely be constrained but it's impossible to pinpoint when. Even optimists, however, think the deadline may fall within 30 years.

Why do so many here continue to think that we can change the minds of those who believe in endless growth? And we target not just the casual believer, but the high priests of the growth religion. Of course the people who run large oil companies (and associated organizations) and have become wealthy by being a part of the growth economy are going to cling to these beliefs. Hell, they are actively creating that system. Asking the leaders of the growth ethic to believe otherwise is akin to asking the pope to become an atheist. Stop beating your heads against the wall and aim at change that you can accomplish.
Just curious, do you now of a poll or anything that shows the majority to actually believe in endless growth?(*)

FWIW, I was thinking back this morning to science fiction of past decades, when birth-lotteries and similar mechanisms to reduce population were in vogue (before being actually practiced in asia?).  It strikes me that western culture has played with these ideas in much less population-dense and resource-reduced times.

Why wouldn't they play with the ideas (or even enact them) again?

* - I'd guess the more insidious question would be to ask the person on the street "how will the world change?"

I can't even imagine a polster that would form the question. Have you ever participated in one of these polls? They are insidious in the way they limit your potential responses. The typical poll question about the economy has to do with how "well" the economy is doing, complete with the assumption that growth is good.

And to be clear, when we speak of growth in this manner it is economic growth, not population growth.

Funny thing about population growth - most everyone thinks that population growth on a global scale is a bad thing, but when it comes to our own town or city we usually want to see it moving up that list of the top 100 (or whatever).

The last election may indicate that there is a crack in the growth is necessarily good argument.  There is very little dispute that the U.S. GDP has experienced healthy growth. In addition, the unemployment rate is one of the lowest of all counties. And yet, people are not buying the view that overall growth necessarily translated into their personal well being.

This observation is not strictly on target, but does indicate that even majorities are capable of subtle distinctions between the corporate meme and their personal reality. The next step, of course, is to show people that growth is composed of many things, some or many of them bad. Just because we are growing doesn't mean we are growing the right things. And look at all those abandoned trailers that FEMA bought for the Katrina victims. Sitting abandoned and rotting, wasted, their production is still part of the GDP.

T: Actually, many feel that the election results reflect a disconnect between massaged GDP and unemployment stats and the actual economic reality. USA unemployment is not measured in the same manner as German or Canadian unemployment (it is dramatically understated actually).You can google shadow statistics for more info.
If one goes by the standards of previous presidential elections, comparing the results with the state of the economy according to official statistics, Bush actually did extraordinarily badly in 2004. So either we should give the voters more credit than they usually get, or the statistics have been consistently massaged recently.
Yes, the stats are massaged. So is the vote count. Not so different from USSR.
I haven't seen this as an interpretation of the election anywhere other than in your post. Most polls show the primary issue was the war in Iraq, with poor economic performance and corruption being the other biggies.
The fact that poor economic performance is a biggee supports my point. Looking at the national numbers, there is no reason to think the economy is fine. But people were able to discern that personal reality is not reflected in the overall numbers.
I believe it suggests precisely the opposite of your point. Economic performance is an issue because the economy has slowed down. They want more growth. They aren't questioning the underpinnings of the capitalist order, they are questioning the mismanagement of the current administration.
Funny thing about population growth - most everyone thinks that population growth on a global scale is a bad thing, but when it comes to our own town or city we usually want to see it moving up that list of the top 100 (or whatever).

Not in my experience.  Everyone wants to be the last person to move in.  

Only place I've experience that is in Hawaii.
I'm one of those anti-GDP people ... that makes 'economic' growth arguments much harder for me.

On population ...

Someone else has pointed to one of those "spiky" population graphs (that go up up up to our current year).  People do this now and again and ask their audience to see a crash as an outcome of the graph itself.

Strictly speaking any such graph has at its endpoint a 180 degree freedom of movement.  It could inch straight up, sideways, straight down, or anything in-between.

The "implied" crash thing might be interesting for cognitive scientists to look at.  Why are some graphs scary?  What is it about our makeup that makes us see a sharp downturn?  Is it hardwiring for physics, that what goes up must go down?  (I seem to recall that space shuttle experiments in "playing catch" show that it is very very hard for humans to forget gravity.)

Maybe this gets back to economic growth and GDP ... as we all look at the graphs, some scarier than others.

FWIW, I think the practical range of growth/population options is pretty wide.  Nations have seen wide ranges of change in the past.  And from a strict statistical standpoint, I think non-catastrophic changes predominate.

Those population charts (and any chart showing exponential growth) have probably done more harm than good. They contain a lie that is hardly ever recognized. That lie is the presumed carrying capacity entailed in the charts vertical units. Try this for your self. Build a chart that measures the growth as 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128,256,512. On the vertical axis use increments of 50 from 0 to 500. This will result in a "classic" exponential growth with the last unit jumping almost to vertical out the top of the chart. Now redraw the chart using the same number of vertical units, but this time in increments of 500 (0 to 5000). This results in a simple slopping straight line. The difference? The presumed limitation in carrying capacity, 500 in the one and 5000 in the other. Which one is correct?

The lesson to be learned from this is that the absolute population number is not what is important. It is carrying capacity that is critical.

We could do something like calculate a world population based on China's current density, and call that a practical upper limit, but that begs all sorts of questions.  There are 1001 and one things that could happen on the way to that world-wide density: some better than others.
See: "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner
I read that back in the day .. good book.
Such as running out of oil?
Or even becoming "resource constrained" without actually running out of anything.
been a lurker some time, i rarely post, but i just had to give my opinion on this because with all due respect, i believe your point is not only wrong but very dangerous.

i strongly suggest Bartlett's lecture on the exponential function for u.

first u increase the 'carrying capacity' by a factor of 10 but u stop your growth at 512? why not continue just a bit further?

512 - 1024 - 2048 - 4096 - 8192

u will notice the chart will look exactly the same, after all its the same growth, just some more time (4 doubling times for 10 times the resource by the way) but that the gap when we make the final jump over the carrying capacity is much larger.

whith exponential growth u use more of the resource in every doubling time then was ever used in all of history before it, i'm sure there should be a lesson in this, but if u stop your caluculations when u will have used 10% of your resource base, ofcourse it's harder to see it.

You missed my point. Infact, you are actually agreeing with me. It very much is a question of carrying capacity. The exponential growth chart is misleading because it doesn't specifically examine carrying capacity, it assumes it. I can choose anytime in the past (since the start of civilization)or the projected near future and draw a growth chart and if I assume that the present day population is near the upper limit of the chart it will appear in that "classic" curve. We must stop using that curve as if it explains anything. We have to include discussions of carrying capacity.

(Oh, I was working with Jay Forrestor's World Dynamics simulations twenty plus years before Bartlett recorded his lecture.)

The idea that carrying capacity has to be considered rather than raw population numbers is just starting to penetrate the general consciousness.  What's remarkable to me about the population graph is that we could have had a growth rate like that and still be "only" in a 25% overshoot condition.  Of course, being in overshoot like that with a population that's still climbing isn't exactly comforting.
Gosh, what a nice time for me to be reading about the difference between population density and population pressure in Overshoot...thanks, fellas.
i can agree that carrying capacity will ultimatly decide how far population can grow, but i don't think this is a good reason to dismiss the problems exponetial growth can cause when we reach that limit.

oh, i am only 25 years old so not trying to convince or impress anyone, just giving my opinion. (hence with all due respect)

but simply stating one should only look at the carrying capacity and not exponetial growth does not seem right to me. ofcourse we won't reach the limit and then crash to zero (like a classic curve would point out, but i believe that exponential growth seems to be what almost every industry and species is trying to achieve, hence we live by growth and decline, it's the cycle of life and mankind is not immune to it, on the contrary.

I don't dismiss it.  I more take it as a given and move one.  Critters expand at a rapid rate given the resources, and interesting things start to happen when those resources are constrained.

Some of those things come out of human-level intelligence, and falter with human-level execution (China's one child policy, etc.)

Please use proper English spelling ['you' instead of 'u'].  We're not teenagers texting!
English is not my native tounge, and i'm part of the l337 counter strike genegeration, i'll try my best but u will have to endure some misspellings on my part in the rare posts i make.
"Someone else has pointed to one of those "spiky" population graphs (that go up up up to our current year).  People do this now and again and ask their audience to see a crash as an outcome of the graph itself."

No, we do not ask our audiences to see a crash as an outcome of the graph itself. What we do is look at biology, look at similar graphs for other mammalian populations and the result when the graph has gone this far is always a crash. Thus the thing to expect here is a hard population crash. Yet despite these facts, we fool ourselves into believing that this aberration is the norm and must continue. You fool yourself quite well, odograph. You are certain that there can't be any connection between the outcome of homo sapiens' population graph and the outcome of any other mammalian population graph that shows the same sort of exponential curve. You believe we must have other options available because the alternative is too much for you to accept.

Please, go right on believing what you do. You, and all those just like you, are precisely why the current civilization cannot and will not respond effectively to what is happening around them until it is far too late. But if you want to know why I am a pessimist, just look in the mirror.

"Men argue; nature acts." --Voltaire

Continue to argue, odograph. Nature has begun to act and your arguments mean nothing to nature.

There are some unwritten elements to that chain of logic.  One certainly is why you would not look at historic human attempts at changing the population curve through social action?
BTW it certainly mis-states my position to say I am certain about any outcome.  It certainly mis-states my position to say I deny "any connections."

I guess somehow by suggesting that there is some connection you are thinking you can slide over to that something being the predominate connection, without actually proving that?

The crash of mammalian populations when the curve is that far exponential is the norm, not the exception. The onus is on you or anyone else to explain how or why homo sapiens will defy the fate of any other mammalian species that experiences such an exponential growth curve.

And please note what I said - I said that the crash is the most probable outcome based on our knowledge of biology. All you have done so far is wave your hands, providing no substantiation to your assertion that we can defy this crash, and then try to assert that my position is not the probable outcome, again without any data.

My position is backed by biology and observation of many species that have experienced exponential growth curves. But go right on being a sophist. It's precisely that which reveals your denial of reality, denial of facts, and denial of probable outcomes based on factual observation of similar situations.

P.S. Note that homo sapiens has suffered catastrophic population collapses on local levels before. This won't be the first time for a population collapse. It will just be the first time on a global scale.

The onus is on you or anyone else to explain how or why homo sapiens will defy the fate of any other mammalian species that experiences such an exponential growth curve.

I think you've nailed it there.  In the more recent DrumBeat, there's talk of people who are married to "one big thing."  The "one big thing" many are attached to is the idea that humans in general and our society in particular is somehow special, not subject to the forces that other animals and other societies are.  

BTW, I found a nice animation that shows the exponential growth of human population in China, and then the break from it:


Endless growth, a "rising tide lifts all boats". I'd say it is close to a religion. Listen to any politician, any businessperson, anyone except maybe an MD.

What's the solution to poverty? Growth. What's the solution to pollution? Growth. Want jobs? Growth. I'm reading a book right now, Ben Friedman's "Moral Consequences of Economic Growth". Really, he's arguing that it would be immoral not to grow, even that it is immoral not to shift policies to accelerate our growth. [Very unpleasant reading, based on shifting arguments: wages are down so we need to grow - hello? But I'd expect that from member of CFR.]

Relatively few understand that because of growth we're incurring all sorts of costs - loss of the Commonwealth - instead of outhouses we have to have separate storm and sewer systems and plants to clean up our water - none of which take out the psycho drugs that are not infiltrating them, etc.... It's better to drink from a bottle because the well is polluted. Economic growth.

It might be "moral" to fight over everything. That is the ultimate authoritarian point of view. Is it Dawkins that postulated the existence of mental virii?

cfm in Gray, ME

Endless growth, a "rising tide lifts all boats"

And the rich still have yachts, while the rest of us are in life rafts.

Here in Lima, Peru, there is plenty of economic growth - the banks and telecoms are going gangbusters. Yet the great majority of the population is still seeing little or no benefit from it. It's the nature of capitalism. But as part of a large comfortable middle class in the USA it has been a bit hard for us to see or recognize, or acknowledge, this reality. Out of sight, out of mind.

It seems to me eventually modern life as we know it will have to end anyway when a terminal stage of dwindling available nonrenewable resources is reached, but I think we have several decades to go of stop and go unwinding first, as slowly (or rapidly, depending on your time perspective) throughout most of the industrialized world the population of comfortable haves shrinks, and uncomfortable have nots increases.

Is it Dawkins that postulated the existence of mental virii?

Memes.  I think they are a very useful idea.  A description of something that has been around a long time in human societies.

As far as the growth argument ... I think the strong meme is the growth-GDP binding.

GDP has a few things to say for it.  It's not subjective.  It is relatively easily calculated.  It allows comparison between regions and across time.

Unfortunately, what we often want to get out of GDP is another kind of growth.  Those politicians would very much like you to believe that a growth in GDP will mean a growth in your happiness.

Suddenly a measure that had to be non-subjective in order to  be collected is suddenly applied to the most subjective domain ... how you and your family feel.

IMO, it's a bad meme.

I'd say it is close to a religion.

I'd say you're right...and it serves the same purpose as "state religions."  Basically, social control.

Marvin Harris wrote a lot about this.  In "primitive" societies, the leader gains power by giving away wealth.  Europeans used to joke about this by saying that to find the chief of an Indian village, look for the poorest man.

As a society grows, it eventually reaches a point where the priest or the chief can no longer afford to give away enough material goods for everyone.  That's when they start promising you'll get it later, in the next world/next life.  If you're good, of course.  

Religion no longer serves that purpose for us.  Capitalism does.  Those who are well-off don't have to feel guilty over all the poor who support their lifestyles.  They tell themselves that if those people work hard, they will one day rise to be wealthy.  Or at least middle-class.  And the poor themselves have that hope - that one day, they too will be rich.  

I think there will be a lot of resistance to the idea that growth - and the upward mobility it implies - cannot continue.  And for many who do finally accept it, it may be as devastating as a person of faith deciding god does not exist.  

Well said.  Realizing that growth approaches the status of a "national religion" certainly gives one an enormous amount of context for quite a few stories in the MSM.  Like so:
(We must find other sources for water, so that our explosive growth can continue...desalinating groundwater? Hey, why not?)
Most of the growth in San Antonio has been immigration from Mexico.  So we must increase our energy & water use to accomodate them.


I'd have to take some issue with this; the city has diversified its economy in recent years, primarily in  medical, manufacturing (the Toyota plant just opened), and some call center work.  None of these have much to do with immigration, although we have noticed more of the well-off Mexican families settling here.  We've always had a strong ethnic and recent immigrant presence, so the rest of the country is just now catching up.
This is related to my coining of the term 'neo-cornucopian.'

The average intelligent person who 'believes in endless growth' when pushed on this issue will acknowledge that they obviously do not believe in endless growth, but the limits that must exist are always conveniently far into the future. This defines the neo-cornucopian; the acknowledgement of limits, but limits that are always far in the future and continually postponed by human ingenuity and technology.

<sarcasm>Well, you know, its just a matter of time till we start mining the asteroids and moon. And didn't I read a sci-fi story about hydrogen scoops that collect energy from the Sun? And when we finish with the asteroids (see the Ring World books), we should have the technology to mine the gas giants. And you, know, by then we'll probably also be spread throughout the universe and find lots of resource rich "earths" to inhabit. Yup, we should be able to grow forever.</sarcasm>
That's exactly right...limits? Us? Sure...just not now. Later. Some other time, perhaps.  We'll think of something.
Yesterday there was a long thread on how peak oil can be communicated to the masses in an easy to understand way. I think for that to happen a few questions that are out there need to be answered cleary and concisely. I have no technical or geological background at all. I have been researching peak oil for the last 6 months for 2 to 3 hours a day and if someone could answer a few questions for me maybe it would help us all. I have not been able to find a clear answer to them and mabye there is not one. There may also be a clear answer but it is very possible that I do not understand the answer. At any rate here they are.

  1. As the peak of convential oil happens how will other liquid fuels fill the gap?? My main problem here is if you take all the other types of liquid energy such as ethanol, heavy oils, and biofuel it seems to me that even if the decline happens soon a combination of these fuels should be able to fill the gap each year.

  2. As applied to question one how will oil depletion affect other industries such as agriculture, plastics, petrochemical, etc.

  3. NG depletion seems like a much more imminent crisis. I have read the NG is already in decline in North America. An article on TOD a few days ago addressed this issue but I see very little discussion on this as opposed to peak oil. What is going on with peak NG and how will this affect oil production in North American and worldwide?

  4. Is there any way possible that Saudi Arabi has more oil than we think? I have read most of Twilight in the Desert and it seems impossible that they can do what they say. Why do they insist on higher future production and that their reserves are still 260 billion barrels after 20 years.

  5. If you take all the other liquid fuels and assume as prices rise there will be some demand destruction how will that workout as convential oil depletes??

  6. At what price per barrell are we going to start seeing the US economy falter?? As I understand it the US economy is based a debt based growth. Although the debt amount sounds numerically large isn't it only like 2% of GDP currently?? I guess my real question is what will happen to the US economy and how fast could it happen.

I know some of the questions are large. I think the problem for me is and probably for most people is that there are convicing arguement on both sides of most of these questions so since I don't have a great understanding of the oil and energy market it is hard for me to lean one way.

That I think will be a problem for mainstream society if you all want to get this message out to more people.

I thank everyone in advance for any information that can better help me understand these questions.

Also I in addition I see the question of EROEI asked alot but not addressed. How does that apply to conventional oil depletion, unconventionals, ethanol and biomass?? I know that is a huge questions but I think it is quite important.
There are of course many sources for answers to these questions.  I'll put in a few words, perhaps they'll help.

1. As the peak of convential oil happens how will other liquid fuels fill the gap?? My main problem here is if you take all the other types of liquid energy such as ethanol, heavy oils, and biofuel it seems to me that even if the decline happens soon a combination of these fuels should be able to fill the gap each year.

Not likely, for three main reasons:

  • Scalability.  E.g., all the corn grown in the USA, turned into ethanol (leaving no corn for food or feed), would provide the equivalent of only a small fraction of the petroleum used in the USA.
  • Timeline.  Even the most optimistic projections don't foresee the ability to ramp these up fast enough.  If world oil "production" were to decline 5% per year, that would mean about 4 million barrels per day lost in one year, which is more than the amount of oil from tar sands that is supposed to be produced each year even by 2015 or whatever.
  • EROEI.  All of these alternatives require a much higher energy input than the older sources (conventional oil) to extract a unit of net energy output.

2. As applied to question one how will oil depletion affect other industries such as agriculture, plastics, petrochemical, etc.

Very badly, since their costs for raw materials (and transportation, and process heat, and electrical power, etc) will rise.  That's already happening.

3. NG depletion seems like a much more imminent crisis. I have read the NG is already in decline in North America. An article on TOD a few days ago addressed this issue but I see very little discussion on this as opposed to peak oil. What is going on with peak NG and how will this affect oil production in North American and worldwide?

Good point.  NG is used as a source of heat (e.g. for ethanol distillation) and also as a source of hydrogen in chemical reactions (e.g., to break larger molecules ("tar") into smaller ones ("oil") in the tar sands processing.  Coal can be used for the heat (frying the planet) but not (directly) for the hydrogen.  Many factories making plastics and ammonia fertilizer have moved away from North America to places that still have abundant NG, such as Qatar.

4. Is there any way possible that Saudi Arabi has more oil than we think? I have read most of Twilight in the Desert and it seems impossible that they can do what they say. Why do they insist on higher future production and that their reserves are still 260 billion barrels after 20 years.

This has been discussed here a lot.  The regime there may collapse if they admit depletion.  So they may be milking the max out of their position before the pyramid scheme gets exposed.

5. If you take all the other liquid fuels and assume as prices rise there will be some demand destruction how will that workout as convential oil depletes??

In my view, dry talk of "as prices rise there will be some demand destruction" is OK for Saudi princes and members of the Bush family.  For the rest of us, let's call it like it is: recession, depression, unemployment, hunger, violence.  That's the whole point of warning about Peak Oil.

6. At what price per barrel are we going to start seeing the US economy falter?? As I understand it the US economy is based a debt based growth. ...

Nobody knows exactly, but many think that the US economy is very fragile as it is, even without further rise in oil prices, due to the debts of all kinds (personal, government, trade deficit, entitlements...).  One reason for the fragility is that "economic growth", even if only at a slow rate, is seen (by conventional thinking) as vital, and the housing collapse, or oil prices, or China selling dollars for euros, any one of these can tip the US into negative-growth territory.  And the way we've structured our economic theories, monetary system, and traders' psychology, that would be catastrophic.

#6 is especially relevant. IMO this will be the imminent problem, before actual energy shortages hit.

In the 1998 Sci. Am. article 'End of Cheap Oil' by Campbell & Laherrere the title says it all. The end of cheap oil has undoubtedly happened and the predictions are vindicated.

Poorly conceived economic models have rising prices inducing 'alternatives.' This will happen and is happening. But this will not guarantee lower prices. This, IMO is the big flaw in the simplistic economic model. We may have biofuel for our cars at, say, the equivalent of $10-$15/gal or whatever. Existing infrastructure and lifestyle issues play a huge part in the difficult transition awaiting us.

This may are maynot be applicable to the problem of KSA reserves, but it may act as an illistration of non-evident thinking in regards to mineral resources.  I worked for Climax Molybdenum in the late 70's.  At that time the company recognized about 25 years reserves of econimic grade ore.  Many visitors would inquire about exploration and possible increases in the reserves.  They would be quite taken aback when told that is was not in the best interest of the company to further delinenate reserves because the future value of money made it better to invest elsewhere.  Also there were tax ramifications that would cost the company.  Consider ARAMCO's position as to reserves.  If it costs 1 dollar a barrel to find oil that you won't pump for twenty years and money cost 8 percent per year interest this means that the future value of that money is 1.08^20=$4.66.  Do you want to sink one dollar now or have $4.66 twenty years from now?
After looking at footage of oil and gas pipelines, and reading about them here and elsewhere, I can refrain from asking this question no longer:

How do they push the oil (or gas, or petrol et alii) through the pipe?  I mean how much volume is in the trans-Alaska?  I'm assuming that a certain amount is put in one end then, at some point, something is sent to empty the line.

The lines are full, therefore what you put in at one end (the production end) must come out in the same quantity at the other end (the consumption end).

This is a vastly over-simplified answer to your question and ignores questions of pressure and compression (in relation to NatGas) and also the complication of pipelines that have multiple entry/exit points or dual-directional flows, etc. But the theory remains pretty much the same - the pipelines are full, thus when you aa volume into it somewhere, a similar volume must come out somewhere else.

I guess I was assuming that the pipelines weren't always full.  Does this mean that the cleaning et cetera, occurs with full pipes?
"Students with the opportunity to attend the lectures would have gained new perspectives on energy. They would be exposed to studies showing that modest investments in energy lead to substantial gains in human welfare, including increased economic wealth and life expectancy, and decreased likelihood of violent conflict."

/ Roger W. Cohen holds a Ph.D. in physics and is the former manager of strategic planning and programs for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. He retired in 2003 and lives in Durango with his wife, Lorraine. /

Dr.Cohen may be a scientist, but to come from XOM's Strategic Research Planning dept. is a credit that will certainly keep many people suspicious of your perspectives and motives if you're offering a 'balanced view' on Climate and Energy issues.

As for the part of the quote that promises how energy promises a lower threat of violence, I'd say we still have plenty of violence, we just have exported a lot of it, and have better-insulated walls and louder TV's so we don't have to listen to the rest of it.  Also, the Civilian Casualties of war in the industrial age have skyrocketed, and  ps, There might be a bunch waiting just around the bend, there. It's just been getting saved up for a rainy day..


"Exxon has reportedly been funding so-called think tanks to undermine confidence in the science of global warming, just as the tobacco industry funded "research" to question the validity of statistical findings showing the link between smoking and cancer. Some companies even seem to celebrate the melting of the polar ice cap, because it will reduce the cost of extracting the oil that lies beneath the Arctic Ocean."  Joseph Stiglitz

Yes, today's theme seems to be "Exxon Strikes Back."
I was struck by similarities between the CERA report and comments by this XOM vice president, Caspian/Middle East region, Exxon Mobil, as if they were acting in concert -- not proposing a conspiracy here. It's just that all these guys trot out the same well-worn arguments. They have little else to say.

"Forecasts of an imminent peak in global production appear to underestimate major sources of growth in the resource base, particularly improved recovery and resources made economic by new capabilities," Vierbuchen said.
There's also been major growth in the "yet-to-find" non-existent resource base as well. We all welcome this good news. Finally, if Dr. Vierbuchen is so happy about the Caspian Basin, I wonder what he has to say about the on-going disaster at Kashagan?

Crude oil imports per EIA XL down load on 8 Nov 06.

The first are the sum * 7 for 10 weeks Sept 1 thru Nov 3 for 04, 05, and 06

705,292 - 04;  663,110 - 05;  723,226 - 06  in K of Brls.

The second are the sum * 7 for 52 weeks Nov 10 thru Nov 3 for 04, 05, and 06

3,612,763 - 04;  3,687,754 - 05;  3,696,091 - 06 in K Brls

Please file this gem away for your own reference when reading the next 'export is declining, omg were DOOMED' statement.
Actually you have to look a little more objectively. The little more than 8 million Brl increase 06 over 05 is about point 1%. Much less than our consumption increase. Last weeks imports were down 4.7 million Brls for the week compared to 06 weekly Avg.
Imports would have increased at a higher rate if we were buying oil to refill the SPR.  A 1% import increase is roughly how much our domestic consumption increased this year.
Today you are all going to help me data mine.

 I want to call myself Alpha Male Profit of Doom for Christians.   Just for a few minutes.

 As a Christian we are taught that Christ will come again in blazing glory and end the suffering and the world will be restarted fresh again.


 There are several ways we can do this, we can do this already, have had the ability to do it for decades.  GOD can do it too, never did not have the ability to not do it.  Asteroids ElE... Extinction Level Events.  Bigger ones are still out there and they are all headed to hit us, or could or might not ever.

 Nuke winter.  Global warming.  6.5 billion get the blue flu and turn into ducks over night.

 You name it we can kill ourselves in mass and do it every year.  We overeat, over polute, we complain about joe's big bad diet and not getting out there and making a profit for himself. we worry ourselves to death.

 The list goes on and one, some of you folks here do the worst of them. Darwinian frets that we humans willnever get out of here alive.  LIke DUH!

 Today I get nothing from my published works. Not a dime. I do look down and find money on the ground and if I am patient the movies hit the cheap theatre and I get in for $0.75 per movie I treat myself every few weeks to a double feature, for a 1.50.  

 There is a big bit of an under current online lately and I have been mining it, and my mail box gets about 250 spam notes a day and 1 to 2 non-spam nuggets of truth too. and then there are my contacts getting me mail as needed.


 Dan Ur means... prince of nuke( uranium ). I am into fusion, cold fusion my short stories are full of computer's coming to life and cold fusion powering the whole thing.  

 The Paradox Drive computer with IDIC profiling and vulcan heat sinks allow me to do whatever I want to do, in an easily explainable totally logical way that you can not dis-prove I have a god, and I can not prove I have a GOD and we neither can prove or disprove that I am HE.

 Take that you doubters in logic.  Logic proves I am right and so are you!

 End of A M P of D 4 C channelling

 Hi there is me dan the man pancake maker of blini and catfish and stew zoo-cinni,  sweet melt in your mouth first time made success story.

As a Christian we are taught that Christ will come again in blazing glory and end the suffering and the world will be restarted fresh again.

What does the "Christ" actually say about this?

Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

That would be around the year 70 or so, hence this is "failed prophecy."


I think the passage refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which did happen in A.D. 70 - "Not one stone will be left on another, that will not be thrown down" (Matt 24:2).
Indeed, which IS EQUATED with the end of the world and the coming of the "Son of Man."

What the Bible says about the end of the world

Argh! I foolishly plunged into an off-topic thread. I'll post just one more comment and let anyone else have the last word.

The disciples of Jesus indeed equated the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple with the end of the world, hence the way they asked their questions in Matt 24:1-3. Jesus separated the two events: The destruction of Jerusalem would be in "this generation" (Matt 24:34), while His return would happen at a time unknown even by Him (Matt 24:36, 42, 44, etc.)

Indeed, most if not all "end times" prophecy concerned the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by the romans and the end of the Jewish sacrifice/ High Priest polity- and not the end of the world as a whole.  The phrase end of the "world" in the New Testament is the same word as the modern english aeon (or eon).  In greek it is spelled alpha, iota, omega, nu (sorry don't know how to get a greek font). The meaning is obvious, but for some reason the King James Version chose to translate it "end of the world", rather than the more appropriate "end of the age" and we've been dealing with the consequences of that mistranslation ever since.  The prophecy was fulfilled when the temple was destroyed and the jewish religion never again functioned according to the old order.  Early bible commentators such as Chistostom and Augenstein rightly recognized that these prophecies had already been fulfilled.  Somewhere over the next 1000 years we lost track of that.

Fans of the "left behind series" should try a reality check here:


Wrong, guys. Read the bible.

"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

"But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God."

"Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

"Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."

Also, the left behind series is for the mentally ill.

Peak oil has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with the bible, or Armegeddon, or "no stone will be left on another," or crackpot prophets of the First Century who thought epilepsy was caused by demonic possession.

Peak oil has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with the bible, or Armegeddon....Also, the left behind series is for the mentally ill.

On these points, I agree with you, but you're the one who should read the Bible if you want to be a commentator of it.  The passages you quote, found in Matthew 16 and Mark 9 are not referring to the second coming of Christ at all but the inital resurrection.  It's introduced here:

"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things ... and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."

A few lines later he says:

"I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

Becuase the disciples were incredulous that Jesus might die, Jesus is here reiterating the fact that he is going to die- and at least one other person with him. Indeed two people standing there died before Jesus starting coming into his kingdom at the resurrection, namely himself and Judas.  These passages have nothing to do with "end times", whatever that means.  

Jesus predictions of "the end of the age"- which I am saying already occurred around 70 AD not in the future, though you seemed to have missed that point and lumped me in with the end times people- do not occur until several chapters later.  Try the Olivet discourse starting at Matthew 24.

If you think the Bible is junk and Jesus a crack prophet then you should either not make dogmatic statements about where the Bible is wrong, or if you are going to do that, you ought to at least do your homework first.  

It says that "the Son of Man" will come in the clouds.

It says "the Son of Man" is coming in his kingdom.

It does NOT the son of man will resurrect from the grave, zoom up to heaven, then "come again," later, at some undisclosed time.

Furthermore, it says "you," the listeners, will SEE him coming, that they shall see "the kingdom of God," that they shall see "the Son of Man" "sitting at the right hand of power," that "this generation shall not pass TILL ALL BE FULFILLED."

The writers of the gospels have Jesus making predictions that did not come true, PERIOD.

If that weren't enough, the original gospel, "Mark" (which was not written by John Mark), inserts this little parenthetical remark after one of Jesus' "prophecies":

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains

Why, pray tell, does the "Christ" suddenly address "Mark's" readers?

That's the author of Mark himself, inserting words into the "Christ's" mouth. Mark knows that the reference to Daniel pertains to the desecration of the temple after it fell in 70 and is nudging his "readers" to take note of it. Therefore, "Mark" wrote after the fall of the temple. Therefore, any "prophecies" made by Jesus about temples falling could easily be explained as the anonymous scribes of the time putting words into the "Christ's" mouth.

I do know my bible, my friend. More than you probably imagine.

In fact, I would claim that reading the bible is the greatest impetus for atheism that there is.

So you're saying they wrote all these prophecies after the fact, including that Christ would come again at the time of the abomination of desolation?  So you're saying this was written in say the year 80 or 100 AD and yet these scribes failed to realize that Christ's return had not occured in the year 70?  That is an awful mistake to ascribe to someone who apparently had already lived through the events for which they were fabricating prophecies.  Why didn't the scribe, with the benefit of hind-sight make some sort of cover-up for this discrepancy?  

The "let the reader understand" is not a comment from Jesus, but a parenthetical from the author, inserted so that the reader could consider the original reference in Daniel's prophecy which jews at that time believed was of Antiochus Epiphanies who desecrated the temple in 167 BC.  Mark is asking the reader to consider the original fulfillment of this prophecy in 167 BC so they know what the new "abomination of desolation" will look like.  Besides, there were no parentheses, quotation marks or even spaces between words in 1st century greek.  No one thinks "let the reader understand" was from the mouth of Christ.

The writers of the gospels have Jesus making predictions that did not come true, PERIOD

 Again, on the one hand you're saying the prophecies are only correct bc/ the words were inserted in his mouth after the fact, yet at the same time you're saying they never came true.

The holy spirit came.  the tongues of fire, came and that is the meaning of that.

 LOL got talking about it, you of little faith.

The last book of the bible talks more of the second coming the end of it all than the Gospels and the letters to the churchs.  Anything out of context can mean anything, just look at Peak OIL theory and the Hothgor and Westexas threads above.  

 Hey I am staying mostly out of it, I just wanted to see who was alive out there, I have been busy have not even read here in a few days.

 Logic says you can not prove me wrong or me right.
 I can not prove you wrong or you right.
 There are some things that are paradox.

 Look at time travel, and string theory.


I think the conventional understanding of this passage has long been that that "current generation" did see the Son of Man (Christ) in his kingdom - after the resurrection.

As to the relevance of these scriptural/religious matters, whether or not you or I think it's relevant, many (I'd say the most) people in the world will interpret coming converging, deepening crises in religious frames, whether Christian or other.  

A further note as to the relevance to PO of religious belief and practice, as a colleague remarked at a recent conference, the US (and other importers of KSA oil) are literally funding militant Wahhabist (Salafist) missionizing in and outside KSA.
The funny thing is that "end times" religious fundamentalists and PO doomers are cast from the same mold.  They just get their "end of the world" fix via a different set of beliefs.  Both get some sort of twisted satisfaction by thinking other people who were living the wrong way will somehow be punished in the end for not preparing.

I maintain that any "end of the world" or "left behind" nonsense is not biblical.  These prophecies refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish polity at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD and to the anti-Christ who would persecute Christians.  Everyone until a few hundred years ago understood the anti-christ to have been the Roman emporer Nero.  All of these prophecies did occur within the generation of Christs time. In fact, they are so accurate that Biblical Scholars do not debate whether it refers to events around 70 AD or in the future.  What they debate is whether the prophecies were real, or redacted after 70 AD.  It's a shame that so many Christians have bought into this fallacy.  To all the Christians who read this site, I say please stop all this end of the world nonsense.  Although

That's easy for you to say!


- Steve

The list goes on and one, some of you folks here do the worst of them. Darwinian frets that we humans willnever get out of here alive.  LIke DUH!

This is total bullshit! I challenge you to cite the post in which I even suggested such a thing or apologize. I have repeatedly stated that humans will survive. I have stated over and over again that because we occupy almost every niche on the planet that there will be survivors, and lots of them.

Nothing pisses me off more than people putting words in my mouth that I never uttered, especially since I believe the exact opposite.

And I really don't think this forum it the proper place for you to peddle your Christian bullshit. There are several thousand Christian lists. Try one of those.

Ron Patterson

I told you I was data mining, not doing christian bullshit.  

You have stated in the past that a lot of people will die, ala Jay hansen's (sp) dieoff.  What if for sake of the debate, Christ came up and the world ended and the sheep were put into the fold's they belonged too??  Would any of the matter,  phhht, no.  

2029 they say a space rock will be passing earth at about 2,000 to 18,000 miles, and if it hits a doorway in space this rock with get a nudge to return in 7 years and hit us.  landing sites place west coast of the USA as a possible target.

 Popular Mechanics last issue, front cover.

NASA says we can wait till closer to stop it.

What happens if peak oil happens first?
 What happens if we lose the ability to launch anything off this rock of ours, then in 2036 a big rock hits us and we suffer a bit more to boot.

What if the 15% of the sky falls down on thursday?

We are not going to be able to stop the big guy heading out way out of the sun just slowly heading for the big smack down.

Darwinian You do worry about it, you do fret about it, most of us do.  I tend to care less.  I died my fair share of times this year, I really have no care about death anymore.  Brutal that, but I don't.  By 2029 and Peak Oil and other world events a lot of us over the age of 40 are not going to be alive.

The bible should be boiled down into the 3 words that make the most since.



You watch too many movies in which American cowboys [sorry, oil rig workers] land on an asteroid as it approaches the earth and blow it up with an atomic weapon.  There simply wouldn't be enough time to do this.  WE couldn't see the rock until it was much too close to do an intercept orbit, and headon, our space craft is road kill.  You're forgetting that that piece of space rock whizzed by the earth within the moon's orbit, and we didn't notice until it had passed!  
Also, I don't think that an atomic weapon would have the expected effect in space,  The blast from a nuclear bomb is thermodynamically induced -- air is heated so much that following Boyle's law it expands tremendouly and quickly, so the blast.  For all you morons brought up on Star Wars, there is NO AIR in SPACE!
Point #1 - So why does a rocket work in space? Because of Newton's third law of motion, not because it is pushing against air. Likewise, a nuclear detonation against an asteroid would result in much asteroidal material being ejected from the asteroid with high energy. The asteroid itself then has to react in the opposite direction from the ejecta. If you fail to understand this point then your understanding of physics is seriously flawed.

Point #2 - Once identified, we can and do track dangerous asteroids and comets. This one can and will be tracked, assuming we have a civilization to do so.

Point #3 - JPL has already done the calculations on the energy levels necessary to force this asteroid into a slightly different solar orbit so it misses us completely. The energy requirements are within the realm that humanity can deliver to such a solar body right now, if we built the spacecraft. And just so you know, the energy requirements (to nudge a billion ton asteroid into a different orbit) are far, far lower than an atomic bomb.

Summation: It is quite possible to track and deflect the asteroid in question. I suggest you study that topic in more detail before commenting again.

Sir, so a 16kg bomb provides at most a 16kg bump to this billion ton asteroid, deflecting it off its track
by 16 */ 1,000,000,000 * 1000 radians.  
At 148,800,000 klicks [the distance to the sun, as you know], the deflection amounts to 2,380.8 / 1,000,000 klicks, or 2 meters.  Hum, yes, I guess it might miss.  
The problems with hitting an incoming fast moving object are enormous, and in space it will be only the matter
from bomb that will be the matter comprising the
ejecta headed in the direction of the asteroid [at
most clearly a half].  Yes, I know that the bomb will be
encased in something heavier, maybe a ton's worth of
material but that changes the direction by 2 kilometers,
a somehat more hopeful amount, but still; and this is assuming the intercept is at the sun's distance. These numbers are admittedly top of the heead, but undoubtedly close
enough for ballpark.  Sorry, there is no solution.    
Photons can, and do, move physical objects.  (Forgot name of spinning flags (alternate black & white) on top of pin inside glass vacuum.  Turn on light, see flags on top spin).  Atomic bomb gives off a LOT of photons.

Ejecta from atomic bomb would hit asteriod at very high velocity. Perhaps 1 kg at .01 c ?

Any rock vaporized from surface of asteriod would serve as propulsion.

An atomic bomb (preferable hydrogen) can move as asteriod.  Computations of how much will be "complex".


I think it is good that the MSM has started using the phrase peak oil in the last year and discussing it as one side of the argument about the future, whereas previously there was no other future than growth and more oil, etc. Global Warming took quite a few years to become accepted wisdom. We just have to wait. There are now dozens of books and web sites on peak oil. That "official skeptics" have to fight against the PO movement is a very good sign. The same thing happened with global warming, cancer being caused by cigarettes, etc. Something like Katrina will be necessary to throw the skeptics out of the so-called "balanced presentations" in the MSM as has now started  to happen with global warming. Now that congress has been taken over by Boxer and company(in place of Inhofe) we can expect a turning of the tide perhaps not just in terms of global warming but also in terms of PO as the  two are tightly intertwined economically and politically.

Senator Barbara Boxer Vows Hearings On Global Warming


November 15, 2006 2:59 p.m. EST

Julie Farby - All Headline News Staff Writer
Washington, DC (AHN)-Amid a significantly different congress after the recent elections, perhaps one of the biggest changes is at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is being replaced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

While Inhofe was dubious of scientists' charge that human's use of fossil fuels is largely responsible for global warming, Boxer, on the other hand, is a staunch liberal environmental activist.

Citing her hometown California's legislation requiring automakers to reduce emissions as "an excellent role model," Boxer vowed her priority as the head of the Environmental committee will be to begin "a very long process of extensive hearings" on global warming.

Hoping to reduce the environmental damage caused by the business-friendly Bush administration, Boxer plans to reinstate "polluter pays" fines at toxic-waste sites, which lapsed under the Bush administration, and increase oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental activists are excited about the impending change at the Senate, but realize that with a razor thin, 51-49 Democratic majority, significant progress will be decidedly slow. Melinda Pierce, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club tells reporters Boxer will likely "set an agenda and make modest gains for a time in 2009 when we have a new president."


The oil industry has been in the driver's seat now in the white house for some years and the ultra conservative skeptics on environment and conservation. It was like having the fox watching the chicken coop.  The ship is slow to turn but once  it has turned around completely it can go full steam ahead in the other direction. Let's just hope the current congress and next president as they are not in bed with big oil will be open to peak oil arguments as well as environmental arguments, although PO is in the public arena a fairly new idea in comparison to global warming.  

Just to let everyone know, I have over 50 interested parties getting notices of my blogs updates every two blog posts or every two days, which ever is greater.  In the linkages to my blog in posts here, the mirror copy on my blog gets The Oil Drums addy placed in that spot.  Just doing my little part to get you more traffic. LOL

I walked up to the main drag and did my 9 am set of stave work within eyesight of about 200 cars that passed by.  LOL the stares I got,  lol, Yes i know EGO IS BIG WARNING TRIP AT OWN RISK.

 I just do my set and I go home, people run, people walk on the side walk, I know one of them he just smiled.  Its getting the work out, by getting the word out I can bench press about 150 to 250 I think about now, goal is 350 by Jan 1 2007.  When Oil runs out I am going to be doing a lot by hand that I do with power tools now, and I am 42 I want to say I am in the best shape of my life when I am 70, unlike my dad who is in better shape than me at 70 than I am at 42.  but he was in his greatest shape for about 30 years running and no one I know can keep up with him even me, and I am practicing to be able to do so.

The edge is getting here faster than we think, I know it is, you know it is, and you might be standing still but you better not be.

 Charles e. owens jr.

OK...this might be a bit of a temporary problem, but enough to turn the decline in the price of crude around...c'mon!!!

UPDATE 4-Oil climbs above $59 on Alaska shipping delays

http://futures.fxstreet.com/Futures/news/afx/singleNew.asp?menu=economicnews&pv_noticia=MTFH6547 6_2006-11-21_15-11-37_L21764840

Prices got a lift from news that crude loadings at the port of Valdez, Alaska, were halted on Monday. High winds forced operators to suspend loadings at the port, slowing the 800,000 barrel per day Trans Alaska Pipeline to 25 percent of capacity.
From the near term peak unlikely to happen article:
Although oil and gas resources will eventually peak, peaking will not happen for at least the next three centuries, said Michael Economides, professor at the University of Houston and a managing partner of a petroleum consulting firm.
Apparently CERA are pessimists!


Shazam, CERA is pessimistic and the 2006 - 2015 peakers are just plain nuts.

Goodship: It is getting pretty good. Now some U of Houston prof has the ability to see 300 years into the future (I would assume his "yet to be discovered" amount is mighty impressive). What is amazing is supposedly someone is paying this retard to consult on petroleum matters.    
Goodship: It is getting pretty good. Now some U of Houston prof has the ability to see 300 years into the future (I would assume his "yet to be discovered" amount is mighty impressive). What is amazing is supposedly someone is paying this retard to consult on petroleum matters.    
His surname is appropriate, anyway. But most SF fans will be terribly disappointed to hear we'll still be using oil in 2306.
I love this. At three percent growth in oil production per year in 300 years we'll see about 12.5 doubling times. If we are pumping about 85mbd now then at the peak we'll be producing almost 500 billion bbl/day. Imagine pumping all of Saudi oil in about a day, then going out and doing it again the day after that, and the day after that, ...  Wow.

This reminds of an economist's statement I ran across somewhere. He said that we had enough oil to last for 10,000 years. At the same 3% growth rate in 10,000 years we'll be producing something like 10*46 bbl/day. However, as the mass of the earth is about 10*23 bbl then even if the earth were made of oil and we burned the whole planet there wouldn't be enough to last that long.

Exponential growth can be a bitch.

Re: silicon shortage:

Industry experts warn that a worldwide shortage of poly-crystalline silicon will not ease in 2008...  Solar projects will either have to be abandoned, or governments will have to pay billions of additional dollars in subsidies.

There is shortage, but if you pay more then there is no shortage?  This is after I've heard a zillion times that "silicon is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth's crust".  But you see, there is this little problem that it needs to be processed.  No more free ride on the silicon scraps from the electronics industry, since they're all spoken for, so now PV has to prove its own merit.  Can you say EROEI?

But not to worry, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe.

While arguments about EROEI for photovoltaics go back and forth, is not correct to say that the PV industry exists by using "scraps" from microelectronics manufacturing.

Si processing plants take a lot of upfront capital to get going, and the reasons for the shortage include uncertainties about long term growth (i.e. a similar crash of solar demand that occured in the 80s) plus the time to add new capacity.

If CERA and others really want to reassure their customers and the general population about oil peaking then they should not even use the expression "peak oil".  Many people, including top managers tend to get their detailed knowledge of a subject from the headline.  The more you repeat "peak oil, peak oil, peak oil" the more you plant a disquiet in people's minds.  If they really wanted to reassure and down play the concept, they should use every synonym and baffle word they can find to lable it.  Better still always refer to gushing supplies and only to the non-believers as heretics.
However I think there is another angle to be considered.  CERA is a "consultant" in the business of advising well healed clients.  At the moment their paying customers will be certain governements, oil companies and various investment advisers as well as the odd individual.  These customers want to hear that peak is not a problem and like CERA propagandizing on their behalf.  From CERA's point of view they are only doing what their customers are paying them to do.  Let us assume that the folks at CERA are not as stupid as they seem to be.  Also my cynical view of corporations is that they don't really care about their customers or the public or anything but their IBIT and keeping the share holders happy so they can pull in the big pay cheque.  They must be asking themselves: "What if we see the peak soon and things start to fall apart?"  After all they have real data we would think.  Next they ask: "How can we keep CERA going, still getting rich and keep our jobs?" Well once peaking is obvious and having an impact they will conclude they will still want to advise governments, investment types and maybe non-petrolium industry.  If they are actually selling the advice that their press release is hinting at then they have written off big oil as a customer down the road. Perhaps they are actually telling them "the peak is coming sooner, we are holding the public and governments at bay to give you time to adjust.  So get moving into non-conventional hydro-carbons and diversify into things like renewables".  In any event, by mentioning "peak oil" they can say in the future that they were the first to talk about the peak or some other spin and they should be trusted for more advice on the down slope.  I know this is just ignorant speculation but consultants, like lawyers, always believe they are smarter than everyone else, including their customers.  
I think you've hit it square on the head.  The mere fact that they are naming it (Peak Oil) and talking about an "opposing" camp is flushing it out into the open.  

The article above, Peak Oil: Even If The Optimists Are Right, Time Is Getting Tight, fits right into this hypothesis.  CERA is starting to say, "We also see a problem pretty soon, but with a lot of planning and ingenuity, we can mitigate before things go badly."  This, to me, is a huge admission being fed to the masses.  It is a slow, gentle introduction to the inevitable.  Easily swallowed and far enough away not to cause TOTAL panic.

Of course, what will probably happen is that as each year goes by, CERA will move there prediction back a bit and ASPO will move theirs up a bit until we hit that magical average somewhere in between.

The cryosphere is not looking that good this winter.


I esp don't like the slop change in the freezing rate.
It's to the point now that ice cover is about two week behind even the new abnormal slowdown.

Given that freeze up has been happening two weeks later and thaw two weeks earlier the addition of this winter slowdown is bothersome.

I think we have officially added a new open ocean to the planet.

Pretty much, memmel, we seem to have done just that. Replace all energy previously reflected by high albedo ice with open water which soaks up even more solar energy and the situation may already be self-sustaining, driving us to year round open Arctic Ocean access in the near future. This is one of those positive feedback loops that the ecologists have been discussing when the phrase "tipping point" gets used.
Yes, Svalbard is again surrounded by open sea at the moment.
Since we're all on the same page here someone look at the ice image for October 29 and again for November 16. WTF?
I once would've called it imaging/computer error but now it's WTF?
NYT has a good story on electricity "markets," which are flawed in oh so many ways. But one good piece ties into the question of how oil markets work or don't, and understand the functioning of electricity markets are incredibly transparent compared to oil markets.

But critics of the current system have found ammunition in a study at Carnegie Mellon University by Sarosh N. Talukdar, who used computer models to simulate a market in which 10 utilities bought electricity and 10 producers sold it.

In that experiment, the buyers and sellers learned to manipulate the price within 100 rounds of bidding, capturing from 50 percent to 90 percent of the prices an unregulated monopoly would have charged. Instead of falling, prices soared.

"My studies show it is easy to learn from the signals given by others how to get the benefits of colluding without breaking the law," Professor Talukdar said.

"unregulated monoply" that's pretty much the oil industry.

   The Hubbert peak concept seems to have been confirmed, since it was advanced, in a number of areas outside of Texas: Alaska, the North Sea, and according to many experts Saudi Arabia.  In contrast the CERA report suggests that it's all bunk.  It is said that the CERA study includes "unconventional oil" like tar sands, oil shale and natural gas liquids.  Are clathrates also included under that head?  It follows that a somewhat diffuse "peak" may occur in 30 or 50 years -- or never, depending on new technologies for discovery, extraction or processing.  This is all a great comfort to those who favor continued , even exponential, economic growth (stay the course), and who choose to ignore ongoing climate change and widespread planetary degredation.
   People whose attention and professional as well as personal studies span many years -- Simmons, Deffeys, Brown, Heinberg, and not a few TODers, have come down on a relatively contemporary peak, in the range of 2003 to 2012 or so.  As a mining geologist, I cannot qualify as an expert on matters of oil, but my recent studies on oil and climate lead me to accept the view that an oil peak is near or even past.
   Today's discussion has mentioned "above-ground factors" that can influence the timing or recognition of a peak.  Patricular examples are oil shale and tar sands.  Both need technological fixes so that the production of usable oil might become feasible, economically and in with respect to EROEI.  As of now, both require use of, and polluting of, prodigious quantities of water and use more energy than can be produced.  Both would effectively destroy vast areas of land and forest during extraction, a value generally discounted in strip mining projects.
   "Keep on truckin" on the way to worship the great god of growth.
Britain Nearing End of Natural Gas Self Sufficiency as Outlined in New Edition of Utility Market Report
What do they mean nearing end?
Net UK Natural Gas imports:-
2005                    7.18 billion cubic metres
2006 Jan-Aug    5.59 billion cubic metres
Pemex has published the latest statistics for Mexican oil production: in October, production was 3,173,000 bpd, down 85,000 bpd on September and down 48,000 bpd on October last year.

Production has now been below 3,300,000 bpd for five months in a row.

Looks like PEMEX is dropping bigtime. Results for October just out.
They're down 6% in six months!  I just did a graph for the Totals column - the signs are there for all to see.  They had a decline of about 2% over two years (from eyeballing the trend), then an abrupt downturn starting in May of this year.  That's not enough time yet to be conclusive, of course, but the change in trend is remarkable - it looks like it broke from 1% pa to about 12% pa in May.

Does anyone remember when the rumblings of a Cantarell crash first surfaced?

Their highest production was in mid 2003, very gradual, bumpy decline since, but the last few mos has really started getting my attention. They haven't been this low for years except for 1 month last year when they shut down for hurricanes.
I should also note that oil exports (almost all to US) are down over 10% for the last 4 mos compared to the last 3 mos of 2005.
If I did the math correctly, poor Europe and Asia are getting the shaft here:

Month by Month Comparison (2005 vs. 2006 - Jan to Oct)

Exports to Europe = -343,000 barrels
Exports to Asia = -36,000 barrels

Just to be fair, below is the math for America.  Seems like we are taking away from Europe/Asia to feed the US appetite:

Month by Month Comparison (2005 vs. 2006 - Jan to Oct)

Exports to America = +522,000

Good. This is why we need to stop looking at US imports when we evaluate the export model as discussed by westexas. Clearly total exports from Mexico are falling very fast, faster even than production, but according to your data, looking at it from the US import side one lead one to believe Mexico is actually being able to increase exports.
Yup...we need a global export balance sheet somehow.

Westexas...is there any way to get at that kind of data from the top exporters like the PEMEX spreadsheet displayed...exports to specific regions?  

That would really hone in on the nuts and bolts of the situation on the world stage.

Or Europe isn't wasting its money, and instead is incresing efficiency/conservation?

Naw, that can't be it - it must be that Americans are too smart to use less oil while living well, so they spending their money buying something which they then burn up. Taken from the classic defintion of how to get rich, according to the bible of ExxonMobil.

I believe it was last fall when the internal Pemex memo was leaked to the outside world. It was reported at Energy Bulletin in March but perhaps someone who has it bookmarked can give us an exact date on the original leak? I think there was a webcast that covered it right off the bat.
I think the date of the news items might have been December 9, 2005.  The articles are here:


The Wall Street Journal first wrote this up a couple months later, on February 9, 2006. It is here for anyone who has a subscription. Here is a free graphic from their article:

Oilcast # 28

The date says Nov. 30 2005.  Its too bad Oilcast went under.
Looks like Cantarell is down 287,000 b/d since its peak 2 years ago.  So they're depleting at about 4 - 5% / year so far.
Please allow me to nitpick. They are declining at that rate. Depletion of the oil in place begins from the first barrel drawn - you are depleting the reserve. Depletion happens whether production is rising or declining, unless you believe in abiotic oil renewing itself faster than we withdraw it.
Give cynus a break, GZ. We know what he means. Save it for the CERA, XOM, MSM people who really deserve it.

-- Dave

I do think it is helpful to have a gentle reminder in terms of our terminology so that we use it consistently and correctly. It is part of the overall educational benefit one gets when participating on TOD. However, I would have been much more gentle in my approach. It takes awhile to get the nomenclature and I remember back when I became clear on the useful distinction between depletion and decline. Many people still use the terms interchangably, so no surprise it gets confusing. As you said, I had no problem understanding what he meant.
At least you guys are all discussing oil depletion unlike the Seven Seals or Dead Sea Scrolls wackos up the blog. Why are so many Bible freaks attracted to TOD? They should be careful- I watched a fascinating documentary yesterday-WACO:RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. David Koresh was also a Bible expert and the US guv didn't exactly treat him with kid gloves.    
I'm with you.

It's "TOD" not "GOD."

I know that many of us understand the intended meaning but it helps to get our terms clearly and precisely defined so that we actually can communicate to newcomers exactly what we mean. It's like "oil" - what do we mean? Just crude? Crude and condensates? etc.? Clarifying ourselves to others makes our ideas more readily accessible to others.
But of course, this news that PEMEX is tanking has nothing to do with the price of crude going up over $60 today.  It's all due to some Alaska port problems:

UPDATE 6-Oil rises to $60 on Alaska port problems

http://futures.fxstreet.com/Futures/news/afx/singleNew.asp?menu=economicnews&pv_noticia=MTFH7193 8_2006-11-21_19-16-26_L21764840

Turns Out, Seattle Isn't So Green: How About Your City?
Nickels is pushing Seattle backward. Last year, he worked his political will to help kill a 14-mile monorail line, abandoning two remote parts of the city that are ill-served by transit and dooming Seattle to a future in which a single light-rail line and slow, stuck-in-traffic buses are the only available transit options. And despite pledging in his climate plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 170,000 tons by "reducing Seattle's dependence on cars," he continues to push for $4 billion-$5 billion tunnel to replace the city's aging Alaskan Way Viaduct on the downtown waterfront-a position that only compounds his failure to stand up for transit. The underground freeway would provide capacity for 140,000 cars a day --the equivalent, coincidentally, of the 170,000 tons of auto-produced carbon Nickels says he wants to eliminate annually. No other city in the nation is building a freeway on its waterfront; in fact, the prevailing trend is to tear freeways down, as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Portland, Oregon, New York City, San Francisco, and other cities have done.

This car-centric viaduct policy is the cornerstone of Seattle's global-warming hypocrisy. The only environmentally responsible position on the viaduct is to tear it down and replace its capacity with improvements to surface streets, bike lanes, and transit.

Hello TODers,

Recall my expressed desire that 60-75% of the US labor force needs to move to relocalized permaculture, and postings supporting growing food shortages.  Please consider this latest Bloomberg link:
Corn Rises as Argentina Halts Exports to Conserve Supplies

By Jeff Wilson

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Corn prices in Chicago rose more than 3 percent, extending a rally to a 10-year high, as Argentina, the world's second-biggest exporter, halted new orders for shipments.

The suspension on exports from the crop that will begin to be harvested in February allows the government to audit orders for 10.5 million tons, Agriculture Secretary Miguel Campos said on Nov. 17. Argentine consumers will use 8 million tons of the estimated crop of 17.5 million tons, Campos said. The price of corn in the U.S., the biggest exporter, has jumped 86 percent form a year ago.

``The Argentine suspension has refocused attention on declining world supplies available for export and may increase demand for U.S. corn,'' said Gregg Hunt, a market analyst for Fox Investments Inc. in Chicago. ``The market acts like end users don't have enough corn.''
It only makes sense to me that food & water shortages will be the leading edge of decline, eclipsing PO + GW in the MSM, because of Malthusian Overshoot Economics re-asserting themselves.  The great masses may never understand PO + GW, but they sure understand hunger + thirst.

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

Hello TODers,

Many prominent Peakists have compared using natgas in the Canadian tarsands as a process akin to turning gold into lead.  As we need to transition to 60-75% of the labor force to relocalized permaculture, most will be initially unsuccessful unless they can enhance their crop's yield with petro-fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides until organic recycling methods prevail.  

Recall my earlier postings suggesting for geo-strategic reasons: we should be turning North American natgas into  petro-fertilizer; a process akin to turning gold into sparkling diamonds of ammonium phospate & sulfates.

The off-shoring of fertilizer production to those countries with large reserves of cheap, easily extractable natgas will give them massive economic power to force us to ship them ever greater quantities of foodstuffs for correspondingly lesser amounts of fertilizer to plant for the next cropping cycle.

Yields w/petro-fertilizer = 150 bushels/acre
Yields without/petro-fertilizer = 30 bushels/acre

It may take 30 years for sufficient expertise & processes to arise for truly organic permaculture to approach the easy yields provided by the easy application of mechanized petrol-farming.

Do we really want to give Russia, KSA, UAE, Qatar, etc, a five-to-one economic lever advantage over our food supplies?  Perhaps with the US currently being the #1 food exporter: we need to consider a FOOD OPEC to try and re-equalize this obvious economic disparity?

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

Hello TODers,

Just did a quick google of grain exports, or more accurately, the lack of exports.  Countries concerned about selling any surplus include:

Ukraine: see my earlier posting where three ambassadors decried this grain export restriction.

Australia: due to massive drought.

Now, Argentina: see posting above in this thread.

India is considering halting exports, see this link:
NOV 17:  India may accede to a demand from poultry farmers and other users of corn to ban exports of the grain amid a domestic shortage caused by a fall in production, trade minister Kamal Nath said on Friday.
India may import corn for the first time in five years to meet a shortfall of at least 1 million tonne.

Production may fall 15% from a year earlier to 12.8 million tonne, Amol Sheth, president of All India Starch Association said on November 13.

Canada: a problem w/toxic molds could stop grain exports:
Other countries could stop accepting Canadian produce unless we find a way to reduce the levels of a toxic mould found in wheat and oats, experts warn.

Vietnam suspends grain exports:
Vietnam, the world`s second-largest rice exporter, has halted overseas shipments to secure supplies of the staple grain after floods and insect plagues reduced output, an official said Monday.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had announced only export contracts already signed with Indonesia and Cuba -- whose ships were now docked in Vietnam -- would go ahead, an official at the government`s office said.

"The prime minister made the decision to ensure food security for the nation," the spokesman added.

I am sure there are others, but I think you get the picture.
Most countries don't want to be like Zimbabwe, which at one time was the breadbasket of Africa.  The American topdogs desire to ship our topsoil overseas will lead to disaster here at home.  I suggest we think harder on relocalized permaculture and how we shift most Americans to growing a Victory Garden, as Eleanor Roosevelt did in the White House.

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

You've got a whole series of posts here. A general reply.
The country by country breakout includes one-off problems that may be resolved and some that bode to be chronic. My two cents is the chronic issues are the big ones. Long term Australia gets drier, India gets drier.
Which link am I on? Anyway Lester Brown is now putting gross consumption 73 million tons over production, That leaves a 42 day reserve after we eat through the last harvest. Or more than one quater of the reserve gone in a year. This is too slim for markets to continue business as usual. Corn at $3.79 is only a beginning. Availability at any price to be the issue.
If you did a ten year time series of Vietnamese rice exports, you would realize that you are shooting yourself in the foot, by depending on news clips for your "research".

Last decade, Vietnam was a rice importer because of bad government policies. After the government liberalized rice production and allowed farmers to capture the benefits of their work, rice production soared. Vietnam is now one of the top three exporters of rice. Yes, there were poor harvests this year, but rice production has ups and downs. Next year, production could boom.

For the last two years Thailand had droughts and sugar production was down more than 10% from the long-term average. This year, the rain was back and the country had a bumper harvest, up over 20%.

Your clippings are noise, not news.

Have you got data on Vietnam's energy exports and imports, including petroleum products?
No. But I imagine either of us could find it fairly easily.

Are you suggesting it is a significant factor in fluctuations of Vietnamese rice production?

Hello Jack,

Thxs for responding.  True, looking at just one country isn't ideal, but I am trying to paint a global picture on water & food supplies with my mini-thread.  The experts, who know this situation far better than me, are worried about the 57 days of global grains.  They say this is below a comfortable safety margin of adequate reserves, and PO + GW + Overshoot will only make this worse.

If you have good ideas to raise this #days of supplies, and feed the approx. 900 million currently malnourished or starving a healthful diet, and continuing the corn SUV--I am sure the UN food aid orgs would like to read your postings. A JIT market philosophy should not be the model for food.

May I suggest you start by trying to model the planting, growing, harvesting, and moving to the markets: a grain crop in less than 57 days?

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

My point is that the picture you are painting in your mini thread is a flawed one, due primarily to unsystematic and biased data selection. You picked Vietnam because it supported your point, but not Thailand, because it didn't. Or maybe because the media that you are depending on doesn't write stories about good harvests.

In any world in which a portion of the countries are doing great, a portion average and a portion badly, it is a simple matter to cherry pick data to support whichever point it is you want to support.

Similarly, there are tons of experts in the world. You may see a lot that are concerned about shortening days of food in storage. Again, this seems to me to be biased sampling. I think it is an artificial issue with little real meaning. I don't see that many experts getting as excited about it as you are.

I also don't see that there is any logical foundation for linking the growth to market time period with the days of supply in inventory. Perhaps you could explain why that metric is the one you think is important.

As long as the world produces more than it consumes and doesn't go an entire 57 day stretch with zero production, it should be fine. The world is a big place and harvests happen continually. Before world trade, people may have depended on one harvest per year and had no access to resources in the interim. Then food in storage made a big difference.

I probably have about 16 hours worth of food stored in my apartment right now. The food takes months to grow, harvest, ship, process, stock, etc. Call me a techno-optimist, but I can't help feeling fairly confident that the market will provide.

"As long as the world produces more than it consumes".
It doesn't. It hasn't for 6 of the past 7 years. Which has been cited so many times on this page you'd think someone might have picked up by now.
For Jack, here is a reference just so you can see what's happening. Harvests continue to grow but not at a rate sufficient to match population growth resulting in consumption exceeding harvests in every year since 2000 except one and driving down grain stocks generally.

Bob Shaw is not cherry picking data when the entire world consumes more than is produced 6 out of 7 years.

Quote: `Perhaps with the US currently being the #1 food exporter: we need to consider a FOOD OPEC to try and re-equalize this obvious economic disparity?'

Yeah, yeah!
This is exactly what would play in Russia's favor. This year a grain export from Russia is projected at around 8-10 million tons and the government plans to increase it to 50 million tons in 10 years and also to squeeze the american meat and chicken exporters out of the russian market. (The recent deal with the US on Russia WTO accession envisages sharp increase in state subsidies to the agriculture in the next few years.)
So, yes, go ahead, form the FOOD OPEK, restrict the american food export. Russia will be the winner.

Such cartels as OPEK are effective only in the non-renewables' markets.

Hello RussFag,

Thxs for responding.  Thxs for helping me prove my point that all areas need to relocalize their water & food production to what their local carrying-capacity can naturally support in the coming postPeak era.  If we humans don't do it, Nature will re-equilibrate for us--it doesn't matter where you are located.  I would prefer that the world mitigates to try and stay one step ahead of the Grim Reaper's Swinging Scythe.

For example: Phx, Vegas, and other Southwest cities are mostly toast, much like the areas around Russia's Aral Sea, or more accurately, Aral Desert.  Some areas will be winners, some will be losers--Such is life.

If Russia decides to export it's topsoil for short term benefits, that is their choice, but they will pay for it in the long run.  I would suggest a smarter strategy is too keep what topsoil you have as it replenishes verrry slooowwwly.  The US shipping concentrated topsoil to Russia in the form of meat & poultry exports is disadvantageous to our future food security in the long run too, but obviously profitable to short-term greed by the US agro-corps.  I agree, it would be better for both the US & Russia to locally grow their own food--this is how mankind has lived for most of our existence-- PO + GW will reassert this paradigm.  

Consider that Vietnam, which, on average, has a naturally higher rainfall and a higher biologic growth rate due to it's geo-location than either the US or Russia, has decided local food sustainability is more important than profits.  I think this is a wise decision.

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

Hello TODers,

Consider Garret Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons writings:

"As a result of discussions carried out during the past decade I now suggest a better wording of the central idea: Under conditions of overpopulation, freedom in an unmanaged commons brings ruin to all."

"We can maximize the number of human beings living at the lowest possible level of comfort, or we can try to optimize the quality of life for a much smaller population."

"I argue that we would do well to accept 'Thou shalt not exceed the carrying capacity of any environment' as a legitimate member of a new Decalogue. When for the sake of momentary gain by human beings the carrying capacity is transgressed, the long-term interests of the same human beings - 'same' meaning themselves and their successors in time - are damaged."

Much as I am horrified and saddened by the potential starvation and violence looming ahead, I think it is vital that the sooner we induce relocalization, the better off we will be in the long run.  Policies that cause Demand Reduction should be preferable to Demand Destruction every time.  I think we owe it to the kids ahead to try and optimize the squeeze through the Dieoff Bottleneck.

All food exporters, including Russia, should discuss how a food cartel can be beneficial in the long run for future carrying capacity--I think we need to at least try to hedge our bets against Mother Nature.  

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

Quote: `I agree, it would be better for both the US & Russia to locally grow their own food--this is how mankind has lived for most of our existence-- PO + GW will reassert this paradigm.'

Why only food? Just apply this logic to the entire economy - textiles, cars, planes, plastic crap - you name it. Why is there economic specialization? Just give up all the international trade and live/work locally.

Bob Shaw says
"we should be turning North American natgas into  petro-fertilizer"

One way or the other....

What most Americans seem to be ignoring, even those in the peak aware community, is that the demands on natural gas are becoming overwhelming, and soon...the path we are now taking seems to be one of using natural gas as a "cleanser-stretcher" of various dirtier fuels.

What we are doing now is building, in essence, a "hydrogen industry" based on nat gas to make tar sand, Diesel fuel, gasoline from high sulfur sour crude, and even the "bio-fuel" ethanol sector workable.

The whole scheme is based on 1997 type numbers that we would have "cheap and abundent" natural gas on out to something like 2050,  projections which are now seen as far fetched as current projections by the DOE of crude oil below $100 out to 2030 will be seen in only a few years.

Recently, in testimony before Congress, the National Chemistry Council and others stressed the absolute need for cheap natural gas to continue making ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) and pointed that without a steady supply of affordable nat gas, continuing to maintain ULSD supply would be impossible.

This is a major shock, in that most people do not know that the nations formerly "low grade" and simple to process Diesel fuel has now become something of a hydrogen based natural gas fuel.  What we now have is our backbone fuel relient on BOTH natural gas supply and price and crude oil supply and price.  This of course has always applied to tar sand oil, and to a lesser extent, gasoline extracted from heavier sour crudes.  

The complex 'tripwire" system we are building is becoming more, not less fragile with each passing day.
It looks like we are having to build that "hydrogen economy" by the back door, whether we like it or not!

To your point of converting the natural gas to fertilizer, I see nothing wrong wth it, it in effect increases the size of our natural gas strategic storage....the problem, if we aim to do it, is we better get started soon, because between ethanol, ULS Diesel, gasoline de-sulfuring of heavy sour crudes, and of course tar sand....oh, and did we mention we still aim to make electric power and home heating with the stuff, and the chemical and plastics industry of course...folks, we have spent the same foot of natural gas about a football fields worth!  

The ONLY thing almost every branch of the energy/industrial sector can agree on is that without an at least marginally affordable and dependable natural gas supply, we are screwed....this is why Matt Simmons keeps saying the gas crunch could be MUCH more serious and pressing than crude oil.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

The ONLY thing almost every branch of the energy/industrial sector can agree on is that without an at least marginally affordable and dependable natural gas supply, we are screwed....this is why Matt Simmons keeps saying the gas crunch could be MUCH more serious and pressing than crude oil.
I think this is going to be a big problem.  I find it highly suspect the U.S. can maintain a 1.5% NG decline rate and even if it can we still have shortages on the books in the near term.
Your article from Bloomberg puts sorn consumption 35 million tons above corn production.
If correct (I think it is) this situation cannot last long.
Not sure if this has been picked up yet on the feeds, very good article on oil (tar) sands:


Excellent, thanks. If CERA actually wanted any credibility, they would take on articles like this on a point-by-point basis using data.
"Saudi Sees 20% Growth in Gas Reserves Over 10 Years"

In related news Al-Naimi announced that he ate beans for lunch.

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.
The biggest problem will be with the natural gas electric generators and the coming blackouts.  It will get interesting if the farmers almanac is correct in predicting a cooler than normal winter.
Hello TODers,

Please consider reading this whole article in this link.
Exploding U.S. Grain Demand For Automotive Fuel Threatens World Food Security And Political Stability

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Nov. 6 -E-Wire-- "Now that the year's grain harvest is safely in the bin, it is time to take stock and look ahead," writes Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute.

This year's harvest of 1,967 million tons is falling short of the estimated consumption by 73 million tons. This shortfall of nearly 4 percent is one of the largest on record.

In six of the last seven years world grain production has fallen short of use, drawing world grain carryover stocks down to 57 days of consumption, the lowest level in 34 years. The last time they were this low wheat and rice prices doubled.

This clash between motorists and people over the food supply is occurring when 854 million of the world's people are chronically hungry and malnourished. The U.N. goal of reducing by half the proportion of people suffering from hunger by 2015 is now failing as the number who are hungry edges upward, and it could collapse completely in the face of the food-for-cars onslaught.
We may see shocking levels of global starvation and violence in the year ahead, especially if crop failures continue their present trends.

I am in favor of a permaculture draft, not a military draft, to help jumpstart the 60-75% labor shift to relocalized permaculture and redesigned urban living using the ideas of Heinberg, Kunstler, AlanfromBigEasy, et al, along with serious consideration given to my Spiderman web-rider ideas.  If this is not done soon, I remain a fast-crash doomer in beliefs, but I am certainly not advocating for the worst alternative to predominate.  Time will tell.

Will the next seven years of harvest be like the last?

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

Re: Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Well, Bob, today's answer is an emphatic NO based on what I've read and heard (outside TOD).

I've always wanted to comment on that quote.

It seems to me not just facetious, but the wrong question.

Rather: "Are human beings exempt from the laws yeasts are subject to?"

I imagine that grain could be the issue that will cause the US to disintegrate.

Imagine if the US didn't produce enough grain to feed itself, importing was impossible, and the states with a surplus refused to share it with those with a deficit.

Hello Hurin,

Thxs for responding.  Good point, but please expand your thoughts to include every local place on the planet will locally disintegrate until a new local equilibrium is reached due to local water & grain shortages.  Liebig's Law is a real bitch to overcome when shared carrying capacity starts to go to near zero without cheap detritus energy.  Try to think 20-100 years out or more if all the required multitudes of techno-cornucopian breakthroughs fail to save our sorry asses.

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

Local water shortage? Not here in the US:


River level worries K.C. utilities
The Associated Press
Published Monday, November 20, 2006  

Kansas City -- Area utilities are concerned about the Missouri River's depth, saying they could have to turn on emergency equipment if the river drops a few more inches.
"We're about a quarter of a foot away from that point," said Tom Schrempp, production manager for Johnson County, Kan., Water District No. 1, where record lows at the district's water intake have left the suburban Kansas City district monitoring flows daily.

Hello Charles Mackay,

Thxs for this link.  I don't know much about the Missouri River--does a lot of grain and coal move by barge?  Wikipedia linkdoesn't give much detail, but this link says:
Missouri River shipping halted

ST. LOUIS - Low water levels caused by a persistent drought have halted commercial navigation on the Missouri River for the fourth year in a row.

"The upper part of the Missouri basin has been in drought for seven years," said Paul Johnston, spokesman for the Northwestern Division of the Corps, which regulates the river.

The Corps plans to use dams and reservoirs to store up water over the winter months so flows will be stronger when the next shipping season starts April 1.

Local barge operators already have reduced their loads.

"That is the last thing we need because we are right in the middle of harvest season," said Ed Henleben, St. Louis operations manager for Nashville-based Ingram Barge Co. "We can make the adjustment and we can get through it."

Low water levels on the Missouri River affect shipping elsewhere.

"Whatever happens with the Missouri (River), has a definite impact on what happens in the Mississippi (River), especially right there on the St. Louis Harbor," said Matt Holzhalb, vice president for the Southern Region of the American Waterways Operators, a group that represents the river shipping industry.
It is bad enough that acre yields are down because of drought, but it would be even worse if the drought kept these grains from moving downriver.

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

The Missouri River Basin fluctuates between rail dominance & barge getting a good share of the grain shipping.  Some of the grain goes over the same tracks as the Mo/WY coal shipments, which have little spare capacity.  Most goes elsewhere though.

No big deal IMO.  Wheat will come out this spring by barge or over the year by rail.

The one area of tightness MIGHT be durum wheat, used for pasta.  Almost all of it is grown in the Dakotas.

Best Hopes,


Alan, check these charts and especially towards the bottom. The world grain shortfall last year was about 60 million tons. The US consumption of corn for ethanol was about 55 million tons. If the US had not been turning food into fuel, there would have been almost no global shortfall. On top of everything else, this ought to be another major nail in the coffin for use of corn based ethanol and further reason to consider other, far more efficient means of transportation such as electric rail.
Hello TODers,

ZIMBABWE: Child abused every hour, new data reveals from Reuters:
"Cases of abuse against Zimbabwean children appear to be spiralling out of control," Elder said.

"Children who are sexually abused are also the most vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS. The impact can therefore, quite literally, last a lifetime and be fatal," said Elder. He added Zimbabwe has one of the largest populations of orphans and vulnerable children - about two million - exposing more of them to abuse.

The group said the myth held by some men that having sex with virgins could cure sexually transmitted diseases had added to the problem of child abuse.

HIV-related illnesses kill 3,000 Zimbabweans every week and 72 babies become HIV-positive every day as a result of a lack of programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
From the [CIA Factbook https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/zi.html], Zimbabwe's pop. is 12.2 million.

Two million orphans is approx. one sixth of total pop.  Imagine America having 300 mil/6 = 50 million orphans!  Is this likely by 2030, or will it occur sooner as we continue to ship our topsoil overseas to the highest bidder?

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

It's enough to make one cry.

This was probably posted earlier, but I have been gone for five days and missed it if it was posted earlier. But what the heck, here it is again.

Peak-oil debate crackles anew

Where the reserves are, in barrels:

* OPEC/ Middle East:
662 billion

* Other conventional sources:
404 billion

* Deep-water reserves:
61 billion

* Arctic:
118 billion

* Enhanced oil recovery:
592 billion

* Extra heavy crude:
444 billion

* Oil shale:
704 billion

* Exploration potential:
758 billion

* Total:
3,743 billion

Sources: U.S. Geological Service, World Petroleum Assessment 2000, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, National Energy Board Canada

Ron Patterson

I'm not as regular a visitor as I used to be, and therefore apologize in advance if this article has already been posted:

Idiotic Political Rhetoric About Oil: The Ongoing Myth of Energy Independence

The eastern Gulf of Mexico alone holds an estimated 20 trillion cubic feet of gas and 3.6 billion barrels of oil. But politicians from coastal states like Florida and Alabama don't want tourists to see drilling rigs when they go to the beach. So those resources are kept off-limits, even though they would help reduce America's need for imported energy. Further, those offshore resources are close to Texas and Louisiana where deepwater drilling is booming. And the technology and pipelines that are helping produce that offshore boom could easily be transferred to the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Is this true? I'm skeptical that so much oil and gas would be allowed to languish simply due to NIMBY concerns. This sounds like another "Our energy problems could be solved if we only took this simple step" -type assertions.

3.6 billion is FAR too exact a number.  And 3.6 billion, produced over 3 decades, is a small % of US demand.

Best Hopes for Reality Based Planning.


3.6 billion would supply the US for just over half a year. It would supply the world for less than 7 weeks.

We are not really talking about a lot of oil here if we are looking at the long term.

Ron Patterson

Back when Jeb Bush was running for Gov in Florida his helpful, otherwise "exploit it all" brother George kindly took Florida offshore off limits. George himself also wanted to be seen kindly there, as we all know. Now they are thinking of opening it up again. Not sure how much oil is really there, but it won't come close to reducing dependency on foreign oil. At best it would imperceptibly reduce the decline rate of domestic production, not increase it.
Re: Is this true? I'm skeptical that so much oil [3.6 Gb] and gas would be allowed to languish simply due to NIMBY concerns

That estimate is absurd. The geology of the Eastern GOM is not prospective at all as far as I know. As if ROBERT BRYCE writing at CounterPunch knows anything about this -- where did he get that number?

Further, those offshore resources are close to Texas and Louisiana where deepwater drilling is booming. And the technology and pipelines that are helping produce that offshore boom could easily be transferred to the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
So, the oil is there because it's geographically close to where the geology is favorable? Here, humans really do seem to have an intelligence  =  yeast -- or molds, I want to be politically correct regarding our lower life-form friends ...

And by the way, even if the 3.6 Gb were true, it must be recoverable, it would take decades to extract it -- if it's an economic play --, etc.

Jesus wept.

I currently live in Florida (a situation I am trying to correct) and this is big news down here. The amount of oil projected in the lease zones off Florida is insignificant, but there is suppossed to be a substantial amount of NG. However, your quote is wrong about one thing, of that I'm sure. It is not that people here don't want tourists to see oil rigs. Its that they are afraid that a spill will destroy the beaches. And who would visit the west coast or panhandle of Florida if there were no beaches to go to?
Last two times I was in Florida on the Gulf coast the red tide had pretty much destroyed the beaches already. Red tide used to be pretty rare. Seems like it's pretty common these days.
Didn't Simmons say watch Russia?
WSJ - Russia to Increase Natural-Gas Prices at Home

MOSCOW -- Russia will roughly triple low domestic prices for natural gas over the next five years in an effort to cool surging local demand for the fuel and ensure adequate supplies for increasing export commitments, a top Kremlin official said.

WSJ says The worst is over in the housing market?

Darn, i just sold my house, but was gonna wait for a bigger drop! When will i ever learn!!!

Hello TODers,

CFR weighs in on Mexico.

Calderon has a very tough job in the next six years.

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