Saturday Open Thread and News Dump

...and if you need something to get you started, go read Kurt Cobb's "What if Daniel Yergin is Wrong?".

...or go check out an article about our friend Roscoe Bartlett and his appearance in Oil Crash.

Just a quick note about what other nations are doing.

The Swiss became tired of heavy trucks transporting goods through their country.  Road congestion, pollution, fuel use and general "environmental effects".  Peak Oil & Global Warming probably fit under the last catch-all.

As I noted before, the Swiss made do with VERY limited quantities of oil during WW II (in all of 1945 they used what they used in 26 days in 1938) by electrifying their transportation.

They are spending enourmous amounts on the world's longest tunnel (34.5 km), which, when combined with the earlier Simplon tunnel, will give 250 km/hour rail link through Switzerland.  More importantly, taxes on heavy trucks will pay for the new tunnel and force shippers to use it.

The tunnel and associated improvements will be completed past Peak Oil but they will be a welcome improvement in EU adn Swiss transport when completed

One excerpt.

nvestment amounting to more than 31 billion Swiss francs will be needed to modernise the railway system in Switzerland over the next 20 years. Construction of the 34.5 km Lötschberg base tunnel will cost some 3.22 billion francs (for the first construction phase). By comparison, about 60 billion Swiss francs were spent constructing the network of national roads. The finance concept is based on the model of constructing and financing the public transport infrastructure (FinöV/FPT) which was adopted by the Swiss electorate in 1998. The fund consists of revenue from the fuel tax, the mileage-related heavy vehicle tax, an additional 0.1% value-added tax and loans from the capital market. Once the Lötschberg base tunnel becomes operational in 2007, Switzerland will then be able to levy the full rate of the mileage-related heavy vehicle tax

There is another tunnel being planned. The Brenner base tunnel in Austria and Italy. Expected to become 56km long. It is, though, far in the future. In the end it should bring relief for the heavily congested Brenner Pass. Further it is part of the highspeed railway connection from Berlin to Naples.

But I think the swiss neighbours are better in organizing such large procjects than the EU.

I don't know what you base your organization comment on?  I think you'll find that a 56 km tunnel will not be a problem.  I have been working with Swedes that have build a 12 km long tunnel at 3000 meter elavations and another 24 km long tunnel at 1500 meter elevation in Saudi Arabia and 5 underground strategic fuel storage projects, each with somewhere around 20 km of VERY BIG tank tunnels.  I'm sure if they could do this in Saudi Arabia, they will be able to handle it within the EU borders.  Besides, anybody that can only think of bridges to put on the back of all the Euro bills will most certainly be able to handle any kind of a transportation problem. ^|^
Gets IT,

Can you tell us more about these Saudi fuel storage tunnels?

Matt Simmons talked about the Saudis having storage which he suspected that they used to ramp up 'production' when the need arose.

I just tried Googling for your fuel storage tunnels and found no information about them.

Are these the secret fuel storage that Matt aludes to?

These underground storage plants are a Ministry of Defense project that are now operated under a joint agreement between MOD and Saudi Aramco.  These are not crude storage facilities, but hold refined diesel, gasoline and jet base fuels in many tanks, the larger ones approaching 1 km in length.  There are 5 at present.

I have a long term informal discovery project ongoing concerning S.A. crude storage tanks outside the Kingdom.  S.A. and Shell share 50% interest in Motiva Enterprises' refineries located in Port Arthur, Texas; Convent, Louisiana; and Norco, Louisiana.  Motiva refineries can process approximately 780,000 barrels per day, and have a distribution system including appx 47 product terminals with 19 MM BBLS of storage.  Since these are product terminals, fortunately I don't have to identify those.

Using a WAG of 20X refinery capacity, I can get around 50MM BBLS, not counting Rotterdam possibilities.

Ras Tanura Refinery  325,000 bpd
Aramco/Exxon Yanbu  400,000 bpd
Aramco/Shell Jubail 305,000 bpd
@ 20 x 20.6 MM BBLS

Norco, La  Crude: 240,000 BPD
Port Arthur, Tx. Crude: 235,000 BPD
Convent Ref, La. Crude: 255,000
@ 20 x capacity = 15 MMB

S.A. may be leasing tanks from Valero Corp
At this Caribbean Island VLCC "service station" from Valero Corp.
with 51 tanks 11.3 MM BBLS of storage. (they can process only 15,000 BPD of light stuff)


S.A's. transportation subsidery can probably hold almost 10 MMB in their ships alone.

13 March 2006
"Iran's Nuclear Plans Complicate China's Energy Security"

Further information.

The Swiss are building two North-South rail links.  The first will open in 2007 (partially built, single track at first) with a new 34.5 km Lötschberg tunnel and the existing Simplon tunnel.  200 kph seems to be the likely max speed.

The other, with a 57 km Gotthard tunnel, will be fully open in 2015 and provide an almost straight and level track from Zurich to Milan and pax train speeds of 250 kph.  Again, roll on-roll off auto & truck service plus other freight will generate most of the revenue.

Massive investments that will help Switzerland and parts of the EU adapt to Peak Oil.

Does anyone have information on average household expenditures for electricity, heating costs and costs for transportation fuels by region - by country would be even better? Also is there comparitive historical information?

WE've had an %18 rate increase in electrical service from Bangor Hydro on top of what I believe is the highest base rates in the U.S.

Some gas/electricity providers in the UK have announced price hikes of around 22% for the coming year. The shape of things to come? Actually the UK seems to be in even worse shape than the US in relation to it's comint energy gap. I thought that would make you all feel a bit better!
Actually more like 30% for gas and 29% for electricity.
Our 'consumer champion' OffGas has told us to shop around for better deals. Ha! . We got lucky this year. Temps in the UK were no where near predicted from the anticipated effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation. However, it may have been just this that hurt central Europe in January.
In Theory it lets ultra cold air in from Siberia. It is possible that this effect created problems for the Germans in 1941 and Napoleon in 1812.
We got fairly warm Atlantic weather all the way through until just a couple of weeks ago and North East Scotland and the East Coast of England got Arctic air funneled down the North Sea. The gas problems are currently being blamed on the lack of supply across the Interconnector from Europe and the lack of economic harmonisation of Gas Majors in the EEC. We are at the end of a very long pipe from Russia and we found out what that means...
Though our clueless 'Elders, betters and the Great and Good' have yet to wake up and smell the peak, It has at last got Energy (or lack of it) on the agenda.
Now is not the time to be old or poor in this sceptered isle: We loose people every year due to fuel poverty.
We got lucky. But Winter comes around every year...
Interesting, particularly the comment with losing people to "fuel poverty" as you put it. For the economy to "run" home heating isn't "essential" but for health, it sure is. And to think that England gets nowhere near as cold as a good old fashioned (read: pre-global-warming) winter. Or worse, a Minnesota or Canadian winter.

To seriously reduce winter heating energy use, you'd have to take extreme measures, like wearing a snowsuit in the house, with a motorcycle helmet with heated air! Sure, you can throttle down on a thermostat, but at some point, it gets dangerous, not just uncomfortable. Also, as the house temp drops to 0C (32F) pipes freeze, causing problems that are a bane of homeowners - even if you sit in your La-Zee Boy chair in your homebrew space suit.

Why home heat isn't considered "essential" for the economy is easy to understand. That energy use does not correspond to productivity, unlike propane in a forklift or electricity in a web server for a .com store. Since that energy use doesn't directly aid and abet productivity, economists call it "non-essential" - until they can't heat their house that is! Meanwhile that propane tank on a forklift does aid and abet productivity by loading and unloading semis on a loading dock. And the web server makes the .com store possible.

I guess that explains this:

British Gas chaos leaves thousands without heat

Thousands of British Gas customers have been left without heating or hot water for days - and in some cases weeks - during the coldest part of winter because the company's HomeCare insurance operation is in chaos.

A whistleblower who works for British Gas has revealed that staff were told customers without central heating "no longer constituted a priority", even though they have paid around £200 a year for emergency call-out insurance.

You may find this site interesting re the Gas situation in the UK:

The temperature doesn't get as cold there (GB), but with the humidity, believe me I feel much "colder" in GB than I ever felt in MN.  Scotland, now that IS COLD even for you MN Swedes.
I'm counting on a lot of you guys coming down to Spain this summer and lifting the apartment and villa prices around there to new records!  Well, if not this year; next then.
But leave your Range Rovers in GB!
Does anyone have information on average household expenditures for electricity, heating costs and costs for transportation fuels by region - by county would be even better? Also is there comparitive historical information?

WE've had an %18 rate increase in electrical service from Bangor Hydro on top of what I believe is the highest base rates in the U.S.

This is a reply to the following posts:

Religion has had very little influence in the overall development of population numbers.

Human technology has.
Agriculture has.
The Industrial Revolution has.

Please take your anger somewhere else.

I have to disargee with you.

While what you mention allow us humans to maintain higher levls of populations.   Uusally the Religious aspect of our lives pushes us to have more kids or fewer kids.  Regilion is a key role player in all this. if you want to discuss this further.

As far peak is concermed.  Human faith still plays a part.

I certainly agree that religion plays a role in personal decisions about how many children one has. I will hardly deny that.

But I'm discussing sociological macro-tendencies which might be threatening life on our petri-dish here. There are not very many long lasting examples like sailorman's Netherlands. Even if they are found, one can usually find other reasons for the growth rate dichotomy which have nothing to do with religion: different levels of wealth, different levels of industrialization, education, etc...

Simply put:
Agricultural and underdeveloped industrialized regions/peoples have more kids than hunter/gatherers or complex ind. and informational societies.
Italy is a historically Catholic (known to be opposed to artificial birth control) region but has a birth rate of 1.31, about the lowest in Europe. Germany has about 25million Catholics but has a birth rate of 1.39. Now, you can argue that Catholics in these areas don't even go to church, so can they really be Catholics? But which came first, Industrialization, staying away from Church or having fewer children? They go hand in hand, of course, and offer a chicken and egg problem.

Back to the US: Those having the most children at the moment are not Catholics or Mormons (as the clichee goes) but the Amish.
Again, you can claim that it's religious - I claim it has a halibut lot to do with their agricultural (pre-industrial) lifestyle.

Hutterite birth rates are much higher than Amish.
Birthrates among urbanized immigrants to U.S. of Catholic ancestry (primarily from Latin America) are much higher than birthrates of non-Catholics, other factors [such as education level] held constant.

Always check data.

Obviously, these were supposed to be examples.
Immigrants - I take it these are primarily Hispanics (WITHOUT checking the Data) take a generation or two to change from the lifestyles of their homelands. Demographic processes are very long winded.

The assertions I made above are hardly refuted by your comments, if that was your goal.

All I am saying is we need to address the population issue. Curbing population growth in a humane, fair fashion will be the greatest challenge humanity will ever face.

Quote is from following post.
Curbing population growths will take fifty years to make an effect. Only the third world has a positive population growth rate at the moment. The rest of the world hasn't been positive since the 1970s and most of their populations are still growing. It takes more than a generation to change absolute growth direction. If you want it done faster, you can either use the bomb or let nature do its devastation.
As a Christian I will have to see the paradox.  Nothing is random it only seems that way.  

Though you could say that I make this statement because I know it is  a Paradox. And somehow I am leading you into false logic.

It looks random but it is not.

Might just be my faith.

And yes if a Loved one were to die I would mourn, BUT I would keep on my course.  

Charles,  Aka Dan Ur (a Fictional Charactor is short story series, by Charles Owens.)

Kurt Cobb has it exactly right. Why prolong the inevitable? Why go even further out on the soon to break fossil fuel limb? But he needs to address the underlying issue, population. Even with a movement towards sustainability, continued population growth will inevitably undercut that goal.

I am not saying that we should not start powering down immediately, powerdown has been my argument all along. All I am saying is we need to address the population issue. Curbing population growth in a humane, fair fashion will be the greatest challenge humanity will ever face.

Every species is biologically programmed to reproduce. Getting laid is fun. Being told what to do and what not to do is not fun. My guess is we will not rise to the challenge. We will let the only true invisible hand, nature, do the dirty work for us through plague, starvation, pestilence, and war. That will make the task of building the sustainable infrastructire of the future all the more difficult and perhaps will scatter our efforts forever. Then, once the dust settles and the species has exhausted itself and come to a population balance, we will be left with whatever disorganised ruins that may be left, and we will carve out an existence of some sort, no matter how short and brutish.

Let's look at the Bush regime's response to the question of population growth. It is the exact opposite of the action needed. We are cutting help to the people who need it the most. We are reducing the provision of funds for family planning, free contraception and terminations. We are involved in a dance of death with the Catholic church, condemning millions to a grusome death because of Aids. Here we could actually do some good and save lives, but we do the opposite of what's reguired.

Given the internal politics of the US, and the rise of cultists who are nominally "Christians", are we really to conclude that we are going to adopt rational policies in relation to the population problem any time soon?

To finish on a controversial theological note, who exactly does Bush and his ilk pray to? Is he praying to the un-named, desert sky God from the East the rest of us worship or what? I'm serious here. I was brought up a Catholic and my church has had a long history with people who "hear voices" and use those voices to justify various forms of action. The Chatholic church has always been sceptical of these sort of people, simply because it was felt that these voices might actually be the whisperings of demons or even Satan himself. Listening to voices can get you into a lot of trouble, ask Joan of Arc!

Personally I doubt Bush is praying to a Christian God at all. He's praying to something else entirely. Something that may be Evil and dangerous. He never seems to say much about Jesus does he? But he talks a lot about his God. Given his track record doesn't it seem likely he's praying to the horned beast and his soul is doomed? How's that for Bush bashing?

Before bashing Bush (again) take a close look at the Roman Catholic church in which you were raised. Currently The Church:
1. Makes an about-face from its long-established and traditional doctrine of its first one and a half thousand (or thereabouts) years of the Church (which defined fetuses of less than 60 days as nonhuman, following Aristotle, as they did in most things--because that is the way St. Thomas Aquinas saw things) to effectively deny abortion to women.
2. Actively campaigns against the use of condoms, even to prevent the spread of AIDs.
3. Delights in the higher birthrate of Catholics vs. nonCatholics, e.g. in the Netherlands, which used to have a large Protestant majority and now has a slim but growing Catholic majority.
4. Outlaws contraception wherever possible.
5. Defines contraception as a mortal sin, which must be confessed to. Thus the Church
6. Encourages abortion among devout women in poor countries, because the abortion--also a mortal sin--needs to be confessed to only once.

I could go on, but what is the point? You want to do something constructive? Get the Roman Catholic church to be Christian instead of the reactionary male-dominated sexist institution that it is.

Good luck.

All your points about my church are valid and painfully accurate. It's not as if we haven't tried to change it, we have! It just very, very difficult. We're talking about changing a very well-established multi-national institution which is bigger than most countries and yet centrally controlled. Of course the Catholic church needs to be reformed. I can't argue with that. However, I'm still concerned about Prestident Bush's immortal soul and the dreadful danger he's in. Like I said, I don't think he's praying to a Christian God. Nearly everything he does and says seems to contradict the central tenets of mainstream Christian belief. This is why I'm suspicious amoung other things.

What are these other things? Well they are the people he surrounds himself with. Many around Bush are not conventional Christians at all. They have some very odd views about society. Basically, I don't believe the neo-cons are Christians. They worship another God with another name.

So does the Pope.

We need to reform the evil religious leaders of the world. There is nothing wrong with Judaism, Christianity, or Islam (or Buddhism, for that matter), but there are very serious things wrong with the way the teachings of the great prophets, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mahomet have been twisted and distorted out of all recognition into evil instititutions and organizations.

I've noticed a lot of anti-Islam sentiment on TOD, and to counteract this, I am going to start posting a few of the sayings of Mahomet (in appropriate places) so that those ignorant of comparative religion may learn a few things. The problem is not with the founding principles of the great religions but with the way these principles have been distorted 180 degrees from the original intention, e.g. to the point that for 250 years "Christian" preachers in the American south used twisted interpretations of the Bible to justify slavery.

Before we start throwing stones at Islam, we should look at the evils done in the name of Christianity, notably the Crusades--which rank with what Hitler did in Poland as some of the greatest atrocities in history.

I don't discriminate between religions. While it's easy to bash Islam, what with suicide bombers, 9/11 and all that, but the guilt is all around. The Zionists invented the Truck Bomb and now wonder where the Moslems got the idea. Christians blow up abortion clinics and root for an apocalypse so as to get raptured, and so on. It's like two kids arguing about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy but brought their dads' shotguns to a field to battle it out. Fairy tales fought over with real bullets.

I'm an atheist, and I oppose all religion becuse now religion only generates death and suffering. As far as the soul, if the soul is REALLY immortal, all those files you deleted will be waiting for you in Paradise, ready to be gotten again when you're issued your Heavenly Laptop and your 72 virgins. Same with lost files with hard drive crashes. After all, your "soul" is data in a bio-computer system that is the brain. When you die, the data is gone - just as gone as a gallon of fuel you burn on a commuting mission.


We are doomed. Already the worshippers of the invisible sky-beings are at each other's throats.

Let the cull begin.


A buddhist.

Religion has had very little influence in the overall development of population numbers.

Human technology has.
Agriculture has.
The Industrial Revolution has.

Please take your anger somewhere else.

Having a soul and being religious are antithetical!  
Basically, I don't believe the neo-cons are Christians.

Why would you? Before it became popular and acceptable to be a  "neo-con" hater, it was commonly known that many used the term as code-language for Jew. It must be tough trying to figure out what you're supposed to hate on any given day.

I really can't believe your serious, man! The old, old chesnut of anti-semitism. It's a cheap shot and inaccurate as well. I haven't said a word about Jews anywhere. I don't think neo-con is a substitutes for Jew. As America is full of Jews who shred neo-con policies, wouldn't that mean that they too were anti-semetic?
Calm down. The only inaccuracies are your own.

I never called you anti-semitic, nor did I say you said anything about Jews. If you will relax a moment and reflect, you will see that I am correct.

If you don't think that the term has been used as a substitute for Jew in the past, then you don't understand the history of the term. What you "think" the term means is of little relevance.

You need to do some basic research behind what "neo-con" means, if it means anything at all. You need to read up on the history of the term as it applies to a "movement" or to certain individuals on a political level.

The reason I wrote what I did was because I didn't think you were making sense.

So again, I don't understand why you would think neo-cons would have to be "conventional" Christians, since if there was a religious connotation ever associated with the term it was that the individuals labeled as such were Jews.

You mistake Administration officials with "neo-cons." And you confuse neo-con with your own sketchy understanding of what one is. I wouldn't normally go into something like this here, but you seem to have a weird hang-up with religion and peak-oil, I thought I might help you more properly form your thoughts.

Try this article by Michael Lind from early 2004

The more people people blindly throw this term around, the less it means. Which is fine by me, since I have always found it meaningless - just an epithet people can use to articulate their hatred for ideas they can barely understand.

As America is full of Jews who shred neo-con policies, wouldn't that mean that they too were anti-semetic?

No, It would mean that America is full of Jews that shred neo-con policies. The logic in the second phrase escapes me.

it was commonly known that many used the term as code-language for ...

No it was not commonly known.
Use of "code language" and accusations regarding who is part of the "in crowd" and who shares their secret common knowledge and who does not have this illusive common sense, is part of a charade of mental manipulation tactics.

The root "neo" simply means "new".

The suffix "conservative" used to mean one who sought to maintain the old ways, one who opposed change.

The combination of neo and conservative is an oxymoron because it implies there is a "new" way to stick to the "old" ways.

As for each of us hearing coded voices in the desert, this is an inherent part of the Jewish religion when it speaks separately of "the God" of Abraham, "the God" of Isaac and "the God" of Jacob.

Each had his own God, his or her own voices heard in the cranium. Jesus --yet another Jew-- had his own version of voices in the head, as did Mohammed and other so-called prophets.

Yes Virginia, God exists. But she's all in your head.

You should probably read the article I posted. My use of the term code-language may be the problem here. I didn't say," commonly known as..," I said,"commonly known that many used..." Perhaps I should have said,"Some used...," as that would have been more accurate.

My main point that people throw this term around, or use it for less-than-honorable purposes, depending on how you look at it still stands, however.

Dear Don, It's Saturday - have you been drinking? I think I sort of covered most of your points of criticism in my post. I'm not a really big fan of the conservative wing of the Catholic church, but neither am I a big fan of worshipers of Satan the horned one!
I have not yet started drinking to celebrate the death of the totally evil Slobodan M., but I will.

Consider the fallacy of the lack of proportion. You bash Bush. But all we need is one brain transplant (to the Pope) to do 100 times more good for the world than Bush could possibly do.

In the spirit of Jonothan Swift, herewith a Modest Proposal: Let the poor of the world send their babies to the Vatican to be eaten, for the economics would make good sense.

How can you possibly defend the absolute and total evil done in the name of Jesus, when He was totally and 100% opposed to the sexist anti-woman doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

Most satanists I know are boring people. The most interesting people I know include agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and a couple of practioners of wicca.

Hitler was a choir boy.

Have you seen what the hierarchy is doing in an attempt to cover up child-rape by bishops and priests?

Where have you been the last forty years?

Dear Don, you may recall that I mentioned some time ago that I had stumbled upon a "role" for myself. The role of "holy fool" or even "court jester". Keep that in mind when you skim my posts. Have a nice week-end.
Slobo died? Cool! It was a Saturday when Ronald "raygun" Reagan finished dying. Even as the break-in news report was on the bar's plasma tellies, I was already joking about it. The bartender had to tell me to throttle down on the jokes. Oh, yeah. Today is the second anniversary of "Once Tres" - 3/11 the Madrid bombings. "Once Tres" is Spanish for "11/3". Europeans reverse the month and day in a date. Now, for the fun part of 3/11: 3/11 occurred on the day that was _exactly_911 days after 9/11.

In Illinois we have a governor named Blagojevich, a Yugo, and some people call him "Blago" like Slobo.

Religion has had very little influence in the overall development of population numbers.

Human technology has.
Agriculture has.
The Industrial Revolution has.

Please take your anger at the world somewhere else.

But all we need is one brain transplant (to the Pope) to do 100 times more good for the world than Bush could possibly do.

I assume you would have your brain implanted?
Hate won't get you anywhere as a pope.
And it won't solve peak oil.
I think only the bomb will get you to reach your goals of hate.
Excuse me, Peak Plus,
In this regard you do not know my good friend, Jack Shiterman. In Latin America, for example, during the twentieth century the leading cause of death for woman in many (perhaps most) hospitals was complications from botched abortions.

How can you claim any knowledge of history and at the same time deny the well-known and fully documented facts of Vatican support for the Horthy regime in Hungary, the Nazis in Vichy France, etc.

I am pro-religion.

I am opposed to evil.

Where do you stand?

Sorry to have butted in on your conversation, but its level appalled me.

Let's begin with the basics:
GWBush is president of USA. He claims he got religion.
1a) I don't care what his religious views are (to the most part) because I care about policy and political choices instead. Religion is no argument. I can argue with you or with Writerman about particular policies or whether he is the man to lead the US as president or not. (Actually he's a lame duck...)
1b) A group of voters DO care what his religious views are - much of my family among them. That's too bad. WHAT these VOTERS believe is a totally other discussion.

  1. The Vatican (John Paul II) has not denied its sins. And logically: Any institution, especially one with a 2000 year history will have made personal and official decisions which were wrong, sinfull and have had bad effects. ("The Church is battered and splattered with the mud and blood of history" and is made up of imperfect people.) This, in and of itself, does not challenge its legitimacy or its own claims of what it is. You'll have to argue on a different level in order to challenge that. And I'm sure you'll have a gazillion arguments on those levels (a priori levels) too;-)

  2. You disagree with the Catholic Church's view on contraception, abortion, and probably a number of other things. Why - because the RESULTS are not those you wish for OR because you agree with the use of contraception, abortion, etc. on a moral level?
If the RESULTS are your goal, then you adher to utilitarianism (John Stuart Mills) - a Christian ethic says that the ACT (the moral choice) determines good or bad. The results are not in our hands anyway. THE MEANS do NOT justify THE ENDS. Utilitarianism says that the means DO justify the ends. I will not argue morals with you on the basis of results.

4) I assume that you agree with the statement that our problem at the moment is population growth, although this was actually not the bent of your arguement - Writerman was implying it and Cherenkov said it explicitly. But what is meant here? (This is not necessarily a direct question to you.)
Do you mean the reproduction rate?
Do you mean the growth rate?
Or do you mean Absolute population numbers?
The (former) East Block, Japan and most of the Asian Tigers, China, all of Europe, and any other country that would claim to be "developed" have had negative reproduction rates since the 1970s. The US and Turkey have neutral reproduction rates at the time. Many "developing" countries like Egypt and Brasil are approaching neutral.
"Growth" rates are or will be negative in Japan, East Block and most of Europe within a decade. This means Population numbers are/will be soon shrinking there. The fulminously copulating catholic Dutch will not be able to do little more than keep the population stable after 2015 (They already have a average age of 39):
There are many Catholics in the developed world. If the Pope is at fault for rising growth rates, wouldn't the French, Irish, Italians, Portugese, Poles, Spanish, cath. Germans, Flemmish, cath. Dutch be responsible for a huge population boom in Europe?

No, at the moment, only the Skandinavians (Protestants) are again approaching a 2.0 (i.e. neutral) birth rate once again.

4b) IF you mean the growth rate of the Third World, then blame the technology of the West for helping change death rates. Life expectancy in the Third World is (usually) at the moment well above 50 years. This wasn't even the case in Europe/USA in the 19th century.

Complex situations demand complex analysis.

5) When you suggest a brain transplant for the Pope, do you mean:
a) he should change the Church's stance on Contraception and Abortion? Then I offer a debate on the morality of contraception, NOT ON ITS RESULTS. Then we should keep the argument at the current Pope and the current stance of the curia, OR we can have a historical discussion. Stalin was an alterboy too. What kind of an argument is that?!!!
b) the Pope should disappear as an institution? That would be a bit more difficult and I would assume that you're not offering your brain as a replacement.
c) the Roman Catholic Church should disappear as an institution. Then I offer a debate on a biblical/theological level.

...If you are even still reading this Post!

Cheers, Dom, a Catholic who believes and knows why.

p.s. You asked!

As one who has studied the works of St. Thomas Aquinas in the original Latin, and as one who has taken several post-graduate classes in demography at a leading university, I think I understand the issues you raise.

The brain I would like to transplant into the Pope's head is that of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was probably the second smartest man in the history of philosophy. (The smartest was probably DesCartes, another devout Roman Catholic, who developed his mind-body dualism theory largely to save the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.)

Now here is what I like about Aquinas. He made his premises explicit. He was a man of great common sense, as was Aristotle. He was also a surprisingly tolerant man--except when it came to heresey. Aquinas believed in science, believed in reason, and he knew 100% for sure that there could not be a conflict between reason and faith, because he thought (and I agree) that the most important thing reason and science can do is to build a wall to defend true faith and expose heresy.

I do not know how much you have studied theology, nor how familiar you are with the original Greek and Latin texts, but in a strict sense, I am accusing the Pope of heresy, and although St. Thomas is no longer with us, his books are. And yes, I know that Thomas wrote a bunch of silly stuff on angels, but who among us is without error, except for thee and me;-) ?  

Now that was an offer of peace!
You took grad classes in demographics? Yes, I envy you for that, although the classes were probably a lot drier than discussing amateur demographics on a PO-blog (surely an insult to the site owners).
Well, now that we're comparing credentials, my Greek and Hebrew are nill, my many Latin classes make it easier for me to sing Greg. Chant, but not to read philosophy or even help me understand the history that I mastered in. For all that, I now live in Munich and sell mortgages in German! Not bad for one of those stupid Americans who aren't supposed to be able to learn foreign languages for the life of them, right?-)
Oh, and my father is an oil producer in a state which peaked in 1893 and produced the Rockefellers.
I don't like forums because they go too fast. Look, it's already Monday evening (here in Germany) and I'm still on a thread from Saturday... Well, have to work and take care of the wife and kids in between.
So, now to the heresy bit:
A pope can be a heretic, as long as he doen't make it doctrine. A heretic is someone who not only disagrees with the official teachings, but with a major teaching - disagreeing with the trinity, for instance.
Now, which pope are you accusing of heresy - in disagreement with which teaching?
Or do you just simply disagree with Humanae Vitae?
TOD is not the place to question the Pope.
If you have issues, Ask the Pope yourself.
In the interests of keeping focus on Peak Oil, I am going to begin making the case that Islam is the best religion, because it incorporates the best parts of both Judaism and Christianity, gets rid of unnecessary and irrelevant complications in both religions, and further more has advanced beyond Christianity in important ways.

This case was first made to me by an Egyptian friend of mine forty-eight years ago, and it is a stong case that I have never seen convincingly answered nor refuted in any way shape or manner. And yet, so huge is the ignorance of most Westerners that few of us have studied the Koran.

Ignorance is remediable. Stupidity is not. People who stereotype the nature of any of the great religions in a negative way seldom if ever speak from informed intelligence.

Right on with ya,
but what does that have to do with PO?
Have you seen "Syrianna"?

The "clash of civilizations" issue has much to do with Peak Oil and what the world is going to look like during the next fifty years.

The prognosis is Not Good.

I'm not asking what MUSLIMS have to do with PO,
I'm asking you what your point is. I'll stand on the side of the muslims with you.

BTW, they don't like contraception or Abortion either - That's for the heathen West/Unbelievers. They just don't have a central unit which produces unconfortable "dogmas".

No, I have never seen Syrianna, I have never seen a Simmons talk and I hate camping. I live in Germany and will probably have to wander south to the N.Sahara in an attempt to survive PO.

Most of the easy-to-get-at oil that remains in the world is under land controlled my Muslims. Some of these, the Wahabis, for example, hate the West with extreme fervor.

Once again, I recommend the film I mentioned, and Simmons is definitely worth a read.

"Personally I doubt Bush is praying to a Christian God at all. He's praying to something else entirely. Something that may be Evil and dangerous. He never seems to say much about Jesus does he? But he talks a lot about his God. Given his track record doesn't it seem likely he's praying to the horned beast and his soul is doomed? How's that for Bush bashing?'

LOL - China only a couple of weeks ago lifted its ban on One Child Per Family - why? because they are going to need the cheap labor -

If the US wanted to reduce its baby boom, then immediate back the move to return all illegals back to their country along with all their kids ...

No Bush does say much about which God he serves nor should he, the enlightened know and understand what he means ...


The name of Bush's God is: GeWaB.

That's long for GWB.

Yes, God exists, but only in our heads.

True Gods exist in the heads of true believers. God existed through Mother Teresa because she did God's work. His will was done through her. False Gods exist in those who talk the talk but walk a different path. Gearge Walker Bush begot a little Bush that walks the different path. IOW: I "love life" and that is why I am going to shock and awe those unbeleiving Iraqi's. Sounds very much like a crazed Muslim doesn't he? There is almost no difference between the two. They hold the same God in their head, the God of me and nobody else. Mother Teresa's God was the God of Caring for others. A very different kind of God.

Be careful. If I were the US Attourney General I would be looking into using RICO laws to bring down the Catholic Church as a pedophile mafia. The parishioners aren't the problem, but the management is a severe problem. If possible, I'd have the Cardinals and Pope Ratzinger arrested and made to turn big rocks into little rocks in Leavenworth. And cement the little rocks into big rocks to bust up again. Note my complete lack of respect for Joseph Ratzinger otherwise known as Benedict v.16.0.

This with running a pedophile racket is some serious business, and it is sickening. The management is using peoples' need to "believe" simply so they can do their racket - and the Vatican is LOADED with money. Sounds like mafiosi to me.

Re: Kurt Cobb has it exactly right

Cobb going after Yergin is fine with me, I do it as often as possible. But when he says

To repeat: Neither Yergin nor anyone else knows anything for certain about oil supplies 30 to 40 years hence. Yergin is merely assigning a high probability to a peak then. But, implicit in his forecast is this: Since oil is a finite resource which is being continuously depleted and since no one--not even Daniel Yergin--knows exactly how much new oil will be found over the next three to four decades, it follows that the probability of an oil peak grows with each passing year. It is this reality and not the cheerful certainty which Yergin exudes that ought to command our attention.
Nonsense. What a weak argument! Take a stand and study some data. We've got a pretty good idea how much oil there is left to find. Hubbert Linearizations, historical discovery data, the failure of current E&P to replace anywhere close to what we consume, country-by-country analysis of URR, etc. The "uncertainty" precautionary principle argument has been used with equally insignificant effect regarding climate change. When you can't heat your house or you're having constant rolling blackouts or there's gas rationing, then something will happen. And we're just one oil shock away from any of this. There is no spare capacity. That's it. Face up to it. And there's probably not going to be any going forward.

So, Kurt, quit pontificating from the pulpit. Look at some data and get your hands dirty.

I think it is useful to remind people that they are assigning probabilities, especially to remind those who do so with an air of certainty.

We can see trends certainly (in prices, in discoveries, in politics, in technology), but I can't think a wise observer is going to be too certain about where they lead ... not on a "30 to 40 year" timeline.

No one knows, and that's why the commodity markets take the easy way out, and use today's price as good a prediction as any.

Sorry, Odograph, I'm going to have to disagree with you here. Consider the discoveries trend.

I don't know what else to say. And especially with all the good work Stuart has done on the linearizations. One argument for a non-peak now is that there is a lag time between discovery and production which is maybe 5 to 10 years. If this discovery data is correct, as I believe and Bubba does too, then even with the lag we can foresee new URR coming online. And even with the usually bogus argument that EOR technology will squeeze more oil from existing fields, you've got to admit that things look bad since depletion from older, giant fields is the key variable.

The world is thoroughly explored geologically. Yes, there may be the odd "elephant" field out there. But, as I noted on a previous thread, what constitutes such a field has decreased from 1 Gb URR to 0.25 Gb URR in recent years. I'd say we have a pretty good idea of what world oil production looks like 30 to 40 years out.

So, yes, we do have a good approximation of the remaining recoverable oil in the ground and Cobb's precautionary principle is a weak argument given the data at hand.

You, Stuart, and others do excellent work with this data, but even excellent work can be stretched.

You say "I'd say we have a pretty good idea of what world oil production looks like 30 to 40 years out."

OK, name it.

Oh, what the fuck? I've had a few glasses of wine.

Year 2036 -- 10/mbpd (all liquids) maximum down from about 84/mbpd now. I believe this is a generous estimate. No harm, no foul.

best, Dave

what the fuck? I've had a few glasses of wine.

There's your problem. You joined the engineering fraternity at school. You didn't do enough partying. Instead, you wasted your time studying boring numbers and graphs.

The Yerginites joined the liberal arts, fun fraternities. They drank mega-kegs of beer and hard liquor. They still do. They know how to party hardy. They don't waste their time studying boring numbers and graphs (boring, as in boring a well). The nerdy tech fraternities do that low level work. They will provide. They always have. It's "their" problem, not Yergin's. The markets always provide.

BTW, it is interesting to note that a projection like this has to know the political shakeout of things like the recent "health alert" surrounding Canadian oil sands.

A week ago that wasn't even known.  This week it has to be both known and projected.

Sorry, Odograph, but my week's family and work responsibilities have me very pinched for time.

I'm curious about the "health alert" related to Canadian tar sands. This blew right by me.

Could you further descibe it, or link to it?

-- thanks! -- Gary (beggar)

Dave, anybody, do you know of a list or publicly available database of oil fields, estimated recoverable volumes and year of discovery?
Right.  And here's some news on the analytical front: the very first Wall Street analyst that I've seen discussing Peak Oil and why it's coming.  To see it, and his extremely entertaining commentary, google Donald Coxe and click on Basic Points.
I saw it more as a 'pascal's wager' idea.   The penality for not believing and taking action to reflect that belief could be fatal.

He's tyring the soft sell.   Here at TOD, we are past the soft sell WRT peak oil.

Population is the biggest issue indeed. There are ways to cut population growth to the negative. Here are some:

A: Empowerment of women. In places where women have equal rights, they want fewer kids. That's good for population slowing.

B: Allow easy to get abortion. Abortion not just slows childbirth, but it also slows down production of unwanted kids in accord with Freakonomics. The side benefit is less child abuse and fewer criminals later. Great for law and order types!

C: Allow easy to get contraception. Condoms, Da Pill, and don't forget RU-486 (and "RU-Pentium") prevent abortions in the first place. See the previous.

D: Allow men to "divorce" fatherhood. That'll be real controversial. Think of the case of Matt Dubay and a possible "Roe v. Wade for Men". This with being unable to use men as 2-legged ATMs will deter childbirth like nothing else with the other 3 things implimented. A policy like that will balance reproductive rights in a way that BOTH potential parents will want that kid, deterring the "oopser" woman from trying to entrap a man. And Freakonomics applies with this deterrent like abortion itself. Both would have to "sign off" on producing the kid. If the man backs out, the woman has to either abort or be ready to take care of the kid as a single parent - a serious detterent to childbirth.

In third world places, work will have to be done to develop a cheap but safe abortion procedure, possibly to be done by the woman herself. A drug that causes miscarriage (spontaneous abortion), maybe? Also, cheap but safe and effective contraception is needed for third world use. A buck a pill is the max in cases like that. Empowerment of women and Roe v. Wade for Men are legal items, that are low-cost. (and theoretically zero energy use, since they are legal constructs)

The tricky part is that a "world federal government" would likely be needed to impliment the mandates of woman empowerment and Roe v. Wade for Men. Also, a world government would be needed to distribute contraception effectively. Too bad the UN is mostly ineffective if not downright irrelavant. :( I did like Kofi Annan. (We Chicagoans tend to overlook minor corruption)

A major problem is that religious leaders, looking to increase their power base, tend to frown upon anything that might slow child production. After all, the more brainwashed followers they have, the more power they get, by controlling people serving as robots. If you control a billion people, you have 100 million horsepower in human labour alone. That does not include any machines the minions are using! If you REALLY want to get behind the flight yoke of a machine with millions if not billions of horses, start a religion.

it might not be safe to assume that access to contraception would equate to use of contraception by the people. culturally, the idea of contraception or the idea of eliminating reproduction is not likely to take root. there are societies (example: ghana) that reject the use of contraception even though they are at some level aware of the link between sex and the spread of viruses like HIV/AIDS.
We already have abortion pills. They just aren't legal. Ditto the HPV vaccine the religious right is trying to keep off the market to deter sex among children.
"Curbing population growth in a humane, fair fashion will be the greatest challenge humanity will ever face."

That's why so many of today's cutting-edge thinkers are willing to ditch the "humane, fair" part and restrict their ambitions from "saving humanity" to something more feasible, like white nationalist ecofascism.

I assume you are joking?
The only place we have a population growth problem at the moment is the third world.
Are YOU going to start the genozide?!
trust me when I say the third world population is not your problem.  In terms of energy and food, hell, I throw out more food in a week then a family of 5 eats in a month and I am in good shape!
I like Cobb's rational, logical arguments. If we can all agree that the solutions would do us good anyway why not implement them. This is my current approach on my local agenda - safe bike lanes, good access to mass transit, greenmarkets, waste reduction/composting, less car congestion/ don't have to support the idea of peak oil to support these ideas. Peak oil is just the latest reason why you should implement these ideas.
Yes, but "implementing solutions" prescribed by somebody is akin to creating a centralized command-and-control society like in former Soviet Union.

If I were to deal with PO I would simply factor in the so called "externalities" in our oil usage and tax it up to the skies. The market would take care of the rest and people would find out the best solutions in an evolutionary way, not the ones proposed by somebody living in his/her own world who thinks s/he knows the "solutions".

We need to factor the carbon tax, the air quality degradation, the loss of lives and health in traffic incidents, the loss of community cohesion etc. etc.

The biggest tax though would be "the future generations" tax - one that must be proportional to the scarcity of a given resource, meaning that it will rise with time. And of course all of this must not apply only to our oil usage, but to anything we do.

exactly Levin.  exactly.  there's no way to govern the commons without shared norms or heavily centralized power/C&C...and I fear that's exactly where we're heading sooner or later.  Say "Patriot Act" and "Dept of Homeland Security" three times each.  The citizenry will give up its freedoms to ensure order/security, it's happened before.
In some applications you can use market forces to advantage. In this case, the desired result is to reduce fuel consumption. Somethings that can be done:

A: Tax fuel like no tomorrow. Throttle up the taxes gradually for best results. That will get market forces to work to advantage, and by reducing consumption, result in less money fed to terrorists. Too bad it's politically impossible or next to it.

B: Encourage car alternatives. Since commuting is the most energy-inefficient economic activity, getting people to switch to more efficient methods gets better productivity per gallon. (OK, I'm sounding a bit like an economist.) Things to do is undo laws that require registration of mopeds and allow faster mopeds, say a 5HP limit (any cc rating) so people will develop "mopeds" that can do freeway speed. SWomeone will sell them! Undo the 30MPH moped limit, to encourage hot-rodders.

C: Subsidise mass transit. This includes trains. The benefit is obvious, as those not like a MacGyver can more easally cut fuel consumption merely by taking a bus instead of getting behind the yoke of a car.

D: Mandate a 4-day work week. That'll save 20 percent of fuel consumption right off the bat. 4/10 instead of 5/8. Who wouldn't want 3-day weekends every weekends?

Commuting is the most energy-intensive economic activity I can think of. Why? If a worker makes $100/day and lives 4 gallons away, the GDP/gallon is $12.50/gallon. Not good. (he uses 8 gallons a day) A pizza driver may deliver a $12 pizza but use less than a litre of fuel for the mission. That'll be $48/gallon. It's obvious that we need to reduce fuel consumption for commuting, given the nearly epic distances many people drive. I live 2 litres away as of now, and want to live closer to work, despite suburbs not being my cup of tea.

People really need to think in terms of fuel consumption, not just minutes as far as distance. The mantra of navigators everywhere:

Time, Speed, Distance, and FUEL LEFT ON BOARD.

"The citizenry will give up its freedoms to ensure order/security, it's happened before."

And we've only just begun in the good old USA. How can we trust a government that is doing this to rationally spend the "commons tax revenue"?

Will the marketplace be enough to build the type of infrasturcture changes we're going to need, though?  I just finished reading about the Swiss efforts to improve their freight transport via high-speed rail.  Who besides government would make that kind of investment?  The costs are too high and the benefits too long-term and diffuse.

As a concrete example of how markets are limited, look at the medium we're all using right now.  Would the internet have ever come about without government (via public universities) support?  I seriously doubt it.  Would we even be sitting in front of PC's if the government initiated space program in the 1960's hadn't started the ball rolling?

Of course the government will have to take care of the infrastructure; at least for now we don't know any other way to do it. Of course there must be also some kind of plan or global direction as to where we will be going.

But the concrete microeconomis solutions, technologies etc. will be born by the private sector, and later the private sector itself will demand corrections of the global course if neccessary.

For example it is the responsibility of the government to put the strategic goal of abandoning fossil fuels and they may decide for example to build hydrogen economy instead (and start putting off the infrastructure). Later on the market may decide that hydrogen is not good and electrical transportation is better, and the government must change its policy accordingly. It has always been this way - in hard times or transitions, goverments have always been the ones that need to create the framework for the business to evolve/change. It hardly happens by itself.

You scare me.
I think Levin is allright...
too much reliance on the government - we better figure out how to deal with it own our own
The thing is...I'm not sure it's possible to deal with it on our own.  Grassroots works in some cases, but in others, you need some kind of central control.  

Otherwise, how do you keep people from dumping their pollution downstream or downwind?  Or damning up all the water so communities downstream have none?

It's already something of a problem.  Coal burned in Ohio causes acid rain in New England.  California and Nevada are fighting over the amount of radiation Nevada is allowed to dump in rivers that flow through California.  Water wars are already an issue in the west, and are likely to get worse.  

Peak oil is going to be a global issue.  Coal burned in China will increase global warming for us all.  Nuclear war in the Middle East is likely to have repercussions far outside the region. Etc.  These are not things we can "deal with on our own."


I also feel uncomfortable even when I have to type the word "government", but I don't see us having much choice.

There needs to be something/somebody acting as corrective to short-termed and short-sighted exploitation of nature or/and people. If you just take a look around you will see that we have so many of these correctives already installed and incorporated in our lives, to an extent that we even fail to notice them. We have laws, moral, complex sets of everyday rules etc. etc. all for one purpose - to keep the long-term stability (or sustainability if you wish) of the system.

Maybe we need more organizations like Greenpeace and EarthFirst!  but better armed. You are talking about protecting the interests of groups who may be hurt by other's use of the commons. Maybe the government will do the right thing and maybe it won't. It would seem to have the power to do what is necessary but it may choose to use it in the best interests of those who currently hold power in the government. When I talk about doing it on our own that doesn't necessarily mean as one individual (although sometimes it does). It means not relying on a government which may not be acting in your best interest. It may mean banding together with like minded people and marshalling the resources to do what is right based on your value system. Do not assume that the government's value system is anything other than perpetuating its own existence.
As a concrete example[s] of how markets are limited, look at ... the internet ... PC's [we sit in front of] ... the government initiated space program in the 1960's ...


Excellent point. This is proof of how much we are all into denial.

Those who worship the Invisible Hand are in complete denial of how transistors, integrated circuits, personal computers (PC's) and the Internet all came into being.

It was all thanks to the government war machine.

Research into integrated circuits (IC's) was supported by the Pentagon because they wanted lighter electronics for their ICBM missiles. The private market sector could not have done it because there was not enough ROI (Return on Investment) in basic R&D.

Same goes for the Internet. It was invented in response to Dr. Strangelove's request: make me a system that can survive the bomb.

Dr. Strangelove is not interested in how the peons will survive Peak Oil. That's their problem. And "The Market" will not provide unless Dr. Strangelove pays it to try and do so.

There were those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. At the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year. The deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.
Taxing externalities makes sense, but it is not as easy as it sounds.

For example, do we count the cost of the Iraq war? Some claim we're only there for oil, but that is far from universally accepted. Even worse, should we count the cost of our entire military budget as being about protecting oil resources? That is far more controversial.

You're worried about greenhouse warming and carbon emissions, but the problem is that if you do a straight, mainstream economic analysis of the costs of global warming, discounted to the present day as is the norm in such analyses, the costs are very low. Basically they are talking about a 2-3 degree C rise in 100 years, and discounted to today, that's nothing. Yes, there are those who say that the costs of global warming are coming sooner, even today, but those are controversial and not mainstream.

Looking at social factors like the loss of community cohesion, and such, these are far harder to quantify. And what about the beneficial externalities, like greater mobility and freedom? Sexual liberation? Car culture has made an enormous impact and is arguably responsible for many of the cultural changes we have seen from 100 years ago. Who would seriously argue that the culture of 1900 was superior to today?

As far as your "future generations" tax, that is not needed at all. Standard economic theory predicts that the price of a resource will rise exponentially as it approaches exhaustion, suppressing demand and leaving more for future generations. This theory also shows that this effect optimizes the net social benefit of the resource (again, with future benefits discounted as usual due to the uncertainty of what things will be like then).

Yes. And with this theory and four dollars (or thereabouts) you can buy a big cup of coffee at Starbucks.
For example, do we count the cost of the Iraq war?

Of course, if its goal was securing the oil indeed (and you have my bet on it). I imagine it would be hard for the politicians to explain why they need to make the public pay through fuel prices, but this could be some kind of enforcement of policy transparency, isn't it? Surely this is more of a science fiction we are talking about.

Basically they are talking about a 2-3 degree C rise in 100 years, and discounted to today, that's nothing.

How do you know for sure it would be 2-3 degrees, it would be in 100 years, and how do you know what will be the effects/costs? There are various scenarious and you have to account for all of them. Of course you can hardly put correct weights on each one of them, but you can at least try to estimate the risks correspondent to GW. What are the risks of global starvation due to draughts for example? How do you price in millions of deaths? If you price in the risks you will find out that the real price we do not pay today will be much too high. And... the costs in 50 or 100 years promise to be enormous even discounted to today. 2-3 degrees is not nothing - it would mean that New York, Tokyo, London, Amsterdam etc. etc. would be underwater. How much is worth the oil left in the ground? $60-80 trillion, todays prices, I guess. Just the cost of rebuilding these cities will be much higher IMO.

Standard economic theory predicts that the price of a resource will rise exponentially as it approaches exhaustion, suppressing demand and leaving more for future generations.

I'm sorry but this is an utter BS. It does not mean "leaving more for future generations" it means that we are leaving more and more expensive resource and more and more of lower standard and suffering for the future generations. The only way to avoid it is try to level things out and stimulate the market to avoid entering this trap by giving it time to accomodate.

Levin, do you remember when Clinton/Gore proposed a carbon tax in 1993 to deal with things like global warming and energy waste?

Great idea, but I can still remember the screams of outrage from business and the auto industry.

Think how different the world might be if a carbon tax in the U.S. would have been in place for 13 years now.

Yeap, but the glass is already broken and there is no use to cry for it. IMO, the political timeframe for carbon tax closed sometime in the beginning of the century when gas was still ridiculously cheap.

Regarding the business resistance - this is a good testament of who in fact is ruling this country and how far this "who" is planning for the future. Turns out that the next decade or two profits of some miniscule percentage of the US population are more important that the fate of the whole country long-term.

The bad news is that these guys still have their rational-like ideology in the face of classical economics, and can easily slaughter any good idea with nice talks for "free market" and "market efficency".

The French, unlike the Germans, largely dismantled their tram (think streetcar > light rail) systems after WW II.  They are now rebuilding them at a furious rate.  Three new lines are opening this year and more next year.

I am away from home (in Phoenix helping my parents after my father's knee surgery) and do not have access to my complete list.  Bascially every town of 200,000 or larger in France that "voted correctly" is getting one new tram line and those over a half million or so are getting two new tram lines.

Since 1973, France has been steadily building the infrastructure to cope with Peak Oil (national economic security has been the guiding force) even though Peak Oil was not on the radar in 1973.  It takes a while to build alternatives to oil without a crash program (and their construction of nuclear reactors in the 1970s & 1980s to replace oil fired power plants could be considered a crash program).

From a handfull of nuclear reactors in 1973 to over 90% of their electricity coming from nuke & hydro (and one tidal plant). After a lull, they are considering two to four more reactors.

They are working on the last few spurs of their high speed electric passenger trains, the TGV. And now trams in very town of any size (that votes correctly).

Their one weak point is freight rail.  Most goods are transported by truck and not by rail.  French rail unions are often blamed for the failure of the Chunnel (between England & France) to attract much rail freight.  They work against a modal shift away from trucks because of their union rules, strikes, etc. per reports.

Still, even with this gap, France exports enough to get the oil they need for essentials, and they can survive Peak Oil quite well, IMHO.  And moving freight from trucks to rail can be done with reforms IF it is seen as being essential for the national interest.

There has been dismantling of tramlines in Germany as well. And more and more reconstruction in the last year. In many regions the tramlines merged with the railway system (e.g. the city of Karlsruhe) which connects the suburban and sourrounding places with the bigger places. Eveb in some regions crossing the borderlines.

Here in Berlin, the eastern bourroughs have are served with a big tramline system, the western bourroughs have almost no tramline. In the 60ies, the city government decided to plan the car friendly city. On account of that, some underground lines were built, paid by money from the FRG to support the front city. Today it is almost impossible planning or building new tramlines in the western parts. Not only on account of lack of money.

Marotti, what happened to the S-Bahn after the wall came down?

My uncle moved from Berlin to Munich in the early 90's, so I lost track of what was happening in Berlin.

The S-Bahn rolling stock may not have been up to much, but the network was quite extensive, as I remember it.  Still, I bet the land was valuable real-estate.

I really admire the French:
  1. Went to 75% Nuclear Power.
  2. Protects its farming and localised food supply.
  3. Ignores edicts fronm Brussels and the EEC whenever it suits them
  4. Looks after its strategic industries and protects them from buy out.
  5. Its politicians always put France First
  6. Acts in a realpolitik fashion.
  7. Gets things done wrt Transport

They have one of the best chances of surviving PO in
Europe. Its almost as if they saw it coming.
Resisting globalization.
You are substantially correct in relation to France and it's future prospects for dealing with Peak Oil. In lots of respects they don't appear to be that badly off. 80% of their electricity coming from nuclear.

France isn't, as I'm sure you're aware a country without substantial problems, all countries have problems after all. There is a great deal of unemployment. That's just one example.

I think we have to remember to that Peak Oil is a global problem which will affect the global economy negatively, even including countries which appear to be better situated than others. Our economies are all interconected these days.

What I like most about France is the food. I have eaten some really great meals in France, and cakes and pastries too die for!

What I really meant to say here, is, that France is perhaps the most centralised country in Europe. The State is really powerful and takes a far more interventionist stance than in the US. It's easier to undertake large national projects in France and see them implimented in full. This system of course has it's positive and negative sides. Can't see the US turning into France though. However, on second thoughts it might not be such a bad idea.

Don't fall into the trap of comparing French unemployment figures with ours.  While I think their unemployment is higher, remember that our numbers are cooked, and not representative of reality.
I pretty much agree with you agreeing with me.
Yes, the French do have a relatively high level of unemployment (perhaps they are truthful in their statistics compared with say, the UK or the US...).

Every now and then, the French people go to the polls and elect somebody from right or left, but they always seem to get a Frenchman who believes in France. Unlike our poodles in the UK who would appear to follow whatever line is fed them from BushInc.

I certainly agree with you concerning the food! (and the wine)

And of course there are the summer sunsets. Paradise with an educated Civil Service and a centralised approach to national problems.

Still they are not perfect. As Bush stated: 'The trouble with the French is that they have no word for entrepreneur'. Dorme bien.

French people have quite an amount of pride in being French. Here is a fun anecdote. Any time a person travels to France and tries to use French at all, ordinary people there will play "speech therapist" on the traveller. Most Americans consider it rude on their part, but when I went there repeatedly (while in the US Navy) I thought it was kind of fun. With words of French origin, I still have that infamous French R.

Pre-euro, the French had the Franc as the unit of money. I still to this day use a French R if I say that word! I suppose I should take a French class, and let the teacher freak out on my install of a French accent. France wouldn't be a bad place to move to if you hit the lotto, except for a contingent of North African type Moslems. In Paris, they recently caused a bunch of trouble. I guess they couldn't get into being French people. Note that I have multiple accents installed, some normally not used.

As far as transport, the French have those really high speed trains. They use wires suspended over the tracks and a device on top of the locomotive to get the power, with the tracks being the ground. Being a nice big series-wound motor on wheels, it packs a lot of power in the package. Just the thing to give a train some get up and go. Our Amtrak try is pathetic as the train must carry a diesel genset as well as the series-wound motors, a major efficiency hit. It's dead weight to accellerate while wires do the same job in France.

It is common among southern countries to have a higher level of unemployment - just take a look at Spain, Greece or Italy. It is more of a cultural phenomenon IMO - I would say that people are not that aggressive for finding jobs and prefer to live at much slower pace.

To a northern, busy, city person the southerns seem lazy but I would not call it this way - maybe they just prefer to live like this and I don't think we can judge them. IMO, we too have that division in USA to some extent, but the non-socialistic environment does not allow it to show that much - here if you are unemployed you may as well be dead.

France is a southern country in many aspects, especially south of Paris and has some strong socialistic elements. I don't think French people mind that though.

I describe it like this, "We are working to live, not living to work."
Then I'm a southern too :)
Or "Eighty".
Iran threatens to use Oil as a weapon....,,-5678833,00.html

Yes we are... no we're not.... yes we are... no we're not.....

20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy.  Feign disorder,
    and crush him.
Here's a question for someone who follows daily events from Africa:  What are the latest goings-on in Zimbabwe as a result of their not having been able to purchase oil for some months now?
Buy a very good lock and chain for your bicycle.
Bike prices have shot up about 3000%.

Zimbabwe, once a garden of eden and net exporter of crops is on the brink of starvation. This is not due to PO though,it is due to appalling mismanagment. Oil Prices have just made it worse.

Inflation in Zimbabwe soars to all-time high of 782%

HARARE, Zimbabwe Like something out of pre-war Germany, inflation has shot out of sight in Zimbabwe.
Trade unions in that African nation say the average worker is making the equivalent of 50 to 60 U-S dollars a month, but needs 90 just to meet basic food needs.

Zimbabwe's office of statistics said today that inflation in the past 12 months soared to an all-time high of 782 percent. State radio says prices rose by more than 27 percent in February alone.

Despite predictions of shortages of fuel, seed, fertilizer, chemicals and farm machinery that works, the government is still forecasting a bumper harvest this year. It predicts inflation will drop to 200 percent by the end of the year.

You know it's bad when they're hoping inflation will go down to 200%.

How much credibility do all of you out there think that government prediction of a "bumper harvest" has?
But the government would rather see its own people starve to death than admit failure.

This is relatively easy when you ban foreign news agenciesw

And those in government themselves are doing right well, thank you.
Hi all!

I have been reading this excellent site since the beginning, but I am an infrequent poster.

I have a question for everyone.  My son is in second grade and has a science fair in May.  I have been talking to him a bit about Peak Oil, and he is interested in doing a project that is somehow related.

Does anyone have any good science fair project ideas?  Please remember that he is in second grade, and while he is very bright, it has to be something at a level that he can do the work.

Thanks everyone!

Comparing the friction of very well pumped (bicycle) tires and nearly flat ones?

Could probably be done by rolling down a small hill. I have no immediate idea on how to do it as a simple indoor experiment.

Rolling resistance of tires:

  1. Small tire off trike/small bike.  4 would work best.
  2. ramp
  3. hand saw to cut 2x4 to make the tire holders  
  4. white paper
  5. pen
  6. spring for tire holding 2x4's to slam into
  7. mousetrap.   (for pulling the release pin and who doesn't love a mousetrap in a science project)

An object with less rolling resistance will compress the spring more than more rolling resistance.  (cite various laws of energy conservation)  The pen keeps track of the maximum compression.   Have child collect data.

Extra credit if you build the ramp with lottsa little holes to make an air table and do a frictionless spring slammer version of the tire-car.

That's a great question.  Second grade, hmmm...

One idea would be some kind of a model of an oil well. Kids love to make models like that. Sometimes I have heard an oil reservoir as being like water in a sponge. It's easy to suck water out at first but then it stops, even though there's still a lot of water there.

So suppose you stuffed a sponge in a glass and put a straw in it, then poured in water. You'd be able to get water out at first but pretty soon it's all trapped in the sponge. The idea is that even though we have lots of oil underground, we may run out in terms of being able to get it out.

Here's another idea that would be a little more ambitious. Use a larger container like a baking dish and stuff it with the sponge (could use layers of paper towels just as well). Fill it with colored water to represent oil, put the straw at one end, and at first it produces plenty of oil but pretty soon there is no more coming out. Now flood the field with plain water at the other end, like water injection. The water will wash some "oil" out of the "rock" and you can get more coming out at the oil well end.

I'm not sure how you could rig up the suction though, so that people could see it. You don't really want your son sucking water and then spitting it into a cup. If you could get a small water pump that might work, it could go at the bottom of the "oil well" side.

Anyway I'll bet you could come up with some kind of model like this, it would be fun and would illustrate some of the principles of oil extraction. The idea again would be that even when there is a lot of oil in the rock, production levels could decrease.

You could actually use oil with a sponge.  

As for suction, why not a simple hose/water tank that you lower, thus creating a siphon?  

To show the 'amount of oil' in the sponge, use the weight of the sponge + oil.  Water injected not at the bottom of the sponge would show poor field management.  

Ah...could I suggest... chocolate syrup?
I work with my grandkids on things like this.  Every one has a different personality and wants to do different kinds of things.  One likes numbers and tables and other sorts of organizing procedures.  I showed her how to think out roughly how much oil is in things, ie, gasoline- all oil,, plastic, almost all oil, wood- a little bit of oil, etc etc etc.  She then  wrote out a description of how she got her numbers and made a bar graph of her results, ranking in order of % oil (or fraction of oil), and came to the useful realization that almost every thing had some oil involved in it somehow.  Anyhow, she liked the speculation part and the picture-bar graph- and got an idea of a problem that she was going to have to face.  Fortunately, she was not the least depressed by this insight, just curious.

She then wanted to talk about how to use less oil.

I have two seven-year old granddaughters, one in second grade (a suburban girl) and one in first grade (a country girl), and it is amazing how differently they see the world as I gently hint around and ask questions (the gentle Socratic method) what might happen when mommy does not have enough money to buy gas for the car to buy groceries. The country girl is very science-oriented, has grown up fishing since age two and a half and hunts birds with her bow and arrows in emulation of her father, an accomplished bow hunter. Immediately, Katie sees the problem in starkest terms: We could not send out for pizza anymore. And the deer would not be killed so often on the roads because people would drive less.

That's interesting, I say. Fewer deer kills. [For the benefit of you city folks, deer keep the body shops in business in many rural areas, and you can total-out a brand new $25,000 full-size truck if you hit a big buck head on at 65 m.p.h.] What else would happen? Sad face . . . no more water-skiing. But that is O.K. because we can always fish or swim instead. Happy face: School buses could not run and so I wouldn't have to go to school; mommy could teach me at home. Couldn't you ride your bike to school? Grandpa, it takes an hour on the bus, much to far to bike. Maybe Mommy could open a school in our house . . . .

Suburban granddaughter sees things differently. No money for gas . . . does the Repo man get the car? (She is almost eight and highly sophisticated, already reads on the sixth grade level and has "Paper Moon" as one of her favorite movies.) Maybe, I say. Well, then, we'll just have to ride our bikes to the Food Shelf, because we'll be too broke to buy food. But, says I gently, what if they are out at the Food Shelf. Budding anthropologist that she is, her response is simple: "Grandpa, we'd just move in with you, because that's what people always do when times get bad."

Out of the mouths of babes . . . .

Oh, and for science projects, starting a fire with a convex lens (cheap magnifying glass) and sunlight is as simple and fascinating as it gets. In terms of physics and astronomy, you can get a lot of mileage out of this demonstration.

How about a project where your son researches how his school can save 50% of it's energy use with better practices?  It might be an eye-opener for the school's administration.

Some ideas:

  • Reduced voltage fluorescent lights
  • Solar water heating
  • Better use of sunlight instead of lighting
  • Passive heating/cooling
  • Hybrid, bio-fuel buses
  • Vege garden for school lunch ingredients
  • etc. etc.

He could start by doing a simple 'energy-audit' of the school's energy use, then try to find the 'low hanging fruit'.

Please let us know how he gets on.

I think Kurt Cobb is dealing with a subject I mentioned a few days ago when I asked the question "Is the Market Sovereign?" Cobb seems to be saying that Daniel Yergin believes that "The Marketplace" is indeed sovereign. He goes a step further and compares the belief that the marketplace with solve all our problems, with the belief in a god. Questioning this belief is tantamount to blasphemy. Still, I believe this is precisely the kind of questioning we need to conduct if we are to get through to the other side beyond Peak Oil.

We need a kind of new "reformation" of our most cherished beliefs. In much the same way that Martin Luther saw the corruption in the Church of Rome and saw that it had to change or die. So, I think we need to reform our secular religion if we're going to find the answers to our problems.

Can the concept of Free Market Capitalism handle something so monumental as PO? I have thought about this for about three or four years. Now my background has been pretty much FMC all my working life, but I am beginning to 'doubt the pillars of my house'.

FMC has brought so much to us here in the west (2/3 rds of the world may object to that statement and possibly correctly) But FMC was mid-wifed and fed by cheap oil. FMC has not met a challenge like PO in its reign since 1945.

My take? (for what its worth). Simmons and others crying for a new 'Manhattan Project'.This Must imply thereby a war footing economy (the war being against energy depletion , not terror/Islam/other people.).
2)Rationing, but not by price (how do the nurses get to work? or the cleaners/teachers/firemen/police/other essential workers?)
3)Education: Conspicuous consumption must elicit oprobrium and contempt
4) National planning for the common weal

Now all the above may smell of socialism, which, to the US may well be an anathema. But, if a society will not hang together, then its members will hang seperately.

On my travels in the US, I was always struck by the general level of neighborliness and the potential of the 'social glue' that binds communities together. If the truth regarding PO was put to the people of the US and a leader of sufficient vision was to propel the enormity of the problem into the minds of the American people, then they would rise to the challenge.

America was once described by one of our better leaders as 'The last, best hope of the human race'. Dont blow it.

"But FMC was mid-wifed and fed by cheap oil."

Wasn't FMC embodied in the founding of the US? Granted the rise of the corporate form of organization probably paralleled the development of the petroleum infrastructure as massive amounts of capital were raised. (And there is one big problem with corporations - management not being held accountable by the shareholders as the shareholders become highly diverse - but that is another topic.) FMC should and I think will deal with Peak Oil but that does not mean that it will not be painful. Remember FMC rewards those that see the future clearly AND ACT ON IT. Personally I do not want the government to step in and try to do a better job than FMC, they alway f**k it up. Let the entrepreneurs and VCs deal with it. We keep wanting the government to help us so it won't hurt so bad. There is nothing we can do to make it not hurt bad. It will hurt bad. Face it. Prepare for it. If you prepare for it better than most you will  be better off than most and you can help them if you choose. But the idea that government will help is very dangerous. Government's role is to protect liberty not access to oil or any other resource. Today it is taking away liberties to protect our access to oil.

Wasn't FMC embodied in the founding of the US?

  1. is the 'free market' "free" per the works of Adam Smith
  2. Corporate form under FMC tend to be preditory (and not very  Adam Smith transparent market with informed buyer/seller)

FMC was fueled by the land, wood, and minerals - those resources were will picked over in Europe.

Government's role is to protect liberty not access to oil or any other resource.

What about the role of the regulated monopoly WRT electrical power?  The idea that there is only so much copper, and to conserve that resource by only having one power provider per area.  

"Wealth of Nations" was published in 1776 and widely read and respected by our Founding Fathers who, as a group, were remarkably well-read men. Locke and Montesquiu were more influential than Smith, however, and of note is that (to the best of my knowledge) not one of our Founding Fathers ever wrote of Hobbes, "Leviathan" with approval.

Locke had a vision of a good society with abundance and good-natured people made that way by the rule of law. Hobbes had a dark vision of absolute government being the only alternative to complete anarchy, the war of each against all.

Interestingly enough, both Locke and Hobbes seem to have been about right: Where there is abundance (Sweden, U.K., Japan, Taiwan) life approximates what Locke envisioned. Where there is stark poverty and starvation, e.g. N. Korea, we have absolute government or, e.g. Zimbabwe or Nigeria, gangsterism plus anarchy and genocide always waiting in the wings.

Of course there are many in-between cases, but IMO both Locke and Hobbes deserve serious study.

Dear Don, you made a little slip. Hobbes wrote about the war of all against all, not each against all, which I imagine would be far more difficult. I hope that's clear and exactly perfect or the ????? will be after me again!
Hobbes used both phrases, in different places. You are probably thinking of the famous ". . . . and the life of man, nasty, poor, solitary, brutish and short." or words to that effect.

"Leviathan" is a long book.

Did you know that Hobbes was one of the very few philosophers ever to go insane? Senile dementia.

The only other notable philosopher to go crazy was Nietsche, and that was due to general paresis (tertiary syphilis). I find the sanity of philosophers refreshing, except for some of the gloomy Germans (Kant was the last cheerful German philosopher--quite a fun guy and popular with his students.) and alcoholic Frenchmen such as John Paul Sartre or the weird Camus who claimed that only homosexual love could be of love of the highest quality.

Of recent philosophers, my favorites are the two cheerful and extraordinary long-lived popularizers, Will Durant and especially Mortimer Adler. Mortimer was a real character; once at Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota, c. 1985, I had the room next to his and was waked up around four in the morning by the machine-gun speed of his manual typewriter. He dropped out of high school at age 16 and became a journalist--don't know where he learned to type so fast. He wrote every day, about three hours a day, six days a week--fantastic man. I used to be able to do about 95 words a minute on a manual typewriter (60 n.w.p.m. subtracting ten words off for each typo), and he was a lot faster at age eighty plus than I ever was.

I've put Leviathan by Hobbes on my list. What would you recommend I read first by Locke?
To best understand any thinker it is most useful, I think, to begin with his or her earliest work and go through it all in the order in which it was published. The greatest thinkers often change their minds the most.

Plato, for example evolved enormously as a thinker, from more or less a note-taker (though it was probably a slave who actually took the notes that Plato edited) of the sayings of Socrates to the middle-aged man of "The Republic" to the conservative wisdom of "The Laws."

BTW, all of philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. Best start with Plato, read it all in good translations (I like the Penguin and Hackett ones best, but there are other good ones. Avoid Jowett translation.) Also read Aristotle's "Ethics" and "Politics" (originally one book, because like his teacher Plato, Aristotle regarded ethics and politics as one ball of wax and would be dumbfounded by the modern separation of these areas of philosophy).

Funny thing, Locke hated Aristotle when he was in school (Locke studied to be a doctor and practiced as a physician and surgeon, especially to his patron--also did some spying and revolutionary work that nearly got himself killed.) but when you see the way Locke reasons, his common sense and empirical approach, you can see that he is very much working in the pragmatic tradition of Aristotle. It was the bad teachers that ruined Aristotle for thousands of students for hundreds of years.

Now if you are not a Christian (or other believer) you are going to have have a problem with Locke. He was a devout Christian and his whole philosophical system depends on a Christian type of God. Hobbes believed that religion was bunk and as a sort of proto-Marxist thought religion was invented by the powerful to protect their privileges.

Insofar as the Founding Fathers of the U.S. were influenced by Locke (and they were, enormously), the principles of our Constitutional government also assume a Christian God. Sorry if that offends you agnostics and atheists, but I believe there is a rather strong consensus of prominent historians on this point. Adam Smith also was a Christian, as is clearly shown in "Theory of Moral Sentiment," which can be seen as an answer to Hume--Hume who was a closet agnostic. (Probably he was not an atheist. Hume was raised a strict Scots Presbyterian, and in the ten weeks he lost his faith he gained sixty pounds--which he never lost. Indeed Hume was the fattest and probably most popular with women of any of the philosophers, a fascinating guy, as was his predecessor in British Empricism, Bishop Berkeley.)

The principles of our Constitutional government also assume a Christian God. Sorry if that offends you agnostics and atheists, but I believe there is a rather strong consensus of prominent historians on this point.

Interesting position.

Officially called the "Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary," most refer to it as simply the Treaty of Tripoli. In Article 11, it states:

    "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Locke, 2nd Treatise on Government, Chapter XIX, paragraph #241: "But farther, this wuestion, (Who shall judge?) cannot mean, that there is no judge at all: for where theire is no judicature on earth, to decide controversies amongst men, God in heaven is judge. He alone, it is true, is judge of the right. But every man is judge for himself, as in all other cases, so in this, whether another hath put himself into a state of war with him, and whether he should appeal to the Supreme Judge, as Jeptha did."

Of course the U.S. was not founded on Christianity. Of course it was not founded on slavery. Of course it was not founded on genocide. Of course it was not founded on denial of rights to women. Of course it was not founded to protect the property of the rich. Everybody knows that. Right?

Actually, it was founded on telling the Brits to fuck off. and leave us alone.
Yeah and that has always been our attitude (me included) when someone is telling us what to do. But why did we tell them to f**k off? Don's points about the issues of genocide, women's rights, slavery, and the wealthy are part of what we did and wanted to protect but still not the basis for our founding IMO. It was about freedom. The freedom to not have to practice the King's religion (and at that time science had not yet brought into such fundamental question all relgious beliefs so), the freedom to take the new land form the savages (they weren't like us), the freedeom of all land-owning males to vote (all others were not equal, the freedom to hold your property from government taking (including the slaves you paid good money for), and the freedom to create entrepreneurial wealth (certainly not the only source of new world wealth but a much better opportunity than in England). Obviously a lot of embarrasing qualifications and exceptions based on definitions of "man" (maybe a better word here but hopefully you get the drift. Interestingly, if you read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights these qualifications and exceptions don't seem so apparent. I find the "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" (lets call it freedom for short) concept pretty central to the founding principles and still valid today. They argue for less government and more self reliance. Of course I still need to read Locke and Hobbes.
But back then, the land was abundant with resources: thickly forested woods, plenty of buffalo, etc.

Now we live in times of over population and resource scarcity. The pursuit of happiness is a tougher chase. Liberty is up to her knees in melted polar water and domestic espionage. The times they are a changing.

So is the solution to look to the government for help or depend on Darwinian survival of the fittest or something else? Is "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" no longer a reasonable, legitimate right?
I'd say Life's getting cheaper, Libery's under assault and the Pursuit's gonna be a lot more competitive.
They were taxing us too much. We had to sell them our agricultural products and buy their industrial imports, which was okay, but they wanted to control the price that we sold them food at so that they could then resell it to the Dutch, etc.
Finally we gave up and told them that we were electing representatives to Parliament, their's or ours, and we weren't interested in pleading for them to be reasonable anymore. Now we were just going to do what we wanted.
Too bad the war didn't last a few years longer. Both sides were liberating each other's slaves. Another few years and it wouldn't have been practical to round them all up.
So as Peak Oil drives us from an economy of plenty to an economy of scarcity we can expect the government to become more tyranical (based on the reading of Hobbes and Locke). Makes sense to me. Unfortunately. Explains our current trajectory in the US. Or is cause and effect reversed? I don't think so. Thanks for teaching me and making me think.
our Founding Fathers who, as a group, were remarkably well-read men.

Part of this is the lens of history.  Much of what we are 'seeing' is what we want to see.

good-natured people made that way by the rule of law.

There is very little hope for America then, what with the maze of laws AND the selective enforcement.

Interesting observation about Hobbes WRT the founding fathers.  Wonder if one could graph positive Hobes comments and the paperwork of present political class?

Price rationing is the best and most efficient means of rationing.  

One can create two currencies, dollars and gasoline/diesel coupons with a floating exchange rate between them in a transistion period.  But once a stable exchange rate is set up (One gallon of gas costs $5 at the pump + a coupon worth $3.35 on the open market), one might as well issue a $100 bill each month instead a ration of 30 gallons.  And tax gasoline an extra $3.33/gallon.

Please note that the two competitive alternative energy sources to arise since 1973 did so without the help of gov't R&D.  Wind came from Denmark and the wind turbines in use today owe almost nothing to the billions spent by Gov't R&D.  Likewise geothermal generation (although gov't owned utilities did the real world problem solving on the first ones).

Ice thawing earlier on Maine lakes

Ice on dozens of lakes in Maine and four other states is melting earlier in the year than in decades past, according to a new analysis.

The study, "On Thin Ice: The Melting of an American Pastime," examined the records of ice cover on more than 50 lakes in Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York and Alaska.

In Maine, the study found that Moosehead Lake, the state's largest body of water, is now thawing eight days earlier than its historic average based on 149 years of records. Damariscotta Lake is clearing 12 days earlier than in the past, and Rangeley Lake is thawing five days earlier.

The analysis mirrors other studies that show that the climate is changing, said Susan Sargent, Maine representative of the National Environmental Trust.

Whatever the cause, this was a lousy year for ice-fishing...

You got that right, about it being a bad year for ice fishing. However, on the bright side, sporting goods departments marked down ice-fishing equipment to practically nothing to clear it out, and I stocked up at about 80% off regular prices.

Another bright spot: Today I saw several species of finches in my feeder: Never before have finches come before the Ides of March, and usually they come later. Also, to my astonishment, about a week ago I saw a bald eagle dive on prey from my window, and I have never before ever seen an eagle anywhere near this early in spring.

Always watch the birds. The canary in the mineshaft is not only a metaphor . . . .

Maybe on your side of the pond, but over here we are still in winter mode. It looks like this will be the coldest March since 1947. I wasn't around born to experience the 1963 winter. The met office are predicting another two weeks of freezing weather in Western Europe.

Perhaps a sign of the Gulf Stream beginning to fail and now affect the weather?

Is anyone else getting "Invalid story" as a response to the Roscoe Bartlett link above? Scanning it quickly, I saw nothing obvious that might indicate a typo. Has the story been pulled?
Yeah. I havent looked into it too deep, though.
I think we're going to have to deal with the question of "discipline" in the not too distant future. Discipline is perhaps a strange word and even stranger concept to use in relation to our consumer, partyworld. We party hard, in the rich world, and for as long as we can. We spin and dance and look devine, and the rest of the world with their dirty noses pressed up against the window, can go hang.

But to get through Peak Oil aren't we going to need a bit of discipline? The question is where is this discipline going to come from? Is it something we'll find inside us? Will we voluntarilly take control of our own individual lives and society and exercise self-dicipline? Or will dicipline be imposed upon us by external factors, harshly, even brutally? Will we in common devolve power and find solutions to our problems, or will a strong, centralised state impose discipline on us for our own good?

The interesting part about Cobb's article is not so much "what if Yergin is wrong", it's "what if peak oil is wrong". He asks, suppose we assume that we do face a severe peak oil situation, and we take all these mitigating steps, and then that turns out to be wrong and peak oil doesn't hit for decades? How bad is it? He makes it sound pretty good - we get efficient mass transport; nonpolluting, renewable energy; locally grown food, "some of it grown in one's own garden"; green technology; and more self-governance as local communities become more self-sufficient. What's not to like in that?

Unfortunately, this is all completely wrong. It is one of the most common economic fallacies, noting what you get and ignoring what you would have gotten instead. A fundamental maxim of economics is "the cost of anything is the foregone alternative," and what that means is that when you get something, you give up something else.

In Cobb's case, the point is that if all those things were so good, we'd have them anyway. If people wanted efficient mass transport, they would be willing to pay for it. But almost every bus and rail line in the country runs at a loss. People are simply not willing to pay what it costs to run a high quality mass transit system. That means that these systems do not make economic sense. They are very expensive to operate, which is why they need subsidies.

We see the mass transit, but we don't see what we could have had if that money had been available to spend on something else. The foregone alternative is hidden, and you need imagination to see it. And I can't say what exactly that alternative would be - probably lots of small things that would make people's lives better or more pleasant in small ways. They gave up all that in order to have their mass transit, but they aren't necessarily aware of it. Still it is a real cost.

Likewise with his other suggestions. Surely readers here are aware of how expensive this non-polluting, "green" energy is! It is one of the most common arguments of the Peak Oil doomster, that renewable energy won't be able to fill in the gaps. We've all heard it. Switching to renewable energy on a large scale will be one of the most expensive projects in history. We will all have to sacrifice to achieve it, and again that means that we are giving up things that could have made our lives better. (Again, recall that we are discussing Cobb's point that these measures would make sense even if peak oil never happens!)

As far as locally grown food and self-sufficient communities, this ignores the fact that trade, the division of labor, and specialization has probably been responsible for more human progress than any other economic measure. At one time, yes, communities were self-sufficient and everyone was a jack of all trades. But such a system is terribly inefficient, because most people just aren't good at most things, and communities are not all equally well suited to produce all goods. Why should I labor with my non-green thumb to try to grow a garden, when I can make a far greater contribution to the world with my intellectual skills and training? Why should some gifted gardener have to fix their own electrical equipment when I could do it for them far more easily?

The division of labor, at first via barter and then later via an economic system, allows each person to specialize in what he is best at. This greatly increases overall average productivity, which means more wealth and more goods for everyone. Going back to a system based on self-sufficiency and growing your own food as Cobb suggests would mean an enormous sacrifice in terms of what we have available in our lives, as well as a great decrease in quality.

Frankly, I feel almost embarrassed to mention these points, as they should be so obvious. It is sad that some have forgotten the very basic fundamentals that have made the Western free market system the economic engine of the world.

Cobb's claim that making these changes would lead to improved lives even if nothing happens with peak oil could not be more wrong. It may be that we will be forced to take these and similar measures in the face of a peak oil threat, but if so it will be because we have no choice. The world Cobb describes will be harsh, poor and uncomfortable compared to what we are all used to. The notion that we should welcome this transformation and seek to bring it about even without peak oil looming is one of the worst ideas I have read on the topic.

I agree with some of this but there's always that strict limit to exponential growth to consider and what we're stealing from our children.

As to Cobb's surmise that all this would be good even if peak oil is wrong, that's just simply nonsense because the presupposition that peak oil may not happen is false and powering down is going to be painful no matter what.

The inevitable transition will be either 1) mildly painful, 2) moderately painful or 3) extremely painful. So it's kind of weird. He says we should make these transitions even is peak oil does not happen--which will cause pain in the range of #1 to #3 above but on the other hand, since peak oil is almost certainly correct, we will suffer pain in the range #1 to #3 anyway.

When you say

The notion that we should welcome this transformation and seek to bring it about even without peak oil looming is one of the worst ideas I have read on the topic
I could not agree more. If I believed that mankind could go on like this indefinitely, I wouldn't want to make any changes either. I like it when I flip the switch and the light goes on. I like it when I can put gas in my old car and it runs. I like it when the internet is available to me every day and the power grid is still on. I like it when I can heat my house when it gets really cold outside. The pain and suffering, however, are inevitable in my view so it goes back, as usual, to the "Hirsch Gap" and the mitigating steps we need to take to muddle through this crisis somehow.

But reality can't be ignored here. Cobb may be confused here but as far as powering down goes, that's gonna happen. But I certainly won't pretend that it's going to be better world after the fact. But, as I posted above in this thread, I think Cobb's argument is weak anyway since he does not see fit to consider the data that leads us at TOD to conclude that peak oil is either here or very close out in the future. But Cobb is speaking from church, as I said earlier on this thread. Confusion reigns.

There are new ideas. And there are good ideas. There are few new good ideas. No magic wand exists.

We are sailing into a hurricane.

Batten down the hatches.

it may be all here.

1st Law--Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy in the universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another.

2nd Law--In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state. This is also known as the law of entropy.

3rd Law--It is impossible to cool a body to absolute zero by any finite process. This is actually more of a postulate than a law. In any case, it has little application to our discussion and is presented here merely for thoroughness.

nothing more.

history channel reported several days ago that in the past a coal miner could mine about 2.4 tons of coal per day.  

history channel reported that now a coal miner can produce over 50 tons per day.

is this bad or good?

What is the alternative to an efficient Urban Rail mass transit system ?

See Detroit (aka Motor City & Capital of the Auto Industry).  A decayed, stinking inner "city" dead zone surrounded by suburbs & exurbs in less than robust health.  Bad traffic, very few walkable neighborhoods, not attractive at all to new industry.

The same would have happened to most of the District of Columbia were it not for WMATA subway system (which could run at a profit via higher fares, but the social negatives of that are so great that it is better socially to operate at lower fares with a subsidy).

The alternatives to subsidizing mass transit is NOT as you suppose "something nice", but social & economic isolation for all those who cannot afford to drive or cannot drive, the transformation of cities to serve the auto above all else (with sprawl, high per capita gasoline use), massive amounts of time spent commuting, high death & disability rates, pollution, and other the other things "Detroit" sells.

I am currently in Phoenix and what a dysfunctional city.  I cannot wait to return to my Disaster Zone !  A broken New Orleans is a far better place for humans to live than Phoenix.  But cars MUCH prefer this sprawling suburban "city".

Halfin, your argument implies that the foregone alternative is "better" in some manner. But is the foregone alternative better for a crack addict who gets taken off the streets and can no longer buy crack?

Your entire thesis rests on the assumption that what we are doing as a civilization is ecologically and even morally right. But the market is incapable of deciding whether something is ecologically right, let alone morally right. The market (globally) still supports slavery, drug trade, extortion, and even murder. The market was incapable of caring about the ecology in the US until the laws were passed that forced the market to do so.

So your paean to the market doesn't impress me. The market is nothing more than the short term wants (not needs) of whomever can afford to play in the marketplace at a given time. Humans have demonstrated a penchant for failing to plan forward and the market is the ultimate expression of this inability to plan forward for anything except self-gratification of whomever is participating. This is demonstrated in the horrors inflicted on the Nigerian environment by the IOCs. You can argue what you want about the Nigerian government but those companies did not have to act that way, yet they did. They absolutely did, in order to make their short term bottom line as big as possible.

So I reject your argument that the foregone alternative is better and thus represents a loss of some sort. I reject your notion that the market is the ultimate wise arbiter of human activity. I reject your claims that just because a madman places a bet (in the market) that his opinion instantly becomes more credible than someone else who has not placed such a bet.

Further, your assumptions always rest on the notion that the market makes the best decisions. This itself assumes that the market always has the best and most accurate information available to it, and in the case of oil specifically we've already seen that the quality of data, especially provided by OPEC countries, is horrible. We've even got cases where it's deliberately massaged, and once that is revealed the market even failed to react to these lies. This suggests that the market doesn't even give a damn about information but again, only about short term gratification. And focusing on short term gratification is going to have tremendous consequences. We know that the market is manipulated because organizations like OPEC exist precisely for that purpose. And we know that OPEC has been able to have impacts in the past thus the fear of OPEC's strength factors into the short term gratification calculations of every player in the market currently.

The market has its uses but every time an unbridled market has been allowed to do what it wants, we've had serious ecological impacts. And the short term gratification effect persists, as jobs and factories move from nations that have implemented laws to protect environment to nations where such laws do not exist or are weakly enforced. This is the behavior that you hold up as good???? This is the behavior that you claim knows better than anyone else what our future course should be as we facec disastrous consequences for runaway growth?

Excuse me while I go laugh.

I reject your claims that just because a madman places a bet (in the market) that his opinion instantly becomes more credible than someone else who has not placed such a bet.

Could you just remind the rest of us where Halfin claimed that  a madman who places a bet instantly becomes more credible than someone else who has not placed a bet? I can't seem to find it.

In Turning Down the AC, Halfin specifically said (and I am quoting):

I know that people have complained about my posting betting market results, but frankly I don't think you can find a better or more objective estimate of the odds of future events than those markets. In the case of an attack on Iran, has run a market on that topic for many months. You can not only see current odds, you can see how they have varied over time to get an idea of whether the situation is getting better or worse.

It's easy to say stuff like "face it, it's gonna happen," or "no way, they wouldn't dare," but that's just talk. People in these markets are backing up their opinions with real money. That automatically gives them more credibility. And the market averages everyone's opinion to come up with an overall consensus, which is another thing that's hard to get just by reading different people's opinions.

Specifically, he claims:

  1. that the market is the most objective barometer of future events
  2. that anything else is "just talk"
  3. that anyone backing their opinion with money is more credible than anyone who is not.

We know that the market has its share of fools, crazies, racists, or anything else, but Halfin simply ignores that and instead focuses on whether they've put money into the market or not. I used hyperbole to make a point - Halfin fails to take into account exactly such nonsense and instead counts such nonsense as a blessing. In fact, Halfin's prescription for believing in the god-like market is an invitation to manipulate the market, which has actually occurred in the past.

Finally, you fail to address my other points to Halfin about the failure of the market to account for ecological damage, the failure of the market to account for morality, and the tendency of the market to actually simply be a barometer of gratification, rather than anything else. Instead you attempt to focus on that one statement of hyperbole in an effort to discredit me without addressing my other points. But the market has no corner of correctness, no magical crystal ball, and has been frequently wrong in the past. The market has not stopped ecological devastation and participants in the market actively seek to avoid any attempts to force the market to consider ecological costs. Why the market continues to be elevated to some deity-like position as far as seeing the future escapes me especially when the future consequences are all ecologically related.

I agree with Haflin that teh market is the best (but not perfect) predictor of future events, in most cases by an order of magnitude better.

One reason is that those that predict better "win" and get to place larger bets next time.  Those that guess wrong, get smaller bets next time.

Those that are out of touch with reality quickly stop betting due to their losses.

One can make predictions with nothing to gain or lose but a little ego. The market requires that one place real bets (not so good when one is betting other peoples money, better when betting your own.  Although those that lose "other people's money soon have no monies to bet with).

Clearly, betting real money will create more highly motivated research than those driven merely by ego.  (One would have lost tons of $$ listening to Kunstler, driven only my ego.  He may have the direction right, but his timing is TERRIBLE !)

Warren Buffett has been right far more than wrong for a half century.  He gets a BIG pile to bet with AND people pay attention to his decisions.

As I understand it, the oil market usually prices futures at about the current spot price.  I don't call that a prediction.

I call that a punt.

Actually, it historically hasn't.It usually priced futures out say 5 years at 20-30 dollars, or the long-term average, no matter what the current crisis-driven price. The recent trend at 60-65 has been built up the last three years.

If you are talking about spot vs. near-month, those two prices  are actually pegged. WTI/spot is basically pegged on the Nymex Futures.

So 5 years ago 2008 futures were priced 20-30?  And now they are priced 60-65?

In order for both prices to be "right" (and for the market to hold true intelligence), we have to take the tautology as our exit: Both prices were "perfect" and conditions just changed.

The problem with such tautological logic is that it can a) it can never be disproved, and b) it isn't really very helpful.

No, first of all I'm just going on vague memory of a graph I saw recently. I'll give you more detail when I look it up.

But 5 years ago would have been 2001. So in 2001, 2006 Futures would have been $20-30. Today(2006), 2011 futures are about $60. You can check for by the month out to 2012, I believe. The $20-30 price, however was the case back into at least the 1990's.

The prices are right. If you want to make a contract for oil delivery in 2012, it will cost you $60 a barrel. Whether the party you contract with can meet that obligation is another story, but that is the case with  anything. But that is a real price, not some abstract. Whether it is a future, a forward, or some other financial derivative, it is real.

Any "intelligence" that the market brings is as much due to how the players involved use the tools they have as it is to the information the market provides.

If you contract for oil now for 2012 at $60, you may or may not be overpaying. You won't know until 2012. But the "future" is the tool you have to hedge.

Enron was in the Weather Futures business at the end. I have a Financial textbook which includes a chapter prefaced with Enron's pioneering in this field.

I chose 2008 because it was an option available back when the prevailing future prices were 20-30, and also available today when future prices are 60-65.

I believe Halfin is telling us that we should "believe the market" each time, at 20-30, and at 60-65.

This is different from the obvious use of futures by oil consumers for hedging, time averaging, etc.

OK, I gotcha. Let me think about that.
I'll take that as a retraction on your part. Nothing in anything you said or Halfin's quote remotely backs up the initial claim you made that Halfin said a madman placing a bet  was credible. For the record, I know where your claim came from. It came from your own response to Halfin's original post. You made it up, now you are attributing it to him. Nice work. Or as you like to call it - "hyperbole."

I don't have to address any of your other points to Halfin. Why? Because, I have in fact discredited you by focusing on that one statement.

Maybe I would feel more like addressing your points if I knew that what you were arguing against wasn't created by you in the first place.

There are a lot of points not being connected here.  Halfin thinks the market is right in general, therefore it is right in every specific.  You think the post above is wrong in a specific, and therefore wrong in the general.


It's not a retraction and I quoted Halfin specifally and discussed what his statement says. I clearly said that I made a statement of hyperbole and that I did so for a reason, to highlight the absurdity of Halfin's position.

You still ignore the ecological costs that the market has attempted to ignore and never ever considered until they were rammed down the throat of players in the market by government implementing laws. You still ignore the inability of the market to make any type of moral choice.

I'll take that from you as a concession that I am correct. Thank you very much for agreeing with me. Have a nice day!

Good one. Show me again where he said "madman." Just do that and you can go back to manufacturing quotes, I'll leave you alone.
So are you agreeing with Halfin that anyone who places a bet in the market automatically becomes "more" credible just because they placed the bet?

Please confirm that this is the position that you are supporting, which is what Halfin has claimed as I showed by quoting him directly. And if you disagree, then how do you separate the valid (and now "more" credible) opinions in the market from those that are not valid and not deserving of credibility? (Of course, if you disagree, you already disagree with Halfin's position.) Please explain. This should be really interesting.

Finally you are the one manufacturing fantasy here. I never claimed he stated what I said. I never put his comment in quotes or said that he literally said that. I extrapolated from his position and made an exaggerated statement to make a point, as I said previously. So quit saying that I claimed Halfin said that. I made no such claim, ever, anywhere. YOU DID. I simply used Halfin's logic to construct that statement as an illustration of the absurdity of his position.

I needed you to make what you said in that last sentence absolutely clear. I don't know what took you so long. In regards to your first question - the answer is both yes and no. My answer in principle is that I generally agree with Halfin, although a proper answer deserves some length and detail. You are not off-base with your concerns, It's just that you have added much to the discussion so I need too back over the argument and sort out what is what. I will submit a response by tomorrow.
I have been trying to come up with a response to your challenge for a number of days now. I am frustrated to say the least. I have completely reviewed both threads in the record several times and have nothing good to say for your position.

  1. You do in fact misquote, misrepresent, and make claims on  Halfin's behalf several times and then compound the problem by denying that you in fact did these things making it look to the casual observer that either Halfin or myself was responsible. I can lay out the proof but it would only make this post even longer. I will, however, upon request.

  2. You have a habit of assuming someone is ignoring something if they don't mention it. Maybe they just don't care, or it is irrelevant to their point. Because you think something is important doesn't mean it is or that someone else is ignoring it because they fail to treat it with the same importance you do.

  3. You have a problem with Halfin's view on markets and you take every opportunity to dig at him on this issue. As you can see Halfin hasn't responded to you recently on this subject.

  4. You have a problem using words like "specifically" and "literally." In the future, I would suggest that when you quote someone, let their words do the talking. Don't proceed to paraphrase everything you just quoted and then treat your version as the quote. There are numerous problems with this approach.

  5. I agree with Halfin's argument that a "market" of opinion is a better gauge of "what is going on" than simply going into the street and asking the nearest person his/her opinion on a matter - which is all Halfin was trying to say. I think that had he known certain people were going to twist his words to suit their own purposes he would have been more careful.

  6. Morality and ecology have nothing to do with this argument. You brought them into it. If Halfin wants to respond, that's fine. Otherwise I will stay clear of these topics other than to say the following: When I check the Nasdaq to see how Microsoft stock is doing, I never consider whether the Nasdaq is a moral arbiter, only whether it is an accurate one.

  7. It should be made clear that Halfin was talking about a market, not a "bookie" or some type of gambling operation. Although, he did use the terms "bet" and "odds," and his detractors incorrectly seized on these words. If one had spent the time to follow his link to the website provided, one would have seen that certain "shares" or "futures" are traded related to an American airstrike on Iran taking place before certain dates. Halfin's point was that tracking this data(the history of these shares) will give you a better understanding of "the situation" than asking a co-worker his opinion at lunch. Why? Because your co-worker may or may not know anything about the situation and may or may not care. Whereas a "player" in this "market" has invested their own money and therefore has invested more time and energy thinking about and researching the situation - whether it is Iran or something else. Yes, this does rely on the further assumption that when people invest money they want to increase its value, not lose it.

  8. Your scenario of a madman, a neo-nazi, or a mentally retarded person running down to their bookie and placing a bet is simply ludicrous. Any market filters valid(credible) and non-valid(non-credible) opinions the same way. It treats them all the same - as valid. The market price is the consensus. The market is interested in accuracy predicting the future. It doesn't always succeed, but it does a better job most of the time than asking the guy on the street - the "just talk" approach.
My goal, for my own health, is to up my daily energy expenditure from the 555 calories that are typical for industrialized adults, to the 1240 calories that are thought to be typical for stone age people.  One benefit of that is that I get to increase my caloric consumption from the industrial 2030 to the stone age 2900. (I'm treating this study as a rough guess, of course.)

Look at that, everybody is worried about dieting, and I get to chow down.

As part of this campaign I did my Sunday morning walk ... 5 or 6 miles out and around the neighborhood, stopping at a burger joint (gotta get those 2900 calories), for a coffee (should cut down on the caffiene), and at the market (carrying home a few pounds of food is also "natural").

Now, you paint it that all those doughy people zooming past me in the proverbial SUVs "want" to do that, so that makes them "happier."

Are you sure they have it right?

Six miles should be a brisk 100 minute walk. Let me recommend another 100 minutes or so of fast dancing every night. Even vertical dancing is good;-)

Oh, BTW, I maintain a stable weight at about 4,000 calories a day, but the problem is that if I'm around irresitible food I yield to temptation and in my youthful follies would sometimes eat 10,000+ calories per day. I've never been very fat, just plump and in good shape. IMO fighting temptation is fighting Mother Nature, and so I try to avoid temptation . . . but am not good at that. I am convinced that if you fight Mother Nature you will lose.

I don't actually count the calories.  I just go by my sense of well-being after the walk and the post-walk burrito (tri-tip, black beans, and avocado).  When I do try to figure out the fuel needed for a bike ride, it actually seems kind of hard to collect enough calories.

Back on topic, industrial society gives us lots of choices, but I think it is important to remember that our genetic tendency toward laziness was balanced in the Pleistocene with a good amount of necessary labor.

When we talk (as Halfin does) about the outcome of modern market economies, it might be that our tendency toward laziness is reinforced a little too much by the oil supplies that move us around every day.

The car is great for when you've got to go 20 miles in a hurry, but it could be a mistake when you only have to go a shorter distance, or more slowly.

What people want and what they think they want are usually two universes separated by thousands of light years of self-knowledge.

But of course it is totally wrong for somebody else to tell what the others want... we've seen that movie too. IMHO if you inform people about the ongoing or future problems and give them enough support and incetitives to solve them, they will. If you play your own selfish games, or if you want to play God you'll lose in the end.

I think "telling," or "encoruaging," might be ok.  That goes on all around us, all the time.

The interesting question is when to foreclose options, to enforce a narrowing of choices.  We don't, as an easy example, rely on the market to regulate the speed of traffic.  We (in amazing agreement across the world's cultures) agree that a "speed limit" is a useful infringement on personal freedom.

Now, I think where Halfin is headed is that we should not infringe for the pruposes of energy efficiency or environment.  Obviously the world's societies disagree, as they inact their their measured steps in that direction.

The movie OilCrash! Premiered today in Austin, TX.  (Note: The link to the article about Roscoe Bartlett in the film referenced by Prof Goose seems to be invalid.)  I personally attended the Premier.  It was excellent!  The film is absolutely on target with the current state of oil depletion and the implications this presents.

The Producers were stunned at an audience of nearly 400 of which more than one third stayed after to participate in a Q&A session with them, David Room of Post Carbon Institue, Matt Savinar, and a representative of CrudeAwakening, an Austin-based oil awareness group.  This was a far larger audience than had been anticipated.

The film will screen twice more this coming week in Austin.  Look for the reviews.

Thanks for the report.  Sounds promising!
here's a link to the times it will be showing next:

Over the past 6 months or so the middle to end of March has been spoken of in "the media" as the opening date for the Iranian Oil Exchange. Does anyone hear have any hard info. as to what steps, if any Iran is actually taking to open such an exchange, and if so when?
I've seen an official US Dept of Defense story dated March 1, that Iran says it will open the oil bourse March 20 as scheduled.  This story also says so, and mostly reflects what I'm thinking about the recent confrontation:

On March 20 the Iran Bourse will formally open and allow countries to break to US monopoly on oil purchases in petrodollars. The central banks across Europe and Asia will trade in part of their stockpiles of greenbacks for euros, and dollars will come flooding back to the homeland. $3 trillion of American cash and securities are owned by people or institutions outside of the United States. If just a small portion of them pour back into the US, Depression will follow.

I can't wait for this to happen. At last we will see an end of stories predicting disaster when the bourse opens. Instead we will see stories arguing over whether disaster is happening.
BTW -  I don't think the opening of the bourse itself will really make more than a ripple in the world's financial markets on its first date.  It's more like a marker that things have changed and are turning against the worldwide US dollar trade regime.

I don't think anyone in the top of the US government thinks that $1 trillion yearly current account deficits can be sustained forever.  However, hand in hand with Peak Oil, the neagtive effects can be postponed and/or minimized by mainatining the US military/dollar empire as long as possible.

I think it may just let the USA go its hyperinflation route solo for the most part. I hope, I hope...

About the bourse, I submit this article from another blog. Do note, and I have seen this elsewhere, and it is prudent advice, Iranian money is leaving Iran with this current crisis now coming to a head. If we see that things will play out in 2-3 weeks time, it may come in right at the time of the Israeli election!

One item that strikes me is that in my research, and it is typical in military and political thinking, there is not a uniform thread of thought. Like our thread here at TOD, it has several different points of view, though with a dominate one that surfaces (most of the time). The Iranian military over the last few months has proponents who want to strike the USA military assets before we/Israel does, to those who want to stand down from this confrontation. If the nuclear powered aircraft carrier RONALD REAGAN (currently in the Persian Gulf) was attacked, and god forbid, hit by a Silkworm missile fired by Iran just before we launched an air assault on her nuke sites, how would America react?

Is Iran in the "most" seismic active region of the world? It is one of the most, but I do not think it is the most active.

Below is the article:

Iran Sleepwalking Into War?

Amir Taheri, Arab News:
With attention focused on the international row over the Islamic republic's alleged attempt at building an atomic bomb, the average observer might not notice the domestic side of the debate.

The new radical administration in Tehran, led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is doing all it can to make this an "us vs. them" issue, whipping up xenophobic sentiments and diverting attention from the country's real problems.

Nevertheless, Iran may be heading for its deepest crisis since the 1970s.

This crisis, related to the nuclear issue, has two aspects.

The first, and probably the most significant, is a moral one. There is a growing awareness that the regime may have played the game of "kitman" (dissimulation) on the nuclear issue. "Have we been given the full picture?" demanded the Tehran daily newspaper Sharq.

Suspicions that the regime might have lied not only to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but also to the Islamic Majlis (Parliament) have received a boost with the circulation in Tehran and some provincial capitals of a document entitled "The final report" in samizdat form.

The document claims to be a summary of a talk given on Feb. 12 by Hassan Rouhani to the High Council for Islamic Cultural Revolution (HCICR), a body set up in 1979 to purge the country's universities of "un-Islamic" ideas.

It is not clear why Rouhani, a junior mulla who headed Iran's nuclear negotiations with the European Union trio for three years, should have spoken to the HCICR. His friends suggest that he wanted to counter Ahmadinjead's charge that Rouhani and his then boss President Muhammad Khatami had "sold out" to the Europeans.

"From the first day to the last, the Europeans danced to our tune," Rouhani is quoted in the document. "They were desperate to trust, and we encouraged them....Not for one moment did we slow down (work on the nuclear project) to satisfy the Europeans."

But the most damning revelation by Rouhani is that even the Council of Ministers, then chaired by Khatami, and the Majlis were never told the whole truth about Iran's nuclear program.

Whether or not the Rouhani document is genuine is hard to tell. In any case he has not denied its content. And several members of the Majlis have taken it seriously enough to demand a full briefing on the subject.

"There is a feeling that the nation is being led toward war on an issue about which only a handful of men were informed," says Ahmad Shirzad, a former member of the Majlis. "If we are being taken to the edge of the precipice we should at least be told the truth."

The feeling that a handful of "tasmimgran" (decision makers) may have deceived not only the gullible Europeans but also the Iranian people has been strengthened by two other events.

The first is the decision by President Ahmadinejad to suppress a report by the Tehran University's seismographic center calling for "broader studies" in the choice of locations for projected nuclear power stations. The report warns that Iran, located on the world's most active earthquake zone, may not be the best place for building nuclear stations which, with existing technology, might not resist tremors of over 7 on the Richter scale.

The report, parts of which have been leaked, caused concern in the Gulf province of Bushehr, where Iran's first nuclear station is located, and in Khuzestan where a second one is to be built by 2010.

The Tehran University report has been seized upon by those who argue that Iran, the owner of the world's second largest gas reserves, and with enough oil to cover its needs for at least 250 years, might have no need of costly and potentially dangerous nuclear energy.

The second event is the release of another report, almost certainly leaked by the entourage of former President Khatami, that shows Iran's uranium reserves will cover the needs of the Bushehr power station for fuel for no more than seven years.

But the same reserves, when processed and enriched, could help the Islamic republic build some 200 atomic bombs.

The report's message is clear: Iran cannot have a nuclear power industry without secure supplies of imported uranium. Thus the current enrichment program, using locally mined uranium, could be aimed at only one thing: Producing enough ingredients for bombs.

The second aspect of the crisis provoked by the nuclear issue inside Iran is political. Ahmadinejad has just presented his first annual national budget to the Islamic Majlis. By any standards, this looks very much like a war budget, increasing expenditure on security and defense by a whopping 17 percent.

It would be unfair to blame Ahmadinejad for a budget that reflects policies shaped at least a year before he was elected. The assumption behind those policies is that Iran may soon find itself involved in a military clash with the United States in Iraq and the Gulf. Many of the so-called "defense preparation" projects under way were launched in 2004 before Ahmadinejad took over, to be completed under his watch.

According to Ibrahim Yazdi, foreign minister under the late Ayatollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad may be "sleepwalking toward war."

The new budget envisages effective cuts in government expenditure on social welfare, education, and health -- contrary to promised by Ahmadinejad made in his election campaign last summer. Needless to say the cuts will hit the poorest sections of society -- precisely those that voted for Ahmadinejad.

To make matters worse, talk of United Nations sanctions, and possibly even war, has led to the biggest outflow of capital that the Islamic republic has experienced since 1979. Many businessmen are preparing for a "free fall" of the Iranian currency, the rial, if and when international sanctions are imposed. The "war talk" has led to an economic slowdown that has already destroyed tens of thousands of jobs in the private sector and brought many commercial transactions to a halt.

All this may be translated into a political backlash that Ahmadinejad, despite his talent for appealing to emotions might not be able to counter, especially at a time that his enemies in the regime are sharpening their knives in the dark.

Notwithstanding Ahmadinejad's braggadocio, Iran is entering this new phase of its confrontation with the outside world over the nuclear issue from a position of weakness.

The Europeans no longer seem keen to be deceived.

The Americans may have begun understanding a fact that they had shunned for a quarter of a century: The trouble with Iran is not its behavior but the nature of its regime.

In the previous rounds, the Islamic republic could rely on some understanding, if not actual support, from its Gulf neighbors plus Russia and China. But they, too, are unlikely to be pleased by the increasing revelation that the Islamic republic has been lying to them, and to everyone else, all the time.

Last but not least, the domestic popular support that was undoubtedly there over the nuclear issue until recently, is fast evaporating. The reason is that the Iranian people feel that they have not been told the truth -- at least not the whole truth.

If just a small portion of them pour back into the US, Depression will follow.

I'd say asset price inflation.   The money would arrive to buy whatever has value and then ship it out of the country.

Meanwhile, the oil from other places would become more expensive.

Quite the squeeze play for Americans.

(I wonder how Bush could distract us from the evolving disaster in Iraq?)

John Burns, Back from Baghdad: U.S. Effort In Iraq Will Likely Fail

By E&P Staff

Published: March 10, 2006 12:15 AM ET

NEW YORK A day after returning to the U.S., after another long term as bureau chief in Baghdad, John F. Burns of The New York Times said on Bill Maher's live Friday night HBO program that he now feels, for the first time, that the American effort in Iraq will likely "fail."

Asked if a civil war was developing there, Burns said, "It's always been a civil war," adding that it's just a matter of extent. He said the current U.S. leaders there--military and diplomatic--were doing their best but sectarian differences would "probably" doom the enterprise.

Burns said that he and others underestimated this problem, feeling for a long time that toppling Saddam Hussein would almost inevitably lead to something much better. He called the Abu Ghraib abuse the worst of many mistakes the U.S. made but said that even without so many mistakes the sectarian conflict would have gotten out of hand.

He also pointed to a key period coming up, as the top American generals decide over the next two weeks whether to go ahead with the planned "draw down" of U.S. troops starting this spring which, as it turns out, coincides with deteriorating conditions on the ground. The problem is, he said, U.S. withdrawals could lead to chaos there, with the Iraqi military not ready to take over; but not bringing troops home would prove to be a political disaster for the White House here.

Speaking from Cambridge, Mass., Burns observed that he had been on the ground for 24 hours and, of all the people he had interacted with so far, "no one supports this war."

His most recent article from Baghdad appeared in The Times on March 5. He said he was heading to California next.

Burns, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was one of the few Americans journalists who stayed in Baghdad during the U.S. attack on Iraq in March 2003, and has spent most of his time there since.

Dave is going to love this. . . .

If you go to Google News and search under "declining Russian oil production" the first article that pops up is the story that Khebab and I did that was published on the Energy Bulletin.

Henceforth, I can just cite myself as a source regarding arguments over Russian oil production :)

You win

I'm glad Google indexes the Energy Bulletin. TOD posts show up there all the time. By the way, I read that article you guys wrote. I liked it a lot.

What I want to know is when we will be able to get hold of the DVD!

Why should I care? I am going to die some day and since we are all datanomics fans, we know we don´t have a soul.  In fact this whole darn experience of life seems so utterly futile anti logical that I really do wonder why any of us give a damn about the fate of the earth, the future of society, relationships, habits, lifestyles, housing fads, stock market crashes.  I mean it seems to me that most of us have the greatest contempt for the utter folly of humanity, especially todays crop of homo saps, so why not just let it run its inevitalble course and pay attention to the world baseball classic, or to celebrity poker, drink budweiser, and sleep our way to the grave?

Only you can find your personal answer to this but for many it would be: Beacause more than just a little of "the world baseball classic, or to celebrity poker, drink budweiser, and sleep our way to the grave?" is boring for most people who choose to do otherwise.
I assume that you are writing ironically. In any case, Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. A corallary is that the examined life IS worth living. Also, Socrates had excellent arguments as to why fearing death was foolish, the question of what (if anything) comes after death irrelevant, and that by far the most important questions were those of ethics.
Mr. Don Sailorman,

Yes, I was being slightly ironic, but I also hoped to raise an important issue, the anti-thetical arguments proposed by many members of the OilDrum Community.

It bothers me that there is an underlying thought process within this community which depicts most of humanity as genetic robots, acting out the algorthims of genes that want to survive.(why they want to survive is never ever mentioned)  The argument goes that we are ignorant of the consequences of materialism, elect corrupt leaders whose vested interest is in themselves rather then the overall good.  We are very selfish, and decieve both ourselves and the others around us, pretending to care, be moral, not eat meat, love the trees, gaia.  It´s all an elaborate trick, to procreate procreate procreate.

Yet for me, humanity represents a clean break from the Darwinian order; to sentence our species to death on animalistic behavioral grounds is short sighted and at odds with empirical, social reality.

Many of us are self hating modernists, rational to the core, and peak oil promises to remedy this situation and the medicine will be bitter!!(global melt down, sharing a car with your teenager, and everything in between armageddon and breaking down the barriers of a lonely society)

So why the posts?  What motivates us to care so deeply about this subject? If we truly believe in the Darwinian way then we are doomed.  If we think humans represent a break from Darwinian evolution, then what can we do to survive.  Do we hope to affect the outcome, direct the masses.  Is this forum a vent for a deep seated anxiety about the future.  Are we empowered. I really am curious to know our communities motivations, for spending hours gathering data,  and caring about the subject of peak oil.  

I care about all this stuff because, despite the fact that this thing called me will almost certainly not be here in 5 years, somebody (lots of body's) essentially identical to me will be, so I am working for that person(s) (me).  I (him, her, it)  would like to be living in a better, not a worse world.  That's why I am feeling depressed as all get out right at the moment, what with the news about the melting arctic, the jolly rape of the oil sands, and all the rest of the insanity we all know about so well.   Since it looks like a certainty that the world will be a worse place, not a better one, for as far as I can see.  Hell of a time to die.  Good luck.
Cheer up! It does not matter how long you live; it matters how you live. That was the emphatic message of the ancient Greek philosophers--and I think they were right.

They believed without irony that those whom are most loved by the gods die young. Achilles is an example; despite some character flaws (jealousy over Agamemnon claiming dibs on a slave girl rightfully his and then pouting in his tent while his good friend and lover Patroclos puts on the famous hero's armor and then gets himself killed--which then forces Achilles to gain vengeance by killing in turn Hector, the finest of all the heroes . . .) but take a look at philosophers such as Democritos--who was criticized for laughing too much. (Allegedly he lived to be 100 years old, and when his granddaughter was sitting by him as he was about to die, he asked her why she was not going to the festival. She said the family members were all prepared to go into mourning for his imminent death and nobody was going to the party. Democritus said words to the effect: "This will not do! By all means, go to the festival . . . So bake fresh bread by my bed for the three days of the festival, and the aroma will keep alive until the party is over." She did, he did, and the family got to party before the funeral.)

Epictetus had his legs broken by torture when he was a slave. He was cheerful throughout his life, though lame and in pain. When he was rather old (for those days), maybe around sixty, one of his students said to him: Hey, Epictetus, you keep telling us to do our duty, but you have never married and had children. Isn't that being hypocritical? So what does the old and lame man do? He goes to the north side of one of the mountains on which the Greeks exposed newborns to achieve infanticide, adopted an infant and hired a wet nurse for her. (It is assumed that the child was a girl, but nobody knows.) He believed in living up to his ideals, even when it went against his inclinations. Nobody knows how long he lived, though there is a story that in extreme old age the young Marcus Aurelius came to visit him and indeed was inspired by him. I find this story probably too good to be true, but you never know.

Marcus Aurelius was a gloomy man, but that may have been mostly because he had to spend most of his adult life fighting Germans instead of talking with philosophers. Fighting Germans in the swamps of the Danube for most of your life is not a recipe for happiness; also his wife Faustina cheated on him with a gladiator. Both Marcus and Epictetus realized it did not matter much whether one was a slave or an emperor or lame or healthy: God (or Logos, not a Christian god) casts the play, but you get to say your own lines and act your role to the best of your ability.

...given the magnitude of our self-imposed problems one could assume that intelligent life is self-limiting.
Yes, 'oil,' I do believe that you've touched on something here, and in a most articulate way, I might add.

There is a certain element that inhabits TOD that believes Man is finally getting his due, and they seem to be  happy that such is in the works. It's really a form of self-hatred. Well, we  are NOT all  that stupid, and there are elements among us who want to and WILL make it work. We may succeed or fail, but we are not going to go quietly into the night!

And as far as Socrates is concerned, in my opinion those who are always citing HIm (and you know who you are) seem to be stuck in some sort of academic philosophy class. I think it's rather pathetic to have to go back to ancient Greece to find someone  who  knows what the f*@%k  they're talking about. I guess we are supposed to believe that there have been no smart people since the time of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle?

Speaking of Aristotle, he  is one of the reasons why it took so long for true science to flourish in Europe. For many centuries, pedagogues would mindlessly teach Aristotle's crackpot ideas about astronomy and the physics of moving bodies to eager classes of elite student, who would in turn do the same to the next generation of students.  It is absolutely astounding to me that it took about 2,000 yeras for someone (such as Gallileo) to actually DO an experiment designed to prove or disprove the teachings of Aristotle on the subject of moving bodies.  Now, to be fair, it wasn't Aristotle's fault, Lord knows the man was one of the major pillars of Western though; but it's the pedagogues that ruined it all, by preventing informed inquiry.  It seemed that no one wanted to get his hands dirty by doing a simple actual experiment.  

So, the lesson is: don't believe what you hear - check it out for yourself.

The 'Ancient Ones' don't know jack, or at least don't know jack any more than you probably do.

This little rant is intended to get as many people pissed off as possible.

I am using this forum for my own ends.  I have concepts that can "make a difference", i.e. a partial solution.  I am using this forum to have these ideas critiqued and propagated.

I am looking for ways of making things better, perhaps only slightly, perhaps (long odds) significantly.  A little intellectual pleasure along the way is nice as well, but is not my driving force.

I chose to strive and struggle, work and think, argue, debate and persuade.

I do not think that the future is immutable, I believe that change can be made "within limits".  So I chose to work and think towards that change, whatever the limits are.

Right on, Alan!  And by the way, thanks for your post a while back about  good things to do to save energy in bldgs.  I took that to some people who run a university, so maybe you have done some good at a distance, too.  Every little bit of reality helps.
Every site is different.  Few solutions fit all.  I would be glad to help gratis with a phone call (US), etc. or eMails.

We are here because our ancestors were able to survive and reproduce.  Who will be here a hundred years from now, and who will be their ancestors from 2005 may be an interesting speculation.  Survival of the fittest?