Saturday open thread

Don't forget about "We Were Warned" on CNN tonight!
We aren't imagining it: the weather really is getting whackier.  Reality of climate change hits insurers

Neither Tim Wagner nor Mike Kreidler imagined how climate change would intrude into state insurance regulation. Wagner, the director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, said the reality is literally pelting him.

"While you can't correlate it directly, in the Plains states we've had severe droughts," Wagner, 63, said over the telephone. "We've had fires in Texas and Oklahoma. There's a terrible drought in Arizona right now. When we get rain, we seem to get more and more severe hail. I just drove to Kansas City. My nephew is in Iraq and we went to see his family. Our brand-new car got pummeled while it was parked in north Kansas City. We didn't lose any glass, but plastic parts of the car rack and a piece of the bumper was hanging off. I don't think I remember being in a hail storm like that in my lifetime."

How bad is it?

Ceres says that insured losses due to weather have grown 10 times faster than premiums since 1971, and the percentage of total economic losses from catastrophic weather has grown from a "negligible fraction in the 1950s to 25 percent in the past decade."

And speaking of weather...

Gulf platform damage is still being assessed

It's unlikely that the full extent of damage to oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico will be known, let alone repaired, before the start of next hurricane season.

Earlier this month, fewer than half of the 3,050 platforms that were in the paths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had been fully evaluated for damage, said Don Howard, regional supervisor for field operations for the Minerals Management Service.

Check out the "Winds of Change" book, advertised on TOD.  After reading the summary in Fortune, I concluded that I'm not sure it's a good idea to own property anywhere, but especially within a couple of hundred miles of the coast--from Texas to Maine.  
It seems that the actuaries at insurance companies will be the final arbiters of climate change. You can have all the argumentation, both pro and con, going on, but when it hits the financial botom line, that becomes the final word. Making the wrong call on weather for them could put them out of business, if the government doesn't bail them out.
Interesting story from Houston Chronicle about China that seems to contradict itself, at least regarding oil.

...Meanwhile, oil producer PetroChina said it is stepping up exploration of both onshore and offshore oil fields and expects "major breakthroughs" in the next few years, the state-run newspaper China Daily reported Friday...

...Despite its exploration efforts, PetroChina expects its oil output to increase by only 1 percent from 2005 to 2010, to more than 107 million tons (781 million barrels), Hu was quoted as saying. But its gas output is forecast to surge 92 percent from 2005-2010 to 70 billion cubic meters.


I realize that the observation that the MSM, by and large, doesn't want to tell the Peak Oil story is not, shall we say, an original observation.  However, I thought that the way the Dallas Morning News (DMN) handled the recent Boone Pickens story was pretty interesting.    Also, I thought that the week that Khebab and I spent as #1 news sources on Google News was pretty interesting.

The Boone Pickens Story

Last week, buried in the Business Section of the DMN was a brief, cryptic account of a talk that Boone Pickens gave in Oklahoma, where he talked about $5 gasoline.  It sounded like he was talking about a gasoline tax, but the article wasn't' clear.  I did a quick Google search, and I didn't find much additional information.

I didn't get the full story until I logged on to The Oil Drum and found a much more thorough account of the story, posted by Leanan.   It turns out that Mr. Pickens was explicitly advising a Congressman to raise the gasoline tax and cut the Payroll Tax.  I was following the story so closely because I had just written Mr. Pickens a letter a couple of weeks ago asking him to endorse that very idea.

Our Week as a #1 News Source

If you go to Google News, and search under "declining Russian oil production" (without the quotation marks), you will find the article that Khebab and I coauthored on the Energy Bulletin as the #5 listing.  For about a week, we were listed as #1, out of over 4,500 sources that Google indexes.

Why is that?  Why wasn't this article written by any of thousands of real journalists in the world?

I suspect it is because writers, or probably more accurately editors and publishers, aren't asking some questions, because they don't want to hear the answers.

Khebab and I applied the Hubbert Linearization (HL) method to the top four net oil exporters, as discussed in our article.  For those of you who don't study oil issue every day, Russia is a complex case. They had a production collapse, following the collapses of the Soviet Union, followed by a huge rebound in production.   However, if you look at post-1985 cumulative production, Russia is slightly below where they should be, based on HL, and as they get closer to where cumulative production should be, annual year over year growth is slowing, from about 11%, to about 9.5% to 2.7% last year The last monthly number was up only about 1.5% over last year.  Before production starts falling, it stops growing.  BTW, as we predicted in the article, domestic oil consumption is going up in the exporting countries.  For example, car sales in Russia were up 15% in 2005 versus 2004.

As confirmation of this problem we have a quote in our article by the Russian Energy Minister warning that without an immediate exploration effort in frontier areas, Russia is facing the possibility of a "real collapse in production."   Russia is the #2 net oil exporter in the world.

I think this is kind of an important story, don't you?

So again, why was it left to a couple of amateurs to write the story?

BTW, the HL method accurately predicted the 1999 peak in North Sea oil production, when the top 10 majors working the area--using the best engineers and the best data in the world-- were confidently predicting that production would not peak until at least 2010.  Kind of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling of confidence regarding the proclamations of energy abundance by ExxonMobil, et al, doesn't it?

The MSM is under considerable financial pressure, but selective editing--and an outright failure to tell the truth--are going to accelerate the move away from traditional news sources.  I suspect that the MSM is desperate not to upset the status quo "home buying/SUV buying" business model.  Unfortunately, this business model is dying, and nothing will bring it back.  

The MSM is in effect, lashing themselves to a sinking ship.  In the process, they are--in my opinion--in effect engaging in a deliberate attempt to deceive their readers, so that they can sell some more advertising encouraging American consumers to continue buying their $50,000 Hummers to drive to and from their $500,000 mortgages.  Consumers are not going to be happy when the learn that large portions of the MSM have known the truth about finite fossil fuels for a long time, but chose not to inform their readers/viewers.

However, perhaps the CNN story is the start of a crack in the dam holding back a flood of stories about Peak Oil that the MSM can no longer ignore.

Peak oil is hot, hot, hot!

Peak Oil makes for 'Black Monday' at the Movies

It's always fascinating to try to discern the patterns of how Hollywood reflects what's moving in the zeitgeist.

Angst about nuclear power and weapons was transformed into mutant blobs and monsters set on infecting or ingesting the population. Fear of Communism was made flesh in pod-people, who would suddenly act and think differently and subversively, while still looking like their old selves.

So what fear is rising up to the surface of the dark waters of our collective unconscious today, like some Leviathan of the deep? What clammy nightmare jolts people awake in the middle of the night drenched in the sour sweat of panic? Judging from "Black Monday", a new movie that's being rushed into production, it might be sticker-shock at the petrol pump.

They rushed the book and movie into production, probably last fall when oil prices were spiking.

BTW, the HL method accurately predicted the 1999 peak in North Sea oil production, when the top 10 majors working the area--using the best engineers and the best data in the world-- were confidently predicting that production would not peak until at least 2010.  Kind of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling of confidence regarding the proclamations of energy abundance by ExxonMobil, et al, doesn't it?
I've heard this said before, but do you have any citations for it? It would strengthen your argument if you could point to actual quotes saying this.
Thanks; I was looking for old reports or quotes from the conventional analysts who were "confidently" predicting that North Sea oil would not peak until 2010. I wondered if they were really saying that and how confident they were.
In addition to Leanan's link, Simmons was interviewed in the 1/02/06 issue of Barron's making essentially the same point, but he specifically noted that the top 10 majors were predicting a 2010 peak for the North Sea.  

In regard to the North Sea HL plot, I did it myself.  It's a beautiful--perfectly linear--plot, showing a Qt of 60 Gb.  Production peaked at 52% of Qt, and it has been downhill since then.  

My point has been and is that if the engineers can be that wrong about what--compared to Russia--is a piece of cake to evaluate, why can't they be that wrong about Russia?

BTW, my prediction is that Russian oil production will be down in 2006 versus 2005, probably the start of a very severe decline in production.

Re Russian oil production, see the two articles by Leslie Dienes at the following link:

She was not very optimistic about Russia's future production, almost 2 years ago already.

In a January 2, 2006 Barron's interview, Matt Simmons said

Can the Saudis keep their current production where it is for quite a while? That is certainly a likelihood. But there is a real but unquantifiable risk that it starts into the same type of decline we've seen in the North Sea. It is utterly obvious the North Sea oil peaked in 1999. In 1995, after a few hours of analysis, I made a presentation in Aberdeen saying with almost total certainty the North Sea would peak between 1998 and 2000. Yet the 10 major oil companies operating in the North Sea were confident the North Sea would not peak until 2010. They estimated by 2000 the U.K. and Norway would be producing 7.3 million barrels a day: the U.K. at 3.6 million and Norway at 3.7. It turns out in 1999 the U.K. and Norway produced just under 6.1 millions barrels a day, and by this summer they are estimated to be down to about 3.5 million barrels a day. You are talking about the most technically advanced oil companies in the world looking at their own fields and getting mesmerized by modern oil-field technology, and the mesmerization turns out to be a myth.

He doesn't say whether he used the HL method.

So again, why was it left to a couple of amateurs to write the story?

I don't think you are an amateur. If you call youself an "independent petroleum geologist", you have a certain amount of professional credibility.  And this does not mean that the "amateur" label should have a negative stigma attached to it.

On the other hand, I would call someone like myself a complete amateur on the subject.

The State of Texas calls me a licensed geologist, but I was speaking of my status as an amateur journalist.
That's ok, Jesus was a carpenter before his career as a prophet. If I were you I would stay away from "amateur jounalist" and try "eminent authority on oil."
Military's push to turn coal into fuel picking up speed

The Pentagon is trying to persuade investors and the energy industry to embrace an 80-year-old technology to turn coal into liquid fuel to power planes, tanks and other battlefield vehicles.

Officials have been crisscrossing the country, meeting with energy companies and state government officials to sell them on the idea. At the same time, military researchers have been testing fuel produced by the process to make sure it is suitable for military vehicles, especially older ones.

Does anybody else here find it rather odd that the military is getting involved at the level of actually trying to sell private corporations and investors on the idea establishing major coal-to-liquid fuels projects?  

While I would expect the military to be concerned about its fuel supplies, they must surely know that in time of national crisis their fuel requirements would automatically take priority over civilian use. So, regardless of how tight the supply situation got, no one in the military would be left running on empty. That is a certainty.

There must be some other reason. Surely, they wouldn't be doing this without the approval and encouragement from Rumsfeld, et al. Does he (they) have a less than objective interest in promoting coal-to-liquid? Such as a financial stake in some of these ventures?

Or, perhaps there is a less cynical explanation. Maybe some of the top brass feel that the Bush Regime isn't taking the oil situation seriously enough and are using the subject of military fuel supply merely as a vehicle to help bring the oil supply issue to the forefront. Plausible?

I really don't quite know what to make of it.

What is this copmment based on? I followed the link but didn't chase down every single trail. I didn't see anything that indicated that the "military is getting involved at the level of actually trying to sell private corporations and investors on the idea establishing major coal-to-liquid fuels projects".

If you can provide a link to this specific assertion, I'll try to tell you what I make of it.

Ignore my comment above. I thought it referred to the main post and couldn't find the link. I just realized it was a follow up to Leanan's comment. I agree with you that the Pentagon should not be involved in this. Apologies.
To jack: if you were asking about the source of the comment on Military interest in coal to liquids

The reference to US military interest in coal to liquids came originally from the Associated Press.  Being ex military, and hearing canned party lines over and over, I now believe in reading all sources of info.  Therefore I just looked at AlJazeera (a pretty good, interesting news source for a lot of things we never see here in our MSM) and found the story on US military interest in coal to oil under AlJazeera Economy News

I've been thinking about those same questions.

One other random idea is that by playing the coal card publicly we send a signal to oil producers that we might not need them as much as they think we do.

Or that other consumers (China?) need not think we depend on the same overseas oil sources?

But it does seem to indicate that the peak oil meme is rolling along.  Being a moderate, that means I have to second guess myself about how much is a "mania" and how much is based on fundamentals.

I suspect some combination of the following are responsible:

  1. Awareness of PO.
  2. Awareness of PO impact on UK and Indonesia such that the public questions the past export and depletion of scarce resources. Some Brazilian observors have called the export of petroluem an act of treason.
  3. Awareness of Mr Chavez' initiatives which both curb US influence and drive Venzuelan growth to 9%.
  4. Awareness of greater than failure in Iraq. Not only has the US not met its goals of energy security in a "democratic" vassal state, it has resulted in precisely the opposite. It has greatly worsened the US security position rather than enhanced it.
  5. Awareness that the Iraq initiative has greatly impaired America's global standing with all of its prior allies and friends. A nation which espouses a doctrine of pre-emption cannot expect to have friends.
  6. Awareness of the fact that China is willing to pay inflated prices for oil assets in recognition that the US dollar is not a long term robust store of value. Better spend it quick!
  7. Awareness that the physical scarity of energy will be greatly compounded by the political and social forces outlined above, all of which are suggestive of a global market failure.
  8. Awareness of the compounding of the above when the value of the American peso drops to zero, when the required intellectual capital is coming out of Chinese and Indian academies, and all leading edge manufacturing facilities are located outside of the USA.

Be on the lookout for DARPA funding of steam powered F-22s and pedal retrofit kits for the M1A1.
That's a good list.

With the Europeans leading, the USA military is now looking at renewable energy sources (they have been mandated to come up with 2% of energy in the near future). This includes PV and wind at military bases, and hybrid military equipment.

Britain jointly with Sweden have been looking at a hybrid combat vehicle but have not had much success I think because of the weight issue.

Heck, it is smart thinking and good insurance.

Britain jointly with Sweden have been looking at a hybrid combat vehicle but have not had much success I think because of the weight issue.

I have not heard any bad rumours about the prototypes, can you elaborate? The biggest gain is if I have understood it right to not have too design the wehicle around a mechanical drivetrain. Instead it has two smaller diesel engines with generators, accumulators, power electronics and individual electrical engines for each wheel or track sprocket.

But the Swedish requirement is for a shorter 6 wheeled/tracked wehicle and the Brittish a longer 8 wheeled one with a larger payload. and then "New Projects"

We're working on a hybrid combat vehicle, too:

Interesting article at Defense Industry Daily about the things the military is doing to prepare for peak oil.

Check out this solar parking lot at a Navy facility:

Many of the new combat vehicles are hybrids. They found out that they can actually get much more interior space for weapons and soldiers if they go the hybrid route. It has less to do with energy conservation than you would think.
Not to mention the stealth advantages.  It's quiet!
Needs a gun, though, and those vertical sides are an armor-piercing magnet.
You forgot the Spinner Hubcaps!

Good post.

It is my understanding that this program has some issues, but I do not know the details.

Also go to hp

In September 2005, DID offered in-depth coverage of Britain's transformational FRES armored vehicle program. That article has been updated in light of latest release from BAE Systems. They have been awarded contracts by the UK Ministry of Defence for a Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) Chassis Concept Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) related to hybrid engines and based on BAE Hagglunds advanced SEP vehicle, plus a FRES Gap Crossing TDP for combat bridge-laying.

These acquisitions are part of the FRES Integrated Technology Acquisition Programme (ITAP), which is focused on reducing risk around the latest technologies and their integration into FRES. This program is intended to provide the British Army with a family of medium-weight, network-enabled, air-deployable armored vehicles to meet up to 16 roles. FRES is intended to be the central pillar of a capable and highly deployable medium force that will be able to project power rapidly world-wide, complementing the UK's existing heavy and light forces. In this respect, it fills a somewhat similar niche to the USA's Stryker vehicle family, and to the Phase 3 Land Vehicle segment of the USA's $120+ billion Future Combat Systems experiment.

SEP: Modular
(click for descriptions)

The BAE Systems Chassis Concept TDP will build on work done on the successful Swedish SEP program. SEP is a family of modular vehicles, utilizing emerging technologies like hybrid drives and allowing different role modules to be configured with either a wheeled or tracked chassis. The purpose of the TDP is to examine the ability of the electric drive system developed for SEP to meet the requirements of some or all of the envisaged FRES roles.

The BAE Systems Chassis TDP effort will be led from facilities in the UK in close co-operation with BAE Systems colleagues in Sweden, and will be focused primarily on reducing risk to allow a successful transition to the next phase. Note that per our in-depth FRES coverage, the General Dynamics' Advanced Hybrid Electric Drive (AHED) 8×8 vehicle is being used in a similar Chassis Concept TDP.

The BAE Systems Gap Crossing approach is based upon the company's bridging technology and light bridging concepts. With additional support from semi-private British R&D specialists QinetiQ, the TDP will focus on a new light-weight assault bridge based on 2 designs: a stretched version of current technology, and a new design using hybrid materials. Both designs aim to provide better bridge packaging for air transportability, plus fast under-armour deployment, recovery and re-deployment.

BAE Systems is currently the leading provider of equipment and support to the British Army, and is responsible for over 95% of all the armored vehicles currently in service there. They will work closely with the FRES Integrated Project Team and with Atkins, the FRES Systems House (overall program manager and integrator).

In its ancillary comments to editors attached to its corporate release, BAE noted that the awards support the aims that UK MoD has expressed in its recently-published Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) to see BAE Systems Land Systems evolve its business "to bring advanced land systems' technologies, skills and processes into the UK." The firm also sees this contract as:

"...a step along the way of meeting BAE Systems' aspiration to take the leading role in the FRES programme. The company is evolving its land systems business in partnership with the MoD, to ensure it is in the strongest possible position to achieve this. "

Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a report that is dated September, 2005, in which they discussed energy availability and upcoming shortages.  [The quick-read chart is on page 10 and the conclusions begin on page 73.]

Statements included:
"The proved domestic reserve lifetime for natural gas at current consumption rates is about 8.4 yrs. The proved world reserve lifetime for natural gas is about 40 years, but will follow a traditional rise to a peak and then a rapid decline. Domestic oil production peaked in 1970 and continues to decline. Proved domestic reserve lifetime for oil is about 3.4 yrs. World oil production is at or near its peak and current world demand exceeds the supply. Saudi Arabia is considered the bellwether nation for oil production and has not increased production since April 2003. After peak production, supply no longer meets demand, prices and competition increase. World proved reserve lifetime for oil is about 41 years, most of this at a declining availability."

Another area discussed in the report is the use of coal.  90% of coal use today is for electricity generation.  Current lifetime = 255 year supply at current use levels.  If use is increased 1.4% per year that lifetime drops to 109 years.  [2% use increase reduces lifetime to 85 years.] If the military starts gasifying coal for motor fuel, or if it gasified for domestic use, the decrease in lifetime could be very much more significant.  Roscoe Bartlett stated in his interview with CNN this week that gasification and liguifaction of coal for motor fuel will reduce coal's lifetime by roughly another 50 years.

The smokin' gun folks.  The Military had this information last September, long before TSOTU.

This week in it was announced that the "Pentagon will shortly unveil a military-wide conservation plan."  Rumsfeld has initiated a huge program for energy efficiency, conservation, and alternative fuel use across the entire Defense Department.  "A Dec. 14 memo by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, called on the Pentagon to create a "centralized point in the Department" to work on energy conservation."  Here is an the article about that.

Where are the facilities to be located, the Powder River basin? The railroads ability to deliver is already at saturation. They better check in to the power industries ability to deliver electricity to the industries that produce their war material.  Oh: I forgot about rationing.
Very good questions!

I do wonder how quickly production of locomotives and box cars can be increased. Also, does anybody know how long it takes nowadays to train people to operate and maintain rolling stock?

As I sit in my car with my engine turned off and wait for long trains to pass, I often am impressed with how old a lot of the cars and engines appear to be. As we found out during the Second World War, cars and especially locomotives wear out quickly when put to especially hard use. Do we have the mechanics we would need to maintain, say, twice the number of locomotives now operating?

"do wonder how quickly production of locomotives and box cars can be increased. Also, does anybody know how long it takes nowadays to train people to operate and maintain rolling stock?"

One of my old acquaintences was an engineer for the Union Pacific. It took him many years to move up to that position, but even from his perspective [and he was not inclined toward modesty] it was mostly union rules not the complexity of the job. Maintaining locomotives requires very competent mechanics, but I understand that the interval between major overhauls is in the millions of miles ... and the interval is expanding as the oldest in the fleet require more service.

A few years back I went to the B&O railroad museum in Baltimore. There were an large number of very old examples of rolling stock on display. I was curious as to why they were still around to be placed on display [not exactly the kind of thing someone places in their attic], but after reading a lot from the displays it became apparent that a lot of this stuff has a useful life of more than 50 years even without extraordinary efforts to keep them servicable. Even then the stuff was not junk, it just wasn't as good as the latest and greatest. In second line service, who knows it could be used?

In a true post peak environment, the transition between a declining requirement for over the road diesel mechanics and the need for railroad mechanics would seem to the me a natural.

Electric loco are quicker and cheaper to build, simpler to maintain and last about forever.  From memory, the last two electric locos to be retired in the US were from the short line to the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio.  One was built in 1907 from memory.

Alan, I see you point on the advantages. What are the downsides to electrifying long haul rail lines [dependability, or just initial cost of a changeover]?
Ask the Russians who finished electrifying the Trans-Siberian (Moscow to the Pacific) in 2002 and to Murmansk (Artic Port) just before Christmas 2005.  More to come in Russia.

The standard excuse for lack of electrification in the US is property taxes.  No property taxes on diesel (except refueling tanks) but LOTS of property taxes on electrification infrastructure.  I suspect ther eis more to it than that.

Most of Japan & EU (except UK) is already electrified.

I suspect the property tax explanation is a sufficient and correct one, at least in rural areas. Because of hatred of railroads by farmers (who felt and were exploited by monopoly pricing of rates) voters in many areas have a "sock it to the corporations" in general and "sock it to the railroads" in particular attitude when it comes to property tax rates.

Minnesota, generally an outstandingly good state, has long been known as a "tax hell" by businesses, because the politics has been to keep residential rates down while taxing businesses seventeen ways from Sunday, as well as putting on all sorts of "burdensome" environmental and public health constraints. Business people gripe about this "antibusiness environment" endlessly--all the way to the bank.

The fact of the matter is that investment--and lack of investment--is now to a large extent driven by tax considerations.

Are property taxes the only reason for the lack of electrification of US rail lines ?

The national rail lines of Mexico were prepared to elelctrify (some electric locos were already ordered, some catenary supports as well, engineering plans drawn up, etc.) when tehy were auctioned off to several US rail lines.  None of the US rail lines went ahead with the plans.

Reasons "given" ?

Electrification would force a change of locos for freight coming through from US (there is delay at the border anyway, plenty of time IMHO.  Crews typically change there).

Electrification would prevent stacking containers double high.  (Raise the catenary higher, put scissors jack on pantograph).

Hide bound, inflexible US management that did not want the hassle of something new and different.

Pemex sold diesel at a discount for domestic reasons, and electricity would give no price advantage at the time of sale of railroads.  Diesels could also "fill up" just before leaving Mexico and burn cheap Mexican diesel in Texas, California and Arizona.

O.K., property taxes are not a necessary condition to find excuses not to electrify railways--but they can be a sufficient condition.
Hello TODers,

I am fascinated by Duncan's Olduvai Gorge Theory of electrical grid blackouts linked here:

Tanzania is the home of the 'real' Olduvai Gorge: supposedly where we all began, according to Leakey.  I have posted before on the grid problems and 16 hr imposed blackouts, but here is another link for newbies:

Power rationing is starting to get eased in Tanzania, to be reduced from between 16 and 20 hours a day in some areas to 12 hours a day.

The power rationing in the country first caused in October last year by the failure of a transformer, then early this year by the decline of water levels at hydropower reservoirs and lastly by the failure of a natural gas-burning turbine to generate electricity.

Yet local people are fearing that the power rationing may last for quite a while in that the country's two main hydropower plants are still lacking reservoir waters despite the onset of the country's long rainy season last week.

The Kidatu Dam, with a generating capacity of 200 megawatts, is generating only 50 megawatts while the Mtera Dam is managing to generate 11 megawatts out of its capacity of 80 megawatts.

The wealthy are going off-grid by buying generators and lobbying the govt. for tax rebates on their installations, so they are making no contribution to maintaining or enhancing the Grid infrastructure.  The utility company is probably not generating enough revenue to maintain its grid either.  To cover their fixed overhead, they must be charging ever higher rates which prices ever more people off the grid-- they are past the point of diminishing returns to where cascading feedbacks are strongly acting to force grid decline.

Unfortunately, I am not an electrical power engineer, and the amount of info out of Tanzania is extremely limited.  But these trends I outlined seem to indicate that the first place to confirm Duncan's theory might be Olduvai Gorge itself.  How highly ironic!

AZ gets a lot of its power by hydro, some nuclear from the Palo Verde plant, and imports a lot of pipelined energy from TX & CA.  Could our ongoing drought start sending us off the Olduvai Cliff?  Kunstler repeatedly writes how the American Southwest is screwed postPeak.

If the AZ wealthy go to PV off-grid living combined with possibly future hydro-shortages: will the local utilities collapse?  Comments please!

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

"If the AZ wealthy go to PV off-grid living combined with possibly future hydro-shortages: will the local utilities collapse? Comments please!"

This doesn't strike me as a likely scenario. If the grid colapses in Phoenix, a gated community in North Scottsdale isn't going to be a great place to live by any stretch. An inhabitant might as well paint a target on his back.

A couple of off topic comments concerning Phoenix --- I quite like deserts and Phoenix is still a reasonably convenient place to live. Having said that the population boom and the amazing sprawl is killing any appeal it once had for me.

One of the most puzzling things I have seen over the recent past in the Phoenix area is the near total absence of swamp coolers anywhere but in the older slums. Even in neighborhoods where they were once common they seem to be disappearing. "Yes" I know that they can only do so much in terms of cooling and don't work as well when the humidity rises, but a swamp cooler can be used as a first stage at the very least.

The intelligent use of evaporative cooling could drive peak demand for electricity in Phoenix down by a hefty factor. What gives with near universal abandoment of that simple and much less energy intensive technology?

I suspect there are two factors.  

  1.  Real air-conditioning has gotten cheaper.  I think this is a huge issue, albeit one that is little-noticed.  But cheap air-conditioning has propelled people to the humid coasts where only poor people used to live.  A lot more people are living in harm's way now, because of air-conditioning.  It's also eating up natural gas like there's no tomorrow.  

  2. It's gotten hotter.  No, I'm not talking about global warming.  I'm talking about paving.  You use to be able to live in Phoenix without air-conditioning.  You know - hot, but it's a dry heat.  No more.   And the reason is all the pavement and concrete.
Ah yes, the heat island effect. The AZ Republic article that you linked talked mostly to the night time impacts. What asphalt does to the micro climate in the immediate vicinity during the day is obvious and direct.

A few years ago, the official location for measuring temperatures at Phoenix Sky Harbor was moved to make the reading a little cooler than would otherwise have been reported.

The speculation by those who noticed at the time was the public perception of having it a couple of degrees cooler was the motive. I always suspected that it had a lot more to do with the restrictions placed on maximum aircraft takeoff loads based high or hot conditions. The good news is that the FAA charts are fairly conservative. :-)

In environmental studies we called them  Micro-climates.  Any rock or pavement in a city could bring up a bit of a micro-climate change.  I live very near a hill, or mountain as those here abouts like to call them. I get a micro-climate, it rans here more than anywhere else in the city on a regular basis, unless you are up on the sides of the string of mountains heading south from here.  We all get more rain.  

In two months I am moving, and will have to learn a whole new climate,  But the issue for me is I will be moving more into the country than I am now, and Further north.  

Major cities have changed their climates through building, and once great locations aren't so great now, in fact the desert southwest was a great place for lung aliments, and now it is not because of the increase in water use, from pools to grass lawns, to just the mere fact of humans living there in greater numbers.  The meccas that the west once were are becoming the dreaded places of the post peak energy era.

Those that live there, should force changes on their cities and local goverments.

Hello Dan Ur,

Your Quote: "Those that live there, should force changes on their cities and local governments".

That is the hard part--How to do you stop growth?  The best I can do is to WARN THEM locally by email.  I can only hope that many Phoenicians saw the CNN show, "We were Warned".

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

Because of all the golf courses, it is now a wet heat. There is also a significant pollen load that didn't use to be there.
I may wind up in Arizona myself, this winter. Maybe.
Hello RW,

I use swamp-cooling exclusively, but visitors complain during the high-heat, high-humidity 'monsoon season'- cut their visits short.  Many Homeowner Assoc. forbid their installation because they do not like the view of a swamp-box on the roof.  Just more of the delusion so prevalent here in the Southwest.

I have written city officials asking them to build an AZ SPR so that WTSHTF there will be adequate gasoline so that those wishing to leave can fuel-up their autos and get out of town.  This would go a long way to prevent violence versus having millions trapped in the Desert.  No reply, of course.  I am trying my best to WARN THEM!

My greatest fear has to do with the scenario outlined in the CNN show: Houston hit bigtime by a hurricane.  The Pres. would obviously have to order no energy exports out of TX; keep whatever remaining grid & pipeline power instate to repair ASAP the Houston grid & refinery infrasructure.  He would probably mandate the national grid send energy to TX too, if required--leaving Phx out of luck.  I could easily see Phx having 12 hr blackouts while the local energy is sent to help TX, LA next Hurricane Season.

Alternatively, if CA has a severe earthquake: they would not be able to send energy to AZ.  It would be required instate to repair their infrastructure.  Again, the downward trend of cascading feedbacks works to make things ever more precarious.

But the real dilemna for the Southwest is just like Tanzania.  If drought continues from Global Warming forces, then less hydro means less electricity-- making it ever harder to pump less and less water uphill to the Southwest cities, or pump it out of far underground acquifers.  Political blowbacks rapidly scale out of control when people need water.

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

"Alternatively, if CA has a severe earthquake: they would not be able to send energy to AZ. It would be required instate to repair their infrastructure. Again, the downward trend of cascading feedbacks works to make things ever more precarious."

I'm trying to remember, but wasn't there an issue with a pipeline from an out of state refinery [unrelated to any sort of natural disaster] that just about caused Phoenix to run out of gasoline a couple of years ago?

Yes, there was.  It was scary.  People were following fuel trucks at 3am, so they could find the gas station they were delivering to before they were sold out.  

Ruptured line creates gas crunch in Phoenix

Hello Leanan,

Absolutely correct! Those following the tanker-truck would be on the cellphone telling their buddies to come get in line too.  They had a few incidents where so many people were following the bigrigs that the cops were called to run interference so the truckdriver could safely manoeuver into the gas-station to unload!

The non-Peakoil aware have no idea how bad things will get: they will just go nuts.  Think back to the stress of the '70s gas crunch, then multiply by a magnitude.

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

Forget "Mad Max" and variations thereof: When push comes to shove, people know people who can get you the gas. In the seventies, friendly gas-station owners would open inconspicuously for business at midnight to gas up their friends, even though the pumps were covered with the plastic bags prominently saying "Out of Gas." In World War Two gasoline was not rationed to farmers, and many made a lot of money selling gas to urbanites who would drive out on Sundays to fill up their tanks.

People with networks of useful friends and relatives will do all right. Isolated people, helpless people, poor people, those will be shafted even more in the future than now.

Also, we pirates have hidden underground tanks of gasoline with Stabil added to ensure that it does not go bad over the years.

Win friends. Influence people:-)

Don makes a very important point here about the importance of who you know in a post peak world. For anyone who might like to learn from Russia's Soviet and post-Soviet experiences with an economy of shortages I would recommend Alena Ledeneva's 1998 book Russia's Economy of Favours: Blat, Networking and Informal Exchange.

From the introduction:

A Russian phrase "nel'zya, no mozhno" (prohibited but possible) offers a summary understanding of Soviet society with it's all-embracing restrictions and the labyrinth of possibilities around them. In a society in which, according to the Guardian reporter Martin Walker 'nothing is legal, but everything is possible', these possibilities were called blat. Blat is the use of personal networks and informal contacts to obtain goods and services in short supply and to find a way around formal procedures.....Crankshaw referred to it as 'an extremely elaborate and all-pervading old-boys network.
Suppose the worse suddenly comes and Pheonix drivers fill up and hit the road. 350-400 miles down the road they run out but no gas is to be found. Go west and your in hot and dry southern California with tens of millions of other fuelless people. Go east and your stuck in central New Mexico amidst well armed ranchers holding off refugees. Go north and your in the Utah badlands facing paranoid polygamists. Go south and your dealing with corrupt Mexican policemen. What if every other metro area uses your plan? Hungry, thirsty, and facing people fleeing Dallas out of gas on the other side of the road.
Hello Tom,

Good Point!  I remember how when they were evacuating Houston ahead of Hurricane Rita that lots of motorists ran out of fuel before getting to their destinations.  I think the cops & Nat Guard had to shuttle jerry cans of fuels to those stuck beside the road.

If the electricity goes out in an area-- then everyone has to rely on fuel gravity-drained from a tanker-rig -- I haven't seen the old hand-pumped gas-vending machines for years.  Does anyone know if the modern gas pumps can be easily rigged with a hand crank in an blackout emergency to suck the fuel from the underground tanks?  It ought to be a law as we go postPeak!

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

Jerry cans?  They sent tanker trucks full of gasoline.  A lot of people also ended up abandoning their cars at the side of the road, and getting rides with others.
A minor point, but Texas is not connected--for better or worse--to either of the two major national grids.
Hello westexas,

Thxs for the correction-- do you know why?  Does TX have a huge statewide grid, or are all the local utilities standalone operations?  Does TX have plans to join the national grid?

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

Most, but not all of Texas (El Paso & Beaumont not) are part of ERCOT, the grid of Texas.  Technical advantages but the bigger reason is avoiding fed regulation (FERC).

From memory, 600 MW DC link between Houston & Beaumont (Beaumont on Eastern US grid).

Texas ERCOT 60 Hz is not in sync with rest of US.

Does TX have a huge statewide grid, or are all the local utilities standalone operations?  Does TX have plans to join the national grid?

Several Texas utilities set up the Texas Interconnected System (TIS) at the beginning of WWII so that excess power from other parts of the state could be moved to the various industries along the Gulf Coast that were supporting the war effort.  TIS became the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) when the various regional reliability councils were set up around 1968-1970.  Exluding a chunk of the panhandle, yes, Texas is a large interconnected grid.  The Texas grid is also connected to other control areas by DC ties.

It seems to me politically unlikely that ERCOT's grid will be tied any more closely than that to the other interconnects.  Because it is entirely within the state of Texas, ERCOT doesn't fall under control of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and can set more of their own rules.  It's been years since I lived in Texas, but I would be really surprised if they didn't fight like hell to retain their current degree of independence.

Texas kept it's grid separate (IIRC) to avoid federal rules on cost sharing of cheap natural gas power, back when natural gas was cheap. It's just an artifact of politics.
Phoenix is one of the few metropolitan areas I visited in the USA. I wonder what things can happen to people once there is any kind of electricty blackout how R W wrote before. When it is cold it is easier to dress with warmer clothes, but if it is above 100 ° F?
When I was in Phoenix for the second time five years ago, I told my friend about peak oil and how to use and save energy. She said to me, nobody's here interested in this so far. For me it was quite frustrating to see this waste of energy and pristine land.
However there is this strong sunlight. PV becomes cheaper and is a booming market. So maybe in 10 or 15 years this technology will be quite common on valley of the sun.
But I have doubts about the sub- and exurban infrastructure in times adter PO. Even worse is the water problem. Aren't there discussions about a new climate cycle in the american west which will be much more dry than it has been in recent decades?
matthias, berlin (cold and still snow here)
Hello Marotti32,

An untimely summer grid-blackout here would be a disaster like the heat wave that hit Europe a couple of years ago.  If we could not get the old and sick into cool shelter fast enough-- 100,000 could easily succumb to heat related illnesses.  Every year, the local media constantly reports on some person lost in the desert heat, or a infant left in a scorching car-- most die horribly-- found by revolting smell.

PV could be the future savior for maintaining modernity, but you are correct on the water problem.  Climate experts say the Southwest should get hotter and dryer over time--bad news.   The Pentagon published an extensive analysis, but I cannot find the link.  Texas, Oklahoma already suffering extensive fire damage.  AZ has millions and millions of dead trees from Pine Bark beetles and drought, and most are expected to wildfire burn.

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

Jeb Bush promotes ethanol production in Latin America.  Well, those of us with long memories know how food crop / export crop competition has worked out in Latin America in the past.  

Bush also said that Venezuala is on a quiet march to dictatorship....which may be true, but I bet Chavez's government (and his anti-Americanism [really anti-American governmentism]) is more popular in Venezuala than our administration is here.  Here we aren't in a dictatorship but we sure are reaping the benefits of single-party rule: corruption, lack of accountability, rigid ideological positions blocking pragmatic moves, etc.  

I read the earlier Boomer vs Gen x-y-z thread with interest.  I'm an old Gen-Xer, v. 1.0, 38 years old.  I felt I got a really good education, but then my background is in science and I'm engineer, so I really use my degrees.  I hate to generalize about Boomers since they are a diverse group, but I always admired the idealism many of them embraced, and I thought the conversion from that idealism to the materialism of the Reagan era and beyond was a mistake, both for them in terms of personal fulfillment, and for everyone else, since they've consumed and depleted so much.  Fortunately, I was raised by Depression-baby parents who valued creativity more than consuming.  

I am lucky to work with some intelligent and curious young engineers and scientists.  I think young engineers are particularly fortunate, since they will be the ones to build the new transportation and energy structure this country will require.  Some of you would argue that this won't happen, and perhaps it won't, but I believe the political will to do so is growing from day to day.  On the other hand, I have interviewed many young people who, despite being college graduates, can't write, can't analyze problems & set up equations, and can't keep themselves organized.  Unlike most of you, I don't blame the school systems - I see it as the natural result of parents and a society that thinks of education as a credential you buy or spend tax dollars on, rather than an ethic that begins at home.  The universities I think are a bit more culpable - they need to fail more people out, rather than graduating some of the people they do.

The Iran Oil Bourse is scheduled to open in a day or so. Oddly this topic has gone quite here at The Oil Drum. Anyone out there want to explain why the dollar hasn't crashed?

This article in Asia Times brings a bit of logic to the issue of the dollar and the IOB:

This paragraph sums it up:

"Of all the things that could wreck the US dollar - and there are many - the projected Tehran oil bourse, which is tentatively scheduled to open on March 20 to trade Iran's crude and other petroleum products in euros rather than US dollars, is probably not among them."

Jack, I agree

Upon first reading about the IOB, my knee-jerk reaction was to over-react and believe that our(U.S.) options were a plummeting dollar/economy or war w/ Iran. Careful consideration of differing viewpoints expressed on this site helped me to lay those fears to rest.

What DOES keep me up at night(among other things) is the growing fiscal madhouse we have here in the States:
 A ridiculous Military budget, unrestricted growth in Nat'l debt  (I think it's something like $28,000 for every citizen at this point), growing trade deficits, seemingly limitless printing of dollars, gold price a-risin', non-disclosure of M3 stats (may or may not be a realistic indicator anyway). Rebuilding and rehousing and re-employing naturally demolished cities and towns. Cutting money from education, social security, my (unborn) children's future.
I know all of this is somewhat off topic, but somehow remains relevant to, or is a result of peak energy. Is this administration spending like there's no tomorrow because there won't be a tomorrow(at least not one we'd like to see) or is this just economic folly??


Well, since you asked I will repost the theory I posted on the Geopolitics thread.

Speaking of war, Peak Oil, excessive government spending, massive debt--and debt repudiation, I have proposed a Unified Theory of Peak Oil, War and Debt, which is as follows:

(1)  Bush/Cheny were aware of Peak Oil from day one.   One could reasonably draw several  conclusions, but two of them are:  (A)  oil would become far more valuable in the future and (B)  the federal debt will never be repaid.  

(2)  If you know you are going bankrupt, you can:  (A)  pay off the creditors you can and start adjusting to a far simpler way of life or (B)  max out the credit cards and suck in all of the creditors' money you can before filing bankruptcy.  

(3)  Iraq has the best remaining undeveloped oil reserves in the world.  Next door to Iraq are the other two key prizes--Saudi Arabia and Iran.  

(4)  My theory is that Buch/Cheney deliberately wanted to maximize government spending and debt, and to juice the economy in order to suck in all of the foreign capital they could before in effect filing for bankruptcy (or inflating their way out of debt--note that Bush's new Fed chief has talked about "dropping $100 bills from helicopters" to stave off deflation).   In effect, Buch/Cheney could use foreign creditors' money to take over the Middle Eastern oil fields.  

(5)  The net result of this world be that that the foreign creditors would be left with piles of near worthless paper, while the US is in control (courtesy of the foreign creditor's money)  of the real capital--the BTU's in the Middle East.

A repudiation of external US debt would crash the world economy, and that may be part of the plan.  If the world economy is going to crash anyway, why not accelerate the process, provided that Bush/Cheney have control of the oil fields.

Of course, there are several problems.  First and foremost, as Buch/Cheney are realizing,  seizing Iraq is easier than holding Iraq.   However, this theory does seem to fit most of the facts we have.  

BTW, I just started reading "Cobra II", a very good history of the US invasion of Iraq.  Guess what?  The original idea was a very limited invasion of just the southern Iraqi oil fields.   I suppose that they concluded that it would be too obvious, so they went with the WMD story.

One truly frightening thing I have observed is the number of Americans (generally driving large SUV's with "support the troops" bumper stickers) that think that the seizure of the oil fields ia a great idea, i.e., Americans have a God-given right to $50,000 Hummers and $500,000 mortgages.  

In any case, whatcha think of the theory?

It's frightening to even think in such a proto-fascist, machiavellian terms, but it's not like they didn't write everything down first. The project for the New American Century was fairly specific:

Divert Resources to Military: "we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future"

World Policeman: "America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East."

Pre-emptive Military Strikes: "The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire."

Become the new Rome: "we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles"

June 3, 1997
Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, Paul Wolfowitz

West Texas is right on.

The US Empire is in the final throws of it's existence and there are no more domestic bubbles to inflate to generate foreign investment to fund the war machine. Once the U.S. Consumer is tapped out and reaches his debt ceiling the party's over.

Addison Wiggin and Bill Bonner wrote a book called "The Empire of Debt" which gives remarkable insight to this issue. Foreigners are not going to continue to fund the  George and Dick take over the world show forever.  

The Globe and Mail says the Iranian Oil Bourse will not open as scheduled.

Despite repeated reports over the past 18 months or so that the planned bourse would finally open for business on March 20, 2006 -- and go head to head with the New York Mercantile Exchange and the ICE Futures Exchange in London -- the start date has been postponed by at least several months and maybe more than a year.

"In the middle of 2006, we are able to start the bourse," Mohammad Asemipur, special adviser on the project to Iran's Oil Minister, said when reached in Tehran. The plan is to trade petrochemical products first, with a crude oil contract coming last, a rollout that likely will take three years, he said.

Globe and Mail

Oh, no! This means that we're going to have to listen to another six to twelve months of people predicting disaster, and claiming that America will attack Iran in order to prevent the bourse from opening. Up to another year of blowhards spouting off their confident-sounding predictions. Oh, well, if it wasn't this I'm sure they'd find some other hook on which to hang their doomscrying.
I know, I was hoping I'd never hear about Iran again. The funny thing is, it was Jack who brought it up this time.
I know. What was I thinking?
Well, this is my guess. I'm probably wrong, but that is only because I usually am.

You just couldn't wait until the 21st. You are like a kid Christmas Eve. It is not good enough to sit tight and open your stocking in the morning. You must try to sneak downstairs and prove Santa a fraud.

On the flip side, the dollar has already lost strength against the Euro in the last week. Nothing necessarily to worry about, but slightly disturbing. The dollar has been relatively stable for a while. I will have to re-adjust and start looking at currencies. Different game then oil. I'm a little rusty.

Hi I've been lurking for a while. Wanted to comment on the climate "vageries"

I grew up in Tillamook Oregon and either Mr. Kreidler did not live in the NW before the drought or he has chosen to forget the normal state of the PNW weather predrought.

Our local chamber of commerce advertised our town with the saying "The Land of Cheese, Trees and and Ocean Breeze"  Every child knew to add "and water/mud up to your knees".  Flooding was considered a normal winter occurance not a vagery in the weather pattern.

Sometime after the drought(part1) I visited Tillamook and was shocked that someone had built a shopping mall north of town where it always flooded.  The local "Speck"  (Pre-corpratized KFC) was built several feet off the ground and probably seldom if ever flooded.  The Dairy Queen closer to town and not built up got hit all the time.  Farmers were always moving the herds to higher ground.  It was obvious to me that the developers did not grow up there and didn't listen to the locals.  

The climate is probably truly changing but just because you can't remember the last time it was like it is now doesn't mean it wasn't that way or even worse before.

Regarding America sinking deeper and deep in debt, I found myself meditating upon this very subject while at a local store this busy Saturday afternoon, waiting very impatiently in line behind six other people because only one of the registers was open (the new 'service economy' I guess).

Each of the six people in front of me used a credit card, for purchases ranging from about $8 to a max of about $45. Two of the six had their credit cards rejected. No problemo, just pull out another one. I noticed that some of the people has a wallet full of credit cards. The young woman in front of me had an armful of goods in one hand and a credit card in the other. She nervously said to no one in particular, "Gee, I hope this one goes through." I mumbled, "How about trying a novel idea, like cash?" She pretended not to hear me.

When my turn finally came, after about a 10-minute wait, and my blood pressure was probably in the red zone, I paid for my meager $2.98 item with three crisp one-dollar bills. Probably the sales girl's first cash transaction in at least an hour.

Why this trivial little episode bothered me so much, I don't really know. Perhaps it's just a case of 'old-fartism' gradually setting in. Or maybe, it's that nothing seems real or substantial or honest anymore. I'm begining to experience more and more of these feelings lately.

Total US public and private debt divided by GDP is at about 304%, which exceeds what we saw in the depths of the Great Depression.   The ratio exploded in the Thirties because GDP collapsed.  The big problem is the quality of the GDP now.  In the Thirties, the percentage of Americans living off the discretionary income of other Americans was what--10%?  Maybe less than 5%.  

Today, the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans.  For example, instead of going to Las Vegas or Orlando, you could just mail them a check for a few thousand dollars, and it would have the same economic impact.  

Most Americans living paycheck to paycheck aren't being told the truth about Peak Oil by most of the MSM, so they are going deeper into debt, trying to maintain their lifestyles, waiting for food and energy prices to come down (last year was the first time since the Great Depression that we had a negative savings rate).

We are going to see a wrenching change--from an economy focused on providing "wants" to an economy focused on providing "needs."  It ain't going to be pretty.

I can empathize with you, however, just to play Devil's advocate, for a moment, I'd like to ask you a few questions.

  1. What if I may be so bold was the $2.98 item which you purchased?

  2. How did you get to the store?

  3. If you drove to the store, what was the distance of your round trip?

  4. What is the approximate gas-mileage of your vehicle?

  5. What is the price of gasoline in your neck of the woods?
Oil CEO -

Well, since you are interested, here's the answers in the order in which your questions were asked:

  1. A 3-inch wide by 1/16-inch thick by 24 inches long piece of walnut to be used in one of the Victorian style machines that I build for my own amusment.

  2. By car of course.

  3. Approx 10 miles.

  4. In city driving, probably 22 mpg.

  5. Currenty, about $2.30/gal.

I know what you are going to do: you are going to tell me that my $3.98 piece of wood actually cost me $3.98 + $1.04.  OK. So it did. But you forgot about the other errands I made on the same trip. So, you must now allocate the cost of that fuel amongst the other things I bought. Then, I also looked at some things in some other stores but did not buy them. How do you take that into account?

It's really not all that simple.

But this is getting us sidetracked. The point of my original thought was that people are using maxed-out credit cards to make purchases in the range of $10 to $40. And then it suddenly hit me, that so much of our economic system is really ill.

But as I said, it could all just be a bout of 'old-fartism'.

I was just curious, I was hoping that that was the sole purpose of your trip, so that I could rip into you about how you were the problem:) But it was not the case.

I fully understood your original point and I appreciate your taking part in this exercise with me.

I was also hoping the $3.98 item was some piece of plastic crap made in China that Cherenkov is always refering to. But you got me there, too. What exactly is a Victorian style machine?

Thanks, again.

Oil CEO -

What I briefly referred to as 'Victorian style machines' are these orginal mechanical creations that I sometimes make, mostly out of walnut and brass, that have a somewhat Victorian or old-style look to them.

These machines are generally of table top size and are mostly powered by either clockwork springs, weights, or steel balls. Three of them are powerd by Victor rat traps. They have absolutely no function other than to look amusing while working.  One might also refer to them as mechanical sculpture. Some are more complex than others. The only one that is not an original creation is a reproduction of a Wimshurst electrical spark machine.

This is really just an outlet for my natural interst in design and a good outlet for a frustrated engineer who has done far too little interesting engineering during his lifetime. People say I should sell them, but they take too long to make and are very temperamental. Messing around with stuff like this has given me a good appreciation of how hard it is to get even seemingly simply things to work. As with most things, the devil is the details.

If you won't sell them, I would hope you would send photos. When people won't sell it is typically a sign that what they have is good.
Late last year after Katrina/Rita, when gas was $3/gal, I remember reading an alarming report that credit accounts were skyrocketing because folks were buying their gas on credit.

This was happening about the same time that the feds started modifying credit requirements so that credit card holders were supposed to pay higher minimum payments on their outstanding balances each month.  People were struggling to pay the new minimums.

When will America learn that one musn't buy consumables on credit?   Sheeezzzzz!

If one is resigned to an inevitable bankruptcy then consumables should be the ONLY things bought on credit, that way any durable goods can be hidden by buying them with cash. Rip the system.
Remember this article from US News and World Report?

A winter fuel crisis of high prices and shortages could darken homes and factories

Already, the bills are taking their toll. Mervalene Eastman fell behind on her natural-gas payments last winter when a $380 December bill to heat her four-bedroom Montana home rose by more than $100 in January and again in February. Eastman was an emergency dispatcher on the Crow Indian Reservation for more than a decade until medical problems forced her to leave her job. Then an aunt took sick and died, leaving Eastman to care for her 7-year-old son. In the midst of this tragedy, Montana-Dakota Utilities turned off her gas service last May. Now she owes not only back payments but a reconnection fee and a security deposit, which total more than $850. That sum has proved insurmountable. Eastman's teenage daughter goes to her brother's house for hot showers, and the family relies on a couple of space heaters. When it's especially cold at night, Eastman admits that she fires up the electric oven (not a safe practice). "My electric bill is so high, what I've been saving to pay MDU I've been tapping into to pay electric," she says, adding she was grateful for a mild November. "Once January comes, I don't know how I'm going to keep everybody warm."

Eastman's experience is all too common, says Jerry McKim, chief of Iowa's Bureau of Energy Assistance. "These households are carrying significant debt from last winter into this winter--that's something people aren't catching," he says. In Iowa, one of the few states that keep such statistics, overdue utility accounts in October reached a record 221,558, up 5 percent over the previous year. Most northern states have rules against utilities cutting off heat in winter for some customers who are delinquent. But the rules don't help everyone, including many cut off before winter. McKim last week petitioned Iowa officials to enact more protection for households with children. Because shutoffs can begin apace in spring, that's when the true impact of the current shortage may become apparent. "I have equal concerns about what's going to happen this winter and coming out of the winter," says McKim.

Very scary trend.  

She nervously said to no one in particular, "Gee, I hope this one goes through."

There's a tutorial on the net, on how to commit credit card fraud.  One of the things it instructs you to do is to say something like, "I hope this goes through" or "I hope I have enough left on this card."  That way, if the card is rejected, no one will be suspicious.

Me, I use credit cards to pay for almost everything.  It's just more convenient than cash.  Debit cards are a huge security risk, and cash...if that's lost or stolen, you're screwed.  

Joule, are you sure they were credit, and not debit cards?  I use my debit card most of the time - but that is the same as cash, other than the fact that all my transactions can be traced....
Dear USA

I have just seen CNN 'We have been warned' (Sky CNN 10 PM UK time Saturday night)

Is that it?

Is that all you have?

Is the population of the US now so moronic that it can only handle this kind of pap?

The USA still externalises is threats:

'Those naughty Al-Qhaida boys blowing up Saudi kit'
'That irritating global warming that takes out our nice patriotic refineries and mobile offshore drilling units'

(MODUS to those in the business).

Where is the graph? Where is the one thing that shows what humanity faces? You know, that multi coloured peaky thing?

But hey, thats cool, you will just rip up half of Canada
(where you gonna get the water and energy inputs from?)
Or even ETHANOL ('Sheet, if the Brazilians can do it, we can')...

Do you know you are about to start importing food?.

And then you get pictures of 'Easy motoring America' tanking around in two ton trucks for fun.
But 'Ethanol will save you'.

You need to ditch 70 million Tonka toys and replace them with VW Lupos with common rail diesels (70mpg , about 8 feet long). But it wont matter 'cos China wants SUVs as well 'cos they now think this is what says you have 'arrived'. (Any chance we can turn Marketing and Ad-men into solid fuel?)

And that is just the start. Lupos may just get you through the next decade (just).

But so what if you dont make it.

Enough of this rant. It wont do any good anyway. People reading this already know.  

Easter Island writ large.

Enough already.

Bye for a good while. Peak Oil is doing my head in.

Yes, people here already know all about the problems.  And many of us are Americans who are working very hard to help educate the rest about the situation and what can still be done about it.

In the circle I people I know in real life (i.e. not just online), energy awareness is rising rapidly (and not just because of me).  I don't mean they're complaining about gasoline and home heating prices, but a deeper understanding than that.  They're not all wearing Hubbert curve T-shirts, but they're quickly figuring out that the rules of the game are changing at an alarming pace.

It's not as much progress as I'd hoped for, but it's more than I expected.

Do you know you are about to start importing food?

Huh? I thought we had been for like the last 400 years.

Yes. We eat mainly imported foods from out of country. In the Pacific Northwest, when I was young (say 50 years ago) we ate produce like oranges, apples, asparagus, and cauliflower, only when they were "in season". Crab, fish, and mollusks could be had only when available from the coastal fisheries. If it wasn't September or October, beans, beets, carrots, and corn were available only in cans. Now, everything is available just about all the time--and I think everyone on this forum realizes this is because of the availablility of cheap energy used in shipping and storage.

We will import less food in the future, not more. We will also have to relearn home canning. You might even want to stock up on canning jars.

We used Ball brand Mason jars.

Wal-mart and some of the other big ones out there have been pushing for the produce all the time everyday line of thinking for at least 15 years.  It was very odd going from a state of being where you could only get certain things at certain times to getting them all the time.  I have watched this first was love then with disgruntlement.  I now look at product country of origin labelling.  I guess it did not help much working for an International Grocery for several months back in the late 90's  Where almost everything came from overseas.  But we were selling to a class of people from those countries, not to the standard fare.  Now I see the most of the fresh fruit comes from Peru, Chile, and Other places equally distant.  Mutton from New Zealand never frozen,  come on can we say cheap energy!!

And Yes I can, Put up stores through the canning process, and have done so since I was 13, And helped relatives long before that.  But even those processes have limits Knowing how to do it on wood stoves would be great.  

Easter Island writ large.

  good call! we witness the last trees falling
to move yet another monument.......

My first reaction was like yours, that the storm and terrorist motif was pap.  My second thought was that it was necessary to put up something the public would think was at least a plausable near-term cause of an oil crisis.  Just plain running out of the stuff is not believable to most Americans.   And if you get into the Hubbert stuff, forgetaboudit - they'd have to give equal time to Exxon Mobil saying there's plenty of oil - no problem for another 20 years.   And who can prove what's correct?  Even all of us here who think the peak is either past or coming in the next few years are only chosing to believe a theory that can't really be proven except in retrospect.  As we've all said a million times, nobody will know when the peak arrives until a couple of years later.  

So, bottom line, I think CNN did us all a service and probably took the best line they could to have a real impact on the public.  Anyway, as Leanan says, PO is hot, hot, hot.   And as far as I'm concerned Leanan rules.   Who is s/he anyway?

Can anyone answer what I think is a pretty key question about ethanol - what do the Brazilians use to fertilise all those crops? Are they reliant on fossil fuel-based fertilisers or is it really a sustainable option post PO?
Truthful answer to alternate energy sources to fossil fuel is ... some of us surving, our kids and grandkids are in some real trouble.

Just watching CNN before the show tonight. Two ad campaigns are running that are interesting:

Little kids talking about coal as their future

BP talking to people on the street about their carbon footprint

I did the carbon calculator and they only look at carbon from home heating/electricity and transportation. I contribute less than 10% of the average American since I living in a small apartment, buy Con Ed's green power and don't drive at all. Air travel was my biggest contributor.

There's also GM's Think Green Go Yellow campaign, in favor of ethanol.

And pro-nuclear ads - the only solution if you want your kids to have a clean environment and nice technology, at least according to the ads.

We're also getting pro-natural gas ads, paid for by the API.

At least the debate is starting. Except there is no ad for conservation...Free speech isn't exactly "free" on TV. Any chance that we'll see public service announcement for conservation?
Not until there's "regime change" in the White House.

Or until TSHTF, big-time.

I watched "We were warned: tomorrow's oil crisis"

"tomorrow's" may be inaccurate.  Try "today's?"

Truthful answer to alternate energy sources to fossil fuel is ... some of us surviving, our kids and grandkids are in some real trouble.

Kudos to TOD website.  I read it daily but rarely post.
I also watched the CNN presentation "We Were Warned".
I found it interesting that no mention was made of "Coal"
and how it may be used as an energy source.  Comments
I believe the guy advocating coal gas is a Democrat.
"I found it interesting that no mention was made of "Coal" and how it may be used as an energy source. Comments anyone?"

My take as a recent convert from lurking: Coal - Gotta use it. Coal -- Don't really want to use it.

From the Saturday Open thread this comment.

Another area of the report covers the use of coal.  90% of coal used today is for electricity generation.  Reserves lifetime = 255 years supply at current use levels.  If use is increased 1.4% per year that lifetime drops to 109 years.  [2% use increase reduces lifetime to 85 years.] If the military starts gasifying coal for motor fuel, or if it's gasified for domestic use motor fuel, the decrease in lifetime could be much more significant.  Roscoe Bartlett stated in his interview with CNN this week that gasification and liquifaction of coal for motor fuel will reduce coal's lifetime by roughly another 50 years.

It's referenced in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report.  See the charts on page 10 and 11.

Awesome!  Thanks for the link.  
OFF TOPIC! (sorry)

Hello, I'm new on this forum. I've been reading posts here for a few weeks, and finally I registered.

Just want to say something nice about you americans. You are so unbeliavbly friendly against each other. Whenever someone talks about their latest solar cell investment, windmill or something like that, you all tend to say "Good for you", "I'm happy on your behalf" or something like that.

We dont do that in Norway, at least not in the same direct sentence for that.

When THE day come, you'll be (mentally) fine. You have each other :-)

Looking at many of the profound positive and cheering posts, I just cant believe the presidents you elect ;)

You should visit New Orleans (we can always use some Norwegian krona :-)  The comity and helpfulness and civic involvement of the locals is just GREAT !

Unfortunately, the federal gov't is not interested in helping at all.

Well, I agree with Mudlogger that the CNN presents was pap.  Two things really struck me.  There was Sesno marvelling at the technology being used to scan the depths of the GOM for oil - "I feel like I'm under water".  But they never mention the discovery curve.  Is it not just a bit relevant (perhaps too revealing) that in spite of all that technology, we found less oil in 2005 than in any year since WWII, and not much more in '04.  Oh, and then there's the fact that discovery has been declining steadily since the '60's, again in spite of all that incredible technology.  What empty journalism.  "gee whiz, look at all the toys we have!"  Too bad they ain't saving us.

Then there were the images of the tar sands - called, of course, "oil sands".  All that heavy machinery mining grey earth by the megaton, and all Sesno can muster is - "looks like three scoops and you're done".  Not a word of EROEI.  Same for the Brazilian ethanol.  No mention of EROEI, but then, perhaps that's 'cause then they'd have to get into how much worse corn ethanol is than sugarcane, and how useless it is for US "energy independence".  If this is what we're gonna get from the MSM (I was a fool to think otherwise), then we will collectively remain asleep at the wheel.

Right, Clifman, I thought it was mostly pap, too.

I was waiting for Sesno to mention that 4.5 billion barrels were discovered in 2005, and that the world currently uses 30 billion barrels a year.

I wish Ted Turner still ran CNN, it used to be a good network, groudbreaking, really.

At the end of the oil sands segment, he did mention that world demand is expected to increase to 120 million BPD, oil sands won't provide enough, and for that matter in the event of a coup in Saudi Arabia, it won't save our bacon.

There was someone in the program who said that there was 100 billion barrels of oil somewhere in the U.S., but nobody challenged him on it.

Regarding ethanol, they focussed on the cellulosic for the U.S. - they didn't explain why corn had problems, but they implied it by talking about cellulosic.

If you start with the limitations of a 1-hour program, there is only so much that you can get in there.

We the world, living in the begginning stages of "global meltdown" expect world oil use to grow 50%!!!
Sorry, forgot one thing.  I believe that when Mudlogger referred to us "about to start importing food" he was taling about the US becoming a net food importer, which I recall reading somewhere this past week.  Sorry, can't remember where (I read so much alt. media these days...)  But if true, it's just another sign of creaking globalization IMHO.  Lester Brown's been warning us for some time of water depletion both here and elsewhere, esp. China, and that it would soon lead to China becoming a major grain importer, which would create tremendous strain on global markets.  If we're competing with China for depleting oil, water and food... well, you know where we're headed.
I have mixed feelings over watching that piece on CNN (I even convinced a pal to watch it with me on a Saturday night - wow!)

Given the urgency of the problem, on one hand it's a positive thing that CNN is highlighting that a major crisis could happen without too much urging, given the inelasticity of supply. After all, the point is to work towards a new model of society that's less dependant on petroleum. So if it takes the boogeyman of terrorism to scare people towards that, then whatever - by hook or by crook.

But there were many, many problems with the approach they took.

  1. No mention of the catchphrase term "Peak Oil," though it was implied heavily by Simmons. This is important, if only from a branding point of view. The Roscoe Barlett interview earlier this week was actually more explicit here.

  2. Converse to how I started this post, the problem was couched in terms of terrorists attacks/natural disasters, repeated throughout the show. Obvious to anyone here, ultimately such a very plausible event is indicative of the problem, but not the real problem itself. Terrorist attacks are certainly a major X factor in the whole discussion we have here, but any TODer can spot that they put overemphasis on that problem. Which is a scary, scary way to approach it, because it just perpetuates a myopic, jingoistic "The Ay-rabs are stealin' my doggone oil!" view on the situation, and that's the LAST place the world needs to head.

  3. My biggest beef fundamentally though was to explain the problem in the first twenty minutes, and then spend the next forty addressing only the supply side of the issue! Never mind not considering the EROEI of the tar sands, ethanol, or hydrogen. I never in a million years expected them to explore that. It's just too dire for a MSM audience to absorb all in one go - let them chew over the terrorist/hurricane fear for a while.

But what if one part of the program went like this...

cue dramatic music...montage of panic

"The Terrorist scenario would be crippling...but there are people out there already preparing for an America running on less oil just in case the Peak Oil theorists are right..."

cue shot of organic garden/eco-village/local green lefty

...and then go into what THEY are doing, even if Red State America laughs (right now) at these bunch of hippies? One segment on THAT Frank!!! On the demand side!!!

Having worked in journalism before, I know in a microcosmic way what it's like to get a 100% honest story published when you're supported by advertisers who might not like what you are writing. So maybe this was the best story Sesno could get onto Saturday prime time CNN - a "if it bleeds it leads" razzle-dazzle storyline to narrate his documentary.

If so, he's done a...well service of a sort, but I think if he's reading this site and others (which I think he is) he knows full well it was woefully inadequate to addressing the real problem.

One day blogspam will be recognized as the ultimate form of posmodern art...
I always thought spam was steganographic communications to defy traffic analysis. For all we know that was a secret message from the Children's Liberation Front instructing me to...wouldn't you like to know!
Unfortunately for them I've long since joined the L-5 space habitat movement. Too bad.