Sunday open thread

Seems like we need one . .
Since PO is going mainstream, what does everyone think will happen next?

My feeling is that until $100/barrel, there will just be a lot of talk and little action.

I think Brian Schweitzer is going to keep making headway with his coal-to-liquids idea.
Yes, coal is going to happen next. This is the great tragedy. We've used half of the perfect fuel for transportation, somewhat less than half the perfect fuel for heating, and now we will return to a much inferior fuel that exists in much greater quantities. Because our whole infrastructure is built for the perfect fuel, we will not use the inferior fuel directly, but rather we will convert it to the perfect fuel, with the attendant losses, compounding the disaster.

The American way of life will be preserved -- for a far smaller number of Americans however. The remainder will be reclassified as un-Americans and put on the do-not-walk-around-free list.

Is that what you meant by "what will happen next"?

Very well put. Though Murphys law will rear its ugly head regarding coal - Im not so sure the ease and accessibility to large high quality, dense reserves is as abundant as we are led to believe. SASOL has been doing this for a long time and yet only is producing 150,000 barrels a day of FT Diesel. The pollution is mind-boggling.

We need to educate the public on the tradeoffs - would you rather carpool to work every day and live the rest of your life as you do now? Or would you rather drive to work every day and live the rest of your life breathing through a surgeons mask and wearing white clothes to keep cool? These questions need to be asked ahead of time, with advocacy and science united to paint the pictures.

The whole oil thing appears to be viewed as an excuse by power brokers to get votes and/or goodies for their constituencies (e.g. Obama's move to subsidize UAW retirees from tax monies, the various pushes for ethanol from ag lobbies).  Meanwhile, climate threats and other problems are ignored.

What are the odds that we'll get a program aimed primarily at the problems rather than divvying up pork?

Odds: very low. Peak oil mitigation is going to be a pork trough. IMO, the most logical approach is a good stiff fuel tax in the U.S., but what we're likely to get is a crash program to maintain the status quo, like that described in the Hirsch report. The peak oilers calling for the gov't to do something because the market won't/can't do it are playing right into the lobbyists' hands. The rationale: we can't wait for the market to build (say) coal liquefaction plants because it will be too late. So the government will put up money in the national interest, and then ownership/profits will be turned over to the private sector to ensure efficient management. In other words, the magic ju-jitsu of lobbying will turn peak oil into just another mechanism of corporate welfare.

Of course, the best way to avoid this unsavory outcome, is to attack the foundations of peak oil theory -- particularly the notion that we desperately need oil to function.

I agree with you, but I also think the market will not do enough, in time, and it will be poorly focused.  Which leaves us with what?
It leaves us with extremely high prices at the pump, which is a good thing. Sky-high gasoline prices are the solution, not the problem. The higher they go, the better. So I think the best approach is complete laissez-faire.

There's a big disconnect between the different camps regarding the meaning of words like "do something" or "do enough". If "doing something" means spending tax money to help reduce gasoline prices, I'm totally opposed to it. People who are conserving gas should not be taxed to lower prices for people who aren't conserving. IMO, that is completely ass-backwards and nonsensical.

This is a country where the divide between the haves and the have nots is growing rapidly, and where people on the lower end of economic fortune drive longer distances, often in older, less efficient cars.  Higher gas prices without some attempt at mitigating the cost for lower incomes might help in regards to peak oil, but it will be disastrous from a social and economic point of view.
Why don't the poor people move, or trade in their car for a scooter, or bicycle, or car pool, or take the bus?
In one community that I know, 65% of the people don't own cars. There is lots of interest in bikes, but riding through a Minneapolis winter is dangerous without decent gloves, face mask, etc. They cost money that is hard to justify. Scooters are even more dangerous when the roads are snowy or icy, because they go faster and on busier roads.

The neighborhood is 3 miles by 5 miles square. For a number of years, it didn't have a grocery store, just a handful of corner markets. Taking the bus to the grocery store, laundromat, job, church, etc., is extremely time consuming even though there is good bus service by American standards. The bus lines are spaced every half-mile or so apart, so it involves some walking for the majority of people. Car pools are fine for getting to work (if you have stable work and can coordinate with someone who works about the same hours in about the same place), but aren't much help generally for shopping or the laundromat.

Numerous studies have shown (sorry, no links tonight) a correlation between car ownership and income level. One of my goals for the community's energy cooperative is to buy a fleet of flexible-fueled vehicles and get an E85 pump set up.

And where would poor people move? Some place more expensive with even worse mass transit and no cultural understanding?

One other question:  JD, how do you get around?

I live in Osaka, Japan, a city with one of the best mass transit systems in the world. I walk to the supermarket because it's right across the street. There's a Korean grocery downstairs about 30 seconds from my front door. There are probably 10 supermarkets within a 5 minute bicycle ride, and people frequently sell vegetables on the street about 2 minutes on foot from my apartment. I do all my shopping on foot or bicycle, although I do take the subway/bus/streetcar quite often. I also travel a lot, and I've been all over Japan by train and bus.
New Orleans was comparable, preKatrina, but on a much more human scale (few buildings over 3 stories tall, greenery abounds in small areas in Lower Garden District).

I had 5 places to buy food within 6 blocks.  Nearest bank, barber, tailor & insurance agent all 4 blocks away.  Two world class restuarants within walking distance, and many more just damn good ones :-)  Office Depot 7 blocks away, main Post Office a mile away.  Much more on streetcar line.

I guarantee you that I cycle in weather much harsher than this community you speak of gets, and I'm rarely uncomfortable. (I'm in central Alberta, Canada. Not Calgary anymore. Now, I'm further north and east. I cycle five days a week. It would take a foot of snow falling in a single night for me to consider anything else.) The extra clothing for winter cycling is nothing compared to the price of a car, and equivalent to a few months of transit passes. A single studded tire (in front), fleece long underwear, a light fleece jacket, a microft shell, gloves, a light toque, and a mask is my winter kit. I might have spent $280 total (Canadian) piecing it together. Throw in a pair of panniers, and you're set. If it were dangerous, I wouldn't be doing it. The vast majority of the folk in a 3-by-5 mile community are only looking at a 10-15 minute trip by bike from any point A to any point B. That ain't that bad.

Honestly, I don't know why people look at cycling like its a fate worse than death.

Besides cycling, there are many other options. Improving bus service is obvious. Car rentals worked great for me. (I'd rent a car for a couple of "chore-days" a month.) A hybrid between taxis and busses could also fill a niche. All of these could work within the current capitalist system. I strongly suspect we'll see things move in this direction (but not enough).

And there are many ways to help the poor without taking away anybody's (rich or poor) insentive to conserve. A revenue neutral fuel tax (tax every unit of fuel, split the revenue equally among the population) is an obvious one.

Don't get me wrong. At heart, I'm a leftie, but I've watched governments bung so many simple things up over the years that the thought of government intervention on anything important makes my sphincters cinch. Governments are just so good at doing the wrong thing. Since governments are necessarily somewhat populist, and the populous is nothing but selfish, this seems unlikely to change. Big business takes advantage whenever it can, and that's often.

This is why I've mostly stopped worrying about everybody else and began to focus on my own family and the people close to me.

You're cynicism toward government is caused by not having the honest, efficient and wise governance we have here in the States. Right? :)
Do you ride through anything less than a foot of snow, or do you wait for it to be plowed?

What will you do when the plow trucks have no fuel?

In the US the public transportation system sucks, except for a few cities.  We dismantled most of it decades ago.  By and large, we've surrounded our cites with suburbs, and increasingly the jobs are out there.  The poor cannot live there, and we've built those areas exclusively for cars.  The roadways were not set up for bikes either, even if the distance were close enough to make that practical.
Because even middle class folks are in an increasingly dire cash and capital squeeze that has been happening since about 1975 as real wiage fail to keep pace with prices.  Too be sure the appalling savings rate rests in part on their own shoulders, but the fact is that many families have been using debt to try to keep pace.  Cars are a hugely capital and income intensive means of personal transport, but most of us do not have a choice in owning one.  For example most downtown developments no longer contain supermarkets which have migrated to edge cities and the shopping malls around the ring roads.  I could go on, but won't.
I think it has already happened.  While I was watching TV last night I saw a raft of GM's yellow gas cap commercials.

They've obviously found political partners in the ethanol campaign, and we are going to see more pushes like Obama's to get every car ethanol-ready.  GM then, would be seen as "ahead" of the rest in peak oil response.  Is that sad or what?

It is particularly galling to for me to see the Chevy Avalanche in the closing shot of each yellow gas cap commercial.  The thing gets 15 mpg real world with gasoline.  Using the rule of thumb that E85 has 2/3 the energy density ... would they really have us believe that 10 mpg on E85 is the future?

US Ethanol just reached a record production level of 280,000 barrels per day.

Given that gasoline demand is running at 9 million barrels a day .. we're at roughly 3% ?  We've got a long way to go to fuel every car (Obama) or talk about "the answer to oil dependence" "growing in front of us" (GM).

I suggest you check out the latest blurbs on  two articles by military writers.  Not a good sign, in my opinion, because our elected leaders should leading the charge.

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

     Thank you for the reference to these articles.  I have not looked at the Bulletin for some time and now feel I have been remiss.  However...
     In what way is this not a good sign?  I have not read the entire reports, but both of them are at least positing that the traditional military intervention IS NOT GOING TO WORK, not because of any deficiencies on the armed forces' part, but because THE WORLD'S OIL IS RUNNING OUT.  I find the  fact that they were allowed to publish this stuff in the venues they did astounding.  
     Yes, they are mostly pushing techno-fixes, but also conservation and better CAFE standards.  (Gasp!)
     While I don't think that this means any kind of abrupt about-face in our disastrous foreign policy, it is a sign that, as Stuart says, the elephant is turning.  I think it also signals a key shift in political allegiance to TPTB.  Or hell, maybe the whole thing is orchestrated to coincide with the "addicted to oil" spiel, but even that would not really be a bad thing.

I found it refreshing that LtCol Amidon discussed the oil "tax" that we pay via our military expenditures.  It is real and substantial.

But there is nothing astounding about the fact that he was allowed to publish it.  Thousands of publically available articles and theses are published every year by officers pursuing higher degrees and attending staff schools.  I take it as an extremely healthy demonstration that the number of PO-aware individuals are increasing invisibly.  Someone somewhere ran across this article and quickly brought it to the attention of the larger, PO-aware community.

This is a perfect vehicle for me to begin discussing PO with my colleagues still in uniform.

Jerome a Paris blogs about the The Real Cost of Electricity.  
Is Bob the Builder a Peak-Oiler?  I was listening to my three-year-old watch Bob out of one ear while doing something else, and the show caught my attention.  It seems Bob and his crew have moved out of town to create a sustainable "eco-village."  I was shocked!

Interestingly, in one part of the episode before Bob moved, the power in the town went out.  Bob made remarks about how people did things before electricity.  Hmm.

Anyway, check it out!  Kind of fun intro to "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" for pre-schoolers.

Also an interview with Bob at "Friends of the Earth":

Damn - it's been years since I had that insipid song stuck in my head, and here the mere mention of it brings it back!  Curse you!
Har Har-- feel my pain, baby.

Sorry bout that!

Regarding Iran, it looks to me like the diplomatic maneuverings will be completed soon.  The US will have enough resolutions and other tools that can be used, along with a thin veil of spin, to justify whatever actions it wishes.  Presently we're pushing for a deadline (these are really great to have, allowing you to draw a "line in the sand").  From there, it is just a matter of logistics and finding a time that the madmen believe will work.  

Both the US and Iran seemed to be spoiling for a fight - both seem to think they will prevail.  Both sides eying the oil just on the other side of the boarder, and hoping to lead the other to overreach - thus eliminating a power rival.

Sounds like July, 1914.
I think it's much less symmetrical. The US is and has been spoiling for a fight on many, many fronts. You know the list. Iraq showed the futility of rolling over, disarming, etc. Iran is simply saying: we are not going to make it easy for you, same with Venezuela, Cuba and a few others. China of course is going to protect its access to energy -- given the tragic decisions they've made to make themselves as dependent on oil as we are.

Nevertheless, any look at actual numbers will quickly reveal who the aggressor is in all these matters. Our military budget = the total of everyone else's. Some 700+ military bases in some 88 countries. No one even comes close! Certainly Iran cannot be regarded as anywhere near a "rival power".

You're right about the direction of things are going: Iran is next, and it may be soon -- mad as it seems.

Put the U.S. in the place of Germany (which was striving for an Empire) and it's a little more symmetrical, politically. However, I was trying to point out the maddness of the whole situation. (And, incidently, I can't understand why the crazies in Washington haven't been able to learn from the debacle in Iraq.)
You're right in that regard Dave.  Iran is reacting, not initiating.  It's quite possible they would have gone in a more open direction without our pressure, but we'll never know now.  However, now that they must circle their wagons, the hand of the hardliners is strengthened.  And they seem to have adopted a rather aggressive stance, which IMHO is an indicator that they think they can trip up the Great Satan.  I think we will find out.
Sorry, but I have to disagree with this; the diplomatic manouevering has barely begun at this stage, and there is no chance of the UNSC green-lighting any military actions on the near-term horizon. The US has no support at the UNSC for any kind of resolution mandating military action - largely because there is no substantive evidence of a weapons programme or a well-founded judgement that Iran will have the capacity, let alone the concrete intention,  to actually go nuclear for many years to come.

The problem with the US strategy is that once the matter gets to the UNSC there is going to be pressure for a serious deal to solve the issue - and this will not necessarily be to the taste of Washington as it will involve things like the dilution of ILSA, security guarantees, the return of frozen assets and direct diplomatic rapprochement between the US and Iran.

I suspect that the Iranians can live with the concomitant requirements that would be placed upon them as they are playing for a substantive, positive benefit; it's unclear what the positive goal that the US is actually playing for  beyond domination of the Iranian polity ( which is unachievable ).

I don't think the UNSC will go along with any actual actions against Iran either, but I don't think that is required.  All that is needed is a pretext (i.e. political cover, primarily for the US population), and the bar for that is pretty low.  Facts are not important, only perception is, and that can be managed quite easily (for a while, anyway).

The UNSC did not authorize what happened in Iraq either, nor was there any evidence of WMD - and you can see how much of a deterrent this was.  

There will be many opportunities for provocation and escalation, if one is looking for them.

I just see that the drumbeat is continuing apace.  I'm skeptical it will happen by the end of March, but things should be ready by the end of summer.

A pretext for what exactly? US sanctions - they already exist. The US may have got away with launching the Iraq ar without UNSC authorisation, and it did actually have some allies to provide cover, but the same routine is just not going to work this time around; the only ally that the US has for military action against Iran is Israel - Jack Straw tends to get quite shouty about there being no military solution to this issue when the drums beat too loudly over in Washington.

Iraq was a chronically weak piece of low-hanging fruit that had a prior history of UN resolutions that could be leveraged for political cover, few allies, internal disunity and an inability to assert its territorial integrity. In the run up to the Iraq war I don't recall Iraqi ambassadors flying around the globe to do deals with Japan and China, negotiate with the EU, pop in to Arab capitals to denounce Israel etc. I suspect that the dominant faction in Washington doesn't believe in the military option either - which is why the warhawks are shouting themselves hoarse over this one.

I doubt that the US public really has much appetite for another speculative military action - especially when there is no solid pretext for launching it, and even more so when the repercussions start to unfold. It's all very well launching a war on Iraq when oil is at $25 per barrel and the enemy is incapable of organising comeback - this is not the case with Iran, and the US is one bad hurricane season away from oil hitting the roof. End of summer - no chance.

But you see, you are using logic.  Everything you say makes sense, it's all reasonable.  The people running this show are not constrained by such things.  The dominant faction in Washington has no other plan besides the military option.

The whole idea of if there is or isn't a military solution to "this issue" is a red herring - the nuclear weapons thing is not really the issue.  Look how we've cozied up to India, Israel, and Pakistan - we could give a crap about the NPT.  It's about oil (and NG), and controlling the sources of it.  Look again at the map - the Iranian oil fields are in a small area just across from Basra.  Watch us bend over backwards to make nice with the UAE, which just happens to be on the other side of the Straights of Hormuz.  

Perhaps you are right, and I hope you are.  But they're going to a massive effort to set this up, and it's not just for grins - they intend to do it if they can.  

  1.  First strike on "nuclear facilities" (probably by Israel), most of which are really Iranian command and control & high value military targets.
  2.  Simultaneously we move to secure the Straights of Hormuz from UAE territory.
  3.  We move to secure the oil fields.
  4.  It's over in a week, we're showered with roses, and it's all paid for by the revenue from our new oil feilds.

I agree on a few points. Logic is not driving this bus.  And it is all about the oil.  So any logical argument against The Iranian Option is a moot argument.  This is not a military problem, but that blunt tool (military action) will more likely be pulled from the kit before the correct tool(s) are (conservation, e.g.).  As the saying goes, When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

This is deadly serious stuff going forward.  And I have no 'insider's knowledge' of future intent anymore than you do.  But I see zero movement towards sustainability.

The Drumbeat rythym was changed, without a lot of fanfare, by the State of the Union.  There is no more drumbeat of war, there is now the drumbeat of "bide our time and hope the next generation of Iranians change their government".

The administration would love to topple to Iranian government, but their hands are tied.  Tied by the failure in Iraq.  Tied by China's opposition to sanctions in the Security Council.  Tied by the Silkworm missiles looking over the Strait of Hormuz.  Tied by last week's deal to transfer nuclear technology to India.

The object of our confrontation (and this administration, using a cold war playbook, sees foreign policy in that way) has changed from Iran to China.  And surprise, surprise, it's all about the oil.  Changing from Supply side to Demand side.  Look for the US to try to undermine Chinese economic growth (and therefore its oil appetite).

Where does that leave Iran?  From a policy standpoint with with North Korea.  Decidedly on the back burner.  But Iran isn't isolated like North Korea.  Their influence is growing.  Growing in Iraq, growing in Palestine, growing in China, growing in India.  The US may not like it, but at this point there is NOTHING they can do about it.

I just posted the following comment on Stuart's "Why Peak Oil Might Be About Now" thread, and thought it might be fun to post it here as well:

This is the 373rd comment on this [i.e. the "Peak Oil About Now"]thread.  Just out of curiousity, I ran my "Print Preview" command on this thread to find out how many pages long it would be if I were to print it out.  The answer: 150 pages.  150 pages for a single thread!  That is literally book-length!

Altogether, I think there has been a marked increase in the number of contributions to threads here lately.  200 contributions used to be exceptional, but now it is almost becoming routine.  Another sign of increasingly broadened consciousness about Peak Oil, I suppose.

For convenience, here's the link to "said thread:"

I think it may also have something to do with a large number of irrelevant posts.

All you have to do is say something like "George Bush looks like a monkey" and you are sure to get six or seven people jumping on in agreement and at least one post that just says "nukular". Claiming the MSM are ignoring a story works just as well.

My impression is that there used to be 200 posts of which 85% were good and related to peak oil. Now we may get 350, but only 75% related to peak oil.

I do think that broadening consiousness about peak oil in the main reason for the increase in readership and comments, as well as for references to TOD externally. However, I have observed on other sites that as the number of commenters grows the quality deteriorates and a lot of posts are only insulting other posters.

I am not saying that TOD is there, but I do think it makes sense for regulars here to try to keep on, or near, topic. Quality makes for a good comment thread  not quantity.

I share your concern but have observed that most (not all) of the posters who are wildly off topic or on drugs fade away.

To some extent they get pushed overboard, but I think in most cases they migrate to more congenial sites where the crazy and the angry and the ignorant trade insults and conspiracy theories.

Yes, you are right. However, I do think that people have gotten so obsessed with Bush that they think anti-Bush rhetoric is appropriate and relevant to everything. I am not remotedly pro-Bush. But I find that the habit of injectng anti-Bush rants into every single conversation anyone ever has is extremely tedious. If this was one or two posters, I would agree that they would go away, but it seems like a fairly substantial minority.

Of course it is their right to say what they want. However, there are plenty of fora for anti-Bushisms and the peak oil discussion is far more credible if it can remain apolitical.

Disclaimer: Just because I don't want to hear anti-Bush retoric 24 hours a day does not make me pro-Bush, a neocon, Nazi, a fascist, or any of the other things you may want to call me.

Both Sailorman and Jack are correct. Jack, I totally agree with your stance on the anti-Bush stuff. Peak Oil has little to do with the current American administration. The blatantly left-left-wing politics of this forum has been commented on before. I will just add that it seriously takes away from the appeal of PO awareness to half of those we might seek to "enlighten." Jack should never have had to issue the disclaimer he did. Yet he did. That should tell us something about this environment.
That means a lot coming from you Hugo.

But don't you think, though, that Peak Oil is perhaps INHERENTLY political for the following reasons?

  1.  The debates about the historical origins of the problem involve interpretations of and arguments about history that are unavoidably shaped by political proclivities;

  2.  The debates about how to best go about solving the problem   are also substantially shaped by political ideologies, and ultimately by underlying value systems (e.g.:  Do we grow our way out of it and place our hopes on technological progress, or do we reshape society to be sustainable rather than growth-oriented?)

In that sense, I don't think it is possible to leave politics out of it.
PO may be a political topic, but all too many people here forget that there are a great many folks from outside the US who post comments on this blog.

Now while the US administration may have some affect on the Peak Oil situation here in NZ, I have absolutely no control over the make-up of said administration.  Therefore I have absolutely no interest in discussing it.

Thus, I strongly agree with Jack that this US-centric, politicising of PO should be taken elsewhere.  I'm sure there are forums devoted to this subject at

And I will also finish with a standard disclaimer that states that I actually voted Green at the last election, so I am also not a conservative, neocon, fascist, etc.

I'm sure there are forums devoted to this subject at

Not really.  Political discussions get moved to the OT forum, which pretty much kills any discussion.  

Oddly, many of the Bush-bashers at are Europeans, Canadians, Australians, etc.  

"Political discussions get moved to the OT forum, which pretty much kills any discussion."

Sounds like a good practice.

I do think that many aspects of peak oil are inherently political. I am not suggesting that posts should not touch on politics at all - of course they should.

At the same time, I think it is clear that not all political topics are inherently relevant to peak oil.

For example energy policy is political and closely connected to peak oil. If someone writes that Bush's energy policy doesn't address future energy supply, obviously that is relevant.

On the other hand some recent comments are pure anti-Bush rants that do not relate to energy. The one I cited on an earlier thread referred to Republicans using in uniform military members as props at political rallies. This is typical of a large number of posts that are 100% Bush bashing and 0% energy or oil related.

Think about it this way: If a group of people started writing in to the comments section with 5-10 posts a day that only said how good Bush is, would this bother you? Would you think it was relevant? What about when 10-15 people started to insult them and say how bad Bush is?

None of this has anything to do with my opinion of Bush, which is not high. But I do think a new set of manners is required for obsessive Bush-bashers. I don't think this group realizes that this single topic takes up so much time and covers the exact same ground over, and over, and over. I am sure many feel that this is a message that must be heard, but they should realize they are turning people off, not converting them.

I didn't think Donal's post was out of line.  This is something many people are worried about, and something Tainter covers in The Collapse of Complex Societies.  We can expect to lose our freedoms as collapse approaches.

Bush and the GOP are in charge and get the brunt of the blame, but I don't think it would be much different if the Democrats were in charge.  At least, not in the long run.  A society facing declining marginal returns really doesn't have much choice.  

Suggest you check the strength of your glass walls before casting stones about off-topic posts.  While you do have some valuable things to say related to peak oil, IMO there is an awful lot of chaff about your hobbies, your sex life and your opinions about everything under the sun.  

Disclosure: I acknowledge that my nerves are pretty raw just now due to recent posts about the "price of a woman" as an inflation index and "pretty college girls who could make $10,000 (Canadian) per weekend at `massage parlors.'"  Though the great majority of posters here appear to be male, I haven't noticed any others who comport themselves like they're in a boys' club.  

Thank you for your observations. However, there is a Big Point (BP) here. It is my strong contention that discussion of Peak Oil without serious discussion of major and I mean MAJOR changes in lifestyles is pointless--and even counterproductive.

Thus, in my efforts to be funny (not always successful) I am trying to make the point, which seems obvious to me, that the essential problem is to rethink the way we live and to change our habits accordingly.

Now is that off topic?

No, it's not.  I quite agree that the examined lifestyle, so to speak, is on target.  And as I said, you do have much to contribute, and therefore, I read your posts.  As a number of people have noted recently, the posts here are increasing so rapidly that it is more taxing to get through them.  So I do think that a bit more focus would help make your Big Point more effectively.
Real estate bubble.

The parents of a friend of mine are trying to sell a house in suburban Douglas County, Colo. In the past two months, they've had a whopping two people want to look at the house, even thought it's pricing allegedly below market. Another friend just bought a 500 sq. foot condo for ~$250k in Denver-proper.

Is the bubble going to burst where urban areas become even more unaffordable and suburban areas are worthless?

I hope not. I'm a renter. :(

History of cities and hard economic times:

When bad times happen, humans flee to cities.

  1. Jobs or the hope thereof.
  2. Protection.  (Rural areas - today a .50 cal can reach out and touch someone for miles.  Now, you might get touched by a bullet in the city, but at least the cop per mine ratio is better than in the rural areas and marshall law is enforceable in a city)
  3. Farm work mostly sucks.  Lotsa work, not alot of pay.

So, land in the city will keep should go up, with rural land dropping in price.  
Thanks for the rural vs urban comparison, but what you are unaware of is that Douglas County Colorado may have the population density of rural land, but it's suburbia. Over heard of Highlands Ranch -- poster-child for evil sprawl? That's largely in Douglas County.
Highlands Ranch really is a desecration.  When I was a teenager, I could pack a lunch and get access to the ranch (it really was one) from the Highline Canal and ride my horse all day.  There were also many trail rides that took place there at various times.  Nothing but cattle, coyotes, hawks, magpies and so on to see.  Drank from the cattle troughs (water pumped by windmills!), caught snakes...good times.  
Seems to me that all real estate will decline in value, eventually. Post peak-oil, jobs will become harder and harder to find, wages will decline, purchasing power will take a dive. You may be paying more for food than for housing. You may be paying more for security than for food. The payments you make may not be made in money, but in kind.
If you are paying more for food than housing and more for security than food, then ALL real estate will not decline. Real estate in places where one can have food and security might increase (say - Montana tight community or Oregon coast..)
No, the Oregon Coast is a dump!
There is nothing to see here, keep moving....




Same for the Washington's been going downhill for years!
The trick is to show them the rain amounts.
70-90 inches of rain a year chases them away.
Since I am used to 60 to 100 inches of rain per year, I would be quite at home.

However, the low quality of the food (true anywhere in the US except SF & maybe NYC) would be problematic :-(

And y'all still haven't figured out how to hold a proper festival.

Speak for yo'self when it comes to food and partying. As a seacook of high reputation and a party planner with credentials going back to U.C. Berlkeley in the early sixties, let me tell you that San Francisco food is now wildly overpriced and not as good as it was back in the fifties, when you could get
1. Genuine Italian pizza at Lupo's
2. Fresh fish and other seafood prepared in old-country ways (mostly Italian)
3. Real Chinese food, not the greasy imitation glop now served.

Also, some of the best food I've ever eaten has been made in Honolulu by cooks just off the jet from various Asian countries. And in regard to partying, Hawaiians are into advanced partying . . . . and Jamaicans too.

For music, Jamaica can stand up to New Orleans. Indeed, were I trying to rebuild NO up to previous standards, I'd import a bunch of Jamaicans and probably some people from Trinidad and other West Indies islands.

Yes, it does get complicated!
Hey all,

I have a couple things I want to put on the table, but first off I want to say that I've been lurking for a good bit and always find the site professional and informative so keep up the good work.

First off, a buddy of mine works with a major biotech firm and says they are working on "ethanol corn" which would have a much higher sugar content.  I don't believe that we can grow enough energy for lots of reasons that have been discussed here, but still thought you all might want to kick around the feasibility of bio-engineered corn and what it might do to the feasibility of large scale ethanol production.  

Secondly,  I have just a general frustration in the fact that I hang around with a bunch of fairly intelligent engineer types and I just can't get them to believe that peak oil is possible.  They just can't seem to believe that such a radical change is on the horizon - and they are the educated tech types that should be able to think outside of the box.  So, if you all had to put a number on it, what percent of people are capable of understanding that everything we take for granted is based on cheap energy and that can change if peak oil hits?

thanks all


Welcome thomas!

Even if we're educated and technically savvy, we're all still humans.  And it's very hard for some (most?) to imagine a world where the assumptions of a lifetime aren't true.  Especially if that means not having as much in a world that has taught us that he who dies with the most stuff wins.  

Also, we've all been taught that technology will prevail and save us, and it's tough for those of us who work with technology to doubt this.  

thomas - ask your friends 'how much' more sugar??
Suggestion-- be patient and point out to your friends such credible resources as the Hirsch Report, Simmons' writing, the ASPO, and select posts from this site and others.  As Twilight said, engineers are people too, and tend to be as upwardly mobile and often as concerned with material gain and societal advancement as any other professional.  

Smart people are naturally and rightly skeptical about anything that suggests radical changes to their world views.  The intelligent analyses of experts will strengthen your case.

If you want to give them some hope (not the whole solution, but a good start) point them to my "addendum" to the Hirsch Report "Electrification of Transportation as a Response to Peak Oil",

IMHO, it makes sense even without Peak Oil.  National Security, Economic Security, Global Warming, make the SPR last longer are all valid reasons to pursue the goals mentioend.

My guess is that they have lived in a world of cheap energy all their lives, and just can't imagine energy prices going up big time. I don't know what process(es) are required to "bio-engineer" corn. However, you should find out if it's going to require synthetic fertilizers. If so, ask them where those fertilizers will come from...then check future availability (read: price) of that source.
"ethanol corn" which would have a much higher sugar content.

  1. Its called Sweet Corn, and already exists.   Green Sweet corn 'stovers'  is 7-15% sugar.  Sugar beets (used to MAKE sugar) is 20%.

  2. Bugs LIKE sugar,   Raising the sugar content will just attact other bugs.   Lets say they make a 30% sugar corn plant.  Anyone wanna bet some bugs will find that new corn plants 'sweet!'

like modifying the 'switchgrass' for 'better' energy production - anyone wanna bet there isn't a bug that won't find the modification tasty?
Hey, if you're in the modification buisness it makes sense to jump on board ;-).

I personally think surveying existing plants and crops might be a better first step (done?) than immediately modifying the current favorites .. but hey, take a chance.

Even if these things do get governemnt grants, a few research boondoggles (worst case) will be cheap compared to the horrific production subsidies.

Heck, the modification program might be cheaper than the airtime GM bought for yellow gas caps last night.

Get them personally involved by asking them well framed and specific questions requiring a mild degree of technical thought and a 1 page calculation?  When they see the numbers don't work, they'll come around.  

Start off slow?
Where do we get our power from in Ourtown?
How much power can you get from a 10 ft diam windmill here in Ourtown?
How much solar power can we get from a cell in Ourtown?  How many solar cells would it take to power my (your) house?
How much money could we save if we put cells on the roof?

NOW!  Ask them why they are working on making BioDiesel?

Agreed.  Put the onus of proof of their convictions on them, instead of you trying to prove the PO case.  Start at the high-level, easy-to-answer questions that beg the next set of questions.  Something really softball like:

  • What is current production and growth rate of production?

  • Show the discovery vs. production information.

  • Read the Hirsch report

And when they come back with classic "some techno-fix will solve all" answers just shrug your shoulders and leave doubt in their mind.  I'm still trying to find the right mix of approaches and facts, but allowing an intelligent person to doubt their convivtion and letting that doubt gnaw at them seems to be the strongest approach I've yet found.

Get a pdf of the Hirsch report and send it to them.  That is one helluva "red pill".

Well OK, but better to feed them one small pill at a time.  Nobody likes the BIG RED ones.
Oily to bed,
oily to rise,
never too oily
to worry
about oil's demise.
A reassessment of the oil reserves by Samsam Bakhtiari. probably explains by Bush wants to stay in IRAQ forever.

Interesting.  Bakhtiari's assessment for Iraq is pretty much the opposite of what Kjell Aleklett and others have heard: that, like Kuwait, they have about half the reserves claimed.

Reuters reported today that US and UK forces plan to be out of Iraq by early 2007.  Of course, the U.S. immediately issued a denial, but my feeling is that they are preparing to bail out.  No matter how much oil Iraq has, it doesn't do us any good if we can't secure it.

If you assume that Bush and all his fellow oilmen know about PO (something I consider to be painfully obvious), and if you assume that they're not all that concerned about killing off many thousands of Iraqis (ditto), then it seems perfectly reasonable to conclude that they're very happy with the current situation.  

They've locked up a bunch of oil and natural gas, forcing higher prices now (more money for them and their friends), and they've turned an entire, major exporting country into a de facto strategic reserve.

In the short run the higher prices will encourage much needed conservation measures, and in the long run that reserve (a.k.a Iraq) will help fuel the transition to a post-oil world.  Bush and his cronies don't care much about people (ask the Katrina victims), but they know that a crashed civilization is VERY bad for business.

I don't think Bush and company are happy with the current situation in Iraq.  I suspect they discovered that Iraq doesn't have nearly as much oil as expected.  (Otherwise, why not make the survey public?  It was supposed to be made public in 2004, but is still classified.  Sounds like it was bad news.)  

And Iraq was supposed to be just the first domino.  The low-hanging fruit that would spread "democracy" (which translates as "free market capitalism," of course) throughout the region. Remember the giddy first days after the fall of Baghdad, when there was all that talk of taking Syria and Iran next?  

Perhaps worse of all, Iraq has become a political liability.  The voters have turned against the war.  For that reason, Bush wants to start bringing the troops home before Election Day.  His life will be a living hell if the GOP loses control of either the House or Senate.  That would open up his administration to the kind of investigations he's mostly avoided.  

In the last couple of days, John Bolton, the American ambassador to the United Nations, has been making some "interesting" comments about Iran. According to Bolton, Iran must expect "tangible and painful consequences" if it continues to defy the international community by pursuing its nuclear programme. Iran is also characterised as being a "comprehensive threat" to international stability and progress. Bolton also seemed to suggest that "action" against Iran was indeed a possibility and that it was perhaps prudent to take this action now rather than waiting, when this course might become rather more risky.

He also hinted that one could cut out part of the nuclear cycle, and thereby break the chain so to speak, and hinder or effectively stop Iran's nuclear plans. Hitting the weakest link in the chain argument.

This is, I think, meant to massage public opinion which may regard a large scale attack on Iran as folly. Bolton is thinking of a "surgical strike" strategy here. Hoping that such action will lead to the Iranian regime being totally discredited and some sort of popular uprising taking place leading to regime change.

Recent reports have suggested that a large scale attack on Iran to wipe out it's nuclear industry for years, would cause over 10,000 casualties, and Iran might retaliate on American forces in the gulf which are vunerable, and the United States might reply to any such attack by nuking Iran rather than risk "defeat". Sorry this is so "Doomsday" like.

However, other Western observers do not agree with the Doomsday scenario. They believe, given the complex internal politics of Iran with so many groups competing for influence and power, that an attack on the nuclear programme would be "accepted" as long as it was clear that the United States was not aiming for regime change. After all the powerful Iranian army does not relish the thought to fighting the United States and even if they could severly damage and perhaps even destroy the American army in Iraq, they would still eventually lose, simply because they don't have nukes.

Clearly this is all very speculative and full of "ifs" and "buts". It's also a scenario brimming with dangers and endless possibilities for miscalculations and untold consequences. Accordingly we could be only months away from nuclear war or we might not be. I'm not sure whether Iranians prefer poker or chess?

If they were in charge, we'd stay.  I think the worm has turned.
Interesting story on hurricanes/insurance:
Berkshire Hathaway, the investment group run by Warren Buffett, is pushing up the price of hurricane insurance as a precaution against the possible impact of climate change.

Mr Buffett said it remained an open question whether "atmospheric, oceanic or other causal factors have dramatically changed the frequency or intensity of hurricanes" but after the worst quarterly losses in industry history it was prudent to limit exposure.

Berkshire's insurance subsidiaries lost $3.4bn from the 2005 US hurricane season - a significant drag on otherwise-healthy annual results published on Saturday.

"Our ignorance means we must follow the course prescribed by Pascal in his famous wager about the existence of God," Mr Buffett wrote to shareholders. "Since he didn't know the answer, his personal gain/loss ratio dictated an affirmative conclusion."

I think part of the problem with sharing information about peak oil has a lot to do with our civilisations attitude to "progress". We believe in "More". (Stuart seems to believe or genes have "programmed" us to pursue "More". I'm not so sure. Though I do believe we've an age old, genetically prompted desire for sugar and salt, thereby forcing us to "go out and get it", which is perhaps a metaphor for our whole "Capitalist" civilization?).

We believe in "more down the road" because that's how it's been for the last 250 years, hasn't it? We also appear to see time and history as a linear process don't we? It' the progressive view of history, we are moving along an ever upward continuum with more and more just up ahead. Crudely put this is the ideology of Capitalism - Growth.

It's hard to think of capitalism minus growth, right?

So expecting people to "understand" peak oil and it's consequences is a really Big Deal. We're almost asking people to turn the world on its head! We're perhaps talking about a new paradigm of time and history too.

Before Capitalism time was different. Feudal society was cyclical in its very nature. Seasons went around and around. I would propose that time did as well, at least for the peasants who were part of nature and the land.

So, if peak oil is true and growth stops or slows down, were going to be talking about some pretty big changes in the way we understand the world around us.


The big key to the holistic solution to PO, GW, etc., and the very thorniest problem IMO, is for John Q. and Jane Doe to give up much that they cherish.  Our whole existence has been an unending succession of more, more, more.  And we have to embrace "Less".

Most people I know cannot or will not get passed the notion that they will have to give up expectations, comforts, convenience, etc.  It is truly stupifying to see how well the average person can rationalize away reality.

I see the government's concerns in a different light.  In the end it is about political power and energy.  Our economic engine provides the US government with an historical level of clout and influence.  I believe the guv "gets" PO.  But I also believe that they are gaming the hell out of this to see how to "win" the game.

Ever watch the movie WarGames?  See the quote that begins:

Joshua: Greetings, Professor Falken

How 'bout a nice game of chess, w-man?

Ah, but the computer learned from its failed simulations. Are humans smart enough to learn without first bringing about a huge dieoff?

From the song, "The Rising Sun"
Odds against going to heaven, nine to one.

Whoops! Meant to say:
HOUSE of the Rising Sun

"There is a House in New Orleans,
They call the Rising Sun, . . . "

BTW, Alan, is it still there?

I think an extremely dangerous ethanol lobby has been created.

Ethanol governors and Archer Daniels Midland Corp have been together for some time.  GM pushing hard into the same interest group with their yellow gas cap campaign is beyond sad.

It is (as I said) dangerous.  It gives another cycle of false promise and solution to the current generation of (GM SUV?) buyers.

Looking today at the Chevy website, and clicking on the yellow gas cap, the first question asked is:

"What if the answer to our dependence on oil, was growing right in front of us."

Survey:  Is this really the answer (and should I relax), or is this (as I fear) a terrible distraction?

It is always very difficult to explain the importance and possible implications of Peak Oil, even to people who should be able to think out of the box.

I think the main problem lays in the fact that oil is generally associated with fuel. As it is widely accepted that we will run on biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen( this one for sure not), most people don't (want to?) see the problem.

I've read and seen several MSM outlets here in Holland (TV, Newpaper NRC Handelsblad, topic nr 4 on, see also my comments)covering PO and these were all concerned how to run the transportation networks of the future.

As long as people can't see the broader picture of our dependence with regards to food, water, health and the like in most cases it's quite hopeless to get through on PO.

Sent to six or seven "pivot points" of decesion (or indecision) in my community:

(("Fair, Fair enough," says The Mother, "for Now at This Time and This Place, yes."))

(all UnFormaTted foR youses )

From a Concerned Citizen:

Answers Please, .... and anything resembling the following answer will NOT be acceptable: "No way THAT would happen and no one expects ME (US) to be Ready for THAT !!!".   You are Now aware of "THAT" possibility (many "that's" to consider really).  So Now you should take it very seriously.  Ignorance really is No Excuse when it comes to Mother Nature's Laws.

This is "For the Record" - "just in case".... Feces that THEN when people from Now are asking questions like,"""Should we just Blame George Bush again - or is that getting too old and too infantile ?"""


For each of the Following (and for posterities sake, or "rear-view-mirror" clarity's sake THEN), please provide a brief or lengthy Short answer or ESSAY answer to the question.  Keep one copy for yourself if you want.  Spellin and grammatics are optional and will not be considered relevant to the grade - finger-painting is acceptable even):

1. If this week Iran declares an Oil Embargo and Nigeria loses 95% of its Oil Export Capacity due to crippling blows to its oil infrastructure by the (rightful owners of the oil) the Jungle Rebels... how might that affect your plans for NEXT YEAR's school system (how it functions in general)?

 2.  How will You get the Children to your Schools in the event that in the Not-to-distant-future Fossil Fuels are rationed or not available for your busses?

  1. How will You heat the Giant Elephantine Schools (that few can get to from their homes) in the event that Fossil Fuels are rationed?

  2. What Emergencies might crop up for You Personally at WORK that are not typical and how might they affect the performance of Your job?

  3. What Storage resources for Fossil Fuels are available now and not being used in our community, and that Might be a Godsend in the Future - to help maintain community Confidence( in Emergency Services At THE VERY Least)?

Look/Listen/HEAR for just ONCE... - just because it is NOT in Your Own Personal life experience does NOT mean it is Not Possible, or more correctly, now INEVITABLE that it becomes a part of your life experience going forward from this current "Here and Now."

ASK your grandparents about Life in (CITY) during WWII, The (little) Great Depression of the 1930s, WWI, and the Oil Shocks of the 1970s-80s...  How soon we forget... how soon we discard the RECORDED COLLECTIVE MEMORIES as well as their Knowledge and PERSONAL experiences in OVERCOMING these kinds of obstacles.  History's WAVES break over time and they tend to Break in Similar Patterns (that's why Mark Twain did not, but wishes he did, coin the phrase, "History Rhyme)s.

ANSWERS DUE  - DATE:"hmmm....Depends,"  - Says the Mother Of Nature as She sits doing Her Nails (and teeth...).... (she likes giving Pop quizzes... just ask the folks in New Orleans...)

Please leave us regular-Jones and -(former) Mrs. Joneses out of the Public View Please.  

Sorry but This is YOUR MESS.  You are the ones left Holding The Bag we all knew held nothing but BILLS from our past, as well as our parent's past (all those pension funds, social security pyramids, expectations of Eternal Parabolic Economic and Population Growth... and other assorted Delusions we Masses have created for ourselves.. that stuff, remember???).

 - SORRY AGAIN but You are the ones Currently elected, volunteered and/or paid to be RESPONSIBLE for YOUR ... well, your responsibilities.  (Unless of course you ask George Bush or some Gubinor to take care of wiping your butt on a daily basis...).

PLEASE NOTE - I have "made contact" over time in some cases and have tried to deliver the Blow of REALITYas softly as I can too.  Who knows what it take to break the Spell" of the Current Mass Delusion on an individual level... and the resulting complacency Spell too...

-----( edited slightly for profanity and brevity, and that is enough editing for me for one week, okay?  already? lol )------------------------------

... NO ONE person is RESPONSIBLE... for most of the Unanticipated and Very Difficult to deal with messes they soon find tossed on their poor plates --- Just like everyone's favorite but-Falsely-Crucified-President Bush.

We All walked blindly into this wall together...

Confidence and quietly adjusting in the background the best you can is All that is Reasonably Expected.

In other words Doc, the Emperor was naked and we all know it - it's Our collective mess and unfortunately you folks happen to be holding The Bag when We least expected it (LOOK AT THE &$^#* jumping into the STOCK market POOL - my godzAin't Mighty!! - can't we ever learn even ONE THING from those stupid dusty bound pile of paper in the corner over there !!  Just $%^$#$ Once?

Complacency claims more lives each year than all other mechanisms of death combined.

Typical Mother...

The Brightest One Who Disliked Me The most had the most unusual and creative idea for solving at least in part the problem of the Old Rickety School Water Boiler... and also the most quickly dismissed for more Conventional and possibly Much More Expensive Solutions for both the Here-Now and the Here-later... what solutions Then Mother??

BUT to be honest and Fair:

You really can Not blame them.  No one else has "got it" yet either, so they can rightfully claim 'how could WE in particular" have been Expected to anticipate this?"

But, I think that will fall on deaf ears (hungry, cold deaf ears) of People carrying stones, PitchForks and Torches.... And I think The Mother of Nature will certainly not care either- she is alot like that Helen Keller... except with one boob sticking out and holding scales..

You just answered yourself 3 times. You have to get help with the methamphetamines, man. Nobody is even reading your shit. You are high.
It's not meth brother. This is one of the normal sheeple who has accidentally stumbled into our TOD pit.

This is how they "think".

We at TOD have advanced to a level of rational thinking so above theirs that it makes "their" thought product seem incoherent. Maybe with enough input from our brain waves --assuming the sheeple head accepts outside input instead of bah bah bahing on-- he will convert into a coherent electronic entity. If not, there's not much we can do but hit the "next" button everytime we see the sheeple head's name.

Remember brother, before we each became PO-aware, we were like it is.

(((Yes Mother - once again... boring isn't when the
INTELLECTUAL MIDGETS come out to play.

The onze first to pick of the stones are the onez most threatened by that they Can't understand - deaf,dumb and blind... BUT not quite up to good 'ol Helen-On-Wheels Keller SPEED in that little egg-shell cranial cavity ...

pretenders... naked under their pretty POSTERCHUILDRENS clothing... Yup.. all naked on the inside.

And Pink?  Yes, until cooked... hey, how are those coals coming along anywaY???  Here and NOW i mean ;p)))

MOTHER SAID i kin say, "Ucka-A, OuYa-A"... Okay ladies?  (just teasin' don't shit yerselfses tightsphincter boyze wit butt-suits-O-Plenty )


Educate ONE (tech/shop) Teacher or local person at a time in an area that will HELP your community Next Yea.

Just an example of some "coupons" made and sent to local Very Responsible-Type-HAIRCUT&SUIT school person a couple week ago... just an idea, wtf ??/...

This Coupon Good for TWO (2) Seats in:

    Solar Lifestyle: Intro to Renewable Energy!

Date: Saturday, March 4, 2006, 9 am to 5pm
Are you interested in living a more sustainable life based on renewable energy, but don't know where to start? Then this is the workshop for you. Kurt provides participants with a broad overview of what renewable energy is, how it works and how it can be used to power or heat your home.

Topics Include:

  • passive solar home design
  • solar cooking
  • wind electric systems
  • solar water heating
  • solar electric systems
Course Instructor:
Kurt Nelson, SOLutions
Course Location:  
Midwest Renewable Energy Association  
7558 Deer Road  
Custer, WI 54423
Course Materials/Prerequisites:  
  • note pad
  • pencil
  • lunch