Tuesday Open Thread....

Hello Drummers of Detritovore Change,

Sadly, here is a link to a Yahoo article:


Anti-Muslim Riot in Nigeria Turns Deadly

By DULUE MBACHU, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 13 minutes ago

Christian mobs rampaged through a southern Nigerian city Tuesday,
burning mosques and killing several people in an outbreak of anti-
Muslim violence that followed deadly protests against caricatures of
the Prophet Muhammad over the weekend.

Residents and witnesses in the southern, predominantly Christian city
of Onitsha said several Muslims with origins in the north were beaten
to death by mobs which also burned two mosques there.

"The mosque at the main market has been burnt and I've counted at
least six dead bodies on the streets," Izzy Uzor, an Onitsha resident
and businessman, told The Associated Press by telephone. "The whole
town is in a frenzy and people are running in all directions."

The violence appeared to be in reprisal for anti-Christian violence
Saturday in the mostly Muslim northern city of Maiduguri in which
thousands of Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad
attacked Christians and burned churches, killing at least 18 people.

Police and government officials were not immediately available for

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country of more than 130 million
people, is roughly divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a
mainly Christian south. Thousands of people have died in religious
violence in Nigeria since 2000.

Saturday's protest over the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in Maiduguri
marked the first violent demonstrations over the issue in Nigeria.
Police say at least 18 people, most of them Christians, died, and 30
churches were burned down. The Christian Association of Nigeria said
at least 50 people were killed in the violence.
My comments:

The elites must be celebrating!  If the written word is more powerful
than the sword, and a picture paints a thousand words: then it is now
a proven fact that a cartoon is magnitudes more powerful than the
sword.  The perfect dopamine ICBM [Inner Cranial Brain Missile] to setoff an explosion of the worst
impulses in the reptilian human brain.

It is the wolfpack dream come true when the reindeer start cutting
each other's throats.  No wasting of energy chasing down the prey,
just sauntering up to a lavish feast.  Imagine the exurburant war-
profiteering opportunities as 130 million descend into religious
decimation.  Can you hear the elites laughing as any reindeer deaths
means more oil for further elite power consolidation and less for us?

Hubbert was correct in his theory of eventual 'energy depletion', but
this is just the geo-physical outlook.  The elites are operating
using the realpolitik theory of 'energy deletion': create wars to
keep as much oil and gas in the ground as possible; a purposeful
energy cliff.  The elite can always afford their lavish lifestyles,
the suffering of the proles is simply not their problem, in fact, it
is their intentional program.

Simple periodic tweaking of the 'Porridge Principle of Metered
Decline' works wonders, doesn't it?  Detritus supplies are finite,
but the possibilities to eliminate detritovores are infinite!  The
optimum curve matching of population to energy is to reduce headcount
to reduce demand for energy.

With the passage of time, we can expect more cartoons and other
propaganda to setoff war supporters vs anti-war protester violence,
racial and ethnic conflicts, religious pograms, workers vs. the
unemployed, car-owners vs bicyclists, landowners vs renters, sewer-
users vs. humanure advocates, even young against old.  We can also
expect the wolves to feast upon the reindeer intra-conflict every
step of the way.

Unfortunately, I fear
us reindeer are SUV-headed down the hard asphalt path of 'Nuke their
Ass--I want Gas'.  Unfortunately, there are too few who are willing
to cutoff their 'chrome penis' of vehicular vanity, followed by the
self-inflicted cutting off of their electrical 'balls' of light and
heat.  The Dieoff is a fact of Nature and we dwell within its
Domain.  Genetically, we detritovores are not designed to
energetically mutilate ourselves.

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

totonelia -

You know, you should really put a bit more feeling into your posts :-)

I think that before you assume that the Mysterious Evil Elders in Purple Robes are behind this one, you should realize that ethnic/religious/tribal rivalry and butchery in Africa is at least as old as ethnic/relgious/tribal rivalry and butchery in Europe. I don't think the problem in Nigeria needed much of a helping hand by Western outside forces: the Nigerians seem to manage quite well in making their own hell, thank you very much.

Which is not to say that we should not be concerned.  We are. And the only reason we are is because of the oil.  If it weren't for the oil, Nigeria would get about as much US attention as did the genocide in Rawanda, which was zero.

However, I'm sure that some of the more radical elements in our society wouldn't mind seeing Africa decimated to create more 'lebensraum' for Westerners.

Thxs for responding.  Not so much 'evil men in purple robes' as the unstoppable economic and political growth paradigm; the Tragedy of the Commons.  Longtime readers of my postings on Yahoo:AlasBabylon understand my concept of the detritus-driven 'Humanimal Ecosystem' that overlies the Natural Ecosystem.  We could classify all detritovores from keystone predators all the way down to gnats and slugs.

Once the fossil fuel detritus is burned up, us humans will be remelded into intimate contact with the forces of Nature again; just as we were before the discovery of coal, natgas, and oil.  How many have thought as they open a longneck of beer that the energy required could have saved a life elsewhere?  Very few.  Economics, by its inherent design, creates an infinite spectrum of elites. My examples of wolfpack vs reindeer is a vast oversimplification of what is actually a worldwide energy competition to determine dominance.

It is better if one visualizes a entire 'humanimal taxonomy'; lions, wolves, bears, eagles, badgers, elk, deer, antelope, sparrows, trout, pigeons, gnats, etc.  Those who have no access to anything detritus-derived; their lifestyle is strictly bio-solar driven could be considered 'Human plants'-- maybe a primitive tribe could be found in New Guinea to fit this humanimal description.

At the other end of the spectrum are the very powerful and rich who essentially are the keystone predators: their natural inclination is to make choices that impact through the entire humanimal foodchain, just as Yellowstone wolves culling elk increases beaver habitat and sapling regrowth along streambanks.

The IMF, WTO, CIA, and other 3-letter orgs is nothing more than the exosomatic extension of humanimal fangs.  Wolves can only grasp what their fangs can reach-- Humanimal fangs can extend worldwide due to detritus-derived exosomatic guns, bombs, propaganda, interest financing, and political streamlining of resource flows.

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

Toto, I find your language colourful and thoughts verging on the bizaar at times, but I do see truth in them.

As the results of these cartoons have played out (I have seen them and it would take a particularly perversely sensitive yet aggressive mind to take such extreme offence) I have wondered if a stream of ever more offensive cartoons might create more fervent riots and deaths amongst the faithful?

Ooops, a mite non-pc maybe, but I'd quite like all fervent monotheists to self-immolate and solve the majority of human problems by doing so. Apologies for my biased and perhaps somewhat (re-) vengeful perspective.

I try to be colorful so that the images stick in people's minds.  Hopefully, readers will use my examples to help convince others to start their own Powerdown process.  The forum goal of Yahoo:AlasBabylon is to not have boring postings: besides discussing all the bad news we strive to achieve some level of literary endeavor.

Institutional religion is just the actionated creation of the higher brain's functions having to much idle-time.  Here is a Google Video link of formerly devout Texas Baptists converting to Islam [best if you have hi-speed connection]:


All people of any faith should be asking themselves: why does my brain make me act this way, and can I mentally rewire it to see my actual reality?

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

If it's good enough for Texas,
It's good for me.

(After all, Texas was first to go into decline.)

Oh Lordy, Make Me a Muslim.

TotoNeil, thank you for bringing the word of Allah to this infidel's tongue. Praised be his name and pass the peas. Good video !!!!

BTW, can you recommend any decent discount-burkah shops for  after when the SHTF?

I fundamentally disagree on your assessment of institutional religion: I perceive it as a predominantly power and control process which has no contact with or purpose towards anything like truth.

To all people who seek truth and faith I would say: why be  deluded by others' supposed truth which they clearly use to manipulate you rather than question and seek your own understanding of truth?

I do agree with your comment on brain wiring. We should all strive to understand how we are wired to distort our perception and do our best to correct that so we might begin to see for real.

Unfortunately, there are too few who are willing to cutoff their 'chrome penis' of vehicular vanity, followed by the self-inflicted cutting off of their electrical 'balls' of light and heat.

Hi Bob. What kind of chrome penis do you drive?

The electroplating process must be painful.

Do you use a central ground rod or alligator clips?

Thxs for responding--that is hilarious!  Either method is guaranteed to make a guy seriously STEPBACK during the process of plating.  ;)

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

Hello JD,

Thxs for responding.  I drive 'old blue', my 1995 4.3 liter v-6 GMC shortbed standard cab pickup with approx. 120,000 miles on it.  I have never had sufficient funds to own a new vehicle.  I am a 'dead ringer' for Osama Bin Laden: 6'5" and 185 lbs, scraggly beard, and even more ugly-- don't try to kidnap me trying to get the $50 million in reward money, my friends jokingly claim first dibs if they ever find me passed out drunk--LOL!  My long legs preclude me from comfortably fitting in many cars, but a pickup allows sufficient room so my knees are not hitting the dash, or my left leg is not pinned between the steering wheel and door.

I did not get my first vehicle until I was nearly 20 years old [nearly 51 now]--  had no problem with my long legs of pedaling over forty miles a day to work and school here in Phx [had a 175 customer paper-route for five years from 11-16].  It would probably kill me now if I had to do that again.

Got my first used pickup [1969 GMC v-6] just in time for the '73 energy crunch a short time later.  Remember waiting hours in a gas-line to fillup my tank.  That night some bastard took a pipewrench to my locking gascap and siphoned out my tank.  No fun driving around a potentially huge Molotov cocktail with a rag stuffed into my gastank fillerneck, a mere couple of feet from my head, until I could get scrape up the cash to get it repaired.

Ever since the 70s energy crunch, I have been a gas-conserving turtledriver--not a rabbit-racer.  In fact, I am so good at hitting intersections in the 'green' that my pickup is still on the original brakes!

I first found out about Peakoil and Dieoff in summer of '03, so I consider myself a relative newbie.  Changed my Life, as I am sure you will all agree.  Fortunately, Phx is an easy place to conserve home energy-- we never turn on the heat, but lightly bundle up.  During the summer, we run a swamp cooler, which uses a fraction of the energy of an air-conditioning unit.  My neighbors think I am nuts when I bring up Peakoil and Dieoff--they burn all the energy they can afford, porch lights burning all night and that sort of thing.

Spend a lot of time emailing govt orgs and influential others energy saving ideas and appeals for them to study Dieoff.com-- never get a reply-- I think they have a preferential agenda to make sure they survive.  Kunstler, among others luminaries, predicts the Southwest to become mostly ghost towns postPeak--I am inclined to agree-- present drought is 120+ days without rain.  I often wonder how Oregon and Washington will handle a thirty million people migration influx when Phx, Tucson, LA, San Diego, and hundreds of smaller cities start heading north.  My guess is a postPeak civil war. Time will tell.  I am the primary caregiver for my ailing mother--cannot leave until she is gone, but I hope she lives forever.

Got a nice 18-speed bicycle set up with baskets all around if a sudden energy crunch hits and I have to pedal-- people call it the Pee-Wee Herman bike, but hopefully it is so funky that no kid will want to steal it postPeak.  It is an oversize frame and the seat is really high [I am tall, remember?]-- most kids will bust their balls on the crossframe trying to steal it.  Pedaling can be done year round in Phx if you really tank up on water during the summer to prevent dehydration.

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

You know, Bob, I'm up here in western Colorado, on an old family ranch, and my chief concern is the four million people in the sprawl zones along the Front Range who might decide all of our apple orchards and cattle pastures might be a good place to hang out if the going gets tough.

Four years ago I read about Bush's new house in Crawford -- state-of-the-art energy-independent, year-round water cisterns, solar-powered, the whole bit.

It confused me at the time; but now I understand. He definitely plans to be part of the wolfpack.

Hello Don,

Thxs for responding.  Good for you, living on a ranch-- you automatically get more eco-support from Nature than 99% of us.  This eco-buffer will be crucial in the years ahead, I hope you have a good hand-pumpable waterwell or stream on your property.

Water skirmishes with shootings were common out west a hundred years ago--legislators and lawyers took over the battle, but Peakoil and Overshoot will bring back the old ways with a vengeance.  Most people have no idea that most water is PUMPED UPHILL [water follows money] to supply their taps, this will end when the energy is gone.  Phx uses an estimated 20% of its total energy for water and sewer systems: CAP water is pumped 1300ft uphill so it will flow in canals to Phx and Tucson.  I tell people to carry a five gallon water jug a couple of miles to get an idea of how much energy is required.

Obviously, water is crucial to Life--WTSHTF all Hell will break loose-- it is a key inflection point for violence to break out.  Google Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sudan to get a future taste of what insufficient water means to people and wildlife. Truly Sad.

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

Phoenix is an extreme example.  Very few cities depend so heavily on such distant water cources (although Las Vegas is close).  NYC uses water that flows downhill and has water pressure close to sea level by the time it gets there.  New Orleans also runs water downhill from the Mississippi River.

Rural areas & small towns will be hit by the problems of transportation in a less than total collapse society.  In that case (less than total collapse) New Orleans (and St. Louis, Memphis and other river & rail cities) will do well.  We have great rail connections (6 of 7 large North American railroads come to New Orleans), barge connections (Mississippi River & Intracoastal Canal) and  a seaport.  Compact and low oil use by original design.  Nearby seafood and land that could be farmed again.  Sugarcane that can grow without fertilizer, and remnant oil & gas production.

OTOH, living 40 miles from the nearest WalMart & General Supply store can be quite a handicap for many ranchers and farmers with high enough fuel costs.  Supplying electricity , telephone & fuel to dispersed rural communities will become more expensive. Perhaps technology (over the horizon cell phones with semi-broadband internet bandwidth) can solve the telecommunications problem.  Once a month trips to town may become more common.

My impression is that most rural & small town residents live on what my grandfather called "pet farms" and commute long distances to jobs elsewhere.

I agree Phx, Vegas, La, etc are extreme examples.  At crunch time, the milgov will resort to programs as evidenced by this recently released US Army military document 210-35 "Civilian Inmate Labor Program" linked here:


It is amazing the level of disconnect within our society: people live in a Disneyland mindset while the elites are moving full-speed ahead for the coming cull.  It blows my mind that simple denial keeps Dieoff.com from being the numero uno website in the world.

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

I often wonder how Oregon and Washington will handle a thirty million people migration influx when Phx, Tucson, LA, San Diego, and hundreds of smaller cities start heading north.
Now that's depressing.  I'm already contemplating my move back to Oregon from one of the other nonsustainable monstrosities, i.e. Atlanta.
Hello Liz,

I am a hardcore Doomer who believes in the fast-crash, but I hope I am wrong, and we can get a slow decline.  What worries me most about Peakoil is the effect it will have upon our food and water.  People can quickly scale up to pedaling a bicycle twenty or thirty miles a day if they really have go that distance to support their families, but the real future trick will be having sufficient food and water.  I don't think there is any solution.

If I was a farmer who knew about Peakoil and I had no mortgage on my land-- I would be drastically changing my methods and crops so that I could be self-sustainable as possible.  For example, if I owned 5,000 acres that would be normally a corn crop, I probably would immediately change 2000 acres over to be woodland and natural habitat so that I would have a future source of firewood, nut trees, berry plants, and wildlife to hunt.  Probably another 2000 acres so I could pasture just a few oxen, horses, dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, etc, and a large family garden.  Then maybe the last 1000 acres to growing commercial corn or soybeans, but shrinking this amount every year, so that I could grow cotton exclusively for myself.

Now if every farmer starts doing this, pretty damn quickly you have major food shortages in the cities and towns.  Why would the farmers do this?  As oil prices escalate upwards, the farmer won't be able to afford the energy to grow the usual 5,000 acres anyhow, so he might just as well put his efforts into his own survival using his labor and permiculture techniques.  Too bad for the rest of us.

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

I have a feeling that any farmer who tried to go down that route would probably get the Robert Mugabe treatment sooner or later. Even if the government didn't chose that option, how could a farmer defend 5000 acres from desperate people anyway?
Your probably correct in that the farmer would not be able to defend his land-- ERoVI > ERoEI is going to be a huge problem [ERoVI = Energy Returned on Violence Invested].  The old story of rape, pillage, and plunder is a successful short-term strategy, but is disasterous for the long term.  No disputing that it reduces headcount though.

That is the main reason why I think we will have a fast crash-- to minimize opportunities for ERoVI.  My feeling is at crunch time: most urban and suburban dwellers will be forced to die n place, instead of being allowed to roam the countryside killing the farmers, then looting for whatever food they can find.

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

Actually, that's about the only good thing I could say about martial law. They'll close the Eisenhower Tunnel to protect the rich in Vail, Eagle and Aspen. (And our little farm, by being in the right place.)

Our ranch is only 120 acres, irrigated. We raise high-value registered Angus, so we can survive on sirloins if we have to.

We're already going permaculture, planting a woodlot, adding PV panels for a kind of parallel future if it comes to it. We've also formed a quiet coalition with other farmers and neighbors who understand what's coming. We have a barter system in place.

We have rich, volcanic soils and gravity-fed water systems. I do worry that the irrigation water might be requisitioned to try to keep the sunbelt sprawl afloat, but we also have springs and creeks here.

I don't know if anyone beside the oligarchs will really get through a die-off, but we're organized and we're going to try.

Besides PV, you have "gravity feed streams".  They make microhydro as small as 100 watts !

What volumes of water and what falls (vertical distance) might be harnessed by putting into a pipe to make some hydropower ?

Make $ today, and keep LED lights and some motors going "later".

I need some good news. How about a thread where we talk about the 'keeper' technologies -- the ones we have in hand and will be around in 100 years?

For Power Generation:

Photovoltaics (Silicon and others)

For Power Storage:

Water lift
Compressed Air
Zinc Cycle


For power generation:

A pair of oxen walking around a turnstile.

For power storage:

Hay loft.

A local organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm in Eugene, OR is trying to learn to plow with a pair of oxen. It's a LOT harder than one might presume. This is one instance in which I can see a real need for an H-1 Visa for Indian Know-How.


That's why having them pull a turnstile around is such a good idea. Just post a local boy with a whip to keep them moving along - no H1 visa necessary! You need a good horse to plough - and twitch logs out of the woods in wintertime.
Not really what I was looking for, but it did bring a smile. ^_^ Thanks.
I am more optimistical.

Additional power generation:
Geothermal power. (Depends on geology like hydro power)
Nuclear power
Genetically engineerd plants (carbon gathering)
Perhaps even solar power satellites
Hand cranked electronics.

Short term energy storage:
Accumulators in plug-in wehicles.
Hot water or melted salts for heating and running hot water.
Cold water for air conditioning.

Long term energy storage:
Stockpiled food.
Dry biomass.
Liquid synthetisized fuels.
Nuclear fuels, probably breeded nuclear fuels.

Hydro can be seperated into different types.  Large storage (dams) hydro has been largely built (a MAJOR site in the Congo with ~50 GW, Alaska with 8 or 10 GW, etc. are still available), but most run of river schemes were not economic with cheap coal, oil & natural gas.

Also, small hydro, particularly in the US, was never exploited.  Say 10 MW to 1/4 MW, both storage and run of river schemes.  It is interesting to see new schemes being developed in New Zealand today.  Almost all 10 MW or less.

Tidal hydro has some quite limited expansion possibilities with higher prices for fossil fuels.  Peaks on a 25 hour cycle (forgot minutes).

Uncontained propeller hydro (River, Gulf Stream, has a maximum extraction efficiency of ~10%) but some possibilities exist.

Solar can be divided into solar water heating (a no-brainer" in most cases) and solar electric with solar processing still largely unexploited.  Mirror based solar electric has an apparent niche in deserts below 35 latitude.

Steam geothermal is being actively exploited where available.  The larger "hot rock" geothermal is still in rare experimental projects.

Landfill gas and sewage digester gas are being actively exploited.  And even chicken guts to diesel ! :-)

"It is interesting to see new schemes being developed in New Zealand today"

Hi Alan,

Yes, there are still a few hydro possibilities here in NZ. There is a proposal for a relatively small one about half an hour's drive north of me here.

By the way, that "Meridian Energy" company I pointed you to the other day turns out to be a state-owned enterprise (SOE), so I doubt you can buy shares in them. I'm even more interested in switching over to them now. They are not quite the cheapest in my area, but I think it is worth paying slightly more to support the renewables. Another one of the big energy companies ("Contact Energy") here in NZ has just merged with (read bought out by) an Australian company.  I hope a lot more NZers switch from Contact to Meridian to stop NZ dollar profits moving over the Tasman Sea into the pockets of Australian shareholders.

New Zealand has a few of these "state-owned enterprises" that have to operate like private companies (and make profits for the government) but do not have to pander to shareholders (apart from their main one, of course).  Air New Zealand is another example. They can get a bit stroppy, though.  The SOE "Transpower", which maintains a lot of the main electricity 'backbone' around the country, is currently arguing with the government about rate increases (the government doesn't think the increases are necessary).

Two shareholder owned companies, King Country Power and TrustPower are also 100% renewable and have expansion plans.  King Country produces about 3/4 of their own power and plan to up that to 7/8 with a scheme in development, all hydro.  TrustPower produces less than 40% of their own power but has MAJOR wind energy plans and some smaller hydro schemes under development.  Eleven in all I believe.  Perhaps 3/4 internal power when finished.

With Maui natural gas declining by 17% each year, and new NG discoveries being quite small, NZ may well end up with a 100% renewables grid.  You seem to have enough hydro (and a bit of geothermal) to support wind filling most of the gap left by NG depletion with rest of the expansion coming from hydro & geothermal. (Note: Wind has problems supplying a high % of the grid when the balance is fossil fuel, but not with the balance being hydro).

King Country & TrustPower have also said (in their annual reports) that they intend to stay 100% renewable.  Just not willing to sign off forever, under all cirucmstances.

Never forget the humble bicycle.

I thought about getting the car out today ...

That's the phrase I use now, "get the car out."  I got a kick out of the passage in Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" in which he claims people used to own cars in England, but not actually drive them.  It was a big event to drive to the seaside, etc.  I'm sure there is some poetic license there, but it's funny.

Anyway, I ended up having a great ride through town to the post office, the bookstore, the market.  I even beat a hummer through traffic ;-)

I'm glad I didn't get the car out.

Well, there's the ROOT CELLAR, for a lot of stuff we pack into the Fridge these days.  'Course, I'm up in Maine, and we shouldn't be running the fridges this time of the year anyway.

I'm thinking of running a windmill to lift weights as the storage medium.  Don't know about the conversion efficiency, but you wouldn't get the drainage you have with Batteries or Compressed Gasses.  Someone said Zinc Cycle, what's that?

But the Bike idea is right on line!  We could do SO much with pedal-powered travel, and we'd probably relive an aspect of our childhoods, too.  Bikes can be such a joy!  I'm also adapting some shop-tools for Pedal and Treadle use.  An old Treadle Sewing machine is becoming a Scroll-saw, and an Exercise bike will have a better flywheel attached, and an output that can run sanders, drills, grainmills, small generators, etc.  I've been wondering about a Pedal-powered Cart for 2 to 3 people, with Solar Assisted Electric for hills.  Did anyone hear about the Village (India or Africa) where they installed a Little Playground Carousel for the local kids which would pump the water from their well?

My Makita is getting adapted to charge all its batts on the windowsill, and I'm looking for 'retired' (9.6v) Makita equipment to MOD into other applications, like Blenders, Flashlights, Cabinet Lights, Cell-Chargers, Clock Radios, etc.

None of them big solutions on their own, but overall stabilising, since they're not all chained to a single, distance source of power.

jokuhl, I heard about Zinc cycle last year and blogged a few references. Engineer-Poet (Who I think comments here) did some interesting calculations on it.

Zinc cycle is like hydrogen as a storage medium, except you get a nice solid at room temperature and you can't get raw material from the tap.

There are several companies working on zinc-air batteries (both primary and secondary cells); Power Air is finally touting its refillable OEM cell here (no pics).

On the surface these things would seem to be a natural for a pluggable hybrid.  Is there any place one can go to order them, or do you need to be buying in quantity?
Those zinc-air cells are primary cells and have to be emptied of zinc oxide and refilled with metal; they cannot recharge in place and thus can't do regenerative braking (which you need for a hybrid or a plug-in).  The efficiency is also rather low compared to most other batteries (around 50%).

The advantage is the high energy density and fast refilling time.  If you have the infrastructure to regenerate zinc, you could refill the zinc-air cells about as fast as a fuel tank.

"people used to own cars in England, but not actually drive them."
It was not that rare. Living on the outskirts of London as a boy in the fifties we had a family car that was only used at the weekends if then. I walked a mile to school, my brother took the train to his school, my father took the train to the school he taught at and my mother walked to the local shops or took a bus if it rained. We were by no means unusual in doing so.

Public transport was used by nearly everyone. Business men in the stereotype English Bowler hat, rolled umbrella, briefcase and pinstriped suit sat alongside everyone else. Buses on most routes ran at 5 or 10 minute intervals so there was no need to plan around timetables. A fair number of the busier routes used electric trolley buses with the current collected by pantographs from overhead wires. The vast majority of the rail routes build up during the Victorian rail boom were still in use so there was very extensive network of London suburban above ground trains as well as the vast underground network further in that is still there.

A fair bit of this has fallen away and cars are used every day if practicable but the bulk of the infrastructure is still there and its use is if anything increasing. The London congestion charge of five pounds a day every time you take a car into central London with automatic registration number recognising cameras around the boundary of this area has increased the use of public transport. Tax that takes the price of petrol up £0.97/litre ($6.5/US gallon) and annual car tax from £55 ($96) to £170 ($298) dependant on its CO2 emission rating helps to keep away the general perception that public transport is only for the poor and those that cannot drive. We even have pedal driven cabs of the sort seen in places like Singapore.

We still have a lot to do to reduce reliance on private cars but London is quite an eye opener for visitors from cities where the car is almost a necessity.  

That sounds like a nice future ;-)
Indeed, before coming to NZ in 1990, I lived in Edinburgh for 6 years.  During that time I had access to a car for a total of about 5 weeks.  The rest of the time I either walked to most places (my brother and I used to do a saturday morning round trip of about 5-7 miles around all the record shops), took the bus, or latterly rode a bicycle.  British Rail got me across Scotland to visit my Mum and Dad.

In fact, the times that I had the car were more hassle because I had to worry about where to park the damn thing!

Yes, I would say that there is a helluva lot of 'fat' in the 'younger' countries around the world (USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, etc.) that would easily remove about 50% of our current energy requirements.

All we need are some good, sustained, high prices to force us to 'get trim'.

Knowing how to make good hand tools is a "Keeper" techology. For example, last year I decided to buy a good hoe and went from one hardware store to another, from one garden-supply store to another, etc., etc., and all I could find was flimsy crap--mostly made in China and almost guaranteed to fall apart after a single season of moderate use. Eventually I changed my search tactics and found something durable.

Well-designed and highest-quality hand tools are difficult to obtain, because the cheap stuff has flooded the market, and the typical American approach is to buy something, wreck it with neglect or abuse, throw it away and buy another.

Blacksmiths know how to make good tools. There are some very fine craftsmen and craftswomen of hand tools working today, and were I to advise a young person as to a good profession for the future one that I would surely suggest is an apprenticeship to a master blacksmith.

A related "keeper" technology is the know-how that goes with being a farrier.

Wow, Don, amazing that you should mention blacksmiths.

Despite the fact that I chose a carrer in computers, I have always longed to be a blacksmith (a previous life maybe?).

Indeed, last April, when I personally discovered "Peak Oil", I actually tried to find out how to learn to be a smithy. Unfortunately there are no 'traditional' blacksmiths in the area any more and certainly no-one who looks like they could teach me.  I'm still searching, though.  There's a local artist who uses metal to make some amazing sculptures, and he's probably my best bet. I just need to try and persuade him to do some weekend tutoring.

This is one of my biggest fears about Peak Oil.  I believe that so many of the older, low energy ways of doing things have been lost forever, and we are going to have a hard time when push comes to shove.  I recently got a very interesting book from the library called "Forgotten Arts and Crafts" by John Seymour (the english self-sufficiency guru) about all the forgotten trades (things like coopers, forresters, wheelrights, etc.).  It was amazing to read how intertwined and interdependent these professions were.

I search for my tools in antique shops, second-hand shops and estate auctions.  There is an amazing shop about 2 hours south of here in a place called Woodville.  Their on-line catalogue only has a small fraction of the items in the actual shop itself. It had all sorts or really useful 'powerdown' artefacts from wooden wood planes, to hard-turned butter spinners. Every time I pass through there (not very often) I try to pick up something unusual.

You make a most excellent point. Good, non-electric / non-powered, tools are hard to come by nowadays. Worth keeping an open eye at boot sales, garage sales and second hand shops, they are very hard to buy in modern shops. Somewhere I have a set of links for scythe makers, will dig out if asked.

Whatever stage of life you are at I strongly recommend spending some time learning and developing a few basic skills, whatever suits your inclinations and opportunities. Growing vegetables is an obvious one - I thought near  everyone could do this. I slipped back into it as a glove, but 90%+ haven't a clue. There are so many others: milking, butter and cheesemaking, yogurt, breadmaking - just proper damn cooking for godsakes, soap and candles, chickens, rabbits, bees, wind power, micro hydro, solar power, biogas, herbal medicine, entertaining as in singing, playing, storytelling. The list is near endless.

I'm sure it will be fun, it might save your life.


My wife found this Skin Deep website that cast doubt on all our usual soap, shampoo, etc., so she took up soapmaking a month ago.  You can buy very nice soaps, Kiss My Face, Burt's Bees, etc., but they ain't cheap.

I suggested that she learn to use readily available materials rather than simply order a hobbyist kit from some website. I was interested to see how good a soap she could make without using coconut oil. She agreed, and now several dozen bars of Olive/Lavender/Sage and Unscented Olive Oil soap are curing on our shelves.

Next I want her to tackle shampoo, toothpaste and cold fusion.

I've not tried making soap yet and would be interested in your practical experiences. I plan to make my own lye from wood ash but I think I should get the basics right before doing that, lol.

I'd be very interested in the variants like shampoo, other detergents (for washing up, clothes) if you try them, and particularly toothpaste.

A while back I had an Ezboard for all sorts of these basic technologies but an Ezglitch last June wiped it and I haven't resurrected it, time I did.

Please let us know if you do resurrect it Agric. I'd like to try my hand at soap-making and other self-sufficiency skills. I also share your interest in small biogas systems.
Will do, it could be a month or so away depending on other constraints on my time.
Biomass stirling is a lot easier than steam ( worked in the 1800's) and more efficient.  Air is good, and so far, lots of it left. CO-2 content doesn't matter.  Doesn't kill you as often.
Stirling engines work good, but have one minor problem. So fat, nobody has yet made a good effective Stirling engine that is small for the power made. That is the key, and why we got sidetracked with steam, and later, piston and gas-turbine engines.

For example, let's say you are called upon to design an engine to push a ship weighing 8,000 tons at 37mph. Also, said ship must have 450 inhabitants and plenty of "fun options" - weapons systems. In 1962 some engineer was called upon to do just that - and the Belknap model warship was manufactured for the US Navy. I was on just that type of ship, the USS Belknap, the namesake specimen. It took 88,000 horsepower to push that thing to the 37mph. (33 knots) It used (dangerous) 1200psi steam at 900F. A steam leak can cause a broom to smoulder, and any exposed pipe will light off a cigarette.

No doubt steam is dangerous. I don't like the stuff. But the trick is that no Stirling engine can compete with a steam turbine engine system in a warship. They just so far lack the "oomph". Like a Stirling, a steam engine depends on a temperature difference. But with heating oil as the fuel, the steam plant wins hands-down for compact size for power created.

Fun note: USS Bainbridge (CGN-25) was a Belknap model but with the nuke powerplant option. I was on the USS Belknap (CG-26) the namesake ship of that make/model. (Bath Ironworks, 1962 model year)

I have a question that bothers me quite a lot, because I keep seeing these ideas pouring all the time.

How do you imagine "sustainable" living? Do you truly believe that "power down", "relocalisation", "self-sufficiency" etc. etc. must be started up on a large scale now? Has anybody tried to live like that?

I'd like to get a more clear picture of what is the idea behind that, because if the thing I'm imagining is correct, this will wipe us out much faster than nuclear weapons, IMNSHO.

Do you truly believe that "power down", "relocalisation", "self-sufficiency" etc. etc. must be started up on a large scale now? Has anybody tried to live like that?

Well, there is one huge step that isn't that difficult if you live in a good place, and that's ditching the car. No one is living totally sustainable, but we're all in varying degrees. You can shop at a local food coop that buys good from local farmers, you can reduce your energy use by putting on a sweater, and you can use earth-based building materials instead of fabricated ones.

I was not refering that, I can live and have lived most of my life without a car. Actually I would prefer to live without it, if it was an option in suburban Atlanta. At least for me walking is a pleasure, but this city is simply not setup for walking (and it is no fun at all on empty streets). I could even (gulp) become a vegetarian if needed.

I'm trying to get a handle of ideas like getting off the grid, growing my own food, self-sufficiency etc. etc. I'm not sure if the people who proclaim them know exactly what they mean and how far are these ideas from reality.

How can one achieve self-sufficiency for example? If you get sick who is going to cure you? If you live in a community will the doctor have an X-Ray scanner or produce penicillin? Will there be doctors if this one dies and there are no universities? I will not continue this is just one of the thousand problems with that.

Already, modern healthcare is beyond the reach of most people in the world.  There are just going to be more and more like that, including in this country.  We are going to have to make some tough choices.  I think people with high-cost illnesses may well have to forgo treatment.  

A few weeks ago, they had an international conference about hand transplants.  Western doctors were aghast when Chinese surgeons said the cost of anti-rejection drugs was a major issue in their country.  The government paid for the drugs for the first year, then the patients were on their own.  They could not possibly afford them.  Some asked the doctors to amputate their new hands.

On the bright side, many of the illnesses we die of are caused by the modern lifestyle.  Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.  The 80/20 rule applies to health care.  Hopefully, we'll be able to maintain the low cost/high benefit things for a long time.  (Sanitation, vitamins, antibiotics, vaccines.)  Very expensive high-tech care (organ transplants, care of extremely premature babies, etc.) will probably be the first cut.

In the long run, I think it will be quite difficult to maintain our technology in the face of powerdown.  Only a few generations ago, most kids didn't finish school, because they were needed on the farm.  We simply did not have the surplus that allowed so many people to specialize in occupations other than farming.  I suspect that is the future we are headed back to.    

I agree with a lot what Leanan says. The third world, the majority of people, are already living with a powerdown. It's only been a fraction of the world's population, and only in the last 50-100 years, that people havelived even remotely like we do.

Nobody really knows how much of what's worthwhile in our way of life will survive a powerdown. For that matter, no one really knows how much of our way of life is really worthwhile!

BUT, I don't think we have to start over or start at the bottom. Certainly cars have to go. Certainly a lot of stuff is going to have to relocalized. Certainly the US suburban way of life has got to go. Sprawl is dead. Have to go up a few floors. Walking and biking is in. Whatever Mao did wrong, the bikes weren't one of his mistakes.

Bananas from wherever are dead. A lot of what Kunstler says makes sense on these issues. But, I do think national and international communication can be kept up -- it's cheap enough energywise if done sensibly. Therefore science and culture can be kept up.

The third world might be a lot better off. When no one can afford to bomb them, or dump on them, or destabilize them, I think there may ultimately be positive developments there for people.

But I think there's going to be a lot of suffering down slope, maybe for us much more than the third world. We don't have a realistic view of life and death. Enjoying the best the oil age has to offer has denied us that.

To be clear, I don't think we're going to be back to the Stone Age in my lifetime.  While I'm not ruling out a Mad Max fast descent, or even TEOTWAWKI due to "Venus effect" runaway global warming, I don't think it's likely.  Likely is catabolic collapse.  A long, slow descent.  

The Internet will survive for quite some time, but I expect it will grow smaller and smaller, until it fades away completely.  Awhile back, India was cut off from the Internet briefly.  An underwater cable had been damaged.  If that happens again, 20 years from now, will they bother to fix it?  Or will they have other things to use their resources on?

And I think we can kiss satellite communication good by.  My parents remember when Hawaii's television programming was 1-2 weeks behind the mainland, because someone actually had to pack up the film and jump on a plane with it.  I doubt they'll be doing that in the post-carbon age.  At least, not for long.

TEOTWAWKI? I'll look up Venus effect.
TEOTWAWKI = The End Of The World As We Know It.

I'm probably dating myself, using the term "Venus effect."  It was the name of one of the first popular books on global warming, way back in the '70s.  

CalTech physicist David Goodstein believes it's possible.  His worst-case scenario is not "Mad Max."  His worst-case scenario is environmental protection is thrown out the window as people grow more desperate for energy. Huge amounts of increasingly dirty coal are burned, increasing CO2 in the atmosphere to the point that a "runaway greenhouse effect" turns the earth into a planet like Venus, which is a balmy 1000F on the surface (hotter than Mercury, which is closer to the sun than Venus).

I think it's important to look at what we've got that WON'T disappear, just because the power that developed it is fading.  

We've got materials-sciences and electronics, bio-chemistry and aeronautics, to mention a couple of the 'High technologies' that will not just walk offstage.  There are High-altitude balloon and solar+thermal glider designs that are being prototyped as cycling, 'low-orbit com-sats'.  I don't think that a forced or voluntary powerdown is going to leave us in 'Frontier House' when it's over. (Which always sounds like it's going to be some hellish, monthlong ordeal, followed by a groggy 'morning after')  We'll still have electrical sources, Radios and Computers (I have a Palmtop HP that's just had it's 10th birthday.. Imagine, a computer running for, like, a half a generation.

I've been wondering how we're likely to tackle "mining the landfills" for discarded treasures like old PC's, TV's, and Speak and Spells.. full of High-energy tidbits from the Mass-Producing Heyday.  

Mainly I think that, (when those theoretical Civil Wars and dieoffs are behind us,) we will still have books and lightbulbs.. and will continue to develop and implement the sources that are known and just barely applied today, namely Wind, PV, Solar Heat/Cooking (With Continued HydroElectric, Coal and Wood Burning).  We know they work, and the energy invested actually gets repaid in full, which I don't believe is true of any of the other sources that get discussed. (Referring only to the Solar,Wind,Hydro)

My greatest fear is that we see the Nukes get used.  That's the one that I think would just wrap it up.  Can anyone tell me if they think the US Nuclear Arsenal is still providing more of a Deterrent than an Incentive for other countries to join the club?

We've got materials-sciences and electronics, bio-chemistry and aeronautics, to mention a couple of the 'High technologies' that will not just walk offstage.

No, they won't just walk offstage. Instead, they'll fade away.  

Could you build your own computer if you had to?  Mine the ore, refine the materials, burn your own chips, manufacture your own hard drive, etc.?  

I don't think anyone can do that these days.  While there will be plenty of spare parts to recycle and repair for a long time, they will not last forever.

I suspect the hardest to maintain will be the infrastructure that educates people to be scientists, engineers, technicians.  That's a long time and a lot of resources spent on people who are not being productive.  I doubt we will be able to afford it in a low-energy future.

And yes, knowledge is lost, even in literate societies.  The Egyptians no longer remember how to build pyramids.  The Minoans invented the printing press and flush toilets.  When they collapsed, those inventions were not seen again for thousands of years.

You either do it together with other people as a group or you will be outcompeted by other groups who maintain their high technology.

Why should technologies allowing more efficient use of other resources and easy victories in wars fade away? I find it more likely that low technology people fade away if high technology people need their resources.

Why should technologies allowing more efficient use of other resources and easy victories in wars fade away?  I find it more likely that low technology people fade away if high technology people need their resources.

If that were true, technology would never be lost.  And yet, it is.  

It depends on how far the decline goes. I would refer you to my 'levels of collapse scale', if we drop below level 2 the most critical thing is preservation of knowledge and skills:

Note that the probable global population after a level 3 collapse is greater than probably sustainable without fossil energy. One has to descend to level 4 collapse before population (approx half current) is sustainable without hi-tech and fossil fuel, significant loss of knowledge and skills are inevitable at that level.

Technologies scale and descale. You can reduce the cost if you build a bigger plant complex. This doesn't mean you reduce the cost of the product, by the way, it's reducing the price of the process. If oil doubles in price, building a bigger refinery will only reduce the price of gasoline by a portion of the crack spread.
So replacing a ten billion wafer fab, crystal grower, tool plant, cryogenic plant, chem plant, etc, will increase the price of chips if you spend only ten million.
You use an ebeam instead of a lithographic printer with chemicals, you etch on multicrystal silicon (on one crystal, and scribe), etc. You might even find it convenient to etch off the back of a current chip and ebeam that for lithography. It would set your price and performance back twenty years, of course.
Descent is likely over the short term, but not the long.  There are three reasons for this:
  1. People are stubborn cusses, and don't like to be without their creature comforts.
  2. There are non-petroleum ways to get them, as much as some would prefer not to think about it.
  3. People will behave reasonably after exhausting all the other alternatives.

The fact that we can accomplish a lot with solar and wind almost guarantees that we will if those are the only means remaining; a long, slow slide just means that people will have more opportunities to find paths of lesser resistance.
Well stated.
You are assuming an ordered descent, that is not the likelihood, nor the lesson of history.
You forget, I'm not forecasting a descent, I'm forecasting a dip.  We did not have a collapse of civilization in the 1930's, we eventually built our way out of it.

Whether we see disorder depends how fast the dip comes on.  Even the few years before the plateau saw a huge surge in hybrid vehicles, wind power, investment in coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids, laying of groundwork for new nuclear plants, the lot.  As oil becomes pricier we will see much greater efforts in all those directions.

There is a lot more to be gained by building than by taking, and grabby people are likely to lose everything (even if they have names like Bush and Cheney).  The people with the most to lose have the greatest interest in maintaining order.

Scenarios about what "might" happen, or "what will we do if such-and-such occurs" are endless and can be ultimately debilitating. We will never plan for every possibility. Certainly there are the basics to work out and work on, but I would advocate working on only one day at a time and that day is today. Do what you can today and do the same tomorrow. And when we become localized and you need an x-ray or an EEG, a solution will be worked out that day. We are talking about oil depletion after all, not brain depletion.
They are only debilitating if they paralyse you. They can equally be invigorating and motivating. One can continue to live in the world as it is yet learn and adapt to be useful in the world as it may be, that is not mutually exclusive. Nor is it necessarily wasted should the future be surprisingly rosey.

More esoteric brain functions ARE disabled by having to spend all ones waking hours trying to feed oneself and survive.

As many of these idealistic hippie communes of the late 1960s learned the hard way, it isn't as much fun being a subsistance farmer as it was cracked up to be.

If you ever want to get a lesson in how life can be 'short and brutish', just try to emulate a US pioneer farmer circa 1880. Try cutting down a large stand of trees with an axe, or try plowing several acres with a mule, or try husking corn manually, and you will see what it is all about.

Let's face it: cheap energy has emancipated the human race from grinding drudgery and a totally brutish existence.  As the era of cheap energy might be coming to a close, let's not kid ourselves about the difficulties we may face on a simple day-to-day level.

A naked human all on his own is a pretty pathetic creature. A human with a horse and some livestock can live a somewhat decent life, and a human with cheap energy can, at long last, live like a human should.

Let's face it: if we want to live a step about the brutes, we need energy and lots of it. We can ge by without it, but the nature of our existence will put us back to the 8th century.

There's a reason Jared Diamond calls agriculture The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.
Jared Diamond's observation is neither new nor unique. However, the sad truth is that agricultural societies can generate large economic surpluses that allow them to destroy both horticultural and hunting and gathering societies.

Just as industrial societies can (usually) destroy agricultural ones . . . .

One of the sad truth's of history is that violence (or the threat of violence) settles almost everything.

Perhaps your teachers told you that violence settles nothing. If so, they lied.

Did you mean 'Settles' or 'Unsettles' almost everything?

I agree that it's sad, but it's not a 'Truth'.  Just because Violence is ubiquitous and seems to be our Cultural Legacy, doesn't mean it has 'settled' anything.  We've spent a century with heavily mechanized warfare, backed up by (and motivated by) cheap energy, and the net result seems to  have been mainly an escalation in the numbers of Civilian Casualties over Troop Casualties per conflict.  That figure has grown methodically in the 20th cent.  WWI didn't settle anything, it set the stage for a global depression, and WWII, which helped create the tools and political foibles that would ensure us of an Arms Race, Korea, Vietnam.. etc thru today.  

 The thought that it is 'realpolitik' or just human nature is a headgame that gets beaten into us from an early age.  But it is not the final truth it pretends to be.  It's a hopelessness that says we cannot feed 'the other wolf' inside us, to find intelligent and productive ways to interact as nations and as neighbors.  The wars we are having now are like nothing the natural world has ever devised, and that inundation in 4 generations of such brutality is probably the greatest challenge to our battered psyches in trying to pull ourselves away from the morass we seem to be heading into.

The American Civil war settled the issue of slavery in the United States--once and for all. It also settled the issue of secession of states from the Union. After the Civil War nowhwere in the U.S. has slavery been legal. Since the Civil War no state has seriously attempted to secede from the Union. I do not believe that these conclusions are questioned by any reputable historian.

Why is English the official language of the U.S. southwest instead of Spanish? Because the U.S. won the Mexican war. Why is Canada an independent country? Because the U.S. attempt to invade and annex Canada during the War of 1812 failed. Examples can be multiplied endlessly.

I do not like to make any statement that seems to glorify or justify violence. However, as I understand history, almost every nation was founded on violence. Most nations have been defended by violence.

Personally, I reject the deterministic thinking which claims that innate tendencies mean that violence will always be the ultimate arbiter in settling disputes. For a specific example to bolster my optimism, I look at Iceland--a thousand years ago one of the most violent societies on earth, now one of the least violent. For centuries there was war among the Scandanavian countries, but now a war between, say, Norway and Denmark is unthinkable. For hundreds of years England fought France; now war between those two nations is unthinkable.

> I look at Iceland--a thousand years ago one of the most violent societies on earth, now one of the least violent.

Then why am warned NOT to get inro a bar fight with a fisherman EVERY time I go out in a weekend night in Reykjavik ?

The sea change in Viking society was the conversion to Christianity (a soft conversion, King of Norway threatened to invade if they didn't, pagan worship was still allowed "in private").  Lucky for locals that they discovered America after the 1000 AD conversion.

I was born during the Hoover administration, and worked as a kid on a farm.  It was very hot hard work and I hated it, That made me escape to being the fixit guy- things broke, I fixed 'em.  Got me away from the dirt and into the grease. Where I stayed.  Since then I have tried to fix bigger things, like global warming.  Did a lot of travel, and noticed that very very poor people, like in Bangladesh villages, can be very happy with very little, and to my eyes at least, more civilized than I was.  They took care of their kids and old people, and-very important- were used to death and didn't make a big deal about it. After all, one person is much like another.  I am keeping this in mind when I go get a pacemaker tomorrow.  I feel like I am cheating and should have cashed in my chips long ago.  More room for the grandkids.  Remember, no deaths= no births.  You want one, you gotta take the other.

Besides, it makes things a lot easier all around.

You have great value to your grandchildren. Hang in there.

Traditional society valued the wisdom that can only come with age. Perhaps they were onto something.

Found this via NPR.
Gardening without machines is very very hard work; lots of work even with them if no pesticides/herbicides are used. I have only done hobby gardening; I am fearful at having to grow food for our family to eat. I do think I would enjoy several of us working together- as would be necessary. That would be a gain as well as the shared sense of purpose.
   There are many ways to increase yeild and cut work...first advice...plant fruit trees+vines+ learn bed cultivation.Bed cultivation is the way a russian peasent can feed themselfs on 100 sq meters.My uncle was one of the laziest men on this planet,but grew nearly everything he ate....by beds and a orchard
100 square meters? That is ten meters on a side if planted in a square. How many bushels of potatoes can you grow on 100 square meters of soil?
Don, we have a vegetable garden of 100 square meters. We use about a quarter for the potatoes, from May till end of August, if I'm correct (actually most is done by my wife), and we eat year round from it (2 adults, 2 children). Yes, we eat rice and pasta regulary too.
I 90% feed myself all year round for veg on about 150 sq m (10 x 15 m), excluding grains and stuff that can't grow in UK. Would be hard to do that for a family of 4 in that space. The period January to May would need supplementing, but I give enough away from July through October to easily feed a family of 4. I estimate that 50 sq m are needed to feed a person for a year with potatoes.

I grow most of my veg in narrow ( 5' ) beds, it's the best  intensively cultivated method.

PaulusP will be doing well to 50% feed a family of 4 with veg from a 100 sq m plot, but that's a damned good start.

In the Eschel and Martin paper:

They list annual uses of
4x10*7 btu per person for food
*7 btu per person for transport

But I see suprisingly little discussion on the importance of diet.

We can cut this food energy use back to half or lews by veganism, much less than half by local veganism, and much much less than half by eliminating all the excess adipose tissue that we have accumulated. Kunstler makes a big deal about the 3000 mile caesar salad but he does not acknowledge the local grain-fed animal problem, which is still greater. And grass-fed animals are not the solution: we can't afford the land use, the aquifer depletion and contamination, the methane emissions, the topsoil depletion, or the price.

Veganism is wonderful. It is a celebration of life! It is good for the colon! It is good for the heart!  I wish more people would embrace it, rather than disparage it.

Of course we have to ditch the cars, too, and also cut back on home energy use (to 1/4 of current use rates or less) and we also need a moratorium on babymaking or at least a one-child-only policy strictly enforced around the world for the next 100 years.

We should rely more on permaculture (nuts, berries) than agriculture.

I would do just fine with 1500 daily kcal from mostly local
pecans and berries (permaculture, seasonal) supplemented by modest quantities of local agricultureal foods:
sweet potatoes
blackeyed peas

and a few mcg of b12 supplement every day. These would satisfy all nutritional requirements and provide exceptional protection from NIDDM, CHD, and many types of cancers.

I never made a baby and I don't drive.

I still have internet access. I have a PC, a refrigerator, a washer and dryer, a dishwasher. I use about 230 kwH of electricity every month. I could cut back even more in a pinch.

I would still like to have access to modern dentistry when needed, along with analgesics, narcotics. and some basic surgery for emergencies. I think I could do without MRIs and other high tech diagnostics, not to mention most other prescription drugs.

And discard wild fish, chickens living off scraps & insects they find and the MASSIVE areas best suited for pasture ?

What to do with Montana ?  Erect wind turbines and use their hydro potential.  Massive switchgrass plantations ?

Small potato crops ar epossible in parts of Iceland, but it is either sheep or trees for most of the country.

Historic agriculture rotated crops between plants and animals.  The manure from the cows/sheep/goats etc. inhanced fertility.  Our rice farmers raise a second crop of crawfish along with the rice.  One does not preclude the other.

Water is NOT an issue in most of the US and much of the world, certainly not in Louisiana.

In summary, you are perfectly welcome to be a vegan.  I have no problem in not being one, and we would be worse off if we were all vegans.

And I use about 340 kWh/month on a 12 month average.  And I could cut down a bit if I had to.

If worst comes to worst, I will join a monestary ;-)

That's an ancient solution to poverty and upheaval.

You make that sound hard. Ever heard of "Benedictine?"
And "trappist" ;-)
Yes I have . Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge.
I don't think that "sustainable" can be achieved via a "power-down" without a "dieoff".  Any scenario with a dieoff will also have great damage to essential assets, as people battle over them to save their lives.  This must be avoided.

The other way to sustainabilty is "repowering":  achieving the same ends more efficiently or with different energy sources.  For instance, it would not be difficult to make all the nitrogen fertilizer we need using gasified crop wastes to get the hydrogen.  Getting there from here... that's the difficult part.

"This must be avoided."


I'd try to outline my picture of this, but a decent job would be a rather long blog essay.  The thumbnail sketch is to put strong incentives in place to adopt plug-in hybrids, superinsulate most heated structures, and sequester carbon; if there's money to be made or saved, people will find ways to do it.  We have enough energy from wind alone to satisfy needs (especially after efficiency gains), and biomass can supply enough raw material for materials such as plastics (especially if waste plastic is recycled to hydrocarbon feedstock using a process such as thermal depolymerization).
Oil is too precious to burn - not to mention the CO2 consequences - but I'm OK with it being used a feedstock for fibres and plastics. As long as they are designed to be infinetely recyclable (see William McDonough's Cradle to Cradle). And thanks E-P for your vision - I embrace it!
And here's a good link to home grown thermal depolymerization in India
Excellent link, though I'm afraid you're forcing me to make my post queue even longer. ;-)
" "This must be avoided."

How? "

If there is an answer, it is a cruel and ruthless one.

You beat me to it, concisely.

I've been toying with becoming a 'sustainability nomad' the last couple of months. The interplay between my thought processes and discussions here and elsewhere have decided me. I know we have between a month and a short handful of years before TS begins to seriously HTF.

Time to get my skates on, arrange spending time at various places (the internet is a wondrous thing) give what I can and learn what I may. It will be interesting and mostly fun, I am sure.

Funny you mention this, Agric.  Just an hour ago the comment upthread about powerdown being more feasible in the third world started me thinking, and shortly I conceived a passion to visit Curitiba.  I ordered Bill McKibben's book used from Amazon, looked into Portuguese classes here in Atlanta, googled visa requirements for working and/or retiring there, etc. etc.  Ordinarily I wouldn't have considered the expat's life, but under the circumstances it begins to make sense, especially in a location remote from likely nuclear targets.
I read up about Curituba maybe six months back, squirrelled some links but would take me a while to find them again, I think. It's maybe as good a place as any. Cuba could be too, having already made most of the required adjustment. New Zealand is probably the ultimate place of safeness.

I think the odds are against a nuclear exchange, it would take a real sicko with a perverse agenda to be the first to press the button, I thnk, but I could be wrong.

For now I plan to stick to UK, it has the advantage of fewer AK47s and other weapons, though I should consider a few spells in foreign climes once I have got most of the basics learned. I knew an american in Slough (where I live) who relocated to Atlanta last summer, sometimes longshots work: do Tina and Alcan ring any bells?

No, sorry, don't know your friends.  

Agreed that it would take a sicko, but perhaps I'm more pessimistic about the prospects for restraint in the face of chaos.  

Curitiba: you probably saw the same Energy Bulletin story I did, which came from the link above.  Here's another:


Three decades of thoughtful city planning

The city of Curitiba provides the world with a model in how to integrate sustainable transport considerations into business development, road infrastructure development, and local community development.


The Master Plan established the guiding principle that mobility and land use can not be disassociated with each other if the city's future design is to succeed.  In order to fulfill the goals of the Master Plan in providing access for all citizens, the main transport arteries were modified over time to give public transport the highest priority.


Curitiba's buses carry 50 times more passengers than they did 20 years ago, but people spend only about 10 percent of their income on transport.  As a result, . . . Curitiba's gasoline use per capita is 30 percent below that of eight comparable Brazilian cities.  Other results include negligible emissions levels, little congestion, and an extremely pleasant living environment...


Hence, the city created a pedestrian network, covering an area equivalent to nearly 50 blocks, in the downtown area. . . . Furthermore, the Curitiba Public Works Plan for 1992 calls for 150 km of bicycle paths to be built, following river bottom valleys and railway tracks and connecting the city's districts to make the entire city accessible to bicycles.

Here's another that focuses more on the urban amenities than on the city's role as the environmental capitol of Brazil, as I've seen it called.

Adding in the ethanol situation and what I read is about 90%  of power generation coming from hydro, plus a cool, moist climate, it sounds more promising than most places in the northern hemisphere.  

Thanks, Liz, I think I did first read about Curitiba in an article at EnergyBulletin. The only links I saved were from Wikipedia and Nationmaster:

Been absent for a few days and there are 500 new posts here, it's gonna take me a week to catch up!

Thanks!!  Yes, it's tough to get behind on this stuff.  However, you will see some posts that IMO are missable!
Absolutely. My point too (with your permission).

I am concerned about the silently pushed idea that after some seemingless(?) and somehow painless(???) die-off we will wake up in houses where we get all that we need from a garden in our backyard and a solar panel on the roof.

Personally I considered these ideas almost as dangerous as doing nothing. Actually they motivate us for doing exactly nothing to preserve our civilisation, because you see, the die-off is inevitable any resistance is meaningless. But sleep well kids, after that we will be able to build the bright sustainable future.

Sound too damn familiar for me.

I can see how people with no technical background could think that; they have no concept of how such a transition could be accomplished.  I can't see how anyone with a knowledge of history could think so, though.
Electrification of Transportation is a large part of the solution.  My paper (linked before) has a non-emergency twelve to 20 year time horizon, but more could be done.

The massively lower energy requirements of electrified rail vs. current rubber tires (bicycles excluded of course) PLUS the fact that they run on a VERY flexible & diverse energy source, could effectively solve the transportation side of the problem.

Farm production is another issue, as is industrial use.  But solve transportation and there is room to work on the others.

The briefest definition of sustainable living is minimal external dependency.

Total non-dependency is impossible without hardship: there will always be resources you cannot produce. But some hardship is inevitable anyway.

Quite a few people live in a largely self-sustaining way, there are sites which provide details of 'intentional communities' and the US has several localisation projects and sustainable community projects.

Nuclear weapons have an extremely rapid effect timescale, what may happen will be several orders of magnitude slower than that. I don't think the probability of serious SOF (sh*t on fan) is more than 25% in the next year, you probably have 2 years, you might have 4. Even when it happens it will probably not be an everything off the cliff thing, it will most likely be a succession of bumps down over several years.

So, relax, TEOTWAYKI (the end of the world as you know it) is unlikly to pounce on you that soon.

However, it's always worth being ensconced and accepted where you live so now would be an appropriate time to think of moving if you intend to. Also, it takes a year to get vegetable production up and running well, two summers to produce seed for many useful plants. Best to have a year or two to settle in and get things going, get to know neighbours well, pick up a few useful skills.

Soon would be a good time to be where you intend to be WTSHTF, but no need to panic just yet.

IMO the idea that if a significant disruption occurs there will be safe places to go is quite questionable.

In modern world everything is so interdependent that nothing could be sustainable even by the limited definition you are giving it. The most sustainable place I can think of in that sense, is my granny's village. People there grow their own food on 100% and most of them live pretty well without extras like personal vehicles, computers, TVs, ACs etc. But even they rely on the city to receive medicines, fertilizers, fuels for the farm machinery, electricity (if not for anything else - for the water pumps) etc.

I suspect they would be much less worse off and can hold for quite a while, but what happens if all people in the cities nearby decide to go back there? Even on a timescale of decades I don't see it happening in an ordered manner.

That's why I tend to think that it will be either or. Either we preserve our current arrangement and adapt it gradually to a low-energy world, or we quickly descend into a complete chaos. For the latter to happen we must be foolish enough to pick the last man standing "solution" to our energy problems. I'm not ruling this one out but I'd rather work for more positive scenarios.

Surving the dieoff.
Buy vitamins, dried goods, canned goods, etc, and live in a hole for two years.
Avoiding the dieoff.
Move the Australia or New Zealand and don't live in a city.
I'm not worried about an unavoidable dieoff, I'm worried about a screwup dieoff where we fight a nuclear war and disrupt technological systems and everyone competes to loot the infrastructure instead of cooperating to get everything working again.
Australia and New Zealand are COMPLETELY different. Briefly, NZ good, Australia bad, for many reasons. Australia (as discussed in Jared Diamond's "Collpase") is as close to ecocatastrophe as any modernized country--probably the very closest. By way of contrast, NZ is in good shape.

Historical note: Australians treated their aborigines with as evil a genocidal cruelty as any in history; note particularly how the Tasmanian natives were killed off. By way of contrast, the Maoris of New Zealand fought the British to a standstill--then signed a treaty with Queen Victoria. Then, something seen nowhere else in the world, to the best of my knowledge, the white people did not violate the treaty.

For an amusing and informal comparison of NZ and Australia, see the marvelous book on bicycling around the world, "Miles from Nowhere."

Don't know if it has been posted before:

OPEC Output Down 120,000 bpd in January

The latest estimates show OPEC volumes at their lowest level in almost a year and mark the second consecutive month that OPEC production has been below 30-mil b/d. Platts estimates last year showed volumes averaging 29.58-mil b/d in February, 29.83-mil b/d in March and 29.96-mil b/d in April, before rising to 30.02-mil b/d in May. Overall production held above 30-mil b/d until December 2005.

              Jan 06      Dec 05      Nov 05      Oct 05      Sept 05      Quota
(excl. Iraq)     28.150     28.250     28.350     28.270     28.320     28.000

And that's going to go down some more when Nigeria (February) is figured in next month.
Interesting chart along with Khebab's linked article gives a country-by-country breakdown of production along with their respective quotas. Here's a summary of how the OPEC 10 did in January:

Algeria - 53% over quota

Kuwait - 13% over quota

Libya - 11% over quota

Qatar - 10% over quota

Saudi Arabia - 4% over quota

Nigeria - 4% over quota

U.A.E. - 1% over quota

Iran - 5% under quota

Venezuela - 19% under quota

Indonesia - 37% under quota

I wonder if this tells us anything. On the negative side, much has been made of Indonesia's depletion problems, its internal riots over energy prices IIRC, and the fact that it's now a net oil importer, so that explains their poor performance. Iran and Venezuela are both stepping up the anti-U.S. rhetoric and are talking about producing even less oil than they're already underproducing. Perhaps their underperformance is a political statement.

On the plus side, I can't figure out why Algeria is so high. The rest fall in a band of 1% to 13% over quota, which is standard practice, no?

These quotas are the ones based on stated (i.e., unaudited, highly dubious) proven reserves that went into effect in the 1980s, right?

maybe algeria is high because they can be.
Why is Indonesia even still a member of OPEC? If they are an importer now, and have no prospect for ever changing that, when do they get the old heave-ho from that club?
As long as they pay their dues, they are welcome to stay.

They are considering dropping out, because the dues are pretty steep.  They are reaching the point where they cannot afford them.

I can imagine for Venezuela's part that they are producing significantly under quota as they don't have the production facilities in relation to their vast reserves to meet this quota.
I found this to be interesting today.

The headline for Conoco was ConocoPhillips replaces 230 pct of reserves in 2005.

Reading further down in the story it said "Excluding sales and acquisitions, the company reported a reserve replacement ratio of 100 percent"

I've run some numbers on the gas situation in the UK following the explosion and subsequent closure of Rough, the long term gas storage facility: Rough Times Ahead

It's not looking too good if the weather turns chilly, this outage has significantly curtailed our peak flow rate and whilst the short and medium storage can maintain a decent rate for a little while they just don't have the volume to keep the gas flowing for long.

The situation we find ourselves in atm sees us heavily dependent on the continental Interconnector and hoping for Spring!

Adequate electricity, fertiliser, for farmers demanded

BANGLADESH - Speakers at a rally yesterday said the northern part of the country will face famine like situation if the government does not provide adequate electricity, fertiliser and diesel to the farmers immediately.

Bangladesh Krishak Samity and Bangladesh Khetmajur Samity organised the rally.

They demanded adequate and uninterrupted electricity supply all over the country so that the farmers can operate shallow and deep tube-wells for irrigation.

There was an interesting interview on public radio on the program "Speaking of Faith" where the journalist Pankaj Mishra was interviewed.  He has written a book entitled "An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World.".  This wasn't a particularly theological program though - it was more philosophical, at least to my ears.

They touched on a number of topics - the central theme had to do with the western notion of progress, and the tendency towards violence, conquest, material acquisition, and general thoughts related to the definition of contentment.

There was one question in there that really perked up my ears though:

Ms. Tippett: All right. So I think the problem is that an American, a modern American, might look at this history you tell and might still compare someone like Alexander and Ashoka, or 21st-century America and India, and say it's clear which version of reality, which ethos is on the winning side. Right? They would say simply this ethos of acquisition and building and progress and power is what, in fact, works in this world we inhabit. Now, how would you respond to that?

Mr. Mishra: Well, I'd very quickly challenge the notion that it works. Where is the evidence that it works? I mean, the 21st century has not started off very well. What I do see is a whole lot of confusion, a whole lot of bewilderment and a whole lot of hatred, a whole lot of violence out there. And, you know, even people, even societies that are supposedly doing extremely well, such as China or India, when you actually start thinking about 20, even 20, 30 years in the future, you wonder about their big populations, you wonder about their great needs. What will these societies need once they come into their own as middle class consumers of the kind people in America are? The amount of oil they would need, amount of energy resources they will have to find to sustain their populations at the standard of living they will have arrived at at that point, if they do arrive at that standard of living. And where is that oil going to come from? You know, I think it's unsustainable, and that's why we're heading towards, and we already have, we already live in such, sort of, violent times. So I'm completely unpersuaded by the notion that the systems we have are working. The fact of power obscures the failures, but the fact that you have to use violence all the time, you know, really points to the failure of all these systems in many ways.

Emphasis mine.

The program was a few weeks ago, but you can download and listen to a podcast here:


Protests hit Ecuador oil exports

Ecuador's state oil firm Petroecuador has been forced to suspend crude exports after a violent demonstration in Napo province shut a key pipeline.

Petroecuador's halt to its 144,000 barrels per day (bpd) of exports came into effect on Tuesday after the Trans-Ecuadorean pipeline was closed.

Protesters had occupied a pumping station to demand more state resources for the poor province in the Amazon.

Forgive me my scepticism but I feel a little bit puzzled by this announcement. Besides the lack of technical details, this claim nailed me:

While South African scientists developed and patented the new, super-effective alloy solar panels, other companies have developed new, super-efficient storage batteries and special converters to change the energy into the power source of a particular country (220 volts in South Africa).

So in one article they are announcing 2, even 3 breakthroughs each one worth billions, even trillions of dollars. And noone is talking 24/7 on the news about that, noone is investing billions or receiving Nobel prizes... It is simply strange.

I could be wrong of course.

This is, once again, a very interesting discussion and one of the reasons I find TOD so informative, provocative and, dare I say it, entertaining? I'm the one who coined the phrase "cyber monestary" to describe TOD posssible future role in a powered-down society. I was only half-joking. Still, I think the intellectual standard of the average contribution to TOD gives one reason to hope that we will find solutions to the problems we face. I mean the evidence is here, on TOD! Human beings really use their brains,think about stuff, speculate and solve problems. It must be in our dna or something. Reading the comments makes me feel optimistic, even though the subjects touched upon seem so huge and push one towards pessimism. I mean, solutions do exist to our problems, they are staring us in the face. I believe it's more a question, fundamentally, of do we have the Will to change.

While I'm feeling so positive let me just mention the energy situation in Europe in broad terms compared to the U.S. In general we Europeans use about half the energy the U.S. does. Many experts who've studied our energy consumption in detail are convinced we can reduce our energy use by 50%, and retain our standard of living, just by fully utilising existing technology and cutting out waste and conserving resources. These are, of course, ballpark figures, but ones that are generally accepted. So, doesn't that mean the U.S. could make enormous, gigantic, savings in energy consumption without having to return to pre-industrial levels? Just trying to inject a bit of optimism here guys! We're not doomed, doomed, doomed. We "just" have to take control and re-organise the way we live. Shouldn't be that hard.

It is still about the leadership. There is none. The moderates and the apocalypticons are in a power struggle. Neither seems to have much power or grace. Looks like Hamas and Fatah.
Which is why I feel we are headed for something less than good. Most of our political leadership is on the take, the biggest employers in the country are governments, we have no real representation anymore to make our voices and wants heard, and what is left of the media is all about profits, not truth. Science is being demonized or otherwise sidelined in these discussions in favor of economics or religion....the list of what ails us is very long, and I honestly do not see the "way out". Voting? Don't get me started on that farcical exercise... What I see around me is people who are more fearful for their future every day, and a government bent on one thing - ultimate control and continued existence of the status quo.

None of this is in a vacuum - we have resource depletion and scarcity facing us, a looming currency crisis, China holding our pink slip for debts owed - the laundry list of bad things is simply too lengthy to actually list in a single place!!  But taken as a whole, we are facing too many things with an out-of-control government filled with professional crooks.

In the scheme of things, either a charismatic leader replete with honesty has to appear and become president, or else the current regime has to fall apart before change can occur at a more local level. And it's "when things fall apart" that worries me.

All one can do is simplify and be as ready as possible for whatever the future brings.

Mass transit study sought
Lawmakers want to identify options, including light-rail line
Pioneer Press

Rick Hansen, a state representative from South St. Paul, is among several area legislators who want the state to borrow $2 million for a study to find the best way to provide mass transit for northern Dakota County residents.

At town hall meetings with constituents, "transit comes up at every one," Hansen said Tuesday. "People are hoping we start to lead again."

One idea is the Robert Street Transit Corridor, involving possible construction of a light-rail line south from downtown St. Paul. A route under discussion is a 14-mile line that would go along South Robert Street in West St. Paul, then south through Inver Grove Heights and Rosemount along U.S. 52.

Eventually, the connection could even go to Rochester, said Hansen, a DFLer.

But Hansen said area legislators, including Sen. Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, want transit experts to recommend the best routing and best mode of transportation. A dedicated bus line might work better than light-rail trains, Hansen said.

State legislators are considering a number of ways to build on the success of the Hiawatha light-rail line, which has exceeded ridership expectations since it opened between downtown Minneapolis and the airport and Mall of America two years ago.

One of those options includes construction of a Central Corridor light-rail line that links Minneapolis and St. Paul along University Avenue. If the Central Corridor ends in downtown St. Paul near the old Union Depot, Hansen said, fast-growing Dakota County might be well served from a southbound connection.

"We like our cars, but the $3 gas and high-energy costs impact the reality of how we move around," Hansen said. "The sea change in attitudes occurred when Hiawatha was completed and people started riding it."

Because of geographic proximity, Hansen said, his constituents in Mendota Heights in particular have told him that they use the Hiawatha line to go to downtown Minneapolis and to ballgames.

And President Bush has even lately given more impetus to the issue with his talk about breaking the nation's addiction to imported oil.

"I was surprised and pleasantly surprised," Hansen said of the president's recent focus. "I don't think it is just talk. We have to look at new alternatives."

Any new mass transit system in northern Dakota County is still years away, Hansen cautioned. The study would be conducted by the Metropolitan Council and transit planners from Dakota and Ramsey counties.

But like everything else at the Legislature, which convenes again in March, the competition for taxpayer dollars will be fierce. Support for the study is not assured, Hansen said.

Hansen said he couldn't guess how much a northern Dakota County transit system would eventually cost. It will require federal assistance, he said.

"It depends on where you put it and what the method is going to be," Hansen said. "Two million is the beginning price."

West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller said he supports more spending on mass transit, even if the route chosen bypasses his suburb.

As a nation, Zanmiller said, "it doesn't make sense for us to be captive to someone who can, on a whim, turn off the spigot and suddenly we're facing $5-a-gallon (gasoline) prices.

"Anyone who's driven on (Minnesota) Highway 3 to Rosemount on a Friday afternoon knows there's quite a bottleneck going there, not to mention what's going on in my city," he said, referring to substantial congestion on the 2.5-mile South Robert Street retail strip.

"How can we attract more people as residents and as shoppers without making Robert Street eight lanes wide? You simply can't do it," Zanmiller said. "Smart transportation will allow us to accomplish that goal."

Brian Bonner can be reached at bbonner@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-2173.

Which ones are the moderates and which apocalypticons?

Otherwise I agree - the problem is 99% social/political and probably just 1% technical.

You are a tough one to figure out. You show tendencies in both directions.
It's because I'm not ruling out any scenario.

It is a dynamic process, you sort the scenarious according to the given facts, then the new facts make you reiterate and re-assess them and so on, until the picture becomes clearer.

Wish I could write an algorithm for that.

This was just posted on the Energy Bulletin.  Note that the Russian Minister of Industry and Energy is concerned about a "a real collapse in oil production" if they don't immediately start encouraging frontier exploration.


Interview with Russian Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Khristenko
("The Need for Energy Dialogue")
Thomas Rymer, Russia Profile


Question: One issue of concern is investment in new production in the oil industry. What effect are the high tax rates on excess profits having on companies' investment in new production? What role does your ministry play in promoting investment projects in the oil sector?

Viktor Khristenko: The differentiated rates of the mineral resources tax have been discussed for quite some time now. The Industry and Energy Ministry is actively involved in this process. The objective is to create a transparent differentiation mechanism for the tax that would rule out varying applications, without leading to large losses for the budget and at the same time encouraging the development of new deposits.

Our position is that we should resolve this issue by introducing a tax holiday period of 5-7 years for new deposits, where industrial production has not yet begun.

Above all, zero-tax rate would give companies an incentive to begin high-risk development in eastern Siberia, the Far East and offshore. The Industry and Energy Ministry also proposes introducing tax breaks for exhausted deposits. Various threshold levels of depletion are currently being examined.

One important point is that the longer we delay making this decision, the harder it will be to feel the effectiveness of the measure taken: the structure of the country's reserves will continue to get worse and Russia could end up facing a real collapse in oil production. At the same time, we need to remember that it will be quite some time before any mechanism aimed at encouraging the growth of reserves will have a visible effect. This is another argument in favor of taking action as quickly as possible. I think that we will reach concrete results this year.
(6 February 2006)

Putting on my techno-optimist hat here....

Is asteroid and comet mining for our necessary resources a feasability?

concerning veganism,what about eating insects? I hear the smaller the  animal the  greater % of feed translates  into protein. Obviously  with insects it would be very  high. A silver bullett for the  protein problem?
Has anyone been tracking oil prices recently - it seems to me they are getting very bouncy, but I don't have the data.  Has there been any appreciable change in the noise in the daily price numbers, or is it just perception?  I'll try to look up the data later, if no one has it already.
Yes, I watch. They bounced off a low of just above $58 last week, the Nigerian disturbances had some impact, the quoted month changed from March to April (increased price by about $1), peaked about $62.50 Tuesday, dropped back to about $61 Wednesday in anticipation of a stock build in the (mostly fictional) numbers to be released Thursday. Expect a trading range of $58 to $64 until something freaks it, buy below $59, sell above $63 unless there is a reason to go with the roll.

I might take a punt on buying in advance of the stocks data release, price is currently $60.67 (overnight live market), I'm sure it will rise higher than that in the next 3 weeks.

Thanks Agric.  I was more interested in the volitility (and what that might indicate) than the absolute price.  
The price is quite volatile atm but within a fairly narrow band. The supply data today took it down to about $60.50 in US trading but it has put on a bit overnight, currently around $60.88. Movements between $60 and $62 should be seen as meaningless, moves outside that range should be watched.

There seems to be a tendency for the price to show gains in asian trading and reductions in US trading lately. There's another cold spell due to happen in US imminently, I would expect the price to increase in US trading Friday, possibly Monday too, then probably decline Tuesday in advance of next week's stocks data release. If I can get a price below $60.50 early in US trading Friday I will probably buy and plan to sell Tuesday.

The higher volatility within a fairly tight range I'd read as a nervous market not knowing which way it wants to go. It could break downwards but they risks are greater that it would break upwards. Any negative geopolitical news that could impact supply is likely to cause a $2+ increase. Weekends have a tendency to provide negative supply news. It doesn't feel like speculators are too significant in moving the market atm.

Hubbert's model for oil depletion worked well to predict
US oil production in large part because US oil production
data was fairly accurate, and that no geopolitical events
happened that would bring 'noises' to the model.

I was wondering if his model has been applied to some other
countries that have a fairly 'event free' history.

Let's say Columbia, or Ecuador.

I'd say that Colombia may be still to young to get a good picture of it.  Colombia has some small older mature fields, but during the last 20 years the data would be pretty  disturbed by the relatively large finds at Caño Limon and Casanare to get a good picture.  Ecuador is relatively small to get a big picture going at all, especially that one that you would have confidence scaling up to represent a hypothetical larger area.  Peru also had a rather large Camisa find discovered during the last 8 years or so that is still only in Phase II of the development program.
Thanks for your answer.

I was reading the ASPO - newsletter#19", the Colombia
country assement.  It says that production peaked in 1999 at
816kb/d, to decline to 625kb/d in 2001, a huge decrease.

4 years later it would be interesting to see the evolution
of their production.

Wife's Colombian and I have a few friends working with a major and a couple of the smaller producers there.  Colombia had a few ups and downs that were rather dramatic increases in relation to their norms at the time, but not too terribly significant in terms of world production, so I think there may be some discontinuities in making projections from that data.  The smaller producing company I know just started developing a 20 MBOPD field and they think they may have a few more around  (Geologists are natural optimists).  Given that and other E&P activity going on, they may be able to get back up close to where they were before.  I also think they still have some significant discovery potential left (relative to their norm production, not world) in the very large Amazona region.  Hence, it just might be too early to see if Colombia has actually topped and in decline or if there will be another bump or two that could disturb today's projection line.        

You might have a look at Argentina.  I don't know much, but they did have some significant production (rel 2 their needs) at one time, but now they seem to be relying on other countries for their supplies.  I think the Malvinas/Falkland Island war back in the 80's was an attempt by the Argies to stake a hard claim on larger OCS oil prospecting areas that, to my knowledge, have never panned out, but I admit I don't stay current on that area.

EIA have an excel spreadsheet. It only goes up to 2003, but the total for columbia in 2003 is 540.7 kb/d. Your quoted figures match EIA's.

The link :-

I see Norway wants an oil bourse.  I guess we'll be bombing them next.  Take care, Norwegian oil drummers!
The scandinavian electricity bourse is situated in Norway.



The Nord Pool Group comprises the parent company, Nord Pool ASA, and the wholly owned subsidiary Nord Pool Clearing ASA. Nord Pool Clearing (formerly NECH) was established as a separate Nord Pool business area on January 1, 1999. March 5, 2002 was a banner day in Nord Pool's history: Norway's Finance Ministry licensed Nord Pool AS an exchange and clearinghouse for commodity derivatives. As of January 6, 2003 Nordic Electricity Clearing House ASA (NECH) was renamed Nord Pool Clearing ASA.

The Nord Pool Group is headquartered in Oslo, Norway with offices in Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Nord Pool ASA owns 20 percent of Nord Pool Spot AS. As of 1 January 2004, Nord Pool ASA acquired full ownership of Nord Pool Consulting from Statnett and Svenska Kraftnät. Nord Pool Spot AS and Nord Pool Consulting AS are treated as associated companies in the 2003 accounts for the Nord Pool Group.

The ownership of Nord Pool Spot is shared by the Nordic transmission system operators (TSOs) and Nord Pool ASA. Nord Pool ASA, Statnett SF, Affärsverket svenska kraftnät and Fingrid Oyj each own 20 percent of Nord Pool Spot AS and Eltra amba and Elkraft System amba each own 10 percent of the shares. Nord Pool Spot AS owns 100 % of Nord Pool Finland Oy.Nord Pool is headquartered in Oslo, Norway with offices in Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

Are there any privately owned hydroelectric dams in Scandinavia that one can buy shares in ?

There are hydroelectric owning stock companies in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland.  I am looking for others (Austria, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Czech, Chile, Argentina, Australia, India, etc.)

Geographic diversity in energy investments :-)

There are more then 1000 abandoned small and micro hydro powerplants in sparsely populated parts of Sweden. They were not economical to renovate when electricity prices fell with new large hydro powerplants and nuclear powerplants. It is perfectly feasable to buy a farm with a 100kW water fall, a lot of trees and some fields if you like living fairly alone.
How much do you figure a good little farm with a used microhydro plant would cost?  (Not too far away)
I do not follow the prices so well that I dare give you a number. The prices are usually dominated by the ammount and quality of forest. You could perhaps try to ask www.lrf.se, The federation of Swedish farmers.
PS a non-freezing waterfall would be good.
Interesting,  I can read a decent amount of Icelandic and speak a little (with TERRIBLE "R's" that makes them laugh :-)

Swedish is just corrupted Icelandic (according yo my friends :-P  Perhaps, although my opportunities are better in Iceland (although they still depend upon oil for transportation).

Are there any companies that operate private hydro plants ?  With stock that one can buy ?

Is there a market for redeveloping these abandoned hydro plants with the carbon taxes, exports to Germany and Denmark, rising coal prices, etc. ?

I suspect that a company could be started if one does not exist.

Our greens have recently managed to exempt small hydro powerplants from the "green power" programs that for a while made some of them profitable to renovate. They are probably trying to make it very hard to get and keep the water use right of water falls. This is done since some of them are in the way of migrating fish. They are pushing for continued use of legislation that will cost us 5% of the water flow in manny hydro power plants.  

Nearly all profitable power plants are either owned by the giant corporations, Vattenfall, Eon, Fortum or municipial power companies. There are probably some that still are owned by paper mills etc. There are as far as I know no medium size fairly high profile hydro powerplant company with shares for sale, they have all been bough by the giants and they were smart enough to do that while they were cheap.

Good piece of info.  Thx.

I'd still like to know why Brent is not traded in £ or €.  Does anybody have the answer?

Another topic (late in the thread, but oh well):

I suspect that Iraq will now erupt into open Sunni/Shiite sectarian warfare.  Will this spread to surrounding nations (i.e. SA)?  Will they get involved in supporting one side or the other?  How long will the US continue to pretend to support the pro-Iranian Shiite government (that we never wanted there anyway) as they commit atrocities against the Sunnis, and how will our Sunni run Arab allies feel about that?  It may not require an attack on Iran for the ME to explode (although I still think that will happen too).

I agree with your assessment of sectarian warfare--I predicted this years ago in a posting entitled "The Porridge Principle of Metered Decline".  This will be used to drive the Iranians off their small geography adjacent to Iraq where 90% of their fossil fuels lie underground.

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

You predicted what years ago? That there would be problems in the Mid-East. Hahahahahahahah! One thing I've noticed is that everybody is always right in their predictions about the Mid-East. Have you ever met anybody who didn't know exactly how to solve all the region's problems and exactly how everything was going to happen? Sectarian violence in Iraq? No. Where did you get a briliant idea like that?