DrumBeat: May 20, 2006

Now for some wise words from the readers of The Oil Drum...
The IEA's Oil Market Report has OPEC's April crude production at 30 mb/d. They had December's OPEC production at 29.3 mb/d. (Though the February report said OPEC production fell in January by .65 mb/d to 29.2 mb/d.)  At any rate from December to April the IEA has OPEC increasing production by .7 mb/d.

The EIA's Short Term Energy Report has a different story. They had OPEC production, crude only, at 30.16 mb/d in December and 29.78 mb/d in April, a draw-down of .38 mb/d. Ignoring the differences in amount and looking only at the total change reported by each agency, December to April, that is a discrepancy of a whopping 1.08 mb/d between the two. With such a discrepancy between these two agencies, and the IEA's habit of dramatically revising their figures month to month, can we have any confidence in any figures they put out.

On another note, the EIA's Short Term Energy Outlook, has OPEC production, crude only, up 90,000 barrels per day March to April. They have Iran's output flat for that period.

However MEES, (Middle East Energy Specialists) has OPEC production down 140,000 mb/d for the same period. They have Iranian production falling 420,000 barrels per day from March to April.

It appears there is not much certainty in what is really going on in the OPEC Oil Patch, especially in the short term.

Ron Patterson

(So what happens if--I think when--Russian oil production starts rapidly declining?)


Experts Say Despite Problems, Russia Plays Constructive Role in Global Energy Market
By Barry Wood
19 May 2006

A leading Washington research organization, the American Enterprise Institute, Friday held a forum on Russia and the world energy market. VOA's Barry Wood reports that analysts believe Russia must make considerable new investments just to maintain current levels of oil and gas production.


Cliff Gaddy, the Russian economy expert at Washington's Brookings Institution, worries that Russia's oil production will decline in coming years. Massive new investment, he said, is required to meet Russia's goal of maintaining and then boosting production. After Saudi Arabia, Russia is the world's biggest oil exporter. Gaddy said the world needs Russian oil.

"Just ask yourself, where would world oil prices be without these three million extra barrels a day of oil that Russia has contributed since 1999? I mean, that is a real counter-factual and a lot of other things might have happened. Maybe China wouldn't have grown as much without that oil, maybe the whole world would be in a depression, but maybe oil prices would be not $70 to $80 a barrel, but $120 a barrel, or $150 a barrel, or $200 a barrel," he said.

It seems like the national attitude is this (and I understand this wasn't westexas' point in this post): we have to find more sources of oil so we can continue to use it up as fast as possible. While I don't wish for $120 to $200 a barrel oil (I'm retired, on a fixed income, and drive a paid-for Voyager), it seems that higher prices for oil (to a level that would result in say $6.00 US for a gallon of gas) is the only way people will get off the stick and start driving smaller cars, driving less, conserving energy, and (in the macro) developing different energy sources. Around my area (the Pacific Northwest), people are still buying huge tricked out pickups and SUVs, V-8 thisis and thatis, and Hummers. In short they've already adjusted to $3+ gas prices! We need innovation and political leadership, and it would be nice if that would start now and not under the extreme pressure of an economic collapse brought about by disastrously high energy prices.
"we have to find more sources of oil so we can continue to use it up as fast as possible."

That's my point about "moving to the endpoints of the fossil fuel continuum," i.e., gas to liquids (GTL) and coal to liquids (CTL).  We are simply talking about accelerating our rate of consumption of finite energy sources.  

My continuing recommendation:  abolish the Payroll (Social Secuirty + Medicare) Tax and replace it with an Energy Consumption Tax.

Westexas, I always tell my hardcore retired Republican buddies that we should put a $10-per-gallon tax on gasoline to help pay for the Iraq War.
Confession:  I was a volunteer in the 1996 and (to a lesser extent) 2000 Steve Forbes for President campaigns (I liked his tax policies).  Ironically, I now disagree vehemently with Steve regarding Peak Oil, but it was an interesting experience.  I got to meet lots of people way above my pay scale.  

In any case, I had dinner last night with a senior member of the Forbes campaign (who had been a member of the Reagan Administration).   She was largely Peak Oil unaware, but I pitched the Energy Tax/Abolish the Payroll Tax idea, and I think I sold her on the idea.  

She said that lots of Republicans are now lamenting their choice for president and telling her that she was correct when she tried to warn them about Bush.  I asked her if she could imagine George W. Bush giving Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" Speech."  She said that "George Bush probably can't spell Berlin Wall."  

Thomas Friedman and Sen Richard Lugar were on C-span this afternoon discussing energy and foreign policy. After much hedging they both endorsed an increased gas tax and a lowering of the payroll tax:


Funny or not so funny we bought a ford explorer afew years ago- before I became fully aware of peak oil- yes we one of those hated SUV owners.  Our family is all tall-6'+ and small cars don't fit our family worth a crap.  We looked at fuel miliage compared to other vechiles and found that none of them were very impressive. Mini vans including toyota didn't deliver alot more.  The old MG had leg room like no other car has today.  We were driving today with three poeple in our car surrounded by several cars that only carried 1 person. Better gas milage per person?  Does this count? How much of our true traffic is still one person per car?  I bet if you filmed a highway for any lenght of time and counted people per car it would be interesting.
Vans, minivans, and SUVs are not horrible vehicles if you drive them with a full or nearly full passenger load all the time. But that's the problem - most people drive these monsters solo, with no one else in the entire vehicle.

Miles per gallon is not the only measure we should observe. We need to observe passenger miles per gallon. Yes, vehicles can and should get better mileage overall, but one SUV carrying 6 people and getting 12 miles per gallon is more energy efficient than 6 Camrys getting 40 miles per gallon being driven solo. Take a sample trip of 20 miles. The SUV will expend 1.67 gallons while the 6 Camries will expend 6 * 0.5 = 3.0 gallons for covering the same distance. This is precisely why mass transit is more energy efficient than solo drivers in cars. Even though something like a train gets far lower raw MPG, it carries far more passengers and/or cargo so the total energy expended is less per passenger or cargo pound moved.

If you drive your SUV with a full or nearly full load most of the time, then you are actually helping conserve energy. It's all those solo drivers, even in their hybrid Priuses that are wasting energy.

So carpool. It's a good way to start conserving energy. It's not the ultimate solution but it's a good place to start.

I've been thinking about this lately, I've concluded that the only real measure is fuel used per unit time.  It does not matter HOW you achieve it, the goal should be to reduce the number of gallons you use, say, in a month.  If that be from a higher mpg car, or combining trips, or car pooling, or walking, or taking the train, whatever.
Bingo!  We have a winnah!

This is the point I keep making to people in person--don't get caught up in the minutiae of the situation, just look for ways to minimize your monthly energy expenses.  Use less (turn off lights in unused rooms, batch errands together, car pool), and use energy more efficiently (use CFL's, drive with a lighter foot), and you can save a healthy percentage of your energy bill, beginning right now, without making a major investment or change in your lifestyle.

Ah, but here's the tricky part of people miles per gallon:

Take an average four passenger Civic getting 32 miles per  gallon.  4people X 32mpg = 128pmpg

And a large 7 passenger SUV getting 15 mpg.  7people X 15 mpg = 105pmpg

(For giggles you might also want to consider 5 people riding
in an Echo: 5people X 38mpg = 190pmpg)

First of all, with the (theoretical) vehicles at full
capacity the civic still beats out the SUV in people miles
per gallon.  That could obviously flip if the SUV got better
mpg in this case, but it'd still be a close call.

Now the real problem...what's the likelyhood that you can
find 7 people all going in the same direction at the same
time?  Pretty slim.  How about four people going in the same
direction?  Less slim, but still pretty slim I'd say.  I'd
say that two people going in the same direction at the same
time is a lot more likely.  So back to the math:

Civic: 2 people X 32mpg = 64pmpg
SUV: 2 people X 15mpg = 30pmpg

You somehow need to find twice as many people going in the
same direction to make the SUV match or exceed the efficiency of the smaller, better mileage car, and once you reach two people in the car (meaning four in the SUV) your likelyhood that all people are heading in the same direction at the same time decreases greatly.

Russia doesn't need to maintain or increase its oil production since it exports two thirds and the oil revenue just drives up inflation.   But others need Russia's oil.  So do those arrogant others who lecture Russia incessantly on the flimsiests of pretexts expect Russia to just do this out of the goodness of its heart?  Get real.  

As the article says, the price of oil could have been much higher without the extra Russian output since 1999.  So Russia is actually hurting its own interests pumping the volumes it does.  Let the Saudis try an play the game they did in the 80s and 90s.

For newcomers, Khebab and I have done some Hubbert Linearization (HL) work that suggests that net export capacity is going to fall much, much faster than world oil production declines.

IMO, Russia is on the verge of a catastrophic decline in oil production.  

I found it interesting that Marathon is selling their Western Siberian production.  

The Russian Energy Minister has warnd that, without a crash driling program in frontier areas, Russia faces the possibility of a "real collapase in oil production."

Following the pattern of the US this decline will not be all that catastrophic, in contrast to under-sea provinces such as the North Sea.  If Russia's output falls by 2.5 million barrels per day by 2010 that is not bad for Russia.  But pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into oil exploration and development on some forced program to please the west is bad for Russia.

Russia's current oil consumption is about 2.5 million barrels per day.  A decline in production is actually good for the country since it will prevent it from copying the US car culture deathtrap.

"But pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into oil exploration and development on some forced program to please the west is bad for Russia."

No argument from me.  I think that it is ultimately bad for the West too.  

However, we have seen three major regions peak and decline:  

Texas/Lower 48/Total US in the Seventies;

Russia in the Eighties;

North Sea in the Nineties.  

Based on the HL method, all peaked between about 49% and 58% of Qt.   None have shown production higher than what they showed in the vicinity of 50% of Qt.  Based on the HL method, Russia's rebound in production is just making up for what was not produced after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

The kicker?  Based on currently producing basins (I admit that frontier basins in Russia are huge unknowns, for better or worse), the HL model indicates the US has more recoverable reserves than Russia.   This implies an extremely sharp decline.  How sharp can declines be?  Look at what the internal reports are suggesting for Cantarell (up to 40% per year).  

I continue to find it very interesting that Marathon sold their Russian production.

It's ok, the Russians have a plan B


No need to worry.


I agree with the HL method but I doubt that Russia's oil production will collapse by 15%-20% per year from now on.  There is also a big difference between the history of oil exploitation in Russia compared to the US.  The US has had many entrepreneurs getting at ever scrap of oil while in Russia it has been a few big enterprises before and after the fall of communism.

Marathon Oil could have been harassed out of Russia.  Treatment of foreign investors in the natural resource sector in that country has been attrocious.

Marathon Oil could have been harassed out of Russia.  Treatment of foreign investors in the natural resource sector in that country has been attrocious.

But deliberate and planned?

Hello Dissident,

I am assuming you are in Russia, please correct me if I am wrong.  I sincerely hope that Russia does have the wisdom to avoid the car culture deathtrap, but please inform us if this is, in fact, official Russian policy.  As I understand it now: motor vehicle sales are booming:


Do the Russian media and the general public discuss Peakoil ramifications, or are most in ignorance and denial like here in the US?

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

So far, very few Russians have heard of the global PO case, and even fewer are worried.
Because up to now, it's been party time.
Hello Smekhovo,

Can you give us an assessment of the average Russian's response to Putin's proposed new birth benefits: are the people excited to pump out the newborns, or would they rather have fewer children?  Thxs.

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

People are certainly talking about it on the street.
I think there will be some short-term increase in the fertility rate, but - if the experience of all the other countries that have tried similar measures is any guide - not nearly enough.
And the other part of the demographic problem - the appallingly low male life expectancy - goes unaddressed.
A week ago there was an informal discussion about Peak Oil concept in the Russian Ministry of Energy. The consensus was that the World Peak will be somewhere in the middle of the next decade.
I'm no expert on Russia, but I've read everything I could get my hands on concering their new oil plans.

It seems that the concept of PO and depletion has indeed come up in Russia.  It was not clear at what level of production they were talking about - but the Russian energy minstry specifically stated they believe Mideast oil will last about 13 more years at roughly the same rate before it depletes, but Russia's supplies will last roughly 28 years.  

What was supposed to happen after 13 or 28 years was not made clear.  Russia was just preparing for the day when its financial windfall would run out by shifting its surpluses into Euros, gold, and even specific worldwide investments.


I moved out of Russia 30 years ago.  

Unfortunately Russian policy is still dominated by monetarist dogma imposed by Yeltsin.  So the car culture is growing out of control and streets in Moscow and elsewhere are becoming clogged with traffic.  For a country were public transit was very, very good (e.g. you could hop on a train to go camping in the backwoods) this is idiotic.  So a swift kick upside the head for this trend would be very beneficial.

A significant fall in oil production has numerous benefits. It will force the economic development away from dependence on fossil fuel extraction and sale abroad, which is seriously distorting the economy.  It will force the development to make use of existing rail and public transit infrastructure and prevent all of these assets from being scrapped in the name of "progress".

As other posters have said already, awareness of peak oil is lacking since the same BS was spewed during Soviet times about vast oil resources.  East and west people have been brainwashed by endless repitition of the technology will overcome nature mantra.

I believe there are discrepancies in OPEC figures because of the uncertainty surrounding Nigeria's output and how much is really "shut in" in any given month. As MEND, the rebel group in the Niger Delta said, "there is no shortage of things to blow up". Most estimates put it at 25% of production. This is approximately 625/kbpd, which would be (assuming 2.5/mbpd of capacity) a production level of 1.875/mbpd while EIA (your link) puts the level at 2.150/mbpd in March. This is a pretty big discrepancy of 275/kbpd. The real truth is nobody knows what Nigeria is producing and that changes day to day.

This situation will continue and likely get worse. So, I do not trust OPEC estimates of production at this time, even while ignoring uncertainties in the other OPEC countries.

And another source of equally uncertain authority, http://www.jodidb.org/IEFS/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=22 , is more optimistic about OPEC production in 2006 than IEA or any of those you name. A real outlier, in fact.
SO, it looks like inflation is starting to unfold as the comsumer price index rose. IMHO, inflation is the way the powers that be will deal with the Federal Debt, Consumer Debt, Trade Deficit and Housing Bubble all at once. Even just a 8-10% yearly inflation rate for 10 years would reduce these problems dramatically.

Unions are barely a factor now like they were in the 1970s so workers will only notice in retrospect that their spending power has been greatly reduced over time. At the same time they will be comforted by the nominal rise in the value of their houses and salaries even if most of it is stripped away by rising prices. Fixed income folks will get screwed big time, along with all of us savers. The debtors go free...

And ideas for personal finances? I've got GLD and a bunch of commodity companies in my portfolio. What about going into debt for real estate? Anyone else thinking of going into a little debt to buy some straight-up land (no house) that's either agricultural or loaded with timber? I feel like that might be a good investment right now.

I think debt for real estate makes sense if you are ABSOLUTELY SURE that you will have the cashflow to make payments AND handle taxes that will be increasing with inflation. You can not be sure that property values will not be depressed due to high mortgage interest rates in an inflationary environment, and you may not be able to sell for a profit. This happened in countries that had high inflation for a while (South Africa e.g.) and property loans were underwater for 10 years or so.

As far as GLD - I dont like the fact that you have to pay 28% tax on the profit. A better investment in my opinion is CEF - (half gold / half silver) where you pay 15% long term capital gains tax on any profit.

Francois, what kind of taxes do you pay if you sell physical gold?
CEF is considered a passive foreign investment company by the IRS.  If you own CEF in a taxable account, you need to file form 8621 every year so you can elect to have it treated as a QEF.

You can google CEF, PFIC, and 8621 to get more info.

That said, I much prefer to own CEF than GLD.  As opposed to the ETFs (which I believe are tools for manipulation), CEF insures and audits its gold and silver holdings.

At this point just about everyone expects high inflation and a massive dollar devaluation. The retail investor, the proverbial "little" guy, has finally arrived on the scene - late as usual and itching to plunk down his money, dreaming of riches untold.

Where was he in 1999, when crude was going for $15 ($70 now)? Piling into dotcoms and telecoms, that's where.

Where was he in 2002 when the USD/EUR FX rate was 0.85 dollars to the euro (1.26 now)?

Where was he when gold was scraping the bottom at $275/oz in 2001 ($700 now)?

Where was he in 2003 when copper was going for 75c/lb ($3.75 now)?

But you get my drift...The name of the game is "buy low-sell high" and not "buy very high and hope desperately that it goes to the Moon".

But hey, there is something different this time, some will say. I'll let you in on a little secret: there ALWAYS is. Like "The New Economy", or "The Nifty Fifty", or "The Economy Has Now Reached A Permanent High Plateau"...

I sincerely wish you good luck.


Actually, for all the bubble talk the commodity bull market is extremely different than the tech bull market. The tech bull market was aggressively promoted by the MSM and Wall Street and valuations reached absurd heights. Many highly valued companies had astronomical P/Es or were actually losing money. In contrast, during this supposed "commodity mania or bubble" oil companies are trading at a discount to the overall market. As an example, Valero has a P/E of 9. These companies are being valued by the market with the belief that oil prices will slide back to $40 within a couple years. Certainly a mania of a different colour.
Since you bring up Valero...it is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) sour-capable refiners in the US. Since the sweet-sour oil price spread has widened very considerably in the past couple of years they have made a bundle.

On the "bubble" valuations: cyclical businesses like commodities-related ones trade at low P/E's at the top of their earnings cycles and high ones at the bottom. In fact, low P/E's are a pretty good sign of a top.

All bubbles are more or less the same because they are human psychology phenomena. Humans don't change..greed, fear, mania, hubris...they have been the same for thousands of years.

Nonsense. These companies like Valero have traded at low P/Es since 1998. Do some research.
1999 lost money (neg. p/e). Price avg.$7.
2000 avg p/e 40x Price avg $8
2001 avg p/e 5x Price avg $11
2002 avg p/e 40x Price avg. $8
2003 avg p/e 20x Price avg. $9
2004 avg p/e  9x Price avg $17
2005 avg p/e 11x Price avg $45
2006 so far p/e 9 Price between $48-71

You were saying?

Your numbers don't look right. Where are you getting 2001 and 2002 data?
You are right to point out that consensus is a lagging indicator, and that the broader the consensus, the closer the trend is to exhaustion. By the time Joe Sixpack stakes his future on it, the writing is on the wall. The little guy is always left holding the (empty) bag at the end of the day.

Personally, I do not own stocks because I expect the market to crash, taking the good down with the bad just as the stock mania took the bad up with the good. I do own real estate, but as a consumption item, not an investment. I would not own it if I could not do so debt free - in that case I would be renting and letting someone else take the price risk. The reason I bought my small farm, despite expecting its nominal value to fall dramatically and property taxes on it to rise, is that I do not plan to sell it in my lifetime. Self-sufficiency, while being no guarantee of security, is still a reasonable strategy to pursue (communally if necessary) during times of great disruption.

Hellasious,  you are exactly right, but frankly, I am afraid you are spitting into the wind on this...

It seems that the little investor gets the "information" to make investments and plans just at the moment the earliest investors need to fill out the top level of the pyramid...

Allow me to tell one on myself here...in 1999-2000, I was taking a continuing education class that involved a writing assignment...routine stuff, just an essay assignment-argumentative in nature, and I asked the instructor if I could take on an economic theme....source it well, about 10 pages...he had seen my writing before so he gave me pretty much free rein....

I wrote an essay in 2000 that basically said the energy consumption situation in the world could not possibly be sustainable.  There were no quotes from Matt Simmons, no quotes about "Peak Oil".  These were "off the radar" to me at that time.  But, just based on the math I could find, the constantly rising fuel consumption were bound to create a massive problem, despite the appearance at that time that was SIMPLY NO PROBLEM on the energy front, that we could just keep motoring along.  

Question:  Did I invest on my own advice?  Sadly, no, at least not in a big, bold way.  In my research I could find ALL the business publications I could stand that said, there simply is NO PROBLEM.  I went cautious, made a nice little bit on "teaspoon" size investments in Nabors Industries  (oil service looked good to me, just based on the size of the industry and it's prospective growth) and on a little Louisiana offshore driller, took my 25% or 35% gain and was happy...I had not been greedy, I had made my fair share, and didn't try to be  a "hog"  (the old Wall Street rule you know, Bears can make money, Bulls can make money, but "hogs" never do)   As oil crossed past $40 to $45 dollars, ALL market advisors agreed....back off, we have to be at the top of this bull run....I actually heard a market analysis on MSNBC say flatly, "$45 has to be near the top....as for the economy, if it goes past $50, all bets are off."  Needless to say, someone, (?? Who??) was still buying the oils, oil service and commoditiies, because they just kept climbing (who, who, who, was buying intot he face of all PUBLIC pronouncements that we were already at the top of the bull run on oil/gas/commodities?)

Now, the burger has flipped on the grill, and we are frying the other side....ALL BETS now seem to be that oil will go to $100 or more, (REMEMBER:  This is coming from the same people who said only a couple of years ago that $45 was the top.  NOW, the little investor is being invited in for the riches of ever increasing returns based on buying oil at the highest price it has been, inflation adjusted, since 1979.  "It's a SLAM DUNK, oil cannot get cheaper....it's a different world this time!  Peak is upon us!!  (most of the financial guru's couldn't even define PEAK OIL and have never read a word of M. King Hubbert, Colin Campbell, or Matt Simmons, but be that as it may...)

Peak may indeed be upon us.  But timing is everything.  Is it here now?  One notices that OPEC is now at the 30 mbd mark.  I have been betting my Peak Aware friends that they can never sustain much above that for long periods of time.  But, what if I am wrong?  (remember, being wrong is ALWAYS POSSIBLE)
I have said that 85 to 90 mbd worldwide has to be near the top, but (??)

If Peak is not now, what, 5 years....10, if deep offshore and Arctic Canadian comes onstream (??) NGL'S and GTL's begin to pick up in earnest (??), a big find offshore West Africa (??), battery improvement making plug hybrid autos easily possible (??), Iranian and Iraqi production begins to live up to it's promise (??)....maybe 20 years out, maybe that is Peak. (??), real peak, geological this time, not like the 1970's, just a logistical Peak (???)

What can we go with?  Well one thing I have learned.  If you got the information your using to invest with from the Business press or the mainstream media, you got it too late.  It's the best contrarian indicator in history to bet against what's in the papers, Forbes, and Business Week.

That alone causes me to have some extreme doubts.

Roger Conner  ThatsItImout


There are so many signs of hype surrounding high oil and metal prices plus a "massive devaluation of the dollar" that it is high time that thoughtful people should persistently question those precepts. Why, on this site alone one can find  advertisements that proclaim (scream?) that oil will double again, that there are massive investment opportunities in huge (heretofore undiscovered) oil deposits in the US, etc etc.

At this point crude oil has mostly become snake oil and gold is turning into fool's gold.

The debtors go free...

To put it bluntly, I think the debtors will eventually be strong-armed into the military, or end up in indentured servitude. To take on unrepayable debt right now is to take a tremendous risk for yourself and your family.

IMO the US stockmarket resumed its bear market this week. The housing bubble is already leaking badly and I would expect the trickle of air to become a flood beginning this year. Consumers are desperately overburdened with debt, yet bankruptcy laws are tightening. To me this strongly suggests much reduced credit-fuelled spending (as the emphasis shifts to debt repayment) and widespread debt default, both of which are deflationary (ie they reduce the money supply). As purchasing power falls, quantity demanded falls with it, which is likely to bring down asset prices across the board, including commodity prices (although commodity prices may fall less rapidly than other prices and much less rapidly than purchasing power, which amounts to a price increase in real terms). IMO this is not the time to be in debt at all, let alone take on any more, especially in the real estate market, which can go illiquid very quickly

Actually, what we are headed for is a period of deflation, not inflation.

Oil prices are certainly taxing working man and inflation is rising, but we are headed for a cliff and that cliff is the Great Depression II.  

As someone who has studied the first Great Depression in detail, I can tell you that when 25 or 30% of the population is out of work, and the other 25-30% fearful that they will also lose their jobs, there is no inflation.  No one buys anything except the bare necessities.  Depressions always cause deflation.

The Second Great Depression will also postpone Peak Oil by about 20 years.   Demand destruction caused by massive unemployment in the USA will also devastate the Chinese and Indian economies.   Peak Oil will occur in 2030 vs 2012, IMO.

It is always wise to save money.   The other people that were really hurt in the Great Depressions were those with lots of debt and didn't have luquid cash (lots of bank failures wiped out people's savings).  

The goverment siezed private gold in 1934 and silver's value plummeted becuase it is an industrial metal, it doesn't do well in depressions...

By 2010, Peak Oil will be the least of our worries...   God help us all!

FYI, everyone - I was reading that post outloud to my husband and he grabbed the computer and said he wanted to respond to it. So that is his post above under my name!
Check out this awesome ethanol piece from Gristmill:

Grain ethanol: wack




An excellent response and one that even non-technical people, who throw up their hands when ERoEI is mentioned, can understand.

What drives me to distraction is the belief by most people that the status quo can be maintained -forever- if we only develop "alternatives."  Their depth of the denial about coming societal change is unbelievable to me.  This is one of the reasons I agree with JH and MS about the future.

Further, I believe that the necssary funds won't be there when needed to make investments to a lower energy use society.  When I retired I was going to build a fire-breathing hot rod (to re-capture my youth I suppose).  Instead, I took the $40k and put in a large PV system and gave up the 750hp car.  I really wonder how many people are going to make similar choices?

What drives me to distraction is quotes like these (also posted over there at gristmill):

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz made similar comments in an interview in March. Speaking with CNN reporter Frank Sesno, Lutz said, "We think running the nation on E85 makes more sense than all the hybrids in the world."


... talk about your 'big lie'

Hello Odograph,

I think GMcorp was caught with their pants down, and the E85 campaign is their deluded best, but late campaign to try and staunch the flow of hi-MPG seeking customers to small cars and hybrids from the other brands-- a 'buy American' patriotic ploy: that the farming heartland will save our sorry-ass easy-motoring lifestyle.

GM & Ford would be better served to listen to AlanfromBigEasy and get into RR infrastructure bigtime along with building one person commuter cars and scooters.  Piaggo has debuted a very cleverly designed 3-wheel scooter that leans like a motorcycle, but offers obvious safety advantages in a panic stop or heavy weather conditions.  Check out the website and really cool videos here:


I still think the best short-term interim step [before mass-transit is universal], is for Americans to keep their existing vehicles for when they really need to haul 3 or more people, or bulky loads, but get a small and cheap auto-scooter and good bicycle with baskets/panniers for most travel needs.  The one person/SUV joyride is not long for this world, best to get ahead of this trend.  The huge amounts of money saved can then be used to pay off debts, or super-insulating the home, or other conservation measures.

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

I like the keep the SUV for hauling bulk load and switch to scooters...a very easy way for everyone to get involved at a cost that is not beyond reach.  I was hauling my family of three surrounded by smaller cars hauling only 1 person per car and I think that is also a big problem.  Persons per gallon needs to be in the equation somewhere. Also talked with a gentle man who worked near boeing field early on and talked of electric busses (with overhead wires).  IMO this represents the logical way to make the transition. tracks for light rail take to long to install and are not easily relocated if needed
I really like the idea of monorail. I wonder why they're never discussed.

They seem like an excellent, cool alternative to me. They're quieter and move like bullets.

The monorail idea would be a shoo-in if developers would only look to how folk are prepared to stand in line to ride a rollercoaster. I bet plenty of motorists would throw away their car keys if they could enjoy highspeed loops and Zero G on a daily basis. The clowns are already running the circus, we should openly acknowledge it by taking the next logical step.
Monorails don't take much right-of-way, they just need a series of piers.

You could put them in the median of traffic-clogged highways, and passengers would wave to all the cars as they whizz by.

"See ya later, suckers!"

Hello Delusional,

You absolutely right about the persons hauled/gallon as a measure of vehicular efficiency, but here in the Asphalt Wonderland of Phx, a fully people-packed auto/SUV is still a rare sight--mostly one person per heavy cage resulting in sheer tonnage/mobile person requiring massive btus to move down the road.  Most Americans will resist carpooling as long as possible if they still feel they can afford 'the freedom of the road' and the personal time scheduling flexibility it allows.  Our High Occupancy Vehicle [HOV] lanes are still underutilized relative to the jam-packed lanes of single person vehicles during our typical rush hours.  Thankfully, motorcycles and freeway-legal sized scooters can use the HOV lanes 24/7 to vastly decrease our commuting times and increase visible positional safety to all the cardrivers yapping on their cellphones.

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

The SUV/Truck is a status symbol. On an energy basis they are the moral equivalent to drowning babies in a lake. My neighbor traded in a small car and got a truck. So far I haven't seen him haul anything in the back of the truck. The Truck is justing hauling one ass to work every day. We need government action to put the proper incentives in place. I don't blame joe sixpack. Joe is dumb as a pile of rocks and always will be. The blame clearly falls with TPTB, the MSM, the Bush administration, and all the inbread mutations of such on levers of power.
I agree on the status symbol part of SUV ownership.  The 1 person per car I also agree with.  I guess it is a personal finance question.  Own a large car and a small one also? I like the idea of scooters.  Be it Joe six-pac or anyone else I think we have blindly fallen into a trap.  Our houses(try living without one) are spread far and wide, are also bigger than they need to be as a shelter, making heavy fuel consumption a requirement. This is a very tough problem, how do you convert?  I think I glimpsed the future here in the local paper(Oregonian-Portland, OR USA) there is a group that calls themselves the urban organic farmers(or something like that) they use your yard to grow vegies-taking care of all the planting/weeding/etc. give you a portion of the harvest and sell the rest locally.  They have 12 yards that they do this in and are working toward 50.  I have wondered how town people wil take care of themselves...this might be a view of the future.  If we have to start making our own clothes (or whatever) again (in our garages) this country might stand a chance of a hard landing but a landing none the less.
Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick! The idea of this is so remote from the thinking where I live (TX) that it might as well be in some other country--I'm thinking Sweden or something.  I have GOT to get out of this hellhole...
An excellent response and one that even non-technical people, who throw up their hands when ERoEI is mentioned, can understand.

I think Gristmill did a good job of grabbing the good sound bites. The entire article is much too long, and I know that. Not too many people have the attention span to read through such a long exchange. It's just hard to balance a short response with detailed technical information that sometimes must be conveyed.


Not too many people have the attention span to read through such a long exchange. It's just hard to balance a short response with detailed technical information that sometimes must be conveyed.

And of course, this is part of the problem. The energy supply is provided by an enormously complex system and it cannot be adequately described in a few paragraphs. Even worse, it requires at least some amount of math to understand the size/scale of the problems and the potential solutions. Most people hear "a billion gallons of ethanol per year" and think it's an unimaginably large number, that we can't possibly be using that much gasoline, and that "of course" we can substitute ethanol for gasoline. Still, it is a battle that has to be fought. Keep up the good work.

Hello mcain6925,

"Not too many people have the attention span to read through such a long exchange. It's just hard to balance a short response with detailed technical information that sometimes must be conveyed."

You're correct, of course, but this is really a sad statement of the world's overall mental comprehensive abilities [rephrased]: Peak Attention Span prevents the understanding of Peak Everything!

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

We don't need every person to become a peak oil expert.  Just a few "early adopters" who will save money, tell their friends, and spread the meme that way.  Sure, it would be vastly better if everyone were as dilligent about energy issues as we are, but the ideas will spread pretty quickly.

I just saw an article last night that talked about the high resale value on more efficient cars, and how a 2005 Civic EX (non-hybrid) with 20,000 miles is listed in the Kelly Blue Book for $82 more than it cost new.  If the demand for greater fuel efficiency is that high, the message is getting out.

"We don't need every person to become a peak oil expert.  Just a few "early adopters" who will save money, tell their friends, and spread the meme that way."

Enter Jevons Paradox.  Without the knowlege and social consciencenous behind it, the efficiency gains will just be overridden by other using more and you're back to where you started.

Really?  Do you believe we will have enough efficient cars to drive down prices anytime soon?

What gasoline price do you expect for May '07?

I was specifically countering the prior argument.  As I read it, it suggested spreading the idea of adopting energy efficiency on sort of a grassroots level that could rapidly grow, but without the knowlege of why that efficiency was necessary.  Without the reason, it leaves the door open to whatever slack might be created to just be picked up and used somewhere else...the textbook "Jevons Peak Oil Paradox."  There must be both the action and the understanding to avoid the trap (barring of course a more rapid decline in supply than demand, but then efficiency is forced and it becomes a whole other issue all together).

I'm not entirely sure what to expect as far as gas prices.  I don't think we'll have enough efficient cars to drive down prices soon, though (if ever).  Because of the way the fleet cycles, there would have to be a whole lot of fuel efficient cars selling now (and really the recent past) to make a difference in the near future and that just isn't happening.  As for May '07...if I had to bet, I'd bet higher but I don't know by how much.  I would guess with a high confidence sub 4.50, lesser but not poor confidence sub 3.50 (national average, of course).  Demand's not going away, but I don't think supply will by then either.  Just from all of the projects information and other information I still see 2008 as being the tipping year where all bets are off.

I'm starting to place an ever increasing probability on a "fit and starts" scenario.  Whereby energy prices get so high, that the economy takes a whack, energy demand is thereby reduced, lower energy demand lowers prices, the economy starts picking back up, energy prices get high, the economy takes a whack, etc...  As you would imagine, this would be some sort of ever decreasing roller coaster, where the next high is lower than the last... and if it should occur quickly enough there is probably a floor - a critical point - where if the economy drops below that, everything falls apart (the "doomer" scenario) because of lack of adaptation.

That's the reason I don't think we have to worry about Jevon.

We can all talk up the short term $$$ benefits of conservation without worry.  Us early adopters will benefit.  When the middle of the populatin starts to move, they will benefit.

But if I read it right, there are too many constraints on a small-car shift (social and practical) to truly drive down prices.  Certainly we aren't going to reduce asian gasoline demand growth.

We are a long way off from the end game, but I don't expect easy and cheap energy before it's over.  Not like we had in the price retreat of the 90's.

... and so it will likely be the 'slow squeeze' we often hear about.  Early movers to efficiency will be squeezed less.

Hello Todd,

Looks like most detritovores are going the opposite way.  How about a 'car condo' for $200,000:


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

Great - while the cars sit in the condo they are not polluting or consuming.

But - best use of scarce resources ???  Hardly.  The term more money than sense has never been truer.

The current military SUBSIDY on oil is $7.40/gal. of gasoline, atop the pump price (realist, posted 5/02) from an apparently reliable source.  Like the $0.50 for ethanol it is, of course, taxpayer funded.  Where's the efficiency here?  In the face of global warming, fossil fuel use should be cut by whatever means available.  We're drowning in the oil berral and that fact has negative impact on almost every other aspect of our economy and society.  E85 is a beginning.  A 55-mph speed limit would help.  Driving less would help.  High-mileage cars would help.  Continued research efforts on cellulosic ethanol, rapeseed, grass, algae, willow trees or whatever has potential.  Wack? It's much too early to make such a charge.


Why don't you look at the "real" cost of ethanol? I have blogged on it, but here is a similar calculation from a site that supports alternative energy:


Given the heavy fossil fuel inputs, any subsidies to oil are also subsidies to ethanol, unless you can figure out how to make ethanol without a heavy input of fossil fuels. There are better ways.


Is it true that gas requires more energy to make than ETOH?

This is from MSNBC:

"Michael Wang, a scientist at the Energy Department-funded Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research, says ... "the delivery of 1 million British thermal units of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels"... By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels."


If so we better stop this silly gas addiction and outlaw gas stations.   : )

Glad you asked. :)

Energy Balance For Ethanol Better Than For Gasoline?

Executive summary: The claim is hogwash.


The problem is, if you pit a researcher fro Argonne National Laboratory against a known "pro Peak-anti biofuels" website like R-squared, who are most people going to believe?

Secondly, the quote from R-squared in the piece comparing gasoline to ethanol makes some pretty remarkable statements itself...my favorite:
"Crude oil is a highly energy dense mixture. It is contained in underground deposits, and just needs to be pumped out of the ground."
(???????????????????????????)   (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
gee, if only it were so, we wouldn't be arguing about Peak Oil at all!


I take it we are now doing no energy balance or EROEI accounting for those giant water injection projects that are used in most of the world now to push the oil out of the ground, water/oil separation plants to then separate the oil from the water, the amount of "water cut", in which massive effort is used to essentially extract a mix that is as much or more water as oil (you note that he counts the expense of getting the water out of corn against ethanol!),
the consuption of otherwise marketable gas to run water/oil seperation...and we haven't even gotten to the refining stage yet!

Note we are talking here about the "easy" oil in the Persian Gulf, that mythology seems to think "just needs to be pumped out of the ground."

What about the offshore oil in the Atlantic North Sea, or off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico?  Has anyone ever actually done a EROEI or energy balance study on giant deep sea rigs like the BP Thunder Horse or Mad Dog rigs?
(How much energy was used to build them, how many tons of steel in each one?  To move them, to operate them?)

In the mythology of many Peak Aware people, the first leap of faith they are expected to make is this:

OIL is God.  There are no substitutes.  It is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, just waiting to be spent, and then, DOOM!!  There is or can be no other energy in the WORLD that can be as magic as oil and gas, no way that energy can be produced in ANY other way.  All other attempts, without the God of OIL will be as futile as the Tower of Babel, and end in terrible failure, because they don't involve worship of OIL.  All good things, all culture and economy and wealth and health and happiness have come from OIL!!

I am sorry.  This is a leap of faith (and it is only that, empirical evidence does not support the irrational worship of oil)  that I CANNOT make.

Oil and gas are good.  They are exceptional in a way that few folks who burn them even begin to realize.  But, they ARE NOT THAT DAMM GOOD.

I am not a fan of the ethanol solution, by the way.  I think it suffers from all the problems of oil and gas, but one more stepped removed.  Like oil and gas, in the end ethanol will prove to have been a clumsy, primitive and awkward way to fuel a society.  The problem with ethanol is that it offers no bridge to the future, but is simply a "stop gap" way to extend a primitive fossil fuel system, and at a great deal of waste at that.  Even more important than ethanol's waste of resources is the waste of TIME, that most valuable commodity)

Almost everything that is wrong with fossil fuel is wrong with ethanol...and vice versa.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Separating oil and water is much easier than separating alcohol and water. Since oil does not dissolve in water you can physically separate them. Alcohol has to be evaporated.
Though you can use low grade heat to do it if you have some big solar ponds to power the distillation unit.
But I still think alcohol use in cars is immoral.
The problem is, if you pit a researcher fro Argonne National Laboratory against a known "pro Peak-anti biofuels" website like R-squared, who are most people going to believe?

Well, if it's a credential contest, I will certainly stack mine against Wang's. But at the end of the day, it is the arguments and calculations that have to be addressed. I have had exchanges with both Wang at Argonned and Shapouri at the USDA and I must say their biases came through strongly, and I was underwhelmed by their responses. Wang admitted that he is using a "special metric" to come up with this number, but that I was looking at total energy inputs. Well, duh. You have to look at the total energy inputs.

I take it we are now doing no energy balance or EROEI accounting for those giant water injection projects....

You see, you'd be wrong about that. I used 10/1 as the EROI for getting oil out of the ground (even though I have read that the world average is 17/1). It used to be 100/1. The reason it has decreased is because it takes a lot more effort to get it out of the ground, because of things like water injection.

I guess the bottom line is that Wang is making proclamations, and I am making arguments supported by math and the scientific literature.

and we haven't even gotten to the refining stage yet!

But the refining stage was covered, and I can assure you I know exactly how much energy it takes to refine a barrel of oil. At the end of the day, the EROI for starting from scratch and getting gasoline is at least 5/1, but the EROI of corn ethanol is at best 1.3 to 1, due to the heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Even more important than ethanol's waste of resources is the waste of TIME, that most valuable commodity.

That's why this ethanol experiment annoys me so much as well.


if you pit a researcher fro Argonne National Laboratory against a known "pro Peak-anti biofuels" website like R-squared, who are most people going to believe?

The r-squared website is the one I have chosen to believe.. Am I wrong?? Is the math wrong and if so can you prove otherwise.. If not, why do you chose to believe the math of the Ethanol industry?? Do you understand that an EROEI os ethanol is pityful to say the least..

Is the math wrong and if so can you prove otherwise.. If not, why do you chose to believe the math of the Ethanol industry??

That's the thing that amazes me about a lot of people. Math is math. Of course the assumptions that went into setting up the problem are another matter. That's why I prefer to use the numbers from the pro-ethanol side to disprove their case. They can't complain when I do that. So, I use Argonne's reports and the USDA's reports to show why ethanol is a bad deal. I don't even have to use Pimentel and Patzek.

Of course some people will always go for the ad hom. People will say "what is your motivation"? Even though my motivations are good (IMO), my motivations are irrelevant. The arguments must be addressed, with something other than appeals to authority.


By shifting the cost of energy subsidies to the government, and then to foreigners, the US has greatly diminished the effect of rapidly escalating energy costs.

The US worldwide dollar regime is poorly under stood by most, even those with MBAs.  The US runs a current account deficit nearly $1 trillion a year, in no small part due to energy costs, but just merrily borrows this amount from foreigners.  This money finances the US government budget deficit and the housing boom at the same time.  Everyone in the US is happy; meanwhile the US outbids the rest of the world for remaining energy reserves and leaves them with less.

The scheme will only fall apart when the US dollar is no longer universally accepted and/or when the US can't borrow enough to pay off all its party debts.  The end could come much more rapidly and sooner than ever expected by Wall Street.  But it's not entirely unexpected - members of Congress asked Secretary Snow the other day what were his plans should the dollar begin a sudden collapse.

Like I keep saying:

C2H4 + H2O => EtOH

All you need is ethylene from the cracking plant, water, and a catalyst. The EROEI is probably better than 0.95 for this little bit of the process, and I haven't seen much evidence that it's any better, on average, for the grow : harvest : ferment : distill process.

As for the cracking part I confess abject ignorance. How much ethylene do you get from a barrel of crude? And, can the cracking process be fine-tuned to produce more ethylene?

Hello RR,

I have avidly read your blog and TOD postings--I wholeheartedly agree with your E85 conclusions, but I think the elite PTB have politically ramroded the supposed benefits thru to the satisfactory delight of the ignorant easy-motoring public.  My assumption is that TOD and other Peaker sites will never have the resources and $$$ to reach most of the unwashed masses on what a special interest scam this really is for the Iron Triangle and the politicos that are owned by them.

So then, I put on my thinking cap, shifted my perspective, and tried to see if there is a possible bright side to the E85 program that could be applied to the new Paradigm and my possible theory of building large, distinct biosolar habitats.  Here goes, but I welcome any elaboration or disputation by other TODers with more expertise:

The E85 program will create some jobs in the rural heartland possibly slowing the shift to urban detritovore enclaves.  Maybe they will mandate that walkable towns are required around the new ethanol plants, and railroads will be the primary way to ship the finished product to the hapless urban consumer.  When one considers that billions of gallons of ethanol are required virtually forever, the cost advantages of rebuilding electrified railroads to distribute this vast volume becomes obvious, and the endpoints are already existing oil refineries in industrial areas, that probably already have RRs nearby.  Connecting the RRs from ethanol plant to the final oil refinery or massive oil storage distribution 'final ethanol blending point' can be cost-justified if the ethanol subsidy is high enough.

The massive subsidies, basically a tax upon the motoring detritovores, if properly designed, applied, and gradually ratcheted up, could result in a massive wealth transference from the detritovore to the biosolar organic farmer allowing him sufficient wealth to vastly enrich his topsoil over time by buying humanure and other urban bio-degradable biomass, and afford eco-tech housing, windmills, and PV panels to optimize his farmstead, farming equipment, and water-pumping infrastructure to run on non-detritus energy sources.

An energy tax, as most TODers will agree, will cause detritus conservation [which is good], but if an additional tax is added to each ethanol gallon purchased, it will be hidden at the pump [as it is already blended in]: therefore the hapless detritovore can catch a double whammy of taxation [existing subsidy + per gal tax] fostering further conservation, and more wealth transference to biosolar habitats.  The PTB and their owned politicos love the idea of passing legislation that is largely hidden to the addicted detritovore, and if the news breaks loose: it can be easily propagandized as every Good American's patriotic duty to support the flag-waving American Ethanol Heartland and putting the hurt to the evil detritus exporters!  Think of it as legalizing American grown heroin vs sending billions of $$$ to the Afghanistani poppy fields.  The easy-motoring HUMMER public can be easily sold on the idea of a never-ending, non-negotiable lifestyle supply of local ethanol pushers readily selling your faithful SUV soccer mom her latest required dosage-- the E85 'fix' is in!

And as we all know, the fewer btu/gal of ethanol itself will force further detritovore conservation because you cannot go the same distance as on the higher btu/gal of gasoline.  Gradually ratcheting up the ethanol/gasoline blend ratio and 'patriotically' legislating into obsolescence 100% gasoline pumps: thermodynamically causes cost/distance travelled to quickly become unaffordable for many detritovores, either forcing an accelerated shift to abandon non-flex fuel equipped 100% gas-guzzlers for smaller vehicles like E85 scooters, or else prompting a huge public outcry for AlanfromBigEasy style railroads and mass-transit systems, along with Kunstler's desired shift for small, walkable cities.

The special interest PTB will have created an American-based ethanol monopoly; an E85 American OPEC, if you will, with all the perks and vast economic powers this implies.  Now they know that thermodynamically that this is entropically unsustainable for the hapless, ignorant detritovores, but the E85 program will be highly profitable economic mechanism that will allow them to gradually shift 'infinite growth' false wealth into the construction of huge biosolar corporate kingdoms [Monsanto, Cargill, ADM, XOM, BP, etc] based on REAL WEALTH of daily biosolar growth assets of rich farmland, sunshine, good water, and abundant biodiverse lifeforms protected by hired Earthmarines from Blackwater Security, Halliburton, and others.

Those that stupidly clung to the old Paradigm will find themselves hopelessly isolated and trapped into an ever constricting circle of thermo-induced positive feedbacks and reduced shared carrying capacity as decline sets in ala Olduvai Gorge and as Westexas & Khebab's detritus export decline model brings many Liebig's Law minimal constraints to the fore.

Okay, TODers, feel free to agree or disagree as you wish, but please try to give reasoned examples and refrain from the widespread use of your flamethrowers.  =)

RR, I would especially value your learned opinion.

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


I just read your post, and I will briefly comment on this before I go to bed:

So then, I put on my thinking cap, shifted my perspective, and tried to see if there is a possible bright side to the E85 program that could be applied to the new Paradigm and my possible theory of building large, distinct biosolar habitats.

I have done the same thing many times. I concluded long ago that we are going to go full speed ahead with this ethanol experiment, as foolhardy as it seems to me (although I never agreed to go quitely into the night). But believe it or not, I am quite open-minded. I even wrote an article once on the kinds of technical advancements that could make ethanol truly viable. So, I have also given much thought to whether there is a bright side to this. That's one of the reasons I debate people - to see if they can show me the bright side. But I honestly can't see one.

I think we are wasting precious time, while the public is conned into thinking ethanol will be a solution. (I just wish one of these media or political types would do the calculations and see just how little petroleum we could potentially displace with grain-ethanol). Meanwhile, we will continue to chew up our oil and gas reserves until we are in an even deeper hole. When gas really starts to become depleted and becomes very expensive, then guess what? Ethanol will pay the piper. Or, more likely ethanol producers will switch to coal en masse, which won't be much better than CTL. The fossil fuel economy will still have legs, and we will be no closer to a sustainable solution. Global warming will probably wreak havoc before we run out of liquid (fossil-derived) fuels.

And on that note, I think I will go to bed and try to have pleasant dreams.


Thxs RR,

I hope you and everyone else here on TOD can have pleasant dreams until the real nightmares start haunting us 24/7.

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

Possible bright side, Bob,

What intrigues me is what will happen to my little organic farm up here that grows Angus cows, grass and nice gardens. Will I be selling tomatoes and steaks for $30 a pound because industrial ag is busy trying to coax fuel out of most of America's cropland?

Well, I guess maybe it would be good for me, at least ...

Do you want to be commander of the earth-marine squadron that protects my tomatoes? I kind of need to sleep at night ...

Hello Don in Colorado,

I certainly hope farmers become the wealthiest people in the new paradigm: it seems like the best postPeak way to maximize food production to offset violence.  My proposals hopefully offer an economic mechanism to smooth the transition path from 98% non-farmer/2% farmer ratio to the opposite of 98% farmer/2% non-farmer.

The smart farmers will only be interested in mostly trading for items of biosolar value like humanure, biomass, and minerals to enrich their topsoil, or equipment to further biosolarize their farms-- trading beefsteak tomatoes [yum!drool!] for wide-screen plasma TVs or Rolex watches is pointless.

As for me being an EarthMarine commander--LOL!  Never in military, scared to death of guns, visual acuity of a mole with my thick lenses-- can't even see the barn, much less shoot it!  I suggest looking here for proper expertise:


WTSHTF, these guys will do a very good job of protecting your scrumptious tomatoes, beef cattle, etc.  When most Americans will be starving, your offer of a many vegetable tossed salad, baked potato with butter & sour cream, 12 oz. sizzling Porterhouse or Elk steak fresh from the BBQ, apple pie ala mode for dessert, and mugs of beer will be virtually priceless.  The Earthmarines will be ruthless to anyone trying to invade and steal a meal like this.

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

This is my first comment on the oil drum.  I was wondering if any readers knew of a historical example of an oil driven recession that also eventually drove down oil prices?
With the exception of the first one in the early 70's (OPEC)...ALL OF THEM. And very likely the next one.
When it is proferred that ethanol can't substitute for anything close to our current gas "needs", the response is, "yeh, but it's part of the solution."   Not really.  I fear that it is part of the problem because it is mostly pushed by those who have a direct financial interest in its use or those, including many in congress, who want to offer us another guilt free, no carb, no fat, free lunch.

The main problem, not offered by congress, of course, is that we consume too much fuel, whether it be gas, ethanol, or whatever.  Solving that problem is perceived to cause pain and is an uncomortable truth for those who aspire to continue in political office.  Conservation isn't even a serious player in the Democrat's latest offering on energy independence.

There should be a special place in hell for all these people, but there really isn't enough room in hell to accomodate them all.

This morning I found the following ethanol discussion linked to my blog:

Des Moines Register Ethanol Discussion

Apparently, if you think the real problem is that we consume too much fuel, this makes you a "whacko leftist puke".


Dear Robert,

You do a lot of detailed and well-argued work, well done, and keep it up!

What's worse - Peak Oil or Global Meltdown!?

It almost like being asked to choose between the relative 'merits' of plague and cholera! Which one would you rather have?

Personally, I think the negative effects of global meltdown are further off than peak oil, though the longterm consequences are probably worse for civilization as a whole.

What concerns me is that we have a tendency to look at global meltdown in a linear perspective, and that we don't seem to understand the concept of 'tipping-points' well enough. What I mean by this is, that we reach a point were negative feedback loops come into play, which feed off themselves, and not only rapidly increase the rate of change, but are also, in practice, irriversible.

This appears to be happening in the artic region. This year, during the arctic summer, the levels of ice-cover have retreated further than ever before in human history. In the last couple of years this trend appears to be speeding-up substantially. This may be a temporary aboration, or a disturbing trend. This is cause for concern and many people are concerned. I heard somewhere that if this rate of meltdown keeps increasing at the current 'abnormal' rate, then the arctic could be totally ice-free during the summer months in few decades. Global meltdown in the arctic could become a reality far sooner than we realize. As if this wasn't depressing enough, the U.S. Navy, which measures the ice under the arctic, has supposedly produced a report that apparently shows that the ice under the surface, is disappearing at a even more alarming rate, and that in as little as five to ten years the arctic could be ice-free during summer! Now, this sounds a bit alarmist to me, and the report hasn't been published, so it's probably only a morbid rumour. Still, it's worth thinking about.

I think you mean positive feedback loops.  Negative feedback loops cancel.  Postive loops self-reinforce.
It's pretty clear to me that there's a lot of "crowd control" involved in this ethanol propaganda.  In a dumbocracy the key phrase is "don't freak the voters."  They're stupid, volatile and impressionable.  The best way to keep them passive is to feed them corn cob pipe dreams.

The sad truth is that most people out there don't have the numerical skills necessary to even make sense of the calculations you present.  As a result they listen to talk shows and Sixty Minutes with a gullible ear.

I believe Kunstler is probably right about the rage that will result when amurkans discover that they are reaping the logical consequences of representative government in a country of bumbling materialistic fools.  Just as CEO's vote themselves raises, amurkans vote themselves tax cuts and "morning in amurka," horseshit from the demented.

I appreciate this website immensely but I don't delude myself about the energy situation.  The time to act has come and gone.  I think a lot of people in power know that and are just doing what they can to keep the situation stable.  This gives the wealthy and the powerful time to prepare.  And that's their real objective in feeding us this thin corn gruel.

I think there is a lot of "don't sink GM" too.

And I suppose that even if I were a politician with no sympathy for GM-the-corporation, I might worry about the hit a GM bankruptcy would make to the economy.

I'd agree with these comments...let the stupids think that a solution is right around the corner, hold hearings on greedy oil companies, say that we're addicted to oil and will reduce our dependency on foreign oil and then back away from these statements the very next day, mention switchgrass, let the MSM do their usual fair and balanced job of presenting both sides of the Holocaust, and ignore the few signposts (Hirsch, Katrina) that trickle out. This way, you likely won't be in office about the time the citizenry comes up against the brick wall of reality.
What LJR said. Times 10.



Hey RR, I hope you don't mind by I linked your work to that discussion forum in attempt to educate a few more people in the midwest about ethanol..  That particular poster believes everything or everyone is a "whacko leftist puke" if you don't agree with him..  
If hell is hot enough could you set up a geothermal plant?
According to my understanding of thermodynamics, only if you can find a heat sink. Now if we could string a pipeline from here to there ...
Taking advantage of a thread with less than 189 posts on it...

...I'd like to ask if anyone can add to this list of non-English-language Peak Oil-related sites:

Spanish: http://www.crisisenergetica.org/
French: http://www.oleocene.org/
German: http://www.portal1.parsimony.net/portal171/AltIndex.html
Norwegian: http://energikrise.blogspot.com/
Portuguese: http://www.aspo-portugal.net/
Italian: http://www.aspoitalia.net/

If you can think of a site in Russian or Lithuanian, you'll get bonus points, too.

Dutch (Belgium): www.peakoil.be
Dutch (Netherlands): www.peakoil.nl
Thank you!
Hey, BalticMan, I run Crisis Energética, drop me a line if you need something else.
Thanks for the offer, but no, nothing needed at the moment. I'm thinking of starting a Lithuanian-language site (very bare bones) to serve as an introduction and a gateway of sorts for Lithuanian speakers. (Literally translating "peak oil" into Lithuanian, by the way, creates an absolutely non-sensical phrase -- don't know what I would even choose as an address. Hmmm... "energy crisis" might work...) TOD is great, but I think we need to remember that most of the world will learn about energy issues in a language other than English.

I guess a real breakthrough would be seeing peak-relevant sites in Chinese, Japanese, Russian, [fill in your favorite high-population language].

You have a good site, keep up the good work. My Spanish ability is weak, but what I see on the site is good stuff.

Does anyone know where I can find a graph of oil production and EROEI in time combined? There are some indicatory numbers given often, like in the beginning there was an EROEI of 100 and now 10, but is there also a more complete trend available? There is a graph that illustrates the principle that a falling EROEI will make the last oil useless as energy source, but I haven't found one like that on real data yet.
We are working on a paper on it. Data is hard to come by.
Charlie Hall has also recently done some work using data from John S Herold and Co. His presentation at the conference is here
You might pick up Beyond Oil by Gever or read it on Cutler Clevelands website link where its scanned.(site not working for some reason right now but its www.oilanalytics.org)
The numbers that I found on the web gave a more asymptotical decline of EROEI towards zero.

Thanks for the links! Keep up the good work.

Interesting comments on Aljazeera.com regarding the prospect of a US attack on Iran

(My continuing view is that a US attack on Iran is to World War III as Germany's attack on Poland was to World War II)


Iran, Iraq scenarios: Similarities and dissimilarities
5/20/2006 12:00:00 PM GMT  
By: Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar


After spending over 320 Billion dollars for Iraq war (officially so far) and with no end in sight, why is the Bush administration insisting in starting another catastrophic war in the Middle East?

There have been a number of theories put forward by various groups and individuals.

* Crusade:
Some Muslim thinkers suggest the United States has started a crusade against Islam and is determined to vanquish any and all countries that stand in its way.

* Oil reserves:
Some think that with the oil reserves diminishing fast, the United States is trying to corner all the reserves and supplies for itself, thereby ensuring its future dominant economic position in the world.

* China:
There are others who think that invasion of Iraq and targeting Iran are part of a geo-political move by the United States to block China's emergence as a world power by restricting its access to oil.

* Israel:
And finally there are those who argue that the United States is doing the bidding for Israel and getting rid-of those that may challenge Israel's hegemony in the Middle East in the future.

The answer probably contains some of all of the above.

From Urban Survival:

This is the same sort of "spin" and planted story that has left most casual media consumers with the notion that Iran wants Israel annihilated and "wiped off the map."  But that's not what the president of Iran actually said - an ugly distortion that US mainstream media hasn't bothered to clear up.  For a more fair and balanced look at the story, check out the SF Indy Media story.  Pertinent quote:

"It's becoming clear. The statements of the Iranian President have been reflected by the media in a manipulated way. Iran's President betokens the removal of the regimes, that are in power in Israel and in the USA, to be possible aim for the future. This is correct. But he never demands the elimination or annihilation of Israel. He reveals that changes are potential. The Shah-Regime being supported by the USA in its own country has been vanquished. The eastern governance of the Soviet Union collapsed. Saddam Hussein's dominion drew to a close. Referring to this he voices his aspiration that changes will also be feasible in Israel respectively in Palestine. He adduces Ayatollah Khomeini referring to the Shah-Regime who in this context said that the regime (meaning the Shah-Regime) should be removed."

See what I mean?  MSM spin you and left you with false impressions of what is being said in order to lay the groundwork for the demonizati0n of Iran - a campaign which is in full swing by by pro-expanded war parties.


Thanks for the post.  I am fluent in Persian and could never figure out what the equivalent to "Israel should be wiped off the map" was.  You know, there are expressions in one language that don't exist in another language.  

Finally I got a chance to look up the original Persian-language Ahmadinejad quote.  The actual statement is "Zionist entity (Israel occupation of Palestine) should be cleaned from history." While the "official" translation seems to revoke visions of a nuclear attack on Israel (playing nicely into the Bush media propaganda campaign), the real statement is more philosophical-- all it says is that the shameful occupation should end, just as other Western colonial adventures (like French Lebanon/Syria and British Iraq/Jordan and Egypt) were "cleaned from history."

Thanks for the translation.  The truth is hard to find these days.
>>"Zionist entity (Israel occupation of Palestine) should be cleaned from history." <<

Are the parenthesis yours or Ahmadinejad's?

That would seem to me to be at the core of the dispute.

What's the difference?
The Zionist entity is "Israel", and none of the territory occupied by "Israel" can be deemed on historical grounds to be less "Palestine" than the rest.
You're right.

I'm was coming at this from the perspective that Palestine is West Bank and Gaza only, but that is not, of course, what Iran believes.  

The parantheses are mine.  "Zionist Regime" or "Zionist entity" as used by Iran's Islamic Republican  administration refers to the government occupying Palenstine.  

So "removal from history," as understood by Persian speakers, is just a flowery way of saying "regime change."  It does not have any of the doomsday conotations of "wipe off the map."

I believe you will find that the definition of Palestine includes the entire state of Israel. This is not just ending the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank - actually Gaza is not longer occupied.

From the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

I used to date a girl who is fluent in Arabic. Without learning the language myself she taught me how trivial it is to twist the conversion to English. I now know to reject any grand statements from Arabic/Persian speakers. Sadly, I still think Ahmadinejad is about as dangerous as Bush.
Yes, I've commented about this before.  The mistranslation is part of the enormous effort to paint Iran as the villain at every turn.  Every effort is being made to bring about a war.
The Cole Report
When it comes to Iran, he distorts, you decide.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006, at 4:26 PM ET

In some ways, the continuing row over his call for the complete destruction of Israel must baffle Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All he did, after all, was to turn up at a routine anti-Zionist event and repeat the standard line--laid down by the Ayatollah Khomeini and thus considered by some to be beyond repeal--that the state of Israel is illegitimate and must be obliterated. There's nothing new in that. In the early '90s, I can remember seeing, in the areas around Baalbek in Lebanon that were dominated by Hezbollah and Amal, large posters of the by-then-late Khomeini embellished (in English) with the slogan, "Israel Must Be Completely Destroyed!" And I have twice been to Friday prayers in Tehran itself, addressed by leading mullahs and by former President Rafsanjani, where the more terse version (Marg bar Esrail--"Death to Israel") is chanted as a matter of routine; sometimes as an applause line to an especially deft clerical thrust.

No, what worries me more about Ahmadinejad is his devout belief in the return of the "occulted" or 12th imam and his related belief that, when he himself spoke recently at the United Nations, the whole scene was suffused with a sublime green light that held all his audience in a state of suspended animation. This uncultured jerk is, of course, only a puppet figure with no real power, but this choice of puppet by the theocracy is unsettling in itself. So is Iran's complete lack of embarrassment at being caught, time and again, with nuclear enrichment facilities that have never been declared to the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, words and details and nuances do matter in all this, so I was not surprised to see professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan denying that Ahmadinejad, or indeed Khomeini, had ever made this call for the removal of Israel from the map. Cole is a minor nuisance on the fringes of the academic Muslim apologist community. At one point, there was a danger that he would become a go-to person for quotes in New York Times articles (a sort of Shiite fellow-traveling version of Norman Ornstein, if such an alarming phenomenon can be imagined), but this crisis appears to have passed.

Cole continues to present himself as an expert on Shiism and on the Persian, Arabic, and Urdu tongues. Let us see how his claim vindicates itself in practice. Here is what he wrote on the "Gulf 2000" e-mail chat-list on April 22:

It bears repeating as long as the accusation is made. Ahmadinejad did not "threaten" to "wipe Israel off the map." I'm not sure there is even such an idiom in Persian. He quoted Khomeini to the effect that "the Occupation regime must end" (ehtelal bayad az bayn berad). And, no, it is not the same thing. It is about what sort of regime people live under, not whether they exist at all. Ariel Sharon, after all, made the Occupation regime in Gaza end.

There are two separate but related matters here. For a start, let us look at the now-famous speech that Ahmadinejad actually gave at the Interior Ministry on Oct. 26, 2005. (I am using the translation made by Nazila Fathi of the New York Times Tehran bureau, whose Persian is probably the equal of Professor Cole's.) The relevant portions read:

Our dear Imam [Khomeini] said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. ... Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. ... For over fifty years the world oppressor tried to give legitimacy to the occupying regime, and it has taken measures in this direction to stabilize it.

Ahmadinejad then denounced the recent Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over Gaza as a sellout and added, "If we get through this brief period successfully, the path of eliminating the occupying regime will be easy and down-hill."

Not even Professor Cole will dispute that, in the above passages, the term "occupying regime" means Israel and the term "world oppressor" stands for the United States. (The title of the conference, incidentally, was The World Without Zionism.) In fact, Khomeini's injunctions are referred to twice. Quite possibly, "wiped off the map" is slightly too free a translation of what he originally said, and what it is mandatory for his followers to repeat. So, I give it below, in Persian and in English, and let you be the judge:

Esrail ghiyam-e mossalahaane bar zed-e mamaalek-e eslami nemoodeh ast va bar doval va mamaalek-eeslami ghal-o-gham aan lazem ast.

My source here is none other than a volume published by the Institute for Imam Khomeini. Here is the translation:

Israel has declared armed struggle against Islamic countries and its destruction is a must for all governments and nations of Islam.

This is especially important, and is also the reason for the wide currency given to the statement: It is making something into a matter of religious duty. The term "ghal-o-gham" is an extremely strong and unambivalent one, of which a close equivalent rendering would be "annihilate."

Professor Cole has completely missed or omitted the first reference in last October's speech, skipped to the second one, and flatly misunderstood the third. (The fourth one, about "eliminating the occupying regime," I would say speaks for itself.) He evidently thinks that by "occupation," Khomeini and Ahmadinejad were referring to the Israeli seizure of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. But if this were true, it would not have been going on for "more than fifty years" now, would it? The 50th anniversary of 1967 falls in 2017, which is a while off. What could be clearer than that "occupation regime" is a direct reference to Israel itself?

One might have thought that, if the map-wiping charge were to have been inaccurate or unfair, Ahmadinejad would have denied it. But he presumably knew what he had said and had meant to say. In any case, he has an apologist to do what he does not choose to do for himself. But this apologist, who affects such expertise in Persian, cannot decipher the plain meaning of a celebrated statement and is, furthermore, in need of a remedial course in English.

Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2140947/

Not sure I understand your post. The attributed comment (accurate or otherwise) is being used as a reason to attack Iran (possibly with nuclear weapons). If you think Iran should be attacked because of what somebody possibly said, then say so. I guess under your logic another military power should nuke you because of comments BCR have made.  
I should hope the post speaks for itself. I posted it because I felt it was on topic, it was good writing, I would go to Hitchens any day on the subject, and several of us here have an ongoing dialogue about Iran. I'm just looking for the truth and I like Hitchens.

I personally don't feel it is being "used as a reason to attack Iran." One could just as easily say Iran is using the comment to try to get attacked. Your comment is strange to me, because what is in question is actually Iran attacking Israel. Ironically the article is also about distortion, but I'll leave that be. Maybe I'm reading too much into what you are saying. And who is proposing nuking Iran? If your only source is Hersh's article you can save your breath. Since the last time this topic came up there really hasn't been any news on that front.

By the way, the June 2006 contract for an overt American/Israeli airstrike on Iran(www.tradesports.com) which traded for 20 dollars in December of last year is down to $4. The Dec 2006 and Mar 2007 contracts have also slipped a bit.

  I have made over $800 on that airstrike jazz on www.intrade.com.  I put 250 in for contracts of five then sold them at 20.  Whenever the news gets crazy they sell and I buy more a week later.  I have already taken out 500 and I still have 580 trading around.  The volatility of the subject pushes the contracts up and down.
   Is Hersh ever going to back the story up?


Are you serious? That's funny. I remember Halfin bringing this up months ago and check the prices periodically. I always wondered how it worked. So this is actually a real futures market played with real money.

As far as Hersh, I have no reason to doubt either him or his sources, I have a tremendous amount of respect for his work. I'm reading his book on Kissinger right now. I just think it comes down to how you fit what people tell him into the whole scheme of things.

Hersh's Kissinger book is wonderful. When you are done look up Hitchens' article in Harper's about Kissinger & the sabotaging of the Vietnam peace talks. The Hitchens article neatly ties up loose ends from my one encounter with Henry K and I completely believe his account.
Sadly in recent years Hitchens has become an alcoholic hack willing to write anything for a check. He was once formidable.
We each have sources that we trust more than other, I guess.  Slate is not high on my list.  I have read Juan Cole's articles, but also several other detailed translations and analysis of Ahmadinejad's speech (the one that's been translated into "wipe Israel off the map"), and these show some rather drastic differences from what the western media has reported.  However, I don't speak the language myself, so I'm vulnerable no matter what when it comes to interpreting.

And regardless, you do not go to war over words.

That said, I do not in any way think Ahmadinejad is some sort of hero - in fact I think the parallels between the fantastical things he supposedly believes (12th imam, etc.) and the crap that Mr. Bush's fanatical religious supporters buy into (end of times, etc.) are amazing.  Add the close set eyes and the bumbling moron routine, and you've almost got twins - except of course that Ahmadinejad was not born into wealth, and it seems from his record that he's not a coward.

Damn!  When it comes to leaders, WTF is wrong with the human race - is this the best we can do?

   Aljazeera translates...
"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," he added, referring to Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini.


 "in fact I think the parallels between the fantastical things he supposedly believes (12th imam, etc.) and the crap that Mr. Bush's fanatical religious supporters buy into (end of times, etc.) are amazing."

You are giving Ahmadinejad the "supposedly" qualifier, while convicting Bush for things a small percentage of religous right wingers believe.  There is no way to identify how many people believe we are in end times but it must be small because no one is behaving so.

"Add the close set eyes and the bumbling moron routine, and you've almost got twins"  Ad hominem very easy but remember both these men are heads of state.  The are smarter than you give them credit. Intelligence and benevolence are not correlated but to toss them aside as stupid underestimates them both.

  "except of course that Ahmadinejad was not born into wealth, and it seems from his record that he's not a coward."  Please qualify Mr. Bush as a coward...I'm interested in your insight.  I see a President who has withstood a storm of criticism holding his ground for what he beleives to be right.  That is the definition of moral courage.

This tranlsation scam is a weak attempt to moderate an extremist.  Whether he meant what he said or was rallying support we must believe him.  If I tell a policeman I have a gun in my jacket and I'm going to kill him, the policeman will draw his weapon.  If I make a sudden move I'll be shot and it will be my own fault.  Iran is posturing and placing themselves, the region and the world in danger.  I pray for a peaceful end but honestlty believe ourselves or Israel will preemptively strike.  

You are right you should not go to war over words.  But a threat combined with a fission bomb are not just words.  They represent Tel Aviv leveled, Chicago uninhabitable.  This is a war of Ideologies and it amazes me how many people forget that.  They are fundamentaly different than us and seek to destroy us. Slowly or all at once.


You and I will never agree politically, as I'm sure you realize. I regard Bush to be every bit as much of an extremist as Ahmadinejad is portrayed to be (and probably is).  I believe that the group of war criminals that run our country now will do what ever they feel they need to achieve their desired ends, and have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they cannot be trusted.  These are people who used similar deionization tactics before attacking Iraq without any actual cause.

The cowardice I referred to was his shameful record of shirking his responsibilities during his stint in the Texas Air National Guard.

And lastly, "They are fundamentally different than us and seek to destroy us."  This is utter crap.  They dream, fear, love, hurt, bleed, and grieve, just like us.  And just like us, they hate.  Just like the commies, huh?  Only it was US who surrounded THEM with missiles.  Did the Soviets ever send a bomber to make a fake bombing run on Washington DC to gauge our defensive reaction?  This old saw was crap then, and it's crap now.  Yes, there are cultural differences, but they are people - virtually identical to us.  

"They dream, fear, love, hurt, bleed, and grieve, just like us."

Yes and the structure of their mitochondria is the same as ours.  Also irrelevent.

Twilight, I have two very close Persian friends who agree with me.  They escaped and were educated here.  Information is not free in that part of the world.  They are not afforded the luxury of the conversations/arguments you and I have.  In Iran if we both posted like this one or both of us would be snatched in the night and disapear forever.  The majority of them are very normal familial people probably not much different than us.  The ruling class has hijacked the uneducated masses and controls all their media outlets.  Now before you draw another comparison to the US our media is influenced by the powerful and our masses are largely uneducated. But not to the degree of the ME.

I was overseas when the whole Airguard thing was in the news and did not pay attention to it. So I won't argue the point until I research it.  

"Did the Soviets ever send a bomber to make a fake bombing run on Washington DC to gauge our defensive reaction?"
No but they put missiles in Cuba...That was a cold war response to Kennedy putting missiles in Europe.  What party did he belong to?

So we won the cold war and avoided nuclear disaster should we throw that experience away and let Iran play with big boy toys? I don't think we should.  I don't expect you to agree with me but when arguing or attacking policy use logic not phallacy to do so.

"an extremist as Ahmadinejad is portrayed to be (and probably is)."

If bush is an extremist he is one with a leash on nuclear weapons. You concede Ahmadinejad is and extremist and he and the other mullahs have no checks and balances.  If they develop weapons they do not need congressional approval they can nuke us or give a weapon to a third party who will.

Again I pray for peace but have little hope left in my heart. Some battles must be fought.  

"The ruling class has hijacked the uneducated masses and controls all their media outlets. "

And that is so vastly different to your own country? Please elaborate.

"... our media is influenced by the powerful ..."

Oh, it seems suspiciously close to a hijacking. Maybe even by the "ruling classes." Is "elite" preferable?

"... and our masses are largely uneducated."

No they're not. You've got the best teevee in the world. Just ask anybody. They'll tell you that. Uneducated? Piffle. Fox and MSNBC and CBS and ABC and Time-Warner? How dare you impinge the character of these august institutions. Whose sole reason is to bring Truth, Justice, and the American Way to the American public for the greater good of not only America but, by God (maybe Allah be praised?), the world.

"But not to the degree of the ME."

Ah, so it's a matter of degree? Sorry, missed that. Bloody ignorant is me.

The simple act of control is not in and of itself sufficient. There must be a specific threshold? Please, for all our sake, can you describe the conditions whereby this degree is exceeded and the "degree of the ME" is reached? Particularly in relation to the US media insofar as they are not yet hijacked, clearly.

By the by, I noticed a shift from Iran to the ME. Does this mean some of those other great nations, so friendly and easy to work with, truly bastions of ME freedom and equality, are guilty of this ruling class hijack thingy too? Say, perhaps, Saudi Arabia? Maybe Egypt? How about the UAE? Does Kuwait count?

"So we won the cold war and avoided nuclear disaster should we throw that experience away and let Iran play with big boy toys? "

Would you be able to describe the Cold War experiences that are directly applicable to the US and Iran? Please feel free to consider Iran does not currently appear to posses any nuclear weapons whatsoever. Please feel free to consider Iran does not currently posses, nor will it ever, the means to deploy such weapons beyond their own region. Please feel free to consider that the US does have nuclear weapons and is able to deploy them long range, by land or sea or air. To any location on the Planet.

It does not appear the key Cold War principle of Mutually Assured Destruction applies in this case. So much for experience then. Guess maybe one's gotta compare like for like, eh?

"If bush is an extremist he is one with a leash on nuclear weapons."

US policy recently devolved the use of tactical nuclear weapons to operational commanders. Doesn't sound like much of a leash to me. Perfect for the CIC though, the policy of nuclear primacy can be asserted and the head of state cannot be held to have directly chosen to strike with these weapons.

Imagine the heat of battle. Imagine a battlefield commander under pressure. Imagine the moment of choice arrives. Conventional or tactical? It's fourth down. 22 yards to go. Thirty seconds left on the clock. On their own 32 yard line. Never had a kicker longer than 52 yards. Go on, you tell us. What happens next?

"Again I pray for peace but have little hope left in my heart."

Best keep praying. Any strike against Iran will employ the nuclear option. After all, it's never left the table.

However, I do agree Iran should not have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Frankly, none of us should. Sadly, that Genie is out of the bottle and I fail to see it ever being returned.

"Some battles must be fought."

Some battles should never begin.

  Your reading comprehension skills are lacking.  You line item quote me then reply with conclusions I have already drawn. Reread my post and pause when you don't understand then review once more.

"It does not appear the key Cold War principle of Mutually Assured Destruction applies in this case. So much for experience then. Guess maybe one's gotta compare like for like, eh?"  NATO operated off more principles than just Mutually Assured destruction.  And Israel is in the region and they are our ally.

Why do you believe a strike must involve our use of nuclear weapons? It seems an arbitrary conclusion.

"Some battles should never begin" correct-removing the possibility of Iran havin nukes prevents a nuke battle from occurring.


They do have conversations like this in Iran. They just don't use their real names when they post online.
"Reread my post and pause when you don't understand then review once more. "

Thank you for the advice. I shall endeavour to do so. Sadly, given my clear predilection towards ignorance, I may fail. Please forgive me in advance if that be the case.

"You line item quote me"

That's odd, I seem to remember that's the way posting has been done for years. From the dark days of mail lists onward. Guess I must be losing my grip. Sorry. (I don't top post either, is that bad?)

"Why do you believe a strike must involve our use of nuclear weapons? It seems an arbitrary conclusion."

Not mine, by any means.



 But then, you already knew that. After all you are very well travelled and have the anecdotes of not just one but two Persian friends to rely upon. Sounds a bit like George relying upon Dick and Don, but never mind.

Anyways, in order to assert Nuclear primacy, the US will have to use nuclear weapons. It really is that simple. Nuclear Primacy forms a part of "Full Spectrum Dominance", a summary of which can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2000/n06022000_20006025.html. But then, an intellect as large as yours with such unfettered access to information, unlike those forced to reside in Iran, clearly knows this already. I apologize in advance for going over old ground.

"... removing the possibility of Iran havin nukes prevents a nuke battle from occurring."

I'm confused. Iran without nukes prevents a nuke battle? Extrapolating, doesn't that mean we need to remove nukes from Israel then? (Even if they are your ally. Although there does seem to be some members of your country who are disputing that notion. But, they're probably just commie-pinko-fascist-anarchist trash. Must live in mobile homes.) And, if that's going to happen, don't we need to remove nukes from India, Pakistan and North Korea? If we're going to go that far, aren't we better off if Russia and China have no such arsenal? That leaves us with with, hmmm... Let me think... Last but not least I think France and Great Britain might need to cough up as well. At last. The world is safe. The only nukes left are yours! You sneaky little daemon. That's been you're plan all along! Why, we should've seen it coming.

Goritsas: Funny stuff.
I have developed an online friend , an Electrical Engineer in Iran.  I am currently editing his resume.

The political situation is not as bad as you state in Iran.  They get to vote for president among several candidates and criticize the regime (within civil limits).

Based on your comment about Kennedy, you seem to think me some kind of apologist for the Democratic Party, which I'm not.  There are differences between traditional American liberals and conservatives, but they are mostly in domestic policy areas.  True, there would be some major differences had the man that was selected by the American people actually taken office in 2000, and we would be in a much better situation now, but that is due to something other than liberal/conservative differences.

The dirty tricks played all around the world to preserve US hegemony have been perpetrated by both Democrats and Republicans alike.  It is only in domestic policy where real differences show up.  Both serve the elite, but the Democrats generally realize that they must give the people something or they will be thrown out, while the Republicans have increasingly tried try to take it all throughout the 20th century.  The Democrats only co-opted the Progressive agenda because they were smart enough to understand the danger they were in - but at least they figured it out.  This is because the Republican Party was taken over by corporatists first.  Now both parties have been co-opted by corporatists, there is very little difference between them.  

I see the step change in our foreign policy since 2000 as a result of the corporatists believing they now have consolidated enough power to be more overt in their aggressive pursuit of profit and power, spurred on by a desperation born of a recognition of the PO/energy depletion issue.  The corporations (and the wealthy elite who run them) are essentially abandoning the US to become "global" entities - they hope to preserve their power and wealth by not having it be tied to any particular nation.  It is possible the corporatists have overestimated their power, and moved too soon - we will see in November.

Anyway, THAT'S what I meant when I said we would never agree politically - not that I'm a D and you're and R, but that I don't buy the whole fairy tale anymore.  And I don't believe Bush has a leash on anything, rather that he wears one.  He's a puppet, a front man.  The corporatists are eliminating check and balances everywhere, and it's not clear to me there are any more left here than in Iran.  It's the greedy and power hungry that are the threat to world peace, as they've been throughout history, and it does not matter if they wear Mullah's garb or pinstriped suits.

Incidently have you read Noam Chomskys "Hegemy or Survival"?

Twilight, I don't expect you to agree with me politically (allthough I agree with you on many scientific points) but criticism of the president or government or military is perfectly acceptable.  I think you take it over the line sometimes with outrageous statements that are pure hyperbole.

We will see in November....see what? All politicians suck basically.

Oh yeah goritas you are a clown. Debate without fallacy and I'll reply otherwise response is worthless.

Well, I'll agree with you there - we really won't see much in November.  We might see if Americans follow the script or not, and how much is left of the electoral system.  If the Democrats manage to take control of the House (despite their best efforts), could see some investigations with slightly more teeth.  But we won't see any fundamental differences, mostly just different pigs at the same trough.  I still think we will be at war with Iran by then, and the Democrats won't have enough guts to impeach a President during war.
Twilight:In your opinion, why is it so difficult for most Americans to understand the setup? It appears very transparent.
I dunno - willful ignorance, poor education and no sense of history, refusing to accept that democracy infers a responsibility to stay informed and that staying informed takes effort, subjugation of the media making it too hard to stay informed, "Greed is good" philosophy (I was taught in school that democracy and capitalism were pretty much the same thing & that our highest duty was to selfishly pursue our own interests).

Maybe we've just grown complacent - how many of us are aware of the alternatives?  So much of human history is made up of constant warfare - battle after battle as one King or warlord after another struggles for power and control, with the masses just pawns.  The USA has been a wonderful experiment, warts and all - an attempt at something better.  But most Americans think it's the natural way of things and that it could never be otherwise - it's all they know, and yet they don't really even know how it works.

A cynical view would be that it was never really set up for the common man anyway - the new money in the new world didn't feel constrained by the old aristocracy.  The freedoms and rights were really the freedom to be rich and powerful based only on money, and not on heredity.  I think there is more to it than that, but regardless, now it is reverting back to the old ways, as the paths to real power are now based more on birthright, laws are for the commoners, and the rags-to-riches story is mostly myth - unless one is willing to give complete allegiance to someone already powerful.

willful ignorance ... no sense of history, ...

One of the politicians on CSPAN --and it really doesn't matter who, whether type-D or type-R, can't honestly remember-- was giving an apologist speech; explaining why progressive program X, Y or Z could not be supported now because of our special other needs in "this time of war."

That got me thinking.

When in the last 60 years has America NOT BEEN "at war"?

Was it in that brief interlude between Afghanistan and Iraq that US military men said, gee we've got nothing to do, that went too well, mission accomplished too fast? Was it then that they found the new "high priority" target to attack? When were we last not "at war"?

Why do you limit it to 60 years?  How about since the Civil War?  
Good point.
Here is an interesting site that tries to list all the American wars.  1983 in Greneda --now that was a glorious year.
Clearly, deionization should have been demonization - damn spell checker!
Medic: You are right. Unless everyone follows BCR blindly, THE TERRORISTS WILL HAVE WON.
  Thank you for your support/sarcasm.  Read my posts did I say to follow BCR blindly? I think discussion and criticism of Bush and any other leader is a wonderful part of democracy.  Without it we would be....In Iran or other totalitarian regime.  As far as the Terrorists winning they may already have.  If we change to much about america fighting the real/percieved threat to the point we are not the same country then they have won.  I don't want that to happen.

My support of Bush is neither blind nor unwaivering.  I read the works of his critics and I disagree with many of his decisions.  I do think him a better president still than Kerry, but would be happy to see Mcain or Clark succeed him.

Thank you for your carefully scripted straw man.


Supporters of BCR always want to compare the USA to Iran, Iraq, Cuba, etc.etc. Talk about lowering the bar. Before your guy got elected the USA was considered a world leader. Now the response is always "at least we can still criticize him, not like in Iran".  
Unless we kill all of them, they will make Chicago "uninhabitable". I wasn't aware "they" were living in Chicago.
  I assume you are a man not 1million monkeys randomly typing.  Read my post and argue my points. I never said:"Unless we kill all of them"  
My reference to Chicago is a nuclear weapon attack in a large city.  Build a straw man and knock him down. Learn to debate.
Medic: Your recent posts have been so absurd that they invited levity. Thanks for the comparison to Bill Shakespeare.
Oil CEO,

I really like Hitchens - his mind is excellent.

I see a scenario with a blockade of the Iranian coast to shut down shipping traffic, especially tankers taking refined oil products into Iran. A Cuban Blockade like under JFK, but with a lot of holes in it. The fact, (and please, if I am wrong on this please let me know - it is hard to believe that the crazy Mullahs do not have ANY refineries) that they do not refine gasoline in Iran is absolutely nuts. Gasoline will still get into Iran but not enough for their economy to do anything but sputter.

That course would be a good middle ground to bring pain to the Iranian economy with its double digit unemployment rate (especially high with the young). Apparently this past week the Gulf States signed on to the "let us do regime change in Iran" scenario.

Money is still leaving Iran in big bundles to safe havens.

Why would anybody want to do something like this?
So who's going to get your precious embargo through the SC?
Hitchens is a worn out old prostitute from a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. Good luck with a guru like that.
You have it backwards Jack. Shutting down shipping hurts us more than it hurts them. We need the crude that comes out. They can suck eggs longer than we can. Anyway Iran controls the straits. They very literally hold the high ground.
Someone may have sent out some press release recently to please the Bush team but there is no conceivable reason for the Gulf emirates to mess with the status quo vis-a-vis Iran. And they can't.

I suspect that if we take any action other than simply words that Iran will cut off oil supplies. Clearly any real and firm action against Iran's govt., by us/USA or Israel, will hurt us. Iran may already be taking action if the figures I have seen the last two days on TOD are correct about reduced flow of oil in/from Iran.

Speculation is that within 70 days Iran would be seeing a major crunch on her economy with refined oil products impaired.

But the most important aspect to a naval blockade, which we/USA are good at, is that we do not have to use the bombing card.

If you figure Bush has to do SOMETHING, well, this course looks like the best. Ex-CIA chief James Woolsey also has come out for a blockade. Beats an invasion or bombing.

The Abbas Bakhtiar article is great.  It appears in a number of sites other than al-Jazeera.  

As far as corn-based ethanol goes, to me the most convincing argument against it is a moral one.  Converting food to motor gasoline is wrong!  The corn that burns in our SUV engines could feed many starving families around the world.  

I agree in general, but the problem is also as old as agriculture.  Even if you aren't redirecting "food" crops, there has always been the option to plant "industrial" crops in their place.

Hippies want to grow hemp for fibre and fuel(*) ... whoops, did we just displace some food crops?

* - I think hemp is a pretty good crop for this, but it's fun to call them hippies just the same.

It's more fun to be a hippie.


There is plenty of food to feed everyone. But instead, we feed it (about 70%) to animals. The rich demand meat; the poor demand nothing (in the economic sense of the word) so they starve.

I am no Christian but the USA claims to be, the city on the hill. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink" - Matt 25 v40-41 KJV

Population growth is a problem. As an example, Somalia is one of the poorest countries ($600 GDP per capita). The average woman bears 6.76 children. Globally, people are reproducing without the ability to take care of their offspring.  
Some (paraphrased) questions/comments, regarding Hugo Chavez, by Fox News talking head at about 11:30 A.M. Central Time:

Do you think that Chavez is using oil as a new weapon of mass destruction against the US?

Are there any connections between al Qaeda and Chavez?

It seems to me that we have to do something about Chavez before Venezuela becomes something like Iran.

News Item:  

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 2:00 p.m. CT May 15, 2006
WASHINGTON - The United States is imposing a ban on weapons sales to Venezuela because of what it claims is a lack of support by President Hugo Chavez's leftist government on counterterrorism efforts, the State Department said Monday.

The US refuses to learn from its failures.  The cult of self-righteous interference in foreign affairs is just too strong.  The US already cleansed South America of "leftists" by installing an propping up death squad junta regimes and now twenty-thirty years later things have reverted back to the natural indigenous evolution of those countries.  The clowns at Fox News and the neocon regime that runs the US don't understand that there aren't enough soldiers in the US to invade and control the middle east, Latin America, central Asia and anywhere else so-called "national insterests" are involved.
It seems the new US definition of "weapon of mass destruction" is "anything whatsoever on earth which might have unpleasant consequences for me".
Why not? "Terrorist" has become anyone who steps out of line in any way.
I wonder if an exporter's decision to sell their oil for Euros is now considered--by the Neocons--the equivalent of the use of a WMD against the US?

Venezuela may price oil exports in euros


Venezuela may consider pricing its oil in euros following Iran's declaration that it is contemplating adopting the European Union's single currency in place of the U.S. dollar to price its oil exports, President Hugo Chavez said yesterday. "That is an interesting proposal made by the President of Iran," he told Britain's Channel 4 news. "We are free to choose, too, between the dollar and the euro. I think the European Union has made a large contribution with the euro." He added, "So what the President of Iran says . . . is recognizing the power of Europe -- they have succeeded in integrating and have a single currency competing with the dollar, and Venezuela might also consider that -- we are free to do that."

It's certainly not original thinking on my part, but I have frequently predicted that exporters are going to start openly questioning the wisdom of taking dollars in exchange for their increasingly valuable oil, in addition to rethinking the wisdom of ramping up their production in order to meet  insatiable demand in China and the US.  

If the exporters can't meet the demand in both countries, which country has more things of value to offer the exporters--China or the US?  We make pretty good airplanes and some other things, but look at how much of our manufacturing capability has been shipped to China.    What are we going to trade for oil?  Huge McMansions?  Starbucks stores?  

It looks increasingly like BCR (Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld) are sending a simple message.  The US doesn't make much of value any more, but continue to give us oil in exchange for dollars, or you will find out if we make good nuclear weapons.

Westexas: Just to add to your analysis: the USA is 4X more vulnerable to rising oil prices than China is. The USA is importing 3 times the oil China is yet the USA economy is only 50% larger. Japan is also in a very bad spot re the oil import bill/GDP ratio.    
Actually while true, I disagree. The US has WAY more fat on the system than China - if we had to drop oil consumption by 1/3 we could collectively tighten our belts (work from home 1 day a week, carpool, grow veggies, etc). China dropping by a third would cripple their new infrastructure. We consume alot more-by definition we waste alot more.
I think the other interesting wrinkle on this one is that in the US you have, I believe, very low taxes on fuel. So, increases in the price of crude result in relatively large increases in the price fuel. Consumers in european countries with high fuel taxes won't feel as much pain as fast when crude prices increase.
Unless the current trend reverses, the US public will be forced to cut back while China uses more oil.As China's GDP can grow at a lower volume of imported oil, the forecast would be for US GDP to decline while China's grows, causing further declines in US imports of oil.
Bob Dylan mentioned the industrial malaise in America in his song Union Sundown. (Infidels, 1983)

http://www.bobdylan.com/songs/union.html  (lyrics)

1983...profits over prophets, everytime.

Better batteries for hybrids?

Last fall, Watertown, MA-based startup A123 Systems announced that its advanced lithium-ion batteries would make rechargeable circular saws and drills more powerful than plug-in tools (see "More Powerful Batteries"). The company, having delivered on its promise (the tools will be available at The Home Depot this weekend), has now built a battery pack that Ric Fulop, one of the company's founders and its vice president of marketing and business development, says could make hybrid vehicles cheaper and more convenient, while maintaining or improving performance.

The new hybrid battery pack was unveiled this week at the Advanced Automotive Battery and Ultracapacitor Conference in Baltimore. It could be appearing in vehicles within three years, Fulop says. The pack weighs about as much as a small laptop computer, yet fits into a case smaller than a carton of cigarettes. Ten of them would replace the 45-kilogram battery in the Prius, Fulop says; and if one failed, the consumer could continue to drive the car using the remaining batteries, then replace the faulty one as easily as changing the battery on a rechargeable tool.

For those who still don't believe things are different this time, I suggest an instructive exercise.
Look at historical figures for total world oil supply, after taking out supply from USA, USSR (and its successor states) and OPEC.
Why do this? Because those producers have been the distorters of the geological trend line, with Texas quotas, Russia's collapse of the 90s and OPEC bringing production on and off the market.
You'll see a remarkably smooth curve.
7,4mb in 1970, 14mb in 180, 21mb in 1990, 27,3mb in 1996. But now only 30mb, and flat the last couple of years.
That's geology talking to you.
And you can't like what it's saying.
I've been a reader of TOD since its inception and figured I'd put something out for anyone interested here.
Even though there's an ideological resistance to the following, I thought I'd put this here in case anyone wants to check it out.
I found on the internet a documentary from several years ago called "The Race to Zero Point".  Downlaoded it and watched it.  I had been very skeptical of the claims about zero point energy as a viable concept (much less as a viable future alternative suitable for exploration) but after watching the video, I'm not quite as rigid in my skepticism.
It can be downloaded here (wmv format)
(right click and save)
Much of it deals with inventions and prototypes that address greater energy efficiency rather than "zero point energy".  Some of the work being done on the efficiency side seems rather impressive while some seems questionable.
The Casimer Effect and the Hutchison Effect are also addressed...with Hutchison demonstrations included.
Discussions by physicists with apparently impressive credentials are included.  The work of several well-known theoretical physicists is also presented.

I realize that if peak oil/liquids comes sooner than later, very little of what's shown in the documentary will be implemented on any scale that makes a difference but I was wondering what others here think of this documentary.
It's nearly 2 hours long and many people have time constraints but I think there's a lot in it that needs some thought.....more than I had once believed.

Of course the forces that hold together matter are some of the strongest in the world. But engineering is different than physics and math.

Talking about people that abuse the technical field, General Hayden of NSA and CIA fame is one of the worst offenders I have seen in a long time.  The guy throws around science jargon like he knows what he is talking about but appears to be a big phony. He has a history degree.

During the hearings, Orrin Hatch asked him whether 9/11 would have been prevented had eavesdropping been in place:

HAYDEN: I've said publicly -- and I can demonstrate in closed session, how the physics and the math would work, Senator -- that had this been in place prior to the attacks, the two hijackers who were in San Diego, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, almost certainly would have been identified as who they were, what they were and, most importantly, where they were.

How the physics and math would work?  What kind of idiocy is that? Since free energy is all physics and math, I think we should put Hayden in charge of the DOE instead.
That "physics" remark struck me as strange as well.

"Physics" in snooping should be limited to wireless signals and their dispertion.  It certainly mattered back when we were putting satellites out in space coordinated with the extended line of sight from soviet land-based microwave tower.

I guess if I were going to get all paranoid here, I could suggest that "physics" matter when they track our by-the-second position through our cell phones.

(Given cell-phone bomb detonation, maybe not a bad idea with a warrant.)

It's not worth analyzing Hayden's appointment very much - do you really think he was selected because he's a towering example of cometance and skill, rather than because he's useful stooge willing to prostitute himself for the administration?
Was he greebling his Queeg-balls and muttering about "geometric logic"?
When you speak of the forces that hold matter together...that would be nuclear physics.  The physics and math of that have yielded nuclear power plants.
The non sequiter nature of the rest of your response leads me just to say that I was asking for opinions on the material in the documentary.  You'd have to sorta watch it to actually respond so if you do watch it and respond in a sequiter manner...tia.
I have had a look at Vacuum Energy Density aka Zero Point Energy.

I have a link here on one view :-

Current theories give five possibilities for the vacuum energy density. It is:

  1. infinite
  2. very large
  3. indeterminate
  4. very small
  5. zero
 I think it is okay if you are fighting the Wraith in another galaxy, but my reading is that if it was feasible to extract energy from, then the universe would be substanially different. Perhaps Stuart Staniford might like to add his considerable physics knowledge to a Zero Point energy view.
You don't really need any of that wacky alternative stuff to have tremendous sources of energy.

This is mainstream physics:
All the relationships and reactions are known. Just a matter of engineering...

For that matter, ordinary photovoltaic power from the sun would work. But we'd be better off if we'd heeded Jimmy Carter's advice and installed it 25 years ago.

Nuclear fusion is a wonderful source of power, and that is the direction we need to head, no doubt about it.  Unfortunately, the current direction of research on this subject is hopelessly misguided.  We are building bigger and bigger devices for more and more money with no proof that they will even be cost-effective.  There are alternative approaches, which unfortunately not being tested.  In particular, low energy nuclear reactions and electrostatic confinement fusion deserve a good deal more attention then they are currently getting.  Check out the articles on wikipedia under fusor and cold fusion.  
Fusion has its own problems:
  • Converting useful H into useless He: what will the effect on the ecosystem be over time?
  • Heat pollution: How much does it add to climate change?
  • No paradigm change: without limits to growth, it will buy us a few more decades at best.
He is an inert gas and the "exhaust" would be many orders of magnitude smaller than CO2

Heat radiates of at night as long as GHG don't keep it in.

There is virtually limitless fuel in the ocean.

The first two are non-issues:

  • He is fact bloody useful stuff http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium , and in short supply. It would have precisely zero ecosystemic impact because it is chemically inert and rapidly escapes into space.

  • at current and forseeable levels this is negligible. The impacts that we have on the world and its ecosystems are essentially catalytic ones. We don't add anything to the heat balance

Your third comment has merit - we need to get to an equilibrium somehow. Fusion might be able to help. As far as I'm concerned, all options should be on the table, including technical (partial) solutions.
Fusion is the power source of the future.....and always will be.
Parts of the link seem to have been cut-and-pasted from
If any layman interested in physics and maths does not know John Baez's site, you have a lot to look forward to.
Hello from an honours grad of Caltech. My favourite quote is from my old physics professor, Nobel Laurate Murray Gell-Mann. In the 1990s he was responding to the nonsense about ZPE.  A reporter asked him about the wild asssertion that there is enough ZPE in the volume of a coffee cup to boil all the Earth's oceans.  Gell-Mann replied that there wasn't enough ZPE in the volume of the earth to boil a cup of coffee.

We know this because of the results of COBE and WMAP.  Our universe is geometrically flat.  This requires ZPE to be very low, in fact a factor of a google lower than the obviously wrong prediction of quantum theory.

Well, someday we'll find out, won't we? I love science. If you can pose a question in physics, someday somebody will answer it. You might not like the answer, though.
You don't know by any chance where a person could down load that link at a faster link than the one you posted.
or maybe even get it on a disk.  I started downloading it and realized it would take 5 hours to down load, @ 30 KB/S.  I tried watching it play while it downloaded, and with 3 or 4 seconds of play time and then 3 or 4 seconds of download, makes for a miserable watch.   Looks like it did have some good points in it from the portion that I did watch, and think I would like to watch the whole thing.
old hermit,
That's the only place I know of.  It took 40 mins to download for me so it didn't tax my patience too much.
Maybe you could download it overnight while sleeping.
I found it here:
Most of it deals with technologies for increased efficiencies that don't seem to be getting much attention  rather than zero point.  I think they could have chosen a better title but the content is definitely interesting.
The point is made that in Japan, where there is no internal "big oil" machine, there is likely to be more progress made and once the technologies discussed are rolled out from there, they should spread very rapidly.  
For the R&D effort to take hold here in the US instead of somewhere else, Big Energy would have to realize the macro status quo won't work and decide to put real money into it.  Then the grad students will gravitate to that R&D money.  
But, like I first said, time to peak oil is a big factor in how much any of it will make an appreciable difference.
Somehow, and who can really explain the mind/mouse approach to clicking hyperlinks, I ended up downloading the following media file:


Very interesting 3 hour long (412mb wmv, reasonable fullscreen quality) presentation by a gentleman I'd never heard of before. I actually started off listening to the audio file but a couple of minutes into his speech I decided it was a must to  see him speaking.

I'd like to recommend a fabulous read for today. It's from BigGav's blog at http://peakenergy.blogspot.com/2006/05/day-of-doombats.html

Scroll down to where he quotes from "It's the End of the World as We Know It...", to get a fresh perspective on whole TEOTWAWKI thang.

My favorite section from the above is:

"...somehow, after moving to San Francisco, one of the richest, most exquisitely situated cities on the continent, a place always dreamily eyeing a cornucopian future of infinitely expanding economic and technological horizons, I started to find myself thinking about collapse quite a lot. ... There is definitely something about California that encourages apocalyptic thinking. Perhaps this is because it's the endpoint of westward expansion, forever: there are no more frontiers, no more territories to conquer; and the imperialist Euro-American psyche is forced to confront its limits, personal and political, to gaze at other civilizations not merely gazing back from across the border or the ocean, but claiming rights and pushing back, interpenetrating. The decline of the West begins here..."

Another great quote:

"...western materialism also bought into straight-line fever. The foundational capitalist value, "growth," is wholly and factitiously linear. Economic growth is slowly revealing itself to be as empty a promise as the shelves of a 1980s Moscow supermarket. Indeed, the psychotic party-on mentality of infinite growth has the potential, in the U.S. particularly, as it further unhinges capital from either moral or fiscal responsibility, of making Soviet Russia's economic and imperial collapse look like the proverbial Sunday picnic. But for now the party continues, with ever fewer invitees and more onlookers, and with nature still carrying it all on her back, although beginning to show ominous signs of fatigue."

"the psychotic party-on mentality of infinite growth"


having a cybernetic organism sent back from the future to destroy humanity as our governor doesn't help the situation.



We are leaders or followers.

We hear what we want to hear, and disregard the rest.

However, when we don't know, or are not sure - things are up for grabs.

Vested interests, convincing argument, statistics, interpretations of the past, exagerration, tautology.  Politics.  Intellect or Occam's...

Anonymity.  Powerlessness.

Discussing our energy future - it strikes me how intrigued, how interested we all are.  

As has been said before some relish PO, some fear it.

Whatever and whenever it is, sure as shit, it will be a great excuse.

I noticed a few news stories today in my local paper:

Clergy Praying for cheaper gas.  If gas prices come down, you can thank God--but maybe you also should add a word of thanks to a large group of ministers.
   Clergy around the country have joined on (888)-PRAYLIVE to pray for a reduction in gas prices.
   Actually, the prayers have been two-fold: praying for each individual and family to come up with their own energy conservation plan and for the nation as a whole to find options to preserve fuel resources.
   "Many are talking about the rising gas and energy prices and overlooking the power of prayer when it comes to resolving this energy crisis," said a story posted on the Christian Newswire.
    "It is our hope that drawing attention to the energy crisis in this way, and being accountable to God for the amount of fuel each individual spends, will be the first step toward developing a consciousness of energy sharing instead of energy zapping within the hearts of Americans," said Wenda Royster, founder of www.praylive.com.


Midamerican buys Wyoming coal land.  An energy company controlled by Bershire Hathaway has bought 8,500 acres of coal rich land in Johnson County, Syo., with the intent of establishing power generation projects.
   The land purchased by Iowa based MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. is situated between Buffalo and the southern end of Lake DeSmet.
   Mid American CEO David Sokol said the Johnson County property is part of MidAmerican's long-term plan to meet energy needs in the West.  Sokol said MidAmerican intends to invest in ultralow emissions coal technology.

Note that Berkshire Hathaway owns all of MidAmerican Energy, an energy company which supplies 6.7 million gas and electricity customers in the US and UK, and also owns wind generators in Iowa.  Sokol, it's CEO, is a potential replacement for Warren Buffet, someday.  Berkshire also recently added to its holdings of ConocoPhillips, and bought GE (an energy play, also?)

And, US Sen Tom Harkin, D-Iowa introduced new legislation this week...

Harkin:  Automakers in driver's seat on ethanol.  ...The legislation would require that nearly every new vehicle sold in the United States within 10 years be capable of using E-85.  Only about 2 percent of vehicles currently can operate on E-85.
   Harkin's proposal also includes requiring major oil companies to install pumps to offer 85 percent blended ethanol, increasing by 5 percent a year until 25 percent of stations offer E-85 within a decade.

Another recent proposal was by Nebraska representative Jeff Fortenberry to subsidize filling stations $35,000 each to install E85 tanks.

"Clergy Praying for cheaper gas.  If gas prices come down, you can thank God--but maybe you also should add a word of thanks to a large group of ministers."

I have some prime ocean-front property in Kansas these people can buy at a deep discount. Personal circumstances force me to fire sale it.

  It is a bit silly to pray for lower gas prices, but if you read the whole quote, the clergymen were trying to raise issues on energy and the earth in a forum that probably needs it.  There are many positive messages in christianity (and Islam) about stewardship. Whether god gave us this earth or a freak coincidence of nature does not matter.  It is still the only planet we have and we need to take care of it.  Peak oilers and enviornementalists can't pressume ownership of this issue we need everyone to innitiate change.  If a fraction of a percent of academics adapt we all still lose.  

God does not play dice and I don't think he owns futures in crude oil either.


And Bohr and Fermi replied to the effect...

Albert, stop telling God what to do! OR You leave Gods dice alone!

And a couple more quotes from Fermi (from Wikipedia)

There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery.

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

"There are many positive messages in christianity (and Islam) about stewardship."

Unfortunately, the "Christians" who get all the media coverage and seemingly have all the political clout these days view the earth as little more than a disposable camera to be used up before they are air-vaced out in the Rapture.

I started a discussion group on my site for David Korten's new book, The Great Turning. He tells of hearing a woman on a call-in show reveal that she "sees her time on Earth as nothing more than a brief layover in a cheap hotel."

"God does not play dice and I don't think he owns futures in crude oil either."

I'm not a doomer...but what if they are right? What if billions die this century? How will you feel about your god then?

Hello Karavans,

Your last statement:
I'm not a doomer...but what if they are right? What if billions die this century? How will you feel about your god then?
God, Mother Nature, Buddha, Allah, Gaia, etc ... take your pick... are too busy creating infinite numbers of infinite universes to pay any attention to 6.5 billion self-absorbed monkeys.  If we terminally screw up this precious little blue marble floating in the vast darkness-- we only have ourselves to blame.

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

I feel very fortunate to have been born on this outrageously beautiful little planet, and have also believed that the responsibility of caring for it and its inhabitants was the most a person could do.

It's taken me a long time to realize that I'm in a definite minority on this point of view ...

Unfortunately, an even larger group of the religiously devote believe that God created the earth as a personal paradise for man to enjoy, to rule ("have dominion over", Gen 1:26), and exploit as their own garden.  
These same naive morons tend to be cornicopians, overpopulating, polluting the air and water, raping the land, driving species to extinction, and then expecting more to be delivered via 'divine providence'.
Forgive them. They know not what they are.
I'm not sure if anybody has made this point succinctly; if ethanol is strongly coupled to oil inputs and that share of inputs remains the same when oil output nosedives then ethanol output will most likely decline, not increase Also when ethanol is included in all-liquids data there is double counting of the slightly lower volume of oil used in ethanol dedicated fertiliser, farm fuel etc though perhaps with a time lag. I'm wondering if BTL (biomass to liquids) got the same breaks as ethanol it would be more advanced.
Your second point is an important one and Ive been saying this since I started posting here. If world all liquids production rises next year to 86 mbpd from 85 mbpd (for example), and we get 1 mbpd equivalent in ethanol, and ethanol is in truth an energy loser (for this example), then we needed more than 1 mbpd of the 85 to increase to 86, so the net to society is actually less than the 85 we get this year.

In other words, the 'grossing up' of the total amount produced is not whats relevant: whats LEFT over to non-energy society is what drives our currrent system. This could be (one) reason why EIA numbers still increase yet oil prices will increase more.

This is a good point. Prices increases for energy will cause demand decreases by consumers, but the energy producers will increase their energy consumption. The amount of energy the producers need to invest depends on the EROEI on the remaining resources. Government subsidies for low ERORI sources increases energy consumption compared to the free market solution. The government should focus its power on energy conservation.
I agree with you, Sasquatch. Subsidizing ethanol is a bad idea, in many ways. In Europe the original idea of gasoline tax was to make the road transport pay ALL of its costs. The tax revenue has been used to pay for road building and maintenance, highway police, safe driving campaigns, accident costs etc.

Ethanol users must also bear their share of these costs - they use the roads as all others. In effect, the European gasoline taxes are a market solution - the road users pay a fair price in concurrence with other transport forms. Road transport causes noise and pollution and uses land, too. All these must be taken in account. We might look it this way: low gasoline taxes mean subsidies for driving. In the US, low gasoline prices are clearly a remnant from those days when the US was an oil exporter - subsidized gas is typical for oil exporting countries. The US transport and energy policy is a relic from a bygone time.