Thurs open thread

Sorry to leave you hanging today. (Get it? Hanging by a thread?)
I've noticed a few comments in the recent threads that has me thinking. It seems we are continually blaming the American Suburanite for thier consumeristic ways. But I wonder how fair that is.

Someone from Peraguay (?) posted how they don't have AC there and they get along fine.

Sailorman mentioned how farmer kids don't want to farm any more becuase of the hard work and low pay.

My thesis is that, anyone, given the opportunity, will take comfort over hardship.

Look at the quote at the top of The Oil Drum today.

"A third of humanity doesn't want to ride bikes anymore; that has profound geopolitical implications."
--Anne Korin, the co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (May 1, 2005)

We have just had the ability to purchase (although with debt) the cars and a/c and houses and avoid the hardships of heat and humidity and biking etc. So I don't think this is just an American mistake. As the Chinese middle class grows, won't they be doing the same thing? Doesn't anyone once they have the money to do so?

Ok, I'll be quiet now. :)  Thanks for listening.

I absolutely agree that there is no point in blaming suburbanites for living their lifestyle.  They simply reacted to their environment.  Bought houses where they were cheap, used lots of gas because it was plentiful, ect.  I'd argue it was a lack of leadership that created that environment.  But don't the people deserve the leaders they elect?  If no one was clamoring for change why would the politicians push it?  Chicken or the egg?  Maybe they are both rotten.

A more insightful question might be how Europe has positioned themselves better than the US for Peak Oil.  They've had high gas taxes for years.  So now they have an infrastructure of public transportation, towns where you can walk to shop, and a fuel efficient car fleet.  Why did they do it?  This is not a rhetorical question.  Who was lobbying for high energy taxes?  

Help us out Europeans...

As to why Europe is different, I would argue that it is a function of history. They are simply older nations that have cities from hundreds of years ago, thus they are still compact and don't require cars. Notice that our older cities (NY, Boston) are more like Europe. But our younger cities are more auto-centric.

As for our political leadership. I am rather cynical on this topic. I look at our last Presidential vote. Both Bush and Kerry were members of Yales Skull and Bones. My point being is that it is all beyond our control. We really have no say in who runs, wins, or the decisions they make afterwards. Just my opinion.

Hell, I don't have AC in my place. "But, you live in Alaska where it's cold" you say...yes it is cold in -50F in Jan. BUT our highs in the interior get into the 80s regularly and we have a week or two of 90s every year.
Interestingly I have found out that petroleum fuel tax was first imposed in UK on 30th April 1909 at a rate that reflected 35% of the retail price!! This percentage dropped when fuel became more expensive to about 20%. On this basis I suppose the politicians got stuck in to it so early on we never got the chance to protest!!
I don't think Europe is that much better to be honest, and I live here! It's marginally better but at least in the UK our public transport systems are still viewed by many as being inferior to cars.
How has Europe done it? Put it this way - "free market capitalism" can't handle problems of a qualitative nature. Policy can, IF you have competent folks making it.
My impression of my own country, Sweden, is that we have positioned ourselves for other problems then peak oil and that hase given us a basic infrastructure suitable for peak oil.

The most important reason for petrol taxes has for a very long time been fiscal. It gives a lot of money to the state budget. The main reason to implement the tax were to finance road building and maintainance. But since we more or less withouth interruptions have had a socialist governmnet that tries to implement socailism by raising taxes and enlarging the government sector they have allway been raised. During the last 4 years the increase have been quicker due to our greens demanding it for enviromental reasons.

We had early on an advanced electromechanical industry, we imported coal but had plenty of hydro power. We started early with railway electrification to save coal and expensive locomotive maintainance and get larger capacity for exporting ore.

WW2 kind of worked in our favor. We were lucky and licked ass to avoid being attacked and during the war we had a massive crash program for almost complete electrification of our railways to save coal wich we imported from nazi germany in exchange for iron ore, ball bearings, etc. Car use and road building boomed during the 50:s end especially 60:s but most of the rail infrastructure were kept and some investments done. It has become clear to mee that a large reason for this were Swedens militarization after the second world war and during the cold war. We were second only to Israel in war preparations to avoid being destroyed as our neighbours had been during WW2 and to avoid being forced to again lick dictator ass to save our own. Railway infrastructure were kept and maintained for the potential of fuel efficient transportation if WW3 would be like WW2.

The 70:s oil crisis probably saved some of the railway infrastructure and gave a major boost to our nuclear program wich replaced most of the fuel oil use for small house heating.

In the late 80:s we started to build new railways. I am not sure why, it was probably a combination of enviromental reasons and the recognition that it is good for commuting. New rail links started to be a lifeline for small and medium sized towns that almost were close enough to large growing towns. This building trend continues but only 1/3 of the projects on the wish list are being built within a few years. We will have an outstanding railway network in 2030 or later. :-/

One factor might have been that our capital Stockholm is built on granite rock ground on a set of icelands and creek(?) divided ground. It was expensive to build roads but fairly inexpensive to build subways and it has for a fairly long time relied on railway commuting.

The popularity of fairly dense towns is not easy to explain. We industrilized and urbanised late being a mostly rural country. One component might be that most large industries built during the industrialization had housing built within biking distance giving us manny fairly dense towns that then were enlarged generation for generation.

Perhaps some of the longing for suburban living were satisfied by having summer cottages? Often in connection to an old family farm or so. It has been and still is very common to have a flat in the town and a summer cottage or caravan. Areas with summer cottages fairly near large towns did later transform intor suburban all year housing.

Peak oil is probably now becomming a major factor for city and infrastructure planning. One idea in my home town Linköping that I realy like is to build new bus roads with a geometry suitable for future trolley tracks when the economy starts to favor them.

As a North American, I had it explained to me that Swedes also have a national character trait attributed to "Jante", which as I understand it means one should be seen to have "only enough and not more".  

Which gives way to more collectivism - more willingness to make sure that others have enough, and no-one gets too much. If a Swede had too much while others went without, it would result in envy, which in Sweden is a very bad thing (although from what I've heard, there's LOTS of envy in Sweden).  Whereas in North America, having others envy you is sold as a great thing -something to aspire to.  

So, here there's more resistance to doing things for the common good.  Here, your fancy, big car parked in front of your mortgaged-to-the-hilt house is a good thing, but taxes to invest collectively in transit or compact, social housing is bad.  In Sweden, the tradition is the opposite, thanks to "Jante's Laws" and the national character.

In school in Norway we would learn about this law, and it was common to have the students make posters featuring the "anti-Jante-law", wich is a bit more positive, to hang in the classroom. I always thought the law had something positive in it aswell as being very depressive overall, since it disencourages people from joining the "arms-race" where your goal in life is always to have a more expensive car and fancier house than your neighbours. I think the Jante-law might have been a reason why I grew up believing there really was no difference between people in a socialdemocratic country, and rich/poor people only existed in places like Africa and South America.

Anyway, the Law in itself is pretty thoughtprovoking.

the following is from the link at the top of the list after a google serch on "jantelov":

the "Jante-law"

You shall not believe that you are somebody.
You shall not believe that you are as worthy as us.
You shall not believe that you are any wiser than us.
You shall not imagine that you are any better than us.
You shall not believe that you know anything more than us.
You shall not believe that you are more than us.
You shall not believe that you are good at anything.
You shall not laugh at us.
You shall not believe that anyone cares about you!
You shall not believe that you can teach us anything!
Aksel SANDEMOSE 1899-1965 (famous Danish writer)

The "Anti-Jante-law"

You are exceptional.
You are more worthy than anyone can measure.
You can do something special.
You have got something to give to others.
You have done something you can be proud of.
You've got a bundle of unused resources.
You are good at something.
You can accept others.
You've got the capability to understand and learn from others.
There are someone who love you.

You are a unique person, just like everyone else on the planet.

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

Magnus and Jaha,

I want to sincerely thank both of you for your comments about your countries.  I believe that it is vitally important for those of us in the US to see what other countries have done and are currently doing.

My wife spent her junior college year at the University of Madrid (almost 50 years ago).  It had a profound impact on her and she still maintains friendships developed then.

N. America - although settled by periods of the same immigration waves, Canada is very much in affinity with the Swedish system well America is not.
The jante law is a criticism of a national character that sometimes can be quite destructive.  The competition for status has allways been fierce but it has had to be more subtle.

I think much of this is from our country being rural and quite cold during wintertime. You absolutely have to have your house in order, stockpiled food and stockpiled firewood otherwise you die. You have too take very good care of your animals otherwise they die and then you. You have to cooperate with youir neigbours for defence otherwise the Danes or Russians come and steal your stockpiles. You need consensus and working solutions for your problems otherwise nature kills you. This gives that people can be neighbours their whole lives hating each others guts but still get some things done togeather if they must be done.

We also had no nobelity to speak of. Our farmers have allways been an independant class and we have most of the time had an alliance between the king and the farmer class to ballance the small nobelitys power. This and very orderly and logically run state have for most of the recent history made us efficient. It can however backfire into extreme militarism that has bled us white a few times. Authority has been very respected although after a sufficent period of incompetence it is usually replaced, Swedes are very obidient as long as things work well. This has probably been eased by our town, corprorations(bruk) and even state being fairly small.

We logically tore down a large part of our regulations and liberalised in the mid 1800:s to industrialize and attract foreign capital. We had untill the late 1960:s almost exactly the same kind of development as China is halfway thru right now although it took us a hundred years, not two generations.

Our national character with jante, consensus culture and respect for authority was very susceptible for socialism. Communism was rejected as dangerous, probably due to the civil war in Finland. The liberal ideas lingered and influenced our politics and the early generations of socialists were practical people that realy did work for the common good, at least for large scale capitalists. Nobody complained since we had enourmous growth fueled by hydropower, oil, innovation and not being bombed out during WW2. It started to rot fast in the 70:s some years after the original socialists were replaced with career politicians. Now we have a socialist nomenklature that works for maximizing our state to provide jobs for them and their friends.

The local politics are right now quite intresting. I think our socialists are breaking down, more due to internal incompetence then the opposition. Market solutions and pseudo market solutions have for some years penetrated some sectors and the consensus regarding how to run things have started to change. I think we are due for a total state renovation as the one we had in the mid 1800:s.

I am not terribly worried about local large scale prepartions for peak oil. Our authorities are usually logical and we will do the right things if people encourage them to do so, a little late but before most other countries. And there is a small engineer inside most swedes that I am sure will survive our generation of dumbing down culture.

"have to have" I mean "had to have", and "hase" instead of "have". I embarass myself by not reading it thruough before posting, I have to apologise for my bad writing. I realy should start using a spellchecker but it is so much fun to write spontaniously.
I'm a yank, but am still a Tomte deep in my heart~  MorFar was from Lincoping..

I spoke with a Swedish woman in NY a few years ago who was annoyed that America's 'Conveniences' weren't at all convenient.  She said in her town, (which I think was ALSO Lincoping!) that she would ride a bike into town, and then walk around to get to everything she needed.  Thought I was watching a Disney movie!  I'm hoping I can help Portland, Maine get a fleet of small Electric Shuttle buses to connect our main areas, otherwise, it's mostly walkable.

Bob Fiske (nee; Johannson)

It is a small world.

The bicycle lane network has continued to grow. tick off "cykelleder" for bicycle lanes, whole drawn are for biking and walking, dotted line is mixed with car traffic, circles are tunnels. The map is unfortunately not complete some tunnels and bicycle lanes are missing from it.

I live in Skäggetorp, Tornby is the mall area with IKEA and so on and I bicycle to the university in västra valla.  Tick off "hållplatser" to see bus stops, it looks better then it is since the bus traffic only is dense along a few routes.

Other kind of green infrastructure is almost complete coverage with central heating. Most of the heat comes from a garbage incineration plant that also produces electricity. There is also a heat and power plant with three boilers, one for biomass, one for coal and one for oil to diversifie the fuel use to optimise for changes in the market and tax system. And there is a small combined heat and power plant in the form a a marine diesel that is part of the cities electrical icelanding capability if we get national grid problems. It was originally built as an emergency powerplant for meat processing food industries and I think it still can provide them with steam. There is also a fairly large central cooling network wich uses excess heat from summertime garbage incineration to produce chilled water with large centralised absorbtion heat pumps.

All of the busses and most of the taxis and a lot of other cars run on biogas from a local plant that mostly ferments waste from the food industry. The second generation plant is now being built in the neighbouring town Norrköping where it will use left over protein from ethanol fermentation and fresh grass and cereals as feedstock. Yesterday it was decided that the ethanol plant owned by cooperating farners will increase its production from current 50 000 m3/year to 200 000 m3/year in 2008.

Linköping is not conciderd to be an especially green town exept for the biogas where we are a few years ahead of most of Sweden and we have one of the best bicycle lane networks.
Most of the transportation infrastructure money goes to new roads and we need some more roads since a 4 min stop is conciderd a queue problem worthy of solving. People from Stockholm laugh at this where an about 15 min stop is regarded as a real problem. I guess Californians etc laugh or cry at us all. It is nice to have parallell infrastructures for public transportation commuting, car commuting and bicycling, how could you otherwise get it to work efficiently?

We need to invest more in the raiway infrastructure to get parallell high speed double track alongside the current double track that soon will be full with traffic. We have some fairly unused railtracs that could be renovated and replace a fair ammount of car commuting giving a lifeline to some smaller towns. It is unfortunately very expensive but the investments last for decades, if I remember right the normal design lifetime for large road and railway bridges is 120 years. (If that is correct, a lot of the bridges from the 60:s have needed realy major maintainance after only 30 years. I hope that gives lessons learned. )

The main industry in Linköping is not as green. Saab Gripen fighter planes, but it might become a popular product. It is at least the most fuel efficient fighter in its generation and well suited for cost efficient national self defence.  :-)

Magnus, wow. Your comments paint the possibility of a very different picture to the one we are used to in the US/UK. Thanks for sharing!
Magnus Redin, your comment about taxing to cover the cost of infrastructure is excellent.  I've often thought that the simplest and fairest way to cover the costs of driving is to completely balance gasoline taxes with the actual cost of driving, i.e figure up the cost to build and maintain roads and bridges; mowing; lighting; state highway patrol; etc., then figure out how much to tax gasoline to cover 100% of these expenses.  We pay for all of this in taxes anyway, why shouldn't it all be levied at the gasoline pump so that we pay for what we use.  If you commute to work 50 miles in a hummer, your gasoline tax would cover your actual use. and if you use a prius sparingly, you would pay your much smaller share as well.  People would start to make smarter choices.  Furthermore, if a community wanted to add a new road to create a new suburban neighborhood or shopping center, all they would have to do is increase their local gas tax another penny or two a gallon to cover the expense of building new roads.  They'd actually have to think about whether it's worth it or not.  As it is, Americans do pay the full amount in taxes but we don't feel the full amount because it comes out vaguely from our federal, state and local income taxes and what we pay in taxes for car infrastructure varies with our income rather than with our driving habits.
Oh God, that would make so much sense...we will NEVER do this.
I am sure we will have to change our system from a fuel tax to a km fee.

With todays world price on oil and the current taxes biofuels have become cheaper to use then oil based fuels. A mass replacement of oil based fuels have started and if the trend holds it will be complete in less then 20 years. This will destroy the tax base financing our roads and silently funding other parts of the state budget. The biofuels can handle the general sales tax but nothing more and how do you regulate fair tax levels between half a dozen biofuels and industrial feedstocks? The only way to solve this in an easy to regulate and efficient pseudo market way is to have a fee related to road wear and roadspace use. This would also make it harder to siphon off money for other uses within a state budget, that is good since our state is too big and inefficient.

This can be compared to the fees on railway use. The cost for running a train is the cost for the additional maintainance needed when one more train is run on the tracs. New investments are financed with the state budget, the pseudo market only finance the upkeep. The idea is that very expensive "structural" infrastructure is decided by the political process but the running and upkeep of present infrastructure is too be run withouth a political process.
This works to about 50% since the fees are a too small and the state budget for the additional maintainance is too small in favor of large new projects. I hope this will change so that we dont have to have infrastructure maintainance on the day to day agenda.

Furthermore, if a community wanted to add a new road to create a new suburban neighborhood or shopping center, all they would have to do is increase their local gas tax another penny or two a gallon to cover the expense of building new roads.  

The cost for such roads is mostly charged from the people building a mall or other development. General improvements of the road network in municipialities is paid by their part of the income tax. Large improvements are conciderd a national priority and are bult after 5 to 70 years (and counting...) in the nation road building queue with money from the state budget. Rich municipialities jump this queue by lending money for building major rodas from their own budget and then wait a number of years for their place in the national queue to get the loan back without intrest. The same system is used for railway investments.

Local fuel taxes would only result in manny petrol stations right at the municipialities border.

Great discussion. Thank you!
To the extent that Europe is slightly better prepared than America for peak oil, I suspect that this is in part due to a more collectivist political centre of gravity. Although there are great arguments about how much should be done by the state and how much should be done by the individual, the middle ground of these arguments is way over on the collectivist end of the spectrum throughout Europe.

 Few mainstream political parties fail to accept that it is the state's duty to provide medical care largely free at the point of use, free public education for the vast bulk of children, support for nurseries, a minimum state funded pension and state funding for the arts. To the left many want far higher state involvement.

To this end it is accepted that there will be high tax levels. People complain about taxes here as they do everywhere but what is grudgingly accepted as reasonable by the broad mass of people would cause riots in America. Here in the UK income tax of 20% rising to 40% for income over $57,000 pa, sales tax on nearly everything at 17.5%, property tax of an average of $1700 pa  per house, fuel tax that takes gasoline to nearly $7/US gallon, Inheritance tax of 40% of estate value over $500,000, $35/litre on spirits (in addition to sales tax) and corporation tax of 30% on profits over $M2.7 p/a are not a major political issues. The right wing Conservative party has decided to drop commitments to cut taxes as they were not popular in the political centre ground. The left wing Liberal Democrats are generally thought to have won more votes than they lost at the last election by promising to raise the base income tax from 20% to 21%

Thus we accept state intervention on a scale vast sectors of the American electorate would not countenance. The augments  are about how much the state should subsidise energy conservation. Once it is accepted that energy conservation is needed it is assumed that the state will play a major role in this. The mayor of London's proposal to mandate solar energy on all new buildings in the city has met with wide approval as has his implementation of a charge of  $12.55 per day to drive into the centre of the city. Paving over streets to form pedestrian areas is common and popular , Cycle lanes are spreading  rapidly.

In addition to this there is the advantage in some countries, such as the UK, of there being little space for urban sprawl. You cannot live 30 miles outside a UK city, cities are not that far apart. We also have a history of building out of durable materials, brick, slate and stone and a romantic attachment to old buildings. Whole areas of 150 year old buildings are common and 200 and 300 year old buildings are not rare. Compact city centres are rarely  demolished. Old buildings are refurbished and the city centre patterns remain the same. As such many are not well suited to private cars and public transport is more easily accepted.

We still have long way to go and most energy conservation is largely based on climate change which is now very widely accepted and not on peak oil. Sweden is the exception in accepting peak oil at Government level. Still media awareness of peak oil such as on the BBC and UK papers such as the Guardian and Independent seems  to be much higher than the main stream media in America.

In Europe cities are with reach history and people have generally used with the dense building pattern. In addition it is much more crowded and the land is expensive. For these reasons transitioning to car-centric cities was considered undesirable/impractical by both citizens and the government in all Europe. The lack of oil reserves at the time cities were (re)built (after WWII) also played a significant role in the policy making - European governments were concerned about their energy security and the impact on balance of payments.

As a consequence to all of this, in Europe the car is considered a luxury - a point I want to stress upon. The primary mode of transportation is mass transit (very good to excellent in all countries) and the personal car is accepted as a complementary luxury for those who can afford it. In all countries luxuries are taxed and are an important milk cow for the governments. In exchange (in countries with good policy) the governments have been investing heavily in the mass transit infrastructure even though from purely economical perspective mass transit is generating losses in most cases. The states and the individuals have rightfully unaccounted that the gains from saved land, preserved neighbourhoods, reduced traffic and pollution far outweight the subsidies needed.

There was an "artists and global warming" think on CSPAN2 earlier today.  I was surprised to hear (scifi author) Kim Stanley Robinson say that his personal approach was to get back to paleo diet and exercise, as an answer to fossil fuel and global warming problems.  Frequent readers may remember that I've been looking at it the same way.

Robinson said something like, if you look back and user your body like your paleo ancestors did, you find you are using less oil.

That works for me, though I don't expect everyone to choose that path ... buy hey, it does appeal to a certain hedonism/vanity to suggest that responding to peak oil will give you bigger biceps.

Since the major use for petroleum is transportation and the most likely paleo-friendly alternative is bicycling rather than rope-climbing, I think it's more likely to give people better legs.
That's why it's good (and paleo) to "carry stuff." ;-)

Biking definitely works the legs more, but there is some ... is "dynamic tension" the right words? ... as the grip on the handlebars is leveraged to the pedals.  I can feel it in my arms after a long mountain bike downhill ... but that's less car replacement than motocross replacement ;-)

Biking is great.  It has to be the most efficient machine ever invented for transportation.  I have a collection of 4 electric bikes that I use for exercise.  The hybrid design uses an electric motor, powered by batteries, to give you a boost when you need it.  I am amazed they haven't caught on in America.  They are taking over in China.  They will be the next step up in transportation.  
Do you need a motorcycle license to ride a motor-bike? i.e. a bicycle with an engine?
Around here, I believe you can ride a motorized bike that goes up to 20 mph with no driver's license at all.

There are lots of links here:

The US Senate has recently passed a bill which defines a clear legal definition of what an electric bicycle is in the USA.  This is now a new law which has been signed by the president (Public Law 107-319, 116 Stat. 2776), and gives the Consumer Product Safety Commission the responsibility for governing the safety of new production model electric bicycles.

The law basically states that electric bicycles with fully functioning pedals, no more than 750 watts of motor power output, and a top speed of 20 mph on motor power only, are to be treated as "bicycles", and are not subject to motorized vehicle laws.

Electric bicycles that fall under this category are not generally required to be registered or licensed as motor vehicles, and a drivers license is not generally required to drive them. They are, however, subject to all the rules of the road, and additional laws governing the operation and safety of electric bicycles may be extended by state or local governments. This new law offers the freedom of being able to use an electric bicycle on public roads and bike trails to people in every state.

I found that information on the website for an electric bike conversion kit.

See also the "Safe And Complete Streets Act of 2005

...and the To encourage energy conservation through bicycling.

I read the link to the law you provided. It sounds like more of a giveaway to oil companies by outlawing any innovation on the part of home inventors. The awful low speed can't compete in traffic (until everyone abandons their cars anyways!) so it will have limited recreational use. But very limited commuting use when SUV drivers can't see anything smaller than an Abrams Tank.

Worse, the law makes it a Federal Crime to posess an electric bike that doesn't comply. i.e. one that attains 21mph even with a low power enough motor. It's a "controlled substance" like all manner of industrial chemicals!

It would have been nicer if the 750W rating was the only compliance criterion, allowing people to play around with gearing, add a fairing, etc. to get better efficiency. What a disappointment. But that's the Bush regime for you!

Let's face it. A Lance Armstrong makes half a horse at best but can do a lot better than 19.999mph. The motor power is two Lance Armstrongs at full speed. The bike if geared right would thus outrace Lance!

You can still do all that higher end stuff, you just can't call the result a "bicycle" under the law.  I think that is reasonable.

It's scary enough that an unlicensed and unskilled electric bike rider is going to be sharing the bike lane with me at 20 mph.

If someone wants to go 30, 40, ... , let them go be a "motorcycle" under the law.  That is compeletly reasonable.

OK, you have your point. My pet point is that what we want is innovation. To do this, you want an electric-only law similar to the ultralight aircraft law. In that case, if the plane weighs 225 pounds or less, can do less than 60mph, and carries 5 gallons of avgas, it qualifies if it's a single-seater. The result is that people have all but perfectly good planes that barely fit in accord with that law and surely take some amount of flying lessons to use.

For the electric-only law, it would be nice to have a power limit like 750 watts of mechanical work, but you get to add fairing or gear it to taste. The result is that inventors out there will find the most efficient method of getting that 750W to push that bike to highest speed. Most people willing to take a welding rod to a bike frame will think twice before they test-drive their device! Just like those ultralights. I know I would, even with The Law on my side.

Is the Bush regime encouraging fitness like Lance Armstrong? If so, it will fail as he's a pro athlete. How the law is coded is designed to deter innovation, either to encourage athleticness or oil use. Take your pick.

Since we want to encourage energy savings, the last thing we want to do is deter e-binke use. Or for that matter motorcycle use. Make motorcycles easier to use. That'll be good. As fas as e-binkes, all the better. Plug in your 10-speed to use less energy than a lawnmower would be better. Not everyone is a Lance Armstrong.

I agree with that too.  We should allow more experimental vehicles (including ultralight cars) on the road.

Tell me more.  What models, or did you assemble them yourself?
biking is indeed the most energy efficient way of transport for human beings ( more eficient that walking or running due to the use of the wheel). is not fast, but given that our muscles have a fuel efficiency of around 45% and the total mass moved ( bike and person) is minimal there is nothing better out there yet.
Well of course guys.  How else did you think we were all going to fit into our Star Trek uniforms??
I, for one, have had way more than my fill of the surburban bashing that goes on in some places online.  And I think it's insane when people (like Kunstler) start talking about how the suburbs will die off.  Where the heck do these prognosticators think the many millions living in US 'burbs will go?  And at what cost?

No, if anything the suburbs and exurbs will very likely stay populated and be the engines of change that help lead the transition to a post-fossil fuel world.  Why?  Simple: These are, on average, people with above-average incomes and in many cases a clear need to cut back on transportation and other energy costs.  This makes them perfect early adopters for things like the first mainstream, all-electric cars, home solar panels, thermal solar water heating, better house insulation and energy use, etc.

There are working class and low-income suburbs too.  Many of those people live paycheck to paycheck, if they aren't already behind.  Increased transportation costs will hurt.

Some of your above-average income exurbanites and suburbanites have above-average debt as well, and may also be only a few paychecks away from default.  The fiscally prudent will be in better shape, but I suspect the early adopters will also be the first to move closer to work.

The truly wealthy may inherit the exurbs, buying all the items you mention to maintain themselves, buying cheap property and tearing down McMansions to live like landed gentry.  I've been wondering if horse-drawn transportation will make a comeback in rural areas.

For those without a lot of land, Siberian Huskies make a good engine. In far north areas, reindeer can be used, like the Norwegian sport of Skijoring. In this case, a Norwegian puts on skis and a harness attached to a reindeer, then operates the complete "vehicle" like operating a horse-powered vehicle. Dogsledding can be adapted too. Just use roller skis either way. Would it work? Yah, you betcha! Sorry, but it won't attain freeway speed.
Well, what are the jobs that those above-average income people have to be able to live in the 'burbs, especially here in SoCal where a suburb house is around $700K and an exurb house is around $500K? Electron pusher? (i.e. financial services? Mortgage broker?)

I work in financial services. When 9/11 hit, my old company went bankrupt because all of our customers (brokerage firms) went bankrupt because all of their customers (retail customers) lost money in the collapse.

Unless telecommuting picks up in a massive, massive way where many residents of the 'burbs can work at a new job remotely, where will the above-average paying jobs be? And then there's the saying that if your job can be done via telecommuting, it can also be done via outsourcing.
Population size will shrink once growth stops, and the places these people inhabited will atrophy.  These people will not be replaced by newcomers once they "die-off".  Before you fly off the handle at my doomerist impertinence please notice I said "die-off" as opposed to "drop-dead".  Not even JHK claims that millions of people will suddenly dissapear like in some dystopian reverse techno-rapture as a consequence of declining civilisation.  The rest of what you wrote is just wishful thinking as you disregard the significant timelag involved in making these changes given the scale of the challenge.
Population size will shrink once growth stops, and the places these people inhabited will atrophy.  These people will not be replaced by newcomers once they "die-off".  Before you fly off the handle at my doomerist impertinence please notice I said "die-off" as opposed to "drop-dead".  Not even JHK claims that millions of people will suddenly dissapear like in some dystopian reverse techno-rapture as a consequence of declining civilisation.  The rest of what you wrote is just wishful thinking as you disregard the significant timelag involved in making these changes given the scale of the challenge.
The Suburbanite Is Not The Problem. (TSINTP) The problem is the tragedy of the commons, wherein freedom (combined with rational pursuit of self-interest) leads to ruin for all.

I say again: Suburbanites are not evil, not stupid, not immoral. They weigh costs and benefits, just as do fishermen who overfish, feedlot operators who pollute air and water, and peasants who have a dozen children to ensure security in old age.

Any suggestions on on-line resources on energy use in urban transportation that would be good eye-openers/thinking stimulators for upper level high school students in an honors science class? Something with enough meat that it gets them pondering efficiencies of different sources, different conversion processes as well as the different modalities and the issues and trends involved that are driving change but not too far over their heads. (Kunstler's site likely won't work :-))
I suggest an exercise where the students go through some calculations. First, assume hybrid auto sales double annually until they represent 100% of auto sales. How many years does that take? Then, assume a replacement rate for the entire US fleet, something like 5% annually. How many years would it take for hybrids to be the majority of vehicles? How many years until all vehicles are hybrids? Comment on whether or not hyrbids will play a significant role in mitigating oil use in the next 20 years.
Lets hope that honors high school students can do a little more than that.  I would have them work through the energy requirements for providing gasoline vs ethanol vs biodiesel, and write up a paper exploring whether or not our current consumption patterns are sustainable in the future.

Extra credit to anyone who includes the cost of the military in the cost to provide gasoline.

Lou Grinzo's site has a downloadable spreadsheet that compares operating costs of Honda's proposed FCX Hydrogen fuel cell car with a 2006 Civic. You'd need a spreadsheet program to run it though.

Well, speaking of "over their heads", how about this site on Monorail's?  It has dozens of links to monorail sites all over the world and has a pretty thorough discussion of such systems.

If they've ever been to Disney, they can relate.

Or how about the U.S. Dept. of Energy website on transportation?

Or this website at the Center for Transportation Analysis with lots of transportation energy data.

Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
What'd I say?


In a recent discussion (and here and there on TOD over time) the relationship between gas (petrol) prices between europe and US comes up. The usual discussion goes around the larger distances in the US v. higher price in europe = same amount spent. I have been trying to think of an indicator that might shed some light on this. After all we all know both an old lady who just goes shopping in the car (3000 miles /yr) and the unfortunate road warrior rep who has to do 50,000+ miles /yr so this has to be more objective. I have a suggestion, if you go out to buy a used car here (UK) you will probably first buy a price guide. These are updated at least monthly and give a good idea of the price you should expect on a fantasic range of cars and models and ages. Within the price suggestion there is a range of "condition" good, average, poor and an assumption that the car will be "average" mileage. The guide will give an adjustment factor for above and below average mileage. So, if anyone cares to join in, what is the trade expected average mileage for lets say a 3 year old car. Not a Ferrari or a Micra just a run of the mill vehicle. To kick off, in the UK it is 10-12,000 miles per year so the UK figure will be 30-36,000 miles. (approx 48-58,000 km)
Not sure if this is what you are ask, but the average miles traveled per vehicle in the US, according to the Federal HIighway Administration, is 12,497. Over 3 years that would be 37,491. This is, about the same as the number you give. If accurate, it is certainly a little unexpected that people in the US, so legendarily car crazy, drive the same amount as those in the UK, what with better public transportation and shorter distances and so forth, but there you go.
I suspect that is because in Europe (and most places), most families are likely 1 car families.  In the U.S., we will have 2,3,4+ cars per family.  This reduces the miles per car, but greatly increases the miles driven per person.
Excellent point on the multiple cars per family in the US.  I still maintain that if we were to track for one month (miles driven * cost of gas) in the US vs. England, Holland, etc. they may come out roughly equal.  Americans drive more miles, but pay less for gas.  Europeans drive fewer miles, but pay more for gas.  That, perhaps, is why the gas tax is so much more in Europe than the US.  Europeans can cope with that price by driving less.
Also you have to take into account that the average car in Europe is obtaining far higher MPG figures than the average in US.  BTW, while looking for figures on this, I came across the following site devoted to sustainable mobility:-

I have got a nice graph illustrating that in my latest blog entry:

You can see that we lag the world in fuel efficiency.


How does it increase the miles driven per person?  We have 4 vehicles, mostly because I can buy and maintain old cars, so I can keep some specialized vehicles around for towing, hauling, etc.  But even if we had 20 cars, we only have 2 drivers, and would not drive any more miles of any significance.  
Completely agree.  If you can afford the outlay (or have the necessary skills to buy cheap and fix) having a mix of vehicles is by far the most effective thing to do.  If you are buying only one vehicle which not only has to do the daily commute but pull the horse box at weekends - you are going to buy the oversize SUV.  Far better the Prius or similar for the commute, and the old Land Rover kept in the shed for when it's needed.
USA leads the world in the number of motor vehicles per person ( there are 1.2-1.3 people for any registered motor vehicle). In Europe and Japan there are aprox. 1.7 persons for each motor vehicle.

also USA leads in the number of miles/km driven in average by a driver. In the same way the average distance from home to the work place is longer in USA comparing with any country in Europe or with Japan.

Also the average fuel efficiency of the cars on road in USA is poorer than that in Europe/Japan.

This is due to the fact that USA is the first society in the world that was motorized in mass proportion. If I recall exactly around 1920-1930 80% of cars produced in the world were made in America. Mass motorization was of course made possible by the abundance of cheap energy. America was blessed with large reserves of oil that sustained this until well into the '60's. The other sustainig factor was of course the economy and the fact that from the '30's the average income per family was higher in USA than in Europe or Japan. Income gaps have widened even more after WW2. most of Europe and Japan were lying in ruins in 1945. Then the West Europeans and the Japanese got back to work and their economies started to grow faster than America's and closed most of this income gap but since the 1990's USA has been growing faster than both his main economic rivals.

Higher incomes, vast available land and cheaper fuel have led to the urban sprawling. All these are elements that both the Europeans and the Japanese have so far had less of.  I'm sure we in America will have to make adjustments of our lifestyle as the price of fuels will inevitably go up, but I feel that we have the resources to adjust, inovate and adapt...

As woried I can be about the peak oil I stand by the principle that the most valuable resource of any country are the people. I'm, if anything, more worried because of the relative poor performance of the American high school students in the PISA study compared with kids from a bunch of European countries and also from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore ( China's catching up quick too) than from the limited oil availability...

not that will be unlikely that this will shake America harder than Europe or Japan but by all cues we have so far we are at the dawn of knowledge economy. The smartest and best educated will prosper...

I disagree.

Sprawl was the result of a series of gov't policies to encourage precisely this type of development (which is actually a lower quality of life, with more social isolation, more obesity, more time in vehicle, less access to social resources (libraries, concerts, city hall) etc.).  Quite deliberate.

One datum.  I have seen a Chamber of Commerce type film short promoting sprawl into Jefferson Parish from New Orleans circa ~1952, all white faces, etc.  A telling blurb "You can use your VA loan to buy a new home in Metairie, but not to fix up an old home in New Orleans."

And we do NOT have the resources to easily build our way out of this.  Our Balance of Payments is - $800 billion/year and heading south as oil imports cost more.  We have no savings and are selling our infrastructure piece by piece to pay for imports.

Sorry, but your optimism is misplaced.  I know, I live in New Orleans and I clearly see that we are no longer a great nation "that can do anything they set their mind to".

The United States of America is no longer a great nation as we once were.

I can see why you are more pessimistic than me. We shall see.
The Economist strikes again!
(Remmeber their $5 Oil cover story in 1999, when they predicted permanenly low oil prices of $5 per barrel?  I would view this cover story as a very, very strong buy signal for oil.)

Press Alert
20 April 2006
For Immediate Release

Why the world is not about to run out of oil

This week's Economist publishes a special report on worldwide oil markets. Economist correspondent Vijay Vaitheeswaran explains that the world is not about to run out of oil; there is enough to go round, providing it can be extracted.

The oil production peak is unlikely for decades to come, argues The Economist. Governments may decide to shift away from petroleum because of its nasty geopolitics or its contribution to global warming. But it is wrong to imagine the world's addiction to oil will end soon, as a result of genuine scarcity.

Ha, I just threw a bunch of money at USO on Tuesday.

there is enough to go round, providing it can be extracted.

That caveat gives them a bit of an out. Not that anyone in the elite social classes actually pays for intellectual retardation.

Here we go again with the old fallacy of looking at reserves instead of looking at extraction rates.

providing it can be extracted.

Yes, that is a pretty big "if," no?

And there is a virtually limitless supply of methane on some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.  

Provided that it can be extracted.

oh! Don't forget the limitless metals to be found in the asteroid belt!
What gets me about the Economist's attitude is not that they are 'late peakers' but that they seem to think we can simply segue into another form of energy. This has been a theme now and then in Saudi discussions on the danger of too-high oil prices..."customers might start using something else."

Well.... give us 20 years or so (ala Hirsch rpt) and we might come up with a much scaled back version of the current oil-dependent economy.

The Economist post brought to mind this article from Bloomberg yesterday on the subject of Peak Everything.  The author points out how commodities prices are rocketing up and are a hot investment but concludes with this warning to investors --

Speculators have forgotten, if they ever knew, that commodities are notoriously volatile. It's simple. When prices soar, miners mine more, factories make more and farmers plant more. Soon supply outruns demand and prices drop, often disastrously. Check any economics textbook.

What if simultaneously extraordinary economic growth rates in China and India slow to just above-average? That would reduce demand for energy just at a time when, as analysts for Paris- based Societe Generale SA pointed out last week, Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rev up crude oil production.

And what if Americans stop buying gasoline-thirsty sport utility vehicles at the same time? Glowing predictions for sugar- based ethanol might then look off-the-mark.

Of course, if OPEC can't "rev up production," a significant component (oil) of the cost of recovering commodities or processing these commodities or growing corn for ethanol might still remain constrained.  It might also be possible we are reaching the physical limits of one or two of these commodities.

I like that -- "check any economics textbook."  Case closed, I guess.  He must be right.

Personally I find the economist article the best summary of the arguments against peak oil doom that I have read. The only thing missing is the graph of oil production from year zero.

Since it is subscription based, I have summarised
the main points.

Economist article Summary

Steady As She Goes
Why the world is not about to run out of oil

It is arguable both that the world is about to hit peak oil and that such an event would cause economic ruin.

Colin Campbell has been saying peak is imminent since the early 1990s. Kenneth Deffeyes is wrong, global peak did not happen last year.

Non Opec peak around 2010-2015

Peak oil advocates best argument is that OPEC inflated its reserve figures Kuwait's reserve figures always looked dodgy, IHS Energy has been using a 50bbl figure
for a long time. Saudi ones are more reliable.

Quotes USGS to say that there are 3 trillion recoverable barrels in the ground and only a third has been produced.

It is true that finding new super-giant fields is unlikely.
However there are technological breakthroughs that are lifting the recovery rate

  • Multilateral drilling
  • 4D seismic analysis
  • Electromagnetic "direct detection" of hydrocarbons

Sharp peak followed by collapse unlikely to happen
CERA says there should be price signals to indicate peak is near and this would speed investments in alternatives to oil. Peak metaphor is wrong, "undulating plateau"
is closer to the mark. (Daniel Yergin, CERA)

According to the Cato institute, the key to avoid economic disaster is not to impose price controls or other monetary blunders like in 1970s.

Shows a chart (from CERA) which shows the price points where alternative fuels become economic
$80 Biodiesel (excluding tax credits)
$60 US Corn based Ethanol  (excluding tax credits)
$50 Shale oil  
$40 Tar sands, Brazilian cane bases Ethanol, Gas to Liquids, Coal to Liquids
$20 Conventional oil

Oil business transforming from a risky exploration business to a technology-intensive manufacturing business.

Describes GTL projects underway. North gas field in Qatar is bigger than Ghawar when measured interms of energy.

Describes how Chevron brought Kern river oil field "back from the brink" by using a sophisticated steam injection process allowing the heavy oil to be lifted. This technique can be applied in China, Canada and Venezuela.
Saudis have invited Chevron to test this technology in neutral zone. Ali Naimi estimates it may improve recoverability from 6% to over 40%.

Oil production peak unlikely for decades to come. Global warming or geopolitics may influence government
oil policy, but world's oil addiction will not end soon.

Ah yes, yet another "one post to your name" cornucopian troll.
Just what TOD needs.

Yergin has already been widely discredited. The CATO institute is a shill for elites, who could care less about $20/gal gas.
Miraculous undemonstrated and unfeasible technological developments and claims of "technology-intensive manufacturing" has not prevented the drilling of billion dollar dry holes nor suddenly trumped geology, economics, or thermodynamics yet, and will not in the future, no more than we will all be riding around in George Jetson air cars.  Dream on friend, dream on.

Or better yet, actually try reading previous posts on this website that have already covered these issues at length and in depth.

Okay, I want to appologize to you lugumbashi for being too harsh on you personally. I'm sorry, that was a bit uncalled for. Your opinions are as valid as anyone elses.
Please do read up a bit concerning the topics you raised, and I believe you will see what I stated is, in fact, true.
We need a diversity of opinion.

To examine the strongest and best statement of views that we believe to be erroneous is the best way to clarify and examine and strengthen our own positions.

To ridicule or automatically denigrate opposing views, is, in my opinion, extremely counterproductive.

Views expressed in "The Economist" may indeed be quite wrong. But they are not foolish nor to be brushed aside with scorn.

Perhaps if our posts are clever enough we might induce "The Economist" to assign a reporter to looking at TOD on a regular basis;-)

Can't resist.
Your post says more than anything else about why Peak Oil doomsters are likely to be more wrong than right. Yergin discredited? Maybe in your reality. Maybe next year, maybe never. Certainly not today. The danger with sites like this is that they tend to collect people who agree with each other and then they start to develop their own realities through groupthink.
I don't mean to tar everyone on TOD with the same brush, but the number of mutually reinforcing doomsters is growing rapidly. When I see a post like yours I see how debate is stifled because it doesn't fit with your world view.

I have actually been reading TOD for about six months now, and I have been following the Peak Oil issue since the 90s. I think there is substance to Peak Oil, but the subject collects chicken little types very quickly. I have read "The Coming Saudi Oil Crisis" and "The Skeptical Environmentalist". I still find Lomborg more convincing than Simmons.

Personally, I think Simmons is too optimistic.  He worries about war, but thinks if we manage to avoid it, the market will adjust.

Mr Simmons said, however, that there was no need to fear a recession.

He pointed out that higher oil prices meant more revenue for producing countries, which in turn would help to fuel global growth.

His focus, IMO, is too narrow.  He doesn't consider whether infinite growth is possible on a finite planet, even if we do it via railroads instead of cars.

Consider this, with continuing improvement in recycling and extraction efficiency in theory you will never run out of a finite recyclable resource. You may find that an artificial example but I see it as comparable to the infinite growth paradox you mention. In any case Economic growth does not have to be tied to non-renewable physical resources, e.g. service industries.

Of course oil is not recyclable but there are plenty alternatives it is just we need another 15-20 years to ramp them up.

Personally I think a recession is a real possibility, it is one way to reduce demand as alternative fuels ramp up.

In any case Economic growth does not have to be tied to non-renewable physical resources, e.g. service industries.

I strongly disagree with that.  In the end, the base of the economy is energy.  We will not continue the current ever-expanding Ponzi scheme by selling each other insurance.  

That's excellent we found a point we disagree on.

The finite world/infinite growth paradox was the thesis of Ehrlich's "Population Bomb", The Club of Rome's "Limits to Growth" and even Malthus "Essay on Population". They were all wrong, because they assumed growth has a linear impact on resources. For every extra X %growth you need X % more farmland. In reality people become better at farming, using energy and other resource.

Read The Story of Wheat. That represents my view of things.

How can you say the global economy is a Ponzi scheme? That's what the Soviets used to say! <grin>

The finite world/infinite growth paradox was the thesis of Ehrlich's "Population Bomb", The Club of Rome's "Limits to Growth" and even Malthus "Essay on Population". They were all wrong, because they assumed growth has a linear impact on resources.

As my agronomist dad likes to say, Malthus was wrong only in his timing.  

The story of wheat is the story of the Green Revolution.  The oil-fueled Green Revolution.

Read Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies.  That represents my view of things.  

Humans can "innovate" their way out of long as they have the energy to do so.  To get around peak oil, we will have to find an energy source that is better than oil.  One that is not as good will not work.  

How can you say the global economy is a Ponzi scheme? That's what the Soviets used to say!

Where's Dave?  He has posted here several times that he thinks Marx was right about capitalism being a Ponzi scheme.  

Frankly, I think he may be right.  The best system for exploiting abundant resources will not be the best system for dealing with a resource-constrained world.

BTW, Simmons points out that the reason the Club of Rome's prediction has not yet come to pass is that they made a flawed assumption: that the rest of the world would start to catch up to the U.S.  That did not happen.  Instead, the gap between the haves and have-nots widened into a chasm.  Instead of a car in every garage, Africans are still lucky to have a bike, while Americans have a car, an SUV, a riding mower, and boat in their garages.

And that, I think, is the most likely result of peak oil.  I'm not ruling out the more catastrophic outcomes: nuclear war, a fast, Mad Max crash.  But I think most likely, inertia will carry us for decades, maybe even centuries.  The gap between the haves and have-nots will become ever wider as more and more people fall out of the middle class, and it becomes next to impossible to "rise above your station."

Did it ever occur to you that following people like Marx and Malthus is a sure fire way to be wrong all the time? We are waiting 300 years for Malthus to be right and it is not looking good. I would say his time is up. As for Marx, I think  that experiment was done over and over, and failed every time.
You're forgetting population growth.  No matter how much recycling we do, there are finite supplies of metals, fossil fuel energy, agricultural land, etc.  Either we have to stop population growth (if we don't, Mom Nature will) or everybody progressively and infinitely scales down their share of resources (obviously impossible).  Either scenario implies serious social disruption with great potential for catastrophe.  Bottom line is: the only input of energy to the planet comes from the sun, that energy can only support a finite quantity of living things at a certain level of comfort, and we have to learn how to live within our income.
And if we do stop population will the economy grow?  The current system is based on more consumers buying more stuff, year after year after year.

We could grow the economy without growing the population if we keep raising our standard of living, forever and ever and ever...but that's not going to be possible with limited resources.  There's only so much you can do with recycling/efficiency improvements.  

Congratulations! You have figured out the whole point of the "technocracy" thingy. Since we live on a finite planet, we must sooner or later have to accept a steady-state population and steady-state GDP. Of course, debate as to when we must accept this can rage on infinitely but we can't harness debate  as a source of energy. If we could, Congress could power America several hundred times over just by the hot air in both houses! Just the immigration debate could overload the grid if we could use it as energy.
My position regarding population growth is that not the catastrophe it is made out to be. Population growth is slowing and will top out at 10 billion and I think the world can handle it. Essentially my argument is the same as I posted above regarding Ehrlich's "Population Bomb" and the Story of Wheat.
As I said, population will top out eventually due to natural limiting factors (I don't think the leveling out of population is/will be due to voluntary, conscious reductions).  My position is that our current population is a result of intensive inputs of fossil fuel energy* and that once those stop (whenever that happens), population will crash causing massive social disruptions.  We may come up with some technological fix to continue to support our population but I don't think so.  Sun energy=food; we can only improve the efficiency up to a point.

*See Hartmann's <U>The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight</U>

Sorry, didn't read the whole thread--Leanan already made my point.  Thanks :)

BTW why didn't the HTML underline tag work?

I don't think there are underline tags

Use begin-anchor and end-anchor without an href=

there are demographic indicators that the population growth is already slowing down. as you know the population of all developed countries is already plateauing if not slightly decreasing( if one removes the immigration from developing countries).

some people predict that peak population will be around 2050-2060 at around 10-11 billion. China will stop growing in the next decade at around 1.5 bil, India past 2030 with 1-200mil more people. USA will peak around 400-450mil and close to 50% will be then Spanish speaking... The countries of current EU, including the new members in the club, will remain around 400-450mil ( not much different from today's numbers and also Russia seems will stay around 150mil).

A recession is a certainty. There are a few questions, however:
  1. When will it start?
  2. How long will it last?
  3. How severe will it be?

After consulting the stars, livers of sacrificed animals, chicken entrails and tea leaves, here are my tentative answers:
  1. Soon. Probably in 2006.
  2. About eighteen months, depending on way too many variables to have any confidence at all in a time estimate of duration.
  3. Severity of recession could be anything from mildness of recent (e.g. 1990-91,) downturns to severity of early eighties to . . . if monetary policies are horribly stupid or if some stupendous bad luck comes down the pipe . . .  downward spiral into global trade wars and another Great Depression.

In my opinion, a rather long and severe recession would be the best possible economic scenario for giving us much-needed time to adjust to peak oil.

One of the straws in the wind I am looking at is the bottleneck caused by the shortage of huge tires for trucks in the mining industry. Such bottlenecks are typical of an economy at or about to reach full production capacity.

Remember, however, that God created economic forecasters to make weather forecasters look good by comparison;-)

Anything can happen.  It's all crowd behavior and a consensual reality.  If the financial industry and stock market investers (together forming a value network) were doomers, we'd already be at a long-term low.

That said, what I told myself in the shower this morning was "it'll be a 10 year bear market."

I have no idea if the voice I heard in the shower will prove correct.

...and then he created the AI/futurists to give the economists a break.

I had the opportunity to learn a little bit about reading chicken entrails, hanging out on Indonesian outer islands, while in search of waves.  The chief would summon-up a chicken at the time of a pending decision, and I think it was the shape of the liver, or maybe the liver-kidney combo, that would aid in the decision to be made.  This was in the late 1990's.  

I've been thinking about PO and island living.  I'm about to go off to a little South Pacific spot for some surf, and I'm pondering the future for these out-of-the-way places.  Less planes, fewer ships, less plastic crap aboard the ships, but simple sustainable living a possibility.  There's a size at which I think an island is too big/too developed. (Maui - though I've never been there.  They have a Costco.  Most of the Hawaiin chain)

I think these little, nearly stone-age villages (really!) in Indonesia will have the last laugh.  Water Buffalo, rice and papayas, chickens, fish and a pig now and then.

I'd rather be there than here with 400,000 Portlander's when TSHTF.

Just keep in mind how much littler those little islands will be if sea level rises 20-80 feet.  
Good point Leanan.  What do you, sit and THINK all day long or something?

On the island issue, I do believe that climate change will have more effect than PO in some cases.  A lot of non-Westernized poor folks just aren't that involved in the oil economy.  But they ARE involved in the natural world: seasons, rainfall, heat, drought, catastrophic storms (though relatively infrequent, these suckers REALLY screw things up for many folks, for a long time)etc.

"with continuing improvement in recycling-----". Whoa!  Gotta put in the old thermo prof remark here.  Ever hear of the second law of thermodynamics?  Things ALWAYS get more and more messed up and spread around, and more and more energy is required from outside to unmess them.  There is a finite limit to the energy from outside we have to pay with.  Old buddy Albert Einstein sayd " The second law is the one theory that in my opinion will never be overthrown".  Simple example- take a lump of coal and burn it.  get some energy and some carbon dioxide.  Now try to get the carbon dioxide back into a lump of coal and some  oxygen, and count the energy you need to make this happen.  Way, way behind in the transaction.  Better leave the coal in the ground, and take that solar energy you tried to transmogrify the carbon dioxide with and use it for whatever you burnt the coal for.
Yes actually I studied thermodynamics while studying for a degree in Engineering. I seem to remember that the Second Law only applies to CLOSED SYSTEMS. So if the point you are making applies to the entire universe then yes you are right, eventually we will run out of energy and everything will get messed up - in a few trillion years maybe.
Good luck to the capitalists getting out of their "recession" when energy available to the "economy" is getting scarcer and more expensive with every passing month, never again to be plentiful in the way that made their pyramid scheme appear to work for a few decades.

I'm all for alternate fuels. The campfire will keep us warm and our legs will take us where we need to go.

You are right, capitalism is dead. Now give all of the useless physical resources to me. :-)

The "economy" part with esoteric derivatives, intellectual properties and symbolic resources and unenforcable long term business deals will be in world of hurt in depressing peak oil scenarios.

I have followed the oil/gas issue since 2000. I have read mahy points of view and preditions. Yergin has been wrong, very wrong with every prediction he has made this decade. That is a fact. I would have to go back through a lot of materials that I haven't saved and are no longer on CERA's website. However, to start with, in Feb 2004 he predicted oil to be $28, supplies to be increasing, and prices to remain in that range. I noticed in the Feb 2005 report, he avoided naming a price, but still expects it to go down and supplies to rise. In 2001 he also expected US Natl gas production to increase through most of this decade, and prices to stay below  $3-4 as I recall. Instead it was already in terminal decline. He has been about %100 off with all predictions so far this decade, lets see how he does going forward.
To clarify:
The Economist article summarised above does not represent my opinion. I wanted TOD to debate this article because I think it is an important one. It is the first item in the mainstream media that I have read or seen that actually refers to "Peak Oil" and attempts to tackle the debate head on. One person picked up the article but didn't address its substance. I couldn't post a link to the article because it is subscription only. I can't post the article itself because that would be breach of copyright. So I summarised it.

It think it is a good summary position of "the case for the opposition".

Without more detail, it's hard to discuss.  Not least because those ideas have been addressed here over and over again. Maybe The Economist has a new spin on them that's worth discussing, but you can't tell from such a brief synopsis.

Besides, I remember that March 1999 "Drowning in Oil" cover.  Where's my $5 oil?  ;-)

I do remember that "Drowning..."article. I wish I kept the issue as a collector's item. It is still online somewhere.

You can bet that the Economist thought long and hard about that mistake before publishing the "Steady as she goes" article. They have a new editor. They know this is a risk. But I like that they write these articles. It is so much easier to be CNN and put together a doom laden collage and call it "We were warned".

They don't publish footnotes, it is an opinion magazine. However there are a couple of nuggets that are worth discussing. Firstly they address the reserves issue for the first time. The dodgy Kuwait figures are acknowledged but do not extrapolate to Saudi, according to "more independent contractors and oil majors with first hand knowledge of the fields". It would be nice to have a detailed breakdown of who said that.

Above all the Economist believes in the power of the market to deal with situations where nobody has the complete picture. They don't discount the notion of a peak but they also argue against a sudden collapse in production and from that they argue that a global peak need not cause a big global recession.

Those who argue that Peak Oil is imminent must also argue that the market is not working as it should.

Those who argue that Peak Oil is imminent must also argue that the market is not working as it should.

I would say the market can't work as it "should."  The whole idea of free market capitalism and its attendant constant growth is a product of fossil fuels.  

If, say, the Easter Islanders had free markets, would they have been able to save themselves from collapse?  I doubt it.  In the end, it comes down to natural resources.  We have hidden that from ourselves, but it will become painfully obvious when the cheap oil is gone.

I beleive when Easter Island was discovered by Europeans it was populated by peaceful people farming breadfruit and yams. Of course they had no more trees but they were not warring or starving. I think the planet will see a similar process. We will end up in a sustainable and prosperous future, though we will lose some of the environment on the way. How much we lose and how prosperous we end up is all to play for.
Of course they had no more trees but they were not warring or starving.

They also had a population that was perhaps 10% the size of their previous population, and got that way through warfare, starvation, disease, and cannibalism.  

That is something that Tainter found in his research.  Societal collapse results in a 90% drop in population.  Our tendency to overshoot at work, I guess.

You might find it worthwhile to read Jared Diamond's article (originally published in 'Discovery' Magazine) regarding Easter Island:

I have read Collapse. It's a diatribe against mankind. Apparently we're all going to hell because of globalisation. His last book tried to prove that history is nothing but geography. He writes well but he is utterly anal about trying to prove that culture is has nothing to do with economic progress. I like his books, they are entertaining and informative but they are hugely biased.

He lets his agenda slip here and there. Here for instance.
Also if you have Collapse to hand look at the figure facing page 497. (Political Troublespots vs Environmental Troublespots) Apparently the wars in the planet is cause by environmental damage. It is an utterly ludicrous theory, which he attempts to prove with a nonsense picture. It is a technique called counting the hits and ignoring the misses. That is why I cannot take Jared Diamond seriously.

I think you will find that they were at the tail end of a long period of warfare and cannibalism. They were described as the most wretched islanders discovered in the Pacific.

I dont think we will make it to 10 billion people.

China is already importing Wheat and set to try and import more.

Coming soon: Oil wars, water wars and food wars, if not already here in some degree or other.

I thought the cheap oil is gone. (but we havn't seen ANYTHING yet!) The crude prices climbing like a Lear Jet on steroids, and gas prices climbing like a dime a day, it sure sounds like the cheap oil part ended just weeks ago. And it's looking like the price climb rate is itself climbing, making it look like exponential price climb. (i.e. the proverbial Lear Jet is getting increasingly juiced as it climbs!)
I found a way to read the article for free.  Torward the lower right hand corner of the home page, there is a section called "Articles by Subject."  "Oil" is one of the subjects you can select.  When you get to that page there are several articles that are free because they are in a sponsored part of the site.  I tried pasting the links in this post but they don't work; you must navigate your way in from the home page.

After reading the articles, I believe they accurately reflect the long-held views of the Economist and its energy corresponent Vijay Vaitheeswaran.  Their main thesis seems to be "there is no shortage of oil reserves, but they are increasingly concentrated in the OPEC countries of the Middle East."  Last year the Economist published a similar special issue on oil with the same thesis.  I also heard Vijay Vaitheeswaran, along with Chris Skrebowski of Petroleum Review, on the now-defunct NPR radio program The Connection, in which he reiterated these views.

Jim Puplava also interviewed Vijay on his Saturday broadcast.

Your little summary mentioned that more and more future liquid fuels will not be products of petroleum. Why? Because petroleum extraction will never exceed 90 MMbbl/day. It gives break even prices for the alternatives which will draw capital investment in larger and larger amounts. Steam EOR may be new to Saudi but it is old hat in Texas. Extraction peaked in Texas in 1973 despite all the tricks in the books being used. Bitumen, coal, and biomass is the future for liquid fuels because petroleum production has or is close to peaking.
They mentioned a system which is beyond ordinary steam assisted EOR which sounded interesting.
They said that each engineer looks after 1000 automated and small wells and said is has transformed the process from "flying blind" to one where the wells monitor themselves. They provide no links or references. The field was the Kern River Field in California.
IMO, the most powerful tool we have is the Hubbert Linearization (HL) method.  Texas, the Lower 48, Total US, Russia and the North Sea never exceeded the peak production they had in the vicinity of 50% of Qt.  

Deffeyes put the world 50% of Qt (crude + condensate) mark in December, 2005.  The most recent EIA data, for January, show production falling by about 500,000 bpd.  It takes a couple of months for declining exports to work their way through the system.

When did US net petroluem imports start falling?  February.

When did the recent runup in oil prices start? February.

Khebab and I used only production data through 1970 to predict post-1970 cumulative Lower 48 production.  Actual cumulative post-1970  Lower 48 production was 99% of what the HL method predicted.  The world is now where the Lower 48 was at in 1970.  

In contrast to this proven method we have a collection of "experts" that have a common characteristic of being consistently and flagrantly wrong regarding oil production, reserves and prices--USGS; Yergin and the Economist "$5 Oil" Magazine.

Spot gas shortages reported

Several local gas stations ran out of fuel on Thursday as gas prices also soared in the Delaware Valley.

Shortages were reported in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon.

An NBC 10 news team was at a Wilmington, Del., gas station on Thursday afternoon, where reporter Bill Baldini informed drivers pulling up to the pumps that the station was on empty.

Stations on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard in New Jersey and in several Pennsylvania areas are also out of fuel, or only selling premium fuel, AAA told NBC 10.

They say this could last 30-60 days.

CNN has the story too

The shortages are not because refiners are not making enough gasoline, or because of a recent rupture on the key Plantation Pipeline that carries supplies from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, industry officials said.

Rather, the oil industry is rapidly eliminating a gasoline additive called MTBE, banned in several states for polluting ground water, and replacing it with ethanol, a renewable fuel that can't be shipped by pipeline because it absorbs water.

"There's not a shortage of supply," said John Eichberger, a spokesman for the group. "It's a transitional issue."

Because ethanol is a solvent, it will strip corrosion and impurities that build up inside gasoline storage tanks, allowing them to mingle with gasoline supplies.

That means terminal operators must drain giant tanks that hold gasoline stocks and scrub out the impurities before they can be refilled with ethanol-enriched gasoline, he said.

"That's going to compromise supplies for awhile," he sai

Thanks for the link! I found this bit interesting:
The shortages are not because refiners are not making enough gasoline, or because of a recent rupture on the key Plantation Pipeline that carries supplies from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, industry officials said.
There was a pipeline rupture?
I have been talking to new friends about the Recession, or up coming Depression and not one of them seems to blink an eye at the thought of a depression soon.  Most have noticed that the gas prices are in the area of, "Gee guess we can't go out this weekend".  Few of them blaim the high prices on the Oil companies, Those that do, get a quick study on depletion.  

So when is the Depression headed our way?

Won't that be good for us in a short run?

How long will this one last?

How many food kitchens in the suburbs will there be?

Will Las Vegas go under, or will it do a booming business?

I am sure you have your own ideas, mine are still out for the day, I have kidney stones again, and just want to bang my head on a wall, it'll help the pain in my side a lot.

Lots of energy stories in the news these days. Many of them have a similar theme: demand destruction.

In the Philippines, Malacañang Palace is calling on people to conserve.  Fuel prices are subsidized there, and prices have been held down, but at the cost of other government spending.  They are hoping coco-diesel and ethanol will help.

In Australia, a new study has found many truck drivers are living below the poverty line, due in part to high fuel prices.

In Uganda, the energy crisis is being blamed for slowing economic growth.  

Even the United States, where conservation is for wimps, energy prices are starting to curb consumption.  Americans are driving less:

Americans have cut back gasoline use in apparent response to increasing prices, separate surveys by the government and a petroleum trade organization showed Wednesday.

Gas use last month was 0.6% less than a year ago, the American Petroleum Institute reported, because "high fuel prices have led to decreased demand for gasoline and other refined oil products."

CNN asked readers how they are dealing with higher gas prices.  Read a sampling of the responses here.

The Dayton Daily News (free registration required) reports that Higher energy prices may stunt corn crop.  

And on the production side...  

Plenty of repairs still to go in the Gulf of Mexico:

About 22 percent of Gulf oil production and 13 percent of gas production is still out of service, according to a government report Wednesday. Concern that the storm season, running from June to November, may bring further disruption helped push oil prices to records this week.

"We just have to basically hope that we don't have a hurricane come back into the Gulf of Mexico this summer," said Matt Simmons, founder of Simmons & Co. in Houston, an oil and gas industry investment bank. "We haven't fixed yet, by any stretch of the imagination, everything that got broken."

And Texans are warned to expect more blackouts like Monday's unless more power plants are built.

Demand destruction just doesn't seem to be happening here in my office.  I've spoken to each of my coworkers, trying to find out how much they are thinking about the gas.

Most of them just shrug and accept it.  All of them have a Reason that they need to drive their one person car or truck into the centre of Ann Arbor.  One has to pick up children then speed home to telework for another couple of hours (OK, that's a fairly good reason).  Another absolutely must get to the gym at 4:30.  Others live over an hour away @ 70mph and have no other way of getting into work.

All of them think they are just screwed and yet do nothing about it.

What about me?  Well.  I keep meaning to stop my car at the park and ride and take the bus the remaining 4 miles into work.  Problem is, the bus doesn't run after 6.  I guess I need to change my hours to finish at 5 instead.

In the meantime I'll just shrug and accept it...

On a completely different subject:

Shouldn't stocks that depend on frivilous spending be tanking right now?  Whenever I look at the news, all the fancy furniture, food and other businesses still seem to be doing really well.

What on earth are people cutting back on to pay for gas?

I have witnessed some demand destruction in my office, though it was more due to the Katrina spike than the current one. One guy switched to a different department - to a position that comes with a company car. He's still driving just as much, but he's not paying for it any more. The other switched to another branch, which is closer to where he lives. Both of these guys lived 60 miles away, so gas was a big chunk out of their budgets. They were paying hundreds of dollars a month in gas.
My brother-in-law has it made.  The gov't pays him to take a bus that runs from a mile away from the house to his office in Bethesda, about 35 slow miles on traffic-clogged I-270.  He had been sleeping too late to catch the last bus, but has found renewed motivation with this latest spate of pump increases.
Don't forget the total cost of driving. 60 miles x 2 x $0.40/mile = $48/day or $960/month. How long before people making $40k per year will not be able to afford solo commutes?

If my net is $2200 per month, do I really want to spend $960 on commuting?

I've seen no DD in my office.  In fact, my boss is flying some of us to his HQ in Phoenix for a discretionary "meeting" (to include golf & other luxury perks), which I will find depressing, being no fan of Phoenix (or golf).  As far as I can tell he's sitting at peak oil "ground zero" (for lack of a better phrase); he frequently calls from the cell phone in his SUV as he sits in morning traffic on his hour commute.

When I try to talk about peak oil & its implications to my associates at the office, I see their eyes glaze over as their thoughts drift to the yummy Arby's "meat" sandwich they had for lunch, or to the alcoholic beverage they will consume when they get home.  Engaging these people in this kind of conversation is fruitless.  Too bad for them when TSHTF.

People are still mowing their lawns every week in my demand destruction there.  And my 30 mile daily commute has as much traffic as it ever did.  I still see the same amount of cars at my grocery store on the weekend.  I have seen more beggars out looking for $$ the closer I get to downtown.  I wonder what that indicates?

By the way...I keep bringing up lawn mowing because I've never seen anyone analysis this add gasoline supply impact in the Spring and Summer and I believe it must have some impact.  How many lawn mowers are operating in the US?  How much gasoline do we go through to mow lawns over typical weekends?

Good point on lawnmowers.  They spew pollutants as well.  I've been chipping away at my own lawn by adding vege, herb, and flower beds.  My goal is to reduce the grass space on my 1/3 acre to where it's manageable with an electric mower.  Ideally I'd get a couple of goats, but I don't think the neighbors would be amused.
Here's a stab at some statistics.

U.S. Census Bureau:

Housing units, 2002 = 119,302,132

I will estimate conservatively and say 50% have lawns =
59,651,066 lawns mowed every week

Estimated suburban lawn mower tank size = 1/2 gallon

Each household uses 1/2 gallon of gas each week = 29,825,533 gallons of gas used.

Toyota Camry tank capacity = 18.5 gals

The equivalent number of extra Toyota Camrys burning gas each week = 1,612,191

Lawn mowing season = April, May, June, July (tappers off in Aug/Sept, but I have mowed in October before).

Gallons of gas expended on mowing lawns during the mowing season (April - July) = 17 weeks x 29,825,533 = 507,034,061 gallons or 27,407,246 extra Toyota Camrys on the road.

And that's probably very conservative.  Does this seem significant to anybody, but me?

Actually, given that daily gasoline usage (USA) is around 350M gal, it is only about 1 1/2 days worth. Not hugely significant.
How bout doing the math on golf course lawn mowers?
I took on the mower challenge when we first moved out here in 1960.  I first tried to sell my wife on the idea of a grass- burning mower, but she didn't like the half hour startup time and the smoke.   So we tried goats, but goats like bushes much better than grass, and ate all our flowers, too.  We ate the goats and went for an electric mower.  We mowed over the cord too many times and my wife didn't like my big swiveling cord swinger getting in the way of the clothesline.  So now we have patches of nice little plants and pools full of frogs all over the place and just a little grass that we keep down by walking on. That works -and I like the frog noises.
I am opposed to all lawn mowing on an environmental/moral basis.

Let your grass grow.

Let wildlife flourish.

Fortunately, I live in a community that contains many and eccentric folk and generally tolerates them well. After one neighbor (a newcomer) complained, I explained my position to some officials at City Hall, facetiously claimed to be a farmer (and my property is zoned commercial; I can legally do most things on it) in the business of raising whatever I felt like growing--including dandelions and tall grass.

I host numbers of prarie dogs, birds of some dozens of species, and critturs of all sizes up to and including the occasional wandering wolf or black bear.

Lawns are so boring.

My soil is thick and rich from years of unraked maple leaves falling and decaying. Not quite a wilderness, not quite the forest primeval, but IMO lawn care is a variety of mass mental illness induced by some trauma having to do with no longer living in the hunting and gathering societies humans evolved in.

Think about it. Do lawns make any sense at all?

Good point, Don.

It makes absolutely no sense at all.
In the 'old days', you might let your livestock graze on them (sheep or goats out in front of the manner house, how shocking!), but the concept of an eternally green, scalped, and manicured expanse of turf grass is a fairly modern concept, something only possible with the advent of the mower and copious supplies of cheap energy to waste on its useage.

Land was for farming, or left fallow to rest, not to endlessly fertilize, spray with green chemicals (chem-lawn, anyone?), and obsessively buzzcut.


I agree with you 100%, however, my work and family choice landed me in a suburb at this point in my life.  I try to landscape it as much as possible to attract wildlife, but I have to cut the grass still.  It is my predicament and I will have to live with it.  I'm hoping after TSHTF, there will be no social/municipal constraints on suburban lawns and we will be free to grow whatever is needed to survive.

Do you have to live in your predicament?

Do you have to live in a suburb?

Is the conformity and isolation and anonymity of a suburb the only way you and your family can find happiness?

Do you have to work at your current job?

Are there places where you know your neighbors, walk to do most errands, and school teachers are some of the best-paid people in town?

Just a few thoughts from Lake Wobegon, the land that time forgot (where all the women are strong, the men are all good looking, and the children are all above average)

Why must life in a suburb be conform, isolated and anonymous?

I do not get why it must be impossible to talk and cooperate with ones neighbours.

Because you never see them.  You spend so much time driving to and from work you end up spending very little time at home.  There's a reason they call them "bedroom communities."
I know my neighbors and actually get along with many (not all).  We already help each other out quite a bit.  Most weeks, a neighborhood boy mows my lawn and I'm glad to pay him well for it (going to college soon).  He also babysits my kids often.  We exchange items from each other's gardens.  We sit out in the lawns and gab in the summertime.  When there is heavy labor going on at someone's house, neighbors will lend a hand.  Suburbs are not evil places, just at a disadvantage when gas gets expensive.  

And all suburbs are NOT created equal.  Mine is older with woods and streams close by, not the antiseptic type with gates.  My property has several large trees and I plant many wildflowers that seed and grow again the next year.  I can walk or bike to the center of my town, but decided to drive to a larger city for work 7 years ago.

In the current economic climate, I may start looking for work closer to home or move closer to my current place of work.  Problem is my wife is a professor in a town 30 miles in the opposite direction.

Welcome to the modern, nuclear family dilemma.

I also live in a suburb, originally developed for the "undesireables" that should not live in the proper city with decent folk.  Served by the latest, fastest and easiest means of commuting.

Yes, developed in 1834 or so, for "those Americans".  2.5 blocks from the St. Charles Streetcar Line (my section opened in 1834, the rest in 1835) and 1.2 miles (2 km) from the French Quarter and a mile the center of the CBD.

My neighborhood sounds much like yours in Sweden, but with a higher % gay (~1/3), better food and a nearby 12 square block urban park and small lawns/gardens in front of most homes (we are known as the Lower Garden District).

I think that you are overestimating the size of lawns or the lawns/gallon efficiency of mowers.  I use about 2 gallons per year in my mower.
I think that also you represent one extreme of gasoline useage.  I use probably 1/2 gallon each week on my corner lot home.  Also remember that I have probably underestimated the # of households that mow each week and have not included mowing by cities, states, golf courses, schools, government facilities, and any other non-household mowing.

I would expect factoring in those missing pieces would raise that gasoline consumption considerably.

Don't forget the gas for the stupid, stupid leaf blowers.
You must have a big lawn, and/or a desire to keep it cut like a golf green. 1/2 a gallon is what I burn on a commuting mission with a Kia Rio. (17 miles each way) So, despite your copious mowing, my easy commute burns 10 times more per week. So, you inadvertently prove my earlier point that mowing lawns is a small part of fuel use.

To my credit and fuel savings, I always combine errands with my afternoon mission home instead of go home, then drive elsewhere. I've had that habit since 1999 when gas started a slow price climb from 99 9 cents a gallon. BTW, what is up with that lame little 9 anyways? (the 9/10 of a cent that I pronounce with a high pitch faked voice)

I had a boss who used to have me out on weekends mowing the small lawns in front of the workplace, with a push mower. I taught myself to sharpen the thing with a hand file, and keep it lubed, and you know, those things do a dandy job!
Best way ever to get rid of lawn is to do one of several things.  

Raised beds,  Bests ones I have seen used bricks and concrete to build up about 6 inches,  or plain concrete for a foot high bed. Personally I will build highers for sitting and gardening.   Betwen raised beds, don't grow grass,  mulch the ground heavily.  Adds to your graound water and no lawn mowing in between beds needed.

Terrace the whole yard, walls up to 2 feet wide, to walk on and beds 3  to 4 feet wide, no ground not covered.

Plant native plants and do not add water that they don't get from rain fall.  Water your garden with stored rainwater from your roofs collected over the course of the year, even dry areas, should be able to store several 100's if not 1000's of gallons.  Be creative in the storage methods.  Ponds can add water storage and fish and plants for ediable yards.

I mow my lawn only when I have to find my car.  Or the city gets on to me, about 6 to 8 times a year.  Don't know what it will be like when I move.

Dragonfly41 said:
"I have seen more beggars out looking for $$ the closer I get to downtown.  I wonder what that indicates?"

The weaker members of the pack are always the first to fall to predation or other environmental dangers (i.e. "The devil take the hindmost").
We're starting to see this already with the various poorer, 3rd world countries regarding demand destruction, and will also see this here at home.  Those who cannot afford to compete economically for ever more expensive resources are the first to fall out of the running.

I just bought a brand new Craftsman reel-type manual lawn mower this Spring -- about $110.

Here's what I've experienced:  I push it from the garage out to the edge of the lawn (I don't need to mess with finding a gas can, filling it up, or pulling handles to get it started.)  I push it across the grass and it cuts it in about the same amount of time as a regular gas-powered mower and with even a little less pushing resistance because it is much lighter in weight (no engine.)

The only problem is that with a reel-type mower you really have to keep up with regular cutting -- once the grass gets too high it has problems cutting crisply and you may need to go over it a second time in a perpendicular run pattern.

It's really a piece of cake, and the lawn looks good.  I am truly a little aghast at how little difference a power-mower makes, if any.  This one does the trick.  I wonder how much gas I've used over the decades cutting my lawns?

My guess is lawnmowers, despite being notoriously inefficient have little impact. The typical home lawnmower (not lawn tractor) takes only a little gas and a gallon can lasts through several mowing sessions. One commuting mission burns up more gas even with a hybrid than one mowing session. Even a lawn tractor doesn't burn up gas like the car on a drive to work. Also, you make TEN commuting missions per week, 5 each way. To make mowing consume gas like commuting you'd have to have a severe golf green fetish!
My point was not that lawn mowing consumes as much gas as commuting, but that it adds X amount to the gasoline demand during the mowing season.  The increased gasoline demand has notoriously been pinned on people driving more in spring/summer and going on vacations, but lawn maintenance (residential and other) is another factor that consumes even more gas than usual during the colder months (October-March in the Midwest US).

I was just curious to quantify the "mowing" effect on overall gasoline demand and what possible benefit the US could harvest from curtailing a large portion of lawn maintenance if required.

What on earth are people cutting back on to pay for gas?

Paying the minimums on their credit cards?

Well if gas went from 3 to 4% of your income this hardly sounds like a disaster doesn't it? It is the poor folks that get it, but they don't buy a lot of fancy furniture anyway.
And Texans are warned to expect more blackouts like Monday's unless more power plants are built. "

Of course.

A couple years ago, when California was going through all the rolling blackouts, and initially "deregulation" was getting the blame, I distinctly remember them saying it could never happen in Texas due to how well our grid was managed (and isolated from other states), even as we set to embark on deregulation ourselves.

Now we have rolling blackouts (admittedly minor compared to the Cali ones)  And now what are they saying?  "Plants were down for maintenance" "It was hotter than we expected" "freak accident, it won't happen again"  But they are also saying "we need more power plants" which can be read as 'ease up on restrictions, start handing us some tax benefits, etc. or we'll make you suffer through rolling blackouts'

Texas has had TONS of power plants on the drawing board (Matt Simmons used to always make it a point when he talked about the coming natural gas crisis that all the plants on the drawing board were designed to operate on natural gas, since, at the time it was the cheapest thing going.  He predicted that would end soon and we'd have trouble).  This smacks of "natural gas costs so much now that we'll err on the side of not enough generation and just hope it doesn't get hot"

It's also not at all uncommon for us to see this kind of heat, if we set a new High Temperature Record anywhere in the state it is likely one that has been on the books for fifty years.  This isn't global warming, this is Texas in the spring (and summer, and fall).  It's hot.  Should not be a surprise to anyone, least of all the power companies.


...and now their' bringin' in the COAL.

An article in today's Austin American Statesman.

On the heels of a small power crisis that led to rolling blackouts across the state, one of Texas' major power providers on Thursday unveiled a $10 billion plan that would add or expand enough coal plants to power 6.5 million homes.

The announcement by the company, TXU Corp., which provides power to much of Williamson County and parts of Travis County, came on the same day that the City of Austin approved a rail contract to boost the amount of coal at one of its major coal-fired generating plants. The contract was prompted by a stockpile shortfall at the plant.

The coal deal and the TXU plan suggest how much the city, and Texas generally, relies on coal to fire its power plants as the cost of natural gas escalates and power demands grow.

"It's a bright future for the coal industry," Marty Walker, manager of environmental and governmental affairs for the North American Coal Corp., said in an interview from South Texas, where he was scouting out an area for a new coal mine. "Texas is in the catbird seat, and it'll once again prove itself the energy mecca of the United States."

The "city" referenced must be Austin -- it's smack dab in the middle of Travis County, and is known for using more green energy than any other city in the nation.  This is a bit of a surprise.

As has been pointed out before, we humans are just stupid enough to burn up the world in our attempt to keep the lights on endlessly.  We'll gladly destroy the environment if it means not making needed changes.
CNN asked readers how they are dealing with higher gas prices.  Read a sampling of the responses here.

The following comment is hilarious , moreso if the chap who made it wasn't taking the pish.

"I fill my car with 50 dollars worth of gas. I drive to the store to buy a 6 dollar bag of beef jerky. It takes me 3 dollars to go 14 miles to buy the jerky. I eat it all before I get home so I must go back to the store to buy more jerky for 6 dollars. Again it costs me 3 dollars in gas. I finish the jerky just as I arrive at home only to get an upset stomach from 1/2 pound of dried beef swelling in my stomach. I now have to spend another 3 dollars in gas to buy a 7 dollar bottle of Rolaids. This 1 hour of my life cost me 28 dollars. With the price of gas these days I think its time to give up on beef jerky. Another pleasure gone due to gas prices."

Coco-diesel? A while back I asked if palm oil came from date palms or coconut palms. Put the sodium methoxide in the coconut and shake it all up.
I am outraged at the price of gas and energy prices. Meanwhile, CEOs of gas companies get compensated for the high gas prices that we as consumers must pay. I don't buy any of the stories about the Katrina disaster or the threat of Iran or any other cock and bull story. They will say anything to cover up the real story and that is more money for the gas companies and their friends in Washington.

Joan Williams, Charlotte, North Carolina, $2.82/gallon
Regular gas is $2.89 at this second. The gas prices are outrageous and unfair.

Sylvia, Durham, North Carolina, $2.89/gallon
$3.18 for premium gas this morning in Irvine, California. Just wondering what lame excuse the oil companies and our government are thinking up to keep the price rising. Hurricane Katrina still impacting supply? Our government officials and oil barons are lining their pockets because we have failed as a society to curtail our dependency on foreign oil. We only have ourselves to blame.

Dan Nott, Long Beach, California, $3.18/gallon
Wow, so many Americans are in denial. It is a huge, monumental change for us to move away from fossil-fuels - and that's with every American on board. It's damn near impossible when we are in denial. And they all seem to be blaming the oil companies and President Bush. The MSM is doing a good job skirting the Peak Oil issue and turning it into "let's see who we can scapegoat" for these prices.
We will eventually see all the stages of grief exhibited by the populace. Grief is the natural and normal human response to a significant loss.....
Or this from Thursdays Press and Journal.
If it has this effect at £1/ litre then what happens at £2?

More bad news (from the Press and Journal 20/4/06):


09:00 - 20 April 2006

Higher fuel prices in the north will decimate business and force many people to uproot, it was claimed yesterday.

The bleak warning came as fears emerged this week that unleaded petrol at £1 a litre is likely to arrive this summer.

And they increased yesterday as oil prices in the UK hit a new high of more than 73 (nearly £41) a barrel due to fears that Iran's dispute with the west may hit oil supplies.

One leading member of the north business community warned tourism could suffer as a result of the high fuel prices, and local residents may even be forced to leave the region.

Frank Buckley, who lets holiday cottages at Melvaig, near Gairloch, Wester Ross, said: "It's expensive to live in the Highlands as it is. There's a widespread belief in Inverness and around the areas where I travel that fuel prices are going to cause the next Highland Clearances because people are on low incomes

I read a gas prices article in the LA Times (link) this morning.  It had a couple guys who had just bought big SUVs being shocked by gas prices.

What can you say.  On the one hand those guys might not seem that bright, but on the other, the major media and/or the government have not been giving them very straight projections about future gas prices.  They keep quiet, and let SUV pushers talk about when gas prices "will return" to lower levels ... as if there ever was a stable low price ...

Wow, this is the worst I've seen:

Drivers Turn To Pawn Shops For Gas Money

I saw that.  Yikes.

There's a CNN video here:

A talking head on a financial news channel just now said "oil prices are not even close to slowing this economy."

That's a classic analyst's nonsense, but it reinforces this apparent disconnect between impacts at lower and middle income levels, and at the stock market or CEO level.

I found Big Gav's tapeworm economy post pretty interesting.  As I said a while back, I think the process of "fast globalization" is showing some cracks.

Caution: I'm about to sound like Jay Hanson!

After reading the dieoff site (which got me into the oil peak topic) I came to a conclusion like the "tapeworm economy" essay. Big business of all types end up being like an alien protozoan lifeform on paper like a bacterium. But becuse a corporation is only on paper, the "bacterium" can grow like a cancer cell to huge size and a corporation, unlike a bio-bacterium, can "eat" anything and it defacates product and waste products.

Corporations, unless regulated, "eat" workers by working them until their health fails, then disposes them with the same disreguard as a drunk disposes of an empty beer bottle. In a real sense, we created artificial life, not (yet) in the lab, but in the petri dish of financial markets. Like any life form, a corporation privatises anything it needs to exist but tries to socialise all its waste - exactly like yeast in a jug of grape juice. Each yeast cell eats the sugar then defacates alcohol, until they poison each other with the wine they generate.

This inevitable behaviour of corporations is WHY regulations were invented in the first place. We have seen how crazy things get with deregulation. I sure hope it's not too late to re-regulate corporate behaviour. I don't want a Jay Hanson style scenario.

Actually, that analyst might have been on CNN too.  Just goes to show ...
Just saw that CNN video. Trading in a Rolex for a tank o' juice???!!! OUCH! Note that the gas station showing that $3.77 9 a gallon: That's almost exactly a buck a litre!
Springfield Missouri is willing to give you $40 in gas $ if you visit overnight for 2 nights. Tourism is big there.


Is there any wander? This is what propaganda is all for.. it is very unwise for the Western people to imagine all of this manipulations, intimidations etc. are left unnoticed in Iran and the other countries. We are seeding rage... as we've been doing that for decades.

Couple of weeks ago I had the chance to talk with an Iranian woman, visiting US about all of this. My impression is that she was proud and stayed distant (btw all this talk about women discrimination in Iran is a BS)... that's how peaceful people get devided by their governments and become enemies. What a madness...

One of the things I found interesting about this translation issue is that it is not possible for both this article AND the accounts that have shown up in so many meadia sources to be correct.

If this article is wrong, well then it is easy to explain.

But if this article (and translation analysis) is correct, then how does one explain all those other translations?  They are in so many places, from quite a few countries, and they are all so similar.  It would seem to require that they must all stem from some common source, and it would not seem too hard to track it down.  But the implications are disturbing.

Actually I never believed Ahmedjedan (sp?) said this. He is not that stupid - and you have to be much more clever to get to the power wherever you are. And the constant repetition of this "quotation" every now and than convinced me that this is nothing more than propaganda.

There probably are both common source of the statement and common interest not to dig in into the correctness of this source. The message is convenient for everyone and in the interest of everyone to stay this way - after all Iran is classified in the "Axis of evil" for a long time - our media will be the last to confront our government. Who of importance is going to announce the truth? Our allies in the West??

I'm still amazed why you think this is "disturbing". Such propaganda, twisting or decoration of facts etc. are a normal practice in the West and US in particular. Look at what happened before all those dirty wars in Iraq (I), Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq II... We've become experts in double standarts and manipulation and IMO a lot of people seem to accept that as normal already - it is much easier psychologicaly to let yourself believe what you are told than using your own head.

On the bright side it is all coming back to us... oil is $75 this very moment... it won't be long.

I'm well aware of the propaganda aspect of virtually everything published in the US.  I believe none of it on face value.  What disturbs me about this is the coordination of these reports over what seems like such a large number publication from so many countries.  And very little counter information (at least that I've seen). This level of propaganda coordination, combined with the lack of strong opposition from Europe and other allies, makes me more convinced than ever that war with Iran is coming.  Too amny want it.
It is not coordination. Much worse than that.
CNN is promising a story called "Crude Competition," coming up next. About China and the U.S. competing for oil.
Pretty shallow story. They called it a "new Great Game," and said China not only gets oil from our suppliers, but from countries we consider rogue nations. Their worse case scenario was China blocking UN resolutions against Iran.
NBC the same not so subtle blaming of china for it's growth & for cozying up to rogue states like iran. made me think they got their info directly from the white house spinners.
I don't know who owns the asia times, but I've always intersting stuff there


The SCO, an Intergovernmental organization whose working languages are Chinese and Russian, was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The SCO's change of heart appears set to involve the organization in Iran's nuclear battle and other ongoing regional issues with the United States.

Visiting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told Itar-TASS in Moscow that the membership expansion "could make the world more fair". And he spoke of building an Iran-Russia "gas-and-oil arc" by coordinating their activities as energy producing countries. Mohammadi also touched on Iran's intention to raise the issue of his country's nuclear program and its expectations of securing SCO support.

how do I get that into a nice blue box?

the spin doctors are going to be working very hard to make china the next addition to the "axis of evil" here in the next few years. they have to. because by my estimation china has beat us at our own game. how long until the bad guys in movies are godless chinese?
Sorry to bore anyone with this whole Iran issue again, but I think it could be a real watershed in American history, if things go really 'crazy' in the coming months.

Last Tuesday I was reading a piece on the BBC's website, and they reported that a journalist had asked President Bush directly if he had plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons. Instead of using this golden opportunity to finally lay this story to rest, and brush off Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article once and for all, Bush chose to repeat his line that 'All options were still on the table.' He was still looking for a 'diplomatic' solution to the problem. He pointedly refused to deny or rebuff the journalist's agressive question about plans to nuke Iran. I was rather surprised by his answer, and to find something like this on the BBC, which has a tendancy to 'smooth things over' regarding dangerous and controversial statements like this coming out of Washington.

I mean, here we have the most powerful man on earth, the Commander in Chief of the world's greatest military machine, refusing to rule out an American nuclear strike on a country which only has conventional weapons and posses no real threat to the United States, now or in the forseable future. His remarks would appear to casually cast aside about fifty years of American military policy, that is, the United States will not attack non-nuclear nations with nuclear weapons. Is this a new, radically agressive military posture we are seeing unveiled? Is it anything at all? Has Bush gone nuke nuts? Does his attitude even matter? Just because I and the BBC think it's worth mentioning, so what?

Anyway, the next day, yesterday, Wednesday, I went back to the BBC and the article was still there, the same heading and the same photo, but something was missing. All mention of the question about a nuclear attack on Iran had been edited out. I thought this was interesting and odd. Why remove sentence or two, just because they dealt with a nuke attack?

I began to wonder if I'd been dreaming, maybe my brain was going? It felt strange, like something from a movie. I then tried to find out if anyone else had a source for this 'nuclear attack question' and I couldn't find anything. Maybe I wasn't smart enough or thorough enough. Then I went to Reuters, and finally, buried away, I found their version of the story. They seemed to confirm that a journalist had indeed asked a question about attacking Iran. 'President Bush Refuses to entirely rule out nuclear strikes against Iran if diplomacy fails to curb the Islamic Republic's atomic ambitions.' They then went on to quote him as saying 'All options were still on the table.'

So I hadn't been dreaming after all! Still I sort of wish I had been, as, let's face it were dealing with atomic weapons here, once again Bush confirms Hersh's story that, yes, nukes are still on the table, and we may be getting ready to start a nuclear war in the Middle East! Hersh's article is correct, damn it!

I'm still not sure how much significance one should read into Bush's answer to this direct question, but I really wish he'd catagorically dismissed the idea or plan as nonsense, totally nuts, and stated once and for all that the United States would never use nuclear weapons against a country like Iran. I just wonder how long it'll be before we give Iran an ultimatum to abandon its nuclear programme - or else.

Heard Teddy Kennedy on NPR today saying he voted against the Iraq invasion because all the generals were against it. Are we seeing a repeat of that now?
writerman -

Well, this TODer is not bored of the Iran issue; in fact he's quite worried over it.

The pessimistic case is that Bush is already planning to attack Iran, and the ultra-pessimistic case is that he's planning to do it with nukes.

Those more optimistically inclined view this as an elaborate game of chicken that will eventually be resolved by some sort of diplomatic breakthrough. Perhaps this will be Bush's November surprise: a last minute pull-back from the brink that will have everyone breathing a sigh of relief and grateful for Bush's restraint and diplomatic skill. However, the trouble with playing chicken is that sometimes one of the parties doesn't blink. And then there is always the possibility of something going wrong - some unexpected screw-up or unplanned event that unintentionally puts the match to the fuse.

One troubling factor is this whole equation is Israel.  What if they decide to free-lance an attack on Iran? Or what if they threaten to free-lance an attack so as to pressure the US to take the initiative?  The more conspiratorial among us have no trouble envisioning some sort of bogus Gulf of Tonkin type episode to provide justification for such an attack.

Taking that to the next level, the only way that the Bush regime could rally the US public for a nuclear attack on Iran is for there to be another domestic terrorist attack on the scale of 9-11. Were that to happen, many people in the US would be demanding that we nuke Iran. Some believe that such an attack could be arranged.  

There are so many combinations and permutations as to what might unfold that I can safely say I haven't a clue as to what will happen.

Significant opportunities in the past for diplomatic steps w/ Iran...

Here's a post from Kevin Drum, which discusses that:


"...that I can safely say I haven't a clue as to what will happen."

Yes, but implicit in what you say is that SOMETHING will happen between now and November. And I agree.

China sunk $100 billion into Yardavan.  There's NO WAY they will walk away from it...
Meanwhile, Hu has lost SO MUCH FACE TODAY that he's going to go home and pull the rug out from underneath the US economy.
Yesterday's meeting between Hu and Bush was, without a doubt, an unmitigated disaster. Wolf Blitzer (CNN) reported that Bush had to actually physically restrain Hu from walking out after the Chinese national anthem was introduced as that of the "Republic of China" (aka Taiwan!).
I didn't hear about that one!  What a bunch of oafs.
This sort of thing (editing out controversial news from the news feeds) happens all the time.

I like Orwell's phrase for it - information is "stuffed down the memory hole".

If you have too much free time it can be mildly entertaining to watch the "breaking news" section of your favourite newspaper online (or go to Yahoo or wherever to read the AAP and reuters feeds) and then watch what happens to the more interesting articles over a period of time...

Some political quotes from Canada yesterday:

Peter MacKay (Foreign Affairs Minister), answering a question:

There's very little the federal government can do outside of the issue of taxation on gasoline and home heating oil.

Stephen Harper (Prime Minister) also answering a reporter's question:

Worldwide, long run, the demand for energy products is outstripping the supply and I think we're going to see sustained upward pressure on prices for some time to come. This is something we're all going to have to adapt to. And it's one of the reasons why, when we deal with climate change and other issues, we're going to want to encourage the development of alternative energy sources.
I should have mentioned that gasoline in some parts of Canada is over US$4.00 a gallon.  
I assume you are not doing an MTBE / ethanol switch right now?
No, but Canada is on the same timetable for low-sulphur fuels as the US.
Sometimes I wonder, whatever happened to the truckers?

funny I've been thinking the same thing for awhile. I mean trucking is the us economy. right?
In 2000 they were listening to Rush Limbaugh because he blamed everything on Clinton. His GOP script writers will blame fuel costs high costs on anybody but Bush. Without right wing radio telling them to protest then they won't.
that is a great take on it
does anyone know who rush is blaming high fuel prices on?
I'm curious does anyone here listen
The truckers, like everyone else, absorb the extra costs and then charge more for their services when they can't absorb any more. The laws of supply and demand and physics are behind peak oil, not a political party.
Problems with reserve figures- latest exploration on billion barrel Australian oil/gas field proves a dud.,20867,18866297-643,00.html
"THE search for oil in the biggest untested structure in the Carnarvon Basin off the West Australian coast has produced a "duster" in the Jacala-1 wildcat exploration well. BHP Billiton Petroleum and its farm-in partners, Tap Oil and Roc Oil, have found no evidence of hydrocarbons at the site after one of the most expensive wells sunk in Australia in recent years.

Jacala, deep in the Indian Ocean about 200km west of Barrow Island, is a huge structure which some analysts suggested could contain up to 1 billion barrels of oil. Drilling began last month, well behind the original schedule which had the well beginning in the fourth quarter of 2005.The deep-water, semi-submersible drilling rig, Atwood Eagle, had to suspend operations twice because of cyclone activity."

I got a newsbrief from OPIS today that said oil had just started flowing through an ExxonMobil pipeline that will take it from Canada's heavy fields all the way to the Gulf Coast. They said this was the first time for that, and Canada had committed to 50,000 bbls a day on this line for 5 years (I believe). I haven't yet seen this in the MSM.

OPIS also has a (free) story on the front page (probably won't be there long) that says ethanol is expected to be short until mid-2007:


Found a link:

ExxonMobil Pipeline Starts Delivering Canadian Oil To U.S.


ExxonMobil Corp.'s (XOM) Mobil Pipe Line Co. started delivering Canadian crudeoil to the U.S. Gulf Coast through an 858-mile pipeline after the completion of a 20-inch pipeline reversal project.

ExxonMobil said the project gives shippers of western Canadian crude oildirect pipeline access to the Gulf Coast refining markets.

The company said Canadian shippers have committed an average volume of 50,000 barrels per day for the next five years, with ExxonMobil expecting the pipe to operate near its estimated capacity of 66,000 barrels per day.


Interesting.  Looks like the pipe acutally originates in Patoka, Ill., which is near St. Louis.

So I wonder if this is new supply from Canada, or if it's just a different means of transport from the Patoka hub?

No, the new supply is from Canada. There was just not a connection to get it all the way from Canada to the gulf. This new section allows it to be piped all the way down. Currently, Canadian crude serves some Midwest refineries. But the pipelines connecting the gulf to the Midwest were all flowing north. This one has been reversed to let the Canadian crude get to the gulf.


Totally off topic:

Is it just me, or are the left and right columns of this page off by about 3 inches?  It may be just me, as the PC I'm on right now is likely a virus-laden, spyware-pwned, hacked up piece of pooge.

It's not just you. It's screwed up for me, too. It wasn't initially messed up, because the first couple of times I opened the thread it was fine.


Me too.

Actually it's just the left column that's off

I'm using IE 6.0

Maybe --the very generous with his time & skills-- Super G can address this

I see wide margins on both sides, this is common with printings of fine literature in historical times, wide margins to write your own notes (use china marker or dry-erase pen on your monitor, it should wipe off later. Should.)
I made a few minor changes at around 5p EDT, but nothing this evening. I have just reverted the CSS back to the way it's been for the past few weeks. Is the weird behavior is still there? Could someone post a screenshot?
It's OK for me now. Using IE 6.0.


I take that back. The left margin is OK. I can only see a fraction of the right margin, and I can't scroll over because there isn't a scroll bar.


The left column of ads is now gone for me (in the last couple of minutes) and the right is barely visible off the edge of the screen.  I cant post a screenshot from where I'm at-- sorry.  Earlier (1/2 hour ago) it was as if both the left and right columns had been shifted about 2.5 inches to the right, so the ads near the top of the thread were superimposed over the message text.
Blog ads are covering up a lot the early posts, plus the thread head. Is this just me? Is there a work around?


Holy crap. I just checked, and it looks horrible in IE. Looks great in Firefox, though. BTW, they're airing "We Were Warned" on CNN again right now.
Fine in Safari also
Screwed up in my IE also.
Is it OK now? If not, could you please post or email me a screenshot? Thanks.
I've e-mailed you a screenshot from earlier and also one from now.  Browser is IE 6.
By the way, it looks like other threads are fine.
The problem is still there, and I know what's causing it.

Occasionally, someone will post a comment with a long URL in it. In order to handle the case where the center column is too narrow to fit the URL, I've set the "overflow" property of the comment boxes to "hidden". The should cause the URL to get truncated at the comment box boundary.

It seems that IE is ignoring this CSS property. My question is this: Has this always been the case? Or has the situation not arisen since the CSS was re-done in March?

The offending comment is this one (It's not the commenter's fault. It's IE's fault!

I should add that the comments appear inside a DL (definition list) tag. IE has been known to have issues with CSS and lists, so this is likely a bug in the interaction between the DL tag and the overflow:hidden property.
Way to go.  Looks perfect now.
Problem solved. Assigned the overflow:hidden property to the parent element. Solution inspired by this.
I use Safari, which, people, is not a kids' browser. Sheesh. I tell people I use Safari and they say, "Isn't that a browser for kids?" Well, it's not, I think they get it mixed up with Where In The World Is Carmen SanDiego.
Sorry about that, Super G - we never know all consequences our action might have, do we? ;-).

Thanks so much for figuring that out and what to do w/it.

Looks fine in IE now. Well, sort of. The sidebars are gone. No ads, not nothing. Not that that's a bad thing...
Yep, IE ok, thanks.
PEAK TIRES. There was a fascinating article in today's (Thursday) NYT on the shortage of huge tires for earth moving equipment. Because of the commodities boom, metals, etc. there has been a huge runup in demand. The military uses these suckers too, making bases and stuff I guess.

I know nothing about rubber. Any TODder know anything about this issue?

I was recently flabbergasted (I guess I flabbergast easily) to find that military tires and high-quality tires in general use lots of natural rubber, in the case of military ones, 100% or near it.

The greatest military in the world yadda yadda dependent on 3rd worlders tapping their rubber trees......

If no-one else does, I will next week.


Anybody work for Goodyear? Sailorman is pursuing this question  somewhere else. Everybody's looking for answers on this one. I'm going to blame NASCAR.
"November 07, Associated Press -- Tire shortage causes problems for coal mines. Coal mining companies in the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming are maneuvering to get
around a worldwide shortage of tires for heavy equipment. The shortage is widely attributed to increasing demand from U.S. and international mining operations for tires, industry officials said. Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have added to the strain on the tire market, said Jim Davis, a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. spokesperson. Drivers and mechanics at Wyoming mines are getting instructions intended to extend the life of off−the−road tires used on the giant dump trucks used to haul overburden and coal. Companies are also scrambling to make up the shortage through deals with suppliers, which are so tightly strapped that at least
one mine has had to idle some of its trucks in recent weeks. To meet the demand, manufacturers like Goodyear and Bridgestone Corp. are looking at expanding the capacity of their big tire plants. Davis said the heavy−equipment tire shortage could continue through 2007. inc

Who wants to talk about my new car?  I totaled the old one in an accident last week.  I am okay, thank you, at least for now.  I have a court date in two weeks.  Insurance covered everything and more, so hopefully they won't sue me for something like back pain.

I bought a 2002 Toyota Echo. I wanted a VW New Beetle TDI, but it wasn't in my price range. Aside from A/C and AM/FM radio, the car has pretty much no amenities.  It doesn't have a cassete player, power windows or even a built-in clock.  Yet, everyone at work is jealous of me.  The car supposedly gets 32 mpg city/39 mpg highway, but I heard those figures are often overstated.  Anybody know if this is true in the Echo's case?

It doesn't have a cassette player...

That sucks. How are you going to listen to all those shitty Jethro Tull and Yes tapes you have?

I'm just kidding. Relax. Toyota is a good name. Totally reliable. VW's and Audi's are just expensive. There is no tangible benefit you would derive from a VW. The only thing VW has are the best ads. They have led in this respect for a while.

Japanese have chosen the correct path for quite some time now.

Anything over 30, you are doing the right thing.

Measure your gas mileage yourself. Be very accurate. Report back. You are the best judge as to what is overstated.

that 90hp TDI engine of VW is the most fuel efficient burners of oil on cars available on the market... too bad that VW makes heavy cars for their size. still mileages in the 40's are common with Beetles, Jettas and Golfs...

In Europe Peugeot and Citroen ( that make diesle engines for cars in colaboration with Ford) have introduced diesel hybrids.

if we finally be getting the low sulphur diesel that Bush has been postphoning for more than a year and the gas prices will irk above 3.50 I'm sure the American buyers will get very interested in such vehicles...

I like the Echo.  The EPA's "real world" database has a few listed:

It looks like the manual transmission cars are pushing 40 mpg real world, which is excellent.

There are quite a few good sites re Eco Driving that you can google.

Here is one:

Between 36-40 mpg for a small 'family' car is quite typical.

You totalled your car last week and already have an excellent insurance settlement AND a court date?!?!?  

What insurance company works that fast and what city has a court system that schedules dates that quickly?  

I want both so I can move there!

At least you have A/C onboard. As far as the stereo, for about $200 (equivalent to 60 gallons of gas) you can go to a Pep Boys or Best Buy and upgrade it. As far as tapes, you can use a cassette Walkman with a $20 FM transmitter thing to play it through the stereo. (either present or upgraded) But with the 30mpg, you have what counts now. I have a 28mpg Kia Rio with A/C and not heavy on amenities. It doesn't have accelleration like a Tomcat slingshotted off a carrier, but it has the gas mileage I like.

With a car that's a little on the underpowered side, you adjust your driving to match. You have to think ahead and strategise some, that's all. Good example. You get on a freeway onramp. Instead of waiting to accellerate at the last minute, you start accellerating immediately but gradually. Watch for ramps that are short and uphill. Look for downhill ramps or long uphill ramps as you can get up to speed before having to merge. Forget about "yellow go faster", you don't have afterburners.

If your car lacks power windows, look on the bright side. It's one less thing to fail. Power locks? Just check the doors with a walk-around. Without a clock, you can add one, which is cheap enough. With the killer gas mileage, you'll gladly after a while not miss the occasional amenity. BTW, at full speed, running the A/C uses less gas than aerodynamic friction caused by open windows. Works great for me, as my (long) hair won't blow around in-drive!

More on "peak metals"....

Pennies for scrap: it's good cents

It could soon be worthwhile for Americans to melt down their pennies for scrap, if zinc and copper prices continue their current rate of increase.

Copper prices have risen 30 per cent this year, and zinc is up 55 per cent - a rise of about $US550 a tonne in a little more than three weeks.

Another rise of the same magnitude would make the metal content in the US 1c coin worth more than its face value.

I think pre-1982 pennies (95% copper) are already worth more than a cent.  1982 had both types, so I save them as well.

A US 5¢ piece (a nickel) is 5 grams, 75% copper and 25% nickel and also getting close to face.

So far, I am just sorting out 1982 and earlier pennies and will buy mounds of nickels when the S gets closer to the fan.

Even in hyperinflation Germany, the smallest coins kept much of their purchasing power.  I expect a $2 roll of nickels will still be able to buy food for a long time to come, no matter what.