Why the US Political System Is Unable to React to Peak Oil: Institutions

I've been thinking a lot since the open thread Tuesday about political change in the United States, as well as the Deffeyes date set a couple of posts down. Many of us would argue that the evidence is there, "why isn't the government reacting?"

I thought I would bring some pieces of the political puzzle together into a post on why I believe the US, at least at the federal level, will be overly slow to react to the problems of peak oil in both the short and long term.  This is the first piece in a series of a few, the first has to do with the institutions of American government.  More of my argument under the fold...

I think it is safe to say that we can assume politicians are self-interested actors, wishing to keep their job and doing whatever they can, most of the time within reason, to keep it.

These politicians, once holding power, play the political game inside a set of institutions.  These institutions are basically sets of rules and norms that produce public policy, the outputs of government.

It is important to understand that only those politicians in "safe" districts (where the MoC (Member of Congress) gets a large percentage (usually defined as over 55%) of the vote (an increasingly common occurence with the use of GIS tools to draw lines come redistricting time) with no ambitions for higher office take real political risks and try to change the system (e.g., Roscoe Bartlett, but this is even more true of safe members of the party out of power).

The institutions (and the rules governing the "game" of politics) of the United States incentivize this behavior, because they were designed from the founding of the country to be deliberative and slow, if not glacial; they were designed to do all they can to perpetuate the status quo. I think understanding the American government's response to peak oil or any crisis requires an understanding of the theory behind the institutions, an analysis of why they are they way they are and what it will take for them to actually change.

Remember that the US does not have a "social" (like many in Europe) democracy, we have a "liberal" democracy.  Part of why this distinction exists has to do with institutions (two party/separation of powers/presidential system) that are set up to not be at all reactive but overly slow to change and deliberative.  

Separation of powers is an important component that you have heard of many times, I am sure. What it means is that power in America is distributed across many actors or sets of actors, and those actors often hold responsibilities and interests set in opposition by the rules of the game. The president's roles and constituencies in our politics are quite different from those of Congress or the courts; even though we can say that the Republican Party has basic control of the three branches of government, they do not march in lockstep; this will especially be the case if there are electoral gains made by the Democrats in 2006.

Take Britain for example, which has a "responsible party" socially democratic government with a different set of rules and institutions. The Labour Party holds power there. The prime minister, Tony Blair, (caveat: there's more to this story, but this is the simple explanation.) was elected by his party to be the prime minister of parliament, not by the populace like in our system.

The party's ability to be "responsible" (staying on the same page legislatively) is even more important in the British case; for instance, if the Labour Party ever actually loses an important (called a "party" vote) parliamentary vote, then elections would usually not be far behind. This can happen in many parliamentary systems quite quickly.

Still the point is that executive and legislative power are more consolidated in Britain than in the US, meaning that there is more incentive for the sides to maintain "responsibility" and stay on the same partisan page.

Let's say we lived in a parliamentary/social democracy here in the US, pretending the rules of the game were different. Let's also imagine that tne party is in control of (responsible for) government and policy and it screws up. With recent salient circumstances in the US, we could see how new elections could have been called countless numbers of times over the past few years and a change of leadership would have resulted.  Instead, here in the US, we have a predictable election cycle that allows for manipulation of resources and "the game," which allows those in office to maintain office; we call this the "incumbency" advantage. (Let's also be clear, this is not an anti-Bush rant, the same thing could have happened in 1978 or 1994, where power would have changed hand completely between the party in power and the out-party...the point is that change could/should have happened and did not).

Also, over 93% of incumbents in the House win reelection with a little lower proportion in the Senate, meaning new people with new ideas rarely make into the legislature, let alone hold positions of power.

here's wikis on presidential and parliamentary systems for contrast:

The other part of the equation that people need to understand is that our two party system is part of the problem and is likely to never change. For the most part, that too is constructed because of the way our institutions are set up, because many of our elections only have one winner (as opposed to a parliamentary system, where if you get a percentage of the vote, you are assured representation), therefore it incentivizes third, fourth, and fifth place actors, if they want power, to work with the loser of the election...over time that sorts itself out into the ideologically coherent, but polarized party system that we have presently. Here's a wiki with more on why we have a two party system...

Uncommon, unconventional ideas and ideologies remain non-influential, so policies and governments do not change rapidly. (Others dispute whether such innate conservatism provides advantages. While smaller parties find this exceptionally frustrating, proponents of the two-party system suggest that it enhances stability while eventually allowing for ideas that gain favor to become politically influential.)
(These systems all turn out this way because of Duverger's Law (my field's only "law"...and it ain't really a law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law)

In my courses, I often describe the social democracy/parliamentary system as an ideological speedboat, it can react, zigging and zagging back and forth quickly, but it can also flip over and kill you.

I describe the our presidential/two party/first past the post system as a very very large cruise ship.  It is overly stable.

However, I think we also all have heard of the event/seen the movie where the crewman saw the iceberg, threw the wheel hard over, and the ship didn't turn in time.

Simply put, both systems have weaknesses, but one is more responsive than the other.

In better words, my point is that those same institutions that have maintained the stability of the United States over the times of plenty are exactly the institutions that will keep us from reacting, as a country, in time to avoid most catastrophes. The federal systems are not designed to be proactive, as at the founding of the country, that's not what they wanted.  At least that's my feel for it.

This is why most of the efforts to react to peak oil are occurring at local levels of government (e.g., relocalization movements, etc.) or from the grass roots. However, those groups rarely have the power to shift resources or incentivize behaviors to the scale that the federal government could, if it would just react.

We need to reorganize our political culture at the federal level; but in order to do that, we would need a new Constitution, a new set of rules, but that would require a public outcry or political instability heretofore unseen in the US, as well as a lot of time to implement.

As I said somewhere else already today, I didn't see anyone outside with a sandwich board today clamoring for change...so obviously, we ain't there yet.

In my next post on this, I will discuss another set of actors, the linkages between the mass politic and these institutions that further clog the system of change and maintain the status quo.

(some of this piece comes from the comments I made in the Tuesday open thread, but I've refined it a bit)

"Peak oil" is very much a "bad-news" story.  Voters tend to punish those who first bring them the bad news.  So, wait for some other politician to open his/her mouth first.
Also, as with global warming, doubt persists, manufactured or otherwise.  Most people will avoid a hard task if they are uncertain of the benefit.  Self-interested actors need only promote uncertainty to stall action.
My comment was going to be similar.  I think the public kind of loves "problems" that come with "solutions" but when the answer is conservation or gas taxes ... forget about it.

The veneer of "solutions" will work until gas prices reach some tipping point.  Then people will ask why ethanol, hydrogen, hybrid credits, (the list is growing) don't fix things "NOW."

The long list of alternative fuels will not solve the problem if the problem is high fuel prices. It can give biomass producers lots of income, employ a lot of people and give dependable supplies but they will at best only be slight cheaper then fossil petrol and diesel since all of the fuels are traded on the same market. It is still of cource extremely worth wile to make these investments.

The cost problem hurting the general public can only be solved with more efficient cars, plug in hybrids and much less driving. Much less driving is much easier if people live in urban areas or if they have good social contacts with their neighbours. I hope my next short local newspaper article gets the title "The car is dead, long live the car" if I get it published.

The line about european style governments being able to zig and zag between obstacles and also flip over and kill you was a very good one

The Swedish "constitution" depends on the state being an benign power. The only thing stopping it from flipping over is tradition and probably that our country is quite small. There is hardly room for our politicians to become completely disconnected from the rest of the people. If they would make a complete mess they can not retire in isolation within the country but have to live with their decisions. This might have helped making it possible to sneak in non party line ideas now and then since they obviously are good ideas. Few things seems to hurt good ideas as much as making them into ideological principles or rejecting them out of ideological principles instead of cold rational analysis.

On the other hand can cold rational analysis give rise to very dumb decisions if the world view is too limited. I think we were first in the world with instituting a race-biological-institute in 1921 to analyze and prepair optimization of the Swedish race. Flipping over indeed... It led to a sterilization program for mentally retarded, economically weak people like gypsies and difficult people like hysterical what wold now be called feminists, no Jews as far as I know. In Germany the same thoughts led to death camps.

This is one of my reference points when thinking about people talking about a cull of the human race, adjusting the population to fit the resources and so on. Such ideas are deeply disturbing. Things can go to hell in ways that kills lots of unlycky or in some ways weak people but wishing for it is not sound and helping it happen in the "right" way is a way to cold evilness.

I think the public will treat gas prices as "the problem" but that I will see them as a neccessary driver for change.

I think we are in a trap, with a lifestyle that will be maintained simply until people cannot pretend any longer.

Breed the best, cull the rest? Row with the oars and use the axe on the swimmers if they try to climb in the lifeboat? White Nationalist Ecofascism? Is that what you find "deeply disturbing"? Why don't you face the music now so that you'll be ready to grab a chair when it stops?
I rather figure out how to make the lifeboat larger.
Or maybe we can improvise many little rafts.

To build a real lifeboat is a considerable task, even if you have all the tools, materials and knowhow. Rafts are quick and easy--not as good as a lifeboat, but note that had the Titanic been equipped with the cheap kind of rafts that U.S. warships carried in World War II (Balsa wood with canvas or tape around it--had one as a kid--very cheap, unsinkable and would not capsize unless waves were driven by winds in excess of about 80 knots. Had lattice bottom so your feet were always wet, but the sharks could not get you.) By analogy, we need something quick, easy, cheap, possible to create quickly in large numbers, something effective, not necessarily something efficient or elegant.

Any ideas?

And please, no monasteries. They are no fun.

Architecture for extremely modularized and easy to mass manufacture high rise buildings that do not look awfull and can be built quickly to form urban centers in existing mall areas.

A social movement for car sharing and other local cooperation. In USA you can benefit from your religious traditions in starting such movements.

Move your capital to companies that provide post peak oil usefull products. Preferably local companies whose workers you can have a personal relation with.

Dont stockpile gold and guns, stockpile roofing material, cloth, usefull stuff that is too bulky to steal withouth a truck.

Invest in making friends.

Sweden, its a raft compared to the world population. My focus is trying to make it a little better and to be generally usefull.

Magnus, you are a genius! You have seen that the #1 best investment is friends (also children and grandchildren, for when you get old and feeble, like me;-)

With a network of friends and neighbors, with a community we can live and thrive. Without these, forget hoarding food or guns or anything at all. Hint: For security and self defense, make friends with veterans and active-duty soldiers, sailors, and Marines.

Many little rafts is probably a better idea than one big one.  That way, a mistake by one won't drag them all down.
The metaphor breaks down but there is nothing hindering nested peak oil rafts.

From fairly well managed countries and states to regions with significant hydro power and nuclear power to towns with good peak oil infrastructure to cooperating small size companies to cooperating neighbours to fairly self sufficient families.

Preferably organized in different ways to give better redundancy and competition that inspiers others via the net and the market. Then it will not hurt as much if some of them fails and others can learn from their failures.

There is no optimal solution. Therie is no golden road. The best I can think of is to on manny levels have social processes for finding better solutions all kinds of problems.

I'll put in a plug for my favorite liferaft builder: Post Carbon Institute.  From my point of view, rebuilding from the bottom up makes a lot of sense, given that the top level (Federal Goverment) is ineffective and out of control.  Rebuilding at the grassroots also empowers individuals to actually do something about the problems.
My contribution to a raft idea would be electric trolley buses.  Not as good as electric rail for urban transportation, but quick, cheap and easy to install.

Try to run one within 800 m, a half mile of everyone in an urban area.

Minimalistic, but useful.

Not only useful but a thoroughly demonstrated technology. Also, it occurs to me that the extra labor required to build the overhead rails might help to mitigate the huge unemployment problem that PO will sooner or later trigger. We can never do only one thing.

Also, the electric trolly buses I've ridden on in San Francisco seem nice and quiet and of course free of fumes . . . and reliable.

Would you like to run for president on the Electric Party ticket?

"Let's electrify transportation."

"Electrify now!"

"If elected, we shall electrify you within four years."

In Vancouver, BC they've been running Electrolic trolley buses for 50 years.  They run throughout the city.

While they are getting old, and are due for an upgrade before the Olympics in 2010, they definitely serve their purpose well, and who knows how much smog and money (due to very low electricity rates in BC) they've saved the tax payer over that period.

My greatgrandfather was a Victoria BC streetcar conductor!
Odograph said My comment was going to be similar.

Ditto here, but I was going to add a comment about the Wisdom of the Crowds.

A two-party (first horse takes the race) system assumes that it is being driven by the wisdom of the majority. But what if it is being driven by the childishness and greed of the mob? (Or worse yet by the heartless greed of the profit-gobbling corporate machine?)

I'm sure I'm not the first to ponder over this question The great philosophers (Socrates? --I was not a philo major) gave voice to the question of what governance system is best --democracy or the benevolent scholar king?

My belief is that the very success of certain technologies has created an invisible machine (not an invisible hand) whose inherent need for profit and "growth" is driving us towards the edge of the ledge. Our current political system has no ability to grab hold of the steering wheel and to guide the machine away from its mad destiny.

I wonder if part in any America vs. Europe/Asia story is the societies repect for science?

(I won't trust my own judgement on this, because I might just be a scientist who wants POWER DA*N IT!)

I would add that the leading actors (executive managementand investors) in the global business ecology also have little ability to change direction.  They and their corporations are required by law to achieve profit to the exclusion of all else.  Other pressures include the nature of the monetary system whereby growth is required to pay back the interest on loans, and the enormous competitive pressure of a linearized business ecology.
The market generally gives someone a chance to make money off any problem.  Look at Toyota profiting from hybrids, and GM penalized because they did not respond as quickly.  I've also seen that solar energy and battery companies are attracting a lot of venture capital.

I've heard that areodynamic shells make a big difference for pick-ups.  There's a huge market ... and at $3-4/gal the market will be nuts for them.

(All this will be (current best-guess) at the edges though, with lifestyle changes at center stage.)

If that were true then all our problems would be solved :}!  IMO the market suffers severe distortions due to corrupt tax and investment policies and a flawed legal framework.  So even though I (and many others) want a high mileage high efficiency vehicle at a reasonable cost, none are available (I looked, and wound up buying a 1995 Geo Metro) even though the technology to produce such a vehicle exists - and I'm sure the profit margins are rather slim.

I do agree that lifestyle changes are center stage, and have focused most of my efforts in this direction.  As Ghandi said, be the change you want in the world.

Honda is bringing in the Jazz ... this year I think.  It's similar to the metro:


GM ... they made their bed.

Don't write off GM. I keep in touch with people tied to the company, and the story of GM is like a constant soap opera. Every month some horrible problem faces GM, threatening to destroy it. Yet every episode GM comes out ahead (or at least survives). It is true the markets are guided by invisable machines, but you underestimate how hard those invisable will fight to survive.
I think they believe too much of their own BS to survive.
BTW, I think our buddy Roscoe speaks more loudly about "cellulosic" (an adjective rapidly becoming a noun) than about conservation.
I agree 100% with everything you have said. In addition, I think we must look closely at concepts from the sub-discipline of public choice economics:
1. The rational ignorance effect
Because the rational voter knows that his one vote is unlikely to decide an election, he has no incentive to invest any resources whatsoever in informing himself. Indeed, the purely rational voter does not vote at all. (BTW, many economists are proud of not voting, because it shows how rational they are. I am not making this up.)

2. The shortsightedness effect
Because the first duty of a politician is to get reelected, all focus has to be on achieving this task. Why? Because it is a race to the bottom, in which integrity and honesty and concern about the future is penalized with failure, while comforting lies and promises get you elected.

3. The special-interest effect, in which the costs of special-interest politics are concealed and spread out, while the benefits of pork barrel politics are concentrated and highly visible.

And, alas, all of these three effects work together.

Query: How do we get a new Constitution without blood in the streets?

Answer: Damnifknow.

well said...

Query: How do we get a new Constitution without blood in the streets?

IMNSHO, we have a pretty good Constitution already. It would be nice if we had a few more folks in DC who've had a civics class at some point in their lives ...

That said, it probably does need an amendment or two to recognize and counter the effects of corporate bigness-for-bigness'-sake.

You raise an excellent point! However, the special interests have plenty of money and power to prevent any Constitutional amendments that would decrease their fat-cat privileges.

There is another point you make: There is a huge gap between ideals and reality. 'Twas ever thus.

The genius of our Founding Fathers was based on the fact that they had all read and studied (or had told to them) the classics--Plato, Plutarch, Aristotle, Locke, just to name the four heaviest hitters in the lineup. Thus they knew exactly what the problems were. They knew democracy would not work, because this had been shown beyond all doubt by both Plato and Aristotle. Thus they tried to build a Republic, cleverly extracting the best parts of both Roman Republic and the British constitional monarchy. They knew monarchy would not work, because as the ancients had noted, the sons of outstanding fathers are often worthless, sometimes depraved and corrupt. They knew plutocracy would not work, for reasons shown rigorously by Aristotle . . . . and so what did they do?

They built a mixed political system, with elements of aristocracy (and originally our Senate was supposed to represent not the wealthy but the aristocratic by blood, though this was never made explicit). To prevent aristocracy becoming too powerful, the Constitution guranteed the right to bear arms: THAT was the real reason. (Though the militia reason is valid, it was secondary in importance.) In England and most European countries only aristocrats could carry swords or (with a few exceptions) ride horses. They agonized over how to restrict the francise and brilliantly came up with the solution of letting each state decide how to set voting eligibility.

Now they were not fools. Jefferson and others knew that slavery was wrong and a time bomb, but there was nothing they could do about it in 1776 because the institution of slavery was so deeply embedded into the culture and social organization of the South.

I have some ideas, but they are longshots, like trying to kill a deer at a thousand yards with open iron sights. As a hunter, I would never take this shot unless my family were starving, because chances are you'll just wound the animal and get no meat.

Even the most brilliant science fiction writers have come up with nothing I find plausible.

And therefore . . . odds on TEOTWAWKI? 50:50

I consider myself to be an optimist.

How do we get a new political order with or without blood in the streets, and, in the former case, whose blood will it be?
that's exactly the point I am trying to emphasize.  small, incremental changes in policy do occur, but large-scale policy change takes a generation if not more.
caveat, large-scale change does not occur without a big exogenous event...The Great Depression, 9/11 (though even the response to that was slow re: security), The Civil War, etc., etc.
The oil peak could be the hitting of CTRL-ALT-DELETE! A financial collapse with the towering national debt blowing up in our faces triggered by the oil peak could do it. Given present incivility and the zillion guns, a formatting could occur - likely for the way worse. How does a civil war with UN peacekeepers being cannon fodder added for flavour grab you?

A worst case would be a FSU-ish collapse, a civil war, and an oil peak. Talk about a perfect storm. Ouch.

Prof. Goose wrote:
> that's exactly the point I am trying to emphasize.  small, incremental changes in policy do occur, but large-scale policy change takes a generation if not more.
> that's my next post that I am putting together on polarization and the causes and evidence of it.

There is an interesting theory that these two subjects may be very related.

Professor Jack Lessinger, who researched the big migrations of Americans within our borders has a theory (very convincing IMO) that the big migrations were driven by polar changes in the Standard American Dream.

Like peak oil, it sounds a little 'out there' when you very first hear of it - but reading the facts behind the theory brings it quickly into the realm of reality, or at least possibility.

Perhaps you'll get a chance to read his book "Schizomania" before you write about the polarization we are seeing in America?

Schizo = split and Mania = his term for the Standard American Dream. Lessinger's 'split' isn't between the political left and right though, it is a split we all are experiencing individually as we struggle with decisions that move us towards the old decaying American Dream or towards the still immature American Dream.

In context of the challenges we are facing it is a very valuable perspective. I'll try to paste in a brief article on it below. Also the links incase I can't paste in the article.

General site:  http://www.predicting2020.com/
Archived Article 1:
Archived Article 2:

Greg in Mo

By Jack Lessinger

Credit card in hand, we shop 'til we drop. Keeps the economy humming.
Always has and always will, right? Wrong. The slow sales of Christmas
2002 --"weakest in three decades" (AP) --foreshadow a historic shift
in spending habits. Big Spending as we know it today is an isolated
phenomenon that began after World War II. It ran its course and is
now falling into irrelevance.

In the 19th century, Americans transformed a continent (and created
jobs) by saving and investing in mines, railroads, factories and
cities. They continued to scrimp and save right up to World War II.
Spend good seed capital on a car that doesn't earn a cent of
interest? Nonsense. Buy it on credit and pay interest? Scandalous!
The precious few able to afford more than basic necessities saved and
invested in their golden future --up to 40 percent of their income.
That was the American Dream back then. Save and invest now. Get-it-
all later.

Get-it-all and get it now-today's American Dream-first excited a few
rebellious souls around 1900. The new dream-call it the Little King-
made every consumer a king, a little king. With his little queen, the
new mini-monarch would preside over his mini-kingdom in suburbia.

By the 1920s, ladies in bloomers and bustles metamorphosed into short-
skirted, Charleston-dancing flappers. Black utility Model T's
blossomed into colorful roadsters. Nevertheless, the time-encrusted
injunction to save remained the stronger influence. A dangerous split
was developing. (Economists, failing to see the long-run significance
of that split, predicted continuing prosperity. Certainly through the

By the 1930s, visions of little kingdoms were growing fast, but not
fast enough to rescue the millions of unemployed devastated by the
slowing of demand for more and more basic industry. The new dream
would vastly expand demand (and jobs) for consumer goods-houses,
appliances, cars and later, freeways and malls. But the old dream was
still hale and hearty. The economy was paralyzed by two conflicting
dreams, both equally powerful. (Economists, little inclined to study
dreams, blamed the Great Depression on economic factors -- like the
gold standard or flawed trade policies.)

After World War II, the consumer engine caught on, but sputtered with
many recessions. The old dream was still alive, the new one still
shaky. (Economists debated tax and monetary policies.)

By the 1960s, the tired old dream of a golden future was dead, stone
dead. We had become dedicated spenders. The economy thrummed like a
new Ferrari. Not a single recession interrupted that prosperous
decade. Society and economy were in sync. Marriages soared. Divorces
were rare. Young families crowded into suburbia, the new paradise
designed for consumption spenders. Millions of ranch houses bought
and furnished with borrowed money created jobs galore. (Economists
proudly announced they had at last conquered depression! Only
recessions remained.)

But the 1960s also revealed the Little King's dark under side.
Excess. The frenzy to get-it-all now led inexorably to a whatever-it-
takes madness, a blatant disregard for our common future. Consumption
had become overconsumption. We polluted our air and water, eroded our
land, tainted our food, endangered other species, neglected
education. And we ignored the impoverished, the old, the young and
the crippled. And saving increasingly gave way to borrowing.

The dream had gone from vision to mania. Dangerously out of control,
it led to the need for change. It was the fourth time since 1790 that
an American Dream had become a mania and triggered the next American

Since 1960, the Responsible Villager, as I call it, opposes the
Little King in all that it is and does. Growing with explosive
momentum, the Responsible Villager is winning the heart and mind of
America.  In 1960, "environment" was just another word. "The
environment" had not yet been born. Only forty years later, Al Gore,
a candidate known for his strong environmental positions won the
popular vote for president. In 1960, what's-in-it-for-me took top
billing. In the outpouring of communal feeling on September 11, 2001
we saw how far we had come to what's-in-it-for-us.

By 1990, responsible self-interest became as compelling as the mania
for irresponsible self-interest. Two opposing manias created a
perilous split I call schizomania. Extreme irresponsibility produced
economic bedlam -- market bubbles, greedy CEOs grabbing ill-gotten
billions, cooked books and relaxed accounting procedures. At the same
time, exemplars of responsible self-interest demanded and are
beginning to win strict regulations.

As the pressure to get-it-all-now comes under increasing attack,
today's mania for consumption spending must subside. A significant
trend toward "down-scaling" has already been observed.

What's next? Since 1790, every depression occurred during an episode
of schizomania. And every episode produced at least one depression.
This does not mean that a depression is now inevitable. It does mean
that until 2020, in addition to continuing decline in consumer
spending, we should expect skittish investors, booms, busts and an
elevated probability of depression. Depression, not recession.

(Jack Lessinger is Professor Emeritus, Business, Government and
Society, School of Business, University of Washington. His latest
book is SCHIZOMANIA: Split Society, Perilous Economy 1990-2020. )

Copyright 2003 by Jack Lessinger

I'm reminded here of the famous quote by Kim Campbell, briefly the Prime Minister of Canada in 1993...

"An election is no time to discuss serious issues."

So, so sadly, maddeningly true.

In the movie Flight of the Phoenix, Jimmy Stewart's character has just two remaining tries to start an airplane engine, and is forced to use ("waste") the first of those two tries to "clear the engine".  I wish a John Kerry would be willing to "blow" a presidential election and "spend" the chance on re-educating a somnolent public.  It would be a service to the nation, and being a candidate he'd have his soapbox.  (Who wants to inherit the Iraq mess, anyway?)

I agree with the thesis; I think we are able to respond only to current emergencies (forcecasts of 9-11 and Katrina weren't bad enough).  Perhaps grass-roots awareness and big-business pressure are two possible drivers of political action. But first SOMEONE needs to open the discussion, make it part of discourse.

I am actually quite pessimistic, because I do not think American culture would accept a "negative" message.  The whole American myth and basic principle is progress and freedom to do whatever and expanding opportunity.  We would not know where to begin if faced with the need to downscale our dreams and lives.  I think of Jared Diamond's COLLAPSE when I consider our culture.  

In writing "Earth in the Balance" as a Senator and then running for president, Al Gore sort of tested this model. Check the reviews on Amazon - he is still being howled down for this book. A scholarly analysis of the impact of his stance on outcome of that election (most of such analysis likely involves hanging chads) likely exists somewhere; I suspect it was negative.

According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Gore he has a second book on global warming titled "An Inconvenient Truth" coming out this spring.

Gore's new book focuses on global warming. It is also a feature film documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim (Deadwood, The Shield) with ties to Participant Productions (of Syriana and Goodnight, Goodluck fame) and distribution with Paramount following a screening at Sundance.



I was thinking about Gore recently. Suppose the climate change/hurricane connection is as strong as I fear. Clearly, there'll be a lot of noise year-to-year, but suppose it happens that 2006 and/or 2007 are bad years. Let's say Miami or Houston receives the same treatment that coastal Missisippi and Louisiana just got. Suppose this creates a fairly broad recognition that global warming is a massive here/now threat that is stomping on our cities like Godzilla, and that we monumentally screwed up in puttting in power a bunch of people who wanted to deny/delay rather than solve the problem.

So then, who is our Churchill? The guy we now turn to because he's been out in the wilderness preaching an unpopular message that we didn't want to hear, but now realize we should have listened to before TSHTF? Gore is the only guy I can think of. He's the only major figure in the Democratic party who's established any real credibility on the issue. There will be no Republicans credible on the issue, and Nader is unelectable because he has no track record as anything other than a gadfly (he makes a great gadfly but I have zero confidence that he could run a large organization). Gore, for all his drawbacks, would be the only game in town.

It could well take till 2012, but it's an interesting thought...

I believe there is a strong chance the major campaign issue in 2008 will be oil or energy. If this is the case, the candidates will be tripping over themselves to be the "toughest" on oil and climate change.

Whether it is Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney or some other electable official, they will be clamoring for our attention.

For a while I have believed that the best way to make "Green" issues palatable to the SUV-driving soccer-mom Republicans, and the hardhat-wearing F150-driving democratic mine-workers is to wrap them in the flag. Sell it as energy "security." Any of the above mentioned politicians could pull this off.

But not Al Gore. He would only pull Democrats and nobody likes a loser. He's just not a fighter. That's why he lost Florida. He should stick to inventing internets. Alright, I don't like  Al Gore, forgive me.

But I don't buy for a moment that any of the politicians you mention have any deep commitment to these issues, and so I don't think they are going to have any activist base support in that scenario. The Dem's already tried the experiment of a supposedly "tough" candidate who lacked deep convictions in 2004. Gore is a very imperfect candidate, but I think he's genuine on climate change. Plus if he can run on "let's go back to competence like we had in the 90s". The Bush administration is starting to look incompetent even to Republicans and I think that's likely to be a big political trend too. I agree that his biggest liability is having lost once before.
I think the conflict beween energy and the environment is going to increase.  Bush dumped a bunch of environmental rules when Katrina hit, and few protested.  

I fear the next president will not be the guy who talks about climate change, but the guy who promises to open up the national parks for drilling.

SS wrote: I don't buy for a moment that any of the politicians you mention have any deep commitment to these issues, ..

Bill Clinton was on CSPAN a few months back talking about Global Warming, energy, etc. He tried to explain, but I'm not sure many heard, that the driving force for these issues arises bottom-up rather than top-down. It is the public that decides what is a "voting issue" and what not; and the politicians then respond.

Elsewhere, one political analyst (I forgot her name) was talking about the "Great Public Conversation", meaning the massive sets of conversations that we little people have with one another on a day-to-day basis. Some of the conversations resonate within the massive bottoms and rise up to be heard at the top of the hill while others simply don't ring the bell and are never heard.

The analyst proposed that it is these American-street conversations that drive politics and not the other way around. Good leaders know they better turn around every once in a while and make sure they have a flock of followers. Otherwise they will be marching alone towards the ledge and beyond.

So Stuart, yes in a way you are correct to argue that no politician has a deep commitment to an issue that is not going to swing the vote one way or another. But it is the people who decide through their Great Public Conversations what becomes a "voting issue" and what does not.

So the real question is how to make Peak Oil part of the mainstream conversation rather than part of a supposedly lunatic-fringe conversation.

No matter how good he is, the MSM really seems to dislike Al Gore.  Why, I don't know, but the man can't catch a break with the press.  That's why all those specious "inventing the internet" and "Love Story" canards still circulate.
They did really hate Gore.  I think he comes across as arrogant - as if he's much smarter than the reporters.  He can be rather condescending.  

He probably is much smarter than the reporters, but it's not a idea to let it show.  ;-)

Plus, the reporters following the Gore campaign got turkey sandwiches, while those following the Bush campaign got smoked salmon and caviar. Gore just didn't suck up to the press, and that was probably a mistake.

Gore really pissed me off when he gave into the theft of the election in 2000, but I think he believed he was doing the right thing in trying to prevent chaos, and I don't think he imagined how bad things would get, or how quickly.  His campaign was awful, but again, if you imagine the stress presidential candidates must be under, I suppose I can see how one could lose control of such a campaign.

But now, Gore is one of the few Democrats who have not prostituted themselves with the neocon fascists,  and by the time 2008 comes around, I suspect there will be a fair amount of nostalgia for the good old days of the 90's.  I personally believe that Al Gore would be an excellent president - the things that make for a good campaign are not really the things that make a good president.  He has the ability and interest to understand the issues at hand, and I would trust him to make a reasoned and rational decision.  

I'm all for re-electing Gore.  How refreshing it would be to have people in the White House who can use their minds for more than just scheming, and who are not criminals.  Not very high standards, I know, but we will need at lest that given the issues we face.

OTOH, as an Electrical Engineer I have a fairly good understanding of the technology, and I have zero confidence my vote will matter.

For a lot of us, our vote doesn't matter even if the counting is fair and accurate (which I strongly suspect it is not).  

Many expected the 2000 election to prove to everyone that every vote counted.  IMO, it had the opposite effect.  Yes, your vote counts if you're in a "swing" state.  But if your state is solidly red or solidly blue, your vote doesn't count.  

I am in a very red area of a very blue state.  There really is no point in voting.  I do it anyway, on principle, but it doesn't matter.  The local elections will all be won by the incumbent Republicans, the statewide and national by the Democrats (incumbent and otherwise).  There's rarely a local issue that's in question.  (The library budget always passes.)  Sometimes I wonder if it's worth risking jury duty for this...

Damn, I just got my jury duty letter in the mail.
...as an Electrical Engineer I have a fairly good understanding of the technology, and I have zero confidence my vote will matter.

Yes. Thanks to Diebold, you probably voted their way after you thought you voted your way. In electrical engineering it's known as the T-type flip flop.

Ah, a clear statement to justify rational apathy and rational nonparticipation! Why bother to vote (or do anything) because your one vote won't make any difference. Furthermore the system is corrupt, so why fight it?

Now, can you see the several fallacies in the above statements that I wrote?

Can you see the several fallacies in the above statements?

It's all "sound logic" to me.

You jump to conclusions.  I've never missed an election.  Now, if I open the tank on your toilet and disconnect the chain to the flusher, can you explain why you would continue pushing the lever?
You raise an extremely interesting and important question. I will answer it by an anecdote from when I was taking ground school from the late great Louis Robinson, the best pilot and one of the wisest men I've ever known. One of the students in the class asked:
"What do you do if the plane falls apart [and you have no parachute]."
Of course the answer I expected was to say your prayers or words to that effect, but Louis just relit his pipe, puffed and paused before he answered:
"You fly the wheel. Maybe the wheel is the only thing left, but you do not know that for sure. Fly the wheel, its all you've got."

In other words, when my toilet does not flush, I do not assume automatically that the chain is disconnected. Maybe the flapper valve is stuck. Maybe the float is leaking. Maybe I can just bend the rod to fix things. On the other hand, what I actually do is take off the lid, look inside, diagnose and fix the problem. What I do not do is shoot my toilet. I'm sort of attached to it, for about two minutes a day, every day;-)

People are not good at handling change.  It's hard to accept that a lifetime's habits of thought and behavior that were once so important are now meaningless.  But all of the societies of the past have experienced this - they all had rituals that were very important, until one day they weren't.  One of the most important things any of us can do to prepare for the effects of PO (and other things coming our way) is to be ready to accept such changes.  It doesn't mean we have to seek out change, but rather be ready to cast off those things that are no longer relevant.  I'm not quite there with voting, but if the present trajectory holds, it will not be long.  

And as far as the plane analogy goes, I don't think the issue is how one reacts when facing a near certain death with no time to react or choices.  It's more an issue of continuing to perform actions that are obviously no longer effective.  Not voting will have no effect on my survival if my vote is having no effect.  As I said - I'm not quite there, if only because it still works on a local level.  

Perhaps because he has the audacity to criticize corporate control of the MSM:


Just a few large corporations own a huge majority of the media outlets.  They control what we hear, and how it is framed.  While it is, in typical Gore fashion, long and involved, reading this speech (and further exploring the issue of the corporatocracy, of which the MSM is the mouthpiece) will shed much light on the discussion in this thread.  Our gov't does not work in the interest of nor in response to the 'body politic'.  It works in the interest of those with power, influence and money.

of the names you mentioned above, only John McCain can think quantitatively. However, IMO he is too honest to be nominated for president. Were I to be wrong about this, I think he could beat anybody, because he is the only Big Name I know in the political area who does not project fake sincerity. Also, he is very smart.
Call these comments a 'hunch' if you like. Should the US political calendar continue as at present John McCain is probably the only republican prospect that stands a chance of winning in 2008. But 2008 is a long time away, a great deal can happen in US politics by then. Correction, a great deal WILL happen by then; few, even at TOD, are aware of quite how different things will be by the time of the next US presidential election.
Can you expand a bit on specifically how you believe things will be different by 2008?
I will, a little. I expect neither GW Bush nor Cheney to be in either President or VP positions before the 2008 election. There will be interim holders of these roles and neither will be as determined by the succession and the current holders of those succession positions. I'll not say more now since I don't yet know how and why these things take place clearly enough to explain properly. Hopefully you will realise I am utterly mad and ignore these thoughts, if you don't you might be wise to take care what you say.
I wouldn't go so far as to say I expect it, but I would agree that it's a possibility and have said so here on TOD before. My basic justification for that opinion would be that any politician who presides over the kind of financial disaster (compounded by the effects of peak oil) that I'm expecting to begin shortly, is likely to find himself impeached (or worse). Fault would be irrelevant (although I don't think it would be hard to find in this case). An angry public may be calling for Bush's head on a platter within a couple of years. I don't know what specific justification they would be using, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that leaders become the focus for public fury when the rug is abruptly pulled out from beneath the public's feet, just as they can become the focus of public adoration (which may or may not be deserved) when things go well during their term.
Agric, please clarify:

. . . and neither will be as determined by the succession and the current holders of those succession positions.

I, for one, am always interested in your thoughts.

The current VP will not become president. I believe the next in line is Speaker of the House, nor will he, I'm not bothered by the rest of the succession cos nor will any of those currently in post.

Should the VP change before Bush ceases to be president there is the possibility that that VP will become president but I expect Bush to choose as he has done for many of the senior posts in his administration and so the odds are that VP will have to leave with Bush (perhaps after a brief hiatus).

I expect the next president of the US will be chosen by a near unanimous decision of the House and Senate, I also think it is quite likely that the president and VP will be from different parties.

You may be unwise to express interest in my thoughts, one of the 'thems' might wish to lock you up ;)

Just checked out the succession:

The original Constitution provides that if neither the President nor Vice President can serve, the Congress shall provide law stating who is next in line. Currently that law exists as 3 USC 19, a section of the U.S. Code. This law was established as part of the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. There, the following line of succession is provided:

Speaker of the House of Representatives
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Homeland Security (not yet set by law)


I recall reading that the line of succession was just changed.  I don't have time to look it up right now.
On the Dem side at least the MSM tends to emphasize early the rich, white man who is rejected in the primaries. Remember Howard Dean and who could forget President Paul Tsongus. America,s presidential primary system is an excellent example of minority rule. Lose in New Hampshire and Iowa and your off the ballot in New York and California.
I think Wendell Wilkie is a better analogy. He went over to the Republicans over Roosevelt going for a third term, and several months later was the Republican presidential candidate.
What happened was that the Republicans were in a hysterical, last ditch effort to keep America from rearming for fear that a deficit financed arms buildup (sounds familiar?) would end the depression and Roosevelt and the Democrats would get the credit because they had been trying to do just that for the last eight years.
Then after the primaries but before the convention, Hitler took Western Europe off the map in six weeks. The American people (and the Republican delegates) realised that the only thing standing between the coast and the Nazis was the British navy, and the British government was dominated by appeasionist Tories.
The delegates mutinied and picked Wilkie.
A good example would be if Hillary Clinton went back to the Republican party (she was a Young Republican in college) and was selected in 2008 as their presidential candidate.
Ohmigod, Hillary as Republican candidate in '08; she would be unbeatable! I raise my 1.75 liter jug of Jack Daniels to you and give you a toast.

Some visions just drive you to drink.

And that one I had never thought of.

I have a pretty good imagination. But.

Horror stories are not my genre.

Well, there seems to have been a mite of 'political cross-dressing' in the leaders of UK political parties in the last decade. So, perhaps...  Nah, they've not forgiven her for forgiving Bill, LOL.

Later, before he hung himself, he dropped the pieces of silver, and they've never forgiven him.

Remember, Wendell Wilkie did not win the election, just the nomination. The delegates remembered that in the last budget, the Republican disarmament wing had suggested 56 airplanes. For the year.
If the northern and western metrocoastal Republicans revolt because of a housing collapse, the Democratic and Republican party coalition will have 60% of the vote and 75% of the House and Senate. The last time we had a realignment that big was in 1928 to 1932, and for the same reason. When the banks went down they took too many hard working, high savings, middle class Republicans with them. We had social security within four years of the realignment election. They had played by the rules, been cheated out of their retirement, and they just changed the rules to get their retirement back.
A collapse of metrocoastal housing values will flip a lot of voters. And when the dollar renormalizes, housing values will renormalize because too many people will be moving to where the jobs are in the flyover areas like Montana and Alabama.
Our balance of payments deficit was 716 billion last year. That's a lot of jobs that are going to come back.
I do not think American culture would accept a "negative" message.  M

Look at the Reagan/Ducakus election.   The message was 'happy days are here again VS wasteful govenment spending in the past requires sacrifice.

The 'voodoo economics' of Reagon won.

Thank you for writing this.  I often get the feeling that Europeans don't understand our political system - particularly its incredible inertia.
Speaking as a European, I also find it hard to understand the US culture of optimism and positive thinking when flying in the face of a lot of evidence: Mission Accomplished! We have turned the corner! They hate our freedom! We are the city on a hill! God bless America! What Global Warming?

I am sad when I hear these phrases because they seem to portend more suffering, injustice and poverty. At least, that's how it appears to this pinko-commie liberal on this side of the pond. "Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings"... But, we are all in this together! I don't want to offend anyone, just communicate that there are cultural differences which grate (on both sides, I'm sure).

Probably 1/3 to 1/2 of us Americans hate that "mission accomplished" "they hate our freedoms" "god bless america" crap, too.  We are not a monolithic country.  Our political system makes it seem like we are, but we aren't.
With all due respect, Leanan, I think the number is less than 5%. Political emotion probably conforms to a bell curve. The vast majority of the population exists in the middle - unaware, uninformed, unintelligent, apathetic, and above all incapable of having a coherent opinion, nevermind expressing it.

This is not necessarily bad. There is nothing wrong with these people. I may even be one of them and not know it. This is just the way it is. Here and everywhere else. Those people rioting in the East over cartoons didn't wake up and decide to do that. They do it out of peer pressure and because their leaders instigated it. They are only able to react because they have eyes. They are illiterate - if you wrote out those jokes, they wouldn't understand. I digress.

There is a rainbow of political opinion in the US. Very few people either "hate" or "love" anything.

On the broader topic here: Why the US Political System Is Unable to React to Peak Oil: Institutions.

Of the people, by the people, for the people. Like the Muslims in the East we react to one thing - what we see -in this case, the price of gasoline.

The media now is actually totally hyping the price of energy. You see it everywhere and all the time. This is good and partially the result of "believers" here and elsewhere. Every night the evening news has a story on Iraq and one on some aspect of the "price of oil." On PBS as well as FOX. The "debate" is healthy. As I have said before - our much-maligned President himself has acknowledged the issue in the State of the Union Address. Remember the "yellow-cake-from-Niger" reference of three years ago that got so much flak? Why doesn't Bush's comment on "oil-addiction" draw an equal amount of praise from this clearly left-leaning crowd here? It's politics, and it's unhealthy. It is obviously motivated by a "hatred" of Bush among the same intellectual elite who espouse peak oil. It undermines the movement to change our energy habits. If it was Clinton or Carter who had said this there would have been a party here. Instead, we just had a couple of threads.

To those of you who are about to start spewing anti-establishment, left-wing nonsense, save your breath. I am an independent and non-affiliated with any institution or ideology. I cherish only my freedom.

The notion that this issue is not getting play is ridiculous. It is up to us now to define the important aspects of that issue.

The tone in this thread is negative and defeatist. The bottom line is that the national average price of retail gasoline is $2.26. Sorry Folks, that is not going to cut it. As I have stated numerous times before, this price needs to be $3.50 before anything happens.

Until that price is higher nobody is going to pay any attention to anything you say about peak-anything. I'm sure you all can verify this through personal experience.

I'm sorry Leanan, those statements weren't aimed at anything you said, I got sidetracked.

With all due respect, Leanan, I think the number is less than 5%. Political emotion probably conforms to a bell curve.

And I think you're dead wrong on that.  Though I agree that might not be a good thing.

It's not 5%.  We have become much more polarized than we used to be.  I would say about 30% of the American people are in the middle.  30% are hardcore rightwingers, 30%...well, perhaps not hardcore leftwingers, but hardcore anti-rightwingers.  

I expect the polarization to grow worse.  It is, as Tainter has noted, entirely normal for ideological strife to increase as collapse approaches.

I just don't agree. Only about 50% of the people vote on any regular basis. How could 60% (30% on either end)be hardcore anything? The numbers don't add up.

I will stick to my 5% numbers. I'd say another 25% on either end can only be classified as having moderate political motivation.

I just don't see it. If you look at poll numbers where you basically have "leading of the witness" - you might get one impression. But remember those are the people who are motivated or the 30% or whatever on either end to start with. You've already eliminated the middle that I talk about.

Have you ever seen those USA today-type studies that show the percentage of Americans who can't find the US on a map or can't name the vice-president? I always like those and can never figure out why they don't get more attention but to think that it is because we can't look our own obliviousness in the mirror. How can these people possible have a hardcore political opinion.

I'm sure that if I questioned my own family and friends - what I consider(perhaps mistakenly) a generally intelligent and informed group - they would not be able to give a coherent synopsis of the difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Most Americans know Bush is a Republican through constant association. They wouldn't be able to name a Democrat, having forgotten John Kerry. They only understand what a blue or red-state is when it is drilled into them in the week before election day.

Remember the Clinton-campaign slogan, "It's the economy stupid." That's what matters. That's what Americans respond to. If there are jobs and everything seems ok, it doesn't matter whether the leaders are left, right, or center.

It is only the fringes, the "margin," that has any hardcore-ness to it. And that has always been the case.

The right complains that the New York Times is a liberal institution. Anytime you mention something vaguely conservative, you get accused by people in Brazil of watching too much Fox News. The reality is most people don't read newspapers or watch the news. That's because they don't read and if they watch anything it's either porn or reality-TV.

It would be nice to think that 60% of the population is politically-driven, but my everyday experience with my fellow Americans just doesn't show that. I'd be willing to hear more evidence that I'm wrong.

Oil CEO,
I wish I could say I disagree with you.

Unfortunately you lay out a solid case.

That is so true.

The silent majority is a good 50% of the people who hardly ever vote or get involved. They live their private, self-absorbed lives; and who's to say that their way is so wrong?

Of course, the see no evil, hear no evil and mind your own business route works well for only so much of the long haul.

Eventually some irate outsider is going to smash his 747 fists into our tranquil, two-towered lives even though we personally feel we did nothing wrong. We bought our SUV's and paid with honest money for our gasoline. Why do they hate our freedom? Surely it's not something we did.

Eventually some irate outsider is going to smash his 747 fists into our tranquil, two-towered lives even though we personally feel we did nothing wrong.
If we had a "Sentence of the Year" award here at TOD, I would nominate that one. That's a really great piece of English.
Well Stuart, you really make me gush in embarassment, especially because I started life as an assembly language coder who only spoke in 3-letter neumonics (MOV A, B) before I embarked on a project to learn how to speak and write in English. It has been a journey of a thousand mistakes. Thanks.
How could 60% (30% on either end)be hardcore anything?

Easily.  There are a lot of disillusioned people in this country.  They care, but they don't think their vote counts.  Or they don't think there's a real difference between the two parties.  

How can these people possible have a hardcore political opinion.

Again, it's easy.  The less you know, the easier it is to be hardcore.  People's reactions to, say, Clinton or Bush are visceral, not intellectual.

They wouldn't be able to name a Democrat, having forgotten John Kerry.

Oh, yes they would.  Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.  

It would be nice to think that 60% of the population is politically-driven, but my everyday experience with my fellow Americans just doesn't show that.

Not really politically-driven (though in a sense, I would say all human activity is to some extent political).  More like politically opinionated.  They feel strongly.  

There are a lot like that in my office.  They don't bother to vote, but they spend a lot of time forwarding rightwing talking points via e-mail and working themselves into a frenzy over Hillary Clinton.  

FWIW, I would not have "partied" no matter who said the words "oil addiction."  If anything, it was more impressive that Bush, of all people said them.  But he also backpeddled the very next day, with the White House saying he didn't really mean it.  

But if President Gore or President Kerry had given the same speech, I would not have been impressed, either.  Talk is cheap.  Especially from a politician.  

Without agreeing with your numbers, I agree with your opinions and concede that you make some very good points. I appreciate your response.
I am not negativistic, nor am I defeatist.

You are 100% correct about the poison of mindless leftism.
For example, W. Bush advocates switchgrass, therefore switchgrass ethanol is stupid, bad, tool of the establishment blah, blah, blah.

Well, having done my homework, I am a huge fan of switchgrass, though on my own property grow jerusalem artichokes, because you can eat those, too.

To post here we must be optimists: Otherwise why not just get in bed with our friend, Jack Daniels?

I wasn't criticizing anybody, only the tone of the thread, if that makes any sense.
For example, W. Bush advocates switchgrass, therefore switchgrass ethanol is stupid, bad, tool of the establishment blah, blah, blah.

Well, having done my homework, I am a huge fan of switchgrass, though on my own property grow jerusalem artichokes, because you can eat those, too.

Most of the switchgrass plans I've seen have the grass carted off to some processing plant.  And the switchgrass advocates ignore the need to bring the left-over 'waste' material back to the land from where it came.

So, as someone who's "researched" this, show me where there is a small-scale bioreactor that a man could put on 40 acres to provide a fremented slurry to feed his potstill?

if 'switchgrass processing' is like 'soybean oil processing'  (where you need 20 (or was it 200) tons of soybeans a day to chemically extract the oil profitablilty), they yea....switchgrass IS a 'tool of the establishment.

But you've researched it... show us an inexpensive unit that 40 acres could feed it raw material and the resuliting output would be profitable in 5 years, therefore making the investement worthwhile.

As a former instructor, I get really really tired of returning weak drafts of papers as unacceptable and saying: "Do your homework, and revise."

By your words you have revealed that there is no bottom to your ignorance at 600 fathoms. Deeper than that my line does not go.

There is no answer to bullet-proof invincible ignorance except to ignore it.

Good bye.

That's fine.  

The challege is still open to anyone who actully KNOWS what they are talking about - where is the swithcgrass->fuel method that would be profitable in 5 years for a 40 acre farm which allows the post-processed waste to be returned to the land.

Because to date, I've been seeing is alot of hot air from elected officials and their ilk.

I would suggest research into fermenting it to get methane.

Why build for only 40 acres?

I would suggest research into fermenting it to get methane.

But that is not the question at hand - the pro-switchgrass fans are the ones pushing it to make liquid fuel.  Toxic liquid, yes.  But not toxic like methane is.   And liquid fuel != gas fuel.

Right now I can plant sugar beets and obtain food for the yeasts.   And I can do that model on 1/2 an acre to 40 or more acres.   Plus, I can eat the beets, if I was hungry, can't do that with switchgrass.

Why build for only 40 acres?

Scaleability.   In an ideal world, I'd like to see the model work on 5 acres.   But if the smallest unit is sized for 40 acres, to service 120 acres, 3 units.   If you had 400 acres, one could buy 11 units, thus allowing one unit to be in 'service' mode.   Or you could buy 5 units, and STILL have full production if the harvest was bad.

Plus, alot of state tax law change based on the size.  40 acres is one of the 'incremental' units.

I think that if you can build a bioreactor for every hundred square miles you can truck back the small amount of solids with no particular difficulty. That's an average five mile trip.
Also, remember the amount of solids is very low. The roots stay in the ground for soil remediation (no plowing, of course) so you are only moving the left behind potash and phosphate, not mulch. Nitrates don't make it through the bioreactor so the switchgrass is planted with a nitrogen fixer as an alternate crop, or the nitrate is made from coal. Or the switchgrass is genetically engineered to make it's own nitrate. Sulfur we are getting from China, in the air.
I still prefer coal for synfuels, but then again, I could be wrong.
You say yoou are an independent but your rhetoric is pure GOP.
Come on guys.
What happened to the "TOD reaches 10^6" post and all our self-congratulations about how no one engages in ad honimen attacks here?
Oh golly gee-whillikers! A "Republican rhetoric." That must be why I love John Maynard Keynes so much, voted for Ralph Nader and before him for Paul Welstone. You're too young to remember my hero, Eugene McCarthy.


I wonder if there isn't a genetic predispositon towards optimism (and "rugged individualism") in the millions who've immigrated over many years to the U.S., in many cases leaving behind homes and families for a "better" life.  

My mom, an immigrant from Germany, is the epitome of optimism - and a strong supporter of GW Bush, Fox News, big tax cuts, etc.  After telling me how she used to huddle around the kitchen stove with her siblings during winter, she got very upset with me when I described how my wife and I are essentially living in one heated room of our house  saying how negatively we were acting.  I was quite shocked, and pointed out the reality of rising NG prices as a motivator, but she wouldn't budge from her optimism that somehow the problem would get solved.

There's also the theory that the U.S. was settled by criminals, lunatics, and religious fanatics, and it takes a long time for that stuff to wash out of the gene pool.  ;-)

Seriously, I think what we see is the difference between a young country, rich in natural resources and used to expansion, vs. older nations that are have been forced to face their own limits.  

"pinko-commie liberal"

There are plenty of pinko-commie liberals on this side of the pond.  At this point, we mostly feel like germans in the 1930's, powerless to stop Hitler.

Speaking as a European, I also find it hard to understand the US culture of optimism and positive thinking when flying in the face of a lot of evidence: Mission Accomplished! We have turned the corner! They hate our freedom! We are the city on a hill! God bless America!

Speaking as an American, I am saddened that you Europeans don't stick this in our face more often. You are way too polite and we Americans don't understand politeness.

Please allow me to translate the American talk that you see on so many of these blog pages.

First you must understand a concept embedded in our culture. It is called "free will". We Americans believe that we cannot be brain washed. It is a fundamentalist feature of our Judaeo-Christian culture that each man (or woman --as if they actually count) is "free" to choose between two clear extremes: good and evil.

You need to watch a lot of Cowboy and Indians movies starring John Wayne to fully understand our culture. John, you see, always wears the white hat and he is always 100% goodness. He rides free on the Open Range. Whosoever chooses to oppose John (well actually, it's in the movie script and they have no real choice) wears a black hat and is evil beyond redemption.

Anyone who opposes John gets blown to kingdom come and we Americans cheer wildly. Are you starting to get the movie picture yet?

We Americans are unable to understand the difference between Hollywood fiction and real reality. Our brains see both as being one and the same. In our movies, America always wins. Therefore the same outcome has to happen in the other world, the one out there beyond the borders of our self-centered skulls. Are you starting to understand yet?

The President of our country is controlled by a Machivellian character named Karl Rove. Karl knows about brain washing. He knows how to send "mixed messages" to the reptilian and sheep-like parts of the American brain. The American brain does not know it is being taken to the cleaners and will deny it if you try to say otherwise. You see, we all have "free will". It can be no other way.

So consider the mixed mesage you posted upstairs: THEY hate OUR freedom.

How does the American mind decode this message?

Well, "THEY" are the evil unAmericans. That's easy. It's always us innocent sheep against them bad wolves.

"Hate" is an ugly emotion that we despise and we get all mad and hateful when anyone brings it up.

"OUR" reminds us that we are an ownership society and we have exclusive rights to all sorts of things.

"Freedom" reminds us that we are like reptiles trapped in a cage. It makes us go wild and crazy if someone (other than our wire-tapping President) threatens our "freedom".

So you see? Our Karl Rove is a brilliant engineer of mind twisting messages.

They make no sense to you Europeans because you have not been programmed since childhood to sing "God Bless America". These short phrases do not stir up your blood and emotions the way they do it to us Americans. "Mission Accomplished" does not remind you that you made it to the Moon in the Apollo Mission and by-golly you will win again through unstoppable Yankee ingenuity.

And as for that "shinning city on the hill", well, there you go again. You never went to church with our cowboy president, Ronald the Righteous, to understand that optmistic dream. It sort of brings Star War tears to us Americans. Anything is possible. Why even an idiot can become President.

God Bless America. (Please.)

For me this is not that unnatural or foolish or even dangerous as it may seem. Every country (and its people) has gone through a similar stage when it was too young and too successful. We just need several (hopefully not too devastating) crisises to get a more sustainable vision of ourselves and the country we live in.

Unfortunately history is a slow process and there will be quite a while before we get there... probably not in our lifetime.

that was my impression too Leanan, but I think the institutional perspective is lost on a lot of Americans too, even some of the smarties.  The rules of the game dictate outcomes...it's not sexy, but it sure as hell is true.
The incredible inertia of our system of checks and balances stopped the foreign oil response by some of our presidents back in the 70s as I've noted in some of my other posts. In a sensible response to Arab misbehavior, we had bills laying on Washington desks that would have begun a domestic coal conversion build out that would have gone a long way to freeing us from the 70% of our oil usage that goes into our filling stations. If that hadn't been derailed in Congress and we would have had 30 years of build out, we'd have a much less deadly oil crisis today. But the sad fact is that peak oil is not political thing, it's a science thing. It's interesting to note that the three presidents who intiated some of the right things to do in the 70s, Nixon, Ford, and Carter, were three of the most politically clumsy, unpopular presidents ever. It seems to be bad politcal karma to follow the implications of the science of Hubbert. It's like they can either think political or think reality and science . You could take your average congressman, tie him to a chair in a room, show him the charts, algebra, and data, do everything including beating him over the head with a 35 lb edition of Deffeyes, and he would never understand or do anything meaningful about peak oil.  
DC also built the 103 mile DC Metro as an alternative to urban oil consumption.  A start was made in Miami with federal funding and Atlanta built the core of a system that missed the high traffic areas.

Further efforts were "derailed" for lack of funding after this aborted start.

"Light Rail" was born as a lower cost affordable alternative to Rapid Transit (exclusive ROW, usually 3rd rail, high volume).  Not as good, but not as expensive.

Miami has finally (2003 ?) funded a restart of their "Subway in the Sky" program with plans to build a 103 mile system within two decades.

SF Bay BART was more a local effort AFAIK.

I would like to believe that our congressmen and presidential candidates are acting out of "understandable" self-interest. This at least would make some sort of depressing sense. I think though that the answer is much worse than anybody would like, and that it is to be found in the "military-congressional-industrial" complex Eisenhower warned about. Instead of self-interest, I think that deliberate policy from behind is in the driver seat when it comes to how our government is reacting not just to peak oil, but the blatant currency debasing (deficits), global warming, and other policies that seem to defy logic, that is - if the intent is to provide a better life for ordinary Americans - this is not the way to do it.
Good post and I agree you have captured our system the way it is today.

I am less certain this is what the founding fathers wanted.  Here is how I think of it.

They set up the house as a way to get as much imput from the entire population as possible.

The Senate was set up to be more of a brain trust and have a small number of more elite thinkers pushing legislation.  

The tension between the house and Senate should capture both prevailing public opinion (House) and rational long term planning (Senate) to deliver good laws and direction.  When the population of the country was much smaller this was easier to maintain.  The really bright statesmen ended up in the Senate.

I think we have lost these distinctions today.  Mostly I think we have lost focus because politics has become a career all on its own.  It was suppossed to be a service to the society with individuals rotating in and out.  Most career politicians don't know anything but politics and running for office.  They spend years working up the system to ever higher office.  IMO they are now the least knowledgable people about real world problems; not the most knowledgable with goals to achieve for the good of society.

In the abscence of good legislation the executive and judicial branches just go through the motions without clear direction of where the country is going or how to carry that direction out legally.

good points.  two caveats...remember, senators were not directly elected until 1913...that meant that their election was rather democratically detached shall we say.

the other is that, in a small country, the representative/pragmatic model you spoke of worked very well.  no real pressing decisions, small constituencies.  But now, each member of the House "represents" over 650k people...


Also don't forget that the house number was fixed rather than continuously increasing by 1 representative per X thousand people.  Each individuals vote has been diminished.

I think there are two factors that also contribute to the career politician that have changed dramatically over the past 200 years.

First, the MSM allows people to enter politics at a younger age.  Previously you needed to build a reputation as a statesmen over the course of years and decades.  Now you need a little buzz and about 6 weeks worth of good sound bites and you can get elected.  You also have it extending from a career polition to a family political machine passed on from generation to generation.

Second, they keep living longer.  Good ole Strom served how many terms?  The combination of longer lives and the ability of technology to extend the working life of a politition allow them to serve longer and longer terms.

A century ago somebody would need to wait longer to get elected, and then because of health be forced out of office sooner.  Today both of these ends have been pushed further apart.  They could be pushed closer together again by two methods - minimum age (already in place but could be raised) and term limits.  I would like to see a consecutive term limit of 2 terms for all offices.  This would allow politicians to server two terms, and then require them to take a least one term off.  If the retirement plan was also done away with it would force politicains into the real world between elected terms.

I think our current situation was summed up some years ago:
"Politicians think about the next election, Statesmen think about the next generation". -- Sir Winston Churchill
There's a relevant article in the NY Times today about the politics of a revenue-neutral gas tax to reduce consumption and spur conservation.

Here's the link to the NY Times article (which in a week will be inaccessible to non-subscribers).

Here's a more permanent link (via the Economist's View blog)to most of the article with some bits edited out:

And and excerpt:

SUPPOSE a politician promised to reveal the details of a simple proposal that would, if adopted, produce hundreds of billions of dollars in savings for American consumers, significant reductions in traffic congestion, major improvements in urban air quality, large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and substantially reduced dependence on Middle East oil. The politician also promised that the plan would require no net cash outlays from American families, no additional regulations and no expansion of the bureaucracy.

As economists often remind their students, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So this politician's announcement would almost surely be greeted skeptically. Yet a policy that would deliver precisely the outcomes described could be enacted by Congress tomorrow -- namely, a $2-a-gallon tax on gasoline whose proceeds were refunded to American families in reduced payroll taxes.

I would be in favor of a gas tax, because I'm a peak oiler, but politically speaking, I think this would be suicide.  It sounds like a very regressive tax.  I suspect even if my payroll taxes were eliminated, it wouldn't cover the increase in the cost of groceries, etc., that would inevitably follow such a rise in fuel costs.  

Now, I'm a peak oiler, so I think that rise is coming anyway.  Might as well prepare for it.  But Joe Sixpack is not gonna go for this.  Remember the Bush campaign ads that mocked Kerry for once considering a $0.50 a gallon tax?

I think a gas tax is a great idea. I wonder what it is about Europe and (to a lesser extent) Canada that makes the gas tax politically acceptable there.
Europe's gas taxes are the result of both progressive thinking(in my opinion) and the realties of shortages during and following World War II.

There is more discussion of gas taxes in the January 27th post - Bush to GM and Ford: Build a Better Car.


I remembered that discussion and actually tried to put in a link to it in my comment, but couldn't find it using the search function. I just knew you (Oil CEO) proposed a revenue neutral gas tax, like described in the Times article, except you would have a refund go to every driver; then another poster wanted to correct that to every person.

My first reaction was to agree it's a good plan, then I got to thinking how it would be attacked. The argument against the plan would go like this: "Us hard working Americans have to pay this onerous new tax and then the government is going to turn around and give that money to welfare queens!"

I guess the plan described in the Times article works around that (give the refund via reduced payroll taxes). You don't have to be a "driver" to get the refund. (And how would you define that, anyway?) But homeless people and "welfare queens" (if they exist) wouldn't get a cash bonanza each christmas to party with.

On the other hand I guess the AARP would be all bent out of shape about it.

Good point.  The people who would really be hurt would be 1) business owners and 2) those who don't work (retired, stay at home parents,  unemployed, etc.).
These are valid concerns. Although I've thought above this subject alot, I'm not at the stage yet of ironing out the details. For the simple reason that there is approximately zero support for the idea anywhere with the exception of the NYT editorial board and Tom Friedman.

However it must be noted that if the reasons for implementing a serious gas-tax scheme are as serious as we believe, should be really be "not risking" it because of some unavoidable regressive features?

Britain and other parts of the world have taxes amounting to 75% of the retail price. Do we ever hear about regression there? Society will adapt to the side effects of these measures that aid it.

I'm not worried about the regressive features, except in how they affect the chances of it ever passing.  I think Mikey's right: AARP would be the deal-killer.  They get very upset at anything that might affect social security.  Plus, there wouldn't be anything for retirees on fixed incomes in the deal for them.  It's a lose-lose proposition for them.  And they vote.  In very high numbers.  
I'm not sure how this would effect social security. The idea is to refund individual's 12,000 miles worth of gasoline tax every year. This means if you don't drive that much, which I would hope the older folks weren't doing, they would make money. It actually pays them not to drive, so it's win-win. Once for Society, Once for Gramps.
Repeal of the payroll tax, which I thought you were proposing as the offset for the gas tax, eliminates the last facade of a Social Security trust fund.  
Again, I don't know how this issue relates to social security and don't know where the idea came from that I was proposing a repeal of the payroll tax.
Someone here is, sorry if I mistakenly attributed it to you.
The NY Times article suggests cutting the payroll tax to offset a gas tax.  
It's good to see we have another gas-tax recruit. But remember, you don't have to be a peak-oiler to support one and it doesn't have to be regressive. See my comments on a gas tax proposal in the link I've posted below.
A  $2.00 per gallon gas tax would be a good idea.  It would bring in about 280 billion dollars per year, the employee SS tax would be eliminated, however the employer tax would remain at 7.65% for the self employed and the employers. This would give every one from the minimum wage earner to the maximum SST payer a 7.65% raise and could be spent on gas at their discretion. The only impact on the economy would be an immediate decrease in gasoline consumption, and lower spot gas prices.
The Australian Democrats had a similar plan years ago that never really saw the light of day: to effectively remove all of the fixed costs associated with operating a motor vehicle (registration and compulsory insurance) by funding these centrally through fuel tax.
Then there would be real motivation to drive less because by doing so you save more than otherwise.
It seems to me that this discussion is veering too far to the abstract. In fact, American political institutions have reacted fairly quickly to energy shocks in the past. I am thinking first off of the oil shocks in the early 1970s. The government managed to implement CAFE, a national 55mph speed limit, efficiency campaigns, etc. Took some time, but they did accomplish these policy changes. And they did have a significant impact on oil consumption. This impact was so significant that it contributed to the collapse of oil prices in the early 80s, which led, of course, to the abandonment of the very policies that helped bring the price of oil down!

As for today, the price signals aren't strong or consistent enough to lead to policy change. A price of $100/barrel, sustained for several months, would surely goose the system into motion. Where to, of course, is another question entirely.

And, since I mentioned it, why have I heard absolutely nothing in the press or on my travels on the web, including here (!), about bringing the 55MPH speed limit back? Exploring that in the context of our political structures might put some flesh on the rather abstract bones of this thread.


Look how fast we got Saddam for his role in 9/11!
Excellent question!  I have been observing a 55-mph limit the last few months and have been getting at least 5 more mpg in my '99 Saturn SL2 automatic.

So why is it that 55mph isn't on the radar?

After all, it would not require a new tax, and it even would be consistent with 'the culture of life' insofar as it might reduce traffic fatalities as a bonus benefit.

Your example suggests a little back of the envelope math (taking many liberties of course, but it's a start)

assume: you previously got 20mpg, now you get 25mpg. That's a 25% increase in efficiency.* Further assume that 50% of miles traveled is >55mph. Then, if a new 55mph limit were universally enforced, that would result in an increased AFE of something like 12%. With 70% of consumption going for vehicular transportation, that would lead to more than an 8% decline in total oil consumption, ceteris paribus, of course.  Even with much more pessimistic assumptions, we're still looking at a 5% possible reduction in consumption.

That ain't chump change. And it's 'free'!

* that 25% increase in efficiency is consistent with some studies on the topic.

One of the reasons is that journalists often cite statistics that your time is more valuable than gas.  I don't have the link but I think it was a car writer from Detroit (McManus?) who wrote slowing down to save money with hybrids was counter productive.  The less time you spend in your car the better.  More time at work earning $X per hour.  The pennies you spend driving fast are more than made up by your earning power.

I disagree with this whole argument but on the surface it sounds logical.

Of course it is logical. Everywhere I drive I go 120 m.p.h. so as to have more time to post on TOD and thereby save the world. Thus, it is clearly my moral duty to drive that fast;-)

Seriously, when I am Emperor we go back to a variation of World War II gasoline rationing:

  1. 35 m.p.h. speed limit, except for buses and emergency vehicles, which could go as fast as they like. Thus we get people out of cars and onto streetcars and buses.
  2. marketable gas coupons for rationing, which poorer people could sell to richer ones. Everybody with a driver's licence gets 10 gallons per week at the modest price of 5 per gallon. You want more coupons, go to the places where poor people live and buy theirs. Thus we kill two birds with one stone: Income redistribution and shifting the whole demand curve down and to the left.
    Now would this work? Yes. How much chance is there of it being put into effect before TSHTF? About one-fourth as much as a snowball in hell has to last for half an hour.  
Taking the calculation all the way (70mph vs. 55mph, 20mpg vs. 25mpg, 7k of highway per year, $2.40 a gallon), you would save a rip-roaring $.46 a day!  And for that you get to sit in the slow lane watching people flip you off, run up your bumper, and blast their horn at you for going so slow.  I know, I bike to work and drive the speed limit when I'm driving our car.  

I expect most Americans who were around then look back at the efficiency measures of the 70s as some sort of communist plot to deprive us of our rights.  That's where "conservation" became a concept to sneer at.  Americans have grown up before and after the 70s with a culture of speed and power. Even the hybrids are starting to advertise their acceleration and peak horsepower.  

Oil CEO and uterenonnumera are right, prices aren't high enough to really change behavior at this point.  When they do get that high, and don't appear to be headed back down soon, things will start to change.

Anyone want to recommend a good book on the 70s?  What kind of political changes happened in the 70s that allowed those efficiency changes to take place?

I don't think it was political changes.  It was the reality of gas rationing, long lines, etc.  

One of my coworkers who is old enough to remember the '70s told me that he used to camp out all night to get gas.  He was working as a cable installer, so he had to have gas.  He'd park his car in front of the pumps at about 10:30pm and go to sleep.  He'd wake up when the gas station opened at 7 or 8am and fill his tank.  There would be a line stretching blocks behind him by then.  

So, you want to know about the 70s and conservation. Forget about politicians. IMHO they did exactly one thing that affected conservation. They mandated lower exhaust emissions on cars. The crappy technology Detroit could come up with to retrofit their, big-block designed to suck fuel like there was no tomorrow, V-8s along with unbelievably horrible build quality, resulted in a market for good running well built 4-cylinder Japanese cars that was inconceivable in the 60s.

The 55 MPH speed limit was a non-factor as roughly the same number of people actually drove 55 then as do today. Traffic courts did a robust business, but in many states the cops were many times fairly indifferent toward enforcement. I think they would have been totally indifferent, but the Feds threatened withholding of highway funds unless they reported some magic number of speeding citations. They certainly didn't have to work very hard for them.

One more thing, I'm pretty sure that most of the automobile fuel consumption in the US actually occurs in urban zones where the speed limit is already at or below 55 and the actual average speed is often below 35.

You want fuel conservation, get the damn government, fed and local, to levy some kind of sin tax on SUVs and require the Japanese and Europeans (Oh and looking to the future, Chinese while we're at it) to include a large percentage of small diesel cars and pickups in their import quotas.

The best book on the 70's is Hunter S. Thompson's 'The Great Shark Hunt.'

About oil and efficiency, I don't know of any specifically on the subject. Alot of authors give these topics decent treatment. Simmons' 'Twilight' discusses some myths associated with the demand thing.

Keith Bradsher's 'High and Mighty' about the evolution of SUV's is very good, although I forget how much he gets into the 70's gas issue. You reminded me to check.

I really like this new book by Tertzakian - 'A Thousand Barrels a Day.' I know he discusses the subject, but haven't read enough to give a full appraisal.

SUVs evolved for one simple reason--the CAFE standars. To get their average mileages up the big car makers killed my favorite kind of car, the big full-sized station wagons (Ford Crown Vic, Chev Impala, etc). Then, as a substitute for these excellent machines the car companies made these stupid truck-based SUVs that get far far worse mileage than my Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon with that fine old 5.0 liter engine ever did. I used to get well over twenty m.p.g. with the air conditioning on and going at a moderate speed, i.e. below sixty-five m.p.h. As an experiment, once I set the cruise control for 55 m.p.h., and I do not remember the exact mileage, but it was over 25 m.p.g.

Also SUVs roll over with great regularity--nowhere near as safe as my old Bohemuth.

Anyway the big point is this: Write your laws with care, or they will bite you. Plato, BTW, clearly knew and expressed this in his final work, THE LAWS, in which he stated the biggest problem is how to keep political pressure from changing and corrupting excellent and wise old laws.

Those old Greeks stole all our good ideas before we even got there.

There was a bit more to it than that.

Some years back (1963, I think) there was a trade spat between Europe and the U.S that somehow involved chickens.  The US ended up enacting a retaliatory tariff on imported trucks of 25% (google "chicken tariff truck" for links to this).  The intended target at the time was Volkswagen.

All these years later, the tariff still exists, but the point is that by creating the SUV craze in the US, the US automakers created a situation where they had a natural immunity to foreign competition.  Some automakers have figured out ways around it (building them in the U.S. is probably one of the ways around it).

Correct. And what you say reinforces my big point: Legislate with care, or the Law of Unintended Consequences will turn around and bite you where the hair is short.
Maybe, but I don't think so. In 1963 VW's truck was a microbus with a truncated cabin and a cargo deck almost 5 feet above ground. Detroit did not fear it.

What did scare the hell out of Detroit was the swarm of compact pickups swimming ashore from Japan in the 80s. They were very threatening to the market for F-150s, Silverados and Rams. Why did it matter? For many years the Ford F-150 had been the biggest selling vehicle in the US and they were cheap to build. What to do? Well, go running to your Uncle Sam's House and whine a lot, of course. This was well covered in the automotive press at the time. Uncle, of course, looks after his own and so a barrier was erected, making it harder for those little trucks to get ashore.

Now for how this caused the SUV. Included in the category of pickup trucks were versions that extended the cabin over the cargo area with some form of rear seating. Both Detroit and Japan built these and they were also affected by the barrier. But, there was a loophole (there is always a loophole). Fully enclosed pickup trucks with four doors were , wait for it, NOT pickup trucks. Well, everything has to be something and since they weren't pickup trucks and they certainly didn't want to be station wagons it was time to consult the oracle, of Mad Av that is. The oracle knew that what is near and dear to the hearts of soccer moms and Joe Sixpacks everywhere are sports and utility. Once the word got out that these TRUCKS were actually SUVs, well, you weren't sh*t if you didn't have one.

Well, I applaud you for doing your part to save fuel, but I'm not sure I want to be restricted to 55mph - my time is important to me, and I did not choose to buy a large car with a big engine and a fuel wasting automatic as you did (you may never have thought of it that way! ;-) ).  Seriously, I have no problem maintaining 85mph with my 1500cc, and I could easily drive a much smaller engined car.  My old 1300cc Fiat went just fine, and that was without fuel injection, multiple valves, or a 5spd.  I would think 1100 or 1200cc would be fine.  The point is that I don't think those who choose reasonable, more efficient automobiles should be penalized the same as those who choose to commute in Explorers. So I'm not sure a speed limit is the best way to accomplish creating the incentive to conserve.  I would prefer a gas tax, modified to prevent it from being regressive and hammering lower income people.  Or perhaps a monthly fuel ration, but again one has to be careful as those who are poor end up with all the old inefficient cars.  
The interesting thing about speed limits is that 55 mph is the cutoff point for the average passenger vehicle - the point where fuel efficiency starts to drop off.

That point is much lower for a high, boxy vehicle such as a truck or SUV.  They start hitting the wall at 40 mph.

Imagine a 55 mph speed limit for cars, but 40 mph for trucks or SUVs.  

Only wimps want speed limits! For only $3,000 you can buy (in good condition) exactly the same kind of motorcycle that Tom Cruise rode in "Top Gun." Recently, a few miles from where I live a motorcyclist was ticketed for going 225 miles per hour (clocked by radar). I love it up here! We believe in Freedom and the American Way, and those pinko commies green tree huggers that want us to slow down . . . . ;-)

Seriously, you cosmopolitans would be amazed at perceptions and beliefs up in Bush country. My house is the ONLY one that did not have a Bush sign on it on my road. There are about 10,000 people who live within the city limits of my town. I saw exactly 2 Kerry signs and many hundreds of Bush/Cheney signs, possibly more than a thousand. All my neighbors are nice people, but perhaps you can see why for my well being and getting along with them it is best that the identity and location of Don Sailorman be left a bit foggy.

This is just food for thought: consider for a moment the possibility that in the grand scheme it was a mistake to ever have driven a gasoline consuming vehicle for personal transport.  That given the finite nature of petroleum, the impacts on the climate, and the fact that those of us who have lived in the late 19th, 20th and 21st centuries represent just a tiny fraction of all the humans who might live on this earth from beginning to end, burning any of this resource for convenience meant destroying the ecosystem and depriving future generations of a raw material from which they might have produced something  sustainable that we can't even imagine.  Then consider how silly are our debates over speed limits and fuel efficiencies.  We're burning it all up, 'cause we can, and we feel entitled.  I'm just not sure it's been the right thing to do, the 1250cc MG I had years ago or my present Prius notwithstanding.
I agree with you in general, but this is the society we have built.  Perhaps it would be better if we hadn't, but there it is.  I could say that it's wrong to commute to my job in a car, and stop doing it.  There is no other way to get there (25-30mi), so I would lose my job, and therefore my home, and abdicate my responsibility to my family.  

Now given time, I hope to arrange another situation (which will surely involve both sacrifices and benefits), and I'm working on that all the time.  But it won't happen overnight.  You simply cannot change a society and its infrastructure instantly.

Coulda shoulda woulda - how is this helpful?

As I said, just putting the thought out there.  I'm obviously entwined in the society we've built just as you are.  And I've not yet been able to eliminate the need to drive.  I just can't help but occasionally ponder the really big picture and wonder about the really long term impacts of what we're doing.  (As we're all here well aware, some impacts are beginning to make themselves evident already.)  It's just in my nature to consider the long-term implications of our collective actions.  I've had some interesting discussions with friends regarding the irony of my doing so when I don't have kids.  But as you point out, when one does have kids, it makes you actually have to consider a shorter time horizon - the more immediate need of supporting them, vs. the impact of what we're doing on the planet they may live on in their "golden years" or their kids may (try to) live on, etc...
Actually, it's a compact and the last highway trip at 55 mph I got 38 mpg.  This is my first automatic in almost 50 years of driving compacts and subcompacts.  The mpg differential from the same car with a manual transmission is 2 mpg.  The implied analogy to Explorers is far-fetched.  And why would there be a conflict between a speed limit and a gas tax or fuel ration?  

Someone suggested up or down thread - after 300 comments I find it hard to keep track - that the reduced speed limit in the 70s had no effect on speeds.  On the contrary, people then as now drove about 10 mph above the speed limit, and the reduction in fatalities is so well documented that I won't bother to find a source.  

I was being mostly facetious about your Saturn being a large car (although it would be in most of Europe), and it really does not matter how big the car or engine is, it's only important what kind of mileage it gets.  I was not equating your car to an Explorer, rather saying that a speed limit affects all vehicles equally, both Explorers and compacts.  Given that the effect of an additional 10mph on the Explorer is much more significant than it is on a small car, I don't think this makes sense.  I'd rather it be based on how much fuel is actually being used.  A fixed lower speed limit would actually reduce the incentive to change vehicles.
I have to say that you are mostly wrong about the UK system. Parliament does not choose the Prime Minister of the UK. Each party chooses its leader, the people vote for the party, and then the Queen (God bless you ma'am..) invites the largest party's leader to form the government. After the incorporation into UK law of the European Convention on Human Rights, there is a much greater distance between Parliament and the judiciary: the judiciary can strike down secondary legislation and must interpret primary legislation in light of the 1998 Human Rights Act. There should also be mentioned the influence of EU law especially the European Commission which continually pours forth directives which national governments are supposed to implement but in light of national objectives. In Scotland, our devolved government can have its legislation struck down if it is judged by the judiciary to be not in conformity with the 1998 Human Rights Act. Lastly judicial review is being used much much more these days and is another judicial brake on governmental decision-making. It is considered by most constitutionalists that the UK does have effective separation of powers but with many anomalies. The UK is moving much more to a presidential system within a parliamentary framework, which statement I will leave unexplained as I've written way too much about something no-one will be interested in! This was mainly about clarification you understand.
I think "mostly wrong" isn't a fair characteris(z)ation at all Phil.  The discussion of Britain's system was for contrast to the US system, so I didn't flesh it out as well as I should have perhaps...but this was a post about the US.  No offense intended to the UK, the Queen, or anyone else either.  I stand by the basics, as they are correct on many facets of my discussion of the British system.

Specifically to your points:  

  1.  Yes, but in essence, the party in power's leader becomes prime minister...

  2.  I didn't speak about the tie between parliament and the judiciary at all in the British system in the post.  Phil is right about the British judiciary becoming more important in policy outcomes/judicial review...a fair point, as well as that the judiciary is becoming an important check.  In many other parliamentary systems around the world, this is not the case.
Contrary to what is taught in our schools (majority rules) the reality is minority rules. The 2 most obvious cases are the Electoral College and the Senate filibuster. The Electoral College gives disproportionate power to residents of small states in selecting a president. The 2000 election is an example of the winner recieveing fewer votes than the loser. The filibuster gives any group of 41 Senators more power than the other 59. It is the main reason we do not have universal health care but have ridiculous numbers of guns in criminal hands. The most insidious type of minority rule is those secret negotiations between the House and Senate to produce a compromise between seperate versions of legislation. It's where all those pork barrel projects and special tax deductions are squeezed in.  It provides a way for Congressmen and senators to vote both ways on an issue. They could vote against a pork barrel amendment but claim they were forced to later vote for the rider on say the defense bill.
Democracy in America is an illusion.
After the 2000 election, I think everyone knows it's not "majority rules" in the U.S.  

That said, the electoral college has some advantages.  Specifically, it prevents "the tyranny of the majority." In the U.S., a minority that cares strongly about something can override a majority that doesn't.   Which is probably how is should be.  In any case, we probably have a better chance of making peak oil a serious political issue under the electoral college than we would in a straight vote.

As others have suggested, I think this is a good thing actually. Yes, it contributes to inertia, but it also means that there has to be more of a consensus about an issue when we take action; not that consensus is always right, but it's a good guide.

In fact, I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. It's my view that what we're seeing today are some of the most obvious defects of democracy, and the only way to cure them is to go further - to abandon the divisiveness of political parties and reach for consensus on all important issues. Without political parties to galvanize passions and shape world-views, wouldn't it be clearer what exactly reality and truth were telling us about the world? Yes, about limits on oil for one thing. And on global warming, where the scientific consensus is very strong. Far too many people feel some sort of loyalty to their party and somehow think that, because they're a good Republican they have to question the facts of evolution or the harmfulness of second-hand smoke, or conversely a good Democrat and have to favor sex, drugs and rock and roll...

Where there's no clear consensus obvious from the facts of the matter, we leave it, we agree to disagree, or we agree to designate some process to arbitrate if decisions are needed on the matter now. Where there is clear consensus, with less than, say, 5 or 10%  of people objecting, we move ahead on the matter.

In a sense, all systems of government have to operate with a sense of consensus at the base: our implicit consent in the US is the process enshrined in our constitution, which includes procedures for its own modification that themselves require a supermajority in agreement. But it seems to me that with modern information technology there should be a way to establish consensus on more detailed issues as well. We do use the consensus approach in jury trials, where you usually need unanimous agreement on decisions from all twelve jurors. Why not extend the idea more broadly?

But I don't know of any detailed proposal for such a system of government at this point...

bingo.  that's my next post that I am putting together on polarization and the causes and evidence of it.
We look forward to it.
Well, half of us do. The rest are strongly opposed. :-)
I'm not sure that any democratic government, of whatever form, is going to be able to bear the burden of post-peak oil, which is essentially the job of dividing up needed sacrifices.  Democracies have done very well at dividing up the benefits of growth.  Their period of success has been the period when nations were permanently growing, much of it on the back of fossil fuels.  But we are coming to an age of permanent non-growth.  Are there any historical examples of a democracy managing longterm through that?  When?  What would the parties be vying for?  What would individuals be voting for in their personal interest when the whole system was shrinking?  It is easy for a classroom of five year olds to vote to divide up who gets the cookies when there are always more and more cookies, but when there are always less and less - imagine what happens.    
I do not think it will be that hard for a  democracy to administer a post peak oil rebuilding if the reason for the hardship is external, easy to understand and there is some poor souls who mismanage their country giving an example of what happens if we do not work hard together in our country.
..there are some poor souls..... sigh
Ummmm... Japan???
WaPo has an article about Japan and energy today:


To save on energy, local officials shut off the heating system in the town hall, leaving themselves and 100 workers no respite from near-freezing temperatures. On a recent frosty morning, rows of desks were brimming with employees bundled in coats and wool blankets while nursing thermoses of hot tea. To cut back on gasoline use, officials say, most of the town's 13,000 citizens are strictly obeying a nationwide call to turn off car engines while idling, particularly when stopped at traffic lights.

Can you imagine Americans turning off their cars at red lights?  

A "mild hyrbid" retrofit?  I wonder how many cars are "fly by wire" enough that it's just a software change ...
Now, my Prius does this for me.  But before, I did, at least at long ones.  But then I'm a whacko, lefty, eco-nutjob.
Japan - yes.  But I wonder if it is democracy coming to the fore there - or the far longer tradition of absolutely putting nation (~emperor) before self and submitting to divine-right bureaucracy.  The coming crisis will not be a brief rebuilding of energy infrastructure before continuing growth "as usual" (usual only for the past five centuries) but a political adjustment to the permanent end of growth - examples for the long stable political management of which send you looking to imperial Japan and China - and (in the west) dynastic Egypt.  
Berkeley, I spend much of my time trying to imagine what happens when Leviathan stops growing. My best guess is that it will start to eat itself. I pray for more like you.
THere is too much blame thrown at US politicians thinking about the next election. What this means is the politician continuously polls his constituency to find out what they want to hear, and then he says it. We almost always get exactly what we demand, no more and no less.
Roosevelt did what he could to prepare the US for the repeat of the Great War he saw coming, but even he, with all his power, could not tell the public we would go to war. That had to wait until we were attacked, and the Japanese conveniently obliged.
Gore's great mistake was to tell the public his plans regarding energy before being elected. These things take a certain amount of stealth. Bush was much smarter, never mentioning his Iraqi intentions until after being sworn in...
The size of the House has not significantly changed since 1912. 435 representatives cannot adequately represent close to 300,000,000 people. The population to legislator ratio in the US is one of the highest in the world.

The size of the House was adjusted after every Decennial census through 1910. Since then, it has been static. This has lead to entrenched Representatives and egregious gerrymandering.

Two things should be done:  (1) The size of the House should be, at least, tripled. (2) House districts should be required to be as geographically compact as is consistent with one person/one vote. (Here in Iowa, House districts cannot cross county lines.) Perhaps we should move to House members being elected at-large rather than in districts or some combination of district/at-large representation, e.g., large compact districts electing 5 or 7 Representatives at-large.

sad part is...you know why?  because they can't expand the Capitol building...
"can't" should be in quotes, btw.
The "too big to manage" argument was raised in the 1910 size change by the Senate minority report.  It's nonsense, of course.  The real reason is that Representatives will never vote to dilute their power.
Although they haven't acknowledged it openly, I'd say the US government has reacted to peak oil.  Just not in any clear way that the more idealistic of us might like to see.

Energy depletion is our world's receding hairline.  Instead of aging gracefully, Uncle Sam has left the comb-over stage and is now trying to fashion a convincing toupee by plucking what it can from other countries.  A  strong wind dislodged that hairpiece last summer, so maybe they'll opt for nuclear implants or graft something from ANWR.

LOL!  I never thought of it quite that way before.
Why no action on peak oil?   Simple: Americans don't have a clue that it's happening.  The essence of PO is oil field depletion and even the "experts" disagree when that leads to a peak.  CERA thinks not until 2023 and they have a lot of street cred in DC (because they front for big oil).

I recently ask a college class, "What is peak oil?" and "Has the US oil production peaked yet?"  Answers: a unanamous "don't know" on the 1st one, and a majority "not yet" on the second one.

So, folks, the degree of ignorance about the real problem is ENORMOUS.  So naturally our elected reps. don't do anything.   I'd bet if you asked all of them the same questions as above, many would get it wrong or not know.  

Everyone knows there's a problem with the price of oil, but nearly everyone thinks it's because of temporary problems of weather or middle east politics.   The actual concept of PO will probably not be well understood in this country until it is very clearly in the rear view mirror.

Well, I take a far darker view of what kind of system we have here in the US than Prof G. We've had two rigged elections in a row, a gov't (circles within it) staged provocation on 9-11 to provide a pretext for the so-called war on terrorism, you have two wars going-on with a third in prep. The Anthrax attack and the Wellstone "accident" were clear messages to independent spirits in the media and congress. The Patriot Act and the endless series of horrors since then tell us we have moved into a new era.

Katrina alone would have been sufficient to take any other gov't down if we had anything approaching a democracy. Nixon? Clinton? What were they impeached for? These guys are cemented into office. They have dumped zillions into the pockets of the top 1/100... of the population. And finally, the Pentagon has plans stretching far into the future, more war, the long war they now call it. How can they make plans like that if we are operating on a 4 year election cycle?

All in all, a very wide gap has arisen between what we have on paper and what we have in reality here in the US. There is at least one credentialled peak oiler who sees some of these things pretty clearly -- Colin Campbell. Look for the chapter on 9-11 in his OIL CRISIS.

Underlying all this, aside from the Pentagon, is an ever greater concentration of capital and corporate power. Show me a bill written recently that was not written by or to the specs of one or another corporate interest. The Senate and Congress have been almost totally corrupted by these interests.

There is undoubtely butting of heads at the top of the heap, but it has precious little to do with democracy. I don't deny that democracy still lives at the lower and local levels--I experience it and see it.

To the particular point, facing up to what is required to deal with peak rationally is profoundly inimical to the controlling interests. It might seem obvious to us that militarily subjugating the rest of the world is not a long term solution and therefore it is obvious to the guys in charge. But it was obvious that Hitler could not ultimately succeed either---but that didn't stop him from trying.

An extreme view of things, yes. And perhaps TOD is not the right place to argue it, because the topic that TOD does pursue, and pursues well, is immensely important no matter where one falls in the political spectrum.

End of tirade.


Please indicate your selection for representation on the touch-screen provided.

-ERROR- the selection 'DEMOCRAT' does not compute.

-ERROR- the selection 'GREEN' does not compute.

-ERROR- the selection 'ALTERNATIVE' does not compute.

-WARNING- the selection 'DEMOCRACY' has produced a fatal error.  

Please report to the Department of Homeland Security for processing.

[running for office ten years hence]
"Ach, du lieber! Yo soy Adolph Hitler reincarnated from my temporary indisposition, and America can be saved! But first we must seek out and destroy our TRUE ENEMIES, the belly worms that drain our strength, the unAmericans, the venom in our blood the [   . . . got in trouble for listing obvious candidates a couple of weeks ago so fill in your own canditates . . .] and once we have our strength back we achieve our Manifest Destiny. The Manifest Destiny party sees annexation of Canada and Mexico for their useful fuels as obvious and of benefit to all! Prosperity is at hand! And with the burning of the Reichstag, excuse me, the Capitol, we see how those Democrats and Republicans plot against the true American, the patriot."

Hail to the Leader!
Hail to the Leader!
Hail to Victory!

I tried to say the same thing earlier in this post. Amen.
Well said.
Something that I don't understand is that many accuse W of having a C- intellect, and at the same time having the ability to execute 9-11 with out a flaw in a mere seven months. He may well have a C- intellect, however there are far too many carnivores in DC to succeed at any such an undertaking. Of course it is just as possible that he may be an idiot savant and only excels at conspiracies.
I know of no one who accuses Bush of having planned 9-11 or anything else that has happened on his watch.

In the case of 9-11, there can be no question of a conspiracy. The only question is: whose? 19 guys with boxcutters organized by a guy in a cave, all willing to commit suicide -- for what reason exactly? -- who are not worried about infiltration, who have no trouble getting into the country, no trouble getting trained at our air schools, no trouble getting into the airports, no trouble hijacking the planes with only boxcutters, no trouble taking control of the planes, no trouble flying two of them from Boston to NY without assistance from the aircontrollers, no trouble hitting their targets, no trouble hitting the Pentagon AFTER the twin towers are hit. Not only is the Pentagon undefended, it is unsurveilled! Ask to see the photographs of the plane going into it!

Now of course the other conspiracy theory says that guys who planned on making war actually did something that gave them a pretext to do so -- 9-11 has been the excuse for everything. What a silly theory! They would never think of that, would they? Nope, they'd just sit around waiting for good luck.

Believe me, this is but the teeniest, teeniest fraction of what could be said. The physics of the collapse is totally, totally impossible other than thru demolition. Indeed, if anyone needs a million dollars, prove otherwise. That's what Jimmy Walters is offering to anyone who can do so.

David Ray Griffin, a theologian, does the best job of making the case in his books and lectures.

BTW, there are a lot of 9-11 truthers, who think peak oil is a conspiracy of the oil companies and gov't. I tell them the same thing -- you have to look at the facts and the whole picture. Lay aside what you want to believe.

Well thanks for putting this forward, I'll be looking into it , 9/11 and other assumptions. I guess peak oil has disillusioned me sufficiently to not look to the nightly news. Having neighbors that recently adamantly said we didn't go to the moon...?  I will say; conspiracies require tremendous cooperation and coordination, not probable in groups of any size.  Additionally denial is so powerful that we distort reality to fit our needs.   The seemingly endless stream of suicide bombers , about as  efficient a weapon system  imaginable , argues that  at least  part of your argument is  flawed.     BTW, I remembered accurately his name from 30 yrs. ago, David Lee Griffin. He was then a Process Theologian- from the philosdophy of Alfred North Whitehead- one of the few theologies compatable with science.  
David Ray Griffin. Still, might be the same guy. I only know him around the 9-11 stuff.
same guy, I  found a recommend from John Cobb another theologian; who I got to hear & read/studied  all his books, then. So , not kooks.  
Pute nonsense !

One point of several.

Heat steel and it's tensile strength goes down dramatically. Twin Towers had some structural damage to some of the steel, mechanical damage to the insulation sprayed on the steel (which only slows down the process of heating & weakening) and a raging, contained fire fueled by tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel.  Think blast furnance.

Wheres my million dollars ?

That reward has as much credability as the rest.

Oh, and Osama was not in a cave pre9-11.  He was a semi sovereigb state within a sovereign state.  His son married the daughter of the Head of State to seal his exalted position within Afghani society.

and a raging, contained fire fueled by tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel.  Think blast furnance.

One of the greatest problems our Democracy faces is insufficient knowledge among those who carry on Democracy's debates.

(Forgive them father, for they know not about the Freak Peak Oil thing.)

I come not to fault AlanFromBigE cause I'm no more knowledgeable or smarter than he. However, ---(do you sense a eulogy of Brutus by Mark Anthony coming on?)-- it appears that Alan has not been informed about WTC7 and the controversy surrounding why that building went down. We may never know. I for one, am on the 50-50 fence. Maybe it went down due to planted demolition, maybe it went down due to ground vibrations (the local earthquake that was created by the bigger towers collapsing). At this point I have insufficient information to even intelligently debate the issue.

However, as to the existence of organized groups who come up with clever schemes for altering the course of our mentality manipulated herds, have you not heard of the think tanks?

Who are these people? What do they do all day? Who pays them and why? I hope all their mixed messages got through enough to make your head to spin and go off balance. This is no time to be sure footed about anything.

That's where I come out - I don't know what happened, but I don't find what I've been told to be plausible - any more than the "single bullet theory".  Perhaps it was not fully planned out - maybe it was just a stroke of wonderful good luck that the neocons got exactly the kind of "Pearl Harbor" event they had hoped for.  For me there are too many questions in the official explanations, and I see no honest attempt to examine what happened.  Information abhors a vacuum, and therefore it shall be filled - with whatever.  
There are two groups that came out solidly on top from this whole 9/11-Iraq-was-it-a-conspiracy thing: Halliburton and the Saudi royal family. Me? No. I'm not suspicious. It all "just" happened, just like sh*t on a golden parachute happens.
WTC 7 was discussed here before.  I don't remember the specifics, but someone claimed that it fell at the acceleration of gravity thus indicating demolition.  Based on their numbers it actually fell quite a bit slower than gravity.  WTC 7 also was built on large transfer beams over previous utility facilities.  Failure of those beams would have doomed the superstructure.

It wouldn't surprise me if the neocons orchestrated 9-11 and told W to sit in a classroom until it was over, but the WTC 7 thing isn't very convincing.  The Pentagon stuff is a lot harder to ignore.

How about a little 'Spin of the Day'?
Center for Media and Democracy

By the authors of amongst other books:

Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry

Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq

Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future

Wheres my million dollars ?

And your 'theory' explains the collapse of WTC7 exactly how?

The collapse of WTC & had exactly zero political impact, 98% or 99% of Americnas do not even know that it collapsed.  Therefore there is no reason for a "conspiracy" to knock it done.  A true "non-issue" except for structural engineers.

The question was "about collapse: which brings to mind WTC 1 & 2 fro well over 99% of the public.  My facts (and I stated verifable, scientific facts), explain the collapse of WTC ! & @.  I neither know or care and will not waste time considering the fate of an auxilary building in the complex.  Better things to do with my time.  Wish I had not wasted time responding as I hit "post".

Errr, so do you have a point?    Because the 1st time you talked about jet fuel beinging down buildings.

When asked to explain how jet fuel brings down WTC7, you state "you will not waste your time".  

Why not just come out and say "I got nothing" if you have to respond.

Because really, you have got nothing.  Other than hand waving.  And showing that you are part of the 99%.

My first post was about the WTC that mattered, the "Twin Towers".  The 767s crashing into these two buildings had a profound impact on US public opinion and policy.

The interaction of jet fuel and the weakening of the structural steel certianly was a critical factor in their collapse.  I looked at the forensic engineering when it came  out and was quite convinced.

I simply do not care, and neither does anyone else, why WTC 7 collapsed because it makes no difference why it collapsed except to structural engineers.  I am sure that there is a good structural reason for this meaningless building collapse.  It was certainly not a conspriacy since no one knows aor cares except speciality engineers.  Not a topic worthy of time or consideration.

Niether do I particularly care about the particulars of the damage to the PATH station (which did impact the NYC economy).

BTW, Why did the Coliseum Theater fire do so much damage ?

That question is more imprtant to me than WTC 7.

My first post was about the WTC that mattered,

WTC 7 matters to the insurance company, to the people who had pending investigations or business with:
Salomon Smith Barney    
Provident Financial Management,
American Express Bank International,
U.S. Secret Service,
Standard Chartered Bank,
Securities & Exchange Commission,
United States Equal Opportunity Commission,
NAIC Securities,
ITT Hartford Insurance Group,
First State Management Group, Inc,
Federal Home Loan Bank,
Internal Revenue Service Regional Council (for how could they be proven innocent with the evidence destroyed)

The people who have to reconstruct whatever records that were destroyed must care bout the extra work.   People who had pending trades must care.

I am sure that there is a good structural reason for this meaningless building collapse.

And yet you can't be bothered to ponder WHY.   Huh.  

It was certainly not a conspriacy

Yea, the events of Sept 11th 2001 were NOT a conspiracy.  In fact, the 19 hijackers were NOT involved in a conspiracy - they were just a group of guys who never met before, all showed up on planes with box cutters, and just all had a hankering to take over a plane, then due to poor piolting, flew 'em into buildings or corn fields.

since no one knows aor cares except speciality engineers.  Not a topic worthy of time or consideration.

Oh, wait.   Its not a conspiracy because "no one knows aor cares"?

The 10 of 19 hijackers (with high probability) did not know about WTC 7 except in the sense that they wanted to fly high enough to avoid the lower buildings and hit their targets, WTC 1 & 2.

Their targets were WTC 1 % 2, the two that mattered.  WTC 7 was just happenstance collateral damage (an extra blessing from Allah).

And there was no conspiracy on the ground, thinking that "Damn, if we don't knock down WTC 7 we will NEVER get the Patriot Act passed !  The Twin Towers and the Pentagon are just NOT enough to stir public opinion unfortunately :-("

In fact, the 19 hijackers were NOT involved in a "conspiracy" - they were just a [random] group of guys who never met before, all showed up on [certain] planes with box cutters, and just all had a hankering to take over a plane, then due to poor piloting, [randomly] flew 'em into [important] buildings or corn fields.

eric blair,

No need to get emotional. I think you scored big time just with the above example of the 19 accidental tourists. Of course there was a conspiracy. We are only arguing about how big and wide spread it was.

Nonetheless, we are flying somewhat off topic from the Peak Oil center of this blog (TOD).

An interesting "conspiracy theory" question on the Peak Oil front is whether Daniel Yergin of CERA, John Tierny of New York Times  and/or other such "cornucopians" get paid and prodded by some conspiratorial power group to keep the sheeple convinved that there is no oil problem?

What say you?


Your outlandish accusations cannot be allowed to pass unnoted. Were you in the US in 2001? Do you remember what was going on? Everyone was getting "rich" from the tech boom. The Cold War was over. Indeed, "history" was over. We were in a "new economy". Some people knew we were in danger, but most people didn't want to hear it, including people with responsible positions in the FBI.

Conspiracy theorists suffer from a lack of understanding or a willingness to accept that sometimes, single individuals or small groups can destroy things much larger than themselves. These theorists have such fear and awe of the "powers that be" that they can't accept that their phantom omniscients can be destroyed by mere flesh-and-blood individuals, and so they fabricate elaborate stories to compensate.

So, an airplane didn't hit the Pentagon, eh? And your proof is what, that there isn't a picture of it happening at that very instant (only the explosion, not the plane, traveling and hundreds of miles an hour?). Excuse me, but reality takes place outside of the television set, and not every event in the world gets captured on a camera the moment it happens. Are you saying that all of the passengers killed on the plane that hit the Pentagon didn't exist? That there is no record that those people ever lived in the first place? Are you insane?

I have worked in large bureaucratic organizations, and I can tell you that they are no stronger than the people who run them. To try to accuse people in our government of enabling the 9/11 attacks is outrageous. Why can't you just accept that Osama Bin Laden caught us with our pants down, and killed several friends of mine as a result?

To perpetuate this ridiculous conspiracy theory is absurd and insulting to the memory of the dead.

Sorry to burst your bubble George...

A 757 did not hit the Pentagon.

http://www.apfn.org/apfn/flight77.htm is but one website out of 100's of thousands that host the pictures to prove it.

Furthermore, impact WAS captured on film by Virgina's Dept. of Transportation but you won't ever see the tapes.

THAT my friend, is the ultimate insult to the dead.

Thankfully though, America's Youth are calling BULLS**T!

I suggest you google the movie 'Loose Change'.

Just be prepared to step off into the deep end of the pool with the rest of us when you're done.

And here is a piece detailing that a 757 did indeed hit the Pentagon:  Link

While I'm inlined to belive there are many holes in the official story about what happened, and I would like them answered, I do think a 757 hit.  There are more than enough other questions though.

Thanks Twilight - I hope others follow your link as well.
I agree that seems pretty conclusive that a plane, most likely a 757, did hit the Pentagon on 9/11. It's certainly better evidence than anything I could find online when I last looked in late summer 2002. At that time the case against looked as believable as the case for. Odd, however, that such conclusive evidence wasn't available online for so long, and I did checkout ATS as part of my 2002 trawl.
I was about 85% convinced that an aircraft did not hit the Pentagon when I found that analysis.  It changed my mind, so that I at least belive a 757 was involved.  
Total nonsense Twilight.

I challenge you to watch Loose Change (hosted by Google; look for the 2nd edition) and then go back to the link you provide.

In fact, I challenge ANYONE to watch this movie - a documentary created and produced by American CHILDREN who have NOTHING TO GAIN and EVERYTHING TO LOSE.

I will try to find time - but in the mean time, how do you explain the aircraft parts & other evidence in the link I provided?  Do you believe that it's all faked?
Oh it was a plane... just not a 757 ;)

Loose Change does a very good job of explaining this.

What happened to the real plane?
I've found a live link to "Loose Change" as 2 x 48 MB wmv files on page 2 of this forum:

Not watched it yet. Also found this page which comments on some of the photos:

I have to admit that I looked into the 9/11 events fairly seriously soon after and then about a year after it happened. I found theories that raised questions but could just about accept the official view with reservations, with one exception: I have seen no convincing evidence that an airliner hit the Pentagon. All the evidence I have seen suggests otherwise, if you think you have believable and probably reliable data supporting the 'airliner hit the Pentagon' theory I would like to see it.

For now I would say that I don't know where ultimate responsibilities on this lie. I can't honestly find it within me to believe that (part of) the US administration could be seriously complicit, in some ways I am a naive soul and find the evil that implies incomprehensible and violently sickening. But I am troubled that 9/11 is not as officially portrayed. Ultimately I don't think it really matters, I have a 'hunch' that this US regime has equally nasty skeletons ready to rattle. The last US regime I felt this way about was Nixon's, it's probably just a question of whether they become known before or after this term.

Just scrolling through this late after a long day at work, so forgive me if in fact this is mentioned further down...I find it surprising that no one, especially with the Abramoff Affair brewing, has mentioned the role of the PACs in government here.  I can remember reading a book in the 70's by Hedrick Smith(?) about the power they had and being flabbergasted.  I'm sure it's exponentially worse now.
that's coming in the linkages post I mention...but feel free to start a thread here.
This is in reply to several comments on 9-11 issue.

WTC7. Here we know what happened -- if your believe the leaseholder, Larry Silverstein. Google "larry silverstein", "wtc 7", "pulled it", and find the piece from the PBS documentary where he says he and the fire dept decided to "pull it" to prevent further loss of life. Do a little research on this.

Steel. There are (was) 200,000 tons of structural steel in the WTC. The amount of jet fuel was on the order of  several hundred thousand gallons. So you're talking a few gallons per ton. Steel is a very good conductor of heat. The girders were all interconnected. All three towers came straight down into their own footprint. This is what demolition experts try to achieve. None toppled this way or that -- all gave way at the same time.

Also, look at the photos again. Notice the matchsticks flying out and dropping some distance from the building. These are huge steel girders. What force ejected them away from the buildings? Notice also that they are falling at the same rate as the buildings--free fall.

Calculate the time free fall would take. (9.2 seconds.) The 9-11 Commission report says it took ten seconds. They weaken their own case -- it took 14 seconds. The steel frame structure delayed free fall by less than 5 seconds? Now picture a string of 110 bowling balls, one per floor, hung vertically in empty space by an invisible wire where the WTC was. No ball is free to move until it is hit by the one above. Let the top one drop, crashing into the one below and so on. This is an abstract model of the pancake theory. You'll get sqrt(2) * 9.2 secs, i.e. 13 seconds for the collapse. If the girders only delay things by 1 second, don't visit NYC.

Doesn't the "pull it" scenario, with which I'm familiar, require that WTC7 was pre-mined with explosives?
Methinks he is suggesting all WTC towers may have been brought down thus. What I know doesn't rule that out, the 'official story' is plausible but barely so.
Yes, but it requires days, if not weeks, to prepare a building for demolition. That's why the gov't doesn't at all accept the Silverstein confession. He has in the meantime tried to alter its meaning by saying he was referring to pulling the firemen out of the building. Look at the footage and see if you believe that's what he was saying.

Why? Why did he say such a thing in the first place? I think it was a bargaining ploy, a shot acoss the bow, negotiating with the gov't over insurance money. The big boys play rough, very rough.

All the steel doesn't have to be melted( red hot would do), only failure near the fire, then the mass ,with gravity and velocity destroying the floors beneath. Steel beams kicking out makes sense in this scenario. How far are they flying out from the building.      Re the time intuitively I wouldn't expect the girder to slow anything once a certain mass was reached; probably the starting mass with  the floors above.   Some of my thoughts.        I will say re the theologiasns , especially John Cobb, who recommends Griffin's book; the Process Theologians were the light at the end of the tunnel at the time in evangelical/ protestant circles if you believed in science.   Thanks again for raising all this; as you say ( i think it was you) the deep end of the pool.
If you look at what our government is today with open eyes, I maintain you'll see something quite different than what we understood it to be throughout most of our lives.  I'm under no misty-eyed illusions about the things the US has done in the past, but I believe there are some fundamental structural changes going on now.  Part of that is that the separation of powers is being rapidly torn down.  While on the surface this might make it more able to react quickly, in practice I expect the political turmoil (combined with economic problems) will result in paralysis, except for the military.  It's like a cancer that remains hidden until revealed by secondary symptoms - but I expect that we'll be so distracted dealing with the symptoms, that we will not be able to deal with the cause.  

We can discuss the technical issues and possible solutions all we want (and we should continue to do that), but there can be no effective response unless it is on a very large scale.  And that will not happen.  Yes, people will find ways of using less oil as prices rise, but I believe it will be too little too late.  And the government will focus on the military solution, which ultimately does not exist.

Sorry, pessimistic lately.

I tend to share your pessimism. This is no longer the government I grew up in.
We are definitely moving  toward a much less participatory democracy. It's almost as if  Peak Oil awareness  is operating subliminally; wherein resource constraints are manifesting themselves as "all are equal, but some more equal than others."
Even the great Classical democracies of  Greece & Rome had few true citizens. Regretfully, I belive that is where we're heading  
Excuse me, Skylar, but what government did you grow up in?
The lying bastards who got us into the Vietnam War? That government?
The totally ineffectual Carter administration?
The arrogant stupidity of the JFK administration that nearly got us into World War Three through huge blunders?
The crook Nixon's Watergate-total-corruption-in-fundraising administration?

I do not mean to defend the indefensible, i.e. the current administration. But surely you cannot be defending the FDR administration that went along with denying votes to Blacks so as to keep the Solid South with the Democrats. Or can you?

The problems we face are deep and structural. We should not be distracted by personalities. Who cares if Cheney was loaded when he shot the old Republican lawyer? Who cares if Bush or Kerry got lower grades at Yale? (Surprise, surprise, Kerry got lower grades. So what?)

I do not have the answers. Currently I'm working toward a clearer definition of Peak Oil, the Big Hairy Problem. There are many intractable sub-problems.

Just as the problem of slavery could not be solved without the Civil War, I very much fear that social conflict of that magnitude is about a 50:50 chance at this point.

TEOTWAWKI is not just a song, not just a metaphor.

The problem for the Republican wannabee caudillos is that they are losing support among people with guns. All people with guns. In 2000 they might have been able to win a civil war, or at least prevail because who wins a civil war? But not now. Way too many unhappy people. It's hard to blame the liberals when the conservatives control all the levers of power.
There are people out there right now who would love to take over and start shooting liberals. But there aren't enough of them and they can't get the other conservatives to go along and fight for them, so it's over.
We'll have the liberals take over and clean things up. Which is why I'm moving to Australia. If I have to live in a socialist country, I'd rather live there.
Everybody I know in my town owns several guns, and that includes the women. Yesteday went a couple of blocks up the road to buy some ammo and while waiting to be served grumbled something about Cheney having an I.Q. lower than Forest Gump's. (At least Gump knew how to handle a gun and not shoot at friends.) Holy Shishkebobs! You should have seen how all those old geezers with guns jumped all over me: Oh no, it was the lawyers fault for stepping in front of the gun . . . and so on. Unbelievable. So I made a few wisecracks about the wisdom of shooting Republican lawyers, paid and left. The gun-toting masses love Bush and Cheney.

Almost all of rural heartland America is pro-Bush and most of them have big dogs, arsenals of firearms, and big pickup trucks with bumper stickers that say (with some variations), "Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my gun." Which, of course, is true.

And how many of them want to overthrow the government so they can shoot liberals?
If Bush, Jr, announces that there aren't going to be any more elections, how many of those proBush people are going to be willing to get out of their houses, drive to a metrocoastal area, and carry a gun down to a barricade? Lots. But not enough. He wants to be dictator of how much of America?
Hell, if Bush wants to partition the country between the flyover and the metrocoastal areas, the Democrats would get down on their knees and thank God. He could probably win a referendum on that program. An honest referendum.
Say, Libertarians in the NW, Hispanics in the SW, Blacks in the SE, Liberals in the NE, and Conservative Christian Caucasians in the center.
He's got my vote.
I was not referring to the actions of the Executive branch.
My lament is along the lines of Twilight; that is to say the changing structure of government and the seemingly inexorable dismantling of the separation of powers to which, I would include the fourth estate.
To me, it appears that every other branch of gov't  as well as the Press is willingly abrogating its powers to the Executive.
And again, along the line of Twilights comments, I suspect that there is at least a subliminal recognition of  the powers that be,  that PO and all its contingent difficulties will require a less participatory democracy.  
As to your 50:50 chance of a civil war :
 Lincoln suspended  Habeas Corpus during the Civil War. The current administration with the compliance of the other branches of gov't is on its way of doing the same, if it has not already done so.  
Don, we've been and done some nasty, stupid things in the past, no doubt.  But the Unitary Executive dancing on a corporate string (i.e. fascism) is something new.  And on an aggressive military bender too - the "Long War".  I'm guessing you've got more experience in life than I do, and perhaps you don't see this as something new.  If you can illustrate a period in our history that is analogous, go right ahead.  

I can find major flaws in just about every previous administration, but nothing comes close to this one.  The pace of degradation is truly breathtaking.

     I just forwarded the "Daily Reckoning" posts of Feb 1 & 2 to my daughter dealing with the topic "The Power of the President".  The key factor here is EXECUTIVE ORDERS. IMO, these rank as some fairly impressive violations of (at least) the spirit of the Constitution. You may be able to get the trains to run on time, though (see Mussolini).
I agree - they are using every tool possible to subvert the system.  And "signing statements"?  Please!
I'm not sure that the inability of US politicians to get something serious going regarding the impending energy crunch has all that much to do with the actual structure of our system of government. I for one think we'd have much the same problem if we had a parlimentary system, or some other system.

I'm convinced that the problem stems from the fact that elections and congressional representation have very little to do with the way real power is exercised in the US, circa 2006. So much of corporate, financial, and personal power in this country flows through back channels and totally bypasses the electorate. This process can be easily summed up in one word: corruption.

Members of Congress in the US actually have two sets of constituents: i) the masses whose votes they need, and ii) the powerful interests that are instrumental in putting and keeping them in office. The two often have conflicting interests. Unfortunately, the latter is getting more important, while the former more and more irrelevant.

The current Bush regime actually has a very clear, though unstated, energy policy: militarily dominate the Middle East and other oil-rich areas so as to gain direct or indirect control over future oil production and distribution.  Funding is no obstacle for this energy policy, as evidenced by the approximately $300 million spent on our invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the fact that the meter is still spinning.

 The only problem, though, is that this energy policy has so far been a complete failure.  That inconvenient little fact will not deter these people, so we can expect more war in the Middle East without getting any additional oil for the effort. This is the very essence of folly.

How can anyone possibly think that there will be a  major restructuring of our energy infrastructure as long as we are spending something like $1.5 billion per week on a perpetual military adventure?

If you want a good example of why this system is unable to react to peak oil in a good way, then you should look at the people in this system like the general populace.
A good example of this is the debate that is going on Slashdot right now.
Not very many of their topics go past the 800 post mark lately, and this one will go past the 1,000 mark before it goes into the archive section.
Unless a vast majority of the populace understands peak oil while knowing that economics, technology, and down right faith will not provide the answer. Then the politicians will continue to ignore it publicly while choosing the course that benefits them privately. While corporations deceive the public with bad solutions like corn based ethanol, which of course allows them to reap more profits at the expence of people desorying valuable farmland for feeding their cars.
Donal, as one with a more-than-receding hairline myself, I love your metaphor.  Very apt.  And to follow up on Davebygolly's "tirade" (with which I concur), allow me to suggest reading "The Culture of Make Believe" by Derrick Jensen.  Provides a broad, deep perspective on how we've gotten where we've got, why the corporations and the politicians and the military work in concert at clear counter-purpose to the public good.  It's not very uplifting, but is very enlightening.  Our culture is about domination, and oil has enabled it to reach a crescendo.  My pseudonym tells what I see coming, and pertains to more than NG or liquid fuels.  We are in the end days of global empire.  I try not to be completely apocalyptic. Suggesting reading Jensen is one way, for he, somehow, finds a ray of hope.
Our democracy has been deteriorating for a while. There are many problems in American politics today: lack of competitiveness in elections,  leads to extremism on both sides, and reduces the need for compromise; corruption of the system by special interests; voter apathy. Enough stuff to make you depressed if you spend much time thinking about it.

My depression was cured by finding that fixing this system does not have to be that hard. A lot of it is due to the way our elections are held: Winner-takes-all. This system discourages voting for alternative parties, eliminates competition through gerrymandering, and gives voters less incentive since they feel they are voting for the lesser of two evils.

The fix is to make the elections more competitive. More competition means politicians more responsive to the public, and public energized to vote because their choice matters. Making elections more competitive involves two tweaks to the voting process:

  • proportional representation voting: you rank the candidates. If your top choice does not make it, your vote switches to the next one. This allows voters to express prefecence for minority parties without feeling they've thrown out their vote.

  • multi-member districts (for House of Representatives, and on a local level). Instead of splitting state into tiny districts, which invites gerrymandering, create superdistricts with multiple members (ex 5). Everyone votes for 5 candidates, and top 5 go to Washington.

If you are interested in learning more about this, visit http://www.fairvote.org/. They are an advocacy group for election reform.

What I like about this approach is that it is clean. Clean appeals to my engineering side. Campaign finance reform, appointments of independent panels for redistricting, always felt like band-aids on a system that is fundamentally broken. The election reform is about giving us more choices, and Americans love choice as Starbucks menu demonstrates.

For a nice summary, check out http://www.fairvote.org/?page=1606
I consider myself an informed voter, but I would have a hard time finding the 5 people that I would like to send to the US House of Representatives from Louisiana.  Too much knowledge & effort required.

An interesting innovation (installed by our 4 term governor now sleeping in orange) is our open primary fro all state-eide & national offices.  Everybody in for primary.  If no one gets 40%, then run-off between top two (regardless of their total %).

A modest improvement, it has brought a higher % of reformers to office than before.

Too many typos, I should eidt first :-(  :-P


An interesting innovation (installed by our 4 term governor now sleeping in orange) is our open primary for all state-wide & national offices.  Everybody in for the primary.  If no one gets 50%, then a run-off between top two (regardless of their total %).

You do not have to vote for 5, you just vote for however many people you like. Open primary is better than what we have. Even open primary would benefit from proportional voting. You could vote for a liberitarian 1st (whom you love, but has no chance in hell of getting elected), then a repubilcan 2nd. If enough people make the same crazy libretarian choice, he gets elected.
It's interesting to speculate on the response of the U.S. and other countries' governments to Peak Oil. But governments are not the only institutions in the world. Sometimes I think people focus too much on government activity, as though it is the main way that human society responds to problems.

Especially here in the U.S., we rely very much on private enterprise to deal with situations. Peak Oil is not the government's responsibility! They aren't in charge of oil production, distribution or consumption. All that work was done by private individuals trying to make some money. The government took its cut and imposed some regulations, but for the most part, U.S. energy policy is set by private individuals deciding how much they will spend on various things, not by George Bush.

It's one thing to say, Peak Oil is here and the government is ignoring it. You can come up with all kinds of reasons and explanations, in terms of political interests and even conspiracy theories. But really the problem is worse than this. It's not just the government which is ignoring Peak Oil. It's private individuals as well. It's the oil industry. It's the investment community. It's the futures market.

Nobody believes in Peak Oil! Almost nobody, anyway. It's not like there's this groundswell of informed opinion that the government is ignoring. "Peak Oil Now" is still very much a minority view. The great number of people who really set our oil policy, by deciding what to buy and sell, don't believe in it. This is very clear by their actions and by market prices.

You can't effectively analyze the government's response (or lack of it) to Peak Oil without accepting the reality that mainstream academic and financial opinion is that we are not facing an imminent peak. This is what the government's experts are telling it, and it is what is reflected by the financial markets. The truth is that people on this site are far from society's consensus view on this issue. Maybe you'll turn out to be right, but the case has not been made well enough yet to persuade society as a whole.

Peak Oil is not the government's responsibility!

Then they should stop pretending responsibility, with DOT rules, EPA fuel economy estimates, CAFE standards, ethanol subsidies, hydrogen research (an exhaustive list would continue for some time).

The central dsyfunction we have is the tension between two incompatible systems of belief:

  1.  Peak Oil is not the government's responsibility.

  2.  The government is solving the Peak Oil problem.
Nobody believes in Peak Oil!

In case it wasn't clear, I believe that we would not have a cellulosic ethanol program if the government did not believe in a close approximation of Peak Oil.

And all this time I thought the ethanol program was to reduce CO2 and hence global warming!
Re: "The truth is that people on this site are far from society's consensus view on this issue. Maybe you'll turn out to be right, but the case has not been made well enough yet to persuade society as a whole."

Well, I think the peak oil community as a whole and TOD have made the case very well. They've certainly heard the message in Sweden. Interesting however that you speak of "society's consensus view". That was the very thing on my mind when I read PG's post. Presumably, you are talking about the American view.

As Chomsky and others have pointed out, consensus opinion is manufactured in the US by a substantial PR (advertising &marketing) industry. Policies (like invading Iraq) are sold like toothpaste. 50% of Americans still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was actively aiding Al-Qaeda. Those numbers are not as high as they used to be as the truth has come to light, but the necessary consent was manufactured back in 2002 and 2003 in the lead up to the war. Fox News was instrumental in creating that consensus reality but there were many, many others both inside and outside the government. The only independent (not-corporate owned) media left to us is the internet. Thank god for this website!

Now, how does this relate to Peak Oil? Taking the necessary steps to change the way we live to accomodate the energy crisis goes against the money-making interests of virtually every powerful govermental or corporate/media interest in this country. Not to point out the obvious, but the elites are making money in the system as it currently exists. Why would they want to upset the apple cart? It is obvious that the Bush people have edited reports on climate change. The story that has not emerged is that they have probably "influenced" the predictions of the EIA.

Now, some members of the US elite have actually come out and told the truth. T. Boone Pickens comes to mind. Now, what's really interesting about this is that Bush comes out and says we're "addicted to oil", mentions ethanol from corn and just at about the same time we get this nonsense

Yesterday, the Denver Post reported Plug pulled on renewable energy gurus

The day Carol Tombari got fired plays in her head like a scene from a cheesy espionage thriller.

She arrived at work [at NREL] and was told to appear at a mandatory meeting in 20 minutes. It was there that she learned she was being laid off and that she had five hours to pack and vacate the premises....

She was among the disappeared from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, where 31 workers were dismissed seven days after President Bush read the words "addicted to oil" off the teleprompter and announced yet another "Advanced Energy Initiative."

So, what's going on? The illusion is being manufactured that the powers that be are working on the energy crisis. Obviously, they are not but weapons of mass destruction were an illusion too.

So, when you refer to society's consensus view, I'm having a bit of trouble with that.


Good response and post.  I as hybrid owner and child of the first energy crunch of the 1970's am amazed at what people believe.

Much of what is written in the MSM is flat out wrong.  GM spent more than 1 calender year trying to trash the Toyota hybrid technology when the 2004 Prius was launched.  GM claimed the prius didn't get as good as mpg as advertised (no car does, but the Prius is still very high).  That the extra cost of hybrids can't be made up by consuming less gas (many prius owners show this is incorrect).  The technology is not robust and will fail more often than conventional power plants (The Prius has has fewer repairs and recalls than the average car).  Finally GM said that having 2 engines just can't be more efficient than one, it is not logical (the electric system captures and stores momentum in the batteries so it is much more efficient than conventional).  Many people to this day still believe GM's propaganda.  All of the messages from GM were put out solely to maintain market share and not have people go buy Toyotas.  They were not factual.  GM couldn't compete because they had no hybrids.  Their only recourse was to say all hybrids are bad.

Likewise much talk about energy efficiency, alternative energy and holistic approaches to energy consumption are being drowned out by opposing viewpoints which are often incorrect.  This makes it a continuous uphill battle to bring change to the American public even when this change would benefit the consumer.  Preventing experts, particularly government funded experts, from contributing to alternative energy approaches is the easiest way to maintain the status quo.  

We saw this approach in the Global Warming debate.  We see it now in the peak oil debate.  Deny the opposing viewpoint air time or legitimacy.

If only one side of the debate is continuously put in front of the American public, that will be the only one that has high public backing in any poll.  Public opinion is useless as a foundation of policy if that opinion is uninformed.

To quote from the Bloom County comic strip "Just because a million people do a stupid thing, doesn't mean it isn't a stupid thing".

Halfin: I know we have jousted on this question of the meaning of current market prices before, but let me see if I can wrest a little more insight from our differences. You would, I assume, agree that global oil supply has been essentially flat, with bumps, for a little over 12 months. This much seems incontravertible from looking at the data. You and I both think the oil market is at least somewhat efficient (more in your case than mine, but I believe efficiency is a decent approximation of the behavior of at least the oil markets). So therefore, the fact that supply has stopped increasing recently must have been priced in, yes? Whether or not the market believes in peak oil as a conscious theory, it must certainly have absorbed each month's supply statistics. Presumably, prices have gone high enough to bring usage in line with the flattened supply curve. If prices were significantly lower than this, demand would have continued to rise and the market would have been out of balance - prices would have had to rise to correct and clear the market. So prices have gone high enough to have caused approximately flat demand (at the then current price) through 2005.

Now, there is uncertainty about what will happen going forward. One of several possibilities might obtain within the near future region that our discount functions sample: A) supply might resume increasing, B) it might continue flat, or C) it might start to decrease. At this point, no-one knows for sure.

Under each of those hypothetical future scenarios, what would you expect oil prices to do?

Flattened supply curve for oil????? Well, all other things being equal, as time increases the slope of the supply curve will tend to flatten (or more prcecisely, the price elasticity of the supply of oil will increase), but I do not think that is what you meant.

I think what you meant was that the suppply curve for oil has tended to shift downward and to the left--a whole different concept from "flattening" of the curve.

If only there were some convenient and easy way to sketch a whole bunch of graphs (properly labelled of course), there could be much clearer explanations and less ambiguity and confusion on these posts.

Unfortunately I do not know how to do this. And even if I did, it is (alas) probably only the economists who would "get it."

Sorry - I meant the simpler thing - the curve of oil produced as a function of time stopped going up roughly 12-15 months ago (depending on exactly how you want to interpret what is bump and what is trend). We have been leaving in a bumpy plateau world for a year or so, and that must be priced in at this point.
"leaving"->"living". Interesting slip....
We should all go back and reread Freud--irrationality, aggression, . . . .

I love Keynes, but the greater thinker was Sigmund Freud, who blew away our comforting illusions that rationality rules.

Passion rules. Then we rationalize.

So why do I not despair? Because despair is immoral, and furthermore IMHO it is for wusses and wimps.

To anyone: please mail me if you wish.
This thread is simply sadly out of touch.  The discussion as presented vaguely describes the functioning of the US political system in the 1960s.  Current political reality is about as distant from this vision as amtrak is from TOD reader's fantasies of maglev transcontinental trains running in evacuated tunnels.

As a matter of fact, after a decade of research, debate and policy drift in the 1970s, the US ruling class did select a decisive response to global peak oil in 1980.  There is a plan, and the welfare of the US former middle class is simply not a consideration.  From Iraq to Katrina to $385 million for KBR to build detention facilities, and onward to Iran, the unfolding of the plan is in plain sight.  Perhaps it is best that TOD stay away from politics and concentrate on technical issues.

If I assume you are 100% right I can still say that those that have this power are people. People can change, they can figure out something better to do. It can probably not be forced but good ideas can be suggested. Finding good exampels in recent local history seems like a good idea.

Myself I do not know USA, I have never had time or funds to visit and its a continent, not something you get to know in a month, but I know you have strenghts and things to admire. You probably know them better yourselvs but a lot of people on TOD seems to lack in constructive imagination about how to do something with your strenghts.

I agree with 99.7% of what you say, but living in a sane medium-sized society such as Sweden, you cannot imagine how hard it is to get this luxury liner, the Titanic (also known as U.S.A.) steering away from the ice with engines full astern. To quantify, my subjective estimate is that the political problems of inertia in the U.S. are roughly ten times worse than those in Sweden, and possibly 20 to 50 times worse.

You live in a society that has survived adversity for 1,000 years--not to mention nasty Danes and Russians and Germans and Poles on your borders. The U.S. has a short history. We do magnificently well in some crises, such as World War II. We are very good at rhetoric and at entertainment.

But to be perfectly blunt, most Americans lack the wisdom of the Swedes.

Also this is naive but could not the US federal power concentrate all of its work and funds to provide security against terrorists, protection of international free trade, protection against external military threaths and guarentee free movement of people and capital between US states?

Skip the rest and let the state governments try different ways of handling disasters, policework, the Peak Oil crisis and so on and those that succeed best have also to learn how to handle more americans moving to them.

Let the federal power steam on ahead with the military industrial complex inertia, shed the rest and become realy good at the military part.

The federal gov't has the bulk of the tax revenue, and "States Rights" and innovation have been downplayed.  A limited % of total taxation has limited the ability of states to do strategic planning.

Still, I have more hope for local (city more than state) decision making.

California set stricter air pollution standards than all other states and now almost ten states have joined them is one example of a large state going outside the federal process.

Ok, the the state level has to be given the option of changing the taxation. And probably a million details I know absolutely nothing about. ;-)

Californias strict air pollution standards has affected much more then US states. They were a strong argument for new air pollution standards in Sweden, especially when people noticed that Volvo exported enviromentally better Volvos to California then sold in Sweden.

Magnus, you should get a cheap ticket on Icelandair from Stockholm to BWI, and an inexpensive ticket on Southwest from there to New Orleans.  Much to learn here, and our food is about to once again become better than that in Paris ! :-)

I can help you find a cheap hotel (or sleep in a tent inside a ruined house of a friend).  A couple of thousand euros and there is much to learn and enjoy here !


Respectfully, I disagree.  The technical domain provides the basis for understanding the problem.  But I believe that the intial solutions and impetus must come, in part, from the political domain.  The larger part of the solution, of course, is that our collective and individual choices must fit inside the constraints discovered by our technical analysis.  But as I see it, political will must act as the catalyst to cause change.

The American body politic is a key node in avoiding the truly terrible possibilities in PO.  This is an incredibly rich and critical area to focus attention.  By analyzing the political domain we may discover and ultimately implement strategies and tactics that can actually make a difference.

How do we get the system to buy into the concept that less is better?  Less complexity, less consumption, less entitlement.  We can construct solutions for less and dictate some of the terms, or have less imposed on us in a viscious darwinian process.  If possible, I would rather the resources of the US government be on our side.

With all due respect microhydro, I think you are the one out of touch. You have magnified your fantasies of conspiracy until you drift from reality.

Daniel Ellsberg showed with the "Pentagon Papers" how in the age of copying machines conspiracies all get blown. We all know about the conspiracy (successful) by which Mayor Daley the First with some help from Texas stole the 1960 election from Nixon, who actually won it by plenty. We all know about the conspiracy to cover up the manslaughter of Mary Jo K. by Ted Kennedy, for which he should have served about 7 to 12 years hard time. We now know that Castro paid Lee Harvey Oswald $6,500 to kill J.F.K., and oh boy, did he ever have it coming, after little brother Bobby and big brother J.F.K. tried with the aid of the C.I.A. no fewer than six times to kill Castro.

The truth will out.

     You know, there certainly ARE conspiracies, and I'm sure that more than we will ever know have been entirely successful.  Unfortunately, I've got to go with Kunstler  and subscribe to the notion that it's more "cluelessness" than anything else.
1960 was 303 to 219, and Illinois was 27 votes. Illinois switches columns and it's 276 to 246. Kennedy still wins.
Kennedy got drunk and drove off the road. In the seventies that was still an accident, not manslaughter like it is now because of MADD.
Google is your friend.
Please check your numbers. Daley and his buddies manufactured 250,000 bogus votes in Cook county to get Illinois, and some guys in Texas did some fancy work to shift, I think it was about 80,000 there.

The true facts of what Ted Kennedy, and the lies he told, and the scenario of perjury and altered documents, etc. in regard to the Mary Jo K. crime are well known--as is the fact that when Ted Kennedy hired ringers at Harvard to take tests for him, Daddy opened the checkbook and wrote a big one to get him back in. These facts are not in dispute.

Back to Cook county: Hey, I lived there under the rule of Daley the First--total corruption, total thuggery. Look what happened at the 1968 Dem Convention when Daley created the police riot against the demonstrators against the war. Look at how he ordered one of his goons to slug Dan Rather--in front of about 20,000,000 T.V. viewers.  N.B. Obviously there would have been no point in Daley stealing Illinois for J.F.K. unless the fix was already in in Texas. That single fact accounts for the otherwise unexplained approximately nine hour delay in "finding" those 250,000 votes from Cook County to counteract the downstate big majority for Nixon.

There may be a reputable historian today who denies these facts, but if so I suspect he is very very old--and a Democrat.

For reliable sources, I suggest reputable histoical journals and even (gag) the "New York Times" as far better than Google, where the noise overwhelms the information much of the time.

In my rant above I drifted from my main point. Sorry. To make progress we must do our best to define problems with clarity and also to make sure we are focusing on the most important ones.

My big point is that Bush-bashing is an irrelavant distraction from important issues. The issue is not Bush. Nor it is deceit or conspiracy in the Bush administration, which is really pretty small time compared to the massive deceptions of, e.g. the LBJ administration in inventing the Gulf of Tonkin incident to escalate the Vietnam War or the secret bombing of Laos or CIA involvement in assasinations of Diem (under JFK, our sainted hero) or the assasination of Patrice Lumumba or overthrow of the Arbenz regime in Guatemala . . . . and on and on and on. Governments lie. That is not news.

The theory of our institutions is that a free press is the check on government lies and corruption, including conspiracies to deceive the people.

As I see it, we need journalists with balls (and BTW, this does not rule out women--the ballsiest journalist I've ever known was the late great Gita Szereny)--somebody of the stature of George Orwell.

George O., where are you now that we need you?


The last time I looked some journalists were being put in jail for printing leaks from the administration.  The journalist is attacked and vilified even when the information is factually correct.  Plamegate, Domestic Spying, Weapons of Mass destruction, etc.

In my opinion the government is trying (succeeding?) to intimidate the press to not publish dissenting viewpoints or even data.  When was it a crime to publish the truth, no matter how the information was gathered?

The press is doing its job.  The government has stopped investigating itself for potentially illegal actions.  This is always a symptom of too much concentration of power in a certain viewpoint.  Democracy flourishes best with dessension within the government, not just from outside it.

Jail? "What are you doing out of jail?" Henry David Thoreau asked his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, when Emerson asked Thoreau why he was in jail protesting the Mexican War.

For a genuine profile in courage, read "Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell; it is kind of a prequel to "Animal Farm."

BTW Orwell was shot in the throat and nearly killed. During the war he and his wife gave away some of their rations to hungry people, and this may have contributed to the TB that killed him at a rather young age.

I say again, where is George Orwell now that we need him?

where is George Orwell

Mr. Orwell is around, citizen of Alpha Complex.

If Nixon had been sworn in on Jan 20, 1961 we would have had the Watergate scandal 8 years sooner.
Okay, if the Democrats stole Illinois and Texas, then the election was fixed in 1960. Only one question. Did the Democrats actually steal Texas? A very conservative state? Or did the conservatives steal Texas?
I always see people complaining about Illinois, not Texas, in the 1960 election. I never realised that the people bitching about 1960 were bitching about the conservatives stealing the election to get us into a land war in Asia, just like Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan.
I'm not sure that I believe that. I'm not going to call you a paranoid liberal, but it sure seems that you are talking that way to me.
Oh, and by the way. The urban areas always have a higher vote during the evening because that's when Democrats vote, after they come home from work. The Republicans vote earlier in the rural areas because traffic isn't as bad and you can take off ten minutes and vote. Democrats are not about to lose their parking space by voting during the work day.
If the Republicans want the Democrats to vote earlier, they can hold the elections on the weekend.
History suggests that supplies will begin to grow faster than they have been. The IEA [International Energy Agency] has said that by the end of the decade there will be significant capacity again.

--Exxon CEO Lee Raymond, Businessweek, 2/20/06, page 106.

Who does the decision making managerial class believe, an "expert" or retired scientists?

For as long as possible it suits all the interests, energy, finance, government and military, to keep the public in the dark about Peak Oil.

Notice how very carefully he worded those two statements.  He doesn't say "Our best information at Exxon is that supplies will begin to grow faster than they have been."  Mr. Raymond says that "history" "suggests" that supplies will grow.  Greenspan would be proud!  This is an unimpeachable statement, since he isn't saying that supplies will increase, but rather if you look at history you would be lead to believe this, whether or not he believes history will repeat this time.

Then "The IEA [International Energy Agency] has said that by the end of the decade there will be significant capacity again."  Again, he doesn't say that "Our best information at Exxon is that ... there will be significant capacity again."  Brilliant, isn't it?  He doesn't say whether he agrees or even thinks the IEA is likely to be right.  You might think that he agrees because of his choice of examples, but that would be your conjecture; Mr. Raymond didn't say that.

These are subtleties I wish more people would notice. It is important because it shows the way executives can serve the shareholder and tell the truth at the same time by skirting the truth. Raymond as the "leader" of the execs catches alot of flak. You would think he was Jeff Skilling from some of the things written about him here. He has done nothing wrong.
Oh, I do. I expect it, take it for granted and note it. Don't most people? It almost comes up in lights for me: s/he is being careful with the truth of what they say to obfuscate truth. Perhaps I have unfair advantages.

The irony is: I can't do that, totally incapable, causes me real agony to be less than utterly truthful. Perhaps that's another sign of madness?

The $513 billion requested by Bush for the 2006 "defense" budget is a good indication to me that high levels of this administration are well aware of possible peak oil and global warming consequences.  The Defense Department commissioned a report (published October 2003) titled "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario And Its Implications For U.S. National Security".  They've been arming up for a global smackdown for years.  Recall that the first President Bush, at a 1992 energy conference in Rio de Janeiro, declared that the American way of life is "non-negotiable".
     A very shallow (and most likely incoherent) comment on this...$513 billion is an incredibly large number and an obscene amount compared to what is being allocated to so many other things.  But it so happens that this equates to a 6.7% increase in funding over FY 2006.  If one accepts that the inflation figures put out by the US are the most contorted numbers around (unless it's the employment statistics), this represents the same level as last year.
    However, consider this.  The DoD and MDCs (Major Defense Contractors) are facing what most local governments and major corporations are-- significant increases in the  costs of doing business as healthcare, pension obligations, energy and basic commodity prices all rise.  I understand  that this is a counter-intuitive proposition on my part, but I believe that the Defense budget was cut.  This is even taking in to account that the operational costs for the perpetual War on Whoever is "off-budget".
     I am currently working for an MDC developing various electronic systems for several high dollar programs.  It would be hard for someone not on the "inside" to appreciate the disconnect between the rosy forecasts by the corporate mouthpieces and the panicky, clutch-fisted behavior exhibited all across the board.  Defense, at least our corporation, seems to have regressed back several years with a "lean" operations ethic that is bordering on anorexia at this point.
     I am much like Twilight that posts here...I am desperately trying to save, be debt-free and do the right thing by those people I work with.  The daily disconnect between work and TOD et al is rather impressive, and getting worse.  Sometimes, Dave, I do go to sleep with a bottle of bourbon...  
I feel gratified that my first contribution to TOD seems to have, in a small way, inspired and galvanized Prof. Goose to really go to town on the political consequences of PO. I think it's legitimate to discuss "politics" on open threads like this and we shouldn't be afraid to. Only we should try to avoid sectarianism and partisanship, and the Left verses Right struggle. This whole question, I believe, is bigger than that. After all were talking about the future of civilization here, not a "minor" issue like the distribtion of wealth, or if one should have European style, tax-financed public healthcare system in the U.S. I'm really going to resist the temptation I have to write another overlong comment, and instead speak in "Headlines" and take a lot of background and contextualizing for granted - otherwise this "comment" could easily turn into a mini-lecture. Firstly, the American Constitution, was, after all, written a long time ago. It's actually older than almost any other written constitution I can think of in any country. This is almost a paradox seen from a Eurpean pespective, as the United States is regarded as a very "young" country compared to the far older nation states of Europe. Our constitutions were written after and in many respects inspired by the American Constition. Once again America leads the way! (I'm going to skip ammendments and interpretation of the text of the Constitution, as it's so complicated and time consuming. Is that allowed?) Britain doesn't, by the way, even have written constitution, things are far more "fluid" than in the U.S. In fact I'm going to step away from this fascinating but rather esoteric discussion right now, even though I can feel gravity's pull, and venture a few words about "rationality" which I've seen mentioned a few times already. I believe it's of prime importance that we on TOD remain true to Rationality when discussing PO and its consequences. Why? Well, if we are to have any hope of lessening the impact of PO and developing models for alternatives to "business as usual", remaining sober and rational are imperative. Also, I think "rationality" is under attack in our culture, as is... wait for it - "Science" itself. I'm almost beginning to think of TOD as a kind of cyber-monestary at the start of a new Dark Age. God, that sounds over-the-top, but at times that's how it seems. The standard of debate here is just so much more serious, challanging and illuminating, than the stuff one encounters out in the real world. Like many of you I feel that PO will mark a real change for our civilization, things will not reamain the same post peak. This is why I believe the "politics" so important. How will we organize the social change post peak? Social organization in ancient Egypt was indeed something to behold. They created an impressive civilization, culture and art. So one can live without oil, the question is, can we? Is our society as well-organized as ancient Eygypt? Is our society just "organized chaos"? What kind of society will emerge in our neck of the woods? These and many other questions, seem to me at least, to be of paramount importance. They are also huge questions, areas of study the size of continents. For me PO and the politics are joined at the hip. For me politics isn't so much about Left and Right anymore. For me it's increasingly about "rationality" contra "Magic"; more later. Perhaps the politics is the key to unlocking the debate on PO. The scenarios for the future shape of society are closly contected to how we deal with the challanges PO will bring. Our "job" may even turn out to be "keeping the flame of civilization alive" in our cyber-monastary if things really get bad - who knows? It's not a scenario I relish, believe me. I have a perhaps too vived an imagination. It's an occupational hazard! But, for me, question about our culture and what it may look like are just as important as the number and graphs in relation to PO. James Lovelock thinks we should start to collect all the basic, vital scientific information we have, and print it in an indestructable, Doomsday book, for future generations to use, so they won't have to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak. He is deeply pessimistic about the future. Wait untill you see his new book on "Global Meltdown", "warming" is far too comforting a word in this context! That's not surprising as his friend and neighbour was William Golding. I think we are not just entering a single, new paradigme in relation to PO. I also think we leaving two very important paradigmes behind as a civilization. This is an enormous area of discussion I know, but I'll just throw the idea out anyway. If anyone's interested I can perhaps return to it at later date. The changes I believe are taking place in our culture are relevant in relation to my hope that we all remain "part of the rational, reality based community" as Carl Rove might put it, with his customary, negative, spin! One, I believe we are moving into the "Post Democracy" era. Empires and "Monarchs" are on their way back. Secondly the age of "The Enlightenment" is over. It's had a good run. Third we are seeing the return of "Magic" into our lives. After all, "Reality is what we say it is". On top of all the other problems we face, we've got these to deal with as well. I just hope we can avoid the slide into "barbarism" on the slippery, oily, slope.
"Cyber Monastery" - Nice coining of phrase! That's exactly what this feels like. Perhaps Super G could add sound to the site and play monastic chants in the background?

I'd be willing to wear the robe, but sorry, I won't be getting the haircut.

TOD reminds me of Azimov's Foundation.
Doggone it, that is a good comparison--and I did not think of it first.

Conventional ideas are not working. How about some wild ("Crazy Eddy" ideas from "Mote in God's Eye" by Niven and Pournelle) ideas.

  1. A secret society, such as Phi Beta Kappa. Wow, it is neat to get that reaction when you do the handshake. Skull and Bones . . . piffle, bunch of wussy Yalies.
  2. A nonsecret chain of coffee houses or "Don's American Cafe" places. Note that coffee houses were where revolutions brewed in England (prior to Glorious Revolution of 1688 in a small way) and bigtime in American colonies and especially France. The Enlightment ran on caffein, nicotine and pamphlets.
  3. A new religion. Hey, it worked for Mahomet.
Note that coffee houses were where revolutions brewed...

"Liberté, Egalité, Café Latte"?

Well, Starbucks already supports (or at least pays lip service to) a few progressive causes.  Of course, serious preparations for peak oil would hurt them (disproportionately?) so it's unlikely that they would want to tell customers about it.

Are there business or trade associations which might benefit from (or at least be less hurt by) peak oil, and thus be more likely to respond positively?

Hey! My gold Phi Beta Kappa key is mouldering in some drawer at home... nobody ever shared the secret handshake with me. But at least I'll be able to pawn the gold if the apocolypticans around here turn out to be correct.
Pawn value is minimal; trust me, I tried;-)

Actually, it can be useful. Had an instructor once, long ago in a land far, far away, and he proudly wore his key. Why? Well he was the son of an Ashanti chief who had had about 75 children, and for the first twelve years of his life he ran around in the jungle having fun. Then his father pointed at him, said, "You are the smartest--you go get educated," and hence off to top English boarding schools and then to U.C., Berkeley to get his Ph.D. in Econ. All I had to do was walk up, give him the secret shake, and we were instant buddies.

I have learned far more from listening to people than I have from books or the Net.

I wonder how effective saving knowledge for future generations will be.  Will they be able to tell the difference between science, religion, fiction, or grocery lists?  (Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels....)

There is so much hostility toward science in the U.S. these days.  And I have a feeling it's only going to get worse if there's a collapse of some kind.

"Will they be able to tell the difference between science, religion, fiction, or grocery lists?"  

Ummm - is there any evidence that they can now?

Your excellent question has been answered at length and in full in two science fiction novels:


I would not be so enamored with the 'ancient civilizations' as a paragon of how to do things right.  If what archaeologists tell us is true, most ancient civilizations were highly dependent upon slavery as a multiplier of their desired efforts. The great buidings and edifices of the ancient world were built upon injustice, blood, and untold human misery. Just look at Rome.

For all the problems it is now causing, the burning of fossil fuels has, when you get right down to it, been responsible for the liberation of more humans from slavery and a brutish existence than any other entity. At the risk of hyperbole, one might say that the steam engine freed more people than Abraham Lincoln.

So, now that we are faced with a decline in the availability of fossil fuel energy, I wonder if we will be headed toward a new feudalism and a more labor-intensive rather than energy-intensive society - the formation of a true proletariat, with all the negative connotations that word implies.

The party was fun while it lasted, but now all I see for the future is a greater level of man exploiting his fellow man. And the biggest challenge facing a young person is to make sure he's on the right side of that line. It's going to get dicey, but the people who run the show will make sure that they and their's will not suffer. I think that's were the really serious planning is going on.

I've tried sobriety and rationality. They did not work.

Herewith your assignment writerman: Write the novel that will do for Peak Oil what "Uncle Tom's Cabin" did for the abolitionist movement.

Mission Impossible?

You have a better idea?

Word are better than bullets.

writerman's response:   IT WAS the most energetic of times, it was the least efficient of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of fossil-foolishness, it was the epoch of faith-based belief, it was the epoch of incredible technologies, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had decline and collapse before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its fair and balanced authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. ...TO BE CONTINUED

(Dickens? Sorry, never heard of 'im.)

Thank you, Madame du Farge for knitting that lovely sweater for me. I don't mind the blood spots . . . .
I have noted that most science fiction assumes that the only rational thing to do in a nuclear war is to run away and hide, on a farm of all places.
Who will write the series where the protagonists don't run away and hide, but live and die working to hold things together. At the WTC the cops and firemen died, and also every single one of the rentacops and the facilities guys in the basements keeping the lights on. They died trying to get the escalators running again to help in the evacuation, at their posts and their duties.
Remember when the Student Union at Oxford debated and voted "This house will under no circumstances fight for king and country." as a response to the idiots in charge during the first world war.
The book "Ivan's War" or some such was about the response of the Russian army to the second world war. They took horrendous casualties because of the incompetence of their leaders. They fought on and won the war.
Someone needs to write a book that inspires us to do the same, because nukes are getting cheaper all the time. If we don't fight now, and even if we do, we will fight later. When everyone has nukes then there is no place to hide from peak oil and peak fish and peak water. Not even on a farm.
If you don't want to write the book, could you at least write the call for someone else to write the book?
Part of the problem with many democracies--especially in the United States--is that the number of representatives stays fixed.  As the population increases, each member of the House represents more and more people.  Consequently, large power blocs more easily form.  Those with money and influence can more easily form those blocs and control the discussion.

The distance between a House member and his constituency grows.  

In the early days of the Republic, members were far more responsive to their constituencies.  I do not think the Founding Fathers took into account such a huge population increase and its effect on representation.

Sadly, I can see absolutely no reason to expect the current US political system to respond in a timely and effective manner to Peak Oil.  Whether it be mass denial, personal corruption, or general inertia, I am extremely pessimistic that enough will get done soon enough.

The paranoid side of me starts to think that the real purpose of the Dept. of Homeland Security is not to defend us against those raghead  terrrorists, but rarther to enforce government control whence The Shit Hits the Fan.  Fanciful? Just witness what went down re Katrina. It is quite obvious that the mission of FEMA during Katrina was not to help people, but rather to take control of the situation and to institute marshall law. FEMA even tried to cut communications so that they would control all info that went in and out. This is what they do.

FEMA's response to Katrina is the true face of the current US government. Be ready for more of the same. And far worse. The idea is to keep the masses contained when things get out of control. History has shown that it usually doesn't work and usually results in massive bloodshed. But so it goes.

Why do I feel like a 'good German', circa 1932, aware that something is badly amiss, but powerless to do a damn thing about it?

We are probably going to have to go around the federal government to get anything done.  It's possible:

'Blue' States Tackling Energy On Their Own

Democratic-leaning states increasingly are regulating energy use and emissions, working around a GOP-controlled federal government that state officials say has not done enough.

The states are creating energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs and household appliances, limiting power plant and automobile output linked to global warming, and requiring the use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

Leading the effort are "blue" states that voted Democratic in the 2004 presidential election. Even some of those states that have Republican governors, such as California and Connecticut, are making their own rules.

"In a way, the left is controlling that agenda," said Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of the energy program at Rice University in Houston. "They're just implementing it at the community and state level."

Never ascribe to conspiracy what can be laid at the feet of incompetence.

The scale of Katrina was beyond even our country's ability to cope.  I include local, state, FEMA, and the Bush admin in the mix.  I'm not trying to defend the indefensible since the potential for a catastrophic event was well documented.  But the amount of energy available (human, physical, financial) could not be scaled up fast enough to deal with the situation at the rate at which human suffering and CNN demanded.

But therein lies the rub.  PO is also well documented.  And we are doing precious little to shore up the metaphorical levees and eliminate the analogous erosion of shoreline.  The storm is approaching.  And it is just a matter of time till it lumbers ashore.  

Kinda reminds me of the story of Dr. Isaac Cline, Galveston meteorologist in 1900.  Nine years before the hurricane that gave a face-shot to Galveston he said, "The opinion held by some who are unacquainted with the actual conditions of things, that Galveston will at some time be seriously damaged by some such disturbance (ref. to an earlier hurricane), is simply an absurd delusion."  We seem to be similarly protected today by our experts.

BTW.  I am a LtCol in the USMC reserves and served in the first and second Gulf War.  I say this to say that I have met and worked with an enormous range of people in our government over 25 years.  There is no vast X-wing conspiracy.  Incompetence?  Sure, but no more or less than in any other large beaurocracy.  My deepest impression is and always has been that the majority of decision makers are  highly intelligent and committed people who try to give an honest day's work.

Inertia, vested interest, incompetence, and compartmentalization are sufficient to explain the current state of affairs.

bjj -

My intention was not to ascribe FEMA's response to Katrina as the result of some sort of secret conspiracy. Rather, it was to express my opinion that FEMA's response to Katrina inadvertantly revealed one of FEMA's true functions: the imposition of de facto federal marshal law and the control of civilian populations during episodes having strong potential for massive civil unrest.

If you look at the federal statutues pertaining to FEMA, you will see  a long list of powers assigned to FEMA upon the declaration of a national emergency by the President. Being in the military, I'm sure you're quite familiar with contingency planning. Would you doubt that FEMA has in place detailed contingency plans for suppressing mass civil unrest through the use of mass arrests and pre-staged detention facilities? I will remind you that Richard Nixon has plans along the same lines regarding the growing anti-war and civil rights disturbances during the late 1960s. Is pointing that out being a paranoid conspiracy theorist?  

I'm sure that FEMA's pathetic response to Katrina was the result of incompetence and mismanagement, but the response they did finally implement had more the look of marshal law that disaster aid. That was all that I was saying.

Well said. Semper fi!
Maybe 1934?
Though Hilter became Chancellor in 1933, by 1932 the handwriting was clearly on the wall for anyone but the totally blind to see. And if you were Jewish, it would have been a good time to get out of Dodge.

Maybe in some respects it feels more like the Spring of 1914.

Interesting post, Prof. I learned quite a bit about the USA system.

However, comparing to the UK (while interesting) belies the fact that the UK system is not trully democratic either.

Under their FPP ("First Past the Post") election system, it is possible to have 'majority' governments (where one party has more than 50% of the representatives in parliament) with only 40% (or less) of the populace vote.  This can lead to 'landslide' victories that do not reflect the will of the people, which, IMO contributes to the flip-flopping of the speed boat.  FPP is quite an unstable, 'top-heavy' type of democracy.

This was why New Zealand (where I now live) moved away from FPP to MMP (Mixed Member Proportionality).  This allows voters to vote for any party in the knowledge that their vote will count directly towards the proportion of representation in the Parliament.

For instance, in last year's election I voted for the "Green" party (one of the few that actively discusses "Peak Oil"). The Greens only just scraped over the minimum 5% threshold allowing entry into parliament. But they have ended up with 5% of the 'seats' in parliament.  Now while the two major political parties ("Labour" - centre-left, and "National" - right) still get over 80% of the vote (MMP is still quite young and people don't change their habits very quickly), the remaining 20% have helped to shape the make-up of the goverment we have today. And while I was disappointed that the make-up of the government does not reflect my hopes for the direction of NZ, the greens were part of the negotiations and have secured agreement on putting some policies forward.

I would agree with many above, however, that this does not help the US. I would say that it is too late for the US now. IMHO the metaphor of the cruise ship is very accurate. Hopefully our little speed boat here in NZ has enough stabilisers on it to stop it flipping over.

Off topic: BTW, did you know that the 'Jet Boat' (an extremely effective speed boat that can operate in only 6 inches of water) was invented by a New Zealander?

New Zealand a jet boat? I think not. First, New Zealand is God's own country; you know that, I know that.

Second, what do you have in NZ? Sheep and catttle and a lot of golf courses on which you could graze more animals. When I lived in New Zealand I had your standard working-class breakfast of a steak and two eggs, along with a liter of Seinlager, and for lunch the requisite rich sausages, and for dinner of course the saddle of mutton, unless I opted for lamb chops or hogget. Of course I drank quantities of full-fat milk and cheese; you have the best cheese and onion sandwiches in the world. Plus, you have the best race relations in the world. Furthermore, you have mellow people who golf, play tennis, surf and sail all the time. What I cannot figure out is why N. Zedders do not keel over and die at early ages from your rich diet. (Nowhere else in the world have I fried bacon in butter. When I mentioned this to a witty NZ friend, he just said: "Doesn't everybody?") And let us not forget your outstanding film industry and hydropower.

Of all societies likely to make it past peak oil with flying colors, my opinion is that it is a first-place tie between Iceland and NZ. (Also for highest percentage of beautiful women I place Iceland and NZ in first place tie, but I digress.)

P.S. Aldous Huxley also had NZ flourishing in his very thoughtful, "Brave New World Revisited."

I will point out, for my Icelandic friends, that a population of just over a quarter million (roughly half male) now has 4 Miss Worlds !

The mother of the current Miss World made the top 5 at Miss World when she was younger.

NZ may have beautiful women BUT Iceland is #1 !

Iceland also has the highest oil use per capita in the world to support their fishing fleet.  I have proposed some things to "Dr. Hydrogen", Bragi Arnason of the University of Iceland to synthesize methanol seasonally at a closed fertilizer factory.

Icelanders used sails until recently in their history. If they have forgotten how, then I can go there and train sailing instructors (which is something I do very well). The problem Iceland typically has had is getting materials to build boats. Wood is good. Maybe they can grow enough timber to go back to the boats of 100 years ago, remarkable fishing vessels.

You sail the North Atlantic, you better be good, or you die. And you may die anyway. For a thousand years they have lived by fishing, and cowardice is not part of their nature. Furthermore, they have evolved an effective democracy over 1,000 years.

Highly recommended reading: NJAL'S SAGA. (And you thought we have problems . . . .)

I prefer Egill's Saga. They knew Egill had potential when he killed his first man at age 7.  Later he killed the son of Erik Bloodaxe (a noted historical figure) and, being a brilliant poet, sang a song claiming that he had felled both the King & Queen of Denmark/Norway with a single blow.

A couple of decades later he was captured by Erik Bloodaxe (Erik then in exile) and just before his execution composed such a wonderful poem of praise for King Bloodaxe that he was pardoned and released.  From there he went home and quietly farmed till his death.

I have been warned several times NOT to get into a brawl with a fisherman when going out for the night in Reyjkavik.  Last year, an Icelandic fishing captain saw a shark approaching his men cleaning their catch in knee deep water on the shores of Greenland.  He waded out, grabbed a 300 kg shark by the tail and hauled it ashore, where he killed it with a knife.  Impressive even by Icelandic standards !!

Icelanders still work quite hard (my first presentation was to two engineers at 1:30 AM after they had been working since 8 AM), but more than their brethren who speak corrupted Icelandic :-P

Still, the alternative needs to be starvation to go out into waters north of the North Sea in an open sailing fishing boat. BRUTAL is an understatement !

They will eat ANYTHING !  Har'kal (spelling) is a shark that is poisonous when fresh (the Greenland shark) due to ammonia & neurotixins,  But put it in sand for 3 months and it is "edible".  One has to be VERY hungry to try such things.

Today the national lottery is called "Whale Find" (hwalefund ?)  Men would fight to the death over a rotten whale that washed ashore.

I am the only non-Icelandic member of the "Tree Growing Club" trying new species of trees.  They plant over 5 million/year but few are timber size yet. (Siberian Larch is #1 tree planted).

Someone said on another thread that they have a "consensus".  True for only one fact, all things Icelandic are GOOD !  Otherwise, the Swedes may have a consensus, but NOT Icelanders.

I remember hearing a BBC radio documentary on traditional Icelandic 'delicacies' quite a few years ago. Rotten shark was one that stuck in my mind and another was crushed rams' testicles. It makes me wonder how they came to discover these 'delicacies' in the first place. Desperation comes to mind, followed by making a virtue of necessity.
Of all societies likely to make it past peak oil with flying colors, my opinion is that it is a first-place tie between Iceland and NZ.

Don, I wish I could be as positive.  Well over half of our electricity is generated by fossil fuels (mostly NG).

I think we will survive post-peak, but I think our financial system will take a battering.  We too have the highest debt levels ever, and an over-inflated real-estate market. Almost all our GDP comes from primary exports (meat, fruit, etc.) and I've already seen plenty of discussion around the net from people in other parts of the world bemoaning the fact that they buy apples from NZ (for example).  We are so far from anywhere that our export market will be badly hit by significant fuel cost increases.

However, there are some positive factors (apart from the beautiful women).

Our Labour government decided to buy back the rail-tracks from a commercial outfit that had been running them into the ground (it was actually a Minesota company).  The whole rail system had been sold during the term of a previous National (right) government that sold off a lot more of our 'silver'.

Wind and Hydro generation proposals are popping up all over the place, so hopefully we will have a much higher percentage of electricity from 'renewables'. Unfortunately, the same National government that sold the railways also sold the electricity, but they formed a god-awful structure with three levels: generation, distribution and retail. As you can imagine, each level has shareholders to satisfy and each needs to take a cut.  This has resulted in almost a tripling in the cost of electricity in the last 10 years.

As a country we are committed to the "Nuclear-free" thing. And in fact it wouldn't make much sense for a small country like ours anyway.

We also have the land area to support our population if we became isolated.  And we'll certainly have a lot of apples, kiwifruit, beef and lamb which isn't going anywhere else.

Unfortunately, the software company I work for writes software for the meat export companies, so I'm a bit worried about my future.

As far as the diet goes, there have been improvements in recent years.  Childhood obesity is on the increase, but that's got more to do with playstations, DVDs and computers.

Also, we have a very outdoorsy lifestyle here. A lot of people hike, bike, swim, surf, ski, etc., so that helps to keep the pounds off.

I must keep a look out for that Aldous Huxley book. Any links to the New Zealand relevant portions?

China (and India, the Persian Gulf, etc.) will buy all the food you can sell (except India is not a good prospect for beef :-P and ship you manufactured goods and some oil.

I thought NZ was about 1/3 fossil power.  And geothermal is increasing as well.  Any thoughts about TrustPower and King Country Power >

Don't know if you can get the NZ stuff from the book online; nobody reads it anymore. However, you can get an inexpensive used paperback copy of it from the Great Amazon company.

Come to think of it, I have not reread Aldous Hulxley for years . . . must put on my list.

Can you imagine anything more prescient than BRAVE NEW WORLD? And of course, the irony is that he was writing it as satire of the English upper class--not as prophecy. BNW is sort of a sequel to "Point Counter Point," a scathing novel of condemnation of upper class Brits. For a lighter funnier Huxley, read "Antic Hay," one of my favorites, especially the joke about the "key to the Absolute."

Unfortunently the political climate has become entirely too rigid and unresponsive to deal with real problems.  And the populace has become too apathetic to politics, instead preferring their big screen TVs and their bling.  

The only solution that has a half way decent chance of enacting real change is the benevolent dictator.  And since I have no idea the true intentions of any third person, I suppose the only one I can truely trust to do right is myself.  So, I will be your dictator.  You'll be hearing more from me in the next four or five years.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out...IN
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right

There.  Maybe that will get me on the list of suspected terrorists.  </smirk>

Not sure how right or relevant this is, but I just read an article (originally published in the Independent) that notes that Matt Simmons was an energy advisor to the 2000 Bush campaign . . .


Hi prof, this post really made me thought about this stuff from another perspective. In essence I agree with everything you say, with an exception:

The federal systems are not designed to be proactive

I don't know if you are talking about the US federal systems or federations in general, but for me a Federation is an advantage in this case (and all other).

Being a Federation actually leaves the US in better position to respond to Peak Oil: once the action gets to the upper levels of the system it will take effect. For instance, last year European Commissionaire of Energy Andris Piebalgs warned that tax cuts on energy were a foolish thing to do. The next day Poland, France and Belgium all anounced tax cuts on petrol and home eating fuel.

The big problem really is the US Presidential system, where the Executive power is so mengled with the Legislative.

I think PG's observations are nearer the mark, most critically on the speed with which the executive can respond and the power it has to lead.

Contrast UK and US. The UK executive, if in parliamentary majority and having sufficient support from its own MPs, can act. It can do this, at least in the short term, without any consensus of support from the public or any other branch of government. This is not so in the US. The powers to act are more constrained and more largely  dependent on at least acceptance by the other branches of the Federal government and, to some extent, the state systems. Also the supreme court can be an effective blocking tool. Speedy executive action in the US is dependent, to a significant degree, on consensus support.

On awareness of peak oil in governments. I suggest the following broad possibilities:

  1. The are unaware
  2. They are slightly aware but haven't properly heard or listened to much of the information
  3. They have heard but don't believe peak oil will occur soon or that solutions will be adequate.
  4. They have heard and are scared, daren't tell 'us'
  5. 4. but they dare.

I think all the above are true for different sub-populations within our governments. Amongst the higher echalons I think we can disregard 1. since most have had presentations (eg UK parliamentary sub-commities, US house presentations, departmental reports). There will still be many who are at 2. and 3. - as we find amongst the general population. Sweden is the only country that seems to have made it to 5. as far as I'm aware.

It is 4. that most interests me and is the group that I think many heads of state may be at now or soon. They are talking round the issue without daring to mention the dreaded words 'peak oil'. GW talks about addiction and techno solutions, Blair talks about climate change. They are doing what they see is their best to begin appropriate actions and prepare 'us' for what may happen without confronting their populations, and the world, with the scary truth.

To some extent they may be right, and I'm sure they can rationalise it so. Consider what would happen if GW stood up and said "Peak oil is reality, it will happen soon and then we will have less and less oil and gas, evermore." What would happen to oil and gas prices? Economies? Industries? The dollar? Perceptions of foreign policies, especially US?

There also seems to be a general avoidance of reality and truth on most subjects that has infiltrated much of western populations, media, politics. This is particularly true within the US - I am horrified by the lack of real news in the mainstream US TV 'news' media. Most people have been on the soma (as in 'Brave New World') for decades now. Last August I wrote:

Peak oil brings the end of the 'American Dream', the US economic and financial systems have minimal chance of surviving it, the next 10 years will bring at best the halving of wealth of the american people, or halving US population, or maybe both, or maybe worse.

In the latter half of the 1970s the american people elected a truly honest president, it coincided with the last energy crisis. He set out what the USA must do to become virtually independent of foreign energy supplies. It never happened, he wasn't re-elected.

Had the american people, congress and senate supported Carter and implemented the energy policy that he spelled out very clearly the world would be very different today and peak oil would be at least a decade farther away. We would have time to change further and the US would already be at least half way on that positive road. But, as Carter said "There is no way to avoid sacrifice...". That didn't sound nice so the american people turned their back on truth, embraced illusion, and postponed the (then small) sacrifice. Thus was humanity and this planet betrayed.

To most people the truth will remain unacceptable, unseen, unspoken, until it becomes unavoidable.
I was at a presentation by Matt Simmons in
Aberdeen in Januaury. This question of public
and political awareness came up and how would
Society be able to fundamentally change course.
In the course of his answer he did comment that
he thinks this year (2006) will be the year
when PO becomes as big an issue as Global
Warming. I have no doubt he is correct, but
what happens then is anyone's guess. Probably a
year or two of denial, recession, political
confusion, blaming Greedy Oil Companies, OPEC
...all the usual suspects. etc. By the time we
as a society grasp the nettle, we will already
be on the slope... I am not very optimistic:
I get the impression that the systems (two party or parliamentary) are just not geared to think much more beyond the election cycle and that PO or GW will be
'somebody else's problem'. Look at it this way.
If a group of astronomers identified a big rock
and stated with great accuracy that it would
impact the earth in 10 years time and then
showed a picture on TV of said rock and an
orbital path with animation of impact then
Society would snap into action. The 'picture'
for global warming is not as easy to see or
grasp and open to manufactured dispute.
So too with PO at least this year and maybe next
You are addressing the US political system. This is a system with a maximal "future view window" of four years, the length of a presidency. Congress likewise has a similar short range view of the future. The Judiciary is not even concerned with the future, but the present and the past.

However, there is one organization with sufficient lifetime membership, forward looking vision and clout to confront this issue - the military. And it has given us a solution - the only kind it is capable of. And while many people disagree with our solution, to think that other countries are not or have not pondered similar military ways to obviate Peak Oil is silly.

And who funds the military?


However, you have a good point. Military folk have a good appreciation of both history and the necessity to prepare for 25 years ahead because they bet their lives on their ability to look ahead.

Interesting item on the feds and PO references an
e-mail from David, a professor of chemistry at an Ivy League university. David said:

    "It would be great if the Peak Oil crowd was as nuts as people say (ed: Oh yeah? Smile when you say that, pal). But I've looked at it as much as a non-oil specialist can look at it and still hold down a job. I concluded that it is a scary scenario. What is particularly problematic for me is that my training as a physical scientist helps me see the proposed alternative energy technologies for what they are -- a load of baloney in many cases.

    "I spent a particularly harrowing hour with a high-ranking official from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who answers directly to President Bush. He was not a tree hugger but he sure took Peak Oil seriously. I asked him for his best guess on the date and he said, '2010.' Of course, that answer is becoming a little too common for comfort. It is scary. We talked about the alternatives and he could not have painted a more gruesome picture. He also expressed utter amazement at the complete lack of attention to the issue."

Very interesting item.

The physical scientists (like David Goodstein, physicist and vice-provost at CalTech) get it.  They can see the thermodynamics of all the alternatives just don't cut it.  

Leanan, have you gotten Tertzakian's 'A Thousand Barrels a Day' yet? I'm pretty sure you were asking about it the other day. I think it is probably the best book on these subjects that has been written in a while. You'd like it.
Not yet, but I probably will eventually.  I'm way behind on my peak oil reading.  It's really amazing how many books on the subject have been published in the last year or so.
It is utterly amazing until you accept the near infinite ability of humans for avoidance and denial, then it becomes perfectly understandable.

There are other reasons, which I discuss a page scroll above (mite surprised no responses), which I conclude with: "To most people the truth will remain unacceptable, unseen, unspoken, until it becomes unavoidable."

Such is reality: it is this until it is not. Perhaps we can blame evolutionary psycho-chemico-biologico-whatever, but when we are honest we know that's just displacement activity for ourselves. We may be a product of our past, in its widest sense, but ultimately we cannot escape our own responsibility, also in its widest sense.

Sigh - 11:30 and I shoulda stopped reading TOD an hour and a half ago.  Now I'm depressed.  Time to throw on another load of wood, check on the kids and go to bed.  

It feels like there are several storms heading our way, and I don't see any way out.  But I still have that feeling of unreality too - tomorrow will seem perfectly normal.  I'll do normal things and deal with people who appear to have no idea.  Next week I'll go back to work and work out schedules and project plans, all based on the idea that the future will be like the past - no discontinuities.  But I don't believe that.

That is how it is and will be: the same until it changes, then one adapts. You already have a head start over at least 90% of the population, you are aware and understand the probable cause of whatever might happen.

Relax, you and yours will probably be more OK than most, and there is little you can do about most of the rest - damned chance can smite anywhere. So, sleep well and sleep easy, friend.

Twilight writes ... all based on the idea that the future will be like the past - no discontinuities.

Twilight, I agree with Agric and in fact Agric's response is a reason why there will be no sharp "discontinuities".

Even if the sheeple do catch wind of the Peak Oil crisis and start to stampede, there will be many herd dogs around the group to bark them down into submission. The so-called experts will fill the newspapers with editorials saying: "Well there you go again acting like emotional children. Calm down. Everything is under control. We have coal. We have scientists with incredible new technologies. We have a lot of people out there much smarter than you who are managing the situation. Just come down. The markets will provide. They always have."

The bottom line is that Nature abhors discontinuities. Systems develop momentums or inertias that keep them tending to going smoothly in the same direction even if they are hit  by some side impulses. There are 6 Billion people on this planet already going with the flow. The notion of "Peak Oil" is not going to sway the masses too much. (Going over the cliff will. But by then, it will be too late.) Sleep well anyway because we all need sleep. :-)

I find it mystifying that no one really "gets" that there was collusion at some level of the govt re 9/11.  Granted, there has been a lot of obsfucation and idiotic conspiracy mongerers but the FACTS are as clear as a bell.

Take a good look at AIPAC and some events leading up to the big day:

http://www.timesherald.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15114089&BRD=1672&PAG=461&dept_id=33380& amp;rfi=6



The "Middle East Roadmap" needed to be implemented to secure energy.  Occams razor - it is as as simple as that.  

Oh, here we go with the Jewish conspiracy. Get out of here before you get your ass seriously kicked.
The End of Dollar Hegemony

Before the U.S. House of Representatives

"The economic law that honest exchange demands only things of real value as currency cannot be repealed. The chaos that one day will ensue from our 35-year experiment with worldwide fiat money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or Euros. The sooner the better."

The knee jerk "jewish conspiracy" rebuttal is simplistic and quite frankly not the level of discourse one would expect from a supposedly non partisan site.  Why don't you check out the FACTS before giving your OPINION.
What facts? That there was no conspiracy except the one perpetrated by Al Quaeda. The "Jewish conspiracy" is a ridiculous notion advanced by racist Arabs who can't accept their hero, Osama's, vile perversion of their religion and eagerly accepted by American neo-nazis and bigots.

Discourse on this site? This site is about oil. You were the one who chose your first comment to post this anti-semitic garbage.

blah, blah, blah.  The thread is about government reaction to peak oil, earlier 9/11 was tabled, 9/11 began a resource war and so the comment is relevent.  

Tell me Mr "oil ceo"  have you even read the report - who said anti semitic???  

It's apparent that if any propagandistic incitements are being volleyed YOU are tossing them out.  

Please, respond to the FACTS and leave out the regurgitation of your hackneyed "opinion" until you have supplied yourself with the relevant background and can make an intelligent observation.  

Folks, your tone seems somewhat out of place when compared with the civil and reasoned debate normally found at TOD. By all means disagree but please do so with mutual respect and without personal abuse or shouting.

Thank you Agric.  "oil ceo" threatened me.  

"Get out of here before you get your ass seriously kicked. "

Maybe he should check links and stay on topic.

Tuesday should be quite interesting on the NYMEX w/ the Nigerian rebellion and the Iran / China Oil deal coming into play.

I have checked the links and I am on topic. It is just silly for you to respond this way. I could have told you much more about the issue before you brought it up. In fact I've read books on the subject, that's why I responded to you. Does it make any sense that I would make you so mad by reponding if I didn't know what I was talking about?

Why do you suddenly have a problem with me figuratively suggesting that you were going to get your butt kicked all the way back to Chattanooga? Why wasn't that a problem before? You're only response has been to get upset. Not to respond to my opinion, which you asked for, other that to call it hackneyed.

This conspiracy that the Israelis had first-hand knowledge about 9/11 has already been aired, investigated by the appropriate authorities and dismissed - the evidence you provided shows this. The Israeli art-students were part of a Mossad recruits' final training project that went bad. They were all caught. End of story.

There is in fact ten times as much evidence to suggest Israel had been warning the CIA repeatedly about an attack but the that those warnings went undeeded.

The story has never been covered up. That's why you know about it. And yet ironically the case rests on the notion that is has been covered up. How silly. Do you get that?

You are just upset because it hasn't gotten the attention your conspiracy-theory-loving mind thinks it deserves. Too bad. You took the conversation of a bunch of other conspiracy theories above in this thread as an opportunity to rehash this one again.

I made one major mistake - I should have just ignored you. Yours was the last post on a too-long thread yesterday, and if I hadn't said anything, it would still be the last one.

The Facts! Lighten up, dude.

I see it is pointless to present anything that interferes with "oil ceo's" agenda.

The effort to overcome the outright obsfucation, name calling, bluster and petty manipulation of this self appointed praetorian isn't worth it.

By the way,  I am an Int'l Banker in Houston via NYC after having spent over a decade in Europe.

Cheers from "chattanooga"

I am out of here!

You are so funny.