Thursday open thread

Whazzup, y'all?

[editor's note, by Prof. Goose] Someone also asked if we would start a discussion on the proposed Alaska to Midwest USA Natural Gas Pipeline (link). More in depth links (here). Seems apropos.

Another roof collapse, in Moscow, again due to snow. 3573301_RTRUKOC_0_UK-RUSSIA-MARKET.xml

Every collapse this winter seems to include a puzzled statement by some official that the roof was designed for "that much" snow load.

Denial of the obvious is a common human fault: how hard would it have been to actually send someone up to the roof to clear the drain gutters or shovel the roof?  For some reason, the majority of humans desire the lemming march into Oblivion.  Common sense is rapidly becoming Unobtainium!

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:

[other interesting milgov plans are available in the forum of Yahoo:AlasBabylon]

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 from being the numero uno website in the world.

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

many of the people i show too think it's cia black propaganda. i have no idea why though.
Hello TrueKaiser,

Thxs for responding.  Simple Denial of the obvious again.  Consider the people, practising common sense, who took advantage of early weather reports to leave Nawlins ahead of Katrina, same thing as with those Europeans that migrated to America before Hitler consolidated his control.

Those that have been googling Zimbabwe, or reading the AlasBabylon[AB] postings are getting an early heads-up on what will eventually spread here. 99.999% of the people never seek out forums like TOD, or read books like Matt Savinar's, "The Oil Age is Over".  They will be blindsided and confused WTSHTF, but will nevertheless expect the Milgov to bail them out, only decreasing net energy will necessitate the Milgov to TAKE THEM OUT instead.  Simple curve matching of population Overshoot to the Hubbert Downslope--Jay Hanson's Thermo-Gene Collision.  Here is an excellent condensation of the hundreds of pages of by the Master himself from the files section inside AB called "Why Dieoff?":

by Jay Hanson - June 20, 2003

I can simplify over ten years' work down to two sets of physical "laws". These laws place harsh limits on what is possible for us: #1 ENERGY LAWS, and #2 BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION LAWS. For purposes of sustainability, nothing else matters.

Once I was able to understand Odum's "eMergy" metric (actually very simple, but difficult for old minds), I realized that there are only three relevant principles concerning energy: the First Law of thermodynamics (no creation), the Second Law (always a loss), and the "Net eMergy" principles ("net energy" converted for "quality") [1].

Once one understands the three simple principles outlined in the paragraph above, then one understands that the only way our society could actually be "sustainable" would be to continuously reduce our aggregate energy footprint -- less consumption AND fewer people - until the global population level is back to a couple0a-hundred-million people swinging through the trees. This is also Georgescu-Roegen's conclusion [2]. That's the easy part...

Human nature is much more difficult to understand then energy laws for two main reasons: it's not taught, and we are genetically biased against self-knowledge. In other words, teaching human nature to someone is like teaching a dog not to bark [3].

I will reduce several years' research on human nature down to the essentials: A COMPUTER ANALOG and A SOCIAL PRINCIPLE. For purposes sustainability, everything else about human nature can be ignored - it simply doesn't matter.

Computer software cannot function before it is enabled by the hardware. In other words, functioning hardware MUST precede functioning software.

Human thought is "algorithmic" (not mathematical) and analogous computer software. Any particular conscious thought (software) cannot precede the neurons, dendrites, neurotransmitters, etc. (hardware) that make that specific though possible. Like all computers, human hardware is the physical prerequisite to human software - but that's where the similarity with everyday computers ends.

Human brains are much different than the stored-program, digital, binary, single-processor PCs we use every day. Instead, human brains are wired (not stored-program), analog (not digital, not binary), multiprocessor (not single processor) "state machines" (program logic may permanently modify itself depending upon the data). A human cannot have a specific thought unless it has been enabled by earlier brain "wiring" (e.g. pre-programmed, formal education, reflection, critical thinking). Moreover, older brains are much harder to "wire" than younger brains.

Brains are mostly hardwired by age 25. By middle age, people may need two or three years of hard work to understand something completely new (grow the brain hardware required to think the thought).

The human brain comes from the factory with a set of empirically designed pre-programs that have historically (over a billion years) tended to maximize "inclusive fitness". One of these pre-programs was specifically designed to inhibit self-knowledge with respect to social issues. By remaining unaware of our true motives, we are much more effective at deceiving others. We evolved this was because the more convincing liar has the advantage in sexual competition (e.g., Bill Clinton).

In short, people cannot think a thought unless the brain has been previously "wired" to think it. This is why civilization after civilization runs out of energy and collapses [4]. This is also why we are presently running out of energy and hell-bent for collapse.

b. meat by-product: consciousness
Contrary to the received wisdom, people do not consciously reflect and then act. They act and then rationalize (literally!). [C.f. Gazzaniga, 1998]. Consciousness itself is a product of the hardware (somewhat like a movie) that appears, say 500 ms after it is produced. New data from the environment is routinely plugged into existing mental hardware (like entering a number into a spreadsheet), which is then followed by an appropriate thought. Since people have no wiring for "peak in oil and gas production", news of the present energy crisis cannot generate the appropriate thought. Only prolonged reflection can grow the required mental hardware to place this critical piece of news in perspective. Unfortunately, few people can invest the thousands-and-thousands of hours necessary to see both the energy and evolutionary aspects of the human condition clearly.

Individuals come from the factory pre-programmed to seek inclusive fitness in ways that have actually worked in the past. In modern society, economic growth serves as a proxy for increasing fitness. This is why we "feel good" when we make money, buy a new SUV, and so on. Unfortunately, when our pre-program determines that inclusive fitness is best served by violating social norms, we will violate those norms and seek a fitness advantage. This explains the higher crime rates in our lower income populations and why nations go to war.

Societies can remain reasonably stable as long as their economies continue to grow - continue to serve inclusive fitness for the majority. But when economic growth becomes physically impossible - as it must - societies will disintegrate into anarchy and war while individuals and groups seek advantage over the rest.

Once one understands the three simple energy principles outlined in this paper, then one understands that the only way our society could actually be "sustainable" would be to continuously reduce our aggregate energy footprint. Put differently, energy laws will force us to continuously reduce our aggregate footprint whether we choose to or not.

Once one understands human nature as outlined in this paper, then one also understands that continued social stability requires us to continuously INCREASE energy use, which we now know is physically impossible! It should not come as a surprise that we have been pre-programmed to overshoot and crash just like other animals [5].

There are absolutely no humane solutions available to the ruling elite because it is impossible to solve the problem of human corruption (i.e. the genetic pre-program to violate the norms and seek advantage).

Unfortunately, the best the poor can hope for is a painless death.

REFERENCES:[removed them to help condense this posting--BS]

Jay Hanson will be returning to open the forum Yahoo:Dieoff_Q&A in a week or so.  If you wish to join, please read the homepage-- he will not tolerate fools!

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

Question for Prof. Goose and other webmasters-- Did I wait long enough to post this?  Inquisitive mind wants to know.
I apologize if I went too early--feel free to condense if required.

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

you were fine, but just link to those long ones with a brief description proceeding if you can.  We don't want to have to put in comment length limits...(and that's not just you, Bob...).

I, too, would like to see you use links to the articles that you quote.

For example, your post above could have simply included:

"Jay Hansen summarises the die-off argument in the article WHY THE HUMAN POPULATION OF EARTH WILL DIEOFF

There are several reasons for this:

  1. Including the whole article is a waste of internet bandwidth because you are duplicating the content
  2. If you condense it without a link, then I can't go and look at the full article (ala the REFERENCES above)
  3. The link adds authenticity to your quote (you may have made up the entire quote and put Jay Hansen's name at the top)
  4. I may not be even slightly interested in what Jay Hansen has to say

In fact, I went looking for the article you quote and could not find it on, so I am already suspicious of it's source.  I did find the article on (hence my link above).

I'm sorry if I'm sounding critical, it's just there's such a lot to read on TOD, and I don't want to have to scroll past large amounts of irrelevant material (which is found elsewhere) that I'm not really interested in.

I do hope you keep posting, because everyone has something to contribute.  Just let us go off and read your quoted articles at the source.

Thxs guys for all the constructive criticism, but I am not a 'computer guru' by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, all my postings are non-touch typist composed.

I assure you that the file exists inside AlasBabylon [not on], but I don't know how anyone could just link to it unless they joined AB first, that is why I posted the whole thing.  I did not know the same file exists on other sites that I could have linked to so everyone could share.  Please bear with me, but I gladly accept new instructions--Keep 'em coming! Thxs Again.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?  Maybe I am not--LOL!

Hanson is incredibly arrogant, but awfully persuasive.
Jay is just very rigorous and disciplined in his analysis.  Arrogance is a emotional subjective measurement that has no bearing on his discussions.  If Jay was much younger he would have the energy and skills to be a peerless data freak of the six-sigma precision level of the vaunted TOD leaders like Stuart, Goose, et al.

If you wish, you can currently join his group to participate in his current poll, and browse the archives.  Just no new postings till he opens the forum again.

I 'lurked' for some time before I finally first posted.  'I have had my ass handed to me a couple of times' by Jay for not being coherent at his level, but that is just 'my phrasing' of me composing a sloppy post [I belatedly deserved his non-emotional rebuke]-- He is generally unfailingly polite, using pure facts to slay incorrect theories.  His 'dry' sense of humor is hilarious too.

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

RE: Ass handing

Perhaps you should have told Jay that he's wrong - we're not running out of energy... we're just running out of oil : )

we're not running out of energy... we're just running out of oil

We will never "run out of oil".
Our straws will just keep making harder and harder sucking sounds as we wind our way down into the gunkier, less liquid, and less concentrated pockets of the stuff.

One other thing we will never run out of is the ability of we humans to delude ourselves. We are so good at this.

The computer analogy seems a little bit off, but thats not surprising because not everyone knows how they work.

human behavior is more like a computer's firmware, it's a mix between genetically coded behavior and stuff the person learned at a early age from their parents and the early years of school. stuff learned after this point can be considered software, it can override firm-ware but it take allot of effort.
firmware in the computer world is mainly like a bridge between hardware and software.
I thank you for the explanation though because it helps me understand that not all of the reactions that i attributed to just blunt shock were not such.

Hey TrueKaiser,

Boneup on Darwin, mix it with your firmware theory, cook into a careful posting, then serve it to Jay at Dieoff_Q&A.  He was a computer geek and coder of some reknown back in his day.  My guess is that he is still interested in computer-brain comparisions, but I don't dare presume to speak for Jay.  If you browse the archives-- you might get an idea if this topic was previously discussed.  I do recall posts on truth tables, flip-flop transition and design, AI loop limitations, etc.  The guy is no slouch!

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

yea i noticed that.
personally i am not as highly educated as some of the people here. i am just someone who went to school for network administration and some computer repair and graduated right when everyone was outsourced. i found out about this a couple of years ago via wolf at the door and life after the oil crash. unfortunately i can't much of anything except keep on top of the information and the news.
Boneup on Darwin, mix it with your firmware theory...
I'm sure I could come up with a better way to reach a great-sounding nonsense conclusion, but I'm having trouble thinking of one right now.
What Jay writes about the energy laws is utter rubbish!

"the only way our society could actually be "sustainable" would be to continuously reduce our aggregate energy footprint"

What about renewables like wind, solar, tidal, etc.?

If you have 100 PV solar panels that generate 1MW of power, you can use that power to make more PV solar panels, which can then be used to make more solar panels, etc. etc.

That seems like energy growth to me!

The earth gets bombarded by incredible amounts of solar energy every day and a lot of it is just reflected back out into space.  That energy loss can be captured by us and used here on earth.

So it is ridiculous to say that our energy use is restricted by the second law of thermodynamics.

Yup.  Bang-a-gong!
Jay is not saying our energy use is restricted by the 2nd Law.  He's saying we are in overshoot.  Our population is higher than can be supported on solar energy alone, and the only way to humanely resolve that situation is to reduce our energy use.
Yes, you are right that we are using too much energy just now to be sustainable long-term, but that's not what Jay is saying in the sentence above.

He's saying that for our society to be sustainable, we must be continuously reducing the amount of energy we are using.

That is a ridiculous statement to make.

Eventually we will reach a more sustainable equilibrium where our renewables can match the energy we use.  Now whether we need to drastically reduce our population to get to that point, that's another issue.

My gut feeling, based on a long, slow oil squeeze with much belt-tightening and efficiency gains, is that we should not have to endure massive die-off to get there.  Although a die-off in the US would certainly help us out in the rest of the world!  ;-)

It just angers me when people use ridiculously false statements as the basis for their whole argument.

You are saying pretty much the same thing that Jay is saying.  Look at the whole sentence:

Once one understands the three simple principles outlined in the paragraph above, then one understands that the only way our society could actually be "sustainable" would be to continuously reduce our aggregate energy footprint -- less consumption AND fewer people - until the global population level is back to a couple-a-hundred-million people swinging through the trees.

You may disagree with Jay about the exact number that's sustainable, but he clearly understands the concept of sustainable equilibrium.

until the global population level is back to a couple-a-hundred-million people swinging through the trees.

I always wonder how people can claim to know what an equilibrium population should be.  I've seen a number of posts citing the second law of thermodynamics (which, strangely enough, doesn't tell us how many people the earth can support) which are then followed by a statement that there are too many people.

I can accept the statement that current growth rates in energy consumption and population cannot be sustained indefinitely, or perhaps, for even much longer, but I'm pretty skeptical of anyone who claims to know where the equilibrium actually lies.

I don't know Jay, but I doubt he meant that literally.  

I mean, "swinging through the trees"?  Since when do  humans, no matter how low their standard of living, swing through trees?  

Hello DuncanK,

I think the Law of Diminishing Returns applies here as we go PostPeak.  Most renewable strategies: localized permiculture[food & water], agro-biofuel industries, and earth-energies [PV, wind, tide, etc] need tremendous initial fossil fuel and mineral inputs to just get jumpstarted, then gobs more to support further growth and efficiency refinements of all this new infrastructure.   So even if the population could be held steady-state, it is entirely possible that we might run out of 'ancient sunshine' before we successfully transition to a pure 'daily sunshine' infrastructure.

Maybe if we had continued an Energy Manhattan Project that Pres. Carter jumpstarted back in cheap energy days of the late '70s-- we might have had a chance for a peaceful transition to a daily sunshine lifestyle somewhat similar to our present hi-tech Energy Fiesta.  Now I fear it will be extremely difficult for the now required 'all hands on deck' effort to paradigm shift, especially since most people are not practising Powerdown, or are still in Denial, or believe Energy Fairies will magically solve our Problems.  I think we are way behind the 8-ball, but I have no idea how to statistically prove it.  Maybe the TOD data freaks can come up with some charts to prove or disprove my assertion.?!

And each day we fall another 24 hours behind and have 85 million barrels less of exactly the stuff we need to accomplish the Goal.  Now when you add the continuing stress from our ever growing population, then you can understand why Simmons and other luminaries are so worried about our future.  It is really difficult to do any research, or build the postPeak infrastructure if your family is starving, freezing, or fleeing a warzone.

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


We have incredibly large amounts of energy wastage in today's society that can give us a long time frame for powering down.

If you look at our lifestyles today and compare them with the lifestyles of people in the 1950s, then our modern lifestyle looks like the rich and famous of the 1950s!

We don't need a TV in each of the kids' rooms, we don't need playstations, we don't need computers on 24/7, we don't need two showers/baths a day, we don't need three cars in the garage, we don't need that little fishing boat, etc. etc.  These are all luxuries.  They certainly were in the 50s.

For example, in the last six months, with no hardship, my family has reduced our electricity monthly usage from about 1000 units to 400.  And that's before the solar water heater and wood-fired wetback take over our water heating.  It's not hard and it certainly isn't rocket science, but for some it will be scary because they will be losing their 'entertainment'.  Truth is, life can actually be much more entertaining without this stuff.

Instead of a die-off in our future, I actually see our past. We will need to step back a few decades and re-evaluate what are the essential elements of life on this planet.  We need to recognise that we have become addicted to luxuries in the pursuit of happiness!

Our lifestyles are not non-negotiable.  In the process of avoiding die-off, there will be lots of negotiations!

Hi DuncanK,

I agree with your statements as related to how things should be. If we could "soft land" by going back to behavior patterns of the 1950's before becoming even more sustainable, we certainly wouldn't need to worry about an imminent new stone-age.

While I, or "we" perhaps don't need the things you mention like tv in every room, playstation, etc., there seems to me to be an omnipresent entity which needs all these things and even more of them next year to sustain its existence: Capitalism.

Is it not true that capitalism fundamentally depends upon growth to continue functioning? I do not see how the mechanisms of our economic system allow reverting to 1950's lifestyles now. Capitalism is a one way street.

It seems to me it will accelerate until it hits the wall of no further growth possible, and we will be left with no economic system apart from our local agreements of how to trade with our friends and neighbors.

Capitalism's response does seem the huge unknown.  Capital won't go down without a fight.  In my naive economic mind I try to see where capital will go to continue to grow...alternative energy seems an obvious one.  This won't be a rigid body collision when the irresistable force of capitalism meets the unyielding wall of declining production.  The economy won't shatter.  I expect to see more fluid-like behavior and deformation as the economy tries to adapt to a different container.

Questions I have....

Is the debt system inexorably tied to a system of perpetual growth to sustain itself?

How will capital satisfy its desire to grow as the amount of real energy in the global system starts to decline?

As an engineer I guess I should qualify the above as Power, vice energy, since the Alberta tar sands (supposedly) contain a Saudi Arabia's-worth of energy.  But the rate at which you can use that energy is a small detail to consider.

IMO the markets will take days, not weeks figuring out that alternatives are but a few drops in the bucket( once decline is known). " Follow the money". That is why the other arm of the market the government has been acting and as you say ,"Capitalism's response does seem the huge unknown.  Capital won't go down without a fight." War is our attempt.
     What we need is s horrific oil price shock, then production back in a few weeks but knowledge of peak to  have created a different political landscape to powerdown in an organised way.
Completely agree from first-hand experience.  There is an incredible amount of energy fat in our diets.  It's a bit embarassing to me now, but we took almost 45% off our kWh useage with virtually no change in comfort or convenience.  Sheesh! we were (still are?) profligate.  To engage the (reluctant) other members of my family, I'm paying $$ bonuses every month if we use less units of energy YoY.

Even in the liquid fuels category, Americans are going to surprise us with how much can get squeezed out.  The other night at my girl's soccer game I suddenly realized that at least 5 of us drove nearly 15 miles from the same small area; one just down the block from us!!  As I was busy kicking myself for not thinking the transportation thing all the way through, the other parents were visibly wondering why I was even concerned at all.  I guarantee that they will just as easily adopt a more sensible car-pooling strategy when the time comes.

Unfortunately, I also believe that many Americans won't make any changes until they have to.  So I guess my take is that 1)We are going to burn through the hydrocarbon reservoir as fast as possible; and 2) I expect to see surprising amounts of elasticity on the other side of the peak.

". . . surprising amounts of elasticity on the other side of the peak."

That is an interesting idea and I have a hunch that I understand your meaning but am not sure. In economics "elasticity" has a strict meaning (actually, it has three different meanings--income elasticity of demand, price elasticity of demand, and (price) elasticity of supply), but my impression is that you are using the term "elasticity" as a synonym for "resilience."
If that is your meaning you are surely correct; humans are pretty good at adaptation--at least those who survive are pretty good at it.

Note that some economists have greatly overstated the ability of markets and relative price changes to "solve" energy problems. Nevertheless, the principle that markets have much power to adapt to change and to encourage investment in appropriate technologies is valid.

Economists see substitutes everywhere--even where they may not exist, unfortunately. But your big point seems to me 100% correct. As a sociey Americans are hugely profligate of energy, and to reduce energy consumption by fairly large amounts (say up to 30% or 40%) need not mean that our way of life crumbles into a Mad Max scenario. For example, this winter I cut my consumption of natural gas for heating by about 50% by the simple expedients of wearing long underwear, shutting heat off from unused rooms, burning more wood, and getting a small space heater (600 watts of coal-fired electricity) to warm up just the small room I was in for much of the day. Instead of driving my car every day, at first I drove it only every other day and am now down to twice a week. When it becomes more pleasant to ride bicycle, I won't need my car at all, though I'll probably use it a few times a month to visit children or go sailing on lakes beyond easy biking distance.

After all, Moses did not come down from the mountain and put in as one of His Commandmants that we should each day sit behind the wheel of a car for hours a day commuting to work all by ourselves. With jitneys and car pooling we could quickly and drastically cut gasoline consumption and traffic congestion. I think gasoline at $5 will do the trick. Bring it on!


Yes, I do mean 'elasticity' in the sense of 'resiliance'.  I am an engineer by training, and I do value technically correct use of terminology.  My 'Economincs IQ', however, is just a bit above room temp so my use of economics terminology is therefore imprecise.

My two greatest concerns going forward is 1) the climatological response to the forcing functions (increased CO2 primarily) we are imposing on the ecological system, and  2) the economic system's response to decreasing energy supplies.

#1 could kill the host
#2 could really suck

Sorry to be such an optimist this morning!

Is debt inextricably tied to a premise of unending, infinite growth?  How will 'growth' be redefined and redirected when the traditional notions and expectations are found to be invalid?  

As I said in an earlier posting above, Capital will not go away meekly. I'm seeking to understand the nuances; the second- and third-order effects.  I get that the size of the pie stops growing so rapidly, and indeed at some point will likely shrink.  Increased energy efficiency will play a role.  We will also eat into other folks' slices, albeit not without a struggle.  But what are the practical steps that individual business managers and corporate boards will inevitably take?

If this doesn't make sense, it may be due to my econ IQ.  Or maybe the java hasn't kicked in yet.

Economically Challenged in NW Florida

P.S. Bugs are going to be horrid this summer.  We effectively did not have a winter this Winter.

Is debt inextricably tied to a premise of unending, infinite growth?

I'm not sure why should debt be necessarily or inextricably tied to overall growth.  Even in a steady-state economy with no overall growth, I would still think that future values would be discounted as compared to present day values and hence debt (and, correspondingly, interest on savings) would continue to exist, and make sense financially.

Don't be so modest about your understanding of economics: All engineers are doing applied economics. How does the saying go? "An engineer is somebody who can figure out how to do for a nickel what any damn fool can do for a dollar."
Indeed, I have found that engineers pick up economics as easily as a duck takes to swimming on water.

I know a several meteorologists and one prominent climatologist who has a top position at a major U.S. Labratory that examines Antarctic ice cores. From listening to these people with care, it seems to me that they are far less convinced of extreme outcomes than are less qualified people. One item that the fearmongers sell is positive feedbacks, positive feedbacks, positive feedbacks in spades. Well, there is no denying that there are huge and powerful and (somewhat) well understood positive feedbacks in carbon dioxide and methane forcing. However, there are also powerful negative feedbacks, such as a fairly likely major increase in cloud cover as global temperatures increase. When you start guessing at parameters and doing the math (which involves such lovely problems as the physics of turbulence, complexity, and perhaps mathematical chaos), the most knowledgeable and most responsible and most experienced scientists simply refuse to stick their necks out to make predictions. Yes, a sudden glaciation could happen, but it is unlikely. Yes, a sudden and large [on a time scale of 500 million years] temperature increase could happen, but it is unlikely.

Note that it seems to be a rule that the most extreme predictions come from those with the thinnest qualifications in earth science research.

As one who has studied the history of science for half a century and who has had close contact with a number of eminent scientists in various disciplines, I fully understand why the most qualified people are very cautious about making forecasts: They know more than we do.

As an engineer, you live and die by Murphy's Law. It is possible that "lots" of things can go wrong at the same time. It is, however, unlikely.

From my perspective, the technological problems related to making the transition away from fossil fuels are substantial and expensive but not especially intractable. Far, far, far more difficult to deal with are the political, social, legal, economic, income-distribution, and cultural problems related to changing our lifestyles. If we solve the problem of organization and also the problem of population growth, then humans can flourish indefinitely. Unfortunately, I see no sign of a solution to either of these key problems.

For the immediate future, I put international and domestic financial collapse followed by hyperinflation at the top of my worry list. BTW, capitalism can work in the absence of debt, but some kinds of debt (for example, to invest in renewable energy or much more efficient vehicles) make good sense. Most consumer debt and much government debt is strictly analogous to heroin use.

Don, you forgot the most important Collerary of Mr Murphy's Laws.  It is a consequence of these 2.

A.) When things can go wrong they will go wrong.
b.) Things will go wrong at the worst possible moment in space and time.

The collerary of which is,
When one system goes down, the next system will soon follow.

This collerary corraborates the observed behaviors of a series of complex systems all failing within seconds from a single isolated root cause of failure occuring in only one of the subsystems.

Speaking of things going wrong, I'm an expert after having  crashed 3 ultralight airplanes.  (2 things a pilot can never have enough of, the altitude above him and the runway ahead of him.)

British Gas commissioned a high-level study (once supposedly available on their website, but I never couldn't find it.) to quantify the probability P of something going wrong. Dr David Lewis, a chartered psychologist; Dr Keylan Leyser, an economist and business consultant; and Philip Obadya, a mathematician, were charged with devising an equation. They found:

            A(U + C + I)(10 - S)
       P =  --------------------
             200(1 - sin(F/10))

where U, C, I, S, F are coefficients between 1 and 9 representing, respectively, the urgency, the complexity and the importance of the task in question, the skill of the operator and the frequency with which the task is performed. The aggravation coefficient A was set by the committee, rather arbitrarily, at 0.7.  Apparently adapted from the account by Ben McGrath in the "Talk of the Town" section of the October 25 2004 New Yorker magazine, where it was applied to the Red Sox (P = .74) If you have access to this article, I'll pay.

b.) Things will [NOT] go wrong [UNTIL] the worst possible moment [and then they will ALL go wrong at once]

Gets It,
The corollary, IIRC is that things will not go bad until the most inconvenient moment.

There are "reasons" for that.
The inconvenient moment is that time when we can't patch things over any more. Things are actually going wrong all around us all the time.

But we humans are delusional.

So we patch things over and pretend it didn't go wrong.

Once you accept that there is this basic "blindspot" in the human psyche, you will see that things are constantly going wrong in plain sight and we pretend with each such wrong that it is an abberation, a "fluke", an anomaly, it will never happen again --I promise.

Car accidents happen all the time. Some traffic locations are magnets for the accidents. But we don't change the situation until there are 10-100 dead bodies piled up and finally we can no longer deny it anymore.

Same is with OIL.
Oil is going wrong right now. Our vulnerability is exposed by the terrorists attacking key link facilities like Abquaiq (Saudia Arabia). But we deny the fact of it. Oh no, it was an anomaly, it won't happen again.

Question: How many times did the terrorists hit the Twin Towers?
Answer: Two. Remember? Remember?
The first time, 1990, we said it was an anomalous "crime". (And what were they stealing? Pocket books (purses) from old American ladies? Our problem is that we hardly ever see problems. We are delusional.)

My observation on how things happen in my line of work agrees with exactly how I stated it originally, as does my copy of Murphy's Laws.  Its very seldom (check the DOT accident analysis reports, Airplane accidents, Industrial mishaps, etc.) that only one thing goes wrong in one system

Typical Aircraft Accident

1.) bad weather occured,
2.) pilot proceeded in landing attempt, without recognizing his/her training and experience was inadequate for that particular weather condition and failure to divert to another airfield.  

BP Texas City Explosion

1.) level controller failed,
2.) tower design procedure.

If either the controlling mechanism having a failsafe provision, or the tower had been designed for full load, the accident would not have occured.

Not sure about the remaining points you're trying to make.  I didn't say there are not a multitude of reasons why things happen "according" to Murphy's Laws, nor did I say I didn't understand why thay seem to follow Murphy's law when they do happen.  Even Murphy did not state the reasons why he found it necessary to write up his "laws", or why they happened that way or didn't happen that way.  He just described various states and conditions he observed in the process of failure.  I don't argue that people don't see what they don't want to see, although there are standard procedures to correct those things.  For example, the traffic intersection example problem you mention could be discovered by a very simple statistical analysis of traffic accidents in your example city.  When that particular intersection has more accidents/vehicle passing through it than the average of all intersections in the city, it should be flagged for further study to identify any unusual conditions that caused that flag to pop up.  When the traffic engineers get out there, they will undoubtedly discover that someone has placed a large billboard within the right-of-way that blocks drivers view of the intersection.  If that policy was followed, instead of letting 100 people get killed at the same intersection and waiting for some brilliant sole to finally realize all died at the same intersection,the problem could have been corrected much sooner. Would it not?  I try to avoid problamatic conditions from ever occuring through hazardous operation studies and continuous monitoring of safety procedures and investigation of industrial accidents and should an unusual pattern or some unforeseen condition develop that hasn't been covered in the study or previous work method statements, I correct them and insert a new procedure that (if followed) will prevent it from happening again, but then not everybody is really ISO 9001 compliant, are they?

As for Abqaiq, seems like the defense mechanism worked more or less as expected.  No damage occured to the facilities.  I'm sure they're reevaluating defense hardness to see if they can't prevent injury to the guards when the next incident happens, which is also probably expected.  I don't think anybody is sending the guards home or anything.

As for Abqaiq, seems like the defense mechanism worked more or less as expected.  No damage occured to the facilities.  I'm sure they're reevaluating defense hardness to see if they can't prevent injury to the guards when the next incident happens

As for Twin Towers 1990, seems like the defense mechanism worked more or less as expected.  No damage occured to the facilities.  I'm absolutely sure "they" [whoever they are] are reevaluating defense hardness :-)

As for Murphy's basic law, it's just another way of expressing the law of large numbers for probabilisitc systems.

IOW, given a finite P that things will go wrong, repeat it often enough and it will go wrong

I only mentioned Saudi Aramco, because I know what they do in those situations.  I have no idea what the World Trade Center security providers did or more likely did not do.

"IOW, given a finite P that things will go wrong, repeat it often enough and it will go wrong".  I agree there is a high probability of the occurrence of your event, if you refer to the customary definition of dependent or independent events and do the experiment "a sufficient number of times", however I believe Murphy Law, "Things go wrong at the worst possible moment in space and time", also implies the inclusion of another factor that attempts to describe an observed increase in probability of occurrence of sequential events (Things; plural) that are thought to be completely independent of any KNOWN logical connection to a given primary event, other than there being nothing more than a simple coincidence that event 2 happened sequentially to event 1.  In other words, he was attempting to account for often unknown relationships, feedback loops between systems with forcing functions that were impossible to describe analytically, to account for the dynamic interactions between complex systems.  Now, if we can agree that the worst possible time for system 2, 3,... n  to fail is immediately after 1,2 or n-1 has failed, I think its adequate to assume Murphy has dynamic complex system interactions nicely included.

Yes, I agree thanks. You are getting into the deeper analysis of how events unfold in a sequence --sort of a Rube Goldberg set of domino drops, one after the other on the time axis.

But go one step outwardly in the horizontal plane (time is fixed here) as well as down the vertical integration plane (where time advances to reveal a sequence of events). Suppose in each horizontal plane there are N things that can go wrong during that one instnce in time. Not all of them go wrong, maybe just one. But that one now cascades its effects into the next time slot. We then see a sequence of events going wrong.

Think of the more recent space shuttle disaster. Anything could have gone wrong during launch. The one that did go wrong was the tank foam (or the O-ring in the earlier disaster). That cascaded into the next thing going wrong, and the next one.

Good analysis.

Thanks.  Unfortunately, I like talking about this kind of stuff, so...   I've had to do some of the easier kinds of reliability and failure analysis for pipeline pump and power gen systems to rank different possible configurations of valves, pumps, tanks and generators to various levels of guarantee of supply or the  potential profits we could expect in building various systems.  An example would be, that if we had one pump we could guarantee (probably) 93% of maximum capacity, with two pumps, 97%, with 3; 98%, with 4; 98.33%.  What gets complicated is trying to quantify the probability of total transport system reliability when incorporating effects of somewhat independent subsystems, for ex. considering weather conditions at the marine terminal.  You can independently evaluate the pipeline mechanical items, but those component reliability figures don't include the compounding weather effects, like getting hit by lightning, which might knock out 1, 2 or 99 components all at the same time.  I was working at a marine terminal in Colombia and wile we were loading a tanker, a very powerful storm came up.  The winds got very high and in 5 minutes the ship was calling saying they were being blown off the loading buoy and had to drop the loading lines.  We had to hit the emergency stop button.  It just so happened that on the very morning a construction defect had forced us to deactivate our only emergency storage tank.  I suppose one could calculate the possibility of having a very bad storm on the exact same day the top corner of a tank got sucked in and was out of service, but it would be difficult to think of that back when you were designing the marine terminal, and nobody would believe you if you did calculate it.  They'd think you were nuts.  Then nobody would add another tank, just because you thought there was a 1:24,001 chance of both of them happening.  So, when it comes to comples interactions of independent systems, We just give them the easy answer, "Murphy's Law strike again".
  Thanks for your discussion.
The storm hit at an "inconvenient" time when the emergency tank was out. Suddenly there was no way of patching over the problem with the pulling out tanker.

Thanks for sharing this.

Thanks, I read the article some time ago in its print form at the Public Library.

Can't argue with you math. Numbers are irrefutable; we all know that;-)

In regard to Murphy's Law, the reason so few planes crash and so few ships sink is that, in general, things do not all go wrong at the same time: There is a huge amount of reduncancy built in. Dirty little secret: It is never (or almost never) the case that everything is working exactly right on a big ship or big airlplane, because they are so doggone complicated. The pilot or skipper makes the safety call, knowing that certain instruments are malfunctioning or that engines have been poorly maintained by scab mechanics, in the current case of NW airlines. For example, in the recent case of the NW Airlines plane being forced down due to fire from (I think it was) an oil or hydraulic leak, nobody was hurt. In other words, in an ideal world, we do everything right. In the real world, sometimes the Shuttle takes off with a faulty O-ring in cold weather, but to bring down a modern air liner, in general you need either a bomb, a cannon, a rocket, or an incredible amount of general stupidity and carelessness.

In regard to your flying ultra-light aircraft . . . um, I can recommend some medications to help you to deal with this form of mental illness. Why not take up soaring in conventional airplanes? Safe, fun, and not expensive, if you join a club.

Thanks for informing the flying public out there that in real world airplanes, things are always going wrong.

So true.

I used to work in aero-engineering, so I know. But the public needs to know that aero-enginerring standards are basically same as MIL spec. The boxes have to be rigourously tested (shake and bake tests) before they go on board a plane. Aero-engineers are trained in Murphy laws and they design in the redundancy or fail-safe systems so that, despite the fact that things are always going wrong, the plane continues to fly and appears as if everything is "normal" .

Our social systems are NOT designed that way. The founding fathers were not engineers. They did not put in enough, redundant levels of checks and balances. They did not put in a fail-safe design. So our ship of state is not sailing as well as a well-engineered boat may.

The beauty of the ultralights are they are as safe as you make them.  Just like a bike.  Crashed 3 times and only cut my finger.  Each time it was 100% my error and involved no mechanical fault, bad weather or anything else I can blame.  I keep a busted prop on my wall to help me remember I'm only 99% perfect.
Let me give you another type of growth.  Growth in long life capital investments that either create renewable energy or allow more efficient use of energy.

Hydroelectric dams are an obvious exmaple, but also railroad improvements like tunnels and electrification, Los Angeles's "Subway to the Sea", and myriad other transportation examples.

Wind turbines have an "issue" in they are expected to last 20 years.  Currently, rapid advances in technology/size  means that worn out WT infrastructure (except access roads) has little reuse.  So a "medium life" asset that has to be completely recycled.

However, since the limiting factor on the size of road access WTs is mobile cranes to eract and do occasional heavy maintencance, the next replacement generation in ~2027 is likely to be the same size and can use the same towers (a major cost component) and produce no more electricity (preserving the electrical infrastructure).

Hydroelectric sites were evaluated in the 1920s to 1950s based upon the economics of that day.  Storage was essential and almost no "run-of-river" schemes were developed.  Hydro had to compete against lower capital cost coal, oil and natural gas powered electricity plants.  In a new environment, the calculations of what is worth developing will change. Hydro has superb EROEI, it is just that the payback takes decades, but they last centuries.

Grand Coulee, Hoover, etc. have long since paid back their massive investments and continue to be ideal energy sources today and post Peak Oil.  But what of a 380 kW bulb turbine on that local stream with a small dam that runs, perhaps, 37% of the time ?

Low return on capital invested, and some occasional maintenance (a guy to pull out trash accumulated on the trash rack), but a good EROEI !

There was a great streetcar building era in the US from ~1895 till WW I.  Some before and after, but these were the peak years.  Roughly 20 years of rapid building.

In an early post-Peak Oil era, the resources to repeat this should be available and I am working, as best that I can, to promote this concept.

In the seond half of the 1800s (and early 1900s) some massive investments were made to improce the efficiency of railroads (tunnels, bridges, straightened lines, double & triple tracking, etc.) and much of that remains.  However, changes (mainly electrification and adding back lost track) are good investments in a post Peak Oil world.

Homes could become better insulated, better windows, sidewalks added, etc.  All very long life improvements.

Industrial processes also present many opportunities for improvements.  Solar preheating, more efficient processes, all specific to the industry in question.

So, "growth" may come in increasing the amount of renewable energy and the increasing the effiency of energy used as we experience dwindling oil supplies.

I see the first political hurdle as MUCH greater support for urban rail and freight rail electrification (my reason for joining this forum was to promote these concepts) and taking money from highway widening and building new highways.

Our population is higher than can be supported on solar energy alone...
No, it isn't.

Do the math.

care to prove him worng by doing the math yourself here?
You want me to rub it in?  Okay.

Total annual human energy consumption:  ~400 quads, ~4.2e20 Joules.
Power delivery from the Sun:  ~1360 W/m^2 * 1.28e14 m^2 = ~1.74e17 J/sec
Time to deliver a year's human energy consumption via sunlight: about 40 minutes.

Total available wind power world-wide, areas class 3 or greater:  estimated 72 terawatts (2150 quads/year).

Average US electric consumption:  450 GW (3,954 terawatt-hours per year)
Average insolation on a square meter of ground in mid-Kansas: 1150 kWh.
Typical PV panel efficiency: 13%
Area of Kansas required to meet 100% of US electrical consumption with PV:  2.64e10 m^2, 26400 km^2, 10,200 square miles.
Total area of Kansas:  82282 square miles.

We are literally awash in energy that cannot run out as long as the Sun exists.  The problem is engineering and building the systems to get it.

Thanks very much EP, for doing this.  I got up this morning thinking- aw shucks, somebody gotta do that, Simply sit down and  punch in the numbers, so what happens- you did it already!  GOOD.  

I would add a little observation.  Folks, when you talk about how hard it will be to get along with less, please look around to the past and to  other people right here and now for examples.  I  remember the '30's, with almost no electricity and lots and lots of work, but a good community spirit and plenty of the things we really needed- food, shelter, companionship, entertainment.   And then I think of the Japanese truck farmers I knew   just south of Spokane in the '50's, growing astounding amounts of produce with a lot of personal attention. And that fish pond in Bangladesh that produced so many fish from all the vegetation the farmers tossed into it daily. People have done it, and can do it.  And of course, the Cubans, the Chinese for 3000 years, and so on.

There are generally two ways to calculate "sustainable population."  (Well, two generally reasonable ways.  Rush Limbaugh likes to argue that you could fit the entire population of the world in the state of Texas.  He's right, but does anyone really think that would be sustainable?)

The "two billion" figure that is oft-quoted is, near as I can tell, from scientific work done in the '90s on the nitrogen cycle. They calculate how many people could be supported by the amounts of nitrogen that are available without synthetic fertilizer, and estimate the sustainable population that way.  IIRC, it came out to be 2 billion for the world, and about 200 million for the U.S.  Hence, the conclusion that we are in overshoot.

The other way is the way Stanton did it.  He simply looked back at history, and estimated how many people had been (barely) supported with solar energy alone (wind, water, but mostly "biofuel" in the form of agriculture).

I  remember the '30's, with almost no electricity and lots and lots of work, but a good community spirit and plenty of the things we really needed- food, shelter, companionship, entertainment.

There were roughly a third as many people in the U.S. back in the '30s.  That, I think, is what Hanson is worried about.  Even in the U.S., our population has exploded, and it's even worse for many other countries.

The sustainable population depends on the technology level and ammount of infrastructure. Manny kinds of resources can be recycled close to indefinately given enough energy. And nuclear power with breeder reactors or some kind of solar power with massive collection equipment can provide that. This gives enough variabels to get nearly any figure you want on the population limit.
The sustainable population depends on the technology level and ammount of infrastructure.

This is undoubtedly true, but which way it skews the numbers is open to debate.  Stanton calculated the barely-subsistence-level, up-against-the-Malthusian-limit number, then took 1/3 of that to get the number of people who could be supported at a "decent" standard of living.  IOW, he thinks a high standard of living will require a lower population.  

I suspect he is correct, simply from our history, and our experience with animal husbandry.  It's a lot easier to maintain a lower population.

They calculate how many people could be supported by the amounts of nitrogen that are available without synthetic fertilizer, and estimate the sustainable population that way.
That calculation could be thrown off completely by just one invention, such as nitrogen-fixing maize or algae which make not just starch from CO2 and sunlight, but fix their own nitrogen too.

I calculated the nitrogen which could be made from the gasification of corn crop wastes; it's several times as much as required to fertilize the corn.

The other way is the way Stanton did it.  He simply looked back at history...
Which implies that we can't make better use of wind and solar tomorrow than we did 75 years ago.  It should not be necessary to point out how preposterous this is.
I typed that mostly from memory, and I erred.  My example square meter in mid-Kansas gets 1550 kWh/yr, so the required area is 1.96e10 m^2 (7580 square miles).
Storage system to hold electricity when the sun isn't shining?
How do you make the solar panels with no fossil fuel inputs?
Solar panels need silicon and to 'grow'(google silicon production to find out more) silicon you need allot of electricity. Thus to make the amount of solar panels required would increase the amount electricity used. While the first set can be made via electricity produced with other fuel sources, such sources are in decline so you would over time need more and more solar panels to keep up the electricity loads for making more panels. Thats a nasty positive feedback loop.
Have any answers to that?
That's it exactly.  

Why is it that we are the first civilization to develop such advanced technology?  It's because we're the first that didn't have to rely solely on solar energy.  

In a solar-powered world, glass and steel are extremely expensive, because of the amount of energy they take to make.  There are some SCA types who try blacksmithing the old-fashioned way, and it takes an insane amount of wood or charcoal to forge, say, a sword.  Glass windows and steel blades were for the elite only, and I suspect solar panels will be as well.  

Ok, here are some  numbers  for you to work on.  The best current 1kW solar stirling engine needs about 8kg of steel & 7 square meters of glass at most (as thin as 1mm, depending on support methods).  And the rest of it takes maybe another 3kg of steel or whatever else is cheapest. Add to that 1kg of copper. So how long does that engine have to run to make another one? We can pretty much guarantee 100,000 hrs. life on the engine since every moving part is floating on gas bearings and the thermal stresses are low.

Since this is just a crude estimate, double all those mass numbers.  Then report back on what you get.

And while you're at it, look up the percapita energy use of the average US citizen in 1930 compared to today..

If you are making the silicon crystal type panels, the extra power to make the silicon crystals is balanced by the extra power made by the silicon crystals. If you make amorphous silicon crystals that don't make as much power, then you are not using as much power to make them.
I believe the payback is seven months doubling time either way. Doubling time is the time to make the entire installation in energy. That is, you need to pay back the cost over a short period of time, like seven years for a ten percent per year municipal bond. That means that if you need seven months to pay back the energy cost, then you need six years and five months to pay back the labor and equipment cost. Labor cost is much higher than equipment and energy and land cost for a solar plant. All kinds of solar plant.
Energy cost of a solar or wind plant is not a problem. We already can deal with that. It's labor cost that's a problem. Construction is expensive.
  1. Use electricity when available.  The goal in Iraq is to have power 12 hours/day (they have less today).  Industrial prcesses can "adapt".

  2. Wide spread HV DC grid to balance wind power for example (plus time delta East-West for solar).

  3. Pumped Storage and hydro with storage (the way that they are used today for peaking).
If there is still sufficient fossil fuels and minerals [buried and/or recycled] to build all the PVs and solar stirling engines we want-- the Sun provides more than enough daily energy.  As I mentioned in my earlier post: if insufficient fossil energy, then only a small percentage of the population will live an electrified lifestyle.  That is main reason why Kunstler calls our current infrastructure the greatest misallocation of energy and resources in all of our sordid history.  It is not humanly possible with a reasonable efficiency level to do many of the chores that our current heavy equipment easily accomplishes with fossil fuels.

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

thats about the same conclusion that i came out with.

No alternate power source has been proved to be viable without the input from the current fossil fuel system at a level that would not only prevent a die-off but provide room for more growth.
I even think it's a valid debate to talk about the idea that maybe some of the alternatives, if scaled past their current levels would hasten the decline.

What if Iceland starts a continous development of their renewable energy resources, trading for what they need with energy intensive exports & fish, and building much at home ?

And they end up with a mix of geothermal, hydro (run of river & stored) and wind that varies between 30 GW and 70 GW (average ~45 GW) plus 10s of GW of low pressure/temp steam for process heat ?

Add massive windfarms on Greenland later, along with some hydroplants.

Perhaps they expand to the Falklands and other Artic islands.

A massive infrastructure of renewal energy and heavy industry with a small skilled labor force is clearly sustainable.  This base alters the equations of doom and sustainable equilibrium.

     Fish might not be the best example at this point.  That said, I really wish I was a little younger and a little richer and could relocate to Iceland.  Unless, of course, the shutdown of the Gulf Stream really makes it a lot colder...
If you send someone up to shovel the snow off the roof, there is one chance in a thousand he will fall off and kill himself. If you don't, there is one chance in a million that the roof will collapse and kill someone.
Don't send people up on roofs without a good reason, and snow is not a good reason. Evacuate the building.
Diesel Shortage Hits North Rift Region

NAIROBI - Farming activities in the North Rift region have been thrown into disarray due to an acute shortage of diesel. The situation has been made worse by the region's agriculture sector being highly mechanised.

The fuel shortage has dealt a serious blow to farmers who are currently busy preparing their farms, ahead of anticipated long rains next month. The high demand for the commodity has overwhelmed the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) depot at Eldoret, which has been unable to meet local and export demands.

Most petrol stations in the region lack diesel, and a survey by The Standard yesterday revealed that petrol stations have started hoarding the commodity raising fears of price hike.

" serious blow to farmers who are currently busy preparing their farms, ahead of anticipated long rains next month. "Timing is often crucial in farming.
On a stream of conciousness note, what do folks think of the Norweigian Oil Bourse idea? It's a good idea for a country past peak trying to keep its hands on as many petrostrings as it can! Hey, maybe now we'll see a huge anti-Norway propaganda campaign saying it is in the Axis Of Evil and is up to no good building the bomb.

Think it will generate as much eschatological blogging as the Iranian version? The blog buzz of prognostications about M3 non-disclosure, Iranian Oil Bourse, Japan's sudden coming rate hikes, civil war unravelling in Iraq, housing bubble, you name it, it's getting deafening.

We should all start making an effort in posting some counter-apocalyptic news to hear the other side of the story. I guess I could just watch CNN...

Don't dismiss the noises that quickly. They may not contain the truth but may contain some part of it. Actually as a sworn conspiraciofil a can not help but notice the following line:

The plans have been discussed for years, but have never gone past the stage of being just talk.

And why if I may ask?...

I have been treated to hour long discourses by groups of Icelanders on the many and varied character faults of Norwegians, why they steal Icelandic fish (THAT is the root cause I suspect), are difficult to do business with, are arrogant, deceitful, suspicous, legalistic, indecisive, conquered Iceland and ended their independence, "We would still be a colony if we had not been given to the Danes" etc.

The Swedes feel less strongly (Finns have a special place I understand) but they could be another source of Norwegian bashing.

When I pointed out that most Icelanders are descended from Norwegians, I have been told "just the men, the women came from Ireland (confirmed by deCode)"  and "All the good ones left for Iceland and America".

So there is a good base to start from :-P

BTW: Magnus, how are Islandur viewed in Sweden ?  They think that they are percieved as "country bumpkons" but mainly ignored, which hurts their considerable pride (although they laugh at their "small nation" pride as well).

I have heard from my Norwegian relatives that Swedes tell Norwegian jokes where the theme is how stupid Norwegians are. :-)

Wow, the mind boggles.  Norwegian ethnic profiling... FBI interviews about conversations at Lutefisk feeds... Informers in the Sons of Norway... Pat Robertson railing against Lutheranism...

For more than thirty years I've been collecting jokes based on stereotypes of Scananavians by other Scandanavians:
  1. Finns are the most hated and most negatively stereotyped. Perhaps this is because they invented the sauna and the others (inwardly) feel they are the cleanest.
  2. Norwegians everywhere are stereotyped as rude, crude, not too bright, maybe decent but basically slow.
  3. Swedes are neurotic, degenerate, not-to-bright descendants of woodcutters.
  4. Danes are overfed, oversexed, and "over here" (as tourists) Besides, their men are all in thrall to their cigar-smoking women.
  5. Icelanders carry knives. Do not mess with them.

There are many many variations on these themes. Used to date a beautiful Swede, a dead ringer for Bibi Anderson (the famous and sexiest actress of all time in some of Ingmarr Bergmann's films) and about her only flaw was her extreme negative stereotypeing of Norskis. In Minnesota Finnlander jokes outnumber all other kinds, especially in Northern Minnesota where people of Finnish ancestry are a large minority.

As a sociologist, I find this stereotyping fascinating. As a human being, I do not know whether to laugh or to cry.

None of any of this is true.  I've been from Kirkenes to Stavanger to Oslo, stopping in every town and working with Norwegians, Swedes, Icelanders and Finns.  The only ones harder than any other to get along with are the Finns, and it ain't all that hard.  They all tell UT and Texas Aggie versions of how many Californians does it take to change a lightbulb.  


Finns are distrusted a little because of their closer prior association with the Soviet Union than other Scandi countries.  Yes!  There is a spy chip in all Nokias.

Norwgians have a few problems with Swedish folks, because a lot of them blame Sweden for "cooperating" with the Germans and allowing them to pass more or less freely into Norway through Sweden.  Not sure if it's true or how much cooperation was actually involved.  A lot of countries didn't have a whole lotta choice in that matter.

Norwgians eat too many sardines and very brown cheese for breakfast, and are too happy about their oil reserves right now, but are good members of NATO so far, so if I was you I wouldn't be pissing them off.

Icelanders have a lot of geothermal secrets they might share with you if you MYOB as well as they do.

That's it in my nutshell.

> Not sure if it's true or how much cooperation was actually involved.  A lot of countries didn't have a whole lotta choice in that matter.

All of it is probably true.

Sweden made a massive disarmement after the first world war and started the rearmement too late. About half of our air force, large ammounts of other equipment and ammunition and manny volunteers were sent to Finland when Sovjet attacked Finlad as a part of the nazi and Soviet split up of eastern europe. When Sweden mobilized most of the army where sent North to defend against a Sovjet invasion thru Finland. Or if you are more conspiracy minded to protect the northern iron mines from being destroyed by Great Britain.

Anyway we had lousy pants and they were down around or knees when nazi Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. Our main defence was probably to threathen to blow up our iron mines, heavy industry logistics, steel works and ball bearing plants if Germany attacked. I think those preparations are documented but I have not checked it.

And then we traded quite a lot with nazi Germany, probably prologing the war significantly by providing them with critical supplies in exchage for coal, weapons, money and not being attacked. We also traded with Great Britain, there were Swedish ball bearings in aeroplanes etc on both sides of the front. The ammounts changed in favor of the allies as the war progressed. We either got bolder as the nazis got weaker or they could not pay as well or both things at the same time. We were definately paranoid about survival and and it has been said that the civil defence stockpiles actually were slightly larger after the war ended then before it started.

We did help nazi Germany with train transportation to and from Norway and there were probably some nazi logistics stockpiles on Swedish ground. But we also helped the Norwegian and Danish resistance. A cute energy related anecdote is that the HVAC cables between Sweden and Denmark had telephone wiering unknown to the occupying nazis that were used for information exchange with the resistance during the occupation. We also trained "police" forces to be used in an allied liberation of Denmark and Norway but the war ended with a nazi withdrawal withouth any fighting.
Those nazi forces were proably the most lucky ones in the war, the damned fools almost wiped themselves out in their idiotic war.

We did not deport any Jews to nazi Germany and people who go t to Sweden were mostly lucky with a very shamefull exeption. After the war we sent a large number of Baltic refugees to Sovjet on Stalins request and they were executed.

Our foreign policy during WW 2 where a masterfully executed ass licking to litteraly translate a short Swedish expression about a self degarding way to appease a stronger power.

Then oil became cheap, the Marshall aid were given to manny european countries and the only ones with unhurt industries were Switzerland and Sweden, our Socialists dident do any realy stupid experiments for about 25 years. We got rich, extremely rich compared to the rest of the world. At least quite a lot of it was invested in infrastructure, even in the railroads although they no longer were the future in the age of the car.

Some 10^11 - 10^12 modern dollars were invested in defence during the cold war. We more or less planned for a worse version of WW 2 and we had a civil defence that would make survivalists cry. Most of this is gone now. It would have cost a small fraction of the investment to keep a civil defence making a year long total break down in world trade a minor irritation. I realy hate those decisions made during the 80:s and 90:s. But at least we started to invest massively in the rail network in the 90:s.

I expect that a peak oil crisis will result in a similar well planned and over dimensioned response that should have been started a few years earlier. My guess is that our current prime minister and his staff that probably will loose the next election pray for a quick and massive crisis to hopefully get some voters from their peak oil initiative.

Such a crisis is perfect to display statemanship and it needs good statemanship and they have had a number of embarrasing failuers. The last one was yesterday evening when it got public that they from their own party headquarters had sent made up degrading emails with made up personal problems regarding the opposition leader. I do not know if the police investigation will continue but this is quite a scandal and the first time in Swedish politcs such a thing has happened in such a scale. Leadership turning corrupt, it needs to be changed. They have been all over the news appologizing today but this will cost them core voters. Something is fishy inside our largest party, last parlament election an election fraud regarding at least dozens of votes were discovered, another depressing first for Swedish politics. :-(

From yesterdays embarrasing and depressing real-politics to todays moral failures, I hope I dont bore you with off topic rambling.

I am sometimes a slow thinker. I matched former civil defence storge sites I know about and railways and it is reasonable that the survival of so much of the rail network during the cheap oil years is partly due to the old preparations for any new WW 2 like war. Sometimes it is good to prepair for disasters.

How did USA civil defence work? Do you have any old plans or investments that are usefull for an oil peak downslope?

Well, we didn't need so much CD except in Hawaii and the Alutian Islands, so as far as I know there's not much to see these days, a few coastal gun emplacements, abandoned air training bases and such.  There are some coastal gun emplacements on the seawall at Galveston and the most unusual installation is an old derigible base farther to the southwest (near Bryan Mound SPR Site) with some old blimp hangers out there.  I found it by accident when I got lost going to the SPR.  Derigibles were used for spotting German subs lurking in the GOM.  After the U-166 attacked the Robert E. Lee it was sighted a couple of days later and sunk.  It was then lost.  When I was building offshore pipelines in the 80's, I'd always look real hard to see if I could find it on the side-scan sonar plots I'd get for pipeline route confirmation.  If I found it, I was planning  to get a dive boat out there and personally "salvage" a few of the choice bits, but I never got lucky.  Just as good that I didn't find it.  In 2001 BP and Shell did find it while doing an ROV pipeline survey.  It was in 1500 m (5000 ft) of water.  Tooooooo deep for me.

There's some gun platforms still left off the Panama Canal.  The gun emplacements in Galveston were turned into a pretty wild disco in the 70's.  Oddly enough the blimp base is the only one I know of that is being used for petroleum work these days.  Its a drill and line pipe storage yard.  A lot of the old air bases have been taken over by the local county governments.  Its kinda' funny to be flying over a tiny little 3 horse town with no traffic lights and see a giant airport with 3 wide runways a mile and a half long next to it, but most of those old air bases are only inhabited by road runners, horned toads and dust devils.

Forgot,  Swedes take their clothes off in front of too many English folks.  I didn't mind at all.
Lutefisk - aaaarggg.

Norway is commonly regarded as the only functioning communist state in existence :-)  They have used their oil wealth to raise the living standards of the entire population - you do not see the extremes of wealth which exists elsewhere. The surplus is being fed into the Pension (formerly Petroleum) Fund, the largest single fund in the world, presently worth around 190 Billion dollars.
For a population of 4 1/2 million that is a considerable investment.   As someone posted recently, however, it remains to be seen if the value will disappear in the coming economic upheaval.
In the ten years I have worked in Norway I have observed more genuine concern for the enviroment and for other people than anywhere else I can think of.

Stupidiy - we need more like that.  (Commercial over).

Heh.  On my mother's side, they all came from Norway.  On my father's side, they all come from Sweden, so I get it from both sides.

Both Norweigians and Swedes tell the same stupid jokes - just transpose the nationality.  Sometimes Norweigians tell jokes about Norweigians - other times it is about Swedes.  It doesn't matter that much really - the only real requirement is that the basic joke be funny.  I very seldom hear any of this type of thing being told in a mean-spirited kind of way though.

I don't hear many people picking on the Danes though.  Nor the Finns.  My Norwegian relatives joked once how spoken Danish sounds like having a potato caught in the throat - I wonder if the Dutch influence might have something to do with it.

One thing I noticed, having many Danish relatives, is that to do a proper Danish accent you have to put your voice back into your "troat"

BTW, all the scandahoovians here ... is it a congenital fear of the long dark winter that makes us latch onto peak oil?

Iceland is as I see it not very visible in Swedish culture, everybody know about Iceland but too few visit. The most common ambassador is the popular iceland horse. I dont know about any degrading jokes or so.

I suspect that a manny Swedish people are not realy comfortable with having Norway as a richer neighbour, Denmark having a stronger currency and they seeem to often have more fun and Finland as better managed with better schools, defence, energy policy, etc. We used to be the strongest, richest and proudest of the Nordic countries and could smugly nod to each other and smile about our neighbours. I hope we copy what our neighbours do better then us.

But I think most people realy like them and I think it has been so for quite a long time. Finland used to be a part of Sweden before Russia conquerd 2/5 of Sweden. Denmark was the traditional arch enemy but that was a long time ago. Norway was forced into a union with Sweden and the split up is almost in living memory. We like them anyway even if they party a lot on their independance day. We had a free travel withouth passports long time before EU and cooperations on manny levels. I would not be at least suprised if a split up of EU would be followed by a nordic union.

Ha!  The propaganda against Norway has already begun.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threatened Norway with "serious political consequences" after Finance Minister and Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen admitted to supporting a boycott of Israeli goods.

It would be interesting to compile a list of demonizations -- I don't mean the usual ones, Islamics, Arabs, communists. I mean the new ones since 9-11 and the beginning of endless war. The Germans briefly, then the French for a longer period, the Spanish a little after they didn't vote right, sometimes it looks like the Canadians might be getting a cold blast from the south. Turkey went thru some bad spots. There are a lot more, but my memory is failing me.

Falling short of demonization is something like the incident with the Indian chemist who was just denied a visa, causing a big stir there.

It's unfair really. We in the US have such lousy memories and are required to remember so many demons. The rest of the world, with much better memories, have only one demon to worry about.

Wind power in the USA!  2,430 MW of new power in 2005 for a total of 10,030 MW!  Its better than nuthin',2933,185682,00.html

My employer has acquired a hydrogen vehicle.  A Honda FCX.  It has a range of 120 miles, supposedly. Which is better than our natural gas vehicles and a hell of a lot better than our electric cars.

Peons like me won't be allowed to drive it, though.  :)

@envy on
Where will he recharge it?
@envy off

I was wondering whether they can not start selling a portable electrlyser + compressor, allowing you to use hydrogen pretty much like batteries.

It has to be recharged at the office.  It's the same with the electric cars, only they have a range of about 50 miles - which means you can only go about 25 miles.  

The natural gas vehicles are more convenient, because they can be filled at gas company branches.

Here they say these cost $1.5 million... drive carefully if you get your hands on it.
That's probably why only top brass are allowed to drive it.  :)

I don't think we paid for it, though.  It's a loan, just for a month or two.  A free sample, in hopes of making future sales.  Or maybe a beta-test.  I think they require that it be parked on the street in front of the building while not in use.  Free advertising and all.

Yeap, the article says that Honda is not selling them just leasing because of the price.

It's a pity, I got so excited that I started searching where I can buy one. I suppose it is the fuel cells that are driving the costs to the sky.

I'm sure part of the pricetag is that they aren't being mass-produced.  And it's probably not in Honda's interest to mass-produce them until there's a market.  And there won't be a market until there's a hydrogen infrastructure in place.  
What if they have a fuel cell design that cannot be mass-produced?  Then it becomes a truism that the price is high "because" of the lack of mass production ... but unforunately mass production cannot simply be started on a whim.
The cost to make a fuel cell car is reported to be $1,000,000

Good on you for offering to support that ;-)

That was before I made the research :)
A fuel cell prototype costs 1,000,000 dollars. A fuel cell production car will cost 10,000 dollars because they will use batteries for most of power that a car needs when accelerating, and the fuel cells for cruising.
Nobody's going to be building fuel cell cars without batteries because it would take as much gasoline as running one of those ultralight cars with a diesel engine that Lovins keeps harping on.
Certain things fall as soon as you go into mass prodution ... if you have a design ready and suited to mass production.

Compare and contrast to the days when "turbine cars" were right around the corner ...

Don't write off turbine cars. We are making progress in nanocrystal ceramics. A ceramic turbine (probably a Tesla type for simplicity) will burn the high sulfur ultraheavy crude that needs a heated tank to stay liquid. Or anything else, come to think of it.
But not the high solids crude that is coming out of some of those fields.

Another article about hydrogen-powered cars.  In the comments, someone notes the problems about getting the hydrogen, but another commenter states that there is plenty of hydrogen produced at oil refineries.

Yes, strictly speaking hydrogen is produced at oil refineries.

 But it is my understanding that almost all of the hydrogen streams that are generated by the various refining processes are used internally to produce the lighter hydrocarbons that make up the principal components of gasoline and other light liquids. Very little of it, probably none in many cases, is actually  exported from the refinery as hydrogen gas.

Thus, I don't think one can consider an oil refinery as a 'source' of gaseous hydrogen. (Somebody out there more intimately familiar with refinery operations please correct me if I'm wrong.)

I'm undecided whether it makes more sense to try to use hydrogen directly as a fuel, as  in a fuel cell, or to use the hydrogen to make light liquid fuels from heavy oil, coal, or tar sands. Both approaches have their pros and cons.


Keep an eye on this Supreme Court case that will have a major impact on water power. The technical issue is whether water from dams needs a discharge permit, with important stakes on both sides. The material below is a case summary from Cornell Law School and the link goes to more information, including briefs and other materials.

S.D. Warren Co. v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection
    Oral argument date: Feb 21, 2006


Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires that a facility
requiring a federal license, such as a nuclear power plant,
must receive state water quality certification when it
engages in activities "which may result in any discharge"
into lakes and rivers. In this case, the Supreme Court will
decide whether water flowing through hydroelectric dams
constitutes a "discharge." Petitioner Warren argues that
the mere flow of water through an existing dam does not
constitute a discharge on the grounds that the Supreme
Court had previously held in the Miccosukee case that the
term "discharge" requires an addition of water to the
existing flow from a distinct body of water, and thus does
not refer to the removal and replacement of water from and
to the same body of water. Respondent Maine
Board of Environmental Protection and other respondents
contend that state water quality certification is required
for dams because the definition of discharge used in the
Miccosukee case can be distinguished from this case.
The resolution of the conflicting
definitions followed by Miccosukee and state environmental
protection boards will have far-reaching effects on the
profitability and efficiency of hydroelectric dams, energy
production generally, and the environment.

According to the Hydropower Reform Coalition, there are roughly 2,500 hydroelectric dams affecting more than 500 rivers in 45 states that could be affected by this case. If Warren is successful in defining "discharge" narrowly, such that hydroelectric dams will no longer be subject to state regulation under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, then a significant environmental protection barrier to hydroelectric dam operation will be removed. While a victory for Warren would leave federal regulation intact, it would also essentially prevent all state regulation of other hydroelectric dams. Without state regulation, hydroelectric dams similar to those operated by Warren could be able to operate with possibly less regard for environmental considerations such as the depletion of fisheries and the degradation of river ecosystems, unless federal law directly addressed the issue. Although Warren's dams do not discharge pollutants into the river, the dams reduce the amount of oxygen dissolved into the water (which may degrade the river's ecosystems), pose a significant hazard to wildlife attempting to pass through the dam's turbines and bypass channels, and may impede some recreational access to and use of the river. Brief for Respondent BEP at 10.

much more at

This is an excellent example of rising prioritization conflict as various power groups jockey for the various resources [water, wildlife, hydropower, irrigation, etc] of a drainage basin.  Here is a link to the rising multi-country conflict over Lake Victoria in Tanzania, Uganda, etc:

excerpt now, because most of the article is behind a paywall [my AB#24255 goes into greater detail]:
The United Nations has accused Uganda of draining Lake Victoria to maintain its electricity supplies, despite an impending environmental catastrophe as water levels in Africa's largest lake drop to their lowest in 80 years.

The water is three metres below its normal level, leaving the jetties where pleasure boats moor and the landing sites where fishermen sell their catch high above the water.

Article Length: 405 words (approx.)

Generally, the elites' desires for electricity dominates the poor proles desires for biodiverse abundance.

A key quote from a link in my AB posting:
African businessmen and politicians literally laugh off the warning, with one well-fed and obviously wealthy man announcing, "We are here for one common purpose. We are here to sell Lake Victoria."

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

Coinage of our brave new world:

Three factors are driving globalization in its present form.  I like to think of them as a form of currency.  I can happily report that economists have finally recognized the first two:

Tax arbitrage:  A country offers significant tax breaks to corporations.  Ireland and China--strange bedfellows--are high on this list, as are the tax havens in the Caribbean.  

Labor arbitrage: A country offers a cheap labor source to corporations.  Mexico and China are fine examples.

Environmentalists are well aware of the last coin, but mainstream economists are very reluctant to acknowledge it.  Unfortunately, environmentalists tend to be a wordy lot; we get lost in their concern for polar bears and the Thermohaline Circulation.

Environmental arbitrage: The last of the big three, which I hope will be minted shortly.  China and Mexico are of course stellar performers in this regard. Simply put: Go where environmental regulations are weak or non-existent--and keep them that way.

These three capture the spirit of globalization rather well.  They are the real currency.

Language is very curious: Things do not become real until we have the means of easily identifying them.  I offer all three of these in the hopes that these very simple expressions become as common as pennies.  When they do, then we may a way of talking simply and directly to those who struggle with what is happening.  Each can be tied to all the issues this blog has explored, even our dependency on fossil fuels.  Each is an opening into a very complex event.

Perhaps then we can coin some new terms that more adequately express what we want this world to be.

This "arbitrage" stuff sounds impressive but I don't think it is an accurate way to think of globalization.

Technically, arbitrage refers to profiting from differences in prices in different areas. You buy stuff low at point A and sell it high at point B. For this analogy to apply to the cases at hand, it would mean that companies would profit from the differences in policies in different nations. Tax arbitrage would mean that a company profits because taxes are lower in one place than another. Labor arbitrage implies profits due to labor price differentials; and environmental arbitrage means profits from different environmental policies.

But actually, I don't think that these are truly cases of arbitrage, because the profit is not due to the differentials. In true arbitrage, the profit opportunity would vanish if the difference disappeared. But in these cases, profits would not disappear if less-favorable countries adopted more-favorable policies.

Consider tax arbitrage, for example. Suppose Western nations adopted the same tax policies as tax havens. This would not eliminate profit opportunities! Instead, it would actually let companies make even more money because they could avoid the difficulty and expense of having to manage an international operation. Likewise with labor costs: if they fell to Third World levels in the West, that would improve profit potential, exactly the opposite of what should happen if it were a case of arbitrage. And the same with environmental policies: if Western nations eliminated environmental restrictions, it would be beneficial for the companies involved, whereas if arbitrage were involved such changes would eliminate profits.

I hope this makes it clear that these phenomena are not a matter of arbitrage. Rather, these are simply differences in policies and costs in different parts of the world. This leads to what we call division of labor, meaning that each area specializes in those products and services that it has a comparative advantage in producing.

It can be shown that this kind of arrangement maximizes the total economic productivity of the world. World economic production is much higher when we have this kind of differentiation than when every region tries to produce everything on its own. If we didn't have international trade, we would all be paupers. More trade and more globalization is the best hope we have for economic growth. That is what will continue to give future generations the expectation of improving economic conditions and better lives.

Globalization is based on cheap fossil fuels and cannot be sustained without them. Personally, I see it as a global race to the bottom in terms of standards of every kind. Just because someone can make a profit from delivering a caesar salad from thousands of miles away, does this necessarily make it a sensible thing to do? Should we maximize private profit and externalize the costs whatever the consequences? Do you think the trickle-down effects of those profits will always outweigh the externalities? If so, for whom? Do the costs and the benefits coincide? If not, whose future generations will be better off and whose will pay the price? Will the former or the latter group be growing over time?

IMO globalization has encouraged the development of an unsustainable web of interdependencies, the inevitable collapse of which will cause great suffering. The pursuit of comparative advantage has left us vulnerable to supply disruptions in the name of economic efficiency. It has led to the loss of skills necessary for self-sufficiency, both at the national and the individual level. The price for that will have to be paid by the future generations who were supposed to be better off.  

The benefit is only to small groups, and also short term.  The benefits are intended for those at the top economically, although others sometimes benefit too (accidentally).  The rest of us are indeed on a race to the bottom, where we will meet our overseas brethren.  
Oil/Gas and some mining globalizations are based on cheap fuel and deposit locations.  

Other globalization industries are based only on access to what we would call slave labour.

The first form was always practiced.  The second is/was practiced whenever labour had too much power and started cutting into corporate profits.

Consider tax arbitrage, for example. Suppose Western nations adopted the same tax policies as tax havens. This would not eliminate profit opportunities!

Yes it will not reduce the company profits but will reduce the government profits. The government will not have money to build infrastructure, for education etc. and the business and people will suffer. So somebody has to pay in the end.

In the case of arbitrage of costs, companies are reducing their costs on the expense of government / employees / environment.

In theory a better organized government, higher productivity or government support for cleaner technologies (tax breaks) could compensate for this and make a country more attractive. But in practice these things are not efficient enough, and in the quest for investments countries cut form education and healthcare, keep a lower labor cost and overlook environment.

Yes, it is a means of exploiting differences in prices.  Technically, you are correct.  However, slowly but surely "labor arbitrage" and "tax arbitrage" have crept into economic vocabulary.

Examples: Roche has used both, in much the same way that I have used them.  Setser has used both...finally.  Now, tax arbitrage was used in terms of transfer pricing. I could give easily give examples of where "transfer pricing" is nothing more than the taking advantage of tax differentials.  In fact, I think I did.  Although they are not presently illegal--Bahamas, for example, and tax havens--, most would find them morally reprehensible.  I do.

Recently, Setser used "labor arbitrage"...again, in much the same way I have.  Both of these gentlemen are serious economists and/or commentators.

Language is not static, no matter how hard we purists (and I am one) try to make it stay put.  I have loosened the definition a bit, but it certainly does not seriously violate its meaning.  We are dealing with the exploitation of differentials in cost, and I do not use the term "exploitation" in a necessarily pejorative sense.

While the market place looks upon certain kinds of arbitrage as a means of hmmmm producing wealth, I look at other forms of arbitrage as dangerous both economically and, obviously, environmentally.

Maybe I'm being pedantic in trying to pin down the meaning of the word too closely. (BTW for the benefit of readers who have not heard it spoken, "arbitrage" is pronounced as in French, "ahr - but - rahzh".)

The point is, though, that I get the impression that these phrases are meant in a somewhat cynical and almost sarcastic way: labor arbitrage, environment arbitrage, carry connotations of exploitation and rapacious behavior.

One could just as easily speak of education arbitrage, taking advantage of the greater education levels of Western employees and using them in jobs of higher skill levels. Or infrastructure arbitrage, focusing employment efforts on regions that have well developed communication and transportation infrastructure. These are just as meaningful but have more positive connotations.

Once you dilute the word to refer to the general phenomenon of employment based on whatever local conditions give a region its comparative advantages, it loses much of its meaning.

I think the sarcastic decoration is in your eyes only. The original post was simply systemizing some obvious things.
Ack.  Fix the link, please!

According to this article, the new pipeline will provide a big 7% of U.S. demand.

 $25 billion pipeline carrying natural gas from Alaska to the lower 48 states would play an important role in satisfying the nation's long-term supply needs, but experts say it will not reverse America's rising dependence on imports or cause fuel prices to plunge.

Alaska moved the project to the front burner on Tuesday when it reached a tentative pact with three oil companies to build a pipeline to transport up to 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day -- an amount equal to 7 percent of present U.S. demand.

yeah, yeah.  it's fixed.  :)

ah, the alacrity with which we must build the infrastructure to extend our crack habit...

Thanks!  :)

That's basically what this article, from MarketWatch, says:

A plan by three big oil companies to run a natural gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope to the Midwest shows the lengths the energy industry is now willing to go to secure supplies for the ever-growing demands of the marketplace.

It also helps illustrate why the industry is increasingly turning to shipments of liquefied natural gas to meet the need, and why it could be a very long time before North America sees another pipeline project of this magnitude.

"This is going to be one of the longest pipelines ever built," said Robert Ineson, director of North American natural gas at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "It makes the standard long-haul pipeline from Louisiana to New York look like a short-haul line."

Re Nat Gas Pipeline...

The construction costs are going to be at least 10 billion above where they project right now unless commodity inflation ceases and reverses. Fat Chance!

Does anyone know what the ultimate volume recovery of the field(s) will be and what price they are projecting to give this 10 year mega project the green light?

From the NY Times:

As envisioned, the pipeline would move 4.5 billion to 6 billion cubic feet of gas daily and begin operating sometime from 2012 to 2014. Alaska has an estimated 35 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

They don't mention what price they hope to get, but they do quote various experts saying the pipeline won't be worth it if gas prices drop...and many are expecting gas prices to drop.

From what I have read on this site and others, if natural gas is piped south instead of reinjected into the oil fields, the Alaskan oil production will plummet. If that is true, I guess you can kiss goodbye to medium percentage of US oil production.
The injection NG will be substituted for something cheaper now that it is no longer "stranded".
Its been planned for a long time.  They've just been constantly revising the ROI as the price of materials and construction labour varies while they've been waiting for the gas price to rise enough to pay one of those scenarios off.  It hasn't risen enough before to get any financing interest.  Gas price projections are UP UP UP these days, so I expect it is obviously true that financing has been secured and the pipeline materials requisitions will be out shortly.  Get your Sumitomo stock now ..opps!  forget that .. too late. Is Willbros up yet?
Alaska has an estimated 35 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

And the US uses how much of NG each year??  

Natural Gas in the US (2005):

  • Reserves = 5,488 billion cubic metres
  • Consumption = 542 billion cubic metres|0?xoidcmWopk&portalId=0&lan g=en&sessionId=8909734

Converted into cubic feet
*    Reserves - 187 trillion cubic feet
*    Consumption - 22 trillion cubic feet

I'm going to do a repost from one I did at the end of the Tuesday open thread (no one will se it there):

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).

Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket.  

Sunni party quits Iraq government talks after mosque  bombing

More than 100 dead in revenge attacks; 7 U.S. soldiers killed

Iraq's most powerful Sunni Muslim party quit talks to form a new government Thursday after reprisal attacks for the bombing of an important Shiite mosque.

Amid reports of more than 100 killings nationwide -- many of them Sunni Muslims -- the Sunni Accord Front announced it is leaving political unity talks after meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

This is probably great news for Iran.  We'll be way too busy with Iraq to do anything about Iran.

You're responding to one day of events. Yesterday a bombing, today everyone's talking about civil war. Isn't it possible that this is a bit of an overreaction? Ever think about waiting a few days to see if things settle down or not, to get a little bit longer-term view of the situation?

You can't get a read on things like this in the heat of the moment. You certainly can't predict weeks or months ahead, Saudi Arabian involvement, U.S. changing its loyalties, etc., etc. When you track every twist and turn in these ongoing world dramas, and try to extrapolate each day's events forward, you will inevitably overreact.

It's too bad that the proposed Policy Analysis Market that would predict Middle Eastern events got shot down for political reasons. That would have provided an objective measure of how much we should really worry about events.

Look at what has happened in Iran and then Nigeria. Oil market prices can serve as a useful proxy for how bad things are going there. A few weeks ago everyone was panicked about Iran, but then things settled down, and the market fell back below 60. Then the big panic was Nigeria, but that was a one-day wonder and again the market is heading back down.

These market prices give us a quantitative measure of how worried insiders are about oil supply interruptions due to unrest in these countries. The fact that Nigerian worries evaporated so quickly is a strong clue that those heavily dramatized events were actually not as bad as they sounded, although to read comments here one would think were just about to shut down the whole country. I wish we had something to provide similar data for Iraq and the rest of the region, like the PAM would have done.

I'm rather curious, Halfin. Surely you can prove the "objective" qualification you give to the markets by assessing past markets against world events? So please tell me, how well did the markets see what was coming in July of 1914? How about November of 1941? Or maybe September of 1929? Did the market foresee the Arab oil embargo in 1973? Did the market foresee the fall of the USSR?

I think that hindsight demonstrates that when massively disruptive events occur that the "market" fails to see those til after the fact. However, if you can demonstrate some provable correlation between what the "market" "knows" at various points in time and major historical events, then please do so. But clucking about how such a futures market "would be" predictive doesn't make it so.

In fact, I suspect that assessment of past markets would demonstrate the cluelessness of the investment community as to ongoing world events. I have no reason to believe that today is any different either, unless of course you have data to demonstrate otherwise.

Sure, you can find times when the markets did badly. But at those times, almost by definition, society did not expect those changes. They came as a surprise. And no doubt there were a few people each time who turned out in hindsight to be correct in warning about those events, but historically there is no such thing as an infallible crystal ball.

And there are constantly people warning about disaster. I have had friends and associates involved with disaster communities since the 1970s. Ever hear of Howard Ruff? Gary North? They are just two examples of countless prophets of doom who have turned out to be wrong.

The point of markets is that they reward being right. If you have an infallible guide to the future that shows that market prices are wrong, you can get rich very easily. Needless to say, such oracles are in great demand!

Claiming that markets are totally misjudging the future requires maintaining that market participants choose to ignore obvious and virtually infallible information, preferring to lose money than to make it. That is exactly the opposite of how I observe the world to work.

The truth is that, for all the certainty and confidence around here about predictions of doom, the evidence is simply not all that conclusive. There is a good case to be made that today's high prices will restrain demand and/or elicit enough additional supply to avoid a crisis for at least the next several years. IMO this is what a straightforward reading of market behavior is telling us.

In other words, you have no data to support the hypothesis that the market is somehow accurate in predicting massively disruptive events. Thank you for that clarification, Halfin.

Note that I do not dispute the market's ability to predict the "norm" but I do dispute the market's ability to predict the unexpected, precisely because it is not expected. Your assumption that the scientific data is being understood by those who move the levers of the market is far more generous than I am willing to make based on the market's own behavior in the past. For instance, the market was unwilling to incorporate the risk factors from asbestos until it reached a critical mass yet the risk factor was present all along.

Finally, I've heard of Gary North and Howard Ruff. Both were trying to predict economic disaster. That's a bit removed from analysis of resource depletion and climate change. I think you trying to equate the two is a strawman.

I agree that you can't really expect markets to predict the unexpected, because after all, if the markets are predicting something, then it's not really unexpected, is it? At least, not any more.

What markets are particularly good at is consolidating all of the information and all the different points of view in society, and bringing them together in a forum where people are required to back up their opinions with real money. Markets eliminate "cheap talk" and wild speculations, forcing every participant to seriously examine his own preconceptions and assumptions and test them against the emerging consensus. Market participants are risking their hard-earned money, forcing them to do their best to make their bets and guesses as accurate as possible.

Few institutions in society do such a good job of motivating and rewarding accurate guesses and punishing error. You certainly don't see politicians or pundits suffering the kind of discipline imposed by the markets. How many of us offering opinions in this forum are testing our ideas by betting our future prosperity on their truth? That's what people do every day in the markets. It is what makes them IMO the most credible institution we have for accurately forecasting the future.

20 to 25% of Nigerian oil production taken out over a weekend is not small. How long it remains off line and how much more may be taken off as well will worry the markets.

As regards to Iraq, the Shia have been very restrained from retaliating against Sunni or insurgency attacks. The Shia are a lot more disciplined than most people in the West are. If I had friends or relatives murdered or blown up, I would be out for revenge, despite the priest saying turn the other cheek. The Shia's respect for their religious authorities is one of the few things from stopping the Iraqi situation from getting really out of control IMO.

No, I'm not responding to one day of events, unless you believe that each day is unconnected to the one that preceded it.  I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, I have been watching the situation in Iraq since before our invasion.  I see these latest events as an increase in intensity, but by no means a new trend.  Rather than waiting a few days, I've been waiting for months to see if things settle down - they have not.  This latest news is consistent with what I would expect, given what has been occurring already.  If the news of the last few days comes as a surprise to you, perhaps that is from paying too much attention to markets, rather than from watching what is happening and trying to understand it.  I don't place much credence on the collective opinions of random groups of people, especially when I have no idea who they are, how well informed, their number, or what biases they may have.  

Of course it is always possible that these latest events may not presage a change, but as I stated, I believe it does.  I think we can all assume that my personal beliefs are just that, not divine premonitions.  If you prefer not to speculate on what will happen, please remember that replying is not required.

Okay, well, by coincidence you posted your prediction of open Sunni/Shiite warfare on the same day that every newspaper and news site in the world predicted exactly the same thing, and in their case they based it on a knee-jerk reaction to one day's violence. I apologize for assuming that you were also responding to the recent bombing and its aftermath. The timing of your prediction fooled me.
No coincidence at all, I was responding to the resent mosque bombings - in context.  I do not view them as an isolated incident - they are not something that just happened, with no connection to previous occurrences.  It's not as if yesterday everything was going swimmingly, and then something completely inconsistent happened.  Sectarian tensions and violence have been growing steadily, and if that trend were to continue, eventually they would get to a point of open warfare.  Maybe we're not at that point yet, maybe we are.  I suspect the latter, and I'm interested in exploring what might happen, given that supposition.  And if you find my concerns to be foolish, so be it (I'm not much concerned), time will tell anyway.  

What I took from your reply was that we should not attempt to figure out what might happen, given a reasonable supposition about the future based on actual recent trends and events, but rather we should simply look at the markets and that would tell us all we need to know.  I find this concept to be fantastical.

It seems as if Iraq has been in somewhat of a defacto civil war for some time now, although with the MSM and the blogosphere presenting such polarized views, it's hard for anyone who's not there to know.
I think the fact that the Kurds are setting up independent oil deals with foreign states sort of precludes any ideas of a cohesive government, and that is before any consideration of the Sunni-Shia conflict.
I also cannot see this weekend's sabotage by MEND in Nigeria as a one-off.  Especially when troops are being pulled from the delta region to cope with Muslim-Christian violence over the cartoon issue.
Then, of course, H5N1 has recently taken hold in both countries.  Rumor has it (no, I don't have a source) that the DoD is fairly frantic about the flu in Iraq.
Your Quote: "DoD getting frantic about h5n1 in Iraq."

I think this is a key point of unpredictability regarding the entire Iraq Situation.  Just imagine if this 'badboy' mutates and then becomes human transmissable inside Iraq.  Not enough troops to quarantine lockdown the country, and all the people [Kurds, Sunni, Shias, and US/UK troops] WILL BE TRYING TO GET AWAY from this flu's very high mortality rate.

It will spread like wildfire and many Americans will be screaming to get our kids out of there away from danger. But other Americans, that have studied how the 1918 Spanish flu basically came to America from the WW1 doughboys coming home from war, will be screaming that it will be too epidemiologically dangerous to willingly bring a highly lethal Pandemic back home to our own shores.

Do we trade 130,000 GIs to prevent 50 million deaths at home?

Gut-wrenching decision-- no easy answers.  If we cannot help our kids trapped in the virus's grip overseas: our military days are basically kaput.  If we start bringing them home and we know they are sick and dying: the market will anticipate this and tank, people will go nuts hoarding food for a self-imposed quarantine, very few will go to work or school out of fear.

I hope human-to-human bird-flu doesn't happen anywhere on the planet because the best, cheapest, and most time effective response may be to bomb the smithereens out of the area like in the early scene in the movie: "OUTBREAK".

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

A little bit more on a potential bird-flu outbreak.  If it first appears inside Iran -- will the US/Europe make medical aid contingent upon Iran giving up its nuclear or Oil Bourse desires?

That can set off all kinds of discussions on the Milgov: CIA, CDC, WHO, IMF, and other 3-letter Orgs. Comments?

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

Believe this is a non-starter.  IMO, the ONLY way any sort of international "behavior modification" (blackmail) could take place if/when H5N1 escalates to a pandemic would be if the "3-Letter Orgs" controlled substantial amounts of an effective vaccine.  There IS no vaccine, and the US has no capability to mass produce one if it were available.  At this point, we are not even first in line for future production of Tamiflu, which is not the panacea  the MSM makes it out to be.
The center will not hold...
Hello Knmnloyd,

Thxs for responding.  I agree with your assessment on no vaccine, medicals would have to use the 'ring encirclement method' like what was used for Smallpox-- basically total lockdown of area--next to impossible to accomplish-- thus my guess the elites would resort to localized decimation to greatly reduce potential viral escapees.  If not, the flu would likely spread, the center will not hold, and geo-collapse will probably result as the mind-boggling headcount deaths mount.

The CDC has genetically reconstructed the Spanish flu, therefore it is easy to surmise that they could have created a whole series of new bugs to accomplish Jay Hanson's brilliant assessment of a hypothetical Pandemic Powerdown.  If just one bug is purposely released first in Iran-- instantly the whole world will align to sequester and/or destroy the populace-- recall my Operation Arabian Gauntlet post detailing past military exercises in ME.  

Of course, the CDC/CIA/WHO would have pre-constructed the required vaccines-- that is where the blackmail comes in.  This new form of asymetric warfare, where using the magic bullet of Nature's bugs, would be unstoppable for those countries attacked.  Capitulation for help would be almost instantaneous.

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

The flu is not transmissible human to human, and if it does make that mutation, there is no guarantee it will also maintain its lethality.  As far as I understand, you need the virus to make a vaccine for it, so there is no vaccine for it (and if there is, one would have to wonder about that...).  If an outbreak of a very deadly strain did happen in someplace like Iran, one could not hope to contain it there and use it as a weapon per se - think about what a awesome biological weapon it would become for them.  If someone is willing to strap on a bomb, I'm sure they would be willing to be exposed to the flu and then sent off to see the world.  

But I 'm not all that panicked about H5N1 - I think there are plenty of other issues to face, and frankly such a mutation could happen any year with the flu.  H5N1 is not yet the needed mutation for a pandemic, so does its existence really make a pandemic more likely than any other year?  I'll admit it's not my field, so perhaps I'm just too ignorant to be scared.  

Hello back, Bob Shaw,
     Right off the bat, I should let you know that I have nowhere near the expertise in any field that most of the people on this site possess.  "Jack of all trades and master of none" is an apt description.  However, for whatever reason, infectious disease has been an interest of mine for several years, so, (strictly as a dilettante), I have picked up a few things and am an avid follower of some of the H5N1 sites.  
     Conspiracy theories abound about H5N1.  The most predominant one I have seen is that this is an escaped superbug from a PRC bio-warfare lab.  As bio-warfare has been developed by several countries for many years, this is not too unbelievable at first take.  However, most epidemiologists dismiss this because because of the very nature of the influenza viruses themselves--  they are too unpredictable.  With their rapid and uncontrollable recombinations and mutations, they offer a good chance of spreading back to "the Homeland".  The authors of any kind of super flu have no guarantee that any vaccine they have stock-piled for the chosen few will work a few months down the road as the virus changes.
     Consider the incredibly rapid spread of SARS a few years ago.  It takes one asymptomatic, virus shedding passenger on one international flight to wreak havoc.  In these kinds of cases, no one is immune.  The law of unintended consequences, etc.
     And then, there is the also somewhat philosophical question-- why do we always assume that we as technologically superior entities MUST be the originators of any scary thing to appear on the horizon?  I believe Mother Nature does very well on her own, thank you very much.
Karen (NMN) Loyd
why do we always assume that we as technologically superior entities MUST be the originators of any scary thing to appear on the horizon?

Because The Intelligent Designer made us in his own image.


(Then again, maybe "we" are the scary thing that Mother Nature has cast out onto the firmenment to cleanse the Earth of all living things, fowl or fair.)

We are starting a new geoligical epoch, we will be an intresting mystery if any new intelligent species far into the future tries to puzzle togeather the globes history. A mass extinction, crazy redistribution of minerals with enourmous ammounts of pure aluminium and copper nuggets and all kinds of alloys, millions of holes thru all kinds of strata and layers of ceramics and iron oxide rich concrete.
The latest theory (based on a lot more recent research and epidemiology) is that the flu started in America, mutated here and overseas, and had three waves. The consensus may change as more research is done, and it is being done in archives all over the world.
Oh, Pacific Islanders had very high mortality rates pushing 25%, followed by native Americans like in Mexico at maybe 10%. Most of the Mexican immigrants to Americans may simply return home if flu kills enough people in Mexico to open up economic opportunities for remigrants.
Remember, flu kills children and othe living things, but not coal mines, oil wells, refineries, dams, cornfields, and wood lots.
Could you provide a link or source for this conclusion. It is impossible for me to tell if this is speculation or consensus.
The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
Flu by Gina Kolata
The Monster At Our Door by Mike Davis
Those are the three recent books. There are older books, and there are many scholarly articles in Nature, Science, Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine (IIRC), and of course, pop journals like Scientific American, Discover, New Scientist, Science News, etc.
Remember, the consensus is not necessarily correct, and it is changing rapidly as we accumulate more data. Sequencing genes is especially subject to datalanche as the cost of gene chip data is dropping by half every year.
Oh, the demographic effects in terms of differential fatalities are not changing. That's archival stuff and it is just fleshing out what we know. Keep in mind that while one of the Samoas had 25% casualties, the other escaped completely free from the disease because of quarantine. You can bet a lot of islands are thinking about that one.
I'd like to remind them that, "I told them so", 3 years ago, but I just don't think even that will help the situation now.  It passed V2 last year.
At 5 Billion CF a day the NG reserves would run out in about 20 years.


If the demand does not increase.
I have a question about the oil markets. In the previous month or so there are two major things to note:

  1. US inventories are on the rise
  2. News like disruptions in Nigeria and fears about Iran caused some short-lived prices spikes.

My question is why event 1) is dominant in determining the prices. My amateurs guess is that after oil output is shut down in a place as distant as Nigeria, it would take maybe couple of months before it is reflected in the inventories. I can guess that just the oil tanker trip from Lagos to New Orleans would take a month. Then it must be unloaded and piped to the refinaries, processed and piped to the end-points where stockpile accounting is done. I'll WAG all of this to a 2 months of total lag.

So is this just irrationality or the short-sighntess of markets is measured in weeks not 3 years?

The oil price quoted is the front-month price. We have the oil inventory today, so it's cheap. The futures prices should better reflect the impact of the political disruptions.
When Katrina came & went, people were expecting a cold winter. The price of oil today is a reflection of the warmer winter we have had this year. That temporarily saved us from a spike in Natural Gas and Heating Oil.

Or... maybe things aren't as bad as you think? Maybe there's still a good chance that Nigeria and Iran can continue to maintain their oil supplies? And in fact... maybe it's not the best idea to get most of your news about the energy situation from a site with a commitment to looking at everything from as negative a perspective as possible?
Actually I'm pretty much convinced that for the short term (2-3 years) things are not as bad as many people here probably would want them to be. Especially with oil - considering how many partial alternatives and potential for conservation we have for that.

NG situation is a whole lot more worrisome IMO, but will also probably come due after in no less than a couple of winters.

All of this of course is based on the assumption that nobody tries some brilliant ideas like attacking Iran for example.

Personally I welcome this "negative" wishful thinking. Knowing that in 5 years we will certainly have a problem makes me much more prone to accept this than the opposite one.

My example though (for the 2 month shortsightness) shows that market prefers otherwise. Obviusly traders prefer to be left assured that supplies are adequate and to significantly discount any information outside of the immediate supply/demand ratio.

Unfortunately the supply question is cloudy but the demand issue is not.  There is an undeniable narrowing and this is reflected in the current price.  At this point, its up to the suppliers to demonstrate that they can produce more.  Otherwise we will see oil becoming non-fungible when powers seize wells and claim exclusivity.  
As long as futures prices are higher than spot (contango?) it makes sense for 'oil people' to keep the inventories brim up, since the market says buying now is better than waiting. Opposite would also obtain; that is, if market is in backwardation with lower futures than spot, oil people would want to let inventories drop and get it cheaper in the future.
I think that if actual shortages result it will be reflected in a sharp spike in price rather than the more gradual ups and downs when supply is adequate but traders are a bit nervous about the future supply.

Just for fun...

The PAC-Car II reaches 5385 km/l.

I make that 12,714 MPG.

I feel like a wastrel for only getting 50 MPG in my Prius.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Bugatti Veyron goes 250 miles per hour. At that speed, the tires will overheat and begin to melt after 30 minutes. Luckily, it runs out of gas after only 12 minutes. "It's a safety feature", explained one engineer.
Re: The Pipeline from Alaska

From that NY Times article Leanan cites above

As envisioned, the pipeline would move 4.5 billion to 6 billion cubic feet of gas daily and begin operating sometime from 2012 to 2014. Alaska has an estimated 35 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves....

But if natural gas prices drop from their current levels, as many expect, economic concerns may outweigh the emphasis on security. If the forecasts of Professor Tussing and others bear out, gas piped from Alaska will have a difficult time competing with gas shipped by tanker from low-cost producers overseas....

"One of the things that killed the pipeline back in 1982 was the expense of the permafrost accommodations," Professor Lewkowicz said. "Today, it's going to be very difficult to come up with a design that can deal with current conditions and the climate changes that will occur over the next 30 to 50 years. It's a significant and very costly engineering challenge."

And from this AP article Natural gas pipeline from Alaska won't eliminate long-term supply challenges.
The United States, for example, is expected to import some 16.4 billion cubic feet a day of LNG by 2010, by which time overall U.S. demand could rise to 68 billion cubic feet a day. Current LNG import capacity is about 3.3 billion cubic feet a day.

Assuming the Alaska and Canadian pipelines are built, analysts say the U.S. will still face long-term supply challenges because of dwindling natural-gas production in the lower 48 states and rising demand.

"It is part of the solution, it is not the solution," said Gavin Law, head of the global LNG practice at consultant Wood Mackenzie in Houston.

Some comments
  • The 2012 to 2014 timeframe is 6 to 8 years from now. What are we going to do until then which brings me to...
  • Both HO and I have questioned the ability of the US to "import some 16.4 billion cubic feet a day of LNG by 2010" for various reasons. Look here and here.
  • Given these considerations, I would say the chances of any significant drop in natural gas prices in the next 5 to 7 years are about zero and would expect no drop after that timeframe either.
  • It is naive to think the disruptions from hurricanes in the GOM will not continue to disrupt supplies of natural gas. This will vary from year to year but there is a reasonable expectation that we may get a year like 2005 at least every 4 or 5 years now given warmer sea surface temperatures.
  • First, they didn't want to do the pipeline because of the permafrost conditions--but that was back in 1982. But now they must build the pipeline running through areas that are undergoing radical landscape changes (subsidence, ponding, etc.) due to rapid warming of the climate in the high latitudes. It is an engineering nightmare from hell. Frankly, I don't even know how they could possibly plan a pipeline in these areas that will start operating 6 to 8 years from now and then continue to operate reliably for decades after that.
So, I am not sanguine about natural gas supply in the US now or in the forseeable future. To the extent that prices are tied to what the current inventories are instead of a realistic view of longterm supply problems, there is little to say about such foolish shortsightedness. The price trend can only go up and up unless consumption is reduced radically. And since so much natural gas is used to power the electricity grid, home heating or air conditioning, no of which is not optional in many cases, thus making natural gas demand inelastic, I can't see consumption going down that much either (unless a lot of people freeze to death). The US switched over to natural gas in the last 25 years and by doing so they built a house of cards. This house is now in the process of coming tumbling down.

To end on a slightly sarcastic note, now that the Earth is warming up, maybe we'll be saved by mild winters from here on out (but with the caveat that summers will be warmer too).

Winters is USA may be milder, but in Europe it seems to be the opposite, probably as a result of the Gulfstream slowdown.

330 mln. people live in USA in Canada, 800 mln. live in Europe. So, I would expect the net result on NG availability and LNG exports to be negative in the years to come.

With the North American winter being so mild, I'm really curious what is going to happen over the summer. Mild or stifling? Stifling could be very very bad.
I live in the mid-west and whenever we have a mild winter we do have long periods of 95+ degree weather with high humidity.
I'm in southern Spain and the water did not get very warm last summer.  I went swimming once.  There was snow on the low mountains in January and the high mountains are still well covered.  I think we will continue to buy our LNG as we already have contracts in place that will (hopefully) take precedence over any new ones.  Good luck in scouting out new supplies.
Hey, are you permanently living in Spain? (sorry, didn't find an email to sent this off list)

If you can write and read Spanish, pay us a visit over the forums at Crisis Energética.

Couldn't have done a better post myself.
I think I may have found a "Voice" or "Role" for myself on TOD, and it's not the one I expected. There appear to be a lot of people who've taken on roles for themselves on TOD, or maybe that's who they really are? There's "Mother Earth" "Grumpy Genius" "Concerned Scientist" "Robber Baron" "Raver" "Rant Man" "The Duchess of Doom" "Numbers Add Up to Nothing" You know who you are.

I think I'm pretty well qulified to play the "Court Jester" or "Holy Fool". Maybe I should just try to inject a little bit of humour into our "Hobby" when the boys start getting a little too excited. Haven't people been getting a bit grumpy lately? I thought we were all on the same side more or less? Is it the politics? Or the realization that were all doomed?

Is it out of order to call TOD a "Hobby". A slighty macabre hobby, were we discuss the end of the world as we know it, and none of us feel fine? Do any of us have any real "Power" to change things? I mean is there a TOD member whose really a four star general with a few divisions of crack troops, loyal to him personally, who can be relied upon?

In England were called members of the "Chattering Classes", it's not meant kindly.

Zipping back to humour, before I vanish forever. I'm somewhat of an "expert" on Scandinavia. In Denmark, home of "Smiley Faced Fascism", it's Finns who carry knives and can't be trusted. Swedes are regarded as arrogant, lacking in humour, stiff and pretentious. One Danish politician recently said the Swedes were almost another "Race". God, how these old ideas from Hitler's bunker come back to haunt us! Norway is so expensive Danes carry food with them when they go on skiing holidays! Norway has enormous disparities of wealth. The number of millionaires in Oslo is the highest in all of Europe outside London. Iceland has the most wonderful scam involving deep-sea trawlers, dubious tax-breaks, and let's call it "creative overseas investments".

Believe me there's an awful lot to laugh at in these countries, especially as many of them regard themselves as being "Moral Superpowers". One of the most amusing things about them is, that some of these countries are almost delusional about the level of "perfection" they have attained. I onced watched a Scaninavian Prime Minister giving an election speech. He paused for a moment, smiled contentedly, and said,

"Friends, we may only be a small country that doesn't carry a lot of weight in the world, but isn't it true that we've created the best society there is? Yet dispite this fact, we've kept our feet firmly on the ground. And haven't we remained the most humble folk in the world?"

I fell about laughing. I mean "the most humble folk in the world?" My Sandinavian friends just didn't understand why I found this statement so funny. Maybe it was a joke one needed to think about?

How about posting ethnic jokes against various Scandanavians, all of whom seem tough enough to take it. By the way you are right about Finns carrying knives; Norweigians do too; societies based on fishing or other industries using knives develop into knife carrying cultures. One of the most popular and finest of knives for fishermen the world over is the Finnish Rappala; also Finnish Fiskars garden tools and hatchets are best in the world I know of. O.K., now I have said a couple of nice things about Finnish quality products, here goes:

"What is the differnence between the lowest kind of thug, the kind who will slit your throat for a dollar, and a Finnlander?"
"The Finnlander will cut your throat for half a dollar."

There are several hundred Finnlander jokes now current in northern Minnesota. Most of them have as the punchline something to the effect that Finns are very stupid. Oddly, nobody actually believes that Finnlanders (as we call them) are dumb, but the jokes persist, including a whole subgenre of "Ole and Lena" jokes.  

It's very healthy to be able to laugh at this sort of stuff. Which is not something you can too comfortably do with regard to Jews/Palestinians or Irish Catholics/Protestants. This Scandanavian rivalary, of which I was totally oblivious, strikes me as something akin to the phenomenon we have here in the States: we in our state are careful conscientious drivers, whereas all the drivers in the neighboring states are crazed murderous incompentents.

I suspect that as far back as the last Ice Age people were saying the same sort of thing about the people living in the neighboring cave. Trash, scum, no good!

Nothing seems to change, does it?

Ole and Lena have had a long history in Da Yoop as well, from what I hear from those who've lived there.

When I think about those vs. something like Yiddish humor, I am struck by how the subject matter of the jokes is different but the dryness is almost the same.
What the Price of Gold Might be Telling Us
by Stephen Lendman


My best guess is that the rising gold price may be the canary in the mine shaft warning of a growing and dangerous change in world stability reflected in investor sentiment. At times of growing economic or geopolitical tension, uncertainty or danger, gold is seen as a conservative asset or "safe haven" and a way to preserve wealth as it always has been for the past 6,000 years. That's a track record even the Dow Jones averages can't match.

There's a lot for investors to worry about now along with the new war drums beating I'll discuss below. There's the perceived threat of terrorist attacks, the continued loss of civil liberties in the West and especially in the US, the possible disruption of oil supplies, and at some point that "piper" waiting to be repaid for years of financial profligacy in the US to fund all the "adventuresomeness" and excess stimulus to keep the economy humming. And there's one other factor affecting the US dollar. Many currency experts believe the currency is in a long-term bear market that began in 2002, even though it rebounded well last year and is holding its own so far this year (a cyclical rally in a longer term secular bear market say the dollar bears). Some of the reasons given for this trend are the emergence of the euro as a competitor to the dollar in December, 2001 by the 12 European nations using it and the desire of other nations to diversify into other currencies (as well as gold). And its interesting that some Islamic nations have begun doing some bilateral commerce in gold dinars and China now has its first gold exchange. All this signals a potential or maybe likely shift away from the almighty dollar as the world's primary reserve currency.

If the rising gold price is telling us something, what about the rising price of copper, nickel and other "base metals"? See this chart from Econbrowser:

As you can see, they've made pretty much the same moves as gold.

Do you think everyone is spooked by international tension and stocking up on zinc? Or that those infamous "nickel bugs" are chortling over their foresight in anticipating Iraqi unrest?

It looks to me like gold is just part of a much larger picture. Any explanation which focuses on gold's unique role as a "safe haven" and long-term store of value is likely to miss the mark, unless we are supposed to believe that copper and its friends play exactly the same role.

"unless we are supposed to believe that copper and its friends play exactly the same role."
i don't know about that, but i do know that the area i live in has seen some thefts of copper from junk yards and other places. they were due to people supporting drug habits but still it telling that they had to go onto the news and issue warnings to the supposed thief's to not try to take coper from power distribution points.
Well, as far as scrap goes, copper is probably the most valuable material you are likely to find in a junkyard. So why should it be any mystery that it is popular among those who steal things?
It looks to me like gold is just part of a much larger picture. Any explanation which focuses on gold's unique role as a "safe haven" and long-term store of value is likely to miss the mark, unless we are supposed to believe that copper and its friends play exactly the same role.

Agreed. And the bigger picture includes the figures of Alan Greenspan, GWB & friends who turned the money ooops bond printing machine ON in the beginning of the century. All these dollars had to go somewhere - those who were stupid bought 10 mln.dollar McMansions, those who were more more far-sighted invested in commodities carrying real value like oil, zinc, nikel, copper etc.

It tells me that people who used to buy UST bills, and then switched to Euros, are now buying gold instead of either of them.  
EU Energy and Transport Statistics (2004) w/ pdf and xls downloads

EU Energy and Transport sector drivers

And the analysis and trends if U don't want to do it yourself are here,

*** EU Nuke Plants ***
Decommissioning Status
EU Nuke Forecast Shutdown Dates
EU Technical Docs Gen Nuke Safety, Probabilities of failure, Design etc.

*** Videos Gen Interest ***

Barcelona: Sustainable Energy City
Length: 8'30" 94 MB
Subject: Everywhere in Europe, energy consumption increases, yet our supply of fossil fuels will not last forever and we need to find sustainable solutions. Several European cities have focused on renewable energies and have developed global concepts of sustainability. One of these, Barcelona has a unique regulation in the area of solar energy: the "SOLAR ORDINANCE". This decrees that all new buildings should use thermal solar energy for their hot water use. But that's not all. Everywhere around the city, the municipality promotes photovoltaic energy, a technology which allows the generation of electricity through the conversion of sunshine. Thanks to a collective political ambition, this Catalan capital is achieving a far more rational use of energy. This kind of initiatives is supported by different programmes of the European Commission, including the Campaign "Sustainable Energy Europe 2005-2008". This Campaign will give a strong signal to political opinion makers, to private and public investors as well as to European citizens: to invest in renewable energies.
Date of production: July 2005

Biofuels to replace oil Date of production: January 2006
Length: 11'23"
Subject: Facing the growth of CO2 emissions from transport and the difficulty to find alternatives to the traditional fuels for transport, Europe is proposing an immediate answer. It is encouraging the replacement of diesel and petrol by biodiesel and bioethanol - clean, renewable fuels derived from vegetable matter such as rape seed, cereals and sugar beet.
Europe set as indicative objective the replacement of 5,75% of conventional transport fuels by biofuels by 2010. Much effort remains to be done to reach it. Various policies are possible, such as the detaxation of biofuels or the obligation put on suppliers to put a minimum percentage of biofuels on the market. Europe is committed to a truly comprehensive policy on biofuels, which take into account all the different aspects, including those linked to sustainable development and to trade exchanges with its partners.