CNN: Reporting on the Growing Peak Oil Meme

The program (updated link) CNN Presents: We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis will air this Saturday at 8pm and 11pm EDT and again Sunday at 8pm and 11pm EDT.  The program will also air on CNN International on Saturday and Sunday as well (the times vary by locale, please check this site for the airing time in your country).

A brief comment if I may: [climbs on soapbox]The meme is developing, it is slowly and secularly becoming a part of the American consciousness, you can almost feel it. This is the time to share these ideas with the people you care about and help them learn something about these problems. Use these opportunities.[/climbs off soapbox]

Linked under the fold is something Leanan found on the Education portion of CNN, including a brief summary and a grade school classroom lesson about the production.

Here is the link to the complete classroom lesson for We Were Warned.  You can TiVo or VCR the CNN Presents Classroom Edition: We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis when it airs commercial-free on Monday, March 20, 2006, from 4:00 - 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN.

Summary of the entire program below.

It is September 2009. A Category 5 hurricane roars through Houston, destroying oil refineries, drilling platforms and pipelines--the complex system that provides a quarter of our nation's daily fuel supply. Three days later, terrorists attack two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest supplier. In the days and weeks that follow, gasoline prices hit record highs, food prices soar as trucks cannot afford to make deliveries, and Americans begin to realize that their very way of life is in peril.

It is September 2009. A Category 5 hurricane roars through Houston, destroying oil refineries, drilling platforms and pipelines--the complex system that provides a quarter of our nation's daily fuel supply. Three days later, terrorists attack two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest supplier. In the days and weeks that follow, gasoline prices hit record highs, food prices soar as trucks cannot afford to make deliveries, and Americans begin to realize that their very way of life is in peril.

In We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis, CNN's Frank Sesno explores the potential ripple effects of this frightening scenario. The events depicted are hypothetical, but oil experts believe the scenario is entirely plausible. His interviews with energy experts reveal that we are nearing the point at which the world, led by the U.S. and China, will begin to consume more oil than can be pumped from the ground and the oceans. Tracking the global race to find new pools of oil, Sesno also considers the viability of alternative fuels, such as ethanol, which is used as fuel for 40% of cars in Brazil. Throughout his investigation, Sesno tries to find out whether any of these ventures can solve our looming energy crisis or whether we are already too late.

Well, if this is sinking in, I hope it goes better than the whole "human population is overshooting the planet's resources" thing did in the 70s. We were warned, indeed.
Yes, the meme grows, though painfully slowly for those of us who are already aware. It will, however, remain at best an undercurrent until some shock kicks the oil price to $100 or $150 or more a barrel. Then there will be days of programs, some even daring to be apocalyptic, and the meme will fruit. Perhaps we should hope for another 6 months of meme infiltration then a sufficient but not too longterm / painful shock. But it will need to be hard enough to wake most people up and focus minds.

The other overshoot problems can hopefully follow the peak oil trojan into consciousness.

I think it's interesting that it is set in mid 2009, after Bush has left office.

The other thing that will be interesting is to see what the program says about when people think the peak will actually be.  The poll question with the shortest time span said "within 25 years".

We will see if they get Deffeyes in there saying that it has already happened...

In keeping with Leanan's comments on Hawaii being a lousy place to experience Peak Oil, Maui is reporting a propane shortage.  The above link is from, where George Ure has been noting a steady increase in the number of   web links with the word "shortage."  

Why do they always have to start with the damn hurricane scenario, though? That's not the underlying issue. The public needs to understand that there's a much bigger, more permanent, underlying issue. I can see that Sesno's going to talk to people who may discuss the diminishing global supply, but I fear that if the main message is "a hurricane came through and took out a refinery, what will we do?!", people will just assume that that kind of shortage is something that we'll eventually get past.
Disasters make good footage. News is a business.

Do not look to the mainstream media for thoughtful analysis of problems. Think infotainment.

Totally agreed. We need people talking about Peak Oil in the mix of everyday events.

I did just that in my most recent newspaper column on the subject last week, of which I'll quote a couple of grafs:

You pull up to the gas pump at RaceTrac.

The price has jumped again this week.

It's now $3.39 a gallon, up a dime.

In your SUV, the commute to work is now costing almost $10 a day.
Your son's birthday is coming up, and you're trying to figure out how you're going to get him much this year.

Wal-Mart has raised most of its prices 10 percent or more in the last year. Its vaunted just-in-time distribution system has been taking an even more serious petroleum kick in the seat, with diesel prices now over $4 a gallon.

You're wondering and worried about your future, and your family's as well.

You were thinking about moving further out into exurban Dallas, but you just can't see doing that now. You've been talking to a friend who bought a house in Ellis County less than two years ago and is now worried about losing the mortgage.
Wasn't it just yesterday that oil prices were cheap at $60 a barrel? How did we get to $100 a barrel?

Note that I did NOT mention a hurricane or any other disaster, but rather just put this as part of a progression of "normal" price increases.

(I am the edtor of a suburban Dallas weekly paper and assistant managing editor of our five-newspaper group; total circ. about 17K.)

This is the sort of scenario-building the public needs to see more of, but I suspect that at $100 oil, gas would be more like $4.00, don't you think?
Yes, you're right. I originally had $90 a barrel for the oil price, then edited that to $100 for the extra shock value, and did not edit gas prices accordingly.

Otherwise, thanks for the kind words. Now, if only I could get hired by a bigger paper!

Another aspect might be standing room only on DART, new vehicles on order (they used a recent cost underrun on a few more AFAIK), real estate tanking in exurbia but "hot as a pistol" for residential within walking distance of DART stations as almost all new office buildings are built within four blocks of a DART station. Even 1/2 mile away residential is going at a premium.  Massive bike parking racks are going up at DART stations, displacing Park & Ride cars, and there is talk of taking one car lane (in one direction) and turning it into two bike lanes on roads leading to stations.  (A four lane street becomes a 2=1 car lanes and 2 bike lanes).

Texas Legislature is debating stopping construction of new highways and devoting soem of that money to electric trolley buses and urban rail (streetcars, light rail, commuter rail).

Right on all of this. The new UNT-Dallas is south Dallas is "hot" in part because it will eventually have a DART rail terminal. (My paper is in Lancaster, just south of there.)
Of course, a number of suburbs haven't bought into DART and are maxed out on sales taxes.

And, with folks at Volvo now unveiling hybrid buses, mass transit is getting a newer (and cleaner) lease on life.

CNN has finally updated the main page:

Where I work, the expression "Drill for more oil" has at some point become the standard shorthand for "engage in a largely pointless activity because there are no better options available." And this is in the internet software business! So, yes, I would say that the message has gotten out.
IF the nation's educators accept the Peakoil Meme bigtime and widely revamp the student curriculum to study Peak Everything-- then there is hope that ERoEI [societal cooperation] > ERoVI [Violence Invested].  But I doubt this will happen and we will let our children sleepwalk into disaster.  I am cheered that CNN is promoting this film for tweeners on up, but their parents really need to get involved in their local PTAs to push for educational change-- this actually should have happened some time ago.  My numerous emails to the national PTA org and locally have not budged them so far.

An opportunity exists for TOD to setup a 'scholastic' website version that caters to youngsters, and is specifically aimed to inform them and their teachers.  The bright kids will find the DEFCON 1 sites of and Savinar's LATOC on their own.  Anything to help get more kids alerted and involved will be helpful.

My gut reaction is that most members of these numerous Peakoil forums are older farts like me.  We need to actively include youngsters in the discussion because the future has always belonged to the kids, always will.  Can the TOD website software setup an anynonomous poll to query members for age & skillset?

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

I'm 42 y old. My son, 12 y old, has been briefed on PO since 2 years. Last month he has asked his professor if his class could visit an organic farm. As I heared it, they discussed direct and indirect oil usage in farming. He really tries to understand how to organize a different future, less reliant on oil. For the present he begins to see all the contradictions of a growth oriented society. I have far less discussions with my wife, she thinks all this is too depressing. However we consider solar energy and I refuse travelling for holidays more than 100km and she accepts. As for yeast and humans, I tend to think that humans (in your question you refer to humans in plurial) are dumber than yeast, because yeast, while depleting their ressources, don't go on to exterminate 75% of all other species and to destroy their ecosystem.
Hello Neuroil,

Good for you for cluing your son into his future. I am really curious:  what happens when he talks Peakoil to his friends and cousins?  Is he considered a nutcase, or taken seriously?  Has his friends' parents told you to stop your child from scaring their kids, or do they ask you for more info, books, and websites?  I am starving for info on how many kids are Peakoil informed.  Thxs for any reply.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast? [my signoff tagline]

Hello totoneila, Thank you for this nice thread and your interest. First of all, I must say that we live in France. I discuss the matter of Peak Oil with a lot of people and I discovered that a majority is already concerned. That explains why my son isn't considered a crackpot, and even can set a few things in motion. What is different from other people however is that he really tries to get the problem, not only to understand the situation as plunfo describes below. This contrasts sharply whith my daughters. I have two daughters, one 9 year old (and still too young to be active), one 15 year old. My eldest knows that there is a problem but she won't do anything actively to research a better life for herself in the future. I can't blame her, since I continue to drive my car. As for people asking more information, some ask for websites (which I always provide to them, there are now some excellent sites in french), others don't want to search too much, a minority believes that there is no problem. I am very pessimistic for the youth in France in the short term, violence becomes widespread, most youngsters are completely despaired with worklessness, the perspective of shortages and blind politicians. Most believe that they will live with less than their parents and won't be able to to have a grip on the future.
Hi Neuroil;
  I'm wondering if you and your son have been thinking about France's dependency on Nuclear, as well.  I have read that we face a similar crisis in the availablity of high-grade Uranium ores, though I suppose America's warheads could power the world for a little while, if they can get down-converted instead of getting launched.

  I'm in Maine, and we just finished dismantling our only Nuclear plant, 'Maine Yankee'.. and I'm not sad to see it go.  I don't see nuclear as much of a 'Transition' fuel, since the energy we use to mine/refine and build reactors could as easily be applied to building Wind/Tide/Solar manufacturing, and implementing much more efficient uses of lighting, transp, heating, etc.


bob shaw...hi!...i've been involved in peak oil since march 2003 and started talking with family and friends my son ,who is 21 now, was well initiated and took the message to heart. he is starting a web community site on self-sustained living and backpacking here

I don't have kids of my own, but I'm quite close to my 14,16, & 18 y.o. niece and nephews.  On a recent visit, I made a point of spending an evening discussing peak oil with them.  I'd talked briefly with the oldest on an earlier visit.  I was suprised at how receptive they were.  I think youngsters' receptivity, & response can't be stereotyped.  These kids all have cell phones & TV's in their rooms, but don't have internet at home.  (Can you believe that!?)  My brother is an odd sort of Luddite.  His acceptance of technology stops before you get to computers.  Anyway, they've grown up being required to do dishes, stack firewood, help with laundry, etc...  They also went through divorce and bankruptcy, so know a little bit about loss.  I think all that contributed to their receptivity.  I think it's a fine line between living in this world of constant consumption and our innate human connection to the land.  My theory is that if you grow up with at least a modicum of that connection nourished, and aren't completely isolated by techno-consumer society, then peak oil and other limiting factors make intuitive sense and can be embraced rather than ignored as some whacko attempt to keep me from getting mine.  Contrasted to my niece & nephews is my 13 y.o. step-daughter, who has also obviously been through divorce, and while not bankruptcy, both her parents live pretty simply, both before and after they split.  In our household, we burn wood, have partial passive solar, grow a garden, etc...  But she thinks we're nuts.  I think our mistake has been in allowing her to not participate in these activities, other than raising/lowering the shade on her window appropriately.  Our solar DHW unit arrived this week.  Her reaction was, "People won't be able to see it, will they!?"  We're hoping that eventually our example will rub off on her.  But, again, I don't think we can paint all youth with a single brush stroke.  My only advice is to talk to the young people in your life about what's coming, and set the best example you possibly can.
My 12 year old son did his school speech on peak oil this year, to a reception of polite disbelief. He was slightly disappointed, but not surprised.

All my children have known about peak oil and its implications, as well as deflation and economic depression, for a long time. All of them have real skills in addition to what they learn in school and know that those skills are likely to be extremely important. They have farm chores to do and see the value in helping to provide for the necessities of their own existence. No time is wasted watching TV or playing computer games as these options are not available (and not missed). The link with the consumer society, and the path of least resistance, has been broken for them.

One might think that making young children aware of a difficult future would amount to wallowing in doom and gloom, but in fact the opposite is true. Teaching children real skills and imparting to them how important these are likely to be is very empowering. Children who are aware and prepared now can become the leaders of the future when leadership will be crucial.

Hello Stoneleigh,

Well said: "Teaching children real skills and imparting to them how important these are likely to be is very empowering. Children who are aware and prepared now can become the leaders of the future when leadership will be crucial".

Schools should be ripping out ballfields and teaching kids permiculture and animal husbandry skills.  This is not only very instructive, but is a very calming and rewarding experience-- helps promote the cultural mindset of ERoEI > ERoVI. The big sports should become bicycle racing or distance racing to promote cardiovascular fitness and endurance.  Shop classes in bicycle repairs, animal butchering and cooking, sewing & knitting, etc.

Each drainage basin or habitat should be assessing the best methods to Powerdown and achieve sustainability now to preclude later violence.  For example: AZ's Maricopa County has increased by 536,000 in just the past five years [fastest growing in the Nation].  If the area leaders are proactive: they should institute massive Humanure requirements, very high water pricing levels, elimination of night-time external lighting, abolish car-washing, impose high energy taxes to promote Powerdown and fund Kunstler's goal of human-scale cities, and so on.  These proposals would make many local residents migrate to other cities/habitats, reducing the chance of future AZ violence as most of the Phx area would gradually transmute into a sustainable ghosttown.

Otherwise, at crunch time, the sudden cutoff of imports of pipelined energy from Texas & CA will cause all hell to break loose; ERoVI > ERoEI.

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

Kids.  Teenagers.  Young Adults.  There is going to be a huge problem for all of these young people in accepting the true implications of Peak Oil.

Following my viewing of the documentary OilCrash! this past weekend I had the occasion to have dinner with a rather bright 18 year old young man and another gentleman, both of whom had also seen the film.  The teenager is a fairly typical suburban kid with the X-Box in his bedroom on top of his TV, right next to the PC on his desk with 3,000 songs downloaded on his personally cataloged PC jukebox which is synchronized with his portable IPod.  He glances at his cellphone every five or ten minutes, presumably viewing text messages from everyone he knows.

I asked him what he thought about the film, and he replied in a very unconcerned tone, "Oil runs out. Economic collapse, anarchy, government failing, resource wars, expensive gas."  So I queried further about how that made him feel, in terms of his own future and he replied, again in an unconcerned tone, "life just comes and I just go with the flow, man.  What else is there to do?"   Further pressing got little more out of him.  He understood the situation clearly, but not the problem.

So I discussed this response with the other gentleman sitting at the table who is closer to my age (47).  And during our discussion we had a revelation -- this kid, and just about every other person that hasn't yet experienced independant life: lived out on their own, fully supporting themselves, who hasn't experienced the responsibilities of generating an income, supporting a car, running a family, assessing personal security, shopping for sustinance rather than bling, experienced the issues around medical trauma, voting after seriously considering issues, volunteering to serve his community or society in some way, experiencing the death of a loved one, living through financial challenges, etc, etc.... simply can't have the experience necessary to even conceive of the hardships that are coming his way.  He doesn't have the ability to conceive of it because he has always been "taken care of" by someone else and been insulated from the hardships of life, as a child normally is.  It's not his fault that he doesn't comprehend the seriousness by any means -- he's a kid growing up and that's what we do in America.  But the revelation to myself and this other gentleman was that virtually all young people, say under the ages of 20-25, may clearly understand the situation, but simply can't conceive of the severity or true impacts of what's coming because they have no personal reference points to relate to it.

This is going to be a huge additional problem folks.  How do we get it across to them?

take away their cell phone, ipod and xbox for a week?  
Outstanding observation, Plunsfo!

I think you opened up a real 'can of worms' for us to consider in the problem of youngster Peakoil-outreach.  My proposal is for the schools to have carefully supervised mandatory energy deprivation outings.  A group of students would pedal their bicycles & gear out of the city to camp in the woods for a week.  They would be fully fed by foraging for natural foodstuffs, or could choose to be hungry.  Heat is only by woodfire, teach the kids how to kill & clean rabbits, fish, and chickens.  This survival outing experience would help them grow up fast for the task ahead.

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


Good idea, but I'm thinking that the kids would just see it as a more intense version of camping.

What might be more realistic would be to go on a long ski style weekend to a remote lodge. The educators would then power down the area. It would be necessary to insure that the food supply was inadequate and that 'somehow' the fuel in all the cars/ transportation was gone. Of course, no cell or land line phones allowed.

After a day or so all the portable devices batteries would be drained, hunger would kick in, and the experience would start. I'm sure that long weekend scenario would get my kids attention.

The education environment could be played with a bit, for example, turning on the power for 2 minutes, then off again.

My proposal is for the schools to have carefully supervised mandatory energy deprivation outings.

To set a good example for the children, why don't you start with yourself? Getting rid of your car is probably a good start.

... if you happen to live in bike-friendly Japan, like JD.

I'd lose my job without a car.  As it is, biking to work is dicey.  Everyone just expects that I can travel to a meeting or visit a job-site thirty miles away at the drop of a hat.

I've gotten pretty good at anticipating, but every now and then I get caught without the car.  Last week, my boss called.  He was stuck in traffic, so I had to deliver some drawings and meet a client.  So here I am riding the Xootr four miles up Opossumtown Pike in the rain, holding a roll of drawings in my non-shifting hand.  I got there and they thought I was a courier.

You mean you don't live in a densely populated homogeneous society with an excellent public transportation system?  
Thank you for doing this in depth analysis.
I too have teen-age to young adult kids who don't seem to "get it" despite how often nut cake dad tries to talk to them.

All their life, they have seen mom and dad go to that big ATM machine, punch in the secret number that only adults get, and then remove the mullah.

In their minds, when you reach a certain age, you too will get the secret number and you too will get to draw out the mullah.

It's that simple.
It's a Paris Hilton world.
All elastic.
All you need is the plastic.
Get on MTV,
Be a rich celebrity. ...
(sing it to the tune of It's a Barbie World)

You have to redo this. It has to be Madonna's 'Material World(Girl?).' I think that was the 'Like a Virgin' Album(they still made them)/CD. Barbie was so gone by then.

When Peak Oil recruits Paris Hilton - And we will if I have anything to do with it - We will get the message across.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

My first thought was that kids usually do a lot better than their elders think they will.  They're young and flexible, and can usually adjust surprisingly well after the initial shock.  

But I wonder about the current generation.  They are sheltered like no other generation ever has been.  Many are rarely ever disciplined, because their parents don't want to "break their spirits."  They are homeschooled, unschooled, etc., because their parents want to protect them from the school experience.  (The "gay agenda," teachers who aren't good enough, bullying classmates, or whatever.)    Many 20-somethings find the real world a rude shock when they leave the nest.  

I still think young people will probably do okay.  But I suspect their well-meaning parents aren't doing them any favors by raising them to think the world revolves around them.  

OTOH, as Peggy Noonan pointed out...if we are headed into another Great Depression or worse, it would be hard for any parent to deny their children anything now.  

I really don't believe that even 47 year olds have sufficient perspective of "bad times."  I'm 67 and although I didn't grow up during the Depression, it's impact upon my parents and their parents profoundly impacted me. My paternal grandfather lost his business and never recovered.  And, my mom often told the story of how they only had a can of peaches for food one day and didn't know where the next day's was going to come from.

This was one reason I left the chemical industry many years ago to move to a rural area where I could protect my life-style (as simple as it is).  I'm one of those people who has a large PV system, solar hot water, a super insulated house,large garden and orchard, etc.

I live north of Willits, CA with it's relocalization group headed by Jason Bradford.  My community has a relocalization group too and it is having little success getting people interested and keeping them interested.  I don't participate to any degree (although I did give some of them a tour of our place) because none of the groups with which I am aware, including my local one, have ever taken to time to even prioritize what needs to be done.  They are far too warm and fuzzy for my taste.

Hello Todd,

Is this the same Todd from the forum  Yahoo:RunningOnEmptyTwo?  If so: I greatly admire your knowledge and expertise: you will be a great addition to TOD.  I always read your postings!

You are correct about most groups being too warm and fuzzy.  Hopefully the upcoming CNN show will promote more radical cultural drive for Powerdown.  Jay Hanson's Thermo-Gene Collision predicts that we will go down in the worst possible way-- only time will tell if he is correct.  The hardest part is breaking through to the 'movers & shakers'-- no response to my emails!  We need a Bill Gates or Richard Rainwater to lead the charge for change.

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


Sorry, different Todd - hope I can offer similar quality posts.  However, I have been very seriously following peak energy/resources since about 1999 and have been into alternate energy since the early '80s (got my first 10watt PV panels in about '83). I first became concerned after The Limits to Growth was published in '72.

FWIW, I have sort of a strange background.  The first part was in business; process development manager, new plant start-up manager, plant manager in the coatings, resins/polymers, synthetic rubber and adhesives industries.  I suppose I should throw in electroplating since I did research on that right after college.

The second part is touched on in my first TOD post on another thread.  I gave up the status and money of business for rural security many years ago and, since, have been everything from a small-scale, certified organic farmer to a home designer and builder.  I live on top of a mountain on 57 acres.

Hello Todd,

Glad to know you just the same-- you and the other Todd seem like twin sons from different mothers. I am glad you live the way you do--good for you and your acreage.  We need all the potential Arks we can get.  I am a newbie compared to you as I only discovered and Peakoil in '03--I got a lot of work, with very little money and time ahead of me.  

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

Ah yes, the "I love kittens" approach. Which goes hand in hand with the warm & fuzzy feeling.
What, exactly, do you expect this young man to do?  His response seems perfectly reasonable to me, and a pretty good way to deal with the things that are coming for the most part.  Having read Dmitry Orlov's pieces on the Collapse of the Soviet Union, I think being young, smart and able to roll with the punches will be a pretty effective strategy.  He may be a little too nonchalant, but he may acting flip as a bit of a defense.

It would have been useful to get his reaction to the concept of being drafted to fight in Iran, OTOH.

My (38yr old) method for dealing with this with my own young kids is to point out all of the things we use oil for, which of those will likely continue, and what will happen to the others.  We went to see the redwoods this past month on their winter break, but the subtext was that planes use a lot of oil-based fuel and this may be the last time we get to fly to California.  

In general, we're trying to show them how to live well with less energy.  We impress upon the kids that we bike most places to do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and because we'll still be able to bike even if gas gets outrageous.  We grow an organic garden, in the city, and buy from our local Co-op and CSA farm, by bike.  We switched mostly to a woodstove so they can see how it all works, including felling and cutting the wood with handsaws.  We take the train to Chicago and use the El when we're there.  We use the car for those trips where we can't walk, bike, or take transit.  We're even going to try tapping our Maple tree for syrup this year.

Our kids really enjoy all of this.  We don't watch TV, so learning about how people used to live and seeing that it all still works seems pretty interesting to them.  Little kids get geeked by things that adults think are strange.  The real problem for young kids will be watching the adults in their lives lose their livelihoods and their touch with reality.  I think being able to roll with the punches will be key to making sure my kids don't have to watch that close up.

Actually, I don't expect this young man to do I realize he can't conceive the danger and hardship that lies ahead. And I don't know how to articulate it to him because he has no frame of reference in the world of real personal and family survival responsibilities or personal hardship. He has never had full responsibility for his personal survival and well-being. That's the problem.

I need a way to convey to him the hardship and danger that lies ahead that will get his attention -- and I can't use traditional logic because it requires a foundation in experience to relate to -- and he doesn't have that, and nor do the majority of our youth below age 20. The typical twelve year old in any third-world country is far better equipped to cope with the coming implications of PO than 20 year old people in the West.

What is the kid going to say when I tell him that due to the implications of PO that his four years of college will be met not with a job market, a career, country-club and gym memberships, a beemer, a cell-phone and the American Dream... rather it will be met with the start of the worst depression in our history -- one that likely offers massive unemployment, financial destitution for the masses, rampant homelessness, very scarce food supplies and bread/soup lines, a complete breakdown of the transportation system of the country, not even the gas to load up the car (even if you could afford it) and move to [fill in the blank -- any city] to find work (which won't exist there either), and a severely handicapped government at best. His only probable option will be to join the military to participate in the resource wars, or to start working as a farm or manual laboror. So what's he going to say when I tell him all that? He's going to say, "uhhh, yeah...right," and go right back to IM'ing on his cell-phone and listening to his IPod, and murmuring to his friends something about how adults these days are just fricken wierd.

And then, when he does get out of college with a 30-year college mortgage on his back, and confronts all the things I said above, he's going to be very, very pissed off at the adult world thinking that not only did we screw up the world for him, but that we didn't even bother to properly prepare him for the new reality...I mean, like, where's his stock broker?

So what I need -- solid advice on how to adequately explain to and prepare the kids for the new reality -- something they can identify with and understand.

Finally, anyone sending their kids to college in the next five years might seriously consider how to council their kids on wise career choices for the future -- there's not going to be a huge market for Business Administration majors, or Aviation, Computer Science, Hospitality Management, or Interior Design, ...well, you get the idea. Better to guide them toward Permaculture/Agricultural Sciences or Animal Husbandry, Civil Engineering or Solar Power sciences, Building Skills, etc.

I offered a bribe of $100 dollars to my 25 yo daughter and 19 yo son to read The Long Emergency by Kunstler.  My son never took it, even though he was broke, precisely because we had always taken care of him.
My daughter, otoh, did read it.  She has at least admitted that it is coloring a lot of her thinking.  She is considering changing her major from Maritime Admin to Agronomy, transferring to Texas A & M Galveston to the College Station campus.  We'll see if it takes...  
We live in an age where the TV is not the biggest source of information,  Its the Internet, Its the cell phone and the House phone, its other kids, It so much more than all this that the Average kid over 7 has has some major impact from the world around them.  I Play an Online Dungeons and Dragons type of game, its 5 bucks a month, and very detailed and rather fun.  But I have noticed that a Lot of the kids and even some of the adults that I talk to just can't see a future without computers.  

I used to Read a Lot of books, 100 to 150 a year, Anything under the sun, I used to Spend most of my daylight and a lot of dark hours outside and doing things in nature or my garden.  Even I don't read that much any more, how do we convince a YOUTH of the world to go back to that, when even then I was the non-normal teenager.

The Youth will suffer the most and be the most angry when they realize that their elders did not prepare them for the coming times.  And be warned some of them really like Anarchy and Chaos, and have been going that path a long time.  

I honestly can't think of any worse outcome than letting persons like yourself loose on young people.

"Repeat after me children: People are stupid! Remember the limits! We're dumber than yeast! Technology is the problem! Don't think big! That's what got us into trouble last time!!"

If you folks had your way, they'd all be zombies, drooling at their tables like the kids in Taliban madrassas.

In fact, a kid just e-mailed me the other day through my blog, and thanked me for presenting the other side. Apparently his teacher made the class watch "The End of Suburbia", and then gave them a big lecture about how the future was dark, violent, poor and hopeless. The kid didn't like it, and asked a few impertinent questions. I told him to keep right at it. I told him to be a punk and fight back. Don't listen to the pompous old farts trying to ram doom down your throat.


Thxs for responding. I surmise that you have not extensively studied and Savinar's LATOC.  I further surmise that you have not carefully studied the ongoing African decline and looming energy shortages elsewhere due to depletion meeting Overshoot.  Please correct me if I am wrong.

I suggest that being aware of the worst potential outcome is the best way to motivate us to prevent the worst.  The Schlesinger quote is appropriate: "Two modes of operation, complacency or panic".  Neither promotes solutions. Realizing early that the ship is sinking, then calmly heading for the lifeboats should be the optimum goal for everyone, but especially the kids.

I tell young adults that they will probably have to kill my generation [I will soon be 52] in the next ten to twenty years if they don't prepare for Powerdown. I tell them that they will be so desperate to feed their children that an old man shuffling along with a bag of food will be an easy target.  I tell them that it is far better to combine our efforts to reorganize our lifestyles as Kunstler suggests to prevent the 'panic outcome'. My goal is to break their complacency, but prevent panic.

If all the young kids could be convinced to always pedal, and never seek to own an automobile-- this alone would profoundly help Powerdown this nation.  They would also be physically prepared to ride the required distances to help insure their future survival.  This is a far better plan than emulating Zimbabwe where one of the leading inflationary products is the desperate scramble for bicycles.

If I was a ten year old kid today: I would rather be told that I might never be able to afford a car because of Peakoil, than have my parents purposely delude me with promises of the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.  JD, if you were suddenly ten years old, what would you want your parents to tell you?

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

You are probably sadly right: young adults will probably have to kill most of our generation and older (I'm the same age as you) unless we have the decency to do it ourselves.

The only exception would be if oldies (anyone over 40) had sufficient skills and knowledge (and adequate health / vigour) to justify preserving. Note that those would be skills appropriate and relevent to the then current reality.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that few younger than maybe 70 years old have much in the way of useful skills, and many youngsters seem short on appropriate knowledge. Likely to make for a bigger die off, that. Maybe those oldies who have a lot of skills and knowledge will be treasured if they adapt, who knows. I'm not convinced it will be a too nice world to live in, unless I can be really useful I think, on balance, I would prefer not to.

If it gets that bad, it's going to be hard on both the very young and the very old.  Studies of other cultures under stress show what generally happens is that young adults - those of breeding age - are saved.  It may seem heartless to let children starve, but children who grow up without adequate nutrition will never be right as adults, assuming they survive that long.  Biologically speaking, it's smarter for the parents to save themselves, and just start over with new kids when conditions permit.

It's definitely good to have some real oldsters around, for their knowledge.  After the Asian tsunami, it was feared that tribes of native peoples who lived on isolated islands in the area had been wiped out.  But they suffered no losses at all.  When they saw the water go out, they immediately ran to the high ground.  And they didn't get caught like many others did, assuming the first wave was it, then getting caught by the second one.  They knew to wait until the new boundary between land and water was settled.  Their ancestral knowledge saved them.


Agric, Totoneila;
  Is there any chance that the imminent doom you are expressing is partly a holdover from the 'Nuclear Nightmares', of the 'diving under schooldesks' that so prominently characterised the 'background mental noise' of the 50's-70's?  It's so easy to sit here and look at the potential of the sky-falling, and conclude that we'll simply be 'at each other's throats' as the sole, obvious result.  I know we hope for the best, and are trying to steel ourselves for the 'worst', but please don't think that painting your picture of the worst makes it into the 'realistic' appraisal of things to come.  We do have some relevant historical examples of how amazingly people have pulled together when things went to hell. (Depression, WWII, 9/11)

Said Grandfather to the boy; I have two wolves in me, doing battle. One fights for love, and the other for hate, and they are in a fight to the death.."

BOY:  Grandfather, which one is going to win?

Grandfather:  Whichever one I feed.

Unlikely, I was a bit too young at the time of the Cuban missile crisis - the only time that nuclear armageddon really threatened. I've never felt at serious risk due to nuclear war, even a limited one, and I still don't. That risk was always a low probability and more likely to happen through stupidity than real force of events. Deep economic recession and peak oil are, however, near certainties - I estimate the probability of avoiding both of them over the next 10 years as perhaps lower than nuclear war happening in any one year in the last 30.

Reality is always in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder usually thinks their perception of it is mostly correct. I guess we will have to differ for now,I expect the USA to go through more hell in the next 10 to 15 years than it has at any time since the civil war.

I just finished Kunstler's book and think it's off the mark by about 50%, which is the half dealing with electricity.   We have to remember that an oil shortage does not mean a lack of electricity.  All of the "alternative" fuels that are now growing and will grow much faster as the price of oil rises - coal, nuclear, wind, and solar - all of them produce electricity.   The end of cheap oil is the start of the transition to an all-electric economy.

So you can stop worrying about not having the internet or TV.   Even heat and transportation will eventually transition to all-electric - though it will take a long time.  But at some point we'll all plug our car into the grid at night and we'll do fine without gasoline.   In the meantime, we'll figure out how to make cheap cars that get 100 mpg or more, so there will be some personal transportation for everyone. People will buy cheap electric space heaters to substitute for their oil heat.  Life will not stop.

What we won't have for a while is a lot of the amenities of life that we're used to like transportation options that we now take for granted.  So fewer and far more expensive air travel and sea travel options.  During the transition to electric cars, we'll have less car traffic. But let's remember that peak oil does not mean no oil.  So we'll still be able to buy gas and heating oil - but it will be a lot more expensive.  So people will buy motor scooters as well as using bikes when they can.  And the wealthy will keep driving cars as they always have.  

The other thing we won't have is a robust economy.  For quite a while - at least a decade, I would think, maybe longer - we will have enormous unemployment.   That's the real problem kids need to understand.   But there will be new job opportunities too - anything involved with producing and distributing electricity will be a good career.  Also mining.  Oil sands production.  Railroading.  Designing, selling, installing and servicing solar panels.   There will be lots of good employment opportunities.   Unfortunately, there will also be a lot more unemployed (and inappropriately trained) people looking for those opportunities who will never find them.

So I think we need a little balance in what we teach and what we "vision" for the future.  Yes, it will be very tough.   No, it is not the end of civilization or the world as we know it.

A couple of variations to your concepts.  Electrify US freight railroads and shift most of the 18 wheeler traffic onto rails.  8 to 1 energy savings rubber to rail, about 3 to 1 savings diesel motors to electric motors.

Switzerland is creating two flat electric rail North-South rail links between Germany & Italy with massive tunnel projects on both routes.  Plans are for a maximum slope of 0.8% on teh rail line vs. trucking over the Alps.  A 40 to 1 energy savings ?  2.5% electricity joules replacing 100% oil joules ?

I am "unimpressed" by battery operated electric cars as a solution. No significant energy savings, and significant impacts on grids and generation requirements.

Far better is grid operated electric Urban Rail.  A 100 to 1 energy savings (or more) for light rail today vs. single occupancy SUVs, pickups & cars fro commutting.  Urban rail changes the pattern of development into a more sustainable form, thereby reducing the demand for transportation.

The reason to be happy about all-electric vehicles is not that they produce an "energy savings".  Rather that they ELIMINATE use of oil.   Remember, the problem is not enough oil; it's not a matter of not enough (potential) energy.  There's plenty of potential growth in energy from nuclean, coal, solar, and wind.  So transitioning from oil to electricity is the challenge that we face.  Unfortunately, as Hirsch points out, such a transition (and others, like ethanol-from-sugar) will take decades to accomplish.  So if we only make a serious start after we know that oil has peaked, we're in for a couple of decades of an extremely bad world economy in the meantime.  That is the tragedy of our situation.
We create other problems with single occupancy electric vehicles traveling the same sprawling disances.  Massive expansion of coal fired electricity with Global Warming & bringing "Peak Coal" within view are a couple of reasons.

Massive expansion of Urban Rail (subways, light rail, streetcars, commuter rail) will gain 100 to 1 efficiency gains WITH EXISTING TECHNOLOGY !  No "breakthroughs" required, only technology with a century of operating experience.  And Urban Rail transforms Urban Land Use, reducing the demand for transportation.

Implementation ?  Give me the highway building budget for a dozen years and the DC & SF experience after 1970 will be replicated in over a dozen cities (40% of commuters take rail to work, half a billion gallons saved/year NOT COUNTING CHANGED LAND USE).  Get people to bicycle to the station and save even more.

Dear JD, I thing the teacher of the class you cite was wrong. He said the future was dark, violent, poor and hopeless. But the truth is that it is the *present* which is dark, violent, poor and hopeless, at least for a lot among us. The problem is that with political and mediatic skill, we don't see nor hear the suffering around us. But ask your doctors and social workers. I myself am a neurologist in a little town in France. Since 3 years I am more and more inclined to offer free services to patients since I see a lot of pathologies linked to misery, which I've never encountered before. More and more people aren't able to feed their kids, have one or less meals per day. Violence is widespread and increases, a fact now even measurable in the statistics (not a strong skill in France). A lot of young adults don't find any work or accept to be interns for 3 or 4 years at low wages, not beeing able to live on their own. Since 4 years I consider the figures of economic growth virtual, without a basis for reality in daily life.
And therefore you are saying that all those nuclear plants in France are not saving civilization from its slow slide back down into the tar pit?

BTW, as a neurologist have you seen an increase in numbers of brain pathologies (perhaps due to chemicals in our environment)? Lately I'm hearing about one person after the next succumbing to maladies of the brain. Is it a coincidence or is something bigger going on?

IMO, nuclear plants are obviously no solution for the future :

  • uranium price follows an almost linear increase in price since 2001, at 40$ per pound (15/3/2006), near its all time high, inflation adjusted (which is worse than oil !)
  • the waste is dangerous, very costly to handle
  • the international underground work to maintain local markets and securing the transportation system is as "dirty" as what is necessary for oil and is far more secretive

to say only a few. I we would really like to switch to an electricity based economy, the amount of investment would be tremendous. France, with its faltering economy - one of the weakest in Europe - is for sure not able at all to achieve such a giant project.

I am not sure I can really answer your question about the epidemiology of brain diseases. In my practice I think that brain tumors are a bit more frequent (especially lymphomas and gliobastomas) than 20 years ago. I'm also alarmed by a relatively high frequency of Creutzfeld Jacob disease in my area (a mostly rural one) but I have difficulties in comparing this to other regions because we don't have a national registry for this disease.

A lot of neurologists do believe that pesticides and fertilizers could be partly responsible for degenerative disease, especially parkinson's and alzheimer. We do observe an increased prevalence of these diseases but this is generally linked to improved diagnosis and ageing of the population. But a colleague of mine who works in another rural area has had the idea of comparing the frequency of farmers among our parkinson disease patients. I have done the same work and found that 36% (from 160) of my patients with parkinson's are farmers, while this is the case in only 21% (from 336) of my patients with alzheimer's. But bias for such observations is enormous and it is difficult to be affirmative about such uncontrolled statistics.

What really worries me, is that I have come to diagnose about 12 malnutrition syndromes in the past 2 year stemming from social misery, while I haven't seen one from 1990 to 2001.

Thank you for that most informative feedback on the French perspective.

We in the USA are constantly hearing from the pro-nuke crowd about how well France is doing with their all nuke energy program. You seem to be saying the exact opposite, namely, that the post oil (post Iraq) civilization in France is seeing increasing numbers of people slipping below the poverty line and increasing cases of malnourished people.

I suspect this is how the course of USA civilization will also slowly unravel. Now we are seeing more and more people without "medical insurance coverage". Soon we will see more and more families slipping into bankruptcy as they are unable to make enough to meet their debt loads. The governement has already conveniently destroyed the welfare system so the same people who dutifully paid taxes all these years will no longer have a "sefety net" to fall back on. Then doctors in the USA will start reporting on increased malnourishment cases in the USA. Unemployed youth will start rioting. The government will blame it on religious extremism. But the blonde haired ladies on MSM will still be smiling and delivering "Mission Accomplished" happy news to the rest of us.

There has been a spike in uranium prices, but after decades of low prices.  The cost per BTU or joule is QUITE low with current reactors and lower still with other fuel cycles.

The cost of recycling fuel is high in human inputs such as engineering and labor, but low in energy.  And there should be a very steep learning curve with lower costs if more fuel is recycled. (One of the Bush proposals that I actually like is to recycle ALL of the trans-unranium elements and not just Plutonium.  More fuel, harder to handle due to HIGH specific radioactivity.  More difficult to make a useful bomb from such a mix).

France has played harder, and dirtier, games to secure uranium.  Simply buying it from Canada and South Africa would be easier.

The TGV (and ICE et al) give the French a way to travel around the EU in reasonable time with only a few drops of lubricating oil.  Trams systems are going into every French town on any size (say 200,000) that voted correctly, and existing lines are being expanded.

French agriculture BADLY overfertilizes due to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (also far too much pesticide for the same reason).

France has a decent hydroelectric system (~10% to 12% of electricity).

France has a weak economy and social problems. but these should not become much worse due to post-Peak Oil.  France has built a buffer for itself already.

I live in a disaster area, surrounded by destruction and with the smells of death & decay just recently gone.  Healthcare is slowly returning in quality & quantity.  "Katrina Cough" is pandemic and universal.  Many (most ?) habitable homes are "doubled up" with professors and doctors sleeping on air mattresses in the homes of friends.  Stress is at very high levels, yet kindness and consideration are also at very high levels.

Everyone realises that everyone else* has gone through a lot, and we are in this together.  Civic involvement is very common and people are actively looking for ways to help the city and each other.

* I do not have a local accent and strangers often ask to find out if I am "preKatrina" resident and not an out-of-town contractor.

Nicely put, JD. Youth is a time for optimism, for energy, for planning to change the world. The Peak Oil mantra of doom, depression and despair is exactly what young people don't want or need to hear.

I wonder if there is a correlation between age and Peak Oil belief? Are Peak Oilers a bunch of old farts who are past the best part of their lives, and are projecting onto the world their own sense of having hit their limits, with nothing before them but an inexorable decline?

The lesson the America is currently giving to its children is that is ok to pre-emptively invade other countries for oil and, in general, grab as much from the rest of the world as possible.  If thousands die in the military invasion or because of pollution to make US products, well they are just collateral damage.  

Comparing PO, and a greener more personal future world, to that American empire state of mind is actually quite refreshing.  

Is ignorance bliss Halfin? Would you have liked it if, during your youth, the adults in your life had let you live in a maladaptive fantasy world rather than sharing relevant knowledge with you? If they had known the rug would be pulled from beneath your feet, but had chosen not to warn you?

I couldn't live with myself as a parent if I hadn't tried to mould my children for the world they'll be facing. Laissez faire parenting is a complete abdication of responsibility IMO.

There's a big difference between frankly informing young people of difficult challenges they may face, versus brainwashing them with the idea that all hope is lost, and billions of people are going to die in a totally unavoidable nightmare of poverty, starvation and violence.

If the peak oil nutters were to get their way, we'd end up with a whole generation of kids memorizing, just like the kids in the madrassas memorizing the Koran. Sitting at their little tables all day, nodding and reciting like they have Parkinson's disease.

The bottom line is this: People predicting doom have a track record which is PISS-POOR. Sure, you may think you're right this time, but that's the same thing you said last time.

The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer. -- Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)

Should we have molded the children of the 1960s to face the inevitable starvation of the 1970s? Obviously not. Have a little humility. The future is a question mark, not a settled fact.

May I point out that hundreds of millions of people did starve to death over the last forty years? Granted, essentially all of them were killed by disease as well as malnutrition, and essentially all of them were also under five years old, but they were people.
And when you meet them in the next life, if you do wind up in the same location, what will you say to them then?
You're playing games with the figures. Perhaps this will clarify things for you:
By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people. -- Paul Ehrlich, 1969

"The same year [1969], he [Paul Ehrlich] predicted in an article entitled "Eco-Catastrophe!" that by 1980 the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 because of pesticides, and by 1999 its population would drop to 22.6 million. In the mid-seventies, with the release of his The End of Affluence, Ehrlich incorporated drama into his dire prophesies. He envisioned the President dissolving Congress "during the food riots of the 1980s," followed by the United States suffering a nuclear attack for its mass use of insecticides. That's right, Ehrlich thought that the United States would get nuked in retaliation for killing bugs."Source

Should we have prepared our children for those inevitable realities? Recall, mind you, that Paul Ehrlich was a Professor at Stanford who appeared regularly on the Tonight Show. Can't get more credible than that.
JD is 1,000% correct here.

We should be preparing them to hook into a lunar-space-powered grid cause that is so obviously a realistic future to look forwared to and plan for.



Ehrlich was wrong. Even in places like Russia where the ecofreaks were jailed instead of elected, the life expectancy has only dropped to 63 or so. Pesticides aren't that bad for you.
Keynes also had a howler in his post world war one anticommunist writings. He thought that palm oil fats were a limiting nutrition source for Europe. And that was AFTER the development of nitrogen fixation had prolonged the war from five months to five years by keeping the German army in ammunition, and the rapid increase in oil consumption by cars was destroying the value of my grandparent's farm by replacing hay with gasoline. Cars were spreading then almost as fast as solar and wind are spreading now, year on year! Did he notice?
Some people don't understand technology.
Could you please provide a bibliographic reference for the opinion of Keynes that you cite?

I am familiar with his writings, and I do not recall anything similar to what you attribute to (presumably) John Maynard Keynes. Or are you referring to his father, John Neville Keynes? Or some other Keynes?

Thank you.

I'd have to go to the library. You are behind Oil Poet, who is still waiting for me to read the Harbour Report at Jackson library at Stanford, to see if Toyota or Honda really does have a lower management cost ratio than Ford or GM.
We were discussing whether it was the labor union or the "manager union" that was causing GM to go under.
I believe it was in Keynes "Economic Consequences Of The Peace", but I don't have a copy and it might be in his collected writings.
Remember, John Maynard Keynes successfully and profitably raised pigs; he was no fool. I'll check "Economic Consequences of the Peace," but I suspect the palm oil idiocy was uttered by somebody else--possibly somebody British.
27 years young here.



I agree with getting them while they're young. I recently wrote a peak oil article for a magazine distributed to Geography teachers here in Australlia - it includes lesson plans etc for each article - hopefully a few more people will get the message this way.

I read somewhere that many parents often learn of environmental and similar issues through their kids - educating the kids may have wider spin-off benefits than we expect.

I guess one should not prejudge it, but usually
anything mainstream media do is severely edited
to ensure there is nothing that might frighten
the horses and normally constructed in such a
way as to to provide a very upbeat conclusion  
-usually centred around the need to more for
more investment in drilling or the need to
develop alterntives (usually a promo for the
hydrogen economy which we all know is a total

We had an item on peak oil here in NZ,
broadcast by TVNZ just over a week ago; it
started with dire warnings from Matt Simmons
and ended with the fantasy that NZ could
become the new Dubai of the South Pacific
because the Great Southern Basin could yield
billions of barrels of oil and trillions of
units of gas.

In reality it was just a promo for the
exploration sector hashed together by a
desperate government that is running out of

Needless to say there was not a mention of
EROEI, not a mention of global warming, not a
mention of the shortage of rigs and technical

In the end, the item probably did Peak Oil
Awareness more harm than good, since it
suggested only a happy endings and probably
enhanced the already appalling level of
complacency and delusion amongst the less
informed -which is probably exactly what the
producers intended.  

Meanwhile, many of us speculate whether we
will even get through 2006 unscathed. The
signs are that we will not.

CNN has a story about that poll they took on their front page now:

Poll: Most Americans fear vulnerability of oil supply

Although Americans don't believe the country faces an imminent energy crisis, most believe there are "major problems" --- from potential oil shortages to possible terrorist attacks -- and they are harshly critical of the leadership on the issue from the White House, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.
Leanan - thanks for the link. This is an important poll and points out an important lack of faith in the official government line:
The poll, which was released Wednesday afternoon, also indicates that roughly three out of four Americans -- 77 percent -- fear the supply of oil will not be able to keep up with global demand. Three in 10 said they believe the world will run short of oil within the next 25 years.

That perception is in conflict with forecasts from the Energy Information Agency, the official arm of the U.S. government that keeps energy statistics. The agency estimates that the oil supply will be able to meet the demand, which is expected to skyrocket by 40 percent in the next 20 years --- driven by rising U.S. consumption and booming economies in China and India.

So 3/4 of people agree with the basic assumption of peak oil and does not believe the official government line...we certainly have some fertile ground here...we need to plant more seeds.

Actually, it's worth going to to watch their little video about the poll.

They asked people who's to blame for the "country's energy problems" and here were the results:
49% oil companies
38% Bush administration
31% foreign oil producers
27% u.s. auto industry
25% American consumers

Ahh, the peanut gallery is never to blame.

BTW: does anyone know how Gallup geographically distributes their 1001 respondents? Do they strive for diversity?

They do try for a "representative sample."

But it's getting harder and harder, because so many people refuse to answer the phone or talk to pollsters.  There's also concern that cell phones are skewing the samples.  Pollsters aren't allowed to call cell numbers, and a disproportionate number of young people have no land lines.

Gallup and other major polling organizations are aware of the difficulties in sampling a large and diverse population. They now (and for decades) have used a technique called "stratified random sampling" that enables a smaller sample to give just as good results as a larger truly random sample does. Also, these organizations are aware of nonresponse problems and have ways (not perfect ones) to get around these difficulties.

Ever since 1936 pollsters have been making notable mistakes, and they have learned from each one. It is not cheap or easy to do a valid poll, and it takes expert personnel, but it can be done.

As I see it, the problem is not so much with polls themselves but with politicians misusing the results. For example: "Ah, the public sees oil companies as to blame, therefore I'll bash oil companies to get re-elected!" [and forget that there are fundamental and urgent problems that have nothing to do with the greed of oil companies]

Yeah, that's the real misuse of polls, bashing corporations. Puh-lease!  
Have you noticed that economies dominated by big corporations, such as the U.S., the U.K., and the Netherlands have done far, far, far less environmental damage per capita than have economies dominated by communist or socialist governments such as the U.S.S.R. and China and the former East Germany and Romania?

Or do you prefer to deny reality?

The problem is not the corportations: The problem is our dysfunctional government and political institutions that fail to write and enforce appropriate laws. To bash corporations is merely to find a scapegoat for much more fundamental disorders in our society and culture.

I have noticed that socialist countries like the Netherlands, Canada, etc, have done less damage per kilowatt than State Capitalist countries like Russia and China, even if they have done more damage per capita.
Probably it's because socialist countries are democratic and the voters don'e like seeing what they breath. I remember Los Angeles before Carter. Now we have less pollution despite twice as many people.
You are correct as to your observations about different country. But I question your classifications.

The USSR was "state capitalism"? Here all along I thought the USSR stood for the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics.

Both the Netherlands and Canada are examples of welfare-capitalism, not socialism. Corporations dominate the economies of both of those countries.

Cleaner than Los Angeles "before Carter". Well yes, but probably not really James Earl Carter's doing. (Credit Nixon!!! Negative on that one also.)

Clean Air Act of 1970
public law 91-604
"An Act to amend the Clean Air Act to provide for a more effective program to improve the quality of the Nation's air."
The amendments in 1970 were an entirely rewritten version of the original Clean Air Act. In principle, it was a law that would show excellent results; however, in the midst of environmental enthusiasm throughout the country, the Clean Air Act proved to be a highly ambitious piece of air pollution abatement legislation. It set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), to protect public health and welfare, and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), that strictly regulated emissions of a new source entering an area. Standards were also set for hazardous emissions and emissions from motor vehicles. Funds of $30 million went toward research on the growing problem of noise pollution in larger cities. Also, as a new principle, this Clean Air Act allowed citizens the right to take legal action against anyone or any organization, including the government, who is in violation of the emissions standards.

amendments of 1977
The major debate during the creation of these amendments was that of motor vehicle emissions standards. Ultimately, the deadline to meet them, as well as the deadline to meet the ambient air standards, were extended. [emphasis added] Also at this time, the government made its first attempt to prevent the destruction of stratospheric ozone. This law also modified the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) policy designating regions as one of three different classes. By this time the government realized how ambitious the Clean Air Act of 1970 was; therefore, they passed these amendments to set realistic goals.

From the following which gives a quick overview of national clean air legislation

Let's see, Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and established the EPA, put qoutas into antidiscrimination legislation, got us out of Vietnam, took us off the gold standard, made peace with China and Russia, and even tried price controls.
Best Democratic president we had since FDR.
Sort of like how Clinton was the best Republican president we've had since Teddy Roosevelt.
I wrote: (Credit Nixon!!! Negative on that one also.) Enough said?

I did have a point to make about Saint Carter. If he represented the cure, the disease might be preferable. If Carter's warnings about running out of energy had focussed on what would happen after the turn of the 21st century I would be prepared to give him some credit.

The way it has played out so far, the Carter warnings [although probably well intentioned] have just added to the general public's belief that this time is just another case of crying wolf.

The figures add up to 170% so there must be considerable overlap between categories.
Who's to blame may be the dumbest question in recorderd history.  Are you asking who is to blame for the fact that there is only X amount of oil buried in the earth's structure?  Or are you asking who's to blame for people wanting to use the most effecient source of transporation energy that exists?  Or are you asking who's to blame for the fact that we happen to be living during the time when that fixed amount of oil is coming to its peak level of production?   Or are you asking who's to blame for the fact that if we were to "conserve" oil it might peak out a little later in history and/or allow the developing countries to increase their own use of it, neither event being very meaningful.
"Who's to blame?" was probably the first question ever asked.

The cognitive or linguistic version of prostitution.



Here's a summary of Kevin Phillips' new book about the impending demise of the American Republic, and he says peak oil will be one of the main agents in its collapse. (Phillips is a legendary political strategist who never drank the Bush kool aid.) The whole article, which is extremely good, is over at

"Eventually, like Spain, England and the Netherlands, the United States, shorn of imperial fantasy, may evolve into something better than what it is today. But terrible times seem likely to come first -- years of fuel shortages, foreign aggression, millenarian madness and political demagoguery. A Democratic president could stop exacerbating the country's problems and could reconcile with the rest of the world, but it's unclear how much he or she could really turn things around. America's economic and energy foundations are too badly eroded to be restored anytime soon. Besides, redistricting and the overrepresentation of rural states in the Senate mean that the GOP will remain powerful even if a decisive majority of Americans vote against it. Zealous conservatives in Congress and the media will almost certainly mount an assault on any future Democratic president just as they did on Bill Clinton. Governmental deadlock, as opposed to flagrant recklessness and misrule, is probably the best that can be hoped for, at least for the next few years.

"In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, it was clear to everyone that the United States had suffered a hideous blow, but few had any idea just how bad it was. It didn't occur to most people to wonder whether the country's very core had been seriously damaged; if anything, America had never seemed so united and resolute. Almost five years later, with Bush still in the White House, a whole cavalcade of catastrophes bearing down on us and a lack of political will to address any of them, the scope of Osama bin Laden's triumph is coming sickeningly into focus. He didn't start the country on its march of folly, but he spurred America toward bombastic nationalism, military quagmire and escalating debt, all of which have made its access to the oil controlled by the seething countries of the Middle East ever more precarious. Now the United States is careening down a well-worn road faster than anyone could have imagined."

Phillips is known for his political acumen. If he's this worried, the U.S. has some big problems ...

The problem is not just getting BushCo and its remnants out of office.

Beyond that, it's detoxifying House and Senate of some of the same elements and, above all, continuing to do so with the American populace, while trying to get them to understand not just that the last 5.5 years have been bad, but how willfullly and woefully bad they've been.

I am starting to doubt the times quoted for CNN International - those are probably only valid for Europe.  I pulled up the main CNN page which I have set for International, and they have an ad banner across the top for the program, and they give times:

              Saturday Sunday
Buenos Aires    1900    2100
CET             2300    1800
New Delhi       1730    2230
Hong Kong       2000    2100

And these would be local times.

I get CNN International at home even though I live in the U.S.  I tend to watch it more than regular CNN because I get sick of the coverage of Hollywood gossip and stories about missing white women.  I know I have seen CNN Presents reruns, but I don't remember when.  Part of the time, the news anchors are in Hong Kong, and part of the time they are  from Atlanta.

Maybe it would turn up if you searched Yahoo's TV listings?

OK, I have a confession to make.  I am an idiot.

I took each one of these times, looked up the GMT offset for each one of these locales to convert the times back to GMT.  Guess what - the original times in GMT are just fine and map to one of the two showtimes.

With one exception - Sunday in Buenos Aires doesn't make sense.  They are at GMT-3, so that would mean that the airtime would be 0:00 GMT on Monday.  I cannot help but wonder if they screwed up the graphic with the times on it.  Or maybe there is another airing in the middle of the night or something.

Just as well - in theory that means that I can watch it at 7AM tomorrow morning.

Saturday: 12:00 GMT    22:00 GMT
Sunday:   13:00 GMT    17:00 GMT

You are cracking me up with this stuff. The funny thing is you are going to be so disappointed by whatever you end up watching. You are a regular here. What could CNN possibly teach you about peak oil? You could try I don't know if they have that in for your area. You put in your zip code and you can get your exact cable/package listings. Then just do a search for the program.

I personally don't expect to learn a thing from it.  It is only a question of what the public at large ends up seeing, and I suppose some of it is just something I can point to so people don't think I am a kook.

The listings for CNN International are entirely generic unfortunately.

Presumably within hours of the first broadcast there will be a high quality, advert-stripped .avi floating around via bitTorrent. I'd just wait for that to come out and save yourself headaches over program schedules and having advertising disrupt your viewing pleasure.
The first broadcast was a day early, and entirely unexpected.  I suspect no one who was interested caught it, unless they routinely Tivo CNN, which seems kind of silly.

They are airing it commercial free Sunday night, I think.  For the CNN Classroom thing.  So if you hate commercials and don't want to remove them yourself, that's when to tape it.

Hrmm yes, actually I think its great that they're going to air it commercial free, but I understand that will be in the early morning actually on Monday, like 4am est or something like that.

Well I've added to the chorus on the sonofshun requests forum posting requesting this to be capped. Hopefully one of those guys gets one of the airings today, otherwise I will catch the commercial free broadcast. If I find it online today or early tomorrow I'll be sure to add a comment.

  Peak Oil has even made it into the lexicon of the pages of Value Line, maybe the most respected investment journal in the world other then the Wall Street Journal. The 12/16/05 sector writeup on oil has a section titled "Does The "Peak Oil" Theory Hold Water?". It states:

  "Peak Oil theorists draw substance from the work of a Shell geologist in the 1950s who surmised that oil production in the United States would crest around 1970, which it did. Proponents of this pessimistic scenario hold that a similar high point is nearing for global oil production. Runaway oil prices are, therefore, a distinct possibility if oil production is, in fact, topping out, and particularly if wells in Saudi Arabia were to start running dry."

  They go on to clearly state which side of the peak oil fence they are on; but before we look at that, let's examine their track record on oil.

  1/4/91 Their take was that oil won't stay low in the 90s after coming off a war induced spike (first Gulf war). "...we believe that a 'normal' early 90s per barrel oil price in the mid $20s, rising to the high $20s or low $30s by 1993-95 will prevail". What happened? Oil averaged about $12 '93-'95.
  6/25/99 "We now expect the price of...oil to average $20-$22 by 2002-2004 ...although prospects for oil prices have improved, their heyday appears to be a thing of the past. We're not looking for a return to $25-$30 a barrel crude prices absent military actions" What happened? By '04, oil was in the $30s zooming to the $60s.
  12/20/00 "By mid-decade, we're assuming  oil prices will ease to $24-$25 a barrel." What happened? We're at mid-decade, and oil is so not at $24-$25.
  9/20/02 Their take was that oil would go back to $25 once Saddam's regime was taken out. What happened? After '03, oil went into a strong climb.
  12/16/05 And now, after their description of the peak oil theory above, they boldly state "Our view is that the world is not running out of oil".

  Honest, that's what they said. I actually would be surprised by any other opinion from such a clueless bunch of morons. Mind you this is informed opinion, but they are listening to the wrong people and apparently incapable of any original thinking on their own. While admitting that current production is at or near capacity, they suffer from  the popular delusion that there is so much oil left in the ground, we can solve any shortages if we throw enough technology and money at it. In the peak oil write up, they allude to more tech to "unearth" the crude that's left as if all this remaining petroleum were Easter eggs hidden in a garden with the petroleum business just a big Easter egg hunt.  

Now quote me all those people who correctly predicted that oil prices would fall through the 90s, hit a bottom at the end of the decade, and then rise steeply to approach their all time highs over the next six years? I want to hire them to get me my lottery numbers!
I think Matthew Simmons is your man.  :)
 Simmons made an astute oil pricing forecast at the Offshore Technology Conference clear back in April '01, when almost no one was concerned about oil, and Saudi Arabia was regarded as an ocean of pent-up supply. He said:

  "For years, OPEC maintained massive spare energy capacity ... At its peak, the world's spare daily oil production was probably around 20 million barrels a day. By the time of Desert Storm, "behind the wellhead valve" spare capacity had shrunk to less than 6 million barrels a day but this was sufficient to keep the oil system flowing even with the production from Iraq and Kuwait removed from the market. Today, this cushion is almost gone. And it might be totally over...Saudi's oil minister has publicly warned that it has 1.8 million barrels per day of spare capacity but he also added an important few choice words: "This 1.8 million barrels a day can be brought on in around 90 days." It does not take 90 days to turn a well head valve. And any event that takes 90 days might take far longer or not even work."

  While he did not specifically discuss oil price ranges, the vanishing of spare wellhead capacity implied the start of a large scale climb up from the $25 area governed by how well new drilling and infrastructure projects would keep up with demand climb. And his claim that the spare wellhead capacity was gone was backed up by none other than the Saudi's themselves just 2 years later in a little noticed Dow Jones Newswire of 3/6/03 that read,

  "Saudi Arabia has told Western government and oil officials the kingdom's crude oil output has reached its limit at around 9.2 million barrels per day and won't rise further even with a war looming in Iraq."

Halfin, if you had been a subscriber to Robert Prechter's Global Market Perspective in November 2001 you would have seen his forecast for oil prices to hit at least $60 a barrel about midway between 2000 and 2010.
I wonder what Prechter is predicting now.  
The next time there's a free week at I'll let you know. Sometimes Global Market Perspective is part of the free package and sometimes they cover a long term oil forecast (as they did in November 2001).
Speaking of the Peak Oil idea, it's worth quoting what the reviewer and the guys who made the film OilCrash had to say at Salon
1) Boy, are we in trouble. As I said above, the best movie I saw at SXSW this year was "OilCrash," a terrific work of investigative journalism-as-film that will scare the living crap out of you. Sure, you've read a little about the "peak oil" hypothesis, you disapprove in some theoretical way of the planet's massive (and rapidly worsening) fossil-fuel addiction, you're in favor of alternative energy sources and all that. You may even have the sense that things will get fairly bumpy as we try to develop cheaper solar power or new hydrogen technologies or whatever. Am I right so far? Well, Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack's film paints a vastly grimmer picture than that, and here's the thing. Their sources are not eco-freaks from Vermont or Berkeley in Peruvian clothing, but scientists, financial insiders and retired oil executives, many of them bedrock conservatives. Their message: The era of oil is nearly at an end, and the social and economic consequences are barely imaginable.

"I've been doing TV news for a long time," Gelpke, a Swiss television journalist, told me after the premiere. "I'm not easily impressed. But as soon as I started researching this I could tell it was the most important story I had ever come across." Does his electrifying film, which combines a history of the oil industry's boom and bust with well-informed (if dire) speculation about what lies ahead, paint too bleak a picture? Is it really possible that gasoline will cost $75 a gallon in two decades, and that air travel will become a luxury available only to the super-rich? "It's a call to arms," says McCormack, Gelpke's Irish-born directing partner. "In order to have an impact you have to simplify and dramatize, and I'm prepared to defend that. It's only a depressing story if you're afraid to change."

"We hope we're wrong," adds Gelpke. "Listen, I've got kids and I love cars. I'd like to keep traveling places. Like almost everybody in the film says, I hope we're wrong. But I don't think we're wrong." Whether or not you buy the doomsday scenario of "OilCrash," it's one of the most important films of the year. A distribution deal should soon be announced.

So, at least there's going to be distribution deal so perhaps many other people will be scared out of their wits too.
'Bout that time for Iranian Oil Bourse, eh?
I have little hope it will be presented as anything else but a hypothetical scenario which might happen under extraordinary circumstances. The web page already speaks of a hypothetical confluence of incidents, hurricanes and terrorist attacks. But that's not the point of peak oil. They just don't get it.
There are 3 video clips on the CNN site:

The first is a 5-minute clip with Robert Lutz, vice chairman of GM.  He asked some pointed questions.  Lutz starts out bragging about how their hybrids now get 20MPG.  Sesno shoots back with questions like "Is it good public policy to have cars on the road that get 20 MPG when we could be getting 2-3 times that", and questions about using fuel taxes to try and influence public behavior.  He also asks if they missed the boat on hybrids, such as the Prius, and Lutz does admit that they made a mistake by missing out on that.

The second clip is with Woolsey, and runs about 2 minutes.  He talks about what would happen to the working poor if they had an old beat-up car and had to go 20 miles to get to work with no public transportation options, and how people in this position might have to make stark choices between fuel and food.

The third clip is with Matt Simmons, runs about 2-1/2 minutes, and he is talking about Saudi oil, and so forth.  Sesno asks him about the "worst case", to which Simmons replies that "The worst case is so bad that you don't want to go there".  Sesno says, "go there", to which Simmons starts talking about a series of resource wars that would pit us all against each other.  He also talks a bit about how the Saudis can no longer supply all the oil the world can use.  They talk a bit about China, and how China is just trying to emulate us, and that we should be trying to help then build their economy in a way that doesn't depend upon oil.

In a previous interview with Wolf Blitzer, Sesno mentions that they take a look at hydrogen, and conclude that it is far out in the future, and unlikely to help in the short term.  I gather they also talk about alternative fuels at some point in there.

The clip with Bartlett that was played on the Situation Room more recently was also pretty good.

I could listen again and transcribe, but the full transcripts will come up eventually anyways.  Nowhere in these clips do they talk about the hypothetical case with the hurricanes or the terrorist attack.  My gut tells me that that scenario is really just an introduction to the topic as a whole, and they will quickly get past it.  I suspect that they will start out by defining the problem, and then start looking at potential remedies to see whether they are realistic and/or scalable.  At the moment I am optimistic that we will see the thing as very worthwhile.

The fascinating part of the Lutz clip was that he actually said he could accept very gradually increasing gasoline taxes, if they were used to fix and maintain the Happy Motoring infrastructure.  This tells me that Leanan isn't the only one worried about our infrastructure.  Lutz realizes that even the SUV owners won't drive if the bridges might collapse out from under them.

The scary part is when Lutz said that doubling gas prices are of little consequence to the 100K per year household AKA as the SUV target market.

The scary part is when Lutz said that doubling gas prices are of little consequence to the 100K per year household AKA as the SUV target market.

I guess we know why GM's lunch is being eaten by Toyota.

"I guess we know why GM's lunch is being eaten by Toyota."

Yeah. i'm a first time poster. Anyway something in the Lutz comments struck me too.
He says, 'We researched the cost of developing the the Hybrid and balanced that against the potential revenue and made a purely business decision not to proceed'. (words to that affect)

Um It looks like we/they 'missed the boat' (Lutz says it too!) on a potential concern of Americans. 77% now say oil supply will not keep up with global demand.

Can we as a population be considering a cultural change not based on a purely 'business decision not to proceed' because we anticipate something our car manufacturers don't see as making any economic sense?

After all a lot of car buying has always been about image, right? Now a car builder wants to deride us because our choices aren't purely economically motivated. Maybe we just want to leave a smaller trail of carbon footprints on our way to the less frequent trips to the pump.

Everybody here knows that Lutz can be considered the one human on this planet most responsible for the rise of the SUV, and consequently the demise of the American auto industry. Right?
Isn't that a bit of a stretch?  He was a businessman in the right place at the right time, with an existing product that was the ancestor to the SUV.  The humans most responsible for the rise of the SUV are the ones who allowed a two-tier CAFE structure, or possibly CAFE instead of increased fuel taxes.  Of course, given the fall in gas prices, we would have ended up with land yachts of one form or another.

The fall of the US auto industry is more due to overpaid executives not reading the tea leaves very well than their cash-cow product falling out of favor.  Because of past promises to labor and our ridiculous medical extortion system the US auto industry can't produce small cars in the US at a profit.  They did what they could to make profits from large cars, and it was a good racket while it lasted.

I totally agree with your points. I just cannot find another single human on this planet who represents these "overpaid executives" or businessmen any better than Lutz. And If you look a little deeper into the history of his involvement and the history of his comments regarding all these issues you will see that he sold his soul to the devil a long time ago.

The last time I heard him comment he was talking about how GM's fleet had the best gas-mileage of any American company. I couldn't believe it. There are only two American companies and  whoever is winning might have a 1/2 gallon lead on the other. Not to mention the fact that they trail every other fleet in the world with the exception of Boeing and Caterpillar.

Some of his accomplishments. Lutz worked for Ford and is responsible for the Ford Explorer. He left Ford for Chrysler. He retired from Chrysler. He was hired by GM. One of the first things he did at GM was push the Hummer H2. He is a critic of Global Warming.
You got me there.  I'm only old enough to remember Lutz being the guy at Chrysler that made the Jeep Wagoneer into the Cherokee.  I didn't know about that stint as head of truck operations for Ford.  You're right, he gets the nod for Faustus.

BTW, Wikipedia has a nice chart of the history of the Jeep series of trucks.  It's amazing to think that it was our last brush with oil peaking that nearly exterminated station wagons while making trucks the dominant species on US roads.  The road to oil consumption hell was paved with CAFE intentions.

A great book is Keith Bradsher's 'High and Mighty' all about the history of the SUV, Detroit, and CAFE standards. It should really be on every Peak-Oiler's reading list. Bob makes many appearances. He is quite a character, and definitely a revolutionary at one time in the auto-industry. I just think that he got on the wrong side of history at some point around 1985. He is to cars what Yergin is to oil in many ways.
Hey you, now you are admittedly back in the land of the living, am I going to get that explanatory email? ;-)
I'm going to have to check with the lawyers, but I'll get back to you:)
Fair enough. I don't wish to know names, companies, revealing details, I was more concerned about what was messing you up. You 'feel' a lot better, more relaxed, at home in yourself, now than you did those few weeks back. Hope you are doing well.
I've lurked but never posted for almost a year - finally the discussion about what to tell our kids draws me out:

I say tell them the truth - nobody knows just what will happen.  We run an economy where we live better than kings of ancient times, but the free ride is over and things will become tougher and probably tense.  On the other hand it is still a great big world out there, and it is a nice challenge to be young.  

They don't listen much because young people rarely do.  A dangerous folly, I know, but that's what young people are like.  I save my best serious tone for the speeches I give about drinking and driving, not Peak Oil...  

One day I took a new friend to the Farmer's Market.  It's a half-hour drive since all the close ones close down in the winter.  We were happy to find we both are "into Peak Oil" and so we gassed on about it all the way there and back, pretty much ignoring my twelve year old daughter in the back seat.  Later, it was interesting what she said about overhearing the conversation.  "Dad, you two sounded almost happy about it.  I liked to listen because you for once weren't all pussfaced and lecturing."  It made me think about how many sincere serious speeches a well-raised child is asked to endure in eighteen years...

One lecture I give my peers:  "Plan now to be living with your children for a lot longer than you think.  Launch Failure will be the first major social symptom that well-off Americans have to deal with as things tighten up."  I find that concept makes them think - particularly the ones getting ready to lay out the big money for college tuitions.

Important last paragraph, rshave. Mutual dependence and security become much more important, outside world more hazardous. Your children will depend on you and your local community more and, in time, you will depend more on them. It would be unwise to depend on the state for anything 5 years hence.

I would guess time has just about run out for starting new college courses that last 3 or more years. Certainly in the sense of getting payback in terms of job remuneration. I would advise learning practical skills now. The possibility of non-practical high skilled jobs earning significant money more than 3 years hence is close to nil.

Heard on the radio the other day about people who work in Manhattan but commute from eastern Pennsylvania.
I also wonder what the banks are going to do with tens of millions of foreclosed properties.
Yes, there are really people who do that.  One of my coworkers did, when I worked in NYC.  His house was near Philadelphia.  He drove over three hours each day - each way.

It simply blows my mind what some people are willing to do.  From Philly to NYC and back, every day?  And not even take the train?

Maybe his spouse worked in DC, and they both had a 3 hour commute.

A lot of people in NYC have crazy commutes.  I commuted 2 hours each way while I worked there.  But I took the train.  I paid something like $400 for a monthly commutation pass plus subway tokens, but it was still cheaper than renting an apartment in NYC.

Some people commuted from as far away as Albany...on Amtrak.  It was something like $80 a ticket, so I can only imagine how much money they must have been making to make that worthwhile.

First time poster!

Since seeing 'End of Suburbia' a couple months back I've read all the books, articles, and found TOD.  A few thoughts:

Florida 2000 is a tired old dance and we all know our steps...I cringe when it comes up, so when Mr Sailormon started to comment on Nader I thought "Oh God, this is going to be ugly..." so I was very pleasantly surprised to find a kindred spirit.  Both political parties are beholden to the SAME moneyed interests, BOTH are driving us off a big cliff, just at slightly different speeds...

I have yet to come across a single credible argument AGAINST Peak Oil.  It just can't be made, it seems.

The article on China a couple days ago was very thought provoking.  A key quote: "...We just have to keep the momentum going..."  That pretty much says it all for 'the system' as we practice it.

WTSHTF - What a great expression.  Anyone know where it came from?  Did dairy farmers keep fans in the milking sheds on hot days, only to occasionally have...TSHTF?

I constantly am asking people around me about PO.  Most don't know, some accept, very few seem to get the logical consequences.  The earlier point about 'getting it' versus just accepting it is very true, IMHO.

Are humans rational?  Individually - sometimes, collectively - NO.

A farmer I chatted with over the weekend was totally on board and rather looking forward to PO.  He uses hand-tools, grows lots of food and anticipates the day when human labor and skill are valued appropriately.

More later, thanks for the excellent forum.  

P.S. my education is in science (biology), my experience is marine, agriculture and education.

Welcome. Don is a wise and well educated old bird, smart too, very occasionally irritatingly so, lol. He is always worth listening to.

There are perhaps credible arguments against peak oil but the ones that seem to convince their protagonists seem to be exclusively economic in their basis and ignore any reality beyond economic.

Sounds like a rare farmer you met, there. Did you ask him what his fellow farmers thought?

Thanks, Agric, glad to be here.

Good point, people who deny PO do it at a 'philosophical' level - supply and demand, hidden hand, all that.  Sort of a faith-based denial.

My farmer friend?  I'll have to ask him what some of his cohorts think...

It's interesting to me just to see how people react to the whole PO scenario.  No one knows the future but some are doom-and-gloom, others less so.  I'm personally rather optimistic, about my life, but collectively, not so at all.  I know where to find food, water, good dirt and community.  How many of us can say that?

Two questions:  
1.Peak Oil is mid-point of all recoverable oil.  Peak Oil is ALSO highest production level (amount) per unit time?  Is this just a statistical artifact?  Combining thousands of individual (production) bell-curves gives you one giant bell curve?  Couldn't PO be at 48% or 52% of recoverable reserves?

2.  'Depletion rate' vs. % decline from maximum production level?  Depletion of what's left (annually) vs. how much leaa one produces from one year to the next?  These are linked but a little different?

Thanks, just curious on those couple details.

Unfortunately I am more on the doom side, globally / economically at least. Could be I know a bit more about the future than most or perhaps I am just deluded.

Economics is a strange faith. I've not yet decided how I rate it relative to monotheisms but I hold neither in high regard as faiths (though there are good aspects and truths in parts of both). I don't think either come anywhere near understanding or explaining reality.

If you have "food, water, good dirt and community" then you are blessed indeed, and have every right to feel optimistic, for yourself, anyway.

  1. Peak oil is the time of greatest production. Approximate coincidence with the mid-point of total ever produced oil is incidental. They do, however, seem to be in close proximity. Hence I find Deffeyes argument for 'peak oil' based on half URR being produced on 16th December 2005 somewhat flawed.

  2. Depletion rate can be used / defined in several (at least 3) ways. I don't like the term or concept since it gets twisted by EOR techniques, reserve revaluations etc. Production decline rates are more transparent.

Hot damn.  The program is on now on regular CNN.
I was just going to post that.  It's being run as the second half of "Anderson Cooper 360."
Not bad.  Not bad at all.  He could have asked some tougher questions on ethanol, I think, but all in all, this is a better intro the problem of peak oil than anything else I've seen.

No sign of Roscoe Bartlett.  I thought he was going to appear - I suppose that this is something they had to cut.

At times it seemed a little unfocussed - the program seemed to jump a little bit from one thing to the next.  Then again, given the subject it would be hard to do it differently.

The hurricane/terrorist thing wasn't the main focus fortunately.  They would return to the theme from time to time.

Soon as I saw your posting--I raced to the TV-- caught maybe a half-hour of the show.  Got me juiced up to see the complete program tommorrow.  Did notice that most of the advertisors were oil and car companies.  Hope this early peak help sends ratings much higher for the weekend shows.

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

"Hope this early peak help sends ratings much higher for the weekend shows."

Wow, there's a freudian slip.  :-)

Is it just me, or does this show's description sound like a regurgitation of the one for fX channel's 'Oil Storm' -- you know, the one where a Category 5 hurricane hits New Orleans and wipes out easy-motoring as we knew it?

The thing that urks me about these MSM docudramas is that it's always something or somebody else that causes the havoc. Noooooo, don't blame oil depletion on the driving public, blame it on a hurricane or some other act of the Gods.

Typical nonsense for a public gone soft on brainless consumption I'm afraid. They'll just ignore the message just like everything else they see on TV anyway.

What a waste.

No, it's not a regurgitation of "Oil Storm."  The "outside events" are really minor elements.  The "2009 oil crisis" scenario is just a small part of the documentary. But it was well done, IMO.  It covers the rest of the world without painting them all as our enemies or rivals for oil.  No actual dieoff, but it was sort of implied.  There were shots of starving people in refugee camps, while the narrator said, "Leaders of Third World nations beg for more aid."  

And there's no happy ending. The president of the U.S. signs a bill that enforces conservation and throws billions at alternate energy. There are shortages of heating oil, and no gas to be had. World leaders are in a panic about the global recession. There are shots of empty airports and deserted highways; Americans are staying home for Thanksgiving this year.

The last shot shows a gas pump with an "out" sign on it. The last line is something like, "All the things we hold dear are threatened. And we were warned."

I had a chance to sleep on it.  And then when I got up this morning and flipped on the TV, they were running it again on CNNI....

The one issue that they pussy-footed around is the idea that once we are past the peak, then production will actually decrease from year to year.  They sort of mentioned it, but they implied it would be off in the future somewhere.  There was the mention that we may have already used half of the world's supply, but people who aren't aware of Hubbert's work wouldn't see the significance of that statement.

They very delicately touched on the idea that we might have just passed the peak for worldwide production.

They also had oil industry executives stating that there is no shortage of oil, there is no crisis.  They talk about how the only problem is all of the areas that they cannot drill.  No surprise that they would say this, but aside from Simmons talking about the Saudis, those statements weren't effectively challenged.

Then the question is should they have gone those extra steps?  If you were to give the full story to the general public without any preparation for it, how would they react?  That I don't know.

I think it's probably reasonable to soft-pedal it for mainstream consumption.  And to keep it short.  

Peak oil is a complex issue, and not easily covered in an hour.  But I thought this was a reasonable compromise.  It did gloss over a lot (ethanol was what bugged me the most).  But it was fast-paced and interesting.  I think it's something that people are likely to watch and accept, not least because it's short and a bit simplified.

I think you are right here.  It would take a several-part series to really get into it properly.

Another way to look at it is that they stuck to what we actually know about the world today in 2006, and tried to avoid projections into the future.  We know supplies are currently tight.  We know demand will grow, and we don't know where that supply is coming from.

By doing this, they give less ammunition to those who would wish to try and discredit the thing.

The thing that struck me though is that the clip they played on the Situation Room was with Roscoe Bartlett, and they explicitly mentioned "peak oil".  That part didn't make it into this program.

It will be interesting to see what other people here think about this..

The Chicago  Tribune has this mini-review:

If you don't want to sleep again any time soon, check out this solidly reported, well-researched, semi-terrifying special on what could be America's looming oil crisis. The opening segment imagines a scenario in which a Katrina-like storm has taken out much of Houston's oil-refining capacity and terrorists hit Saudi Arabian oil-shipment ports - all of which experts have said could happen. Correspondent Frank Sesno asks oil expert Matthew Simmons what could happen under those conditions, and Simmons replies, "My worst-case scenario is so bad, you don't want to go there." Think all these predictions are overblown? Well, former CIA head and world-affairs expert James Woolsey, who's interviewed for this special, is driving a hybrid car these days.

I guess they found it scary enough as it is.

If you were to give the full story to the general public without any preparation for it, how would they react?  That I don't know.

First, I haven't seen the show, and am in no real rush to. CNN typically does a poor job on any story in comparison to say, PBS' Frontline. CNN is specifically geared towards the general public.

Can we really consider ourselves seperate/different from the general public. On oil, probably, but in "general," I would be cautious.

For instance, how would I react to the full story on the stem cell research debate? A subject I only know about from the little I've read and what the MSM decides to hurl at me, not much. My reaction probably wouldn't be that far off from what it already is. I don't care enough. In fact now when I think about it, I've followed several lengthy discussions on stem cell research on NPR. I know alot more than I thought. Hey! I still don't care that much. There are several sides to the issue and none seems critical. Most people that seem to care are either coming at it from their religious perspective or have a relative with a rare disease who they feel(hope) would benefit from research funding. So for now I stay on the sidelines and listen to the debate.

Same with Iraq(or any other major international event). Before March of 2003, I guarantee you that most of the people who are so adamant in their views now, could not have found the place on a map, even though we had already fought one war there. It takes an actual crisis or event to get people to look up from whatever else is so important in their lives.

Same with peak oil. I have strong views about oil and peak oil only because I have studied the issue(s) for so long and in such depth and have been one of those who has seen the possiblities that lie ahead and their importance to all human existence. I think we can agree that most regular users of this website fall into this same category, and we most certainly have differing opinions on a whole host of subjects.

You can't really do a news program on oil without interviewing Yergin and the Oil Execs and Saudi Princes and whoever - as well as the Peak-oilers. By the time you are done giving everybody a chance you have no time to get into a real debate.

So the general public is left with another bland summary of the key points interspersed among 20 minutes of ads that leaves one as clueless as before watching.

To get people to react you need much higher gasoline prices, is what it comes down to, again. It's that old Schlesinger saying,"complacency or panic."

The bad news - this show will disappear from sight within a week and only those of us here will remember it. The good news - there will be more like this to come and the story is getting more play, slowly but surely.

Just viewed CNN's We were warned .
As with previous MSM outlets here in Europe it missed the most important points.

Alternatives like hydrogen were presented as promising
Only oils role in transportation was shown(not in food production, modern medicine, potable water, petrochemical industry etc.)

In short they presented it as a problem to be solved by throwing money at it.

Nothing that will wake people up

Let's take a step back when only two years ago the debate amongst peak oil advocates was about why the MSM, the government and corporations were hiding this from the public. This is slowly penetrating the collective culture and the momentum to really begin adaptation to a powered down future has to start with a collective understanding. I do agree that what needs to follow are some painful events to really hammer this home. Even though in a week it will appear it is all forgotten when future disruptions happen it will be easier for people to connect the dots from having seen programs like this even if they are watered down.If we one day start making hard policy decisions like gasoline taxes and mandated effeciencies etc. it will be important that the public is backing it. In two years from today I wonder where we will be? most people, the PO discussion comes down to one fact...."we got a problem with oil"...their eyes will glaze over if you threw them a hubbert linearization graph at them, or other quantitative, it's fine that any message gets out that we "have a problem with oil"...they'll figure out the particulars later on
Well, as I said over on the open thread
I wasn't very impressed.  They made the problem seem like one to be blamed on hurricanes and/or terrorists, when the reality is actually just the reverse...

At the very least, they could have noted that discovery is going down, down, down, deeper than the depths of the GOM they almost giddily showed in high tech.  

Ethanol will save us, tar (oops, sorry, oil)sands will save us,  hydrogen will save us, technology will save us.  

Lo-gan (locally grown organic) food will help, appropriate (per  Amory Lovins) technology will help, passive solar will help.  But programs like this from CNN will not help.

I am fairly new to peak oil, and I found the part of the CNN piece on Brazil to give me hope that sustainable sources of enrgy can be found. Was CNN omitting any problems with regards to Brazils use of sugar cane for ethanol? Is ethanol from corn just as productive as ethanol from sugar cane?
Yes, they were leaving things out.  See this previous Oil Drum thread:

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