DrumBeat: May 16, 2006

Now for some wise words from the readers of The Oil Drum...
The cover story of the McPaper today:

Most Americans aren't likely to make big cuts in gasoline use

"In many ways, this is an insurmountable problem. There is no simple solution to get people to change their driving," says Nick Epley, psychologist and assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

"People adapt to all states of affairs, positive and negative, and more quickly than they think," he says. "If gas were to go up from $2 a gallon to $3 overnight, we'd be up in arms. But it goes up a couple of cents each time you go to the pumps, and pretty soon it's $3 and, 'Yeah, that's what gas costs.'

"And conservation of any kind is tough for people to take. It requires losing something, cutting out part of their lifestyles," he says.

The Dallas Morning News profiled some drivers in this morning's paper.  

One driver, a suburban mother of two, said that you could have the keys to her SUV when you pried them out of her cold dead fingers.

On a somewhat more positive note, another driver, who had been making a 50 mile roundtrip per day to and from EDS in Plano (a suburb of Dallas), moved to the Shops at Legacy, a New Urbanism project, right across the street from EDS.  He now walks to work.

I'm not implying a gender difference (the genders could have easily been switched), but these two case histories represent the dumb response and the smart response to Peak Oil.  

Unfortunately, I suspect that the ratio of dumb to smart may be about ten to one--partly because of the concerted "Iron Triangle" effort to persuade Americans to keep buying and financing large homes and SUV's.  In the NYT story on driving patterns a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the fact that just about the only people who had curtailed their driving were the ones that were financially incapable of buying more gasoline.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I see 3 points in time where you can respond.

Proactive Response - Taking steps to curb driving/fuel consumption, start carpooling, taking mass transit/ biking more often, moving closer to work, etc long before it hits your budget significantly.

Reactive Response - Waiting to do all of the above until it becomes "very expensive" to not do it (expensive is a relative term of course).

No Choice - Waiting to do all of the above until you absolutely have no choice - repossessing the car/truck, bankruptcy, unemployment, etc

I suspect most people will respond somewhere between Reactive and No Choice. That means demand destruction instead of efficiency.

THe #1 factor IMHO is having a positive alternative nearby - trains, buses, ferries, bike facilities, etc.

Furthermore, every suburban subdivision should be fighting for a nearby plot of land or vacant brownfield site to be converted to a grocery/drug store and/or farmer's market connected to sidewalks and mass transit - maybe even (god forbid) no parking lot.

westexas quote "One driver, a suburban mother of two, said that you could have the keys to her SUV when you pried them out of her cold dead fingers."

Jim Minter's eerily prescient assessment of the ramifications of peak oil back in 1996 in the classic piece Joyride to Global Collapse said; Here's a prediction for you. In the next two decades millions of Americans will begin a serious search for an alternative to the gasoline-powered automobile. It is not going to be a happy search. If you think trying to wean gun owners from their passion for firearms is a hornet's nest, try talking to the great majority of us about reining in our passion for the automobile. Lordy! And yet, most of us agree there is a problem, vaguely phrased as, "There are too many other people out there clogging up the highways and slowing me down." Otherwise our attitude is similar to the rabid firearms bumper sticker:

    "You'll get my car when you pry my cold, dead fingers from around the steering wheel."
Fantastic article for 1996 (it could have been written in 2006). Having said that, certain parts of the oil depletion theory are not playing out as scripted. The theory that as oil goes up in price everything else goes up in price is simply wrong. In fact, as oil has gone from $10 in 1998 to $70 currently many expenditures have gone down in price. In Toronto currently for 1 barrel of oil you can buy: 1. a fine meal for two 2.a cheap TV 3.a DVD player. My point is that oil can go to $350 without everything going up in price. If everything went up in price as oil or gasoline went up, drivers would be faced with a different situation. As it is, the expense of driving a car is competing for the consumer's dollar with other expenses which are not increasing at the same rate. If this trend continues, it will affect driving habits. Everything (including driving) has a price. I know everyone loves to compare drivers to crack addicts but there is a difference between the two groups (hard as it is to accept).      
A couple of points:
  1. There is a time lag for lots of goods/services for prices to rise because of underlying costs. I've seen many articles citing retailers who were straining to 'hold the line' on prices. The dam will break at some point and everything will go up.
  2. Goods/services that stay relatively cheap will be those that have a high labor component. Labor is the essential ingredient that is getting cheaper. Look at the declining real median income in the US, not to mention all the outsourcing to foreign sweatshops.
  3. The real crunch will IMO not be high gasoline price but unavailability of gasoline with increasing numbers of spot shortages. (ok, so it was more than a couple...)
The relativity is the important thing. Even though people love to drive, they only have one dollar to spend and at a certain price level they will decide that driving just isn't worth it (I am simplifying to make a point). Good point about wages- they are definitely not going to keep up with energy costs.
Yeah, relative income/purchasing power is sometimes forgotten in our focus on prices. If the unemployment rate goes up and/or wages creep downward, the effect is higher price for gasoline, etc. even if nominal price stays the same. If unemployment goes up drastically, even $1.50/gal could be expensive gasoline.
It's called the Purchasing Power Parity and it is available @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purchasing_power_parity.

If things continued in terms of economic growth, by 2030 or so many countries will have passed us in PPP.

SaturnV -
Thanks for sharing this article. Fantastic! He states all the key elements of the oil depletion problem. I love reading articles from a decade ago that clearly see the problem.

I am stunned at this amazingly accurate prediction:

[As we reach the Peak] Vast windfall profits will be made by some, which will complicate the ability of leaders to explain the reality. And the supply-side religion will tune-up its highly paid chorus.
The economy will slow down but the prices of everything will keep on rising. We will then rediscover the age-old truth: money is not a real thing; it is only an accounting device. Congress can't print oil and they can't repeal the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
These kinds of posts ignore the fact that in many parts of the country, long commutes are a result of people starting out in life, who can't afford to live near work and can't find a job that pays the bills near where they live.

I have been railroaded into a long-term, 100 mile a day commute.  I originally agreed to do it for a limited time, but now face the fact that I stay at my current location, or lose my job completely.  

Finding a new job in another part of the country and relocating is easier said than done.  

It's sad that the incredibly intelligent people on this board still choose to blame the people for their energy-wasting commuting habits, when the fact of the matter is, even in densely populated parts of the nation, there is no meaningful public transportation.  I would gladly choose public transportation if:

  1. It was available.
  2. It didn't take 3-4 times longer to get where I am going where it is available.

Sometimes it's not about dumb and smart, its about $$ and time.  We need realistic alternatives and criticism doesn't get it done.

We need an organized effort to improve the public transportation systems in the US.

That's because many people are actively against mass transit spending, preferring their personal cars and low taxes. I know it's a tough sell in many areas even with gas prices over $3 a gallon. Take this example from a friend in Phoenix a couple of years ago.

It takes a significant investment from the public that many are going to fight, but without real alternatives to the personal automobile, the inelastic demand for gasoline will continue until it reaches a break point and real demand destruction occurs through bankruptcy, repossession of cars/houses, unemployment, etc.

FYI, The light rail won. It's being built here now in PHoenix.
I know and that's great. I just thought it was funny to point out how people just love their freeways...
But hey, what better way to support the highway than to get all of the slow-poke light-rail-lovers off of it?  Right? ;)
"I have been railroaded into a long-term, 100 mile a day commute.  I originally agreed to do it for a limited time, but now face the fact that I stay at my current location, or lose my job completely."  

My guess is that a fairly old sedan probably costs you about 25¢ per mile, while a new large late model SUV probably costs about $1.00 per mile (total driving costs).   So, I would put your monthly commuting costs in a range of about $500 to $2,000 per month.  

Question:  what if you reduced your current living space square footage by 50% and applied an additional $500 to $2,000 toward your rent/house payment.  Could you then afford something within a short distance of your job?  You should also consider the time involved in your commute--I assume about two to three hours per day.  You could spend this time working--and making money--instead of spending time and money commuting.

When faced with seems like an insurmountable problem, it's useful to assume that you have solved the problem and then work backwards to "figure out" how you you solved the problem.   What if you were paying $8 per gallon for gasoline.  What changes would you make in your lifestyle?

In my case, and I feel I am not exceptional, the only option is to find another region of the country to live in (I am currently in NJ).

To answer your questions, my typical commute is 2.5 hrs a day if I speed.  I drive a 2 liter 4-cylinder manual.  My commuting cost is about $325 a month at average current mpg figures and 3$/gallon.

I already pay low rent: the other tenants are also young professionals, blue-collar couples, and recent immigrant families.  My living space is modest, and to move near the central Jersey/NY metro area would raise my rent by about 25% for an apartment that is half the size of my current one (which would be something like a basic small studio).  Being that I don't drive much outside of my commute because I live near the places I use for recreation (Mt. Bike trails, fishing ponds/lakes, parks, etc.) it wouldn't be cost effective to move because what i saved by moving near work would be offset by what i spent getting back out to recreational areas on the weekends.  Here I have to admit that it IS a standard of living issue, however, being rural 'born and raised' means I would have to sacrifice my ENTIRE way of life to move to an urban area.  As it stands, I dont use much gas or energy or even money in my free time!

My major qualm with the attitude on the site is that it tends to advocate only one real sustainable solution, which is urban living.  At the current trend of rising inflation alongside reduced real wages, my young-professional paycheck does not allow me to live in a safe urban area in NY/NJ.  I live in a rural area!  That's what I can afford!  Also, outside of my commute, the rural way of life is far more sustainable and uses far less energy than that of the urban way of life.  My entertainment is outside, in the woods and around the lakes.

Getting back to the real issue:

There are plenty of major businesses within 20 miles, however, NJ is densely populated even where I live and the competition is fierce.  Most jobs that I am offered are in NYC or in the area I currently work because thats where the majority of businesses are.  There are no express lines to the city, and the train to NYC is 2.5 hours, one way.  In what I consider to be the ultimate insult, there are no trains/buses running south/north, which would greatly ease my problems.  

Only east/west.

The competition, and the ever-accelerating race to the bottom dictates that I must stay extremely mobile just to stay afloat.  I could do this, and be more energy efficient, if there was better public transportation.  Just one north/south line in western NJ would do the trick.  Given the population density, it is not an unreasonable solution for hundreds of thousands of people!

I think rural areas are going to be hit hardest by peak oil, at least at first.  Maybe not NJ, but the "red states."  People tend to be poorer, and drive farther (because they have to).  And if there are actual shortages, it will be cities - areas of higher population density - that get supplied.  

Many peak oilers are preparing for the crisis via homesteads in the country, but that's not what most rural Americans have.  They are not anything close to self-sufficient.  

in some ways I agree with your predictions regarding rural areas but in other ways I have to disagree.  If by "rural" you mean two counties removed from D.C. or Chicago, and you're really referring to the spread of exurbia into formerly rural areas, I completely agree.  If you mean truly rural areas, I'm not sure that I do.  I live in a county of only 60k people, less than half of whom live in a town or village.  We still have lots of farm land (and un-farmed farmable land) to go around. we have a fantastic farmer's market. We have way more fresh water than we could ever need.  There are tens of thousands of acres of forest. We have wild turkeys, deer and other game plus nut trees, wild berries, mushrooms just growing naturally throughout our county.  Our rivers and lakes have lots of fish.  Many people here still have their own "gentelman's farm", raise their own chickens for eggs or keep a dozen head of dairy cattle to carry on their families farming tradition. So unlike cities, those of us in rural areas at least won't have other natural resource and food scarcities to cope with as peak oil unfolds.  Furthermore, as diesel fuel and pesticides/ fertilizer become more precious, crops yields will likely decline and we may see a reversal in the long decline of acreage devoted to farming in America and the number of persons employed in farming which will benefit rural areas.  
The jobs we have here are farming, timber, gas/oil/coal and industrial.  I don't see why those type of jobs will evaporate with peak oil. If I lived in a large city based on the banking, investing, service and insurance industries, I'd be more worried about my local economy.  

Now, I'll grant that some people here do drive 100+ miles for work and they'll be hit hard.  Also many rural areas have been wal-martized, by which I mean the small downtowns evaporated and there is literally no where else to shop for many essentials bc/ everything else went out of business bc/ they couldn't compete with walmart.  That will definitely be a problem.  

WOW! Tell me where you are, I'll buy some land and move there... most of the great plains (a whole lot of people live and farm here) are only inhabitable because of oil. NG pumps the water out of the wells, diesel farms the land and delivers needed goods, and you can only grow a very limited number of things. This of course doesn't take into account the waning supply of water from the aquifer... In Colorado the state just told 200 farmers to shut off their wells because of shortages to the cities, I think Leanan has a point.

Mojo man,
You've got a good point, I need to amend my above comment about rural areas doing better than some believe. Not all rural areas are created equal.  I live in SE Ohio along the Ohio River.  I guess the difference is that unlike the plains we get 40 inches of rain a year so crops grow without irrigation and if land is left untended forest, rather than grass plains, is the natural result. I guess I should say rural areas in the midwest/ east may do better after the peak.  Another rural area that will probably do well is the northwest.  Oregon gets tons of rain and crops/ timber grow very well there also.
As a midwestern raised person myself, I do know some good "towns" that might be good places after PO.  One thing that has bothered me, is seeing what our government did after hurricane Katrina, I have to wonder if when food supplies start running short, the government will start bussing people out of the largest cities into the "survivable" locations for them to relocate, be cared for, and work the fields, perhaps as a "work program".  Has anyone else ever thought of this?
Correction, Western Oregon gets tons of rain (~40"/yr) but has very hot, dry summers (July-Sept). I like the climate here a lot. Eastern Oregon is high desert and beautiful, if you like living in a water-starved area.

Moved here from Asheville, NC. Similar amount of annual rain here but almost all in winter & spring months and much lower humidity (ahhhhh!).

Asheville's climate is pretty moderate, never getting too cold in the winter nor too hot in the summer and gets a good amount of rain.  The topsoil is thin as paper though.  Propensity for afternoon showers basically every day in the summer.  Something's always blooming so the allergies are problematic.  Too many hills to make a decent longer-distance bicycle commuting area.  Also currently falling victim to overdevelopment and ballooning house prices.  But there are plenty of great places to go hiking and biking.

Why'd you move?

I sympathize with your situation, and I agree that sometimes it's easier said than done.

However, please don't spread fallacies!

Also, outside of my commute, the rural way of life is far more sustainable and uses far less energy than that of the urban way of life.

In 2004 the New Yorker published an article called "Green Manhattan: Why New York is the greenest city in the U.S." which convincingly presents arguments showing that your statement is off the mark. There may be advantages to living in rural areas, but amount of energy use is probably not one of them.
I appreciate your POV, but in no way does it prove that my statement is a fallacy.  The article you provide does much in the way of proclaiming the virtues of living in NYC.....but this does not, on its own, create a logical case against my claim.

  1. NW NJ is completely water-independant.  The vast majority of homes use well-water and are within walking distance of lakes and rivers.

  2. NW NJ was originally a river/mining economy with extensive canals and raw material reserves.

  3. NW NJ has an astounding amount of arable land.  Many farms are spread out over the landscape.  Before the suburban sprawl the area was food independant.  

  4. My area provides NYC with most of its water and food.  The NY Orange Cty black soil region is immediately north of me, and the Delaware valley is immediately to the west.  The entire western half of NJ maintains major agricultural resources.

  5. Most people native to the area do things like hunting, fishing and hiking for recreation.  These activities are not energy intensive.

  6. Most towns in the area still have main streets and a variety of markets, are are not McMall venues.
I just find it hard to believe that living on a crowded island is more energy efficient than living in the area that produces most of what the city dwellers have trucked in on a massive scale, on a daily basis.

is your commuting more efficient?  of course.

is your space management more efficient?  is your electric bill lower?  yes and yes.

is this because you live in an economic black hole?
YES.  it is artificially supported.  it has a lot of gravity and sucks everything in, but ultimately, cannot sustain itself.

I think the important thing is to separate out the points about being "far more sustainable" and "using far less energy."  Yes, cities are dependent on rural areas for food and water.  So your statement about problematic sustainability I'd say may hold.  But urban residents use less energy per capita than those of rural or suburban areas, as you alluded to with the commuting and space management points. So the sustainability and the energy use are separate matters.

The crowdedness is a virtue that makes energy efficiency possible.  Yes, stuff is trucked it, but imagine if the 1.5 million people who live on Manhattan were spread out evenly over Northwest New Jersey.  You'd have no space for the farms and you'd be trucking things all over every different direction, which is less efficient than going all to the same overall destination.  Anyway, we should be using rail for freight, not trucks.  Rail being less spread out than highways concentrates shipments into urban cores.

Interloafer, thanks for the well-timed interjection.  The key is to put things in perspective and try and find solutions rather than tell people their way of living is at fault and needs to fall in line with someone else's way.  I'm certainly guilty of being attached to one way of life and it shows in my bias.  I'm just over-reacting to what I thought was the prevalent, urban POV on the sight.
If anything, I'm glad we got to see people chime in and give their 2 cents on the whole urban/suburban/rural issue in regards to the coming energy crunch.  Its good to see people with different ideas jump in the fray and try and understand things the way I think people have just done here, because all ways of life need to change, and people have to understand the give and take of how its going to have to be done.  
The way I am doing it is clearly going to become impossible soon, and thanks to this site I have begun to actively try and find another way to live.
I love seeing threads end like this!
I'm not sure that the overwhelming bias on TOD is for urban areas. If anything, I'd think that more people are in favor of the Kunstler-esque small town model where the size is manageable, there's farm land ringing the "urban" center, and people can get around more or less without cars.

Along these lines, I think that towns (not suburbs, but towns with a center and mixed residential/commercial usage) probably have the best hope since they might be more or less self-sufficient. Rural areas aren't going to work, because individual houses on 5 acre plots that are 5-10 miles from the nearest amenity are going to be too isolated. Yes, it's true that one can put up solar panels or a wind turbine (as Eric Blair criticizes me below), but that's not going to be enough for existence. One will still need goods and services from other community members, which will necessitate a somewhat denser living arrangement. This is my opinion.

For the record, I don't think that mega-cities like New York could survive a total energy blow out, if that's what ends up happening, but I might point out that there have been cities all over the world way before there was an industrial revolution or a green revolution. So a place like New York--like most other places--will suffer a big decline in population, but it won't be obliterated from existence altogether.

Which leaves this as a remaining question: if and when the population of New York City suffers a major contraction, will I be one of the survivors should I choose to stay here? Unfortunately, I can't know the answer to that right now.

Keep in mind that in urban centers, everything can be used closer to maximum capacity. An air conditioned theaters serves more in a day in NYC than it does in some exurb in the South. In an urban center each liter of water in your water system is pumped, on average a shorter distance, space is tighter AND the ratior of living volume to living area is higher, so energy expended on environmental control is lower, etc. etc. Oh and I'd imagine sewerage is dramatically more efficient than in so called "rural" areas. I'm sure you don't use a septic tank or composting of your fecal matter. That's getting  helped out the door, so to speak. I'm from Louisiana and the infrastructure is remarkably similar in many parts of that backwards state to large urban areas, except all the service lines  bringing natural gas, electricity, water, etc are longer and serve fewer, except for the very few places that are off the main grid. I think "rural" is Alaska or Montana, not many places east of the Mississippi. Oh, and don't forget school buses, patrol cars, etc etc etc etc. And POORLY those services are provided because they are spread so thin.
However, please don't spread fallacies!

Then you are going to debunk?   Cool!

In 2004 the New Yorker published an article called

So you have opted to use a source that is all about talking about New York to show how New York is a fine idea?

Wow.   that's like asking the Saudi oil ministry what they think about Saudi oil.

5 rural acres can feed a family with what is grown on it.
40 acres can provide enough trees in rotation to heat a rural home VS exactly HOW sustainable a New York apartment dweller is?

but amount of energy use is probably not one of them.

Ever tried putting up solar panels or, better yet a wind turbine in New York city?  In a rural location you can do that.   The wind turbine is why I want a rural location.   (im my ideal world the wind turbine would have so much excessive power I would not be able to do the 20kw grid intertie, and I'd have to shunt power to big outdoowr water tanks.....)

What is your plan for when your commute cost goes to $975 a month (gas at $9)?  
see below.  when gas costs $9 a gallon, interest rates rise, spending decreases, and companies scale back, i will out of a job and on the streets.  

where will you be?

Costa Rica. My money in the Caymans. Currently I am in Toronto. Not a bad place- very easy to get around with little use of a car.
"On the streets" you call it?

I call it blissful liberation from the capitalists when my tribe and I will grow wonderful food and celebrate our humanity and rejoice that there is no more oil to make things as bad as they were in the first 6 years of the 21st century.

"To answer your questions, my typical commute is 2.5 hrs a day if I speed.  I drive a 2 liter 4-cylinder manual.  My commuting cost is about $325 a month at average current mpg figures and 3$/gallon"

I suspect that you are underestimating the true cost of your 2,000 mile per month commute.  You need to include depreciation, maintenance, insurance and fuel.   An average new sedan is about 50 cents per mile.   Very large SUV's are in the 75 cents to one dollar pre mile range.  IMO, your true cost is probably at least 25 cents per mile, or $500/month.   I assume that there may be some parking costs also.

You also need to consider the time.  2.5 hours times 20 days = 50 hours.   At $20/hour, this would be $1,000.  

So, using the above assumptions, I would put your true commuting cost in the range of at least $1,500 per month ($18,000 per year).  The more expensive your car (and the higher that gas prices are) and the greater your income earning potential, the greater the commuting cost.

In regard to your weekend leisure pursuits, why not move close to your job and then take the mass transit that is available to leisure activity areas.  Or, if you have to, drive there on weekends.

There is one other factor.  By driving 2,000 miles per month, you significantly increase your chances of dying (or becoming disabled) in an auto accident.  

My #1 recommendation continues to be to try to reduce the distance between work and home to as close to zero as possible.

I want to be clear with you and make sure you know I understand and agree with what you are saying.  I am very well aware of the true cost of my commute, because although I own my car outright as I bought it very used, I have had issues with maintenance that cost a lot of money.

I also have come to the same conclusion that you are suggesting, although, with a different kind of connotation.  I need to find another area to live in, one that isn't so metropolitan that the distances between the city centers and the rural areas aren't quite so large.  I don't think I have been clear enough in pointing out that as time goes on, and students become more and more financially responsible for their own education finances and all the peripheral costs college entails, we are going to see a larger class of professionals who start out with the kind of debt loads usually associated with car or home ownership, but with no assets to speak of save for a degree.  Therefore, these people will be forced to live where it is cheap, and work where they can make more money than they are worth (read: corporations, urban centers).

In NJ, you either put up with urban living, or you drive a lot.  Just ask anyone from the area; the amount of people living in PA and commuting to NY or NJ has increased to ridiculous levels.  Around here, a 100 mile or so commute isn't all that uncommon.  This is not going to be possible anymore when we are forced to reckon with the true cost of gasoline.  

It is the perfect example of unsustainable suburbia/ rural-urban commuting.

You mentioned that the only wise course of action is to move closer to work, and I agree, although I would never sacrifice my way of life to the degree necessary to live in the NY/NJ urban area (and most of you who live elsewhere wouldn't either if you knew what it entails!).

I think the key is to move away from the older metropolitan areas and towards the more flexible populated regions that offer a better living/working dynamic in a smaller relative area.  Major urban centers such as NYC tend to negate the possibility of a balance and I am currently trying to find a smaller city that offers working opportunities and public transportation that hasn't pushed the rural periphery as far away as NYC has.  The whole NYC/Philadelphia corridor is an urban/suburban sprawl that I refuse to live in/can't afford to live in.  I know many people who are in the same boat as me, and I see my friends scattering to the wind in order to find a place they can afford to live in.  As oil prices go up, and the economy goes down, it becomes crucial to get out of the `in-between' way of life I currently live.

From what I have heard, Portland is a good choice, offering jobs, excellent public trransportation and easy/near access to nature.

Anyone hiring?

You also need to consider the time.  2.5 hours times 20 days = 50 hours.   At $20/hour, this would be $1,000.  

Right.  Because reading TOD is worth your bill rate, as is making your own food for you to eat, and reading the joke e-mails  and.....

An awful lot of people are in that long range commute trap. The housing market went haywire to cause the problem. A small segment of the population makes nearly infinite money compared to workers. They merely bid up housing to orbital levels. Developers know that this top earner group are the only ones with money to sell houses to, so they build sport utility homes and crowd everyone else out. The result? Sprawl and commutes that are so long that the only appropriate vehicle is a Harrier jet if you want to find an affordable house. Otherwise, the "housing" you can afford is barely the size of a CLOSET in one of those sport utility homes!

I live in a studio apartment becuse rents for anything bigger are prohibitive - and I make $45,000/year! To find a house at my income, I could do like a coworker and drive 80 miles each way, and that's 80 miles as the crow (or a Harrier) flies. Even if gas was a dime a gallon like Caracas, a 2-hour commute is a deterrent par excellence. Any farther, and you'd need a plane to commute with. Good thing I work at an airport. But don't laugh...

Jokes aside, someone working by Microsoft apparently lived far from work and wanted a ranch. One foggy day in 1999, he got his Cessna tangled in high voltage lines. He was "driving" to work!

Once, a radio station had a contest to see who had the longest commute. The winner drove (a car) 3 hours each way! Of course, affordable housing was the motive.

Also, if gas goes up to $8 per gallon, and I cannot find a more amenable region of the country to live/work in, I have a simple option.

Bankruptcy.  Assuming the best, of course: assuming that I am still employed.

That's the reality for many recent college grads.  If and when the US loses its gasoline price advantage, and the economy loses much of its steam, its people like me that are going to play the role of the canaries.

Keep in mind that those student loans are bankruptcy proof.  Of course, the easy credit lifestyle will be going away for everyone anyway, so it probably doesn't matter. Hyperinflation is the borrower's pal.
There is an old southern saying that seems applicable here,"You can't get blood from a turnip."  When our present arrangements are falling apart at the seams, trying to collect on those defaulted students loans will be an exercise in futility.  I liken it to trying to locate a particular person in New Orleans during the week following Katrina, only imagine  that on a nationwide/worldwide scale, and continuing indefinitely.  Good luck!
Here's a crazy idea I've had for awhile... Mary lives in city A, and commutes to her job as an administrative aide in suburb B every day.  Jane lives in suburb B, but commutes to her job as an office manager in city A daily.  Joe lives on the west side, and commutes cross-town to his job as a shipping clerk on the east side.  Bob lives on the east side, but commutes to his job as warehouseman on the west-side every day.

What if there was an outfit to match such folks (like the many dating services out there) who could then, upon assessment of specifics, perhaps some negotiation, and approval of the employers - switch jobs.  I wonder how much of an impact such a system might be able to have on our need to commute?  Just a thought.

A great idea from an energy use perspective. But from a psychological perspective, it might make people feel that they're just cogs in a wheel. This may be true, but it is nice to preserve that illusion of uniqueness that we all have.
Well, I feel pretty much like a cog.  I wonder how many others do?
What if some cogs are more equal than others?

What if the Mary cog finds out that the Joe cog was paid more for a simlar cog job than she was because of her gender or race? That could make some manager cogs uneasy. Don't want the lower cogs to know too much.

Cog swapping can lead to information swapping.
We don't want that to happen do we?
In a "free trade" society one is not allowed to trade information. That is a big managerial no no. Must keep all cogs in their place.

Be forewarned Clifman cog, even thinking is un-cog-like behavior. Please don't do it anymore. ;-)

We are not actually people, we are just "human resources", remember?  
A faceless, transferable, disposable unit of labor.....
I shall cease and desist forthright!

(Thx Step Back, that evoked a good laugh - pretty rare for me these days...)

"What if there was an outfit to match such folks (like the many dating services out there) who could then, upon assessment of specifics, perhaps some negotiation, and approval of the employers - switch jobs"

A variation on this idea is to switch houses/apartments.  

That's my take on it...swap houses.  Have a system to match people who'd want to swap and set up some means to settle the monetary differences.  It'd be better than the process of selling the house, then re-buying.

That was like a perfect idea that went bannannas at the end by suggesting a carreer swap.

Re: bananas - I guess my own bias/proclivities leads me in that direction.  My job means nothing to me. (Its only benefit beyond the bucks being that I can spend mucho time reading TOD.) My house, on the other hand, does.  Even though I have no real roots there (how many of us do, anymore?), I've modified it to be partial passive solar, we have two acres, which provides wood for aux. heat, and space for our large (2k+ sq ft) garden, backs up to state parkland, and yet is just an 8 mile commute to work. So it's highly unlikely that we'd find anything suitable to swap for.  Y'all may be on to something when it comes to cookie cutter houses or apts.  But for me, the job could go way before the homesite.  But I appreciate all the comments.  My thought got far more mileage ;-) than I ever expected. And re: the above part of this thread, my other half and I commute together in our Prius, 17 miles roundtrip, so about a buck a day for two of us.  If/when we can go to a plug-in hybrid, we'd be able to do the whole thing sans gas, and even on days that include errands, we'd be 75-90% electric.  Bring on the plug-ins!
Like a real estate agent, but without the friction costs?
Spot on!

We have exactly this situation in Aberdeenshire where Teachers, Teaching assistants and others commute to other towns and villages.

If anyone could start to look at this, it is likely that (IMO), the local government workers such as above could enact this sooner than the private sector.

Switching jobs wouldn't work - but switching housing could in theory. Wait. Isn't that what a housing market supposed to do?  Were it not for zoning laws and municipal corruption and increasingly creative mortgages (most of which are fiscal bombs) the market would work that way, though with friction. Worse, the gross disparity of incomes worsens matters greatly.
A system that would allow you to look for someone to "trade" houses with would solve some pretty hefty issues such as: the annoyance of having to sell your house to have the money to buy another house, and having someplace to live while waiting for another house to come on the market.  You can imagine how much easier it would make it to have a house already lined up and the move could be decided on any given day the two parties decided to actually swap.  Everything could be planned in advance and there's no uncertainty in having to find someplace to live in the meantime, and no putting your house on the market and having to go through the trouble of selling it.  Any price difference in the houses could be settled in some means, and in the more perfect situations the houses being swapped would be of near equal value.

On the one hand I completely sympathize with your situation. I live car free but that is going to end if I want to take some organic ag. classes at the local junior college. It would be absolutely impossible for me to run my usual errands plus get out to the jc a couple times per week on the piss-poor public transit we have here.

The only reason I can live car-free now is because I work from home, have no kids, and no outside obligations. If any of those variables were to change, I'd have to not only get a car but use it considerably unless I wanted to move.

On the other hand it sounds that between your commute and how much your paying for gas, I'm thinking you aren't much more than your own car's personal bitch.



You need to get a girlfriend with a car to drive you around.
You need to get a girlfriend

Perhaps he wants a boyfriend or a young ward?

"Young ward"?
Na, Batman never let Robin drive the Batmobile ;)
speaking of the batmobile, i wonder how good or bad it's miles per gallon rating is.
Considering that it was actually a Ghia-built 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car under a George Barris cosmetic makeover, with a 330HP 1954 Lincoln y-block V8 under the hood, I'd guess about 7 mpg.
Scratch that....apparently Barris replaced the original motor with a more modern 390ci V8.
Call it 8 mpg.
In our enlightened Portland Oregon area we have light rail and on high smog days you can ride the train for free if you "drive" to the closest safeway and get a free voucher.  You wonder why we have a problem...
In a lot of ways, it is easier for the business world to adjust to PO, as opposed to the stay at home mom in todays America.  Your kids have preschool, dance lessons, baseball, play dates, etc., etc., etc.  There is no mass transit in the world that will allow that to happen.

Hell, in my town, we don't have school buses.  They eliminated busing in the 60's (IMO, to ensure that they never had to bus undesirables into the school system).  The thought at the time was that most kids would walk to school.  Of course, what you have are massive traffic jams every day as moms drop off their kids and pick them up.   I actually love the idea of no school buses, I just hope that more kids will be forced to walk soon.

We do have all of that here in South America, and they do in Europe as well, and I'm sure it's the same thing in Japan. A lot of people do it every day, on mass transit. I think the greatest difference is the "popsicle index". Those mums are afraid of letting their kids do those things on their own, sadly. I was commuting 3 hours a day and doing all those things when I was 13.
In Japanese cities and suburbs, people move between home and places nearby by foot, bicycle or bus.  For longer distances they use the train. A small number of mothers use cars to ferry their kids on weekdays, but it is a tiny minority.

Most public primary schools make it compulsory for pupils to walk to school in groups. Retired people are recruited to act as voluneer traffic wardens for half and hour in the morning and afternoon to make sure the kids get across busy roads safely.

Even in the rural area I live now, all the kids have to walk to school, which is about 2 km or half an hour.

In the city, when it's not raining it is normal to see mothers on bicycles with one kid on the front and one on the back, and male and female office workers in full suits (heels and makeup for the ladies) going to and from the railway station on a bicycle.

I know that where I work the Navajo workers who commute hundreds of miles up from the reservation to their weekly jobs building a dam in Colorado have started showing up in old compact cars, rather than the trucks they used to drive.
No most americans aren't likely to make big cuts overnight because they simply can't rearrange their lives that quickly or quit the job with a 40 minute commute.  To be honest the homemaker with an SUV is only filling up twice a month and a $5-10 increase per fill-up isn't painfull enough to trade in.  Add to that the cost of switching vehicles and sometimes you are better off keeping what you have got.
Its worth remembering that here in in the UK we already pay nearly $7 for a US gallon of gasoline.

Also due to the dampening effect of high taxes, the pump price has risen less than 20% in the last 5/6 years. In other words high gasoline prices are the norm for us.

Anybody taking a drive on a UK motorway can testify that high prices have unfortunately done little to stem the growth in traffic. Yes we drive smaller cars and on average fewer miles but we still live increasingly car-centric lives and so far $7 gasoline hasn't dissuaded us.

Most of the EU pays comparable prices to the UK, so if 450 million Europeans can afford these prices then I think the ability of Americans to adapt to $3,$4 or even $7 gasoline may yet surprise.

Less Hummers and shrinking exurbs perhaps but prices may have to go alot higher before the lifestyles of the middle-class majority are seriously impacted.

I would add that the higher fuel has a bigger impact here because the transportation of junk from Long Beach CA to the malls is much more costly in fuel.  If the trucking and air freight biz goes to 7$ a gallon, what will happen to the wal-mart economy?
So the cost we pay at the pump is just the start of it.  We will pay for the lettuce from CA, the apples from NZ, the Chinese office furniture in our office buildings, etc...
So where is the breaking point when these supply lines become unprofitable and begin disappearing?  
Who will we blame then?  
Who will pry the credit cards from the wallets on our cold, dead asses?  

-Matt DC

I make regular trips to the UK, and I think of this often.  Can we absorb fuel costs in the same way, or are there differences between our societies that will prevent this?

Most of you cost is tax - doesn't it make sense that this money comes back to the citizens in ways that mitigate the burden?

Does the US debt and financial situation make it harder for us to absorb these costs?

The US has very poor public transportation in most places, so we don't have much of a viable "Plan B".

We're farther along in the complete subjugation of everything in society to the automobile than the UK, so does that mean it will affect us more?

I'd like to hear more about what people think in regard to the ability of the US to absorb higher fuel prices, like that of the UK.

What I find interesting is that car use in the UK just keeps increasing, and public transport use keeps decreasing.

I wouldn't overestimate our public transport infrastructure, its in decline - outside of London an increasing majority of Britains never use it. In London they had to introduce a daily $15 charge to drive a car into central London to try to "encourage" more people to use public transport. It seems $7 gasoline isn't enough to persuade people to leave the car at home.

As for the Walmart economy - its arrived big-time over here. We have new shopping malls and Tesco (like Walmart) superstores springing up all over the country - with acres of car parking to go with them - no public transport to these. All created with gasoline prices double what you have been used to paying.

As for debt levels - we have record levels of debt and a major house price boom that started back in 97 with prices doubling or trebling since then. So I don't believe that Americans are more stretched trying to pay for their mortgage.

So bottom line is that once you get past the psychological shock, if we can afford $7 gasoline then most of America can too.

Americans are structurally bound to travelling much longer distances than people in Britain. And in Britain you have the choice - if you can not afford the gas you can take the mass transit. In most places here this is not an option at all. As a result the poor and the middle class here are and will be much worse off than in UK.
They are going to get the Katrina treatment.
I've been reading the opposite; that public transit (esp train) usage is increasing. The congestion charge cut traffic but didn't seem to rise tube usage much. Curious, no?
One of my fears is that America will chose to buy smaller more fuel efficient cars, re-enact the 55 mph speed limit, vacation closer to home and basically do everything in their power to maintain suburbia and the car culture.  If the decline rates are slow (say 2-3%/ years) America can probably slowly accomodate the decline for a decade or two rather than really face reality and address the issue with real solutions.  The real pain in this scenario may be delayed for a decade or two but it will still come and the end result will be even more devastating than if we had faced reality in the first place.
how can you skip efficiency as a first step?

i still see this as a population response, with early adopters, a broad middle group, and laggarts.  the early adopters are powering down now.  they have a variety of plans and techniques.  the middle group will follow their model(s) when they must.  and of course the laggarts will gnash their teeth in bankrupcy court.

an amazing number of things are being tested, right now.

This is exactly what will happen. Every suburbanite I have talked to is psychologically prepared to move to a much smaller, slower vehicle but they are not using public transit and they do not want to move into the city. It looks very bullish for high MPG car sales.
My lost wages and health care costs due to illness as a healthy young adult are astronomical in the U.S. due a privitized very high cost system of charging for medical care. Only the very, very wealthy can get basic medical services in the U.S. today.
That the British can pay more for gas surprises me little because if I could get antibiotics a couple of times a year when I needed them, I could stay healthier, work more and better, and save money.
I would GLADLY pay what the British pay for gas if I could have their healthcare!

Its worth remembering that here in in the UK we already pay nearly $7 for a US gallon of gasoline.

As a resident of the USA I hear the above
comment all the time .. The 'nominal' dollar
cost is not the issue .. a more appropriate way
to evaluate the 'relative' cost of fuel in Europe
vs the US or elsewhere would be the percent of
average wage that fuel costs represents .. I suspect
that your $7.00 per gallon vs the cost in Pounds
or Euros is more a reflection of the decline in
value of the US dollar vs your local currency than
the cost of the fuel .. To put this in context,
@ $3.00 per gallon we're paying about 50% of
minimum hourly wage .. How does that ratio
compare to the UK ??


Triff ..

At current exchange rate of about 1.88, minimum UK wage is $9.40 per hour.

So UK gasoline at $6.97 would mean we currently pay 75% of minimum wage - that would suggest $4.50 gasoline should be manageable in the US

However I'm sure there will be some horror headlines when gas hits $4.50 !

It comes back to the "American entitlement" thing.  For generations we Americans have built our lifestyles around cheap gasoline to the point that we don't even think about it until it's "expensive," and then it's a lifestyle threat because we have to skip an evening out, or bike to the store rather than drive, or etc. etc.

And then we yell loudly about it and bomb small countries. Quiet desperation ain't the American way.

Ah yes, the US consumer has become the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly warming water.  
How much longer before it is cooked?
it would be interesting to know what the general public thinks about future energy prices.  i'm sure it is a distribution, with a hybrid buyer having a different expectation than a hemi buyer.

but without that data, we don't know.  maybe the hemi driver things gas will get cheaper.  maybe the hemi driver thinks this is a once in a lifetime shot, before fuel costs rise ...

Most members of the general public I have talked to think: 1. high oil/gas prices are temporary 2.anyone who thinks there is a oil depletion problem is a nut 3. even if there is a oil depletion problem, alternatives which are probably superior are "right around the corner". They are getting this directly from the MSM. Most people I know distrust all info from the Net unless it is endorsed by the MSM. This is why I like you guys.
i would just think, having lived through ... say 5 years of gas price increases ... they'd "feel" a trend?

if anybody from the dreaded (kidding) MSM is listening ... add that to your gas price articles.  ask the man on the street what next year's price (May '07) will be.

They are still selling houses in neighbourhoods where most of the residents drive more than 40 miles to work for middle/working class wages. Obviously if gas goes to $8 gallon as mentioned above these houses will take a severe hit. Most people just don't buy into oil depletion (the MSM hasn't told them to buy it).
Does anyone know exactly where I can find YTD info for CPI?  I've been over at bls.gov/cpi and can't find real inflation cumulative for the year.  I know tomorrow the new #'s come out but I'm under the real assumption that the FED is creating massive amounts of money in the form of electroniclly craeted bank deposits.

most sections show changes from various "months back" including Jan '06:


the problem is that it takes a while to compile.  the april report is there, which has march data.

(just to amuse myself i put away a supermarket tape from my typical trader joe's run, so i can look at it again and a year and compute my personal food cpi)

I'm looking for the YTD figures.  Do I need to simply subtract the dec 2005 price level from the most recent increase (apr 05) to determine the real inflation number?  In that case it's Pdec05=196.8 & Pmar06=199.8 so simply math would peg it @ ((199.8-196.8)/196.8)*100=1.016% or projected anual inflation would be roughly 4.04%.

Yet if you look at inflation that we have faced since one year ago it looks like 3.36%.  So are we starting to see a trend in higher inflation?  

at that second link there is a "Table A" with a column "Compound annual rate 3-mos. ended Mar. '06" which shows "all items" up 4.3% (transportation up 10%).

there is also "unadjusted 12 months ended Mar. '06" which shows "all items" up 3.4%

those seem to match your numbers

(i think i misread the other part of table A earlier.  they are month to month changes.)

I came across a private financial advising firm that calculated its own CPI a few weeks ago. They sell their services to large (Fortune 500) companies who require the "most accurate" information to run their businesses. I have been been desperately trying to find the site for 45 mins, but I've lost it <sigh>.

Point being, this firm calculates a very different CPI than the "official" one. They find that the current realistic consumer price index is around 7% per year. Based on my experiences, I have to agree with them. Purchasing power is declining much faster than TPTB would have us believe.

Don't forget that the fed has recently stopped publishing M3, the amount of paper money that's being printed.

In a sign of pending inflation, the Federal Reserve last month stopped telling us what the M3 money supply was in a surefire indication that inflation is on the way. This came conveniently after further inflationary indicators were hidden by removing the cost of gasoline and food from the Consumer Price Index.

"The State of the Peak Oil Movement at the Cusp of Collapse"
 - Mike Ruppert, From the Wilderness

Not only the CPI. If unemployment was calculated the same way it was 20 years ago, the present rate would be 12% in the USA. 12% unemployment and 7% CPI. I don't think the MSM would like to discuss that one.
Are you talking about the discouraged workers?  How do you justify a nearly 3 fold increase?  Where can I look into this?
I wholly agree, but it's far easier to conceal in this digital age.  It's being created through bank deposits that are simply electronic credits, thus new money is "printed."  I wonder if the Fed pays the .36 or so cents per "deposit."  If not then they are completely creating money and it's at 100% profits for this private bank.  Amazing.
Perhaps you mean John Williams' "Shadow Government Statistics?"


Just curious...

If things really cost so much more , unemployment is really higher and wages are stagnant.... how come it seems that almost everyone has a nice car/suv, spends $10/day in Starbucks, has a maid to clean their house,  has a gardener to mow their lawn, pays $100's/month for activities for their kids, pays $80/month for cable TV, just bought a new large screen TV, eats out for lunch and dinner 1/2 the time and the other half buys pre-cooked meals.... etc.  Can anyone add a few more items to this list?

Mainly...a leveraged future.  People aren't saving for retirement (or rainy day, etc), they're spending every cent they have.  They're actually spending more than every cent they have and going into debt (negative savings rate).
In the case of Americans, they are also using their homes as an ATM machine, via re-fi's (2nd and/or 3rd mortgages, reverse mortgages, 125% consolidation loans, etc), maxing out credit cards (the average american family now has over $8000 of credit card debt), and borrowing heavily from the savings of everyone else on the planet (to the tune of 2 billion $USD per day).
Sorry Fallout...
Your credit card stats don't hold water... at least not according to the federal reserve. Using "average credit card debt" doesn't make sense. see -  http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Banking/creditcardsmarts/P74808.asp

"In reality, most Americans owe nothing to credit card companies.
Most households that carry balances owe $2,000 or less.
Only about 1 in 20 American households owes $8,000 or more on credit cards.
These figures are from the Federal Reserve's 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances, one of the most comprehensive assessments of what Americans own and owe. "

As far as mortages go.. I agree that some Americans are doing as you say taking out 2nd, 3rd etc... but according to the latest Fed survey the median net worth of Americans has increased by 11.8% between 1998 - 2004. Thats pretty good considering we had a huge stock market drop in 2001. Also, mortgage delinquencies are actually down.  So, I think your argument only explains a small portion of the large rise in "luxury consumption".

I think the reality is that Americans have more money and are using it to buy cheaper goods. The middle-class American of today is living like the wealthy American 30 years ago. That is  why these huge gas price increases have not had much of an effect yet.

Credit Card debt doesn't matter...aggregate all of it and take a look at the bigger picture.  It's not good and we can all agree on that.

We financed our consumption today by takign out equity loans against our ATM's, I mean houses.

30 years ago we were in the midst of oil shocks and the like.  You perceive people living the lap of 1976 luxury when in fact they are borrowing as much as possible from anyone in lock step with spending whatever income they bring home.

It looks great that so many people are living in the lap of luxury, but keep in mind that the "roarin' 20's", preceded the great depression.

Behold, and learn!
"Credit card debt carried by the average American: $8,562."
And that was in 2004.

While I will buy that "net worth" of the average American has 'increased' by a net 12% or so since 1998, most of that is in real estate appreciation (i.e. non-liquidatable equity), and real inflation since 1998 actually makes that supposed 'increase' a 'decrease', once factored in.

Do not put a lot of stock in anything the Fed says. Their job is to make American's feel good, and keep on keeping on with the existing paradigm, for as long as possible.  

"Behold, and learn!" - give me a break.

You obviously didn't read the link I provided.  If you did and you understood what it was saying then you would realize that your statement should say

The credit card debt by the average American who carries a BALANCE is $8,562.

Other items you would have learned:
Less than 50% of all American households carry a credit card balance.
Less than 29% of households owe more than $1,000. !!

Below are some more stats from the article that show that Americans - in general- are not overextended , as far as credit cards are concerned.

"Bill Whitt at the VIP Forum, a Washington D.C. research firm, helped me dig even deeper. By analyzing the credit card debts of all the households the Fed surveyed, Whitt discovered:
Only 29% of households owe $1,000 or more on their cards.
21% owe $2,000 or more.
6% owe $8,000 or more.
4% owe $10,500 or more.
1% owe $21,400 or more.
The Fed statistics pretty much gibe with what Fair Isaac, the creator of the FICO credit score, discovered when it reviewed millions of credit reports."

What about Fair Isaac, should we listen to them? or are they in on this conspiracy as well?

i started reading "credit card nation" ... and got a ways with it before i got bored.  it was a pretty good book, though i realize i say that after saying i got bored.

the author makes points similar to above.  about half of all credit card holders are "convenience users" who pay off their debt every month.  the rest carry some debt and risk getting saddled with more (and much higher rates).  getting people hooked is where the game is, and i'd say 6% folks owing $8,000 or more shows some good potential profit margin.

the companies try to extract profit two ways - by rasing rates on old debt, and by increasing non-interest 'fees.'  actually the fees are designed to snag convenience users as well.

so in one sense it is good news.  we are not all out there with $8,562 debts, but on the other hand, there is $1.7 trillion rolling over every month.  a good interest revenue stream when it pays ... a lot of money to go away in some kind of default on debt tipping-point.

Okay, say for the sake of arguement that most have no credit card debt.  I do. Most of the 216 average working stiffs (our  employees) outside my office doors do.  
But skipping that for a minute....

You either did not address or agree with the other points, the negative savings rates, the home-as-ATM, the stagnant or declining purchasing power in absolute (inflation-adjusted) dollars, the higher prices for all but electronic commodities (and there only due to Moore's Law), the huge and increasing daily national, federal, and consumer debt load, and the non-liquid nature of most of any noted increase in median net worth (ie primary residencial equity).

I could also argue (and prove) that many static-value goods have become more expensive, not cheaper (a haircut, a postage stamp, an ice cream cone, a gallon of gasoline, an average dinner at an average restaurant, the price of an average new home, in dollars per sqft).  
Even cheaper goods also come at a cost, mainly in outsourced jobs, environmental degredation, increased transportation costs, etc.

Americans are not living significantly more luxuriously than they were 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. If anything, their quality of life has degenerated during this time. Less free time, more stress, less job security, more post-employment (retirement) concerns, lower happiness index.

how come it seems that almost everyone has a nice car/suv, spends $10/day in Starbucks, has a maid to clean their house,  has a gardener to mow their lawn, pays $100's/month for activities for their kids, pays $80/month for cable TV, just bought a new large screen TV, eats out for lunch and dinner 1/2 the time and the other half buys pre-cooked meals.... etc.  

"Seems" is the key word.  Not everyone lives like this.  Far from it.  I don't.  

The gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened into a chasm over the past 30 years or so.  The days when an accountant and a factory worker lived in the same neighborhood and sent their kids to the same schools are gone.  

We've gone wealth-crazy.  On TV, we see suburban families who never seem to worry about money.  We see supposedly struggling young people, living in Manhattan apartments that no one who isn't a movie star or profressional athlete could afford in real life.  Everyone's rich on TV.

That affluent lifestyle is more illusion than reality for most of us.  


I agree that we have gone "wealth crazy". That's part of my point.

However, I totally disagree when you say "seems" is the key word. There are plenty of hard statistics to show the huge rise in kids with cellphones & IPODs. .. the huge rise in eating out, the increase in people with expensive cars/SIV etc...

I don't know where you live, but near me, I can go to any mall or even a school in the "poorest" areas to see this huge rise in "luxury consumption". Its not just TV and its certainly not an illusion.

Cell phones got real cheap. Ipods also. But the housing is completely another story. If I could have made $45,000/yr a decade ago I could have been a homeowner, or at least a condo owner. Now? Unless I were to do a 2-hour commute 3 gallons from work, forgeddaboutit. If the wealth gap isn't as wide as the Grand Canyon it's wider.
It is clear to me that all current measurements of "inflation" or standard of living are playing with numbers.
Everyone I know has been facing hugely higher costs and significant reductions of wages and benefits.
The are cancelling already accrued vacation time for my friends. The cost of health insurance premiums for me would be higher than my total paycheck, forcing me to pay my company each week rather than receive pay if I wanted any basic medical care.

We are clearly in a full-blown depression, and it is the government lies and a cheery technicolor MSM that hides this.

They are in full cover-up mode to the fact that this economy has already completely failed and each individual thinks it is only their particular life that is messed up. The truth is the ship is already at the bottom of the ocean.

What industry are you in?  I have 0 copay on Dr. visits and meds for 120 a month.  I have basic coverage available for 90 a month.  If you make 10 dollars an hour (I made that when I worked in college) that is one 12 hour shift.  How can your benefit cost be more than your income? Are you part time or a waitress and not including tips as income? Please explain....
Almost any subject can be spun for political use and this just might be the case with bird loss and wind turbines. Often times one does not know what to believe. Not at all surprisingly birds have some political clout in the wind arena. Not mainly about oil but more about how politicans spin things oil included: Spinning Wind Turbines and Bird Death
Thanks for the article.  I'm a fan of wind energy and would like to see the USA/World use more of it.  Unfortunately, supply/demand will make it a long slow process.
Most of the drawbacks of wind power are addressed by modern vertical wind turbines.

They are not unsightly, looking like power poles.
They are quiet.
They don't kill birds.
Older models produced less power, but modern designs approach the output of horizontal machines.

I have to laugh about worries over bird kill from wind turbines. If you compare the overall environmental impacts from a 500MW windfarm (or farms as that is a lot of turbines) to a 500MW coal power plant, the wind farm is going to be orders of magnitude better. No acid rain, no carcinogens, no particulates, no greenhouse gasses. I can see an unholy alliance to tank wind between power companies not invested in wind and wealthy "environmentalists" for whom environmentalism means ensuring that their pastoral estates look nice and green...
You can not compare a 500MW wind farm to a 500MW coal plant, because the latter will produce 3 to 4 times the energy of a wind farm for the same time period. It should be more like 500MW wind vs 150MW coal.
heh, you can assume I'm comparing average output. Yes, I know wind farms aren't rated that way.
This is a truly innovative development. You wouldn't happen to have a ballpark figure on what they run, do you? Not likely to find a dealer here. Electricity is currently cheap but living off grid and in the sticks remains a goal/dream.

This is cool though. Thanks for posting it.

About 22-24K for a house hold unit - mostly because they are shipping them from Europe.  I asked about US dealerships with none on the horizon.

I was also interested about making my own - I mean from the generator down you have the same system.  Just turn the generator vertical and replace the blades with the sail system.

Actually, if windmills did take out migrating birds, that's actually a selling point given bird flu. By setting up windmills along the Canadian border, the geese would have to pull up and climb to overfly them to deliver their germs. Otherwise, the windmills serve as antiaircraft batteries. :) And they are nearly maintenance free and make electricity. It's a win-win-win situation. The bigger the better!

As it stands, the germ is making the connecting flight to Canada geese in Alaska as we type. And germs never carry luggage to lose.

And another story from USA Today: Gas thieves use key to purloin from pumps

The thieves are using a factory-issued key to open gas pumps and reprogramming a keypad inside the pump so the sales do not register on the station's computer system. That allows people to pump gas for free. To make it easier on service technicians, each manufacturer's pumps can all be opened using a common key.

"It's definitely an expert or a person who knows what they are doing," says Riaz Ahmad, owner of a station in Baltimore that got hit a month ago.

Employees at Ahmad's station noticed gas was missing when taking inventory. But it wasn't until they started to notice long lines for pumps nine and 10 -- located the farthest from the cash register and near the street -- that they figured out what was going on, Ahmad says.

He guesses those responsible for deprogramming the pump were telling friends or selling gas at a discount and collecting cash near the pump.

Ahmad lost 2,800 gallons in five days at a cost of $8,100, not including lost profit. He recently added new locks and security cameras at a cost of $3,200.

here in kansas there are reports of people using drills to drill into people's gas tanks to steal their gas.
They're doing that in California, too.

Drilling Gas Tanks Latest Means of Stealing Fuel

Sacramento's Tahoe Park area got hit by a late-night oil drilling expedition this week, as thieves made off with gas from several residents' trucks by drilling holes in the tanks.

Wednesday morning, when resident Anthony Vera tried to start his pickup, the fuel gauge showed empty and the pavement under the truck smelled of gas. He discovered a neatly drilled round hole near the bottom of the truck's plastic tank.

Checking the neighborhood, he found two more trucks of the same model with empty tanks and similar holes. Two of the pickups were parked in the neighborhood northwest of Broadway and 65th Avenue, and another farther south on 21st Avenue.

"I thought, Oh, they got him, and him too," Vera said. "The tanks on these trucks are pretty easy to get to."

The irony, he said, is that the trucks have an anti-siphoning device so that thieves can't push a hose into the tank from the filling tube. He said he heard a new gas tank will cost him $500.

"Crazy," Vera said. "It would have cost me less if they had just been able to siphon it."

Hello Leanan,

I expect gas thefts to vastly increase with rising prices.  We can expect security guards in parking lots to try and reduce this, but homeowners/renters without enclosed garages will be very vulnerable to gas tank drilling.  I expect detachable 5 gallon gas cans will be popular very soon.  This way the exposed carowner can daily remove his gastank and safely chainlock it to a treetrunk or heavy post in his backyard overnight, then quickly reinstall it for the next motortrip.  If it costs 500 bucks to replace a factory gastank every time some punk drills a hole in it: expect your insurance co to quickly waive any financial responsibility.

My little scooter is not worth siphoning, but my fear is when gas prices reach a certain inflection point that some punk will accost me at gunpoint and demand my ride.  The cops will be too busy, and gasoline too expensive for them to chase the guy down.

In the '70s gas crunch: I waited hours to refill my pickup truck, but that very same night some bastard took a pipewrench to my locking gascap, then siphoned every possible drop.  This will become the new normal as we go postPeak-- we might as well get used to high rates of gasoline theft.  Criminals need gasoline to fuel their getaways from a crime scene.

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

yea i kind of figured that it would be too common a crime for the police to fight when things get bad.
Time to armor the gas tank with some stainless steel. Failing that, fossilise the outside of the tank with epoxy mixed in with drill bits and hacksaw blades. By using a composite of epoxy and steel used for metal-cutting tools, it'll be too hard to drill into. Better yet, mix epoxy with diamond dust.

A second tank in the trunk sounds like a good idea right now. Just plug the hole first!

Like in Paris and Lyon here in France ...
Reposted- Only a minor source of oil & gas, but another African nightmare reported today:
"A rebel group has threatened that civil war would occur if the Ethiopian government does not remove troops that it has placed in the Calub and Hilala gas fields in order to safeguard the area for international investors."

Also, on the other side of Africa a major Australian oil company- Woodside- is under invstigation for bribing (facilitation payments!) of ex-Energy Minister in Mauritania, and payments of 4100 million to new government.

Looks like another idiot country is going to nationalize their oil assets.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12807114/  These continued occurences might explain the $20plus dollar drop by OIH in the past three days.  What company in their rightmind would want to do business in any country in South America, Africa, and most of Asia.

It will be interesting to see what happens when one of the dictators decides to nationalize one of China's oil ventures?

Why does nationalizing oil and natural gas make a country an idiot?  It strikes me as a very reasonable thing for a producing country's leadership to do - as long as one can be reasonably assured of not being subverted, invaded, overthrown, etc., by the world's major consumers.
I think the assumption must be that without western oil companies, they won't be able to get the oil out.  I wonder.  They may well have troubles, but is maximizing their present rates of production really the most important thing from their  point of view?  It seems to me they will work out arrangements to get that oil out, and on their terms, eventually.  It's simply worth too much.  

As far as China goes, the question I have is do they need to get the kind of exploitative deals the western complanies require?  They seem to be able to pay for the oil - it looks like they are more focused on securing the sources of oil, not on getting the oil for a song.  I would appreciate any information anyone might have in this regard.

Why does nationalizing oil and natural gas make a country an idiot?

in reality it doesn't, but don't try to convince the free-marketers of that.
it's actually a very good idea, by nationalizing they can ensure they get a very good portion of their own resource instead of huge oil company's bleeding them dry.
Actually these events will make the downslope less steep, which will be beneficial for the global economy. This is a good time to leave the oil in the ground and let prices rise. Eventually all the oil will be extracted-better later than right now.
"What company in their rightmind would want to do business in any country in South America, Africa, and most of Asia."

Depends on what you mean by business.  Plenty of companies have been more than happy to 'give them the business', which has left them in the state they are.  Democracies undermined, labor activists murdered (and that's just Coca-cola, Dole, Union-Carbide), juntas financed, villages poisoned.

I don't expect Bolivia and Venezuela will get out of this without a fight, unless the fighters are all used up in Iraq, on the Mexican Border, or fighting flooding, fires and famine at home.. or unless there is a cascade of Nationalized Resources at this point from multiple countries.

Re: Nationalism


The SNP are voicing a similar concern as well.

Interestingly enough, Government papers released under the 30 year rule last year revealed that the Amount of oil under the North Sea was dramatically down played prior to the Scottish Independence referendum in 1974.

You can see their point. Even though I am a Sassenach economic migrant, Scotland would have been similar to Norway had the vote for independence gone the other way.

Still there is all that water to sell to England in the coming years.  

So far, China is getting along well with all these guys. The reason? China pays the retail price (top dollar) and they mind their own business. The USA walks in there waving a Glock and demanding a cut-rate deal. This used to work when there was no better deal looming (China) and everyone was afraid.
This article claims there's plenty of oil left in the North Sea:

The number of wells drilled on new projects in the North Sea reached a six-year high in 2005, with some significant finds providing evidence of the potential of the province, according to sector specialists.

...With oil and gas firms making or progressing discoveries containing more than 700 million barrels oil equivalent, Jim Hannon, co-founder of the consultancy, said the activity levels confirmed there was plenty of life left in the North Sea. Initial reports indicated some sizable discoveries had been made.

"Contrary to popular belief, the report shows the North Sea had a tremendous year for reserves found and appraised," he said.

Hannon Westwood reckoned that finding costs averaged $1 to $3.60 per barrel, "in the right range" to compete internationally for funds.

It looks like I need to start working on an engine that can run on reserves.
A puff piece.
Yes it has been a 'good year' in rig utilisation, holes drilled , and possibly a puddle here and a puddle there. It depends upon your definition of 'good'. Compared with 2000 - 2004, it is good. Compared with 1974 -1980 it is not so good...

It is 'good' insomuch as the continuous decline in mobile rig numbers, exp/app/dev wells drilled has been stopped and reversed.

As you would expect and as Westexas never ceases to remind us wrt the lower 48, we have gone beyond peak and although useful, the puddles are not the size they once were.

A lot of the UKCS Infrastructure is paid off. A lot of finds are related to producing from existing, mature fields which, at 40-70 USD / bbl are deals of the century.

On balance, and depending upon who the intended listener is, the article is accurate: Oil has been found, Rig operators and service companies are living through a boom.

If it is intended to calm the fears of Joe Public, then it is being quite economical with the truth.

As far as I am aware, Buzzard was the last really exciting field in the UKCS. (half a billion).

So a "tremendous year for reserves found and appraised" is one where you almost keep pace with the amount you are pumping out.  And probably more difficult/expensive/slower fields to produce.
Worth noting is that the guy quoted said there was plenty of "life" left in the North Sea, not the same thing as plenty of oil.  The North Sea isn't dry, it's just depleteing.

Actually, it is an interesting phenomena.  On the down slope of the curve, there will be more activity.  Because you really have to scramble, it takes more and more work to get the oil out.  

Not unrelated to the rig shortage...

Not only did the article use the term "life" instead of "oil"; it used the term "oil equivalent" instead of "oil."

Here in Colorado, there's a humongous amount of "oil equivalent." People have been unsuccessfully trying to figure out how to extract it profitably for decades now.

The "Texas State Geologist" claimed that while we "may" not be able to equal our peak production in Texas, we can--with the use of better technology--substantially increase our production.  Texas oil production fallen for 33 straight years.  

I suppose that someone may be making similar claims about the North Sea in the year 2032 (33 years after the North Sea peaked).

There's now a relatively short 'window of opportunity' for new finds in N Sea unless they are relatively close to land.  With the ever reducing size of new discoveries we are now well below the threshold whereby these new fields could justify infrastructure such as gas / oil gathering pipeline systems etc.  By contrast back in the 1970's disoveries such as Brent, Forties etc could easily justify major infrastructure investment and nearby small fields simply 'piggy backed' into the major pipelines for a tariff.

As speakers explained at Offshore Europe 2005 in Aberdeen most of the N Sea's major infrastructure will be at the end of its design life at or before 2020 as the environment is very corrosive.  On this basis typical 50m bbl discoveries will need to be developed very quickly; if they are found after 2015 - 2020 the oil would probably stay in the ground unless the DTI, in desperation, once again allows offshore loading into tankers (SBM's).  Even SBM's are only a solution for central N Sea southwards; there are too few calm days in the more prolific areas such as the east Shetland basin.

The Ultimate Peak Oil Soundbite

As a relative newbie, I've been thinking lately about the best ways to introduce the unaware to Peak Oil. I know from experience that getting people to understand things is non-trivial and "telling it like it is" has a surprisingly dismal success rate. Case in point: my own introduction to Peak Oil came in 2004 when I stumbled upon LATOC. I could not make it through the long article and as soon as thermonuclear energy was mentioned I gladly left the page, thinking "well, there is at least some hope." I only returned late last year to see what was new, and found TOD. A site like this is much more bearable than LATOC since it eases the gloom by communication, different opinions and considerable expertise.

Still, TOD is but a microscopic stain on the Internet and the issue is even more lost in the wider world. Spreading awareness remains IMHO the most relevant task for this community and so, if you don't mind, I would like to start a small, informal contest for The Ultimate Peak Oil Soundbite. The challenge is to write a description of Peak Oil with the following properties:

  • minimum length (let's say a soft limit of 100 words?)

  • simple language

  • factual tone (ideally something even JD wouldn't have a problem with)

  • modest scope (i.e. ethanol debunking should happen elsewhere)

  • encouragement to find out more (this should be a teaser, if you like)

I would like to end up with a fluid, catchy piece of text that can be stuck on a flyer or maybe even a T-shirt (I read a lot of T-shirts while riding the tram :-) ) So, anyone up for this?
I have an entry of my own, here goes:

Let's say you have a small jar of jelly and a spoon with which you take the jelly out when you get the munchies. At first it is very easy but as you reach the bottom you have to scrape the walls and maybe even poke your fingers in. The last spoonful takes much more time and effort to get at than the first one.

A similar thing happens with oil fields - first the stuff flows nicely, you even raise the flows as you drill more wells. But sooner or later, when the field is about half-full, it becomes harder and the flow of oil starts declining eventually.

You can imagine the world's oil supplies as a bunch of jelly jars of various sizes. Most are already opened and although there is still a lot of "jelly" left, we are seeing ever fewer full jars and ever more of those messy, hard-to-empty ones. In other words, while oil reserves are plentiful, it is getting harder to maintain - or increase - the rate of supply. One day, it will simply not be possible.

That's a problem - our appetite for oil is ever-growing and once the daily supply cannot satisfy the daily demand, there will be shortages. Some people say such a situation - called Peak Oil - will not arrive for 20 years or more. Others say it already has. It's difficult to be certain because the oil trade is complex and loaded with politics. It is, in any case, a good topic to read up on while munching on that peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. As you can imagine, oil is not as easy to cut down on as jelly.

That 100-word limit seems to have been wishful thinking...
Welcome to TOD.

Sounds like you have a number of "Inconvenient Truths" to learn about members of your species, the Human race.

There is no magic incantation of noises that can be carved into stone and consistently used for converting your fellow creatures into POA ones (Peak Oil Aware):

  1. Your fellow Humans are not rational creatures.
  2. They tune out noises that do not resonate with their current world view.
  3. They tune out ideas that imply end of life as they know it.
  4. Most of them don't "read". MTV is so much funner.
  5. Most have no science background. The car just "goes".
  6. Most have no understanding that MSM might lie to them. It's all "Seeing is Believing" TV.

Nonetheless, don't give up. It is a slow transistion. Yes the Headless Herd of Humans continues to stampede mindlessly towards the cliff's edge. Some in the herd are learning to decode command bites like "Energy Independence" and "Green is Good". These cranial candy commands are starting to to move some away from a "stay the course" mentality. Maybe enough will be turned away in time from the lemming ledge finale they are heading for. We can only try.
I read a story somewhere that talked about an Indian Tribe in a South American country that hunted monkeys.  They hunt using a rather unusual method.

They take coconuts and modify them.  They cut a hole through the coconut and hollow out the core a bit.  Now they place a bit of food in the center and set it up for a monkey to take it.

When the monkey puts his hand in the coconut, he quickly discovers his hand can not leave the coconut with the food.  The monkey makes DESPERATE attempts to get the food out, (short term thinking), but doesn't understand the severity of the choice it has just made.  Shortly after sticking it's hand in the coconut for the easy food, it is dead.

Metaphorically we have our hand stuck in that coconut (energy needs) and we can't pull our hand out WITH the food (oil).  We have to make a hard choices but without proper perspective we make the wrong choice.

In the end it's basic psychology....I believe it's called group think.

this film.
has a rather good scene of a tv preacher ranting on about point 6.
Salient point but small correction -- the "tv preacher" bit is a clip from Network, the classic 1976 satire of the Iron Triangle, written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet.    Peter Finch plays Howard Beale, the mentally deranged news anchor turned TV "madman."

And it is ironic -- his fiery exhortations for viewers to turn off their TVs drive up ratings (for a while, until people get bored).

As concerns the Iron Triangle -- Chayefsky called it thirty years ago.  See it if you haven't.

Stepback, you give me a half million dollars and I will make you a 30 second commercial that will grab everyones attention about PO....

You can do it, but like everything else, it takes BIG MONEY.

Something like Chevron's Man-in-the-Hole ad?
step back:

Owwww, you really did say "is so much funner".

That twist on the English language comes straight out of my MTV-addicted kids' mouths. Is it universal?
Thanks for responding. Yes, we can only try, but we can try in different ways and I'm trying to find some of the better ones. Just as the overall problem is non-trivial, so is the meta-problem of communicating it.
Welcome to TOD, WinterIsComing.
A quite apt moniker. May I imply from it that you are a fan of R.R. Martin's ' A Song of Fire and Ice' series?
Exactly. I consider it excellent mental preparation for some of the possible futures.
It was this fantasy series that convinced my wife to take oil depletion (and future planning for it) seriously. She's a huge fantasy fiction fan.
I like the approach of the second one, though not the execution. A heavily customized, chrome-and-diamonds bicycle would be more appropriate :-) I remember my cousins would pimp their bikes when they were too young to even ride scooters. They would put rear-view mirrors on the handlebars, oversized mudflaps on the rear wheel, stickers all over and, of course, little pieces of plastic next to the wheel to rattle against the spikes...
It would have to have a mudflap big enough for a "Support our Troops" yellow ribbon.
Actually, we don't need to write the hundred-word explanation of peak oil. Issac Asimov has already done it:

[begin quote]

Major premise: The Earth's volume is finite.
Minor premise: The total volume of coal and oil on the Earth is less than the total volume of the Earth.
Conclusion: The volume of coal and oil is finite.

You would think this was so obvious! Now, let's start and make this conclusion the major premise of the next syllogism.

Major premise: The volume of coal and oil is finite.
Minor premise: We are burning some every day.
Conclusion: We will use it all up eventually.

Well I got that in 1933.

[end quote]

Isaac Asimov, speaking at the Newark College of Engineering, on November 8, 1974

You could illustrate the shirt with a graphic of Asimov's face, or with a Hubbert's Peak graph and a "We are Here" arrow, or with a tag line, "Do you get it yet?"

It can be done in just under 100 words.

Art Myatt

Major error: Belief that humans are "rational".
Minor error: Belief that they will even listen to you.

Sorry ... I think you needed to hear these Inconvenient Truths.

Of course the inevitability of Peak Oil is a no brainer. But then again, your fellow homo sapiens are also no brainers. They have a million excuses (denials) piled up for why they should not listen to you:

  1. Chicken Little has always been wrong so far.
  2. It won't happen in my life time.
  3. Technology will save us.
  4. The Markets will provide.
  5. God will save me --I'm special.
  6. It won't happen in this country --God always blesses America
  7. Yankee Ingenuity will come through.
  8. The President has a secret Plan B for making "us" secure.
  9. The smiling blonde lady on MSM news is still smiling.
  10. If Peak Oil were true, surely MSM would have alerted us by now. Therefore it is just a hoax perpetrated by Big Oil to justify their high prices (fixed prices).
  11. Oil company execs say "We will never run out of oil". I like their fair and balanced view better than yours. You merely report whereas I decide. I'm the decider.
Well, there are "humans" who I deeply care about and I want them to be as well-prepared for potential fallout as possible. I'm not going to give up on them just because they are likely to react with denial. I plan to minimize that likelihood by using the best communication tactics I can come up with.

And even for humans I don't care that much about, it is in my interest for them to learn about the problems sooner rather than later. At the very least they will be less able to act surprised if/when TSHTF. As they're about to start a riot at the closed-down fuel station, at least some of them will be tempered by the humbling realization that they have been, in fact, warned. Every person counts.

Having said that, I think you have to start from your closest friends and family - people who value what you say. That's where you will get the best energy returns.

Think of this as a lifeboat scenario.
You're on the Titanic, still steaming recklessly ahead at full speed. The iceberg is now visible ahead, and is now only a few meters in front of the ship. Our 'leaders' are squabbling in the bridge over whether to turn port or starboard, or whether or not there is any danger at all, after all only a little bit of ice is poking up above the sea level.  Not that it matters much at this point, the ship is huge and ponderous and cannot turn on a dime.  The time to react to the danger has almost past.  Others on board are rearranging the deck chairs, playing poker in the first class salon while drinking cognac and smoking cigars, or are crammed into a windowless steerage compartment, unable to even see the danger.  The ship is unsinkable!  It is a marvel of technology and science, and technology will save us!  The captain will save us!  It doesn't matter even if we hit the ice berg, the ship will stay afloat, and other ships will come to save us!

You need to get your loved ones informed and prepared first and foremost. The difference between an event and a disaster is often in how people respond to it.  Get your lifeboat ready, and them in it.  Then move on to try and save others, to convince them to get prepared and get the hell off of the ship. There is still time, it took hours for the Titanic to sink. But use the time wisely, things will get worse the lower in the water the bow sinks....

excellent imagery.
It makes good sense.
The captain(s) of our Titanic society are not going to listen to some Chicken Little iceberg screamers.
According to most psychologists, they never do. Human nature.
human beings are imperfect.  human response to problems is imperfect.  through successive approximation, responses get better over time.

i think the key thing to recognize is that we don't know how much better we can do.  it is beyond our ability to predict.

the people who cast themselves as blythe optimists early on, or the people who cast themselves as deep pessimists early on, they both have it easy.  all they have to do is fit this week's news to their preconceptions.

it's a little harder if you take the rigorous approach, and try to base your position on a genuine analysis of changing conditions.

what's new?  high gas prices triggered a change in the "state of the union."  that in turn spurred renewed interest, investment, and critical review of alternate energy strategies.

that critical review was enough to kick hydrogen off the bandstand, and bring up ethanol.  progress, but still perhaps imperfect.  ethanol itself is questioned ...

... we've gotta review this stuff as it plays out.  a rational observer cannot really write their script ahead of time.

That's an explanation of the finite nature of oil reserves, which is a medium-term problem (i.e. easier to dismiss). The very immediate Peak Oil problem (physically limited extraction rate vs. ever-growing consumption) is a bit more subtle - hence my "jelly jar" metaphor. We need to make clear that even though we are not running out of oil, we still face a risk of shortages caused by more than just politics. That's what I'm getting at.
This poster seems like a fairly good start. The Oil Poster
Jay Hanson had a good one to point out finiteness:

Is a ball 10 mile in diameter finite?

Is a ball 100 miles in diameter finite?

Is a ball 1,000 miles in diameter finite?

Is a ball 8,000 miles in diameter finite?

A wee bit hard to refute that one!

The Oil Poster is an excellent piece of work but it contains too much information for the basic "catch your interest" purpose I have in mind. In other words, it would be great in a doctor's waiting room but not at a McDrive. I'm looking for something to transfer the basic message really quickly.
Russian Oil Bourse to Debut in '06, Official Says

A senior economic official said Monday that Russia would have a domestic petroleum exchange -- an idea backed by President Vladimir Putin last week -- up and running by year's end, but experts doubted whether oil would trade internationally in rubles anytime soon.

Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Kirill Androsov, who is also a Rosneft board director, said a domestic exchange for oil products would begin trading by the end of 2006 and an international exchange that would sell crude oil sometime in 2007, RIA-Novosti reported.

Meanwhile the dollar continues its free fall after taking a short break yesterday. Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the biggest Ponzi scheme in human history?

The losers this time will be the foreign creditors, the people with savings and on fixed income. With every penny the dollar depreciates billions of wealth evaporates - which means the government will not have to repay it, the workers will be getting increasingly worthless paper as paychecks and their 401K plan will be headed down the drainpipe.

The silver lining is that if (when) the dollar collapses energy will become too expensive in the US. Impoverished people will not be able to pay for 10-20$ of gas and will start pressing the government to make the structural changes needed to prepare us for PO - build rail and mass transit, encourage urban pattern and conservation etc. US will probably lose its international dominance, but the almost forgotten innovative spirit that built this country will be awaken and will lead us to the new world... whatever it is :)

Many of us have our 401K retirement money tied up in funds like Vangaurd.  I keep an eye on this chart

Kind of alarming, really.  We'll see what happens, I guess.

When you look back at this chart you may very well find the peak in the short term to be a few days ago (thurs maybe) as the market came within 100 pts of tying the all time record.  It's becoming increasingly clear that the next 6 mos will be one of decline.  I moved stocks on WED and missed this boat thank god!
And even if it had tied that "record high", it would have actually only retraced 55% of it's own loss since then, thanks to inflation. Doh!
From this perspective, the stock market is down 45% from early 2000, a major loss.
And that is using the artificially low CPI.
Yeah, I have that one too.  It's done well, beating the market in most situations.  Most of my 'new money' is invested in more defensive areas...commodities, metals, energy, inflation protected bonds, foreign stocks.  No more US stocks...too many fiscal chickens coming home to roost in the next few years.
Cheer up comrades, things are getting worse!!

This has been the plan of international financers all along.  Say hello to the New World Order...

"A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and school teachers.... The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth."
~Aldous Huxley Brave New World


A lot of truth here. But when it comes to think of it none of the states in human history so far has been even remotely close to the definition of democracy. They have all been different forms of control of the populace by the ruling elites. The good part of the current system is that at least it gives you a freedom of speech and the ability to peacefully work for changing it.
The ancient Greek city-state of Athens was a "true democracy",   at least in peacetime.
Well, there was that little detail that in ancient Greece, around every Athens citizen there were several slaves... I know that according to ancient greeks the slave was not considered a human, but for me this just changes the ranges of the exploited and the exploitation classes.

Same nowadays - a fair democracy, without being on the expense of somebody else is hard to find.

Unless you were a woman or slave.
We are all slaves to the state.  A high tech-feudalism...


"The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them. "
~Albert Einstein

And therein lies the rub....
Hello fellow TODers. Just thought I'd let you know about my new blog Energy Futura. It will be focussing on Australian issues & activism but include relevant international content.

I have two articles so far, one on Australia's commodities boom (which is being used as a justification for tax cuts...) and one on the recent APPEA conference and Australia's declining oil supplies. New content will be added regularly.

My links section is quite bare but will be gradually filled, feel free to make suggestions, particularly to any Australian sites.


Can somebody please take pity on me and spend a minute to write a quick comment, your minutes time will be repaid by hours of enthusiasm that any feedback will generate in me.
I'm glad someone else is collating stories on the Aussie energy beat, but might I suggest you get together with a few others and start up TOD:Oz?
Peak everything?

A few years ago, roofing asphalt sold for about $200 a ton. Now it's going for $600 a ton and more, said Barry Saifman, a manager at Murton Roofing in Miami.

"I've never seen it where the materials we use -- cement, liquid asphalt, gas -- are all under siege."

Garry Szyndlar, president of Taycon Construction Management Inc. of Palm Beach Gardens, said the price for a ton of copper has more than doubled, to $7,800, in the past two months.


"never seen it where the materials we use -- cement, liquid asphalt, gas -- are all under siege."

We've never it seen it where 6.5 Billion people try to share this one finite planet.

A hearty welcome to all newcomers.

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I posted this near the end of a thread on Friday.  Seems worth repeating here:

"When you think about it, it makes sense that we are going to be experiencing peak oil, peak natural gas, peak water, peak metals, peak soil, peak temperature, peak extinction, and peak many other things at not exactly, but about the same time.  Geologically speaking, in the same instant - like a supernova.  In human terms, over a very short period of decades.  It's because our society is designed to do one thing - maximize profit by maximizing the consumption of everything possible.  Our economic theory tells us that when a resource runs short, its price will rise and something more available and/or less expensive will be substituted for it.  This does happen within the constraints of a finite world.  So, we substitute broadly - for example, as we began to deplete soil, and run out of more open land to plant, we substituted fossil fertilizer for natural soil fertility (the green revolution) and it worked - for awhile.  We've done similar things across the board, so that no one resource constrained our population or economic growth.  We've even sometimes given one thing up for another, only to come back to the original when the subsitute became even more scarce/expensive.  So through this process, we come to the end of everything at about the same time.  Starting now."

My recommended reading list includes Catton, Daniel Quinn, Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Richard Manning and Derrick Jensen.  Taken together they paint a mosaic of our culture and the ecological circumstance we've placed ourselves in.

you forgot to mention the part about minimizing costs to the point of externializing them(aka making somone else pay for it like how wallmart doesn't pay for the healthcare of it's workers. it lets them, in fact encourages them to use welfare and the federal medicade.)
Liebigs Law is right here amongst us.....
Interesting story this morning about coal to liquids. I don't think this bodes well for Governor Schweitzer's dream for Montana coal. Reading between the lines, it sounds like the expense was more than they bargained for. Their logic is baffling to me. They say they need oil prices to go down - not up - before they are competitive. This is apparently because they get tax credits dependent upon the price of oil. But CTL should become more competitive as oil prices go up, unless the EROI for the process is really poor. Anyway, here are some excerpts from the story:

DTE Energy Idles Synthetic Fuel Production

DETROIT, May 15 PRNewswire-FirstCall -- DTE Energy today announced it idled production at all nine synthetic fuel (synfuel) facilities operated by the company.

The decision to idle synfuel production was driven by the current level and volatility of oil prices and the lack of federal legislation that would have provided certainty for production economics this year.

Synthetic fuel production may resume, depending on various factors, including a reduction in oil prices or the enactment of potential federal legislation. DTE Energy retains production flexibility that could allow it to make up lost production during the remainder of 2006 if the current shutdown remains limited in duration.

The company is maintaining its operating earnings guidance, excluding synfuels, of $2.41-$2.66. Previously, the company provided earnings guidance of $3.60-$3.90 per diluted share, which included $1.19-$1.24 of synfuel earnings per diluted share. However, given the uncertainties around the amount and timing of synfuel production and the ultimate value of the related tax credits, the company is not providing synfuel earnings guidance at this time.

DTE Energy holds a majority interest in two of the nine synthetic fuel production facilities and minority interests in the remaining seven facilities. Synthetic fuel facilities chemically change coal, including waste and marginal coal, into a synthetic fuel as determined under applicable Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. The production and sale of synthetic fuel produced at these facilities generates production tax credits under the Internal Revenue Code.

The value of these credits is dependent on the full-year average price of oil for the year in which the credits are generated. While the full-year average price of oil cannot be known with certainty prior to the end of the year, current high oil prices suggest that credits' value could be partially or fully phased out for 2006.

Legislation was proposed in Congress for inclusion in the recent tax reconciliation bill that would have impacted the potential phase-out of production tax credits for 2006 and 2007. However, this provision was not included in the reconciliation bill as enacted.
The proposed legislation is under consideration for inclusion in subsequent legislation, such as the "extenders" bill. If included and enacted as proposed, then there would be no phase-out of tax credits for 2006 and DTE Energy could resume production at the synthetic fuel facilities it operates.


Frustrating - the financial picture is too intertwined with credits and other artifical constructs to get a good idea of the process itself.
What they are saying is the loss of the tax credit is bigger than the increase in profitability from increased oil prices. Basically, even at $70 oil their operation is not profitable (without guv subsidy).
Basically, even at $70 oil their operation is not profitable (without guv subsidy).

That was exactly my interpretation. This is a sharp dose of reality for those who think we will be doing CTL any time soon.


"Synfuels" is not CTL. The tax credit was originally conceived this way back in the 1980s to support coal gasification plants, but the plants shut down. Since then, "synfuels" has mainly been minor alteration of coal for supply to power plants, and includes such processes as spraying coal with diesel oil, pulverizing and briquetting coal, and other such processes. After all, Marriott Corp. is a major recipient of the "synfuels" tax credit, and they certainly have no expertise in CTL technology. Tampa Electric Power Co. is another major recipient.

This all came to a head back in 2003 when the most egregious schemes were uncovered, and the IRS then issued a ruling that there had to be some "chemical change" in the coal, but to date, the credits still go to the companies undertaking only minor processing of the coal.

The tax credit came under focus this month as Congress looked around for money: http://tinyurl.com/nt873

I believe that this is not coal to liquids, but a synfuel scam of longstanding.  These companies take coal, spray something on it, and call it synfuel and get a credit.

An astonishing boondoggle, and something which gives a bad name to all other innovative government energy programs.


Now that makes more sense. I just told someone yesterday that nobody in the U.S. was doing CTL commercially. Then, I came across this story this morning. I was surprised, because CTL plants are going to be incredibly capital intensive, and I couldn't believe I had overlooked the fact that there were 9 plants running.

When someone says "synfuel" from coal, I just naturally assumed they were talking CTL. What you both have said makes much more sense.


Wal-Mart's gas threat

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Wal-Mart signaled Tuesday that it's clearly worried that higher gas prices could both eat into its sales in the months ahead and add to the overall cost of running its business.

In a pre-recorded call to discuss the Wal-Mart's (Research) first-quarter results, CEO Lee Scott said the company could "continue to see higher utility costs impact customers around the world" and pressure [results] in the second quarter.

Moreover, Wal-Mart said higher energy costs will likely pressure the backend of its business in the form of higher operating expenses and transportation costs.

Industry experts have warned that low-to-mid-income consumers - Wal-Mart's core shoppers - first feel the pinch from rising gas prices, ultimately cutting back on trips to the store and spending less once they get there.

Don't worry, there's plenty of oil.  The reason prices are high are all those darned speculators:

Hedge funds play major role in gas price hikes

I'm assuming your comment is tongue-in-cheek.

But, seriously, can someone explain by what mechanism speculators could significantly drive up the price of oil over the long term? I don't understand how this could possibly work, short of buying and storing the oil.

Leanan posted this at peakoil.com:

How readers would fix the energy crisis

They're for drilling all over the U.S., building nukes, expanding ethanol and developing hydrogen. Check out their suggestions and how I plan to explore their ideas.

Thanks to the 839 readers who sent me their recipes for fixing the supply side of our national energy "problem." I've never gotten so much e-mail so quickly in response to any column.

In my May 9 column "My 4-point plan to cut U.S. energy use," which solved the demand side of the current energy crisis, I asked for your suggestions on how to tackle the other half of the problem by expanding supply. And, boy, did you all respond.

I don't agree with everything that readers suggested. But, as I said in my column, we're brainstorming here. So, following the time-honored rules of brainstorming, I, acting as facilitator for the group, am going to present your ideas without editorial comment. (We'll save the trash talk for a later round.)

I've grouped them together by topic because, it turns out, most of your solutions to the supply-side of the energy crisis fell into six major categories:

continue reading at MSM Money

I like the tone of the article, and the author wants to expand it: he will write a follow up on ethanol in mid june:

The first topic: Ethanol. So send me your data and your Web sites and let's see if we can figure out exactly how much energy and money it costs to produce a gallon of the major types of ethano
There was an interesting thing I found in a housing bubble blog:


FREDERICK -- Thousands of Frederick County's so-called "McMansions" could be back on the market in coming years as deadlines on interest-only loans come due, mortgage payments skyrocket, and homeowners' pocketbooks are stretched to the breaking point.

Home assessments have skyrocketed in Maryland especially in metropolitan areas -- home values are up 60.3 percent over last year, Ms. Jackman said. As assessments increase, so do property tax bills.

When the principal payments come due, combined with other economic burdens -- higher property tax bills, increases in utility bills, $3 or more for a gallon of gas, mounting interest rates and rising day-to-day expenses -- it may be more than some families can bear.

A flood of vacant houses "is one possible outcome," said Thomas Shaner, executive director of the Maryland Association of Mortgage Bankers. "I don't want to say it couldn't happen. It absolutely could happen, and that kind of stuff worries everyone."

Silly me - I thought it would be high oil prices that would cook this goose.

All of us with SUV's are not pure evil.  We have one.  It's really big, loaded with all the options.  But we must have it -- it's the only thing big enough to carry our kids, neighbors, and stuff around the neighborhood, and cross-country during the holidays.  We can only afford two cars: the Suburban and my gas-efficient, reliable Honda, which I drive to work every day.  It's the best anyone can expect.

Hail Satan!

I'm not poo-pooing your argument about the
Suburban; just asking a question of my more
worldly TOD'ers: What do people drive in
other parts of the world when they need to haul
the family around? I myself pre-date SUV's by
several decades. Use to be people just used
a sedan or in some cases a station wagon.(Didn't
have air conditioning either back in the 50's.)
You used to be able to throw all the kids in the back of a station wagon or pickup truck.  

That's illegal now.  You have to have your kids in carseats, or buckled in with seatbelts.

We're spoiled now.  We expect our children to live to be adults these days.

If you just want to carry around a lot of stuff and do it relatively efficiently the current vehicle of choice is the Dodge Sprinter. Aka Mercedes delivery van. The diesel engine gets 20-27mpg depemding on how and where you drive and how big a box is behind the cab. You would have to go to a shop that does conversion vans if you wanted seats with belts and all that. At any level of trim it would still cost 10s of thousands less than a loaded Suburban. And much much less to operate. And you could haul a lot lot more stuff.
But it would still look like a utilitarian delivery van.
These trucks are amazingly efficient and reliable and it's why you see so many delivery services and contractors switching to them in a rush. I haven't seen one done up for a family yet. No one buys an SUV for any practical reason, it's not what they're about.
OldHippie wrote:
"No one buys an SUV for any practical reason, it's not what they're about."

See?  This is the kind of comment that I hear so often from the old hippy types.  Hey Hip, do you know what we haul around, where we live, where we go, how often, or why?  No, you don't.  The Suburban that we have is the best for doing what we need to do.  Why do you think we'd spend more money than we needed to?  Criminy.

oldhippie did at least mention a more efficient van.

people are getting down on you.  i don't mean to.  i don't doubt there are people who need a large suv.  some combination of many passengers, high payload, bad roads, snow, ...

when i was growing up we used a VW van (camper) to do things like that.  my dad was a teacher, not a hippie, but we did put a couple flowers on the side, for fun.

serious question, would a lighter van do it?

of course people haul so much 'stuff' along with them these days.  i was amazed to see full size suvs on my last road trip, with those big bags on the roof to carry more, or those trailer hitch cargo boxes to add even more ...

and ther is the cultural indoctrination.  how many times do we hear "i could never drive a minivan?"  if you ask me natural minivan drivers bolt over to suvs just to desguise themselves as someone more fit and less boring ...

All of us with SUV's are not pure evil.

Yes, you are.

We have one.  It's really big, loaded with all the options.  But we must have it

Will death occur if you should somehow lose it? Then why do you say you must have it? Let me ask you this: do you think the planet is better off with 6.5 billion people driving Suburbans or zero?

We can only afford two cars

The vast majority of people on the planet can afford zero cars.

It's the best anyone can expect.

I beg to differ. Would you have your kids (none of whom are adopted, I assume) sucking on your suburban's exhaust pipe while it runs?

calendar wrote:
"Will death occur if you should somehow lose it? Then why do you say you must have it?"

Death? That's the choice?  An SUV or death?  Get real.

calendar wrote:
"Let me ask you this: do you think the planet is better off with 6.5 billion people driving Suburbans or zero?"

I'm not advocating anything of the sort!  Holy cow, I cannot believe you said that.  

I've already told you why we must have it: to haul the amount of people and stuff around, long-distance visiting, and what not.  How can you be so smug and sure that I don't need it?  Or do you just not care?  

You're making generalities about my situation, of which you know practically nothing.  Using your "logic," there should be no cars or trucks at all.

calendar wrote:
"The vast majority of people on the planet can afford zero cars."

That's completely irrevelant, unless you believe that I owe a living to every other being on the planet, and that everything I have belongs to everyone (and therefore, no one).  

calendar wrote:
"Would you have your kids (none of whom are adopted, I assume) sucking on your suburban's exhaust pipe while it runs?"  

What is that supposed to mean?  What difference would adoption make?  What is wrong with you?  What kind of exhaust pipes have you been sucking on?

While I hesitate to jump in here... I think that viewed from the perspective of geologic time and the total biosphere this is quite correct: "there should be no cars or trucks at all."  Given what they're doing to the climate, the groundwater, countless species... and given the legacy of no petroleum and a very damaged planet that we're leaving for our progeney, it's pretty hard to defend their existence, especially hard to defend the wanton use of them by, oh, about 15% of the global population.  And yes, I drive a car.  But I ain't proud of it.
"We have one.  It's really big, loaded with all the options.  But we must have it -- it's the only thing big enough"



Found a couple sites that might be useful to you:


Me? Don't have a car.  Ride the bus. Never heard any complaints. You do the math.



I couldn't get to the sites you referenced, they are blocked by my ISP's filter.  Do you visit them often?

Matt wrote:
"Me? Don't have a car.  Ride the bus. Never heard any complaints. You do the math."

What?  Who would complain if you ride the bus?  Do you stink or are you an obnoxious loud-mouth or what?  

And "do the math"? What math?  About the numbers of times people wished you weren't stinking up the bus?  


"Do you stink or are you an obnoxious loud-mouth or what?"  


Often and always, respectively.



Rusty, I can't tell if that's tongue-in-cheek or not.

If you're for real and really do need shitloads of space, why not just pick up a Honda Fit?

It gets 31 in the city, 38 on the highway, and you can "fit" a surf board inside the thing. I even heard they're even going to drop a hybrid engine into it next year.


Well, I'm mostly serious.  My Honda is reliable, was very affordable, and gets good gas mileage.  We use it about 80% of the time, mostly when I drive to work.  It's just the right size.  80% of the time it's just me inside, but in the evenings and on weekends my wife uses it to haul the kids and the dogs and stuff around town to baseball, gymnastics, etc.

And for those who think I should move to an area where I can just take the bus or ride a bike to work, I want to tell them that's impossible.  In my business (engineering)I'd be moving every few years.  Not a good way to build community for our neighbors or our children.

I'd like to get a hybrid for my next commuter car, if money and timing works out.  We'll see.

(Just joking about the Hail Satan, BTW.)

    you can call me arch
If you have so many kids that you "must have" a 7 passenger SUV then you're definitely contributing to overpopulation which is the biggest issue concerning Peak Oil, and central to the potential known as "die off."

Back not too many years ago there were these strange things which attached to cars that allowed them to carry more stuff occasionally...they were called trailers.

So not only do you not need a Suburban, but the reason you give for your supposed need is itself bogus.  You don't need to go on cross country holidays, or need to haul "stuff" around the neighborhood, and you probably don't need the space for your kids either (since they'd probably fit in a station wagon, etc).  What you call a need is known in the rest of the universe as a convenience.

"It's the best anyone can expect."  - that's why a lot of people think we're completely screwed

I recently decided that the proper mechanism to prevent further over-population is this:

  1. If a woman has a third baby, she is required to name the man who fathered it. The man must now be imprisoned for one year.
  2. If the woman will not name the man, she must be imprisoned for the one year.

I can anticipate criticism that my bleeding-heart kindness in keeping the incarceration as low as one year is far too short for such acts as over-population which are tantamount to genocide. It is my deep hope that a man will find a condom less odious than a year in prison.
So, what do I need, O'Guru of the Universe?  To munch hay on your commune?

Your Benevolence, with all due respect, I wish you green types would spend more time coming up with realistic solutions instead of so much time condemning people whose circumstances you don't even know.

Hey, here's one for those with a yard:  Do you compost?  I mean really compost, every day, every week, month of the every year?  Do you also compost your neighbors' leaves and grass?  If so, Good.  You have more credibility with me.  If you don't, then you're not doing your part.

See?  I can play the blame game, too!  Fun, isn't it?  But not as productive as if we'd actually tried to get to know each other and helped each other out.

And I'm keeping my SUV until someone comes up with a better alternative.  

Hail Lucifer, the light-bearer!

While I don't know your specific situation (and you're reluctant to be specific about your circumstance), statistics are handy (even if they are just based on casual observations).  Of all the people that say they "need" their SUV, 98% do not.  The remaining 2% are Contractors, off roaders, people who live in the middle of nowhere, and people with large boats.  Of those 2%, the off roaders and people with large boats, they don't really need one either.  No one needs a boat, or to go off roading.  The rest of the 98% have an SUV for convenience, and could be well off with anything ranging from small car to a minivan. (note that many new SUV's are built on car platforms and look more like minivans than trucks)  

I dislike it when people fortify themselves in a position  they know to be incorrect with a claim of "need", and the justification that they've been using for years to convince themselves of it.  People can convince themselves of anything.  Even the "need" for an SUV when something much more suitable will suffice.

I'm hardly a hay munching green (besides the fact that you can not process the nutrition from grass) and I have the past history of having a '64 GMC pickup, 5.0 V8 Mustang, and a number of hours accumulated in a Cessna 152 to show for it.  I currently have a '80 F150 that gets seldom (<<1000miles/year) used except for hay runs, "stuff", and  borrowed by friends when they need to haul furniture, appliances, etc.  My main ride is an '88 CRX Si which gets about 35mpg minimum (which, bone stock, you will still occasionally find me running down cars with three times the horsepower) and a '78 Yamaha 750 special (~55mpg) that I ride when the weather's nice mostly for fun.  I fix all of my own vehicles, as well as my parents, sister's and sometimes my friends.  I was born and raised a Motorhead.  Notice a problem?  However, I've gotten as much low hanging energy fruit as I could without much sacrifice.  My electricty bill is 1/3 to 1/4 of most people's, I don't drive very much outside of work and I've got a relatively efficient car, try to combine trips or carpool otherwise.  I also enjoy lower energy activities like hiking, bicycling, backpacking, learning, and TODing.

I found out about PO a number of years ago and started progressing through the normal stages in rapid form...Stage 1: "psssh, Saudi Arabia has enough oil for the world for the next 2 million years"...Stage 2: "Surely [insert techno fix, ethanol, biodiesel, etc] will just replace oil"...Stage 3: "Hmm, this might be a problem"...Stage 4: "Yes, this is definitely a large problem, but it can be solved without big trouble!"...Stage 5: "This is a large problem, and it could be solved without big trouble but that won't happen, so we're probably screwed!"

What really gets me is that we can be doing so much better.  And I'm not talking about hippie communes.  Housing codes for new development that require passive solar features, high levels of efficiency throughout from insulation to fixtures, probably even active solar features.  Forethought into development in general.  Much more efficient vehicles, and choosing smaller more efficient vehicles. Items that are meant to last, and can be serviced and not just thrown away.  Consideration given to population.  Recycling.  Thinking before acting.  These are things which could substantially reduce our impact on the Earth without sacrificing any comfort or quality of life or Fun.

I'm at least willing to admit that I should be doing more and that it's not the best we can hope for, and not just stubbornly hold my position claiming a "need" where there is not one.  People need nutritious food, clean water, and shelter.  The Earth will provide far beyond that...IF we're not complete fools.  Which is what we've thusfar proven ourselves to be.  Overpopulation by it's very nature diminishes the value of each person, and against a finite resource base also diminishes the potential for everything else.  We've inherited a legacy of stunningly poor decisions, and are making even more impressive amounts of our own.

We could be doing so much better.

Interesting note from a major US law firm:

"The IRS audited 41 credit counseling agencies and revoked the tax exempt status of most.  The remainder voluntarily surrendered their tax exemption.  The IRS contended that the credit counselors were improperly funneling individuals toward profit making debt management affiliates.  The 41 agencies generated 40% of the industry's revenues.  Under the new bankruptcy laws that came into effect in October, an individual intending to file chapter 7 must receive credit counseling before filing the petition.  In the absence of approved credit counseling, the judge must dismiss the petition."

For those of you interested in nuclear power (Whitehall, call your office)...

...there was an article in the print edition of Lithuania's largest daily ( http://www.lrytas.lt ) on May 12, page 9:

Poland wants to join the Baltic countries intending to build a new atomic power station in Lithuania. The head of Poland's atomic energy agency, Jerzy Niewodniczansky, said that it would be ideal if Poland's first atomic power station were built in Lithuania, at the existing atomic power station in Ignalina. According to him, participation in the project would not only provide Poland with cheap electricity, but also an opportunity to train Polish personnel for a future atomic power station to be built in Poland.

The Polish government last year approved a new energy strategy, in which it is planned to build Poland's first atomic power station by 2020.

The heads of the leading Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian energy companies signed a memorandum of understanding on March 8, regarding preparations for construction of a new atomic reactor. The preliminary estimated cost of the project is valued at about 3 billion euros. It is thought that the new reactor could be built by 2020, and would solve the shortage of electric production capacity that is expected in the Baltic countries after 2015.

Important background note: the existing reactor at Ignalina (Lithuania) is scheduled to be shut down at the end of (if I remember correctly) 2009. Big gap there between 2009 and 2020...yikes! Hmmm, maybe I better accelerate those plans to put up a small windmill and a few solar panels...

My personal opinion is that by the end of 2009 Lithuania will have no other choice but to forego its obligations to close the reactor at Ignalina. By that time the energy situation in whole Europe will be so tight that nobody will be able to blame you for that.

In this regard you are better off than Bulgaria, which was forced to shut down 4 nuclear reactors prior to entering EU.

Two interesting posts over at Morgan Stanley's Global Economic Forum. Dated May 15 --


Stephen S. Roach has a piece on "Commodity Bubble". His basic idea is that the current commodity boom is largely based on the flawed notion that China's future path will look like the path it has followed for the past 27 years. Doesn't mention Peak Oil, but he tiptoes around it at the very end:

"From China to the "end of oil," perfectly plausible stories of the new era abound."

I recommend this -- I disagree with his conclusions, but he states his case better than most others I have seen.

Also, Serhan Cevik has a piece, "Petro-Bubbles", covering his Middle East and North Africa beat. For U.S.-based readers, some of what he writes might be news. Worth a look, I would say.

Roach is probably the best of the MSM economists. Having said that, just like the rest of them there are two big things he either cannot comprehend or will not discuss. 1.Some of these commodities (like oil) are nonrenewable and are depleting, so looking at historical price data from decades ago is illogical 2. China is likely to become the major economy on the planet, surpassing the USA.    
China is already the leading economic power and makes the world economy go round. It is the biggest exporter and its industrial production is larger than that of the US. Its productive investments are by far largest in the world. But Roach makes the point: the Chinese growth cannot go  this fast very long. It is mainly coal-based and it is not likely that the Chinese coal production can at this level grow 9 - 10% a year any more.  
Germany exports more goods than China, and more services as well. (from memory)
How are things gloom and doomers?

This bit of news caught my eye:

"The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) reported that the collective output of the state's ethanol facilities is expected to equal the amount of petroleum-based gasoline that Iowans use. Fuel consumers in Iowa have burned about 1.5 billion gallons of fuel in their vehicles in the past year, and annual ethanol production for 2006 should reach 1.6 billion gallons."

Nebraska and South Dakota are close on Iowa's heels. 26 US states now have ethanol plants.

This was interesting too:

"The kingdom (Saudi Arabia) opened its Haradh expansion facility on March 22, which increased crude output capacity by 2.7 percent to 11.3 million barrels a day. The facility is the latest addition in a five-year, $14 billion program to boost production capacity almost 14 percent to 12.5 million barrels a day in 2009."

Oil production will drop one day but who cares? New liquid fuels + Efficiency gains=peak oil is a non-event. It will happen and no one (with a social life) will care.

The doomers exaggerate. Having said that, you will have to enjoy quite a social life to not be aware of what is coming down this road.
if the US consumes about 146 billion gallons of gasoline a year ... we need a few more Iowas just to satisfy our MTBE replacement ...


How many billion gallons of gasoline (or oil) will it take run the plants that produce the 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol?
Let me guess what the "Iowa Renewable Fuels Association" does. Hmmm......I'm having a hard time with this one. Could it be...oh, I don't know...an association for promoting Iowa's 'Renewable Fuels'?

Translation: A for-profit shill for the corn lobby.

Look at your sources with a discerning eye.
Quoting from "Hummer Magazine" about how great Hummer gas mileage really is can only be described as bogus and specious at best.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is on C-SPAN 1 talking about PO:


Interesting article found on Yahoo News today: Cargill, ADM Differ in Food-Fuel Debate


One agribusiness giant is enthusiastic about using farmland to produce fuel. Another says growing food should be the top priority for those fields.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., by far the country's largest ethanol producer, has taken an aggressive approach to biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel. Cargill Inc. has been more restrained, though it's hardly sitting on the sidelines.

Recent comments by the chairmen of both companies mirror a larger debate taking place on how big of a contribution ethanol can make toward reducing America's need for oil imports, and whether using more corn to make more fuel will lead to higher food prices.

Minnetonka-based Cargill ... chairman and CEO Warren Staley, told a gathering of business writers here that he saw producing food as the most important task for agriculture. ... "We have to look at the hierarchy of value for agricultural land use: food first, then feed and last fuel."

Staley questioned whether subsidies for using land to produce fuel were good long-term policy ... Even if the entire U.S. corn crop were used for ethanol, it would replace only about 20 percent of domestic gasoline consumption, he said.

The next day, the chairman of ADM, G. Allen Andreas, responded by insisting the world has plenty of capacity to grow food.

Fuel before feed!

Eating meat is like driving a Hummer.

How fat do we have to get? Obesity is already a global epidemic. Of course we should use the mountains of extra corn for fuel.  

If people are skinny in this world, it is because they work out and want to be, they live too far away from food distribution networks or humans imposed an artificial scarcity. This world has plenty of food.

You forgot not having any money to buy food. The no money diet will take the pounds off real quick.
The "no money diet" is a result of imposing an economic system where you trade something (like labour) for food. In the Depression, there were soup lines even as crops rotted in the fields in America. Problem? The economy failed to distribute the otherwise plenty. Result? The no money diet being imposed.
Insurance companies watch the bucks: Global Warming

Swiss Re, insurance giant, has sponsored a report on global warming that should make economists sit up and take notice.  

Insurance companies follow the bucks; they are worried. We should follow the insurance companies.

There are plenty of graphs here to delight TOD'ers and economists alike.

 I have a way to solve all, of the problems one fell swoop in the US.

Some will call it impossible, impractical and silly. Some will reject it since it would require action and commitment from all able bodied citizens of the US.

I could share my idea here yet before I do I would like to see if anyone cares to read it? It would be a fairly long read and require some realizations to be made. For me the main thing is that to type this will take me a while and if at least a few people are interested then the time is well spent. I think?

A quick summery would be something along the lines of, "Today all poverty ends, all citizens have their own homes, we use the land efficiently and there are no more bills!"

Let me know in replies if you are open minded and willing to participate in a truly democratic family based future that could start a global trend....


I reply -- I know this thread is pretty well dead.

The problem is money. How we organize our entire society is around money flows, who has it and can direct human labor to some end. Sadly, those ends are typically to make more money, instead of doing something really useful. So we can reorganize our whole society to be inclusive and have more opportunities for people to work together at stuff that matters. It comes back to how capitalism works. Wonder why alt. energy doesnt get funded like oil? profit profit stinking usurious profit. Well they do have to pay back the interest on those loans.

Are you warm, are you cold, are you hungry?

How many of you have investments?

How many of you have a job?

A good job?

How many of you own a car, two cars, own property?

How many of you have a family?

How many of you have an education?

How many of you are worried about loss?

Profit and Loss.

Supply and Demand.

Peak Oil.

Climate Change.

Economic collapse.

Are you religious?

How big is your penis?

Why is TOD here?

Say hello to Hugo, GWB.