Dr Deffeyes defines a date

Ken Deffeyes has come out with a new statement about standing on the summit. It has been suggested that it have its own thread. So here it is.

The relevant bits are

I predicted that world oil production would peak on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2005. In hindsight, that prediction was in error by three weeks. An update using the 2005 data shows that we passed the peak on December 16, 2005. . . . . . By 2025, we're going to be back in the Stone Age. . . . . . . Ethanol, fuel cells, and solar cells are not the only shimmering dreams. Methane hydrates, oil shale, and the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste depository would be better off forgotten. There are plenty of solid opportunities. Energy conservation is by far the most important. Initiatives that are already engineered and ready to go are biodiesel from palm oil, coal gasification (for both gaseous and liquid fuels), high-efficiency diesel automobiles, and revamping our food supply. Every little bit helps, but even if wind energy continues its success it will still be a little bit. . . . . . . That's it. I can now refer to the world oil peak in the past tense. My career as a prophet is over. I'm now an historian.
The floor is yours.
Can someone help me out? If we're in for a slow squeeze, how does that take us back to "the stone age" in just 20 years?
Imagine having to use half as much oil as we do today?? What ramifications can you imagine that having on everything associated with oil. From food production to transportation, oil is everything in America..  


Oh, I see. It would suck so bad if we couldn't ignore the issue of fuel efficiency when buying vehicles, as we do now.
Average fuel efficiency now in the USA is about 20 mpg (US), though obviously existing cars (not even hybrids) can easily get twice that.

Anyway the definition of "slow squeeze" I had in mind only gets up to 3% per year depletion toward the end of the 20 years. You'd need 3% every year for 20 years to get down to half of current production.

The other side of that is that Deffeyes was responding to a claim that solar might make 2% of US electricity by 2025.  I don't think we'll be in the stone age then either, but if we don't make a whole lot more juice from the sun we might well be.
Well, if we define photovoltaic silicon as stone, and we could sort of, then we should be in the stone age in about ten years. We really are running out of natural gas. Hydro and natural gas is all that is keeping our daytime airconditioning running in the summer. Since we are going to use our hydro to balance out our undependable wind, we will need to build enough solar photovoltaic to replace summer natural gas and hydro for peaking.
We might be able to do better than that sooner using Stirling engines.  The proponents are claiming about $2/watt at today's prices, and 30% thermal efficiency in 25 kWe units.  If you take the ~58 kW of waste heat and feed it to an absorption chiller, you get about 30 kW of cooling (which would take on the order of 10 kW of electricity to generate).  Bingo, you've just reduced electrical demand by 35 kW as long as the sun is shining.  Oh, you've also satisfied heating and DHW demand too.
How much efficiency do the stirling engine loose by rejecting heat on a higher temperature on the cold side?
Without knowing what that temperature is (ammonia absorption can run at input temperatures around 100°C) I have no way to tell.  The pictures of dishes I've seen have no obvious radiators, so T(lo) might already be rather high.
Basically Stirling engines operate on an approximation of the Carnot cycle. The thermal efficiency is then dictated by one minus the ration of the low to high temperature. Typically the thermal efficiency may be 40% ... so 60% of the thermal energy is rejected.
Stirling engines have some 'issues' but it is a 'doable' technology, especially for stationary applications. I worked on this technology in the 70s. We coupled it to a heat pump and the waste heat from the Stirling cycle improved the effective heating COP. The good thing is that it is a closed cycle. The bad thing is that its power to weight ratio is not too good.
In the district heating and cooling schemes that I know of, chilled & heated water can only be pumped a few miles (like 2 or so).

Solar power is a low value use of land, so they are likely to be located "in the middle of nowhere".  The demand for chilled water will likely be limited to the support staff.

Perhaps the bed of the Salt River in Phoenix could be covered with raised mirrors, but aesthetics and glare into offices would prevent this.  Not at the airport, glare into pilots eyes.

OTOH, storing hot oil till the sun sets and temperatures decline may well be worth doing.  Increase the natural gas supplemental heating (only 2% on NV 1, vs. 25% before) to offset any cooling but get greater thermodynamic efficiency.

You misunderstand.  Solar power may be a low-valued use, but roofs are low-value territory.  So's the air over parking lots.

Solar power is more valuable at the point of use than far away (avoids all the expense and losses of the transmission system); if the roof of the 7-11 sports a mirror array which powers the whole thing and the waste heat air-conditions it too, you've effectively gone off-grid while the sun is shining.  Have another unit or two to shade the parking lot, and you could supply excess power to charge the cars coming and going.

I see difficulties in the economics of scaling down to "7-11 size" and anything less than "Regional Shopping Mall" size.

Rooftops are NOT so cheap.  Additional structure to support solar load (weight).  Elevating them above parking lot has some additional costs as well (like elevating above river bed).

Also, great care must be taken to not break the watertightness of a roof, and any reroofing has to be done under/around solar collectors and their supports.

Still, I good see a 200 acre array mounted over some of the parking lots in Phoenix.  Concrete around each post to prevent accident knocking down pole and spilling 750 C oil everywhere !  Capital cost of lost parking spaces due to poles & guards is a high value loss and probably kills idea unless parking becomes "surplus".

Perhaps 0.5% of Phoenix load that way.

The tech to do a 7-11 size unit is already in the California desert; it's the 37-foot diameter solar Stirling dishes.  They require a post to mount them, but you could incorporate that into a corner of the building and make it do double duty.

It might be cheaper to do it with heliostats feeding a fixed collector.  If so, the result would not look all that much different from a filling station with roofed pump islands.

We shouldn't cover river beds with anything, let alone solar power plants. Weather is becoming undependable. I mean, even more undependable than it already is.
I suspect Deffeyes doesn't think we're in for a slow squeeze.  He thinks it will be a cliff.  The Olduvai Theory, basically.  The problem isn't really oil production, it's how individuals and nations will respond to energy scarcity.
Of course the problem with using Hubbert Linearisation to predict global oil production past the peak is that the global peak may be qualitatively different to regional peaks, precisely because societal response will be qualitatively different.

When regions peak, you can just import more oil from other regions, which is what we've been doing up until now. The result is a more or less symmetrical curve in regional production.

When global production peaks, the physical reality of oil shortage and the psychological (and therefore economic) impacts are likely to be entirely different.

We really are sailing into uncharted waters. What happens next is anyone's guess.

This is correct. A sometimes overlooked point.
Hmmm, maybe Deffeyes is circumspectly opining that the worlds oh so magnificent leaders will just simply find the Curt LeMay solution to problems too irresistable in the post-PO world.

For those who weren't here, Strategic Air Commander General Curtis LeMay strongly advocated using nukes to bomb North Vietnam back into the stone age.

Now you're making me feel really old by suggesting that many here don't remeber who "General Curtis D. LeMay" was and many may not have seen "Doctor Strangelove", the movie.

You're probably right. Yeeh Hah!  Yeeh Hah! (love that scene ---with "till we meet again" as the musical backdrop-- brings back memories of a time when the world was less crowded, 50%)

For the LeMay types in our government, they need to remember the following:

  1. Bombers aren't folks on the ground who can actually run oil wells, and people on the ground can get shot up, kidnapped, etc. by angry natives.

  2. Armies, navies (to a fair degree) and air forces still run on petroleum. The "just around the corner" nuclear powered aircraft of the 1950s is wayyy around the corner. Three-quarters or more of gasoline in a mechanized unit in Iraq is used to move -- gasoline to the actual mechanized vehicles.

In other words, we're highest up the hillside, so we've got the farthest to fall.
You guys are getting things slightly twisted. In Dr. Strangelove, George C. Scott plays a character named General 'Buck' Turgidson who has been rumoured to have been based on General Curtis LeMay.

In real life, Curtis LeMay was a person who was based on another person - a clone if you will. The real thing was Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris.

Ahmadinejad, keep talking pal - Hell Awaits.

Oil CEO,
You got that exactly right. Just watched "Dr. Strangelove" again, for about the twenty-second time, last night. In huge letters the claim is made that none of the characters represent anybody living or dead. Yeah, right.

Now, what about the mad scientist in the wheel chair? Somebody said he was supposed to be Herman Kahn, but that is nonsense, because the guy with the circular slide rule is clearly a Nazi, and Kahn (loved that guy!) was Jewish. So who is he?

Did you catch the name of our President? Merkin Muffley. You know what a merkin is? Holy Smokes, that film is so funny and has so many inside jokes.

Also I have heard that somebody was the prototype for Colonel Bat Guano, but the stories are unconvincing.

Where is Peter Sellers, now that we need?

Oh, and how Bomber Harris would like to have a go at Iran . . . . He'd have them back to the dark ages in a week.

Zeh Pink Panter iz now dizguised as Steve Martin.

Oh oh.
Are we the old farts remeniscing (sp?) about the good old days? Say it ain't so.

Then again they don't make movies with embedded wit in them like Dr. Strangelove/Peter Sellers anymore. It's part of the dumbing down of America. Instead we get Harrison Ford single handedly (at age 55?) fighting off a bunch of buff hoodlums while in his zoot suit and winning the Firewall fight. Now that is some deep blues.

Don't knock Harrison Ford. I sometimes dress up like Indiana Jones for Halloween and have been asked for autographs by people who think that I'm H.F. I think he is about 64 years old, and I am eagerly waiting for Indiana 4.

Old movies are bettter.

Take a look at "A Day at the Races" for wit and a concealed (scathing) criticism of wealth concentration and racism.

Watch "You Can't Take it With You" for an explicit rejection of materialism, hilariously effective criticism of the F.B.I.,and get this: Our Hero opts out of banking to go back to graduate school and learn how to do what? To get the solar energy out of grass. Date? 1936, though I could be off by a year.

Maybe audiences are getting dumber, and that is why we are getting dumber movies.

Why watch new movies? Except that "Match Point" is great as social criticism and "Syrianna" gives some hint of how things go in Saudi Arabia.

Thanks. Match Point was a more disturbing version of the Talented Mr. Ripley.
When did Sellers finish "Being There", 1978?  That wasn't too long ago, eh?  Today's young ones might be interested in finding out how the totally incompetent get into business mangagement, then go on to the White House.  Of course, that could never happen in real life, and most certainly not in our enlightened age.
Its diesel.
If you read the full statement on Deffeyes site, I think you'll see he means that longterm stuff like solar, hydorgen, ethanol -- at least on the scale of what's now being proposed for these things -- aren't going to cut it: if that's all we've got between now and 2025, in other words, we will be in the Stone Age. He then goes on to say that what we need is conservation and big-time coal-to-gas projects. He may be exaggerating a bit for effect, but I think his basic point is valid: if Peak is here, then the time is past for hoping that technology will pull a rabbit out the hat.
If the US and Europe are not considering coal to oil conversion in a big way then China certainly is according to china view.

"China Oil News reported last week that the government plans to spend US$15 billion to build plants that annually manufacture 16 million tons of oil products from coal in the next five to 10 years."

That is about 5% of their 2006 oil consumption.

Since, according to china.org they are building 144 new power stations with a capacity of 160GW this year alone, most of them coal powered and their car production rose to 5.7 million vehicles this year not including 1 million very crude inefficient and dirty single-cylinder diesel agricultural vehicles and is set to rise further, it follows that even with heroic efforts by the rest of the world there is zero chance of stopping a massive rise in carbon dioxide production and only Sweden so far seems ready to put in such heroic effort.

If conventional oil has peaked and is about to drop sharply, as Deffeyes  suggests, I suspect that before 2025 the environmental effects of even dirtier alternatives like coal to oil, tar sands, and oil shale will be so bad that further expansion of their use will have to be halted and we will have a catastrophe on our hands.

Only Stuart's slow squeeze with perhaps a couple of more years before peak gives us hope of introducing massive cuts to energy usage by us energy hogs in ways that leave us some form of reasonable life style while allowing poorer countries to develop sufficiently to prevent resentment growing so that the present guerrilla warfare against us that is draining trillions of dollars grows beyond all hope of countering  and beyond our ability to finance such countermeasures.

Even this course will require some use of dirtier technologies and allowing nuclear technology to spread widely to places we would ideally prefer not to have it as well as all the alternative energy production we can install.

The political reality is that even with the best efforts of the peak oil and environmental communities it will take several more years and even more obvious problems before a political party with a program of massive cutbacks will be electable in many of the countries that need to do so. If so many people can still be persuaded there is no problem, it will be a long time before people stop believing those that tell them that there is a problem  but is has a solution that allows them to carry on more or less as they have been.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that there are no good outcomes and that it is not even certain we have a choice between bad and catastrophic. When I first became aware of the peak oil problem I thought of it a short to medium term problem that could be tackled  before the slightly longer term climate change problems.

However as the environmental evidence has come in and the size of the global economic changes has become clear and the scale of the enmity against the West by so much of the world has grown I have seen these problems conflate to a single nightmare. We can but work in the hope that there is a merely bad solution.

Where's China going to get the water, when they're already a water-poor country?
The melting polar ice-caps.
I tend to agree. It looks like the possibility of terrorism, embargo, and depletion are facing us. But I also think there are many energy sources. It sounds like 'King Coal' may return. I don't like to mention it too loudly but the N-option is also becoming more likely. Lovelock always said that nuclear was the way to go. We are facing a much different future if investment is not forthcoming to develop the 'options'. And, at the very least, we will be confronted with our 1970s conservation programs again. There is certainly a lot of elasticity in the American usage of energy so we can conserve.
i think he bets on nuclear war to happen as oil resources decline.
The Oil Drum may need a glossary as well as a list of acronymns. Olduvai Theory is mentioned here often, but probably not widely understood. I had to Google it.


The Olduvai theory states that the industrial civilization will have a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years.

Let me thunk on that one.
We got 5 fingers (nails? claws?) on each hand.
And that makes 100 a "magic" number?
Oh OK.
That makes me a believer that the number has scientific foundation.

BTW, crude may go below the magic $6"0" number today. At that moment, Wall Street will celebrate. Clearly they are rational thinkers.

Sorry Step Back. Your message is way over my head. Would you post it again at lemming level so those of us down here can understand?
Today crude closed at $59.45 and the stock markets went Yahoo! to the tune of plus 136 points. Why? Because we crossed the magic zero, we crossed below the $60 mark. There is no rational reason to celebrate 0 crossings of this kind.

I forgot to look down and see how many claws we lemmings have on each paw. Maybe we are not base 10 counters.

In my book, there are 10 kinds of people ....

those who count in binary and those who don't.

If we're lucky it might be 144 years, perhaps we were meant to have six digits per hand and something didn't go quite right ;)  

But then $60 oil might be $50 oil, an' that ain't gonna happen. I've always thought the number of testicles was a more rational basis for a numerical system.

Stocks probably went exuberant today because US consumers spent more of the money they don't really have on more  trinkets made elsewhere in January than expected. Powerful magic, this BLS seasonality. I hope the Chinese are building paper fired power stations to burn all them $.

The Olduvai theory belongs to Richard Duncan.  The 100 years thing is part of it, but there are more interesting aspects that don't seem as arbitrary.  
One eye opener for me was the notion that energy use per capita has already peaked many years ago, as population has been rising faster than energy availability.  
he discusses a gradual "slide" after peak followed by a "trigger event" that would bring on a more rapid crash.  
He suggests that the "trigger event" could involve the failure of the grid after which the crash will be rapid and irreversible.  
Possible trigger events are easy to imagine these days.  
Read the whole thing at "dieoff"
When did energy use per capita peak? Was this just the U.S. or global? It would be interesting to see the data.

If it was indeed many years ago, I would suspect the cause was efficiency rather than supply constraints. Oil was near $10 per barrel in 1999.

Energy per capita peaked in 1979, according to Duncan.  That's for the entire world.
Correct. In December 1998 Oil hit an inflation adjusted(2006 Dollars)low of $13.
The laundry list of possible actions misses two MAJOR actions that can be taken in the US, using very well known and well proven technologies.

1) Electrifing US frieght railroads and encouraging greater capital expenditures on improving freight service.  Better rail service (restoring double tracking, eliminated in recent decades, better signal systems, etc.) would take much of the modal share for long distance trucking onto the rails (1/8 the diesel fuel consumption/ton-mile due to lower rolling resistance). Long distance trucks and railroads use ~2.5 million b/day of diesel today, and the vast majority of that demand could be easily eliminated by a modal shift to electric railroads.

The total energy demand in BTUs or joules would be substantially reduced for the same # of ton-miles by shifting trucks > rails and the shift from diesel locos > electric locomotives.

(Note: Russia electrified the Trans-Siberian RR in 2002 and electrified to the Artic Ocean port of Murmansk in November 2005 so there are no technical obstacles in the US).

2) Building out large amounts Urban Rail plans currently planned and then more beyond that.  Quite possibly an extra 1 million b/day saved in a decade.

2b) Installing electric trolley buses to replace diesel/NG buses on heavy routes that are not switched to rail.

I wonder just how much energy such a effort would take. Increasing electrical use means more power plants. They will not be built cheaply now that the era of cheap oil is over..

For example, we have a local casino that changing its building plans because the cost of energy is going up affect the building costs. The same thing will happen with every project coming down the pipe from now on out..  

Yes.  We waited too long.  We should have built the infrastructure for the post-carbon age when energy was cheap.  It will be harder and harder as energy grows more expensive.  The raw materials will be scarcer and more expensive (remember that thread about China's cement consumption), and we will not have a lot of spare cash to pay for them.  We've got a huge deficit, we're bleeding red ink in Iraq, we have people at home who need heating assistance, food stamps, farm aid, Medicare, etc.  Where's the money for new infrastructure coming from?

Last November, the people of New York passed a transportation bond act.  Basically, it allows the state to borrow money for transportation infrastructure.  I heard last week that the DOT isn't getting as much money as expected, though.  Why?  They're using some of the money for debt service - to pay off previous borrowing.  Sounds like using one credit card to pay off another to me.

I doubt that very many new power plants would be required beacsue of the massive gains in efficiency by moving from 1) rubber tires to rail 2) diesel engines to electric motors & 3) single occupany vehicles to mass transit.

A realistic estimate is that it would take 1/15th as much total energy to shift freight from 18 wheel trucks to electrified rail (even with some local trucking from modal transfer point to final destination).

Likewise the energy saved by moving from 1.1 people/car (or SUV) with US average fleet economy to electric rail mass transit is somewhere near 50:1.

I am NOT a rabid supporter of electrifing every ones personal rubber tired car.  The lack of energy savings could create resource issues.

Both steps are QUITE doable and affordable (we are only spending a couple billion/year on new rail system in the US.  Up that to $25 billion/year and MASSIVE changes would happen).  $25 billion by removing farm subsidies, reducing the NASA budget and/or your program of choice.

The biggest constraint might be copper.  But replacing coaxial cable and phone lines with fiber optic might recycle enough to make up any production shortfall (and melting pre1982 pennies).

I don't think anyone would argue that moving to rail, and particularly electric rail, isn't a good idea. I don't think many people would argue that moving from our poor energy efficiency transportation system to one based on electric transit and electric rail wouldn't end up being a terrific energy efficiency gain either.

The problem is that you're talking about changing a liquid fuels-based transportation system into an electric transportation system. Where does the electricity for that come from if not from building more electric power plants? You can't just feed petroleum into fuel cells spaced out along the rail lines (at least, not yet, and expect to pay a major fortune if you do.) Anyone around here built a new coal or nuclear powerplant recently? It takes a while.

A more reasonable change, which will almost certainly happen, is a switch to diesel rail and standard rubber-wheeled transit first. This gets you much of the energy efficiency gains of electric transit and rail, but much faster. Then over a longer period, switching to electric rail and transit becomes more feasible. Assuming you have the money and political will to do it, of course.

I would expect in ten years to still have politicians saying that any switch to mass transit is a compromise of "American Values" and we should just go take oil from those criminals who won't give it to us cheaply any more. It will be kind of hard to muster the funding to build this new rail network when we're paying for yet another oil war.

There is enough slack in the current electrical system to electrify transportation with very few (one could argue zero) new power plants.

A real world example.  I engineered the conversation of the HVAC & lighting system (plus some other conservation measures) of a 1960s 5 story office building and cut overall electricity consumption by 64% at 2714 Canal Street.  At the 3000 block of Canal are the DC rectifiers for the Canal Streetcar Line.  My savings equaled roughly a fourth of the requirements to operate this streetcar line, which transported almost 30,000 people per day.  Capital cost about $450,000 for the savings. $150 million for the 5 mile streetcar line. (I am working actively to reduce that cost # with some innovative institutional approaches).

So I see hand wringing about "we can't build the power plants" to replace 18 wheelers, diesel locos & SOV SUVs as unrealisticly pessimistic.

If you ask me if we have enough to electrify everyone's personal rubber tired vehicle, then I can see a potential problem beacsue that will require a couple dozen (SWAG) times as much electricity as what I propose.

On other issues

The future economic developments are unknowable ATM.  

In the near term future, one could induce railroads to electrify for zero $ appropriated.  Just pass a law that a railroad engaged in interstate commerce that electrifies will not have to pay property taxes.

And repeal ALL of the highway earmarks in the most recent 6 year highway appropiations bill and devote those funds to Urban Rail.

Doable ?

With modest changes in the political climate, yes.

Hyperinflation never lasts forever.  If, per chance, we do have hyperinflation, this screws up capital expenditures (and dramatically reduces economic activity/oil consumption).  Once currency reform is in place, capital projects can restart.

Very good point! By its nature, true hyperinflation, such as Germany had late in 1923 cannot last long. If you want to know the exact reasons for this, either you can ask or do some research. Anyway, what happens is that all financial assets of creditors disappear--but nothing happens to real (tangible actual machines, tools, buildings, etc.) capital. The wiping out of debt transfers financial wealth and can lead to a few problems such as pensioners starving and deadly riots against those perceived to be profiteers, but for a really interesting account of what hyperinflation is like, read one of the vivid accounts of what happened in Germany in 1923.

My favorite story from this era of the old retired lady who withdrew her life savings from the bank--about enough to buy a small potato--and put the forty pounds or so of currency into a big laundry basket to carry it to market. She was tired, old, cold, and maybe hadn't been eating much lately, so she sat down to rest on a park bench. A robber dashed up, grabbed the basket, shook out the worthless trillions of marks and ran off with the big and useful laundry basket.

Moral: We live in interesting times, and what has happened before can happen before, but with variations.

Whoops! Meant to say that what happened before can happen again.

One very interesting and brief account of a hyperinflation is to be found in the excellent "Bridge to the Sun" by Terasaki, in which an American woman married to a Japanese diplomat and trapped in Japan for the duration of the war gives a vivid description of what happened when the yen went to zero after Japan was defeated.

There are a whole bunch of other accounts of hyperinflations, usually buried in memoirs or autobiographies--all very enlightening. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has done a systematic comparative analysis of hyperinflations--maybe because the topic is too broad for a Ph.D. thesis.

Another analysis I would like to see is to compare the consequences of capital taxes like the postwar German and Japanese programs in 1948/1949.
Hyperinflation in modern times is going to be very fast. We have lots of immigrants who have personally gone through one in their home countries. They will tell their neighbors about what to do and how to do it, so I expect that the US hyperinflation will last about three days.
Then we will go to some kind of commodity dollar system built around our credit and debit cards. Not as credit, but as money. Interest rates will go up considerably during the infrastructure, primary, and secondary production buildups due to lack of imported capital.
Personally, I am hoarding pennies. They are likely to hold their value. Also, if worse comes to worst, they can be hammered into arrow heads--got that idea from George R. Stewart's superaltive novel, EARTH ABIDES.
Is the dollar so low and copper so high that a penny is now worth more for its metal than for its coinage value?

(Clearly, when the SHTF, pennies will be a source of metal for our new bronze age.)

Oh my goodness, did you not know that the government debased the coinage long ago, when copper became so valuable that pennies could be melted down at a profit? Today pennies are mostly zinc, which is not an ideal metal for most things--except coffins. When Russians counted their dead in Afghanistan they called them "zincs," because they were shipped back to Russia in sealed zinc coffins. However, zinc (particularly in alloys) is a pretty good metal for lots of applications, very handy for galvinizing of iron.

BTW, Robert Heinlein in "Rocket Ship Galieleo" used zinc as reaction mass in the atomic rocket. Zinc is also nice for carbon-zinc dry cells and a whole bunch of other things.

A big brick of pennies will cost you $25 at the bank.

Note that people with guns will torture and kill members of your family to find out from you where you have hidden your gold, but I think this risk is lower with pennies (especially if you tell nobody that you have them).

You have made a good choice - now YOU can use your pennies to torture other peoples families to find out where theyve hidden their guns.
One can make a good cosh (blackjack in some parlance) by stuffing coins in a strong sock.
Pennies aren't made from copper (hardly).

US mint fun facts:

The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc).  Cents of both compositions appeared in that year.
Did not know it. Thanks.
Providing electricity for the whole transportation shouldn't be a problem at all:
US diesel + gasoline consumption ~ 12 mln.bpd ~ 7446 TWh/an.

Electrical transportation is 6 times more efficient than oil driven (~90% vs ~15%), so we are going to need:
7446 / 6 = 1241 TWh

Currently USA is producing 3893 TWh/an, so we will need to produce just 32% more to electrify our whole ground transportation. Doable IMO.

Or make efficiency gains such that 2652 TWh do the work of 3893 TWh, freeing up 1241 TWh.

However, you neglect the additional effiencies of rail vs. rubber tire (very roughly 8:1) and mass transit vs. single occupancy vehicles (varies significantly from case to case but a good multiple).

To do what I propose would take far less than 1241 TWh, probably less than 100 TWh.  Of course I would still have farm tractors, plumber's service trucks, etc. still burning oil.

Actually your ideas would require less than 10 TWh, IMO. The problem would be providing funds and public support for them; bulding rail is expensive and time-consuming task, especially in the cities where it has to go through already developed areas.

I might be dreaming too much but with a little more research and effort we may be able to totally electrify our transportation with something like this. My point is that if we are going to build additional infrastructure we'd better do it now when energy is still abundant, and it would be best if we could take the shortcut to totally abandon oil-powered transportation (while we still have that option).

On the other hand you have a point too :) Which one is better is a debatable question.

Farm tractors could burn gasified crop wastes.  They would run at reduced power (unless turbocharged even more than they are now), but they would run.
I too think its doable but remember that around 21% of the electricity generation in the US is petroleum and gas. Assuming that that is price out leaves a need to increase electricity generation by 67%.

I guess some of the gas electric plants can be converted to coal...

In the summer, at peak times, the natural gas component % is over 40%
In other words, white roof shingles and solar Stirling dishes with absorption A/C bottoming cycles could make huge dents in natural gas consumption.  Looks like cause for optimism, and fodder for an action plan.
Why white?
Shouldn't it be reflective metal instead of dispersive white?
The pundits suggest white, and while I'm not absolutely sure why it's preferable to metal I'll bet that it's because metal surfaces are not nearly as reflective as they appear (read Farrington Daniels for an eye-opener) and they tend to get worse over time as they age.
Don't forget that electrical power plants are heat engines and have about a 40% efficiency including recycling waste heat.  Also there are power line losses which are not small.  So the actual efficiency is likely around 30%.  This means 1241/0.3 = 4137 TWh of energy (nuclear, fossil, solar or whatever) is required yearly.
Traditional steam coal plants are about 34% efficient.  Modern combined cycle natural gas plants are about 57% efficent.  GE has stated that they are working on a means to gasify coal and feed it into a combined cycle coal plant.  This is a new technology that I think will come to pass.  

Cogeneration power uses fuel that would be used anyway for industrial or commercial purposes so they are "infinitely efficient".  WInd and hydro are what efficiency ?

Electric rail generates electricity when braking.  A power savings of about 30% for the Canal Streetcar Line (10% to 20% more typical elsewhere).

The 1241 TWh # is seriously flawed as I explained (substitute one subway train of 8 cars on rails for 1,000 cars & SUVs on rubber tires or substitute one electric freight train for 300 18 wheelers).  

I think a less than complete substitution of electric for oil based transportation (just the easiest third to half perhaps) for something less than 100 TWh.

Or, reduce existing electricity consumption by 32%. Which would probably also be doable if every electric storage hot water system was replaced with solar.

...or if everyone stopped using air conditioning, switched off unused lighting and stopped watching TV.

I don't think the problem is electricity, really.  We can cut back a lot on that without mass dieoff.  It may mean no Internet and no air-conditioning, but that's hardly fatal.

It's the socioeconomic ramifications that are worrisome.  Electric trains are fine for people who live in the city, or along commuter lines.  That still leaves all the people who live in new suburban McMansions screwed.  Not to mention all the people in rural America.  

I've been thinking about the following solution:

A nation-wide network of high-speed light rail + publicly owned and accessible electic cars. You drive to the nearest station or take an e-car from the nearest e-car depot, there you take the train that will bring you through the long distance part of your trip. At your destination stop you take another e-car with which you go whereever you want. Small, low-cost e-cars using lead-acid batteries can be easily mass produced currently. Their range would be 20-30 miles, meaning that anybody living within 20 miles of a train station would have access to the network, which for all practical puroposes would mean for everyone.

Another option that would solve the problem with carrying groceries/luggage would be to load the e-cars on the rail platforms, but I suspect this would be much more technically challenging to achieve (and would require much more rail capacity).

I still agree with you that electric rail and public transit will be important goals, but I think you're missing a scale problem. According to the US DOT, we have 164,428 miles of arterial streets in the US. So, we need to scale your project in New Orleans by 32886 times. We need four of your renovations (assuming we can find 131544 buildings to renovate to that level), total $1.8 million, and $150 million per 5 mile segment. That's just under $5 trillion, and remember that your segment had rail service only 40 years ago.

Now, recognizing that most Americans are unlike you and I (I bike to work all year long, and just plunked down $100 for bus tokens last week), most Americans have zero interest in conservation or public transit. Further, large numbers (is it a majority yet?) live in suburbs and rural areas where they would have to walk a good distance to the nearest arterial street. They will eventually all be asking for electric transit service, but eventually will take a while, and then there's the little bit about $5 trillion to pay for it when the country's in a severe recession.

Do you see a problem with scale and time yet? Do you see why Congressman Bartlett is calling for a project on the scale of the Apollo program?

I'm starting work on power plants that can burn ripped up asphalt.
Good one, even dumber then a sterling chain saw.
Actually not so dumb. Asphalt is simply solidified intentional tar sand. To make the stuff, we scraped the bottom of the drum so to speak, mixed it with gravel, and paved away. It would burn really dirty though! Have you ever used blacktop to patch a pothole? If so, the stuff looks just about like tar sand, like found in Canada. It oozes out of the bag and mixed with gravel. The light hydrocarbons evapourate, letting the extra heavy stuff sit there.

As far as powerplants, we could burn busted-up shale. What you do is bust it up, then pre-heat it using the plant's "car exhaust" then burn it. Dirty? Yep. But better dirty than dark. Estonia burns shale in powerplants already. They did it since the USSR regime and still do it. So, if we need powerplants for e-transit, here is one solution. Of course, the waste rock (which takes more volume than the shale) has to be disposed of. I guess greenies have to make a rough choice: dirty or dark. BTW, you could burn natural tar sand the same basic way, minimising energy use for refining.

The obvious use of ripped up asphalt is as asphalt.  
Paving will be needed for a very long time.
Burning asphalt wastes an almost ready to use paving material.

When I see paved streets being renovated it is done by a pass with a large milling(?) machine to flatten any uneven parts and avoid a buildup of asphalt around manholes or gutters. Then a large propane fired IR heater to soften the old surface, then an asphalt laying machine and a roller.

I know the milled(?) asphalt is being trucked back to an asphalt plant where it is heated and if needed complemented with new bitumen or gravel. One problem with this reuse is that old coal tar asphalt is classed as hazardous waste and not allowed to be reused.

"Milling" is the correct term.
Magnus, I meant that to be a tounge in cheek comment.  But, Interstate 10 was right behind my old house in Houston and back in the 80's a gasoline roadtanker turned over and caught fire.  It was on an asphalt service road next to the concrete highway.  The asphalt road caught fire.  The fire department took a long long time to snuff that one.  Asphalt is also very close to what went into a pipeline I built in Venezuela.  Bitumen (APIº9.4) is almost asphalt, except for the rocks. We mixed it with naphtha and heated it to 180ºF before pumping it into the pipeline.  Later the naphtha was recycled and pumped through another pipeline back up to the oil field. But anyway; What I meant to imply was that if it gets to the point where everyone's cold and hungry and the car hasn't moved from the driveway for the last 13 months, I'm going to think about ripping up the driveway and start burning it, whether it burns dirty or otherwise.  Then I'll replace the driveway with the gravel that falls out from the grating.
I laughed a lot.  This is not just funny, but a good idea, too.
Your methodolgy is flawed, although our goals are somewhat different.

My goal is a dramatic drop in urban oil use, but not a complete conversion.  Also, I am anticipating a shift in living and working patterns towards a rail-centric pattern (with a bicycle centric pattern as well).  Build a "skeleton" of rail and development will start clustering around it.  This is evident already in some US cities.

I have worked out a detailed plan for New Orleans (preKatrina) that involved 35 miles of streetcar lines with both "local" service and limited "express" service.  In addition, about 25 miles of trolley bus lines (not including adding trolley buses on the interstates at some point) and this combination would put over 3/4 of the population within 1/4 mile of an electric mass transit stop.  The remaining 1/4 or 1/5 could be served by small "jitney" buses working as collectors and some express buses.  A comphrensive bikeway system would be intergrated with this streetcar plan as a modal alternative.

I have also been working with Public Works on some innovative ways to reduce costs and I am confident that we could get costs down by half/mile or a bit more.  Oddly, our goals for costs come close to EU & Australian norms for costs.

Give me a billion dollars and you will see a transformed New Orleans.  I am part of an emerging consensus on that goal (see the Mayor's "Bring New Orleans Back" commission).

I cannot say that we quite "Get It" here, but, amidst the devastation we are groping in that direction.

Yesterday was an exceptional day.  In a cold, gutted house w/o power (and on site walks) I worked with a MidCity group for most of the day on what do with Tulane Avenue and Galvez Street.  What we roughed out was a single track 2 mile streetcar loop that would branch off of Canal on Galvez, then go into the Medical Center on Perdido, branch to the SuperDome, the office towers on Poydras, City Hall on Loyola and back to Canal.  A second clockwise loop up Gravier would be "later" unless the money fairy is quite generous.

Galvez would go from 2 traffic lanes on each side to one lane, creating a ~80' wide grassy neutral ground with grass running streetcars on the edges and roughly 50' in the center for bikeways, jogging, playgrounds, landscaping, weekend fairs, etc.

My first guess as to cost would be ~$30 to 35 million.

Awesome reporting on what's happening with the smart rebuilding of New Orleans.
Might need some work on the inter-grid connectors.  Seems there have been some problems when those get loaded.
I went on the Canal Street streetcar shortly before Katrina.  It was a most pleasant way to travel.  If steetcars like this make a comeback, we will be enriched estheically, if not materially.
Ahh, but on electricity, the U.S. has already hit the Peak Natural Gas. The world peak is expected in 20 years.

That leaves nuclear and the increasingly dirty coal pickings. (Remember, that 250 years of estimated coal supply is coal being used for non-gasification purposes only.)

On electricity, there is an estimated 72 terawatts of wind potential world-wide.

The US has 1.2 TW in class 3+ territory on land, and another 0.9 TW on the continental shelves.  Average US consumption is about 0.45 TW.

Hmm, isn't consumption measured in kWh not kW? And doesn't wind capacity have to be multiplied by an availablity factor? (27% here in the UK, on average). So onshore + offshore * availability = (1.2 + 1.9) * 0.27 = 0.8 TW.

Oh, I see where you get your 0.45 TW from; 3,892,000,000,000 kWh in 2003 divided by 365 days * 24 hours. (kWh number for 2003 from our friends at the CIA). In the UK (until recently) we had 50% capacity spare to cope with peak loads; if the US is the same then you might have 0.9 TW total generating capacity. But your point is well taken - we have no shortage of energy!

Depends.  Are you talking about quantity or rate? ;-)

I'm an engineer; I take unit analysis very seriously.  I just don't see a reason to quote some ginormous figure in billions of kWh/year when it's far easier for people to relate "450 GW = 450 big powerplants", the numbers are accurate and the units consistent.

Congratulations on your energy savings in the Canal
Street building. I'm not an energy expert by any means,
but the more I become aware of the PO problem and the
more I look around my home, workplace and town, the more
I see easy ways of becoming energy efficient while not
giving up  modern amenities - just changing the way we
obtain them. Energy efficiency is a guerilla war that's
going to be won building by building, town by town, city
by city. It's not going to be a grand D-Day-like operation.
Last week, I wired up a programmable thermostat. Don't know
yet how much I'm saving in NG because the bill has yet to
come in.
The single most cost effective step for most people is to put those gaskets behind switches and outlets (interior as well as exterior walls).  If there was a sloppy cut (common in modern construction) additional caulk or tape (I use Scotch tape) to seal hole will be needed).

Also seal leaks in air handling ducts exposed to outside or attic air.  $8 duct tape covered with mastic goo over clean surface.

So many more...

The light rail system in Calgary (Oil Capital of Canada BTW) runs off of wind power.

New wind turbines can be installed (into an existing site) in as little as 12 months from order to commercial operation.

Admitly, grid changes need to be made when % wind power exceeds a certain value, but we are no where near that % in the US.

Much of the electrification that I propose could be operated off of short term wind projects and new landfill gas plants.

New coal power plants (I checked, in 2004 94.5% of new power plants were natural gas or dual power, 2% renewable by MW installed) are "on the drawing boards" and perhaps six years away from commerical operation.

I think on the order of $200x10^9 annualy goes for building new roads and highways. If only half of that money went for rail we could make miracles, including a short-to medium distance passenger rail system replacing significant portion of the air travel.
There is only one problem with all this talk about electrifying railroads to gain efficiency.  We just spent the last 20 years digging up all the track.

I live right next to the double track Union Pacific freight lines in Central Iowa.  A mile + long train goes by every 20 minutes, usually in both directions, 24 hours a day.  There is no spare capacity on those tracks.

In this state they were still tearing up local track, that used to run to grain elevators, as late as November 2005.  Where the steel from the rails has gone I haven't a clue.  Some of the road bed is still there some is now under houses, never to return.  Somebody convinced farmers that it is more efficient (they make more money) to ship grain by truck than by rail in the 1980's & 1990's.

I agree that moving freight by rail, even diesel, is what we should be doing.  The problem now is that there is no track going to most places in the country.  And I mean country as in not city or town both in Iowa and the rest of the U.S.  You have to use interstates because that is the only option.  Putting in new track now is not going to happen when energy and resources are scarce.  

We in the U.S. have all been fools in our long term planning on how to use energy wisely.  We were not even smart enough to moth ball our rail lines for future use.  We had to tear them up in the name of progress.  We are about to find out what happens when you make bad decisions as a group.  

WHen I worked for the late lamented stockbrokerage of Balis & Zorn in 1989, what was then new management of the Illinois Central Railroad gave us a financial presentation. The highlight of the presentation: IC was going to save huge amounts of money by tearing up tracks (quad to double? double to single? don't remember now) and this was going to make the stock a slam dunk at current prices. It sure did.

At the same time this brilliant idea of tearing up tracks offended reason (not that I was about to tell my bosses that). Illinois Central is the storied main rail link between New Orleans and Chicago. How stupid could we be!?

?  I don't get it.  How did ripping up rail make a railroad money?  Can you draw me a picture?  Seriously, I might need to know how pulling up pipe can make a pipeline company money some day soon.
There is the public reason and the real reason.
The public reason is that you can sell the used rail to the Chinese.
The real reason is that after your train derails on the one remaining track (because you can't shut it down for maintenance because it's always busy) you can reroute the trains around your other track over a much longer distance and charge more money during the time it takes you to fix the shorter route.
railroads paid taxes on unused rail lines.

Much of the rail lines serving wheat farmers were taken out in the late 1970s and 80s.

But we still have all of the right-of-ways.  Have you heard of "Rails to Trails?"  Try transposing those two nouns.  
Some of those rights-of-way may be trails, but many essential parts in the middle of cities are now building sites.  You are not going to put a rail line back through there cheaply.

It may be much cheaper to go mixed-mode with something like the Blade Runner; just electrify the track with overhead power and you're most of the way there.

It's hard for engineers not to think of technical solutions to problems (electrifying rail, improving public transportation). The problem is, when there is an energy shock, the ability to execute ambitious, long-term projects shrinks dramatically. As soon as hyperinflation hits, the ability to finance any project that takes more than a couple of months to start paying back basically goes away. Also, the last thing anyone wants to think about in a shrinking economy is capacity, because there is too much of it, and not enough demand, because nobody can afford much of anything. It does not take an energy cliff to produce an economic collapse; just look back at what a few percent reduction did back in the 70s.
Engineers know this well already.  That's why the number of them actually doing engineering is declining.  In today's climate an economic contraction will cause every corporation to cancel long-term projects.  Cost-cutting will rule; anything will be sacrificed to keep the returns up.  Deffeyes is right to be pessimistic.  Nobody is investing significant amounts of money in alternative infrastructure or even in conservation today when there are low interest rates and gigantic corporate profits.  When things get bad the reaction will be like the domestic cement and fertilizer industries; shut down the plants and try to get it overseas.
Corporations do not need to invest long term.
Consider this:
Business controls government in America at every level.
The cost of long term infrastucture development is externalised to government.
Business needs more fuel to continue economic growth.
More fuel from oil is no longer possible.
Taxpayers pay for new fuel source development which corporations build under contract and make gauranteed profits.
Stone age never comes back.
You are so right. So very very right. The precipitating or proximate cause of TSHTF very likely will be financial in nature.

When the DJIA crashes down below 1,000, then I put out fresh punji sticks in the trench that surrounds my fortress and string out the concertina barbed wire.

All the big legacy airlines are in or have been through bankruptcy. GM almost certainly will be bankrupt within months, . . . is anybody noticing?

US has a huge potential for decreasing its oil usage.
By electrifying freight transport, building urban light rail and doubling car mileage we could cut it by half and even become self sufficient on oil in the next couple of decades.

The rest of the world though, is already pretty much optimised on that and would not be able to handle 50% reduction without either adopting some alternatives or experiencing a severe depression. Our situation could also become dire if as a consequence or in preparation of that, they stop crediting our "ever expanding" economy. This would make building the necessary infrastructure simply impossible, we'll have lots of other problems that would be given higher priority.

Its not about everybody having to save 50% of their oil use.
Its about using oil efficiently giving the ability to outbid those who do not have efficient economies.
Those who has more energy efficient infrastructure can outbid you if you screw up your economy.

That others no longer have the easy savings left to do do not mean that you will have an easy time...

Currently US outbids everybody by simply borrowing the money and still running an unefficient economy. Therefore my assertion that our hard time will come when the easy money stops.
It looks like the power companies think that we will have abundant natural gas - in 2006 they are planning on starting up only two coal fired plants, but 28! natural gas fired plants...  I would like to see their figures for the projected costs and price volatility for gas.  Granted, the gas plants are peakers that will see only limited usage in the summer - but what will they do to our reserve capacity?  I guess the low number of coal-fired plants reflects their estimate of the country's base load growth.


About the rails...timing is everything, isn't it?  I would guess that the electrification of most of our freight transport would occur when the governmental is able to pry the trucking industry's warm, decomposing fingers from their steering wheels...  Hopefully we will be able to transition smoothly with respect to energy...now what about unemployment?

"Rubber-wheeled cars" - another buzzword for our lexicon?

My guess is that these plants were planned for and ordered long before the recent spike in NG prices, it is just that they are coming on-line this year. Bad business decission.

Obviously the next direction the lemmings will take will be coal. Probably the next decade we'll see lots of new smokers worldwide sending the price of coal to the skies along with any dreams about stopping Global Warming.

It will not be until after coal gets to 100$/ton and coal production bottlenecks start taking their toll until somebody out there "gets it" that our only abundunt energy source left is nuclear. Unfotunately it is up to our impotent goverments to take this decision so we'll probably have a hard time until then.

I guess you already got your rail stocks, heh?  :-)  I wanta' know which hydros you've got lined up.  I'm hoping they're outside the US.
I am still buying some thinly traded stocks and do not want to give out all of my choices.  I am also still working on a strategy that "wins" in a variety of markets.  Defensive protection of value, but gain as well :-)

Great Lakes Hydro (traded on Toronto as GLH-UN and thinly on  pink sheets for US version GLHIF) is a quality stock that has fixed price contracts that expire in 14 to 20 years.

Algonquin (APF-UN on Toronto, AGQNF on US pink sheets) is more "cats & dogs" but nice core and I got yield of 8.99%.

All in dividend reinvestment.

Are two that I "have enough" of.

WARNING: Do not buy "pink sheets" without knowledge or experience.  Buying on Toronto is safer but higher commissions.

FLA is my main railroad because they MAY sell in X years part of their southern ROW for commuter rail at a priuce that is a good % of their valuation (and still run freight over tracks that they no longer own or have to maintain).  Too much Florida real estate exposure, I may buy more if real estate crashes BUT their portfolio is as solid as any that I have seen.

Norfolk Southern is other "good" US railroad with excellent management.  My bet is on good management in troubled times.

More rail during next recession.

Some US based exporters (if they can sell abroad today, what about during US $ collapse ?) and some country specific closed end mutual funds that sell at a steep discount.  SWZ is one.

And a month's worth of canned goods (disappeared during Katrina :-)

Much of my wife's family works, or worked, for Conrail.  When they bought out Conrail, Norfolk-Southern promised to keep the local shops open.  That didn't last long and one of them was closed soon afterwards.  N-S played games - offering workers jobs far away, counting on them not wanting to move, so they wouldn't have to honor certain terms called "New York dock."

When local congressman Geist, a Republican, but a decent guy, tried to hold N-S to their word, he suddenly found he had a well-funded opponent for the first time in over a decade.  Word was the Republicans were funding his Democratic opponent to teach him a lesson.

Is that "excellent management?"

Try 37.5 billion gallons for trucks and 3.8 billion gallons for freight trains.  (Freight trains still carried more ton-miles than trucks.)

Unfortunately, railroads have lost the rights-of-way that they would need to do what you postulate, and I don't see any way to replace the severed links through cities and add the required spurs.  What you could do is make trucks that can become electrified trains on rails.

Railroad flatbed cars that carry two 18 wheel trailers are common, as are containers that are lifted off an 18 wheel trailer chassis and placed on a railcar.

Rail saves labor as well as energy over 18 wheelers.

You still have another loading/unloading cycle and are tied to the train's schedule.  That's a problem for many shippers, and they're obviously willing to pay for the labor to get better service.

If you can get rid of the need to burn petroleum to run the trucks but keep the scheduling advantages, the improvements would be huge.

By 2025, we're going to be back in the Stone Age.

I find his pessimism startling.  Even Kunstler doesn't think we'll be back to the Stone Age by 2025.  This is especially unexpected because Deffeyes seemed pretty optimistic about the post-carbon age in his books.  

I'd love to know why he's suddenly such a doomer.  Has he always felt this way, but kept it to himself?  Was he disappointed that the Katrina crunch didn't create any lasting changes?  Did he run the numbers for alternate energy and the new infrastructure it would require, and realize it's an impossible dream?  Or is he now convinced that the battle for the last of the oil will be fought with bullets, not dollars?

I had exactly the same reaction, but I have no more answers than anyone else here.

I'm also surprised that he's so definitively calling the peak.  What the heck ever happened to peak oil being a "rear view mirror event" that we won't be able to identify with certainty until a year or so after the fact?  This doesn't remotely sound like something a scientist would say.

I have a LOT of respect for Deffeyes, but this kind of public pronouncement and staggering pessimism does no one any good and only hurts the efforts by the rest of us to educate the public.

One line of "staggering pessimism" maybe.

I actually think there is consensus right now that we have peaked on cheap, light, and sweet oil supplies.  If you think about it, even the most "non-peak" people you can find are really endorsing that ... as they beat a track to Canada and tar sands.

A huge portion of the US energy supply comes from those cheap, light, and sweet oil supplies ... and so sure, if no one is seriously talking conservation and adjustment that way, why not make a grumpy "last call" to wake them up.

(Maybe "last call" and "addiction" kind of go hand-in-hand)

Maybe he tried optimism, decided it didn't work, so is trying doomsaying.  It does tend to get more attention.

As for calling the peak...I don't know how serious he was about that.  Though I do think he has a lot of faith in Hubbert's method, and Hubbert's method isn't much affected by new discoveries. Hence the U.S. peak was in 1970, as predicted, despite the huge Prudhoe Bay reserves which Hubbert did not consider. Deffeyes argues, convincingly IMO, that because production is so high right now, it will be very difficult for new finds to make a real difference. We cannot replace all the existing, declining fields with new finds.

And he thinks Ghawar is going down fast:

Ghawar, the supergiant Saudi oilfield, is producing increasing amounts of water along with the oil. When Simmons sent Twilight in the Desert to the printer, the water cut at Ghawar was around 30 percent. There are later reports on the Internet (home.entouch.net/dmd/ghawar.htm) of water cuts as high as 55 percent. Ghawar has been producing 4 million barrels per day; when the Ghawar field waters out, you can kiss your lifestyle goodbye.
If he's right and the peak was last year, then the time for education has passed.  You might as well call it as you see it, because it's too late.
He is sort of cheating by defining peak as 50% global Qt, not the definition I'd use. He's also using an arguably low URR of 2.013 trilion barrels.

Back to the stone age? Hmmm, that's a severe level 6 collapse on my scale, I currently give a probability of 5% to collapse below level 4. Highly unlikely and presumes massive stupidity by humans and probably a 95% to 99% die-off. Level 7 collapse is all humans gone and not far from his prognosis.

Personally I think Deffeyes apocalyptic prediction is about as unreal as the cornucopian one that peak oil will happen never or after 2050. Since there is a surfeit of the cornucopians there is room for a few more apocalyptians to balance the scales of prognosis.

Reno and Leanan make an important point: we have waited far too long to invest in the infrastructure that would help mitigate the effects of peak oil. We will be somewhat resource and time limited if / when we attempt to make such investment in future.

Interesting what are the other levels in your scale?

Personally I think that modern life is so much dependant on industrialisation now, that if we experience whatever level of collapse that brings it to a halt we are going to begin falling down faster than we can count the levels. I don't see it looking like a stone age, but more like a New Orleans with the size of USA. I have that gut feeling that there could be a point of time that we'll sorely regret about selling weapons freely in this country.

I have posted it here before, rather than do again here's a link to a copy in my blog:

Nine levels ranging from a bit worse than the 1930s depression to back to unicellular life.

Write me down for level 1.

Seriously I like the idea of systemising the various scenarios but if you accept some criticism I think these are too catastrophic and levels 3-4 (maybe even 2) are almost as good as levels 5-9. First I don't envision a way we can naturally decline more than 5% for the period; there would have to be WWIII or large scale civil wars for this thing to happen. If it comes to wars with the presence of nuclear weapons around, I see it mostly as a 0-1 dilemma: either we have some form of a civilisation in 30 years or we have millions of people scavenging in its remaints.

There is also level 0 in which we for example start to syntesize methanol from coal or C02 from the air, using nuclear or renewable energy. Quite possible, don't you think? Assuming breeder reactors there is uranium for 500 years of world energy consumtion, and this at the current (quite wasteful) levels. Not to mention the renewables potential if we find better ways to harness it.

I tend to think that various parts of the world will experience scenarious in the range of 0-1. At and below 2, things will most certainly fall apart in an uncontrollable chain reaction, leaving us in the stone age by the end of the century. That's why I suggest we concentrate on the various sub-scenarious of these and try to work for those that do not lead to the catastrophic ones :)

I wanted the scale to be relatively small (there's plenty of scope for subdivisions later) and I wanted it to cover the full range of possibilities, hence the final 3 levels which don't involve human survival. As I roughed out possible levels a total of 9 seemed to fit quite well.

The scale is inevitably anthropomorphic, after all we're most interested in human situations. If anything I think the difference between the first 4 levels is a bit narrow. Remember, it's about levels of collapse: a recession, moderate depression or even quite large disruption does not constitute collapse in this context, so consider level 0 as a non-collapse state.

For developed countries disruption of electricity supply for a week or more could well directly result in a significant number of deaths, there could be more due to indirect effects such as lawlessness. Less developed countries (or developed countries as they were less than a century ago) could shrug off a level 1 collapse without too much bother.

I think that the majority of countries would continue to function through a level 2 collapse but probably not through a level 3 collapse. Currently I expect a level 2 collapse within 10 years ( > 50% probability). Collapse to stone age levels (a deep level 6) is highly unlikely, there would be plenty of opportunities to stop well shorty of that unless something like widespread nuclear exchanges happened.

If peak oil happens within 5 years or so and the decline rate is 3% or more there is zero chance we can mitigate in time to avoid significant forced change and disruption using any known mix of solutions. It then becomes a question of whether we respond rationally, cooperatively, fairly and effectively. History does not suggest optimism on that.

I don't see a 'collapse to the Stone Age' and (to be fair) I don't think KD meant that literally in his article.  Ken was likely trying to draw attention to the seriousness of the situation.  To many teenagers and younger folks in OECD nations who are used to 'push button technology' and an era of cheap and virtually instant travel on demand the future might well seem like the Stone Age.

I live in UK and would like to quote the example of my grandparents who did not use any oil.  They lived by subsistance farming and outings / holidays once or so a year were by coal powered trains.  Water used to be drawn from a hand-pumped well and the toilets were outside dry closets.  To my knowledge, however, they were never cold nor hungry and life was not unhappy despite the hardship v today's much more lavish lifestyles.  In no way would I descibe such a lifestyle as 'Stone Age' and yet it was totally different to what prevails today.

I think the real danger here is not the actual standard of living (which while lower will be very reasonable v many undeveloped nations for decades to come) but how individuals, businesses and Gov'ts will react to the (permanent) end of 'business as usual'.  The necessary powerdown may well be anything but organised.

If you think your grandparents were never cold, read "The Road to Wigan Pier" by George Orwell.
I am SO happy to see that somebody still reads that book. I recommend it to everyone. Back about fifty years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I kept writing term papers on George Orwell: "Orwell as an intellectual," "Orwell and Socialism as a Social Movement," etc., etc. Of course it was all the same paper, but after many drafts and and heckuva lot of research I learned a lot.

THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER marked George Orwell (i.e. Eric Blair's, not the one on this site, the real one) decisive break with mainstream British socialism. The Left Book Club reluctantly published it, then tried to bury it. The "we the clever ones will take over and show the masses how wonderful it is to as the Soviet Union does" and the old fabians hated that book with a passion.

It is so damn good. Everybody should read it. Also, read everything else Orwell wrote. There is not a journalist writing today worthy to pick up his cigarette butts.

Given a long, slow squeeze, I can't see us in any level below 2.

Consider that Cuba lost almost all their oil in a matter of months and they barely reached level 2.

However, a country's internal politics makes a huge difference.  North Korea had the similar oil issues to Cuba, but they reached somewhere around level 3 or 4.

So how the various governments react will make a huge difference.

Given a fairly level-headed, sensible government (are there any?), I would expect nothing worse than level 1.

Cuba was never really self-supporting, though.  They still imported their staples, rice and beans.  That's what we'll be losing: the insurance policy of a world with plentiful food surpluses and the oil to get it where it's needed.  

North Korea's government bears some blame for the famine, because they did not admit they were in trouble, and did not ask for international aid until it was really bad.  However, they also had some really bad luck.  A tsunami ruined some of their best farmland.  

In any case, I don't think Cuba is a reasonable example of what peak oil will be like.  

If the US loses a lot of agricultural production, the consequences could be fairly benign if we cut these first:
  • Corn-to-ethanol (a billion or so bushels/year)
  • Most beef cattle feedlots
Cutting the ethanol program alone frees up several bushels/person/year, enough to make all the cornflakes, cornbread and hush puppies you can eat.  I'm not sure how much soy go into cattle feed, but I would not be surprised if it could make 90% of America heartily sick of tofu.  Slaughtering the grain-fed beef herds will make for one huge sale on steak (rangeland will still produce grass-fed beef), and you can move from beef at 8:1 grain to product to chicken at 2:1; this gets the same amount of protein for 1/4 the grain.
BTW range-fed beef tastes a lot better than corn fed beef does--at least to me an a lot of other people who pay top dollar to get imported Brazilian grass-fed beef.

In the good old days, whenever we would stop in Wyoming or the Dakotas we could get these magnificent huge grass-fed beefsteaks; they would cover an entire large plate and were thick, for maybe $1.25 (including potato and veggie). The steak must have weighed nearly two pounds and was not as tender as corn fed, but oh me or my, the flavor. . . .

Now if you want grass-fed beef, either raise it yourself or pay through the nose to get it. There are a few, a very few American ranchers who raise beef the old fashioned way, but you can find it at some premium markets. Chuck steak, maybe $12 a pound. Maybe more.

I don't care for grass-fed beef myself.  When we lived in the Philippines, there was very little beef to be had (a lot of caribao, though).  What beef there was was imported from New Zealand, and grass-fed.  I thought it tasted terrible.  Like...grass.  You could taste the chlorophyll.  My mom tried various marinades, to disguise that taste, but nothing worked.  

Though I'm sure if I were hungry enough, I'd eat it.

De gustibus non est disputandum.
And if (like me) you didn't know what Don's latin phrase means, you can find out here.

Essentially, it means "there's no accounting for taste".

And I would have to agree. Grain-fed beef is for people who cannot stomach the true taste of beef.  It is a sanitised version of beef that has had the 'natural' taste removed.

It's a bit like the difference between 'barn-raised' (today's nice term for battery-production) chicken eggs and true free-range.  We have chickens in our back yard, and I could not believe how yellow the yolks were when we used the first ones.  Now, I can't believe how pale even the commercial 'free-range' eggs are when we have to buy extra.

I would say that the extra taste is most likely attributed to additional nutrients that are missing from grain-fed beef. Just think about how unhealthy we would be if we just ate nothing but grains without fresh fruit and vegetables.

I think the 2030:s over here will be a lot like the 1950:s but with larger houses, much more urban shops and bars, better rail traffic, uncomparable hospitals and much funnier electronic toys. Most people can take a car out for sunday driving and middle class families either own a villa, a summer cottage they get to by car or a boat and not all at the same time. Comfortable materialism but with a slower pace and a lot more bicycling is my guess.
I have given much thought about the 200 million guns floating around. Worse, with no obvious cause like a huge hurricane but instead a financial collapse, there could be a HUGE rash of shootings, suicide gunmen and bombers in workplaces, and probable civil war. The South COULD rise again!

Financial disasters can be as effective as nuclear weapons, with a teaser being buildings still standing like Enron. That was a financial disaster like a 9/11. With the National Debt looming like a Soviet first strike at any time, all bets are off. We know how plant closings can effectively nuke a town. Look at Detroit as a financially nuked city. It's almost like Bladerunner now. Intentionally filing of a Chapter 11 constitutes a Weapon of Mass Foreclosure. I thought of this years ago, where if I got fired from the postal service, I'd deliberately write an expose' book, and cause privatisation. With 800,000 workers getting wages slashed, you'd get mass foreclosure, hence "WMF". Who needs plutonium?

Doesn't Kevin Costner come back as "The Postman" many years later, after the die-off?

But before that, he does a post-Global Warming stint in "Water World" as the gilled savior of child-kind (and maybe mankind).

Yep, those are the ones. WaterWorld was a good laugh, an unintended comedy. I was in a bar with a fellow Navy veteran fairly fresh off the boat, so to speak. I almost got kicked out of the place! Something about my fading in and out Australian accent... ( we were both Americans)
Guns don't kill people. Dick Cheney kills (almost) people. Lowest murder rate by firearms in 50 states? North Dakota. Highest per-capita gun ownership in 50 states? North Dakota.

Roughly forty years ago in an issue of "Co-Evolution Quarterly" the late great Herman Kahn pointed out that there are "cosmopolitans" and "locals," two different kinds of people in the U.S. I have taught about 9,000 students over 31 years in a small town in northern Minnesota. All, or almost all, of the males owned three guns (or more): A .22 rifle for plinking, a deer rifle, and a shotgun. Many of the women also owned guns and hunted. You metro types do not get it. Bambi is for eating. We (unlike Dick Cheney) do not point guns at people. We are taught to respect guns as tools.

Who kills with guns? Mostly people who have had no training whatsoever with them. Look, in my ROTC regiment I was #2 with rifle--big deal. Anybody can shoot a rifle.

BTW I know real genuine cowboys who carry six-gun revolvers. Do you know why? Because sometimes a cow will break her leg, and you have to end the suffering. That is by far the #1 reason cowboys carry six-guns, movies to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Pentagon knows, and has known since the Polaris
subs were prowling the Arctic.  http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1153513,00.html]

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday February 22, 2004

They've also known since 1982 that Ghawar would peak today.  Google Frank Church Classified Report

And then this:

This number is not a familiar one even among climate researchers, and is not readily available. For example, when we put the question to a very senior climate scientist, he said: "I would think it's definitely over 400 - probably about 420." So we asked one of the world's leading experts on the effects of greenhouse gases on climate, Professor Keith Shine, head of the meteorology department at the University of Reading, to calculate it precisely. Using the latest available figures (for 2004), his calculations show the equivalent concentration of C02, taking in the effects of methane and nitrous oxide at 2004 levels, is now 425ppm. This is made up of CO2 itself, at 379ppm; the global warming effect of the methane in the atmosphere, equivalent to another 40ppm of CO2; and the effect of nitrous oxide, equivalent to another 6ppm of CO2.

The tipping point warned about last week by the Government is already behind us.

PeakOil, Climate Change, and Exponential population

These will all come together next month in the Atack on Iran.  As January 31, 2003, was the date(Downing St Memos) for issuing Battle Orders to Invade Iraq, you
can be sure the Battle Orders have already been issued for the F18's North of Ben Gurion and the B2's in Kansas City to attack Iran.

We've got a month.  Think of March 1861. And July 1914.

And August 1939, because that's where we are today.


Funny you should mention 1914. I was just saying to my wife this weekend how this whole "comic crisis" had an Archduke Ferdinand feel...
yes, I've always been interested in the "quiet' before the
storm periods.

Barbara Tuchman in The Guns of August,  lays it all

And then Kunstler mentions 1861

 When the public finally discovers how they have been let down or played by these leaders, there will be a convulsion more severe than the one that tore this country apart in 1861.

And then our "Leader" shoots a man and tries to cover
it up.  What will he do in a Crisis?  Have a heart attack

We're about to witness the greatest event in our lives.



then our "Leader" shoots a man and tries to cover it up.

I thought he was trying to educate his lawyer friend on the use of pellets and on conservation of energy.

Absolutely right.  It must have been premeditated murder.  He was given a warning for not having his bird stamp.  What else would fit THAT modus operandi?
I took that particular statement as metaphorical. It makes more sense as a response to:

The Times reports that solar energy today supplies one percent of US electricity; the hope is to double that to 2 percent by the year 2025.

In this context, 2% is a real pittance. We would need much more than that to make a dent. Also, consider 2025 is less than 20 years away, and 20 years is the timeframe that Hirsch said would be needed to completely deal with oil peaking.

Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.

Finally, look at the current world financial situation. Mainstream economists like Stephen Roach at Morgan Stanley have been saying for some time that the US trade deficit isn't sustainable. Consider the conclusion of his statement today.

The imported saving comes at a real cost -- overly-indebted and asset-stretched American consumers, on the one hand, and a collection of US creditors that are under-consuming at home and massively overweight dollars in their rapidly growing stashes of official foreign exchange reserves. I don't buy the idea that these tensions are manifestations of a glorious new era for a dollar-centric world economy. I worry, instead, that as the liquidity cycle turns, asset-driven global imbalances are reaching the breaking point. [Morgan Stanley GEF]

Twenty years of a liquid fuels deficit for a nation addicted to the stuff. One of the largest trade deficits in world history. Our worst savings rate since the great depression. Not to mention a current war in Iraq and war drums beating for Iran.

If we don't make near perfect choices soon, it will certainly feel like the stone age in the US in 2025.

Add on to that the fact that for twenty years the U.S. has been bent on destroying it's domestic manufacturing capacity.  Any crash program for anything would have to first recreate the construction, engineering, and manufacturing talent necessary.
If they gave me the same pay they give the lawyer that's got my job now, I'd come back.  Otherwise, solving this situation is up to him.  Maybe he can pull up the rails and make the company money, but that solution only works once.
Thanks for the MorganStanley link.  I collect all documents confirming "my" theory, so I can say it wasn't my fault when it doesn't happen, but this one has gotta' be a no-brainer.  If the scenario comes to pass, its going to be a hell of a ride.  The latest trend is the USD up with higher interest rate expectations.  I expect that trend will continue, until the lemmings realize what's going on again then...snap.  I am also noticing that there may be a top in the SP500 coming, which would also fit a double bottom at a nice technical level for the EURUSD and other crosses.  I'm not saying this is the big one, as I expect things to enter a continuing pattern of increasing oscillations and half-recoveries... until the lemmings finally get it too (late), but this just might be the infamous butterfly turbulence that you can only feel during the calm before the storm.  Its strange that the dollar is up, oil, gold and other commodities down, US fundamentals poor, higher interest rates expected, Japan fundamentals looking good, Iraq War ending but 480 billion more needed, N.O. & Iran are history, peak oil problem will be easily solved... all at the same time.  I was somewhere near the front of the lemming pack in 1986, so this time I'm taking my seat at the 50 yd line.  And for now, I'm watching all butterfly takeoffs and landings.  If I was you, I'd keep one eye on that oil bourse butterfly.
In this context, 2% is a real pittance. We would need much more than that to make a dent.
2% of average US electric consumption is about 9 GW.  We installed about 2.5 GW of wind power alone last year, so even if we have no increase in the installation rate (production is fully booked for this year and we can expect manufacture to increase) we'll have another 35 GW by 2020.  At .30 capacity factor, that's an average of 10.5 GW.

It looks like we're on track to hit 2% regardless.  If we quadruple installations, we'd hit 8%.  Then there are the 25 kWe solar Stirling dishes; quite a few megawatts of those are going into the California desert, and a concerted effort to put those in a belt from Austin to Los Angeles could probably absorb 100,000 a year or more.  2.5 GW(peak)/year * 0.30 capacity factor * 10 years = 7.5 GW average.

Not his first doomy pronouncement.  

"The least-bad scenario is a hard landing, global recession worse than the 1930s," says Kenneth Deffeyes, a Princeton University professor emeritus of geosciences. "The worst-case borrows from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: war, famine, pestilence and death."

USA Today, 10/16/2005


Your last sentence pretty much says it all.  Like several of the above posts reason, its not how much oil is left to share  fairly and equally among all the havenots, it could boil down quite rapidly to, who's got the economy to finance the purchases, or in the worst scenario... who's got the muscle to take what they want.

Seems like most of the world should be considering a "CEPO" treaty, where all countries are given an oil purchase quota that could be ratioed to their inverse average road vehicle mpg/capita... or something.  Maybe that would last until things got really bad.

I take it (the 2025) quote as a grumpy last call, the bar is closing.  It may not really be the stone age ... but how does it go?

Oh yeah, "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."

Very good point!
Personally, I am skeptical of all forecasts, especially those about the future. (Thank you, Yogi Berra.)

Let us, for example, take weather forecasts. Sailors and pilots live and die by the weather, and we always check the weather forecast--and in lots of detail. But does that mean we believe it? Hell no. You die that way. Herewith one specific example. A few months ago I was doing what I do best, teaching a couple of beautiful young co-eds (Actually one was a beautiful post-doc in biophysics from France, but I digress.) how to sail. The forecast is routine, wind eight to ten miles an hour in the afternoon, then coming up to about twelve in the afternoon and dying back a bit toward sundown. Perfectly normal forecast, which I check three times from three different sources, because I'm a real careful guy.

O.K. ten a.m. and there I am out on the lake with my two sailing students and the wind is about eight knots, just like the forecast said. But one of the girls has never reefed the sail, and so I have her do it as the French woman and I trade sailing stories--turns out she has extensive racing experience and has crewed on big yachts in North Sea gales, which turns out to be very important information. Why? Because, apparently out of nowhere comes a line squall, which I notice when we are about 500 yards from the dock, and I calmly tell the girl with three hours of sailing experience to sail us to the dock, as I glance at the French woman and at the approaching weather. She knows what is coming. To shorten a rather exiting story, we made it back to the dock (the only boat on that lake that did so), dropped the sails and huddled for shelter as the squall came through at eleven in the morning with much lightning, a deluge of rain and a helluva wind. The maximum wind gust at the airport (about two miles away) was clocked at seventy-one knots--that is knots, not statute miles per hour. The maximum wind was nowhere near anything in the forecast--but about eight to ten times that amount.

Here is my big point: If we cannot forecast the weather an hour in advance, why should we place much confidence in ANY forecast with regard to climate change?

One of the most intelligent men I've ever known thought the crunch was coming more than fifty years ago, and in 1948 bought an itty bitty little Crosley car and began stockpiling copper tubing.

Rather than obsessing about what the future is going to look like, I would like to see more constructive thinking on how to create a better future. Granted, our powers to do that are limited--perhaps very limited--but it sure beats wasting energy and emotion trying to figure out what "the" future is going to be like.

So how do we convert the power of the squawl into electrical energy?

(BTW sailing in the South Bay local parks was tranquil despite the tempest up there on the Berkeley side. Of course the San Andreas fault protects us from the ocean's temperments down here in Silicon Valley :-)

'bout 40 years ago I was sailing Ensign #382 as skipper checking out a senior skipper for one of his required cruises to get the Cruising Skipper rating with Cal Sailing Club, and we're going north through Racoon Strait (again a normal forecast, no small-craft warnings) and the waves are those weird steep pyramids you get from the tides at the south end of Racoon Strait when I see one helluva gust coming, look at Gary the skipper, he dumps the mainsheet while I let go the jib and everybody scrambles for the weather rail. That gust broke the wind meter on Mount Tam at 107 knots. Knocked the mast and sail into the water and we took on a few hundred gallons, but nobody hurt, no damage to the boat. I hear Ensign #382 is still sailing in 2006.
Don Sailorman wrote: "Here is my big point: If we cannot forecast the weather an hour in advance, why should we place much confidence in ANY forecast with regard to climate change?"

A resonable question sufficiently frequent that answering it no doubt drives climate modelers nuts. I've read that the atmospheric physics are sufficiently well understood that such a fine level of prediction in space and time is conceptually possible. But, due to the number of initial values and the number of calculations required, doing so is simply not computationally feasible. The following sites are some with information on this question.

Stephen Schneider's Climate Science site -  http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Climate/Climate_Science/ClimateScienceProjections.html  under "Climate Modeling" about half-way down the page.

Spencer Weart's "The Discovery of Global Warming" -

Real Climate blog - Is Climate Modelling Science?

Climate Models - Roger A. Pielke Sr. Research Group Climate Science blog


My reading of reputable resources, such as articles published in "Science" and "Nature" leads me to the firm conclusion that nobody understands what CO2 and methane forcing is going to do to cloud cover. If we do not know what is going to happen to cloud cover, then we do not know what will happen to the earth's albedo. If we do not know how earth's albedo is going to change (not even in which direction, never mind magnitude) we know absolutely diddly squat about what the climate will be like in fifty years.

I would be delighted to find a reputable peer-reviewed source that contradicts my skepticism.

Try the IPCC.

Of course nobody knows what the climate will be like in 50 years. But the point is odds are it will be radically different, and almost certainly worse for humans.

Seriously, stop the nitpicking and accept the fact that scientists are calling it climate change, not global warming. None of the sites you mentioned doubted the consensus view. Its like cigarette smoking. Sure, you can find tobacco funded studies that say there is doubt in the harm, but consesus is that tobacco kills people. I'm sure there are fossil fueled funded studies doubting the validity of climate change theories, but you'd be a fool to base the path of the planet on them.

O.K., I'm glad you agree with my main point.

My history of skepticism goes back a long way. Back in the late sixties and early seventies there was a solid, very solid consensus of all (or nearly all) reputable climatologists that we were going into a new glacial period and that the data of 1940-1968 proved this point beyond all reasonable doubt. I did not believe the analysis of those climatologists then (which was largely based on Milankovitch cycle models) and I question not the integrity and not the good will of climatologists today--but I do question whether they have knowledge of the future or mere opinion.

Because of the nature of climate changes, the mathematics of chaos, the possibility of "butterfly" effects, the unknown contribution of variations in volcanic activity, what do I conclude?

Yes, there is a pretty strong probability, say five to three, in favor of major climate change over the next hundred years. What bothers me is people who claim certain knowledge when clearly the evidence does not support any strong claim to ability to forecast climate changes.

One last joke, because I'm an economist. Why did God create economic forecasters? To make weather forecasters look good by comparison;-)

The glacial thing is often mis-reported.  There's a guy out there who has a vast collection of 70's era scientific and semi-scientific publications.  It turns out the scientists talked as scientists do ... that climate change can happen, that it tends to happen every umpty-ump years, and so on.

The great leap came in the general press, where headlines tended to scream things the scientists did not, exactly, say.

I'm sure you can find current examples of that.

Prediction is a tricky business, but it's sad when it is further clouded by urban legends.

You got that right! About the proliferation of urban legends. What I have (sorrowfully) discovered is that the blogosphere multiplies the number and impact of urban legends.

Although my mind is not made up, I am tentatively of the opinion that the Internet is an experiment that failed.

Like television.

If you are a firm believer in Sturgeon's law, then the medium doesn't really matter ;-).

I personally am very appreciative of the accendent of history that gave us this medium without any single authority of mediation.  I was just saying the other day that while it was true that Al Gore didn't "invent" the internet, without his funding bill (at just the right time), it is quite possible that we'd all be on AOL right now.  Think about that!

Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crud.
Of course, that is a DUET, Deep Universal Eternal Truth.

However, sometimes crud multiplies and circulates faster than at other times. Couple of hundred years ago if you wanted to write something, you first get a goose quill, sharpen it with a penknife, carefully open an ink well, and then sit down with a relatively expensive sheet of paper in front of you and perhaps a rather expensive candle for light. There is a good chance that you would think before you write.

But now. Holy smokes. People are typing at a hundred words a minute before engaging their minds.

Adam Smith used to go for twenty mile walks to clarify his thinking before he wrote anything down. We could do worse than to follow his example.

A twenty mile walk makes me take a nap.
we know absolutely diddly squat about what the climate will be like in fifty years.

We know one thing, that it will be different from the way it is today.  Another thing we know is that we've got a boatload of capital tied up in systems that depend on things not changing.  

Regardless of direction or magnitude, it's going to be disruptive.

Please pause for a moment to consider the meaning and content of the last sentence you wrote above.

Thank you.

Allow me to rephrase:

"Regardless of the direction, any appreciable change in the climate will have expensive repercussions."

(I realized I'd walked into that one with my eyes open about 15 seconds after I hit 'Post'.  Thanks for calling me on it.)

Don, I agree predictions are basically useless in themselves when it comes to trying to hit some tightly defined target, but I also think it merits some effort using one's imagination in these situations.  If you can't envision the scenarios the future may have in store, of which making a prediction is merely stating one of those as inevitible, how do you prepare?  Just because one guy gets off on a tangent and starts collecting copper tubing doesn't mean that his idea was wrong.  It could be just his timing was off.  Admittedly, if I believed what I saw on 50's TV, my node would be on mars now, and I still believe even that will happen some day.  And, Don, I'm sure you don't mean to discount the works of the likes of Gallio or Jules Verne.  When it comes to predictions, I think timing is everthing.  Granted it may not mean much of practical significance if you get the timing wrong, but it still just might be worth the effort.  Everything seems to come true, given enough time.  In that light, Nostrodamus made some good ones and still has a chance to get them all right, no?  Occasionally the time window moves right, sometimes left, which is also difficult to predict, so I don't see the harm in this as long as I don't start asking for money while using my imagination.  Only the time window makes the difference between sane and crazy.  And as you say, nobody predicted the extreme wind you encountered out on the lake, but if you personally talked to the meterologist, he might have offered  you some small probability of getting a 70 kn wind, which only goes to show that thinking even in the extremes can also be helpfull.  Would you then call that useless, or would you have thought twice before taking that French girl out there?  You don't have to answer that. :-)
Nostradamus? Oy, veh.

I'd sail with that French woman into a hurricane; she is small (five feet one inch tall, maybe just under 100 lbs.) but extremely smart and knowledgeable about sailing.

Because I do not make claims to know what the future is like, I find for myself the course of prudence is to live as if TEOTWAWKI comes within the next five years--50% chance. Business pretty much as usual for the next fifty years--50% chance. Neither of these extremes is likely to occur, but by being prepared for both I'll be able to handle anything in between.

By analogy, when I go out in a small sailboat I take a paddle, because there may be no wind. Also, I am mentally prepared to watch for and survive a 100 knot wind, because those happen too.

Never bet the farm (or your life) on a forecast.  

Right.  One time I had to spiral down through the only hole left in an otherwise "clear" sky forecast, another, land in a 60-70 Kn gusts to 80 sustained 45º crosswind during "light and variable" conditions.
Been there. Done that. My flying instructor--and sailing buddy--once yelled at me: "Don you always fly by the book! You are going to DIE, because you've got to know when to throw the book away." Some weeks later he demonstrated this when he turned my lovely Piper Cherokee 9307 Whiskey (235B with constant speed prop and full electronics) into a stone and we dropped through a hole in the cloud about 8,000 feet straight down. He made me promise that I would never do that until I had 5,000 hours, and I never have.
You want visions of a better future?  Got some to share?  Hop on over to The Ergosphere.  Here's a short list of what I've got for your skeptical analysis:
What do the admins here make of his revised numners?  Especially this calculation:
"An update of the calculation reported on page 49 of Beyond Oil gives an unchanged estimate: 2.013 trillion barrels. ...  The world peak would then happen when 1.0065 trillion barrels have been produced (half of 2.013). Following Hubbert, I used the Oil & Gas Journal end-of-year production numbers...  The cumulative world production at the end of 2004 was 0.9812 trillion barrels and at the end of 2005 it was 1.00748 trillion. During the year, we passed the halfway point. The graph shows the date of the crossover: December 16, 2005."

Is there any merit to his line of argument?

According to Richard Duncan's latest

Watch for Electrical BrownOuts and Blackouts.
Electricity is
hands down our most important end-use energy. To
wit: I estimate that 7% of the world*s oil is consumed
by the electric power sector, 20% of the world*s
natural gas, 88% of the coal, and 100% each for
nuclear and hydroelectric power. The result is that
electric power accounts for 43% of the world*s enduse
energy compared to oil*s 35%.
The critical role that electricity plays in the
United States is likewise telling. Out of the total enduse
energy consumed in each of the social sectors in
1) 0.2% was electricity in the Transportation

  1. 33.3% in the Industrial sector,
  2. 65.9% in the Residential sector

....Thus, except for lightning strikes and tornadoes, it
might seem that the power networks would always
operate reliably, thus completely avoiding big

But that is false. Power control specialists J. Apt
and L. B. Lave (2004) have warned:
Data for the last four decades show that
blackouts occur more frequently than theory
predicts, and they suggest that it will become
increasing expensive to prevent these lowprobability,
high-consequence events. The
various proposed "fixes" are expensive and
could even be counterproductive, causing future
failures because of some unanticipated

Self Organized Criticality will begin to show itself now
(think sand grains causing a sand pile to avalanche).

The Fat Tail of Inverse Linearization of Hubbert's Curve
where perturbations occur more frequently than theory
predicts.  The Zipf, Pareto, Mandelbrot Power Laws.

Chaos Theory-the Bifurcation is upon us-A new
Steady State will soon present itself.


These numbers vary dramatically with the ASPO figures.  My website discussion of Peak Oil is based on Colin Campbell's two models.  His conventional oil hubbert peak passed in Feb 2004 and his all-liquids hubbert peak is recalculated this week at Feb 2009.  We will update our web discussion after the Olympics.  Because Campbell shares his data, we trust his numbers.

This may be more about ego's and selling books...

The only recent eyebrow raising feature we see in the developing 2005 data is the separation of the hubbert peak from the production peak.  Campbell has pushed the production peak to 2005 from 2004, thus divorcing the two conventional peaks.

Similarly the "all liquids" peak remains at 2010, a year after its halfway point of cumulative extraction.

Campbell has gone public with his dismay that many countries have not recently adjusted "down" their reserve data and hence there is room for error in his totals.  He hopes to address this shortly.  This also indicates that we may see an upward revision in his 1.850-Tb & 2.4-Tb URR's.

watch our site for new numbers in March:

Remind me.  Is the 2.013-Tb a calculation of conventional oil or "all liquids"?

While i have everyone's attention, the continuing saga on extraction peak unwrinkles as this:  IEA has announced downward revised Dec global production to 84.7-mbd from 85-mbd.  This ties the mark set in August 2005.  The preliminary January 2006 rate is 84.6-mbd.

TOD says highest production to date is May, Freddy claims August. Which is right? It makes some difference - if Aug, K/R excuses why world production declined since, if May there is no excuse.
Even if Aug, Freddy needs to explain why production is not higher now - gom production is now down only 250k/d, while most of the curves he shows predict production rising around 1.5+m/d/year over the next decade - surely if these are generally correct we should by now be at a new peak considering prices still over 60 and we are 6 months further on...

Freddy's site talks of SPR down only 1% yoy, and which I get from a newsletter I subsribe to - this is misleading, as is US commercial storage being 25m higher than last year. If commercial borrowers paid back the barrels borrowed from the US SPR last fall, commercial storage would be only modestly up yoy. And, this does not get into the millions of barrels, mostly gasoline, borrowed from eurasia, and presumably owed by commercial entities - does anybody know when these are supposed to be repaid? Is it before, or after, next hurricane season? What would commercial gasoline stocks, also shown fat, be like if repayment occurs before the summer driving season?

His site speaks rather optimistically about better production from Iraq/Nigeria and other trouble spots. Time will tell, I suppose... meanwhile, we are less than six months from the next hurricane season, with Hugo lying awake nights trying to figure out how to stop selling to the US while still getting the cash to run his country, and while Israel mulls her options in avoiding the next holocaust... As an aside, if Israel chooses to act, I cannot imagine any US administration in history more willing to help than this one.

Hi Freddy.

Deffeyes' models include what Colin Campbell calls "Conventional Oil" plus "Deepwater". It's the black liquid from whatever place it may come. It excludes all the other non-conventional liquids like ngl, tar sands, bitumen, methanol and so on.

Although defining a date to the peak can be a dangerous thing to do, it is interesting to note than both models are quite close to each other. The difference is that Colin Campbell expects a huge growth in Deepwater production.

"Energy conservation is by far the most important"
Absolutely true given that the greater portion of our
energy use is simply wasted. It is no better than cashing
in the paycheque and then burning a few of the dollar bills
           Just one small personal example: I changed most
of my incadescents for CFL light bulbs. Found essentially no difference in light quality. According to EnerStar site
if all US households changed just 5 bulbs from incadescent
to CFLs, then annual output of 21 power plants would be
saved. The sum of all such small changes in all types of energy use means that PO will NOT cause a return to the Stone Age.
Yes, there is certainly a lot of belt tightening that we could do with electricity, that wouldn't involve any kind of hardship.

Over the last couple of years (started before I discovered PO, when electricity charges started increasing) we done a few things to reduce our electricity use.  Recently this has stepped up a gear and in the next few months our solar water heating and wood-fired boiler should remove water heating from the bill.  But even before these, our daily electricity use has gone down to about 15 KWh a day average (from about 50 - 60).

Now, a lot of people use way more than that and have similar lifestyles.  A friend here at work (in a similar house with a similar family size/make-up) used almost four times as much. She had a solar water heater installed and it has reduced her power bill by almost two-thirds!

I have to admit, though, that we are not big on the electronic stuff. We don't have a TV, and the kids can amuse themselves without the use of electronics (no computer/playstation/etc.)

However, water heating is what we should be concentrating on. It can easily account for over half your electricity bill.

For a mind-blowingly different take on the oil situation, see:

Cancel That Apocalypse -- The Oil Crisis Is Over

A lot of economics types have been publishing, "See, I told you so" articles. They think the runup in oil prices is another dot-com boom, and will end much as the dot-com boom did. Hence the emphasis on calling the market top - the point where you should sell because it's going to be downhill after that.

The price of oil will fluctuate. (That is in fact expected when a resource is growing scarce.) But no way is this the "market top," and no way will there be a collapse like the dot-com bust.

And speaking of economics...

Syria switches to euro amid confrontation with US

I guess the "petrodollar" theory of war will get a test.  If it's true, I'll expect the Bush adminstration to suddenly start claiming that Saddam's WMD were smuggled to Syria again.  ;-)

Last time I checked Syria did not have oil to export :)

If Bush & Co attacked every country that converted its assets to euro, we would have been amidst WWIII envolving USA vs European Union, Russia, the whole Eastern Europe and growing parts of Asia.

Syria does have oil, though not as much as some of their neighbors.

According to the CIA factbook, Syria exports 285,000 bbl/day.  

Yes you are right I did not check my asserion before posting it.

When I googled it it turn out that last year Syrian oil production experienced a catastrophic drop from 525 000 bpd. to  403,800 bpd. or 23% in spite of increased investments.
This should have driven its exports to the mere 163 800 bpd. if their internal consumption remained flat. It seems their NG sector is more perspective than oil.

In all cases Syria is not that significant of a player to endager petrodolar system or justify military actions IMO.

Iraq wasn't a threat to the petrodollar, either.  Those who believe the petrodollar theory of war think Iraq was a threat by the example they set.  If others followed, then we'd have been in trouble.  The war was a warning to the rest of the region.
Syria may very well get away with it because it is small. It's oil export totals to $3.5 bln. which is nothing.

Many other countries now trade in euros and have converted much larger assets in euros without any problems. I see the Iraqy war as an attempt to gain control over the region. The message was not "We will attack you if you step on our toes", but "Now, that we are here you will have huge problems if you step on our toes". And it is happening - USA is pressing hardly Syria on accusations of terrorism; and much more obviously pressing Iran. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already tied, so who else is there to keep from switching?  

The neo cons will not go for military intervention if the expected "return" is lower than their "expenses". For these guys this is just business.

The neocons transfer their expenses to the military.  Keeps all the negatives completely off the books.
Ever see a string of dominos go down.  Starts with one.
Isn't most of that oil that is really coming from Iraq, that is "off the books." I thought all the Syrians made made was good bread and bad liars.
[The Syrian connection was alleged BEFORE we invaded Iraq, by Ariel Sharon, in a CNN interview on Christmas day, 2002 http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/12/25/israel.syria/]. This is not new. It only seems new because the MSM tries to make it sound new, and because the MSM itself mostly ignored Sharon's statement when he made it. In fact, after Sharon's statement, many people expected no WMDs to be found in Iraq, for precisely that reason.
(How did I end up in HTML mode anyway? :) That will teach me to preview before I hit post. Bah on no edit capability! :) )

The Syrian connection was alleged BEFORE we invaded Iraq, by Ariel Sharon, in a CNN interview on Christmas day, 2002. This is not new. It only seems new because the MSM tries to make it sound new, and because the MSM itself mostly ignored Sharon's statement when he made it. In fact, after Sharon's statement, many people expected no WMDs to be found in Iraq, for precisely that reason.

Above the box where you type your comment is a drop down menu: "Comment formatting". The choices are HTML formatted, Plain Text, and Auto Format. Take your pick!

You can also set your default preference in "Comment preferences" on the front page of TOD (or any TOD page I guess) under the part that shows you are logged in as GreyZone.

I've done that and it is always normally "Auto Format", hence why I did not check it. The only times necessary to change it are when auto-format won't do the job, which has been rare for me. And as I write this response, yes, it is set to "Auto Format" in the pulldown. As I said, I am unsure exactly what occurred there.
Some of us are still waiting for your response to questions posed regarding things you posted regarding Iran on Saturday.
I've posted a response. I see you have no reply though to Sharon's statements from Dec. 25th, 2002.
I've responded on the Ahmadinejad topic. I'm not sure what you are refering to when you mention Sharon.
Um, in another context I've said this before: People who know cannot talk, and those that write (and post) do not know.
I was referring to the post I made just above this one. If you had read the link above, you would have known what the reference was.
Yeah, but why do I need to comment? You want to go to war with Syria as well as Iran?

I have nothing good to say about Syria's role in world politics, but don't really see them as any type of threat.

I'm a supporter of both Israel and Sharon, contrary to what you may have come to believe. However, that doesn't mean Israeli intelligence is always right even though they seem to be generally very good. I'm not sure of the significance of this 3-year-old report.

My point here was that someone in this thread higher up made the wisecrack about WMDs and Syria, as if this were new news. My posting of that report from Sharon was to clarify that this is an old issue, and that if Sharon is correct then any WMDs (most likely chemical or biological) were routed to Syria before we even invaded Iraq.

That brings us to your point in this thread, which I still fail to understand except to use it as your own bully pulpit. Do you follow other posters around and harangue them in other threads with the sole intent of badgering til they personally reply to you somewhere else? If not, why begin now? I suggest you keep your comments to the pertinent topic thread. I would have replied regardless, but like many, I have a job and have to work as well. I cannot read TOD endlessly even if I wanted or respond instantly, so if you want a reply, you'll just have to wait til I get around to it. If that is not good enough for you, then too bad.

No, I just noticed your name when you posted something. I noticed your name from your Iran post where you fabricated a quote - a quite important quote - you claimed the President of Iran said he was going to blow up the world in the next two years. Not only that, you claimed that he was going to do this. There were at two or three comments on the issue, that you hadn't responded to, so I thought I would remind you in case you had forgotten about the post. It's a common problem, there are a lot of posts, and people do have jobs and lives. It's hard to keep track. If you continue to make stuff up and cover up your nonsense by attacking me, I'll continue to "harangue" you. Your best bet is to simply just drop it, since you have no argument.
Oil CEO, Here's an Iranian exile source which lends support to Grey Zone's assertion. Here's the relevant section:

As for the Hidden Imam, it seems he will not be quite as hidden as might be. The new IRI's presidentbelieves that he has been assigned to pave the way for the reappearance of the Imam in two years. The president has even during his recent controversial speech at the UN, where he was allegedly surrounded and protected by a "divine light", called for the Imam's reappearance.

Trough these allegations, he is not only trying to gain a holy status among those who do not attribute him a charismatic personality, but is also likely trying to prepare some conditions for his divine mission. The next two years will be probably marked by increasing tensions between the devoted followers of the Hidden Imam following controversial views about the Imam's reappearance....

In such an apocalyptic world, since the main principle of the Mahdi is that he is absolutely guided by God, the IRI, as a part of the divine guidance, has nothing of a normal state, it is a God's handpicked guidance for the mankind, and its acts are in complete accordance to God's will.The IRI, which already established a God's state, now at the best, prefers to have the Hidden Imam embodied by one of its members. Since the Mahdi is for Islam as well as for islamisation of the world, the amount of crimes can bloodily exceed many times than that of the old scores of the IRI; especial groups of elite jihadists can appear throughout the world to convert or massively kill non-believers.

While "massively kill non-believers" isn't quite the same as "blow up the world," it's close enough to make me nervous.

I appreciate the input, but out of respect for GreyZone won't respond at this time other than to say: make sure you read the entire original post, including all the links.
I will -- but please remind me where the original post is! Thanks.
The original post was titled A Little More Illustrative Info on Russia on Feb 10th.

The comment in question is GreyZone's on Feb 11th at 1:19 PM.

... 'You who build these altars now
to sacrifice these children,
you must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
and you never have been tempted
by a demon or a god.
You who stand above them now,
your hatchets blunt and bloody,
you were not there before,
when I lay upon a mountain
and my father's hand was trembling
with the beauty of the word.

And if you call me brother now,
forgive me if I inquire,
"Just according to whose plan?"
When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must,
I will help you if I can.
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must,
I will kill you if I can.
And mercy on our uniform,
man of peace or man of war,
the peacock spreads his deadly fan.'

Leonard Cohen, 'Story of Isaac'

Bloody monotheists, burn the lot of them I'd say, lest they burn everyone first.

I'm with you Agric. And irony of it all, it was quite possibly those pesky Persians that got started it. If only Zarathustra had had something better to do, we might all be pantheists today.
Peanut Oil huh?
Is that the "Shell" Oil theory of freak-economists?

Some may think this is an adhominen attack.
But at some point, reality has to set in that these pure economics types are way out to lunch with their peanut butter and jelly theories about how science and thermodynamics work.

Diesel and gasoline were not "just as easily" and arbitrarily picked as might have been any "other oil" or something or other.

Every material composition has specific characterisitcs and bounds: viscosity, flamability, abundance, energy density, etc. Ignorance, it appears, has no bounds.

More than a hundred years ago, when a clever German introduced his new invention to a big audience, the first two words he said, translated from the German, were: "Peanut Oil."

Never assume that Germans are dumb.

And the invention was . . . the diesel engine.

And now, for the Trivial Pursuit wedge in history, who invented the diesel engine?  

(Contrary to some reports, it was not Vin Diesel;-)

Re: "Matthew Lynn is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own"
Like all commodities, oil is subject to big fluctuations. Yet, the trends that caused its cost to triple over the past five years have faded. There are good reasons for thinking that oil will now settle in the $50 to $60 range.
And so that spare capacity is where????? I've looked all over the house and my neighborhood for it and can't find it. I thought while I was looking I might find some of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction but I didn't find those either.

And since supply is flat, then I started looking for that reduced demand. And I couldn't find that either.

At the same time, there has been a flood of investment into the oil industry. London's Alternative Investment Market is cluttered with companies set up to explore for oil in tiny countries with hard-to-pronounce names. Some of them will come up with nothing -- yet a few are likely to succeed.
Yes, some will. Offshore Mauritania comes to mind. They've got about 1 Gb in proven reserves, 1/29th of one year's world consumption. And there may be a mind-blowing 500 million barrels in some other African country that's never produced any oil--Somalia? And what are the oil companies doing? This Business Week article called it "Drilling On Wall Street".
Dave, what spare capacity are you talking about exactly? What you first quote doesn't mention any spare capacity.

And the recent price trend in oil (in the very short-term, granted) is down. So strictly speaking, there can't really be a problem. It's not that I don't believe the capacity isn't there - it is that I don't care. If something doesn't make sense - look at price, it usually doesn't lie. Short term price says everything is fine.

I will elaborate on what I think is happening in the global oil market soon but I need to collect my thoughts. One thing I will say is that you need to be prepared for a possible very long period where everything you thought would happen - doesn't.

In the next few days I'm going to publish a supply/demand chart that will show these things are very hard to track and measure given current numbers.

Capacity, to use an over-used phrase, but still one of my favorites, "is what it is."

Can you say that you would have seen anything different, had you been looking, in 1979(to arbitrarily pick a year)?

Don't fall into the trap of seeing the glass half-empty. We like to talk about Iraq and Nigeria and Venezuela and Iran and other "situations."

But these things come and go.

Do you realize that without the four specific above-mentioned examples/obstacles we would have an oil-glut and the price of crude would be about $25?

The pendulum swings both ways. Take the long-view.

"But these things come and go."

Yeah, but new stuff comes, and Murphy's Law pretty much says it all. For example, pipelines break. Obviously they are going to break sometimes, because when you put hot stuff at pressure through a long pipeline you will sooner or later find that your quality control for welds was not 100% good.

Had a big pipeline break a hundred yards from my office some years ago, created a huge toxic stinking lake that took weeks or months to cleanup. And how long to fix the pipline (one of the largest in Minnesota)? Months. The stench? So bad we had to cancel classes.

BTW, have you noticed how pipeline companies have cut back on aerial surveillance to save money? Scary.

Having a pool of oil in the front yard is good for you.

I heard a US Congressman say that.

IIRC it was Steve King (R) of Iowa yesterday on CSPAN. He said that Iraq has "so much oil" that why, heck, it pools up right there on the ground in the depressions of the earth. You don't even have to drill for it. You just scoop it up right there off the ground like so much syrup for your ice cream sundae.

(OK, he did not mention the ice cream sundae and the syrup. I was getting a bit carried away there with the imagery of all this oil just a bubbling up through the ground and Jed Clampett standing there, next to his ole' pal, Dick Cheney, both of them staring dumbfounded at where their shots landed.)

"tiny countries with hard-to-pronounce names"

How utterly patronizing!
Whenever someone characterizes a country like, say, Chad as a "tiny country with a hard-to-pronounce name" you aquire an sense of how this man views the world.

Here's a mistake from that article that I've seen elsewhere as well:
Auto manufacturers, who created the oil economy a century ago, have started to rethink the fuels they use. Toyota Motor Corp. this month reported record profit in its fiscal third quarter as sales were boosted by new hybrid models such as the Prius, which runs on a combination of gasoline and electricity.

The Prius definitely does not run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. It runs only on gasoline. Some of that gasoline is used to generate electricity which is stored and later turns the wheels, while some of it turns the wheels directly. But there is only one energy source for the Prius, and that is gasoline.

(There are experimental plug-in conversions for the Prius that will in fact let it run on a combination of gasoline and electricity, but these are not yet commercially available.)

Here's another place where I disagree:

The evidence for a big surge in the amount of oil being used just isn't there. According to a January report from the Paris-based International Energy Agency, global demand rose just 1.3 percent in 2005, compared with 3.8 percent in 2004. Prices don't usually rocket when there are fewer buyers.

If that were so, then why did prices in fact rocket during 2005, if "demand" grew so slowly? It doesn't make sense. The truth is that we have no measure of "demand" per se, in fact it doesn't even make sense as an economic concept. When people report "demand" what they really mean is "consumption"; and due to the nature of the oil business, consumption in any given year is very closely equal to production.

The truth is that production and consumption rose 1.3 percent in 2005, much slower growth than 2004, as prices soared. When prices rise as production/consumption level off that points to production difficulties; whereas prices falling points to softening in demand. The fact that prices were way up as production/consumption levels leveled off means that production limits were the cause, rather than a drop in demand.

Despite these disagreements, I do think it's possible that his conclusion is right, that we may not see much of an increase in oil prices in the near future. The future is always surprising, and chances are that many of the forces pushing up oil prices the past few months - hurricanes, iraq, iran, nigeria - will be forgotten this year as new issues come to the fore. It's hard to predict in advance what will happen. With the drop in refinancing among American consumers, many economists predict softening economic growth, which would allow oil prices to drop more. China is still a big question mark which could surprise us either way, with consumption growth either rising or falling. Your bet is as good as mine but I wouldn't be that surprised if this guy were right.

Chart-ologists may have better terminology, but it seems to me we are on the shoulder of a head-and-shoulders peak right now.  A lot of people look at the "gas crunch of 2005" as over, and others talk about whether "prices will go up" from here ... but it strikes me that flat from here would confirm quite a sustained supply/demand squeeze.

The "normal" oil price is $20/bbl, remember?

Who's the crowd and who are the contrarians on this one?

FWIW, I think it's one of those funny things where people choose some very (historically) pessimistic numbers for oil prices, and then promptly label themselves as optimists!

If you buy into "Peak-Oil," which I do - then price goes up in the long-term. I personally don't envision $20 oil again, but $30 isn't out of the question.

Also, I pay no attention to the daily price of crude (even though I always know what it is, paradoxically). I use a 26-week average of the price to track what its "level" is. It is very easy to monitor real changes if you look at the long-term price.

Same thing goes for gasoline and NG.

i just read that article too. not sure what to think of it, then if it's all been cancelled, i guess we can go back down to $15 a barrel, and reinstate the ole Pontiac GTO's, Camaro's etc. maybe make the SUV a little bigger. But that doesn't seem to be the case, GM is talking about Hybrids now,  
Oil is still higher today than it was a year ago, on average. Production has not been increasing, hurricane season will be upon us in 6 months, actually starts 1Jun06, which is really 4 months away. production will get another jolt when something enters the Gulf.
is this the quiet before the storm?
Why aren't the markets on a strong bull? I think i need Agrics' take on this stuff!
I would interpret his statement "The Stone Age" as a metaphor for "your lifestyle will be profoundly changed - for the worse".

If that takes 20 years to play out, it is indeed a "slow squeeze".

If that is indeed what Deffeyes meant (and I have no way to judge), then I'd say he gets a big, fat F on his report card for use of metaphors.  There's a humongous gap between a significant change for the worse and a collapse into another stone age.

I know I keep harping on this kind of thing, and I sincerely apologize if it's getting old.  But I really wish some of the leading lights of energy awareness were more careful in their public pronouncements.  These comments by Deffeyes (both the prediction of the top and the stone age thing), and Simmons' talk about how oil could reach $200 or $250 or whatever the number was, really are counterproductive.  They make it absurdly easy to paint everyone who thinks peak oil is a serious issue as some kind of loon.  And that makes it much harder to get mainstreamers to pay attention and start taking action now, before the fecal matter hits the rotating impeller.

I think we have a very interesting situation in this country.  On the surface we have a disconnect as we consume freely, while also pouring fair amounts of money into fairly extreme oil replacement strategies.

If we aren't worried, we shouldn't be dropping hundreds of millions on ethanol/hydrogen.  If we are worried, we should slow down on consumption.

If this is some kind of societal cognitive dissonance that will only be broken by price ... then it doesn't really matter what Deffeyes says on his site, or how lucid we are here in our post-game analysis.

... and that might be my approximation of where we are.  Some small numbers of people will buy the books, read the blogs, or catch a story on NPR ... but the majority will ride the price curve to wherever it takes them.

I think Dr. Deffeyes has not waited long enough to call the peak.  Rather, its like Matt Simmons says - the peak will be obvious only in hindsight and only after several years.

Its going to be hard for the public to appreciate the peak (even if its already here) because the oil agency and media opinion is saying that high petroleum prices are reducing demand, to wit: we are consuming less oil because we can't affort it.  That leaves the public with the false implication that if only prices were lower more oil would be produced because in that case they could afford it.

I find his post very interesting, and if you really think about it in terms of the data as used by oil companies and the industry... take a look at the following:

EIA Oil reserve data

If you follow Hubbert's logic, new discoveries don't have a significant impact on production... and if you take out the tar-sands from the proven reserve estimates (I think this is only fair as EROEI is so low for tar sands) AND you take out the now proven false Kuwait reserves... you get a number around or under what Deffeys is saying is left, less than what we've used so far... this is past peak, right?

This isn't to say that society in general won't recognize it for another 5 years, when they're dealing with $10/gallon gas and realize, "Hey, there may not be anymore of this stuff coming..." Simmons and others are correct that peak will be a a hindsight is twenty-twenty thing, and who knows, maybe Deffeys is a few years off as well, in reverse. We could have peaked in supply a few years ago, with more coming out of the ground through salt-water injection and other tricky methods of extraction while less and less supply was there to be had. Take away the OPEC "proven reserves" that magically appeared a while back and we are well past peak supply. It's just that peak production may be lagging...

A recent article in the New Orleans daily newspaper about me.
Streetcar proponent is on a roll
Monday, February 13, 2006
Lolis Eric Elie

What is it with Alan Drake and streetcars?

You can't go to a public meeting and not find him there, spewing facts and opinions that betray a knowledge of streetcars, engineering and urban design that far exceeds that of most of the other citizens present.

The latest idea he's pitching? A deal with Skoda, the streetcar manufacturer from the Czech Republic under which the Regional Transit Authority would buy cars from the company and much of the assembly would take place at a plant in New Orleans.

'Old urbanism'

Two things seem to drive Drake in his quest to put more streetcars on our city streets: his engineering background and his interest in making our city more livable.

As an engineer, he likes to solve problems. As a citizen, he likes the way cities functioned in the days before a car was considered a necessary possession for every urban adult. Ironically, the trend in urban planning is to make new communities function more like the old ones.

"You've heard about the New Urbanism?" he asked rhetorically. "I'm into old urbanism living. I walk to food. I walk to my tailor. Or I use the streetcar. If you take that away, a lot of the old livability, the old urbanism as I call it, disappears."

"New Orleans was built around a series of Grand Boulevards during the 1800s, most notably Canal, St. Charles and Esplanade," he wrote in a recent e-mail titled "Grand Boulevards Strategy." "Space was left on several other streets for more such Grand Boulevards that were never truly developed to their potential.

"Picking up where the 19th century left off, and going forward into the 21st century with a development strategy that emphasizes a series of new Grand Boulevards, would play to the strengths of New Orleans," he wrote. "Taking neutral grounds that are little-used today and transforming them into multiuse, multimodal linear parks would create a powerful attractor for rebuilding New Orleans."

Clean slate

Drake sees post-Katrina New Orleans as a great opportunity. Instead of the usual, dull buses, we could have pollution-free electric trolleys that could have the attractive look of streetcars.

He's not the only one thinking this way.

"Seeing as the city was pretty much devastated, you could pretty much start all over again if you wanted to," said Charlie Hahn, Skoda's manager of U.S. operations.

"New Orleans used to have trackless trolleys. If they really wanted to move away from fossil-fuel buses, now would be a good time."

Rosalind Blanco Cook, a spokeswoman for the Regional Transit Authority, said that the agency has received letters of interest from Skoda and several other companies.

It hasn't made any decisions. But, no matter what it decides, Alan Drake will be at the next meeting with another plan.

. . . . . . .

Lolis Eric Elie can be reached at lelie@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3330.

e-mail titled "Grand Boulevards Strategy."

Is this available online, somewhere? Sounds like a good read.


See also the artistic illustration of what a 3 track streetcar line would look like in the Group Main Page (more pixels available in Group "Photos" on left margin).

I think it's also here if you don't want to become a member of the group (as much as I like to ride on streetcars, I don't need another group to read).
P.S. Google is your friend.
Unfortunately, with the sediment from the Mississippi going off the continental shelf and sea levels rising, I don't think that New Orleans can be saved even if we want to.  The next couple of years will tell - if we get more big hurricanes hitting the Gulf coast, it's proof that the city cannot be made safe and ought to be moved inland.
The silt can, and should have been diverted to recreate our wetlands (badly damaged by oil ^ gas and MR GO Corps project).  Politicans had asked that a precentage of Federal offshore oil & gas revenue be used for this fro decades.  Two small pilot projects had worked and a larger third one was FINALLY authorized.  Spend the same amount of $ spent to save the Everglades (far less important that coastal Louisiana) and Chesapeake Bay.

These wetlands are a natural hurricane speed bump.

For a small fraction of Katrina cleanup (caused by terrible engineering by the US Army Corps of Engineers), we could build a Dutch style bullet proof protection system.  Just have the builders speak Dutch !  And it would take a decade to complete.

Under no circumstances can the city be moved.  It is simply impossible to recreate this unique city.  Have people just move to sustainable suburbs in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Houston instead.

I think it's worth repeating what thelastsasquatch said and my response on a thread from yesterday.

The gist of it is that the peak may also be considered as the maximum daily output of all liquids. Pick a number. Say, 85.5/mbpd. If we fluctuate around that number ± 1% for some years followed by a decline, then that's the peak. Stuart's estimate

  • URR is 2250 ± 260gb
  • K is 4.93 ± 0.32%
  • the logistic peak is May 2007 ± 4.5 years
includes Deffeyes (2.013 trillion barrels) at the low end. I still firmly believe that we will know the peak in the rearview mirror. My only fear is that this flat road we're driving on now in 2006 is about to go into a valley within a few years from which we will never emerge.
I think you're right, peak is not a ponctual event and will be seen only by smoothing production data on many months (maybe years). A peak demand can also be defined when demand cannot be satisfied as fast as it used to be and becomes constrained by supply. In this case you reach a plateau where demand will constantly oscillates trying to reach a new equilibrium through high price volatility (and demand destruction) for several years until production output actually peaks and then declines. I believe we probably reached that plateau last year.
I have seen some sites that equate "Peak" with a supply constrained oil market.  However, I think that is a mistake because they are clearly 2 different things and it is confusing if we are not precise in our definitions.  

To some degree, it appears that we are on the cusp of being Supply Constrained.  The evidence is that every oil producer is pumping at their maximum rate.  With the key change being that SA is now bringing their full supply to market.  Nevetheless, Supply Constraint is not a geological issue.  You can have Supply Constraint and still have years and years of supply increases ahead.  It is a huge political issue because Supply Constraint means that world growth (with respect to oil) is a fixed sum game.  If China grows more, we by definition have to grow less, because the resources simply aren't there for us each to grow at our unconstrained rate.  

Peak is exponentially more serious.  Because at Peak world economic growth becomes a zero sum game.  At that point for China to grow, we have to shrink.  A sustained shrinking economy will cause serious problems (as the doomsayers like to fantasize about).  And of course, soon after Peak world growth will be a negative sum game.

This is a simplification, because energy resources are only one factor in economic growth, and because oil is just one form of energy.  So economic growth is possible even after Peak. Think telecommuting and conservation.  Possible, but more difficult.

An interesting sidebar is the question of which economies will suffer most when the market becomes supply constrained.  We haven't reached this point yet, but we have gotten close.  Price rises are the natural effect of Constraint, and that should cut oil off to the markets that cannot afford it.  My assumption for a long time has been that the US would be able to afford the more expensive oil longer than China or India and that it would be their economies that would slow down.  But the more I've thought about it the more I am starting to believe that it is the economies that make the most inefficient use of the resource that will be the first to find their economic model no longer is profitable at the inflated price.  And I don't have to tell you which country is the most inefficient consumer of oil.

Very insightful comments Testudo.  I think the distinction you draw between the current supply constraints and the permanent supply constraints of peak oil is very important.

As far as inefficient consuming goes, the US is in doubly bad shape.  Not only is our transportation sector highly inefficient, but we also have a rather small heat/electricity oil sector compared with many poorer countries.  Since the heating oil is much more easily replaced (with wood, coal, gas, etc.) than oil as a transportation fuel, the US will face that much uglier a squeeze for the 10 years or more it takes for our inefficient vehicle fleet to turn over.  Assuming the transition begins as easily as that.

On the other hand, the poorer countries will likely be priced away from using oil for heat or electricity over the coming years.  That may put some brakes on rising world oil costs, at the price (particularly to the US) of a bigger crunch in the future.

Don't forget that poor countries may be given special discount prices as a form of economic aid from the oil producers.  Venezuela is starting to practice this form of a mutually beneficial aid with Cuba, where he essentially transfers some of the money he gets from the US directly to Cuba, with the particular aftereffect of killing two birds with one stone.    Saudi Arabia has long used a portion of its revenues to finance Islamic Development Bank programs as well as other forms of aid to the region.  As more and more economic power transfers to oil producers, I think this will become more pronounced as they seek to reinforce their particular geographic regions and power bases, or in some cases, even to specifically resist (their preceived?) US agressions.  After their oil runs out, they're going to have to keep on living in their own neighbourhoods, right?  It would make sense to increase their local investures.  So, if you can't hold your oil appitite, get ready to continue with paying indirect and ever higher subsidies to Cuba... and others.  A certain presidente is starting to think about a pipeline octopus covering South America and it looks like he just picked up a few partners.  
Very good points, IMO.

Actually my assumption has always been that third and second world countries will be the ones paying the PO bill. USA will experience some economic pain and will lose its place as a world economic leader, after we finally find it impossible to borrow more to pay our ever growing energy bill. The rest of the developed world will get away with a moderate recession and lower standart of life until they manage to build these CTL and GTL plants that will allow us to keep growing until the coal and NG peak kick in.

I suspect--and I think that Stuart concurs--that Deffeyes is probably using crude + condensate, while Stuart is using total liquids.  In any case, using either measurement, we appear to be at about 50%.
  Deffeyes is using the halfway point in the world production numbers updated with the O&GJ end of year '05 data (with his 2.0 total) to fix the Hubbert theoretical peak. So it would have to be the peak for just the conventional oil production that has ocurred over the first half of production - no fancy new oil sands, shale, deep-water, NGL and all the things that collectively could be thought of as a big new "reservoir" just now found. It doesn't make a hill of beans worth of difference in the peak date whether you figure in this unconventional production. It's like the giant Alaska discovery not effecting Hubbert's U.S. peak year calculations, which didn't include this oil. It's been estimated that to delay the peak by one year requires the discovery of 60 Gb of oil compared to the current annual discovery rate of about 10Gb (conventional).
Question? Is Hubbert's model( like re Slow Squeeze) likely to account for the higher declines of water injection, given that his model ( I guess) was developed using data on older extraction methods with less declines?  I tried to find an answer in Slow Squeeze thread, but couldn't.
All these solutions are great but miss the point. Our governments must make a break from the multinationals who spread the lies that took us to this situation in the first place. They must realise that free markets cannot avert or prepare for a post carbon fuel economy.

Call it socialism, call it what you like, our governments must take on board these obvious arguments and tell big corporations who do not profit from sustainability where they can put their vested interests. governments must become truly democratic and break from the stupid emphasis on lobbying. Only then will all these nice ideas become a possibility. Just as governments turned their back on over zealous trade unions in the 1970's, they must turn their back on downright stupid free marketeers in the noughties (the '00's).

Adam Smith's idea that "the market will solve things" was debunked long ago by environmental economics, when will idiot politicians catch up???!!!

Contrary to your assertion, Adam Smith never said words to the effect that the market will solve everything. In regard to the invisible hand he did not even say that the market will usually find a good solution. What he did say is that frequently the invisible hand will produce good results--but only in a context of law and morality.

When you misattribute ideas to great thinkers of the past, you discredit your line of reasoning.

Actually, you have a good point: Mindless pundits who never read Adam Smith have a blind faith in something they call "the market," and they have no understanding of economics whatsoever.

If you really want to get into something hairy and interesting, dig into the theorem of the Second Best. Genuine economics can help us understand the world and make it better.

The blather of the journalists is just that.

I was really refering to people's interpretations of Adam Smith, particularly from those industrialists who benefit from such an interpretation! I sometimes miss out on full explainations when I'm so damn livid, thanks for your feedback!
This is probably worth a new thread, but up here in Canada, our national paper the Globe and Mail is reporting two interesting things. First, Canada is looking to put together a deal with Gazprom to import LNG. Of course, Canada is still at present a natural gas exporter, but probably not for too long. And second, the same article quotes the USGS as saying there is only 7-8 years of supply left for the north american gas market.

Ottawa backs Gazprom deal

Re: Gazprom & Canada
A joint statement said energy security will be the focus of the G8 summit in June. "Market mechanisms are vital to the functioning of the global energy system," the statement said.
[insert dogma, prayers & ritual obedience here]

For its part, Russia promised to break Gazprom's monopoly on gas exports and increase the number of links to its vast energy supplies, citing the liquefied natural gas project as an example.
[Gazputin has little interest in this]

"Decentralization of production and decentralization of supply helps us to prevent the increase in prices," Mr. Kudrin said.
[why would Russia want lower prices?]

Russia has reaped huge economic benefits from rising energy prices, and Moscow's actions have generally strengthened -- not loosened -- state control over the energy industry.
[Ah, that's the ticket]

By the way, that was the DOE that said "Canada's natural gas reserves will be used up within seven or eight years" (R/P = 7.5). Now I know why your user handle is worried.
We have plenty of high cost natural gas left in shales. It's just that it's sort of like the plenty of oil we have left in tar sands and oil shales. Expensive. The wells produce little gas per foot compared to conventional gas wells.
Coal bed methane gas is cheaper, but salinity constrained because you have to pump out the water first. It ruins farmland to dump it into rivers used for irrigation, or kills all the fish in the river if it's not used for irrigation.
The problem is not that we're running out of oil. The problem is demand is exceeding supply. This is not a technological problem. It is a geopolitical problem.

If the US were still a manufacturing power in a world of consumers, it would be someone else's problem. Kennedy's America would simply retool and motor on. But those days are gone. China and India are the manufacturing powers and we've forgotten how.

Plus the US is mortgaged way beyond the hilt, with no source of income except the housing bubble itself. Total US debt is around $40 Trillion, double that if you include health and welfare, and double again if you include derivatives on the debt. We have no ability to work that off because, according to the bureau of labour statistics, we're in a freefall job depression.

So when push comes to shove the US is the economic loser. Plenty of oil for the Indians and Chinese. Little or none for us. Our only way forward is wars of aggression. Not little firecrackers like Iraq. Big war: Iran and Venezuela as a start, but ultimately the whole world.

If we survive that ... welcome back to the stone age.

Fine, but remember that the US consumes twice as much as Europe per barrel of oil consumed. Decoupling oil consumption and economic growth through efficiency is the new war. Costs less than invasion and provides savings for consumers which they can reinvest. Difference is that its power to the people, something that big oil companies care little about.
Oops, I was trying to say that the US consumes approximately twice as much oil per dollar of GDP produced.
The problem is not that we're running out of oil. The problem is demand is exceeding supply. This is not a technological problem. It is a geopolitical problem.

Is it a problem, or a necessary condition for change?

I've just been reading that the US halved it's energy intensity (if I've got the term right), the amount of oil it required for GDP growth, following the 70's/80's gas shocks.

You don't have to be a cornucopain to see that as a useful feedback cycle.  It would be nice, sure, if everybody acted with decades of foresight ... but even without that, they will react when it bites them in the wallet.  If they can't figure out a replacement for cheap, light, sweet, crude ... they'll figure out how to work with a little less.

This will mostly likely be a fairly smooth and decades long process ...

We do not have to "work off" the debt. The Fed can create all the funds it wants to with a few clicks of its computer. If we go to triple digit inflation and pay off our foreign creditors with almost worthless dollars, that will get rid of that.

Governments regularly steal. They steal by unexpected raising the rate of inflation. Thus they shaft hard-working and prudent people who saved their money, people who worked hard for forty years and put their savings into something really safe--government bonds.

You can trust the government . . . to steal again when push comes to shove. The history of money is the history of inflations.

If you use the GDP deflator, today's dollar is the equivalent of roughly 4 cents in dollars as they were in 1900.

What is your expected value of the dollar ten years hence?
Twenty years hence?

I do not know.

But based on my reading of economic history, I am betting zip by the year 2024 (and possibly sooner). At best, maybe our four-cent dollar will be worth one cent in 2024.

I consider myself to be an optimist.

The interest rate experts (bond traders) seem to be predicting lower inflation over the next 10 - 30 years. We've got a strange phenomenon happening at the moment known as a "yield curve inversion" where the interest on longer term debt is less than that for shorter term debt.

From a post at Angry Bear a few days ago:

Given that this morning the 30-year yield is 4.48%, the 10-year yield is 4.52%, the 2-year yield is 4.63%, and the 6-month T-bill yield is 4.67%, I guess that fairly qualifies as a modestly, but fully inverted yield curve. I stand by my earlier assessment that this is a Not-Very-Good-Sign for the economy in 2006.
Let's think about this.

A super weak dollar to solve all our problems; just keep on inflating the currency against the other currencies. Doesn't solve our domestic depression, but certainly seems like a neato geopolitical fix.

And as we're doing now we coerce other countries' central banks to keep printing money so the USD keeps its value relative the other currencies. We steal from their populations simply by asking their banks to be our friends.

And our friendly manufacturers China and India want us to keep stealing; they don't want us to stop consuming. They like extending our debt and inflating our partners' currencies because that's funding the enormous expansion of their industrial base.

Likewise our friendly oil suppliers want the status quo to last. Right up to the last drop they can pump. Except for the odd troublemaker - Syria, Iran, and so on - they're completely content with our protection of their dictatorships.

Seems like all this could go on forever.


With economies booming as ours shrivels, these friends of ours experience enormous domestic demand for their own products. Including petrochemicals and all the plastics and fertilizers deriving from them.

Efficiency is not important to us. We keep borrowing, burning and spending like there's no tomorrow. The manufacturers, on the other hand, naturally go all out for efficiency. Their economies are domestically balanced - or better. And so they're motivated to cut out the middle man.

We are the middle man. Why fund our consumption of oil and the other limited commodities when they need it themselves? Why fund us to compete with their own populations? It's just not good business. And the manufacturing powers are exceptionally good businessmen.

Once their domestic demand matches their domestic supply, our friends the industrial powers will call in their markers. All they're really waiting for is the US housing bubble. When that pops and we have no more money to service our loans, even with hyperinflated currency, we'll sell every last asset to them for pennies on the dollar. Even after this profit-taking our debt to them will continue to spiral ever upwards.

As the US domestic depression bites the only jobs left will be in the army. Our young people must join up en masse or starve. With the industrial powers owning all our businesses and assets, they will also control our government. So our population, loyally serving our government in our military, become their unwitting conscripts for invasions of South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

That's geopolitics for you. But still there is hope. The most loyal and trustworthy Americans might be permitted to breed.

My reading of economic history is somewhat different from yours. For one thing, Americans are supremely good at screwing foreign investors: e.g. British cattle and land investments in the American west during the 1880s. Or look at how we screwed the Japanese by letting the dollar fall from about 360 yen to the dollar not too many years ago to less than a third of that level now. Also, we screwed the Japanese big time by letting taking advantage of their naivte and letting them buy hugely overpriced U.S. assets, from Hawaiian condominiums in the 1980s to all sorts of other assets in that decade--assets that plunged in price within a few years of Japanese purchases.

You would think the foreigners would wise up . . . .

The only ones better than the Americans at screwing over foreign investors are the Russians. Over and over again they sell essentially worthless weapons systems to countries like Iraq and Iran, but do these folks ever catch on? No. Partly because this is that the Russians cleverly sell some small stuff that actually does work well. Sometimes I wonder if the Russian weapons sellers learned their tactics from IBM. Thirty or forty years ago IBM was king of the hill and would go to a company and promise them the moon if they installed their latest super computer and software. Merge, splurge, it'll solve all your problems. Instead, the IBM stuff worked at about 2% effieciency, and so their superb salesmen (none better in the history of the world) would come back and say, "Oh, we know what the problem is. To fix this mess you need our newest and ten times more powerful system. It will fix everything, do everything, . . ." And of course the new system took four years to get working half way right . . . and then it was obsolescent, so the salesmen came back, tactfully sneered at the "old" stuff that finally worked and sold the suckers a hundred times faster and ten times more expensive system . . . that worked at about 2% of capacity for for two or three years . . .

IBM did this over and over and over again, and finally companies caught on and went to PC technology, largely rejecting what IBM had on offer.

What did PT Barnum say? There is a sucker born every minute. IMO, those who think the U.S. dollar will hold its value are suckers.

Now the Canadian dollar . . . too bad Alberta cannot issue its own currency.

You're assuming loyalty to America where there is none. Sure, some Americans are good at screwing foreigners. But most Americans are too busy getting screwed to screw anyone.

And most of the swinging dicks screwing the foreigners are happy to screw anyone and everyone. They're the same folk who have been taking profits for over a century on the misery of the world. They care as little about Billy Bumpkin in Boise as they do about Bobo Bakshish in Bangalore.

And yeah, they're the same guys who sold you your PC. It's all the same old rubbish. If you think otherwise ... this way to the egress.

Just for fun, check out these two "Free Energy," ideas...well, ok, nothing is free, but the ideas are fun.  Get swept up in the enthusiasm, figure out how they are supposed to work, blow holes in the theory, and create expanded conspiracy theories:

Get high quality heat from air!!!


More "power from the air"!!!


I wonder how many folks have slogged it out to this 97th post...

I'm almost asleep but is it something like this


And let us not forget that just as the US has outsourced a signficant fraction of its energy-intensive manufacturing (e.g., autos, steel, cement, fertilizer, petrochemicals, aluminum, etc.),  so has it outsourced a significant fraction of its energy demand.

 So, the global energy game becomes less  well-defined.  If the US squeezes China and India with regard to energy supplies so that it has more,  to some extent the US is also hurting itself because both countries need a certain fraction of that energy to manufacture goods for export to the US. In other words, if both China and India and all the other exporters to the US suddenly stopped exporting energy-intensive goods to the US, the total US energy demand would increase significantly.

If you depend on somebody, you'd better be careful how you treat that person. To some extent, his welfare becomes your welfare.

Since 12/16/05, the world has used--from fossil fuel + nuclear sources--the energy equivalent of 8 Gb of oil.  
Kunstler's closing comments (2/13/06):  "When the public finally discovers how they have been let down or played by these leaders, there will be a convulsion more severe than the one that tore this country apart in 1861."
Deffeyes is right. Global production has peaked.  

So what the heck are we going to do about it???

According to TEAM DEFCON (its newest member being Ken himself) apparently we can't do anything because the challenges presented by this predicament are somehow VASTLY DIFFERENT then say, those that were found 40 years prior during the Apollo mission.

In case you've forgotten, the Apollo mission was a national endeavor undertaken by 400,000 individuals who overcame great obstacles by transforming imagination into reality, through the utilization of new technology, methodology and materiel (most of which was literally invented along the way) .

Fast forward to today though and TEAM DEFCON tells us that society will NOT be able to undertake such a mission again, thus, a National Energy Initiative (NEI) to conserve energy in conjunction with the advancement of liquid fuel alternatives (as is oft suggested on this site by myself and others) is condemned as sheer lunacy.

Ridiculous.  Can't be done.  Outright nonsense.

Well GEE WHIZ guys... I guess we're all done for!  

Lets all move into Sailorman's refugee hut on the Potomac and sharpen punji sticks because NEI entails sacrifice doesn't it?

Like, GULP getting rid NASCAR.  You know, that fun pastime where a hundred cars race around in a circle using up what's left of our natural endowment.  And if NASCAR were banned, how could one justify monster trucks, air shows, motocross, Indy, drag racing, tractor pulls, offshore boat racing and all our other favorites on ESPN2.  Non-starter here.

Under a National Energy Initiative, we certainly can't give America's crippled manufacturing and auto industries new life can we?  

All those people out of work and factories slated to close.  Heck, it's just plain stupid for state and federal governments to step up to the plate and provide legislated incentives so that the BIG 3 can use their existing infrastructure and engineering talent to produce flex-fuel vehicles while simultaneously protecting the very domestic market in which they will be sold.  Silly!  That strategy only works for SUVs.

How about Hemp for Victory as part of NEI?

Gee, didn't we do that already?  Twice?  besides, if farmers were encouraged to plant Victory Hemp (VH) in concert with annual crop rotations, think of all the problems we would have.  

First, the farmers would be making money - Dow, Dupont, Monsanto and the like wouldn't be too happy with that. Second, there would be way too much feedstock for BioFuel and that would mean sustainable, envrio friendly liquid fuel supply which is only going to piss off Big Oil and OPEC - so we can't have that either.  Then of course if VH becomes really popular, how long will it take before the public starts clamoring to have it replace other hydrocarbon intensive industries such as cotton growing or plastics?

Yup, a National Energy Initiative is a moot point indeed.

Instead, I think I'll head down to the quarry and get me some nice stones.

I hear stones are the future.

Who will say the emperor has no clothes?

I must.

Given the recent release by Ken Deffeyes, I AM OUT.

I have been a student of the oil issue since the late 1970's.  I was made aware by events of the second oil crisis (Iran hostage crisis period and Iran/Iraq war, and by constant reading and study.  My intellectual mentor was the great thinker Alvin Toffler, who in his book, "The Third Wave" defined and discussed the energy difficulties and changes that would have to come in a very involved way, including, among other things, the ideas of re-localization, changing to a distributed generation system, "smart" grids and "smart" consumption using computers, renewable energy,  telecommuting as a way of reducing fuel consumption, and the coming societal reconstruction needed to cope with a raw materials and energy change of immense proportions, and all this he discussed in 1980!

Dr. Deffeyes has had a remarkable career, and has been a needed voice in the attempt to show Americans and the world that great change is coming and change must be embraced.

It is possible however, for even great minds to grow ill, either by way of  physical ailment, or by way of bitterness and depression when their message is not heeded.

It is also possible that even great minds will take to hyperbolic and hysterical rantings in an effort to overcome the apathy and perceived ignorance of the larger public, in a vain attempt to capture their attention and move them to action.

It is with the above in mind that I can be somewhat forgiving of Dr. Deffeyes latest pronouncement.

This however, cannot prevent me from disavowing and distancing myself from the so called "Peak Oil" movement.

It is all too easy for the public to perceive anyone who is concerned about the American future as it relates to energy to be lumped in with cranks, conspiracy theorists, doom sayers of apocalyptic and epic proportions, the paranoid and the mentally ill.

Dr. Deffeyes, by writing his pronouncement in very concise and easily readable terms, and due to his status and long history in the Peak Oil discussion, by being not only a casual observer but a published author and a noted authority and information provider of the movement, moves the center of gravity of the movement .  The movement must now be viewed by the public  as a group completely apocalyptic in it's world view.  The catastrophist nature of the pronouncement "Stone Age by 2025", it's pronouncement that the catastrophe is already essentially unavoidable, and the acceptance of the idea that no collective response is now viable, also moves the center of gravity of the Peak Oil movement to one of individual survivalist in it's nature.

Almost no material or historical evidence supports the recent assertion of Dr. Deffeyes.  In the late 1970's, early 1980's, it is well known that the U.S. went for some half decade plus with declining oil production and consumption.  In WWII England went for the bulk of the war with massive decline in oil consumption due to wartime difficulty in importation of fuel.  At times, they even resorted to such things as burning wood to operate autos and trucks.
The belief that what is a essentially a "liquid fuels" crisis will bring the world to "Stone Age" level in less than two decades is simply that:  A belief, of no more validity than thousands of prior catastrophist theories.  It can NOT be accepted as a belief that can be used to plan a future, either as an individual or as a culture.

Given the above I close by saying:  I am deeply concerned about American energy policy, energy consumption, and the prosperity of the United States and of the world given what will be extremely challenging times.  I feel that we are indeed long overdue for change.  I have been a reader of Dr. Deffeyes, of his mentor, M. King Hubbert, of the investment banker Matthew Simmons, and of the work of Dr. Colin Campbell, along with MANY other thinkers of the peak oil movement.

But I cannot accept the words of Dr. Deffeye in any other way than as a wild statement that will be used again and again by those who refute ANY need for change in energy production and consumption and will be used to refute, slander and humiliate those who are making the efforts needed to prosper in the coming difficult and challenging period.

With this in mind, I will cease usage of the phrase "Peak Oil", and will distance myself from any group or individual who uses it, given it's taint by association with Dr. Deffeyes, and a growing number of others who have now prostituted the phrase away from it's original basis in real scientific fact, and instead replaced it with a catastrophist/survivalist apocalyptic cult based on belief by faith alone.
Thank you.  Roger Conner Jr.

Mr Conner - thank you for that splash. It was heartfelt and I agree with you on many counts. Question: if Deffeyes had left out the sentence "Stone Age by 2025" would you feel dramatically differently?

you wrote: 'and a growing number of others who have now prostituted the phrase away from it's original basis in real scientific fact, and instead replaced it with a catastrophist/survivalist apocalyptic cult based on belief by faith alone'  (how do I put that in a grey box?)

I think Deffeys has not prostituted the science - he has just pimped the conclusion. Those two are separate. Berate him for his drama but not his science. At issue is whether Hubberitian method can be used to predict world production at all. If it can, then somewhere in here is Peak, prostituted or not. If it cant, then hubbertian science  will someday be superceded by better science.

Ultimately, the phrase Peak Oil will probably be linked to a 'conspiracy theory' type mental image as increasingly other forms of liquids will make up the shortfall in conventional crude so that true date of peak oil will not equate to peak panic- people are just not used to saying "Peak Liquid Fuels" yet.

First, the "Stone Age by 2025" was one (not the only one, but one) statement that yes, did put the statement by Deffeyes completely over the top, but allow me to clarify, this is only one in a very troubling recent trend.  Just allow me to recount from recent memory:
>On one well regarded peak oil website recently was "advice" for survival after the peak.  Some would have been good in any case (example, quit smoking, because you may not be able to get Marlboro's, and you may have to do more walking in the future!) would be good advice without peak oil.  Then the writer went on to say that the best advice would be to study the patterns of the homeless people in large cities, and get a sleeping bag, a really good sleeping bag, and guard it, because you will be constantly on the move without a bed, home, much like the homeless in New York City or L.A. (!!)
>On a recent serious post on http://www.energybulletin.com (at least, it was intended to be serious) was an article giving more "post peak" stategy.  The two central points of discussion were (a) learning to use oxen and cows to work crops, and (b) the eating of insects, in particular grasshoppers, because the were chock full of nutrition (!!)
Now after I stopped laughing from the mental image of aging boomers trying to control a cow in front of a plow (it made me think of the old "Green Acres" TV show, with Oliver Wendall Holmes going out to plow on an ancient tractor in his three piece "lawyer" suit...but it would have been funnier still behind a cow!
Let us turn to the eating of grasshoppers....we know that for all the history of Europe, through the dark ages, through epidemic illness, wars and economic collapse, through CENTURIES before the invention of the oil industry, and the statistical number of people eating grasshoppers must have been quiet small, or we would have read more about it!

So what effect is this having?  At one of the peak sites, there was recently a post by a 22 year old woman, who was just starting her college career, and was unfortunate enough to come across one of the worst of the worst of ddomsayer sites, and was beside herself with fear.  She claimed that she could not sleep, cried at night thinking about it, and was losing interest in her college work.  Those of us a bit older have learned to take these things with quiet a lump of salt, and continue on in our lives while looking for possible adjustments, knowing that, in the end, the macro-economic stuff is out of our control (myself:  I drive a Diesel Benz, an old simple one...it's quirky and fun, and if need be, it can be converted to vegetable oil, hemp oil if it's ever legal, etc.  I don't delude myself that will be a cure, but hey, every little bit of prep helps if it does not destroy my current ability to live)
....but back to the young woman, can you imagince how easily she could have been sent into a serious fright and depression by the mixture of real science, (because to answer your question, I do accept Dr. Hubbert's science, and I do believe we must be getting very near a real problem in liquid fuels, and other areas of energy production as well (as Matt Simmons warns, of crisis, Natural Gas may be worse!) and outright apocolyptic guesswork?

I feel that the connection of (a) peak and (b) it's a done deal, you can't do anything about it anyway, and (c) not only will it end the industrial age but CIVILIZATION!!!,  are simply outragous in their fantastical reach ( trivia:  Did you know that Beethoven never drove a car?  Or Mozart?  Or George Washington, or Ben Franklin?  ASTOUNDING NEWS....and yet we accept them as fairly civilized in the great scheme of things (and of course Jesus, Plato and Socrates managed pretty well without a Chevy or Ford...:-)...in fact, one could make an argument that the birth of the oil age WAS the death of civilization, but I won't make it here!)

The problem in my view is this:  There is a real issue:  Resource depletion.  There is real risk: Economic, social, environmental, and more.  Changes WILL occur.  How humanely we can manage these changes we do not know yet.  The eventual outcome is not known.  BUT, terrifying young people and others ( I have read similiar panic and fear by retired persons, who are almost totally dependent on others in their old age) with the wildest possible pronouncements seems to me to be a pointless exercise.  One other post here today asked this question:  How would America be on half the oil we now use?  Well, maybe about like Europe, which already runs about half per capita what we do on consumption, or maybe a bit more like 1948 AD than Flintstones AD, (remember, the world will be producing as much oil out to 2025 as we did up to 1968 EVEN by the most pessimistic scenarios. (Upsalla protocol of Campbell).  Shouldn't we be mentioning that, along with the cow plowing grasshoper eating stone throwing family of the future.

The whole thing has now taken on satirical and comic proportions.  I repeat, a serious issue is more and more easily being made to look lke a clack of paranoids and nut cases in front of the very people we need to assist in this cause:  Bankers, engineers, software designers, civic leaders.  The pronouncements of the catastrophists are creating the risk of the self fulfilling prophecy:  People want an excuse to avoid change.  The image projected by the VERY SERIOUS people working to make the changes more humane is made to look idiotic, and it hurts most coming from the intellectuals we respect and and admire, like Ken Deffeyes.


My question for you is, considering civilizations have collapsed before, do you think there will be ones that collapse in the future? If so, what would cause such a collapse? From your post you seem to infer that collapse is something that can not happen. I would think that to those civilizations that have collapsed in dramatic fashion, it would have seemed rather apocolyptic.

<From your post you seem to infer that collapse is something that can not happen.>

No, on the contrary, I am sure they do happen and can happen in the future.  There have even been very long regress in civilization (the most known example being the dark ages, after the collapse of Rome, when a great deal of formerly known knowledge was lost and had to be rediscovered after nearly a thousand years.  Interestingly, no energy crisis seems to be to blame for the collapse of Rome and other great ancient empires.

One can make the case that the modernized West is already on the verge of collapse and that the "liqiud fuels" crisis could push us off the edge. That is a completely different logic than saying a "liquid fuels crisis" will be the prime CAUSE of the collapse.  If the above statement is held to be potentially true, then we can make the argument that the modernized West could (in fact, would have a high probability of the collapse completely without a liquid fuels crisis at all!  That I have no doubt of.  But....here is the big distinction to me:

The belief that a "liquid fuels crisis" alone will collapse the West is to accept that the West is already virtually untenable.  It must premise itself in the belief that people will show zero imagination in being able to switch fuels, conserve fuels, and change transport patterns in any real way.  It presages the idea that if a new car cannot do zero to sixty miles per hour in under 8 seconds then poof!, no alternative, since NO CIVILIZED PERSON can live with a car that takes 15 or 20 seconds to get to 60, even though for most of the history of the automobile, the latter was true.  We must believe that millions of megawatts of energy cannot be saved, and food grown by the addition of solar greenhouse and some hot water collectors, because the Americans would rather accept the "collapse of civilization".  We would have to believe that ground coupled geothermal heat pumps cannot provide home heating, and save millions of feet of natural gas, which could then be freed up to be used for transportation.  We must believe that nuclear power cannot free up more natural gas consumption because we are so terrified of nuclear power that we will NEVER use it, but instead, sit and watch each other starve in the cold (even though we live with a nuclear industry EVERY DAY providing power for our military subs, aircraft carriers and warheads, despite common belief, we DO HAVE AN ACTIVE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY, and live with it's risks) We must believe that people in wooded areas will forget how to use a wood stove.  I could go on and on but I hope I have made my point.  Can civilization collapse?  YES.  But would it be a result of a simple technical issue like liquid fuels crisis?  I doubt it.  If a "liquid fuels crisis" alone is able to reduce a culture, not back to the level of 1940 pr 1850 or ancient Greece or Rome, mind you, but able to reduce it back to a "stone age", we can assume that the culture in question is already on it's death bed anyway.

But of course, in my reply I have veered from the point, which was the nature of the logic now growing like a virus in the Peak Oil movement: That logic is based on a type of fatalism:  Peak oil is coming-what can I do about it?-nothing-then why are you telling me this?-so you will be aware-what good will that do?, if I can do nothing to prevent it?-none-so why bother telling me?
To the young woman I referenced in my prior post,terrified by the doomsday pronouncements, consider peak oil as though it were any other cultural change, go to college, learn, and do things to help yourself and others PLAN AND BUILD, not to just throw around pronouncements about a coming stone age.  Will the planning and work to change our energy consumption/production/cultural patterns work?  Who can know, but what else would you be doing?
Great is the nation that takes on a lost cause, and wins it!
Roger Conner Jr.

Most of the real peak oil alarmists are not worried about liquid fuels, either. The real concern is in agriculture, where the green revolution is so heavily dependant on fossil fueled fertilizer. That is where the "dieoff" theorists base their premise.

Do you have an answer for that concern?

the nature of the logic now growing like a virus in the Peak Oil movement: That logic is based on a type of fatalism:
If you look a little deeper, I think you'll find that this comes from the Gramscian-Marxist/nihilist virus which claims that western culture (aka technological civilization) must be destroyed.  Peak oil is just the thing to fulfill their wishes, and they refuse to acknowledge any way of working around it because they wish that none existed.

I took some of those folks down a peg.  I think you'd agree with the conclusion:

The road there need not and should not involve any die-offs (warfare against dysfunctional societies bent on the conquest or destruction of the rest of the world being a possible exception).  It just requires the application of good science and a lot of cleverness.

Science and cleverness that Stanton and his fellow travellers paint as futile, and thus not worth the effort.

Which makes their scenario a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What side are they on, anyway?

Back to you:
Peak oil is coming-what can I do about it?-nothing-then why are you telling me this?-so you will be aware-what good will that do?, if I can do nothing to prevent it?-none-so why bother telling me?
It makes a lot more sense if you assume that they are trying to demoralize you so that you won't do anything about it.
I think that in one sense you are right: IF sensible policies were followed, then the ride down peak could be accomplished in a civilized and moderately comfortable manner. You focus on some of the theatrical excesses of peak oilers. But these excesses are nothing compared to the "excesses" already committed and yet to be committed by those  who are actually calling the shots. There is no sign whatsover that the sensible things are going to happen. Every sign instead points to WAR for the last drop oil and to the last drop of blood.

So in fact Deffeyes and some of others are not too negative, but perhaps insufficiently negative because they are looking primarily at the technical issues, the supply issues. We are headed for disaster not because peak itself dooms us, but because the prevailing order dooms us to the worst possible response to peak oil.

I don't think you understand the potential danger.  Nobody expects civilization to collapse because oil production in 2007 is 5% below production in 2005.  Civilization could collapse because of economic collapse.  As energy prices go up, people devote their resources to energy.  This causes a recession.  People lose their jobs.  People lose their houses.  The government has fewer and fewer resources to help people (not that the current government really cares about helping people).

The american dollar collapses.  A couple of years of extremely high inflation wipes out the retirement accounts of millions of people.  Old people start dying in their homes because they can't afford food or heat.

Crime goes way up, because that is the only way for many people to survive.  The government is helpless to stop this.  

The situation becomes a spiral down.  There is no way to go back to a growth economy, because growth is dependent upon increasing energy usage, and it cannot increase.

At some point, one of two things happen.  Either the world government's begin increasingly to become military states in order to control the population and control events.  Or, large governments start to fragment, because they can no longer control events.  Areas of control and goverment became smaller, and world trade drops dramatically.  Those areas that have the ability to sustain themselves do so, those that do not collapse.

I am afraid that once the economic collapse begins, the world as we know it is doomed.

Right.  Peak Oil is an economic phenonemon, not a sub-culture.
Yes, well you can rant on all you want about what an awful man Ken has turned out to be for trying to give us all a slap in the face with a raw fish over our errant ways.  But really who gives a shit at the moment about PO this or that except for the few tenths of 1% of the population who get its implications, and are reading sites like the TOD as a way to deal with it?

Believe me nothing Deffeyes or anyone else says about PO will make a zack of difference to the ordinary folk of this world to make them change their ways.  To get off the treadmill for most, when everyone else is running faster and faster just to keep up, is to invite personal and financial disaster.  The aggressive economic growth required so that everyone can get what they think they so richly deserve won't accept it.  Drop off and God have mercy.

So governments will choose not to deviate from the path of high economic growth, nor companies from the healthy profits generated by it - but could they otherwise?  The people demand their baubles and trinkets!  Awareness of PO and other issues like CC will not truly come until something really nasty comes our way as a result of this behaviour and it won't be Dr Ken or Matt Simmons leading the call. Even then most will choose to ignore the signal, because to get off the treadmill is well...unthinkable!

Most people seem to have completely forgotten
about global warming, climate change and
extreme weather events.

Assuming that carbon dioxide emissions
continue to rise at least as quickly as they
have over the past few years, if not faster
it would be foolish not to expect massive
infrastructure damage to the oil indistry over
coming years.

Not only that, but also much hotter summers and
probably much more torrential rain, maybe even
colder winter periods, the demand for energy is
likely to rise just at the time when the system
is showing signs of inability to supply.

Natural gas supply seems to be headed off the
cliff, so talk of electrification fo rail systems
will have to be at the expense of some other
electrity consumer.

The fact that virtually nothing has been done
to prevent this situation developing suggests
that nothing will be done to rectify it either.

Civilians are likely to be left to cope as best
they can on their own. New Orleans was just a
practice run for that.

Very interesting last sentence. I agree: if TSHTF, then all of the U.S. looks like the Big Easy a couple of days after Katrina hit.

Note: There was a good 36 hours of explicit warning before Katrina hit. My guess (and it is no more than that) is that once again we will have about a 36 hour clear warning before TSHTF. You can do a lot in thirty-six hours.

You can do everything except call your banker or your broker.  Ther'll be only 2-3 minutes max to get your call in.  After that.. busy tone.  
Natural gas is not quite the problem you paint.  If you electrify transportation, you'll be eliminating motor fuel; some of that saved fuel could fire turbines for electricity.  You also get the option of using wind, solar, landfill gas or other energy to further reduce oil consumption.
This post is somewhat related to this topic, though it'd be better placed in an open thread, but no one is currently active.  And since it's about an action that can be taken now or never, here it goes.

You most probably know that Hubbert's Peak applies not only to fossil fuels but also to other mineral resources, particularly metals, as explained in Hubbert's paper

Having said that, follows a comment I have just sent to the US Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) regarding a proposed Barclays' iShares Silver Trust ETF. I offer it to you as a model that you can use if you agree with the concepts therein. I know that the period for comments has probably expired. However, if the SEC is publicly flooded with comments like this it is very unlikely that they will be able to ignore them.

I felt compelled to send this comment after looking at those already sent, where no one mentioned the crucial issues in play. And I feel compelled to ask you to send similar comments (if you agree) because I am not a US citizen.

Comments can be sent electronically as described in page 32 of document

Electronic comments:

Please include File Number SR-Amex-2005-072 on the subject line.


To: US Securities and Exchange Commission
Subject: File Number SR-Amex-2005-072

Dear Sirs,

I urge you to approve the listing of Barclays' iShares Silver Trust based on important expert information already in the file as well as critical mineral reserves information from the US Geological Survey that seems not to have been considered in this process:

The expert information already in the file is a note the SEC received from CPM Group:

referred to by an internal SEC memo belonging to this process:

"regarding the effects that approval of the Barclay's Silver Shares proposal would have on the commodities pricing of silver bullion" (quoted from the memo).

The CPM note basically says there is very little silver around.  Quoting from it:

"One of the misunderstandings common in the silver market is that there are hundreds of millions of ounces of silver in inventories in London and Zurich. There is not nearly that much. There may be between 75 and 100 million ounces in these bank vaults as of early 2006."

From that information, it is a straightforward logical conclusion that the ETF would have a very high impact on the silver price.  That conclusion, in turn, could erroneously lead anyone WITH OBSOLETE AND DANGEROUS CORNUCOPIAN PARADIGMS to the conclusion that the ETF should not be approved.

What do I mean by "obsolete and dangerous cornucopian paradigms"?  Those that ignore the concept of Hubbert's Peak, a term which - although generally used as synonymous for Peak Oil - applies also to the extraction rate of metals (and I purposely said "extraction" instead of "production" which is a misleading term, because it does not reflect the fact that taking oil or metals from the Earth is a one-off event intrinsically different than harvesting crops.)

Any metal, like oil, is a non-renewable, absolutely exhaustible resource which exists in LIMITED amounts in exploitable ores of high enough grade  in the ground.  And any metal, like oil, has its own bell-shaped curve of production rate over time, whose highest point is called "Hubbert's Peak" in honor of geologist M. King Hubbert who first formalized this concept in 1949.  And, of all metals, SILVER HAS THE NEAREST HUBBERT'S PEAK.

I will substantiate this crucial statement with a source beyond dispute: the 2006 issue of the "mineral commodity summary" for silver prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey, which is at:

This document states that for 2005, in metric tons (mt):

  • world mine production was 20,300 mt;
  • world reserves stood at 270,000 mt (13.3 years of production);
  • world reserve base stood at 570,000 mt (28.1 years of production);


reserves = that part of the demonstrated (measured plus indicated) resources that are currently economic, i.e. which can be economically extracted or produced currently; and

reserve base = those demonstrated (measured plus indicated) resources that are currently economic (reserves), marginally economic (marginal reserves), and some of those that are currently subeconomic (subeconomic resources).

A quick comparison with other metals will show that silver has the lowest reserves/production and reserve base/production ratios.  That comparison was done a year ago by Mr Theodore Butler using data for 2004 and can be viewed at http://www.investmentrarities.com/01-04-05.html . From that page:

Commodity Production   Reserves  Reserve Base  Reserves  Reserve Base
                         (...Metric Tons...)   (..Years Remaining...)
Aluminum 30 million     unlimited   unlimited      100+       100+
Copper   14 million   470 million 940 million       33+        67+
Lead      2.6 million  67 million 140 million       23         48
Nickel    1.4 million  62 million 140 million       44        100
Zinc      8.5 million 220 million 460 million       26         54
Silver         20,000     270,000     570,000       14         29
Gold            2,600      43,000      89,000       17         34
PGM               350      70,000      80,000      200        200+

Please note the difference between the 2005 and 2004 figures for silver: one year passed, one year less remaining in reserves and reserve base.

Though the cases for gold and silver do not look very different from the above table, it should be noted that a large portion of above ground silver is in non-recoverable form, spread e.g. in myriads of electronic devices.  That sets it apart from gold, which is mostly in readily recyclable bullion and jewelry form.

Last but not least, silver - having the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals - will be a critical resource for the technological breaktroughs needed to successfully tackle the forthcoming energy crisis.

Therefore, summarizing the facts about silver:

  • It is the metal in worst state of mineral depletion (from the USGS).
  • Its above ground stocks are very small relative to production (from CPM).
  • It is a strategically critical resource.

In view of these facts, which of the following should be the wise path?

A. Approving the ETF, allowing the ensuing accumulation to increase above ground stocks from the current extremely low levels, and do so by causing the price to rise thus reducing consumption, or

B. Rejecting the ETF, thus preventing the market from having the price signals that "play a key role in conserving scarce resources, directing those resources to their most highly valued uses"?

If you are still in doubt which is the wise way to go, let me quote from the remarks by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on energy,  made in Tokyo on October 17, 2005 and available at

"The experience of the past fifty years--and indeed much longer than that--affirms that market forces play a key role in conserving scarce energy resources, directing those resources to their most highly valued uses."

"Barring political impediments to the operation of markets, the same price signals that are so critical for balancing energy supply and demand in the short run also signal profit opportunities for long-term supply expansion."

In view of these remarks, and completely at odds with the opinion Mr Theodore Butler expressed (obviously without having Hubbert's Peak considerations in mind) in the document added to the file at

I would say that, when I put myself in your shoes, approving a security that would impact the price of a strategic commodity in a state of critical shortage and depletion would be the SURE thing I would do.

By the way, isn't a commodity ETF conceptually similar to the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)?  Isn't the SPR like an ETF whose shareholders are all US taxpayers?  Wasn't this Administration's decision to fill up the SPR bitterly criticized by short-sighted politicians, on the grounds that doing that was contributing to high oil prices (which of course it was)?  And didn't the oil in the SPR prove invaluable after the havoc played by hurricanes Katrina and Rita on oil production facilities?

I hope you will make a wise decision.  A decision that helps keep civilization safe.


Path A above expressed the cause and effect relationship the wrong way.  It should go like this:

A. Approving the ETF, thus allowing the ensuing accumulation to increase above ground stocks from the current extremely low levels, and by doing so cause the price to rise which in turn will discourage non-essential consumption and encourage exploration, or

Deffeyes is a real disappointment, professionally and as a person.  

Not that I do not think that a triple whammy of economics, oil, and global warming/environmental rot are not coming down the pike; they are.   But damned if I am going to sit up and say dates and results. He says he is now an historian, but dons his Jeremiah cloth to tell us 2025 is Stone Age time.  To say we have peaked is one thing; to announce that 2025 is Stone Age is another.  If he is has been such a god-damn good prophet, why doesn't he tell us what will happen each year between now and 2025?  Why 2025? Why not 2024?  Is he trying to sell his books and get speaking fees?   Or is he going to retire to some hedonistic mountain isle, knowing that selling books is a thing of the past?

And, to parse him a bit further, I see that that donning new historical garb means that he has already passively chronicled the descent to the Stone Age?  There are so many other ways he could have presented himself.  He took the cheap, easy way.  I have no problem with his announcement of the peak having arrived.  I do have a problem with grandiose, subsequent pronouncement.

His kind of loose talk profits no one, to turn a pun, certainly not any real understanding of what will happen, how it will happen, and how we will respond.

Actually, I mostly agree with this. The 2025 stone age statement seems outrageous. I regard this kind of prophecy as--well, if not irresponsible--as almost like Cassandra. Perhaps it is due to his own frustration about the world's refusal to acknowledge the peak oil problem. On the other hand, even if it's not the paleolithic in 2025, it is not hard to imagine a much different and more troubled world by that date. If the world investment community does not get off its collective ass to create alternative forms of energy (either from fossil fuels eg. CTL, GTL, coal gasification) or the "renewable kind" (wind, solar, biofuels, et. al.) or others (nuclear, geothermal) in the next decade or so, Deffeyes could be closer to the truth than I'd like to admit. But really, just a "powerdown" is the most likely outcome and no one knows the suffering that will result.

Feels like the "Old Testament" to me when the Jews got exiled to Babylon. Maybe at his age, prophet is the role he now prefers. He actually almost got it exactly backwards. He thinks he is an "historian" now and was a prophet before. It's actually almost just the opposite. He was a scientist before and he's a prophet now.

I regard this kind of prophecy as--well, if not irresponsible--as almost like Cassandra.

But Cassandra was right.  No one ever believed her, but she was right.

I noticed that Alternet has a story today about the developing energy crisis that won't go away.

Permanent Energy Crisis
By Michael Klare, Tomdispatch.com. Posted February 13, 2006.

There are many reasons to believe that, unlike the gas and electricity crises of the 70s, 80s and 90s, the energy troubles we now face will last for decades.

(The above link has the whole thing -- it's long.)

Sheesh, people. Lighten up on the poor professor from Princeton. If you go to his website and read his comment in its CONTEXT (click on "current events") you can see he didn't really commit the crime for which he is being lynched here in this thread. It was in the middle of a justifiable rant on the inaction of our governing bodies. He notes "..we have passed the peak without initiating major corrective action" and then goes over the 2007 U.S. budget as reported in the New York Times (Feb. 9 issue). The typical numbskull solution approach suggested in this article ticks him off: "The Times reports that solar energy today supplies one percent of U.S. electricity; the hope is to double that to two percent by the year 2025. By 2025, we're going back to the Stone Age." It seems like just a literary ploy to contrast the seriousness of our problem to the feeble 1% to 2% type efforts so far to correct it. It doesn't seem to be an official prophecy of a Stone Age return in exactly 19 years.
I read everything Deffeyes said in context. I even admitted the possibility that he could be (mostly) right but expressed some skepticism. Literary ploy? Looked a lot like an Old Testament prophecy to me.

Do you know why economist assholes like Matthew Lynn in Cancel That Apocalypse -- The Oil Crisis Is Over are posting their nonsense? (Referenced by Lou Grinzo in this thread)

Because predictions like Deffeyes' do "seem to be an official prophecy of a Stone Age return in exactly 19 years" and that view can be easily dismissed. That's a problem in my view. I have the greatest respect for Deffeyes. And since the human capacity to look at longer term outcomes is limited (to say the least), Lynn can make his statements and Duffeyes can make his. More likely, we will--if not exactly muddle through--just go through Stuart's long slow squeeze with things getting progressively worse, as they have already in the last 3 years or so. And that's an optimistic scenario. I'm assuming nothing big goes wrong (as in Iran) that just makes the whole thing a complete FUBAR, SNAFU situation. We are very close to a catastrophe of that kind. Which makes me kind of worried when I think about geopolitical stuff regarding the various oil suppliers.

Nothing is "off the table" here.

Since when is Matthew Lynn an economist?

My impression is that he is an invincibly ignorant journalist. Economists make mistakes, but few have the room-temperature I.Q.s of Matthew Lynn.

Hard to believe anyone's still reading after 187 or so posts, but here goes:   to the subject of the implications of a peak, whether it's just past or has yet to be (my personal favorite guess is 2008), and to the question of the US vs. developing economies:  there has been little note taken on TOD or elsewhere regarding the oil trade strategies of China and to an increasing degree lately of India.   Both have been aggressively wrapping up bi-lateral deals with oil producers.  Who knows what all the quids are given pro quo - say, military assistance, for example, with a look-the-other-way attitude toward human rights.  Whatever.  The bottom line is that China and India will be taking a first slice of oil off the market before it is available to the highest bidder.

Our official policy, thanks to the election of morons, is that the market will solve all problems, including energy.   That might almost make sense if it were not for the increasing quantity of bi-lateral deals being cut by India and China.  All that demand, plus all the (growing) demand by the oil producing-exporting countries themselves must be satisfied before the "free market" gets to play its role.

Let's run some hypothetical numbers.  In Bush-world there are, say, 85 mbpd produced, and demand at current prices goes to, say, 87 mbpd, or about 102.4% of production.   So prices adjust - say to $90 - and 2 mbpd of demand is eliminated somehow.  

Now let's look at real-world.  The same 85 mbpd is produced and 87 is "demanded" at current prices, but now, behold, 45 mbpd has been pre-sold to China and India and used internally by oil producing-exporting countries.  Thus the real-world market is 40 mbpd of available production and 42 mbpd of "demand", or 105% of production.  Now it takes a price of, say, $110 per barrel to quash the additional demand because even tho it is the same absolute number, it is a much higher percent of available supply - in fact 50% greater excess demand.

Don't believe me?   Take the example to an implausable extreme.   Say there were only 2 mbpd available on the "free market" and 4 mbpd demanded at current prices.  Obviously the price then needed to quash 50% of the demand would be astronomical.

So....what's the implication for the discussion of the impact of scarcity on different countries:  simply that whatever strains are felt in general will be multiplied for those countries that are relying on the "free market" to provide their oil and will be reduced for those countries that are either exporters or that have made bi-lateral deals for oil ahead of time.  

And for those speculating on (investing in) the price of oil, it simply means a more leveraged scale for projecting price increases.

Jim Willie has written a couple of good articles on this topic:

The first, in particular, is well worth reading. Others here have made the point that it's the total amount of oil exports that are more important than the absolute level of production. I would say that the amount available on the open market is most critical and other considerations and bilateral deals may determine the destination of a considerable proportion of oil exports.

One likely effect is the leveraging of oil price rises in response to any disruption to the global free market in exported oil, as you say.

  The concept of a bi-lateral oil deal between major countries is nothing new. Consider this paragraph -

  Oil prices had stayed so low for so long that by the end of the 1960s no respected energy analyst thought they would ever rise. The majority of oil experts assumed the price would steadily fall. This assumption was vividly illustrated in the last days of the low oil price era. The Shah of Iran, a strong U.S. ally, attended President Eisenhower's funeral in 1969. During this visit, he quietly offered the new President of the United States, Richard Nixon, a 10 year contract to supply the United States with oil for one dollar a barrel. According to Henry Kissinger's memoirs about the Nixon administration, the United States politely declined the Shah's offer because it was not clear to any senior government official that oil prices in a free market would stay as high as one dollar a barrel over this lengthy period of time." Twilight in the Desert, p55

  Just one of many major goofs by Mr. Nixon. If they were wheeling and dealing 10 year contracts when oil was like dirt, I suppose they'll probably be doing them now.

oilaholic - you cite an excellent excellent point. its the flip side of westexas observation that 4 countries comprise most fo the worlds exports (SA Norway, Russia, Iran)
a)how much will be needed for internal consumption in exporting countries?
b) how much is locked up in long term deals?
c) how much do we lose from extra refining costs and lower EROI
d) how much is left over for free market?

a-d will be offset partially by new fuel sources - but $200-$250 in next 5 years not unreasonable to me. (though recent trend is certainly down)

Big words. I used to think that "we" should be carefull about big words but since recently I stopped bothering about that. There are so very few people who understand the fine differences between scenario's, extrapolations and predictions. And why should we even bother? Perhaps we are wrong. And come to think of it: Who are "we"? I have never seen a more heterogenous lot then at peak oil discussions. It isn't a movement, and nobody agrees on even the simplest issues. While these observations might seem very negative they are in fact a compliment: It has been ages since we discussed the longterm effects and prospects of our societies so freely. I've had great fun!

On peakoil? I maintain that the best way to prepare for postpeak living is becoming politically active. We can not do much aboyut energy decline, but we might try to solve our nations other problems, because postpeak these will inflate. Got an AIDS epidemic? Will it worsen? Ethnic tensions? Huge unemployment? Think how these would develop after peakoil.

The depth of reaction in this thread is fascinating to read. Ken has been disagreed with, but also dismissed, condescended to, ridiculed, reviled, disavowed, and diagnosed as mentally ill.

It's good to know that ideas, expressed in a few simple words, still have the power to move people.

It is a good sign, because it means that people here care about this issue.  

We know we are in an important fight, and the perceptions of the world must change.

Any damage to the image of this issue as a crucial and important one is taken most seriously.

And, I leave aside the sense by some of disappointment and even betrayal, even if that was not the author in question (Dr. Deffeyes) intent.

Then send a few bucks to the League of American Bicyclists, and get out of the echo chamber ;-).

I'm not seriously getting down on you, but just using this as a point to hang a thought.  I think many of us (who check TOD more than once a day) see this as a "fast" problem, when in reality it is a "slow" one.

Look at the hurricanes and the market response ... for all the drama and daily news ... all it did was press the car market a little more toward hybrids and a little further from SUVs.  It caused a subtle (very) shift in fleet efficiency.

I think the way to continue that transition (and "do something") is to put gentle pressure on any of the 1000 points that move things in the right direction (bicycles are just one ... buy hey guys, it's cheap), and then slow down ... to watch the slow problem unfold.

Maybe this is a TOD thread idea ... things you can do for less that $100:

join the Leauge of American Bicylists and let them promote bicycles and bikeways ($30):


buy a TerraPass for your car, offsetting greenhouse gasses and encoraging green energy ($30 - $80, varies with auto type):


join the American Solar Energy Society and let them promote .. you know ($39):


(I did the first two last year ... and what they heck, I guess I'll be a Solar Energy Society member this year.)


As bad as it may or may not be, there is NO WAY we go back to the stone age:

a) our minds have had several rapid advances in our ability to synthesize and adapt (see William Calvin - Human Mind and Abrupt Climate Change). We think much quicker than we did on the Pleistocene. Think 'Mad Max' not 'Gods Must Be Crazy'

b) there will be so much STUFF lying around that we would never have to resort to stone for weapons. Any half-aware McGyver type will be able to make contraptions from old lamp poles and chicken wire.

tough times maybe. stone age? No.

Slashdot picked up the Deffeyes article, and I'm generally pleased at how the comments moderated out.  Some "bad memes" are there, but they are answered pretty well: