Thursday Open Thread...

Simply because it's just so thread-a-licious...

...but if you want a topic, how about this: "normative v. empirical, are they mutually exclusive?" (It just so happens this was one of the topics my grad students had to handle this week...but I would like to hear what you all think, especially with regard to the peak oil/energy framework.)

Jerome a Paris did a diary on China, Cement, and Peak Oil:

Based on TOD's coverage of same.

Can someone tell me what the difference is between the Light, Sweet Crude chart here and at

I copied these two images the other day:

This one was from TOD:

and this was from

They look like identical charts apart from the numbers at the side.

Which one is 'right'?

I think is for a future month.  I can't remember how far in the future, but IIRC, their chart isn't looking at the current contract.
Yes, but trading on two different months wouldn't look identical, would it?
the spread can actually vary quite a bit over months...
Not identical, but they often look very similar.  Since the same events affect futures contracts.  Especially since it's not very far in the future.

Here's the link to the chart, if it helps:^CLJ6&p=0&t=7&dm=0&vol=0&cb= 1138080214

yep, that's J6.  I don't know off the top of my head if that's April or May, but a search on CLH6 and CLJ6 would yield the answer.
Jan - F, Feb - G, Mar -H, Apr - J, May - K, Jun - M, Jul -N
Aug - Q, Sep - U, Oct -V, Nov -X, Dec - Z

April crude is about 75 cents higher than march -seasonal factors, etc (Natural gas months are very different depending on time of year, crude are very similar)

is it just me or are those letters completely without meaning?
No, it must be you. I'm pretty sure there's a "g" in February.
does have a different month?  Ours is H6, which is March.  The February contract closed on the 23rd of JAN...

or perhaps they are looking at April?  can you dig out the url from the source?

The L.A. Times reports on a well funded California initiative effort to put a tax on oil production, using the proceeds to fund alternative energy:,0,1984870.story?coll=la-headlin es-frontpage

Voters may get the opportunity this year to slap a new tax on oil pumped from California wells and use the money to pay for a variety of alternative energy programs aimed at cutting the state's petroleum use by 25% in a decade.

Hollywood producer and political activist Steven Bing and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla are bankrolling a campaign for a ballot initiative that, if approved, could raise as much as $380 million a year to develop alternative fuels.

The initiative, which would amend the state constitution, could face little difficulty getting a place on the November ballot because of public outrage over sky-high gasoline prices and record profits at oil companies. In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Bush endorsed alternative fuels as a way to decrease U.S. dependence on imported oil.

If it qualifies for the ballot, the initiative could set off another big-spending media slugfest with millions of dollars going to TV advertising, some of it likely to feature Hollywood stars.

A coalition of oil companies and anti-tax activists is already organizing a counter-campaign, arguing that the alternative energy initiative is "nothing more than a hidden tax which could cost consumers and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars every year in higher gasoline, diesel and jet fuel prices."

Bing declined to comment and Khosla was unavailable, but a spokeswoman for their campaign said the two men and their allies, who include university scientists, environmentalists and economists, expected to spend in excess of $10 million to "mount an aggressive, competitive campaign."


The new independent agency would earmark 60% of the money for programs designed to develop alternative vehicles and fuels to reduce gasoline and diesel use, 27% to pay for research at California universities, and the rest mainly to help companies put new products on the market.

The actual initiative text is here:

Pretty technical, but basically it sets up a board to distribute the funds, and lays taxes on all private oil production according to the following scale:

(a) One and one-halfpercent (1.5%)of the gross value of oil from $10 to $25 per barrel;
(b) Three percent (3.0%) of the gross value of oil from $25.01 to $40 per barrel;
(c) Four and one-halfpercent (4.5%) of the gross value of oil from $40.01 to $60
per barrel; and
(d) Six percent (6.0%) of the gross value of oil from $60.01 per barrel and above.
The initiative text argues that these taxes would not be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices because oil is a worldwide market and these taxes would not substantially increase the overall worldwide price of oil. It also has some language about the board watching for "price gouging" on the part of oil companies (passing these tax increases on to consumers is considered "gouging").
How are you doing? Are you, like me, dealing with a professional career on the one hand, and reading this site at night, thinking through the implications, and then waking up the next day again to plan a 5 year engineering project with ROI and thinking - "This is unreal"????

Successful engineering projects are characterized by a lot of passion in one or more key project leaders. When that passion is missing, it becomes a mechanical exercise in number crunching or software coding and a morass of mutual "I am waiting for this" excuses. Nothing gets done. The knowledge of peak oil is sapping the passion out of my projects. How are you guys coping with this? How do you deal with your vice presidents and marketing directors and others that can not afford to professionally acknowledge expensive energy?


Yes. I find in my law practice, although specific resource related issues are far from the matters I handle, that I am distracted by a lack of future.  For example, I need to move my office at least twenty miles into the nearest shire town.  Commuting costs will raise substantially in either case, but the real opportunities are a further thirty mile up the road.  Having done the fifty mile commute before, I resist.  The knowledge that oil prices may rise exponentially in the next two years changes the equation substantially.
I must confess that my main driver is presently the desire to continue sucking out a salary until TSHTF.  I don't think it will last very long, and I'm not motivated to move to another job where I'll be low man on the pole - especially with a commute.  But this also due to a large number of other issues relating to a poorly managed organization, and with being bored to tears after moving into a management position.  I've posted before on the un-reality of the plans and projections I hear in planning meetings.  But that's the case with most people - no one is preparing, and it will hit us head on.  If I could manage to find something closer to home and/or related to energy conservation or alternative sources, I would be very motivated.  I'm part of the pool of engineering resources that could be tapped if there were any leadership or will in this country.
I have similar frustrations. On one hand I would like to leave the corporate world and go to paramedic school. But that means a year of working as an EMT and taking a couple of classes I need. Then a year of school. I am on at least a two year time line without much income. But then I think about peak oil. Am I better off staying in the corporate world trying to save as much as I can and trying to prepare? It's a toss up. I go through the same with my rental property. I always wanted to build a real estate portfolio. But I am convinced we are getting ready to move into an oil price induced recession that we won't recover from. So I am selling the property. The things I would do/plan to do are not the same as those when viewed through peak oil. Not exactly a project planning issue like you asked, but similar.  
You raise some very good points. Don't discount the fact that the knowledge you would get from paramedic school would come in very handy if/when TSHTF. As I make plans and decide what course to take there is the aspect of weighing how valuable the result of those choices will be if things were to go downhill fast.
It's this psychological effect of "going backwards" that I have been thinking about a lot lately...been trying to pull together some mass psychology literature on it.  I cannot imagine that anyone, once they actually see that peak oil might not go all that well, does not start really "going through the motions," if not hoarding and planning for a different future.  Though, I must admit, I haven't started thinking about the Unabomber shack quite yet.

Societies do not go backwards well.  Progress, both for the many economic chairlegs we are already missing that requires it, and for the psychological effects a lack of it would have on humanity (you think psychotropics are overprescribed NOW?!?!?!?!), well, it's kind of important...

I have also been trying to think of an analogue of other past societies (going back to the black death post) that actually saw the precipice coming.  Is it the case that they just ran faster toward it, or can we come up with any that actually put on the brakes in time before going to their own destruction, even if it was a slow jaunt down a hill?

Easter Island might be an example.  A paper called
An Anatomy of the Prehistoric Rapa Nui Cultural Collapse
describes a two-phase collapse:

Several lines of evidence now support a two stage prehistoric cultural collapse. The evidence comes from the statue quarry at Rano Raraku, the roadways leading from it, and two types or patterns of ahu recycling and construction.

The first stage seems to have lasted no longer than a generation or two, perhaps 50 years, during which the Islanders themselves knew they were in short supply of resources, in particular, trees. The traditional culture tenuously held on to the previous habits but knew they were going to have to prepare for a new order. Culturally unable to reforest, priorities redefined statue form, statue moving, ahu construction, and disposal of the dead. At least two major ahu illustrate large scale cooperation in their new constructions though the workmanship is very poor and incomplete. Several others show a similar reduction in workmanship but maintain large scale cooperation.

The second stage seems characterized by a free-fall collapse in cultural organization, dominated by conflict, the formation of discrete districts, territorial to the family level, warfare, and ultimately cannibalism. It is proposed that this change reduced population to a level commensurate with the carrying capacity of the defoliated island, slowly leaching and eroding soils. Small family-built semipyramidal ahu became the norm and multiple whole body burials were inserted. The Tangatamanu cult resulted from the cultural need for a time of truce, an annual temporary escape from what may have been the constant threat of revenge warfare.

Interesting that the first phase of collapse was marked by greater social organization - larger groups working together - but poorer results (due to the lack of resources).  It ties in nicely with Tainter's findings of more centralized control as collapse approaches.

The masses are never going to "get it" the media will continue to push that "Technology will find the answer we just have to get through this winter". I think we are going to simply slide backwards with Utopia just around the corner.

One things for sure its an exciting time to be alive:)


"May we live in exciting times!"

Indeed.  I have personally lost all interest in work, except as as a place to collect a paycheck. I do just enough to not get by, nothing more. Instead, I spend a good deal of my time reading TOD and similar sites (Energy Bulletin, Kunstler, etc), doing research, pricing PV arrays, and occasionally ordering survival gear (like a PV/crank powered radio) online, and trying not to get overly pessimistic.
I've about given up on trying to wake the sleepers from their self-induced trance. Some get it. Most are clueless. Others become antagonistic when presented with facts.  My wife, god bless her soul, is actually excited about the prospects of a different society, a different way of living, and helps me plan for the days ahead by reading up on canning, planting fruit trees, and buying books.

Sometimes I think people will eventually wake up.  Today, I doubt it.  Among the stories in the news: National Review calling Bush the "James Frey of energy policy," and complaining that Big Oil is being demonized like the tobacco industry was.  And NIMBY-ism run amok: people are sabotaging a farm that's supposed to produce ethanol.  They're afraid it will create traffic and odors, and attract pests that will "ruin their quality of life and decrease the value of their homes."
Actually I've found only an increase in the number of alcoholic tourists visiting the area.
Prof. Goose,

My father-in-law who is a retired (and enlightened) minister says we are headed for another Dark Ages.  It not just what we belive that is the problem.  It is how those belief's are being used by powerful people for gain.  Maybe weave that concept into your future post.

My father-in-law and I have amazing discussions with great consensus, even though he comes from a very spritual viewpoint and I from a logical scientific one.  They are not mutually exclusive but are made to seem that way by many Conservative Christians today.

Excellent point. As people say, PO is a social problem as much as anything...And I think a "spiritual problem". Rampant materialism is fueled, I think, by people desperately trying to "fill that inner void" with stuff. Bigger better faster more stuff. Lots of people don't identify with who they are or what they do, but with their own posessions. Should be obvious that this never has, and never will make one happy. It will be a grim day for these folks when the spigot of endless new shiny stuff is turned off, or even turned down.

I have found a lot more freedom and happiness the past few years by trying to get rid of "stuff" and make my life simpler. Planting a garden, playing with the cats, riding my bike etc. Can't claim perfection, but it seems like the right path. BTW I am a scientist, not really attached to any particular religous viewpoint.

Simplifying one's life does have profound advantages. OK, I do get a great kick out of just paying lesser taxes after having deliberately toned down my lifestyle to spend more time painting the sunrises and having scaled back my expenses in the process.  I learned a lot from my cat.  I for one agree totally with you.  
a very interesting point indeed.
Well, Stuart's slow squeeze has made me feel a bit better about the future.

I'm a software engineer for a company that writes software for a primary industry (meat processing). Since our customers are less likely to disappear in a slow squeeze, I'm not too pessimistic about the job. I'm also one of three managers under the two directors out of a company of 20, so I'd like to think that I'll still be here even if half the company disappears.

I have to try hard to keep focussed on doing the job because I'm reliant on the wage (and the 6.5% of the annual profits) to help me carry out some plans to mitigate the Peak Oil effects (solar power, insulate our home more, buy fruit trees for the garden, etc.).  That's what driving me now.  I want to make sure that we cushion any post-peak effects.

In my projects, I keep wanting to stuff in more insulation, make the windows smaller and make room for coal bins.  I see these by now very common windowless offices, with only artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation, and think, "a future storage closet."  And all these buildings with NG heating!

The clients, the end users, generally want more insulation.  They're starting to get that.  But the builders aren't there yet, because the insulation costs more every day.

I do a lot of retrofit, so potentially, I could have a lot of work as people modify their buildings to adapt to the slow squeeze (or whatever).  But I wonder if it will really happen that way, or if people will modify on the cheap.

To some extent, I think that as morose as this line of thinking, it's overly optimistic. All that's being thought about is the effect on our own personal lives, and how we might escape the worst effects. But I believe that the worst effects will be not from the effects of peak oil on our way of life, but rather the political and geopolitical ramifications---war, repression, anarchy. We all want to survive, grow vegetables, not get irradiated, and above all have some hope that our kids will be able to survive.

I don't think there's going to be anyplace to hide. I think that eventually we will all be forced to become political. Otherwise, we'll all just go down killing each other. There's no other way out. I'm not advocating some particular political platform---except for the idea that we don't kill each other for oil or follow those who propose that we do. But those that do rule the roost for now, and I believe have seen but just the beginning. If there weren't such a hostile political climate, adapting to peak oil could even be fun. It's the mutual slaughter stuff  that is hard to get used to.

Davebygolly, I recommend that you read this essay by Alexandr Dugin:

I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.

Afraid not, Sr, but thanks anyway. Way too deep.
Very interesting. I must ask, what side are you on? Do you feel that when society breaks down to the point where it can no longer offer substitutes for the primordial feeling of agression that it will burst forth?
Locally I advocate a particular political platform. But winning every election  is not what is most important for me to live in a healthy society when I grow old. If our group has power for a very long time it will probably become as corrupt as the current group who takes much of its power for granted. There is allways need of an opposition and power have to change hands, democracy needs to be exercised to work.
Well and honestly said, Francois. It's hard to feel there is a point to many jobs and activities that have a long term horizon when you know there is a high probability of massive change within their timescale.

I don't really have an answer for you except to say you are not alone. Probably most people here have struggled with it and found the solution that best fits their perspective, or are still fumbling for it. Struggle with the problem, things will clarify and you will begin to see positive actions to take.

Being self employed I have a lesser problem, but my income has diminished. I'm adapting by growing my own food, saving seeds, learning skills that will be useful like medicinal use of herbs. I've been augmenting money by spread betting on financials, can be up and down but overall positive so far, and it's something I can do from anywhere while the net and financial markets exist ( = as long as money is relevant).

You must find the path that best fits you and your family responsibilities. If you are free of ties you could change everything, even if you have a family you could join a sustainable community (or even start one if you live in or move to a viable location).

First you need to decide how bad and how fast YOU think things might change. If you think slowly and / or softly then you will probably have time to change once things begin. If you think things could be hard and fast then perhaps it is time for a more serious think, for the start could be quite soon.

Here is a different view, which many of you may not like. There is no guarantee that the world as we know it will come to and end  especially not within a five year timeframe. I am an active follower of this site, a believer in peak oil and a Stuart Staniford groupie. But I do not think it is reasonable to think that your current life is doomed or to take radical chances that could affect you and your family based on speculations about possible future doom.

I believe that anyone who is liquidating their current lifestyle to prepare for a future of certain collapse is taking a massive risk. To the degree that their are others, particularly children, involved in these decisions, it could be highly destructive and irresponsible. I am open to the counter argument that doing nothing is equally irresponsible. I don't belong to either camp. My point is that the future is uncertain and there is a chance you find yourself living in a hole with a stack of gold coins and canned food for the next twenty years while the world somehow adapts.

Some commenters seem to say that they are becoming unable to perform in their job because of fears of imminent doom from peak oil or climate change. analyse the situation. One one hand, I think this is like any other distraction that comes from outside; family problems, money, etc. Sometimes, you just have to leave them outside the door. I would suggest, without evidence or reference to any specific case, that the cause could be underlying psychological factors as much as reality.

One the other hand, there are major changes facing us in the future. Based on your perceptions of the probability of various scenarios, it is rational to adjust your lifestyle to be best prepared. There are some steps that are gradual. Moving investments towards alternative energies, taking classes or new job opportunities that you are confident have a future, balancing your debt levels, etc.

I don't think worrying for the sake of it has much benefit. I believe that many of those that run for the hills will crawl back later, may regretting it. No one knows what will happen and making life changing decisons based on a hunch is a big bet. Maybe you will be right, but maybe you will be wrong.

I read this site everyday. I have been moving my career and lifestyle gradually in a direction that can be sustained post peak, but will also keep me happy if we transition to a new fuel system and everything turns out OK. I don't know what will happen and don't write off collapse. But I am doing what I can to adapt and don't spend too much time fretting.

The knowledge of peak oil is sapping the passion out of my projects. How are you guys coping with this?


It sounds like you are going through a psychological phase.
Sure, the books tell you about denial, anger, depression and acceptance ... but that's mostly book theory. Everybody goes through their own private hells and coping mechanisms.

OK so you are bummed out today and feel there is no future.
This too will pass.

This world is filled with many parallel universes.
Today, as you moped over Peak Oil,
Somewhere in a hospital, a young mother gave birth to a baby. It was a most joyous moment filled with hope for a bright future and dreams about all sorts of possibilities.
Across the hall, in another ward, an old man took his last draw of air as pneumonia ravaged and drowned his lungs. It was an ugly and horrid day, finally ended in grief and a last gasp realization that this whole life is nothing but a brief joke (on us). Around the corner, a surgeon was stitching up a gang member's knife wound. It was a violent day, full of hate, bitterness and maybe understanding about what it means to have bought in to the herd mentality of the gang.

So what does that have to do with your loss of passion for engineering?

Maybe tomorrow, you will wake up with a new design etched into the back of your head, a way to save the world. Don't give up on us yet. There are many parallel universes and many parallel answers.

Yes, I'm kind of in the same kind of place myself.  Although I do believe that we have some tough financial times ahead. Our government here is NZ is currently talking about the economy having a soft landing, so I'm betting things are probably worse than that.

I do think people need to take stock of where they are at with their careers.  Anyone whose job depends on the discretionary income of others will be most affected, I think.

I also think most people would benefit from reading through Ted Trainer's "The Simpler Way".  While some would find it too radical to implement all of his recommendations, there are always little ideas that you can take away to help simplify your life.  The Rocky Mountain Institute's "Energy" library section, and  especially the "Home Energy Briefs" category, have some great documents about making your home more efficient.  In my opinion energy will be more expensive in the future, so efficiency can be easily justified financially.

I try to think positively about Peak Oil as much as I can. There are some silver linings even on the darkest of Peak Oil 'clouds'.

Finances are the most confounding aspect for me.  I've been saving and investing for retirement since I started working, and thought I was doing pretty well, but now...  I'm still putting money in my Roth IRA, 401(k), etc., but I wonder if I will ever be withdrawing that money...or if it will be worth anything when I do.  

I'm reluctant to buy a house for a variety of reasons.  The housing market is bubbly in my area - I've seen home values crash 50% here in the past.  My employer is considering moving to a lower-cost area.  I'm not sure if, when TSHTF, a farm in the country or an apartment in the city will be better options.  My family lives far away, in an area I suspect will be a terrible place to ride out peak oil, and I'm torn between joining them and hoping I can convince them to join me.  

I need a peak oil-aware financial planner.

Excellent post!

Personally, my way of dealing with uncetainty is to assume that there is a 50% chance of a major dieoff within five years and a 50% chance of business pretty much as normal for the next fifty years. Either outcome is unlikely, but I am prepared for both.

For decades I have worked on the accumulation of useful skills as a way of preparing for the worst. It is easy, for example, to get a fine bow and superb arrows; it takes time and much practice to become an expert bow hunter. Gardening is another example: heirloom seeds are easy to get and amazingly cheap, but what is hard is figuring out how to beat the pests without pesticides and what grows best in my particular soil and climate. My most brilliant move was to get a property with some scores of sugar maple trees on it and learn how to do sugaring; now I have a valuable and renewable good for trade, regardless of what happens in the future.

Good points, Don, and an excellent plan regarding the maple trees.
I think your analysis is good.  There most certainly are risks in reacting poorly in either direction.  If I spent all my money on survivalist gear and canned food and then cannot sent my daughter to college, this would be a bit of a problem.  One could make up scenariios in either direction all day.

Seeing that the people I work with are bissfully unaware of possible major problems does nothing to give me confidence in the decisions they make.  But in my particular case I didn't have much confidence in my company anyway.  The biggest effect for me career wise is that I have re-evaluated my plans.  I'm not really looking to change from my present situation into another that is similar, so I have scaled back my job hunt.  I'm focused instead on how to make a living closer to my home, which may entail a career change.  I'm thinking more seriously about starting something on my own, or with a few others, and I would love for it to be energy related.  It will take some time to accomplish this, but then the job market for engineers stinks anyway.

When I'm at work, my motivation to do a good job comes from my own desire to do what is right, and that I care about the people I have worked with for a very long time.  But I don't get worked up about it anymore, as I fundamentally believe that my present employment situation is temporary regardless of my performance, on a scale of say 5yrs or less, due to factors both internal and external.   So I'm basically one foot out the door, it's just that I have no idea what's on the other side.

You make an important point here Jack. One can choose to abandon modern life completely, but that is a very serious decision to make, especially if there are children involved. Alternatively, one can try to live flexibly with a foot in both worlds, thereby having access to some of the benefits of each at the cost of doing a lot more work. This is the option we have chosen, partly in order to hedge our bets in the face of an uncertain future (and partly because we genuinely love the rural life).

My personal philosophy is to minimize the consequences of being wrong. If we were to chose modernity and peak oil caused cascading system failure, it would be a disaster. If we were to move even further into the country and adopt a neo-Amish lifestyle, then our children would have a sub-standard education in many respects and we would be cut off from the intellectual culture we value. Peak oil (or financial crisis, which is an even bigger concern for me in the short term) might make that a price worth paying in advance, but there is no guarantee. I would hate to have drastically narrowed my children's options prematurely.

Basically, we have been seeking a dynamic balance between two very different lifstyles - a balance which provides quite a reasonable degree of control over the necessities of our own existence, while being sufficiently flexible that it can be shifted in one direction or the other as new information becomes available. My partner and I work as power system consultants and are trying to build a renewable energy business (biogas and microhydro). We offer expertise in energy policy and legislative review (me) and also in simulation and control engineeering as applied to power systems at the transmission level and at the level of individual generators (my partner). One of our children is training to be an artist, and another an opera singer. All of that is very much grounded in modernity.

At the same time, we raise sheep, alpacas, chickens and sled dogs on our small farm. We live in the country, but close enough to major population centres that good schools are accessible and the occasional trip to town for work or for pleasure is not out of the question. We grow our own vegetables and cut our own hay (with a little help from our friends). We have our own water, sewage system and power generation. Our recreation tends to be inexpensive country pursuits all year round, and our children are learning many traditional skills as well as school-based intellectual ones. Our third child wants to be farmer. We carry no debt and can live quite cheaply as we provide for many of our own necessities. We have no financial investments as we are convinced that a deflationary financial crisis will destroy many asset classes.

We feel we have done our personal best to take control of an uncertain situation, and that is psychologically empowering. Life is hard sometimes and we don't always get much sleep, but having a reasonable grasp of what we are facing as a society allows for psychological preparedness, and that - mental acceptance of a higher level of risk - is half the battle.

TOD is great for enhancing psychological preparedness in a logical and dispassionate manner, which is why I spend so much of my precious time here. It's a good antidote to the mass-hysteria I expect to overtake the unprepared masses in the next few years. That form of irrational panic (the polar opposite of and natural follow-on from the irrational exuberance of recent years) is my biggest concern for the next couple of decades, and the one I have the most still to do in order to prepare for.

Well said, Jack.

We all have responsibilies.  I wanted to head for the hills at first, but what's the point of that?  I like society, I like culture, and I like technology!  

On the other hand, I don't like consumerism, and rooting that out of my life is a big part of my preparations.  So this is good.

I know from personal experience that some people are predisposed to obsess over these issues.  On the other hand, depression can have external causes, and Peak Oil is one hell of an external cause. Besides, sometimes the only way out (of obsession) is through.

I second that.

Welcome to the club.

I try and use the information I learn here to bring some perspective to long term projects.  A focus on the energy costs really helps other people make decisions.  You don't have to convince them that we will peak, only that energy is going to get a lot more expensive.  Everybody now believes this after the last two years of increasing prices.  Build that into the plan.

As many have stated, don't give up.  Even with a lot of change we need unique ideas to solve problems.  Some wonderful ideas are not being implemented now because it is too early financially.  Just knowing there are options will help in the future.

Thanks for asking, Francois.  Yes, I definitely know what you mean.  I'm fortunate to have a good job that doesn't require uninterrupted attention right now, or I would be in trouble.  As it is, I am spending time monitoring this issue that I should rationally be using in studying to improve my credentials for advancement in my profession (Software).

One thing that makes this more difficult is that there is so much to know.  I have had to seriously study energy production and economics (20 hours a week?) just to understand the arguments on this site well enough to evaluate them.  Yes, I am obsessed.  But, I feel this may be the most important issue of our lifetimes, so how can I say "enough".

A personal difficulty I have is that I have this controlling urge.  Like, if I can learn enough, I can somehow make it all better.  Objectively I know that is false, but I don't want to let go, somehow.  

Two things help me; working on preparing, and most especially time with my family and friends.  Financial preparation and learning self-sufficiency skills give me a sense of control, that I am doing something.  Family reminds me to lighten up and get some perspective, and that I am loved.

I'm looking for new opportunities to use alternative energy sources coupled with high efficiency technologies and closed system reaction processes where possible to offset the expected fossil fuel price increases while simultaneously reducing emmissions and discharges to (hopefully) benefit the environment, improve the projects sustainability and achieve higher ROIs for my investors in shorter payout times, for which the expected increase in fossil fuel prices only makes use of these alternatives that much more attractive (if they ever were in the first place).  
I've lurked at TOD almost every day for awhile, but this is the first time I've felt compelled to post. I feel very much the same, the sense of helplessness in the face of PO and inter-related problems is overwhelming. I recently graduated from College and am living check to check so even if I had all the answers of what preparatory actions to take, would most likely not have the financial wherewithal to carry out the plan. Sometimes I question the wisdom of keeping such close tabs on PO news/facts/speculation as it seems to only be a kind of masochistic onanism but have always believed being well informed can only be a good thing. In any event, I commensurate with your feelings, if that helps any.
Couple of suggestions:
  1. Unplug the TV and limit computer access to current news to, say 30 min. a day. Most "news" is "noise."
  2. Ride your bike to the public library and read up on history, anthropology, how to fix things (e.g., bicycles), how to live a simple life (the books by Helen and Scott Nearing are, in my opinion, the best, with FIVE ACRES AND INDEPENDENCE by Kains a close second). Through interlibrary lending, you can even get very useful books of ethnographies from which you can learn how to make fish traps, for example, something that certain Native American tribes excelled at. Also, I think it helps much to read the best of the considerable "dieoff" fiction genre. Here, EARTH ABIDES, by George R. Stewart is head and shoulders above the rest, and LUCIFER'S HAMMER by Niven and Pournelle probably in second place. THE LONG LOUD SILENCE, by Wilson Tucker is also excellent but is hard to find. After you've done a lot of reading, follow your interests, and who knows where they might lead? Perhaps you will become a leading maker of fine crossbows as a sideline or main profession. Perhaps you will become a builder of wooden boats or a maker of low-tech windmills. Oh, and if you have to bike long distances, so much the better, because biking is good for the body, mind and soul.

Have fun!
I don't have to cope with it. I do feel sorry for you, however. I would try alcohol and valium for starters. A good movie to watch is, "On the Beach," starring Gregory Peck as a US submarine commander who surfaces in Australia after a global-super-power-allout-nuclear-Dr.-Strangelove-type-Armageddon. Dave would love it. It will teach you everything you need to know about how to "cope" in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

No, but seriously. You want to cope? Be glad you are one of those who "knows," brother. You were put here to guide the less fortunate. Get busy.

normative v. empirical, are they mutually exclusive?

No, I don't think so.  I think in the end all decisions are normative, but that does not mean they cannot be based on study of empirical data.  It's just that the empirical part only gets you so far.  Beyond that you're fooling yourself, or perhaps just delaying making a decision.  This is my approach with peak oil, in that I'm trying to learn as much as I can, but I fully expect that my decisions and actions will be made using normative judgment.

At my company, I am subjected to increasing amounts of "process" - it appears to be our best product.  And I've wrestled with this for a long time, because obviously one needs a certain amount of effective processes to make things work.  It's not all quackery.  But it seems that ultimately all these efforts end up end up trying to eliminate human judgment, and I have come to believe that good judgment - the normative part - is precisely what makes people effective and their work valuable.  

This ties in beautifully with my comment above. Process substituting for passion and judgement. It is a study in itself as to why process is held up as  "If only we had more or better process, we dont need passion or insightfull judgement". It is a symptom of the times we live in.

You sound like a person who is tormented by the fact that your brain started "thinking" again and started "questioning" the stuff that slips past most people as situation normal.

Maybe knowledge of Peak Oil made you start questioning things. The corporate management gurus come into the meeting room and start babling about new "process" and re-engineering our re-engineered selves. Am I close to target? (Not really sure what "process" or system operations management approach you refer to. Every company has their own language. But bullshit is bullshit, whether it's Enron spin or Ford's Way Forward or GM's Way into the Wayback machine or whatever.)

As the management heads babble on, you start thinking to yourself: "What is wrong with these people? Don't they know Peak Oil is coming? Don't they realize this new 'process' is a meaningless gesture?"

Well no. They don't. They are in their world. You are in yours.

In regard to the discipline of economics, normative and behavioral (empirical) economics are complementary concepts. One of the huge weaknesses of traditional mainstream economics is that during the twentieth century it was almost entirely normative. By way of contrast, Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Marshall did magnificently by integrating the two. Indeed, Smith as professor of Moral Philosophy was as interested in description as he was in prescription (also true of his early work, "Theory of Moral Sentiment," the best seller to which "Wealth of Nations" was the sequel).

Behavioral economics has tested the premises of normative (mainstream) economics and found them less than perfectly correct. Whether assumptions of rationality and related topics in today's normative economics are close enough to reality to save mainstream models is a question on the front burner.

Personally, I am a disciple of Herbert Simon and believe in bounded rationality and the concept of "satisficing" [dreadful and misleading word] as described in the famous book by March and Simon. Also, as a sociologist I believe that mainstream economists have missed the boat by sneering at "meer description" and in one case saying that economists would be no better than botanists (and I love botanists!) if they focused on the empirical.

Another good attempt to integrate the normative and the empirical is to be found in the work of Schumpeter, and also in the instituionalists, from Veblen to the present day. Yet another good example of the integration of normative and behavioral is to be found in the work of one of my old profs, Daniel McFadden.

well stated Don.  

I have been thinking of putting together of the satisificing (and related social psychology) research as's not related very well to my own research agenda, so I don't know it all that well, but every time I read something or go to a conference, there's satisficing.  IT's probably something I should know more about.

As a grad student (fulltime for eleven years, oh what fun!) at U.C. Berkeley I did bibliographic research on topics related to decision theory, and my method was unusual but highly effective.

There were some forty independent libraries on the huge Berkeley campus back in the sixties (Ah, what a decade to be at UCB--but the fifties were good too.), and what I did was to ride my old $15 Raleigh 3-speed bike up and down the hills to all the libraries and to talk to department chairmen, etc. about where the best articles were to be found. What were my results? Astonishing. Nobody had read anything outside their own discipline. The psych people had a social psych subdepartment, but those dudes knew absolutely nothing outside of publications in psych journals, of which there were few. The sociologists were equally bad, and to avoid profanity I shall omit the political scientists. But guess what a pleasant surprise I found as I visited the 27th library in a little temporary building left over from World War II: A fabulously good library and intelligent and knowledgeable profs in the engineering department. With hindsight, it became obvious: Engineers have to know how to make good decisions, or bridges fall down . . . or the Twin Towers collapse for no good reason.

The Business Administration department was way better than the Econ department when it came to serious examination of decision and organization theory.

In my opinion the most serious problem we face is not peak oil or global warming: It is organization. We do not know how to organize very well. There has been little progress in theories of organization or decision-making (despite thousands of publications and some Nobel Prizes) during the past fifty years, and that fact scares me.

I'd like to see our brightest people go into organization and decision theory areas, because if we can figure out how to organize, not only will we flourish past the end of fossil fuels . . . . but then the dreams of the 1940s and 1950s science fiction writers can be realized: The stars will be ours.

I'd like to see our brightest people go into organization and decision theory areas, ...

I have very bad news for you, your wish has been granted.

The "bright" people did go into those areas.
They work for Madison Avenue.
They work as lobbyists on K Street.

They learned how to manipulate the masses
and "organize" the masses so that the sheeple engage in "decision making" that brings profit and power to the elite who hire our brightest (namely those who ply their skills in organization control and decision control from their fancy offices on Madison Ave and K Street).

Alas, you are correct about the practioners of psychology. However, what I want is for the really bright people to go into theory--maybe going back 2,500 to the origins of Greek philosophy.

Plato asked ALL of the right questions. Because he was a genius, he also recognized that he did not have most of the right answers. Aristotle also asked all of the right questions, and he got more right answers than his teacher, Plato, had. For example, Aristotle explained quite lucidly why pure systems such as democracy or monarchy inevitably self-destruct. He advocated a mixed system to avert these problems and got into empirical research by having his students go to some dozens of Greek cities and collect written copies of their constitutions. Then he critically compared and contrasted these constitutions to try to figure out what worked and what did not work. When the library at Alexandria was burnt for the last time, the last copy of Aristotle's findings on these topics went up in flames (or so it has been speculated). Damn shame. Nobody as smart as Aristotle has been asking all the right questions for the past 2,400 years.

Aristotle understood that everything was connected to everything else; his first love was marine biology, and from a biologist's perspective one can go far in many directions. He knew all about collapse of societies from destruction of topsoil, knew of the essential importance of population policy, worried at length about what to do about poverty and the undue concentration of wealth and came up with answers that made good sense. Brilliantly, he tackled the most difficult issues, such as what should be the qualifications to vote, and why.

Did he make mistakes? Heck yes. But consider this: For Aristotle the topics of ethics and politics were considered to be one big ball of wax. In many ways our thinking has dengerated over the millenia.

Oh, BTW, both Plato and Aristotle believed law schools to be criminal enterprises, because they taught tricks to the young to convince people that the weaker argument was the stronger. Banish the lawyers . . . excuse me, I mean sophists. And the difference between a sophist and a lawyer?

The lawyer has a degree to prove what he has learned.

And what is a politician in our society?

Often a failed lawyer.

Have you read E.O. Wilson's "Consilience"? I highly recommend its theme that we need to cross disciplines to come up with answers.
Excuse my vast ignorance but could you explain exactly what you're saying in opposing normative and empirical in the context of peak oil?

Since my regular bias is what the data shows, I'd like a fuller explanation of what the opposition you are setting up is so I may think about it further.

thanks, Dave

your ignorance is not at all vast Dave, as you have demonstrated many times in your posts and comments.

I bring up this juxtaposition of normative versus empirical for a couple of reasons.  But, first let me define my terms.


adj 1: relating to or dealing with norms; "normative discipline"; "normative samples" 2: giving directives or rules; "prescriptive grammar is concerned with norms of or rules for correct usage" [syn: prescriptive] [ant: descriptive] 3: based on or prescribing a norm or standard; "normative grammar" [syn: prescriptive] 4: dealing with or based on norms; "a normative judgment"


adj 1: Relying on or derived from observation or experiment; 2: Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment.

For instance, (from a wiki) jurisprudential theory is usually divided into two major modes of analysis: analytic/empirical jurisprudence, which studies what law "is," and normative jurisprudence, which studies what law "ought to be."

One of the things I think we do here at TOD, perhaps better than many, is provide an empirical case for our arguments, and then we use evidence to both edify and disconfirm other folks' hypotheses...strengthening the body of knowledge that we have here in our collective experience by trying it in the empirical world.  It's one of the ways we are very "different."

So, I leave all of you with a ponderance or two:

  1.  How much of the peak oil movement is empirical and how much of it is normative?  

  2.  What are the varying motivations for those involved in varying facets of the peak oil/energy scene?  Are they normative and/or empirical?  Is one more influential than the other in this crowd?  Why?
I used:

Normative: subjective, value laden, emotional

I often think of "normative" as meaning "ought to be..." but those terms are related...
Hmm - I don't do "ought to be" anymore, mainly because what I think ought to be is so far from what is, and apparently pretty damn far from what most other people think should be.  I'm mostly in a reactive/defensive mode now, trying to figure out how to be best prepared for whatever may be coming.  But my kids will grow up knowing what I thought ought to be, and hopefully sharing some of those views.
But you also said this:
I think in the end all decisions are normative, but that does not mean they cannot be based on study of empirical data.  It's just that the empirical part only gets you so far.  Beyond that you're fooling yourself, or perhaps just delaying making a decision.  This is my approach with peak oil, in that I'm trying to learn as much as I can, but I fully expect that my decisions and actions will be made using normative judgment.
which is exactly right.

Here's my favorite example: you can make all the empirical measurements of a swimming pool you want. How deep is it? How cold is the water? How high is the diving board? But when your toes are dangling off the edge of the board you have to make a normative decision about whether you dive in or not.

Well, that answers my question, thanks. A normative "what ought to be" view is prevalent here at TOD in most cases I've seen--we should adopt this technology, conserve, etc. However, this represents a major departure from reality. Your question goes to the inevitable conducting of "business as usual" reflecting the empirical realities. The normative stuff that TOD contributors often put forth give me (some) hope but seem like pie-in-the-sky to me and don't often reflect the hard transitions that will be made in the future.

My opinion is that the data plays itself out, crises are not anticipated and then there's a mad scramble to get ourselves out of whatever mess we find ourselves in. I try to stick with strictly empirical views of what's going on in the world. I hardly ever post on what we should be doing although I know in many cases what that should be (eg. Coal Gasification with Carbon Sequestration) for US/China Power Plants. I did indulge myself a bit when I wrote about Pond Scum or Planet Savers? about algae farming.

best, Dave

Well, coal gasification has the big empirical advantage that you could actually start tomorrow if you wanted to.  If time is a constraint, then it would be both normative and empirical.
The Professor's Homework assignment:
1. How much of the peak oil movement is empirical and how much of it is normative?

A: When we finally see the global peak in our rear view mirrors, then, at long last, it will be "empirical". Until then it's just "normative."

On the other hand, as we scan past one country and the next that has already peaked, then on a country-by-country basis, Peak Oil is clearly "empirical". The markers are there.

This "empirical" versus "normative" debate seems to be similar to the kind you play with yourself as you drive through a cemetery, passing one tombstone after the next. Each grave marker is empirical evidence that "it" happens. But when it comes to the normative pondering over what "ought to happen", well that's different. "IT" ain't going to happen to me, and even if it does, it will be way off in the far far future. There is a good example of "normative" modeling.

With some linguistics background I would say that normative is the opposite (or counterpart) of empirical, but not the opposite of descriptive. Linguistics, especially grammatics, is all about norms and normative phenomena. (Linguists aren't concerned about what can be said but which utterances are correct, according to a native speaker's intuition.) A normative theory cannot be falsified on the basis of spatiotemporal occurrences; I can utter or write an ungrammatical sentence (e.g. "Man the woke up."), but it doesn't falsify any rule-sentence in the theory about the English language (in this case "The definite article 'the' precedes the noun it specifies."). Still, linguistics as a discipline is all about description. A grammatician's goal is to describe the rules of a language. If a linguist is fluent in the language he is trying to describe, he doesn't need any statistical data about the language to define the rules, the "core" grammar. We all already know the rules of all the languages we are fluent in: We have an intuitive knowledge about if a given sentence is grammatical or not.

In natural sciences and in empirical sociology and psychology the intuitive approach does not get us very far. In normative disciplines, especially logic, mathematics, linguistics, semiotics and philosophy, the intuitive knowledge about normative phenomena is all we have, so we have to build on that.

well said.

I was merely attempting to drop in a little epistemological thinking into this post, to get folks to ponder these angles.  We are mostly scientists of some sort around here, and that's why the arguments are usually so well constructed.  Usually the best arguments are normatively derived (they matter because they come from what ought to be) but empirically argued...but that's not to say that this is the only way to do things, eh?  :)

Prof. G.,

Very interesting discussion. This question between normative and empirical was central to my own research in history. As you know, I was trained as a medievalist. I spent a lot of time exploring political power. The medievals divided political power into law and governance. Law, for them, was what we would call empirical, since human law was merely a branch of the law of nature and could be discerned through scholarly effort. Governance, for them, was the normative part. After all the lawyers, theologians, natural philosphers and other learned experts advised the king as to what the law was in any given matter, it was the king's job as governor to decide what to do.

"We are mostly scientists of some sort around here"

Can you prove that? I would guess the membership is more diverse.

About the State of the Union.

It seems to me(normatively speaking) that the energy buzz or excitement which the listeners came away with is related to switchgrass.  Any merit to this as a non polluting partial or full replacement for carbon emitting fossil fuels?

I'm going to plant switchgrass around my abiotic oil rigs.
which will be protected by your Corsi scarecrows.  (yeah, he'll scare birds away).
Speaking as an chemical engineer and not any kind of agricultural specialist, it's really way too early to tell.  What's been done so far compared to the scale required is as producing one bottle of beer at home to one of Budweiser's vat operations.  Any kind of process design or cost estimate is years off at the very least.

All you really know for sure at this point is that it will probably be more expensive than producing ethanol from corn, because the harvesting, materials handling, and biological processing of cellulose is more involved than corn sugar and starch.  On the other hand, it may be able to use land that doesn't have the water or soil quality for corn.  So who knows?  Somebody's got to do a pilot plant size operation to find out.

Google biomoss ethanol and pretty soon you'll find some interesting numbers on the successful large-scale production of biomass ethanol in Russia--on a large scale--for several decades. It works and has been working for a long time with relatively crude and unchanging but effective technology, a typical Russian approach.
Basil Fawlty: "Don't mention the switchgrass! I think we got away with it"

Seriously, please don't start another discussion thread about switchgrass when we have just finished a thread in this post with over two hundred comments, containing nesting down 14 levels and a great deal of animosity.

I suggest you read all the 200-odd comments in that post before asking any more questions here.

Lets just leave it as: Yes, it is a possible solution, but nobody has done enough research to know if it will be a) economic, b) scalable, or c) sustainable.

Sorry, I don't want to be rude, I'd just rather we move on from that particular circular argument.

God almighty, don't make him read that!  A simple "nobody knows yet" will suffice.
I actually counted a 17-level nest at one point in the switchgrass thread you refer to.  But the recent record has got to be in the recent thread by westexas, which contains a 19-level nest!  Check it out!

If anyone knows of a thread that beats this, please let me know.

(I hope TOD readers will indulge my boyish fascination for this kind of thing; remember, I'm the guy who recently ordered samples of crude so I could look at them and then show them off.  I've already had one friend of mine look at me funny when I told her about it....)

The really weird thing is you're proud of her looking at you funny.
I think a lot of the frustration, and crankiness we've exhibited toward each other since the SOTU, has to do with the energy elements in the address being so close and yet so far.  It's frustrating when attention is focussed, but we know at the back of our minds that it won't be focussed for too long.

Switchgrass, as an element of a cellulosic ethanol future ... is a bit far off.

On the other hand, I think regardless of our fine technical arguments, biomass (including possibly switchgrass) will catch on in the next few years for home heat ... just because it will probably beat natural gas on price.

So, I think it is good that switchgrass gets a plug (how many people heard it for the first time this week?), but expect to see it sold by the bag before you see it by the gallon.


Rereading, I'm not sure I was clear.  My frustration is that we got two whole paragraphs in the SOTU on energy(!), but none of of the initiatives or the hundreds of millions of dollars apply to the current energy market.  It's all future tech, and then only if it gets funded, programs survive, technologies succeeed, etc., etc.

We're left to argue switchgrass, because we don't get to argue CAFE II, or how high the new gasoline pump tax should be.

And hence all the negative energy focused inwards, on 'ourselves' (the TOD members/contributors).
Yeah, I think we've been taken for a ride.  At the end of the day, I think those two paragraphs were supposed to take the nation's mind off $2.50/gal gasoline prices ... not solve them.
or even worse, switch the blame ANYWHERE but on the administration...namely ourselves and any other country that espouses terrrirrism.
"An oil tanker being loaded with fuel broke free of its dock in the Cook Inlet port of Nikiski and ran aground, U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

Officials at the refinery where the 575-foot Seabulk Pride was being loaded said the ship's cargo tanks were not breached, but that an unknown amount of fuel spilled into Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.

The tanker's owner, Florida-based Seabulk Tankers, Inc., told Tesoro that the ship's cargo tanks were not breached, she said.

According to the company's Web site, the Seabulk Pride is a double-hulled petroleum tanker with a carrying capacity of 342,000 barrels of oil."

"The double-hulled tanker was carrying more than 100,000 barrels of different oil products. There were no immediate reports of any leak."

Hope this isn't Valdez Part Deux.  

IMO, Russia may turn out to be the unexpected "surprise of the evening", delaying the PO party for several years. While trying to google the estimates of its remaining reserves I encountered this rather old, but relevant peace:

A similar peace is also informing how major Russion oil companies are unnoticably raising their reserve estimates:

So, officially we have 70 bln.bbl. (BP), but according to the industry itself Russia's true recoverable reserves are between 150 billion bbl. and 200 billion bbl.
So with 92 billion bbl. of commulative production, that would mean that the original recoverable reserves have been between 242 and 292 billion bbl. or Qt currently between 31.5 and 38%. Reserves in the order of SA are pretty consistent with the fact that in its best years Russia produced 12mln.bbd which is higher than SA's record of around 11 mln.bbd. If this is true then we may expect Russian production to rise significantly in the years to come, especially if they pour enough money, which they seem to be doing already.

Personally I pretty much deem these figures completely possible. Russia was a comunist country when the original estimates were made, and when it passed what appeared to be a Hubbert peak at this time. This means several important things:

  1. There was not enough incentitive to pump at max. Socialism is an uneffective economical system (I know it) After private financial interests begin to play instead of government, human inguenity finds hundreds more ways to get those profits. As long as sucking natural resources goes, capitalism has rivals.
  2. Certain technologies for EOR were not available/not implemented in ex-socialist countries because of lack of know-how (and political will plus hard currency to buy it).
  3. Most importantly: At the time there was not incentitive for correct estimation of the oil reserves. Geologists/oil producers preferred to underestimate the field sizes. Reason: "smaller" fields would mean lower production targets, which are set by the party. When afterwards producers achieved higher than the production targets this led to bonuses for the producers, geologists etc. but oil fields were never reevaluated.

Overall, it may be too early to say "Good bye SUVs, good bye"
Ooops typo, that should of course read:
"As long as sucking natural resources goes, capitalism has no rivals."
If capitalism is "the" problem, then how do you explain the fact that Eastern Europe under communism was roughly twice as hard on the environment (per capita) as capitalistic western Europe or capitalistic U.S. or even capitalistic Japan? And you cannot beg the question by pointing out that none of my examples are of "pure" capitalism, because no pure system of any kind has ever existed anywhere in the real world.

Looking forward to your response.

If capitalism is "the" problem, then how do you explain the fact that

How about Bhopol?  Or Gulf Minerals when they opted to not fix the scrubbers based on economics and contaimated the valley?  Or rivers catching fire in the US?  

All of the above are the actions of Capioltism working to maximize profit.   These days in the US, there are laws to hopefully prevent the off-loading of production expenses on the common space or on resources with no defined owner who would take action.

See video of BP-Amoco's Texas City, Texas USA refinery blast last year.

I can not recall an assertion of the sort "capitalism is the problem".

I mentioned that it was more effective economical system, hence the faster drainage of resources. Just an observation, mind you I'm not advocating socialism, once per a lifetime is more than enough. If I make a thought experiment of Soviet Union continuing to exist now, I'd say that it would have suffered much more from the resource shortage due to the implicit inability of the system to adapt changes.

But you know - you don't know what you win when you lose and vice versa. Russians did not have good life but left a huge portion of their resources unaquired and now are positioned to cash them much wiser.

The assertion was to show that no matter that capitalism is the best economical order known to humans it obviously has the shortfall of clashing with the environment - that is it is not perfect and obviously not the final answer or order. Isn't this what we are researching in this blog in the end?

But then again one theory has it that the collapsing Soviet Union went ape over pumping oil.
It seems likely that the Reagan administration, which took office in 1981, bearing in mind the economic havoc produced when US production peaked in 1981, followed by the Arab oil embargo and the "oil crisis" of 1973-74 and the deep recession that followed, decided to use the "oil weapon" to destabilize the USSR. Reagan embarked on a major military buildup, putting the Soviet Union under pressure to keep up. Meanwhile, declining prices after 1981 forced the USSR to pump more oil to supply its clients in Eastern Europe and to sell in world markets for hard currency. Then in 1985 Reagan persuaded Saudi Arabia to flood the world markets with cheap oil. Again, the USSR had to increase output to earn hard currency. This led to the second peak in 1988.
-- from Ayres

Hence, it wasn't unbridled capitalism on the Russian's part, but on our part.

In my opinion, capitalism vs. socialism is a false dichotomy. All real world advanced economies are mixed systems, mixtures of traditonal, market, and nonmarket or governmental systems of control. A left leaning system such as that of Cuba can work remarkably well, even under difficult circumstances. A strongly market-oriented system such as that of Singapore can perform spectacularly well, even in the absence of almost everything that is thought to be important for economic development (natural resources, large population base to permit economies of scale, ethnic homogeneity, etc., etc.)

The false issue is whether capitalism or socialism is good or evil. The genuine problems are to work out variations on themes that work. Capitalism is a theme that can work with great variations, from Denmark to Taiwan. Socialism is a theme that can work with variations from the Labor governments of England and Israel to the dictatorship of Castro. Indeed, one of the most remarkable and successful adaptations to a rapid decrease in use of oil is to be found in Cuba. It wasn't easy. People got hungry and literally lost a lot of weight, but they made the transition--and all this despite historically low sugar prices [on a scale of centuries] and the stupid trade embargo imposed on the U.S.

I did not read LevinK's commentary to be "Capitalism is bad".
It is, but he did not say as much.
What I think (good or bad) is that capitalism thrives on discovering and/or creating and maintaining an imbalance, then controlling the rebalancing of that imbalance.  When everything becomes equal, capitalism ceases to exist, as there is no longer an available potential to keep it running.  Communism appears to be the opposite, but I might not be getting it.
In their industrialised forms both systems are flawed since they rely on the notion of perpetual growth in a finite world for their continued existence.  Different ends of the same stick perhaps?
I saw the numbers for January were up.  But having read Westexas' posts, I couldn't help but remember they cut exports, even as they raised production.  
I think a lot of people will be surprised how Russia is quietly positioning for PO, or for an oil-scarce future. It certainly is not acting like SA which clearly is wasting its most precious resource. Russia is imposing very heavy duties on oil exports ($20 per barrel). Besides government revenues this has several targets IMHO:

  1. Encourage export of refined products with higher value added.
  2. Discourage the faster-than-necesaary drainage of the oil and leave it for the future when it will obviously be much more valuable.

If we were wiser we'd do the same in USA, but on the consumer end in the form of a gas tax.
Where can I 'see' the numbers by month?  I'm interested to see if my 5% decrease in 2005 prediction comes true.
They are surprising, but I would contest that they are possibly less surprising than WT's Hubbert linearisation. I keep saying: Russia is not amenable to simple modelling, for many reasons.

It would be no surprise to me if Russia had more probable reserves that it already knew of than it has let be known. Yes, a mite conspiratorial but ask yourself what would be in their best interests if they knew what we know (and presume they do). I personally think there are signs that Russia is perhaps intentionally slowing down in developing and exporting its energy resources.

LevinK has a point. Russia is exporting more than enough to finance a controlled development and societal enrichment, to produce more would cause more problems than benefits. They, like China, have probably modelled what will happen to the US economy given its present policies. Ten years is short term in their context.

It seems the same conspiratory bug that has been flying around my head has payed you a visit too :)
I have learnt, the hard way, not to dismiss persistent bugs buzzing in my head in the face of even impeccably certain (and my own) logic. There is a damned handful there ATM, troubling, let us hope they don't swarm. How the hands are played in the next few years may determine everything, signs are that the US is an infant in this game and its current hand looks weak.
Those are pretty surprising numbers. Westexas has been showing Hubbert graphs that predicted only 18 Gb remaining, an order of magnitude less than you are quoting. I guess we should know in a year or two at least whether that ultra-low estimate is viable. Early estimates are that 2005 production growth was substantially less than the previous few years. If production in 2006 does not grow or actually declines, then the Hubbert prediction will look a lot more credible.
I am sceptical about HL in the Russian case. My impression is that it works best to approximate an unrestricted exploitation of a mature oil field/region/country on the edge of profitability. Well, this may very well be the case in most western countries where the oil producer goal has always been to maximize profits.

IMO in Russia the role of politics and economical inefficiencies/disruptions have made HL pretty much unapplicable. For example a private owner would without doubt apply latest EOR methods at the point they become available. Which clearly was not the case in Russia.

I don't know. If you read what the reserve growth literature says, it looks the reverse.  USA producers tend to continually underestimate the field sizes, whereas Russians appear more deliberate and accurate with their estimates :
Volga-Ural and West Siberia provinces show most of their reserve growth in the first 5-7 years after discovery and little or no growth thereafter. It is difficult to compare the growth in Russian fields with those of the U.S. fields where growth continues even after 90 years, because in Russia oil fields are first evaluated over a 5-7 year period before being produced whereas in the U.S. both the evaluation and production of fields start shortly after their discovery.

-- from USGS

USA prohibits speculative estimates due to reporting regulations. But because of this very conservative estimation technique the original estimates are often 10 to 15 times off after 90 years.  I hope that they aren't applying a +10X growth blindly to the Russian fields.

Interesting piece. What I read though does not convince me in russians reporting accurately their reserves, quite the opposite actually:

To further complicate the comparison, proved reserves in Russia generally include only primary and secondary (water flood) recoveries, although in the U.S. the reserves are revised regularly and include water flood and EOR recoveries. Other factors such as the Russian oil industry's lack of infrastructure, operational and economic problems in maintaining and developing fields, reporting requirements and documentation, and changes in the political system may have contributed to the difference in reserve growth.

If I recall correctly EOR methods may account for up to 80% of the recoveries. During the period examined russian producers never felt the need ro re-assess their reserves. The production was owned by the state, there were no stockhoders to please. Only after mid-90s oil companies were privitised, and started being traded in the stock market in the late 90s. Not surprisingly private Russian companies soon started acting just like their US collegues, as evidences by the second link in the original post. If I were at their place I'd gradually grow the reserve numbers with time until they reach their original realistic values.

You forget that the Russian companies cannot start acting like their US colleagues. USA regulatory practices prevent speculative estimates.
Operators in the United States are required by law to report only those reserves that are known with high certainty to be available for production, thus excluding resources that are at all speculative. It follows that one component of reserve growth is the difference between early estimates of recoverable resources, which in the presence of limited data are required to be conservative, and later estimates based on better knowledge of the field.

-- from USGS

So now that they are privatised they start making speculative estimates? Does not compute. Unless they are free-market capitalists and want to take people for a ride. Which I can probably believe; Russia is like the wild-west in terms of a mature well-regulated economy. The USA would never allow a speculative jump of 50%.

As far as the 80% number, I would like to see a reference. This would actually account for the difference if true. I wonder why USGS's geologist Verma did not flat-out state that. It is a big enough difference to account for the discrepancies. I wonder if that is why the Saudi's and Kuwaiti's are increasing their reserve estimates lately. They have the water injection covered pretty well, so that I assume when they give up with the water injection that we can assume another 4X = 80%/20% recoverable reserves from Ghawar and elsewhere, due to these fantastic EOR techniques?

Got me wrong. Not speculative. Actual estimates. That's my whole popint. Now Russian companies have interest in announcing every drop they can recover so that they get better equity. But of course they will not show all their cards at once.

What US companies did is to underreport their reserves intentionally and slowly to "re-evaluate" them to keep stockholders nice and warm. The Russian story is different - the new russian companies "privatised" (usually for pennies) enormous assets which were:

  1. poorly maintained and underinvested
  2. underestimated from the very beginning, because they did not include EOR recoverable oil and for other reasons, mentioned above

But on paper these companies inherited those 60Gb that were originally reported back in the 60s and 70s when the oil fields were discovered (and never reevaluated after). 60 Gb that under capitalism may well turn to be 150Gb.
I like your "nice and warm" analogy.  I believe that the USA oil companies have treated consumers as the frog in the slowly boiled water. We have been strung along all this time, just to make marginally better profits. Can you imagine if we had the accurate estimates from the start? We could have planned much better instead of getting the promise of what turned out to be ever-diminishing reserve growth every year.
I don't know what the Russian reverve situation is. We need maybe a Matthew Simmons to work the case. But there are incentives to over-stating their case. They have cracked the whip with Georgia and others. Putin has also made dark hints about have some answer to possible missle attacks. There is a long history of braggadocio.

Russia is very much on the defensive geopolitically. It has two weapons: oil/gas and nuclear weapons. Their is no  question that their paranoia is justified, with the Western instigated "color" revolutions gradually encircling them.

But I take no comfort in any of this, because the guys here are quite determined to get their hands on whatever reserves there are, anywhere, no matter how dangerous  a game they have to play to do it. And the game played with Russia IS a dangerous game, because Russia is a huge, very weak country with lots of oil and gas---and nukes---nothing in between---no other means of defending itself. In a case like this, focusing on the positive impact it will have on PO misses the point---I think.

Unfortunately I think you're right. PO would be close to a non-problem if there was not the great chance of it turning into a dogfight over what is left. Mostly because of our sacred non-negotiatable way of life.

But look at it this way: Russia has for long been a loyal supplier and defacto an ally to the West on the energy front. They have a vested long-term interested to be such, which does not stop them from hinting what they could do if we step too much over their feet or do something stupid like invading Iran. After US finally looses its war on oil (oops terror, I always forget) in 5-10 years and 20$ per gallon finally persuade us that we have to get rid of our coke, we are still going to need a reliable supplier that will "finance" energetically our way out of oil. Russia having 160 Gb instead of 60Gb is a great news probably equal to the difference between total collapse of the society and just a little economic pain.

(but don't  take my words for granted, today I'm having my optimistic hat on, tomorrow I could be advocating self-sufficiency LOL :)

The situation in Russia is troubling. To be blunt, they are backsliding towards a more old-fashioned Soviet model (most of the same people are still in positions of power), and quite paranoid.

The new missile, the SS-27 Topol-M, uses a mobile launch system (back of a large truck) is too fast (the fastest missile ever built) to be hit by an interceptor, is manueverable in flight (3 cruise engines), is hardened against lasers and other EM defensive measures, and has launchable decoys.

Writes Scott Ritter, a former intelligence officer and weapons inspector in the Soviet Union and Iraq in the Christian Science Monitor, "The Bush administration's dream of a viable NMD [National Missile Defense] has been rendered fantasy by the Russian test of the SS-27 Topol-M. To counter the SS-27 threat, the US will need to start from scratch."

fallout, I'm wondering if you've read Pollack's The Persian Puzzle. You seem like somebody who might have. I would reccomend it. If you have read it, or parts of it, I welcome your thoughts. Not really an Oil book, but Iran seems to overjoy alot of us here, including me.
Thanks, Oil Ceo. Yes, I have read "The Persian Puzzle", and agree with much of Pollack's analysis of Iran and its direction, although my own knowledge of Iran is fairly limited.
CSIS has the powerpoint slides from a presentation on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve:,com_csis_events/task,view/id,880/

I never realized that there are only 4, and they're all in the same region.

Also, how would the oil get out of the SPR to California and the West Coast?  Oil tankers around South America, or by some sort of pipeline?  Slide 15 didn't explain this.

if I remember correctly from the hurricane trauma-rama, that's exactly correct, because there's no real pipeline over the would either have to be trucked or boated.  neither very efficient, eh?  
How about trains? That is how we get the coal from Wyoming and Montana to Minnesota to generate most of our rather cheap electrical power.
Longhorn Pipeline extension has the best chance.  Houston to Phoenix.
PS  It transports refined products at this time, which is what you really are interested in doing, unless you want to try to utilize any western excess refining capacity.  It could probably be adapted to transport crude at lesser flowrate if that became a priority, ie excess western refinery capacity is developed.  I don't look for that to happen soon.
Bill Gates was on TV last night conceding a 30 minute interview. It went around the personality of Mr. Gates, not so of his business. At some point it went something like this:

Interviewer: What have you been reading lately Mr. Gates?

Gates: Mostly books on [small pause] Energy. [huge pause!] I believe Energy will be one of the great issues of our time.
You know, books like Twilight in the Desert ... [and he mentioned another book on depletion that I don't recall right now]

For a moment I thought I recognized a fellow peakoiler.

Are you out there Will?

Wow!  I wonder if he'll start making renewable Windows?  ;-)
Wow.  That's certainly interesting.  Bill Gates is in a better position to do something about peak oil than we are.  

What TV show was it?  I'd really love to know what the other book was.  Maybe there's a transcript online, if it was a news show.

You're very lucky, they put it on the web:

Bill Gates interview to RTP

The first two minutes are a short bio, you won't understand anything of it.

Books are talked by 5:15. By the way the second book is "Bottomless Well", maybe not a peakoiler after all... :(

Or maybe just looking at both sides of the argument.
Yesterday I was trying to read up on how oil is used in the US. I found this data   The data is barrels of oil used a day. The percents are each categories percent of the total.

One always heres how oil is used to make so many products. So let me ask, which products below go into manufacturing? As a percentage, there does not appear to be any that are very heavily used.

US Oil Production         7,649    
Oil Imports                 13,145    
Total                         20,794    

NGLs and LRGs                 2,264     11%
Other Liquids                 (30)    0%
Finished Petro Prods           
    Finished Mogas             9,105     44%
    Finished Avgas             17     0%
    Jet Fuel             1,630     8%
    Kerosene             64     0%
    Distillate Fuel Oil     4,058     20%
    Residual Fuel Oil     865     4%
    Naphtha Petro Feed     390     2%
    Oth Oils Petro Feed     366     2%
    Special Naphthas     27     0%
    Lubricants             141     1%
    Waxes                     15     0%
    Petroleum Coke             524     3%
    Asphalt & Road Oil     537     3%
    Still Gas             704     3%
    Misc Products             53     0%
Total                         20,730    

Don Evans (ex cabinet member of Bush administration) was on the Chris Matthews, "Hard testicles show" last night (Feb. 2).

Evans admitted that global oil production was about as high as it's going to get.

Evans demanded that them scientist fellows out there do their magic and produce new sources of energy for us by using math and that other stuff. That will solve the oil shortfall problem.

As a science major, I was heartened to see how this wizard of Washington grasps the science stuff. You got it right fella. We use that fuzzy math stuff to create new energies. So, all we need is more math teachers and the world will be put right again.

The transcript from the Feb. 2, 2006 show is not up yet, but should be soon.

Who is Donald Evans?
Don Evans stepped down as Bush's Secretary of Commerce shortly after the 2004 elections.
More here and here
Don Evans is a lot more than just a former cabinet official. He is one of Bush's closest friends, from Bush's Midland days.  Also, as outlined in a recent Fortune article, Richard Rainwater, another one of Bush's closest friends and associates, is deeply concerned about Peak Oil.  

Rainwater was persuaded after reading Jim Kunstler's most recent book.  (TOD is one of Rainwater's favorite websites).   Rainwater has an uncanny knack for successfully predicting future events and trends.  He was the brains behind the hundred-fold increase in the Bass family's wealth.  

Rainwater says that making money off Peak Oil is a no-brainer; however, he is more concerned about the survival of the human race than about making money.

The transcripts for Don Evans & Chris Matthews are up.
Here are some snips:

Also tonight, President Bush`s good friend and former secretary of commerce, Don Evans, will talk about what the president meant by his "addicted to oil" remarks and the administration`s push to secure our standing in the global economy.

MATTHEWS:  This is a--you`re an oil guy, the president is an oil guy, his father ran Zapata.  Dick Cheney, the vice president, is an oil patch guy with Halliburton.  Why are we going to something besides oil now, or what are we going for as an energy source?

EVANS:  Well, you know, Chris, what we`re going for is a diversified energy source.  The president knows the energy industry extraordinarily well and he knows that we cannot continue in the direction that we`ve been on for the last four decades or five decades.

When we came out of the mid-40s, America was producing about two-thirds of the global supply of oil and we were consuming about half of that.  Today we consume about 25 percent of the oil in the world and we only produce about five percent of it.

And so we cannot continue that, and basically what the president was saying was we have to move on a course of freedom from overdependence on foreign sources of energy, and the route to doing that is through advanced technology and alternative sources of fuel, and putting more emphasis on sciences and math and engineering and innovation.

... But, Chris, you don`t wake people up until prices move to much higher levels, they can get painful, and the president has just straight talked to the American people, we cannot continue on this course.

...Countries like China and countries like India and other countries around the world that are trying to grow their economies so they can lift people out of poverty are going to be demanding more and more energy in the years ahead, and the president is just simply saying, we cannot stay on this course.

There is not enough supply of oil to continue to allow this global economy, as long as--as well as the domestic economy, to grow at its full potential, and so we have to change courses and we have to really begin to apply some new technology and bring some alternative sources of energy into the mix.

...What he`s saying is it is all about jobs, jobs, jobs, in terms of the direction of this country in the years ahead, jobs for your children, for your grandchildren.  And what he`s saying is we need to change courses.  We cannot continue to go down the path that we`re going down, because there is not enough supply of oil in the world to grow our economy or the global economy at its full potential.  And so what he`s saying is, "Let`s focus on American competitiveness and let`s put a hard focus on sciences, and math, and engineering," so that they can develop the kind of new technologies and the new industries for jobs for your children and your grandchildren.

And I can tell you that one of the key areas of that will be in energy where we`ll see a lot of new industries develop in this country, that will be providing jobs for people all across this country, will be in developing new sources of energy, and new forms of energy, as well as conservation of energy, and guess what?  That will apply all around the world.  So it is all about jobs, jobs, jobs.  His initiative is all about jobs, jobs, jobs, but you know, it`s not a geopolitical statement that he`s making, he`s stating what the reality of the facts of 2006.  

..Chris, that is my bottom line.  The world is producing oil, the Middle East, every country at its full capacity and it`s very unlikely that we`re going to be able to see supply in the world grow from the levels where we are right now.  There`s a debate about that.  I`m one that falls in the camp that says it`s going to be very, very hard to do that.  But what I do know is China needs to continue to grow, India needs to continue to grow, America needs to continue to grow.  So what that simply says is we`ve got to develop new forms of energy for the United States and the world.

A brief recap of what I call Hubbert Linearization (HL) versus Conventional Wisdom (CW).  

In my opinion, we can compare Texas to the Lower 48 to the North Sea to Russia because whether we are capitalists or communists, we tend to find the big fields first.  And IMO, HL is primarily plotting the rise and fall of the big fields.

In Texas, the Lower 48 and the North Sea, HL has been consistently right and CW has been consistently wrong.  HL accurately picked the Russian plateau in the vicinity of 50% of Qt (estimated total recoverable reserves), and actual post-1985 Russian production is 93% of what HL predicted.   As Russian production gets closer to where cumulative production should be, based on HL, production growth is slowing, from 11% to 9% to 2.7% last year (which DunanK showed graphically).

I have conceded the point that Russian will increase production from lightly explored basins, but IMO the massive effect of crashing production from the BOF's (Big Old Fields) will overwhelm the new production---much the way that the falling production in the Lower 48 overwhelmed the increasing production from Alaska.  

As I described elsewhere, I am extremely concerned about net export capacity.  Although overall world oil production may show a relatively gradual decline, since we are at 50% of Qt worldwide, the top four net oil exporters are collectively at about 65% of Qt.

In summary, you can believe the CW "happy talk" about Russian reserves, but remember: (1)  CW has been consitently wrong and HL has been consistently right and (2)  HL accurately predicted 93% of post-1985 produciton, and the rate of growth of Russian produciton is slowing as they get closer to where cumulative production should be.  

Also, net exports--as recent Russian oil company statements have shown--will be squeezed by increasing domestic consumption.

IMO, we have months--not years--before the full force of the Peak Oil crisis hits in the face. And I think that it will be worse than most of us have been anticipating--because of the net export factor.

Lukoil recently announced with great excitement its largest find in 10 years - a new field in the Caspian. The fine print shows an expected max production of 100,000 bd at peak. If this is the best that can be done in 10 years of exploration I think they are clearly in trouble.  
IMO, it is a mathematical certainty that Russian oil production will soon--within one to two years-- start showing an annual decline of 500,000 bpd to one mbpd.  For the sake of argument, even if Russia does find a new one mbpd field--or more likely a group of fields with productive capacity of one mbpd--there are two problems:  (1)  it takes time to develop the field and infrastructure and (2)  Russia will probably be losing up to one mbpd per year from current production before too long.  

Worldwide, there has not been a one mbpd or larger field found for 30 years--since the Cantarell Field, which is in terminal decline.   Its it possible that we will find one?  Yes.  Will it make a difference?  No--for the same reasons outlined above, it takes time to develop the field and worldwide production will probably be falling at the rate of 3-4 mbpd per year pretty soon.
Jay Hanson: Interview
Kona, Hawaii / June 21, 2003
by Scott Meredith

"Like some bold seer in a trance, Seeing all his own mischance"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson


The "Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come", in Charles Dickens' classic story, leads Ebenezer Scrooge to his own future gravesite - the desolate, neglected and evidently disgraced outcome of his life. The scene is chilling:

"Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," said Scrooge," answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?"

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me."

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

Yep, Jay Hanson nailed it down for us some time ago.  I believe humanity is just marking time until the world's topdogs release a militarized and genetically optimized version of Smallpox to cull the herd.  Very few will get the innoculation, the rest of us will be toast.  Consider how many species go extinct each year, yet the elites are unconcerned, yet the greatest medical achievement of mankind, which is the final bottling up of Smallpox, IS NOT DRIVEN TO EXTINCTION--there is a good reason.

Try googling Ken Alibeck and read books about bioweaponry by Richard Preston such as "the Hot Zone".  We have had long discussions about this with Jay on the Yahoo forums: Dieoff_Q&A, and AlasBabylon--check the archives.  Google how much money is being spent on building the most secure Biosafety Level 4 Labs.  Smallpox, bird flu, or whatever gene-toy they finally release is infrastructure friendly, and biodiversity friendly--only kills humans-- in short, a much better choice than resorting to the full-on nuclear gift exchange.  Time will tell.  It is the only choice to roll back the clock on the filling of the global petri dish-- my guess is that we are at 11:59 now--12:00 is too late.

Jay has again backed out from regular participation in these forums, he only pops back in occasionally.  Basically, just kicking back on the Kona beaches and working on his own personal survival plan. A very smart and lucky guy.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast.

I must agree that this is probable, especially with the talk of the bird-flu being 'certain'. Also, I once heard it was possible to genetically engineer diseases to attack only a particular ethnic group.
I'm working with Khebab to do the kind of analysis that he did on Russia on Texas, the US and the North Sea.  I want to use the data as support for a quantitative assessment of the reliability of the HL (Hubbert Linearization) method.  I plan to then use this in an attempt to persuade a nationally known figure to basically have a press conference to layout evidence that we are facing a clear and present danger regarding Peak Oil in general and export capacity specifically.  

It's almost certainly an exercise in futility, but what I also want to do is to get a national figure come out in favor of eliminating the US payroll tax (Social Security + Medicare) and replacing it with a petroleum fuel tax.  At least it would be an attempt to TRY to do something.

 Proposal:  Replace Payroll Tax with a Petroleum Fuel Tax

I used to say that the suburbs are dead;  the suburbanites just don't know it yet.

It's probably more accurate to say that the suburban commutes are dead; the suburban commuters just don't know it yet.

This is probably a pipe dream, but in my opinion an excellent proposal is to abolish the payroll tax (Social Security + Medicare) and replace it with a liquid transportation (petroleum) fuel tax.  We can take the assets in the "Trust Funds" and use them to pay off the liabilities that the Treasury Department has.  Of keep them--it doesn't matter, there is no real value there either way.

The majority of American households pay more in the payroll tax than in the income tax.  This would be a tax cut for most households and it would a massive tax increase on those who are profligate in their use of energy.  No matter where you live, your cost of goods would go up, but if you lived close to where you work, your effective tax rate would go down. Of course, those who persisted in long commutes would pay the price.

There would of course be very powerful forces opposed to this idea--the housing industry; auto industry; airlines; trucking--the list goes on.  But the fates of these industries are sealed.  It's not a question of if they will contract/collapse; it's just a question of when.  The sooner it happens, the better off we all will be.  This idea would cause an immediate across the board push for greater energy efficiency.  As energy consumption falls, we keep jacking up the tax rate to keep the money flowing for Social Security and Medicare, which causes an even greater push for energy efficiency, and the cycle goes on.

A high gasoline gas does not necessarily equate to a lower standard of living.  Norway, with the highest gasoline tax in the world, has the highest standard of living in the world, perhaps partly because their car ownership per 1,000 people is about half of what it is in the US.

There would be some other benefits.  As we turned to walking, biking and mass transit, our health would improve.  There is pretty much a linear correlation between obesity rates and total miles driven (here in the US, we are the world champs in both categories).

Also, the tax could be levied on just petroleum derived fuels--and not on ethanol, which would cause demand for ethanol to skyrocket.

Jeffrey J. Brown
Independent Petroleum Geologist

I wonder if Prof. Goose read that interview. It's interesting that Jay was harping on normative and empirical and then that the good Prof. brought that up here. Or is Prof. Goose really Jay Hansen in disguise? ;)
More likely some sort of telepathic convergence due to seemingly random sunpot activity, lunar wobble, and the influence of the tides on mitochondrial aural fluctuations.

This sometimes happens.

ooops -- I think that's "sunspot activity" although sunpots may be involved as well.