DrumBeat: November 22, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 11/22/06 at 10:34 AM EDT]

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending November 17, 2006

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) jumped by 5.1 million barrels compared to the previous week. At 341.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories remain well above the upper end of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.4 million barrels last week, but remain in the lower half of the average range. Distillate fuel inventories fell by 1.2 million barrels, but remain in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. A decline in ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel inventories more than compensated for a slight increase in low-sulfur diesel fuel (15 ppm to 500 ppm sulfur), while high-sulfur distillate fuel (heating oil) inventories inched slightly lower. Total commercial petroleum inventories rose by 3.8 million barrels last week, and remain above the upper end of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline prices see abnormal rise

Refinery maintenance and tight supplies drove the uncharacteristic mid-November surge as the price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in California rose 3.1 cents to $2.495, the third straight weekly increase, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of filling stations. The price was 4.2 cents higher than in the same period in 2005.

Inch by inch, car by car: Incremental improvement isn't sexy, but when you turn it into a way of life, you can achieve astonishing results.

Fast Company senior writer Charles Fishman wrote a very good book about Wal-Mart (excerpted in Salon) and, more recently, a feature about Wal-Mart's plans to push compact fluorescent lightbulbs that caught the imagination of the entire enviroblogosphere. Now he has a new story, on how Toyota unflaggingly works to constantly improve its manufacturing processes, that is likely to be of interest to How the World Works readers.

Company vows to take ethanol to next level: Iowa plant will use not just corn kernels, but stalks and leaves

Stover to fill part of ethanol goal

Estimates of 5 billion gallons of fuel per year from stalks and cobs fall well short of 60 billion gallons by 2030.

BIO Releases New Report On Sustainable Agriculture To Support Growing Biofuel Industry

Urban railway, not highway, is Lehigh Valley's future

First, world oil production has probably peaked, and in 2030 may be 30 percent less than today. Alternative fuels like bitumen and ethanol, which will have to make up the difference and meet increased demand, are energy-intensive and will not be cheap substitutes for conventional gasoline. People will continue to drive cars as long as they can afford it, but it's not certain that individuals or society will be able to afford it much longer (i.e., 10 to 20 years).

Nigeria: Gunman seize seven from Italian vessel

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria - Gunmen have seized seven hostages from an Italian oil supply vessel off the coast of southern Nigeria, police and company officials said Wednesday.

Opec quota pledges lift oil price

Oil prices are back above $59 a barrel, after confirmation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that it will follow Saudi Arabia and cut output next month.

Fighting KWs on the Balkans

Bulgaria’s EU accession threatens to grow into an energy catastrophe for the Balkans – as Romania will be the only one to win from that. The Balkan states are expecting the planned closing of two units of Kozloduy nuclear power plant on Dec. 31st with anxiety. Today, the plant, which was built with the help of the former Soviet Union, supplies electricity to the whole Balkan Peninsular and no one knows yet how these supplies will be compensated.

Twin pipeline to Turkey rendered useless, says minister

The twin pipeline which once used to carry more than 1 million barrels of Iraqi crude oil to terminals in Turkey is no longer of any use, according to Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani.

Repeated rebel attacks and lack of repairs have rendered the pipeline useless, he said.

Global copper thefts on rise. Also...peak copper?

Jeffrey J. Brown: A Tale of Four Predictions – Hubbert, Deffeyes, Yergin & Jackson

Environmental cost of Sweden's imported food

Zimbabwe launches campaign to save energy

Harare - Energy-starved Zimbabwe has launched a campaign to save electricity, urging locals to switch off lights, hot water tanks and computers to stave off more frequent power cuts, it was reported Wednesday.

Putin says 370 arrested in energy sector anti-crime operation

The main goals of the operation are to prevent tax crimes committed by oil and gas companies, as well as economic and corruption crimes among federal, regional and local authorities.

U.S. report raps Chinese energy tactic

OTTAWA -- China is increasingly challenging U.S. interests around the world with its aggressive effort to lock up foreign energy resources for its rapidly growing economy, a report from a congressionally appointed commission says.

Africa Seen as Potential Leader in Biofuel Production

NAIROBI, Kenya -- For a number of reasons, including an agricultural sector that enjoys relatively low land and labor costs, many see sub-Saharan Africa as well suited to pioneer the development of biofuel as an alternative energy source for the continent and the world.

More cities reject coal-fired power

In forsaking their largest power source, the cities will be gambling on the availability of adequate alternative energy from cleaner sources by 2027, after their current contracts with the Utah facility expire.

Africa: Carbon Credit Trade Already Worth $5 Billion

Developing nations could earn as much as $100 billion annually by 2050 from selling carbon credits, according to an analysis released by the World Bank at the United Nations conference on climate change that ended in Nairobi last week.

The New World Oil Order, Part 1: Russia attacks the West's Achilles' heel

Russia has found the Achilles' heel of the US colossus. In concert with its oil-producing partners and the rising powerhouse economies of the East, Russia is altering the foundations of the current US-led liberal global oil-market order, insidiously working to undermine its US-centric nature and slanting it toward serving first and foremost the energy-security needs and the geopolitical aspirations of the rising East.

All this is at the impending incalculable expense of the West. What is increasingly at stake is secure US access to global energy resources - strategic US energy security - because the West's traditional control respecting those global resources is seriously faltering in the face of the compelling strategies undertaken by Russia and its global partners.

Tom Whipple - The Peak Oil Crisis: Picking the Peak

Last week Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) who characterize themselves as "a leading advisor to international energy companies, governments, financial institutions, and technology providers," sent out a press release announcing that they had a new report on peak oil for sale. For some time now, CERA has been the leading debunker of the notion that world oil production might just peak in the near future, so their reports are always of interest.

Survey: 3 Out of 4 Americans Want Detroit and Washington to Impose 40 MPG Fuel-Efficiency Standard

Fully 78% of Americans want Washington to impose a 40 mile per gallon (mpg) fuel-efficiency standard for American vehicles, according to a new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) national opinion survey released by the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI).
Re: the "New World Order" article.

The economist argument long standing on world oil markets is that fungibility is a given because a producer would always want to get the best price for their product. But really they want to maximize everything - economics, security, political alliances, other trading agreements, etc.

Any student of world history before World War II will know that the more common trading relationships were either between military and political allies or master & servant type relationships where the master protected the servant from outside invaders (when it suited them). Even in the post WWII era the cold war and other political conflicts have caused the severing of economic ties between rivals.

My first thought after I realized the full impact of peak oil at the international level, was that the world oil markets would collapse and become regionalized or based on political / military / economic blocs. Oil will become too valuable a resource to export to one's rivals. Furthermore, the USA's hegemony is very tenous right now. Once other regional powers start assert themselves one of the first things they will do is seek to control the regional bloc's oil market.

A more direct link to that author's materials:

Global Events Magazine
Edited by W. Joseph Stroupe with the mission of explaining correctly world events via strategic analysis & forecasting

Evidence for credibility among those with expertise in this arena?

So who wants Russia's oil and gas, anyway? Petroleum economist James Hamilton's post in his Econbrowser

And for those who declare that peak oil is a non-issue, I pose this question-- if there's plenty of oil, why are we handing out so much rope?
TPTB taking center stage again are they.  I feel that there is an under current and I am seeing patterns in the patterns.

May you live to see the end of the world and the lights in the skys of heaven fall to the ground and shake your faiths and may the noise you hear be the death of your heart as you fear the death of all, May you fear death now, and fear death in the future.  May you cry at night and nash your teeth and suck your toothless gums in fear.

 Quote,,,, Me,,, Right now,,,, a Poem of pain of Peak Oil failings.

 Hey it might be a curse, it might be a joke, you might want to flame me, After all I am a pyro, send me e.mail and don't clutter the forum up.

 Don't read my posts again, I tell you, don't you might go blind, deaf and dumb all at once.

 Have a good day, I am going to be Post in the open tomorrow, see you on the downside I am going to enjoy the falling off this cliff or the slow ride down, or the steady even plat-toe of level travel.

 What are you going to do?

Dan Ur I know who you are, for I have seen the forbidden Southpark episode, "Make Love Not Warcraft" and have seen you, the Beast with unlimited powers, why maybe your computer had come to life, you were killing Warcraft players right and left. Needless to say you killed Kenny. It took the Sword Of The Admins (or something like that) to kill you ..... er .... your character. The Forbidden Episode even showed you taking the sacrement of Doritos in your time of defeat and need.
Once other regional powers start assert themselves one of the first things they will do is seek to control the regional bloc's oil market.

I suppose that there are two models:  (1)  Available exports always go to the highest bidder and (2)  Available exports go to preferred buyers, not just to the highest bidder.  

I suppose that we will see something in between these two extremes.  In any case, the US is in trouble with either model.  

Regarding #1, exporters are going to wonder about the wisdom of exchanging BTU's of energy for dollars.  

Regarding #2, we can't take on the whole world.  What do we do?  Threaten to nuke anyone who cuts in on our "rightful" share of total world petroleum exports?

The analogy has been used thousands of times, but I think that we (regarding our auto/real estate driven economy) are in the last stages of Tulipomania here in the states--right at the point when the Dutch began to realize that the world would not beat a path to their door offering ever higher prices for tulips.  Increasingly, the US economy is going to be restructured into an economy focused on meeting needs--and not wants (like Tulips and McMansions, with SUV's out front.)

I agree.  How and when can be the only guess.  I think the the world realizes that they have us by the short hairs.  In a situation of colapsing availability I think "sharing" is an utopian dream.  The US has pushed people around for too long - and is the most vulnerable.  I think the "thin veil" of society will disappear on various levels.
The collision of personal and gov't US debt./ declining energy suplies/ dollar devaluation will start to gain momentum.

I hate the thought of what we are in for.  
Pres. Carter was so vilified - how he looks now...
My buddy thinks that in 2-4 years we are going to be demanding another GW...
The 4 horsemen and will I live long enough to see it?  Probably...

Jeffery - I admire your courage.  Best of luck to you and your family in the coming years.


Thanks for the kind words.  We are in for "interesting times."

Indeed -  things have not even gotten that bad for the average American. There's an underlying, very unspoken, tension but that's it. Americans won't admit that there's something funny going on with college depending on 8+% loans, cars cost a year's income, people are working 60 hours, and their parents are markedly healthier and happier than they are (and calling them slackers) and things seem to be "tightening up" in all areas, from law enforcement to social class stratification (a lot still believe in the idiotic dream of social mobility and can't understand why it does not seem to be happening).

Things are going to get very interesting when things get actually bad. And we'll elect our Hitler or Mussolini, and people will natter on about how this has never happened before, first time in history, etc.

check out the EB article on the spreading incidents of copper theft
For some time now I have been sitting on a question that was raised by your Export Land model.  It is brought into sharp relief by your two market models above.

Model 1 describes a free market.  Model 2 describes a command economy.

The only way you can convince a company not to maximize its profits is to remove the profit motive by directing its operations to satisfy criteria besides profit.  Keeping oil at home to satisfy domestic needs will amount to accepting a lower price than might be available on the world market.  The only way I can see of doing this is by nationalizing the oil companies.

Am I missing something? Is there any other way to accomplish this short of outright nationalization?

Even if there is, I expect we will see a wave of nationalizations sweep the industry as the decline starts to bite.

Well we've already seen a trend of nationalization, e.g. in Russia and Venezuela and Bolivia, and now most of the world's oil and gas is only available via national oil companies.

I would add a third model to the #1 and #2 above, and this has an impact on the "export land" model.  The #2 above says "Available exports go to preferred buyers, not just to the highest bidder."  In the export lands model the domestic users are considered the "preferred buyers".  But the problem with this, and with many assumptions I've seen in discussions here about geopolitics, is that it is assumed that a "country" is a unified block acting as one individual, or family, or tribe, would.  In reality, TPTB in a given country may see their own interests as higher than that of "the peasants" within their borders, and may see certain other, nonlocal, world powers as the "preferred buyers".

Of course, keeping the peasants from turning to barricades and pitchforks is part of the calculations of TPTB, but only part, and they only need to dedicate part of the oil and gas towards that end.  Thus model #3 is that "preferred buyers" are chosen on a playing field that may ignore national boundaries.

That plan may or may not suceed.  E.g., in Nigeria TPTB rake in the billions while the peasants only get oil stains on their clothes (when they wash them in the river).  But this arrangement is getting more and more tenuous.  So the question is: who will win this game, fascism/organized crime or local popular pressure.

As for the USA, I think it is clear that TPTB care not for the locals.  Their plan, as brought into action over the last 20 years or so, was to move manufacturing elsewhere, eventually impoverishing the locals (once their purchasing power is no longer needed to keep the global rich getting richer).  Now, even our fertilizer is made overseas, where the natural gas is.

Quote: `Am I missing something? Is there any other way to accomplish this short of outright nationalization?'

The answer is an export duty. In Russia if you want to export a ton of crude oil you must pay $237.6 to the state budget (from December 1 it will be $180.7), thus the internal price is much lower. If the government want to increase internal supply it can raise a duty to the prohibitive level.

Duh.  Of course!  Thanks for that.
To be frank here, WT, I believe #2 was the Neocons plans all along.  Iraq was the open display of what would happen to any country that tried to weazel in on the game (sell oil in Euros, chose who to export to, allow whomever they wanted to develop their fields, etc.)

That plan, for some strange reason (sarcasm), is not working very well.  And now since we bet the whole bank and political capital on that game, the other pathways to securing energy resources have all been cutoff.  Russia watched it all and let it happen, all the while moving their chess pieces into position against western oil companies, unruly neighbors siding with the West, and building alliances with emerging, sympathetic economies (i.e., China).

So, BushCo has played it's game, short of nuclear confrontation, and has gotten us...further in debt and more relient on a southern neighbor that is losing ground on the energy treadmill, finding it hard to keep its own population in check.

In view of the above, should it be a surprise that the US Dollar is fighting for its life right now?
Shhhhhh! You're not supposed to talk about that right now! I'm surprised enough to see discussions of the real estate bubble in the papers, but if they started to talk about the huge hit the dollar's taken so far, confidence in the confidence game will end.
There's a third model - exports are reigned in to only supply close partner countries, otherwise production is deferred until later.

Oil in the ground is like money in the bank - you don't have to spend it today.

I think you can already see your #2 in play with Russia.  

They sell NG to friendly ex-bloc countries at below market prices.   And the opposite is true,  when the relationships are more beligerent,  they cutoff/reduce supply.

Venezuela is another obvious example of #2 as well.

It's all about population!

Thats interesting, the article quotes Peter Odell as anxious about western oil security.

I wonder if he has changed his mind a tad since the time he was knocking Peakists and peddling abiotic oil?


And if he was the man who adivsed Tony Benn and UKGOV on Energy in the early days of the North Sea, then that tells me why we are up shit creek without a paddle.

There has been some talk here about the MDI air car. I have been interested in the size of the air tank and the pressures involved. All I can find is a mention of 300 liter tank (80 gallons)imagine a 55 Gallon drum, and also 300 Bar or about 4300 PSI. This tank will then provide 46 MJ of energy or 92,000 Btu's, equivalent of about 3 liters of gasoline. Tell me what I am missing here? This seems a lot of hokum to me.
You get significantly more energy out of a CAT then you do an ICE.  The ICE will only utilize 12% of its energy content for vehicle propulsion.  If the CAT converts 80% or more, then you could go the same distance for a lot less energy.  Personally, I don't believe a CAT will ever become an interstate vehicle.  I do think it could make significant inroads into personal h2w and w2h commuting.
Are you back from work yet? We are all eager to see your graph
Hothgor is either innumerate, or has ulterior motives for posting here in the manner he does, or both.  I am going to follow my personal recommendation of putting him on "ignore", metaphorically speaking. No good comes from trying to engage with him.
Imagine car accident.  Just after filling up with high pressure air.  Imagine extra stress on air bottle,  Imagine ...

An electric assisted tricycel suddnely seems more appealing and MUCH more energy efficient.

BTW, the overall energy efficiency of a compressed air car wil not be much better than a Prius.  Somewharm but not greatly.

Adiabatic heating & cooling.


Quote: `Imagine car accident.  Just after filling up with high pressure air.  Imagine extra stress on air bottle, Imagine ...'

Imagine an accident with a hydrogen-powered car. Not much better.
I think spring-powered car, something like kid's toys, is more likely scenario. Advances in material engineering are awesome in recent years, so a spring with sufficient characteristics is achievable in the not-so-distant future.

Actually, a hydrogen leak might not be that bad. If the hydrogen doesn't ignite then it will quickly evaporate and rise upwards. It won't pool like gasoline or ethanol.

On the other hand, hydrogen is very easy to ignite. Something like a 2% mixture of hydrogen in air will ignite.

I heard on the radio yesterday morning of hydrogen spill snarling traffic in Sunnyvale, CA. I wonder if it really was hydrogen. More likely a typo. I can't imagine the actually spilled liquid hydrogen and anything else with hydrogen in the title would be quite toxic, wouldn't it? Hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen bromide.

Are you joking?  Imagine a car accident.  Imagine the fuel tank ruptures.  A spark...

I'm sure there is danger involved in compressed air, but let's not pretend that we're not driving around in vehicles with 10-15 gallons of explosive liquid on board.  

How much energy is required to fill an 80 gallon tank to 4300 PSI?
What is the efficiency of the Drive system?
What is the weight of an 80 gallon tank that can safely handle 4300 PSI?
Who wants to ride around with an 80 gallon air bomb beside them?
How often do you drain the water from the pressure tank?
How do you keep the decompression coils from freezing up in a low temperature environment?
How do you keep warm during decompression in cold weather?
What becomes of all the water and heat during compression in a 90 degree 90% humidity environment? This is just for starters. Perhaps you could assist in the design.
There are many hurdles in the way of an air car, but for a local vehicle one does not need long range, and batteries have their own issues, both safety issues, and a huge amount of embedded energy (and thus a high price), and a short life.  The NiMH battery on my electric-assisted bicycle, due to its cost and lifespan and limited number of trips I can practically use it per year, probably costs me $1 per commute, about the same as the marginal cost of driving my ICE-powered car.  Hydrogen storage has problems too.  Thus a cheap low-tech solution for storing enough energy for a local commute seems like a good thing if it can be done.  The vehicle should also be as small and light as possible.
In that case use an ICE for power assist on your bicycle. Wish I could refer you to anything currently in production, sadly I don't believe it's there unless It's on a local market in Korea or India.
The main problem with power assist bikes is that the assist motor quickly becomes the primary motor. With an electric this means a heavy battery, a heavy bike. Or no range.
The upside of electric bikes is they're simple. I've watched bike shop mechanics put together specials for over 40 years and every single one of them worked.
A power assist ICE bicycle could use a tiny engine. The old model airplane .049 engine would be enough. Those little things put out a quarter horse (190 watts equivalent) which is enough to get your bike down the road. But without torque not nearly enough to get the bike moving. Or to keep it going up hills. So the rider has to pedal. Human muscle puts out vast amounts of torque relatively easily. Simply making the rider pedal from time to time means a tiny tiny emgine could be used. And it would be more like a bicycle and less like a two wheel electric wheelchair.
Closest examples of anything familiar to Americans would be the old VeloSolex or the Schwinn-based Whizzer. Which used huge low-tuned engines and 1930's technology. Both those started life assuming the rider would pedal and compromised as the years went on.
Designing a transmission is not easy for home mechanics. All model size engines still mostly use exotic fuels. But conceptually ICE is the way to go
You mean like this?
That site or anything connecting to golden eagle will not open in my browser. Did find a lot of not hopeleesly crude friction drive setups I was not aware of. Saw nobody using less than 33cc. Anyone reporting 1.6 hp on a bike should be getting at least 35 mph. Hmmm
What I think you are missing is that in converting the energy into gasoline terms I suspect you thinking of the mechanical energy you could get from an internal combustion engine at about 15% efficiency. Whereas with a triple expansion and inter -stage warming they are hoping to get close to ideal isothermal expansion and thus very highly efficient conversion of stored energy to mechanical energy.  The system would also lend itself to regenerative breaking.

In their formula they neglect that they are expanding against atmospheric pressure.

I get full expansion to atmospheric pressure Pa and volume Va gives
W =P1.V1(ln(V1/Va)-1) + Pa.V1

at P1 = 30.1MPa (301 bar absolute, 300 bar gauge)
Pa = 0.1MPa (1 bar) and V1 = 0.3m³ (300 litre)
and for isothermal expansion of an ideal gas V1/Va = Pa/P1

I get 42.53MJ ideal energy  rather than their 46MJ

If you could get about 75% efficiency to the wheels
you might get about 32MJ

32MJ is enough to give 8kW of mechanical power for 1 hour 10 minutes. For this you would need say four cylinders quarter metre diameter by a metre and a half long made out of carbon fibre or similar strung along the bottom of the vehicle.

This energy is about equivalent to 18 car batteries at 40Ahr  and 12V and, in carbon fibre, the tanks would weigh less than the batteries but take up more room.

Such a system might have some application in things like very clean vehicles to drive inside hospitals or airports but it is not a candidate for general road transport.

It is pretty useless but perhaps not quite as useless as you initially thought.

You are assuming isothermal expansion.  

Is this likely to be feasible with a moving vehicle ?  The speed of heat transfer to meet the energy demands of movement and the associated heat exchangers (weight !) mean that you cannot so easily zero out adiabatic heating then cooling.


dipchip -

I've seen some things about MDI before, and briefly reviewed the MDI website you linked.

As best I can tell, they've developed a very innovative compressed air engine that is probably a very efficient converter of  the energy in compressed air to mechanical energy.  Regardless, such a scheme is still limited by some very fundamental thermodynamics.

If this thing has a 300 liter pressure vessel that is filled with air pressurized to well over 4,000 psi, then the energy storage of 46 megajoules that they cite appears to be in the right ball park.

(However, I think you made an error in the conversion to BTUs. As 1 BTU is equivalent to 1,055 joules, 46 megajoules is equivalent to only 43,600 BTUs, not 92,000. So, the gasoline equivalent is even worse, at only about 0.37 gallons.)

If indeed that is the configuration they're talking about, then their claim of a range of over 200 km, or 125 miles, looks to be just a little far-fetched, as that would require an equivalent 'mileage' of about 340 miles per gallon. As their vehicle is not even all that light, I don't see how such a range could be possible. Even if one could attain 100% efficiency, there is still some minimum amount of power required just to overcome the rolling friction of even a very slow-moving  vehicle.

The other thing to consider with this whole concept of a car run on compressed air is the energy losses incurred when you compress the air in the first place.  Much energy is lost through the heat of compression, which if not largely dissipated before the air enters the pressure vessel will result in the pressure vessel initially filled with very hot air at a high pressure. As the air cools within the pressure vessel, the final pressure will decrease to some level significantly lower than the initial pressure. Energy is therefore lost.

While the efficiency across the air engine by itself may be very high, it is highly misleading to only consider that part of the system. Somewhere upstream, someone has to burn coal or natural gas in a power plant to generate electricity that is needed to run the air compressor that compresses the air for the air engine. I would venture that the overall efficiency across the entire system, from power plant to wheels, is probably quite poor.

If I recall correctly, some French company is also messing around with an air engine, but I believe they use it in conjunction with a small gasoline engine in a hybrid car, the compressed air pressure vessel taking the place of the battery in a conventional hybrid.

Thanks: I used the inverse conversion of .0009485, but I don't know how I missed by a factor of 2. I should probably do a preview on my calc's also.
Compressed air component manufacturers often cite a rule of thumb that it cost 10 times as much to deliver a given amount of power via compressed air compared to via electricity (in a factory setting).
I knew it was bad, but I didn't realize it was THAT bad!
Re: The Peak Oil Crisis: Picking the Peak


Published on 20 Nov 2006 by ASPO-USA's Peak Oil Review. Archived on 20 Nov 2006.
A Tale of Four Predictions - Hubbert, Deffeyes, Yergin & Jackson
by Jeffrey J. Brown

In 1956, M. King Hubbert, a well known geoscientist, predicted that US Lower-48 oil production would peak and start an irreversible decline between 1966 and 1971.  Lower 48 production peaked in 1970, 14 years after Hubbert's prediction.

In a book published in 2001, Kenneth Deffeyes, an associate of M. King Hubbert, predicted that world oil production would peak between 2004 and 2008.  He later stated that the most likely peak was late 2005.  Two measures of world oil production, Crude + Condensate and Crude + Condensate + Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs), are both down or flat relative to December, 2005, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).  Total Liquids, which is all of the above plus such things as refinery gains, bitumen/water blends and ethanol, are up slightly from December, 2005.

In a column published in Forbes Magazine in November, 2004, Daniel Yergin, an historian and chairman and co-founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), in response to a question regarding future world oil production and oil prices, predicted that world oil production would surge, driving oil prices down to $38 per barrel by November, 2005.  In fact, oil prices have traded in a range about 50% to 100% higher than Yergin's predicted long term index price, as flat to falling oil production has forced oil prices higher in order to equalize supply and demand.

Last week, Peter Jackson, an associate of Daniel Yergin, offered a critique of the Peak Oil theories outlined by Hubbert and Deffeyes and, like Yergin before him, predicted rising world oil production, with the world not showing any real decline until the 2040 to 2050 time frame.

In the past, Hubbert was right and Yergin was wrong.  Now, their respective associates are making similar predictions, using similar methods.

I found that to be a very well written article.  Kudos.
Excellent article, WT. Two of your points really need to be stressed to the rest of the country-Bitumen and kerogen are not oil and the production costs of tar and oil shale are huge compared to conventional oil.
  I'm fairly certain that the mass of people don't understand that CERA, Jackson and Yergin keep changing the definition of oil to make potential production match their projections. They also don't emphasize costs-shale and tar sands are going to cost a huge amount more to produce, so CERA's price prdictions are bogus. This makes legitimate deals a much harder sale, but mainly it doesn't allow the public to make reasonable personal plans. They think the Ethanol Fairy and the Oil Shale Lepracan are going to make everything alright-Hummers are forever!. The Public doesn't  see the necessity of Economise, Localise, Produce, your mantra, or Alan's electrification of rail proposals. They can't see that even if CERA is right, the time to act is now.
Reason 4356 not to get caught up too much in what you believe ... you might have been born that way.  Or to take what your gut tells you as just that ... what your gut (and its genes) tell you.

Any identical twins out there who care to share their (and their sibling's) response to peak oil or collapse?

You started out on the right track Odograph, but you took a very wrong turn if you think you were born with beliefs. You totally misunderstand what part of your belief system may be genetic. The predilection toward credulity of skepticism may indeed be genetic, but not belief in peak oil. Intelligence is also largely, but not entirely, genetic.

So you take the tools you were born with and examine the evidence for peak oil. Remembering always that emotion will, with most people, play a far larger role than reason. (That predilection is largely genetic also.) You will examine the arguments from both sides. And owing to your genetic disposition, plus some environmental experience, most people will opt for the most comfortable side of the argument.

So if you do believe that peak oil is imminent then you probably have a tendency to rely on reason over emotion and desire. And that is what is largely, but not entirely, genetic, not the belief itself.

Ron Patterson

Did you read the article?

A correlation just shows that genetics weigh certain leanings. It doesn't prove that it is the predominant or overriding factor.

(Perhaps that's what a correlation of 100% would have meant?)

Yes I read the article. I have also ready half a dozen books on the subject. The best of the lot, Born That Way by William Wright is one of the best books ever published on the subject.

Your earlier post clearly implied that you may have been born with a belief. That is totally absurd. Beliefs are always acquired from your environment.

However the tendency toward spirituality, (religiosity), credulity or the lack thereof, may indeed be largely, but not entirely, genetic. I think that most people, who look at the facts and weigh them in the balance, would believe that the peak of world oil production is imminent. These people would have a lack of credulity. They also would give more weight to reason than most folks and that could largely be genetic. But people always use emotion in making their decisions or creating their beliefs. Just how much emotion they use is the critical factor. Do they let emotion or reason control their lives? And again, that is largely, but not entirely, genetic.

Ron Patterson

Some interesting research has been done on so-called "shadow syndromes."  The idea that mental disorders exist in much weaker form in the general population.

It was first noticed when researchers were doing a large study of schizophrenics.  Schizophrenia is known to have a genetic component, so they were interviewing the family members of schizophrenia patients.  And they noticed that relatives of schizophrenics were a little odd.  Nothing you would notice by itself.  It was the pattern that was striking. Something you'd only notice when you were interviewing hundreds of people.

Relatives of schizophrenia patients were more likely than most to literally believe in miracles, or to believe in visitations by angels or Jesus, say.  They were also more likely to attend Star Trek conventions.  The same genetic tendency, expressed differently due to different environments?

Stuart coined the phrase "permeable to evidence."  He sees being permeable to evidence as a good thing.  I think it can go both ways.  There is such a thing as being too permeable to evidence.

Some interesting research has been done on so-called "shadow syndromes."  The idea that mental disorders exist in much weaker form in the general population.

I think that is absolutely true. You can also look at autism, and how it is more prevalent in Silicon Valley, where there is a higher proportion of "nerds". If you look at a list of autism symptoms, it is really a list of typical male traits but taken to an extreme. Nerds are kind of half way there already.

For some reason, people like to think in black or white. Either you are normal or crazy. Either you have the gene or not. In reality, there is an infinite number of shades of grey, and biology is no exception. Indeed, variation is essential to evolution by natural selection!

So really, we are all crazy. It's just a question of how much.

Of course you realize there are only two kinds of people in the world:  those who divide things into two, and those who don't.  ;->
Actually there are 10 kinds of people in the world.

Those that understand binary and those that don't

/nerd joke

What a coincidence I told someone (a 'nerd') at work that very job.  Except of course I got it wrong but still what coincident!

or to quote that great philosopher Lilly Tomlin,  "What is reality except a collective hunch?"

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Your earlier post clearly implied that you may have been born with a belief. That is totally absurd. Beliefs are always acquired from your environment.

No, I got the article the first time.  You inferred something not implied.

No, I got the article the first time.  You inferred something not implied.

Wrong! You wrote:

Reason 4356 not to get caught up too much in what you believe ... you might have been born that way.

You are implying that you might have been born with what you believe. Totally absurd.

To imply is to suggest. To infer is to derive by reason. The article did not infer that beliefs were genetic and neither did it imply any such thing. That was your mistaken take on the article. The article, in my opinion, made perfect sense. Your take on what you thought the article implied made no sense at all.

Ron Patterson

You really need to look up the words imply and infer.

To know the first you have to see inside my head.  And, I'm afraid that is kind of a read flag in discussion!  When someone says they know more about your words than you do, either they are around the bend or ... actually there isn't another choice.

"born with" seems a good ballpark phrase for "heritable" ... in my head.

The results of this study are interesting but certainly not definitive.  It supposes that the differences seen between mono- and di- zygotic twins can be attributed to genetics.  Monozygotic twins are not equivalent to dizygotic twins in many other respects.  The psychological ramifications of growing up identical are different than growing up as fraternal, and this should not be underestimated.  The most obvious confonding psychological factor is that an identical twin will often purposely try to create an identity apart from their sibling, such that they may purposely pursue different intellectual or religious pursuits just to be perceived as different from their twin.  The only way to really know how much of this is truly genetic would be to find hundreds of monozygotic twins who were separated at birth, raised in different homes and apart from their twin, and then make the comparison.  Obviously, this is impossible.
The only way to really know how much of this is truly genetic would be to find hundreds of monozygotic twins who were separated at birth, raised in different homes and apart from their twin, and then make the comparison.  Obviously, this is impossible.

Why is it impossible?  It's been done, hasn't it?  

IIRC, all kinds of fascinating things came out of that "separated twin" research.  

True, not really impossible, just very difficult and very expensive.  You would probably need an N of at least 100 sets of twins to develop enough statistical power to meet statistical significance.  There just aren't that many monozygotic twins who were separated at birth and can be tracked down and who will agree to participate in the study.  Here's a study that combined the four largest studies ever on intelligence among monozygotic twins separated at birht.  These four studies combined still had only 122 sets of twins.  Pooling ot the data from the four studies yielded different results from the original study.  This shows the hazards of trusting studies with too small an N.  


Besides, the last of the four authors (Cyril Burt) cited in that study was involved in one of the most egregious cases of fabricated scientific results, so roughly one fourth of those 122 cases was likely purely fictitious:


Late in 1986, the Minnesota group had completed assembling in its data for a major paper, the concordances of a broad range of personality traits between sets of separated twins, now totaling forty-four. The paper also included data on 331 reared-together twins, 217 identical and 114 fraternal. A trait that showed one of the highest levels of heritability, .60, was traditionalism, or a willingness to yield to authority.
Born That Way, page52

Ron Patterson

Just personal experience Ron. Willingness to yield to authority correlates to how much parental authority kids suffer when small. Separating a set of twins implies an exercise of draconian authority.
And twins reared together are marvellous at deferring to each other, a sort of authority granted.
The answers we get will vary with the questions we ask. Always ask how we know what we think we know. No, I am not certain my answers are better than yours. Just derived differently.
Oldhippie wrote:
Separating a set of twins implies an exercise of draconian authority.

Total bullshit! The twins were separated because they were given up for adoption at birth. To ask people to adopt two children instead of one, while depriving one awaiting couple of a child would be an exercise of draconian authority.

The answers we get will vary with the questions we ask.

But of course! Did you expect to get answers from questions not asked? Anyway, the twins were interviewed for an entire week. Thousands of questions were asked. Don't judge the study until you have yourself studied the study. I have studied it by reading several books on the Minnesota Twins study. I cannot comment further because I do not have time to write a book and the editors of TOD would not appreciate me posting a book on The Oil Drum.

But I must add observations were made also. That is there were shocking revelations made by simply observing the identical twins separated at birth. No questions were necessary.

But I must add observations were observed also. That is there were shocking revelations made by simply observing the identical twins separated at birth. No questions were necessary. There were dozens of them. There were the giggle twins, two British girls who both found everything so funny the both burst into fits of giggles at the slightest provocation. And there were twins from Trinidad. One adopted by a Jewish family who moved to Israel, the other  Hitler Youth who grew up in Nazi Germany. It would take pages to describe the personality traits they had in common. They both even had the habit of faking a very loud sneeze in crowded places as a kind of joke.

Like I said, before you could criticize the work, you would have to read it. But I am sure you will anyway.

Ron Patterson

The Minnesota study is one of the most fascinating studies, ever. I first encountered it in Judith Rich Harris' book.
Total bullshit again is it? Someone took charge. Someone made decisions. Absolutely does not matter if they were good decisions, does not matter if they were unavoidable decisions. Any twins I ever knew wanted to stay together.
Is there ever a time when you examine your assumptions before you accuse your interlocutor?
Hey, if you have a problem with twins being separated at birth then go bitch to the adoption agencies all over the world. Those conducting the survey had nothing to do with the adoption process, draconian or otherwise.

Of course twins want to stay together. Brothers and sisters want to stay together but brothers and sisters separated at birth never knew one another. Use a little commons sense fella.

Ron Paterson

Use your common sense. The mere factof separation skews all data. GIGO.
I went to the University of Minnesota and worked with professors who were doing the twin studies. It is very interesting work but also rather complicated if you really want to get into specifics. Despite the fact that I find it interesting, I find it off topic and not productive on this thread. We had discussed before the problem of threads getting derailed and off topic, which makes it difficult for those of us who are here for "Discussions about energy and our future" to wade through everything else and find information or thoughts related to energy. It is one reason I am finding it harder to benefit from TOD. Wading through 25 or more posts doing a superficial anaysis of personality and inheritance factors or interpretation of old testament prophecies to get to something related to oil is a pain. Sorry if I come across as a crank. I am really good natured most of the time.

I really appreciate articles and discussion such as regarding the Caspian situation or Khebab's peak models. It would be fine to have shorter, more focused threads.

Just my two bits.

Don't read the DrumBeats. Seriously.  The things you say you like (Khebab's modeling, the article on the Caspian situation) are not DrumBeats, and are a lot more focused.  One of the reasons we have the DrumBeat thread is to keep this stuff out of the other threads.
But shouldn't it at least be energy-related? Drumbeat discusssions include the oil inventory situation, Mexican production, transportation concerns and strategies, etc. that don't have a dedicated thread. I am very interested in these issues that are discussed in drumbeats, and see this as the reason to have the open discussion format. However, these open discussions are energy-related.

I don't expect my comments to change anything, just wanted to put it out there. And I will keep reading for the reasons I mentioned.

But shouldn't it at least be energy-related?

IMO...no.  Peak oil is about more than energy.  The editors have made clear that they don't just want to measure oil reserves and crunch numbers. They want to influence public policy.  That means politics, religion, and whether a tendency to believe in peak oil is heritable may indeed be on-topic.  

In fact, I think it's the political issues, not the technical ones, that are the real heart of the peak oil problem.

"In fact, I think it's the political issues, not the technical ones, that are the real heart of the peak oil problem."

I certainly agree with the above statement, except I would add, as I'm sure you would, that it's also attitudes, expectations, social mores & pressures, etc. As with starvation in the world, it's not that enough calories aren't produced, it's their distribution which relates to a multitude of other factors.

You are the editor, and I'll back off. I guess I get frustrated at times with issues that are so hard to quantify or address. People can talk religion their entire life and nothing is ever settled, no one pursuaded. If you and the other editors have decided to have it so wide open, it's your call. I still think this is the best site for energy information and discussion by far.

People can talk religion their entire life and nothing is ever settled, no one pursuaded.

IMO...the point isn't always to persuade.  Sometimes, it's just to understand.  Religious people are a huge chunk of the electorate.  We can't just ignore them.

We can if we try hard enough.

Sorry, my biases are showing :-)  They are a huge chunk of the population, but I don't know if the religion is a communications barrier.  Some people live their lives in a faith-based universe without ever setting foot inside a church, and I've known some very logical, rational religious types.

I enjoy talking religion with my mother-in-law, who is doing a Master's degree in Theology. I tend to use the religious concepts we throw around either as pure metaphor or for illuminating various aspects of human nature.  The idea that religious ideas are to be taken literally is utterly foreign to me, but that doesn't mean the ideas don't have value in the non-literal sphere.

By the bye, I'm an INTP as well.  It does seem to be more common on the internets than in real life.

Religious people are a huge chunk of the electorate.  We can't just ignore them.

Damn! I think you are right..... Pity.

But because politicians must cow-tow to them does not mean that I must. These people are best ignored, not argued with.

Most atheist do waste their lives battling against the unconquerable monster of religion--a monster impervious to the spears of reason, impenetrable by the bullets of logic, and insensible to even the thrust of common sense.
C. W. Dalton: The Right Brain and Religion.

Ron Patterson

The point isn't to try and conquer the monster.  It's to get the monster to work for us.  
I like the system we have now, of topic-specific threads, and then Drumbeats with a few articles/ideas tossed out to start the Drumbeat discussions. That way there are threads for discussion of one specific topic, and the general discussion for that day is in the Drumbeat.

Drumbeat discussions often trigger specific-topic threads.

It's a good system! Thanks, Leanan!

Drumbeat discussions often trigger specific-topic threads.

Heck, Drumbeat discussions have triggered topic-related stories on other blogs and on larger media outlets.  I think the Drumbeats have added quite a bit of flavor to TOD.

Don't back off peakearl. Do wonder if what you say forwards the discussion. You are conscientious and care about this forum, so whatever you decide to post is good enough.
If I'm getting something wrong here Leanan tell me.
anything can be related to energy (via kevin bacon of course)
Let's not forget another role TOD plays in this little community of ours/yours.  It has become a virtual community and we all know some familiar names.  

It is a comfort to be able to discuss some things here with folks that understand to some degree what you are thinking when we all know, bringing up some of these topics over turkey tomorrow with friends or family just wouldn't fly.

So, I think TOD functions as an excellent social resource/outlet for those that come to TOD.

Yes, there is that.  

They are dealing with similar issues over at PeakOil.com.  While PeakOil.com has strong laissez-faire tendencies (Texas-based as they are ;-) Aaron has found some of the recent posts downright embarrassing (especially when they go out on the RSS feed).  He's currently polling the membership about what changes to make, if any.

One of the options they are considering is to remove the Open forum and the Hall of Flames.  While I wouldn't mind seeing the Hall of Flames go - I don't think it's too much to ask that people be civil to each other - I think the Open forum has to stay.  I've seen it time and again, on fora tiny to humongous: if you don't have some kind of open forum, the off-topic posts pop up in the other threads.  And if you try to stamp them out, it becomes even more disruptive than if you just allow the occasional OT post.  

Both TOD and PO.com have become a bit "flabbier" than usual lately, and I suspect it's because there's not all that much going on on the peak oil front.  No hurricanes, oil prices down, etc.  It's temporary.    

Wading through 25 or more posts doing a superficial anaysis of personality and inheritance factors or interpretation of old testament prophecies to get to something related to oil is a pain.

I think these topics can relate to the "and our future" part of TOD motto.  This is not the first time I've been guilty of partaking in an off-topic thread, but I only do it in the drum beat section. Our interest in off-topic areas is in large part bc/ we are trying to understand how people and society will repond to PO.  Bible prophecy may seem as far off as one can get, but I worry that as we slide down the back end of the slope of PO, millions of evangelical Christians will interpret the events as signs of the end times and base their response to PO on some sort of misguided, millenialist theology.  And by the way, peakearl, I think you're a bigger man than most people on this site by being willing to accept Leanan's defense of off-topic threads without spinning into some angry diatribe.

Thanks for the positive comment. A little couple secrets about me: I have a Master's degree in plant science, did research for five years then decided to become a psychologist. I have a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota, a very empirical, research-based program (I currently work in a medical setting). Knowing how complicated people are and the challenge of clearly defining personality traits and saying anything with certainty, I don't think we will get to understanding people much better through these conversations - but maybe I've just had too many of them. Your mention of hormone replacement exemplifies the problem that even using a defined treatment with specific, measurable outcomes it has taken millions of dollars, tens of thousands of subjects, decades of research and we are still not exactly sure of how good or bad the hormones are except in very limited situations. Humans/religion etc are thousands of times more complex than this. Knowing marginally validated personality code types is fun, but I'm not sure really tells us how the world might react in an energy crisis. In reality, we are still at "the best predictor of future performance is past performance."
The only way to really know how much of this is truly genetic would be to find hundreds of monozygotic twins who were separated at birth, raised in different homes and apart from their twin, and then make the comparison.  Obviously, this is impossible.

It's been done.  Some of the separated twins were raised by economic and social opposites yet the separated twins chose the same professions, cars, wife's name(!), year married, hobbies, personality, ect.  Not to say there is no effect by the environment but we are hard wired when we are born with strong preferences and behavior. We are not a blank slate at birth.

See my above comment.  many of the "studies" of monozygotic twins do not have enough enrollees to be of any value.  What is the p value of these studies?  Many of them are not ever published, but if you ran the numbers very few of them would fall into a standard p < 0.05 or even a looser p < 0.1.  Furthermore, the studies are often full of bias, and even outright falsification of scientific data.  I'm not saying these things are more genetic, or less genetic.  the truth is the data quality of most twins separated at birth studies is rather poor.

Consider the case of hormone replacement therapy.  Doctors had told women for decades to take hormones after menopause to prevent heart attacks.  Huge studies with thousands of women had suggested this was the correct course of action.  Yet, it wasn't until 2002 when a study of over 17000 women that we finally learned the truth: that we had been killing women with hormone replacement therapy. Small studies make great learning for graduate students but they are often misleading.

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/288/3/321?ijkey=2643035ae46c0b56e08e202dc0b4d5ad98559e 1c&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

I actually looked twice before linking the story to see if it was an adoptive twin study.  I decided that they must have some math that they think draws out genetic factors even in similar childhood environments.

The basic idea must be that with a large enough pool of identical and fraternal(*), they can look at the relative tendencies between the two groups.

That seems reasonable to me, as a gentle indication, but certainly not as a hard proof.  I'm not suggesting any "societal prescriptions" on this one study ;-).

* - I'll use the non-scientific names because I don't know enough about the definitions and implications of the others to be throwing them around

I agree with your assesment of the studies however there is a trend of discoveries at work in this field. When I was a student, 1972-77, the nurture position was dominant.   Now it's the opposite, gene expression and/or suppression has been shown to be the basis of many behaviors and diseases.                                                                                                                    

I was raised with  two younger brothers.  We were raised the same but had very different core personalities.  We of course had multitudes of genetic potentialities befor conception of which one made it through the reproductive gauntlet to become my mammalian self.. It speaks against the nuture argument as being dominant.   Notice  children from other families.  They are uniquely different from each other right in the beginning of life.  This stuff is hardwired and can be modified by nuture a large distance from the set-point  at great difficulty.                                                                                                                                              

"The psychological ramifications of growing up identical are different than growing up as fraternal, and this should not be underestimated."

This is called question-begging.

I think it's the article that took a wrong turn.

A person's willingness to accept, say, religious doctrine or parental authority may have a genetic component, but that's a far cry from saying specific beliefs are genetic.

You don't pop out of the womb with a predilection for believing that abortion is a sin.  But you may have an innate tendency toward religiousness, or be more inclined than most to accept the beliefs of your parents.

This of course means that if you were born to a different family, or in a different society, your beliefs, though as closely held, might be entirely different.

I don't think the article is inconsistent with that.  It is just looking at the different variances for different belief domains:

Genetic differences explained most of differences in attitudes to life and equality (66% and 55% of the variance respectively), but none (0%) of the attitudes to intellect and punishment.

Sure, it could be a religiosity gene.

FWIW, I think the most interesting thing from the standpoint of American politics is how certain elements from the various categories get bound in political party platforms.

This is a central tenant of Richard Dawkin's argument... that our so-called belief/faith in a particular religion is no more than a geographical accident of birth...

And his argument against brainwashing any child with a particular religion...

When I came of age I realized (and that was many years before I read Dawkins) that had I been born somewhere else I would have been indoctrinated with a different religion.  Therefore, I concluded, there's no basis for it, and thus I dropped that religion.  I suppose I am unusual in doing that...  Although perhaps not around here (TOD).
According to Dante, the outermost ring of hell is reserved for "virtuous pagans" who had never heard the word of god (because they lived before Christ was born, died as babies, or were born in the wrong place).  

So their sin was basically a failure of imagination.  They should have imagined Christ, even if they weren't told about him.

I wonder what kind of hell our current failure of imagination is leading us to...

"The only battle that matters is the battle for your imagination"
            -Diane di Prima
Twin pipeline to Turkey rendered useless, says minister

This link posted by Leanan this morning is big news. This puts one million barrels per day off line. But from the article, one cannot tell exactly how long these pipelines have been off line. Iraq is currently producing approximately half a million barrels per day less than its pre-war levels, and even its pre Kuwait invasion levels.

So I am wondering, if this takes one million barrels per day off line, just how long has it been off line? Is this old news or new news? Does anyone have a clue? This is important because if it is new news, it is a shocker.

Ron Patterson

I don't think they've been using that pipeline lately.  They've been "testing" it a lot.  They'll declare the test a success, then the next day, shut it down again, due to previously undetected leaks or new insurgent attacks.
A Norwegian company, I forget which, has been doing exploration in the Kurdish area for years now. Looks to be a purely platonic exercise.
"Det Norske Oljeselskap" - DNO - which translate to "The Norwegian Oil Company" is the name of the company doing exploration in the Kurdish area.

It's a small company, even by norwegian standards.

Iraqi exports through the Turkish have been intermitant (usually zero) throughout the US occupation of Iraq.  So this doesn't represent a significant decrease in exports, but rather that they have just given up trying to use that pipeline.  Essentially all of Iraq's "legal" exports since the start of the war have been from the South through Basra.  I don't know if any oil was exported through Turkey under the oil-for-food program.

It is probably worth noting that there is an extensive black market for petroleum (may be mostly gasoline instead of crude) going back and forth across Iraq's borders.  While this pipeline is shut down, there will continue to be exports using tanker trucks regionally.  The resaon that the insurgents wreck the pipelines and export with tankers is to control the money.  

Boy that new blog is a treasure trove.

One of the psychological measures or metrics which Tetlock found was well correlated with expert accuracy goes back to a distinction introduced by Isaiah Berlin in his book, The Hedgehog and the Fox. I haven't read that book, but based on Tetlock's presentation, Berlin distinguished between two cognitive styles to which he gave these colorful names.  The hedgehog is said to know one thing and know it well.  He sees events and trends in terms of his big idea, and aggressively extends it into new realms.  Hedgehogs tend to be confident in the applicability of their fundamental concepts and impatient with those who "do not get it".

Foxes in contrast know many small things which they bring to bear in their analyses in a dynamical and flexible way.  They tend to be uncertain and flexible, "on the other hand" types who are skeptical about their own predictive ability and in fact about the whole enterprise of making predictions in such an intractable realm.

How many hedgehogs have expressed impatience that I "do not get it?"

(my score is +16)

I'm +49.  

Actually, that's not surprising.  According the Myers-Briggs, I am an INTP - extreme on all four scales.

So are you wide open on our futures then?

From another page:

Foxes, on the other hand, don't see a single determining explanation in history. They tend, Tetlock says, "to see the world as a shifting mixture of self-fulfilling and self-negating prophecies: self-fulfilling ones in which success breeds success, and failure, failure but only up to a point, and then self-negating prophecies kick in as people recognize that things have gone too far."


Based on that link, I am definitely a fox, not a hedgehog.

A hedgehog is the kind of person who holds a great-man theory of history, according to which the Cold War does not end if there is no Ronald Reagan.

I don't buy that, not for a minute.  Similarly, I believe if Newton or Einstein had died stillborn, someone else would have made their discoveries...probably at about the same time.

The fox vs. hedgehog thing sounds roughly analogous to the Myers-Briggs Judging-Perceiving scale.  Perhaps with some Sensing-Intuition mixed in.

I thought Mark Buehne made an incisive comment on that page:

In my experience, particularly with academic types, most people believe they are foxes but appear to the rest of the world as hedgehogs. For instance, you will find plenty of historians who scoff at the big man theory but wholly embrace the big idea. Not because it was an idea that intersected with particular timing, but because it was the 'right' idea. The big man proponent would scoff at the idea and embrace the man. Both hedgehogs, both probably viewing themselves as foxes.

I can say that I am not hooked by any single 'big idea' about our futures.

I think people react to me here most often want me to buy into one.

I dunno about anyone else, but I'm not trying to sell you anything.  I don't care what you believe, really.

(That is a trademark of the INTP, BTW.  They make lousy missionaries, because they don't argue to persuade, they are argue to understand. Once they feel they do understand, they lose interest.)

If you'd really like to understand yourself on the fox/hedgehog thing, I think you should answer the "open futures" question.

Our discussions way back were about what might happen a century or more forward from this time.


Foxes, on the other hand, don't see a single determining explanation in history. They tend, Tetlock says, "to see the world as a shifting mixture of self-fulfilling and self-negating prophecies: self-fulfilling ones in which success breeds success, and failure, failure but only up to a point, and then self-negating prophecies kick in as people recognize that things have gone too far."

Then surely a fox cannot know.

I've answered your "open futures" question many times.  I'll answer it again: yes, I think our future is "open."  It is inherently unpredictable.  Aliens could land on the White House lawn tomorrow and give us the secret to cheap, clean fusion.  Someone could invent a real warp drive, and enable us get off this rock and resume our neverending growth on other planets.  

OTOH, nuclear war could break out tomorrow and destroy the earth.  

The thing is, not all futures are equally probable.    That being the case, we're better off preparing for the worst...as best we can.

Then why is it always like pulling teeth?

If you want to leave the breadcrumb that says "The thing is, not all futures are equally probable" why not take it further?

We know that humans have a hard time putting good probability numbers on their own predictions.  What is our confidence in our confidence in our prediction?

That's the crux of the peak oil thing, and it becomes much harder as we start to consider the after effects, after N cycles of human response and counter-response.

... now what was that one about windmills?  Did you say you didn't think windmills would be sustainable after the crash?  To me a statement like that implies a couple confidence levels have been determined.  First for a crash, and second for post-crash industry.

Enough to drive a fox around the bend ;-)

If you want to leave the breadcrumb that says "The thing is, not all futures are equally probable" why not take it further?

To me, this is like saying, "Why are you worrying about your 401(k)?  You could win the lottery tomorrow!"

Enough to drive a fox around the bend

According to that test you posted, the more extreme your score, the more likely it is to be accurate.  +16 is hardly extreme, so how you do you know you are a fox, and not just another hedgehog who thinks he's a fox?

You could just answer the question .... gotta go now though.  I hope when I return this evening a few people will post thoughtful pieces about how we do establish confidence for our predicted energy/resource futures.
I hope when I return this evening a few people will post thoughtful pieces about how we do establish confidence for our predicted energy/resource futures.

We cannot.  That's why we should prepare for the worst.

I will also add that mammals in general and humans in particular have a natural bias toward optimism.  Hence, reality will likely be worse than our predictions.

If we cannot, we have to prepare for a (wide) range of outcomes.  "The worst" to take you literally would be the extreme, the end point, the corner case.

There are also opportunity costs to be considered, some tangible and some intangible.  The intangible might be the city life we miss by living in the country, or vis versa.

From a dollars and cents standpoint, we simply can't afford to defend against worst case tsunamis, and asteroids, and yellowstone calderas, and ...

So no, I don't feel a need to concentrate on the worst.  There are plenty of less-bad things that are more obviously in front of us.

I believe that if your car would run out of gas, it would stop.  Does that make me a "hedgehog"?
That chaos-prediction article talked about timescale as an indicator of ease of prediction.  It's easier to say if my car is empty now (or not) than 30 years from now (or not), yes?
BTW, the fox/hedgehog question is easy.  In this domain I don't know.  I'm all about uncertainty.
As well you should be.  Humans are phenomenally bad at prediction, even when it's something they have previous experience with.

Harvard researcher Daniel Gilbert wrote a book called Stumbling On Happiness.  It's been discussed here before, but I think it's worth bringing up again, because it touches on your question of how to best predict the future.  Though it's about happiness, I think Gilbert's work applies to predictions in general.

"Our desire to control is so powerful, and the feeling of being in control so rewarding, that people often act as though they can control the uncontrollable," Gilbert writes, as he reveals how ill-equipped we are to properly preview the future, let alone control it. Unfortunately, he claims, neither personal experience nor cultural wisdom compensates for imagination's shortcomings.

The NY Times review of the book is entitled "The Joy of Delusion," because that is what we do: we fool ourselves.  

We even "mispredict" how things that we have already experienced will feel when they happen again. The classic example here is childbirth, which women seem to misremember as not being all that bad. We "expect the next car, the next house or the next promotion to make us happy even though the last ones didn't and even though others keep telling us that the next ones won't."

Gilbert's research has found that the best way to accurately make predictions is to talk to others who have or are experiencing the thing you are trying to predict.  Many of us do this, but we tend to trust our own imaginations over other's experiences.  Sure, most lottery winners end up broke within five years and many say they wish they'd never won...but we all think it would be different if we won.  

So how does this apply to peak oil?  Obviously, we can't ask others who have already experienced peak oil what it's like.  But there are historical experiences we can draw from.  

Why do I think wind turbines are not sustainable on solar power alone?  Because no solar-powered society has built wind turbines.  Windmills, yes, but not wind turbines.  Until fossil fuels, no society came close to our level of complexity; what makes you think we can sustain it without them?

True, we have a head start.  We have the science and technology we accumulated with fossil fuels.

But a lot of other societies also built up bodies of knowledge, that were lost, sometimes for millennia.  Egyptians no longer remember how to build pyramids or embalm mummies.  Easter Islanders and Inca can no longer do their amazing stonework.  The Maya lost the knowledge of how to build and maintain their temples and irrigation systems. I see no reason to assume we will be different.

If there's "one big thing" people tend to cling to, it's the idea that they - individually, as a society, and a species - are special. Carl Sagan described it as a white picket fence around Homo sapiens, with a sign saying, "Natural selection stops here."  If we were talking about yeast or Ethiopians, we'd have no problem with the idea that they might suffer a collapse.  But if it's us...us being humans, or Westerners, or Americans...we automatically put our rose-colored glasses on.

Why do I think wind turbines are not sustainable on solar power alone?  Because no solar-powered society has built wind turbines.  Windmills, yes, but not wind turbines.  Until fossil fuels, no society came close to our level of complexity; what makes you think we can sustain it without them?

I remember explaining that "without fossil fuels" is (IMO) too far out for rational prediction.  Peak oil should be more tractable because (like "my gas tank") it is a little more here-and-now.

When do we think we'll be "without fossil fuels"?

When do we think we'll be "without fossil fuels"?

Who knows?  A hundred years hence?  Next month?

Of course we won't run out, geologically speaking...but I could foresee a future where they are reserved for military use only.  Or for agricultural use only.  

Are you saying you put equal odds on fossil fuels next month, as no fossil fuels?
No.  Like I said, not all outcomes have equal probabilities. I don't think "when" is even relevant to the discussion we are having, but you asked, so I answered.
I saw you say "not all outcomes have equal probabilities" but later, to clarify, I asked:

I hope when I return this evening a few people will post thoughtful pieces about how we do establish confidence for our predicted energy/resource futures.

and you answered "We cannot."

I took the second answer, thinking I must have interpreted you too literally the first time.


I'm not sure I understand what you're asking.  When you said "confidence," I assumed you meant a statistical analysis.  Which is impossible.

That doesn't mean we can't have some assessment of probabilities.  The chance of the Dallas Cowboys winning their game tomorrow is certainly higher the chance of my winning the lottery, for example; I can tell you that without doing any calculations at all.

I think I've seen them both (confidence and probability) used with respect to prediction.  Regardless, we can think of them both as our expected odds, in ratio or percent.

In that light how do we assess odds, confidence, probability, xxx, for our various futures?

Daniel Gilbert's research suggests the best way to predict the future is to look at the past. Keeping in mind that no, we aren't special.  It won't be different for us. What has happened to other societies facing similar problems?

Which is, BTW, pretty much what Tainter is all about.

The critical question is again how we assign odds or confidence to those studies.  Tainter draws some parallels and conclusions, other scientists draw others, sometimes even in competition.

Unless we can come up with a system (the more numeric the better) to rationally assign confidence, why would we return again and again to one set of parallels?

(as foxes we certainly don't want to think of Tainter as a big man, or as having the big idea.)

Unless we can come up with a system (the more numeric the better) to rationally assign confidence, why would we return again and again to one set of parallels?

We aren't.  We're using many parallels, and Tainter isn't the only one to draw them.  

Diamond's work is perhaps more relevant, because he puts more emphasis on what it takes to avoid collapse.

Though as I've said before, I think Greer is probably the most likely to be correct.  

Leanan, stop and think about it.  Some people have said that I just "can't get my head around" collapse, or that the argument "went over my head at [whatever]" ... that's kind of silly isn't it, unless we can say in plain text how to assign the probability?

Surely, the existence of the argument is not sufficient that I must accept it.  No, I think we need to lay out in plain speech, how we grant those studies a "high confidence" or "high probability."

(you say "Greer is probably the most likely to be correct" perhaps a way to start would be to lay out how you assigned him highest probability.)

that's kind of silly isn't it, unless we can say in plain text how to assign the probability?


You've kind of "stubbed out" in these discussions before, only to come back and say that it is my problem.  I "couldn't get my head around it."

I'm afraid I have to press you.  If you have a rational way to assign high probability to Prof. Greer's forecast, you should be able to lay it out.

FWIW, I do have some rules of thumb on accessing confidence to predictions about our future.  I'll be happy to go second.

What I reject is your assertion that if you can't put a number on it, it's not worth talking about.
People generally use numbers for odds, either 2:3 or 67% or whatever.  That's nice because it gives a common framework, without much confusion.

We could alternatively talk about "very low, low, medium, high, very high" ... things like that.  Fuzzy logic is fine too, often useful, but rougher for communication.

Does Greer get "very high" and if so why?

People generally use numbers for odds, either 2:3 or 67% or whatever.

I think it's silly to try and put numbers on this like this.  It's the modern equivalent of arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

But just because we don't have enough information to do a statistical analysis doesn't mean we should ignore it.  

Does Greer get "very high" and if so why?

I don't know if any scenario gets "very high."  Greer strikes me as most likely because it's the status quo, only with less energy.

But very high?  I dunno.  I think his vision of 2050 (posted to today's DrumBeat) could happen.  OTOH, maybe people who are used to big screen TVs and SUVs will not go quietly into a world where most of their income is spent on food.  That might lead to war or civil insurrection (which also has historical parallels).  Which might make the collapse sudden rather than catabolic.

We can pick this up later.

Maybe the best thing is to wish everybody a happy thanksgiving, and give it a break.

For what it's worth though, I think it's worth considering the tension between the idea that Greer's model is "most likely" and not knowing if any scenario gets "very high."

I get what that might mean ... a "best guess" with "low confidence" ... which means less to be worried about.

Well, let me put it this way. Say the chance of a Greer-like scenario in 2050 is 50%.  That is far from "very high."  But it's still more likely than anything else (assuming more than two outcomes are possible), and certainly worth thinking about.
The thing I think I've learned from 2 years in the peak oil environment is that I have to use two numbers.  One for my prediction, and one for my confidence in my prediction.

I think the chance of a Greer-like scenario is 10%, but the confidence I have in my own prediction is ... what, 70%?  Hard to say.

I guess the second number captures that I am a part of the "prediction system" surrounding the "societal question."  My answer is in part about me, just as your answer is in part about you.

We have to recognize this as especially true when we are looking at predictions that "feel right" to us, or are "seductive" without mathematical or logical proof.  If we look around and pick one theory, among the many we've seen, we choosing "the most attractive pattern."

We are back to the blinking lights experiment:

   George L. Wolford of Dartmouth has lent even more support to this view of the left hemisphere. In a simple test that requires a person to guess whether a light is going to appear on the top or bottom of a computer screen, humans perform inventively. The experimenter manipulates the stimulus so that the light appears on the top 80 percent of the time but in a random sequence. While it quickly becomes evident that the top button is being illuminated more often, people invariably try to figure out the entire pattern or sequence - and they deeply believe they can. Yet by adopting this strategy, they are correct only 68 percent of the time. If they always pressed the top button, they would be correct 80 percent of the time.

Rats and other animals, on the other hand, are more likely to "learn to maximize" and to press only the top button. It turns out the right hemisphere behaves in the same way: it does not try to interpret its experience and find deeper meaning. It continues to live only in the thin moment of the present - and to be correct 80 percent of the time. But the left, when asked to explain why it is attempting to figure the whole sequence, always comes up with a theory, no matter how outlandish.


Perhaps those subjects, thought the odds were even better than 50% that the 20% light would blink ... when their "prediction system" said it would?  Sure, why else would they select it.

The chance of the Dallas Cowboys winning their game tomorrow is certainly higher the chance of my winning the lottery, for example; I can tell you that without doing any calculations at all.

Much higher in fact with Romo at QB. They have been a different team with him in there. How 'bout them Cowboys! (My favorite team since I was 9 years old).

My favorite team since I was a toddler.  I don't even remember when I became a Cowboys fan, I was so young.  My parents suspect it was because they always wear white.  In my preschool mind, that meant they must be the good guys!  

And I'm thrilled that Tony Romo is finally getting to start.  I've been saying he should be the starter since last season.

It's always like pulling teeth because the world is just like that. Or call it inertia. The dead weight of the past. People are stubborn.
You're an optimist odo. You couldn't possibly stop.
I think we'll have a power-down whether we want one or not ... a good segment of the population would not see that as an optimistic position.
The fox vs. hedgehog thing sounds roughly analogous to the Myers-Briggs Judging-Perceiving scale.  Perhaps with some Sensing-Intuition mixed in.

I thought the exact same thing. I'm also an INTP, and tend to notice MBTI themes in a lot of things (not just personality tests ;) ).

+46 on this test, btw.

I'm not surprised.  INTPs "see the connections that others don't see," which sounds very like the "fox" description given.

INTPs are relatively rare in the U.S., but IME, very common online.  I suspect self-selection: INTPs love to debate, and don't mind if no one ever "wins." :)

My first introduction to Myers-Briggs was in the Air Force.  They used it to teach people how to communicate with others who might not be on the same wavelength.  Perhaps it might be worth considering from a peak oil standpoint.  Charts and figures may convince Ts, but they may not be the best way to convince everyone.

I agree that MBTI can help target a message to be better received by different types. Having said that, I fear that PO is a type of issue that fits some communication styles much better (or worse) than others. For example, production rates apply to graphs well, but apply less so to 'stories'.

This may be my own (MBTI) bias at work, but it also appears to me that there is a tendency of certain types to accept PO, while other types tend to reject it. Likewise, there are certain types that are more likely to be optimistic or pessimistic about what it all means. I'm not trying to turn my observations into a 'rule', but I think the N/S preference jumps out on this last one. I guess this is similar to your observation about INTPs online (I'd expand it to NTs, generally), just applied differently.

Finally, how can a person 'win' an argument, since arguments are never finished?

This may be my own (MBTI) bias at work, but it also appears to me that there is a tendency of certain types to accept PO, while other types tend to reject it.

Interesting.  I'd never considered that.

Likewise, there are certain types that are more likely to be optimistic or pessimistic about what it all means. I'm not trying to turn my observations into a 'rule', but I think the N/S preference jumps out on this last one.

I think I'd agree with that.  Perhaps because Ns see the big picture - the patterns, not the details?

I guess this is similar to your observation about INTPs online (I'd expand it to NTs, generally), just applied differently.

I think it's INs.  It's the introverts who are more likely to hang out online instead of meeting people face-to-face.

Finally, how can a person 'win' an argument, since arguments are never finished?

I have a couple of friends who debate online all the time.  One is an INTP, and she argues until she thinks she understands where the other person is coming from.  Once she understands, she loses interest and drops the subject.  The other is an ENFJ, who argues until the other person stops.  She thinks that if you stop arguing, you're admitting she's right.  She thinks she "won," and is happy.  

They get along great.  

I'm also an INTP. It explains some things, but I began to wonder about the validity of MBTI after reading one of the more in-depth books by either Isabel or Katharine (My ENFJ girlfriend loaned it to me :-) ). She used "shadow selves" to explain behavior that didn't fit into the type. That seemed too inconsistent to me.

There's also this:

I never liked any type of personality test because it is also an attempt to label someone as some type.  This then implies that these people will be static within that type.  People do not always work this way and this type of analyses can lead to overt stereotypes.  People can exhibit all aspects of the classifications at different times and situations.

I think people like to pigeon-hole things to try to make life easier to understand.  The easiest answer is not always the correct answer.

Connecting this with the above thread about the range of topics "allowed" on a Drumbeat. I have to say that I just love the wide -ranging education I get in TOD drumbeats... there is so much that I didn't know I didn't know!!!

Maybe it's my British background...but I confess to never having come across INTP before and had to Google it...

Going to intp.org I was therefore shocked to find a clear description of how I perceive myself!!

But the funniest bit was "Their primary weakness is likely to be a tendency to overlook or become impatient with details."

How true!!

Ok, what's with all the INTPs here? :-)

I read the description at http://www.typelogic.com/intp.html
and find it fascinating, especially this bit:

An INTP arguing a point may very well be trying to convince himself as much as his opposition. In this way INTPs are markedly different from INTJs, who are much more confident in their competence and willing to act on their convictions.

Yes, I am an INTJ.  I generally do not argue a point unless I have done the research beforehand and am sure of my position.  I try to be nice about it but don't always succeed. :-)

Ok, what's with all the INTPs here? :-)

They're the ones like to argue for fun...and don't mind if nothing is ever settled and no one ever "wins."  :)

An INTP arguing a point may very well be trying to convince himself as much as his opposition. In this way INTPs are markedly different from INTJs, who are much more confident in their competence and willing to act on their convictions.

Yes, I think that's true.  They argue to understand...not just their opponents' POV, but their own.

They're the ones like to argue for fun...and don't mind if nothing is ever settled and no one ever "wins."  :)

Self-selection at its finest. :-)  If this is the case then almost by definition it's no surprise so many of the posters are INTP.  I'll pop up from time to time to comment on something or argue a point I am sure of, but arguing "for fun" with no closure is just not my thing.  Fascinating, this Myers-Briggs Type Indicator... I was skeptical when I first came across it, but it's astounding how accurate it seems to be.  And not just in the one-horoscope-fits-all "The stars predict tomorrow you'll wake up, do a bunch of stuff, and then go back to sleep" kind of way.

While I'm putting in pop references* for fun (not arguing for fun, just writing for fun :-) ) I'd like to include this HitchHiker's Guide to The Galaxy quote regarding self-selection:

To summarize: it is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

* http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/weirdalyankovic/yourhoroscopefortoday.html

Thus the greatness of GW !

George Washington did not really want the job, could not wait to quit it, but did a superb jon whilst in office :-))

Best Hopes for more reluctant office holders,


The direction of breakthroughs in scientific/mathematical models, like those developed by Newton and Einstein are not inevitable.  If Newton or Einstein were not around we would have developed some type of model to explain the phenomena we were able to observe, but it may have been quite different.  The inevitability of calculus or relativity is an illusion, created by their simplistic beauty and the false belief that they represent a direct comprehension of nature.

Newton and Einstein are like Mozart and Picasso.  Without them there would still be music and painting, but the creative path taken forward would have been distictly altered.

The reason you believe this is because you do not know about, or read about, or remember all the others who just were about to develop the same theory while Newton (or Darwin, or Einstein) we already publishing it. For calculus, the guy you folks don't remember is Leibnitz, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_Leibniz who invented calculus independently of Newton. For evolution, it's Wallace. In the more modern times, big discoveries are often published five times by different labs within weeks from each other.

And I remember Leibniz, if only because he has a notation named after him.  ;-)

I was aware of the calculus (Newton published second from memory) and quantum mechanics was a group effort.  

OTOH, General Relativity was a unique tour de force IMHO.  I am not aware of anyone else working on even Special Relativity other than that Swiss patent office clerk.

The contributions of Buckminister Fuller are also unique because of his daring and broad range of synthesis.


I have to say that Liebnitz is not known well in English-speaking countries because our darling is the English Newton. Einstein is accorded credit for a ton of things he didn't actually do, because the Jewish lobby in the US is very strong, so here we're raised to believe he was this universal genius. In truth, it was an Italian scientist who came up with the E=MC^2 thing, and Einstein's Nobel was for the photoelectric effect, a groundbreaking experiment in itself. Einstein built upon the work of others as well as adding insights of his own to come up with Special Relativity, but in the US the work of the others isn't even thought about - it's Un-American/Un-Jewish and therefore beneath contempt. Einstein did some great stuff, including invent a refrigerator that didn't use poisonous gas, and a bunch of stuff. He was not the sprung-up-from-nowhere genius Americans are taught he was - his parents had him getting private lecture from the best mathematicians they could possibly get from about the age 10 on. Like the myth that Bill Gates was a poor working-class kid like most of us were, the myth that Einstein sprang complete from his own forehead is not true, and is damaging. Einstein went on after Special and General Relativity to become a voice in physics through the 1920s, before fading into "superannuation" in the 1930s on, Oppenheimer and co., calling upon him to write a letter calling for the development of an atom bomb was making use of him as a symbol, not as a current scientist. Einstein was an ardent Zionist, apparently the massecres and cleansings that accompanied the founding of the "State of Israel" were OK with him. He was also a wife-abuser; when his first wife (a math and physics genius whom some credit with his early papers) became overworked by him and unproductive, he ran out on her and his child by her and moved on. Subsequent wives/partners were ill treated. His last was a cousin, whom he kept in a state of essential slavery, and she had to hide bruises from his beatings too. Indications are he used her as a sexual partner too. Research all of this and you'll find it - hard to get from bowdlerized US sources but overseas sources will have it.

I used to laugh when hearing the USSR's media apparatchiks claimed they invented baseball, but knowing what I know now about how empires manage and filter their media, hell, they probably did!

Please leave your bigotry at home.
A comment on the "e=mc^2 thing"

And no I am not defending zionism or his trtmt of women.

"Jewish lobby..."

stopped reading

Special Relativity had several progenitors.  The length contraction and time dilation equations, for example, were proposed to allow for the existence of the aether to be consistent with experimental evidence by Lorentz and others.  Many of the technical details were there.  Einstein's contribution, often misunderstood, is one of extension.  He more or less proposed Maxwell's equations were in fact the correct laws for E+M in all inertial frames, despite the bizarre implication the speed of light is the same in all inertial frames.

To my knowledge, GR is his alone modulo the mathematicians who developed Riemannian Geometry and Tensor Calculus.
However, I think its inconceivable GR would not have been discovered had Einstein not lived.  It would have just happened a bit later.
Quite a bit later,  Perhaps not even to this day.

There was no experimental evidence driving GR, and the last experiments to nail it down (experiemnts looking for subtle effects) were within my adulthood.  Gravity waves are still NS AFAIK.

Any physical truth will one day be discovered, absent social collapse (see Roman Empire) or a l;ack of other resources. (PO ?).

I checked out the Iralian that came up with E-mc2 and I was not impressed, even if are claims are true.  Constant speed of light, ether winds are part of his world view.

Best Hopes for Science.


Quite a bit later, Perhaps not even to this day.  There was no experimental evidence driving GR, and the last experiments to nail it down (experiemnts looking for subtle effects) were within my adulthood.  Gravity waves are still NS AFAIK.

Perhaps, although the people doing string theory have GR popping up even though the approach is foundationally Quantum Mechanical.  Hard to see where things would have gone.  From the experimental side, it seems possible we could have figured it out from the anomalies in our GPS satellites caused by GR.  The effects are not insignificant.  Or maybe from gravitational lensing observable in astronomy.  
Any physical truth will one day be discovered, absent social collapse (see Roman Empire) or a l;ack of other resources. (PO ?).
One caveat: its possible the laws governing our universe (String Theory?) require energy levels inaccessible to almost any imaginable planetary civilization in order to experimentally verify them.  

As far as the others involved with SR, I agree with you.  Einstein's was the insight that put it into context, provided understanding.  
Best Hopes for Science
I empathize with the sentiment.  
A personal question.

AFAIK I am the only person in the PO universe that has done detailed work & analysis on electrifying inter-city freight rail and a massive buildout on Urban rail in the US as a response to Peal Oil.  (The EU & the Swiss are thinking about ways to get more freight onto their already electrified rail, the Russians & Indians are steadily electrifying their railroads).

I am on a deliberate campaign to spread this meme as broadly as possible at some cost to "what I would rather be doing".

Since the logic is compelling, will it happen anyway without me ?  Or would it likely be "The Road Not Taken" as we each buy out own EV, struggle through a depression, bicycle and walk ?

How much influence can I have ?



Alan: it may or may not "happen anyway", but without personal effort such as yours, it'll happen too late to prevent a lot of preventable pain.  I applaud your efforts, they are likely to make a difference!
A lot! And you likely won't know when something you've done/said/written/posted flips the critical switch in that critical person's mind somewhere until well after that flip happens, if you know ever.

If you haven't, take a look at Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Yes, it's pop sociology but nevertheless provides a useful paradigm for thinking about this idea diffusion process.

IMO, start out with the objective of solving that critical person's problem, packaging the information they need in the most compelling, concise, emotionally neutral form that you possibly can. Provide what they need as well as what they want. Make the evidence solid with traceback to sources where possible, providing an audit trail for your credibility. Make assumptions and conclusions explicit as a common error is assuming the audience is making the same assumptions and draws the same conclusion from the evidence and the logic. But they come to the information with different experiences, knowledge sets and biases than yours.

Join Toastmasters and use it as a forum to try things out and to get audience feedback to check how you are doing at the above.

IMO, Use this technology to hang it out there 24/7 in all the forms that you can. Put up webpages (old fashioned), convert your slide presentations to PDF handouts and post them, put together wiki pages on the topics. Then, when the decision maker has the need to know and goes looking, your information is there ready and waiting. But you likely will never know when or where.


I have loved the electric rail idea for years, even the old historic ones like the New Canaan, from a purely aesthetic point of view, and the principles they operate by are clearly so efficient that I don't think a technical argument can be made against them.  The problem is, of course, that no one can see a way to get rich by going into that business (even billionaires such as Matt Simmons, T. Boone Pickens, and Richard Rainwater, all who are convinced ABSOLUTELY that peak oil is soon, do not put their money in rail in general, or electric rail in particular in a noticable way (does that bother anyone other than me by the way?  Likewise barge lines....Simmons is absolutely correct in pointing out that transportation use of fuel can be reduced in America by VAST amounts if we simply move non time sensitive commodity shipping over to barge and rail....in other words, we CHOOSE to use the current astronomical amount of fuel we do for transportation, it is IN NO WAY a technical or physical nessicity, it is a CHOICE...so why is it that the billionaires of the peak movement do not invest in at least a few small pilot projects in the electric rail and barge industry?  hmmm....

Alan, I will close by way of a question....why is it that you see electric rail and electric car as mutually exclusive?....I am crazy about the idea of electric rail for commute and intercity passenger and frieght, combined with electric car for nieghborhood, local shopping mall and to school work....even little rental electrics used as station cars...mixed into a garden city type nieghborhood like Village Homes in Davis CA, with semibermed houses and passive solar..., lots of home working by computer and gardening. and the shopping area close by bermed into the ground, with fresh produce available and greenhouses on sight...man, I am so DREAMIN', but it would be the way to live alright....the consumption CRASH could be heard around the world, and the next pop you hear is the sound of the OPEC back breaking!

I am so dreamin'.....:-)

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

ESTJ, baby!

I think I'm more naturally a more "internal" type, but had to learn to become an ESTJ to survive.

But I may be fooling myself, there have been times in my life when .... TSHTF, or was about to, one case where it was "the plane hits the sea" if I didn't do something, and I was ESTJ all the way.

red hammer Think about it ..... RED HAMMER You see, I was listening to ol' Dr Dean Edell one day, and he did this thing, where he asked some simple arithmatic questions, I remember the first one added up to 26, and the rest all 15. Then asked listeners to think of a color and a tool. I thought of red hammer, which is kinda lame, but rationalized that some of the leaves out front are red, and the guy across the st. is using a hammer quite a lot. WELL..... it turns out that after mentally calculating those math questions, amost everyone thinks of red hammer!!

Frankly, I like blue more, and my idea of a cool tool is something like a vise-grips or diagonal cutters.

So, what it is about human brain wiring that makes almost everyone do some simple math questions of a certain type, sum, etc., and then think of red and hammer?

and how much of this stuff do TPTB know, that they can insert into radio conversations, TV, billboards, etc., to make people think a certain way? Dean Edell says this kind of thing is common, and used quite a bit by stage magicians.

I hate questions like this! Good for little more than parlor-game conversation (and my first degree was in psychology).

I must be a hedgehog because my one big thing that I know is that things aren't simple :-/?!

I don't think so.  Acknowledging complexity seems to be a foxy trait.  ;-)

I don't know any one big thing.  My mom has been complaining that I'm a "jack of all trades, master of none" ever since I was kid.

I tend to fall into the category of 'Master of many trades and Jack of none'  :-))
Always mine and my kids favourites: Aesops Fables

Couldnt find a fox and a hedgehog,

But here is one  I always liked.


And of course, there is always the wily Reynard.


Gosh, I've learned to love Aesop, and I use the fable form as a primer in my writing classes. Students dig writing them.

Here's Aesop's shortest, most fabulous fable:

"Finding itself in a smith's shop and spying there a File, a viper set upon it, gnawing upon it as greedily as can be. 'You had best leave me be,' said the File, 'for I am one who, upon occasion, can bite iron and steel.'

Moral: It is the fate of Envy to attack those characters that are superior to its malice.

[sounds like a troll I know...]

I hate questions like this! Good for little more than parlor-game conversation (and my first degree was in psychology).

This one in particular is a little tainted, by the pre-survey discussion, and (amazingly) the point value listed at the start of every question.

If they were collecting results it might be enough to make you wonder if those sneaky psychologists were really testing something else.  It would be amusing for instance to change the preamble, or the point value, and see how the distribution of answers changes.

Wow - inventory number out!

Crude UP  5.1M
Gasoline UP 1.4M

The EIA inventory reports are out.

Crude a build of 5.1 million barrels.

Gasoline a build of 1.4 million barrels.

Distillates a draw of 1.2 million barrels.

This is very bearish. Crude is dropping fast, down 80 cents just minutes after the news.

Ron Patterson

Demand for distillate and gasoline are way above expectations:

Crude oil keeps piling up:

US production looks good:

Can someone that understands the EIA Weekly Petroleum Data better than I explain the data I pulled out below?  Why is there a draw on SPR and such a large import?  Also, why is Total Product Supplied down this week?  Is this just a function of refinery maintenance?

SPR Stocks W/D or Added    -15  
Other Stocks W/D or Added -314

Total Crude Oil Incl SPR +1,040 (since last week)

PRODUCT SUPPLIED        10/27/06 11/03/06 11/10/06 11/17/06
Finished Motor Gasoline   9,499    9,256    9,110    9,149
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel    1,622    1,580    1,878    1,453
Distillate Fuel Oil              4,590    4,364    4,603    4,210
Residual Fuel Oil                  690      648      507      667
Propane/Propylene         1,213    1,348    1,252    1,257
Other Oils                         3,870    3,880    3,966    3,595
Total Product Supplied   21,484   21,076   21,317   20,331

As of 11/17/06, Total Petroleum Imports (four week running average of crude + products) are down 1.2 mbpd from the 12/30/05 number.

And again, we don't know what percentage of crude oil inventories consists of heavy, sour versus light, sweet.  

The SPR decline is a mystery to me.  


Venezuelan oil exports to US drop again


So far this year, Venezuela has placed in the US a mean of 1.15 million bpd of crude oil compared to 1.31 million bpd in the same period of 2005. Therefore, the gap amounts to 153,000 bpd or 11.6 percent.
Venezuela is the poster child for geopolitical problems negatively impacting oil production. If you take all of your oil revenues and give them to the poor instead of reinvesting in infrastructure, pretty soon your production starts to drop.
So, how much of the oil revenue should go to helping "the poor"?  Half?  Or less?

Perhaps the oil revenue should be concentrated in the hands of corporations like BP, so that they could ignore the deteriorating condition of pipelines in Alaska? (Was that BP?)

Or maybe we should concentrate oil wealth in the hands of a few people who can buy themselves some political power and kill off all those damned "useless eaters"....?

I don't know, RR, it seems pretty easy to take potshots at those damned commies as well as those damned capitalists.

The only thing worse than "Godless Communism" is "Godless Capitalism."  We are all Christ-haunted whether we like it or not.  Whatever we do to "the least of these" is the mirror into which we look.  Especially if we unexpectedly become "the least of these" some day.

The question is: "what I you want to do between now and whenever I die?"

How can we figure out what to do with all that money coming from the blessed bloody curse of petroleum?  Shall we send it to poor Nigerians?  Shall we send it directly to the USA Department of War?  Or maybe to Disney, so they can build more theme parks?  Or maybe to mega-churches, so they can build bigger parking lots for Jesus?  Will the Great and Infallible God Free Market save us all?  Or will we be damned after placing our faith in Free Market's Only Begotten Son, The American Military, out there killing for the Lord?

Maybe if we all tended our own gardens more, we'd have less time to kill each other and less need to overuse petroleum.

Sorry for the rant, but evil is diffuse and the errors of the so-called free market are at least as foolish as those of the so-called command economies.  All economics are designed and manipulated for someone's benefit, and frankly nobody seems to really give a damn about the oil industry's infrastructure.

Oil itself, meanwhile, is still a blessed curse or a cursed blessing.  Tower of Babel, anyone?

Table 11 didn't show any change for SPR, 688.6 million barrels if memory serves.
I am not sure I can explain it but the increase in imports of one million barrels per day coupled with the decrease in total products supplied of one million barrels per day is clearly responsible for the build in crude inventories of 5.1 million barrels. If you are not shoving it out the front door as fast as your pulling it in the back door, you are going to get a build in inventories.

Ron Patterson

Ya...what I'm wondering is if the build in crude is due to some withdrawl from the SPR?  Why would we do that?
It's most likely just an oddity of the moment but it could also represent a quiet way of stockpiling in advance of some military action.
Bush is going to Jordan and Cheney to Saudia Arabia soon as well.  Checking with with ME allies just on a whim?
Breakthrough leads to ethanol plant expansion

New technology will allow use of entire corn plant as well as other plant material.

A South Dakota company said Monday it has made breakthroughs in the production of ethanol that enables it to use corn stalks, leaves and other plant material in the production of the motor fuel.

The new technology will be used at a Broin Companies plant in the northwest Iowa town of Emmetsburg, located 120 miles northwest of Des Moines.

The Sioux Falls, S.D., company will use technology it has developed with Denmark-based Novozymes and Delaware-based DuPont that breaks down the cellulose in corn stalks and other plant parts into basic sugars that can be fermented into ethanol.

Re: More cities reject coal power.

Now we're talking.  The first step is to reject coal power.  We can't wait for carbon taxes or other schemes to get utilities to switch away from coal power.  It is not the answer but it is the beginning of the answer while we fiddle with taxing externalities.

Besides, look at what a great success cap and trade was in Europe. Some of the damn government put the caps at levels above what the affected industries were already emitting. Jeesh.

OT...I won't be around tomorrow, so Happy Thansgiving. I am most thankful for TOD.


This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the
restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,
that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on
Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the
church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room,
seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't
have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be
a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So
we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW
microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
on toward the city dump.

Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the
dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump
closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off
into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
decided to throw our's down.

That's what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving
dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the
next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, "Kid,
we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of
garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And
I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope
under that garbage."

After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we
finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down
and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the
police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the
shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the
police officer's station.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at
the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for
being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and
we didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out
and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again,
which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station
there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was
both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I
can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid.
Get in the back of the patrol car."

And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the
quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of
Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop
signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the
Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars,
being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to
get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of
cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station.
They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach,
the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to
mention the aerial photography.

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put
us in the cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your
wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my
wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you
want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I
said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?"
Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the
toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took
out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the
toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie
was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice
(remember Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few
nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back
to the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat,
and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.

We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back
of each one, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up,
and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he
sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the
twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows
and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog.
And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry,
'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the
judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And
we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not
what I came to tell you about.

Came to talk about the draft.

They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street,
where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected,
neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one
day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so
I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to
look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted
to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York,
and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all
kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave
me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604."

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I
wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and
guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill,
KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and
he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down
yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me,
sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections,
detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me
at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four
hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty
ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was
inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no
part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the
last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there,
and I walked up and said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got
one question. Have you ever been arrested?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre,
with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all
the phenome... - and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever
go to court?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on
the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want
you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW kid!!"

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's
where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after
committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly
looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father
rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And
they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the
bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest
father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly
'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me
and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay
$50 and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?"
And I said, "Littering." And they all moved away from me on the bench
there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I
said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand,
and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the
bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of
things, until the Sargeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it
up and said.

"Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-
officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for
forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had
fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there,
and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it
down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the
pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the
other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on
the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the
following words:


I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to
ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm
sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench
'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women,
kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me and
said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprints
off to Washington."

And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a
study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm
singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar
situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a
situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into
the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say "Shrink, You can get
anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out. You know, if
one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and
they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an
organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and
walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and
all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the

With feeling. So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and
sing it when it does. Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud.
I've been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. I could sing it
for another twenty five minutes. I'm not proud... or tired.

So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part
harmony and feeling.

We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing.

All right now.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Excepting Alice
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Da da da da da da da dum
At Alice's Restaurant

Alice's Restaurant
By Arlo Guthrie

And thanks to you, Rat!  I've been meaning to look up those lyrics for years.. now I've got'em with your name at the top..

O-bla Di, O-bla Da Kumbaya, Babe!

RE: BIO Releases New Report On Sustainable Agriculture To Support Growing Biofuel Industry

Off their website:

Food Plus Fuel, Not Food or Fuel
U.S. Farmers Can Produce Both (November 21)
The Biotechnology Industry Organization today released a report detailing the potential of cellulosic biomass as an energy resource and the promise of no-till cropping for greater residue collection.

Maybe so in the long term, but in the USA midwest in the near term it is likely Food or Fuel as the ethanol tsunami washes across the agricultural system, forcing producers to make both short term production and long term investment decisions, many betting the farm on each turn.

Do livestock producers make the big long term facility investments to switch from raising livestock that eat corn but not distillers grains to those than can? With the prospect of cellulosic biomass and gassification, will the supply of the distillers byproducts disappear before they recover their investment? Do they invest in corn growing and handling equipment and facilities with the prospect of a crop like switchgrass becoming the preferred biomass source, requiring different equipment and facilities?

With ethanol's current impact on corn prices, livestock producers likely can't continue doing business the way that they have been and crop producers would likely be foolish to do what they have been. Crop producers that rent certainly won't as absentee landlords increase rents to reflect the increasing land prices that result from markedly increased corn prices. Both livestock and crop prodcuers have to keep their bankers happy both in the short term (year to year cash flow to obtain and pay off operating notes) and in the long term (cash to service the mortgage).

Following a link from by Gary Dikker's comment on the post Gas Prices, Gouging, and Food versus Fuel on Robert R's R-Squared Energy Blog:

AgriNews- Tuesday, November 21, 2006 Where will all the corn come from?

"There are 25 corn processing plants operating in Iowa with total capacity of 980 million bushels per year," Wisner said. "That is equivalent to 47 percent of the estimated 2006 Iowa corn crop. Plants being expanded and new plants currently under construction will need 430 million bushels of corn processing capacity. These plants will bring capacity to 68 percent of the current Iowa corn crop."

Plants that would use another 1.16 billion bushels of corn are in various panning stages in Iowa.

"If all these plants are built, we'll (use) 123 percent of the current Iowa corn crop, and there are at least seven plants operating or planned to operate just across Iowa's borders," Wisner said. "These plants will use a substantial amount of Iowa corn."

Using an Iowa average corn yield of 188 bushels per acre, which is 15 bushels above the 2005 yield, corn acreage would need to increase by 60 percent to accommodate corn processing for all current and planned plants. If plants are operating at 120 percent of capacity, Iowa corn acreage would need to increase by 83 percent.

"These are huge increases in acreage and would require a sharp reduction in soybean plantings as well as shifting some oats, hay, pasture and Conservation Reserve Program land into corn," Wisner said.

Wisner said that ethanol plants have little storage and if they run low on corn they will bid aggressively for supplies.

"At times during the past nine months, differences as large as 15 to 20 cents per bushel have occurred in corn bids in relatively small areas of Iowa," Wisner said. "Greater differences are possible in the future as more ethanol plants come into operation and compete with each other and livestock feeders for corn supplies. When adverse weather reduces yields, the competition for corn will intensify."

Ethanol and Livestock: Synergies or Competition? PowerPoint

Kearney News 11/14/2006 Cattle-ethanol-corn has unknowns

The Corn and Soybean Digest Aug 16, 2006 Ethanol Shifts Crop Acres To Corn In Corn Belt States

Rising corn costs place greater pressure on beef, pork and poultry producers who feed that grain, Westhoff says. . . .

A concern for livestock producers is "too much, too fast," Westhoff says. Livestock feeding systems will require a transition period to learn to use all of the byproduct feed coming onto the market. Big questions remain. What will happen in a drought year with a short corn crop? Who will bid the most to get the needed grain?

A farm-supply co-op view of ethanol

Livestock concerns
On the other side of the MFA Inc. building, Dr. Kent Haden, vice president of livestock operations, has some concerns. He doesn't want to be the rain cloud over the ethanol parade. However, he gets paid to look at the health of the state's livestock industry and factors impacting it. Ethanol is most definitely such a factor, so he has been studying its potential impact in a state that ranks second only to Texas in the size of its cow-calf herd (2.1 million cows).

His main concern is that if increased corn planting doesn't take up the slack, competition for corn could drive prices so high that it could force some of Missouri's livestock out of state - perhaps even to Argentina or Brazil. "When livestock goes, usually it's poultry first, then hogs and then cattle [which corresponds to each segment's dependence on corn for feed]," Haden says.

A newspaper story with a broader perspective than the above: Ethanol: Blessing or bane? 10/30/06, Greg Burns, Chicago Tribune

John Deere stock is also reflecting the ethanol boom: Deere posts record year for earnings

With the campaigns for the '08 elections beginning, a big issue to put on the radar screens is the 2007 Farm Bill and the behavior of the politicians and stakeholders in this sausage-making. With the arrival of biofuels, this chessmatch is going to be even more complex than usual. Should make for some very interesting alliances.

Corn producers will likely be pushing hard to remove the future risk of low prices due to oversupply from their acreage expansion by putting a taxpayer subsidized floor under corn prices. Taking this potential market risk out will likely drive expansion even farther and may inhibit future transitions to crops unsupported by Federal subsidy programs. Such policy could lead to an even larger transfer of funds from taxpayers in the blue states to farmers in the red states, an interesting phenomenon in itself.

(See Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database)

The Farm Bill -- An upcoming heavyweight bout

Farm Bill Clean Energy - AgEnergy Newswire

See the US Farm Bill 2007 section of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Ag Observatory

And to add to the mining the topsoil problem-- cattle producers have found a cheaper feed using distillers grains combined with the roughage of ground corn stalks.  Instead of leaving the stalks in the fields to add nutrients to the soil, the whole stalks are being baled and used for feed.  
A little talked about ethanol problem is the h-u-g-e growing volume of distillers grains and how they can be used. Producers say they need research $$ to figure it out.
What if the blog sites of the internet were being mined just like we mine the earth for minerals and use them to fuel our energy needs, but what if the internet was being mined for information on the future of energy today.  What if you are all part of a big puzzle box, A chinese puzzle box, ran out of Britian or some other country not the USA? What if this massive movement has been going on so long that you now know them as TPTB (The Powers That Be).

What if the whole of the internet is one big computer program doing the full study of human actions on the world around us?  What if the normal world you hve grown up in has never been normal from the first radio signal to the present right this second. NOW!

What if I were writing a story on all this?  What if I was doing research and found the Noise in the Machine and discovered it all?

 What if you all think I am crazy?
 What if Ron and I are clones?
 What if leanan is a robot?

 Lovely morning to you all,
Food for thought.
peak Oil is here and you are falling off the edge of reason, can I be far wrong or far gone to splaT!!

No links, just yours,

Yeah yeah, you don't need real food or water or trees, you can just live off of the Internet.

Now I know that's you in "Make Love Not Warcraft" (excellent funny episode on YouTube until they remove it by the way).

And Leanan is a robot, and I'm a slightly kooky gov't AI, and we're all in the Matrix.

A diet of Twinkies and Coke will make you drifty, get some meat'n'vegs and B-vitamins into you, nerd boy.

I suggest steak'n'salads, and get yourself some StressTabs. Dr. Laura notwithstanding, StressTabs will shape you up in a couple of days. In Southern California the remedy for the blues and flakeys is a Cobb Salad, lots of good greens and protiens there. Results may vary outside the geographical region.

Sick of high prices?  Make your own fuel!

Make your own gas: The average person (with $1.95 million) can now own and run his or her own biodiesel plant.

A much cheaper way...$5K

A friend of my sons' bought the book and made his own digester for even less. Currently, he runs a generator, pick-up, small tractor,and a 4 wheeler on his own fuel.

Fully 78% of Americans want Washington to impose a 40 mile per gallon (mpg) fuel-efficiency standard for American vehicles, according to a new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) national opinion survey released by the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI).

This is killing me. I want, I want... 100MPG standard! (but I want to drive my Hummer). I want... 100K/year minimum wage! (but I don't want to pay $100 for a cheap haircut). Anybody want to join the wishlist?

I want YOU to drive a 100 mpg car (or take transit).  I want YOU to turn the thermostat down to 58F and install a solar water heater on your roof (after adding insulation and triple pane windows).  I want YOU to get US out of this fix we are in.

OTOH, I want to enjoy life and I already have enough hassles and problems in my life.  Don't need no more !

Best Hopes for "We are all in this together" (WW II motto)


Right on Alan!
Best Hopes for "We are all in this together" (WW II motto)

Well it looks pretty hopeless now, but in the longer run it is not a question of if, but when. If you and the others who work on community solutions can keep it going, I'm sure it will be sooner rather than later.

Considering that new cars represent about 3% of the registered base of vehicles, it is quite clear that CAFE standards, regardless of their level and regardless of whether the new vehicles average 40 mpg, increasing the mileage of new vehicles will have very little impact on energy consumption or greenhouse gases.   Increase the mpg of new vehicles even by the totally unrealistic 50% and what do you get?  About a 1.5% increase in the average mpg of the installed based. And, as we know the average mpg of the installed base has noting to do with EPA mileage standards. As of 2004, according to Wikipedia, the average mpg of vehicles was a little over 16 mpg.  

This doesn't even address the fact that these polls just represent a bunch of people who have their head up their ass and don't seem to realize that 40mpg and greater vehicles are available now.  Give up your "need" for larger and larger and more powerful vehicles now and we would have 40mpg vehicles in a heart beat.  The auto companies have done a stellar job of increasing efficiency but this is not reflected in mpg simply because all this has been canceled out by size and power.

The answer, as usual, to our problems is to mandate that the auto companies engage in magic and unleash all that secret technology they've had for years that will allow all of us to drive Expeditions at 40mpg plus.  It's all their fault, of course, and we can't expect anyone to exercise any responsibility in this area.  It is, of course, an American right to sit on our fat asses and wait for someone else to fix the problems that we have created due to our own sloth,ignorance, and unwillingness to experience even the slightest degree of inconvenience.

Now let's see a poll asking what percentage will demand that we institute higher and higher gas taxes, carbon taxes, and/or rationing pronto.  

My first reaction was to send this poll to my congressional representatives but then I realized that if all these people really wanted 40mpg, they would have it now. My Prius does 50mpg and I am so not suffering or inconvenienced.

I repeat.  Increased CAFE standards, while they will do little harm, will do little good.  The registered base is just too overwhelming.  

I disagree that the answer is to mandate the automanufacturers to do anything - they are after all only catering for market demand. The answer is to change demand, and the way to do that is to tax consumption of the fuel (as all European countries do) so that consumers are forced to buy more economic vehicles for the sake of their wallet.

Of course, I do not believe for one moment that any American President (Rep or Dem) would ever engage in such a vote-losing policy.

Thus the non-economic regulations of CAFE.  Have your cake ("high" fleet mileage) and eat it too (low gas prices).

How utterly American !




The median age of cars in the US fleet has climbed to an all-time high of 9.0 years, according to a vehicle population report released by R. L. Polk & Co.

Only 4.3% of total passenger cars and trucks were scrapped in 2005--a low not seen since 1949. The scrappage rate for passenger cars in 2005 was 4.5 percent, another record low.

In addition, light truck scrappage rates experienced a third straight year of decline at 4.1 percent in 2005

Over a ten year period, improved CAFE for new cars would have a significant impact on the overall fleet.  Of course, gas prices & recession/depression will also have major impacts 2007-2016.

New cars tend to be driven more, and the fuel efficient car is more likely to be driven more when gas costs more (one of the few sources of price elasticity of demand in American suburbia, see SUVs & hybrids sharing a garage).

This is particularlt true of US households where the # of vehicles > # of licensed drivers.  Speciality use, low mileage (gas & actual) vehicles skew the fleet averages.

If gas is >$4 gallon, how many times will the boat be hauled to the lake ?  And how much gas is used for boat hauling when gas is $2/gallon ?

CAFE improvements are a silver BB.  Small for the first few years but growing in importance over time.

In 2015, when US imports of oil are 8.7 million/day, the "Fuel Economy Act on 2007" will no longer be needed, but the "hybrid econoboxes" built as a consequence of that Act in 2009-2012 (pre-PO) will SLIGHTLY soften the blow.

OTOH, the 58 Urban rail projects started between 2008-2011 from the "Non-Oil Transportation Act of 2007" will be completed by 2015 and the completion of the second wave of 117 Urban rail projects will be desperately anticipated as ground is broken on the third wave of 552 projects.


Best Hopes,


When the economy tanks, most of us will keep on driving what we've got for as long as we can.  In Cuba they still drive 50-year-old vehicles.  Of course higher CAFE standards are a good idea, but will do very little for the big picture if we start too late, and it may already be too late.
Good point Alan, if gas goes above $4, we may still have a mainly gas-guzzler fleet, but the fleet will be driven less.

Mom'n'pop on bicycles, in fact during the last gas price spike a redneck couple on bikes glided by me one day, conversing in their Okie twangs, it warmed my heart no end.

I repeat.  Increased CAFE standards, while they will do little harm, will do little good.  The registered base is just too overwhelming.

I'm not sure about that.  Current CAFE standards have promoted light trucks over cars.  Also, manufacturers are engineering to the EPA mileage tests, resulting in vehicles designed for non-real-world use;  higher CAFE means higher levels of non-real-world design.

I have read this crap for years now.

I buy a new vehicle about every two years.

I have got better mileage than the window sticker in EVERY instance.

People expect the trusty Camry to get 32mpg when the accerlerator or brake is in constant use.

Guess thats why my girlfriend can drive my 05 Solara and get 29mpg, and I drive it over the same commute and get 34.

So what is "real world use"?

If your my G/F, it is:

Keep the accelerator mashed as you head for the stop sign, then nail the brakes.

Keep the gas mashed toward the "reduce speed ahead" sign, then when you hit the reduced speed limit, nail the brakes.

Brake all the way downhill, then mash the gas uphill.

Warm the car up 20 minutes before you leave in the am.

Follow the car ahead close enough, so you need to constantly accerlerate and brake.

When your not paying attention (adjusting the radio) automatically brake.

Check the tire pressures when a tire is flat.

Synthetic oil will ruin your engine!

I don't need an air filter, I need nail polish!

You have listed behaviorial methods of attaining higher mileage.  CAFE doesn't address or promote behavior driving behavior at all.  I'd even maintain that with the loopholes, CAFE doesn't even have a positive effect on purchasing behavior.  Did you notice fuel economy of new vehicles sold actually rose after Katrina (for the first time in 20 years)?  Katrina caused higher gasoline prices, not changes in CAFE.

If you are only averaging 34 MPG, you aren't doing all that well.  The EPA lops 17% off their highway test and 10% off the city one when reporting figures to consumers.  As I wrote above (and you apparently consider "crap"), the tests do not reflect real-world driving.  A 2007 Solara that is reported as 29/34 MPG actually benched 26/41 MPG.  Where I live, typical highway driving is with A/C running, 75 to 80 MPH, and using California RFG II gasoline--I bet you won't get close to 41 MPG.  EPA highway doesn't run CA RFG II gasoline, doesn't use the A/C, and only goes (briefly) 65 MPH;  average "highway" speed is something like 50 MPH.

For model year 2008, the EPA will start using revised tests.  They are doing this because consumer's typically don't get the mileage on the sticker (even though it is already lowered by 17% and 10% for highway and city).  Just Google the terms EPA, rating, and 2008.

Here's a choice bit from US Federal Register (bold text added by me):

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing changes to the test methods used to calculate the fuel economy estimates that are posted on window stickers of all new cars and light trucks sold in the United States. A fundamental issue with today's fuel economy estimates is that the underlying test procedures do not fully represent real-world driving conditions.  ... City MPG estimates for most vehicles would drop 10 percent to 20 percent from today's labels, depending on the vehicle. The Highway MPG estimates would generally drop 5 percent to 15 percent for most vehicles.

What would be really interesting is if CAFE used these new figures.  A vehicle with current window stickers of 15/20 currently scores 15/(1-10%)x0.6 + 20/(1-17%)x0.4 = 19.6 according to CAFE.  However, if it in year 2008 it scores 15x(1-10%)x0.6 + 20x(1-5%)x0.4 = 15.7 in the best case or 15x(1-20%)x0.6 + 20x(1-15%)x0.4 = 14 MPG in the worst, that vehicle will be in a heap of trouble.

What will probably happen is that CAFE will still use the outdated and inaccurate numbers and consumers will see the new (even lower still) numbers.  In this case we'll have an interesting scenereo:  optimize for the window sticker (if gasoline prices are high enough that consumers get scared) or optimize for the CAFE (thus making the sticker worse than it has to be).

Send me that girlfriend when you're done
I would love to see the questions used int the survey.
Now you understand America
This dstory doesn jive with the EIA numbers

http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B7DF640E5%2D1CFF%2D4E20%2D9426%2DBDF3468782F A%7D&symb=&sid=&siteid=NYT&dist=NYT&osymb=

API reports fall in crude, gasoline supplies

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The American Petroleum Institute said crude supplies fell 1.7 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 17. The Energy Department had reported a rise of 5.1 million. Motor gasoline supplies were down 766,000 barrels, the API said, in contrast to the 1.4 million-barrel rise reported by the government. Distillate stocks declined by 1.4 million barrels, the API said. The Energy Department had reported a fall of 1.2 million barrels.

Any info on this?


I gather the weekly EIA report is only an estimate.  They basically call around and ask people to guess how much inventory they have.  I don't know how the API report is done.

I put more stock in the EIA report. Refiners must report their inventories to the DOE every week. Therefore, the EIA numbers are based on actual inventory levels. Not sure how the API does it, but there is frequently a disagreement between EIA numbers and API numbers.
I used to work for the API in downtown DC as Systems Mangager.  Needless to say, I had to sign an "agreement" not to disclose items of interest contained with the report before release. This has been over a decade ago.

All data (production, refinement, etc) was input into an automated system called IBMS. (At that time it was a DEC VAX/VMS platform and the database was RDB. A customer "black box" Fortran program handling the compilation of data)

The inputs into the system were done by API members directly, not the API itself. This was a huge deal making sure all members reported within deadline. Can recall many times calls being made to Exxon, Mobil, etc to force them to report. I was on call while the data was compilated in case of a systems crash.

I am sure it is different now, but the reported data always came directly from the producer, refiner, etc.

As the old DP saying goes, garbage in - garbage out.

Or as Heinlein put it..

"People think you put honest figures into a computer, you'll get honest figures out.  So did I, until I met a computer with a sense of humor.."  -The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

This gets into the same question I raised here a few weeks ago: What is the confidence level in these largely self-reported inventory and production figures?

I don't think I ever got a satisfactory answer beyond, "I think they're pretty good."

It is not a trivial or nit-picking question, because many  times the analysts at TOD are drawing various conclusions based on small differences between very large numbers. It is therefore important to know whether say a stated 100,000 bbl difference in a certain inventory is indeed a real number or no more than noise falling within the uncertainty band width.

Based on my experience in an unrelated field (environmental), I am always just a bit suspicious about self-reported and unaudited statistics. It's not necessarily that someone is deliberately reporting false information, but rather a matter of inherent slopiness when you know no one is likely to check up on how or why you arrived at the number reported.

So, I will ask the question once again to anyone out there who feels qualified to answer it: What is the expected confidence level in month-to-month inventory reports? For example, is a difference of 1%  statistically meaningful? Or 2%, or whatever percent?  

FWIW...the oil guys at PeakOil.com say that four times a year, they actually have to count the inventory, not just guess.  The EIA report on those quarterly occasions may show huge changes from the previous week, because of the "calibration."  And the market reaction is often much stronger than usual when the report is released, because they know these are "real" numbers.
There was a sobering article regarding the accuracy of oil industry statistics on Energy Bulletin back in June.

Confessions of a statistician

World oil statistics, in scope and accuracy, are still far from perfect. They are of poor quality, imprecise, mostly contradictory, and subject to sometimes radical but mostly not noticed revisions. Therefore, they can easily lead to misguided conclusions regarding the state of market fundamentals. Without proper attention directed at statistic caveats, the ensuing interpretation of oil market data opens the door to unnecessary volatility, and can distort perception of market fundamentals.

Meanwhile, world oil production and demand centers are shifting from developed countries to developing countries where statistics are extremely poor.

Over at PeakOil.com, Pup55 had this to say:

But there is a lot of slop in the EIA method. I have noted before, anything less than about 1.5 million barrels is probably measurement error of some type.

And Dante sayeth:

The API uses a smaller sample group, I assume to be members of API. The EIA also uses sampling, but gets more than half of the total inventories. I've read that in either case, those reporting inventories are not actually audited week to week as to the accuracy of those numbers - plus both project the sample group to the whole.
It seems that they have their own weekly report:


Inventories listed in
millions of barrels (Average National ).
Week Ending
November 10:  203.7
Week Ending
November 3:   205.1
Change from
November 3 to
November 10:  -0.7%
Year Ago*
(2005): 201.3
Change from
2005 to 2006:  1.2%
2001-2005:     199.4
Change from
2001-2005:     2.2%

Hello TODers,

From this briefing by InsideFutures.com come Rumors? Facts? of China halting corn exports:

 Corn is still being supported by continued news out of China that they will be limiting their exports or canceling existing exports.

This WesternFarmPress article suggests:
Corn for ethanol demand driving prices higher

An insatiable demand for corn for ethanol production combined with projected record exports is likely to drive U.S. corn stocks-to-use ratio down to 10 percent this season.

The last two times that happened, prices soared.

Adverse global growing conditions have resulted in severe shortfalls in feed grain and wheat supplies in much of the world," Morrison said. This means export trade in feed grains will be the highest in decades due to the lowest world ending stocks in 30 years.

The United States is harvesting its third consecutive corn crop of more than 11 billion bushels; however, the burgeoning corn ethanol industry is taking an ever increasing share of the U.S. corn production.

USDA projects 2.15 billion bushels of corn will go into producing ethanol this season. However, a private forecaster says the United States will need 2.233 billion bushels of corn to turn out 6.114 billion gallons of ethanol in 2006/07. If realized, this would be a 35 percent one-year increase in corn demand for ethanol and a 240 percent increase since 2000/01.

"If it were not for the robust corn export demand, 2006/07 may have become the first year for the U.S. to send more corn to ethanol production than export sales," said Morrison. That distinction will likely come by 2007/08 "as new ethanol production continues to come online at breakneck speed."

"World corn trade volume will set a new record and total coarse grain global trade volume will reach the lofty heights last seen near the end of the fabled `Russian deals' of the late 1970s and early `80s.

Wheat did not fare as well as corn in the United States and joined the rest of the wheat-producing world in a weather-impacted smaller crop. Morrison noted that the poor crops will result in the lowest world wheat ending stocks in the last 25 years.

"Global demand for wheat will keep U.S. exports well supported despite our relatively tight domestic supplies."

If TODer Westexas is right about decreasing amounts of cheap oil, does anyone have any idea how this impacts farmers?  Does rising FF's prices reduce water-pumping and fertilizer use faster than rising grain prices incentivize farmers to go all out planting everywhere? Or is it climate change and overpopulation what is really driving this issue?

I wish was a data-freak like SS or Khebab.

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

RE: Above comment and  [new] JMG on Wednesday November 22, 2006 at 11:07 AM EST Comments top
RE: BIO Releases New Report On Sustainable Agriculture To Support Growing Biofuel Industry

As I stated in an earlier post, the increase in feed prices is already affecting farmers, especially in my observations of local dynamics.  Feed is being bought, but herd trimming has increased markedly this fall.  Official US numbers won't be out for awhile.  Butchers and custom meat processors are having a huge increase, with local operators complaining of the lack of help.  Local oat producers are still not offering, hedging for believed higher prices this winter.  Whether this is all caused by increased demand via midwest ethanol production, or the Australian drought, I don't know but the combination has sure spiked grain.

As to the future effects question, I think it is self evident.  Farmers will increase acreage as much as possible, especially with the burden of high fuel prices.  That fallow piece of ground will get new scrutiny, and CRP contracts will be reevaluated.  Just look back to the 70's with the Russian grain deal. Earl Butz's "plow fencerow to fencerow" edict was taken seriously, and most fence were ripped out.    

Hello Doug Fir,

Thxs for responding.  LOL--even the fences were ripped out to get extra planting space!

Yep, with a lot of the other big potential exporters not exporting this year due to FF's prices + GW, plus population growth pressures, plus ethanol demands: it looks like a new golden age for American farmers when/where the weather cooperates, and where water supplies in acquifers or storage lakes are sufficient.

What will be interesting is how all these dynamics play out over time.  Rising grain prices could start widespread starvation among the world's poor, but will most Americans even notice or give a damn?  Is ethanol availability subject to moral elasticity?  My guess is 90% of Americans could care less about a starving Zimbabwean, Darfurian, Bangladeshi, or even a fellow American... if feeding them resulted in loaf of bread costing an extra dollar, or a tank of ethanol-petrol blend costing an extra $10 when grain supplies get very tightly constrained.  They will just be bitching and whining about the price.  

We will see, but this will be a most compelling drama unfolding in real time: what is our obligation to our fellow man as the distance and costs increase?  Will a farmer in Iowa be interested in foregoing profits to feeding a long unemployed California telemarketing or Disneyland employee, or is selling the corn for ethanol profits to go into a Wall Street trader's SUV the better moral choice?  Stay tuned--it will be fascinating!

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

Our culture is based on, Fuck you, I've got mine which is the street-level encapsulation of Calvinism, and we are a deeply Calvinist country.

I think pure Dawkinsian calculus will be the rule. So the Amish, a fairly genetically homogeneous group, will sure as hell care if the Amish people 3 villages over are starving. In the coastal cities, one person will not care if the people right next door are starving, if they are of a different race. I can vouch for this last example, myself, I grew up in the Dirty 1970s remember. Maybe not as bad as the Dirty 30s but seemed pretty damn close.

Hello TODers,

What is the better choice WTSHTF?

  1. Give $20 worth of food to my next door neighbor, who despite my warnings, hasn't done a thing to prepare for PO + GW, but put in a pool instead, and burned outside lightbulbs and interior A/C like there is no tomorrow?  He is now begging for food.

  2.  Mail $20 to TODer Todd, who has been preparing and living as sustainably as possible for 30+ years or more, but due to climate change or a forest fire is now in equally dire straits?  He is begging for food, too.

Debate please: who deserves my help more? Assume same age & health, no kids.

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

It's a simple choice for me.  Give the food to the neighbour.  You may depend on his cooperation and goodwill much more than you might on Todd's.  If TS has already HTF the neighbour will have gotten the point.  There's no point punishing him for being normal in his previous life.

Building good human networks will be the key to survival, and you don't do that that by sitting in judgment, but by offering up your own cooperation as an example.

From the Energy Bulletin:

As Fuel Prices Soar, A Country Unravels
Chip Cummins, Wall Street Journal via China Gate
Energy shock hits the upwardly mobile poor hardest
in Africa's Guinea. Riots, blackouts cripple cities.

A hospital's incubator shuts down

Every couple of days, nurses at the Donka Hospital here scoop up the premature babies from their incubators. They rouse their mothers from sleep, lay the infants on the women's bellies and pile blankets on mother and child.

Doctors call this the "kangaroo method" -- a way to keep the babies warm enough so that they don't die during the long blackouts that plague this rundown West African port. Soaring fuel prices have forced the government to ration power across the city, and the hospital can't afford to run its oil-fired back-up generator.

"We can't keep it fueled up," says Mamadou Baldé, director of the hospital's infant-care ward, over the wail of sick babies. "The power outages are becoming more frequent."

The impact of today's energy crunch on the poor is plain in rich nations such as America: Expensive gasoline and soaring heating bills make a hard life harder. In impoverished countries such as Guinea, where per capita income is just $370 a year and surging gasoline prices have helped spark bloody riots, the energy shock has become a matter of life and death.
(18 Nov 2006)

An important article, behind a paywall at WSJ but available at China Gate.

Debate please: who deserves my help more? Assume same age & health, no kids.

The premise of your question seems to be that Todd has better survival skills than the neighbor.  I would work out some kind of deal with Todd  for a semi-sustainable joint venture arrangement.

I think that a very good idea is for groups of 10 or so people to buy small tracts of agricultural land, to be converted to organic farming and/or raised bed permaculture.  In the short term, you could lease it out to an organic farmer.  Your return on investment would be lousy, but the key point is that it would put you in the "P" column, as a food and/or energy producer.

Whether we like it or not, IMO, we are rapidly moving toward an economy focused on meeting needs, not wants.  Just look at the news every day regarding real estate and Detroit auto sales.  You do not want to be on the discretionary side of the economy.

It's pretty interesting to see how energy producing areas are faring versus areas hurt by rising energy prices.  I was talking to a friend of mine (who owns a mud company) in Midland, Texas.  He said that he would hire 12 people right now and pay them $66,000 per year driving trucks, if he could find them.  He said that he hired a guy with a high school education and trained him as a field technician.  After six months, another company hired him away for $75,000.   Real estate is booming, and I think that the unemployment rate is at an all time low.

Compare that to the situation in Detroit.  Following is an excerpt from The Housing Bubble Blog.  As I have been saying:  Economize; Localize and Produce.

The Detroit News from Michigan. "Metro Detroiters (are) nervous about their futures, which kept homebuyers on the sidelines and created an oversupply of homes that can sit months, even years, on the market. Now, comes home price deflation, the worst in the nation."

"`The overall feeling in Michigan is everybody's knees are knocking a little bit,' said Nancy Warson, a Livonia Realtor."

"Would-be homeseller Brian Kurtz knows uncertainty well. The financial planner from Troy has dropped the price on his Sterling Heights colonial by $36,600 to $259,900 and is now paying $4,000 per month for two mortgages. `It's like trying to sell ice cubes to Eskimos,' said Kurtz, whose home has been on the market since August 2005."

"Warson said buyers are just not out there. One of Warson's clients in South Lyon, who is selling their house for about $500,000, has had only one potential buyer look at it in seven months."

We will have to help everyone as best we can.  They will have to do the best they can to help themselves, also.  Those who have destructive lifestyles (drugs, alcohol, crime) will not be getting much help and will have to pay a high price for their choices.  We may end up with a better world if we put enough effort into the community rebuilding we will need.  To get your mind off TOD try donating some time (not money) to a charity of your choice this holiday season.
most toders will agree the world has too many people, destroying other species, wrecking the planet etc, i would guess you are typical.  So, is not starvation is both expected and useful as we approach po?  What other solution do you offer to reduce both population growth and absolute numbers?

So, once we agree that starvation is a good thing, then we can also agree that high food prices are just as good as high oil prices in achieving our goals.  Perhaps, just as russia taxes oil exports, we should tax food exports (tricky, though, requires a constitutional amendment.)


one further thought-much of the irrigation in the US, esp the west, is government subsidized or flat out price controled.  Most of the rest of private irrigation is electric-based on Ag rates which will probably not change that much next year w/0 huge spikes nationally.  so I don't forsee irrigation costs forcing much additional changes without big spikes in all energy.  Fertilzer prices had their whammy last spring-that was the time of the biggest jump from higher fuel in a long time, and they are grudgingly factored in for next spring, again, barring huge oil spikes this winter.

So the big variable now for producers, as always, is grain prices and what they believe next fall will be. And most read the world supply outlook-57 days reserve-or the futures market, and see plant.  It's the only option.  For the 20th century, the history of ag for an individual producer has been to expand acreage for increased income.  The ones who did and managed the debt are the ones left still producing.  (Not to say this was right, or advantageous, just the way it played out.)  For the short term, we'll see increased acreage.  

In regards to the 57 day reserve:

There has always been a grain reserve, at least in the lifetimes of most US citizens and first worlders.  So in the first world, having enough food is not given much thought.  But what happens when the reserve goes to zero?  

I don't think the 'market' can or will allocate supplies fairly around the world as reserves go to zero.  Would the US give up its grain reserves to help the starving halfway around the world, most likley without compensation?

Not a rhetorical question, one that we may be facing in as little as two years but almost certainly within 10.

Re the Lehigh Valley:

If they were going to put in any sort of rail, at least some people would need to walk to the stations. When I visited that area a while ago, it struck me that away from the town centers, use of the crosswalks was prohibited at nearly all signalled intersections. I was told it was a $200 fine. Before they can use public transit of any sort, they first need to permit pedestrians!

I think the carbon credits market is a mistake. People in Africa are denying themselves energy in return for easily afforded bribes from rich countries. Moreover total emissions will gradually increase not decrease, though proponents say by lesser amounts than otherwise. Same goes for tree planting which is an unreliable way of absorbing emissions.  The notions of clean energy development, tree planting and helping the Third World have a 'feelgood' element but that doesn't excuse increasing emissions in rich countries.

Maybe sometime knows how credits will be handled in the Californian and Northeast States proposals.

I have to agree. Carbon credits are just a way for residents of the "first world" to congratulate themselves while they continue to spew. And there will never be an honest accounting for all that carbon. Remember Enron? They couldn't account for their dollars, why would they be honest about their emissions?

I just want the money for the 187 squillion tons of carbon I didn't burn last year...

I been lurking around here for a right smart spell.  If you ever get on the subject of bicycle transportation, I will have something to say.  Right now I have a question about Matthew Simmons' speeches.  On his site, I can see the presentations.  Is there any way I can hear his talks?  Thanks for any help.


You can watch him here
Also, financial sense online has a good backlog of Simmons interviews.


Old Rider;
  You want to say a little about how your area is for bikes, and where you see it going?  There are discussions that develop from time to time.. usually get focused on city planning, and how to design to allow/encourage more cycling.

  I've built bike storage onto the 3-unit that I own, trying to make it easier for the tenants to come and go without having to drag the wheels up staircases..  got some improvements to make, but it's a good start.


Portland Maine

Mexico's Pemex chief: Cantarell oil field output to drop 14 percent a year

The chief executive of Mexico state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said Wednesday the company expects production at its Cantarell oil field to decline by an average of 14 percent a year between 2007 and 2015
Ouch. I wish I had a more intelligent comment, but I think "Ouch" will do.


I second that Ouch!  All in favour say "Ohshit"

Here we go, boys and girls.

Holy crap.  14% a year?!!  
I don't know what you guys are worrying about. From the EIA's International Energy Outlook 2006:

Mexico's state oil company, Pemex will successfully lobby to use a larger portion of its profits to fund exploration and production investments and thereby increase production in the long-term. Production in Mexico exceeds 4.0 million barrels per day by the end of the decade and continues increasing to 5.0 million barrels per day by 2030, despite the anticipated decline in production of Mexico's largest oil field at Cantarell
The conflicting information out there is just criminal. How is anyone supposed to know how to prepare, or even whether to prepare?
I agree b3.

I hang around this board to educate and prepare myself. When you try to educate others, articles like that end up in your inbox, all the while calling you a paranoid idiot.

My father emailed me the Cera press release and basically called me an idiot.

I will prepare, whether it happens or not. But only thin blondes will gain admitance to the domocile if TSHTF.

I'll be happy either way.

Well at least your father listened and it bothered him (the PO message) --otherwise he would not have spent the energy collecting the CERA-nade and singing it back to you.

If you sing the PO song often enough to him, he'll learn the tune even as he denies it.

What we need is a good, jibjab style, earworm song about PO.

My baby has a Peak Oil notion? (To tune of my baby does the locomotion?)

(E is for Earworm)

It's also worth noting that Pemex's own forecast for decline was 6% in 2006, 12% in 2007, and 15% in 2008.

This year's decline looks to be around 11.5%, almost double their prediction. Let's hope they're not out by a factor of 2 for the subsequent years as well...

Really makes you wonder if the models - even peak oilers' - are being too optimistic with regard to the decline rates.
The article says they expect a 150,000 b/year decline.  That comes out to $3.2 billion less for the Mexican government each year.  Their federal budget is about $185 billion so it looks like Mexico is going to have to raise taxes or cut spending by about 2% each year.  Every year.  Forever.
How's that wall coming along?
Mexico's October production is just out. Total crude production in October was 3,173,000 barrels per day, the lowest since hurricane Emily interrupted production in July of 2005.

Ron Patterson

Is westexas available to take a bow?
That adds up to 98%.. or is it logarithmic?
It's 14% of the previous year, not 14% of the first year.

Assuming he means that the 14% annual decline starts in 2007, then he is projecting that by 2015 Cantarell production will be about 75% down on 2006.

This is a repost from Drumbeat 21 Nov. The OT subject of Rome came up - here is my reply to objections by Alan:

First 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 haven't read V. Gordon Childe for almost 40 years and that voice comes right bsck. History by gentle persuasion. Must reread.
When reading historians, you have to be very careful of their philosophical bias. Childe was a Marxist, and this colored his view. Naturally, he would say the peasants are better off without the ruling class.

While it is true the Dark Ages were not as bad as painted, they weren't a boondoggle either. Rome fell from a population of perhaps 1,000,000 to 100,000. But it was not just the cities, between 150 AD and 450 AD, the population of the Roman Wstern Empire fell by 80%. Perhaps those remaining peasants had a better quality of life, but there sure were a lot less of them. That is the lesson for today.

A lot of poor nowadays are urban, so you can't just wave a hand and say what happened to the urban poor is not relevant. A collapse of the governing class today would lead to social collapse. The material crafts - shipping plastic widgets to the USA from China - is not going to be anything to fall back on.

Another contemporary case: Guinea's population has doubled since 1970. Now they cannot afford electricity to run their hospitals, or fuel to run their transport. That population level now looks highly unsustainable.

I just can't see how painting the collapse of Roman civilisation as "not that bad" is anything other than revisionist history.

Naturally, he would say the peasants are better off without the ruling class.

Uh, Bob... actually, peasants are better off without the ruling class. This isn't a matter of Marxist bias, it's an objective fact. If you don't think so, I would like to see you say it flat out.

You may be showing a great deal about your own biases with that comment. These biases are what 'revisionist' history is a corrective against.

I would like to see the source for your population figures, by the way.

What you say about the modern urban population actually supports what I am saying, i.e. that parallels with Rome do not help us very much. We have massive urban populations, the Roman empire didn't (as a proportion of total population). When the Roman empire collapsed, life went on for most people. That will not be the case for us. We will certainly take a kick in the teeth when we collapse: for us, it will be more like the Mayan collapse rather than the Roman. For most people, life won't go on as usual.

Revisionists history at best,

Rule of law WAS important, and a great value.  After the fall of Roman law, brigands or armies would periodically loot & rape the countryside, villages and towns.

The vices that you point to of the late Roman Empire were all part of the collapse.  And the price, wage & occupation ncontrols of Diocletion were onerous gov't bureaucracies (pointing to the evils of gov't wage & price controls) but not serfdom.  The bureaucrat did not get the wedding night with your bride.

In order to assure the long term survival of the empire, Diocletian identified certain occupations which he felt would have to be performed. These were known as the "compulsory services." They included such occupations as soldiers, bakers, members of town councils, and tenant farmers. These functions became hereditary, and those engaging in them were inhibited from changing their careers. The repetitious nature of these laws, however, suggests that they were not widely obeyed.

A lesson to be learned is that a half century of Miltary Anarchy can dstroy the best aspects of civilization

The disaster was not that Romilus Augustulus was overthrown and the trappings of empire returned to the East (Charlemagne later styled himself "Augustus" and a Roman emporer) but the decline from roughly 200 AD forward.  There is much to be learned from that decline.

Technology WAS lost as the Empire declined and fell back.  Outside the boundaries of the Enpire, no roads wee built till the 1800s in Europe.  The Romans built 53,000 miles of roads. No bricks made in Western Europe for almost 1,000 years (when rediscovered, they copied Roman dimensions, I see that shape in French colonial buildings in New Orleans), concrete, glass, aquaducts, sewage,.  Public health declined dramatically during and after the collapse.

To say that these technologies survived in the Eastern Roman empire is to point out the value of civilization vs. what happened in the West.

And 99% peasantry vastly over states the case.  A better guess is that 70% to 80% of the population farmed in 200 AD.

As part of the collapse, that % increased, but only after the complete fall might the numbers appraoch that 99%.

Best Hopes for reality based history,


Wrong on all counts. I replied about your rule of law comment on the other thread, by the way: in short, there wasn't any `rule of law' under the empire, not the way we know it. The Romans were great jurists when it came to private law - wills, etc., - but they had nothing but the flimsiest concepts of public law (basically `The emperor can do whatever he likes'), and as for criminal law... ha. Throughout the empire, the rich did what they liked, and most people were liable to flogging even on interrogation. The categories of people exposed to this only increased as time went on.

Roads? The peasants didn't use the damn roads. The peasants were enserfed - they were supposed to stay put. The roads were for the army. They were not even useful for the transport of goods, for which ships were far preferable.

And actually, when I said '99%' I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. The text I looked at gave a figure more like 99.95% of the population as peasantry. You are completely wrong about the population. It's no use just pulling your guesses out of the air. You doubt this? In eighteenth century America, it took seventeen farmers to support one city dweller .And this was in the USA, in a very rich continent with much better technology than was available in the ancient world. The Romans didn't even have wheelbarrows, FFS! I repeat: nearly everyone was a peasant! And contrary to what you say, the overwhelming majority of the peasant population was enserfed by the time of Diocletian. To think that a peasant under the Colonate had some advantage over later Medieval peasants is absurd (as to droit de seignur, I would say the Romans simply didn't see the need to formalize it! Rome was a patronage-driven society and Roman bureaucrats could do pretty much as they pleased as regards the lower orders.)

It astonishes me that you do not see what I am saying here. The `benefits' of the empire you keep talking about (glass, roads, sewage, etc.) - these were not experienced by the overwhelming majority of the population. Ever. So when the `civilization' that had these things disappeared, what would they care? As for East vs West, again, the quotes point out that even in the West there was no loss of technical knowledge.

Reality-based history? Yes, that's what I was trying to acquaint you all with. I even went to the trouble of quoting one of the best technical works on the subject, de Ste. Croix's `The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World'.  But no, you all prefer the little picture books you grew up with. Look at the lovely roads! Check out that toga! What a terrible thing it was that all these wonderful people went down to the barbarians! It must have been the end of the world!

If modern people can't even let go of their myths and misconceptions regarding an empire that has been gone for fifteen hundred years, what hope is there for comprehending the social reality under which we labour today? You are all so attached to imperial ideas that you cannot even realize that the Roman Empire was an utter crock and a rip-off for everybody except the very, very, very wealthy. Oh, hang on - that's Marxist. Whoops.

This exchange makes me despair of the future far more than anything else I have ever seen on TOD. I suggest everyone go and watch Gladiator, where the evil Commodus dies in the ring, just like he didn't do in real life. Ah, Rome! Wasn't it wonderful!

And now a correction:

And actually, when I said '99%' I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. The text I looked at gave a figure more like 99.95% of the population as peasantry.

I should have written 95% of the population as engaged in agriculture - 95% of the population was rural.

Some historians give as a conservative estimate a ratio of 10:1 peasants:city dwellers in Antiquity_when considering the most fertile regions_, but this must be wrong when compared with the early US figures I have given (which should have been 19:1, not 17:1). If it was already nearly 20:1 in the circumstances of 18th century North America, it was surely much worse in the Roman world.

Again, this is important because the rural dwellers did not share in the benefits of the Roman empire, but they paid for it through extortionate taxes. They did not enjoy glass, concrete, roads or any of the other things Alan mentions. They were no worse off under the so-called 'barbarians' - in particular, the Vandals in North Africa are known to have instituted less rapacious taxation, and the Ostrogoths in Italy were preferred by the local peasantry to the Roman army. Yes, that's right: the Goths and the Vandals, now (wrongly) our bywords for wanton destruction, were gentler rulers than the Romans were!

So when the empire collapsed through squeezing the peasantry virtually to death, for most people there was little change in everyday life.

This is why I object to people considering the collapse of Rome as the central analogue to our own position. It is not. Our perceptions of that collapse are all mostly entirely wrong.

18th Century North America is a poor point of analysis.

The supply of free and often fertile land (Homestead Act) and the process of filling up the continent served to pull population out of cities & towns and onto the land.  Anything but a "steady state" situation !!

Bricks are of no use to farmers and rural/small town workers (potters, blacksmiths) ??  Likewise concrete.

Perhaps housing that does not deplete scarce wood and lasts longer with less maintenance ?

You keep pointing to the very end point of the centuries long decline of the Roman Empire and say "no big deal". (Even then it was a loss and decline).

The tragedy of the transformation of Rome of 200 AD to the late 500s was a terrible loss !!

We have much to learn from the decline.  We are, by analogy, not Rome of 489 AD, but 200 AD !

I reject your thesis.


Alan, forgive me. You are a very intelligent person, and perhaps that is why I am about to say I feel very disappointed about your apparent thickheadedness here. I have cited the references for you, have I not? If we were arguing about rail, you would quote the figures, and if I could not refute them, that would be the end of it.

I repeat, it is not my thesis. It is a thesis outlined in great detail by G.E.M. de Ste. Croix in a seminal work titled 'The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World' - which, despite the title, contains a great deal about Rome and the Western empire. The thesis is exactly as I have outlined it. And again, for simplicity's sake: the overwhelming bulk of the population of the Roman empire did nothing but pay for it, and lost nothing when it collapsed. They even preferred the Vandals and the Goths. Do you not see what I am saying yet? If not, please read what I have pointed out to you.

It isn't my hypothesis. You are not arguing with me. And much as I respect you on this site for all that you will do in steering your country away from utter madness, on this point you are flat-out wrong.

But if you prefer the version of Rome you got from 'Quo Vadis' or whatever, then let it rest. I have already mentioned the sources. You have not. Unless you can refute what I say from the technical literature, then in all fairness the debate goes to me.

You see now why I never engage you on anything to do with railroads... :)


Much of my information came from a superb course in Roman history as an undergraduate.  The history of sociasl relations and evolution of gov't were considered.  Unfortunately the textbook and supplemental reading was lost in Katrina.

I also have a bookmark at:


I occasionally look up and read the history of a random Roman emperor.  Author's vary, so one gets a broad spectrum review.

You look at the situation of peasants at the very end of a disfunctional gov't and say they welcomed the change. Perhaps.   But centuries earlier, when the Roman gov't was functional, their attitude would have been different.

You claimed that no major technology was lost except "luxury goods" when the empire fell.  No effect upon the majority.  And you quote unrealistic #s of farming peasants.

I pointed out that the production of bricks and concrete ceased whereever the empire retreated (I bet your source missed these "luxury goods") as well as road construction and maintenance.  These losses would have impacted the peasantry,  As would a significant drop in iron production.

You claim that the US has nothing to learn from the decline of Roman society from functional to disfunctional. I quite disagree.  A half century of military tyranny was one of the key steps downward and the primacy of the military above all else eroded civil society.  One of the critiques of Septimius Severus was that he allowed the influence of lawyers to increase with negative long term effects.  This has zero relavance for the United States ???

You (IMVHO) have taken uo a very one-sided viewpoint of the noted author(s).  The Roman Empire decayed from within and the causes of that are important.

Again, I reject the thesis that you support.

Best Wishes,


You think peasants in the Empire had much use for bricks and concrete? Again, you have not understood the fundamental split between urban and rurual that existed in the Ancient world.

And the population ratio is not 'unrealistic'. The most favourable estimate I have seen for your case is still ten to one.

Also, I did not mean that we can learn nothing from the fall of Rome when it comes to our own predicament. I meant that it does not illustrate the 'doom!' thesis (or dieoff/tech loss thesis, if you like). You are correct that we can learn about the dangers of incompetent and extortionate governments. But part of de Ste. Croix's thesis is that the Empire was necessarily exploitative and its expansion and fall was the working-out of that process. So we can't say it started out great for the peasants but then got worse cos of 'bad government'. The peasants were already getting screwed over in the days of the Republic, and that was going to continue until it stopped one way or another. As it turned out, it went to the maximum extent possible and then things fell completely apart. Is that an analog for the US today? I think it is.

Well, that is all I will say on it. If you reject the thesis, I will say no more. But I have to say I am surprised for one reason, namely that you have seen the nature of a class state at work in the US in the way the people of NO were treated after Katrina. That, at least, is what I understand from your posts. Well, Rome was even less considerate of ordinary people than the US federal govt is. As least people do sometimes get stuff out of the feds. That seems not to have been the case for Rome.

I fear there may be some lack of clarity here - writing on the run... but I am glad you have seen fit to engage with this, even though you doubtless have better things to attend to.


What happened to "roel"?

One of the characteristics of online forums like this one is that it's not easy to see when people come and go. Sometimes people just disappear and it takes a while to even notice that they have gone.

One such poster is "roel":


He had been one of the most prolific posters here for months, but hasn't posted since November 9. I went back over his posting history. He started in July, posting only 3 times that month. But then he kicked into gear on August 19, and in the 81 days from then until November 9 he posted 864 times! That's averaging over 10 messages per day.

It seems a little strange that a dedicated contributor like roel would just stop cold turkey like that. I didn't see anything in his last few messages indicating that he was growing tired of the site or topic. But it's been two weeks of silence, which means he's over 100 messages behind schedule.

We'll have to see if he comes back, or whether he's found a new home to shower with his voluminous insights.

Halfin, first I must be somewhat impressed by your concern for fellow posters, nice sentiment in a very "distant" medium like the internet...you said,

"It seems a little strange that a dedicated contributor like roel would just stop cold turkey like that. I didn't see anything in his last few messages indicating that he was growing tired of the site or topic"

It does, and hope nothing has happened to our fellow poster roel, but as far as "stopping cold turkey" it can happen.  I have recently faced the problem of feeling as though I am "pissing into the wind" or "beating a dead horse".  It seems as though the same material and arguments are gone over again and again and again, with, certain parties convinced that "the gig's up, we're up shiit creek", and others feeling that "yes, there is a need for change, but we must get started now" and then the occasional true cornucopian saying, "no problem, we'll have it covered in plenty of time."  The truth is, any one of the above positions is almost impossible to prove, and it seems that we are bit like water polo fans, trying to judge a sport in which the real kicking and holding and cheating goes on below the water level out of sight, and being a small band that are fascinated by a small sport that very few people in the country (even the world) understand or care about.

I had intended to do a post tonight, for instance, about an old magazine article I found in Road and Track, the car enthusiast magazine...to me it was fascinating...they had a discussion with Burt Rutan, the famous airplane designer who designed the record plane that went around the globe on one tank of fuel, and is the designer of the first workable "tourist" spacecraft for Virgin Airways.  The discussion was in July 2000, and involved Rutan giving up his leased car, a GM EV1  (as an expert in transportation efficiency design and a driver thrilled by the performance of his EV1, and eagerly awaiting the promised "second generation" EV from GM, the irony surpassing understanding, knowing what we know now) in exchange for the first generation Honda Insight Hybrid, as the GM was being recalled for a safety repair.  Rutan's comments, now 6 years old, about the EV1, the Honda, the hybrid idea, and his own thoughts on how to do a hybrid are educational beyond words....fascinating stuff.  

Well, it would have been to me....but I am becoming more and more aware that for those who are convinced THE CAR MUST DIE!, that of course the kind of imaginative, creative art that is efficiency design is as much an enemy as the horrific technical modern society itself, and for the other side who say, look, keep my azz in go juice if you want to stay in office, and I sure ain't gonna' get caught in no panzy electric hybrid whatever shiitbox that can't even tow my boat....,  whether they know it or not, they are basically allies in conserving the status quo.  What is the point really of pointing out that humans do have a certain amount of ability?  What is the point of saying once more that there are tools on the shelf that have not even been gotten out of the box?  There is a point at which one must decide whether to get away from the nihilistic defeatism, or risk being sucked under with it.

So, I have been looking for my "glider"....taking a page from Rutan's ideas, and some thoughts of my own.....I am thinking an electric car, built with something like a Geo Storm body (or maybe a little Saab, something small and aerodynamic) with the good lithium batteries, and a very small internal combustion engine to provide climate control (air conditioning and heating) and drive a little alternator set....the efficiency should be so good that it would have to be refueled in around town use only rarely....now what I need is the fuel....so here's the latest thought....a propane bottle, just like you see on a gas grill....and if your going out of town, you swap on a new propane bottle at Walmart.....fuel infrastructure, you ask....just as long as you know where the next Walmart is, you have a clean, efficient alternative fuel source nationwide.....would it work?  Why not?  And whether it would or would not, wouldn't it be fun just to try it, as pure hobby?

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Maybe he's on vacation or something?

I haven't seen his phosphors at PeakOil.com lately, either.

Saw a skunk in our back yard tonight. We live maybe three hundred yards from the Rhode Island Statehouse -- i.e. in the center of Providence RI, which is the center of a pretty substantial metro area. We watched him for about 10 minutes, tearing into a bag of garden waste. Strange. What next, coyotes?
I saw an article about wild animals spreading through built-up areas.  I guess the idea was that initial construction drove them out, but some (or other species) found a way to live.

I think I've seen the arrival of tree squirrels here (we only had ground squirrels, but with all the planted suburban trees it might be a new habitat).

I think that article kicked off with a bit about a coyote in NY's central park.  I don't know if the writers of "over the hedge" were aware of the real-world parallel.

In relation to the discussion above about the 2 models of how energy resources are controlled, this article:- http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/HK23Ag01.html
'The New World Oil Order Part 2' talks about long term bilateral contracts tying up the world trade in oil and gas. This indicates that the fungibility of oil will be greatly reduced.