Responses to Salon & an open thread

Remember the Salon post on our birthday? Well, Crooked Timber has a reply, Ezra Klein thinks Crooked Timber is brilliant, and David Roberts at Gristmill thinks those guys are off their rockers. (Sorry it took me a week to become aware of this—thanks for your post, Dave R.)
The Discovery Channel has a series called "Oil, Sweat, and Rigs," about how the oil industry is dealing with Hurricane Katrina.

There's an episode on tonight.  Starts in about half an hour, at least here in the Eastern Time Zone.

I guess nobody else watched it. Their loss. I'll be tuning in for episode 3 next week. Great stuff. Thanks, Leanan. Roughnecks, Roustabouts, and Toolpushers.
I wonder if Crooked Timber and Ezra Klein have read the conclusions of the Hirsch report.  Its not that we don't have options, its that we may not have the time to implement them.  Their arguments are essentially of the market will take care of everything variety.
Ezra Klein is a smart young guy who writes mostly intelligent posts in the progressive vein.  Why does he suddenly go snotnose and dismissive on peak oil?  In the progressive camp myself, I'm disconcerted at how so many progressives are just not getting it, or worse, like Klein coming up with this defensive foolishness.  
long ago, Ezra let me guest post over there on PO, so this is a relatively new position for him.

they don't want to be wrong, same as the media and the politicians, because they want to maintain their supposed cred.  

they don't want to be wrong [about PO], ... they want to maintain their supposed cred.

So ... better dead than a little less cred?

(And I thought these people knew how to multiply risk against potential gain (or more importantly, against potential loss of our entire way of life).)

Let's see:
a=Risk that PO is wrong= close to zero but still finite
b=Absolute value of loss of cred= close to zero but still finite
c=Absolute value of loss due to being unprepared for PO= Priceless

So according to the econo-heads:
a*b >> (1-a)*c

First off, I've neve talked to Ezra and don't know him from Adam although I realized after looking over his blog that I had linked to several of his published pieces.

From the look and feel of his blog, he looks to me like the type of guy that might land a gig as a policy analyst in D.C. or something along those lines. He's a member of the pundit class, albeit an intelligent one. That archetype of person, be they a reactionary Bill Oreilly blowhard or a progressive with some integrity & intelligence, is as invested in "business as usual" as anybody. Thus acceptance of the logical implication sof Peak Oil (the ultimate non-business as usual scenario) is problematic.

The reationaries can always spin this in their favor quite easily saying something like, "This is why we need to take over the Mid east! You don't want those evil A-rabs to have all the oil, do you?!"



Most of those comments are all about coal. While it is important to keep in mind that Peak Oil will not have that much effect on electricity, at the same time there are big problems in planning to switch to coal as a general substitute for oil.

The biggest one didn't seem to be mentioned clearly. Even if we don't care about the environment, even if we had plenty of water and everything else, there is a limit to how quickly we can ramp up production of coal. It's just like with "green" alternative energy sources, or tar sands, or other alternatives. Oil usage is so enormous that if production starts dropping at 5% per year, we would have to ramp up the alternative source at an unrealistically high rate in order to make up for the lost oil.

Here's a chart from the EIA showing US energy consumption by fuel:

We get twice as much energy from oil as coal (three times as much from oil+gas, which is also threatening to peak soon), so a 5% drop in oil means coal must increase by 10%. Recently coal has been increasing at 1.3%, so we have to increase coal production 8 times faster than projections. That means an enormous investment in new mines, new miners, coal mining tools and technology, etc. And not only production, the infrastructure for transporting it has to be ramped up, as well as whatever technology is going to convert it to oil.

Much of that has a long lead time so it will take years before we could realistically be increasing coal production at that rate. It's an enormous job, and while it can no doubt be done given enough time, if this year is the peak then there is no time. We would have a period of years where oil is decreasing and coal and alternatives are not yet ramping up enough to make up the difference.

This was discussed in detail on this board last year. Maybe somebody can find the links.

Way to go, Halfin, good comment. Education, which is what you're doing here, may save us but probably it will take a SHTF situation. Now if the powers that be would get into gear on this....

And CO2 emissions... Oh My!

By my rough stoichiometry a kilogram of coal becomes something like 3.67 kilograms of CO2. Which would occupy 1867 liters at STP.
That means an enormous investment in new mines, new miners, coal mining tools and technology, etc. And not only production, the infrastructure for transporting it has to be ramped up, as well as whatever technology is going to convert it to oil.

Aaaaaaaaahhhhh! It will be a nightmare trying to replace the oil we need once depletion starts to set in.

On the other hand, we could drive less.

We could drive a lot less. And be happier doing it.

A lot of discussion at TOD reminds me of a super-obese character in the habit of eating daily: 12 buckets of fried chicken, 3 trays of mashed potatoes, 2 gallons of ice cream, half a cow, a bushel of baked beans, 5 cakes, 9 big gulps, and 2 pans of collard greens ... raising a huge hullabaloo because due to reduced circumstances he's going to have to switch to a more sensible diet.

I just don't think we need to use anywhere near the amount of oil we're using. My response to peak oil is "bring it on."

Maybe I'm wrong and we really do need to use that much oil. I'll have to see that with my own eyes (thru events unfolding) to believe it, though.

Your reaction is right on.  Right now coal (and all minerals) are extracted, produced and distributed using a petroleum  power based system.  To ramp up coal extraction for existing uses would require more infrastructure and that would have to compete with other petroleum needs for diminishing oil supplies.  If we are going to use coal for various new products, new infrastructure for extraction, production and distribution of those new products will have to be built.  Again, in the face of declining oil.  It will be impossible to make that happen if we are operating in a post-peak oil world.  My take is that we won't have viable alternatives until they are completely produced and delivered economically using only alternative fuels.
You are right of course. Just switch US over to the European averages for transport and save more than 10% of the world daily oil consumption. Where's the problem? The european way of life is not so bad, some may think better. Ah just a minute though, what does everyone do while you replace 250m cars - even Toyota may struggle with that one. Just possibly the price and availability of steel may marginally hinder the rail track laying on the scale required. The problem is not that US citizens could not live on less oil its the getting from here to there that may be a little taxing.
Yeah, I know it sounds like an obvious and tempting idea, reduce U.S. oil and petrol consumption to European levels and save a lot. I agree it's worth trying, but there are some problems associated with it that one has to keep in mind. Western Europe is substantially smaller than the continental United States and population density is higher and most of us are crowded into big urban areas. I've tried driving long distances across Europe in a small car and a big limosine, and believe me the limosine was preferable. America is a big place and America has enormous suburbs, with highly undeveloped mass transport systems compared to most of Western Europe. Don't get the impression I'm being crital for the sake of it. I just think the whole question is, unfortunately, very complex and requires a great deal of planning, organisation and hard choices.
As many have pointed out, the passenger-miles per gallon nearly doubles if the number of commuters per car doubles.  The saddest part of watching the gridlock every work day in any city is not just the number of gas guzzlers, but that most of them have a single occupant.

There was a time when companies provided vans and fostered commuter pools. That mind-set will return once the price/scarcity of gasoline gets critical.

The bad news is that the US is extremely profligate; the good news - at least for a while - is that we can cut back on waste without too great a hit on lifestyle.

The question is whether we will use the time these waste-cutting measures give to mitigate - as Hirsch puts it - the PO crunch.

Big Stone Plant Doesn't Have Enough Coal
It produces power everyday for three companies, but over the past week that output has dropped. The Big Stone power plant in Big Stone City has scaled back output to 75 percent of it's capacity, because of a shrinking coal pile.

The Big Stone power plant usually has an emergency stockpile of 200 thousand tons of coal. But it was a much smaller pile Monday, and those who work at the Big Stone plant say they haven't seen a situation this serious in a while.

Plant Manager Jeff Endrizzi says, "Nothing like this where it's an extended period and we don't see an end in sight as it sits today."

The Big Stone plant runs almost completely on coal. And right now, the plant only has 10 days worth of coal stockpiled, compared to the 30 days it usually has on hand. Coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin is in high demand because it is low-sulfur.,46855

Off topic, I guess, but is there actually a place called Big Stone City? Gives me an idea: let's pass a constitutional amendment to rename the United States "Big Stupid Country."
While here in America we do have the ability to change our government via amendments, I don't think that one will pass.  I have an idea, why don't you go to the Congo or Somalia, or the Balkans. All of them are very nice this time of year and you won't be troubled with "stupid" neighbors.  Sure you may be killed or raped or torture or even forced into slavery but you won't have to endure names like Big Stone City.  Good luck in your travels.

here you can get a passport in 24 hours...bye bye now.

The problem with the "status quo forever" cultists like Crooked Timber is that they fail to understand some fairly simple points which make the coal solution implausible:

(1)  We do not need to maintain current rates of production, but we would need to GROW production, every year, year in and year out.  Which means doubling consumption after a known period of time (depending on the average rate of growth).  If rates of energy consumption flatlined forever, we would be in permanent recession (with massive annual dieoff worldwide, given current birth rates world wide).  The planet cannot have more people and more economic growth every year with flat energy inputs (even with increased intensity as has been the case for the US for some time)

(2) As Halfin points out, we would not need to just continue with current INCREASING rates of coal consumption, we would need to ACCELERATE it, to make up for the loss in energy from declining rates of oil and gas production.

(3)  Useable energy is more concentrated in oil than in coal [I am not sure I am saying this correctly], so to get those useable BTU's from coal to replace BTU's lost from oil and gas ain't no easy trick.

(3) Jevon's paradox remains in effect.  The per capita rate of energy consumption in North America has been essentially flat for decades, yet our individual use of energy is much more complex today than it was thirty years ago.  We have made great strides in the efficiency of individual consumer products, but we made up for those savings by using more consumer products rather than less energy per person (we now have people with land line phones, cell-phones, pagers, blackberries, and a laptop -- thirty years ago, land lines were all that was practical).  Add population growth to the problem, and well, we have quite a problem don't we...

(4) North Americans live in low-density, unsustainable, suburban dorms and are ABSOLUTELY dependent upon cars for survival (enough said).

The problems we face are tremendous, much, much bigger than the health care crisis.  THAT really is an easy problem to fix. Unlike health care, people do not understand the energy basics.  There is a SEVERE lack of understanding of the basics I outline above.  This misunderstanding drives a lot of the silly, ignorant responses of Crooked Timber and others.

Peak Gas will have a significant affect on electricity, first its price and later it's availibility in California and the Northeast.
I'm with David Roberts.  CrookTimber is just bizarre:

The increase in the cost of health care, for example, is much more significant than anything that has happened to oil or is likely to happen. Where do the Peak Oil crowed get their predictions of disaster?


But most Americans would probably agree with that.  They just don't understand that energy is different.  

Arrrrrrgh indeed! But after reading your post for about the third time, something just struck me:

In POLITICAL terms, health care is going to be a much bigger issue than the fallout from peak oil, because when it comes to financing health care there are few obvious scapegoats except the tired old big pharma companies and maybe some evil HMOs. Thus the tried and true method of scapegoating will not work for, e.g. the huge generational conflict to come over financing Medicare.

By way of contrast, look at all the scapegoats we have to blame for high energy prices:
1. God, because of all those hurricanes hitting GOM, etc.
2. The Evil Arab terrorists for sitting on all that oil.
3. The Jewish conspiracy of financial manipulators.
4. Illegal immigrants.
5. The Chinese for being so numerous and having the gall to want to drive cars.
6. India for having so many very smart people working to work for lower wages than we do.
7. The Russians, for not producing more oil and gas.
8. The French, just on general principles;-)
9. The Republicans, for screwing everything up.
10. The Democrats, for screwing everything up.
11. Ralph Nader for giving us GWB.
12. Lazy welfare types for creating the budget deficit and sucking out resources we need to deal with energy problems.
13. The wealthy for doing well while the rest of us are screwed.
14. The religious right for preaching the coming Apocalypse and being right for the wrong reasons.
15. The media for blowing things all out of proportion and thereby creating the crisis.

Thus, Peak Oil is a demagogue's dream come true.

And, in the weirdest of ways, the idea that health care is a "bigger" issue (combined with the impossibility of keeping promises of retirement income for Baby Boomers) is actually correct, insofar as it is likely to be the number one perceived cause of social conflict over the next twenty years.

Let me explain why people compare health care costs with energy. Right now, the U.S. is spending about 8.5% of GDP on energy (source). At the same time, we are spending 15.3% of GDP on health care, and it is expected to reach 18.7% in ten years (source). So we are spending almost twice as much on health care as on energy. Further, health care costs have been growing as % of GDP: in 1980 it was only 9.1% (source); while energy costs as a % of GDP have generally been declining over time (except maybe for the last couple of years).

So the reasoning here is that if the economy could weather a multi-decade increase in health care costs, it could similarly handle an increase in energy costs. Of course, this assumes that energy will grow in cost at a moderate rate as health care has done. The danger I see is that a production shortage could cause an energy price spike, which would be much worse than what has happened with health care.

I know why they do it.  Because they don't understand that energy is different.  It's the base of the economy.  If energy skyrockets, not only does the cost of gas and heating oil does the cost of food, roads, water, airplanes, education, nuclear power plants...and health care.  
Exxon Mobile has released a report suggesting that there is enough oil to meet increasing worldwide demand until at least 2030 -- any thoughts on this? ok05/index.html

they have so much money that they can afford misspelled domain names.

(take the space out of the above link, and it works):

The Professor's point being that it was not Mobile Oil, but Mobil Oil; and it's not, it's Apparently they registered both names.
do you believe this:

This is hilarious, if it weren't so tragic:
"In order to develop the most comprehensive and accurate outlook, we incorporate the views of organizations such as the International Energy Association and the U.S. Department of Energy"
Wow.  Look at the Asia Pacific.  Am I correct in reading that as ~ 350 million new vehicles in the AP by 2030?  Guess we'll need all that new oil production they predict.  (:

If the Indian and Chinese middle class totals 600 million, 350 million new vehicles over the next 25 years doesn't sound at all out of line.  It may even be a low estimate.

Those 600 million middle class people exceed the total population of the US by a factor of 2.  Unlike Americans, however, the Chinese have a 46% savings rate.  What else will they spend all their spare cash on?  Well, maybe the odd North American resource company or two, and a few US treasury notes, but a new car or two is definitely in the picture.  

Hello Porsena,

I would recommend the Chinese spend every bit of their savings on PV panels, reforestation, windmills, protecting other lifeforms and their natural habitats, massive anti-pollution abatement, more urban transit and less cars, a huge education program on Dieoff and a proper voluntary birth control program, and a simply massive scale superinsulation program for housing.  Otherwise, they are headed for disaster.

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

Chinese leadership right now is trying to move the citizenry quickly (before the population begins to age rapidly) towards a more "consumptive" model a la the US rather than just an exporter of cheap goods...very difficult to accomplish but with their ability to focus on this purpose, they may be successful to their ultimate detriment.
I have no doubt asian demand will call for that number of light vehicle, however I see no reason why they would let Gasoline car dominate the increase. The green chart should level off similair to the american or why not the european?
Compare another expanding infrastructure: Lots of asian bypass line telephones and go directly for cellular.

And maybe we can be even more optimistic, currently 10%+ of Swedish new car registration are either on ethanol, hybrid or biogas/CNG, promising steeper curves than the above.

Recession and scarcity of metals etc. is another issue...

Re:  Watching the Import Numbers

Last week,  average daily oil imports into the US rebounded slightly to 10.1 mbpd, but the average for March, 2006 (9.9 mbpd) was down about 4% from the average for March, 2005 (10.3 mbpd).  

There is always the possibility of statistical variations, but the concerns that Khebab and I have about net export capacity are based on the Hubbert Linearization (HL) method--which accurately predicted 99% of the post-1970 Lower 48 oil production.    Therefore, if the HL method is screaming problems ahead for net export capacity, and if average daily imports into the US for March are down 4%, year over year, I think that we need to sit up and take notice.

I predict explosive increases in oil prices.

The "Export Land" Model:

 A critical point to keep in mind is that an exporter can only export what is left after domestic consumption is satisfied. Consider a simple example, a country producing 2.0 mbpd, consuming 1.0 mbpd and therefore exporting 1.0 mbpd. Let's assume a 25% drop in production over a six year period (which we have seen in the North Sea, which by the way peaked at 52% of Qt) and let's assume a 10% increase in domestic consumption. Production would be 1.5 mbpd. Consumption would be 1.1 mbpd. Net exports would be production (1.5 mbpd) less consumption (1.1 mbpd) = 0.4 mbpd. Therefore, because of a 25% drop in production and because of a 10% increase in domestic consumption, net oil exports from our hypothetical net exporter dropped by 60%, from 1.0 mbpd to 0.4 mbpd, over a six year period.

Note that car sales in Russia are up 15% year over year.

yeah, I mentioned this is in an old open thread...I got a comment in at the CT post by Quiggs at #42 or something...and someone else had already referred to TOD much earlier in the comment box.  

sorry Yankee...I should something sooner.  DR couldn't be more right though.

This is off topic but since this is an open thread, I'm putting this here.

Jeff Masters has information on Tropical Cyclone Glenda, a storm off western Australia that is Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale:

We've got a truly exceptional Category 5 tropical cyclone in the waters off of the Western Australia coast to discuss. ... A central pressure of 898 mb is the lowest pressure ever estimated for a Southern Hemisphere cyclone, at least that I could find record of. Reliable records go back to the 1980s. ... Two weeks after suffering an estimated $1 billion in damage from Cyclone Larry, Australia must brace for another strike from a major hurricane. The region of Western Australia likely to be threatened by Glenda is not heavily populated, but is home to many important mining, oil, and gas operations. ... Oil and gas operations are already shutting down as Australia battens down again. Glenda is in a very favorable environment for continued intensification.
So does anybody know exactly what "important oil and gas operations" are in the region? My hunch is that this isn't quite the same thing as a Cat 5 hurricane in the GOM.
Bloomberg has more detailed information. It looks like 147,000 bpd are shut in in a region that produces about 260,000 bpd.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
   I find this site extremely interesting, I found it while searching for rooftop panels.  But I find it frustrating that so many really good discussions are here and not in the public.  Let me make an analogy to religion:
   I awesome young minister who is full of energy and enthusiasm rivets his 200 person congregation every sunday.  He leads them all to salvation 200 souls saved.  (mind you this is a metaphor not my personal idea of religon)  200 souls saved. miniscule


   200 (or more) highly motivated young and old people from all walks of life make specific goals to communicate outside of the church and explain to the Evil Sinners their bad ways.  Mind you they are selling a product, throwing guilt and accusations does not work.  The new believers do the same.  Exponential growth.

   I had to drive a driller from my rig to a hospital yesterday and while filling up my gas tank he commented "Wow 55$"  I said yep gas prices are a mother.  We gat back in the truck and I asked him how long he had been a driller (6 months was his answer) and what else he was trained for.  He told me this was his only career or experience.  I then asked him what he would do after the oilfields dried up and a long PO convesration to which he was very receptive followed.  This guy makes 80k a year with no formal education and a few years OJT.  I talked more about my Kyocera solar panels and when we got back I downloaded home plans for him.

   There is a lot of rhetoric and hot wind on this site. There is a lot of good information too.  But every one of us needs to take an Evangelical approach to spreading the PO message.  Don't be hostile to the SUV drivers, explain how they can save money in a hybrid.  Help your friends and family become thriftier with energy.  Try not to put people on the defensive or link PO to other topics (religon, veganism, War) that will put off your message and close their ears.  Dialogue on all these subjects is good but if it is only between us nothing happens.  If you want to save the world you are going to need a lot of help.  That is enough feel good talk out of me (way out of character)

Energy and entropy. Here's some thoughts:

What do we use energy for? Well, aside from heating and moving ourselves around, we use it to move stuff around. Take metals. Metals exist in ore, and the ore has been deposited in concentrations around the globe. On the moon or dead planets, various metals are not separated out. That'why any idea of mining the moon is a non-starter. Geological processes have bequeathed us these ores in exploitable concentrations just as with hydrocarbons.

So we are using a major part of our energy bequest to randomize other resources, to increase resource entropy. It will be far more expensive energy-wise to re-concentrate these resources than it was to mine them initially. And we will not have that energy.

This is why the high-tech, highly capital-intensive solutions to peak oil compound the disaster, not mitigate it. The disaster is not just the using up of a finite resource -- the disaster is also what we are using it up for! Now in regard to climate change this is aleady well-recognized. But the metals part of it hadn't been clear in my mind until recently, when I started reading about metals shortages.

Nuclear is the very worst in this regard. All the materials used there are beyond even recycling on any timescale meaningful to humanity. But in all respects we are entropizing our environment.

Nature is capable of restoring everything given enough time. But these time scale are a bit too long for us. The changes that pre-industrial humans made to the environment, while considerable, were changes that nature could sustain within meaningful time frames because it was usually biological processes that were involved.

Industrial man reaches far beyond the biological resource base -- minerals and metals -- and these are recycled on a far longer time scale.

An afterthought: Hydrocarbons are used for energy, but also as a base for many other materials and products. So in this sense, they are entropized as well as the entropizer. This entropizing is intertwined with the other materials they combine with, and those materials also go down the sink-hole. Hydrocarbons are the escort so to speak.

I've can resist ending with a suggestion: that we rename our system the "free entropize system".

On the moon or dead planets, various metals are not separated out. That'why any idea of mining the moon is a non-starter.

The moons surface is loaded with Nickel/Iron meteorites and a good portion of the surface geology is aluminum. Solar powered robots with metal detectors could easily rove out collecting fragments. Solar furnaces could process the metal.  We need to fix our problems on the blue marble first but every rock has potential.

Have you read any about the space elevator? That combined with rectenna fields would be a huge source of energy.

I cannot find it now, but it was posted on Slashdot awhile back.  Apparently, there's some asteroid that is known to be absolutely packed of heavy and precious metals.  Tons of the stuff.  Apparently, at current market prices, it contains about $10 trillion of materials.  And, it's going to swing close to Earth in around 20 years.

Here's my plan, and I think we should all come together as a community and work on it:
We'll build a robotic lander and rocket.  On the next shot we have, we'll shoot the rocket at the asteroid.  Using a nuclear propulsion method, the lander will accelerate to half the speed of light and land on the asteroid where it will plant a flag claiming it for The Oil Drum, Inc.  (We will have to set someone towards designing the logo for the flag ASAP)  And then, the world economy will come crashing down as it tries to figure out how to suddenly incorporate $10 trillion in new wealth.

Viola!  Peak Oil adverted (for at least a couple decades.)

I think the one of the largest tragedies of a Die-Off Peak Oil scenario is that it will more than likely prevent humans from escaping the Earth and spreading out across the universe, or at least delay it by thousands and thousands of years.  As a couple people have noted, my username comes from the Ender's Game series, which I adore because of it explores the idea of a multiworld humanity, and does so in a very rich way.  I also love it because it has great geopolitical and philosophical tones, but I disgress.

Then again, that's probably me just expressing the biological tendency towards speciocentricity (or whatever one would call it).  Regardless of the intelligence question, we sure as hell can spread like yeast.  

Spread across the universe? ... We humans do not even know how to make it alive to Mars. The cosmic rays will kill us.
Yea, but if we could continue past the Oil Age, maybe we could figure out how to make it to Mars in 30 years, make it to other solar systems in 100 years, etc.  I'm not saying that if we made it to 2011, then by 2012 I could be chilling out on a tropical planet orbiting Vega.
I'm basing what I say on J.D. MacDougall, A SHORT HISTORY OF PLANET EARTH, p. 240. He says "All of the necessary elements are present on the moon, it is true, but their extraction would require enormous amounts of energy. In contrast with the situation on the Earth, geologic processes on the moon have not, for the most part, acted to form mineral deposits as we know them." He goes on to explain how the concentration mechanisms on earth depend on water, etc.

So while it may be true that there are some minerals on the surface (I don't know) due to meteor deposition, it doesn't seem that the full gamut of minerals on earth are going to be recoverable on the moon. We're not even talking about the energy needed to transport them.

A company here in Dallas--I suppose that they may be nationwide--called Admobile has employees driving endless trips to nowhere in rolling billboards.  The only purpose for the fuel use is advertising.  
I've confirmed at least three sightings in San Antonio.  I always wanted to blow them up with a bazooka when I see them.  
Hey someone else lives here in the capital of ignorance...have not seen these vehicles myself, but would prefer not to b/c of the inevitable higher blood pressure it would cause.
Here's a metals link I found interesting in regard to the above:

I think that by extracting metals from ore, we are organizing nature, not randomizing it.  Overall entropy increases, because of the high quality energy expended in the process, but the metal part of the entropy decreases.
Since we concentrate ore into metals, we are making it easier for our descendants to access metal.  Metals are durable elements that are generally 100% recyclable.  As world population goes down post Peak, the per capita amount of available metals will probably reach an all time high. Right now, I can collect more aluminum in a 5 minute walk along the roadway than a person from 200 years ago was likely to see in a lifetime.  I can melt down those cans for a tenth of the energy cost it took to smelt the ore originally.
Nuclear is alot better than combustion for energy.  All the entropizing is done at the subnuclear level, while we get to use the released energy to arrange our macroscopic lives, apparently decreasing entropy. As for recycling, we could usefully "burn" all of the really long-lived isotopes through reprocessing and fast neutron reactors, leaving waste that cools quickly. In a sense, every atom of everyone and everything on Earth has been reused and recycled after going through an incredibly intense nuclear furnace (the supernova that created the elements heavier than helium).
This is why the high-tech, highly capital-intensive solutions to peak oil compound the disaster, not mitigate it.

Yup.  Greer and Tainter are essentially making a thermodynamic argument with their theories of societal collapse.

Insightful comment...had not thought of it that way before.
How many remember Greg Vaux's analysis of Peak Coal for the Department of Energy?  I don't know if this was ever publically released, but he did write a summary here:

As this is an Open Thread I'll ask this here.

At the weekend I caught a re-run of the movie "Witness".

It got me thinking about the Amish people and PO.

Are the Amish people living sustainably? Are all their raw materials derived within their community, or do they still rely on, say, iron and steel from the 'outside world'?  Do they grow/process the cotton to make their own clothes, for example?  Will they really be largely unaffected by the aftermath of PO?

I'm not advocating that we all run off and join them, I'm just curious.

Some interesting information about the Amish from last week:

Richard Heinberg had a bit about them in Powerdown. Basically, they're much better off as far as sustainability is concerned except one biggie: their population levles. Their culture is based on each woman having way more than 2 kids.

A not-half bad reality televisioin show about young Amish during the "rumspringa" time:

I saw some videos of the participants. The six Amish kids were so much more tolerable than the six pretentious city brats they had on the show.



Re: Amish

I live in southeastern PA. Last year I went to a 'mud sale' in Lancaster County. It was quite a show. There were several thousand Amish and about 200 'outlanders,' including me. I recall being bemused by seeing that every single Amish in attendance was wearing (black, of course) double-knit polyester clothing. The only thing cotton is used for, apparently, is to make quilts, largely for 'export'.

My impression is that the Amish in SE PA are rather more integrated into the local capitalist economy that you might suppose.

The Amish are not nearly as independent of modern society as many people think.  They are not allowed to be connected to the grid, but they can and do use batteries, generators, power lawnmowers, tractors, kerosene appliances, etc.  They can't own cars, but they can borrow or hire them.  They use the same modern healthcare system everyone else does.  And they get a lot of their income from selling things to outsiders.

There was recently a story in the news about an Amish hacker.  A teenage boy dug up the neighbor's phone line and hacked into it, so he could call relatives who had moved to another state.  He apparently didn't know his neighbor would be charged for the long-distance calls.

I don't know the answers to your questions, but I do remember that Wendell Berry wrote some essays about Amish agricultural practices. Some in The Unsettling of America, I think -- a very marvelous book in any case.
The article struck me as a reaction to the pessimist, Defcon 1/2, Doomer, Die-off contingent.  They are definitely part of the Peak Oil community, and to a newcomer, they might seem to be the Peak Oil community.

One can understand why the pessmists are active in these discussions.  If you believe Peak Oil is the most dangerous and immediate problem you face, your are going to put a lot of energy into it.

Unfortunately, that becomes the image of the movement, rather than something like the Hirsch report.

My "Fossil Fuel Continuum" Post
(skip it, if you have seen it before)

Fossil fuels can be viewed as a continuum, from natural gas, to natural gas liquids, to condensate, to light sweet crude to heavy sour crude to bitumen to coal.

This is a progression from gas, to liquid to solid.  It is also a progression from cleanest (natural gas) to dirtiest (coal).  

The world wants Liquid Transportation Fuels (LTF's).   We can obtain LTF's for the least expenditure of capital and energy from light sweet crude.  There is little doubt that light sweet crude production has peaked.  

With enough capital and energy, we can make LTF's from any fossil fuel source, and massive efforts are being made to keep the supply of LTF's growing by moving to the endpoints (natural gas and coal).  

A key point to keep in mind is that all types of fossil fuels  (with the exception of kerogen, a precursor to bitumen) are currently being commercially produced.  So, all we are talking about is increasing our rate of use of our remaining fossil fuel resources, in a futile attempt to maintain the Great American Lifestyle of driving 50 mile roundtrips in $50,000 Urban Assault Vehicles to and from $500,000 mortgages.

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." -Kenneth Boulding  

Chasing after the ever illusive LTF's (Liquid Transport Fuels) is part of the Great Spiral of life:
I was very disappointed to read Ezra Klein's one  note dismissal of peak oil in which he relied on the CT post.  Klein is one of the young progressive bloggers that I have been appreciating over the last year or so.  Very good on a number of issues.   So why is he suddenly an uninformed snotnose on PO?  And proud of it?
Think about it from a point of inclusive fitness. Being aligned with us doommongers and extremists is, in most cases, not good for one's inclusive fitness.



I said this above too, Geo...long ago, Ezra let me guest post over there on PO, so this is a relatively new position for him.

they don't want to be wrong, same as the media and the politicians, because they want to maintain their supposed cred.

Re:  The Net Export Question & Norway

A Hubbert Linearization (HL) analysis that Khebab did indicated that the top four net oil exporters are collectively well past the 50% of Qt mark, and thus primed for a fall in production.  

My thesis is that net oil exports are going to fall far more dramatically that total world production because the top four net oil exporters are so mature and because of increasing domestic demand.  I had always ignored the possibility of increased demand in Norway (focusing instead on increasing domestic demand in Saudi Arabia; Russia and Iran), but following is an interesting news item on Norway:

"Futures prices for the North Sea's Brent crude rose in London by 59 cents a barrel to USD 64.20. Norway's economy has been booming for the past year because of high oil prices."

I predict that a 50% decline in net oil export capacity is a hell of a lot closer than most of us think.

I have argued this point with you before. Norway is a capitalist economy and its internal oil consumers have to compete on the market like everyone else. They do not get "priority" for Norwegian oil. Hence a booming Norwegian economy has no more relevance for worldwide oil prices than a booming economy everywhere else.

As for the other countries: Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, my feeling is that they are generally eager to export oil in order to gain capital and participate in international trade. It is their major source of income and I suspect that most of those countries would rather cut off the local peasantry than their big international customers.

The bottom line is that as oil supply decreases, its price increases, and producers give up more by consuming it rather than selling it. This is the factor which I believe will keep exports up even as internal production declines.

Although I don't agree with the rather cavalier position of Crooked Timber and Ezra Klein, at an emotional level I do resonate somewhat with what they are saying.  The extreme die-off segment of the peak oil movement, the ones who dismiss without thought that any solutions are possible at all, are both actively embarrassing to be associated with and I think moderately harmful to the acceptance by the larger society that there is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with.  I think it's that segment that these guys are reacting to.

I'm part of the "die off" wing. Here's why: I follow the money and right now it's pretty straightforward:

Trillions of $$$ to oil, natural gas, oil wars, SUVS, Mcmanisons, and encouraging people to buy more useless crap made from fossil fuels

Billions of $$$ to getting off of oil/natural gas, away from war, away from the car and mindless consumption etc. . .

"X" amount going to creative ways to peaceably and reasonably respond to energy depletion/shortages.

"1,000 X" amount going to creative ways to kill off rivals in response to energy depletion/shortages.

I know we had this conversation before (dieoff versus finding solutions/responses) and I'm not looking to rehash it but if following the money embarrasses you, that's a shame. It's probably the single best way to evaluate a person, family, or nation: look at what they spend their money on. I can't with a straight face tell people things have a chance of getting better on a societal/national/global scale after looking at the flow of money throughout the world.



And this is why I have problems with how American-centric much of the Peak Oil debate is.

Instead, track the euros in Germany or Spain. Notice what it isn't being bought - weapons - and notice where money is flowing - wind farms, solar, and the industrial infrastructure to support them. And of course, in the case of Germany, exporting such equipment/technology worldwide.

True, Germany remains quite wedded to fossil fuels, but it seems to remain the democratic will that nuclear power be phased out - while being replaced by the engineered solutions being examined and implemented now and over the next 10-20 years. And yes, this does mean that lifestyles will have to change - that too is part of the planning, after all, and part of what people here voted for.

Because America seems utterly unable to take care of its problems doesn't mean the entire world is as incompetent or incapable of surviving.

As noted before here - living without oil is normal in almost all currently existing societies apart from America's.

Pain and suffering and death? What is new about that?

Die-off? Well, most people living on this planet are unlikely to simply croak because a few Americans think that the end of fast food is a sign of the end of industrial civilization.

Do I agree that America is likely to suffer at least as greatly as the South by the end of the Civil War? Sure. Do I think America=world? Not me, but hey, don't let me correct someone living in a fairly small part of the world, with a fairly small part of the human race.

I utterly agree on following how a society uses money - if you were a touch more insightful, you might understand how pathological American society truly has become. Even better than the classic ratio of 3% population/25% percent resource use, try 3% population/50% of humanity's military expenditures. (Wonder if any TOD modeller has any insightful way to graph that insanity.)

That America is a very unhealthy culture is pretty much a commonplace for most of humanity by this point, regardless of the lens used to view it, whether secular EU societies or fundamentalist Islamic ones. Notice how South America seems to be rejecting most aspects of the American model, one carefully nurtured for a half-generation by outsiders working in various international financial organizations.  

Whether the America as fatal cancer metaphor is useful for discussions here is truly another point.

Accepting the possibility of die-off in an attempt to avoid or mitigate it (what, do you think the Chinese don't know about mass starvation in living memory?) is one thing. Seeming to embrace it as unavoidable destiny for humanity is something quite different.

But then, the real American century opened with the words "I am become death: the destroyer of worlds." So, maybe it isn't quite a surprise that Americans seem so obsessed with mass death. Or that they even seem to wish for it, whether as retribution for evil stupidity in a die-off, or as reward for Christian faith in the Rapture. That 6.3 billion people aren't likely able to understand either of those belief systems could be considered an indicator of mass delusion - think carefully about whose.  

"I utterly agree on following how a society uses money - if you were a touch more insightful, you might understand how pathological American society truly has become."


I DO understand how pathological we've become. The world is a world of fossil fuel energy addicts. We here in the states are the biggest addicts and we got the biggest guns and many of us believe it's God's will for us to use them.

As far as embracing or wishing for the Die-off, I do not. Don't imply that I do. You did that last time we got into this discussion. The only other commentator who insists that I want a dieoff does that is John Denver over at Peak OIl Debunked.



I think part of the problem when dealing with die-off is the fact that while a number of unpleasant truths need facing, a certain basic split seems to exist between those who feel many billions of human beings dying is unavoidable (from my memory of visiting your site several years ago, that was one of the things you found most striking about peak oil and most important to spread broadly as a message) and those who don't.

It is fair to say you do not wish to cause it, and it is equally fair to say you do not look forward to it in any sense - I believe you. Forgive the hyperbole and at times extreme style. But at the same time, people who disagree with the die-off thesis in the broad sense, at least in connection with peak oil, are not simply sticking their heads in the sand hoping for a technological wonder, or avoiding unpleasant truths.

America is really, truly, not the center of humanity. And I liked the point about following the depletion rate, and not the money, at least at this blog, in another comment.

This is not to quibble, exactly, but when you write 'The world is a world of fossil fuel energy addicts' it to me has about the same ring as saying the world is full of clean water addicts. People have actually never had that much clean water, and clean water is in some ways a more modern feature of our societies than fossil fuels. Even more interesting, likely billions of people don't have access to clean water, and surprisingly, they haven't yet died-off. And yes, this is meant as a tossed off example, not a rigorous argument.

And a point about taking as a God given right - Iraqi oil production doesn't seem to have increased through grabbing it using weapons, which seems to have escaped attention in the U.S. War is good for destroying things - that was the point about the American century beginning with the first atomic bomb - a truism most other societies seem to grasp without difficulty. (It remains my personal conviction that humanity survived the Cold War without nuclear war because the Soviet leadership knew what such a war would mean from personal experience - not because of any American virtue or strength.)

I will try to avoid any personal imputation that you wish or would like to hasten what appears to be humanity's seemingly inevitable die-off, without abandoning the point that this position may not be a very accurate reflection of what will happen over the next several decades in regards to peak oil. As for jokers wild - climate change is a real possibility for die-off, and the link between climate change and fossil fuels is reasonable to discuss. Actually, I am a very pessimistic person, and the death of a billion or two people over the next decade or two is likely unavoidable - a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India would likely be good for several hundred million by itself. But this is not the same as a die-off, and is not all that connected to peak oil.

You may notice that another person you have had this discussion with on TOD also seems to come from somewhere other than America.

People growing up or living in places where humanity has existed - often in the same buildings - for centuries, with all the plagues, famines, and wars throughout that time, tend to be a bit less easy to convince about how less oil equals inevitable mass death. You can pretty easily convince them that life will be pretty miserable, though, full of hunger, coldness, and pain - after all, that is what 1945 looked like pretty much in all of Europe.

Reality based thinking based on reality, so to speak. Perhaps especially when living in places where mass insanity seemed to grip a society two generations ago. People are certainly capable of great evil, but that too is not really a peak oil discussion.  

Added note -
I noticed the points about LMS versus powerdown. If you look at Germany, France, and Japan, all three have made fascinating strides in very high speed electric rail/mag-lev. Very high tech, and quite possible to see as sustainable infrastructure (electric powered transportation based on electrically smelted recycled metal tends to get past that fossil fuel addiction neatly, at least in theory) for at least the next generation. The original German ICEs are being refurbished after 15 years of service, and a normal passenger car seems to have a service life of 40 or more years - and the high speed rail network in Europe has been spreading for years. Americans could place an order for any of these products easily. The only problem, they need to be paid for - and remember, Germans won't take slightly used nuclear carrier battle groups, or low mileage tanks or airplanes in trade, I'm afraid.

I don't actually believe much in LMS or Powerdown. I think the world in 2 decades will look a lot like today's (allowing for such facts as having a lot more bicycles and less cars, for example, and a hell of a lot less plastic wrap) - successful industrial civilizations that can adjust to the real world will continue to sit at the top of the pile. Germany certainly intends to, and yes, they are doing the engineering and building now to live in a world not addicted to fossil fuels - we can certainly discuss whether it is enough, or possible to scale to billions of people - and no, the Germans are not wasting much money or engineering talent on weapons. And the world's poor will simply get poorer again. To me, the biggest difference will be seen in America - there, visions of almost unlimited doom are quite plausible. The problem comes when applying these visions to the broader world.

The fact that the world's largest fossil fuel user is poised to become a net food importer is an example of the sort of truth that Americans still don't see - the world is very unlikely to starve if America isn't there to feed the hungry - after all, America can't even seem to feed itself any longer, and this fact isn't leading to food riots anywhere else. (And yes, another non-rigorous argument - kcal values versus statistics measured in dollars, etc.)  

In a way, saying the ship is sinking without actually talking to the crew is the sort of metaphorical approach which much of those who see die-off coming engage in. Whether the pumps can handle the inrushing water before the ship can be beached, whether the listing can be balanced,   or whether it is time to abandon ship are not ones easily answered by the passengers on deck - and sure, living in a society with its bush league at the top is no reason for optimism - for that tiny fraction of humanity in America. To be boring - America is not the center of the world the way Americans keep telling themselves it is. Really, billions of human beings do not wake and start every day thinking about America. Or care what is happening to GM.

And I really doubt that in 10 years, America will still be consuming 25% of the world's resources. But we can likely agree that it will feel like the end of the world within the U.S. while that reduction happens.

I hate to write a comment basically saying 'I agree', but I think it's true.

Following the peak oil debate, a lot is concentrated around how the US would fare after the peak. But there are many other people in this world, just as rich as the average american, but without the maxed out credit cart and the Mcmansion or the SUV 15 mpg.

Quite a number of countries are very actively taking measures how to mitigate PO. But this seems to be completely ignored by american authors. As a simple example: By far most europeans would think: '3$ a gallon? I buy the hummer right now!'. Gas is 6$ a gallon in europe.

Maybe my post is not very insightfull, but it seems to me to become clear that americans really, truly, hopelessly and deliberately lack any insight in how the rest of the world operates. And that is 97% of the people.

Well, just my 2c's, ignore it if it makes you laugh.

Thanks. You know what is really strange? I am American, and every time I write things like this, Americans instantly assume I am German, and am shoving smug European values in their face.

Bizarre. And in a way, a possibly frightening indicator of something potentially lurking too close to the surface of American society these days. Another indicator to me is what is often written about die-off, seen from an American context. The rest of the world is attempting to deal with the looming problems and challenges, and too many enlightened Americans just seem to do nothing but point out that the only option is to plan for a comfortable retreat while 4 or 5 billion or 6 billion people die. That these people aren't actually planning on that and working to avoid it seems to be hard to grasp for Americans, somehow (I mean, China's one birth policy was just one example of a society reading the demographics and drawing conclusions). They seem to think these people are victims of a delusion, before they just become victims. Very strange.

I just don't remember these reflexive reactions from the 80s, and it seems to have started maybe after Clinton's election - I was baffled at the amount of hatred in public discourse concerning the new president and his wife at the time. Not that I had any problem with contempt for a draft-dodging slimeball (America has now had the tragedy of having two wretched presidents with two terms each), but this isn't quite the same as calling for their painful death, or gleefully selling videos proving them murderers.

But this is straying from the topic.

I'm aware of all that, but I personally concentrate on the Amercian effects because that is the society that I'd like to see change.  Well, us and China.

The old tag line about Amercians having two states (complacency and panic) repeats itself.  If you want your fellow Americans to choose a moderate course between the two, you've got to talk about that.

So I don't know ... some mornings I type about the average oblivous behavior of American consumers, and other mornings I type about the excessive pessimism of the dieoff folks.

And if anyone wants to share stories of moderate responses throughout the rest of the world, that's more than fine with me.  That's wonderful.

When people talk about "billions" of people dying, they are obviously not talking about the U.S. or Europe.  There's only about a billion people between North America and Europe combined.  If we all died, it wouldn't be "billions."

If "billions" die, it will be in Asia, Africa, Latin America.  Places that are already feeling the oil crunch.  

And we have a winner :) Expat, let me express my delight in reading your comments.

For those obsessed with the non-negotiatable American way of life, I can suggest just one - travel. Go around do world, see other countries, live other types of living. The world did not start because of USA and its highways and will not end because of them.

Yes for some people here the coming head-on crash with reality may very well seem like an Armageddon. But for the rest of the world it will be (or already is) very rewarding to watch us tangling in our delusions, I believe. My only concern is that the moral undergrowns in this country have also control over a military machine capable of destroying the world several times... and this is what we'll have to deal with in the years to come, IMO.

However I can not help to mention the responsibility of the West, in the face of Western Europe, Japan and others who effectively created and supported USA in its way to what it has become now. We needed someone to "guard" us against the third world we are all jointly plundering of its resources. And now we (Europeans) are disgustingly pointing out from our moral tower - "Look what have you become". No guys, we both went down this road and if you want something to fundamentally change we have to both find a way to undo it. This is such a bright history repeating episode - didn't we create Nazi Germany the very same way? Of course I hope I'm wrong with the history parallel, but what if I'm right?

In regards to Europe being able to survive PO...

I really hope that you realize the reason European countries tend not to spend as much money on defense is because the US is basically subsidizing the Western European world's defense, right?  Like it or not, the reason you can afford to spend less on defense is because any potential enemies you have know that outright going to war with you would immediately bring the US out to arms, in the form of troops and weapons aid.  The US and Europe have been bickering alot recently, but we're still civilizational allies and we will still defend each other in war.  

As far as being able to survive without oil, yes, you may be correct saying you could perhaps transition in an easier sense, but you won't be able to because all of Europe's economy is sealed with concrete to the US's and as US growth is dragged down by more expensive oil, so will your guy's growth.  And you don't have nearly as much wiggle room there as we do.  I hate to go all American neoimperial talk on Europe, as I appreciate your concerns, but you should really check who your friends are.

The only region of the world who will probably not feel the effects of PO is Africa, and only because suffering is so common place there that it will be just more of the same.  And that is the real legacy and tragedy of Western European civilization's period of hegemony.  

Who is the US defending Europe against, Descolada? Do we have 700 military bases in 35 foreign countries in order to "defend ourselves"?
I'm not making moral judgements here.  I'm not saying that what's loosely defined as "The West" is better than other civilizations.  I'm just saying that the incredibly likely scenario if there were another world war over resources, Europe and the US would be natural allies.  That's not a longshot.  And currently, the US is subsidizing their defense spending by doing the heavy lifting on R&D and by maintaining things like bases across the world.  

It's folly to think of Europe as somehow "enlightened" about war and less militaristic than the US.  While they may feign that attitude, I haven't seen the UK or France disarm their nuclear contingencies.

As noted before here - living without oil is normal in almost all currently existing societies apart from America's.

Huh?  What is fuelling all those German cars racing down the autobahn at stratospheric speeds?

Expat, as an American I'll rip on the American way of life with the best of them, but your attitude is typical of a certain segment of world citizens and thinkers (I don't know where you are from, it doesn't matter). It goes like this:

"The American way of life is bad and Americans are smug bastards. Europeans have found a better way, therefore, things are just fine."

So the average energy footprint of a European is what, 50% less than that of an American? So what? Not to mock that because it really is a fantastic thing, but if oil supplies become spotty Europe is going to have convulsions pretty similar to those in the US. If you're starving you're going to kill your fellow man over food the same way an American will. We're all human in the same way.

I just got back from a weeklong vacation in London. If you believe Europeans live qualitatively different lives than Americans, expat, then I think you need to examine your own delusions. Who do you think created this country? The mind boggles.

As noted before here - living without oil is normal in almost all currently existing societies apart from America's.

I somehow missed this "point" on my first read of your comment - having read it now, I'm not sure why I wasted my time with this reply.

Trying to avoid another essay -

I need to refine the comment about the majority of the world's societies and oil - most societies predate the industrial use of coal, oil, and electricity. Essentially, American society is the only one that grew up during the Industrial Revolution - and the only one that seems to believe that this way of life is normal, and no other way is imaginable.

I have read that 1/3 of Germany's diesel fuel (comment from Mercedes VP, ca. 2004 - Berlin ASPO conference?) comes from non-crude sources. In other words, a not trivial percent of the fuel for those zippy 40-50 mpg turbo diesel, particulate filter cars is actually not quite fossil fuel.

The point about energy footprint isn't quite what I mean - see the comment about travelling to truly different societies. People can walk/bicycle to the farms or the markets to buy food which is grown around them - just like they did 100 years ago. Europe too seems to have a certain Kunstlerian attachment to previous investment - they haven't thrown away the chance for their societies to 'powerdown' to survival mode in terms of such simple things as local farming and cities which can survive without cars - after all, even 'new' German cities like Karlsruhe or Mannheim are a couple of centuries old. This is why, at least in terms of a die-off scenario, Europe is likely to return to living like it did 100 years ago - and they get to keep the electric trains/streetcars, the doctors, and clean water as a bonus.

Do I think people live differently in Europe? Sure, I have thought that since 1982. And quite honestly, though this deserves a UK TOD thread, Britian is not Europe in this case - the British lived like Americans for a generation off the North Sea, and sort of like America's housing bubble, a dazed bewilderment is setting in now that the party is ending.

But in Germany, I see the PV arrays going in on the roofs - simple profit motive there - and the 8" foam insulation being attached to the exterior walls of normal houses (the hemp grown around here is used by a company called Thermohanf to make insulation panels - yes, I can even imagine insulating roofs without much in the way of fossil fuels, since I can buy such today), wood being harvested for heating, more turbines being installed on the Rhine, and the wind farms being planned/built offshore, and quite honestly, it doesn't seem all that hard to plan and invest in a world where cheap oil doesn't exist. That is, if people actually do it. And notice, this would all seem to be bad for business, from an American perspective. No wonder only moribund socialist societies would force such obviously economically counterproductive restrictions on itself. Better to build exurbs with strip malls, since this is what makes America great (in Germany, Wal-Mart is certain that this year, for the first time, they won't lose money here).

And as for an American perspective which will likely only grow more strident - hasn't anybody in the U.S. noticed how many people worldwide don't want 'protection?' Except somehow, regardless, they get it anyways - like the Iraqis,  or the Columbians. And what wonderful places they are to live and work, too. German opposition to the Iraq invasion was actually pretty pragmatic - invading another country to control its resources is not very practical, based on previous experience. And look, oil production has gone down, deaths has gone up - just what anyone with experience in this would expect. Like Germany's.

Though this may be hard to understand in America, and is certainly subject to change over time or due to different circumstances, German society, at least, not only doesn't believe in war as being useful, they actually feel a certain moral obligation not to practice it - you know, by doing practical things like mandatory recycling to reduce the need for raw materials and keep their own land from becoming a dump, or creating an energy infrastructure not reliant on fuels which have clearly been running out for a generation (Germany likely never used USGS 'estimates' for oil reserves/production, for example). I could add living within your means, and producing things other people want to buy, but I did say, no essay. People here aren't anything but normal - but then, American society seems to have become anything but normal - again, 3% population/50% military expenditures is stunning, really and truly stunning to contemplate.

No, Europe is not utopia - it is simply a place with thousands of years of history, like China or India, most of which has nothing to do with fossil fuels at all. And a lot of that history is brutal and bloody - what makes anyone think that isn't part of the normal state of human existence? In this sense, America is pretty much unique - simply returning to the mean of human experience is likely to feel like the end of the world. For people living in the rest of the world, if they even notice, they will likely wonder what all the fuss is about as they go about their own lives.

Though this may be hard to understand in America, and is certainly subject to change over time or due to different circumstances, German society, at least, not only doesn't believe in war as being useful, they actually feel a certain moral obligation not to practice it - you know, by doing practical things like mandatory recycling to reduce the need for raw materials and keep their own land from becoming a dump, or creating an energy infrastructure not reliant on fuels which have clearly been running out for a generation (Germany likely never used USGS 'estimates' for oil reserves/production, for example).

This is one sentence. I didn't want to take anything out of context, so I have to point that out first.

I really just wanted this phrase.

German society, at least, not only doesn't believe in war as being useful, they actually feel a certain moral obligation not to practice it

Don't take this personally, expat. I am about to attack you. It is going to be harsh, and I make no excuses. I advise you, however, to get under a desk. Unfortunately for you, your statements represent the unanswered sentiments of many here.

German society doesn't believe in war. Good one. This borders on hilarious. German society in the last 100 years is obviously, unquestionably, the one society of all societies most grotesquely and completely influenced by war. All modern warfare is BASED on German warfare. The Germans were both masters, pioneers, and BELIEVERS. NOBODY sane believes otherwise.

You feel a moral obligation not to practice it. This is even funnier. Let me expalin this moral obligation to you.

We(Americans, British, my dead relatives)kicked your ass. We fought you and bombed you until you quit. When you woke up, you realized your(the Germans) folly had cost so many useless deaths, what 20 million, 30 million, what? you don't like numbers? 40 million. Dead. Dead. Real Dead. Not imaginary. Not Potential. Real Dead. All. ALL, All that blood, On German Hands.

And now you want to come and say Germans don't believe in war. No wonder.

But it is OK to kick around Americans based on what our ancestors or neighbors may feel.

Well, nothing too wrong with your attack, except the fact that I am American. This still baffles me - why does everyone assume I'm not? I grew up during the 60s and 70s in Northern Virginia, with a number of neighbors being Marine officers, Army tank battalion/regiment commanders, carrier pilots, destroyer captains, etc. (I even knew an admiral on the second helicopter out of DC, whose family could actually join him in that 'undisclosed' location if they could make it there to ring the doorbell, so to speak.) With the exception of a couple of Army officers and a submariner, all had served in Vietnam. Of course, this may have skewed my view of America, seeing your tax dollars at work. And to be honest, they were actually fine neighbors and I owe a lot to several of them (including being an Eagle Scout). But like Germans over a certain age, they knew very well what war means, and generally, they felt it was to be avoided except as a last necessity - sadly, no one actually listens to the people doing the killing, especially the last two presidents, who did their best to ensure that no one would have a chance to kill them in an essentially senseless jungle war. (Actually, I am somewhat surprised at the lack of any obvious military career at a planning/strategy level - West Point or Annapolis graduate retiring after 20 years, for example - among the TOD posters. I mean, one of the people I knew was in charge of the Korean military pipeline network near Taegu around 1980, and Carter's approach to peak oil was essentially based on his military background, I believe, not environmentalism or Christian virtue.)  

And as I consistently try to point out, after being such masters of war that the Germans lost essentially everything perfecting their skills, they seem to have decided to look for something better to do with their time since the mid 1940s. (America had the advantage of being founded by people who knew that without an object lesson - sad to see how we threw that wisdom away.) I may add, the sense of guilt which comes from doing what Germans did seems to be a major part of it, and this will undoubtedly fade over generations. (To add a note - I have also been told by an East German ex-Navy officer that in his opinion, the East German military would have also refused to participate in offensive war - take it as you wish. The East German conscripts I've known certainly said they wouldn't have participated - but then, we all know how a system can overroll any individual objections.)

I will also point out that such recent warfare innovations as carrier battle groups and nuclear warheads have nothing to do with Germany's military past. I could further point out that the German military never did find a satisfactory solution to partisan attacks - as noted, the general German objection to invading Iraq was very, very pragmatic, not some sort of mooning over an otherwordly pacifism. As you pointed out, Germans know all about this stuff, being 'masters, pioneers, and BELIEVERS' - but sometimes, reality in the form of 'Real Dead' seems to be able to change beliefs, at least for a generation or two. These concrete objections based on a shameful past never seemed to reach the American press, much less American decision makers. Instead, the media seemed baffled at how ungrateful the Germans were at America doing all that 'protecting' for them. Look at current oil production figures and cash flows in/out of Iraq to see the no longer theoretical reason why many people here objected to invading Iraq (let's leave the whole offensive war=war crime out of it - I guess what Germans were taught by America after WWII was nothing to actually believe in over the long term, now that it is inconvenient for a nation of overweight debtors).  

Wonder what it will cost the world for America to lose its beliefs about suburbia=utopia, might makes right, and 'for us or against us'?

I have always known you are an American. Never assumed otherwise. I am a German. Did you maybe misjudge me?
Well, on the Internet, we are all dogs, or something like that, right?
But in Germany, I see the PV arrays going in on the roofs - simple profit motive there - and the 8" foam insulation being attached to the exterior walls of normal houses (the hemp grown around here is used by a company called Thermohanf to make insulation panels - yes, I can even imagine insulating roofs without much in the way of fossil fuels, since I can buy such today), wood being harvested for heating, more turbines being installed on the Rhine, and the wind farms being planned/built offshore, and quite honestly, it doesn't seem all that hard to plan and invest in a world where cheap oil doesn't exist.

If you can demonstrate that these things don't go on in the US, I will take you seriously.

You're still mythologizing the European experience in your last paragraph. I have no doubt peak oil and resource issues will be more difficult to deal with in the US due to our culture that has been shaped by wealth, power, and imperial ambition. The idea that Europe will see these things as a "blip" while America burns, though, is much more comical fantasy than reality. Again, Europe is not radically different than America. Western Europe (minus Germany to some extent) have post-industrial, service oriented economies. America and Europe both benefit from cheap labor in the far east. Both compete for jobs on the global stage. Despite the excellent mass transit, a large portion of Europeans still commute by car. Both heavily subsidise their agricultural sectors. Both are shaped by the limitations of democracies, where politicians have to bias their efforts toward short term issues related to the next election more than deep, long term issues.

While a lot of progress has been made in Europe to deal with peak oil and related issues, I don't see anyone here saying "they're almost there."

As far as America, we will adjust. As our lifestyle is so inefficient, there is a lot of "low hanging fruit" that can help reduce oil and energy consumption VERY rapidly. Americans can find other things to compete over - the fuel efficency of your car when gas is at $6 a gallon, for example, instead of who has the biggest car. America has been poor and close to the brink before and survived. The protestant work ethic is a formidable feature of American culture when channeled in the proper direction, and once reality sets in, the proper direction is nearly inevitable among the populace (the government is another question). The big question, which people here bring up repeatedly, is whether or not it will be "too little to late." I don't know myself, nor does anyone else.

No, I am not making a myth of the concrete planning, engineering and investment being performed in this region of Germany. That is what is not happening in the U.S, from my experience in the past, and from what I read now.

And that lack of planning, engineering, and investment in the U.S. is part of what make die-off scenarios seem so logical in the U.S.

And will America adjust? - good luck. The time to start was roughly 1976 or so - since then, just about every decision concerning efficiency and infrastructure in the U.S. has been a model of what not to do in a world where transportation will become a problem when using fossil fuel IC motors.

To sort of end - people in Germany are very literally frightened by all the looming problems they can see - and they are even more frightened that even if they do their best, it won't make a bit of difference in the grand scheme. (Peak oil is not that important in the grand scheme - global warming is. Peak oil is only a subset of that, generally speaking, from a German perspective, since burning fossil fuels needs to end anyways.) But because they tend to be pragmatic pessimists instead of deluded optimists, they are engineering solutions now. Will it be enough to keep from freezing in the winter and starving? - probably. Will it mean that life will go on the same? - of course not, that is the point.

This is the major difference. Here, I can point to concrete increases in renewable energy, fuel efficiency, infrastructure decisions, agriculture, etc., concrete planning encompassing decades, and an awareness that life will be changed through the reality of a finite resource going into decline. I don't see this in the U.S. - there, apart from a few outsider doomsayers, every single thing is just peachy keen and everyone will just get by on that rock solid American can-doism. Except for that 'doing' part. Please, if only to make points against the die-off crowd, tell me about concrete plans or completed projects involving major changes to America's infrastructure or power generation. Here, I mean along the lines of high speed rail (killing Amtrak is a die-off argument), government regulations concerning the sale of houses which require insulation to be brought up to modern standards before sale (exurbia McMansions are a die-off argument), or American car companies offering prduction models of vehicles which get 50 mpg (Ford offering a hybrid SUV is a die-off argument).

Why do you immedaitely go to a "follow the money" argument, rather than a "rate of depletion" argument?

In a mass consumption / mass production environment, there is going to be a lot of money flying.  "A 1997 USDA study showed that Americans spent over $54 billion dollars to buy 14 billion gallons of soda ..."

And actually, we could total the start of quite a movement in the last few years, with hybrids, ethanol, biodiesel, solar, wind, ...

To prove an extreme scenario you have to show that the rate of depletion will be (significantly) faster than the rate of improvement in energy infrastructure.

(I think the rate of depletion will likely be slightly faster than the rate of improvement in energy infrastructure, and that will read to economic pain and dislocation (see also GM))

"Follow the money" is the best way for you see if a society has decided upon either:

A. Last Man Standing (endless war)
B. Powerdown (cooerpation)

As far as tracking euros, the most accurate way to see where our global society (as it is a global one) is heading is to track the money globally. So what we would need to do is the following:

A. How much spent on LMS?

This would be the sum total spent oil, natural gas, defense spending, etc.

B. How much spent on PD?

This would be the sum total spent on renewables, alternative forms of transport, etc.

The # of things you could count in either category could end up being quite lenghty. But even if you figure the money spent on LMS quite conservatively and the money spent on PD quite liberally, the numbers are still going to be WAY in favor of LMS.

I'm pretty much toast in a LMS scenario carried out to its most logical end so please nobody post that stupid "you want this to happen" bit. If that was the case I'd be investing in weapons makers. I most definitely am not.



As a practitioner of the fine arts of persuasion (a.k.a. lawyer), shouldn't you be using your talents to persuade our fellow human beings towards the Cooperative PowerDown approach rather than the Flame-Out, Last-Man-Standing scenario?

Just a thought.

Most advocates of Powerdown have not truly powerdowned themselves. The average powerdown advocate that I've met or interacted has the following:

  1. A home priced well into six figures
  2. An income from somewhere between the mid-to-high five figures
  3. A car, albeit perhaps a hybrid or biodiesel powered one.
  4. Full time internet access

They really haven't powerdowned if you look at their lifestyle. They might be living a lifestyle 10-25% more energy efficient than most people in their income bracket but that doesn't mean very much when you think about what  a true powerdown is going to require. Among other things, it's going to require us to each lower our individual economic output down to a sustainable level. Measured in 2005/2006 dollars, I suspect that level is WELL below $10,000 per year.

I don't see any powerdwon advocates voluntarily lowering their income to below this threshold.  Until I see that among those advocating it, I don't think it has any chance whatsoever of happenining.

So I'm not going to waste my time advocating people do something that:

  1. is not in their best interests
  2. that I won't do myself.



As long as you exclude engineers in your jury selection, you'll be fine.
You make good points here.
My mind shutters at the idea of giving up my own personal and oil-powered robot --aka the car. It does everything for me. Gets me to and from work. Heats or air conditions my body and plays nice music while I wait for it to bring me to where I'm going. Gives me a nice comfy seat with head rest and automatic recline functions. Recharges my cell phone while I talk and gawk. Why, it even carries the groceries for me in its hind pouch --aka the trunk. How can I survive without its assistance? Arrggh.
Absolute costs don't matter.  Rates matter: rates of decline in fossil fuels, rates of improvement in efficiency and alternative energy.

It varies a little year to year, but my power company (SCE) gets about 27% of its power from renewables, 22% nuke, and 51% from fossil fuels (18% coal, 33% nat gas).

When we're half way there, isn't it early to start making coffins?

"I think the rate of depletion will likely be slightly faster than the rate of improvement in energy infrastructure, and that will read to economic pain and dislocation (see also GM)"

- I think this constitutes a moderate position in this day and age.

Alpha  and Stuart,

Good points on the why of responses like Klein's to PO.  "Inclusive fitn.ess" - interesting phrase.   Perhaps PO with all of its ugly rmifications is just too much for a smart and optimistic young person who is intent on changing things for the better.   But we need him and more like him to get with it and soon. Maybe we ARE doomed.  But just maybe, working together we can mitigate the worst and preserve some semblance of civilization.  I have a daughter, so I have to go with the 2nd possibility.

I think the fringe is a serious credibility problem for PO awareness.  The best that can be done to overcome this is to emphasis the conservative and professional members of the PO community when discussing it.  And there are many.
Like Matt Simmons who said something along the lines of "you can't imagine a scenario too dark" and Kenneth Defeyyes who said we can expect the "4 horsemen of the apocalypse" or Colin Campble who ends the Oil Crash film with the most doomeristic statement you can imagine?

The most professional and estemed members of our movement are the ones making the most doomeristic statements!



Most people are less persuaded by some nut on the corner with a sign than by a presidential energy advisor.
Excellent point.

Cloaking oneself in a costume that says "authoritative source" is more important than being right. Many members of the crooked twig do just this, surrounding themselves with diplomas and other indicia of academic rightiousness while babbling unintelligible prayers to the Invisible Hand.

By the powers vested in me ... by me,
I Hereby grant Onto All faithful readers of TOD present or otherwise:
These letters Emiritus of professorial awareness of Peak Oil.

You may henceforth attach these distiguishing letters to your title: EPAoPA (Emeritus Professorial Awareness of Peak Oil).

Think of how good it will look after that PhD or MD.

Annointingly yours,
--Step Back B.S., M.S., EPAoPO.

Now go out there into the world and make me proud.

unfortunately, the nut on the corner IS the presidential energy advisor.
"Our Movement"


What are you referring to, exactly? Would this be the Peak-Oil  "movement," and if so could you explain the main differences between that and the Peak-Oil "Theory?"

The most professional and esteemed members of our movement are the ones making the most doomeristic statements!

Maybe this is an issue.

I am not a "doomer," but the way I interpret the positions taken, for example by Matt Savinar, is that the reason for creating and bringing attention to "doom" scenarios is to create self-defeating prophecies.

In other words, what the "extremists" are saying is: "IF this goes on, then it will be the end of the world as we know it."

But the big point, as I see it, is to change course as fast as possible, so that business as usual does not bring the United States in particular and the prosperous world in general down in crashing and burning ruins. Perhaps the tactic of using "doom" scenarios is counterproductive insofar as it undermines credibility, but my position is that if something cannot go on indefinitely, then it won't.

At best we are in for hard times. That is the best we can look forward to, and of course nobody wants to hear that message (except possibly for some on the religious right). I am an optimist to the point of believing that we can avoid the worst possible outcomes--but not if our institutions and organizations keep going as if the next twenty years is going to be pretty much like the last twenty.

Perhaps the style of those presenting worst-case scenarios is offputting, but the content can be valuable if it gets enough people thinking and taking constructive action. Also, IMO, the "doomers" by no means dominate discussion on TOD.

 am not a "doomer," but the way I interpret the positions taken, for example by Matt Savinar, is that the reason for creating and bringing attention to "doom" scenarios is to create self-defeating prophecies.

In other words, what the "extremists" are saying is: "IF this goes on, then it will be the end of the world as we know it."


Pretty much, but at some point you have to accept when your society has made it's decision about how to handle things, as insane and suicidal (and upsetting) that decision might be.

When a society is spending trillions on oil and oil wars just as shortages are getting ready to cripple global society but only spending billions on getting off oil and moving away from oil wars, I think society has stated what its decision is.

As far as Ezra Klein is concerned, I would tell him what I tell everybody: do what is best for you and your family. If being on the "optimsitic" side of things allows him to acquire more social and financial capital (the two things that will be wroth most as energy prices go up), then go for it.



Two observations:
1. Because you post, you believe you can make a difference, and perhaps a substantial difference to benefit large numbers of people.
2. Enhancing one's social capital--network of family and friends is definitely the most important thing to do; we are agreed on that point. However, I tell people that human capital combined with real capital is far more important than accumulating financial capital.

For example, acquiring the skills to ride and fix a bicycle (human capital) are, IMO, very important, but so is having
some good bicycles, spare parts, lubricants, etc. Knowing how to cook and making a variety of foods palatable is an extremely valuable skill, but you need also utensils from skillets to pressure cookers to good knives and sharpening stones for your knowledge to do you much good. Same is true of gardening skills and gardening tools: You need land, skilled labor, and real (tangible) capital, and if you lack any of these three you may be in very tough shape if worst case scenarios come to pass.

In regard to financial capital, I recommend one of the mutual funds (My favorite is Vanguard.) that invests in TIPs, Treasury Inflation Protected securities, because it won't do you much good to have $20,000 stashed in the mattress if that amount will not be enough to buy a postage stamp. Thus, my inclination is to put any extra financial capital either into gifts (My favorite charity is The Nature Conservancy.) or useful tools or books or a year's supply of food.


I do think I can make a difference, a huge one from the persepective of one pereson but nothing from the perspectivce of society.  And I don't think all the peak oilers and susutainability advocates combined busting their humps night and day are going to slow down this $11 trillion dolllar global collos-Ass that seems hell bent on consuming everything (and everybody) in sight.

As far as social capital plus financial capital, I totally agree, that plus luck will determine how this plays out for each of us as individuals.



the "doomers" by no means dominate discussion on TOD

Only because of the persistent efforts and sober analysis of wise moderates such as yourself.

I agree, props to the sailor for keeping one foot on solid ground.

I think TOD could benefit from a constant approach like this.

1. What do we know is wrong and how do we fix it?
   A.  Realistic global national and self assesment
   B.  Realistic plan to change or mitigate with continual improvement.

2. What do we think is wrong and how can we be sure?
   A. Can we do something at little or no cost to combat the suspected problem (ie plant trees for Global Warming)
   B. What kind of studies or research in the scientific method are needed to confirm or deny? And are the studies carried out without bias?
   C. What are the probable, possible and remote outcomes of doing nothing?

3. What do we want as a race, as a nation and for ourselves as individuals for tommorrow next week and the rest of our lives?
   A. The journey of a thousand miles is taken one step at a time. Plan ahead and make progress toward long term goals through the summation of many small short term ones.

I want to get an electric bike when I get off this hitch on my rig.  I want to have 100% self sufficency of my house electric/water in two years. My next car will be a hybrid.

I will tell my friends and family why I am doing what I do. Why it SAVES me money and how it benefits everyone.

I am lucky as I have an audience with 2 senators and a governor through my father. But each of us can write a letter every week, month or year to a congressman.  Obviously everyone on this site has the ability and time to write.

Read research and discuss.  Solve problems and love one another.

  During WWII the british navy did a study.  In warm water ship sinkings, the casualty rate was almost exactly the same as cold water sinkings.  The scientists and doctors did not understand how this could be.  After studying groups in extreme situations they discovered a certain percentage of people does not have the will to survive.  Not the will to get up and eat breakfast go out of the house etc, but to overcome adversity.  Some people won't walk miles through the snow or eat rats they just give up.  I think at the other end of the spectrum is a group that thinks they would thrive in such scenarios and wishes for them.

That study is why Outward Bound was created.  Great program anyone been?

reply to : "I am not a 'doomer,' but the way I interpret the positions taken, for example by Matt Savinar, is that the reason for creating and bringing attention to 'doom' scenarios is to create self-defeating prophecies."

Maybe I am just engaging in wishful thinking here, but it does seem possible that the doomers can also serve to focus attention onto a problem in a way that makes people start working to avoid the predicted doom.  

I keep thinking about Jonah and the people of Nineveh in the old testament, how Nineveh was saved because they did actually, finally listen and change their ways.  (And of course, poor old Jonah was really irritated that Nineveh didn't get destroyed.)  I know it is only a story, but many of those old stories reflect strong elements of human nature.  


(And of course, poor old Jonah was really irritated that Nineveh didn't get destroyed.)

LOL!  I do get the feeling that many "doomers" will be annoyed if the dieoff doesn't come.  ;)

No, not at all. If a dieoff does come my last words as me and the Road Warrior engage in mortal combat will be, "see, I told you all this was gonna happen. See you hell bitches!!!"

On the other hand, if no dieoff occurs, I'll take credit (1000 x more than I deserve mind you) for having helped awoken people to the crisis. At that point, I will probably subtlely suggest I be appointed king for the efforts made during my younger years.



You are 100% correct. The problems underlying Peak Oil are the same problems Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Jesus and Buddha and Mahomet grappled with: How can we live wisely and well and have goodness and happiness in our lives?

Consumerism destroys not only the environment but also the soul.

Christianity is a great idea. Too bad it has never been tried.

(Actually, it has been tried and is successful in limited contexts, such as by the Hutterites who eschew private ownership of property and who live and thrive in agricultural communities.)

We cannot find health or happiness or good relationships by buying more stuff. Unfortunately, humans evolved as hunters and gatherers, where more food, more wives, sharper spear points, thicker fur garments, etc. were a big help to survival. For most of human history, our genes were giving us correct signals when they told us to dominate, to accumulate, to have bigger and more luxurious dwellings and more tools, to be fruitful and multiply.

Times have changed.

What are your favorite graffiti?

Two of mine are:
Make love, not war.
Ecology, the last fad.

Sailorman wrote:

"Unfortunately, humans evolved as hunters and gatherers, where more food, more wives, sharper spear points, thicker fur garments, etc. were a big help to survival. For most of human history, our genes were giving us correct signals when they told us to dominate, to accumulate, to have bigger and more luxurious dwellings and more tools, to be fruitful and multiply."

Unfortuantely, this is not what Marshall Sahlins (U. Chicago) found and discussed in his landmark book "Stone Age Economics". His meta-study of numerous "subsistance" economies indicated deliberate under maximization of resources. Meaning, for hunters and gatherers: less is more.

The book is good reading.

The Marshall Sahlins book is excellent, and I even made portions of it required reading for Environmental Economics, back when I used to teach that class.

However, my reading of Sahlins suggests that hunting and gathering societies did not DELIBERATELY decide that "less is more." In part they did not have a pot to pee in because they had not invented pottery. Thus they could not invent beer, that vital prerequisite to human progress;-)

However, I cannot recommend that book too highly.

Note that nothing fails like success. In all probability, hunting and gathering societies were destroyed by the two key inventions of the spear thrower and the bow and arrow, innovations that increased the effectiveness of hunting to the point that populations increased and societies were forced into horticulture (gradually, with fits and starts) to survive, given the depletion of game caused by those early weapons of mass destruction.

Don S,

you don't have an old syllabus lying about, do you?

would love to see it!

I'll look through my files, and if I cannot find hard copy, then I'll reconstruct from memory and in any case post on Wednesday's Open Thread.
Thanks much. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who lingers here that would enjoy the information.
Yup.  It was agriculture that let us start accumulating, and led to social stratification - haves and have-nots.

When you're a hunter-gatherer, and have to carry everything you own, there's little incentive to be acquisitive.

Which leads right into Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons...

"The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons.

Then one day..."

Must have been a hell of a course Sailorman <g>.

(reply to Don's graffiti question)

Although not, possibly, what you would count as graffiti, one of my favorite local bumper stickers says: Reunite Gondwanaland!  

Maybe what appeals to me is the crazy impossibility of the idea.  

And in reference to your Hutterite statement (and relating to Will's comment,  "Less is more"), the Mennonite Central Committee has published a pair of books based on the idea of More with Less.  One is a cookbook (More with Less Cookbook), and its companion is called Living More with Less.  Both offer thoughtful ideas and suggestions for using less stuff/money (and ultimately, fossil fuels) and focusing life-energy instead on relationships.  I'm not Mennonite, but I do use my copy of the cookbook pretty often.  

Maybe "More with Less" and E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful count as graffiti?

Je suis marxiste tendance Groucho.
The problems underlying Peak Oil are the same problems Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Jesus and Buddha and Mahomet grappled with: How can we live wisely and well and have goodness and happiness in our lives?

Actually, I think the problems underlying Peak Oil have to do with, you know, that peak oil thing. The "this is just like it always was" thing is just not cutting it.

There are two issues, you know. One is whether the "doomers" should try to improve their attitude, for the sake of morale. The other is whether the "doomers" are right.

I don't know about either of those issues. But on the second, I do tend to think the argument is drifting their way.

The underlying problem that explains why we are unable to come to grips with Peak Oil is that the masses are asses: In other words, the great majority of people think that materialism is The Way to security, happiness, and better sex;-)

They are wrong. Each of the great thinkers I mentioned emphasized the futility of striving to accumulate wealth.

So long as people identify happiness with bigger houses and cars, faster speedboats, more jet travel, and living farther and farther away from the Nasty City, then there is no hope for a powerdown scenario taking place in a peaceful and orderly way. Period. Exclamation point.

Remember the posts about precise predictions, versus working models and iterative reconsideration?

I think a true "doomer" has a pricese prediction, based on a series of bad (projected) events.  The bad events add up to starvation, martial law, roving bandits in the streets ...

To borrow a phrase, I think "the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."

BTW, I think I have a classification question that will tell you how much of a doomer you are:

Q.  What fraction of your nation's population will suffer premature death due to Peak Oil?

(My provisional (USA) answer, based on current trajectories is <1%.  There will be small tragedies, old folks who lose (or refuse) heating/cooling, people who try to heat their appartments with candles or the stove, the occaisional gunfight at the gas station.  IOW, a similar scale of tragedies to the ones we had in the 70's, in our last gas crisis cycle.  I'll update my position as times change ... but I'll try to be data driven, rather than ideology driven.)

I think it's a lot more complex than that.  As I've said before, what the "doomer vs. pollyanna" dichotomy misses is timescale.  When are you expecting the dieoff?  How long will it take?

Many of the so-called "doomers" are the most optimistic in the long run.  They think after the dieoff, we will have a new and better way of life.

Similarly, some of the most "optimistic" - don't think there will be major change, let alone dieoff - are the most pessimistic long-term.  Greer's "catabolic collapse" suggests we will find substitutes and adjust...until all capital and resources have been converted to waste, and we crash back to a level of complexity below the Native Americans', because the environment is so trashed it can't support anything else.

You can add the "when" if you want, but if you think "die-off" and not something more gentle like reduced birth rates ... that's the big answer.
I think there probably be a 99% dieoff in the United States...but not in my lifetime.  It may take hundreds of years.
You might look at China's pre-industrial population sizes, to see what can be done without oil:

But really I'm trying to capture here how many people fall in each category of optimism/pessimism.

Oh, I know what can be done without oil.  That graph shows that China, roughly the same size we are, struggled for centuries to maintain a third our current population.  They had regular dieoffs - famine, warfare, plague, etc.  So, if we did what they did, we could probably maintain 100 million people in the U.S. without oil - only a 66% dieoff.

But...we are not doing what they did.  We are trying to maintain a much higher standard of living, and we will continue to do so.  In all likelihood, we will switch to coal to replace oil.  Full speed ahead and damn the acid rain.  We'll poison the groundwater with mining operations, dump pollution and radiation in the rivers, exhaust the soil so that nothing can grow there, cut down every tree for fuel, overfish and overhunt till the land supports almost nothing except humans.

This is what Greer means when he says "all capital and resources are converted to waste."  We will be innovative.  We will adapt.  We will reuse and recycle.  Until there's nothing left to reuse and recycle.  

The flip side of our remarkable technology is that it enables us to do remarkable harm - far more than the Easter Islanders or the ancient Chinese.

As an aside, anyone else thing that after a century of preaching the sermon of liberalization and democracy, the only governmental solution that seems to mitigate PO would be an absolute dictator?
Enders older brother was Peter.
It was interesting what OSC did with the Peter character.  Set him up as evil and gradually twisted the reader into feeling sympathetic for his cause.  I ended up liking Peter more than Ender.  
Remember the monitors thought peter would be the better general, but they recognized his evil.  I guess evil is one form of genius, but I think more that it is vanity and abuse of your gifts.I think peter his sister and ender were the stereotypical psyche broken up into actual characters.
Oh, wow.  You just made me have one of those lightbulb moments.

That's exactly what it is.  It's a representation of Freudian topology.

Peter - the id - the self-serving principal that acts without regards to others

Ender - the ego - the reality principal that enforces compromises between reality, the id, and the superego.

Valentine - the superego - representative of morality, what's right and wrong, etc

Or, it could also be taken as representing Eros, Thanatos and the ego. This makes even more sense considering how Peter and Valentine emerge from Ender's mind in CotM.  See?  This is exactly why this is such an exceptional series of books.  You can always find some fresh intepretation.  

Wasn't the asteroid ender went to eros? remember when he won the last battle?
That idea has been raised before.  Cuba, for example, is often held up as an example of how to powerdown.  Much easier when you have a dictator who can mandate food rationing, carpooling, gardening, etc.  
The example of Cuba is relevant and irelevant at the same time. It's relevant for third world countries wishing to follow another economic/political model, but not all that relevant for an advanced and amzingly complex society like the U.S.

We've chatted about Cuba before as a kind of altrnative model in relation to surviving a massive reduction in energy supplies. Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union and how they dealt with the adjustment.

However, Cuba isn't just a dictatorship with one man calling all the shots. I think we sometimes almost glibly talk about "dictatorship" in an almos abstract way, as if in theory "dictatorship" could be an alternative in some kind of future scenario if things got really bad.

I think this is a fundamental mistake. I think the way we use the concept of "dictatorship" is flawed. We don't really define the word adequately. Personally I don't believe in the concept of absolute totalitarian dictatorship with one guy calling all the shots. This doesn't describe Cuba, or for that matter Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, or Mao's China. Societies' are way too complex to be rulled by one man. The common definition "dictatorship". I think "dictatorship" or even absolute "totalitarianism" are words we use to describe far more complex and disturbing societal forms that we don't understand or don't really want to understand.

What characterises all these societies is rule by an intrusive and dominant political ideology with the cult of the leader as the personification of this ideology. The dictator would be nothing without the Party to carry out his orders. Dictators are usually little more than figureheads for larger and more complex social movements/parties.

This is why the Cuban example is irelevant for the U.S. Cuba has the communist party which is integrated into society. It is the structure that holds Cuban society together. Castro can give an order to move hundreds of people out of the way of a hurricane, but it's the Party that carrys out these orders and makes them more than just hot air. So the United States will never be able to emulate Cuba, even if one wanted to, because the vital ingredient, the Party is missing.

They hit 400 million with 1850s level technology.  A minute ago you were predicting a 99% US die-off when we merely lose oil.

How do we suffer a population drop of 300 million - 297 million = 3 million?

They hit 400 million with 1850s level technology.  

That doesn't mean it's sustainable.

A minute ago you were predicting a 99% US die-off when we merely lose oil.

No, I did not.  I clearly said but not in my lifetime.  It may take hundreds of years.  Obviously, I was not thinking it would happen "merely because we lose oil."

How do we suffer a population drop of 300 million - 297 million = 3 million?

Probably mostly an increase in the infant mortality rate.  Perhaps also famine, disease, and warfare.  

Happening, as I said, over decades or centuries, as we wind through catabolic collapse.  

If you think 300 million - 297 million = 3 million, because of an increase in infant mortality, famine, disease, and warfare.  

Then you aren't really a peak oil doomer.  You are a doomer on the human species.

I have never claimed to be a peak oil doomer, and don't consider myself to be one.  

In the long run, yes, I am a doomer on the human species.  And every other species.  99.9% of all species that have ever lived on earth are now extinct.  It's the fate of every species.  (And no, I don't believe we will leave earth to colonize other planets, and so avoid the death of earth when the sun goes nova.)

But I do think the coming population crash is fossil-fuel related.  It was oil that gave us the ability to build our population up so high.  It was oil that gave us the technology to trash the planet in ways our predecessors couldn't even dream of.  And it's catabolic collapse from our oil-fueled complexity that will result in such a low population density.  

It's estimated that the Americas supported about 50 million people before Columbus.  The U.S. is about 1/5 of the Americas, so say the U.S. supported 10 million people before Columbus.

After a catabolic collapse, the population density is often much lower than it was before the complex society arrived or evolved.  Because, as I said, all natural resources are converted to waste.  Therefore, it's reasonable to assume that the population density of the U.S. would be lower than 10 million - probably much lower.  Three million might be optimistic.

I don't want this to happen, and I don't think it's inevitable. But I fear it's more likely than the alternative - a voluntary powerdown.  Like Deffeyes, I fear the battle for the last of the oil will be fought with nuclear weapons rather than dollars.

   When infant mortality goes up so does birth rate.  I'm pretty sure most forms of birth control are based on petroleum resources in some way.  For a 99% drop you would need all four horsemen.
When infant mortality goes up so does birth rate.

Exactly!  This is why I don't think a "gently declining birthrate" is our fate.  Infant mortality will go up.  People will return to a more rural lifestyle.  They will become poorer and less educated.  All things that will encourage higher birthrates, not lower.  

For a 99% drop you would need all four horsemen.

Oh, I'm expecting them.  See, they are related.  Famine - lack of food - leads to warfare.  Warfare makes it hard to farm.  The stress of war and poor nutrition leads to disease.  The high death rate leads to a high birthrate, which keeps the cycle going.

Then perhaps instead of talking about how the doomsayers are killing us, or about exactly when peak is, or argueing about a thousand small details, we should be figuring out how to spread the message.  I don't see ANY of that going on here.

God.. I feel like we're the f'ing Democrats.

Well...unlike the Democrats, many peak oilers don't really want their message spread.  They figure it's better for them if everyone else stays dumb and happy.  If everyone starts buying solar panels or Priuses or guns or organic farms or gold or wind turbines or nuclear engineering degrees, there will be shortages.  At the very least, the price will rise.  
Dear Leanan,

Do you really believe this or are you joking or being ironic. If this is true, and you may well be right, then the situation is dire. If people who know about peak oil don't want the message to get out and change society, for purely selfish reasons then we probably are all doomed.

These kind of people would be little better than survivalist nutters, who have somehow got it into their heads that they can survive the breakdown of society. If are complex and advanced society breaks down, it will break down for all of us. I don't think the idea of making individual plans for surviving the "future" are actually realistic. I don't think I believe in this survivalist talk, does anyone else?

I am not joking.  There are people who think this way.  And probably a lot more to whom "spreading the word" is just not very important.
The question begs itself: do we really want a Hobbesian future where man is set against man and life is nasty, brutish and short?. There is not much point to such a life other than simple survival and even that has no real point or value. And who for and for what? The post peak oil society has been debated at length; here and other places. Society , surely man must move on. If all man's existance means is yet more slavery and terror then really, what exactly is the point? We are the cleverest monkeys that lived on this planet. We may well be the cleverest monkeys in the universe. We may well be 'IT'. Really, we might actually be It, the most advanced intelligence in the Universe. If so we have the most appalling burden to bear.
If we blow it, if the slate gets wiped then we let not just humanity down, but the universe. For some reason we did not get just the usual sharp, spikey teeth and long legs, for some reason we got brains that outweigh every brain ever issued Think about it: As far as I know, we are the only creatures aware of deep past (say for example the Permian extinction). We are the only creatures aware of our potential and immediate future (say for example PO, Global Warming and the current, sixth extinction of flora and fauna).
This planet does not belong to us. It belongs to itself and we are merely guests. And we are very, very rude guests.

A few comments. First up, in the opening sentence of my post, I tried to distinguish between the Peak Oil hypothesis, which I regard as reasonable, and the "doomer" fringe, which I don't.

It follows that I'm not denying that there could be significant economic consequences, such as a deep recession, if the decline in supply of oil is mishandled (as it is being in the US). But there's a big difference between a deep recession and a return to the 13th century.

My second point is that global warming is the biggest problem we face in this area, and peak oil needs to be considered in this light. Coal is a technically feasible substitute in most areas, but the environmental consequences of a large-scale switch to coal are potentially disastrous (I'm not as hopeful as Ezra Klein about sequestration).

For everyone who is concerned with population growth / reduction, there is an interesting article on the declining birth rate in Poland.

But while birth rates have been falling steadily across the continent for decades, the fertility rate in Ireland is now 1.98, not too far off the population replacement level of 2.1. In Poland, it's just 1.23, among the bottom five in Europe. The country's population actually fell by almost half a million over the last six years. Estimates suggest there will be four million fewer Poles by 2030.

Unfortunately, because of the entire perpetual growth system, this is viewed as a problem, and now there shall be incentives to have more children.   Sometimes I despair.

If they think as manny do in Sweden it is not regarded as scary to not have a perpetual growth in numbers. The scary part is the economy of a shrinking population and what not having children probably means for how comfortable people are with their lives. Something fundamental is probably wrong if people do not have children.
I was too brief. Not economy as in ever growing GNP. Economy as in having enough hands and heads to care for elderly people and maintain society. This labour can not be done with oil or nuclear power. The problem could be solved with immigration but then we get cultural problems, we are not USA who allways have integrated new cultures.
Many countries in Europe (Italy and Spain most prominent), and in fact most Western nations apart from the US have this "problem," and yes, unfortunately, governments apparently believe that it needs to be "fixed" by encouraging more people to reproduce. Italy, IIRC, has introduced economic incentives for couples to have more children, but the phenomenon appears to be structural and (somewhat) inevitable in industrializing nations (even third world countries have reduced their birth rates substantially). Another way, it seems, that countries other than the US will be more prepared for PO.
Since there's no Wednesday open thread, I'll post this here.  

Commodity Strategists:  Oil May Average $93 in 2007

That brings you to a Bloomberg story.  Money shot:  

:Canadian Imperial's Jeffrey Rubin wrote in a Sept. 7 report. Global supply will be as much as 2.4 million barrels below projected demand by 2007"

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are also raising their price targets.  I find that mainstream Wall Street analysts always underestimate, though.  

After all, as the story linked above explains:

 "The 50 percent rally in oil this year stymied forecasters. They predicted an average $39 a barrel this year, according to the median of 24 analysts, strategists and economists Bloomberg surveyed last December. Oil touched a record $70.85 in New York on Aug. 30, a day after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The average price so far this year is $54.77."

After reading many of the comments of Crooked Timber's and Ezra Klein's post was very enlightening.  Most people questioned their positions even when agreeing with them.  I think there is a very strong underlying feeling for most people that things are not well in the world right now. Just look at the major shift in people's thinking about global warming.  Just a year ago most people doubted whether it was "real" or just hype from extremists.  And now, 84% think it's real.  That's huge.  It could very well be the same with peak oil.  
I find it odd the way people, even on this blog, identify themselves and others as an optimist vs. a doom and gloomer.  Perhaps, we need to reframe that argument.  Perhaps, people who are wanting and wishing for the status quo, for life to continue in its present form are the doom and gloomers. What's so great about 2 billion people starving, a country with 5 percent of the population using 25% of the world's resources and one percent of the population holding 90 percent of the wealth?  This is a grand failure of imagination!
Perhaps the people who are wishing and advocating for fundamental changes for our society and civilization are not the doom and gloomers but visionaries who can see a more just and equitable world. They can see that peak oil will be one of the means that reshapes the world.
There's a great article posted by Rob Hopkins of Transition Culture about using fear to motivate people.

The challenge when presented with the truth, and especially peak oil, is to get to that place of acceptance, i.e. love.  Of course, one may first go through many phases of fear; greed, denial, anger, bargaining, etc. before reaching that place. There are only two states of existence, love and fear. And when enough people operate from the level of love I believe we can have a paradigm shift.  

"The challenge when presented with the truth, and especially peak oil, is to get to that place of acceptance, i.e. love.  Of course, one may first go through many phases of fear; greed, denial, anger, bargaining, etc. before reaching that place. There are only two states of existence, love and fear. And when enough people operate from the level of love I believe we can have a paradigm shift."  -owl

Donnie: Life isn't that simple. I mean who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.
Kitty Farmer: Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.
Donnie: Okay. But you're not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account here. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can't just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!

from Donnie Darko

What emotion is there that is not based in fear or love?
"Descarte's Error" is an amazing book.  There are many subtle sorts of emotions, and our brains don't work without them.
What emotion is there that is not based on fear or love?
I make it a point of not recommending books a second time, to people who wish them reduced to single comments in a blog.
Love is a word.
I love pizza means something different than when I tell my fiance I love her.  Brotherly love and the love of a mother.
Pure love comes from a golden retriever no caveats only loyalty and affection.  If you love money that is not a representation of love or fear. Owl I think your statement has a beautiful concept but it is unrealistic and does not explain why people do things. Read skinner or maslow. These are theories also but more developed ones.

happiness would be based in love, but I love to be scared by a roller coaster or skydiving is that fear?  I just think your concept is a gross oversimplification of the human condition.  


Exactly, you "love" to be scared!
Your not getting my point. A sociopath knows no empathy, he/she does what ever they want.  There were points in my life where I did not love or fear anything.  I did not cease to exist during that phase so other things were going on between my ears. The greek language has like 14 words for different types of love. I am not discussing diction I am talking about biochemical brain activity.  The brain is an enormously clompex piece of wetware.  Some emotions are fear and love at the same time.  When a child plays with a ball he is happy. Does he love the ball? On some level yes but this is like saying everything is made of earth wind fire and water.  It was a fairly good model of how the world works but then modern chemistry developed.  Read some developmental psychology, and email me later.
I believe that the external is an outpicturing of the internal and that we are the creator of our own lives.  As we grow in consciousness we come to experience the reality that we are all one.  Science is also coming closer to proving this through the unified field theory.  Einstein knew this intuitively but was unable to prove it in his life time.  It's not enough to say we are all one, it must be a person's experience.  And as more and more people grow in consciousness, something that I believe is occurring rapidly, and we realize, i.e. experience, that there is no one else in the room, we will then behave in such a manner that will not harm anyone including ourselves.  I believe also that there is no one way or right path to achieve higher states of consciousness.  Some may choose devotion, meditation, science, service or digging ditches.  It doesn't really matter. And that is what makes this world such a wonderful, compelling, interesting place to live.  And each day when we wake up we can choose to see hopelessness, despair, lack, and on and on.  Or we can choose to see peace, hope, love, unity and make that our reality.
Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul!

Billy Madison

Yeah, really.  If only the millions of starving people on this blue planet knew all they had to do was "choose" positivity when they wake up each day - thus their stomachs would magically fill with happy thoughts (which are of course totally nutritious)!  
If I have a happy thought about steak and lobster is it less healthy than one you have about beansprouts?
Great book! One of my favorites and well worth multiple rereadings.
Hmm.. I haven't read the book so I may be talking out of my ass here (when am I not?), but it seems to be advocating materialism (the philosophical concept, that is.)  

If I could recommend "The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World" by Colin McGinn, it's a great critique of the idea of mind-body dualism vs materialism.

Pretty please, with sugar on top, find that book in a library and read at least the first forty pages.

It is (with the possible exception of the New Testament) perhaps the most anti-materialistic book I have ever read.

More on this book later when I get my energy up to post another reading list on Wednesday's Open Thread.

Maybe that "advocating materialism" is something an insider would get more that I.  FWIW, it seemed to me to be a synthesis of recent medical case studies and recent discoveries in neurobiology.
After reading many of the comments of Crooked Timber's and Ezra Klein's post was very enlightening.  Most people questioned their positions even when agreeing with them.  I think there is a very strong underlying feeling for most people that things are not well in the world right now. Most people are unable to articulate it however.  Just look at the major shift in people's thinking about global warming.  Just a year ago most people doubted whether it was "real" or just hype from extremists.  And now, 84% think it's real.  That's huge.  It could very well be the same with peak oil.  
I find it odd the way people, even on this blog, identify themselves and others as an optimist vs. a doom and gloomer.  Perhaps, we need to reframe that argument.  Perhaps, people who are wanting and wishing for the status quo, for life to continue in its present form are the doom and gloomers. What's so great about 2 billion people starving, a country with 5 percent of the population using 25% of the world's resources and one percent of the population holding 90 percent of the wealth?  This is a grand failure of imagination!
Perhaps the people who are wishing and advocating for fundamental changes for our society and civilization are not the doom and gloomers but visionaries who can see a more just and equitable world. They can see that peak oil will be one of the means that reshapes the world.
There's a great article posted by Rob Hopkins of Transition Culture about using fear to motivate people.

The challenge when presented with the truth, and especially peak oil, is to get to that place of acceptance, i.e. love.  Of course, one may first go through many phases of fear; greed, denial, anger, blame, bargaining, etc. before reaching that place. There are only two states of existence, love and fear. And when enough people operate from the level of love I believe we can have a paradigm shift.  

That comment was so good you should post it twice.

Years of breathing other people's exhaust fumes helped me learn to love the prospect of peak oil.

And what expat said about the USA-centric arguments here makes a lot of sense. Fortunately the whole world is not like the USA. The good news is the USA has so much room to improve!

My boss just called in from the Bahrain Oil Show (gets all the nice shows). He says:
A Veep or similar from ExxonMobile has just given a presentation on Peak Oil. It is (apparently) at least 10 years away. The world cannot currently get enough Seismic Equipment or crews. This is always a good sign for drilling three years out. Saudi is looking to go from 80 to 120 rigs (where from , I wonder), all other Gulf basin states are looking to increase effective rig counts by a similar ratio.

Happy days...

I remember Seventies, when the Mother of All Texas Drilling Booms increased the number of producing wells by 14%,and production dropped by about 30%.  
''Dear Lawd, jus' gimme one more boom and I promise not to piss it all away'' - The Oilmans Prayer.
What I found interesting about the (as yet not properly confirmed) statements is that

1)An XOM Veep acknowledges the concept of Peak, 'but not just yet'.('But not in 10 years' could therefore imply 11...which is not at all far away) The statement seems slightly at odds with the advert in the NYT.

2) The cornucopia of Saudi will require an additional 60 rigs.I admit I do not know over what term they want to go from 81-120 but I would hazard 2-3 years rather than say 3-5 years. What can this mean? Bottle Brush Drainage Drilling on existing fields to maintain production flows? Multiple wells on Heavy oil fields including steam injection? - This is planned in Oman , for example.

If Saudi pressures and flow rates were in good shape, then an imminent desire for an intense drilling campaign would surely not be so urgent. Surely just turning the taps up would suffice?

60 additional rigs is a lot when you consider the starting point is 80. The corresponding number of Engineers, Drillers, Cement hands, MWD hands etc will be quite phenomenal. Now, the continental United States has an awful lot of rigs, but most that can be used , are being used. Saudi Aramco will have to pay well over the (already high) odds for rigs and services. This will be especially true for Jack Ups if they intend to go increasingly offshore. They could of course be constructed, but steel is not cheap, yard time not easy to get etc.
They can of course afford to do this but if all is well, then why the need?

3) Seismic: The demand for trucks, kit, kids. This is a pre-cursor for exploration and delineation drilling of potential structures.

The last Hurrah anyone?. Looks like I will be working well past the arrival of my free bus pass.

[ Parent ]

I believe that you cannot predict the future. You can make some extrapolations based on past and present situations. However there are many wildcards. For instance a disease may come through and wipe out a huge amount of the population. This would free up some resources for us. Not necessarily a nice scenario but a plausible situation that history has presented time and time again. Carrying capacity and predator-prey relationships always play their part in steering the course of evolution. I fully believe that peak oil will create ugly situations and periods. However I cannot predict what unknowns will be factored in down the road rendering ultimate forecasting of human demise irrelevant.
Peak Oil is a misnomer. 2005 will probably be the year that the most oil was produced globally, but it is stretching it to call it a "peak". 64.16 mill/day was consumed in 1978. About 84 this year. The ave growth rate in yearly consumption over the last 28 YEARS is about 1% a year. If you look at the big picture we have been at "peak" for a long time and will stay at "peak" for a long time. It isn't a "peak" at all, it has been a very gently inclining plateau which is being replaced by a very gently declining plateau. Not that I disagree with everything posted, but the exaggeration can get out of hand.