Open Thread

In case you were wondering about this:

Scientists from the University of Cornell have discovered a massive amount of Oil off the coast of Louisiana.The find is some 60 billion barrels or 3 Times more than current US recoverable Oil of 20 Billion barrels, and would bring US total reserves to 80 billion barrels which is on par with Venezuela. In comparison to other finds around the world, this is twice the size of all Oil ever found in the North Sea and 6 times larger than the estimates of the Alaskan ANWR oil deposits.

....The area is about 10,000 sq. miles in size, and was found under layers of salt dooms by a new method of oil discovery known as "gas washing" . A process in which geologist are able to track the movement of oil deposits by the way they interact with the flow of natural gas. This method helps scientists to make extremely accurate 3D-seismic maps of deep underground oil deposits and mitigate the risk involved in drilling such deep under sea wells.

....The information was gathered from source rocks deep below the sea and was discovered by a team lead by Larry Cathles, a chemical geologist from Cornell and funded by a grant from Chevron

I called and talked to Larry Cathles and he said it was a bogus fabrication. There is a large amount of source rock down there, and his group studied where it was migrating to, but in no sense did they find significant amounts of recoverable oil.

From the Wall St. Journal, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The No. 1 energy fund's wild (but energizing) ride

Mr. Rice: ...It's like we're driving down the road, and eventually we are going to fall off the cliff as we reach peak oil production in the world. We don't know if it will happen in three or 10 years, but we do know that the situation in Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq and Iran could have a big impact on supply that shoves the car off the road at any point. It's a point that has to be factored in by investors. The best of all worlds for me is if oil sits around $60 or $70 a barrel until we fall off the cliff and peak oil is reached.

WSJ: So you think the peak could be hit in as few as three years? How would we know we're at the peak, and what do you mean by "fall off the cliff"?

Mr. Rice: The timing depends on when several of the world's largest oil fields begin to roll over. Unfortunately, information on most of these fields is guarded as a "state secret" and is difficult to obtain and analyze. Suffice to say that the average age of the Mideast fields in question (is) over 50 years old, and when they start to decline, the decline will be over 10 percent a year. That would be "peak oil," as the world probably couldn't add enough new production to offset declines of that magnitude from the giant fields.

However, I suspect that the price effect on oil would be somewhat muted by new coal-to-liquids production and additional liquid natural gas. As long as peak oil occurs post 2012, the world (would have) a chance to develop these alternative supply sources. If some of these fields start to decline prior to 2012, and the world hasn't developed the coal-to-liquids or LNG infrastructure, oil prices will rise substantially.

NOAA discusses higher temps in Atlantic where hurricanes form, attributes change to human activities:

 May 1, 2006 -- The region of the tropical Atlantic where many hurricanes originate has warmed by several tenths of a degree Celsius over the 20th century, and new climate model simulations suggest that human activity, such as increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, may contribute significantly to this warming. This new finding is one of several conclusions reported in a study by scientists at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., published today in the Journal of Climate.

Hello PeakEarl,

I wonder if the record flooding occuring 'across the pond' is also attributable to global warming?  I couldn't find any specific info if the snow was melting faster than normal, or if the glaciers are shrinking faster this year adding more meltwater to these flooding rivers.  Maybe crucial GW data will soon be as hard to get as SA oil production from Ghawar.

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

Greetings! Sure can't answer your question. Looks like many changes are coming, only some of which we can predict. Interesting times..
Greetings! Sure can't answer your question. Looks like many changes are coming, only some of which we can predict. Interesting times..
Never had this happen before. No, I'm not twins
This goes back a few threads. I was ranting about monopolies and monopoly profits, and used ExxonMobil as an example. At least two people pointed out that EM has but 3pct of the world's total oil production. So I wrote this, waiting for a live thread:

Exxon posted profits of $36.13 billion for last year (2005). According to a dipchip, ExxonMobil produced 2.5 mbpd in 9/05. Total production is/was around 85 mbdp, so that's 3pct of total. Just say the avg price was $55/bbl.

This would mean that EM profits were a little over 2pct the of the TOTAL value of production in 2005 OR 66 pct of its own 3 pct share! Well, clearly EM derives its profits from gas and chemicals as well as oil -- so not all of this profit is attributable to oil.

On the other hand, the profits do not include the hefty compensation of the top level execs, plus the generous compensation of even the midlevel management. So the $33.16 is understated from one point of view (mine).

And EM is only one of the majors, although a biggie and probably the most profitable. It seems to me that either EM's profits are staggering for a 3 pct share of the market OR the 3pct share is misleading, i.e. they are somehow involved in profitting from a much larger share than just the 3 pct that is ascribed to them.

I still maintain, that while peak oil is here or near, we cannot exculpate the oil companies. They are a big part of the problem, though perhaps not in quite the way the public imagines. There is no good solution to the problem that is going to make the oil companies happy.

On the other hand, the profits do not include the hefty compensation of the top level execs, plus the generous compensation of even the midlevel management. So the $33.16 is understated from one point of view (mine).

For any particular year, you will find that those hefty bonuses (which I do not condone, by the way) amount to far less than 1% of the annual profits.

I still maintain, that while peak oil is here or near, we cannot exculpate the oil companies. They are a big part of the problem, though perhaps not in quite the way the public imagines. There is no good solution to the problem that is going to make the oil companies happy.

Oil companies are doing what they are supposed to do: Find and refine oil, and make money selling it. This is what they do year in and year out, and is what they can be counted on to do in the future. I don't believe that Big Oil will make a serious move into biofuels until the time is right. And 'the time is right' when they think they can make money at it. That's not to say that they won't miscalculate and get into the game too late, but Big Oil is currently moving into projects past conventional oil (tar sands, GTL, NGL, etc.).


Robert - To what extent is Big Oil aware of net energy, in the widest boundary sense?
For the most part, it is economics, and not energy that is the primary concern. But if your EROI is poor, your economics will normally be poor. Energy reduction is certainly an ongoing effort, and I imagine everyone has energy models telling them where the energy is being used, but they wouldn't hesitate to run a project with an EROI of less than 1 if it was economic. By that, I mean something like GTL or CTL.


Are you confident that CTL ( I assume you mean Fischer-Tropsh) is low EROI? If so, how can it be profitable? Because coal is still underpriced on  BTU basis?

Industrial Energy Prices ACEEE

Yeah, GTL and CTL are both dependent upon cheap supplies of gas or coal. As long at the price is low enough and the price of crude is high enough, the projects can be done economically even if the EROI is less than 1.


Now that I think about it, as long as you consider the entire process, from getting the coal out of the ground, the EROI may in fact be >1. I don't know what the EROI is for a typical coal mining operation. I was specifically thinking of the POX and FT steps, both of which have EROIs less than 1.


But if coal itself had an EROI of 20-1 (ranges vary widely), then POX and FT steps would just multiply through. (like oil at 10:1 and refining at 10:1 make gasoline at 5:1)

I think CTL is significantly decent gross EROI but net EROI (after accounting for environmental impacts) is very low, and perhaps below unity.  We need more studies on these things before they scale, in any case.

Yeah, it hit me that this is what you were saying, and you are correct. The EROI from the process itself is probably decent from beginning to end, since that first step is probably pretty good.


The simplest common example is batteries. No EROI there, but great utility/versatility that makes it worthwhile and profitable. If liquid fuel for transportation is valuable enough, the EROI is not the main concern, although I certainly realize the long-term implications.
Big oil follows Government subsidies just like any other business.  

The hidden "economic" factor.

As these profits go out of control I wouldnt be surprised by more such stories.

And I wouldnt put any country out of the reckoning to do it.


Our single leading unsolvable problem that we will never overcome no matter how much we BLOG it:


Well not really. Once we admit we are dancing monkeys (or herd mentality lemmings burrowing our way to prosperity) then at least we have chance of dealing with the problem. It is by denying that we are just monkeys (irrational, psychotic monkeys) that we keep ourselves heading for the cliff as one big barrel of ape-sh*t creatures, all steeped in our "economic theories" and our other religions.

Of course, that's the philosophy of Nihilism and has been around since long before the oil age, and thus, is of no use, consequence or import on what is essentialy a technical/economic discussion....self hatred is an asthetic point of view...

"If you teach a man that he is nothing more than a gorilla with a gun, he begins to act exactly as a gorilla with a gun."
Philosopher, writer and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton

Well when you guys can convince the other 6.5 billion monkeys that we should all just get a long, give me a ring.  This essentially "technical/economic discussion" is just masking the fact that you are monkeys too.  When the food stops coming to grocery store you will be clubbing your neighbor for his left over cat or you will in the process of getting clubbed for yours regardless of your little organic veggie patch in the back yard.

"If you teach a man that he is nothing more than a gorilla with a gun, he begins to act exactly as a gorilla with a gun."
Philosopher, writer and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton"
But if that same man was taught to be a Nobleman he will become a gorilla with a gun if you let him starve for a few weeks, and the best part is you wouldn't even have to teach his to do that.

Let's cut through the crap here.  What it all boils down too is all anyone gives a shit about is your own ass and the little bipeds it produced.  

"All behavior has been shaped for the maximum survival and reproductive success of the genes of the individual and/or its close kin, not of the species."
~Michael Ghiglieri

The boys at the top of the food chain are going to take a massive dump on us at the bottom real soon...

"Wherever men hold unequal power in society, they will strive to maintain it. They will use whatever means are convenient to that end and will seek to justify them by the most plausible arguments they are able to devise."
~Reinhold Neibuhr


Who you calling a monkey, chimp?
The political monkeys are crashing against their chain-link enclosures at this very moment as we speak.

Democratic monkeys are flinging verbal feces at Republican monkeys.

Republican monkeys are flinging verbal feces back at the Democratic monkeys.

"The Problem" will be solved by the letting of blood, by the casting of "blame". But whose blood is it that must flow? Who is to "blame"?

The monkey noises rise in a crescendo.

Individual apes plead for their lives. "I will give every man, woman and child $100 if they spare me," yelps one monkey.

"I voted for higher CAFE standards before I voted against them," yelps another monkey.

We Peak Oilers know that all these monkey noises are meaningless. Mother Nature will not exgorge a new plume of sweet crude just because the monkeys make their noises of blame. Hubbert's curve is running its course. Global Warming is running its course. And yet the monkeys shreik.

So now we TOD'ers start flinging feces at each other to decide if we are monkeys, or lemmings or some higher form of creature?

What good is it?
Let us gather together as a unified "tribe" or "herd" or "coallition" or whatever you want to call it, of rational thinking creatures and work on energy solutions rather than on the blame game (a.ka. feces flinging).

"All behavior has been shaped for the maximum survival and reproductive success of the genes of the individual and/or its close kin, not of the species."
~Michael Ghiglieri

The above quote is incorrect on at least two counts.

First, there is considerable debate with regard to the level at which evolution operates: genotype, phenotype or at some other point, or at some combination of all available modalities of change. We can see this most clearly with regard to the human species where our primary advantage derives from a synthetic abstract that we call "culture." We can implement cultural change much faster than a species which relies on adaptive change via genetic mutation. Our success as a species is a clear counter-factual to the above quote.

The second inaccuracy is due to the implied teleology. The statement suggests that change is directed, or "shaped" toward some desired end point (reproductive success) and that this is an optimum outcome. The theory of punctuated equilibrium posits that change is aimless and happens more or less in random fashion during an epoch of relative stasis. After this period of stasis there is some form of major change in the environment which creates a new environment. Some portion of the existing species will be successful in this new environment and will increase their populations. Other species will find the new environment less hospitable and these will tend to die out.

From a Peak Oil perspective we can see that the overfed, overweight, overstimulated and auto-mobile members of industrial culture may have some difficulty in adapting to a post-Peak environment and may be subject to die -off. Existing pre-industrial cultures will not suffer the same negative impacts, in fact their territory is likely to increase due to the die-off of the oil dependent. The key understanding here is that nature not only rolls the dice, she is constantly changing the rules of the game. Some species do better under one set of circumstances than others. But no one can predict with certainty what future conditions will be. Therefore no one can accurately predict the required adaptations in advance. I fearlessly place my bets on Bob's yeast.
Would you say Dawkins is incorrect also?

"It rapidly became clear to me that the most imaginative way of looking at evolution, and the most inspiring way of teaching it, was to say that it's all about the genes. It's the genes that, for their own good, are manipulating the bodies they ride about in. The individual organism is a survival machine for its genes."
~Richard Dawkins

Would you say Dawkins is incorrect also?

"It rapidly became clear to me that the most imaginative way of looking at evolution, . . . was to say that it's all about the genes . . .

That is Dawkins point of view and it is a very imaginative point of view and it helps open up the thought realm to the range of possibilities with regard to what we call evolutionary change. I tend to favour the perspective of Eldredge and Gould (1972).

Is Dawkins view the current accepted conventional scientific wisdom? I do not believe so. I have not kept current on all the levels of the debate because it is taking place at a multitude of levels within different disciplines.

The following is fairly good introduction to the issues:
Nicely said.

I personally have extremely little tolerance for nihilism, the Apocalypticons, etc.  If I really believed what these extreme pessimists claim they believe, I would have offed myself some time back.

Human beings have indeed managed to screw up a hell of a lot, but we've also done a lot of things right.  I prefer to remain optimistic and focused on the task of educating people about the energy challenges we're just beginning to encounter (which I still contend is the best way to prepare for what's coming).  If I turn out to be wrong, them's the breaks.  But at least I'll have a lot more fun along the way than the people dusting off their Y2K bunker plans.

I can understand your pessimism there.  The Y2K'ers were really a bunch of saps.  White collar sissies that thought a few lines of code were going to bring down this nifty little electro-magnetic civilization we have here.   If you really want to see why you are just pissing in the wind spend some time surfing the link below.  It's time to earn your stripes boys!!!

"Gradually, by selective breeding, the congenital differences between rulers and ruled will increase until they become almost different species. A revolt of the plebs would become as unthinkable as an organized insurrection of sheep against the practice of eating mutton."

~Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society


Welcome my son
Welcome to the machine
What did you dream?
It's alright we told you what to dream
You dreamed of a big star
He played a mean gituar
He always ate in the Steak Bar
He loved to drive in his Jaguar
So welcome to the Machine

Since you mentioned Merton, who lived under the rule of Benedict, has anyone thought much about a possible rennaissance of Benedictine communities in years to come?  Has anyone ala Tainter done much research on the role of Benedictine communities in the Middle Ages and their role within a feudal economy, such as what some feel we are headed towards?  

Benedictines are pretty much the definition of intentional community, and when they work as designed, provide a compelling counterweight to the Angry Chimp view that in the end we're just in it for ourselves.

FWIIW, Merton might have objected to being called a philosopher.  He was an existentialist, coming to a slightly different opinion of ultimate realities than the atheistic existentialists.

Well, I thought it was funny :)

IMO, there's a place in the world for nihilism, just as there is for other philosophical arguments.  You can make a case for them all, which just proves that humans and their behavior are complex and multifaceted.  We can be gloriously noble and horribly depraved (and everything in between).  Our survival as a species will depend on which aspect is paramount at crucial points in time.

From the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune:

Computing the commute

With gas prices up, commuters who sought more house for their money in the outer suburbs are concerned about increasing costs.

..."Sometimes I sit in bed at night and think, 'Oh my gosh, what if it goes to $3.50 a gallon?'" said Molly LaVigne, a 25-year-old law student who lives with her fiancé in New Richmond, Wis., and commutes to downtown Minneapolis.

A new study of the Twin Cities area commissioned by the Brookings Institution shows that transportation costs -- including the need for more cars -- can be twice as high in outer-ring suburban communities than in the city, where buses and light rail are available.

...Home buyers are starting to understand in a rough sort of way, experts agree.

"The old maxim, 'Drive till we can afford it,' may be softening," said Michael Noonan, division president for one of the top national home builders operating in the Twin Cities area and a vice president of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. "The rising cost of gas is adding a dimension that people didn't used to consider as carefully as they do today."

Bolivia nationalizes natural gas:

I heard it's oil, too, though Bolivia doesn't have as much oil as natural gas.
Also on the front page at the New York Times today:

To pick up a point raised at various times by westexas and Dave: any country's nationalization of oil or gas seems to imply that there will be more local resource use, and less export. That's not inevitable, but it seems to follow.

Saudis admit peak? I found this via the Energy Bulletin:

Is that comment by "Aramco employee" after the article real?
No way to tell whether it's actually from an Aramco employee. However, I strongly suspect the claim contained therein is bogus on its face. If Saudi Arabia really had vast, untapped fields, then why would it be going to so much trouble to squeeze more output from its aging, declining standbys? The economics are unsound.
HO had a post discussing this here
I ran across a fascinating site over the weekend regarding the prospects for bio-butanol. I know a bit about butanol, having worked on butanol processes for 6 years, and this seems pretty promising. I just finished an essay on it:




I know a company that is quietly converting engines to acetylene. Seems to work well and is very efficient.

Have you ever looked into this fuel for transportation? They have several cars already converted. Their main effort at the moment is community-scale power plants.

No, I have never heard of anyone using acetylene as a transportation fuel. Natural gas, yes. I wonder what the reasoning is for choosing acetylene over something like natural gas.


To make acetylene you basically use coal, lime, water and heat. Used to be an important fuel before petroleum. I'm not a tech person, but my racing mechanic friend thinks their concept is very interesting.

Here's the company's information site:

When I was a kid, I had a carbide lamp that I would take out at night hunting. You filled it up with calcium carbide, and water. The water dripped on the calcium carbide, reacting with it to create acetylene. The acetylene then came out a small opening and burned, creating the light for the lamp. It was pretty cool, except for that time the whole thing caught on fire on my head.

So, if someone had a source of calcium carbide, you could easily create acetylene. But if you had to first create the calcium carbide, I wouldn't think the energy balance would be very good.


Dear Don,

I really hope you beat this ghastly disease, and live way, way, past Peak Oil, which I guess all of us will. Good Luck and keep on truckin'.

Thanks, writerman,

The doctor doesn't seem to be too concerned. Very early detection. He said I could probably ignore it for 10 years, but that would be taking some chances.

I've thought about the possibility that if enough things were to go wrong with the economy, getting something as simple as prostate surgergy might become very difficult in the future. So I think I'll do it now rather than later.

Is there such a thing as Peak medical care?


I'm puzzled by the lead story (60 Gb). How did this rumour get started? And it's being repeated elsewhere, though not much. Since the reserves figure couldn't have come from Cathles, who fabricated it?

Talk about grasping at straws.

I have no source beyond the NewTechSpy piece (which was repeated on  The only named source mentioned in the article denies it.  So I guess, unless further evidence comes to light in future, we conclude that NewTechSpy prints garbage.

Thanks for the horses-mouth debunkage.  Earlier today I searched Cornell, Chevron, CNN, Fox, ABC, etc. and found no reference to this "discovery," so I assumed it was false.  Can't always believe what you read.

I also spent some time in google monkey mode today, trying to figure out what the deal was on this piece.  As best I can tell, NewTechSpy has about the same credibility as the National Enquirer.  I checked out their story on the upcoming Boeing 797, and it was likewise way off base.
It is recycled garbage, actually.  I recall stumbling across this story (or something VERY similar) when I first began researching peak oil obsessively in late 2004.  I believe I first spotted it on a message board and traced it back to a bizarre web site that seemed focused primarily on space aliens with debunking peak oil as a side project.  

If there were a major discovery in the Gulf, the MSM would pick up on it very quickly, especially in this high energy cost environment.      

This looks like so many of the spam e-mails you get advertising the next big penny stock pick.  A lot of them push energy and play up some insignificant event to take advantage of the herd mentality on investing in energy right now.
Anybody else attend the Energy Solutions Conference? I was only able to make two of the talks: my own and Kunstler's. I did meet Yankee and Super G. Both very handsome individuals. I'm sure they will have very good-looking children should they decide to spawn.

I didn't make the connection when Yankee introduced herself. I just smiled and shook her hand thinking, "oh my God there are crazed obsessed New York Yankee baseball fans showing up here." Then she mentioned TOD and I understood.



The crazed obsessed Yankees fans are in Boston for the Red Sox series.

The slightly less obsessed are glued to the TV/computer...  

Hello Matt,

What is your assessment of the conference--people merely alarmed, scared to death, or believing in technical solutions to save the day?  Were there any Congressional figures there besides Roscoe Bartlett?  Any new billionaires join the fold, or is Richard Rainwater and T. Boone Pickens the only ones willing to come out of the Peakoil closet?  Are they concerned about Westexas & Khebab's theory of rapid export depletion?  Please give us your two cents or put it on your LATOC website ASAP. Thxs

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


Are there any conferences occuring in the Southwest this year? Specifically, in the Pasadena/Los Angeles areas. Deffeyes spoke at Caltech recently, but an "Energy Solutions" conference here would be immensely useful, at least in terms of getting in touch with likeminded people.

Ah ha, so Yankee and Super-G are a potential spawning unit? Thanks Matt for the boots-on-the-ground human intelligence on this, as my satelite intel is not working right now.

The engineering aspect of this site always strikes me a relentlessly male - not in a negative way, after all I still possess a Y chromosone the last time I checked, but I am always happy to learn of gender diversification. And it the women of the world who make the important decisions.

Hello TODers,

Is any skyscraper or other multi-story building in America doing anything like this, or are we too fat and lazy?

Japanese Workers Urged To Ditch Elevators, Take The Stairs

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

True story. The company I used to work for didn't allow employees to take the stairs. If you worked on the 2nd floor, you had to take the elevator. They said too many injuries occur on stairs. I always said "Yeah, but too many heart attacks occur from taking the stairs all your life".


Doh! What I wouldn't give for an edit function. Should read:

"Yeah, but too many heart attacks occur from taking the elevators all your life".


Almost all American buildings are set up now so, if you take the stairs, you can't get onto any other floor, including the one you just came from - all the doors are locked on the stairwell side! Once on the stairs, you have one choice: Exit to the street. I have even seen this one a little staircase covering 1/2 floors' distance.

Taking the stairs is Anti-American, like walking.

Fuel costs prompt school closings in Tenn.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- The high price of diesel fuel for school buses meant children in one Tennessee school system got a holiday Monday - their second in a row.

Some 3,800 youngsters got Friday and Monday off because of the action taken by Dallas Smith, superintendent of Rhea County schools in east Tennessee, to ease transportation spending.

"University of Cornell?"  That would give me pause.  Google shows a few references, but I've always seen it as, "Cornell University."
And not only that, they found the oil under layers of "salt dooms."  ;-)
someone was short crude futures and wanted a pullback....;)
That was my initial reaction as well.  Cornell is an Ivy League school that's not exactly some obscure institution.  It usually is refered to simply as Cornell.

Referencing it as University of Cornell is laughable - unless there is such a place in another country (?)

Hello TODers,

Crucial to understanding detritus entropy and Malthusian effects is how it affects others around the world who cannot afford the detritus essentials we here in America take for granted.  Consider this Yahoo article and how easily you and your children will can adapt to this lifestyle in ten, fifteen, twenty years:

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

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Imagine for a moment desperation like this: you are a 22-year-old woman, pregnant with your fourth child. You are living between four walls framed with tree branches and enclosed by corrugated tin.

I just don't understand why people, who know they have very little money, resources, etc., have so many children. At this point in time when the human species needs to reduce its population, many are popping out kids as fast as they can, and in the poorest of conditions. Do these children grow up or do a lot of them die before adulthood / puberty? If the latter, are we looking at what could become of 1st world nations in JHK's worst-case scenario? A lot of authors talk about population reduction, but what will it actually look like?
When you have nothing, children are your medicare and social security insurance. And since you are poor, many of them die young. So you need to make a bunch of them.

Rising living standards tend to lead to smaller families - after a lag.

This is why giving $3 medicated mosquito nettings to the poorest in Kenya is a sound investment.

Hello Kvenlander,

In that case, I expect the younger American adults to start 'shagging' like crazy after they read this alarming bit of Yahoo news:
The trustees, who include the head of the Social Security Administration and three members of the Cabinet, said long-term growth rates for both programs were not "sustainable under current financing arrangements."

Treasury Secretary John Snow, chairman of the trustees group, said without action "the coming demographic bulge will drive federal spending to unprecedented levels."

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

What's happening is that the Feds have been cutting income taxes and raising social security taxes for a generation. Now that the baby boom is retiring, the social security taxes are going to be spent on social security payments, so they will have to raise income taxes to the seventies level to replace the social security taxes that are now being directly spent on old people instead of being diverted to B-2 bombers. At least, if they still want to keep buying more B-2 bombers.
Even worse, we will wind up having to hike income taxes all the way back to the sixties level when the baby boomers are older and need nursing home care to pay back the social security "trust fund".
No wonder they are panicking.
>The trustees, who include the head of the Social Security Administration and three members of the Cabinet, said long-term growth rates for both programs were not "sustainable under current financing arrangements."

Its much worse than the message they are trying to communicate. They say that the Socal Security system goes bust in 2040. In reality, it goes bust in 2012 when the outlays exceed the revenue. The 2040 estimate assumes that the gov't can actually use the 2+ Trillion in Gov't IOUs to finance SS past 2012.

For those unaware, there is no trust fund for Social Security collections. The excess capital that is collected is used to finance the General Gov't budget. Since all of this capital is already spent there is no surplus to draw on. By 2012 when the outlays (money paid to retirees) exceeds Social Security collections, the gov't will be forced to substantially increases taxes or dramatically cut federal spending. Either way it spells a fiscal disaster. Certainly by 2012 the world will have slid past Peak Oil, compounding the problem. Starting 2008 when the first large groups of boomers are eligable for retirement, the SS surplus will start to decline. This will begin to apply fiscal pressure on states and the federal job as expenses begin to rise at the same time revenues per capita decline.

The perfect financial Storm: Medicare, Social Security, Peak Oil, Currency devaluation, massive trade and federal debts, and Excessive debt laden consumers.

Genes don't understand "little money, and resources" or "poorest of conditions" or "human suffering".  They are just concerned at replicating themselves at all cost.  With any luck there may be a mutation that gives a gene set the advantage to survive the change in environment.  There is no "rational" thought here.  Only habituated individuals with many "energy slaves" working for them 24 hours a day have time to "believe" we actually control our actions...

"It rapidly became clear to me that the most imaginative way of looking at evolution, and the most inspiring way of teaching it, was to say that it's all about the genes. It's the genes that, for their own good, are manipulating the bodies they ride about in. The individual organism is a survival machine for its genes."
~Richard Dawkins


Yes, Lou's genetic-subconscious axis (GSA) has decided not to believe in this. Most likely, the reason is believing in what AC and others (myself also) believe would lead to a significant loss of social, and possibly financial, capital. That's not good for the organism or for the genes so the genetic-subconscious chooses to believe in a more optimistic outcome.

Lou - just an observation, not a judgement. My GSA operates  the same way, as does everybody's. The difference is in our respective environments.



Hello PedalPusher,

Sadly, this is the normal human sexual response since time eternal.  The same thing is occurring in Banda Aceh and other areas from last year's Indian Ocean tsunami.  Recall that many, many children died.  Even though the surviving adults have lost everything, they are desperately trying to conceive as fast as they can.

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

Most women in undeveloped countries have little or no education, no access to birth control, and little control over sexual behavior (the men get to determine that).  Not to mention cultural and religious mores that encourage large families.  Then there's the economic factors already mentioned as well as the fact that when you're trying to survive on subsistence agriculture, the more hands you have to help, the better.  The structural effects of poverty increase the reproduction rate, contrary to what one would assume.  Low birth rates require female education, wealth, and reproductive choice.
Who I would vote for is a Truth candidate. As Writerman said a few threads back,the truth is our hope &  it is the first quality I will look for in anyone attempting to deal with peak oil & our global problems.
I used to think that, but now I think if people knew the truth (as I currently see it) there would be pandemonium, hoarding, depression, crime and social dislocation. We need to view the american (and other) people as our troops, and envision a positive transition from here to there, even though its looks like a tough road. But too much truth might break the camels back. (for example, if westexas is right)
I can't see a positive transition/solutions, & I've been looking hard; so the Truth will be my measure.
"...among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages."  The Idler 1758

You can have the modern version from Hiram Johnson or the classic from Aeschylus, doesn't matter in the end.  To expect truth in time of conflict is beyond naive.

Communication is best when only with a dozen or two. aLike I said I don't expect positive on the larger scales.Thanks for the historical advice/confrontation. Churchill or Lincoln did some measure of truth.
Another econo-pundit pundificates words of wisdom about market solutions. These folk seem to be crawling out from between our pretro-proliferating rocks lately. Where did they spawn?
The media are good at getting their microphones in front of the grumpiest among us, but the truth is: Americans are at work and increasingly prosperous. Three-dollar gas is not slowing us down. ... However, lower regulations, additional tax-induced exploration and production, and incentives for innovation and substitution will all work to alleviate a potential real energy crisis farther down the road.

Maybe $3.25/gal is not eating your wallet inside out buddy. The rest of us are starting to feel the pain.

The first tip that this is bogus is the reference to the "University of Cornell" - it is Cornell University and it is still in Ithaca, New York (expcet of the Medical School and perhaps another graduate school in NYC) - it is not the mythical state of Cornell with its 60 Gb of abiotic oil. Shoud we assume Stuart you reached Professeor Cathles at his bench at Cornell University?
University of Cornell is one of the League of Ivy schools ...
Don't you mean Cornell University is one of the Ivy League schools?
Daniel Yergin Day

(When and oil closes at or above $76 ($38 times two), for the near term price--I think prices farther out have already been there, I recommend that we proclaim it Daniel Yergin Day, in honor of his prediction that oil prices would be at $38 barrel on 11/1/05, and in honor of his numerous predictions that we were facing a glut of crude oil.  IMO, these guys that have, in effect, been encouraging Americans to continue buying large SUV's to drive to and from large mortgages, deserve every bit of scorn and ridicule that we can dump on them--just my opinion, anyway.)

The following column was published on 11/1/04:

Digital Rules
Capitalism's Amazing Resilience
Rich Karlgaard, 11.01.04, 12:00 AM ET


Energy is one of the two leading risks in the global economy. (Terrorism, of course, is the other.) Just take a look at one industry already suffering from oil shock--U.S.-based airlines will lose $5 billion this year. That loss matches the bump in fuel prices. Ouch. Then there's China, which has climbed to the world's number two spot in oil consumption. China uses most of its oil wildly inefficiently to generate electricity. Oil consumption by cars barely registers--now. But during the next four years, China's oil imports will double as the Chinese give up their bicycles. Biting your nails yet? Here's one more sobering oil fact: The world has only a 1% short-term cushion. This makes for a very volatile market.

Given these facts, where will oil prices be a year from now--$75 a barrel? $100?

Wrong numbers, says Daniel Yergin. Wrong direction, too. Try $38. Yergin knows oil. He is a founder and the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consultancy that has 230 employees, with offices worldwide. He is also a recipient of the United States Energy Award and a member of the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board. A former Harvard professor, Yergin is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book on oil, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.

Yergin's prediction of cheaper oil prices is noteworthy because he doesn't dispute any of the alarming facts cited in my opening paragraph. Not that he would. The facts came straight from Yergin's own mouth at the recent Forbes Global CEO Conference in Hong Kong. I jotted down Yergin's comments while listening to him speak at a dinner. Then he gave a formal speech the next morning and, fueled this time by highly caffeinated tea, I again took notes, just to be sure. Yergin is pretty clear about his predictions. He says oil demand will rise, yet prices will drop. How can this be?

Answer: capitalism's amazing resiliency. Oil prices rise--oilmen become innovative. They work, they invest, they put their heads to the task, they apply technology, and pretty soon they'll discover how to extract oil profitably from oil sand. Or open wells in deeper water. Or scour the planet for new sources using scanners thousands of miles in space. As Yergin reminds us, oil output is 60% higher today than it was in the 1970s. Not many sages from the 1970s would have bet their reputations on this development. The opposite sentiment prevailed back then; experts said the planet was running out of oil. Wrong.

Yergin says he's always asked when oil will run out for good. He shrugs. He's willing to say the world will need 40% more oil in 2025. Hard work and technology probably will find a way to meet the demand. The funniest thing--and I saw this happen--is that many people who ask Yergin this question are disappointed with his answer. It's as if they want oil to run out.

BTW, CERA's testimony before Congress on 12/7/05 (Regarding total liquids):,,7777,00.html


Are we running out of oil? CERA's belief is that the world is not running out of oil imminently or in the near to medium term. Indeed, CERA projects that world oil production capacity has the potential to rise from 87 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2005 to as much as 108 mbd by 2015. After 2015 we see further growth in capacity. Our outlook contradicts those who believe that peak oil is imminent.

Hello Westexas,

Yergin Day at $76/barrel--terrific idea!  Hopefully the MSM will ask him for comments on how he was so wrong for so long.

I have no idea when the very last pint of crude oil will be extracted, but if we continue our present course it will be pretty obvious what that last pint is exchanged for: a traveling flintrock trader will use it to grease the wooden axle on his overloaded oxen-cart!

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

Stephen Leeb in his book The Coming Economic Collapse says that Yergin 1n the late 70's or early 80's said that oil prices would rise....forget for how long but basically he was off the mark.

Cant find the page number now since the book has been lent to a friend.


That's quite a novel technique -- actually calling and talking to the author of the study! Too bad that more of us don't stoop to use such an effective technique, preferring instead to make crazy assertions. :)

I think they call your technique good old journalism.

Pretty good article in Monday's Wall Street Journal (front page, below the fold) on gasoline demand:

As Gasoline Prices Soar, Americans Resist Major Cuts in Consumption

Some excerpts (quoted paragraphs are not all contiguous in the original article):

High prices do have some effect, but prices would have to be higher than they are today -- and would have to stay high for a long time -- to meaningfully curb gasoline consumption by the nation's massive fleet of cars and trucks, which accounts for about 10% of global oil use.

At the margins, there are some signs that high gasoline prices may be starting to alter consumer behavior. Traditionally, gasoline use in the U.S. rises about 1.5% each year. But in three of the six months from September -- immediately following the Gulf Coast hurricanes -- through February, gasoline consumption fell compared with a year earlier, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the three months in which it grew, it never rose by more than 0.4%. Yet in March, as gasoline prices soared, demand appeared to return to more-robust levels, growing by 1%, according to preliminary data.

Research suggests it takes years for higher gas prices to meaningfully damp consumption. Opinions differ, but many experts say that, in the short term, the "price elasticity" of U.S. gasoline use is as low as 0.1. That means gas prices have to rise 10% to produce an initial 1% drop in demand.

The oil industry also is betting that a change is under way. Exxon Mobil Corp. says it believes that, by 2030, hybrid gasoline-and-electric cars and light trucks will account for nearly 30% of new-vehicle sales in the U.S. and Canada. That surge is part of a broader shift toward fuel efficiency that Exxon thinks will cause fuel consumption by North American cars and light trucks to peak around 2020 -- and then start to fall.

"For that reason, we wouldn't build a grassroots refinery" in the U.S., Rex Tillerson, Exxon's chairman and chief executive, said in a recent interview. Exxon has continued to expand the capacity of its existing refineries. But building a new refinery from scratch, Exxon believes, would be bad for long-term business.

Unfortanately, a paid subscription is required, but the article will probably be at tomorrow or Wednesday.

Brilliant find, and backs up what has been postulated and discussed here previously, that is US gasoline demand is largely inelastic and no significant "demand destruction" will not occur in a meaningful manner until prices reach a precipitously high level.
The Los Angeles Times' main page 1 headline this morning reads:

High Gas Prices Will Last Years, Bush Aides Say,1,3546019.story

"WASHINGTON -- Gasoline prices will remain high for years to come and will be largely unaffected by a new White House plan to bring them down, Bush administration officials said Sunday.

"Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said the United States faced an oil price 'crisis' because surging demand from such countries as China and India had outstripped supply, and he predicted that it would be 'two to three years before suppliers are in a position to meet the demands.'"

I've noticed this story line appearing more often lately. Gas prices are high and are going to stay there, but only for a couple of years. New supplies are in the pipeline but it will take a while for them to get into production and make a difference. Starting around 2008 we will see major increases in production and get back into an "oil glut", with markedly lower prices.

I don't know how much these projections are wishful thinking versus being based on credible scenarios, but I guess we'll find out in about three years.

They must have been reading my blog. :) That's what I have been saying for a long time.


It's kind of the standard line from industry in general (now that "it will fall back below $35 before the end of 2005" has been exhausted).
I don't know how much these projections are wishful thinking versus being based on credible scenarios, but I guess we'll find out in about three years.

I would not be surprised if, two to three years from now, we will be told that it will be "two to three years before suppliers are in a position to meet the demands."

That said, one can interpret Bodman's comments as an astute way of suggesting that we start to "make other arrangements," as Kunstler is so fond of saying.

I love that three year figure. Problems will be solved by 2009.  By some other president.

Seriously, there are only two viable scenarios that will make  gasoline cheaper than today.  

  1. We fix the price at some predetermined amount and ration out gasoline usage.
  2. Our economy and our neighbors have gone into such a tailspin that oil demand is well below the maximum amount geologically possible.  Think the russian analogy.

Outside of those two, there wont be any relief in 2009.  Well maybe not having W presidenting...
HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 25 -- How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? Well, consider this: at a supermarket near the center of this tatterdemalion capital, toilet paper costs $417.

No, not per roll. Four hundred seventeen Zimbabwean dollars is the value of a single two-ply sheet. A roll costs $145,750 -- in American currency, about 69 cents.

The price of toilet paper, like everything else here, soars almost daily, spawning jokes about an impending better use for Zimbabwe's $500 bill, now the smallest in circulation.

 A while back, in another thread, someone mentioned the investment potential of toilet paper. It didn't really click until I read the above from the May 2nd NYT.
Hello BOP,

I have been posting about Zimbabwe for several years in the Yahoo:AlasBabylon forum.  This is stagflation optimized--totally worthless currency and 80% unemployment rate with millions starving.  Yet Pres. Mugabe is still paying off his country's IMF debts.

I think the same scenario will occur in the US--'helicopter Ben' Bernanke [Fed Chairman] showering us with million dollar bills for us to use as toilet paper while the real assets go overseas to the creditors.  Our children will have every reason to be disappointed with how we have mismanaged their financial future.

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

It isnt "our" financial future, its "their" financial future they are managing, and its an important point. We have a fiat currency, a banking cartel, and capitalism.........this is not and never has been a "free market". Basic monopoly game rules are in effect, the guy with biggest empire at the end wins period and the rules of the game are both manipulated and rigged in their favor. If they have to drain every resource on the planet mineral or human in the process then so be it. IMHO, chance are good that peak oil will do nothing more than cause a crash of the current system followed by a shake up in the the elite uber rich running the show then it will be back to business as usual with those same people in charge yet again. Same story has been played out countless times thru history, the scale just keeps getting bigger.

Inflation is an insidious way for the banking cartel to do exactly what they are in business to do, take your energy and money away from you and make money doing essentially nothing.

Thank you pedex. Eloquently phrased. Hope you dont mind if I post that on my little blog.

I dont mind if you put it in your blog, just credit pedex if asked.



Would that also be the source of the 80 billion barrels that I posted on before? I am quite interested what people think of this claim, made by what appears to be a US governmental service, judging from the domainname.

"The MMS estimates that the quantity of undiscovered technically recoverable resources ranges from 66.6 to 115.3 billion barrels of oil and 326.4 to 565.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The mean or average estimate is 85.9 billion barrels of oil and 419.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. These volumes of UTRR for the OCS represent about 60 percent of the total oil and 40 percent of the total natural gas estimated to be contained in undiscovered fields in the United States. The mean estimates for both oil and gas increased about 15 percent compared to the 2001 assessment. For the oil resources, the vast majority of this increase occurred in the deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico, while for gas resources the majority of the increase was in deep gas plays located beneath the shallow water shelf of the Gulf of Mexico."

Hello P,

Excellent find!  If true, could keep the US as a dominant economic and military power for years, but could also really juice the global warming effects unless this carbon was sequestered.  Burned incorrectly: the massive and numerous hurricanes will probably make GoM production extremely seasonal.  

I will leave it to the TOD experts as to whether this report is a MilGov scam or actually true.

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

NPR has Experts Ponder Peak of Global Oil Production with both Simmons and Yergin today.