Tuesday Open Thread: W's Speech and Why We Should Love High Gas Prices...

As Leanan pointed out under the fold, President Bush in a speech today has suspended deliveries to the SPR, relaxed environmental rules on gasoline, called for an end to tax breaks for big oil, and is investigating oil industry pricing.

Other stuff to note includes an interesting thought piece from UK's Telegraph entitled "Why We Should Love High Gas Prices"; or check out Bill Clinton's speech acknowledging peak oil (is Hillary then the energy savvy presidential candidate?); or is it the "Twilight of Capitalism?"; or visit some of our sponsors, or take a run through our blogroll!

Update [2006-4-25 18:39:55 by Yankee]: Oh my goodness, I think my head is exploding. AmericaBlog, my favorite partisan website, endorses the following sentiment quoted by the DSCC:

Senate Republicans killed a Democratic proposal to make gas price gouging a federal crime. Without making price gouging a federal crime, the federal government can only prosecute oil companies if they can prove collusion to control markets, a standard that is nearly impossible to meet. [S. 2020, Vote #334, 11/17/05; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/18/05]
I'd given up on the Democratic politicians long ago, but when even the liberal bloggers follow suit?
The big news today is probably Bush's energy speech.

He's suspending deliveries to the SPR, relaxing environmental rules on gasoline, calling for an end to tax breaks for big oil, and investigating oil industry pricing.

If you look at the graph for crude prices in the right sidebar you can see exactly when he gave his speech.
Yeah.  How much do you want to bet that the sudden drop in prices after his speech will be seen by the motoring majority as "those gougers running scared", rather than dirtier air for cheaper gas.  The part that has really changed is the change in fuel reformulation.  No need to ship ethanol for a while.  That should bring some of the rocketing ethanol shares back down to earth.  

To answer a question further down, the president can't arbitrarily change the air quality laws, but he can suspend their implementation.  I wonder if the environmental groups will sue?  I wonder if there is a judge out there that would be willing to require implementation again, knowing that s/he will be responsible for jacking gas prices up again.

If environmentalists sue, there is the (low) probability that the judge is appointed for life AND rides a bicycle!
Maybe people with asthma will sue..
Although crude oil prices dropped a bit after the speech, I noticed that nearby gas stations raised prices this afternoon, from $2.89 to $2.95.  It seems as though not everyone agrees that Pres.GWB's new plan will really help the consumer price-problem all that much---at least, not anytime soon.   It will be interesting to see where gas station prices go tomorrow, after release of the weekly petroleum status report.
I posted this a couple of days ago:

"With international oil prices breaching US$75 per barrel, China's crude prices, which fluctuate with international benchmarks, are expected to rise considerably as well. The country's Daqing crude price is forecast to rise to 4,701 (US$586.55) yuan/ton in May, 421 yuan/ton higher than that in April"

But I misundertood what it meant.  It seems to say that the Chinese are willing to bid the price up to $83/b next month, and that they expect it to reach that price.

WTI is now $6.5/b less than IPE for what has typically been a higher grade of oil.  At what differential will it become economical for Asia to buy WTI and ship east?
Right now the June contract is set at just above $72/b.  If the article is any indication of the Chinese willingness to bid the price up by 9%, then this is a very good price indeed.
Thanks L.  I put it up front...
I hope someone with more information can comment on the environmental "relaxations". Are laws being changed or not enforced? The speech wasn't clear.
No details yet, but I suspect it will be that ethanol thing.  That's what's causing the shortages on the east coast, Texas, etc.  He's relaxing the deadline for the switchover, probably.
This is correct-- Bush has asked the EPA to undo the deadline to switch away from MTBE, I believe.  

There was an interview on NPR at noon today with Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee representing the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  When invited to comment on Bush's statement today she sounded fully supportive of reducing environmental impediments to cheap gas.  I don't remember many specific quotes from the interview but "over the top" environmental protection is one that comes to mind.

So here we are. Despite decades of warnings about peak oil, and in disregard of the lessons of the 70's, we're again going to remove environmental protections so we can keep gas "cheap" in order to continue our gluttonous lifestyle.  It's just the beginning, IMO.

It wouldn't be so bad to phase-in the Ethanol switch.  How many millions (billions) of gallons were sold with the old blend?  Waiting a month or two in some cities so that the refineries can catch up on their production won't make a long term difference.  Instead of mandating that all refineries switch today, let 30% switch this month, and another 30 in two months, etc.  In four months we've made the switch with less gnashing of teeth.

An indefinite suspension would be stupid, I think.

Finally, guess which way I think they'll go?

The whole of GWB's four point energy program doesn't even amount to a hill of beans.

As discussed above, not adding the last 12 million barrels of oil to the SPR over the next six months isn't much.  And who here doesn't think the minute the next hurricane strikes the Gulf Coast, the SPR wouldn't be tapped anyway.  Last year the SPR was even tapped for a tug accident!

On to MTBE.  The President is only deffering the implemenation of the changeover to ethanol by 20 days.  More problematic, as far as I can tell, suppliers and providers of MTBE products will still be liable for lawsuits starting on May 6.

Tax credits - so we have a energy conservation that encourages the purchase of additional vehicles!

Hydrogen cars saving the day, don't make me laugh!


How many beans are there in a hill? How many gallons of biodiesel per hill of beans?
Either way, an ominous beginning to what I can see happening more and more in the future: relaxation or outright abolishment of any environmental law seen as too "onerous" in the face of higher and higher energy prices. (How long before they tear down the scrubbers on existing coal-burning power plants?)

And once a step backwards occurs, it will be that more difficult to reenact/re-enforce environmental protections.

Yes, I agree.  The handwriting is on the wall.  We aren't going to tax gas and build light rail.  We're going to throw out environmental rules, burn more dirty coal, and drill the White House lawn if there's any chance there's oil there.

This is why I fear our most likely fate is "catabolic collapse," where we continue on until the environment is so trashed it won't support us any more.

You didn't honestly expect anything different from this president, did you?
I don't expect any different from any president.  The American people don't want to hear that the happy motoring lifestyle is over.  
We have to fight against the political intertia.

The cynicism and resulting paralysis among the people in this country who want positive change almost brings me to tears. Few are willing to fight for it. Cynicism is a horrible, horrible cancer that we can get rid of if we want to. We should be ashamed of ourselves for not doing so.

I'm sick of reading elitist post after post outlining the sins of Americans. Either get of your ass and do something about it or shut your *&%$ing pie hole. If you're "too good" to calmly explain the issues to people who are in denial or unaware, you are part of the problem. You know why the Bad Guys are winning? Because they want it more than we do.

Leanan this post wasn't directed specifically at you, and I know there are a number of people here doing really good work (and more than myself).

What you consider cynicism, I consider realism.

As Prof. Goose has pointed out, it really is harder to change things in the U.S. (as opposed to, say, Europe).  Our whole political system is set up to resist change.  We have massive inertia, and it is intentional.  Built in by the founding fathers.

We aren't going to change until we're forced to.

Our political system was designed to make changes to the system itself hard.  Get the right people into power and the US's energy policy could change dramatically and quickly.  The fact that Bush would rather eat a live toad than do the right thing on energy doesn't mean the whole system is permanently incapable of responding as we'd like.

(I know it's hard to get good people elected largely because of the corrupting power of lobbyist money, but that's a different issue.)

No, not permanently incapable.  But any change will be glacially slow.

We won't be able to get the "right" people into power.  And once they are in power, it won't be easy for them to change things.

Well, I guess it would be good to get a clear definition from you....

The fact that Bush would rather eat a live toad than do the right thing on energy doesn't mean the whole system is permanently incapable of responding as we'd like.

What is "the right thing", in your opinion?

Dear Leanan,

As regards to "We're not going to change until we're forced to". I agree with you. My Big problem is, if we really wait that long, until things are so bad even the dumbest person can see the problem right in front of them, and they cannot be ignored: will it be too late by then to enact the necessary changes to avoid society collapse?

This is a question I think about more and more. If one thinks about the Hirsh report and its recommendations in relation to 'timelines' we should already have begun the 'changes' we appear to already be way behind on this, and how are we going to catch up? Do we really have another 10 or 15 years to waste?

Clearly most people on TOD would say, 'No'. We should be changing now, not speeding up. We're talking about the need to change the course of a giant, super-tanker, and magically turn it into a yacht so we can avoid the reef up ahead. I keep on trying to remain positive and engage with the world around me, but I really don't see any real political leadership anywhere that's taking this problem seriously.

We're talking about the need to change the course of a giant, super-tanker, and magically turn it into a yacht so we can avoid the reef up ahead.


I'm afraid it will take some serious suffering to do that, if it's possible at all.  We've certainly had stark warnings.  The '70s oil crises.  Katrina.  But still, no real change.  What's it going to take?  Something like the "We Were Warned" scenario?  I have a feeling even that won't enough.


That is what I, and many others, have been saying for some time. The American people, just like any human on the planet, are short-term oriented. They want to keep the status quo no matter what the consequences.

Think of it this way. War is the most obviously deadly agent on the planet. You cannot purchase a few scientists and stonewall the deleterious effects of war like you can global warming. The plain truth is lots of people get killed in war. YET, men and women keep going to war. Why? Because at the heart of every little hormone machine known as the human is the certain knowledge that the guy or gal next to him or her will be the one to die on the battlefield -- not them. That person will live forever. If humans had any sense of the imminent future, there would be no war. SO. How can you expect the average human to acknowledge the absolute certainty of peak oil until it is hammering them on the head? You can't. The lemmings march on. Last man standing. And any other trope you can think of.

Yes, I'd like to be optimistic. But look at what we are doing to the planet, the economy, and our own people.

To see what our corporations are doing, go to:


There you will see what it means to be rich, uncaring, deadly and immune from government interference. That is the face of humanity in these republican times. It seems the republicans have it right; we live in brutal Hobbesian times.

All hail the profit motive.

This time, the statement 'YET, men and women keep going to war. Why? Because at the heart of every little hormone machine known as the human is the certain knowledge that the guy or gal next to him or her will be the one to die on the battlefield -- not them.' is so utterly ignorant of how most armies over most human history have functioned that I will just give a couple of recent examples.

The Japanese kamikazes were very effective - but not because that bundle of hormones thought they would live.

The Soviets updated the Prussian attitude of making sure soldiers were more terrified of their officers than the enemy by making sure that the soldiers knew that they would certainly be killed by the units behind them, while the enemy might only kill them.

As near as anyone can tell from the sick mythos and actual combat of the Waffen SS, those bundles of evil didn't seem to care too much about living or dying, apart from fulfilling the goals of their leader.

If you had talked about how elites, plutocrats, chickenhawks, etc. use war, and their attitudes to cannon fodder, fine.

And sure, the soldier is still the one pulling the trigger in the end.

But to blame war on soldiers believing they will live forever while the other dies is just absurd in a larger context. I assume you have heard of the draft? Ever wonder why that institution developed? Ever wonder why most militaries are still based on it?

Here is a hint - it is a supply and demand problem, and peak soldier has been a long running problem, since the demand is so much greater than the voluntary supply for industrial warfare.

I think we are making great progress.  Elite opinion is on board with the idea of peak oil and with the idea that it is happening about now.  As long as there is no short term collapse in the price, I think that the energy crisis will be the defining issue of the 2006 and 2008 elections.  

The Republican are stuck defending the status quo and the oil industry because that is what conservatives do and because of the oil industry background of the administration.  If anyone should have known that the oil is peaking, the Bushies should have.  When it becomes clear that the looming crisis is just another thing that the current leadership has been misleading the public about, opinion will turn even more against them.  The public will have someone to blame for not mobilizing society to do something about it.

The MSM, as evidenced by the Economist article, is also defending the status quo because to embrace the massive change needed would alienate their corporate advertisers and get them in trouble with the public for preaching doom and gloom.  But facts are troublesome things.

The public is at near record levels of discontent with the direction of the country.  They will be open to a crusade to save civilization.  As a society, we will continue to be in denial for a while.  But we have an excellent opportunity in the next few years to change the course of history.  The stars are aligning.

facts are troublesome things

I fear you have a naive understanding of politics.
"Facts" are irrelevant.
What counts is the public's perception of reality.

Politicians are pro's at manipulating the masses like soft noses made of wax.

Let's see. ... What have the Democrats done about this surprise surprise, "urgent" crisis? Nothing. All they do is sit there and whine like babies without their mommies. Only a decisive leader like our GWB stands up and delivers a plan. Only GWB can use the unitary power of his presidency to turn off the EPA rules like a little switch on the wall. Kerry would not have had the guts to flip that switch. Kerry would have stood there and flip flopped. Flip flopped. Flip flopped. America needs decisive leaders. Now, more than ever, America needs Republicans.

(Not that I believe any of this crap ... but point is ..what's "facts" got to do with it? Politics is just perception, twisted and warped in the hands of those skilled at rearranging reality.)

Step back,

Yeah, you people. Listen to Step Back! We need more war! More pollution cause as we all know them liberal scientists are just making all that elitist science crap up to further their own interests -- just ask Micheal Crichton. There is no global warming!! The people are completely moldable, just ask Karl Rove! Facts are irrelevant!! Just feed them disinformation, get them all hopped up on abortion or stem cell hooey and the morons will forget about their planet going to shit.  


And, you know, just because the democrats, also known as republican lite, are too stupid to take hold of all of the issues the republicans keep screwing up and beating the tar out of 'em with these laughable failures, doesn't mean nothing will be done. I sure the democrats will find a way to help some poor person who is hungry or in need of medical help or who is being discriminated against for their sexual orientation. They know better than to challenge the status quo. Weanies.

Yes, keep supporting Resident Bush cause even though he might not be able to pronounce "unitary power of the presidency," ole Unca Dick will show him how to use it!!!

Remember the republican motto!!!



I meant there is a limit to denial and obfuscation if supply and demand drives the price of crude to $130 and gas to $5 by the presidential election.  These guys have no credibility any more.  They should have known that the only solution requires massive investment outside the current oil and gas industry, which was the only beneficiary of their energy policy.

The leader of the Democratic party, Bill Clinton, said the other day that we are probably now at peak production.  Who among the Republicans leaders would dare whisper that?

The Demos are ideally positioned to take the lead out of the coming wreckage of the old order.  The Republican had their chance but have made a mess of it.  The people know that.

Hey Sterling & Cherenkov,

I've voted the Democratic party ticket my whole life.

What I wrote was sarcasm to some extent --but also truth.

The voting masses have never heard of Peak Oil. We here at TOD have our Hubbert Glasses too tightly afixed to our eyeballs. We think everybody sees it the way we do. They don't.

If you do not see that, then you are in deep denial.

The vast majority of the human herd does not know what PO is. The vast majority firmly believes this is just another Middle East conspiracy to temporarily make widfall profits before prices return to "normal".

Just try running PO theory past your co-workers, your friends, your family. Odds are that most will label you a kook.

A couple of days ago, I heard a local radio talk show host (Gene Burns KGO California) do a show on gas prices. He is normally a pretty bright guy --and yet he expressed the belief that this is just a repeat of the 1974 oil crunch. It happened before. It will happen the same way again. Been there. Done that. No need to worry. The end.

I thought about calling in. But what is the use? These late night talk shows are just looking for entertainment value, one minute sound bites. One has to disseminate way too much information in way too little time to get the point across. PO is a tough sell. It's bad news and it's complex. Your average Joe does not like being shown up for what he does not know. Give him American Idol. Give him Apprentice. Give him short tag lines like, "You're fired" or "America wants you". But don't drop that boring PO pablum on him. Those are the facts.


I knew you were being sarcastic if a bit over wrought.

Now I do not think you understand how politics works.  Most voter follow opinion leaders.  They take their cues from people they know who they think know what is going on.  To make a change, you do not need to convince all those people you are worrying about.  That is why elite opinion is so important.  It is definitely going our way.

Until now, peak oil has had no traction with most people because it has had no effect on them.  We are still in the era of cheap oil.  But if we are really now in the undulating plateau, it is different, because either demand will grow and prices will continue to rise or enough demand will be destroyed to slow the economy down a lot.  People are starting to feel it and there is no relief in sight.  I think Matt Simmons has been right about this for a long time and he is predicting $200-250 crude by 2010.  That is only a little more than a year after the next presidential election.  So the crisis is upon us.

The Karl Rove magic is not going to work any more.  Bush is at 32% and still going down.  No one trusts him any more.  The administration has utterly failed to do anything useful about the long-term problem.  Deplete America First while we still have cheap oil is not only not the answer but also severely threatens our national security.  Taking over the Persian Gulf is not going to fly either.  It will not keep oil flowing and cannot be done without a large scale draft.

Do not lose faith.  The tide is about to turn.  There is a real chance now for significant change.  The American people are going to take the keys away from the people that have made such a mess of the current situation and done nothing constructive to prepare us for the coming crisis.

The American people are going to take the keys away from the people that have made such a mess of the current situation and done nothing constructive to prepare us for the coming crisis.

And give them to people whose idea of "doing something" is to make gas price gouging a federal crime...

Yeah, probably.  But I don't really expect the Democrats to make a suicide run by proposing a fuel tax.
A recent poll at Jerome a Paris' dKos Diary suggests 65% might. Think about it, if you brought the Republicans in, it wouldn't be a suicide run, you'd be in the center with a fighting chance, and with effective leadership, a good chance.
None of this short term posturing is going to help us.  We need Matt Simmon's Plan B, a massive World War II level effort to remake our energy infrastructure.  There is no chance that is going to come out of the current crowd.  The oil industry Republicans are too much part of the problem.  The Demos are our only hope.
If the Demos are our only hope, then God help us.

Politicians are not the answer. They just feed themselves votes. Last time I looked, the only politician screaeming peak oil was Roscoe Bartlett --a Republican. No one was listening to him, not even the Demos.

They are obviously going to "pull every lever" to change public opinion, and some of that will be more cosmetic than practical.

I think pulling the oil companies' tax credits is something that should have been done last year, and if it is really done now that is better late than never.

I think more credits for efficient cars are less useful than a n increased fuel tax, but I'll take what I can get.  Beyond the dollars and cents they send the signal that efficient cars are needed for American's future energy security blah blah ..

And so there is some grandstanding along with that.  These are politicians, of course they grandstand.

Maureen Dowd agrees with me:
(Too bad for you non NYT subscribers)
If crude hits $130/bbl and gas $5/gal, quite a few commuters will find themselves effectively grounded. All long-range ones of course. But that's a good size voting bloc of PISSED-OFF voters! When half your take-home pay is funneled down the gas cap, you will know something's up but not being told about it.

If there's any good news now, the oil peak is being plastered all over the Internet. Peak Oil and $5/gal gas will be practically in the same sentence everywhere on the blogs. A bunch of said grounded commuters out of jobs from being grounded will look up "gas prices" on Google and grep up Peak Oil in no time, then grep that up before Com Ed pulls the plug on their home.

Once these people figure upt their fearless leader Bush v.2.0 hid the facts, they will wake up and either not vote or vote anything but the guilty party. GOP voters not voting help half-way. With the division of 51/49, a bloc of grounded commuters simply not voting can sway an election - if it's not rigged!

A friend of mine put 11,000 miles on his Suburban in March.  In his words?  "Good thing prices hadn't risen this high (to $2.80) yet."  He gets almost 14 mpg when not pulling a trailer.  

On another note, we may be surprised how many people still don't know what a "blog" is.

Sterling wrote:

The Demos are ideally positioned to take the lead out of the coming wreckage of the old order.

The Democrats are as much a part of the current order (old in your future retrospective) as the Republicans and will be buried in the wreckage of any collapsing superstructures (to borrow metaphorically from Gramsci).  

We will get no political leadership on this or any other problem so long as these solutions are against the interests of the corporations and wealthy individuals that fund both parties' political apparatus.  

Sectors of capital may wrangle over some issues -- e.g. insurance companies vs. fossil fuel companies on climate change -- and we might see this battle reflected in money flows and thus positions of the two major parties.  

That's the best the current system can offer its participants.  

I admit to a sick fascination with Washington politics and certainly experience my share of fist-pounding outrage each day (expressed as fppd and charting in a manner not dissimilar from oil prices) at the fools who make it their home, but the national government isn't going to save us.  Likely to opposite, no matter whether Democrats or Republicans control government.

Activity and advocacy on a local scale to mitigate the failures of the national government seem the only sensible choice.

I agree with your metaphor. However, even if you know you are going onto the reef, it helps to put the engines full astern and put the wheel hard over. (BTW, it doesn't matter as much as you might think which way hard over: The point is to induce as much drag as possible.)

Ships go on reefs all the time. They do not always break up or sink; in fact, usually they do not. The sooner action is taken, the more likely it is that disaster can be avoided.

The one thing you do not want to do is order engines full ahead and maintain course, and, again metaphorically, that is pretty much what we have been doing.

BTW, a mutiny is not likely to improve matters, though if I'd been first mate on the Titanic I'd have gotten the drunken captain to bed and given orders for "slow ahead" after the skipper,s fifteenth or sixteenth drink, some time around 8 or 9 p.m.

(Trivial Pursuit question: Do you know why Colombus's ship, the Santa Maria, sank on the night of Christmas Eve, 1492?)

In Edward Hale's Life of Columbus, the story is that all were asleep save for one boy to whom the helm was entrusted.  He apparently failed to observe or hear the breakers and allowed the Santa Maria to run aground on a reef off Hispaniola.  One boy out of a crew of 39 left to steer a ship? I have my doubts - one wonders if the festive occasion might have had a hand.
Arrrrrrrghh, aye, me hearty, we sailormen have been known to imbibe to excess--whenever possible;-)

And, to deepen the mystery, Cristopher Coloumbus had a special reason to get especially drunk that particular night. Now that you have all the wedges and are in the center of the board, what was that reason? (In other words, why would it have been personally dangerous to Columbus not to have gotten as drunk as the others that night?)

Yo ho, ho and a bottle of rum,
Drink and the Devil had done for the rest,
. . . .

do tell...
No. I am testing the readership of TOD to see if anybody can do genuine research and come up with little-known but interesting facts.

Hint: Who is the best-known naval historian of the 20th century, at least in the U.S.?

Either Morison or Mahan. I'll throw Corbett in for the helluvit.
My guess is the answer may lie in Morrison's "Admiral of the Ocean Sea". I would enjoy tracking this down, but as it's a round trip of 200 miles to the nearest good library, I will pass for now.
Samuel Eliot Morrison
Ah, my vote would have been for A.T. Mahan.  
I suppose the question becomes influential in what sense?  Mahan's works definitely had the most impact on the European navies of the next several decades.
You are correct.

I should have specified "twentieth-century" naval historian.

Must reread Mahan one of these days, along with H.J. MacKinder's "Democratic Ideals and Reality."

Typically, I find more insight and relevance in old great books than the deluge of best-selling lightweight trash that now inundates us.

And where is Barbara Tuchman, now that we need her?

Ah, sadly she has passed away, some years ago.
I truly enjoyed "The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam."
Or how about her biography of Joe Stilwell?
I have to agree with Leanan on many fronts.  We have to be practical and realistic, regardless of our politics.

As much as each of us wants the perfect solution (that exactly conforms with our specific idea of what that solution should be,)it isn't realistic to think that our government can deliver that.  There are 300+ million citizens and a whole bunch of corporate citizens that all have their own idea of what that solution should be.

It is the role of the U.S. Government to make decisions based on meeting the needs of ALL Americans -- not just a few -- and that includes the peak-oilers, big business, little business, giant corporations, the oil industry, the farmers, the renewables industry, the conservatives, the liberals, the libertarians, labor, and about ten thousand domestic and international agreements and laws that impact how we conduct business in this country, to name a few.  It's an incredibly complex balancing act that I can't personally imagine having to navigate through myself.

In his speech today, the President said at least a half dozen times that America needed to "stop using oil", and that Americans need to "conserve".  He tied those requirements to both national security and economic security. (I'm not sure how much more direct he could really be.  Unfortunately, most Americans are deaf to the issue.) And today's speech was almost exclusively about automobile energy -- one of the bigger sources of oil demand in our country.  It's "low hanging fruit".

He outlined several programs to help America transition to new technologies, fuels, and energy sources.  He outlined existing tax incentives (and proposed new ones) for people who voluntarily transition to new technologies, and for the producers of those new technologies, and proposed eliminating $2 billion in tax breakes to the oil folks who have "large cash flows".  

His slogan for his Energy Initiative is, "Energy Security for the 21st Century -  Reliable, Affordable, and Environmentally-Sound energy." That sounds pretty good -- it's not perfect, but its a good start for a program that is just in its infancy.  It's a lot better than what we had 18 months ago.

How do you think the majority of citizens, industry, and the stock market would react if the President simply announced that all passenger gas guzzling vehicles (gas mileage average of lower than 25mpg) were un-American and he was now implementing a 25% gas tax to fund development of a future based on alternatives, a whole new transportation paradigm, and that the MBTE transition to ethanol was going to be escalated despite the resulting additional shortages of gas this summer and higher gas prices, and that we'd all just have to deal with it?  

He would be impeached...if he lasted that long.  The President can't treat America that way.  He needs to develop concensus and support. In any transition there needs to be some level of compromise, some give and take to ultimately make the transition as smooth as possible.  In America, the President can't just say...."OK, we're doing things differently, starting tomorrow, 'cause I say so."  It doesn't work that way.  Everything is a process.  Baby steps.

If we look at the President's energy policy changes and focus over the past six months, I think most would agree that he has been doing quite a lot on the energy issue as compared to his predecessors (Clinton, Bush-1, Reagan).  He may not have all the answers and his programs may require adjustment down the road, but quite frankly his advisors are hearing from every corner of special interests in America, and they have to play the balancing act.

I have no doubt in my mind that the President is fully and keenly aware of the emergency facing us with oil depletion.  I also believe his strategy is to gradually turn up the heat so that America can adapt, rather than provide the shock of an ice cold shower (shocks create ugly recessions and depressions).  At the same time, there is a very critical clock ticking away, and whether or not there is time to implement the transition is a big question.

The SOU Address was Act 1, Scene 1.  His tour around the country promoting his energy policy following the SOU was Act 1, Scene 2.  His Earthday tour and bike ride, leading up to his speech today, was Act 2, Scenes 1 and 2.  In his speech today he also said "there's a lot more work to do."
Act 3 hasn't yet begun.  There will be Acts 4 and 5.  

It will be interesting to see what's going to happen next.  We haven't yet heard of a new national rail program, a program to reduce trucking fuel consumption, or programs to radically increase renewables use to replace natural gas.  But those will all come, because they must.  

I have no doubt in my mind that the President is fully and keenly aware of the emergency facing us with oil depletion.  

I'm not so sure, myself.  My feeling is that he's just reacting to the current crisis, as opposed to having any kind of a plan.  He backed off his SOTU comments the very next day, and really didn't do much to push them.  He rescinded cuts to alternate energy programs - but just because he was embarrassed by the press coverage, or so it seemed to me.  

This latest speech was prompted by his 33% approval rating, and the fury of voters facing gas shortages and $3/gallon gas.  Had prices not spiked again, he probably would not have given this speech.

But it doesn't really matter.   That's how things get done in the country.  The system is larger than any individual, and tends to pull people along in the current.  Kennedy didn't want the moon mission, but it became politically necessary, and the project succeeded, years after he was dead.

"This latest speech was prompted by his 33% approval rating, and the fury of voters facing gas shortages and $3/gallon gas.  Had prices not spiked again, he probably would not have given this speech."

Hmm.  On the other hand, what if he knows what tomorrow's inventory report is going to look like, and figured he needed to get out in front of it?

Yikes.  o_O

I guess we'll find out tomorrow...

Or maybe he knows how big Oilco's profits are going to be when announced later this week?
Nice post, plunsfo.  FWIW, I think Bush is in the know here too.  Perhaps his lack of action has something to do with his faith in free markets rather than government programs to "solve" oil depletion.

Leanan, several threads back you mentioned that Bush has some alternative energy himself, such as a ground-source heat pump in Crawford, cisterns, and some solar.  What is this about?  Is this standard for a ranch in Texas, or is Bush really an early adopter of some of this stuff?  Thanks in advance if you could post some sources for this information.

Google Prairie Chapel Ranch (the name of the Crawford ranch) and it should come up.

I doubt it's standard for a ranch in Texas, but it's not like it's a real ranch.  Bush is afraid of horses, and has no cattle on his "ranch."  It's a rich man's estate, not a ranch.

And he's from New England, not Texas, though he likes to pretend otherwise.

I don't read too much into his "green" ranch.  Seems more fashion than peak oil preparations.  He wanted solar panels to heat his swimming pool (but found he didn't need them).  The cistern/wastewater is used to water his landscaping of "native" plants.  

A big deal is made about Shrub riding a bike, but it's not like he's ever commuted to work on one (or ever will; he's pretty much guaranteed a motorcade at minimum until he dies)

How much fuel has Air Force One burned while he is hopping around the country to talk about conservation?

Last year's energy bill had some money for bike trails, but I'm not sure it made up for previous cuts.  It's that old cut with one hand and spend with the other thing.
Bike trails aren't the answer, not if we want bikes to be a serious alternative for commuting.  

Bike trails are limited the same way light rail is - trying to put them close enough to desired destinations eats up a lot of real estate, which is expensive and time consuming.  Better than nothing, though, but they are too easy for residents to jump up and say "nope" to.

Bike lanes aren't much better, I prefer just to make a wider outside lane and make sure traffic signals are tuned to pick up something as small as a bicycle.  

Bikes are perfectly capable of going anywhere a car can and then some.  They just make a fraction of the environmental footprint, if that.

There is this program Bicycling magazine runs called "Bike Town USA."  I live, fairly often ride through, one of the past featured towns (Irvine, CA).  I think they have got a pretty good system of bike trails and bike lanes.  Some of the bike trails are wide, some lighted, and often with keyed gates so folks can cycle out from a condo or apartment complex into the trail system.  It's all rich and slick.

Most of it works by the California formula, which is to make double use of the shoulder of flood control channels, for maintenance trucks and for bicyclists.  The flood control channels are full of herons and ergrets, so it's not all ugly.


You get up towards LA and the channel trails get a little bit of a homeless population, which is sad.

I bicycle and sometimes bike-commute. The way to safely ride is called "Vehicular Cycling." Stay out of the door-zone of parked cars and in the street. It's a bit scary at first, but when you take enough of a lane, cars & trucks won't try to squeeze by, but instead move over when passing. When coming to stop lights, treat your bike as any other vehicle and wait your turn in line. Don't ride straight through right-turn lanes, but instead move a lane over just like a motor-vehicle would, etc.

I personally cannot wait until gas stays over $5-10/gal and the big SUVs and H2s here in L.A. get off the streets. It will be a lot safer for us 2-wheelers: bicyclists & motorcyclists.
I was riding in a bike lane two weeks ago and following the rules of the road and paying attention. I was hit by a car because the driver wasn't paying attention and suddenly turned right onto a side street without signaling or looking. I saw it coming but couldn't stop and was prevented from moving to the right because of the curb. She struck my bike and we went flying. I wasn't hurt badly -- road rash and bruises -- but it happened without any warning. Bike lanes are better than no bike lanes, but I'll vote for physically protected lanes or trails any day.
Pleasant as they are for men, even urban bike trails often leave female cyclists vulnerable to attack.

I tried vehicular cycling back in the 80s and had angry pickup drivers shouting at me to use the sidewalk (ignorant, I know).

I had slightly better luck with the moped, but I still found that some drivers would overtake me on my left and then force me off to the right shoulder once they couldn't see me any more.  

I finally bought a motorcycle just so I could keep up with traffic, but found it too unstable in the wet.

Now I simply ride as far to the right as I can, or use the relatively empty suburban sidewalks.  Urban sidewalks are too dicey.

The Bush Folks' Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine is also decked with PV on the roof.  I would call it 'survivalism' more then 'environmentalism'.  

 No doubt they know all about how skittish the energy future is.  Sad that they think those houses will survive when surrounded by a country full of people who might start getting very covetous of Silicon.  There won't be any stability unless we can get our neighbors working with us, and us with them to get through it.

Do as he does, not as he says..

"Everything is a process.  Baby steps."

Baby steps would have been fine had we started in the 70s.  Now I think we need to sprint to outrun that runaway disaster brought on by depletion.  

I think the typical saying is "I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist." I'm basically a doomer myself. I plan for and expect the worst, but work for the best. Most people view that as a dichotomy (as one of the replies to my post did), but it isn't. People look at the stunning inertia of our culture and power structure and say "there is nothing I can do" or worse "we deserve what we have coming, and I can't wait to see it." The cynicism becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, enhancing the inertia.

The people really do have the power - the problem is that the task of getting all citizens on our page is a an awesome challenge with fantastically long odds, and the fact that the powers that be can kill a whole lot of us while we're protesting before their power wanes. Still, why not try? We're all going to die eventually.

Well stated.

As Socrates and others have mentioned, the fundamental question is how to live wisely and well--and the question of an afterlife is irrelevant to the Really Big Issue (RBI) of how to achieve "eudaimonia," which is an untranslatable Greek word that means something approximating "human fullfillment and well-being resulting from virtue" as opposed to the vague term "happiness" which is the usual--and highly misleading--translation.

My own approach during these decades of increasing uncertainty is to behave as if there is a 50% chance of TEOTWAWKI the day after tomorrow and a 50% chance of business pretty much as usual for the next fifty years. Now I do not believe either of these eventualities is likely, but by being prepared for both I'm reasonably well able to handle most scenarios in between.

The weather is always uncertain. That is no reason to cancel an ocean cruise in a small sailboat. If you are afraid to get wet, then you may as well just watch TV and shrivel up and die.

I plan for and expect the worst, but work for the best.

I think we're all doing that here.  Where we differ is in what "the best" is.  

In my view, the federal government is hopeless.  They'll do what they have to do, and I have better things to spend my resources on than pushing that boulder uphill.  Acting locally is the way to go.  Some would say extremely locally - saving yourself, your family, your community - rather than trying to change the world.

If it wasn't directed specifically at her, who was it directed at? I'm assuming you didn't just randomly insert that outburst where you did. Who are the Bad Guys? Is there no such thing as healthy cynicism?
I think MillMan had a good point.

I see excess cynicism, elitist/exitenstialist-despair and weeping and wailing at great length about the stupidity, ignorance, corruption, decay, etc. of America and Americans.

Having studied history and anthropology, I just chuckle and say to myself, "compared to what."

There can be an excess of cynicism and an excess of credulity. Certainly their can be excesses of pessemism or optimism. Indeed there are very very few things of which there cannot be an excess--wisdom, justice, and perhaps moderation.

I, however, claim that the ancient Greeks were right who said that even moderation can be practiced to excess.

If you are looking for a good place to talk to people who are in denial, here is a good one:


and here is my latest effort

http://www.virginiagasprices.com/Forum_MSG.aspx?master=1&category=1056&topic=197539&page _no=1&FAV=N

Denial is a tough nut to crack though.  People who think it is just price gouging have a fairly simple view of the world, and I suppose in some way it is comforting to think that all we need to do is crack some heads together and cheap gas comes back.

Despite the name of the website, the forums appear to be nationwide.  I could find my messages at www.californiagasprices.com just as well as I could find them at the Virginia site.

I think the addiction metaphor is somewhat applicable here. People in the developed world have become accustomed--you may read addicted-- to the lifestyle underwritten by cheap oil and aggressively promoted by the mantras of markateers.  Although doubts are increasing as to the sustainability of this high entropy/consumption mode of life, people are going to be loathe to part with it without substantial resistance.  At first they are going to focus on "keeping the gravy train running" and tend to acuse anyone who suggests this as not possible of being "against them".  However, I retain faith that at least many people will be eventually willing to aknowledge the problem but even then change will be hard, as anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking/drinking/drugs after an established addiction can attest.
"Because they want it more than we do."

Yes they do, and will do anything to win.  ANYTHING.  So just how far are you willing to go to prevail against that?  Will you cast aside all of your morals?  Will you lay down your life?  If the answer is no, someone may come along and tell you to get up off you ass and do something, or you have no right to voice an opinion.  Look, it's easy to cheerlead sitting at a keyboard, but there are limits for all of us, both to what we can do, and what we are willing to do.  That should not mean we have no right to participate in a dialog about the situation.  

How do you know that cynicism is always connected to paralysis?  IMHO, the biggest reason for paralysis in this country is ignorance - some of it willful.  And how sure are you that, even bearing my cross of cynicism and pessimism, I'm not already doing more than you?  I've seen posts from many on this board that amaze me in terms of what they are accomplishing - and lots of them are pretty damn cynical!

If you are unwilling to recognize the possibility that you may fail, you will then not make preparations for that eventuality.  Perhaps there is no one depending on you, but I don't have that freedom - I have to do my best regardless of whether we reduce our energy footprint and switch to cleaner energy, or if we burn dirty coal and drill on the Whitehouse lawn.  

You can take that a bit further than just American pResidents.  This is a global problem, and to solve it would require global action.  I'm deeply pessimistic that human nature itself will allow us to solve the problem.  Look at it this way.  If I cut back on consumption it merely offers up an opportunity for someone else to consume "my share".  If a counry cuts back, other countries will step in.  Even if you get a nation to take effective action (Sweden, Denmark, Brazil etc.) does anyone seriously expect China to say, "Hmmm, coal, oil or ethanol?  Yeah, I think we'll go with ethanol"?

Human nature (specifically our inability to see past the zero-sum game) will not permit enough of us to forego a perceived advantage in order that strangers may prosper while our tribe falls behind.  At the very least you wind up in a situation where all the players are content to wait for someone else to make the first move.

Add to that the sense of American entitlement you mention along with the sense of Manifest Destiny that is afoot in high places, and you are in a major box, with human nature and psychology blocking every exit.

Well, I'll bite. Brazil was faced with oil or ethanol - they made the right choice. While the rest of us are squirming and wringing our hands, Brazilians are happily motoring away, with cleaner emissions too.

When people ARE GIVEN the REAL CHOICES and ALLOWED TO CHOOSE, they can make the right ones. Each of us does it every day at work or for our families. The outright lies and obfuscation perpetrated on Americans by this government and the MSM is well documented both within and without the USA. Obfuscation and denial of the facts are what is paralyzing Americans, not their decision making ability.

It is this corporate/political machine that is denying the truth to people, and that people includes our congress critters. They are hit with so much sheer BS coming from the left and the right, and the treehuggers and the eco-destroyers, the "immigrants create jobs" people and the "immigrants take jobs" folks...the list is endless. They are simply too inundated with misinformation FROM BOTH SIDES OF EVERY ISSUE and too pressed for time to do much more than ask each other questions, and the result is usually either too much or not enough, but heavy on the pork.

Unfortunately, our government doesn't allow the people to vote on issues, just representation. So we are stuck until every single issue has already become an all-consuming crisis....

The root cause of this is basically corruption in one form or another. Asking a politician to empty his pockets instead of lining them is not going to fly in this type of corrupt and sordid political landscape. We have to FORCE our representatives to do the right thing (unfortunately), and until every American understands the issues enough to make their choice, nothing can happen. And it is in the best interests of corporations and politicians to have an uninformed, malleable constituency. It isn't in their best interest to tell us the truth either.

It (Peak Oil) will, by virtue of where American politics are today, where the American educational system has failed us and where mainstream media have drugged us, going to be a very painful time for all Americans.

Sure hope my kids are up for radical changes!!

Brazil has a smaller population (half of the US), a much lower energy usage per capita, and a ready resource in sugar cane.  The problem the US faces is much larger and its alternatives like corn and soy are much lower in energy density.  That's not to say the conversion can't be done, but as always the devil is in the details.

As the old maps used to say, "Here there be dragons!"

Not only that...they have a socioeconomic demographic quite different from ours.  Instead of a large middle class, they have a lot of poor people and a small number of rich people.  Only the rich people can afford cars.

So they have a lot of dirt-poor peasants who can never dream of owning a car, who can serve as cheap labor on the sugar plantations, and only a small number of car-drivers, who are wealthy enough to pay $5/gallon without a blink.

Not a model I want to emulate.

Not to mention clearcutting tens of thousands of hectares of Amazonian rainforest for those same said sugar cane plantations.
Sugar cane in Brazil is largely grown in the Southern regions, not in the rainforest regions. Virtually no rainforest is cut for sugar cane growth. Rainforests in Brazil are cut for timber, mining, farming suitable to the region, etc.
"Not a model I want to emulate."

I don't blame you, but maybe you should start getting used for it.

Take a look a this article in the Wall Street Examiner by Lee Adler where he discusses the forecasts of the increasingly influential GaveKal research group in their book "Our Brave New World".

GaveKal believe:

Over time, the job market in developed economies (like the U.S.) will consist of a minority of very creative individuals who work for themselves, and a majority who work in the service industry for the creative minds and/or the tourists coming in from the industrial world.
Adler responds:
While GaveKal sees this as a shiny new paradise, it actually sounds a lot like the Armageddon-like predictions of a world where the top 1% are filthy, stinking rich (kind of like now), the top 10% are friends and family of the stinking rich sucking off the teat of the top 1%, and the rest of us are shining the shoes, manning the burger pits, detailing the Porsches and giving backrubs to hedge fund managers, global wildcat financiers and GOOG muckedymucks.

In short, GaveKal's Distopian vision of the future of the U.S. sounds more similar to present-day Saudi Arabia, than to an updated version of what was once known as "the American Dream."

The fact that our 1% is supposedly merit-based and comprised of brilliant, 'creative' financial engineers, as opposed to wealth-by-surname as in Saudi Arabia, seems like a distinction without a difference to me. The end result is the same: a society where a handful own and control nearly everything with the rest doing their bidding. In this way, GaveKal's vision of a grand, creative meritocracy looks suspiciously similar to every other society throughout history that has concentrated wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands.

Is this the America of the future?
Frankly, I think this is our most likely future.  Not a sudden dieoff.  Just more and more Americans falling out of the middle class every year, as it becomes very easy to fall down the ladder, and nigh impossible to climb up it.

And the idea that the top 1% will be merit-based is a joke.  Is Bush sitting in the Oval Office now because of his personal merit?  Will it be any different after TSHTF?

It's what I see too, but with "order" enforced by a more and more authoritarian government.
It is quite sad to see feudalism making a definitive return.
Hey, nobody forced the dirt poor peasants to re-produce.  You don´t like your life, stop having children, otherwise prepare to cook my food and pick my crops.  And if you don´t like this reality, well I have no answer for you.  Now fill up my one cylinder tank with the latest ethanol gasoline blend for the bargain of $4.75 per gallon.  
Have you noticed that the poorer people are, the more children they have? Here in L.A. I see Mexican women pregnant and holding 2 or 3 or more kids in tow. It is clear that they have very little money. Why do they do that? They will be the first ones to be affected by peak oil. And they are also the ones siphoning off our middle-class tax dollars.
It's pretty far off the usual Oil Drum topics, but for starters, you might wanna ask the Pope about that...
I doubt that Joseph "Benedict v.16.0" Ratzinger is going to change Catholic cult policy on mass production of hungry mouths to feed and brainwash.
Simple explanation --

The poorer you are, the less you have access to family planning medicines and teachings.  

Money and hence access to services, not race, correlate to the number of children women have.  

Also, there's a guy in Rome who wears a dress and doesn't have sex himseld but tells people they will go to Hell if they put a raincoat on during sex.  

And they are also the ones siphoning off our middle-class tax dollars.

Immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are net contributors as they draw down fewer services -- like Medicaid for family planning and prescription contraceptives.  

These  "Mexican women" (or Mexican American women or Salvadoran women or Dominican women ... -- either you asked them for their passports or the distinction isn't important to you)  may occupy your attention, but it's the rich folks who do the real siphoning of tax dollars with disastrous tax cuts that are set to become permanent and no-bid multi-billion dollar contracts in Iraq and the Gulf Coast.  

I agree wholeheartedly with the above and below.  As I have previously stated, the poor use very little energy, at least here in Brasil. They do not own cars, take the bus or train when available, eat very little, and do not own energy intensive units such as plasma tv´s, air conditioners, or microwaves, or any other luxury. Poor people are not the problem.
Hopefully, they will be less affected by the coming crapstorm.  
Brazil has far fewer automobiles than we do, a much better mass transit system, few if any true suburbs, though they do have shanty towns, but I can guarantee you that traffic is not a problem in them.

The Brazilians are busily destroying the Amazonian rain forest to plant more and more sugar cane because the land where it is currently planted becomes rapidly depleted without fertilizer.

Brazil's ethanol "miracle" is a sham. It is not sustainable and will collapse when the soil collapses.

On another post about how Bush is offering solutions: BULL.

Bush is famous for proposing many seemingly good programs and then either ignoring them, killing them outright, or underfunding them. These people are manipulative bastards, and they know that the press is in their pocket and will never check the record and, should they do so, never report on the Bush administration's hypocrisy. Bush and his cronies also know that Americans are wilfully ignorant and will swallow any stupid thing they say.

This latest speech is like all of his other speeches, window dressing. The post lauding Bush's speech is an example of exactly why we are soooo screwed. If someone posting on this site believes Bush in this instance, what will the average American think?

The pro-Bush post looks suspiciously like the work of a pro flack. Below he's fronting for CERA. ?????????  I can't be sure, but suspicious, yes.
The same though occurred to me, but as a Canadian I was just to darned polite to call him on it :-)  People from the other side work boards like this all the time.
Why don't you actually engage the person on the topic, instead of sniping from another thread? Not your style?
True, I have no style. Oil CEO does. Thanks for not slamming me harder, I was a bit crude.
TOD has an exceptional signal-to-noise ratio. So improbable for an open forum
I agree with much of what you write, however, I'm accustomed to TOD'ers being a bit more rigorous in their research before popping off on a subject. On energyresources member Milton Maciel from Brazil has posted extensively on the whole Brazilian sugar cane industry, from conventional to organic (which he vastly favors). He has pointed out several times that the cane plantations are in Southern Brazil, not in the rainforest region and that rainforest is not cut to plant cane.

There is possibly -- and I haven't researched this in detail-- the indirect effect of cane plantations taking land that would have other crops which then are planted in cleared rainforest area. But nevertheless, having read his very detailed information on sugar cane production, I always do a double take when someone trots out the 'sugar cane/rainforest cutting' connection.

Dear Glider,

I'm not deeply pessimistic about 'human nature' mainly because I don't think it really exists! If it does I believe we should talk about a plurality of 'human natures' and if we do that we get into very complicated areas. Whilst I'm sceptical about the existance of 'human nature', I do recognise that human culture exists. It has changed, is changing, and will change. Human culture, or the way we live, is not static, change is life's characteristic. Therefore, we can and have changed our culture. For me, am I starting to sound too optimistic, the problem lies in another direction. I suppose I mean our political culture. I'm less and less interested in minor differences between Left and Right, or Democrats and Republicans, or Socialism contra Capitalism. I don't think the 'elites' who rule are up to the job. I think we need to inject a lot of 'new blood' into our political culture and really shake things up from the top to the bottom. I suppose I'm talking about a kind of 'Revolution.' I think we need to topple the old elite and get new people into power, in much the same way it happened in Eastern Europe with fall of Communism. The decadent, corrupt and incompetent 'aristocracy' that rules us now, must be replaced, and soon. That's the kind of scale of change I think is needed if we're really going to tackle the problem of Peak Oil. There are, unfortunately, lots of problems with this 'revolutionary' model for rapid social change, I'm aware of that. Historically, the level of social decay and suffering required before the 'people' are perpared to support 'revolution' may, indeed, be an obsticle in itself. And in the United States who is to say what the 'revolution' would bring? The break up of the Union? Christo-Fascism? A military regime of some sort? A Socialist dictatorship? Personally I'd support a 'revolution' that aimed for a massive 're-democratisation' of society.

That the U.S. part of us seems to be beyond any rational restrictions in satisfying immediate wants (or needs) is not really news, but a lot of the rest of the non-U.S. us does tend to take a longer view.

Quite honestly, Germany, and much of Europe, is getting very scared of climate change, they are at least partially changing their behavior, and they even haven't yet lost a city to a hurricane or other weather induced catastrophe. There is no good reason to think that other areas are any less capable of such long term thinking and self-discipline.

But it is a toss up - virtually all of Africa is a region where short term actions over decades have led to massive long term problems.

But not all of humanity thinks like a typical American politician responding to the wishes and desires of the typical American voter (or perhaps more realistically, the typical American campaign contributor).

The race is on, being run between those who have ignored and continue to ignore the future, those who see a future which can be mastered with hard work, and those who see a very grim future, without any possible alternative.

Collapse is the path America chose sometime around 1980, in my opinion, since it chose to ignore the future then, as it continues to today, by and large. And it remains all too likely America (in the terms we would agree to - a new polity is certainly possible by the end of my life) will follow this path to the end. But such gloomy un-American thinking was no more appreciated 25 years ago than it is today.

Almost. Americans chose collapse in November of 1980 when they ignored Carter and voted for Reagan!
My concern exactly. As we move further into coal and tar sand the environmental issues will be much larger and more costly.
I still cannot fathom the Canadians would choose to make Alberta into a lunar landscape for us to drive SUVS... but
society's best minds are calling those shots.

The relaxation of ethanol requirments, in this case, may be a blessing in disquise. There's a lot of momentum there from ag. business maneuvering, not science.

If most Canadians saw what was actually happening in Alberta, I think there would be much less tolerance for it.

That said.. money and greed are powerful motivators, and Alberta is large enough that most of the oil sand destruction is very far removed from any large populations.  For those not familiar some very rough estimates... it's about 2000miles (4000km)  to Toronto, 1500miles to Detroit... 50-100miles from Edmonton or Calgary and 300miles to Vancouver/Seattle to the West, Yellowknife, NWT to the North, and Boise, Idaho to the South.

Athabasca is cold, remote, and largely unsettled country... perfect NIMBY proof area.

oops... that should be about 2000miles to Toronto and 2100 or so to Detroit.
Your point is valid but your distances are out to lunch.

Money talks in our land, too, and don't count on our conservative Prime Minister to be any more forward-thinking than Bush.  Harper wants to lower our consumption tax against the best advice of all the finance department's (and even industry's) wishes.  It's all political.  Fortunately, this is a minority government that will probably be turfed in a year ... to be replaced by a similarly clueless regime.  The turfing, of course, won't be because of peak oil or the environment or some worthwhile reason.  

I doubt very much that Harper will be out on his ear in such a short time. The Liberal party is in leaderless disarray. They won't want to provoke an election until they've chosen a new leader and enough time has passed for that leader to have had a chance to build some credibility with the public. (In the meantime they know Harper can't do anything too radical as they still have a majority in the senate with veto power.) It would be interesting if the Liberals chose Michael Ignatieff, but I doubt if nuanced opinions make good enough soundbites for him to be elected.
I agree that the Conservatives will be around for a while.  In the meantime it's so dispiriting to hear Harper turning into Bush Lite regarding Kyoto and the War on Terra.  Between him, Gordon O'Connor saying we "won't cut and run, we won't let the terrorists win" in Afghanistan and Peter McKay licking Condi's patent leather boots we have a lot to look forward to until the Liberals can get their act back together. At least we can figure out how it's going to unfold by glancing south.  I'm pretty ticked with a lot of my fellow Canadians right now.
My primary concern at the thought of a relatively long-lived Harper minority is that both Canadian federalism and Canadian sovereignty could be weakened. Both Harper and the Quebec separatists (who could keep him in power for a long time) favour increased decentralization. They may be able to package it in such a way as to get it through the senate. Combined with Harper's views that Canada should find common cause with the US more often, my fear is that a weak centre may not hold against the kind of pressure I would expect the US to try to exert in the future (perhaps over NAFTA provisions). I can't help seeing the potential for Canada to become more fissile at the worst possible time.
Yuk! That's a mental image I didn't need!  

Sorry about your country guys, it was only a matter of time.  Have they added the addendum for Canada into the PNAC document?

Speaking of Canada...this little city up in the Great White North is currently debating peak oil:

City should lead in conservation as oil prices soar

Urban issues consultant Richard Gilbert says Hamilton should plan its land use, design its buildings and base its economic development on the assumption gasoline will cost $4 a litre and natural gas $2 a cubic metre in the next 12 years.

His long-awaited peak oil report, which council will debate Friday, says there is a "more than even chance" prices for those fuels will increase fourfold by 2031, perhaps as soon as 2018.

But instead of taking a doom-and-gloom approach, Gilbert suggests Hamilton become a leader in energy conservation, electric transit and generating electricity from solar rays, wind and burning garbage.

He urges Hamilton to retrofit old buildings, require new ones to be energy-efficient and build light-rail, streetcar or trolley-bus lines connecting Eastgate Square to McMaster University, downtown to Lime Ridge Mall.

Sounds good...but even in Canada, the pro-growth lobby is not convinced:

John Dolbec, chief executive officer of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said its officials hadn't had a chance to study the report, but "we regard the whole peak oil thing as a red herring brought forward by people who are against airport development."

He challenged the notion that skyrocketing fuel prices create unprecedented challenges and said: "In the mid-19th century you could have made precisely the same arguments and predictions about another fossil fuel upon which we were apparently so dependent. In fact, many did, although they did not actually use the term 'peak coal,' the arguments of the period were strikingly similar, as I recall."

That Dolbec guy sounds like a piece of work.  The Hamilton group has a great named website with some very good essays


Is that what Raise the Hammer is?  I've been posting peak oil and sustainable development articles from their Web site at PeakOil.com for awhile now, but I could never figure out what kind of organization they were.  I thought maybe some kind of communist or socialist political group, with that name.
I'm from Southern Ontario and have often heard the town of Hamilton called "Hammer-town" or "the Hammer". Not sure why. Probably due to the city's roots in heavy industry (steel).

As I mentioned over here, the city is taking part in the regional carpooling initiative at http://www.carpoolzone.smartcommute.ca

"I thought maybe some kind of communist or socialist political group, with that name."

Far from it, though we do get that a lot. We're a loose collective of citizens who want to encourage sustainable urban revitalization in our old rust-bucket of a steeltown. The name, which makes more sense locally, is a reference to both the city's name (Hamilton) and its industrial history.

Our regular contributors run the gamut from left-libertarian to conservative and everything in between. We just try to set ideology aside and assess what makes sense based on the best evidence.

Thanks for the explanation.  To tell you the truth, I've never heard of Hamilton before.  "The Hammer" to me is our favorite crooked Congressman, Tom DeLay.  (As in, "Throw 'The Hammer' in the Slammer." ;-)

I do like your articles.  

I've been debating John Dolbec via email this week over this very issue. So far, he has referred to peak oil as a "phantom menace", called me an "alarmist", and argued that even if peak oil is real - which he strongly doubts - "I have every confidence that market forces will be the necessary impetuses to create the needed replacement technologies - they always have."

I tried to explain that technology is not a source of energy but a means of harnessing energy, and listed just a few of the non-crackpots that are taking peak oil seriously - investment house CIBC World Markets, Leeb Capital Managemnt, Goldman-Sachs Global Investment Research, the Bank of Montreal, Simmons & Co. Intl., oil investor T. Boone Pickens, Jones Heward Investments Inc., Groppe, Long & Littell, and US Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland), to name just a few.

I'll be posting an article on Raise the Hammer shortly that addresses this in more detail.

But I guess Panama isn't debating Peak Oil... seeing as they are planning a $5.3 billion widening of the canal to handle the "surging exports from China".


Just wanted to include Bush's quote as seen at the BBC this morning

In an effort to get more crude oil and petrol onto the market, Mr Bush said the US would not top up the strategic petroleum reserve over the summer.

"By deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps," he said.

So what happens if a Hurricane hits in, say late-August and there is no SPR to draw on?

The SPR is almost full (at least to the old level).  

However, Bush does seem to be assuming there will be no disruptions like Katrina and Rita this year.  But then, he doesn't believe in global warming...

This is what's totally unbelievable. Can't you anticipate the public uproar if we do have another Katrina this year? It's like bird flu--in some cases, people are starting to understand how important preparation for emergencies is, even though it doesn't provide instant gratification. Another hurricane before the November elections (and aren't they predicting a record number again this year?) will destroy any shred that the party in power currently has left. (Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but if I were them, I'd still be worried about it.
Well, there's probably enough in the SPR for a Katrina or two.  But we can't keep borrowing without repaying, or the SPR will end up empty.  And we'll be refilling it with very expensive oil indeed.

What am I saying?  This is Bush, the borrow and spend president.  He thinks we can reduce the deficit by cutting taxes.  No doubt he also thinks we can increase the SPR by cutting deposits to it...

quick link to SPR inventory numbers

Note: 2/3 is heavy sour.

That page says 2/3 is sour.  It doesn't say whether it's heavy or light.  Geez, you had me going there for a second.

Perhaps this link will help.

Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Crude Oil Assays

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) contains a number of domestic and foreign crude oils.  For the most part, these are of medium gravity (30 to 40° API) and contain less than 2.0 mass percent total sulfur.  These crude oils are not segregated in storage but are commingled according to their sulfur content into two categories - one sweet and the other sour.  For the purposes of the SPR, sweet crude oils are defined as containing a maximum of 0.50 mass percent total sulfur, while sour crude oils can contain up to a maximum of 1.99 mass percent total sulfur.  Only similar quality crude oils are commingled in storage, with no mixing of sweet and sour streams being practiced.

The crude oil inventory comprising each of the eight SPR streams is stored in from two to 13 caverns, depending on the site.  The attached assays for these eight streams is a volumetric average of the assays for the individual caverns comprising each stream.

I need to amend my statement to "2/3 sour.  I don't know if it's light, heavy, or in between."

Note: the assays (3 of the 4 sour ones I checked) date to 2000 and 2001.  I don't know if the SPR mix has changed as a result of the exchanges done after 9/11 and KatRita.
Sour is worse than heavy.  AFAIK, you can run most refineries on heavy.  Your recoveries will just suck.  Not so with sour.
So a couple of quick calculations based on the numbers at this link. For the months of Feb, Mar, Apr, and May there are an average of 1.725 million bbl per month going into the SRP.  This equals about 57,500 bbl per day, or approximately 0.27% of the USA's daily consumption, or about .068% of the world's daily consumption.  These are rough numbers, feel free to correct my math.

The point is, I don't think keeping 57,500 barrels per day on the market is likely to make a huge impact on our gas prices.

Sorry, meant SPR of course.  And I was referring to this link provided by Ben above:


Does this mean he's not planning to bomb Iran?  Or that he's confident he can do so in a way that won't cause the Iranians to disrupt oil supplies?
The right brain doesn't know what the left brain is doing.
Yes.  He calls it "Turd Blossom."
Maybe it just means politics trumps everything.
Amazingly stupid, shortsighted move & a desperate attempt to appease voters.

Tensions escalating in Iran, no progress in Iraq or Nigeria, threats of disruption in Venezuala and a little oil offline in Chad. But no need to maybe increase the strategic petroleum reserve in response to increased strategic threats to petroleum supplies?

We'll just end up lowering the price so the Chinese will get a slight subsidy in filling their SPR.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada dispatched his own letter, calling for a multi-pronged approach to restrain gas prices. Among the steps were swift enactment of anti-price gouging legislation, an appeal to oil companies to refrain from further price increases; use of more alternative fuels and increased attention to existing fuel-saving laws and regulations.

I find it rather amusing that Reid resorts to begging the oil companies to not raise prices. What does he want them to do, go bankrupt so he can get re-elected? Probably. Stupidity abounds in Washington, DC.

Actually, I just received this week's Newsweek magazine and the big news of the day may be the mention of theoildrum.com in the BlogWatch section (page 16). Great to see the heightened awareness; I just hope the quality of the postings here stays at its current high level.
Really?  What does it say about TOD?
"Every time Blog Watch plans a road trip, prices at the pump go skyhigh. The wonks at theoildrum.com debate the whys and wherefores."
Thanks!  How cool.  :-D
One of the cable news channels just showed a guy on an 87 mpg motorized bicycle.  It has begun.
The local Harley place has had a banner claiming 50 mpg for the last year (since KatRita hit).  It seems we'd see a lot more motorcycles on the roads before we see lots more bicycles, except you need a license to ride a motorcycle.
Old saying: "I'd rather push my Harley than ride a rice-burner."  I'd rather push my pedals than spend several grand on a hog.
Is demand destructing?  In the U.S., signs are mixed.

Even in LA, some people are being driven to mass transit

As gasoline prices soar past the $3-a-gallon mark in many parts of the country, people have started having second thoughts about the way they commute.

In Salt Lake City, ridership on the city's light rail is up 50 percent over last year.

"I ride it 'cause gas costs too much, it's ridiculous," says one commuter.

On the other hand...

Hybrid sales mostly slack despite gas spike

Worse, just as many people are buying gas-guzzling V-8 engines as ever: Big engines stay popular despite gas spike.

High prices are destroying the budgets of highway departments, though:

Asphalt cost increase hits road projects

Record-high oil prices are turning out to be bad news not only for drivers, but also for the roads they drive on.

Transportation agencies nationwide are seeing sharp increases in the cost of road building because soaring oil prices are driving up the cost of oil-based asphalt, as well as the cost of fuel used by trucks and road-building equipment.

News from a Wisconsin auto plant that full-size SUV production has plant going overtime:

"The meeting was held as the factory reaps the rewards of strong demand for the new full-size sport utility vehicles assembled in Janesville. The plant began its first two overtime shifts on Friday, and those overtime shifts are expected to continue "for the foreseeable future," said plant manager Gary Malkus."


It was about a month ago that the prices started to climb again.

The thing that was interesting about the 'poor' hybrid sales is that they are essentially saying that people aren't much interested in an SUV with hybrid technology.  People who want good fuel economy will get a Prius.  People who don't care will just buy another bloatmobile from GM.

I think a lot of people are still expecting the price of gas to go down.  This is a temporary spike, to their way of thinking.  There won't be significant change until they believe that the high prices are permanent.

I've been thinking about taking photos of my office parking lot every week.  Get an idea of what cars people are using, and see how it changes over time.

Bingo.  People have been trained by history to expect that a price rise is a spike and not a (pardon the cliche) paradigm shift.  That belief will only abate slowly, when we have "high" prices for a prolonged period, say, over six to twelve months, with no sign of them coming down.

We're already seeing some shift away from gas guzzlers (as in plummeting SUV sales), but once the "cheap gasoline is gone forever" meme makes it into the conventional wisdom we'll see a pretty strong move toward smaller, more efficient cars (Fit, Yaris, Scions, etc.) and hybrids.

People will be quite angry when they start to realize that the wait-it-out approach isn't working.
The Bush non-plan of not continuing to fill the SPR until fall ensures that prices will stay high after the summer driving season. Obviously, Bush is not intending to extend the summer price until NEXT summer, but Peak Oil will set up just that situation. That means sustained high gas prices, so maybe Americans will get the hint. The unintended consequence of the Bush non-plan is that $3/gal is the new price floor.
I think the SPR is a non-issue.  

  1. we haven't been putting much in there anyway (4 million barrels in three months, per their inventory report)
  2. there is a lot already there and we can only draw it out so fast
  3. numerous reports say that it is the refiners that are the bottleneck - not putting crude into the SPR when available inventories are already high doesn't change the amount of fuel available at the pump.

Woohoo! 2 million barrels a month compared to consumption of 20 million barrels per day!

But you know what?  Around the water cooler the talk will be that "the government finally tapped the Strategic Reserve.  Hope gas prices go down before we drive to Disneyland!"

Hybrid SUV's get better gas mileage in the city than on the highway.

Where I live it's almost all highway driving.  Many people who buy trucks are using them for hauling things (livestock trailers, etc) on the highway.  

A hybrid drive is of limited usefulness, in their eyes.

And just as a sidenote, the current wait for a new Prius in the Midwest is 12 months with a $250 refundable deposit.  

New Toyota Highlander hybrids are availabe immediately.

V-8 gas-guzzlers are still selling because people think these price spikes are temporary and/or due to "price-gouging", not the fundamentals of supply and demand.  Only sustained higher and increasing prices will rein in the new-car "power war".

As for the hybrids, there are several problems.  Honda made a poor choice in coupling a V-6 with the batteries in that the Accord has always been a sensible shoes kind of car.  Using a I-4 would have made more sense.  Ford made a better choice of powertrains, but did it in the wrong vehicle.  The Lexus and the Toyota Highlander are also the wrong vehicle for the system, but "over a month" still isn't too shabby for time on a dealer lot.

Ford should have gone with a hybrid in the Focus wagon, though a nice 1.6L direct-injection turbo-diesel would make even more sense in that model.  I've been pestering their online customer service center for information on when they might have a diesel for the Focus but all I get are scripted answers about how options change from time-to-time.  Blah.

I've got an Escort wagoon - we would rather have had a Suzuki Esteem wagon - better milage, smaller engine.
I've not had much luck finding ways to offer feedback to the auto mfgs.  I miss my '91 Chevy Sprint and it's < 4.5L/100km
in the summer.   I'd rather see the Escort wagoon with a 50hp electric engine and 5 to 10hp gasoline engine - just enough power to keep the batteries charged on highway cruising.  Tune the IC engine to work at full throttle maximizing efficiency and emissions like a fuelathon car.

Either way a 1.6 engine takes us back about 15 years to when the Escort had a smaller engine and was a smaller car.  However, those sorts of changes are not going to give us much improved milage or emissions reduction.

As I keep railing about my old Sprint - insurance cost much more than gasoline.  Maintaince cost more than gasoline.  The amortized purchase price cost much more than gasoline.
Fuel efficient cars don't really start to pay for themselves until we see a sustained doubling or trippling or fuel prices.

Consider my home - $2500 /year in taxes and $500 a year to heat (low eff gas furnace).  Or the case of our Escort wagoon for which insurance OR maintaince exceed fuel costs per year.  If I start to see fuel prices double I'll blink.
Frankly though - there isn't any option.
The high-power, expensive, road rocket hybrid cars are a joke.  Show me a hybid with a sub 10hp IC engine and I know that people are getting serious.

Remember when a VW bug with 35hp was good enough?

A petrol 1.6L wouldn't make much of a difference in terms of gas mileage, but a diesel would.  In the UK, the 1.6L 109PS TCDI engine with a particulate filter in the "Estate" (silly Brits) is good for 45/70 mpg according to ford.co.uk.
I love this bit (from the "V-8 engines stay popular" link) emphasis added:

"So far, the perceived gas price increases have not had any discernible impact on new-vehicle buying patterns, at least with regard to the size of the engine," said Tom Libby, an industry analyst at the Power Information Network.

Despite fears of a consumer backlash against SUVs in the face of higher oil prices, few analysts expect U.S. drivers will defect in large numbers to smaller cars featuring four- cylinder engines this year.

Perceived?  So, gas prices really haven't gone up 40+ cents per gallon in the last month?

The article didn't give engine displacement percentages which is more important than the number of cylinders. An 8 liter Cummins 6 banger will go through btus faster than a 4.6 liter V-8. Most V-8s these days are smaller than in the 70s even though vehicle weight hasn't changed much.
IMO, the only real policy change that will make a difference is a retail energy tax  combined with the elimination of the Payroll Tax, in tandem with Alanfrombigeasy's electrification of transportation proposal:  


IMHO, the US isn't serious about the oil situation until the 55 MPH speed limit is trotted back out.

It worked before, people remember it and so there will not be any big hue and cry, and state/local governments drag down big bucks in fines during the initial "getting used to" period.

Everything else is just noise - when they finally slow EVERYONE down and FORCE conservation, they have acknowledged there is a problem.

Until then,

Happy Motoring!!

That is the one thing I absolutely do not want to see - lower speed limits. Let the free-market work it out. When gas is $7+/gal, people will slow down and/or buy smaller cars. As for me, I ride a motorcycle. At 55, I'm still in 3rd gear. It's absolutely unfair to hinder those of us who already get great mileage.
I agree.  Even people who supposedly believe in peak oil resist the 55 mph speed limit, which means it's not crunch time yet.  

55 mph is a relatively benign way to increase efficiency.  People are used to it; on many roads, 55 is still the law.  It does save gas.  And it improves safety.  

I often end up driving faster than I want to, just to keep up with traffic.  It's not safe to drive significantly slower than everyone else.  

As I've said before, I do not see why I should be penalized by enforcing the same speed limit on my 1.5L, when people are driving around in 5000lb 300hp beasts with the aerodynamics of a barn door.  It's a choice I made back in 1999, when gas was cheap, and no one cared about mpg.  And lately, I have chosen to slow down to 65-70mph.  I'm thinking about a 250cc motorcycle now.  

I'm sorry you're not comfortable at higher speeds, but that's another issue.  IMO, a modern vehicle is quite safe at 75.  

What I really want to know is when I'll be able to get onto the local electric light rail train at the nearest town (likely 5mi), and take it to my office in the nearby sprawl/industrial park?  Driving to work sucks.

We need to wait and see a bit before we find out if higher prices will decrease demand, and change habits.  Most people still think this is temporary, so they are not changing their habits.  Now that Bush has come to the rescue, prices will probably ease a little bit, which will confirm the "temporary" idea.  Prices will have to go up and stay up longer than they did with the hurricanes for it to get through.

It looks to me like there will be plenty of opportunities for that in 2006.

It's not that I'm uncomfortable at higher speeds.  It's that I want to save gas, even in my tiny Corolla, and that means driving 55.  

But it's not safe to do so on many highways around here.  

Too great of a difference in speed between vehicles on the same road is dangerous.  Fuel-efficient vehicles have to go roughly the same speed as everyone else.

Besides, no matter how fuel efficient a vehicle is, it is going to get the best mileage between 45 and 55 MPH.  That's just the way wind resistance works.

The Cd and the frontal area of my Accent are significantly different that of say, an Escalade.  I will reach the point where the exponential increase of drag vs. speed gets overwhelming at a higher speed.  Your statement is equivalent to saying the terminal velocity of every shape is the same.  

Simply slowing everyone down will REDUCE incentive to change to smaller, more efficient vehicles!  When I slow from 75 to 55, I save much less fuel than when an Escalade slows from 75 to 55. Therefore, after the slow down there is LESS of a cost delta beween operating the two vehicles, and it's not just a linear decrease.

Enforcing lane discipline and having a multi-teared speed limit (i.e. vehicles over a certain size in the right lanes only) will provide more incentive to change.  


I should be allowed to drive faster because ...

In a few years:

I should be allowed more coal because ...

In a few decades:

I should be allowed more food because ...

This proves my point, as far as I'm concerned.  Even people who understand the problem we are facing aren't willing to inconvenience themselves when it comes to doing something about it.  Give up their cars?  Hah!  They won't even slow down.
I think you've got it backwards!


I should be allowed to drive a gas pig because...

In a few decades:

I should be allowed your food because I didn't plan...

Somehow we seem to be justifying the wasteful misuse of fuel, and punishing the frugal.

Your statement is equivalent to saying the terminal velocity of every shape is the same.  

No, it isn't.  He said 45 to 55.  45 is for big, boxy vehicles like trucks and SUVs.  55 is for more streamlined shapes.  

I rather like the idea of putting a 45 mph speed limit on trucks and SUVs, and 55 on cars.  Dunno if it's politically possible, though.


WInd resistance.

Also there is resistance to change. As I read all the posts about how to keep the automobile culture going for as long as possible, I realize we will not change at a pace fast enough to prevent extreme problems.

How many barrels of oil does it take to make the average car? 70.

How many vehicles must we replace? 800 million? 70 times 800 million equals?
56,000,000,000 barrels of oil. Fifty-six billion. That is two thirds of a year's oil use. Where exactly will we take that oil from? Who will suffer so we can all drive high technology cars to continue a doomed paradigm? We replace cars every what -- twelve years? This mathematical exercise is rapidly becoming depressing.

Perhaps we should spend that prehistoric concentrated sunlight on developing a sustainable model.

Just a thought.

OK, you're right, I'll quit my job.

While I despise my present job, it provides the highest salary I ever expect to make.  I don't think it will last long, regardless of what happens to our economy.  I need to hang on to that salary as long as I can while I prepare for what I expect is coming as best I can.  I need a car to get there, and it will be the 1500cc car I've been driving for 7 years.  The other vehicles I own are 16 and 18 years old, as I can fix anything I wish to (being the techie I am).

After that job, I do not know what will come next - I hope it will be in alternative energy solutions, but I would not be surprised if it is produce farming and odd jobs.

I'm not the only on stuck in this situation - the solutions involve such things as electric light rail, etc, but I cannot effect such things on my own.

I agree we will not change at a pace fast enough to prevent problems - we'll find out how extreme.  And I believe that is because it will simply take a long time to transition, and we started too late (well ok, we haven't started yet).

The most effective and simpliest way to save gas through speed limits is to build a 55 mph limit into the Electronic Control Module (ECM).  Costs nothing, no selective enforcemnt by the cops, and saves gas.

If the feds are serious about conservation, it's the obvious solution.  But they're not.  Its all PR.

so i want to pass the guy in front of who's going 50 and all i can muster is 55 yikes
If you are on the interstate, get out in the left lane!  Otherwise, he's doing 90% of the national speed limit on a 2 lane road, what the hell are you complaining about.
let me explain
I live in a secluded area in the high Sierra with windy mountain roads. when the major pass over doner summit is closed due to snow (any time from oct. to june) all the big rigs come thru our area. also when this summer driving thing happens here in a month or two it seems that all of central and so. cal end up here, on roads that are hard for most drivers. it's really very common to get behind a driver who can only manage 45 mph thru parts of the drive that I; and most others, travel at 60 mph and then when we get to one of the few places to pass they speed up to 65. that's a bummer. I've experienced this in many other areas as well.I know it's a stretch for folks who only/mostly drive in the city but it's to much to ask for seventy people to wait behind grandma and grandpa who don't use the turn outs
but I guess my point is it's safer to have power to pass
My outrage is in jest.  But what I'm getting at is that if we are serious about using energy more efficiently we will have to accept that it requires changes in our driving habits.  Along with that will be adjustments in driving etiquette and a different perspective on what a car does for us.

A few simple changes could save a huge amount of gas.  A 55mph built in speed limiter.  A gas guzzler tax for any engine over 2 liters.  They may seem unreasonable, but people would adjust quickly, and it could make a big difference.

How about a speed limiter that lets you accumulate "speeding time" a few minutes per week?  If you are frugal you can save up and have a blast once a month ;-)
Excellent idea--especially since it can be implemented at the state level.  Some of the more sane state governments can lead the way.  As I recall, the reversion from 55 to 65 was prompted by the western states where it's more of an issue, with the longer distances and anti-guvmint feelings out West.  After all, a 55 mph limit in Pennsylvania makes more of a difference in overall consumption than in Wyoming.
In a recent polling, most Americans (78%) admitted to routinely ignoring the posted speed limit on US highways and Interstates, and nearly 2/3rds admitted to exceeding the limit by 10mph or more.  
Changing the posted speed limits will do little.
Sure it will.  People go X mph higher than the speed limit.  For some, it's 5 mph, for some it's 10 or 20.  But the signs do have an effect.

So if the speed limit is 75, some will be going 95.  Those people will be going 75 if the speed limit is 55.  So it does help.

Especially if enforced.

I have to laugh - does anyone remember the signs that used to be posted at the borders of Pennsylvania, where they displayed a "menu" of the fines for various speeds over the limit?

Hmmm, let's see, today I can aford to go 75...

This is true. But what if the police actually enforced the speed limit as it is posted?

On highways with a posted speed of 65, everyone is driving 70-85mph and you have to be going a minimum of 85(or be extremely unlucky) to get ticketed.

If the police initiated a massive crackdown to set an example at 65 mph, they would raise countless millions in revenue, improve safety, and save gas too.

I don't think there are enough police to do it.  Yet.
Photo-radar.  It works.  People hate it.
You bet it works.  When they put it on the 401 between Montreal and Toronto, average speeds dropped about 20 kph.  You could tell the week they took it off - the speeds bopped right back up.  People screamed "cash grab", but I saw it work.  It was lovely.
It's easy. Just need speed cameras. No human intervention required. They really work, and change drivers' behaviour durably.
I've seen these from china to the checz republic. every one knows what they are and where they are. they just slow down when they come to them abd speed up when past. not efective at all
Ours were in moveable vehicles.  You never knew where they were.  They worked fine.
got ya. that works
Lots of people moving along a transportation corridor, all at the same speed - this is starting to sound familiar - can't quite put my finger on it....

I would so much rather be on a train.

Many state courts (such as the State Supreme Court of Alaska) have deemed these photo camera tickets to be unconstitutional, for a variety of reasons, including violation of the 6th Amendment's Right to Due Process (you are guilty unless proven innocent, cannot face or question accuser in court, etc).

From "Review and Analysis of Posted Speed Limits and Speed Limit Setting Practices in British Columbia":

"Some notable findings:

* Based on years of experience and observation, the following fundamental concepts have been used to establish realistic speed zones.
o The majority of motorists drive at a speed they consider reasonable, and safe for road, traffic, and environmental conditions. Posted limits which are set higher or lower than dictated by roadway and traffic conditions are ignored by the majority of motorists. The normally careful and competent actions of a reasonable person should be considered legal.
o A speed limit should be set so that the majority of motorists observe it voluntarily and enforcement can be directed to the minority of offenders.
o A driver's choice of speed can impose risks on other road users. Crash severity increases with increasing speeds because in a collision, the amount of kinetic energy dissipated is proportional to the square of the velocity. Crashes, however, appear to depend less on speed and more on the variation in speeds. The likelihood of a crash occurring is significantly greater for motorists traveling at speed slower and faster than the mean speed of traffic.
o Maximum speed limits are set for ideal road, traffic, and environmental conditions.

  • The maximum limit should seem high to the majority of drivers, or it is not a maximum limit.
  • One of the most important objectives in posting a speed limit is to inform the driver of a reasonable and prudent speed for the best conditions.
  • The normally careful and competent actions of a reasonable person should be considered legal.
Some recent info about the SPR

(as interpreted and presented by the MSM, as usual)

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directs the Secretary of Energy to fill the SPR to its authorized 1 billion barrel capacity, "without incurring excessive cost or appreciably affecting the price of petroleum products to consumers," according to the Energy Department.

The emergency oil reserve currently holds 687.3 million barrels and its capacity stands at 727 million.

"We need to find a place to put it," Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the Energy Department told MarketWatch, noting that the government will first have to locate a place to store the extra oil and it'll need environmental impact surveys.

It will "take several months," he said, referring to the process required before the government can even start adding oil.

related press release about acquisition procedures

Hello TOD-threaders,
There are some who argue that the United States is  on the verge of morphing into a full-blown dictatorship, police-state, and surveillance-state.  For example, see the following URL:


Here is a summary of some of the key claims:

  1. Private companies are surreptitiously providing personal data to law enforcement and government on an increasingly widespread scale.
  2. Steps currently being taken towards nationalizing drivers licenses are really a surreptitious way of introducing a national ID card.
  3. Most recent cell phones already contain GPS chips enabling owners' locations to be tracked even when they are off.
  4. Using technology such as the VeriChip system, it is already possible to inject electronic GPS tracking devices into the human body, and this is in fact already being done in certain situations.
  5. There are concrete indications that seemingly innocuous Neighborhood Watch programs are slowly being transformed into organizations geared toward the systematic spying of citizen informers on their fellow citizens.

Your thoughts on the evidence and arguments presented in the essay I have linked would be greatly appreciated.
This has little direct linkage to Peak Oil.  There are better sites to discuss these kinds of issues.  Leave this one for the directly related Peak Oil research and discussion.
I must respectfully disagree with this assessment.  One of the outcomes that many expect as a result of Peak Oil is a severe economic depression, and widespread societal chaos and confusion.  The piece I have submitted makes specific claims about how governnental agencies in the U.S are currently preparing to control the populace under those conditions.
OK then. It's run-of-the-mill conspiracy theory crap from a dubious source. Evidence? Please.
Have you read the article?  It provides more specific details than I did in my summary, and cites sources - Nat Hentoff and the ACLU, for example, as well as other specific individuals and organizations.  (Admittedly, though, it could have cited these sources with more care and rigor, but it would probably be easy to track down most if not all the empirical evidence they base their argument on with a quick google search.)

I admit that whether the overall conclusion they are trying to draw (namely, that the United States is tending inexorably to become a full-blown fascist state) is warranted based on the evidence given is open to question.  But that's exactly why I posted the article on TOD in the hopes of getting some useful feedback.  I would say, though, that dismissing their conclusion on the grounds that it is a baseless conspiracy theory is also a case of the ad hominem fallacy, and does not do justice to the force of their evidence.

I repeat: Given that economic depression and societal chaos are reasonable things to suppose might happen in the wake of Peak Oil, essays such as the one I have posted merit thoughtful consideration, in my opinion.

Yes, I read it. It's funny actually. If something like this appeared in the New Yorker or the Atlantic I might actually give it some thought. But it is just some conspiracy theory poorly layed out like one of those get-rich-quick schemes, with all the bold and capitals.

The things that this "article" says are happening are actually happening. However, they are not happening for the reasons the author suggests, nor are they all being directed as part of some centralized conspiracy by a "National Police State" shadow government.

The author only made his case that much harder to make by including all that nonsense about God and churches. What does all that have to do with anything? "Israel of the New World." C'mon.

Thanks for taking the trouble to read it.  Yes, the religious bent of the article is a distraction for many non-religious readers here on TOD, and perhaps I ought to have alerted people to it to begin with.

But to get to the heart of the issue:  You voice the view that the facts adduced which lead the article writer to the conclusion of a developing fascism here in the United States are in fact indicative of something entirely different.  I would be grateful if you would elaborate on this - at length, if you are so inclined.

(Remember, I posted the article to get feedback on it - preferably of as detailed and substantive a sort as possible.)

I will, nut later on tonight maybe. The feedback you are asking for takes some time. But I can respond to the main points the article makes in more detail.
+10^100 for the fine, fine, Freudian slip my friend! Good one!
I swear it wasn't, just a finger slip, look at your keyboard, for chrissakes :-)
I don't know whether you and fleam intended to be unkind or not (I am willing to give you both the benefit of a doubt), but, if so, it is no substitute for argumentation.  

Moreover, if you were intending to be unkind, I don't see any reason whatsoever why there is a need for it.  That's schoolyard playground stuff - if that's what you meant.  I post things on this forum with the assumption that we are all mature adults here.

However, perhaps you did not intend to be unkind - in which case I am still hoping that the ideas in the article themselves receive a serious hearing in this forum.

I meant no unkindness and I will respond to the article later. I'll attempt to speak for fleam as well, although I don't know him. He probably has a decent sense of humour and was quick to capitalize on my typing error. I doubt he intended any unkindness. The article in question might be viewed by some as somewhat "nutty" in terms of its presentation and conclusions, thus providing fertile ground for his remark. I layed out that opinion in my original comment on the piece. I don't think fleam's comment had anything to do with you.
Thanks, Oil CEO.  I honestly look forward to your thoughts.

I was really hoping for a wider response, but I may have picked the wrong day to post this, due to all the excitement about Bush, gas prices, etc.  My own personal concerns about the potential for fascism in the event of a Peak Oil-related socio-economic implosion and/or further Peak Oil-related military adventures are quite real.  But perhaps that's merely an exaggerated fear due to my political orientation.

Honestly, it's probably not good practice to look forward to my thoughts. You might not like them. I mean. I hope you do. But there's no guarantees.

Just not a big believer in fascism in the US. Others disagree. I've written on the subject before so I'd rather look at it from the privacy and conspiracy angles.

I don't know if there are or are not reasons for one to be extremely fearful in this day and age anymore so than at any other time. But if there are. I tend to think that we might either be looking in the wrong places or will just never see it coming anyway.

(to be continued)

I've been noticing your post as of late and think I should direct your atten. here
I've listened to all these shows, it seems not all is as it seems.
healthy skepticism advised
Oil Ceo,

What if I told you I think Dick Cheney himself is sitting outside my apartment this very moment waiting for me to come out so he can personally snuff me out, stuff me, and then mount me on his wall? He does that to attorneys you know!!! I'll post some pictures to prove it but the NSA has tapped my scanner and rendered it inoperable. Either that or I forgot to plug it in (again).

The fact that I'm a paranoid nut who spends way to much time on hopped up on caffeine pill persuing the messages boards at abovetopsecret.com and conspiracy.com, however, doesn't mean D.C. and others are up to no good, if you know what I mean.



Did you know when Dick Cheney told the first Secret Service agent on the scene to notify the person in charge that a man had been shot, the agent said, "Sir, a man's been shot."

Just remember, there's no such thing as an innocent bystander - after all, what was he doing there in the first place?

William S. Burroughs I mean
Margaret Thatcher

Totally over my head.



'Language is a virus' - this later became 'memes'  
You know what Ariel Sharon calls them?  (Or used to anyways)

Pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders.

Sounds like you quit taking you Serequel.
That is an ad hominem attack which has no logical relevance to the evidence and arguments presented.
Hi PhilRelig

Since you are actively looking for replies, I thought I would toss in my two cents. First may I ask why you are so eagerly looking for feedback?

As for the link. I agree with a lot of the individual points (GPS,spying, etc). And while I am quite cynical at times, even I am having trouble buying off that these are all signs of an orchastrated effort by someone. Of course my objection may just be because of the article itself, it's poorly presented and comes off as a fringe 'conspiracy site'.

While I believe in the bible and I personally think we are in the end time( Peak Oil a major cause of Armageddon) the inference that the US is found in Revelation is hard for me to accept. The whole leaving the US because of a verse in Revelation helps to discredit the article.

Just a few thoughts from someone who is tired. Hope that helps.

Thanks for your thoughts.  I'm a Christian too, and there is a theological/prophetic argument that can be made for the potential for fascism to erupt here in the U.S., but that's not what I was after.  What I was after in my inquiries about this article was the question whether the development in recent years of new surveillance technologies, new aspects of the U.S. legal framework, etc., that the article discusses should be cause for concern on the grounds that it COULD constitute the basis of an infrastructure for fascism - quite apart from any religious or theological considerations.

I am very concerned about the potential for fascism, due to

  1. The potential I see for the socio-economic chaos that Peak Oil could unleash;
  2. The willingness I perceive (incorrectly?) among the U.S. ruling elite to ruthlessly implement fascism under such circumstances to maintain their own security and privilege;
  3. The desire among the confused and insecure masses in such a situation to have a strong leader take control of the situation to save them, making them willing accomplices to their own fascist enslavement.

The religious bent and emotionally unrestrained style of the article are unfortunate distractions as far as my purpose in posting it is concerned.  As I say, I ought to probably have issued warnings about this ahead of time.  All I really wanted to ask other TOD-threaders about was whether my concerns about 1, 2, and 3 above receive any significant empirical foundation based upon those parts of the article that discuss things which could be used as an infrastructure for fascism.

With this in mind, you are quite right that the article fails to present evidence of any overarching conspiracy.  This is simply assumed, based on their political leanings, and their interpretation of prophecy, and would require further justification.

I'm a little surprised you would give a group such as this much thought.  I'm surprised I gave them any thought.  Do you have personal ties to them?  What research have you done to give them such credence?

Begining and ending with a quote plucked out of context from Revelations already identifies them as a fringe apocalyptic whackos.  Hope it's not your pastor.

As for the drivers license, does any other country have 50 different licensing agencies and databases for drivers?  Does that even make sense?  Except for complicating my desire to conceal my DUI record and hindering my trade in doctored vehicle titles, in what way does increasing transparency between states constitute a conspiracy?  

Thanks for the tip about the cell phones, didn't know they could be used that way.  Quick Google link shows article from NY Times, reporting that judges insist gov must show same level of proof to obtain phone location warrant as for wiretap, not watered down Patriot Act level.  There is no government right to use this technology against people's wills without warrants.  The existence of a technology, and the natural desire of both criminals and law enforcement to use technology to their advantage does not equate to nefarious intent.  

I think the silly Bluetooth things people wear on their ears make them look like Borgs, but I'm not completely convinced of a Borg conspiracy at work.  Yet.

What your article (and all such articles I've seen) is missing is credible evidence, not opinion, of deliberate intent within government to become a police state.  That people have opinions, and that they can quote people who have opinions, is not the same as evidence.  That's group think.  What we can say is our intense desire to prevent another 9/11 may weaken our vigilance against government encroachment, which is a problem for all free societies at all times.  The executive branch may have assumed privileges we did not intend to confer to achieve what they see as our pressing national objectives.  It is our responsibility to correct them when they go too far.

It is always the intent of gov to do their job more efficiently and easily.  It is our job to point out to them when they are violating our rights in that effort.  Intent to do their commissioned job of chasing down criminals does not equate to intent to become fascist state, or dedicated intent by leader to become fascist dictator.  

We insist our government not miss any intelligence linkages that might have prevented 9/11, but we wish for them to not link any data together about us, personally.  We demand all levels of government work cooperatively to prevent terrorist activity, but we wish to personally not be included in such cooperative sharing.  

There are two offshoots to the article worth discussing, but probably not in this forum.  
1)    Why are we not opposing with more vigour policy decisions which weaken our freedoms?  
2)    Why do we not more critically challenge the place or value of technical change and complexity in our lives and society?  

In both cases, the question is why do WE not take responsibility for OUR lives, community and country.

Possibly we will slide into a police state, but it will be because we didn't oppose the small erosions that seemed expedient to an worthwhile goal, as opposed to a elaborately thought out and executed grand plan.  

While I work for AT&T, I do not carry a cell phone.  It does not enrich my life.  My choice.  Come to think of it, participating in this forum probably isn't enriching me much either.  Except the tip to short gold before Christmas.

Thanks for reading the article closely, as you obviously have, and for the thoughtful feedback.  I could go on for volumes in reply to the points you have made, but I will refrain from doing so - both because this is essentially a "dead thread," and because I think I am better off taking things in than dishing them out with regard to this particular issue at this juncture.

Still, I cannot refrain from making a couple of very general sorts of observations:

  1. The writer of the article may be an "apocalyptic wingnut" from the perspective of many secular posters on TOD, but I do know him personally, and I think it is safe to say that he has thought through things far more carefully than most adherents of the non-Peak-oil "conventional wisdom."  Even if there may be significant non-sequiturs associated with the formation of his perspective, I think the mere fact of being thoughtful and attentive to the world is worth something - certainly, it is worth more than the thoughtless "conventional wisdom" that almost all of us seek refuge from on this site.

  2. Your point about the author's conclusion being based on the hypothetical, and evidentially unsupported, introduction of at least a semi-systematic conspiracy to enact fascism is well-taken.  However, I think that it is at least equally speculative and unfounded to suppose that The Powers That Be are being completely forthright, honest, and selfless when they claim - as they incessantly do - that all the measures discussed in the article are EXCLUSIVELY for the protection of the broader public in the War Against Terrorism.  (The claim that protection of the public is the EXCLUSIVE aim of these measures is implicit in the vehement denials of charges of power-mongering that The Powers That Be trot out whenever they are challenged on these potentially freedom-infringing types of moves by secular civil liberties groups.)  Can skeptics of the claims advanced in the article really offer any more solid proof for these sorts of contentions that government officials are completely trustworthy and benign in their motivations than the evidence offered in the article for the complete opposite point of view?
Dead Threads are often the best place to continue conversations here. People inevitably migrate closer to the present, however the older threads offer some peace and quiet.

Two questions. Have you ever read the book 1984 or seen the movie THX 1138?

I am of course familiar with some of the main themes from 1984, but I must admit that I have never read it.  Nor have I seen the movie you mention.  But I will say that, insofar as I am familiar with the contents of 1984, and with George Orwell's thought more generally, it tends to corroborate the concerns I have been expressing on this subthread about the situation here in the U.S.  Don't you think?
THX 1138, great SF movie starring Robert Duvall as an everyman trapped in a dehumanizing future society.


1984 & Animal Farm start to merge together along with a 4th grade series about a pig detective whose life is changed when he finds bacon in the farmer's icebox. I think we have allowed some deplorable policy decisions to go largely unchallenged, most seriously the suspension of habeus corpus. I just disagree that it is a planned conspiracy as opposed to a short-sighted attempt to do the right thing through questionable means. I also think we too easily dismiss the extent to which 9/11 was likely a permanent, life altering event for this president.
Kind of stupid. They haven't been refilling the SPR since the hurricanes anyway. Only added back about 2 million barrels since its low after Katrina. Still down alomst 15 million barrels from its high.
A 15 million barrel decrease from a 700 million barrel peak is a drop in the bucket. It's not like we're running dangerously low in the SPR.
I agree, my point was just that he's saying he's doing something by suspending additions to the SPR when in essence additions have never really restarted anyway - it's an empty statement designed to look like an action.
All Exxon Mobil Nigeria personnel told to stay home

All personnel except for security at ExxonMobil Corp.'s (XOM) Nigerian oil operations have been told to stay home Tuesday, staff said, following threats by ethnic militants.
Senior staff told Dow Jones Newswires all their colleagues at Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited's office in Eket and its accompanying Qua Iboe export terminal in the eastern part of the troubled Niger Delta had been told to stay at home.
One, speaking from home, said: "Just before the close of work Monday, the company issued an instruction for staff not to report to work today (Tuesday)."
Gentlemen and gentlewomen,

sorry to say it, but W's speech today have the same value that the W's speech that USA was going to Mars...


The plan continue to be Resource Wars and regime change at Iran. Don't get misleaded again. Don't continue to make fool of yourselves...

João Carlos

Sorry the bad english, my native language is portuguese.

I suspect that the NASA scientists and other space scientists involved on the non-manned side of space exploration would strongly disagree that Bush's Mars speech had no impact.

http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=pawning_nasa_s_crown_jewels&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb =1

A negative impact is even worse than "no impact", as is the case with NASA.  Empty words translate into painful budget cuts.
Is this just smoke and mirrors (again) to distract from other issues?

Senate to discuss Katrina / Iraq spending

The $106.5 billion bill has ballooned by almost $15 billion over President Bush's February request, and that figure could grow as senators of both parties press amendments to add money for border security and medical care for veterans.

Approval ratings continue freefall

Diplomacy isn't working with Iran (if you can call what we are doing "diplomacy")

Tom Cruise is so proud to be a dad he immediately leaves the country.

A third terrorist attack on Abqaiq thwarted?  Very little in the news about it, except for some Middle Eastern sites, but there's some discussion of it here:


Including a message from someone who claims to live in Saudi Arabia.

I was just down at the gym on my lunch break. While on the treadmill I was watching MTV's My Super Sweet 16 show. I was absolutely amazed at how parents would drop $50k on a daughters 16th birthday, plus a new SUV. Some points I was thinking about.

  • this was a normal couple - by that I mean he owned three car dealerships, but he wasn't some famous person. If there are willing to spend that kind of money for that kind of frivilous event, what hope is there for altruistic actions like buying a eco-friendly car and using less gas?

  • when TSHTF, how pyshcologically worse off will these people be having grown accustomed to such a life style?

  • how worse off will all the rest of America be who buys into these ideals of excess consumerism as 'normal'?

  • it seems the idea of excess consumerism is being marketed so much more to this generation. it just keeps getting worse.

Sorry, but I had to vent. I was completely disgusted by it all.
The American lifestyle is so out of sync with the rest of the world. All of this was made possible by a tremendous amount of credit. If the US Dollar was not the world's reserve currency (for how much longer?), it would have already collapsed. The last I read, we were running a $700B trade deficit and a $700B budget deficit, along with Trillions of dollars of unfunded social security, etc. This will all end when the rest of the world says "no more" to US Dollars or oil is priced in another currency.

And shawnott, I know how you feel. My parent's taught me to be frugal, but what I need, and pay cash for it. I, too, am just shocked at the lifestyles and attitudes of today's youth. It will make it that much harder for them to deal with Peak Oil. And when PO starts to get really painful, they will be adults and can vote. I highly doubt their decisions will be rational based on their upbringings.

I was looking at cars last night and was considering the Toyota Yaris hatchback. It's the cheapest, most fuel-efficient car. The reason I'm hesitant to purchase it is because it would be a "coffin-on-wheels" driving here on the L.A. freeways with the huge SUVs and trucks everywhere.
The Yaris did get 5 out of 5 stars in the EURO NCAP safety ratings

Pity we can't get the Citroën and Renaults...

I know what you mean.  It didn't used to be this way.

Yesterday, I was reading an article about how weddings have turned into "satin circuses."  Before WWII, most Americans did not have fancy weddings.  They would usually marry in their parents' parlor, with cake and punch served at a small party afterwards.  The church wedding, bridal gown, bridesmaids, fancy dinner, etc., were someone only extremely wealthy people did.  WWII wealth changed all that, along movies of the time - in particular, "Father of the Bride."  And now it's absolutely crazy.  The once-luxurious tea sandwiches that graced Elizabeth Taylor's wedding in "Father of the Bride" would be scorned by most American brides today.  

When I was a teen, prom night would set you back a few hundred bucks.  Tickets, dinner, a dress or tux, flowers.  Some of the more popular kids rented limos and hotel rooms for afterparties, but it wasn't required.  They all chipped in, so it wasn't too expensive.

Today, some parents spend thousands of dollars on their kids' proms.  Designer dresses, stretch limos, even post-prom luxury cruises.  

People today, especially young people, have insanely high expectations.  They are already suffering high rates of depression, because of the huge gap between their expectations and reality.  It's only going to get worse.

I could not afford a class ring, or a yearbook (got to sign plenty of others) and forget a prom. And this was the late 70s.

The wealth of HS kids has changed this much just since the 70s.

In fact, sad to say, I could not afford to finish HS itself! I had to work if I was going to eat, and at about 90 lbs, I realized if I didn't eat, some common disease like the flu or falling down and breaking a malnutrition-weakened leg or something could end me. Food had to come first and it was still not very plentiful even when working fulltime after paying rooming house rent etc.

And this was just the 70s, the dirty fucking 70s forget about the 30s not that many remember them now, but the 70s were bad enough. And to think we're heade for worse.

I get amazed at the insanity of the housing market. Driving around Chicago often looks more like if I was driving in a Twilight Zone. Condos going for a third of a million each for the cheap ones. Townhomes for half a million. One day seconds away from a high school I once went to, single family homes for a cool million a pop.

Watching TV in my studio apartment, I get this impression that the camera is on a rover on a planet of the rich. No wonder I prefer crime dramas or PBS documentaries. You don't see the insanity of how the "good America" is supposed to live, in those McMansions that I call sport utility homes.

I can't help but wonder how one is supposed to earn enough money to afford those homes as above. There can't be enough doctors, lawyers, mosh pit traders and celebrity newscasters. Making $45,000/year, I guess I'm supposed to be in the middle class, but reality is otherwise. The "middle class" judging by the housing market is making $145,000/year minimum. American dream? More like American nightmare.

You're supposed to be married.  $145,000 is out of most people's reach, but $72,500 each is possible.  See the The Two-Income Trap.
Even $72,500/year is hopelessly out of reach unless you have EVERYTHING going for you. Have one thing not going for you, and the jig is up. Don't forget also when a divorce goes down, the man loses everything. It borders on a miracle there aren't more ex-husband suicide gunmen. Even with my postal job, I can only make half that $72,500/year - and that's as good as it gets for a working stiff.
Don't forget also when a divorce goes down, the man loses everything.

That's how it's portrayed in popular culture these days, but that's not how it happens.  Statistically speaking, it's the woman who ends up on the losing end.

But yes, divorce is a big wealth-destroyer for both men and women.  Even more so for women.  Many end up in poverty or bankrupt.  My financial planner told me straight out that if I want to have money, I should never get divorced and have two or fewer kids.

The financial planner probably should have said to not have kids in the first place. Even with usuorious child support income, a woman has the burden of the upkeep and planning for the future of those kids. Planning a decent future (even without the oil peak) means college.

I concluded that having no kids was the best possible thing I could do for the kids - by not having them or if I REALLY wanted to add my DNA to the gene pool, make an anon sperm donation, essentially spawning like a rainbow trout. Only a well-off couple could afford the artificial insemination, ensuring a well-put-together couple to raise them.

Absolutely. Freakin. Hilarious. Cause. It's. True.

Emoticon Theater Presents "American Marriage, American Bankruptcy":




3 Years ago today.

$75 for the License, paid cash.
Mom and Bro witnessed with us and a big belly at City Hall.
  (No weapons present)
Todd shot some video, though, and Mom bought us dinner that evening..


Happy anniversary.  :)
From the Telegraph:

Eventually, however - experts disagree widely as to when, but it won't be soon - the world will run out of oil. By the time it happens, man will have harnessed new energy from the sun, the tides, the wind, the hydrogen cell and advanced forms of nuclear fission

Anybody know which experts he may be thinking of? The best-case estimates I've seen indicate 2025 (from Shell??) and I seriousaly doubt we'll have commercial-scale fusion plants by then.

Ah, but it depends on what they mean by "run out of oil." Will there still be oil around in 2100? No doubt. Whether it will it be cheap and plentiful is a different matter.
Good point. I guess you're an old hand at this sort of thing ...
Sorry to nitpick, but the quote referred to advanced forms of fission (pebblebed reactors, perhaps), which would be feasible on that timeline. I agree that fusion could be a long way off.
How about flying economy class in "standing room only" configuration? At least one manufacturer is considering how many more bodies can be sardine crammed into a single aircraft to try to make it more profitable.

Do I detect a sort of craziness that smacks of desperation here?

Gotta love the business jargon.  

"Density modification program" = cramming people in like sardines

"Upright seating" = standing

Sounds like satire to me.  But then, a lot of things do...
Ha ha. That is truly crazy. Take out all the seats and you would save a lot of weight that could be replaced with people... but imagine people flying all over when you had some turbulence. Announcement by captain: I'm sorry we seem to be experiencing a little headwind, could everyone please hold hands for the next short while...
With standees on airliners, strapped to a rack or otherwise, I wish I were a trial lawyer. I smell a massive lawsuit as a plane hits turbulence equivalent to an invisible sinkhole and soneone's knees are destroyed.

Scenario: The plane is flying along, and hits a downdraft, then instantly a big updraft. POP! There goes someone's knees as they stand.

Just dial the law firm at 1-888-POT-HOLE!

I ran the numbers and if the plane were fully loaded with people of my weight - with no luggage - it would still be over 100 tons to lift into the air.  For reference, a C5 Galaxy lifts 135 tons.  That's why I figured it was a joke.

And to think present airliners have a hard enough time stopping on short runways....

And that doesn't take into account the obesity problem. As far as short runways, we're in luck. Most airline pilots have expierence taking off and landing onto carriers. Install electric catapaults and arrestor cables. Takeoffs will be quite exhilerating (and accellerating!) and landings will be jerky, to say the least.
The possibilities are almost limitless!

Now the only question is how does one chase airplanes?



P.S. A few weeks ago I called into a sports talk radio show where they were discussing the Bonds steroid controversy. I identified myself as an attorney albeit a non-practicing one. Just as it was my turn to talk an ambulance drove by with it's sirens on full blas. Naturally this gave the show's host the opportunity to ask if I was in the middle of chasing one. Pretty funny actually.

That's easy. You chase a plane with a plane! Learjets can keep up, but you need a pilots license with jet quals.
Thank you. Funniest thing I've read all day.

Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet. Passengers in the standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal.
I'm picturing those scenes of Japanese subway trains - with the guy that pushes people in so the door can close!  

Then they can run the plane over a scale to see if it can take off!

Have they considered removing the rest rooms?

Welcome aboard Pace Air, a fresh approach to air transit...

Watch out airlines in American airspace. When you load people in the plane, you have to watch the obesity problem! The standee section would have to be in the middle, to keep the plane balanced - assuming the plane isn't overweight. If it is, that's what JATO bottles are for.

And don't forget boarding passes but no assigned seats - first come first serve, like a Pace bus at an L stop/bus terminal. The flight attendant opens that door, and the stampede ensues as people rush to get a seat instead of stand. Of course, the TSA goons get to break up the occasional altercation between frequent fliers.

The next step is to add a large thermos of liquid oxygen and the passengers put on the masks to breathe, eliminating the need to pressurise the cabin saving fuel. Planes wouldn't need to have a pressurisable cabin except for the flight deck. The pressure difference locks the cockpit door, locking terrorists out as a bonus. Forget A/C, once flying, baseboard heaters add some heat as it gets mighty cold at altitude. A/C would only be needed on the ground - from May 15'th to Septenber 15'th. Otherwise, the fan belt is removed. The baseboard heaters get their heat from the oil coolers of the engines.

To ensure extra profit, the airline gets installed TVs with nothing but commercials and the airline gets a kickback from Transit TV, the same company adding TVs full of commercials to transit systems.

And the pilots come from India, to cut labour costs.

I hate flying and traveling in general. I have this idea for a service. Basically it goes like this: they show up at your door when it's time for you to go on your trip.You take a pill that knocks you out for the duration of the trip. They handle your body with care throughout the trip. You wake up in your hotel room with a glass of water and a ham sandwich waiting for you.



You are a freakin' genuis.  

Just put people up in boxes with airholes, attach a catheter, stack 'em up in a cargo plane and off they go.  No need for stewards/stewardesses, snacks, drinks, and annoying travel buddies.  Heck, we even have the technology to fly the planes by remote-control.  It could all run like clockwork at the fraction of the price.  And if the plane crashes, you would never know.

Go sell this idea and become a millionaire!!!

<satire> The Catheter only addresses "half the problem" . I'm afraid it will have to be adult diapers, the donning of which could be integrated as part of the security screening process, you are handed a fresh one at the gate, told to go behind the privacy screen and change, then come out with your street clothes in a plastic bag that will be returned to you at your destination...
Yes, yes.  You are quite correct about the diaper situation.  Better yet, process the bio-waste somehow to run some minor electical systems on the plane.  

Satire, cynicism, black humor...unfortunately these are the tools that I find necessary to survive in these days of insanity.

The catheter problem is solved every day. That's why you fast 24 hours before going into the "shop" for surgery. That way, when they knock you out, and even if they have to use that curare type stuff, you don't put out "emissions" from your tailpipe that would require the diaper.
You can make it better. You get to select the anesthesia. The economy package is a line of heroin to snort. The deluxe version is full surgical anesthesia, complete with Versed that causes amnesia. Druggie packages can include ketamine, PCP, or other regulated-doseage versions of street drugs.

A problem: Often times, when one "goes under" they must have a breathing tube inserted and hooked up to a respirator, so this will make travel humane, but expensive. Maybe you could get with Richard Branson to start "SnoozeAir".  

With NATO now fully deployed in Afghanistan and thus flying high air cap over 90% of the worlds Opuim/ Heroin production I would guess we could ALL get that at a good bulk rate for this use...

Has anyone here run the numbers on how critical that $200,000,000 /year of Narco-dollar recycling is to keeping the US Housing /markets bubble from popping like a ripe zit?

(Other than M. Rupert and the folks "Beyond the wilderness", not sure if Mike hangs out here under a pseudo-name)

I know that 200 Mega-bucks may not sound like much, but remember, that's hard cash money, Junkies can't print T-Bills like Washington can...
I have a better idea: have the people roll up into a fetal position. Than stack em one on top of the other. Sure you could squeeze in even more that way.



I was sorry to hear that Jane Jacobs died this morning - one less voice of reason in a sea of irrationality and complacency.


Indeed, a Giant has left us.

Wishing you: God speed, Fair winds and Calm seas Jane on the next leg of your journey

Doesn't it make sense for us -- I think it does -- to use taxpayers' money to determine whether or not we can use these new -- these raw materials to make something out of nothing, so that we continue the advance of ethanol, so the market for ethanol expands throughout the United States. --Bush 4/25/2006

I thought I was hearing things. But yes, he did propose getting something from nothing. Full text of Bush's April 25, 2006 energy speech is here.

Kunstler was right again.  
The belief in getting "something for nothing" strikes once more.
I apologize if these questions have been answered prior but I haven't had a chance to read thru the entire thread.

Two observations/questions:

This should be a good test then as to whether the price increase is due to those factors that are commonly used as scapegoats (damn environmentalists, greedy big oil etc. etc.) - if there really are problems at a fundamental level showing up then these moves will likely have little impact other than in the (very ?) short term - or is this too simplistic a view ?

As to the SPR - I thought this wasn't a supply issue - suspending deliveries to the SPR simply puts more supply out there available for refining - but the supply isn't the issue, remember - it's the refining capacity...  Or did I miss the boat on this one too ?


Earlier today, a friend of mine who flies for the Air Force sent me an email reporting that sometime in the middle of the day today, the Air Force's IT people put a block on DailyKos. He was on a coffee break and wanted to show a colleague a diary about energy policy, so he told me (probably one of Jerome à Paris'). Although it was possible to do that this morning, by around two o'clock (or however they say that in the Air Force) DailyKos was blocked.

So was Atrios.
So was TalkingPointsMemo, for crying out loud - and they're all policy and minimal invective over there!
On the other hand, Free Republic and Little Green Footballs came through just fine, thank you very much.

In addition, there are stories everywhere that the internet is about to be sold down the river:


I'd say the various Peak sites should develop backup plans to keep the communication lines open, whether a text-only feed, an email list or a usenet group.

I'm not blocked from DailyKos, and I'm on an Air Force base presently.....
LATOC has been certified as pornography by some internet censors. No joke:


Really ironic cause a while back on PO.com I joked that once the sh-t hits the fan and people stop buying DVDs like "End of Suburbia" I'll move into publishing porn.  The demand for that will always be strong. They even had it in the caveman days:

"'Female representations with highly accentuated sexual attributes are very well documented at many sites, but male representations are very, very rare,' explained Professor Conard."

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4713323.stm



My DailyKos is fine, too. I also am presently on an Air Force base. In fact General Ripper and Mandrake are here with me.

General Jack D. Ripper Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about the Internet?

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don't think I do, sir, no.

General Jack D. Ripper: He said the Internet was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, the Internet is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Cheers to you, Oil CEO (raising a glass of pure grain alcohol and rainwater)!
That's the first thing I request whenever anybody ever asks what I'd like to drink. Met with blank stares, always, never fails.
You are visiting the wrong people. I seldom travel without a flask of Everclear and another of pure unflouridated uncontaminated purely healthy capitalistic God-given water.

The preverts are everywhere.

Merkin Muffley will not save us.

Hey Sailorman, I wanna host your original Oil Drum Best Movie List post on my blog. But I wanted to ask permission.
Yes, you do have my permission to post the movie list.

Also I am working on a recommended books list. I think it will come in two versions--a short list and a much longer one including books for children, fundamental philosophy works, some poetry, biographies and dramas.

Your post inspired me to add that movie to our Netflix queue. My wife had never seen it, and it seemed so appropriate with ShrubCo threatening to nuke Iran and all.

Can I get you a little fluoride for that rainwater? It'll make your teeth so much stronger.

I have my trusty sandwich board ready should the net go down.



I've been away and you all have been busy.  I haven't read everything yet, but I'm surprised by the negativity.

We have high gas prices and people are responding.  That's good news.

What you want to do now is encourage them in the right direction.  Bush talks about more credits for hybrids and clean diesels, let's encourage them to reward "high mileage cars" and stop picking the technology.  Let's get a $500 credit on a Focus or a Yaris and see how that shakes things up.

And if your worried about loose emission controls, NOW is the time to put pen to actually physical paper and write a letter.  They many not care 99% of the time, but when they are running things up the flag pole, they check to see who will solute.  (If it's just the "environmentalist hating" core, we know how things will go.)

So, I haven't put letters our for a year, but I will by tomorrow.  This is the time, the opportunity.

I usually fall to "type fast and don't look back" but I actually spell checked that one.  My chemist's brain must have misfired: "solute. Substance that is dissolved in another substance (see solution)."
FYI: I just posted an Excel spreadsheet on my site that does a per-mile fuel cost comparison of five different types of vehicles, including a hydrogen fuel cell and an EV.  

A description and link to the sheet are here:


Just an FYI --
Jeffrey Collins of Cambridge Energy Research Associates presents "The Global Energy Crisis: New Solutions?" Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom on the campus of the University of Montana. Sponsored by the Montana World Affairs Council, S.G. Long Co. and Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind, admission is $5 for the general public and is free to high school students.

Bob Seidenschwarz, president of the Montana World Affairs Council board of directors, a registered representative at S.G. Long Co. in Missoula, said the Cambridge group doesn't agree with the theory that oil production will peak in the future, with demand climbing while production lessens.

"They say there are plenty of resources," Seidenschwarz says. "The question is, what will it cost us to get them, financially and environmentally?"

Jeffery Collins said he hopes the Missoula audience brings lots of questions, and added, "I look forward to a spirited debate."

I've just picked up on (and replied to) a critique of Matt Simmons' book 'Twilight in the Desert' by Jim Jarrell posted here: http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2180

Here is 1st para of Jarrell's paper, the full paper is posted at above link

<We have reviewed Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, written by Matthew Simmons, CEO of Simmons & Company International, a Houston based investment bank that specializes in the energy industry. As independent petroleum engineers, we disagree with the primary conclusion of this book that Saudi Arabia's oil production is teetering on the brink of steep, irrevocable production decline. We believe the process used by the author to arrive at the conclusion was impaired by incorrect interpretation of reservoir engineering concepts and common oilfield operations. The book posits a crisis where in our opinion none exists.>

Jarrell's paper has just been posted on the Powerswitch forum (link above) but is not new - it was issued in Oct'05.  I ran a search for 'Jarrell' on the OD but did not come up with any hits.  Does a search look at the archives, if not how do we determine if item has been discussed before short of scrolling thru screen by screen?
Well, this is an interesting development:

Lithium-Battery Cars May Deliver 300 Miles Per Charge



It appears that the only thing they sell now are batteries and a slow electric motorcycle that costs $6,000:

SPEED         Up to 30 mph
RANGE    2 hrs @ 25mph - 50 miles
POWER    2 kilowatt in-wheel motor
BATTERIES    72 V, 11 Ah
CHARGE TIME    Full charge in 2 hours
WEIGHT    210 lbs

WInd resistance.

Also there is resistance to change. As I read all the posts about how to keep the automobile culture going for as long as possible, I realize we will not change at a pace fast enough to prevent extreme problems.

How many barrels of oil does it take to make the average car? 70.

How many vehicles must we replace? 800 million? 70 times 800 million equals?
56,000,000,000 barrels of oil. Fifty-six billion. That is two thirds of a year's oil use. Where exactly will we take that oil from? Who will suffer so we can all drive high technology cars to continue a doomed paradigm? We replace cars every what -- twelve years? This mathematical exercise is rapidly becoming depressing.

Perhaps we should spend that prehistoric concentrated sunlight on developing a sustainable model.

Just a thought.

Howard Kunstler's predictions on how America and its "Leaders" would react at the beginning stages of the "Long Emergency" are coming true.

First Stage:  Denial.  You saw that by the baffoon Bush today and yesterday in his statements about oil,   But its not just Bush,  its the entire country,  no one wants to let go of our our oil-dependent, SUV Driving, 45 mile commuting, $1.00 Mc.Burger transported 1,000 Mile, buying cheap crap from China, living in Suburban Mc.Mansion life-style.

For more on "The Long Emergency", and Howard Kunstlers book, you can can read a review of it that I wrote here:


The more people that read this, the sooner we, as a nation, might realize just how F'd we are, and can possibly... MAYBE... Start do something about it besides the wastefull half-measures, and propaganda BS coming from our leadership today.

- Patamon


Here's a good article on corrupt Turkmenistan, its German bank accounts, and the calm treatment it's been given by Germany, which may get better thanks partly to insecurity over Russian intransience.

Experts: Global warming behind 2005 hurricanes

The record Atlantic hurricane season last year can be attributed to global warming, several top experts, including a leading U.S. government storm researcher, said on Monday.

"The hurricanes we are seeing are indeed a direct result of climate change and it's no longer something we'll see in the future, it's happening now," said Greg Holland, a division director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Holland told a packed hall at the American Meteorological Society's 27th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology that the wind and warmer water conditions that fuel storms that form in the Caribbean are "increasingly due to greenhouse gases. There seems to be no other conclusion you can logically draw."

...Holland, director of the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division of the federal research center, said tropical storm anomalies in the 1940s and 1950s can be explained by natural variability.

But he said carbon dioxide started changing traceable patterns in the 1970s and by the early 1990s, the atmospheric results were affecting the storm numbers and intensities.

"What we're seeing right now in global climate temperature is a signature of climate change," said Holland, a native of Australia. "The large bulk of the scientific community say what we are seeing now is linked directly to greenhouse gases."

And they're predicting more warming to come.

Faber says gold price may reach $US6000

This is an interesting article by Marc Faber in which he makes some interesting comments. He has realised that the money supply system will come apart with peak oil.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/business/faber-says-gold-price-may-reach-us6000/2006/04/25/1145861346435. html

Here's what Bush didn't say in his speech:

Dark Days For Energy Efficiency

This may have already been posted, but I didn't see it.

Many say we will see $3.50/gal this summer.  If you factor in Iran, who knows how high it could go. Everyone knows America MUST get off the oil.  After September 11, 2001 I expected our President to call on Americans to GET OFF THE OIL.  I was expecting a speech like the one JFK gave that motivated us to reach for the moon. As you know, this never happened.  Eventually I realized that the only way this is going to happen is for us to do it ourselves.  To that end I created this idea and have been trying to make it a reality..

The EPA is offering a research grant opportunity that I believe is a perfect fit for this idea.  I have sent an e-mail to a hand picked list of university professors who have experience with government research projects.  I'm looking to form a research team to apply for the EPA grant, conduct a social-economic experiment and surveys to determine to what extent the American public will support it, project the economic potential of WPH, and identify logistical, social and political obstacles as well as opportunities.

All government grants are awarded based on merit of the proposed research.  I believe WPH has merit but your help is needed to verify it. You can help by posting your feedback.  Let the professors and the EPA know what you think about WPH.  Do you think this idea is worth pursuing? We need to know if Americans will support a plan like this.

Do you have any ideas to improve the plan?

Share any and all of your thoughts.

Tell your friends and family about this Blog post and ask them to post their thoughts on WPH


Thank you