Friday Open Thread

Thread away.

[editor's note, by Yankee] You know it can't be good when you find out about something because of a blog post entitled "I could feel Yankee's head exploding as I watched it". Tonight, 20/20 had a "special" called "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity" (brought to us by that paragon of journalistic integrity, John Stossel). Myth #10 is "Are we really running out of oil or are we just lazy in our gathering methods?". If you have it in you, you can watch the webcast.

So we've been in the $70s for a while now. Has it become "normal" yet? People seem to get used to everything (sadly - I wish they'd react faster)...
It occurred to me last week $70 is the new $50.  We can now hear stories of plunging prices when it goes from $72.5 to $71.
With the price of a barrel over $70, we are now exporting over a Billion dollars per day for oil.  Wow!
Yes $70 is the new $50, no more remarks on it on the radio, etc.   - except if it goes down a buck we'll hear about oil prices "plunging".

I was hanging out at the Barefoot Coffee Roastery or some damn name, in San Jose (which means probably Santa Clara) and it's next to a Bed Bath & Beyond, (f*ck yeah!) and the impatient SUV mommas going in and out and having near-misses with each other made for a pretty hilarious show.

I wouldn't call a micro-car which is not street-legal, holds one small-framed person and averages 18 MPH anything but a curiosity.  I could do better than that with deep-cycle batteries and a hub motor or two.
I already do better. I call my super-fuel efficient vehicle
a "bicycle". I'm gonna get around to trademarking that name
someday. And unlike that 8,000 mpg hat-box, the bicycle will
travel uphill as well.

I'd love to see the 8,000 mpg vehicle survive a snowy winter
and a blazing hot summer. No AC or heat, cramped up in a tiny
box. Good luck.

We need a new mindset, not an unpleasant little box in which to
squeeze our bodies. Take that cage and shove it.

The laws have to change. We have to start by dropping the concept of "street legal".

We shouldn't have to license a canoe. (at least in my state)

You get the picture.

The picture I get is one of mad-max style vehicles without
any exhaust controls spewing tons of blue/black smoke into
the atmosphere. I like controls on what motorized vehicles
can be driven on a road.

I have to agree though that a human powered vehicle, such
as a canoe, should not require a license.

I think they require a license to make them more difficult to steal.
not only are they spewing crap they coded the page that makes it a pain to go back a page on their site..
The New York Times has a story today that starts with an anecdote about a housekeeper at a Miami hotel who has a 60-mile commute to work that she makes with a Toyota 4Runner. She can't afford to drive anywhere on weekends because her fillup costs $60, and she needs that money for the commute.
As many drivers struggle to cope with soaring fuel prices, working-class people like Ms. Lopez who commute long distances to their jobs are suffering the most. In many cases, they had moved far away from major metropolitan areas to be able to afford decent houses. Now, paradoxically, the cost of gas is making the distance prohibitively expensive.
Paradoxically? How is that a paradox? People have been using cheap fuel to get to cheap land ever since the dawn of suburbia. Now that gasoline is expensive, the whole thing is expensive. It seems pretty straightforward to me.
Definition of Paradox:

  1. A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true: the paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.
  2. One exhibiting inexplicable or contradictory aspects: "The silence of midnight, to speak truly, though apparently a paradox, rung in my ears" (Mary Shelley).
  3. An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises.
  4. A statement contrary to received opinion.

Yeah, I don't see a paradox - more like short-sighted planning that ended up being penny-wise and pound foolish.

Maybe "an expensive commute" it is a statement contrary to received opinion - or I should say, was.
Guy says oil is incredibly abundant throughout the planet but a war in the mideast could cause it to go to $500 a barrel.... now that's a paradox.
People have been using cheap fuel to get to cheap land ever since the dawn of suburbia. Now that gasoline is expensive, the whole thing is expensive.

And one can only hope that 'rural' land becomes far cheaper.

Like $500 and acre VS $7000 an acre for the same land.

I just saw this at the gym.  If it is any consolation, my head exploded as well.
Luckily you keep that spare in the jar nearby.
Actually, I have people who follow me around collecting the pieces...

(These explosions seem to be occurring a little more frequently than I'd like to admit of late...snicker)

The part that blew my mind the most was how it was so exactly what Kunstler has been predicting for years. There's like a one-year time lag between what Kunstler predicts will happen and what the Times reports is actually happening. From CFN of April 4, 2005:
the whole nation -- including many enviro-progressives, by the way -- have bought into the notion that, whatever else reality offers, we are entitled to a life of easy motoring and Ditech Miracle Mortgages, and an awful lot of people are going to lose their personal revenue streams when that illusion falls away.
From The NYT, today:
The increase in gas prices comes at a time when many Americans of modest means are already finding themselves squeezed by increased insurance costs, wages that have not kept pace with inflation, and the rising pressure of adjustable rate mortgages.
well, ms-nbc did keep plugging their "most forwarded" video yesterday morning ... holding it out before each commercial to keep viewers in their seats.

it was a video on bicycle commuting, companies offering bicycle commuting rewards ($100/month, that buys a nice bike), and cities getting on board.

it think it's a win that this was on cable news, and even more that they thought it was a high-value teaser.

IMO, this is more evidence of the "Iron Triangle" at work.  

The housing/auto/finance industries want to keep selling and financing large homes and autos.

The MSM wants to keep selling advertising for large homes/autos/loans.

(Some) major oil companies, major exporters and energy analysts provide the intellectual ammunition--in support of the concept of infinite growth against a finite resource base.  

BTW, did you notice that whenever the cornucopians talk about the tar sands, they talk about reserves, and not production rates.  It's a good bet that there will be a lot of MSM references to the Stossel segment.

So, who do Americans prefer to listen to--Peter Huber, who says go ahead and buy the SUV and large home and continue with your commute, or people that tell Americans  to cut back, live below their means, and live very simply?

Boone Pickens, who has been deadly accurate regarding oil prices, gave a speech in Dallas this week.  He said that he was a "Peaker," but he was not giving a Peak Oil speech.  As I expected, the MSM ignored the speech, which was a sellout.

Instead of covering the speech, the Dallas Morning News the next morning had excerpts of an interview the former chief economist for ExxonMobil, who professed "amazement" that oil prices were still so high.  She opined that it was just a matter of time until oil prices fell sharply.

On some level, one actually has to have some sympathy for Americans' outrage over gasoline prices.  If we have infinite oil reserves, then high gasoline prices must be the result of a conspiracy.  

I don't see much of a difference between most of the MSM (regarding Peak Oil) and Enron executives (regarding their business plan).  In both cases, their business model is and was dependent on deceiving the American people regarding the truth.

Is there a place to see a transcript of Boone Picken's speech? He's generally very realistic and has a good read on the situation, although fro a consevative prospective.
In addition to saying oil will hit $80 before $60 this past week, a recent new story quoted him as follows:

May 3, 2006
Energy tycoon Pickens says to expect $4 a gallon soon
Don Mecoy
The Daily Oklahoman

May 3--Boone Pickens, who has made millions predicting energy prices, said American consumers shouldn't expect to see cheaper gasoline anytime soon, and shortly could be paying quite a bit more.

"We're going to see $4 gasoline this summer," Pickens said. And motorists likely never will pay less than $2 for a gallon of gasoline, the Texas energy investor said.

Pickens, an Oklahoma native who founded Mesa Petroleum in 1956 and now runs energy investment funds, appeared at a luncheon Tuesday before business leaders to discuss the energy industry's support of fine arts.

Strife in several oil-producing nations could constrict supplies and send prices soaring, Pickens said. Meanwhile, there is little that could boost supplies and cut prices, he said.

I didn't notice any mention of Morales and Chavez at the EU energy conference today here at TOD, tho' it was up on my Google news first thing..  As the two leaders apparently preached to 'the club' about restarting socialism in their countries, there was some rhetoric about 'Populism' that I don't think I get all the meaning of..  is it more or less a euphemism for Socialism/Communism at this point, or is it enough to say that the EU leaders are quite openly poo-poohing any semblance of 'worrying about the polls' from the general public, as they protect the status-quo (and good luck with that)

"The Mexican President Vicente Fox said that the populism in Latin America is "one of the big obstacles to growth and development", offering people "false" hopes of escaping poverty.

"And the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that "we are a Europe against populist tendencies."

"Behind the scenes diplomats were working to try to defuse the crisis over energy in Latin Amercia, where European firms including British Gas, British Petroleum and Spain's Repsol have massive investments.

How do y'all see this playing out?  I can't see the G7 letting this stand, tho' I'm not against it personally..
(The "8th G" would be Russia, right?)

Step 1
The third world dictatorship (any one of the last three hundred or so) sells a national resource or bond issue to a European fence, usually a bank.
Step 2
The third world dictatorship steals the money and deposits it in a European bank. At first British, then Swiss or Luxemburg or Liechtenstein, now a colony like the Cayman Islands.
Step 3
A new government takes over and nationalises the resource or defaults on the bonds, and the US makes getting more "foreign aid" or "military assistance" contingent on repayment of the bonds or privitisation of the resource, or attacks the third world country.

But now the US is broke and out of troops. Bolivia is not going to repay the bond issue and is going to nationalise the resource. It won't be the last third world country to do this.

The Mexican President Vicente Fox said that the populism in Latin America is "one of the big obstacles to growth and development", offering people "false" hopes of escaping poverty.

Bah. This from a leader who has escaped exactly the same populist movements by virtue of being able to allow 10-12 million workers to head north into the US. Remittances from workers in the US to Mexico now exceed the revenue that Mexico recieves for its oil exports to the US.

Those same remittances are now Mexico's leading source of revenue.
STOSSEL But people are our greatest wealth. More people is a good thing. .....and....MYTH: DDT causes all kinds of cancers, and nearly wiped out every bird in the world. TRUTH: DDT saves lives.

oy vey! comment on this stuff?....well i did find some stuff on ethanol-corn, if we haven't beaten this topic to death.. in business week online is an article on ethanol production boosting corn prices in th u.s., in which i found this tidbit
The amount of corn used to make ethanol should increase by 34 percent over last year's use to 2.15 billion bushels, the department said Friday in its monthly crop report.

....o.k. that's interesting...but how much does that 2.15 billion bushels represent? i found this info on the daily website:
Production is expected to total 10.550 billion bushels with 11.645 billion bushels of total use., we're using ~20% of the corn crop already to produce ethanol, and we're growing usage at 34% a year. and of course we're only using the most marginal land to do it,not!... now that's scarier than john stossel.
John Stossel has no validity in my mind.  

In my Macroeconomics class senior year of high school, the teacher played a recorded special episode of 20/20 by Stossel along the lines of Greed is Good (I would like to mention, btw, that this teacher, who'd spoke of his support of IP, broke several IP laws by doing this.)  Stossel rants on and on about how greed drives the economy towards innovation, growth, etc, which is for the most part true, but he fell completely to the "growth is eternal" mindset and forgot the endgame, which is unlimited competition for the Earth's very limited resources.  In forgetting this, he completely ignored the Tragedy of the Commons, which is for me basis of my resistance  to pursuing greed as a good human virtue.  I'm also willing to admit, however, that in very heated competition, I'd want to secure the most resources as I could for myself and my family.  

Anyway, yea..  Stossel is very agitating.

What about his comments on flood insurance?


you get

"Editor's note: John Stossel? The corporate PR flak masquerading as a journalist?!  That was my first reaction when a reader sent us this article as a suggested "editor's pick." After reading it, we've got to credit Stossel for openly admitting his participation in one of our country's lesser-known tax scams."

(educational use which is not for profit and does not affect the market for a work probably falls under Fair Use.)
this gets me so steamed...for those of you unfamiliar with the u.s. mid-west, if you click on the marginal link above, you can see the corn producing areas.southern minnesota,iowa,illinois, indiana,western ohio....this is our best farmland...deep soils, lots of moisture,temperate climate,hot,humid summers,long growing season...and increasingly used to grow a crop that has a marginally positive EROEI...and this is the best we can come up with to solve our energy problems.....step on it sidney!, i'm late for yoga!
Should Brazil and the US from a single country ?

It has been widely noted that the energy return on corn is negative while that of sugar cane is positive unfortunalty the climate of the United States is not e  to the growth of sugar cane a solution is to burn the large amounts of coal reserves until the climate becomes semi-tropical in most of the US thus allowing the growth of sugar cane within the us.

And alternative would be to tie the US deeply to our South American neigbhors notatable brazil to create a huge self sufficient economy.

Unifiying Brazil and the US makes for a increadibly dynamic and intresting 21'th century country.

Not to mention that Brazilian chicks are smoking hot.  ...and it would bode very well for our chances in the World Cup.  

Win-Win! about samba and carnaval?
My wife ( tell's me that the US has already made attempts in the past to trade area and land of Brazil for loans.  Thank you God this was declined.  Brazilian people on the whole are very mellow, I would'nt want to change this character for any amount of money.  
This didn't make my head explode, though it did tingle a bit --

Here in NZ, Channel Three ran a poll of 1000 people.  45% said they planned to change their driving habits because of high petrol prices.  The story was framed by a couple who gave up their car and took the bus or walked or rode everywhere.   A number of statistics were brandished, some of them quite encouraging.  Looks like the people are starting to get it.


The government, which funds roading (road building, expansion, and maintenance) from petrol taxes, is planning to shift funds from the current budget to cover the shortfall in roading projects because of decreased driving.

So, no matter whether people use the roads, the government will continue to fund them.

And to the extent that asphalt is made from oil, the costs of road maintenance and expansion will go up as the price of oil goes up.
Nope, asphalt is the bottom fraction of oil. The heavier the oil (I simplify), the more asphalt. We have plenty of tar sands.
That depends. More and more refineries are installing cokers, which will eliminate the asphalt. The asphalt market is already beginning to tighten up a bit.


Sorry, this is a little off topic but it's something I've been thinking about recently.
If TSHTF how possible will it be to maintain the internet, and for how long?
The internet seems to me to be one of the greatest achievements of this era and allows me to learn about peak oil here in Japan and is an amazing resource for learning about sustainability, composting, organic farming, natural medicine and pretty much everything else.  The internet seems to me like something that would become even more valuable as we face some sort of power down.
Unfortunately the Internet relies on huge telcos for it's existence and a massive infrastructure, not to mention large amounts of electricity.  On a local scale we can do a lot to mitigate the likely consequences of peak oil - another poster mentioned ELP, Economise, localise, produce.  But can anything be done to maintain our connections to the outside World or will we be thrust back to the dark ages and ignorance of the what goes on outside of our local areas?
Hello Boccaccio,

The WWWeb will shortly be transformed whereby blogs like TOD will be sooo slooow to download that most of us will give up in frustration.  See these links:,0,4559120.story

Additionally, rising energy prices will eventually make websurfing unaffordable for most of us--the essentials of life will cost so much that we will not have the decretionary funds to spend computering.

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

Nope, the internet is going to be priced by bandwidth. Movies will get more expensive, but the text and still pictures we use are so cheap that they are barely worth charging for.
Of course, they might slap a tax on bandwidth that would be arranged so that your megabit per second movie has it's price doubled, but your kilobit per second blog has it's price increased one thousand fold. They can use this new rate schedule as a cover for another tax increase.
With this government, what do you think is going to happen?
ut the text and still pictures we use are so cheap that they are barely worth charging for.

And the producers of popular text sites ARE going to get hit in the pocketbook.

I am reassured that almost any computer with a modem and a very simple terminal program will still be able to network across phone lines the 'old fashioned' way, too, and can also be set up for 'packet radio' comm's.  I get the picture of the 'Dog Telegraph' from 1001 Dalmations, or the bonfire signals in the Lord of the Rings.  Nothing like we're using right now, but at least the tools are available and ubiquitous.  Versions of the internet could go underground if they had to.

 My only foray into Solar so far has been to keep my office running if the power went out.  (not as likely from Politics as from weather, but as the Prez says, 'Everything is staying on the table')  I'm looking to other alternates for cooking and refrigeration, but electricity is invaluable for communications, control and lighting functions.


Major problem with this is that content producers like myself (6,000-8,000/visits a day at LATOC) are totally dumbasses when it comes to this fancy-smancy stuff you proposed.

This is why I joke about having my handy sandwich board ready. It may come down to that.

I'm also working on learning how to beat drums. That's how our ancestors communicated across distance.




I think I will go the carrier pigeon route for my future communication purposes.

But wait...then there's the dreaded bird flu...hmmmm...I wonder if I could train hamsters to carry messages for me.

I hear you, Alpha..  I'm not a programmer, either. (But my Brother is..)  I'd say just try not to piss off the IT guys you know too bad.  Make 'em a sandwich or two on that shingle and they'll hook you up.

Thing that's so great about data communications, is that you can send and massively duplicate not only the messages, but the programs that let a PC do such a broad array of tasks as finding new ways of sending that message.  You don't have to invent this software any more than you have to write an MP3 plug-in for your toaster.. Somebody out there is already beta-testing v.2.1.1, and if it's meeting a need, then it is spreading like, well, bird-flu out there, and somebody in your circle will get it to you, just so you'll explain Malthus to him again.  It's like Whitney's Cotton gin (with those interchangable parts) on Speed, which is why I'm pretty sure we will find a way not to let this technology go.

I'm not thinking that Tech will 'come to our rescue'.. but it's a very powerful set of tools, and the developments that communicate over this medium also have the advantages of 'Accelerated, Unnatural Selection', if you will, where ideas can move quickly through a lot of people, getting tested, modified and either improved or eliminated as people see their usefulness.  There's lots of feedback, and yes, lots of hash and bull as well, but I think it gives us a chance to get ideas that are succeeding out there where others can try them and build on them..

As far as Dogs go, well, I'm talking to you all on the internet, right?  For all I know, you ARE all dogs..

The question on my mind is: what about the hardware. How long do servers & laptops etc. last? How often do they need replacement parts? The factories that make chips and disk drives are super high tech, requiring huge investment. If consumer demand takes a hit, the semiconductor business could really get hammered. The existing factories ought to be able to run for a few years, but as their machinery starts to break, they'd better have the money to fix it.

The most interesting question beneath this is, can we gracefully degrade the technology to adapt to a changing market place, or are they racheting type mechanisms in play, so we can't go back the way we came. In which case, what possibilities to adapt might there be?

they will last only as long as the hard drives last which is on average of 2 to 5 years depending on how they are used.
That is a key question in a whole range of industries.  Will we start to change the 'Planned Obsolescence' model of manufacturing into one where consumers, making a heavy investment in any material purchase, will start looking for products that last and can be self-serviced (to some degree)

Electric Cars seem to be much easier to maintain than Internal Combustion vehicles, which is viewed as part of their early 'retirement' in the Auto Industry's fleet (Newest issue of HomePower makes this claim, haven't seen 'Who Killed the electric car?' yet.)

The discussion on "Moore's Law" mentioned the advantage that the lower-power CPU's had over the 'racecars', with the limitations of cooling.  I think this will be a lynchpin in computer longevity, that of starting to 'underclock' our CPU's so that they don't burn out as fast. (Not that I've ever seen one of mine fry,but we're talking long-term life of a computer..)  This downgrading might be illegal in the court of Moore. Fortunately, I never studied Law.

HardDrives are often the only constantly moving essential part in a computer (save the Keys, Fans and Mouse), but we have solid state memory that can serve growing purposes in this regard.  Again, like with Solar and Wind, the proposal is not offered to replace the full capacity we now enjoy.  This is looking towards operating within a curtailed expectation of volume, througput, what-have-you- compared to our current feasting.

Personally, I own an old Palmtop from HP (200LX) that is essentially an 8088 IBM-clone in a checkbook-sized case which has served me steadily now for 10-1/2 years without so much as a reboot, much less an Operating System upgrade or reinstall.  It runs on two AA batts, which I recharge every 2 weeks or so.  It is up and running instantly on flash memory, and can run Lotus, Quicken, most DOS pgms you want to install, and talks via a PC card or Infrared or wired serial connection.  It's dead simple, but can talk through a modem (text only, but that's all I'm doing right now..), backup all data to an external flash card, and seems extremely hardy.  

I don't think it's impossible.. and I don't think we'll see the end of chip manufacturing, either.  It, like all things, will just have to change with the times.


interesting that you independantly arrive at the "dog" metaphor.  i'm not sure if that's what the originators were thinking when they named it, but i remember "fidonet" from the old days:

the modern wireless version (conceived but not built?) is a mesh radio network covering broad area:

I work in the semiconductor industry, so I have certainly given some thought to where it might be headed in the next five to twenty years.

One curious thing: the semiconductor business is governed by Moore's Law, which is really quite similar to Hubbert's Law. Except Moore's is a straight exponential, with no consideration about limits. Just like people have predicted that petroleum will run out but it never actually seems to, or that food will, similarly people are always predicting that we'll hit the limit to Moore's Law, but we never seem to. Chips today are still getting smaller and faster.

Need I add, the fact that petroleum production and food production have continued to expand for decades or centuries doesn't imply they'll continue to do so for the next few decades or centuries, and there's no such implication for chips either.

The wild thing is that Moore's Law may be hitting the wall right about the same time as petroleum. Strange coincidence. One good symptom of this is all the multi-core chips coming out. A single processor twice as fast is unquestionably preferable to two processors. But if you can't figure out how to make the fast processor, you do what you can.

The whole Moore's Law business is quite a remarkable phenomenon. It's a feedback loop of course. The basic elements are manufacturing R&D investment, and consumer demand. It's quite something to look at the price of a cutting edge chip factory, how that has increased over the years. I don't know the exact numbers, but it costs something like a billion (10**9) dollars to build a factory. The whole game with chips is volume. Designing chips is also very expensive. The first chip off the line costs like ten million dollars maybe, and the next hundred thousand chips cost like fifty dollars each. So the whole game is to sell lots & lots, to amortize the cost of the factory and the designing of the chip.

These kinds of feedback loops can run both ways, of course. If volume goes down, then price has to go up to cover the investments. OUCH! That is not a stable equilibrium! If consumers stop buying so many cell phones and iPods and HDTVs and automobiles (amazing amount of electronics in an automobile) etc. etc. - not impossible to imagine a kind of bubble bursting collapse.

The dot com bust actually had a bit of this character. Some of it might just have been all the investment in Y2K precautions... then nobody needed a new machine for a few years. Semiconductors have long been a cyclic industry - driven a lot by successive waves of new technology - but the 2001-2003 period was a whole new size of pothole to fall into.

It's a curious puzzle for sure, how all this might play out.  


Excellent!  I am soooo glad you opened up this topic, because it relates DIRECTLY to the energy situation, and even more so to alternatives.

First, Moore's Law was around long before Moore!  He simply systemized and named it, but it is the exact phenomenon that got us the fossil fuel era in the first place.

To read the history of the birth of the electric motor, or of the early days of the automobile is a poetic expression of this  (by the way, does ANYBODY read or study the history of technology these days?  It is a poetic story, surprising and ranks right up there with the liberal arts as a mind expanding study, try it!)

Take electric motors.  In the old days of industry (the birthing period 1830-1875), textile mills were the idealized  version of modernism.  They had moved quickly from water wheel power (some are still museums on our own East coast), to steam.  But how to distribute the power?  In the first years, it was done by "line shaft", with the steam engine driving a driveline that ran down the ceiling of the work area.  pulleys and belts were used to transmit the power from the main line shaft to the individual machines used to do the work.  This was dangerous, as people could (and did) get tangled into the belts and pully arrangement, and dismembered or killed.  It was also high maintenence, as the belts had to be constantly maintained and or replaced to make sure they were tight and not going "slack" (our name "slackers" has an industrial basis).  

Then the revolution.  Based on the work of such people as Clark Maxwell, Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry, it became obvious that electric motors and generators would work (circa 1831)  But it would be the better part of 60 more years before they became a large contributor to industry.  A young Albert Einstein's father, Hermann, ran an electrical technology business, giving Albert an early introduction to the power of science.  What he did was sold electric motors in the late 1800's.  But it was a hard sell, and Hermann Einstein was always on the edge of bankruptcy.  Most industrialists said of their tried and true steam plant and line shaft that you only needed one steam engine, one engine to care for and fuel.  What the electric industry was asking was that a plant buy a motor for each machine!!  It was sheer lunacy to think that such a scheme would work!  And not only that, the plant would have to convert the machanical power of steam to electricity through this strange contraption, a "generator" to power the machines, and then convert it BACK to mechanical power!  The loses in such conversions must use up the power put into the machines, it could never work, it made no thermodynamic sense!  Electric motors were still expensive, new fangled and untried.  Why risk anything on technology like that?  Never mind the complexity of switches, controllers, ballests, transformers...what a hair brained scheme!  And the "electrons" could not even be seen!   How could you know if it was working right?  Albert Einstein himself, upon toying with his fathers parts and magnets was overcome by the magic of what he called "action at a distance", the forces of magnetism and electronic would lead him on one of the greatest quests in history.

The rest as they say is history.  A fun game is to count the number of electric motors on your property right motors, refridgerator, washng machine, and even tiny ones in electric shavers, VCR's, electric toothbrushes, disc drives in computers, DVD's and CD's...but wait, don't leave out your car.....power window motors, starter motors, electric antenna, alternator (from Nikola Tesla's GREAT breakthrough, alternating current), electric seat motors, more heater fans, windshield wipers, CD player...a modern car can have more than a dozen electric motors on one vehicle!

 Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry could not have imagined that their motors, once considered complex, expensive, and almost magical, would one day be so common that mankind has left them on the moon and on Mars!
It would be as much science fiction to them as "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" is to us.  Just think of the scales achieved...there are electric motors that are two or three stories tall....and now through nano technology, some as small as the head of a pin, that can be swallowed by a human as easily as an aspirin.
How is this possible?  Moore's law.  
And make no mistake, Moore's law is coming to electic solar cells, to high density batteries, to fuel cells and windmills.  They could someday be built in the hundreds of millions (there are certainly more electric motors in the U.S. that there are people) and ranging in size from that of an insect to bigger than Hoover dam.  Imagine a factory building hundreds of thousands of tiny windmills that will fasten to the top of telephone and electric poles so cheaply that they are a marginal cost, but keep current in the wire whether or not current is coming from the base generating cells buried in translucent paint on cars, or worn in jackets to provide communication and information power....a fuel cell under the floor of a motorhome that silently keeps it air conditioned and electrified....batteries so powerful, small and cheap that they can power a plug hybrid car, with the only fossil fuel onboard being a small cartridge about the size of text book that you plug in and exchange to refuel, filled with hydrogen, propane, on natural gas, butane, or (??) and you don't have to change it more than six to twelve times a year...about as often as you know pay a shop to change your oil!

Technically, it can be done.  The question is, do we want to see it done?

The modern age is far from over.  Unless, we want to see it over.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

One primary issue though is capital.  While technology spreads well in an expanding (with minor blips) economy, how well will it spread in a contracting, energy-deprived economy.  Can the fed still leverage itself (above and beyond its current $8.3 trillion debt and $400 billion deficit to which hundreds of billions will be added each year as interest rates on the debt climb)to commit meaningful capital to a total restructuring of our energy system?  Can private business do so as fuel costs strip away already razor-thin margins and business cannot pass costs to consumers who are spending what little discretionary income they have left on gas and heating oil (and increased food costs and increased mortgage costs)?
One primary issue though is capital.  

As long as the system where dollars (or yen or whatever fiat currency) is used as a marker, then yes.

But such a system is flawed.  How can electrical power from a wind turbine, photovoltatic cells, coal, oil gass hydro and nuclear all cost the same?   Where is the 'pricing' of depletion of the resource?  Or for the waste product?

Using a different marker system like gold, labor or even energy have been suggested.

ThatsItImout -

You ask if anyone reads or studies the history of technology these days.  Well, I do. And in fact I consider myself to be somewhat of an amateur scholar on certain aspects of the subject.

By the way, if you don't already, you might want to subscribe to 'Invention & Technology', a quarterly publication put out by American Heritage.

Regarding advances in technology, yes, many of the things we take for granted today were once considered impossible or unfeasible.

However, there is also a flip-side to that. Many of the speculations about the 'World of Tomorrow' that were made during those mythical 1950s now appear quaint and or even outright ludicrous. For example, there was an article in either Popular Science or Mechanix Illustrated during the early 1950s that predicted by the year 2000 we'd all be commuting to work in our own  atomic-powered personal aircraft. Well, the concept of an atomic plane didn't get very far, did it (even though the Pentagon pissed away many millions trying to make one)?

One has to realize that that not everything that can be envisioned is possible. For a variety of reasons many things turn out to be technological dead ends, never to advance any further.  It's not alway easy to predict which things will be winners and which will be losers, but it's important to recognize that there are far more technological losers than winners. The trick is telling the difference ahead of time.

I'm not sure the comparison is valid. Chip speeds are currently being limited by physics, but a breakthrough in - say - silicon lasers could restart the speed race.

Oil on the other hand is being limited by geology and no "breakthroughs" are likely there.

The other factor to consider is that speeds don't peak, they plateau .... assuming no breakthroughs top speeds for Intel-class chips are still likely to be around the 3.5/4ghz mark, not lower.

I agree with Real Mike ---Moore's Law (the observation that number of transistors per chip doubles every 18 months) has absolutely no correspondence to Peak Oil (Hubbert curve).

First, in the chip industry, transistor sizes are shrinking --meaning less silicon being consumed per transistor and also less metal for interconnecting the more closely squeezed together transistors, plus faster switching speed due to decreased channel lengths (OK, you're flushing us Silicon Valley nerds out into the spotlight with this comment line).

By contrast, we are not getting the same improvement rates out of oil --i.e., number of MPG are not doubling every 2 years, and length of roadway covered by people is not shrinking by exponential rates. Also, advances in photolithography are not applicable to oil. We are talking apples and orangutangs when trying to compare semiconductors to petroleum.  Nice try, but not at all the same thing.

(Right click and View Image for bigger)

No, sorry, Moore's law has been broken for a year and a half now.  What's happened is the chip manufacturers are starting to hit the thermal dissipation limit (which is around 100 GHz).  What they've found is that super-duper cooling systems are simply too expensive and complex to maintain.  How many people here have a water cooling system for your computer?

AMD is handling this better than Intel because they have a 64-bit processor and they have historically run much lower clock speeds.  I have an Athlon-64 3200+ which runs at 2.0 Ghz and consumes 13 Watts at idle.  In comparison some of the 3.0+ GHz Pentiums, which actually have less processing power, consume 80+ Watts.  Intel may just turn their more efficient laptop processor into a desktop (if they haven't already).  

Rather than try to increase processor speed any further both companies have stopped and are starting to add more arithmetic and logic units to their machines, to give them more parallel processing capacity.  

A lot of overclockers install liquid cooling systems on their processors (and video cards), to dissipate the vastly increased thermal load.
Just as robbmcleod stated, for several years now Moore's Law, at least in terms of the personal computer, has been nullified. Attempts to improve CPU chip architecture have largely stalled, and instead most gains have come from simply ramping up processor clock speed.  Waste heat dissipation is becoming the major stumbling block to this approach, needless to say.
And here's some good news - end of the road for the Hummer H1.

Since the first Hummer H1 lurched off the production line, 12,000 have been sold but sales were down 16% last year.

In a nation obsessed with the price of motoring, perhaps this kind of conspicuous consumption - even if it could be afforded by the owners - seemed tasteless, our correspondent suggests.
The bad news is that all the spare production capacity is to be used for military vehicles.
Stossel grew up as fat kid who stuttered. He corrected his weight problem and his stuttering, but now makes up for it by lashing out at everyone who did him wrong.

Peter Huber looks like an acne-scarred adolescent who has his own inner rage problems.

How's that for 5-cent philosophizing? I've now essentially stooped down to their level.

Isn't Stossel one of the stars of supposedly left-wing Air America Radio? It seems I'm hearing him a bunch on there, inbetween the shilling for the drug co's and ads for a politician whose sole platform seems to be cutting down gasoline prices. A Mr. Klays or something.
WTF are you talking about?

One of the stars of AAR is Thom Hartmann, who wrote a great book called "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight".

Thom Hartmann is great, I love him!

But, isn't John Stossel on there too?

Yes he has been on there. There is a famous clip of Stossel being totally eviscerated by Mike Papantonio of AAR. 20 minutes of Pap methodically boxing his ears.
I must be mixed up, I know Thom Hartmann's on all the time and I love it when he is, I advise all who haven't to go get his books and read them.

From the sound of it, Stossel's on there once in a while, and gets his azz beat when he is lol.

      This netscast should have in big red letters flashing below it"propaganda" I think,with the disclosures of the nsa wiretapps,the rumors of closeing the border,and the deployment of 2 carrier task groups to the middle east,we may be in the beginning stages of a Iranian strike.As we have discussed here in the past,a strike on Iran blows to hell any rational discorse,or discussion of intelligent,planned,peaceful responce to the challange of peak oil...

    I expect things to start to get strange very quickly

What do people think about the possibility of a strike on Iran?  Is our government really that crazy?  I can't think of any single reason, aside from extreme ideological blindness, that anyone could envision a successful campaign against Iran.  They hold all the aces.  Also, what would happen?  Would we stop at 100$ oil, or would the price skyrocket?  I think there's a good chance that this would trigger a severe recession.  It's scary to think about the severity of possible consequences of even sanctions on Iran.  I think this is going to get very, very ugly.  Frankly, I'm terrified.  
Hell I voted for Bush and I can't believe he's that crazy. But who knows, as mentioned a few places, in this Peak Oil journey we're all on, we're past the place where there's a swing producer - not only are we not the swing producer, no one is. That means no moderating of price up or down according to politics, there's no one in control. The world seems to be engaged in a big chess game right now, who's going to control the oil, and by control I mean literally sit on it, by establishing military bases or taking over governments. We, the US, have made our plans clear as far as Iraq goes, we're building huge bases and an even bigger "Embassy" compound. I'm not sure if inherent in those plans is expansion into Iran or syria or what. I've sent to the RNC, of which I am apparently a member, my feelings that I do not support preemptive strikes - I'm a paleo not a neo. I have a natural distaste for this whole middle east business. Business, I have a small business and if there's one thing I've learned, you don't go head to head with anyone - you work out, generally on very friendly terms, how not to compete. A good number of my friends are in the same business and while we're competitors, we're also friends and buy/sell among each other. Say one friend gets a bunch a accelerometers for $1 apiece and sells to me for $3 apiece, that's great - I happily buy them if they're worth that to me. And they generally are. Sure, I wish I'd found 'em first, etc., but there's a good deal more friendliness and cooperation in the real business world than is commonly supposed. Which I guess brings me to, what the hell is the deal with all this shooting and bombing and stuff???? Can't oil deals etc be worked out without killing, or trying to kill, every man woman and child in say, Fallujah? WTF? Real world business doesn't work this way. You only see violence among the starving, scared, etc. Are things that bad?


Nominally, I'm a democrat, but I'm pretty much disgusted with both parties over this issue.  On the other hand, while I don't agree with some of his politics, I've got a hell of a lot of respect for Roscoe Bartlett.  He's knowledgeable and a decent man.  Aside from him, I don't think any of our political leaders have a clue about what's coming.  On the other hand, if people actually wanted (are forced) to conserve, or get around without oil, I think ordinary people might well rally.  I have trouble believing that the current economic is so efficient (read inflexible) that it struggle on even with a lot of lost jobs and greatly reduced freight/trucking/air freight.  So much useless (or at least not strictly necessary), or even counterproductive shit is being done right now (highway budgets, consumer electronics/products, tourism, etc.) that I can't see us failing to get by without some of these things.  Why do so many people see the outlook as being so bleak with a reduced oil supply?  
Hello Fleam,

Yep, maybe things are really getting that bad...
Evidently a lot more people in Vermont are beginning to think current trends are pointing the wrong way:
The 2006 Vermonter Poll recently conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont indicates that the percentage of eligible Vermont voters who favor secession from the United States could very well be the highest in the nation.

Two and a half more years of so-called war on terrorism, a foreign policy based on full spectrum dominance, the suppression of civil liberties, and a culture of deceit combined with skyrocketing gasoline prices and a precipitous decline in the dollar could easily double the percentage of Vermont voters favoring secession. The election of either Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice to the presidency in 2008 could send this percentage through the roof.
Could any TODers in the New England area post more info or opinions on the public's mood in your hometown?

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

I'm in the process of moving up to VT ('m desperately hoping things hold together for a few more months so I can complete the move to an 80-acre farm here) and can't speak to current feelings about secession.  I know Kunstler was an invited speaker at a secessionist rally and they voted for some form of a secession resolution (probably a given from a secessionist organization), but I don't think it's mainstream yet.  According to the MSM, four VT townships at March townhall meeting voted for a resolution for Bush's impeachment.  

What you describe is business during a time of energy surplus. A time when accelerometers (or whatever)are becoming more and and more abundant.  

Once the surplus dries up and goes into decline, business tactics tend to change.



Well, since your terrified, we must as well scare you some more.  First, the U.S. buys no Iraqi oil or gas  (many people seem to think so), but they do manage to sell it, and it buys them friends....

"And Iran is now China's third-largest oil supplier."

China has invested nearly $100 billion in developing Iranian oil/gas fields. By some estimates, Iran will provide China with over 250 million tons of natural gas and 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day over the next 30 years.

" Russia has already built a $1 billion nuclear reactor for Iran at Bushehr, and Tehran has expressed interest in two to three more reactors. Actually, it's considering building more than 100 nuclear reactors in the years ahead. Russia unquestionably wants a cut of that fat action . . ."
" Iran and India, along with Pakistan, have agreed to build a $7 billion pipeline to move Iranian natural gas to India via Pakistan."

 "Iran primarily exports oil to Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Europe."
" Japan, Iran's biggest oil customer, has become the first country to reduce its imports of Iranian oil because of Tehran's nuclear dispute with the West. Nippon Oil, Japan's largest refiner, will cut its purchases of Iranian crude oil by 15% this year, Fumiaki Watari, Nippon's chairman, said last month."
So why do we (meaning the U.S.) care?
Qatar, 60 miles across the Persian Gulf from Iran

See the narrow Strait of Hormuz, through which two thirds of the worlds oil passes...look to the left and see the big peninsula sticking out into the Gulf, that's Qatar, home of the 3rd largest natural gas reserves in the world, only 800.000 citizens and the staunchest U.S. allies in the Middle East, and to the largest military machine ever assembled in one place, U.S. Central Command, the base of operations in Iraq.
Qatar LNG development

It's your money...
Thursday, 15 December 2005
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has approved today a loan guarantee of up to $403.5 million to support the export of U.S. equipment and services to Qatar Liquefied Gas Company 3 Ltd. (Qatargas 3) to build a natural gas liquefaction plant and related facilities in Qatar.

And that is only the beginning.  The investment in Qatar natural gas will be HUGE. It must be, for the U.S. to remain a world power.  The commitment by President Bush to LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and the potential for gas to liquids in the creation of synthetic Diesel and propane makes natural gas a strategic asset.

If the Iranians are going after the atomic bomb, or if the Americans believe that Iran is going after the atomic bomb (whether it is true or not, that won't matter, we will act as if it is true)...the question becomes:
Will America tolerate having CentCom (Central Command) and our only real quality and quantity supplier of LNG sitting under an Iranian nuclear gun?

I frankly feel that if you accept the above terms, that an attack on Iran is almost certain.  The timing would probably be before the November off year elections, because given President Bush's political problems, I don't think he can risk losing the Republican majority in the Congress (which seems very possible if not outright likely) before going to war.  There is one caveat:
It is possible that Bush would use the off year elections to measure his party's strenth.  If the majority holds, he can see it as a "mandate" and then go after Iran, knowing that he would be gone before his party had to face another Congressional race.  If he lost Congress, he would then simply try to sue for peace....or hope the Europeans could apply enough pressure...but given the earlier statements above, that would essentially marginalize American power in the Persian Gulf and come back to haunt us in an even bigger way later.
It is a very dangerous situation indeed.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

CORRECTION:  The U.S. buys no IRANIAN oil or error, late at night....
Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout
Boone Pickens sais that it is "when" and not "if" that either the US or Israel attacks Iran.
This nonesense about nuclear war with Iran has got to stop! Iran hasn't done anything illegal and it's embarassingly hypocritical for the U.S.--as the country with the largest arsenal of WMDs in the world--to go on like this.  Iran has 2,500 years of history as a peaceful county--never having invaded a neighbor although having been attacked numerous times.

As educated Peakoilers, we should know that the risk/benefit of this belligerent strategy is getting higher every month.  

(And please spare me justifications based on Ahmadinejad's Israel comments, since the U.S. started its vindictive policy when Khatami was president and was talking of 'dialogue among civilizations' and 'breaking walls of mistrust' only to be villified as 'just another mullah.)

I think you misread the comments - I don't see anyone justifying it, just expecting it.  Your point seems to be that it can't happen because it's wrong.  I don't mean to be offensive, but this is naive.

IMO, there are no valid justifications, but I think war will happen anyway.  I'm not so sure about nukes being used.

There is no justification for war with Iran, just as there is never any justification for preemptive military action, at least not by the world's only superpower.  However, even ignoring the fact that legally and morally a war with Iran would be reprehensible, the possible consequences of a military campaign would be so catastrophic that it is difficult to imagine any good reasons for engaging in one.  Unfortunately, the current adminstration is so ideologically blind that I'm afraid it is quite possible.  Furthermore, they are in trouble already, and I think at this point they have nothing left to lose.  I just hope somebody is intelligent enough to keep them from using bunker-buster nukes.  I expect this will be very bad, but breaking the policy against nukes would be positively horrific.  
After the elections and before the new Congress and Senate takes over in January. Also, the harvest will be in and we won't have to worry about a nuclear winter if the Iranians really did buy all those nukes that leaked out of Russia.
Iranian and Pakistani nuclear weapons are simple enriched Uranium designs.  Hardly "leaked" Russian nukes.  Given all the bitching about leaking of Russian nukes, Russia should actively export them to shut you whiners up.
What I found very telling about the US/Iran standoff last were the little stories popping up that tell the story away from the spotlight:

  • Russia is going to pay off it's US$$ debt ASAP.
  • Russia wants to open up energy market based upon the ruble.
  • Putin saying "As the saying goes, comrade wolf knows who to eat and he eats without listening to others."
  • Highly enriched uranium found on equipment linked to an Iranian military base.
  • Bush wants to send the National Gaurd to the US/Mexico border under the guise of controlling the flow of immigrants into the US.  (Why now...I ask...has there been a rapid increase in Mexican illegal immigrants lately?  No, but this is the weakest border for sneak terrorist attacks and this will be a bad hurricane season.  I think the National Gaurd units are mobilizing for a crisis coming very soon.)
  • The US$ and the Dow tanked.

The teams are lining up big game.
I think this is going to get very, very ugly.  Frankly, I'm terrified.  

You are not the only one.


The way it's looking, I don't think the Bush administration actually cares if TSHTF, with regards to Iran, recession/depression.  Noam Chomsky makes a good argument for the US as the world's principal "failed state"; one that is uninterested or incapable of protecting its citizens from harm.  It seems to me that all of the wiretapping, election rigging, New Orleans response, etc, indicates that their war addiction means they'd be content with social/economic collapse, as it would be a logical pretext for inplementing a overt police state.
Wow. But, so last year if Kerry had been elected.
John Stossel is a worthless prick, perhaps the worst "journalist" ever to walk the face of the earth.

Wait...then there is Geraldo.

Let him know...On his Blog!


No, Geraldo's not that bad, he sucks but at least he sucks with some style!
Greyzone's list of major fields is now available as a web page, sortable by column heading and with linked sources.

[Greyzone, feel free to send me an updated csv and I will update the underlying database]

Hi. I have been lurking here ever since I read Kuntsler last year.  I am amazed and grateful at the expertise put up here for all of us to read.  
     Yesterday I read in the Louisville Courier Journal that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (yeah, right our of Bush's budget office to our statehouse thanks to Indiana citizens falling for Karl Rove's folksey campaign tactics) that Indiana is planning to build 20 ethanol plants in the next couple of years!  Is this crazy?
I watched the webcast, and this is a prime example of "big lie", or misinformation.  To allow someone to report that the TAR Sands alone could run the entire world for 100 years is really over the top craziness.  "The moon is made of Green cheese, and we are building rocket ships to go to the moon and get the green cheese and bring it back to Earth"  And do you notice that this reporting was so unballance that no one was allowed to counter, or present their case, just quotes from selected people that were presented out of context?  What incredibly crap.  One thing I am looking forward to with power down, is less T.V.        
Why wait?  Use your TV only for viewing rented movies and documentaries, and you can have a lot of high-quality entertainment without the crapola like Stossel.

Stossel seems to be carving a niche for himself as a low-brow version of Bjorn Lomborg [sp?].  Ugh.

I have a confession to make. I used to like John Stossel before I saw the 20/20 piece. He never really bothered me. But when you do a piece on oil and it clocks in under 5 minutes, and you've only interviewed one person - there might be a problem. He does lighweight "investigations" - we're not talking Seymour Hersh here. I think he is mostly there to assure the old folks.  But that bit was criminal.
Yeah, this clip is just plain silly. By 2030, world oil production should be about 60 mbpd, so Alberta needs to produce about 60-70 mbpd to meet expected rise in demand.

Haha, good luck to them with that!

Once again the power that be a "framing" the issue when they ask are we really running out of oil or are we just lazy in our gathering methods?"

And when the obvious answer to this question is no, it give the sheeple a false sence of reality and doesn't address the issue of peak oil. I've seen the done repeatedly with the MSM and until they frame the question differently, most people won't hear about or understand the ramifications of peal oil..

And did anyone read that the corm growers association recently stated that they believe the US could make about 15B gallons of corn based ethanol without effecting the food supply?? My estimates put that about 40% of our corn crop.. Talk about waste..

"Lazy in our gathering methods" sounds like scapegoating by whoever wrote the phrase. The question is really what is economic, and the major oil companies cannot economicially produce small producing wells because of their enormous overhead. This week I was working for a small oil producer from the Houston area who is trying to assemble some oil leases that he plugged out in 1988 when oil was less than $20.00 a barrel so that he can redrill some locations. He can afford to do this because he has low overhead and therefore lower costs per barrel than larger companies.
    There are lots of prospects like this, but not many people who know how to put them together. He is 89 years old and plans to drill 4 new wells and will probably recover at least another 100,000 barrels for a cash investment of about 2 million . That works out to a 200% total return on investment over the next 5 to 10 years. Most of the guys who knew how to do this kind of deal are over 70 or dead.
   When King George the Elder traded cheap oil prices to the Saudies in exchange for support for their monarchy most independents were squeezed out of the oil patch including me. Now that prices are high I'm back in it but the younger domestic oil people don't know how to exploit the oil that is left in the ground so they do deep natural gas deals instead. It is nearly impossible to find rigs to drill the shallow deals where oil is likely to be found and darn hard to find engineers who know how to complete the wells. This is great for me personally-I'm 54-.but lousy for America. Laziness isn't the problem, but rather a shortage of trained personel to redevelop old oil fields.
Have you considered taking on an apprentice or two?

It looks as though the gauntlet was thrown a couple days back:

And I'm game...   RR would you be kind enough to outline the topic of said challenge please?

In the interim, I thought you would like to know that I was shopping for SUVs in Brazil this week - you know, the SUVs that according to you, "No Hummers. No SUVs. No pickups. No large vehicles of any kind" - don't exist in Brazil (snicker).

I just can't decide between a Ford Explorer or a Land Rover...


The orange is nice don't you think?

And where's your trusty sidekick Fallout Boy?

He should note that my comments re: the benefits of US biodiesel production for Americans, were in reference to SOY not PALM.  Nevertheless, make sure to thank him for the biology lesson.


For those of you in this thread who are worried about war in Iran, one must consider 2 basic underlying principles:

1 - Israel will NOT let Iran anywhere near a bomb.

2 - US will NOT let China anywhere near that oil.

And I'm game...   RR would you be kind enough to outline the topic of said challenge please?

Ethanol Debate Challenge

In the interim, I thought you would like to know that I was shopping for SUVs in Brazil this week - you know, the SUVs that according to you, "No Hummers. No SUVs. No pickups. No large vehicles of any kind" - don't exist in Brazil (snicker).

If misrepresentation is the best you can do, then prepare to have your head handed to you. I never said that the country didn't have any of these. I said that is what you saw on the roads every time they showed a clip. Continue your straw man arguments, though, if they make you feel good.

Good luck. You are going to need it. Be warned that arguments will have to be supported.


I have just downloaded the stats for all vehicles sold in Brazil, so if that's the debate challenge you want to accept, that suits me fine. The stats completely support my argument (not your straw man version), which you will see if you want to debate that point.

Indicate in the comments section at the end of the debate challenge which topic you want to pursue. I offered several possible debate resolutions. Feel free to offer your own, or to suggest a modification of my suggested guidelines. As soon as we are in agreement, let's get going.


I'm still here, Stryker.
This "boy" is a 35 year old man, a professional mechanical engineer, and former employee of USDA/ARS.  Needless to say, I know both technological and agricultural bs when I smell it, and desperate panning for any biological feedstock to fuel ethanol-as-a-plug-and-play-replacement-for-petroleum arguements is just that, total bs. Pie in the sky pipe dreams.
First it was corn that was going to save us, then sugarcane, then switchgrass, then palm oil, and now soybeans. Puh-leese!
Go debate Robert, and get whatever you have to say off your chest, so we can move on to more "real" issues.  Robert does not need my help, he more than has it covered, and I have better things to do with my day than trying to convince the unconvincible.
I just watched the webcast and my head didn't explode but my wife did ask me why my face was red so it was a close call!

Peter Huber is obviously very uninformed and is just spinning words. Too bad the debate was one-sided and sounded more like a promo for his book. The problem is that they are debating the wrong question. Nobody is claiming that we are running out of oil. PO is when we reach a maximum extraction rate beyond which demand becomes constrain by supply. Tar sands will probably provides us with oil for 100 years as they are claiming but only a few mbpd.

That's just the typical distortion of the issue so as to confuse the uninformed and ridicule those who understand.  
thats not taking into acount the incressed cost of extracting those few million barrels.
Someone pays the "Manhattan Institute" (a.k.a. Huber & friends) to put out this kind of "Bottomless Well" B.S.

The question is/are who and why?

A few years ago Stossel claimed that organic produce is dangerous because org farmers tend to use manure/compost whereas conventionaql farmers use artificial fertilizer.  Hence, the tendency to dangerous e coli bacteria and food poisoning.  An interesting argument except for one small problem:  It's not true.   Stossel was finally forced to retract his assertion on the air--but only after freaking out a lot of people who had been buying organic.

What I find most interesting about the Stossel types is that they are industry schills who come to believe it.