An Open Thread theme for a Saturday

There is an interesting piece in the Asia Times this week about the growing realignments around the world and how it might affect oil and gas flows. Worth a read and the start of a thread perhaps?
now and then i've asked the more pessimistic posters for a timeline that really works with doom.  i don't think i've gotten a plausible one.  if the lower defcon levels (see right hand side-bar and "peak oil primers") are fact based, surely the facts can be laid on a timeline ...
I'm not sure if this logic is strong. Folks predict 'the big one' for San Francisco, yet struggle to provide a timeline.

I'm don't believe that it follows that a true enough argument must reasonably be associated with a foreseeable timeline.

there's a reason for that, isn't there?  earthquates, and meteor impacts, and similar catasrophies do not depend on past human behavior.  they simply exist as statistical possibilities.

no one says drive less, or eat less beef, to stop the next earthquake ... for that reason.

the key difference here is that if peak oil is going to hit us like an earthquate, it should be based on observed precursors: oil discoveries and oil consumption.

well, ok then. what about the dot com bubble?

if someone said in the late 90's (which many did), "this is all going to come down like a tonne of bricks", well, in hindsight it looks like they had a pretty good argument justifying their position.

but ask for a timeline... and you'd probably only get a bunch of.. erm.. more existental types pulling out charts and talking about fibonacci resistances.

the fact is that lots of people were shorting the market with the right argument, but just couldn't predict the timing.

this same point goes for any stockmarket crash, of course

i believe that your suggestion that a 'doomer' argument needs to be able to provide a timeline in order to be valid is flawed.

i'm trying to follow that, but i don't see collapse or doom as a market (psychological) issue.  i think in order to trigger something bad, we need to starve society down with a steep energy shortfall.

if something takes 10, 20, 30 years to play out ... is that like a quick market crash?

In contrast, I do see 'collapse or doom' as a psychological or market issue.

I agree strongly that if psychological and/or market risks were ignored, any argument toward a 'doomer' position would be marginalized.

I was simply suggesting that your supposition (that in order for a 'doomer' argument to be valid, it should suggest for itself a timeline) may need to be revised.

i understand your suggestion, but i think i am balancing the psychological and/or market risks with the fundimentals.

if we were going to "up and collapse" without a fundimental cause, we would have done so already.

I don't think that's actually true.  I believe that our government has become increasingly complex in past years, and it is now experiencing stresses from many different sides, including oil, natural gas, terrorism, global warming, etc.  This has created a situation which is very unstable, which means that many different things might spark a collapse, even things which are not directly related to a 'fundamental' cause.  The same situation arose prior to World War I, when an assassination of a minor archduke sparked a war.  Europe's superpowers were already menacing each other, and the peace between them was evidently very unstable, which is why a war was started off by such a minor event.  
how would you compare those stresses to the american civil war?  or the world wars?  i really don't want to see another major war either ;-), but i think here is something important in the comparison.  there is an idea that a good 'shock' to a the civilized world can send it into a world-wide collapse.

but, in reality, we humans were really happy to settle back down after those desturbances.  i think that is our nature.

isn't it sort of a hubris, combined with a shallow understanding of history to think (1) the world is about to collapse, and (2) out of a mult-thousand year history of civilization, WE are the ones who get to see it?

Every generation has believed that its problems and troubles were unique, and my own is no different.  This is not the first time that people have believed a collapse was coming, and it may not be the last.  However, just because it is a bit self-centered to believe that this age is unique or different from other ages does not make it wrong.  Collapses do happen, and I think there is quite a good chance that one will happen soon.  
if you mean collapses on the order of what we have seen, i have to agree they are possible.  of course.

but i think the "doomers" are thinking something worse ... again that amusing link:

and (2) out of a multi-thousand year history of civilization, WE are the ones who get to see it?

The only people who have these conversations are those whose societies did not collapse. Folk from the truly collapsed civilizations are all dead or assimilated. Where is the Mayan culture resurection web site? Are they talking about how collapse is only a hubiristic myth?

This nation survived a much worst crisis in the Civil War and came through it intact and sound. I think that will still occur.

I never thought of the reform-minded heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a minor archduke . . . .

I recently finished Peter Heather's "Fall the of Roman Empire," and was rather startled to discover that it collapsed in a relatively short period of time (a decade or so).

It had been tottering for a long time, but barbarian incursions delivered the coup de grace.

Timelines are impossible to predict, for several reasons:

  1. energy declines are only part of it. Political  responses to declines are even more important. Will the US gracefully live on less income, or will it invade the Middle East and try to control the oil? (we know the answer to that one). Also, as power inexorably flows to the few oil exporters, how will they deal with their profound new power and wealth? (anticipation of which may well be why Bush co decided to off Saddam). How will competitors such as China and the US deal with their competition? If China dumps its dollar holdings and uses it to buy energy, how would the US respond?

  2. We can look at the former Soviet Union; who would have predicted that it would collapse at all -- let alone in the spectacular manner in which it happened. (Personal disclosure, I spent much of the '80s studying nuclear deterrence. My professors were outraged when communism collapsed, because their professional trajectories were suddenly irrelevant)

  3. I am finishing Joseph Tainter's "The Collapse of Complex Societies" 1988. His thesis is that a) societies invest ever more heavily in complexity, and b) the law of diminishing returns impacts these investments, such that soon incredible effort is expended on getting any return at all. GM and Ford are in this boat now; they have sold huge numbers of highly profitable SUVs, and yet they are still going bust. But could any of us predict if and when that will actually happen?

On a larger scale, in 2030 we might be producing two thirds of the energy as now -- gross -- but net may well be much less. Also, we still have to invest in maintaining our present infrastructure,as well as invest in future production and infrastructure. And  that could well be the budget buster. As it is, we seem to be living off debt in many different ways, pushing costs off into the future. At some point these costs have to be paid.

4) The present is qualitatively different from any previous society. Until the industrial revolution, 70 - 90% of all populations were near subsistence farmers, and their lot didn't change all that much from century to century. Now, we are all utterly dependent on what happens in capital markets and energy fields which are distant and opaque.

For all these reasons, we can note the trajectories and try to plan as best we can; but to ask for a rigid timeline is folly.  

Jim Burke,

On Ford or GM, they do rely in part on foreign sales which are better than at home for the most part. It may be, as some writer recently wrote, ToyotaGM in 2010.

The 6 May Economist has a chart in the back and for industrial nations, for trade (not debt), but points out that Spain, Greece, and Portugal are worse than the USA for % of GDP as a deficit. Northern Europe is the best.

Some countries (Canada for example) are running a consistent budget surplus. Toyota would never hook up with GM. General Motors has been insolvent for quite some time. Its debt to equity is roughly 30 to 1 which is ridiculous for a company which has no real growth prospects. Toyota could buy up GM tomorrow for the market worth (14 bill) but would never do this as the company has a huge negative net worth (is worthless). Real liabilities exceed real (marketable) assets by hundreds of billions of dollars.    
One of the ironic aspect of allies is that Australia has retired their national debt and of course, our govt. has accepted the Reagan idea that deficits do not matter!

I read Harley-Davidson stock had more value than Ford!

The Australian government has a very large amount of unfunded superannuation liabilities do despite its claim of having no public debt, we actually do have quite a bit. The state governments are largely debt free, however.
What did you think of this book?  It's a topic I want to research, as I find it very interesting.
The crisis that America faced during the civil war was of a completely different nature, which makes it difficult to make a comparison to the crisis we face now.  However, I believe that the civil war was in fact far less serious.  First of all, it was a localized crisis, rather than a global one.  While that might not have offered much comfort to Americans, it does change the nature of the problem.  Second, most people were engaged in agriculture, which means that they were far more self-sufficient.  Finally, and most importantly, the crisis was a political and moral one, not a question of resources.  Civil war leaders did not face the problem of decreasing fuel supplies, and skyrocketing costs that we will most likely face.  The problem we face will grow worse and worse, while our ability to deal effectively with it will diminish as our fuel supplies decrease.  The civil war was certainly a traumatic time, but it did not spell starvation for millions of people.  This crisis may threaten the lives of billions of people.  
Bear in mind that the Chinese were having the Taiping rebellion in which twenty million people died, compared to one million for the US during the same period.
I hope that you are right, of course.  As for the minor archduke, I suppose that that is a contradiction in terms, so I'm sorry about that.  However, on the global scene, he can hardly have been the only reason for the war.  His death incited global powers into a war, but I think most of the strategic reasons for the war were already present, including the unfolding diplomatic battles over middle east oil.  The archduke was just the excuse for the fight.  

In response to these solid comments. Clearly we face a global crisis, but the education process is not far enough long. It will take some more climatic catastrophes to really wake up the planet's leadership. Some of the leadership gets it, and that is better than five years ago.

The Civil War is by no means a direct analogy. I certainly agree to that. But in terms of tearing at the very fabric of the United States, I do not think there is anything to compare, except the American Revolution itself, which was part of what is often times called the 3rd or 4th World War by some military historians.

The archduke was a trigger. No question that the war could have resulted before or after August 1914. But the results were not pre-determined. It could have been a five month war and just set the old monarchies up for another war in a few years. That it was going to be a long, bloody, and destructive war  - well, it did not have to be.

PS My daughter almost died on your mountain last year. This Fall she is off to South Africa to surf for two months. I told her to travel now as it will be more difficult in a few years.

It's all about the Soccer Moms in the minivans and SUVs.  When they realize that their kids lives will be worse not better, TSHTF.  The American Dream is a better life for your kids, not cheap gas.  The Mexicans aren't coming here for cheap gas....
I disagree with that WWI was going to be a short war. The updated/modified Schlieffen Plan was never going to work, and even in its original format would have failed. The density of German troops required to defeat the French was not possible even with railways. The railways made transportation of troops fast, but also because of the complexity of routing troops and turning around trains, once one European country started to move troops by train, every other country had to otherwise it was at a major disadvantage to its enemies. John Keegan's book The First World War is a good book to read on this subject. Every European nation and peoples wanted to prove that their country was the best in the world and would not mind fighting and defeating its rivals to prove its point. Only trouble was, they proved that they were equal and fought themselves to a standstill, whilst proving America the best by being the last to fight, losing the least and so ending up the only real winner.

After watching Blackadder Goes Forth, which seems to capture many peoples imagines and views of the First World War, reading John Keegan's book gave a much better understanding of the difficulties the generals and planners had. As machine guns made defence so much easier and attack so much more costly, it took the generals a long while to work out plans that had a chance of success over terrain that vastly helped defence.

Sorry for this but I find WWI a very depressing subject. WWI is the reason for not having wars, WWII is the reason to have wars.

WWI lasted more than three months because the Germans could no longer be cut off from their ammunition supply by the British navy after the development of the Haber process for nitrogen fixation. No nitrogen fixation and they would have been out of ammo and France by Christmas.
Essex Land Rover Man.

And a good case can be made that there would not have been World War II except that we had World War I.

Keegan is a good author and there is a solid chance that any war started in the 1900-1920 period would have been long and bloody and horrible. But it was not inevitable. And it it could have been short. Command decisions at the top can make or break a campaign.

The USA, Japan, and the Commies did benefit from the war.

Hew Strachan's trilogy of which only vol. I is out should be the new standard on the topic.

Doom Prophecies:

  1. Earthquakes: We know where, we know how and why, we know eventually, we dont know when, we dont know how big.
  2. Vulcanicity: Exactly the same as above, but we do get some warning: Usually weeks, sometimes months, rarely years.
  3. Astral Impacts: A relatively new science. Astral bodies are: a) known types (Asteroid belt etc) and b) unkown types (Unknown comets etc)Occassionaly a) becomes a threat or b)and becomes a threat. In each case, the threat would be known in advance by months / year(s). So far, In human history, this has not been a problem.

Of the above three, 2) is probably the most dangerous.1) Is frequent but limited in size. 3) Is rare but potentially devastating on a global scale.1)Can occur at any time, but its effects are limited. 2) Is different. Occassional Caldera events are minor and localised,(one may be happening now in Indonesia) but a major event such as Yellow Stone or the Deccan Traps Event or the Campaignian Fields near Vesuvius can have severe regional or global consequences.
2) and 3) are potential 'slate wipers'.

Other threats may include such things as submarine slumping (Canary Isles, Norway, Hawaii) Where large chunks of land slump and create a much larger than normal Tsunami)
But these are still a regional problem.

All of the above can happen any time, we have no say or control, and we are at the mercy of events. That's just life. Shit happens - deal with it. The Gods dont need to get involved, You just need Physics to tell you what will happen.

4)Peak Oil and its equally evil twin - 5)Global Warming are different: We have a say in this. We can mitigate the effects should we choose to do so. 1),2),3) are normal, natural hazards of life on earth / this part of the galactic neighborhood. 4), 5) However are relatively easily mitigated and they are well within our brief. Assuming we choose to act...

Either way, Gaia will continue in her own majestic way , with or without the human race.

Its our call.

reminds me of a quote from a old two part series about Darwin. from the second part in fact, about the consequences of his discovery.

'yes nature always heals it's self and finds a balance but it never does so until the problem that caused the imbalance is  removed. we are the problem and nature will not be able to heal herself until we are gone or we change our ways so we are not a problem.'

sometimes when i read a story about yet another technological discovery or a method of getting energy at the expense of the planet i am reminded of mr. smith and the matrix when he said humanity is a virus and that maybe he was right.

but thats off topic. i would like to comment on number three, there are not enough people looking up at the sky to find them all. also i would think with the bush admin cutting nasa's budget year after year that it would be falling too. the chances of not spotting a incoming body until it's about a month from impact is still relatively high. especially if it's coming in from the basic direction of the sun on it's way out of the inner solar system.

i forgot to add the following.
we are also blind on about 30% of the sky mostly in the southern hemosphere. at most we would also have a few months, a year or more would not be very posible.
On number 3 also;
For a tiny sum of money we could have a proper sky survey in place that would be able to detect Earth threatening astroids.  It amazes me that we don't.  A number of "near misses" in recent years have only been noticed after they had passed the Earth - that means that if they had hit we would've had zero notice.

This New Scientist piece has links to some nice astroid caused tsunami simulations.  The time-scale for these events is about once every 6,000 years.  6,000 years isn't a lot.  Unfortunately it's a lot longer than the next election.

This seems to be a fundamental flaw in human nature.  We know that there is a problem but because its a long term problem rather than something immediate we ignore it.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with the comment that peak oil and global warming are easily mitigated.  First of all, we have very little experience with either of these issues, at least in modern times.  However, in the past climate change has had serious consequences on many civilizations, and resource depletion is considered a major factor in the collapse of civilizations.  Our mitigation options with regards to global warming are not very good.  We have already added a lot of CO2 to the air, which we cannot, with present technology, remove.  Even if we stop emissions completely, the temperature will still increase (about 3 degrees C if I remember right) until the various carbon sinks (like the Amazon rainforest) can begin to sequester the heightened CO2.  Unfortunately, even with declining oil production, we will still produce significant emissions, so the problem is going to be exacerbated.  Of course we should try to limit emissions, but this is not a problem we can solve.  It is a question of trying to make the situation less bad than it already is, but the problem, even if humans were saints, is not going to go away.  

As for peak oil, conservation can help.  But the main way of reducing oil usage is called doing without, without driving, without working, even without food.  There are alternatives to oil, but none that can replace a large portion of oil production.  Wind and nuclear cannot fuel cars, solar would need to be improved a great deal before using it for cars could become practical, hydrogen is not a source of energy, and since there are already problems with the electrical network, natural gas has peaked in North America.  Biofuels are an option, but there are many problems people have failed to adequately consider.  Even if biofuels have a positive EROEI (and I don't think ethanol does, biodiesel is probably better) the EROEI will still be quite low.  A more serious problem however, is that farming land to produce energy uses land that could be better used for food production, and also removes nutrients from the land, meaning that such farming would be unsustainable.  I don't think fuel production from farmland could last all that long.  Remember, the energy from biofuels comes ultimately from sunlight, with a very low efficiency (I think 2%).  It would take a lot of land to turn this low efficiency into enough fuel to power our cars.  Looking over the list above, it is clear that alternatives to oil are very poor.  I've mentioned before that fusion power is a possible option.  In particular, cold fusion, which was dismissed far too quickly by various parties who had an interest in seeing it feel, deserves a second look.  (See my website, for more info).  It is possible that some miracle energy source like fusion can be found and developed, but I don't think it is likely.  Thus mitigating either peak oil or global warming, while not impossible, will be very difficult.  

Sorry, my website is I've just started it, so I don't remember the name myself.  Oh, well.
I should have said Relatively easy - insomuch as they are man made - and therefore correctable (still a tough one though)

Large Volcanic events and Astral impacts tend to be beyond engineering and science and cause regional / global catastrophes.

Actually, on balance, the period the development of Homo Sapien up to and including recorded history looks like it may have been an extremely benign period to have developed in.

Could be we are a very lucky fluke.

Oh, and something else that just occured.
If we dont resolve energy depletion and end up with 'Hobbiton', 'Mad Max', 'Shogun' or similar, then we wont have the kind of civilisation that can detect and deflect an Astral Impact.

We may not even know about it until we can see the 'firey orb in the firmament'. Let alone have the energy to get Bruce Willis up to save us.

In which case we are a bit doomed.

Dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) says that every few hundred years we have very bad weather that wipes out agricultural civilisations. The last time that happened was 630AD and we are very overdue for another collapse of agriculture.
I'm sensing a lot of anti-doomer hostility in your posts lately.  Maybe you should define "doomer" - it's not all that clear, really.  Mostly it's in the eye of the beholder.

First of all, we're on a peak oil site, which by definition makes most of us doomers from the point of view of most people.  

Second, I've read comments from those who claim to be non-doomers, but then go off into how to pick the best ammo, and what guns work best when the crazed mob shows up to steal your burried supplies.  

For me, I don't believe PO need cause the rapid collapse of society on it's own.  But then things don't often happen in isolation, and I see plenty of reasonably viable scenarios where we could indeed see rapid, major changes.  Call it collapse, whatever.  I think the likelyhood of big changes coming soon is increasing, but by no means assured.  Some of those scenarios would be devastating, but others just look like change to me, and could well be change for the better.

i left it a little bit open, because i expected different pessimists to stake out different levels of 'doom' at different points along the 'timeline.'

any definition of doom, with a time, would work for me.

unfortunately, too often we get vague fears of 'viable scenarios' without specifics, or any reasonable path from here to there.

Well, ok, but it's unrealistic to put a time line on it.  We try to be objective, using facts and data, but in the end it is too complex, and we're left with gut feel.  Hopefully an educated guess made after observing carefully.  One can see two trains heading at each other on the same track at speed, and predict with reasonable certainty that they will hit.  But to try to predict where all the pieces will go is hopeless.

I have my guesses as to what will happen, and about when - but hell, they're just guesses, and they vary with my mood!  It's more important to gain an understanding of what could happen, and how things interact, then it is to pick one scenario and blindly follow it. And then (if we're paying attention) we'll have a better idea of what it is we're seing, and can react accordingly.

The doom scenarios are just one end of the spectrum.

but if we do have hubbert curves and things, and we can see oil (never mind replacements) still at half-peak values, 30 years post-peak ... doesn't that argue for non-collapse and non-doom in that timeframe?

we can do half-current energy standing on our heads.

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying - If the the production levels stay flat for 30 years from now?

As I've said before, I do think we could conserve, and perhaps we could all cut our energy use by 2x.  I think the energy issues alone could be dealt with, at least to the extent of permitting a gentle transition.  But it is the other symptoms that will be intractable.  Climate change is the biggest, toughest nut, but maybe the longer term problem.  IMHO, political and economic problems will tie us down and prevent us from dealling with the energy problem the way we might be able to otherwise.

not flat, but a bell curve, even with the most pessimistic estimation that we are already at the top.

maybe you can see why i try to tie these things to timelines, in order to understand the immediacy some people seem to feel with the peak-oil threat.

if we think industrial society can hold together for 30 years, and if we know the path of industrial societies (and their technologies) cannot be predicted 30 years in advance ... immediate can this threat be?

by the way, i was just off reading this amusing piece:

i guess i am some combination of a traditionalist-plebeian and a technopeaker.

"if we think industrial society can hold together for 30 years"

I'm not sure that it is holding together now.  In the US, our industrial capacity has been declining at a breathtaking rate (it's taking MY breath away, at least).  One could even argue that it's been declining steadily since about the time of the peak in US oil production.  IIRC, the figure I saw was that we've lost 17% of our manufacturing jobs in the last 5yrs. In 30?

But it's not ALL bad news - If our wages drop low enough, then perhaps we'll become one of those "Low Cost Countries" management is so enamored of lately.


Why do you link to stuff like this? There are many people out there with different opinions, but maybe it's a good idea to filter out a bit?

Some people feel very strongly about balancing the PO debate and I welcome that, just as about everybody else on this site. JD would be an example of that, even if what he writes is sometimes 'open for discussion'. But there are many, many, many people who just blog to have something to do on a sunday afternoon ;-)

I would propose to keep the discussion a bit more serious and focussed and pass-by the 'accidental critic'. There are so many of them.

How about that?

i have introspected on this ;-).  i think it is because i view the internet as a "group mind" phenomenon, and believe that a competition of ideas (with rigor, and occasional humor) is valuable.

my personal attainment in rigor and humor are a bit hit and miss, but i keep trying.

by the way, that was a big day of posting for me, and i'll slow down for the next few days.  i do think it is important to note that this tension between ... to try some different phrasing ... between "solution/adaption" believers and "collapse" believers is out there, with or without me.

it wouldn't have been a theme of the Falls Church News-Press piece if it was just an obscure disagreement on the back threads of a internet blog (link also given below):

"The Peak Oil Crisis - Powerdown or Collapse?"

I have a very pessimistic outlook on the future, but I don't consider myself a doomer.  I'm not ordinarily a particularly pessimistic person, but I do think things could become very ugly.  The problem is that so many serious issues are converging at the same time.  Ethnic strife and terrorism are increasing, world oil production is peaking, natural gas production has peaked in North America, copper production is peaking, the economic situation is extraordinarily bad, biodiversity is falling rapidly, fish populations are dying off, etc.  What really concerns me, though, is the fact that even people who are experts on the oil situation are making estimates that seem to me to be overly optimistic.  For example, the Hirsch report assumes a 2% decline rate in oil fields, but many if not most fields appear to have at least a 5% decline rate and some fields that have been overworked have a decline rate as high as 8%.  I think it is very unlikely that world oil, once it peaks, will decline at only 2%.  Furthermore, the most optimistic peak oilers, as far as I can tell, are making assumptions that I consider to be unrealistic.  For example, the powerdown scenario by Richard Heinberg (while not necessarily unviable, and certainly to be hoped for) assumes that nations will be able to work together peacefully to deal with this problem.  Given the way our current government is trying to deal with oil, I think there is almost no chance that this scenario will work, as unfortunate as this is.  In my view, the doomer philosophy is based on the fact that so many incredibly serious problems are arriving at the same time, accompanied by the most inept politicians our country has ever had.  I certainly don't want things to get bad, but so far I have seen almost nothing to suggest that they won't.  Give me some reasons why the above analysis is wrong, or perhaps some effective alternatives to oil (there are none as good, except perhaps fusion, and that is still probably far away), and I might be more optimistic.  
For example, the Hirsch report assumes a 2% decline rate in oil fields, but many if not most fields appear to have at least a 5% decline rate and some fields that have been overworked have a decline rate as high as 8%.  I think it is very unlikely that world oil, once it peaks, will decline at only 2%.

the rubber really meets the road on "net decline" rather than simply "decline of existing fields."  maybe the experts can weigh in on where they think the consensus for net decline really is.

i do think we should work in at some point that net decline will slow.  this is a bell curve and not a pyramid.  as drillers have to seek smaller and smaller reserves, it simply takes more and more time to reach the same volume.

and of course, as soon as peak becomes visible in the rear-view mirror, both consumers and producers will have an immediate impulse to slow down.

"...most inept politicians..." there's the nub.  

But I would extend that beyond the states.  China, I think, is taking exactly the wrong road, polluting its way to top dog.  Despite all Blair's protestations, England continues on the same path.  Friendly Canada will not meet even the Kyoto protocols.  And what price will the tar sands really be?

Give it five years max...see where the world is then with energy and global warming.  The economic problems will hit first, well before 2012. Hopefully, we will slide through them.

I mentioned in an early post that the Walker circulation had slowed 3%.  That is the air current that affects the onslaught of El Nino. Climatologist are just starting to see the effects of GW on air currents.  Should be interesting if they modify their position on the NAO(North
Atlantic Oscillation).   The science is still slow; pronouncements are carefully made.

We are in a race between our understanding, our science, our will and what is surely approaching.  Fifty years is not a long time.  Trust me.  It is not.  The old know this. I know it.

I used to dream that this century, with all its scientific promise, would bring understanding earlier ages only dreamed may not be fast enough.  And we may not heed it.

Energy? and PO? The end of this year should give us a good handle on that. Time for predictions are then.

Here's the most credible timeline IMHO:
the rough pass at oil numbers from that page work for me:

With a peak before 2010, production in 2030 will be somewhere around production in 1975 or 1980, or maybe 20 billion barrels. 2030's oil will have to meet the needs of a doubled world population and a world in crisis, but 20 billion barrels is still a lot of oil.

now, who needs to run to a cabin becase, in 25 years, they'll have half the oil (supplemented to some degree with other energy sources) they have today?

Really depends on how society responds to peak oil. If the Bush administration starts a nuclear war and a resulting massive increase in terrorism inflicts half a dozen 9/11's on the United States, cuts off most oil to Europe we have a difficult situation, and one that isn't at all predictable.

But a severe rise in oil prices and sharp depletion of natural gas makes a drastic change in society. Dramatic loss in home values, sharp rises in unemployment, erratic blackouts (not difficult; I currently live in California, and I've seen them; Denver had to choose one weekend last winter between electricity and home heating) a shortage of heating oil in the cold states...\

sure, we use 3 or 4 times as much oil per person as the average of the industrialized world, so it seems as though we could "easily" cut back to half. The trip from here to there is difficult, though, requiring massive investments in alternative transportation and many other changes. As the Hirsh report indicates, it's already too late to do it easily. And I am pessimistic about our leadership's capacity to do much of anything courageous or wise.

if we had to do it (the power-down) in 5 years i'd be scared, but 25 or 30 years doesn't scare me.  that's beyond the expected product life of most cars and appliances.

you know, a year or two ago, some pessimists on TOD were saying that the masses were in denial, and they would drive right off the cliff in their hummers.  now we've got this huge mobilization.  hummers are out (h1 canceled), hybrids are in (ford talking about a plug-in).

many of us (pessimists and some optimists) worry about some of the crazy responses being suggested.  well, i think we are miles ahead.

better to suffer the ratio of sturgeon's law, if it means we get in motion, and separate the good from the bad as we go.

"California Begins Comprehensive Wind Energy Study"

my worry is that it might be too little too late.
hence my concern with timelines ;-)
now and then i've asked the more pessimistic posters for a timeline that really works with doom.  i don't think i've gotten a plausible one.  if the lower defcon levels (see right hand side-bar and "peak oil primers") are fact based, surely the facts can be laid on a timeline ...

Timelines are dangerous. If you commit to one, then your views about collapse can be falsified, or mocked. Look at Paul Ehrlich. He became a total laughing stock for his failed 1960s predictions of doom. So it's no surprise that the doomers are prediction shy, and love to be vague.

Still, Dot has a good point. It's hard to predict when a catastrophe might occur, so there are legitimate reasons for avoiding a timeline.

Maybe it's better to ask you doomers (collapse believers) this question: How many years of non-collapse would it take for you to throw in the towel? Suppose, for example, that oil peaks, and 20 years later things aren't too bad. We're handling it quite well with conservation, ingenuity, alternatives etc. Do you give up and admit you were wrong at that point? If not, how many years of normalcy would it take for you give up and throw in the towel?

If you can't give any condition where you would stop believing in impending collapse, then I would have classify your thinking as an unfalsifiable cult belief, or a neurosis.

I think if after five years of decline in oil production, the U.S. has managed to rally and try to find a solution, then I will be a great deal less concerned about the future.  I think it will be the first few years of decline that will be the most dangerous.  Once this becomes the status quo, there is less chance of countries or leaders acting insanely based on old assumptions that no longer hold true.  
I have been thinking about the same. The first five years will apply serious stress to the system to test how adaptable we are. I'm not a doomer because a a gradual powerdown is impossible. If we can collectively act in an intelligent fashion the worst case can be avoided. I am a doomer because I don't see any evidence of intelligent action. The Bush administration with the full support of TPTB have led us totally in the wrong direction. I don't see any evidence TPTB are able to see past their own selfish greed and power. If I was a billionaire peak oil would be one big joke. I'd laugh everyday. The stupid sheep are just burning their kid's future. I'm so rich I think I'll have a cup of tea and enjoy the show.
i agree with you that you can never underestimate the stupidity of people.
i personaly like to toute some religious beliefs as prime examples.

my guess is that maybe 1 out of 100 people will think rationaly about any major situation the rest will mainly panic with a few people who will just out and ignore it.
of course this is just the common folk, i have little clue on how the rich elite and political leaders will react.

I am concerned about the future for similar reasons.  However, it is important to remember that the Bush administration is not going to be the government that ultimately deals with this crisis.  I think they are already on the outs, and the economic shocks that are coming will probably be blamed on them, so that they will be vilified in the future.  It is the next leaders, elected or otherwise, who will effect our energy  future.  I think it is quite likely that a very strong leadership will arrive, invoking draconian measures to deal with the fuel crisis, and rescinding civil liberties, but of course there's no way of knowing.  As to billionaires, they are just as dependent on the current state of affairs as any of us, if not more so.  Many of them will lose their money, and even those that are able to hold onto their cash will have to deal with a global infrastructure falling apart, and the breakdown in trade networks.  Their may not be much left to buy, and many people will have little sympathy for billionaires, and may well turn violent against the haves.  If the future turns ugly, it will be ugly for everyone.  There will not be any islands of wealth and happiness in a sea of troubles, the world is far too interconnected for that to happen.  
Total breakdown? I think it depends on the timeframe you are considering. If you mean, over the next 10 or 20 years or so, I don't see it happening.

I believe one can see many aspects of the near to mid term future future of wealthy first world nations in the current state of many so-called underdeveloped nations. In these places where energy is expensive and per-capita petrol usage is a small fraction to what we have in the US (thinking of most of South America where I have travelled), rich and wealthy in relatively small numbers are of course alive and well. In predominantly poor and decrepit Lima, Peru, I visited the sister of a friend whose husband works as a bank executive. I was impressed, and a bit disturbed,  by her spacious, beautifully furnished and comfortable apartment or condo (not sure if it is rented or owned), probably 3000 square feet, decorated with all sorts of fancy knick-knacks. Of course the luxury high-rise was very secure - gated and guarded to keep the "unwashed masses" at a safe distance.

Anyway, people at this level, and higher, within the "pyramid of privilege" of world industrial civilization, will always exist, in every city in every nation of the world, until finally a total world industrial collapse comes - but I think that is a long, long ways out.

i'm not asking anyone to commit, lock-in, to a date.  my own approach is to take my current best guess (we are loosely at peak oil), and to refine that (or chuck it) as conditions change.  i see no embarassment in a new position, or a new date, if you've learned something new along the way.

fwiw, i just noticed that someone else is typing on this theme:

"The Peak Oil Crisis - Powerdown or Collapse?"
Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press

Odograph: The doomers are definitely choosing to ignore all evidence that contradicts the fast collapse theory. As an example, Germany's oil consumption is 2005 was 27% below the consumption of 1973. No collapse imminent. The downslope of liquid fuel production will be different than Hubbert discussed because he wasn't concerned with crops to liquid fuel or coal to liquid fuel (both of which will supply huge quantities of liquid fuel). By the way, Hubbert predicted oil depletion, not societal collapse. They are not identical, contrary to popular belief. Re the "Mad Max roving gangs" reference that always arises, I have a question. If in, e.g. 2030 these roving gangs have to be fought off with firearms in Georgia or Wisconsin, what do the doomers foresee happening in China, Switzerland, Sweden, Cayman Islands, Japan at the same time? I'm not trying to downplay the situation but the reality is that many of the economic problems the USA is facing are unrelated to oil depletion and would not be solved by new oil discoveries (in my opinion).          
OTOH, trying to separate out what are the consequences that can be attributed to just one cause is hopeless.  Things are never that simple and clear.
OK...  Doomer crystal ball here goes.

  1. Saudi Arabia announces it is in 8% decline in April.
  2. China bids up oil to $80 on June contract in May.
  3. Price wobbles back down to low $70s in June.
  4. A storm forms in the Gulf and oil jumps to $80 in July.
  5. A cat 5 wipes out Louisiana/Texas oil production in Aug.
  6. Two cat 5's rewipe LA/TX oil and refineries in Sept.
  7. Rampant shortages of gasoline in Sept.
  8. Unemployment rises 15% in Sept.
  9. Russia announces a reduction in NG to EU in Sept.
  10. Food riots break out in LA, NY, ATL, Balt, etc. in Oct.
  11. Martial law declared amidst state of emergency in Nov.
  12. Elections suspended under martial law beginning Nov.
  13. US strikes Iran with conventional and nukes in Nov.
  14. Dollar collapses in Nov.
  15. Iran retaliates closing the straights in Nov.
  16. Venezeula stops oil shipments to US. in Nov.
  17. Widespread starvation in US in Nov.
  18. US forces out Chinese interests in Cuba in Nov.
  19. US troops deployed to LA to quell riots in Nov.
  20. Major terrorist attack in US involving nukes.
  21. Congress gives adjorns for the holidays in Nov.
but your question is very good too ...
I'm not surprised to hear the Germany managed to limp along with a great shortfall in production.  At that time, many more people were involved in agriculture, and the system of government was far less complex, so making the simplifications  necessary for a reduction in fuel was probably a simpler process.  However, I believe that similar actions should be possible, if difficult, for the U.S., although I have no idea how great a shortfall this country could sustain.  However, I believe that economic collapse within the next five years is probably a near certainty.  Many factors could cause this collapse to happen sooner, and I think it is quite likely that worldwide economic collapse will ensue sometime in the next 12 months.  After that, the future of the United States will depend a great deal on the choices of politicians in power.  The worse-case scenario would probably involve conflict between the U.S. and Russia or China, which could well correspond to a doomer scenario.    A successful terrorist attack on Saudi Arabian refineries could have a similar effect.  Since both of these scenarios are perfectly plausible, there is certainly a possibility of very severe consequences.  However, if the government reaction to economic hardship is peaceful, our chances of getting out of this will be much improved.  
Too many undefined terms - collapse is in the eye of the beholder.  I think this year will be a very important milestone.  I'm watching very closely how things go, not just in terms of oil production, but also in the climate change, economic, US political, and geopolitical areas.

I have some expectations, such as that we will attack Iran by November, but they are of course just guesses.  There's nothing inherently magical about the end of this year, but there is a lot going on, and I think we will know a lot more by the end of it.  

If you can't give any condition where you would stop believing in impending collapse, then I would have classify your thinking as an unfalsifiable cult belief, or a neurosis.

Humans becoming sane and rational and accepting that doom shall come, thus avoiding collapse.

Sitting in the US, Northern Europe or here in Japan its easy to say that there won't be any doom but for millions of people in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia the shit has already hit the fan. There is already plenty of doom - you just aren't aware of it because it's not on your doorstep yet.
As the dollar starts its inevitable decline, I expect that we will start to see more regional trading blocs (either through military coersion or political collaboration) with their own currency start to emerge around the world to compete with NAFTA & EU blocs. It will be very interesting to see which powers emerge as we go from a hyper-power US unipolar world to a very multi-polar system. Will there be constructive cooperation or destructive conflict.

Venezuela is already competing with the US for the Carribean,

Brazil and Argentina are the two main powers in South America,

South Africa & Nigeria both have rich resource bases in Africa, but they remain politically divided internally

China, India, Russia and Iran competing over Central Asia.

China and Japan are already in friction over the offshore resources

Indonesia has lots of potential in SE Asia, but it's too internally conflicted.

This quick review shows that while the countries that are large and have lots of natural resources, many remain too internally divided or corrupt to project their power.

Of all of those mentioned, Russia seems ready to start reasserting itself in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Concerning Indonesia....and now they have a volcano which may add to their internal conflictions:

New Subject. Do you think FDG is worth keeping?
What does FDG stand for?
I noticed that article.  Asia Times makes Al Jazeera look like the Christian Science Monitor.  It will be amazing if the United States manages to cement Russia and China together.  I mean, will Lenin be laughing at the neocons or what?
Wow, who couldn't see this coming? The entire world is angry at Bush & Co. Who'd a thunk it?

The next step these blocs need to take is to tell the World Bank, IMF, and WTO that it's time for a "come to Jesus" meeting. The international version of the "company store loan" can never be paid off. It's not meant to be paid off. It's meant to enrich the lenders and the old school dictators who accepted them decades ago.

Operating in blocs under new leadership, many of these countries finally have the clout to restructure their loans on terms favorable to themselves as well as renegotiate trade rules.

I watched the ABC "news" webcast linked yesterday, and I find an interesting silver lining.

For all the cornucopian talk, they acknowledged that oil prices won't come down again, and so new, more expensive supplies are becoming available.

Also, this came out the same time as GM announced the end of the Hummer. (There goes a lot of advertising revenue for the networks, per WesTexas' "Iron Triangle.").

It's possible that the entire supply demand curve associated with oil decline will take place -- with people, companies and media outlets racing for the most effecient products possible -- while still denying the causes of it.

On the other hand, saying that oil is produced for "ten cents" a gallon makes the average viewer lean towards conspiracy and "corporate greed," which in the medium to long run can't be good for the oil companies and allies.  

"Also, this came out the same time as GM announced the end of the Hummer."

Can I trouble you for a link? A quick google for "GM announces hummer cancelled" turned up nothing.


It is only the Hummer 1 that is being discontinued. The H2 and H3 will continue on. Speculation in the market is that GMC would like to unload that line - but I do not think there are too many interested buyers.

It was in an article in San Francisco Chronicle today.

they are only stoping the older h1 line. the h2 and h3 which are only marginaly more fuel efficent are still being made.
Just a thought - does the perceived crisis of the Bush administration described in the Asia Times article, if accurate, make a military strike on Iran more or less likely ?
If these were normal people running the show, I'd fuly expect them to back off in consideration of the global backlash that would result from an attack on one more country.

However, these are not sane people. As Bush has stated, "god" tells him what to do. So I would not put it past the Neocons to attack.

In the "I'm still trying to understand various scenarios" column, I've been thinking hard crash and very possibly die back as prices skyrocket.  But what happens if (say Iran closes the Straits of Hormuz after we or Israel bomb them) as prices blast through the stratosphere, Bush simply exercises eminent domain and basically nationalizes U.S. oil reserves?  We'll be down 75% of our usage and our economy will certainly tank (which it would have anyway given the scenario), but the feds can allocate the remainder to critical areas such as food, water, and energy production.  Feds control production and pricing, have to finally face alternatives, and have bought some time to shift while avoiding some of the misallocations of remaining resources that would occur in a free marketplace.
Perhaps this scenario could work with intelligent leadership, but it won't happen with Bush and his friends.  The oil companies certainly don't want their domestic production nationalized, and the oil men who control our national policy are not going to relinquish international oil for 2% of world oil reserves.  I think a good shock to the system is just what we need, though.  How much oil do people think this country needs to scrape by?  I feel like 25% of current production levels would be disastrous, but what about 90% or 95%?
Who knows what ethanol stocks are out there other than PEIX (Pacific Ethanol)? This hype is getting out of control and a little water is due to be splashed on it.
You might look at Anderson (ANDE). PEIX has nothing actually built.

Most ethanol is done through mid-west co-ops but that is about too change I think.

ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) does ethanol along with a lot of other stuff like HFCS and soybean processing.

They should become a player. Their new CEO is from Ford I believe . . .

Chevron, according to May 15 Business Week. The one page article mentioned agricultural output getting shifted from food to products currently made from petroleum, e.g. fuel.

I appreciate the correction.

Any plausible doom scenario requires a collapse of  effective government.  The collapse of a government is very much like an earthquake.  You can't predict when exactly it occurs but you can recognize the internal stresses that might cause it to collapse.

Don't get me wrong I don't see any good reason why our present government might collapse and therefore I am not a doomer.  But then again the stresses might not be apparent beforehand.  One thing I do get concerned about is the ever increasing complexity of civiliation.  I think it leaves us vulnerable to smaller and smaller shocks to the system.      


Yes, the article is very interesting.  I posted a link to it at RGB...and immediately drew fire from one of the others there: He did not like the messenger.
If you liked that Asian Times article, others by that author have been published.   The author's website is

Personally, I consider his work more creative fiction than reporting, and that he is a tool of the Asian Times seems fitting.   No doubt several readers of TOD will buy into his stories of the supposed machinations of the Pentagon et. al.  

What is always ironic in these situations is that when new people come across an author writing on a topic that really gels with some of their notions, and then take those newly discovered writings as a source of confirmation for those notions, that the newbies don't realize it may have been that very author who wrote an article years earlier that planted the idea in their head to begin with...

I agree that anything from the Asia Times should be viewed with more than a grain of sand. However, it does provide a needed anecdote to the party line of our own MSM. For instance, there have been fascinating articles from retired intelligence officers in India.

Also, even paranoid writers sometimes reveal interesting perspectives and glimmers of truth. At least it lets us see how other countries think. (Some of the worst writers there, however, are not Asians.)

I've learned to avoid reading anything from "Spengler." What a buffoon!

According the the NY Times today in the business section "To increase output from the current 9 million barrels a day, to 10.5 million in 2030, Russia will need to invest $900 billion in oil field technology".

So there is at least an acceptance that it takes lots of time and money for a modest production increase.

All these 000 get confusing. 1.5 million additional barrels
at a cost of $900 billion? $600,000 per added barrel??
1.5 mil b/d!
Times 365 days a year times however many years - and it starts looking cheaper huh?
It's 1.5 million barrels per day, at a cost of 600,000$ per barrel per day.  Thus, assuming the added production continues for five or six years, the cost would come down to roughly 300$ per barrel, still an incredible amount by todays standards, but perhaps not completely unreasonable given the direction the price of oil is heading.  Also, when considering that the 900 billion dollars is a subsidy of the oil industry, and the fact that our government already subsidizes oil a great deal, this may not be unreasonable at all.  With all the hidden costs associated with the war in Iraq, tax cuts to the oil companies etc.  who's to say that the real cost of oil isn't more like 300$ a barrel.  
This is exactly why production peaks. It is not economic to  raise production after peak production. The energy cost is to o high for it to make sense. Oil production will fall.
Oil Executive (Re: Russian Oil Production):  "What could be wrung from the older fields has been tapped"

What I found interesting in the article was the statement by an executive VP with the TNK-BP Joint Venture, Kris Sliger, "What could be wrung from the older fields has been tapped."  

The Russian Energy Minister previously warned of the possibility of a "real collapse in oil production," (if they don't launch an immediate frontier exploration program).

Hi Jeffrey

I'm wireless now, I can post!

Anyway, we've gone around about this Russian production thing and I'm coming more and more to your point of view. That TNK-BP statement really impressed me as well. Even if Rosneft teamed up with some big foreign investment bucks now, depletion would still outrace the long lead times for production in the outrageously difficult geological areas where development would have to take place. In general, see my Russian production story.

It may stay level this year (and maybe next) but it's definitely all downhere from there. I truly wonder if people here at TOD know now important this really is. Russia bailed the world out in the last four years but in the next four, even if Saudi Arabia gets to 12.5/mbpd, any gains might be offset by Russia. As usual, running harder to stay in place.

best, Dave

I read the Asia Times this week article you referenced at the top of this thread. It is interesting and the guy makes some points.

His point about the USA being militarily unchallengable is correct. As to nations like Bolivia seizing their own Natural Gas fields as this is part of the array against the USA, well, I think he goes too far. Politics tend to be local and the revolution in Venezuela, the change in Bolivia, and soon change likely in Peru - is about the indigenous people in the case of the last two, and the lower class in Venezuela - but all three represent the poor who won the election, in part riled up by the negative impact of globalization on thier lives. And local issues like the suppression of the Coca growers in Peru and Bolivia.

Globalization benefits some and hurts some. Its impact is why the world's economy is booming, but it does not reach all corners and with modern media it is right in your face, even in a small village in a remote land.

By the way, the guy is a "gold-nut" who wrote the article. I am not sure how that would color is thinking, but during a crisis the price of gold does go up.

The world economy is booming? Globalization did it?

That's a stretch bigger than Engdahl's.

Say what you will about the many 'local' situations in South America it is something very new for an American Secretary of State to deliver a formal address in S. America and be openly laughed at.

Yeah, that article pulled my strings and I had to go back and parse where I got manipulated. The main points, that American power has declined precipitously under Bush and his Keystone Cops, and that America is losing resource battles in Asia are true. Whether you like the atimes argumentation or not.

MSM Translator: "The world economy is booming"-the number of multimillionaires and billionaires is at a record level.

The world economy is booming. That is part of the reason for the squeeze on oil. It is not just about China and a distant India gathering speed. May 6 issue of Economist in back page - % increase from last year of GDP:

  1. China 10.2%
  2. Indonesia 4.9%
  3. Pakistan 8.4%
  4. Argentina 9.1%
  5. Egypt 5.2%
  6. Turkey 9.5%
  7. Peru 4.9%

Much of this is due to liberal trading rules. There was an article I saw a few days ago about sweatshop conditions for woman from Bangladesh working in Jordan of all places. Turns out they have a sweet trade arrangement with the USA (EU too?) so some enterprising soon to be a millionaire opens a clothing manufacturing plant in Jordan.

I agree that the USA is losing some of its dominance of resources centers in Asia (and elsewhere, like in Africa), but we have not really relied that much on Asia for raw material. We get the majority of it in this hemisphere. It is the Europeans and Japan that really should be more worried, though they have to a degree started changing their style earlier and quicker. One and two solar users are Japan and Germany  - Than comes California.

IMO China's GDP will grow quite well at $100 oil. American consumers are going to be in for a rude awakening when they realize they are losing the auction.  
Jack Greene you are an optimist. Thank god there are people disposed to optimism, we'd be in rough shape without you.
On the other hand, I disagree with you so completely. What good comes from that Bangladeshi woman you mention working in a sweatshop in Jordan? If I tell you a story about Afghan 'landlords' and Afghan poppy farmers setting in train largescale economic activity that includes Pakistani mules, Indian bankers, Singaporan money-launderers, South African mercenaries, Mexican dealers, and of course American MBAs, well, is this a good thing? GDP is GDP, GNP is GNP and there's a lot of economic activity generated by heroin. Most of it doesn't even have a bad smell unless you are suspicious and finicky. And it is so globalized.
I think that Bangladeshi woman is in hell, the family she left behind is in hell, and the sweatshop owner is getting rich now but he will go to hell soon enough.
The Economist does advocacy rather than journalism, I believe nothing I read there, though it is sometimes interesting.
For some of the countries on your list I'm inclined to think someone just makes those numbers up. The only Argentinian I know left 50 years back and has little contact, all the other countries on your list I do know nationals and/or people who have lived and worked in recent years and IMO the raw numbers say next to nothing, even when they aren't just fiction? What good does it do Indonesia to have a little temporary income if it means cutting down the forest, burning the forest, draining the swamps, draining the peat bogs (to grow palm oil biodiesel!!). And so forth. The dismal science tells us so little.

Optimist - I like to think that I am not too cynical! And a realist. One of my favorite sayings, from Bismarck, is "Politics is the art of the possible."

I think we can both agree that sweatshops are for the most part lousy - some shops that manufacture clothing, etc. are better than others. Like Costco is better than WalMart for their employees.

But the woman who left her family and went to Jordan just traded spots in hell. Moved from one hell to another, and I think we can both agree in the coming warming period Bangladesh will get smacked harder than just about any place large. My point is that the finger of globalization is darting into all sorts of places. And that Jordan sweatshop means that some middle management are joining the middle class in Jordan, some money is being sent home to Bangladesh, the local food outlets are selling more (maybe some stuff they never sold before either), etc.

So what is driving this?

Rampant population growth, which may only now be slowing. We must control population at the same-time we cut back in GHG. And by leaving poverty we cut down on population growth. It is a hell of a conundrum.

By the way, I think all drugs, including heroin, should be legalized and available for use. Solve burglery problems overnight in the USA and UK.

OK we agree on some things. Drugs would be of little harm if not criminalized. And population growth is a universal negative at this point in time.
I think if you start the process of wealth accumulation - what Marx called the primitive accumulation - by oppressing your neighbor the process is tainted at the root and no good will ever come of it. We've had enough time to accumulate wealth and there's no sign that continuing the same old process leads to a different result. How many times do you repeat an experiment and hope for a different result? Look at China - the big big examplar of economic growth - and you see GHG, resource depletion, environmental degradation, pollution, piles of garbage and for nothing. Health and healthcare going downhill for 80% of the population. Those who participate in the growth mentally mired in archaic capitalist tropes that have already left us in a mess. High costs of liquid transport fuels will I dearly hope soon end this rubbish of globalization

I think I understand, at least for myself, the different wave-lengths our two minds are on. You see Globalization and the damage it is doing because of continuing demolition of the world environment. Rampant economic growth by the old rules will certainly bring about world wide catastrophe.

I am simply being realistic, understanding what is happening, and trying to educate those I can that are around me. You see globalization as, well if not evil, certainly not a good thing, because of the destruction it brings.

I see it as reality of the world and human nature. Can we conquer human nature? We are essentially animals cast up from the Pleistocene and too successful with our large brain-cases. I have an Aussie friend who argues that the reason there are no real flying saucers is that the other species run up to this point and end up destroying their planets before they can go off world.

"Much of this is due to liberal trading rules." - Liberal economic policy has nothing much to do with these growth numbers. China grows by coal. The chinese coal production growth is about 9% a year. Besides China has significant domestic oil production. Indonesian oil is depleting, but there is still enough for domestic use - and the country is a net energy exporter (lots of coal). Pakistan grows by increasing domestic natural gas production, Egypt also (and Egypt is an oil exporter). Argentina is recovering from a deep depression - and has still considerable resources of domestic oil and gas. Turkey is also recovering from a severe resecession and has the new pipelines.

Rising oil and energy prices have benefited those countries that export energy or have at least some domestic resources. This has made them possible to liberalize their trade policies - they can afford it, because they have absolutely or relatively better trade balance now.

Energy is the underlying factor behind those new industrialising countries. Look for energy - and not just oil.


Interesting points. But even the Philippines is doing well in growth. If the Third world was not booming there would be no oil problem, at least not today. Oil will go down in price in the next recession (2007? 2008? 2009?). But I stand by my point, the third world is for the most part booming. Even Vietnam is doing well with its liberalization on capitalism. Doing what China did.

Now growth in many of these third world countries is lopsided. And we all know about trickle-down economics. Lots of poverty is left and lots of stuff that will hit the wall in the next few years. All this third world economic boom is doing is trying to keep up with the population bomb that is going off right now. The only good sign out there in my mind is the Third World is starting to cut back on runaway population growth, but it is way too late. In my mind major starvation is around the corner.

P.S. Pakistan is real excited about Iran running a NG pipeline through/to Pakistan as her industry and population will need it.

IMO, North Americans will be quite shocked when oil prices do not go down in the next recession, but actually continue going up. Oil depletion is happening within the context of a massive transfer of wealth from the first world (specifically the working class) to the third world (primarily Asia, led by China). Jack is right in stating that global GDP growth is higher because of this massive wealth transfer.The USA is currently a no growth economy, soon to be a declining economy. This will happen within the context of continued strong global growth and rising oil prices.      
Vietnam has growing coal production - and oil and gas too. In fact North Vietnam has has coal based industrialization since the French colonial days.

the Philippines is an interesting case. But just look the energy production statistics - natural gas is growing since 2001 and coal production is up. The share of domestic production of the total conumption is not high, but own production is easing the trade balance problem. Thus the Philippines is able to increase its energy cnsumption without the risk of massive trade deficit. Besides, Philippines has secondary benefits from the Chinese boom and Middle East oil bonanza, mainly in the form of money the Philippine workers send home.

Most of the Asian growth is energy induced, directly or indirectly. The Chinese coal based massive growth has also increased demand for raw materials, which is felt almost everywhere. Many countries have opened up, but this has been possible because of the domestic energy production that has reduced the risk of running a dangerously high current account deficit.

Look for countries where domestic energy production is increasing and you find the opening up, new industrializing countries.

If we look for energy, we see that the most famous success cases of neoliberal policies were in fact based on energy (UK/Thatcherism - North Sea, US/Reaganism - Alaska, New Zealand - natural gas, Denmark - North Sea...).    

What I found very telling about the US/Iran standoff last week 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 are tanking.

I think the big game is under way.
I think that this is one of the best reads on the whole US and Iraq war that I have found.  You need to get past the gloom and doom title and read down abit to get to the good stuff.  This isn't a angle that I have read on any MSM.  War can be waged in many forms - destroying another nations currency is no doubt effective.  It would appear that the US thinks it's currency is under attack.  Wether this is true or that the rest of the world thinks it isn't worth much anymore is debatable.

Odograph - We are in the begining of demand destruction.  Central Oregon resorts are offing a $50.00 fuel "gift card" if you come spend 2 days/nights.  I would assume they are losing some bussiness.  
Timelines are not possible.  I bet that everything will happen- war, disease, famine, and death and it just depends on where you are as to what you will find, to what degree, and how soon. Any farmer with half a brain understands "carrying capacity".  We have lots of "tech" and worship it like some sort of god that will save us.
In the end we are biological, tied to this planet, and not very good stewards.  My wife believes that a variant of bird flu will take us out before all this other crap happens.

something occurs to me.  that is that "peak oil" is a time based phenomenum.  this site has recurring postings of hubbert's peak, plotted over time.  actually we have:

  • oil production over time
  • oil discoveries over time
  • oil reserve changes over time
  • oil prices over time
  • gasoline stocks over time
  • vehicle miles over time
  • vehicle mpg over time
  • etc.

lots of "time."

so when people say that "doom" can't be plotted, what does that mean?  is it maybe that they are not really coming to the doom position from a peak oil foundation?  because the traditional "peak oil" method (going back to Hubbert) is to look at those plots "over time" and try to understand the scale of the problem.

It's impossible to predict when a catastrophic event will occur, such as economic collapse because the system is so complex.  It is easy to measure when a system is at risk of collapsing, and many people at the oil drum have made those measurements.  They include cost of energy, loss of biological diversity, the trade deficit, etc.  All of these measurements are very negative, and show that the U.S. is at high risk of some kind of economic collapse.  However, the trigger can be anything, and is completely unpredictable.  If you balance a block on a ball, you know that something will disturb it and it will fall over because it is very unstable, but you do not know when the event that finally knocks it over will come.  This is a similar situation.  
"However, the trigger can be anything, and is completely unpredictable."

that would tell me that you aren't coming at this completely "from" peak oil.

Hubert and peak oil has math and at least some history to measure the time factor.  US oil production has given us a preview.  Perhaps Easter Island is our measurement of what happens when an unsustainable population hits peak rescources.  It is the only place with an applicable history. If there was records of what went on and the time it took maybe we could use that to develope a likely senario for the future.

Let us look at some of these points.

  • Russia is paying off debt, probably a good move to make Russia look better at G8 meetings.
  • Point 2&3 - Putin is smart
  • Iran is cheating and wants to make a nuke bomb. Does anybody still think that they don't intend to do this?
  • When the National Guard goes down and helps stop a bit more of the illegal immigrants flooding into the USA, will you still say they are preparing for the next Katrina or the bombing of Iran? Bush is doing this to help keep his political base in line.
  • USA dollar down about 1/3rd from last year's gain and the Dow will be up by the middle of next week.

Over the next two weeks there will be further acts of diplomacy over Iran. After that the fireworks units will be getting warmed up. The big aircraft carriers will be no where near there until much later.

By the way, the President of Iran's letter did NOT help his cause. Even NPR had to interview a professor who said it was a dumb letter.


What about the ruble-based energy exchange?  How do you read that?

I thought Ahmadinejad's letter was quite elegant, basically saying, "Mr. claim to be a born again Christian, yet your actions are anything but Christian."  I think his letter also did not hurt his cause if anyone read it (I highly recommend everyone read the original).  It frames him as a human being.  If you didn't read it and only listened to the administration/MSM's response, then it was spun as a slap in the face to the US.  I am not saying Ahmadinejad does not have alterior motives, but the letter, taking by itself was very interesting and unusual coming from one president to another.

The enriched uranium discovery could also have been planted evidence to make Iran look bad (see, they are evil and want WMD just like Iraq).

National Guard troops on US/Mex border could also be deployed to prevent draft dodgers from leaving the US.  The Canadian border is less a problem because Canada has said they will not allow draft dodgers asylum in Canada (have to find the link, but I remember reading it not so long ago).

So, Jack, I appreciate your "read" of recent events, but like me, they are just your preceptions, open to interpretation.


Well there is one thing we agree on. You should read the letter. Elegant, however, was not the word that sprang into my mind. Interesting is one word but also "religious high" (two words) and we know that problem in this country.

Draft dodgers to Mexico? It is a felony in Mexico to be undocumented and in Mexico. If their president got stomped on last week by our govt. on their thought about liberalizing their drug policy, what do you think Fox would do over draft dodgers?

Reintroducing the draft would take another 9/11+. It is just about as unpopular as campaigning on raising the gas tax.

As to a rouble base exchange, it makes economic sense. I think that is why Iran is trying to do it. Heck, have an exchange for an important, nay vital, material like oil located in your nation with your money as the exchange agent. I'll buy some of that stock, well, not if it is in Tehran right now.

Ahmadinejad must know there is nothing he can do to stop a US attack (short of selling out to US corporations) if that is what the US decides to do.  Certainly not in a letter.  

I did read the letter, and I thought it was good in the purpose it was intended, which IMHO was to paint the US as a villan to those who might be sympathetic to Iran.  The US response was "there's nothing useful here", this is worthless.  Well, duh.    And we would have shit on it whatever it said, because it's not in the administration's interest to negotiate anything but surrender.

There was also an element of the inability of two very different cultures to communcate in the letter.  I'm not sure they could talk if they wanted to, at least not without an intermediary.

The neocons want to fight, and the Iranians are going to make it as tough as they can.  


If the letter had discussed a way to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, you bet Condi would have responded. I especially liked the way he outlined why Israel needed to be eliminated in his letter.

I found this restricted article that you might enjoy - sorry for its length but it costs plenty to get on line:

Iran Plans for Attrition War in Gulf
Exercise Featured Small Boats, Hit-and-Run Attacks


A superfast torpedo and other flashy new weapons grabbed the headlines when Iranian leaders staged a very public set of naval exercises in early April. But the small boats that put to sea armed with rockets, machine guns and mines showed how Iran would actually fight if rising tensions over its nuclear program should lead to war in the Arabian Gulf.

Groups of the boats might swarm around U.S. warships, then withdraw into the cover of islands, haze and shipping, analysts and observers say. Suicide bombers might aim to duplicate the 2000 attack that crippled the destroyer USS Cole. Others might position mines and missiles to threaten the oil tankers that carry one-fifth of the world's daily petroleum traffic through the Strait of Hormuz.

"Iranians are preparing for guerrilla warfare at sea," said Ali-Asghar Kazemi, a retired Iranian Navy admiral who is a political science professor at Tehran University. "Like operations on land, when two unequal opponents face each other, the best way for the weak side is to resort to a war of attrition and guerrilla operations."

U.S. planners have been laying plans to meet such assaults -- especially since a 2002 war game in which swarming boats decimated a U.S. fleet.

Iranian Tactics

Such small boats will likely form the core striking force if the international showdown over Iran's uranium-enrichment program leads to open war in the Gulf.

Iran's larger vessels -- three old British Vosper Mk-5 frigates, two aging U.S.-built PF-103 corvettes, even its three Kilo-class diesel submarines -- would likely stay home, Kazemi said.

Instead, Iran could sortie nearly 400 small, high-speed craft armed with rocket launchers, torpedoes and mines. Army Gen. John Abizaid, who leads U.S. Central Command, told lawmakers in March that Iran also has been spreading them out along its 2,000-mile coastline by constructing more naval bases.

Iran has a few dozen C-802 anti-ship missiles, which it purchased from China in the early 1990s. The subsonic, radar-guided C-802 skims the sea's surface to strike targets up to 140 kilometers away.

"These small Iranian craft can simply launch quick hit-and-run assaults on oil tankers, and many of the small craft can outrun the heavier destroyers and frigates," said Mustapha Al-Ani, director of security studies at the Gulf Research Center here.

Boats and midget submarines loaded with high explosives also could ram giant oil tankers or aircraft carriers in suicide attacks, said Qassem Jaafar, a defense analyst based in Doha, Qatar.

Iranian forces also might target Arab states' coastal installations, such as oil refineries, ports and desalination plants with the C-802 and other missiles, said Sami Al-Faraj, president of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.

Iranian officials have hinted that, in a war, they might strike Gulf tankers or oil installations in an attempt to push up oil prices and punish Western economies.

And Arab Gulf states expect terrorist attacks if war breaks out between the United States and Iran.

"Regional intelligence agencies have been monitoring all suspicious Iranian activities, and the [Kuwaiti] Coast Guard will play a lead role in preventing Iranian agents from entering the Gulf states," Al-Faraj said.

Kazemi said the Iranian military command turned to a guerrilla strategy after U.S. and Iranian naval forces clashed in the 1980s. After a naval mine nearly sank a U.S. guided missile frigate in April 1988, American forces sent two Iranian warships and at least three armed boats to the bottom in the daylong battle called Operation Praying Mantis.

The lesson was that "in a purely classical naval engagement, the Iranian Navy would not be able to sustain combat capability and will soon be out of effective operation," the retired admiral said.

Kazemi assessed April's small-boat maneuvers in this way:

"In an enclosed, narrow and rather shallow region such as the Persian Gulf, this tactic can be very decisive against large units and can deny the enemy from effective deployment, sea lines of communication and power projection."

Some say the Iranian naval threat could be blunted by quick U.S. action.

"Of course, the impact on the world economy would be big if Iranian naval boats succeed in hitting some tankers or oil installations," Jaafar said. "But this economic impact would be temporary and the world market would recover quickly as soon as U.S. forces obliterate the Iranian Navy and Air Force and establish full control over the Gulf."

U.S. Tactics

The U.S. Navy has been thinking about the problem of small craft at least as long as Iran has. U.S. attacks on Iran's naval command-and-control infrastructure may keep most swarms from ever finding their targets.

Surveillance is key: If the raiders can be tracked as they swarm from their bases, they can be sunk with Rockeye cluster bombs and other munitions.

Boats that get close to a U.S. warship would likely be engaged with the few large-caliber machine guns -- or, by those ships lucky enough to carry the improved 1B version of the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System -- by six shell-spitting Gatling barrels guided by a radar tuned to pick small craft out of the ocean's radar "grass."

"A major ship could find itself surrounded by large numbers of these things and wouldn't be able to pick them off before they'd get a hit," New York-based naval analyst Norman Friedman said. "And in radar, they tend to blend in the traffic. But I'm somewhat skeptical this would work."

Friedman said it would be difficult for the boats, which carry no sophisticated sensors, to find their targets.

Yet, he said, "They become more impressive when you talk them in a suicide role. The Iranians demonstrated suicide tactics during the Iran-Iraq war, and [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is constantly bringing up that example inside Iran."

In the 2002 Joint Forces Command war game Millennium Challenge, anti-U.S. forces used swarms of small boats and aircraft to rip into a U.S. invasion fleet, sending much of it to the bottom of a shallow sea.

Iranian Statements

As rumors swirl in Washington about U.S. military contingency plans to bomb Iranian nuclear sites, Jaafar said Iranian ballistic missile launchers and other military and defense-industry infrastructure would be high on the target list if U.S. forces struck pre-emptively at the Iranian nuclear program.

But the Iranian grand strategy has been to attempt to make all options appear futile to get the international community to accept a nuclear-capable Iran.

Iran "already has the nuclear know-how, and thus this process cannot be stopped, even by war," said Ali Larijani, secretary-general of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council. "Iran is a vast country and they [Americans] cannot bomb everything, and if they attack, we would proceed in our nuclear activities in a clandestine manner."

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, said at the end of the April exercises, "You [the United States] can start a war, but it won't be you who finishes it." *

Christopher P. Cavas contributed to this report from Washington.

Check out the price of Natural Gas at San Jose Airport

Is CNG price based on btu equivalents.

I believe so... the price that is quoted at CNG station is for natural gas equivalent to Gallon of gasoline.

One issue.. the current compression levels only allow for 200 mile range on these vehicles. Obviously for taxis this is not that good since time wasted at station means less fares. However, I have seen that other countries have higher compression levels so the range could be improved substantially.

Based on prices, CNG definitely makes sense for any kind of fleets... less pollution as well.

I am sick and tired of news stories that do not do the simple math and arrive at the obvious conclusions.

I have seen literally DOZENS of news stories about the Nigerian gasoline explosion and how "despite 2.5MMbd production, the 130 million people live in poverty."

Let's do the math, shall we? Get out your calculators and follow along people.

Let's be generous! We'll pay $75/bbl because Nigerian crude is the lightest and the sweetest.

That comes to $187.5 million/day gross.

Let's say cost to extract is $0. ZIP. Nada. The oil companies sell it and then distribute the cash directly to the population, even-steven among them all.

That comes to $187.5 million/day distributed among 130 million people. Let's see, long division, carry the three...

WOO HOO! $1.44 per person per day! Now THAT would lift them out of poverty!! LESS THAN ONE AND A HALF DOLLARS PER DAY!!!


Thought experiment: Nigeria magically multiplies its output by 10x (!!!). Now each person gets $14.42/day. That's not a whole lot better!!

You would have made your point far more convincingly without the cockroaches line.  I'm not accusing you of anything, but that's the kind of comment that can VERY easily be construed in an online conversation as racist, and lead the conversation down a blind alley you never intended.
Thanks for the math...don't think population will get any better soon, especially in Nigeria.  I didn't mind the cockroach reference since I understood it to refer to humanity in general and I'm misanthropic to begin with.
I must admit, I also find that it bugs me when people don't so simple math.

For instance you say "130 million people live in poverty". Well according to the CIA World Factbook.. that would basically be the entire population of Nigeria.
see -

Also, according to this resource about 60% of the population of Nigeria actually live in poverty.

So the math would be 132 million x 60% = 79.2 million people living in poverty not 130 million.

Still way too much poverty... but please... do the simple math.

Hate to spoil the party, but there's also a serious question about what the actual population of Nigeria is.
Could be considerably more than 130 million.
Really? There's a serious question? Where is this serious question that I've never seen mention of? This is a party? If not 130 million, then what? Isn't the serious question - who cares?
1.44 is more than all their other exports combined. It's the fertiliser that would triple their agricultural production, the medicine that would keep their daughter alive, the shared TV set, battery, and solar panel that would give the village something to do at night.
Very OT:

Does anyone have a link/remember the thread where someone posted a picture of the ASPO depletion model with an overlay of what one might infer the net energy situation to look like (available energy makes a sharp downturn post peak, though the graph doesn't show any real decline before that point--an error I believe).


Nobody can possibly give timeframe for collapse,
since it is dependent on a huge number of
factors, most of which cannot be predicted
accurately. What we can do is look at trends
and make reasonable projectuons based on those

Let's speculate on GOM oil and gas extraction.
If there are no major hurricanes in the GOM over
the next two years, previously damaged rigs may
be returned to service and some new drillings
completed, thereby maintaining or increasing
extraction.  If there are half a dozen hurricanes
over the next two years of Katrina severity, GOM
extraction could be down to 50% of current level
by August 2008.

Then there's the matter of producing saleable
products form the oil.  Repetition of 2005 (or
worse) could see fuel shortages in the US
translate to an international shortage that
destabilises the entire world economy.

Realistically we should say: 'major problemns
are likely to develop some time between July
2006 and July 2009', since global warming is
accelerating and the trend for hurricanes
looks rather dismal.  

The precautionary principle indicates an urgent
need for preparation, since the crisis could
emerge 3 months from now. Early preparation
provides some measure of safety. Regrettably
we live in a society predicated on best case
scenario, (IEA rosy growth of oil to 120
million a day etc. ) rather than worst case

So when the worst case arrives 'unexpectedly',
there is likely to be chaos.

I read William Engdahl's article last week and thought it was a pretty good summary of what's going on at the moment.

If you see the world in terms of "the great chess game," then it doesn't seem very surprising. I think it's right that the realists are now making their move, and Bush may be resigned by fall.

I always try to watch James Baker, the ultimate realist and enforcer for the Bush family. He's the "fixer." I think they're going to fix the dangerous world that has been created by Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld using the family's prodigal son.

It's all kind of oedipal, in a way ...

Previously I talked abuout merging Brazil and the US to form a ethnol cartel a shorter term merger is intresting and possible this is the merger of the US Canada and Mexico. It makes the whole concept of producer supplier mute. For Mexico you see a mass migration of upper class citizens into the US or Canada you see the cold weary canadians moving south in exchange we get access to both oil deposits. Actually it makes the foray into Iraq a bit funny considering that unifying Mexico an Cananda into the US consuptiom numbers results in a country which has almost zero needs for imports. Finally the light integration of Brazil to provide ethonal follow on from sugarcane throws the whole system energy positive. Not to mentition follow on alternative resousce such wind and solar and wave energy possible inside a Canada/US/Mexico union.

So to the doomsayers out there it look that the US can fallback at anypoint along geographic alliances and achieve energey independence the price we pay is simply unlimited access from Mexico for unskilled workers by hey in a economic collapse situation where China is no longer a primary source of cheap labor we would have Mexico and mexican guest workers to fall back on during the localization period.

Makes me wonder about the current emigration bill since the next step would be to repeal and open the border in exchange for oil. I think the peak oilers are missing the concept of
geographic alliances to protect the last Hummer on the road.
So the current emigration bill is the stick so we can offer the carrot to Mexico in exchange for oil.