DrumBeat: December 18, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 12/18/06 at 4:16 PM EDT]

Suburban sprawl may create heavier kids

Using data from a national health survey, researchers found that teenagers living in sprawling suburbs were more than twice as likely to be overweight as teens in more compact urban areas.

The findings echo those of a 2003 study by the same researchers that focused on U.S. adults. The researchers believe the same factors may be driving the link between suburban living and teenagers' weight -- the major one being reliance on cars.

How do we cope with those 100 million more people?

A worldwide energy crisis could paralyze the economy of America's heavily oil-dependent metro regions. Hundreds of new coal-burning, greenhouse gas-emitting power plants are proposed in this country, as well as in India and China. Global warming threatens both our coastlines and the snow packs that provide the West's water. "Economically, environmentally, we have to figure out how to compete with but also collaborate with the world, in transformative ways," said one developer at the ULI conference.

Venezuela, Oil Producers Buy More Euros as Dollar, Oil Slump

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez is directing a growing share of the country's oil profits into euros as the dollar and crude prices fall.

The dollar, down 9.4 percent against the euro this year, may face more pressure in 2007 because Venezuela and oil producers from the United Arab Emirates to Indonesia plan to funnel more money into the single European currency.

Shah Deniz on Stream

The Shah Deniz development in Azerbaijan's sector of the Caspian becomes one of the world's largest producing gas fields on December 15th.

Fog lifts, lets oil ships into some US Gulf ports

There were several hours of clear sailing Saturday in Houston but fog was expected to return overnight and continue into Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Liquid coal: A cheaper, cleaner 21st century fuel?

Major coal mining companies in the United States, which has more coal reserves than Saudi Arabia has oil, are investing in ways to develop fuels derived from carbon.

Top BP exec said to slam company

Accuses the firm of squeezing profits and ignoring maintenance costs too long, as search for new CEO gets underway - report.

Oil crisis boon for sisal Industry

A sisal consultant in the Parastatal Sector Reform Commission (PSRC), Mr J. J. Ngelime, told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam yesterday that world manufacturers using fibre for various reasons now prefer sisal to synthetic fibre, because of unreliable oil supplies in the world.

China unlikely to meet energy efficiency goal

China will fail to meet the target of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 4 percent this year, Xinhua said. Energy consumption per unit of GDP actually increased by 0.8 percent in the first half of the year and indexes for major pollutants have continued to rise, it said.

Labour slips up on length of oil reserves

LABOUR has been accused of misleading the public in the debate over independence after one of its own policy documents revealed North Sea oil reserves will not run out for “at least 30 years”.

While the party has claimed publicly that an independent Scotland would face economic catastrophe because of dwindling oil reserves, the internal Labour document says the industry will continue to flourish for decades to come.

Fred Smith on Energy Independence: The FedEx founder and chairman is a dedicated advocate of free markets—except when it comes to energy, which he believes requires government intervention

Smith believes so strongly that more must be done to secure U.S. energy independence that he became co-chairman of the Washington-based Energy Security Leadership Council, along with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), former Marine Corps commandant and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This month, the council put out a 64-page report detailing what it thinks should be done. Among the proposals: higher, though more flexible, standards for vehicle fuel efficiency; incentives to manufacture hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles in the U.S.; funding for research on alternative fuels; and government permission for energy companies to drill for oil in Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf.

Iraq: 60 oil fields waiting to be developed

Iraq, holder of the world's third-largest oil reserves, will offer contracts to develop 60 oil fields, in several batches, starting next year, said Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Sharistani. Only 20 of Iraq's 80 discovered oilfields are in production, Mr. Sharistani said.

Colorado May Limit Oil and Gas Emissions

DENVER - Facing federal pressure over worsening air pollution, a state air quality commission on Sunday approved its first-ever statewide emissions controls on the booming oil and gas industry.

This Land is My Land

The big stakes-and bubbling tensions-over who will control Iraq's oil capital.

New type of battery pushed for hybrid cars

Tesco to run fleet on green fuel

Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket chain, has announced plans to run three quarters of its delivery fleet on biodiesel from January next year.

Airlines' profits set to soar with climate measures

Airlines stand to pocket up to £2.7 billion (€4bn) in windfall profits from inclusion in the EU emissions-trading scheme, according to a study published by the IPPR on 18 December 2006.

Competitors draining Gulf of deepwater rigs

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts in 2005, oil and gas drilling production was greatly disrupted despite just 113 of the more than 4,000 platforms being destroyed in the Gulf of Mexico.

But the harshest long-term threat to oil and gas production in Gulf waters now is the dwindling drilling equipment supply.

Many jack-up and deepwater rigs, the massive mobile platforms and ships that drill for oil and gas in deepwater, are leaving the Gulf of Mexico for more lucrative jobs elsewhere, said David Dismukes, associate director of Louisiana State University Center for Entergy Studies.

Norwegian oil companies plan merger

OSLO, Norway - Norwegian oil companies Statoil ASA and Norsk Hydro ASA announced plans Monday to merge their offshore oil and natural gas units in a deal they said would create the world's largest offshore oil operator.

OPEC sees weaker oil market next year

LONDON - OPEC on Monday said the fundamentals of the world oil market show signs of weakening in 2007 as economic growth slows and supply from non-OPEC countries rises faster than global demand.

100 Things You Can Do to Get Ready for Peak Oil

Uganda: Why can’t we respond wisely to crisis?

UGANDA is one country that will make any critical mind spin in frustration. Parliament is proposing the purchase of Japanese monster cars at a cost of sh20b ‘because our roads are bad’ as Prof. Apolo Nsibambi justified sometime back.

The energy crisis has received just the usual knee-jerk response, with expensive thermal generation and almost endless utopian promises of dam construction at Bujagali and Karuma.

Africans eye biofuels to cut Opec price burden

Even before world oil prices rose again after Opec members pledged a production cut last Thursday, poor countries were looking to the hardy Jatropha bush to counter the crippling impact of energy costs that some compare to the ravages of HIV/AIDS.

Indonesia: Oil Production to Continue Decreasing Until 2009

Jakarta: The energy crisis still threatens Indonesia because it is estimated that the decrease in national crude oil and natural gas production will continue until 2009.

Argentina facing severe energy shortage

López Anadón also said that the 2001-2002 crisis led to widespread breach of contracts in the energy sector, changes of regulations, new taxes on exports, a strong devaluation of the peso and a distortion of relative prices of different fuels.

...Argentine oil production has been declining to September, “a logical” consequence of the “exhaustion of fields,” he said, adding that no major increase in production is foreseen in the near future.

Energy crisis. Wait or act?

Life is impossible without energy. The life of a contemporary person - even more so. To consume power, one should produce it. Traditional resources for that are unfortunately exhaustible, but in order to pass on to alternative energy, a lot of problems should be solved. Has the energy crisis begun? If so - what should be done about it, if not – how should we get ready for it?

Ghana: Newmont loses $30 million due to power crisis

NEWMONT GOLD Ghana Ltd (NGGL) in an interview with The Chronicle, has disclosed that the company has lost $30 million as a result of the energy crisis currently facing the nation.

...The General Manager quantifying the amount into gold production indicated that Newmont could not meet its target of 250,000 ounces, but only produced 2000 since it first poured its first gold in July this year. The value of 200,000 ounces was $120 million with the government taking 3% out the total amount.

Connecticut: Democrats’ promises on energy come late

Democratic state legislative leaders have been in a tizzy lately over impending electricity rate increases, demanding that state regulators delay action long enough for the General Assembly to find a solution.
After putting up with a number of pretty ugly responses in the Saudi thread, I want to share part of one of the e-mails that I got yesterday. The attacks directed at me were based on 2 different things: 1). What I posted is common knowledge and not news; and 2). I should not have been surprised about the data since I work for an oil company and post on TOD.

Regarding 2, nobody is an expert on the entire oil industry. During my career I have worked in Research and Development and Downstream. Someone asked what Downstream means, and this is refining - taking the oil and turning it into gasoline. You can spend a career becoming an expert in 1 very small area of refining, such as how to run a catalytic cracker. Upstream, where they take oil and gas from the ground, is an entirely different area. I don't personally know anyone that is an expert in both Downstream and Upstream. I am sure they exist, but most people spend their career in one area or the other. I am crossing over from Downstream to Upstream with my move to Scotland, but I know that I will be on a steep learning curve. And despite the claim of one of my attackers, I have never presented myself as an Upstream expert. That will change over time, but right now I am trying to learn, which is what TOD is for.

Regarding 1 above, many of the responses were of the nature "Those numbers can't be right." Of course the numbers were right, but based on this sort of reaction, it was definitely worth sharing the information because a lot of people didn't know. Here is the part of the e-mail I want to share:


I read your "A Different Approach" post and found it interesting for two reasons (1) the questions you raise and (2) the reaction to the community.

I am relatively new to this topic (been reading various Internet sites since June).  I've read Twilight in the Dessert and a Beyond Oil.  I've been reading TOD daily for the last 2-3 months.  I find posts like this frustrating because many people imply that I should know about "reserve growth" and how it relates to the topic of peak oil, as if I am an expert.

Remember, there are a lot of new people on this site. Reserves growth was news to this person, as it was news to others. (Despite what some of my other critics said, it wasn't the reserves growth that was surprising to me; it was the difference between how far we drew our reserves down versus how much we produced).

In conclusion, I would call for a little more civility. One of the editors expressed concern to me over some of the reactions to my post. I was also quite surprised at the rancor it unleashed within some. But such reactions will drive some viewers from here, and it will cause others not to post. So, think about that, and ask yourself if you would say such things to someone sitting across from you at a table.

Cheers, Robert

The psychology of Peak Oil awareness and other "deep" subjects like religion and politics is a fascinating study in itself. People often lash out at the messenger when confronted with data that conflicts with their internal worldview. Dont take any of that personally - you have hundreds of people like me that read yours posts with a lot of attention - we always learn something.

BTW - which mountain were you up on? :-)



I am in the mountains directly west of Colorado Springs, near Pike's Peak. On Saturday, we climbed Mt. Arthur, and I hope my pictures turn out well. I am flying back to Montana this evening, and I should have a pair of posts in the queue right after that. I think my conversations over the past few days with my host will spark some discussion here.

I second Francois' post re data on certain subjects.
My brother has relatives in Chipita Park and I love hiking around Green Mountain Falls.  Were you close to this location?
My host says we are about 10 miles from those locations as the crow flies.
Beautiful country...enjoy!!
"People often lash out at the messenger when confronted with data that conflicts with their internal worldview."

It might be instructive to take a look at the usenet newsgroup "sci.physics" some time.  It once had a reasonable signal-to-noise ratio and was often informative.  Over time, it attracted a great number of quirky posters and some real lunatics--to the point where it often seems to contain little more than bizarre theories and flame wars.  And that's over such controversies as relativity and quantum mechanics.  If (when?) people become widely and deeply concerned about peak oil--so that it really threatens their worldview--I'm afraid EVERYTHING we've seen so far on TOD will seem quaintly genteel and polite.

Mark Folsom

This may be an egaltarian view, but if/when Peak Oil becomes mainstream, the only real solution will be to cut off membership at somepoint, with new viewers only allowed a read only role at the site.  Kitco had to do this with their old gold forum.  Either that or admins will have to resort to heavy moderation.

Just my opinion - from 14+ years on the net.


Or we'll have to go the dKos/Slashdot "community rating" route.
Or you hire a couple female mods to slap the taste out the mouth of anybody who causes trouble!
You know, whereever you stand on these issues, a documentary on the psychological responses people have to this stuff and the archetypes attracted to this info would be quite fascinating.
Incidentally, I certainly don't want to imply that all of the disagreements were unmerited, nor that a majority of the disagreements were ugly. Most were not, and I got many encouraging responses. It is just that the ugly ones are the ones that stick with you.

I strongly support the challenging of arguments. By the same token, I strongly condemn attacking posters. I have no problem defending arguments. I should not be required to defend myself as a person though.

RR - I just read some of yesterday's brouhaha this morning, and I found your post very interesting.  The attacks were unwarranted.  You make good, valid points.  Thank you.
RR, I'm also shocked by the vituperative attacks against you, WT and Dave. Maybe there is something to the theory of Jeffrey's of paid Trolls.
  The real problem is that the information presented on TOD challenges people's world view. With a profound shortage of cheap, available energy "free market capitalism" founders by the roadside like a car thats out of gas. We're all going to be more impoverished by the standards of 20th Century materialism. Thats not the same as being made poor-we can change a lot by changing the Ugly American view of wealth. This view has been foisted on us by the media in the control of the corporations, and they cannot see how they can profit and remain in control if we follow the obvious plan of WT's to Economise, Localise, Produce.
  When somebody challenges a person's worldview they commonly attack the person challenging the view even if they are correct. I'm 55 and remember the hatefulness of the establishment attacks on Dr. Martin Luther King, or anyone who advocated peace. Look at how they still trash-mouth Jane Fonda and others. So get ready, its going to get worse Somehow though Robert, I think you are obstinate enough to take it and even profit from the experience.
  I noted in a comment yesterday that there are no credentialed experts on Peak Oil, its still in the realm of self-educated amateurs as almost all creative science is until many years have passed. Darwin didn't have a doctorate in evolutionary biology, Einstein in Physics, Pythagoris in Math, and Marx in Economics. Throwing up a lack of credentials is an ad hominem attack. Your work is your credential, and critics lack that credential.

I did find it interesting that someone I have never heard of launched a personal attack on so many people at once.  Makes you wonder if it was calculated to make the targets conclude that posting is simply not worth the hassle.

That's my opinion also, hence my reference to your internet paid Troll hypothesis. And I am very serious that your ELP program is extremely threatening to the establishment.
  The other possibility is that people like that don't need to be paid, they're just suckers and toadies. I was at an Iraq War-Social Security "reform" protest the summer before last at an UTMB Auditorium. They flew in Bush and Tom DeLay and hustled them in an entrance which was blocked off three blocks away from the protest, and bussed in a bunch of "counter-protesters from a school 100 miles away-Sam Houston State, who got equal time in spite of our outnumbering them ten to one. These fools were'nt paid, at least in any coin that I would consider valuable. I did tell the leader that if he was so important, how come he wasn't inside with Bush and DeLay. And I'm sure my photo is in some Commie Rat file in Washington right now, possibly matched up with my Viet Nam era files.
  This is how I expect we will be treated. Vilified and Ignored until simple geological facts trump their theories. Even then we won't ever be trusted by the Establishment, any more than old SDS folks have been trusted by them 30 years after the end of Civil Rights and Viet Nam. Its just too radical.

I just sure hope I'm being needlessly paranoid.

It's not paranoia when the government investigates citizens for free speech or political activities.

My lawyer, through a FOIA request, has found my name in a DOD "watch list" database.  I'm also on a California National Guard list, according to a friend in the Guard.  Recently some government entity crudely attempted to infiltrate an peace organization of which I am a member.

Be aware, be careful, but don't be afraid.

>My lawyer, through a FOIA request, has found my name in a DOD "watch list" database.  

Maybe they just like you alot. I would not be paranoid that your part of some watch list. As long as you don't plan to commit violent acts (ie terrorism, overthrow the gov't), you're in no danager. Personally, I do hope they read and learn from our discussions.

Well, actually you are in danger. I never planned or participated in violence when I was politically active. My biggest crime was probably figuring out that those pushing for violence were paid provocateurs. I paid heavily. But I'm alive. Many are not.
I would just point you to the case of Maher Harar, a resident of Ottawa, Ontario, who just happened to be on a Canadian RCMP 'list' that was shared with the US gov't. The end-result was that while travelling through the US, Mr. Harar was deported to Syria, where he spent a year in jail and was tortured, just for being (mistakenly) on that list. He's now back in Canada, and the blame game and law suits continue. Three more Canadians are possibly still in Syria for the same reason.
Hello oilmanbob; I sympathize with your suspicions.

FWIW, a couple years ago, the W administration generated a database of US citizens "likely to be terrorist risks", and who were to be barred from boarding commercial airliners at the gate.  Shortly after, the Minnesota StarTribune (the dominant paper in MN) carried a story or two about a spate of elderly people from northern MN barred from boarding airliners under this provision.  The barred passengers were never informed how they got on the list.  These elders were all US born locals, of Scandinavian (mostly Finnish) extraction.   The journalistic spin was to treat it as some light comedy about beaurocratic stupidity.

But these people were young adults during the communist labor movement in nothern Minnesota in the 1930's-50's.  I wonder if these elders were bona fide communist organizers in their heyday, and if that was why the W regime put their names in a terrosist data base.

Anybody know any more about this?

  Thorne Dreyer wrote an article a few weeks ago about the spying on the Students for a Democratic Society in the late 1960's in Austin, Texas. It seems the former head of the University of Texas Campus Police kicked the bucket and his children sold his personal files to Half-Price Books.Their web-pages link to those files.
  Isn't it ridiculous! 40 odd years after the fact the Powers that be still have the names and photographs of the beginning of the counter culture in Texas!
  I concluded sometime about 1980 that I was suffering from pot and acid induced paranoia about those years. Then during the current round of protests against the war in Iraq I saw clones of the same spies going around snapping pictures again. Times had changed, the police were now helping the eccentric old folks across the street at protests insted of hitting us with night sticks. I love protests now not because they do much good, but because its old reunion time amoung us elderly hippies.
  That same totalitarian mindset is stronger than ever. And these are the people who are what Jeffrey calls the Iron Triangle. And we can laugh about it all we want, but somewhere in Washington are 8 1/2" X 14" manilla files full of photographs with circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back of each one describing our good times in the Summer of Love and subversive involvement in Peak Oil.
One other note, the Totalitarian's can't stand ridicule. If you tell them their fly is open or point out the dog doo-doo on their shoe they will become too flustered to be threatening. And its fun, too!
wow. if they have a file on me I feel bad for whoever has to keep an eye on it. must be the most boring job ever. maybe I should download some porn or take a trip to a strip club or something to make things a bit more exciting for them.
If there's nothing exciting they just make it up. Surveillance never ends, never diminishes. Spies create threats to justify their budgets.
We all now know there were no WMDs in Iraq and we know something of the process that imagined them there. It is exactly the same with domestic threats.
You have a file AMPOD. You might not recognize yourself in that file.
Did anyone else notice that "Brutus" was going around doing much of the stabbing?  
Gee thanks, I dont post here that much. I find it fascinating a simple thing like the "growth" of reserves or more importantly how ridiculous reserve numbers are is unknown for people posting, not commenting, about peak oil.

I have spent plenty of time dealing with electric utilities and a lot of bad numbers which are used start conversations. My whole point in pointing to Mr. Rapier's post and I've only commented on two of them, is the use of claiming energy expertise as being an oil company employee and I reject that totally, he make that knowledge known amply.

I've never taken a personal shot at Mr. Rapier, I have pointed out on several occasions I don't accept being an employee of an oil company as any conclusive evidence on any matter. I thought yesterday's post in serious bad form in bold.

I don't in anyway mean to be deliberately disruptive or argue to argue, but it'd be nice at some point if people are taken to point on issue they simply admit it, instead of claiming personal attack.

I've never taken a personal shot at Mr. Rapier,

That's not true. In fact, you didn't actually address the facts of my post. You simply argued that this was common knowledge, borderline disinformation, and that you were shocked that the editors allowed it. You falsely claimed that I have claimed expertise in this area. Those ARE personal shots. You wrote this lie:

I've learned a lot of things on this site and its a very important issue, people deserve to be able get the best information possible and not "listen to me I'm oil company employee," and you do that all the time.

This one:

Well don't play an "expert" when you're not


Putting your discovery about how reserves work using the US against the Saud's numbers is to say the least garbage, I'm surprised the editors allow this.


But I think to explain to people how reserves numbers work or don't this post is somewhat irresponsible.

Those are personal attacks fellow. You didn't ever challenge anything in the post. Instead, you took the opportunity to take numerous personal shots at me.


My attack yesterday was definitely a bit personal.  And although I regret my incivility, I don't regret the substance.

If you are not an expert on upstream issues, I can't see why you are allowed to publish articles on them.  And I can't see why you allow yourself to do it.

Some of us in the cheap seats are going to heckle those who don't know their limits.  Make'em pay for wasting our time.

Just go back to your day job, dude, til you get up to speed.

You know, you are smart kid.  Someday you'll be worth listening to on world energy issues beyond your narrow areas of expertise.  But not yet.

If you are not an expert on upstream issues, I can't see why you are allowed to publish articles on them.  And I can't see why you allow yourself to do it.

Perhaps you don't understand that with very few exceptions, there are no actual experts here. The posters write on topics of interest, and then discussion is generated. Most of the staff is not actually in the energy business.

Someday you'll be worth listening to on world energy issues beyond your narrow areas of expertise.  But not yet.

Given the number of people who actually learned something from what I wrote, I will discount your opinion there.

Robert Rapier wrote:

Perhaps you don't understand that with very few exceptions, there are no actual experts here.

Q.E.D.    That is exactly the admission I was after all along.  And now it comes directly from a senior contributor.

Many of the articles on this site hereby discounted.

From now on, I'm here mainly for Leanan's very helpful Drum Beat links (and those provided by others)

Funny thing is that CERA has made the point on more than one occasion that 'peakists' simply were not up to speed on the complexities of reserve growth or the industry in general.

Reluctantly, I am forced to concur that they got that right.


Many of the articles on this site hereby discounted.

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Funny thing is that CERA has made the point on more than one occasion that 'peakists' simply were not up to speed on the complexities of reserve growth or the industry in general.

Reluctantly, I am forced to concur that they got that right.

Things now become a bit more clear to me.

If you are not an expert on upstream issues, I can't see why you are allowed to publish articles on them.  And I can't see why you allow yourself to do it.

Given that you were responsible for instigating the personal attacks (Brutus just followed your lead) let's talk about the problem here - one of which seems to be your expectations.

One problem with TOD that I often see is that posters are very tentative about posting - precisely because of the kind of reaction my essay prompted from you. I get e-mails all the time from people saying they don't feel like they have the knowledge to post. That's really tragic, in my opinion. But if we limited discussion to those who are bona fide experts - in that this is what they do for a living - maybe a dozen of us would be posting here. You wouldn't. Brutus wouldn't. Journalists certainly wouldn't have much they could write about.

If I want to learn about solar power, a good way to do this would be to research and post an essay on solar power. That would generate some good discussion, and help further knowledge on the issue. That is the purpose of TOD. The purpose is not for experts to spoon feed you your knowledge, which seems to be what you want.

Despite your comments, my areas of expertise are not narrow. I have a broad refining background, lots of biofuels experience, and I have run a GTL lab. In the energy business, that is pretty broad, and now I am transferring into upstream. I don't know what your expectations of expertise actually are, but there aren't many around here that have worked in so many different areas. I can guarantee you nobody at CERA has.

What you seem to be interested in doing is data mining. You are only looking for things that reinforce your POV. So, you look at my essay - which generated a lot of useful discussion and did in fact educate some people - and say "Aha, you guys are amateurs. I discount all of the articles here." But it seems that you don't in fact apply the same standards to CERA. The folks who work there mostly wouldn't meet the definition of "expert."

I guess the bottom line is that you and I seem to have different standards of what constitutes appropriate behavior. If someone posted something that I thought was common knowledge, or asked a "dumb" question, I certainly wouldn't respond to them in the way you responded to me. You were a jerk. I view the purpose here as one of sharing knowledge and learning. Chastising someone for posting something that you believe was common knowledge - especially given the fact that many people were surprised by the information - is not the way to foster open discussion.

Wow you're sensitive for what you write. So try this Robert. You use the fact that you're an employee of an oil company to back up a lot of what you say, in fact I imagine that's a big part of how you got your position here. You write for a blog that purports to talk about peak oil and then you write a post that shows you're completely clueless(and that's not personal) about how the oil industry accounts reserves.

Now just to show you this isn't personal, let's talk a little about reserves and how they do or don't work.

1)The actual process of reserve counting is controversial and there's been plenty of papers written about how it's done. Here's one for example: http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/feature_articles/1997/intricate_puzzle_reserves_growth/ m07fa.pdf   but let's not get into that.

2)Let's talk about the question of the discovery rates, because no matter how many reserves we supposedly have and how that is accounted, the bigger question is how those reserves are "replaced." Now if you know anything about the oil industry Robert, you know the reserves are constantly being depleted and they're being replaced by new discoveries.  Gee! That's how the oil industry has worked, for what, 150 years?

Now here comes Robert Rapier, employee of Chevron(?) and he discovers this is how the oil industry works and he posts as it a major surprise and oh he gets offended that people take him to task for it and instead of owning up to it, he claims he's being attacked personally - boo-hoo.

And on top of it, you try and tie this to some understanding of Saudi Reserves, when a guy like Matt Simmons writes a whole book on the topic, and you want to throw this out as new. Great.

You use the fact that you're an employee of an oil company to back up a lot of what you say...

I have asked for examples several times now, but I haven't gotten them. You simply aren't telling the truth about that. There are some things I know as an oil company employee that I sometimes share. I have never, ever said "believe me because I am an oil company employee." That just not true. But I go out of my way to help people with information, and I never, EVER spread disinformation. I also often say "I don't know."

You write for a blog that purports to talk about peak oil and then you write a post that shows you're completely clueless(and that's not personal) about how the oil industry accounts reserves.

This is why your reponses are so incredibly dishonest. I know how reserves work. It was the magnitude of the difference that surprised me (and many others). So, when I bring this up in relation to Saudi, lots of posters say "Oh, but that's not the case with Saudi." So, does the oil industry account for reserve in this way, or was the U.S. a special exception? That's the whole freaking point. Your attacks were merely to suggest that I don't know how reserves are accounted for, when that was not the case (and I have pointed this out several times).

he gets offended that people take him to task for it and instead of owning up to it

Yet what you "took me to task for" were false pretenses. I understand how reserves work. But many people were surprised that we have pulled our reserves down by 6 billion barrels while producing 59 billion barrels. If we had produced 10 or 15 million barrels, it wouldn't have been much of a surprise. But I think you know that this was the issue. You are just using the other as the pretense for justifying your response.

Brtus, I would really really love to see some credentials.

And losing your anonymity should have to be part of the display of credentials such that they can be verified.

RR is not anonymous and states his credentials. So far as I know you have NOT.

If you elect to not do so then I don't see that you have any traction in regards to dissing his.

Since you are anomymous(I am as well for several reasons) its easy to flame someone but when it pivots on the technical expertise area or knowledge of the subject then if you need to shed that anonymity or lose all credibility.

What about it? Do you wish to play fairly or just whine.
This being a forum on the subect of oil I would like to see those credentials as they regards the subject..petrochemicals and the obtaining of such.  

airdale-note airdale is anonymous but does not throw tech spears in an oil debate where he knows practically nothing

Where was I when the sparks flew? I mean shit if there's gonna be a flammin' goin on I definitely want to be part of it one way or another.

Can anybody summarize who attacked who over what? What/who are the competing factions?

It started here.  Personally, I hope it ends here and is not brought forward to today's DrumBeat.  We're past the point where this is in any way productive.
I'd say some people should reread, "I'm OK, You're OK". It is more informative to read intelligent exchanges between Adults than silly arguments with someone trying desperately to be the Parent.
"RR, I'm also shocked by the vituperative attacks against you, WT and Dave. Maybe there is something to the theory of Jeffrey's of paid Trolls."

But if its true, its fairly ironic that the person everyone calls the paid troll wasn't the one doing it, eh?

Surely Hotghor - you were behind the attacks under another name :-)
Blast!  Foiled by chemE again!
Hothgor, I'm personally sorry I ever called you a paid Troll and apologise. You've shown a huge amount of personal growth, and I'm glad for us and the forum. in fact you've probably done us all a service by presaging the attacks that I think are really just beginning.
RR: firstly let me say it was disappointing to see some of the  comments made about your article, but I think you handled it very well.

There is one point which I thought was obvious, but I don't think anyone made. Which is, that it costs money for oil companies to prove reserves. Even it only amounts to writing a report, someone has to write it. IOCs are not required to prove or otherwise all of their probable reserves, they only have to prove enough to demonstrate future growth potential and keep shareholders happy.

Therefore it makes sense that the IOCs maintain a "window" of proven reserves projecting a few decades forward, which gives rise to the anomaly of growing reserves.

The same point applies to NOCs, except that NOCs have less reason to spend money accounting for their reserves.

Company executives (Oil included) like slow and steady growth.  That's how you maximize executive earning potential.  
In time memory will turn the negatives to a generalized and indistinct bad taste. Good things survive better in memory than bad. And you will keep in touch with those who give you real feedback, building more positive memories. There will always be a fresh angry troll, so what.
" I find posts like this frustrating because many people imply that I should know about "reserve growth" and how it relates to the topic of peak oil, as if I am an expert."

If I read this comment by an emailer it seems he is stating that others believe him to be an expert and yet he doesn't understand reserves . Further since you brought up the issue of reserves its makes him frustrated somehow. Because he was 'blindsided' perhaps? Is that your(RRs) fault. It appears you are being blamed for developing data and ideas that are causing him grief and he is blaming you for that.

The SOMEHOW is what I do not understand unless this emailer was posing as somewhat of an 'expert' and perhaps making flatout exclamatory statements that others were refuting due to his appearing to be an expert when he isn't.

Am I off base or not understanding his complaint?

It seems a bit convoluted to me.

I have noticed in business that its easy to be confrontational with someone you have never met. Once you meet them on a personal basis then you tend to not treat them in such a fashion. This is why I think tele-commuting is not all that it is reputed to be. The personal touch is missing and the mentoring is totally lost. The friendships never develop and we become more and more isolated, leading to confrontations that would have been worked out more amicably otherwise. I always liked training the new guys and helping them along. In fact it used to be part of our performance plan for staff programmers and team leaders,,way back. Back before it all went to hell in IT.


Hi Airdale,

What that person was saying is that they are trying to learn about Peak Oil and energy issues, and they did not know about reserves growth. They learned something new. On the other hand, several posters in that thread went out of their way to suggest that "everyone" knows all about this and that this wasn't news (one even questioning why the editors would allow such a post). So, that is belittling to the newer poster who does not know it.

This is also what keeps a lot of new posters from posting. You often seen posts from people saying "I don't have much knowledge, but....." A person shouldn't have to make that qualification. This site is for learning. If someone asks me "What is Downstream?" and I reply with a belittling response, then that person may never post again.

I will try this again and nothing personal. There's nothing surprising about how ridiculous reserve numbers are. How you phrased that post rings a lot of alarm bells. The people who post as opposed to comment would seem to me to have to be held to a little higher standard. Simple as that, but maybe that's not the case, good to know.
Brutus, maybe reserve growth was not a surprize to you but it was a surprize to a lot of other people. Why are you making such a big deal about it? Maybe what is common knowledge to you is unknown to others. I have learnt a lot from RR, WT, Khebab, SS and other contributors that I had otherwise no hope of learning. And since you are so knowledgeable, why don't you write an article and share your expertise with us? Instead you hide behind an alias and snipe on others. I hope RR, WT, Khebab and others don't get discouraged by this. Please keep posting and sharing your knowledge. Suyog
Robert, I think you did a fantastic job with the thread yesterday. Much of what you said I agree with and of course there were some things I disagree with. However only the data from the coming months and years will eventually settle this debate. As Simmons puts it, "Data trumps all theories."

Reserve Growth

The newcomer to the list you mentioned is not the only one who does not understand reserve growth. I find that many people, perhaps even most people even on this list misunderstand reserve growth. I just have a couple of things to say about that subject in hopes of clearing up some of the fog. And of course many will disagree with even this, the most simple of explanations.

First reserve growth has nothing to do with new discoveries. That is a completely different category. And I must note that much of the increase in US reserves that so shocked you, was not reserve growth at all but new discoveries, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

Reserve growth is nothing more than the correcting of previous underestimates of the size of a reservoir. Sometimes this underestimate has been deliberate, as with most publicly held companies. Other times this underestimate were due to the true lack of knowledge about the true size of the reservoir. Surely no one truly believes that reserves actually grow!

And this last point brings up something that most cornucopians completely ignore or deny. Reserves can be, and often are, overestimated. That is, you can have reserve shrinkage just about as easy as you can have reserve growth. Shell, a couple of years ago, announced shrinkage in their reserves of about 20 percent. But no one called it reserve shrinkage. Most thought Shell was somehow negligent in their responsibility to their shareholders. Actually it was because their Oman reserves were originally overestimated instead of underestimated.

And last but not least, the reserves of the Middle East, estimated to be almost 700 billion barrels. These reserves, in my opinion, are vastly overestimated. What we will have, in the coming years, will be reserve shrinkage instead of reserve growth. Oh, there will still be reserve growth in some parts of the world. But the reserve shrinkage coming out of the Middle East will dwarf any reserve growth in other parts of the world.

Ron Patterson

My understanding was that there could be another type of reserve growth, technical improvement, that actually increases the amount of recoverable oil.  Although improved recovery technology might result in only minor reserve growth, if any, it certainly figures into a lot of the cornucopian agruments.

Are improvements in recovery technology incorporated into published reserve estimates?

>My understanding was that there could be another type of reserve growth, technical improvement, that actually increases the amount of recoverable oil.  Although improved recovery technology might result in only minor reserve growth, if any, it certainly figures into a lot of the cornucopian agruments.

Most of the new techology developed over the past decades was directed at improving extraction rates instead of maximizing recovery. In the cases of heavy water injection to maintain high extraction rates, the amount of economically recoverabl oil is reduced. Most of leading exporters targeted maximum extraction rate over maximumizing recovery. This is why many of us believe that decline rate will be much steeper than production increases during the first half of oil production.

Jubilando, no doubt that much of the reserve growth of the past was partially due to a greater percentage of recovery. The sandstone reservoirs in East Texas have some of the highest recovery rates in the world. But that was not due to any new technology. That was achieved by putting a well every few feet and slowly, slowly pumping the oil out.

Other than C02 injection, there is really no new recovery techniques that have been implemented in well over thirty years. And C02 injection is not practiced in enough places to really make any difference. Horizontal, Christmas tree wells are just a technique of putting many wells in one borehole. It simply increases the points from which oil can be drawn, much like Texas did with many vertical wells. And water and gas injection have been practiced for well over thirty years. In some places in Saudi Arabia, downhole electric pumps have been installed. But pumps over wellheads are obviously nothing new. It is just that slanted and horizontal wells must employ a different kind of pump. So what new techniques are you talking about?

And by the way, I posted a link a few days ago where Russia was complaining that Shell's over pumping of reservoirs there had lowered the recovery rate from 45 percent to 30 percent. That was probably an exaggeration but they are probably correct, over pumping does lower the percentage of oil that can be recovered. The point is, the percentage of oil recovered is not necessarily increasing, at least not everywhere.

Ron Patterson

Are improvements in recovery technology incorporated into published reserve estimates?

Yes. At one time deepwater reserves could not be "booked" as the technology required to extract them had not yet been developed or proved.

In addition to such technical factors you can also have reserve growth due to economic considerations. We are presently seeing projects being greenlighted because they are economically justifiable at an assumed price of $30 a bbl when they were not justified at an assumed price of $20 a bbl.

Despite the above it is important to draw a distinction between "reserves" which are probability estimates of recoverable OOIP and production figures which reflect actual bbls recovered and available to the market. The oil on the market constrains price and your ability to afford your commute; the oil contained in a "reserve" constrains the ability of the reserve owner to justify a development decision.

RR -
Keep up the good work.  
I think that the huge diference between 6gb and 57gb leaves many to wonder what or whom to trust.  To me the numbers (6 vrs 57) are so out of whack it renders them meaningless.  The message this implies at best is this is very muddy water or at worst ignore depleation rates completely.  This may anger many who look to this site for answers.  Also, if I were a anti PO conspirisy fan then your post would make a very good target because it could be viewed as being effective in creating "enough" doubt.  

Obvious to anyone who cares to look and to any who lived during the 70's oil crisis this is very serious business.  
I think it is very plausable that this site is being monitored as the economic implications are enourmous enough to pay someone to watch and also comment.  IMO it is easy to look at content and question the senders motivations, I think you are going to suffer some base level of criticism because of this and the nature of your post accurate or not.  

I just watched "Thank you for smoking" a very, very good movie.  Points to the obvious motivation that money has whether we like it or not.  You will get critics deservedly or no...

This is not a finger pointing post and I appologize in advance if it sounds that way.  I find it interesting but not surprising that you have been getting so much flack.

Robert, in the big picture I come back to this - you can toss reserve growth and production above stated reserves out the window IMO. The US has been in decline and we are so very oil dependant on, and give our money to, people(countries) who may tolerate or worse hate us and act to harm us.  I think the focus needs to be here and nowhere else, get us to move toward reducing our energy foot print in a big way.  If we don't it will be that much worse later.  So if you want to talk about reserve growth and production ammounts be my guest.  If we are close to PO or nat gas or both then time is very very short for the task at hand.
IMO you need to go after the grossly, overly optimistic reports that are out there (plenty to choose from) and somehow get the time frame shorter and increase action.  You seem to disagree with thier views as do many others and I think they need some anti-optimism thrust at them.

I wish you the best. I also hope for our collective future there emerges one stong clear voice that will rise above the noise and get the US moving.  

Ron P.
"Surely no one truly believes that reserves actually grow!"

It is a bit of a misnomer "reserve growth". Sounds better than we really made an educated guess in the first place.

About reserve growth. I invite people to check Rembrandt last piece on reserve growth, great stuff:

A Primer on Reserve Growth - part 1 of 3


This subject remains muddled, and I think at the core of the debate on Peak Oil.

I read your link above, and have tried to follow this, as I believe it is central.  Simmons, until lately, had convinced me that the problem with reserves was inconsequential due to false data and deliberate manipulation of stated reserves.

In the thread above, the "discreptancy"  is explained by implying it is not reserve growth (and any can understand that a finite quanity must remain finite) but that it is rather new discoveries we are viewing in the US, specifically the Gulf.  This can be accepted, but the problem remains that, even accepting KSA exploration and discovery as complete, one has a hard time applying RR's look at the post 1980 US and the rest of the world.  There's alot of room for doubt that worldwide discovery should remain inconsequential.  XOM for starters keeps shouting this.

Rembrandt, who appears to include new discoveries within reserve growth, hones in on recovery factors.  These, he feels, increase only rate of recovery, not actual quanity, and will be better illuminated with future, better, data.  I don't quite see how it addresses RR's post, but then I could have missed something.

We are left then with WT's assertions to the primacy of the Texas-KSA relationship, and the facts that peaks have occured in the major oil fields and several world regions.

But the central question remains clouded by looking at the US long past peak and seeing over 20 years production with only 6 GB decline in reserves.  It throws that peak's curve, or plateau, out to 2020 and beyond. I for one would really  appreciate an in depth TOD look at the question of reserves, zeroing in on the apparent anamoly of the last 20 years of the US.  

Thanks for your link above and any others you might provide.    

"It throws that peak's curve," ie the world peak, not US.
Re: I don't quite see how it addresses RR's post, but then I could have missed something.
In order to prevent comparing apples with oranges it is necessary to look at the best estimates for recoverable reserves over time (not too conservative or too optimistic). This means taking changes in proven + probable (2P) reserves over time, because this approach gives the best estimate for ultimate recovery of an oil field. This implicates that publications and databases that base themselves on proven reserves such as the World Oil, the Oil & Gas Journal and the BP Statistical Review are automatically ruled out for purposes of making reserve growth estimates!. The only sources that should be taken to study reserve growth are the IHS Energy and WoodMackenzie databases, because these are the best databases which contain proven + probable reserve estimates.

well, it's pretty clear to me, RR looked at the US 1P reserves but they cannot be used to estimate reserve growth!
Yes, you made this point yesterday.  It just baffles me that people presumably able to tie their boot laces and certainly able to write can not grasp it.

"It's because 1P reserves for the US were always grossely underestimated as you can see on the chart below. The red curve is what "true reserves" should look like. Reserve numbers in 1982 should have been around 135.42 Gb and not 28 Gb. In 2005, the logistic reserve is about 61.45 Gb which means that reserves have declined by 74 Gb and we have consumed nearly 72.77 Gb (CO+NGL) in the same time."

That was your post yesterday, which I missed, and coupled with the above, explains the position quite well.  Thankyou.

"/First reserve growth has nothing to do with new discoveries. That is a completely different category. And I must note that much of the increase in US reserves that so shocked you, was not reserve growth at all but new discoveries, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico."

Could you explain how the US has found enough oil over the past 24 years to offset all but 6 Gb of production, and from the GoM alone at that?  Wasn't there supposed to only be 15 Gb there at most?  I'm not attacking you directly, but I feel I must point out that if the US 'discover' this much oil in the most well explored country on the planet, what is stopping a similar ratio of discovery from happening in KSA?

Remember, our peak rate was very similar to KSA, and WT says that KSA must follow the same path that the US did...

Remember, our peak rate was very similar to KSA, and WT says that KSA must follow the same path that the US did...

Well, Hothgor and I agree on something.  

To be precise, I think that KSA will follow the same path as Texas, which is now producing about 27% of its 1972 peak rate.  

I think that the world will follow the same path as the Lower 48, which is now producing about 45% of its 1970 peak rate.

BTW, the long term net decline rate per year for Texas oil production has been about 4% per year since 1972.  For the Lower 48, about 2%.

Interestingly enough, the average year over year decline for KSA crude + condensate has been about 4% so far.  

Hothgor, I respectfully request that you try to understand a statement before you reply. Look again at what I wrote:

And I must note that much of the increase in US reserves that so shocked you, was not reserve growth at all but new discoveries, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

I said much! Do you understand what that term means? It has a totally different meaning than all!

Most ofhe offshore oil in Saudi Arabia is in very shallow water. From all the offshore platforms in the Safaniya field, you can actually see the bottom when the water is calm. I know because I have been there. And even their further offshore wells were all drilled with jackup rigs and the platforms all sit on the ocean floor. There are no tethered platforms in the Persian Gulf.

The vast majority of wells in the Gulf of Mexico are in much deeper water, though some do sit on the ocean floor. But platforms like Hungry Horse are floating platforms and are tethered to the ocean floor with giant anchors. Much of this oil has only recently been found and added to the US proven reserves.

There are no unexplored areas of the Persian Gulf. There are no areas on land, inside the Middle East oil triangle, in Saudi Arabia that are unexplored. All the giant fields in Saudi Arabia have already been found and tapped long ago. There are still some, very tiny, fields in Saudi that are untapped. Saudi is now in the proccess of tapping many of these fields. Most of them however, like Khurais, were tapped many years ago and closed down due to low production.

Khurais peaked in 1981 at 144,000 barrels per day. The following year production from Khurais began to drop dramatically. Then a gas injection program was inituated to try to improve the flow rate. It was a total failure, production continued to drop and the field was abandoned.

Now Saudi is about to inituate another injection program for Khurais, this time a seawater injection program. At first they said that as much as 800,000 barrels per day may be drawn from Khurais. Later someone upped that figure to 1,200,000 barrels per day. Yeah, right! Lotsa luck fella.

The point is these are the extremes that Saudi Arabia is going to in order to try to increase production. There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia. They are relying instead on tapping old fields, most that were shutdown in the past due to low production.

Ron Patterson


Sorry, I meant Thunder Horse not Hungry Horse.

Ron Patterson

Lunch time perhaps?  :-)
So let me sum this up nicely:  You are stating for a FACT that there is absolutely ZERO oil left to be found in all of KSA and the entire ME, despite the fact that there are still vast unexplored areas in that region.  And you are saying this in spite of the fact that the most explored region on the planet, the US, has continued to find 50+ Gb in the past 24 years alone.  By default, this means that all ME oil is located ONLY in a few 'king' and 'queen' fields, and that there are no jacks, or even deuces at all whatsoever, in extreme divergence from the field variance history for the rest of the planet.

Are you on the record as stating this?

 Hothgar, Ron Patterson is guilty of rhetorical exageration. Jeffreys point, the point we are debating, was that in spite of the huge increase in drilling in Texas, doubling the number of producing wells between 1976-1982, total production went down. His point is right, I worked through that period. And he further states that we can expect the same lack of results from the Saudi Drilling program. And thats a reasonable hypothesis, although there a number of different factors in the Persian Gulf area. Jeffrey could in fact be wrong about that, certainly RR implies that he is, and the Saud family, who is ponying up the money thinks Jeffrey is wrong, as well as CERA,Michael Lynch, Exxon and the EIA.
  Myself, I think the data is too occluded, I'm withholding judgement.
  But this really isn't a big game of "gotcha". I really pray that Jeffrey and Ron are wrong, but my gut says they're right
Hothgar, Ron Patterson is guilty of rhetorical exageration.

Oil Man Bob, Please point to the sentence or paragraph where I am guilty of rhetorical exaggeration.* What I said was: There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia. That, dammit is not a rhetorical exaggeration, it is the absolute truth. Well it is the truth if Matt Simmons is to be believed. And he backs up every one of his statements with references.

But if that was not the sentence, or paragraph where I exaggerated thn please explain yourself. I am very careful not to do that and I find it deeply frustrating when people, like Hothgor, change my words to say something I never intended to say, and people like Oilmanbob, read those words and think I actually uttered them, then accuse me of exaggerating.

Again, I am not an exaggerator and I take great pains not to do so. But if I ever slipped and did so, then point out the case and I will apologize.

Ron Patterson

You are stating for a FACT that there is absolutely ZERO oil left to be found in all of KSA and the entire ME, despite the fact that there are still vast unexplored areas in that region.

Hothgor, is English your native language. You seem to be having real problems understanding anything I write. I said no such thing as you wrote above. I cannot say that there is no oil left to be found in SA. What I did say was There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia. Learn to read or please quit responding Hothgor!

But you obvioulsy are totally uninformed concerning Saudi Arabia. There are no aress, except a strip of land along the Iraqu border, that is unexplored in Saudi Arabia. That geology of that area, like the area over the Arabian Shield, is known not to be the kind that usually produces oil.

Other than that the entire nation has been explored. The last field was found in 1989, the Hawtha Trend Fields. These are the only oil fields found in SA outside the Eastern Province. The Hawtha Trend Fields are about a dozen very tiny fields that give virtually no promise on any significant oil ever to be pumped from them. And these were the only fields in Saudi Arabia found since 1969 when Shabah was discovered. Nothing else was found in that 20 year span and nothing else has been found since despite continious exploration efforts.

Let me repeat this Hothgor: "There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia." The last field of any size was found in 1969, nothing else since except those pipsqueak Hawtha Trend Fields, and they count for virtually nothing.

And as far as the US goes, though we have found about 15 billion barrels in the Gulf of Mexico, (perhaps a bit more), not the 50+ you indicate, production in the US has continued to decline.

Saudi Arabia has no deepwaters to explore. Of course you probably did not know that, still being wet behind the ears as you obviously are. Younguns are not expected to be overly smart these days. But no area on earth has been more throughly explored than Saudi Arabia.

Ron Patterson

Ron, I'm not an expert on Saudi oil finds, and frankly I don't much care. Whatever the Kingdom finds is going to be inconsequential compared to the fields  they already produce. I question 15 billion barrels in the Gulf in the last 25 years. There are very few oil producing offshore fields in the GOM, Lake Washington, Mobile Bay, and field extensions from High Island and Goose Creek. Thunderhorse and Jack aren't producing-so their production is hypothetical. There's a lot of gas and condensate fields, just not much oil.
  I, like RR am amazed at the size of the discrepancy. Its a couple of Trillion dollars at today's prices, and I would welcome an explanation. Don't get you panties in a wad, were're on the same side. Peace, brother  
Oilmanbob, sorry but my panties are in a wad. You accused me of rhetorical exaggeration and I demand that you prove that statement or retract it.

I stated that there are no new fields in Saudi Arabia. And that was the statement that Hothgor twisted into something else. And apparently that was what you called a rhetorical exaggeration on my part. It was not. There have been no new major fields discovered in Saudi Arabia since 1969 and only one tiny group of very minor fields, discovered in 1989, deep in the interior of the nation, since then. That these tiny fields were discovered, half way between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Shield, testifies to the extensive search ARAMCO has gone to trying to discover new fields. They have found NONE!

You may question the 15 billion barrels found in the Gulf of Mexico but that is entirely beside the point. Those barrels are, and were, counted in the USGS estimate of US reserves. Whether they pan out or not doesn't matter. They were included in RRs "dramatic growth" in US reserves which so shocked him yesterday. But hell, Jack 2 is estimated to be over half that amount. I think 15 billion barrels is a very conservative.

But the point is Bob, I am not an exaggerator and it very much pisses me off to be accused of such.

So would you kindly point out my exaggeration or retract that statement.

Anxiously awaiting your reply.

Ron Patterson

  I'll yield to your expertise on Saudi. I'm sorry, I know you aren't one to exagerate. But, there ain't 15 bbls. of new oil reserves in the US Gulf! I don't care what the USGS  says. There may be 15 billion barrels of oil equivalent, but the only two major oil discoveries in US waters of the Gulf are Thunderhorse in the Green Canyon Area and Jack in the Eocene Subsalt Trend, which may very well prove uneconomic. I find the USGS reserve numbers as baffling as they come.
  In case you haven't noticed, I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong and trying to do better in the future. I'm a generalist, pretty good understanding and some expertise in areas like redevelopment of old oil fields, land law and title law. But I do keep up with discoveries and trends in the US. I suspect my case is the same as many others on this site-we each see a small piece clearly and try to share while learning from others. Its TOD's great strength, some real communal knowledge.
  At any rate, it doesn't matter about Saudi, because even if  you are wrong and they discover some fields, they can't offset their decline for very long. The KSA fields appear to be at peak or slightly past peak, and Ghawar isn't at all likely to be replaced in the mideast. Its a mature oil province.
  Peace, Enough already, I'm on your side!  
I meant to say ther are not 15 billion barrels of new oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, not 15 bbl. This was a typing and proofing mistake.
Alright guys, I did a little research. Thunderhorse has 300 million barrels of reserves, but they kep putting off first production date. Jack 2 was an appraisal well that flowed 6,000 bbl/day and proves another 300 million barrel field, which may or may not prove economic to produce. The lower Tertiary trend may contain additional reserves of up to 15 billion barrels in a trend 300 miles long.
  If my napkin figures are right, thats 600 million barrels of crude in the US GOM waters, a far cry from 15 billion barrels
  The biggest onshore play has been the Giddings Austin Chalk, which has produced 450 million barrels since 1960, and may contain as much as 10 billion barrels, according to Ray Holifield, who is the best geophysicist operating in the field. I know Ray and he's always been optimistic, but he's a great oil finder. Now for my napkin and pencil...
at the most optimistic that leaves 26 billion barrels for "reserve growth" to be explained, but probably a whole lot more, because of that figure only the Giddings field 450 million barrels was produced. There are also some smaller fields like the Kurten Field and the Bryan Field in Texas.
So, Robert Rapier is in my opinion right. There is something fishy about the USGS reserve figures.
  Production rates really do matter. We have lots of old fields in Texas which can be redrilled at prices above $50 a barrel, perhaps raising the total recovery here by 20%. But its not going to be easy or cheap.
Bob, I did not see your correction until I posted the above. I have never claimed that there were 15 billion barrels of new discoveries in the Gulf. But Robert's date was (I believe) 1986. I have absolutely no doubt that there has been 15 billion barrels added to US reserves in that area since 1986. After all, we have produced 15 billion barrels from that area. And adding 15 billion barrels since then is not that much of a stretch.

Perhaps you are talking about newer oil? We need to define terms here.

Ron Patterson

I'll yield to your expertise on Saudi. I'm sorry, I know you aren't one to exagerate. But, there ain't 15 bbls. of new oil reserves in the US Gulf! I don't care what the USGS  says.

Surely you jest!

Original proved reserves are estimated to have been 12.01 billion barrels of oil and 144.9 trillion cubic feet of gas from 899proved fields under the Federal submerged lands in the Gulf of Mexico. Included in this number are 145 fields that are depleted and abandoned; not included are the 76 unproved active fields. As of December 31, 1995, cumulative production from these 899 fields was 9.68 billion barrels of oil and 117.4 trillion cubic feet of gas.

By the end of 1995 there had already been produced 9.68 billion barrels of oil from the GOM, with an estimated 12.01 billion barrels remaining. And since 1996 we have produced over 5 billion barrels from the GOM. That puts current production at over 15 billion barrels.

By September 2001  that reserves figure had been increased to 14.265 billion barrels of proven reserves, with probable reserves reaching well over 15 billion barrels. Since that date, several new discoveries have been made. Jack 2 is estimated to have a minimum of 3 billion barrels of reserves. That would put current reserves in the GOM at over 17 billion barrels.

Once again Oilman, I do not exaggerate. I may speak off the cuff occasionally and only guess at my data. But even then it is always close. And the vast majority of time I can back up every figure I post with a URL or a reference.

Bob, I have absolutely no problem with there being 15 billion barrels of proven reserves in the GOM and I simply cannot imagine why you do. After all we are producing over 1.5 million barrels per day from the area. Good God man, what's the problem?

Ron Patterson

"Hothgor, is English your native language. You seem to be having real problems understanding anything I write. I said no such thing as you wrote above. I cannot say that there is no oil left to be found in SA. What I did say was There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia. Learn to read or please quit responding Hothgor!

Ok, so as I said, there are two possibilities then.

  1.  There is zero new oil to discover in all of KSA, and their 160.2 Gb reservers from 1982 is all they ever had, or ever will have.
  2.  RR is right, and KSA will experience a similar 'reserve growth' phenomenon.

If the same ratio holds true, KSA will have roughly 120 Gb left to produce at this moment.  Assuming no new fields will ever be found.

However, you still did not address one of my points:  Are we now saying that the KSA region is unique in all of the world in that the region ONLY includes King and Queen fields, with nothing smaller?  Or are you just blowing smoke up our collective butts because the 'paid troll' has you caught red handed in a blatant misrepresentation of the facts ~_~

These are just two points in a wide spectrum of possibilities. For example, reserve growth in KSA could be half of what we saw in Texas, or double.

I seem to recall from Hubbert's Senate report from the 1960s - can't one plot discoveries or reserves for some region versus time, just like one plots production. One's estimate of what's left to pump will grow at first and then shrink - it ought to be a logistic curve much like the production curve, but leading it.

But I don't remember how Hubbert distinguished between change in total reserves due to reserve growth from existing fields versus new fields.

How many new fields were discovered in Texas or the lower 48 after 1980? Was all that reserve growth from existing fields?

The main point about KSA is that the Kings and Queens are fundamentally some of the largest and most productive fields ever discovered in the History of oil. So far they have not discovered other equally bountiful fields.

They may discover a knight or a few pawns, but the discrepency between the size of the King and Queens when compared with the pawns is such that making up a shortfall when the Kings and Queens show clear signs of depletion will be impossible.

Of course, the KSA may have found other hypergiants , buried the publication of these fields and have them ready to tap into. Any time they wish. However that would go against the grain of 100 years of oil exploitation.

And right now, if KSA was to announce further , huge, proven reserves, than all here could switch off and go back to sleep. And now would be the time to do it.

It is a misconception that just because the KSA found so much oil with so little exploration and appraisal drilling, more exp drilling will find more Ghawars.

KSA hit the jackpot because the jackpot was unmissable.

Oil occurs in discrete (relatively discrete) pockets. Look at where oil is found in the Middle East. It is in a relatively small area of the Middle East, a 'golden triangle' if you like.

A really good example is the geological structure of the North Sea: The oil fields of the north sea are highly concentrated in a rift structure called the Viking Graben.

Wander too far from this structure and you drill dry holes.

Geologists and Geophysicists have spent their lives and staked careers on what works. It is not likely that they have been looking at the wrong structures.

I admire your boundless optimism and your belief in hope over experience. Keep it up! (is that patronising enough?)

Hothgor. You are not so much a troll, more a devil's advocate. Keep on posting.

Hothgor, it would be an education for you if you would only read "Twilight in the Desert". You stated:

Are we now saying that the KSA region is unique in all of the world in that the region ONLY includes King and Queen fields, with nothing smaller?

DAMN man! Did I say that. Hell no, dozens of much smaller fields have been found in Saudi, and they are currently producing oil from these small fields for all it's worth. But there are no new fields in Saudi Arabia, large or small.

Or are you just blowing smoke up our collective butts because the 'paid troll' has you caught red handed in a blatant misrepresentation of the facts ~_~

You stupid ass, just tell me where I am misrepresenting the facts. Tell me one fact that I have misrepresented. I have not been caught red handed doing anything because everything I have stated can be documented.

I told Robert yesterday that I am sometimes rude myself and I always regret it later. But why does it make me feel so good by calling you a stupid ass. I may regret it later but now it just feels so damn good. You stupid ass.

Ron Patterson

And you said...

"Hothgor, is English your native language. You seem to be having real problems understanding anything I write. I said no such thing as you wrote above. I cannot say that there is no oil left to be found in SA. What I did say was There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia. Learn to read or please quit responding Hothgor!"

Let me repeat this:

"What I did say was There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia. "

So, if there are no new fields, then that means that KSA is a unique region in the entire world that contains only Kings and Queens and almost no pawns.  Then what does that mean?  Its production history will not follow other regions such as the Lower 48 or the North Sea, as the field distribution is fundamentally different then those regions.  Thank you for shedding light on this issue, as we can now safely say that Westexas was wrong! <chortle>

I guess you should follow your own advise then:

"Learn to read or please quit responding"

Hothgor, I usually tolerate your posts because you do put some good questions and provide some optimism vs the general pessimism and doomerism here.  However, you really should apologizae to WT for this last post.  This is not a high school debating club.  It's a serious attempt to provide the 'peak oil is very near' argument in a complete and convincing fashion.  Gotcha is so juvenile and you use it so frequently that I have to believe your at best a teenager, and should modify your behaviour as you have neither the knowledege not the maturity to continue arguments.  If you're a young adult, you need to take some steps to mature beyond that teenage mentality rhat you constantly display.
Sorry, bud, I feel it needs to be said.
The <chortle> comment was meant to signify that my last comment was a joke, or that I was being sarcastic or both.
Hothgor wrote:

So, if there are no new fields, then that means that KSA is a unique region in the entire world that contains only Kings and Queens and almost no pawns.  Then what does that mean?  Its production history will not follow other regions such as the Lower 48 or the North Sea, as the field distribution is fundamentally different then those regions.  Thank you for shedding light on this issue, as we can now safely say that Westexas was wrong! <chortle>

Good God, what type of logic are you using here. Why does no new fields mean only Kings and Queens and almost no pawns? Hell no, there are dozens of pawns and they were all discovered from the 1930s thru the 1960s. There are literally dozens of very old pawns. There are no new pawns.

And Westexas is exactly right, it is Hothgor who is wrong, as usual. And you could use a good course in logic because your current logic matches that of a three year old.

Ron Patterson

Then would you care to explain how the US, the most explored region on the planet, continued to find new discoveries, some of them quite large, after the peak in production in the early 70s, but KSA, which might have peaked back in 2005, will find no new fields whatsoever?

The two don't mesh if WT is right, and that the KSA will follow a similar production curve.  If we are to believe your line of logic, we must then assume that WT is wrong, and things will either last a lot longer, or get a whole lot worse then they are now in very very short order.

Then would you care to explain how the US, the most explored region on the planet, continued to find new discoveries, some of them quite large, after the peak in production in the early 70s, but KSA, which might have peaked back in 2005, will find no new fields whatsoever?

You are confusing production with discoveries. The only major discoveries after 1970 were in the Gulf of Mexico. Alaska was developed after 1970 but discovered well before that. There were no major discoveries in the US after 1970 except in the GOM. And I really don't know what percentage of the oil in the GOM was discovered before 1970. At any rate Saudi Arabia does not have a GOM or an Alaska.

The two don't mesh if WT is right, and that the KSA will follow a similar production curve.  If we are to believe your line of logic, we must then assume that WT is wrong, and things will either last a lot longer, or get a whole lot worse then they are now in very very short order.

I cannot speak for WT but I suspect he means production in SA will continue on a downward trend. I would agree. I don't think for one minute that he really means that SA will develope an Alaska, then discover and develope a GOM. That just ain't gonna happen. And yes I do expect things to get very bad in Saudi Arabia in the next 10 years.

Ron Patterson

Saudi Arabia is very small, and the region of oil is mapped out in many of Simmons' presentations - about the size of 2 southwestern states at most. This is a small area to explore compared to the US, not even discussing the Gulf and Alaska. What's the problem?
Ron, u will regret your nasty post in the morning.

Methinx the basis of the hostilities in this thread has its foundation in nobody posting numbers.  Let us review.

Saudi Aramco say they have 260-Gb of P1 remaining plus 99-Gb that have been extracted.

They claim that they can maintain the present 10-mbd MSC (max sustained capacity - not production) until 2042 w/o touching P2.

P2 is claimed to be 32-Gb

P3 is claimed to be 71-Gb

And they claim to have 238-Gb in contingent resource on top.

This totals 700-Gb

They claim on top of that they have 200-Gb in undiscovered.

The USGS estimated their undiscovered at 87-Gb in Y2k.

Going back to P1, they admit to having 131-Gb of it in development and 129-Gb is in field yet undeveloped.

Ok kids, go at it ...  

This totals 700-Gb.

Freddy, this number is totally absurd, simply beyond belief. Saudi has 700-Gb of reserves? Are you so naive as to actually believe this?

No, I do not really think you are so dumb as to believe such an absurd number Freddy. No one is that dumb.

But I am really curious as to know what you really do believe. Would you believe 300 Gb?

Just curious.

Ron Patterson

While I agree in part with FH here that the numbers are probably significantly higher then the figures thrown around here and in various PO circles, it does come down to production.  It wont matter if they have 700 Gb of reserves if they can only produce 2 to 3 million bpd of it at a time.
Please Ron, i did not say they had 700-Gb of reserves.  I wrote that SA states that they have:

363-Gb of P1, P2 & P3 discovered reserves
238-Gb of discoverd subcommecial resource
 99-Gb past extraction

Why would u attribute such crap towards me?  What is your prob today?

They have stated that their URR is 700-Gb and these are their component figures.

They are basing their 2055 forecast on the existing P1 of 260-Gb + 35-Gb of existing P2.  This would give them 12-mbd of capacity 'til 2055 and 9.5 to 10-mbd of supply from 2016 to 2055.  And yes, i like their numbers.  It's 295-Gb.  And close to your "300".

While the 2004 forecast was to increase capacity by 0.5-mbd from 2011 to 2016 to attain the 12-mbd capacity (not production); they since said in May 2006 that they would be accelerating the capacity build to reach 12-mbd in 2010.  Then last month they claimed to be already at 11.2-mbd capacity of which 2.6-mbd is spare capacity, leaving a present sustained production rate of 8.6-mbd and claim they are presently producing an avg 10-mbd (incl NGL's and proc gains.  SA went on to say that they will attain 12.6-mbd capacity and 10-mbd of sustained production in August 2009.

Mark it in your calendar, Ronny!

It was u who said "I will go on record as saying Saudi will not push production to 10 million barrels per day in the next couple of years. Hell, I will go on record and say they will never push production to 10 million barrels per day average for one year."

I have put these figures out several times.  So that bet was kinda lame when u knew 2007 & 2008 & most of 2009 were out of the target range.  Eh, ronny?!!

That aside, since 2004 i have been scrutinizing all the Outlooks to see what they say about SA or ME production at the time intervals.  That is why i discounted the EIA forecast on my Scenarios graphic & called it the EIA/Aramco projection.

Today we see IEA as the most optimistic Scenario long term with a 103-mbd peak.  Unfortunately, it targets 14.6-mbd of that from Saudi Arabia.  It ain't gonna happen.  And that's why i'm shying away from my affair with IEA and prefer the newly suggested "AVERAGE" graph insertion of 95-mbd @ Peak.

Let me repeat this Hothgor: "There are no new fields in Saudi Arabia." The last field of any size was found in 1969, nothing else since except those pipsqueak Hawtha Trend Fields, and they count for virtually nothing.

Careful, Ron. You're turning blue in the face.

You can only school someone for so long. Let go.

"Data trumps all theories."

Name one piece of data, other than your personal existence, that isn't based on any theory of measurement or observation.

I would like to say this, albeit somewhat belatedly: I thought your post was excellent, and I hope you will still have time to share such insights with us while you are on a steep learning curve in Scotland. Let's face it, most people wouldn't be able to do that, so let us all hope...

Really, this site has its giants, and you are one of them - especially so as you do not always preach to the choir. We all need to hear what you have to say. So please don't be put off by the negative stuff you get. There are plenty of people reading but not posting, thinking, 'Yeah...'.

Thanks, Robert.

Hey, Robert -- and all.

I too appreciate civility on TOD.  In fact, I insist upon it!

One way to make sure a response is civil is to respond to the whole group of readers as well as to the post or comment you are commenting about.  Pissing matches ought to be taken to private e-mail and dealt with there.

If a pissing match seems too full of technical info and that we all would be deprived of that if the pissing match were moved off of TOD, then maybe one or both participants could summarize the "valuable material" and bring it back later....much later, probably.

I appreciate the posts of RR and WT, and of many other folks as well. I like threads that center on topic and not on individual participants.

The occassional praise and thanks seems civil and proper, but criticisms of individuals might best be done in private email as well.  

Too often criticism of individuals on a thread just poisons the thread, especially for newbies.

Above all, we all need to remind ourselves to breathe deeply and to remember "Relax, you're soaking in it!" with regards to petroleum.

(Doesn't "relax, you're soaking in it come from an old dishwashing detergent ad?)

So thanks to RR and to all who take time to compose posts and to compose considered, thoughtful comments!

Robert, I hope that my responses to you were not amongst those that you felt were insulting. (Yes, I insulted Hothgor. I tired of the witless troll.) Because I respect you, I attempted to stick to the core of the matter, which is why many of us believe KSA has about 70 billion barrels of oil left. That was directly related to the HL predictions for the US and Russia having been so accurate thus fostering a high degree of confidence in the HL predictions for KSA, which you seem to consistently dismiss, both in your article and in your debate with Westexas. In fact, despite the convergence of the KSA HL prediction and the reserve numbers mentioned in Twilight In The Desert's appendices, you flatly stated that you would stick with the higher 160 billion number unless someone could demonstrate a reason to believe otherwise. And yet, when we give that demonstration (the HL plot for KSA), it is dismissed as insufficient evidence.

I find this behavior of yours baffling despite the model's high degree of accuracy for the US and Russia and given the clear failure of traditional measures of reserves to account for the actual production of the US since peak.

Let me reiterate:

  1. The Hubbert Curve predicted the US peak accurately.
  2. The HL approach predicted US production post-peak 1970-2006 to 99% accuracy using only pre-peak data.
  3. The HL approach predicted Russian production post peak to present to within 95% accuracy using only pre-peak data.
  4. The HL technique strongly disputed the reserve numbers for Kuwait and in the last year we have had public admissions from Kuwait that actual reserves are much closer to what the HL method predicts than the formerly inflated numbers.
  5. The HL technique strongly suggests that KSA's remaining reserves are in the 70 billion barrel range.
  6. The HL technique suggests that KSA is on the verge of irreversible declines.
  7. KSA production is down precisely when the HL technique says it should start down. Yes there have been prior ups and downs but the HL technique did not predict those because they were political. This one appears to be geological.

The first 4 statements are facts that the model predicts and which have been verified. The next 2 statements are predictions of the model. The final statement is a fact also though the cause remains in dispute. Given the former accuracy of the model, I think it becomes incumbent on you to demonstrate why another approach is better than the HL model. Instead you have not done this at all, choosing to refer to proprietary information that you are unable to share, to methods whose results surprised even you (yet which were still consistent with the HL predictions for the US), and you keep asking for further proof. At this point I am unsure what else to give you. The numbers sit there staring you in the face but for some reason you keep reaching for other numbers.

Perhaps if you would explain why you reject the HL predictions for KSA, we might understand your position. But right now you appear to be rejecting it without cause. Based on your writings here and at your blog you usually have a cause for your conclusions, hence my request that you examine the HL method in detail and explain to us why you reject it (or perhaps why you might choose to accept it now).

Finally, I am not suggesting that the HL approach is the only or even the best approach. People like WHT are looking for approaches that make more sense (like the shock model) and I applaud that effort. Yet before we reject the Hubbert Curve and Hubbert Linearization, we all need to remember how accurate it has been thus far on major producing regions.

Robert, I hope that my responses to you were not amongst those that you felt were insulting.

OK, back in Montana now. No, your post was not one of the insulting ones. Yours was in disagreement, but I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is "I disagree, and you are an idiot", or simply "You are an idiot."

Perhaps if you would explain why you reject the HL predictions for KSA, we might understand your position.

I don't reject them. In fact, I was trying to confirm them, and that essay was the result of what I found.

Perhaps if you would explain why you reject the HL predictions for KSA, we might understand your position. But right now you appear to be rejecting it without cause. Based on your writings here and at your blog you usually have a cause for your conclusions, hence my request that you examine the HL method in detail and explain to us why you reject it (or perhaps why you might choose to accept it now).

We have to be cautious in our use of the HL method. Below, I propose a little counter-example. Look at the following HL result:

The HL result seems convincing and the URR is probably around 700 Gb and cumulative production is at 78.4% of the URR, terminal production decline seems inevitable. However, the production profile from my virtual country, which happens to have an infinite oil resource, is the following:

How effective is it to build a counter-example that relies on a physical impossibility - infinite oil?

I'd find your counter-example more compelling if it had a finite amount of oil but infinite? That's an irrelevant argument from the start.

Where have we seen those undulating plateaus before?
Sorry. Alzheimer's prevents one from recalling. :-)
Your missing the point, the infinite amount of oil in that example has nothing to do with the apparent convergence of the HL toward 700 Gb. I could have simulated an exponential decline to limit the URR, It would not have change the results. My point is that despite a relatively straightforward fit in the HL domain, my estimation is far from the reality.

I think you make a mistake in getting so upset with the nasty replies to your posts. You shoud try just ignoring the ad hominens and deal with the issues raised, if there are any.

It's true that there's no excuse for abuse, but the cure is worse than the disease -- i.e. moderating, etc. That's the kiss of death for a site like this. There will always be borderline cases, sharply worded comments which one editor might allow, another not, and so on. It's better just to cultivate a blog climate or etiquette of sticking to the issues and ignoring or reprimanding teachable offenders.

Visitors to a blog soon learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. That's my opinion in any case.

Visitors to a blog soon learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I agree.  Maybe we'll have to go to more stringent moderation one day, but right now, the best thing to do is just ignore the ad hominems.  Most of us have been subject to personal attack here at one time or another.  It's part of the package, I'm afraid, and nothing to get worked up about.  

How does that saying go?  You shouldn't wrestle with pigs, because you get dirty and the pig enjoys it.

Robert, you are the kind of person I would want in a contributing editor on a site like this.  

First, you have a pair - by posting here you open yourself up to immediate criticism and rebuttal (unlike the print MSM or comavision like 60 minutes, 20/20 etc). Your message gets immediate feedback, pro and con, and because the feedback is usually posted immediately and in the heat of the moment it might not always be civil.

(Incidently, I think the motivations of the protesters should not be automatically questioned - e.g. most of the "yerginites" truly believe what they say and likely feel the same level of animosity towards those of us who are sane.  If their criticism is worthwhile it is dealt with.)

Second, all readers must remember we are a community with expertise in many different disciplines - just as the main authors of most of the books on the subject of Pealk Oil are from different disciplines.  We are all ignorant of some aspects of this subject - sometimes even about areas or data within our own discipline (and sometimes even of our own motivations - ancient critter-part of the brain stuff).  

All of the information in Robert's post and the responses was likely news to many people.  Or at least a damned entertaining review of it ;)

I would hope none of you regular 5-star contributers are ever intimidated by a mistake, or by some angry person's harsh words to the point of not posting.  

" I would call for a little more civility"

Please tell me that does not have to apply to CERA and Yergin etc. Please...  

Wall St. Journal reports:
Oil at $70 a Barrel Is Possible Even Without More OPEC Cuts
By David Bird
December 18, 2006; Page C5

First-quarter 2007 crude-oil prices may challenge the $70-a-barrel level for the first time since August, even without a second production cut by OPEC, if historical patterns hold.

In each of the past five years, Nymex front-month crude oil futures prices have jumped an average of 11.6% in the first quarter from their December average, regardless of the action taken by OPEC in the month.

Halfway through December, prices are averaging more than $62 a barrel. January Nymex crude futures gained $1.14 Thursday, to $62.51, after OPEC decided to keep output steady but implement a 500,000 barrel-a-day cut in oil output Feb. 1. On Friday, crude futures continued to rise, ending at $63.43. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed in October to take 1.2 million barrels a day of oil off the global market starting Nov. 1.

Applying the average rise in the first quarter of the past five years to current prices suggests crude could top $69.25 in the first three months of the year. Even if the 2005 gain of 6.8%, the smallest in the past five years, is applied, prices would top $66.25, higher than government forecasts.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently warned that even if OPEC kept oil output steady at near 29 million barrels, prices would climb from an average of about $60 a barrel in the current quarter to top $64 in the first quarter and rise above $66 a barrel in the second quarter.

In the past three years, first-quarter rises were followed by an additional 9% average gain in the second quarter. This pattern suggests prices could reach an average near $75 heading into the spring-to-summer driving season.

Whether historical patterns hold true depends on several factors, mainly the severity of winter temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere and the levels of inventory held by the major industrialized countries world-wide.

OPEC sought to portray high inventory levels as the main threat to market stability and took pains to de-emphasize oil prices at its meeting Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria. The cartel said it would cut output in February to attack the surplus and would practice "extreme vigilance in assessing the market during the coming months" ahead of its scheduled March 15 meeting.

OPEC expressed concerns over a potential slowdown in global economic growth in 2007 and the likelihood that rising non-OPEC supply would top by 500,000 barrels a day expected oil-demand growth of 1.3 million barrels a day, cutting into its market share.

Despite a huge drawdown in global stockpiles, Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi, who is in effect the leader of OPEC, told The Wall Street Journal that a 50-million-barrel global overhang remains to be cleared by the end of the first quarter.

OPEC's view of consumer stockpiles is informed by the latest estimates from the Paris-based International Energy Agency. The data show a drop in October of almost 40 million barrels in the month from a September level that was the highest since 1998, when prices were collapsing. IEA said in a report Wednesday that stocks in the world's most developed countries are sufficient to cover 54 days of consumption, one day fewer than in September, but one day more than a year earlier.

But the latest data from the U.S., whose stockpiles make up about 40% of that total, show huge declines in inventories through November. EIA also projects that the fourth-quarter stock drop in the U.S. will be near 82 million barrels, more than 5.5 times the average decline in the fourth quarter in the past five years. EIA's projections are based on expectations that winter temperatures will be warmer than the long-term average, but colder than a year ago.

Before OPEC's next scheduled meeting, EIA's forecasts show, U.S. oil inventories will fall below year-ago levels, as declining crude stocks join dwindling gasoline and heating oil and diesel inventories.

The IEA warned that even current total OPEC output of about 29 million barrels a day would slice 200 million barrels from global stockpiles between the end of October and the end of March. Such a decline would put stocks near 2.52 billion barrels, the lowest level since the end of March 2004.

Based on IEA's projected demand, this stock level would translate to about 52 days of inventory, two days fewer than the 2006 level.

The spectre of huge additions to non-OPEC supply is so threadbare an old scarecrow that not even the smallest children should take it seriously.
Proof there are no new projects coming on in 2007?
Stylish - short, simple question, where the other person has to do all the work to justify their assertion.

Let me say that this is one reason a number of people were forbearing - and the number that weren't also helped in the long run.

The problems being looked at here are truly immense - there are never enough hands to help.

But to give a partial answer - Angola joining OPEC (have they popped the corks yet?) skews some of the numbers around, which also helps show how arbitrary much of the discussion can be. Angola was considered to be one of the growing major non-OPEC producers, and a fair amount of oil is supposed to come from there in 2007 - though the sinking of the semisubmersible vessel Mighty Servant 3 may just throw a wrench into an offshore project or two. As often pointed out by our esteemed editor, projects generally slip, often very significantly (Thunderhorse is likely two hurricane seasons away from going on-line) and underproduce, but they rarely get finished in 50% of the scheduled time, and produce 50% more than planned.

However, it is a very reasonable assumption that a lot of people will be trying to pump as much as they can in the next period of time, as $60 is seemingly poised to become the new $20, or maybe the next $40. I am not sure that such a surge is a sign of anything but grasping at a higher profit margin, but it is reasonable to believe that various stars will align to allow a slight to noticeable rise in oil production in the next year or two - which just happens to be 2009, depending on how you look at your calendar years.

By then, the discussion about the 4 elephants will be over, and the discussion about them will only be centered on the decline rate and their production per day. There is only one project anticipated to come even close to the production level of only one of those depleted elephants - which should cause a certain pause to reflect on what that means.

Absolute numbers count in the real world, not percentages. This is why the reserve discussion is so difficult - reserves are a projection of what can be put in the pipeline when everything is totalled, but they don't actually indicate how much the pipeline is carrying at any one time.

And you have complete access to every planned production database to conclude that there are no more giant fields left to produce from, and the best we can expect is then from the Caspian Sea?
Oh no, I am the one that posted about that leftover untapped 60 Gb Soviet field, the one which is in nobody's database.

Personally, one of my little enjoyments over the past few years has been comparing projections of future production (the British especially) to the actual numbers. At some point, only the actual numbers will matter - for example, when the British start importing fossil fuels, even as the official projections call for exports.

But please, keeping reading the press releases - anyone who has ever written a press release (yes, my hands are dirty) knows that the most important thing about one is to make sure the facts are correct, and that they provide as much objective information as possible to allow an informed reader to make up their own mind. Assuming you never want to write another one, that is.

No He probably does not have access and neither do you. So his opinion has equal credibility to yours. Further more reserve numbers are mostly wishful or hoped for numbers. Worldwide C+C production numbers are no higher than they were nearly 2 years ago, and with much higher prices. Production numbers trump reserve numbers everyday. IMO reserve numbers are only so much superfluous information. When we see production increases rise above the noise I will have a little more faith in the reserve numbers.
And keep in mind production has reached similar plateaus what, 13 times now?  At least we can agree on the 'wait and see' approach to this.
Your insinutation is absolutely correct, Hothgar.  Skrebowski just increased his flow rate forecast (Megaprojects) last week and has revised his Peak to 95-mbd in 2011 (from 93-mbd in 2010).  His new Outlook w/o his silly 3-7% decline rate that has also been trashed is at our site today.  Megaprojects is the dark blue line to left (graph below the URR footnotes)

The Scenarios Avg decline rate has been raised to 3.1%/yr.

The Scenarios AVG Peak is 95-mbd in 2020.

Please click the link to see the Legend.

Could you show the subset of your posters that assume sa has peaked? TIA
As mentioned in another thread, i dislike Outlooks that include their manufactured forecasts for Saudi Arabia production.  The worst offender was EIA's 2004 Reference Scenario.  Its 2025 target included SA "capacity" of 22.5-mbd when SA was openly stating that 12.5-mbd was all that was planned.  They had considered 15-mbd capacity but has neither been keen on it nor included planning for that eventuality in its long term business plan.

At the next CSIS conference in Washington, SA summed their disgust with outside forecasters this way:

"Equally important, Saudi Arabia has no obligation to plan to meet idealized demand-driven economic requirements, and would be foolish to do so.  it has simply been used as a virtually infinite pool of oil exports by EIA, IEA and OPEC modelers for their own bureaucratic convenience. ... It is clear then Saudi Arabia does not currently want to make a commitment to 15-mbd (capacity)."

EIA was 10-mbd too high.  We inserted an anti-EIA Scenario (in 2004) to spite them.  By Dec 2005, they had redrawn their Reference Scenario with their 2025 production rate marked down "exactly" 10-mbd.  I smiled.

J, I do not know how many of the Outlooks assume SA has peaked; will hold at 10-mbd; or assume great things to come.  I know IEA is still assuming too much.  Their 2030 target for SA has only been reduced from 18-mbd production to 14.6-mbd production ... a full 4.6-mbd above present realities.

Personally i have confidence in SA's plans for supplying 10-mbd over the next 50 years with all information available to me.

You could be right.. or not.  Consider this example:
in 2001 cera projected NA ng prices would drop significantly, and stay down for many years, on account of increased NA supplies.  Since then (interestinly the peak year) NA production is down 7% even though the number of rigs drilling for ng has doubled on account of 3x higher prices.

IN sa case, their number of rigs is up 3x in 2 years, still rising at 1.5 new oil drilling rigs/month.  Meanwhile, and through early aug with shariply rising prices (of which sa complained, a position consistent with their past efforts to prevent prices from rising too fast), sa production declined, down I think 7% by the time opec agreed cuts took them out of their misery.  Do you think NA ng production has peaked, or do you think we will eventually see the higher produciton earlier predicted by cera?  IMO the two cases are similar...

The only evidence anyone can present in support of sa's assertion that they will some day produce 10M/d+ is the assertion itself.   Mind you, I do think they continue to produce flat out, using the cut period to reload their tank farms at say 250k/d, which may allow a short term surge at some point in the futurel.

J, to your first question, the NA situation doesn't matter about domestic production.  Its determination is based on LNG.  Domestic producers got the crap scared out of 'em in 2004 with the $2 & $3 long term Pacific contracts being signed for LNG.  Why explore and produce to max resources under that environment?

But higher oil prices have sent LNG prices up (tho not in tandem) and we have a better outlook presently for domestic production.  Further, the Feds and local Govt's are having a bitch of a time getting approvals and permits in place for the LNG terminals.  Bodes well for domestic producers long term strategies.

In 2004, i foresaw a temp problem for NA nat'l gas in 2007.  That was looking like the transiton year between domestic production stretched to the limit and prior to LNG imports coming on stream in large enuf numbers.

2007 looks excellent today but 2008 may be tight.  In 2004 i saw sustained pricing below ten bucks while the idiots were forecasting $15 to $25 prices sustained and rising. They were drasticall wrong in 2004. 2005. and 2006.  Sure we had spikes, but none of the sustained doom and gloom and pipleline running out of fricken pressure bullcrap.  Most pundits know nothing of the industry.  And yahoo energyresources was the biggest proponent of this apocalyptic scenario unfolding in 2005 and 2006.  Total idiots and neophtyes.  If u like forecasts of 400 to 600 Bcf Spring troughs, there have been lots of those forecasts out there in the past and present.

As far as SA is concerned, most "pundits" at TOD and elsewhere do not understand two things. SA's business plan and their vocabulary.

Firstly, for political reasons, they want to be a swing producer.  Bodes well for usa and european comradship and all the perks that go with it (arms deals and alliances).  They have a target of 2.5-mbd spare capacity to effect this practice.  

Second, when they say "12-mbd", it means max sustained capacity (MSC) ... not production.  Their present MSC is 11.2-mbd which provides for a 8.6-mbd sustained flow rate.  Again, the idiots that ask where is the "10" or "11" or "12" or "15?" are totally in left field and dismissed by anyone in the industry or MSM.  The plus 8.6-mbd rates are only meant to be temporary in very extreme situations.  In the big picture, we have had none in the last five years except during the 21-day Iraq2 episode.  And that was so miscalulated, that within weeks we had $26 oil.  Only the navel gazers think there are untold crisis in every headline.  In reality the world is unfolding as it should.  And we won't see sustained SA 10-mbd supply 'til 2010.

The timing of the NA ng crisis cannot be predicted, but it is coming soon, imo certainly before 2010.  Not even warm winters will stop it.. we will see 6-8% production declines every year for several years.  LNG will be much too little and too late.  When it does happen it will pull up world oil prices. Note that rigs drilling gor ng are declining, esp in our gulf.

I see short hydrocarbons of all types, short U too.

Persian gulf is going down. Stans, nigeria, angola will help but not enough.  Russia flat at best.  Gloom, doom.  Prius coming to a garage near you, soon. Be the first on your block.

I'm not sure where u are getting your numbers. The latest EIA estimate has usa Production at 18.66-tcf by year end-2006 compared to 18.24-tcf for 2005. And slated producton is 18.53-tcf for 2007. Your decline numbers are nonsense. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/8atab.html Please someone call CNN ... another tod scoop! Last week, EIA released this graph. LNG importa are on top of what is shown. And tod's credibility goes down another notch...
Mr. Hutter, are you trolling for hits on your site that provide you with a remittance?
  If the Wall Street Journal expects $70, I'd put a $100 bet on oil reaching $100 a barrel in 2007.
Bob Ebersole
>  If the Wall Street Journal expects $70, I'd put a $100 bet on oil reaching $100 a barrel in 2007.

At a certain point, consumers get priced out of the market. I don't think a sustained $100 per barrel is achivable. At Best I think it could temporary hold in the $90-$95 dollar range before dropping back to the $80-$85. I can't see consumers able to absorb $4+ Gallon fuel prices. Back in the 1980's during the tanker wars, the price of oil maxed out in the low $40's ($80's today adjusted for inflation).

I didn't say sustained, just that oil will reach $100/bbl in the calender year 2007. Any takers?
Dante at PO.com thinks $100 might be only the beginning.  He said:

I have come to the conclusion that the world can adjust to slowly rising energy prices (albeit not so well in poorer countries), and that the problem of the oil shocks of the 70s and 80s were just that - they came as a shock reduction in available supply.

The sudden reduction in available supply is more important than relative price levels in causing recessions and feedback drops in demand. So far, at least for first world countries, India, China, and Far East tigers, oil supplies have yet to be diminished at all. Granted some of that supply is a barely noticed ongoing drop in world inventories, although the IEA did state recently that world inventories would drop 200 million barrels from October to March. The obsession with gross oil production numbers, and US crude stockpiles, distracts from the fact that total world inventories will end up lower in 2006 than at the end of 2005.

Since higher prices barely if at all reduces demand in the countries mentioned above, and since higher prices creates wealth to stimulate demand within oil exporting countries, eventually the price of oil can go much, much higher than most think possible. $100 oil is only the first stop.

"Seahorse" also points out that this is not really news.  Remember this article from last year?

Sadad al Husseini sees peak in 2015

It sounds to me like we have a quickly developing supply/demand imbalance, with demand temporarily being met by drawing down crude and product inventories worldwide.
Did you see the article about Indonesia I posted up top?

"National production will continue decreasing by 1.2 percent per year while [domestic] oil demand is rising by 1.5 percent per year," he said in Bandung yesterday.

Trijana said that in 2007, it is estimated that daily production will be 995,000 barrels, in 2008, 982,000 barrels and in 2009 only 971,000 barrels.

As for daily consumption, in 2007 this will be 1.365 million barrels, in 2008 1.443 million barrels and in 2009 1.505 million barrels.

You know though...something doesn't jive.  All these national oil reserves declining all at once (Mexico, Indonesia, Venezuela, KSA?, Russia?, etc.)

What are the odds here?  Is there any chance this is all just blustering or these countries preparing to hold back their oil for their own country or for higher prices?  I keep thinking these announcements of decreasing production sounds like a cover story for "hording" in a sense.

Lack of rigs and men to operate them? In Russia's case, politics and inaccessibility?  What many posters seem to ignore is that the peak doesn't necessarily signify geologic peak, but may be due initally to equipment and manpower shortages.
Yep...right...just Peak Production.  And really, that's what counts at any point in time.  This is a fluid situation that can oscillate above and below demand until the geologic peak strikes.  

So, RR's Peak Lite is more of a production peak that might bottleneck along the way, but then recovers somewhat at some later time.  Ewwww...that bumpy plateau is making me car sick...HA!

When you say "geologic peak" I wonder under what perfect circumstances of "Above ground" factors would it occur?  And what are the probabilities of those perfect "above ground factors" occuring?
I won't bet against it. If it does not hit it in 2007, it will in 2008. And we will all live. But some will buy a smaller car than they anticipated.
Given inflation in general, and linked with the fall of the dollar, I would think simply reaching $100 barrel is a given.  Gas at $3 gal, as so many have shown, is cheap. We will test 4-5 dollar gas, and I wonder if that will have much real effect  on US consumption.  
I thought the $3.50 test went rather well for oil producers. We saw an outcry, a slight adjustment of demand and an almost immediate return to SUV buying as a lifestyle. At this point the term "bondage" comes to mind with the US consumer playing the submissive role. Maybe the outcry was really more one of sexual pleasure (for being nasty?) than one of real pain?
That is nasty.  But I agree, this last summer's test didn't evidence conservation.  The debate is what price will-$5, $6? I'm sure many would love that crystal ball.
Guys/Gals...just remember...we didn't test the $3.00 to $3.50 range for very long.  I think if it had stayed there for awhile (6 months) it would have been a different story on conservation.
Good point, nobody's sure, but it did stay awhile, over the peak demand period too.  Was this fall's resurgence of SUV purchases a reaction to declining gas, seller price cuts, or just it doesn't matter.  

As a personal aside, locally we consisently have gas prices 30 to 50 cents above national, esp diesel, which averages 30 cents above our gas.  And I detect no change of habits here.  Sharp cries of dismay, but that's it, and not long lived.  An attitude of gotta have it, I'll cut out something else.  

That pickup in SUV sales (also in pickups?) was probably due to those that think gas is going to head down and there is nothing to worry about plus the added incentives of the manufacturers (0% interest for the first year, employee discounts now open to the public..yada, yada, yada).
The $3.50 test?  That's not far from the price today where I live.  (1 Cdn$/L -> 3.78 Cdn$/USgallon -> 3.27 US$/USgallon)  In the summer it was over $1.20/L (3.92 US$/USgallon).  Avgas (100LL) is currently $1.55/L (5.07 US$/USgallon).

I'm sure Europeans can quote much higher prices, but Canada has experienced the same SUV craze as the U.S. and I don't think it's going away.  It is my feeling that most people will simply absorb fuel price increases, as it is a small fraction of their fixed costs of vehicle ownership.

Ask yourself this: do you see people desperate to unload large vehicles?  Are automakers moving away from building heavy vehicles?  (Hint: NO!)

Well darn, I was hoping to find a cornucopian sucker with a little gamblin' money. The bet offer is open until the first of the year, sports!!!
Not me. But if you find that sucker, tell him I am taking bets, too.
There's plenty, and a quick foray into the stock markets will get you your bet.  The price of the majors seem to mirror the cost of a barrel.  Majors around 70, so your bet should come back at 1:1.3.
Well I will take you up on the bet not that I expect to win but being that I am close enough to collect, and it won't be a $100 it will be a meal at the restaurant of your choice and time. To be collected after Jan 1 2008 or when oil passes $100. Of course you name the restaurant before I accept. I believe the conversation should be interesting. I will be on the road and out of touch beginning at 8 Tues morning until Wednesday afternoon.
I'm willing to take you up on that bet, Bob. Even odds against hitting $100 in 2007 sounds pretty good to me.

I probably shouldn't tell you this, but if you had a futures trading account you could buy $100 December 07 options for 53 cents a barrel (with a minimum 1000 barrel contract that is $530 plus commisions). Then if oil hits say $105 your option will be worth at least $5 per barrel and you will make ten times your money. If it hit $110 you would make 20 times your money. In fact option prices imply the probability for the $100 option is only about 4%. So I am really stealing from you in accepting a bet offering even odds. I should have to offer about 20 to 1.

Anyway, I'm serious about the bet, if you are. My suggestion is that we'd both pay up in advance and let some trusted forum member hold our $200 until the end of the year or until prices break $100. The main issue is finding someone who is very likely to be around in a year - these forums have a highly volatile membership.

I'm willing to take you up on that bet, Bob. Even odds against hitting $100 in 2007 sounds pretty good to me.

Been thinking about this myself. In fact, I am willing to put up $1,000 that oil won't hit $100 in 2007. Consider it confidence that I am correct about the reasons the Saudis dropped their exports. If I am wrong, then oil will probably hit $100 in 2007.

If we can find an agreeable arrangement, I will bet $100 per person for up to 10 people, or any combination up to $1,000. If there is enough interest, I may bump it up to $2,000. My suggestion would be that the money goes into a Paypal account from the beginning. The account could be administered by one or more of the editors here. TOD could keep the interest for administering the account.

Any interest?

I am going for over nominal USD 120/barrel before 20 January 2009.

Of note oil is greatly oversold at present and has been in a long irregular bull market correction/consolidation arguably for the last two plus years.  Oil hit USD 55 in August 2004.  Considering that the CPI alone, if calculated in the pre-Clinton manner, has been running circa 6% for the last two years.


The oil price has been volatile but basically flat in real terms for the last 28 months.  This is indicative of a pause in a bull market.  Consider gold 1974 - 1976 as a classic example.  Gold spiked to USD 200 after the first  oil shock then corrected to USD 120.  The consensus in the investment community in 1976 was that gold was a dead asset, a popped bubble.  I was strongly advised NOT to but gold at USD 120 back then.  Well we know what happened after that, gold climbed over USD 800 in 1980 and even after the speculative blowoff, spent most of the next decade above USD 400.

Someone who bought and held oil since August 2004 is barely breaking even.  Almost ANY other commodity has done better, as have equities.  If PO is basically here (which I believe), the next move upward will be explosive.  The fact that almost no one believes this at present is a classic sign of an important market bottom.

USA contract/acquisition price will hit $50 before $100.
I don't know whether there is really anyone stupid enough to believe the best place to look for a carefully hidden truth is in an internal Labour Party document, but if there is they probably deserve what they get.
Hoisted by their own petard:

In 1974 , Whitehall played down the likely size of the UKCS reserves in advance of the Scottish Referendum to avoid a Nationalist swing.

Now, the Labour party are saying reserves are dwindling to avoid another Nationalist Swing.

But an internal Labour memo suggest another 30 years...

This plot is almost Shakespearian: The Nats swing for indepedence on the basis of a spurious internal memo, when , in fact UKCS reserves are actually depleting.

Who is kidding who?

I have a legal / legislative question for those who might know the answer.

What is the highest level of government that can enact sweeping zoning law changes? Federal, State, County, Municipality?

I really think that the easiest and most low cost solution to many of our problems is to eliminate single use zoning for residential or commercial - all should be mixed except perhaps polluting industrial. I also think density increases would help a lot so getting rid of limits to density to a certain limit might help.

Can the the Federal government pass a law like this? (Leave aside whether it is politically popular for the moment)

My understanding is that this type of zoning is local (my father has been in the development business for about 25 years). There are some state and federal regulations regarding things like wildlife and environmental issues, but it doesn't seem like that is what you are going for.

Local governments use the zoning restrictions (actually approvals to change zoning restrictions) as a gatekeeper against "bad" development. If the project makes sense the zoning will likely get changed because county/city govt can see the benefits and usually ignore the few but vocal critics of almost any type of development.

If a "sweeping" change was somehow enacted for a large number of places, I would bet that you would see lots of projects go forward that few people would like.

  Zoning laws are a restriction on ownership, and the Supreme Court has interepretation of the laws. An example is the recent ruling that Governments can condemn property for economic development which garnered so many howls across the US. Generally States have the right to determine property ownership. That's why this ruling was overturned by so many state legislature. But, bribery on a local basis works best. Thats why BP paid off our Port Authority and City Council in Galveston trying to get a LNG port on Pelican Island, about 3 miles from downtown Galveston and UTMB. It was stopped by massivelocal opposition and reluctance of the various licensing authorities because of their horrible safety record in Galveston County.
I think that if PO requires the development of a new kind of public infrastructure for moving people and goods around then the condemnation of property may go exponential. And that type of condemnation would have no problem in the Supreme Court.
 in  Texas we already have Common Carrier aws which alow private entities to condemn property. An example is gas and oil pipelines, which can use condemnation if the products come from more than one lease or are sold to a purchaser with more than one customer. If a landowner refuses to sell a right-of-way, then it goes to court in the District Court containing the property. The judge then appoints commissioners to determine fair market value, and the landowner receives that price. I don't know about other states, but I beleive the procedures are fairly simular nationwide. I'm a Petroleum Landman in Texas, so this is an educated opinion.  
Zoning power is granted to counties and municipalities by the states. Different states require different formats, procedures, and content for the zoning carried out by jurisdictions.

There have been a variety of proposals for the federal government to get involved in local land use ever since Herbert Hoover. The 10th Amendment reserves control of land use to the states, but various proposals have been floated for model codes to be backed with federal grants as an incentive to adopt. Those proposals have generally gone nowhere.

However, the federal government has a large impact on local land use through its investments and siting decisions for transportation infrastructure, public works and civic structures.

I agree that a finer distribution and mix of uses would help reduce energy use. After all, the closer your home is to your job, daily shopping and services, friends and entertainment, the less you have to travel for all of that.

But just allowing more mixed use won't automatically create it. That's because of the roadway networks. The networks are set up to channel and concentrate traffic into just a few routes -- the arterials and freeways. And that's where the businesses want to locate, right at the freeway cloverleaf. If the businesses are going to be more distributed, then the traffic has to be more distributed too. That requires roadway networks with greater connectivity -- something more like a grid and less like a collection of isolated subdivision pods and cul-de-sacs.

Well, the Feds enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has bypassed local codes to have a profound impact on construction, so I suppose they could do the same thing to zoning. My sense is that zoning is really in the hands of the local burghers that own the land.
Interesting ...

A third possibility is to simply ignore the issue. Realistically, most controversies don't have much practical impact on individuals. Much of our interest in them is socially motivated, because of the excitement they generate in the community, and the extensive efforts that are devoted to debating and discussing them. Adopting a position of "intentional ignorance" will often be the most rational course on matters of controversy.

From Overcoming Bias' Finding the Truth in Controversies

LOL, I've been accused here of willful ignorance but perhaps it is simply intentional ;-)

Interesting quote. I wonder if we could get the author, that "Hal Finney" guy, to post here some time...
Has the world gone totally mad already?

http://investing.reuters.co.uk/news/articleinvesting.aspx?type=oilRpt&storyID=2006-12-17T180921Z _01_N15374116_RTRIDST_0_COAL-FUEL-BUSINESS-FEATURE.XML

"America must reduce its dependence on foreign oil via environmentally sound and proven coal-to-liquid technologies,"

In contrast, CTL transportation fuels are substantially cleaner-burning than conventional fuels.

This article made my day. I'm off to look for a bridge to jump from.

Come visit me in Pittsburgh. We've got bridges all over the place.  

You don't have to jump, just enjoy the view as you contemplate the environmental friendliness of Coal-To-Liquids.

It may be cleaner burning, but how many mountains need to be removed for this 'benign' environmentally friendly power source to be realized :P
In West Virginia, I think the answer will eventually be:

All of them

I found this description of Saudi oil field planning to be interesting. It runs counter to Matt Simmon's predictions, for sure. I don't have the expertise to critically analyze it, since I'm in photovoltaics, not the oil industry. I would be interested in hearing some more expert opinion. If this particular item has already been discussed and I simply missed it, perhaps someone can point to the comments.  


Saudi Oil Field Depletion Rates
* The Kingdom's average state of reserve depletion for all its fields is
approximately 29%.
* The oldest field, Abqaiq, is 74% depleted, and the world's largest
field, Ghawar, has produced just under 50% of its reserves. By
contrast, Shaybah, one of the Kingdom's youngest fields, has 95%
of its proven reserves remaining.
* Without "maintain potential" drilling to make up for production,
Saudi oil fields would have a natural decline rate of a hypothetical
8%. As Saudi Aramco has an extensive drilling program with a
budget running in the billions of dollars, this decline is mitigated to
a number close to 2%.
* These depletion rates are well below industry averages, due
primarily to enhanced recovery technologies and successful
"maintain potential" drilling operations.

I wonder if the average state of reserve depletion is weighted according to the reserve capacity of each field.  Here is an admission that Abqaiq is 74% depleted and Ghawar just under 50% depleted.  And I wonder if the current 2% decline of mature fields can continue to be mitigated by infield drilling.

It doesn't matter if only 51% their P1 reserves have been developed.

Your link is worth looking at. It says at the end of the PDF that Nawaf Obaid, the author of the presentation, is Private Security and Energy Advisor to HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal, the (now former) Saudi Ambassador to the US.

Hello TODers,

I was stoked on coffee last night and thinking about our postPeak future in regards to a certain manual labor-saving tool [see my postings at the bottom of yesterday's Drumbeat].

I was reading the news this morning about the power outages and all the downed trees in the Northwest.  If in the future: we don't have gas-powered chainsaws or excess electricity for electric chainsaws--it won't be much fun for our arms and backs hand-sawing all this lumber.

Has anyone invented a portable, lightweight pedal or stepping mechanism that uses our legs to power a chainsaw?  Our legs are much stronger than our arms, and a cutting chain is much like a bicycle chain.

I am picturing a person pedaling on a barstool contraption and holding a cutting bar with his hands--seems like it would be alot easier than bucking a handsaw.  Or else a person marching-in-place with this up-and-down motion powering a jigsaw motion.  Is this just more wild & crazy ideas of mine, or is there an inventor out there that can make this work for the postPeak future?

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

I think a two-man whipsaw might already use the legs (and the rest of the body).  Funny how times change.  Time on a misery whip is now a sporting event.
Hello Odograph,

Thxs for responding.  Yikes! I would hate to think of hours of work and pain to saw off that tree trunk!

My other idea for sawing fallen trees would be some kind of adjustable metal bicycle that would clamp onto the tree, then the person pedals a geared circular saw thru the wood.  I sure wish I knew how to cad/cam so it would be easier for everyone to picture my ideas.

Another idea is a pedal powered drill--heck of alot easier than the old style handcrank corkscrew drills.

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


Do you have any carpentry experience, and have you ever felled a tree?


I have done both, and these sound like great ideas to me.

Bob Fiske

My other idea for sawing fallen trees would be some kind of adjustable metal bicycle that would clamp onto the tree, then the person pedals a geared circular saw thru the wood.  I sure wish I knew how to cad/cam so it would be easier for everyone to picture my ideas.

You really don't want to bother.   Humans are 100-200 watt engines.   You would be farther ahead to get AC powered (or 24 VDC) tools, an inverter, some solat panels and some batteries.

One 150 watt solar panel == 1 humans labor when the sun shines on the panel   So for $600 these days you have the energy equivalent of a slave laborer for 20 years, with the work of the slave slowly dopping off for 20 years, and then may keep working for many more years as less capacity.

Far cheaper than feeding a slave.

Um, but if you're felling a tree, there's usually a good bit of shade...
That is where 'the battery' comes in.

A PV panel in a 'mobile' solution as tree-removal VS a battery.

Either way, the power from a discharging battery is going to be less work than trying to pedal-saw your way thru a tree.   You'll get enough work moving the wood about.

Battery plus pedals is another approach:


Lugging around the solar panels and the batteries, that's another factor determining the practicality. Saws can be reasonably light. There is probably some cross-over, where cutting trees close to home is best with solar-charged electric chain saw, but deep in the woods it makes better sense to use a saw.


2 car batteries, an electric saw and an inverter should keep you in the woods all day making the world unsafe for plant life.   Thus far all my electic sawing has been done off the grid and de-limbing a tree.  Or 3.

And when you get old, as long as you have trees to harvest, you should still be able to work your wood.  Ya might have to replace some batteries along the way.

Two car batteries - that's a lot of weight! How do you move these around in the woods?
Like your pants, one at a time if you have to move the wheeled  battery set beyond the power cord range.  What is eaiser, moving a bike to the wood or a 100/200 foot extension cord?  I'd set the batteries on a cart and tow 'em behind a gorilla.   (if I had a gorilla and land to wack the wood on.)

And a 12 VDC winch is a fine way to get the wood up the hill, get that snag down, or whatever...so long as you have another tree or object to hook the winch to.

One view:   Tools are a fine way to leverage human labor to make your life filled with  less physical labor and one can hope to spend more time in contemplation of life.

Honestly, I'd rather take the "bike"saw than the battery and electric saw.  I was thinking of a bike contraption that you ride out to the tree.  So you are transporting your fuel cell, then using it to cut the tree, then biking back.  I rigged up my Hefte Hauler wagon to the back of my MTB to haul loads like logs.  If you did that with a trike, you'd have a stable platform to work on a tree with.  Then you could take pieces out on the trailer.
The 12VDC -> bike electric saw idea has been done, the gent was claming that he could only do 12 inch or less limbs.

Think of these factors:

Wood on slopes will be hard to cut with bike-thing
What heppens if the wood shifts while cutting?

Plenty of bike powered things you can build
Grain grinders
Generator  (perm magnet is what I've done using a 100 vDC motor)
Hammer Mill
Leaf shredders  (Dry leaves)
Scroll saw (but hard to keep you and the piece stable when sawing)
Metal cutter
power that old disk to sharpen blades
Air compressor  
Rotating sifter (for dirt, whatever)
Retrofit a staber washing machine
Powering a boat-thing

The varing land conditions and various conditions of wood (standing timber, snagged timber, all that odd shaped timber that will be hard to move/mount a bike-thing to or would shift when cut) is why I'd go for the moble and lightweight saw powered by batteries.   Bike powering wood back to the wood pile will be a big enought workout.   Back at the wood pile you could always set up a table-saw like thing with a flywheel to trim down limbs and smaller hunks.  

Actually, I was thinking of something like this:

The arms, cutting chain, etc. would fold up vertically when transported. I definitely wouldn't convert to electricity as an intermediate step.

Give it a shot, but odds are you'll end up dissapointed VS adding/designing your PV/wind/hydro/whatever to have the ability to move some of that power into the woods with an electric saw.

600 watts peak kinda power (I did 600 watts pedaling once and could taste blood/was 'sick' for 6 months.  Tought me the value of not doing that again, let me tall ya.) is going to be hard to keep going to do any kind of cuts.  And you are going to have to play with cutting methods and the wood introducing moments on your cutting rig VS a 2kW saw you can move the saw about with ease.

Grinding rocks or drywall up for adding to the soil was one gent's plan for his bike grider - you might find that is a better use for an execersize bike.   Or, just as a power input into your battery bank/grid intertie.

I can't imagine this would need any more than 100 watts.  I'm just cutting a tree, not picking it up in the air.  If I can do this with about 50 watts of effort with a crosscut saw, why would I need 600 watts to do it with a chain saw?

I do agree about moving around the tree.  This would be an unwieldy rig.  I'll just stick with my handsaws, but I thought it might be interesting to flesh out Bob's idea.  I would also need to give more thought to the idler wheel/drive wheel setup.  They should be the same wheel (if for no other reason than all wheels have to be on the non-toothed side of the chain.)  Maybe a worm gear?  That might deal with the change of cutting plane as well.  

150 watts you're talking a 200 hundred pound athlete in prime condition. Try pedaling an 80-watt generator for 8 hours and see if your heart is still beating.
Try pedaling an 80-watt generator for 8 hours and see if your heart is still beating.

Considering when I was on my bike based grinder for 9 months I had a resting heart rate of 58 (was at 80 or so when I started) you might be underestimating what people's hearts can take.   (At the end I had trouble getting the blue jeans over my calves)

In whatever bike thing you make, add a flywheel.  You leg joints will thank you.

I wouldn't want to pedal a generator. No fun. But 80 watts. 8 hours, not a big problem. That's just over 0.1 horse. Gets you down the road at about 12mph. 150 watts willl move you at about 20mph on a racing bike. On an ergometer, where lack of cooling and lack of interest makes it difficult to develop max power Eddy Merckx did 752 watts for one hour.
752W for an hour??? I am impressed. Professional cyclists are animals.
Yah, Eddy asked how many watts to make one horsepower and then pegged the meter at that.
Consumer power meters are now popular for geeky amateur bike riders. Little strain gauges in the cranks or in the rear hub plus some software, I won't spend for that stuff but ride next to ordinary guys in their 40's & 50's pumping 150 to 200 watts  average for a 3 hour ride.
Actually, it looks a lot worse than it is.  We have a two-person crosscut saw and it's not bad to use.  We took down a 12" diameter tree last week and it only took a few minutes.  They don't make many trees the size of the one in the picture anymore.

I think a chainsaw driven by bike would work better.  Imagine your bike with a horizontal chainsaw chain between two gears.  One of the gears is driven by the person on the bike.  The hard part is choosing a rate and method of forward motion for the contraption.

I should add that once you have the tree down, the "bike contraption" would be even easier, since you would then want the cutting chain vertical, in the same plane as the bike's gearing.  Cutting down the tree to begin with is harder because you need bevel gears or something to change the plane of rotation.

And yes, two-person crosscut saws usually have a long enough stroke that it's a full-body motion.  Your leg power is largely wasted fighting gravity, though.

I think what Oilrig medic was getting at was that when you fell a tree, you need to be really mobile, so that you can beat a hasty retreat when the tree starts to topple.  The problem with the mechanism that you are proposing is that it is likely to end up under the tree at some point (hopefully without you in it).

I know chain saws are dirty, noisy, smelly, and require a certain level of technology to build and maintain.  But you get an awful lot of work out of them for very little fuel burned.

You'd usually only end up under the tree if you did a really poor job of choosing your face cut side.  The first thing to do when cutting a tree is evaluate where it's most likely to fall naturally.  Then you put your face cut on that side, or close to it, and back cut toward your face cut.  If you do a decent job, the tree falls exactly or almost exactly where you wanted it.

I would say that chain saws are expensive, dangerous, very polluting (nasty little two-strokes), create greenhouse gases, are expensive to use, heavy, dirty, noisy, smelly, and require a good deal of technology to create and maintain.  A crosscut saw is cheap, safe, pollution free, GHG free, easy to use, pretty light, clean, quiet, requires very little technology to make or use, and is good moderate exercise to use.  You get an awful lot of work out of them for a little bit of needed exercise.

Not refering to you Tarzan, but it's funny how any human powered solution to any problem is impractical, no matter how many people used it in the past or how many use it today.  It seems like fossil-fuel using machines are the only viable solution to every problem.

It seems like fossil-fuel using machines are the only viable solution to every problem.

Nope, nope.  Not at all.  I never get out the tractor for a job that I can do with the wheelbarrow.  I was merely suggesting that when you look at the cost/benefit ratio, the chain-saw rates pretty high on the scale of useful technologies.  Far above, say, sports cars, electric toothbrushes or leaf-blowers.

Amen. Its not about ditching technology, its about ditching wasteful technology :)
Power still out in NW OR (day 4 of at least 5 or 6)
SAWS - The old timers used 2 man crosscut saws.  Differing types felling, bucking.  Relatively light. My guess is that they would be more practical in the varried terrain of the NW woods as opposed to a bicycle type affair.  
The US gov put out a manual on them a long time ago.  Can be bought at auctions.  Saw sharpening tools are a little harder to some by; jointer, raker gauge, saw set(avalable), spyder gauge, plus the ability to know how to use them.
Lots of muscle power...very healthy work.
Manuals are still available:
about 1/2 way down the list, pdf and html versions.

Silent observer - thanks to RR, WT, HO, SS et al for the great info . . .


We used the crosscut saw on the farm as kids.  Goes through wood like a knife through soft butter when properly sharpened. My sister keeps a photo of my dad and uncle bucking logs in the interior mountains of BC with the same saw in the 1930's.  When dementia took hold of my uncle in his eighties, he pulled the sink off a hospital wall and then escaped the 'facility' by pulling a fence post from the ground.  Finally died from his smoking habit, muscles mostly intact. My dad was active to 95 and died at 97.

I wonder how well the chainsaw crowd are doing in comparison.

As a person who used to be on a "misery whip" team back in the day, I'm here to tell you that a properly sharpened and set two-man crosscut can fly through a tree/log. It just takes two people who have the rhythm, more than brute strength. The saw does the work if you let it. No noise, no toxic fumes...

I am also a person who cuts his own firewood with a chainsaw. I'm in the market currently for a good medium-sized crosscut and a setter. It's all about sharpening/setting. And rhythm.

- sgage

Well, I have a couple of misery whips and a bow saw set aside just in case.  But I also have three small electric chainsaws (2-16", 1-6") I can used if there isn't any gas for my big ones.  What I'd do, however, is to run the generator on wood gas so I could cut where an extension cord from my PV system wouldn't reach.

But remember, even electric chainsaws require bar oil so stock up which, BTW, I just did today.  I'm covered for years now.

Todd; a Realist

  You know of any bigger electrics on the market?  Electric motors are very powerful, and in a chainsaw, pretty lightweight. I've only used the little ones, though..

Bob Fiske

I bought our two crosscut saws and tools on eBay.  Amazing what you can get on eBay.  I hope and expect we'll get to keep the internet for a good long time.
I live in Seattle this storm definitely hit the area hard. I have also helped out with trail maintaince in the area through Washington Trails Association, they don't use any chain saws in clearing just those old long saws. Probably something like that would work okay. Things need to be simple and maintainable.

What I'm wondering about is whether this storm is just a rare occurance or something that will happen more due to global warming. Its interesting to hear about gas prices in some really affected areas. Cops had to be sent to some in Bellevue, WA so I heard. Many supermarkets are in still affected areas are empty. Glad this was just a storm and not an earthquake.

Hello Chrisrob1111,

From TODer Yosemite Sam in an earlier thread:
I just returned from Seattle.  My son and daughter-in-law were telling me about some shortages in the Seattle area, which they credited to the power outages.  It only took a day for outbreaks of violence in the lines waiting for gas.
Another source of violence were the people who would go to restaurants to warm up AND to charge a cell phone at a nearby electrical plug.  There were fights over who got to be near a plug.

A power outage is very different from an energy crisis. It comes and goes in the blink of an eye on any relevan timescale. In contrast the PO energy crisis has been announced 50 years ago. It is being tackled by most countries in the world for the last 30, the US being the only exception.

As far as solutions are concerned: a small solar panel makes a really nice cell phone charger... a slightly larger one can operate the fridge and with an investment of $20,000, one can operate a reasonable size car on electricity from PV alone...

So what is the big deal?

I guess when the temperatures are below freezing and your cold and haven't had power for a couple days it becomes a slightly larger problem.

Its seems people aren't thinking longterm, only about day to day things, typical ignorance is bliss.

A couple months ago I was thinking of purchasing a roll out solar panel and a battery that AC/DC devices could hook too. It would have been a nice device to recharge my cellphone and batteries.


Like I said... a tree falling on a power line and cutting off the electricity is different from PO which has been in the news for 50 years. And it is practically different from rising fuel prices which can always be avoided by replacing ones car.  

That people in the US aren't thinking long term is an amazing phenomenon. To a European it seems almost like they are teaching in schools how to forget about anything further away than next week around here.

And as far as heating is concerned... zero energy homes have been demonstrated in Germany some 15-20 years ago. The research might not have lead to everyone building a true zero-energy home, but sure as hell the last time I saw a German builder working on his new home (this fall!), he was knee deep in glass wool. And he was bragging how little gas he would need to heat his home and how great the triple insulated windows he bought were. It is just a totally different mindset over there in Europe. People do not mind spending a few ten thousand dollars upfront to minimize their annual heating bill. And if they can afford it, they also put the solar panels on top. Of course, Germany is paying 45 Eurocents for every kWh that goes back into the grid...

investment of $20,000, one can operate a reasonable size car on electricity from PV alone...
So what is the big deal?

A large segment of the population

Lacks the space to put up solar panels  (I've had to mount panels perpeduclar to the ground on the side of the building due to lack of space)
Lacks the cash to afford a $20,000 solar solution (VS the present pay as you go $3 a gallon gas solution)

So it is a 'big deal' for many people.

Agreed. But most of the population also lacks the space to set up a hydroelectric dam or a nuclear power station. That is where the state and federal government and the utilities come in and build these things for them. The same can happen easily with renewables. Just because we are talking solar and wind does not mean we are talking "small scale".

As far as solar is concerned there is plenty of industrial roof space. With proper government support and regulations most of it can be converted into solar collector area. States can regulate that ALL suitable new buildings require better insulation and solar heating and/or PV. It is only a matter of changing the building codes.

Let's see... $3/gallon in gas... that makes $1500 per year for an average car. Over the 15 years of that car that is $22,500... just as much as a solar power/electric car solution would have been. Now... the nice thing about solar power is that you don't have to install all of it at once. We can start with a roof here and a roof there and a parking lot here and a shopping mall there. We have 30-40 years time for the conversion (but next year it will be a year less!). And that brings investment costs down to approx. $500-$1000 a year. About the same as a new power plant would cost. The only difference is that people don't think much about their electricity bill and how much of it is used to pay off that utility loan for the new power plant. But just because it is not spelled out does not mean the power company does not have to invest in that hardware and does not collect the money from the user. Just like the cost of gas includes the cost of the drilling rigs.

Let's see... $3/gallon in gas... that makes $1500 per year for an average car. Over the 15 years of that car that is $22,500...

Thank you for proving how cash flow has no value.

Or how such visions of the future ignore the taxes.

Oh, cash flow analysis has great value. I can do a complete analysis for you with discount factor and all. But it won't change much about the realities of the case and is a big waste of time. You can dial in any discount factor and produce any result you like. I have seen people do that a lot.

Reality is much more simple than that. Oil is going to become more expensive, renewables are going to get cheaper and more plentiful. At some point the price curves will cross and that is when the real phase transition will occur. If oil is getting really expensive really soon, it will push all energy prices higher as more and more people will convert from hydrocarbons to renewables and thus increase demand over supply. This will make transition to renewables easier because the renewables industry will have a lot of money to build.

If renewables can grow fast enough, they will stabilize oil some time after the peak. And some time after that, oil will become unimportant for surface transportation and renewables might subsidize oil production for a while for aviation (unless someone invents a jet engine that runs on water).

You have to understand that I am a physicist. I am perfectly happy with first order analysis. And to first order the case is easy. I can't predict for you when things will be happening in detail and I don't have to... it does not matter to me. The markets are short term speculation, anyway and will respond instantanously to change. The long term behaviour is pretty much a function of slowly changing demand and supply. I am sure there are hundreds of economist writing papers about all of that.

As far as taxes are concerned... those are a thing of the past for me. I come from Germany where we had a 60% or higher gas tax for decades. It is not a big deal for the consumer. They cry for a day, they ask God for forgiveness of their sins and they ask him to smite the politicians who voted for the tax and the next day at the gas station they forget that gas was ever cheaper than $6/gallon. Ask any German. Or French. Or anyone over there...

But it won't change much about the realities of the case

Yes, cash flows matter when you can't (or won't) obtain a loan to fund the buying of the 'new going to save us all' technology.   All that 'new' stuff needs insurance (if you get a loan) so that adds to the expense.  

So how do the poor/lower class/"marginal business models" have thier reality changed too much in the case of having to replace their transportation modes?

As far as taxes are concerned... those are a thing of the past for me.

And your 15 year/$1500 ignores them also.

I haven't noticed that the US has much of a problem printing money when it needs it. Have you? We are wasting trillions of dollars on things that are unnecessary. Suddenly we can't spend them on something that is vital? Get real and get a life. This country is so stinking rich that it could afford total energy independence in a heartbeat. Your little tax concerns don't change any of that.

On the other hand... if you prefer to pay $150/barrel to KSA, Iran etc., no problem. Just do nothing and it will happen all by itself.


Ya tempers were flaring. Things are many days away from normal. It will takealot of work to get all those trees down and powerlines fixed. I heard over the news that the utility crews are feeling pretty maxed out due to this storm and the previous winter storm. More crews are coming in from Southern Cali and Kansas.

Talking to people at work it seems they won't have power for at least 3 more days. They are working on getting commercial places power first.

Also heard it's cold and more snow expected soon...that true?

You've taken our Midwest winter from us!!  Last Saturday was in the 70's here in Kansas City.  I'm sure we will get ours...

Sorry if this has been posted previously, but I had not noted it.  

A problem of wintertime blackouts:

SEATTLE - The death toll from the Northwest's worst windstorm in more than a decade climbed to 10 Monday, while nearly a quarter million homes and businesses remained without power in hard-hit western Washington.

At least 100 people have developed symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning blamed on the use of portable generators and charcoal grills used for light and heat during the blackout. Two of them were among Washington's eight deaths.

"We're dealing with a carbon-monoxide epidemic in Western Washington," said Dr. Neil B. Hampson of Virginia Mason Medical Center.


It only took a day for outbreaks of violence in the lines waiting for gas.

http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/portal/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1000&Item id=2
The fuel price protests in September 2000 revealed how everyday life could be affected by disruptions of fuel supplies.

During that cut-off of fuel, some grocery store shelves went empty and some riots happened over a lack of food.

All these ideas generally portray the fundamental lack of knowledge of those who propose them rather than constituting serious entry into the contest, except for the PO stand up comedy contest, maybe.  

The minimum amount of energy needed to cut a piece of wood solely depends on the piece of wood and the area and width of the cut. So even with a perfect saw mechanism, a large amount of energy would be needed to seperate the chemical bonds inside the wood to convert it from a solid to sawdust.

The total energy required to drive the saw mechanism is simply the energy to cut the woord divided by the efficiency of the saw divided by the efficiency of the engine driving the saw.

The human body as an engine has a peak efficiency of approx. 15%. The fuel required to operate a human body as a "power generator" is grown under enormous energy input. Plants have an efficiency of approx. 1% and conversion to steak and pork chop (the main foods of the American worker) has an efficiency of less then 10%. So in total the human body has an efficiency between its power source, the sun and the final mechanical output of 15%*1%*10%=0.015%. Even if we include beans, this is not higher than 0.15%. On average the human body therefor performs as a machine with at best 0.1% efficiency. A well built ICE has 20-30% efficiency. An electric motor 80-90%.

In other words: any idea to undo the industrial revolution and revert to human labor is doomed to fail simply for reasons of energy conservation and conversion efficiencies. It was exactly the enormous thermodynamic efficiency of ICEs that made many of the advances of modern life possible and allowed to human race to grow beyond the 1 billion mark. There is no way to go back from there. The only way is forward by replacing the ICE with electrical motors driven by electricity generated from sunlight. In other words: the future is PV. Or nuclear... but something in me doubts that enormously.

Personally, I think "two handed buck" will remain a sport, and only by that path a profession.
The highest power output the human body is capable of can be achieved with a rowing type of motion. It should be noted that the members of a well trained rowing team are short of passing out during the last seconds of a race. Their muscular capacity  is higher than their cardiovascular, thus leaving the brain oxygen starved.

Something about biomechanics tells me that a well trained team with a saw can achieve a similar state of exhaustion.


I don't think Bob is proposing that human power will replace petro power. Of course it won't. There are, however, (relatively recent) human powered inventions that do improve the ability to get things done in the absence of external energy sources, such as the wheelbarrow, the bicycle, etc. Attempts to improve efficiency, regardless of the power source, should be encouraged.
As I outlined in another post, humans are less energy efficient than machines. It is just very easy to fail to include ALL the energy sources necessary to "operate" a human. We are very finicky machines in comparison to a steam engine, an ICE or an electric motor. People in the 19th century who were experienced with the downsides of human power knew that and were immediately taken by the advantages of the steam engine.

It seems like we have forgotten much about this. I would invite everyone who does not believe me to do a simple test: pick a quiet street and push your car for a mile. After completing that exercize you will be magically cured from any thought that human labor could possibly replace ANY machines.

It is just very easy to fail to include ALL the energy sources necessary to "operate" a human.

And I think you're failing to include ALL the energy sources necessary to operate machines.

Quite the contrary. The price of a piece of machinery reflects the price of ALL the matter and energy and labor that went into it. So if your car costs $20,000 and you burn $1000 worth of gas in it for 15 years and another $1000 per year for the roads the car uses and another $1000 for maintenance, the max. amount of energy needed to operate the car would not have exceeded the amount of energy that can be had for $20,000 + 3*$15,000 = $65,000. I will leave it to you to evaluate how many humans it would have taken to push that car 225,000 miles over its lifetime at the speed of 60mph and how much it would have cost to feed those people... it is a truly interesting exercize.
The price is subsidized by cheap fossil fuels.
I knew you wouldn't do the calculation. Let me do it for you:

The car moves at 60mph for 225,000 miles, i.e. it runs for 3750 hours. Average engine output is 20kW. Average sustainable human power output is 100W (that is just shy of the 150W or so you could get with slave labor). So you need 20,000W/100W=200 people to replace the engine. In total that makes 3750*200=750,000 man-hours. If you divide $65,000 by 750,000 hours, you get a pay of 8.7cents/hour.

Sounds like fuel in the US is therefor subsidized by roughly $5/$0.087$=5700%.

You win. In dreamland... :-)

Price doesn't mean anything.  At least, not in the scenario Bob is envisioning.  If the oil is not available to run the car, does it change your calculations any?
No. It does not change my calculations at all. What will simply change is that the energy to run the car will come from renewables rather than fossil fuels.

But I see that you are offering really fabulously detailed arguments to counter my reasoning that human labor and human efficiency simply does not cut it.


But I see that you are offering really fabulously detailed arguments to counter my reasoning that human labor and human efficiency simply does not cut it.

For the simple reason that I do not believe that. You are wrestling with a straw man.

You obviously seem to believe there will be no disruption of the complex society necessary to keep the machines running and powered. Fine. Some doomers here would say that you are living in a fantasy land--you might have to make do with a bicycle and hand tools, inefficient as they are, since they are more efficient than the alternative of a machine with no power to run it. I won't try to convince you of that scenario, as I am not fully convinced myself (or am equally delusional).

  1. Can the needed energy come from renewables? It depends on how much you are talking about (not just a car, but everything else too).  Hint--renewable does not equal infinite power.

  2. If #1 is true, will the energy come from renewables? The answer depends on too many unknowns. We certainly should try, but we should also rethink the problem in case it doesn't.
It is not about what I believe bit about running the numbers. PO does not just hit and there is no oil left the next day. We are looking at e.g. a 4% annual reduction of our oil supply. That sounds like a lot but it isn't that bad. A Prius will save 40% over an SUV, easy... thus you have just bought yourself ten years. By sharing your commute with another person, driving slighlty slower and going to the mall a few times less you get another 10 years. That is 20 years, already. In that time technologically we can improve the consumption of our cars by another 20-30% without sacrificing much performance (just think what could be done if people were willing to sacrifice performance like the Europeans who drive cars with 1.0-1.3l engines and still live!).

So now we are looking at the 20 year horizon already... and on that scale we can build a lot of renewables. Of course we can't make infinite power... but if you look at the energy needs of a small electric commuter car, the most urgent "tool" for Mom and Dad, the energy it needs can be collected with PV on the top of the garage and the parking lot at the workplace.

I am not saying this will be cheap. Or even easy. But it won't kill us, either. It will change us, though and what I notice more than anything else is that many people are afraid of that change. I, on the other hand, am looking forward to it. Maybe that's because I hate walking home next to a congested road where cars produce tons of CO2 and even some CO... it makes breathing really hard.

A 4% reduction wouldn't be so bad, except that:

a) the population keeps on growing and won't magically stop growing because of PO.

b) the world is expecting (and planning on) more oil, not less.

20 years goes by fast. Half of the oil that has ever been produced has been burned in the last twenty. Rumpelstiltskin will sleep for at least 25 more.

... And it's 4% across the board.  So the SUV drivers will have to switch to Priuses, the 30mpgers will have to find something at 42mpg, the current carpoolers will have to squeeze another person in the car, the transit passengers will have to ... ride the bus more?, the people who bike and walk will have to ... well, maybe we'll just need more of them.  But what do we do with agriculture?  Produce less food?  Ooh, and the military will still want its share.
When I look at my parking lot, I see dozens of SUVs and only two Prius. The US has any number of ways to squeeze. It is Europe that is really going to suffer financially. Wait... they can reduce their gas taxes from close to 100%... so they, too, have ways to ease the pain.

In the end, it is the same for everyone... people will have to learn to use half as much energy. And since the US has the largest savings potential, it can profit most from the crunch.

The US also has the most renewables... it should actually be glad.

Cutting gas taxes will not change the price of gas.  For ease of math lets say I am selling 1 million gallons a day at 2$ a gallon.  1$ is taxes.  If I take that dollar tax away the people will buy more at a lower rate and the price of gas will go up with demand. same price but the oil companie gets more revenue.
People in Europe pay $6/gallon right now. That is pretty much all they can afford. Oil doubles, they would be paying more like $10/gallon. The governments can ease that to $7/gallon. That is still as much as people can afford, so they won't buy any more... only the tax revenue goes down. That is called a tax cut. I thought the US believes in tax cuts?


The reason the cost goes to $10 is because there is less available.  If you lower the price by cutting taxes you don't create more fuel.  The demand is still sufficent for $10 fuel.  Economics....I have seen you write about it.
What do we need more fuel for? To satisfy an imaginative need?  To cause more GW? The whole point is about reducing demand... not increasing it.
take a high school econ class....then you'll understand.  The higher the price the less quantity is demanded.  The less quantity available the higher price you can command.
a) World population is growing by 1.1% a year and mostly in poor countries. We can make up for that with renewables. Growth of energy use/world capita is far more severe than population growth.

b) Reality always trumps expectations. PO won't be any different.

20 years are a lot in technological terms. Remember the computer you bought in 1986? Apple had the Mac Plus and Intel had the first 386s... and it is three generations of cars.

If Rumpelstiltskin continues to buy SUVs for another two years, Rumpelstiltskin will get a pretty nasty wake-up call.

A 4% reduction wouldn't be so bad, except that:

a) the population keeps on growing and won't magically stop growing because of PO.

b) the world is expecting (and planning on) more oil, not less.

We have a prediction horizon beyond which we cannot reasonably foretell.

We don't know when peak oil will occur.  We don't know what depletion rate will immediately follow.  We don't know social response to that initial depletion rate.

It's a test.  If you think you know the answer, you just show that you don't understand the problem.

Well, I know I don't know the answer. Do I pass the test?
"We have a prediction horizon beyond which we cannot reasonably foretell."

You mean... you don't want to because if you did it right it would destroy your gloom and doom fantasies? I might agree with that.

"We don't know when peak oil will occur."

It does not matter. It is pretty obvious that consumers will not change their ways MUCH until it occurs. Which means that the clock starts running the moment that it occurs and not any moment earlier. That actually makes forecasting easier, not harder.

"We don't know what depletion rate will immediately follow."

That does not matter, either... you can run predictions easily on a one dimensional parameter range.

"It's a test.  If you think you know the answer, you just show that you don't understand the problem."

Life is not a test. Something that can be predicted 50 years in advance is not a test. Or, if you want it to be, it is at best a test for idiocy. I think we passed it... we are officially idiots for not taking action 30 years ago.  

I am actually a moderate, and don't have fantasies of gloom or doom.

I'll tell you what I ask the pessimists though:

  1. can you tell me the efficiency of solar cells 10 years from now?
  2. can you tell me fleet mileage of US cars 15 years from now?
  3. can you tell me the political state of the Middle East 20 years from now?

If you can't tell me those things, how can you pretend to skip over them, and describe a future that will be invariably based on them?

You don't need to know when peak oil will hit, or how hard (depletion rate)?

Don't talk to me about idiots when you tell me that won't matter.

Fascinating - so considering that the fossil fuel was originally 'gathered' with an efficiency of 1% (or to be generous, 2%) by living organisms over millions of years, the fact that it can be simply measured as an energy/economic unit, without taking into account the fact that when burned, it is gone (unless you have oh, 20 million years on your hands) means that your dreamland is one where an engine is worth the work of 200 people, regardless of how it is fueled from finite resources.

'The price of a piece of machinery reflects the price of ALL the matter and energy and labor that went into it' - but what it doesn't reflect, if fossil fuel powers it, is time.

Some of us find this ignorance about time to be part of what makes the American Dream so frightening. I was just talking to the town's forester this afternoon, actually - his plans cover the next 150 years or so. Still nothing in comparison to the amount of time your 'reality' needs to replace the fuel the motor burned.

I agree... the price of fossil fuels does not reflect their true cost. It would probably be higher than that of gold on a true EROEI basis... but that is not how people do it because we got hydrocarbons and coal as a gift. And like all little children, we are free to abuse and destroy that present at will. And like all little children we (at least many of us), will start crying when its gone.

As far as engine efficiency is concerned, that EROEI does not matter, though, because I can run that same engine on renwables at roughly the same cost (within a factor of two, maybe). And then we are basically back to the original fact that PV+electric motor is really cheap compared to anything that can be done with human labor or even animals.

What bothers me is how many people are talking about heating with wood. One large tree is required to convert the CO2 of one human back to oxygen. With every tree we cut we destroy a part of our atmosphere for us, our children, our grandchildren and their children. With every tree we burn we release the CO2 that that tree was sequestering for the past century. That is not green... but a crime.


For every tree that lays decaying on the forrest floor gives up all of the CO2 it has ever absorbed!

Trees only sequester CO2 while they are alive, but give it ALL back when they decay!


Did you notice that in some places of the world the ground is covered with many yards of dead plant materials? Did you ever think off where the coal deposits came from?


I thought I mentioned that we need to work out schemes to sequester carbon. That means... we have to essentially backfill some of our coal mines.

In other words... you are wrong. Plants do not return all of the carbon into the atmosphere. If they did... Earth would still have much of its original atmosphere.

In the presence of oxygen near the surface of the soil cellulose decays.  Coal is formed in peat bogs where plant matter is covered by rapid growth detritus and or other sediment.  This is a relatively rare situation in most forests today.


So you have to make sure it dissapears from the surface...

Hey! Isn't that how oil and coal were made in geological times? And while that was a rare event, nothing keeps us from taking the old plant material out of the forrest (we do that already to avoid fires) and to extract water and hydrogen from it, then deposit the remaining charcoal underground.

I believe that is called carbon sequestration. It might just work... all we need to do is to get a couple hundred Gtons of that stuff back where it belongs... underground.


In my case, those would be dead trees, killed by the Emerald Ash borer.  Last I checked, dead trees didn't do much in the way of removing CO2, unless they're buried.  And yes, I've planted over 100 trees for every one we've cut, except for invasives.  And lots of prairie grasses; can't forget those, they supposedly are better for climate change than trees except in the tropics.

Is that still a crime?  

Well, heating with wood can make sense, if done within a broader context.

For example, current German residential building codes demand a high level of insulation, and there are people who have gone far beyond such standards, a concept which is generically called a 'Passivhaus' - that is, a house where minimal energy is required for heating. Unfortunately, the German measure for home heating is liters of oil per square meter, which is not really all that translatable - just like there was a green push for producing 3 liter autos - 3 liters fuel for 100 kilometers driving, which was achieved in a couple of production vehicles - there was also a green push for 3 liter houses - that is 3 liters of oil per square meter per year for heating, a figure which would make heating exclusively with wood during the cold, dark winter at least realistic without any impact on the forest's health.

Combining such buildings with long term forest management would mean that no fossil fuels need to be burnt for heating, which is a huge plus in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

German forests are explicitly planned to provide fuel for heating, among a number of other uses, but they are not considered CO2 sinks - where this idea came from remains a bit hard to figure out, but almost certainly it does not have a German origin. The important thing is to avoid burning more fossil fuels, as they add net CO2 to the atmosphere. A properly managed forest only indirectly 'reduces' CO2 emissions, as the use of wood means that no net CO2 is added.

The numbers from the forester were quite interesting - 4000 trees are planted per hectare, and after ca. 100 years, roughly 40-60 (depends on the type of tree) are still standing, to be harvested in the decades afterwards. The majority of the 3950 or so planted trees are burned for heating, though I am fairly certain at least some of the 60-80 year old trees are used as wood, and other trees are used as pulp for paper.

What was also interesting was his perspectives on which trees to plant. He started planting chestnuts in 1990, which tend to prefer fairly poor and dry soil, though the local soil is neither, as an experiment. The wood is high quality, and equal to beech and oak for heating, it seems. However, the nuts, which people gather every fall in this region, seemed to have played a minimal role in his decision at best, though since he is also involved in hunting, the fact that chestnuts are now being planted throughout the forest was likely to be considered positive in terms of increasing the local wildlife population.

He seems to be trying to balance long term changes with high quality wood for increased revenue for the town, which means in German terms he is an excellent forester. And unlike in the United States, there is absolutely no support for the idea that the forest should be cut down to deal with a short term challenge, whatever it may be.

Wood theft has increased, but at this point, there are no reports of someone going into the forest to cut down trees illegally - the wood that is stolen is already cut and stacked. Of course, one reason such wood is stolen is that this is easier to do - the other reason is, the public shame that would be heaped on a person who cut down trees illegally functions as a check on such behavior, while most people would never imagine acting in such a barbaric way, even in a situation many Americans would find 'desperate,' such as a house which is only heated to 50°F/10°C.

because we got hydrocarbons and coal as a gift. And like all little children, we are free to abuse and destroy that present at will. And like all little children we (at least many of us), will start crying when its gone.

IP - I really like your comments. Always reasonable, and sometimes with some deeper wisdom as shown in this piece. Is it a quote or by you?



I wrote it but my thinking is inspired by many others. I can't tell you if I heard or read this one somewhere. I might have. It is by far not original enough to take credit for it.

Newton is quoted saying "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

I am more humble... if I have seen anything, it is because others have shown me. I am trying to show to others some of what I have seen. Maybe not very succesfully and not always in a pleasant way... but some of what can be seen with open eyes is simply not that pleasant in itself. And some of what I am saying will be wrong. That does not mean all of what I am saying is wrong. The wise person will be able to differentiate.

First, I could have sworn that we were all concerned about a reduction in liquid and gas fossil fuel energy.  I was also under the impression that a little exercise was considered a good thing for humans.  Oh, and post-peak, we may have a lot of underemployed people.

Second, with regards to your test, if the point is to move a person, why would it make any sense to have the person move the car?  I do see your point, that a machine burning a tremendous amount of fossil fuel can more efficiently move that machine (and a person) than a person can.  So what?  You seem to have forgotten that the point is to move the person with less fossil fuel.

BTW, I have pushed my car for about a quarter mile.  I see no point to push it for a mile.  I haven't been magically cured of my preference to bike to work.  I think maybe pushing the car for a mile would magically cure me of any desire to reply to specious posts, but I would probably still bike to work.

See my calculation above.

I was not arguing about the need to reduce waste by driving smaller cars (we completely agree about that). I was arguing that human power can not replace machines. Not even when you ride your bike.

The total energy needed to push your bike hard for two hours amounts to approx. 150W*2h=300Wh. Please note that this is far above commuter speed. It is a good workout. But even so you can generate that with a small amount of PV area:

Average solar arrays produce 20W/m^2 continuous, i.e. 480Wh/m^2 per day.

Battery efficiency is approx. 60% these days. Let's say you put batteries on your bike which makes it somewhat more heavy, which is decreasing the efficiency further to e.g. 40%. So then you would get the equivalent of 480Wh/m^2day*40% = 192Wh/m^2day out of your PV array/battery/electrical engine bike machine.

To power your commute by solar energy you then need (300Wh/day)/(192Wh/m^2day)=1.56m^2 of solar cells.

Now compare that to the 900 million acres of farmland in the US feeding 300 million people. That is 3acres per person...

Now, the 2h bike ride was approx. 1/12th of your day, i.e. you will have used close to 1/10th of your total daily power consumption for it. That means the human bike engine needs 0.3 acres of agricultural area to function while an equivalent solar array could get the same job done on 1.6m^2.

An acre happens to be 4046m^2, i.e. it we need 0.3*4046m^2/1.6m^2=759 times more farmland to support the human biker than we would need PV roof area to power the electric motor running the same bike.

Still not convinced? You can do the same calculation for any example... it will come out roughly the same. But then... how possibly could my calculations beat your religious conviction? Truthfully, they can't... unless YOU start looking at the world realistically. It's not up to me to make that happen. But I hope my little calculations have given you a starting point to see how far off anything powered by human labor is compared to rather simple machines.

I was arguing that human power can not replace machines.

I don't think anyone is arguing that.  Jared  Diamond makes the case eloquently in Guns, Germs, and Steel.  

Indeed, this is why many peak oilers believe there will be a dieoff and other assorted unpleasantries.

Your nightmares do not impact reality. Unless you can show us physical mechanisms that are in favor of the scenarios underlying your Angst, we can arguably send you off to the shrink. It is up to you to prove to us that what you are proposing has any shred of reality to it.

I can make my case with physics and engineering arguments. I have yet to see you making your case with anything but fear.

You don't even know what my case is.
I know that in this discussion you have failed to make one valid argument while I gave you solid physics for the narrow scope of the presented problem. Are you denying that?
Then it is a waste of time discussing anything with you.
Not even close to convinced, thank you.  Try again.  My 5 mile round trip uses about 24.4kcal/km or 203kcal.  However, my basal metabolism for that half hour is about 1774/48 = 37kcal, for a net use of 166kcal = 193Wh.

Using your number for the solar cell, but only for 12 hours a day, since I haven't seen any that work in the dark yet as in your calculation, the solar cell produces 240Wh/m2/day.  So 240Wh/m2/day * 40% is 96Wh/m2/day.  To power the commute with solar takes 193Wh/ 96Wh/m2/day or 2 square meters.

Now this reference says that it takes 1.2 acres per year to feed a person.  The bike trip was about 37/2500 of my calories per day, so it's 1.2 * 37/2500 = 0.0006 acre, or 2.4 square meters.  So we need 20% more land to feed my bike commute.

But wait, you haven't accounted for the costs of the equipment.  The bikes are the same, but to add the batteries and electric motor costs $570 at Electric Scooter World.  It'll cost you around $2000 for 2sq m of photovoltaic panels (someone have a better figure?  This is based on scaling up small units I could find a price for, with a substantial discount applied.)

So the additional cost for your rig is about $2570.  Over 10 years it's an additional $257 per year.  The extra cost of my rig - $0.  Sure the tiny bit of extra land costs something, and the corn grown on it costs something, but the half-hour of exercise per day saves me a considerable amount of money on lifetime medical bills compared to being sedentary on the electric bike.  

The part you keep missing is that until people are dead, you can't pretend that they don't exist.  The point to this machinery is to serve people.  No people, no machines.  Nobody buys a car to watch it head off on its own with nobody in it.

My numbers for the solar cells were averaged for solar radiation over 24h and 365days. A good solar array produces 150W/m^2 peak and that has to be averaged over cos(solar angle of incidence), cloud cover etc.. On average you get roughly 20W-60/m^2 continuos in locations suitable for solar arrays (the 60W number requires desert locations with 360 days of clear blue skies and concentrators, the average for fixed panels in the US is much less). That is a realistic true 480Wh/m^2day for residential solar.

A person can work 100W for eight hours. That is 800Wh, so we can replace a person with 1.7m^2 of commercially available solar cells. We don't need agricultural land for those cells, either. On one acre of worthless industrial roof area we can make enough energy to replace 2300+ people. With 900 million acres we could energetically do the same as 2 trillion people...

A kWh of solar energy currently can be made for 20-30 cents in industrial scale and 50 cents with residential solar. Since a person can produce roughly 0.8kWh/day, their mechanical energy is worth 40 cents, at most. If we take the same power from wind, we get it for some 10 cents.

I know you are fond of riding your bike... but would you prefer to be strapped to an excersize bike for 10-40 cents a day to using cheap renewable energy?

"The part you keep missing is that until people are dead, you can't pretend that they don't exist."

I wasn't pretending that people don't exist. I am constantly advocating (in other discussions) that people should be given a good education and be allowed to do things they are best at like designing, planning, building and making/performing art. And here I was saying machines should be used for the things they are best at, like hauling stuff. People are utterly useless for that purpose. I don't see a conflict between the two arguments. Do you?

Yes I do see a conflict.  In your religion there is infinite energy, we only have to figure out how to harness it.  I live in the reality based community that says it is difficult to harness energy and we're about to see our most dense source start to shrink per year.  I would like to have something for those people to do that doesn't entail as much fossil fuel energy, but it sounds as though in your religion all those not suitably trained for the arts and design might as well die so we can replace them with machines.  

It also sounds as though in your religion all regions are endowed with ample sunshine for photovoltaics. Where'd the "in locations suitable for solar arrays" come from.  Where are you getting your numbers?  I was talking about my bike commute, which you claimed was hopelessly inefficient compared to an electric bike commute.  Now you're shifting the discussion to encompass all energy.  

Tell you what, I have a life in reality to get back to, so you can keep your religion, and I assume, the last word.

An infinite amount of energy would have an infinite mass and create a singularity of infinite dimension (AKA as a black hole). It thus can not exist.

We have plenty of energy. Thousands of times more than we need. We know how to harness it. You can go and buy solar panels at any number of places. And yet... very few people do and many keep complaining that there is not enough energy. Why is that?

There might not be enough energy that is cheap enough for your personal taste... that might very well be. But then... there are probably not enough cheap diomonds out there for your wife's taste, either. Reality rarely ever asks how much we want to pay for something. It simply puts a price tag on things. And oil came to us for a very low price for a very long time. We got used to it. Now it hurts us that the price is going higher. That does not mean that oil, on average, will have been a bad deal. Not at all, actually.

"It also sounds as though in your religion all regions are endowed with ample sunshine for photovoltaics."

Not at all. But not all regions of the world were endowed with ample oil, either. Right? The US has plenty of it and Saudi Arabia has plenty of it. Guess what... the US and Saudi Arabia have plenty of sunshine, too. Isn't that unfair? The same players who got the goodies in the past are getting the goodies in the future, too...

"Where are you getting your numbers?"

From any textbook on photovoltaics and solar energy. But you can find them on Wikipedia, too, if you care. Or just calculate them yourself with a bit of geometry and trigonometric functions. The weather data you will have to look up. It does not follow from first principles, but pretty much everything else does. It is not rocket science.

You can go back to your real life now. And once you are there, you might want to check out a solar panel or two next time you go to the hardware store. Or a solar water heater. Or just a little bit of insulation for the house. Or a Prius. They are all waiting for you.  

I thought the bike trip was 193/2500 not 37/1500.  37 was your basal metabolism.  

In any event, we could all use the exercise and two hours of bicycling per day is probably just about right.  Even if that required additional  food, which is not clear to me, we need the exercise anyway; therefore, I don't think it makes sense to compare calories consumed or watts produced to what could be had by using PV.  

And, as you have pointed out, if one looks at the expense, it is clear that bicyling makes sense for one who is healthy or for one who would like to maintain one's health.

Another issue is, if one didn't have a car and relied primarily on one's bicyle, one would probably end up not traveling nearly as far.

Also, this whole equation would change, anyway, if one were a vegan, which I am.

Oh, this damn mouse and all the calories it is taking to make it click. If I only had some sort of solar powered assist for my finger, I could cut back on energy use.

Tstreet, watch those units!  Everything is in kcal until the last conversion, where 166kcal is converted to 193Wh.  Daily basal metabolism is about 1774kcal, bike trip is about 203kcal total, bike portion of basal metabolism is 37kcal, transportation portion of biking time is 166kcal.

Yes, the agriculture requirement of 1.2acres per person looks like average, so vegetarians in general should use much less, particularly vegans.  Our family of four grows about half of our food in our back yard, in our garden and on our fruit trees and vines.  Looks like in the IP religion I should scrap that and spend my time doing more designing, however.

ok.  Transportation portion of biking time is 166 kcal, but you used 37 kcal to compute food required.  You just computed food to take care of your basal metabolism, not the bicycle related kcal consumption.  Or, I am confused?
Oops.  Yup, I'm a bonehead.  Should be 166/2500.  Looks like I'd better set aside more land, huh?
Your bike example is odd. That would be a 20 mile one way commute, 40 miles round trip, done at 20 mph. Who does that? Only those more dedicated to the ride than to the job.
"After completing that exercize you will be magically cured from any thought that human labor could possibly replace ANY machines."

Presumably you were exaggerating to make a point, but this is simply an idiotic statement.

Human labor can replace LOTS of machines. Who needs a f-ing electric can opener? Who needs to push their f-ing car a mile down the road when they could walk? Who needs a gasoline powered rototiller to work a family vegetable garden?

Human labor (with a little help from our animal friends :-) powered civilization for centuries before the advent of the Industrial Age.

- sgage

"Who needs to push their f-ing car a mile down the road when they could walk?"

You do... because once you live 20 miles away from your work, neither walking nor cycling will do for most people.

And please feel free to tell us how you are going to transport the 2"x4" to the next construction site or, even better, the concrete... I assume you had the fun of pushing wheelbarrels full of cement around? It's a great workout... so great, actually, that most people will be glad to do without it.

And please let me know by how much you think electric can openers are accelerating PO... I will be glad to call my congress men and ask him to outlaw electric can openers because they threaten the US economically.


You made a foolish blanket statement, and I countered it. The point of my "electric can openers" remark had nothing to do with what fraction of the energy use of the world they required. Who even mentioned a word about accelerating PO? It had to do with your ridiculous blanket statement regarding human labor not being able to replace ANY machine (your emphasis).

So kindly spare us the snotty "I will be glad to call my congressman" nonsense.

The point clearly is not that human labor can perpetuate business as usual. The point is that business will not be as usual. Commuting 20 miles is not going to be a sensible scenario. OTOH, you can reasonably commute some distance via foot or bike.

Humanity, and indeed civilization (love it or hate it :-) hugely predates fossil-fuel power. No, we surely will not have bicycle-powered commercial air travel. But we may not have commercial air travel. We got along fine without it, not all that long ago.

- sgage

If I made a blanket statement, you are guilty of applying childish logic to win an agument that you can't win with a serious one.

My statement was that machines are always more efficient than humans because of the inefficiencies of the photosynthesis process and the biochemical reaction chain that stands between the energy contained in solar photons and the mechanical power output of our muscle tissue. You can dislike this science fact, if you want to, but you can not change it.

My statement stands. If you think your can-opener example can change that... feel free to apply for kindergarten. They will gladly take you.

Now about the rest. We fully agree that MUCH of what we do with machines is a waste. That will have to change and we will learn to conserve. But those changes will only buy us half an order of magnitude of  energy savings, not the nearly three orders that stand between modern industrual societies and hunter-gatherers. So we still have to make up for two and a half orders of magnitude. We will do so with renewable energy sources like wind and solar and everything else that people will invent over the next half century.

Physics is not the limit. Only science and engineering training is.

You are not serious. You are not making any sense. You seem to be willfully not getting the point (or anyone else's point here, it seems). You do not seem to be responding to what I wrote in any way, but rather gratuitously spouting insults.

"Physics is not the limit."

Plus, you are moron.

In short, you are a stupid troll. Good-bye.

- sgage

Please go back to the initial point of the discussion... the energy value of human labor. In another post I calculate it to be between 10-40 cents a day. That is using cost of renewables, not nuclear or oil.

If that does not make sense to you, it must be because you never thought about it that way OR you did not read my posts. I can't help either. Maybe I can ask you to read them now? To a physicist (and even more to a hard core economist) my arguments will make a lot of sense. And they do make sense to the utility company, too, because they are using coal, hydrostatic pressure and nuclear to generate electricity, and not hamster wheels.

"To a physicist (and even more to a hard core economist) my arguments will make a lot of sense."

is that like your argument that physics are not the limit, science and technology are.

As long as you haven't even pulled a single stop of conservation, science and technology, as is the case of energy infrastructure and abuse in the US, the answer is yes, you need not worry about physics.

Once I see the solar panels go up on roofs and everyone driving a hybrid or a small diesel or even an EV, we shall talk about the limits of growth as set forward by physics. Until then... I will keep talking about the limits of waste.

I don't believe this is an either or situation.

Many civilizations accomplished great feats (did I spell feats right?) with human and animal power.  We have much more tech now as well as coal nuke solar wind etc and a declining amount of oil for decades.  If the oil does not run dry overnight (which it won't and nobody here is arguing it will) we will change the ways we do things.  

But for your example how many people drive twenty miles to buy a 2x4 to accomplish a job they could use another board or a hand cut still round piece of wood of the tree?  Have you ever been to a farmhouse which lived through the deppression and still has all the improvised engineering around.  My grandparents (dads side) built their house during the depression and they have three types of brick and the rafters are hand sawn.  

Go visit PA and watch the amish build a barn.


I think we need to decouple a few things. It is one thing to live like the amish. It is another to supply a modern hospital with the technology to support a heart transplant. Or just to feed 300 million people in the US. The amish couldn't do either. They represent a romantic model of living, not reality. Now... if you mind starving 250 million people to death to go back to horse and buggy and death from childbirth, measles and appendicitis like I do, you will have to take into account all the industrial machinery that works behind the curtains of the "seemingly simple" things we do... like building hospitals and making fertilizer. And all of this takes a lot of energy. Not as much as most people burn on the roads to sarisfy their egos with sheet metal enhancements... bit still. It does take a lot of energy and to make that energy we need infrastructure. To date a lot of that infrastructure looks like a coal mine or an oil rig. In the future it will look like a wind farm or a solar panel.

The problem is solely how to get from drill rig to wind turbine and from heaps of black coal to sheets of black solar panels. The problem is not how to become 300 million amish.

Do you have a list of fallacies you are required to use today, because you've run through several already.

I never said live like the Amish, I said watch them build a barn...it is interesting and proves hand tools can accomplish things.  I would say they represent a reality because I have seen them and they appear to be real.  

We do not need heart transplants.  It is an interesting accomplishment but the same resources and efforts in prevention not transplantaion would save far more lives.  Since we have no population problem transplants are a luxury not a neccesity.

You talk about childbirth measles and appendicitis?

How are any of these petroleum dependent?  Hospitals existed before the oil age and will exist afterwards.

"The problem is solely how to get from drill rig to wind turbine and from heaps of black coal to sheets of black solar panels. The problem is not how to become 300 million amish."

I disagree.  We all could be a little more simple, a little more humble and a little more conservative.  We don't need most of what fills our lives.  You can work your ass off 7 days a week and never afford the lifestyle MTV's Laguna beach tells you to want, or you can live out in the country and take things slow and have a very fulfilling life.  It depends on the person. I am a workaholic and blow my money on silly stuff and vacations.  I have everything I need I am only wasting money cause I can. So if I and everyone else conserved a little bit that little bit might be a big bit.  

You pose both a straw man argument against the amish lifestyle I never said we should live and several either or arguments about situations with huge gray areas.


I do not think I committed any fallacies when I presented my argument how many humans are needed to replace a single ICE.

My point about the Amish is equally valid. They "work" because there are so few of them. Their lifestyle does not work well for the majority. Just think about dispersing the whole population on 900 million acres of farmland. Every person gets three acres. A typical family thus would have 12 acres. I wonder if that is enough to live off or just enough to die on without fertilizer, farming machines, pesticides and (unfortunately) genetically modified crops. Any developing country gives a good idea of what it means to live like the Amish. It ain't pretty.

Can we save energy? Sure. Tons of it. See CA with half the electricity consumption of the average of the US. See a Prius driver using 45mpg (real world) vs. an SUV driver using 15mpg (on a good day with tail wind).

I just don't think we need the Amish as a role model. We need the Europeans as a role model and we need to develop our own ways. That requires to look forward, not back. And that was the point I was trying to make.

They "work" because there are so few of them. Their lifestyle does not work well for the majority. Just think about dispersing the whole population on 900 million acres of farmland.

Any developing country gives a good idea of what it means to live like the Amish. It ain't pretty.

I would like to react to these 2 assertions:

1. The "majority", as you call it, wasn't there when the Amnish came. It is not their fault if their lifestyle cannot be applied to the whole US population.

As you say, for them, it works, and pretty well I think (although I never saw an Amish "camp" or settlement).

2. That's wrong. FOr what I know, they live a simple life but they don't suffer as hard as in Africa for instance. Their population is controlled, that is the main difference.

SO it could be a way to survive after the PO, but surely some would have to die before.. So we are stuck with an alternative: to bild renewable energy that are sufficient to support 300 mio. people (for you, americans) or to move back to the pre-oil age, while letting some people on the side of the road...

FOr what I know, they live a simple life but they don't suffer as hard as in Africa for instance. Their population is controlled, that is the main difference.

Not true.  If there's anything unsustainable about the Amish, it's their high population growth rate.  

The Amish benefit from being part of our society, even though they pretend they aren't.  They use the same doctors and hospitals as everyone else.  They pay cash, if they can afford it, but they get all the benefits of modern medical technology.  

They don't have phones in the house, but many have them in sheds outside.  Those who do not will usually borrow phones from non-Amish neighbors. Similarly, many Amish rent cars, vans, tractors, etc., though most do not own them.  They have kerosene-powered refrigerators and propane-powered farm equipment.  They shop at the supermarket.  They wear polyester.

Even though they eschew many of the frivolous uses of modern technology, they benefit from it, and from the infrastructure it has built.  (Not present in much of Africa.)

I have spent a lot of time in hospitals due to my spouses health. All the many hours I have spent in those hospitals and with many many very large numbers of Amish and Memmonite people living in this immediate area I have yet to ever see a single one in the hospital.Not that they don't but I have yet to see it.

Tractors? Only one time have a seen an Amish on a tractor. They may use them some where I can't see them. Their farms do not usually front many highways. They are usually set back far from the roadways as well.

Perhaps you have different clans/families/etc where you live that what are residing here. Many many have migrated to Kentucky from the more eastern states. I believe because they find it more friendly and more likeable folks here and far far more freedom. We do NOT interfere with their lifestyle.

Could it not be that various sects/clans of them are far more conservative than those up north and east?

I see many of them at auctions and in some stores. They are very quiet people and most drive a horse and buggy. They are very honest people and hard workers. I would be proud to call them my neighbors and friends but they prefer the company of their own community. Nothing wrong with that.

I wonder why you disparage them so.

They make a very very small footprint upon the earth. Can you say that you make as small a one? I can't and I live IMO far more simply than you do,judging from your posts. I consume very little electricity and very little gasoline. They consume almost none and very very small amounts of gasoline. Some do drive very plain vehicles that are more like panel trucks so that many can ride at one time. Polyester cloths? They appear to be handmade and of denim. I will ask one next time. They do not believe in finery. Plain dressed they are. They do engage in egotistical behaviour adn their children are well behaved.

This is what I see of the ones who have migrated here and run small businesses, the businesses they started to help the community. They are very good at slaughtering and meat processing due to being so very frugal and honest. They will never cheat you. So here in Ky we welcome them and since they keep very much to themselves they do not impinge upon any other communities since we are a very clannish people back here in the less populated parts of this state.

I am not disparaging them.  I am saying that they do not live like African peasants, as was implied upthread. I also think that it's a myth that they won't be affected by peak oil.  They may be less affected than most of us, but they will be affected.  They are connected to our infrastructure, our political system, and our economy.

It's true that different communities are free to set their own rules, and do.  They are not anti-technology per se.  Rather, they think about how technology will affect their society.  I admire this about them.  If someone needs a tractor (because they are disabled, say) they may be allowed - even ordered - to own one.  The phones are in sheds outside the house in order to make them inconvenient to use - so they'll be used only when necessary.  And so they can call out, but no one can call in.

Even the most stringent of them benefit from being part of the U.S.  Unlike poor Africans, they don't have to worry about warlords invading their land, taking over their wells, or evicting them from their homes.  Political instability is a huge part of the problem in Africa.  It's not a problem for the Amish.

Yet, anyway.

I am wondering if you have personally observed what you specify as the lifestyle of Amish? If you have lived with or near them to form your opinions?

Or is it anecdotal? Or perhaps a news article? If news then I can discount it as slanted or full of a great deal of untruths.

All my observations are from living near them and observing them plus conversing with them.

It seems my observations differ markedly from what you post.

This is my views as to the Amish and the energy crisis. They have the lifestyle that would allow them to far exceed us in survivability. Theirs is to be desired and ours is taking us down the wrong path , to put it mildly.

Granted theirs is tied closely to their religion however their lifestyle reflects that they reject our lifestyle.

I deal with them to learn how they cope in that manner.

What you state may be valid for the Pennsylvania Dutch(they are not Dutch BTW) but not so for the ones here. Granted each community differ somewhat but on the whole they tend to hang together very much.

Yes, there are Amish communities around here.  I've also done some research on them.  Partly because I was curious, partly because I, like many other peak oilers, I wondered if their way of life would be peak oil proof.  Anthropology is one of my interests.
I believe most of what you are stating is derived from New Order Amish as opposed to Old Order.

The New Order still consider themselves to be Amish but they would likely be shunned somewhat by the Old Order.

Just like the Baptist, which I am, we descended from the Annabaptists. Yet there are several varieties of Baptists. Primitive, Missionary,Free Will,etc.

You need to differenciate between the various groups. You can attribute activity to one type of religion and find it totally unacceptable to another which is still Baptist none the less.

Each church(Baptist) is allowed to set its own covenant and does not have to abide too much with the convention, who tries to assume power over them but does not have the right to.

Same then as the Amish. You can't make flat statements that apply to all.

As for the ones here that is what I see, what I explained earlier. I would say quite a bit of difference between the ones you are living near and the ones located here.

The Old Order eschew the automobile and electricity. The New Order does not.

An Amish schism... just what the world needs. Let's hope they won't fight each other a few centuries from now over the color of the horse before the cart. :-)
As Infinitespossibilities says below, the Amish do "profite"  a little from the surrounding modern society.

But to say that

They don't have phones in the house, but many have them in sheds outside.  Those who do not will usually borrow phones from non-Amish neighbors. Similarly, many Amish rent cars, vans, tractors, etc., though most do not own them.  They have kerosene-powered refrigerators and propane-powered farm equipment.  They shop at the supermarket.  They wear polyester.

It isn't the image that I had in head when speaking about Amish. I cannot say it is false, because of my lack of knowleage about the Amish (I didn't live in the USA) but from what I've heard about..

Can it be, as airdale says, that there is more or less faithfull Amishes communities with regard to their "theories"?

Each community is free to set their own rules, and there is considerable variation.

But they are not anti-technology. Rather, they consider how technology affects the community.  (An attitude I heartily applaude, BTW.)

People laugh because Amish communities often allow the use of tractors, if they are hooked up to a horse.  It seems silly to us.  But there's a reason for it.  It keeps the farmer from being able to expand too much.  They worry that a man with a tractor will get greedy, and buy up more land, and force his neighbors to sell or to also buy tractors. But if he can only use it if it's attached to a horse...he can still only plow as fast as the horse can walk.  

For similar reasons, many communities allow propane powered appliances or farm equipment. They are not against labor-saving devices, but they don't want to be connected to modern society (in this case literally, with electric lines).  

There was a recent tragedy where a man broke into an Amish schoolhouse and shot a bunch of students.  The children were airlifted to modern hospitals, and many of the parents also took planes for the first time in their lives, to be with their kids.   This was not considered a sin or a break with "being Amish."  They accept technology when it's necessary.  

Interesting analysis. I like it. It makes sense. Thank you for this insight into a culture I find hard to understand. But the way you describe these people, they begin to make sense.

Maybe we can learn something very important from the Amish, after all... you don't have to do something just because you can? That already is probably half the solution to PO. Or, it would be, if we would apply it.

I wasn't faulting the Amish. But I do not see a need to kill a large fraction of the US population so that we can all live like them.

To be Amish works right up to the moment when you break an ankle slipping on the stairs. At that moment you can make a decision if you want to be a cripple for the rest of your life  who can only limp or walk in pain and thus be pretty useless to the community or stop being Amish, go to the local hospital and have the surgeons cut open your foot, put a few screws and nails and plates in and have you up and running within a few months. But once you make that decision you stop being Amish. You have become a full member of modernity. And who knows, maybe the Amish have a lot of people limping around in pain... I don't know about that. If they do, they are doing if for rather foolish reasons... kind of like a Walt Disney employee not wanting to leave Disneyland.

The Amish have low mortality because they own enough of some of the best farmland in the world instead of being crowded between mosquito infested swamps. The swamps of the Americas were drained by the civil engineers of the government, the mosquitos are being controlled by health services and so is all other infectious disease. Without these "little extras" the Amish would die like the flies, just like their ancesters did before the science and engineering of the 19th and 20th changed all of that.

Now... I am not saying that being Amish is not a viable lifestyle choice. An honest choice it ain't, though, because it only exists as it is as an island in a modern technological society. That they are not asking for the advantages of the modern world is a different matter from them not profiting from them.

Take away the shield we provide for them and their lifestyle will stop looking very romantic, indeed.

Who's doing the romanticising, Infinite?

I could possibly choose to replace your example with Lupus or Cancer to acknowledge some part of the point, but a broken ankle?  You don't need a CatScan and a Pfizer Cocktail to fix that, and though they may benefit from the overall security of our national borders, protected as they are with Satellites, Radar, complex Communications and lots of Motors buzzing all over the place, it would be fair enough to say that they are also INconvenienced, stressed and uprooted by modern technologies and a frenzied culture ever encroaching on their choice to work and live in their quiet lifestyle.

  The shield we provide them?

Do you think it's possible that their health owes anything to a regimen of real work, a pacific, community-based life, and a regular diet of natural foods?  The rest of the country's croplands weren't drained swamps, but a real wealth of natural potential which is now largely 'drained' of nutrients and body by the very Modernistic Shield you suggest we are protecting them with.

I don't think their world is a Utopia, and I don't personally want to live in that society any more than as a brief guest, but they do many things we could start to learn from, in order to 'Protect Ourselves' from the Romantic Delustions of Modernism's Beneficence.

I am speaking from experience because I had a broken ankle from slipping on stairs. The most common form of this injusry, the one I had, involves clean brakes of both the fibia and the tibula. In my case there were four fragments, one of which was tiny and they just left it in place. It is now floating somewhere in the connective tissues and has no ill effects. The other three fragments were attached with screws and nails in a one hour surgery. The hospital I went to does about half a dozen of these a day. It's one of their their easiest procedures because they are specialized on orthopedic suregery.

The alternative treatment I was told about would have been to re-adjust the fragments under an x-ray machine and weeks of complete rest. A deviation of the original orientation of these bones by only a few degrees will lead to painful degenerative effects on the surface of the joint after five years and lifelong pain after that. I spoke to three doctors, two specialists and one family doctor and they all told me the same: take the surgery or be prepared to suffer for the rest of your life because the chances of getting the fragments properly adjusted without surgery is around 10-15%. I listened to them, was up aqnd running after ten days and today, nine years later, I am fine.

So even the non-surgical treatment requires x-rays...

And like I said... to combat infectious disease requires at least a late 19th century mindset and infrastructure. There are many other examples. The Amish profit from all of this, if they want to or not. From what Lenean said it seems to follow that they don't mind. And I don't mind the decisions they have made for themselves, either. They are free people, they work hard, they deserve the life they make for themselves. That does not take anything away from the fact that important aspects of Amish life are covered by non-Amish technology and infrastructure.

"Do you think it's possible that their health owes anything to a regimen of real work, a pacific, community-based life, and a regular diet of natural foods?"

No. Their health is a result of antibiotics, mass vaccination and disease control by the CDC. Plague and Malaria, Tuberculosis and Rabies don't ask how peaceful you are or how regular your diet is. They will kill you anyway.  

I don't think our world is Utopia, either. But I think that we are living a far better life thanks to technology, medicine and public health services. All I have to do to convince myself is to read a history book about antiquity or the middle ages.

Take away the shield we provide for them and their lifestyle will stop looking very romantic, indeed.

I cannot deny that they benefits from the modern society, in a way or another. But they didn't have called for it.

THe point was, is their lifestyle sustainable (without oil)?
IT it, although it may be unromantic in earlier centuries..

Most of what IP says is rubbish. I live near many Amish and Memmonite.

I think IP gets his views from the MSM.

The fact is that in the 30s and 40s when I was a child and on the farm we lived exactly as they lived and we were sustaining ourselves very well indeed. Far healthier in fact. I was born in a house and not in a hospital. I never had medicine. We had no phones. We had no electricity. The list goes on and on.

I lived that lifestyle and perhaps some of us 'burned-out-geezers' here did as well.

I believe you to be a paid shill. Sent here to sow disruption and disinformation.

Back then some people lived long lives and some short. If you lived thru childhood then you were very fit. To this day I have never had an operation except for appendicitis if I had remained in a farm setting I don't think I would have had that. I take zero medicine. All my health tests and blood work say I am in excellent health.

I contribute that to one thing. A healthy life in the country.

My wife who was raised in a small town is 6 yrs younger than me. Has had 8 major operations including two hip repleacements, has had 2 back to back cornaries and now has not much longer , she feels, to live. Her father never purchased milk for the children, her step mother fed them garbage(noodles and neckmeat) and later fast food trash. Her heart resting rate is over 100 and mine is 65. I could go on and on but thats my point.

Lifestyle is important. Today we have a very poor lifestyle. Our food is contaminated. Our water as well and the air is full of pollution.

We need to look closely at the Amiish/Memmonite lifestyle and compare it to ours especially for the future.


"Most of what IP says is rubbish."

Then it shouldn't be so hard for you to prove me wrong.

"I think IP gets his views from the MSM."

I get my views from thinking about the things I see. You should try it. It works.

"I believe you to be a paid shill. Sent here to sow disruption and disinformation."

Your beliefs do not impact my reality. I speak only for myself. I speak what I hold to be the truth and can argue any one of my claims.

As for your life... and the notion that you had none of the things we have today.... that is hilarious nonsense.
You had the CDC and vaccinations.


You might simply not understand the difference between having a vaccine and only a fraction of a percent of children dying before the age of five and not having vaccines and half the children dying. I would suggest to visit a 19th century cemetary and read the dates on the graves. It might teach you something.

"I contribute that to one thing. A healthy life in the country."

Which means you are wrong. You should contribute it to Dr. Louis Pasteur and all the doctors and scientist who came after him. You most likely wouldn't be alive without them.

I am sorry to hear about the medical problems of your wife. Your wife might have been malnourished as a child. Or she might be genetically disadvantaged. Or both. People are not designed to live much longer than into their early thirties. You need to understand that when you look at old age. Nature did not build you to last. Not all of us have the same milage in us. That we last into out seventies and eighties today is a gift, not a given. Treat it as a gift and you might feel less bitter about it.

"Lifestyle is important. Today we have a very poor lifestyle. Our food is contaminated. Our water as well and the air is full of pollution."

Here we agree. One of the reasons why we need to get rid of oil is the contamination it produces. There are better ways. But burning wood is not one of them. The health statistics about the correlation between wood burning and lung disease is pretty clear about that. Solar heating and PV are the ways to go. In terms of lifestyle... less driving and more walking would be good for a lot of people. I walk two miles a day to get to work. I love it. And if I could get a bike on my commuter train, I would cycle a lot more.

Folding bikes are great for multi-modal transportation!


No vaccinations.
No CDC. You are speaking of city folk.
Where do you live BTW?

Your not the only one who has thoughts and beliefs but you seem to think so judging from your comments on each and every subject and relating it to science and engineering.

Say I make this belief statement:" I contribute that to a healthy life."

Your comeback is "Which means you are wrong."

What I get from that exchange is you think YOUR THOUGHTS outweigh mine. This is a smug attitude you have about yourself.

I rest my case. And don't care to debate further with someone who is as so pretentious.

The CDC was established in 1946. Before that its functions were probably part of the work of the surgeon general. I would have to research the detailed history.

Vaccinations against smallpox have begun in the 19th century.


You might not have been vaccinated personally but the likely reason that you did not get sick was because many other people have been. Please, please inform yourself.

Like I said... bacteria and viruses do not care much about your beliefs, they will simply kill you. Black Plague does not come from God. It comes from bacteria. You get antibiotics, you live, you don't, you are likely to die.

"What I get from that exchange is you think YOUR THOUGHTS outweigh mine. "

Only because you fail to inform youself. I have done nothing to devalue your thoughts on this matter. You did that yourself by not taking a realistic approach.

"I rest my case. And don't care to debate further with someone who is as so pretentious. "

The fact that I am pretentious takes nothing away from the quality of my arguments. You might not like to hear them but that does not invalidate them.

"Any developing country gives a good idea of what it means to live like the Amish. It ain't pretty."

What ain't pretty? You clearly have zero clue as to what you are talking about. The Amish live very comfortable, secure lives. The Amish have nothing to do with "developing countries". They are a highly evolved and evolving society, who have the sense to at least try to understand what the effects of new technologies might be on their community, and make choices accordingly.

As I understand it, when a new technology appears, some "early adopter" Amish get it.  After a few years, the elders get together and see what impact the use of this technology has on their society.  Positive, negative or neutral ?

They saw the negative impacts of Model Ts & As and severely limited their use (getting crops to market is OK).

And they then either roll back the use of this technology or adopt it.  It is NOT a mindless rejection of technology, nor a mindless acceptance (like the rest of us).

For example, they use modern dentistry (I have an uncle who is a dentist with a large Amish practice) including preventive care but rarely go for implants and avoid cosmetic dentistry.

Would that the rest of society was so wise.

Best Hopes,


It is NOT a mindless rejection of technology, nor a mindless acceptance (like the rest of us).

Exactly!  That's a great way to put it.  

" because once you live 20 miles away from your work, neither walking nor cycling will do for most people."

If it wasn't for all the friggen cars out there, even a 20 mile bike commute to work wouldn't be that bad most days.

My perfect world would be cars banned and all roads converted to bike roads.  The rich people can use rickshaws.

Humans less efficient? No argument there. But hammers and axes still exist, and I would pay money for one that I could wield more efficiently.

Speaking of forgetting things, it's more of a problem that people have forgotten how to do things without external energy, and as a result of that disconnect, we drive massive vehicles a few blocks for a loaf of bread.

"After completing that exercize you will be magically cured from any thought that human labor could possibly replace ANY machines."

Funny, until you magically cured me I really believed that my human labor on my bicycle got me to work today, replacing a car. Now that I am magically cured I realize that I was mistaken!

But, how did I get here?

How many miles did you ride? 20 each way? Do you see people who have a 50 mile commute (one way) get on their bikes?


The problem here isn't the machine, it is the task. Stop trying to sustain your "happy motoring" 50 mile commute.
Where exactly was I arguing for "happy motoring"? Anywhere? I don't think so. I said that we have to move plenty of people fifty miles and do other things that are require a lot of power (like moving cement).

My commute is only 25 miles. But that is a long walk, so I need help. In my case that help are busses and trains. One can not move a bus or even a train with pedals or a hamster wheel. That only works in cartoons. So we need other sources of energy. Obviously they have to be some form of  renewables (or, as the last resor, nuclear) once the hydrocarbons run out and GW will prevent us from burning coal.

If you can find me advocating H3s in any of my posts, I will send you a case of really good wine.

I do 50 to 80 miles a day, 5 days a week.


sure, its way more than most are willing to deal with, but 10 miles for an average joe is easier than you might think. Bikes can haul massive loads quite cheaply, the miracle of the wheel still works :)

The Azor Transport Super can carry a real load:


3000 cubic inch messenger bag :-)

and the last thing you want when you sling packages all day is a lead sled like that one, energy is a precious commodity doncha know !

Yup, that's 60 pounds of steel there. Completely the wrong machine for 80 miles per day of racing envelopes around! But to ride 5 miles loaded up with canned beans and fresh cantaloupe... I've put about 40 pounds of groceries in that front basket & the bike is perfectly happy. Rated for 75 pounds on the rear rack.
The Chinese are all with you... up to the point where they need to transport thousands of tons of concrete to a construction site. Even they use trucks for that.

I didn't say that one can't do 50 miles on a bike. Some can. Very few can, really. And nobody can sustain cycling for any serious business activity. But I bet it would be fun to watch people on bikes trying to bring their Christmas trees home. Oh, and the 2x4s for their latest home improvement project... and the new stove. And the refrigerator... yeah... I want to see someone transport a refrigerator on a bike. One could call the movie "Jackass III", maybe...


A refrigerator is not so heavy usually, just awkwardly bulky:


I am seriously impressed. I wonder if I could find someone who can get this trailer up the hill I live on. It's only 300 feet of elevation but some of it is probably 15%...
dont under estimate the power of good old fashioned human brute force, it can do amazing things if you let it or try it

besides building a system hopelessly attached to a non renewable resource most folks have allowed themselves to get into an embarrassingly bad state of physical shape--been there done that, not anymore

dont worry, that 300 ft @15% aint much, people used to move safes that weighed tons with good old brute force and the proper application of mechanical advantage

We need to study these cycles more, not just the human one but others. We need to take a more systems level approach and figure out how to turn what was waste into something more usable. Then we can start to improve the these cycles. I enjoyed an article on this site posted a while about about using the carbon cycle in a interesting way. I don't think its completely practical, hell maybe not even realistic but I like the thinking of using different processes together into a closed loop system that makes sense.
Plenty of people on this planet are using muscle-powered machines today, so for them there is no "going back" required.

Walking through Nepal I saw many sawpits, where 2 men with a 2 handed saw cut trees into lumber, while other men used hand planes and drawknives to finish them.

There are a couple of billion people on Earth who have not been reached by the industrial revolution. Clearly there will not be fossil resources available to bring them to US standards of consumption.

In a hopeful future, the campesinos hand plowing in Peru, Nepal, Bolivia, and Africa would be running PV powered electric tractors, but if it has not happened yet, I am not sure that it will ever happen.

I wasn't trying to make the point that human labor can not produce results. I made the point that the same results can generally be had for less energy input by using machines. The reason for this is ultimately biochemical... ALL energy on Earth comes either from the sun or gravitational/kinetic energy stored in the solar system (I do exclude nuclear energy but one can argue that even nuclear energy ultimately comes from the stars). The only way to tap into the more useful solar fraction is through a photon absorption, electronic state excitation mechanism. Biochemistry changes chemical compounds to get electrons into states of higher energy... PV moves electrons directly. The direct mechanism is far superior to the former but requires construction materials that evolution had no access to i.e. semiconductors and good electrical conductors (alternatively thermodynamic engines and magnetic materials would do the job, but that, too, is hard for nature).

So nature made a compromise... she lets life get away with a low efficiency and it works fine... to a point. Humans have way surpassed the point where nature's recipes work. We need hard technology to make large amounts of energy work for us the way we like. We have already learned how to. But unfortunately, nature also left us with a Danaergeschenk of "free" energy that are the corpses of life that lived millions of years ago. We took the gift and made poor use of it. Now it is becomming obvious that it won't last forever and those of us who have little foresight and are not quite grown up, yet, are pissed about it. Everyone else, and I count myself amongst the latter, just keeps looking forward to changing our ways and living without that gift. And that change does not involve Yaks and wooden wheels on carts. It does involve thin films of semiconductors on sheets of glass and more aerodynamic blades for wind turbines.

It is as simple as that.

"I wasn't trying to make the point that human labor can not produce results. I made the point that the same results can generally be had for less energy input by using machines. "

If this was literally true we would all stop walking anywhere and instead get around in electric powered wheelchairs. We do not all sit in electric wheelchairs and even the use of autos to replace our legs has massive health and economic costs and is fast hitting the point of diminishing returns.

Muscle-powered systems have the advantages of simplicity and operating on widely available plant energy. Chasing down the whole chain of complexity from a PV panel to a battery to an electric vehicle explains why this alternative is so expensive in the real (not ideal fantasy) world.

In the real world, bicycling is faster than car driving once the total working  hours to pay for autos and their infrastructure is included, at most people's pay rates. Many other muscle-powered machines are more efficient when the total system parameters are evaluated. An electric can-opener costs more to purchase, more to operate, breaks sooner, costs more to dispose of (even if this cost is socialized/subsidized),etc. In the big picture, a manual can opener is much more efficient in its' use of energy and materials than an electric can opener, but the marketers have 4 hours of each day to convince the "consumers" of the opposite, and most people buy it.

I am well aware that there are many mechanized systems that the wealthy world will not abandon for manual labor, but the optimum response to scarcity will include much conservation and simplified hybrid systems. Every person choosing to walk to the corner bar for a drink instead of driving to Bennigan's is substituting human labor for a machine and making a choice that is good for economic, physical, and community health.

As far as I can tell the people in the US did stop walking as soon as they can get their first car and never walk again (I don't call walking from the parking lot to your office a walk). And later in life they move from the car right into the mobility scooter. So it is not always electric vehicles but often enough it is gas powered ones.


"In the real world, bicycling is faster than car driving once the total working  hours to pay for autos and their infrastructure is included, at most people's pay rates."

So you mean that once you get on a bike you don't have to work for a living any longer? Great, I will tell my employer that I have become a cyclist now and they better continue paying my salary even though I won't show up for work.  

I don't have a car, by the way... I pay $100 per month for all of my commute... thus the expense is paid off in approx. a day of work or so (including tax contributions for roads etc.). So if I divide that day by 20 working days a month, I should save 8h/20 = 0.4 hours a day if I ride a bike (not counting the cost of the bike...). Since my commute is 25 miles one way, according to your argument I should be able to achieve an average speed of 50miles/0.4hours = 125mph on my bike to break even. I think I will need to buy a better helmet before I try that stunt.


"I am well aware that there are many mechanized systems that the wealthy world will not abandon for manual labor, but the optimum response to scarcity..."

Why do you automatically assume "scarcity"? This is not a cheap gore movie to scare the bejeesus out of you for your entertainment. PO is a reality that has nothing to do with scarcity and everything to do with converting the world's energy and transportation infrastructure to something more sustainable. And that will cost a lot of money, all of which will ADD to the GDP, not subtract from it.

Your math looks messed up. E.g. an electric motor may convert 85% of the electric power input into mechanical power output, but where did the electric power input come from? E.g. if it came from a coal fired electric power generator, I guess maybe we need to look at what fraction of the sun's input millions of years ago got turned into chemical energy in the coal, and then look at the efficiency of the coal to electric transformation?

If you want to compare solar to mechanical end-to-end transformation, maybe call PV 30% times motor 90% to get 27%. That would be the thing to compare against your 0.15%.

There is no way to go back

We don't live in a one dimensional world! Of course time will continue flowing in the usual direction. But the general situation in the world tends to bounce around rather chaotically.

The trend over the last ten thousand years is for per capita energy consumption to rise, with the total population rising too.

The possibilities over the next few centuries seem to fall roughly into:

1. total human energy consumption will continue to rise

1.A. we will find new sources of energy on earth and new ways to exploit them.

1.B. we will harvest extraterrestrial energy sources, e.g. launch orbiting solar collectors to capture solar energy that doesn't land on earth, etc.

2. total human energy consumption will not continue to rise

2.A. the population will continue to rise, but per capita energy consumption will plummet.

2.B. per capita energy consumption will continue to rise, but the population will plummet

2.C. neither population nor per capita consumption will continue to rise.

I cannot see how any of these possibilities can be dismissed summarily with any kind of "no way".

Why does the power for the motor have to come from a coal fired plant? It can as well come from a wind turbine or a solar cell. What is wrong with that?

"If you want to compare solar to mechanical end-to-end transformation, maybe call PV 30% times motor 90% to get 27%. That would be the thing to compare against your 0.15%."

OK... let's compare that. PV is really more like 15% at the moment. Motor is, say, 80%. So that gets us 12%, which is "only" 80 times better than 0.15%. I guess an 80 fold improvement is not worth anything in your books? Where does it start to pay off, then? 200 fold? 1000 fold?

"But the general situation in the world tends to bounce around rather chaotically."

How so? Do we revert to a 17ths century shepperd's life in leap-years? I haven't noticed. Energy use tends to be a rather smooth function. It goes up an down a few percent with seasonal changes and tends to grow slowly but steadily over time in annual and decadal averages. But maybe the statistics I know lie?

1. True.

1A. Unlikely.

1B. That is scifi. And bad scifi at that.

2. Nope.

2A. Define "plummet". Electricity consumption in CA, for instance is pretty constant, yet standard of living has increased. If "plummet" means 10 fold... the answer is nope. If it means 50%, the answer is maybe. And this is certainly to be regionally differentiated.

2B. Nope.

2C. Nope.

"I cannot see how any of these possibilities can be dismissed summarily with any kind of "no way"."

By reading the statistics and the models of people who analyze these things for a living.

Energy use tends to be a rather smooth function. It goes up an down a few percent with seasonal changes and tends to grow slowly but steadily over time in annual and decadal averages. But maybe the statistics I know lie?

That's the question, for sure! When you're on the nice smooth upward path of an exponential growth, things look steady enough! What danger could there be in extrapolation? How could the statistics lie?

I suppose it could be a variety of selection bias. That's what I understand Jared Diamond is trying to do with Collapse, is to work at getting past the selection bias. What went up in the past has very often also come down. Of course there has never before been such a grand global expansion on the present scale, 6 billion people and all the rest of it.

Statistical analysis is a nice enough tool but you really want to be aware of its limits. How you frame the problem you're analyzing, that is one key. If you're playing poker, you might know all the combinatorics of card combinations. But if the other folks at the table have large caliber weapons and get really grumpy when they lost money, maybe a timely reframing of the problem is called for.

You seem to be troubled by extrapolation. So am I, when it is done by stupid people and for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, extrapolation and simulation in the hand of knowledgable people work just fine. Engineers do it all the time. Most of the bridges they build hold, the computers built with it work. Glad you noticed...

"How you frame the problem you're analyzing, that is one key."

I tend to frame my problems conservatively. I am a scientist and engineer. I don't play poker... exactly because I know that the house always wins.


"Conservativism" covers a wide spectrum! Relying on solutions that have been in place and working for hundreds of years, with no resource limits in sight, that is really conservative.

So you, IP, are clearly an advocate of photovoltaics. I am sure happy to vote for whatever looks like it will work the best! Not that anybody really cares about my vote! PV is a moderately conservative technology. It's been in the field working for decades. But somehow it hasn't been scaled up in a massive way. I don't know the numbers, but surely the contribution today of PV to the total world energy budget is under 1%.

What do you see as the biggest risks and limiting factors to the expansion of PV?

If the cost of PV stays fixed, of course at some point the cost of fossil fuel use is expected to rise so that PV will be preferable. So in that natural way, the fraction of energy generated by PV will grow over the coming decades.

However, these costs are not funny money. It's nice that the increase in the cost of energy will be limited by the availability of PV, but if energy really does get that expensive, that will be a radical change in our way of living. I spent quite some time studying the Real Goods catalog and fanatisizing about what kind of off-grid cabin might I build. But then multiply the personal shift involved out to all the systems like agriculture and medicine through which we create our world - a massive shift to PV, at today's prices, would be a massive change in our world.

One downside, it even looks like PV may be getting more expensive. Do you understand what's up with the shortage of high purity silicon or is it the crystals? There is clearly some moderately fancy technology involved. Do you think that polycrystalline or amorphous is the smarter bet? There is the tradeoff curve between efficiency and initial investment - where do you see the sweet spot stabilizing?

Of course, the best thing would be if PV got a lot cheaper. Then we could continue to live with anything like our current energy consumption. Do you foresee big improvements in PV? You seem constantly to argue against technology that is associated with lower energy consumption, so I infer that you are confident that big improvements in PV - at least big cost reductions - are around the corner. What sort of improvements do you anticipate?

Relying on coming improvements is not what I would call conservative, but of course there is a wide spectrum here.

Anyway, I am sure that PV will continue to grow in importance. I haven't followed the technology much, after my initial disappointment from studying the Real Goods catalog! Maybe you could do an OilDrum lead article and review the history and prospects for PV technology!


When I spoke about conservatism I meant "good science and engineering". In another context I would have meant "using the least amount of resources to achieve a task".

"I don't know the numbers, but surely the contribution today of PV to the total world energy budget is under 1%."

Closer to a tenth of a percent, but like wind it is growing at  30-50% per year. The power of solar is in this growth and the ultimate potential. We can't grow hydrocarbons and we can't grow coal. We can grow wind and solar energy.

"What do you see as the biggest risks and limiting factors to the expansion of PV?"

Ultimately the challenge is the intermittancy. But that won't kick in until renewables exhaust the flexibility in our electrical grids. That is at 15% if the numers I have heard are correct. You could nail me on this one... I haven't done enough of my homework, yet, to confirm it absolutely. My guess is that solar and wind can grow for another 20 years before they hit the hard base load limit. After that we need serious storage technologies to go beyond. Hydroelectric storage is probably the first choice, then chemical and thermal and maybe mechanical flywheels.

There is a challenge here. The limit where it matters just hasn't been approached, yet.

"If the cost of PV stays fixed, of course at some point the cost of fossil fuel use is expected to rise so that PV will be preferable. So in that natural way, the fraction of energy generated by PV will grow over the coming decades."

PV cost is high because it lacks enough investment into materials. Silicon and glass panes are expensive to make and facilities can not be expanded over night. You need vacuum deposition systems and ovens etc. to make these things. The required technology is owned by a few companies in the world and they can only ramp up at a finite speed. It would be different if the government would start a program like in WWII to build airplanes. I don't think it is necessary. The worst thing that could happen to PV is if the US government starts tempering with its market fundamentals. The fact that  demand is higher than supply indicates a healthy market. Let's hope it will stay that way.

I don't think there is much interaction between renewable energy prices and fossil fuels, yet. Renewables are too small. The customer base is different. I don't know when this will change. Probably not for the next 5-10 years.

There are certainly signs of political interaction in Europe. The Europeans are sincere about GW. They are also much more in a pickle than the US in terms of oil and gas dependence. They are obviously struggling to replace their energy infrastructure fast enough to meet their goals. We might see some of that struggle hit the US in a few years. I hope we do. It would be a sign that we actually have goals...

"There is the tradeoff curve between efficiency and initial investment - where do you see the sweet spot stabilizing?"

I think the world is better off with giant amounts of dirt cheap 12% cells than ultra-expensive 40% cells. But it depends. If you are building a concentrator in the desert, you need 400 sun cells with max. efficiency to get the most out of your mirrors. For a single family residence in Boston, the solar water heater is probably the better technology to begin with. Far cheaper, too, and likely to be  more useful for the common good. Whatever saves substantial amounts of natural gas might actually be the winner.

Personally I don't believe in massive shifts. The shift from the large Buick to the tiny Toyota in the 1970s was as fast as it gets. The same is happening, again. This time it is the hybrid Toyota etc.. Again it will take a decade to make a visible difference. Same for solar energy. I don't expect to see PV on every roof for another 20-30 years. Probably by the time I am an old man the Earth will start to breathe easier. It would be nice to see that. Clean skies over our cities...

"Do you foresee big improvements in PV?"

Theoretical efficiency is 95%. Achieved efficiency for PV is  40%. Affordable residential efficiencies are 12-15%. If we start building new homes with 2kW arrays at 12% and put the same type of arrays on top of malls, parking lots and wherever there is unused areas, we will see significant easing in the energy sector within two decades. These cells will last for 30 years after which we can replace them with cheap cells with probably 30-40% efficiency. I don't know if we will go beyond that kind of efficiency. I don't know if we have to... certainly not without equally improved storage technology. It might be a good idea to make IR reflecting cells. They ease the thermal load on the cell without costing efficiency.

Just in case you haven't already seen this:


It's a study by KPMG commissioned by Netherlands Greenpeace on solar energy. As I recall, they recommend some kind of government subsidy to kickstart volume production and the resulting reduction in unit cost.

"The human body as an engine has a peak efficiency of approx. 15%. The fuel required to operate a human body as a "power generator" is grown under enormous energy input. Plants have an efficiency of approx. 1% and conversion to steak and pork chop (the main foods of the American worker) has an efficiency of less then 10%. So in total the human body has an efficiency between its power source, the sun and the final mechanical output of 15%*1%*10%=0.015%. Even if we include beans, this is not higher than 0.15%. On average the human body therefor performs as a machine with at best 0.1% efficiency. A well built ICE has 20-30% efficiency. An electric motor 80-90%."

"Howstuffworks" says that humans are actually quite efficient.  It suggests that marathon runners actually get about 300mpg, and cyclists can get over 1000mpg.  What's your source for 15%?

In this article a UC Berkeley professor says "In photosynthesis, nature has achieved an energy transfer efficiency of approximately 97 percent, and we'd like to know how this is done."  What's your source for 1%?

This article at Physorg.com says that meat is between 10 and 33% efficient in terms of protein.  This website of the Chinese IIASA suggests that energy efficiency varies by animal and feed, and says in China (pork and poultry) it's around 33%.  What's your source?

In your calculation, aren't you assuming an all meat diet?  Why that assumption?

When you say that ICE's are 20-30% efficient, isn't that ignoring the energy required to extract and refine the fuels?  When you say that electric motors are 80-90% efficient, isn't that ignoring the energy required to extract and refine the fuels, burn them to produce electricity, and transport the electricity?  I can, and do, grow a good deal of food in my yard.  I don't produce much fossil fuel or electricity (and where I live, I'm not likely to either).  The transportation losses should probably be included as well.  Are you including those?

"It suggests that marathon runners actually get about 300mpg".

A marathon runner weighs approx. 100lbs. He gets 30,000mpglbs. A Prius weighs 2890 lbs. The prius gets 60mpg and thus makes 173,400mpglbs. That is 5.78 times better. I would say you are simply comparing apples and oranges.



cite 14-27% for muscle efficiency. When I exercise I tend to use the lower number because I do not have the metabolism of an athlete after a decade of training. My rowing machine has the caloric conversion factor set to 15%-16%. I think that is about right for most people.

"In this article a UC Berkeley professor says "In photosynthesis, nature has achieved an energy transfer efficiency of approximately 97 percent, and we'd like to know how this is done."  What's your source for 1%?"

You need to read up on photosynthesis. The professor talks about one tiny element of a very complex reaction chain between photon and ATP molecule that happens to be very efficient. The rest isn't. See e.g.


where you get an estimate of between 3%-6% for photosynthesis itself. Unlike solar cells plants do not grow all year long in most locations, so their exposure to sunlight is less then 100%. 80% might be very good, 50% probably more realistic for culture plants like corn. So that makes this 1.5-5% at best.

Now you have to add all the energy input into that for modern farming and your EROEI is somewhere around 1%. Maybe it is 2% for the best farming methods and ideal plants. I will give you that.

"This article at Physorg.com says that meat is between 10 and 33% efficient in terms of protein."

The article talks about PROTEIN, not energy. Most plants produce starch, oil and cellulose efficiently. Protein from plants is a more cumbersome matter. Which is one of the reasons why people don't need to eat much protein at all... our biochemistry is evolved to run well on an energy rich carbohydrate and fatty acid diet. Among the protein sources we have it is more important to get those amino acids that we can't synthesize ourselves than to overdose the others.

"In your calculation, aren't you assuming an all meat diet?  Why that assumption?"

Dr. Artkins said you shall only eat red meat. :-)

Seriously... you can put in the best case assumptions and not get much higher than a few tenths of a percent from photons to humans. I don't really care. There is an order of magnitude you can do worse. I don't care much about that, either. The starving people in Africa do. I don't. My argument stays valid no matter how much you try to twist the numbers to your advantage.

I can twist the numbers, too, by the way:

The theoretical efficiency from black body radiation at 5600K to electricity using a thermodynamic process like the one in a solar cell into a 350K temperature bath is 94.1%. Solar cells will never get much better than 90%, unless we learn how to cool them into free space. But they can already be made with 40% efficiency if you don't mind the expense, so we are almost halfway to theoretical efficiency. For a really good solar site that makes close to 200W/m^2*0.9=180W  CONTINUOUS.  

"When you say that ICE's are 20-30% efficient, isn't that ignoring the energy required to extract and refine the fuels?"

Yes. But for the sake of my argument it does not matter because the fuel could be biodiesel. In which case the energy to make that biodiesel is the same as the energy to make your salad oil. The ICE still wins by a comfortable margin, especially since it does not have to support a body and a brain. Keep in mind that you need 100W constantly just to stay alive. Let's say a hard worker can produce 150W for eight hours in mechanical work on top of that. So that would require 100W*24h+3.3*150W*8h = 6360Wh to run that "worker" for a day, assuming a muscle efficiency of 30%. He gives us an EROEI of 150W*8h=1200Wh... or 18.9%. So that would be your super-athlete with high efficiency muscle. In reality it looks more like this: 100W*24h+6.7*100W*8h = 7760Wh vs. 100W*8h=800Wh in return, i.e. EROEI = 10.3%. That would be me. And I would feel extremely tired after that and wouldn't show up the next day...


I don't think your legs are coordinated enough.  Sawing is repetitive and boring, but doesn't require high strength.  The key is to keep the blade sharp and lubricated, and avoid binds. (well, I think we'll have enough oil for that for a while).  For getting my firewood, I estimate 90% of the gas goes into my pickup, and 10% into the chain saw.
Here is the link to the Pedal Powered Prime Mover:
One more "invention" that is going to change the world...


And while you keep being cute and snarky, he's cutting wood..

"Noisy but extremely efficient, I have powered 12v CHAIN SAWS directly (yes, while someone else cut wood with them) with this unit.(1) Pedaling position was similar to a bicycle. The seat is barely visible at the upper left of the photo, and the handlebars (dropped, as on a ten speed road bike) are at the upper right.

"Burst output: 25 amps at 17 volts (425 Watts) at 25 years old, and 265 Watts at 52 years old.

"30 minute average output (back when I was in shape) 150 Watts

I can do 250W burst on my rowing machine, too, without training. A good rower can probably do 450 or more. A cyclist does 400W for an hour or so.

A tiny little electrical engine weighing ten lbs. can do 1kW for 10,000h... after which you can replace the bearings and it will go on for another 10,000.

A large electical machine can do 10MW...

What are you trying to prove? That you have arms of steel? Try pushing a freight train. Let's see if you can compete with the engine.


" Some 40,000 school children in Mozambique will soon be `spinning' into a healthier future with clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.

... "As children spin a carousel while they play, they pump borehole water into a tank for use by the school and surrounding communities."


--  The thing is, Infinite.. I'm trying to see what point you've been trying to make.  It's like you've said it doesn't make sense to rely on our own energies, because it's not enough.  Of course, we HAVE to use our bodies.. it's an essential of life.. and I doubt you disagree with that.  People who get to use their bodies vigorously are generally much happier for it, even if it broke into their established comfort zones initially.  And you also get to have both, or said more fully, in a future without the benefits of these quantities of Petrol to do our bidding for us, we will need to assemble every tool we can get, INCLUDING solar and wind, but also INCLUDING simple, smart pedalling tools, classic saws, etc, etc..

As McDonough said,  "It'll take all of us, and it'll take forever.. but isn't that the point?"

I am trying to say that it would be better to get a solar pump for the water and send the children to school. That is where children belong. Not in a hamster wheel... no matter how you call it.



How about a combuster to make woodgas and provide a cooking surface.  This combined with horses or mules could provide an energy source to cook as well as fuel for chainsaws.  This is assuming no petroleum is available.  However even when gas is $20 gallon it will be economical to buy gas to cut wood.  (wood will increase in value)

I have cut trees with axes and with chainsaws and I have seen a mill powered by 4 mules walking in a circle that reassembled into a wagon drawn by the same mules.

I just don't think your bicycle idea is practical given the existance of handsaws and axes both of which are highly portable and easy to manufacture.  Both also allow you to get out of the way of a tree and do not easily break in the process of felling a tree.  Imagine your contraption under a heavy tree.  The repair and maintainence of this device would be on par with a chainsaw, so given that why not use a chainsaw?


It will be interesting to see what the nation's forrest will look like AFTER the day when 100 million people go in there to cut their weeks worth of firewood... IF there will be any forrests left.
Another straw man argument.......

Where in my post did I suggest that the US can convert to wood as a primary fuel source?  I was talking about the advantages of one tool for cutting wood over another.

There is a lot of wood in the us and properly managed forests are a near zero input source of biofuels.

This is not the only or even a complete solution but scrap wood and dead wood is a fuel that makes sense.

Cut one plant two.

I did not attack you specifically. I was trying to say that burning wood is not a general solution. I apologize if that came out wrong.

But even burning dead wood is a source of CO2 we won't be able to afford for much longer. We need the trees to sequester carbon. And that carbon has to go back into some geological form... one way or another. I have to leave it to the ecologists to figure out how that can be accomplished.

But GW is a problem that goes way beyond PO...

Cut one, plant two? You have my vote for that! By all means.

That means both trees survive....

Dead trees make CO2 whether they do it in your woodstove or slowly as they rot.  You might as well harness the BTU's.  If everyone with land planted trees and the trees were harnessed at the end of their lifecycle for lumber this is one silver BB.  Byproducts from the lumber/paper industry make a good solid fuel to displace a little petroleum.



I made the same comment to Infinite above about decaying wood and the release of CO2.

Burning wood is CO2 neutral. Burning coal, oil, tar sands, or shale is not.

While both dead trees and burned trees emit co2, burned trees do it in a matter of hours while dead trees do it over a period of decades.  So, we take decades to grow trees and then we release all that co2 in a matter of hours.  The problem will be over the next several decades.  The problem is that we are concentrating all this release in a short time frame.  The fact that there may be co2 neutrality over decades is of little help to the situation.

For that matter, coal is co2 neutral, but sadly, over milennia.

That makes no sense.

Burning wood displaces FF use.  If you burn dead trees or byproducts of the lumber paper industry and activly plant trees, this lowers the amount of CO2 newly introduced into the atmosphere.  If one tree a day is burned for ten years or 3650 trees rot for ten years the same amount of carbon is released.  The difference is we harness BTU's for our use if we burn them.

Again we need to plant 2 trees for every one we burn.

Instead of burning wood you can simply put PV and thermal solar collectors on your roof and be done with the heating problem.

There are better ways than to cut down a tree, you know. Just because you grandfather did it does not mean you have to.

Plant PV and you don't have to cut any trees. How about that?

Do a cost analysis:

Tree saplings $0-40.  

Chain saw $100

So cut down aged or sick trees or cut up trees that have already fallen and plant a few more in their place.

PV system for house $20k

How much sunlight does Wisconsin get in a blizzard?

I would like to see every south facing roof in the US have solar if it makes sense, I would also like to see stewardship of our trees.  Read the Lorax.


It will be interesting to see what the nation's forrest will look like AFTER the day when 100 million people go in there to cut their weeks worth of firewood... IF there will be any forrests left.

The implications of such a scenario aren't lost on most of us, IP.  I, for one, am not looking forward to sitting up nights in a tree stand when it is ten below zero outside, trying to defend my little patch of woods from firewood poachers (ever see "Dr Zhivago?").  Believe me when I say I'm hoping that you technology-and-the-indomitable-human-spirit-will-solve-everything guys get busy and come up with an affordable, minimally-polluting alternative to carbon-based fossil fuels.

(Pssst...hurry up.  Times-a-wasting!)

Sadly, they seem to be lost on the US president... and a lot of the political leadership who still think that ecological and energy supply problems are best countered by giving out pork to corn farmers... and I don't mind to support corn farmers, at all... I just would like the corn to be made available to people around the world who are hungry rather than see it burned in oversized engines.

As you can see... I am very concerned about these mindsets in the US which see problems generally as ways to enrich one special interest group at the expense of the country.

I, for one, am not looking forward to sitting up nights in a tree stand when it is ten below zero outside, trying to defend my little patch of woods from firewood poachers (ever see "Dr Zhivago?").

I can't imagine that.
Fire wood is heavy, hard to cut and hard to move.

I can't imagine anyone coming into your woods to steal fire wood, its too much work. Maybe your neighbours cheating over the property line. But if you are in the position where you have to shoot your neighbours over wood, than your position isn't viable anyway.

Firewood thefts are a reality in Minnesota; this was especially true when lots of people began heating with wood in the winter of 1973-74. Typically somebody pulls up in a pickup truck (at night or when occupants are away) in a rural area and steals firewood that has been cut, split, and stacked. Garden and farm thefts are not unknown; my best friend had all of his corn stolen one fall from a big garden near Mankato, Minnesota some years ago.

Siphoning of gasoline was a big problem too in the 1970s, especially in small towns and rural areas.

People will steal your stuff--if they can get away with it.

I guess I was imagining someone sitting in a deerstand all night watching for wood poachers trying to cut down his trees.

Stealing cut and stacked wood didn't enter my mind.

But when you put it that way, and with the anecdotal evidence, I guess yeah, I can see it.

I'd sure be pissed if I woke up and all my corn was gone!

Leanan, many apologies if you have posted a link to an article for this already, but today, whilst walking the streets of Hong Kong, I saw a China Daily headline, which read something like: 'BIOFUELS WILL NOT GROW 'AT EXPENSE OF' FOODGRAINS'.

China Daily is an official Mainland (i.e. PRC) mouthpiece. So, being a TOD addict, this was interesting. Is China investing in biofuels? How? Why?

By way of mea culpa, I will say that the apology is necessary, as I have indulged in some 'biofuels' of the human kind, derived of the sacred grape...
Good for you, Franz!  

... and no apology is necessary.

Yes, China is investing in biofuels, and there has been a lot of media coverage of the food vs. fuel issue with regard to China.  
The American empire is in between a rock and a hard place. The era of capitalism has reached it's endgame.
This seems very much like a "Generals fighting the last war" comment.  IMO, both "empire" and "capitalism" are obsolete terms.  We have neither right now.

We have post-capitalist (and post-communist) globalization.

It is no more perfect than the structures that came before it.

People who like to talk about "the end of capitalism" and the "American empire" are usually those who have failed to educate themselves about the problem and its solution. They are also the ones who add absolutely nothing of value to the discussion.
Hello IndyDoug-
The Grand ol' Man Hubbert himself wrote a famous essay that first decribed how the rate of growth of the capitalist economy (and indeed of real interest generally) closely paralled the rate of growth of energy usage in said economies.  He then goes on to decribe how the co-existing intellectual systems of Finance, rooted in exponetially increasing debt, and the Laws of Physics which constrain us with Conservation-of-Energy and Entropy have been compatible to date date b/c the growth curve of energy use has suppplied the wherewithal for the growth curve of capitalism.  He then goes on to state that when the supply on energy goes into decline, the mathematical growth of interest will collide with energy decline.  As C. Campbell succinctly put it, "Tomorrow's growth is collateral for today's debt".  When it becomes apparent to lenders that future growth won't happen, how can they make new loans?  How can current loans even be serviced?  In the long run, a montary system based on interest cannot persist in a stable fashion (other than repeating cycles of "bloom and doom" (did I make up that phrase?)) in a finite world without abundant energy stores to plunder.

You say "The era of capitalism has reached it's endgame."  Could be.  Long term it a certainty.  But doomers (I basically count myself among them) have a history of overcalling and prematurely calling events.  E.g., I recall in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that Jan Lundberg forecasted the economic collapse of the US by July, 2006.
I myself thought the Titanic hit the iceberg then.  But here we are.

I don't know when Capitalism and the American empire will truly enter a decline phase, but they can still make life miserable if you don't pay your bills on time.

The rate of energy decline will probably be a key factor in determinig the crisis level, and we don't know what that will be.

I wouldn't underestimate the power of inertia, the delaying effects of stop-gap measures, partial adaptations, mal-adaptations, and muddling through with ever-increasing dysfunction until something big breaks.  Keep your day job.

The interesting thing is that American capitalism is not at all threatened by an energy crisis. If it is threatened at all, it is threatened by Chinese capitalism which has the incredible advantage of a far superior labor market and a far larger internal growth market than the US.

The second interesting notion is that if American capitalism will survive the onslaught of Chinese capitalism it will probably only be svaed by an energy and raw materials shortage that will limit Chinese growth far more than US growth.

It always amazes me how short sighted people become in their analysis of a problem once they zero in on the wrong splinter of information.


I gather you think that Peak Oil is a "splinter of information", and a wrong one at that.  And your argument is merely a denial, not a refutation.  You didn't even bother dragging out the old "Need energy? Get technology" shibloleth.

You have earned a prime spot in my "Do Not Bother to Read" list with Hothgor, Freddy Hutter, Hugo Chaves and Dan Ur.  

Do all trolls end their posts with smiley faces?  Or do only trolls post them?

No. Peak oil is an important piece of information. But it has little bearing on the question why China's economy prospers much faster than the US economy. Capitalist success is driven by cheap labor which they have and we lack. Manchester capitalism was made possible by slave labor, not by cheap energy. Marx knew that and he based his theory on the relationship of economy and work. Therefor using "capitalism" as a keyword in the PO discussion is, IMHO, a waste of time.

If we need to fall back on "isms", at all, PO is a matter of "consumerism" more than anything. It will mostly require the consumers to change their ways by making choices based on the fuel efficiency of cars rather than volume, weight or looks.

If you are worried about the world's oil reserves, you can do something rather simple: buy a small car. The capitalists of the world, the Toyotas, Hondas and yes, even the Fords (!) are giving you choices! They have been giving you choices for many years. You, by which I mean the consumer, did not take them... what else can I say?

Now... there is a lot of talk how the car companies killed the electric car. But honestly, how many would buy one? How many people are buying a Prius compared to an SUV right now? So what makes us think that if electric vehicles were available, people would buy those and not semi-trucks?

What is getting the US in trouble is consumerism where buying goods is more important than making them. See the trade deficit... Americans are supposed to hit $450 billion in Christmas sales this year. I wonder how much of those "presents" are "Made in USA"? In comparison, our oil imports are some $300 billion. In other words... if something is killing our economy, right now, it is Christmas, not PO.

I do end on a smiley face when I am amused. I have to say that I was quite amused by the misdirected imagination of the original post.

ummm...isn't slave labor a form of cheap energy? You have to feed the slaves I guess, but not very much if they are expendable and easily replaced, ie "cheap"
You seem to make some spurious distinction between capitalism and consumerism. In fact, consumerism is the sine qua non of modern capitalism. Without consumerism, all markets would long ago have been entirely saturated and growth would have stopped. Unless people are endlessly brainwashed into chasing an ever-expanding array of so-called 'needs', modern capitalism cannot work.
IIRC, Galbraith defined "consumer capitalism" as one of his stages of post-production-capitalism.  I believe "macro-managed capitalism" followed that, as the post-WWII variation.

This Galbriath appreciation helps show why I think "capitalism" as a descriptive term in and of itself has limited value:


Production capitalism is not consumer capitalism, consumer capitalism is not macro-managed capitalism, and macro-managed capitalism is not globalized capitalism.  Etc.

If it (American capitalism) is threatened at all, it is threatened by Chinese capitalism

That is an interesting statement, especially given that "globalization" was supposed to "lift all boats."

No, the real problem -- the one that has not been acknowledged by mainstream "thinkers" -- is that there isn't enough plunder on the planet to support 6+ billion "middle class" folks.  Peak oil will change that.  When PO hits, the cat will come out of the bag.

"That is an interesting statement, especially given that "globalization" was supposed to "lift all boats.""

Actually... it is. The US is doing better since globalization has set in big time because of the flood of cheap goods available to it. If not for Walmart, the dollar would be worth much less. And the Chinese are profiting big time from it, more so than most other countries. Of course the stream of money follows the steep gradients and mostly goes to the poor countries who know how to play in the market. That was inevitable. And yet... even we are getting our fair share of it.

"is that there isn't enough plunder on the planet to support 6+ billion "middle class" folks. "

That depends on the definition of "middle class". The US does not have much of a middle class, any more. We have 30% of the population without health insurance and any number of millionaires and billionaires. The people inbetween are either struggling to not become one of the poor or have their hands full to join the millionaires.

PO has nothing to do with the planet's resources. It has a lot to do with not making good use of them. PO is as much an economic as it is a geological phenomenon. The geology we can't change, but the economics of it we can change quite easily. One way is to introduce much higher gas taxes. But that topic is easily avoided in much of the discussion about it because it is much more pleasant to look at depletion curvers than it would be to shell out $6/gallon at the gas station.

There isn't enough plunder on the planet to support 6+ billion "middle class" folks.

Interesting that you should choose that word, "plunder".

I was listening to a radio talk show this morning discussing "conservative" principles and values.

I started thinking about the psycho-linguistics of the word "conservative". What is it that they actually "conserve"? Nothing much in fact. They are instead the party of "burn and plunder". They burn oil and conduct wars. The wars are ones of pillages and plunders.

And then one has little left in wonders ... on why the world thinks so highly of our "conservative" values and blunders.

Instead of making a all encompassing statement like that maybe you could in detail describe how cheap energy did not fuel current American economic growth and what exactly did. Then once you figure that out you can let us know why cheap oil was not a major factor in economic growth and what really was a main factor.
Actually... I thought it was up to those who make a statement to prove it. Can you please prove to us that the US economy would not be booming without 5.8l V8s?
in the long run, a montary system based on interest cannot persist in a stable fashion (other than repeating cycles of "bloom and doom" (did I make up that phrase?))

You may have made it up but some enterprising young attorney is about to go trademark it! Muahahahaha!!!

bTW, great post.

Just a few context-free thoughts on the timing of Peak-Oil-induced trouble:

Trouble for the world begins with higher oil prices - it acts like a tax on almost everything, leaving less to spend on other things - for some people in the developing countries it will even be buy-the-oil-at-any-price-or-die.

But when will prices begin to rise dramatically?

  • The naive person thinks trouble begins if we run out of oil.

  • A more informed person might think trouble begins if oil production peaks.

  • An even more informed person would say, no, trouble begins even earlier, if demand "outstrips" production, thereby forcing prices upwards to establish the unavoidable equilibrium of demand and supply.

  • An economist, as I have just learnt from a speech by Prof. Hamilton, would say trouble begins even earlier, that is, when the market anticipates any of the above conditions. It would then perform intertemporal arbitrage which results in current prices almost reflecting future prices of a resource now (newly and rightly) perceived as scarce.

  • (Then there is another, even more serious point of trouble that has not been sufficiently explored IMHO: peak per-capita net net energy - how much end-use energy actually gets through to very human being on the planet after all systemic losses have been accounted for?)

Are there other "breaking points"? Ealier? Later?



And a person who actually took the time to inform himself on the scientific level will say that there is no trouble at all. There is simply the need to redesign our energy generation and transmission system. That is a very well defined technological and social engineering task for which partial solutions could have been put in place for the last 30 years. Higher milage standards and a gas tax acting as a wedge between supply and demand driven pricing would have reduced US dependency of oil imports at least twofold while leading to higher prosperity. And for the past ten years solutions to convert from a low efficiency hydrocarbon to a high efficiency hydrocarbon and finally electricity dominated transportation infrastructure could have been implemented.

Many of the options of the past have passed. The remaining ones are not very attractive to mindless consumers used to waste. As a result there is a lot of talk around the issues as if further avoidance could solve the issue faster and less painfully. That, as many will find out, is not the case. The time for action is now. Plenty of people understand that and are driving smaller cars already. Everyone else will follow that path as soon as oil prices will reach the next level.

Well, obviously, a prerequisite for rising prices under any of the mentioned conditions is that there is no or too little mitigation in place (which seems to be the case if PO happens soon).

Given the asumption, I was talking about when would the economic price signal set in. Looking at my list I would say it could theoretically even be a while before the actual peak happens, that is, when a majority of the market's players starts to accept the eventual finiteness of CO.



Lukoil agrees acquisition of 376 ConocoPhillips petrol stations in Europe

Russian oil company Lukoil OAO said it has agreed the acquisition of 376 Jet-branded petrol stations from ConocoPhillips in Europe.

The deal, for which financial details were not disclosed, is due to complete in the second quarter of 2007.

Lukoil added that all the petrol stations, which are located in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, will be rebranded as Lukoil stations within two years.  


here in Finland, Esso (Exxon for you in US at least) has just sold all its gas stations to a finnish superstore company so that said company can extend its stations to Helsinki capital area. This superstore then continued to sell those stations it does not need to a cheap-price gas station business (they have mostly unmanned stations).

Sort of interesting symptom of things. Esso will probably continue with some activity here, perhaps in industry side? I do not have info on that... just guessing.

There was something in news that Esso people said they will like to withdraw from small markets. Hmm.


Jerome posted this on dKos yesterday:

Countdown to $100 oil (37) - OPEC says peak oil (and $100 oil) is near

In the most recent edition of the OPEC Bulletin, recently put online on the OPEC webline and which can be read here (120 page pdf - relevant bit on p.60), OPEC - via a senior member, i.e. Dr Shokri Ghanem, Chairman of the People's Committee, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) of Libya - addresses the issue of peak oil head on:

while some of the more pessimistic oil specialists are declaring that peak oil has already been passed, or at best is here now, others believe it is not going to arrive before 2010. Some optimists give the world a little more breathing space -- that is to say up to 2020, and perhaps even up to 2030. However, all in all, most would appear to agree that peak oil output is not very far away for all of us. It could take place sometime within the next decade or so, which in fact means that there is not much time left for a world economy to be driven largely by oil.


since peak oil output is not about the time at which oil will run out, but the time at which production can no longer be increased to cope with increased demand, it seems the only way the oil price can go is up.

This conclusion seems to be in line with the view held by the peak oil output advocates who argue that the ongoing oil price rises are mainly due to supply-demand imbalances. This is because we are at, or near, the production peak of world oil, if not on the downward slope of Hubbert's peak curve. This is not to deny the role of other factors (such as geopolitical), but only to stress the importance of supply and demand for crude oil as the prime factor in determining the price of the commodity.


For now, it's still in out hands. Soon, it will be too late. Prudence would suggest that we should at least think hard about it, even if only as insurance.

Why am I not seeing this all over the PO internets?

I think one of our contributors is working on a piece.
And when he or she posts that piece... let's not be surprised when someone who's conveniently aliased as Brutus or Rasputin or Beria (pick your scoundrel) starts hacking away.

After all... was Brutus not Shakespeare's most famous assassin?

Hmm, and I recall that another guy named "Will" wrote a play about Caesar and Brutus...  But unless someone wrote it yesterday, I have dibs on catching the cheesy allusion (at 12:33 up above).
Missed your posting up there <g>.

I assumed that everyone got the Brutus-character assassination subplot going on in ye olde Saudi thread. I was waiting for RR to pull out his well-thumbed Shakespeare and give that loser a bit of Mark Antony's speech.

Of course RR was a bit handicapped being in the wilds of Colorado and all <g>...

Yeah, I was surprised to not at least get "Et tu, Brute?"
eh tu brute'  ?
Oh shoot.  Just as I was writing that no one said it. :-)
This is worthy of an independent topic.  top opec officials are clearly on board, probably read tod at least occasionally.  More proof, if any was needed, that cery/lynch/xom are doing enormous disservice to the us public... one might say that their allegience is not to the us but to either a global empire or, worse, foreign gov.
The original Ghanem speech was made three months ago. Here are his thoughts from part of a Sept 25 PIW interview:

Q. Looking ahead 10-15 years, how do you see the global oil industry developing and what will Libya's role be within that process?

A. Trying to look in my crystal ball for 15 years, there are a lot of diverse views. But there's no question that there will be a continuous increase in demand. It's rather a question of whether the supply will be enough for this demand or not. There are the theories that so many people are talking about -- from peak oil to whether there is enough oil in certain countries, or whether we can we discover more oil. I tend to agree that it will not be easy to produce more than 100 million barrels per day. To produce more than that will need unconventional oil or the finding of more reserves, which I think will be at an even higher price. We know that demand from China, India and other developing countries is going to grow immensely so we know there is going to be steady demand growth, but there are questions about supply. Even to get to 100 million b/d could require significant investment in nonconventional oil. But don't forget that countries like Libya still have significant potential. We used to produce 3.5 million b/d but it went down to half of that, not because of depletion but because of embargoes and political factors. There are lots of possibilities to discover more in a country like Libya and if things settle down in Iraq there is a lot of potential for discoveries there also. But I don't see many other areas where a lot of oil could be found.

Reading between the lines you get the impression he's a 2012-15 peaker.

Another news article


Talks about 2007, Bears against Bulls

One of there interesting parts of the article was that Morgan Stanley found the market tends to understimate the price of oil in the following year.

So why are prices trending down anyway?


10 friends live secondhand for a year: Voluntary simplicity sparks backlash

They signed a "Compact" agreeing not to buy anything new for year, unless it was necessary for health or safety.  

Some have called the Compactors un-American, anti-capitalist, eco-freak poseurs whose defiant act of not-consuming, if it caught on, would destroy the economy and our way of life.

It would, of course...  

It's a measure of how far we have fallen that to simply talk about living within one's means, and to minimize one's consumption, is somehow considered un-American.
There's the bumper-sticker..

"Proud to be Un-American"

I'll put it next to..

"If you can read this, you're too well-educated"

Wanna destroy the American economy??  Simply eliminate Xmas...  (I'm not advocating any such thing, of course)
That would only destroy the Chinese economy and Walmart. And the layoffs in the retail sector would give plenty of merchandise stacking kids without any future the opportunity to go back to school and learn something real.
From the Economist, October 19, 2006:

"It is true that exports account for 40% of China's GDP, but those exports have a large import component; only a quarter of the value of China's exports is added locally. The impact of a slowdown in export growth would therefore be partially offset by a slowdown in imports. China's GDP growth has come mainly from domestic demand, which has been growing by an annual 9% in recent years."

Moreover, China's exports to Europe, about the same size a its exports to the U.S., are growing at a faster clip than its exports to the latter.  And of course China is exporting to all other points in the world.

You overestimate the relevance of the US economy to China, lessthaninfinitepossibilities.  It is my country, Canada, which is much more vulnerable to the current downturn in the U.S. economy, given that about 75% of our exports are US directed. It is a small consolation that this proportion has declined from 85% in the past decade.  So, alas, we are also on the road to perdition.

I hear there is a group that wants to have it renamed to "Celebrate our monkey ancestors day".
Sounds like a anti-china mart ploy.
I like it.  Indeed, Christmas in the U.S. seems to be more about our chimpanzee-like instincts to grab for anything that's shiny and new than about the birth of Christ.  Which was likely not in midwinter anyway.  
Christmas was moved from the spring to the winter solstice around the 4th Century CE.  'Church leaders' were trying to outmarket devotees of Mithras and other contenders for the  title.

I'd go on, but I wouldn't want the censors to keep TOD out of the schools because of a pagan presence.

Another incredibly balmy day in Baltimore. I got back last night just as the Ravens game let out, so there were lots of drunken fans in purple jerseys stumbling around the streets. Even into 7 PM, no overcoats were necessary.

We watched "An Inconvenient Truth" last weekend. The girl at the video store kept raving about how much she "enjoyed" it. I just raised an eyebrow and urged her to track down "The End of Suburbia."  

My college freshman stepdaughter thought it was the scariest thing she had ever seen.

What scared her?

The prognosis or the lack or realism in the end (with it's message of "we can all move back to the cities as the polluting steel mills are in China").

The new OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report is just out. Comparing it with last months report, OPEC production was down 610,000 barrels per day, October to November, from 29.45 mb/d to 28.84 mb/d. The largest cut came from Saudi Arabia, down 280,000 barrels per day from 9.03 mb/d to 8.75 mb/d.

The UAE cut production by 110,000 bp/d, Kuwait by 60,000 bp/d and Venezuela by 800,000 bp/d.

These figures can be found on the very last page of the PDF file.

Ron Patterson

Bush signs nuclear deal with India

WASHINGTON - President Bush signed legislation on Monday to let America share its nuclear know-how and fuel with India even though New Delhi refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

"By helping India expand its use of safe nuclear energy, this bill lays the foundation for a new strategic partnership between our two nations that will help ease India's demands for fossil fuels and ease pressure on global markets," Bush said in a bill-signing ceremony at the White House.

liquid hydrogen is produced fom water using solar power


BMW has cars that...

Run on water
Emit water vapor at the tailpipe
Fill automatically with robots
Use hydrogen made from sunlight

My local politicians love this stuff:

I'm preparing a reply to the Scottish / UK parliament - so any helpful comments would be welcome

Euan - TOD Europe


in the german press BMW is described as the only company trying to run cars by burning hydrogen.
Volkswagen and others are testing different kinds of hydrogen based fuel cells. Some are experimenting with methane fuel cells.

I've read a lot of comments saying that BMWs approach is monkey business because the hydrogen they burn is made from fossils, multiple quantities used to produce the hydrogen than which would be otherwise burned directly.

Run on water

Oh no, really not ..

Emit water vapor at the tailpipe

That holds for any fuel cell

Fill automatically with robots

and except the convenience, what's the advantage of that?

Use hydrogen made from sunlight

Reminds me of these guys trying to sell "100 per cent non-nuclear electricity" (it's true!) in Germany

My local politicians love this stuff:

.. yes .. they do..

Strangely I think the methane fuel cell is how the hydrogen saga might pan out. Both gases are hard to liquify so the development of lightweight tanks is a bonus.  Work has been done making proton exchange membrane cells more robust for automotive engines. While these engines are less reliable they are more thermally efficient than BMW's clunky ICE engines. Biomethane is about as lo-tech as you can get and it could be closed loop in carbon cycle terms...the fuel for the Third World. Fossil methane such as coalbed could be used in solid oxide fuel cells with CO2 capture. I'm saying BMW is in some sense pointing the way.
Hello TODers,

Project Murambatsvina {taking out the rubbish}--Vegas-Style, baby!  Got to keep the mindless tourist/consumer isolated from reality:
LAS VEGAS - This is a boomtown, but it is also scattered with signs of bust -- namely, homeless people. And the city is taking a hard line against them.

With mixed success in the courts and on the streets, Las Vegas has tried sweeping away their encampments, closing a park where they hang out, making it a crime to feed them, even passing a ban on sleeping within 500 feet of feces.

Goodman "has the idea that every homeless person is public enemy No. 1," said Greg Malm, a 58-year-old homeless man. "He wants this city to be lily white, for the tourists."

Over the years, the mayor has also proposed moving the homeless to an abandoned prison 30 miles outside the city and once accused Salt Lake City officials of busing the homeless to Las Vegas.

The Govt. should hire these homeless people to hand out Peakoil info sheets to the arriving tourists. sarcasm.

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

  When I worked in FL, we had several frequent flyer homeless people in the EMS system.  Most were homeless.  A couple of the medics got together and bought several bus passes to Atlanta.


My wife often accuses me of being obsessivley addicted to "Peak Oil" and mostly to TOD. So I want to throw it out there for possible discussion.

Can one become addicted to TOD (or to other blogs, chat rooms etc.)? Here is an interesting article on the topic:

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2006/tc20061214_422859.htm?campaign_id=techn_Dec15 &link_position=link22

I don't think addicted is a good word for this. Addiction to me implies chemical changes in the brain (occuring after ingestion of a chemical, or pleasure from sex or exercise)

There is a series of neurons in the brain they proved are stimulated and reinforced with addictive behavior. I'll look for the article.

Obsession or compulsion probably apply.  Many people are bored and this gives them a semi social atmosphere to interact.

"Obsession or compulsion probably apply.  Many people are bored and this gives them a semi social atmosphere to interact."

It actually stems from a much more basic need in the human psyche, that is, the need to get the damm last word in on any argument!  Of course, once you get the last word in, then there are no replies to your final post, so now your p.o.ed that no one read it and felt it interesting enough to respond to! :-)
So the message board type forum is an endless exercise in frustraton....

RC known to you as ThatsItImout

fo getta bout it. nobody's read your post. ghosts in the wind.

I was trying to be serious about the addiction question, but oh well, it must be the wrong cycle of the moon tonight. And after all, we're all lunatics.

I'm sure people can be addicted.  Or a chat/forum system can simply become part of our daily pattern ... which is interesting in itself.

Upstream there is a virtual, internet, discussion about how to cut down a tree without high technology.  How weird is that?

I think it's more escapism than addiction, but who knows ...

Hey, step, give me a break, the sense of humor has to kick in now and then...

I wasn't making light of the question, I am coming to believe that TOD is more addictive than most due to the chess game aspect of the whole energy thing...endless complex moves, mountains of impossible to decipher information, and the compelling "collapse of civilization" aspect...

I know I spend too much time on it, but then, if I were golfing or fishing, would I be "addicted" to that....(?)

I guess the healthy thing to do is spread your "addictions" out so that then you become by definition "well balanced".  Can you think of any other solutions.  By the way, when wives complain of the "addiction" thing, let's be honest, wha they are trying to say is that you have lost some of your addiction to paying attention to them, at least in their view....:-)

RC known to you as ThatsItImout

Endorphins and adrenaline are not chemicals?  
yes they are hence my reference to sex and exercise.  I don't believe my experiences at TOD count as either.  What about you?
I have seen stories on "argument" and those brain chemicals.  I believe they were referenced here on TOD as well.  We get a sort of fix from ideas we agree with, and another sort of fix from battling ideas antithetical to our own.

The fact that some arguments make us feel angry should be simple confirmation of that.  Anger is, as I understand it, primarily a chemical and not electrical brain response.

  Brain chemistry is complex.  For you to get "angry" you have to recieve information, decode it and then more things in different parts of your brains happen.  The Discovery channel had a good piece where people were engaging in various thought exercises while in an MRI.  You could see the activity.  Most brain activity is chemical and electrical.  I am refering to chemical changes over time, the depletion or increase of nuerotransmitter availability at each synapse.  This type of change is what I am refering to.  People have withdrawels and mood swings when they are without cocaine and nicotine and other similar drugs (which usually are psychoactive and fit our bodies own chemoreceptors.  Has anyone had DT's here when their internet is out?

Obsession and addiction are often paired but not mutually dependent.

I think there are some strange loops involved.  Here's one:

Hostile Personalities More Prone To Nicotine Addiction

ah, and here's the one I was referring to earlier:

Political Partisans Addicted To Irrational Defense Of Their Tribes

Combine those two and you have the troll-effect ;-)

to self-employed lawyers who are missing deadlines because of a fixation with Internet porn.

omg, they're onto me!!!

Keep your nose to those billable hours :-)
Not sure if this goes with today's DrumBeat, but there's a interesting chart over at Policy Pete showing the change in character of US oil production, in terms of barrels per day per well - down from a peak of 18.6 in 1972 to 10.1 in 2005. A difficult statistic to digest - not sure what it really says.

http://policypete.com/ third item down at the time of writing

Also interesting to click on the "recent readers" link and see if you can spot yourself - easy if you live somewhere obscure. Ah - someone there in Trinidad... someone else in Azerbaijan... neither of those is the plucky underdog, BTW.

Iraqi insurgents have finished cutting off Baghdad from the rest of Iraq's electrical grid. Baghdad's only power can come from generators within the city limits.

Recall that Sunni militias surround Baghdad presently and that Shia militias occupy most of Baghdad.

That should help net oil exports!
Not directly related to PO, but example of more national protectionism:

Emerging-Market Stocks Slump on Thailand's Investment Controls


Emerging-market stocks headed for the biggest drop in three months after Thailand imposed currency controls on international investors, highlighting the risks of investing in developing economies.